Archive for the ‘Motorbike’ Category

Summer 2013 – Photo Scrapbook

September 8, 2013

A selection of images from this summer’s motorsport based shenanigans.

Scrubbing a Vanquish at Oulton Park.

Scrubbing a Vanquish at Oulton Park.

After the tragic passing of Alan Simonsen, we tried to honour him as best we could at the AMR Le Mans hospitality unit.

After the tragic passing of Alan Simonsen, we tried to honour him as best we could at the AMR Le Mans hospitality unit.

Rally Ypres takes over the whole town, electric atmosphere.

Rally Ypres takes over the whole town, electric atmosphere.

Alan Simonsen tribute sticker designed by Lillynd Design.

Alan Simonsen tribute sticker designed by Lillynd Design.

More Aston Martin GTs than you can shake a stick at. The grid for the awesome Festival race at Brand Hatch.

More Aston Martin GTs than you can shake a stick at. The grid for the awesome Festival race at Brand Hatch.

MotoGP, it doesn't matter what you drive, the appeal of a certain gentleman is universal.

MotoGP, it doesn’t matter what you drive, the appeal of a certain gentleman is universal.

The GT4 Challenge cars line up with the Dutch GTs in one of the Spa 24hr support races.

The GT4 Challenge cars line up with the Dutch GTs in one of the Spa 24hr support races.

Our view from the truck of the Spa 24hr, what a mega place.

Our view from the truck of the Spa 24hr, what a mega place.

Rally Ypres, cuts plus sump guards equals sparks.

Rally Ypres, cuts plus sump guards equals sparks.

Rally Ypres, the locals were fully lit for the whole event.

Rally Ypres, the locals were fully lit for the whole event.

Freddie Liox using as little of the road as possible

Freddie Liox using as little of the road as possible

Silverstone, Moto 2, a field of utter, utter lunatics.

Silverstone, Moto 2, a field of utter, utter lunatics.

Scott Redding on his way to winning the Silverstone round of Moto 2

Scott Redding on his way to winning the Silverstone round of Moto 2

The Doctor at Silverstone, biggest cheers of the weekend.

The Doctor at Silverstone, biggest cheers of the weekend.

Local hero Cal Crutchlow flying through Becketts.

Local hero Cal Crutchlow flying through Becketts.

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Some Road Racing at last!

August 16, 2010

SOME ROAD RACING, AT LAST!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have probably read about me going to Northern Ireland over the weekend to watch the Ulster Grand Prix. This is a huge deal for me, firstly because due to university or work commitments, I haven’t been able to get to the TT for years, and secondly because Irish Road Racing has to be seen to be believed. I went to the races with a mate, who’s family live in Tandragee, home to the renowned Tandragee 100 road race. They actually live on the same housing estate as TT legend Phillip McCallen, we drove past his house! It’s safe to say that the local community is totally integral to the running of the events, the local papers are full of info and the marshalls are locally sourced. It creates a wonderful atmosphere.

The TT and UGP are both essentially motorbikes tear arsing down closed, public roads. The distinction is that the TT is against the clock, whereas in the UGP (and other Irish road races) the riders are physically racing for position, oh and it’s mental. As at the TT, I’m always gobsmacked by the commitment on show. I think to myself, yes, they’re professional nutcases, but surely you can’t ride a 180bhp sportsbike at ten tenths down narrow B roads? But then they come screaming past, hard on the brakes, the rear wheel snaking around beneath the rider, barely kissing the tarmac, with the slipper clutch getting a battering as they stamp down the gears. Every lap is like this, even the privateers are awe inspiring in their bravery and skill.

A couple of 250s over Deer's Leap

We were stood no more than 10ft from the track at any time, getting so close is sure a rare event these days and it only adds to the thrill. We were in amongst groups of local lads (most of which were well in to their Buckfast or tins of lager by 10am) but everyone was very friendly and chatty. As you can expect, there was plenty of beautiful roadbikes lining the roads, parking where ever they could.

The lads next to us, see, Buckfast & Tinnies, good craic.

Photographic this event has a real challenge, panning needed to be incredibly quick and we were lucky with the weather being so bright so I could keep the shutter speed nice and quick. Initially, I was feeling quite cocky. On the Superstock sighting lap (race 1), I had my eye in by the time the last few bikes came though. I was feeling pretty confident as they really seemed ‘on it’ for a sighting lap. Then they came through on lap one at full tilt.

Oh. My. God.

What I thought was quick before was absolutely blown in to the weeds. The bikes were coming through so much faster, it was harder to comprehend. I had to quickly sort myself out and recalibrate, the races are only 7 laps at most, so I wouldn’t have that many opportunities to catch the top guys on camera. I’ve never panned so fast in my life, it was quite good exercise, but I probably looked a bit special while I was doing it.

My favourite rider, Guy Martin on a retro liveried Honda

Another feature that impresses about this type of racing is the variety of machines that the riders will compete on, in the same day. From 250s right up to the full fat Superbikes, some riders were very busy, but still quick in every class, incredible when the margins for error are so narrow, as you can see below, bales anyone?

