An autobiography and a work of philosophy. Pirsig delves into issues such as how humans approach the world (the "classical" versus the "romantic" approaches), and how we can better integrate these views.
My motorcycle developed a fault a while ago: it would happily sit at idle all day, but under load it would go into an over-charge condition and blow its fuse. Usually, that means that the regulator (a fairly high-power Zener diode connected across the rectifier) has failed. However, this seemed not to be the case, and I had the bike pretty well stripped down and couldn't find any problem.
So, I sent it to a Royal Enfield dealer, who also couldn't figure it out, and he sent it back to the importer, Watsonian Squire, who are the masters of all things Bullet related in the UK. Now, Watsonian weren't too happy with the bike, as it has been significantly modified in the interests of it going faster (and also looking as if it goes faster :), but they had a rummage around and eventually traced the problem to a "bad earth", words to freeze the blood of anyone who's ever been involved with automotive electrics.
Anyway, I was talking to the head spanner guy at Watsonian about this and he asked me why the exposed metal on the bike was in such ropey condition--was it kept outside by the sea, or something (sub-text: what have you done to one of our beautiful bikes, you bastard?).
So I explained that indeed it was kept outside, as I have no garage, but it is kept under a cover (pro's and con's to that, of course), but in the Lake District, where it rains all the time (it has to, otherwise it would be the "Valley District"), and where a great deal of salt is put on the roads in winter: atmospheric moisture + salt + unpainted aluminium = a furry bike. And there's only so much that emptying cans of WD-40 over it weekly will do.
Well, that placated him, and we chatted about what oil is best for the engine when out on the road and the recommended grade, 20/50, isn't available (GTX), and about the trick of filling the primary cover with ATF-F to reduce clutch slippage (a good idea), and so on and so forth.
Towards the end he said, "with motorcycle maintenance, it really is the Zen thing, you have to get right into it." Which was nice. --KeithBraithwaite
It's just like describing the workings of a motorcycle to someone who doesn't know what a motorcycle is!