28 January 2018

Insignia MoT

One of the most nerve wracking days in adult life. And it happens every twelve months.

Taking the car for its MoT.

No matter how much care you take on all the obvious things like lights all working. Brakes working. Exhaust not leaking anywhere. ..

Rust? No major structural weakness.  This has largely been eradicated since they started using galvanised and rust treated metals.

So when you get the call to say it's done and passed the relief is immense.

So here we are, another year passed.


26 January 2018

Most Popular Post - The Marauder Roadtest!


Not many comments on my writing prowess or lack of it but 17164 views is very satisfying for an amateur like myself.

Thanks everyone.

MAG News - London Mayor's Summit with Motorcycle Manufacturers

MAG comments on London Mayor's summit with motorcycle manufacturers.

Representatives from Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, BMW and Piaggio were invited to meet with the Metropolitan Police, MOPAC, the Motorcycle Industry Association and Secure by Design at City Hall on 23rd January.

On social media, Sadiq Khan commented "today I met with leading motorcycle manufacturers to say it is vital they design anti-theft measures into their vehicles to help keep Londoners safe".

Following the meeting, MCIA boss Tony Campbell commented "We know the Mayor would like to hear there is a 'magic bullet' which can be fitted to all bikes to stop them from being stolen, but unfortunately there isn't.   If there was, we would be fitting it, as theft is particularly damaging to business and to our customers."

He went on to say "We have explained to the Mayor that a 'layered' approach to security is proving to be the most effective and realistic way of making theft more difficult.  This uses a combination of new technologies like 'tagging' and 'tracking' and riders are encouraged to always supplement this with physical security in the form of locks and chains.  However they need something to lock their bikes to, which is where City Hall can make a difference by providing more secure parking across London.

Powered two wheelers are a solution in reducing congestion in the capital, improving air quality and relieving the pressure on parking, as they do in other European cities.  They need to be properly factored into London's transport planning over the long term and secure parking is one of the elements to ensure this is successful."

Colin Brown of the Motorcycle Action Group's TACT (The Anti-Crime Team) says:  "We wholeheartedly agree with Tony Campbell's position that there is no single Silver Bullet solution.  All parties need to accept responsibility for bringing this crime epidemic to an end.  We are keen to see an immediate response to an immediate problem.  The priority that the Metropolitan Police have given to the issue needs to be applauded, but we feel it is now time for Sadiq Khan and all local authorities to put their hands into their pockets to supply the kind of secure parking infrastructure that has been given to cyclists.  This is a proven solution that can show results far sooner than any design changes to the machines that are being targeted by criminals.  Riders need to be recognised as the primary victims and should be afforded the budgets required to support them just as the victims of any other crime are supported rather than blamed.

Equally we look forward to London's Mayor delivering on the promises made during his election campaign.  In 2016 Sadiq Khan said 'I don't make promises I can't keep, so let me make a promise I can definitely honour.  As Mayor, I will meet with representatives of riders' rights organisations and learn at first-hand what you need and want.  This will include a discussion about lane width and secure parking.'  Now is the time to deliver on that promise."

Mayor's letter to MAG

Central Office
MAG - Motorcycle Action Group

Tel: 01926 844064
Fax: 01926 844065

22 January 2018

Towing a trailer in EU/European countries - FEMA

Back in the 90's I bought a trailer to take my chattels and books to Czech when I was there teaching at a school.  Unfortunately it was probably the only trailer ever fitted to a Suzuki GT750A.  Not a bike anyone would choose to travel across Europe and live with as sole transport for a year before fitting a trailer hitch!

I still have both and they are both in need of TLC. TLC = money thrown at them. Although the GT has long been hitchless.

Taken in 1994 after return from Czech
Although the list on the FEMA site includes countries I have been to with the trailer, both on the GT and a later Yamaha XJ900F, the information is a surprise.  

I have ridden in Slovakia after the Velvet Divorce and wan't stopped by the police or in any way hampered by them.

In Germany we were speeding along the A3 autobahn, two up on the XJ,  near Aachen and told to slow to 80kph by the police in a car that came alongside us.  I assume that the "slow down" waving of the arm and four fingers on both hand was indicating 80?

