Motorcycle Classics

The Fine Art of the Bodge

Reader Contribution by Alison Green

Bodge – verb: to fix or repair with whatever is at hand. Temporary emergency repair. Ingenious use of material to effect repairs.

If you ride and maintain older British bikes, then this is the appropriate term when one is forced to use a piece of wire to hold some component together. This is to avoid resorting to trailers or other embarrassing forms of transport for the last leg of the trip. It is a rather handy term which covers a multitude of temporary and not-so-temporary repairs when the necessary parts, time or tools are not at hand.

I’m equally certain that almost anyone who rides a motorcycle that is not show-room new, has had occasion to ‘bodge’ a repair of sorts while on the road. Sometime the ’emergency’ repair is so effective that it becomes permanent. More often, it only stays in place until proper repairs or replacement of parts can be completed in the comfort of the home shop. I’ve heard some amazing stories of wounded bikes rescued from dire situations with the oddest of materials. My old BMW is relatively reliable and seldom sheds bits and pieces along the road but… At the bottom of the tool tray, I have a secret stash of odd things and I have been very grateful for this collection on more than one occasion.

My stash  includes, but is not limited to, the following:

– A dozen or so cable ties of different sizes including two or three metal ones
– Small roll of good quality electrical tape
– Folded piece of self-adhesive muffler tape (about 24inches long)
– A coil of about 6 inches of fine SS wire – which takes up almost no space at all
– A plastic film can with an assortment of small nuts and bolts and cotter pins of common sizes for my bike – including licence plate bolt and battery terminal bolt       .
– Small piece of emery paper (if your bike has points)
– A piece of aluminum foil (non plastic coated) folded small
– Tube of JBweld – magic stuff.
– A small roll of electrical wire of the same weight as the bike wiring.
– One $20 bill folded in with the emery paper!

This collection is over-and-above the tools and spares that I carry. The whole shebang takes up about as much room as a pack of cigarettes, if a bit lumpier.  More often than not, I have had to dig into this stash to help someone else out of a tight spot, but it has saved my hide and ride on more than one occasion.

I am still amused at the thoughts of my English friend Kirsten when the time came to run her sadly abused Triumph thru the English DOT fitness test.  The baffles in the silencers (read mufflers) were shot and it was far too noisy for compliance.  So partner Chris rammed a number of brillo pads up each muffler and headed off for the inspection.  The bike passed (just) and Kirsten said the bike then proceeded to fart out bits of steel wool all the way home.  I love it.  This is a classic and successful ‘Bodge’ in its purest form!   Mind you, after nursing two elderly Triumphs for three years and around the world, there isn’t much Chris can’t fix/replace/modify or invent on those bikes.

As for all my careful planning, the $20 has come in the handiest.  My wallet has been known to hide in my ‘other’ riding jacket … and it has also been stolen – twice! With inflation and all, maybe I should up the ante to $40! Ride safe, ride far.Alison Green

  • Published on Oct 22, 2008
© Copyright 2022. All Rights Reserved - Ogden Publications, Inc.