Monday, 16 July 2018

The Heap Ain't Getting any Smaller….

I've enjoyed riding my re-activated FJ1200 over the last 6 weeks but have had to deal with one issue of owning a heavy, powerful bike - they eat tyres. I had a pair delivered this afternoon and fitted the rear.

When you run three bikes, do a fair mileage and fit your own tyres you have the problem of disposal. I have an impressive pile of dead tyres at the bottom of my garden. My local coup (rubbish dump) wouldn't take them in the past but now do but charge £3 a tyre. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Featured Bike - Honda CRF450L (2019)

This recently announced bike has generated much excitement in the dirt bike community. It's a trail bike (dual sport to you Americans), a street-legal version of Honda's CRF450X motocrosser and CRF450R enduro. The bike seems to promise serious off-road performance and road bike versatility. The new Honda will challenge Suzuki's long-running DRZ400 and Euro exotica like the KTM EXC500-F. 

Honda CRF 450L

But enthusiasm for the bike diminished when its details became known. Firstly the power was quoted as 25bhp. Unbelievable since the bike's competition cousins put out 50+ bhp and the DRZ 39bhp. This figure seems to be an error by Honda Europe who mixed the bike up with the CRF250L. The real figure is likely to be in the 40's.

Suzuki DRZ400
Secondly the CRF's service intervals are distinctly competition bike - 600 mile oil changes and 1,800 mile for valve checks. The kicker was a scheduled engine overhaul at 20,000 miles. Again these figures are unbelievable for a dual purpose bike. The DRZ's intervals are 4,000 miles for oil & 15,000 for valves - the same as my SV650. The Honda's intervals only make sense if the rider was doing hard dirt riding only. Riders nowadays expect never to overhaul a modern bike engine. My CBF250 works pretty hard and had done 65,000 miles without an overhaul. 

Lastly, this competition heritage doesn't come cheap. Price in the US is nearly $11,000 - 50% more than the DRZ or Honda's own XR650L and about the same as the Honda VFR800 (Interceptor in the US)

There is no indication (that I can find) that the bike will be available on the UK market and at a likely £10,000 here it is not going to be a big seller. Still I'm interested in reading the reviews. 

As far as dirt bikes are concerned a favourite of mine was the Honda NC400 Falcon - never on the market here but a type of bike they just don't make anymore - and old fashioned trail bike.

Honda NX400 Falcon

Monday, 2 July 2018

Back on the FJ and a Simple Repair

If you follow my blog you'll see that I've been riding my Yamaha FJ1200 over the last month. The bike was unused since autumn 2016 but is going very well. I did about 1,900 mile on it in June and it was great to get the old thunderer back on the road.

I've done a little maintenance. I changed the engine oil & filter, checked the valve clearances (all ok) and put in new spark plugs.

There was one slight repair I did. The rubber tubes from the airbox to the carburettors had split. Luckily the ones on my old FJ (now a "donor bike") were ok so I swapped them.  
Both outer rubber tubes were split. This didn't effect running but would tend to make the bike run weak.

The airbox off my old FJ. Its tubes were in perfect condition. I soaked them in silicone lubricant for a week to make sure that they stayed pilable.

All back together

The bike has a K&N washable air filter. This is a great product but the 50-100,000 mile service interval is wildly optimistic.
Mine was pretty filthy after 7,000 miles. Restoration is simple (see here)

My old FJ selflessly donated parts to keep the new bike going.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Run to Ardnamurchan

Fine weather continues here so I'm back on the FJ. Yesterday I took my annual trip to the Ardnamurchan peninsular in the West Highlands. 

Welcome to the Highlands

Camper van from Germany



The West Highlands are choked with tourists at this time of year. The FJ easily gets past the coaches, camper vans and dawdling cars but I have another plan. I take the Corran ferry to the Ardnamurchan peninsular. Here I find quiet roads and solitude.

View from the ferry
Welcome to Ardnamurchan. My map shows that Ardnamurchan is the area at the end of the peninsular but the name gets applied to the whole peninsular.
River Gour at Loch Linnhe

The Caribbean or the Greek islands? - no - the west coast of Scotland!

River Shiel at Archarcle

Castle Tioram

Foxgloves seem to thrive in this area

Loch Ailort - biking roads don't come much better than this

This was a sad sight. A once grand building allowed to fall into ruin. Inverailort House (or Castle) is a very odd building. The oldest parts are maybe 17th century with multiple extensions over the years. Architecturally it's all over the place. No attempt was made to match any of the various parts. The obituary of the last(?) resident gives some of its strange history. here

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Borders Jaunt

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day so what better than a run to the Borders on my FJ.

On my trips to this region I often take this back road near Carmichael.

Here is a fine masonry arch bridge over the River Tweed north of Selkirk. It opened in 1831 and the writer Sir Walter Scott laid the foundation stone. It is thought that he influenced the design with the heraldic shields and the contrasting stone in the arch. It has been replaced by a new bridge but was refurbished last year as part of a cycling route. So well done Borders Council.

The view from the bridge

Another impressive arch bridge - the Leaderfoot Viaduct. This carried the Berwickshire Railway (now closed) over the Tweed east of Melrose.

The market cross in Swinton. Post Reformation these crosses weren't crosses. 
(Note that the church in the background has lost its steeple)

There is something odd here. The village green is marked out as a football (soccer) pitch with goalposts but the cross occupies the centre spot!

At Etal I find a poster for the upcoming re-enactment of the Battle of Carham. This battle established the Scottish border. I'm in England now and they're commemorating a Scottish victory? - how magnanimous.

Riding the back roads

Denholm. Another village green, another sports field (rugby) This time the monument is not on the pitch. It commemorates John Leyden, orientalist.

Also in Denholm is this quirky house. Called "The Text House" is has panels with the following:



Although the house only dates to 1910 the language is arcane. It seems to mean "time is short" and "others lived here before you and will after you".

In the Teviot hills. I always stop at this spot. My brother may shudder at this picture 
(see here)

A favourite back road of mine.

Talla reservoir

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

River Run - North Esk

Last year I took a run along the River South Esk and found much of interest. So today I visited its northern neighbour. We have been enjoying a long spell of fine weather and this seemed a good trip for my newly re-activated FJ1200.
The river rises in the Cairngorm Mountains of the Eastern Highlands and river flows into the North Sea north of Montrose. My run along the river is only 30 miles but there was plenty to see. 

My first surprise was the beach at St Cyrus. This is north of where the river joins the North Sea and is a stunning stretch of sand.

Beach selfie

Just inland there is the Lower North Water Bridge.
The Montrosians (?) must have been proud of the bridge because they erected this huge plaque. But East Coasters have a reputation of being stingy so maybe having spent the money they wanted everybody to know about it.

Adjacent is a railway bridge. The line is now closed and the bridge is part of a long-distance cycle route

In a farmyard I found this standing stone - The Stone of Morphie. Erected by the Danes…or maybe the Picts.

It has ancient carvings….. of Mickey Mouse, strangely

The river from Marykirk Bridge

Ruins of the Church of Pert


I am fascinated by old grave stones. The lower panel has the Latin phrase "memento mori" - remember that you have to die. The other text and the carving is a biblical reference (I think) - "the trumpet will sound and the dead shall rise to meet Christ Jesus in the skies" (???)

The Royal Arch in Fettercairn. Built to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria in 1861

The FJ gleams in the sunshine.

The upper reaches of the river - I can't get much further
The road ends at Invermark Castle
This splendid building is the library and public hall in Edzell. It just shouts Scots Baronial