Lifetime Ambition

I have had an ambition for as long as I have ever seen a motorcycle, but have never got the chance to actually afford it or even go to, the Isle of Man TT Races.


But next year, 2019, that will change, God willing.

I have just booked in the last few days, my ferry ticket, for the practice week dated from May 23rd to the 28th, to get 5 nights in a camp site – that should be interesting for that length of time – as the TT races begin and everything goes mental on that iconic island.

I had just finished watching Henry Cole go round there on his Norton when I decided that is it, enough is enough, begone with this messing around; get it booked now. So I did and I was very surprised at how cheap it actually is to get there. I was expecting two or three hundred pounds in ferry ticket for a starter. But no. £119 later and it was paid for. Of course, if I want a cabin for the journey, to lay down in or puke in, knowing my stomach, then fine. If I want the magical seat to transport me there, then great, but me, well I shall just doss on the deck or sit outside watching the seagulls make a fool of themselves as we leave Liverpool.


£119 is so low, I am now wondering why I have not been doing this every year. It is an incredibly low price to get from Liverpool to Douglas and then back from Douglas to Heysham. I chose the latter port out of necessity. I wanted to go from and to there but was too late in booking, unless I want to pay £20 more and have to go on the 0215 ferry.

Stuff that for a game of soldiers, as a mate of mine famously wrote in the title to his book!

So, in late May, this lad is off on his travels. I have not been anywhere serious and with intent since the manic Lake District jaunt which is on this website somewhere. I shall have to buy myself a tent, but I have seen one for £14. A 4 man tent with some height to it as well, so should be fine for one trip and then if I have to bin it, I can.

But the anxiety in me and the excitement in me is building even now, in early December 2018 as I write these thoughts. It is an amazing thought that I shall have to wait over 5 months before the day comes, but boy am I enjoying the thought of going there to see the madness that is the TT. Even some of my Facebook chums who are going are saying we should all meet up when there for a brew and a chat whilst we watch some lunatic hurl a sports bike past us at over 140mph.

I am game for some of that!


But what I am looking forward to the most is having a go at the circuit myself before the mayhem really takes off. I have chatted with lads who have been and they all say take your time and let the idiots fly by you. Enjoy the scenery. Stop as often as you can and soak up the atmosphere of the place as it gears up for what is now a legendary event.

I have a cousin to blame for this, for he raced and worked there some years, friends who are on Facebook who have been and said how awesome it is and the desire to just go and do it.

I cannot wait! I am even loving the idea that I can see some sidecar racing again. I love how they lean out the side of those things.


Happy days are here again….


Here We Go …. Again.

Just when you thought it safe to go out on two wheels again, this lad decides that enough is enough and it is time to get another bike. That is now four bikes in eighteen months and all because some low life nicked the second one and I felt so distraught that to have another CBF1000 was a nightmare scenario. I had the 600 and loved it but it was too small for my 160kg frame and traded it up for the black beast below. Back in November, I had this little beauty, bought from a dealer in Durham. Lovely chap too.


That’s me enjoying the moment. It was a lovely bike too in all areas. But like has been said before, if someone wants to steal the thing, then they will, no matter how much security you place on to the bike to keep her secured where you live. When she was stolen, twice in three days from outside my home, life became hell as I found I could not trust anyone else again who lived near me. I still look at one or two of the ones you think I would not trust him as far as I can throw him and wonder if it was him that nicked my pride and joy. If ever I catch them, there will be hell to pay and I shall do time for it. The chances are that the team who nicked it were not from the town, or the chavs on the estate thought oooh, one for a strip down and sell on ebay. Either way, my sense of loss was massive.

But then, when the insurance finally paid out, I got this. Big mistake!


It was a different bike entirely and bought as a mini project because it was a thousand less than it should be, if in decent nick. Several advisories to the MOT meant there was some cash to lay out to get her to the 3500 pounds worth. But no matter how many times I went out on the thing, the same thing happened. I could not get used to her.

I paid for the things to be done; headstock bearings, front fork seals [the left had gone entirely] and a host of other stuff including a new front tyre and I still could not get the hang of the thing. But the one thing that really turned me off was the weight of the old girl. Anyone knowing me will know that I have a pinned and plated right arm and shoulder, from a car crash in 2010 so a really heavy bike, like a Goldwing, is not in my remit to buy unless it has an electronic centre stand.

In the end and because I could not lift the beast to the centre stand at all, I was left with a decision, which was brought about by something else going wrong with the back wheel. So in the end, I found someone in the midlands who had a bike I liked the look of and we decided to trade. I actually made some money on the initial purchase price of the Strom and traded for this.


Yes, you guessed it. It is another CBF1000. She is an 09 plate with just 26k on the clock, a full MOT without any advisories and apart from a new back tyre at some point, nothing needs doing. There is currently a PR4 on the front and a Battax on the back; not advisable but not illegal either. It will get changed out.

I had my first ride on her yesterday too, to Helmsley near to where I live. It is about twenty miles and across some really glorious landscape too.


It is a lovely ride and as light as a feather when compared to the Strom. That much is unbelievable. The Strom is such a heavy bike and not as simple to ride. It is nothing like this which ever way you look at it. The differences are immense.


Parking her in Helmsley with all the other bikes there, as we all prepared for the Tour De Yorkshire to bimble on through was a joy, so I had a rest and then came back, enjoying the ride and the scenery. It took me about fifteen minutes on the way to Helmsley to get used to riding the Biffer again after 6 months on the Strom, but once that had been sorted, it became a really enjoyable ride. She is a bit squirrelly in the turns and I think that is down to the Bridgestone on the back but it could also be down to me being too aggressive and not breaking early enough, missing the apex of the corner and having to hope that no one is coming round the sharp left hander. Either way, what a terrific bike.

