Amazing Bikes - Real and Concept Designs

Check out some of the fantastic photo's being put up on our forum currently...
The bike below was submitted by Endo and is just one of many fantastic bikes already added. Why not go to the forum and add your own.

Excerpt from thread:

Looks like a fairly normal, if stretched, racer, but under the plastic is a two-speed automatic Rolls Royce Allison jet turbine rated to 225mph. So far, so good, but Leno actually rides the thing around on the roads on a fairly regular basis. He did say it got quite expensive - mainly in compensating car drivers whose bumpers melted in the jet backwash!

Check out the size of that Exhaust!

New to Biking - Written by a Newbie for Newbies!

A couple of months back one of our forum regulars took it upon themselves to begin writing up their experiences of entering the biking fraternity and posted these to the UKBike forum.

It seems like a real waste for this great read to be lost amongst many other posts, so for those of you that might be interested, below is an excerpt from the first instalment and a link to the full post in our forum.

Thanks goes to Trick3003 for the time and effort, it's great stuff! If you want to say thanks personally then you can do so on the forum or via Trick3003's page -

It begins:

Being a user of public transport for nearly 10 years I had always envied those people who skipped to the front of every queue, didn’t have to stop at every bus stop and was generally slightly quicker than the 10 tonne monstrosities that are busses. When I was at Senior School, I dreamed of being able to cruise into the playground on my Harley, pull all the girls and generally be Mr Cool. I always wondered why 16 year old run around on dodgy 2nd hand 49cc scooters and not a babe magnet instead. When I looked into the facts behind biking at a young age I was horrified! Until you turn 17 you’re restricted to a measly 50 cc engine with a top speed of 50Km/h (around 32 mph) REF Link1. These scooters can easily cost you 500-600 pounds (there are cheaper ones available! Just have a good scout around) and probably cost the same to insure (as you’re a young, reckless teenager). On my meagre part time salary of 60 quid a month this was beyond my financial reach and so had to wait.
By the time I could afford to run a bike I had reached the grand old age of 20! With a full time job in a busy city centre office, unreliable public transport and sick of getting a lift of everybody I decided it was time to take my CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) and make myself mobile.
What You Need

- A Valid provisional License (these can be obtained via an application form from the post office, or over the internet. The cost is £50, plus the cost of passport size photos (around £4).

- Once you have this you can find a local Training Centre (Google is handy for this, or and ask them for a price. Mine cost £115 (on a Saturday). You will find that prices vary from area to area (down south costing slightly more) and it will be cheaper during the week.

- Book a date!

Please note: When you apply for a provisional license, you are agreeing to the fact that you have read the latest version of the Highway Code. It is important to know what is in this book; it may well save your life and stop you breaking the law inadvertently.

To continue reading visit the thread in our fourm -

Happy reading!


Recommended biker read: Distant Suns

Author and biker Sam Manicom has done what many would consider the ultimate dream - he jumped on his bike with a few belongings and then spent 8 years on the road, covering some 200,000 miles.

He has previously documented his travels in the books Into Africa and Under Asian Skies, and has now released his third - Distant Suns.

Here's some background info on Sam and his travels...

I’d been riding a bike for 3 months when I started, which was pretty daft but turned the planned year into a stunning adventure. I was shot at twice, arrested three times, nearly raped in jail, had a severe dose of malaria and fractured seventeen bones crossing the desert in Namibia.

I’d only planned to take a year out of ‘real life’ but in spite of all the above adventures I had such an amazing time that I decided to keep on going for another three years. There wasn’t a good reason to stop!

In Under Asian Skies I travel by cargo ship to Australia and then after exploring Australia and New Zealand, I head up into SE Asia and across Asia. During my time in Australia, I ended up being escorted from Sydney Harbour with a man in front of me waving a red flag, I was rescued from a motorcycle accident by three Hells Angels, fell asleep on the bike in the outback, which I only just survived, and worked my way around the country.

The adventures didn’t stop there. I was rescued by a prostitute in Thailand as I lay dying from Dengue fever, was arrested in Madras by port police in the middle of a bout of the plague, got involved with people smuggling goods from India into Pakistan, and after riding three inch black ice in the mountains of Turkey I was hit by a very wobbly case of road rage.

Ted Simon said that Under Asian Skies is ‘a unique and wonderful adventure.’

Distant Suns is my latest book – the travel bug had well and truly bitten and the journey continued on for the 3 more years. Distant Suns takes the reader through Southern Africa and then across to South and Central America. This time I am travelling with a friend. I met Birgit in Under Asian Skies when she was riding a bicycle around New Zealand. I persuaded her that a bicycle with an engine was a better deal! She still isn’t totally convinced of that but soon became an avid fan of overlanding by motorcycle.

This book not only looks at some of the history, geography and legends from the countries travelled, but concentrates on people and the quirky things that happen to you when out on the road. It also looks at what happens when things go very badly wrong. At one stage I am evacuated from Chile by air ambulance, and I’m told I will never ride a motorcycle again. I’m told that I will probably be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Three months later we are back on the road!

One of the best pieces of reader feedback we have had is from a chap half way down Africa who’d bought Into Africa, and was inspired enough to have a go himself. He wrote to say thanks and that he was having a great time. The book was success from that point as far as I was concerned.

Who is Sam Manicom? I was born in the Belgian Congo in the last days before it became Zaire. I’ve lived off and on in the UK since I was ten years old – the UK is now my home base. I worked as a retail manager for 11 years, commencing my employment with the John Lewis Partnership in Nottingham. I have also worked as a practice manager for a firm of solicitors and have renovated semi derelict houses. I have been writing as a freelance motorcycle travel journalist since 1996. Most of my work has been published in the UK but I have also been published in South Africa, the USA and Canada. I now write full time and do talks all over the UK. I am working on my fourth book.

