Thursday 23 September 2021

SCMC Autumn Gathering

 On Sunday I went to the Scottish Classic Motorcycle Club Autumn Gathering at the Tullybannocher Café near Comrie in Perthshire. I've not been to a bike event for a long time and hadn't ridden the Triumph for weeks (I've been using the Suzuki for work each day) and had neglected it a bit. So much that the battery was completely flat and the warning lights wouldn't come on.

I'd bought an 'emergency starter', basically a lithium battery with leads attached, and started the bike using it. The makers claim that this will start a 2.5 litre car, so had no problem starting the Triumph. 

I was very low on petrol, so rode to the  local service station to fill up and had to use the starter again. It was raining and misty so I headed to Comrie by the 'main road route' taking the M8 motorway to Glasgow then the M80 past Stirling. There was very heavy rain through Glasgow, but the weather had brightened up by the time I got to the Tullybannocher Café. 

There was a good selection of classic bikes already there and others arrive whilst I wandered round the car park. Good to see all the bikes were ridden there, too many bikes turn up in vans or on trailers at shows. While I was there I met my brother Stuart plus a few friends including a couple I knew from my time in the Triumph Owners' Club. I took numerous photos and this video of a look round the carpark.

Of particular interest were no fewer than four old Indians, particularly rare and they left together with a Nimbus and a Triumph.

When I went to leave the battery was still too flat to start the bike so it was out with the starter again. I headed west to wards Lochearnhead then south towards Callandar. At Kilmahog I turned right to take the Duke's Pass to Aberfoyle. This is a good winding road with spectacular views, but half of it has recently been resurfaced leaving it covered in gravel. After that it was a fairly straightforward ride home. Total distance was about 140miles/225km, 

About an hour after I got home I tried starting it and it managed OK. However, I tried again tonight (Thursday) and the solenoid just clicked - looks like a faulty battery!

Some photos from the Gathering - more at my Flickr page.


Scottish Classic Motorcycle Club

Tullybannocher Café


Wednesday 7 July 2021

My old bike

 Was sent links to a number of Facebook posts concerning my old silver MZ Skorpion Traveller. I'd owned this bike for 17 years and had it set up for touring, but sold it about 5 years ago when I bought my Triumph Bonneville. The latest owner is building it into a café racer and fitting a Yamaha RD 350 YPVS engine to it! Interesting to say the least!

I've never heard of a Skorpion being fitted with a different engine, so this could be a first.


Saturday 12 June 2021

Suzuki SV 650

 Last year at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, I left my job and had intended on retiring. However, things change and I started a new job on Tuesday. I'm a maintenance engineer in a factory that makes electrical generators in the town of Dumbarton. The commute is 15 miles (24 km) each way, so I was looking for a commuting bike or scooter. Luckily my friend Kirstin had a Suzuki SV 650 for sale and we did a deal.

This bike is a 2004 model that has done 14,000 miles (22,500 km) and is in very good condition. It hadn't been used for a while so needed a new battery to get it started. It also needs new tyres and an MOT (annual safety check) and it'll be ready to go.

It also has a luggage rack and a large topbox (not fitted in the photos) that'll be handy for carrying my sandwiches.

In my 46 years of motorcycling, this is my first Suzuki and also my first V twin.

Sunday 23 May 2021

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride - Glasgow - 2021

 Rode into Glasgow today for the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride. It was a bit wet so I had to wear waterproofs on the way there, but it dried enough that I could take my overtrousers off. Once again, due to the Covid-19 restrictions this was a 'solo ride', with each participant riding by themselves and not in an organised group. I decided to ride around some landmark buildings in Glasgow and take some photos.

First stop was Glasgow Cathedral.

Next was George Square.

Coming away from George Square a Police van stopped next to me at a set of traffic lights and an officer looked at me in my dapper riding costume, smiled and gave me a 'thumbs up'! Next stop was  Riverside Museum

I had intended visiting Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum but crossed the river before I remembered! I rode on to one of my favourite Art Deco buildings, Luma Tower

I called in at Triumph Glasgow, finishing point of previous Rides, but it was closed and there was no-one there. (I had though some other riders might have been there). The rain started getting a bit heavy, so I headed home.

I was a bit disappointed that I didn't see anyone else taking part in the event, but that was inevitable due to us all riding separately. Hopefully next year's event will be a group ride once again.

The purpose of the Ride is to raise funds for cancer and mental health charities, and you can still donate on my page.

Monday 17 May 2021

A ride on the cyclepath

 Sorry for being a bit quiet but I haven't been anywhere interesting on my bike due to the, soon to be relaxed, Covid-19 restrictions.

