Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Cafe Racers at The Cove

The good folk on the Scottish Cafe Racer page on Facebook organise casual meet-ups a few times a year. The most recent one was at The Cove, a cafe in Queensferry under the span of the Forth Bridge. As it was only about a half hours ride from where I live in East Lothian, and as it was a pleasantly sunny evening, I thought I'd pop along for a look.

Not everyone turned up on something which could be classed as a "cafe racer", but still  there were still enough interesting machines for folk to have a look at and chat to their owners. A cup of tea and a bacon roll could also be had from the cafe while you were doing so.

Here are a few of the more interesting bikes to turn up.

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Away Days

First trip on the new bike. So, packed and off to the ferry to Belfast, a port I haven't used for nearly 20 years.
Ailsa Craig on the horizon
There were a goodly number of bikes on this crossing, including a number of huge Indians and Triumph Rocket IIIs, which simply dwarfed the Speedy. 

Not feeling in any way inadequate at all
The trip over was uneventful other than being loaded dead last onto the ferry at Cairnryan, something I've never had happen in all the years I've been travelling. Normally they like to get the bikes on and secured first, which often means we can get away quickly once we dock at the other end. Not so this time. More of an inconvenience than a complaint, I'd maybe not be so blasé about it if I'd been kept waiting in the rain for over half an hour while everyone else got on ahead of me, though.

They do say that MZ riders need a sense of humour
The rally itself is technically organised as an MZ Riders Club event, but no one is particularly precious about that and you are made more than welcome whatever mode of transport you arrive on and folk bring whatever they happen to be riding at the time. 

I was particularly taken with the ex-police Velocette LE 200 'Noddy Bike'. It had come a long way on what turned out to be its maiden trip after an oily rag restoration. Not too sure if I'd have been too keen on taking a 60 year-old 200cc machine onto the motorway. I was feeling insecure enough about being on the smallest bike I've ridden in years at 865cc.

Royal Enfield Himalayan
Anyway, the weekend proceeded much as these things do. Eating, drinking, catching up with friends old and new, and riding around the Irish countryside, weather permitting. 

Music at the holiday centre and in the pub was provided courtesy of those who had brought their instruments with them. The pub is used to this after all the years we've been coming. It saves them putting on their own entertainment, I suppose.

And all too soon it is time to pack up and head back to the ferry for the return trip.

On the ferry home we bumped into a couple of lads from London with their teenage sons in tow riding huge BMWs and planning on a road trip with a little wild camping thrown in and taking in the west coast of Scotland, out to Orkney and Shetland, before heading home down the east coast. Originally jealous, the horrible weather in the week since has changed to relief that I wasn’t doing it.

So, overall impressions of the new bike on this its first real test? 

Well, it's actually quite comfortable after you get used to it, but I'm definitely going to need some sort of screen if I plan on using the bike for longer journeys. While never overly uncomfortable, the constant wind in your face and chest make riding any distance quite tiring. 

Acceleration and speed were a bit of a disappointment at first. It's a cruiser after all and isn't intended to win many races. I've since discovered that its output is actually capped, so top speed is about 95mph at a push, though speed is not its selling point, making the name a bit of a misnomer. 

It’s also a bit snatchy at low speeds and around town so I’m looking into changing the front sprocket to a larger one to partly compensate for this as I reckon the gap between first and second gear is a bit too large as it stands.

Ground clearance is an issue and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve grounded the footpegs on corners. I’ll doubtless get used to it but bumping it up a kerb is a definite no-no as I’d likely rip the underslung oil filter right off. Bad enough to hear it scrape a little putting it away into the shed.

The leather tank bib thing was useless, so I've removed it and bought a small magnetic tank-bag to hold things I’d like to hand instead, and I've relocated the sat-nav from its original location near the clutch lever to a mount through the top handlebar clamp to position it more in my line of sight.

Overall, though, I enjoyed its first major outing and after making a few further adjustments it should be ready for the bigger trip later on in the month.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Happiness Is...

Happiness is: unexpectedly coming across a long stretch of road that has just recently been re-surfaced and hasn't a single imperfection or ripple on it. 

Monday, 10 June 2019


Not satisfied with a naked cruiser I immediately set about tweeking it a little to make it more suitable for longer trips away. To that end it would need some luggage, and possibly a screen if I was going to use it for holidays and/or motorcycle rallying.

As coincidence would have it, an ad on a local bulletin board was advertising some suitable bits and pieces. I ended up buying a brand-new sissy-bar/backrest that I could strap stuff to and hopefully not have it fall off the back, a spare set of unused silencers, and a curious leather tank bib with a pocket on it which may or may not come in useful for money for tolls etc. They had all been removed from a brand new bike and replaced with aftermarket parts. The owner had recently sold his bike on and was now clearing out the unnecessary bits he no longer had any use for. The silencers went into stock for future use and sissy-bar and tank bib were duly fitted. Looked good, I must admit.

Next up, I needed something to carry stuff in. As I have about six sets of decent hard panniers already, I first tried to find a fitting kit for some of these. Those available were extremely expensive and, more importantly, looked horrible when fitted to a cruiser. So, a rethink was in order.

In the end I settled for some soft canvas panniers which looked better and were relatively inexpensive. Although they are advertised as waterproof, I added a couple of small canoe dry-sacks to ensure the contents were kept dry. To keep them from fouling the rear wheel a set of guard rails were acquired. With everything fitted it gave me carrying capacity and still looked the part.

Now I was all ready for the bike’s first serious trip to Ireland in a couple of weeks.