If you would like to share your travel tales with us........


U.S.Tiger on the Trail

In April of 2000, my wife Bonnie (is that a perfect name, or what?) and I bought a 78 Tiger on ebay. It was sold by a shop in Tucson, Arizona where the idiom was decidedly more Oriental. In fact it is a wrecking yard for Japanese bikes. This 750 had been sitting for years after a minor accident had taken it off the road after only a few thousand miles. The owner died and his widow sold it to Neil Weismuller at Cycle-Recycle. Having spent it's life in the dessicated Arizona desert, it was absolutely rust free, nearly perefect, except for the minor accident damage and a really bad repaint of the tank. I bought a new rim, rubber bits and the parts to install a second disc up front. I bought, again from an ebay auction, a large 71 tank that was beautifully painted and had the emblems. There are some long stretches of absolutely nothing in the American Southwest. We spent a week in Tucson getting the Tiger up for it's jaunt to Lake Tahoe via the Southern California coast. There were some hurdles and unexpected problems, but with Neil's support and help, we got everything done by mid-July and early on a bright desert morning, Bonnie and I set out to see what there was to see. As we live in Hawaii, this was to be the longest trip either of us had made on a motorcycle. Our first stop was in Scottsdale, a suburb on the North side of the huge city of Phoenix. It was a comfortable 3 hour drive on flat highways to get there from Tucson. Bonnie has a friend of many years whom we stayed with for that night and the next day and night. We toured the city, cooked some of our favorite food for our host and got a good couple of nights' rest. Again on an impossibly clear and warm morning, we set out for a ranch just outside of a small town in Northern Arizona where I had spent my 16th year as a companion for an ill friend. Dan and I had been friends when his family lived here in Honolulu, on a boat at the Ala Wai harbor. His mother married a wealthy man she had known as a young lady and the family moved to his substantial cattle ranch in Skull Valley, Arizona. Soon after, Dan became very ill as his kidneys went into failure after an infection believed to have been caused by his drinking bad water while hiking in the desert. He lived on the ranch, a long way from other friends and couldn't be as active as he wanted, and so the family imported me from Hawaii to keep him company. Great time for me. We crossed the desert pan to the Mogollon Rim, where the upthrust of the Northern half of Arizona is clearly visible. It is a long, steep pull up several thousand feet while the temperature moderates steadily. Now we were in the rolling dales and tumbled ancient granite boulders of the Central portion of Arizona. Still dry, but cooler. We made it to Skull Valley by mid-morning and were able to see Dan's father for an hour or so. Dan lives in Oregon now. We fueled up and headed to Arizona's former capitol, Prescott, for lunch. I had attended Prescott High School during the year I spent there, 67-68, and it had not changed dramatically. But then they try to keep it old looking to attract the visitors. It works. We had lunch in one of the old hotels' dining rooms, lounged in the town square for a bit, answering questions of other bikers curious about the age of the bike (and the riders, we are not kids!). Then off again, into a gathering grayness to the North. Rain? In Arizona? In July? It held off except for a light 10 minute drizzle and we pulled into a providentially located gas station and convenience store. Bike tanked up and some snacks in the pockets, we pushed on toward Cottonwood, where Bonnie has a sister and a neice. The sister was camping with her husband in Utah, but Marta in residence and made us most welcome. Overnighted there and left early the next morning, with some cheese rounds and small bottles of wine Marta thoughtfully provided. This part of the ride was spectacular, as it took us through the former mining and then ghost town of Jerome. All the buildings are perched on hillsides, flat ground being almost unknown. Now it is a toney visitors' destination, the 60s hippies that inhabited it, living in worse conditions than the residents of a hundred years ago, gone. As we hit the crest, the highest point the road makes, we pulled over and had wine and cheese, stretched out on our jackets, under tall pines. The smell of the trees and the warmed rocks was heady. >From there the road ambled down through the canyon, alongside Oak Creek. It was a dry time and there wasn't much water flowing. Still beautiful. We reached Flagstaff, home of Northern Arizona University, by noon. I checked with a local shop, hoping to find a banjo bolt with a bleeder valve to simplify the hassle of bleeding off the excess pressure from the rear hydraulic system. We had the rear brake dragging occasionally for the whole trip. Twice or three times a day, we cracked the bolt to fix the drag. Next stop was Ash Fork for lunch in a little dusty diner. I had had a giant crush on a girl, a stunning green-eye redhead who lived in Ash Fork those many years ago. Her hair was actually auburn, the color of a roan horse. Fabulous! I am sure she moved on, as there is nothing in Ash Fork to hold a young beauty. That day saw us making Kingman by midafternoon, still no luck finding that banjo bolt. By this time, it was HOT. We burned into the desert hoping to make it to Lake Havasu by evening. Bonnie has another neice there, Marta's sister, Monica. Opposite the Ford/Harley Davidson proving ground (where they torture cars and motorcyles) is a little bar and resturant. We saw it from a distance and knew we had to stop. As we pulled up to this dusty light blue painted tavern, sitting forlornly in the vast, blazing desert, we had a great laugh. It