Wednesday 30 November 2011

NEC Bike show Part III

Had a mooch round the KTM stand, still quite fancy one of these, a 690 Enduro R

This was the new 350 Freeride, part Trial Bike, Part Enduro I think it could be popular.

Next stop the Kawasaki stand to take a look at the new Versys 1000, I wasn't too sure about the idea of a four cylinder adventure bike but then I suppose the concept is no different to my Tiger 1050?

Considering it's largely a parts bin special, it doesn't look too bad...

Strange to think it can trace it's heritage all the way back to the Z1, talking of which they had a beautifully restored example on the stand.

Then a quick look round the Honda stand, I had thought this was the new VFR1200 engined Cross Tourer but it turned out to be yet another variant on the new NC700 that powers their new mega scooter, very strange....

And talking of strange, if you were going to ride the length of Africa or round the world, would you choose a race replica like the Yamaha R1?

No I didn't think so but Nick Saunders thought it was the perfect bike. I did get to chat briefly to the man himself and he actually appears quite sane?

Well by then I had seen enough, so it was back to the bike park for a chilly but reasonably quick ride home, once again I was glad I'd left the Land Rover behind.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

NEC Bike show Part II

Immediately across from the Kriega stand was Touratech, lots of very desirable stuff and Adventure bikes wall to wall!



Another variation on the Yamaha XTZ660 Tenere

And the XTZ1200 Super Tenere

KTM 990 Adventure

Then it was on to the Triumph stand to take a look at the new Tiger 1200 Explorer, you know how it is at bike shows... almost impossible to get a photo of bikes, especially one as anticipated as the Explorer. And Triumph in their infinite wisdom decided to provide their own "person in the way" in the form of a dummy!

Not really my thing but the Steve MacQueen signature Bonneville did look rather good.

Then a visit to the Norton stand to take a look at the 961 Commando, the first time I'd seen one in the flesh. Certainly an improvement on the Commando of old. This is the Cafe Racer variant.

To be continued....

Monday 28 November 2011

Day out at the bike show

I got a bit of good luck on Friday, I happened to post on the ABR Forum that I was thinking of going to the Bike Show and someone posted that they had a free ticket as a friend had cancelled, so got myself a freebie!

I haven't been to the NEC show for over twenty years so I thought it was about time, I rode up on the Tiger, a bit chilly and the wind was very blustery but saved me a considerable amount in fuel compared to driving the Land Rover.

Getting in was a bit involved but glad I didn't take a car as I sailed past the couple of miles of queing traffic and it cost them £8 to park.... another saving!

Another advantage was that the bike parking was not only free but indoors, so was able to do a quick change act in the bike park and get rid of most of my bike gear in the panniers/top box.

First stop was the Yamaha stand as it was not far from the entrance and obviously I was drawn to the Adventure bikes, so ignoring the R1 and the other race replicas I found a nicely prepped XTZ660Tenere

Followed by a similarly prepped 1200 Super Tenere and I must say that the Yamaha "Speed Block" graphics still look really fresh despite having been designed back in the '70s.

And lastly a rather special Super Tenere, Nick Saunders' bike that was used on his record breaking attempt to ride the length of the Americas in both directions. Although he also "warmed up" on his way to the start in Alaska by riding up from Argentina. So this bike has ridden from the ends of the American continent no less than three times, not looking too bad for it.

Yamaha had a large display of race bikes from their 50 years of racing but I was disapointed to see they were all track bikes, I thought they might have included some of their Dakar winning bikes?

Next stop was stumbled on by accident, I came across the Dutch Track bikes, a diesel powered bike that I had only seen on the internet. Using a derivitive of the three cylinder diesel engine from the Smart Car complete with CVT gearbox, this bike is capable of 100mpg!!! so with a 20 litre tank has a theoretical range of 400 miles (I hope the seat's comfy).

Not entirely sure about the looks but I was able to sit on the bike that unlike most was not bolted down to the ground. It carries the weight low and felt nicely balanced, although the "missing" clutch lever felt a bit odd.

The bikes do look nicely built with high quality components (White Power Suspension, Brembo brakes) but still the inevitable signs of a hand built small volume product, the wiring could have been tidier although being a diesel, there's not much of it. The company now importing them into the UK will have demo bikes available in the new year. I was invited down to their base in Dorset to try one out, although they also mentioned the price.... £16,000 seems a bit steep to me!

I then found myself on the Kreiga stand chatting to Craig Bounds, fresh back from his trip to the Himalayas with partner Tamsin Jones. They had ben attempting to beat the world altitude record for a motorbike and although they were not successful, Tams did set a new Everest record for a woman at 5359m.

On the stand they had a wonderful "old school" BMW R80GS, just like the one I started my serious green laning on, although this one had been upgrade considerably.... luverly!

Well that's all for now folks..... to be continued

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Another cool photo from London Dakar Day

I thought this picture from Parliament Square of Jago's Tatra Support Truck was pretty cool too!

Saturday 19 November 2011

Cool Picture from London Dakar Day

Just had to post this really cool picture from yesterdays Dakar day at Canary Wharf

Friday 18 November 2011

London D Day

Well what a day!

Left home just after eight o'clock and gave the bike a thrashing down the A1 (great fun on knobblies... Not!) then a slightly slower trip round the North Circular through the near stationary traffic to arrive at Chiswick, where I joined the planned route.

