Monday, 24 December 2012

The Wandering Walton’s 2012 Annual Review - Part 2 - The Close

Following  on from “The First 6 Months” it’s taken me quite a while to figure out, where on earth I have been to rack up 20,000 miles. Scanning through my Blog history it all came flooding back, rides with the Manc Rider, trips around Derbyshire (my beloved home county), a few IBA rides plus the Brit Butt Rally & a quick lap of the UK, a trip to Spain & back, a 1000 mile spin around Ireland, not to mention the rides I don’t feel warrant blogging about. Then the penny finally dropped!


Waking up to the sound of rain on canvas for the third morning in a row was not what I’d signed up for when I filled in the online registration form to attend the Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting back in 2011. Would I have changed it if I could? Not a cat in hell’s chance!

Did I mention it rained, A LOT!

Who would not want to spend a full 4 days in the presence of such “Over-landing Legends” as Ted Simon, Austin Vince, Sjaak Lucassen, Ed March, Matthew Cashmore, Paddy Tyson, Graham Field and not forgetting my good friends Bruce Smart, Sam Manicom & Birgit Schuenemann. I’m sorry if I have missed your name off my very short list of stars but you can rest assured, I have you all dancing around in my head. Screaming at me “just travel the world Raymondo!” Thanks’ for that!

Prizes on a postcard
if you know who's pannier this is!

In 2011 I had only managed to spend a day at Lumb Farm with my Dad, both of us having an amazing time meeting so many inspirational people. This year I was determined to soak up far more of this intoxicating mix of worldly adventures. At that time we spent quite some time speaking to a fellow Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z owner who also just happened to be called Ray. 3 Ray’s around on bike discussing travel, modifications and just getting on like a house on fire.

This year I really wanted it get involved so volunteered to assist Sam and the team, I was dully placed on “Recycling Duties!” I laughed to myself when I received the duty rota simply because low and behold who should be in charge of the Recycling Team, but Ray.

You've just got to love him
Been there, done that.

I had a fantastic time, if you’re reading this Ray (somewhere on the planet in your wonderful Land Rover with your home on the roof) I’d just like to say thank you for making the 2012 Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting  unforgettable. You’re the one who should be writing the book all about your life, from what you told me it’s a guaranteed “Best Seller” in the making!

love travelling, just getting on Mr T and taking off all over the place. Europe now actually feels like my own personal motorcycling back yard however the folks who attend the Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting are in the premier league when it comes to travelling. Stories of ‘Around the World’ trips come at you from every angle. Travelling on bikes both motor and pedal powered, trucks, vans, Land  Rovers you name it they are all there to meet, talk to and be inspired by. I know I rode away just pleased my passport was well and truly tucked away in Jeannie’s desk at home.

Thought I'd just call in on our way around the world
Next stop, China!

If your planning on a trip, no matter where or for how long I can guarantee attending a Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting will give you more of an insight into “The Real Deal” than reading a library of travel books. Most of the authors of which will be stood around you in that very same meeting. One final word to end my Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting ramblings is, “Attend!”

Unbeknownst to me the next 4 months of my life where just about to be gobbled up in a blur of sheer commitment to one singular task! That task was inexplicably linked to “The 2012 Olympic Games”. If the truth be known, after watching the amazing spectacle that was the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony on Friday the 27th July 2012, I like so many others was just mesmerised by what took place. Danny Boyle pulled off  an absolutely World Class Ceremony follow by the most amazing Olympic & Paralympic Games I for one have ever seen. I know for a fact that both events will live with me and millions more for the rest of 
our lives.

August / September / October & November

Other than having a full Ohlins Rear Suspension System fitted to Mr T by Kais in Atherton, seeing my friend Bruce off from London on his own "Around the world journey" better known as, attending the 5th annual Ride to the Wall, RTTW with Jeannie & the Manc Riders, it was a quite couple of months, NOT!  I even managed to squeeze in three days of car washing, creating the second Wardle Wash which I do in aid of “Children in Need”. This year raising over £200 (which I’m quite proud of).

October 1st Bruce's Mum's Birthday
A day that will live with me for many years to come

However  my life was consumed by just one singular challenge. That challenge was to visit every single post box that was officially painted GOLD by the Royal Mail to honour our Olympic & Paralympic Gold Medal winners.

Initially the challenge appeared to be just a simple ride to visit and photograph Mr T at the side of the 29 gold post boxes, this was during the early stages of the Olympic Games themselves. I like many others never belived the challenge grow and grow to an unbelievable 110 Gold Post Boxes by the end of the Olympic & Paralympic Games.

