Tuesday 31 December 2013

Best Wishes for 2014

Hogmanay 2013 and that's another year nearly over. I'd like to thank the readers of my blogs and wish you all a happy & healthy 2014.

Most bikers in the UK have their machines tucked up in the garage at this time of year. I'm one of the odd ones that keeps riding. Well, a little. I go to the shops etc and some short runs when possible. We have basically two types of winter weather - wind & rain or snow & ice. Its mostly been the former this year so riding has been possible, if a bit unpleasant, rather than dangerous.

During winter I use my Honda CBF250. Its light weight makes it ideal for roads that are wet and covered in mud & gravel. The FJs will make an appearance when the weather improves in April or maybe March if we're lucky.

None of the bikes have any maintenance or repairs planned so there aren't any "Tales from the Shed" in the pipeline, maybe I need a project.

I've no particular plans for the coming year bike-wise just more of the same. Riding the highways & byeways and bringing you photos & tales of anything interesting. Maybe more videos next year.

The CBF & myself on a Boxing day run to the Rest & Be Thankful


Sunday 29 December 2013


I came across  this small memorial, near a farm in the Gleniffer Braes (hills), a few years ago. It is to an American airman who was killed 70 years ago today. During the war aircraft were transported from the USA to Glasgow in crates by cargo ship then taken the short distance to Renfrew airport (then HMS Sanderling) for assembly.

The pilot was ferrying an aircraft to RAF Burtonwood, Warrington, the main US air base in Britain, when he struck trees in poor weather conditions. The memorial and the gap in the line of trees marks the location of the crash.

Lt Casey was repatriated and buried in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.

information on crash 

Saturday 21 December 2013

Shiny Beast

A very early start this morning for a visit to the autojumble at Scorton, North Yorkshire. Thanks to Malcolm for providing the transport.

Visitors' bikes - BSA Gold Star Scrambler & BMW R69

The highlight of the day was on the way back when we dropped into Penrith Motorcycles. The owner showed us his recently acquired Vincent that has everything chrome plated or made of polished stainless steel.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Past Bikes - 1980 Suzuki GSX750

By 1983 I felt that the GT500 was a bit crude and lacking power for the European tours I was doing. The GSX was my first big four and I really liked it. The bike was cheap and made a good tourer. It was smooth, reasonably fast, surprisingly economical, and roomy enough for two people and their luggage. The bad bit was the handling. I fitted a fork brace and a pair of Marzocchi shocks which improved things a bit. I also fitted a handlebar fairing for wind protection. 

Austria, 1983

Germany, 1986

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Tax Disc No More

The tax disc that UK road vehicles are required to display is being discontinued from October next year. The disc is proof of payment of vehicle excise duty (commonly known as road tax) The duty will still have to be paid you just won't get a disc in future. The tax disc is considered to be redundant because checking is now done by registration plate reading cameras. The disc was first introduced in 1921. 

An old tax disc from my CBF250. This is a "duplicate" because someone (ahem) did not propertly tighten the bolt that held the disc holder in place.

Sunday 8 December 2013

CBF Caliper Clean

If you're going to ride a bike through the Scottish winter then you're going to become an expert at servicing disc brake calipers. The rain, salt & muck that is flying about affects the caliper and eventually leads to them seizing up.

The CBF's caliper was ok but I stripped & cleaned it based on the principle that prevention is better than cure.

Looks a bit rough

Looks very rough

Parts to be cleaned up

The caliper cleaned up ok with white spirit & and an old tooth brush. I didn't have to remove the pistons.

The pistons are pushed back using a clamp

The pads have a little life in then but I've got a spare set ready.

The carrier gets a coat of paint
Caliper re-fitted

Wednesday 4 December 2013


Way back in the early days of this blog I mentioned the Kelpie horse statues at the Falkirk Wheel here. These were models of huge statues to be constructed at the Helix Park development centred round the east end of the Forth & Clyde Canal between Falkirk & Grangemouth.

The full size statues are now complete and I took a run over today on the CBF in bright & mild conditions. Work is ongoing in the area around the statues but there is a good view from the far bank of the canal.

Sculptor Andy Scott's website here

Saturday 23 November 2013

Fuel Stabilizer

With the FJs in hibernation I decided to fill their tanks (to prevent internal corrosion) and put in fuel stabilizer. The new bike won't be used until next April and I don't know when the old one will be back on the road. Advice varies on how long fuel lasts - seems 6 months is about the limit. The problem is that fuel oxidises and becomes gummy. I left half a tank in a bike for about 5 years and the tank above the fuel was heavily corroded and the fuel in the tap had turned to brown chewing gum. I've never had a problem with a bike stored without stabilizer over the winter but since the possible damage to carburettors is serious it seems like cheap insurance.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Past Bikes - 1977 MZ TS150

Used exclusively as a commuter in the early '80s. It was well made with deep red paintwork but dodgy 6V electrics. Hitting a bump could pop a fuse out and stop the bike. It was a basic two stroke design using oil mixture in the petrol tank for lubrication. I remember the bike most for my only big crash when I ran into the back of a car and ended up in hospital for three months with a broken leg - I've still got the limp 32 years later. It was also the cheapest bike I've bought - £70, I think. I couldn't have liked the bike much because when it stopped going, with an ignition problem, I gave it way.

I look quite happy under the circumstances - it must be the drugs

Monday 18 November 2013

Featured Bike - 2014 Brough Superior

Mark Upham, who runs a classic bike parts company, bought the rights to the Brough Superior name and has produced this modern version of the '20's/'30's bike. It has the Brough's distinctive tank & exhausts along with girder forks. The bike even has four disc front brakes to mimic the diameter of the original's drum. This prototype was built by French company Boxer Design using a V-twin engine developed by Akira (also French) The intention is to establish a factory in England to produce the bike.   

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Featured Bike - Caterham Brutus 750

Sports car maker Caterham have announced that they will be producing motorcycles from next year. The company is best know for building the Super Seven since the early '70's when they bought the rights from Lotus.

There are two electric bikes, one futuristic and one 20's retro, but the surprise is the Brutus. It has a 750cc single cylinder engine with variable belt transmission (like a scooter). The Brutus has huge balloon off-road tyres giving the look of a cross between a Rokon & a Suzuki Van Van on steroids. Also the bike can be converted into a snowmobile!

Super Seven
Suzuki Van Van 125

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Landmarks Challenge 2013

Set by "Mr Combo" earlier this year here

01 Blue - "Blue spot" calipers on my FJ

02 Chrome - Honda CBF250 exhaust

03 Red - Kappa top case

04 Green - green trees & green power?

05 Black & White - CBF at Loch Ard
06 Yellow - Field of Oilseed Rape

07 Nature - Rannoch Moor

08 Water - Flooding near Aberfolyle

09 Energy - Earlstoun Power Station

10 Technology - Grangemouth Refinery
11 Information - All you want to know about Royal Enfields

12 Something that makes you smile - Dull, Perthshire
13 - 12 O'Clock on the CBF's instruments

14 Old - New Hudson 220cc two stroke from the early 1920s (I think)

15 New - Ossa trials bike at Six Day Trial, Fort William
16 Narrow - Star Hotel, Moffat

17 Tall - CBF at the Glasgow Tower

18 Hidden - My Honda CB250RS c1985 - it didn't get me to work that day

19 Looking down - My bikes from my bedroom window

20 Shadow - Self-portrait on the road