Right, where was I. I got a call from Mike yesterday afternoon around 17:00 to say my bike was ready so I rode the scooter back and picked it up and went to bed happy. This afternoon I decided to take full advantage of my now newly fixed bike. I know, I thought, I'll head out for 45mins grab a coffee, a sarnie and look at the local tottie, head home and be happy. Well, it took four miles before the clutch lost pressure again (this is with the freshly replaced slave cylinder), to a very hasty (mostly angry) loop back around via some dual carriageways back to the dealers who looked rather surprised to see me. Still doesnt work I say. Okay not a problem, the fault must be in the master cylinder; We'll replace that for you at no charge (as the slave wasn't faulty in the first place). Great stuff, smiles all round. All back together and off I pop, back to my local High Street this time for the aforementioned coffee/sarnie/tottie combo. It took less than two miles for the clutch to loose pressure this time, so I turned around and headed back. About half a mile away from my destination, I was able to have the clutch pulled all the way in and still be able get drive from the engine, this led to the inevitable stall at the next see of lights. I couldnt get it out of gear, nor start it in gear as it was lurching forward, so the local drunk bloke on the bench outside Tesco got to see me freewheel it across the pavement, onto the service road and back to the dealer, all whilst sat in the sun drinking his Tennent's Super T. You should have seen the dealers face, he couldn't believe it. So to conclude. Like Thursday, I started the day with a Ducati and ended it with an Xmax parked in my garage. Not the best biking day, but not my worst either.
Well exactly two days after getting my bike back following the electrical problems, the Ducati is back in the dealership once again. Thankfully not because of the immobiliser problem that I mentioned yesterday, but this time because of the clutch. Despite having the fluid replaced and the system inspected, the clutch has lost all of its resistance, with the biting point being barely a cm from the bar. Maybe it is plate related, but whatever it is I hope its not an expensive nor a complex problem to sort. All I want to do at the moment is ride my bike, especially as the summer is coming to an end and its still fairly warm and sunny. After asking (and buying coffee for the guys) I was able to borrow a bike until the Ducati is fixed. Driving in Central London has been playing havoc with my left ankle as there is something to do with the angle/stiffness of the clutch pedal that inflames my tendons. Very annoying indeed, so without further ado, may I introduce you to my temporary steed. Yes ladies and gentlemen, its a Yamaha X Max 250.
In 'second bike' news, I've heard of a bike I could be very interested in that could be available fairly shortly. Its pretty much what I was looking for as a commuter, i.e low power, good fuel economy, low tax and especially low insurance which will help as I'm bound to get stung next year. I will keep you updated, but if the price is right e, the Ducati may just find a little orange trellis framed bike keeping it company in the garage.
The problem with the immobiliser is down to the antenne by the ignition barrel. For whatever reason the coded signal from the key wasn't getting through. The test for which reminded me of the movie Signs, as Artur wrapped the key in tin foil to block the signal. Another part on order. However, solve one problem and another one takes in place. This one is more serious and its a problem with my clutch. Ever since changing the entire clutch set up earlier in the year, the lever action has been really stiff, with the biting point taking up a few cm into the travel. At the start of a ride the lever is okay, but very quickly the lever gets very spongy. I had this problem on the way to the dealership and had the slave cylinder checked for leaks and replaced all the fluid as a matter of course. Arrived at work this morning and by the time I got to work there was no resistance in the lever at all and the plates were hardly separating. The ride home could be very interesting indeed. Did you know you can buy a Fireblade for £8k?
I finally got the call I had been waiting for, after nearly three weeks, my bike was ready. The day was going well before that too as I'd sold off my R&G crash mushrooms to a member of the Ducati Forum for pretty much what I paid for them. After a quick visit to the gym, I headed home, picked up my riding kit and then headed over the dealership. The bike fired first time and it felt great to be back on it, despite it taking a few moments to reacclimatise to the riding position and the feel of the clutch lever. After a brief second stop for some food, I headed home to clean the thing. This is when things started to take a turn for the worse. When cleaning the bike, I noticed a deep scratch in the right fairing. I'm choosing to believe that it was scratched in the AA van when it was taken to the dealer as Artur isn't that careless, but this was the least of my problems. Each and every time I clean the bike, I run it up to temperature to help dry it out and remove any remaining water. This time thou, the immobiliser kicked in. You have to be joking! I tried at least twenty times, still no joy. After a quick call, I had to start taking the bike apart to get access to the battery. This is when I noticed that most of the fasteners were different. I made a point of giving the originals to Artur so they wouldn't get lost, but the ones on the bike were different, basically bigger than standard. Weird. Must have a word with him about that.
