Monday, 8 June 2015

Bernard Smith and Sam Manicom BMW R90/100's 

Haggs Bank bunkhouse is a small campsite and accomodation establishment on the road through Teeside that includes *Hartside Cafe. Through the small town of Alston the roads in the area are a mecca for all cyclists, bikers and Coast to Coast hikers. 

*The 1900+ feet above sea level Hartside Top Cafe, Alston CA9 3BW has some great views across the west after you climb the excellent switchbacks and hairpins. (Travel from Penrith)
This weekend saw a gathering of adventure bikers with a plethora of bikes and people of all sizes and shapes. Some took advantage of the bunkhouse rooms that offer 4-8 person bunk beds along with full kitchen facilities lounge and wash rooms.
The braver bikers chose to camp, some taking the dirt track ramps to the top fields where the view is better but the wind over the weekend was very hard on tents and their inhabitants.
I took a small and very inexpensive tent as it is light and easy to pitch. That was my first mistake.
The £15 tent bought for my nephew some years ago is 3 inches to short and 2ft to low to be comfortable for longer that a night.
My pitch in the trees was a good choice as the pines did their best to break up the high blasts that eventually ripped the rented marquee to pieces on Saturday.
The event was a part of the regular motorcycle adventure and off road season that allows stories to be told, trips discussed and presentations made for those who had been.
Sam Manicom did his talk on his trip around the world, whilst others with no books to sell just chatted about routes, gear and local tracks.
Saturday saw some go off on many ride outs whilst Bernard Smith and myself wandered 22 miles over the hills to Takoda to see old friend Paul Holroyd. 
The wind was gusting up to 50 MPH and travelling over single track tarmac roads that twist and turn over open moor land. It was a battle of skill and luck, with a bit of heave and hoe. On the way back i got a large nail in my rear tyre which spoiled the return over Hartside as i crept at 30 MPH.
Back home on Sunday afternoon, the tyre got me home despite the plugs that I used to block two holes I found.

The picture above is of Sam and Bernard's BMW R 100's they used to go around the world. Humbling to see these two old timers that combine simple engineering with robust reputations together in one place.
Nice to see their bikes also.
next stop

Overland Event 18th June Great Missenden.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Good old Boris is at it again.

Boris the Lord Mayor of London has introduced another stealth tax for bikers in the capital
£12.50 a day for old bikes that have a higher emissions. Higher than WHAT ?

I am working in London Weds Thurs this week and yes I do live in Manchester so under normal small job policy, I would take a chance and drive my 257,000 mile 1998 Toyota van there and back at 55 mph, as any faster and its scary.
But no the LEZ (London Emissions Zone) charge old van owners £100 a day.
YES £100 to drive into Greater London, on top of all then other taxes like higher road tax cos its 2.0 ltrs, Insurance tax, highest fuel prices and tax in Europe.
On top of that IF I was going into central london, I would have to pay another Congestion charge.... so adding £225 to my work costs for two days.

When I get to my destination, I am working in a shop on a main road in Islington where there is two parking spots with a 1 hour maximum parking zone. For just £5.00 an hour.
So if I get there and one of then spots is actually free, I will have to find another spot, then another, then another for the average 12 hour day. adding £60 to my day. £120 added.

So how do all these charges decrease the air pollution and free the roads for the rich drivers and buses and taxi's. They don't. The capital is still solid traffic all day.

Why or how does anyone work in the capital. I am there to do a job that I can, I need and I am the only person in the UK that can do it. Yes I charge extra for all the above, but not one of these stealth taxes does any good to the voting public. They all just add our ££'s to London Government departments.
Charges added to this 2 day job
Van hire ( a modern van with LEZ compliant engine) £125
Parking                                                                           £120
Carbon offset. 70-80 MPH for 250 miles  More than my van
Stress priceless.
So it costs me extra, therefore the customer extra, they pay higher tax and the exchequer get richer.


When I hear today that the once free to ride central London roads on an old bike will be changed
 and a new TAX for high emission bikes of £12.50 a day has been approved.
In who's tax inventing brain was the concept that a 1 or 2 cylinder bike of any age blows out higher carbon dioxide than a V8 Rolls Royce, a 5 ltrs Rangerover, a million mile Black cab or the best one a bloody great big London bus.

Lets get this right.

