• BMW R1200RS

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    I have a confession to make, I don’t much like twin cylinder bikes!

    Although I’ve ridden some rather fine ones such as Ducati’s 851, 748, 916, 996, 998 and Multistrada, the BMW HP2, an Aprilia RSV Mille, and the Guzzi Stelvio and 1100 Sport, I have to confess I’m not a fan. Of the 65 bikes I’ve ridden only 17 have been twins, so what’s the problem? Well for some reason I don’t seem to have mastered downshifting on twins, and the resulting wheel locking didn’t do my confidence much good. Combine that with some Ducati rides where the bikes stood up on the brakes when I really wanted them to turn into the upcoming bend, has meant that my overriding impressions have been less than favourable, and so, like most things in life that haven’t proven enjoyable, I’ve chosen not to revist them, hence for the past 20 years I’ve owned and ridden 4 cylinder machines, with only a three month interlude on a Laverda 750 S (parallel twin) and a VFR800 and my beloved RC45 (both V4’s) breaking up my long term multi cylinder love affair.

    Other than the occasions where the BMW servicing dealer has offered a twin as a loan bike, and some very brief bike swops where I tried out Marks R1100RT and Andys GS, I’ve shied away from them, with one notable exception, the BMW HP2 which was available for a test ride on a BMW open day, and I just couldn’t turn down a chance to ride such an interesting bike.

    So given my stated inability to “get on” with twins, and knowing that the subject of this post is the BMW R1200RS, a bike with only two cylinders, you might be wondering what has changed? Well, an hour or so to occupy whilst my GT has a new wheel carrier fitted at the BMW dealer is what. I’ve ridden quite a few of BMW’s range, in fact 11 different models, the most recent having been the new S1000XR, and looking at the current range I’m strangely drawn to the R1200RS which looks rather fetching in blue and white, so with the GT booked in at 14.00 and having some time to kill, I’ve taken the plunge and decided to see what’s changed in the world of half my favoured number of cylinders, and booked a test ride for the afternoon, read on for what I thought……..

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    Arriving just before my 14.00 appointment I spot the RS outside and it’s in my favourite blue and white colourway. After booking the GT in, I then go through the formalities of signing the test ride forms before being given a demonstration of the controls which are pretty much the same as on my GT, and my Zumo 660 even fits into the fittted GPS cradle which is useful.

    With the engine running I mount the bike and immediately am struck by the fact I’m sitting in rather than perched on the seat. The cold engine  is lumpy but the gear snicks in like a knife through butter, first is engaged and I’m off. The first few kms pass gently as I acclimatise myself to the bikes idiosyncrasies. Firstly the gearbox is super smooth, unlike the cliunky affair on my GT. No major clunks or bangs, and the quickshifter pro assist means that upward shifts are really smooth, although I’ll add the caveat which seems to apply to any quickshifter, it works better the higher the revs and speed. Using the clutch a couple of times to upshift at speed only disrupted the gearchanges and upset the balance of the bike.

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    The motor got less lumpy once warmed up and it will pull comfortably from as low as 2000rpm in 5th which surprised me. Down changing wasn’t the unsettling affair I remembered of old, but it was a little strange to find the forks dive on the brakes, nothing too dramatic but there’s no duolever front suspension here, just good old telescopic forks.

    The brakes were very strong and although I adjusted the lever span all the way out I found the lever travel to still be more than I would have expected, and I’ve got small hands! Nevertheless, they worked well enough.

    The seat was comfy, the riding position very natural, and the handling quick and intuitive. The Pliot Road 4’s did an excellent job and enabled effortless and confident bend swinging on the unknown roads I was riding. I  do wonder though whether this was down to the tyres, the fact the bike weights a mere 231kg (which is a massive 54kgs less than my GT), because the roads were billiard table smooth with predictable bends, or because on this occasion I was riding without my better half, so the suspension was having an easier time? Normally Sue comes with me when I take test rides but today she had abstained, so if I want to try one again it’s important that she comes with me so I can get a better picture, and as I’ve ridden only and not on any height at all, I’ve got no idea how it would perform at the alpine altitudes I like to ride at.

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    The mirrors whilst small, are easily adjustable and give a good view of what’s behind, so can’t quibble too much on that score, and since I’m unable to recall any issues with the adjustable screen and wind noise or flow, I’m going to have to say that it worked well enough. I can’t recall too much about the exhaust noise, although it does increase nicely when the speeds increase, but it’s pretty quiet as per the euro norms these days, maybe a slightly louder pipe would add to the experience even more?

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    One thing I did notice was that there are a lot less revs to play with than I’m used to. It’s all too easy to hit the rev limiter if you’re not paying attention, and the clocks, whilst containing a lot of info tend to have you focusing on the massive sized gear indicator rather than the much smaller speedo which is actually slightly out of eye line and to the left of centre.

