Bike comes back from service

Popped over to South Queensferry to pick up my bike from George. No problems encountered, so now I have the R1100RS serviced for the year and also fitted with new suspension and heated grips.

The new suspension is superb, and as the weather improves I expect to be able to try it out more. It already feels less harsh but also less bumpy. I saved up for them for a while and ordered a set of uprated units through Tim Rose of T.R. Engineering from a company in France called EMC Suspensions. The units come with blue springs as standard, but for a small charge can have practically any colour you want. Blue is fine for my bike, so I got the springs and dampers set to cope with my weight (xxl).

And heated grips are usually part and parcel of BMW bikes, but for some reason my bike just had the switch. After a few months of trying the switch at different settings and thinking how dumb I was not to notice the difference, I had the fairing off and there was the connector for the wiring cable-tied to the loom but not connected to the further wire to the grips. And right enough, the bar-end weights didn’t have the cutouts for the wires of the heated grips. Saving up again I forked out for the BMW retrofit kit from Motorworks and George fitted these for me too. Thankfully the bars themselves were the correct type with a hole through the centre of the casting to accept the wires, and I now have new grips and bar end weights etc. And they are excellent, I now have a proper BMW with touring kit and nice warm hands behind the GS handguards.

And I took the long way home from South Queensferry, via Linlithgow, twice…

Bike goes in for a service, etc etc

I’m just back from South Queensferry, having dropped the R1100RS off at George who does servicing on my bike in his spare time. I get the RS serviced annually, with bits and bobs in between. This time it is getting a couple of treats – new suspension and heated grips! The new suspension should help it handle better and also cope with my huge weight better, and the heated grips make a big difference to comfort when riding in this country which makes you feel cold on a bike even in the summer.

The journey back was rather good, although I had to wait quite a bit on a train coming, I checked the internet timetable through my SPV M600 and discovered there was a 4 minute connection to Livingston. Travel time from Dalmeny (walking distance from George’s) was 34 minutes, including the stop over at Haymarket. The train to Livingston was direct from Haymarket – quite unusual on the Glasgow Central Line.

Chased up my IAM Test this morning

You’ll know from reading previous blog entries that I’ve been working away at achieving Car Membership of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. After a successful mock test last year my test application went in and I had a letter from the IAM on 23rd November saying my details had been passed on to an Examiner.

My Observer warned me that there was quite a backlog of applications, so my test was unlikely to come through to the new year, but as is my wont I started chasing it last week. I spoke to a nice lady at IAM House in chiswick this morning and they are going to get in touch with the examiner on my behalf.

Hopefully all my hard work will pay off and I’ll get another recommendation for membership after a successful test. I’ll post up when I get a date through.

Latest IAM Observed Drive

I’ve lost track of how many Observed Drives I’ve had with Colin from Edinburgh IAM, I think it is up to double figures now. I’m still waiting to hear the results of my chase-up email to IAM House in Chiswick.

Yesterday was a fun drive, we went out into the country for some twisties, and actually encountered a National Speed Limit which was a pleasant change from the motorways and blanket 50mph limits around my area.

Points to work on – don’t cross 12 O’clock with my hand to get a big chunk when steering – I should really slow down instead, remember to choose a couple of simpler hazards to illustrate my knowledge of the system (as in car control – from Roadcraft) in my commentary. Remember to cover the top of the gearstick when changing back to first after a moving brake test, and mention the warning lights during startup drill.

There was another point or two, but I can’t remember off the top of my head – things are going pretty well, and my practice is bearing fruit.

Latest on the IAM Car

I posted after every observed run on the bike, whereas I haven’t said very much about the car! I suppose it doesn’t get me in the same way as going out on the bike.

Anyhoo, I’m still waiting to hear from the examiner despite hearing at the end of November that they’d been notified by the IAM. I had a demonstration drive from the Senior Observer who did my mock test, to explain one or two of the points he was making. And I’m out with Colin my Car Observer tomorrow morning for another drive.

Itching to take the car test, itching!

Second go at getting service kit – Rant

With the non-arrival of the service kit I ordered for my motorbike (posted out on the 11th December), I phoned Sherlocks and they are going to put a claim in for the missing parcel. Because non-delivery has happened before, they refuse to send to my address now, so I’ve arranged for it to be delivered to work. Thank goodness I work in an office where I can do this, otherwise I’d be scuppered.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve had a number of items get returned to sender – either quickly or slowly, with no explanation as to the reason. One item from Sherlocks was returned to them saying it hadn’t been collected from the sorting office, so things are wearing a bit thin when I phone them. With this situation I’m caught between two suppliers. The Royal Mail ask if I’ve had a card put through when I phone up to ask if they have an item for me, and Sherlocks ask if I’ve called the sorting office. Lately, I had a card put through and the item appears to have vanished from the sorting office. The last time, no card appeared and I had Sherlocks wondering why Alistair the nutter calls them every day, when he would be better served going to the sorting office who is holding his item.

After a week of phoning the sorting office every other day asking about the item I have a card for I’ve given up. In a last ditched attempt I fought my way through the Royal Mail website to submit a complaint. It, like one or two other websites, are exercises in FAQ obfuscation. The TomTom website and Royal Mail websites make you twist and turn through lists of FAQs for the ignorant masses, before a very small link allows you to fill out a webform. The webform (supported by Vogon Workflow) asks you how tightly you had tied your shoelaces on the day you hoped to receive your item, and reminds you that the Royal Mail aren’t the only delivery firm.

What cracks me up is that I live in a terraced house, 5 minutes from the sorting office, and there are usually two people in the house. Leave a card or knock harder – I’d love to support the Royal Mail but this gets my goat.