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In this issue moffat
14 21 26
Getting in shape for the big trip Stay alive by riding to survive The RiDE Diaries: Thundercat, cruiser, scooter, 848 Challenge Where to go 25 years of the Honda VFR Off-roading made easy with Yamaha
33 34 38
360º Test: New Kawasaki Z1000SX vs Honda VFR1200F vs Ducati Multistrada Ducati Monster 1100 Evo Aprilia Tuono V4 BMW R1200R The month’s best deals
58 62 64 65
PULL-OUT MAGAZINE GREAT ROADS ALL AROUND BRITAIN Where to find them How to ride them Where to stay
fREE IN ThIS ISSUE 82
67 68 70
Moto Guzzi Norge 8v Moto Guzzi Stelvio 8v Used buying guide: Honda VFR800
PRODUCTS 82 85 86 96
What makes Hel Performance special Tyre masterclass: trackdays New kit: jackets, helmets, locks, jeans Product test: summer boots under £150
DIY 104 106 113
Dyno helps ZX-6R fuelling set-up How glassfibre bodywork is made Project CBR600 gets a boot
RiDE ESSENTIALS 116
The best bikes, the best kit
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Me and my lads on our way back from the TT. I’m on my Fazer, son-in-law Andi is on the Duke and my lad Ti is on his VFR – Bruce Kelly
Me on my Honda CB750 taken on our first venture abroad to France on our bikes. This was taken just outside Saint Pierre-sur-Dives in Calvados – Roy Lovell
Me and a couple of mates rode to Donegal over Easter. As you can see the locals had the same idea – Graham Baxter
A nice winter’s day down Bournemouth beach on my new Gixxer 750 L0 – Paul Reed
Me and my Suzuki GSX650F outside the Le Mans circuit next to Mark Shaw’s BMW. My first trip abroad since passing in 2009 – Richard Ryan
Army Bikers’ 1000-mile trip around Scotland. We dropped into Billy’s mum’s in Wick for a big fry-up – SSgt Billy Henderson
On our trip to the Alps riding a ZZR600 and Hornet 600 – John and Richard Worrall
Caoimhe and Ailbhe helping me give my BMW RT a clean after a 600-mile journey around the south of Ireland – John Fagan
My Bandit on a ride-out to Clegg Hall, Rochdale – Jez Clegg
Mud, but no sweat or tears Yamaha’s Tenere Experience is a fun, no-hassle introduction to off-road riding Words Jon Urry Pictures Jonty Edmunds
Like a lot of people I’ve started to find that bombing around on sportsbikes isn’t as much fun as it used to be – there’s a speed trap around every corner and the roads are overloaded with abysmal drivers. So, even though my few off-road experiences have shown that I’m short on talent, I find myself increasingly drawn to naked and adventure bikes. There are countless enterprises springing up to cater for the British biking public’s new appetite for biking adventures of various sorts. The more adventurous can book trips to Spain or even further afield, but in the UK there are two major players – the BMW Off Road Skills course or the Yamaha Off-Road Experience, both of which are located in Wales. 38
To promote their Super Tenere, Yamaha have now expanded the Off-Road Experience to include a new option, the Tenere Experience. Run by the Jones family from their farm in mid-Wales, the Tenere Experience is aimed at people who want a relaxed off-road day, or who want to test either a Super Tenere or a Tenere in an off-road environment. Where the Off-Road experience is on more dirt-biased WR machinery, the Tenere Experience is predominantly on the on-road Tenere, which limits how extreme the riding can get. The day starts with a safety briefing and our first glimpse of the Super Tenere. Having not ridden one before, something soon becomes apparent: it’s a beast. It tips the scales at 261kg fully fuelled, leaving me a little concerned
“Although in no way converted to off-roading, I throughly enjoyed it” After a safety briefing the day’s riding can begin in earnest
Lifting up a 261kg bike is all about the right technique
