My Life In Bikes

My Life in Bikes 8 – Suzuki DL650 VStrom

2012-08-01 20.55.41I had a bit of time so I thought I should probably add something to the blog. Having recently sold my VStrom, it figured I should probably just write it’s entry for the My Life in Bikes series. It certainly earned it’s place.

I came to the  Vsrom after a fantastic road trip with my brother, swopping  back and forth between his Suzuki SV650 sport and BMW K75RT. I loved the SV’s stonking power delivery but it didn’t convert me to the sport bike world. The BMW on the other hand, was more appealing right up the the Lancashire Border 4 Bike Down Valleymoment it shredded it’s clutch splines somewhere in a Pennsylvania Forrest.

On my return to the UK, I started looking for something to replace the YBR250 I had. I wanted a midsize tourer but hadn’t even come across the VStrom so didn’t even know that engine was already in an adventure tourer. When I came across one in a showroom, it was a done deal.

The DL650, the less powerful but fantastic sibling of the DL1000, is affectionately known as the WeeStrom. Ours was crossing the border into Scotland withing month of us owning it so it gained the name, Wee Hamish.

2012-08-01 20.55.41In fact, in Scotland, two up touring, that bike was in it’s element. It had plenty of grunt and long legs on the motorway. At the same time, it was fantastic fun and brillient on the twisty roads of Yorkshire, our home playground. The Vstrom is known for budget suspension but I assure you, that bike was the best handling bike I’ve ever owned. On good tyres and technical roads, my friends sportier bikes seldom stayed with me. It was comfortable too. Sore bum came eventually as it does on anything but a sofa with handlebars. The upright riding position and fairing were perfect for long days in the saddle.

2013-02-14 20.34.24As with any bike, there are downsides. The Wee’s Achilles heal is, without a doubt, brakes. They simply couldn’t cope with winter. Whenever the gritters started spreading their corrosive horribleness all over the roads, my callipers would begin to bind. I’d be putting new seals and pistons in every year and eventually having to replace both front callipers, forcing me to lay it up for the winter and depend on the YBR125 for commuting.

That was part of the reason I sold it but not the only reason. It was a big bike taking up a lot space in our garage but we weren’t using its size all that often. Ang had passed her test but wasn’t tall enough to ride it where as she could ride the Moto Guzzi Breva, a bike I have a massive soft spot for. The VStrom simply didn’t offer anything we need but was using up resources.

Then, the weekend before it went, I took it for a ride. I was enjoying it I was loving it. I was having second thoughts, almost. However, as we climbed a steep hill on a sharp bend, I met a farm vehicle coming the other way and had to stop across the slope. I’ve always found the VStrom a little tall so with the ground just a little bit further away, I lost my ballance and down we went. It was a sign. It was time to part ways.2015-04-19 09.28.30

I’ll miss that bike. One day, when I’m richer and in need of something with touring intentions, I’ll certainly be looking at a Glee first, assuming I’m unable to own what I really want, a big Guzzi.

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My Life in Bikes – Honda CB100N

You always remember you first, right? It’s a fair wee while ago now so, what I do remember is potentially inaccurate. There are pictures on old hard drives and feint memories stored in my mind.bikes 017

It was my first ever bike. I bought the Honda CB100n, from a girl I fancied back in my school days, for a few hundred quid. Knowing me, I probably paid too much. The tiny blue Honda came with a name too. Yoshi was around as old as I was and I loved it.

Of course, having bought it, I then had to get a licence for the thing. By then I was old enough to go straight for a full licence on Christmas leave. Once back at work, a gun fitter I worked with (he rode an Enfield India Bullet 350) told me I wouldn’t want to keep it after riding the ER5 for the test. “You’ll feel like your riding a plank,” he told me. Seems like a pot calling the kettle black situation coming from an Enfield rider. It turns out he was wrong anyway.

old pic scansI was happy to cut my teeth on that tiny bike. It was the only bike I ever owned that I exclusively maintained myself. It took me from Catterick to Harrogate and back 3 or 4 days a week for a year or so. That was a fair distance but you hardly ever needed to put fuel in the thing. I was younger, fitter and more immune to hardship so I didn’t see any reason to not ride it for miles and miles. I even took it a little further north on a few occasions.

Though I’d love to have one in my dream garage for nostalgic reasons, it had it’s limitations. It was good for 50mph max cruising speed. Faster than that and you’d probably fry the motor. The 6 volt electrical system made riding back to camp in the wee small hours more than a little tricky. Though it had pillion pegs, the only time I ever remember using them was to give a lift to a very drunk corporal a short distance back to the barracks.

It was reliable enough for a very old bike. I had to do some work on the dodgy cable operated front brake calliper. Other than that you just had to adjust the tappets and contact breakers from time to time then choke on, boot on the starter and kick it into life.bikes 011

Of course, all things come to and end. This one hung around for a while though. After I bought my first big bike, I still didn’t want to get rid of it. Yoshi stayed with a friend for a while, and then found it’s way back into dad’s garage. Eventually however, my parents made it clear it couldn’t clutter up their garage any longer. Eventually I let it go free to a good home. I hope they enjoy it as much I did.

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My Life In Bikes – Preamble

I found myself trawling though old blog posts this morning, trying to find if I’d ever had much to say about a bike I owned a few years back. There was barely a mention of it. In fact, there was little mention of most of my biking history.

Why was I looking? For several days I’ve been talking to @bikesandtravels on twitter. It seems we share a preference for smaller motorcycles. He recently toured Scotland on his CBF125 and I’ve been riding the YBR125 around all winter and intend to use it for most of Autumn. He also has a CBF250 which is having ‘issues.’ I’ve had two 250s in the past and both had ‘issues.’ Something else we share I guess.

Anyway, somewhere in this conversation, it was suggested I should write about the Hyosung GT250 I owned some years ago. I thought I’d probably written something but, as I already mentioned, I hadn’t. There’s little mention of the Yamaha YBR250 I had when I started blogging either. And with little else to blog about, it seems perhaps a series of posts on the bikes I’ve owned over the years is in order.

I don’t really do reviews, probably because I don’t really read them when others do, usually preferring to check it out myself or speak directly to owners. I tend not to care about people’s kit or bike reviews because, all to often, they review kit they haven’t had very long. In doing this, I will be writing about things I haven’t had for a long time. They will, therefore, be tainted with that sort of instagram nostalgic filter we so often put on the past. Hopefully a good balance between fact and opinion will be found.

Right then, I’m off to find a picture of the old CB100. That was an awesome bike (there I go).

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