Saturday 31 December 2016

Looking back at 2016

It’s that time of year again when I look back at what I’ve been up to and I’ve done and not done.

Firstly, after 2015 being the year when I had 3 full time jobs, I’ve stayed in the same job all year. Things are going well and I don’t think that it’s very likely I’ll be looking for anything else.

An unexpected and unplanned year as far as bikes are concerned. I started the year with my silver Traveller being used for riding to work, my white Traveller being close to being back on the road, my Yamaha SZR 660 project nearly completed, and my Honda CL 350 project stalled.

My plan was to use the silver Traveller as my ‘trips’ bike, the white Traveller as my commuting bike, the Yamaha to be completed and sold, and the Honda to be worked on. However it didn’t quite work out that way!

I got the white Traveller completed and on the road by April and started commuting on it. This gave me time to do some jobs on the silver Traveller in readiness for summer runs. However, in late summer I started feeling that I wanted a change as I’d been riding only Skorpions for 16 years, so in August I bought a 2003 Triumph Bonneville T100.

I can’t really explain this change of heart, but I think you can get a bit jaded with riding the same bike, I had a bit of spare money and it came up at the right price at the right time.

This meant that one of the Skorpions would have to go and I quickly found a buyer for the white bike. He flew over from Ireland and rode it back.

New owner taking part in toy run

This meant that the silver bike now became my commuter. It was OK at doing the job, but riding a 660cc bike in stop/start traffic isn’t ideal so I started thinking about what to replace it with. As I rarely have the opportunity to do more than 50 mph (80 km/h) during my commute, something smaller and with an automatic clutch would be ideal. As luck would have it, as soon as I started looking, a Honda PCX 125 scooter came up near my work at the right price!

In the 41 years I’ve been riding bikes I’ve never owned a scooter and had only ridden one a couple of times, so was a bit hesitant. Two minutes into the test ride I knew I’d made the right decision! It’s great fun to ride, very easy through traffic, fast enough, and uses about half the fuel the Skorpion did.

As for my remaining bikes, the silver Traveller will be for sale soon, I’ll have to finish the SZR 660 and get it sold (didn’t I say that last year?), then get back to work on the CL 350 (likewise!)

Didn’t manage any big trips on the bikes this year, but I’ve got some things planned. I did have a trip to France for work, so at least I got away once in the year.

I’ve been continuing with the yoga classes I’ve been going to, and early in the year started going swimming regularly. I used to swim a lot about 25 years ago, but moving house, getting married, etc got in the way and I stopped going. A friend encouraged me to go again, and I could barely manage one length of the pool! However I persevered and now do 30 lengths of a 25 metre pool once a week. I once did 40 lengths, but I thought my arms were going to drop off! I also go for a 30 minute walk round a park every day at work, and with this, yoga and swimming I’ve been feeling a lot better and fitter.

Not much to report socially – 2 concerts, 1 comedy night, 2 meals out, and no dates.

Got a lot of plans for next year, but that’s another post!

Friday 23 December 2016

Friday bike

Here's a bike from a manufacturer I hadn't heard of before.

UM Renegade Sport S

UM International is a US based company that has entered into a joint venture with Lohia Auto to built motorcycles in India. The Renegade is a cruiser with a single cylinder 278cc 4 stroke engine producing 25 bhp.

Whether or not we ever see the Renegade outside of India is another question, but in India it costs about the same as a Royal Enfield 500 Bullet (around £4000 in the UK).

Good to see more manufacturers selling ranges of bikes and expanding the choices available to buyers. Found this video about prototypes of the Renegade in its Sport S and Commando variants.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Trip to France

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently, but I was on a business trip to France, didn’t have access to a computer, so took an ‘Internet holiday’.

I was visiting a factory in the town of Vendôme that was building a piece of equipment for the company I work for, so me and two of my workmates had to go to have a look at it.

As you can see, Vendome is about 180 km South West of Paris, and we had a slightly involved journey there. For some reason, our flight was from Edinburgh Airport, so I headed off early in the mopning to pick up the others and leave my car at the airport. From there it was a flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, a bus to Gare Monparnasse (railway station), a TGV to Vendrôme, and finally a taxi to our hotel. We arrived late enough for half of the journey to be in the dark, so didn’t really appreciate how fast the TGV was.

