This blog started when I owned and MZ Skorpion Traveller and a bike magazine dismissed it with the phrase 'you can't tour on a single'. The Skorpion's gone and I now have a Triumph Bonneville, but I can't be bothered changing the title of the blog!
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The end of another year! Not an awful lot to report, but things are moving forward.
I've stayed in the same job for another year, and have been commuting each day on my Honda PCX125.
I've been really enjoying riding the scooter, what it lacks in power it more than makes up for in ease of riding.
My Triumph had been running badly and as the weather had got colder over the winter it became harder to start. Eventually it was so bad that I had to heat the engine with a heatgun before it would start at all! I was very busy at work so arranged to have it serviced and starting problems looked at my local Triumph dealer - Triumph Glasgow. They were in the process of moving to new premises, so I had to wait a couple of weeks before they could take my bike in. Problem was debris that had built up in the tank and had made its way into the carbs - it was now clear that the bike hadn't been used for a while before I'd bought it.
With the Triumph in the shop, I went to my first bike event of the year on my scooter, Bikes on the Beach at Largs.
Really good turnout and a sunny day, but the trip showed up the scooter's lack of power a bit! There are more 'Bikes on the Beach' events planned round Scotland next year, list here.
Around the same time I sold my silver MZ Skorpion Traveller. I'd had the bike for 17 years and had many trips on it , both home and abroad. This ended my connection with the MZ brand as I'd owned bikes built by them for around 30 years.
Next big event was my two week Trip Round the Neighbours tour of Ireland, France and Belgium, including a visit to the Coupes Moto Legende event near Dijon. Had a great holiday and everything went well - good weather (never had my waterproofs on!), Great roads and cities, bike ran really well and showed its abilities as a tourer, and I really enjoyed myself.
Next event was the Ayr Classic Show, always a good show and well worth going to.
I was out on the Triumph fairly regularly over the summer, and the next event was The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. This is a world wide charity ride where riders dress up in their finery and ride through a city (Glasgow in my case). A great day out, but horrendous weather! Couldn't believe how wet it was, but we had a good time and I met a number of interesting people.
Yesterday my friend David and I went a 400 miles /600km round trip to Darlington to collect a bike he'd bought.
We drove in my car to the van hire depot with -4 degrees showing on the display!
Our van for the trip - a Renault Trafic
We headed off into thick fog that didn't clear for about 60 miles/100km and as the road got higher there was more and more snow at the side. Crossing Beattock Summit (highest point on the trip) the display showed -9 degrees!
Only on the last 40 miles/60km or so of the trip did it brighten up and the temperature rise above freezing (just!)
We found the seller's house, David bought the bike, and we loaded it into the van for the trip back. Temperature was about the same, but at least the fog had cleared. We had a stop for coffee each way, and along with the time at the seller's house and returning the van, it took us about 8 hours all in.
What we went to get - David with his 1980 Honda C90 (Cub in a lot of countries other than Britain). Really good condition for a 37 year old bike.
Here's something we didn't think we'd see again - a road going 2 stroke sports bike!
The Vans Duecinquanta is, as far as I know, still at the prototype stage, so may never see the light of day. It's got a wide angle 250cc V-twin two stroke engine,
housed in a carbon fibre monocoque frame with a BMW like front end and a horizontally mounted rear shock.
Only information I could find is on their website, which is in Italian (which I cannot understand.)
If this ever see the light of day, it's bound to be expensive (one website put the price as around £35,000 = 39,000 Euros = US$47,000), and therefore very rare. Also how a 2 stroke would get round current emissions regulations is anyone's guess.
Return of the Friday bike, and this time there are two variants of the one design. Royal Enfield have launched their much anticipated 650cc twin in two guises.
Royal Enfield Interceptor 650
Royal Enfield Continental GT 650
Interesting bikes and similar in concept to the Triumph Bonneville and Thruxton models. Both are powered by the same 650cc 4 valve, DOHC engine that is fitted with a 270 degree crankshaft. This arrangement was previously used on the Yamaha TRX850, and gives the engine the same firing intervals and 'feel' of a V twin. This could be a hint towards which bike Royal Enfield seeing their bikes being in competition to - the Indian built Harley Davidson Street 750. (What, you thought Harleys were only built in the US? Better not mention the HD factory in Thailand then!)
Talking of the US, the Interceptor will be marketed there and Canada as the INT 650, I think Honda hold the rights to Interceptor in those countries.
As for the important questions - how good will it be? How much will it cost? When will I be able to buy one? - we'll have to wait and see. I know of someone who ordered a Royal Enfield Himalayan, but after months of waiting and numerous promises of delivery dates, it never arrived so he ended up cancelling and buying something else. If Royal Enfield want to be taken as a serious company, they have to address concerns like that.
