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In this issue louth






16 22 28 30

Six steps to more confident cornering The truth about living with a VFR What is Moto Gymkhana? The RiDE Diaries: Ducati 848 Challenge, Yamaha X-Max 250 and Thundercat


The 360º Test: Suzuki GSR750 takes on Yamaha Fazer8 and Suzuki Bandit 1250 Used buying guide: Ducati 749/999 Retro Special: Kawasaki W800, Triumph Bonneville, Enfield Fury, Guzzi Griso, R1200R, plus used bargains and ace leather jackets KTM 125 Duke Aprilia RS4 125 Kawasaki Z750R and Honda CB1000R, plus the month’s best deals Electric duo from Zero

52 60 42


66 67 68 71

PRODUCTS 78 86 88 96 78


The RiDE Product Test: tents Niall Mackenzie’s kit secrets New kit on test How do you replace the perfect lid?

DIY 102 108 110

Motad make an exhaust for our Project BMW R1100RS How a datalogger could help you Project CBR600 shapes up


The best bikes and the best kit

SUBSCRIBE to RiDE and claim your brilliant SDoc100 cleaning kit. Turn to page 38 for details

August 2011



WINA BIKE TRAC uNIT WORTH NEARLY £300! Send your pictures to and each month one reader will win a Bike Trac unit, plus a year’s subscription to Bike Trac, courtesy of Road Angel. As well as boosting bike security it also helps you log your journeys. See www. for more.


Along with eight other guys I’ve just returned from a 2500-mile tour of the California Pacific Highway, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas to celebrate my brother-in-law Steve’s 50th birthday – Paul Weston

It’s funny how you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one day in three different countries and still have time and energy to party at night. This is Ricardo Yeep and me in Dunkirk – Joas Souza

Me and my wonderful Gladius at Bad-Driburg in Germany during a short weekend trip away – Tamara Richmond


August 2011

My girlfriend Holly and me out test riding a Bonneville and Thunderbird Storm during Triumph’s Classic and Cruiser Weekend – Crispy Duck This is my Honda Hornet, somewhere in Scotland, complete with kitchen sink on our first UK tour – EC

My Honda Transalp on tour in the Austrian Alps. Following advice in RiDE I fitted a Technoflex shock and fresh fork oil before the trip which made a world of difference to the handling on the mountain roads – Neil Bradley

Me and my Honda CBF500 and Fiona with her Honda Hornet 600 on our trip to Wales, her first tour after having just passed Direct Access – Joanna Sims

August 2011



Six StepS to

confident cornering 3


“Pegs!” Check position and use pressure on the pegs for fine-tuning


“turn that head” Lean into the corner, turn the bike and really crane the head round to look for the exit


August 2011

“Sort the gears” Adjust speed: sort your braking and change down


“When am i turning?” See where the road goes and get into position early


“elbows down, chin up” Check you’re sitting well



August 2011




DUCATI 749 & 999 Neither version was a big seller, but either is well worth tracking down Words kev Raymond

UseD prICes £2500–£10,000

Three reAsons yoU wAnT one Relatively affordable way into Italian exotica More reliable than a 916, more useable than a 1098 Superb handling on road or track

When Pierre Terblanche took over as head of design at Ducati in 1997, it must have seemed like the world’s best job and his worst nightmare at the same time. On the one hand, the chance to influence the development of one of the most recognisable brands in the world, and on the other the knowledge that whatever he did would be be scrutinised and criticised down to the last molecule of paint. Because he was coming in with a brief to design the replacements for some of the most iconic motorcycles ever: the 916, 996 and 998 series, all from the pen of Massimo Tamburini, who’d gone from Ducati to design the gorgeous new MV Agustas. The 999 may have been faster, may have been better handling, may have been more efficient, but it wasn’t as pretty as the old bike. It didn’t help that at WSB level there were serious grumblings about the new bike’s handling in its first season (although it did win the title with Neil Hodgson), and even in 2004 Franki Chili hated his 999 so much he ripped the motor out, fitted it in his old 998 and left the next meeting with the championship lead, much to Ducati’s embarassment. But eight years on and the 999 has 52

