So there I was yesterday, in the bath reading the first few pages of the latest issue of Performance Bikes magazine. The first article was written by Jon Urry and it was all about the £5500 Yamaha MT-07. Now I've read about this particular bike in both RiDE and Bike magazine, but whilst sat there I had a thought. 'I wonder if this MT-07 is available on a PCP finance deal?' Now for those who don't know what that is, its when you put a small deposit down and then pay low monthly repayments for two to three years. You can either then buy the bike outright, give it back, or use the value of the bike to get another brand new bike. I checked and if I put down £1500, then I could have a brand new bike for £80 a month. That's almost only one tank of fuel in the car. No need to worry about major services, nothing going wrong, but if it does, everything will be under warranty. A funky little run around for £80 a month. That's serious piece of mind. Tempting doesn't quite do it justice.
Its my girlfriends 30th birthday in a few weeks and she absolutely loves the Primrose Bakery. www.primrose-bakery.co.uk. She has been talking about getting a specific cake for ages, in fact she rarely stops going on about it, so as the good boyfriend, I headed over to Primrose Hill after work and ordered up the cake for her. She's going to love it and I can't wait to see her face when I bring it down to her parents house on the South Coast. Sadly through, there's no way I can carry the cake on the bike, so I'll be in the car. Which is handy really as this what happened to the two cupcakes I bought after they'd been in my backpack for twenty mins on the ride out of London. Still bloody delicious through.
I had a great day out on the bike yesterday. Sarah was stuck in Birmingham as she was training for her forthcoming 'summer of running' so I had the weekend free to play about, which is exactly what I've done. In order to get some decent road time under my belt I left the house early doors yesterday and spent the morning hooning it around the home counties.
I rode out of London and headed West. I skirted Amersham and Chesham, rode through Aylesbury and ended up in Oxford City Centre where I stopped for a sarnie and vanilla smoothie in Cafe Neros. There were some bays outside and a few cars had stopped so I parked up and looked around for signs which indicate the parking restrictions. I couldn't see any, but I knew that as Oxford was one seriously car unfriendly place, there had to be some somewhere. I decided to risk it as I was only going to off the bike for a maximum of 10mins. Just after my sandwich arrived the parking warden arrived. Sh#t!!.
I hopped out of my chair and headed over to plead my case. He was probably the nicest civil servant I have ever encountered. I explained that I was just grabbing a bite to eat and I that I couldn't see any parking restriction signs. It turns out one was mounted on the wall between the shops right behind me. In London, they're normally on poles and I'd simply failed to spot them. What an idoit! He asked me how long I was going to be, to which I replied less than 5mins, which was true and he said, okay, that's fine no problem and he scrapped my ticket. I asked about the motorcycle bays for future reference, but I was left with an overriding feeling of thanks and gratitude. He could easily have been a jobsworth, but he was a really nice bloke. I guess i didn't hurt that I was polite to him and didn't go off the deep end.
The rest of the mornings riding went well and after a brief stop at the Ace Cafe for a cuppa, he I got home just as the fuel light came on. So this morning, after cleaning the bike last night, I made a quick run to get some fuel this morning. Traffic was already far to busy to think about going for a proper ride so I just stopped for morning coffee and headed home. I then noticed this.
Somewhere on this mornings very short journey, my clutch reservoir cap made a break for freedom. I can't comment whether this happened by chance, or if it had a helping hand, but as it's Sunday all the dealers are closed, but thankfully my mate Dave, who lives just around the corner and owns a bright red 1198, is going to lend me his cap as he wont be using his bike this week. Thankfully no fluid spilled onto the paint, which is very handy for me. Knowing Ducati though, this is going to cost me £20, which I suppose its one way to boost the Italian economy in these tough times.
Crikey, has it really been a week since I've updated the blog? Thats terrible of me. I must confess that there hasn't been a real reason for it, its just that 'real' life has been getting in the way again.
In short, my clutch has been behaving itself which is a massive relief. I'm still a little worried about it, but I'm sure this will reduce over time. Its been bloody cold first thing this week and I've got to work a few times without being able to feel the ends of my fingers. Despite not gelling with the Monster, at least I had heated grips fitted.
In the only other piece of bike related news, a friend of mine of the Ducati Forum, Alistair, invited me to join him at the inaugural filming of the BT Sport live MotoGP programme. Despite working in the media now for 'cough' over 15 years on and off, it was the first time I'd spent any serious time at a TV studio. I saw some familiar faces, namely Tim Thompson of MCN and Bike magazine fair. I said hi and he was kind enough to spend a few minutes chatting with me. Nothing too heavy, just a casual chat really.
Before filming began, Alistair and I sad down for some food and drink and just talked about all things bike. From our Forum, to this years MotoGP to the way the the Ducati trackdays of last year were handled. The hour or so, just flew by. He's a good man.
