February 28, 2003

Cosmetics���.apart from the top box

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Motorbikes are no exception. The Ducati is a nice looking machine but I compare it to a long legged, large chested female with perfect looks. We all dream of them but never have them because a) they don't exist b) we wouldn't know what to do with one if we found one, and c) if we did have one we wouldn't give it what it deserved. The Ducati is meant for the race track and it would be difficult on a public road, despite its looks, to treat it the way it deserves.
The Pan is different because it is a practical bike�.read on��
My bike was delivered to my door by the seller today. It is a '91 model with 59k on the clock and green in colour. The seller dismounted the bike and I stood and looked at it. (bearing in mind I hadn't seen one for 18 months and this, as I have said on my previous posting was a �blind� purchase)
I was quite�very quite�..the seller became nervous�
�Do you like the colour? he asked.
�Er�..yes�it's fine� I said determined to give a masculine reply. I wanted to say �It's beautiful� and IT WAS.
The colour was beautiful. The bike looked beautiful. The shape. The styling. The panniers. The fairing. The �dash� � all were beautiful. This was my perfect woman on 2 wheels. It looked stunning. I was gobsmacked.
How had this beauty evaded me all my life? I wanted to throw out the sofa and park it in my living room. Shame that the previous owner had put an old top box on the rear rack��..that will have to go.
I felt like a pubescent boy reading �Mayfair� for the first time and I was very, very happy.
The big moment had arrived where I had to try the Pan out for size and I climbed on board and kicked up the side stand. Something felt strange. I am 5'8" and both feet were nearly flat on the ground�..HOORAY!!.....and the weight�..where did it go?....RELIEF !!
I started the bike up and rode it 10 foot into my garage and put it to bed.
This has the makings of one of the most exciting periods of my life�..

February 27, 2003

I have a tale to tell...

I am 43 years young, 5'8'' and 15 stone (trying desperately to lose weight but resigned that the middle age spread is hear to stay). I passed my motorbike test some 25 years ago and to be honest know very little about the mechanics of either bikes or cars. My first bike was a Yam RD250LC which I bought because I liked the look of it. The bike caused a big stir amongst my friends at the time who were all running round on the old "Fuzz Peds". I did not understand what all the fuss was about until I needed to get across a X roads pre the 30ft juggernaut approaching from my right.I wound the throttle back, let the clutch out and then found myself looking at the sky whilst covering the junction and a further 10 yards up the road as I performed my first, last and only "wheelie". It must have looked spectacular but I absolutely crapped myself, pulled over to the side of the road, and spent the following 15 minutes vomiting and re-living the moment a thousand times. I sold the bike 4 weeks later after deciding that life was too short to end early on a "2 wheel deathtrap".
The years went by and in my early 30s I found myself short of cash with no car and buying a bike was the only financial option. This was some old Kwak 500 something and yes the buzz was soon back. I went from bike to car and back again over the next 10 years and (touch wood) never crashed my Suzzi 750, Guzzi California or BMW 100 (though I did drop the Guzzi one Sunday whilst in Matlock Bath in front of hundreds of other bikers when the side stand decided to slip back up at the last moment. I found unknown strength and lifted the monster up in a record 0.6 secs).
I prided myself at the time in being an all-weather 365 day biker and know all about getting sodden and frozen.
So, the Suzzi was nicked (lifted into the back of a van despite alarm, immobiliser, padlock and chain) the Guzzi was swapped for an old Rover car (I think I cried the day after and have regretted the swap ever since) and the Beemer gave up the ghost 18 months ago ( a few weeks after I tried to trade it in at the local BMW bike dealer and they laughed at me for not scrapping it !!Yes BMW Bikers are snobs).
I first saw the Pan E five or six years ago and have wanted one ever since and a few weeks ago after getting the all clear from the wife I started doing my homework and read every review/website/magazine I could find which all confirmed my thoughts that the Pan appears to be the best bike in the world (well I think so anyway). However, I could not find one for sale within a 50 mile radius of my home in the Midlands. I am hoping it will do everything I want it to do and more, that is weekend riding, riding to and from work sometimes and the odd short tour with the good lady on the back. I say "hoping" because I have not got my dream bike yet and, slap me round the head if you want, I have never even sat on one let alone test ridden the Pan. My heart tells me one thing and my head stays schtum.
Suicidal as it may sound I have now even paid for a Pan that I haven't even seen and hope to take delivery of it tomorrow (Friday). I won't say where I am getting it from or how much I have paid for it just yet in case this totally wreckless purchase backfires on me. (Come on - I am a bloke for Gods sake).
This Pan European site has been an absolute inspiration to me and will be happy to share my experiences with everyone over the forthcoming weeks/months. I am very nervous about the bikes size/weight but having read various stories I believe my 5'8'' frame will just about cope (remember the tale of the Guzzi - and that was no light machine!!).
My new toy will have full luggage and heated grips and a round thing at either end so it fills my requirements in the short term. I have just got my old leathers out the attic and given them a clean (I didn't know leather shrinks!?!?!?
To be continued.............

