January 20, 2003

Speedboat, anyone?

Bear with me. This post is a bit of an epic. The speedboat reference will become clear at the end. Promise...

It's raining. Again.

OK, so it's England and it isn't either of the days of Summer, so what do I expect? Well, normally I don't let the weather bother me. You know, water off a ducks' back and all that. But I'm still on the loaner Deauville. Weather protection? Well, it doesn't rain directly onto your groin but just about everything else gets wet.

Don't get me wrong, I have a decent set of waterproofs for just this sort of occasion but unless it's really raining, I don't generally need them on the Pan. On this Deauville thingy, you have to haul them on at the first sign of rain or you're going to be soaked through in short order.

I'm not sure how much of my objection to this is driven by the fact that I really, really don't like the Deauville. Not at all. Uh, uh.

Things like the brakes... The front's generally OK though it's not really powerful enough to stop quickly from speed but the back one is hopeless.

The mirrors... In which I get a lovely view of both the kerb and my elbows.

The motor... Which really does define characterless and uninvolving.

Cornering... Straight lines are great but don't (just don't) corner at speed.

There's other things that aren't really faults in the bike, they're just not what I'm used to. For example, panniers so small and oddly shaped you can't fit a laptop into them. The seat not being adjustable so my knees brush up against the fairing. Having to wear ear-plugs for every trip cos I've seen bigger "screens" on digital watches. You get the idea. All the reasons I bought a Pan.

And, to be fair, it does two things better than the Pan (FX: Gasp!)

1. It's a lot easier to put on the centre stand.
2. It's a lot thinner so filtering through traffic is substantially easier.

Well, I can reclaim the Pan from the dealer tomorrow with, they tell me, the service, recall and warranty work all completed. I can hardly wait.

On a related subject, here's a Pan story I've been saving up. For a rainy day. (Sorry)

You don't often see a manufacturer telling you about the stability of a bike in water, do you? Well, thanks to Herts County Council, there's been a field test. And I can report that the Pan does fairly well in up to 18 inches of the stuff.

On the 2nd of January, I was hooning round some back roads on my way to a Live Roleplaying event (don't even ask) near Potters Bar. I came round a corner at about 50 to see a clearly marked flooded road. 40 yards away. With the sign half covered by, er, well, water.

I managed to scrub a bit of speed off but still hit the water at around 30 mph. Two seconds later, I'm doing 10 mph. Still in a straight line. Still upright.

This was scary. Very scary, actually, and I stopped the bike to see what damage had been done. And there wasn't any, thank goodness. I, on the other hand, was drenched.

My boots were full of water. My helmet was full of water which had splashed upwards under the chinguard then run down my neck and into my jacket.

And I couldn't help but feel I'd got off lightly...

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