So all that needs to be said now, is Happy New Year everybody and here's to a great 2014
I've written and published my review of 2013, which you can read over at 'Out there, Riding' if you follow the link above....hopefully.
So all that needs to be said now, is Happy New Year everybody and here's to a great 2014
Well I haven't seen my bikes in nearly a week let alone ridden them after spending Christmas week down in Poole. The weather was lovely and it seemed warmer than it should have been for the end of December. You want some proof? Okay, this was my view at lunch this morning. Nice isn't it.
Despite spending quality time with friends and family, my thoughts often drifted off to feeling the need for a ride. I didn't have to be a long one, but I felt a few times, especially when the weather was great, that despite the slight chill in the air, I just wanted to spend an hour or so on the bike. There should be plenty of time for riding comes the Spring, so I guess I can wait.
In a somewhat typical English tradition however, the day I'm able to get back on the bikes, the forecast is for rain.....for the next five days. Thems the breaks I guess.
This is probably going to be my last blog update before Christmas as I'm going to be using the car to get my into and out of London on Monday and Tuesday. This should permit me a quick getaway on Christmas Eve as I head down to the in-laws for five days of relaxing and quality time.
This morning I took advantage of the decent weather and free time and cleaned up the Monster, removed those horrid stickers on the exhausts and gave it a fresh coating of ACF-50.
On the topic of stickers, personally I think they have no place on a bike, with the possible exception of a rider logo on the screen. I know some are used to cover marks and scratches, but I just don't think the bring anything extra to a bike. Badges are fine and in my opinion should be cherished as you should never cover or remove a manufacturers badge. It has to be said thou, that both Kawasaki and Ducati have possible the largest badges on their tanks anyway. All the stickers I get, normally with the purchase of a new piece of kit, get stuck onto my Halfords tool box. Its no £2000 Snap On box so defacing it with the Alpinestars logo seems to work quite nicely. Anyway, here a picture of the now stickerless rear end of my Monster which looks much better for it.
Finally just a quick note to wish all the readers and visitors to the site a very Merry Christmas. Take care.
It was the Friday before Christmas, when all through the town, not a creature was stirring, not even a......well all except for the masses of people heading to Smithfield Meat Market this morning. It was absolutely rammed and this was at 04:40 in the morning! So many people who had no idea where to go. It was massively annoying frankly as I needed to get to work and they were blocking the access to my car park. The parking wardens seemed to be enjoying themselves, so I guess that's one thing. My journey had already gotten off to a bad start when I pulled into my local petrol station to find they had no fuel. I couldn't spend any serious time finding an alternate source and coupled with the closure of the A1 in Holloway, I was already late so you can understand my frustration at the market.
On a plus note, I'm really loving the way the Monster is sounding. That throaty grumble makes the bike sound a lot bigger that 700cc. Hopefully more pedestrians will hear me now and stop trying to jump under my front wheel whenever the mood takes them. I did managed to get to a petrol station on the way home within 10mins of leaving the office and managed to get a fraction over 13.5 litres into the tank, so I was in fact down to my last 500cc. That's cutting it a little too close even thou I could have got maybe 5-7 miles down the road before spluttering to a halt. I've run out of petrol once or twice before and I really don't recommend it.
Today I owe my friend a great deal of thanks. Today Artur, my mechanic, fixed my bike for me. You may remember that ever since getting the Monster the bike was back firing, a fault that was tracked down to perished rubbers on the intake manifolds. Well today after a few weeks waiting for parts etc, Artur replaced the intakes, allowing the bike to run as it should.
Whilst he was there, he helped, I say helped, he basically did it all himself, but he removed both baffles from the exhausts as well releasing that true Ducati sound. It took a good twenty minutes to 'encourage' the baffles out, but out they are. Me, I'm very happy about that, but I doubt the neighbours will be too chuffed. I'm sure they'll learn to love it thou.
Here are some pictures from today. I tried to sneak in a picture of Artur, but he kept slipping out the way.
