Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Product Review: Oxford Rain Seal Over Boots

I own a pair of very worn out TCX goretex boots, which although have served me well for about 5 years, are no longer waterproof. Rather than getting rid of them I decided to try out Oxford's rain seal over boots for £19.99 to continue using my TCX boots at work - nobody wants to spend £200 on a new pair of boots only to get worn out running around training motorcycle students.

First thing to note is that my TCX boots are EUR size 44, so I ordered Oxford size L - which are good for sizes 44 - 47. The size that turned up was XL but according to the over boots are for sizes 44 - 47 - a false item description somewhere. However, they do fit, with a fair bit of wiggle room. You just pop your boot in, put it on, do your boot up and then zip the over boot up too. There's a clip at the top for a closed fit and a strap that goes across the front of the over boot to tighten it in place. One of the drawbacks to this strap is that it tends to unclip easily when riding, which loosens the grip on the boot.

So what about there main job - to be waterproof? I haven't been out in a torrential downpour yet, but they've not leaked at all in any wet weather I've found myself in. The main issue I had with my TCX boots is that they leak through the sole, but these over boots seem to have solved the problem.

One thing I did notice is that changing gears or using the rear brake became a little more cumbersome. Due to the extra height, you need to remember to lift your foot higher than usual or it tends to get caught. Due to my boots being on the smaller side of the 44 - 47 fitting, the over boots do have a little bit of excess that can also get in the way. A snugger fit may have avoided that problem.

All in all they do what they are meant to - will post back after more testing weather conditions. They do have a couple of niggles and foot controls are a little awkward but for just shy of £20 it means I can continue using my old boots for that little bit longer.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Third Time Lucky? Maybe Not.

I have only been a motorcycle CBT instructor for a short time but I can tell you why I became one. It was to pass on my skills and experiences to wannabe bikers for the safety of them and other road users. As I say to my students during Element A of the course - that CBT certificate does not supersede yours or anybody else’s safety. However, for a lot of them that piece of paper seems to have more value to them than their lives.

We get a large variety of characters who come to do their CBT with us, particularly when based on the outskirts of London. Some of these plead with us to issue them a certificate, or to give them a chance on the road despite our legal and H&S obligations when we know they are not ready and need more training. I mean, how long would you want to be riding your bike for? If you are not safe on the road, you are not going to be riding it for long. Most students understand and know it themselves when they need a bit more training. Others can be aggressive or pull the sympathy card, but most understand when they finally get their CBT why we make the decisions we do.

A couple of months ago in October 2015 I had a student for her CBT. There was a minor language barrier, but she knew enough English to communicate. Her husband was with us for the duration of her off-road practical bike training and was translating when needed. At the end of this part of the training I felt she was just about ready for the next two parts of her CBT - the classroom session and practical on-road ride. On the road ride she seemed uncomfortable and despite my best efforts to fix the flaws she eventually rode up the kerb and so I ended her training and brought her back to the school. I explained to the two of them that she needed to come back to spend more time with the bike here at the school which they were absolutely fine with.

They did come back to try again. However, she struggled more so with the off-road training despite my best efforts, than previously. I told them that unfortunately she wasn’t ready yet for the road ride, especially considering the result of her last time out on the road. They pleaded with me to take a chance and take her on the road but I told them I was not comfortable doing that as we hadn’t made any progress from her first CBT. They were naturally disappointed but understood.

So lets fast forward to today - the 5th December 2015. I took my two students for the last hour of their practical on-road ride. As we rode away from Hounslow town centre we witnessed an unfortunate incident where a learner rider attempted to undertake a stationary vehicle onto the cycle lane. As they did so they caught the backside of the car and came off the bike, scratching the car and smashing the rear lights. As we were following them as this happened I pulled my students over to the side and parked up. I asked my leading student if they saw what happened and they had so he provided details to both parties. During this time, the learner rider was crouching down by their bike on the phone. I recognised the student but couldn’t tell who it was and so I asked to see their license (which of course they didn’t have to provide to me but they did). Sure enough it was the student who I had back in October - that did not get through the course. I asked to see proof of their CBT certificate and they showed me a copy on their phone - issued the beginning of October by a motorcycle training company based in Winchmore Hill called Fast Trak. So a couple of things may have happened after they left us for the second time. They may have been unhappy with our training and so tried somewhere else. Or, they may have been more concerned about getting that bit of paper and so opted for somewhere offering guaranteed CBT certificates (illegal yes, but not unheard of). Now, I do not know the nature of how Fast Trak conduct their CBT training, but in either case it is clear that this student was not ready to begin their learning on the road unsupervised.