But isn't it odd that where they are trying to make Europe one big happy state (!) with licence standardisation across all member states that this is a complete haphazard nightmare?

20 January 2018

Think Floyd

Simply marvellous. Think Floyd.

As a tribute band they let the music if Pink Floyd take centre stage.

Unlike some tributes they don't try to look lie the band they are copying.  Nor do they try to be soundalikes.  But saying that the musicianship is excellent.

I knew most of the tracks they played and once they hit "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wish You Were Here" I was at my era again.


Although I don't like too much use of the mobile phone at events I did take a couple of short videos. In my defence. we were sitting in the back row and had no one behind to piss off!!

18 January 2018

MAG News - Motorcycles Matter!

Join our Awareness Ride in London on Saturday 21st April 2018

All motorcycle, scooter and moped riders are invited to come to London on 21st April to make the point that "Motorcycles Matter".

Motorcycles play an important role in our congested cities.

The problem is that the people running things don't get it. Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London refuse to acknowledge this.

It's not just London: there are another 28 authorities around the country looking into Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and charging vehicles for entering them.

In London, it will cost £12.50 a day to pass the North and South Circular into central London. 

Your Local Authority should be doing more to make it safe to park your bike by supplying more motorcycle parking bays with security. Manufacturers should be doing more to build in better security. Insurance companies should not be punishing the owners. 

The government should be doing more to support the Police in their fight against theft and increasing the penalties so that owners are not financially punished due to increased premiums.

We are not a 'cash cow' to bolster failing finances due to government cutbacks. 

So it's time for motorcyclists to hit the road for a "Motorcycles Matter" awareness ride!

Keep an eye on social media for updates on this event.

Get passionate! Get involved!

Because Motorcycles Matter!

16 January 2018

MAG News - Future of Motorcycling in London

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) met the Chair of the Greater London Authority (GLA) Transport Committee, Keith Prince, to begin a serious dialogue about the future of motorcycling in London.

MAG's Chair, Selina Lavender, and London Rep, Tim Fawthrop, met GLA Transport Committee Chair, Keith Prince, in a high-level meeting to discuss the Committee's attitude and approach towards motorcycle and scooter use in the city.  

The meeting, held on 10th January 2018 at the GLA's City Hall headquarters, covered a number of policy areas which have been of major concern to MAG in recent months.  MAG's Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Lembit Öpik, was also there to support the delegation.
Selina observes: 'we covered four key areas of work with Mr Prince. 

These were bike-related crime, secure parking, charging riders for using the roads and the case for promoting motorbikes as a net reducer of congestion and pollution.   As Keith himself is a rider, it made him easy to talk with and meant there was little need to explain the benefits we all get from the freedom of two wheels. This enabled us to focus the meeting as he could see our viewpoint. Keith was most supportive of riders and I look forward to MAG maintaining an open dialogue with him and the GLA.'

As a specific next step, MAG will be providing some detailed technical information to justify the benefits that motorcycles bring to the city in reducing congestion and pollution, as well as increasing mobility for less wealthy citizens.

Tim Fawthrop also raised the question of access to bus lanes.  'We keep being told that Transport for London wants to enable motorbikes to use bus lanes across the city.  Mr Prince was supportive of this, and gave us very good advice on how to proceed.  The specific steps he proposed – and offered to support - really make sense. We've created a lot of work for ourselves in meeting the Chair of the committee, and this kind of investment will undoubtedly generate a much more powerful voice for the riding community in London.'

Central Office
MAG - Motorcycle Action Group

Tel: 01926 844064
Fax: 01926 844065


15 January 2018

More Wild Hogs

The Wild Hogs, my brother Neill and his mate Patrick, are off again in 2018.

Not as far as Norway or even Route 66, but to Northern Ireland for the North West 200 road races.

The trip blog is https://whnw200.blogspot.co.uk

The official site is http://northwest200.org

12 January 2018

More old tech 3 - Sanyo CG10

Another trash can digital camera. This one had no battery and no accessories. 

It was dumped in the big bins outside work along with assorted other out of date and badly looked after equipment.