August 2011

aged gracefully.We’ve got used to the looks, they’ve proved reliable, the power was always excellent and the handling, for the road, pretty much faultless. And because they’ve avoided the cult status of the 916 series, prices are pretty sensible (although servicing costs can be horrendous). Alongside the original 999 was the 999S, with posher suspension and more power, and then there’s the R – limited-edition loveliness wrapped in carbon fibre and designed to homologate special bits for racing. And let’s not forget the 749 – always so much more than just a small-bore version of the 999. Its motor has a much revvier nature which afficionados reckon makes it a better balanced bike than its big brother – yes, you have to work the gearbox a bit harder and can’t just grunt out of corners, but it keeps you focused, and it’s extremely rewarding when you’re in the mood. Like the 999, the 749 came in basic, S (from launch) and limited-edition R (from 2004) versions. Terblanche left Ducati at the end of 2007, coincidentally at the same time the 999 was being replaced with the 916-styled 1098. His tenure at Ducati was controversial, like his flagship sportsbike. But love it or hate it, the 999 always gets a reaction.


o r t e R ial spec

as sent us h 0 0 8 W s Kawasaki’ Time Tunnel in down the est of retro: the the b f search of he smell o t , d n u o s look, the cket… a leather ja verland lin O Words Co

The look

The motorcycle and the black leather jacket go together like fish and chips, stockings and suspenders, middle age and a middle-aged spread. You can have one without the other, but they do seem drawn to each other. The relationship started for practical reasons, with leather jackets being tough, warm and readily available after the first world war. But soon the style became as important as the practicality, and then it moved into the realms of iconography, with the leather jacket becoming a ready signifier of toughness, masculinity and rebellion. Rockers, punks and the fashion crowd have all adopted it, yet bikers have stuck with it, despite the proliferation of alternatives. The man at the top of this page is Derek Harris, saviour and proprietor of Lewis Leathers – Britain’s oldest motorcycle clothing company, established in 1892; see www. He’s pictured in his shop in Whitfield Street in London W1. It’s as much a museum of cool leather 60

August 2011

jackets as it is a shop, and well worth a visit whether you’re after a jacket, some boots, some gloves, some jeans or you’re just basking in the grooviness of it all. Derek says: “My first memory of the leather jacket dates from the mid ’60s,watching the rockers tearing around my estate on their bikes. At the same time I would see Lewis Leathers adverts in football magazines, the NME etc and realised that this was what they were wearing. “Fast forward 10 years to the winter

Above Derek Harris, proprietor of Lewis Leathers in London’s West End – a shop that’s also a work of art for all the senses

Left Triumph have a huge range of old-look new jackets

of 1976, punk and the Anarchy in the UK tour, members of the Damned and Clash wore Lewis Leathers jackets and I remember thinking that this lent a certain authenticity to what they were doing – I was very impressed by that. From the Brooklands, TT racers and civilian flyers of the 1920s, via the RAF fighter pilots of WWII, through the ton-up boys and rockers, Team Seeley, Agostini, Minter, Hailwood and other top riders of the day, along with the rock ’n’ roll rebels, Lewis Leathers was their jacket of choice. “The jackets represent speed and rebelliousness, protection and warmth all at the same time. And they make you look good!” He’s been working recently with Triumph on special Triumph-branded versions of two classic Lewis jackets. Triumph also have their own very strong range of leather jackets, some of them more retro than others, from the soft-leather Lexford via the furry-collared James Dean to the more modern Balham. Your local Triumph dealer will have some, or visit

RETRO RIDE-OUT #1 Ton-Up Day July 17 Rocker culture celebrated at Jack’s Hill Café on the A5 Watling Street near Towcester, Northamptonshire. Live bands, café racer movies and lots of fry-ups, from 10am to 5pm.