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    What didn’t I like? Well there is always something that doesn’t quite gell. In this case it was the quality of the plastics and the luggage which comes with it. Flicking the plastics reveals they are super light and although not flimsy, they aren’t a patch on the super quality items on my GT. The available luggage is the same quality as the fairing and appears to be much smaller in capacity than the GT  with the top box looking at least half the size. This is all well and good if you don’t tour much, but I’ve not yet hung up my touring spurs and I’m sure we’d never get a weeks worth of stuff in the RS luggage, two days would be about it!

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    After an all too brief test ride I returned the bike and on the way home started to garner my thoughts and then put them into the words you’re reading here.

    From my perspective I’ve done a massive about turn on my thoughts on twins, I loved the ride, the experience, and riding something different. The major thing here is that I’d like to ride one again as I actually had a blast riding this bike. I loved the drive out of the corners,  the consumate bend swinging ability, the gearbox that didn’t clunk, and the overall experience had me grinning and thinking that light bikes must be the way to gain maximum pleasure? I also like the looks and the colour scheme, understated but smart. My only hope is that the experience is equally enjoyable two up, we’ll have to wait and see!

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  • An oldie but goodie?

    Seen today in my local bike shop this highly polished GSXR1100 Slingshot .

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    Seems this model which was produced from 1986-1998 developed a reputation as a poor handler, and some internet research (Wikipedia) shows that it had a major claim to infamy, which is that after two crashes at the Isle of Man in 1989, one resulting in the death of Phil Mellor,  led to the banning of large capacity bikes racing at the TT for a number of years.

    No doubting though that the older bikes make an impression, especially with it’s trademark frame. Other than a faded top yoke, this particular example was a beauty.


  • Catalunya-March 2016

    The mandatory briefing was at 08.30, a time which always seems unnecessarily late given that the first group is due out at 09,00, and never leaves them much time to get ready, nevertheless. the days riders crowded into the pitlane to listen to the briefing notes which were given in 4 languages, French, English, German and Flemish, to accomodate the multi national riders.

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    The head honcho giving the briefing was known to Andy who warned me that it may be a protracted meeting, and we soon found out why. “Normally” the trackday organisers representative welcomes you to the track, gives you a pep talk on how we’re there to enjoy ourselves not race, and to take care as they’d like us all to go home in one piece. I say normally, because that didn’t happen today. As he talked, if he didn’t have 100% of the attendees attention and he heard anyone talking whilst he was, he would just stop talking. After a few stoppages he pointed to the watch on his wrist and told us he had plenty of time even if we didn’t!

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    Not a great way to endear yourself to people whose money you’ve taken and who want to hear the briefing and get on with it. When he stopped and directly addressed a guy on crutches who he claimed wasn’t listening, the guy had a great put down line, saying he wasn’t riding (check out the crutches) and that he should get on with it!

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    After the ultra officious briefing which probably alienated a great number of the riders and certainly didn’t win him any friends, finally it was over and the day was able to commence with the first group at 09.00.

    The format of the day was a bit different from that we’d expected. Originally when we’d signed up the schedule showed there would be four groups each with 6×20 minute sessions, but there turned out to be five groups, with the format being one initial 20 minute session followed by 4x 25 minute sessions. All were chrono laps so groups would be revised after the timings from the first two sessions, revised during the lunchtime break, with the final 3 sessions run in the newly revised groups. The groups would also be revised at the end of the day for the following, and we’d need to get a new group sticker regardless of whether we stayed in the same group or not.

    Andy was due out in the first session but decided not to ride as he felt the track would still be a bit cold and didn’t want to risk his R6 which he is hoping to sell shortly.

    Mark and I are in Group D which means we have over an hour to wait before going on track for the first time. With Mark not having ridden his new RR, and with only two sessions in which to put in a good time if we want to move up a group, we need to ride well from the off. When our turn came to go out, we quickly found the huge disparity in skill levels the beginners group always brings  ( we only booked in this group as it was the only one left with two spaces when we booked). There was such diversity of lines and variation in speeds we soon began worrying how safe it was. Panigale riders who rode like demons in a straight line and then literally parked it every time they came to a bend, riders who braked at the most inopportune time, 3 or 4 really very quick riders clearly in completely the wrong group, and young kids and women on smaller capacity bikes looked a recipe for disaster, especially given the chrono times were showing 30 seconds between the fastest and slowest, which on a 2 minute something lap is a a massive discrepancy.

    Checking the laptimer at the end of the first session revealed a not too impressive fastest lap of 2.26, but we were requainting ourselves with the track and I was having some small issues with the new quickshifter, I needed to adjust the kill times and readjust the rearset which seemed to be trying to dismantle itself!

