Quick Update on the SV

So far I have the carbs working smoothly again after cleaning and lubing all the linkages. Throttle and clutch cables seem fine, as do the fuel lines.

I have ordered a vacuum hose kit from SV-Bits – as syncing the SV carbs is notorious for limited access to the front carbs vac nipple. This simple kit extends both vac points to be easily accessible under the tank and is a doddle to fit while you happen to have the carbs off.

Further plans for Feb include:

  • Proper clean of the bike
  • Replace broken dash bulbs, probably with LED units to ensure long life
  • Valve clearance check
  • Service including all filters

That should get me ready to rock. It will probably need a new rear tyre too before long, the current one has had a few too many motorway miles and has squared.

SV650 Overhaul Begins

2 weeks ago I moved house. For the first time ever, I have a garage :-) .

SV overhaul begins

So its time to overhaul my SV650, which has done 33,000 miles – 24,000 of them with me riding it. It has spent 3 years out in the wind and the rain, with only essential maintenance. I have kept it serviced and it has done me proud – the only mechanical failure it has ever had was a snapped clutch cable.

So its now in my garage, tank and plastics off ready for some TLC before spring and the chance to do more epic trips.

Motorcycle Test Part 2

This post is a long time overdue. On the 17th of September 2009, I passed part 2 of the Direct Access (DAS) Motorcycle test.

I’m a very happy bunny now – I am entitled to go out and buy whatever bike takes my fancy (and that I can insure :-( )…..

The test itself went well – I was stressed totally in the run up to it but made it through. The most interesting aspect is that the examiner did my test while following in a car. This was unexpected! Apart from dropping him a bit when accelerating into a 60mph limit it was all fine. One advantage being there is often a car between you and him – lessening the pressure of close observation. The only manoeuvres left in the test are pulling out from behind a parked car and a hill start – everything else is in the Motorcycle test Part 1.

I struggled with 1 junction – I’m never sure if I should wait for a gap big enough for the examiner to get out into or just to ride normally. In this case I realised I was hesitating and just got on with riding normally.

After a 30 or so minute ride taking in some of Harrogate town centre and some national limit roads, we returned to the test centre and I was told I had passed. I got a single minor for observation.

So there we go – L plates removed and time to go buy a bigger bike.

Motorcycle test part 1

2 Weeks ago I took and passed part one of my Direct Access (DAS) motorcycle test. This is the new test that received a lot of medai attention and took well over a year longer than planned to roll out.

The entire test takes place in a specialised test centre, off the road. Its like an advanced CBT, but requires more space as two components involve speeds of 30mph plus – the emergency stop and the swerve. This test removes the need for some elements of the on road (part 2) test – the emergency stop and U-Turn are dealt with along with pushing the bike, using the stand, slow riding, a slalom and a figure eight.

I did the test on a 500cc bike to enable me to go straight into a full licence. Training wise I did 4 2 hour sessions of training with 3d Motorcycle training of Harrogate plus a half day on the road to get used to the bike a little more. Its was all about clutch control and balance for me as I have become lazy and tend to use my feet where I end up going slowly. I also did a lot of U-Turn and figure 8 practice on the 125 to supplement.

I passed with no minors ;-) . I had to redo the Swerve as my first attempt clocked 49kmh – the minimum is 50. Attempt number 2 was dead on the 50 – so a pass. The swerve is nothing severe – perhaps moving 1m to the right at 30mph and then correcting back onto your original line. I would say it simulates the kind of avoidance you would quite realistically have to perform should a car edge out in front, or a pedestrian or a car door opening etc. To have a problem you really would have to brake hard while steering – but thats not stopped broken arms already! Those taking the test on 125cc bikes have to accelerate quite hard to hit the required speed in the available space as well.

Next up is 3 more days of on road lessons and a part 2 on road test. Then I can buy a big bike!

Motorcycle Commuting

I have now been commuting 20 miles each way to work on a 125cc motorcycle for about a month now. I have come to some conclusions:

  • It’s cheap – 110mpg
  • It’s fast – filter through the traffic
  • It’s more fun

What I really wonder about is why so few people use motrobikes to commute. Travelling in South East Asia recently you see huge numers of motorcycles – Vietnam has very very few cars but millions of little Hondas. I’m saving money, the enviroment and also saving all the lazy people in cars a bit of time as I’m not making the queues 5m longer.

First of all here are the rough costs:
Bike: £400 for a 2000 Suzuki GS125 – simple, reliable and capale of doing 70mph flat.
Clothes: £100 odd for second hand Leathers, boots new gloves and a cheapo rain suit.
Luggage: £50 for a waterproof rucksack and a simple magnetic tankbag.
Helmet: £50 for a basic flip front lid.
Insurance: £110 for the bike in Harrogate.
CBT: £80 for a days training.
So thats less than £1k all up, and the bike should fetch most of what I paid when I sell it.

Running Costs, Weekly, 40 miles per day, 99.9p for unleaded
Car (1992 Golf GTI) – 32mpg = £27.90 in fuel
Bike (Suzuki GS125) – 110mpg = £8.25 in fuel
Thats a big saving of £19.65 per week, or £943 for 48 weeks per year of work. That covers the full cost of the bike and equipment after year one of commuting – including tax (£15), training and insurance. In year 2, the savings would be around £800. The bike needs servicing every 2500 miles – a liter of oil, a filter and some mechanical checks cost the DIY mechanic around £10, so thats abig saving as well.

There’s more to come on this issue. One of the major concerns is horrible weather. Thus far my water proofs have been fine, but the purchase of a nice waterproof / warm / protective suit will be nice before winter. I’m also interested to see how economical the XJ600 I have my eye on will be on my commute.