So what is the point of mentioning all of this? Well, for starters, if this incident happened at a quicker pace, or even worse, if the car was moving, then the accident could have been far more severe than it was - the possibility was there. With this in mind, those who undergo CBT training need to value their lives and others far more than that piece of paper - we are training you to be safe on the road - that CBT certificate should be seen more as a byproduct of the training. Thirdly - when selecting a training centre choose them for the right reasons - that they provide excellent training to ensure you are safe when learning on the road by yourselves. 

There is a reason we do it properly. Ride safe, ride longer.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Notice: Motorcycle Video Logs Currently Unavailable

Hey Guys and Girls,

Have noticed that the Motorcycle VLogs gadget at the bottom of the blog has stopped working. I have removed this for now but hope to get it back up and running or replace it with something else. 

If you have any suggestions please let me know :)

All the best,

MC Blogger

Friday, 4 September 2015

What is the correct procedure for dealing with junctions on a motorcycle?

At the beginning of August 2015, as part of my training as a CBT instructor, I was running my own CBT for the day under the watchful eye of one of my bosses. I had three students at the end of Element C that were safe enough to take for the compulsory two hour road ride. As we returned from the first hour for the swap around my boss gave me my card and said I was free to take the last 2 hours by myself. So, from that day I have been officially working as a CBT instructor! However, there is more training to do as I need to get myself prepared for the two day test at Cardington with the DSA.

So back to what this topic is about - and the reason why I have decided to write this entry. There is a thread on TSR (The Student Room) where we discuss all things motorbikes. We quite often get peeps who are very new to riding or want to find out how to go about getting started. Recently I have been private messaged by a new motorcyclist who is slightly unclear on how to tackle junctions. In comes the O.S.M.P.S.L routine. For those who have been riding a while you may have forgotten what all that means - or you do it without thinking. For those new to biking or about to embark on your motorcycle journey or for those who just want to recap - lets chat about OSMPSL.

OSMPSL is a set of steps that you, as a motorcyclist (which includes those who ride mopeds), need to follow at every junction (including roundabouts) to keep yourselves safe. It is designed to reduce the risk of an accident occurring due to our natural vulnerability on a two-wheeled vehicle. For those who are car drivers - think of it as an expanded version of the M.S.M (mirror, signal, manoeuvre) routine. As motorcyclists we have a choice of positions that we can be in on the road - 1, 2 or 3.

Stripped down to its basic level, we stay in position 2 unless we need to change position. This makes us as big as a car – we don’t need to worry about cyclists, being too close to oncoming traffic or other vehicles that try to get on our inside or outside. It also means we have a choice of positions at junctions. For this blog post lets focus on minor to major junctions and major to minor ones.

Minor to Major
Lets start with positioning. If we are turning left we should get ourselves in position 1 at the end of the road. This closes the gap for cyclists, making it clear for you to turn left if safe. 

If going straight ahead – position 2. The cyclists can turn left and you hold a defensive position. 

When turning right get into position 3. This allows other vehicles to turn left or go straight ahead.

Turning Left
Straight Ahead
Turning Right

Before we get to the end we need to follow the OSMPSL routine. This means the following:

O – OBSERVATIONS. See what is happening in front of you and check your mirrors.

S – SIGNALS. Do this nice and early and when it is appropriate. If there is a road on your left before the junction and you want to signal left wait until after the road on the left before putting on your signal, otherwise you will give a false signal. Straight ahead does not require a signal.