For more information about Sam or his books visit his website.

Show revs up to find biker babe

This just in so thought we should share it with you all...

The search has been launched to find the Biker Babe of North Wales The winner of the competition will be crowned at the popular Motorbike Show which is being held in Llangollen on August 1 and 2.
Last year’s show was the first and was hailed a roaring success by the thousands of bike fans who came from far and wide.

The organisers, Xuberance Events, are promising bigger and better things this year and the preparations are hotting up already – not least thanks to the Biker Babe competition. Xuberance boss David Green explained that biker babes or grid girls were a big feature of all the best biking events.

The search for the North Wales Biker Babe is being spearheaded by aspiring model Lauren Knowles, 19, from more

Thundersprint roars into Town

Binny from the team headed north recently for the Thundersprint. Here's her report on the fun and games that went on...

Another event I thought. Great fun but tiring, especially when I’m down south near Brighton and the event is virtually in Liverpool.

Anyway I head up to the M6 thinking about the event, and what I heard about it. I heard that the Thundersprint takes over Northwich town, all you see is motorbikes, there are lots of trade stands, and it’s a marvellous weekend.

I had also had a good look on the site before I left. This did shed light on the situation, and looked fantastic.

Saturday morning comes and I head into Northwich. On my way I see loads of bikes, so I start getting excited. Get into town and there are bikes everywhere, and everyone is being really bike friendly, safe and well organised.

After to speaking with some traders and bikers I hear all the action really happens tomorrow (Sunday,) and today is mainly the warm up, and not forgetting the classic bike show.
I had a good walk around all the trade stands amongst the bustles of people, shoppers and bikers. I have to say there has never been such a buzz around an event like this that I have seen.

I’m also feeling there is more excitement due to a certain gorgeous talented man walking around in arms reach named James Toseland. I have to say I went weak at the knees not only is he very talented on and off the track, he is a great musician, and I have to say a really genuine nice bloke!

So after being elbowed by not only young women to get to him, but by some older ladies too. I manage to have a bit of a chat to him.

His band “Crash” were playing at the Memorial Hall that evening. So after being lucky enough to watch the band rehearsing in the hall, I got to meet them before the gig. As well as having a great chat with Frank Melling (the man behind the Thundersprint, and on it) Jim Redman and Sammy Miller.
All lovely gentleman, and very talented on a motorbike.

I called it an early night and leave before the actually show as I had a long day on the Sunday, and had to drive back South.

Sunday: Up at 7, there by 8.30. Oh yes there were some tired, and hung over faces. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t one! Smug!

So where do I start Sunday pretty much went like this bikes, excitement, races, more excitement.
With the Thundersprint track opening for the participants to practice laps from 8.30, there is already excitement building.

Today there are more famous faces about too including Glen Richards, Steve Platter, Jimmi Harkishin, and from yesterday JT, Sammy Miller and Jim Redman.
After seeing everyone get lap times for the second time I went for a wander round.

There were hundreds more people already, and loads more stands and bikers around.
With the programme for the weekend clutched in my paw, I plan my day.
12.oo The Cavalcade. This is where all the bikes leave the Thundersprint event, and drive around the town, with the celebrities taking the lead. This is not a race, just a pleasant ride around in convoy.
Fingers crossed we will have the clip of this up soon. As it is a sight to be seen!

In the afternoon the Spitfires go over in an air display, followed by a lap of honour by JT, Jim and Sammy.

Then time for the Thundersprint race. This is where everyone id divided into their category lightweight, classic, master class, personality, golden age, pre war etc. I have to say it was great to see all the classic bikes to the new bikes, even the TTX01 electric bike which was fantastic!

I think everyone loved the personalities round as they all had a fool around on the track, and after a few of them doing some stunts and including burn outs and doughnuts

Over the weekend there were only 3 or 4 people who came off their bikes that I saw, which just goes to show how well organised the event was, and the safety factors to the show.

It simply was a great weekend, and a great show. I have to say a big well done to Frank Melling and his family who all work so hard all year round to put on such a great show.

It’s already in the diary for next year, certainly one I won’t be missing!

Welsh protest rides

We received this from one of UKBike members, Phil McFadden...

I'd be grateful if you would put up something on the site about a ride-out I'm helping set up against test centre closures -here in Wales learners have to make a two-hour trip to get to the nearest...

Post a review and win a Ducati Jacket

Roll up, roll up. Place a review of your current ride or a bike you've owned in the past this month and you could win an awesome Ducati Panigale tex jacket worth £240, courtesy of London Superbikes.
For your chance to win simply place your review on the site. It only takes a few minutes so get clicking and typing now!

Isle Of Wight Scooter Rally, August bank holiday - 25% off ferries with Red Funnel

It may just be me, but the weeks are flying by as we head towards a (hopefully) sizzling summer. With fantastic weather comes the perfect opportunity to enjoy some two wheel action, with plenty of bike and scooter meets set to take place around the country.

The IoW Scooter Rally is a highly anticipated event that has been a firmly established part of the island calendar for over ten years. Held over the August bank holiday weekend, scooter enthusiasts arrive from around the world in Ryde to celebrate the marriage of Italian design and British youth culture.

The 2009 event promises to be as big as ever, centering around the Ryde Ice Stadium. Shows and competitions will take place throughout the day, while DJ's and bands will be performing during the evening. A scooter dealers' market will offer scooters, t-shirts and various other merchandise throughout the weekend. The rally culminates with the famous ride-out on Sunday 30 August, with over 5,000 scooters taking part in a memorable, colourful spectacle.

