Bikes (revised).

I did a long and boring blog of the trials and tribulations of my recent bike experiences, but the Geneva Convention forbids me from sharing it. Much of this stuff is just note keeping for my own future reference.

So, first things first. I know what everyone’s been thinking: “How much longer is that lad going to keep that bike? He’s had it for ages.”

Fret not! The Triumph is gone!

I had a bit of an ordeal selling it, the guy who bought it had told his girlfriend he was going to spend the money from his previous bike sale on them. Then he bought my bike. Oddly, she then didn’t want to give him a lift to pick mine up. Women, eh? The guy rang me up and said he still wanted the bike, but I’d have to deliver it. Which would have been a 140 mile (country roads, no motorway) round trip. And I’d have had to arrange a lift with Luke to get back. I was going along with it, for the sake of a sale, but then Wendy got all rage-y that the guy was taking advantage of me. “When have you ever asked anyone to deliver a bike?”

It’s true. I had booked train tickets to Dundee to ride my next bike 280 miles home. This guy was making it my problem how he got his bike. I said no, I was going to relist it on eBay. He got a lift.

I was all set to go to Dundee to pick up my new bike, but the night before the guy emailed me through the sale site (Gumtree) to say he’d taken it out for a last test spin and it had broken down, he was pulling the sale. Because of the lag going through Gumtree I didn’t get the email until 4 hours later, by which time the insurance company were shut.

I rang them first thing in the morning, but the policy had activated at midnight so they charged me 43p for usage on the policy. And £63 for cancelling the policy. Out of a £180 annual policy. Legally enforced robbery.

At least I got a full refund on my train ticket, and the consolation of thinking if he hadn’t taken it for a spin I might have been 250 miles from home with a dead bike. That would have been a long push.

I knew the model I wanted, a CBR600F. Someone on Twitter mentioned they were trying to track down one they’d previously owned and were deeply regretting selling.  I looked it up on MotorCycle News (MCN) and they said they were fantastic bikes. Sports/ tourers that did everything. Brilliantly. And had a bulletproof engine. A lot like an updated version of my much loved VFR750, but with fuel injection instead of messing about with carbs. It was the carbs that finally finished me with the VFR.

I tried to buy several bikes, but got nowhere. I worked myself into a bit of a state over which way to go. The cheaper end of the market had some reasonable bikes for good money. The dearer end had some lovely bikes.

I was fretting so much I couldn’t sleep at night.

In the end I found some peace by thinking of it as the bike I wanted for me. There were two at the dearer end, one was pristine condition, low miles, completely standard. Exactly the bike for selling. (But if you ride it every day, the miles go up, the condition deteriorates, and you want to change it to non-standard to make it a better bike.) The other was about the same price, a few more miles (5,000) but had all the upgrades.

For me, to ride, that was the better bike. I got that one.

CBR600F 1

It’s got the better screen for wind protection, full stainless steel exhaust system, with a lighter silencer that is road legal and oddly not too loud, braided brake lines (the original ones swell and lose braking bite after nearly 20 years) new tyres, heated hand grips, crash bungs… It’s the full package.

I rode it home in the rain. Good, steady, reassuring posture and grip. None of the banzai wheelie-ing of the Triumph. As soon as I got it home I drilled some holes and fitted the number plate properly (The seller had had a tiny strip number plate held on with tape) and fitted the topbox.

I took it for a test ride to Barrow in Furness on my day off. The good news is it was a 180 round trip, only stopping for petrol, and my arse was fine, the fairing took the brunt of the wind blast so it was comfy, and made it a lot quieter as well.

The bad news was the acceleration was sluggish through most all of the range. Unless you were right at the top of the 14,000rpm (bike screaming) it was sedate acceleration. And it only got 90 miles to a 13 litre (3 gallon) tank. That’s not right.

I googled it, and it’s a fuelling issue. Someone else getting 25mpg had asked about it . Seems they run a bit rich anyway, if you put a sports exhaust on without remapping the engine it’s basically running flooded. The answer, they said, was a power commander. This is a little box you plug into your electrical system that overrides the fuelling commands from the bikes computer, allowing it to be set to run at optimum for your set-up. It was £364 (!) so I was really worried about it not working, but I couldn’t have kept the bike as it was, so I took the gamble. I’ve ridden it to work a few days and it’s brilliant. A different bike. I’m off tomorrow so I can test the mpg, but I’m happy with it now. Perhaps this is the exact bike I’ve been after. Perhaps.

