Saturday, October 25, 2014

BMW K1300s Service

I took my K1300s over to Williams BMW in Trafford for a service yesterday morning. I had the pleasure of filtering round the whole of the M60 from Heywood to Eccles. Not sure why it was so busy as I didn’t see any issues on my way round. Anyway I still arrived on time as I had anticipated it might be busy. It was quite a basic service although the valve check is due in about 2700 miles. I don’t intend to have it done as next year after summer I am thinking of trading it in against another K1300s. Williams BMW where doing a 25% discount for services through October so it only cost me £138 all in, which isn’t to bad for BMW.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Islay Birthday Trip

Helen and I have recently return from a 5 day tour up to Islay in Scotland for here 40th Birthday. She decided that she wanted to go over to Islay to visit the Laphroaig Distillery as they produce her favourite single malt whisky. We had a really good trip and only had proper rain on one day and the odd sprinkle here and there on some of the others.

Wednesday 24th Sept - Home to Stonefield Castle 
We left home at around 9:30am and travelled to towards Settle via our normal route through Sabden, Sawley and Wigglesworth. Just before Settle we turned right onto the A65 and headed towards Kirkby Lonsdale. We stopped at Devil’s Bridge by Kirkby Lonsdale for a brief rest.

Bikes ready for the off We then headed north on the A683 towards Sedbergh. We took our tried and tested route north via the B6256, B6257 and A685 to Tebay. Then the B6260 to Orton from here we joined the B6261 which passes under the M6 and eventually joins up with the A6 south of Shap. We then proceeded through Shap and towards Penrith on the A6. We passed through Penrith and continued on the A6 towards Carlisle. We then joined the M6 at junction 42 and headed north. We left the A74(M) at junction 22 about 12 miles later and headed for Dumfries on the A75. The A75 isn’t a great road and the only decent bit has now been replaced by several climber lane sections of road. We soon arrived in Dumfries and stopped at the Tesco store on the north side for fuel and lunch.

After lunch we headed north on the vastly better A76. It is a fast but nice twisty road with a few rises here and there. North of New Cumnock towards Kilmarnock the road straightens out and is less involving but still much better than a motorway. Just before Kilmarnock we turned off on the B744 to Galston. From here we took the A719 to the A77 and then joined the M77 at junction 6. We then followed it and the M8 to the M898 and crossed over the River Clyde on the Erskine Bridge. We then headed towards Dumbarton on the A82 and stopped at Dunglass Service Station for a rest. 

Stonefield CastleWhen then continued on the A82 passed Dumbarton and then started on the usually busy part that runs passed Loch Lomond. Although today it was mega busy and we where able to make decent progress. We soon arrived in Tarbet and joined the A83 and headed towards Inverary. We have never been on this stretch of road before, but as expected it didn’t disappoint. The road runs through Arrochar and around the end of Loch Long. He then heads through Argyll Forest Park before arriving on the shore of Loch Fyne. The road then follows the Loch to Inverary. From here the road continues to follow the Loch although sometimes the road is further inland and the Loch is out of sight. After a great long run without too much traffic we arrived at Lochgilphead, where we stopped to fill up with fuel. We then continued south on the A83 again following Loch Fyne closely. After about 12 miles we arrived at our hotel for the next two nights Stonefield Castle.

Stonefield CastleThe hotel is located about 2 miles north of Tarbert with a view overlooking the Loch. The hotel is set in a wonderful location. The restaurant and all public areas on the ground floor are excellent. However the horrible extension on the side of the Castle detracts from the beauty. The room size was fine however the furniture in the room and the fixture and fittings are old and of poor quality. The rooms and bathrooms really need a update to modern standards. We would recommend the restaurant and bar area but couldn’t recommend actually staying at the hotel for the prices they charge. It was a bit of a disappointment and we won’t ever go back again.

Thursday 25th Sept - Campbeltown  
It was forecast to be wet and horrible all day and overnight it rained very heavily. We awoke to drizzle and overcast and gloomy looking Stonefield Castle Groundsskies. We had a late breakfast and then decided to have a walk around the Castle’s grounds as the rain had eased off. We were able to have a decent walk around the grounds and over to the island. Thankfully the rain pretty much held off so we didn’t get wet. We then headed back to the hotel and decided to go out on the bikes for a short ride.