The challenge was further intensified by me deciding to visit them all within 22 days of riding. Now I must stress at this point those days did not run consecutively due to the simple fact, “Life still had to go on in the Walton household”.

What I’m slowly coming to realise is that in achieving my goal in just 19 days I’ve surpassed all manner of personal achievement. My riding has changed, well not changed but reverted to what I used to be like 32 years ago when I first stepped onto my Suzuki 125 Stinger. Ride, stop, take pictures, visit interesting places and now to top off the whole experience, Blog the entire trip, that’s as long as it isn’t too boring, that is.

I’m very proud to say I rode 6739 miles in total, visiting every single one of the 110 Gold Post Boxes which are spread as far apart as Northern Ireland in the West, The Island of Sark in the South, Lossiemouth - Scotland in the North and South Belton near Great Yarmouth in the East, not to mention a trip to Wales and the Isle of Man and writing no less than 19 blog entries about the ride. Due to this vast amount of information  I decide to write a separate  review covering the whole of the challenge ride which loving became known as 

The Wandering Walton’s Quest for Olympic Gold ……. Postboxes “Obviously”.

I am delighted to inform you that chose to publish my own review of the ride on their very informative site. The three instalments are already available to read and can be found at:-

Please take a little time to have a look at these and numerous other interesting motorbike related blogs by some very individual bikers. It‘s easy to join, log in, leave comments about the blogs and even post your own incredible achievements on site.

For now though here is a very poignant YouTube Video my great friend LBK put together for me, enjoy! Many thanks indeed LBK you did a superb job.

1 Man, 1 Motorbike, 1 Mission
110 Gold Post Boxes
19 Days Riding
6739 Miles


All this brings me nicely bang up to date. December has been quite a relaxing month give or take a the odd jaunt out and about in Lancashire or Derbyshire on Mr T. All I’ve done is carrying out a little more work on Trinity by fitting parts that have been sat under my bench for over a year. Mr T has had a new cam chain tensioner fitted on warranty, after he’s had his 24,000 mile service.

An Original Akrapovic
Carbon Fibre Exhaust Hanger 

Carbon Fibre Chain Guard fitted at last

Last Friday 21st  I fitted Mr T’s Christmas present in order to restore the equilibrium in the garage. This was because I’d bought Trinity a full Akrapovic exhaust system last year I thought the least I can do this year was to treat Mr T to an Akrapovic Slip-On Exhaust this year which has finished off the “Farkling” process to perfection.

Mr T's Christmas Present

would like to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to visit my blog and read all my ramblings, I really do appreciate it so very much. Thank you so very much.

What a way to round off a perfect 50th

It just leaves me to wish each and every single reader the Merriest of Christmases and an absolutely wonderful and prosperous New Year.

Merry Christmas Everybody from The Wandering Walton’s

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Wandering Walton’s 2012 Annual Review - Part 1 The first six months.

What's not to Love about Biking

So much has happened this year that it’s hard to sum it up without boring you and so I have decided to present the year in two 6 month “Bite Size” Blog’s.

I started the year wanting to visit Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Nordkapp none of which I've actually achieved. However, having recently written up Mr T’s 24,000 mile service (with 25,500 on the clock now 26,082) I realised to my surprise that I've ridden 20,000 miles this year, so all in all its been a very good year for Mr T & I.


I remember January being quite a mild one so I was out and about all through the month, visiting my Mum’s grave on the 17th to lay some flowers. Then it was off down to John’s for the IBA January Ride to Eat (RTE) where Ben & I had a brilliant time on the Trike Go-Cart. Resulting in What a Great way to start 2012

IBA UK RTE Jan 2012

It was whilst at the  IBA UK RTE that I spotted the expanded petrol tank on Kevin & Lyn’s FJR. Adding this to the sighting of another huge petrol tank on a bike at Squires Bar earlier in 2011 all added up to me pondering, “could I get a tank fabricated for Mr T?”. It would sure put an end to the GSA owners “my tank is bigger than your tank” argument, that was for sure.

The following morning it was the Manc Rider 2nd Annual RTE at The Moorcock Inn at Littleborough. I’d organised the RTE last year and so did the same again this year. All the guys arrived in one piece, no mean task being as there was 6 inch of snow all around. We all had a fantastic time catching up after the Christmas break over some really tasty traditional “Pub Grub”. Having a fair few new faces join us made the occasion even better. I’m  smiling as I write this as it all feels so long ago but having just organised the 3rd Manc Riders Annual RTE for 27th January 2013 really makes it a very special memory.