The only thing I need to do now is sort and Givi rack and top box, so I thought I’d have a punt on ebay, as usual and found one on there, negotiated the seller to send from the Channel Islands and received them, but as soon as I got them, I knew there was something wrong. But I could not figure it out. It all went together okay, but there were 4 holes on the rack and 2 nuts and bolts for the plate.

What was wrong there?


It turns out that the rack is the right rack, for the CBF600 and CBF1000 but the plate is not the right one for the rack. It is not the M5 plate I need even though it will all fit together. Typical, thought I. Here we go … again. But there is little to worry about because all I need to do is buy the M5 plate and all should be well. The plate on here is an M7 and not the M5.

This is what the rear looks like.


In the end, I shall get there with this and because of all the hot weather, I have no intention of doing this till tomorrow, but all should be well and one day, when funds allow it a bit better, I shall buy the M5 plate and all shall be well.

Happy riding everyone. May the smile always be on your face.






Bad Luck Or Bad Planning?

Those that know me will know that even though I like the thrill of going very fast on a bike, I do so in the safety of the confines of the limits I set for myself. I never do anything outwardly nuts and can handle myself in a tricky situation with a bike, even now, with a knackered back and legs that are not as strong as they once were.

But when it comes to helmets, I am as daft as the next rider in that I can put it somewhere and not think about the possible consequences. On my little trip to the lakes last year, I placed the bike on the side stand when we stopped for a rest, not thinking and the wind blew it off the seat and onto the floor with a bounce.


Now, the guidelines are that if it has a knock like that, then you get rid and buy another, for your own head safety if you were to lose control, hit a slip of oil, or get belted up the ass by a huge car [as happened to me in 1978]. But I dusted it off, after a few swear words and decided to carry on with it.

Then the following day, it happened again. No damage. Just a small scrape on the side where the concrete hit it. No damage to internal parts or visor, so I felt relatively safe again to use it and have used it since on lots of occasions, until today. I am such a Putz. I never learn, do I?

After all this terrible weather we have been having, with the Beast from The East 1.0 and 2.0, I thought now is a good time to get the bike out of the garage, give her a good blast up the motorway to the Squires Café Bar in Newthorpe and enjoy a good ride, but I never got out of the damn garage.

I put the helmet on the seat, not thinking, unlocked the bike from the two locks on her and knocked the alarm off as well. Sound, thought I, so I then opened the top box and let the lid go all the way forward, or backwards, whichever it is, knocking the helmet off of the seat in the process, onto the concrete floor, where the visor flew off in another direction.


Without even a swear word, I picked her up to inspect the damage and found that the side clips that hold the visor on had snapped, with one thin slip snapping off. One side was minus the springs too that hold the tension within the visor, so there was no way I was going to get those back. In the end, I had to bring the helmet back home and think this through, logically, not letting my annoyed emotions get the better of me.

After a closer inspection and a failed attempt to super glue the clips back together, I realised it was knackered and rang up the shop I got her from. Can I come down tomorrow on my way to see my family and order some clips to fix her, or order a new helmet? I was given the response of “we are not open tomorrow because we are open today” [Sunday] so could you do it another day? I said I was coming down today and set off for the Squires Café Bar, because the shop is next door.


I was in the car!

50 miles later and a few smokes to calm me down, I got there and showed him. His response was a stoical as ever. “If it was me, I would not wear that anymore,” so I knew a new one was needed and ordered one. I now have to wait a few days for the new 4XL HJC helmet to arrive. If only I was ten stone wet through, I could have bought any helmet there. But because I weigh the same as an aircraft, I am limited to one helmet and the colour ranges are black and black.


Good job I like black eh?

Be careful out there folks and remember the guidelines given to me today: If you drop the thing, buy another. It might have cost me another £150 but in the end, my safety is paramount and so is yours.


This was the Squires Cafe Bar in Newthorpe, near Sherburn in Elmet, today. Seeing this lot made the journey and the loss of £150 all worth it. Now, I am waiting for the chance to wear my new glossy black HJC helmet.

Happy riding!

All Change!

I have a new bike! Well, new to me, but you know what I mean.

It was on a cold wintery morn when I saw my new beauty in the back of a transit van all the way from Exeter in the south west of the country. That was about two weeks ago now and the weather since has been nothing but snow and rain. Typical when you think about it. Buy a new bike and it snows. Just my luck.


In the end it was the Vstrom for me and now, having had a couple of run outs on her, I can relate what this new beastie is really like.

I got the bike from Speed Superbikes, out of Exeter and the fella there, Shane, was very helpful indeed. I only saw the bike on Ebay and so in a way, it was bought blind, like the CBF600 I first bought at the beginning of this adventure into middle age. They were very helpful, put her through the MOT and then sent her to me.

Once paid for, I got the green slip and am now waiting for the V5 to come my way from the DVLA. That in itself was a story of typical silliness for me, because they forgot to send the green slip with the paperwork, so I had to wait for it. Once insured, I had to tax her and I did not have the green slip so I had to ring them for the 12 digit number off the slip. They inadvertently gave me the 11 digit one and we had to go through it all again. Here am I thinking here we go again only to find that all went well in the end.

Then, it was a case of where to head off to in late December for the first ride. I knew it needed a new chain and sprocket before too long, so decided it was not going to be far, just in case the chain came off and belted me round the face. That would just be my luck. Those who have read these blog pieces before now know my aversion to DIY when it comes to the bikes. I am a useless mechanic of the nth degree. So, off I went for a little trundle down a few moist country lanes.

I wished I had not done that as soon as I got back!


