20 August 2009

Roadtest - Suzuki VZ800 Marauder

This road-test was originally published in 1997 on the original SOC Geocities hosted website and transferred over here when Yahoo killed off Geocities.

When Suzuki offered to let me have the VZ800 Marauder for a week or two to test, I was very happy to have a 'free' bike for the duration of two big runs to the BMF/ACU National Rally and a Suzuki Owners Club Scotland trip.

At the southern entrance to Glen Coe
The only factory custom bike I have ever ridden before was an early Yamaha XS400 back in the early Eighties. It had not endeared me to custom bikes! After a trip to the FIM Rally in the Czech Republic in 1995 with a riding partner on a Suzuki Savage, I had begun to think that although not actually my cup of tea, with real perseverance, these bikes could be more than 'canteen cowboy' outfits.

Near Loch Ness
So it was with a bit of trepidation that I picked the bike up from Ken Fulton, the SOC's magazine Editor (at the time), who had in turn picked it up for me from Suzuki GB. He's local and it saves having time off work to get down there before 5pm!

In the five miles Ken had put on the clock he had decided that almost everything was wrong with the bike. It was under braked. It under steered alarmingly and it was a custom bike. Ken's own bike is a Yamaha FZR 1000. So it's not surprising that he was a little jaundiced.

On top of that evaluation, I had read very little in any of the pro-comics apart from a 'First Impressions' type test, where it got slagged for not being fast enough.

The ninety-mile ride back to sunny Bedfordshire was done at a fairly low pace. The main trouble was indeed the under steer! Launching into the first of three roundabouts between Ken's flat and the M23 resulted in some rather heavy-handed correction. The engine, although showing 1600 miles on the clock, was still very stiff but it was willing to pull up to 70mph once on the motorway.

Having no experience of feet forward biking, I found it difficult to get my feet on the pegs at the right time! I'm used to conventionally designed bikes where your feet are under you somewhat. Once this was sorted with a lot of vocal instruction (talking to myself!) I was fine.

The only nuisance was the seat position. Suzuki has designed the bike for an ideal height (I am guessing!)  of 5ft 7ins. I'm 6ft! With feet firmly on the forward controls, and in a position to use them, my longer legs pushed me back against the back of the seat. Firstly, the pillion strap on the rear 'brick' pad scrubbed the skin off the base of my spine, and then it was the 'brick' itself when I had re-routed the strap!

The following morning, complete with backpack for a weekend, I set up on the 440 mile M1/M6 run to Dumfries in Borders Scotland. The trip was planned during the early 'summer' we had in spring, by June (it was the wettest in 25 years locally!) it was pouring with rain nearly every day. At 9am I looked out of the kitchen window and thought there was no way I was doing the journey. By 9.30am I was on the bike and joining the sodden masses northwards.

My luggage was restricted to a backpack, as my Swagman throw over panniers wouldn't fit on the brick without fouling the 'shotgun' style double pipes on the right of the bike. So taking the backpack was the alternative, and fortuitous it turned out too.

I endured the pouring rain with stops to rest my lower back at Corley (after only fifty miles) and Stafford (120 miles!) services before the sun began to show itself around Keele. By my next stop for bum relief at Knutsford it was warm and I stopped to remove my waterproofs, and to have lunch. From then on it was good weather all the way until about the same sort of location on the way back!

The Marauder, or XZ800 as it is also known, is a 45 degree 805cc v-twin, based on the engine that powers the Intruder range. It's liquid-cooled and somehow, the Suzuki engineers have managed to de-tune the Intruder lump! According to the bumph it is a mere 50hp. Torque seemed pretty good and it gave the impression of being a real stump-puller. Fuel economy seemed pretty poor, but this I put down to the 150-mile headwind endured until Knutsford.

The colour schemes are quite nice too. From the brochure that Suzuki sent me, Candy Koran Orange/Traditional Metallic Silver looks like the most garish, but I was very satisfied with Black/Candy Forest Green. With the extra helpings of chrome it looks the part too.

Unlike the custom styled Intruder, the Marauder is fitted with a 16in front wheel and a 130/90 tyre (fatter than my XJ900 Yam's rear!) and a 15in 150/90 rear. The same as I had on a Cavalcade a few years back. Despite these balloon tyres, it did tend to follow the joins in the motorway lanes and white line a bit when changing lanes. The impression given is of a long low bike. This is confirmed when you look at the 27.6 inch seat height and an overall length of 93.1 inches!

