Things have been a bit quiet here at Beginner Biker Adventures, lots of non-biking things going on that haven’t left me with much time, to be honest. Sometimes it is not all fun on the bikes. This blog is only a hobby and far from a full-time venture. So here is a quick catchup, just to fill you in on the random other stuff I’ve been up to recently.
Last year I reviewed the Shapeheart mobile phone case for motorcycles, it was a good budget offering but had a few niggles I was less fond of. This year the good chaps at Shapeheart took heed of this critique and have released a new and improved version for 2022, which they were kind enough to send in for me to review. Let’s take a closer look at this new model and see how it compares.
Shapeheart is a small firm from France, kicked off by two clever entrepreneurs who started out making arm mounts for runners and then later branched out into solutions for cyclists, scooters and motorcycles.
Check out this new video or a chilled-out Lake Tahoe motorcycle ride as part of my past motorcycle trip to Yosemite. Located on the California/Nevada border and a great excursion for a San Francisco motorcycle route. I rode a Yamaha Super Ténéré XT1200ZE picked up from Eagle Rider, San Francisco motorcycle rental, a great dual sport bike for this adventure.
The route took in some breathtaking scenery alongside this beautiful lake. I also review the Yamaha Super Ten after three days of riding and give you my verdict.
I actually filmed this Lake Tahoe motorcycle ride back in late 2019 just before the pandemic, I just haven’t had the chance to finish editing it until now. Sadly, much of the area was hit badly by forest fires since I was there, and there is a worrying trend of fires getting worse with each season.
More details about the trip, my plan and the route can be found here.
How time flies when you’re having fun!
I can’t believe it was 10 years ago when I embarked on my motorcycling adventure. Back then, I was fed up commuting into London on the tube, so I took my wife’s advice (yep, she’s always right!) and learnt to ride a motorbike.
Life has changed dramatically since then, I well and truly converted, now a die-hard biker. For many years I commuted into central London, toured in far-flung locations, went on track days, and did a spot of off-road riding, and throughout I was always looking to better my riding skills with further training. I’ve also made so many great friends within the biking community, it really is just one big family.
Mary got herself back on two wheels after a few years’ break allowing us to share our biking interest and enjoy some fun times together. The kids grew up fast, also joined us on the bikes and are now contemplating their first motorbikes. Guess that’s what happens when you start ‘um young!
16 years old is the first big milestone towards adulthood, with many things you can (legally) do at this age: leave home, join the army, apply for an adult passport, have sex, get married, register to vote and so on. But crucially, 16 is when you can legally start to ride a motorcycle on the road. You can only ride a small 50cc moped and it may be your first set of wheels to get around, but what is involved, what does it cost and is it really worth getting a 50cc motorbike at 16?
What can you ride at 16?
In the UK at age 16, you can legally ride a 50cc moped with a top speed of 45km/h (30mph). OK, certainly no speed daemon, but it’ll get you around faster than a push bike and will have more street cred.
The most common 50cc bike will be a twist’n’go scooter with automatic gears. However, there are a number of traditional geared 50cc motorbikes available, ranging from basic commuter bikes to retro classics, dirt bikes to race replicas. Basic Chinese bikes start at around £1k, with prices going up to about £4k for posher Italian models from the likes of Aprilia.
Random encounters when out riding in Scotland are quite different to what I used to encounter in London. Check out this short video of some of my recent daily observations from riding around Scotland.
Have you bumped into anything wild on your riding adventures, do comment below, I’d love to hear more.
At some point, we bikers really need to discuss the big elephant in the room – burning petrol, no matter how much fun it is, causes some serious problems.
Recycling dinosaurs doesn’t half feel good!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy revving the tits off my motorbike as much as the rest of you, hooning it through the twisties, revelling in the sound, vibration and smell it makes. Recycling dinosaurs doesn’t half feel good! But we really need to face up to the fact that burning petrol is not without consequences. I don’t want to go all Greta Thunberg on you, but we can’t live in denial and we should face up to some home truths.
What’s happened to me?!
When I first learnt to ride almost 10 years ago, it was primarily driven by the need to commute to London in a more efficient way. I needed to get to work and back faster and cheaper than train, tube and bus. Too many changes, too much walking to/from stations and tight childcare drop off/pick up deadlines simply meant public transport was no longer working for me.
London biking wasn’t necessarily enjoyable, but infinitely preferable to public transport
Over the years that followed, I became a hardened London biker, commuting in all weathers, all year round, carving my way through the traffic, idiotic drivers, suicidal cyclists and oblivious pedestrians. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as enjoyable, but it was infinitely preferable to public transport and it certainly kept one alert and on the ball. Though, London weather was rarely ever too bad to contemplate riding in.
Like many, the COVID pandemic changed everything. The office commute stopped just like that and working from home became the new norm. My employer reducing office space, introducing flexible days and new hotdesking plans meant that even when lockdown restrictions eased, I was still only commuting into London just once or twice a week. The change of pace, and the additional time freed up in the day all added up to a better quality of life and something I was keen to take advantage of permanently and somewhere outside of East London suburbs. If you can work anywhere, you may as well work somewhere nice.
If you can work anywhere, you may as well work somewhere nice
Fast forward to today, I’m working from my dedicated home office in beautiful Scotland and only pop back down to the London office for a couple of days every couple of months via train. It’s 5.5hrs train vs ~9hrs on bike and tickets are a similar price to the petrol! This is all great, but the amount of biking I’m doing has dropped considerably. No more motorcycle commuting, just fun blasts through the Scottish mountains on free weekends when the weather is decent. A leisure ride in Scotland in torrential rain or snow is not something you want to do out of choice…
Yep, I’ve become that stereotype I used to mock, I’ve turned into a fair weather biker and a weekend warrior. Uh-oh!
A family tour on bikes to Scotland, what could possibly go wrong?! With the British weather not on our side, it certainly was going to be a trip to remember. Check out this part 1 video of our journey North from London to Scotland via the Peak District, Yorkshire and the Pennines.
Been sitting on this footage for a while, but with so much other stuff going on recently, I’ve now finally got this first part edited. Hope you enjoy it.
What is worse than riding your bike and feeling the telltale slide, the moment when your trousers slide down, your jacket rides up and your arse is left glinting like the moon above some clouds? The cool rush of air as you are riding along, just coming up to a lovely sweeping bend and you find yourself distracted trying to pull your trousers up and your jacket down. And now it has started raining too, great!
There are many solutions available on the market; braces that one attaches to the offending trousers, bib and brace leathers and winter textiles with a similar arrangement. Many of these lack the comfort of stretchy textiles for lighter and warmer weather. Biker braces, on the whole, tend to be made for tall men and not for short women, leading to painful chafing on the neck rubbing one raw where the metal adjustment clasp inevitably ends up. There are zip together two-piece suits, but unless you’re that ideal size for women’s motorcycle clothing, it can be tricky to find a matching top and bottom pair that fits well. One answer which is designed especially for women is the Motogirl Dungri’s (yes, that’s Dungri’s and not dungarees!)