October 06, 2004

To sell or not to sell?

I'm almost at the 32000 mile mark now and have had the Pan for over two years. I still love the bike to bits but there's no getting away from the fact that it costs a lot of money to run.

The 16000 mile service cost a fortune and this next one promises to be no different. Added to the fact the clutch needs replacing, it'll be a huge bill.

My preference would be to keep it but with a house requiring major restoration, I may have to make some sacrifices. Now, I still need a bike as I go through the City a lot (free parking and no Congestion Charge) and need to park at airports frequently (again, free on a bike). The question is: Can I justify keeping such an expensive machine indefinitely?

August 22, 2004

A new shed but not much riding time...

Hi folks.

Work commitments have taken literally all my spare time for the past month so there hasnt been much riding, or doing anything else for that matter. In fact the most the Pan has moved is from under her cover in the garden, to her new shed in the garden, so at least she is warmer and dry. Incidentally the cover I use is from www.dbcovers.co.uk and it has been fantastic and fits the ST1100 very well, but the new shed is a better arrangement altogether. However I still havent got the polishing cloths out.....

A big hello to Mick and Jill from St Lawrence, who have recently upgraded their 11 to a 13. They bought a second hand 11 after taking mine for a spin a few years ago, and I had heard a rumour that they had upgraded recently. Well, I saw their beasty yesterday and she looks lovely, so I might ask you guys to return the favour and let me take her for a blast next time I see you.

Which fits in quite nicely with Johns comments from the last post. John, I test rode a barely used 1300 from the local dealer last year, it is a great bike and if money is no object then go for it and upgrade. For me however I just couldnt justify spending that sort of money when my 1100 still does the job. Its very difficult to know what a bike is like from a short ride, I have heard great things about the 13, and also heard from 1100 fans who dont think the new bike is a great leap forward. I will almost certainly upgrade mine when the time comes that I can either afford it, or my 1100 is past it, which will probably be a long time whichever way. If Honda UK read this though, I'd be more than willing to have one from you as a long term tester !

Gary, thanks for your comments, however I have the 1100 which is why I commented on the screen buffetting, which I gather it is one of the more common complaints amongst Pan owners. I didnt know that the screen had two mounting positions though, thanks for the info, maybe I can try it if I get that long term test bike !

I'll leave you with the news that the Pan is top of the sales charts for Tourers in the UK at the moment, it will be interesting to see what the RIDE survey says about it this year too.

Safe riding

July 05, 2004


Its been a long time since my last update. Whats new then...well, quite a lot has happened in fact. Just returned from the first "away " trip of the year, a 600 mile round trip to Cognac in France. Pretty uneventful but fun to be able to get away on the bike and use it to its full potential, and to ride some decent roads at speeds above 40 mph !

Being just over 6 foot tall means the wind buffeting from the standard screen does get somewhat tiresome on the motorway, but I dont really do the mileage at speed to warrant a taller screen. However I am keeping an eye on Ebay for one, which is where I found the single seat conversion that now sits proudly on the Pan.

It was spotted back in November, a complete kit with the hump, bracket to move the seat lock, and the single seat, and I thought, well, why not, its something different, plus I ride solo most of the time anyway. Having done the business it arrived promptly, but I knew it had to be sprayed to colour match the bike - it was from an ex-AA bike and was bright yellow. Getting the colour matched, even with the colour codes, was quite an ordeal, to the point where it had been forgotten about by both myself and the spray shop. A quick call at the end of May, and a visit to them with the bike to get a match, and it finally went on in June, to my delight. It looks very smart and quite unique, and has turned the heads of a few fellow Pan owners too, mainly as a potential way to stop their other halves from getting on the back ! They appear quite regularly on Ebay, so maybe there is a business opportunity coming my way...he he he

I also spotted on Ebay, but missed out on, a shorter, sports style screen for the Pan. I've never seen anything like this before or since, and havent found it online either, its like a cut down version of the std screen. It looks very smart and might be just the thing for summer riding when you need the breeze to cool you down. If anyone else has seen this please let me know where I can get one from !

The bike was serviced before the trip, about 1000 miles shy of its scheduled 32k mile service, but there was nothing major except for new front wheel bearings. I had heard a rumble from the front end for a while, but had assumed it to be the worn front tyre, which has also been replaced. Is 30k miles from a set of wheel bearing normal ?

I have moved house too, within walking distance of work, so the bike is sadly no longer the weapon of choice for the daily commute. I say sad because it means I dont get to ride daily now, but conversely the fuel bill has dropped, and when we do go for a ride it is for fun now, which is so much more enjoyable than fighting with the rush hour traffic.

