Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Day On The Isle Of Wight

Kiera was away for a girly weekend in Glasgow, the kids were at their Grandparents which left me with time on my hands. As I also had the weekend off what better way to spend my time than out on my bike.

I had intended to spend a day exploring the New Forest and travelling down lanes that I haven't been on before, but at the last moment I thought why not head over to the Isle of Wight.

It's been years since I was last there and that was on business so I have never had time to explore the island.

So booked my ticket and was due to sail at 0740hrs. I set off in plenty of time, I had to go to the ticket office and collect my ticket so allowed ample time with the plan of having a brew when I got down there.

But as soon as I stepped out of the ticket office I was told I could catch the earlier ferry if I was quick!

With no time to spare I hopped on "Lucille" and we were off!

Once on board, I went upstairs to the top deck and we left the port of Lymington heading over to Yarmouth.

The crossing is short, so no real time to do anything, I just stayed up on top and watched the Island get closer.

Once we had docked, it was off the ferry and my rough plan was to circumnavigate the island in an anti clockwise direction.

I headed towards the Needles, as it was still very early in the morning it was dead, but similar to Lands End a complete tourist attraction and money maker, exploiting the tourists. I turned around sharpish vowing never to go there again!

From here I headed back onto the A3055 and Freshwater bay. I thought that somewhere along the line I would come across somewhere to have breakfast.

Out of Freshwater and up the hill are some magnificent views.

Heading towards Ventnor the roads were great. Going into Ventnor the roads were steep and narrow. One of the things that I no longer have on "Lucille" is my comedy backfire. Since fitting a new Iridium spark plug it has cured it! So the down hill stretches were quiet!

The only place open as I came into the town was a Honda Motorcycle dealer, so I stopped as it was right on the pavement and asked for the nearest petrol station, I had plenty but so far garages were thin on the ground and at this time in the morning also shut!

The next one was a few miles away at a place called Lake.

Onwards back out of Ventnor, another steep hill and down into 1st to get me up it.

Stopping for fuel at Morrisons I did think that I could nip in their cafe and have a breakfast, but I was rather hoping for a cafe with a bit of a view! So on I went.

Shanklin and Sandown were soon passed and out towards Bembridge, surely a cafe with a bit of a view would appear soon?

Finally I pull into Bembridge which had some rather splendid house boats moored up, and yes a cafe! Well that is what it said on the sign.

I found myself at The Best Dressed Crab In Town Cafe. However, if you wanted crab or sea food then I am sure that this is the place to go, but when all you want is a fry up then it was rather a bit of a let down! 

You would of thought that it would of at least done a breakfast! So just a coffee and a look over the harbour.

From here it was onto St Helens and Seaview where you had a good view across the Solent towards Southampton.

Still no breakfast! The few cafes that I saw were either shut or had no view and I really wanted a view!

Through Ryde where I did spot a couple of pubs doing breakfasts, but decided not to stop, which in the end proved to of been a daft idea!

Into East Cowes and thought I had to double back on myself, I did not realise there was a chain link ferry you could use to get across to Cowes.

My second ferry of the day, I only had enough time to get my gloves off to pay the man the £1.30 before the ramp was down and it was like the charge of the Light Brigade as cars, bicycles and pedestrians all went for the ramp at the same time! Chaos! I stayed back as I had no one behind me and was last off.

Heading back towards Yarmouth and a full trip of the island and it was only just after 1100hrs!

Back in Yarmouth I came to the conclusion after looking around that a cafe with a view was just not going to happen, so settled for a bacon sandwich and a coffee.

Here I contemplated my next steps. Either try and get the next ferry back or have a bit of a bimble. I decided on bimbling.

Back towards Freshwater, but spotted a brown tourist sign to Colwell Bay. Rode down and it was a small bay with a launch slip and a couple of cafes.

A great cafe serving good coffee with a fine view directly towards Hurst Spit. A place where I have sat and looked across at the island a few times.

I spent a good while here after all I was in no rush. Finally heading off towards Freshwater.

