Roadcraft references for cornering

I’m due to cover cornering in my EDAM run tomorrow, and I’ve found a section in Roadcraft that bears out my previous post on experimenting with how I sit on the bike.

On page 89 of my edition of Roadcraft (the first impression way back in 1996) it says under “Riding Position and balance”:

“When you are moving, sit in a comfortable position with your body slightly leaning forward. Sit so that you can reach the controls comfortably without locking your arms straight. A slight bend to your arms will prevent the transmission of shock from the handlebars to the rest of your body and the bike”.

In my case it seems that I have to lean a bit more forward than “slightly” but if I work back from having my hands on the bars, bend my arms slightly then the position I adopt comes from there. It certainly works better in practice.

Motorbike passes its MOT Test

The R1100RS had its MOT booked for this morning at 09:30, so I was out early and used the opportunity to go out for a ride and try some different options for cornering.

I’ve started the advanced riding training again for 2007, and I’m on to weak areas in the lead up to the test. My slow speed maneuvering and cornering are needing work. A big part of this is how I get on with the bike, e.g. sitting in a different position or leaning forward or back can make a big difference to both of these. I went out to look for some twisty roads to see if I could work out what was better for me.

I headed out on the A71 and decided to turn left down a road to see where it went. I turned left at the roundabout outside the Hermiston Park and Ride and discovered that following this road (Gogar Station Road) took me to join the A8 just outside the new RBS campus. I headed along the A8 and decided to try one of my “Nemesis” roads. There is a back road to South Queensferry which I take to go to drop the bike off to get serviced that has a tricky set of low speed corners that I ran wide on once. This was a classic running wide on a left hander, so ever since I’ve almost tip-toed along there. As I passed over Newbridge I spotted Peter Woollven, the EDAM Secretary and gave him a wave going the other way. Through Newbridge on the A89 I turned right at the lights into New Lisbon Road. This road goes from a 40 mph limit into a 60 mph, with a sweeping right hander just before the road goes under the M9, then a tighter left, kink right then 30 mph limit. I gave a go at leaning foward on the bike to stop my elbows locking up – the recommendation is to have your lower arm parallel to the road. And I think it worked, it was a lot easier to apply the countersteer to keep the visibility line through the corner. It’s not quite what you would call a “racing crouch” but it points to what I need to do to tidy up my cornering.

I headed up Path Brae on to the High Street, then Station Road and turned right into Main Road. Then a turn left, leading out of the 30 mph limit into another 60 mph. This road is quite narrow, then leads to a 80 degree left, 90 degree right, then another left then right. It wasn’t as tidy as it could have been, but it wasn’t a problem. So I followed this road out to the A90 and headed North. I turned off at South Queensferry before McDonalds and headed West along the A904. I headed along there and cut left under the M90, then headed back east through Winchburgh and back to Kirkliston to try those sweeping corners again.

I’ve still got practice to do to get used to it, but it seems that how you sit makes a big difference.

After all that I headed to C & J Wilson in Uphall to put the R1100RS in for its MOT, and it passed. A couple of advisories on the front left hand disc bobbins and the front shock lower mount.

Does that mean I am an Artisan?

Just back from my last evening class at Borders College on the Know Your Motorcycle course. Hats off to Shane Black for knowing his stuff, and tweaking the course content to allow us to get on with the spannering.

It was great fun, and the only downer for me was having to travel all that way to Galashiels. I can’t believe that I have to travel 40 miles either South or West to get a basic mechanical maintenance course. I guess the city bikers must be too posh to get their fingernails dirty. And its not as if they have to, I wear nitrile gloves and stay clean thankyou very much.

We did everything from removing wheels to electrics, changing the oil, changing the brake fluid, removing the forks (the suspension at the front) and we had one bike running tonight, one almost running (it had a spark) and another not working. As we didn’t even know which of the three bikes worked before the course, that was reckoned to be good going.

Shane has a day job working at a Chrysler dealer as a diagnostic technician on Jeeps, and has worked on quads, bikes, cars etc etc. Turned up on his Fazer tonight, one of the other guys was on his GSXR.