About a week ago I went for a ride along my local cyclepath from Kilbarchan to Lochwinnoch. This is part of the Sustrans Route 7 and is built on the trackbed of the Dalry and North Johnstone Railway more commonly know as the 'Kilbarchan Loop', which closed in 1966.

It was a nice sunny day, so I decided to shoot some video, the first time I'd videoed from a bicycle. The camera was mounted on a chest strap with an external microphone clipped to a strap on my helmet. It was really just an experiment to see what it would be like.

Found a photo of the old Kilbarchan Station. I don't know when the photo was taken, but the line was only 2 tracks wide at the time, it was later widened to 4 tracks. Next to the station was a gasworks, so trains would stop on one of the 'extra' tracks to unload coal.

The 'tower' I pass is Kenmuir Hill Temple, more details here. Note the very Scottish euphemism ' made his money in the West Indies ' - he was a slave owner. When I was at school we were taught that no Scots were involved or profited from slavery, blatantly untrue, and there is still a degree of denial on the subject. I've walked up to the 'temple' a number of times, there is a very good view from it.

These photos were taken back in November and it was a bit misty

The outdoor centre at is within the Castle Semple Country park which has a lot of woodland walks.

It was a very nice day out but it reminded me of how unfit I am!

Sunday 18 April 2021

More Triumph Bonneville improvements.

 I've carried out a few more improvements to my Bonneville. Just small things that make the bike more useable and reliable.

First is upgrading all the lights to LED. These are more reliable (if you buy reasonable quality and not cheap unbranded lights from China on Ebay!), and draw less current. Most of the lights are a straight plug in, but you have to modify the wiring for the indicator warning light.

This is a bit fiddly as there's not much slack cable when you open up the dials. I had to replace the flasher unit with one suitable for LEDs, and that was the job done.

Whilst the dials were apart, I replaced the warning lights (except high beam), with LEDs.

Available here

These are much brighter than standard and can easily be seen in bright sunshine. So bright in fact that they would be too bright for the high beam warning, and would probably distract you at night, so a filament bulb is left in that.

Next was to replace the windscreen. The Givi windscreen I'd fitted was OK, but a bit small, the wind from it buffeted my head a bit, and I didn't like the way it wobbled about at speed. I had bought it cheaply on Ebay, so watched it case anything more suitable came up for sale. I eventually saw a screen made by Spanish firm Puig, and was lucky to get if fairly cheaply. Although it was listed as  'used', when it arrived the mounts were still in a bag with the instructions, so it looked like it had never been used.

Fitting was easy enough, and the new screen is slightly higher and sits at a more vertical angle, is wider, and is clear rather than tinted (which I prefer.) I went down to the coast for a run yesterday (first day that we in Scotland could travel outside our local are due to lockdown), and it was a great improvement. Less buffeting, more protection from the wind, and didn't wobble about. Old screen will be going back on Ebay soon! (May as well get some money back!)

Screen I got is made for the Kawasaki ER-5: link

Next a couple of improvements I made a while ago. When we can travel again I intend doing some touring and days out on the bike. Sometimes it's handy to be able to strap a bag onto the back of the saddle but the problem can be, where to attach the straps or bungees? You can buy 'bungee mounts' that replace the bolts at the top of your shocks, but for a fraction of the cost I bought some cheap generic paddock stand bobbins with the right sized holes (8mm)

 These bolted on in place of the shock top bolts and give a secure place to attach bungees. Cost about £5-6.

To give some more mounting points, I bought some stainless steel eyebolts with a 6mm thread.

These are available cheaply on Ebay and are made for boats. Cut to length and secured with a Nyloc stainless dome nut, these replace the nuts and bolts on the pannier frames.

Part of the fun of owning a motorbike is doing these little mods to make it suit the type of riding you do. You never really stop doing it, you can always think of more things to do. 

Friday 2 April 2021

Triumph Bonneville suspension improvements - update

 Since my previous post on the subject, I've managed to take the bike out for a ride to see how the uprated fork springs feel.
There's been a relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions so we can now travel within our local authority area, so had a trip round the backroads of Renfrewshire. (Nearly was a real rebel and crossed into Inverclyde!)

The front forks of the bike feel a LOT better - more comfortable over bumps, less diving under braking  and the whole bike feels more stable on the road. Well worth the money and yet another example of one of the things Triumph should have got right when building the bike!

On my route I passed a local Landmark, the Clochoderick Stone.

