Monthly Archives: May 2015

FJ1100 goes up in the World

frontalMy FJ has taken a back seat of late while I’ve been engrossed with sorting out the evil handling Pan European but thankfully that job is now done and I can spend time on the FJ.

I was probably needing a distraction anyway because the mess I found in my degreasing bay today was a reminder – if I needed it – of just how dirty that FJ1100 had been when I stripped the plastics off.

Yes – she was a mess and ofcourse once I had cleaned the muck off I got an idea of just how much paint was missing too.

No doubt being laid up for several years in an old damp woodshed was partly to blame and Mr Yamaha’s paint department certainly hadn’t taken into account the rigours of Dumfries & Galloway winter.

I remember one of my teacher’s at the Berwickshire High School telling me many years ago that D&G was only good for growing grass for dairy farming as it seldom stopped raining.

How right he was – even after several bouts of ‘climate change’ since then – it can still be a damp part of Scotland.

No worries – the old chicken shed gave me an almost waterproof roof over my head as the flurries of rain passed over today and I got stuck into cleaning up the de-greasing equipment.

A mucky job but I got through it.

The amount of de-greasing and preparation prior to painting the frame and motor had only been part of the downside – scrabbling about on the floor while I bolted the thing together hadn’t been much fun for my wonky knees either.

I got through the mess in the dirty corner then bolted the front wheel into the FJ so that I could move the beast onto the cushioned carpet underlay in the next bay where I hope to carry on with the re-build —

FJ rising

Then I got my scissor lift under her and gave her enough air to make a difference to my poor knees —


She’s currently looking better in the flesh than she does in my deliberately fuzzy photos but I doubt if she will ever look as good as this one. It would cost too much to bring her up to ‘factory fresh and the FJ1100 is never going to command the sort of money in return that would justify the required level of outlay.


At least I’m ready to push on with the rebuild – but only on wet days 🙂


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Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Yamaha FJ1100



Pan at play in Rhinns of Galloway

After studying form on Friday night weather forecast it looked like an early start on Saturday would be the best bet in the sunshine stakes for the weekend.

With a new shock to try out two up on the Pan —


and 30mm risers fitted —

sepia risers

we were in Portpatrick for breakfast —

shiny pan

followed by a sunbathe on the rocks in the bay. We didn’t hang around too long in case I got as rusty as that ol’ bit of ironmongery nailed into the rock —


So we made a quick gettaway and managed to dodge the rain all the way down to sun drenched Mull of Kintyre where we coffee’d up and had a natter about lady riders with the Kawasaki Team from Ardrossan who had decided to dodge the raindrops by coming down by car.


Apart from a ticking off by the restaurant management for chosing the wrong spot to park things were going well with the bike and a heavy hand on the throttle saw us stay ahead of the next big shower all the way up into the back country as we took the long way home 🙂

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Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Uncategorized



Riding a Norton at the TT

Norton RotaryRiding a Norton at the TT?

Oh yes I did – and it wasn’t just any old Norton. It was the first of the new – for the road – rotary Norton F1’s.

I’m pretty sure the year was 1991 and it was just a case of being in the right place at the right time.

I was trundling around on my 600 Honda Revere on ‘open’ roads during practise week at the TT when I found myself behind this black bike being put through it’s paces over the mountain.

The rider followed by a portly gent on a ZZR1100 turned down a side road somewhere up top and parked on a quiet stretch.

You can imagine my surprise when I found that the rider was Chris Dabbs – chief test rider for the MCN and his ‘well built’ partner was James Noble – photograher.

Introductions over – I was dispatched to stop any traffic coming round the next corner while James lay prone on his belly in the middle of the road as Chris rode full bore towards him – swerving to clear this human traffic island at the last minute. Hairy – barely covers it.

Norton Rotary 3

There was another surprise in store for me when Chris told me my reward for helping was to take the F1 for a ride. I didn’t need two tellings! I had seen the disapproving ‘NO’ forming on the photographer’s lips and in two shakes of the lambs tail I was off over the mountain course like a noisy whippet!

Norton Rotary 2

Must admit I wasn’t too impressed with the Norton. Firmly suspended on her bespoke Ohlins she felt light as a 250cc two stroke and revved out to 10500 rpm with no apparent power band – just smooth linear power all the way.

Nowt much wrong with that – but – there was a downside.

