All posts by Arthur

Seasoned London commuter, doing my best to stay rubber side down and never stop moving forward.

Flat Battery

battery-chargerAfter a thoroughly relaxing Christmas break and taking a couple of weeks off work, I had planned a little ride out with my wife. The weather was cold, but nice and sunny, so I unwrapped my bike ready to go, only to find it wouldn’t start. Totally flat battery. ūüôĀ

Not too surprising considering I hadn’t used the bike in about 2 weeks and left the battery out in the cold. A trip to Halfords to purchase a battery charger was in order. They only had one model that was suitable for motorcycle batteries, the Ring SmartCharge 100 and cost me ¬£57. Back home, I took the battery out and left it charging indoors for several hours. The charger was simple to use, it auto diagnoses the battery and displayed its charge level. Once fully charged, the bike started fine, but now it was too late for our ride out.

So, get yourself a decent charger before you actually need one. You’ll be able to source one online much cheaper than the Halfords store. If you do plan on leaving your bike unused for more than a week or two, it’s well worth leaving it on a trickle charge. Either bring the battery inside, or setup a lead off the battery which you can plug it in with.

Pinlock Visor

Pinklock VisorIn the cold and wet weather, a steamed up visor is a serious problem. Reduced visibility is just plain dangerous. I find myself having to ride around with my visor open slightly and often totally open when I stop at junctions, to get enough air flow. it’s a constant battle, alternating between cold/wet face and steamed up visor. The problem is twice as bad as a glasses wearer. Once your glasses are wet, even when not steamed up, visibility is poor.

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Westminster Motorcycle Parking

Westminster Motorcycle ParkingI had to head over to my old haunt in Soho tonight to catch up with some old work colleagues. However unlike the the rest of London, Westminster council charge for motorcycle parking in the solo bike bays – the cheek!

You have to register first, then phone or txt through, with details of your bike reg and the parking bay location id. Full details can be found on the Westminster Council website here. The charge is £1 a day. Not going to break the bank, but a right faff when parking up. it is however free after 7pm, until 7am. I can definitely recommend signing up and sticking the number on your phone handy for when you may wonder into the West End.

To find out where there are convenient parking bays, I can recommend this site: ParkingForBikes.com. It has a decent search engine and interactive map, highlighting which bays are free and which aren’t.

Givi Monokey Rack & Top Box

Givi Monokey RackI recently decided to get myself a decent top box for the bike. I have been using some Oxford cloth panniers, which have been fine but proved less than ideal for carrying my heavy chain and lock. Often drooping down on one side, unbalancing the bike slightly and precariously pressing down on the rear indicator stalk.

When it comes to top boxes and hard luggage in general, Givi is the brand to have. Givi have two levels of products the basic Monolock range and the better Monokey range. The latter are higher spec’d to carry more weight, for higher speeds and more weather proof. To fit a top box, I first have to fit some a rack to the bike, which consists of some motorcycle model specific arms and a universal mounting plate. For the Fazer FZS600 this is the Givi 340F rack and the M3 plate (for Monokey boxes). This pair normally sets you back about ¬£95-100 in the UK, however I was able to find a shop on ebay.it that could post the pair (brand new) from Italy for about ¬£60 – bargain. You maybe able to source one second hand, but finding one in good nick with all the bolts and fastenings is not easy. And note, slightly different bolts are required for the early ’98-99 Fazer to the later ’00-03 FZS600. Continue reading “Givi Monokey Rack & Top Box” »

Ace’s Cafe with London Bikers Forum

Ace CafeI popped along to Ace’s Cafe for the first time last night. Famously frequented by the cafe racers who bombed it around the North Circular.¬†Opening in 1938, it is still a veritable hot bed of motorbike enthusiasts and great place to meet up with fellow bikers and have a good cuppa’.

The occasion last night was Newbie Night for the London Bikers forum, which occurs on the first Monday of the month. I initially met up with a handful of bikers in the centre, then we all set off to Ace’s together and had a good chin wag. It was a great night, lots of comradery and good to hear from other newbie’s and their experiences learning. And discovering I’m not alone in dropping the bike in daft manners! It was a chilly ride home, I was glad of my new heated gloves.

