Category Archives: Hardware

Tax Disc Woes

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Decent Oxford Tax Disc Holder

I recently taxed my bike and through the post came a quaint little circle of paper to affix to the bike. A bureaucratic vestige of a by gone time. Now almost every road in the country is under the watchful eye of ANPR cameras, do coppers still look at these little discs? Regardless, it is still an offence to not display one.

Problem #1: My tax disc holder would not open, not even budge. Tried WD40, tried thread free spray, tried everything, stuck fast. 🙁 In the end, seemed easier to just get another tax disc holder. Picked up a basic Oxford one (pictured below) off ebay for couple of quid.

Problem #2: The hole in new holder is too small for the existing bolt on bike and my toolbox lacked appropriate drill bits. So I bolted it to a random fairing bracket which had a convenient hole already there.

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Crap Oxford Tax Disc Holder

Problem #3: Tax disc holder is crap. Just a flimsy rubber band around the edge to hold disc in place. Kept coming open every time I took the cover off the bike and brushed past it. A couple of times (by luck) I found the disc on the floor outside, long after I put the bike away. The seal is crap too, the holder is full of damp.

So at last, I purchased another tax disc holder (off ebay), one with the correct size hole, is solid and has bolts holding it together. It is also of the Oxford brand (pictured top), but a much better one. The little alan bolts are bit fiddly, but then you don’t want it too easy to get into, lest a tea leaf takes a fancy. It’s also anodised in a fetching blue, which almost matches the bike.

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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. 🙁

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.

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” »

Lowered Seat for Fazer

This evening I picked up a second hand lowed seat for my Fazer (from a chap on the Fazer’s Owner Club). My wife used to be a keen biker and wanted to take my Fazer out from time to time, however she is only 5’1″ tall and found the Fazer too high to manage. This replacement seat is essentially a standard seat that has had the leather cover peeled back and much of the foam padding cut away, then restitched up again. It brings the seat height down an inch or so and is very quick to swap on and off.

My wife is still struggling a bit with the Fazer, but can at least get her toes on the ground now. Hopefully with a bit of practice, she’ll get the confidence and balance to manage it.

R&G Racing Superbike Rain Cover

R&G Rain CoverUnfortunately I don’t have the luxury of a garage or shed to store my motorbike, I have to park the bike on our driveway, open to the elements. There’s no two ways about it, a bike will never last as well stored on the drive like this. But a decent rain cover can mitigate this somewhat.

But which cover? It seems you spend anything from a tenner to nigh on a monkey for a top notch cover. But what is really worth it?

I was looking for something durable, water proof (duh!), not going to melt on the exhaust and easy to put on and take off. Going through the reviews, the general verdict was an Oxford Stormtex or R&G Racing Superbike cover, which come in at £40 and £60 respectively. The Oxford cover has the edge in the heat proof stakes, but costs more. However R&G have an outlet store on ebay, where I managed to pick this cover for a measly £25! No contest.

Edit: The cover is a little tight fitting, particularly so since adding the Givi top box rack, which juts out a bit at the back. As to heat from exhaust, I’ve never had a problem, by the time I’ve chained up the bike and removed top box, the can is plenty cool to pop cover over the top.

Visit the R&G Outlet Shop on Ebay.

Security, Pragmasis Chain & Torc Ground Anchor

Pragmasis Security Chain & Torc Ground AnchorBike security is essential in London. It’s a sad state of affairs, but bike crime is rife and only a fool would skimp on security. A good solid chain is one of the best measures you can take, but it is only as good as what you chain the bike to.

Your chain should have at least 16mm thick links, anything less is a waste of time. As many would be thieves favour 42″ bolt cutters, which generally have a mouth that can only accommodate ~14mm chains. Even better, opt for a 19mm chain. The best brands out there are Almax and Pragmasis. Price wise there is little difference, however I opted with Pragmasis as their ground anchor appeared to have the edge slightly. The downside of these big chains is weight. Since I would be carrying the chain to work everyday, I opted for the 16mm chain, which at 2m and with lock, weighs in at about 15Kg!
Continue reading “Security, Pragmasis Chain & Torc Ground Anchor” »