Our hotel - image from Google Maps

As we spent long days in the factory (9 – 10 hours), I didn’t see the town in daylight until a half hour ‘window’ on the last day, so my photos are a bit dull. Also, neither of my workmates could speak French at all; our host, the salesman from the UK division of the company we were visiting, couldn’t speak it either, so it was left to me to deal with things with my rudimentary knowledge of the language! Add to that, I knew that as a vegetarian I would have some difficulties finding food, and this was compounded by one of my workmates being a vegan – fun and games ahead!

Vendrôme is a very nice town so here’s a selection of photos:

Tower in middle of town. Has a plaque commemorating British airmen who were stationed nearby during WW1.
Church that had an ice-skating rink in its inner courtyard!

Really nice shop.

Another church illuminated at night.

Workmen were fitting Christmas lights to the wall beside the river. Typical French approach to Health and Safety!

Porte St Georges - only surviving gate (of four) that guarded the entrances to the town centre.

View of town at nightfall from castle.

Christmas lights in street outside our hotel.

As it turned out, we didn’t have too much difficulty finding vegetarian and vegan food, it was just a question of asking in restaurants and they would make us something specially. I found an Indian restaurant with its menu in English and had expected that it would be British owned, (or at least by English speaking Indians), but they didn’t understand English at all! Worked everything out in broken French and very good it was too!

We headed home on Saturday morning, and being in daylight we could see just how fast the TGV was. You know you’re going quickly but it’s only when you pass a road and the cars seem like they are stopped do you realise just how fast you’re going – 320km/h, 200mph!

Our very fast train pulling into the station.

We had a couple of hours in Paris before we had to catch the bus to the airport so went for a walk. We headed towards the Eiffel Tower, but it was just too far away for us to get to in the time we had. I hadn’t been to Paris for about 35 years, so it was great to have a look around. One thing that strikes you is the amount of scooters.

Just about every street was like this!

Met this familiar friend!

Eiffel Tower in distance.

Sheep keeping the grass short in centre of city.

Don't know what this is, but it looked really nice.

Entrance to underground railway station.

Who needs parking radar!

After that it was onto the bus to the airport, our flight back, then a drive back home. I wish I could have had more time to see things, but you can’t complain when someone else is paying for your trip!

Sunday 27 November 2016

Friday bike

How cool are this range of electric bikes from Juicer?

More details on their website.

Friday 11 November 2016

Friday bike

1962 DMW 'Deemster'

Now here's a rarity - the DMW Deemster. Launched in 1962, the Deemster was an attempt by British firm DMW to break into the Ariel Leader/Velocette Vogue 'enclosed small tourer' market.

A strange motorcycle/scooter hybrid, it was powered by a Villiers 250cc two stroke twin engine, and had 12 inch wheels and leading link forks. A sales failure, it was bought by a number of Police forces.

Fully enclosed version carrying an AA patrolman - looks like an early version of the BMW C1!


Friday 4 November 2016

Friday bike

Royal Enfield twin prototype

This week's Friday bike is one you can't buy yet. A twin cylinder prototype Royal Enfield has been spotted being roadtested.

No details yet other than it's believed to be around 750cc and will be launched in India in 2017 and Europe (and possibly other countries) in 2018.

The prototype uses a modified frame and running gear from one of RE's existing singles, and the cylinder head looks similar to the OHC Himalayan single they showed some time ago - possibly that engine 'doubled up'?

Also in the news, another Indian firm, car/truck/tractor manufacturer Mahindra has purchased the rights to the BSA and Jawa brands. They released they following staement: (stolen from here.)