Gerbing’s XR12 Hybrid Heated Gloves Review

Gerbings XR12 Hyrbid Heated Gloves close upI know I recently picked up some decent Alpinestars Goretex gloves, but I saw these gloves on special offer through BuyaPowa. They operate in a Groupon kind of way, where the more buyers who sign up for the deal, the cheaper the deal gets. Either way, I managed to get these Gerbing’s Heated Gloves for the super price of ¬£100, that’s a good ¬£60 off. They took a while to turn up, after the deal closed, but are definitely worth the wait.

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Bloody Puncture

Motorcycle punctureNot a good day today. Whilst on the way into central London, I  felt a bump and heard a slight clatter from the front wheel. It cleared quickly , so I carried on. Big mistake. When I did finally stop I noticed this big screw protruding from my tyre, and air hissing out slowly I had only ridden several miles down the busy A13, with my wife pillion on the back  Рeeek!  Damned lucky not to have had a blow out.

Being stuck in Mile End, I rang up nearby Pole Position, who sent one of their chaps round to repair the puncture. They showed me poke the ‘strings’ of the rubber puncture kit into the tyre and seal the hole, enabling me to get to their workshop and replace the tyre. It only had a 3-6 months of tread left in it, so replacement seemed best option. On went a nice new Metzeler Roadtec Z6¬†front tyre, which seems to get good reviews and will hopefully put me in good stead for the coming winter.

Lessen learnt: If you feel something dodgy whilst riding, stop sooner rather than later to check it out.

Hein Gericke Pathan Evo Gloves Review

Hein Gericke Pathan Gloves palmsThese were the first pair of gloves I bought, having picked them up in the lengthy summer sale at Hein Gericke, whilst I was still learning. As you know, Hein Gericke UK went into administration in July, but have since been rescued by the German arm of the company and so many of their shops still remain. In choosing these gloves, I was looking for a good all round glove, and had thought an all year round glove would be viable. Oh how wrong I was.

Continue reading “Hein Gericke Pathan Evo Gloves Review” »

Two Up – First Attempt Taking Pillion

Two up, a pillion ride outI went two up on the bike for the first time today. That’s pillion, passenger on the back for those not in the know. With the kids farmed off to friends, my wife and I took off on a ride out into the rural Essex for a slap up pub lunch (sans alcohol of course).

I had been taught about carrying a pillion passenger as part of my DAS training, but the examiner had merely asked a knowledge question on the subject. My instructor had sat on the back of the bike, to give us a feel of the extra weight and highlight how passengers should not mount the bike (step onto one foot peg with all their weight), but today was my first time on the road with a pillion.

So with foot pegs down and feet firmly planted on the floor, my wife hopped on, albeit with a slight struggle due to her lack of statue. The extra weight changed the bikes handling dramatically, I was very wobbly initially, as every learn was exaggerated by the extra weight. My stopping distances were much longer, meaning I had to read the road further ahead and plan more. But after a few miles, I became accustomed to the change in handling and smoothed out my riding.

Key pillion points:

  1. Passengers must be able to reach foot pegs.
  2. Passengers should only get on and off when directed to.
  3. Passengers should hold on to rider or grab bar and not wave to distract rider or other vehicles
  4. Front braking and steering will be lighter.
  5. Expect over-steer when leaning, due to extra weight.

We took many country roads and an indirect route to Blackmore in Essex, where there are a couple of great pubs, serving some top grub. Fully sated, we had a good ride around with no set route, before finally stopping over at High Beach in Epping, at the big biker tea hut meet. The tea was stewed, but the weather was good, and there were loads of other bikes to check out. Overall, a good ride out with plenty learnt.

First Off

Fuck.

First off, scratched fairingHad my first off this morning. Feel so stupid, was such a novice error. The roads were a bit wet, I was just 5 minutes from home, coming up to a mini roundabout. All of a sudden a car suddenly indicated to come round the mini roundabout, I panicked and hit the brakes hard, too hard. Locked the front wheel and skidded down. Didn’t hit any other vehicles thankfully, or have any injuries, but I had the weight of the bike on top of me, scratched it badly and dented my confidence somewhat. Had to hit the emergency off and pissed petrol everywhere.

Put a nasty scuff in the fairing, bent a crash bobbin in turn cracking the belly pan and popped the can off. Not too serious, but the bikes’ perfect cosmetics are no more. Everyone says, as a learner you’ll inevitable drop your first bike, but it’s still bloody annoying.

First off, scratched belly panLessons learnt: be smoother on the brakes, weight the back brake more in the wet and I can actually lift the bike! Oh and put it back in neutral, before wasting ages trying to work out why you can’t push the bike to the side of road….