Stonefield Castle Grounds We left the hotel and it almost immediately started to rain a bit. We headed south to Tarbert on the A83 and then continued on the A83 all the way down to Campbeltown. It is a nice run and the scenery is fantastic although the road is not very challenging for the majority. We stopped by the ferry port in Campbeltown to use the toilets and then headed back north up the A83. It had started to rain heavier on the way back but it didn’t really cause us any problems. We stopped north of  Clachan to fill up with Campbeltownfuel so that our tanks would be full for the trip to Islay the next day. We carried on up the A83 and then stopped just south of Tarbert at Stonefield Farm Cafe. We didn’t realise till we got in the cafe how wet we had actually got. We had a lovely lunch at the cafe and were treated to excellent service and also given some free birthday cake for Helen. We then headed back to the hotel to chill before our evening meal.

Friday 26th Sept - Stonefield Castle to Islay 
We got up and left very early to catch the 7:00am ferry to Islay. It was very dark at the hotel and due to a recent failure of the floodlights it was very difficult to see properly to pack the bikes up. We left and headed in the  dark toKennacraig Kennacraig to catch the ferry. We never ride in the dark so it was a fairly new experience for us, the lights on the BMW easily lit up the dark rural road. We soon arrived at the port and checked in. The ferry berthed at Kennacraig overnight so it was ready and waiting for us to board. Unusually we where put on virtually last as we where to be  positioned in opposite corners at the rear of the ferry. After we had bordered we set sail on time and so we grabbed some coffees for the 2 hours and 20 minutes crossing over to Islay.

After a pleasant crossing we arrived in Port Ellen on Islay just after 9:15am. We disembarked and then headed straight over to the Laphroaig Distillery as we where booked on the Distillers Wares tour at 10:00am. We Laphroaig Distillery parked up and then booked are selves in and then got a free dram each for being friends of Laphroaig. We then had the tour around the Distillery before being taken into one of the warehouses to sample the whisky from three different casks. We chose to bottle the whisky from the 1999 and 2004 casks. We also got a small bottle each of the three individual casks as we where obviously both riding. The tour was £52 each but we came away with a great haul of whisky each, the majority of which was from single casks.

After the fantastic tour we left the distillery and headed east on the A846. After passing the Ardbeg Distillery the road narrows to a single track and becomes very rough and potholed in places. We eventually arrived at Kildalton and Kilnave Chapel & Cross parked up by the ancient cross. After the brief visit we headed back to the Ardbeg Distillery to have lunch, but it was extremely busy so we decided it was best to look for lunch elsewhere. So we headed back to Port Ellen and then continued north on the A846 towards Bowmore. Apart from two sharp corners the road is pretty much dead straight. We soon arrived in Bowmore and stopped by the Bowmore Distillery to have lunch in the newly opened Taste of Islay.

We left Bowmore and headed north to Bridgend where we joined the A847 towards Port Charlotte. We soon turned off and headed further north on minor roads and eventually arrived at Kilnave Chapel and Cross. We then headed back to the A847 and then continued west along Helen's Whisky Haul the coast road to Port Charlotte. This was the best road that we went on the whole of Islay. It featured some nice corners with dips and rises and followed the coast, so great views as well. We turned around at Port Charlotte and then headed back to Port Ellen on the A846. We then headed over to our lovely B&B for the night Laphroaig View, located about 1.5 miles east of Port Ellen. Instead of walking into Port Ellen for dinner we decided that we would get a picnic tea from the local Co-op in Port Ellen instead.

Saturday 27th Sept – Islay to Troon 
After a great breakfast we headed to the ferry port in Port Ellen to catch the 9:45am ferry back to Kennacraig. We had already seen the ferry pass by from the B&B so we Port Ellen Ferry Port knew it was on time. We arrived at the ferry port and this time we where put on first, although this was a slightly bigger ferry than the previous days crossing. Again we had a nice smooth crossing and felt relaxed and ready to go when we arrived in Kennacraig at around 11:55am. We left the port and headed on the A83 via Tarbert to Lochgilphead, where we stopped for fuel again.

We left Lochgilphead and continued on the A83 and followed it all the way to Arrochar alongside Loch Fyne. I knew the A82 alongside Loch Lomond would be busy on a weekend so I had planned to avoid it as much as I could. So in Arrochar we joined the A814 and followed the  excellent twisty and undulating road alongside Loch Long to Garelochhead. Here we joined the A817 and headed back towards the A82. We then Leaving Islayjoined the A82 and headed towards Dumbarton, I was correct with my assumption as the road was very busy. We soon arrived in Dumbarton and stopped at a Costa Coffee for lunch. We left Dumbarton and headed over the Erskine Bridge and continued on the M8 and got off at junction 29 and headed through Paisley to get to the B711 to Barrhead. From Barrhead we took the A736 via Lugton towards Irvine. In hindsight it would have been better to avoid Paisley altogether as it was very slow going getting through (lots of traffic lights), but I wanted to avoid the A737. Near Irvine we joined the A78 and headed past Troon towards Prestwick airport. We then joined the A79 and then turned back towards Troon on the B749. We soon arrived at Lochgreen House Hotel, our hotel for the night.

