Sunday 28 October 2012

Book Review - Venture Into Russia

Venture Into Russia: Three Motorcycle Journeys by Lawrence Bransby (Kindle edition, £1.74 from Amazon)


Lawrence Bransby is a South Africian living in England who made three trips to Russia between 2006-11. All the trips were to the north western ports of Arkhangel & Murmansk.


The first trip was made on a 1971 BMW R50/5 with a route through Poland. The bike proved unreliable (electrical problems) and the trip had to be curtained at the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. The subsequent journeys travelled through Norway to the Russian Arctric. Bransby is an experienced traveller in the wild area of the world having riding through his native Africa. This shows in his writing where he copes well with the difficulties he encounters on his travels. He is easy to read because, in part, he remains cheerful in the face of adversity. An example was when he was detained by the authorities in a restricted military area. In a Kafkaesque twist these areas are not marked on maps or sign posts so you cannot know if you have broken the rules.


He also draws interesting contracts between the Russian people (friendly, generous, eccentric) and Russian officials (hostile, obstructive) and Norway (wealthy, clean, efficient, social but dull) to Russia (poor, chaotic, ramshackle, authoritarian but memorable)


A recommended read and a cut above the usual "what I did on my holidays" bike book. Only available on Kindle as far as I can see.   







Wednesday 24 October 2012

Yet More Autumn Pictures

This year's autumn colours seem more vivid than usually or is it just me? Anyway here are some pics from a run to Dumfries today.

Monday 22 October 2012

CBF Exhaust

I did some maintenance on the CBF today, changed the engine oil & filter and fitted its winter exhaust. The bike will be used through the coming winter and the finish is generally ok with the exception of the exhaust & silencer. The first taste of salt and the chrome starts corroding (maybe they don't salt the roads in the CBF's homeland, Brazil) I got a second hand exhaust from a breakers cheap. The silencer was badly scraped from the incident that presumably put the bike in the breakers. I keyed the chrome with an orbital sander and gave it a coat of high temperature paint and it came out well.   

Saturday 20 October 2012

Featured Bike - Adler MB250

This is an Adler MB250 from the mid/late 50's photographed at the Biggar show in 2007. The bike is a 250cc two stroke twin manufactured in West Germany between 1949 and 1958. It was the basis for the Ariel Arrow/Leader and, more importantly, the Yamaha YD1 in 1957 that would eventually lead to the hooligan two strokes like the RD350 I owned in the mid 70's.

Adler MB250

Yamaha YD1

Yamaha RD350

Tuesday 16 October 2012

HMS Queen Elizabeth

An 11,000 ton section of the aircraft carrier manufactured in Glasgow has been loaded on to a barge for transportation to Rosyth where the ship is being assembled. It's questionable whether Britain needs or can afford two 65,000t aircraft carriers (the biggest in the world outside the US Navy) but at least it brings employment to the city. 

Taken this afternoon

Monday 15 October 2012

More Autumn Scenes

Local autumn scenes today in and around some parks on Glasgow's south side.

 Pollok Estate

 Maxwell Park

Sunday 14 October 2012

CBF Wheel Bearings

My Honda CBF250's wheel bearings are not proving very durable. In the last year I've replaced the sprocket carrier bearing & a front wheel bearing. Now a rear wheel bearing has gone (at 30,000 miles) I installed a spare bearing I had to keep me on the road and have ordered a few new ones to replace the originals that remain on the bike. The bearings (should you wish to avoid them) are made by NSK, a Japanese company, who manufacture across the world. I've ordered SKF bearings.

Strangely this paste and little balls seems to be what's left of the bearing grease seal.

Saturday 13 October 2012


I just got a letter from my former employer, Glasgow City Council, fining me £30 for riding in a bus lane. This lane was recently created and is enforced (as I now know) by a camera. The letter includes pictures of me and the CBF flouting the rules. There was talk of motorcycles being permitted to use bus lanes, but this hasn't happened. In my defence note that the lane was totally devoid of busses.

 I'll follow the fashion and conclude this post with a suitable tune.

Saturday 6 October 2012

The Electric Brae

The Electric Brae is a short length of coastal road south of Ayr where, by an optical illusion, the road appears to be going downhill when its actually going uphill. Well I rode up and down it several times and I couldn't see it and you can tell uphill from downhill on a 250. 

This stone explains things

Maybe the cyclists get it

There are good views from the top (or bottom?) of the hill. Above is Ailsa Craig, an island 10 miles offshore, formed by a volcanic plug.

A panorama of the coast

Friday 5 October 2012

FJ Air Filter

I've stopped using my newer FJ for the year. This gives me to chance to catch up on some maintenance. The first thing I checked was the air filter. I'd noticed that recently the fuel consumption was a bit worse than normal. I while back I fitted a K&N filter from the FJOC. They said that it only needs cleaning every 50,000 miles. Well mine has done 35,000 miles and it's not a pretty sight! 

 There was also a cigarette butt in the airbox!

 K&N kit to clean & re-oil the filter (only £8, delivered)

 I used a vacuum cleaner to remove the big stuff

 Lots of muck washed out

 That's better

 Hang up to dry
 After re-oiling

Maybe I won't leave it 6 years years before cleaning again

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Autumn in the Highlands

A short run to the (near) Highlands today and snapped some autumn scenes.

The old pier at Arrochar with Beinn Narnain in the background (I think!)

A hairy local in Glen Douglas

Ardgartan Hotel on Loch Long

The "Rest and be Thankful" The old Military road is in  the centre, the new road on the hillside to the right. In recent years this has been affected by rock slides. They are erecting steel catch nets to try to avoid this in the future.

Monday 1 October 2012

CBF Fork Cap Bolts

A while back, whilst replacing a fork seal, I chewed up the head of one of the CBF's fork top bolts. "So what" I though I'll just get a new one. After all CBF spares are cheap, I replaced an engine casing inspection cover for £3.48, so the fork bolt should be about the same. Eh, no, they cost £65 each! I continued using the damaged bolt whilst looking for a cheap replacement. I eventually found a genuine Honda accessory for the CBF's replacement, the CBR250 for £18 a pair, new, made in Thailand. A check of the parts book confirmed that both bikes use the same part so these will fit. The bolts are garish anodised red and I though of repainting them but I'm going to leave them as is to remind me to be careful in the future.