Massachusetts to Maine Friday 17th-Monday 21st July by Helen

Friday 17th July 

harold Parker 3

The flight to Boston was pretty easy. Iceland Air the new budget airline was great. We took our own picnic with us and found the time passed quickly with the sector from Heathrow to Reykjavic being only 2 hours and 20 minutes. The 2 hour lay over in Iceland was interesting as the airport is tiny and full of other travellers waiting for connecting flights to cities all over the USA. In keeping with the no frills approach, food and drink is pretty cheap but there is only one outlet offering pizzas and sandwiches so the idea of getting a hot meal at the airport fell flat.

Flying over Iceland was pretty cool. It is incredibly barren and reminded me a bit of flying over Kuwait but there are snow-covered mountains in the distance. It looked exactly like the scenes shot in Iceland in the recent Walter Mitty movie with Ben Stiller. A place we would be interested to come back to.

On the second sector, we managed to bag legroom seats in premium economy, courtesy of a family who wanted to sit together. It was very comfy and the time passed easily. By far the highlight of the flight was passing over the tip of Greenland. I was lucky to have a window seat. It is by far the most spectacular thing I have ever seen with snowy mountains, intersected by fjords and wide open ocean full of what appeared from the sky to be tiny icebergs.

Arriving in Boston was always going to be hard. With the time difference, it was pretty late for us, although only 7pm Eastern Time. We were worried about long queues at immigration and being questioned by officials. There is always a stress that they will not let you in. Boston Logan turned out to be worse than our experience at JFK the previous year. There were so many flights landing that we were put into a holding queue for about 20 minutes with US citizens and foreigners separated, only to then be mixed up again once we entered the immigration queue. There are 5 colour-coded lanes for different categories of traveller, including purple for ESTA users like us on the Visa Waiver Programme. It looked well thought out but was badly implemented, as everyone seemed to be pushed into the same long and winding queue for the self-service machines. These machines read your passport and then photograph you and take your fingerprints, finally producing a receipt and asking you to then go to the purple ESTA line. Great idea, if this means the immigration officials do not now have to take your photo and prints. WRONG. We had been queuing for over an hour now and realised that those ahead of us in the ESTA queue were having their photo and prints taken again by the official. Of course this took some time and we queued for about 90 minutes in all. When we eventually got to see the official we had given up caring if we got in or not. He did ask us all of the questions we had anticipated, including how long we were staying, where we were going, what jobs we do, how much money we have. It was all pretty serious until the official asked if we were driving and we said we were riding a motorcycle. He looked straight at us and said “daredevils huh?” Then went on to tell us what a great country it is and that we could see both high mountains and tropical beaches. He stamped us in and wishes us a good trip.

Saturday 18th July

We had arranged a hire car through Alamo for our first few days while waiting for the bike to arrive. This meant we could camp on the outskirts of Boston and not have to pay the extortionate prices of Boston hotels. We checked into the Holiday Inn, Tewkesbury, MA for the first night. The hotel was a little old but the bed was big and comfy, there was piping hot water, loads of towels, ironing board and iron, microwave and fridge all for $109. We were glad of our picnic, as there was no vegan food on the room service menu, and by the time we arrived at the hotel, it was 2.30am British time, we were shattered and hungry.

The next morning, we set off for the campsite via a supermarket and AT&T to organize SIM cards for our phones. We were totally impressed with Market Basket, a major supermarket chain. The fresh produce was great and they had about 20 different sorts of hummus, the vegan staple. We had a car breakfast inside Herbie our little white VW Beetle, while we waited for the other shops to open. At AT&T, we organized prepaid plans with 4GB of data per month for $60 monthly. It was pretty easy but you have to get used to the fact that in the US what you are quoted is not what you pay as tax is added on afterwards. So we paid $148.00 for the two of us for the first month. We consider this to be an essential expense of the trip, as we love keeping in touch on Facebook and being able to plan the trip online.

