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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Honda Varadero - So Far So Good!

Now that I have the Varadero back, all seems well and she appears to be running sweetly.

No signs of any of the previous problems, so I am hoping that the problems have been solved for good.

I have only been doing the commute to work and back, but she starts and sounds as she should, and I am now feeling a lot more comfortable with her.

With Christmas out of the way, and the New Year just around the corner we need to start planning our trip to Italy!

There are a few modifications I would like to do to the bike and I have started to amass basic spares for the trip.

For Christmas I was given a new Honda rectifier, clutch cable, mirror extenders and a brace bar which goes between the handlebars so I can fit the satnav in a more convenient position.

Unfortunately I cannot get the brace bar to fit, (pics to follow and an explanation as to why).

I then tried the mirror extenders, according to ebay they are correct for the year and model, but guess what? Yep, they don't fit either!

Not doing to well so far!

Obviously I cannot check the rectifier or clutch cable, fingers crossed that if I ever need them they are correct!

Other news but not directly related to the bike is that I have finally got around to updating my laptop. So I am now tapping away at a dogs bollocks Toshiba Satellite!

Although my little note book did me proud and was great for trips away due to it's compact size it was just not able to cope with video production which is something I want to try.

I have a GoPro 4 and the plan is to start a YouTube channel. Having the correct tools to do the job is half the battle, the other half is being able to operate them!

I have mounted the camera to the front of the bike and so far the view is great, but yet to test it fully. As soon as I have and taken some decent footage I will post it up.

So that's a wrap for 2015, a couple of little trips away, a bike licence and a grown up bike bought. It's been a busy year.

2016 will be just as busy with a wedding and a trip to Italy planned. Can't wait.

The journey continues............

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bike Into Garage and Multiple Break Downs

After my 400 mile plus round trip to Cornwall and back, the Varadero was in need of a bit of tlc.

I had a sneaky suspicion that I had a brake fluid leak, but could not confirm this and there was a rattle when I was in 1st and 2nd gears.

With a day off I had told the dealership I was coming in and set off. Less than 5 minutes from my house the bike died on me.

It was if it just got sluggish, and was slowly being starved of fuel.

I knew there was at least 10 litres in the tank so I knew I had not run out.

Time to call out the AA. They arrived with in 30 minutes and the bike started as soon as the AA man tried it! Sods law. However, he said he was happy to follow me all the way to the dealers just to make sure I got there safely.

5 minutes down the road, it died again. The battery was low so he gave it a 10 minute boost, the bike started and we limped the last 14 miles to the dealership.

They gave me a replacement bike, a Kawasaki ER5 a 500cc single cylinder machine which had seen better days. Even with my short legs I struggled to find it comfortable as the pegs were really high up.

But, a set of wheels is a set of wheels and at least it kept me mobile.


A couple of days later I managed to finish work early and set off back to the dealers to collect the Varadero.

I was told that an exhaust clamp was missing, one was loose and another rusted through, so all were replaced. So that was what the rattling was all about!

The reason it was cutting out or dying was that an earth lead was shorting out, which was draining the battery and making it run like a dog.

The brakes on investigation were absolutely fine and there was nothing to worry about at all.

So imagine my surprise that after driving for less than 2 minutes away from the dealership the bike died on me!

A phone call and 5 minutes later they arrived in a van and took me back!

Sod's law once more, when unloaded it started fine and ran fine. I set off again, but after 20 minutes I was once more with a dying bike!

Not impressed by all of this, they came out with a van and a replacement bike. This time a Suzuki Bandit S 600cc. 

Loaded up the Varadero which left me looking rather nervously at the Bandit! They have a reputation as being a bit of a Hooligan I was unsure how I would get on with it. Especially as when I started it and revved it up it was rather responsive to say the least! Plus it was tipping it down with rain. A fast revvy bike, rain and a novice rider is not a good mix!

However, to be honest I fell in love with the bike, I found it incredibly easy to ride, comfortable and being able to put both feet flat on the ground was a real bonus.



If I did not need such a big bike for touring and all I needed was a commuter type bike, then this would be the one. Good on fuel, immense acceleration and looking good.

