25 January 2012

Solar Panel?

It's almost four year ago that I wrote a piece about the Maplin's Solar panel that I bought in an attempt to keep the battery on my GS topped up.  It seemed to have been a terrible failure. It was unclear whether or not it is waterproof and so it was contained in a plastic bag. In reflection, this may have reduced its efficiency.


In a wave of perhaps misguided optimism, I have bought another one. This made by Ring, who make all kinds of automotive and home electrical equipment.  It is supposed to be waterproof according to the website.

We'll see?

View my Flickr DNA

View my photos at bighugelabs.com

24 January 2012

Revised "Art" - Doctor, you didn't listen did you?

The previous post contained a piece of original conceptual art.  Copyright me!
 
After a discussion with the Art Inspector we came to the broad conclusion that something is art as long as the artist considered what they had produced was art and not simply their bedroom after they had got up, leaving it like a bomb had hit it.  This is now known as the "Tracey Emin Rule".
 
This revision includes extra detail to highlight the possible result of eating an apple a day. I conceived it as art and therefore it is art.

But is it art?


But is it art?, originally uploaded by InvictaMoto.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

23 January 2012

Before kick-off

Still a time for optimism. Standing up to look at the big screen announcing the line-ups. Arsenal almost looking on paper to be a match for Old Red Nose's Manchester United.
 
In a game where both sides belied the fact that they are at the top of the league, or thereabouts, the Mancs ran out 2-1 winners.
 
All that optimism wasted.

20 January 2012

Letter to your MEP regarding EU Regulation

The world of motorcycle politics is so terrifically exciting and fast moving, it's small wonder we don't sleep!  (Or is it just me that finds it so?)
 
The proposed EU Regulation on type approval and market surveillance that we've come to know and love over the past 16 months, did pass its 'first reading' on 5th December when the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) voted on it and the near 300 amendments that been put forward.
 
You'll also be aware (unless you are new to these mailings) that not only did they accept the bulk of the original proposal, but added a few extra bits that aren't exactly in the best interests of the consumers they are meant to be protecting. One of my emails last week outlined horrified responses from both the European motorcycle retailers (ETRA) and the manufacturers association (ACEM) so it's good to know that apart from the UK Government, much of the rest of the bike industry is now aware of the power and possible outcome of this legislation. ABS for everything from 50cc up and the new article 18a which now covers modifications 'by the users or those acting on their behalf', which has got the retailers and bike shops upset. The new article 3 paragraph 68 now also specifies 'engine management systems or any other control module' which of course covers the power commanders etc that we highlighted a year ago and were told was nonsense. It also reiterates 'the transmission and its control, either a drive shaft or belt drive or chain drive, the differentials, the final drive and the driven wheel tyre (radius)' which is all a bit belt and braces.
 
But aside from the content, there is much that is concerning about the legislative process, as was highlighted last weekend when MAG organised another Riders Are Voters event in Crawley at P&H Motorcycles.
Peter Skinner, Labour MEP for the South East has received more correspondence on this Regulation than any other (he first became an MEP in 1994) so he agreed to meet riders in one go so that he could hear all the concerns.
 
The bulk of the questions he was asked were about procedure:
  • How could the Committee have voted before the impact assessment results were in?
  • Why does the EU Parliament have to vote on a regulation when the specific technical elements of what is affected, will be decided after the vote?
  • How can they make an informed decision when the 'Delegated Acts' (the technical bits) that are central to this, will be written later?
  • If we are now seeing drafts of the Delegated Acts and they include mention of cycle parts, surely that is outside the scope of the Regulation?
  • If the Commission didn't do the research before they introduced the proposal (saying as they did, that they had no baseline data but hoped they'd get some later) is it even legal?
Mr Skinner was really taken aback by the breadth of knowledge the assembled 100 or so riders had, and their articulate nature, but he was more taken aback by the legislation itself, having had to read it all before the event (which is of course, the very nature of what MAG does, getting representatives to actually read what they are going to vote on.)
 
He did say that we must never stop writing to MEPs about this, but what surprised me was that he said pro-forma letters are still OK, if you add the following; Please reply to the Central Office of the Motorcycle Action Group who are compiling responses.
 
His advice was that a standard and irrelevant response cannot be churned out by reply. The MEP will have to direct their attention to every part of the letter as numbers grow, in the knowledge that their response will be made very public, that they will be publicly held to account and that their later vote in the EU Parliament will be monitored. On the plus side, they only have to write one letter! Everyone's a winner.
 
