Friday 20 January 2012

Wheels for Amelia

The wheels for my new custom bike 'Amelia' have arrived and look gorgeous....

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Book Update

Having been very busy with writing my book recently, I haven't done much in the way of putting much on my own blog, or commenting on others. I have been lurking though and reading many blogs, just not commenting.

That will remain the case for a while, while I press on with getting the book finished. I have now written 24 out of 33 of its chapters, so good progress has been made.

I am sorting and editing the photos that will be included in the book as I go, and my Cousins partner, Helen, has been editing my words on a chapter-by-chapter basis.

I hope to finish writing by the end of April, with the final editing and book layout completed by say June, printing done in say August, making the book available from about 1st October.  That’s the target, anyway!

I haven't forgotten my promise for those that commented on my blog before or during my tour of America!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Hitler wants a Harley for Sturgis.

With apologies to my German speaking friends.... but it is very funny....

Friday 6 January 2012

A Bikers New Year’s Resolution - The 15x30 list.

I have been riding bikes for some time and have covered a fair few miles in the past few years, all safely, without incident.  That makes me a competent rider, right?

No, of course it doesn't. 

There is one particular aspect to my motorcycling that I have not been happy with for a while and my New Year's Resolution is designed to correct this, but I need your help, my readers.

The issue I need to put right is my motorcycle pre-ride checks.  The problem is, I rarely do any, preferring instead to just jump on the bike and start riding as soon as possible.  In my years of riding I have given this topic almost a complete lack of attention which has resulted in the fact that I struggle to think of what it is I should be doing and that is where I need your help. 

I would like to use a list of pre-ride checks that actually makes sense, and that I can print out and pin to the wall of my garage as a reminder.  I have looked on the web and found quite a few lists, but these are either incomplete, exceesively detailed, or are simply wrong.  Some don't make sense about how often the checks should be done.  In short, I can't find one that works for me.

I have therefore used what I have read on the internet and created my own checklist, but I would like a few others to review it and suggest any necessary changes or additions.  I will then collate any and all comments, modify the list and hopefully this will become a useful list that not only I can use, but others if they want to.  I will publish the final amended checklist on my blog for anyone to copy and use.

To make it obvious what checks should be undertaken when, the top part of my list shows what checks should be made at the start of every riding day.  These are the absolute must-do safety checks that should happen every time you ride.

The second part of the list contains all other checks.  In this second part, the higher the item is on the list, the more often it should be done.

I would be happy if you would let me know what you think and please pass it on to as many other bikers as you wish, so that we get as much useful input as possible.

Part One.  Checks you should make at the start of every riding day....

1. Before you move your bike, look underneath for any leaked oil or coolant.  In fact learn to do this every time you approach your bike.
2. Check all lights are working correctly.  This must include
          high / low beam headlight
          rear tail light
          turn signals / indicators
          brake light (check operation from both front and rear brake levers)
3. Check the horn is working
4. Rotate and look at the front and back tyres (tires) for protruding nails, stones caught in the tread, or any obvious damage
5. Quick check of front and back tyres pressures (as very few people will check the air pressure every riding day with a gauge, at least do a test by kicking the tyres)
6. Check brake operation, front and rear.
7. Pull on the levers and push on the rear brake lever (with your hand) to check they have a smooth and properley adjusted operation, with no catching. Ensure correct position of the levers when released.
8. Check the throttle operates smoothly, with no catching. Ensure the throttle snaps closed when released
9. Take a walk around the bike to visually check nothing appears loose or out of place.
10. Check the fuel level, and if applicable make sure the fuel tap is in the correct position.
11. Check all caps (oil filler, coolant, brake fluid etc) are tight.
12. Check mirror positioning.
13. Ensure you can see properly through windshield, visor, googles, glasses, sunglasses etc.
14. Ensure you have something on you with your emergency contact details.
15. Don't forget your helmet!

Note, some people say it is better to check these things at the end of every riding day, to ensure your bike is ready the next time you use it.  Before or after doesn't matter, so just do what suits you.

Part Two.  Frequent checks (the nearer the top, the more frequently they should be done).  Clearly different types of motorcycle will have different checks to be performed, so this list has been made as general as possible to suit most types of bike....