She got absolutely bloody filthy, as did I. I should have figured it out when I went past fields with cows in all looking at me as if to say “Look at that fool” but it was fun figuring out where the clutch bit each time I let it out. Once, as I was stood outside a local farm’s gates, I set off a tad too vigorously and felt the front wheel go up straight away. It must be a Suzuki thing for the GSX1400 used to do the same thing when I sat on her. This new bike pulls like a steam train and goes rather too well, but as we got so mucky together and it was beginning to rain when I got back, she had to go in the garage for a few days till I could get to her to clean her. When I got back to her to clean her I was amazed so much mud could be on one bike. Anyone would think I had been off roading with her.

How on earth could I get her clean when I am partially disabled and I cannot get her onto the centre stand [still working on that – she is a heavy beast]. Now this is where I should have thought about it more! A bike like this has things fitted with fairings and covers over those things, so cleaning and washing requires a jet washer at the least. To try and do it with a bowl and a sponge is rather stupid but that is all I had. I got her clean a few days later and then, today, set off for the second jaunt, this time a 40 mile round trip to my favourite bike shop to book her in for the first of the advisory repairs.


I only half managed it!

Friends who have had one of these have said she will bring a smile to my face. I disagree really because she makes me think a lot more than the CBF1000 and the baby 600 before that. They were so easy to ride. Get on, hang on, head down, arse up and go like hell. This is a very different bike. Mistreat her and you will end up on your butt. Throttle her too hard and she will jump away from you. And as for the speed, there is only one word. Wow! I was doing 60mph on the road to the motorway and I thought I was in top gear, as my mate would say, “bimbling along nicely.” I wasn’t and had two gears left and found that out when I hit the intersection and heard her whine a bit. As I moved into 4th gear, I was at 70mph as I hit the motorway and then I made sure of top gear and hung on tight.

Sat behind the very high MRA screen is brilliant compared to the CBF600, even with its bigger Givi screen. The seat is wider too, so my big ass can get on there, do an hour of riding, get off and the back is not in agony. In the Lake District last year, I was in agony for most of the time because of the seat on the bike. If we do the same again soon, it shall be different.

But the bike is different too. When Shane said that there would be some work to do on her as she was sold as a repair job to me, I agreed and when the 6 or so things are done, she will be a real beauty, a head turner too, because I aim to add some gold into her at some point; wheel trims, tank and fairing trims etc.


Maybe, even, if he can do it, I shall get my friend on FB to redo the wheels in a buff gold colour. It should go really well with the grey and silver. Either way, the next eleven months should be real fun as I go through 2018 bombing down the roads.

There are a couple of things I am not that bothered about. One is a Satnav and mount which is situated so awkwardly, in the wrong place on the handlebars, so that is going to get sold on Ebay and help pay for some of the repairs to be done. The other is the hard luggage. In the photos earlier, she had them both on. As part of the van drive, they are off and in a box but when I look at the rack, I tend to think that I just want a Givi rack and a top box so they will more than likely be sold too. When will I use hard luggage? Possibly never.

So, it is a case of where to next?

I am planning at some point to do the Scotland run [I think it is called the 500 – miles round the top of the UK] but it is a case of finding others to do it with. If I can find them on FB or somewhere, then I am off for a huge ride in the summer. It is definitely a case of watch this space. Photos to follow. What is evident is that the smile is back on my face once again after the thievery of recent weeks.







Plans Can Always Be Changed

You know the old saying, “All the best laid plans of mice and men?” Well, that is true of the modern biker too for they always have to cope with constant change every day. When riding, we have to be able to determine when an idiot car driver may or will do something stupid in front of us. If they did not do such things there would be no need for posters like THINK BIKE! THINK BIKER!


Likewise, we all know that absolutely anything can happen on the road as we endeavour to blast along the road on two wheels, balancing into and out of corners. But the one thing that we have to learn and be able to do is adapt when things happen to us and it is this that leads me to the little tale I have to tell today.

For those who have been reading these editions, you will know I have had two bikes in the last year or so, a CBF600 in beautiful red and black which I added lots to and then a black CBF1000, which I only had for weeks before someone stole the thing from under my nose. Twice!

It was then that I had to make a decision!

Do I get another bike, or not?

Is it worth it if there is nowhere to park it that is safe? Can I take a third theft in as many months? If it happened, what would I do? All these questions rushed through my head like a tornado of thought, every now and again resulting in severe depression, till I realised one immutable truth; I missed having the chance to ride a bike more than the desire to not get another.

Then, we had a problem of Vesuvian proportions, because it was always going to be a case of what do I get next? I knew straight away that I could not get a CBF1000. Too many painful memories associated with such a thought as this, so what next? My last post suggested I was going to buy a red, white and blue CBF10000 but it had over 58,000 miles on it, so I bottled out.

So, what next? I trawled ebay and chatted on messenger with my three biker chums and could not figure it out; GSX1400, like before? Too many memories of being ripped off by Black Horse Bastards [I mean Finance – oops] so look at a Bandit, thought I. I saw one but had not been paid out by my insurer in time so could not bid.


Eventually, after looking at Deauvilles, GSX1400s, CBF600s and CBF1000s [even though I still had those feelings] and a host of other bikes, even Kwacker 1200s, Harleys and Bonnevilles, I opted for one that kept getting my attention each time I went past it on the ebay page and the other day, I shoved a £200 deposit on the thing. Unseen!

I am not sure of a name yet for her, so I want you to choose one if you can. The name has to be in giving with the make and model. Any good ones may and will be used. Here is my new baby, when she arrives. I am not sure yet when that shall be, but within a fortnight, I should be on two wheels again.


As to the parking issues, that has been resolved by a lovely friend who has given me the space in his garage free and gratis. God bless him for keeping me going. As to security on the bike, by the time it arrives, it will have more locks than Fort Knox, with chains and padlocks being alarmed. Bike thieves are likely to take one look and think sod that for a game of soldiers.

Happy days are coming!



