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Author Archives: Don

Honda X-ADV 750 Wild in the Country

Here she is in black n white —
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Showing a few scars from a slight mishap when she tumbled over by the petrol pumps t’other day.

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The paint on the plastics is no thickness at all but the stainless steel protection over the can did it’s job and the exhaust emerged unscathed.

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Which is more than I can say for the barkbuster type handguards that the bold scoot came with – supposedly borrowed from the Africa Twin. They shattered on hitting the hard pave’ when the thing toppled over. The ones I have put in their place have been on my various off-road bikes over the past thirty years and have been well tested along the way..

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As for the fore n aft pics – I’ve had them right-way-up countless times but she is determined to go for the horizontal pose in the end. Probably as easy to explain as having filled the tank and paid for my fuel I emerged from the shop to find Betsy laid horizontal in real life – I hope she isn’t going to make a habit of it.

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2019 in out and about

 

From Deer to Donkeys

Just a few of our visitors today.

First we had a gorgeous doe —

and her mate wasn’t far behind —

Then we had a couple of donkeys inspecting a tangle of fence wire —

The grey reminds me of ‘Patch’ – who made a habit of dragging my ten years old son through the thorn bushes when we lived near Gusau while on a road-building contract in North-West State- Nigeria.

The black donkey remains aloof –

as he studies the road out —

before the sun goes down —

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2019 in out and about

 

Crystal Waters Running Deep

With another dry spell coming to an end Loki and I took a turn round by Toberonochy moorings for a look-see. Nothing new apart from a stack of lobster or perhaps langoistine kreels judging by their lighter weight than usual.

We have seen the old wooden hull on the far shore so often but it was only when we walked round the black gravel beach that we realised the hulk had a name.

Crystal Waters —

Running not very deep on this occasion —

Well – you have been warned —

The for’ard winches haven’t seen oil or grease for many years —

and to venture below decks isn’t for the faint-hearted

and this is as close as I’m gonna get unless I’m going ‘down the hatch’ —

Clear Waters right enough – but hardly enough to float her.

It’s not for the first time I’ve said in these posts – ‘if only boats could talk’ for I’m sure they would have many an interesting tale to tell. I believe this one earned it’s corn on the North Sea before being stripped of her gear and towed round the north of Scotland where she has been put into retirement.

Or – like Loki is she just patiently waiting? I for one have a kernel of an idea involving the old hull that I would love to see turned into a mighty oak and be of use to us all. Such a shame that I have been telling myself for the past twelve or thirteen years that I am retired now —

What do you think Loki?

OK Loki – that look say’s it all – I promise I will stay retired.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2019 in out and about

 

Mitsubishi L200 Pickup – an oilburner for a logburner

It’s leaning towards the end of October – time to wind the clocks back so let’s wind ’em all the way back to 2005 when I lived in my ancient converted bakery/millhouse on the Welsh border.

As ever with these old cottages ‘improvements’ never stop and any man worth his salt in the DIY biznez would have a pickup truck and a chainsaw.

There’s not much room in that little house once you allow for the walls being a metre thick but having built up that door and installed patio doors in place of the window I managed to squeeze my new logburner into the corner where the door had been. Got that?

I certainly did and earned myself a short stay in hospital when my ambition was to prove more than my body could take. Sandstone blocks are heavy things and it didn’t help that when I broke the wall out under the window I found a sandstone lined culvert which had been the outfall for the watercourse used to drive the original millwheel.

Surprise – surprise! Dry now – it had run all the way under the house from front to back till it would merge with the stream at the bottom of the garden which eventually joined the River Severn a couple of miles or so downstream..

No worries – bodies repair themselves and with the hard work done it was off over the border into Wales to where the ash trees were going cheap – if you cut and hauled them home by yersel.

That was when my L200 came into it’s own.

She was a proper workhorse —

She carted everything from bikes to building materials and logs to name but a few.

and no – I didn’t cut my leg off – at least not on that occasion. The 17 stitches I have in my right thigh muscle are from a mishap while building a coffee table for my first house down in Nottingham in the late sixties.

Decking laid —

tool shed and logshed built —

The tough L200 earned it’s place in my heart —

as I became proficient with the chainsaw and the logpile grew.

Even Midge was impressed no end —

especially when winter arrived.

Magic!

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2019 in out and about

 

Honda CRF250 Rally Plays Chicken!

Weighing up my options —

‘Looks like a job for a boat —‘

Chicken!

