another perfectly good motorcycle ruined.......

Saturday, 15 August 2020

If I Should Fall To The Field

 This time of year usually sees me getting my kit ready for the annual pilgrimage to the Island for the Classic TT/Manx GP, unfortunately during these strange times that’s not happening this year. So, after a particularly sad week in which I lost another dear friend to a motorcycle accident I started to question if this obsession is indeed worth the heartache. I put off riding for four days, not wishing out of respect or perhaps fear of putting my loved ones through the same feelings of loss that my friends family are going through at this time. 

 I can’t articulate the sensation of riding a motorcycle, many more talented people have tried before, it is, without wanting to sound like a walking [riding] cliche something that if you have never experienced it you really wouldn’t understand, [told you] 
 We are basically a big soft bag of muscle, tissue and blood, it’s not speed that kills it’s stopping abruptly, usually through hitting an inanimate object. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played out this scenario in my head, both consciously and in my dreams, is this my ultimate destiny? Some stranger turning across my path? [‘I didn’t see him’] our lives intertwined by fate, perhaps a misjudgment as I enter a bend, a trail of diesel from a careless trucker over filling his tank? The track day where circumstances go against us? The ‘racing incident?’  I don’t know, no one ever really knows, we have two important dates in life, the one when we are born and the one when we finally shuffle off this mortal coil. 
   What I will say though is that I’d rather continue to experience the feelings that I get riding my motorcycles, whatever the risk, than succumb to the humdrum, boring, tartan blanket wearing existence that non-riders have. Richard ‘Nobby’ Newbold. Love you mate.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

True Love Will Find You In The End

 As much as I love my FTR1200 and fair play to Indian Motorcycles for marketing it as a race oriented machine it’s got nothing in common with the pukka race bikes other than the name on the tank, [all the other manufacturers are on the same kick, your Honda/Kawasaki/Yamaha/Ducati/BMW isn’t the same as the bikes that are winning Moto GP/TT/BSB/MotoAmerica] Winning races counts. It sells bikes. Always has done but a road going bike with all the road going compromises isn’t the same as a full-on Factory bike that’s sole purpose is to go fast, handle well at extreme angles of lean, brake with the ‘g’ force of a fighter plane and win races.

     The two main protagonists in the American Flat Track series are Indian and Harley Davidson, same as it ever was, [but fair play to Yamaha giving the big two a run for their money with JD Beach taking time out from the Moto America super sport series to race the very special, very rapid, MT07] 

So, where’s this going then? Well, the nights are drawing in and I’m hankering after the possibility of a new project to keep me busy over the long winter nights. Enter the Harley Davidson 750 Streetrod. Yup, you heard me right,  the unfashionable, water cooled, ‘entry-level’ budget, not-made-in-the-USA target of mucho hilarity amongst the chap-wearing, lardy arsed H.O.G. wankers who think camping is mincing around the local bike night wearing mirror shades and looking tough and have no knowledge of the  racing heritage between these two famous manufacturers. I must admit to not actually realising the history until I saw the memorial at Daytona Beach. A feeling of real humility, same as I get when I go over to the Isle of Man.

You can pick up a late model of the 750 for around four grand. A little bit of whoo, a little bit of wah a sprinkling of fairy dust and a healthy dose of hacksaw should sort it out...../

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Considered Thoughts - The Indian FTR1200

