Tag Archives: Motorcycle

Motorcycle Batteries

I remember that the battery on my Sportster was reasonably accessible without the need for a masters degree in dismantling. It’s a pity that the current bikes aren’t quite as straightforward.

The Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail and the Yamaha YBR 125 have both been standing in the garage for quite a while now while:

  • The weather has been Too cold
  • Too icy
  • Too much salt on the road
  • I have had easy availability of a car

So, predictably enough, the batteries on both machines had started to suffer a little. Recognising this as a potential problem when biking conditions finally improve,  we set out on a quest that involved a trip to Ikea to take advantage of their generous money back guarantee on unopened items.

We had bought some furniture, as well as reaching a medical breakthrough and we had to take back the two chests of drawers for which we had failed to measure the space available. This part of the expedition went well, with money being refunded. This was to the great astonishment of my credit card which has become used to the slurping sound of money going out. The balance of the universe was, however, restored when the bill for our subsequent wander around the Ikea store resulted in just one, but taller chest of drawers and and few other bits and pieces. The total, of course, came to rather more than the refund.

As we left Ikea, I’m sure that I heard a sigh of relief from my pocket as your master Visa thought that the pressure was off.

However, rather than our normal route away from Ikea along the A610 towards Nottingham, we took the exit from the Ikea exit roundabout towards the picturesque villages of Eastwood and Kimberley. This was because there is a good motorbike accessory and clothes shop in Kimberley, J & S Accessories. We parked up and went inside this Aladdin’s cave of helmets, jackets, boots trousers, waterproofs, leathers and so much more.

I am sure that the Visa card groaned, but we strongly resisted several hundred pounds worth of temptation and only bought a Dr Bike battery optimiser.

Yesterday evening was spent avoiding the Ikea boxes because I decided to get the Harley battery on charge. In fact, the Sportster used to have a useful little socket for a battery charger, although I never made any use of it. So I dug the socket and its two crimped battery terminals out of the charger box and approached the Harley to fit it.

This is where the fun really started.

I searched the interweb for some advice about how to get to the battery and found a great deal of smart-assed comment on the discussion groups and websites but precious little useful information. I had worked out for myself that the seat had to come off, but I couldn’t work out how to do it. Eventually Sue casually said, why not look in the handbook. Of course this explained, set by step, exactly what I had to do.

Actually doing it wasn’t quite as easy, and judging from the condition of one of the screw heads, the bikes previous owner(s) must have fought the same battles I now have.

Essentially, all you have to do is undo three screws, one on the rear fender behind the pillion seat and one each side of the rider’s seat, then slip the pillion grab strap over the head of the screw on the left side of the bike before pulling the seat backwards and up to release it.

If only the doing was as easy as the telling.

Eventually I did succeed and fitted the rings on the socket cable to the battery. This is when I made another discovery. Removing the battery cable from a Heritage Softail sets off the alarm. Loudly.

By this point, I just put it down to being part of life’s rich pattern and plodded on as the shrieking continued. Once finished, the alarm silent and the battery on charge, putting the seat back on was the work of but a moment in comparison to the voyage of discovery to get it off.

But I gave up on getting at the Yamaha battery for that evening.

Fast forward to today and with the Hog’s battery full, I had to bite the bullet and go for the YBR 125’s battery compartment. Once again, the handbook came to the rescue and saved me several hours of potential swearing. To get at a YBR battery, unlock the left hand side panel using the bikes’ ignition key. pull HARD on the front edge of the panel and a pin will disengage from (I think) a rubber mount. the back end of the panel also comes away and there is the battery in its full glory. Using the supplied pair of croc clips, the charger was plugged in and the kettle was on in just a few minutes.

Every day there seem to be more and more bikers on the road. It can’t be long now before I join them, although my commute to work is now quite a bit longer and I’m not sure that the M1 in rush hour is the place for a 125cc bike, but that’s a story that going to have to wait until I’ve tried it.

I’ve just realised that this the first bike post on here in ages. It’s good to be back.

