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Category Archives: Isle of Luing

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

 

Honda X-ADV 750

The new Scoot on our block.

She may look a bit like an electric milk float from head on – but – those angry-eye type headlights tell a different story.

Underneath the plastic she is all motorbike – until you get to the rear wheel which for sum sad reason is a 15 incher! The ADV is generally based on Honda’s NC750 motorcycle which also carries it’s fuel under the seat and what looks like a fuel tank twixt rider’s knees is in fact a luggage compartment. The swingarm has been lengthened on the ADV in comparison and coupled with the smallish diameter rear wheel thus allows for provision of a reasonable sized luggage compartment under the seat without restricting suspension travel.

To be honest I don’t even think about the size of the rear wheel when I’m riding – until of course it’s diminutive diameter exaggerates the surface ripples and minor potholes that a bigger diameter wheel would ride over. For the un-initiated a roadgoing motorcycle rear tyre is usually 17 inch and experienced off-roaders will have an 18 inch dia wheel in there wherever possible..

But that is the only ‘scooter’ type aspect of the bike – the way she spins up on the gravel in the yard and picks her way up our rough old farm track that is more suited to the local farmer’s four-wheel drive tractors is a revelation!

I did have my concerns about the amount of electrics at play with this machine – that dash for instance can do everything except cook my breakfast but then I can be quite fussy when it comes to the main meal of the day.

My morning ride into Oban for coffee and newspaper was carried out in torrential – and I mean TORRENTIAL rain showers and she never missed a beat. Looks like Mr Honda has got things right in that department.

Despite flooded roads I was a few minutes early for the ferry on my return leg – this lil scoot can be deceptive over a distance and what feels like a steady ride tells a different story on the clock. Yes she covers the ground without fuss much quicker than expected.

While the bike was getting most of my attention on the ramp it was a different story once aboard the good ship Belnahua on the crossing. The Cuan Sound appeared to be full of dolphins with two separate schools making their way through! It was quite a sight but the rain ensured my phone/camera stayed safely in the dry in my ‘man-bag’ under the seat.

So the morning two-hour dry spell promised by the weather forecasters didn’t happen – but – I’m not made of sugar and didn’t melt in the wet.

If I had been really worried about getting wet I would have taken a tip from our Seamus and spent the morning curled up on the couch in the dry.

 

Loki in the eye of the storm

Does he look bothered?

Not a bit of it – he’s fast asleep with his eyes open as usual. C’mon Loki – I know it’s blowing a hoolie but let’s nip down to the coast between showers and check out the surf.

Not bad – from up here anyway.

Let’s get a bit closer —

Considering the wind is gusting to 50mph the sea doesn’t look bad at all. Time for a wee ramble before those wild showers come back.

LOKI! – WAKE UP!

OK – I’m sorry – you were just guarding my walking stick.

‘C’mon Dad – try to keep up!’

‘There’s a storm blowing in from Colonsay and that guy over on Easdale told us before we moved here that the gales howl non-stop all the way from Brazil!’

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks

 

Don’t fence me in

With two days to go before Loki’s first birthday it’s only a matter of time before our big boy get’s a whiff of a bitch or even a visiting roe deer and takes off for places he is not supposed to go.

The flapping Tibetan flags do little to dissuade dogs or deer from roaming and with Loki growing by the day it’s time to increase the height of the boundary walls and fences around our patch as seen here from our perch on Rowan Hill —

His two room kennel with small open run is tucked away behind the shed on the far left where we can watch one another through the kitchen door. He has a reasonably sheltered spot for windswept Bardrishaig which is what I thought I had chosen for our ‘Instant Garage’ boat shed.

More fool me! We had little warning of the gales to come but I should have known as it is March after all and had spent a few hours yesterday putting extra pegs and anchors at strategic places around our tent.

They must have helped – but not enough. At midnight I wakened to the crack of flapping canvas outside the bedroom window and a quick look from above showed that the downwind end of the tent had blown out and was vigorously flapping and cracking in the 60+mph gale. There was nothing else for it but to pull on some rough weather gear – grab my big torch and get on out there.

It took me two and a half hours of scrabbling around in the semi-darkness with gusts that threatened to have me off my feet at times – but a quick shufty this morning showed I had been successful and had managed to anchor the tent to the boat in quite a few places in addition to the cross-braces ties I had secured across either end.

The 20×12 tent has obviously taken a hammering but she is still there. A ‘hammering’ is what I almost got from the wee wifie when I woke her with a cup of tea at 2.30 this morning and told her where I’d been for the previous two and a half hours.

‘Foolhardy’ is a polite way of interpreting her views on the subject but at least our visions of the boat sailing across the island suspended from a tent shaped kite came to nout and everything remains safely anchored in our backyard till the next Big Blow.

 
 

Life in the Old Dog yet

Last year might never have happened. I put my blog on the shelf and it feels as if I virtually hibernated. Oh I know I must have done something useful but not a lot. So much inaction must be bad for the body – it culminated in my being lifted by helicopter from the island where I live just a couple of days after Christmas 2018 and whisked off to hospital in the middle of the night.