So, given all of the above here is a suggested letter. If you don't wish to use it, please do try to use some of the points within it.
 
Please click here www.ridersarevoters.org and press the button that says 'Find Your MEP'. Remember, you probably have 6 or 7 MEPs so please write to each one of them.
 
 
 
Dear
 
 

As a constituent, I would like to raise my concerns regarding the content and progress of a piece of European Legislation, currently timetabled for Plenary vote on 14th March.

The proposed EU Regulation on Type Approval and Market Surveillance of two and three-wheeled vehicles passed its first reading, Committee stage, on 5th December even though an impact assessment on many elements of the proposal was ongoing.

 

Some new text adopted by the (IMCO) Committee, especially the extension of mandatory ABS to all scooters and motorcycles, the introduction of a new Article 18a (see below) and the Delegated Acts (drafts of which are now available), appear to have moved well outside the scope of the Commission's original proposal. Article 18a also relies on Member States to establish National policing.

 

ABS is being adopted by some riders, but the technology is not as advanced as for cars and there are many riding conditions where it is not suitable, or where combined braking systems (in which the industry has invested heavily) are more suitable, especially with smaller scooters. The Commission's mandating of ABS is therefore inappropriate for both the market and manufacturing.

 

Articles 17 and 52 also directly impact on motorcyclists as consumers, controlling the sale and availability of after-market parts within the EU and the modification of certain aspects of the machine to suit riding conditions.

The Plenary session vote has now been timetabled for 14th March, which is too soon to enable sufficient discussion beforehand and which permits no time within the chamber for debate.

 

This debate is necessary, as there are many parts of this Regulation which I, as a rider and consumer, welcome, so this cannot be a yes/no vote on the acceptance or rejection of the proposal as a whole.

 

It is welcome for example, that Article 22 will lead to CO2 emissions being published at point of sale for every model. Similarly, paragraph 9 (page 11) which aims to over-turn the earlier decision to introduce power limits for motorcycles (1995), on the basis that no evidence can be found of a correlation between safety and power. This assertion rather undermines one of the central tenets of the whole proposal, that speed or 'tuning' has a detrimental effect on safety, again forcing the assumption that the Commission's proposals appear not to be evidence led.

 

I urge you to read the Regulation COM (2010) 542 and the consolidated text post the IMCO Committee vote, which is not in the public domain and use your influence to delay the Parliamentary vote.

Could I respectfully ask that you send your reply to Central Office of the Motorcycle Action Group who are compiling replies in order to monitor voting behaviour. This can be either electronically to  campaigns-coordinator@mag-uk.org

 
or by post to:

MAG (UK)
PO Box 750
Warwick
CV34 9FU
 
Yours Sincerely
 
 
 
Article 18a- Measures and Proceedings regarding modifications to L-category vehicles by the users or those acting on their behalf
1. If substantial modifications are made to the powertrain components by the user or by those acting on his behalf the vehicle shall comply with the technical requirements of the initial vehicle category and subcategory, or, if applicable, the new vehicle category and subcategory, which were in force when the original vehicle was sold, registered or entered into service. Those modifications shall be inspected and approved by the competent authorities in the Member States.
3. A modification is substantial when it affects the safety of the vehicle or its emissions to the environment. A modification is deemed to be substantial when it renders the original type approval obsolete.

18 January 2012

V3 Trip - 22nd April 2011

Only 29 kilometres from the ferry!

January - Must be holiday planning time

At the moment just at the planning stage but we may go back to Czech this summer for a wedding anniversary party.  Last year we went across for the MotoGp and stayed with a friend and went out for days.
 
This year it will be more of a splash and dash trip, if we go. I've checked flights, and it is really annoying that Brno is not on the usual Easyjet list and therefore flights are pricey, even with WizzAir from Luton.
 
So it looks like another job for the CC!

16 January 2012

Day trip to France 5/2/12

It's a Sunday. Neither of us are wildly enthusiastic about shopping so hopefully a day when we can get the roof down on the CC and enjoy the drive.

But where to go? Might have a look out for Mimoyecques to get a proper gps point for the Kent Centre trip on 22nd April.

Then lunch.

I love the up and down of the D901 along the coast between Calais and Boulogne. The huge dunes and their own white cliffs.

It's as though Kent and Sussex were ripped apart from the Pas de Calais rather than the valley simply filling with sea water after the ice melted as it receded after the last ice age!

