Saturday, April 14, 2018

The start of the season....

Winter stuff and trials bike
For many folk here in Scotland April marks the start of "the season" where many folk tax their bikes and drag them out the shed for the year ahead. I can all ready hear the Real Bikers scoffing.
"The season?? You soft bastard Mike! I ride all year round!"
Before I sold the ZZR I would use it for the occasional winter's ride, but I don't really enjoy riding on shite covered roads or getting soaking wet and, despite me devoting a fair bit of time towards the activity, I don't really like washing bikes much either. Here in Scotland the roads are covered in a salty grit in the winter to combat the icy conditions. When wet this forms quite an effective solution for turning nice bikes into rusty piles of shit. Commuters aside, this results two biking camps. Camp 1. The "fuck it, keep riding, enjoy your bike, life's too short" riders. Then there's Camp 2. "My bike's more precious that life itself, its gleaming, I'm keeping it good for my planned bike trips, salts for chips and the sea" bunch. I, or rather, my Africa Twin, is firmly wrapped up in Camp 2, and even when I had the ZZR, I only really had the brochure for Camp 1, venturing out on the nicer days and giving the bike a proper clean after each run..
Winter stuff and trials bike
Winter stuff and trials bike
Winter stuff and trials bike
Winter stuff and trials bike
Winter stuff and trials bike
Winter stuff and trials bike
Winter stuff and trials bike
This winter we had a couple of big dumps of snow named the "Beast From the East" by the panic stricken media. I got the trials bike out for a play which was fun, but hardly scratched the itch that a bike trip relieves. When the snow was away its was still cold, but sunny and dry. I was green with envy when I seen my mate Barry Richardson's photos pop up on Facebook. He'd taken his GS a spin up to Applecross for the night. Heated grips set to volcanic and plenty thermal base layers under his bike gear he took to the salt covered roads. The sunny days and newly re opened Bealach Na Ba made for some awesome photographs.
photo by Barry Richardson
Photo by Barry Richardson
photo by Barry Richardson
Photo by Barry Richardson
photo by Barry Richardson
Photo by Barry Richardson

I'm lucky enough to be in the situation of having more than one bike. I'd sold the ZZR to make room for a couple of projects, but they'll will hopefully be finished and sold soon. I'd still rather keep the Africa Twin in good condition so another second bike is on the cards. Something to keep the miles off the Honda that I could use for winter trips. I'm thinking along the lines of a Transalp, but I'm open to suggestions.
Anyway, the weather has finally changed for the better, and more and more bikes have got back on the road, just in time too. It would seem there was virtual cabin fever brewing on various online forums, Camp 1, sick of being cooped up. Camp 2, fed up riding through shite. Handbags flying, toys getting chucked out prams and dummies being spat while complete strangers lose the plot because another new biker has asked the best way to get to Stelvio or if they need a breathalyser for France. I even fell foul to it myself after one to many people called the Bealach Na Ba the "Apple cross pass".

Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin

Road name, french breathalyser and European speed limit arguments were throw to the back of my mind then blew away in the wind as I accelerated over the Lammies and down to the Borders on a great run to Samye Ling with Other Mike and Faithir. It's easy to take the great scenery and roads around the area where you live for granted. Some people get caught in the loop of doing the same run on popular roads to popular stops every weekend, a circle I often find myself in. I try and make the effort to at least head somewhere a wee bit different every now and then.
Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin
Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin
Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin
Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin
Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin
Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin
Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin

The weekend after Samye Ling I headed off for a solo run. The a different route down the Borders was planned, but unfortunately and I found a stricken V Strom at the bottom of Soutra. Davie had got a puncture. I never had any plugs, but I did have a can of tyre weld at home. Being the good Samaritan that I am, I nipped home and grabbed it. Unfortunately the hole in Davie's tyre was far to big for the tyre weld to work. He called the RAC and I headed for a wee blast down to Gala for fuel then back over the hill from Stow to Lauder.

Spin soon the borders.
Spin soon the borders.

