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!

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