    Session two and it’s Andy’s turn to go out first, and despite “only” being on a 600 he quickly made us look stupid by turning in a rapid 2.05 lap.

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    Next up we’re out again, here are some shots of Mark from session 2.

    Leaving the paddock

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    Pitlane

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    Passing me towards the end of the straight

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    Being chased by one of the faster guys in our group

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    Laptimes came down to 2.20, so a 6 second improvement, but still a long way to go to the 2.14 I’d done back in 2014 and Marks previous best of 2.04.

    During the 3rd session the organisers were changing the groups, so at 13.00 we checked to see if we’d done enough to improve but no joy, we hadn’t been quick enough, but were holding 22nd and 23rd positions of the 43 in our group, with the quickest having gone 2.08 and the slowest around 2.52!

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    With the lunchbreak groups sorted and Andy (below) still having only done one session, we decided to go and watch him in action.

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    I was still sorting my rearset when Mark set off for the grandstand nearby, so Sue and I told him we’d be along shortly but we didn’t find him up there! Seems he’d found a good spot to take these photos from track level whilst we watched Andy hassling the bigger bikes from above in the grandstand. Clearly quicker in the bends it must have been frustrating for him watching the 1000’s clear off as soon as the track straightened out, but nevertheless he was riding fast and well and keeping them honest.

     

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    Here are some pics of other riders in Andys group

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    Session 3 and I managed to knock my time down to 2.18, so another two seconds off, but I was still being hampered by a finicky gear change caused by the self destructing rearset which seemed determined to dismantle itself.

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    Session 4 and another drop in times down to my best of the day, a 2.17.95, whilst Mark was now at 2.16.13. They say Lorenzo is metronomic, but I was amazed to find on the fourth and fifth laps I’d put in two consecutive times of 2.21.84 and 2.21.85, how’s that for consistency?!

    One of the things we all enjoy at these events is the chill out time afterwards. It’s traditional for us to all chip in and buy ham, cheese, meat, crisps, beer and wine, and sit around together and tell tall tales and recount the events of the days riding. Sue and Sev decided to go and do the supermarket run for the food but seemed to be gone ages. I joked that they could have gone to Andorra the amount of time that had passed before eventually they returned, but it seemed there had been a lot of one way streets they couldn’t enter and they’d ended up doing detours. Still, mission accomplished, we’d now got tonights repas..

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    I almost didn’t make the last session as the damn rearset had decided to pull a bearing through one of the moving arms and I was struggling to find a way to keep it in place. Eventually after dismantling most of the rearset and finding a big enough washer, I was able to bodge a repair which held, allowing me to get back out for the last 25 minutes, and I’m glad I did, as no-one overtook me and I was able to ride my own rhythm and pace. I didn’t improve my times but posted two very close laps at 2.19.72 and 2.19.75, split by a 2.20.30. The lap charts posted at the end of the day showed we had now moved up to 6th and 8th overall, which looked to be enough to have us moved a group for tomorrow.

    With the day over after 36 laps, 218kms, and with the benefit of sun all day, we were tired but very happy to have had some great riding, next we looked forward to  enjoying our evening supper.

    You’ll have seen in the pictures from our arrival day that there was a lovely sunset over the paddock. I’d asked Mark to take some pictures but he’d decided to hold off until tonight to take them, so later on he disappeared off to take these pictures of the track.

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    After a few beers and finishing off a couple of bottles of wine it was time to turn in for the night, but we were all a bit worried that Sues online forecast of rain for the whole of the following day starting at 04.00 might be correct, hopefully not!

    Day 2 –

    The rain had started at around 05.00 and kept going and going and going. We got up at around 06.35 and in between the downpours started to unpack the stuff we’d been smart enough to put in the car overnight to keep dry, to repack it again for the return home. There looked to be little hope of the rain abating as the weather window my forecast had given of being clear from 09.00 to 11.00 never happened. Realising we were going to wet at some time, there was little option other than to continue packing and take down the tents in the rain. Getting wet doesn’t cover it, we were sodden, shoes swimming in water, my showerproof jacket gave up the ghost and turned into a damp sack, and hair and body got colder as we hurried to pack.

    Mark and Sev were first to finish packing and leave after returning his transponder. Saying their farewells and leaving me to get his photos, they departed leaving Sue and I under the cover of Andy’s tent attached to his van, staying as dry as we could. Eventually he too had to capitulate, and after helping him pack and getting even wetter (if that were possible) we eventually left at 11.55 for the return journey.

    Twenty minutes away from the circuit it was a bit galling to find that the weather was not only sunny but that it was dry, and there didn’t seem to have been any rain at all! Andy passed us after 35 minutes, and two hours into the journey we stopped to change into some drier clothes. The towels on the seats were now extremely damp, and I resorted to driving in socks as my shoes were so cold and wet.