I had this bike for a week, and it was a joy to ride. It was a shame that I only had one dry run on it, so could not really open it up and enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

Compared with the Varadero it was so light! Easy to move around all though the steering lock I found when getting it in and out of the garage was worse than the Varadero which was a surprise.

Finally I get my Varadero back, with a new fuel pump and a new battery. 

I rode home, a little nervous that I may break down again, but I need not of worried

Once more in heavy rain I made my way home, happy that all seemed to be working as it should.

I got home and attached my panniers and top box, she looks a little naked with out them.

Back to work tomorrow and the 8 mile trip in, lets hope she runs fine in the morning.

The journey continues...........

Road Trip To Cornwall And Storm Desmond

With a couple of days off I decided to visit my friends who live in Cornwall, Praa Sands to be precise.

They have just finished renovating their house and this was the first time I've seen it completed. Last time I was there it was a shell.

I decided to do a circular route, on the way down I would travel over Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor and on the way back up and over the Tamar Bridge.

I was only going for the one night, ride down, a few beers, ride back the next day. I had the panniers on and all my gear stowed away. I did not bother with the tank bag.

So off I set, leaving at 1000hrs as I wanted to miss the works traffic through Bournemouth. This I did and had an easy run down to Dorchester, which is where it started to get a little damp.

By the time I had crossed the Dorset/Devon border the weather had turned for the worst and it was a persistent drizzle.

Going through Exeter and up over Dartmoor it really started to get nasty. Heated grips on and keeping my hands warm.

Little did I realise that this was Storm Desmond. It did some real damage up in Cumbria and the Lake District. Down here it was just blowing a gale.

Side winds were an issue, even with such a heavy bike as the Honda Varadero I was being blown all over the place.

The Metzler tyres working over time to displace water and keep me upright, which they did an amazing job!

I stopped for a brew and a bite to eat at the Hog and Hedge on the A30, and was soon on my way again once I had topped up the fuel tank.

Now, at this point I had all ready thought the weather was bad, but nothing could prepare me for the next part of my journey across Bodmin Moor!

To say it was evil was an understatement, gusting wind, rain falling so hard I could not see, rivers of water on the road. This was the stuff that nightmares are made of!

Some how I managed to make it through and as I neared Penzance it eased off a bit, but only a bit!

I pulled up at Praa Sands, with my kit dripping, but remarkably my inner layers were bone dry, including my feet. My W2 boots having to work overtime to cope with the amount of water.

I was glad to arrive in one piece, and after a hot shower was more than ready for a couple of beers.

Nothing to mad as Sharon and Tom both had to work the next day and I had to ride home.

So after a bite to eat in the Sand Bar, which is just a couple of minutes walk from their house and a couple of pints we ambled back to their house just after 1900hrs.

Funny that the next time we looked at the clock it was 0320hrs, a bottle of Morgans Spiced Rum and a bottle of Lambs Navy Rum lay empty and we were very merry!

As you can imagine, I was not in a fit state to get up early and head back and finally bid my farewell around lunch time.

The journey back was damp in places with some gusts of wind wanting to knock me around, but other wise a non eventful journey back.

I stopped at the Route 38 Cafe on the A38 for a late lunch then ploughed on. Here I was subjected to Chris Rea and "Driving Home For Christmas" 3 times whilst I ate!

I say that my journey home was non eventful, but there were two little niggling thoughts in my head.

The bike has a small box on the handle bars with a tiny window which shows the level of brake fluid in it's reservoir. I could not see a bubble as you are supposed to be able to and I thought that I had a brake fluid leak. Even though the brakes felt firm and strong.

My other concern was that I had a rattle, down in 1st and 2nd gear. I don't have enough knowledge to be able to pinpoint exactly where it was coming from, so it had me a tad nervous to say the least.

I finally got home, nursing the bike due to the two issues and was mightily relieved to turn into my street.

Tired, well in fact exhausted if I was honest. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, even with all the problems. 

I did not take any pictures, it was simply to wet to get my phone or camera out.

Next thing is to get the bike into the garage for a once over!

The journey continues.........