Anyway, after a call from Artur, I found myself playing around with the battery, the radio antenna by the ignition barrell and checking the fuses, but it still wouldn't work, which left me in a difficult situation. My car was three miles away, parked close to the dealership and I needed to get to work in the morning. I would have to get it, so as time wasn't on my side, I put the bike back together, which is when something strange happened. The bike worked. I tried several times and it continued to work. I was seriously confused, but I had to get my car, so I marched off, angry and frustrated with the way the afternoon/evening had gone.
When I got back I checked the bike and again it worked, so maybe whatever the problem was it has fixed itself, but whatever the cause, it has left me feeling very uneasy. Having a reliable mode of transport is vital for me, especially as I start work so early. This is why I went back and got my car. If the bike won't start, I need transport and this is the wonder of having two bikes. If one won't work you use the other. Shame I've only got one at the moment. Must sort that out
After a weekend away with Sarah, I pulled the car up outside my house, got my bags from the boot, walked to the front door, turned the key and stepped over a few letters. The new issue of Bike had arrived, which made me smile, but I was more interested in the small white envelope that was poking through underneath. It was the letter I had been waiting for. Its now official, I only own one bike. The letter contained the cheque, which will barely cover next seasons insurance quote, as the final settlement following the theft of my Ninja. I guess I can now really start looking at those alternatives, but I still have a bit of time on my side, so there is no real rush. I guess, I have to re-write my homepage now.
Its a really strange thing to say, but not riding to and from work is starting to take its toll on my body, especially my left ankle which was fractured in four places in March of 2011. You would have thought that being crunched up on a sportsbike would cause the body to rebel, but for me, on journeys that are less than two hours, my bike is always more comfortable. On big trips away that require long motorway slogs, I tend to take the car simply as it's just easier, but if I can, the bike keys are the ones I pick up.
I'm not sure what causes my ankle so much trouble. Is it the stiff clutch in my car, or could it be the shoes I wear? What I do know, is that it takes about ten days of driving into and out of central London that really aggravates the achilles tendon in my left ankle, but I never get problems when riding, no matter what kind of riding I'm doing.
Having thought about it for a while and following the theft of one bike, I've ordered a Bike Trac tracking device. I never want to feel that sense of hopelessness again; that feeling that my bike has gone and I didn't have a clue where it was. A tracker should give me that feeling of security that I've after. Hopefully
I walked the three miles back to Metropolis on Saturday afternoon, ready to pick up the bike Mike wanted me to ride to Bikefest, a charity day run by Herts Fire and Rescue in Stevenage. Expecting to be riding something big, Mike instead wanted me to ride up with the Hyperstrada, which I had no problem with as I liked the Strada with its screen and slighty lower seating position. I didn't have to worry about the panniers either so I was happy and headed off to the petrol station. Thankfully this time I managed to escape without the aid of the AA Man, but this pleasure was short lived as when I got home I saw a nice nail sticking out of the rear tyre.
'Why I oughta.....' a quick call to Mike and a new plan was hatched. I returned back to the dealership, taking it pretty steady it has to be said, and rode off with the Hypermotard instead. Almost identical to the Strada except for the rear sub frame, screen and seat height. Also its an utter hooligan.
Sunday morning and I left the house at about 08:15 heading up through Potters Bar, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and Knebworth towards Stevenage. It was during this ride that I really noticed how snatchy the fuelling was, especially when trying to hold a constant throttle, coming down the box and using some engine braking. Less than ideal, so in order to smooth out the ride, I was thrashing it everywhere, which was, I will be honest, enormous fun.
I arrived around an hour later and after parking up, I wandered in and found Mike setting up, wiping the bikes down and getting ready for the day. I was actually really looking forward to spending the day there. Its always nice to talk about bikes with people, especially Ducatis. Spending the day with a friend also helps, otherwise it could be utter torture. We played around with the layout of our little area, which was really understated compared to those of BMW and Suzuki who were there being represented by two local dealers. Mike felt, and rightly so, that the Diavel Carbon would be 'the' bike for us, so flanking it with the Hypermotard and a Tricolour 1199 Panigale, we utilised a concrete walkway to stop the bikes from sinking during the day.
We broke out the old shop banner and tied it to the van, just so we could get the Ducati shield on display, I got the black coffees in and we were ready for the day. We met lots of very interested riders who, as predicted were really drawn by the Diavel, handed out loads of cards and pretty much just helped promote the brand and the location of the Barnet dealership.