Here I spent a few minutes watching kayakers then headed out up the hill. It was getting warm and in all my motorcycle gear so was I. So stopped where I had earlier and had a 30 minute snooze led on a grassy bank looking towards France.

Back down the hill, and a quick splash of petrol and with a full tank headed back into Yarmouth. As I came into the town earlier I had spotted a place to park up and so I headed here with the intentions of brewing up.

I had packed my camping stove and kettle along with brew kit. So with a good view and a dark chocolate kitkat had a relaxing 30 minutes.

I watched a ferry come in and by this time it was just after 1600hrs, so packed up and thought I would chance getting an earlier ferry back.

They let me on no problems and I was home not long after.

A great day out covering just shy of 100 miles from start to finish. "Lucille" as always ran sweetly.

Finally once home and showered I headed off in our VW T25 to cook myself a wickedly hot chilli con carne. Just down the road is Keyhaven Marshes a great place to park up.

This is where I cooked and listened to the birds out on the Marshes.

Needless to say I slept soundly on my return home.

The journey continues......

A Quick Trip To Calshot

Last Sunday late in the afternoon I found myself with a couple of hours spare and so I took the opportunity to get out on my trusty Honda C90 aka Lucille.

Heading across the New Forest I was aiming for Calshot.

It didn't take very long to get there and the traffic was light. I have been to Calshot before but never to the end of the spit.

This time I rode to the very end and it was well worth the trip. Watching the boats come in and out of Southampton docks as they make their way around the world. It really is a busy port.

A small castle built in 1539 sits at the end of the spit, protecting the entrance and there is a large hanger which used to be home to the flying boats, now an activity centre.

I could of spent hours watching the boats, but the sun was setting and it was time to give my new lights a good work out.

The trip home was easy, but I regretted not wearing my bike trousers as I was just in Jeans and was a tad cold by the time I got home.

A round trip of 40 or so miles and as always "Lucille" performed brilliantly.

The journey continues........

Sunday, August 31, 2014

LED Lights And Sheepskin Seat Cover Fitted To Honda C90 AKA "Lucille"

The lights arrived but it took a bit of time for me to get around to fitting them.

But today (Sunday) has been spent catching up with odd jobs that needed doing.

A lovely sunny day here in the New Forest on the South Coast of England, so out with the tool kit and let's get crimping!

The lights are designed to clamp on to a round bar, but with nothing like that on my Honda C90 the next best option was to attach them to my wire shopping basket on the front.

I had thought about moving my original LED lights up and mount them on to my screen, but in the end decided I would leave them where they are.

The best way I could think of to mount my new lights was quite simple. Good old fashioned cable ties. A quick, neat and easy solution.

So with this done, it was time to tap into the existing loom. I re-crimped the cables all together to make it a bit neater and hey presto - it all worked fine and dandy. 

Just got to try it out in the dark now!

Whilst I had the tools out I undid the junction box which houses my switch for the lights. I have had the problem with the lights flickering so there was a loose connection somewhere.

Easily sorted as it was the female crimp not being tight enough on the switch.

Finally I had the idea of fitting a sheepskin to the seat to make it a bit more comfortable.

When we were in IKEA I spotted one for £30.00 and after having a good root through them all came across with the thickest, softest and most luxurious sheepskin ever.

What's more I do not need to have it cut to shape at all as it fits perfectly!

"Lucille" is now ready for some serious cold weather and dark night riding! I do have handle bar muffs but have never used them as I found that getting a gloved hand in and out was a bit difficult.

She now also has shelter, we finally made space for her in the garage, you can almost see her smiling!

Tonight it will be a test run in the dark to see how well the lights work - fingers crossed!

The journey continues.........

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bike Stand Pad - Brilliant!

I ordered a bike stand pad for "Lucille" and within 48hrs it arrived on my doorstep.

Not only this but the total cost of this item was £2.39 and that included postage.

Just in case any one is in any doubt as to what these are, basically it is a small piece of toughened plastic which sits underneath the foot of your stand to spread the load of the bike whilst on wet ground, ie grass, gravel or anywhere you feel that your bike is unstable.

