Finding Never-ever Land

A winter hack joined the fleet. I was taken by a sudden urge to buy a PanEuropean, which is odd as I only ever rode one once, back when I was 20 (ish). The Pan was a new model then and I was browsing one of the local bike shops, in Harrogate, deciding what I would by if I had any actual money… The shop owner had another bike shop in York and needed some paperwork taking there. Would I like to test ride the new Honda, a test ride that would end up at the York shop? Sure thing!

Now in those days I was all about max revs, max noise and maximum accidents. The wasn’t a hedge in the immediate ares I hadn’t visited and I was getting good at it.  So I hopped on the Pan and thrashed it to death all the way to York.

The Pan isn’t a sports bike, it weighs precisely a shit ton and torque is its secret weapon, not high RPM. I took it back and said it was shit. I’ll never, ever have something like that, I said….

The years have rolled on and I’ve come to enjoy vehicles for what they are, not specifically crotch rockets. The XR is way too full of newness for the salt infested winter months and I fancied something different. If I could have found a cheap Goldwing I’ve have been there like a flash (much to the amusement of my riding buddies) but a Pan? Why not, quick ebay – which is the correct way to gauge the price of anything – revealed they are as cheap as chips.

Next check out known faults, this is where the internet is at it worst. Google any medical condition you think you may have and the diagnosis is almost certainly that you’ll be dead before you’ve finished reading the article. So it is with cars and bikes, check out Aprillia’s “triangle of doom”, Ducati’s knackered clutches, KTM’s – well everything and then theres BMW, crap dealers, unreliable bikes – I mean I only got 70,000 miles before the tail lamp packed in…. etc.

Go what about the Pan, rusting swinging arms, alternators, fork seals and radiators rusting. All items exposed to the elements and at the same time hidden from view by lots of bodywork. so, not cleaned that well then? Still, I was mindful of potential disasters at the cheap end of the market and didn’t want to acquire anybodies basket case . Pan’s with circa 70K miles are all around, then one caught my eye. 140,000 miles, now its got to be something to own a bike with that kind of mileage, even better it had been owned by an enthusiast of anorak proportions. Better yet it had once belonged to plod as an under cover surveillance machine. It was the James Bond of bikes, how ever bad it was it was worth bragging rights down the pub.

The owner-cum-restorer had You-Tubed some video of the work he’d done, and boy had he done some work.

It was an Ebay auction and I was away when it ended, but I got a friend to bid for me and I was soon the owner of a Pocket money Pan.

Here she is, waiting for me in Morecambe


Quick jaunt home and all was well, in fact, other than the heated grips don’t work (now replaced with new ones) shes been a cracker and 1000 cold and salt laden miles later she’s not missed a beat.

There is a lot to be said for a winter hack that just needs riding and pressure washing every now and then.

Never say never! I got one in the end….




Third time lucky

So, in the two wheeled arm of the fleet there have been some comings and goings. The most convoluted story is that of Wolfie… Here goes…

Herman came along because the Ducati was just too sports bike for my aging frame. Yes, I was Carl Fogarty round the twisties though the Yorkshire dales,


excepting the whinging of course, but even a short bit of town riding left me more like Barry Sheene  – the post Daytona version, not wold champion.


If a road trip even smelled like there might be some slow work, I’d reach for the excuse handbook to find a reason to politely decline a ride out. Its amazing how quickly you run out of reasonable excuses and stretching believablity just a little each time, it wasn’t long before being “drafted to Vietnam” was the only unused excuse in the book, yeh right was the response, ah, rumbled, better come up with something here…. “Vietnam is….. the local Asian restaurant, actually,  and….. I have been asked to replace the old door, which was a bit… er…drafty”

Enough of this nonsense, the Ducati is a thing of beauty, but a thing of torture if you’re in traffic.Nothing, but nothing, compares to the beauty of a Ducati 996 though, and I just couldn’t part with her, so it had to be ‘as well as’ not ‘instead of’, I mean just look at it…



So, I bought Herman, the R1200GS, as well as mot instead of, and riding became a joy again, regardless of where and when. All good then? well, not exactly….

Hermans sizable 12oocc engine was first designed by DaVinci (possibly) and constant evolution had managed to to extract a heady 96 BHP and as everyone knows that equals precisely not enough. It didn’t take long to get used to the riding position and the grip levels from the dual surface tyres, which inevitably leads to a need for more go. Thrashing a GS to the edge of its operating envelope is like riding a torsion bar. Full noise twists the frame to such an extent that a clutched gear change feels like ringing out a flannel. Lovely bike, needs to be quicker.

Enter the XR… The BMW S1000XR has a 16% smaller engine but produces 66% more power, a whopping 160 BHP… It still retains the GS riding position, more or less, so it seemed on paper like the bike for me. I casually arranged a test ride (the proper term is to bullshit a test ride as I had no intention of a purchase at that point) and I turned up at Allen Jefferies, the Leeds BMW dealer for a try out.