This also means I have no excuse for having a bike that looks "used" and will have to get the polishing cloths out......

Anyways, Safe riding as always and enjoy the warm summer nights out


May 06, 2004

Archives fixed

For those who care about such things, I've finally got round to sorting out the Archives dropdown.

Thanks are due to Phil Ringnalda and his marvellous scripting tools and advice.

Happy browsing!

May 05, 2004

Oh no, no milk!

When we got to France last Saturday it was closed! All the shops, all the petrol stations and most of the bars closed Saturday lunch time for the whole weekend! When we got to our little house we had to survive on what we had left in the cupboards until Sunday morning when the shop in the village opened for a couple of hours. Not too bad we had plenty of Vodka.

Whilst we managed to solve the milk, bread and butter problem on the Sunday morning we were seriously stuck for petrol as all the petrol stations were shut. It's 393 miles from home to our house in Brittany and I'd planned to fill up for the return trip at the supermarket when we did some shopping. There are 24 hour pumps that you can use bank cards in, but only French bank cards work, that's ok we've got a French bank account and a French card! Problem solved! Well it would have been if I knew the PIN number :-(

Fortunately a fellow Pan rider came to our rescue. As we were planning a ride round to see if we could find a petrol station that was manned. We knew that the services on the Autoroute (Motorway, Freeway) would be open but the nearest services that we knew of was a long journey (100 miles round trip). As we stood in the village square a an English voice asked how we were getting on with the bike. He'd got an 1100 and was curious about the 13'. As it turned out our guess that the motorway services would be manned was correct, but he saved all that riding about by offering to use his card and we could give him the cash. So a 100 mile search turned out to be a short ride with a fellow Pan rider (after he'd watched the World Super Bikes on the tv). An English neighbour in france and a Pan owner to boot.

Petrol problem solved, easy. I must remember the PIN number next time!

Many thanks to Brian? See you again after your visit to America.

Our return journey had a little excitement too. As we left the ferry at Portsmouth it was pouring down with rain. I wasn't happy with a four hour ride in the rain, fortunately the rain eased off after half an hour.

As the rain eased off my speed increased, then the front wheel slipped on a bitumen strip covering a traffic flow sensor. Another reason why speed cameras are a bad idea. This was quite scary, the front wheel kicked violently, we were doing 70(ish) on a curve at the time! Only on a Pan can you be relaxed about this sort of thing (after your heart's stopped racing). When we stopped for a coffee a bit later I turned up the preload on the rear suspension. This helped keep the front wheel more planted. It's a good point, try get a feel for the way the bike handles with different loads and suspension settings and ensure you've set it right before you start your journey. On Sunday's ride we were only lightly loaded so the suspension was a bit too soft as I hadn't set it back harder as we reloaded the bike for the journey home.

On the journey home I refilled the tank at the services about 50 miles short of Caen. When we got home we had an indicated 236 miles since the fill up and not even indicating reserve yet! This mpg was achieved two up and fully loaded at UK motorway speeds (70++ mph). Excellent! This would mean a tank full to empty range of over 270 miles.

Another 700 miles of fun due after we've been to the BMF show and got Katrine a new waterproof suit. Her's was shreaded at the knees by the wind on our way home!

Tyred of life

Tyre life is always an important factor in running costs, especially given the costs of modern rubber.

I can say for certain that I'm getting just over 12,000 miles out of a front tyre using the standard BT020. This means that I replace them every third service as I'm not fastidious enough to make sure I replace the tyre when it hits the end of its useful life.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how many miles I should be able to get from a rear as I've had four (Yes, four!) punctures. The longest running rear tyre was at 8000 miles when it got a hole in it and, to be honest, it was looking rather worn by then so I'd guess that about 9000 would be about the lot.

February 16, 2004

Anyone For Seconds?

A couple of weeks ago I had the misfortune to get a puncture in my rear tyre. This turned out to be a good thing.

As the tyre was only going down slowly I managed to get to the bike shop. Saving me the agro of getting the bike collected. Though I'd had a look I couldn't see what had caused it. When the mechanic studied the tyre he found a splinter of aluminium. I work in an aluminium foundry, I wasn't a happy bunny, but, that's another story. It was clear that the tyre needed replacing after only 1800 miles! So while the tyre was changed I had a coffee and looked round the showroom.

Standing all red, shiney and new was an '04 Pan. After some discussion about money I decided that a change would be a good thing. My bike hadn't done anything wrong it was just quite high mileage, (for a bike) something that effects it's resale value. Apparently people consider 11000 miles to be too much for a year old bike and 25000 would definitely be too much when it got to two years old. Odd really, if you found a year old car with only 11k you'd think it a bargain. Touring bikes are for just that touring and by it's nature touring puts miles on a bike.