Lochgreen Hotel Malt Whisky RoomThe hotel is located in a very quiet spot over looking the sea and the Royal Troon golf course. Our room was as big  as the whole of the downstairs of our house. There was a wedding on at the hotel but it didn’t create and noise our disturb our stay at the hotel at all. They have a very impressive single malt whisky room within the hotel bar area. The meal in the evening was also excellent and we where very pleased with our stay at the hotel and will certainly stay there again.

Sunday 28th Sept – Troon to Home 
We left after another excellent breakfast and headed back to the A78. We then stopped at Monkton Services for some fuel. We then continued on the A77 past Ayr and then joined the A713 towards New Galloway. This is a great road and usually quiet as I would guess that drivers take the A70 and A76 to Dumfries. We did encounter the odd rain drop and some damp patches here and there but it didn’t spoil the run. We have used this road twice before and again it didn’t disappoint. We then joined the A712 another really good road and headed across to join the A75 to Dumfries. We stopped at the Tesco again for fuel and a brief rest.

We left the Tesco but I had planned not to use the A75 this time to get back to Carlisle. So instead we joined the A709 on the east side of Dumfries and headed towards Lockerbie via Lochmaben. In Lockerbie we joined the B7076 and headed for Gretna. This is a fast B road that follows the A74(M). Near to Gretna we cut across to the A6071 that took us across to the A7 at Longtown and back into England. We then followed the A7 to junction 44 of the M6. We followed the M6 down to junction 42 where we left the motorway and joined the A6. We followed the A6 all the way to Shap and then took the B6261 to Orton. We stopped in Orton for lunch at the fairly new Silver Yard Cafe.

We left the cafe and headed back towards Devil’s Bridge via the same route we came up on Wednesday. We then joined the A65 towards Skipton. After Ingleton we turned off the A65 onto minor roads and headed through Gisburn Forest to the B6478. We stopped in Slaidburn briefly to use the toilets and then headed home via Waddington, Clitheroe and Sabden.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


After a couple of months of a biking hiatus I took the ZX-9R for its long overdue MOT. Again like the K1300s I took the bike over to Bikes and Beyond in Shaw. They gave the bike a thorough MOT and as expected it passed with flying colours. He did mention that the chain was like a bow string though (a bit tight), not sure how it has got tight as I set it up correctly last time I checked it.

After the MOT I took the bike for a run and it ran really well considering how long it has been sat unused in the garage for. It also didn’t show any signs of bogging down at mid revs like it did last time I used it, the carbs probably still need stripping down and cleaning though I would guess.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hawes Run

We went on a run to Hawes today with a Iain a fellow Z1000SX owner that Helen met on a Z1000SX Facebook page. It just so happens that he lives fairly local to us and also got the bike at the same time as Helen from Robinsons Rochdale. The other really funny thing is that we are near 100% certain that the luggage Helen got at the last minute for our Lakes Tour last year probably came off his bike before he got it.

Bikes @Settle We met up with Iain at the local services by us and then took our usual tried and tested route to Settle via Sabden, Sawley and Wigglesworth. We then proceeded to Hawes and back to Settle via Ribblehead Viaduct. We had intended to stop at the lovely tea rooms in Horton-in-Ribblesdale but we noticed on our way to Hawes that it was closed. So we decided to stop for lunch in Settle and got some food from the Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe instead. The weather was really nice so we sat outside on the picnic benches.

After lunch we headed home early via the usual route as Iain was travelling down to the boat show in Southampton.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Z1000SX Puig Screen

For Helen’s birthday I got her a new Puig Dark Smoke Screen for the Z1000SX. It was very easy to fit and all the holes lined up perfectly so it was easy to reuse the original OEM screws andZ1000SX Puig Screen washers. The screen looks like a quality  item and not the plastic crap that some manufacturers make. Like the Airblade screen that I had on the ZX-9R. Anyway the Puig screen has been tapered so that you can still use the screen adjuster to change the position, if you so wish. Helen just has it set at its tallest settings which helps keep the wind and flies off her helmet better. She also thinks that the dark smoke really complements the black of the bike and not a bit of an eyesore like the old clear one.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tyres, Setup, Scrubbing

Helen and I had new tyres fitted over the weekend. We had booked it far in advance to make sure we could get the tyres we wanted in time. We had ordered Michelin Pilot Road 3 tyres but he was unable to get a rear for my BMW as it has an odd size 190/55/17. So in the end we both opted to have the new Michelin Pilot Road 4 tyre fitted instead. They are slightly harder in the middle but the softer compound is much nearer the middle than on previous tyres. They have also reduced the amount of tread pattern near the edge of the tyre to give a larger rubber contact area for more grip. They have assumed that most people will not be using big lean angles in the wet. 