A Lesson In Patience & Perseverance

If you are a biker, you may have been fortunate and got away with it; never having to claim for loss or damage to your bike. I was one of those fortunate men in my biking career. I have had all manner of bikes in the past [see first items on here] and have gone from a 50cc moped to a 1400cc beast of a bike, but in all that time, I do not think I have ever had the paperwork for a claim in my hands until recently and it became a lesson in lunacy and error ridden insurance companies as well as a lesson in patience and perseverance.

Now patience has never been my virtue. You only have to sit with me in the car for ten minutes before I am swearing obscenities at some A-Hole in the car in front of me. It is a cross between road rage and Tourettes. I have worked as a miner and a soldier, so I know every swear word there is and am not averse at using them, especially when behind the wheel. When on the bike, I just mutter the words “Fuck Off” as I fly past said numptie in his car trying to be stupid because there is a bike behind him, and it is usually a him!

But claiming insurance for theft this time was one hell of a lesson.

I think I told the story on the last thread, but on October 11th, I was woken by the Police at my door, telling me they had found a bike, my Honda CBF1000, wedged into a hedge on a playing field near to where we live. They were happily returning it, looking me up and down in my jammies and asking “how strong are you? This is one heavy bike!”

Pair of puffs, the both of em!

I thanked them in my state of shock and needed a sweet tea immediately. My anger and my PTSD were kicking in, big time, causing me to wretch after they had gone. They did what they do and sent a Forensic bod to my bungalow to dust for prints, but said directly to me that “it was most possibly the Pikies on the next estate and they always wear gloves” so they weren’t expecting much.

I was just glad to get it back!

I went to the local shops, bought a bitch of a chain that was so thick and heavy and 2m of galvanised chain, with two very thick padlocks, again so heavy that if you dropped one on your toe, you’d not be walking straight for a week! I then put the bike back where it had been for the entire time I have had a bike since we have been here. I got onto the insurer as well, Bennetts Insurance, who were very supportive.

Then came the nightmare.

Bennetts you see, do something very strange and for this reason, this is why you should never go with Bennetts, or never go with an insurer through the likes of GoCompare, or MoneySupermarket, or indeed, any of those comparison sites. You see, what happens is that they look around for insurers and you can insure a beast of a bike like a CB1300 for £127 for the year. That is amazing when it comes to quotes. But move house and then ring them up and see what happens next. Yes, we have changed your address and will send your revised policy out. Now can we have our £35 admin charge please? Any change you make, whatever it may be, incurs such a charge and I moved three times once in a year when all we had was a car.

It is a bloody nightmare!

So I knew that cost was important but balanced with the rest, it had its faults, but I was not expecting what would happen next. You see, as soon as I saw the damage to the loom, I thought I wonder, how much would Teasdales charge me to fix it so we leave the insurer out of it all. I asked them for a quote and they said £670 which in essence made my decision for me. The claim had to continue. But the lovely man at Teasdales, my favourite bike shop for many reasons, sent me an email telling me that if Bennetts say they will use a company called 4th Dimension Ltd, from Surrey, say no, for they will take your bike and write it off when it need not be written off. They are known for this, apparently and treat you like scum. Wise words in the end of it, as you will see.

Within three days of being stolen, re-protected by chains and locks, some git appeared and took the bike again. This time, we think it was a different brood. It all seemed more professional in terms of thieves. So now, within three days, the bike had been stolen twice. Bennetts were notified again. They said no problem, we will stop the first claim and open a new one. We will use a company called 4th Dimension. I said no thanks and they ignored me. They had said they will do the admin when the bike was returned to me and the local Honda dealer, at my behest, would do the work, but when it vanished totally, like a fart in the wind, they were now in charge.

My two word response was, “Oh shit!”

This was the 13th October 2017. Normally, once they have the keys and paperwork, the payment is quite swift. But this was nothing but snail pace when it came to paying me what I was owed. I had to send emails every day, asking about this and that. They would send emails back and phone me saying sorry, they had made an error and so payment will be delayed. I was looking at bikes again, being told by them, that the payment would be made by the 18th. If I had not got it in my account by then, then give them a ring or another email to let them know.

The 18th came and went so I emailed. All I got was an email saying we apologise. We have made another error internally. We will get on it immediately and get the payment to you by the 20th. Yes, you guessed it. It never materialised and after 7 more days, it still had not come to my account. I had had to say to five dealers “I am interested in that bike,” only to then tell them that I could not go forward because 4th Dimension were being a pain in the arse and not paying me. In the end, I threatened with the use of words like “my former colleagues at the Press Association” and things like that, bringing on a telephone call from the Chief Customer Relations manager. He apologised again and said that as a way of saying sorry, I would receive the £2150 as it should be plus a payment of £100 because so many errors had been made in this case.

He said it would all be in my account by midnight that day. But this was now the 28th!

I emailed him the following day, thanking him for the £100 but to tell him that the other £2150 was still not there. He was apoplectic. He then went about his business colleagues with an iron rod by the feel of it, because on the 30th, at 3pm, when he says payments have to be authorised by, the £2150 hit my account and I was so relieved.

But it had put me right off even thinking of trying to get another bike.

The added thing was that I could not get one without a garage here and the landlord had refused me to erect a garage. So I began to sell everything; boots, both jackets [thieving gits had got my gloves] and other stuff I did not need. I had just bought a rad grill and a new Givi screen for it two days before it was stolen. Not happy!

Thankfully, the other day, my church Minister agreed to let me put my next bike in his garage. He lives two doors away so it will be a brilliant arrangement for me. But what a bloody palava with the insurance payout. The CS Manager has said he has raised a formal complaint on my behalf with a view to Bennetts and ERS paying me some compensation but to be fair, I could not be bothered because in the end, I shall not be going back through Bennetts.

Ironically, yesterday, my renewal papers came from Bennetts and I took one look and said “Not bloody likely” and rang them up to cancel telling them I no longer own the bike after payout. 4th Dimension do.