Tuk Tuk – c’mon out chook!

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2019 in out and about

 

Honda X-ADV 750 – Shafted!

There are several things about my 2019 ADV 750 that suggest it might have been designed by the son of the creator of my 1995 ST1100 Pan European. Most noticeably is the weight of the ADV which at about 240 kgs isn’t so far behind the heavyweight Pan. At least my old Pan has shaft-drive and if a bike should have had a modern shaft it’s the new for 2017 X-ADV 750.

But to quote Shakespeare’s MacBeth when debating how to murder King Duncan and was handed a dagger – ‘What is this I see before me?’

It’s a bloody chain! Tucked so far out of sight that she is a devil to lubricate! Mr. Honda with a little bit of will and ingenuity you could have taken the virtually maintenance free shaft drive from your VRF800 and fitted it here – you know it would have made sense.

Furthermore – is it only your arch-competitors at BMW and KTM who have realised that heavyweight bikes are a thing of the past. Just look at the wheel spindle and nuts on this miniscule but heavy rear wheel you have put into the ADV 750.

There’s a 22mm head on the wheel spindle and a 27mm nut holding it tight in there. I’ve seen lighter fittings holding the wheels on a farm tractor. It’s little wonder that the Tool Kit supplied with the bike doesn’t contain spanners to fit – they would have filled the helmet sized underseat storage compartment on their own!

I could go on – I mean just look at the size of that additional caliper operated by the a cable Hand Brake on the rear disc in addition to the main stopper! Not only is it heavy but it’s slung underneath where it will catch all the dirt and debris as well as being the first thing to clout rocks if the X-ADV is used off-road as your sales literature suggest it can be.

Mr Honda I would like to think when you upgrade the X-ADV 750 in two or five years time that you take a tip from your European competitors. Apply a bit of modern thought and expertise to weight-saving to complement the looks of this lil beauty and you will have a winner.

Unfortunately the world will probably have turned to Electric bikes for the road by then and Honda will still be pouring their R&D budget into shaving a few grammes off the top of the range Fireblade in an attempt to win the Suzuka 8 Hours.

There’s no question that the ADV 750 is a rorty lil roadster with sound effects to match. Top speed is listed at 110mph and as I’m still Running In you will understand when I say we haven’t been there – yet.

Let’s just say that I have reason to believe that 110mph is a fairly conservative estimate and as speeds increase and having no fuel tank between my knees I have a fair idea what it would feel like to Do-the-Ton on a bar stool while hanging on to the bar rail.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2019 in out and about

 

By Yeti for Fir and Fungi

An unusual way to spend a birthday perhaps but a good excuse to be out there in the wild. Our Yeti has five years and 52000 miles under her wheels and all she has needed apart from regular oil/filter changes and tyres has been a coil pack replaced around the 50000 mile mark.

Here by loch and glen is the Birthday Girl herself and already she has found enough colourfull fungi by the roadside to fill her lenses.

For me it’s any excuse to get off the tarmac and head into the forests to forage for more exotica.

A Yeti in a fir tree and a little bonus pops out to play.

Okay – okay – I know – ‘get your mind back on the job’ – there’s fungi by the bucket load up here.

And it can stay there too – the only fungi I feel is safe to eat these days is the stuff that comes in a pack from the supermarket and even with it I have my doubts about the compost it’s grown in.

But I do like my Skoda Yeti – they don’t make them any more so it won’t be easy to replace her when she wears out. Hopefully that day is still sumway off.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Wildlife

 

Toberonochy sur Mer

Toberonochy sur Mer – taking liberties with the name I know but we are still in the European Union at least till the end of the month so let’s givit a shout.

There are two villages on the Isle of Luing – Cullipool on the west coast which – like ourselves here at Bardrishaig – is exposed to all the ‘weather’ you could imagine and Toberonochy on the east which provides a sheltered anchorage.

I had planned to make the most of a sunny afternoon and take a few photos of picturesque Toberonochy which – along with a few other useful things – houses our small cinema in it’s village hall – but – as the bold Rabbie was fond of saying – ‘the best laid plans of mice and men gan aft aglae’ – or sum such like.

On this occasion it was the battery in my phone that gave up the ghost after two pics! We may just have had the last sunny day of the year but with a lump of the Isle of Shuna in the background at least the ADV750 got into shot.

 

Ducati’s in my Life

The first Ducati in my life wasn’t exactly mine – it belonged to my brother Jim who surprised us all by bringing one of these lil beauties home in 1959.