    At one of the peage toll stations, two cars and a van rushed through the telepeage automated barrier in quick succession, but the van hadn’t waited quite long enough for the car in front to pass, and we watched in amazement as the barrier lowered and then bounced back up off it’s roof! Later on we got stuck in a toll lane when the payment machine gave up working, as did another car and hapless motorist in the adjacent lane.

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    Tired after a poor nights sleep in the tent again, I stopped for an hours power nap, and later on for this picture of Carcassone

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    An early evening petrol and snack stop plus a final comfort break completed our stop start journey, and saw us finally back home at 21.30. Only 7 hours 5 minutes of actual driving time, but a lot of stops.

     

    Back at home and waiting to be unloaded the following day

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    SUMMARY

    It’s a shame we didn’t get the second day, as having identified where I could gain time, I’m sure I could have gone much quicker, but it had been safe and the most fun and satisfaction I’ve had on track for some considerable time. The change of gearing to 16/45 worked a treat and the bike had handled like a dream, so all in all a great result.

    I’m looking forward to the next track outing with Andy and Mark which is likely to be at Aragon, probably my favourite track. We’ve had some fantastic rides there before and I’m sure we’ll have some great ones next time.

     

    THE END


  • Catalunya March 2016- The prologue

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    It’s been like the countdown to having a baby, except the period was only 5 months not 9. I’m talking of course about the time elapsed since I was last on track. The winter break had given me time to fettle the R1, and now all I wanted to do was to get out on it again, brush off the cobwebs, and get back to thrashing around a track, and it’s a good one to start the season with, the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

    As per usual there are three of us going. Me and my R1 which has been updated with an HM Quickshifter and Zero Gravity Corsa screen, Mark, who has bought Andy’s S1000RR and will be riding it for the first time, and Andy, who is bringing his R6 Cup race bike, as his brand new purchase of an RSV4 Factory has not yet had sufficient running in miles put on it.

    The phone lines had been buzzing in the days before the off, with the main concern being the weather. It seems we each have a forecast that differs from the others.Mine shows a little rain on day one and all day on day two, whilst Mark and Andys reference sites don’t show rain. Regardless of what the forecasts say, the weather will sort itself out, but of immediate annoyance is the fact that as per usual, the day before an event when the car/trailer needs to be loaded, it’s raining again, meaning quick dashes outside to load the car in between showers, whilst I’ll need to get up early on departure day to load the bike.

    After an early rise the next morning the bike is loaded and Sue and I set off at 9.20, some 20 minutes later than planned. The circuit is circa 800kms and an 8 hour drive for Mark and Andy, and 700kms and 7 ½ hours for me. We’ve planned to meet at the La  Palme Ouest services near Perpignan at around 15.00, which would allow us some time for  catching up and to fill the cars and petrol cans. With the track only being an hour and a half from the services we would hopefully arrive bang on time for the entry time to the circuit which the organisers had advised as being open from 18.00.

    The journey down was largely uneventful, and passing the giant windmills near Carcassone I know we’re nearing the coast and my least favourite bit of motorway in France around Perpignan, The winds down here can be horrendous, and I have vivid memories of riding my CBR1100XX SuperBlackbird down here and being blown from one lane to another as the winds had been so strong!

    Our planning turned out to be close to perfection as first we rolled into the services at 15.07, and just 7 minutes later Mark and Sev arrived. An sms to Andy telling him we were here led to him calling us saying he thinks he’s just passed the services as he was looking for La PalmeOuest, and he only saw La Palme on the services sign, later realising that our side of the autoroute was the west side and the opposite the east. Confirming he has gone past we agreed that he should stop at the next petrol service station and wait for us to join him..

    At this point our well oiled plan started to go off the rails a little. Mark notes he only has 7 litres of petrol left, and after a quick check it seems we can’t get back round to the petrol station from where we’re parked. I suggested he take a petrol can round and get 5 or 10 litres and just top up a bit, but he decided that there should be enough to push on, or so he thought!

    Heading back onto the motorway and driving at the speed limit rather than taking it slowly to preserve petrol, I wondered whether driving so quickly was smart given the lack of petrol he had? Sure enough after 10 minutes he started to slow, another few minutes later and he called asking how far it was to the services? I didn’t know, and passing two pull -offs without petrol, and having to pass a service station on the other side without an exit ramp on ours to get to it, I sensed it must be getting a bit touch and go if he’d make it. Our speed dropped and dropped as we ran shotgun behind before eventually a services 2km ahead sign hove into view, walkable if necessary. Painfully slowly we got closer to the services, only to find 300metres from the exit ramp the traffic had backed up and lorries seemed to have turned the autoroute into a car park. With an engine gasping on fumes and with them sat motionless drinking the last dregs, I sounded the horn and motioned at him to follow me down the hard shoulder to the services.