Having got the reputation as the guy with the BMW, one of the others (who is an associate with Borders Bike IAM) gave me a link to a video of a BMW R1150GS going round the Isle of Man during TT time – they do strange things with roads during that time.

Ninth or Tenth Ride To Advanced

I’ve checked back and I’m not sure which week this is, so here goes anyway.

The preparation for my IAM Advanced Motorcycle Test with EDAM started up again today with the clock change. Between work and recent illness I haven’t been out on the R1100RS that much, so today was reassuring in that I appeared to be at a similar level as I was in November. Same weak areas, others have held steady or have become more of my standard ride which is a good thing. I need to look as far as possible, observing what is going on and using the information. My slow maneuvering is also a bit ropey, as it was before.

I was out with Bob and Steve today, Steve having his test pass and planning to train up as an Observer. We did a mix of A/B, town and dual carriageway.

It was good to get out with my same Observer, there are limitations to practice and what can develop, but with the lighter evenings I might be able to get out and practice slow stuff. MOT is on Saturday, hopefully there won’t be any frights in that area.

Second Opinion on the BMW R1100RS

Collected the R1100RS on Wednesday night, after a feat of logistics planning between Livingston and South Queensferry. I’m the only driver in the house, so I had good fun with the round trip involving driving the car, riding the motorbike, catching a bus and catching a train.

Having checked the bike over, I’m going to avoid second guessing the examiner and put it through its MOT test, and see what he thinks. The lower shock mounting has been tightened up, the brakes have been freed off, and the pads in both calipers replaced as they were badly corroded on the backs and not sitting on the pistons correctly. The discs have been left alone, as have the handlebars – they are mounted on two large rubber bushes and are supposed to move. The chap working on it gave it a good test ride and it handles and goes fine for him.

Just over £80 so far – we’ll see how the MOT goes in a week’s time.

Outlook 2003, VPN and Windows Desktop Search

I understand Office 2007, and in particular Outlook maintains a continuous index and is blinding when it comes to finding stuff. I’ve got Windows Desktop Search (WDS) installed on my work laptop and I find it excellent. I’m having fun lately marking the “utility” as I call it of various computer systems. This one has a 4 out of 5 rating.

I’ve also installed Adobe Reader 8 for the iFilter it gives me, and once I’d turned on the extension I can index into the internals of pdf files.

The only recent downside I hit was down to the joys of VPN. I haven’t been in the office for several weeks, and therefore I’m doing the ever so risky maneuver of archiving my outlook over the VPN. This normally works ok, I kick it off at home while watching telly and let it chug away in the background. It was particularly slow tonight, and of course there it was – WDS had noticed the archive file joining outlook and was diving in to index it. I wouldn’t mind if I was on a LAN, but over VPN it was plain annoying.

So into WDS config and unchecked the archive file.

BMW goes in for a second opinion

Took the R1100RS to South Queensferry this evening for a second opinion on the items that “condemned” the bike, to quote the chap tonight.

His opinion? Floating discs are meant to move, the bolt at the bottom of the front shock might be worn, he has seen a lot worse when it comes to front discs. Yes, the calipers need freed up, but if I don’t ride the bike enough …..

Some people in the motortrade can’t tell you straight when they don’t want to work on a bike, so they frighten you off …

Bloomin vehicles

I changed cars last year, when the finance deal on the last one ran its course, so my current Passat is on a variable servicing schedule. For some folks it means longer intervals between visits to the garage. With me it means that the service indicator has just kicked in and is now pointing out I have 1800 miles to my next service. I think this gives me about 9 weeks.

And its MOT time for the bike. With cars over the last few years they have been serviced at the same place as do the MOT, so it is pretty straightforward to book it in and they fix whatever is needed for the MOT, which is not usually very much with a relatively new car.

With the bike it is slightly different, my BMW is over 10 years old and isn’t in daily use, so things come up with it. Last year I put the bike in at a local motorcycle mechanic in the next village to get a once over in anticipation of the MOT, and right enough he made a couple of tweaks and it passed. This time I decided to do the same as he is BMW trained, but got a different chap. And it comes back with a shortish but expensive list:

  • Play in the bush in the bottom of the front suspension strut (combined shock absorber / coil spring unit), which apparently you can’t buy seperately and therefore need a new strut.
  • Front brakes seized, and with two calipers working on the two discs, so a couple of kits to replace the four pistons and their seal kits for each caliper.
  • Front discs looking scabby, so two new discs, and they are rattling a bit, so new brake bobbins.
  • Too much movement in the rubber mounts for the handlebars, so two new rubber mounts there.

