March 02nd, 2014
Well today I've pretty much spend a few hours playing with my video editor again and have uploaded a couple of vids the yee olde Youtube. They're both a bit of an experiment really, just trying a few things out. As a result they're nothing special and are just two typical rides out of London after work. The first was a lovely sunny day on my old Ninja and the second was a rainy ride home on the 1098s. Let me know what you think.
January 27th, 2014
Very cold this morning so as the Monster has practically no actual weather protection outside the hand guards and heated grips, I used my rain suit as an additional layer in the cold. It may look a bit silly, but who really cares about that, I was warm.
In nicer news, I've finished editing my video clips and uploaded them to Youtube. So for your viewing pleasure (please excuse the rather loud wind noise in places) here they are.
First up is footage of my riding and then crashing at Brands Hatch.
and second is me riding my old ZX7R at Silverstone, which turned out to be the last time the bike and I would be on track together. Enjoy.
December 03rd, 2013
This afternoon I finally got around to fitting my new visor, with pinlock, to my HJC helmet. I managed to pick up the pair from Motorcycle Live for £30. The previous visor was quite badly scratched so this new visor should help, especially in the rain.I realised today whilst riding home that I'm still not 'in to' my Monster. I'm not sure if if was because when I took delivery of my ZX7R, I was house bound following my nasty accident, but I fell in love with that bike the moment I started riding it, but I don't feel that with the Monster. Maybe that's a good thing as the bike's main duty is getting me into and out of Central London. I don't understand it thou. The bike is comfy, has a good engine; which sounds great by the way and it has Ducati on the tank. That is normally enough for me, but there is definitely something missing. I'm thinking that its because I haven't personalised the bike in anyway. Everything is exactly as when I bought it and the only thing I've bought for the Monster is a new keyring.
I look at my 1098s under its cover in the garage and just yearn to ride the bloody thing, fast down sweeping corners, but I look at the Monster and feel nothing, nothing at all. It's a little unsettling.
November 17th, 2013
I just got back from a weekend in Birmingham with Sarah. The bikes stayed at home and I took the car instead. On the Saturday we decided to take in The Library of Birmingham www.libraryofbirmingham.com which is incredibly impressive. Seven floors of books, seats and work stations, silent rooms with the odd coffee stall all dedicated to the celebration of knowledge. The top two floors are admin, with a Shakespeare room at the very top, hidden down a few low corridors. Its an amazing place, really amazing and if I lived in Birmingham, I'd be there all the time. What has this got to do with motorbikes? I hear you ask. Well, on the second floor, just by the down escalator (its so big it needs escalators) you come to two rows of shelves dedicated to automotive repair manuals. Now, every library I've ever been it has had a few moth eaten and utterly battered Haynes manuals from the mid eighties covering a few old Fords, but these shelves were filled with every manual you can think of for a huge array of cars. It appears that if it was published, it could be found on these shelves. This impressive coverage encompasses motorbikes as well. I found manuals covering Ducati singles, twins, Bevels, that lot. It was brilliant. I checked under 'K' as well and as expected, I found manuals covering all the Kawasaki models. I did however notice that the manual for the ZX7-R was missing, which made me smile as somebody out there likes those bikes as much as I do.
August 12th, 2013
I took a call yesterday from that ivalidate place, the people who have been writing the insurance report following the theft of my Ninja. At the end of the second phone call, over a week ago, I was asked to supply the address of where the bike was stolen from which was missing from the file. I was able to get the address from Sarah about an hour later and emailed it over. So yesterday the call came in and it was the same woman who I had spoken to before, but she was still asking me for the address. Somewhat dumbfounded I explained that I had already emailed her the details and was able to give her the exact time that the email was sent. Her reaction was less than comforting. It turns out this has been dragged out for so long because of her. I'm not going to call here incompetent, because that would be unfair, but I am very disappointed with the whole thing. I'm glad that I have at least one alternate form of transport, although if I had a courtesy bike, I'm damn sure they would be dealing with the matter a lot quicker.
Still no news on the Ducati, hopefully I'll hear something later today, cross fingers
August 11th, 2013
I was reading through my diary yesterday, that's the kind of diary where I see what's coming up, not the kind of diary where I secretly express my love and affection for the chemistry teacher and I see that I had noted down earlier in the year, that the MOT for my ZX7R expired today. Not that it makes any difference at the moment as I still have no idea what is going on. I don't have the bike, the Police haven't found it and the insurance company have gone quiet. All very annoying. I spent some time yesterday looking at alternatives and the Van Van still interests me, but I've started having little doubts about the power and the practicality of it. What remains the same thou is just how cheap it would be to run and that is still a huge positive. Could I stretch the finances to get a KTM Duke 125? Possibly. It would certainly still rack up the fun factor and be equally cheap to run and insure. If I wanted to sell it on, there would still very much be a market for one. Its orange too, which is no bad thing, although if I had the money and I really wanted an orange bike, there are really only two options. I could stick with KTM and get a RC8, or get myself at 08-09 ZX10R. Now we're talking. Not the most common of winter hacks. Utterly impractical and expensive....bugger!