So, why did I choose the Indian FTR 1200 as my new whip? There are more powerful, faster, better handling machines available but my decision was purely based on how it made me feel and the sheer ‘fun-factor’ rather than any ‘practical’ reasons, I don’t have to ride a bike to and fro from work everyday like back in the day, I’m not touring on it, I don’t need luggage capacity, [although I can bungee my 50ltr Oxford Dri-Sac onto the pillion seat with ease] I don’t need ‘adventure bike’ capability [and whilst we are on the subject my choice would be a Royal Enfield Himalayan over  any massive, plastic encrusted GS/Multistrada/Triumph Tiger any day ]The FTR is a heavy beast at 225 kg dry, it packs 123 bhp and a staggering 80 ft torque, to put it into perspective my KTM 790 Duke weighs 169kg, has 105 English Pony’s and 66 ft of torque, that, by my reckoning equates to the Indian being 56kg heavier! But, it’s not all about figures, I can assure you once on the move the extra weight isn’t apparent at all. The riding position is the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced on a motorcycle, the bar/seat/foot peg ratio is spot on, the seat is plush and comfortable [ hey, remember your talking to someone who’s ridden hard tail choppers with conveyor belt rubber for a seat and quarter inch rubber on my race bikes as a consession to comfort!] The Pro-Taper bars fall easily to hand with a great rise that immediately puts you in control, they are just right, not too high or low and nice and wide to give loads of feel, the foot pegs are aluminium dirt bike inspired items, I’ve seen some people moaning about them being slippy but I’ve had no problems with them. The clutch is a cable item and is super light in operation, front brake is a Brembo radial mastercylinder, span adjustable and provides more braking power than you will ever need on the road. Twin 320mm front brake discs are semi-floating and mounted directly to the hub to save the extra weight and complexity of a disc carrier, calipers are the excellent four-pot Brembo M4 items late of this parish and found on Aprilia/Ducati/KTM superbikes. There is, of courseABS fitted as standard. And that is the sum total of rider aids on this bike. Yup, no wheelie mitigation, no traction control, just your throttle and brake input to save you from headbutting the scenery and that in my book is all you blinking well need squire!I could of course go on all day about the excellent Sachs suspension, the meticulous attention to detail with deep, deep paint, nice fasteners and excellent fit, finish and general all-over quality of the bike but I’d rather talk about that engine. It’s a torque beast, any sign of dampness and you are spinning up the wheel in fourth and fifth gear, the thing does it in the dry too, never lairy in a bad way, it just makes you come over all Jared Mees, the back-end steps out and gets squirrely but never in an ‘oh shit’ way, the bike has a way of making you feel like a hero, the standard exhaust is quiet at town speeds allowing for stealth-mode but give it the berries and you are met with a raucous noise as the induction noise rises and it sucks greedily for air. This thing is fast but more than that it’s FUN! And that for me is what it’s all about. I heard a great comparison recently, this isn’t a Ferrari or Lamborghini, this is a brutal, raw Ford Mustang or Dodge Charger, yes it goes around corners but it’s never going to compete with a sportsbike around the turns, that’s not to say it doesn’t handle because it does, but jumping off a sportsbike onto this is a totally different experience and it needs to be treated with a little respect [cue 80’s Erasure tune]So, bad points? The filler cap is a lovely, billet Indian ‘I’ icon item, non-hinged that you have to remove before refuelling, first time I filled up the bastard rolled off the pump and bent my key at 45 degrees! not good. The fuel tank isn’t a fuel tank, it’s actually the air box and the tank is under the seat to keep the weight low slung. You need to be really careful when fuelling, the tank will belch raw fuel all over you, the bike, the car at the adjacent pump, the kids hanging out of the window of the car at the adjacent pump, the two people walking the dog past the local garage, you get the picture? Ball-ache. The standard mirrors are shit. Replace them with bar-end items, preferably Oberon, problem solved. Tyres? The Dunlop DT3-R’s are specific to the FTR, a blocky tread pattern, they move around and take a little getting used to but I’ve ridden supermoto’s on Dunlop Mutant’s and they feel very similar. If you are used to a more sporty profile you are going to be in for a surprise but they are not as bad as everyone says they are, that being said I will replace them for something more street oriented when I’ve worn them out. [which won’t be long, ahem] And then there’s the fuel economy, [or lack of] listen, the tank is small, the best you are ever going to see is 130 miles from brim-full to empty and that’s riding it sensibly, which, let’s face is never going to happen. Get over it, if you want a bike for fuel economy this isn’t for you. If you want a practical, do-it-all bike then this isn’t for you, if you want a raw riding experience, shits and giggles bike then step this way........


