RSS

Category Archives: Suzuki 650XT V-strom

Caroline Caps Ben Cruachan

It was grim and more than a little blustery around here yesterday when a storm called Caroline blundered through —

but we held our ground and even found a gorgeous freshwater pool formed by rainwater dripping down from the cliffs above —

In fact beauty in abundance one minute —

and glowering storm clouds next —

Today was much the same leading to snow – especially on top of Ben Cruachan —

where Helen caught this shot of the snow-capped mountain from the roadside while on her ‘Santa’ run to Oban this morning πŸ™‚

 
 

Ben Cruachan by CRF250 Rally

Temperatures around freezing don’t stop play when the sun is shining so once again our resident roe deer buck was left in charge of the old farmyard and out came the CRF250 Rally to make the most of the day —

With brilliant sunshine forecast for the day-Β  a snow-capped Ben Cruachan north of Loch Awe caught the eye from a high point twixt Clachan on the Isle of Seil and Kilninver on the road to Oban —

Possibly 25 miles as the crow flies but a chilly 40 plus by road – I will chicken out and settle for a distant pic and leave that trip for the V-strom with it’s heated grips on another day πŸ™‚

Β 

 

CRF Rally etched with Crinan Canal and High Couture

Etched? I have to call it something and I’ve forgotten what my ‘puter called this proccess —

I’m not sure about the result – but – Helen likes it and that’s a plus. Her V-strom is black for starters so I don’t suppose I can improve it in photo-shop —

mmm’m – not bad.

Saturday had us Christmas shopping in Lochgilphead – a few nice little shops there and you either find something – or you don’t. I found everything I needed in 30 mins flat but it took Helen slightly longer —

No worries – we still had time for a walk by Crinan Canal – I can see us taking the bicycles down there and cycling the whole seven miles of it sometime soon —

And – what about the high couture? The one that got away – the hat that didn’t make our wedding back in June —

I still can’t believe this lovely lady married me —

and introduced me to a life of peace – contentment – and occasional sunshine πŸ™‚

 

650 V-strom finds the Wild Rowan Cafe

The Wild Rowan Cafe wasn’t exactly lost but nestling on the quieter shores of Loch Awe it’s a bit of a hidden gem. I usually head that way with the agile CRF250 Rally but having extolled the merits of the wee cafe once too often we were two-up on the V-strom today.

No use pointing that-a-way girl – we’ve just come from there —

Thursday was supposed to be a day of work but by lunchtime we had both accomplished most of our allotted tasks and with the prospect of a dry afternoon ahead we were soon booted and suited then skipped over to South Cuan where we caught the last ferry before lunch to Seil and the mainland —

Now we have the direction of travel sorted we leave Loch an Losgainn Mor to it’s own devices and head due east by Loch Avich before dropping down from the hills to the shores of Loch Awe. Greasy single track roads through the mixed forests needed a little respect as they are used by forestry extraction teams and civil engineering outfits who are busy rebuilding bridges and constructing a community funded hydro-electric scheme on the River Avich.

No matter what your business is in this remote area – all roads lead to the Wild Rowan Cafe – shop cum Post Office in the tin-roofed loch-side village of Dalavich —

It’s a veritable Tardis —

Two-chinned givit needs to leave the cakes alone —

Even if he does claim to have been buying some locally knitted Beanies —

There’s one each —

plus a couple for H’s two grandaughters in Japan —

Very fetching Helen πŸ™‚

 

Beaver Moon brings out the V-strom

The Beaver Moon — she was a beauty —

Following a wild and windy Saturday with more than our share of rainbows —

That old moon may have come shining through our back door a bit rough around the edges but she cleared the clouds away by morning giving us the first decent view we’ve had of Scarba all week —

With the final cut of grass done for the year – I hope – there was nothing else for it but to bring the V-strom out and make a leisurely start to the day as the first ferry on a Sunday goes at a tardy 11.00hrs.

By that time temperatures had risen to around nine degrees in the sunlight dropping to six-ish in the shade. No doubt there had been groundfrost earlier and a two-car prang we came across on our ride could have only been caused by black ice – or a sleeping driver.