I could of really done with this whilst camping on my trip!

It is currently being put to use as "Lucille" is currently residing in the back garden and when not on the patio is on loose gravel!

This works a treat and for the money you cannot go wrong!

Lights haven't arrived yet, so I have left the old one's where they are for the time being.

I've been out on a few little runs, but nothing serious. She still appears to be running sweetly.

Really should give her a clean, maybe over the next couple of days.

The journey continues.........

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Honda C90 Oil Change

I thought it about time that I did an oil change on poor old "Lucille".

The last one was done the night before my departure for my little jaunt around the UK!

So with fresh oil at the ready, which happens to be Tesco's Mineral Motor Oil 10w/40 cheap as you can possibly get, I set about sorting out something to catch the oil in.

Now, what worked perfectly was an empty plastic milk bottle led on it's side with a small slit cut into the side and my trusty funnel stuck in it.

Slid underneath the sump plug and hey presto, a unique and disposable oil catcher!

I left it to drain for a good hour in the sun, so most of it came out. The milk bottle can either have a piece of "Black Nasty" Gaffer Tape wrapped round it to seal the small hole. Or like I do, decant the oil into an old 5ltr jerry can for disposal down at the recycling plant.

I have just got back from taking "Lucille" out for a quick ride through the New Forest. With a new tyre on the rear and with 6mm of tread on the tyre, she did feel a bit twitchy to start with, but I've been out for over an hour and a half and it feels better all ready.

After tweeking the brakes they feel good, well, good for C90 standards!

The other thing I did today was refit a rigid "L" plate to the rear number plate along with a strengthening piece of metal acting as a clamp to secure both the "L" plate and my rubber mud flap to the number plate.

I also have on order a "30W CREE U2 LED Spot Fog Lamp Light Motorcycle Car Truck Waterproof" from Amazon. I have ordered two as these are to replace my running lights which I will be mounting on my screen as they do not give off as much light as I require.

The 30W Cree LED lights should be loads more powerful and hopefully make my night time drives a little less stressful.

I have also ordered today a foot plate, with so many good reviews, and for the price it is the one piece of kit I should of had right from the start!

So there you go, "Lucille" is running sweetly and is being pampered.

I was going to go away for a few days, but with moving house recently I cannot justify the time off when there are so many things to be done, such as painting!

Boring I know, but it has to be done. Hopefully I can get away for a weekend later on in the year once things have calmed down with the house.

The journey continues...........

Thursday, July 17, 2014

C90 Rear Tyre Puncture

On the way home from work last night, which so happened to of been a particularly rubbish day I suffered a puncture on the rear tyre of my Honda C90.

Coming down a hill at 30mph, I did have a bit of a wobble!

This is the second puncture I've had since owning the bike. The first time I was a good distance from home and needed to be recovered as I did not have the necessary tools or spare inner tube to do anything about it.

Last night was not much different, but after two miles of pushing "Lucille" which thankfully was on mainly flat ground I got her back home.

It's not easy pushing a bike with a flat tyre, but I'm very glad I was on a C90 and not on a BMW GS!!!

So today I thought it would do me good to have a go at removing the wheel, and swapping over the inner tube.

Easy you say, well it would be if you knew what you were doing! Armed with a Haynes manual and some YouTube videos I set about the task.

I first propped the bike up on it's centre stand and on a house brick to give it a bit of levitation. This would make it easier to get the rear wheel out from under the arch.

Firstly I removed the brake adjusting nut from the brake rod, once it had dropped free I replaced the nut on the rod as I could loose an elephant in a 2 man tent!

Then I undid the nut holding the rear brake torque arm and once more replacing the nut on the bolt and through the dangling arm.

Next round to the other side of the bike, removing the split pin, and undid the centre spindle nut.

With this off, it was just a case of a gentle tap to remove the spindle.

Once this was clear, knocking the spacer out of the way, the wheel dropped off the cush drive and rolled passed the number plate and straight out. Easy!

Locating the cause of the puncture was not a problem. A large self tapping screw had worked it's way straight in the middle of the tyre!