Since the price of Pan II was right it was only the colour that needed checking. Though it's my bike Katrine has to like it too. So the following day we both went to check the colour.

Red was acceptable, we took delivery of Pan II last Saturday.

Apart from the colour there are a couple of immediate differences it has an electric screen and hazard lights. As do all '04 Pans. Mr Honda does listen, or is it that they've lots of standard Pans left over after all the ABS/Electric Screen ones got sold. Probably the latter is closer the mark.

The electric screen is amazing. I knew it would be fun to play with but neither of us were ready for the effect it has. Winding the screen up at motorway speeds is like closing a window in a car. All the wind noise vanishes as if you'd slowed down by at least 20 mph. We had read reports that a high screen increases the buffeting on the pillion passenger, Katrine says there's nothing of the sort. A definite improvement for our journeys to France.

The hazard lights, hmm, not sure of the benefits of them since they only work with the key in the ignition. At least with hazard lights on I can park any where I like, go the wrong way up one way streets and generally ignore the rules of the road, provided all the indicators are flashing together ;-)

Having established the obvious differences there are some subtle differences too. The new bike is the same but different if that makes sense. I'd been lead to believe that the 'Hondaisation fairy dust' that's added as the bikes leave the factory makes all Hondas the same. This isn't so. Pan II has a lighter clutch, stiffer suspension, better operating locks on the panniers and unfortunately slippery tyres.

The clutch and suspension are a slight improvement on Pan I, and the locks on the panniers can now be operated with one hand. On Pan I the latches had to be pushed down against a spring to lock them making locking a two handed job.

The new tyres :-( They are the same Bridgestones but, there's far too much slime on them. I know that new tyres need to be treated with a bit of care but these are stupid. The greasy coating slimes your fingers when you touch them. I've tried washing it off with a strong fairy liquid solution but there's still loads of the stuff.

Has anyone got a suggestion to get the slimy stuff off?

Once the 'tyre slime' issue is resolved I know I'll be happier with Pan II and someone else will be happy with Pan I. The electric screen is a definite improvement and as for the clutch difference that may just be the 'newness' but they've definitely improved the pannier locks.

We went for a short spin yesterday after fitting the intercom etc. After a while I was surprised to look down and see a red tank. Maybe the 'Hondaisation fairy dust' takes a while to take effect!

January 07, 2004

Speed Camera - Warning

On our Christmas trip to our house in Brittany I saw a French police car with a speed camera sticking out of it's window!

Fortunately I was in the car :-) Next time I may not be so lucky.

This is the first speed camera I've ever seen in France. But, they are on the increase. I read an article in a French magazine that said the French police were to purchase a thousand static cameras over the next two years. 'Oh no' I thought, 'the disease is spreading across the channel'. Fingers crossed that my translation was wrong.

If it is true my only hope is that since France is a big country, if they start around Paris, hopefully they won't have any left to put up in Brittany ;-)

Santa's Been

If anyone out there is stuck for something to spend their Christmas money on, may I suggest Heated Hand Grips? I got a pair of Oxford Hot Hands (free with my Christmas present subscription to Bike Magazine). I fitted them yesterday, not having a garage I had to wait until it warmed up a bit and stopped raining so I could 'play outside'. They were easy to fit. Just connect the positive wire to the auxiliary fuse and the negative to a bit of frame. As the Pan's tank tips up easily running the wiring to the handle bars was simple. In all the whole job took about half an hour. The journey to work convinced me I should have got some years ago. They wrap around the bike's grips so they feel a bit odd initially as the hand grips are much fatter. On a sports bike where you have to support yourself with your hands this may be a problem, but on a 'sensible' bike like the Pan it only takes a couple of minutes to get used to. The heat rapidly penetrated my cloves making my hands all toasty and warm. (Too warm on the way to work as it wasn't really that cold, so I turned them off!)

January 05, 2004


Back on the road and only slightly sore of foot! After a break of almost 8 weeks, I finally managed to get back on the road today! Had to recharge the battery again, though, as the drain from the Datatool alarm limits battery life to three weeks or so.

Predictably, the bike fired up within seconds after lying idle and, pausing only to check oil and air, we were off! Ah, the joys of motoring round Kent on a dry winter day. Went for a quick spin and then off on a quick 20 mile jaunt to a friends house for dinner and then a great night-time blast round dark, twisty country roads on the way home.

It isn't until I got back in the saddle that I realised how much I had missed it. Here's hoping that normality has been restored...

January 02, 2004

Tomorrow could be the big day.

Finally, I should be able to get back on the bike this weekend! Here's hoping...