    Andy had been waiting for quite some time as we had been going so slowly, so after Mark had put some much needed fuel back in the tank and we’d had a quick catch up chat, we decided to head off immediately and have a major fill up at La Jonqueras services, which is the first service station over the border in Spain and where the petrol would be cheaper to fill up the jerry cans. The lorries were still parked up and seemingly going nowhere, blocking the entry to the motorway, but we managed to slip in between the gaps and get into the outside line which was moving slowly, but at least it was moving!

    The cause of the long tailbacks became evident when we arrived at the peage ahead and found not only multiple lines of traffic being filtered into just a few lines, but then into an effective slalom of cones and jeeps created by the Spanish Gaurdia Civil, who were there with their machine guns and dark glasses checking out each vehicle as it passed. Clearly they were looking for someone but their search was causing motorway misery for miles.

    Deciding that La Jonqueras would be busy we decided to continue to the next services, where a quick fill of cars and cans soon had us on the way, although Andy soon left us, as following trailers when you have a bike inside your van means you’re not limited to the lower speeds we were. Arriving at the circuit we were amazed to see it so busy given the entry time was supposedly only 25 minutes before we arrived, but it looked as if people had been there all afternoon there were so many people there!

    Eventually finding our way to where Andy had very kindly blocked off enough space for the three tents and cars, we started to unpack and set up the tents and living space for the next couple of days.

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    With the tents erected and bikes on the stands we went and registered, and chose to take this rather fetching and top quality cap rather than a t-shirt, as our souvenir of the event.

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    Next came fitting of race numbers and transponder. Me applying my number, 107

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    Marks S1000RR

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    Andys R6 Cup race bike

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    As you can see there was a great sunset over the paddock that night

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    Full of expectation for the next days riding and a forecast that looked rain free, we turned in for the night. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!


  • All change!

    A couple of years ago I played a trick on my two riding buddies, Mark and Andy. I came back from Bordeaux and sent them a picture of a VFR1200 I told them I’d bought to replace my BMW K1300GT. Not an entirely implausible action, given I’d often talked of what I’d replace it with. I kept the deception going for a couple of days before cracking and admitting it was a hoax. Since then they’ve tried the odd stunt to catch me out, but these have been easily rumbled by me asking to see their new bikes registration document or a picture of the bike in their garage, and of course these don’t materialise.

    Mark tried to kid me he was buying a Panigale when in fact all he’d bought was a model, then tried again saying he’d bought a Harley, showing me a picture of one in his garage, which later turned out to be a bike he was looking after for someone else.

    This year the stakes were upped. Mark and I have the same R1 track bikes, bought within a few weeks of each other, and we frequently compare notes as to what gearing to use, which parts to buy, how to fix something on the bike, and which parts we want to buy. We’ve both crashed them and done some damage, although Mark did a better job than me and broke his collarbone, so with our first trackday of 2016 booked, and Marks first since his crash in late 2014, we were comparing notes again, with major topics being gearing, quickshifters and quick action throttles. Neither of us had yet fitted or bought the parts but they were on the cards. I thought this time I’d get the jump on Mark as I got a quickshifter, fitted it and didn’t tell him, thinking it would be one up to me when we got to Catalunya, and that he’d be miffed I’d bought something he hadn’t got, which just might give me an advantage, or so I thought!

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    SUB PLOT 1 – Andy had been asking me for ages which bike I’d favour or recommend for a new track bike? I like the ZX-10R, but know Andy has had a hankering to own an RSV4 since he rode one a few years ago, but he didn’t follow it through and buy one, instead going for the more clinical and track biased BMW S1000RR. Whilst the RR is a great bike it’s never really stirred his soul, and I could tell he was really wanting someone to tell him to buy the Aprilia. Despite my extolling the Kwaks virtues he wasn’t having any of it, but it was clear that he wanted a change, so what would he get?

    One day he asked me if either Mark or I would be interested in buying his RR. I don’t have the money and am more than happy with my R1, and as Mark had told me hundreds of times how he liked riding an old school bike with no electronics, I told him I thought it unlikely he’d be interested either, and thought no more of it, as with Catalunya being only two weeks away, he’d surely wait until after then before doing anything?.

    SUB PLOT 2- Next day Mark asked me what I thought of Andys bike? I opined it was a good bike, well cared for, but in my view had had a hard life on track requiring a small gearbox repair, had a lot of intelligent extras on it, but was an early model and that if I were to buy I’d steer towards a 2012 model, but that it would be a good buy for someone. After this relatively brief discussion we switched back to the forthcoming Catalunya trip and gearing, stomp grips, and R1 stuff. Hardly conversations you’d spend so long on if you were thinking of buying a new bike?

    A couple of days passed and then suddenly Mark sent me a message saying

    “I’ve bought an HP4”.