Unfortunately on Saturday the weather was awful with heavy downpours and thunder and lighting. We didn't really have much choice other than to go for the tyres. We only had to go round on the motorway so didn't expect too many problems. We had to filter for a bit around the Trafford Centre but otherwise it was ok and by the time we got to the tyre place the rain had stopped. While the tyres were being fitted we had a quick look in Ducati Manchester and had a coffee at a local cafe. The visit to Ducati confirmed to Helen that the Multistrada is to tall for her to feel comfortable with.

Helen's New Rear TyreWe had a little bonus when we came to pay as we found out Michelin are currently offering £25 cashback on a set of tyres. The offer runs through to the end of July, so if your after a set of tyres you might want to get them soon. As we left Sale and headed for our next stop in Atherton it started to rain heavily again. We were heading over to Kais Performance to have Helen’s suspension setup as she felt it wasn’t setup correctly for her. Again we had to filter past the Trafford Centre but we weren’t held up too badly. We arrived at Kais Performance and they promptly set about sorting it out, he said that it was setup too soft and was possibly hitting the bump stop. He also said the damping at the shock was pretty much set at its limit as the factory shock isn’t great, this I was already aware of. He also advised that with the luggage on the rear would probably drop about 10mm which would equate to 2 turns on the preload at the rear shock (We bought a nice Ohlins C-Spanner for the job). After that we headed back home in the rain again and had to filter for a while at the end of the M61 as more people were trying to get to the Trafford Centre.

The weather had picked up by Sunday so we decided to give the bikes a quick round around the Moors to give the tyres a scrubbing in cycle for our upcoming tour. The tyres felt pretty similar to the previous Road 3s we have had. They performed excellently in the wet yesterday and they seemed fine in the dry as well. Nice turn in and seemed to have plenty of grip only time will tell but first impressions are positive. They are also supposed to last longer as well, my bike was on 11,600 miles and Helen’s was on 1600 miles when they were fitted. The general problem with have with tyres though is that we usually have to change a set of part worn tyres as we are never sure if they will last for our upcoming tour. Which is exactly what happened last year to Helen’s rear tyre on the abrasive asphalt in the Vosges.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Late Dales Run

Yesterday we went out at around lunchtime for a quick run to Hawes and back. I had intended to watch the online streamed coverage of the Northwest 200. But although the weather here was superb, they were one of the few places in the UK to have rain. I watched one race and the other had been put back a bit so we decided to go out on the bikes instead, as Helen was keen on trying out her new gel seat and we needed to test the new Autocom leads as well.  We left home and headed straight for Settle on our usual tried and tested route. To our horror we discovered that they have started to resurface the road from Wigglesworth to Settle. Horton Lunch StopWhen I say resurface what I actually mean is throw done gravel and tar and expect the passing traffic to finish it off. This is not a major route so I expect that we will have to take it easy on this stretch for a good few months. We then headed for lunch at our usual tearooms in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. When we pulled up we got talking to a guy on an Aprilla who had broken down and been waiting for 2 hours already. His breakdown cover was with MCE as part of his policy.

After lunch we headed to Hawes and then headed back home the same way we had come. The good news is that the new Autocom leads have fixed all of our problems and the audio and bike to bike comms is better than it has been in ages. If your Autocom is giving you issue it might be worth checking this lead out first. The other good news is that the gel seat worked wonders for Helen. She also noticed the seat was slightly raised at the front which also meant that she didn’t feel like she was being lent forward towards the tank. So all in all the seat is an expensive cure to the issues she was having.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Z1000SX Gel Seat

Helen has has just bought a genuine Kawasaki gel seat for her Z1000SX. She decided to buy one after our ride last weekend as going over all the bumps really hurt her backside. Hopefully the gel seat will cure this and she will not get any further problems like this. The big test will come when we go on our 2 week tour of the Pyrenees. Z1000SX Gel Seat


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Bank Holiday Reeth Run

We went out on bank holiday Monday for a run around the Dales and test out all the equipment we had recently fitted on the bikes. Due to the weather being hot we decided to avoid the main roads and instead have a ride around on very minor roads, what we like to call goat tracks. We went on one of our tried and tested routes, that has served us well on previous busy bank holiday weekends. 