Harold Parker 2

We checked into our first campsite at Harold Parker Forest State Park about 1pm. It was exactly what we had expected. A pretty forest with small lakes and about 90 camping pitches, interspersed across a wide area under the trees and along one of the lakes. The pitches are huge compared to your average European commercial campsite. Camping in Massachusetts state parks is the cheapest in the country at $14 a night per pitch. There is everything you need, including clean loos and showers with hot water, a fire pit and grill for cooking, if you are into BBQs. We have not camped anywhere like this before. It is completely natural. In our first day we saw gophers, squirrels and a bright red bird called a cardinal. Black bears are native to this area but visits to this site are rare. However, we still followed recommendations to put all food and toiletries in the car overnight.

Harold Parker 1

The weather has been too hot for camping over the few days we have been here so far-into the low 90s or about 33 centigrade and humid. Fortunately there is a lot of shade but this does not help with the humidity. We settled right into camping, pottering around, reading, cooking and keeping the camp clean. The people here are all pretty friendly but also keep themselves to themselves.

Monday 21st July

We heard on the night we arrived that the bike was due to arrive the next afternoon-4 days early. We set off on Monday to complete customs formalities, collect the bike from Virgin Atlantic Cargo and return the hire car (including a planned conversation with Alamo about overcharging us). These things are never easy wherever you travel so we were eager to get it over with. Navigating into and around the airport complex was the first issue. Googlemaps made this much easier but the sat nav feature stops working in tunnels which caused a few hairy moments as did my generally inferior navigating skills-in the time honoured tradition of married couples Dave would prefer to both drive and navigate (with the sat nav in one hand) as he is vastly superior at both. We suffered a little blip with voices raised for a few seconds but on the whole the tools worked well, even if the humans didn’t. Our next frustration was finding the right customs office, as the address given us by the cargo company was not the right one. A very grumpy customs officer gave us the address of a place in South Boston which when we arrived there seemed to be the dock for cruise passengers. We tried to call customs on the phone but they were constantly engaged so we called Virgin Atlantic who confirmed the address the grumpy customs officer had given us. After unsuccessfully searching for visitors’ parking, worried by threats of towing (having had our hired van towed the previous week in Germany for illegal parking), we eventually dumped the car and hoped we would not be long. We were expecting another miserable customs officer and a real grilling about the bike. We were greeted by an alarmingly friendly guy who was the double of the counsellor character in Orange is the New Black. He asked me if my name was Holiday Inn as James Cargo had put the address of our hotel in the box for name on the waybill. He then proceeded to call me Holiday while taking Dave’s passport and stamping the waybill with a customs clearance stamp. It was all of a very pleasant and confusing 3 minutes max and we were on our way. No wonder this guy doesn’t work in the airport, he would never make it there and has probably been put on desk duty for being too friendly.

Outside Virgin Cargo

At Virgin Cargo things were pretty easy. As we walked to the counter, hearing our British accents, the guy asked if we were there for the bike. We paid $50 and a form was stamped before we were taken to the warehouse to meet our crate. An extremely helpful warehouse employee with a strong Boston accent helped us to uncrate the bike. It was a good job we had taken a hammer, as recommended by James Cargo, as there are not tools available. A forklift driver lent us a knife which we also wished we had taken along. It took about half an hour for the three of us to break the wood and cardboard crate apart. The bike started first time and Dave rode it carefully off the pallet. The warehouse employee shared stories of other motorcycle travellers he had met coming through this warehouse, including a woman who was spending over two years riding around the world. Quite a few other guys from the warehouse chatted with us and asked questions about where we were from and where we were going. They were all impressed with our plans and seemed excited for us. The bike was in good shape except for a dent in the back box, which looked as if it had been hit with a hammer. The right side mirror had been removed and needed fixing on but we had tools on the bike for this.

The final task of the day was to return the hire car and then return to the bike. Alamo had charged us for collision damage waiver and roadside assistance, which we specifically had said we did not want. A combination of exhaustion and middle aged eyes had led to us signing the contract, agreeing to these things, as the Alamo counter guy had not explained what we were signing. Rookie error possibly but in the UK each section that you sign on a car hire contract is always carefully explained. Anyway to be fair to Alamo, when we returned the car and complained, they immediately removed the extra charges and the hire for 3 days was $119.