Probably the most noticeable styling points are the 41mm upside-down forks. These are non-adjustable, and I couldn't tell that they were any better than conventional forks. Apart from the fact they look much more butch! The rear shocks are adjustable only for pre-load. Despite my bulk, they were left on the delivery settings.

The huge Harleyesque air cleaner on the right of the engine is in fact a storage box, as also is the dummy starter motor behind the rear cylinder; in fact it holds the tool kit! There's another small storage box under the front seat.

Apart from having legs that were too long, I found all the controls easily to use and everything was efficient. Instruments are restricted to a single Speedo in a chromed housing on the bars with the minimum of idiot lights, only the essentials, plus and indicator repeater between the bars.

The single front disk was very good once bedded in. I know that Suzuki change the brake pads and fluid before every bike goes out on test, so Ken may have not had them working at their peak. The rear drum was very efficient and in the wet proved quite progressive without locking up, sometimes when panic braking was the order of the day on the elevated section of the M6. Do car drivers not have mirrors in Brummyland?

The large headlamp was actually very good in the dark and I was able to maintain quite good speeds along country lanes locally in Bedfordshire.

The fuel tank is only 13 litres, but given the figures I got for fuel consumption, this is more than the body can take!

By the time I stopped again on the M6 for petrol, (I was stopping every 100-115 to rest back and avoid embarrassing running out of fuel scenarios) at Tebay, I had a large grin on my face. Most cars that passed had passengers craning their necks to see that the bike was. It doesn't give anything away with just 'Marauder' on the tank's flanks. At Tebay I met a couple on a big twin Harley on their way to a HOG bash at Aviemore and so I wasn't surprised when I caught up a gang of 883 Piglets on the run up to the Shap summit. As I clawed my way past them, Piglet leader took a handful of throttle and started to out crawl me. I took a handful of Marauder throttle and it was Piglet abattoir time! The Marauder responded and the speedo went from 65 to 80 in quite a respectable time. As an ex-GSXR1100 owner, I can recognise a bit of power when it wakes me up. In the perfectly placed mirrors I watched the Piglets dropping back and was we passed the Shap marker they weren't in sight! Bigger grin.

This actually showed that with almost 2000 miles on the odometer, the engine was far freer than it had been at any time since picking it up. As I peeled off onto the A75 a BMW R1100GS that flashed past put me in my place. At least I could say he got past because I was filtering left. Yes? No?

I was the first to arrive at the Dumfries and Galloway College, where we were to stay in student accommodation. Most of the students having already left for the summer.

The next two full days were spent covering nigh on 250 miles between Dumfries, Tarbert on the west side Loch Fyne and Fort William. I kept a record of fuel consumption and apart from the disappointing early M1 and M6 figures of 46mpg, it was high 50's all the time and on the run back from Glencoe to Motherwell through Glasgow it peaked at 62mpg. Not bad for a custom styled 805cc cruiser with a 17 stone rider and heavy pack, and no fairing!

At Tarbert on Sunday morning I removed the 'brick'. A simple job of undoing two bolts under the front seat and the chromed Allen key on the rear mudguard. The bobbed rear mudguard (fender?) is plastic, but there's a very strong frame loop underneath it! I carried the 'brick' in the backpack all Sunday and all the way home on Monday. Taking it off allows a taller rider to sit a bit further back on the front seat. I wish I'd taken it off on Friday and left it at home! The sheer ergonomics of feet forward riding makes it far more difficult to relieve your bum like you can on a normal bike. There's no way to get any leverage to raise your butt off the seat. I did find, by some contortions, that I could get my feet on the rear rests and lever myself up a bit that way. Not to be recommended! The downside of sitting further back on the seat means that you get the seat lock to sit on instead, but it's smaller and less intrusive.

After an 1100-mile weekend on the Marauder I used it to commute to work on. Ideal for the job. It starts easily and turned in 60mpg for the week.

After the problems with the seat being uncomfortable on long runs, it stayed in the garage the following weekend, and I did the National Rally on my own XJ900.