Snow glistening on the distant Ben Cruachan for the first time this year formed a pleasing picture —

While our route would go that direction we were well below the snow-line and pulled over for a shot or two down Loch Awe —

A lovely young Oriental lady popped out of her van and insisted she take a ‘Mr & Mrs’ photo too —

A nice blast over the hill to the Green Welly found the ‘Biker’s Cafe’ closed for the winter and queues of tourists from the visiting coaches hogging the main restaurant leaving nothing else for it but coffee’s to go from the machine in the fuel station kiosk —

Can’t quite make out what ‘Sir’ is saying but it will most likely be sumthin or nuthin —

No worries – he recovered in time for a pleasant blast over Rannoch Moor to Glen Coe where the mountains were at their most photogenic.

You will just have to take my word on that because winter ferry times on the Lord’s Day don’t allow enough for a long ride leaving us little time to stop for pics as the day drew to a close πŸ™‚

 

 

 

V-strom meets the Vital Spark

The Vital Spark was the old Puffer or coastal steamer made famous both on the telly and in book form for it’s role with Parahandy the irascible skipper and his crew as they delivered coal and general supplies up and down the west coast of Scotland.

She still exists and is currently rusting away against the harbour wall at Inverary on Loch Fyne where we made the most of the today’s rare sunshine on a chill late October ride.

Now if that big geezer leaning against the barrier would just move over we might get a better shot of the puffer but there’s no point asking eight stone Helen to move him along. On closer inspection there’s no need – looks like he is doing his own version of the ‘Vital Spark’ —

We had better luck up the road with Ben Cruachan – there are no big geezers getting in the way of this shot —

H-mmm – spoke too soon – where did this big lump and his Strom come from —

He get’s everywhere these daysΒ  – at least he was smiling when the frugal Strom left him with half a tank of fuel after the 140 odd mile ride and enough dosh to pay for the ferry home across Cuan Sound as the late afternoon shadows lengthened on the day after the clocks were turned back an hour to official Winter Time —

We almost made it home before thecouncil gritters came scattering their road salt far and wide – almost – we were just a few miles from the ferry with temperatures hovering around a balmy twelve degrees when we were showered with the lethal rust provoking stuff. Hopefully a few minutes washdown with the hose by the backdoor will have saved the day πŸ™‚

 

 

 

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™‚

 
 

Rannoch Moor with the Wee-strom

Eight days down the line and our 650 V-strom is nearing her first service call by Suzuki at 600 miles. It’s strange that motorcycles still follow this archaic procedure when car manufacturers have dispensed with the ‘first service’ altogether and settle for regular well spaced service intervals instead.

Not to worry – the wee bike has behaved with impeccable manners since we picked her up in Edinburgh and I doubt if she will get any more than an oil and filter change when she makes the long run back there to keep her service history on course and warranty in order.

It wasn’t all rain in the past week and I did manage a mainly dry run up the coast road from Oban to Ballachulish and through the Pass of Glen Coe leading to Rannoch Moor followed by a coffee at the biker’s haunt of the Green Welly before the last fifty miles or so to Oban and home to the Isle of Luing.

I had a quick look towards Kinlochleven as I approached the village of Glen Coe and thought it might be an interesting ride to do with ‘H’ come the weekend.

But not today and pushed on towards the Pass – scene of the MacDonald’s massacre by Clan Campbell in the distant past and where I was to walk and climb many of the adjacent hills and glens once the snow lay deep and sometimes crisp and even twixt Christmas and New Year before my knees gave up on me.

Roadworks slowed progress today – but only briefly —

and with summer visitors mainly gone till next year I found room in a handy lay-by and clicked the rushing waters at the top of the Pass —

Out on the Moor itself where I have ridden trials bikes in my day – the waters weren’t exactly rushing but forming lochans with no end as even a careless step or two off the main road to take photos had me stumbling knee-deep into the unforgiving morass.

The last word from Kieran at the Saltire Suzuki shop was ‘not to exceed 6000rpm unless I needed a bit extra to complete an overtake safely. But – with 6000 in 5th hitting the national ‘A’ road speed limit at 60mph and 6th reaching all of 80mph at 6000rpmΒ  – running in isn’t proving to be much of a chore on the V-strom.

Once the first service is done and she is declared ‘good to go’ – with the redline at 10000rpm she will be a whole new ballgame.

So – why with fifty five years and more between them – does she remind me of the race-tuned BSA 650cc Gold Flash I ran as a daft teenager such a long time ago πŸ™‚