was named the Honolulu Club. The beer was cold and we left refreshed and ready for the last couple of hours of riding in nature's oven. Made Havasu City at 5 o'clock, and by sheer luck a resturant with a tropical/Hawaiian motif. We were on a roll. Several beers and some pupus (snacks) later, we felt refreshed. Bonnie went to the payphone on the lake (sunny) side of the bar, grabbed the handset and yelped. The phone was too hot to touch, and it was INSIDE the bar. We got through to Monica, and amazingly she lived only 2 blocks from our choice of oases. We spent a thoroughly enjoyable night there, the bike got prestige parking next to the pool table in the large garage. The weather is so dry, that Monica uses the garage as a recreation room, and parks the car in the drive fronting the house. Another beautiful early morning start, and we were off to make our way into California. I thought I missed a turn and backtracked, only to find that I hadn't gone far enough. Back again and finally I found Parker, on the California/Arizona border. We rolled through the still sleeping town, crossed the Rio Grande and headed into the depths of the Mojave Desert. Things looked promising, it still was pretty cool, even though I was behind schedule due to the backtracking. I wanted to make Desert Center by 10:30 AM, ride out the heat of the day in a motel and maybe push on to Indio in the evening. In the middle, I mean the middle of absolutely nowhere I noted that the oil light was flickering. Yep. Running nearly out of oil. I slowed to a crawl.....35 mph in California is a crawl. I stopped at a call box and rummaged in the saddlebags for oil. None. I considered draining the forks and some of the (deliberately) overfilled gearbox to get a last gasp of lubricaton, but gave up on that idea. Used the callbox to find out that we were 50 miles from anywhere that had oil. The fee to deliver 3 quarts would be $200. Plus the cost of the oil. There is the classic scene, British bike pulled over, seat up, people standing with sign scrawled on a discarded beer carton: "OIL?" Not outta gas, outta oil. Sheesh. You would think I would learn. All the vehicles that passed were nice, new, airconditioned, and not stopping. Finally a motorhome pulled over, but it was new and the owner saw no reason to carry his own oil. Nice people, though. I kept hoping for an old beater to come by, the kind of car or truck that always has two or three partially used containers of oil lurking in it somewhere. After 15 minutes, a truck that belonged to the local water authority pulled up. Nice guy, but no oil in the truck. He said he would go to the pump house and get some, that it would take 45 minutes, or so. Things were looking up. So was the temperature. We kept up with the sign, nobody stopped. Another water authority truck pulled up. Same deal, two guys this time and still no oil. We told them that one of their number was on a mission to save us, so they relaxed and talked. They DID have a large cooler full of ice water. We drank a lot, more dehydrated than we knew. They left and presently the first guy came back, gave us 3 quarts of good quality oil of almost the right viscosity (like I was going to complain?) and wouldn't take a nickel, not even for the oil. This kind of treatment was pretty much the norm for the whole trip. I have a much improved view of mankind after a couple of weeks on the road. Finally, Desert Center! Respite! Not! I couldn't know from looking at the map that Desert Center is just a gas station, a diner, a small unprosperous store, and a place for the UPS trucks to trade trailers. No Motel 6 to flop in and shower off. We ate in the diner, topped up at the gas station, and in the staggering heat of early afternoon, jammed on into Indio, another 60 miles. It was like riding with a hair dryer going full on into your face. I wore a bandana over my chin, mouth, and nose, and Bonnie would saturate it with water every few minutes. That helped a lot. Got to Indio and found a motel, checked in, then walked to the convenience store and Mexican fast food joints next door. Came back with a 6 pack, ice, and a big bag of tacos and burritos. Plenty of hot sauce. For some reason, it works in a hot climate. Well, we couldn't get the entry card to open the door. The manager on duty couldn't get it to work, either, so while he called his supervisor, we sat on the temperature enhanced walkway, eating and drinking and enjoying the sinking sun. It slowly cooled. I was getting slowly hotter, so I cornered the manager and told him I wanted an air conditioned room asap and to step on it. I am 6'4" and 200 pounds and was at the time pretty grubby and redfaced from the afternoon's ordeal. We had a room in 5 minutes, a locksmith got our stuff out of our former room, and they gave a discount and an apology. By now, the Tiger is smoking. It had been lightly smoking since I first fired it up in Tucson. I hoped it was because it sat for a long time and maybe one of the oil rings was a little gummy. Ever the optomist. That was where the oil had gone, coupled with a small leak from one of the rocker shaft ends. Now there were clouds of smoke and I knew that a top end was due. The debacle in the desert the day before had finished off the already damaged left piston. We headed into the cool morning, past thousands of windmills, into Riverside county, where resides Bill Getty, his wife Marla, and trusty sidekick and parts guy, John. They run JRC Engineering, suppliers of quality British motorcycle parts to many businesses, mine included. They welcomed us warmly, as we had been in touch before our trip and had an invitation. They didn't know we would come as supplicants. I will leave off here, as there are things to do and people to answer. The second installment will have to come later. Aloha, Kimo Weaver. Honolulu, May, 2001

