All change! New bike purchase Yamaha R1

It was time. I’ve been contemplating the move to a new set of wheels for  most of the year and held back because I wanted to take a few things out. It started off with Suzuki day back at the start of May where I took out the 2015/16 Suzuki GSXR1000 for a test ride. I don’t know if it was the bike itself or the circumstance in riding in a group but it felt lifeless, somewhat dull and more than a disappointment.

Shortly after that I took out a 2008 Yamaha R1 and was taken back by how comfortable I found it. The riding position was nowhere as extreme as many make out it to be, bars are quite wide and the seat more than enough room for me and to move around on.

Shortly after that can a trip to Snowdonia, travelling with a group of Adventure riders, I held my own on some very questionable terrain and narrow mountain passes. The experience still wasn’t enough to make me want to say yes to the world of upright bikes and cumbersome all terrain monsters like the Triumph Explorer or the recently revived Honda Africa Twin.

That was all until an ad for Yamaha’s Darkside tour going to Boxhill for a day of test riding the all new Yamaha MT-10. It had to be worth a go right? Instead of wasting an entire day at a cafe, I hooked up with P&H Motorcycles in Crawley, to take one for a spin. The experience of a crossplane crankshaft really is like no other and by the end of the ride I was left in a predicament. The MT-10, not only is one beast of a machine, it’s immensely affordable. Retailing at £10,000, with a £1,000 deposit you can be walking away with one for just £119.00 a month on finance with the insurance being near enough the same for the year fully comprehensive.

But then ebay turned up a suprise. Fastlane in Tonbridge have been around longer than I have; having grown up in the street behind the workshop. I’ve been looking for a 2009 R1 in good condition for a few months and every time one local appeared that was worth looking at they were gone before I made the phone call. I wasn’t taking that chance again and so I headed over and traded up. Didn’t even fire it up, I just knew it was time, and the right one. Turns out I got more than I bargained for..

I’ll do a full rundown video in the coming weeks, but let’s just say I don’t think the guys at Fastlane knew exactly what was under the hood.

You can find all my Motovlogs, including the various bike tests on my Youtube channel.

Vehicle tax renewal – the greatest online experience?

I’ve just renewed the tax for another six months of glorious motorcycle lifestyle; although the number of weekends I’ve been out are outweighed by the number I have.

Now we no longer require a visible tax disc in the UK, the ability to pay online has become even easier, so much so that the only thing the form requires is the payment card details! It was truly amazing experience and was over in less than 5 minutes. It asked me if I wanted to provide my email address and my phone number, both of which were optional, and only if I wanted to receive a copy of the payment receipt; which you can print at the end of the transaction if you wish to.

Getting my knee down

Still in the process of running in the new Suzuki GSX-R600, and with the sun beaming this weekend I arranged for a long trip to get some miles down with Parker Snr. It ended with me getting my knee down.

Not so shiny anymore, first scuffs on the RST Tractect Evo Pants knee slider this year.

Only trouble was it wasn’t the knee down experience I was expecting. We were maybe 40 minutes out of Brighton, and had been held up by a handful of back markers on our way to Loomies, a popular bike and car enthusiast stop point in the back roads of Hampshire and just about to get into a good session when things took a different turn.

Taking a casual sweeping left somewhere between Horsham and Cornwall I heard a strange sound. It was like a mallard with its neck trapped inside a six-pack plastic ring. Checking the mirrors I briefly admired my elbows (darn those Alpine elbow pads look good), before pinching my body in to make the Gixxer rear viewing devices remotely usable to see clear road trailing behind me.

OK, maybe I missed the turn, but I am sure I didn’t see an indicator on my last rear check. Didn’t I?

Parker Snr's Triumph XE makes an impromptu front-end blowout.

Turns out my observations were spot on! Sadly, the inner tube on the front wheel of Mr P Snr’s Triumph Explorer was not as it blew out at I reckon about 40mph.

The great thing about travelling around with a touring rider is that they’re laden up with all kinds of gadgets, gizmos and spares. Ironically, a front inner tube was not one of those, just one for the rear. He masterfully was able to bring it to a half at a junction just a few yards before the bend I’d lost sight of him on and this is where we stayed… for some time.

But all was not lost. We had tools, we had a puncture repair kit and cans of compressed air. It was time for some roadside repairs.

With the front wheel out we begun hunting for nails, thorns, broken glass shards, something to have caused the puncture. Nothing.

And here’s where the knee sliders saw the tarmac. Knelt on the roadside, with tyre irons in hand and some strange blue grippy thingys, we got the tyre out the way to find that the inner tube just didn’t look right. Half was sitting on the wheel rim, the other was lost up in the echelons of the tyre wall.As we pulled it out we discovered it was twisted.

The only explanation to this is that it had been fitted incorrectly by the last person to do anything on the tyre. It was basically a ticking time bomb, it would have happened at some point in time and we’re just lucky it happened at a relatively low speed with no traffic around. Front end blow-outs are the hardest thing to recover from, all your control is completely gone, no idea how he did it but the guy is as skilled as any experienced distance rider.

Come on, let's get all the tools out. Tyre irons at the ready.

Where the twist was in the inner tube the seam had split. As anyone with a push bike will know, these can be a real bugger to fix. We glued it up and slapped a patch on it and left it to dry gassing about nothing in the mid-day sun. With some brute force and creative thinking we got the inner tube back in the wheel and popped the tyre back into the rim. I had the idea of using the wheel seal can to give us a bit of double protection. That way if there was any stress with the split, we could cover and seal it from the opposite side of the puncture band aid. Something didn’t look right as we pumped foam into the tyre but it didn’t inflate at the same time. The idea of these cans is that they give you enough LB’s of pressure to be able to ride to the nearest garage at low speed and get some air in.

With the can completely expelled, Parker Snr, connected up one of his canisters of compressed air. These little bullets are so handy I may have to investigate them myself. Only it wasn’t our friend today and with one push on the nozzle the valve in the inner tube went bang with quite a racket.

It was game over.

Almost 3 hours before a recovery truck could get to us, I’m just glad that it wasn’t shitty weather otherwise it would have been a totally different story. Instead, I learnt how to get a front wheel out, how to fix a flat front – although I don’t have tubes, all my bikes to date have been tubeless which makes life far easier, and we got to have a good old natter about sweet FA in sunshine with plenty of bikes blasting past, and a couple were good enough to swing back around and check we were OK.

A trip to Loomies will have to wait a few weeks, next weekend is going to be very interesting indeed. Watch this space.