Marshalling Hackney Half Marathon

A change is as good as a rest, so the saying goes and this Sunday on the bike was most definitely a change from the norm. I volunteered to help marshal the Hackney Half Marathon with the East London Advanced Motorcyclists (ELAM) group.

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12,000 odd runners barely a hundred metres behind us.

Our role is to ride the race course in advance to ensure it is clear, the road closures are adhered to and route is generally safe for all the runners to come through. It was an early start, but lovely weather and warming up fast. Roads closed at 7am ready for the race start at 9am. We donned our high viz, took radios and trackers, and made some slow circuits of the course. Finally we rode out slowly in pairs just ahead of the race leaders with 12,000 odd runners barely a hundred metres behind us.

HackneyHalfMarathon02Lots of slow speed control, some polite warnings to public trying to leak onto the course and overall, a nice change to do something different and helpful. Also, a big congrats to the winner Mark Kibiwott, who managed 12.6 miles in 1hr 4mins, in the heat!

Thumbs Up: Squire SS65CS Padlock

Squire Padlock ReplacementLast week when my wife tried to take her bike out she discovered the Squire padlock had seized, leaving it chained to the ground! Neither key would unlock, we tried dousing it in WD40, GT85 and Halfords Shock’n’Unlock spray, even after been left to soak for a day or two. We tried tapping it with a hammer, but nothing would make the key budge in the lock.

Upon contacting Security For Bikes who we purchased it from, they informed us it was covered by a 10 year warranty and put us in touch with an engineer at Squire. They got back to very quickly with some advice, mostly what we had tried already, but as a last resort suggested applying pliers to the key to force the lock. This worked and the padlock opened, however it wouldn’t unlock again subsequently.

As per Squire’s advice we sent it back for repair/replacement. A couple of days later a brand new padlock arrived through the post with a cheque to refund us for postage.  So, a big thumbs up goes to Squire, for their top customer service, prompt responses and a warranty that really is worth the paper it’s printed on.

You can purchase a Henry Squire SS65CS padlock from Amazon here.

CBF500 RedFox Fender Extender / Flick

CBF500 Fender Extender - 1Mary’s little CBF500 is very much a commuter hack and needs to run in all weathers. In an effort to winter proof it I fitted this RedFox fender extender (or flick) a little while ago.

It’s a very similar affair to the Pyramid fender extender I fitted on my Fazer some time ago. A small plastic extension to the front mudguard to help ward off dirt and crud being flung up against the front of the frame, radiator and engine. After having a struggle to remove the oil filter last service, I’m hoping this will help matter somewhat.

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London Cabbie’s Right Arm

It’s when a cab driver nonchalantly sticks a hand out of their window, when you really need to stick the anchors on. As you soon learn in London, a Cabbie’s hand out of the window is a profound gesture of biblical nature, for it will truly part the seas of traffic, across all lanes and denominations to allow the Londoner’s saviour, the black cab to perform a U-turn. Come what may, no matter time of day or Sabbath, with no fear of other infidel road users present, the tarmac in front of that cab will be thy blessed and none shall interfere nor blaspheme. Thy shall let that cab perform thy holy U-turn decreed. Upon completion of this latter day miracle the tides of chemical emissions will crash forth, the sea of traffic will return and no enemies shall follow thy holy black cab as they deliver another fair paying city apostle to the promised land.

‐ Christopher. Licensed Taxi 40666.

Amen

 

CBF500 Rear Hugger

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Rear hugger, painted & fitted

Following the absolute nightmare I previously had removing the rear shock from Mary’s CBF500, I was adamant not to let the newly refurbished shock also get ruined by the elements. By default Honda, in their infinite wisdom leave the shock completely unprotected from the rear tyre and all the curd and wet it flings up into the wheel arch – yeah, nice one. A rear hugger is the perfect solution help keep the swing arm, shock and most of the wheel arch protected.

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Hel Braided Brake Hose

CBF500-Hel-Braided-Brake-Hose-1The front brake on Mary’s CBF500 had been feeling a bit spongy since we bought it and just didn’t inspire much confidence. At first we dismissed the poor stopping power due to a single disc and two pot caliper with some basic organic pads in it. But no, it was most definitely spongy with either old fluid, air in the system or duff rubber hose.

Since I was planning to drain the brake fluid, replace and bleed the system, I picked up some Hel braided hose to fit at the same time. With just one line to one caliper, replacement hose would be cheap and didn’t make it worth my while not changing them at the same time. With some forum discount codes floating around, they came delivered direct from Hel for £23 – bargain! Although I was a little boring and just opted for basic black lines with default silver banjos, rather than any of the multitude other colours they are available in.

The hose fitting was a doddle, all bolts and banjo joints fitted perfectly. Bleeding took a little more effort and some persistence, to finally expel all the air bubbles out of the system. The results were much better though, brakes with a nice solid bite

Hel braided brake lines definitely get my recommendation. I’ve been using them on my Fazer for the last year and now they’ve vastly improved things on Mary’s CBF.

Honda CBF500 – Shock Rebuild & Lowering

Mary is a little vertically challenged, which can make most motorcycles a bit tricky to ride. At 5’1″ she is only just on tip toes when sat on her stock CBF500, so lowering was essential. Lowering a bike can be achieved by reducing the seat and/or lowering the suspension. Mary’s CBF500 needed both!

Suspension Lowering

MFW Lowering Linkage
MFW Lowering Linkage

Lowering the rear suspension of a bike can be achieved either swapping on longer ‘dog legs’ – the struts that go from bottom of shock to swing arm; or by shortening the overall length of the shock. The CBF500 rear shock mounts directly to the swingarm, thus the latter approach was needed. MFW sell a number of lowering kits including a replacement lower shock linkage for many Honda’s. This replaces the stock linkage of a standard Honda Showa shock, shortening its entire length. The linkage came in for £65, however similarly parts by other brands sell for £100-120. Alternative approaches involve replacing the spring on the shock for a shorter one.

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Trials and tribulations of a motorcycle newbie in London