    Here we go again I thought, another stupid story, he must be bored and got nothing to do so I replied,

    “Yeah, and I’m the Pope and flying to the moon this afternoon”

    “ No really” he said.

    “ OK, copy of the carte grise and pics of bike in the garage then please”

    “ Haven’t got it yet”.

    “ So where did you buy it and how much”.

    “ Grand Prix Motos and 10k” came the answer

    “OK, Can I have your Akra pipes then please?”

    “They’ve gone with the bike.”

    “When did you sell it? “

    “Just”.

    Now I’m starting to wonder what the hell’s going on. He’s never once mentioned the R1 was even for sale, and has spent forever discussing stuff about it with me, let alone the hundreds he’s just spent rebuilding it, so how come it’s sold so quickly? Who to? Nothing was making sense so I said

    “OK course you’ve bought one, I look forward to seeing it at Catalunya” I said, and  discounted the story as the latest in a line of wind ups, and when I discussed it with Andy, he poured scorn on the idea as it wouldn’t be possible to buy an HP4 for such a low price! Conversation forgotten, especially given the next day he sent me a picture of himself in his Yamaha fleece with an admission he’d lied, and that he still had the R1. End of?

    Next day and a really big shock came when Andy told me he’s sold his RR and asks again what would I recommend he buys? I’d been a bit surprised to find he’d moved so quickly and sold the RR without telling me, especially as he’d said it had gone by word of mouth and not been advertised, but hey, sometimes things fall into place! Ramifications? Well clearly the test ride he’d promised Mark and me at Catalunya wasn’t going to happen, but at least he has an R6 race bike as a back up so he can still ride at Catalunya.

    Trying to answer his question I went back to trying to extoll the virtues of the ZX-10R but could tell it wasn’t going to wash, so in the end I suggested he buy with the heart this time and buy the Aprilia. “Don’t worry it’s Italian and will break and cost lots, you’ll have the time of your life riding it”. He complained that the nearest dealer is over two hours away from him, but so what I replied, I’d once flown from Geneva to Nice to buy a Lexus! so it was a very poor excuse not to go. Anyway,  after thinking about it some more, he drove across to Bern to have a look.

    THEN, a couple of days pass and Mark called and said:

    “What’s this about you getting a quickshifter without telling me?”

    “Well we all have secrets I replied”.

    “‘I’ve got one too comes the response, I’ve bought an RR”

    Here we go again I thought, but this time he sends me a picture from his garage of an RR rear end with it’s exhaust sticking out from under a blanket.

    IMG_0806

    “I see Andy has brought his bike round for new tyres to be fitted before Catalunya “ I said

    “No, it’s my bike comes the reply, Andy is taking the R6 to Catalunya.”

    “So wheres the R1?”

    “Sold”

    “So three days ago you had an R1, sold it overnight and bought an RR? Hardly a credible story?”

    “No really, I had no intention of selling it, but put it up for sale at 12.30 one day and it went the next.”

    “Really, and an RR just happened to be available?”

    “I hope you like it then” I said. I told him that when I’d ridden Andys RR at Dijon I’d  found it to be rock hard, handled very fast, and was nothing like as comfortable as the R1

    “It is Andys came the reply”

    So having been told Andy had sold his bike to a French guy, and Mark outright denying it was him as he’s English, now it transpires that he’s bought Andys bike after all!

    AND, there’s more! Andy has just taken delivery of a brand new RSV4 Factory

    IMG_2098

    So, everythings changed quite dramatically in the course of a week. How will our two days on track go after all these changes and subterfuge?

    Read the coming post !


  • Non starting GT- UPDATE

    After the frustration of the GT not starting I put pen to paper and wrote the previous blog post. 15 minutes later I thought I’d see if the bike would start, not really expecting it would after such a short time, but guess what?, the damn thing fired up immediately!!

    Dashing outside to tell Sue to get ready again, I found her relaxing in a chair taking advantage of the sunny weather, adamant she was going to spend the rest of the afternoon chilling in the sun, and it was clear she wasn’t going to go through the hassle of changing again or to come for a ride with me.

    OK, I’ll go on my own then, and I did. It’s always slightly odd on the first ride if you’ve not been out for a while, but I quickly got back into the swing of things, and despite the French doing their usual trick of blocking roads and sending you miles out of your way on their non direct deviations, I quickly found an alternative route and quite enjoyed the new roads and scenery I was experiencing. Two and a half hours and 175kms later I was back at home, having thoroughly enjoyed the 18/19C temperatures and riding. Interestingly the fuel gauge started working again, although I’ve yet to try and access the menu to adjust the instrument backlighting, but at least it’s been ridden and seems to be ok now.

     

    Hopefully this was a one off, but I’ll be very wary of leaving it out in the sun for a while.