If you are in a low paid job or trade and need transport, and live in the LEZ zone, you can't buy that old van. Add to that if you want to take advantage of the easy way to get across London and get an old bike, forget it.

This of course shouldn't bother me as I live up'th North. BUT what London does the rest of the country follows.
Manchester has a mini version of the M25 (M60). They are currently spending millions of squids converting it into a 'Smart' motorway. Why ??? because they can then legally fit stealth tax cameras and get all the money back in speeding fines, they actually make money whilst hiding under the banner of safer, less congested roads.
Worked for the M25.... NOT. Its one big car park.

Gentlemen and ladies of the ABR. IF and when those with the clout get to the point where a bike road block demonstration is held in London, go, take part, even better start a demo in every city in the country. We the biking community have a massive and powerful membership/number/brother hood and could show any government that like the FRENCH we care, we can show these office bound tax collectors that just inventing new ways to fleece the public is not on.

The power under you pants is not powerless to vote with your pals.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


I found this app of Moving map, but then lost the link. But its out there to make your own using Google or other maps. Its a bit rough for a first go....

Friday night at the Warrington MCC club I will be doing my bit to entertain by offering a talk on Road2Manchester.

121 slides, 10 video clips and a bit of a laugh maybe....

See facebook/warrington motrcycle club for details.

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Last year I got a few adventure bikers together and under the name Chunky Tread Motorcycle Adventure Club, we stood at the 3rd manchester bike show 
This year I have doubled the size of the stand , and now with 12 x 6 mtrs to fill, we are once again putting a team of bikes and their intrepid riders together.

The show is the ONLY  major Manchester show this year, but there will be lots of club events covering all genres and models.

This weekend was the CHILLI DAY at the Adventure Bike Warehouse in Agecroft. The gang and in particular Gary , built a couple of tanks of Chilli under Girly and Manly.

I got chance to try out the Gloves that SIIMA  sent me to test

Gloves, how many pairs does any self respecting biker need.
Answer:  One more than you already have.

Siima the Cyprus based manufacturer asked me to take a look at their new SUPREME rider gloves and report back on my thoughts. Nice and flattering to be asked. Thanks Guys.

Firstly, I am probably not alone in finding it hard to buy what should be simple riding essentials.
I say essential because here in the UK, even summer riding requires gloves for both safety and the cooler 'heat' of the average English summer. In winter we need warm and dry whilst keeping 'feel' of the controls. In summer months it can rain, it can get into the 80'f range. Yes even that hot !

When I rode from the north east of the USA in the rain, and got to Georgia in the south, the temperature went from 6F to 118F. (47c). But I kept my gloves on. Habit mainly, but its a fact that no matter how slow or fast you fall off, you will almost always go hands first on to the tarmac,

So the SIIMA gloves arrived and I was instantly impressed with the stitching. Not something I normally look at to closely, but being white against the black leather, the instant thought was 'nice work'.
They can be instantly classed as summer gloves (here), and the most important features are all there. Knuckle protection.... Checked and great
Carpel Tunnel area padding..... checked and there.
Palm grip...... check and good
Finger vents. A nice touch and add to the overall sporty design,

Then comes the big question, fit !

They are new so I expect the XL label to be more like a L size. I say this because many motorcycle gear manufacturers use different size charts. Being a UK 3XL in most clothing sizes, I find Italian gear has to be 5XL to fit me. In the USA I am 2XL (which is why I like American gear). 
My collection of summer and winter gear includes all of the above.
The SIIMA Supreme gloves are XL and to be honest they are tight across the opening. Once past the CUFF and the double velcro the fit is snug but actually very comfortable. The BIG WINNER for me is the finger ends.... no lumpy stitching and a perfect fit. No baggy bits to cause switch misses, even on the thumb. I know they will 'give' with wear. 
On the bike they do what they are supposed to. Its cold and wet today and this is not the weather they are designed for, but I have my winter gloves with me just in case.
The ride today is only 25 minutes each way, so i have time to try switches, flick the indicators and extra lights etc. All easy and precise with plenty of feel until the snow starts to numb my finger tips.
All in all a good grip, feel and look. 

What would I change.
The entry gap around the cuff has to be windproof , but it's  narrow so once I had ridden in the snow and rain to the Adventure Bike Warehouse, the damp leather made them hard to put on again. (This is only because it was minus degrees, wet and cold today). This could also happen when you are hot and sweaty after a good old blast down the lanes. Heated grips on full was the order of the day on the way home and as the gloves sit on the radiator drying, I can look forward to spring and warmer days.