Now I’m not one for txt speak by OMFG….. A mile into the test ride I was hooked, an hour into it I was enslaved. Had to have one and have it NOW.

and so it was that I returned from the test ride, opened my wallet and parted with a considerable amount of wonga for a 9 month old S1000XR with just 2000 miles on the clock.



First run out was exploratory, but still faster than I’d ever been on the GS. Felix and KC came along too and a great time was had by all.


As we headed back I started to feel a grinding vibration through the pegs and seat. Fairly sure it was just a chain that needed adjusting I gave it no more thought. It wasn’t the chain though, I didn’t know what it was, it was that itch you cant scratch, that fly in the bedroom that buzzes when you’re trying to sleep, that indeterminate insect that’s eaten its way into your scalp and is trying to burrow its way to your brain (that last one might be made up, a bit).

Eventually I gave in and headed back to Jefferies for some investigation work – that’s the great thing about warranty, let some other twat sort it out.

But sort it out they didn’t. I rode off on the loaner, a R1200RS, something I just don’t get the point of. I mean its not fast, same engine as the GS but not as comfortable, not pretty, not especially good at anything (that I could find) why would you buy one?



Any how, the XR came back, unfixed, but at least they accepted it wasn’t right.

There is something that says when a new bike is repaired then it isn’t new anymore, someones had their spanners on it and somehow the newness escaped. Jefferies response was unexpected, best thing is to swap yours for another one they said. That got me thinking, I was already smitten with the bike so why not upgrade to a brand spanker, I mean for a couple of thousand I could have a virgin, untouched by anyone else, my one and only. Yes, that was the thing to do, after all I’d never bought a brand new motorcycle before, loads of cars but never a bike. Enter the next problem….

I had a biking holiday in the Pyrenees booked for three weeks time, but that should be OK, surely? Er no, there were no stock bikes available in my spec anywhere in the UK it would have to be a factory order and there was a delay at BMW as they were switching to the next model year specification. Bugger.

Here came the next Jefferies  home run, we’ll lend you another bike for your holiday… Hang on a minute, did I enter a parallel universe?  All dealers are bastards and you have to fight tooth an nail for everything you get, surely? So I asked again and the answer was “we have another used bike, your spec, similar mileage, just serviced and with new tyres. We’ll register it in your name and you can use it for your holiday, when you get back you new one will be on its way.

And that’s what they did. Here is S1000XR number 2….



So, up we packed and off we went. 2000 miles on the best roads in Europe, from the bay of Biscay over countless Col’s to the Mediterranean and back via Andorra, the wonderful N260 and yet more of the best  passes the mountains had to offer.


Home again, a set of tyres later, and third time lucky, my wonderful, brilliant and epically quick S1000XR was ready to meet her first owner. She is a cracker too.

All good things to those who wait!


And that’s the Story of Wolfie, the third and final BMW S1000XR and the latest addition to the fleet.





Time for some housework

Not housework in the generally accepted meaning, no feather dusters here, more about rationalising the fleet. There are now too many vehicles to have a button each and it therefore seems like a good idea to group the bikes into one thread. There has been quite a bit of bike activity of late, much of it intertwined so that helps too…. Lets see how it goes.

Herman Invades

This section starts with an admission…. I’m getting old!

The Ducati, beautiful though she is as well as fast and sweet handling, leaves me needing traction after a run of a couple of hundered miles. As a result I was riding less and less as all the readily accessible suitable fast roads have been ridden again, again and again.

Then, my friend Felix came to be with an admission tat was tantamount to coming out of the closet. He’d bought a GS. Granted it was the junior, feminine, low fat variety, but a GS none the less. Open season, it was no longer a point of ridicule – well at least after I’d finished ridiculing him – and a GS could be owned by me too…

I took him to the wilds above Whitby to collect his dismally underpowered, fake, GS lookalike… but even then, a plan was forming….


I began the search for a GS of my own, but I wanted the full fat 1200 version. There were lots around, most with 35-50K miles (not an issue as the GS is good for north of 100,000) but they all looked a bit, well, tired. All the front engine cases were suffering the normal BMW corrosion and I wanted something more…

I spotted an add on, one owner, 22K miles, full history 2005 R1200GS. The pictures looked mint and it had been properly looked after. I borrowed the spare works van and headed off to Kent. Why do I always find the best machinery bloody miles away from Yorkshire? I mean Poo (The Elise) came from Belfast, The Duke came from Rochester, Smelly the KDX came from Cardiff and Lady Marilyn came from south of Gatwick….

Anyhow, set off we did and one bright Saturday morning we arrived down the smoke (again). Herman was waiting and my god he looked good. Nothing really to say, low mileage, used only for touring and complete with a set of luggage. The chap had bought it new from BMW Mafair and cosseted him ever since.A deal was done and Herman loaded into the van for the long journey home.


Well, I say home, Herman didn’t have an MOT so I decided to take him to work and MOT him from there, so thats what I did.


