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Oooh That's Better

Blog Date - 23 April 2017

After last weekend's debacle (One Of Those Weekends) I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear this weekend was a much more successful event.

In glorious sunshine I depart my home to meet Sharon at Millenium Motorcycles in St Helens. I have instructed her worshipful highness to use her Keeway 125 as she keeps on enjoying the Kwakker 250 far too much these days and poor old "Zen" is in need of a few miles to charge the battery and keep everything turning. As I depart I receive a message informing me she is running late due to the pain in her ribs. Stuff it, I'll take a more interesting route then.

At Millenium we peruse the shiny bikes. We both like the Hanway 125 Scrambler and Sharon's rather taken with another Kwakker, this time the new Z650. Of course it will be too big for the hobbit but then she sits upon it, heaves it up off the side stand and...even with her stubby little legs her feet reach the floor! She's not flat foot but with a lowering kit I reckon she could be. Fortunately she does not have enough money to buy one but I can already see where this will lead to eventually. 

Sharon sits on Kawasaki's new Z650 and she can reach the floor. Big smile"Sharon sweetie, will you be so kind as to wait for me at the next junction?" Oh how embarrassing.

In the cafe purely by coincidence we bump into a handful of Warrington Motorcycle Club's members. It seems not only is the hobbit tall enough to ride 650s she's now a minor celebrity due to her video on putting motorcycles onto the main stand (Putting A Motorcycle Onto The Centre Stand). As we're eating our dinner we're also joined by the equally infamous Stephen Latchford (Street Triple RX Salvage (Cat C)). He'll be collecting a brand new Striple 765 RS next week but today he's with our friend Martin who's collecting his brand new V-Strom 1000 today. 

All these shiny new motorcycles! Sorry Ian Soady. I do hope my friends and acquaintances will allow me to ride their new toys so I review them. That can be a problem though, what if I don't like the bike and I have to say bad things about it? Oh heck.

Sunday brings forth sunshine once more although the air is cooler today. In my opinion this is ideal riding weather, dry and pleasant without being hot, clammy, sticky and draining. Once her lazyness has woken up for the 5th time she drags herself out of bed and her motorcycle out of the shed and we head off back to North Wales. This time we're hoping that neither of us falls ill. 

You think you know an area because you've been along the main roads many times and even taken in a few side roads. Then you take the B5105 out of Ruthin and you realise you've not even skimmed the area let alone explored it fully. This quiet road leads us through fresh green countryside fields complete with little fluffy lambs and wobbly brown calves, it actually seems just a little too perfect like The Darling Buds Of May. All along our route there are further side roads and tracks marked "Not suitable for large vehicles" which means we shall have to return again, there's much more to explore.

Hills and fields of the Welsh scenery along the B5105This is the main road, I wonder what's to be found down the narrow lanes?

We clip the edge of Cerrigydrudion and catch the B4501 north where upon I spy a sign "Cronfa Alwen Reservoir" and a few parked cars in the distance. I take the turning only to realise we're no longer on tarmac but dusty compacted gravel. The road is in good order, the dry weather means there's no mud filled potholes and my not really but pretending to be off road CB500X is quite happy. I'm not sure how Madam Adventure On Anybike will be feeling though. I pull up and ask, I receive a "carry on it's OK, I think" kind of reply.

Hills, trees, water and blue skies at Alwen Reservoir in North WalesAlwen Reservoir is worth the little off road excursion.

Alwen Reservoir's signs actively encourage you to walk and cycle around with maps and points of interest. The tracks are good and the 14 mile loop around this and Llyn Brenig reservoir look like an ideal afternoon's pedalling in any weather. There are signs making it clear that these tracks are not for motorcycling which is fair enough. We stick to the prescribed route for vehicles and Sharon takes the dust track on once more with style and ease. That Z250SL has seen more off road than many a Land Rover.

Sharon's Kwakker will be needing knobblies soon.