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Stunning scenery adds to the experience
about the prospect of taking it off road. But it comes with ABS and traction control, and the Metzeler Karoo tyres look like they mean business. Heading out through one of the farm gates, we start on a fairly gentle trail that is little more than a farm track. It’s more a jaunt to get accustomed to the bike than a proper test and, even though the more experienced riders make light work of it, I instantly tense up and approach every bump at walking pace. The Tenere doesn’t feel that cumbersome, but I’m still not comfortable with the sensation of the wheels moving around on the loose surface, a feeling that isn’t helped by the panniers acting like huge sails in the gale force wind, making the bike crab sideways. But having survived we
return to the farm and take a quick blast down some narrow tarmac roads before heading into the forest. The morning’s riding involves a pleasant mixture of fairly gentle trails, that are basically gravel or slightly muddy tracks, as well as a few road miles. Every now and then we approach a slightly trickier section that may involve deeper mud, a bit of water or a slightly more extreme gradient, but nothing appears too fierce. There isn’t a feeling of ‘ride here, learn something’; it’s more a journey on varying surfaces that is as much a tour as it is an off-road skills day. The afternoon follows a similar pattern and, with my initial anxiety about off-road riding beginning to wear off, I find myself enjoying the trickier sections. I’ve not used a bike with traction control off-road before and for a novice it’s letting me find grip and allowing me to keep the power on and worry about where the bike is going, rather than if it’s going to stall. And on the gravel paths the traction control is good enough to allow me to experiment with sliding the rear end by gassing it up out of corners. Even the ABS, which you can’t actually turn off on the Super Tenere, doesn’t cause any problems and like the traction control it proves to be a help rather than a hindrance. Although I’m in no way converted to a life of off-road riding, I thoroughly enjoyed the Tenere Experience as it offered me exactly what I had hoped it would– a hassle-free day that felt like a ride out with your mates. Yes, all the instructors are vastly experienced off-road riders, but none of them felt the need to push their expertise on us – the day wasn’t about that. Should you get stuck they were more than happy to give a helping hand, but I didn’t come on the day to become an off-road riding legend, I just wanted to have a laugh on some bikes – which is exactly what I did. The Super Tenere is a road bike that,
It’s amazing what you can find in the panniers
in the right hands, has some level of off-road ability. However, for most riders most of the time it’s far more suited to gentle trails with the occasional tricky bit if you’re feeling brave. I liked the combination of fire tracks, slightly testing off-road and road riding that the Tenere Experience offered as it felt more like an adventure than a day at school. To be honest I would have loved to have just ridden around the area on the roads all day as the scenery was so stunning, however, by taking to the tracks we got a view that no road rider ever could, which was an added bonus.
Thankfully the local pubs don’t have a dress code
ESSENTIAL INFO What you get for your money Cost of course: £250 a day, £450 two days inclusive of bike hire, fuel, lunch, insurance and instruction Extras: £20 kit hire, accommodation at a local B&B Contact: www.yamaha-offroadexperience.co.uk How to find it The course is based around Hafren Forest in Mid-Wales. The nearest town or village is Llanidloes on the A470.
