Monday, May 25, 2009

Early Bird Run to Hartside

Helen and I went out with NUKB yesterday on an early bird run up to Hartside Cafe. We met up with all the Lancashire guys at Clitheroe Services for 7:00am. Scotsy had organised the route and was rideout leader.


2 x ST's at Hartside We set off from Clitheroe up the A59 heading towards Skipton. We soon turned off the A59 and headed through Sawley to Wigglesworth. In Wigglesworth we took the B6478 to Long Preston, in Long Preston the Police had closed off A65 heading towards Ingleton. However we turned right here and took the A65 towards Gargrave. We turned off the A65 at Hellifield and met up with some of the Yorkshire Guys.


We left Hellifield on minor roads and headed through Otterburn and turned left in Airton and headed towards Kirkby Malham. We stopped in Malham for a quick comfort break and then headed round Malham Tarn over West Moor to Arncliffe. We turned right in Arncliffe and continued along this road until we met the B6160 and then turned left towards Kettlewell. We went through Kettlewell and then turned left onto minor roads at Buckden. We proceeded through Hubberholme and Deepdale before going over Oughtershaw Moss and down into Hawes, where we stopped for a brew.


Busy Hartside Cafe We left Hawes and then went over Buttertubs Pass to Thwaite. Just after Keld we turned right off the B6270 and headed up the double hairpin bends and over Stonesdale Moor to Tan Hill. At Tan Hill we turned left and headed over to join the A66 near Maiden Castle. We continued along the A66 and eventually turned off near Temple Sowerby and took the B6412 to Culgaith. From there we joined minor roads and went through Skirwith and Ousby to join the A686 at Melmerby. We then went up the A686 which was slightly spoiled by traffic and stopped at Hartside Cafe for lunch.


Ice Creams in Middleton We left a very busy Hartside Cafe and headed on the A686 to Alston. We took it easy as we had already been warned that a safety camera van was down the road towards Alston. We filled up at Alston then turned right and took the fabulous and often deserted B6277 to Middleton-in-Teesdale. We stopped in Middleton for some much needed ice creams and then said a fond farewell to the Yorkies.


We then took the equally deserted and fabulous B6276 to Brough. From Brough we took the A685 to Kirkby Stephen. In Kirkby Stephen Scotsy relinquished the lead and I then lead the group down the A685 and soon turned left and took the very fast A683 to Sedbergh, on the way we passed another safety camera van. In Sedbergh we continued on the A683 down to a very busy Devils Bridge. We only stopped from a short while for a comfort break, it was far too busy.


Drinks at Clitheroe McDonalds We left Devils Bridge with DocB now taking up the lead. We continued down the A683 heading towards Melling and Hornby. We continued past Caton on the A683 and once past Caton turned left towards Quernmore. At the crossroads in Quernmore we turned left and headed for the Trough of Bowland. We pasted through a very busy Trough and turned left at the end of the road at Dunsop Bridge. We continued down this road and then turned right at Newton onto the B6478. We went over Newton Fells through Waddington and into Clitheroe. We stopped at Clitheroe Services again and visit McDonalds for a much needed drink. After a brief break we said our goodbyes and proceeded home arriving back at around 5:00pm after a wonderful 277 miles round trip.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Chain and Front Brake Pads

In preparation for our trip to Catalunya in a weeks time, I have today changed my chain and my front brake pads. The pads probably have 2,000 miles left on them but we will be doing more than that on our bike tour. Although I have only done 12,500 miles the chain looked in a bad way (which Rochdale Honda confirmed), it has a very bad tight spot on it.


Anyway I got up nice and early today to get a good crack on with the jobs. I expected to have finished by lunch but things are never that easy are they? I ended up having 1 of those days today, when nothing goes right and everything takes far longer than it should.

DID X-ring Chain I broke my old chain and pulled the new DID X-ring gold chain through. I then pressed and riveted the master-link only to get a hairline crack in 1 of the master-link rivet pins, so off out to get a new link, 2nd 1 went on fine.

Then I changed my front pads and realised that Hunts had given me the wrong pads (Honda changed the caliper in 2007), so I had to go all the way to Hunts to change them. Got back and fitted them both within 10 minutes. The bike is now sorted and everything is looking good for the trip.


12,000 Mile Service

I took my bike in yesterday to have it’s 12,000 mile service. I went to the newly opened Rochdale Honda rather than going all the way round to Hunts.


I was very pleased with the service and think they have done a much better job than Hunts and seem to have done a lot more things even though it was only a minor service. They took 1.5 hours longer to do a minor service than Hunts but where around £20 cheaper.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Helen's New Panniers

BMW F800ST with Panniers As I mentioned yesterday we went over to Southport Superbikes to have Helen's F800ST serviced before we go to Catalunya. While we were there Helen had also arrange to have a set of BMW panniers fitted.


The bike had already been fitted with the rails by the previous owner so she only need the panniers themselves. They are quite nice looking things and very clever in the way that they can be expanded if required.


BMW F800ST with Panniers Helen has just had a trail pack for Catalunya. Which has also included a run out on the bike to get a feel for the handling with the extra weight of fully loaded panniers and topbox. I added a bit of extra preload and damping on the bike for her which was very simple as the bike has adjuster knobs for both.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

BMW K1300R & F800R

Helen and I went over to Southport Superbikes today so Helen’s F800ST could have a service prior to us going to Catalunya next month. We went up the M61 to junction 8 and then cut around Euxton under the low bridge and through Croston on our way to Southport. We arrived at around 10:00am just in time for Helens allotted time and managed to miss all the rain on the way.


