Courses/Tuition Maintenance

A Night at OMC’s Basic Bike Maintenance Course

Last night I finally made it along to the Oval Motorcycle Centre’s (OMC) Basic Maintenance and Inspection Course. Something I’ve been meaning to do for some time, but never got round to it. The course covers all the basics of bike maintenance, starting with electrics (switches/lights), then blitz’s through, tyres, brakes, bearings (wheel, head race & swinging arm), chain, forks/shocks and finally control levers and cables.

Although the course is pitched at complete newbies, it covers an awful lot, such that even though I’ve done quite a few maintenance jobs (changing filters, downpipes, balancing carbs etc) I still came away having learnt much. From stuff as simple as a more efficient way to lube my chain, to stuff completely new to me, like the ins and outs of different head race bearing and spotting when they’re knackered. It was also a great chance to ask questions on simple stuff you’ve seen, but were never sure if it was OK or not, like the way you hear brakes pads catching slightly as you push a bike – are they supposed to do that or are they sticking?!  (They’re supposed to)


Witness to Hit and Run Car Crash

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed a car rear ending another car, all low speed and not too serious. However the one driver just hurled abuse at the other in front then fled the scene. I had their registration number and was more than happy to help out with a witness statement. As such I’ve recently been filling in forms for insurance and the police. Out of curiosity, I just put in the reg plate into the vehicle enquiry page and got this:-


So, now I know why they fled the scene; untaxed, no MOT and undoubtedly no insurance. The poor lady run into was very distraught and the Police would not have been able to trace this driver had I not passed on the registration number. Having had a few incidents myself where no one has stopped, I know first hand how much extra hassle it is without an independent witness. So please, if you do see an incident, no matter how minor, do stop and offer your help. It maybe a bit of form filling, possibly a court appearance, but it can help rid the roads of dodgy drivers. Ultimately, put yourself in their shoes, you never know when you may need a witness yourself.

Such hit and run offences ultimately impact premium prices across the industry, so it’s definitely in everyone’s interest to combat them. See our guide for other tips on lowering insurance premiums.


My First Ride on the Motobike

I was a bit nervous at first but when I started moving, my belly was aching with laughter! I went round the block 5 times (It was really fun!) Once I had to get off I begged Dad to go once again but he said NO. After that me and Dad got an Ice-cream, It was the best day EVER. A week later I went again to brownies and back! When everyone was jealous, then before we went I waved.


Motorbike Pre-Ride Checks (BOLTS)

  1. Brakes:- Roll bike forwards and apply brakes. Checks pads have some wear left, look out for the groove in middle of pads, it should still be visible.
  2. Oil:- Check the oil level is between the min-maximum lines. You will probably need to put bike on centre stand and maybe warm up engine for couple of minutes first (check you manual).
  3. Lights:- Check all lights works and are clean. Hold you hand over rear lights or look for as reflection against a nearby wall as you apply brakes.
  4. Tyres:- Check tread levels, 1mm across 3/4 the tyre width (more in many EU countries) and for any obvious damage. Ensure  tyre pressures are correct too (see manual for exact values).
  5. Steering:- Handles bars should freely move left and right without fouling against anything or being hindered by wires/hoses.

MOT Passed

My trusty Fazer has just been in for an MOT, passed with flying colours, no advisories at all. Always a relief. Even though I knew the bike was sound, there’s still an element of worry that sits at the back of your mind.

Turns out, I’ve put on exactly 7000 miles since last years MOT. Not too shabby, definitely a well used bike, and I’m glad I upped my annual mileage on my last insurance renewal.

Gear Reviews

AGV K4 Helmet Review

AGV-K4-HelmetAfter recently picking up a new helmet, it dawned on me I hadn’t posted any review of my current helmet, an AGV K4. So here we go. Of course I don’t have the expertise to give this helmet a proper safety test, so I’m merely going to cover how it performed day to day, with regards to comfort, noise and durability. To gauge safety, I always  check the SHARP rating, for which the K4 scored 4 stars (out of 5).


New Lid – Bell Helmets M3R

BellHelmet-M3RIt recently came to my attention Amazon were offering some huge discounts on Bell Helmets. I wouldn’t normally purchase a lid without first trying it on for size, but the prices were so good it was worth taking a risk and distance sales law means returning for a full refund is always an option.

I went for the M3R, which was down from around £200 to £53. Not bad at all. However Amazon have been charging VAT on these helmets, even though they should be 0% rated being safety equipment (Amazon’s own help pages also stipulate this). After contacting them, I’ve been informed they are looking into this and should get a refund of £9 VAT, making this lid even cheaper!

Well, the helmet arrived today, all in good nick and the fit is pretty damned good, although I am an XS according to Bell’s sizing chart!  I’ve not worn it out yet to compare for noise, but first impressions are good, it seems snug and comfy, either way £43 isn’t bad for a 5 star Sharp rated helmet.


Fazer Evening Ride For Chippie Tea

It was a lovely sunny summer evening, I Managed to blag leaving work earlier, a night free from kids and my Fazer had a full tank of fuel. I really fancied a chippie tea and the Fazer Owner Club – Unofficial  were riding into the far reaches of Kent. Like planets falling into alignment, everything was all set. I left central London, down A2 via Blackheath and on to Nell’s Cafe in Gravesend for the rendezvous, where I had a good natter to some of the Kent branch of the IAM (really must do that some day soon). A quick blast down the M2 took us deep into Kent, where top chap Steve led us along some nice twisty country roads before stopping off in Herne Bay for our chippie tea. Not the cheapest Fish’n’Chips, but a decent one it was, and great to sit by the sea eating whilst the sun slowly came down.


Once sated, onwards we rode along some great minor roads and twisty country byways skirting Canterbury and Dover, before finally calling it a day when we had exhausted all daylight.

Big thanks to Steve for leading this ride.


Enforcement of Advanced Stop Lines (ASL)

ASL-EnforcementIf you’ve ridden a bike in London in the last year, you are probably more than aware that Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) are now being enforced and any motor vehicles crossing them after lights have turned red will pick up a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice). This is still very much the case, with almost every junction on Mile End Road being policed today, although no one broke the rules on this occasion.

Although MAG have been campaigning for some time, motorcycle are not allowed to cross the first solid white line and enter the blue cycle box. This is a real shame as it can often lead to bikers stuck beside other vehicles, often not visible (especially if beside a truck or coach) and then unable to get away safely from the traffic as light turn green, due to the throng of cyclists in front. I honestly think the situation needs rethinking to allow cyclists and motorbikes to share the area in from of the ASL, where they are both visible and can safely pull away. Possibly with left reserved for cyclists, the right for motorcyclists. Both groups of cyclists have been sharing bus lanes (with buses and taxis) without issue for a number of years now.

If you also believe pedal and motor cyclists should be able to wait beyond the ASL, you may like to sign this petition on the UK Gov website.


I have since discovered that a split bicycle/motorbike advanced stop line box is currently on trial over near Stratford, London.BicycleAndMotorcycleASL

Check it out in more detail on Google Maps here. Note the feeder lanes each side, cyclists on left, bikers on right.