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My motorcycling part 3: Trophy

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    I have had a great deal of pleasure riding my Bonneville, and I have been using it in all weathers (except when there are icy roads). However, at my age (60 this year), I am not as tough as I was (or thought I was) in my late teens. Battling through wintry squalls does detract somewhat from the pleasure of riding.

    I have been seeing odd pictures and articles showing Triumph's Trophy. When I saw one in the flesh, it impressed me as a really good looking machine, with classic riding position and with weather protection.

    Reviews all say it is a good, all weather, mile eater, but is also a fun ride in the twisty bits (it is classed by some as a sports tourer). On the downside it has a chain drive, and is basically a ten year old design, including carburettors.

    I wanted a ride on a demonstrator. Pidcock's didn't have one, they said they were limited on how many demonstrators they could have, and the Trophy wasn't amongst those they had, but they gave me a quote for an exchange deal.

    Tried Powersports in Derby. They had a Trophy at their Clay Cross branch, and arranged to bring it to Derby for me to try.

    23/03/02: A run on a demonstrator was quite revealing. My first impression was of the wind buffeting my helmet. There was a vacuum effect pulling me forward which was no problem, but see later about the seat. I can best describe the performance as easy, that is anything I asked of it, it did easily. I was pleasantly surprised by the handling. But it was very heavy when stationary.

    The buffeting, I subsequently realised, was noticeable because of the total lack of any other adverse sensation. I also found that I was leaving my visor up at a considerably higher speed than I usually did. Back on the Bonneville there was still the same sort of buffeting, but masked by all the other wind noise and vibration that just did not exist with the Trophy.

    I didn't try out its performance, but did take it to 70 mph. Absolutely smooth and effortless - it obviously would be very easy to find yourself going considerably faster. I didn't try hard braking, but normal braking was smooth and progressive.

    I was expecting the handling to feel cumbersome compared with the Bonneville, the Trophy being heavier and with a higher centre of gravity. The reality was the reverse, it was much easier to steer, its weight totally masked even at walking pace. It went exactly where I wanted. It may be that it is less stable, I had an impression of twitchiness, but certainly not in the least bit worrying. Its weight could be felt coming to rest, when I had to be very careful of the balance as I put my feet down.

    It was much more comfortable, the suspension soaking up everything without any problem. The Bonneville suspension feels harsh in comparison.

    Whilst I was on the trial, the salesman wrote out a quote for me. This was nothing like as good a deal that Pidcock's had offered, but as it was written on a proper contract document, he had shut the door on any negotiation. Although feeling a little guilty about using the Powersports demonstrator, I went back to Pidcock's, and signed to exchange the Bonneville for a Trophy.

    29/03/02: Picked up the Trophy, then had to leave it in my garage over the long weekend because we'd arranged to go away (by car).

    My first impressions of my Trophy:

    I have grown used to the very smooth power delivery of the Bonneville, you feel very safe altering the throttle even in the middle of a slippery roundabout. The Trophy is much the same in this regard. There is still a lot to be said for carburettors!

    The seat on the Trophy isn't ideal. It would seem to be made for someone with a much larger backside than mine. It also slopes forward. I am used to knee grips on the tank which could alleviate the resultant tendency to slide forward. I am going to have to alter my riding style. However, the handlebar and footrest positions suited me, although I found myself leaning on the bars a bit. The seat is an inch higher than the Bonneville. Together with the added width, I can't flat foot both sides, but I can get the balls of my feet down together (I am 5'8" or 1.74m). Not ideal, but OK. I didn't feel insecure coming to rest, but have to be careful because of its high weight. I suspect footing it to manoeuvre will take some practice.

    Lights are much better than the Bonneville, forward vision is up to car standards at night.

    Other points of note: Good: Easy luggage removal; easily read instruments including fuel gauge and analogue clock; easily adjustable headlights; ignition key lockable glove boxes, saddlebags, seat, petrol filler; two stop/tail lights; two headlights (whether dipped or main);

    Not so good: Idiot lights too dim in daylight; wind noise;

    200 miles later:

    Decided to go with the seat and not fight it. This helps in three ways:

    1. Can't slide down seat (already at the bottom);
    2. Head lower and further forward, wind effects reduced;
    3. Distance to handlebars reduced, arms more comfortable;
    4. Can put more of my feet on the ground;

    There is a downside:
    1. Seat narrower, my weight not distributed as much;
    2. Legs more bent;
    3. Nearer source of heat;

    The gearbox sometimes appears to baulk on up changes. I think it's because I am not allowing the lever to come down far enough after the previous up shift. I may adjust the gear lever angle (simple enough to do).

    While we're on the gearbox, it has very close ratios, particularly fourth to fifth to sixth. I realise this is a gearbox that is common to Triumph's more racy machinery, but surely they can adapt it. The Bonneville has the same ratios but with fifth removed. Even this would suit the Trophy, but then, if they could put in a significantly higher sixth, say to give 25 mph per 1000 rpm (a real overdrive), the long motorway treks would be more economical and even quieter, with the bonus of a longer range.

    Talking about revs, I am having trouble with the running in instructions. After 100 miles I am allowed to rev it to 5000 rpm. The advice I have read on running in suggests building the engine speed up to the recommendations to ensure correct bedding in.

    The trouble is, I never want to rev it that much. There is so much torque I get all the performance I need (read "can handle") way below that. At 1000 miles, I will be able to use all 9000 rpm. I simply can't envisage ever wanting to.

    OK, so I don't need such a powerful bike. But then I don't actually need a bike at all. On the Trophy, a long trip is quite simply an experience that is pleasurable, reasonably comfortable, and as speedy as I want (and as the law allows), and I can still potter round the country lanes or experience some serious bend swinging on what I now find a superbly handling machine.

    First measured fuel consumption at 252 miles: 44.0 mpg (UK). I am a little disappointed, I was hoping for 50. It may improve with running in as my Bonneville did: at 220 miles that gave 50 mpg, it eventually improved to 58. A similar improvement would give 51, which would be nice. 44 gives an absolute range of 242 miles, 50 would give 275 miles. We shall see.

    I am getting a smell of petrol after a run, also the requirement for the choke is only a few seconds after starting. Maybe too much petrol is going through. It's due for its first service in a few days, I will ask the garage to look at this.

    After first service: They say can't find anything wrong (checked for leaks, idle running etc), and said for me to keep an eye on it. Subsequently I have not noticed anything, so either they did something that cured it during the service, or it cured itself.

    First trip on damp roads, kept things sensible, couldn't feel any difference from dry, but mustn't push it (it's all too heavy to do anything silly).

    Performance remains what I can best describe as awesome. I just have to "dial in" a speed, the bike simply responds. I am still not good at low speed manoeuvring, I am going to have to practise. The fuel consumption remains higher than I had hoped, I shall have to live with it.

    I may think about an after market saddle (Corbin?) for improved comfort. I would like to sit on one before any purchase! Need to find a dealer locally, the importers are in Swansea, Wales. I suppose a trip there is not out of the question. Swansea is about 184 miles from home.

    19/04/02: Tomorrow I do a 180 odd mile journey from home (Derby) to my brother's in Newick. That'll be interesting. I shall avoid motorways as much as reasonably possible. I start in Derby, follow the A6 until Luton, pick up the M1, go through central London, out on the A23 to South Croydon, then, depending on the weather and how I feel, either Purley and the A22, or Richard's Scenic Route (a delightful run through country lanes), either route leads to the A272 and Newick. I could find a prettier route north of London, but I don't want to get lost on this trip.

    Been there and back, this is how it went.

    On the trip down, I started on the A6 as intended. It was a very pleasant ride, early enough on a Saturday so that there wasn't too much traffic. Weather was sunny and reasonably cool; I took off my sweater layer leaving shirt and jacket.

    The ride went well, until A6 signs suddenly stopped, and I took the wrong direction to pick it up again. Still, no worries, a quick stop and map check showed I would hit the M1 sooner than I had intended.

    So, I continued onto the M1, and down into London, where I found heavier traffic than I had expected; by this time all the shoppers were out.

