Last minute additions

Isabelle heads off to Europe in a couple of days on the bike and plans to get a duplicate Zumo 550 GPS to make life easy fell through.  Seems electronics companies that buy up ‘close out’ stock don’t actually like selling it, or to be more precise confirming when they will deliver.

SO, back to the drawing board to select the original unit we looked at some time ago.  As yet unproven  we’ve decided to go for the Garmin Montana 600 with the bundled 1:50K UK OS mapping.  It looks like the real deal for green laning and outdoor stuff around Europe, but until we get it on the bike with the Navigator software installed for routing, time will have to tell.

As its not a bike specific model, of course the list of stuff needed to fit it adds somewhat to the cost, but mountings from RAM should make installing on the F800 a doddle.

The unit, including all the mountings is being supplied by a great team of guys at   Adventure Spec.  One email, one call, order made and its on a carrier to us for tomorrow.  Easy-peasy and nice folk to deal with too.

Will try and post up a fitting report tomorrow assuming all goes well.


Spain, December 2011 part I

A trip to Southern Spain to escape the winter blues and Christmas mass hysteria had been on the cards for some time.  Winter 10 saw Iz and I ride down to Aragon for what we’d hoped would be warm days and lots of gravel.  Well, we got the gravel, but shivered our way through the trip both on the bikes and in the apartment we rented.

No such worries this year, with a destination a LOT further south and a massive high pressure sitting over much of Spain. (not to mention some rather furry bar muffs)

We set off on a day’s ride through England to Portsmouth and enjoyed glorious weather.  Crisp blue skies, above zero temps and no traffic.  Sticking to the Motorways never inspires much biking enjoyment, but the UK weather is so fickle, it’s easier to take the simple option than end up stuck and miss the escape window of the ferry.

We made a quick stop at cousins for what is fast becoming a pattern of chat and Domino’s pizza before heading to the port for the night boat.

Double strapping of the bikes by the loading crew did raise an eyebrow about the sea state!  It actually wasn’t that bad, but it was certainly windy with a crashing steep sea!

We arrived in Bilbao before dawn to a wet drizzle and soaking roads.  I’ve had concerns about the Metzeler Tourance EXP’s currently fitted to the GS and it seems I was proved right.  From the moment we hit the road (and at a number of points through the trip) they offered little confidence.  Numb and unresponsive with little grip in anything but the dry I can’t wait to tear them off the bike and find something else.

Once clear of the hills around the coast, with the sun up the roads dried and we made great progress to Zaragoza and then turned south over the mountains to Teruel.  We enjoyed huge clear blue skies and low temps all the way down.  The wind slammed us for about a hundred miles south of Zaragoza, but I suppose the endless wind farms should have given us a clue as to what we should expect!

We landed in Teruel to stay at the fabulous Parador just 10 mins outside the town.  On the hill overlooking the region and the old town and right by the route we were on.

In time for what we thought was a late lunch we headed into town to be first in the restaurant.  Over an incredible menu del dia with chorizo and potato soup, lamb cutlets and the ever present patatas bravas, we adjusted our clocks to account for Spanish meal times and then had a good look round the city.

Well worth a look, but I’d say no more than a half day mooching would see the old town covered.









A bit of a chilly start to Christmas day at minus 7!!

Thankfully there was no water about at all or we’d have been checking back into the hotel. The 1200 took a bit of starting despite the brand new super duty battery I’d fitted a few weeks ago.  I doubt the tired standard BMW one would have coped that morning.

The road south from Teruel is stunning.  Bends, sweepers, views, everything.  To do this on an early summer morning would rank as one of the best I think.  So much so, we barely stopped to take pics.

All too soon we were in the flat lands near Murcia and headed into concrete hell of the coastal towns.  Our family stop over at Playa Flamenca was a welcome break, but isn’t conducive motorcycling!!  Nice to see the family for a couple of days as they settle into a new house, but we were soon ready to ride again.

More to come shortly.

Southern Spain Winter 2011

Today’s post is brought to you by: itchy feet want to get out on the  So itchy was I, I’ve finished the routing for our trip south to Mercia coming up soon.

Not too many years ago, I’d have been straining to jump in the car about now heading out to the alps.  Iz really isn’t a skier and the guys I regularly skied with are off in North Africa this winter…so a bit ‘buddyless’ on that front.  Never mind.  A bit of a ride out to Southern Spain will shake off them urges for snow.