Paul Devall
Sent from my iPhone

Out of petrol

I suppose it was a warning when the yellow light came on the fuel gauge last week.

But what's new? I never have much in the Punto. It's a car that does some local miles to and from the station and the odd shopping trip.

So as I couldn't remember how long the light had been on it was sure to come up and bite my arse.

It started to stutter on Dymchurch Road and I made the right turn into Burmarsh Road and poof! Gone. Into neutral and coast to a stop.

A quick call to Claire to bring the can and fifteen minutes later we're home with five litres in the tank.

Only one hiccup. As I was pouring the petrol from the can some twat drove past and lobbed a fag out of the window.

Historic vehicle MoT, should it stay or go?

This is just a reminder that if you have a few minutes to spare, the UK Government's consultation into scrapping the MoT on vehicles manufactured before 1960, closes on 26th January.

The consultation can be seen here   http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2011-27

There are only 9 questions, although two of them are only relevant if you happen to be an Insurance Underwriter...

The form to complete is called Annex B and it can be downloaded and then sent to  historicvehiclesmotreview@dft.gsi.gov.uk

In essence, the Government acknowledge that historic machines are generally well cared for and cover barely 500 miles in each year. Their pass rate at MoT is high and the number of old machines is low, so it's not seen as a problem.

Motorcycles come in for special mention though, which is why Motorcycle Action Group members should respond. Question 3 specifically asks should the MoT be kept for old bikes and not other vehicles, so you may wish to comment on that...

Currently, under EU Directive 2009/40/EC, motorcycles of any age do not have to have any MoT, but Sections 45 to 48 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 over-ride that, which is why we all take our bikes for an annual test.

The same EU directive also excludes all vehicles built before 1960 and that is why the UK have chosen this date.

It should only take a few minutes, I hope you can find the time

Regards

Paddy Tyson
Campaigns Coordinator
Motorcycle Action Group
www.mag-uk.org

12 January 2012

Recipe - Staffordshire Oatcakes

We were chatting in the office about things we used to have to eat and whether they were available. I remembered having Staffordshire Oatcakes when visiting my ex-partner's sister in Cheshire.
 
I think she bought them in and have an idea it was from the Co-op or possibly a butcher's shop locally.  I had a look on the net and came across a few differing recipes but this is the most like what we used to eat, usually with melted cheese or even sausages and beans. 
 
 
Ingredients:
  • 225g fine oatmeal
  • 225g wholewheat or plain flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 15g yeast
  • 450ml warm milk
  • 450ml warm water
  • 1tsp sugar

 Method: 

  1. Mix the water and milk together.
  2. Mix the salt to the flour and oatmeal in a large bowl.
  3. Dissolve the yeast with a little warm liquid and add the sugar. Allow the mixture to become frothy.
  4. Mix the dry ingredients with the yeast liquid to make a batter adding the remainder of the warm liquid.
  5. Cover the batter with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place for about an hour.
  6. Pour out enough batter on a well-greased griddle to make an oatcake of about 22cm. The surface will be covered in holes as it cooks.
  7. Flip the oatcake after 2-3 minutes when the top side has a dry appearance and the underneath is a golden brown colour and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
YUM YUM!!!

11 January 2012

As we warned a few months ago, they seem to be targeting cycle parts now..

The European Commission has proposed that part of its controversial new 'Anti-Tampering' regulations, which will affect all future bikes registered for the road, should be re-written to prevent chop-builders from using 'long-forks'.

The Commission now proposes that any bikes being put through the Individual Vehicle Approval test (the safety inspection made before non Type-Approved imports, one-off specials, etc. (currently known as Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval) would have to complete a slalom and U-Turn before being registered, to prevent modifications to the length of the forks.

Up to now, the draft regulations have only talked about requiring manufacturers to design the 'power-train' (engine, transmission, final-drive and rear tyre dimension) so that it becomes difficult for owners to modify them from standard.

The UK representatives in the technical discussions joined FEMA and others in opposing the proposal, not least because the Commission cannot produce any evidence to show that modified bikes are unsafe.

The Commission is expected to continue to seek further restrictions on the ability to modify bikes in future despite mounting criticism that it has failed to consider whether there is any demonstrable case for restricting riders liberty to modify their bikes to suit their own needs.