    The weather had warmed up, and I started spending quite long periods stationary (I am not prepared to filter through traffic at least for now).

    There were two very uncomfortable moments.

    One was when I was travelling down a right hand lane, with near stationary traffic in the left. A car (convertible, but with the top up!) driver decided to make a right hand turn, obviously totally unaware of my presence, and pulled out in front of me. I had to brake really hard, and because I haven't practised emergency stops, I put the front brake on too quickly, causing the front wheel to hop. Luckily for me I wasn't travelling too quickly and I was travelling straight. The bike forgave me, feeling remarkably stable. I missed the car's bumper by inches.

    The second, I was in a line of cars travelling at about 15 mph in the nearside lane. A car waiting to join this line from a turning on the right presumably saw a gap between the car in front of me and the one behind. The driver was obviously motorcycle blind, and maybe I wasn't in the right hand half of the lane. He pulled right across into my space; my reaction (totally instinctive, there was no time for thought), was to pull as far to the left as possible (towards the curb, away from his front), then to gun the throttle. I was expecting to hit the curb, and to be hit by the car. I don't know if he braked at all. I do know the car got very close. Thank goodness the bike had such good handling, throttle response and low speed torque.

    I later e-mailed the NZMSC about this - the subject was accelerating away from trouble. I added the comment:

    "I was obviously not taking sufficient notice of possible dangers, using this rolling traffic jam to relax (day dream?) after an arduous drive across a very busy London, so I should have been better prepared to avoid the drama. However, once the "incident" was happening, braking was not the appropriate action.

    "Further comment: The more I think about it the less I understand why I didn't see him start to pull out. Either I was fixating on the car in front, or I was looking in my left hand mirror at an inappropriate time. I hope I learned something from this!"

    As of 20/06/02 I've had no response.

    The bike was easy to ride in traffic. The engine never showed any effects of the heat, but I know it was getting hot, I could feel the hot air coming back from the radiator, presumably via the cooling fan. There was no change in idling or pickup (and, on later inspection, no loss of coolant). The only (mild) complaint is noticeable drive train backlash, probably mostly from the chain (the slack setting seems quite large).

    Having passed through London, I decided to use main roads to complete my journey, I was much later than I had expected.

    So I didn't use Richard's Scenic Route, just straight down the A22.

    Coming off one roundabout, I saw on the roadside a very battered motorcycle, its unfortunate rider sat on the grass verge. Stopping to see if he was OK, I almost fell off, my stopping being without thought, so I was still steering as I came to rest and nearly dropped it. The biker was OK. He told me he had had to alter his line because of a lorry pulling out in front of him, and he hit the curb. I would have liked to ask him about it further, I always want to increase my safety knowledge, like how near the limit was he, did he fixate on the curb. I expect he would not have appreciated such an interrogation, and, in any case, as I was talking to him, his rescue vehicle arrived, so I continued on my way.

    During the trip I had just three short stops. The one "comfort" stop I made at services on the M1. There a clergyman engaged me in conversation, he was a biker, asked me how fast the Trophy could go! I answered that I was still running it in so didn't know yet (said with tongue firmly in cheek, I shall never know the answer to that one!).

    I arrived at my destination after some 185 miles, and 5 hours 10 minutes in the saddle. Crossing London had been a real drag. I was not unduly tired, but my knees were a little stiff. I had no other ill effects. The stiffness in the knees was due to a combination of the forward position in the saddle, so lower and with knees more bent than they might have been, and my own age and (lack of) physical fitness. They recovered within a few minutes of getting off the bike.

    Much admiration from brother and sister-in-law. Brother used to ride a bike before I did, many moons ago. He also holds a private pilot's licence, and the next morning took his wife and me for a short flight - it's like motorcycling (you lean as you turn) but in three dimensions.

    That afternoon I set off for the return trip. I decided to go back by motorway as far as possible. Traffic was relatively light. After tanking up (a disappointing 42.8 mpg on the "down" journey - anything to do with London?), and once away from the local roads, the only times I had to go below 70 were on the M25 (variable speed limit at 60 for a few junctions) and some road works on the M1. I did 196 miles in 2 minutes under 3 hours, literally without stopping the bike once. The Trophy just soaked up miles. I had no "incidents" on the return trip (thank goodness). And, at the end, I was remarkably fresh, and would have happily gone much further. The Trophy really does consume miles quickly and effortlessly.

    24/04/02: Fuel consumption on the way back was 44.7 mpg. I actually filled with 20.83 litres after 205 miles. This should have required the use of the reserve (should be 5 litres in a 25 litre tank), but it didn't, so either I can squeeze more than 25 litres in, or the reserve is less than the book says. Until I run into the reserve, I can't tell. It does look like I shall remain disappointed with the fuel consumption, but not unexpectedly.

    It also occurs to me that the seat is better shaped than I realised, otherwise I would have felt more saddle sore than I did.

    I'm going to Mildenhall on Friday (26/04/02) evening, a 125 mile trip I've done several times on the Bonneville, a mixture of good dual carriageway and single lane roads. We'll see what it's like on the Trophy. The forecast is for rain on Sunday when I come back, I've only had good weather up until now, so we may see what it's like in the wet.

    The trip down showed once again what a superb tourer the Trophy is. The 125 miles took about 2 hours 10 minutes. The weather remained dry apart from a few drops of rain, the roads mostly drying from the showers that I was missing. This had no effect on my progress.

    The awareness we motorcyclists have to maintain was reinforced by two "events", one a car that cut me up exiting a roundabout, the driver took his mobile phone from his ear and waved it at me in some sort of apology. The other was a Land Rover towing a trailer overladen with large pieces of timber, it started weaving violently, ending up on the pavement, all three lanes of traffic braking heavily behind. Luckily I was not beside it.

    On the return journey, I stopped at wife's sister's house for Sunday lunch. On preparing to leave, rolled bike off its centre stand, it was promptly caught by a wind gust, and fell away from me. The indicator was broken, the footrest cracked near the hero peg, some coolant was lost from the reservoir, but no other significant damage except to my self esteem. I used insulation tape to hold the indicator together, and continued on my way.

    The wind was very blustery, causing the bike to rapidly lean at different angles. At no time did I feel unsafe, but I can imagine other drivers on the road might have thought it so. The bike is blown sideways, but presumable countersteers to keep itself on course, I had very little to do but hang on! It was a bit tiring, though.

    Did some investigation on riding in blustery winds with Allan Kirk of the New Zealand Motorcycle Safety Consultants (web here, (e-mail here) - isn't the internet a wonderful thing?). He suggests I must have been controlling the bike's countersteering requirements, basically it is not considered unsafe, and it's less easy to control going slowly. I am still not sure about me doing the controlling, but at least it's a known and not considered unsafe scenario.

    I've since written to him with more thoughts about the lean reducing grip as if in a corner, he says he may well pose the question in his newsletter to get more heads onto it.

    When the thunderstorm came (deep black clouds, beautiful lightning, wonderful thunder, very bright rainbow in my mirrors), the rain and hail caused no problem, the rain kept totally off my visor except some drops blown forward from the top of the helmet trickling down the front.

    The flow over my arms might allow some water down into my gloves, but I wasn't aware of my hands getting wet. The bike's road manners remained impeccable in the rain, although the roads weren't greasy and I wasn't pushing it.

    I did wonder about the obvious vulnerability of a motorcyclist in a thunderstorm, but as at the time I was passing through a village, the road in a dip with higher ground and houses either side, I decided I wasn't a likely lightning target. I hope that wasn't wishful thinking.

    Fuel consumption was a bit better on the out leg of my last trip, just over 46.1 mpg, but it only takes a slight difference in filling to get quite a large error in mpg, so I won't raise my hopes until a couple more fills.

    Fuel consumption coming back (plus some more local stuff) was a disappointing 43.4 mpg, still better than many reviews suggest, but so it should be with my style of riding.