Saturday, 8 August 2020

Dusting For Smoke

 Saturday night. Post-ride comedown.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

What Comes Back

Big Steve’s brilliant homage to the OG, ‘80’s super bike racer done with a twist. Get yourself an Ed-u-macation as an old mate used to say. Original frame, strengthened by the addition of bracing so subtle you wouldn’t have even noticed it if I hadn’t told you, [did the same on my GS thou and Katana, right-way-up Ohlins  forks to keep the period correct look but twinned with Ohlins twin-shock loveliness to suspend the rear end, that swing arm is an original Harris item, commissioned by Big Steve and looks very spindly compared to my FTR but look at it, eccentric chain adjustment and a rose jointed torque arm, pure 80’s bike-porn! Exhaust you say? Moriwaki seamed aluminium item with welded seams, bodywork is standard including the take-the-piss grabrail, decals aren’t decals, they are sprayed on but look like stickers. I love the whole juxtaposition of this bike, standard clocks but the 1170 [forget what it says on the sidepanels] engine is twin-plugged and running two separate ignition systems,  [Steve tries to explain it to me but I’m fucked, he is a development engineer at Rolls Royce working on mind blowing shit, he turned up with a model that he got his apprentices to develop involving 3D printers, gears, bearings, just amazing stuff, I’m an old-school wheel turner, using rulers, gauges and bits of string cut to length!] anyhoo, Dymag wheels but not stupidly oversized, the CR carbs look like they grew there, ISR brake lever and mastercylinder, blacked-out barrels and heads, polished casings, Brembo calipers and titanium fasteners. Feast your eyes brethren, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.......

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Nathan Fake


Friday, hottest day of the year, Bob the Dog walked early doors, home before seven in the am and it’s already twenty-two degrees, quick shower and warm up the FTR as I sort out my riding gear. Where to go? The Rollright Stones beckon, the ancient stone circle bordering Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, a 120 mile ride, not been here for around ten years, Chuck a sandwich and bottle of water in my bag and off we bloody well trot, it’s good to be riding at this time in the morning, too late to miss the work traffic/school run/ granny shopping trip, still warm though even though I’ve unzipped my jacket liner, I’m wearing Daneise armoured jeans and my ubiquitous greasy Doc Marten  boots. Out through rural Leicester, past Mallory and into the Home of Triumph, {or ‘Inckley as we know it] on to the A5, [how many times have I travelled this road? Memories of the Hells Angels Kent Custom Bike Show and British GP races at Silverstone] I stop to re-fuel and grab a can of cold coffee before turning onto the Fosse Way and head south. As I walk back towards the bike I can see something glinting in the full sunshine, closer inspection reveals a Pozidrive screw firmly imbedded in my rear tyre. Deep fucking joy. It had all been going so swimmingly until this point.
I walked away and sat in the shade of the only tree for miles, chugging my ice cold coffee and laughed. It’s a beautiful day, sunshine beating down and I’m riding a great bike, something as inconvenient as a puncture shouldn’t ruin it. 
Finishing my caffeine fix I return to the bike and push my fingers into the still warm compound, it’s still firm, I fish out my knife and carefully work the blade under the head of the screw until there’s enough to grasp between my thumb and forefinger and gently prise it out. PPPPSSSHHHH! The tell tale sound of air escaping from a tyre. YOU BASTARD! I’d hoped hope against hope that I’d collected a pop rivet or short screw, no such luck. The full Bangladesh, English Breakfast, All you can eat, full on two inch, [or 50mm if you are metric] twin taper screw. 
I pushed it straight back into the tyre and decided to just ride as far home as I could without resorting to calling the very nice man, the very, very nice man. 
Ten minutes into my ride home, telling myself to behave and take it steady I’m still riding like a twat and continued to do so until I got home. Bike up on the paddock stand and I work the trusty blade under the screw head, flat within seconds. Today was a good day.......