We jumped into a taxi to get back to the bike. Disconcertingly the car smelled of marijuana and the middle aged white Bostonian driver seemed stoned. Once we got underway though, he was a lot of fun and he loved the fact we were going to collect our bike. He also advised us on where to buy chilled beer and wished us luck on our trip.

Thoughts of a quick blast back to the campsite along Interstate Highway 93 were scuppered when we set the sat nav to avoid tolls. It was about 93 degrees by this time, mid afternoon, and we were melting in our bike jackets. We ended up in a horrible traffic jam going through the scruffy suburbs of Boston. It was grim but an interesting detour, a slice of real urban life very different to the wealthy small towns near the campsite with their huge clapboard houses, porches and lawns. We agreed never to set the sat nav to do this again when in a city as we could so easily have ended up in a really rough neighbourhood. You cannot set the GPS to avoid tolls and the hood.

Harold Parker 4

Alcohol or liquor, as they call it here, is not allowed on state park campsites to prevent noisy parties. Our first visit to a liquor store resulted in a 6 pack of German Radeberger, which we then had to smuggle into the meadow opposite our pitch in a large black bag. Beer has not tasted that good in a long time. Finally, we were here, finally the bike was here and finally the trip could start.

Bent Brake Pads!

2015-06-21 08.33.10
It’s just the brakes

Both front callipers have bent the outside brake pad. It’s clearly down to me not replacing everything correctly but I’ve srtipped and rebuilt these brakes a hundred times. I put it down to the change of rubbers (and pins) I did before last summer. The better fit of the new rubbers stops the carrier from retracting properly. Not a problem once the whole thing’s together and on the bike, but an obstacle to getting the thing on properly in the first place.

2015-06-21 08.32.44

It Lives!

Tiger is back in one piece and we’ve ridden round the block a few times.


2015-04-25 11.40.11

Brakes! At last!

2015-04-25 09.50.13

I may have indulged in a titanium double banjo bolt

The good:

  • Front brake now stops the bike.
  • There’s plenty of feel but it’s a good job there’s a span adjuster because the lever doesn’t move much any more (hoo bloody ray!).
  • Mirror fits.
  • Brake light switch fits and probably works (forgot to check).

The bad:

  • It was a bugger to bleed, even with a vacuum puller.

The ugly:

  • The right hand guard no longer fits but I’ve left the left one on.  It’s all a bit lopsided.
    • I have some Acerbis ones left over from my brief dalliance with a Triumph Explorer.  They don’t fit the Tiger but I may be able to persuade them on.


2015-04-25 09.51.26

A small selection of my thermostat housings

I changed the thermostat/temperature sensor/housing for a second hand one.  They are plentiful on eBay because you have to be an idiot to break one.  I broke mine by levering the pressure release cap off with a screwdriver.  You don’t need to do this; just push down and turn a second time, like a normal person.

eBay was actually full of units off Triumph Sprints, not Tigers.  Presumably the Sprint was more popular here in Germany than the Tiger.  Anyway, they looked the same in the picture are, indeed, identical except the Sprint unit has a brass blanking piece instead of a temperature sender.  It’s easy to swap.

I now have four housings:

  • The one I broke.
  • A broke one I bought off eBay because my German is rubbish.
  • A perfect one off a Sprint that is now on the bike.
  • Another one off a Sprint that is still somewhere in what DHL laughingly call a postal system.
You carry a 17mm spanner with you because it fits your mirrors.  Stop discarding it.

I was hoping to increase the release pressure so that the header tank could work properly (it empties itself the first time the engine gets hot).  In the end, though, I’ve put it back together with the standard 1.1 bar release.  So that was a total waste of time and money.

The Master Cylinder is Here!

2015-04-13 15.39.39
Game of Thrones Season 5 started airing before it arrived.

2015-04-13 16.40.16
On, looking good but contributing nothing to braking, yet.

It’s here at last! NINE DAYS later than DHL said it would get here. The new one is stamped 5/8, the old one is 1/2.  At first glance, this looks like a modest increase but it’s actually enormous and could be an overkill.