    Changing the indicator required removing the side fairing. This needed something like sixteen screws to be removed, then another six to remove an inner cover! Changing the footrest was trivial in comparison, but it took Derby Powersports about six weeks to order one (I believe they were having personnel problems). I would like to know what all the bits hung off the footrest are for. I know about the "hero peg", but there is a plate underneath, screwed into the upper rubber with a spacer. Why?

    It's done over 1000 miles now, so I suppose it's officially run in. I haven't revved it anywhere near its maximum, and don't ever expect to. It will trickle happily at 1200 rpm, pulls very strongly from 2000 rpm, and attempts to pull my arms from their sockets at 5000 rpm in any gear that remains speed legal.

    The gear change has improved (or I am learning to use it better). I think I was initially overcompensating for engine speed difference.

    Using lots of throttle pulling out of a junction needs care; in the dry on a good road I have felt the back end drift, not worryingly so at the time, but on a more slippery surface it might get interesting. Note that "lots of throttle" translates as about "half throttle".

    The wind noise is something of an issue. I have used ear plugs, but the wind noise is still uncomfortable. I shall try some others.

    On the subject of noise, the screen seems to accentuate top end engine noise and some transmission noise, so that various rattles are very audible, and there is a significant change in noise going to the overrun. Exhaust noise is insignificant.

    I remain very impressed by the performance and handling, also by the amount of stuff I can get into the panniers. I have to confess to probably exceeding the pannier handbook weight limit, I suspect this limit is set more by the plastic easy release fixing mechanism than the boxes themselves.

    I fail to see any real problem with uneven loading of the two panniers, the allowed weight is totally insignificant compared with the all up weight of the bike. The handbook gives awful warnings about losing control and causing an accident resulting in injury or death, but so it does about anything that could conceivably result in litigation.

    The gearing is not as specified in the handbook. It is higher geared, and doing a spreadsheet containing all known data (on wheel and tyre sizes, primary and gearbox ratios, and chain sprocket teeth) shows it. On counting the rear chain wheel teeth, I find it has 40, not 42 as in the book. Depending on the accuracy of the speedometer and tachometer, I suspect the front chain wheel may have 19 teeth, not the 18 specified. I will try to find out. It isn't important, but I like to know. (I later found out that the front sprocket indeed has 19 teeth.)

    I may get a front mudguard extension. In wet weather, dirt is deposited on the oil and water radiators. So long as the bike is cleaned regularly, I am sure this doesn't matter overly, but if cleaning is neglected, as will tend to happen in the dirtiest weather, the cooling efficiency will be reduced. There is also the possibility of stones or other foreign bodies causing radiator damage. A front mudguard extension will help reduce dirt and reduce damage risk. A rear one may make the bike look tidier. The rear tyre is fairly exposed at the back, but I didn't notice any rooster tail behind me in the wet (that doesn't mean there wasn't one). Prices are about £19 each. I will think on this.

    Tried some different ear plugs. Cost me £1.35, these came in a Honda screw top container. They are a significant improvement on my first ones, and with them the wind noise is no longer uncomfortable. I may try to find an industrial source of ear plugs.

    Found a much more pleasant route to Pidcock's, the A608 to Eastwood then the A610 to the Nottingham ring road. It's a few more miles, but has better roads (for motorcycling). Traffic is lighter on a Saturday morning than my usual route as well.

    I haven't yet taken a pillion passenger. I have sat on the pillion (the bike on its centre stand), it seems very high, so it will put the centre of gravity higher, and may make the passenger feel more vulnerable. The good thing is that the passenger will get a better view. I expect one of my children (both adults) will be my first passenger, they were my only passengers on my Bonneville, and then only a day or so before I sold it! I think it was one of these "Been there, done that, add it to my C.V." opportunities that neither of them wanted to miss.

    The reaction of others to the Trophy is significantly different from their reaction to the Bonneville. In many respects, it seems that the Trophy is more anonymous. This may be in part to its relative quietness, and perhaps to other motorcyclists it is of less interest. Car drivers appear to be able to see the Trophy a little better, but, as with all two wheelers, it is still invisible to many.

    I shall try a day out soon if I can get permission, perhaps go to Overstrand. It's a journey I've done before, and some of the roads are quite appealing. I read somewhere that a true motorcyclist doesn't aim for a destination, (s)he rides in a direction. So if I get diverted, lost or whatever, I've got an excuse.

    Another possible trip would be up to the Lake District, trying to avoid motorways as much as possible, probably to Windermere. That's about 144 miles, say 3.5 to 4.5 hours each way.

    31/05/02: In the end, for personal reasons I didn't want to stray too far from home, and I managed a 200 mile trip around fairly familiar roads, beautiful day, beautiful ride.

    After that, filled up, got it really full (in fact over full, it later oozed petrol from the tank breather), it measured 48.8 mpg. By far the best I've achieved, and not driven significantly differently from other rides. The engine might still be freeing up (around 1500 miles), and the weather is more like summer. This consumption would put the range up to nominally 215 (reserve) and over 260 (total). This is much nearer what I hoped for. I'm due for a Mildenhall run soon. We'll see what that's like.

    For the second time I've gone well over the nominal reserve level without needing to switch to reserve, by about 1.8 litres. Reports suggest a smaller reserve than Triumph say. Until I need the reserve, I won't know, and I am reluctant to deliberately run into reserve because of the potential problems with "priming" the fuel system if it doesn't pull the fuel through after switching over. I am only prepared to do this on suitable road, i.e. straight with easy pull off, and not much traffic. Where in England can you find such a road? The fuel gauge needle was just into the red when I pulled in to refuel.

    Ideally, I should run it completely dry just to know what the fuel gauge shows, and how much the tank actually holds. I would have to carry a can with me. Is that legal? The pannier will certainly take a 5 litre container.

    There's not that much point, though. If the range is "guaranteed" to be at least 200 miles, I don't have a problem, and at no time have I had a (calculated) range less than that. Even the calculated reserve range has never been less than 180, and an assumed ratio to actual reserve range suggests a minimum of at least 200 miles. Not safe to rely on, but a good indication. The lowest mpg suggests a worst case absolute range of 230 miles. The best would give 268.

    I have read a review suggesting a range on reserve of 25 miles. This is perhaps consistent with my findings, their range to reserve was about 180 miles as far as I remember, which works out about right (they must have been getting about 37.3 mpg).

    23/05/02: Have had a smell of petrol after using 50 miles' worth. Bike parked in garage on side stand. Maybe some dripping, or maybe it's where it was overfilled earlier. Will keep an eye (and nose) on it.

    I intend to do the Mildenhall run without topping up fuel - range required: 175 miles, i.e. 50 miles (already used) plus 125 (journey). Should be fine (did 205 quick miles back from Newick, then filled with under 21 litres). I am very comfortable with the fuel gauge accuracy, it's neither overly optimistic nor pessimistic. I need to get more consistent with my fills, but it's difficult with the very flat top to the tank.

    31/06/02: On the journey there, traffic was bad going into Nottingham (a little after 9:00), but once on the A606, the journey was uneventful and pleasant.

    On the way back, there was too much traffic on the A11 and A14 for pleasant riding, but there were no hold-ups. Once on the A606, the riding was very good, the traffic was light enough so that overtaking was easy, and progress was very good. I think I surprised a Subaru Imprezza when he wouldn't overtake the car in front of him, and I overtook both with (care and) ease, snicking in nicely before the double white line. Very satisfying.

    Followed another bike for a while. He was riding positively without being silly, and I used him to help me along for a few miles, until he left my route. It was particularly interesting (academically) in corners, I have always had difficulty in judging my lean angle, but to see him at the same speed on the same line meant I knew exactly what I was doing. Very reassuring. Must ensure I continue to ride my own ride under these circumstances, it would be too easy to get pulled beyond my own safe limits.

    One interesting event - coming round a fairly large roundabout, I was travelling faster than I had intended, so that taking my exit road meant I had to lean further than I had ever done. At first I started to worry, but remembering advice I had read - "the bike can corner better than you think", I just looked where I wanted to go (most important), and held the throttle for a steady speed. No drama at all, and I know the bike wasn't at its limit because the peg didn't touch the ground.