Motorcycle Action Group had previously warned that the vagueness of the Commission's proposals to restrict modifications could mean the ambitions of those who want to save us from ourselves might extend beyond the draft proposals that have been under discussion since 2010. We've drawn attention to Annex 2 (item 12) of the EU Type Approval and Market Surveillance Regulation before, which wishes to measure/control steerability, cornering properties and turn ability and this is what is playing out now. This development is part of the creation of the Delegated Acts, the technical specifics designed to accompany the Regulation and the very specifics we were concerned that the members of IMCO hadn't been able to see. (IMCO is the committee who voted on 5th Dec to approve the Regulation through it's First Reading). Remember the regulation has two more stages to pass through; The Council (National Governments) and the full EU Parliament.

In response to that IMCO vote, the European Twowheel Retailers' Association (ETRA) recently said

"If the current text of article 18 is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, all usual changes asked by motorcyclists to their garages for either riding comfort, fuel efficiency, or to suit their style and taste, will be illegal or will have to be checked and approved, thus making motorcycling more expensive and servicing more burdensome.

As regards article 52 on System components and separate technical units, the report has left the current text practically unchanged. Once again we want to express our concerns on the negative effects it can have on the sales and service sector, such as preventing the sale of all systems, components or separate technical units which have dual use, i.e. which are used for both sport activities (not taking place on public roads) and for road use. "

So the retailers of Europe aren't very happy and neither it would seem are the manufacturers ACEM (the association of European manufacturers) said of the IMCO vote and specifically the mandatory fitment of ABS on all bikes and scooters "On this point, ACEM deplores the IMCO vote outcome, which would translate into a heavier burden due to the added costs of more stringent environmental and safety measures. This applies in particular to light motorcycles and scooters of the 125cc class (L3-A1), which form the core of the EU ailing market and provide urban mobility and social cohesion benefits to citizens, as recognised by the IMCO report itself. For this category of motorcycles, ACEM regrets that safe advanced braking systems alternatives to ABS such as Combined Braking Systems have been scrapped from the available safety measures, effectively wiping out years of investments in research and development.

Furthermore, IMCO voted against amendments supporting international harmonisation in terms of the durability test procedure, which brings unnecessary duplications of tests and costs to industry and, in the end for the consumer, without any measurable environmental benefit.
"

So it looks like just about everybody is unhappy with developments so far and now as the Delegated Acts develop I'm sure the politicians and bureaucrats will continue to upset people. MAG's campaigning against the creeping scope of interference in riders' right to choose what kind of bike they ride continues in 2012. I hope you can encourage everyone you know to Join MAG and help in the battle. The full EU Parliament is due to vote on this on 14th March, so that means your MEPs

All the best

Paddy Tyson
Campaigns Co-ordinator
Motorcycle Action Group
01926 844064
www.mag-uk.org

Motorcycle theft and secure parking facilities

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) is asking as many riders as possible to complete a short on-line survey about secure on-street parking facilities (motorcycle parking bays with railings or ground anchors).

MAG has lead the way in campaigning for secure bike parking for the last 20 years and is pleased to support researchers at Leicester University.

Nich Brown, MAG General Secretary said "This survey will help to give us a clearer picture of where we need to put our future efforts to fight the scourge of bike theft, and show the effectiveness of secure motorcycle parking facilities in preventing theft".

There is no need to give information about where you keep your bike and all responses will be treated as private and confidential.

To take part, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/securebikeparking

To be included in the research study, the survey must be completed by 31st January 2012.

Background:

In 1992, MAG published the first ever guide to the design and provision of secure on-street and off-steet motorcycle parking which has been used by many local authorities and other parking providers.

The MAG Foundation (charity 1100274) produces an A-Z Guide to parking facilities throughout the UK, it is available free online from www.mag-foundation.org/secure%20parking.html

MAG offers a reward of up to £1,000 for information leading to the conviction of bike thieves where a MAG member's bike is stolen.

The dawn comes up like thunder

Westenhanger, Kent.

6 January 2012

Developments in France

The French Government has finally confirmed how it will implement new regulations for bikers regarding reflective clothing and number plates.

As of 1st Jan 2013 it will be an offence, punishable through a fine and the loss of points, (in France you lose them, don't gain them) not to wear at least 150cm2 of relective clothing between the waist and the shoulders and not to be using an enlarged number plate.

You may remember that this was first mooted as an accident reduction issue, but most accidents involve 125cc bikes and below, and these are exempt from the new rules.

Riders in France must already use their headlights all the time and carry reflective stickers on their helmets.

You may also remember that the French Government then said the regulations were to ensure other motorists could see if riders were lying in the middle of the road at night...