     

    Cheers

     

    Paul


  • First ride of 2016? GT thinks otherwise!

    It’s been coming for a while now, that combination of good weather, free time, and a desire to get back on two wheels and ride again. I’d been watching the forecast for days. Fridays 17C and sun had turned into somewhat less than expected, but Saturday was looking good, and after completing some gardening tasks in the morning I thought I deserved a run out.

    The first inkling things might not be quite right came when I decided to top up the tank from the spare can I had in the garage. Despite putting 5 litres in the tank, the fuel gauge stayed resolutely locked at the same level and showing the same distance to empty as it had done before being topped up. Thoughts started to cross my mind of the known BMW fuel strip issues, and how problems seem to surface when these BM’s aren’t ridden for a while, and how after 3 months of sitting on its stand in the garage maybe I was going to start to find problems surfacing?

    Next I adjusted the clock, but it wouldn’t let me change the intensity of the dashboard lighting nor let me even access the screen to do so. I wasn’t too concerned as at least the bike had started several times and run ok, so chivvying the wife along to get ready, we put our bike gear on for our first run out of 2016.

    Next came the realisation that despite us having fully charged the Sena intercoms after our last ride they weren’t charged now. Never mind, just have to have a quiet ride, not a problem. So there we are, dressed and ready to go and then, nothing! As in push the start button and nothing. Sue’s stood there looking at me with inquisitive eyes, and I’m cursing 285kg of Germanys finest, that for some reason known best to itself no longer wants to fire up and be ridden.  I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the switchgear which has got hot, as I’d had that problem before, albeit in much much warmer temperatures, todays 16C shouldn’t be causing problems.

    I checked the battery and all was fine, but it was clear that we weren’t going anywhere. I wheeled the bike back into the garage in the hope that putting it back in the shade might somehow allow the switchgear to cool down (if that was even the problem), and if that doesn’t cure it, it will be on a trailer and into the dealer, who will doubtless charge an arm and a leg to fix it. What a crap way to start the year on two wheels!


  • A biking CV

    self

    In the dating world everyone posts up their profiles and looks for a match. I’m not doing that here, but as bikers we all do lots of interesting stuff; ride great roads, visit great places, have on circuit experience or attend race meetings, so I thought it might be interesting to list up what I’ve done over the years in the form of a CV so others can benchmark their biking experiences, it was fun listing it!. How does yours compare?

    AlpineBiker CV

     

    Age-                                 Heading towards 60

    Current bikes-                   BMW K1300GT (road) , Yamaha R1 (track)

    Riding since–                     1976

    Number of miles ridden-    287,000kms / 179,000 miles

    Countries ridden in-         England, Scotland, Wales, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Andorra, Luxembourg, Monaco, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia& Herzegovenia, Isle of Man, South Africa.

    Circuits ridden- Donington Park, Oulton Park, Silverstone, Catalunya, Aragon, Parc Motor Castelolli, Anneau du Rhin, Bresse, Dijon, Magny Cours GP & Club, Ledenon, Paul Ricard, Hockenheim

    Qualification-                  IAM test pass

    Circuit training-             Ron Haslam School x6 plus coaching with

                                           Simon Crafar (Motovudu)

    Number of different bikes ridden- 67

    Aprilia*1, Benelli*1, BMW*11, Ducati* 6, Honda* 20, Kawasaki* 5, Laverda* 1, Moto Guzzi* 2, MV Agusta* 1, Suzuki* 6 Triumph* 3, Yamaha* 10

    Number of bikes owned- 15

    HONDA LOGO

    CB125T, Superdream 250N, Superdream CB400N                VFR800, CBR1100XX Super Blackbird (2), RVF750 RC45

    Suzuki_logo

    GSXR1000K2

     

    YAMAHA TUNING FORK LOGO

    RD250, R1

     

    LAVERDA LOGO

    750S

     

    bmw-logo

     K1200GT, K1300GT

     

    Kawasaki LOGO ZZR600, ZX-10R

    Furthest miles in one day –  847kms / 529 miles 11hours 40 mins

    Longest tour-                      15 days, 4269kms / 2668 miles

    Highest pass ridden-        Col de Bonette 2702m or Iseran 2770 (if extra loop on  Bonette discounted)

    Total passes ridden over 2000m-        26

    Height ascended (of above) –       155,287m

    Fastest speed-                      285mph Honda SuperBlackbird (German autobahn)

    MotoGP’s attended-              Silverstone, Mugello

    WSBK   attended-                 Kyalami (S.Africa), Monza, San Marino     

    BSB attended –                    Mallory Park, Donington Park, Silverstone, Oulton Park, Brands Hatch

     


  • HM Quickshifter

    HM Quickshifter Logo2 (1)

    One of the upgrades I’d always fancied for my R1 track bike was a quickshifter. Not you understand for the milliseconds it saves per gearchange, although I’ll take anything that helps lop a little off my lap times, but mainly because they’re a cool add on, which along with a quick action throttle and stomp grips would complete my add-on shopping list.