The bikes

KawasaKi w800 and Triumph Bonneville Say ‘retro’ and this is what a huge number of people will think of: an air-cooled twin that deliberately evokes the final glory days of the British motorcycle industry. The original Triumph Bonneville was – like many of the twins that came before it – a big international seller, and that success shaped a lot of people’s ideas about what a motorcycle should be: slim, neat, functional, with a degree of flair. If you tried to sell an accurate replica of the Bonneville now it would be too slow, too rattly and too dirty for modern tastes. But since 2001 Triumph have resurrected the general look of the Bonnie for a new generation of nostalgic motorcyclists, and created a bike that’s a success in its own right. Like other Japanese factories, Kawasaki got established in the motorcycle world by copying – and in some ways improving on – those British twins.When, in 1999, Kawasaki brought out the W650 it wasn’t a retro tribute to the Bonneville – it was a retro tribute to Kawasaki’s own 1960s

Above Responsive engine make the W800 fun to ride Below Bonnie’s not just for dawdling on back roads – it can go pretty fast on back roads too

“They’re now in direct, unambiguous competition” rivals to British twins. The W650 has now been replaced by the W800, which looks similar but is actually a whole new bike – and it’s now a bike that’s in direct, unambiguous competition with the Triumph, which hasn’t been changed for 2011 aside from some new colour choices. Their origins may be different, but the end result is remarkably similar. Not just on paper, but on the road too, where even a big fan of one marque or the other could be forgiven for getting confused about which bike he or she was riding. They’re both low and narrow. They’re both smooth and quiet. They both handle well, and have suspension that’s well suited to the role these bikes seem destined for, which is chiefly breezing around on sunny Sundays. Neither has the sportiness that the original Bonneville enjoyed, at least in its earlier days, but then again neither has its jagged edges or a tendency to fall apart if not looked after. In all honesty, they both feel more like a

modest Honda CJ250 or Yamaha XS500 than an old Brit twin. They’re both friendly, unintimidating bikes that appeal to new riders on their way into biking’s big adventure and experienced riders who are moving away from more hardcore thrills. They have less appeal for anyone who wants something edgy or extreme, and they’re not designed for long, fast days in the saddle. It’s easier to describe the differences than the similarities. The Kawasaki has loads of bungee hooks for strapping bags on to the pillion seat. The Triumph has a slimmer fuel tank that can leave your knees flapping around in the breeze. The Kawasaki has more convincingly retro clocks and tyres, but not at the expense of function. The Triumph has much better brakes. Aside from the W’s awful front brake, they’re both very reassuring, unintimidating bikes to ride. You can tuck yourself in and go up to about 100mph without any protests from the bike. Even at lower speeds the engines are barely audible; at higher speeds the sound disappears completely. At the risk of appearing to miss the point, the joy of both these bikes isn’t their styling or their image – it’s their

August 2011


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Nomad Ténéré Expedition £349 Terra Nova Voyager XL £380

Robens Forest Lodge £179.99

Eurohike Tay £84.99

Coleman Rock Springs 3 £84.99

Argos Value Range two-man dome tent £11.24

Behind the scenes of RiDE’s tent test: page 128

Want to go on a camping trip on your bike but not sure what tent to take, or how to use it? We tried 13 to find the best one Words Simon Weir Pictures Steve Herbert, Matt Hull, Nathan Millward and Simon Weir Geodesic or semi-geodesic tent A tent with an irregular shape that’s made by self-supporting poles. Tend to need fewer guy-lines to secure than dome or tunnel tents. Groundsheet The thick layer at the bottom of the tent. Usually best if sewn into the inner tent, but may be a separate sheet for porch areas. Good groundsheets rise up the sides of the tent, to keep moisture out better. Guy-line The string used to anchor the tent and increase wind resistance. Hydrostatic head Reflecting the pressure of water needed to penetrate the flysheet material, the hydrostatic head figure is expressed in millimeters, as if a 1cm2 column

