Friday, 27 March 2015

Its a new bike!

Yes the last post is a couple of pictures of my new steed. Its a 2012 Triumph Trophy 1200ES. I take delivery towards the end of next week, when it will be fully fitted with top box and tank bag, in addition to the kit that its got already, including a TomTom satnav, heated seat (mmmmm) and heated grips - essential.

The basic spec. of the Trophy is  very good, it has basically been benchmarked against the BMW R1200RT at the design stage.

Although its a bit older than I might have ideally wanted, this one has just over 3000 miles on the clock, so its really only just run in.

The idea of changing my bike has sort of crept up on me over the last few months. I guess it really started with the onset of the brake problems. The R1150RT is 12 years old and has done 46000 miles, not a lot perhaps, but looking to the future, I expect to have at least another 10 years biking in me, so if I keep it, the bike will be 22 years old and I am not really into maintaining something that old except as a special project. If I replace the BMW now, a new bike will be about 12/13 years old in ten years time, so it does seem to make sense to do it now.

Which brings us to the details, if now, then why not before the round UK trip, which is certainly the longest single trip I have planned, rather than after it?

The scene is set therefore for some research and testing.

I have to admit that I started the investigation with a strong bias towards BMW. I like my R1150RT and have got used to its foibles, the agricultural gearbox is an old friend, the vibration from the massive opposed twin cylinders is managed via a good seat and some extra fleece to sit on, and if you are not used to it, you don't notice the absence of electronic toys. I have lowered the footrests and fitted a larger than standard screen, as well as my trusty Garmin Zumo 550 which has seen me safe on many trips. I expected therefore to be looking at the R1200RT as a natural successor.

As I started to read reviews in magazines and online, it became apparent that the R1200RT is indeed the benchmark for touring bikes, but surprisingly I learned that it was not as far ahead of the competition as I had expected, time after time I came across commentators who put the Triumph Trophy up there as a real competitor, which in some respects overtook the BMW. The two seemed to lead the pack with a few others, Moto Guzzi Norge,  Yamaha FJR1300 , Kawasaki GTR1400 , Honda Pan European, trailing considerably. I left alone the big Harleys and Indians, as well as the armchair which is the Goldwing.

Setting my sights on the top then I headed off to Rainbow Motorcycles in Rotherham for a morning with a BMW R1200RT. Its a great bike but I was surprised that I wasn't wowed. I drove a 2012 model with about 9000 miles on the clock, the first thing that struck me was that the seat was uncomfortably low, lower than my R1150RT, and this meant that the angle of attack for my left foot on the gear lever was all wrong, resulting in the occasional missed change. I am tall, 6 - 4 so I accept I am at the top of the scale, but this is a big touring bike. The gearbox itself was not as clunky as mine, but still had a massive "clunk" factor. The instruments were clear and the bike was light and easy to handle. There is an annoying headlamp flasher switch which protrudes over the left handgrip, this means that I accidentally turned the light to main beam several times, just by shifting the position of my hand on the grip. I loved the heated seat, it was a cold day in the Peak District and this with the heated grips meant I was cosy. My verdict - a good bike, but not for me.

Next stop Pidcocks Triumph in Long Eaton. After the disappointment of the BMW I was ready for anything. As soon as I sat on the Triumph it felt good, the seat is firm, but wide and comfortable, the sound of the 1200 triple is firm and eager, and the selection of first gear as smooth as the first lick of a homemade ice cream. It was then that I realised how deep my habituation to poor gearchanging was. There were absolutely no clunks or crunches, the bike pulled away with ease and I settled in for a great ride.

In the end there were three things that made me decide on the Triumph over the BMW, they are broadly matched on equipment, and I don't have a desire to ride the fastest bike around so that's not a particular issue:

  • Riding position has to be right, I plan to spend many hours on this bike so its no good compromising, and the Triumph has it by a long way for me.
  • Smooth power makes riding easy and predictable. The Triumph doesn't vibrate in the way the BMW does, and the smoothness of the gear change is a real revelation.
  • Cost has to be taken into account. I don't look for the cheapest at the cost of quality, but neither do I think it makes sense to pay over the odds without seeing a real benefit. I have not been able to identify any element of the triumph which is inferior to the BMW, there are no reported quality issues that I have seen reported, so why pay any more.
So here I am waiting for next week to get my hands on the new beast and get some miles under my belt before the Great Ride.

