Thursday, 26 February 2015


Having spent a few days concentrating on the bike and details of the brake problems, I thought now would be a good time to consider more abstract ideas. Why am I riding round the coast? Why now?

The idea came to me a few years ago as you can see from early entries in the blog. I wanted a real journey, with some challenges and complications, but in an achievable context. I saw this as a retirement project which would be done at a pace that allows for engaging with the coast, not just driving fast past its wonders. 

I tried to find information about people who had done the trip, imagining that I would not be alone in having this idea, but despite some dedicated googling all I could come up with was groups who  had ridden between coastal towns by the fastest possible route, this way you can get round the UK in a week or so, but you don't follow the coast.

My plan is to follow the coast as closely as possible, driving on the road which is closest to the sea at all times. This means a lot more miles, and some winding country roads, but it does mean that I will be in touch with the sea as much as possible. I started to plot the route and for an unexplainable reason took a clockwise direction so the sea will always be on my left side. Once into the detail, it became apparent that occasionally the strict rule of "road closest to the sea" has to be tempered with some realism, usually this is when the principle road passes a housing or industrial estate built between it and the sea. The road through the estate then becomes the closest to the sea, but realistically a small detour into it bears no fruit at all. So with a few exceptions of this type, I have been able to plot my route.

Boundaries and frontiers have always fascinated me. What at distance seems like a clear line between one state and another, often in nature and usually in human behaviour and morality, turns out to be a flexible and broad transition area. When you are close to it, where exactly does the sea start and the land end? It depends on the time of day, day of the year, condition of the wind etc etc, even the apparent fixed points such as cliffs and river mouths change over time with erosion and weather. We live on a series of islands but for most of us who do not live by the coast, the sea does not feature actively and consciously in our daily life. The circuit round the coast offers something complete and pure, as close to the edge as it is possible to get with this mode of transport.

Frankly retirement is the answer to why now? Time to plan time to go and a freedom from the constraints of day to day responsibility. I am able to go now knowing that I can take the time I need.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Back on the road

All is well again, I took the opportunity to clean the engine and spray it and the frame with ACF50 while the Tupperware was off. I tested the bike without the plastic, just to make sure the brakes were ok, in riding round the village I realised why I prefer a touring bike to a naked one - in a word comfort. I like the wind and rain protection and am prepared to put up with the inconvenience of the panels to achieve that, I know this isn't everyone's view, but each to his or her own I say.
The ACF50 provided a superb smoke display when I first started the engine.
I have read people saying that performing a servoectomy has transformed the feel of their bike, I wouldn't go that far , but I am now able to ride with confidence that the brakes will work in a predictable hydraulic way, and getting rid of that lump of weight cant do the handiling any harm.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The surgery is complete, now for the recovery

I finished the Servoectomy today by connecting up the electrics.
Its incredible how stressful it can be wielding a stanley knife at a bunch of multi-coloured wires. Added stress arrived when I came to test the renewed connections; at first the brake light was permanently on, I checked and rechecked that I had put the right wires together and that the connections to the relay, no apparent problems. I tested the relay itself, which appeared to be working so when I put it all back together I was relieved to find everything functioning properly.

Tomorrow I shall take the opportunity to give the engine and frame a good clean, while all the plastic is off, then a test run.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Servoectomy Update

The Servoectomy is going well. I'm not rushing it as I have other things on as well.

I got the servo off today and reconnected the brake lines. Bled the brakes with a vacuum bleeder and all seems well, but I haven’t tested them in action obviously.
Look no Servo !!

One thing that had me intrigued for a bit was the front brake connection via the distribution piece. The guide I am following show it screwed back into its original mounting, but turned through 90 degrees or so. I found that if I tried to do this the top pipe from the master cylinder on the handlebars, would be stressed on full lock. I got round it by adding a a short aluminium bracket so that the junction could move forward by about 3 or 4 cm. This seems to have solved the issue.
It is easy to underestimate the degree to which brake fluid trickles! I caught it eventually and took a lot of care to mop and clean up, but the stuff is evil!
Tomorrow its the electrics.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The offending Servo exposed

After a couple of hours careful work the brake servo is exposed. I am going to take it gently from here, need to get brake fluid, and wait for the delivery of a Mityvac vacuum bleed tool. I figured that spending £37 to make the bleed easy is worthwhile considering I am saving £2000!!

I spoke to my insurance company this morning and confirmed that they have no probl with the modification.
Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Ammendment to the end date

I am planning on staying with some friends on the last night of the trip, at the weekend we met them and decided that this would be an excellent time to stay with them for the weekend. This means that the end of my ride will be postponed.  I will arrive near Middlesborough on 21 May, the following day my wife and some other friends will join us for the weekend and we will all leave on Sunday 24 May, the final riding day arriving at the Humber Bridge in the afternoon.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Oh no, the brakes are still playing up

Just returned from a disappointing ride.
All seemed well at first, but the first indication of trouble was when I stopped for a break. On restarting the bike the brake light continued to flash and the general failure light stayed on as before. I stopped and started the engine and all was well. This happened once more. Other than this the ride was uneventful and the brakes worked fine, however nearly home having ridden about 140 miles, the light started flashing out of the blue, stopping and starting the engine made no difference this time, it just carried on, again the servo seemed to be working, I could hear the pump, and the brake efficiency seemed fine.
I have spoken to the dealership and their next offer is replacing the servo pump etc for £1400 plus fitting. 
I now feel inclined to remove the servo and reconnect the brakes.
I have been in touch with a really helpful guy,  Dave, who runs on which he has published a very useful summary of how to remove the servo on an 1150 GS and reconnect everything, you can find it here
All being well I shall be going down that route in the next couple of weeks and will post progress.

Brake issue update

As you might expect the journey to the dealer last Tuesday was a bit scary, not knowing what would happen to the brakes, but in a 13 mile trip on motorway and side roads, not a blink from the brake light.

The initial diagnostics threw up two errors 00431E Front wheel circuit and 00440 Pressure sensor rear wheel circuit.

The technicial had already spoken to me about a possible issue around a couple of little filters in the servo motor, so he cleaned them and then completely re bled the brake system.

Subsequent diagnostics showed no problem, so I drove home, and so far so good. I’m on my way out now to give it a good run, here's hoping.

One positive - no charge from the dealer.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Mystery brake problems

Oh dear, just before Christmas I had the R1150RT serviced, and as I drove away from the BMW main dealership, the brake warning light started flashing. Back to the dealer who put it on the diagnostics and could find no problem. This happened twice, advice was to fit a new battery, which I did and all seemed well. 
Fast forward to two days ago, first ride after the service. Into the Peak District only to find the brake warning light flashing after about 10 miles. Minor panic, but brakes appear to be working, so I stopped at the top of Holme Moss. On restarting the light was fine, so I continued, but the same thing happened twice more.
I am now sitting in the dealership looking enviously at new shiny metal. While my veteran is being probed and prodded to see what might be causing the light to flash. With the battery theory demolished we are now lookin at a filter on the servo pump and re bleeding the brakes. Fingers, and other things crossed.
Apparently the servo system is notoriously shaky on these bikes. Internet research has raised the possibility of removing the servo altogether and riding with a traditional braking system. If the worst happens this would be a better solution than £1500 for a new servo!

Sunday, 1 February 2015