Saturday, 27 December 2008

Buell & Pazzo; A Good Fit

I have only three major niggles with the Buell Ulysses XB12XT at the moment, first being the exhaust, second being the front mudguard (or lack of) and third being the brake/clutch levers. I have started to address these little issues, starting with the the levers.

Pazzo Levers - 01

OK, the levers will not be a problem for everyone but I have small paws and then add to that the thicker grips because of the heated grips means that when commuting in slow traffic my hands soon start to ache. Other Buell owners pointed me in the direction of Pazzo Racing for a solution which soon had me looking at the UK distributors website, Speedycom Performance ltd. I knew they would be at the NEC so I held off my purchase until then. Met the guys at the stand, they 'built' the levers in front of me with my colour and length preferences and I left happy...until my better half hid them until Christmas.

Pazzo Levers - 31

So 3pm on December 25th I was in the garage with mug of tea in hand and my shiny new Pazzo levers all ready to be fitted...I know, it would have been sooner but had family duties to attend to ;-) So here is a brief run through of what I did to get them fitted though please note that following anything I say may not be the wisest of options.

First thing that had to come off was the hand-guards, this is very easy using a 'Philips' screwdriver and removing the top and bottom screws from each hand-guard.

Pazzo Levers - 06

Next the parts which the hand-guards are mounted to are also the bolts that run through the respective levers. I took a size 12 wrench and gently started loosening the upper bolt while holding onto the lower one. Soon the lower one had come off followed by a small nut, this process was the same for each lever.

Pazzo Levers - 09

Now for the brake lever the process is very easy. I just pulled out the bolt I had just loosened while holding the lever. I then gently removed the lever from its position. Cleaned out the slot, then greased it up and slide in the new Pazzo brake lever. Making sure everything was sitting were it should I got a drop of loctite onto the threads. Then I took the bolt and slid it back into position, attached the nut, then the lower part of the hand-guard mount and tightened it all up.

Pazzo Levers - 15

The clutch lever is as above with the exception of the clutch cable. This is no mystery though! As I removed the old clutch lever just looking underneath I saw that a slight turn and then pulling it downward had it off. Then clean up, grease up and slid the new Pazzo lever into place the exact same way. NOTE that the actuator pin had to be pressed in and then released when the lever was in place as it would not sit right otherwise. I then tightened everything up.

Pazzo Levers - 17

The last thing to go was to replace the hand-guards, tidy up and then admire what I had done. If I had not been stopping to take pictures then the whole thing would have only taken 20mins at a relaxed pace. Very simple and they have made a world of difference. I took them for a couple of runs...I even went to look for the traffic heading for the sales to see how they were and I did not get a single twinge. The clutch lever I have set to the number 1 position and it is very comfortable, while the brake I have on 3 which is more then ample. The glossy black with the red selector looks great with the bike and a nice extra detail.

Pazzo Levers - 23

In comparison the original levers looked crude, the clutch does not even have adjustment which is a shame. But then again it is little details like these that help make each motorcycle individual and help us bond that bit better. These are superb quality items which I highly rate, simple to fit and look the business. For more photos head over to my Flickr page!

Pazzo Levers - 28

Pazzo Levers - 29

As always, keep the rubber side down.

Friday, 12 December 2008

The Pilgrimage 2008 Review

You have been warned

The big number first, we took some 700+ photos at this years NEC Motorcycle Show and you should find some 424 uploaded on my flickr page. To make things easy they are in alphabetical order, so have a skim through or just look for your favourite motorcycles.

So what news from the show? Well, the most noticeable piece of information missing from most manufactures were retail prices for next year, while the general consensus is that they are all going to go up in price. The reasoning is straight-forward, while money was readily available they could sell more units at a lower price, while now they will be selling less units so the price will have to go up. Some (like Honda) have already announced that they are cutting production next year, I already saw this earlier this year when I bought my Buell, manufacturers just are not going to risk keeping large 'reserves' of motorcycles sitting around. So try and get your deals this year, because they may not be that easy to get from next year onwards.

