September 17, 2002

Absence make the heart grow, er, something or other

Well, it's been a while. Busy, busy, busy. Oh, and lazy, lazy, lazy as well. An email from someone who's just bought a Pan was all the reminder I needed to get back on the case. On which, there will probably be more in a bit. Thanks, David.

Time for an update, I guess.

Well, later on anyway.

Back in a bit...

August 02, 2002

A bit of peace and quiet

This break has been brought to you by some busy times at work and the flu.

July 29, 2002


Dropped the ST today. I'm not quite sure how it happened, either.

I'd just filled up at a petrol station, fired up the motor and was doing a U-turn to leave the station the way I'd come in. At the apex of the turn, the engine cut out and, even though I got my foot down, the bike was too far over for me to do anything but slow the fall.

After I'd picked it up, it turns out the kill switch was set to off. Now, the bike was under power, so I can only imagine I clipped the switch while filling up and it fell the rest of the way shut from the engine vibrations.

Plus points are: The sticky-out bit on the side works brilliantly and has small scuff on it now. No other part of the bike touched the ground at all. And I discovered I can pick the bike up unassisted, something about which I was unsure.

Downsides? Well, there a wee scuff, obviously. (Yes, another one. That makes three, so far.) I felt like a total arse as the bike keeled over underneath me. And, on the first day for three weeks without any pain in my knee, I've put way too much stress on it. And it's starting to seize up again... Bum!

PS My apologies to any innocent passers-by on the A215 who had to listen to the tirade of verbal abuse I was directing at myself.

July 28, 2002

Another "no biking" day.

More family stuff means I haven't been out on the bike again today. Not that I really mind as my little girl has been on a major charm offensive.

I did get to buy some summer gloves, though, from Hein Gericke. Over the years I've become a big fan of their gear, so I have high hopes. I bought a pair of V1 ventilated gloves which are definitively non-waterproof on account of the perforated armour.

On Monday, I'll probably go in search of a cooler replacement for my leathers, too. The stuff at H-G was alright but they need to order in stuff in my size. I'll probably look in at Aye Gee on the way home.

(It's probably worth mentioning that I have no hidden interests, no undisclosed agendas when talking about these companies. I'm just (fairly) honestly posting my experiences.)

July 27, 2002

A few figures...

OK, then. I've had the Pan for over a fortnight and this blog is supposed to be about owning and living with the Pan rather than (as well as?) my own soapbox.

Real life performance indicators, then...

Journeys have all been either a 40 mile commute or a quick trip to the local town and back. The commute is split fairly evenly between congested motorway/A-Road and stop/start/filtering through Central London.

Fuel consumption has averaged a pretty steady 38.5mpg (that's 7.3l/100km for our continental friends). Given that the journeys have been as mentioned above, this bodes well for longer haul journeys on more open roads.

The bike starts to bleat about needing more juice with about 5 litres in hand,so the average refill is about 26 litres and the range is about 220 miles.

Wasted day...

A beautiful weekend but so far, no riding. Too much other stuff to do.

Oh, and Mr Thickie here, who's been running in his bike for the first 500 miles (as advised by a casual scan of the manual)... Mr Thickie who thought, well, the first service is at 600 miles so I'll run it gentle till then. Mr Thickie who was looking in the manual and this time notices the running in time is 500 kilometres. Duh.

Never mind, I can't see how it's a bad thing. And I can start to enjoy myself with a clear conscience, eh?

I dropped off the loan bike yesterday (Thank you, God!) just in time to see some dignitary from Honda (Japan, that is) leaving the dealership. A slight delay in picking up the Pan, then, but no real trauma. The first (600 mile) service cost the princely sum of 30 quid and will certainly be the cheapest one I ever have done. And most of that went on oil.

What a fab ride home, comparing the new bike with the one I'd just left behind. Everything felt so, well, so right. Designed rather than flung together, if you know what I mean? Not really a fair comparison, I suppose.

July 26, 2002

Service Day

Dropped the bike in for a service last night and picked up the courtesy bike: a Honda Deauville.

If you're not familiar with the Deauville, it's a 650cc entry-level tourer in a broadly similar style to the Pan European. And this one is, I hope, a dreadful example of the bike.

Three years old with 28k on the clock, it's quite the worst bike I've ridden in at least 10 years. I suppose it's a good example of the reasons I bought a new bike and why I chose the Pan.

Reason the Deauville isn't a pleasant ride due to its age:
The clutch is appalling. It's really sloppy and everything happens in the last few mm of lever travel.
The gearbox isn't any better. You get no feedback on whether you've changed gear or not and neutral is difficult to locate.
The panniers don't fasten firmly on one side. God knows what would happen if it came open at speed, so I've tied it off with a bungee cord.

