Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Who’s a lucky boy then?

Hearing Ron’s personal ringtone on my iPhone always brings a smile to my face.

“Yo, yo, Big Lad, how’s tricks?”

“It’s all good, busy as ever but what’s new?”

“So whats to do?”

“I’m thinking of swapping the ‘Pan’ ”

“Oh right, so what are you thinking of getting”

“A Super Tenere!”

Now to say I was ‘gob-smacked’ would be an understatement. Had I just heard right ‘Ron wants a Super Tenere’.

“Nice one. So how can I help?”

“Do you think your mate* can do me a decent deal on the ‘Pan’?

“I’m sure he’ll be able to sort something out for you”.

And so the conversation progressed. 

(*My ‘mate’ on this occasion referred to Keith of Keith Dixon Motorcycles in Accrington. Regular readers of the Blog will be fully aware of Keith as he is the dealer I bought Mr T from and who serviced both the FJR1300 and Mr T.)

I switched into ‘Bike salesman’ mode for a few minutes and took down all the details I knew Keith would need in order to get the ball rolling. Make, model, year, colour,  any extras, well you get the drift. A quick call the following morning to Lee, as Keith was out on an MOT run, and I passed all the info over  along with Ron’s mobile number. That was last Saturday morning.

With Ron planning on buying a Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z I started to get a little exited at the prospect of us taking part in the Iron Butt Association (IBA) Germany, European Road Runner Rally followed by our onward tour of Eastern Europe. When I didn’t hear anything  back from Ron Saturday or Sunday my mind started to run away with itself “I wonder if it’s a non starter?” I remember asking Jeannie out of the blue, much to her bemusement.

“What are you talking about?”

“Ron. I wonder if Keith or Lee have been in touch or if it’s all gone pear-shaped!”

“I’ve no idea”.

I need not have worried, as mid Monday morning the familiar tones of “Father Away by Evanescence” screamed out, loud and clear from my iPhone.

“Yo Yo, Big Lad. Go on then, what’s the script?” 

“Lee rang me Saturday morning, he needed to know about the tax and a few other things”

“Oh right, AND!”

“It’s all good”

“Come-On then, so have you got one or what?”


“What a spanker (brand new) or what?”

“Na, the new one was a bit rich for me, I’ve got an ex-demo with just under a couple of K on the clock”

“F*****g Brilliant, I’m well chuffed for you Big Lad”

“It get’s better! It’s a ‘World Crosser’ ”

The rest of the conversation is un Blog-able. Needless to say I was almost as ecstatic as Ron, just now quite. I could sense he was absolutely over the moon about his new stead. Who wouldn’t be, being the owner of a new Yamaha XT1200Z ‘World Crosser’ in Gun Metal Grey. Brilliant!

Ron was due to collect the ‘World Crosser’ that Friday and so we organised an overnight stop at ours on Thursday night. The week dragged but at last Ron was pulling onto the drive and into the garage on the Honda Pan European ST1300. It was a really nice clean bike with a mere 11,000 miles on the clock but it’s replacement was going to be something very special indeed.

As it was Thursday evening there was nothing for it and after a good catch up chat over dinner we headed to our local to take part in the pub quiz. Not that Ron and I were any use at all to Jeannie and the ‘Old’s’. We just sat and talked bikes all night.

Bright and breezy the following morning we were all up and about at 0700 hours, sorting Lilie Rose and Ben out for School. Pobsey had a nice 10 minutes with Uncle Ron sat side by side in the living room waiting for the school bus to arrive. Jeannie and I were surprised when, on her return from school to find Ron no longer with us she became a little distressed. It took us a good half hour to explain he’d gone home to Jo in London.

Anyway the ride over to Keith's was a simple affair, straight through Rochdale, up and over Owd Betts and straight through Accrington at the other end of the dual carriageway that just about connects the two. We were met by Keith who apologised as Lee had left to take up a new job with Knox-Body Amour so could not be there to complete the deal. I left Ron and Keith to sort out the finer details and had a mug of coffee with Diane and the new lad upstairs in the parts & clothing department.

One very happy 'World Crosser' Owner

I came back down just in time to see Keith rolling the mighty ‘World Crosser” around the front of the shop. It looked out of this world. I was just glad I’d ridden Tango’d over as it would have made Mr T look rather worn and dated. Dripping with carbon and looking ready to take on the world it is one very sexy beast.

