Tuesday 24 December 2013


I have broken down again. My bike pulled the same trick on the Senegalese border as it did on the Mauritanian and refused to start after all the formalities were finished. We checked the spark plug and there was a spark but even when we tried to push start it it wouldn't give. Thanos towed me for 20 km until the tie got wrapped round my basket and we nearly crashed. This cosmically happened right outside a mechanics who came over and changed the plug. This time it started. He did say though that it seemed like there was not enough compression. My bike has been playing up since I entered Mauritania. Its been stalling whenever I stop and has gone through three spark plugs in two weeks now. Each time the plug has a black, oily residue on it which is a sign of a badly worn engine. A mechanic who was round at our Auberge in Nouakchott who had a quick look at the bike said that the problem is the compression also. Each time these mechanics have said this my heart sank and my stomach burned as it was the main piston that I had to change in Spain, which cost me £300. I've taken out the carburetor and dismantled it to give it a clean but it was spotless inside. I've tried new plugs and they haven't worked. I'm stuck with what else I can try. I'm hoping beyond hope that it isn't the piston. If anyone is reading this who has any tips with what I can try then please get in touch as I feel stuck with what else I can do at the moment.


  1. Hi , well done so far , this is the stuff I dream of - sadly it sounds like a worn bore / rings. With some basic tools and a decent place to work it very easy to replace. I know your on c90 club have a look in the guides section for the how to and what you need to order.
    Happy Christmas.

  2. As an engine ages the piston rings get smaller and the cylinder gets bigger. Oil squezes past the rings and coats the spark plug. sometimes blue smoke comes out of the exhaust! A slightly larger 0.1mm or so piston and rings can be fitted. If it is bad the cylinder may need to be honed - scraped flat with a special honing tool attached to a drill.

  3. A place called miles autosport in hull has them. 30pounds for piiston and a set of rings. They only post to uk. If you like send them to my address and I will post them on. They have .25 .5 and 1.0 oversize.

  4. Not knowing the right end of a screwdriver, I can offer no help with your bike except to send you best wishes for Christmas and I hope you manage to find some moments of peace and relaxation, "Kalo Christouyena!"as they might say in Greek :-)

    Things will get sorted, I hope in good time, and fretting or being vexed won't get it done sooner. From the comments above it looks like you have plenty of good friends and help will soon be on hand which I hope will dovetail with your revised travel plans ... you'll probably be getting used to revising travel plans by now and not being on the journey is as much as part of the journey as being in the bloody journey is! There'll be a lesson in there somewhere I suppose but sometimes we could probably do without them happening so frequently.

    Anyway, enjoy whatever and whenever you can especially the sunrises and sunsets.

    Take care of yourself young fella and go gently.

  5. Hi liam. As per my previous message I spotted a slightly oversized brand new piston. Rings. Gudgeon pin etc on e bay fer like 20 quid. I agree with other comments. She's worn out but a rebore n new piston etc should put it right. You should find an engineering firm even where u are as they have to keep vehicle's going fer years.
    jordie kev.

  6. Hi Liam (Martin...not in wind up mode!)
    Some basics to help with your current engine problem. You need to know if the engine has NO compression or LOW compression , the compression number for your engine is 8.2-1, so you need to know how much lower than 8.2 it is (A simple test at any garage or by any mechanic) If it is 0 then you have a major problem, if it is lower than 8.2 it can be resolved by fitting new valves and piston rings,(Small and cheap items to get posted to you) this won't give you a new engine but should give you a running engine. If you can get this done, you should then use gearbox oil instead of engine oil, this stays thicker over long journeys. this should get you going. Once you are going, these problems are due to the wrong maintenance . you need to change the oil much more often, say every 250 -500 miles and change the air filter at the same time , sounds over the top , but cheaper that new engines and less stress for you .....Hope this helps and if you need any parts let me know by email and I'll see what I can do .....happy Christmas and new year stuff Martin

  7. Hi everyone and thanks for your messages. The problem is fixed now. My piston was nackered, the rings had split and had gouged grooves in the cylinder. I also had two valves which were on there last legs. All this was fixed in two days for the total of £60. Its unfortunate that I had a very old piston put in the bike in Spain. I don't know how many miles it had on it but it looked like a ,lot.
    I've been living on a campsite 19 km out of the city by a palm tree so I haven't had access to internet to get back to people. Thanks for all the sound advice though.

    Martin, do you really think I should start changing the oil every 500 miles? I've been changing every 1000 but I need to top it up a lot in between or else it would run dry. Its been going through oil like hell. I've been cleaning the air filter too and it seems in pretty good condition. I'll have a look for a new one though. Its proving quite easy to get parts out here!