Cheap(ish) Euro 3 Commuter Hacks to Beat the London ULEZ

You’ve all heard the news of the London ULEZ coming into effect from April 2019 that will penalise all pre-Euro 3 bikes within central London. That’s generally anything older than 2007 will be hit with a £12.50 a day charge, with London only being the start – many other UK cities have already starting similar proposals, so if you’re running a cheap old commuter hack, time is ticking.

the recent motorcycle crime epidemic is making insurance premiums prohibitively high on anything of value or large capacity

We’d all like splash out on a new bike, but not all of us have financial luxury and PCP deals are rarely economical for a daily commuter doing big yearly miles. Even worse for those who live in inner London, the recent motorcycle crime epidemic is making insurance premiums prohibitively high on anything of reasonable value, large engine capacity or desirability.

So where does that leave a seasoned commuter on a budget needing a something to replace their trusty and reliable commuter hack. Here are some suggestions of practical Euro 3 compliant bikes for city commuting that won’t break the bank both to buy or to insure. Continue reading “Cheap(ish) Euro 3 Commuter Hacks to Beat the London ULEZ” »

MCN Festival Peterborough Low Down

A sunny weekend, lumbered with the bored kids and wishing I was out on the bike. Hmm, what to do instead? Well, the MCN Festival up near Peterborough was on and looked like a good day out. At £16 quid for an advance day ticket, kids going free, only an hour and bit drive away and plenty on schedule – it seemed a good option.

Yamaha boy checking out the new MT-09

Located at the easily accessible East of England show ground it was a surprisingly big event. My first time in attendance and I’d certainly not been to the old BMF rally it descended from either. A large number of manufacturers and key dealers were present displaying the latest bikes to see up close, sit on and take for a quick test ride out on nearby roads. Continue reading “MCN Festival Peterborough Low Down” »

Ride Out Route – Essex Loop

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to lead a ride for the ELAM group. A bit of a double edged sword, a great chance to pick a route via my favourite roads, but also somewhat nerve wracking – you don’t want to miss a turning, lose anyone and so on. For the ride I choose a popular loop around Essex, starting in Harlow, then taking in Finchingfield, Halstead, Mersea Island, Maldon, Burnham-on-Crouch then returning to Harlow.

Part 1

Bikes on show at Finchingfield

The first leg starts at Harlow McD’s just off M11 Junction 7, takes a number of rural and twisty roads up through Ongar, Hatfield Heath, Standstead airport, Thaxted and then Finchingfield. These back roads twist and turn and are great to throw your bike left then right, and almost all have great condition tarmac. With the weather warming up a much needed ice cream was had in Finchingfield as we checked out all the bikes on show. Continue reading “Ride Out Route – Essex Loop” »

Honda CBF500 Air Filter Change (2003-2008)

Standard service time and one of the key items to sort out is the air filter. The Haynes manual recommends this is replaced every 12000 miles or every 18 months. This is a really simply and quick item to change on the Honda CBF500, anyone can do it. Here I’ll give you a quick step by step guide on this task.

First, you need to remove the pillion and main seats. The main seat has a pair of 10mm bolts at its rear which can be accessed once the pillion seat has been removed. You then need to prise off the left hand side panel, this has two push fittings (highlighted in red below) in rubber gaskets and pops off with a firm pull.

Removal of side panel

Continue reading “Honda CBF500 Air Filter Change (2003-2008)” »

Pre-Ride Checks – POWDERS

Before you jump on your bike it’s highly recommended you run through a few pre-ride checks to ensure your bike’s in good condition and won’t leave you in trouble. t’s advised going through these before each ride or at least every few days if you ride daily.

P.O.W.D.E.R.S.

Yep, it’s a funny acronym to help you remember all the stuff you should check. This is one I was taught as part of my IAM training and can be found in the RoadCraft book.
Continue reading “Pre-Ride Checks – POWDERS” »

California Dreaming – Harley Davidson Road King Rental

Back in February I was posted out to California again for a three week work trip, spending time in San Jose and San Diego. During me free weekend I rented a Harley Davidson Road King from EagleRider similar to last September. Not my usual kind of bike, but certainly a good laugh and a great way to explore the Bay area, see the sights and occupy a weekend. Sit back and watch my Californian Harley antics:

Continue reading “California Dreaming – Harley Davidson Road King Rental” »

The Best Off-Road Tracks and Courses in the UK

Owning an off-road vehicle is all well and good, but even if you have your own space on a muddy field to practice on, it’s unlikely to provide the high-octane thrills you’re seeking. Whether you’re into quad bikes, 4x4s, motocross (MX) or all of the above, driving an off-road vehicle presents a whole different challenge to their on-road counterparts. For an all-terrain rider there will be thrills, skills and the need for a different approach to safety.

You may think the UK is limited when it comes to spaces to have the perfect off-road experience, but you’d be surprised! We’ve compiled the top places from around Great Britain to get your wheels muddy, as well as some safety tips, for whichever type of off-roader you’re into. Continue reading “The Best Off-Road Tracks and Courses in the UK” »

BMW Drivers

BMW don’t have a great reputation. I’m sure they’re not all that bad, but it does seem like an awful lot are pretty bad. Here’s a Beemer driver I spotted last year, though this one got his comeuppance – enjoy!

How to Replace a Clutch Lever (Honda CBF 500)

We’ve all a dropped a bike or few, so easily done when new,
Your joy laying on it’s side, gone is all your pride,
Clutch lever broken in the fall, repeatedly you now stall,
Such a cheap repair, why did you not pack a spare?

A snapped lever is so common after an embarrassing drop of your bike. But fear not, replacing a clutch lever is a such a simply and quick job, that anyone can do it. No need to pay for garage labour, let me show you how to replace it in 5 mins with just a spanner and screwdriver. This is on a Honda CBF500, but many other bikes will be near identical.

It’s also a good plan to order a couple of replacements (these non-genuine levers were only £6.50 from M&P), so you can stow one under your seat in case you find yourself inconveniently stuck.

Note: this guide is for traditional cable clutches and not a hydraulic clutch.

Trials and tribulations of a motorcycle newbie in London