    MPG going was 44.5, again, disappointing. The return MPG (which I didn't expect to be good, I was riding a bit more exuberantly than usual) was an even more disappointing 39.8 - even allowing for differences in fills, this wasn't good.

    There may be some slackness in the steering, it seems very light, and I occasionally get a metallic knock when going over (for instance) a depressed manhole cover, and once when pushing it down a 1.5 inch drop in a concrete standing. Need to get it looked at.

    I feel much more confident on the Trophy than the Bonneville. Its handling seems more natural, the Bonneville was perhaps over stable, it needed more persuading to corner, and braking was not as sensitive. However, the gear-change was easier with the Bonnie, the Trophy baulking frequently. I suspect part of the problem may be that I am less aware of the engine speed, it being quieter with less low frequency content, so I am probably not helping it.

    Sometimes it snicks between gears really easily and quietly, then it is a real pleasure. Other times it doesn't, and this means I daren't rely on a quick gear change, so sometimes I have to sit in the wrong gear for a while, for instance if I am waiting for an opportunity to overtake. Luckily the engine doesn't seem to care what speed it runs at, it just hums quietly to itself. And yes, even with the tacho, I can sometimes find myself sitting in fourth at 70, not realising I'm not in sixth, and conversely I often try to change into "seventh". The easiest way of recognising the change from 5th to 6th is the very small change in engine rpm.

    I've noticed that the boy racers don't try me out like they would with the Bonneville. The Trophy is obviously a powerful bike. I think they perceive this is a bike with performance.

    06/07/02: Embarrassed myself again. Took the bike to Pidcock's, told Mike I thought the steering head was light. He came out and had a look at it, and said it did need adjustment. He rode it round to the workshop, and after 10 minutes or so brought it back to the forecourt, and parked it at an angle to the front close to a line of parked bikes.

    When I came to ride off, I paddled the bike back a bit, started the engine, and drove off at a steep angle to clear another bike. The engine stalled, and the bike fell over.

    Mike and one of the others helped me lift the bike. The indicator was quite badly smashed, and the pannier was grazed. Mike insisted on taking the bike to the workshop again where he glued and taped the bits of indicator up to enable the bike to be legal, whilst I ordered a new one.

    I felt stupid, letting it stall like that (once it stalled, it would have taken someone a lot stronger than me to hold it up).

    Lots of commiseration from the people in Pidcock's, they'd "all done it before", But that didn't help very much. Once again they showed what a good supportive outfit Pidcock's is.

    Drove the bike home without incident, to have to explain the events to my better half, who was most unhappy about it, and said so in no uncertain terms. That didn't help either. Just what I didn't need, particularly as she was beginning to get used to me having it.

    When the indicator comes in, I shall have to fit it, then use some touch up paint on the pannier, and try to make it look ok, but I have my doubts as to how good a job I can do. If I can't, a new pannier side may be the only option.

    13/07/02: Fitted the new indicator. Polished and touched up the fairing and the pannier. They are not too bad.

    14/07/02: Went out for a run. Beautiful sunny day. Lost myself in the lanes between the A515 and the A6 (in the Peak District). Did about 70 miles. Once again, the pleasure of motorcycling comes to the fore.

    On the way home, down the A6 from Matlock, I realised an "obvious" riding safety issue. I was overtaken by another bike, he was not being particularly careful (for instance being still on the "wrong" side of the road past the start of double white lines). He then a little later overtook a car that was driving very close to the car in front. He squeezed in OK, and the overtaken car continued very close to the biker. Moral: Don't pull in front of a tail gater.

    Fuel consumption seems to vary a bit, but overall 44 mpg is the current average.

    Noticed a control issue - when riding in a straight line, I eased my hands off the handlebars. The machine immediately and quite strongly wanted to lean to the right.

    I checked the wheel alignment - it seemed to be about 20 mm out (used lengths of wood either side of the rear wheel to sight to the front). I adjusted this to what I thought was correct. I tried the same hands off some time later. The strong lean had gone, but as the machine slowed through about 30 mph, the handlebars started a wobble, about three or four inches at the ends. There was no control issue, but I'm sure it's not right. I will have to try again, and if I'm not happy, I'll take it back to Pidcock's.

    1/09/02 - Had another brief "no hands" try, but got no wobble. Still a slight tendency to lean to the right, though much better than before. Will try another alignment check (having looked up how I should have done it!).

    8/09/02 - Tried another wheel alignment. Easier when done correctly, however I would prefer the Bonneville adjustment rather than the "easy" method with the Trophy. Never mind, got there. After this, a "no hands" test was much more satisfactory, and again no wobble. I felt more confident with the handling all round, though that could have been my mood, more relaxed than I have been. One of the reasons I ride the bike is to relax me, confidence in the handling obviously helps.

    There is a small roundabout in Matlock I sometimes use to turn round. When I am feeling relaxed and confident, I find it easy, otherwise I find myself running wide and having to correct once or twice round it, and it's a real relief to get off it. In relaxed mode I don't have to think about it, it's no problem at all. This time I felt good, so absolutely no problem.

    I have also occasionally found the handlebars on the steering limit. This has been when manoeuvring very slowly. I have so far managed to prevent any mishap by using the throttle to change the lean requirement, but I will have to be wary of this; it would be all too easy to lose control. The lock is not as good as the Bonneville's.

    14/10/02 - The bike continues to give pleasure. Another trip to Mildenhall, this time in the first autumnal weather. It rained (quite hard) all the way, traffic was moderately heavy, the combination making this one of the longer times for this trip (nearly two and a half hours).

    Needless to say, the bike behaved perfectly, and there were no "moments" at all - for once most drivers behaved well. Perhaps they were all in shock with all this rain after weeks of fine weather.

    On the way back the rain was patchy, the traffic was fairly heavy on the main dual carriageways, but on the more minor roads, it was lighter.

    There was one stretch where what looked like horse manure had been deposited on the wet road. Inevitably this was where the road wound through a series of tight s-bends that are virtually totally blind due to a high bank on the near side. Tippy-toe was the order of the day, probably no more than 10 mph, the surface was treacherous to say the least. I managed to pick my way through this lot with only a few minor slips. Unpleasant, but the bike recovered instantly each time, I never felt in trouble. (I'm glad no cars were immediately behind me, I might have succumbed to trying a faster pace which could have been disastrous.)

    Although that was the worst, several other roads needed considerable respect, but I had no problems. I continue to ride probably overcautiously, but I'm happier doing that than the opposite! (This doesn't mean I'm not able to use at least some of the Trophy's available performance where appropriate.)

    The autumnal rain made for a fairly cold trip, exacerbated by my having a mild cold, but I never felt that inner deep cold feeling! I'd guess the temperature was about 8 C (46 F).

    Have I mentioned the total ease with which the Trophy absorbs miles? And the lack of boredom riding it?

    19/10/02 Let out for a run, went up past Chatsworth House (via a roundabout route). Weather held good the whole while, and although there was a lot of traffic, I had a very pleasant ride.

    26/10/02 My Significant Other went to Stoke-on-Trent (the Moorcroft factory shop), so I went to Pidcock's to order mudguard extensions, front and rear. I then went on a semi-exploration of some Peak District roads, spent about 2 hours meandering around.

    On the way back I found myself going faster than perhaps was strictly legal. I was coming away from a roundabout, on a dual carriageway, up hill, two lanes each side.

    The cars in front were doing their usual trick of filling both lanes, accelerating at their snail's pace. As they started to settle to cruising, eventually the car in front of me pulled in, and, with a clear road in front, I used some throttle to pass him.

    A quick look in the rear view mirror showed him a long way back, and on glancing at my speedometer, I found my speed was higher than I'd seen it before, the three digit reading would have guaranteed license withdrawal.

    The curious thing was that the bike felt no different from 50 or 60 mph, noise, wind, (lack of) vibration, road feel were all similar.

