Tuesday 31 July 2012

... and you CAN tour on a sports bike!

Along with singles, another type of bike that self appointed 'experts' tell you that you CAN'T tour on are sports bikes. However, the poster of this video proves otherwise:

Lots of good on-bike video, and this explains what's so good about riding a bike in the Alps.

Sorry I've been a bit quiet lately and missed posting a 'Friday Bike', but I've been tied up in a lot of work related things recently and was away from home. However, 'normal service has now been resumed', for those of you old enough to remember that!

Monday 23 July 2012

Applecross 2012

Up on a bright Friday morning to head off on our annual trip to Applecross. I'd been working late the day before so hadn't even done any packing. Usually, I tend to leave early for trips and end up sitting on my own waiting for the others to arrive, so instead did some housework, cut my grass, and went shopping. Eventually left about 12:30 for the familiar 200 mile (320 km) trip to Applecross. Look at my post from last year to see a map of the route.
One disadvantage of leaving at this time is that the traffic is much heavier and all the 'slow drivers' are out. This meant that it was a slow drag all the way to Fort William behind a succession of Honda Jazzes and Nissan Qashquis being driven by elderly drivers at 35 mph (56 km/h).
I stopped in Fort William to fill up, (it's roughly half-way point), then it was back on the road to sit in a queue behind a camper van, also doing 35 mph.
Eventually got past it, and the ride up to Applecross was fairly quiet and uneventful. Once I got there I found Terry, mr combo, Stuart, and Gareth. We also met Dave, who had been there last year on his bike, but this year he had come in a car with his family.

Gareth's Kawasaki, Stuart's Yamaha, and my Skorpion

Stuart with mr combo's Triumph (left), and the other bikes

Gareth's very shiny Kawasaki KLE 500

Upper pic: Terry's Skorpion. Lower: Gareth and Stuart with Stuart's Yamaha FJ1200

There were also a lot of Nortons (and others) there for the rally mentioned on Gino's blog

Cool tank badges on this BMW

This Norton had a wonderful collection of transfers (not stickers!) on its home made panniers.

Yes, that's a tow bar. It had a trailer as well.

We spent Friday evening having a good meal in the Flower Tunnel, the campsite's bar/restaurant, and generally just talking rubbish. We later wandered down to the pub for a drink, then back to the campsite.
It rained overnight, but had dried by the time we got up on Saturday morning, where fortified by the free breakfasts we got for booking early, we went for a walk, first to the shop a couple of miles away, then to the pub, popular with passing riders.

A rare beast indeed! A Yamaha GTS 1000.  British registered, which makes it even rarer.

Who would guess that the BMW R1200GS is the biggest selling bike in Britain!

Honda Crosstour - Hadn't seen one of these before.

Then to the Walled Garden café at the end of the bay. The day had been bright and dry, if not actually sunny, and very pleasant for just walking about looking at things. On the way back to the campsite we saw a man and a girl looking intensely at a bush next to the path. There was a stoat (I thought it was a weasel) harassing some wrens. The younger birds were too young and stupid to fly off, so the mother wren, assisted by some finches were trying to drive the stoat away. I was surprised that different types of bird would work together against a common enemy, and that all this would take place about 2 metres away from us. Eventually we left them to sort it out, and wandered back to the campsite for a good look at the bikes there.

It had started to rain by teatime, so it was back to the 'Flower Tunnel' for something to eat, then mr combo produced a cake.

This had been produced to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the South of Scotland Section of the MZ Riders Club, in which mr combo and I had been involved in the formation. However, all of us (except Terry) had left the Club after it had changed from a riding/touring club into a classic club more focussed on the earlier 2 stroke models. The cake had been intended for this year's SoS Section Rally, but as no-one had told mr combo when and where it was, the cake ended up at Applecross. Nevertheless, it was thoroughly enjoyed by us and some of the Norton riders present.