I’ve already bolted the thing to the handlebars, connected the brake light switch and transferred the mirror.  None could be easier.  If I swap one bolt over, there’s a good chance even the hand guard will survive the upgrade.

What I HAVEN’T done it to transfer the hydraulics.  The double banjo bolt at the master is the old road-worn one that began life at the front-left calliper.  I feel a titanium replacement fro Pro-bolt coming on.

Airbox Mod

God, I’ve done a movie now.

Airbox Mod

I heard about the airbox mod ages ago (here but never got around to doing it because:

a. I never really understood what it was, and

b. Well, it’s just a. really.

What is this Airbox Mod You Speak of?


Here’s the part I removed

There’s a chunk of plastic in the airbox that doesn’t appear to do anything useful but probably impedes air intake.

Why did Triumph put it there in the first place? Dunno, but I do know that manufacturers sometimes do things like this to ensure they pass emissions tests.

So How Did it Go?


And here’s some of the damage I did. Bolts that were drilled, sawn and hammered…

…what’s left of two of the bolt holes…
…and finally (hopefully) a bolt that would not return and is now frozen forever, unsure of whether it is in or out.

Fine.  Did anyone watch ‘Better Call Saul,’ I thought it was great…

…okay, the job was a bit of a pain.  If you follow the tigertriple link, above, you’ll see there’s some advice saying it’s better to hack the plate out instead of splitting the airbox.

I split the airbox, anyway, because I don’t play by the rules and my spirit can’t be broken.

Before you do yours, have a good think about doing it the other way.

The airbox is still in good enough shape to be functional but I haven’t put it back on the bike, yet (waiting for Scottoiler part to arrive; it goes under the airbox).  Hopefully, that protruding bolt won’t foul anything or I’ll be reaching for the torture instruments again.

Clutch Cable and GPS

Clutch Cable

2015-04-08 16.47.07
Old clutch cable still in place as spare. How hard core.

Replaced still functional clutch cable because a new clutch cable feels like a whole new bike.  I left the old one in place and cable-tied the new one to it.  This means I have the old one as a spare, already in place.


2015-04-08 15.46.23
Heated grips switch sitting happily before I force the GPS live onto the middle, blue connection, and wrap the GPS neutral around a handy bolt. This image is clearly just an aide memoire for myself.

I’ve rewired the GPS so that it picks up live & earth within the fairing, behind the clocks.  It’s now on a switched live (from the heated grips switch) instead of being connected directly to the battery.  This obviously stops the risk of flattening the battery by forgetting to remove the GPS but also tidies up the battery terminals that, prior to this, had GPS, tankbag and alarm wires added to them.

Wasn’t There Something About a New Brake Master Cylinder?

2015-04-08 15.27.40Yellow blob behind the crane is a DHL van not delivering my stuff. I know the crane is yellow, too. Believe me, there is a DHL van there.

Actually yes. It was supposed to arrive on Saturday, today is Wednesday. DHL are rubbish.

Spark Plugs and Valve Clearances

Spark Plugs

2015-04-07 11.44.30From asteroids, you know

Polo Motorrad had them in stock so Tiger now has three beautiful iridium spark plugs.  I saved a fortune (18.00) by riding a superior triple instead of a four.  Apparently, even BMW boxer twins need four because they are twin plug heads.  This is schadenfreude.

I can’t wait to ride the bike and imagine I can feel a difference.

Valve Clearances

Valve clearance found to be 'not tight.'  They can be as loose as they like (in my book). Valve clearance found to be ‘not tight.’ They can be as loose as they like (in my book).

The trouble with changing the spark plugs is that the process takes you so close to the cam cover that only an idiot would not bother checking the valve clearances. Despite being an idiot, I checked the valve clearances.

Checking them is one thing but adjusting them is another.  To check them, you need a feeler gauge and enough daring-do to delve as far as I have.  To adjust them, you need a fabled special tool that no one has ever seen, or you have to remove the cams.  That makes me nervous just saying it.  I’ve done it twice (valve clearance adjustment) but that was when I was young and fearless.

So it was with some trepidation that I checked each of the clearances.  They were all over the place, no two the same, but none of them were tight.  So that’s the end of the story and there’s no need to pursue the matter any further.

