Bikes I've Owned

Okay looking at some of these bikes I'm clearly not a proud person but they all served a purpose at the time and some would say my choices have only got worse as time has passed by (that's what brothers are for I guess!)

BMW R1250RT LE

BMW R1250RT LE

Expensive and the last one did not last well but I find it's such a nice bike to ride so my next choice of bike was another RT. I partially justified it with the inclusive 3 year warranty and european breakdown cover - a lot of use that has done me since we've spent the last 12 months unable to go anywhere!

I have managed a long weekend in Wales with a group - my brothers didn't notice the switch from the Black RT to this one! A European tour with my wife in 2019. And during a brief respite in lockdown a tour of North Wales, Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors, Penines and Peak District. Unfortunately the trips to Romania and the Picos de Europa were both cancelled due to Covid-19!

Since this time BMW have announced an update to a tablet instead of a dash, radar cruise control and a few other tweaks - to be honest it's only the LED lights I would like. If I'm honest, I think I prefered the suspension and engine on the older R1200RT, if only it had this ones gearbox! It is strange to think that I'm just not interested in the next RT - suddenly options are opening up... There are however quite some miles of enjoyment to be had with this bike yet - I have promised my wife a return to Norway, I just hope when lock down ends we may have settled the friction caused by BREXIT because touring used to be such a pleasure!

BMW R1200RT LE

BMW R1200RT LE

Whilst I was participating in the European Tour in 2014 on the Suzuki I was identifying issues that, if solved, would make the tour a more pleasant experience. Okay so actually I was thinking of the justifications for wanting a new bike!

So after snaping my brothers spanner trying to tighten the chain on the Suzuki, the next bike would be shaft drive. The constant panic & stress due to my bike having the shortest range (we had a Triumph Tiger 800, Honda CB600 (?) and a Honda Pan European) and on several occaisions going well beyond the 150 miles I was confident of getting from one tank full. So range was another factor. Also I had somewhat over loaded the bike causing the suspension to break shortly after returning home, so carrying capacity would get some attention.

I thought the sensible option at the time was the BMW F800GT so I test rode one - I didn't think it was such a big advance on the Suzuki and could imagine I would be eager to upgrade again in 12-18 months and to be fair this was all fantasy as I didn't see how I was going to be able to pay for a change of bike anyway. So my dream bike (I talked non-stop about it whist on tour) was the R1200RT. I booked a test ride, strictly to eliminate it from my short list because it would be too big, heavy and awkward in traffic. On the ourney to Bristol on the day of the test ride, my car gave me an ice warning - not a good start. I arrived, signed the paperwork despite being told that there was a voluntary excess of £1000 - that would put paid to any upgrade! I eased the bike out of the forcourt with nerves jangling. I decided rather than negociating the city I'd start by travelling south on the slip road - nice and steady with a straight road allowing me to familiarise myself with the bike. I got on the slip road and gave a small twist of the throttle and found myself overtaking the motorway traffic and the speedo rapidly approaching a 3 figure speed... Rolling off I joined the traffic.

Well I didn't eliminate the bike from my short list, my wife bought me one for my 2015 Christmas present (there were a few low mileage specced up examples around because of the suspension recall). I then started racking up the miles. I lovingly washed that bike after every journey. We did Europe, Norway, Scotland, Wales, daily commutes. My wife & I visited Norway in 2017 covering 3,645 miles and an average over that distance of 63.3mpg. Alas in 2019 I traded the bike in as it was going to need some expensive work done and despite all the careful washing and ACF50 treatment the bike was corroding badly in places.

Suzuki GSF600 "Bandit"

Suzuki GSF600 (Bandit)

Fast forward to 2007, I had just started a working for a company in Cardiff, crossing the bridge each day was costing me £4.40 in a car and despite trying public transport (great for the first week before it all went to hell) I decided the only sensible" choice was to go by bike. If only I'd passed my test all those years ago when the bar was so low! I booked my test in November 2007, bought the Suzuki to "practice" slow speed maneuvers on and passed first time. My intention was to build up confidence over the next few months and start riding to work in the spring. I rode the 600cc, 80 bhp Suzuki once on the open roads and was hooked. My baptism of fire was riding through the winter. The bike had a huge amount of power from so small a number of ccs but its deliver was quite peaky: keep the rev below 6000rpm and it was docile as you could want (in the winter). I remember getting to the M48 in the first dry day in March the following year and I decided to come off the roundabout and keeping it in 2nd gear until I hit the redline (12,000rpm). Boy that engine was good!