Red Funnel are offering riders a fantastic 25% online discount on ferry services between Southampton and the Isle Of Wight, with standard motorcycle/scooter return travel between 27 August and 1 September now reduced from £32 to £24. For more info or to book, simply head to

More info on the rally can be found at

To whet your appetite, here's a video of the 2007 meet courtesy of

Place a review and win a Titan leather jacket!

This month we are offering all UKBike members the chance to win a Titan leather motorbike jacket, retailing at £ 89.99 !

It couldn't be easier to be in with a shout for this fine prize. Simply send us a review of a bike that you know well from the past or present. At the end of April the UKBike team will select a winner, the prize will be sent via post, and the winning review will be our 'featured review' on the UKBike homepage for the first week of May!

We are looking for interesting, informative reviews of a decent length that sum up your bike experiences, both good and bad. Got a particular story attached to the bike? Share it with your fellow members! Feel free to add some action to your review with photos and video - but it's the words that we're most interested in!

The closing date for reviews is April 30th, the winner will be announced and contacted in the first week of May.

Place your review here now. Good luck.

Guest post: Red shift

Here's a guest post from one of our members 'endemoniada_88'...

Time to go...

Spring comes incrementally, out on the roads, sneaking in under the guise of a few extra minutes of daylight, a little less grey in the sky, a few degrees more on the thermometer. Occasional glimpses of the sun – ironically, moving further away from the January perihelion, where earth is at it's closest orbital point – warm both body and soul with the promise of better weather to come. Gradually, the full winter kit migrates towards the darker recesses of the cloakroom: textiles abandoned in favour of leathers, thermal gloves make way for vented kangaroo hide, Gore-Tex waterproof boots for unlined race style, even the neck warmer stays on the peg some days. Not every day, not yet, but it has started – even though the official date is still three weeks away.

You can feel it out on the tarmac, too. Grip that hasn't been there for months begins to return as the roads heat up and layers of grime and salt wash into the gutters and away. It gets a little easier to feel the tyres digging in, to have the confidence to lean into corners and come out hard on the throttle with the wheels still mostly in line and the bike still vertical. Not, in all fairness, that the temperature has much effect beyond the psychological - in practical terms, road tyres give pretty consistent grip across the spectrum. Road condition has far more of a physical effect, but never underestimate the importance of feeling comfortable and in control...

It is, though, the start of a different level of comfort. If you've just come through winter on two wheels, you already know all about the application of control, albeit in a rather narrow sense. It demands constant concentration, sticking within the limits enforced by the environment rather than bike or rider. Much as I enjoy winter riding and value the skills it teaches, it can be hard work to stay focussed to that degree – even without the additional burdens of being cold and often wet, coping with poor visibility and constant darkness. In terms of riding discipline, it's a bit like competing in trials. There is a fascinating, mathematical beauty in understanding the underlying physics and having the precise capability to execute the necessary manoeuvres...but, really, there are times when it would be more fun to just open the throttle and go hell-for-leather.

By contrast, a good spring day is like a reward - where you can do exactly that. Like finding an unexpectedly free stretch of twisties amongst endlessly congested Bank Holiday roads, it comes as a pleasant surprise and an opportunity to remember exactly why it is you chose a bike in the first place. Freed from the constraints of adapting to strict limits imposed by the conditions around you, it is a moment to let your natural riding style flow through, to rediscover the true equilibrium between you and your bike. In some respects, it's a more satisfying experience than a good summer's day, when that would be the norm - if only everybody else wasn't out and about cluttering up the roads you wanted to use...

It's not often that I'm off the bike for any length of time - so I may not be the best person to judge - but the buzz isn't the same if you stick to fair weather biking. Partly, I suppose, it's because everyday use, even in the darkest season, turns a bike into a familiar extension of yourself, like an old faithful friend. Even a week apart starts to blunt that edge, removing a layer of intuitive feel and understanding, forcing you to relearn the mechanics of what you want to do. And, partly, it's simple contrast; in much the same way that experiencing bad times makes you appreciate the good times more.

Either way, it's a pretty joyful experience to realise that, this morning (even if it is only this morning and not yesterday or tomorrow), you can do what you want on the road...

That, of course, isn't strictly true, inasmuch as the long arm of the law may choose to disagree with your personal interpretation of making forward progress under the prevailing conditions. It's something which can be a problem when conditions start to invite more – shall we say – frolicsome behaviour. Best not leave your discretion entirely at home just because the sun's out, but, actually it's still pretty much the same game it ever was...don't get caught doing anything stupid...

As a slight aside, I do sometimes wonder at the sanity of the legislators who decide what constitutes "anything stupid". My own, probably naive, take on the law is that it should be simple, understandable and enforceable. A framework, in fact, that is proscribed to reflect the abilities of the majority of road users, such that their normal mode of driving can be considered legal. Instead of which, we seem to be hellbent on a path of increasingly arbitrary restrictions imposed nationally and/or locally on a set of ground rules that haven't been updated since the days when high performance meant actually being able to reach 70 on the newly-opened M1.

Funnily enough, most of the really poor driving I see comes at sub-legal speeds, with drivers staring fixedly at their speedo and GPS, making absolutely sure that they won't be getting a ticket in the post in two weeks time. Well and good and extremely conscientious of them, but it doesn't leave a lot of room for concentrating on what is happening around them here and now: most of which concentration, in any case, seems to be taken up by blind obedience to the constant barrage of roadside instructions.

Really, is there anything more pointlessly distracting than a sign that unexpectedly flashes up beside the road to tell you what your speed is? Particularly one that ensures, in case you aren't already distracted enough, that it shows a danger signal if you're near but still below the speed limit? Words, in this particular instance, fail me. If you need that kind of help, park up now and get the bus. If you feel that others need that kind of help, kindly leave the Highways Planning department immediately and get a job in the real world.