1. Check tyre (tire) pressures are correct level, using an accurate gauge.
2. Check tyre wear is within safe limits and there is no excessive tread wear across the tyre width.  If you know how and if your tyres have them, check the wear indicators.
3. Inspect the wheels for loose spokes or cracks in cast wheels.  Check the axle fixings are not loose.
4. Ensure the wheels spin freely.
5. Ensure brake and clutch lever retaining bolts are tight.
6. Ensure the mirror fixings are tight.
7. Check headlight beam alignment and there is no condensation inside the unit.
8. Check main engine oil level and (because it is easy to remember when you are checking the oil) also check any under-engine oil drain plugs are tight.
9. If you can, check the battery power level.
10. If applicable, check the bikes coolant level.
11. Check the operation of steering. Ensure no cables are preventing full steering movement or that any cable are catching / rubbing.
12. Check operation of front suspension / forks.  Ensure there are no excessive fork oil leaks.
13. Check rear suspension operation.
14. Check throttle, clutch and brake cables do not bind when the steering is turned.
15. Check the final drive chain (or belt) tension for excessive play / movement.  If you adjust the chain tension, ensure the rear axle nuts are properley tightened.
16. Check the chain sprocket for excessive wear / hooking.
17.  Lubricate the final drive chain.
18. Check tyres for cracks.
19. Check brake pad wear if you can.
20. Check brake fluid level, check brake hoses for leaks, ensure all fixings and bolts on the brakes are tight, from the levers all the way to the brakes themselves.
21. Inspect the fuel delivery system, pipes etc for any signs of fuel leaks and check fixings are tight.
22. Look at battery condition, battery fluid levels (if applicable), all battery conections are tight, and the battery is adequately fixed in place.
23. Check operation and integrity of centre stand and / or side stand.  If applicable, check the electrical cut out still works if the side stand is down.
24. Check gearbox oil level (if applicable).
25. Comprehensive look at all fixings, bolts, screws are tight.  Must include seat fixings, handlebar fixings, pannier and rack fixings (if applicable).  Look to see everything is tight.
26. Check wiring is not pinching or fraying
27. Check the drain plug in the final drive shaft is tight. Check any seals for leaks.
28. Check hoses for damage or leaks.
29. Look to see if any frame / swing arm paint is lifting or peeling which may indicate cracking.
30. Check the view in the mirrors to ensure you look cool.

Monday 2 January 2012

Plans for 2012 Bike Trips

2012 will see two international motorcycle trips for me. Well, two and a half trips really.

In February, I will be travelling to Cuba, for a nine day organised motorcycle tour of the island. Three of us are going from the UK, myself, Paul Leeson and Ian Solley of 7 Ages Custom Motorcycles.

I am looking forward to seeing this island republic set in the Caribbean. Gladly, we don't need to do much in the way of organisation, as it will largely be done for us.  We will be renting bikes out there.

Just 90 miles from the USA, Cuba is set in the past. That is one of the great things about Cuba where the word 'modernisation' probably doesn't exist. We certainly want to see this old-fashioned aspect of Cuban life, especially the old American cars that have been fixed up over the years to keep them running. I don't smoke, but I suspect some Cuban cigars might make their way back to England for my friends and family.

This is the route we are expecting to take.... click on the map for a better view.....

In June a small group of us are going to the Harley-Davidson rally in Portugal. Here is a video promoting the rally....

Those going to Portugal are Ian Solley (remember he and I went to Croatia together)....

Paul Rose (you might remember he rode with me in Maine and Spain)....

and my eldest son, Charlie (yet to take his bike test)....

We will be taking the 24 hour ferry from the UK to northern Spain and then riding the route below through Spain and Portugal. This will be about a 2,000 mile round trip....

Finally, the trip that counts only as half a trip, is to the H-D Euro Rally in St Tropez in southern France. The reason it is only half a trip? Shhhhhhh. We are going by car and having a bike shipped there on the back of a truck. Don't tell anyone! There is a good reason for this - Jackie and I will be delivering our car back to Spain the timing fits perfectly with the rally. So, we will stop on the way in St Tropez for the few days of the rally and then continue our journey south all the way down to Spain.