30 June 2013

GS Weekend

Although a GS Weekend, it was mostly to do with getting rid of some parts and accessories that I have assembled.

Last week I took off the Touratech Zega pannier rails and prepared to sell them. I looked out the MRA screen, still in its packaging.

That went to a local rider, Mike, for £75.  The panniers are packed in bubble wrap and will be dispatched tomorrow on a truck from Claire's company to their depot in Coventry to be collected by another guy from the R1150GS FB group.

So, some money coming in to offset the cost of the Explorer.

29 June 2013

Deck ahoy!

After three and a half days work, the work has finished.

The deck is down and the garden has become, and excuse the terminology, another room.

Very pleased with it, just now need to pay for it!

And then with some stuff moved out of storage and the garage....

Now time to thing were the pots and containers are going to go, or maybe a nice cool G&T.

28 June 2013

Another Conference

Seems like they are like buses. Wait for ages and two come along together.

This one is at Skinner's Hall in the City of London. Just a short walk from the business heart and from the Bank of England.

The Skinner's Company is the medieval guild of the fur trade.  The walls of the 17C building are lined with heraldic shields and paintings of worthy citizen members covering the 300+ years they have been here.

Our conference is for school business managers and admin staff.

The rate of change for schools with austerity biting ever harder needs frequent updates.

It's sad that public perception of these key workers is so low. 

Everyone knows that schools have students and teachers and no one else is valued.

Some artifacts from the display cases at the hall.

27 June 2013

Döra the Explorer

A blog is born. No other stuff on this one, maybe some crossover posts, but essentially all about the new addition to the Devall household.

Once upon a time....

There were fields round here.....

The garden being prepared for decking. Not all of it but a design that means we keep some garden for plants and is shaped to keep the tree etc.

Kent Pet Food Run 2013 - More Pix

Some more pix. These taken by Jonathan who is the volunteer's coordinator at the Blue Cross in Northiam.

25 June 2013

SIMS Conference 2013

Not one of my usual postsing subjects - about work, but so far this is far removed from being called work.

This year the conference is in the Alton Towers Resort. Once an old house with a fairground and now it is a full sized theme park.

To get here I had planned to use the bike, but given the trials of the last couple of weeks I decided to use the train.

The resort is inland. Some 30 miles south east of Manchester. It is in Staffordshire, the  biggest towns nearby seen to be Leek in Staffs and Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

From London I guess about 160 miles?

I chose the train as the return fare on London Midland was only £20! 

We were picked up in Stoke on Trent, at the station, in a minibus and brought to the resort.

Stoke is one of the towns (five or maybe seven) that make up an area called The Potteries. Why? Because from the industrial revolution this area made the majority of the pottery used across the Empire. Wedgwood ring any bells?

On arrival you see the fountain.

Once checked in I got the wifi sorted and then had a coffee. And then a walk. I love monkey-puzzle trees!!

The room is quite interesting. The pattern at the top of the walls is of a bookshelf... 

I'm sure it has a proper name!

The carpet and the bed cover on a theme.

The halls and corridors with a similar motif.

To say this place is quirky... This is in the bar.

After a small beer I went back to my room to check through the paperwork. Before long I was in siesta mode.

Then it was time to meet some ladies I had net at the station for dinner.

Afterwards we went our own way and I took one last picture of the fountain at the back of the hotel before calling Claire and then to bed.

A lie in tomorrow as the conference starts at 10am.

23 June 2013

The Start

A new era.

A new bike.

A new blog.

A natural progression.

The Explorer part of the title comes from the new lady in my life.

The Non Dora part is so I don't infringe any copyright, but I bet that a couple of umlaut will do the trick. Döra the Explorer.

In fact Döra the Explorer sounded like a good title. 

I was going to name it after my mascot, Baloo.

Baloo joined us back in about 2005 on a trip to France. We parked up at the Eurotunnel Terminal at Calais and failed to notice him on the beak of the GS. Whether he had been there longer I have no idea but he was there when we were on the shuttle itself heading for home.