M – MOVE into

P – POSITION. For left - position 1, for straight ahead - stay in position 2, for turning right - position 3. Before we change position we must do a shoulder check (left if moving into position 1, right if moving into position 3). No check is required for straight ahead as you aren’t changing position. You want to make sure nobody is trying to undertake/overtake you and that there are no cyclists to your left before you change position.

S – SLOW. Start slowing your speed down – Mopeds – roll off the throttle, apply some front brake and then some rear brake. Motorcycles – roll off the throttle, apply some front brake, apply some rear brake, clutch in, tap down the gears and stop in first gear.

L – LOOK – look nice and early if there is no danger, there is no stopping. If you can walk the bike out, you can ride it out. If you are unsure – stop and wait. If there is danger, stop and wait. Make sure it is safe before you pull away.

On your new road remember: get into position 2, check mirrors, cancel signal and get up to the appropriate speed.

Major to Minor
We use the same routine again, but our positioning is different as we are now on a road that has priority. If turning left you want to stay in position 2 to control your space. Before you turn, you need a shoulder check in case a vehicle is pulling out or a cyclist has caught up with you.

When turning right you need to get yourself into position 3 to allow the priority traffic to keep moving. Position yourself as shown to the right. Too early and the vehicle in the minor road will think you are letting him out. Too late and you won’t make the turn. Before you turn you must do a LIFESAVER – that final check before you commit. A car or motorcyclist may become impatient and attempt to overtake on your right. It is your last chance to check before you make the turn – this is why it is called a lifesaver.

This has been a short overview of how to approach minor to major and major to minor junctions. If you would like any advice on anything else please let me know. Also, if you think I have missed anything important please also let me know.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Luton to Brighton Ride (Circuit)

Date: 8th August 2015
Distance: 248 Miles
Total Time: 6 hours approx. (without stops)

About a week ago one of our bike members created a ride out event for Saturday 8th August 2015. It was a morning ride, using the favourite A413 route to Aylesbury and back round. Meet up time was 9am at the Westminster Lodge Car Park in St. Albans.

So, I got up nice and early, popped to the post office and headed down to the meet up location. I was a little past the meet up time of 9:00am, but only by a couple of minutes. There was no-one there so I messaged the event creator (Tom), said I would wait until 9:30am and then head off. Nobody showed so I headed back home to Luton. My girlfriend was heading down to Brighton for the day by train to meet a friend and said maybe I should head down there and meet them. I said it was a bit far and would have to plan a route and so forth. However, as I rode home I thought that maybe I could create a quick route and meet up with them for a late lunch.

I got home, grabbed my Sat Nav, opened up the best biking roads website (see link on left hand side) and planned a route. I needed a combination of fast roads and good biking roads to give myself a chance of getting there within a reasonable time - for those who know me, I have a tendency to make my route up entirely of good (and somewhat smaller) biking roads which results in many miles and very long days!

So at around 11am I set off. First part of the route was the fast bit - M1, M25, A3. I got onto the M1 and all was going well - until I got onto the M25. I hit solid traffic all the way round to junction 10 (1 before the A3). Having to slow down to 40mph and a lot of filtering - I kept moving, thinking to myself it will be better once I come off the motorway. The A3 was better, until I hit the area around Guildford - which again meant more filtering. With temperatures in the mid 20s and accidents on the motorways its no wonder it was so busy.

Coming off the A3 towards Milford I took the A283 through Wormley, Chiddingfold and Northchapel to Petworth. I was heading through the South Downs National Park with lovely countryside views and very old buildings in small villages. The road itself not too challenging - nice sweeping bends and much less traffic than I had all the way here. Loads of bikes out and plenty of nods - I wasn't the only one enjoying the weather.

Petworth was a little busy. A small antiques village with a one way system in place and small bends through the main village centre. Once through and back onto the A283 it was pretty clear all the way across to Fittleworth. I took the small B2138 road that linked onto the A29 heading to Arundel. Just before the roundabout there was a cafe on the right hand side called Whiteways Cafe which was mobbed by bikers. I took the second exit onto London road, which linked me to the A27. I continued into Worthing, stopped for petrol and went along the coast on the A259 to Brighton. I found Worthing quite pleasant and relaxed, still able to enjoy the seaside, local parks and high street shopping and less than 15 miles to  the hustle and bustle of Brighton. 