Insurance, we all know, is a pain in the rear, but I did not want a proctology exam when making a claim. I got one in the end, but with perseverance [and some patience] I got my cash from them.

Now, all I have to do is buy another bike and I am looking at this one.


Oh happy day!


Good Days & Bad Days

Here we are again thinking about bikes and biking and all that that entails and here am I with two stories that will make you respond positively and negatively.

The first is that after nine months of owning my beloved CBF600SA, I decided to opt for spending a bit more cash and getting the CBF1000 and boy was it a day to remember coming down from Tom Conway Bikes in Durham on that beast. I traded the 600 and got 2k for her which is not too shabby at all, even though I had added so much onto her. She simply was not strong enough to take a fat, balding 22 stoner like me and then a pillion rider in the diminutive stature of the Mrs.


So I traded and went here, there and everywhere on the thing, until last week. Last Wednesday, at 7-30am in the morning two burly coppers ended up on my door. They woke me from my slumber to tell me that my CBF1000 had been pinched and left wedged into a hedge on a playing field adjacent to an area of the town where I live which contains all the dross and the nutters of the area. Even the coppers said “it will be the pikies off the estate” when asked.

There was some damage and the photos below the next one show it. Fairing trouble, steering lock snapped and weirdly, the ignition loom cut. Stupid bastards thought they could hotwire a HISS system protected bike.


This was the day I picked up The Beast from Durham, a very happy day indeed. But that turned to sadness and now, I am bikeless. When the Police came, they showed me the damage.


I have never been great at receiving such news and needed some sweet tea to get over this one, ending up having a panic attack a few hours after they had gone. But I decided it is time to beef up the chains and locks. There was no way I could get an Oxford Boss that day. I can get them for £30 on ebay and did think of that too, but in the interim, went and got two sets of heavy duty chains and two of the thickest padlocks I could find. I then added them to the bike thinking “Nick it now you bastards!” The ground anchor I had was a sodding telegraph pole!

Guess, what? They did, three days later, on Saturday morning, between the hours of 1245am and 0215am. That will teach me for tempting fate eh? I know this to be the case with the timings because I went to sleep at that time and woke up at 0215am needing to pay a visit and when I looked through the window, I saw the lack of a bike. I live in a beautiful town, a market town in North Yorkshire. It is for the most part, idyllic, but now, I am bikeless and bereft. For a good few days I wanted to do one thing and one thing only, move! As far away as possible from this melee. I am still of the same disposition now.

The bike I loved had gone.


The closest thing to my old GSX1400 that I could get because I cannot afford the GSX1400, is no more, probably in some twonk’s garage and the cops are doing sod all about it. Frustrating is not the word! Yes, they gave me an incident number but what else can they do unless someone names the culprit.

So I wrote to the local newspaper, the Northern Echo and told them. I wrote the report, for the most part, in the body of the email. I thought sod this, I have to do something about it. I need to get it back, get it even more secured and stick my fingers up at the thieves.

I even went driving round the town and the local villages, in the vain hope that I could bump into [literally] the idiot who took it. If I had and if I do one day, then unless they are wearing Police uniform, they are getting knocked off and run over, on purpose. Shit on me and I will give it back tenfold.

So now, I have a huge dilemma. I have to keep going. I have to keep on two wheels, but how can I do it now that the arsewipes have struck twice within three days? It is no longer safe here and the insurer has hinted at someone coming out if I buy another to ascertain how safe this place is. The thought of it is doing my head in. Move and rent a house with a garage is an option but we do like it where we are and that would piss my wife off no end. Forget buying a bike? Not an option. As soon as the insurance have paid out I am down the bike shop for a new one [to me]. I will not be beaten by these idiots. God knows what my insurance will be next time but I am not being scared off by some Yokel who is as brainless as they come. I have seen them on that estate. Jesus, but they make Dillon out of the Fenn Street Gang look like Stephen Hawking!

They can all go fly a kite, for all I care but they’re not having another one of my bikes.

My options, at the moment, are a Suzuki Bandit 1250 Faired which I have seen. It is a 2005 bike though for the same money but a true muscle bike and a Beast of bigger proportions than the CBF. Perhaps, if I get one so bastard heavy, they will think twice. BMW then, is another option.


Or perhaps something else like a Deauville. I saw an old one, which the idiots may look at and think no thanks to, like the one I used to have, in the old 650 version on an S plate for 975 quid so that is an option plus a train ride and 3 hours of fun coming home.

The other thing I have seen is this. And boy, does it tantalise my sensibilities.


It is a case of to be, or not to be, mine? That is the question. My nephew, a biker himself, says “go for it Uncle Rob.” I am not totally convinced the riding position would suffice and the good old Bandit would suit this cripple better than something leaning further forward. A friend suggested doing what he did and moving to the VFR800. His is a lovely bike but again, I am not sure as yet and have not seen one that has blown my skirts up enough to think yep, that’s definitely me.

Then again, there is the option of buying back my CBF600. I do miss the old girl and I do know the bike well. But I sold her because I needed something that can take pillion plus me and that is why, I think, it is so hard to decide at this moment. The insurance are due to pay out soon, very soon and I have the dilemma of parking the thing, whatever I get.

Someone suggested one of these. They cost £60 a month to rent on a secure site. You plonk your bike in, plus all your gear, drive up to it from home in the car and then go biking. When done, you come back to the unit and put it all away till the next time.


Only time will tell what I shall do next!

Happy biking but be careful out there folks. I had mine chained and padlocked with two heavy duty chains and then a disc lock on the front and they went through those like a knife through butter, with bolt cutters. Next time, if there is a next time, there will be no chance of anyone nicking my bike ever again. I simply refuse to buy one until I can guarantee that level of safety.