It was probably there that it became detached from its battery and charger.
As ever. I took a punt on it actually working once I had sourced the bits and bobs it needed. Once again it was eBay to the rescue.  I managed to get a battery and charger block for about £8.

It uses a kettle lead (the common 8 shaped one) to connect to the mains.  I'm sure that most people have one or two loafing around. It's very common. Both my Canon 1100D and Claire's Sony DSLR have charging blocks that need the same lead.

As for memory.  It takes an SD card. I have a couple of small capacity ones. They sufficed until I decided that it was worth saving.

Latterly I have substituted the SD with an adapter and a MicroSD card combo. 
Currently 32Gb.

What's it like to use?

All the controls require a very dexterous right thumb.

In video mode it's pretty decent. It has some anti-shake software. The zoom is also quite powerful. Quality of movie is also quite stable.

When in "still shot" mode it oddly changes the view on the screen changing the picture shape and size. What you see is not quite what you get. Sanyo claim 10 megapixel.

The LCD screen folds out from the side and the camera is held like a pistol grip. I am left handed. But as the screen folds out from the left it has to be used right handed!!
Something that as left handed we have to get used to.

Another archive picture!

This one is actually not from my "Shoebox Archive" but is from a massive collection of 35mm slides that my brother, Neill, has been working his way through and scanning to computer. 

They are all from the collection of slides amassed by our Dad over around 30 years.

This is Neill, left, and me in the bath.  Neill joined me whilst fully clothed.  It would have been taken sometime like 1962/63.

7 January 2018

Insignia Kaput!

Battery I hope. Trouble is when these things happen on a Sunday we are still pretty much screwed here.

Luckily I have the portable power pack to revive Pepé between rides and that started it, if a little sluggishly, earlier today.

I have booked it online at a local autocentre where they will fit a new one and dispose of the old one. All for a price a little less than a few where I could DiY and then have to get rid of the old one.

But. That isn't until Tuesday. So tomorrow my run to the station will have to be after boosting it again.

Getting it fired up took the power pack down to 73%.  Hopefully it will be okay to get to work and back home again. At this rate I may take it to work and charge it there to ensure 100% for an evening start.

Fingers crossed.

Update 08/01/18

Came out this morning. Luckily no frost or ice. Flipped the bonnet/hood and attached the dbpower unit. Switched on.

Jumped in drivers seat. Turned key. Sweet f.a.

Checked connections and tried again. Finally and begrudgingly started. Packed it away and set off for the station.

Unit in my bag and I'll charge it up at work so that tonight it will be 100% again. This time after a bit of turning over it was down to 78%.

Later. ...

Update 8/1/18 7pm

Got back to the station. Hopped in the car. Thought I would try it before setting up the power pack. Grrrr! Started.

See what happens tomorrow.

Update 9/1/18

Battery fitted and home by 1030. Starting easily. So let's hope that's it.

1 January 2018

New Year and Reflections

Another year over.  Another load of memories stored away.

Thank goodness for blogging and Flickr. One day when memory starts to fade and faculties begin to fail, we'll have somewhere and something to remind us, or kickstart a memory.

Someone asked me about my earliest bike touring photograph.  I discount the one of me as a four year old on Dad's Thunderbird....

But back in the 70's and 80's before digital I tended to use Kodachrome slide film and not Kodacolor negative film both in 126 and 35mm sizes.  

When I moved down here in 1999 I had to take boxes of slides to the tip as they had been in the garage too long. Most were wet and at very least damp and useless. The cardboard mounts rotted and the film itself ruined.

Sadly this would write off a good photographic proportion of my life.

I do have some prints though.  I need to locate them. Currently the oldest picture I have in digital format was scanned from my first ever box of slides that I do have still.

I only scanned it a few a couple of weeks ago.

I am one of the four Surrey Scooter adonis'. Four 17yo lads on a first adventure on our scooters. Away from home as a group. It was only about 250 miles from home but with some unreliable Italians under us it was an adventure. 

Today it seems you need to have a big German or Austrian twin cylinder panzer bike to have an adventure.  Bollocks.

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