July 15th, 2013
I called West Midlands Police today to see if there was any news regarding my bike, but sadly the situation is exactly as I left it last Sunday morning, i.e the bike is still missing. I had my call with the insurance company this afternoon as well, which was a very friendly affair. They just wanted to ask me some questions about where I left it, when I last saw it etc. It didn't last long, but hopefully things will move fairly quickly from here.
In Ducati news, I picked up the paint from RS Paint in Welwyn Green and took it down to the garage and while I was in the area I picked up a replacement bar end from Metropolis. I spend far too much time down there me thinks. They reckon the painting may be all finished by Wednesday, which means I should have the bike back on the road before the end of the week.
July 09th, 2013
Still no news from West Midlands Police about my Kawasaki. I fear its now in pieces, which saddens me on so many levels. The theft of the ZX7R has really pushed me into getting the Ducati back together. I have already ordered a new carbon fibre belly pan and mudguard and today I ordered an Evotech open clutch cover. I tried to specify black, buy I have a feeling its going to be red, which will stand out like a sore thumb on the side of the bike. They sent me the invoice and the dispatch email in such quick succession that I was unable to alter the order, so I'll just send it back and get the one I wanted in the first place. Wouldn't get this from Oberon.
Today I dropped off the tank and nose cone to the painters, who will start the painting on Thursday or maybe Friday, so hopefully this time next week the tank will be back where it belongs. I do have to source my own paint thou. Speaking of the tank....yesterday I had to get the tank off the bike which in turn meant I had to drain the fuel. I didn't much like the idea of three and a bit litres of fuel pouring all over my garage floor, so I bought a syphon and removed what I could. What a faff that was, but it did the job well enough to justify the £7 cost of the thing. What I couldn't reach I just burnt off by leaving the bike running. Not exactly environmentally friendly, but I had precious few other options.
The only problem with the tank is that the stomp grips and the tank protector will have to come off, so I need to source those over the next few days. After a deal on a screen fell through I ordered up a Puig clear double bubble screen, from Amazon of all places, as a replacement for the Zero Gravity screen destroyed in the crash that one I only put on a few months before. I'm not too sure I'll like the lines of the screen, but they look good in photos I've seen and riders swear by them. Got to be worth I try.
Finally England is in the middle of a heatwave and I have no bike. A really large part of me is cursing the timing off all this, but a small part it very glad my car has air con.
July 04th, 2013
If you know where to look, there are signs that tell you may be pushing your luck too far. Today, I didn't have to look very far to see the sign and subsequently was reminded of one of the first rules of motorcycling, which is, always make sure you have enough space to stop. Today I got away with it. Just.
The car park in Central London that is the home for my bike for forty hours each week, has a cobbled entrance, not ideal when dry, potentially lethal when wet. Today was dry. I'd finished another uninspiring day in the office and I was riding out of the car park, where some workmen had pretty much blocked off the entire entrance/exit. It really annoys me when people do stuff like that. They don't seem to realise, or more to the point, care just how much disruption they cause. Anyway, a car was already stuck as they'd left about three feet of room, so I popped past the car, but was a little keen with the throttle heading up out of the car park. I was confronted by a massive black 4x4 coming down the slope (on the wrong side of the road too) and I just grabbed a big handful of front brake. The Pilot Road Three lost traction almost immediately and I could feel the front sliding alomg the cobbles. I though that I was either going to slide into the front of the 4x4 or drop the bike. Thankfully a third option presented itself and I stopped a few feet short of the bonnet, still upright. I was an idiot. I was going too fast knowing that the ground conditions were not ideal and I couldn't see far enough around the corner. I rode slowly around the side of the 4x4 and carried on my journey home, evaluating what had happened. Basically I got careless and when riding a motorbike, especially in London, that can be deadly.
I had an important phone call booked it at 16:30, one that if it went well, would have changed my life, so in the few hours I had spare after arriving home, I cleaned the Ninja in preparation for the ride to Birmingham tomorrow and I fitted those new Progrips onto the Ducati. Grip cement is nasty stuff. Its basically uber yellow modelling cement and I still have some stuck to my left hand to prove it. The grips look good thou, so it was worth it. Oh that phone call? sadly it didn't change my life, it was just another huge disappointment, but I was told some nice things and given some good advise. Once you fall down, you have to make sure you get straight back up again.
June 04th, 2013
Well I'm fairly angry with the brake light switch in the Kawasaki. The very day that the new switch arrived (the day after I ordered it) the 'faulty' switch started to behave itself and work properly. Now if only busted light bulbs would work the same way.
The weather is lovely at the moment here in London, perfect conditions for riding or driving out in the country. I really hope this weather holds into next week as I'm at Brands Hatch again with Tim and Ben on Thursday. Brands Indy in the dry is a serious workout for body and bike
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.