Reasons I prefer the Pan to the Deauville:
The riding position on the Deauville is, er, cramped. And my left foot always presses gently up on the gear selector.
There's no automatic choke.
The screen is inadequate and non-adjustable.
Oh, lots more stuff including power delivery, lights and all sorts of stuff.

Ah, well. It's only for a day. I get my bike back tonight...

July 24, 2002

Lots of bikes

Sort of went to that bike meet I mentioned last week. It's at a caf� (must get the name next time) on the southbound on-slip for the A2 at the Bean interchange.

I just got time to ogle the 60 or so bikes there before I was summoned home. Served as a reminder that I really should clean the Pan from time to time. All the bikes there were immaculate. Apart from mine, that is.

More next week, hopefully.

July 23, 2002

Note to self: Be more careful.

Overconfidence. You gotta love it.

It seems that because the bike is so competent, stable and generally confidence inspiring, I have fallen victim to my own propaganda. I genuinely believed that I had become a truly expert rider (overnight) with the added bonus of immortality and immunity to harm thrown in.

I am pleased to say that I have been disabused of these notions without personal injury of any sort.

Some over enthusiastic flinging of the Pan through rush hour traffic with little concern for my own safety led to me ending up between to rapidly converging articulated lorries. Only some heavy braking (Yes, the ABS works beautifully, thank you.) avoided me becoming some sort of roadside pat�.

In other words, I frightened the crap out of myself.

Now I'm back to my more accustomed defensive riding style, I'm hoping to be around long enough to keep posting entires here. And, I have the constant reminder of a slight scuff on one wing mirror to remind me.


July 21, 2002

How sad am I?

I've caught myself making up excuses to go out on the bike. In the past ten days I've:

Gone to the bank.
Nipped out to post some letters.
Collected a take-away. From a place that delivers. Twice.

This has got to stop.

Yesterday, I booked the bike in for its 600 mile service. The dealer are supplying a courtesy bike.

July 18, 2002

Many Kentish Bikers

Back on the bike today and had a fab trip in/out. The weather is (too) hot, mind. It's that typical English version of hot. British weather can't be bothered to reach actually high temperatures so it settles for moderate ones with ridiculously high humidity.

I've "found" a biker meet near Bean in Kent. Must go along next week and see what it's all about.

July 16, 2002

No play for me.


A busy weekend followed by a bad knee (old skiing injury)* means I haven't been out on the bike in days. :-(

Still, I have been able to work from home and see more of my family which is a nice change.

* This is much better than saying I fell over on the nursery slope and twisted my knee. Bless them, the NHS have only just decided to refer me to someone who will take a proper look at the injury. After four and a half years. Only a few months to wait for an appointment, then another year or so for treatment. Remind me: I pay taxes. Why???

July 12, 2002

Danger: Wide Vehicle

In spite of the ridiculously good low-speed handling of the Pan, there's no getting away from the fact that it's very, very wide.

Fortunately, the mirrors are a very good measure of the width of the panniers. In fact, they're slightly wider which compensates for the fact that the rear wheel turns slightly inside the front wheel on the tighter, low-speed turns.

Of course, this didn't stop me from scuffing the a pannier on day one. Nothing serious, just a dull streak an inch or so long, but I know it's there. Maybe I'll be able to polish it out?

Still, back to the subject at hand: Filtering...

The fact remains that there are places the Pan won't go and (more germanely) gaps it won't fit through. This means I can end up at the head of quite a queue of filtering bikes, especially on the way in to work. I've actually had to start pulling in from time to time to let these leaner, lither machines past.

Gee, I'm such a nice guy! ;-)

Even so, I find I'm filtering much more confidently on the Pan than on other bikes just because of the low speed stability.

July 11, 2002

Home again.

Well, that was interesting. Hacking my way through the London rush hour on a bike was both educational and exhilarating.

And I managed to get a slight scuff on one of the panniers already. :(

Glad I cleared a space in the garage for the Pan. It's bigger than I thought it would be (in relation to the garage).

July 10, 2002

Picked up the bike today!

I am now the proud owner of a Honda Pan European STX-1300A2E.

There was a little strangeness when I went to collect it, so please bear with me while I digress.

Honda supply the Pan in three colours: Red, Silver and Green.

(Click on here and then click on the boxes to the right of the bike to see it in the various colours.) All clear, yes?

Well, I didn't order a red one. The demonstrator was a red one and it's a horrible colour, I thought. (Apologies to those who disagree, just telling it as I see it.)

And I didn't order a silver one. I saw one on the road and it's too light in colour for me. It'll show every scratch, every speck of dirt. Now I'm not a particularly fastidious bike owner and I ride the bike a lot, so this wasn't really an option as it'd look tatty in no time at all.

So, I ordered a green one. And that's where the strangeness started...