Royal Enfield twins website, and here's a promotional video. Note that the bikes appear to have been developed at RE's R&D department in the UK.
Following on from the success of the North Coast 500, another tourist route in Scotland has been launched, the North East 250. As the name suggests, this is a loop round the North East and has a good mixture of coastal roads and routes through the Grampian mountains.
I've probably ridden the majority of the route and one time or another, and it's definitely worth thinking about if you're planning a trip to Scotland. As for us who live in the Central Belt, this could easily be done in a long weekend.
Yamaha have shown a number of concept trikes recently including the 'off road scooter' styled 03GEN-X.
Certainly different! However, I think it's an interesting concept - an 'adventure scooter' for riders with a disability. Having a 3 wheels layout with 2 wheels at the front will give it stability, it has a luggage rail behind the saddle to carry a folding wheelchair, and large footplates to support the riders feet (I assume these could be fitted with straps for riders with poor foot control).
Really cool styling, although I'm not sure about the woodgrain rear mudguard panel!
Will it ever reach the shops? Who knows, but it's good to see a major manufacturer thinking about riders with mobility problems - lot cooler than one of those electric mobility scooters!
Held up tonight on the way home from work due to the M8 motorway being closed. Lots of emergency vehicles and a Police helicopter hovering overhead. Apparently a man had climbed onto to one of the overhead signs.
Rode the scooter to the head of the very long queue, but was let through after about 15 - 20 minutes.
Took part in the VERY wet DGR today in Glasgow. Despite the weather there was a very good turnout and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I had to wear waterproofs over my suit, but my (non-motorcycling) boots and allegedly 'waterproof' gloves soaked through fairly quickly. I also wore an open face helmet for the first time since I was 17, and now know why - my face felt like it was being sandblasted when I was riding in the rain!
Despite the bad weather, I managed to take loads of photos, so here's the first selection of them. More photos and a more complete write up later.
We met up at the Fort Shopping Centre - yes, that's me!
We then made out way to George Square in the city centre. - Just look how wet it is!
We then headed to Triumph Glasgow's showroom at Hillington.
Some dapper chaps.
Band playing in Triumph Glasgow's showroom
One of my favourites. This used to be a Yamaha XV750 Virago - looks a lot better now!
My Friend David's 1959 BMW R60/2 at George Square
Is this yours, Shirley?
This Ariel won 'Best Bike'.
There was also a display by the classic Triumph car club
This dog was so friendly that I had to take its picture!
One of the charities we were raising money for.
My brother came to see the Ride and took a couple of photos of me (from his blog).
That's me got all of my riding ensemble ready, the bike just needs a good polish and its fetlocks oiled, and I'll be ready for the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride on Sunday.
So far, there are 63,000 riders booked in worldwide, with 147 on the Glasgow ride I'll be taking part in. Donations have reached US$2.6Million (£1.9 million), more than halfway towards the target of US$5 million (£2.6 million). The Glasgow ride has raised £6750 so far, but there's still plenty of time for you to donate!
For understandable reasons, the organisers don't give out route details to non-riders, but if you happen to be in George Square in Glasgow at about 11:30 - 12:00, you might just see us!
There's still time to register for your local ride here, and feel free to donate on my fundraising page here.
Further to my last post about the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride, it's now only 4 weeks to go and there are 25,000 riders booked in world wide, and US$1.1 million has been raised towards the US$5 million target.
There are 87 riders booked for the Glasgow ride so far, so we should have a good turnout. We are going to have a 45 minute stop at George Square for photos and so the public can see the bikes (and riders!) After that we ride on to an event at Triumph Glasgow's showroom at Hillington. If you're in the area, please come along and support the event.
One aspect to the DGR that I disagree with is the so called 'style guide', which lists the types of bikes welcome. I thought this was about people dressing up and raising money for charity, rather than restricting it to certain types of bike. Especially when some of the styles - bobbers, brat style, etc - are likely to be as transient a fashion style as the hipsters who ride them. Why not open it up to every style of bike and scooter? But it's not my ride, so I don't make the rules.
However, the style guide would allow in old Eastern European bikes. Back in my MZ 2 stroke days this would have been the sort of thing we would have jumped at, so come on MZers, Jawa/CZ riders, and those of you with old Soviet bikes - sign up and outnumber the hipsters! We want more bikes like this!
And what about you Royal Enfield riders? Let's see you there!
I'll probably post again before the event, don't forget to donate on my page.
(Thanks to Stuart Anderson for his recent donation).