As we all know, in the UK cycling has become the new football and therefore, everybody has an opinion on cyclists. Apart from the odd straggler, its pretty much a split between two camps; Cyclists and then those who hate them. Now as a 'vulnerable road user' I understand and realise what it is like to navigate a really busy city with usually on your chosen armour (clothing) and your wits to keep you from harm so I don't have a massive negative opinion on cycling, or indeed cyclists on the whole. Now I'm sure that this afternoon one particular cyclist will be telling his friends all about this 'crazy' motorcyclist in a hi-vis vest who deliberately tried to run him off the road. However I think that what the motorcyclist saw was much, much more interesting. What he saw was a man on a bicycle with no helmet, cycling the wrong way down a busy one way street with both hands of the handlebars, wobbling around towards the oncoming traffic whilst trying to tuck his shirt back into his trousers. Personally I thought I, sorry...personally I think by the sounds of things that the motorcyclist did very well to avoid an accident and that everybody needs to take a certain level of responsibility for their own well being. You know...just an idea and all.
It was raining this morning, which isn't really a problem, so I donned all my wet weather gear with the plan for keeping dry. I intentionally wore a lighter pro-layer under my leathers to help keep things comfortable, but by the time I had got the bike out of the garage, I was sweltering. An unseasonable 12 degrees meant that no matter what I did, I had too many layers on. Looking at the forecast the temperature looks like it will be returning to the seasonal average in a few days or so, but in the meantime, if I get a dry day, I may have been able to take the big bike out for a spin.
So after nearly a week house bound with the flu, today I went back to work, which more importantly meant I was able to ride again. Since the theft of the Ninja I have been using my Kreiga backpack to carry stuff too and from work, but personally I'm not a huge fan of carrying stuff on your back. Yes, sometimes it's the only option, but I worry about landing badly on it in the case of an accident. Negative thinking I know, but I wouldn't really want to break something in my back on my glasses case. With this in mind, I went back to using my tailpack today. Also by Kreiga, but a fraction smaller at 20 litres.
I mentioned before that I wanted to remove the baffles from the Monster exhausts, so I bought some proper external circlip pliers after finding the combination set I already had not up to the job at hand. The clips came off fine, but the baffles remained firmly in situ. I even warmed the cans up by running the bike for a bit. I'll have to investigate as they could simply be rusted in place. Tad irritating to be honest.
The Monster was supposed to go into the shop today to have the problem with the intakes sorted, but I got a call asking for the job to be put back until next week. Not too much I could say, so I agreed to bring the bike in next Thursday. Speaking of servicing, I have confirmed the date (weather permitting) for the 1098s to have its major Desmo service. 5th Feb next year. I had better start saving.
Sorry things have been a little quiet over the last few days. Since the start of the weekend I've been coming down with the flu, so much so, that I spent all day in bed today. I was supposed to take the Monster out for a spin on Sunday and remove the baffles from the exhaust at some point, but all that has been put on hold temporarily. Being ill is rubbish, but I doubt anybody would ever disagree with that. Hopefully I'll be back in the saddle in a few days
Whenever I have a free Saturday, you can pretty much guarantee that my day will start like this. A coffee, an almond croissant and a bike magazine. Lovely
I have to say, that when I'm alone, I do very much enjoy flicking through one of the many magazine I read whilst being bad to myself with coffee and pastry. Hey, its a tough life sometimes, but needs must.
Later I went looking for a new headlight bulb for the Monster. In typical Halford's style, they didn't have the exact bulb I wanted, but as I needed a replacement fairly urgently, I bought the only one they had, which was a Bike It light. For £3, I can't really complain, but I will be jumping on Ebay this afternoon to hunt down some of those Philips ones. Basically, they give a bike's headlight an orangish glow, which helps distinguish the light on the front of the bike, from the white, or blue lights of the other vehicles on the road. A simple but effective solution to a slight problem.
Looking at the headlight on the Monster, there are two screws on either side, that when undone, release the headlights assembly, allowing very easy access to the back. So, about three mins later, the replacement bulb was in and I was popping the headlight back on. Easy. A put a dab of threadlock on the screws just for good measure. Below you can see a few pics, with a lovely before and after comparison there for good measure.
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.