Hall 1 of 4...yes, the show is popular

While on the topic of Honda, I got to meet Neil Tuxworth (Honda Racing manager) briefly at the show and got a chance to ask a few questions. He is very positive about the BSB season coming up, while he quickly dismissed the rumours of going to WSB earlier this year as just inventions by the media. He was extremely pleasant to talk to and was happy to make some time to speak to a fan. The V4 Concept bike was of interest and while talking to a few dealers they insisted that the VFR will not become a V5 when it is updated. Instead they want to keep the V4 and similar engine CC. The V5 project will be an entirely new model and not a re-imagining of the VFR or Blackbird, they will either continue as separate models or cease altogether. While on the VFR the only colour option next year will be white in the UK (as in my flickr pics).

Neil Tuxworth & Myself

The BMW stand was probably my surprise favourite of the show. They now have an option to make virtually all their models lower with a new factory option that replaces the rear shock and adds a lower seat for less then £100. Trying out the motorcycles was like a real eye-opener, models which I previously thought of as uncomfortable/unwieldy (like the R 1200 RT or R 1200 GS) were now easy to get on, feet down and very confidence inspiring. The only catch with this option is that you loose the option of fitting the ESA (the electronically adjusted suspense option), but there are still the usual adjusters on the motorcycles. So for those of us who have not used the ESA before, then there is nothing to miss. BMW even had a demo area to try out all the low model options to further convince those who are still unsure. I can confidently say that the R1200GS and R1200RT are now on my wish-list of motorcycles.

The BMW R1200GS, the seat height can go lower!

Being a Buell owner I was expecting great things from the Buell/Harley-Davidson stand. Especially since in the states owners were being given free T-shirts and after last year were my partner and I got loads of goodies. Well this year this was the most disappointing stand. The people manning the Buell stand had little interest in the brand or little knowledge. The only person who did want to chat spent all his time telling is about his Honda Accord! That and there were nothing to purchase even though they had clothing and accessories on display. Well, that was their loss and I spent my long saved money on other stands. Hopefully this will be addressed in the future or at least by the Irish Motorcycle Show in February.

The Suzuki was very brightly lit! One felt that they were in some sort of dust-free room. They also had the best feature of any other Tea/Coffee! You were asked to leave a donation and they had big comfy couches. The staff were very friendly and good to have a chat/laugh with. We also got to see if the complaints about the Bandit 1250GT topbox were true. Sadly it is, the topbox is fitted in such a way that it uses up a few inches of the pillion seat. With both my partner and I on board (without gear) I found myself almost sitting on the tank. This is a shame for such a well priced/specified motorcycle. Fix that and it is a proper GT contender.

Nick Sanders 'fresh' from his 60,000km ride...

Ducati was the nothing away! Still, my partner has a soft spot for them and purchased some gear from their clothing stall. The new 1198 was the main draw and it is very impressive looking. While the Multistrada is probably the only model of interest to me, but it does have a face that only a mother could love. Rumours have it they will be fitting the 1198 lump to it and giving in a fresh redesign for 2010 to really go up against the BMW R1200GS, so maybe we shall see that next year.

KTM was the stand I was most looking forward to visiting as the new 990 SMT had me excited. The 990 Adventure has always been a favourite of mine, but its sheer size has always made me hesitate. The new SMT though is much more comfortable and feels much more manageable for a shorty like me. I would recommend that anyone looking for an interesting Sports/Adventure/Tourer type motorcycle have a look at it. The Buell XT's plush seat has really spoilt my partner and I as the only complaint we had about the SMT was the seat, yet that is soon fixed with a look at an aftermarket accessory catalogue.

James Toseland wows the crowds

For my Buell Ulysses XB12XT I bought a pair of Pazzo clutch/brake levers from the Speedycom stand (though the partner has impounded them until xmas...). They are the 'shorty' in black, with a red clicker. The current levers become a pain to use when commuting and my hand soon start aching from reaching, the current clutch lever is not even adjustable. So expect a review and fitting guide in the near future. Also I spoke to some people from Quill exhausts (mine is already badly rusting) who offered a stainless steel exhaust for a very reasonable price and would even fit free of charge if I rode in. So If I visit the UK on the Buell that will be a priority. I have also found that I can buy my tires from the UK and have them shipped over for half the price as they cost here in Ireland. All I would have to pay for is fitting. This is why I love going to shows!