(Photo taken on my cheap phone with a grubby lens)

The stone is probably a large boulder left behind by a glacier a couple of million years ago, but that hasn't stopped people making up stories about it. The name might mean 'Stone of Ryderch, or Roderick, where the person in question was a local chieftain, king, druid, pagan etc, etc; and it might have been a place of worship, governance, dispensing of justice, etc etc. Truth is, nobody knows, so you can feel free to make up your own story.  The plaque next to the stone tells one story and there's another here.

The fork spring upgrade was well worth doing and is another step on the incremental path of improving the bike and making it more suitable for my needs. I've nearly done all the improvements I think it needs at the moment, but you know how it is, you never stop tweaking with them!

Monday 29 March 2021

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride 2021


I'll be riding in the Glasgow Distinguished Gentleman's Ride again this year. In a break from tradition, this will be held on Sunday 23rd May rather than in September as in previous years. Hopefully, this will mean better weather for the rides in the Northern Hemisphere.

The DGR is a worldwide event where motorcyclists dress in their finest clothes and ride their bikes around a city to raise funds for men's cancer and mental health charities. 2021 will be the 10th year of the event.

At time of writing, the Glasgow event will be a 'solo' ride like last year rather than a group event due to Covid-19 restrictions, however that may change before the ride.

I have registered that I will be taking part on my 1972 Honda CL350. I currently have it running and it has been round the block a few times, so I've got 2 months to get it running reliably. If not, I'll use the Triumph again.

More details on the DGR website

Please donate on my fundraising page.

Sunday 21 March 2021

Triumph Bonneville suspension improvements

 Hello everyone! Sorry for being quiet for quite a while, but with the Covid-19 restrictions there's been very little to report on. Hopefully, the end is in sight and we'll be able to get out and about again.

One of the areas for improvement on the Triumph Bonneville T100 is the suspension. Like a lot of the bike this has been built down to a price and is fairly basic. I've put up with it for 4 years now, but decided it was time to do something about it.


The standard Triumph rear shocks are very poor, and when I bought mine a previous owner had replaced them with a pair of unknown make. These were just as bad as the standard shocks and I couldn't find a setting for the preload that wasn't either very harsh or bottomed out on bumps. They did have a Schrader type valve for adjusting internal pressure, but it had a non-standard thread so I couldn't find a pump to fit. 

Also, the reservoirs got in the way when lifting the bike onto its stand and had I reversed them, they would foul on the Scottoiler.

I had a look at what was on the market and kept on eye on Ebay for used shocks. Eventually, a used pair of Hagon shocks for a Bonneville came up and I managed to 'win' them for £53.

I've had Hagon shocks (and the Girlings they are based on) on a number of bikes in the past, so I knew they were reasonable quality. They are a straight bolt on, although they are very slightly longer. Not enough that it's noticeable when sitting on the bike, but when it's on its centrestand, both wheels touch the ground.

They made a huge improvement, the bike is more comfortable, absorbs shocks from the road better, and is much more stable through corners.

I listed the old shocks on Ebay and got £50 for them, so the upgrade only cost £3!


Turning now to the front, the forks were always a bit 'soggy' so I bought a pair of uprated springs from Hagon: Springs

I bought these about a year ago, but with lockdown I only got round to fitting them this morning.

Fitting is straightforward - remove front wheel and mudguard, remove fork, remove top nut and pour out oil, spacer, washer and spring. Once all the old oil had drained, pour in fresh oil, 'pump' the forks to expel air from the damper and compress forks checking air space above oil is as printed on the spring box. Fit new spring, washer, spacer and top nut and replace on bike. Repeat with second fork.

Noticeably, the Hagon spring is wound progressively - winding are closer at one end whereas the Triumph springs are constantly wound. 

While I had the mudguard off, I cleaned the underside and gave it a coat of Waxoyl to stop it from rusting. I bought a 2.5 litre can of Waxoyl about 30 years ago and still have about 3/4 of it left!

Just had to refit the mudguard and front wheel and the job was done. One thing I noticed - like my Honda Forza, a previous owner had coated the threads of any fasteners he had removed with anti seize copper grease, so everything came apart without any drama. Always worth doing!

I haven't yet had a chance to ride the bike, but will report back later.

Hagon shocks: Mine are the base model all black version, had I bought new ones I would have got the all stainless version. List

Fork oil: I used Motul Fork Oil Expert 20W as it was available locally. Any good quality fork oil would be suitable. Fork oil

Waxoyl: I placed the tin in a pot of water and heated it on the stove to soften it enough that I could pour it into a jam jar and apply it with an old paint brush. I hardens quickly and should keep rust at bay. Probably not necessary, but I had it in the garage! Waxoyl