We left home and headed for Settle on our usual route via Clitheroe, Sawley and Wigglesworth. We then headed North on the B6479 towards Langcliffe. We turned right here onto minor roads and headed for Malharm Tarn. At Malham Tarn we bared left and headed towards Arncliffe.  We then passed over the small bridge by Darnbrook House and then rode alongside the Great Clowder. We then passed through Arncliffe and headed towards Kettlewell after joining the B6160. We had intended to stop in Kettlewell at the Cottage Tea Room, but Kettlewell was very busy as they had an event going on. So we decided not to stop and continue on to Reeth.

ReethWe left Kettlewell and headed towards Braidley we negotiated Park Rash and passed alongside Hunters Stone Bank. We then passed through Horsehouse and Gammersgill before arriving in Carlton. We then continued through Melmerby and Agglethorpe before joining the A684 at Wensley. We continued down the A684 into Leyburn where we took a left and headed over Preston Moor towards Reeth. We then went over Ellerton Moor before dropping down into Grinton. This part of the road was very busy and it even had temporary traffic lights set up at two of the tight passing spots on this road. We realised when we go to Grinton why this was, the main road out of Reeth was closed and all the traffic was being diverted this way. I would guess this has something to do with the Tour De France, as it is coming this way is July. In Grinton we joined the B6270 and headed into Reeth, because we didn’t stop in Kettlewell we had lunch in Reeth instead of the usual ice cream.

We left Reeth and continued down the B6270 heading for Muker. We passed through Healaugh, Feetham and Gunnerside on the way to Muker. Just after Muker we turned left and headed over Buttertubs Pass to Hawes. Our route from Leyburn to Hawes is the exact route the Tour De France will follow on Stage 1 of the race from Leeds to Settle Ice Cream Harrogate on the 5th July. We passed through Hawes and took  the B6255 towards Ribblehead Viaduct as usual. We turned left at the Viaduct and headed for Settle. We stopped in Settle for an Ice Cream from the Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe.

After our ice creams we left Settle and then continued on home via Sawley, Saben and the A56/M66. The new Satnav audio feed worked as expected on the Autocom unit. Both bike to bike radios worked but it is obvious we need to replace the  leads between the units and our helmets as they have damaged wires in them.


Sunday, May 04, 2014

Z1000SX Autocom Install

Today I installed Helen’s old Autocom unit on the her new Z1000SX. There is only one place you can really install it, if you still want access to the unit for adjustment and that is in the space behind the battery under the rider’s seat. The only downside to this location is there are no holes are anything else to secure the unit to. This meant that it had to be stuck down onto the flat plastic directly. At first I tried some glue on the old Velcro faster but that didn’t work. In the end I stuck it down (doubled over underneath unit) with some black Duck Tape and Z1000SX Autocom Install then for added security also put some over the top as well. I had previously checked that the radio would fit under the pillion seat so the cable to it had already been routed through to that location. So all I needed to do was connect up the positive, negative and route the main rider headset wire.

I spliced into the rear taillight circuit and solder the positive wire to it at the rear of the bike. You will find a 3 pin connector at the rear of the bike with Red, Black/Yellow, Blue coloured cables at it. The Red wire is the positive supply for the light, obviously it is switched on with the ignition. I connected the Negative wire directly to the battery, you always need to do this on Autocom systems otherwise you will get engine noise interference. I then routed the rider’s headset lead alongside the battery to the petrol tank and left it sticking out under the left front side of the rider’s seat. Then I put everything back together and it worked as it should. I have noticed that both of the leads that connect in between our helmets and this connector are a bit dodgy. Wiggling them causes them to crackle or not work all together. The wires internally have obviously been damaged by the constant bending and twisting of the cable. So I have ordered two new cables at £15.00 each.


Saturday, May 03, 2014

Pacsafe Lidsafe

Pacsafe Lidsafe01We have recently purchased a pair of Pacsafe Lidsafe bags to put our helmet’s in when we are away from the bikes. We will only likely use them when we are touring and the topboxes are full. We felt we needed to buy these as we love our Pacsafe Stuffsafe and neither of our bikes have helmet hooks fitted to them. There is nothing worse than having to lug all your bike gear with you when you go and visit a castle in the hot sun. 