Somewhere in Scotland!
Overall, the Marauder is a fine bike, it would be an excellent bike for someone that likes cruiser styled bikes and who is or is less than 5ft 7ins tall! There are a number of custom accessories available for the bike in the US and Europe. I've not seen the leaflet in UK yet. A screen might be okay. But I never felt any problems with the wind rush against me. Once the engine loosened the run home was done at an average of around 53mph. Think about it! Fort William to Bedfordshire in 9 hours?

Would I buy one? No. Not unless the seat position can be changed to suit tall fat blokes like me!

The Marauder has actually given me the taste to try other custom-styled bikes, so if any other manufacturers want to lend me one, I'm in the phone book!

NB. All pics were taken by me on the Scotland trip.

Roadtest - Suzuki TU250X

(Originally written and published on the old Geocities hosted SOC website in 1997)

With the UK Government thinking of ways to force commuters onto public transport on the one hand, soaking the motorist with the other hand - road tolls, commuting into City tolls, increased in Vehicle Excise Duty on top of another hike in petrol tax, the motorcycle couldn't be better placed to provide personal transport when you want it, in a more 'environmentally friendly' way.

So when I was offered the latest addition to the Suzuki commuter range, the TU250X, I was actually quite looking forward to trying a bike that might fit the bill for the beleaguered commuter of the future.

During my trips to Spain this Spring, I saw quite a few TU's on the streets in Murcia. Although not as popular as the Yamaha SR250, there were significantly more than you'd see in any UK town.

The Mediterranean weather is far more attractive for people to consider biking. Most of the city centres in Spain are old and not suitable for traffic, and parking can be a nightmare. So small bikes come into their own. With the UK Government starting to see the commuter motorist as a source of revenue for the Treasury, small bikes might be the way to go. Unfortunately, the first step was somewhat backward, when Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, actually raised VED on this capacity of small bike. Even Homer Simpson could have done a better job than that.

So what about the TU250 makes it so popular in Spain? Essentially it is a GN250 in new clothes. The engine, frame and running gear are the same as the custom styled stable mate. What we have here is a 249cc sohc, air-cooled single cylinder motor, the same as the GN250. Suzuki's paperwork, which came with the bike, made no hp claims. I would reckon that it's probably around 20bhp at most. The 'bars are lower and the seating position is far more comfortable for larger and taller riders.

The model I had was officially Warm Silver Metallic, but it looked more grey than silver. The other two colours are Candy President Maroon and Candy Teal Blueish Green. Both of these were very evident in the Spanish market. At 125kg it is very light and a seat height of 29.5 ins. makes it ideal for shorter riders as well.

The 12-litre tank and seat unit are very different to the GN. The tank is quite bulbous and the overall styling is supposed to reflect the bikes of the Sixties. The legend 'Super Classic' on the side panel is supposed to confirm this. The seat is actually a tan colour rather than the usual black. The front section is removable and underneath you'll find a small tray for small items such as a disc lock. I couldn't fit my cable-lock in it though. The handbook and a European Suzuki dealer list is cleverly hidden under the rear seat in a small plastic 'cigar-case' style box cum folder. A novel idea.

Once on the bike, like most new Suzuki’s there is a clutch interlock and a cut-out on the side stand. Starting means pulling out the choke from the single carb, pulling in the clutch and if in gear, pulling up the side stand before pressing the start button. The starter didn't fail to have the bike ticking over after only one press of the button. The choke can be put fully in immediately. The gearbox is the same reliable 5 speed unit that Suzuki have been perfecting over a number of years and this one is no different.

The controls all fall easily to hand and feet and are very easy to use. Suzuki has dropped the tachometer and has provided the rider with a single chrome surrounded speedo on the top yoke. The headlamp is a large, and effective, unit that features a painted body ands chrome rim. It also only boasts three idiot lights; two symmetrical green ones for neutral and indicator repeater and a small blue high-beam light inside the bottom of the speedo.

The demo bike also came equipped with a genuine Suzuki fork mounted fairing. This was perfectly colour matched and fitted rigidly to the top of the fork legs between the yokes. It kept the wind off quite well and didn't have any real effects on handling.