The Yamaha XT1200Z 'World Crosser" Awesome!

Sadly after a steady ride back over the tops it was time for Ron to head back down the A1 to London. Still I did manage to take a couple of photo’s of his new ‘World Crosser” before he departed.

Ron that bike looks 'Made to measure' for you

So with Ron on his way I sat down in front of the Mac and looked at the route around Europe I’d  planned which was no longer going to be possible. The good news was, we are still able to take part in the German IBA Road Runner Rally, the bad news is, Ron has to be back in the UK on Wednesday the 2nd October due to work 

Not to get too down about the situation I took another look and decided to start and get organised a little more. One thing sprang to mind away. If we were only going to be away for 6 nights, 3 of which would be hotel based I could not see the point in dragging a load of camping equipment around with me. So camping was off the agenda, agreed, agreed!

Next were to stay Thursday night. After looking into riding down after Lilie Rose and Ben had gone to school the earliest tunnel crossing we could make would be the 16:20 from Folkestone. This puts us in Calais at 17:55 hours. Looking at BaseCamp brought it home that if we headed over into Germany it would be both late and dark before we could make any head way.

Then I spotted the “Biker Loft” in Groenedjksraat in Belgium. Ron was non to happy about only riding an hour up the road before getting our heads down but after a quick exchange of texts we agreed it would be a good idea.

So that was Thursday, in Belgium, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the rally start in Germany which just left Monday and Tuesday to sort out.

Plotting the location of the ‘Biker Loft’ in BaseCamp I realised to my surprise it was already in my Garmin 660. It turned out its has a Motorbike Museum there which is one of the locations on Grim Riders Museums Ride which I started earlier in the year.

Now the grey matter went into full flow. There are a total of 5 museums on Grim Riders Motorcycle Museums & Legends Ride in Europe. The ‘Biker Loft’ in Belgium, Dijon in France, Neckarslum in Germany, Augustusburg in Germany and finally Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. 

Correctly plotted in BaseCamp and hey presto you have yourself a cracking ride without too many dramas. So that’s exactly what I did but that left me a little short on what to do Tuesday. 

Now thinking back I remember reading in the original email from Grim that an extra point can be had for visiting an unlisted museum or legend. With this in mind and looking at our location the first thing that sprung to mind was the KTM Head Office in Austria but that did not really do it for me so  I carried on.

Then out of the blue I remembered reading an amazing book about an Austrian guy who rode from Vienna to India following Alexander the Great on Xenophon’s legendary “Road of the Army of Ten Thousand’ on a Puch Motorcycle with his friend Herbert Tichy as pillion.

The book ‘India: The Shimmering Dream'. It’s author non other than the famous Dr. Max Reisch (1912 - 1985). What makes this book so amazing is the fact the ride began on 27th July 1933. A little more investigation on my behalf and I discovered that the Max Reisch Collection closed in 2008 but Peter Reisch has relocated the entire exhibition to the South Tirol in a small Italian village called Bolzano.

Not being one to shy away from a challenge I contacted Peter Reisch to see if it would be possible for Ron and I to visit the exhibition. 

Good morning,

I write to enquire if it would be possible for my friend and I to visit the Max Reisch Collection on Monday the 30th of September or Tuesday the 1st of October. 

I read 'India the Shimmering Dream' almost a year ago and found it simply amazing in comparison to numerous other 'Overland Motorcycle' books which I have read. After doing a little research on the internet I discovered your website, hence this email.

My friend and I are both avid motorcycle riders having covered well over 100,000 miles in the last 4 years all around Europe.  We will be competing in the German Iron Butt Road Runner Rally the preceding weekend. The rally is a 24 hour long endurance photographic rally taking place throughout Germany but starting and finishing in Bamberg.

We will also be visiting a further 5 Motorcycle museums throughout Belgium, France, German, and the Czech Republic raising money for theWarwickshire Air Ambulance in the process.

We would be absolutely delighted if you could accommodate us and look forward to your reply with batted breath.

Kind regards

Ray F Walton

Peter’s reply came that very same afternoon:

Hi Ray and your friends!

Welcome in Bozen/Bolzano (is the italian Name of Bozen)
With pleasure I'll open the door of the Max Reisch-Exhibition for you.
Which day/hour do you prefer? Please give me your reply and:
Safe riding!