Ride Safe
Dave

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Christmas Day On the Road

It’s been a while since my last Ride Report on here. That’s not because I haven’t been reporting, more that we havn’t done a great deal of riding.  I have used the bike as transport on a couple of occasions and I did a quick trip over to Robin Hood Harley-Davidson to complete some paperwork for my insurance. However, until today, it has been months since Sue and I went out for a ride.

With our Christmas celebrations taking place on Christmas Eve and the disco season taking a break, we were able to have some time for ourslves today.

After a relaxing morning, we decided to go out after an early lunch. So well before 1pm we were on the road, heading northwqrds out of Nottingham around the Hucknall by-pass and on towards Annesley and to the M1 northbound. 

Even as the ride started, the lack of traffic on the roads made riding an unusual pleasure.

We left the M1 and headed into Chesterfield before climbing up into the hills towards Baslow and across towards Buxton. The weather was overcast, but it stayed dry all day, although the temperature dropped as we headed northwards and as we climbed ever higher into the Peak Distict.

The ride into Buxton was, again, on almost deserted roads and after a little over over an hour aboard the Heritage Softail, we arrived in the Derbyshire spa town of Buxton. 

I had been there for a conference just over a month ago at the Palace Hotel and I stopped the bike just opposite Buxton railway station to point out the hotel to Sue who came up with the insired idea of stopping there to ask if we could have a coffee.  I was resigned to the fact that there would be nowhere open on Christmas day and that our refreshment stop would be back at home.

We rode up to the hotel, parked and went inside where we were welcomed and directed to the lounge bar area where we thoroughly enjoyed two lattes and two Christmas puddings.

Suitable refreshed and warmed through, we set out again to follow the A515 to Ashbourne and then the A52 to Derby. Although I know these roads well, it was a real pleasure to be the only vehicle in sight for most of the way, although we did come up behind a short queue of cars for the last few miles into Derby.

Normally, I would have taken the ring road around Derby , but today, I deided to ride through the middle. After a brief pause in a bus layby, Sue agreed that we should continue southwards to Swadlincote, where I start my new job on 5th January.

The ride out through Alvaston, Shelton Lock and Chellaston soon took us nto South Derbyshire district, which will be my “patch” in another week or so. Once across the A50, Swarkestone Bridge was soon negotiated and the road towards Swadlincote forked to the right off the Melbourne road.

It dodn’t take much longer to reach Swad (as the town is apparently known by its locals) and I took the now familiar route around the centre to South Derbyshire CVS on Grove Road. Of course, the building was closed and the twon centre itself deserted, but I was able to show Sue where I will be based.

After a few minutes there, we remounted the bike and set off back up the hill to where Sue had spotted what could have been the only petrol station that was open for very many miles. By now we had done well over 95 miles and as the Heritage has a tank range of around 120, it would have been touch and go whether we would have made it home. As we arrived at the petrol station there was a row of cones across the entrance and a man was busy padlocking the pumps – it was clear that they were closing. 

I rode round the cones and approached the man who generously unlocked the pump again so that I could fill up the bike (and it was only 85 point something pence a lite as well!).  He admired the bike and we chatted briefly while the tank filled and we thanked him again for delaying the end of his own working day for us.

It’s amazing how a motorbike can be such a great conversation opener. While we were in the Palace Hotel in Buxton, I started chatting to one of the staff who also rode a bike. We seem to have these kinds of conversation wherever we go.

By the time we left the filling station, it was getting late and the sun was very low in the sky as we rode around Ashby-de-Zouch, onto the A42 and headed back towards Nottingham. As night fell, so did the temperature and we were both quite cold by the time we had run up the M1 back to Nottingham and arrived back at home.

We had covered 130 miles and been out for over four hours of great riding.

It was good to be out on a day when most other people don’t go far and when all the people who drive for a living are off the road. We have ridden on Christmas Day before and I lok forward to doing so again in the future. However, before that, I hope to get more rides and more reports on the blog during next summer.

The first job for tomorrow morning, though, is cleaning the bike.

