At the weekend I popped by the Classic Dirt Bike Show up in Telford. Being in the area with family and having not checked it out before, it seemed too good to miss. Admittedly I’m no off road dirt biker, but some green lane and trail riding has always been on my list of stuff to try. So with kids in toe we rocked up to ponder all these curious bikes with knobbles.
If you live or commute into London, you will undoubtedly have heard about a raft of emission charges, toxicity charges or Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charges being bandied about to tackle pollution. With so many charges, consultations and plans afoot it’s tough to get a grip of what the hell is actually coming into effect and how it’ll affect you and your bike.
Pollution is pretty bad in London, but motorcycles should definitely be considered as part of the solution. Bikes rarely, if ever sit still in traffic jams and have much shorter journey times and thus pollute less. Recent TFL consultations even concluded bikes contribute less than 1% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. So read on to learn how to avoid the charges and keep biking.
Earlier this month I popped along to the IAM’s 60th birthday bash up at the Nation Motorcycle Museum in Solihull (near Birmingham), being a member of IAM it seemed daft not to. Especially as they had guest talks from Steve Plater, Peter Hickman and Mick Grant and a chance to check out all the classic bikes in the museum.
I rode up with another from my local ELAM (East London Advanced Motorcyclists), avoiding the M1/M6 by taking the old A5. On arrival, of course we had to check out everyone else’s bike, including the parade of bikes from every year of the last 60. Next we hurried into the main hall to listen to Steve Plater, Peter Hickman Mick Grant discussing BSB, the TT and how bike racing has changed over the years.
Apologies it’s been a bit slow around here, been suffering from some broadband issues which have hindered updates and have been off the bike away with family for the Christmas/New Year period.
Progress lowering Mary’s CBF500 has been good, but slow. Rear shock refurbished, shortened and refitted, front forks dropped, low seat sourced (NOS genuine Honda one found!) and dropped the bike off at a local workshop to shorten side stand today. Along the way, I hit some issues with the wiring loom full of water and a joint corroded away, requiring some patching up. 🙁 Watch this space for a full low down on lowering the CBF500.
Plenty of new accessories have been purchased ready to fit the CBF500 though: Givi rack, Acerbis handguards, rear hugger and crash bars. Also picked up a better-looking front fender and fuel tank cheap to replace the current ones with a little cosmetic damage. Almost all bits have been sourced cheap second hand, some needing a lick of paint to tart up, definitely going to be a commuters hack / rat bike!
Overall, progress has been slow due to no garage and crappy weather, allowing me to only spend a few hours working on the bike at weekends. Nevertheless, Mary should be commuting into the city on the bike later this month, fingers crossed.
Mary also treated me to a Drift Stealth 2 camera, definitely better than my old Roadhawk Ride. So I hope to get around to some new videos published later this year.
It was a Bank Holiday weekend, so as per tradition it pissed down. Not that rain could stop the Essex Motorcycle show, over at North Weald airfield.
Being local and free I dragged the family over (albeit in the car), to see what the fuss was about having not visited in previous years. It was a small, local show setup outdoors with various aeronautical gubbins as a backdrop. Stands were mostly a mix of local dealers (promoting KTM, Suzuki, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson), local advanced riding groups, training schools and the emergency services. Not a huge amount, but still worth an hours mooch, especially as it was free. Oh yes, did I mention it was completely free to get in?!
If you’re near Oswestry on the A5 on the last Friday of the month, then check out the British Ironworks Centre. They’re offering free coffee and biscuits for bikers who pop in, perfect for that ride back from the Horseshoe Pas.
When: Last Friday of the month. Open 9am – 9pm.
This last few weeks have been busy, but unfortunately rather mundane. A running theme of work, juggling kids, gloomy weather and being skint haven’t made for much excitement. Commuting through the winter is not a fun ride, but at least we’re starting to gain more light in the evenings now. Glad I went for the super bright Fluro helmet now. I am however getting more and more pissed off at idiot using mobiles whilst driving. See shot from my helmet cam, this idiot was even stupid enough to opt for a super bright blue mobile that can be seen miles away! With the Met Police currently running their RoadSafe website to pass on info, it’d be rude not to do something with all the juicy film footage I collect daily.
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).
And there we have it, another new year and a year older, possibly a little wiser too. The tail end of 2014 was insanely hectic for me with my day job sending me out to Gothenburg and Boston, followed by a mad Christmas break visiting all our family in Shropshire and North Wales. It has been good to be back in London and back on the bike. It’s funny how some time away from two wheels leaves you hankering and longing, but once riding again at first you feel awkward, slightly nervous and rusty. It’s taken a couple of days to relax and get reacclimatised, but it’s good to be back.
I suppose I should have some New Year resolutions and plans, so here we go:
- Do my IAM. My lovely wife treated me to their Skills For Life course (starting Sunday), which I’m looking forward to and hope to complete this year.
- Update my YouTube channel. Life has been so busy lately, I’ve done little video editing, however I have some plans for a new video series in the pipeline.
- Bike maintenance wise, I hope to give the Fazer’s forks a good service and swap on some braided brake lines. I also have some yellow wrap for the headlights which I’d like to try out for the dark nights.
- Fingers crossed, I’d like to resolve my incident from September 2013, which is due to go to court at some point.
- Lastly, it would be great to get my wife another bike. Hopefully she’ll complete her PhD and get a job, so finances can resolve this.
Happy New Year to you all – ride safe!