Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Wandering Walton’s 2013 Annual Review - A year of change.

Well as 2013 draws to a close I find myself coming to terms with a few changes. The first being my move from a svelte 11 stone something, size medium to my current 12 stone & a bit size large. Still it did give Jeannie the opportunity to refurbish my wardrobe with a nice selection of Fred Perry polo shirts, much to my delight on Christmas Day.

However as this is a Blog about bikes I'd best get back to the job in hand and review the Wandering Walton's year in the saddle.

January ran like a well oiled machine with a number of visits to my beloved Derbyshire in Zero Degrees, visiting family past and present. A ride to Shropshire to attend John and Sonia's now annual IBA UK RTE followed by the Manc Riders RTE the following weekend. Both rides proved interesting with a good coating of snow everywhere. I was really pleased with the Continental TK80's performance on Mr T. which made easy work of the snow.

My beloved Derbyshire

Continental TK80's are Awesome!

IBA UK 3rd Annual RTE 2013

Snow, what snow!
This Snow

Manc Riders 3rd Annual RTE 2013

My favourite photo of Ben in January
What an absolute star!

February I was back in Derbyshire sorting out a ride for the boys which involved a little 'green- laneing" which got the better of me on more than one occasion. Other than a trip to Blackburn to see Foggy and Whit's 'Giving it Gas Tour' with a couple of the Manc Riders plus a little 'farkling' nothing else of interest happened really. I must admit I wrote one Blog all about Ben call “The future of biking is in safe hands” which I’m still rather proud of to this day.
And no I didn't lay it down!
As Oggy will confirm.

March saw me heading to Spain to get a little weekend sun, how wrong could I have been. Riding through France the Sat Nav died on me for no apparent reason leaving me to turn back the years and open a map! 2 foot of snow at the Spanish border just cracked me up. Asking for a hot chocolate at a bar full of locals wearing shorts, sipping cold beers drew more interest than I'm used to but ‘I think France hates me’ was born!

Not what I expected to see!

Mr T had his 30,000 Mile Service when I got back in readiness for the rest of the year. Finally the month drew to a close with a bang! It's Show Time, Ben and I took Trinity over to the Manchester Bike Show after digging out the drive yet again.

First and last time in Pobsey's VW Caravel 

But the end justified the means
Ben with his bike Trinity

It was a really nice way to see Trinity finally at the stage where I can park her up for Ben. Long term storage is going to be an interesting issue in itself but 'a man has to do what a man has to do'. Only another 9 years to go! 

Decisions, decisions!

April  Fast forward to May!

May was a cracking month firstly attending the 70th Anniversary Dambusters Fly Past in Derbyshire with Lefty which turned out to be a very memorable day for the both of us. This was followed a week later by a ride down the A1 to the Peterborough Show Ground with Ben to attend our first BMF Show. I can thoroughly recommend taking the time to add it to your To-Do List!

What an amazing sight

Nooooooo Ben

Now your talking!

Do you see a pattern appearing?

Who's that behind you Ben?

Ben meeting Nick Sanders

June was a strange sort of a month with an aborted trip to the HUBB Meeting down in Derbyshire followed swiftly by a brilliant weekend riding with Nick Plumb and Nick Sanders in Wales.

Spot the XT1200Z

Ha there it is!

Time for a laugh

The highlight of the year though just has to be the Big 1000 written by Ben himself. Ben and I had a fantastic time riding 1000 miles in 19 hours. So much so that Ben is now chomping at the bit to take part in the next RBLR1000 in June 2014.

1000 Mile's Dad "Bring It On"

You asked for it Ben

500 miles in and buzzing

Job Done!

What an absolute star, you make me so proud
Love you Ben

July Ben and I appeared in the Manchester Evening News as Ben had become the youngest pillion rider to have completed the 1000 mile ride in the RBLR1000’s 5 year history. Talk about being the proudest Dad alive!

Nuph Said, or I'll cry

We also took part in a number of fund raising rides. including the Hadrian's Wall End to End organised by Kieron at the Filling Station Cafe in Keswick in aid of Help for Heroes . Next up was the Henshaws Sausage Run organised by Glen raising funds for Henshaws Society for Blind People.  

