Well, 2016 was quite a year; so many great musicians and celebs dying; the whole Brexit fiasco, Big Mother Theresa May in power and not to mention despicable Trump being elected. It’s difficult to look back and take stock of the good stuff that happened. But, my wife finally finished her PhD, my best mate from college got married, I popped my track day cherry and even managed a whole year without falling off!
As for new year’s resolutions and forthcoming plans, here’s just a few:
Throughout the years I’ve been riding my Yamaha Fazer I have always found the seat a bit of a weak point. It suffices for short journeys, but after a couple of hours it’s less comfortable. But what really annoys me is how slippery it is, especially when wet, worse than Bon Jovi. In the past I’ve worked around these issues by strapping a Triboseat grippy cover on top, but it’s not perfect.
Recently I splashed out on a replacement seat from Wijalis, a small Polish firm that recover and rebuild all kinds of motorcycle seats. This particular seat was one ready built upon a standard Yamaha seat base, and although I was offered options to customise it further, I opted to stick with it as built, and thus set me back £100. Wijalis also sell seat covers on their own or you can send them your seat for remoulding as you desire.
“Lest we forget
What they were dying for
Lest we forget
What they were killing for
Lest we forget
What the hell it was for”
This remembrance Sunday I joined an ELAM ride out to Duxford War Museum, which had free entry for the weekend and many remembrance activities organised. The weather had brightened up, but the morning roads were wet and slippery with leaves and crud, so pace was conservative.
Who hasn’t got any bad riding habits? Don’t lie, none of us are perfect, I bet you all have the odd bad habit you’ve picked up. Maybe you don’t realise, maybe you know full well but have never managed to shake it. Below are a number of very common bad habits and why they can be bad.
Covering The Front Brake
Covering the front brake can be bad as when taken by surprise you are more likely to grab a handful, panic brake and lock up the front wheel. Especially if you have no ABS, are banked over or in the wet. By not covering the brake, you are more likely to consider a swerve instead or brake progressively.
Secondly, if (like me) you tend to cover with two fingers only, you won’t be applying as much leverage on the brake lever, and possibly obstructing it with your other fingers. If you brake hard and your little finger gets squashed, at best you can’t brake any harder, at worst you’re gonna release the brake cause your little pinky hurts!
Having fairly wide calves, I have found it difficult to find motorbike boots to fit, especially higher ones. Having had no luck on eBay purchasing cheap second hand boots I bought these Furygan D3O shorty boots from the MCN London Motorcycle show back in February.
The Furygan Jet Lady boots are a comfortable ankle boot, and although they do not provide the protection of a full length boot they are a good compromise, being both comfortable and having CE armour protection. They feature a waterproof and breathable Sympatex liner and a flap which Velcros over the upper part of the laces to stop them catching on the bike. I have worn them on long ride outs and also off the bike, finding them comfortable and easy to walk in. They work well with textile trousers which sit just over the top of the boots. The boots are low enough that they also work with leather trousers.
The holidays are most definitely over, it’s back to the serious business of not dying on the streets of London. I see a lot of stupid road users and I’m fairly immune (mentally) to most of it these days, but tonight things got very close. A proper brown pants, heart pumping, adrenaline gushing moment.
See if you can predict what is about to unfold. What would you have done?
I’m sure there are few bikers who wouldn’t want to take their bikes onto a super smooth track, with no speed limits and great corners to tip into. However, I’m also sure there are many lesser experienced bikers who are a little nervous or put off booking a full on track day. If you’ve only got a little street bike for commuting or are not a confident rider, you will likely be daunted by the idea of hitting the track with loads of race replica, crotch rockets, fresh out of tyre warmers and fuelled on testosterone and macho posturing.
Undoubtedly they prefer teaching bikers to ride better, than cleaning up motorcycle mess off the roads when things go wrong.
However, a track day is a great way to improve your riding and learn what your bike can do in a safe environment. And this is the core aim of this novice Ride Skills track day I attended, run by Kent Fire service in conjunction with IAM and MSVT. Undoubtedly they prefer teaching bikers to ride better, than cleaning up motorcycle mess off the roads when things go wrong. The day included:
Somehow, I managed to break one of the clips for the inner sun visor on my Schuberth S2 helmet (same visor for C3 and C3 Pro). Despite using duct tape to secure it, invariably it would come free and start flapping around whilst I’m in the middle of riding. Less than ideal.
Today I finally got round to fitting my replacement sun visor. A little bit tricky as the pins on the hinges that go through the visor are slanted to ease the visor slotting in and prevent it coming out. I managed to gently push one pin from behind with a piece of wooden dowl, then prise the visor out. The visor having broken on the other side negated the need to repeat on the other pin.
No matter how hard you try, you inevitable cover it in finger prints…
Fitting the new sun visor was a bit easier, but required some coordination to slide both sides of the visor into both hinges at the same time whilst keeping them and helmet still. No matter how hard you try, you inevitable cover it in finger prints… 🙁
The replacement sun visor cost £35 from SportsBikeShop. Note it comes in two sizes for different helmet sizes.
Just picked up this Alpinestars one piece suit off eBay. With a bit of patience I managed to blag this decent nick one for a monkey, not bad as they often go for £150-300 odd. Sizing was a bit tricky, as I’m pretty tall and skinny (6’1″ & 11 stone), but an EU52 fits well for height, not too bad around the waist and it only a spot baggy around the arse. Plenty of room for my separate back protector. The knee sliders are also nicely worn, so I won’t look a complete track day virgin… 😉
My plan is to try some track days, starting with a Novice Skills Day at Brand Hatch. Run in combination with Kent Fire Service and MSV, it covers Biker Down, slow speed control, an IAM/RoSPA observed ride and two 20 min track sessions. All for the princely sum of £55. It’s been a while since I did a Biker Down course and more slow speed and IAM tuition is always handy. Watch this space for my report back on the day.
It seems everyone is riding with a camera protruding from their helmet these days, all super hot shot VBlogger’s in the making and hoping to match the likes of Baron Von Grumble / Royal Jordanian, or simply bring all wrong doers to justice. The reality is, 99% of the footage shot on a bike is pretty dull to watch and the remaining 1% needs some serious editing to create 5 minutes of entertaining YouTube video.
However, here are some more adventurous riders whose YouTube channels don’t contain yet another dull city commute dodging pedestrians. Enjoy!