Still Learning…

Squires Cafe Bar – Sherburn In Elmet [A Review – of Sorts]

Back in the day, when I had my Suzuki GSX1400 [2003 – 2006] and before that even, when I had the Deauville 650, we lived in Doncaster [South Yorkshire. UK] and the nearest cafe bar that was specifically for bikers was in a place called Newthorpe, near Sherburn in Elmet, Leeds. It is called the Squires Cafe Bar.


Jason and his dad owned the place and at weekends, did a roaring trade, but what made it special was not the bikes but the family that owned it. They were special. As was their dog, who used to walk around the cafe with a tiny peak cap on, I forget with which words on it, but the little mite looked like any greasy biker you would befriend on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The greeting you got was fine. The food was fulsome and there was plenty of it. Many a day, I have had a chip butty or a veggie burger with the wife and a coffee with whipped cream oozing out the top, or just a brew and a pastie, to keep the hunger at bay. I took my kids there, one by one for hot chocolate drinks with the same heap of cream on top. They adored the place.


I even remember sitting down by the raging coal fire one day, with the father, who I think was called Harry, chatting about bikes and even being offered the chance to buy the place because I said, as a former chef, that I would love to own a place like this. Of course, this was in the days before the DMP and then the IVA, so now, I would not be allowed to own such a handsome place as this.

Well, handsome might be pushing it.

That was then, when it was in need of being done up, but was homely and rough n ready. So what about now? What about the time since I last cocked my leg over a bike seat and roared off into the sunset? It has been ten years since I owned the Suzuki 750, the all too naked, sit up and beg version, in an attempt to get back into biking from the 2003 – 2006 days of the GSX1400. But that had to be sold when I lost my job, again. Austerity and cutbacks have been a bitch!


So, since last November, when I finally got the chance to own a decent bike again, I have been up and down the A1M to the Squires on about three occasions. At each venture, I have seen the usual things; the place rammed to the rafters with bikes. Stands selling bikes, like today, when Suzuki were giving test rides on new Vstroms and other luscious Suzis and bikers with all their differing bikes and gear on. It has been a sight to behold.

But I have also noticed the change in ownership, or at least, the change in the people running it. New leaders. New girls serving. New chefs. I have not ventured into the land of the veggie burger yet, or the chips, which used to be as chunky as hell and totally gorgeous, but what I have seen is a cleaner place, good for the health inspector I suppose, but a spruced up joint that looks better than it did. Whether the food, or the gracefulness of the owners is any better, only time will tell.


Today, I went and had a tea and a pastie. I am a lone rider now. My wife chooses to stay at home. My bike, being a 600, will not take the both of us, according to Honda, as I am worth two in one go, if you get my drift. So all I need is a pastie, but the same things are there; bikes and bikers, tea and pasties, pool tables to thrash my son on, back in the day, telly screens for the MotoGP, when we ever see it nowadays.

But the soul has gone from the place because Jason and his little family are not there, or if they are, they are not seen any more. And that is a pity, for today, as with each day, I have gone down, bought my beverages, looked around for a friendly face and all I see are strangers. Perhaps that is the old fart in me, but in the end, the place is not the same as it once was. As I went today, mainly because there is nothing near to me, I decided to go via York from Teesside, down the A19. I normally go via the motorway, to get there faster, but did the opposite today and loved it. When I got there, I took some photos, as you see here, and then sat down to have my brew and pastie.


Lovely it was too.

And then, I went for a wander, glancing at all the beautiful bikes. As I did so, I saw a bench I could go and sit on so headed off to sit down and watch the world go by for a few minutes.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an ageing biker motioning to me, waving his arms at me strangely. How odd, I thought and carried on to the bench, whereupon, as I was about to sit down, he simply said four words which finished me off in one go, for I had been walking round for the last twenty minutes, soaking up the atmosphere.

And those four words were …..YOUR FLIES ARE DOWN!


Lesson learnt #3 for this biker. Ah well, there will be other days.

Here We Go … A Bimbling

The Great CBF600 Biker Jaunt 2017: Windermere UK

We [four CBF600 riders] have just returned from a weekend away at Ullswater, Lake Windermere and Sykeside Campsite. For me, it was a 250 mile round journey at least so I plan to share here, with photos and some of the elements of the trip. Our trip had been planned for weeks, with the deposit being paid by me for the campsite where we would stay, so we waited and waited till June 17th [some of us more impatiently than others] and then, when the final day came, we all met up at Scotch Corner Services here in the UK. After a brief stop to check things over, have a brew and take a few photos, off we went, with Tony in the lead as he was Mr SatNav for the trip. Not only did he know his way there, but he has the gadgets with him to cover all eventualities.


Half way there, we stopped and out came the visor wash from Tony’s bag of tricks. Talk about being organised. By now the heat was about 30 degrees but with bike jackets, helmets and gloves on, even thin ones for summer, it was getting slightly unbearable for me. I am a big fella so suffer in this kind of oppressive heat.

On we went, to Penrith, where the plan was, with me not understanding it fully, that we would stop for a drink, cool off and then head off to the site. Going 60mph all the way over the A66, for me, was somewhat annoying in a way because all week I knew that road would be there for me to test the bike out properly. I wanted to add at least another 20mph onto that, but I behaved myself and finally, as we arrived into the Red Rooster Cafe in Penrith, bike followed bike, I followed on in third slot and as the leader made a super quick left and then right, I got all confused and wondered where I was going.

I assumed he had made an error, very unlike him, so wobbled my way out of his way, veering left, off down a road, with our final rider behind me. I think I put him off, but he says that is not so, for after I had turned round, gone back up the hill and parked the bike, I found that the front end had gone out on him in some freak accident. Luckily, no one was involved apart from bike and rider and another biker came to his aid to lift the beast up. As we all chatted over a cup of tea or coffee, it struck me that it seemed to be taking forever to get to our destination. I am so impatient at times. It is the PTSD in me I am afraid.