For everything that I liked aout the bike Suzuki had made a faux pas when they "designed" the exhaust. The front pipes exited the cylinders and swooped down to a low point where they met the tail section of the exhaust which then swept back up. At the lowest point was the only, otherwise stainless construction, section of the exhaust made with mild steel. This rusts whilst you watch. I replaced the whole system with a hindle stainless exhaust system - this was pretty much a straight through system that sounded fantastic, though in keeping with my Honda H100, sensible Steve, herritage was primarily fitted as a longevity measure!

In 2014 I did my first, proper, motorbike tour on this bike: UK -> channel tunnel, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain, UK - 8 days (one on a ferry) and over 3000 miles later I was hooked.

On the first week back in the UK I rode to work and the suspension collapsed on me - 5 miles earlier or later could have been game over! I fixed it but had already decided that for my next tour (THERE WOULD BE MORE!) I wanted something where I wasn't the first person in the party to be crying out for a petrol station!

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Honda H100

So this was my second bike... Almost seems like I had some brand loyalys growing here... I remember the first ride I had on her, about a mile from home an I was sat waiting to turn right in the road towards brean down, the break in the traffic arrived and I realise that bikes were not controlled by an on/off switch of a throttle - I slammed open the throttle to make it across the road on the 90 degree turn, the front went light, I managed 45 degrees at best and found myself in a pub car park... I can't find the specs on the internet BUT I gues I'd gone from the 3bhp MTX to probably 5 or 6bhp. This monster could manage 34mpg, it was a 2 stroke masterpiece. Funnily enough I remember getting it shipped up (in a van) to my polytechnic (now a university) in Preston and using it on a daily basis in 1989. I recall replacing the rubber bits in the cush drive inside the rear wheel but don't remember ever having to replace those "wooden" tyres!

This was my last bike that I have been pulled over by the "rozzers" (police) as I knowingly overtook their transit van in Preston - it was doing 27mph in a 30 limit and stupidly I over took maxxing out at 32mph. I was let off with a cuation as during the "interview" a lad in a Ford Escort RS Turbo, induction roar intact, zipped past at 60+ mph and distracted the policemen away from me.

I rode this bike, avoiding motorways since I still hadn't passed my test, to an interview in Plymouth from Preston then deposited the bike in Wetson-super-Mare (via Plymouth for an interview where my headache caused by a loose fitting helmet that had my skull bouncing off the sides all the way) and picked up my first car, a trip of 450 miles over 2 days. I still wore a second hand, ill fitting, helmet jeans and a reguar jacket. My first Iron But tour, amazing how this could now be achieved with a single tank re-fill after 320miles!

The bike was "shipped" in a van to Hull as I started my post graduate career there but the writing was on the wall when, having chatted with friends, in the city centre I tried to look cool kick starting the bike only to have the sound of the 2 stroke motor starting being accompanied by the sound of 3/4 of the kick start lever sounding metalic as it snapped and rolled off down the tartmac - I pretended that it wasn't mine and hoped I wouldn't have to start it again at any traffic lights on the way home.

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Honda MTX 50

The "cool" kids in their last year of secondary school got Suzuki DT50s and Yamaha ER50s, and there were various wooded areas where they would go to develop their riding prowess (it also allowed them to hide from the girls on scooters that often had a couple of miles an hour advantage on the "boys bikes"). This was an age of restricted bikes ridden on a permenant provisional licence, no test required.

My bike was a hand me down, I didn't really buy into the whole bike culture but it gave me a freedom to get about without begging for lifts. When I took the MTX on I had a car driving licence which allowed me to ride a 50cc bike with no L plates and upto a 125cc with plates. Removing the L plate felt cool but resulted in every other journey being pulled over by the police for checks!

When I took the bike on from my older brother it came with an ill fitting helmet and I rode around wearing jeans and a regular jacket - basically less protection than I would wear on a bicycle these days! I asked my brother what the bike was like for travelling any distance his reply was that he'd ridden it all the way to Cheddar once, a round trip of 37 miles. I started my touring pretentions by riding it all the way to RNAS Yeovilton to watch the planes - a round trip of 67 miles, mostly accomplished at 30mph with the occaisional "opening her up" and exploring the dizzying heights of 35mph. Of course I made frequent stops to check maps since this was before the days of GPS, SatNavs, mobile phones an the like. I wonder what I'd have done if I'd got a puncture or experienced my first breakdown?