Once inside we were given instructions by the floor manager. Basically stand here, clap here and be excited. The programme was pretty cool to be honest and it was certainly the kind of thing I would watch. The star rider was Scott Redding, who I have to say was excellent on the show. When you think about it, most of a racers time is spend doing PR stuff like this, but he's very well paid (I assume) so i'm sure it's not too much of a hardship.
I even managed to learn something about bike control on the evening. BT Sport have this 'bike' called the lean machine and I was lucky enough to be standing right next to Redding when he was on it recreating a lap of the Circuit of the Americas. It was basically just a 'lets watch a real racer play on this oversized playstation' but watching him on the bike I learnt so much from watching his body position, to how how pushed the bike back upright out of the 'turns' to how he leant of the bike. Its highly unlikely that I'll be able to be that close to one of the best racers in the world when they are riding and that alone was worth the 3hrs sleep that I got that night before having to get up for work the next morning.
A big thanks go to Alistair for the invite and to BT Sport for delivering on their promise. This years MotoGP races look to be getting the coverage they deserve.
Well its been an interesting couple of days. On the way into work on a pretty chilly morning, my clutch started to slip and slip really badly in the lower gears. This didn't bode well for the afternoon ride back, which indeed, was a fairly 'hazardous' affair. I really don't know why it dropped off so quickly, but that is exactly what it did and I really struggled for any kind of drive when pulling away. To keep things safe I didn't filter to the front of the queue for the lights and tried not to put myself in a position where I would have to get out of the way pretty quickly. Easier said than done. A quick call to the dealers reserved the only clutch pack they had in stock and £200 later, I had the replacement I was after.
Replacing a dry clutch is, or should be, a really easy task. Fairing off, clutch cover off, unbolt the six clutch springs, remove the pressure plate, then replace all the friction and steel plates in the right order and then bolt everything back up. 25mins max. However, for me something looked wrong.
Ignore the fact that it's absolutely filthy, but in the second and third pics about you can see that the final steel plate is almost at the end of the clutch hub (the big round serrated thing in the middle), which means there isn't as much room as there should be for the pressure plate. You can see this as all six spring caps are recessed into the pressure plate. In my experience its should look more like this.
So on the first picture you can see there is more room on the end of the hub, which, if you click on the second picture you can see that the spring caps are further out. Now I could be wrong and I could be worrying about nothing at all, but I am worried about that final steel falling off the hub when riding, which could result in all manner of problems, least of which could be a lock up sending me into the nearest solid object. I want to avoid that if I can.
I've been out on the bike a few times now; a test ride in the afternoon and to and from work today and the bike runs fine and there is frankly a savage amount of grip from the clutch. At one point I was in 2nd gear coming out of a 30mph zone into a National Speed limit and pinned it. The bike just revolved around the rear tyre, the front came up and off I shot down the road in a hail of noise and speed, much to the surprise of the bloke in the van who was tailgating me. So it clearly works.
I'm going to have a chat with a few people in the know and see what they say. The way I see it, is I need to remove one of the steels within the stack to get the amount of room I want on the hub. The stack starts with a double steel and if that there just to fill space, then there shouldn't be any negative effects by removing it. Watch this space...if you excuse the pun.
Well today, the rain came back. Not much, but just enough to remove all grip from the road surface, which as you can imagine, made my ride home a barrel of laughs. The main 'moment' to use racing terminology, happened when on a dead straight piece of road, under modest acceleration. This when, for whatever actual reason, the back wheel stepped out on me to the left, probably only six or seven inches or so, but as these things usually do, it felt a whole lot more. For the rest of the ride the back of the bike felt really loose, like the spinning of the rear wheel had in fact polished the rubber on the tyre, giving me even less grip. Thankfully, nothing else happened, but it is certainly a good reminder that the roads are often at their worst after, or during that first rain fall after a period of good weather.
I am writing this letter to you today as a mark of my thanks. You hardly know me, we've only met the once, but I can say with a great deal of certainty, that for me, it was has been a life changing experience.
After a reasonable journey, you met me and indeed my friends with open arms. Your people treated me like a distant cousin, happy to help, even with those most stupid of questions. Your car drivers gave me space, were considerate and even at times admired the fine stead that I had chosen to use for my journey. Your bikers were first class; every one of them raising a hand in greeting as they acknowledged a fellow member of that most liberating of clubs.
Parts of your fine land reminded me of home, but I did not feel homesick, for I felt safe. Your villages and towns were beautiful with some of the most exquisite buildings taking centre stage amongst the delightful cafes and bistros.
The air was clean and fresh; the sky was the bluest I've ever seen and your food was devine. Your major roads are a marvel to behold. Smooth flowing ribbons of tarmac made riding beyond enjoyable and the country lanes tested my riding to the fullest, but maybe that could have been my bike settings more than a fault of your own.