We are absolutely delight that Peter has graciously allowed us to visit the Max Reisch Exhibition on Tuesday morning. Following a brief search, our Monday evening will be spent in a very nice hotel in Bolzano in the South Tyrol in Italy.

I cannot wait to see this amazing machine
(Photo courtesy of Peter H. Reich)

Tuesday will be a busy day starting at the Max Reisch Exhibition, which I hope will be accepted by Grim as our extra point, followed by a very interesting ride over toward Dijon to photograph the Beaune Motorcycle Museum before riding through the night back to Calais some 850 miles away from Bolzano.

What will make the return trip somewhat spectacular is the fact the Stelvio Pass just happens to be en route to Dijon! 

Fingers crossed this will be open for business!

Throw in a 24 hour photographic motorcycle rally organised by IBA Germany and you have yourself one fantastic weeks riding in Europe.

This should keep us busy for a while!

Now how’s that for a plan?

“Ride well and stay safe my friends”

Thursday, 12 September 2013

In search of my ‘Mojo’!

Last night I attended a talk by Mr Ian Coates from Hebden Bridge. Ian was guest speaker of the Pennine Branch of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club (VMCC) at the Kingsway Arms in Rochdale, not 5 minutes from where I live. I arrived at the meeting by sheer fate after being  invited by a chap who has recently powder coated the bash plate on Tango’d but I’ll come to that later.

Ian’s presentation followed a very professional intro by the clubs chairman, including ‘minuting’ my attendance as a guest, followed by the reading of last months minutes, approved and seconded by the members. I was pleasantly surprised at how well run the VMCC meeting was. I’m more accustomed to far less formalities, quick hello, grab a pint and start chatting over a bite to eat with the Manc Riders.

Ian has spent the last 14 year riding around the world on his trusty Honda 750 Africa Twin. He  arrived in Hull back in February and rode straight over to the Manchester Bike Show where he was interviewed for TV and by the local press. His tales of adventure stretched far  and wide encompassing the entire globe. He kept us spellbound for well over an hour and could have gone on for days if it had not have been for the audiences bladders filling up to bursting point. Oh and a small matter of their beer glasses being empty, so the talk was over all too soon in my opinion.

Ian Coates Africa Twin at the 

Fourteen years on the road is an incredible length of time to be away from your wife and family. I’m always full of admiration for people who get way for long periods of time in search of their dreams. I know for a fact I struggle being away from Jeannie, Lilie Rose and Ben for more than a few days, a week and I’m ready to head home. It was an very interesting evening spent in the company of some very knowledgeable vintage bike owners. I’d just like to thank Chris for inviting me along I had a great evening, thank you all for your hospitality.

Earlier that day I fitted two sets of Oxford Mercury LED indicators to Tango’d yes, more about that later too.  Followed by a very enjoyable few hours reading about Kevin & Lyn Weller’s 10 week motorcycle trip over in America and Canada on their BWM 1200GSA which they shipped out especially for the trip and to participate in the Iron Butt Rally . If your stuck for something to do and have a couple of  hours to spare I could think of no better place to lose yourself than within the pages of  Kevin and Lyn’s Blog

They are an amazing couple who have toured so many countries together, photographed extensively by Lyn who rides pillion to Kevin. Their write ups are very entertaining and in my opinion, you would be foolish not to take a look. Well done to you both on your latest adventure, 23,000 miles in 10 weeks is some going. 

So after such an adventure filled day why an I in such an awfully depressed mood today? It’s simple Jeannie says, “You’ve lost your ‘Mojo!’

Day dreaming about traveling on two wheels seem to be the only thing I do of late. After 2008 which can only be described as a ‘mad frenzy of long distance riding’  I seem to have ground to a halt. We’ve just sat and had a real ‘heart to heart’ and the top and bottom of it all is, I need to get out on Mr T. So guess what? I have a plan.

For now I can console myself in being surrounded by books’, blog’s and a bikes, one of which is called Mr T, who is more than capable of whisking me off to adventures anew. 

Sadly at the minute Mr T is sulking at me! He has a flat battery! Which is hardly surprising when you think the last time I rode him was on the 29th of July! How mad is that? Seven whole weeks without even starting him up. No wonder the battery is flat.

The blame for his lack of use is Tango’d my latest project but when a bike has that all round ‘Grin Factor Machine’ who can blame me. I even attended the meeting last night on Tango’d.