From Penrith down through Ullswater is a seriously pretty ride, but when you turn right onto the road at the side of the lake, your breath is suddenly taken away. Now, it was getting interesting! I have been to places like Venice and it is stunning but this was on a scale with Venice easily. I have canoed in Windermere when I was younger, swam in it as well, so know the beauty of the place, but it was like I had forgotten about it for so long. The last time I went to Windermere was a decade ago or more with my wife, so Ullswater was simply breathtaking. Trying to ride, take bends and gawk at the scenery is an interesting experience and we did not stop to take photos, so I knew I was missing the chance. But we rode on, trying to find the campsite at a place called Hartsop.


In the end, we got lost, found our way again and arrived at the site, tired, hot, incredibly sweaty and began pitching our tents. Now this is where I learned two immutable truths about myself. Number 1 is that I am an old fart who does not do camping very well and Number 2 is that I am never buying cheap crap again. My tent was advertised as a three man tent. Aye, if your arse is as short as a Pygmy Chinaman. Putting it up damn near killed me [mainly because I am partially disabled and tire very easily due to injuries sustained in a car crash]. But the tent went up, eventually and I was left with a pole that seemed to be spare.

Hmmm, thought I. Like with the bikes in the past, now where the hell does that bit go?


Just then, Tony saw the place where it went, across the top with the flysheet, so it was shoved through in good old Yorkshire style, resulting in it poking out the front end and breaking the flysheet where it slotted in. With no log cabins or huts on show, this could be interesting, thought I. My tent is broken! But no, out came the bag of tricks again and two minutes later, the tent had a band aid on it in the form of black insulating tape to keep it in place. I had huffed and puffed my way through putting the damn thing up, so simply added “don’t worry Tony. It is getting binned anyway.” They all laughed, but I meant it. If ever I go away on the bike again, it is like Le Mans in 2004, where I stayed in the Hotel Mercure.

Bugger camping! My wife has that one right I am afraid!

Eventually, we all had tents up and it was now about 3pm, so we all headed off for a rideout, down towards Lake Windermere. The road was simple enough, with only one turn off on it, to the right. Kirkstone Pass was the main road, but there was a lesser taken road, sometimes no more than a track and the plan was to turn right there, but one of our troop decided, in his words, to “have a bimble” down the main road, when we turned right. We would not have minded, but he was second rider at the time, so he saw the lead rider turn right and carried on going. We all stopped and waited for him to return, but there was no sign of him so one of us went to catch him up, returning having not been able to find him. Now, we were split up. Not good!

It was so comical to the three of us how it all happened, that while waiting, Tony took some photos, one of which is shared here.


On seeing it when we got back, it inspired me to write this poem, based on the real event that shall go down in the annals of biking fame, if I have anything to do with it, for it simply is majestic in its daftness. It is written in honour of Robert Frost and my mate Paul, who when he should have turned right, went straight on down into Windermere as we went over the pass. Boy did we give him some stick for that!

The Road That Should Be Taken

The biker sat on the hill side, thinking of his future
He pondered the twisted route that he would now take.
And as he sat there, thinking of the delights ahead
He thought of the destination, the glittering lake.

So he thought to himself, now should be a good time to go
Upon this, one of life’s great adventures to master.
And as he pulled the throttle back, he saw the road
Fall and appear before him, daring him to go faster.

He thought of all of those less fortunate than he;
Those for whom this sight would never please,
And chuckled to himself as he continued to ride,
A faint, but growing laughter that would not cease.

For he knew the truth of it all, the one, undeniable fact
That there would be others who he could only call
‘The ones who travelled a road that he would not take;’
The ones whose names were not Chris, but Paul.

By the time we met up in Windermere, I was beginning to suffer from the heat and from my illnesses, so I was glad that we could sit and rest, but my phone had gone on the fritz from setting off so bless em, they tried to find me a new one. It was then that I saw the strangest thing ever in the form of two Police Officers, both dressed in black from top to toe on a 30 degree day, carrying sub-machine guns or such like. Paul, in his usual style, simply said to one of them, “Aye, but I bet they’re not as good as the old SLR eh?”

They ignored him and walked on!


Eventually though, after some time to chat, we headed off down to the bottom of the lake, where there is a magnificent stopping place, close by the water, where you see the real beauty of the place. Now with the bikes as well, it made for some wonderful camera work, most notably Tony when trying to set a timer on a mobile phone camera. If you have ever tried to balance a mobile phone at that angle, you will appreciate this shot.


By this time, Tony had to take off for home and leave the three of us to the campsite for the night, so we returned and had a meal, a few beers and then tried to get some sleep. Once again, things got in the way; a snoring fella in the next tent, a host of crows going KARRRR all night. I did sleep, but not much and the following morning, had decided that the tank bag would be binned because the magnets were rubbish [it was a cheap ebay one so I only have myself to blame] as well as the tent. I even managed to break my boots as well, so they went in the bin. In the end, I came with a bike full of gear and left with it half full, not an untypical thing for me.

But I insisted on taking one form of luxury with me; a pillow from my bed! I got some stick for it in the form of “have pillow, will travel” comments from the fellas, but there was no way I would sleep without it. I am just a pampered old fart at heart. I know this to be the truth.

But that was not the last thing to go wrong for me at least. No. On the morning we were coming home, I packed the bike and decided to take her up to the main entrance, mainly because of the walk and the steepness of it. I cannot walk up stairs in a house easily and a steep incline like that took me three stops to master just to go to the pub. And there, I waited for the other two to pack up their tents. I was simply exhausted.


An hour went past and nothing, so wanting to get off, having changed my mind to go back down through Ullswater, so I could take some photos [remember the way in, how I could not take any?] I put my specs down and clipped them under my bungee net on the back seat, then put the helmet on, rode down to tell them I was setting off a different way to them and then headed off for home. I just needed to be on the road.