HB and I had an evening Spin up the hills and down the coast for a chippy in Dunbar which was great for testing the Hyperpro springs I'd fitted. The borders was the destination for another Saturday spin, this time Smillie, Faithir and I headed down to Newcastleton on some of the wee roads, a great run with roads to mach some of the best up north.
Up the hills with Carina.
Doon the borders.
Doon the borders.
Doon the borders.
Doon the borders.

So another weekend is looming. There's talks of a camping trip but which way should we go? I'm thinking north, but we'll wait and see.

Mike.

Winter stuff and trials bike

Monday, April 9, 2018

Hyperpro Springs - Review

The Africa twin receives quite a lot of criticism for its suspension, especially from the heavier riders and people who regularly travel with a pillion or luggage. Hyperpro offer a spring upgrade for the Honda saying “The Hyperpro spring kits gives a much better ride by eliminating the excess sag from the standard set-up. This gives the bike a more balanced ride and more ground clearance. It is also more controllable under heavy braking, and better suited for two-up riding and/or luggage systems. This preferred spring kit raises the bike's ride height by 20mm and there is also a lowering spring kit available designed to lower the bike by 25mm compared to the original height. On top of this there is also a range of bespoke rear shock absorbers available to suit every rider and style.”

Hyperpro springs.

Being 6’4 and regularly travelling with a Pillion I was interested in the spring kit which raises the bike 20mm. When two up or with full luggage I was running the bike at the maximum adjustment available on the stock shock, and I was still finding the bike under sprung, especially on the bumpy roads in the Alps or here in Scotland.

The kit comes with the rear spring, two fork springs, fork oil and generic fitting instructions along with specific settings for the CRF1000. The springs are slightly longer than the stock items, but only my 5mm or so. Fitting the kit is relatively straight forwards but you will need access to a spring compressor for the rear shock, I didn’t have one so I removed the rear shock myself and the friendly staff at Motorrad Central swapped the springs over. Fitting the front springs is a bit more involving. If you haven’t done a similar job before I would recommend either getting a reliable mechanic to fit them for you or get someone who has to help you. Having a second pair of hands will make the job much easier.
Hyperpro springs.
Hyperpro fork springs
The “Beast from the East” dumped several feet of snow a few days after I fitted the Hyperpro springs so I have just recently been able to get out for a ride and try it out. Swinging a leg over the bike, you can immediately feel the difference, the bike sits noticeably higher and doesn’t sag anywhere near as much as it previously did. I’m running the Hyperpro recommended setting, so I’ve still got loads of adjustment to play with. On the road the ride feels slightly firmer, but not uncomfortable or harsh. Gone is the big dive under braking. The bike feels much tighter and more planted too, big bumps or undulations in the road which previously caused the bike to become a bit unsettled are handled with ease. A few days later, a longer run down to Samye Ling really let me feel the difference. I wouldn’t go as far to say the Hyperpro springs make it a totally different bike, but it really does inspire confidence, especially when pushing on along bumpy roads.
Samye Ling run on the Africa Twin
Where I noticed a real difference was when carrying a pillion. Carina (the missus) and I decided to go for a Sunday spin over the Lammermuir Hills to Dunbar for some fish and chips. I added a couple of clicks of preload and off we went.
Up the hills with Carina.
What a difference. The only thing I missed about the 1200GSA that the Africa Twin had replaced was the two up suspension performance. As I said, I’d been previously running the rear shock at max everything. With the Hyperpro rear spring a couple of extra preload clicks was all I’d done. Even pushing on or hitting the lumpy, rough single track roads of the Lammies didn’t push the bike out of shape and there’s still loads of adjustment to compensate for luggage and camping gear. Up the front the Hyperpro fork spring keep everything as it should be even under hard braking. For pillion use “a totally different bike” is a fair comment. Carina didn’t find the ride any more uncomfortable, she did comments that “it was a bit bouncy” of some of the lumpier roads, but that’s probably due to me taking said section of road at a speed that would previously had the bike bottoming out and us getting bounced off the seat.
For £230 for the rear spring and fork spring kit I can honestly say that the Hyperpro Spring kit is the best value for money upgrade you can make to your Africa Twin. Bring on the Alps!