Handling isn't too bad given the light weight and spindly S rated tyres. Suspension is a little basic with only the rear shocks adjustable. However, it coped with me onboard very well. At higher speeds on sweeping bends there was a slight tendency for the bars to wobble slightly. This may be a combination of suspension, tyres and the light weight of the bike combining. At 65-70mph the bike was pretty stable.

Overtaking is a serious business though. On the flat the top speed varies from about 65-75mph, on downhill runs I found myself shutting off to keep it in the 70's. Catching up slower moving traffic on the open roads required a lot of forward observation and planning to make sure that you can get past, and back in, before anything comes the other way, or worse, an incline appears, and speed begins to scrub off naturally! In the end, you get used to it and ride everywhere at 3/4 throttle! It is FUN!

The bike had only 360 miles on the clock when I picked it up from Crawley, and I added another 360 on trips commuting to work and on the BMF's Dunstable Downs run on August Bank Holiday Sunday. Given the low mileage it took a while to ensure that it was run-in okay. I cruised back on the motorways and after 88 miles managed to squeeze a mere 5 litres into the tank. I didn't believe it either! I had been moving along quite well on the motorways almost door to door and I'm sure Tesco aren't selling more petrol than their pump says! The first refill gave figures of 79.9mpg!

Although more suited to a smaller and lighter rider, the TU manfully took on the job of a whole week's commuting 15 miles each way to work and back. Mainly on fast A road and the Bedford bypass. Speeds ranged between 55 and 70 for most of the way. So imagine my surprise to get 158.2 miles for 9.5 litres - 75.6mpg! A smaller lighter rider must be able to get figures well in the 80's.

Returning the bike back to Crawley saw 171.1 miles on the clock before it went on to reserve. Not bad for a bike with a 12 litre tank and an oversized rider.

I took it on the BMF's Dunstable Downs Run, and it generated a bit of interest from folks that had never seen one before. I did my sales pitch for Suzuki in return for the loan of the bike. Most people commented on the old bike styling, and I think that's what Suzuki's designers had in mind.

The TU250 is the Fiat Panda of the bike world, well, possibly the Seat Marbella. The GN is the original and therefore the Panda! It is cheap to run, has few frills but seems to be utterly reliable. I speak from a position of knowledge having had a Panda for 160000 miles!

Admittedly, the bike is a little small for someone as large as I am. It is certainly too small for two-up touring, but as a commuter and gadabout bike it is ideal. It would suit anyone returning to biking after a lay-off, and also any learners that want a small bike to learn on and then keep for trips after they have passed the test. It is the ideal solution to the latest of the Government's "soak the car drivers as usual" scheme.

At the top of the Suzuki brochure for the model it says 'A Fun Bike that "Grows on You"'. It's true. Although small and relatively under powered I had a grin on my face after riding it!

If you are in the market for a small commuter or fun bike for local trips, then at the Suzuki list price of £2899 you could do much worse. And think of the savings in petrol over your Volvo or Mr Prescott's rail fares!

I added the pix after I received a comment from a viewer, containing a few expletives that I won't publish, complaining about the lack of photos. 

These are not ones I took as it was years ago and pre-digital era, although as soon as I get a scanner I can add the pics of the bike tested.  Those here are 'net pix.


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

18 August 2009


Ickworth, originally uploaded by Invicta Moto.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Ickworth NT

17 August 2009

Roadtest - GSF1200S-T Bandit

Roadtest originally published on the old Geocities SOC website in 1996!!

Author: Paul Devall
On the drive down to Crawley, where Suzuki GB is situated, to pick up the Bandit I really didn't know what to expect. I had just read a really praiseworthy test of the bike in 'RiDE' and wondered if I would get the same bike. In the end I got one of that bikes 'brothers'. 

When Roger Simmons, the test fleet manager, and former mechanic to the stars of the Heron Suzuki racing teams of the past (remember Barry Sheene, Randy Mamola.....), brought N119 NCD round to the front, it looked very nice. It was the metallic red colour, they call it maroon, that I prefer to Teal Green and Black. After a few instructions about the small quirks on the bike I was then soon able to ride off. Only I'd forgotten my boots at home! I had all the riding gear I needed apart from boots. If you cast your minds back to early July, after a few weeks of summer weather, in southern England we were back to a lot of rain - a typical summer?

