Posts Tagged With: moto blog

My Life In Bikes 2 – Kawasaki GT550

Foff to germanyolk always go on about what your first proper bike was, as if there is some magical cut off point between what is or is not worthy of being called a motorbike. For me, my first proper bike was the CB100n. My next bike, the one you need a full licence to ride, the one which everyone in my family remembers, was a Kawasaki GT550. Actually, according to the log book it was a Z550GT but the side panel said GT550 and that’s what everyone calls it.ang and jake.2

I remember it just as fondly as everyone else. Thanks to its shaft drive, huge range and comfy seat, it was the perfect touring bike for a young mechanic in the army who hadn’t yet seen the light when it came to faired motorcycles. Between us, we traipsed around Germany and the Netherlands, usually wet through and every so completely lost. The air cooled, four cylinder, detuned Z750 motor was a peach, just as long as it got decent petrol. As I remember it, the GT550 loved to carry weight too. Ang and I went two up camping where it was just as happy as it was carrying just me. In fact, I’ve never found a mule like it, though my Vstrom comes close.

bikes 012Again, it wasn’t perfect. Being naked, hanging on, on the autobahn, was hard work, especially in the inevitable rain. We fell out with each other when it left me stranded when the CDI unit blew out somewhere outside of Amsterdam. There were problems with condensation in the winter thus you felt compelled to change the engine and shaft oil much more often as it quickly turned an unpleasant shade of cream.bikes 010

But I loved it and admonished myself for selling it. Leaving the army to be a poor student, I’d assumed I’d not have the money to keep it. As it turned out, I quickly found a reasonable part time wage driving coaches so could have kept running it. If I had, who knows, the rest of history would probably have been very different. I’d happily have one again, for old time’s sake and sunny days, even if it does come with too many cylinders to be a real bike.

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Christmas Cheese Run 2014

Well, it’s been ages since I posted anything but we’ve been up to a fair bit. Ang passed her tests on the first go and I was informed of this by what is probably the worst quality selfie ever taken.

2014-12-14 14.50.10She then picked up her Guzzi which worked perfectly for her. Needles to say, I had to test ride it for her upon which the indicators (turn signals) went all funny in the wet. She rode it to Masham for her first little ride-out and it played up again, eventually not even starting without a push. As well as some poor peripheral wiring, Alan discovered the starter was stuffed so £300 later it was up and running again, in time for the Annual Christmas Cheese Run.

The cheese run was once a solo affair. It started 2012 when Ang told me I could have a few hours on my bike as long as I brought home cheese and biscuits. I took that to mean I had to ride all the way to the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes. I’ve been riding it alone as Kev, my oldest riding buddy, is allergic to winter. This year however, Jim had a bike and now even Ang did. AWESOME! We got us a ride out!

Jim tipped up on the day, his bike covered in tinsel. We had coffee and a joke about the Guzzi going ‘All Italian’ while dressing the VStrom in fairy lights.



With the two Jap bikes looking festive, I joked that we’d better check the Guzzi would start. Guess what. It didn’t. There was no buzz from the fuel pump and it was going nowhere. Ang was really upset: as in, there were tears. However she was determined to ride so we dragged out her old faithful (and no longer for sale) YBR125.

The ride out itself was nothing I haven’t done many times before, though we stayed on the main roads as the weather was decidedly sub-optimal (high winds, stronger gusts and lots of rain). We were ready for breakfast at the end of the first and longest leg from Harrogate to Settle though it seemed odd to me that no one went for a full English breakfast as has been traditional. Following breakfast, we followed Ribble up to Ribblehead where we stopped for pictures before continuing on to Hawes. The good people at the creamery provided coffee, scones, cheese tasting (that chilli cheese had a crazy kick) and didn’t seem to mind too much when we covered the radiators with wet kit. From there it was on to Masham for more coffee before heading home for tea and medals.

Cold and Wet but Having Fun

Cold and Wet but Having Fun

The two Yamahas performed faultlessly. Jim’s Fsomethingorother600 is just right for his purposes. Mind you, he can’t stop those long lingering looks when he sees a Triumph Tiger 800 wander past. As it sometimes does, my Suzuki wasn’t keen to restart when still warm and at high altitude. It’s a thing it does and if you open the throttle just right it will start. It certainly doesn’t scare me like it used to. The VStrom is still easily the best bike I’ve ever owned and now we have the Guzzi for a change of scene, I can’t see why I’d want anything other than my (fairly) trusty Wee.

The Guzzi on the other hand, having singularly failed to join us on Angie’s inaugural ‘proper’ ride out, was still broke when we got home. Fuel pumps for it are big money so I was very pleased when a certain amount of fiddling with connectors eventually brought it back to life. Since then, it’s been OK but I kind of feel like we’re never going to really trust it. It is a beautiful bike to look at and a fantastic bike to ride so it’s not for the chop just yet.

2014-12-23 15.57.11We won’t be selling the YBR125 though. After all, it’s the most reliable vehicle we own and without a doubt the cheapest to run. Call it ‘insurance.’ Actually I really like that little YBR so I’m kinda glad it’s staying, even if we could really do with the money.

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