Ride Safe
Dave

Hunstanton

For quite a while now, Sue and I have been talking about finding time for a ride over to Hunstanton on the North Norfolk coast, which has itself become something of a mecca for bikers. I believe that Sunday is the biggest day for bikes, but as I am off work at the moment and Sue had a day off as well, we decided to go yesterday (Monday). The weather forecast was for isolated showers, so we packed our waterproofs (always a sensible precaution when riding in the UK in any case).  The rest of our advanced planning consisted of a decision to call in at Peckover House in Wisbech, a wonderful 18th century house that was once owned by a Quaker family who became quite big in the world of banking. The house is now owned by the National Trust.

Anyway, I am jumping ahead a little. We set off on the Heritage Softail through our fair, but congested city heading south-west towards Melton Mowbray. It was warm although  overcast, but when the sun came out, it was a glorious morning. We got to Melton in good time and continued out through Oakham, passing the large expanse of Rutland Water. We crossed the A1 and entered the town of Stamford where we managed to lose our way for a few minutes, but a stop in a side street and a quick consult of the map showed that a little more planning could have helped as we didn’t need to be in Stamford at all; we should have by-passed the town by taking the A1 south towards Peterborough.  I am not keen on retracing my route, mainly because it is an admission that my navigation was not 100%, so we continued along the A16 towards Market Deeping but swung left before this town towards Peterborough where we stopped for a coffee (getting one of our lattes free with a completed loyalty card) and a Chicken and Cheese Deli of the Dayat McDonalds before we picked up our semi-planned route for the final 20 mile run into Wisbech.

The centre of Wisbech is a wonderfully preserved Georgian port town, although there seems to be very little maritime activity on the River Nene these days. Parking was free in every car park we saw, and we easily found a space a short walk from the centre and, as it turned out, just behind Peckover House. Like most of the National Trust houses that we have visited, Peckover House was very well signposted and it was a short walk from the bike to the house. We arrived there a few minutes before the house was due to open at 1pm, so by the time we had obtained our tickets, the door was open and we were welcomed by a knowledgeable and friendly steward.

We were both very impressed with the house and its gardens. The Peckover family were obviously well-to-do, but in keeping with their Quaker beliefs, had a social conscience and were benefactors to the town. Unlike many of the big, grand country houses now in the care of the National Trust, this was a town house that felt like it could have been lived in by a real family. It had a very human scale, although the library is a big, and very impressive room. We were also very impressed that nothing was roped off in the way that much of the furniture in some rooms in other NT places are.

The gardens were also really well cared for and we enjoyed our walk through them to a building at the far end of the garden known as the Reed Barn. This is now a large tea room and a small second-hand book store. We enjoyed our tea and cake and, of course, came away with a couple of books.

Back on the bike and after a brief detour round the centre of Wisbech, we found the road towards Kings Lynn where the by-pass was far less busy than it had been on previous summer weekend trips to the area. We were soon clear of the town and heading north towards Hunstanton.

The last time we were in Hunstanton, we found a parking area just behind the south promenade, but the gate was locked, so we ended up on the sea front in an area where there were just two other machines, a Honda bike and a scooter. While we were there we spotted just one of two more bikes in this area, but Monday afternoon is clearly not a great time for a bike meet.

Hunstanton, although on the east coast of England, actually faces west onto the Wash. This meant that the view out to sea was actually of the south Lincolnshire coast, although we could not identify any specific places.

It struck both Sue and I while we were there was the fact that last time we had visited Hunstanton, there seemed to be huge numbers of very overweight people there. Now I’m the first to admit that I’m not the exactly small myself, so for this to have made such an impression, we must be talking BIG! Anyway, on this visit, we didn’t really see anyone who could have been called very obese.

There were a few spots of rain while we were eating our obligatory seaside ice cream, but it didn’t amount to much. We had a walk around the town and looked in a few of the shops before the main reason for our visit to the place – fish and chips.

We went into Bears Fish And Chips and were greeted by a friendly guy behind the counter who reminded both of us of Owen Newitt from the Vicar of Dibley. He certainly had some physical resemblance to Roger Lloyd Pack, the actor who played Owen, but his voice was pure Owen. The fish and chips were very good and there was plenty of them. There was a good mug of tea as well. If you visit Hunstanton,  Bears Fish and Chip Shop is at 26 Le Strange Terrace, Hunstanton, Norfolk, PE36 5AJ.