Time for a rethink perhaps: treat your motoring population as adults, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Actually, while I'm digressing and on my soap-box anyway – it's also getting towards the time of year when I'll be wearing jeans rather than leathers for short journeys. Not because I'm ignorant of the risks, or of the potential consequences, but because I choose to accept them. That's precisely why I have spent time gaining skill and experience and learning to observe: so that I can judge that, although it could all go wrong, it won't be in an unsalvageable way. And, yes, there is always the possibility of making a mistake or having someone else's accident, but you can only ever partially mitigate against that – and where do you stop? Leathers, back protector, neck brace, airbag suit, leg protectors...give up biking altogether and buy a nice, safe Volvo? Your call, and I won't criticise your decision: probably best to return the compliment.

Getting back on subject, though, I love the spring best of all the seasons. It may be unpredictable, but that's all part of the fun. There are days that might as well be in darkest December and days that could be high summer, all mixed together but all moving in the right direction. Roadside places are starting to open, the racing calendar is back in business, there are events to go to, people to see, things to do. Fantastic. Time to get out there – if you're not already – and ride the red shift, leaving nothing behind you but the rest of the world and the dopplered howl of an open pipe on full song...

The only downside – longer days mean I get more time to see how badly my bikes need cleaning...

# 4 - Lesson 1 on a 125cc

CBT in hand I arrive back at ART training after battling with the 20 mile queue in my car on the A23, one of the reasons why a bike is much more handy!

Anyway arrive late, apologising to Graham. it turns out that the other guy I’m spending the day with on a bike is also late due to the delays, caused by a motorbike and a car, wont go into details.

Not to worry, I get a heads up by getting back on the bike in the training area before he arrives. A few circles round, U-turns etc, and he arrives.

I have a quick break while he warms up, and then were off.

This time as we approach the road I feel much more confident, albeit raining harder than I think I have seen in a good few months.

As we take on the country roads, there is a lot of surface water, which is making me on edge, trying to do all my pre planning seems to go out the window as I approach large areas of water that look like lakes when approaching them on a bike.

After bending and weaving down the country lanes I’m feeling good.

Although after an hour or so at a complicated junction I nervously end up dropping through the gears too quickly, hitting the back brake, the back wheel slips on the road. So now my heart is in my mouth, but I’m still rubber side down.

How exhilarating I thought! I have to say I wouldn't have thought it if I was on my backside and the bike was 30 feet in front of me!

Anyway onwards and upwards.
Another hour into it we decide to stop and have a bite to eat. At this point I have to add I’m getting a little damp in places due to the amount of water falling from the sky. As were having a laugh, and chat about the last few hours and waiting for my greasy lunch I look outside at the torrential downpour!
I can’t believe I have to go back out.

After a large mug of tea, and lunch I feel ready again to go out. I’m amazed at how much brain power riding uses. I’m sure it will get easier!

In the afternoon we go through mini roundabouts, and counter steering (where by you steer the bike by leaning in the direction you wish to go rather than turning the front end of the bike, which we were apparently doing before Graham told us how. Now we have to consciously think about it I’m having trouble, I’m sure I will get it back?

Another hour or two I feel myself making stupid mistakes, I’m turning into tired and grumpy Binny!

We go over left and right turns from and onto major/minor roads. By this time my feet and hands are soaked, I’m also freezing.

Mental note after today’s class go and get some weather proof clothing, gloves at the least.

As we finish off and head back to the school, I know a good day’s work has been done, and with Graham’s great tuition I have learnt a lot more.

He is pleased with my riding, and says I'm a confident rider. Due to my stature another day is possibly required on a 125cc before I move up to the 500, mainly because of the size and weight of the bike.

With the weather starting to get better already I can’t wait till my next class.
Look out for my next blog coming soon when I get leathered up!

Until next time.

Al's blurb

Hello, welcome to Al's blurb, a blog from the world of freelance motorbikng journalism.

Every couple of weeks I'll be updating you with some of the back story stuff, unpublished pics and any insider stuff that can get away with printing without being sued.

Hopefully you'll like it enough to keep coming back for more. Comments or emails are welcome, but don't expect replies to random abuse, I get that from half my editors as it is...

Lately then, I have been mainly gathering material for The Cafe Racer Phenomenon book, which is due out with Veloce Books in August 2009. Some great interviews with riders who were active in the 60s, 70s and 80s, modifying bikes, going to The Ace, Calypso, Station Cafe at Tamworth, Johnsons on the A20 etc. Interviewed Paul Dunstall a couple of weeks back and found it fascinating to hear how he got into the tuning and customising business. Just made a few sets of spare exhausts for his own Norton Dommie racer, then people came in the shop asking for a set...took off from there. Within a few years sponsoring Ray Pickrell, beating factory Nortons and a 64 page catalogue mail order business worldwide.

It's the grass roots stuff that brings a book like this alive though... talked to a guy called Pete Schneider, he met his wife-to-be via building a cafe racer - a Yank mag wanted a pretty girl sat on the bike for a feature, so Pete recalled a girl who was a nice looker from school, asked her to pose, chatted her up and ended up marrying her!

I'm all fired up getting the social side of it, the human stories in there, as well the usual stuff about the bikes themselves. Another guy told me how he built a bike inside a council flat in the early 70s, then took the front end off - having tested it by running the bike in the flat - and transported it downstairs for his first road run in the lift. Brilliant.

Otherwise, I have been at Trade Expo and the MCN London Show.

