November 2021 - Another busy month sees the arrival of new comms and another bike!
Although November finished with storm Arwen, overall it was a quite a mild month and this allowed for lots of training and testing. Here's a look at what I got up to.
Customer Test passes
Congratulations to customers Pat and Steve who both successfully passed advanced tests in November. Pat passed the BMF Blue Riband Rider Award and Steve (who passed his BMF test last month) passed the RoSPA advanced test.
Here's Pat and his GSA on test day. He had a couple of hours with me before meeting his Examiner, and as you can see, by the time it was all done and dusted it was dark!
Steve also had a couple of hours pre test training before taking and passing his RoSPA test.
As mentioned above, Steve and Pat had PTAs with me prior to their tests but they weren't the only ones training in November. Mark and Andy are mates who booked a 2:1 full day. Mark was riding his VFR800 and Andy was on his 1050 Sport. Mark has some previous experience of advanced training but it was Andys first taste of it. Cracking day with lots of miles covered and the guys intend to come back in early 2022 for their next session
Up next was Bernie on his 1250RT. Bernie is an experienced rider who has been riding for many years but felt the time was right for a riding 'health check'. Bernie assures me he will be back for more next year.
Debbie on her Triumph Speed Triple was up next. Debbie has 2 bikes and racks up a fair few miles per year and felt the time was right to have an appraisal of her riding. Second session already in the book in 2022.
Steve R on his 1150GS finished off the month. Steve and his wife both ride and Steve has a newer GS as well as his 1150. Steve has completed various training such as BikeSafe, BMW Off Road Skills and some IAM but and wanted an up to date riding assessment. Next session pencilled in.
Unfortunately storm Arwen did manage to scupper one lot of training for mates Andy and Steve, who were travelling to York from Lincolnshire and staying locally in a Hotel. Fortunately the guys have rebooked for the new year. Thanks fellas.
Two tests conducted in November, one on behalf of the BMF and one for RoSPA.
Julie on her GSA successfully passed her BMF Blue Riband Rider Award and John passed his RoSPA test. Both rode extremely well to pass their respective tests at Gold standard.
Here's Julie and her GSA.
John on his KTM.
BikeSafe is something I have been involved with since 2000 and although Covid put paid to many events, some still managed to go ahead this year. Nearing the end of the month I attended a meeting held by the Humberside BikeSafe team for all the local volunteers who assist with delivering the events. The meeting was to look back at 2021 and ahead to next year. It was also a great opportunity to catch up with everyone, some of whom I've known for years and 1 or 2 new faces. I'm really looking forward to 2022.
Here's a picture from the meeting with lots of backs of heads!
If you've never taken part in a BikeSafe day, please check out their website for details of your nearest events and get yourself booked on one.
In September I spent a day with bike journalist Kev Raymond. Kev writes for RiDE Magazine (amongst others) and the reason for the day was to put together an article called 'Your Rides'. The prerequisite for the piece is that ride needs to be around 70 miles long taking around 2 hours to complete, including a coffee stop along the way. I met Kev at Strawberry Fields Cafe near York and the route took us to Skipwith, North Dalton, Bubwith, Melbourne, Pocklington, Fridaythorpe, (Seaways cafe), Sledmere, Scagglesthorpe, Malton, Stamford Bridge and back to York. It was a cracking day with lots of photos taken and I was really pleased with the article, which was published in the latest edition of RiDE.
I also made it into MCN in November in their 'First Bike' feature. It was a photo of me aged 18 sat on my Honda CX500 Turbo. The bike was only in production for 1982/83 before being replaced by the 650 Turbo, which also only in production for a year or so. Alas, Hondas foray into turbo bikes ended with the CX500/650. The 500 wasn't brilliant and when the 650 was released I was assured by the Honda salesman that the 650 was a vast improvement. However, it was also quite a bit more money so I ended up back on a CB900, which is what I'd had prior to the Turbo. I now find myself regularly looking through ebay for a 650 Turbo. Price wise they're not too bad but due to their very limited numbers when in production, spares and good bikes are hard to come by.