To avoid the traffic jams on the M23 that were trying to merge with the M25 westbound through the upgrade works, we set off across country towards Reigate and Dorking on the A25. I figured this would give me a chance to get used to the ergonomics without too much hassle.

All the controls fall readily to hand. To start the bike you have to pull in the clutch lever to disengage the interlock, it also helps to be in neutral or have the side stand up! Belt and braces I suppose. Once started the motor ticks over quietly, the exhaust note very muted. The clutch is hydraulic like all the GSXR's and their derivatives, and was very light and failed to give up despite some dumping on the high speed getaway tests!

The gearbox is all you expect from a Suzuki, very slick, but with a clonk engaging first. I have always been a fan of the Suzuki gearbox, with the positive stop at the top of the box. I also have a great love for the gear indicator fitted on older machines, unfortunately with a bike that will pull from sub 2000 revs in top; a gear indicator might help the novice know where they are in the box. The Bandit had a little over 3900 miles on the clock when I picked it up and it was so smoooooth! A big change from my own Water Buffalo!

No sooner had we got to the M25 further along from the road works, than it started to rain and I had to pull out of the contraflow to don waterproofs. Unfortunately my Nike trainers were waterproof for less than a yard and I was soon very miserable below the ankle! As a result I was unable to answer the question "What'll it do Mister?" this time. By the time I got the ninety miles home I was ready for the E.R!

It rained for most of day 2 as well, although I did get out testing the panniers didn't touch the exhaust. Part Two of the test would be the Bandit and I trying a spot of long distance touring in Scotland with Team-SOC (Suzuki Owners Club).

Part One continued on Saturday when equipped only with a magnetic tank bag for the 120 mile ride to Lydney in Gloucestershire to start the 1996 National Rally. The route was over 500 miles, in addition to the getting to and from the start and end points, and covered a good selection of road types. From Lydney we had a mixed bag of A and B roads up through the Forest of Dean and northwards through the Shropshire Hills and Welsh mountains. In daylight you need to make up as much ground as possible to get the distance behind you and I suppose we were cruising about the legal limit, or thereabouts. Actually we were averaging around 75mph for the daylight sections.

Due to the flexibility of the engine and transmission, I was able to restrict changing gears and use the power to enter and exit corners. I had one fright that I put down to a combination of a tightening (80 degree!) left-hander and a sneezing fit just as I went in - hay fever! I lost concentration, ever tried keeping your eyes open and sneeze? I couldn't! A quick look up the road assured me nothing was coming and I let the bike run a little wide, regained the initiative and shot off after Andy, my team mate on his 600F Katana. I had plenty of time to think about it later and I had the feeling that when I got the brakes on that something was amiss. We had a look over the bike and everything seemed okay.

On the A roads through north Wales and into Cheshire the bike ran faultlessly, mechanically, but I had a feeling that all was not well with the handling. After another similar moment, without sneezes, on the Cat & Fiddle section between Macclesfield and Buxton, I was more concerned that the bike was causing the problems. The Cat and Fiddle is a very biker-popular section of a mountain road with plenty of deceptive bends, off angle cambers and the bikers’ friend - the four feet high stone wall! At the Darley Moor Race Circuit pit-stop we checked the front tyre again, and it looked almost had it. The Michelin Macadam Radial has diagonally aligned side blocks and these were badly worn on the trailing edge of each. In the dark from then on we took it very steady until the finish at Cheltenham Race course, some 150 miles away. In the end we finished the course with 22 controls visited and 518 miles ridden.

The following morning I took it back to Crawley and Roger fitted a new set of tyres and the handling was transformed.

Let's assess the bike according to the following criteria: Looks, Comfort, Fuel Economy, Performance, Handling, and Practicability.

Looks: The 1200S comes with a small top half fairing, which despite looking pretty small is very effective. I like to be able to see the engine of a bike and am less than enthusiastic about the all enclosed race-reps. The GSXR derived engine is a pleasing dark grey and as engines go, it's quite a good looker, unlike the big bore offering from Honda, where the CBR derived engine is ugly with pipes all over the place! The rear end is very nicely shaped and not as radically wide as the RF's.