I got to Brighton and found somewhere to park up near the Sainsbury's Local - time just before 2:00pm. I received a message from Tom saying he thought nobody was coming out and so got drunk the night before - no harm done :). It had taken me almost 3 hours to get there which wasn't bad at all. I met up with the girls and we wandered along the seaside to find our lunch - fish and chips of course! I was starting to regret my choice of attire - full two-piece leathers, SIDI boots and leather gloves. It was too hot for all this, but at least I was fully protected. It wouldn't have been so bad if I was just stopping my lunch... however the girls decided to go for a wander round the smaller shops in the North Laines. Over 3 hours later, a spell consisting of hunting through records and second hand stores and stopping for a cold milkshake, I left them to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and headed back to the bike to continue the second half of my circuit.

Heading out of Brighton I took the A270 to the A27 and then the A26 through Lewes. I was welcomed by the majestic view of a towering white cliff to my right hand side and again some nice sweeping roads. My route continued onto the A26 followed by the A22 to the B2026 towards Edenbridge, through Ashdown Forest. I was again treated to wonderful views of the countryside and this time some tighter bends, which were a joy on these relatively quiet roads. 

Joining the M25 just before 7:00pm I continued through the Dartford Tunnel and came off at Waltham Abbey for a break at my grandparents. Almost another 3 hours later from  catching up on some football, getting food and computer troubleshooting I headed home choosing to take the fast way back (M25/M1) rather than the back route I had originally planned, arriving at close to 11:00pm.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

St Albans Ride Out to Uppingham

I originally said a bunch of us were meant to be going on this ride out... come this morning we were down to two - me on my 954 blade and Andy on his trusty viffer. It promised to be a good day, the weather was nice and dry and the sun was on its way out.

We set off at 8:03 and followed the exact route that I wrote about in my previous post. Traffic was minimal, but we weren't bombing about anyway. As we got onto Poynters Road in Dunstable, Andy pulled up next to me to tell of his approval of the Chaul End road. It is a great little stretch as you come out of Caddington - several bends at a decent speed and that fantastic view over east Dunstable/west Luton before you come down the hill to the A505 bypass.

Going through Ampthill we started to get hit by the rain, just spitting initially until we got onto the A421/A428 bypass where is started coming down in spades. There was a cycle race going on with riders showing full commitment and energy, which was impressive given the wet conditions.

Once onto the A428 I noticed Andy was dropped back every so often and keeping his speed down. So just before we entered Northampton I pulled over into a parking lay-by to see if all was OK and to stretch my legs. Andy told me that he had a little wobble coming off one of the roundabouts on the bypass and was just a bit cautious. Could have been something in the road, but I personally have always been less confident on Bridgestone tyres in the wet.

We soldiered on through the wet conditions, which we were exposed to all the way to Uppingham. The B664 is a challenging road, but even more so in the wet. I noticed Andy putting his foot down as he went round some of the corners, not completely trusting in the capabilities of his tyres in the wet. We got to the Harley dealership in 2 and a half hours - which was the ETA given by Garmin Basecamp.

Bikes in the Harley range can sell for as much as £30,000 new. These are great looking bikes with lots of torque, lazy engines and ultimate comfort. However, me and Andy were both saying how we can't see ourselves using something like this on English and European roads where we have plenty of bends and roundabouts to think about. Some of the smaller bikes (in terms of frame rather than engine) look more capable, but the fuel efficiency is pretty low. The lady running the food bar outside was chatting to us. She has the same model as the matt black bike on the plinth (see photo below) and says that she rides it quite comfortably. However, she did admit the difficulty in cornering compared to the bikes we were riding, but that is made up for by the comfort.