    02/11/2002 Got mudguard extensions. The rear one is a little ugly, sticking down and out, but is probably an effective size and shape. The ugliness is masked to some extent by the panniers. The front one is a nice fit and looks good. I await a "dirty" ride to find their effectiveness.

    Comments after 3000 miles:

    Touring performance remains the Trophy's main strength. Any load, any weather that it is possible to ride in, miles are consumed with casual effortlessness.

    The panniers hold plenty of clothes and other paraphernalia, I've always found room for everything I've needed. So far they remain watertight.

    Handling whilst on the move is easy, the bike simply responds to the rider's wishes.

    Brakes have always done what I would expect, but my skills need improving for emergency use (practise, practise, practise).

    Throttle control is smooth and progressive, as is the clutch.

    Lights give a good view of the road ahead for sensible speeds, and I like the redundancy of dual running lamps all round. The headlight adjustment is reasonably easy; I would have liked to be able to adjust them on the move, but I suppose that would be tempting fate.

    Range of well over 200 miles is adequate, the relatively high fuel consumption is a pity.

    The gear change is the weakest part of the bike's controls, changes can occasionally baulk, and it is possible to find a false neutral between 4th and 5th. Luckily, with the broad torque spread of the engine, frequent gear changes are unnecessary.

    So far the chain hasn't required adjustment, although, having realigned the wheels, the need could have been masked. I lubricate the chain every few hundred miles (which only takes a couple of minutes).

    Wind noise is the worst feature of the bike, it is essential to wear ear plugs whenever speeds above about 40 mph are used.

    Tyre wear is not yet an issue, but there are signs of the centre part of the rear's tread wearing a bit (probably one third of my mileage has been on motorway types of roads). I don't corner particularly hard, nor use vast quantities of acceleration or braking.

    The only reason I've had to take the bike back to the dealer was to adjust the steering head bearing, which was a little slack.

    So far I've not needed to add engine oil or hydraulic fluid, but I have put in some coolant because it came out when the bike was on its side.

    The bike is very heavy. Even pushing it in the garage is not easy. On one occasion I parked it facing slightly downhill at a dead end, thinking it was level; it took all my strength to pull it back, its high centre of gravity making it threaten to fall several times. It is essential always to park avoiding this. Even parking nose in to a curb (as I have seen many motorcyclists do) is asking for trouble.

    17/11/02 Although the weather was overcast, I went out for a while. Traffic heavy and slow. Still, I went through the Chatsworth House estate road, very pleasant.

    Felt very much at one with the bike, more confident with what we could do. Slow speed balance was good, gear changes smoother than I sometimes achieve, braking and acceleration progressive.

    I still don't fall into corners as I might, perhaps because I am still not confident enough - the bike has this immediacy of response that just makes me hesitate to countersteer quickly. I'm sure it's only a matter of practise.

    Kept mostly to main roads because of the autumnal leaves on the roads, and where I did go on minor roads, there were places where leaves had been cleared from the car tyre tracks, leaving lines of leaves in the curbs, between the tyre tracks, and down the centre of the road. Keeping to a tyre track gave no problems.

    Back on a main road, I stopped for petrol on the "wrong" side of the road. On leaving the garage, I had to wait for a break in both lanes of traffic. I pull across the road, and as I straighten, put on some throttle. It's a real pleasure to feel the rear tyre start to move as the power comes on, then it seems to dig in to grip the road; all too quickly we catch the car in front and have to back off.

    A while later I came up behind a Harley Davidson. I fell in behind, being greeted each time he accelerated by his deep throbbing exhaust note. At first it's a pleasing sound, but after a while it seemed excessive, and even monotonous. I pulled out and passed him, giving a brief wave.

    It's about time I did another "day out". I am thinking about several ideas for a destination, Cardiff is a possibility, it's about 170 miles each way (and the importer of Corbin saddles is there!). Another, easier, trip would be good old Skegness, then possibly up the coast a bit to Mablethorpe, and make a circle by coming back via Lincoln and Mansfield, about 215 miles. It would be over mostly unknown roads, so I would have to prepare carefully so I could navigate easily.

    I need to organise a clear waterproof folder to take instructions that can be fixed securely within view, and that won't flap in the wind.

    Yet another destination would be somewhere like Carlisle, about 190 miles, but the only sensible routes are the mostly boring M6 or the mostly boring M1.

    23/11/02 SO persuaded me to go to the Motorcycle Exhibition at the NEC. Set off, and almost immediately came across a "green goddess" fire engine in a police convoy. I regret to say that the speed of this engine was pathetic, a slight incline meant it couldn't get above a crawl. I hope no lives were depending on its arrival.

    Got onto the main A38, and realised it was raining - I still find it amazing that the only real indications are droplets of water running down my visor, and as it gets heavier I can hear rain (and a bit of hail) hitting my helmet. The view in front is not affected, in fact from the behaviour of other traffic, my vision is considerably better than cars with windscreens and wipers.

    Traffic was moderately heavy, and over these roads (A38, A446, M42) complete with several roadworks, it was not as enjoyable ride as it might have been.

    Arriving at the NEC, I followed the "Bike Park" signs, and ended up in a large building where I was issued with a security ticket and directed where to park. There was a helmet and leathers park, but as each item was charged £1, I simply put my trousers and helmet in the bike's panniers (no problem with their size). I was comfortable about theft because of the general security. Bike parking was free, and only a minute's walk from the main entrance. The organisation was excellent. (Cars were charged £6 to park.)

    After paying my £13 to get into the show, I spent several hours going round. It became more and more crowded as the day wore on, but unlike some crowded places I have been, people were generally polite, with no pushing and shoving.

    Having browsed sufficiently, I went back to my bike. By this time there were many more bikes in the parking area, but still plenty of space.

    The security check going out was reasonably quick; however, had there been a queue to exit, there could have been quite a wait.

    I made my way towards the M42. A combination of the sun low down in front of me and (to my mind) poor signing (I wanted the M42 North, the roundabout exit is signed "M1 M6", it should be signed "M42 (N) (M1) (M6)"), I ended up on the A45 going towards Coventry, and after stopping to consult a map, decided to turn round (at the next suitable junction) and go back to the M42.

    The rest of the trip home was uneventful, the weather much better than in the morning, but the traffic was much heavier.

    The bike was quite dirty after this, but the oil cooler radiator was significantly cleaner than I've known it get, so my front mudguard extension seems to be doing its job.

    30/11/02 Went for an hour's run. Weather was miserable. Explored routes near home that I don't normally take. Roads wet and a bit slippery in places, but enjoyable. Had one slight moment - after gingerly turning right into a side road, the road turned sharp left, then went straight. As I was straightening, I opened the throttle generously, the rear wheel immediately stepped out of line. My automatic (instinctive) reaction was to reduce (not close) the throttle; I may have steered a bit but I don't know. The back end snaked but recovered even before the adrenaline kicked in. I didn't enjoy that bit! Mental note: my reactions were fast enough and coped, but this is the sort of incident that could lead to a high-side, particularly had I been travelling faster. Just a little reminder not to get overconfident.

    7/12/02 Weather was dull, but decided (with permission) to go out for a run. The route was up the old A61, onto the A38, turn off to got through Clay Cross, then to Matlock, Cromford, Ashbourne, Belper and home.

    Between Clay Cross and Matlock, on a typical windy B road, I came across a queue of eight or ten cars, following a trailer. Over the next half mile or so, I was able to overtake these in ones and twos, finally overtaking the leading vehicle, snicking in nicely just before the double white line.

    As the road swept to the right, I was congratulating myself on the last manoeuvre, then the road turned to the left. I was going faster than my comfort zone required, and after a brief assessment (wet road, probably slippery white line, traffic coming the other way, ditch on the far side with bank and hedge [hawthorn, I expect], she won't let me keep the bike if I kill myself), I remembered the mantra: "look where you want to go", also "trust your machine". Immediately I looked through the corner, the bike steadied, and continued smoothly two feet from the centre line, no drama at all!

    There may also be something in this "keep your head upright" bit. That does seem to focus your mind on the road (hence where you look) and less on what the bike is doing.