More grist to the mill...

As you may have noticed, we have another conributor to welcome. Richard Tucker has joined the fray...

February 26, 2003

The Panniers

Panniers are a standard fitting on the Pan and they're not bad at all.

They'll each swallow a helmet (my head is rather big, no comments please), gloves and waterproofs with ease although adding a jacket or boots becomes a bit of an exercise in efficient packing. They use the ignition key for the lock which is quick to use and (most importantly) is easy to get to. Note: That's each. When riding solo, the panniers alone can hold all my riding gear.

Removing the panniers is very easy. They are removed by using a simple lever release, again locked with the ignition key. Re-attaching them can be a little fiddly but never takes more than a minute or so.

When off the bike, he integrated carrying handles make it easy to tote the panniers about like a small suitcase. The unusual shape of the inside face means they can be awkward to carry unless you face this outwards. Then, you have to be sure that your trousers (or whatever) aren't going to scuff the visible side of the panniers.

Other stuff?? Well, they don't like being over-filled by bulky (as opposed to heavy) stuff and the lid seems to deform a little too easily, preventing it from closing properly under such pressure. They're watertight courtesy of a rubber seal which runs all the way round. Again, if you're packing them pretty solidly, you have to be careful not to interfere with the seal as this can prevent them from closing properly.

All in all, they're proving to be most useful. And have been much enhanced by the optional pannier bags I bought. These seem to be fairly rugged and, although they don't fill every last bit of the pannier, you can be sure that if your stuff fits in the bag, you can put the bag straight into the pannier.

February 25, 2003

Ten thousand miles...

And climbing. Finally passed the 10k mark. Over the next few weeks, I'll try to work out what running the Pan has actually cost to run.

Watch this space...

February 23, 2003


Eight. Eight. The burning Eight!
Between Sunday and Monday lies a day so Dark it will Devastate...

So, care to guess which film I've just been watching?

February 20, 2003

Congestion Charge

(Note for our overseas visitors: London has introduced a charging scheme which means you pay �5 (That's around �7.50 or $8) per day to drive into the city centre. There are exemptions and one of these is cover all two wheelers, even those with sidecars, so I don't pay. But not trikes, which do have to stump up the cash. Go figure.)

It's difficult to say whether there's been much impact yet. The roads are quite quiet. But, it's also half-term for the local schools so I have no idea whether there's been any measurable effect on traffic.

What I can say is that there's definitely been an increase in motorbikes on the road recently. That might just be the approaching Spring bringing the return of the fair-weather bikers but I don't think so. There's been a particularly noticeable increase in the number of what I can only call Commuter Scooters.

You know the kind of thing I mean. Ranging from BMWs curious C1 and Honda's overblown Silver Wing down through the Yamahas, Benellis (when did they come back?), Piaggios and Vespas, right down to the perennially popular C70s, C50s and their clones. The twist-and-go easy access route for the non-hardcore biker to get onto two wheels.

The main effect I've noticed from this is that there seem to be more small bikes broken down at the roadside and that the filtering queues have become longer. Many of the pilots of these smaller bikes lack the top end, the confidence or the will to make good progress. Don't know if it'll pass in time but I suspect not.

February 19, 2003

I love it!

Being self employed has its advantages. Yesterday was sunny and more than a little chilly - but it was nice to just go for a ride without having to be somewhere. A nice run across country to High Wycombe, down through Marlow, touch Surrey and back up through Rickmansworth. Naturally, had to stop at every bike shop I saw and for once didn't buy anything - but this is nice - always got offered a coffee by the salesman. A lovely run of about 75 miles.
Next week I am mainly in Pontypridd!!!! Bet the weather changes.

February 18, 2003


Minus four when I set out this morning, riding very gingerly till I hit the main roads.

Turned the heated grips up to 3 (out of 4) for the first time and got to work feeling toasty, especially as it had warmed up to a near-tropical minus one by that point.

Saw a lot of cold, miserable looking bikers today though, one of whom was doing as I used to before the Pan: Warming his hands on the cylinder head...