The Trade Expo has all the new kit for the year for the dealers to look at and some things caught my eye; Bering have some waterproof leathers, lovely Segura BLH budget gear and the Trophy group who own Bering/Segura also had some natty scooter aprons for 2009. I liked the retro Lancaster leather jacket that BKS/Frank Thomas have for this season, but then I am an old giffer...

Delkevic in Stoke are gearing up to do loads more products in 2009 - radiators, exhausts, slip-ons - they have a new system for the old Honda CBX1000 six, plus a system for the VFR 750 FR-FV models.

Highway Hawk had adjustable bar risers for cruiser bikes, dead simple idea, yet effective, just rotate the bars through about 90 degrees, as well as gaining the extra couple of inches height by fitting `em. Cool.

The word from Mike at Victory UK is that the US brand is gonna do some work with Hawg Haven, on creating a limited edition Victory later in 09 - should be good, Hawg Haven have done show-winning bikes in the past, some featured on the Carole Nash stands at the NEC.

I heard from a classic bike dealer yesterday that one guy took his life savings out of the bank recently, bought a Gold Star and Velo Venom, had the fluids drained from the bikes, and keeps them in his living room as a better, safer type of investment. Let's face it, you get cock-all interest from the badly run banks these days...

Got me thinking, out of today's cheaper bikes, which might be classics? Hard to pick out something like a Goldie, a bespoke racer, as they don't really make stuff like that these days, but I guess an early twin headlamp Fireblade, 98 Yamaha R1 or maybe a Kawasaki ZXR750 can only go up in value if you find an unmolested example..? Otherwise the rare modern machines like RC30s, Duke 916 SP, Bimota Tesi/SB6R etc is already at classic Britbike money.

all for now, Al the Blurb.

#3 - CBT

With my confidence blooming after my new rider course, I’m ready for the CBT (I think?)

So there is myself and four other guys. One is training up to be a new instructor and the other three are in the same position as me.

Graham and Steve are our instructors for the day.

After having a coffee, and meeting the other guys and sharing riding experiences (or lack of) also discussing pet stories (how random!) its time to go through official bits and pieces.

Driving license – check, plus going through helmet and relevant first sections of the CBT syllabus, and plan for the rest of the day. Including clothing, protective/safety gear, this was module A. I have to say though I was very surprised to learn that legally in the UK; the only protective item you need to wear is a helmet! Now obviously I have a while before I start riding like Lady Godiva, but seriously just a helmet! I just want to take this moment for anyone thinking of going out for a ride with no protective gear on. Think again, you only get this set of skin!Module BThis is where we get introduced to the bike (again in some cases) learn some basic maintenance, special emphasis on safety, and proceed to remove and replace the bike on the stand.
If you read my last blog, I wasn’t too hot at this, but this time it came quite easily you will be pleased to know!
Module CThis is where you start learning to ride, beginning with moving off and stopping and developing your skills through a variety of exercises until you are readyto go on the road.
After doing the above on the new rider course I was so ready and just as good (if not better than my peers, who had all ridden before) well done me! Ok well done Graham, he is a great tutor, and apparently no-one rides better than him. He will love the fact I have mentioned that!
So at this point all was going well until one of our fellow students lost the knack of clutch control, and took a stumble off the bike! To which the two other guys and myself got quite shaken by. Not even mentioning the guy who came off!
He wasn’t hurt, and got back on, ready to go again. Anyway after some 1-2-1 tuition of the slow clutch control, again he lost his confidence and came off, luckily missing the metal fence by about a foot!
At this point he was advised to take a break. Then had to be booked back in for another session. We did feel for him, as we had started the day well together as a group.
Well onwards and upwards, it was time for some lunch!Module DThis is a classroom based session about how to ride on the road safely. You are expected to already have a good understanding of the Highway Code. I have to say we all did, although Graham may quote me on that! Ok, so maybe we had got a little lazy as we are all car drivers and have been for a fair few years. So back to swotting up on this area!Module EMinimum (legal requirement) two hour road ride. (Your instructor will issue you with a radio, ready for your on-road session. This will last at least two hours, and will involve a variety of roads. There will be regularstops to discuss aspects of the ride, with debriefing sessions and discussion of various road hazards.)
By this point I was very excited about getting on the road. The other two guys went with Graham and I had Steve.
So I was ready until all module D started going round in my head, about what happens when you come off, and slide etc. Especially now out of the confines of the safe iron fence. Now there are cars and lorries to contend with.

Nerves aside I put my ear piece in, and get communicated with Steve.
So when you’re ready of we go…
A shaky start I’m faced straight away with gravel! I slowly go across and get to the road. My heart starts pounding and I suddenly feel very vulnerable. I didn’t think I would feel so exposed. After driving for 11 years you begin to feel a little indestructible on the roads. Now all of that has gone and a little slip and I could be under the car over the other side of the road!
I hear a voice in my ear then giving me confidence and guiding me where to go. Steve was very reassuring, and a great instructor! Although at some points I would have rathered him actually being on the bike with me!

Checking my speedo, I realise I’m bombing along at a not very respectable 30mph on a 50mph road!

Anyway an hour or so later were getting up to the appropriate speeds no problem. At this point when you have the open road in front of you, you feel so free on a bike. I have to also say it is so fun!

Although Steve will hate me saying this, as you’re going along at such speeds the thought goes through your head “what if I were just to let go?”
No need for answers on a postcode, I do know.

Before I knew it it was over and we were back at the school. I was very tired but pleased to say I got my CBT, and so did the two other guys.

Thanks so much to ART for getting me through, and look forward to my next lesson with you!