    At the roundabout in Matlock mentioned previously, I had to stop for traffic half way round. In the past I have had to be very careful to stop with the bike upright. This time it just did it without me thinking about it. Whether this is because I have learned to ride it properly, or because I was looking "off" the bike, I don't know, but it felt natural.

    30/12/02 Riding out, weather damp but drying, went up to Powersports in Clay Cross, looking for heated glove liners (unsuccessfully).

    Travelled up a tarmac road where a long section was joined to an adjacent section with the usual poured bitumen filler. There was obviously very little grip on this join, the bike felt uneasy when going along it.

    Later on went to Pidcock's in Nottingham. On the return trip, approaching large roundabout on the inside lane of three, came upon mud in the road as I was braking and steering left a bit. By straightening, I found the least muddy part of the outside wheel track of the nearside lane. This probably took me a little close to the car in the next lane to me, but it was the safest option. It's been a pretty slippery day out there.

    Bought some new gloves at Pidcock's, they came with separate liners. I didn't wear them home, but on inspecting them at home, found one of the liners had faulty stitching. Returned to Pidcock's the next day to change the lining.

    On this trip I decided to push the range limit a little, and go to a petrol station the far side of Heanor, it being the cheapest locally. The bike ran out of the main fuel tank just as I was leaving some traffic lights, and it took a moment or two to find the petrol tap and switch it to reserve (I think I hit "Prime" on my first attempt).

    The effect on the bike was to misfire as if running on three or possibly two cylinders, but it picked up quickly enough when I found the right petrol tap position.

    The tap selections are not ergonomic, normal is the centre position, so when riding, you have to guess which way to turn it. The three positions should be in the order Normal - Reserve - Prime, not Reserve - Normal - Prime.

    I've noticed the rear tyre appears to be wearing a little flat across the tread, perhaps I'm doing too much straight line work! I will keep watch. I don't want to have to change tyres too often for political reasons as well as financial.


    Went for a short ride (Matlock and back). It was a very cold (light snow on the ground), bright sunny day. The air was dry and crisp. The main road was damp, salted, so there was no ice on the road, except in some gutters, I kept off minor roads.

    It was very pleasant, but there was quite a lot of traffic. Coming back the sun was low and made visibility difficult at times.

    Used the trip to improve my riding technique, specifically keeping my head upright when cornering. This really improves front wheel placement no end, and I could play avoiding ironworks etc much more easily than with my old style.

    Went over one piece of ice where a rivulet of water had run across the road and frozen; I felt the bike slip, but was past it before anything exciting happened.

    On my local road, which was unsalted, there was a little ice, but not enough to cause a problem, at least with the very conservative way I rode over it.


    Went out in the evening to buy some rat poison to put in daughter's attic (a squirrel was building a nest in the insulation). Temperature was below freezing.

    Met our neighbour who was just turning into the drive as I was half way down it. Luckily for me he is tolerant of my motorcycle, and immediately backed out into the road; there is no room to pass in the drive, and no chance of me backing up (any sort of slope is impossible with the Trophy's weight, in any case the drive is quite steep).

    Went very carefully down my road, it isn't salted by the Council, and had a thin layer of frost or snow on it. After turning off onto a more main road, the bike felt skittish, squirming as I've known when going on a surface that has been scraped prior to being re-tarmac'd. I stopped to see if I had a puncture, but both tyres showed their normal profile.

    I checked the road surface to see if it was icy (it wasn't). In the end I put it down to very cold tyres. After riding on for a short while it felt much better, presumably the tyres having warmed up sufficiently to provide nearer normal grip, or possibly simply to be more flexible.

    Whatever the cause, I rode very conservatively on my errand, and had no further problems.

    Some Observations on my riding:

    My skill is still improving, and has a good way to go. This is partly because of my age (I don't learn as swiftly as I used to, and my self confidence is not that of a teenager), partly because I don't set out to practise particular skills.

    The most obvious need for practice is sudden and rapid braking. With my normal (very conservative) riding I don't use the brakes much. If I have to brake rapidly I am liable to snatch instead of squeezing.

    I should also practise rapid swerving for hazard avoidance.

    I wish I'd realised the advantages of keeping my head level in a corner much earlier.

    Observations on the Trophy:

    Not so good points include:

    Fuel consumption (about 44.5 mpg) regardless of how gently I drive);

    Gear change (baulks quite often);

    Wind noise (I need to use earplugs except for very local trips);

    Weight (can't push it up any slope);

    Good points include:

    Easy performance (just dial in the acceleration, cornering, braking, it may not be a genuine sports machine but it suits me perfectly);

    Stability (once moving with clutch engaged, balance is easy);

    Handling. When I'm riding at my best the bike seems to sense what I want and just do it;

    Suspension. As a tourer it is very comfortable. The only exception is the amount of fork dive under heavy braking;

    Luggage capacity (those panniers hold a surprising amount);

    Weather protection (only my hands get wet in the rain);

    Lights (excellent compared with any other bike I've ridden);

    Other points:

    Heating. When stationary in traffic, warm air is blown over the lower legs. When it's cold this is good, but when it's warm ...;

    Observations on my riding gear:

    Helmet: (Shoei) Comfortable, easy to put on and off (except when my glasses get tangled up in it. Possibly contributes to the wind noise problem;

    Jacket (Triumph): Generally no problem. Dry, warm with its lining in, vents help when it's hot. Arms a little restrictive of movement and sometimes blood flow.

    Pants (Triumph): Generally no problem, always warm enough with the lining. The legs can ride up on the boots, more so when I'm having to stop frequently and moving my feet to the ground and back.

    Boots (Triumph): Absolutely no complaint, warm, comfortable, waterproof, good grip.

    Gloves: First pair (Triumph) are normally very good, only in very cold and wet weather do my hands get cold. Second pair (Spyke): too soon to assess, they should be warmer than the first pair, but I await more experience with them. Perhaps a good test would be riding with a different glove on each hand.

    19/01/03 Went for a round trip to Ashbourne, Buxton, Pilsley, Chatsworth, Matlock, Belper, about 80 miles.

    It was cold and sunny, although the roads were wet from previous rain, with a great deal of water hanging around in places.

    On the whole the roads weren't too slippery, though of course one or two had mud on them in country areas. Still, I had no problems, and did a pleasant trip.

    Traffic on the Ashbourne-Buxton leg was much lighter than the A6 from north of Matlock to Derby, which was a continuous stream of cars.

    I started experimenting with two fingered braking, when there was no traffic around. I wanted to know whether I could brake hard enough (I could) and if I could control the braking properly.

    I found that braking seemed more controlled in the initial application, so there was much less chance of snatching the brake. I continued to use two fingers, and with a little practice I felt quite comfortable with the change.

    There was definitely sufficient braking force available, and no risk of trapping the other fingers.

    As a bonus, I could still hold the throttle (with palm and top two fingers) whilst covering the brake, although occasionally I found myself holding the throttle open while braking. A bit of practice should correct this.

    One other advantage was that I found it easier to blip the throttle during down changes without affecting the braking noticeably.

    Safety Issues: Many authorities say that two fingered braking is dangerous, but as far as I can tell their reasoning is mostly spurious. The only issues that make sense to me are:

  • If the brake loses fluid you need to pull the lever right in;
  • If you are on a bike other than your own, it may require more brake lever travel or effort than you expect;
  • It is more likely to leave some throttle on;
  • Of these, only the last is an issue to me, but there again I have known me leave some throttle on with four finger braking. As for the other points, I am unlikely to ride another bike, and I think losing fluid is so unlikely as to be not worth considering (assuming I do my "daily checks").

    So, I will continue with two fingered braking for a while, but I shall have to practise to ensure correct reactions.

    25/01/03 Went to buy bread. Afterwards, got "lost" onto the Wirksworth road from the A6 just south of Duffield. One of the few local roads that allow vision round corners. Felt good, went a few bends cleanly, comfortably, for me quickly. Even where there was some dried mud on the road, I could hold it all tightly within a cleanish wheel track.

