Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Scotland 2014: Preparation

Scotland 2014: Preparation
I am aware that there are still a few days left to talk about with the Pyrenees trip from last year, but I am hoping I can keep on top of the Scotland one this year, starting with our preparations!

The great thing is that this trip hasn't taken anywhere near as much planning as the previous two years. For starters, the route has been decided by Emma so I haven't had to get too involved there, we are not camping so packing is a lot smaller and we are still in the UK meaning no extra breakdown cover or worries about finding a garage and so forth.

The Route
Compared to last year this is a shorter trip - only 8 days compared to I think 15 or 16. However, as usual we haven't been stingy on miles with almost 900 miles alone taken up with getting to Scotland and back again. Our main destinations/overnight stops are as follows:

  • Edinburgh
  • Dundee
  • Brora
  • Ullapool (via John O'Groats)
  • Fort William
To break the trip up we are are spending 2 nights in both Edinburgh and Fort William. I will post each route as I hopefully manage to update the blog on a daily basis but here is a map of the entire journey.

Bike Preparation
Other than the usual bike checks for any type of journey (tyre pressures/tread, chain adjustments, lights etc.) we have had a couple of things that have needed to be sorted before we go and have been staying in Billericay where we can get these things done.

On Emma's bike she has needed to rebuild her front brake callipers and replace the pads as well as bleeding the brake system. Her brakes have had a few issues recently and it was important that this was addressed. In addition to this she has also completed an oil change and polished up her spark plugs - which of course in a curvy SV there are only two to do.

This is the first time I have taken my blade away on a fairly lengthy trip so there was a couple of things I wanted to add. I ordered a motorcycle power cable for my Garmin Zumo 550 sat nav (approximately £15 on eBay) and asked the local garage to wire this up to the ignition for me. I also ordered a RAM mount from Telferizer (£28.50 plus £4 shipping for a CBR 900 RR3), which I fitted myself. I will add their link to the links section on the left as he is a really helpful guy and can supply a RAM mount for pretty much any bike. Rather than buying a new motorcycle mount for the Zumo, I am using the one I have fitted to my SV650.

With the sat nav taken care of I also wanted to add a 12v cigarette socket to charge our headsets, phones etc. I looked on eBay and Amazon but couldn't find one I trusted. I do have one fitted to my SV that I purchased from Hein Gericke that I haven't had any trouble with. Of course, Hein Gericke have now gone into administration and most stores have been taken over by J&S Accessories. So I headed down to the Watford store to see what they had and bought an Oxford socket (£19.99) designed primarily for handlebars, but the bracket can be removed. Underneath my pillion seat there are plastic sections either side separating the storage area from the cables. On one side there are 2 tiny holes so with Emma's help I used one of this holes to attach the socket to whilst running the cable directly to the battery alongside the other cables. I have deliberately attached the 12v directly to the battery so that I can charge things on the bike whilst it is stationary. I have done the same thing on my SV and because the power drainage is so low, have never had a problem starting the bike afterwards.

I have never been to Scotland, let alone the highlands, so I have no idea what to expect temperature wise. I have a spare heated cable for my Keis gear so I have also fitted that directly to the battery, cable tidying the lead underneath the left hand side of the rider seat. I did consider asking the garage to wire this into the ignition also, but decided to wire it direct in case I wanted to remove it when I got back home.

That has left only a couple of non-electrical things to do. As we are expecting to do a lot of miles - and lets face it the 954 Fireblade isn't known for its comfort! - I have attached my air hawk seat which was a life saver on the previous two trips (for the review click here: http://mcblogspot83.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/product-reviews-black-forest-2012-trip.html). The last thing to do was an oil change as this hasn't been done since I bought the bike in April 2014. We have just finished all these today so the bikes are now good to go!

The Gear
As I mentioned above, we are not camping at all on this trip. We are quite fortunate that we have family we can stay with for a couple of nights which makes it a bit easier to pay for B&Bs and hotels for the other nights. Also locating a bike garage in Scotland is far easier than trekking around mainland Europe. So here is my packing list:
  • Clothes including one pair of hiking boots, motorcycle jeans, hoodie, Keis heated waistcoat, buff neck scarf, the lining for my Dianese gore-tex bottoms and a spare pair of waterproof motorcycle gloves.
  • Spare fuses
  • Charging cables (USB and 12v)
  • Electric tape
  • Wash bag with toiletries
  • Sat Nav
  • Reflective Vest
  • Helmet Cover with Breakdown Triangle
  • MP3 Player
  • Security chain + shackle lock
  • Laptop and Charger (for blog writing!)
For packing onto the bike I can generally tie to my Renntec grab rail. I have bought myself a new cargo net and am using a couple of bungee cords. My luggage includes a Bagster tank bag (loaned by Emma's dad) to fit to my Bagster tank cover and a 20L compression sack on the back for clothes. I have my bike tool kit and the security chain under the seat.

Emma will no doubt be bringing chain lube, spare bulbs (SV and CBR) and possibly clutch lever. As my Fireblade has a scottoiler I have topped this up and adjusted the flow prior to leaving. When I get home I will put the flow rate back to where it was previously. This is to ensure the chain is still being lubricated despite less often and should last the length of the trip.

As for what I am wearing for the most part gear wise:
  • TCX Waterproof Boots
  • Dianese Gore-Tex Bottoms (I expect it to rain in Scotland!)
  • Dianese Leather Jacket
  • Alpinestars Leather Summer Gloves
  • HJC Helmet with Pinlock and built in Sun Visor
I think that is pretty much it! Will keep you all updated whilst on the trip :).

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