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KAWASAKI Z1000SX Itâ€™s designed to get you to the office, tour Europe and swoop through B-road chicanes. Can Kawasakiâ€™s new Z do it all? We pitted it against two accomplished all-rounders to find out Words Colin Overland Pictures Gareth Harford and Matt Hull
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Scaring off the customers in Yorkshire (above) and Dumfries and Galloway
Rain? Scotland? Whoâ€™d have thought it? But these bikes are perfect for the challenge
The line king Simon Lane of Exeter-based Hel Performance is top cat when it comes to brake line know-how Words Colin Overland Pictures Ben Scott Deceptively simple things, brakes. Caliper, disc, bit of hydraulics. But if things really were that basic, every bike would come with brilliant brakes. They don’t. That’s where people like Hel Performance come in. Like the other companies supplying aftermarket brake components, Hel exist at the intersection of science, style and superstition.We all want our bikes to look good, perform brilliantly and bale us out when our ambition outstrips our talent. Hel are focused. They do motorcycle brake lines. That’s it. The hardware isn’t so very different from some other people’s, but their know-how is. That’s partly because they’re not distracted by automotive and aeronautical concerns like some other firms. It’s partly
Above: Welcome to Hel... The brake line firm’s Devon warehouse Right: Hel’s policy of stainless steel brake lines with permanent attachments has set the industry standard
because they nearly all ride bikes themselves. And it’s partly because of their deep commitment to racing – they’re a constant presence at national and international meetings in Britain. Simon Lane has been in hydraulics all his life. His father’s company, where he started out 30-odd years ago, is next door to Hel’s base just outside Exeter. Hel is the company Simon bought 11 years ago. It started life as Hose Equipe Ltd, and he saw the marketing opportunities that would arise from trimming that down to Hel – with lots of devilish advertising – and then boosting it up to Hel Performance. “There was a gap in the market for someone dealing directly with individual motorcyclists,” says Lane. “Our skills lie in offering bespoke kits for individuals.
“We’re a decent bunch of people. In 11 years of business we’ve had 14 complaints. It’s not all about pounds, shillings and pence. It’s a passion. “I started on a Honda MT5 but it really started in 1973, when I was less than a year old, and I was there when Kenny Roberts rode at Exeter Racecourse. I now have a Suzuki GSX-R1000 and a Honda CBR1000. But anything on two wheels lights my fire, from a 50cc Aprilia to a Goldwing. “There are 10 people here. Every member of staff has got a Hel sticker on their car or bike.We’ve enjoyed ourselves all the way through. Everyone’s got to work – but you might as well enjoy yourself too. “If someone rings up asking about a 748 or a 749, we know what they’re talking about.We know bikes. The right thread. The right fitting. The same hands that make them for HM Plant and Relentless make them for the public. They are the same fittings, the same hoses. The same guys who work here are manning the race truck. “We have 68 distributors around the world. I’ve visited every single one. Sitting in a café in Italy seeing a bike go past with a Hel sticker on it chokes me up every time. “In good times or bad, people change their brake hoses. It’s the only bolt-on where you can feel an instant difference on the road.We sell 200 kits a day in the UK and we’re currently doing 50 per cent UK, 50 per cent rest of the world, which balances out the seasonal nature of demand nicely.” It’s not just about the attitude – the hardware has to be right: hoses from Yorkshire, fittings from Devon, put together just so. “We started with high standards – no aluminium, only swaged fittings – and we’re always keen to raise the standard. So I’m glad other companies have moved to stainless steel and fittings permanently attached to the hose. For safety reasons, it’s nice to see people following our lead.” Coming soon in RiDE: Simon Lane’s brake masterclass.
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“Sitting in a café in Italy seeing a bike go past with a Hel sticker on it chokes me up every time” Simon Lane
Fuels rush in Last month our Project ZX-6R started up for the first time since 2005. Now it’s time to take it for a detailed run on the dyno to sort out the fuelling Words and pictures Kev Raymond
The Silverback ZX-6R’s mad looks aside, throughout this project I’ve kept as many fundamental parts as standard as possible. I’ve kept the old airbox and as much of the standard exhaust as I could. But I’ve had to modify the airbox to fit the frame: the bike’s not running its original ram air system, its catalytic converter’s gone, and the link pipe connecting exhaust downpipes to silencer is new. All that means the fuel injection system is working from old knowledge and needs updating. Fortunately, John at Track Electronics, who’s been sorting the wiring, is also an experienced dyno operator, and he’s going to fit a Bike Interceptor to allow us to alter the fuelling. Just as importantly, he’s going to explain what he’s doing, why, and how.
Why FI? “Fuel injection (FI) gives greater control over all engine functions than was ever possible with carburettors. This allows manufacturers to meet emissions and noise regulations while still giving performance and economy. The downside is extra complexity.”