    I will ride this road further another time.

    02/02/03 Told to "get out of the way" by my SO, so went out. Temperature was low (guess about 4 C), roads damp. I chose to stay on main roads, minor ones would be very slippery.

    Traffic was light enough to enjoy the outing, went up to Chatsworth, then through some minor roads (OK, I changed my mind), and all in all a pleasant trip, with no "events" of note. Did about 60 miles.

    My "new" style of riding with head level seems to be working well. At no time did I feel any concern, and even when the bike did move slightly at the back, everything seemed (and was) under control. I think that keeping your head in line with the bike, you feel restricted and less in control, but keeping your head level, you feel freer, and in control, even when (or especially when) a "situation" starts to evolve. I certainly feel more relaxed, this is definitely better than being tense.

    That little roundabout in Matlock is much easier to negotiate when I use it to turn round, and the traffic around it less of a problem to deal with.

    However, when on main road sweepers, I still prefer to keep my head in line with my body, but here control is not an issue. I have to think about coming across the need for tight cornering after being on a main road, maybe I will need a conscious mode switch. I will see what happens.

    Also, using two fingers on the brake lever gives me a more gradual fade into braking, even when hard braking is called for (so far only in practice), with less of the grabbing for which I am famous.

    08,09/02/03 Mildenhall and back. Trip went very well. Cloudy but dry on the way, temperature around 8C. Able to ride with much more confidence now I'm doing my head properly. Feel much happier. Fuel consumption poor. Either cruising too fast or just riding too exuberantly. Either way, very enjoyable.

    On the way back, rain for the first fifty miles or so, but proper rain, so roads not too slippery, and visibility good. Made very good time, traffic was light and easy to deal with.

    One slight incident on the way back, a cyclist was crossing the road from my right to left, he rode quite quickly to the central reservation. I braked hard in case he was going to shoot across, he didn't, but I wasn't going to take any chances.

    Also witnessed a bit of stupid driving; a Land Rover was driving along minding his own business, doing at about 55 in a 60 area. Behind him was a Range Rover. I initially thought they were in convoy, but after a while the Range Rover overtook, crossing double white lines and a full hatched central area, all going past a road junction.

    Later on, coming away from Nottingham, and for the first time I can remember, I came across a driver who I felt was a bit threatening. I had overtaken him and pulled into the right-hand wheel track of the vehicle in front. He then drove up and started to squeeze between me and the curb, much closer to me than was comfortable.

    I was able to easily squirt by the car in front of me, but a few moments later he also overtook that car, and came up behind me again. Another squirt, this time passing two cars, and he seemed to give up. A little later on he came up behind me at some red traffic lights, but didn't seem interested any more.

    In retrospect, he may have been simply looking at the bike, but he got too close for comfort.

    16/02/03: A ride out, Wirksworth, Cromford, Matlock, Chatsworth (Pilsley), Bakewell, A6, B5056 to Ashbourne, A517 towards Belper, but turned off towards Kedleston because the road was closed before the Wirksworth Road traffic lights. Total of about 60 miles.

    Weather was very cold, but sunny and dry. Most of the roads were covered with dry salt or dried and dusty mud. Traffic on the A6 parts was fairly heavy, but except around Chatsworth, the minor roads were relatively free.

    Came up to a lay-by and thought about stopping on it, but realised by the water running from it that it was covered in sheet ice. Good job I noticed it in time.

    The B5056 was particularly enjoyable, with lots of bends, many with good visibility right through, making for excellent motorcycling. I had absolutely no control worries, and felt really good. Keeping a level head (in both senses) is the key I've been looking for since I first got my Bonneville!

    Approaching Kedleston Hall, I had to brake hard for a car pulling out from the grounds. I pulled in well behind him. He was very apologetic, and no harm done. Shortly after I passed him, giving him a wave accepting his apology. My braking has improved considerably since I started using two fingers, but I should have been more aware of that exit anyway.

    I must continue to be careful, my new-found confidence could easily lead to overconfidence. This would not be good.

    My cornering style might be better if I ensure my body lines up with the bike more, so long as I can stay relaxed and keep my head level; I tend to lean out a bit at the moment. More to practise!

    The mantra is still "Keep your head up and level, and look where you want to go, but scan, scan, mirror, scan".

    I'm beginning to get the hang of this motorcycling, in spite of my age and physical disabilities, which luckily don't yet affect my safety. When they do I shall have to stop, but until then ...

    My SO is away until Saturday (22 Feb 03) evening, so I can take the day out. Possibly go up to the Snake Pass, not done that on the bike yet. Probable route: A52 to Ashbourne, A515 to Buxton, A6 to Chapel-en-le-Frith, A624 to Glossop, A57 (over the Snake Pass), then see how I feel to go north or south.

    To go north, I could follow the A6101 (the Rivelin Valley Road) to the outskirts of Sheffield, join the A61, then take the A6102 towards Deepcar, then the A616, A628, pick up the A57, then return through Glossop, A6 to Chapel-en-le-Frith, pick up the A623 to Baslow (goes through the Peak Forest), pick up the A619 to Bakewell (or off it onto the B6012 to Rowsley), then onto the A6.

    22/03/03: The day was misty and not very warm, however we grab the opportunities given to us. Bought some bread, tanked up with fuel, had to return home to dump the bread, and made a sandwich for later.

    Set off up the A52 towards Ashbourne, and the mist got heavier, to the point where I wasn't sure where I was on a road I know quite well, and I started to want a rear bright fog light. To make up for its lack, every time I saw headlights behind, I touched my brakes to flash the brake light.

    Even got to the point of deciding to turn back, but I could just see signs of the sun, so hoping it would burn through I continued. Although the traffic was light, this was definitely not ideal motorcycling conditions.

    In Ashbourne there was very little mist, but it descended again as I rode up out of Ashbourne, and continued to be a problem until I reached Buxton.

    From Buxton the weather was overcast, but the mist was gone. I continued up the A6 but missed the turnoff to Chapel-en-le-Frith (I'd forgotten it was a B road turnoff), so I ended up going a little too far. Stopped. checked my map, found my way back to my route.

    The Snake Pass was an excellent road, with twists and turns. Traffic was light, and I could go at my own pace for most of the road. Made a comfort stop at the Snake Inn (?), then continued.

    Turned off before the A61, got "lost" on roads marked white on the map, the reality was they where all brown with mud! Eventually found my way onto the A616, and picked up my intended "north" route.

    Apart from the mist, the whole trip was enjoyable, and in spite of the muddy roads there were no "moments". The nearest was once when I was negotiating a tight, left-hand, steeply uphill hairpin, which I took at a crawl in bottom gear. In retrospect I should have been more aware of the possibility of stopping (either stalling or some unexpected obstacle), because I could not have got my left foot down to hold the bike up, and a fall would have been particularly nasty there. Still, I learnt something from it.

    On returning home I had to wash the bike, it was muddier than I've ever known it, and in spite of the front mudguard extension, the oil cooler radiator was caked quite badly.

    I was very pleased with the bike, its handling and my control. My new style obviously suits the bike, and, with what I've learnt about braking, cornering, vanishing points etc, my riding is getting smoother and hopefully safer, certainly more satisfying.

    8/03/03 Went to Pidcock's to book the bike in for its one year service (not having reached 6000 miles). On the way back, I joined the A52 into Derby. The queue to the Pentagon roundabout stretched back to the Wyvern. I was able to filter steadily right to a couple of cars from the traffic lights on the roundabout. I was very careful of the possibility of cars switching lanes (they do often along here), and I had no problems.

    I shall be having a day out on 13/3/03. I was going to use it to collect a present from Scotland for my SO, however it is being delivered to a Uttoxeter address, and I shall collect it from there on the 12th in the evening (my SO is going to Spain for a couple of nights with my daughter, so that evening's available as well as the following day).

    Another destination is called for, possibilities include Skegness (about 200 miles round trip), Blackpool (250), Yorkshire (dales or moors) (230). I shall look at a map for ideas.

    Weather forecast is for cloud, but never mind.