It will go like stink, handles nicely, is predictable, will chug comfortably at any speed, and you have to work it to ride it. If you’re chugging along at 90 you have to drop two gears for hard acceleration. Not like the the FireBlade where you twisted the throttle at any speed in any gear and instantly made the jump to light speed. That was a pointless bike, 75% of it never got used. I can ride this through the winter without worrying about spoiling the prettiness of the exposed engine unlike the on the Triumph.


I forgot to say the front wheel on a motorbike is held on my a spindle running through the centre of the wheel which has a nut on the end. To hold that in place there are two pinch bolts at the bottom of each fork leg.


Ignore the yellow arrow. Two blue arrows are the pinch bolts, to the right is the nut on the spindle.

I got back from testing the top end of the bike and it’s acceleration, 180 fast miles, and was working on another job when I noticed one of the pinch bolts was sticking out, loose. Not good. I checked the others. All four of them were finger tight. I could literally tighten them with my finger and thumb.

Good grief! I tightened them, checked the nut, adjusted the chain and made sure the rear wheel was properly fitted, and did an oil and oil filter change just to be on the safe side. You just never know what kind of a moron you are buying from!


So. It was an ordeal, and I tortured myself over it (which is not like me. I focus, obsess, buy) but I’ve got the bike, got it set up right, and I’m a happy bunny.

Now that’s gone from obsession to transport I can move on. Test the mpg tomorrow, fit some smaller indicators when the arrive from China (just for the aesthetics) and I’m done. Sorted bike for all purposes for years to come. Wendy has issues with me saying that. This is barely my third bike this year, I don’t know why she doubts me. When I tried to list my last one on Gumtree they refused to post my advert. I got in contact, and it was because I’d registered the advert as a private sale and, based on the number of bikes I’d sold, they had me down as a trader. Everyone’s a critic.


Now I can refocus on my other boring obsession; running.

My foot feels a whole let better lately. It’s still not perfect, but compared to how bad it got, it’s entirely acceptable. I’m going to return to sub 3 hour marathon training. Not that there’s any sign of any races being held. Ever. But just for me.

I was trying to establish my maximum heart rate (MHR) for heart rate running. The idea is that you run 80% of that time in zone 2 (MHR being zone 5). They say to run flat out for 12 minutes (or something) to get an accurate measure of your MHR.  I decided if I was going to go flat out I might as well attempt something significant so I went for 5K runs. (3.1 miles). It sounds a lot easier than, say, a half marathon, but it’s the ‘flat out’ thing that gets you. I had 3 goes.

My PB was 21.35 from last year when I was fit, just before I injured myself. In May I got a 23.59, which was dire but the best I could do. First attempt I got 21.45, second 21.02! A new PB! And I set my MHR, at a very lazy 166bpm. I’ve had a run since then but only managed 21.07. My next big goal is to try to get sub 20 minutes.

Anyway, my point is, I ran a 100 mile week, and I’ve broken last year’s 5K PB.  Twice. My fitness is back. My hoof seems to be on the mend. It’s time to focus on an actual plan rather than just do whatever daft challenge pops into my head.

That’s where I am now. Bike and running. That’s about it.

Apart from the bug. It keeps hitting us every now and then. Sore throat, weakness, chesty. It passes within a day or two but it feels like it’s never ending.

And I’ve asked work about full time hours. Again. They’ve said it’s not a problem, as soon as the other drivers we’ve got working on our side now (the ones who usually deliver rigid trucks to schools and pub and restaurants) go back to their proper job. So. Piece of string. *sigh*

Right, that’s me.

Still long and boring. Ho hum. 

I’ve caught up now, the next one will be short and boring.



PS, forgot to say. Wendy has had her hair cut for the first time in 5 months. This is the greatest event in human history, apparently. The moon landing is but a footnote to it. I’ve gone the other way. I saw an old guy, thin on top, but still got his long hair. It was a way better look than I’m pulling off, so I’m growing mine again. Yay!