• Category Archives Stuff
  • A melting pot of personal thoughts, views, and comments on life in general.

  • Bridgestone BT023 GT- life of a rear tyre

    Here’s the final instalment in the life of the Bridgestone BT023 GT tyres I recently installed on my K1300GT.

    The rear was effectively finished at 5500kms or 3437 miles. This doesn’t sound like a particularly high number but when you consider that it handled 3500kms of two up fully loaded touring over 8 days of continuous passes and serpentine bends, followed by a further 2000kms in 4 days over 20 Swiss, French and Italian passes almost all of which were over 2000m, then it starts to become more acceptable, and I’m sure “normal” riding on A roads would easily see the rear lasting 8000kms or more.  

    The picture below is looking from in front and back, so the wear indicators which are no longer there, are on the left side of the tyre.   

    Positive points are the enormous amount of water they clear, evacuating all water from underneath them and gripping straight to the road below, irrespective of how much rain there is! In comparison with the Michelin PR2’s I had before, I’d say there is still a little difference in the “feel”. With the PR2’s you feel invincible in the rain, the BT023’s, very good but not quite at the same level.

    In this shot you can see how the weight has pushed up the sipes. 

    In this final shot you can see how the wear has affected the crown of the tyre, this manifests itself in a change in turn in, less fluid than when new, but without any loss of grip, just less exact.  Despite this the tyre continued to grip well and any small slides over tar snakes or gravel were always small and very predictable, never getting close to feeling out of control. Very stable, with excellent turn in, great wet weather grip, and constant feel even when the rear started to wear badly, I’d have to say these are superb tyres, and I’ve already replaced this one with another BT023 GT, as I’ve been so impressed by their performance.   

  • Track day- NOT!

    So just when I post up that the RC45 is going back on track,  misfortune strikes!

    I had a ride on Sunday with David as a kind of pre-ride before Wednesday evenings track day, and found that there was a lot of chatter when braking heavily. Got it up on the paddock stand to check and found one of the discs has warped enough to manifest itself though chattering, the other is less bad but also isn’t straight.

    At the start of the year I fitted some braided hoses and new pads, and it seems this combination has fatigued the 16 year old discs and caused them to warp, so no track day now and a pretty big bill for a pair of new discs!

    Better to find out the problem on a road than at high speed at the end of a straight on a circuit I guess, but disappointing nonetheless!




    Dressed and ready for action but warped discs mean playtime is cancelled! 

  • Tyres

    Tyres- those shiny black hoops of rubber that we put our faith into to keep us shiny side up! I’ve not experimented too much with tyres, preferring to stick with what I know. For the RC45 this has meant years of running Pirelli Diablos, due mainly to the fact there are so few options available in the 16 inch front wheel size, but I’ve had good experience with them on road and on multiple circuits and track days.

    I rode on Bridgestone BT020’s on my Blackbirds for 8 years, preferring the original 020’s to the 021 replacements. On my BMW K1200GT I first rode on the Metzeler Z6’s it came fitted with. Neutral handling, easy turn in, but no warning of when the rear was about to reach the end of it’s life, as I found in Spain when a tyre which looked ok in the morning, was down to the cord by the afternoon. Replacements were Michelin Pilot Roads which I found ultra fast turning  and a little unstable in comparison to the Z6’s, until I had got used to their characteristics, but I loved the extra long life I got out of them. 

    Next came a BMW K1300GT which came fitted with the old faithful BT020’s. First set did high mileage, second set 30% less, so I decided to change to the new Michelin Pilot Road 2’s. Great tyres, again quick turning, better in the wet than the 020’s, and quieter! They skidded less off tar snakes too, but you can tell when you hit the transition point between the hard compound middle and softer edges.  After a couple of odd rides where I experienced some “different” handling traits which worried me a little, I started to get concerned that the tyre wasn’t as good two up as the BT020’s, and with a forthcoming tour round Andorra and Spain coming up, took the opportunity to try the new Bridgestone BT023 GT’s.  This new tyre is supposed to have much better wet weather performance and 30% longer life, so if I find it delivers on these promises I’m going to be a happy bunny.

    Here are some pics showing the radically different tread patterns between the two different marques.

    Bridgestone BT023 left- Michelin PR2 right.

    The BT023 has loads more water clearing grooves, presumably to clear a better path for the rear.

    Front BT023– Check out how few of the sipes actually go the edge of the tyre wall. There is a gap of 18cm (7 inches)  between the grooves which do reach the edge leaving an almost slick like look, not sure how that will work in the wet although this is supposed to be a tyre with much improved wet weather grip!

