Pillions my rules


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Many times I hear of people say that will never ride pillion on a motorcycle because of a single bad experience and it was not until I’d done the bad deed and scared someone special (very sorry Lloyd) that I understood the gravity. In about 2007 I had done monster miles with my wife as pillion and a visiting friend had a go on the back so without thinking I rode my normal pace yet when he climbed off he was shaking.

 I learned from that single 5 minute trip and I have never scared a new pillion on the bike since.


Here is my method of taking a new pillion for a ride.

First off I talk to them away from the bike and tell them my intentions are never to scare them but to make it a really fun experience (if I do scare them it will last a lifetime) although something as loose on the road as an open motorcycle will create it’s own fears we can reduce those fears by telling them how they are going to feel before the ride.

I explain that it will be a short 15 -20 minute journey and go through the route with them in their mind, My journey is down the road to the roundabout ¼ of a mile all in a 30mph zone and there will be no overtakes other than parked cars and then I won’t squeeze through but I’ll wait, Just before the roundabout I will stop in a bus stop and ask how they are feeling and hear any concerns. I always explain that the next stretch is about a mile, the first bit is 40mph followed by a 50mph section and then I remind them of how to sit “like a sack of potatoes plonked on the back seat” and when the bike leans, which it will in the roundabouts for them to keep their body in line with the back wheel and not to over lean into the corner or counter lean against the corner but simply keep line with the bike. I then ride that section without overtakes if possible keeping distance from everything.

I stop before the next section which is a 70mph dual carriageway and therefore motorway speeds so I ask their concerns about the ride so far (I have never had a bad comment) I say the next section will feel fast as we are not inside a car and the wind at 70mph hits hard and we will be in Lane 2 whenever Lane 1 has traffic and we will be accelerating up to speed a lot harder than before but nothing like the bike is capable of. My bike of choice for pillions is a Suzuki Bandit 1200S the book gives a top speed of 154mph and a 0 -60mph of 3.3 seconds that may mean something to a car driver and show them that 70mph is not stretching the bikes limits at all. Then I ride seven sections of dual carriageway with eight roundabouts for a few miles before stopping and dismounting and chatting about the journey so far. Everyone loves it!

I explain that now we will be riding within traffic, overtaking cars, filtering between them and that there will be lots happening with vehicles all around and stress on them that if they need to get comfortable then only to shuffle and move on the bike when we are in a straight line at higher speeds and never when riding slowly as moving on the bike steers it. Always sit still when the bike is slow. I also make them aware that this is all new and they will panic breathe-in as we squeeze through gaps simply because they do not see the gap as a normal space to get through. I ride through a small town in my usual manner gentle filtering as required followed by a small section of countryside and then home making as many simple overtake as I can keeping it looking easy


The pillion needs my level of protection and if I cannot give that then I dress down to theirs. The UK law says only a lid is required. For a pillion experience I add bike jacket and gloves because we have many and I ask them to wear some kind of strong boots, if that’s not possible then I wear jeans and trainers too

Before they get on the bike I make it plain that I am in charge and we ride to my rules even if they have ridden years ago or pillioned in the past I still go through the basics and expect them to listen

Do not get on the bike until I say so

When I am on the bike upright with front brake on yet with the side stand down (just in case) get the ok and then climb on board

Put most of their body weight central over the seat and then step on the rear peg climbing gently over the seat.

This is now their riding position they must never put their feet down and don’t climb off until I say its ok and then using the same method of side stand down (just in case) and all their body weight central over the seat as they dismount, also they do not wave at anyone or do any sudden jerky movements unless we are travelling quite fast in a straight line.

Sit like a sack of potatoes laid across the back seat and lean with the bike in line with the back wheel and never against the lean

Find the rear grab rail to stop them sliding forward when braking but at other times they can hold on to me or keep one hand on the grab rail if that is more comfortable

                                                              Enjoy the ride!

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Hi – Vis or Outline…. which one?

I do like Hi-Vis clothing on occasions for the “plod” effect that it has when car drivers bother to look and they do see us, then their natural fear of police means their inbuilt radar gets stimulated with possible plod sightings and this does make them look twice.

However in my humble opinion I am now coming to the conclusion that the outline shape is just as, if not more important to us being seen because with today’s mixed colour clothing we become a jumbled mosaic of our background, much like a patterned zebra or tiger blends into the bush even though they are brightly patterned in themselves.