Half way there!

And he's in the press 

Had a cracking little ride
Even if the traffic was !!!

Finally we rode back down to Derbyshire to place flowers on Mums grave on the 12 anniversary of her passing. This was Bens first visit and one he will remember for many years to come.

I never realised just how much time
Ben spent on the pillion seat in 2013 until right now!

I even decided to buy a Yamaha XT660X as a project and to have a little fun doing it up.

August Fast forward to September. 

September other than Ron collecting his new Yamaha XT1200Z World Crosser it was fast forward to October.

Uncle Ron's new stead

October had Ron and I riding over to take part in the IBA Germany Road Runner Rally.  I attended my 5th RTTW with the Manc Riders which really finished the month off just the way I wanted it to. Mr T had a deep clean and was parked up yet again. 

Nice way to spend 24 hours

Manc Riders RTTW 2013

"We will remember them"

November I made the command decision to sell Mr T. and the XT660X to fund my dream bike. You see, I'd been looking at swapping to either a Honda Goldwing GL1800 or the very tempting CBR1000RR Fireblade for well over a year. 

After many months of trawling the net and local Honda bike dealers I decided to go with my heart instead of my head. The Fireblade won hands down! I bid 'A fond farewell to Mr T' which was bought by Kevin and Lyn Weller which really was the icing on the cake as after all the love and affection I’d given the bike it deserved a good home. One I’m now pleased to say I know it has. The XT660X was used as a deposit on my new pride and joy. An all black 20th Anniversary Edition 2012 (on a 2013 plate) Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. 

She's arrived!

When I collected it from Rochdale Honda I was absolutely bouncing, so much so I even gave Kev the sales man a ‘Man-Hug’ much to both our surprise! It just so good to be ‘Returning to my Honda roots’ I’m over the moon with the Fireblade, it still brings a smile to my face just looking at it in the garage. Now thats saying something. As for riding it, well I’m still going through the ‘screaming with delight stage’.

A thing of Beauty 

December is upon us once again. The weather is rather blustery but as yet no snow, which reminders me, I have a set of TK80's in Keith Dixon's store room! 

We got a surprise in December when something arrived in the post for Ben from the IBA UK. Ben was absolutely over the moon to win the IBA Press Prize Award for the article in the Manchester Evening News regarding  the RBLR1000. What a fitting reward for all his endeavours in 2013. 

Well done Ben

So with only two rides under my belt on my new stead I'm absolutely delighted to have the bike of my dreams parked in the garage. 

All I’ve managed so far is a ride through Derbyshire and a trip up to the Filling Station Cafe in Keswick for lunch at Kieron's putting all of 400 miles on the clock but I don’t care. The whole point of buying the Fireblade was to ‘make a change’ from my routine of vanishing for hours upon end even days at a time in some cases. I just want to have some fun, its that simple. I’ve enjoyed all the bikes I’ve owned bar one (but the less said about that the better.) 

Best Biker Cafe in the Lakes

2014 is the year where I’m going to do different things, attend different events, meetings, show’s even try and get to the Isle of Man TT Races with Ben. 

I'm making no plans what so ever, zero, zilch! What comes around comes around. Yes there's all the usual annual visits to family, IBA and Manc Riders RTE's and of cause the RBLR1000 which I would not miss for the world but as far as planned rides I'm signing up for nothing!  

Im looking forward to a very enjoyable and different year riding with my friends and hopefully making new ones along the way.  Having recently joined the 1000RR Forum where there's a whole new world opening before me so who knows what’s going to happen.

Finally I’d just like to wishing each and every reader a wonderful, happy, healthy and prosperous 2014. 

Ride well and stay safe my friends, it’s a jungle out there!

Happy New Year Folks
from the 
Wandering Walton's

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

First Impressions. O.M.G.

Maggie's arrival, looking stunning dare I say, signalled the time to for me make myself scarce. Popping upstairs to get my clobber on I heard the door bell go. Lyn had arrived for Jeannie's morning coffee get together. It was 1130 by 1145 all three where at the kitchen window watching me mount up, lid down and ride away.