The B4501 is another charming route to Bylchau. The B5428 to Henllan is narrow with high hedges and reminds me of Cornwall. Trefnant sounds familiar and yet it brings forth no recollections at all and finally St Asaph claims to be a city although it appears to be a village. In the glorious bright sun it all looks perfect and so vibrant and verdant, is this a trick of the conditions? I make a note to return when it is grey, wet and windy then see how I feel. We park up and pop into a cafe for a bite to eat and a hot cup of tea before cracking on for home.

This has been such a marked contrast to last weekend and I think we needed it. Oddly enough I'm sort of hoping next weekend will be grey, wet and windy as Sharon is in surgery on Friday and will be recovering over the weekend. Maybe she'll be fit enough to pillion but after a general anaesthetic she'll certainly not be riding. Now don't you lot start giving her sympathy, she'll only like it and that will never do. 

Sharon stands beside the bikes and the tourist signs at Alwen Reservoir
I'll not be having you 'orrible lot being nice to her.

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Reader's Comments

Louisa said :-
Oh dear, I've only been riding for 2 months and already dreaming about my next bike!(up to 700cc). I like the Kawasaki bikes too. They seem to have a diverse range, I love the look of them and the prices aren't too expensive! I'm planning to go to a dealer next week to pester and have a nosy around! Why not? :)
04/05/2017 16:29:09 UTC
Borsuk said :-
I'm with you on that Louisa. Haven't even booked my DAS course yet but already got my eyes on my next bike.
04/05/2017 22:58:32 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
So let me get this straight Louisa - you've been terrified of riding and slowly, sensibly and gradually building your confidence step by gentle step. And now all of a sudden you're planning your upgrade to a big beast of a bike! Steady on woman, calm down.

As for you Borsuk - I despair.
05/05/2017 19:46:25 UTC
Borsuk said :-
I am not as brave as Louisa is Ren. I have my sights set on a nice, straightforward 400 cc retro type of bike. Big enough to cruise at motorway speeds and small enough to explore the nooks and crannies without needing to have a body builders physique.
Of course for serious exploring I will still have the 125.
06/05/2017 00:55:47 UTC
Ren said :-
Now which 400 are you considering Borsuk? There's not many 400s out there which is a shame because it is a great compromise capacity.
06/05/2017 06:17:42 UTC
Borsuk said :-
I really like the Yamaha SR400. Good looks and can cruise at motorway speeds with power to spare and can give decent milage when tooling around country lanes. Unfortunately it would be a second hand one which is not my preference. Alternatives are the Mash Roadstar 400, aka the Genko Roadstar 500. They are very similar to the Yamaha but are Euro 4 compliant so are still available new. I like the scrambler versions of these as well but feel that they wouldn't survive any prolonged offroad usage. I was thinking of one for here in Spain, they sell them locally as well as in the UK. for exploring the dirt tracks of the Contraviesa but sticking with the quad might be a better idea.
Other options would be the Kawasaki W800, same power as the SR but heavier which isn't a selling point.
I have yet to sit on any of these yet so they are still only dreams. I am back in the UK this week for a few days so I will have a look around and see what's what. Mark up all the dealers on the satnav and do a grand tour.
08/05/2017 07:23:49 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
It's a real shame the SR400 is no longer available as it's a lovely thing and as you point out it's in a sweet spot regarding power, size and weight etc. I know Yamaha tried to keep it as original as possible but I'm sure a few tweaks might see it through the emissions.

I don't know much about the Mash but a quick internet search tells me it's based on the old XBR500 motor. I imagine it would be very similar in feel to the SR400.

I'm sure none of the present batch of scramblers or adventure motorcycles are as sturdy as a real off road bike would be. If you're riding farm tracks and dusty trails I'm sure it would be fine - it's when you get involved with big rocks, gnarly jumps and muddy bogs that you need a proper off roader.
08/05/2017 09:34:06 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I test rode a Mash a couple of years ago and quite liked it. However, I was put off by what I expected to be dramatic depreciation and thought I'd wait for their early owners to get rid of them. Oddly, I haven't seen any used ones for sale so either nobody has bought one (although I do know of one person who did and liked it) or everybody loves them and is keeping them for ever.