February 16, 2003

The Electric Screen

I was disappointed at first. I had visions of it being some sort of Force Field so when it turned out to be just an electrically adjustable screen, I was gutted.

OK, so: Wossit like?

Well, it's very good. When it's all the way up, you're almost completely shielded from the weather, meaning you only need waterproofs on longer trips when it's really hoofing it down. And when you start filtering, you can drop it down for better visibility. And when it's raining, the screen creates a slight downdraft on the visor which blows the raindrops downwards, off the field of view. It's fab.

If only the passing light was as easy to get to/control as the screen.

February 13, 2003

590 Miles!

The first service is booked for next Saturday morning! Not an expensive one �25 for the oil and filter, no labour.

I've been a real hardened rider this week, gone to work on the Pan every day. It's only two and a half miles there, but it can be much longer coming home! My Bandit hated wet roads. I don't know why but the Pan isn't bothered.

I love this bike!

February 12, 2003

The 1100ST Freestyle Swimming Champion!!!!

I'm back! What a trip!
I, and the pan behaved beautifully. I'm not one to be put off by the odd accident or incident, but I don't think I've ever travelled in so much water constantly. It was raining when I left for Middlesborough - and continued non stop till I got back last night about 10pm.
I have a SPADA waterproof two piece - and it didn't let in anything the whole time. One of my better purchases.
Little story:- One of my call outs was to a sheep trapped in a fence on the moors. It had got its head stuck in a wire net fence - struggled for hours and wound itself around the inner barbed wire. The call out was from the Police at 1.15am in the morning.
Imagine you are driving down the road - rain lashing - and suddenly in the headlights you see a madman in a motorcycle suit, legs astride a sheep, appearing for all the world like he's *********** it!!!!!
The local bobbie arrived - laughed - took a polaroid - and buggered off. I got back to my hotel at about 3.30am, went to bed for a few hours and then into the council offices at nine. TO BE GREETED BY PHOTOCOPIES OF THE POLAROID PLASTERED ALL OVER THE OFFICES.
I can never go back to Middlesborough!

February 11, 2003

Filling her up...

Hmm. Got to a petrol station and was somewhat low on petrol.

And put in 29.83 litres of fuel.

Into a 29 litre tank.

Oops. Guess I just missed walking to the garage...

February 10, 2003

A Different Kind of Living

As I was going to drive to France and then fly back, I needed to get the bike to the airport so I could get home in a reasonable time on Sunday.

So, we drove up to Stansted in convoy. Following the car on the Pan, I discovered a few things:

1. It is possible to adhere to the speed limits.

2. It's very easy to follow a car but you need incredible restraint if you're to be followed by one.

3. Fuel consumption isn't as dramatically increased as you might think.

4. It takes a lot longer to get anywhere when you drive like that.

February 09, 2003

Busy times

I've been a bit quiet for a few days. It's budget time at work and I had to find the time to drive (by car) to our place in France and then fly back.

Back on form tomorrow, hopefully.

February 07, 2003

Touring Test

Ok, so the journey was only a little over 50 miles and it was only to Katrine's Dad's but we decided to treat the weekend away as if it were a long distance expedition. After-all wasting weekends is what we bought the Pan for.

Since I was picking Katrine up direct from work it was a proper test. A weekend's stuff plus all of Katrine's riding gear (less her jacket, which she wore to work, apparently it's been a bit cold lately). There is a theory that all you need to pack when touring is; clean pants and socks, tooth brush and passport (where applicable). We saved some space; we were only going to Wales, so no passport. First find a space for all the normal riding gear (including the armour from Katrine's jacket). As its winter there were several 'layers' to wedge in. Then as we didn't intend to spend all our time wearing biking gear there was some normal clothes to squeeze in too. Considering the amount of stuff I was left to pack, unsupervised I might add. I think the panniers coped very well. The only thing that wouldn't fit was Katrine's helmet so that was put in the rucksack and 'netted' to the rack/back seat. The rack isn't exactly very big, so I thought the helmet would be more secure on the seat. When Katrine had changed we discovered that Katrine's brief case it's the wrong shape to fit in a pannier. So we left that at her office, transferring the vital stuff into the now vacant rucksack, and scrunching it into a pannier, all in all very impressive.

So far we've not had the Pan fully loaded. I was curious to find out if I'd have the opportunity to 'adjust' the suspension. As I explained above the panniers were packed solid, but I still had no reason to mess with the suspension. As the roads were quite busy, and it snowed on the way we didn't get much chance to test the effect on 'interesting' Welsh road handling until the return journey.