Bonneville in Morocco

This story starts some time ago, so excuse me if I cannot remember everything exactly, or at all. This happened in summer – 88, we have a plan with my friend to take a trip around Europe, first to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, France, stay a while in Paris, then to Spain, from Portugal take a ferry to England, from England to Sweden via ferry and back to home. All planning went well until two week before start car drove through red lights and hit me and my bike. There wasn't no complain who was guilty, but insurance company claimed that my bike was one third of its value. They also refuse to pay our ferry tickets back. This all caused that I didn't have money to buy parts and repair my bike before start.

But I have waited so long to make this trip that when I saw an advert in newspaper where a man sell his nearly new Bonneville for reasonable price, I decided to take it, did I have money or not. So, after I my father guaranteed a bank loan, even he wonder why I wanted a Triumph, which did not had a very good reputation on car market in Finland, my bike problem were solved. Money problems I decided to solve after trip. But problems were not over. When my friend changed oil for a trip, she decided to clean sump filter (not British bike) and one screw were stuck. When she increase pressure to the screw, it didn't turn but whole oil line broke. We had two days before start so no time to break the whole engine and put a new line, especially there were no spare line available.

This burns my friend's sleeves and she decided to give up. Then we tried to cancelled ferry tickets, our travel agency said that it is not possible, but when we phoned directly to ferry company they said that there is no problem we had to paid only reservation and they send payment back. I also promised to my friend that we are going to make this planned trip together in future so I decided to give up this plan as well. But I still had one-month free and new wonderful Bonneville ready to go. I didn't want to make any specific plans, just ride as far as I pleased and back when half of holiday has spent. To live in Finland means that everywhere you go, you have to go first (Baltic was under Sovjet union this time) first to Sweden or by ferry to German. I decided to ride across Sweden to Denmark and my first longer rest point would be a Paris or Amsterdam, depending on weather.

Weather was fine until in Holland it turns cold and rainy, so I decided stay only one night in Amsterdam and carry on to Paris. Just enough time to spent a lot of money in second hand record shop. Then it was still easy to find good record in decent LP format. What still amazing me is how I managed to carry all these treasures around without any damage? Even the Bonneville is a pleasant to ride, ride position fits to me very well, it is getting boring sometimes, especially if you have to ride motorways etc., so I decided to stay in Paris a couple of days, no matter how is the weather. Besides, I did not have a plan for further, so I had to make decision, where to go anyway. Luckily weather was warm in Paris and even I left Bonneville in pavement for a whole day and evening, it stayed untouched.