When we turned up we were the only two bikes outside the dealership. Just before we left a small group of riders turned up - a couple of VFRs, Tiger Explorer, GS 1400, old CBR 600 and a couple of other bikes. We commended them on their efforts to get out considering the weather and rode off to find somewhere to eat. Not seeing anything of use in Uppingham, 

I followed Andy southbound on the A6003 to Corby where we found a Hungry Horse. It was a bit early for a full on lunch (around 11.30am) so we both had an all day breakfast (thanks Andy!) and a cup of tea as we watched the sun breaking through the clouds and the rain stopped - typical. At just shy of 12.30 we jumped back on the bikes to head back home. We followed the A6003 / A43 / A14 and A509 to Newport Pagnell. It was here that we said our farewells and I headed down the M1 to Luton, arriving home at dead on 2:00pm.

My bike was spotless when I left the house this morning... little bit dirty at the end of the ride! Was great fun, really enjoyed it and glad I had some company today. The B664 will be better when dry. It may be best to take the fast route up there in the morning in order to enjoy the plethora of decent roads in that region - particularly as you enter Lincolnshire. Any suggestions - please comment below, always welcome!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Route: Redbourn - Uppingham

Distance: 82.3 miles approx.

ETA: 2 and a half hours approx.

Tomorrow a small bunch of us from the St. Albans Sportsbike Rider Club are riding from the Chequers pub in Redbourn over to Uppingham - on the condition that it does not rain (forecast doesn't look great - but that won't stop me going!).

The highlight of this route is the B664 between Market Harborough to Uppingham. Just off the A427 north-east of Market Harborough, this road runs through lots of small villages, with tight bends in between - often with very little vision around them. This is a challenging route and so recommended for those who have got a few miles under their belt.

We will be departing the pub at 08:00 on the Sunday morning in order to miss as much weekend traffic as possible. Our route takes us from the pub, northbound on the A5183, which becomes the A5 as you go under the M1 motorway. From here, there is a right hand turn at the traffic lights around Markyate - heading through the country roads of Caddington and Chaul End to the A505 in Dunstable, over the roundabout - heading through Houghton Regis. 

Once out of here, there are back roads heading round to the B530 - which goes over the M1 to the A5120. This road is a mix of medium and large bends and open straights, heading through some small towns - be sure to keep an eye out for the speed cameras. At Flitwick, be sure not to miss the A5120 as it continues over the railway bridge towards Ampthill. The B530 continues north of Ampthill towards Bedford, a single carriage national speed limit road, mainly straight with a few easy bends.

The B530 ends at the A6, where a right turn at the traffic lights finds the A421/A428 bypass to Northampton. This is a nice open road with a few quaint villages (speed cameras in Turvey and Yardley Hastings). Crossing the A509 roundabout - continuing onto the A428 until Northampton there are a few over hanging speed cameras. Heading under the A45 and continuing onto the A428 there is a set of traffic lights and the Northampton General Hospital on the right hand side. A little bit of in-town riding now, taking a right turn at these lights towards the crossroad of the A508. Another right turn here onto the A508 northbound towards Market Harborough - which goes up to Kingsthorpe and out of Northampton.

The A508 is a lovely open national speed limit road with some sweeping bends and the odd roundabout, countryside views and old Northamptonshire buildings. The road continues north, over the A14 and eventually ending up at Market Harborough. There is a right turn ahead at some traffic lights, before the town centre which leads round onto the A4304 and then the A427. If you have some time, head straight into the town instead and stop for a tea or coffee.

At the roundabout take the exit onto the A427. Almost immediately after is the left hand turn for the B664 to Uppingham. The road is pretty open at first, which can be a little misleading so keep your concentration. In the villages there are quite a few occasions where the bends are quite tight, but at low speeds these shouldn't be an issue. Also, keep a look out for direction signs, as due to the nature of the road it can be quite confusing keeping to the B664. In Uppingham there are traffic lights at a crossroad (the A6003). Taking a left here reveals the Harley Davidson dealership on the right hand side - the end of the route. Take a break, look at some bikes, get a drink at the cafe - you would have earned it!

