November 24, 2003

Catch the wave...

There is a much safer, but less obvious, way of waving your thanks to other motorists that is used in France but not in the UK: Leg Waving.

When, for example, (as a car driver) I pull in to let a bike go past, UK bikers often raise a hand in thanks. This leaves them one hand short on the controls and, should anything happen in that short time, (a big pothole or sudden manoeuvre from another vehicle) the bikers response time is much longer as you need to get both hands back on the controls before you can do a great deal.

On the continent, bikers have come up with a great alternative. The simply straighten out the leg on the side which we UK peeps would normally wave. This means you still have full control of the bike, delaying only the ability to change gear or apply the rear brake. Much less of an issue than a hand off the bars, in my opinion.

November 22, 2003

Watching you...

Well, as I've been laid up, I have had the opportunity to be a watcher. This has meant being able to observe bikers (and their bikes) from the passenger seat of the car on a journey through both England and France of around 900 miles. Lucky me.

Some interesting differences became apparent between the types of bikes on the road in the two countries.

Although you seem to see about the same number of bikes on the road in the two countries, the UK seems to have a much more even spread of size and type than France. On a typical day in the UK, you'll see everything from mopeds and scooters through trailies and racers to cruisers and tourers. In France, the divide seems to be much more apparent between big and small bikes. You see a lot of mopeds, very few mid-size bikes and a lot of cruisers and tourers. You very rarely see the likes of a Bandit or Diversion 600 or a big trailie over there.

Even more interesting (to me, anyway) is that the larger bikes seem to be almost exclusively Harleys and Gold Wings. And for all my looking, and in spite of the active Pan European internet community in France, mine is still the only new style Pan I've seen there.

November 16, 2003

Off the road for a few days

Sprained my foot at work on Friday so I can't even get my boots on at the moment. Well, I can get one of them on, if you know what I mean.

A few quiet days with my feet up are in order, I guess.

November 13, 2003

Pan-less European

Over the last couple of months, I've taken to riding the Pan without panniers. Particularly on the way to/from work where I can get away with just the top box.

Handling is significantly improved at high speeds with any hint of a wobble above 110 mph disappearing completely. Even with the screen at full height. The downside, I guess, would be that had the lovely chap who drove into me done so when the panniers weren't fitted, the exhaust would have taken the brunt of the damage. Not a nice thought.

I still put the panniers on whenever I go away for the weekend or whiz off to the airport as I can carry what I need for the weekend, a bike cover for leaving the Pan in uncovered car parks and still have room to cargo net a suitcase on the pillion seat if necessary.

November 12, 2003

Driven into.

Had to happen eventually, I guess, given that most of my miles are spent commuting into the Smoke. And, of course, it just had to be a SMIDSY* from a Volvo driver.

I was taking the wife in to London to see an exhibition at the Science Museum and (unusually) not filtering. Said Volvo pilot spots a gap in the next lane, not noticing I'm there, and virtually pushes us into the barrier. Fortunately I had the panniers on so no damage to anything else or to us and, even better, I managed to stay upright. I reckon I'd have been straight over on a smaller bike.

Damage is all related to the pannier: Door scratched to bits and difficult to close. More worryingly, the lock holding the pannier on the bike is now also very stiff. I'll just have to see if the whole thing needs replacing...

*SMIDSY = Sorry Mate I Didn't See You

November 04, 2003

Economy of Motion - Part 2

Returning from France to the UK, I had all the time in the world so I decided to see what fuel economy I could squeeze out of the bike. Returning on the same 590 mile route riding carefully at no more than 80mph (130kph - this being the Autoroute speed limit) saw fuel consumption climb to just short of 50mpg (5.8 l/100km).

Unfortunately, riding to achieve this was incredibly dull so, with the experiment duly performed, I have gone back to my usual style.

I now usually commute about 75 miles per day of which 45 miles or so is motorway/national speed limit, 15 miles is reasonable free moving 50mph limit and 15 miles is dead slow filtering.

With my reasonable head on, I'm getting just over 40mpg (7.1 l/100km) although when I'm in hooligan mode that falls to around 32mpg (8.9 l/100km).

Conclusion? Well, I guess the Pan is as economical as you choose to make it. Bearing in mind that it's got a whacking great motor you can still get very reasonable economy from it. Or not.

November 01, 2003

Economy of motion - Part 1

I've been having a bit of, er, fun trying to take the fuel economy of the Pan to extremes.

Step 1 was to really hammer the bike on a trip between home in England and home in France.

To give you the idea, I did 590 miles in 6 hours and 35 minutes. Including three petrol stops. And circumnavigating Paris.

As others have mentioned, the bike calculates fuel consumption in miles per litre but with the magic of, um, calc.exe I have turned it into something more useful. On this trip, I made just over 26mpg (10.7 l/100km for our continental chums). This is low. Very low, indeed.

Just goes to show what you can achieve if you set your mind to it.