We also got to see James Toseland performing live, his band 'Crash', would be joining him for the weekends. He was very good and was happy to have a laugh, he had nothing to hold his music sheets on so had to resort to using a tea was a very 'Frank Spencer' moment. We also got to see Chris Walker, James Whitham, Niall Mackenzie and talked to a whole range of 'personalities'. If you ever get a chance to call into the Nolan Racing stand be sure to ask the lads about their experiences on the road and on the MotoGP grid (my lips are sealed).

Of course we have to mention the show is sponsored by Carole Nash

Once again it was a great event with loads going on. We even got to see the 'Batpod' from the latest Batman movie 'The Dark Knight'. I hope you got to see the show yourself, if not then our photos should give you a taste, but try to make some space on the calendar for next year. With the money we saved on gear and accessories the show almost paid for itself.

So one last time, to see all the photos head to my flickr page!

As always...keep the rubber side down.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Olympia Gear Review (Update)

Ever since I posted my initial review (Click Here) of my Olympia Moto Sports suit it has become the most visited post on this blog, month after month! So now that I have been using the stuff for about 18 months I thought it only right to update you on how things are going.

To start, I have two main suits and various other bits at the moment. The Olympia was the first new suit I got in years and it has also become my firm favorite, something I can depend on when the weather goes south. So just to remind you I wear the following:

Olympia Moto Sports Voyager Sport Touring Jacket
Olympia Moto Sports Men’s Ranger 2 Over Pant

The kit is well made, fits well and feels sturdy. It has never leaked (& I have spent hours in some nasty downpours) and when the temperature is below freezing it is the only stuff I reach for. Note also that I wear this stuff all day long, I usually stow the jacket in one of the Ulysses's side cases and stay in the pants all day long. If it is cool I bring the thermal lining with me as it is effectively a second jacket.

Now it can not be all good and so here are my few issues. First I prefer having a long 'round the waist' zipper for connecting the jacket and pants together, it feels more secure and stops the jacket from riding up. In an accident this would also prove very useful. Maybe this would hep with my second issue, which is, if you are not careful or paying attention the jacket can ride up slightly at the front, just enough to let the rain sneak under. This has only happened to me on 2 or 3 occasions and so I watch for it now and correct as necessary. The last thing is the armour, I will not buy gear that does not come with decent armour, just not worth it in my opinion. The armour supplied meets all the requirements but in the pants it could be shaped a bit better for the knees and some armour for the hips would be welcome (comes with foam padding). I usually wear the Forcefield Shorts under the pants and will soon probably start wearing strap on knee pads and take out the fitted armour altogether.

As you can tell, the items above are not major problems but if they were addressed they would make an already excellent suit into an unbeatable package. I was going to mention the short width of the back protector, but this is something that would vary from customer to customer. My jacket is fairly dirty looking at this stage as it is hard to get the road sludge out of the high viz colour. I use Nikwax products to wash and waterproof on a regular basis and with this sort of care I foresee this suit lasting me many years to come. The black pants still look brand new.

Just a quick word on the lining for the jacket and pants...they work! They work really well! Layering is the key to keeping warm and these do an excellent job of keeping the wind and cold away. I ride a Buell, I do not have a vast touring fairing to keep the elements off me. My only hesitation with putting the liner in the pants is knowing that once I get off the bike I will be just too warm in them, but to be honest, in the depths of winter that is not a bad thing to have to worry about.

If nothing else, I was so impressed by the specification originally that I ordered the suit direct from the U.S. and even took the hit with customs. I can also say without hesitation that I would happily do it again if Olympia released an updated version of the jacket. Note that on average I cover 25,000 - 30,000 km per year and ride all year (I DO NOT have a car license!). I commute, tour and have fun all with my motorcycle and with this gear. Considering the cost of the suit and the quality I am highly impressed and have yet to find something that can outperform it for the money.

If you have any specific questions feel free to comment and I will get back to you when I can!

As always, keep the rubber side down.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Warrior Bunny Is Coming!!