As I mentioned, it snowed. Admittedly it was just blowing off the road so the risk of skidding on the evil stuff was reduced but, it was so heavy at times it was like fog. The fact that the Pan is so forgiving to my cowardice we were able to endure 20 minutes of arctic conditions without the need for any huskies. At one point the visibility was so bad I only dared go 25 miles an hour. After we'd got there it stopped snowing and started to rain. Next time I'm going to be late picking Katrine up (as usual) then it will be all gone before we set off!

Saturday was a different story altogether. Dry, calm, wonderful roads, we had a great day of bimbling about. Well worth the effort of the Friday night.

Sunday�s crosswinds on the way home didn�t pose any problems. I think I was trying too hard before. Let the bike move a bit rather than wrestling with it. No problem. The torrential rain was completely ignored! As was the suspension adjustment, I doubt I'll ever have to play with that, it was perfect, as ever.

After a great weekend I�m left with only one question. What was Mr Honda thinking when he put that tiny rack on the Pan European? I suppose I�ll have to buy a top box or a smaller rucksack.

February 05, 2003

Here we go again!

Another job - this time animal control - in Middlesborough. Boy - it's cold after 250 miles (and I wore more than a T shirt, Mike). I think my laptop helps - sort of use it as a counselling tool - moaning at everyone because I'm stupid enough to use the bike in this weather. I'm away until Tuesday - so I'll wait till then to bring you up to date with whatever fate has in store for me!
Have a good week guys!

"Blonde" moment.

Had a bit of a "blonde" moment* this morning. Set off to go to work and after a short while I thought "My arms are cold. And my back." Then I realised it was -1 Centigrade and I was only wearing a shirt under my leathers. Duh.

Never mind. I knew I had a spare jumper at work. Which I forgot to put on for the trip home. Duh.

*I have a colleague at work who dyes her hair. When she does something very dim she often says she's had a bit of a blonde moment, forgetting that she's not actually a natural blonde. It's kind of passed into common use...

February 03, 2003

Nothing much to say about today...

Other than I followed a guy on and FJR1300 in to the City today. The bike had unfeasibly large luggage fitted (we are talking Buster Gonads, here.) so it was a change for me to be queuing behind some vast barge of a bike thinking "Come on mate! You could get a bus through that gap..."

Wing (Pan) and a Prayer.

I'd just like to say a few thank you's.
To me - for buying a Pan - I'd have been dead on any other bike.
To Honda - for using the best materials - both wheels were buckled totally beyond repair - for the tyres giving me nearly a whole minute before they lost all their air.
To the AA - for not keeping me hanging about - and being gentle with my baby! and for knowing where to take the bike.
To the dealership - who turned the bike round for me in three days.
To the Police - for all their help, even if they thought I was the luckiest bastard on the planet.
I still find it hard to believe I didn't come off, and got to the hard shoulder safely.
And a prayer for the car driver and his family.
Looking back - it was a hell of a way to get new wheels!!!!!

February 02, 2003

Let us not go gentle into that dark night...

In the words of Dylan Thomas:

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Glad you're still with us, David...

February 01, 2003

Bloody Hell! (Sorry)

Tuesday was a good day. Off to Ally Pally to the motorcycle show - great day out - met lots of friends and good food! Then of to work. In Preston, Lancs. Good ride up until junction 22 on the M6. Now on motorways I always give myself a hundred yard stopping distance. In front of me is a flatbed lorry, and I just happen to notice a lump of wood bouncing about on the back of its trailer. I'm in the third lane - slow down - being very careful. He shouldn't be there anyway - but - he hits dent in the road - off comes the wood. I'm way down the road and see this happen - the lorry next to him hits the wood and sends it flying - in my direction. I should mention at this point that the wood in question is about 3 by 3 and six foot long.
I have a premonition!!!!!!
I pull into the centre lane.
I have cars behind me doing 70 plus - cars inside and outside doing about the same.
A car outside me hits the piece of wood at about ninety - and then hits the centre reservation barriers.
The wood is directly laying in my path.
I hit it head on!
Still got my head on - drive into the slow lane, then the hard shoulder.
Front tyre and wheel buckled. Rear wheel dented.
Guy in the car has caused major accident - other vehicles involved - he didn't make it!!!!!!
I'm sitting in a police car and can't quite realise how lucky I am.
The nice policeman calls the AA - they collect my bike - new wheels and tyres at the local Honda dealer - insurance company keeps ringing to see if they can sue anyone.
I came back home on Friday - in the snow - 240 miles -
do either of you know of a good shrink????????
I definately think I need help.

More snow.

Says it all really. Normal service will be resumed eventually...