In a busy town centre setting a BMW 1200 GS with all its strange angles carrying a rider in of all things urban “camouflage” clothing even with a Hi-Vis waistcoat blends effortlessly into the fussy activity of its background. However recently looking at a new Triumph Trophy with its huge blank fairing and the rider wearing dark jacket and dark lid he was much easier to define against a mixed background. I am now considering having darker jacket arms and lid in the same shade as the dark blue bike that I ride (not a Triumph Trophy) to kind of bulk up the outline size and making my presence into one solid blob shape as it were.

I firmly believe that everyone sees the bike before the biker, so what he is wearing is immaterial. Asking car drivers to think about it and they see the bike firstly and only afterwards do they see the biker. If the bike and biker combine their base colour cleanly then it punches a big hole in the environment that’s very easy to see during the day and not much harder to see during the night.

Multi-coloured bikes and multi-coloured riders are harder to spot and much more difficult to process in the mind. We humans like simple things and so look for them. Complex shapes and patterns aren’t easily identifiable and often ignored.For 6 years Austria and Holland studied Hi-Viz wearers and crash incidences and they actually found a rise in the number of incidents (insignificantly above the average) so decided against following France into Hi-Viz law. Different studies in the USA and the UK found riders to be involved in slightly less-than-average accidents but, again, the deviation was very insignificant. If it actually worked, it would be enforced.

The biggest problem that I have found with Hi-Viz wearing riders was themselves and their assumption that they had been seen, unconsciously adopting a less-defensive riding attitude. Hi-Viz wearers in the Austrian study were reported to filter more quickly (again assuming they were highly visible).Hi-Viz does work when you are directly in front of the car, which is why it’s so effective on police officers etc standing in the road ahead. If you’re worried about dropping your bike and ending laid in the road ‘waiting’ for a car to run over you, then Hi-Viz might be a very good

To test my theory I’m going for a dark jacket without badges and a plain dark lid to match my dark bike so as to give one solid mass to my shape and I’m getting a Sam Brown Belt so that from behind there is an unnatural two bright sharp angled lines to catch the eye of following daydreamers and a bit of Hi-Vis if I should part with the bike in darkness

On fast roads the blending into the background is not as important as us being small not looming in size so we appear far off. Fast roads out of town have their own set of visual problems and there too we need to stand out and to counter this I put two low spot lights on my front forks that created an unusual triangle of lights that relates to nothing much else on the road with stunning positive effects. Rather than mount them on the crash bars as some do I fixed them to the front lower forks so that with suspension movement the distance between the main beam and the spotlights changes during travel. Also by being mounted on the forks an having a top faired bike with fixed headlight the lowers move side to side too when the bike turns. I’m sure that this flux of movement makes others notice my bike when before they didn’t. To add to the oddness I turned one spotlight yellow but then both because I didn’t like the look…Both are now clear

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The Great North Road

At the very top are my MOTORCYCLE ARTICLES and on the right are RECENT ENTRIES stuff >>>

The Great North Road

The Great North Road was once nothing more than a well used track that went from New Change London EC4 round the back of St Paul’s cathedral to Princess St, Edinburgh collecting towns villages along the route and becoming part of their High St. Over the years the route has bypassed most of the towns and villages but the old Great North Road the old A1 or at least its backbone still exists in many parts of its journey north. The preferred route now is M1 from London to Leeds and there after two main choices the west route using the M6 or east using many parts of the A1 the Great North Road. America had it famed Route 66 and that split the county east to west we had the Great North Road that split the country north to south and both journeys are worth a trip down memory lane.

We throw away our heritage just like the Yanks do, simply changing that iconic name to A1….we once rode bikes with names like Bonnieville, Commando, Panther, Rocket Gold Star, and Lightning but now we settle for R1 and any bunch of letters ending in RR

The basic route of the Great North Road is Islington, Potters Bar, Stanford, Grantham, Newark, Bawrty, Garforth, Wetherby, Boroughbridge, Scotch Corner, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick upon Tweed, Musselburgh and finally Edingburgh. 400miles

Once littered with coach inns and then unique transport cafes it’s now mostly the multi-national fast food stops that are all exactly the same…Progress indeed! Some transport café gems still exist and are worth hunting down for a visit before they are all gone…I love the places with loose gravel parking areas, with lots of trucks parked up and tea in a big mug. Parking my bike under the window that I’m looking out of…living a little bit of this roads timeless history.

I was fortunate in 2008 to be an extra in a Channel 4 film about the road, we had gathered in a biker stop called Squires Milk Bar (North Yorkshire) and it rained so we were sat inside as group of about 20 people and they asked us to jump about to a song that the artist were singing and I got my 30seconds in the musical which was rubbish at representing bikers but a powerful programme about the Great North Road.