Just in case you have not heard, Ubuntu 9.04 'Jaunty Jackalope' is on the way! The important dates for anyone who wants to help out in development are:

November 20th - Alpha 1
December 18th - Alpha 2
January 15th - Alpha 3
February 5th - Alpha 4
February 26th - Alpha 5
March 12th - Alpha 6
March 26th - Beta
April 16th - Release Candidate
April 23rd - Final Release

For a much more detailed breakdown have a look at the official Jaunty Release Schedule which also have links for you to add to your calendar.

What should we expect from the warrior bunny? Well here is Mark Shuttleworth's plans, Introducing the Jaunty Jackalope. Much more will surely follow on the Ubuntu website while wikipedia has the following:

Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope), to be released sometime in April 2009 will be Canonical's tenth release of the distribution. It will be supported until October 2010. Intended features for procurement include faster boot time and integration of web services and applications into the desktop interface. It will also mark the first time that all of Ubuntu's core development will be moved to the Bazaar distributed revision control system.[48]

The desktop installation of Ubuntu 9.04 is expected to include, among other programs, GIMP 2.6, GNOME 2.26, Mozilla Firefox 3.1, 3.0, and Pidgin 2.6[33]. The server installation may include MySQL 5.1, PHP 5.2 and Python 2.6. Ubuntu 9.04 may use Linux 2.6.30 and X.Org 7.5. GNOME 2.26 is expected to include support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 in Evolution[49].

Every Ubuntu release has been a significant improvement and what has gone before and I am once again getting giddy over what is to come, especially since so little has been officially confirmed. So let the Ibex shine for the the time, but the Jackalope is coming soon.

Ubuntu, linux for human beings

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

RSA Annual Report 2007 - A Brief Overview

The RSA have released their Annual Report for 2007 and it makes for some interesting reading. To download the pdf Click Here

First of the RSA (Road Safety Authority) came into force back in 2006 their main duty being "tasked with improving safety on our roads in order to reduce death and injury resulting from road collisions" and the legal basis being set out in the Road Safety Authority Act 2006. So with only one year of operation before these figures were collected it is debatable how much of an impact they could have had, but here are some of the figures and we can see how things are going for motorcyclists specifically.

First off some 31 motorcyclists were killed on the roads in 2007, the 335 deaths are broken down as follows:

Drivers 138
Pedestrians 82
Passengers 70
Motorcyclists 31
Pedal Cyclists 15
Other 2

On the positive side the amount of road users between 1997-2007 went up by approx 1 million, while deaths per year have dropped from approx 450-335 over the same period. The RSA aims to get this down to 252 by 2012, in line with EU targets.

So how do we compare with the rest of Europe? These are rated by road deaths per million and Ireland comes in at 9th place with 79. Though 1st place is Malta with 34, while the Sweden (considered one of the 'best practice' states) is 4th with 53. The UK is 3rd with 51.

Some other figures of interest, the average waiting time for a test was 18.9 weeks, of which 54.8% (or 197,866) of applicants would go on to pass. While there are just over 2.5 million licensed drivers, of which some 427,724 are provisional drivers!

They do mention that a consultation regarding the introduction of the CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) but no date is referred to regarding the end of this process. Though I am very disappointed to note that % wise motorcyclists faired worse in the driver theory test with just 60.24% passed, compared to cars at 63.92%, Buses at 66.74% and Trucks at 67.31%.

It is good to see a Road Safety Transition Year Programme for secondary school students but to be honest this really needs to become a mandatory for all second level students as road transport will be just an important part of their lives. Never mind here at home but when trying to travel abroad and so on. This would be an obvious key life skill. There is a third level programmes too but DCU (Dublin City University) is not a member of the USI so I can not provide any first hand experience, which is a real shame.

So that is the guts of it, there is loads of other miscellaneous figures but I think I picked out some of the more interesting. They have a series of publications upcoming, including a comparison between provisional drivers and full license holders which should proves interesting!

Again, head over to the RSA website for more information and to keep up-to-date.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Pilgrimage 2008 - Preview

Here is a quick taste for what is in store at this years Motorcycle & Scooter Show, thanks to MCN

I will be following this up with my own review and photos soon!!!

Keep the rubber side down