We didn’t even get our boat in the water last ‘summer’ – having rashly stripped the paint and varnish from her during an early spell of sunshine. Unfortunately this was followed by a never-ending wet season – leaving nothing else for it but to put the boat cover back on and pray for another dry spell so we could splash a bit of fresh paint and varnish on her. We had no such luck and she lay forlorn in our backyard all through the winter too.

With my 77th birthday fast approaching next month I reckon I can’t afford to miss out on another year so things called for drastic action. The old boy’s long suffering wallet had to be prised open and that ‘grassed’ area of the backyard is now home to one of those —

No – not only the horsebox but a 20ftx12ft shelter – or ‘Instant Garage’ as the marketing blurb called it.

Best bit of all was that I erected the shelter – pegged her safely down onto 8×4 timbers and had our boat under cover all by myself in about ten hours flat. The ground there gets rather boggy in the winter so having found a source for cheap pallets she is now sporting a full wooden floor. After the boat is done I can get up to all sorts of mischief in there but I best not get too comfortable or the boat might not make it to the water this year either.

No worries – there’s obviously Life in the Old Dog yet.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2019 in boats, Isle of Luing, out and about

 

Suzuki V-strom 650XT for yamahista

Javier I know you have a banana coloured 650XT now but all I can make from that little bit of info is that they don’t sell the Bonnie Black XT in Spain.

I had our purty black Strom out yesterday for a jaunt across the island to Toberonochy – yes that’s the sweetly named village on the eastern shores of the Isle of Luing – so I popped a pic for you and here she is —

OK – I know it isn’t Barcelona but I managed to fit in a couple of little boats and a bit of seawater for you.

The first third of 2019 promises to be very busy as Helen has a family visit to Japan planned for March and there are various other things like a new knee for me and (at the risk of upsetting the squeamish) removal of knackers for Loki to be fitted in.

No doubt the new knee will require training to ride a bike and Loki will also take time to adjust to his new station in life but Helen and I are hoping to put a few thousand more miles on the Strom this year so who knows —–

It could be a case of ‘catch you on the road sometime’ —

Whatever happened to Shortie? We have lost touch completely! But this pic was taken back in 2002.


Javier and Shortie on the ‘King’s Rock – somewhere north-west of Madrid.

 

Yamaha FJ1100 in my Shed

A few years back I had a big workshop with not-a-lot happening in it. Modern bikes are pretty reliable and unless you are using them for something they weren’t mean’t to do they don’t take much spannering. Yes winter boredom had set in and I fancied a project.

A ‘friend’ spoke of an 1984 Yamaha FJ1100 ‘going cheap’ that would make a good project – especially with my long interest in the Yam XJR1300 which uses the same motor. I found my FJ in the middle of a D&G forest and of course paid too much for the bike which had been shut in the guy’s logshed for a number of years. She started up with the aid of a set of jump leads as the battery was duff and on the whole she didn’t look too bad.

Previous owner and his dog are not impressed by my first offer —

but she ended up in my workshop and it bit-by-bit she came to pieces —

despite a few pauses to read the newspaper which always looks more interesting second time round —

Wiring? it’s all there —

Sixteen inch rims on the FJ —

with big fat tyres to compensate —

She originally came out as top of the range sportsbike —

then Kawasaki spoiled her fun with a neatly packaged (for the day) Z thou —

A good condition Z thou will cost a small fortune nowadays —

and while prices may be creeping up for an old FJ1100 —

spares parts are still cheap —

ย 

and available —

ย 

if you know where to look —

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but they still have a long way to go —

to catch up with the Z1000 —

The FJ with it’s strong wrap-around front end —

handled well for it’s time —

A dirty beggar right enough when the plastics came off but cleaned up well —

she will make a nice bike when completed —

Just can’t make up my mind whether to go for the ‘Luing Scrambler’ look – build her back as standard – or – flog her as ‘an unfinished project’.

Labouring in a cold workshop doesn’t have the same appeal as it once did ๐Ÿ™‚

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Isle of Luing, Motorcycling, Yamaha FJ1100

 

V-Strom goes where Tumbling Waters Fall

Tumbling Waters? They are not hard to find in the West of Scotland but a quick shufty at the weather forecast on my mobile this morning came up with the info that for once our own Isle of Luing was to be the driest today and by sticking to the west coast between Tarbert Loch Fyne in the south and Ballachulish to the north we would have a four hour window without a great deal of precipitation.

I need a filler between the paragraphs – how about the happy eyes in the helmet while I wait for the real piccies to download —

For once the forecast was right although overnight heavy rain had caused considerable flooding on the roads which the well treaded Bridgestones on the V-Strom handled with aplomb. So well did she go that we were in Glen Coe village ‘Crafts n Things’ fighting for a vacant table while the ‘People who Lunch’ were still hogging all the furniture.