The photo isn't the best but in my defence it was a 1982 Kodak instamatic! Note my riding gear. Trainers, normal jeans and nylon 'paddock' jacket. I suspect the whole lot would have disintegrated within about 5 seconds should I have fallen off! Fortunately I didn't.
BMW S1000R Sport.
As some of you will know, I have previously owned two S1000Rs. A gen 1 in 2016/17 and then a gen 2 bike in 2018/19. I loved both of them and with more and more customers coming along on naked and semi naked bikes, I thought it would be ideal to have something else in the garage other than the Versys. Finances wouldn't stretch to the latest all singing, all dancing version, so I decided on a late gen 1 bike. I'd been looking at for a few weeks and then just happened to pop into Barrie Robson BMW and saw an S1000R for sale, it was exactly what I wanted. A gen 1, 2016 S1000R Sport, in white. It was one owner from new with only 7700 miles on the clock, backed up with FSH by Robsons who had also supplied the bike new. Unfortunately someone had beat me to it and already put down a deposit. Gutted! However, a few days later I received a call from John at Robson BMW saying the buyer had decided not to go ahead so it was back on sale! I obviously made my way straight to see John and after a bit of negotiation, a deal was done. Only down side was that I was parting with my K1600, a bike I was sad to see go but with the arrival of the Versys, parting with the K1600 was the right thing to do.
Here's me looking excited after signing on the dotted line.
A few days later I collected the bike and in the initial short ride home I knew I had made the right decision. I've bought a tail pack and small tank bag so I can carry a few training essentials and I'm looking forward to putting into use along side the Versys.
Here I am on collection day and even after 40 years and over 60 bikes, a new bike still brings a smile to my face. Martin and Ash even got in on the photo (look closely)....thanks guys.
Another purchase in November was a new set of Intercoms. I have been using Interphone FM5c and 3TX for the last 6 years for training and they have worked extremely well. However, you can no longer get software updates and they are taking longer to charge up and then that full charge doesn't last as long. They are still perfectly fine for most training sessions but one or two of the units are struggling to last more than about 7 hours which won't be long enough when touring or those long summer days when chatting to Kim or other riders. I looked at various options but decided on another set of Interphone, the Tour. They have arrived but I haven't fitted them to our helmets yet. That will be done in December.
Versys 1000 update
A few people have asked me about the Versys and how I'm getting on with it. I've now covered around 1500 miles so still quite early to give a definitive answer, but initial thoughts are that it's very good. I really like the smoothness and sound of the inline 4 engine, although it's much 'revier' with lots less engine braking than a GSA or the K1600. The dash is more LED than TFT and is nowhere near as nice as the TFT on the GSA. It's very comfortable, I've already had several 150+ mile days and the larger screen I've fitted all but stops any buffeting. The tank & body work also seems to do a good job of keeping your legs/lower half out of the breeze.
The panniers are quite small compared to the GSA/K1600 but probably the same as a GS. It also has a top box which is big enough for 2 helmets. One thing I don't like is the fact you can't leave any of them unlocked, so you need the key every time you need to be in them, which because I'm in and out of them a lot, is quite annoying. Handling wise, it came set up very soft, so I've been increasing the pre load nearly every ride and I think I've now just about got it right. Tank range seems to be around 180 miles but the 'range to empty' read out fluctuates massively depending on how you're riding. If your cruising it'll say 200 miles and 10 minutes later if you're having a play through the rev range it'll say 80 miles and then when your back being sensible it goes back up to 150 or something. It's linked to your instant mpg rather than your average mpg. It doesn't have hill hold assist or a quick shifter but I rarely used them on my BMW so I can live without them. The heated grips and cruise control work well. At the moment it feels like a lot of bike for the money at £10K less than a fully loaded GSA/Multistrada/Triumph Explorer etc but time will tell if I think differently in 6 months time.
Me and my Versys - a lot of bike for the money? What do you think?
And that completes this look back at November 2021.
In December I will be at Motorcycle Live at the NEC working on the BMW stand representing Motorrad Tours and all things BMW. I'll be there from the 4th to the 9th so if you're visiting, please come along and say hello. I also have a couple of Christmas do's to go to but not much in the way of actually riding a motorbike!
Thanks for reading and stay safe everyone.