Helen’s Z1000SX doesn’t have any hooks under the seat and my K1300S hooks were part of the rear grab handles. These handles were removed when I fitted the topbox rack. Last year Pacsafe Lidsafewe were able to use the hooks under the seat on Helen’s old VFR. But obviously the helmets will be far safer in these bags with the eXomesh® protection and on the plus side they will also now be in a waterproof bag. They pack down to around the size of a pint glass and don’t really weigh anything ever. They will easily fit in our topboxes and also help stop gear in the topboxes moving around. It would appear that both of these products are now discontinued so if you want either I would buy them now while you still can.


Garmin Audio

Autocom Unit Although it was nice and sunny today I decided to do some work on my bike rather than go out for a ride.

So I installed the audio lead from the Garmin audio out jack to my Autocom. Before I installed it I checked to make sure that it worked first and that no bike noise was induced into my headphones. All worked well so I went about stripping the bike down and removing the petrol tank again as well. The install went ok and the new lead was plenty long enough to route around the bike. I managed to install the lead’s isolation box on top of the Autocom unit, it just fitted in. I then put the bike back together and all seems to work perfectly and the volume is just right. The minor downside is that the install at the Garmin end isn’t as neat as it was before, but at least I have sound now.

Satnav MountI also installed the slightly larger Ram mount bracket that I used to use with my TomTom satnav. This has lifted the Garmin slightly higher up and in my opinion is a much better location as I don’t have to look down as much. The dials are all still perfectly visible as well over the top of the Garmin, so it is a win win situation all round.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hartside Run

Helen and I went on a run on the Saturday of the Easter weekend to Hartside. We left home at around 10:30am and headed on our usual main roads to Clitheroe. Due to traffic in Simonstone we turned off the main road and headed through Sabden and over Pendle Hill to the A59. We then cut across the A59 and headed through Clitheroe and out the other side towards Waddington on the B6478. We then followed the B6478 to Slaidburn where we stopped briefly to use the toilets. We left Slaidburn on the Slaidburn B6478 and then soon turned onto minor roads and headed passed Stocks Reservoir and through Gisburn Forest to the A65 just East of Ingleton. Here we joined the A65 and followed it to Devil’s Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale. We didn’t stop and instead joined the A683 and headed up towards Sedbergh, we turned off just before Sedbergh onto the B6257. We followed this road over the A684 at which point it turns into a narrow single track road. We then followed it until we joined the A685 and took that to Tebay. We stopped at the local services in Tebay for fuel and then headed over to Orton on the B6260. We decided to stop in Orton for lunch at the newly opened Silver Yard Cafe. It is a nice and quiet cafe set in a lovely rural location. We would definitely recommend it and will certainly use it again.

From Orton we continued on the B6261 over Crosby Ravensworth Fell to the A6 at Shap. We then took the A6 all the way up to Penrith. After that we took the A686 towards Alston, after Melmerby we started the climb of Hartside. For once we got a lovely clear run up to the cafe at the top, the majority of the road has been resurfaced now so you don’t have to worry about any potholes or loose Silver Yard Cafe gravel. We didn’t stop at top as we have decided to boycott the cafe after previous poor service and blatantly lying to us about our missing order. So we continued down the otherside to Alston. We turned right in Alston and took the B6277 to Middleton-in-Teesdale. In Middleton we turned right onto the B6276 and headed into Brough. We then went on the A685 to Kirkby Stephen. Kirkby Stephen was very busy and it was the only place that we had any real traffic problems of the day. We eventually got through and then turned left onto the B6259. We then went passed Pendragon Castle and over Mallerstang Common to the junction with the A684 at the Moorcock Inn. We turned left here and took the A684 into Hawes, we didn’t stop in Hawes and immediately turned right onto the B6255 and headed towards the Ribblehead Viaduct. At Ribblehead we turned left to Settle on the B6479, we stopped in Settle for an ice cream from the Ye Olde Naked Man Café.

After the ice cream we went on our usual route back home via Rathmell and Sawley.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

BMW Launch, Hawes & Garmin

Today we visited the BMW launch event at Williams BMW in Manchester. It was very busy but we were able to get a look and sit on the new S1000R. I was also able to get to grips with two other K1300s bikes and found both of their throttles to be smooth in operation. Mine has a real bad notchy feel as you initially turn the throttle. Could this be one of the cables or the grip itself? When I install the new audio wire for the SatNav comms, I think I will have a look at this and the throttle bodies again. This time I will also take the airbox off and actually look inside the bodies at the butterflies as well.

Helen on S1000R After a free coffee and a Bockwurst in a bap with headed for Clitheroe and the Yorkshire Dales. We had a run up to Hawes and back on our usual route via Sabden, Sawley, Wigglesworth, Settle and Ribblehead Viaduct. We stopped just outside Horton-in-Ribblesdale at our usual tearoom stop. We prefer to stop here these days as it is usually very quiet and the owner is very welcoming. No major issues to report, the K1300s performed brilliantly with no hint of a sticking throttle. Helen was a bit rusty at first, but soon got the hang of her S1000SX. We had a nice quiet ride, more cars than bikes were out today around the Dales.