If anyone would like a copy of the Garmin route let me know in the comments. Hopefully I will add some pictures after tomorrow! Safe riding!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Becoming a Bike Instructor!

An opportunity was advertised a couple of months ago online for bike instructors in the area of Hounslow. Being curious I decided to contact the bike school and see what it was all about.

I went for an interview at the end of January and to meet the guys running the school. They have been around for almost two years and due to increasing business are looking for bike instructors that they can train up to take on the extra students. I explained my situation - currently working at a school in London and would be unable to leave my post until I was trained and able to earn - at which point I would be available to go full time and focus on instructing as my only job. They accepted this and decided there and then they would be happy for me to come onboard but that I must come and observe 4 CBTs in training to see if it was definitely for me.

So during the february half term I spent four days down there, watching how things were run, how they taught each element of the CBT and the content that was delivered. A few days in I was slightly concerned about how repetitive it may end up being - teaching the same content, but to different people. At the school, I support students with learning difficulties and it is more about teaching different content to the same people. These concerns were distinguished by the third visit, as I realised that the variety of different people taking their CBT and the friendliness of the people who worked there made it an exciting and interesting place to work. Although the bike school offered training free of charge, there is a commitment contract of e18 months whereby you agree to work for them for that length of time. During the training you are also not being paid, which made the decision I little harder to make due to fact that the bike school is around 40 miles from my house and would be an added financial commitment.

After discussing all the pros and cons with my partner I decided to email Maria (office manager) and accept the opportunity presented to me. I have since been down every weekend to watch, learn and take notes and will be put through some training during the Easter holidays. It is amazing how much you need to take in from an instructor perspective when compared to doing your CBT as a student. Not a trick is missed at this bike school. Everything is done by the book and they get some great results.

If you are interested in doing your CBT or perhaps would like some training to take your full test then get in touch and see how we can help you. The school is MCT London, based just off the A4 opposite Osterley tube station. Our website is:, so come have a look and check out some of the reviews given by our students!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Saying Goodbye to Panda

It has been just over a month since we said our goodbyes and paid our respects to our friend Jon “Panda” Aicken. Due to the delay in getting this posted I have decided not to advertise this post on Facebook or TSR but to use this as my way of reflecting on the day - but of course it is still published for anybody to read if they want to.

As you guys all know, I had a bit of trouble with my SV650 getting knocked over in our school car park. This issue has mostly been resolved now (just a side panel dispute to worry about…). I did however manage to pick this up on the morning of the funeral, allowing both myself and Emma to participate in the motorcycle convoy that accompanied Panda on his journey. The organiser of this convoy, John Brede, was a little worried when only 7 or so bikes turned up at the initial meet at Tesco car park, Edinburgh Way. However, he needn’t have worried as when we arrived to the funeral directors there were a large number of bikers who wanted to pay their respects and help Jon on his way. The sight of 50 or so bikes was incredible and showed just how many people this sad news had touched.

We decorated our helmets and bikes with black ribbons and stickers and slowly followed Panda in his side car and most suitably decorated box (a boat on the river to Valhalla). The Outlaws group of bikers made sure that the roads were clear for all bikes to get through and did a great job of this. After a brief stop at the Latton Bush Centre as we waited for Panda’s family we continued the journey to the service.

There were so many people that not everybody could get into the building. Emma, myself and Chris were a few of the many that listened to the service outside. The occasion was marked by musicians, bikers, friends and family and was shared amongst a large local community. We then gathered at the local sports centre for food, thoughts and images highlighting those special memories that we all shared with Panda.

A very worthy occasion for a worthy friend, who will be sadly missed. Farewell Panda x

Saturday, 24 January 2015

SV Experiences the Cold Winter Fall

So last week I rode into work, walked into the staff room and started to defrost myself. About 10 minutes later my line manager comes in and tells me that my bike has fallen over. Rushing outside I see if lying on its ride hand side. After struggling to lift it up I came back into the building requesting help. We got it back upright so I could inspect the damage.

Initially it didn’t seem too bad - brake lever had snapped and front right indicator had smashed. Easy fixes. I found out who was involved and they admitted full liability, relieved that the damage wasn’t too bad.