As Ren says, the engine is essentially a Chinese copy of the standard Honda RFV dry sump single as fitted to Dominator, XBR500 and the Japanese only (AFAIK) XBR400.

Borsuk: why are you so against buying a used bike? I'd never buy a new one for reasons I've explained here before.
08/05/2017 11:11:58 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Hi Ian.
I don't like used ones as I don't want to fix someone elses bodge jobs. I have had problems with new cars and new ships in my time but they were usually straight forward to repair, warranty jobs mostly. Once the kit was older and outof the warranty period I got the parts required and fitted them. Of the second hand cars and ships in my life you find where bits have been bodged together which were never compatible but what the heck let's weld them up and see if it works. Wrong type of bolts fitted that stripped the threads and meant a 10 minute job turned into a rebuild of the affected area then retap the bolt holes. Engines that had more loose white metal in the sump than oil when you went to change the oil. When I buy from new I know that everything will fit as it is supposed to, no-one has run it in with the engine in the red the whole 6 months they had the bike. Low milage doesn't mean it hasnt been thrashed for every mile and not every owner is as conscientious at maintenance as yourself and Ren. I have seen brand new multimillion pound pieces of kit fail to operate because an o-ring has failed or a backup battery was flat or valve was passing but never because someone in the factory has decided that supergluing two fanbelts together is the same as fitting the correct timing belt. If the engine explodes after 2 months then the dealer fixes it, I know this happens with new equipment, it's one of those things, whether it is a cheap Chinese bike or a $500,000 high pressure valve shit happens. This bike will have only one owner, I don't trade in every few years for the latest model, the next owner will be eit!herß a scrappy or it will be sold for parts so if I do a bodge on it then it will be me who gets bitten in the bum by it, not some poor sod 2 years down the road. I have no problems doing my maintenance myself but I am not into restoring things. The bike is a tool to an end so I will look after it as I believe in keeping my tools in good condition but I don't want to have to fix someone elses bodges.
Apologies for the rant. :-)

08/05/2017 15:39:50 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I'm sort of half way in between. If like Ian you're buying a motorcycle to renovate and for the pleasure of working on then of course part of the fun is sorting out other owner's bodges, hacks and cover-ups. But if like me your bike is your transport and it needs to get you to work and back regularly and reliably, then other people's bodges and hacks might mean you're late for work.

Ideally I think used bikes with 2-4 thousand miles on are the best bet. Hopefully the previous owner won't have been inside any part of the bike but they've taken the hit on the initial depreciation. You're quite right Borsuk to point out you don't know how the bike has been run in though. There's always that element of a gamble with a used motorcycle even if it has very little mileage.
09/05/2017 09:37:37 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
As you've said Alan, a new machine doesn't guarantee peace of mind. With a year old machine at least you know it goes..... And although it may be the dealer's responsibility to fix anything there are many tales of their incompetence.

If I was in the market for anything "modern" I'd be looking at something a year old with 5,000 miles or so on the clock. I'd look carefully at things like corrosion on hard to reach places, the state of the chain and whether it had obviously been lubricated, check on obvious things like signs of scuffs on lever ends, fork bottoms, silencer etc (or suspiciously new and shiny parts). Clearly I don't follow my own advice!

The newest bike I've had was the 955i Tiger which I bought at a year old, 3,000 miles up and a saving of around £3,000 over the new price. It served me well for 8 years till I decided it was too big & heavy for my needs.

My ideal situation is rather what I have - a modern (if 24 years old is considered modern) bike to just jump on and ride, and a "classic" (whatever that means) to explore and restore.

But everyone's needs and wants are different.
09/05/2017 14:51:19 UTC

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