Yes, you guessed it. My specs were still [at some point] attached to my bungee net, so at some point, my £150 specs came off that and were lost. I only realised as I was near Ullswater, stopped to check the net, saw no glasses, swore vehemently to myself and then carried on thinking I am not turning round now!

So, it has been an interesting weekend away in a lot of ways, where certain things have been learnt. Firstly, I am too old in the tooth for camping. Next time it is a hotel, BB or a log cabin set up. They can camp but I am for the luxury after a hard day in the saddle. Secondly, buy the right things for the bike, especially the boots. Mine wore through, stopping me from walking down to the water side, forcing me to rest. I have since, yesterday in fact, bought some proper biker boots and will road test them soon. Thirdly, and most importantly, plan accordingly for all contingencies.


The bike ran like a dream. I was doubting her ability to do this trip, if I be honest, because of some noise coming from the engine, but riding home, on the A66, a quarter tank of fuel and worrying about there being no petrol stations anywhere, I just carried on going at 55mph to conserve fuel and fell upon a BP garage, where I could fill up. From there, back to Scotch Corner services was a blur. Nothing overtook me; that is all I am saying here. Don’t want the Rozzers to come knocking. The bike handled really well at low and high revs, took off at 7k into lands I have only experienced with the GSX1400 before now and I completely fell in love with her all over again. I had been thinking of trading, but not now. The CBF600SA is simply, one of the best bikes I have owned.

But when I got to Scotch Corner, I heard something that made me chuckle so much that I simply have to share it here. A man was overheard, by me, talking to some other folk, who mentioned Kendal and Windermere, where we had just been, so it got my attention. The man then asked the other, “Ah right, do they have their own sheep there, or do you have to take your own?” I rode home the forty miles or so, chuckling happily at that one. The best comics could not have done better.

On the whole, it was a fab trip, even though there were issues, a bike dropped twice, excessive heat, the loss of specs etc, but the bikes, the place, the journey, the ride, as well as the sheer thrill of it all makes it something that I shall treasure in my memory till the day I forget when I get too damn old, or till the day I shuffle off this mortal coil and go racing in heaven. Thank you to Tony, to Chris and to Paul, for making this little holiday something to treasure. You are all friends of the highest calibre now, all found on Facebook, in my estimation and that is not bad from me, for I do not make friends easily and do not have a lot of folk who I would trust with my life. You lot fit the bill perfectly.


God bless you all.

The Phantom Of The Hugger!


My last post was about the search for a hugger for my bike.

This one goes one step further because there have been a series of events, that are beyond belief and extremely testing, that have taken place that leave me believing that there is no such thing as a hugger for my bike.

Why do I write this you may be thinking? Be serious Robert. Think positive Robert.

Bullshit, thinks Robert!

You see, if it was a case of order a hugger, get it into stock and then get the bike there for a mechanic to fit the thing [remember, I am useless mechanically minded] then it would have been done by now. But no! I am huggerless still! I am beginning to believe that it will never happen.

Let me explain what has happened so far.

I went to a dealer near to where we live. There are two. One in Stockton – On – Tees and one a bit further away, which is not necessarily a Honda dealer [not adding names because all this fiasco is not their fault] that has excellent street cred and is known for reliability. They have helped me in the past with this beast and in the end, because I was in there for something else, I asked them about a hugger and they said they get theirs from a company in Lincolnshire.

It appears, from a phone call I have just made, that this company are the market leader for after market add ons like this hugger I am after. But there is a problem hinted at in the last blog piece. My bike is a CBF600 and has a 2010 plate [10]. But the bike seems to have been sat in a showroom before 2010 so was more likely built at any time before that, so the 2010 hugger was ordered and it was the wrong one.

I have just been today because they ordered the 04-07 one, but after a short time, in walks the boss this time with a seriously annoyed look on his face, telling me that this one is wrong and does not fit either. I am leaning against a high counter at the time, trying to remain cool on a warm day, not something one does easily at 21 stone. But when he said that, my head fell between my arms and my face more or less hit the counter in shock. I simply could not believe what was happening to me.

After a call to the company, they are told that the 04-07 one is not the right hugger for my bike because mine is the SA model. The one we have may fit the S model but not the SA model and that, is Honda’s fault, for changing out the holes. I begin to feel like that song by Johnny Cash, where he worked in the car plant and day by day, nicked a piece at a time, and before too long, had a 49, 50, 51, 52 car for free etc. If you know the song then fine, If not, then here you are…..


By now, it is becoming a nightmare. This hugger is turning out to be a phantom of someone else’s making, a Honda ruse to make life bloody hard for people like me who buy their bikes. It is not like I am wanting something difficult but the 2010 bike that is the S model being different to the SA, which is mine, is a nightmare. I am tempted to say this is the last time I am buying a Honda, but I know that the others will be the same too. I am not that green.

So, the dealer asks me if it is okay for me to go for a Puig or an Ermax [may have the name wrong there] instead, so I agree and they price it up, from the same company, and guess what, the 85 pounds I have agreed to pay suddenly rises to 107. Then there is fitting of course.

I am beginning to think by now, that I should have paid attention in Mr Withers’ Car Mechanics class! Or at least I should have continued as an apprentice fitter at the pit, when I was 17, for at least I would be able to buy one off ebay and then fit the bugger myself. I am more than annoyed, past vexed and into the world of murderous thought. I have PTSD so things like this annoy me more than others but I am there and I know it is not the dealer’s fault, so I say okay, go for the gloss finished Ermax [107 quid] and let’s try that.

But I have told them, nicely, which for me is a good sign, that if this does not fit, then that is that. Game over.

The Phantom of the Hugger strikes again!

Watch this space.