Whist not perhaps the most exciting of routes, it’s as low altitude as I think we can achieve whilst not just becoming a motorway hack.  I think day one from Bilbao to Teruel will be a bit of a bind but from experience the views are nice, however our hotel booking at the Parador that night should make up for it.

Day two will be a little more interesting with some low level passes, and a final hour along the gravel into our end destination.

Firstly though we will have to get from the north down to Portsmouth….current weather looks set to improve slightly.  At least the wind is set to drop and temps to stay up around 7-8 degrees.

I’m looking forward to a couple of nights on the Ferry on the way out.  It will be nice to just chill out with a book and a bottle of wine, again all a bit weather depending though!

More to come on the write up once we are moving and can get t’internet access.

New Fuel Tank Arrives

A rather large box arrived at the house this morning from Adventure Spec.  It contained the Safari 12-litre add-on tank for the G450x.   This tank supplements the under seat primary tank fitted to the bike as standard.

The stock tank is only 8 litres, giving less than 80 miles with a conservative throttle.  The new tank when fitted will give me a circa 200 mile range, enough for my needs.

There are alternate options for fitting large capacity tanks to the G450x.  Essentially either wrapping around the stock tank as an add-on or replacing it entirely.  Both add weight to the already known weak area of the rear subframe on the bike.  Never really designed to take loads other than an enduro rider, the subframe was built to be light, not strong! There is an option to junk the whole rear end in favour of a beefier integrated subframe/tank with higher capacity, but the costs would spiral!  I will also need to carry some kit with me on extended trails, which will be saddle bag mounted to the subframe, so keeping the additional fuel weight away from this area will assist.

Using this front tank has some drawbacks.  Fuel heating (it’s mounted directly in the airflow from the radiator) isn’t ideal and can in some cases create vapour lock, however, as this tank is feeding the primary tank, not direct to fuel pump, I don’t think it will be an issue.

Shifting weight high and forward isn’t ideal in critical or high stress racing conditions.  Either way, the bike is still whippet light, so I will cope.

The contents of the kit covers everything require to fit the tank.  Only thing I will add is a dry break connection in the line to allow me to quickly remove the unit for engine work, without disturbing fuel line connections elsewhere.

I’ll be fitting this in the New year and will post up pics and a report on how it goes.  I’ll be doing the valve clearances, replacing the battery and rewiring the power source for the GPS at the same time, so it’ll be a weekends worth of messing.  I hope it warms up a bit!

New Motorcycle Kit. Klim Badlands Suit.

I finally received my new Klim Badlands kit from Adventure spec.

I decided on this kit back in April whilst trying on the Klim Adventure Rally suit, which in its self is way to high spec for the type of riding we do.

Ordering from a sample/pics and spec was a bit daunting considering the price but having spent a lot of time looking for the right kit and with some experience of technical clothing through a career in Outdoor and Mountain equipment sales I felt pretty confident.

The overriding decision to go for this brand was their decision to use a mountain spec laminate waterproof system.  This offers the best opportunity to keep not only the wearer dry, but to reduce the amount of water the outer fabric retains during prolonged wet use.  Other products use an internal second lining that presents the waterproof barrier.  Whilst a more cost-effective (read simpler) method of keeping the wearer dry, by not bonding the membrane to the exposed shell of the garment prolonged use will allow the outer to become saturated.  This Increases weight, reduces breathability and worse of all the wind chill of wearing a soaked jacket on a motorcycle are all less than desirable.

A Gore Pro-shell fabric seems to be the best option in my view to prevent all of the above issues.  The pay off is the increased complexity in producing the jacket and therefore the cost.  Gore-tex is not the only quality waterproof membrane technology out there and many exceed their standards.  However, it is the brand of choice for many manufacturers, especially those in the adventure travel segment.

Having worn the new suit for all of an hour today, it’s a bit soon to say how it’ll be in extended use.  That said, the fit is excellent as are the adjustments available to you.  On bike its comfortable, although walking about its pretty heavy, no worse than other comparable adventure travel suits considering the level of CE spec protection inside.

Speaking of armour, I need to spend some time adjusting the internal position of the pads as they have loads of placement options.  I really like the sternum pads, never seen these integrated into textiles before.  Also the back protector is built into a large elasticated waist strap that stabilises the unit and also supports the jacket.  Excellent design.

I’ll report back as time goes on, especially after our impending Spanish trip this winter!!

(specs and stuff here)