of water were resting on it: the higher the number, the more waterproof it is. A hydrostatic head of 1000mm is showerproof, 5000mm should keep out a monsoon. Inner tent The bit you sleep in. There needs to be a gap between the inner and the flysheet, as condensation forms on the flysheet and will pass into the inner if the two touch. Tents with the inner clipped in are faster to pitch. Some tents pitch inner-first: no good in the rain. Peg A stick that pokes into the ground to hold tent or guy-line in place. You knew that. Materials vary: soft round pegs are a pain; angular alloy often bends less. Pole The poles fold down, held together by

internal shock cord. Weight and quality varies. The more poles, the slower the tent is to pitch. Tunnel tent A tent formed by a series of arched poles. Can be light and spacious but may flap when hit by high winds.

Where’s this? We stayed at the excellent, extremely bike-friendly West End Farm campsite, just south of Louth and handy for Cadwell Park. For info see We had a fine evening at the Wagon and Horses – Thursday night is steak-and-wine night, with a pub quiz. Check them out at August 2011


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I’ve been bitching about the exhaust on the BMW RS since I’ve had it. The original was rusting from the inside out and wouldn’t pass another MoT, and the aftermarket Remus link pipe and can I got to replace it was just far too loud for my taste, even with the optional so-called road-legal baffle fitted. I decided that I’d rather have something properly road legal instead, so I decided on a Motad stainless system. The only problem was, the Motad website didn’t list a system for the RS. Must be an oversight, I thought, and gave them a call. Turns out they really didn’t do anything for my bike. “We’ve never been asked for one,” said boss John Atherton. I point out that there are a lot of these bikes about now, many of them high-mileage daily hacks like mine, and they’re all getting to the age where the original systems are falling apart – so they’re now firmly in Motad’s territory. “ Tell you what, we’ll design a system and you can have the first one off the line.” Result! So a couple of weeks later, I headed to Walsall to hand the RS over to Motad’s research and development department. That turns out to consist of Charlie and Chris. They’re both proper old-school engineers with huge experience (Charlie’s been doing this for 40 years), and they’re obviously proud of what they do. Charlie and Chris are quickly all over the BMW, checking out the likely problems and solutions. The concensus is the link pipe and silencer will be a piece of cake, but the headers are going to be a bastard.

What are we aiming for? Where possible, the first step is to establish a few baseline runs on the dyno (a Fuchs BE1251, if you’re interested), so the new system can try and mimic the characteristics of the standard pipe. I’ve brought the original BMW system along as well as the Remus, so they can try both. With that out of the way, the standard system comes off the bike (not easy in this case as the BMW’s exhaust studs have rusted into red blobs) for analysis on the flow bench – basically a big machine blows air through the system and works out how much resistance there is to that flow. Typically the more heavily silenced

the system, the more resistance, and although you can often get more peak power with a more free-flowing design, the effects of changes in back-pressure can play havoc with the bike’s engine characteristics. “The ideal is to get the flow as close as possible to the standard system,” says Chris as Charlie gets busy with the flow meter, “because that gives us the best chance to get the same engine characteristics, and means we end up with a straight bolt-on replacement, with no other modifications needed.” The other constraint is noise. The system has to be fully road legal, so they can get away with it being very slightly louder than standard, but not very much.

“The idea is to get the flow as close as possible to standard” Prototypes The new headers will be a straight copy of the originals, so for the moment the originals stay on while the silencer and link pipe are developed. The first step is a prototype in mild steel – no point wasting stainless on something that’s going to be cut and chopped and modified umpteen times. The link pipe’s easy enough as there’s stacks of room where the original bulky catalytic converter used to live. The silencer proves more troublesome. No problem making it fit and the first version, based on the can they use for a BMW K100, gave the right sort of power curve. “Trouble is,” says Charlie, “it got too hot at the front edge and discoloured too quickly.We couldn’t have that on a production system.” He shows me the disembowelled first version, and it’s an extravagant purple colour for the first six inches of the main silencer. Solving the problem involved relocating some of the internal baffles and redirecting the exhaust gas back on itself within the silencer. This is a fully mechnical silencer, with no internal packing, just tubes and plates, so there are infinite ways to put it together, which is where Chris and Charlie’s experience comes into play. “It’s a painstaking process, and there are no short cuts. It takes as long as it takes,” says Charlie. “Sometimes it’s August 2011 103

