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I *get* it!

It’s taken me many, many years of wrongheadedness but I finally understand.

All my life I’ve gone for bikes that look pretty; naked, air-cooled, poser chic.

Today was my first proper ride out on the Widow-Maker. Plastic fairings hiding an ugly, water-cooled (admittedly awesome) V twin engine.


Took her for a spin up to the Lake District, learning about the pains of sports bike riding on the way. My wrists! You seem to be supporting your whole, chunky-monkey, body weight on your wrists. I took the pressure off by supporting more of my weight with my back. Which then hurt my back like a bastard.

Also, some fool has fitted this beast with hideously loud exhausts. My ears were ringing afterwards, even though I was wearing ear protectors the whole time. As soon as I got it home on Saturday I ordered some road legal end cans. Poor neighbours!

So there’s the pain and the noise. Then I pulled off the motorway onto the twisty A roads of Cumbria.

Oh. My. God!

I’ve wrestled bikes around bends before now. Often. And some had some poke.

Forget it. No comparison.

She flicks from left to right through the bends effortlessly. Think about acceleration and you’re already there. Get nervous and the brakes have you. They could stop my truck, I think.

The only thing is it’s ridiculously overpowered! I was doing 70mph (on the motorway!), thought it was a bit rev-y, (though only halfway to redline) so I tried changing up. I had two more gears! Also, even with my tenuous cornering, I could feel the front end getting light.


Some good news about the end cans I was forced to buy to quieten the beast down. With my failing reading vision, squinting at my ‘phone, I thought it said stainless steel end cans, £244 for a pair, titanium, £249. For the sake of a fiver I ordered the snazzier ones. I looked again, on the PC, and it was £294.Bugger. Still a steal for what it is, but it’s purely to make it useable, I’m not *that* arsed how it looks. I emailed the seller (of both sets) on ebay and asked would it be possible to change my mind and get the cheaper ones. He consented and refunded me £81. Huh? Yep, seems he had a special deal on! Brilliant.

There are a few niggles with the bike, very minor. One embarrassing one was it kept cutting out on tickover. The revs would drop below 1,000 and it would die. I was worried I’d bought a dud, but I googled it and the tickover is supposed to be 1,250 rpm. Found the knob, sorted it.

That was after today’s ride. During the ride at every set of lights (or whatever) I was having to rev a stupidly loud bike like an idiot boy racer. I felt a right twat. Road legal end cans with the sorted tickover should cure that.

There are a few other things. The right hand mirror has been smacked at some point and won’t stay set. Ordered a new pair.

There are a few allen bolts missing out of the fairing. It’s a 20 year old bike. You can buy them on ebay.

Even with the teething niggles it’s an awesome bike.

I finally get it. The cafe racers of the ‘50s and ‘60s have become an aesthetic, but it is for this they were aiming. It’s like the Americans calling indicators ‘blinkers’.  Blinking describes it, but indicating is what it does. A cafe racer was just a poor man’s attempt at a modern sports bike using the agricultural hardware of his day. I’ve missed the point all this time. I was hooked on the looks of the previous generation’s sport bikes without really seeing them for what they were. I wanted a blinker not an indicator.

Further insights if I should survive the learning curve.




I know, right? Immediate interest.

I have had a moment of epiphany. All my life I’ve judged bikes by their aesthetics. How they look and sound. Over the last month or so I’ve completely changed my criteria. What about a bike that does bike things? Goes like stink, brakes, leans right over in corners?

I was looking at the Suzuki SV650. It’s not pretty.


It’s a 650cc V twin, so it has lots of torque and grunt. It’s water cooled and fuel injected so no messing about. And the best thing about the ugliness is, it’s occurred to me that while you are doing the death-or-glory business, you’ll never know what it looks like!

Also, being a V twin, just by changing over the exhaust you get a glorious sound.

I was all set on getting rid of my bikes and buying one of these. They are quite old now, and were budget to start with, so you can get a good one for £1,800.

Then I stumbled across a review saying the standard dismissal of them as scaled down TL1000S’ wasn’t entirely true.

Really? What’s a Tl1000S?



OK, it’s got a bikini (half) fairing. And it remains ugly. But with added plastic ugliness.

But what does it do?

Here is someone opening one up. Don’t worry it wont take up many seconds of your life.

That’s actually the TL1000R, the sanitised and sanity-ised version of the TL1000S.

But you get the picture.

I was reading up on the original, TL1000S, beast, Suzuki’s snub of the Ducati V Twin sports bikes, on Motorcycle News:

“The Suzuki TL1000S is a motorcycle which has become the Freddie Kreuger of biking.”

“will always retain the ability to scare the pants off you occasionally.”

“The rear end starts moving, plus the front end of the TL1000S is liable to flap about as the sheer grunt lifts the front wheel. Result; one scared rider, and possible excursions into the scenery.”

“barnstorming motor, even today, with 125bhp ready to kick your arse within two seconds of opening the throttle fully.”


Obviously this all sounds like a hoot. But I discounted it as they said the insurance was group 16 out of 17. Just so I could say “You’ll never believe what they wanted for insurance!” I did a mock quote.

£155 p/a, fully comp, parked on the road.


The bikes are only £200 dearer than the SV650, the insurance is £20 more, and they are ridiculously scary fun. It’s a no-brainer.

Apparently when they first came out they immediately gained a reputation for tankslapper crashes and one person died.Supposedly they sorted that out with steering dampers and better mapping of the fuel injection But they are still referred to as Widow Makers. In fact, you can google “V twin widow maker” if you forget the bike’s name. The bright side being, they are cheap as chips to buy! And possibly not as lethal as reputed. Possibly. More on that story later. Maybe.