As I sat there with the motor running I began to smile. So quite, yet harbouring so much power. I'll admit, I was a little apprehensive. Not nervous but wary, a respectful wary. It had been 4 years since I'd ridden a 'pure bread' Super Sports Bike. That's if you can call a Triumph 675 Daytona a Super Sports Bike. 

I'd sold that due to the sheer amount of problems I'd had with it. However every time I'd ridden it I'd grinned in exactly the same way as I was doing right then as I slowly pulled through the gates. 

Watching the traffic pass this way and that, my nerves settled and the grin just got bigger and bigger.  Eventually the road cleared and I pulled out, the sound from the exhausts was a little higher pitched than I’d heard before, not moped high just high. First, second, third and back down to second through the box as smooth as silk.  

I was surprised to find traffic lights at the bottom of the road but at least they allowed me to filter to the front only to discover the traffic was now being forced to flow the wrong way round the roundabout! The lights flicked to green. As I pulled away the Corsa that I’d been waiting at the side of stuck to me rear end like glue. Having to ride through the gravel and dirt on the wrong side of the roundabout did not impress me, especially as the tyres were still brand new. Still in first gear I felt the back end step out, just a fraction but enough for my Corsa shadow to hit the breaks. Hanging right I was off up the hill, 40 mph arrived in the blink of an eye. I slipped up into third. My shadow reappeared so I pulled over into the inside lane to allow the eager beaver to pass. A quick glance over to my right to find the driver was a girl! So much for 'boy racers'! 

One thing struck me immediately, this bike can move and I mean seriously move. Especially when compared with my last two bikes the FJR and the XT1200Z which I’d been used to for the last 4 years. Filtering through the mid day traffic in Rochdale town centre was so easy. No bulky panniers to worry about for one thing. I found myself laughing and whooping as I rode along. I felt like a big kid on Christmas morning.  

With all of 6 miles on the clock I slid the back end out as I pulled up the right-hander towards the M6. 30,40,50, 60, 70 mph and I was still only in third. Slipping through the gears with the minimum of effort I noticed the exhaust tone drop, bang on 50 mph. How do I explain the change in  sound to a non rider? Well its like listening to a small kittens high pitch purring when it suddenly opening it's mouth real wide and growls like a fully grown lion. It’s a wonder to behold and had me screaming Yeehar at the top of my voice. So loud the guy sat at the lights just shook his head in disbelief. Believe me if you’ve  never ridden a  thorough bred super sports-bike you’re missing out on one of life's true pleasures.

Coasting along the M62 towards Manchester (town) I could not believe how sensitive and precise the steering was. The more I wound the throttle the louder the growling became but not in an obtrusive way, you understand. More of a reassuring protective way. Again I found myself laughing out loud. Anyone at the lights at junction 17 heading into town must have thought I'd lost lost plot. 

Arriving at the Adventure Bike Warehouse in Sale to find it closed on a Monday annoyed me. I was immediately cheered up by listening to the beautiful purring motor. This bike is something else totally. To be treated with the upmost respect it deserves. It was at that very moment I realised Jessie and I are going to be very happy together. The apprehensive feelings I'd had just 20 minutes earlier we're gone, Jessie fits me perfectly. 

A quick ride back into town I called first into Hein Gericke for a quick look around what turned out to be a very poorly stocked shop. The guys told me they didn’t have what I was looking for so I left Jessie outside and nipped over the road to try out the Kriega R30 rucksack in the Triumph dealers. 

I was delighted with the rucksack, the fit, feel and size were just what I was looking for but there is no way on earth I'm ridding around on a 20th Anniversary Edition Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade with a Triumph branded bag on my back. Sorry Mr Salesman but it's just never going to happen even if you did give me a cup of coffee, which I appreciated by the way.

My next stop involved an interesting ride through the centre of town cutting up along Back Oldham Street and the Northern Quarter to get to Portland Street and my favourite bike gear store of all, the Manchester Dainese Store. Pulling onto the pavement in front of the window brought a few strange looks but I didn't care, this is town! Best way to ensure your bike is safe is to make sure you can see it at all times, simples.

