More Motorcycle Woes

On Thursday before last I was riding home up the A41 as usual. I stopped at a set of traffic lights and, while I was waiting there, the bike just died. The engine stopped and the instrument panelk went blank. Switching the ignition off and on did nothing.

So, I got off and wheeled the bike around the corner, where I was able to get it up onto the pavement. I had a quick fiddle with it but it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to fix it. Fortunately I’m a member of the AA, so I reported the breakdown using the mobile app, grabbed my kindle from my bag and prepared for a long wait.

Actually, I didn’t have to wait too long. A yellow AA van soon arrived (and what a blessed sight it was!) and the AA guy set about fiddling with the bike in a much more organised manner than I’d been able to. However, he wasn’t able to do anything either. I was expecting to have to wait for another couple of hours for a recovery vehicle, but no. He opened the back of his van and proceeded to assemble a rather elaborate but cool trailer. Having set it up and got the bike onto it, we set off for home.

Pausing only at a garage so I could buy some milk, we soon made it home and unloaded the bike. At which point, my spectacles decided to give up the ghost (well, break a bit, anyway). Since then I’ve had the bike collected by the local dealership and I’m waiting to hear from them. On past form, I’m not expecting it to be soon. Or cheap.

Back on the Road

Well, it’s taken almost three weeks but I finally have my bike back. After messing around with the electronics for a while and finding nothing wrong, the mechanics simply opened up the gearbox and manually put it back into neutral. Having reassembled it and taken it for a test ride everything seemed fine so they pronounced it sorted. Let’s just hope they’re right.

Stand Problem

My new bike doesn’t have a centre stand and having one fitted is quite expensive, so I went for the cheaper option of a paddock stand. In order to make it easier to get the bike on the stand by myself I also bought a front wheel chock.

Problem: I can’t get the bike’s front wheel into the chock unaided and if I fire up the engine and ride it in I’m afraid I won’t be able to get it out again.


My New Bike

My new bike

This year I turned fifty. We had a lovely family get-together a few days before the momentous day itself, at which we had a fantastic full-on roast beef with all the trimmings, especially parsnips, my particular favourite. After the meal I was handed a card by my in-laws. On opening it I was stunned to find a note saying that I was to present myself at a motorcycle dealership in Farnham the next day where I would exchange my old bike for a beautiful 2012 Honda NC700X DCT.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too well that night courtesy of some serious excitement. In the morning I phoned my insurance company and, after a bit of a faff due to their computer system having gone down (typical!) I arranged to transfer my cover to the new machine. I called the dealership and agreed to be there at 2pm.

Juliet decided to follow me down there with our son, Max, who loves motorcycles and constantly makes ‘broom broom’ noises while pretending to turn a twistgrip. A whole showroom full of bikes was a real delight for him. We soon had all the paperwork completed and, after a visit to the nearby supermarket for supplies and a bite to eat, I was ready to head back home on my new machine.

My first impressions were pretty favourable. The wide bars and tallish seat height made for easy steering and a good view, while the mirrors are, quite honestly, superb. The best bit, though, is the automatic gearbox, a first for me and very uncommon on motorcycles. It took a while for my left hand and foot to stop twitching as I approached roundabouts and wanted to change down, but I soon got used to it. Just cruising along, not having to do a great deal except take in the world around me is glorious. I never want to go back to manual gears. Ever.

The bike’s fuel tank is located under the saddle, with the filler cap under the pillion seat, which hinges upward to reveal it. Where a normal bike’s tank would be is given over to a large, lockable storage area, just about big enough to take a crash helmet and plenty big enough for a lock or two and the bag of bits and bobs I habitually carry around with me.

To say that I’m happy with it would be an understatement. It’s played a large part in renewing and revitalising my interest in motorcycling generally and given me a whole new reason to get up in the morning.

Baby Shopping and Bike Woes

It’s been a busy week one way and another. Work kept me pretty well occupied, but home life has been interesting, too. On Thursday evening Juliet and I went to her old school, the Royal Masonic School for Girls, to hear a talk given by Bill Bryson, an author we both really like. He was very good, if rather brief, but the sound system left quite a lot to be desired, making it quite difficult to make out what he was saying. On the plus side, we met a friend of Juliet’s there and were able to spend some time catching up with her.

I worked from home on Friday thanks to the throttle cable on the bike having snapped. Considering that the bike is less than six months old and it’s not the first problem I’ve had with it I’m not entirely happy. I phoned the dealer I bought it from and they’ve ordered a new cable and will be coming over on Monday to collect the bike and sort it out. I only hope that they bring it back again and don’t expect me to go to the shop to collect it, as I have no way of getting there before next weekend unless I use up my last day of holiday, which I’m reluctant to do.