I had a set of tyre levers, so set to work on prying the tyre off. Not an easy task, but I got there in the end. 

I had a good look at the tyre whilst it was off and all though I could of re-used it, I decided against it. They cost peanuts and with a trip to Wales coming up decided that a new inner tube and tyre would be the best way forward. I had a spare tyre and tube to hand so no problems.

Getting the tyre back on was far easier than getting it off! Just remember not to pinch the inner tube when easing the tyre back on.

I used my 12v air pump to fill the tyre running straight off my 12v supply which is fitted to my bike. Totally self sufficient!

Then it was a case of slotting the wheel back in, making sure all the cush drive rubbers are in place, then easing the spacer back in.

The spindle with a gentle wiggle and tap found it's way back through and then loosely doing up the nut.

Re-attaching the torque arm and the brake rod. Whilst doing all of this the chain was re-tightened and the back brake sorted so the peddle once more is firm.

Finish off the main nut and replace the split pin, then have a quick look to see if I have left anything lying around!

Job done, rather pleased with myself as this was the first time I had done this. I now feel totally confident that if I were to have a flat whilst on my travels I could sort myself out and be on my way again without requiring any help.

The front brake got a tweak whilst I had the spanners out, my next task is to sort the lights as mentioned in a previous post.

The journey continues.....................

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Planning Next Trip On Lucille - Honda C90

In a few days time I've got two weeks off. With Kiera on a pre-booked holiday with the kids for the last week of it, leaving me a week free - once I have done some decorating and flat pack furniture construction!

My original plan was to see how far distance wise I could get in a 24hr period, then slowly make my way back home using the remainder of my holiday to do so.

But, why kill myself, as that would take more than a day to recover from, and as I feel like a bit of a break I have come to my senses and decided against it.

Instead my rough plan is to head for Wales. Aiming for the Brecons to start with, then head down towards Tenby and work my way up along the coast.

Stopping when and if I feel like it, which will be a real luxury after my epic trip around the UK which was flat out all day long only stopping for fuel!

This time it will be relaxed. I want to capture as much as I can on camera, something else I sadly did not do enough of on my last trip. There was always pressure to get a few more miles under my belt.

I won't bother booking anywhere, instead relying on pot luck and chance. This may well be fool hardy as the summer holidays will of just started and this could be my undoing, but there are plenty of places to pitch a one man tent if you look hard enough!

"Lucille" since returning from Cornwall has taken me into work everyday. A round trip of 18 miles approx if I use the more direct route. However I have been known to take a little detour!

This is a view of the Needles, off the Isle of Wight, no more than a 10 minute detour from my route to work - perfect!

If I was to go 10 minutes off my route to the North it would take me through the New Forest! What a place to live and work in!

Also what a saving in fuel! £40 a week in the Mitsubishi Pajero 2.8ltr long wheel base or £10 for 2 weeks of fun!

"Lucille" has performed with no problems at all, not using any oil which I check every couple of days. The last time it needed topping up was in Liverpool! Since then she has gone down to Lands End, back up to Lymington and used daily, approx 800 miles!

My seat has split about an inch long but a good piece of wide electrical tape has sorted that, but one area I do need to sort is my lights.

The fitted light would be better if it was a couple of tea lights, main beam illuminates the tree tops. Brilliant for owl spotting! Dipped illuminates 10 yards in front and nothing on the ground. OK I do have a basket on the front, but with it empty the tarmac in front remains a bit of a mystery!

I fitted a set of running lights hoping they would help a bit with illumination. They do to a point but riding home last night they kept flickering on and off, a loose connection somewhere. The soldering iron will be out and all connections soldered instead of crimped.

I think it's time to buy a proper set of lights to mount on the front and move the running lights up and mount them just below the screen. No one can say they didn't see me coming then!

 Apart from that everything is working perfectly and I am really enjoying the C90 experience.

I've been asked a couple of times now am I getting a bigger bike and taking my test. Well, Yes to taking my test, but in all honesty I am really not sure about a bike!

I love the simplicity of the C90, the fact that it is cheap to run and insure is a massive bonus and for the novelty factor it cannot be beat.