So now I just have to sort my pretty bike and my winter hack out. The W650 was running fine when I put it away for the Winter, come to polish, MOT and sell it and the bugger is only running on one cylinder. Well, 1½, maybe. Bastard. Changed the plugs, pulled the carb jets and cleaned them, checked the floats, changed the petrol… buggered if I know.

Which is another factor in my complete about face. I want a bike to just get on and thrash. I’m through with dicking about with them. It was a bad habit I was forced into when I was too poor to have an option. Screw that.

Anywho, that’s my latest obsession.


In other news the saxing is really coming on now I’ve got a decent one to practise on. And I have a blow most days at work.

Also my fitness is slowly getting back up to scratch. I did a fair fast (by current standards) 10 mile run, then backed off a bit for fear of injury, yesterday did a half marathon (13.1 miles) at a slow pace. It wasn’t easy, but I’m not broke today, and that’s about all that counts.

Right, best get to bed. I’m getting 5 days/ 6 days every week, but the start times mean I’m getting up at 04.00- 06.00, by the time I get in and sit down I just want to sleep. I was so tired yesterday I was actually considering giving up running altogether. I sucked it up and did a half instead, but it was a genuine choice. Rest (from running) today, small one tomorrow. If I could focus my chi enough to do small runs most days I’d soon be fighting fit. Ho hum.



Mixed Messages.

Work is being weird. I got my contract, a few days later Tesco’s bought us out, so we were scared of being replaced by Eddie Stobarts drivers. Then last week, less than 3 months into my 3 days a week, 6 month temp-to-perm contract, they asked would I be interested in a full time contract.

Hell yes!

Even if it all goes tits up when the merger finally shakes out, at least I’ll have a year (say) of full time and a better contract when the axe falls. 

To clarify, I’ve not been offered a full time job, just asked would I be interested as there as some coming up. Even if I’m at the front of the queue for one of the jobs I might not want it,it could be nights or something. I want a full time contract but not that badly. I can get 5/6 day weeks on days as it is.


We (I say ‘we’, I mean me) had a spending spree which we are now paying off. I painted the bedrooms and made a right mess of the carpets. They were the cheapest we could find when we moved in which was 11 years ago so I wasn’t that arsed. Until I priced the replacement. £180 for underlay, £750 for carpet, then a Dyson as our generic hoover was crap, £220 for the car MOT and repairs, a few other outlays, suddenly shitloads of debt. All of that seemed to happen at once, but I wasn’t bothered as I’d landed my super job, then Tesco’s, now it’s a flat out race to pay it all off, just in case.

One bit of debt I’ve added was totally the right thing to do.  I was obsessing about the soprano sax as it’s small and portable, then I got the smaller alto case and it made the alto a better proposition. But that cheapo, own brand sax I had was inconsistent. It kept squawking on the A note. I could play A, move up and down a few notes, come back to A and it wouldn’t play. I tried a stiffer reed, a different ligature, (the device that holds the reed to the mouthpiece)  loads of different embouchure positions, still patchy.  Bad workman and all that, but it wasn’t happening on the tenor. I read some more about Gear4Music and the reviews were not kind. “box shifters, not a music store” in other words they just ordered it in from China and shipped it out to the customer. No checks, set up, etc. Pig in a poke.

I started looking around and found a 10 month plan on a new Yamaha alto. It’s a learner model but the reviews say it’s so good they are wondering why people would spend twice as much for the intermediate. The thing was, I was getting frustrated with my cheapo and not playing it. If I got the Yamaha I knew the problem was all me being crap. Wendy encouraged me, so I got it.

I was selling the cheapo on ebay but I wanted to hang on to it to try a side by side comparison, to see it it really was worth the extra.

The Yamaha arrived and blew perfect straight out of the box. The sound is, well, incomparable. I didn’t even bother to blow my cheapo, it wasn’t even a question. The sound is so good I’m thinking of getting a Yamaha tenor, when everything else is paid off, to compare it to my beloved Bauhaus (then sell the inferior one.)

Which is not to say I’ve suddenly stopped being crap. It’s just I’m crap on a way better instrument now.


The weather is warming up so I’m going to strip the paint off my replacement W650 engine (dropping the back-breakingly heavy bastard out of the frame. Again.) and repaint it. Clean everything up, polish it to with in an inch of it’s life then get it sold. That will put us firmly back in credit again.

Talking of motorcycles, you know I pointed out the Triumph Speed Triple as an example of a godawful ugly, watercooled, lump of an engine? Guess what? I’m thinking of getting one. They are the original class of “hooligan bike”, naked, powerful, purposeful. They go like stink, mostly on one wheel, handle and stop. If you change your criteria from how it looks to how much fun it is, it’s a shoe-in. And, as they’ve been out for ages, you can pick and choose a good one for a quarter of the price of the Triumph Thruxton.

Anyway just a quick catch up as it’s my day off. Getting another 6 day week in.



PS, editing the day after, just remembered Storm Bastard Doris. It hit the North West today. I was riding in to work, lashing down rain, blowing a gale, 80, banked over into the wind, when I hit a puddle/ lake the whole width of the lane. I’d been riding through the rain all the way in so I didn’t worry, then the front end started juddering and skipping! On a bike you can handle any amount of rear end locking up and sliding out, not a problem, if the front goes the first thing you know about it being in shitloads of pain. It probably only lasted a second or two but that is an eternity when you are in the fast lane, 6 foot from the crash barriers. Crash barriers are posts to hold up a car level metal barrier. Or, for a sliding biker, lethal posts planted every few feet.

Needles to say, I shit bricks. Sod all I could do about it, just cling on and wait. Somehow I stayed upright. So that was me wide awake by the time I got to work. As they say, what doesn’t kill you just delays the inevitable.