I kept him and cable tied him on for safe keeping. I need to find somewhere for him. He has been there now for about 70000 miles and is part of the biking family.

Maybe the blog should be Baloo the Explorer?

The photo is taken from the Triumph Configurator website and shows Döra as she will come from the dealers, Laguna Triumph in Ashford, sometime in early to mid July. 

Visible extras are the panniers, hand guards, crash bars and spotlights. Not visible are the heated grips and alarm immobiliser.


When you ride early and late in the year, I have found that grips are one of those options often overlooked and that prove essential.

Kent Pet Food Run - June 23rd

I loaded up the bike last night with the dog food we had bought earlier in the day at Tesco.  The large back of Wagg (17kgs) went on the back seat and the smaller bags in the System panniers, plus two boxes of cat food that our Hilly has decided she will no longer tolerate in her food bowl that went in the top box.
I was on the road by 1030 and arrived in very good time at the meeting place at Maidstone Service on the M20/A20 junction. One other bike and so I parked nearby to create a space big enough for a lot....
Whilst having a coffee (skinny latte) in Costa I saw another bike arrive. It was club mate Neil Dalton on his XJR1300. He also had a big bag of Wagg on the back seat.  Gradually bikes started riding including regulars from the Kent Riders Club, Bruno from the R1150GS FB Group and Jim Sanderson, a fireman in Kent who started and runs the Fire Bike Service - http://www.kent.fire-uk.org/your_safety/road_safety/fire_bike.aspx
Jim brought his son Charlie with him on the back of his own VFR800. The Fire Bike is a Fireblade I think.
We set off about 1145 for the ride of about 30 miles through the lovely Kent countryside to the Blue Cross Animal Centre in Northiam that is actually across the county line in East Sussex.
Our county has some lovely villages and many houses that wouldn't look out of place in a historical movie!  It's a shame that people don't take more notice of our heritage.
We were met by a new parking area, a little soft but flat.  Luckily, most of us carry "pucks" to put under our stands to save them digging in.  The GS leans over quite a way anyway!
The co-ordinator, Jonathon, and the volunteers had prepared a nice table of snacks and home made cakes. 

The rehoming centre isn't that big and we were unlucky that there weren't many inmates as most had been rehomed.  Unlucky for us, but lucky for the dogs and cats that had a new home.
As a result, some people that had taken dogs from the centre had brought them for us to meet.
An old friend, Tony Young and his wife, Heather, and daughters Helen and Lucy arrived on their car.

Lucy is my god daughter. We haven't seen much of each other for a few years.  They also brought food and Tony's wallet seemed to be "Bank of Dad".
We had a photo shoot but getting everyone together was problematic and in the end the numbers look a bit sparse!

So many riders had left before the cameras came out.

 We were lucky with the weather, it came over black a couple of times but I managed to get home without any rain.
Thanks to everyone that came and made the day a success.
Next year?

22 June 2013

Explorer Test Ride

I got back from my public transport trek to Steptoe's a few pounds (money) lighter and in plenty of time to have lunch and then go to Laguna Triumph for my test ride on the Triumph Tiger Explorer.

Claire came with me on the GS. We had a chat with the sales guy, Paul, and I went off for a ride round. The demonstrator is the latest colour bike in a pearl white but there are three others, black, blue and grey. I prefer the grey.
I immediately felt comfortable. The seat was right and the reach to the bars felt right. The 1215cc triple engine was very smooth and everything felt light and instant.

The brakes almost had me over the bars! The GS had good ABS brakes but these were like nothing I have experienced.

I took it up Bad Munstereiffel Way, and onto the M20 then down the A28 towards Tenterden and then back to Kingsnorth on the parallel road to the A28.

I even tried the cruise control on the M20. A little difficult with a long thumb required to reach it. No throttle cable. Fly by wire? What? There is no wire!
Handling seemed pretty stable with the standard tyres fitted, and steering is light and very precise. The standard seats are comfortable and are made from a non-slip material.