With the inner biker satisfied, we had a walk along the South Promenade and through the funfair. We weren’t tempted by the rides and as we walked back towards the bike, we decided to kit up and head for home.

The ride home meant retracing our steps to Kings Lynn before diverging from our ride out to head along the A17 towards Boston. In fact, I followed rather too many signs for Boston and ened up off our direct route (again) and in the middle of that town. Although this put a few extra miles on, it also gave us another opportunity for coffee stop which very fortuitously coincided with a brief shower of rain.

The ride back along the A52 was uneventful, although my confidence in cornering seemed to have settled into  a groove and I enjoyed this part of the ride.

I still feel pretty good and I wonder whether the day out on the bike with Sue has done some good for my depression as well.

Ride Safe
Dave

Our Bikes – Part 2 – Heritage Softail

This brings the Harley Davidson part of our story right up to date because, as I write this, we have only had the Heritage for two weekends, although we actually bought it the weekend before, on Saturday 29th March 2008. Sue and I are both members of the committee of Sherwood Chapter and we had been at a committee meeting that morning at the Harley dealers. It had been publicised that there would be a ride out after the meeting which would have seen us aboard the Sportster. However, the British weather ensured that we stayed around to wait for a break in the rain that never really came.

As we wandered around the store, chatting to other chapter members and staff from the dealership, I was repeatedly drawn back to one particular bike. We talked to Nick (the boss) who suggested that we should look at a Road King that had just arrived at the store. Despite the drizzle, we jumped at the chance of a test ride and my first ride on a touring bike was two-up around the streets of Beeston, Nottingham.

We loved this bike at first sight, but Nick had other ideas.

There was a blue Road Glide in the store and that was wheeled out for our second test ride of the afternoon. I liked this machine as well, but Sue wasn’t too keen on the metal bar just in front of the hard panniers on each of these bikes.

That left the brand new Heritage Softail from the stores demonstrator fleet as our third test ride. As soon as I sat on this bike everything just felt right. The ride was little more than around the block, but the grin inside my helmet couldn’t have been any bigger. OK, we were on the fuel-injected six-geared 2008 model, but we had no illusions, a new machine was simply out of our price range. But that ride clinched the deal.  Sue felt as comfortable on the pillion as I did on the front We plumped for the very same machine that I had been drawn to earlier in the day, that 2002 model Heritage in Blue and Silver.

The Heritage Softail

We picked the bike up the following Saturday and rode it into Derbyshire for lunch and a visit to Peak Rail and we joined the chapter ride out the following day, but that’s going to be a separate ride report on another day soon.

Ride Safe
Dave

Our Bikes – Part 1 – The Sportster

It was August 2005 when we decided to get a motorbike. I’d been riding on two wheels (whisper it) on a Piaggio Scooter for a while. But that story will have to wait for another day.

If I remember it correctly, it was almost one of those spur-of-the moment decisions. Sue and I had been into North Wales where we had stayed with some friends and celebrated my birthday. The day after, August 25th 2005, Sue was driving and came into Nottingham via a circuitous route that took us via Beeston. I think I had been making muttering noises for a little while about wanting a Harley-Davidson, but I was still very surprised when she pulled up outside the Robin Hood Harley Davidson store.

We agreed that we would go in and have a look round. At this point, I still didn’t believe that we could afford to actually buy one, but after we had walked round the display of gleaming machines several times, admired the displays of tee-shirts, leather jackets and assorted other essential paraphernalia, Sue pointed at a Green Sportster and said something like, “How about this one, then?”.

The Green Sportster

We had two and a half years of great riding aboard this bike, including the not very wise (with hindsight) decision to ride her (for she was definitely female) through two salt-encrusted british winters. We were never the most enthusiastic bike cleaners, either, so by the early spring of 2008, she was showing some signs of our neglect with signs like a little rust around some of the bolts.

In a future post, I must recount the tale of the Sportster seat, but in Part 2, I’ll introduce the Heritage Softail that replaced our introduction to the world of Harley-Davidson.

Ride Safe
Dave