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    covered on this page -   

      BIKES    HELMETS    LUGGAGE


    My Bikes, Past & Present

    To date I've not had, nor ridden that many bikes. The first time I threw my leg over a bike was April 2002. I don't recall what the little "crasher" as the school called it even was, I do know I wanted to be on the Hyosung cute 125 not the nasty silver thing I had which didn't have an electric start! The bruises on my shin from the kick-start - which I never really got the hang of - took quite a while to fade. When they wheeled the GS500e out two days later I was petrified of it, but amazingly it was easier! It was like riding a tank compared to those little training bikes.

    CB500       

    As luck would have it I was able to get hold of a hand-me-down at a very reasonable rate. In good condition and ran extremely well. No real gripes at all. A great first bike. Especially as with no real bodywork to ruin I didn't panic too much over drops (of which I had a couple - someone knocked it over in a bike park & I low-sided in winter on packed snow).

     
      Whilst not my actual bike this is the same colour scheme and model. I do feel exceedingly guilty now that I never bothered to take a photo of my CB.....

     

     

    ZZ-R600E4 

    I never intended the CB500 as a long-term commitment. It was always to be my starter bike to take me up to the big machines. Even before the accident I'd been planning and researching what the dream machine was to be. Being short (5' 2") it was fairly important to me to get my feet down. The ZZ-R has one of the lowest seat heights available for a fully-faired 600. It was the sporty looks but comfortable riding position which made it the bike for me, and when I viewed my bike I just knew it was for me. My Zed is a 1996 E4 model.

     
     

    Although saying that, after I'd had the bike about 4/5 months even I knew with my very limited knowledge that the suspension wasn't really right. I took him up to SBT in Sandy, where they laughed (yes, laughed!) at the state of my suspension. After the adjustments my feet don't touch quite so easily but I'm more used to the weight and size of the bike now so it's not such a big deal.

      It still pains me to admit that I sold my Zed, although I did keep him in the family by selling him to Michael. After all our spills together I just couldn't ride the bike properly and the effort involved wasn't doing my riding any good - for either me or the bike. It's not the bike - it's me. A switch has been flipped in my head and so far I can't switch it off, but it was criminal leaving a bike like that to sit in the garage forever.

                          

    GPZ500s D1 

     

    I never expected to own more than one bike at any one time. However with the way insurance claims work, the length of time they take to be resolved, combined with the extensive damage to my Zed, I had to have transport until I could get my ZZ-R back on the road. I was looking at anything between 250cc & 750cc but unless the bike spoke to me it didn't stand a chance. I'm not sure exactly what it was about this little bike, but speak to me it did. 

      geep.jpg (82080 bytes)
      "Geep" or "the Brat" as he's known is a very lightweight bike (or feels it to me!). He rides very differently to my Zed and I find myself having to not lean in as far, and not gear down as much. The gears feel very close together and he doesn't seem very happy in low gears at low speeds, seems to almost pull at the lead to get away a bit quicker. I find it hard to hear sometimes over my plugs - being used to my race cans the silence is almost too much. This is the 1994 model. He's got some damage already but the engine is sound and it goes. This bike was always meant to be more function than form for me and that it does very well.
       
    GPZ500s D3  You could say I liked the first one so much I bought another! Which is not too far from the truth. When the Brat gave up the ghost (again) I had to say enough was enough, I couldn't with any kind of easy conscience pour any more money on that bike. I got more than my money's worth both in the advances my riding made with that little bike and the amount I learned taking it apart and fixing it (or not!)
     
      They are great little bikes and when in good nick can be quite pretty. This one, two years younger than the Brat had been better looked after, so with a bit of luck (and a few transplants from the Brat) it will last me a little longer than the last.
       
    VTR1000F 

     

    When I finally realised that I might not be able to improve my riding or even progress easily on my Zed I started to look around at other makes & models of bike. The biggest problem for me was that nothing spoke to me, nothing really looked that exciting or even attractive enough to interest me. My requirements; twin exhausts, sexy, light enough to handle, low enough, likes to corner, seemed impossible to meet. I took the VTR Firestorm for a quick test ride at our local dealer. I'd heard people saying lots of differing and interesting things about V-twins so was interested to see what all the fuss was about.

    Whilst it was a tad taller than I was looking for the excitement of the ride did it for me. It felt totally different to the other bikes I'd ridden, that huge engine just seemed so full of control, I only needed the lightest touch on the throttle, on or off, to stop and go effortlessly. It feels incredibly easy to keep to the lines I want and never strays from the path I've laid. The riding position is much more full on and does takes some getting used to after the laid back comfort of the ZZR. I think this bike will meet the task I bought it for without too much trouble.

     

    I had no intention of selling my Zed, nor even the Brat. But the Brat died (and was replaced by the GeePee) which costs next to nothing to run (overall). There's no way I could bear to see anyone else ride off on the Zed so had no choice but to sell to Mikey! Having the two bikes on one policy adds very little to my insurance.

       

     

    Stuff

     

    Helmets 

    Its kind of a sore point for me, helmets. The first helmet I bought was the wrong size. OK, I didn't know what to look for - I was just a pillion at the time, and was out on my own buying it. I did tell the assistant however, but still ended up with a helmet a full size too big for me, which when I started riding myself had to be changed. Expensive mistake!

