Sunday 30 March 2014

Moto X

Today I went to a Moto X meeting at Penicuik.

The event was organised by the Scottish Twin Shock Scambling Club. The bikes were a mix of new & old.

TSSC site 

Thursday 27 March 2014

Past Bikes - 1984 Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo

In 1987 I traded in my GSX750 for the Kawa Turbo. The Kawasaki was the last, and considered to the best, of the Japanese factory turbo charged bikes. The bike was based on the GPz750 with a tiny (fist sized) turbo positioned in front of the crankcase. The effect of the turbo was dramatic. In 1984 the bike was (for a short time) the fastest bike in the world. Power was increased from 84 of the GPZ to 112. The was also a broad spread of power. It was flexible low down and the boost came in about 4,500rpm and then the bike really took off. Mid-range go was similar to my FJ1200.

I used the bike for touring, including my longest ever trip, a three week tour to Germany, Italy & France. The bike made a good tourer with plenty of power and reasonable comfort & economy. The bike also had air suspension front & rear that could be pump up to cope with the extra weight. Weight also had the interesting effect of making the bike more powerful! Climbing a hill two up with luggage needed more throttle, this caused more boost = more power.

On that trip there was a funny incident with the bike. In Italy I needed fuel and found a small town with plenty of service stations - but they all shut between noon & 2pm. It was just after noon and I didn’t want to wait. I looked at the map and found a service station on the nearby Autostrada. I though that this would be open so headed there. It was open, but the road crossed the Autostrada without joining it. With very little fuel left I had no option. I removed the tank and walked to the service station. This was a manned station and so I put the tank on the ground and asked the attendant to fit it up. He did without raising an eyebrow. I then just had to walk back with the now heavy tank,  scramble up the embankment, an refit it. I was dirty hot & sweaty but we were on our way once more.

NE Scotland?, 1988?

Stelvio Pass, Italy, 1991. I look underdressed for the conditions (2,758m = 9,048 feet)

Sunday 23 March 2014

Run along the Water of Girvan

A pleasant run today on the CBF250 along the Water of Girvan (or River Girvan) in South Ayrshire on a sunny, but cool day. The river is only 28 miles long but took me through some nice scenery with a few interesting discoveries.

The mouth of the river as it enters the Firth of Clyde
Girvan Harbour
A few miles inland at Old Dailly are the ruins of the 14th century church. This was abandoned in 1695 and seems to have been left untouched for three centuries.
There is also something unusual inside the ruined kirk. There are a pair of large smooth stones secured to a wall. There are several theories as to their purpose.

Two large smooth blue/grey boulders lie within the walls of the old roofless church and are thought to be Charter Stones dating back to ancient times when such stones were granted to communities in lieu of written charters and one reference refers to Dailly as a ‘Blue Stone Burgh’.

There are several traditions attached to the Old Dailly Blue Stones, one that in ancient times they were Sanctuary Stones and if wrongdoers, debtors in particular, placed their back against them they could not be apprehended.  

Yet another tradition claims that the stones are possessed with mystical powers capable of bringing good fortune to those who touch them and in some cases they have the power to cure certain illness and give a feeling of well being.

The larger of the two stones weighs between 290 and 320 pounds and the smaller between 260 and 280 pounds in weight.   Their smoothness and shape make them difficult for person to grip and over the years they have become an attraction for those wishing to display their strength.

Some the gravestones look ancient (note skull & crossbones)
Old cast iron road sign
Tranquil countryside at Aird Bridge, east of Dailly

Drumgirnam Bridge, 1799.
I like the "smiley face" keystone. "Comic mask" according to Historic Scotland
Old street water pump in Crosshill
Near Kirkmichael
Cloncaird Castle
The river starts from Brandan Loch, a reservoir. There is a rough track round the loch - The CBF is ok for some trail riding but I was too far from civilisation to risk a puncture or a crash.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Commuting by Motorcycle

During my working life I mostly commuted by motorcycle. This was considered eccentric by my co-workers. They thought that bikes were dangerous and uncomfortable - why not buy a car? But when I worked in Glasgow city centre bikes made sense. I could cut through the traffic and park free.

I usually had a commuter bike that was light and economical (eg my CBF 250) but what do other folk use? During my now weekly visit to the city centre I see that the bike parking bays are being fairly well used. The mild winter has meant that riders have been able to use their bike all year.

Today I took a run into town to survey the bike parking bays.

Sym Citycom 300, my CBF 250, Aprilia Caponord 1000, Yamaha Fazer 600, Kawasaki GTR1400 (Concours 14)

Trio in black - Yamaha XJ6 Diversion, Suzuki Bandit 600, Honda NC700

Two 125cc scooters, Suzuki Gladius 650, CCM 644, Honda CB500, Chinese 125, Yamaha Thundercat 600, Kawasaki ZXR600, Yamaha YBR125

Yamaha Thundercat 600

Honda PXC125


Suzuki GSXR600, Honda S-Wing 125

Honda CBR125

Honda Transalp 650, BMW K1200RS, Yamaha Fazer 600

My CBF, Suzuki VStrom 650, Suzuki Burgman 400

Honda CBR600, small scooter, Suzuki Bandit 1250, my CBF, Yamaha YBR125

Honda CB500, Honda CBR250, Honda CBF125, Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200, Honda VFR800, Honda CBR125

Piaggio Fly 125, two Honda CBR125s
It was a typical Scottish early spring day - dull & damp but mild. The sort of day that makes you wrap up well to ride, but soon feels warm & humid when you start walking about.

So my conclusion - well people use all sorts of bikes. Mid-sized bikes are popular but Honda's sporty learner bike, the CBR125, is the commuter king.

Also there are a lot of 125cc bikes & scooters with learner "L" plates that I take to be people who've got into bikes for commuting.