So who knows, things change at an alarming rate for me so am happy to go with the flow.

The journey continues............. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lucille Heads Home

Last weekend saw myself and Kiera head down to Cornwall to retrieve "Lucille"

The rough plan was to travel down Sunday once we had dropped the kids off in the morning, stay over night at Sharon and Tom's house in Cornwall and head back the next day.

I was sort of hoping that with taking the top box off, removing the perspex screen and front basket that we would be able to load her up into Kiera's 4x4.

But first we needed to have a view of Sharon and Tom's house which they are renovating and then a few beers and a bite to eat at the Sand Bar on Praa Sands.

After a good nights kip and a gallon of coffee to get me started it was time to take a look at "Lucille".

She has been sat in a garage not moving an inch since my round the UK trip.

The 4x4 was close by but it did not need a genius to work out that it would require some serious stripping of components to make her fit in the back.

Only one thing for it - ride her home! Thankfully it was a wonderfully sunny day with not a cloud in the sky and no hint of rain at all! 

Refuelled and oil checked and she was ready to fire up, only she didn't! So thought it about time to check the spark plug and possibly change it for one of the new Iridium ones I had bought.

On removal it did not look to clever so swapped them over, and still not a great deal, so decided to bump start her.

A gentle roll down a hill, knock her into 1st and there she goes, sweet as a nut!

A quick blast around the block and she was sounding as good as new!

Ready to go with just my small panniers full of tools, well you never know do you? 

Kiera hung around for a couple of hours and then played catch up with me all the way, finally meeting me just past Honiton.

The ride up was easy, and I'm not sure if I was imagining things but changing the spark plug over certainly made a difference. She flew up the hills and I topped out at just over 50mph.

I sat around 40-45mph for most of the journey. The whole trip took 7 hrs and the mileage was 203 miles door to door. Which on my reckoning was around 28mph average speed! Not bad for a fat bloke on a C90!

I actually beat Kiera home by around 5 minutes as well!

"Lucille" did as I expected her to do and that was to perform with no drama's, I could ask no more of her.

Since being home I have ridden her to work a couple of times and it has been a joy! Just what you need after a long day, a 15 minute ride on a C90 to de-stress you and put a smile on your face!

My only problem being that after 15 minutes I'm just settling myself in and need at least another hour in the saddle to make it feel right!

At present she is residing in the garden as the garage is to full after the house move to get her in, but that will be soon sorted, then she will have a garage all to herself! Happy Days!!!

The journey continues................

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Versatile Honda C90

Asia is where the Honda C90 and it's lookalikes have proven themselves again and again over the years.

They are never serviced, totally abused by their owners, over loaded and run on dodgy fuel.

Yet, they keep on going, which in itself is remarkable considering the above.

In 1991 a Dutch photographer Hans Kemp was working in Vietnam and was blown away by the amount of small engined motorbikes transporting the nation's population around.

But not only people, goods of every shape and size find their way on to these little work horses.

Hans Kemp's book "Bikes Of Burden" is a great book full of brilliant pictures he took whilst out in Asia. Click on the link above to buy the book direct from Amazon and for a taster, please click "HERE"

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

So What's Next?

After being back a few weeks now, and having time to reflect on my recent trip I have come to the conclusion that more of the same is required!

Before I set off I really had no idea if riding a bike long distances everyday would suit me, so I kept an open mind.

However, I think it only fair to say that I am hooked!

"Lucille" is still in Cornwall, which I really need to do something about, but recent events in my personal life have kept me rather busy!

So what is next?

I've a week spare in July, so my rough plan is to strap all my gear on as before and head for Wales, maybe stay in one place and tour around, or maybe not? But as a destination, definitely Wales.

I have also been toying with the idea of a 24 hour endurance ride, I would find it a challenge to see how far you can actually get on a Honda C90 in 24hrs. As I live on the South Coast, it would be so simple just to head North, and after 24 hrs see where I end up!