The road runs north south to the right of the centre of the country and many of us use it un-knowingly but on the bike it’s worth climbing off that motorway type bypass and tracing the old route…its not as fast and there are towns and villages to get through and rubbish signs that send you in circles but in the right frame of mind tracing the old journey where millions have gone before is a worthwhile effort even if it’s just for our spiritual well being that we can say to our grand children we rode the Great North Road on our bikes and we stopped at the old transport cafes. Do it before its all gone

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WHAT.. “no mobile phone?”

above the bookcase are my MOTORCYCLE ARTICLES, on the right are RECENT ENTRIES and above any of those posts that you chose to read are blue arrows to find past postings that are not displayed >>>

I have had mobile phones for the past 25years but in the last year I have managed to get away from using one and now I don’t even own one. I’m not anti-technology or conspiracy theory driven it’s just that I would on occasions set off for a ride on the bike and feel quiet weird at not carrying a mobile with all the “what ifs” that may happen and the possible need to be contacted or to contact others every second of the day

Now in a strange way I feel completely free from the invisible cord that attaches us all together all of the time. Being free to make my days choices out on the bike without the possibility of my children, workmates and friends making contact with me means that the day is totally mine…I can step off the treadmill for as long as I wish to, disappear from the radar as it were, it’s a very biker thing to feel. When I leave my driveway the day is all mine. You may have forgotten the total freedom that it gives while out for the day. I do suggest that a trial period would remind you of those pre-phone days. Just leave home unplanned on a spur of the moment and come home when you’ve had enough without telling anyone anything. There is something about being phone free as it adds to the freedom that the bike gives!

I have to a certain degree got my dear wife thinking along those very same lines because last Monday we planned a few days away and chose not to tell the children 21years and 18 years as they always throw a party as soon as we are away. On Monday morning we went out to the shop for a loaf of bread and didn’t come back home until Wednesday evening. My wife turned her phone on at 9.00am Tuesday morning only to get a shocked call from our daughter one hour later as she searched the house for us after waking up and needing something finding. Telling her we were off until Wednesday had the expected un-desirable effect of a party being organised in our absence that very night… but no phone calls and a very tidy house when we eventually arrived home.

Mobile phones give some quality contacts in our lives but they also remove some very special freedoms that we had before they existed, a bit like children I suppose?

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Eighties the new 1950’s

above the bookcase are my MOTORCYCLE ARTICLES, on the right are RECENT ENTRIES and above any post that you chose to read are blue arrows to find past postings that are not displayed >>>

Anyone born in the 1960’s who is into classic bikes in any way must realise that the mid 1970’s to the mid 1980’s is the new 1950’s with regard to bikes. What was once known as “Jap Crap” is now known as “Classic Jap” The early 1960’s Japanese bikes were small and poor quality but by the mid 1970’s the average Jap bikes were reliable, fast and handled well compared to the average British bike that had gone before.

The original Honda 750 four the first ever superbike could easily be compared to the BSA Goldstar in desirability of my generation. There are so many overlooked bikes that I grew up with that are now being saved, just the same as the British bike movement did all those years ago. The superstars are the Kawasaki Z1 and Suzuki Kettles and Honda CBXs but any Yamaha RD and even the humble FS1E is prized.
Some of the forgotten Suzuki GT185 and GT380 can be had for a couple of hundred pounds. Honda’s range of commuter bikes the early CB’s are easily found at low prices yet a finished Honda CB550 in the right colour can be just as desirable as it’s big brother. In fact the 550 range of bikes from Suzuki and Kawasaki are the ones that are at bottom book price at this time and ideal bikes to collect

In the commuter sized bike 250cc-400cc some manufacturers toyed with two stroke and four strokes sold together Suzuki X7 and GSX, Yamaha RD and XS, Kawasaki KH and their Z range and where the two strokes are becoming collectors the four strokes are unloved…..at the moment but nostalgia has a way of changing that.

If you are feeling nostalgic and wanting a bike from this era then find a club for the model that you want and as with any restoration buy a complete bike with everything on it. Spending Sundays at auto jumbles with all its related costs is not the best way of enjoying a Classic Jap.


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Engine Removal

Honda 250N Engine Removal (dummys guide)

The bike is a 1980 Honda 250N Superdream but the removal and later stripdown of all Superdreams will be the same.

First of all the reason of this activity is an oil leak at the front of the nearside cylinder in the central area. The first suspect was obviously a head gasket or a base gasket but this oil was weeping from above the 1st fin up from the base gasket a place where no oil could come from or so I thought. My assumptions were that it was a cracked cylinder barrel or that at some time the cam chain has broken and damaged the interior in that area maybe quickly worn through the alloy as it flailed around.