There are still a couple of bits on Tango’d that are getting on my nerves one of which is the bash plate. So I took it off and stuck it up for sale. It would have sold to had it not been for all the messing about required to remove the two mounting brackets. I really couldn’t be bothered with taking the headers off and so the sale fell through and I stuck it at the back of the garage for a couple of weeks. 

Trawling eBay for an orange belly pan proved fruitless but just by chance I had a mad idea. “Why not powder coat it?” After another quick Google search I spotted Pennie Powder Coating based in Todmorden about half an hour away. Hanging there in one of the photo’s  were two wheels one powder coated red the other ‘Bright Orange’ Bingo! A quick call to Chris Spacey and we were set. I nipped the bash plate over that afternoon. 

Chris called me three days later to say it was ready for collection. As soon as I’d got off the mobile I became a little nervous because I’d taken the bash plate over in the VW and only compared the colour with a photo of the petrol tank on my iPhone. Arriving on Tango’d, Chris unwrapped the bash plate and held it up against the tank. It was a perfect match! The outcome is plain to see, its looks far better than I ever imagined it would. 

Now that looks better!

Next on my hit list was the rear end. I had intended fitting a ‘tail tidy’ but after many hours of searching and asking around on the forum it turns out that the only custom made tail tidy for the 2007+ model would cost 179 Euro’s plus shipping from Off>>>The Road in Germany. On top of which I would then need micro indicators and a number plate mount, making the entire project ludicrously expensive. 

Just out of curiosity I stripped the rear end  off to have a better look. Unless I was willing to cut the light off of the rear tray, which I’m not, it’s a non starter. 

2007 XT660X Rear end
It's one big piece of plastic!

Whilst the  back end was still on the bench I got back on eBay and found a nice set of chrome finished LED indicators. Kev had listed two pairs but there was still 6 days to run! That was far too long for me to wait so after an exchange of messages we cut a deal, two sets for the price of one. Deal done! True to his word two brand new sets of Oxford Mercury LED indicators arrived 2 days later. 

Out with the old
In with the new

Now I thought fitting them would be a breeze, be warned, it’s not! Each individual indicator is fitted with a small 70mm long resistor which takes a little plumbing in.

I just knew this was going to be fun!

Removing the head light altogether made life a lot easier up front. Here’s a photographic run through of the process for those of you planning on fitting a set of sexy indicators.

1) Remove head light & old indicators, bolt on new indicators
2) Use the cable casing from old over the new wires see right
3) Cable tie covered wires to light frame

4) I cut both connectors off of the Oxford indictor wires so I could thread the new wires through the old indicator wire cover
5) Fit new bullet connectors or solder
6) Connect inline resistor

7) Cable tie right wire to light frame
8) Waterproof the resistor and connectors I used 

9) Repeat on left 
10) Cable tie resistor to light frame

11) Re-fit headlight

12) Repeat at the rear
Job Done!

Currently the radiator cover is up in Preston with Les of Bare Grills. I’m having a chrome radiator cover fabricated just to finish off the front end with a bit of ‘bling!’

Having charged Mr T’s battery over night I took a steady ride around the block which brought home what a massive piece of machinery the Super Tenere XT1200Z really is especially with a 32 litre tank full of fuel. 

So what’s the plan to get my ‘Mojo’ back? You guessed it another adventure around Europe. I’m off to participate in the IBA Germany Road Runner Rally in 2 weeks time with Ron. As you can imagine I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and what better way to start than a 24 hour photographic rally Iron Butt style.

What makes this ride a little special is the fact we plan to follow up the rally with a weeks tour of South East Europe. The rough plan is to head East to Prague in the Czech Republic then continue South East through Slovakia into Hungary then Romania and Bulgaria. Before returning via Greece if time allows cutting back North West through Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo. The last leg will see us clipping the corner of Serbia whilst heading into Bosnia and Herzegovina calling in at Split in Croatia. Finally making an IBA ride back to the Channel Tunnel through Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and France hopefully in time to attend the 2013 RTTW on the 5th of October. That’s if all goes to plan. Failing that we will just mooch around and see where the road takes us.

So something tells me my ‘Mojo’ will be coming back with a vengeance with the adventure that lies  ahead. Hopefully my next Blog will be crammed with exiting tales of the IBA Germany Road Runners Rally and Ron and Rays East European Tour. 

Look out Europe here we come, in search of my ‘Mojo’.

‘Ride well and stay safe’.