Stopping only for fuel and the loo, I reckon I could get a good way up country! I also thought that I could use it to raise a bit more money for charity, by getting people to guess how many miles I would do in the allotted time. Say donate £5.00 of which half goes to the charity and the other half to the person who guesses the closest mileage.

I may combine the two in July, and then slowly work my way back down South.

Either way a mini trip is on for the end of July!

I've also been looking at bikes on ebay and bit more than I should! I really am undecided about what to do regarding bikes.

There are so many unique factors about the Honda C90 when it comes to using it as an adventure bike.

To name just a few, reliability and the ease of repair and parts availability. But one which was brought home to me was how light the bike is.

When I came off in Glencoe, if I had been on a bigger bike I would of required hospital treatment. I'm convinced that my knee would of been shattered with the weight of the bike twisting it around!

These things are important when considering a bike. Do I need to go through the expense of passing my test and buying a bigger bike?

Or do I stick with the solidly built work horse that is the Honda C90?

I read a cracking article the other day at it really did highlight all the positive's of travelling on a small, low cc motorbike. 

Both Ed and Nathan who are featured in the article are well documented for travelling huge distances on Honda's.

Nathan Millward and his book "A Long Ride Home" is a very entertaining read, telling his story of how he set off from Australia on a Honda "Postie" bike and travelled back to the UK.
The Long Ride 'Home'

Ed March has just released his DVD on his travels from Malaysia back to the UK on his beloved Honda C90 a must watch. Due to the fact that Ed really is not right in the head!
malaysia to uk - dvd

Click on the links above to see how you can get your hands on a copy of Ed's DVD and Nathan's book.

The journey continues..............

Monday, May 19, 2014

Honda C90 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End - Final Trip Review

I've been back a good few weeks now, but the memories of my trip will stay with me for a long time.

When I got back to Lymington I really was not ready for how totally knackered I was! It really does take it out of you, especially pushing as hard as I did.

To do the trip justice it really should of taken twice as long. I would dearly love to spend more time in Scotland as that is where the real scenery is. One day!

Those who have ridden long distances on motorbikes for more than just a couple of days all say that you change slightly.

I think this is true. I was humbled by the help and support that I got during this trip. Complete strangers stopping and asking if I'm ok, Wendy at Hawick at the garage who sorted out Lucille and would not take any payment! So many times these things happened as I ventured around over a two week period. I know I will never go by a motorcyclist who looks like he is broken down without offering help again!

Not forgetting all the support I got before I even set off!

At work a map was pinned to the wall, and as I was giving location updates via Facebook several times a day, stickers were placed on the map to show my location!

But my biggest supporter and the one person who I kept in constant contact with was Kiera. Without fail, I would get little messages of encouragement everyday. I can happily say that we have been going from strength to strength since my return.

I think she looks the part on "Lucille"!

However, I must say the biggest thank you goes to "Lucille" For her age she did not miss a beat all the way around. Never once letting me down.

She used less than a litre of oil the whole trip and was consistently returning 60 to 80 mpg depending on the terrain.

The cheap Chinese tyre I put on a Hawick doesn't look as if it's been used!

I changed the chain at Hawick as well.

The basket that "Ghosty" and myself bolted on the front, never came loose. The panniers worked a treat. The leg shields I put on made out of Corolux Roofing Flashing kept my feet dry. 

Everything went like clockwork. It was only rider error and bad weather that made me come off.

If anyone is thinking of adventure motorbiking, but wanting to do it on a budget, then I can assure you that the Honda C90 is the bike for you.

It's cheap to run, insure and repair, the parts are so cheap it's ridiculous and they are virtually indestructible. She coped with 20 stone of fat bloke and all his kit as if she had nothing on!
Super easy to ride, and I can confirm very comfortable over a long distance.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, If you would all give a big hand to "Lucille" She is the true star of this little adventure, she did everything that was asked of her and more!

So what's next? The honest answer is I really don't know. I've got some time off in July and I do fancy a trip into Wales.

I also fancy a 24hr endurance ride just to see how many miles in 24hrs I can do!

I'm afraid that this has wetted my appetite for more adventure. But one thing is for sure, this was not a one off!

The journey continues...................