Comfort: A larger than standard rider like me (220lbs!) had no problems with wind against the body, or wind noise around the helmet, the small looking fairing had done its job. I found the seat's limitations after 300 miles of the rally! Although I 'm sure a lighter rider would be able to travel a bit further! All the controls fall to hand okay and the foot pegs are about right for a six foot tall rider. Seat height is also okay, I can get both feet flat on the floor, and very good for maneuvering around the car parks on the 22 controls we were faced with. Although shorter riders may feel a little jittery.

Fuel Economy: Here's a funny thing. On the mixed riding we had that included a slightly more than legal run along the M54/M5/M42 freeways for three of the controls in the Midlands, plus the faster A and B roads the figures returned varied from a worst of 35.2 mpg and a high of 40.84 mpg (all US gallons!). I consider this excellent for an 1127cc engine with a large load to carry along. In comparison, Andy was only putting in a half gallon more at the same gas stops, at the most, sometimes less! I found that the bike would go into the red on the gauge at around 135 miles and then require reserve from about 150. If we stopped for gas immediately it generally only took three and a half gallons!

Handling: Before the front tyre went off, handling was very good, the brakes are a little strong at the front for the soft springing, and this makes for an interesting learning curve. I found that I could hustle around corners as well as the others on a multitude of machinery, and even found that the Fireblades weren't getting too far ahead with their jockey-like riders aboard! Things were very different with the tyre beginning to go off. On the brakes into a corner caused the whole lot to stand up and attempt to go straight on. The incident on the Cat & Fiddle had me wondering if I was to be the next statistic for Cheshire County Police to use for 'rider education'! The bike is as at home on the fast A and B roads as it is on the freeway.

Performance: Any big-bore GSXR derived engine must have plenty of oomph! And the 1200S is no exception. Pulling from low revs in top has the needle spinning from 25 to over the 100 mph mark in no time at all. Opening the throttle to overtake is the same, no messing with a down change, just give it a handful of throttle and hold on tight. "Light the blue touch paper and stand well back", seems to ring through the ears as it takes off! I've never ridden the 1100 Katana that also used a GSXR derived engine, but the I can assume that the Bandit is faster, it's lighter and the engine is so free running that it must have the performance edge.

Practicability: The 1200S is what bikes used to be about before the Japanese convinced us that we need a bike for sport, another one for touring, and yet another for commuting. The Bandit is a jack of all trades. It was good for the 700 mile day on the National Rally whether or not it was poodling around in the dead of night or thrashing along a freeway to make up some time and get a few controls under the belt, or for having a good time around the mountains. And it has two seats should you wish to take a pillion, and space for your luggage. Yes, you can carry luggage on a GSXR, but not so easily and I can guarantee that the GSXR seat will kill your under parts (guys at least) before the Bandit will!

Generally? The bike had been out to a few other magazines before I got it. They had managed 3900 miles in five months. I put over 1200 on it in the week I had it and when Part Two, the Tour of Scotland, is over it will be in excess of 2500. I think I can speak for the bike with a bit more authority from the perspective of an owner/rider rather than a journalist looking to score a few points with his buddies and keep the advertising rolling in.

The build quality of the 1200S surprised me. I expected that it would be built down to a price. It doesn't have the de-rigueur massive alloy frame like the GSXR750WT or the opposition. It does have a rather attractive painted tubular frame. The forks may be a bit cheaper and lack much adjustability and the rear shock might not be up to race standards, but it all works very well together. All in all you get an awful lot of bike for your post-tax dollars!

A few niggles I had were:
  • Modern looking though it is the switchgear was a bit naff. The hi/lo headlamp switch is diabolical and difficult to use with thicker gloves. Overnight in the mountains being able to change the beam is important if you are to see the next bend or sheep!
  • The lack of a clock. The Bandit sits very nicely in the sports/tourer bracket, and there's plenty of room in the bottom of the tachometer for a clock!
  • Non cancelling indicators! In this day and age we all get used to indicators that switch off for us! Those on the Bandit don't. I don't know how many miles I rode with one or the other flashing away!

What else? I genuinely can't think of anything else to complain about! The good points of a £6500 bike with hardly any faults simply sell the Bandit 1200. The price alone is the biggest selling point. Not only is it a superb motorcycle, but it undercuts the retro Zephyrs and the other big bangers quite considerably. 

