Sunday 31 May 2015

Interesting building

I'm a fan of finding new uses for achitecturally interesting but unwanted buildings. On a recent trip to Torphins, Aberdeenshire, I found this good example.

The former church has been transformed into a Scotmid cooperative supermarket, including a bakery and Post Office.

I like how a modern shop has been built inside the building retaining a lot of the original features.

A great use of an unused building and a new 'centre' of the community in the village.

Article about the conversion here.

Friday bike

Sorry I've been a bit quiet recently, but a mixture of being very busy at my new job, some ill health, and not finding anything interesting enough to post, has let to a bit of a silence.

This week's Friday bike is one I've always had a bit of a soft spot for.

Yamaha XS650

The XS650 is interesting in that it didn't start out as a Yamaha design. Long gone Japanese manufacturer Hosk developed a 500cc twin in the late 50s based on an NSU design. Hosk were owned by Showa, best known for their suspension, and were sold to Yamaha in the early 60s. From the Hosk design the XS650 was developed, being launched in 1970 as the XS-1. This was followed by the XS-2, and later the XS650. Here in the UK we didn't get the XS650 until 1975, when it was the biggest bike in the Yamaha range.

I remember thinking about buying one back in 1979, but I wanted to buy a new bike, Yamaha had replaced the 'normal' XS650 with the hideous custom styled 'SE' version, and it would have been more than I could have afforded anyway.
Just........ no!

Very popular with the custom crowd, very few good XSs still exist and are a bit expensive as a result. Most seem to have been turned into choppers, flat trackers, or hipster cafe racers. Back in 1986, I moved house and a friend of a friend who lived nearby was working on an XS 650 'project'. He had fitted an XS engine into a Norton Featherbed frame and was building a 60s styled cafe racer out of it. He moved house soon after, so I never saw the completed bike (if it was ever finished!). Found a picture on the Web of a similar bike.
Make Model
Yamaha XS 650C
Air cooled, four stroke, parallel twin cylinder, SOHC, 2 valves per cylinder.
Bore x Stroke 75 x 74 mm
Compression Ratio 8.4:1
2x Mikuni carbs
Ignition  /  Starting
Battery, induction coil  /  electric & kick
Max Power
50 hp 36.4 kW @ 7200 rpm
Max Torque
54 Nm @ 6800 rpm
Transmission  /  Drive
5 Speed  /  chain
Front Suspension
Telescopic forks
Rear Suspension
Swinging fork
Front Brakes
Single 267m discs 1 piston calipers
Rear Brakes
Front Tyre
Rear Tyre
Dry Weight
215 kg
Fuel Capacity 
15 Litres

Sunday 17 May 2015

Friday bike update

After I'd posted last week's Friday bike, the Yamaha AG200, I got an e-mail from Bob McGrath in Australia with some photos he'd taken when on a run of a farmer (and his dog) on an AG 200, showing how thay are used over there.

Many thanks to Bob for sending the photos. The Ambassador looks very interesting, what other bikes were you on?

Saturday 16 May 2015

North Coast 500

Anyone planning on touring in the Scottish Highlands should visit a new Website promoting the 'North Coast 500'. This is a planned route through the Highlands which takes in some of the best scenery.

Not much on the Website at present, but you can download maps and GPS files. They also have a Facebook page, and readers in the UK can see a feature on the route from the BBC programme 'Landward' on the iPlayer for the next 29 days.

Motorcycle parking

Was in Basingstoke for a couple of days on a training course, and my company put me up at the local Premier Inn. Outside they had this superb motorcycle parking area.
Room for six bikes, locking loops, right at the front door and visible from Reception. I've stayed at a few Premier Inns since I started my current job, but this is the first dedicated bike parking area I've seen. Don't know if any other Premier Inns, or any other hotels, have a similar arrangement, but it would sway me when it came to choosing which hotel to stay in.

Monday 11 May 2015

Royal Enfield takes over Harris Performance

All stolen from MSL's Facebook page.

BREAKING NEWS: Royal Enfield takes over Harris Performance.
After working with RE on the Continental GT frame, Royal Enfield are to acquire all assets, employees, trade names, technical know-how and intellectual property of Harris Performance Products Ltd.
“Royal Enfield is working on its new generation of products and platforms" said Siddhartha Lal, CEO Royal Enfield. "To have the Harris Performance team dedicatedly working with us will clearly enhance our engineering and product design capabilities. Their proven expertise, deep insight and understanding of motorcycling and Royal Enfield will be invaluable for us in our journey towards achieving leadership in the global mid-sized motorcycling segment.”
Alongside successful relationships with the Royal Enfield brand, Harris Performance has been the only manufacturer from UK to have been officially commissioned by Yamaha and Suzuki to design, develop and manufacture race bikes for Grand Prix and World Superbike.
Siddhartha continued: “All of the current staff at Harris Performance will now become employees of Royal Enfield, taking responsibility of performance and development engineering for our new range of motorcycles. They will be part of Royal Enfield’s upcoming UK Tech Centre.”
Speaking of their association with Royal Enfield, Steve Harris, Founder, Harris Performance said: “Having worked with Eicher Motors Ltd’s motorcycle brand Royal Enfield for a number of years as a Technical Partner, we have experienced first-hand their capability, commitment, and ambition for their motorcycles and accessories. We are proud to be integrated into the Eicher family, the founders and staff of Harris Performance look forward contributing to Royal Enfield’s continued success”.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Friday bike

Yamaha AG 200

Always loved the look of these. The Yamaha AG 200 is sold in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Africa and South America. It's a fairly basic 200cc single with front and rear racks, engine and handlebar protection bars, and a fully enclosed and protected chain.
Sold to farmers and NGOs, it provides rugged off road ability with a high degree of 'crashability'. It's been in Yamaha's range since at least 2002, so spares and owner experience shouldn't be too much of a problem, very useful when you might be far from a dealer.
A couple of features I like - a propstand on each side with suitable large foot to allow easy parking on uneven and soft ground, and it has a 'lock' on the clutch lever to allow you to stop it out of gear without having to find neutral.
Why can't we get bikes as practical as this - I'd love one!