     

    We only get one head, so it pays to protect it. My first helmet was a Lazer, only set me back about 90 on sale from 120 or so. The second - fitted by Hein Gericke (in the right size!) was a HJC, AC10. All in all not a bad helmet, nice and quiet, removable bits for easy cleaning etc. Cost in the region of 140. After my March accident I replaced the visor which was badly scratched on one side and fully intended to replace the lid as soon as I got my insurance sorted. Well in getting my estimate from HG to replace it in September the chap there asked to have a look, and to my horror showed me a visible crack in the compressed foam interior on the opposite side to where my head impacted in my crash. Not having the cash to hand I did make a mental note to replace it as soon as possible.

                          

    After my spill at the beginning of Oct where again my head did connect with the tarmac, albeit not as badly - there was no way I was getting back on a bike until I had a new lid. 

     

    This time I was prepared to splash out and wanted to try as many makes as I could to ensure I got the best helmet for me. It amazes me that none of the bike shops/dealers put themselves forward as a helmet fitting center. Most only stock two or three makes. Eventually after about 6 shops I'd tried Arai, Shoei, HJC, Suomy, Shark, and a couple of other brands. Each shop had fairly conflicting views on each make - mainly based on personal preference. This is the most important piece of kit we buy aside from the bike! I ended up with the Arai Astro-J in the Tady design, in XS. Cost 299 on offer down from the usual 399.

      helmet.jpg (18228 bytes) This is it new. IMG_6200a.jpg (330183 bytes) This is it after my Oct 2004 crash. 
      I was very glad I'd paid the extra money. I was really upset to lose it however and spent a day on the telephone trying to locate another the same. In the end I spoke to the UK distributor who let know know who had bought the last of the stock - including the XS size in the style I wanted. J & S Head office were very helpful and found me the last one, in their Birmingham store and sent it to me. 
       
     

    When I took a mate to buy a helmet I was quite concerned that she not make the same mistake as I did. I would just like to say that the chap we dealt with at Infinity in Purley was excellent  - he first measured her head and then after discussing budget, styles, and colours, spent at least 1/2 hour maybe more, brought out at least 6-8 helmets for her to try. He also agreed with her on the fit of the one she finally chose - not the most expensive one out of the ones she tried either! That's the way it should be done.

       
    Luggage  Like most things I have an opinion on luggage. I think its too easy (like carrying a handbag) to start lugging around loads of stuff you don't need. Carry a bag and you end up with more in it than you actually want, it gets heavier, before you know it you buy a bigger bag etc etc.
      I'm of the opinion now that you should carry as little as you can get away with. Use every bit of underseat storage you can. If you can fit things like wet weather gear under your seat do it - that way its always with you, you can't forget it and you don't have to lug it around with you.
      Before you start toting a rucksack about, think about what happens if you come off, do you really want whatever is in there to break your fall (or your ribs!?). If you must carry stuff I believe its safer for you to strap it to the bike.
      I used to cart a tailpack around everywhere. They are great value and you can get a lot in them. I bought a Riossi tailpack on offer (2 for 1) for 15.00, I have wrecked the first one and the second is pretty much mint still. Looks a lot like this Oxford one (and from memory these ones go for around 15 too)
     
      They attach easily and securely (use the underseat strap if its full). Fantastic for doing the shopping or going away (I can get enough in there to last me a week away on the bike) but for day to day... why?
      I didn't like the idea of a tankbag at first, they all seemed so big but I was determined I was not strapping stuff to my VTR. Then I found this...
     
      The Givi T409 Tank Pocket or Tank Pod as I call it. A small semi rigid magnetic tank bag, no bigger than a small handbag. Perfect for all that crap you don't want in your pockets and the bits you'd like to have with you. On an average day you'd find visor cleaner, anti fog, phone, purse, keys + work keys, earplugs, sidestand puck, tissues, handcream, sunglasses, and a small bag which folds flat but can be worn as a backpack (just in case I buy something) in it. It comes with a headstock strap in case you're worried but I've stopped using the strap as it can mark the tank and anyway its seen 120mph and been fine.
      I'm lucky I guess in that I take a pair or trousers to work at the beginning of the week and leave them there (I already have shoes and hairbrush and stuff there) so I don't need a lot everyday. I leave a cargo net on the GPZ at all times (dead handy if I have to stop at Tesco!) but do be careful with those hooks. You'd be amazed at the number of eye injuries caused by these things.
     
      On the ZZR I have luggage hooks, which I utilise with a medium sized bag which will hold my trousers and shoes etc. This is large waist pack - bought from a walking shop years ago. I simply left the waist attachments in their compartments, threaded a long lace around the various loops etc on the bag and just loop this over the Zed's luggage hooks and it sits neatly in place.
     
      I found a slightly larger tank bag I fancied and as requested it arrived for my birthday! Still tiny by most standards it's an Oxford Sprint. They say "big enough to transport your essentials for a days' ride out but tiny enough not to be noticed when "giving it some" they also claim an 8 litre capacity but I think that's a bit generous. It does however come with a raincover, rainflaps and more importantly a map reader! I will never be lost again (yea right!). 

    The map reader folds in half and is neatly stored in the bottom compartment where the magnets are. The magnet sheet can also be removed if you wanted to for any reason. The magnets on this one are much stronger than the Givi, you can load this to its fullest capacity and still not worry. I had hoped that the base would be wide enough to allow me to position it over the fuel cap but its just slightly to narrow for this, it must be placed either in front or behind the cap fitment.

     

     


    Copyright 2003 by Girlie_Biker/Girlie-Biker.  All rights reserved.
    Revised: 07 Jul 2012 11:45:19.