Blog #2 – The new rider course

After choosing the test centre of choice (ART Training….those lucky people!) Getting booked onto the new rider course, then the day arrives to get back on a motorbike.

I arrive at ART training after following their very good directions. The weather was not on my side I’m afraid, but then what did I really expect learning in the winter!

So I arrive at the centre, to a warm welcome by Kim, and Frank, with beaming smiles. Suddenly my nerves hit in for reasons I can’t even explain. Anyway Frank (or Spanky as he is more fondly known! I didn’t think I ask questions!!) asks me about my riding experience, I give him the small low down on it, 2 mins later and my life signed away into the safety of his hands, its time to get practical.

So, I didn’t mention before I hadn’t thought too much on my attire, except for my huge grin (from nerves and excitement) and my sparkly new helmet (from topgearsuperstore.)
I was donning my huge brown new rock boots, yes new rock you may say, great for biking! Well these have a large platform and heel, photo of these to follow on request!

After a long conversation on these with Kim and Spanky, we decide I will get on the bike and see how it goes, as these boots are more or less attached to my feet at all time, and during many of my daily activities.

Did I say in my last blog that ART provide the basics whilst you train with them? Well I lied. They more or less provide everything you need! I am faced with a wall of new waterproof jackets nicely hung in all sizes, a wall of gloves again hanging in size order. Followed by high-vis vest, trousers (if required,) and helmets. I was very impressed as I remember back in the day of my last CBT it was just a bin full of mismatched gloves, wet jackets, and that was pretty much all they gave you, oh and a helmet that looked like it was just about surviving, and wouldn’t protect anything on impact! I’m told that these types of places are still around training people, basically from a shed with no luxury facilities!

Back to ART, I didn’t mention that they don’t train you from a shed either! They have a large, heated cabin, with chairs, tea and coffee making facilities, and toilets.
If there are any other budding bikers out there I would recommend you think about these things when choosing a training school, as although you are there to ride a bike, all these other things come into play before and after the class.

Ok, so in a nice new waterproof jacket, gloves, helmet, high Vis. All check. All that left is to see if I will be able to ride in my boots. 5mins later on the bike the boots will do the job.

First thing Spanky got me doing was taking the bike of the stand. Great I thought – easy. 5 mins later I’m still tooing and frooing tying to get it off the stand. By this point it feels like 20 mins, and I feel a bit of an idiot! I finally more or less get it. Oh did I mention I’m vertically challenged, standing at 5ft 1”. Yes the 1” is important!

Moving on, I learn 1st gear, and neutral. Again easy you say. 20 mins later im still trying to put it into neutral from first, I start to manage it by going into second, and tapping down. Spanky reassures me that alot of people do this! I have to say it wasn’t the boots, but turns out after years of dancing I don’t have a gentle touch in my feet!

I will just stop there and say by this point I’m starting to think this is not going my way, or maybe I’m just not very good! Spanky is reassuring though, which is slightly helping.

Give it half an hour and I’m flying round the track, stopping at relevant points, and pulling off again. Before I know it Spanky is getting me changing gear, weaving through cones, and doing figures of 8. OK the figures of 8 were quite difficult, and after mild hysteria, managed about 1 decent one. But the gear change etc was going well.

I’d like to point out at this point it was raining quite hard, and I was doing very well, so Spanky was moving me on quickly.
I then had a taster of what’s to come in the CBT, like U turns, emergency stops and using indicators. I can hear all you bikers out there chuckling to yourselves that you don’t think twice about these things when riding now, but try to take yourselves back to being a learner. ;o)

By this point I’m feeling really good, and realised how I hadn’t noticed how quickly a) the time had gone and b), how fast spanky had moved me on. What a great instructor. I would like to add that during some of these tricky manoeuvres, my smile had gone and turned to concentration – sometimes too much. At these points Spanky would yell to me to keep smiling which made me relax, and therefore ride better.

It was such a great experience and has given me a real confidence to go on to do my CBT. The new rider course is such a good idea, and at a price of only £55 for 2 hours hire, it’s a real bargain.

I have now booked onto do my CBT and cant wait. A bit nervous about being outside the confines of the fenced of track that ART have, but I’m sure I will be fine.

Now I’m off to study my highway code a bit more.

Due to the weather no photos, or video was taken during this time, but fingers crossed we will have some road action from my CBT.

Muse3 - Winter riding by endemoniada_88

Grey Horizon (MPH MMIV)

So, winter riding: still a topical subject, particularly given the current cold snap we are experiencing. In fact, this is about as bad as it gets down here in the South: sub-zero temperatures all day long, anonymous grey cloud stretching to the horizon in all directions, morning frost thick enough to look like snowfall and the ever-present dangers of black ice and careless, frozen motorists.

Granted, it's a little more difficult to appreciate the joys of biking under such circumstances, but all-year-round means just that. Unless conditions are utterly hazardous, it's still better, faster and more fun to be rolling on two wheels. The only question, really, is which two?

It's long been one of my contentions that any bike can be an all-weather, all-purpose vehicle with the addition of four items of equipment – Scottoiler, crash protectors, sport rack and cargo net - and a can of WD40. It's worked on an awful lot of bikes over the years, during which time I've had to borrow something with four wheels or resort to public transport no more than a handful of times.

There are some obvious disadvantages to this basic approach, of course.

The first is cost and inconvenience if it should all go wrong. My first proper winter crash was carried out on a lovely, shiny '86 VFR750. Being on the young and foolish side, I looked at the rutted, part-melted ice and decided it would be fine. And so it was - until the first corner. Turning on to a shady side road had me sliding helplessly on a flawless, frozen sheet. Miraculously, I didn't fall off, but turning around was out of the question, so it seemed like a good idea to creep around the block, park up back at home and walk to work. Nearly made it, too...but the very last corner put me down on my ear, wrecked the fairing and my leg. And I still had to walk to work, not just that day but until the VFR was fixed - at great expense.