A 200cc Ducati – this one is the Elite but the one Jim had was more akin to the Scrambler.

To be honest my mates and I weren’t exactly impressed. Being steeped as we were in heavyweight British ‘exotica’ such as BSA Rocket Goldstars – Velocettes and Triumph Bonnevilles the tiny Ducati just didn’t cut the mustard in our gang back then.

I had to wait until the late eighties before I had my own Duke – the GT860 bevel drive camshaft model. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it either due to a noisy top-end and soon sold it on. Just in time because I understand it rattled itself to near death in the new owner’s hands pretty soon after he got it home to Arbroath.

Here she is on the roadside by Loch Lubnaig – part of a collection of roads I considered to be my own private race track.

After that ‘near miss’ I managed to steer clear of Ducatis until 1995 when I rashly bought one of these.

Mine was the last of the Corse 888 family and was the full Monty race version! Bored out to the maximum at 926cc – she came with about six sets of bodywork – two race motors and a shed full of lightweight wheels. In fact it was the full package as raced by the late David Jeffries in MCN British Superbikes in 1994.

Things didn’t entirely go to plan after I bought her but such is racing. No worries – I did get one race out of her and that was the Daytona 200 with a young up-and-coming Neil Hodgson aboard. Neil managed a 5th in the Twins race and a creditable 12th in the Daytona 200 itself which was won by Carl Fogarty’s arch-enemy – Scott Russel who managed to kick Neil into the kitty-litter. Youtube is still showing the ’95 Daytona 200 and of course Neil can be seen struggling to get my Duke back on track at the first corner after coming down off the scary 50 degree concrete banking .

I managed to come out of that little flirtation with a beautiful Ducati unscathed too as IRTA – the MotoGP organisers of the day paid all my expenses and I was doubly fortunate that Scania Trucks paid me top dollar when they bought my 888 for one of their sponsored riders. Didn’t do Neil any harm either as he went on to earn a full Works ride with Ducati and actually won the World Superbike Championship a few years later.

As they say in all the best storybooks – ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’.

A-ahhh – almost forgot – there was another Ducati in my life – the white 848\

Here I am trying it for size at the old Grobnik GP circuit near Rijeka – Croatia around 2008 – but that’s another story all of it’s own.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in Isle of Luing, Motorcycling, out and about

 

Sun shines on the X-ADV750

A good thing about having a Maritime climate – weather comes in bursts – one minute it’s raining as if trying to drown you – next it’s sunshine! It does mean you need to be ready for every occasion so a brief burst of sunshine between downpours had me out in the yard with the camera trying to make the most of it.

They say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and this lil beauty works for me. All that was needed was a touch of watery sunlight —

Not for a moment did I think I would go down the Automatic route in motorcycling but that’s what we have here. A dual clutch system means that gears can be selected automatically and she does it quite well. A choice of ‘Drive’ or ‘Sport’ modes alters the rev-band that the gear changes are made at. All I can say is that it does it well .. any momentary lapse can be easily overcome by a finger or thumb brush of the handlebar mounted manual switches giving further control of the up/down gear ratios. Changing down with the thumb or up with the fore-finger becomes second-nature in jig time.

Did I mention the handbrake? There she is on the side of the headlight nacelle – easy to miss but very neccessary. Unlike ‘normal’ geared bikes which can be left in gear to lock the rear wheel when on the sidestand on a downslope such as the waiting ramp for our ferry – this automatic scoot clicks into neutral when switched off.

The handbrake has it’s own caliper hung from the swingarm and acts on the rear disc. I did say it was easy to miss and I confess I have tried to ride off on a couple of occasions with the brake still engaged!

The Honda X-ADV750 is a far cry from the pre-war 1937 Ariel Colt my grandfather sent down to our farm cottage home in the Scottish Border as a first bike for my big brother to ride when I was still at school.

I may have been well under legal age but it wasn’t long before I nicked a ride when bro’ Jim was at work and I was soon wrestling with a three-speed hand operated gearchange fitted up on the side of the petrol tank. There were also inverted handlebar mounted clutch and brake levers plus additional levers for throttle – choke and magneto advance/retard all to be mastered. Riding safely didn’t figure high on that list.

Granpa Wright – little did you know that you had kicked off a love for two wheels that has been with me ever since.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2019 in Honda X-ADV 750, Isle of Luing, Motorcycling