And a fair chunk of labour to pull things apart, clean them, fit the new parts in and reassemble. It was a bit of a shock hearing that worse case scenario was about £700 ish, for a bike I bought for £1995. Don’t get me wrong, safety stuff like brakes is not to be messed with, but the bike passed its MOT with the discs about 4000 miles ago (tops) and I don’t think they look that different.

So I’ve arranged to have the chap in South Queensferry look at it, and give me his verdict. He had to strip down the calipers last year, and I tried to follow the advice of washing the salt off, but they have seized up again after the season. It could be that replacing the pistons and seals would do the job, but he can tell me what he thinks. I am really hoping I don’t need to spend three figures getting them sorted. In the meantime I have to put the restart of the Advanced Motorcycling on hold, as the bike isn’t rideable. I’ll push it a little taking it over to get fixed, but I’m not going any further.

I’m going to hold on the particular lesson learned, but perhaps it does well to stick to have the same person looking after the bike, despite the minor inconvenience of public transport between Livingston and South Queensferry.

Tenth Anniversary, The Scottish Motorcycle Show

The Scottish Motorcycle Show falls within the week of our Wedding Anniversary each year, so I usually work to combine both by going to the show during the day then going out for a family meal in the evening.

Being as it is our tenth this year, I booked a few days away for myself and Mrs AlistairL. Believe it or not we honeymooned all those years ago in Glasgow, so we returned again, albeit to a different hotel. I booked up a Junior Suite at a hotel about 50 yards from Sauchiehall Street and had a great few days. We popped out to see Ghost Rider at the cinema across the road on Wednesday night, using the 2 for 1 Orange Wednesday promotion. That was a cool film.

Thursday was out on the Underground and up to Byres Road, the Botanic Gardens and headed down to have a nice lunch at the Kelvingrove Cafe. The KG Cafe is an interesting blend of restaurant and cafe, and comes recommended from me. Afterwards I popped upstairs and checked to see where my name was on the donor wall – you can see my name up there with the rest of the restoration donors! I even persuaded Mrs AlistairL to let me look around the transport museum and look at the old bikes. It is just across the road from Kelvingrove, and was on the way back to the Underground station. We headed back and went to see Epic Movie, which was rubbish – I reckon I’m too old for that stuff.

Friday was a good wander down Buchanan Street, popping in to Borders, Frasers and a wee look up and down Argyll Street. We had a show booked up for the evening at the Royal Concert Hall. Two folks called Jacqui Dankworth and Todd Gordon were doing a wee tour featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra songs. At pains to point out it wasn’t a tribute show, they just sang and they had a three piece band with them and some good jazz was played. This time I felt a bit young, looking around at the mean age of the audience. It was good to dress up, and I switched from black jeans, T-shirt, and North Face Jacket to… Black suit, Black Tie, Black 3/4 length coat. I lightened up during the interval for the show and removed my tie. The show has been touring on and off for a while, was at the Edinburgh festival, and round a few smaller venues in Scotland.

We headed back home to check that the kids and the cat were still alive, and they were! And there was even some pizza still left. We all went out for an Italian meal at our traditional venue, chilled out, and enjoyed our company.

Sunday was off to the bike show at Ingliston again, which is still much the same as it has been since MCN took over many years ago. I was a bit disappointed that Honda wasn’t present, and the big manufacturer stands were a bit tame compared to yesteryear. As befits a current BMW owner, I poured over the BMW stand and there was a really nice R1200S in black. As I’ve mentioned in previous years, the format of the show is beginning to go stale for me and I could spend the ticket and food money on a nicer day out, or add a few quid more and do a run with my local rospa diploma advanced riding trainer. That would be a better spend. I even noticed that Joe from LMTS had passed up having a stand this year, though I spotted him at the show. I popped over to take a look at the IAM stand, but didn’t know anyone there.