My first opinion of the Garmin 350LM is a good one although there are things that I don’t like. Currently the unit is mounted a little bit too low for me and I find I have to really take my eyes off the road to see it. Obviously when I get the sound working I won’t have to do this as much. But I think I will install my other Ram Mount double ball clamp bracket as it is a little bit longer. The SatNav is very easy to use with a glove and ever button/icon I pressed on screen I hit first time everytime. It followed the route I had plotted on Basecamp to the letter and when I made a slight detour it was able to recalculate a route to get me back on track, without backtracking. One slight annoyance is that it gives you the distance to your final destination not one of the set points I had made on route. This information is stored on the trip/stats screen instead, which is a quick button press away though. I don’t like the 3D map view the Garmin uses I much prefer TomToms approach. Also TomTom gives you a much better idea of the severity of corners, Garmin seems to flatten them out more. I did notice that some sharp turns it actually thinks are junction turns and navigates as such. Not sure what the vocal command is though as I don’t have sound yet. I will have to wait till I have sound enabled to my helmet before a can make a proper judgement on the SatNav overall.


Friday, March 14, 2014

MOT & Garmin SatNav

I took the K1300s for its MOT yesterday to Bikes and Beyond in Shaw. I chose this place as it is run by bikers and also enabled me to give the bike a bit of a run on the way there. The throttle behaved perfectly on our drive and also just before I arrived for the MOT. However the problem did rear its ugly head during the MOT test but he passed the bike anyway and just said keep an eye on it (it was only catching slightly and not sticking for long). Then once I had got home I again was unable to replicate the problem.

Once home I decided to connect the SatNav up to the Bluetooth module of my Autocom unit. The SatNav found the Bluetooth module and connected. However I then found a massive issue with the SatNav. The volume was far too low and there is no way of adjusting it on the SatNav, it says to adjust the sound on your headset. Erm well you can’t do that on the Autocom system, TomTom allow you to change the volume. This is a massive glaring oversight on Garmin’s part, if I had known this I probably would have gone with the TomTom Rider instead. Fortunately the Garmin does have an audio jack at the bottom of the unit so I will be able to hardwire the sound into the Autocom.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Garmin SatNav Mount

While I had the K1300s apart on Sunday it was the ideal time to install the Garmin SatNav mount on the bike as well. The way the cable fits into the mount isn’t very easy to remove once installed, so the install had to be a permanent one really.

Garmin Cradle The new Garmin SatNav is now a 5V unit (USB voltage) so to power it from a 12V system Garmin have supplied a 12V to 5V step down unit with a built in noise filter. This unit is not small and as other owners have reported, it may not be easy to find a suitable place to install it. This is certainly true on the K1300s as most of the space is filled up on this bike, especially if you have most of the extra toys fitted. Thankfully having the fuel tank out enabled me to find a suitable spot that this box just fitted into. I managed to install it between the frame and the ABS unit on the left side of the bike in front of the seat just under the fuel tank.  The cable was also long enough to connect to the spare socket in front of the Garmin 350LM battery, (designed for the BMW SatNav) then route back down to the install location I had found and then back up to the mount location. I installed the new Ram Mount and cradle to my current yoke ball mount. The new cradle and SatNav fits better than my old one and doesn’t obscure the clocks at all. I also tested it with my tankbag fitted and although it is close, I was able to find a position that didn’t interfere with the movement of the handlebars from lock to lock. I am very happy with the install and just have to now setup the bluetooth with the Autocom and go out and test it.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Big K Throttle Issue

Well on Sunday after my rideout on the ZX-9R I decided in the nice sunny weather to pull the K1300s apart and have a look at the throttle bodies.

I removed the fairings and the fuel tank, not too difficult of a job in the end. I then actuated the throttle twist grip  while looking at the throttle body end. The return spring and cable fully return to the home K1300s Stripped downposition every time and it doesn’t appear to stick at all. Now if this is returning then I would guess that the butterflies are returning also. The plastic part that is know to fail on K1200s seemed to be in good condition. So I really don’t think that the throttle bodies are the issue and the twist grip doesn’t seem to stick either. Unfortunately due to it being SORN at the moment I can’t take the bike out for a spin to check whether it does it when the bike is moving and warm. I guess I will just have to take it for the MOT and hope it doesn’t occur during the test and then leave it until it becomes more apparent.