I was surprised to see it was still only 9.10 and a check on Twitter found nothing posted in the last hour, so I decided to head down to Twickenham on the basis that I was bound to meet the convoy coming the other way.

I needn't have worried as I arrived at Twickenham Stadium, to find a whole bunch of bikes, the Dakar Team GB Tatra Support Truck and the Desert Rose Racing Nissan Patrol still there.

The big pile of cans is the new energy drink "Pussy" (I kid you not)! who were supporting the Team and the event. Which needless to say produced no end of puns throughout the day.

And a very neat Polaris buggy that can be carried on the back of the Tatra truck

And Simon Pavey's 2011 Dakar Bike

With some really neat details

However we were still waiting for the arrival of Patsy Quick of Desert Rose Racing with the Dakar Race bikes. So a trip over the road to the local Tesco for breakfast was in order.

We arrived back to find the bikes had arrived and a few photos  outside the front of the stadium were in order. Unfortunately we hadn't counted on an absolute jobsworth who threw a wobbly when we tried to park the bikes on the pavement. Even a decision to line up on the road instead seem to cause extreme concern with what was now a whole team of jobsworths! A few photos were quickly taken and we all trooped back to the car park. It seems they were fine with us doing something for charity as long as we did it out of sight of the public.

So we retreated back to the car park for more photo opportunities:

Toby and Jago's 2012 Dakar bikes

And the guys themselves posing with their bikes

The impressive looking Desert Rose Racing Ford F350 Truck

We eventually got on the road at about 11.00 am and what followed was a hoot, the Dakar bikes led off followed by the Ford, then the Tatra truck with a bunch of bikes then the Nissan; I followed up behind in another group of bikes.

We wound our way towards central London, with the convoy getting broken up several times but always managing to catch up, we had bikes boiling over, bikes running out of fuel and the odd wheelie! Standing up, off road stylie was the order of the day! lots of pussy was handed out to passers by who asked what it was all about. We eventually had a brief stop at the Royal Albert Hall. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos although we did have loads of pictures taken as we wound through the streets.

We eventually made our way to Parliament Square and did two (rather slow) laps getting stuck on every traffic light. Time was running short so we turned onto the Embankment and headed straight towards Canary Wharf. By now the numbers were looking severely depleted and less than a dozen bikes arrived at the finish.

The Dakar bikes were lined up on display and the Desert Rose Racing crew set up their truck and lots of Pussy was dispensed (ooh errr missus).

Rotary International with their Shelterbox initiative, one of the charities Toby is raising money for were represented. Those of us left, having made some new friendships on the day had some food and a chat and agreed to met up at the Dakar Team GB fundraiser on the 1st December.

I eventually left Canary Wharf about 4.30 and made it home by 5.45 despite having to thread my way up the highly congested A12 to the M11.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Dakar Rally comes to London?

Just getting prepared for tomorrows London Dakar Convoy organised by Dakar Team GB A convoy of Dakar Rally Bikes, Cars and Support Trucks going from Twickenham to Canary Wharf through Central London.

The Organisers have asked bikers to join in, preferably on "Off road bikes and wearing off road kit" so I've just put the finishing touches to the CCM. Including putting the old side panels on for the day as they are still wearing my race numbers from the Cambrian Rally... well you have to look the part don't you! You might also note I bolted the mirrors back on, fairly essential for riding into London methinks!

I'll be taking the camera along so hope to post up some photos tomorrow of lots of cool Dakar machinery.

Monday 14 November 2011

A chance to catch up....

Well despite the Rally season having ended, I've still been engaged in a few bike related things.

First off on 31st October I went along to see Charley Boorman's live show at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage.

To be honest i wasn't sure what to expect, you know the sort of thing... "failed actor friend of Ewan McGregor gets to ride round the world on the back of his famous mate" But in fact it turned out to be a very entertaining evening with tales of growing up in Hollywood (if you didn't know his father is film producer John Boorman), his own intermittent acting career, he admitted to actually being a painter and decorator at the time of Long Way Round. He was quite candid about the whole film and book affair coming about because he couldn't afford to to it otherwise. So I suppose if we had a famous mate and the chance to fund a round the world trip, we would jump for it too!

Quite interesting was when he was asked as he often is, will you race the Dakar again? Instead of his usual "maybe" he answered "most probably".

At the end of the same week, I went to the International Dirt Bike Show at Stoneleigh Park. To be honest it was pretty much dominated by motocross and there wasn't a great deal for the Rally Bike rider but an interesting day out. That day did host the awards ceremony for the Big Bike Rally Challenge so it was a great chance to meet up with several of the other competitors in the Challenge.

And on the way home I popped into see a contact from the CCM Riders forum who lives only 20 minutes from Stoneleigh and picked up a new (straight) subframe for the CCM, a new rear rack and a pair of side panels for considerably less than new parts would have cost.

On the Saturday I got to rebuild the bike and it looks pretty good with the new subframe on

OK it's grey instead of black but otherwise fitted perfectly and even better it' straight!

The side panels went on OK and look quite smart, being the opposite of the sub frame as they are black, replacing grey ones! Especially as the old ones were scratched and the exhaust had melted a hole in the right hand panel.

On the Sunday I was officiating at a Mountain Bike race in Thetford Forest so took the bike for a shake down run and even got a couple of laps of the course. The race was pretty neventful as this picture of Rich & Gary from Extreme Know How International shows, they were there to provide medical cover but as you can see, weren't exactly snowed under with casualties!