I was pleased about weather and because of our cold winter, I decided to orientated to south to collect some warm for a winter. One special episode was, that I didn't thought that my nearly new Bonneville will ate oil at all, so it was first time in Paris, when I checked the oil level after long hot ride in middle of Paris. After cleaning and checking dipstick stayed very dry. Luckily I was in petrol station so I could buy some. Luckily it didn't make any damage for an engine, many years after that crank snapped and I had to break engine. Besides snapped crank and bent con rod all bearings were in wonderful condition. So I headed in south of France but I heard that near border of France and Spain is small state called Andorra where is possible to bought cheap electronic devices. So I decided to visit there.

Andorra is not so near French border than I've been told or I lost right track but when I finally get there, Bonneville had covered nearly 8000km on this trip. I couldn't find any interesting or cheap from Andorra except oil. Bonneville had only screen filter on those days, so it was very easy and simple to change in petrol station. Strange enough, that was the only station where I found Castrol 15- 50 oil then, 1/3 of the price of Finland. I didn't want to stay in Andorra, but always wanted to see Gibraltar and now I was close enough to go there, so I turn my head again to south and drove across Spain.

When I were in Gibraltar, I didn't want jut to be there and because ferry ticket to Africa wasn't too expensive, I decided to make it and show Tanger for a Bonneville I believe that Morocco is very exotic country for a European and especially for a Finnish people. People are friendly but sometimes too closely. This affects also sometimes on road. Much safer is ride in small roads if it is possible to find any. Biggest difference between England and Morocco is traffic volume. My turning point of this trip was Tizni (hope I remember the name correct), town near Sahara, temperature was close +40C, wonderful to me, still could ride leathers on. Cause I tried to rode small roads, I couldn't found always a camping place and some nights I slept on mountain flat. But what happened everytime, I didn't see anybody when I stopped somewhere away from road but when I get my tent up and started to make coffee or something, a man or complete family walk somewhere, say "hello" and pass over. Always I wonder where they came from.

My money situation and free time started to be very limited which means that I have to came back across Europe or stay here a rest of my life. I couldn't find any British bike shops here and I wanted to keep Bonneville alive, so I decided to go back. Galileo were very right when he said that globe is round. Morocco is south from Finland, which means that it is much easier and faster to ride downward to south than upward and north. Or at least it feels like that. Anyway I had week and half left when I crossed Gibraltar again but when I crossed German border I had only three days left, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It took at least four-day if I ride across Germany, Denmark Sweden and took a ferry to Finland but if I took Saturday ferry from Travemunde (Germany) to Helsinki, I lost only one day from work. Besides I could rest on ferry. So I decided to take ferry .

My employer didn't even notice my Monday absent then, or at least he never mentioned it later. Unfortunately I cannot tell how much this trip cost or how much petrol it took, but I'm sure it is much much more expensive now. In nowadays one way rode to Paris in costs same or more than then. So I'm happy I made it then even I wish I had at least two week more time then so I could see and feel more then. I'm not sure what was total coverage of the trip, possible something around 15000 km, rear tyre were completely finish, original Avon Roadrunner which means that it has last 23000 km total as drive chains and rear sprocket. No other damage. When I get home insurance company paid half of the price of my bike and I still could keep it. Sold it in next spring and friend I promised to ride original trip move together with Volvo owner and haven't ride with bike since. So, thats it.


Thanks for that tale of your epic journey told with devasting understatment.If there is any one who can beat this we want to hear from you.Cheers Paul.

I don't have a tip or story..All I have is a T140V...I have had it for 21 years. It's a 1972 Bonnie...had the top end done once...Never had a problem with it ever...Still riding it today...It's great!! Hardtail, chopped...Here's a pic of it..I love em...Great pages you all!!!! Thanks..Vince Corvelli in Maryand, USA

Bonneville Home page | Archives |

- Feature Article

This document maintained by
Material Copyright © 2000