June 27, 2003

Why you should ride another bike from time to time

Ok so we all know how good then Pan is, but its surprising how you forget this until you ride another bike for a while. I've just spent three weeks running around on another bike (shock horror), suffice to say its an oldish two stroke race rep. Answers on a postcard please...

Anyway, I had to give it back this week,it was used to take away in the van as a holiday run-around, and I kept it for a week when I got home. Now I've been riding the Pan nearly every day for the last 5 years, so you kinda get used to it, its "normal". The stroker was tiny, noisy, rattly and has an on-off kind of power delivery, but it was good fun and a hoot down the a-roads round Cognac. We met two Brits down there, one on a Pan who had ridden from Glasgow to Cognac in a day and a half, he must have had a shock to see a Brit registered stroker that far south!

The first thing that struck me as I rolled the Pan off the centre stand is how big she is. Shes huge ! How on earth do I ride this behemoth through traffic? Firing her up, she started first time having been sat outside for three weeks, no choke required, but I didnt expect any problems - its a Honda after all!

Pulling away, I instantly remembered why I fell in love with the Pan the first time I took it out. She is just so smooth, the engine purrs gently as you pull away with minimum revs, the gear change is clean, and the power delivery just oozes. On the morning commute, I dont think I revved her over 3000rpm, the stroker's rev counter only starts at 3000!
Sat up looking over the traffic, the view is great and the bars felt high and wide, and that seat is so comfy.

The traffic ? - well it was a bit of a shock at first but you soon remember how to do it - after all it's only been three weeks. Coming back home from work that day was the real pleasure, swinging the Pan's low slung weight into the twisty corners, power out of them smoothly and enjoying every moment of it. She just feels so solid, so dependable, so comfortable.

There was a time, not so long ago, that I had begun to wonder why I rode this bike. If that happens to you, go beg or borrow a completely different bike from a buddy and ride it for a bit. Then get back on your Pan and remember why you love it so much. For me, it took me back to that first test ride, and its great to have that feeling again.

Safe riding all, and smiles through the miles!


June 16, 2003

Long Distance Trips

Over the last few weekends we've been putting some miles on the Pan. We've been doing a lot of round trips from the house, 168 miles 'there and back'. So we did our first 'proper' long distance trip to visit The Eden Project in Cornwall. A total round trip of nearly six hundred miles. We were confident that we'd cope with a proper tour.

The thing we hadn't realised when you travel a long way on a bike is that you can't fidget as much as you do in the car, as a result you get pins and needles and stiff muscles. I hadn't considered this problem when I'd planned the stops. The first stop was a bit worrying as I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold the bike up when we came to a stop as my right leg had 'gone to sleep'! Fortunately the feeling came back quickly and there was no embarassing/expensive 'incident'. We quickly learned to move a bit when the road and traffic allowed. I still got an ache in my right wrist, a constant speed meant the same position for ages. I think fitting risers to the handle bars would help take the weight of my wrists. Neither of us suffered too badly really. The Pan is a very comfortable bike to travel on. How do sports bike riders cope with what must be much, much more pain? The seat remained comfortable through out and the fairing meant no wind blast at all. We passed someone on a naked bike who looked really uncomfortable above seventy. He didn't stay with us for long. Travelling long distances needs to be practiced, it is a bit like an athelete training for an event. This was out first bit of training.

After the boredom of the M54, M6 and M5 the A30 is an impressive and deceptivly fast road. I'm sure that it would be easy to have several incriminating photographs taken on that stretch of road without even realising (until the brown envelopes arrive). I saw several cameras, I'm sure I missed several others, beware!

Last weekend we went to Hay On Wye to visit the bookshops. This is a relatively short journey 210 miles in one day. Easy! The only real incident was my fault and something that was very scarey! After turning round a particularly sharp hairpin bend I found I was in too high a gear. The bike stalled and locked the back wheel at about ten miles an hour. Fortunately I caught it and we didn't tip off. If I'd been riding solo the torque of the engine would have been enough, but two up the gear was too high. I didn't register the bike struggling, it just stopped. The bikes coming the other way must have thought I was going mad. I've begun to notice that the throttle control is very snatchy at very low speeds, other people have noticed this too. I understand it's to do with setting the fuelling to meet emission regulations. It's beginning to get on my nerves, I think this contributed to my stalling incident. The bike is having it's 4000 mile service on Wednesday. I'll get them to check it out.

The other very odd thing is tyre pressures. As I've mentioned before getting an air line connected is difficult and since the tyres felt ok I hadn't bothered to check. Until last week. During my ride home from work the bike felt 'loose', I wasn't sure if it was me being tired or if there was something wrong. The following morning I checked the tyre pressures (cold). 42psi rear and 48psi front! How can the front tyre pressure get so high? Unless the dealer didn't set them properly when it went in for the 500 mile check (3000+ miles ago). The recommended pressure is 42psi front and rear. Any way I put the pressure right and the handling settled down again, very odd.

My new Givi Top box is ordered and should be here in time for our next 'jolly'. A long weekend over to France! (or should that be under, we're going through the Chunnel)

Try and type more often. It's hard to remember stuff!