The rain had become fairly heavy and continued to be so through the night, enough to wake me a number of times, and it was a very drizzly and windy morning that greeted us on Sunday. Although we could have had free breakfasts again, we decided to leave early for home. This was one of the most miserable rides I've ever experienced, and going over the Bealach-na-Bá was very scary. The mist was right down (5 metres visibility) and the very strong crosswinds made things difficult. Near the summit, the wind was so strong that I honestly thought I would either be blown over or off of the road. I was reduced to putting my feet down and 'walking' the bike slipping the clutch in 1st gear. It got better once over the summit, but it stayed wet and windy all the way home. Things went well until I got to Glencoe and joined the back of a very long, slow moving queue. I slowly made my way past the queue of traffic, which must have been about a mile long and travelling at no more than 30 mph. At the head of the queue was a 'convoy' of 3 campervans driving so close together no-one could overtake. I eventually got past them and onto the next challenge – Rannoch Moor. The moor is very exposed and the strong cross winds once again made riding very difficult. At one point I was nearly grounding the footrests trying to ride in a straight line. Eventually I got to Tyndrum, where I had to stop for petrol. This took so long that by the time I left, the 'campervan convoy' had caught up with me and I had to join the back of the now 2 mile queue. Luckily, they went straight on at Crianlarich, where I turned south to Loch Lomond.
The ride down Loch Lomond was fairly uneventful, still very wet, but at least the hills shelter you from the wind. From there it's an easy ride home with only some excitement crossing the Erskine Bridge in the crosswind.
I got into my house and was pleased to find that other than a small patch on my t-shirt where I hadn't tucked it into my trousers, I was completely dry inside my waterproofs. Let's hear it for Gore-Tex!
I was so tired due to disturbed sleep during the night, and the sheer physicality and concentration required for the journey home, that I fell asleep for 4 hours!
Weather on the journey back aside, I had really enjoyed myself and it was good to meet up with people and see lots of interesting bikes. Just hope it's a bit dryer next year!!
Stuart (who was sensible enough to leave on Saturday and avoid the bad weather) has posted on his blog and Gino has posted on his. 

Friday 20 July 2012

Friday bike

Quick one as I'm heading off for Applecross. The 'Killinger und Freund'.

“The Killinger und Freund Motorrad was intended for civilian production but the start of World War II cancelled those plans. One motorcycle was discovered by the US Army in the spring of 1945 at a German military installation but it is not known if this was the original prototype or another Killinger und Freund Motorrad”
- Wikipedia

Due to lack of time, I've shamelessly stolen this from here.

Thursday 19 July 2012

Applecross again!

Heading off for a weekend in Applecross. Will post something with some pictures when I get back. Gino and some of his Norton chums will be there, so hopefully we'll have a good turnout.
Will be riding over this on the way:

Sunday 15 July 2012

More Joy of Six

Further to mr combo's post, here's some more bikes spotted at the Coupes Moto Legende that have five more cylinders than you need!

Saturday 14 July 2012

European Grand Ride 2011

Looking for information on my Honda, I came across the wonderful 'HondaTwins' forum. Lots of information on restoring Honda twins, and on it I found a link to a number of videos about a 7000km trip round Europe on a rebuilt 1969 Honda CB 450. The rider set out from Sweden and visited 15 countries in 5 weeks, and also wrote and performed the music.

Great to see touring in parts of Europe we Westerners don't usually go to. And before anyone asks - no, I'm not planning doing this on my Honda. On the Skorpion on the other hand.....

One step forward.........

Thought it was time for an update on where I've got to with my CL350.
I'd bought a few other bits and pieces on Ebay, plus a stainless Allen screw kit. This turned out to be a 'whole engine' kit, and included the domed nuts for the top of the cylinder head studs and screws to hold the crankcases together. I had thought 'I'll never need them', but things haven't worked out that way.....
Both of the round removable covers on the crankcase sides (one over the alternator that gives access to the timing marks, and one over the oil filter), had seriously chewed up screw heads that required being drilled out. I was careful not to damage the rubber 'O' rings behind the alternator cover screws, and managed to remove the remaining threads with pliers. So far so good.
I then started to take the LHS crankcase side cover off. The screws looked as thought they had never been taken out since leaving the factory, and most came out using an impact driver. The others required a small amount of persuasion with a hammer and narrow chisel, but they came out without damaging anything.

I'd mentioned before that the kickstart ratchet is worn, and looking at the Clymer manual, it shows the kickstart gears, just behind the clutch.
However, looking at mine, no gears can be seen.
It would appear that at some point during the production run, Honda moved the kickstart gears inside the crankcases, which means that they are going to have to come apart to repair them. (Yes, I know the return spring should be hooked round the casting, I'd moved it before taking the photo).
For a moment, I had thought about not fixing the kickstart and relying on the electric one, but the ends of the teeth that had worn must have gone somewhere, and the crankcases will need cleaned out. Also, what laughingly passes for an oil filter (oil is pumped through a spinning 'can' on the end of the crankshaft and any 'lumps' are forced to the outside by centrifugal force) had a lining of black material with the consistency of toothpaste. There's a mixture of metal fragments and 40 years worth of gunge in there that'll have to come out. So it looks like the engine will have to come out of the frame and be stripped and rebuilt.
Remember I said that I was planning on having the bike back on the road by 'the end of the year'? Well, I didn't say which year!
Previously I cleaned the carbs, but wasn't really happy with how they came out. Looking round the Web, the consensus was to have them ultrasonically cleaned. Luckily, just as I was pricing one, Maplin had reduced one from £100 to £80, just after I had earned a lot of overtime one weekend, so that was bought.