Let me conclude by saying I will be back to spend more of time embracing your culture and enjoying the hospitality of your people
Until next time
As I'm off across the channel tomorrow, I needed/wanted to do a few things this morning just to ensure the 1098s was ready. This basically included a wash, checking the tyres and softening up the front a few clicks. Whilst I was out there, I cleaned up and Monster, gave her a good wax coating and them promptly took her up to Metropolis ready to be sold.
Instead of a 100 mile ride through the countryside, our final ride was just a little 15 minute bimble up the road in a pair of jeans. Sitting here now, this will be the first bike (with the exception of the ZX7-R of course) that I actually passed on that was still in working order. The Hornet and the Z1000 both came to an unfortunate end.
Looking at the pictures above, it's still an attractive bike. The red frame really sets off the black body work, but despite looking good, deep down, I know that moving the bike on is the right decision. Our time together was short and the sound track was amazing, but sadly she had a huge mountain to overcome and that mountain sat next to her overnight.
Warm and sunny. For a biker, those three words are heaven sent. They are up there with 'I love you' and 'would you like a cup of tea?' Despite being 'chilly' overnight with a bit of fog in the mornings, this week has seen the weather turn decidedly lovely, which has given me a real chance to actually ride the big bike following the Desmo service at the start of February. The bike feels smoother and incredibly responsive on the throttle and although the slow speed stuff is still a strain on the left wrist, when getting a wriggle on, it feels brand new.
As part of my New Years promise to myself was to ride more, this weekend will see me riding the 1098 over to France for the day, which will also mark the first part in my preparations for my July trip to Italy. As I've never been, I'm really looking forward to it. I mentioned this to my love and she couldn't quite believe that I've never been across the Channel. So despite popping over the Canaries a few times over the years, this will be the first time my humble feet would have stood on mainland European soil. Just hope Europe is really for my size 11s.
In the words of Penfold, Dangermouse's side kick 'Cor blimey chief'. Has it really been five days since I've actually posted anything. Sorry about that. That's just not on. So without further ado, lets get on with it.
I got a call from Sutton Coachworks on Friday saying my wheel was ready, which I was very pleased about. I couldn't get up there on the Friday, but rolled the collection in with a weekend trip to Oxford. Below are the before and after shots.
Now who can spot the problem?
Those eagled eyed amongst you will notice a distinct lack of red paint around the rim. Saying that, the new black is extremely deep and really rather gorgeous. I would kinda like to have both wheels like this, but I can't be bothered with shipping the front off, so to match them up, I've ordered some rim tape to replace the original painted on finish.
Now that the wheel is back on, tyre and all, I spent half an hour this evening getting the fairings on so I can take it out tomorrow. I'm probably going to ride it to work ...well...just because really.
With the weather getting better, the sale of the Monster gets ever closer. When I have some time, probably Friday now, I'll get down and clean her up in preparation. Its a shame as I really wanted to like the little bike, but I've just struggled with a few niggling little issues.
The big day on Friday went well, but I can't say anything just yet and a certain piece of exciting news, is now over a week overdue. I'm not sure on the protocol and whether I'm aloud to prod them to get a result, but that's just the middle class Englishman in me holding back the impetuous youth that lurks beneath the skin.
Finally, in shameless plug mode, my good friend Mike, who designed my logo, has asked me to help plug/support the childrens book his mother has written. It's aimed at the 8-12yrs old market and is called The Company of Goblins. The website for the book is www.thecompanyofgoblins.com.
I'm going to buy one and if you're stuck with an idea for a present, or anything really, give it a shot. Thanks
Plug over :-)
With the exception of one morning this week, the weather has turned mild. It looks like the winter that never was (minus the awful flooding problems of course) has come and gone and we are looking straight down the barrel of Spring. So it comes as no surprise the find out that my 1098s is still stuck in the garage minus its rear wheel. I'm really not exactly happy about it. If I'd known it could/would be at least three weeks then there is no way I would have taken it to Sutton Coachworks. I'd have found an alternative. All I want now is my wheel back, in a condition I'm happy with, then after that, I want nothing to do with them again. I'm very very disappointed.
Anyway, onto nicer news. When I got home this afternoon I had a Ducati branded A4 letter waiting for me, which was the confirmation of my two Ducati trackdays at Donington Park and Silverstone, which are this year being run by the team at Calafornia Superbike school. I'd already met two of the riders and Lynn, who arranged the booking when they held the Ducati Strada tour in the summer of last year, so it will be nice to catch up. Hopefully both days will be dry...unlike 2013.
The drawstring on my SMX plus boots snapped inside of of my boots last week, which although annoying, I'm looking into getting them repaired or replaced. I'll keep you updated.
Big day tomorrow, but don't want to say too much. Hopefully more news to follow.
My name is Matt Brown and I'm a UK journalist formerly based in London, but now calling the South of England home. I've been riding bikes since 2007, but got hooked straight away. Nothing gives me the feeling of freedom, even when stuck in a city. In 2010 I became a RoSPA gold rider, but when it comes down to it, I'm Just a normal man, riding his bikes as often as he can.