2015-04-07 12.02.54
Mirror shows Woman in Black standing behind me as I take the picture. This is all I need.

You lot: Were any of them too loose?

Me: No.

You lot: Really?

Me: I didn’t check.  As long as they are not tight, it doesn’t matter.  Too loose will reduce power (and increase torque?) but do no engine damage so I’m actually being nice to the old girl.

You lot: You did half a job.

Me: None of them were tight.

Tiger Maintenance/preparation

2015-04-06 14.12.34

Have that Tiger tank. Not so clever now you’re on my balcony.

No chance of the new old master cylinder arriving till tomorrow so I’m going to get on with the following:

  • Change coolant
  • Increase coolant pressure release from 1.1 to 1.2 bar
    • The expansion tank is constantly empty.  This used to happen on my GPZ900R back in the 1870s and I cured it by upping the pressure release.  Let’s hope it doesn’t cause a catastrophic fluid release instead.
  • Get Scott oiler working
  • Check spark plugs
    • Actually, I’ll be very tempted to replace them with iridium ones, anyway.  There are many reasons to do this but, for me, the main reason is that the iridium we use in spark plugs is harvested from asteroids!!!!!
  • Improve wiring of ancillaries

All of this requires me to quickly whip off the fuel tank… (pauses for effect) ha ha ha ha.  Tiger fuel tank is a big plastic Tupperware thing sculpted to fill every available cubic millimetre between the engine and frame.  And around the headstock.  Some of it manages to wheedle its way under the battery holder.


Spark Plugs

2015-04-06 14.49.20
Why do we still carry these things? When was the last time you extracted a spark plug at the roadside? I’m leaving this out of my tool kit from now on.

I can’t get them out.  I’ve been carting the usual box spanner type thing around with me but it’s too short.  Come to think of it, I think there used to be a hefty allen key that acted as an extension.  I need to either find something similar or use a socket set.

Scott Oiler

2015-04-06 14.48.22
Broken Scott oiler part. This one has been on barely ten years. Typical.

Scott oiler has a split piece where the vacuum hose meets the injectors.  They sell Scott oilers at Polo Motorrad, just down the road, so I’ll go there tomorrow, grunt a bit, and thrust it in the guy’s face.  My German isn’t very good.


2015-04-06 14.44.28
Shady character to left is me. Black thing by tank is the airbox. Pan of lentil soup is not relevant.

I had to remove the airbox to get to the sparkplugs.

New front brake master cylinder

Okay, I’ve ordered this.  It’s a front brake master cylinder, complete with lever, from a  ZRX1100.  I was fed up of whinging about the brakes so I just ordered it from eBay without thinking about it too much.

I then had the following conversation with my mate Jason.  Anyone who knows Jason knows Jason knows.

We’re home now and the master cylinder is due to arrive today.  I have to keep a watch out the window because DHL can’t get a heavy item like this up the 5cm door step to our building so they tend to just leave a ‘you were out’ notice then bog off for a fag.

Hopefully, the master cylinder will arrive shortly.  I’ll slap it on, test the bike and update this blog with the good news that the infamously bad Tiger 955i brakes are now fab.

Otherwise, I’ll quietly remove this post and order a more sensible alternative.

I should really credit this chap

Surprise, surprise: it didn’t arrive. No chance of it coming till Tuesday, now, because of Jesus, chocolate and not really being dead when you die. Or something.

I might as well get on with other maintenance.

Berlin to London for an MOT part 2

The bike passed! I’m glad we used Gray’s in London.

Okay, so what have we learnt?

The route:

  • Europe is bloody freezing in March/April
  • Bielefeld (where?) is easily forgotten


  • You can’t beat proper bike gear for staying warm & dry
  • Helen’s micro down jacket was much more versatile than my stripy fleece type thing
  • Nike Combat compression thermals are brilliant; no need for anything else under cordura winter coat, so you don’t feel like Michelin Man
  • I need a better system for not losing small expensive items like 64GB USB memory & phone adapter (didn’t make it out of first hotel)

The bike needs:

  • A better horn
  • A bigger front brake master cylinder (already ordered off eBay)