Monday, March 10, 2014

First Run of 2014

I went out yesterday on the ZX-9R for a quick run around the Yorkshire Dales. It had to be the ZX-9R as the K1300s is currently SORN awaiting a MOT.

Usual pre winter ride checks, oil chain and pump up tyres etc. The back brake was dragging a lot due to the pads having not moved on the disc in months. I rode slowly around the estate and activated the back brake to clean it up and promptly locked it up and had a minor rear wheel slide. Anyway that seemed to do the trick and it was fine after that. I filled up with fuel and then joined the motorway and did a few more controlled braking cycles to clean things up. All seemed well with brakes and bike so I was happy to continue my ride.

I headed over to Hawes on the usual roads, M66/A56 towards Clitheroe. Then minor roads to Settle via Sawley and Wigglesworth. Then the usual B6479 to Ribblehead Viaduct and then the B6255 to Hawes. It was quite overcast and cold and the road in places was still a bit damp and greasy. The road surface in generally was in good condition and seems to have survived all the rain, plenty of waterlogged fields though. On arriving in Hawes I stopped at the Penny Garth Café for a much need coffee. It was quite busy for 10:00am in the morning in March. 

After the coffee I left Hawes on the A684 and headed over to Sedbergh. This stretch of road was particularly damp and greasy in places. At one stage as I applied power to pass another biker the rear stepped out slightly as it lost traction. Thankfully the ZX-9R isn’t too brutal and it is easy to regain control in such situations. I arrived in Sedbergh in no time and then joined the A683 and headed south towards Kirkby Lonsdale and Devil’s Bridge. A vast amount of ZX-9R on Waddington Fellspeed camera signs have been erected along this stretch of road over the winter. Presumably this means that they are now using a safety camera van along this stretch of road at times. Anyway I didn’t stop at Devil’s Bridge as it hadn’t been that long since I was at Hawes. It looked fairly busy but not stupidly so. I then turned onto the A65 and headed towards Skipton and turned off at our usual spot to go passed Stocks Reservoir and through Gisburn Forest. Then joined the B6478 and headed for Clitheroe via Slaidburn and Waddington Fell, where I stopped briefly to take a photo. I then stopped in Clitheroe briefly to refuel before heading home, arriving home in time for lunch.

The ZX-9R performed reasonably fine today although there seems to be a flat spot between 5000 to 6000rpms. Above 7000rpms it really pulls fine, will need to have a look when I do the 16000 mile valve check.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Post Winter Update

Well I thought I’d better put an update on the blog just so it doesn’t look like we have dropped off the face of the earth.

Well not surprisingly given the excellent weather of late, we have not been out on our bikes at all this year so far. There have been a few days were we could have gotten out but on those occasions we were busy doing something else that needed good weather to do. Also because of the bad weather I have not had a look at the K1300s and its slight sticking throttle issue. This fault has also meant that I haven’t had it MOT’d so as the tax was running out I have had to declare it SORN at the moment. I think next time I tax it I will only get six months to avoid having to SORN it again.

I also haven’t done the valve check on the ZX-9R yet either but that isn’t mega urgent and so can wait till later on in the year. Another job I also have to do is install the old Autocom unit onto Helen’s new Z1000SX, I have looked at the installation though and know exactly where and how I’m going to do it. The radio thankfully just fits under the seat and I have already installed its cable when I had the seat unit apart to install the new luggage racks.

For Christmas we decided to buy ourselves a new SatNav for the bikes. The car one that we have used previously did the job but has started having issues recently. The two main issues are that the internal battery is completely shot. This means that if the power connection to it comes loose for even a second it switched off and took a good 30 seconds to come boot back up. This caused us massive issues when we where away in the Vosges last year. The other issue is that for some reason when using the Bluetooth option to link the sound up with the Autocom the SatNav kept crashing, it never did this on the VFR so I don’t know whether the SatNav is at fault or it is a strange issue with the BMW. Anyway we decided to get a bike specific SatNav this time and so opted for the Garmin 350LM. It isn’t as feature rich as my car SatNav but is obviously waterproof and the screen is friendlier for gloved hands. Initial thoughts are that the mounting system is excellent (well they are RAM mounts) and the Garmin will suit are needs perfectly. The other added bonus is the Basecamp software, which will be good for planning the routes on. It looks like what route you plan on Basecamp the SatNav will follow to the letter. This didn’t always happen with the car SatNav as it would sometimes change the route between waypoints on the fly. Once we have tested the Garmin on the bikes I will be able to give a better more rounded review in the future.