How does it work? “The heart of the FI system is the bike’s Engine Control Unit (ECU): this looks at information from a number of sensors including rpm; throttle position; manifold and outside air pressure; and engine and outside air temperatures. Using this information the ECU varies the fuelling and ignition according to pre-set maps.”
Why alter it? “Several reasons. Manufacturers have to come up with a standard set-up that works in every conceivable situation – temperature extremes, varying grades 104 July 2011
Interceptor plugs into the loom between ECU and injectors, hijacking the signal and allowing us to modify it for better fuelling. The box also acts as a basic datalogging system, and allows you to plug a quickshifter in as well, if the mood takes you.
3D fuelling map: rpm is along the horizontal axis; % of fuel added or subtracted is along vertical axis; % of throttle opening is along front-back axis. Running the standard ECU would give a flat trace at zero on the vertical axis. Here, the down spikes are where John has reduced the fuelling, and the odd up ones are where he’s added a little.
of fuel, contrasting riding styles. It’s a compromise, and it’s further compromised by the need to pass noise and emissions tests. So once they’ve come up with initial settings, they might need to lean the bike off around the point where emissions tests are carried out and create low noise points. “All this is generally detrimental to what we as riders want, which is a consistent throttle-to-rear-wheel power delivery. By altering the fuelling, we can get rid of certain compromises. It’s also important to set the fuelling properly if you’ve made any significant change to the bike’s set-up – altering the exhaust system or adding a free-flow air filter, for example. You won’t always get more peak power but the midrange drive out of a corner and
off-to-on throttle pick-up can be greatly improved. Additionally, it’s often the case that fuel is taken away from a map to increase performance, thereby reducing fuel consumption.”
How do we change it? “We can’t directly re-programme the standard ECU. But we can effectively hack into its output signals. FI bikes run a constant fuel pressure, supplied by an electric pump. The amount of fuel delivered is determined by how long the injector is held open by the ECU. Devices like the Bike Interceptor (which we’re using here) and Power Commander sit between the ECU and injectors. By adding or subtracting from the duration of the signal sent out by the ECU, we add or remove fuel.”
A simple dyno run is one thing, but for detailed set-up you need extra hardware, extra software, and extra experience. Fortunately John’s got all three. Left-hand screen shows revs, speed and air/fuel ratio; right shows Interceptor map – in this case a flat trace showing we’re still on standard ECU settings.
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About… to… explode
Where we’re going (maybe) Plan? But I thought you had the plan… OK, so it turns out we don’t have a plan of shows, exhibitions, rallies, meets, races and get-togethers we’ll be attending this summer. Without that plan, we’ll still be out and about – riding, spectating, chatting, meeting readers – but at this stage you know as much as we do about where we’ll be and when. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. Maybe we’ll drop in on our way somewhere, maybe we’ll be there in a van covered in bunting and RiDE stickers. If we did have a plan, it would certainly include… The North-West 200 on May 21, the Adventure Film Festival in Devon in June, the TT, MotoGP and World Superbikes at Silverstone, Boston Bike Night, the Snetterton 300, the Festival of 1000 Bikes at Mallory in July, the big BMW festival at Garmisch, Thunder in the Glens, Ton-Up Day at Towcester, the Donington Eight Hour, Castle Combe to watch the 848s, Horncastle Bike Night, the Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed, the BMF season-ender at Lincoln and the October Stafford classic show. We’ve also got at least half an intention of being at the Ace Café, at Squires, at Wessons, the new Manor Café in the Yorkshire Dales and the Orwell Crossing Transport Cafe. And Ireland. Top and bottom. Lots of Ireland. And Belper (don’t ask). And of course we’d be delighted to try out any hotels you may happen to own – which is how come we visited RiDE reader Dave Smith’s Buccleuch Arms (see left). Whether any of this will happen… Lord only knows. And whether we’ll be skulking around in bobble hats queueing for burgers, or on a stage handing out awards… only time will tell.
Got an event we should attend? email@example.com July 2011 129