Yesterday we collected Juliet’s mum and went shopping in Watford. We bought a pair of new pillows and a baby ear thermometer in John Lewis and spent quite some time looking at baby travel systems. There are so many things to consider, but I think we’re getting a better idea of what we want. Having said that, any advice or recommendations will be very gratefully received.

Today the plan is to do a number of bits and pieces around the house – there’s a fence panel down in the garden which I need to put back, and I have some heated over-grips to fit to the bike if I can. There’s also the usual mountain of housework, shirts to be ironed and possibly a nice healthy walk to fit in. Not to mention Formula 1 on TV if I get a chance to watch it.

Back to Biking

A few years ago I gave my ageing and somewhat knackered but well-loved BMW R100RT to my brother and gave up motorcycling. At the time I hadn’t used the bike for a while and, as I was living in Walthamstow and using public transport to get about, I didn’t expect to be using it again any time soon. Since then my life has changed dramatically. I met Juliet, moved to Rickmansworth and married her.

For over a year I used public transport to get to work in Camden Town but found it unreliable and expensive. Then my father-in-law spotted a review of the Suzuki Inazuma 250 in the newspaper and suggested that it might be a good idea for me to get one. I read some reviews, did the calculations and found that it wouldn’t cost me much more to have a brand spanking new bike so, after a bit of hesitation, I took the plunge and bought one.

What a revelation! I’d forgotten just how much fun biking is! Not only do I get to the office more quickly, but the pleasure involved is immense. The Inazuma is light and nippy, as you’d expect from a 250, but feels like a proper bike. It’s comfortable for a reasonably tall person such as myself and pretty economical. What more could I want? I’m really glad it’s had its first service as I can now rev it a bit harder. Sitting on the motorway at 45mph was less than great but 60-65mph is just fine on an unfaired bike.

Classic Motorcycle Insurance

Juliet’s dad recently bought a 1966 BSA A50, which he’s very kindly offered to lend to me. It’ll be absolutely great to have a bike again, and an old British bike has, in my opinion, masses of cred. Anyway, I’ll obviously need to sort out insurance, so I went on to Bennetts site to get a quote. After dutifully filling in their form, the price that was quoted was a whopping £2,710! That seems more than a tad excessive to me, so I guess I’m going to have to shop around. I shall try Carole Nash, although they don’t provide quotes online, but if anyone can recommend sensibly priced classic motorcycle insurance I’d be very grateful.

Bike Accident

This morning I managed to have a minor accident on my motorbike. I won’t go into all the details here except to say that I wasn’t hurt at all and neither was anyone else. The bike’s fairing and headlight don’t look too good; I had a repair estimate this afternoon of 610.00 which, given my current financial situation, really hurts. Time to wave the credit card and try not to think about it too much.

Still, I just have to remember that it could have been a whole lot worse and that the bike’s just a thing which can be repaired or replaced. So I’m not too downhearted, all things considered.

Back to Earplugs

I’ve taken to wearing earplugs on the bike again. It’s amazing how much more comfortable they make a long journey but they also produce an odd disconnected sensation that means that my speed has a tendency to creep up beyond the level I feel is safe. It’s also rather weird sitting at traffic lights and watching all the vehicles moving in almost total silence – rather like watching an old silent movie. I shall continue to use them, though, since I have no wish to go deaf.

Thank You

I’d just like to say a huge public thank you to the guy who, to cut a long story short, when traffic was diverted off the A12 last night, said he was heading to Colchester and I could follow him. If it wasn’t for his kindness I’d have been home a lot later than I was, and even more tired. What an absolute star!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday

On Friday night I met up with some friends for a visit to the National Portrait Gallery, followed by beer and then kebabs at Leicester Square. It proved to be an extremely good way to finish off a pretty trying week. I love my job but there are times when I could do with a little less stress.

Yesterday I availed myself of Lidl‘s regular sale of cheap motorcycle gear and bought myself a new magnetic tank bag for a tenner. It has a useful detachable side pocket and can be unzipped from the magnetic base, which stays on the bike. The act of doing this reveals straps that allow the bag to be worn as a rucksack. All very clever. To be honest, I’m a sucker for anything that has lots of zips and pockets and stuff.

Today I intend to laze around in front of the TV, watching the German Motorcycle Grand Prix and drinking beer, specifically Badger Golden Glory, a lovely summery ale containing extract of peach blossom, which gives it a light, fruity flavour I really enjoy.