FFMC's Frederic Jeorge said "It will be considered almost as bad as driving without a helmet, even if you are wearing full leather armour, on a bike with the headlights on and knowing that our helmets already have 4 mandatory reflective
stickers... Also, it will NOT include the mopeds and 125cc, where's the logic?"

Logic? I'm not sure that's generally considered when creating legislation for motorcyclists.

--
Kind regards

Paddy Tyson
Campaigns Co-ordinator
MAG (UK) - Motorcycle Action Group

Counter for French MotoGP

Time to go before we are off.....

5 January 2012

What is it?

Pie & Mash - Trad Londoners' Food

Although I like a decently appointed restaurant I do love the simplicity and minimalism of the London Pie & Mash shop.

Years ago my Grandparents had friends and neighbours in what was the "eel pie" business. These people ran a couple of chains of shops under the Harrington name. Mostly in south London.

Although I looked for one that I found on the web in Battersea, although it had, by the look of the parade of shops, long gone.

I believe there was another still existing in Tooting?

The one pictured here is Manze's and is in Chapel Market in Islington

I love it. I used to call in more often when my job took me out and about more from the office than it does now.

With so many greasy spoon cafés in the neighbourhood and all the chains of burger joints, traditional London food is being pressed into obscurity.

Maybe if the BBC had put an eel-pie shop in the ever depressing "Eastenders", things may have been different. But why would they? "Eastenders" is a mockery of real life and is written by middle class pillocks.

People will pay an arm and a leg buying some pickled or raw fish that purports to be Japanese "sushi", but the humble eel is ignored.

All food at Manze's is cooked on the premises. Simply a small or large beef mince pie, mash and the liqueur made of parsley.

Why not try it next time you are in London?

Groupon Contd

So after not really getting anywhere with emails to Groupon and Fashion Revenge about the missing Christmas gift, I found the Groupon UK Facebook page.

Wow! Complaints Central! In the "all" or "everyone" area there are complaints and complaints and more complaints.

I added mine plus the "ticket" number. And suddenly, replies to my emails and "customer service" swung into action.

Still no parcel or an idea where it is, but action at last.

Now 25 days since the order....

4 January 2012

Ride of Respect 2012 - Royal Wootton Bassett

Following on from the last post way back in October (http://invictamoto.blogspot.com/2011/10/ride-of-respect-2012-royal-wootton.html) we are still waiting for details to be published on the WB run and indeed, on all the regional runs that will take place to show some respect and raise a few hundred thousand for the charities.
 
If you are in the UK, have a bike, I'm sure your old Ma will understand if you forego the lunch with her and get out to raise some money for the batch of charities that the Ride will support this year.
 
 

3 January 2012

If you live in the South East - From Paddy Tyson MAG

I hope it's a good one for you and if we can keep up the pressure from last year, it should be a good one for Riders' Rights too.

If you live in the South East of England, I'm pleased to say that one of your MEPs, Peter Skinner, is holding a special 'motorcycle surgery' at P&H Motorcycles in Crawley on 14th January

P&H Motorcycles Ltd
61-63 Gatwick Road
Crawley
West Sussex
RH10 9RD

As a result of the huge volume of correspondence he has received from riders in his constituency, he has agreed to meet as many as possible on Saturday afternoon (14th Jan) in perhaps the ideal venue, a bike shop.
He is hoping to hear all your concerns about EU legislation first hand, as well as discuss rider training issues, the state of the retail bike industry and the future of the whole industry in light of various legislation, both proposed and under discussion for future proposal.

If you could arrive before 2pm (time enough to grab a cuppa) Mr Skinner will be available to take questions and hear what you have to say, after 2pm

It is common to visit an MP surgery and discuss local or national issues, but so much of what affects our motorcycling lives now is decided in Europe, this is a great opportunity for us to voice our concerns to an MEP who genuinely wants to understand riders and the bike industry generally.

It should be an interesting afternoon, and remember, P&H is a multi-franchised dealer, so there'll be loads of bikes to look at too...

Visit from Czech

As the month progresses I need to start planning for a visit from a Czech Suzuki owner planning to come across to the UK for a visit to visit the BSB round at Brands Hatch in late July before he heads off to visit other contacts in Wales and Ireland before he has a few days on the Isle of Man.
 
My end is to sort out BSB and a trip to London on the Monday. I think that might have to be the train as parking has become a nightmare even for bikes in the mean spirited streets of Westminster.

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