But if you want one, you'll have to hunt for one. I learned that the big dealers have already sold all their 1996 allocations and have stopped taking orders. Let's hope that Suzuki bring in a few more in the next riding season to build on the Bandit's success, without bringing too many in spoil the exclusivity.

Would I buy one? If I had had the money and they'd have accepted my (low) offer, I'd have got this one!

My rating? 10/10 a class above the rest!

Update 13/8/2012 - there are no photographs as the Japanese hadn't invented the consumer digital camera in 1996 so please stop adding comments asking where they are.  I delete them anyway.

14 August 2009

Bikers Gear Australia - Armoured Cordura Trousers

First impressions

Good fit and as they are waterproof I had them over my boots. I see loads of blokes every day with waterproofs tucked into their boots... what happens when (and it will in England!) it rains?

Anyway, no tight spots as I cocked a leg over the seat of the GS. The knee armour needed to be pushed into the right place as it seemed to be ideal for the knock-kneed. The hip armour was comfortable.

The only concern I had is that with a 32" leg length, that they might be too short when on the bike. They are only supplied in 30" and 32". Whether that is only in fat sizes I can't tell.

Once on the M20 and up to cruising speed there was a little flap from the calf area and this may be down to the diameter of the legs and perhaps I need to be a little more ruthless with the Velcro that goes around the bottom of each leg, and tighten it more.

From the seating position it is hard to look at your own ankles (!) so I can't say how high they ride up the boot, time will tell.

So after one 75 mile ride I was impressed with the fit and feel of the trousers. Maybe if I am unlucky I'll get to test how waterproof they are!

Considering they were only £39.99 plus postage from the EBAY shop of Roland Brana they seem pretty good VFM!

If you can't find them on EBAY, I'm sure Roland wouldn't mind you emailing him for details and to buy a pair -

13 August 2009

Tech-7 W/P Pants & Braces (Black)

I'm on my third pair of these. It's taken over four years to get through them though.

I've been happy with them over all. The price has crept up over the years and so has P&P from the suppliers. I have bought them all from M&P.

The first pair gradually met their maker when they started to leak around the crotch, leaving me a little damp. The second pair were better, didn't leak at all, but a moments attention deficit and I ripped the leg on the rear footrest of the bike. After that they leaked rain even with a large elastic band to help stop them flapping.

So three weeks ago I bought another pair. Sadly this pair hasn't lasted very long at all. The zip went on the left leg!

No problems when I put them on at work. Both zips are what I call "small teeth" rather than the chunky zips and are very easy to jam with the backing getting caught in them. So I take extra care, so was even more pissed off when I got home and the zip had split open.

I dropped M&P an email this morning using their emailed receipt and within an hour Stacey had replied to say that they would put a replacement pair in the post today.

Excellent customer service.

7 August 2009

Running with the Kettles

Originally posted on the first ever Suzuki Owners Club website hosted by Yahoo! Geocities. First posted in 1998.

When Geocities announced they were closing I saved the source.

Running with the Kettles - August 1998
On the face of it, a group of over fifty GT750's, drawn from all the different models from the entire six year reign, might seem a particularly insignificant and sobering thought to the non-believer. But. I BELIEVE!

Thanks to some jiggery-pokery by Dave Pitcher, Chairman of the Kettle Club UK and Suzuki Owners Club member, we had a half hour. No. A wonderful half hour of track time to ourselves at the VMCC's "Festival of a 1000 Bikes" on the Sunday of the weekend event.

Having a special Kettle-only session meant that we didn't have to put up with the myriad of slow blokes on Z900's and old British rubbish as we had done in Sunday's first session, the 1972-77 Over-500cc 'parade'. Waiting in pit lane I listened into a couple of other owners - "Soon blow this **** out of the way" said one to the other, eyeing myself and a couple of other Kettles behind him in his mirror. "By the end of lap one!" laughed his equally ignorant friend. By the end of lap two they were well to the rear of the Kettles and when we came round to lap one of them later he was forced to the side by the travelling Marshall. Perhaps now you will respect others and their choice of bike?

On the face of it the GT750 is a heavy, sports tourer, more suited to pulling a few mph on a nice A-road than being thrashed around Brands Hatch on a 'parade'. Strange that in the early to mid-Seventies men like Barry Sheene (who he?) won Championships at the controls of the racing version - the TR750? The same engine with mods was still to be found tugging the sidecar racers around tracks until the big bore four strokes became so cheap to run and ecologically sounder!