Product Information

Product name AG200F
Short description Agricultural use vehicle
Description 4-stroke 196 cc, agricultural use vehicle
Overall length 2,160mm
Overall width 930mm
Overall height 1,155mm
Seat height 830mm
Wheelbase 1,345mm
Minimum ground clearance 255mm
Wet(with oil and a full fuel tank) 126kg
Minimum turning radius 2.0m
Transmission type Constant mesh 5-speed


Engine type Air cooled,4-stroke,SOHC,2valve
Cylinder arrangement Single cylinder
Displacement 196cm3
Bore & stroke 67.0 X 55.7mm
Compression ratio 9.5 : 1
Maximum horse power 11kW(14.3PS)/7500r/min
Maximum torque 15N・m(1.5kgf・m)/6500r/min
Starting system type Kick
Lubrication system Force-feed lubrication,wet sump
Engine oil capacity 1.3L
Fuel tank capacity 10 L
Carburetor Type/Fuel supply Carburetor
Ignition system type CDI(Capacitor discharge ignition)
Spark plug model D8EA,X24ES-U
Battery voltage/capacity 12V,6AH(10HR)
Final drive Chain
Clutch type Wet,multiple-disc
Transmission type Constant mesh 5-speed
Shift type Return
Frame type Diamond
Caster angle 27°55′
Trail 87mm
Tire size(Front) 80/100-21-51M(Tube type)
Tire size(Rear) 4.10-18-59M(Tube type)
Brake type(Front) Mechanical leading trailing shoe brake (Drum brake)
Brake type(Rear) Mechanical leading trailing shoe brake (Drum brake)
Front suspension Telescopic
Rear suspension Swingarm
Shock absorber
Shock absorber assembly type(Front) Coil spring/oil damper
Shock absorber assembly type(Rear) Coil spring/gas-oil damper
Wheel travel(Front) 200mm
Wheel travel(Rear) 165mm
Inner tube diameter of front fork 35.0mm

Standard Accessories

  • Anti-theft device
  • Brake light
  • Head light, front
  • Horn
  • Owner’s manual
  • Rear-view mirrors, left & right
  • Side indicators, front & rear
  • Speedometer
  • Stand
  • Tail light
  • Basic tool kit
  • Cargo carrier, front & rear
  • Clutch lever lock
  • Hand protector
  • Lamp protector
  • Sump guard
  • Mud guards, front & rear
  • Engine guard, skid plate under engine

(From Yamaha's Website)

Roadtest in New Zealand magazine.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Friday bike

Further to my previous post about the Malaguti Olympique moped, here's the other end of the spectrum.
 Jawa Mustang

The Jawa Mustang was Czechoslovakian built, and whilst not being anywhere near as good as a Japanese or Italian moped, it was much cheaper.

Lower power that other mopeds, and restricted by only having a 3 speed gearbox, you would think that the importers would have taken the 'pile them high and sell them cheap' approach to marketing. After all, a lot of 16 year olds didn't have much money and would be looking for cheap basic transport.
However, the importers tried to tart the bike up by fitting a race type fairing, finished in 'glitterflake silver', (wooo!) and running pathetic adverts like this.

I remember seeing a few in bike shops at the time, and the fairing was one of the cheapest pieces of brittle plastic I had seen, badly fitted, and the headlight still turned with the steering, so on full lock shone inside the fairing! I never saw one on the road, and have never even heard of one since – no surprise there!

Engine and transmission
Displacement:49.90 ccm (3.04 cubic inches)
Engine type:Single cylinder, two-stroke
Power:4.00 HP (2.9 kW)) @ 6000 RPM
Top speed:70.0 km/h (43.5 mph)
Max RPM:8000
Bore x stroke:38.0 x 44.0 mm (1.5 x 1.7 inches)
Fuel system:Carburettor. Jikov 2917
Fuel control:Port control
Cooling system:Air
Transmission type,
final drive:
Clutch:wet plate
Fuel consumption:3.00 litres/100 km (33.3 km/l or 78.41 mpg)
Greenhouse gases:69.6 CO2 g/km. (CO2 - Carbon dioxide emission)
Exhaust system:single pipe with muffler
Chassis, suspension, brakes and wheels
Frame type:welded steel frame
Front tyre:2,5-16
Rear tyre:2,75-16
Front brakes:Expanding brake (drum brake)
Rear brakes:Expanding brake (drum brake)
Physical measures and capacities
Dry weight:62.0 kg (136.7 pounds)
Power/weight ratio:0.0645 HP/kg
Fuel capacity:8.00 litres (2.11 gallons)
Other specifications
Color options:red, blue, yellow