    13/03/03 Overall an excellent trip.

    Decided to do the Yorkshire Moors. The weather throughout was cold, dry, but mainly overcast. Some sun late afternoon.

    Started off going to Nottingham to pick up the A614 north. At about 9:30, the A610 towards the Nottingham ring road had something like a 2 mile queue. I filtered through at a moderate pace, with another motorcyclist "path-finding" for me. At some traffic lights, we had a brief chat. I asked if the traffic was always like this, he said this was the worst he'd known it.

    Skirted Nottingham (not far from Pidcock's), then out on the A60 to pick up the A614. The 614 goes right up into Yorkshire (with just a few miles on the A1), so it made for an easy and not a bad route.

    We pass through Thorne (with public loos), through Goole, Driffield, reaching Bridlington on the coast. I followed the A165 past Filey and into Scarborough, then up the A171 through Whitby, and towards Guisborough (stopping en route to eat my sarnies and find a hollow for comfort, only to find 2 miles further on a lay-by with loos). A bit later, stopped for fuel, served by a man! In Guisborough I lost the main road, but eventually found my way through the suburbs, and out west, where I pickup up the A173 to Stokely.

    Here I turned onto the (in)famous B1257. This is a beautiful motorcycling road, and I can well understand why the idiot sector manage to kill 52 of themselves in 5 years (as advertised on a sign going on to the B1257). About 19 miles of sweepers, hairpins, bumps and hollows. I chose to ride it conservatively (my SO is relying on me to pick her up from the airport the next day), practising my version of riding to the vanishing point. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and had no "moments".

    The road ended at Helmsley (for me), I wanted to get home at a reasonable hour, so I picked up the A170 through Thirsk, on up the A61, crossing the A1, through Ripon, Harrogate, Leeds, then onto the M1. In retrospect I should have picked up the A1 just south of Thirsk, my route had some severe urban bottlenecks, and my clutch hand and wrist were starting to complain.

    The M1 was moderately busy, and seemed a long way, but I made reasonable time, coming off at junction 27, the A608, which is on my preferred Nottingham to Derby route (if I'd come off at junction 28 onto the A38 I would have saved a few miles and minutes..

    In summary, 351 miles, about nine hours overall. The first hour was getting round Nottingham, most of the rest was very pleasant riding. Any further away, I'd want to get there by motorway to save time for the "nice" parts.

    For my next run out, I will probably not go so far afield, 351 miles, 35.5mpg, 76.9p/litre, petrol cost alone is about £36.63. The Snake Pass run was much more cost effective, somewhere near 230 miles, about £24.

    Taking it in for service on Saturday 22/3/03. I'll have done about 4900 miles.

    22/03/03 The service cost £140, but took about three hours.

    30/03/03 Had a very pleasant run out in the evening (clocks went forward this weekend to give me an extra daylight hour). Did my home - Duffield - Worksworth - Cromford - Matlock - Cromford - Ashbourne - Kedleston - home trip (about 45 miles in total). Roads fairly clear, sunny (in my eyes for some of the Duffield to Worksworth leg, and odd bits later, but not too bad). Was able to practice vanishing point riding to some extent, but perhaps a bit tired for total concentration, so backed off from using it to the full.

    All in all, very relaxing.

    12/04/2003 Another late afternoon run, Kedleston, Wirksworth, Cromford, Matlock, (U-turn from the pavement, but easily done) Cromford, Ashbourne, Kedleston, home. fifty four pleasant miles.

    Thoughts on vanishing point riding - at the moment, I need to be careful not to concentrate so hard on the vanishing point that I miss what else I need to scan, so I must learn that the vanishing point is just another scan point, albeit of high priority.

    29/04/2003 Another run same as last time but used the roundabout to turn in Matlock this time, and a small diversion in Cromford looking for a model shop (failed). Weather bright but occasional squally showers, but no problems. Got given a good look by a motorcycle policeman in Workswirth, I think he was just looking at the bike. I was certainly behaving myself at the time!

    Went to Daughter's to have a cup of tea, hitting reserve a couple of miles before, then home via a petrol station, tanked right up for a disappointing 41.87 MPG.

    Much better controlling the bike turning round at Daughter's. It's a short, narrow, downhill cull-de-sac, and if I simply went in front first I would never get out!

    The first couple of times I went there I had some trouble doing the necessary tight turn (lack of confidence), and I parallel parked the bike, which meant its lean angle into the camber of the road was quite high, so I found it difficult to lift upright.

    My technique now is to ride down on the right side of the road, turn to the left to aim straight across or slightly back up hill, then paddle backwards into the curb, angling the bike to about 45 degrees. This makes the bike lean comfortably on its side stand, and the getaway is easy.

    1/6/2003 Returning from a trip to Mildenhall, two items of note, an accident and some weather.

    Just exiting Oakham on the A606, there were a couple of men sweeping the road after an accident. On the left on the grass verge was a motorcycle, lying on its side; I could only see its wheels. On the verge on the right were two motorcycles parked, two riders standing, a third whose bike I guess was the casualty lying on the grass. As I passed and looked towards him, he gave a little wave which I took to mean "I'm OK, thanks for the concern". As everything looked taken care of, I just acknowledged the wave and continued without stopping. I later learned that a little earlier there was a car parked by the bike, but whether it was involved in the accident I don't know.

    My wife was driving her car a little later, I hope they'd cleared it all up by that time, it's not good for her to see motorcyclists in trouble - she still worries about me on my bike.

    The weather was very hot and muggy, and thundery showers were forecast. As I approached Nottingham on the A606, looking north-west I could see dark clouds, periodically lit by flashes of lightning. The road had sections of dry and sections of wet, obviously the thundery showers were in full swing.

    A little later, on the A52 towards Derby, the rain came down harder than I've ever known it (except perhaps in Florida). The road became a river, and I was riding through water up to about six inches deep.

    I believe my vision was better than many car drivers, and I was able to maintain a steady pace (albeit well below the speed limit of 40 mph), and at no time did the bike show any signs of instability, it simply ploughed through the water, feeling remarkably stable.

    For once the rain did hit my visor directly (normally in rain I just get dribbles running down). I got some water down the back of my neck (I wasn't wearing my usual roll-neck jumper), and some ran down my sleeves into my gloves. I also felt damp in my seat, but I think that was humidity and cold from the water on the saddle I was sitting in). Essentially, however, I remained dry.

    I understand that a little later the water was even deeper, nine inches to a foot, enough to strand some cars - this from my wife who drove through it a while after me.

    24/09/2003 Having done a few hundred miles over the last few days, I realise how much more automatic my riding has become. I hope this doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it, more that my responses to events takes less concious thought, and so should be safer. General control, slow speed manouvering, if I don't think about it, I just do it.

    I am much happier cornering and braking, and overtaking is also easier. One slight reservation is that I don't always remember having done a "life saver" glance. I honestly don't know whether or not I did it. I must ensure I do.

    14/01/2004 I have not written anything recently because my riding has been uneventful until a couple of recent incidents.

    Riding through Ashbourne, following behind a couple of cars, we passed a car park entrance on the right. Just after this was a road with a car waiting to turn into my line. Yes, it decides to pull out right in front of me. Although in clear view, the driver obviously doesn't see me. I have to brake hard on a greasy road to avoid hitting it. The driver appears to be an old woman, and I can see no sign of awareness even when we stop shortly afterwards in a traffic light queue with my headlight shining straight into her rear window.

    On a different ride, I wanted to turn right off the A6 a little south of Bakewell, onto a B road that can take me to Ashbourne. I had to stop before turning to wait for traffic, then I set off. As the bike straightened, I changed into second gear, and opened the throttle. I heard the engine revs rising, and my immediate thought was that I was experiencing clutch slip, but the real reason became apparent when the rear of the bike started to move sideways. I eased the throttle down, the revs slowed, the back end came smoothly into line. It took something like a second from when I noticed a problem to when the back end started to move, the recovery was quick, but it didn't snatch - just as well. or a high side might have resulted. Just another experience to add to my knowledge-base.