I digress. I have always treated my Kettle like an elderly aunt. Not too much thrashing and a nice drink every so often to keep everything well oiled! A sort of sherry drinker of the biking world. Although it's been around Europe as far east as the Czech Republic and Hungary and as far south as Spain, it's not been to the races, often. The last time at Brands Hatch, on the circuit, was when I was the corner commander at Dingle Dell Corner for BMCRC, and it was all of ten years since I went by Kettle. Then you could get a lap less the start/finish on the way to and from the corner. Sometimes you missed and had to go around again!

The Kettle only session before lunch was to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the GT750. A milestone in automotive history. That was all lost on us after a parade lap from the pits round to the starting grid in model order. Sitting at position 36 on the grid the front seemed a long way ahead. The plan was for two laps in model order and then the remainder was a free for all. Unfortunately the end of two laps in my mind is also the start of three laps, i.e. after crossing the finish line. Not for the twenty or so A's and B models behind and on the exit to Clearways half a dozen came by! My gearing wouldn't let me get as far as top, but it was pulling an indicated 105 at 7000rpm in 4th. Experts please tell me what this equates to if I had found 5th! Gradually we came a bit mixed up and my targets for the day were firstly fellow SOC member Dave Greenhalgh on his "Rat J". Partly to make up for letting him past me on Ivan Benda's Kettle in Czech in May when we were at the SOC'S Czech Centre Rally (I was on a GSXR750WR!) and partly due to a long standing rivalry over 18 years of SOC membership. Also I have his ex-standard pipes and he has my ex-Swarbrick's! By the time I had got to the front the pace car was too slow and I was having hassle from a CBR600 mounted Marshall that was all arse off and knee down and in my way at Clearways. Another ten to twenty mph might have been nice mate.

Then I got my comeuppance.

On the outside line through Graham Hill Bend, you can then make the entire back straight (actually a curve) into one flowing line and cruise past everyone, and then be set up for the big right hander though Surtees and Clearways, I got the 'drifter'; the guy on the slower line that begins to drift across the track across the lines; and we had loads! At six inches I wasn't unduly worried, at three inches I began to think about lifting up and at one inch between handlebars I lifted up and opted for the grass. Drifter sailed on regardless and I bumped the kerb, braked (it was dry!) and then re-joined last. In the few laps that remained I picked up a few more places and followed Dave G's smoking J before slipping up the inside into Paddock Hill Bend. Somehow I managed to be second off the track when the session ended. How I got to the front again I don't have a clue!

The bug bites very easily and it would be easy to imagine that I am the next Mick Doohan! But, no it was fun. Some of us where giving it a bit more than others and overtaking bunches was part of that. Next year I would like to have another go. I will remove the topbox; I was the only one there with one! It might help the handling and slipstreaming along the finish straight!

No problems reared their ugly little heads. No leaks anywhere and nothing fell off, not even me, despite the hardest this bike and I have ever worked in my 14 year ownership!
The old sherry drinking maiden aunt was a bourbon drinking, muscle rippling Wonder Woman for a day! And she loved it.

All material contained in this document is the copyright of the author and may not be used with out express authority from the author.
Paul Devall 18/08/98 15:15

Copyright: Paul Devall.
Last revised: August 25, 1998.

Old Suzuki Roadtests 2

No sooner had I found the old roadtests on Geocities, than I find that Yahoo, decent upstanding tosssers that they are, have decided to kill off Geocities free web service after 12 years or so.

Geocities was one of the first free hosting service available giving the non-geek user have access to the Internet put up whatever sh*t they felt like. But of course FREE would never be sustainable.

Anyway, I saved the source and will try to find a home for them all. I mean I wrote them in 1997!

3 August 2009

61000 Miles

61000 Miles, originally uploaded by Invicta Moto.

Well, it was actually 60999 but I didn't want to stop half a mile down the road on Essex Road when it tripped over! Near enough though.

Pic taken in the car-park at work. Nice new black tarmac and whiter that white lines...

2 August 2009

Sissinghurst flowers

Sissinghurst flowers, originally uploaded by Invicta Moto.

I thought the bee added to the picture.... so did he (or she) as he didn't fly away.

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