With the clock striking 16:00 we packed the bikes back into the van, I suited up and headed home on the Hypermotard. Seeing as I have been without a bike for over a week, I took the opportunity to take the slightly longer way home, which is where I encountered the local council doing all it can to kill local motorcyclists by gravel surface dressing the A1000 just North of Potters Bar. If you don't know what gravel surface dressing is, its the cheapest and worst form of resurfacing. To do the job properly, the contractors peel away the top three to four inches of tarmac from the road and replace it with lovely fresh, smooth grippy tarmac. Gravel surface dressing is when you resurface the road with loose gravel and tar but without stripping away the original surface. It's designed to let the traffic 'bed' the surface in, which leaves absolutely masses of loose gravel and stones on the road, which are normally only washed away with heavy rain. Now this is great for cars and lorries as they created two distinct paths in the surface. Bikes on the other hand have to ride in the other vehicles wheel tracks, seriously restricting the available road space, especially on the bends. Evil stuff.
As I had the Hyper with me, I used it for work this morning. Hopefully the thunderous Termi exhaust didn't wake anybody when I left, but there's not a huge amount I can do about it now. After a fairly dull eight hours in the office I heading back out of the London, ready to deliver the bike back to Mike. With the correct fuel map installed, the Hypermotard would make an awesome city bike. Its fun, agile and quick. The only downside it that it encourages you to misbehave, the tank is tiny and there is no room for luggage. But lets me honest here, who needs to worry about that when the fun factor is so high. So at 13:30 I handed the keys back and my little two day biking oasis came to an end. I hung my jacket up, put my lid away and I now I'm back to waiting, waiting for my bike to come back. The part needed to fix my Ducati left Italy this morning. It feels like its been a long time, but it will be worth it I can assure you.
This months issues of RiDE and Practical Sportsbikes arrived this morning and I was fairly surprised, but pleased to see one of my letters published in Practical Sportbikes. I had written to the editor with the story of my Ninja in a thinly veiled attempt to get a free helmet for letter of the month. This wasn't to be the case, but I was happy to see it in the magazine as there is a good photo of the bike. The magazine has a much greater reach that this site (for now ;-) ) so who know, something could come of it.
This afternoon I'll be picking up a bike to ride to Stevenage in Hertfordshire on Sunday morning, where I'll be lending a hand to Metropolis for a show they're attending. I have no idea what I'll be riding, but the smart money is on a Multistrada. I say this as Mike has to get four bikes in a van and the Multi is by far the biggest one on the list. Should be interesting as I've only ridden one for about four minutes doing that ABS test at Donington in the pissing rain. I'll keep you updated.
I'm having withdrawal symptoms. Not only am I'm missing my bike(s) but its also the summer break for both F1 and MotoGP. Yes there is still a bit of BSB and WSBK action to be found, but I'm finding myself having to get my biking/racing fix by playing my new Xbox game and watching season reviews of the MotoGP from the last few years. It's almost pathetic how much I'm pining for two wheels at the moment. I am however, getting some satisfaction through helping a few people that I know who have expressed an interest in riding, mostly as an easy way to commute to work in the mornings. I've sourced a few links for some websites that have some really good content for new riders such as www.nlmct.co.uk which is the site for a great training centre in North London and the new riders section of the MCN webpage www.motorcyclenews.com/MCN/NewRider. If you're thinking about riding you should. Yes there are dangers, as a motorcyclist/scooter rider you far more vulnerable that if you were in a car or on the bus, but with good training and a good sense of your own self preservation, its a highly rewarding pastime or indeed lifestyle.
I got the new MotoGP '13 game for my Xbox through the post the other day. I started playing it and I'm really impressed. The game is much better than the last versions that (dis)graced the shelves. The last decent version was MotoGP08 which featured double WSBK champion James Toseland on the cover, which reminds me, I really must review that.
The game starts you off nice and slowly, with wild card rides in Moto 3 at certain rounds of the championship. From there you start to build your career through the ranks right up to a possible factory ride in MotoGP. If Cal can do, so can I, albeit only digitally and even then, I'm not sure I'd pick the big red monster as my ride. You can make the game as easy or as hard as you like and the racing is good. You don't get a machine straight away that is good enough to win from the off as in previous games, so there is a real sense of accomplishment as you go. Despite being able to set it to much shorter races, I'm going through the game in full season mode. So far I really like this game and it even has the English voice of MotoGP guru Gavin Emmett, who is the happiest man in commentary.
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.