I went back out to inspect the bike with a colleague. On removing the right side panel I noticed further damage. The arm bracket for the crash bung had snapped off and there was a ring around the exhaust that was hanging down. I decided that it would be best to take it to my nearest Suzuki Garage - Mission Motorcycles in Milton Keynes for inspection and let him know the result.

Further inspection showed that the bar ends were scuffed and everything else was pretty much as expected. Total cost around £310 which the person decided was small enough to pay in cash, which he did. All sorted - or so you would think…

Once the parts turned up and the garage started the work they unveiled that the right hand side fixing bolt into the cylinder had completely sheared off. It was impossible to get out without removing the cylinder and drilling out the bolt. This would mean that a new cylinder head gasket et al. would be required. Main cost being labour at 3 and a half hours. This practically doubled the quote to just under £620.

Of course the person involved wasn’t too happy with this situation as the original estimate was half of this which he had already paid in cash. The next day he agreed to go through his insurance to pay for the repairs. I contacted my insurance with his insurance details but they said they were unable to help and that I would have to contact his insurance directly - which I found a bit strange. So I did and they were very helpful, took the details and rang him for confirmation, which he did.

So now I am waiting for them to contact Mission Motorcycles for the full quote so that the work can be finished and I can get my bike back - which has heated grips, muffs and heated clothing, essential for the cold weather. In the meantime I have been riding my girlfriend’s old SV, which has hand muffs but that is it - I’ve been having some very cold 30 mile journey’s to work this past week!

So moral of the story guys…. if you want the problem resolved quickly, without any nasty surprises it is probably best to insist that the insurance companies are involved unless you are absolutely sure that the person who caused the damage will pay out for the full repairs. I am hoping to get the bike back before next Friday - the date of Panda’s funeral where some of us are escorting him by bike to the service. For information on this story please see this post: 

I hope all you bikers are taking care in this cold weather. It isn’t the best conditions for riding in and I have seen a few bikes fall victim to the conditions. Just take care out there :).

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Awkward SV650S 11K Service...

First and foremost... Happy New Year! It is now 2015 and what better way to start the year than to service the bike.

My 2008 SV has never been a problem to service and has always been very reliable. However, it would appear that the bike is started to wane from the 60 mile daily commute it has started since September 2014.

I started a job at a school in London and due to heavy morning traffic, particularly around Luton, the bike is the best vehicle for the commute. I can get to my destination in around 45 minutes and therefore ride in most weather conditions. The bike ideally needs servicing at the end of every term. Christmas has marked the need to do the 11K service - which is basic service really plus an air filter change.

We started by checking out the spark plugs, which just needed a clean really. It's worth remembering that there are 4 spark plugs in 2003+ SVs whereas the curvy's (pre-2003) only have 2. To get to one of the spark plugs the right-hand side panel needs to be removed. First problem was trying to undo the nuts that hold the two side panels together underneath the front of the bike. For whatever reason it wouldn't undo and therefore we had to snap this to take the panel off. With all spark plugs cleaned up and replaced the bike struggled to start. Definitely sounded like it wanted to but failed to. So we left it on the charger for a bit and gave it time to settle down. Emma then went back out there and tried again and this time it fired up fine. So there was a first clue that this was perhaps not going to go as smoothly as it obviously should do.

I then went to work and whilst I was at work Emma said she would do the oil and filter change for me. Two hours later she managed to get the filter off. Apparently it didn't want to know and she had to completely butcher it in the end to get it off. Why it was so tight I have no idea seeing as we would have done the oil change last and we never over tighten it. Also, the weather hasn't been awful during the last term so we were completely baffled. On the plus side the air filter does not need changing as it is a reusable K&N filter. Didn't need much cleaning either.

Brake pads and tyres are fine so that is the end of the struggle. The bike has done over 46k miles in total but up until now it has always ridden well. Maybe it wasn't happy to be heading into the new year who knows... Next service requires valve clearances and throttle bodies so that one is out of our expertise!