One thing I will be exploring is the new satnav. I like the one I have, I am used to the garmin way of doing things, and I have planned my whole route using Garmin's Basecamp software. It looks as if I will be able to convert this to upload onto the TomTom, I hope so or I shall get a bit grumpy!! I shall also have to change the description of this blog - Goodbye Berlin, Germany, Hello Hinkley, England. (or Chonburi, Thailand !!)

What is this??

More later.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Testing a tracking app

I have a Satnav on my bike, its a Garmin Zumo 550, and I am very satisfied with it, but it is not possible to extract daily information about the route travelled, as distinct from the planned route, and publish it online. To do this involves plugging the Zumo into a PC or laptop and saving the route as a .gpx file. Even then I'm not sure how easy it is to create an online picture.
There are a number of smartphone apps designed for runners, walkers and cyclists which offer a tracking function. I use Mapmywalk and its stablemate mapmyride, and find them very good. just touch the screen when you start and when you finish and the inbuilt gps does the rest. The major problem is that the gps eats batteries, so a walk or ride that takes more than 6 or 7 hours won't be fully recorded (I use an iphone 5, others may be better).
I have done some testing and as far as I can see the following link should bring you to a test run I did in the car. please let me know if the link doesn't work.

I solved the battery problem by rigging up a charge cable from the power point on my bike, so I should be able to record daily routes effectively. I will try it live, and test the process of posting from the phone, which is not as easy as doing it on the computer.

Bike riding is off the agenda for a few days as my back is playing up!!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Final Route

Here is the screen print of the final route. Separate colours for each day. I think its complete now and we are ready to go.
When I have completed the trip I plan to upload the GPS routes onto Best Biking Roads hopefully with some photos - maybe using the Selfie Stick!

Friday, 13 March 2015

I have bought a selfie stick!

Ok, it's embarrassing, and there is a serious risk that my family will disown me, but I have to come clean. I have bought a selfie stick. To be precise its a
LEAPCAM(TM) New Design 2 In 1 Professional Monopod

Which sounds altogether more classy dosnt it.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Day on the Moors

Beautiful clear sunny day so it's time to head for the hills. I set the satnav for Helmsley and find that even the A1 is clear and fast. The view from Sutton Bank between Thirsk and Helmsley is awesome. no safe place to stop for photos unfortunately.
In Helmsley I balk at paying to leave my bike on the market square. There are a few other bikers around but not like a weekend. Instead I refuel and head North into the moors towards Cockayne. Wonderful views narrow roads and no traffic, bliss. 
On the tops I come across heather burning. This controlled system is designed to renovate the heather and provide good nesting for the game birds. Riding alongside the flames and smoke I was reminded of the 1989 advert for the Peugeot 405 with the car driving through flaming sugar plantation, to the soundtrack of take my breath away 

After a brief chat with some friends --

It was back to Helmsley for the best Steak and Ale pie ever from Hunters
I'm off now for a look round the walled garden, then home.
Unfortunately the walled garden isn't open till April!
Instead I took the road to Stokesley. A well known biker  route . Last time I was here was a couple of years ago walking the Coast to Coast walk. This crosses the road around Clay Bank and I remember well arriving here exhausted after the longest day of the walk, about 25 Miles.. Today is less exhausting but just as beautiful. I also know from that visit just how annoyed the locals get about motorbikes on this road. Sorry guys!!
In the picture taken at Claybank you can just see the truncated pyramid of Roseberry Topping on the horizon.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Back via Bridlington

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!!!
Lesson 1 for today. Turn on the heated hand grips before your hands get cold. They are effective in maintaining warmth, but no good when fingers are already numb.

Ride to Scarborough

The first real ride after the servoectomy is proving uneventful, if somewhat cold, nothing that a hot pot of tea in Princess Cafe by the harbour won't cure!

A couple of annoyances on the way; I am continually amazed at the volume of litter beside the road. I assume people just chick it from cars, this time of year it's clearly visible and dangerous to wildlife. For goodness sake just take it home!! 
People using phones while driving, I don't just mean talking, which is bad enough, but looking at the screen, texting , playing games I don't know, but it's irresponsible. I guess on a bike you can see what people in cars are doing. On a 50mph section of the M1 I drew level with an idiot in an Audi, he had his phone in his hand on the steering wheel, looking at the screen. I sounded my horn and pointed at the phone, couldn't see the look on his face but I hoe he was embarrassed. I spoilt my position somewhat by gesturing to Jim in a way that suggested I thought he was an onanist. Thinking this through I came to the conclusion that playing straight in future may be more effective. How many motorists know enough about motorbikes to know that the police no longer use R1150RTs?