Manc  Riders 2nd Annual RTE
The Moorcock Inn near Littleborough

Sadly I quickly needed to get a set of new tyres after just 7,500 miles so chose to try the Continental Trail Attack 2’s which proved to be brilliant.


Following quite a bit of leg work on the internet regarding the petrol tank conversion, I eventually found someone willing to take the project on. As it turned out that person just happened to live in the good old US of A and was called Jaxon of . Now of all the bike projects I have undertaken The Tank Conversion Project 1  has been by far the most followed Blog I have written. The project from conception to completion took 3 months and spanned 6 Blog entries making it the most in-depth Tank Conversion Project 2  ever blogged (as far as I am aware).

How to make 33 litres fit into a 24 litres Petrol Tank

It was rewarding to see Trinity appear on the “Readers Letters” page of Fast Bike Magazine after I wrote in and told them about Ben’s 21st birthday present. I had a play in the snow one morning on Mr T. the YouTube video of which received a few negative comments but at least I had a laugh!

Just messing about in the Snow 
Brilliant Fun!

Ben & I traveled to London for the Over-landers Meeting at the Ace CafĂ© where Ben met Sam, Birgit and Paddy. What topped the day off perfectly was Roland taking us on our very own guided tour around the city of London where Little Ben got to meet Big Ben. It was a shame that Ben’s heated gloves decided to burn him on the return trip home!

One very happy chap "Biker Ben"

The final week in February saw  Ben & I on the road again this time heading into Europe. This was Ben’s second ride abroad which and turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than our first attempt. We were heading to the first European IBA RTE of the year taking place in Belgium at the “Butte de Lion”. Ben had a fantastic time and it really got 2012 off to a flying start.

Ben "bag's" his first windmill

To cap the month off in style the Wandering Walton’s Blog reached 10,000 hits. I was absolutely delighted to say the least and had a small celebratory drink on 20th February to mark the occasion. (I never dreamed at that time that by the end of the year, we would have reached an amazing 30,000 hits but we just may well do at this rate. 29,000 & counting).


For some reason I started to fall back into my old habits, the first example of this was riding an IBA “Leap of Faith” SS1000 on February 29th. Just because Phil had posted a thread up about riding an SS1000 on the extra day in February as it’s a leap year, hence “Leap of Faith” I was the only person to rise to the challenge! Still it gave Mr T a good work out and was the first of three IBA  rides I would undertake in quick succession.

A quick spin around the UK before
Dinner out and a pint at my local.

I rode down to Spain a week later Blogging “Rochdaleto Reims in the rain and then some" on the way down and “The Road to Zaragoza”on the way back. Bagging an SS2000 Km on the way there and an SS1600KM on the way back in the process. Old habit die hard and the IBA Big Ride Bug was biting hard. The weekend in Spain with Jeannie made up for all the miles mind, we had a lovely time in and around Alicante.

One of my favorite photos of Mr T
In front of Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicate

Mr T had his 12,000 mile service at the 8 months old stage so in Wandering Walton’s terms he was having and easy life. Unlike “The Beast” my FJR1300 who he’d replaced who had covered 20,000 miles in the same time period


As we all went on a family holiday to Cyprus April was quiet and other than getting things written up about the tank conversion project nothing blog worthy occurred.


Now something happened in May which was to fundamentally alter the way I approach my  riding.
A  ride was suggested on the IBA Forum which in a nut shell composed of ridding an SS1000 in each of the 4 countries that make up the United Kingdom. On paper the idea got me all fired up. I spent time plotting 4 quality routes that would fulfill the “British Isles Saddle Sore Insanity Ride” criteria.

Arriving in Belfast I rode down, up, back down & back up again “Early in Belfast, Breakfast in Cork & Lunch in Letterkenny,Brilliant!” Sat on the ferry heading to Scotland for SS1000 number two I realised something, that was the first time I had ever been to Ireland and all I’d seen was the inside of 5 petrol stations. The seed of disillusionment had been planted!

Waiting for the ferry in Belfast at midnight

I called Jeannie and headed home via the Scottish coastal roads all the way back to the M6 at Carlisle. What’s more I look back on that ride & the decision to quit the SS1000 attempt and I’m happy! Knowing what I know now, I made the right decision for me, to take my time and just enjoy the road.

Still I managed to fit in a nice ride down to the Touratech Head Office in the South of Wales, only to find it closed! And just to add some spice to life my riding, I did no more, I took part in the IBA Britt Butt Rally 2012 for the first time and wrote “A Rookies Prospective”.