It's not quite big enough to clean a carb in one go, but you can clean half of it then turn it over and clean the other side. Got the carbs really clean and no doubt I'll find lots of other things I can use it for.

Unfortunately, my job appears to be coming to an end, so I'm going to have to look for something else. The next job might not include a company car and I could be based at one location, so having a bike for commuting would be useful. I don't really want to use my silver Traveller, and I've also got a white Traveller that I bought cheaply a few years ago. I haven't ridden it since I bought it, and it'll need a bit a of work to get it back on the road, so the Honda might have to get put back a bit more.
Nobody said rebuilding a 40 year old bike wouldn't be without some pitfalls!

Friday 13 July 2012

Etape du Tour - Day 5

Up early again to load the van, clean up the apartment, and head back to Geneva Airport. Fairly straightforward drive without any holdups, and I dropped David and Tony and their bikes off at the airport, than took the van back. Rather than pay for an overpriced taxi, I walked back to the airport navigating by holding my Sat Nav in my outstretched arm. Pedestrians enter the airport from the opposite end of the airport, so needless to say I got lost. I even impressed myself by asking directions from a Policeman (and more importantly, understanding his answer) in French, and soon found David and Tony. One thing I noticed in Geneva is that when a man and woman meet, they kiss each other three times rather than twice as in Chamonix.
Then it was through security and onto our flights to first London, then Glasgow. Once on the plane I fell asleep only wake violently when the stewardess offered me a drink as I'd been dreaming about driving the van in the dark! (David had a good laugh at that!)
We changed flights at the notorious Heathrow Terminal 5, infamous for its 'teething troubles' when it first opened. (i.e. a complete shambles!) As someone who rarely flies, I'm fascinated that Terminal 5 is just full of shops selling things nobody actually needs.
Then it was back through security again before our flight to Glasgow. This time, my hand luggage passed through the X-ray machine without comment, but both David and Tony's were searched. This was despite all the warnings about not carrying more than 100ml of liquids, and them having to be in a clear platic bag for inspection, no-one noticed the 250ml bottle of contact lens fluid in mine that I'd forgotten about!!
We got back to Glasgow Airport, where David's father gave us I lift home where I promptly fell asleep!
Looking back, it was a great experience and one that was, other than the day David and I spent in Chamonix. extremely intense. I always seemed that were were running about doing something, driving, and not sleeping enough. I was very impressed by the level of organisation of the Etape - the road closures, the marshalling of 10,000 participants, having enough food, drink and vehicles for them, and the way it all seems to work seamlessly. It really is a credit to the organisers that they manage an event like this every year. Talking of which, David has said that he is NEVER doing the Etape again! Remember to remind him of that when he starts talking about doing it next year!
Larry mentioned that he couldn't see the pictures of David that I'd published a link to in the last message. This might be due to having to be signed in to Facebook to see them, so I've published them here. These were taken by the 'official' photographers along the route, (hence the quality).

Friday bike

Today's is a very rare bike, and one that I've been unable to find much information on.
When I visited the Château de Savigny-les-Beaune during my tip to France in May, I saw a couple of 'Tigre' motorcycles in their museum. I think there were two solos (one racing) and a sidecar.

When I got back I did a bit of 'digging' around the Web, but turned up very little information. The engine was built by French company Panhard, at one time a car manufacturer but now build military vehicles. It's a 851cc flat twin of 'about 50 bhp' that was used in their 'PL17' car built in the 60s.
A blog I found gives a small amount of information plus some photos:

Note very early looking brake calipers - possibly from a car?

Doesn't look so smart here! Very car like dials.

There was also one in the museum in Reims that I visited later on that trip, but I've no idea how many more were built.
Here's an extra treat for you. When I was looking for details of this bike, I found an example of the car that donated the engine, the Panhard PL17 on French Ebay.

How cool is that? Compare that to the cars we could get in Britain in 1961 - it looks like a spaceship in comparison! If I was a millionaire I'd definitely have one of these in my collection.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Etape du Tour - Day 4

The Big Day arrives.......