The second is that, although it can be done, it may not always be comfortable. I spent one winter on a harshly-throttled '96 Fireblade and another on an '01 GSXR1000 with a badly squared-off and largely-shot rear Pirelli. With both, when the frosts came, it was a job not to be highsided at every corner and sometimes, with immoderate use of the throttle, even in a straight line. Never actually got as far as falling off either, but the constant feeling of being about to did get a bit wearing on the nerves. Too much power for the conditions, really, even trying to keep it all smooth and progressive.

The third is cosmetic damage. Not that I have much in the way of mechanical or aesthetic sympathy, but when the salt and gravel are down in thick, damaging layers and every metal part on the bike is turning either brown or furry – and sometimes, both – it does leave me feeling a certain amount of guilt about maltreating my vehicle. Probably not a good plan, either, if intending to get top dollar on a trade-in at any point in the future.

There is a near-perfect solution to this, though: buy another bike, preferably of the genus known as "winter hack". Not least among the arguments for doing so is that will give you at least two bikes to mess around with – and that can only be a good thing.

Opinions vary considerably as to what constitutes a good hack: the answer, it would seem, is pretty much anything that a rider can get along with, bearing in mind it will deliberately be exposed to abuse in order to save a "proper" bike. It simplifies the purchasing process somewhat: style and desirability not an issue, cheapness and reliability definitely are. Not just cheap to purchase, either – there will be insurance, road tax, consumables and spares to think about. Best to pick something with a bit of weight and stability, a fairing or screen for weather protection, enough power to be interesting but not so much as to make it a real handful. Reliable electrics and cold-weather fuelling are a must - again, it will be called upon to perform in unpleasant conditions – and a simple, unburstable engine configuration is highly desirable.

In short, leave out the more exotic manufacturer experiments and pick any middleweight or above nineties Japanese motorcycle. It'll do the job.

That said, I've spent more winters without a second bike than with. That's probably because the vast majority of the bikes I've owned have actually been middleweight or above nineties Japanese motorcycles already out of the first flush of their youth. Generally, they haven't been unique or valuable enough to justify owning a spare and most of them have come through the grim months uncrashed and without too much environmental damage. Which does at least provide evidence for the theory that they are ideal bad-weather bikes.

For a change, though, I started the 2008 off-season with a new and still-shiny GSXR600 and wanted to keep it that way. An ideal opportunity to pick up a hack bike arose when a friend decided to sell his weatherbeaten and misfiring TDM850 at a knockdown price. A new coil, a couple of weekends in the garage tidying up and fettling and the TDM was good to go: fully otr for less than a grand. I'm not usually a big fan of twins – although my previous favourite hack was a similarly parallel twin GPZ500S – but the Yamaha makes a great winter ride. Spacious, stable, adequate weather protection and good visibility from the high saddle. Currently top of my personal recommended list, although I'm sure others will have different favourites.

Having reverted to type, the GSXR went a couple of months ago, to be replaced by another nineties big-bore supertanker (Suzuki RF900R, since you ask). Having wintered on an RF some years ago, they're more than up to the task all on their own, but the TDM still gets a lot of road time at the moment. Partly that's down to the completely different feel between the twin and the multi keeping it interesting, mainly it's because I don't really mind how much abuse the Yamaha gets. Come the spring I plan to take it apart and respray it all anyway: of course, if it ends up looking any good, I may need a third bike to hack for next winter...

So, if you want to ride the year around – and, as noted before, why wouldn't you? – it's just a case of getting the right tool for the job. And if that isn't the bike already in your garage, well, there are plenty of options out there that will cost less than the annual depreciation of your sunny Sunday hyperbike and give you an extra three months or more a year in the saddle rather than stuck in a small tin box inching slowly towards the grey horizon.

Go on, you know it makes sense...

Cold, wet and grey...Yamaha weather again

#1 Before even getting on a bike!

In my new role for UKBike, I feel it’s only my responsibility to become a fully fledged biker!
That means a full bike license. Yes it’s a duty in my new role, but I’ve wanted it for ages!

Being right in the middle of the biker’s world, I have easily started to make contacts and get good advice on the way to go about getting my license in style!

So where does one start? I have my provisional bike license already, so that’s one thing done. Next CBT, well I haven’t been on a bike since the last time I did a CBT so maybe a gentle easing back in to a bike would be a good thing.

So, after hunting round through a fair few training schools I have chosen the people who are going to train me. They are ART training, based in Crawley, the main man being Steve.
After having a great chat with Steve I am booked in for my first lesson. Like I say its been several years…ok 12 years since I last did my CBT, so it’s a bit un-nerving getting back on a bike, especially in winter. So Steve suggested I do a new course they have called the ‘New Rider’ course. It’s like a pre-CBT, to get you used to riding a bike, without having to go out on the road 10 Min's after you’ve just learned to ride the thing!

So with being booked in, my mind turns to my outfit. Just kidding, I mean my protective gear! ART do supply the basics such as helmet, gloves and high vis etc whilst in training, but if you know your in it for the long run, best to get kitted out from the off! At least with my own helmet.

So after seriously messing up my hair, and trying on a dozen helmets, I’m told the best helmet for my shaped head is an Arai. Therefore the best thing for me to do is get this brand of helmet. I wasn't aware that they differed so much. I thought you could just measure your head and go get any helmet of the shelf! You learn something new everyday! Apparently its very important to get a well fitted helmet so you don’t have problems later. (Watch this space!)