Technology has moved on a long way in the 14 years since my bike came off the production line.

So we did a deal to trade the GS against it. 

A new oil leak that shows on the left of the engine and covers the sidestand could have waited a few weeks but of course means work! Damn! A few pounds off but I didn't exactly mention the problem resolved only hours before... It's a game.

You want the most you can, and they want the least given away!!

In the end we compromised.

Now I have to wait for Triumph to deliver a grey one for me and provide a VIN number to get it registered and a registration plate for me to get the insurance sorted.

There were two in the showroom, both spoken for. One with optional wire wheels and one with alloy spoked. I prefer spoked over wire anyway.

I opted for a few extras; heated grips and  engine bars. The panniers and hand guards are extras that Triumph provide free.

The picture is taken from the Triumph configurator.


I turned down the spotlights. But I might reconsider and add them! A luxury maybe, but I have used them on the GS quite a bit.

I also have to have the alarm immobiliser as it is a stipulation by the insurance company. Why these aren't automatically factory fitted on all new bikes I'll never know.

I am looking at a tracker as well. I've seen one that looks pretty neat and it uses a pay and go SIM card.

As for the GS, I will be a little sad to see it go. Considering the few problems I have had in 10.5 years of ownership and then subtract the trade-in value against the price I paid, it has cost  me £400 a year to own it, plus running costs. One hell of a bike.

A new era is about to begin.

21 June 2013

A long day tomorrow!

The GS is fixed. Hurrah!
Getting it will be a bit of a trial. Steptoe is out all weekend from about 0930 tomorrow and so I need to get over there from Kent.  Checking all the websites for the trains and London Transport, reveals that I need to be on the 0643 from Ashford International to St Pancras, then a couple of tubes to get me to Putney Bridge and then a bus, and eh voila!  Steptoe's by about 0845!  As long as there are no problems, no delays!!
Then ride back to sunny Kent.
I put the road test of the Explorer back to 4pm or so to give me chance to go and get it.
Fingers crossed. All the hassle is so that I can see what trade-in I can get and also to get to the Kent Pet Food Run!!!

20 June 2013

Triumph Explorer

The Explorer looks to be the ideal solution for me.  It's GS enough to satisfy my type of riding and it scores highly as a tourer.
What a wonderful thing hindsight is. Had I gone ahead in April when I looked at it the first time and then decided I still wanted to keep riding the GS, the current failed and lifeless GS would be a dealer's problem somewhere and I would be riding about in style!

Plus a Puritan streak that doesn't like spending money!!
I have the test ride on Saturday. There are deals to be had and the bikes are there.  I like the grey one and we'll see what Claire thinks.  I guess with no trade-in we might get a better deal. Have to wait and see.
If I sign on the dotted line on Saturday I might have it by the Saturday after!  Just the insurance to mess about with!
Might have to start a new BLOG!!!!

GS Update

An electrical fault somewhere in the loom is proving a problem for Steptoe to locate so it looks like the GS is not coming home any time soon.  Too late to be taken to Laguna Triumph at Ashford and used part-ex on the Explorer.
The guy in the shop said that given the huge mileage and the age that it is was probably worth £1500. Possibly about what I was expecting I guess. Yesterday I took the Touratech rack and panniers off and replaced the BMW System case rails. I still have the System panniers and they can go back on.
I advertised the Touratech kit complete on the R1150GS Facebook page and if there are no takers by the end of the week I'll put them on eBay.  I have a Touratech tankbag that will go that way as well. Might as well recoup some of my investment from over the years.
The TT Zega panniers on the TT website, with mounting hardware and rails come out at nigh on £800.  In good nick I was hoping to get £250 or so or maybe more.
Once it comes back I suppose it will become my hack until I can sell it.
The part-ex route might not always be the best way, financially, of getting rid of an older bike or a turkey, but it is a way of not having more bikes in the garage than you need or want.  It wil stil have to be insured and it will still have to be taxed and run.