It didn't take long before I was chatting to the sales guy,  Phil I think he was called (sorry mate I'm rubbish with names). Kindly checking the system for a Dainese Draken two piece leather suit. I was informed they no longer stock the Draken suit as it was discontinued in 2012.  There was nothing for it I’d just have to start my search for something as close to it as possible. It didn’t take long with Phil’s help  to find what I was looking for a Dainese Avro two pice suite from this years collection. It looked great and comes with elasticated leather stretching sections above the knees no less. 

My middle age spread is getting the better of me, or is that just good living the jury's out on that one! I found size 52 European sizing that is thank you very much, fitted like a glove. I've only moved up one size in the last 20 years I'll have you know! 

Spotting the vast selection of Arai Helmets off toward the main entrance I took a wander over, setting off the security gates in the process. By this time I had Phil's undivided attention as everyone else had left the shop and he'd eventually put the phone down which never stopped ringing the entire time I was in there.
Trying on a rather nice black, red and white Aria RX-7 GP in Mick Doohan Special TT Edition livery I just had to have it. Back in my filthy Gortex Dainese gear I went into bargaining mode only to be informed their not allowed to discount current lines. Just as well there was £100 already off the helmet.  Another couple of pounds came off the price plus an Aria Helmet bag, black visor and finally a neck tube were added and so I was pleased to say we had ourselves a deal. I was a little surprised to be told the jacket does not have a 'pocket' in the rear to contain a back protector. So it was time to try on and buy a suitable back protector. I needed to escape as the bill was getting away from me but what a fantastic feeling. 

So after a very worth while hour and a quarter I'd managed to kit myself out ready for next years fine weather, that's if we get any. Agreeing to collect all my kit and my old helmet as I chose to wear the new one, on Thursday when Jeannie and I are visiting the Manchester Christmas Market, I remounted my wonderful 'Grin Machine’ and struggled back onto Portland Street. 

It was 1330 hours and I'd covered all of 24 miles including the 4 miles she had on her this morning after me collecting her from Rochdale Honda over 3 weeks ago. All I've managed to do is partially coat the vulnerable parts with 'Venture Shield' (more to follow on that process in a separate blog) and get her coated professionally in ACF50 by a good friend of mine called Steve. So with the day still young there was nothing for it but to headed to my beloved Derbyshire. 

Getting out of town was a pain but once out of the city centre bedlam riding towards Ashton-under-Lyne I headed out in the direction of Glossop. Purposely missing the Chapel-en-le-Fryth turning I headed straight through Glossop and got onto the A628 more lovingly know as the 'Snake Pass' towards Sheffield.

The ventilation in the Aria RX-7GP is superb, no misting  minimal noise and a fresh feel around my face the whole time told me I'd done the right thing in buying this amazing helmet. With Jessie doing her thing I could not believe how smooth and precise a motorbike can be. I used to think the 675 Dayton was special, which it was, but Jessie is in a league of  her own.  Her forgiving nature allows you to enjoy as much or in fact as little of her power as is possible without dread or drama. Cruising at 50 mph she’s as docile as a 600 but drop her into second or third and open the throttle and you’re gone.

I've no intensions of going daft on her, I'm too 'old and wrinkly' to even contemplate such ludicrous behaviour. The potential for disaster is overwhelmingly obvious, but rest assured I will enjoy every second I spend riding this wonderful machine. 

The riding position really brought home to me the 'head down, arse up' style of riding that I've missed for the last couple of years. It focuses both the mind and body into getting the job done with 100% attention being payed to what your supposed to be doing! Riding a motorbike. My legs, knees, wrists and fingers all took it in turn to remind me of my 51 years existence. The grin on my face even made my jaw ache by the time I stopped for a coffee at CMC in Clay Cross. Gutted to find  the cafe was closed at 1600 hours I headed straight of to Temple Normanton to visit my Mums grave, in the dark.

A quick ride back up the M1 past Sheffield I hung a left out of one set of 50 mph speed restrictions straight into another lot. Once I was clear of Huddersfield life got a little easier. However being dogged by 55 mph trucks in the middle lane and business men driving their company Ferrari's (in their minds) I soon realised the CBR is an idiot magnet. Every Tom, Dick and Harry just has to try and overtake you or sniff your exhaust fumes. Some things never change. At least I have nothing to prove unlike Mr Company Vauxhall/Passat/BMW driver! Chill out, there’s no rush to get your slippers on plus Emmerdale and Coronation Street are both repeated on Saturday and Sunday mornings so think on and give us riders a bit more space, please.