No worries – wee Helen sorted the seating arrangements out while I nailed the cappuccino’s and Fairy Cakes at the counter. Good coffee n cakes didn’t last long and the skies still looked okay up by Loch Leven by the time we were togged up again so we ventured that-a-way. We had seen waters tumbling off the wooded hillsides on the way from Oban and missed a few opportunities to dig the cameras out so we weren’t going to miss this one —

All that water after a coffee and something has to give – but – ‘here I am back in the picture with you’ —

H is made of stronger stuff and carried on clicking – at hills —

n more water —

Time to head for home – the wee Strom was singing well after her first service but we did manage a stop or two when the sunshine on the mountains across Loch Linnhe pulled us in —

C’mon ‘H’ – be sensible —

I know you want to take home a memento to mark this crackin’ day out on the Strom —

But – you will never fit that road sign under the seat —

๐Ÿ™‚

 
 

Pan Euro ST1100 gets new boots

The old girl sported a set of worn out Bridgestone tyres when she came into my hands a few years back.

With about 21000 miles of light use on the clock at around twenty years old they may well have been her original tyres – they certainly looked and felt as if they might be.

I’ve managed to put another 12000 miles on her since then without really going anywhere in particular – like a tour down to the Balkans or Spain and Portugal like I’ve done in former times.

She is a heavy ol’ girl tipping the scales at around 340kgs and certainly feels it on worn tyres. Having a surplus of bikes at the moment she is in the forefront when I make my half-hearted attempts to sell one to help balance the books. So far I have been offered buttons for the ST1100. During my period of ownership she has had a new purpose-built Nitron rear shock shoved up her chuff – a new battery and two sets of Bridgestone tyres. In fact – make that three sets for last week she got a another set of Bridgestone BT03’s.

I bought the Pan in the first place for her comfy seat as after a series of op’s on the bit I sit on I needed some comfort in that department and despite it’s after-market gel pad and neat leather seat cover I still didn’t find the perch on my other bike – the Tenere easy to live with over a distance.

Saturday saw me heading for the supplying dealer on the 650 V-strom for her first service. She has proved to be a lovely bike in all departments but one – with a peach of a v-twin motor giving honest performance even at running-in revs.

If she has a fault it’s in the seat – it’s too low for 32-33ins inside legs and lacks support. The penchant these days is for low seat heights as the under-nourished – vertically challenged brigade have convinced the manufacturers they are losing sales by not catering for the short-arses amongst us.

My early morning rise on Saturday saw me catch the first ferry from the island at 7.30 and with a brief stop in Oban to garner funds at the hole-in-the-wall – a further stop in Callender for fuel plus a hot choc and to bring the circulation back into my lower limbs – I wasย  in Edinburgh booking the V-strom in for her first service by 10.30.

My legs may have recovered in the hour I spent at Saltire booking her in and enjoying a crackin bacon roll with added black pudding washed down with plenty of coffee but 615 miles in a week on the V-strom saddle had taken their toll. To think I have been known to do that mileage day after day on my trans-European rides not-so-long ago puts things into perspective.

No worries – I left the Strom for her service and the fitting of some free extras that had formed part of the original deal then rode home on the big Honda – resplendant on her new ‘boots’.ย The Pan European ST1100 may be built like a bus but she does have the saving grace of that comfy seat ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Dancing with the V-strom by Loch Leven

Let’s make it clear from the start – this is Loch Leven on the way to Fort William we are dancing round – not the Loch Leven in the county of Fife. As the saying goes ‘it tak’s a lang spean to sup soup wi’ a Fifer’ – substitute the Devil for a Fifer and you will know where I’m coming from.

Anyway – onwards and upwards before I get lynched – Helen with the wee-strom by Loch Leven on Friday —

and – yes – that is almost dry tarmac – a rarity this year.

Loch Leven – a sea loch reaching seven or eight miles inland to Kinlochleven – now famous for it’s National Indoor Ice Climbing Centre but also famous in motorcycling circles as a gateway to the Pipeline trials section and the infamous Blackwater Moor crossing plus many more apparently forbidden things. Signs on locked high wire gates threatening all sorts of violence to ‘criminals’ who have the nerve to take their vehicles onto the moors stopped us in our tracks at the back of the village.

 

No worries – the sixteen or so miles of well tarred and little used highway following a tortuous circuit around the loch are a joy to ride as it follows the shoreline with many undulations and blind crests. Close the roads to the public and we have the perfect motorcycle race circuit – if a little dangerous.

The reason the roads are so quiet is because the authorities built a road bridge over the narrows at the seaward end of the loch – but wait a mo’ cos we’re not there yet –

we have to show you a mountain or two —

peep through the roadside trees at a boat —

or three —

We have the artist in charge of the camera – so – make that four —

before walking down to the old quay in high spirits and doing the ice queen’s ‘Fly Past’ – or is it ‘The Running Woman?’

followed by the ultra difficult – ‘Woman stands on one Leg!’ —

and the grand finale – something you cannot imagine happening —

‘Woman kicks the conversion that sees Scotland win the next Rugby World Cup!’

Yeahh!!! — That’s my girl!!! ๐Ÿ™‚