    Here are the rears, BT023  left and PR2 right

    Rear BT023

    Again not all grooves reach the tyre wall edge although this time the gap is smaller at 15cm ( 5.9 inches )

    I’ll give a review of their performance when I get back from my tour after I’ve had a few thousand kms of use on them.

  • Zurich bike show pics

    I promised to post a few pics from the Zurich bike show a few weeks back,  apologies for the delay, but here they are now.

    Gorgeous old Norton

    Magnificent old 2 stroke Yamaha racer

    I was interested to try the new VFR after having ridden Hondas for a lifetime, including the original VFR800i, and 100,000kms on two CBR1100XX Super Blackbirds. Initially I thought the VFR  comfortable, second time around I was less impressed, and there are too few concessions to long distance touring, small fuel tank, no cruise control, heated grips, adjustable screen etc.etc. Maybe I’ve been spoilt with my BMW, but it seems that a test ride would have to be outstanding to persuade me I could do without so many “basics” I now take for granted.

    Another major surprise was how uncomfortable this MV Agusta was. I nearly bought one years ago, but this was so uncomfortable, that it’s clear my advancing years and ageing bones wouldn’t be at home on this one, what a shame!

    And talking of comfort, can’t imagine this one would be too good!


    How much discomfort can a body take?

    Nice paint job

    2 wheeled porn. The absolute highlight of the show, my all time favourite in the metal, although placed high up on a display unit so no touching!

    Well we were in Switzerland, so here’s a Swiss edition Kawasaki

    Keeping the Swiss theme going, do you recognise this young man?  This is the diminutive former 125 World Champion Thomas Luthi.

  • Glad to be able to help others.

    In the past year or so, changing personal circumstances have created many new friendships, and as  the tour business starts to grow, I’m coming into contact with people from parts of the globe I have yet to visit.

    One such person contacted me a couple of weeks ago, her name is Ara, and she lives in the USA. Ara had  seen my tour website, and asked if I would be interested in helping her to plan a tour she wants to make, on her own, in summer 2011.  There are a lot of interesting aspects to her tour which made me want to help/work with her. Check out her blog at www.vespavoyages.com. Be sure to read it ALL the way through.

    The story is inspirational, and to achieve her goal, will require substantial planning and great personal determination. Conquering her own personal handicaps, and overcoming the numerous physical and logistical hurdles in front of her, she plans to write a book about her trip, to show others with disabilities what can be done.

    I’m pleased that she has asked me to help on her project, and as time progresses I’ll update on her plans, alternatively follow them yourselves at the above website, I’m sure she will appreciate your support.



  • Moto Guzzi- interesting range worth looking at?

    Moto Guzzi, a marque steeped in heritage, but perhaps one largely ignored, overlooked, or arguably overshadowed, by the larger and more sophistocated machines hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun. Why buy an idiosyncratic Italian machine when you can buy a reliable Japanese one which not only costs less, but which will run for years with minimal servicing and without breaking down. I  guess the answer is that its the same reason people buy Harleys, to be different, and because they want to stand out from the crowd, and that alternative bikes, and especially Guzzi, have that extra something special called CHARACTER.

    I first noticed Guzzis back in the late 70s when a work colleague had an 850 T3 California. This was at a time when there were still some Triumphs around, and the Japanese were really starting in their ascendency. The T3 was a real oddball, looked different, had shaft drive and a screen, and represented a real alternative riding experience. 

    Many many years later, a good friend had an 1100S, which he sent to Dynotech in Germany and had it completely updated, with new wheels, brakes and a lot of engine work.

    All of this cost a fortune, and having ridden it, I would have to say it had a character of its own, and certainly wasnt even close to what you might call refined or mainstream. let alone easy to ride, especially for someone used to riding 4 strokes.Having already logged the Guzzi range as offbeat and certainly oddball, this thought was reinforced yet again, after the experiences of another friend.

    Ian used to ride with me for several years, but after writing off two R6s, he took an enforced leave from riding, which also coincided with the birth of his first child. Biking runs in the blood though, and he soon wanted to get back into biking, but mindful of the fact his wife was less than impressed with the idea of visting him in hospital again, he decided to buy a Guzzi, with the idea that it was a bike, had two wheels, and would provide a safer and slower return to biking, whilst at the same time appeasing the demands of his better half.  The experiment didnt last long however, as he was unable to get used to the constant vibrations, the movement to one side when blipping the throttle, the famous shaft drive effect, and handling he was never able to get fully used to, the Guzzzi was sold and a BMW 1200S replaced it.

    So why are Guzzis suddenly of interest to me?  Their range has been updated, improved, and restyled, and since their purchase by Piaggio, over the course of the past few years, their range has improved massively, and now looks to be really interesting.