I am now at the Topgearsuperstore trying on helmets. Yet again earrings out, hair like I've been pulled through a hedge backwards. Yes the Arai is the one for me. Even better comes in true Binny style with a skull and cross bones down the side, SUPER, one please!
To tell you the truth Ian from TGSS went to a lot of trouble to get me the one I wanted, which I really appreciate. (Such good staff at that shop!)

So all that’s left is kit, and then my first lesson.

I can’t wait!!

PTW industry holding on during the downturn

Numbers in from the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) show that motorbike sales in the UK throughout 2008 remained healthy despite the economic downturn, as a wider range of people turned to bikes as an effective solution to rising transport costs.

A total of 139,715 motorbikes were registered in 2008, which is merely 4,866 or 3.4% less compared to 2007. The car market plunged by 11.3% in 2008.

The MCI's Sheila Rainger said: "With a robust performance very close to 2007, the motorcycle market and industry is providing further evidence that powered two-wheelers offer a credible and very affordable transport option. We will all continue to face financial pressures in 2009, and with rail fares increasing by as much as 11% and incentives such as bikes being able to use bus lanes, motorcycle use is more relevant and practical than ever."

"There was a big increase in motorcycle tests in 2008, and dealers selling new and used bikes to people taking to two wheels for the first time. The industry is well-placed to offer people a cost and congestion-busting alternative for everyday transport and this year, we will be campaigning hard to urge people to join in, as well as working to increase safety and transport provisions for motorcyclists."

Last year's top-selling model was the Honda CBR 1000RR (pictured above).

Six And The City and The Boy Biker: December's articles on

What with the new site design which launched this morning, we've been a bit pre-occupied lately. So it's taken a while, but finally here are December's exclusive articles courtesy of the Rider's Digest. Enjoy...

"I have always been unlucky when it comes to breaking rules, because all the way through my school life it was always me that seemed to get caught. I was just never any good at covering up or looking out for people watching, in fact I was just too honest. And that’s why de-restricting my moped seems like a bit too much of a risk, because I always get caught, and getting caught with a moped that is de-restricted and therefore no longer a moped is quite a big thing. I would certainly be prosecuted for no licence and no insurance and that’s just for starters..."
- read on at The Boy Biker @

"As my P45 hasn’t landed on my desk, I’m still plodding away at work. Whilst sitting here in my Louboutin splendour, there are a few tell-tale signs that what you see is a thin veneer of corporate polish and underneath, subversion lurks…
My lid lives on the end of my desk. (My standard response to men fiddling with the Suomy: ‘I don’t play with your helmet, kindly don’t play with mine’)
My screen saver is his Rossiness getting his knee and elbow down and it all indicates that I like bikes but most people assume I’ve got a moped, and a certain visitor behind me was no exception:
"What bike do you ride?"
Me, obtusely, "A small black one."
- read on at Six And The City @

New Suzuki XC range announced

Suzuki GB have revealed the new RM XC cross-country bike range for 2009.

The spin-offs from the popular RM range come in 125 and 250 flavours, upgraded with a larger capacity fuel tank, hand guards, O-ring chain and a Relentless Fast Eddy replica graphics kit.

The RM125XC retails at £3920 inc VAT, while the RM250XC will cost £4210 inc VAT.

MotoGP 09: Kawasaki set to pull out

John Hopkins

Over the New Year it was revealed that Kawasaki were to pull out of the 2009 MotoGP season, leaving riders John 'Hopper' Hopkins and Marco Melandri without a team, and only four factory teams remaining on the track.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Kawasaki are yet to make a formal announcement, but the BBC reports that the economic climate and poor returns on the circuit are likely to be the main factors of the pull-out. Since joining the MotoGP tour in 2003, the team has failed to win a race.

Despite speculation linking Melandri with an immediate switch to the Gresini team, the plans of both riders are very much unknown. It has also been rumoured that the Aspar team are looking to keep the Kawasaki MotoGP profile alive for the forthcoming season.

Kawasaki are the latest in a line of Japanese manufacturers to pull out of motorsport in recent months; Honda announced that they were leaving Formula 1 back in December, while Suzuki and Subaru have withdrawn from this year's World Rallying championship.

New modular motorbike test - consultation period coming to an end

As previously reported back in November, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) have published proposals for a new motorbike practical test which would see the current single-event test being split into two modules.

The six-week consultation period ends this Friday, and the DSA have made a final call for feedback on the proposals from the bike industry as well as riders.

The proposals can be seen at the DSA website.

Happy new year! London's bus lanes now open to bikers

Hello and welcome back to the UKBike blog! We hope that all our readers had a good break. The seasonal celebrations are now well and truly behind us, but with the new year comes a fresh batch of bike shows, new models and news from the world of two wheelers - plenty to keep our readers entertained.

Today marks the first day of Boris Johnson's experiment to allow motorbikes to use London's 'red route' bus lanes. As we reported back in October, the plan was met with opposition from the London Cycling Campaign who delivered a 3,500-name petition to the Mayor's office in protest.

Still, the bus lanes were opened to motorbikes this morning and the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCI) have marked the occasion by publishing a code of conduct for city riders who intend to use the lanes.

The code was developed with the Metropolitan Police, and contains guidance and information for bikers, emphasising the benefits as well as the dangers of riding in a shared space.

MCI's Craig Carey-Clinch said: "Motorcycles in bus lanes is good news for road safety and will also help to improve accessibility for motorcyclists who travel in London. However, it is essential that riders use this new freedom responsibly. This is why the MCI and its partners have developed the Code, which provides valuable advice and encourages riders to be aware of pedestrians and cyclists when they ride in bus lanes."

The MCI's code can be viewed at the MCI website.