The outer wrist pad and badge, could be enhanced with a reflective patch. it is white, but when riding most bikes, your hands are on the outer limits of the bike, and a good spot for some extra (CAN YOU SEE ME YET) reflection. We sometime ride in the dark in the UK, normally October to March .

I will persevere with the gloves when I ride again in the warm weather. Its too cold and damp to use the sporty Supreme gloves and if I had to put them into a catagory, I would say Sports Tourer, Summer and Weekend blaster.

Thanks to SIIMA for their samples, and having looked again at the web site my only regret is , it's a shame it wasn't their cool looking jacket I was testing. 

later guys and come along to the Manchester Bike Show and see the gloves on our stand,



Sunday, 1 February 2015

2015 and beyond

Can I start this blog entry with a THANKS FOR ARRIVING HERE 
It would seem that the majority of the visitors here are from the United States of America rather than Amanchester. 

My trip avross the USA to discover if the Manchesters that spread ever thinner as you travel west, have any bearing on the city of my birth.
Full details can be found between May and June 20, 2011 in the column to the right.

I still have over 30,000 words of a book about my journey, sat in various laptops, and promise to finish it one day. Meanwhile .......................

Next Month (March), the Chunky tread MAC (Facebook/ChunkyTreadMac} will show at the Manchester Bike Show.

As from last Thursday I am out of work again.

I have had no chance to ride my bike as the weather has been freezing cold, snowing and colder than a cold thing in a cold place.

I must also appologise for the many many messages on this blog, I found , today !!!! ny three years late, but thanks for your comments and questions, and in particular, those who offered beds, beer and BBQ's whilst I was over there.

One day..... maybe.

February already, and if the weather is better tomorrow, i might get the beemer out.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

2014, where did that go.

well the end of another year gets closer. 
Christmas Day 2014' and it seems like a few months since it was the start of 2014 and all those promises of new horizons, new get fit campaigns and the like.
We are all guilty of making new year resolutions that never get any further than the end of the first week in January, and. I an no exception.
My motorcycling days were limited though I did use my BMW to get to work and back for a few months. Long haul rides reduced to a couple of trips to London (300 round trips) one for business and the other to meet my day old great niece whilst on the way to the Isle of Mann TT races.
I needed to fly from Gatwick, and the Hamers were close by, so a stop over was on the cards.

A weekend at Haggs Bank Bunkhouse made up for not going too far. Higgs is a bikers stop off and location for a number of event during the year.
Another great day in the lakes started with rain, but got warmer and brighter as the day went on.
If you are travelling in the North Yorks moors or East lakes area, Haggs Bank offers cheap rooms and a great host and hostess with biking in the blood.
Danny can also offer some fresh wild game and even road kill for the brave.

Work has bee scarce this year so grand adventures on a back burner, but as I sit here early on Christams morning, I hope that you all have a great holiday, get the presents you wanted, and world peace etc prevails.

happy New year to you all, and with luck and good fortune, 2015 will be more than a life less ordinary.


NB. The Chunky Tread Motorcycle Adventure Club, will have a stand at the Manchester Bike Show at event city in March. Why not call in and say hello.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Summer .... that's all folks

The Biker Guide is a Facebook, Web and magazine for Bikers (The clue is in the name). Run by a friend Sharon Rollinson-Slaughter (facebook/TheBikerGuide) gives lots of information of places to ride, friendly B&B Hotels and campsites. The Mag can be found in some of the more popular Biker cafes, ad the sign above can be seen on the wall of places that will welcome you and your bike.
With an extensive 'Whats On' list, you will never have an excuse to stay home.

Earlier in the year  I launched the CTMAC. Having found out that 'Clubs' get a free stand at the Manchester Bike Show. Knowing a few 'travellers' who have tales to tell I launched the Facebook virtual club and in less than a year we have 180+ members and a few regular notifications from the likes of Sam Manicom, Biker FM, Tricky Wallaby etc. 
Having approached the big one at the NEC (Motorcycle Live), we will not be there this year.

I will once again approach the Manchester Show in Feb: (Trafford Centre not GMEX), and get some real adventure riders and their machines there.