    The Stelvio looks a real competitor for the BMW GS.

    The MGS Corse looks a wickedly styled sports bike, yes I did use the word sports.

    The machine that really holds my interest though is the Griso. In white this machine is big, imposing, has a great presence, and I really want to ride one.

    This renaissance in my opinion has been coming over the past year. After riding a GS loan bike, I started looking at alternatives, and found the Stelvio. Whilst riding the Julier pass in Switzerland last year, we saw a whole group of Guzzis, in fact most of the range was amongst this group, all ridden by Italians. One particularly noticeable bike was a custom painted Breva, in a fetching shade of pink, and ridden by a woman.  The sound this group  made was awesome, and my interest was piqued further still.

    Last week my friend bought a Piggio MP3 LT400, and the dealer there also sells Guzzis. I took the opportunity to sit on the Griso and assess it for real, rather than just through magazine pictures, and guess what, its a really cool bike. Low, comfortable to sit on, VERY stylish, and I could really imagine myself aboard one of these, just chilling on local rides, although without a screen or luggage its not very practical, but for shorter day rides during the summer months it would be very cool. Of course youd need an open face helmet and goggles for the authentic cool Italian look, but at 11990 euros, its not that expensive compared to the BMW K1300GT I own, and with the Blackbird now sold there is a litle more room in the garage, although with those big cylinders sticking out, Im not sure it would fit in. The proof however is in the eating, and this means a test ride. I may hate it, as Ive yet to really gel with twins, but at least Ive been tempted, and who knows, if they can get others interested through great ranges, styling and design, we may start to see even more Guzzis on the roads, and with their big thumping Vtwin sound tracks, that would be worth hearing.

  • 2010 season

    Finally the weather is changing, and plans for the new year are riding season have started in earnest.

    Track days- Every year I usually ride a couple of days on track, at a circuit in France, and the Ron Haslam Race School in the UK at Donington Park. This year the Donington trip isn’t likely to happen as the track is still not rebuilt ,and there were rumours that the race school may be relocating elsewhere. Another factor is that since my parents have emigrated,  I no longer have a free overnight stopover, and the addition of  hotel and meal costs on top of flight and course costs, just make it too expensive to consider.

    There are a group of riding buddies who are still track virigins, and a few of them are looking at breaking their duck and venturing out on track, so Lucy Levis in April, or Ledenon in July,, are looking favourites at the moment. Since Ledenon was the very first place I ever rode on a track, back in 1999, I’m keen to get back there, and see how a V4 RC45 compares to the  V4 VFR800 I rode all those years ago!


    Destinations- As always Spain, Andorra, and Italy feature heavily on the wish list, the most likely being the Dolomites, combined with a trip over the border into Austria and back to the Grossglockner Pass. I’d like to go back to Croatia and Dubrovnik too. I have a route planned down through Italy to Rome, across to San Marino, take the ferry over to Croatia, and then back via Slovenia, Austria, and the Dolomites. Sounds good doesn’t it?

    italy flag

    spain flag

    andorrra flag

    Riding skills- I’m thinking of taking training to become a qualified motorcycle instructor, although I’m sure that in France and with the language and bureaucracy here, that might be a big mountain to climb!

    Tours- I’m hoping the tours will do well this year, I have great support from friends and the chalet owners, and I’m sure anyone who comes will have a fantastic time.


    Bikes- It looks like the Blackbird is flying away to a new home this weekend. I won’t know what to do with the space in the garage, although my better half says I’ll soon fill it with something!

    2008-08-03 001 036

    Ciao for now.


  • The road “safety” initiative in France

    Years before he became the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy held the position of Minister of the Interior, and began his campaign to increase the awareness of danger on the road. His actions to achieve this goal comprised the introduction of  a new raft of fines for driving indiscretions, a massive clampdown on speeding, and the start of a program of mass purchases of speed cameras, which continues to this day.

    Whilst it is true there were major reductions in road deaths, the French people hated what was seen as the “opression” of road users, and no group was more vociferous in it’s condemnation of these new policies than motorcyclists. The press ran regular campaigns and cartoons decrying the new ways of policing, and this cartoon from 2006 sums up the way motorcyclists believed they were being singled out as targets.


    When you consider that France is also the only country in Europe with maximum power limted to 106bhp, then perhaps their position is better understood. Years later the magazines still run monthly reports on the level of fines and number of licences lost due to the continued expansion of the radar network, and as someone who recently got caught speeding by a mobile trap on a non dangerous stretch of A road, I can confirm that the French are vigorously continuing with their “safety offensive!