Herman flew though his MOT and it was time to hit the road.

When I bought the Duke, the seller told me not to ride with my friends for a while until I’d got used to riding a Ducati, which was very different to the Jap fours I’d been used to. That’s what I did and it paid off in spades. The Duke was so different that it took a while to be able to ride instinctively without finding myself in the wrong gear or at the wrong speed or braking too early etc. Its the same with Herman, very different to the Duke and massively different to four cylinder engines. The engine braking is huge and the tendency to rock left and right when blipping between changes, rather than forward and backwards, takes some getting used to.

That said it wasn’t long before I enjoyed the riding experience and, even more so, the ability to ride slowly without pain. This opened up a lot more roads and destinations….

The speed has picked up too, once I learned how to keep Herman on line I’ve got considerably quicker – yes he’ll never be a sports bike, but he can surprise a fair few of the would be MotoGP wanabees….

I suspect there will be much more from Herman, but it doesn’t bode well for the Duke, shsssss, don’t tell her….


Smelly’s story

Smelly is a KDX 220, one of a gang of three, Itchy (250 Suzuki), Hairy (KTM300) and Smelly. Smelly came around, as these things often do, from a discussion over a few beers. It was decided that we should all get enduro bikes and start doing a spot of green laneing.

Ebay is your friend at times like these, some clicking later and we realised that Wales was the land of plenty when looking at enduro bikes, so we made a list of possibles, borrowed a van and then at some ungodly hour on a Sunday morning set off for the land of Leeks, thistles and nervous sheep.


Many hours later we had two of the three bikes we needed


Smelly seemed fine, but when I got her in the mud she just lacked a bit of punch at high revs… Time to investigate. I pulled out the engine to make it easier – top tip if your thinking of doing this, dont! The rear engine mount is also the pivot shaft for the swinging arm. Once you take the shaft out the monoshock linkage trys to kill you… still once it was done the problem became clear..

Kdx220 power valve kdx power valve drive


The little bit floating in the crank cases isnt supposed to be there. It is supposed to be fastened to the end of the powervalve actuator shaft. As the engine was out anyway, it may as well all come to bits for a poke around…


crimson tide elf

all parts de-coked, actuator repaired, all fairly straight forward stuff…

Now, green laneing is all about lots of fairly gentle stuff and the occasional really tricky bit. Being novices we headed to Deadmans hill, a well known green lane.


The first bit was easy enough, if a bit foggy. It did get tougher at the hill itself, the ground was heavily rutted by the 4WD’s and ts steeper than the photos let on..


but we made it



We’ve done a few more since, but more often than not we ride up the sharrow, arse about there for a couple of hours and head home.

That said, this winter we’re planning on doing more proper green lanes… More to follow 🙂

Thats all folks

Bye bye Amy

Amy, for that is her name, is a 1975 Triumph Trident, one of the last of the line of British superbikes of the classic era. The trident was almost good enough to compete with the early Jap 4 cylinder machines, especially as it was develioped in the early 60’s and could have beaten them to market.

Amy is a T160V, built in 1975 along with the last of her kind but she wasn’t


sold until 1977 (the Trident has already lost the war with the CB750, Z1 et al)

I’d always loved the style of the Trident, but only the T160, The T150 did nothing for me at all…. So a couple of years ago, and before the E type came on the scene, I went trident hunting.

There are lots of suspicious bikes out there. Tridents are worth quite a bit of money there days so theres some jiggery pokery goes on with frames and engines, also some frames sell for silly money and I suspect these fuel the theft of bikers to be cloned. Amy was a clean as a whistle though. The chap I bought her from had spend 10 years restoring her to former glory and has the 1981 sales invoice from the sale to her second owner from the dealer.

Amy isn’t a sports bike but she is a lovely tourer in grand style and took me and my daughter Chloe on many decent rides into ther Yorkshire dales and beautiful coast lines. Never missing a beat on all the miles we rode….

1000208_10151961001027454_1530286787_n 1005209_10151961000367454_1841574909_n

Time is so precious though and with the advent of the E Type asll my spare time had been going there and poor Amy just didn’t get ridden anymore.

I needed to find her a home. Here be there dragons…

Finding an honest buyer, who turns up, does what they say, keeps their promises – rarer than hens teeth. I’ve had idiots, dreamers and insulters of all shapes and sizes. Dealers who are all over you one minute and then vanish into thin air and don’t answer emails the next – on that vein steer clear of “Classic Superbikes” I wont trust them again. His website warns that its “Not available to unreliable buyers & sellers” hmm he’d better steer clear of himself then!

Anyway, all turned out well in the end as a really nice chap came to look at Amy, made a fair offer, some light hearted negotiation later he had bought a lovely Trident, for a good price. I had found Amy a good home at a proce I was comfortable with. Every ones a winner!

Heres a couple more pictures…


T160V Tridenttriumph TridentTriumph Trident T160t160 trident



trident trident T150Bronco & TridentIMG_4587