I’m not a man that uses a manual unless all else fails but on this occasion I may have worked out what was wrong much quicker if I’d looked at one. Note to self: learn to read! I’d had a manual on order from a mate who once had a Superdream and all he had to do was find it. The only trouble with that plan was that he had recently moved house, his wife was 7 months pregnant, they had just got a puppy and a garden with a pet rabbit after living in a flat and life was kind of busy for him so I didn’t like to bother him too much so at the removal stage I had no idea what I was doing.

I thought I would first check that all the cylinder bolts were tight and I hoped that this would solve the problem and I wouldn’t need to the strip the engine at all but upon testing the torque of each bolt I found that the front nearside centre bolt was just revolving and the threads were therefore stripped bare

The Start

The start of all projects should be the same. It must always start with tea, and a cup of Twinnings Chai, this is the thinking mans tea of choice so I had a cup of builders special instead with six sugars but I never stir it because I don’t like it sweet. I then walked around the shed working out a plan. My shed had four bikes at the time and they all had to go outside for the project so whilst the tea was hot I wheeled them out and set up the patient (victim) for amputation. Now this is the end of “the start” but it’s just so important to get into the Zen zone….. the radio is always set to Radio2 and Ken Bruce must entertain me with older songs while I walk around and think and drink the tea as I work out how to best attack it knowing that it wants revenge and the skin from my knuckles. The engine was cold so not even the exhausts can do their usual trick and burn my arms and face…..only when the final swig of tea that contains all that liquid concentrate sugar has gone is it time to start the dismantle.

The Dismantle

The seat frame just lifts off and the tank is removed with one bolt at the end of the tank but first pull off the rubber pipe feed to the carbs. I do not store any bolts ever so the tank bolt is screwed back into the frame

My view is that the bits with sticky on them need to be removed while all other bolts are in place so levering and hammering can have some effect, there’s no point removing a part that’s stuck together only to wrestle it all over the garage floor to get it apart when if it had still been fastened onto the bike it would have been so much easier to split. Exhausts are a point, they have sticky put in them at the assembly stage and this makes parting them almost impossible off the bike but while they are still attached then the end pipes can be levered and encouraged with a rubber mallet until they are finally free. So first off is both exhaust end pipes followed by the front down tubes that will in most cases need WD40 but mine didn’t. I then put the bolts back in.

The collector box between the exhausts was next and where the nearside nut is easily accessible the offside nut needs a small socket set with a way of getting in at an angle, most socket sets have that flexible joint attachment that helps with the angle, I then put the bolts back into their holes

Next is the carbs, I removed four bolts attaching the black plastic intakes to the engine and put the bolts in my pocket but I didn’t want to bother taking the carbs. off so I fastened them up to the frame with bungee elastic so they, and all their cables stayed still and attached when the engine was removed, why make more work for reassembly?

On the off side of the engine there are a couple of small cables holding the engine so these were simply unplugged in the battery area as they are bullet connectors, the starter motor can be unbolted at the same place and I fed the wire out and left it attached to the crankcase. It was the same with the speedo cable it needed no tools to unscrew it from the bottom of the speedo so I unscrewed it and left it attached to the crankcase.

On the nearside of the engine there are several plastic block connectors. These are under the side panel, I simply disconnected them.Remove the side cover plate and take off the front sprocket to remove the chain, then put the sprocket back and the bolts back from the cover plate

The engine was now ready for dropping so I put a block under the engine and removed every engine bolt laying them in order under the bike. After pulling out the engine my first task was the put the carb bolts from my pocket back into the block and replace all the engine bolts back into the frame while I remembered where they went

One engine out no nuts or bolts and no skin off my knuckles

next will be the engine strip down follow the rebuild on http://www.hondasuperdream.co.uk http://s1225.photobucket.com/albums/ee385/ivorhughjarse/Honda%20250N%20rebuild/


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Honda 250N Superdream

                                                 more articles above or see on the right recent entries>>

I’ve just bought a 31 year old Honda 250N Superdream a bike that brings me back to my youth. Its the wrong colour (it’s green) but apart from an oil leak it is in excellent condition.

I bought the bike with a view to restoring it lightly but after stripping it down I’ve really got the bug to the point where i’m looking to bring it back to a very great looking but an obviously used bike with all the period bits and pieces that I can find, It’s odd for me to like such an under powered unloved bike and I only bought it on impulse but after completely stripping it down and seeing the quality of a 31 year Honda I’m looking forward to riding it around

http://www.hondasuperdream.co.uk and http://honda-superdream.proboards.com/index.cgi


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