Monday, January 31, 2011

Norman Rockwell Busted My Clutch Cable

I discovered that in an emergency, you can shift a Royal Enfield without using the clutch... if you can avoid coming to a complete stop.

This weekend was the last day for the Norman Rockwell Exhibit at the local museum of art. As an artist myself, I've admired Rockwell's idyllic take on happy childhoods and commonplace adult life. I got a little emotional feeling a reverence for seeing these treasures in person. In a sea of cardigan sweaters and polyester slacks, the only guy in a leather jacket, rigid Levis and engineer boots quickly composed himself and moved on.

I rode the 45 minutes to the museum in sunny, Rockwellian weather (60 degrees is nice for January), but on the way home my clutch cable snapped. I guess after 6000 miles of commuting it was time. Turns out, if I could keep rolling I could shift up and down without the clutch. Just goose the gas to shift up, hold on when shifting down, pray for no intersecting traffic, and be prepared to roll through stop signs and lane-split. On Enfields, a clutch cable is a cheap and easy fix.

Rockwell once said, 

"When I go to farms or little towns, I am always surprised at the discontent I find. And New York, too often, has looked across the sea toward Europe. And all of us who turn our eyes away from what we have are missing life."

"Going and Coming" by Norman Rockwell
This was my family's 2010 Christmas card, which features our 1961 Ford pickup. You could say the card was inspired by the above Rockwell painting titled "Going and Coming."


  1. Great card! Sorry about the clutch cable. After being stranded twice (traffic too heavy to risk riding with no clutch) I learned to carry a spare. Since then, I've replaced a number of them roadside, once even at night (carry a flashlight). I recommend buying the version sold for high-riser handlebars, even though I don't have them. When you're in a hurry you can route it around the nacelle instead of working to thread it through. Speeds up the job a lot.

  2. You can buy a "solderless nipple" which is basically one of the little brass cable ends that screws onto a broken cable. Check with your local cable supply shop, should be $3 or so. Another tip, when shifting without a clutch, use the throttle to match your motor speed to your gearbox (rear wheel) speed. Blip the throttle open just a bit before downshifting will help. close the throttle just before upshifting.

  3. Dude, I just stumbled onto your blog but this freeging is great. Normal Rockwell is one of the few artist American's should love but choose to find cheesy. Cause positive imagery has been uncool for a long time... What a great family!!

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