New BSAs could be built in Britain within the next two years, according to Rajesh Jejurikar, President and Chief Executive of Mahindra's Farm Equipment and Two Wheeler division.
Following last week's news that the Indian giant has bought the rights to the BSA name from British company BSA-Regal, Jejurikar told BikeSocial that plans are underway to design, develop and manufacture the first new models to bear the BSA name since 1999 in the UK, with the first models optimistically slated for a 2019 release.
BSA, which stands for ‘Birmingham Small Arms’ has been bought by Classic Legends, a subsidiary of Mahindra, and bosses at the Indian company have identified that they are looking to identify ‘BSA stylists’ and that they want to design, engineer and hopefully build the bike in the Midlands.
Jejurikar stated that they were keen that the new bikes be "produced in the UK, close to the place of origin" although he could not rule out that the production line would be at the Mahindra-owned Peugeot Scooters factory in France, stating that the project was still in a very early stage and that no major decisions had been made.
Likewise, no decision has been made on what kind of bikes the new BSA concern will be manufacturing, however Jejurikar added that the plan was to remain true to the traditional BSAs, with suggestions that a 500-750cc single will most likely be the new company’s first model.
While the massive Mahindra organisation provides the money behind the project, the Indian giant is keen that BSA remains its own brand, however the parent company does have an impressive roster of companies that can help get BSA back into production if need be, not least the aforementioned production and distribution facilities of Peugeot, the Mahindra Moto3 race team development centre in Italy and the Pininfarina design house famous for styling some of the world’s most iconic supercars.
The investment from Mahindra promises to be a major shot in the arm for the British motorcycle industry, potentially in the same way that another Indian giant, Tata Motors, has transformed the Jaguar Land Rover group.
Jejurikar added: “India is unique and the only other nation capable of truly understanding the classic British motorcycle. Through the British Raj we had a lot of British bikes sold in our country and many learned to ride on classic British bikes. We are keen for the bikes to be produced in Britain, that is our endeavour, and we want the new BSA to represent the honest engineering for which British bikes are so renowned.”
Ironically, despite the Indian investment, it is unlikely that any new BSAs will be sold in the parent company’s homeland. Mahindra state categorically that the BSA models are being designed for the ‘developed world’ with a key focus on North America and Europe. There is also an ongoing legal battle regarding the use of the BSA name in India that may preclude the new Mahindra owned company from being sold under the trademark in the country anyway, although Classic Legends has also purchased a licence to the historic Czech brand JAWA, which will be applied to a range of products for the Indian market.

Interesting days ahead?

Friday 28 October 2016

Friday bike

Got deep pockets and like carbon fibre?


All you need to know: 200 bhp (Aprilia RSV4 engine), 175Kg, and 150,000 Euros (= £135,000 = US$165,000).

Unusual front suspension

Even more unusual rear suspension

Manufacturer's website.

Thursday 27 October 2016

Every Picture Tells a Story #9 - the next bit

This is an extra bit leading on from a post on my brother's blog. I can't add a picture in the replies to his post, so I've posted it here.
Firstly, read his post here.

This is what happened next:

When we got to the campsite I laid my bike on its side and took the clutch cover off  It was clear what the problem was - the primary gear was missing about a third of its teeth! They must have broken off when I dropped the clutch and there was no way the bike was going any further under its own steam. I used to have a photo of myself standing over the dismantled bike - if I find it I'll post it later.

Lacking recovery insurance (a big mistake!) I had to leave the bike at the campsite and Stuart gave me a lift home. To make room for me he had to leave his 'luggage sack' behind. The following weekend I headed down in a hire van to collect my bike and Stuart's luggage. I was nearly at the campsite when the clutch in the van failed! This meant that it had to be recovered on an even bigger low loader, and I returned for the bike the following day in a replacement van. The bike was repaired with a spare gear from my 'huge pile of spares' and continued to be used for many more years.

The bike rally was organised by the Cossack Owners Club (for Soviet built bikes that were marketed under the Cossack name), and they gave me this wonderful 'Special Award'.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Coupes Moto Légende 2017

As regular readers will know, I went to the Coupes Moto Légende back in 2012. It was probably the best, and certainly the biggest, motorbike event I’ve ever been to.

For those that don’t know, it’s a huge classic bike event held every year at the Dijon-Prenoir circuit, just outside Dijon in France. There are lots of trade and club stands, old bikes being taken out on the track, stands selling all sorts of spares and accessories, as well as former racers taking bikes out for demonstration laps. They usually get about 30, 000 visitors so there’s plenty to see.

I’ve been meaning to return and as next year’s is the 25th event, they might put on something special. There’s nothing on their website yet, but I saw this reply on their Facebook page:

(Note: it automatically translates 'coupes' as 'cuts'.)

Now that the date’s been set I can start planning my trip. I haven’t been for a proper holiday for a number of years, but I’m a bit more financially stable, have a nice Bonneville I want to go on, and my current job is very generous with holidays.