Up at about 04:00 and out of the apartment by 05:00, to drive to Albertville for the start of the Étape. It was dark and wet when we left, and the drive over the mountain passes was 'interesting'. I got as close to the Parc Olympique (starting point of the Étape) as I could and dropped David and Tony off.

Yes, it was that dark and wet just before the 06:45 start! That's the van in the background.

I struggled to get away from the Parc as there were thousands of cyclists coming the other way using both sides of the road. The Étape had about 10,000 participants, and they all seemed to be coming down a street towards me at the same time! I eventually got out of town and found an off road area where I could stop and managed a couple of hours sleep in the van (extremely uncomfortable!)
Once the nearby supermarket opened, I went in to buy some breakfast (had no time that morning), and headed south to La Toussuire-Les Sybelles, where the Étape would finish. The weather was clearing up, and it became quite sunny as I headed down the road avoiding the Autoroute. At one point, the Étape route went over a bridge over the road I was on and there was a constant 'string' of riders.
The 'main' road into La Toussuire was closed due to being part of the course, so traffic was diverted up what was probably the windiest, tightest, and narrowest road I've ever driven on. Challenging (and scenic) enough on a bike, but a bit of a struggle in a van. Eventually, I got to within 1km of the finish, where one of the organisers got me to turn round and park. As this was on a very narrow road with an unfenced sheer drop at one side, I had to do about a 17 point turn and put a lot of faith in his directions!!
By this point, the sun had come out and it was unbelievably hot (c. 30 degrees?). It was bad enough just walking about, so I can't imagine what it would have been like cycling uphill.
I had a few hours to kill until David and Tony were expected to finish, so I had a wander round the town, and had a good look at all the stuff set up in the town centre for the event.

Saw this wandering jazz band entertaining the crowd, inexplicably dressed in tabards printed to look like fruit!
There was also a huge television screen set up that was showing live coverage of the Tour de France, and I also saw that wheel manufacturer Mavic had a couple of 'support bikes' carrying wheels to competitors.

Eventually the commentators announced the immediate arrival of the first rider and a huge roar went up from the crowd. After that there was a steady stream of arrivals, and I walked down the course to watch riders of the last couple of climbs and hairpin bends. The last km or so was lined in spectators who cheered and clapped as every competitor passed to encourage them. Some random pictures of riders near the finish:

The commentator then announce the immanent arrival of the first woman, mentioning that she had finished second the previous year, but had won the year before. As she approached, the crowd let up a huge roar and she sprinted towards the line with a wide grin on her face – she knew she had won!
By this time there was a steady stream of finishers, and it was heartening to see riders who had obviously ridden together, join hands as they crossed the line. I saw one rider, an older man, wobbling about 50 metres from the finish line, not looking as if he could go any further. Suddenly another rider came up from behind, grabbed his seat post, and pushed him over the line. I thought that the line in Kraftwerk's 'Tour de France - 'Camarades et amitie ' - ('Comrades and friendship'), was neatly summed up in that gesture.
Eventually David finished despite losing a contact lens (which slowed his descents due to difficulty judging distance), a broken saddle (the titanium baseplate had snapped forcing him to stand on the pedals), and a seriously painful knee (he could hardly bend it when he stopped), but he had made it.

I also saw a one armed man finishing (image how difficult it would be for him holding the handlebars when standing, let alone using brakes and gears), and later a one legged man! He didn't have a prosthetic leg, so rode entirely using one pedal. He must have had someone to help him start and stop, as I can't work out how he could do that by himself.
They had the presentation of prizes for both men and women:

David got a phone call from Tony saying that he had run out of time at the bottom of the last climb and would be collected by the 'broom wagon'. We found out later that only about 40% of the participants had finished, so about 6,000 people and their bikes had to be collected from the route and taken to La Toussuire in a fleet of buses and trucks. Needless to say, this took some time, but I'm more surprised that a feat like this could be done at all.
This route is the hardest in this year's Tour, and this is the one that the professionals will be doing today. (Watch for it on television to see how difficult it is). This coupled with the very hot weather explains why so many riders ran out of time. David also reported seeing an unusually high number of people suffering punctures, which in turn would have cost riders time.
Eventually we were all reunited, loaded into the van, and headed back to the apartment. For some reason, we had all underestimated how long this would take (nearly 3 hours!) which meant that we got back about 00:30. I went to bed, but David stayed up to about 02:00 packing his bike and luggage back into the van, as we had an early start to get to the airport..........

David finished the course in 7 hours, 16 minutes, 27 seconds, an average speed of 14.5 km/h. He's posted some photos here.