Ian Hutchinson on an installation lap believe it or not!

With a sport this dangerous, there’s quite often serious accidents. This year a bike went off in the Superstock race and hit two spectators. The rider and one of the spectators are stable, with the other in a critical condition. I wish them all the best. Overall it was a brilliant event, the weather was nothing short of glorious, bar a short cloudy spell in the afternoon. The action was spectacular and cheap to watch. I got over there via BMI baby for £52 return so it can be a relatively cheap trip and I thoroughly recommend it. It will redefine what you think ‘fast’ is. Few more photos to finish? Why not, full set is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/38587975@N00/sets/72157624611580775/

Eyes wide open!

Just stumbled across this from 2006:

Confessions of a negligent Motorcyclist

August 11, 2010

Forgive me Honda, for I have sinned.

There was a spate of ‘Automotive Confessions’ on Twitter yesterday. Most concerned people admitting to owning terrible cars or bikes, and indeed paying over the odds for said abominations. So this got me thinking, do I have any Automotive skeletons in my closet? Turns out I do, but not in terms of owning vehicles considered to be lacking in any kind of merit. My confession is one of the crippling and ultimately terminal  neglect of one of my vehicles. I’ve killed…

A little background. I passed my motorbike test in 2002 on my first bike, a Suzuki GS125 which I’d owned since I was 17. When doing your motorbike test (I think this is still the case) you can either do it on a 500cc ‘big bike’, or a 125cc. If you pass on a big bike you can then go out and buy any bike you like, without any restrictions. If you pass on a 125, like I did, you are restricted to a bike of 33bhp or less, for a period of two years. A lot of people buy a middle sized bike, like a Suzuki SV650 and fit a 33bhp restrictor, which you can then remove, once your probation is completed. I however was skint and couldn’t afford a ‘proper’ bike so I trawled the classifieds for a bike that had less than 33bhp as standard. This invariably meant, small and old if it was to be cheap. I struck gold, £290 got me a low mileage 1983 Honda CB250 RS. The RS bit sounded good so I went for it. This had 28bhp, good(ish) handling and, being a Honda single cylinder, was bulletproof. I fell in love with this bike, it felt so much faster than my 125, it would do an indicated 80 mph with one’s chin on the petrol tank. I went everywhere on it as it was my only form of transport, great times.

Exactly the same as my RS, only in much better nick

Fast forward to July 2005, I’m at the end of my 2nd year at university and I have landed a summer placement at the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) in Coventry. The MCIA is a  motorcycle industy body, involved in the promotion and safeguarding of motorcycling in the UK, great dissertation fodder. The MCIA had a pool of press bikes on hand, kindly provided by the likes of Triumph, Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda. One of my roles was to pick up a brand new, all black R6 from Yamaha UK in Weybridge. So I pootled down all the way from Coventry to pick up this bike on my little Honda which, even on the motorway, performed admirably. University meant no money, so I couldn’t upgrade from my 250, even though my two years were up.

The R6 I picked up from Yamaha UK, incredible.

I hopped on the R6 and frankly, after an intimidating start, had some of the best fun of my life on that bike, it was mental. I don’t buy in to this ‘600s are for girls’ bollocks that is spouted by certain sportsbike riders, it was hilariously fast, but I digress. So, my time with the R6 came to an end, and I blasted back to Yamaha UK to drop it off and collect my RS. Compared to the R6, it felt like it was about to fall apart, even dangerous but eventually we got to know each other again. On the ride home however, it didn’t feel as powerful as I remembered. I put this down to having just gotten off a bike with roughly 90bhp more, so continued on my merry way. Just before I got on to the M25, I stopped, the bike just didn’t feel right, it was very sluggish to rev, ignoring any R6 comparisons. I unscewed the oil filler cap, which sat conviniently on the top of the crankcase. Upon doing this, little whisps of white smoke came floating out and I thought to myself, ‘ooh, that smells a bit hot’. Yes, I know, this should have rung alarm bells but as I’d never opened the filler cap on the bike when the engine was hot I didn’t see this as an issue *facepalm*

I pressed on.

Just as I passed Prodrive at Banbury on the M40, it happened. Revs dropped dramatically, BANG, then a chirp from the rear tyre as it locked, whip the clutch in and coast. It had seized. It then dawned on me, I had run the thing out of oil. I couldn’t remember the last time I had checked the oil, let alone topped it up, poor thing. I phoned a mate, who came with a van to pick me up. It was clearly destroyed, it would freewheel even when in gear, no compression owing to the massive hole that the valve punched through the top of the piston.

My dad is an automotive mechanical engineer, when I got home and told him what had happened I could tell he was ashamed. His eldest had royally knackered a bike through neglect and lazyness that would have lasted for years more. That said, let’s look at the positives, my little Honda did the thick end of 70 miles with no oil in it, now that’s build quality.

So there it is, my confession, but I’ve learnt from it. Let’s just say I’ve checked my oil levels very closely ever since.