    Some stars aligned recently, and I found myself in a position where a mint condiition HM Quickshifter Plus came winging it’s way through the post to me, and whilst I waited for it’s arrival, took the time to surf the net for videos of how to mount it.

    HM has a pretty good set of “How to” videos, and I assumed, incorrectly, that the coil caps to which the wiring loom needed to be attached would be underneath the airbox, as per their instruction video. I set about removing the bodywork, the tank cover, the airbox lid, the air filter, and the lower airbox housing, only to find a sealed metal floor housing the regulator rectifier. WTF?

    I went back to the HM “how to” video, and came to the obvious conclusion that my R1 has access to the coils in a different location than that shown in the GSXR demo bike film. Mystified as to how to progress, and with half the bike in pieces, eventually the phrase “the internet is your friend” rang in my head, so I went to the yamahar.com forum and posted the question, “how the hell do you attach a QS wiring loom to the coils if it’s not below the airbox?”

    Simple was the answer, “you’re approaching it from the wrong side”. Seems if I dropped the radiator, no need to remove it, just let it hang on its hoses, access to the coil tops is then available, DOH! With my new found knowledge and with just 3 bolts needing undoing, (other than the fairing panels), I was quickly able to plug in the new harness.

    I took advantage of having the bike in pieces to redo some cabling runs, so I hadn’t completely wasted my time, but once I’d reinstalled the radiator bolts and reassembled everything, I checked my handiwork and realised that I wasn’t happy with the way the cabling was hanging. Cue redoing the whole thing again, and then a third time as I wasn’t happy with the cable runs. Eventually I got it right, set the shifter unit to compression, tested it, and all seemed well.

    IMG_0747

    Then followed an exchange with Andy where he asked, “are you sure it’s compression and not extension you need for the setting?” I’d looked at the net prior to setting it, and to be fair the HM UK site wasn’t too exact in stating which setting it should be. The information I had been able to find on the HM Australia and KTM sites, both said if you have road shift then it should be set for compression, which is what I’d done, but now the seed of doubt was sown, and after sending Andy a video of the shifter in action, he again told me I’d set it incorrectly.

    Next, a call to HM, where the very helpful sales guy talked me through it. Listening to me tell him the rod was a through the frame road shift pattern, and then describing which way it moved when I shifted gear, led to the crushing news that it should be set for extension not compression, so now I needed to go back and remove all the bodywork again, as the wiring is hidden away underneath the tank.

    Determined not to have to remove anything else again, I made a final change to the cable routing so that I could access the unit from underneath the frame if necessary, re-set the unit to extension not compression, added 5 milliseconds to the kill time, and then spent 5 minutes mercilessly hammering the gears up and down the box, before finally deciding all was now ok to reassemble.

     

    IMG_0754

    I’m looking forward to seeing how it works in anger on track at Catalunya.

     

    Watch this space!


  • Website change

    NEW TODAY!!!

     

    I’m pleased to launch my revised website today.

    The old hosting company wanted 4 times the previous renewal charge, so I decided to move to another hosting company. Unfortunately as the old site was created with the previous hosts software, I wasn’t able to transfer it across in the previous format, so a few hours of grafting were involved in recreating it in the new format you find here today, hope you like it?

    The R1 is pretty much prepped and ready for Catalunya, has a new Zero Gravity Corsa tall race screen mounted, and is ready for it’s first track foray of 2016. The final touch will be making a final gearing change decision, which I’m struggling with despite having spent ages studying charts and discussing the relative merits of plus and minus sprockets on either front or rear end.

    We’ve been counting down the months and weeks since booking, and now with just 2 1/2 weeks to go, Mark , Andy and I are chomping at the bit to get out there.

    IMG_0753

    Andy surprised me yesterday by telling me he’s sold his RR, so will be coming with his R6 instead, unless he finds a replacement in the next 10 days? Perhaps he’ll buy the Aprilia he’s been hankering after for years?

    Mark is back on track for the first time after an 18 month gap after breaking his collarbone at Magny Cours at the end of 2014.

    The GT has been on the battery charger and still waits to turn a wheel, with it’s first ride out likely to be to the dealer to have the wheel carrier recall attended to. I’ll see if I can take the opportunity to blag a test ride on the new RS whilst it’s there for the three hours they need it.

    I’m looking to be running a tour in July with a group of 5 or 6 from Ireland which should be fun.

    Hopefully the weather is now changing for the better, the clocks go forward next weekend as we go into summer time, lighter nights are coming, and things start to look less gloomy. Fingers crossed for a great 2016.

     

    Cheers

     

    Paul