My bike mechanic contacted me today to advise that the rear cluster that I prefered was not available (that's the collection of 9 or 10 gears at the back of the bike). He asked me if I wanted a 25-12 or a 25-13 cluster instead.
Err....... dunno. I went for the 25-12, with me frankly having only the vaguest idea of what he as on about. I've been riding bikes for over 30 years now, and have clocked up 12,000km in the last 4 years, but what happens down below in the technical area is all Greek to me. I don't understand my lack of desire to become a bike nerd, since I used to spend every second weekend rebuilding old cars. I've helped rebuild eight engines (if memory is correct) ranging from four cylinders to straight eights and V8's, spent hours fiddling with dual-carb setups, been baffled with the required tolerances in an automatic gearbox rebuild, and utterly, utterly confused by auto electrics. We'd start with an engine rebuilt after work on Friday night, and I'd usually conk out 12 hours later once the engine was out of the car. My mate, the dodgy Roger, would keep going for 24-48 hours straight, not sleeping until the engine was back in its rightful spot, making all the right noises.
Much of my mechanical aid seemed to involve making tea and sandwiches, passing the correct spanner and wondering what to do with the icecream container full of leftover washers at the end of the project, but I still got my hands greasy more than most. I don't get the ethos of these youngsters who take their car to a mechanic to get performance mods fitted. Don't they understand the fun involved in buying and fitting something like a lumpy H2 cam, or swapping out a set of pistons for higher compression versions?
Then again, perhaps not. But there was nothing like rebuilding a V8 with some go-faster bits, putting in a 2 inch exhaust system with extractors (and no poofy resonators to make it sound faster - even a small V8 sounds like God tearing the sky apart if the exhaust is setup properly), taking the roof off and blasting through the Harbour Tunnel at 100mph around 1am. I used to love going into the tunnel at the speed limit, and holding it until I reached the bottom, then dropping a gear and planting it. If that didn't give one a woody, then it meant that very thin and watery blood was circulating through that particular body.
But now, I look at a bike mag description of carbon impregnated something or other clusters and shrug my shoulders. None of it makes any sense.