It was an amazing adventure only tarnished slightly by Roland’s unfortunate withdrawal due to a mechanical fault. 36 hours in the saddle is not for everyone but I can thoroughly recommend it. If you’re looking for a new and exciting challenge then give the IBA Britt Butt Rally a go, you will not regret it I assure you.

It's amazing who you meet on an IBA UK Britt Butt Rally


Well with the IBA BBR 2012 behind me it was time for Mr T to get his 18,000 mile service and a set of new tyres fitted. I chose to get a set Michelin Anakee 2’s fitted this time so I could do a direct comparison with the Continental Trail Attack 2’s. Other than an initial issue of slight slipping when they were first fitted, it took about 500 miles to bed them in as opposed to the 100 for the Continentals. I’ve been delighted with the Anakee’s and at 26,000 there still going strong with at least another 1000 miles of life in them.

I also bought a new tent a Redverz Series 2 Expedition Tent, ready for the RBLR 1000 where I would be helping out on the IBA side of life. As the best part of 16 months had been spent as the IBA UK ride verifier I had volunteered to help Paddy and his team. I’d spent many an hour in front of the laptop, sorting lists of names, bikes, routes you name it I had it in my spread sheet. Having done so much work prior to the event I felt it was a logical choice to issue the riders their certificates personally straight after the ride.

Camping at Squires for the weekend was brilliant and I loved every minute of it. Not sleeping through Saturday night turned out to be tougher for me than actually riding the 1000 miles. Still the RBLR 1000 ran like clockwork thanks to Paddy and the team!

Snug as a Bug in a Rug!

So folk’s with that I’ll sign off for now and get to work on Part 2 of the Wandering Walton’s annual review 2012 - The final 6 months!

My favorite photo of
Ben & I in London

P.S. Please feel free to click on any of the links which will take you straight to the actual Blog or relevant Article.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Mr. T's 24,000 mile service ............... DONE!

Well here we go again, at least I managed to get 5 months riding in this time before taking Mr T back to  Keith Dixon Motorcycles for his 24,000 mile service.

As per usual here are the individual service, parts and running costs broken down so if you're thinking of buying a Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z. It will give you an idea of the financial implications of ownership. This has no bearing on Yamaha or Keith Dixon Motorcycles in any way and is only intended as a guide to people considering buying this amazing motorbike. Please also bear in mind the mileage I cover over short periods of time, as not everyone will cover this sort of mileage so quickly!

6,000 Mile Service – November 2011

1. Air Filter........................................ £30.70

2. Oil Filter ........................................ £11.70

3. Engine Oil ...................................... £44.58

4. Shaft Oil ........................................ £11.50

5. Sump Washer ................................ £2.26

6. Labour @ 2.5 Hours...................... £120

Grand Total ...................................... £220.74

Running costs at 6,000 miles (excluding Petrol, Tax & Insurance costs) = £0.03 per mile

Tyres fitted at 7,500 miles at a cost of £241 bringing running cost up to = £0.06 per mile

12,000 Mile Service – March 2012

1. Air Filter........................................ £30.70

2. Oil Filter ........................................ £11.69

3. Engine Oil ...................................... £43.49

4. Shaft Oil ........................................ £11.50

5. 3 x Washers .. ................................ £3.39

6. Plugs .............................................. £28.76

7. Labour @ 4Hours........................... £120

Grand Total ......................................... £321.53

Running costs at 12,965 miles (excluding Petrol, Tax & Insurance costs) = £0.06 per mile

18,000 Mile Service – June 2012

1. Air Filter........................................ £30.70

2. Oil Filter ........................................ £11.69

3. Engine Oil ...................................... £43.49

4. Shaft Oil ........................................ £11.50

5. 3 x Washers .. ................................ £3.39

6. 4 x Spark Plugs ............................. £28.76

7. Oil Filter .........................................£11.69

8. Labour @ 4Hours........................... £120

Grand Total ......................................... £250.39

Running costs at 17,823 miles (excluding Petrol, Tax & Insurance costs) = £0.05 per mile

Tyres fitted at 17,500 miles at a cost of £235 bringing running cost up to = £0.07 per mile

24,000 Mile Service – November 2012 

1. Air Filter........................................ £28.99

2. Oil Filter ........................................ £11.69

3. Engine Oil ..................................... £43.49

4. Shaft Oil ........................................ £11.50

5. 3 x Oil Drain Seals......................... £5.70

6. Spark Plugs ................................... £29.99

7. Oil Filter .........................................£11.69

8. Labour @ 6 Hours........................... £330

Grand Total ......................................... £461.29

Running costs at 25,500 miles (excluding Petrol, Tax & Insurance costs) = £0.07 per mile

Please note I have not included any "Farkling" costs incurred within the running costs total.  This is simply because it was my choice to "Farkle" Mr T rather than it being a part of the servicing scheduled.