19 June 2013

GS to Steptoe

When we got home today I called Carole Nash Breakdown Service and they were very good and sent an AA Patrol to have a look. I lucked out with Paul from Ramsgate as he is a biker as well with an R1200RT.
He checked the battery with his meter and as I had expected it was over 12v. Then he ran the meter through all the fuses and other gubbins in the fuse box. All showing a current.
We had the fuel  tank off and he used a Power-Probe to test the main power lead to the ignition switch. Under the front of the fuel tank is the ECU and the other connectors. The ignition switch side of the block was dead.  Adding 12v from the Power-Probe and we had full power through and the bike started.
Checking the other side, the battery side, and the lead was dead.  He was willing to have a further look back had calls to attend to.
I called Neil Harrison (www.gsshop.biz) who does the servicing and he said if they could get it to him, he would have a look and fix it.  We have isolated a problem area, but finding the section where the break is might be a little time consuming.  I assume once we find it he cuts a new red lead in and re-wraps the covering. 
After I waved it of on the back of the transporter, Claire and I had a drive down to Laguna Triumph to take another look at the Triumph Explorer!
Loyalty only works one way nowadays........ GS!!

Back home...

Back from the cruise. Loved Norway and must go back there.

The house was so clean and tidy when we left and now the cases clog up the whole place.

When I say must go back there. It will have to wait until 2015!! Next year we have the Florida trip as our main holiday and Norway is simply too far for a short trip!!! 

12 June 2013

Lottery Winners!

Before we all get excited £5.10 isn't going very far. We have won two lottos in a row with a total of £7.60.

The estimated prize for the lucky so and so on Friday is £110,000,000! 

Got to be in it to win it.

11 June 2013

One day to go

We go on the cruise tomorrow.

Time to see a new country and a time to see some new sights and new people.

The above link no longer works but the blog posts are here :

10 June 2013

Great start to the week

Rode the bike on Saturday. No hint of a problem. This morning all dressed up to go to work and it was dead.  Put the key in the ignition and turning on. Nothing.
No lights, no whirring. Dead.  Checked the fuses and can't see anytihng wrong. Kill switch is ON. 
Have no idea what it could be. The battery surely can't have packed up in less than a year? Or can it?
If it had discharged I would have expected it to degrade over time and starting become hard, at least a glimmer from the lights. But nothing.

8 June 2013

Resurrection 3

I booked the Kettle into Alford Brothers on July 3rd.  As it doesn't run, they will take it in the van and have a look and see what needs doing. I don't have the time or the tools, nor the workshop facilities to work on it.
I'll hand the keys over on the weekend and lock it up and they will collect it when I am at work.
Hell, I don't have power and light in the garage.  So, let's see what happens.
Fingers crossed.
Maybe resurrection will become burial!

Suzuki Test Day

Unfortunately I had to go on my own and so there is no photographic evidence of me astride the megalith that is the M1800R.
The road tests were undertaken by Suzuki GB and Alford Brothers in Folkestone.

Signing in was relatively easy and they took a photocopy of the full driving licence and kept it whilst you were out.

After a short pep talk from the Suzuki guy (who was going to lead about six of us on the road) saying to be careful of the forward pegs and the under steer, we were mounted and ready for a short course of about twenty minutes.

I got to ride the big red and white one.  First impressions are that it is very heavy and next, it is very wide. Both are expelled as soon as it is moving.
Starting the engine is a simple clutch in, even in neutral, and side stand up. Seat height is low but not as much as I have found on a couple of Harley's I have tested.  The tank however is very wide. it has a sort of leather bib on it to stop it getting scratched. I guess if you have iron balls then you might damage it.
So clutch in, stand up. Press button and release a thunderous racket from the exhausts. Blip the throttle and there is a rasp.  

Once on the road the five gears proved as the pep talk suggested, the torque must be massive as roll-on in any gear is impressive.  