I’m intending going for 2 to 3 weeks taking in the Coupes and anything else that takes my fancy. There’s going to be an MZ rally at Ballacolla in Ireland round about that time. I’ve been previously and have been meaning to return for years, ironically on the first non-MZ I’ve had on the road in 28 years!

A previous Ballacolla Rally - you don't often get that many Skorpions together!

I had planned that if the MZ rally is the weekend before the Coupes, I could get the ferry from Rosslare (Ireland) to Cherbourg (France), ride around France for a week, go to the Coupes, then make my way home. However, I discovered an interesting car racing event in Pau (France) that is usually held the weekend before the Coupes.

Poster for this year's event

Cars are raced on a circuit laid out on the streets through the centre of Pau. I rather fancy the Historic Grand Prix, as there are classes for 60s and 70s sports cars, Minis, etc.

As you can see from this video, lots of interesting cars.

So the plan has been hatched – if everything works out and the events are on consecutive weekends, I will go to the MZ rally in Ireland, get the ferry to France, ride about for a week then go to Pau, followed by another week of riding about then going to the Coupes.  After that it’ll be an easy ride to Zeebrugge (Belgium) for the ferry home.
1. Ballacolla, 2. Rosslare, 3. Cherbourg, 4. Pau, 5. Dijon, 6. Zeebrugge, 7. Hull.

OK, the events might not work out as planned, some could clash and I’ll end up only going to two, the Pound could collapse more against the Euro and I’ll have to ‘trim’ the trip a bit, But you’ve got to start planning somewhere! If anyone else is going to any of these events, come up and say 'hello'!

Useful stuff:
Coupes website here.
Coupes Facebook page here.
Grand Prix de Pau website here.
Grand Prix de Pau Facebook page here.
My visit in 2012 here.

Friday 21 October 2016

Friday bike

Not really my sort of thing.......

                                                                                                         ...but so well done!

2017 Triumph T120 Bobber

Triumph have just announced the Bobber which uses the 1200cc 'High Torque' engine from their T120. Very neatly done with an adjustable single saddle, a fake 'hard tail' style rear end, and lots of stylish details.

Love how the fuel injectors look like Amal Monobloc carbs with 'pancake' air filters! There's also a 'battery box' on the other side complete with steel retaining strap.
Triumph have announced hundreds of official accessories and no doubt all the aftermarket suppliers will be producing them as well.

Not sure about the bars on the one on the right!

What amazes me is that despite its stripped down look, it still has ABS, traction control, 'ride by wire' throttle, etc - where do they fit all the bits?
Delivery should start in the UK in March 2017 and I found a dealer listing them with a guide price of £10,500 = 11,800 Euros = US$12,800.

Here's a video with a couple of Triumph promos and an impression of the bike:

Friday 14 October 2016

Friday bike

I'm always interested in bikes that are a bit 'different', so here's the Indian market Honda Navi.

It's an unusual scooter/bike mixture with the engine and transmission from the 110cc Avtiva scooter married to motorcycle type styling.

I think it's quite funky looking with its small wheels and the very noticeable space below the tank...

... makes the idea place to carry luggage, as on this trail tyred version.

As it's aircooled and uses a carburettor it's very unlikely to pass European noise and emissions regulations, But who knows, we might get something similar one day.

Dimensions (Length x Width x Height)1805 mm x 748 mm x 1039 mm
Wheelbase1286 mm
Kerb Weight101 kg
Ground Clearance156 mm
Engine Displacement110cc single-cylinder air-cooled
Power7.83 BHP @ 7,000 rpm
Torque8.96 Nm @ 5,500 rpm
TransmissionCVT (Automatic)
Top Speed81 km/h
Suspension Front – TelescopicRear- Spring Loaded Hydraulic
Rear- Spring Loaded Hydraulic
BrakesFront – 130 mm DrumRear – 130 mm Drum
Rear – 130 mm Drum
40-50 kpl (approx.)

Sunday 9 October 2016

You can tour on a small single....

..... then ride it round a racetrack!

A lot of riders have ridden to the famous Nurburgring circuit in Germany and ridden round it, but doing it on a 110cc 8bhp Honda Super Cub!
That's what this rider did, and he went the long way - 18,000 km (11,000 miles) from South Korea!

Found this article on him, and his Instagram feed (in Korean) is here. (Lots of photos).

Now, what's that about needing a big bike to go touring.......?