Keith, Diane and their team have done me proud yet again. The service they provide is exemplary. No wonder Keith & Diane received the highest award of service excellence by Yamaha Head Office,  being flown to Japan no less to collect the award in person.

I took Mr T in for the service on Tuesday the 6th November but as I was heading out to Northern Ireland on my Gold Post BoxChallenge Ride later that night so Keith organised for the lads in the garage to change both the shaft oil, engine oil and oil filter plus give Mr T a once over. We then organised for me to return on Friday for the rest of the in depth 24,000 mile service.

I was loaned a Yamaha 660 Tenere for the ride home and had an interesting ride back over to Rochdale. The seat is amazing but dropping down from the power house of the Super Tenere XT1200Z  to a mere 660 was interesting to say the least. I have never changed gear so many times on the ride to and from home in my life. The ride comfort is good, the positioning all very familiar but I could just not get used to not being able to wind on the power from low revs without having to drop down as many as three gears at a time.

Yamaha XTZ660 Tenere

Very comfortable but a little too
under-powered for my liking

Still it was good fun and gave me the opportunity to cross another prospective bike of my wish list.

Friday 9th November and it was back to Keith’s. This time picking up the Yamaha XJ600 Diversion. Now as I type this a smile is starting to cross my face as the Diversion is an absolute dream to ride.

Yamaha XJ600 Diversion F

A cracking little bike with loads of personality
I'm so very tempted ..... stop it Raymondo!

Initially I found it “miniscule” in size compared to Mr T’s mass. It is light, easy to handle, great riding position with all the buttons just where you need them to be.

Power delivery is so smooth and steady. I almost felt like I was on a “Twist and Go” scooter. Straight through the box up into 6th gear and it will cruise around town at 30, mind you do have to drop into 4th to pull up extra steep hills, then just wind it on all the way to 70 mph along dual carriageways. Yes it will go a damn sight faster than that I’m sure just not with me on board in the rain and at 2 degree C, common sense prevails always.

I always put £10 worth of fuel in any bike Keith loans to me knowing it will get me home and back with a little to spare. Well after all fairs, fair in my books.

I could go on about the focused riding position being nicely tucked up but not as severe as the R6, therefore being more comfortable for longer periods of time. The smooth gear change and the almost silent exhaust note but my advice to anyone looking for a daily commute that doesn’t draw too much attention to itself is get over to your local Yamaha Dealership and give the “inappropriately” names Diversion 600 a try (this bike need another name as Diversion is just wrong, so very wrong). I guarantee you will not be disappointed, unless you’re after a “Pocket Rocket” then skip this and go straight to the R6 or R, if you have deep pockets.

Collecting Mr T at 4.30pm I started him up and was shocked to hear one hell of a racket coming from the motor. I’m pleased to say it only lasted a few minutes but long enough to warrant a call to Keith later in the week when the noise persisted.

Out of the blue I received a call from Keith which I missed on Tuesday as I was down at the NEC Motorcycle Live Show with Lefty. I called back later in the week and was asked if I could bring Mr T back in on Monday (yesterday) to have a new Cam Chain Tensioner fitted (under warranty).

Surprised and somewhat concerned I took Mr T in yesterday to have the new part fitted. Hoping it would only take an hour or so I was settling in with a brew when the bad news came it was going to take a couple of hours at least.

Still it meant I got to have another ride on the XJ600 Diversion which sort of made up for it. I organised to return today (Tuesday) as I had Spanish homework to complete and my course to attend. As it happened Jeannie was “Rear-ended” in the VW with Lilie Rose & Jo, Lilie Rose’s carer in the back,  by a Mini travelling far too fast and not paying attention. The rear of our VW is totalled and will need replacing. So not our best evening, all in all.

No prizes for guessing who liked this one......

Picking Mr T up this morning I spent half an hour in shear purgatory with chilblains in my hands. It was agony and the first time it has happened since I was in my 20’s.  Still whilst I sorted myself out I spotted two very nice Yamaha Original Polo Shirts on the sales rail which just happen to fit perfectly. You see, everything bar everything happens for a reason. If I’d not been in agony I would have just started the now “perfectly silent” Mr T up and rode home missing out on a couple of bargains.

As it happens a couple of other items of interest popped into my vision and well let’s just say for now ....……. Watch this space!