It would be all too easy to drone on about the exquisite styling, the amazing handling, the outrageous performance but to be honest I'm no motorcycle magazine reporter so I'll leave all that clever stuff to those that can do it justice. 

What I will say is I'm happy with my new bike and intend to have some wonderful times together which I'd like to share with you all. That's if you’re interested, of course. 

How can you not love something that look this good?

So after an amazing 150 mile maiden ride on my 20th Anniversary Edition Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade I’ll just repeat what I said right at the start First impressions. ‘O.M.G.’ what an amazing bike.

Ride well and stay safe my friends, it’s a jungle out there and the weather is not on our side!

Friday, 22 November 2013

A return to my Honda roots.

These wings really do make you fly

When I showed Ben this photo he found it hard to believe it was me.

'Big Boots & Long Socks'
Munster, Germany 1987

“Is that really you Dad”
“It is sweet heart”
“It looks nothing like you, maybe around the eyes but thats all”
“Trust me, thats your Dad way back in 1987”
“WHEN?” The horror is his voice was palpable. 

26 long years ago there I was bursting with pride at the purchase of my very first ‘brand new’ motorbike. A gleaming black and red vision of perfection. I’d been in the Army 3 years and there I was sat astride the fastest bike on the road. Now, before the purists’ amongst you start quoting facts and figures at me I need to point out, the Honda CBR1000F had a ‘claimed’ top speed of 182 miles per hour in the magazines of the time. Making it, for a short period of time back in 1987, the fastest production motorcycle on the road. I loved it.

A thing of beauty Honda CBR1000F
Outside 'MY' Garage

All I knew at the time was it made me the happiest man on the planet! All my mates thought I was bonkers (some things never change) but I just did not care. I was charged numerous times for chaining it to my bed when I was sent away on exercise. The QM hated me, seeing my bike as nothing more than a fire hazard, even though I always emptied the tank. After my fourth charge, I was issued a garage! Funny really as I’d applied for one over a year earlier but was refused on the grounds of not owning a car.

After that my running costs dropped substantially, due to not having my wages docked. Plus I became extremely popular with all the other bikers on camp all wanting a slot in ‘MY’ garage. At one  point there were 8 bikes crammed in, the least used at the back and the broken down and mine at the front. 

One inside pocket of my leathers was for the 1000 Deutsch Marks I always carried. The other held the clip full of ‘Speeding Tickets’ accrued very quickly, needless to say ‘on the spot fines’ where far better than accruing points. Plus I knew it was possible to out run the VW Passat police cars on the right roads, as they topped out at 120 mile an hour. They were amazing times, how I survived is a question for another day. 

I could go on forever about my first CBR1000, trips back to Chesterfield from Munster in Germany, just to have a night out with the lads. Well it was only a 1200 mile round trip plus an hour and a half hours on the ferry. No big deal! I ran the CBR1000 for just over three years with numerous trips around Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and on. Selling the bike broke my heart but it’s impossible to fit a babies pushchair to a bike, trust me I tried!

Fast forward 26 years and here I am again, the proud owner of a 20th Anniversary Edition CBR1000RR Fireblade. It’s a 2012 model but with zero miles and on a 63 plate, the reason  being I wanted the all black new model. 

So without further ado meet…………. wait for it, wait for it……… ‘Jessie’ named by the ever helpful Lefty, after the amazing runner Jesse Owen “The Black Flash” but as my Blade is ‘female’ the spelling has been amended accordingly. 

Pure Perfection 
Honda CBR1000 RR Fireblade
Courtesy of Kevin at

There are a couple of tasteful extras added at my own expense but I’ve kept them down to the bare minimum.

My beloved Pazzo Stubbies
With matching blue adjusters

Honda Racing Rear Seat Hump

Honda Racing Full Length Hugger

Plus my "Freebie" Tank Pad

Now the wandering can recommence! 

I say, bring it on.