• Category Archives Stuff
  • 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.

    Cheers

    Paul


  • 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!

    circuit-ledenon

    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.

    Alp-1-800(2)

    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.

    Paul


  • 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.

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    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!


  • Happy New Year

    It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since I was last posting a Happy Xmas note!

    I’d like to wish you all the very best for this coming New Year, enjoy the parties, nurse tomorrow’s hangovers, swear to never do it again, then count down the days and keep checking the weather forecasts for the chance to get out riding again.

     

    Here I am on the left celebrating the turn of the year with Marc F.

    Cheers

    PAUL


  • I’m writing a book!

    A few years ago I decided to put pen to paper and tell the story of how I started riding, and share some of those experiences with my family, friends, and who knows, one day, maybe the public?

    I have written MANY tens of thousands of words recounting days, weeks, and years of my biking life, memorable points, defining moments, bikes that I aspire to own, and tours to places and countries that have provided wonderful memories over the years. Since the mid 90’s I have averaged 10,000 miles a year of leisure riding, and spent glorious summers in the Alps, thanks to my wonderful wife Sue who shares my biking passion, (although unfortunately not for Alpine passes) I have been unbridled in my riding time and adventures.  I’ll share some of these in the blog over time, and maybe who knows, you may see my book on a shelf somewhere, or maybe not!

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