While Helen’s bike was being serviced we had arranged for myself to take out the K1300R demo bike. Being a demo bike the K1300R was fully loaded with all the optional extras available. Including ABS, ASC, ESA II and the very handy HP Gearshift Assistant (quick shifter). I would have preferred to have tried the S version but they didn’t have any. Helen asked about a bike she could borrow and they got her the new F800R out. 


BMW K1300R Anyway we set off as it started to rain in Southport, with in no time at all we were out of the rain and on dry roads. We went down Marine Drive and past Crossens Marsh and I opened the thing up from 2nd gear at about 30mph, bloody hell with 173bhp/103ftlb on tap this thing really moves. Apart from 1st and 2nd gear which tends to lift the front under full load, it is possible to pin back the throttle and use all of that power. With the quick shifter you can keep the throttle pinned and shift up through the box with ease. After getting out of Southport we headed over Croston way and took the A581 into Croston. This is a nice wide road with a few tight and longer sweeping bends with a few nice straights. We stopped in Croston to take a few photos and then headed back over to Southport to return the bikes.


The K1300R comes with 3 settings on the ESA Comfort, Normal and Sport. I had the bike on Sport for most of the ride and would say the ride wasn’t that hard really, much softer than the Viffers. Although after the short ride my bum was starting to feel it, although I think this was more down to the seat. The screen did a really good job of deflecting the wind and you could of been forgiven for not thinking that you were actually on a naked bike, apart from the mirrors being in your face of course. I found that the power was really usable on the bike and it has loads of it. It will pull in any gear at any revs even 6th. Accelerate hard in any gear and in no time at all you are doing silly speeds. Although the bike is heavier than my Viffer it actually felt lighter, it is a better balanced bike and not top heavy like the Viffer. Then we have the brakes, they are incredible. I tried an emergency stop from motorway speeds and it pulled up very quickly and it was super stable doing it. I found it easy to get the bike to turn and it handled well, feedback through the bars is not as good as the Viffer but it is nowhere near as bad as some people have stated. All in all if you are after a super fast naked bike then you should defiantly give it a try. TBH if they had sent me out on a K1300S today they may well have got a sale today, it was that good.


Helen’s Review of the BMW F800R

My first thoughts were that it’s just a naked version of mine but with traditional indicator controls and a chain rather than a belt, therefore it should feel exactly the same as mine.  However, the spec and the test ride showed otherwise…




BMW F800RBoth are 798cc but the new R is 87bhp and the ST is 84.5bhp. Top  speed on the R is 133mph but the ST is 140mph - I presume your head gets blown off if you do that extra 7mph on the naked R version!!! Torque 63.5ftlb on the R and a bit less at 59.5ftlb on the ST. Dry weight of the R is 177kg the ST is 182kg (or 187 for mine which has ABS). Standard seat height on the R is 800mm, ST is 820.  Low seat on the R is 775mm (great for anyone less than 5ft 6!) and the high seat is 825mm. The R has a stiffer double-sided swingarm, rather than the single on the ST. Insurance group goes up from the ST’s 11 to 12 for the pleasure of the extra 2.5bhp on the R. There’s £70 difference in the base price, the R being the cheaper of the two.  You can still get all the add ons that you can on the ST.


Test ride

Riding position:

Completely flat footed when stationary which was good for control and padding about, but my legs felt cramped on the R when riding, similar to when I tried my ST with the lower 790mm seat before I settled on the standard 820 seat.  The higher seat would probably have been just a tad too high but I couldn’t put up with the standard seat for a long ride.  The low seat at 775mm and the narrow waist means this bike would be perfect for anyone petite or with short legs - and as per the ST you’re pretty much sitting on the fuel so the weight’s low down, great for the vertically challenged! Bars are the same as the ST, flat but not too high which makes for a comfortable position. I much prefer my ST’s riding position, but then if the R had an 820mm seat then it’d be exactly the same.



Felt much smoother than my ST and much faster to change up.  Gears went in solidly with no fiddling about.  But I’m more than happy to cope with the clunkier belt drive if it means not having to maintain a chain again!


Handling, performance, sound:

For some reason it seemed to flick from feeling exactly like mine to feeling completely different, and then back to like the ST.  Without the fairing of the ST the bike takes on a meaner character and feels like a bit of a street fighter hooligan rather than a fun & sporty-ish comfy mini tourer that the ST feels like.  I felt like ragging it and being a bit of a nutter!


It seemed a bit more flickable than the ST (not sure if that’s anything to do with the stiffer double-sided swing arm??) and the extra 2.5bhp seemed to show in the acceleration, especially picking up rapidly to overtake in 6th without having to change down like I do on the ST.  Getting up to 70 on the dual carriageway out of Southport was interesting.  I’d forgotten what it’s like on a naked bike at motorway speeds, felt like someone was trying to push me off backwards!!


Brakes seemed keener, but then that’s probably the difference between an 09 bike and an 06 bike with original pads.


Different standard exhaust on the R which sounds MILES nicer than mine.  Sounds more like the burble you get from the F650GS.  Think I may need to ask Santa for a new exhaust this year!



Overall it was great to ride, in some ways better than mine but many practicalities and our touring plans mean I prefer the ST (just right seat height, protection from the fairing, no chain to clean).  If anyone’s offering though, I’ll have one in orange for weekend blasts please!