Well I spent the day at the NEC on Saturday visiting Motorcycle Live and it was utterly packed. The general consensus agoungst my friends is one of disappointment, in fact, they've said that for the last three years, but for me, I think its really rather good and I always enjoy it. The only down side is that its a victim of its own success and as a result was utterly packed with people. I gave up looking at the BMW and Suzuki stands, but for different reasons. The range of bikes across the show was fantastic with great showings from Honda and Kawasaki especially. The Ducati stand was and is always good, but then I'm bias. The one stand I really did like, was the most basic and had hardly any people on it, but the EBR stand was a great thing to see. From the ashes a phoenix has risen and I would love one of their bikes to be sat in my garage. The bike of the show was always going to be the Kawasaki H2R, but I'll try and get a little write up on the site in a few days. Note to self though, next year, I'm going during the bloody week.
The day was pretty much your bog standard normal day in London. The weather was rubbish and the road conditions less than ideal. As my car is off the road for a few days, I had to use the FireBlade to go to the gym after work, which despite getting some funny looks in the changing room, was perfectly fine. Once done there I headed back into town to grab some food and have a read of the 50th issue of Practical Sportsbikes which arrived through my door yesterday. This is when it happened.
I parked up the bike opposite the store, on the other side of the road and made my way to the crossing. Before I got there I glanced back at my bike only to see a parking warden pull up next to my bike. So, as you would expect, I returned to my bike. What followed was a wonderful ten minute conversation with a man called Daniel about the wonders of the late Baba FireBlades. It not only turns out that I'm still perfectly fine to park my bike there, but that Daniel has been thinking about getting a 929 as a second bike. He was possibly the nicest man I met all day. See, bikes bring people together. There is no division, no hierarchy. You ride, therefore you are. Simple as that. I'll take my bike over social media any day of the week. Viva la revolution!!
Firstly, massive apologies for not updating the blog for over a week. Its been fairly busy with work and a few other things, so the blog has had to take a little back seat. Hopefully though, the next few days will be relatively stress free and normal service can be resumed.
I handed over the tail and tank to Mike last weekend and got a call, well a text actually, to say that I could collect them on Friday. Mike took these photos and sent them over and the when I got to see the work in person, I realised the photos don't do the work justice. Its just excellent.
As a result, an hour or so on Saturday afternoon was donated so I could get the parts back on the bike, which is now all back together under its cover in the garage.
As I felt I was neglecting the 'Blade a little, today I thought I'd address a niggling issue with the front brakes. I have been getting an annoying squeak from the fronts, and occasionally an un-nerving judder at the end of travel. So after my early morning coffee I set to work stripping the front calipers off. I forgot what a grimy job this was, but after about 45mins I'd got both calipers off and cleaned them up, inspected the pads, de-glazed them but scrubbing them up with a clean wire brush, copper slipped the backs and popped them back in. I pumped up the system and took the bike to the local petrol station for a test ride. The good news is the judder has gone, but the bad is the squeak is still there. You win some, you lose some. I'm putting this down to pretty rubbish pads, but as their stopping performance is fine and I don't and indeed haven't felt that there is any danger using them on the road, I'll wear them out and replace them if and when I see some decent pads at a good price.
Well, lets start with a little review of my Rukka gear. As you are aware (hopefully) I bought a pair of Focus trousers to go with the Matti jacket and I have to say that I'm very pleased with them both. The armour in both the trousers and jacket isn't too intrusive and is very securely held within the garments. The legs of the trousers are easily adjustable, which makes getting my boots on nice and easy. The two pockets are both deep and easily reached, but the best thing about the trousers are the braces. Bloody brilliant and they stop the bottom of the legs dragging on the floor when I'm not wearing the jacket.
The jacket is equally as impressive, warm too, and this is without the super thermal liner. Lots of pockets, two waterproof and all very deep and easily reached. The neck is really high and is excellent at stopping any draft getting past my Buff (its a neck tube before anybody thinks I'm being rude). You can adjust the width of the arms with poppers and the cuffs are really wide, which helps when getting gloves on. Which leads me nicely into the only two negative factors I have found with this combination. Those cuffs! Because they're so wide and even when using the Velcro tabs to make them as tight as you want, they're still drafty. This can easily be sorted with a pair of double cuff gloves, but that another £100+ I'll have to spend, which is a tad annoying. The second, which I'm fairly sure is just an issue with this jacket, not the design, is the zip that you use to tie the jacket and trousers together, is a major pain. It doesn't run straight, so the zip isn't easy to do up.
Although this is the 'basic' combination, it's still around £800 worth of kit and despite the niggles, its quality stuff. Totally waterproof with a Gore Tex lining and some well placed reflective patches. If you can afford it, go for it.
Onto more kit news. Yesterday I ordered myself one of these www.whyarai.co.uk/arai-chaser-v-guigliano-matt from www.sportsbikeshop.com as it was part of their seasonal sale., with £140 off. Bargain. My HJC is fine, but in the rain and extreme cold the Pinlock is well, rubbish, and since my crash back at Silverstone earlier this year, its the only helmet I've had and I need to see where I'm going. Its coming with one of those funny Pro Shade things, so expect to see that on ebay before the week is out.
Finally onto bike news. After draining the tank on Friday, I stripped off the tank and tail of the 1098 today and took them down to Metropolis to arrange a re-spray and I finally got around to getting my R&G crash mushrooms onto the FireBlade. I won't deny it, they look bloody horrible, but as I didn't have to cut the fairing, their practically far outweighs their cosmetic appearance.
Today was the last Breakfast Club held at Goodwood and today's theme was V power. Therefore one would have expected a great deal of Ferraris and Ducatis to be on hand. I was all ready to go myself, but then I checked the forecast. Yeah, I think I'll stay at home rather than ride for two hours in the rain, only to see a half empty grid. I know that that's not exactly the spirit, but judging by the amount of rain that has fallen this morning, it was clearly the right decision to make.
The 500th issue of Bike magazine is out in the shops at the moment and I've been working my way through it over the last few days, usually over coffee or lunch and when I got to the letter page I was pleases to see my name back in print...okay, not exactly in the the way I would really like, but its always nice to get a letter published. The basic gist of my correspondence was an open letter to Suzuki asking them to take a good hard look around the Intermot bike show, take notes and pull their finger out. I've never owned a Suzuki, in fact, I've only ever actually ridden one, a GS500, but that doesn't mean I want the company to stagnate. My biggest concern as a fan of bikes, is that effectively they're at least five, possibly ten years behind the times. In an era when BMW keep making their S1000RR even better and Kawasaki showcase a mental machine in the form of the H2R, what do Suzuki do? They give us ABS and a new paint scheme for their flagship bike. One that hasn't really changed, in fact, has probably got worse since the K4s and K5s. My fear is that by 2016 Suzuki wont be part of the big four in Japan. In fact, my fear is they will just become a badge stuck on cheap shoddy machine in a vain attempt to make them seem cool. MG anybody?
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.