I was heading past the Bungalow – over the tram lines and asking for everything she’s got in my best imitation of works rider Trevor Nation as I raced towards that blind fast left at the top when the two plastic screws used by Arai at the time to fix the righthand side of my visor went awol!

I was about blinded by the thing flapping about in the turbulence!


It was the wake up call I needed and I quietly turned her round – ripped off the damaged visor and took the F1 back to Chris where I found that the fixing screws had sheared.

My helmet had been serviced by the Arai team in the paddock the day before so I doubt if the screws sheared due to over-tightning. At the time I put it down to the very intrusive high-frequency vibration from the bike as it went through 9000 rpm – not something that I enjoyed as it rattled my eyeballs. I was beginning to understand why Chris was so pleased to get off the rotary Norton for a few minutes.

Many thanks to Chris and James for a memory to treasure and to Top Speed and Classics for the use of their pics 🙂


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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Uncategorized



Pan gets a Shock

shockYes the old Pan Euro got a shock – and so did the wallet when a new Nitron was ordered and duly arrived Friday morning.

It was a job for the quickfit fitter and soon it was in there – smart as a rat up a drain pipe..

No fiddly setting up required either as it had been specially built for the rider’s weight – plus a wee bit extra – just to be on the safe side.

Even pushing the bike off the centrestand was more of a pleasure. No more squish squish or boing boing – instead the back wheel hit the deck and settled nicely.

I was looking forward to testing her on the road.

Friday night weather forecast was watched anxiously and Saturday looked likely to be the best day but it wasn’t too promising out my bedroom window next morning.

A sneaky peek from behind the curtains saw wet tarmac with the temp just above freezing. Our promised sunshine was still hovering over Northern Ireland.

No worries – by the time chores were done and bike gear on – blue skies had arrived from the west and that was the direction I pointed the big Pan.

Wigtown Martyrs 002

If ever there were roads to test a shock they are to be found in Wigtownshire and that’s the way I was headed. The bike was a pleasure to ride on the twenty five miles of A75 and even more so after turning on to the undulating twisties that run down to Wigtown.

Wigtown Martyrs 001

The little track with grass growing down the centre that leads to the Wigtown Martyrs Memorial above the town is well hidden but I have local knowledge from a previous life and the track is still there.

Wigtown Bay

It was well worth the visit for the views across town to Wigtown Bay and beyond.


Next port of call was to be Port William on the other side of the penninsula but a large herd of Jersey cattle stopped me in my tracks before I reached there.


They are lovely docile animals. The first time I saw Jersey calves as a boy over in Berwickshire I actually thought they were deer. I had no idea cattle could be so delicate and bonnie.

in black

Must have been a hundred or so – but I didn’t stop to count ’em.


Instead I trundled down to Port William and must confess I did manage to ground the centrestand on a nasty bend which had a vicious dip at the apex.

It was the sort of touch down that would have delivered a sphyncter shredding grr-aunch with the tired original shock but today the Nitron kept things in check. The controlled scuff was just a gentle reminder – if it was needed – that the chubby ol’ Pan isn’t exactly a modern sports bike in the handling stakes although – now with the new shock she does give a good account of herself till she runs out of ground clearance.

Wigtown Martyrs 004

We said ‘hello’ to the old boy by the harbour – a big mistake. Once he starts reminiscing you are here for the duration.


His old dog has heard it all before – many times – and just switches off.


I wished I could and went off to show an interest in the signpost that gave directions and distances to all sorts of strange places. Three thousand four hundred and fifty miles to New York for instance.

new york

Well – not strange places if you live in them but not what I expected to find on the shores of Luce Bay.


And what shores they are!

pan bay

Best of all there is an ‘interesting’ road that skirts the shoreline – just don’t look over the wall at the rubbish dumped there. A frustrated owner of an old Dyson vaccum cleaner had spread it’s innards with other litter all over the clifftop heather.

A case of life imitating art – or – perhaps Damien Hirst really did park in this small layby overnight in his motorhome while on his way to the Wigtown Book Festival..

Best to concentrate on the twisties instead – they are magic – especially with the new Nitron shock controlling the rear of the bike as a decent Sports shock should.


I ended up in Portpatrick where I bumped in to an old Busa riding aquaintance with some guys from places north who I have ridden with before. It was nice to catch up and even sketch in vague plans for some future ride – as you do 🙂


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Posted by on May 9, 2015 in Uncategorized