I arrived to pick up the bike and the dealer went off to get it from the service area. Now I could see into there from the forecourt and I can see two Pans: a red one and a black one. Well, neither of those is mine, thought I, I've ordered a green one. So, I was a bit confused when the dealer starts to wrestle the black one out of the doors. Even stranger, when it came into the light of day, it turns out the bike wasn't clack at all.

Oh, no. It was blue! By now, my brain has figured that something odd is going on. After all, they only come in Red, Green and Silver, don't they? Don't they???

And the fun wasn't over. The sun chose this moment to come out and the bike turned... "Green!" I hear you cry? Well, eventually, yes, when the sun was fully out but for a little while it was, er, purple. Yes, purple.

The best way to describe the colour is that it's like the older Nokia phones (5110/6110) which have that strange "depends on the light" colour scheme.

OK, OK, enough about the colour.

I got a run through on the extras: ABS, electric screen and remote (i.e. accessible) rear suspension adjuster. Then it was a pleasant ride home, show off to the wife and child and straight to work.

July 09, 2002


I want my bike and I want it NOW!

The forces of darkness are conspiring against me to make me as unhappy as possible. Todays trip to/from work was the worst I've had in over two years. I spent just over six (yes, SIX!) hours travelling today. Add that to a ten hour day at work and you can see why I'm feeling a bit drained....

Add to that the fact that every time I've seen a bike in the last few days, I've had pangs of jealousy and impatience.

I'm going to go and kill some aliens as therapy.


July 04, 2002

Delivery date

It should be ready by next Wednesday the 10th. Wahoo!

Actually, that's really handy 'cos my commuter tickets run out on Tuesday the 9th. It's gotta be fate...

July 03, 2002

The test ride.

It's a typical English summer day. That's another way of saying that it's raining. A lot.

Never mind. On with the ride... I've bought a new helmet and some leathers that fit (I've, er, expanded a little over the years) but discover I've also worn a hole in my boots so the dealer gets a quick sale on a new pair before the main event. I then sign my life away, get the keys to their demo bike and a quick tour of the controls. Then the sales bloke goes back inside and I'm left with that strange "now that I've got it, what am I going to do with it" feeling.

So, I spend a few minutes going round the bike and fathom the remaining controls. And open the panniers to see if my new lid fits. It does with stacks of room to spare.

No putting it off any further, so onto the bike I get.

There's no denying that this is a big bike. A very big bike. And tall with it. Not a problem for me but I guess that in spite of the height-adjustable seat, it will be a major problem for shorter riders. When I turned the engine over, I was surprised that it revved so low at tickover (900-1000 rpm). So surprised that I stalled it on the forecourt. Twice.

Cheeks burning with embarrassment, I headed off on my planned test route. Over the next hour, I took in the M2 (motorway with and without roadworks), the A229 (a fast road, in places), some back lanes and both Rochester and Chatham town centres. Hardly glamorous but a good mix of the sorts of road I'll be using every day. The Pan handed me a number of surprises, mostly pleasant:

Surprise 1: Engine vibration. Let's get the nasty one out of the way first. There was a lot of this up through the bars and it stayed fairly constant up through the revs. Nothing dangerous, you understand but very noticeable.

Surprise 2: Heavy but not heavy. Bearing in mind this Pan weighs in at over 280kg (over 50% more than my previous bike) it hides its' paunch very well. Yes, it's a bastard to get on the centre stand (even with the excellent retractable handle provided) and, yes, it's a bit of a pig to push around the place. But as soon as it's moving, where on earth does all the weight go? Even trickling through traffic, the Pan seems agile.

Surprise 3: Great mirrors. No, really. They are.

When I finished the test ride, I sort of had a moment of weakness and ordered one. In green. With a top box and heated grips and a power socket and an alarm and, and, and...

I think I should go for a lie down in a darkened room.

July 02, 2002

In the beginning...

The game is afoot! The result of months of saving, persuading and pleading mean I can go ahead and actually look at buying a new bike for real! HURRAH! Right, then. I've booked a test ride at a local Honda dealer for Wednesday on a Pan European. Should be fun.

Hmmm. Local. What do I mean by that, then? I suppose a bit of background is in order:

I live in Kent (that's in England, dears) with my wife and 2yr old daughter. I'm in my late 30s, work in IT and have been riding bikes since I was 12 or so. That's probably more than you want/need to know but, er, tough. Too late.

Buying a bike has been brought on by the difficulty of using public transport to get to my job in central London and by the onset of the usual mid-life crisis that middle aged blokes go through when they realise that middle age isn't something that happens exclusively to other people...

I suppose I could go big on lists now. You know, list of bikes owned, list of places I've lived, list of medications etc, etc. Frankly, I just can't be bothered.

On that cheery note, I'm off to bed. Back in a couple of days!