This issue eDiToriAL of is broughT To you by


Production editor

Technical editor

Deputy editor

Features writer Kev Raymond

Art editor #2

Art editor #1

Where We’Ve beeN… Camping in Louth

The moment Steve Herbert, the magazine’s art editor, informed us he had packed his toe nail clippers and tweezers was the moment we realised that when it comes to packing for camping, not all men are equal. For example, instead of a stove and instant noodles, Stu Barker brought cans of McEwans Export and some cigarettes. Matt Hull had a stove but no roll mat, while Simon Toyne didn’t even have a sleeping bag after it fell off his bike on the journey up to the site. He had to sleep in his sopping wet riding gear. It was cute to see thatone of Simon Weir’s mates had brought a Snoopy pillow, while another of Simon’s mates turned up on a rat bike that had a hand grenade dangling off the subframe and G-Had written along the swingarm. Sadly this bike fell foul of the weather when the Tupperware container beneath the seat filled with water and drowned all the electrics that were housed inside. He sat with the relay on the table of the local pub drying it out while the rest of us ingratiated ourselves with the locals by losing badly at the quiz. Through this we learnt that Marilyn Monroe was the first Playboy covergirl in 1951 and how, surprinsgly, the motto of the Salvation Army is ‘blood and fire.’ More interesting was Poppy, the waitress, who having failed her photography course at Grimsby College for submitting photos deemed too rude, now makes bespoke teddy bears in a shed just outside of Louth. These were the highlights of the trip that while very wet and often without equipment, did prove one thing: it doesn’t matter which tent you buy, just as long as you use it.

128 August 2011

Contributors Jason Critchell, Mark Manning, Rory Game, Lorraine Nevill, John Noble, Nick Gibbs, Kevin Ash, Paul Harris, Rob Hoyles, Alan Seeley, David Smith, Jon Urry

Thanks Shane Allen, bushcraft instructor; Stuart Barker, author; Andy Fisher, surveyor; Nathan Millward, adventurer; Wayne Paddison, airbrush artist; Jamie Phipps, brick counter; Kris Ward, navy pilot, Rachel Cope

ADVERTISING Commercial director Gareth Ashman 01733 468118

Display Paul King 01733 468549

Advertisement manager Iain Grundy 01733 468617

Classified Matt Summers 01733 468892

WhERE To Go Good things to see and do this summer 1

haynes Motorcycle Show August 21

One-day event, backed by BikeSafe, at the Haynes Motor Museum in Sparkford, Somerset. Features stunt shows, trade stands and club displays.

4 2 7 1


3 6

Customising, Culture and harley-Davidson Until September 11 2

Brilliant exhibition in a fantastic museum showcasing old and modified Harleys. 3

Big Triumph Ride-In July 31

Triumph owners converge on the ever-evolving Sammy Miller bike museum in Hampshire. www.sammy 4

Cock o’ the North Road Races July 23-24

Real road racing at Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough. 5

Festival of 1000 Bikes July 8-10

Enthusiasts rub shoulders with big names in the Mallory Park paddock and on the track at one of the year’s friendliest, most enjoyable events. 6

Goodwood Festival of Speed June 30-July 3 7

Silverstone World Superbikes July 31 8

CLIC Sargent ride-out August 13

Starting and finishing at Biggleswade Rugby Club, in aid of the children’s cancer charity and the East Anglian Air Ambulance: (join Air Ambulance in Bedfordshire Anglia Two)

Tell us about your event ride@ride.

August 2011 129

RiDE August 2011  

Britain's Brightest Motorcycle Magazine

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