If you’ve never heard of DirtQuake before – Oh boy, you have been missing out! DirtQuake is essentially flat track oval dirt racing, but with a big slab of tongue in cheek fun and open entry to any crazy enough. This year’s event was hosted at the Essex Arena, a stone throw from Lakeside retail hell and M25 traffic hell, but dead handy for us all London folk. The Essex Arena normally hosts all kinds of Speedway and banger racing, so was perfect for DirtQuake.
Racing was split into a number of classes:
Inappropriate Road Bike
DTRA Super Hooligans
The last DTRA class were all experienced pros, with serious skills, serious bikes (mainly Indian FTR’s and Ducati Scrambler 1100’s) and were extremely rapid. In contrast, the first five classes had a random mixed bag of contenders from novices to celebs like Guy Martin and Jenny Tinmouth, and many in fancy dress to boot! They featured an even more eclectic collection of bikes, from brand new Husqvarna Vitpilen and Ducati Scramblers, stripped down sports bikes (an R1), random street bikes, the odd adventure bike (a Super Ténéré), right through to classics like a RD350 and a Vincent Rapide! Continue reading “DirtQuake 2018 at Essex Arena” »
Last weekend I popped by Llangollen Motorcycle Festival up in North Wales. Having not attended before and staying with family nearby, it seemed like a good day out plan. Situated on the Royal International Pavilion ground in Llangollen (pronounced Lan-gof-len), a short walk from the town centre, the event saw thousands of bikers descend to check out bikes and attractions on show.
In the pavilion there were hundreds of classic and famous bikes on show, from famous race bikes to old Brit bikes from times past. Celebs John McGuinness, John Reynolds and Steve Platter gave talks and Q&A sessions, with some interesting opinions from McGuinness with regards to Honda! Outside, there were many stalls to pick Motorcycle gear, new bikes to check out from Triumph, Indian and Suzuki – who were offering test rides for visitors. It was interesting to see the new Triumph Street Triple R low in the flesh – very few seem to be available at dealers for test rides. Something Mary and other shorter female friends are tempted by; my daughter at 5′ tall could pretty much flat foot on it. Continue reading “Llangollen Motorcycle Festival 2018 Report” »
I wanted to try something a bit different which I could fling around the bends without grinding foot boards
June saw me back in California for another two week work trip in Silicon Valley, and again stuck out there over the weekend with nowt to do – what a drag. The last couple of trips I had rented a Harley Davidson’s, Dyna 103 Low Rider and a Road King, so this time I wanted to try something a bit different which I could fling around the bends without grinding foot boards. This is when I found Dubbelju (pronounced double-you), who are also based in the Mission district of San Francisco, but offer a much wider selection of bikes, from adventure and touring to custom, cafe racers and street bikes. Read on for the full low down on my bike rental in San Francisco.
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.
This month I was posted to San Jose for work, but unlike most work trips this one included a stay over the weekend. So, stuck on my tod in California I decided to hire a Harley to explore the area as it’s not often you get chance to cruise down the West Coast freeways on a big hog, definitely on many bikers bucket lists and too good a chance to miss. I hired my bike from EagleRider in San Francisco, who had a wide selection of Harley’s to choose from (but also have others). I initially booked a Sportster 1200, but due to unavailability was given a Dyna Low Rider 103 as an upgrade – nice one!
This week I picked up this CBF500 bargain for my wife. For sometime now, she’s been hankering for a bike, something simply and low to get back into biking properly after nearly 15 years. A while ago we tried an old Kawasaki ZZR400 but it just wasn’t a good fit for Mary – too wide, too heavy, too tall and too much of stretch to the bars. She just wasn’t comfortable or confident on it, so it didn’t stay long.
A while ago, Mary had a great back-to-biking session at the local training centre 1 Stop Instruction on a lowered CBF500, hence we opted for this bargain. It’s definitely a commuter hack, certainly not pristine, but it’s mechanically sound and should be ideal to regain confidence. It’s a 2006 model, with 44K on clock. Engine is good, forks seals recently done, tyres 1 year old, chain/sprocket have plenty of life, wheel and head race bearing seem goo, no holes in downpipes and it came 6 months MOT left. It’s been down a couple of times, with some minor dents to tank and crack in front fender, but still a bargain at £900.
Back home after tiring day walking around the London MCN Show down at the Excel centre. Pretty local, so seemed a good plan, however in hindsight it’s debatable if taking the two kids was also a good plan. Much moaning, whining, squabbling and numerous toilet stops later, we’re feeling pretty damned drained!
The MCN show is not huge, certainly not a patch on the Brum show at the NEC, but still visited by all the main manufacturers; Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, KTM, BMW, Ducati, Harley, Victory, Moto Guzzi. There was also an Ariel stand, some Lexmoto and Peugeot scoots on show too. No Royal Enfield’s this year though. No brand spanking new releases unveiled, but it did give me chance to check out first hand the new Yamaha R1 and Tracer, the Kwak H2 (No H2R on display though).
What on earth is going on? After being totally obliterated in the ’70s by a wave of imported Japanese bikes, the British motorbike manufacturing industry seems to be making a bit of a come back. We’ve all seen Triumph return to great success, but now many more British brands are hitting the market with brand new bikes that look pretty damned good. Continue reading “The Big British Motorcycle Renaissance” »
At the weekend the Bike Shed MC were hosting their annual show down in Tobacco Dock, East London, having outgrown their usual Shoreditch haunt. The event was a huge showcase of the best custom bikes, cafe racers, cruisers, bobbers and other random hand built two wheel mayhem. The weather was lovely, but unfortunately this was a family outing, so the bike remained at home. But that didn’t stop hundreds of other bikers descending and enjoying the chilled out atmosphere. But I couldn’t help wondering if I’d fit in better with a well trimmed beard, waxed moustache and a full sleeve tattoo. A peculiar blend of ’50s rockabilly and Chap was very much in vogue.
I couldn’t help wondering if I’d fit in better with a well trimmed beard and waxed moustache…
It was good to check out all the funky bikes, even if I’d be hesitant to take any out on the streets of London myself, style over substance seemed to pervade in many instances. Knobbly tyres and Hessian wrapped pipes are definitely this seasons look. Front mudguards are optional and the more belts on show the better.
Hope you like the snaps of all the best bikes we saw. The kids pinched my camera for most of the show as they were getting a bit bored, so please excuse the odd framing or any not quite in focus. They were pissed they couldn’t sit on all the bikes like at the last show we went to!