As we joined the M20 for a few miles the others cleared off and I waited for a nice straight line and then opened the trottle. No lag, no hesitation, the digital rev counter in the top of the headlamp cowel slunk along to 6000 rpm. The redline is at 8000!
Looking down at the tank mounted speedometer showed three figures. "Er yes officer 69.5mph!"
The seat was comfortable. Even at the 69.5 (ahem!) speed the wind was just a little intrusive but I am sure Suzuki or an after market company will sell a small screen to deflect the wind off the rider.
Handling wasn't too bad. Even on the twisty A20 back to Folkestone I was able to keep up with the others, on a variety of sports and Bandits/SV's. Even the bend with the adverse camber was okay on this monster.
Generally handling is understeer, but a little lean and thought and it turns okay. The lack of ground clearance champhered off the heel of my right boot!  My fault, too enthusiastic. Annoying though.
All in all a great bike for one up mega cruiser riding. I need to have two seats and a screen. At under £11k it is much cheaper than any of the comparable big Harleys and the power?  HD can whistle for that.

Santana at Wembley

Last saw Santana at the O2 back in 2008. June. Went up on the bike. This time most likely on the train and then stay overnight at one of the hotels that have sprung up like daisies around the stadium and arena. The date is July 19th.

Joe Bonamassa at Brighton Centre

We missed the last UK tour when he came the the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone. This time the nearest is Brighton. So have booked there on September 28th. See what the seats are like.
The venue is right on the seafront not far from the pier,  so need to scope out parking well in advance. Ideally the bike would be better, but late September simply can't be trusted!

As it is a Saturday we can drive over in the day and as hotels in Brighton make Monte Carlo look like a budget destination, I have booked the Youth Hostel for £47 a night for two of us. Bed only, breakfast extra.
It's about twenty minutes from Brighton and I have emailed and said we'd like to drop gear off on the way through and then come back after the concert.  See what happens.

5 June 2013

Kettle Insurance!

I almost fell off my chair when I opened the email from Carole Nash Insurance. 

I had emailed to ask them how much to add a 1977 Suzuki GT750A to my existing policy for the remainder of the policy's life.

The current one runs out on July 4th at midnight.

The cost, and bear in mind it is less than a calendar month? They quoted £38!

For a month. I wrote back to say that at the moment the risk is that a tea chest contains some of it might fall on someone in my garage!!

4 June 2013

Resurrection 2

Some pix I took yesterday as I started to work on the GT. I put these on Facebook to share with other GT750 owners. :)

Suzuki Test Day

It is that time of year when the companies get their road shows out and about.
A few weeks ago it was Ducati, and I kick myself for not taking my bike gear with me and getting a test ride on the £15500 Diavel Strada.
This Saturday it is Suzukis turn at Alford Bros in Folkestone and at Robinson's in Canterbury on Sunday.
My choice for the test is the M1800R.

3 June 2013

Spam Email? UK Yahoo! Users

Spam email? 
I had one today from "Yahoo! Customer Care" with the subject of "!Account Update".
I am always suspicious and clicking "reply" reveals that some muppet called Ivan Scott with a btinternet.com account sent this out.

This guy has most likely had his emailed spoofed or he is the most shit spammer in the world.

Either way if you get the same email, delete it. DO NOT click on the link, do not enter your details! 
DO check the ISP the sender was using and then Google their spam email address.
In my case it is: http://tinyurl.com/ktyqgr9

2 June 2013


Today was the first day of the resurrection of the GT. I tugged her out the garage and she was a little heavy, the tyres being a little deflated.
I gave her a wash and brush up, tidied up a few problem areas.
The new Motobatt went in and the electrics fire up okay. She won't start yet as there's no petrol and the carbs need cleaning and the floats adjusted.
I removed the damaged grips and prepared the surfaces for the new ones. The problem on the throttle side is that the end of the throttle slide is cracked but I couldn't get the switchgear retaining screws undone to access the throttle cables.
So nice and clean she is back in the newly tidied garage.
Until the fourth day....

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