Saturday morning I creeped towards 500 miles on route back to Laguna Maidstone for the first service. Leaving early in the morning I took the extremely scenic route through Lewis, Chailey, Edenbridge and then across to Maidstone finishing up in the carpark at 497 miles. Not bad at all.
Once again I can’t fault the guys at Laguna at all, really nice people throughout. I dropped off my keys and was offered a cup of tea. The parts guys were great, I wanted to get replacement hooks for my Oxford rear paddock stand to replace the cups I got with it that were fine for the swing arm on the CBR600FABS but not very useful for the gixxer. They found the right bits and were cheaper than online! That never happens. Mark, who I did my purchase with spotted me across the showroom and came over for a chat and ask how I was getting on and I sat in a comfy chair, reading my book (finally finished Snuff by Terry Pratchett) until I was texted to say it was all ready.
With the sun out, I was able to dry off a little bit. My secondary objective for the day was to find a new helmet. I’ve had mine for a bit over three years and I’ve been really happy with it only I’ve now come to realise it’s actually too big.
Now the daft thing is, I should have worked out this fact from the sadly missed Simonchelli. When I first started riding I had longer, and in turn bigger hair. It was by no means comparible to the insane lions mane of Simonchelli, but it had some weight. Last year I decided it was time to do something different with my mop and started getting it cut quite a lot shorter than it used to be. I started to find that if I didn’t have a snood or balaclava on, my helmet had a bit more play with it. In the last few months I’ve also noticed that my ear plugs are playing up, only nothing with them has changed. It’s actually been because there is more play in the helmet and so the stalks are getting tapped on by the sidewalls.
So, I had two options, one being a schlep to Helmet City. Being in Maidstone I decided to head over to J&S who now live in the former home of Hein Gerrick. A young chap spotted me putting on a few lids and came over to help. What I am really looking for is an AGV Corsa to try, I’d already been in 4 shops and not seen one the shelf. Turns out, nobody really stocks them because they’re “high end”. I tried on an RPHA-10+ and it is a really nice fit. I think I’m sold on it. A small is 56 (my size) which seems crazy but it is proper snug and also quite light.
They had one with old Ben Spies livery down to £299. that’s pretty damn cheap, looking online haven’t seen it much cheaper. May be another trip to Maidstone in order.
After a stop off at Parker HQ to see the folks, I heading back to Brighton with an engine run in and daring me to give it a poke. Turns out, and after seeing the fastest laps from the Tyco team these week at the Isle of Man TT it rips away without any trouble. As with the CBRrr, and no doubt the Ninja 636, these in-line four 600s are designed to be ridden at the high end of the rev range and once you do that, they feel amazing. Problem is, it isn’t particular fuel efficient and by the end of Sunday I’d caned a full tank on a trip to Wessons, a great little biker cafe, then over to Battle and back.
The gixxer is agony in town. 3rd gear wallows and you can feel the chain starting to tug at 30mph. It’s made worse in a town like Brighton where the council have now reduced in-town speed to 20mph, it’s 2nd gear for most town riding which of course is then guzzling petrol. Get out on the nationals however and it is sharp. Acceleration is immediate and I still haven’t pinned the throttle all the way open. In the right gear it’s easy to change direction in the corners and it sounds magical.