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Category Archives: Motorcycling

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.

 

Auld age disnae come itsel

My old mother was right when she said ‘auld age disnae come itsel Donald’.

I haven’t even been able to access my own Blog for some time now as Google used to remember my password for me. Then – in an attempt to copy the Chinese I banned Google from the Home Farm. Seems I made a big mistake. The all-seeing eye of Big Brother has it’s uses after all.

No worries – I’m back in biznez and hopefully I’m ready to carry on where I left off.

My CRF250 Rally is still around and just get’s better n better. Changing the gearing by fitting a couple of teeth more on the rear sprocket has had the desired effect and keeps her minimal power output in the meat of the rev band.

Fitting a complete Arrow alloy – peashooter type exhaust has also helped by reducing weight and finding some extra ponies.

Oh – and the new Wilber rear shock has levelled her up a bit and set the handling alight as she is no longer draggin her ass on the road.

Sadly the V-strom has gone and so have the two Honda Grom’s. Four hundred miles between the wee Honda’s over four years bears testament to the two wee bikes not fitting the bill although they did nothing wrong really.

So-o – what replaced them? Sumthin different of course. In fact very different. A state-of-the art Honda X-ADV750! Here she is lighting up a dull day with no other visiting bikes at the Green Welly unless we count a big Goldwing complete with sidecar and trailer beautifully ridden by two equally large ladies from Belgium.

My X-ADV750 is on the right – Mr Honda’s motorcycling answer to the SUV range currently gaining popularity in the car industry. A motorcycle in scooter clothing – she has a 750cc twin cylinder motor driving through a 6 speed gearbox and twin clutch system which enables automatic selection of the gears. Riding position is feet-forward – a must for me as it means I can delay the inevitable for a few more years.

Yes – old age hasn’t come itself and I have been putting off a date with the scalpel and power saw as various surgeons have been itching to cut out my right knee joint and fit me with some sort of mechanical contrivance in it’s place for the past four years.

I still haven’t fully recovered from my last encounter with the surgeon’s wayward blade of five/six years ago and doubtless never will. If riding feet-forward scoot-style gives me several more years in the saddle without resorting to the knife then it’s no real hardship.

Now then – where did I jot down that password .. lol

 

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.

 

My Last Bike?

My last bike – how many times have I said that?

I said it to my son at the TT on the Isle of Man in 1993 or was it ’94 after he had cut enough plaster off his damaged wrist to wheelie my precious new model BMW1100GS off a Ramsey campsite and give me a nervous couple of hours waiting for his return from what I thought would be a five minute ride into town.

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Not my James – the wee bugger cleared off and did a fast lap of the whole TT circuit. When I remonstrated ‘mildly’with him on his return – saying amongst other things that this was probably my last bike his casual reply was – ‘ well I didn’t expect you would give me another shot of it’.

Too Right!

So – that ‘Last Bike’ toured Spain and Portugal several times before being pensioned off when I decided to startup a Rider Training enterprise down in Shropshire. Then there were five Yamaha 125s after that – a 600 Bandit – a GPZ 600 – a GP 750 – a BMW 1100R – and a Mick Andrews replica 250 Yamaha based Majesty Trials —

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There were at least three rider friendly – off/on road Yamaha XT 600s. Two mean off-road Honda 600 Rs and a very pretty Yamaha 375 Virago —

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A too-small (at the time) Yamaha Serow —

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and a 1200 Bandit – seen here in Brittany disguised as a sheep. The bare seat was a pain in the jaccsy over a distance!

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Five XJR1300s – this one with the ijit embarrassing his friends in Spain was favourite and featured in many a mad foray during it’s years with the Owner’s Club and reached Dubrovnik amongst other faraway places —

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A very nice old BMW R100GS I imported from the States after an aborted ride from Bar Harbor Maine to Alaska via Oregon due to hospital trauma. A bit agricultural compared to Jap bikes – I didn’t keep her long after she arrived back in the UK at Thames Port. She does look nice amongst my roses.

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Ahh – America – how could I forget the whole Ducati Racing Equipe I bought from the late David Jeffrey family. The 956 Corsa was raced for me at the Daytona 200 in 1995 by an up and coming Neil Hodgson who would go on to become World Superbike Champion on a works Ducati a few years later.

Well – what did you spend your divorce settlement on? At least I got more than a few free airmiles out of it and I did get every penny of my outlay back when I sold the job-lot to the Irish division of Scania Trucks within weeks of coming back into the country.

I don’t have a photo of the Ducati but I do happen to have a painting of the 500cc Roc Yamaha raced by Neil in GP’s worldwide that same year. We did the Australian – Malaysian – Japanese and Spanish 500 Grand Prix’s together with some success. The spots in the colour scheme were considered bad luck and the acne was ditched for the remaining European rounds —

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On and on the list goes — and that’s only since 1994. In my lifetime I reckon I’ve owned and ridden over a hundred bikes which brings me nicely to my current stable consisting of —

The smallest – my Honda 125 MSX which will go for her first MOT on Monday —

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The biggest – the mighty V4 engined Honda Pan European ST1100 – still a lovely ride if a bit of a heavy handful to balance  on our small ferry crossing over Cuan Sound on a rough day. Tiedown straps are only for oil tankers and cissies around here —

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The tallest – my trusty Yamaha Tenere 660Z – should come complete with stepladder —

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The easiest to ride – my sweet Honda CRF250 Rally – especially now that I have lowered the gearing making it easier to keep the smooth little motor in it’s sweet spot —

The dirtiest – looked fresh enough the day I bought her but underneath those plastics lurked thirty years of grime —

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My current ride for all reasons – our hardy – non complaining 650cc Suzuki V-strom —

The toughest? My 1994 all-alloy Raleigh Maxim Hybrid.

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Together we did the Dairi-Pak Challenge event over some of the toughest mountain roads in Wales and came through it alive if a bit sore behind and red in the face. I still have that bike but there are times I wish she had an electric motor in her.

So what about this ‘last bike’ thing? Well have you seen the latest 125cc Scrambler version of the Honda Monkey Bike – dial it up and have a look –  –  –  –  – 

Now that could be my last bike – pity I’m ot ready for her yet πŸ™‚

.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2019 in Motorcycling

 

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Bare Faced Rider meets Roland Sands

It seems I’ve turned the clock back much longer than I care to remember – all because I couldn’t resist an original Bell open face helmet for sale at a knockdown price from the Glasgow Harley Davidson shop recently. The clincher was the Roland Sands quality finish inside and out which I got for free —

I bought my first open face Bell back in 1960 from a pal in Dunblane who didn’t need it any more as he was finished with bikes having crashed head-on into a coal lorry wrecking both his Norton Dominator which my brother was in the proccess of buying and the coal truck. I kept up the crashing habit of that particular helmet a short month after I got it when I wrote off the ill-used Bell and broke my neck while suffering a head-on in my own little mishap while riding my ‘race prepared’ BSA 650 A10.

I might have more to add to this Post if I find any pics from back then – oh – and the facial fungus is my new look – riding in any weather can be a painful experience with a bare baby face when the rain – sleet and snow start pinging off my chin πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in Motorcycling

 

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 —

Β 

and available —

Β 

if you know where to look —

Β 

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 πŸ™‚

 
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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 —

πŸ™‚

 
 

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 wasΒ  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’.Β The Pan European ST1100 may be built like a bus but she does have the saving grace of that comfy seat πŸ™‚

 

 

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!!! πŸ™‚