Sunday, October 9, 2016

Kawasaki Versys — from the Latin phrase...

Stone me guv'nor, what a bike!
Does any Japanese motorcycle manufacturer make a bad bike anymore? Like sports bike tyres, there are great ones, and superb ones, but not many crap ones. And so it is with today's test mule.

The Kawasaki Versys 650L ABS
I've been a big fan of the ER6-N for a while, mainly because I liked how the shock was mounted on the side. No, I haven't ridden one, but did try to lose one on the road a long time ago. And after I worked hard through a series of tight mountain bends, I managed to drop him a few metres... on a GSXR1000. So I thought it must be a pretty capable bike. It is, and the Versys?

Well, having been a big fan of the Paris Dakar inspired trailies from years ago, the Africa Twins, Super Tenere's and DR BIG's all left a lasting impression so I do like these current trail/sport bike configurations. Sat up high, in comfort, with all the important whirly bits working away metres below you. A bit like the Titanic in its heyday, ok maybe a different cruise liner, but you get the drift.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Alpinestars, Arai's and Peter Stevens.

For proper service and cock-on quality.
After the palaver I just went through to buy a bike through Team Moto, it was a pleasure to deal with a company that actually have helpful staff. 

Deciding I needed new kit, with my current Arai ticking over the seven year mark and stone chipped to death, I took a look through eBay. I soon found a new Arai Vector 2 I liked, along with Alpinestars' gloves and boots. Best of all, some of it was on sale!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Oil Filter Review — The True Cost!

Be afraid!
How do you really know what you're getting when you screw on a new oil filter? That little canister has a big job to do considering it's trying to protect your several thousand dollar engine. 
For those lucky enough to have a cartridge-style filter, most of these questions won't apply. You can see every part of the new filter element, you can eyeball all the components on the engine. You can clean out the housing to your own impeccable tolerances. You fit it into the engine using the original manufacturer's components. Boom, you're done.

But what about the spin-ons?
  • Does the material filter out all the nasties? And to what micron?
  • Does the anti-drain back valve (rubber washer) really stop the oil flowing back into the sump?
  • Does the bypass valve open at the specified pressure for your bike?
  • Is the filter element sealed correctly within the canister? Hmm...
The news.
Take a look around the net and read about filter reviews, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I've been a mechanic for a long time and screwed on thousands of filters. And as long as they screw on, happy days. You get the odd leaker, or bad thread, and that's to be expected with a mass-produced unit.
But it's all fit and forget. You never look inside one, and don't know if it's done its job. In a garage, it's all completed in minutes. You don't look at the oil that comes out, couldn't care less about the old filter and send the vehicle on its way for another 20,000 thousand miles (or less, as the case maybe). And that's the harsh reality. You're relying on the fact that the filter is a quality component.

But when an engine fails, can you prove it was the filters fault?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

2011 CBR600RR Review — I've Turned.

You meet the nicest people... on a Honda.
The last Honda I owned was a '91 CBR1000FL, she'd done a few miles, had a few cracks in the fairing but that old beauty took me round Europe, in comfort, with no worries at all. The old timing tensioner mod was the only real engine work it ever received. I traded it on a new Hayabusa in 2000, and stuck with Suzukis ever since.

I've owned the GSXR1000 K6 for seven years now and it's been absolutely superb. No real issues, just general wear and tear, and it's still as quick as ever. But my last stint at the track on a Gixer 750 made me realise how much extra weight I was fighting with, not to mention the power I could never really get down (I'm a wuss). It was time to trade. 

A quick road test on a 5,000km only (honest guv), 2013 model GSXR750 with squared-off tyres at Team Moto soon put me off — for the price they wanted anyway. No history or books whatsoever, it was in desperate need of some tyres with a round profile, but they weren't interested in putting any on. The whole experience was disappointing to be fair, and I walked away... until I tried a 2011 CBR600RR Tri-colour, and within fifty yards of the dealership I was in love! Holy F*#k this thing is nimble, light, smooth with a gear shift I could barely feel. Want... now.

A process started, which could only be described as painful. In vehicle salesmanship, as with any type of sales, there should be a bit of effort from the people who are trying so hard to get that, well, sale. They should go that extra mile, make you feel like it's an easy process, put your mind at ease. Not at Team Moto it would seem, going through ten hours of labour would be easier. But it's done now and hopefully remains a distant memory.

Enter the CBR600RR.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

KTM Duke 390 - First Ride Of The Uncrashable.

Less is more, much more.
He's been trying to get me to ride the 390 for ages. I'm a bit busy. 
He said its cornering speed is unreal and fast guys on ZX636R's and GSXR1000's are getting left behind (miles behind). Yeah, but I'm working on the GSX. 
He finally convinced me to ride all of the Yamaha MT range. Ok, now I'm in the mood.

I haven't come back from a ride shaking for a while. That was fun, a hell of a lot of fun. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Suzuki GS550 Petrol Tap Overhaul.

Vacuum taps were once state of the art.
The day you upgraded to a bike with one those new-fangled vacuum taps things was a momentous occasion indeed. No more did you fumble with the petrol tap every time you started or switched off the bike. It was nothing short of a miracle!

But like anything, it can go wrong and some people are put off by trying to fix it. A diaphragm and O-rings are pretty much all there is to it, so this is a quick tutorial on how to fix it. Bearing in mind I've actually taken this tap off the tank four times since painting it, to try and get it to work correctly. It's been a pain, but today I think I nailed it. 

Also, number two carb needle valve could be leaking slightly and allowing it to flood the cylinder when left a couple of nights. Had the petrol tap switched off correctly it wouldn't have been an issue, but if my brother's sister's aunties' nephew wasn't my second cousin I wouldn't be in this palaver anyway. What?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Yamaha MT-07 First Ride.

A wise man once told me...
That fifty brake horsepower was enough for the road. And I agreed with that... to an extent, but just like forty years-old is the new thirty, I think 70BHP could be where the real fun starts. 

With 200BHP on tap now from the big sports bikes, big power is becoming slightly irrelevant — yeah, people were saying the same when 135BHP was a big number. But you can't get the power down without using drive-modes, traction control, wheelie control etc. It's hard work stopping them, turning them and can be very embarrassing when little commuter bikes make short work of them through the twisties.