Alpinestars – great kit for biking

Well I’ve been back biking now for around 3 months and for anyone familiar with my first blog you’ll know that I went out of my way to get good kit so as to keep my dad happy.

alp_gp-plus-lth-jkt-blk

For me that meant Alpinestars, great reputation and fantastic styling too. I started out initially, in late summer, with a two piece set of leathers (GP Plus jacket and Missile pants), SMX6 WP (waterproof) boots and SP8 lightweight gloves with knuckle armour. More recently with winter setting in I have invested in some waterproof textiles, choosing the Andes Drystar jacket and trousers with the fluorescent shoulders for improved visibility.missile_leather_pants_anthracite_black_1

So far I haven’t been disappointed, even if one too many Almond Magnum ice lollies has meant that my two piece leather trousers are now rather more snug than at first.

Although there’s definitely a knack to getting the trousers in both the leathers and the textiles zipped to the jacket, once it’s done they are both very comfortable and as a rider you feel warm and very well protected in the unpredictable British weather. My only complaint (and it’s not about the kit really) is that you tend to get icy wind blowing in and up between your helmet and the tops of the jackets on both outfits. I’m going to invest (or rather the kids are getting me one for Xmas) in a motorcycling specific snood/scarf to keep the drafts out on cold days. The GP Plus jacket didn’t come with any back armour so I invested in one of last year’s forcefield Airo vests to go under it – I looked at both Alpinestars and Forcefield inserts however opted for the vest as it provides extra warmth in colder weather and importantly I can wear it under both outfits – at Β£80 it was a total bargain too – who doesn’t love a bargain really? πŸ˜‰

I bought the leather outfit from J&S in Leeds and as I picked it all up at the same time managed to get 10% discount on everything, getting me up and running in the warmer weather for around Β£730 – I imagine I could have gotten all of them for a few pounds less if I’d shopped around online however being able to try them in the store gave me the confidence that I was getting the kit I wanted in the size that worked first time.

alpinestars_smx6_wp_boots_black_zoom

The Drystar textiles were picked up in late October at Motorcycle Live from the Infinity Motorcycles stand; the jacket and trousers were on special (isn’t everything at the show?) for Β£250 all in, which by my reckoning was a saving of around Β£120 or more on RRP – thankfully they had them in my size (I’m a big unit) – happy biker!

andes-drystar-fluoroescent-jacket

So, all in all I’m very chuffed with the quality and usability of the two sets of Alpinestars kit. The leathers are sleek, well fitted, feel the business, and go well with the carbon finish of my Shark Spartan. The Drystar outfit is super warm (although I’m told it works just as well in warm climates) and although I’ve not really rain tested it yet, it copes perfectly with the road spray and the bright colour really makes me stand out on the road, especially at night time.

Hardly an exhaustive review (about 1,000 miles in total) however I’ve been impressed by the quality and fit and have no concerns to speak of so far, beyond the slightly baggy fit of the armour in the textile trousers. When stood straight the armour drops below the knee, although admittedly it’s spot on when sitting on the bike. That aside everything is perfect!

coolbikesofharrogate

#leathers #alpinestars #review #motorcycles

Advertisements

2016 Street Triple R – 5 Week Review

It’s been 5 weeks now since the “Striple” was delivered in a van by the very polite gentleman from Cobb and Jagger in Shipley. Tom (that’s what the kids christened the bike, although coincidentally also the name of the polite guy from C&J from memory – no connection πŸ˜‚) has certainly seen some decent action in those first few weeks. Around 650 miles so far of the required running in period and as the bike passes through the various milestones, and the permitted rev range has increased, it has really grown in stature (and fun) exponentially.

In hindsight its rather like a Xmas present to myself, only one with several troublesome layers of wrapping which its taken me several weeks to remove. As I’m now over the 600 miles point the bike is allowed to rev to 7,000 rpm, still only roughly half of the 14k redline however it’s full potential is eventually beginning to be revealed. To be honest at no stage on this journey did the bike ever feel lacking for performance; even when restricted to 5,000 rpm it was quick away from the lights and felt genuinely punchy through the gears.

In hindsight, and my wife made this point very directly to me just now, it’s been a good thing. Unlike the Ducati which came with 5,000 miles on the clock and therefore was completely ready to roll hard from day 1, the Triumph has required patience and has returned the favour in kind. As a relatively inexperienced rider I’ve never felt the bike was too much for me, in fact I’d go so far as to say the bike would make a very credible learner motorcycle for those aiming for the UK direct access test. It is lightweight, agile, has a low centre of gravity and a motor which is incredibly forgiving. It will run from 20 mph in 6th without angst or protestation and yet still has enormous power further up the rev range whenever it is needed.

I’ve found myself riding along most often in either 4th or 6th, depending on the road and cruising speed and the in gear acceleration in both is effortless. This makes overtaking slower traffic a breeze, you just kind of waft past with the manoeuvre being over almost before it has begun. This gives you the confidence to get past slower moving traffic without any prevarication. The brakes are excellent too meaning that once you’ve overtaken you can quickly scrub off any excess speed and tuck the bike into the next bend with ease.

Obviously it’s only been 5 weeks and there’s still a layer or two of wrapping paper to go, however I know I’m already sold on the incredible strengths of the Triumph. The highlight of the first month had to be retracing the route of the first stage of the Tour De France from 2014, including the beautiful pass of Buttertubs, North of Hawes. A fantastic ride on a cool yet sunny day in Yorkshire (see below).

img_20161028_165250-copy

So, do I have any grumbles so far?

Well not really – if anything the exhaust note sounds a little flat (ok anything sounds a little flat when compared to a Ducati V-Twin with Termignoni’s) – in hindsight maybe I should have spent some of my Β£600 accessories allowance on the Arrow end can, however at the end of the day this is my day to day bike, not a race replica. It sounds plenty good enough under acceleration and revs all day long, putting on speed with ease. The only other minor irritation has been the paint on the cap ring over the fuel tank. It flaked / chipped within days of me taking possession requiring the decent folks at Triumph West Yorkshire to replace it at the first service under warranty, only for me to then scuff / chip that replacement today when putting petrol in by briefly allowing the petrol hose to rest on it while filling – grrrrr!

And that’s it, literally nothing else disappointing to note so far. Watch out for my next review once the gloves really do come off at 1,000 miles and I get to press the redline a little harder.

coolbikesofharrogate

#triumph #streettriple #motorbikes #sportbikes

 

Street Triple R – flies through first service

Well doesn’t time fly? I suddenly realised that today would be the one month anniversary since the Street Triple was delivered by West Yorkshire Triumph and I’d better get a wriggle on with the first service to avoid any warranty complications. The first service is due at the sooner of 1 month or 500 miles and I’d somehow convinced myself that it was the other way round. Still, a quick call to the dealership to explain the problem and they agreed to take it in on Saturday afternoon the following day (phew!)

The weather was largely dry and cold and there was some ice in places first thing so I had some trepidation setting off. I decided to take A roads and take it extra steady and arrived in good time.

In all honesty West Yorkshire Triumph (and Ducati Leeds – it’s a single franchise for both brands) couldn’t have been more accommodating. Nothing was too much trouble for them, they even managed to replace the small painted ring on the petrol tank filler cap where the silver paint had flaked / chipped as part of the service, taking a spare off another shop bike to avoid me having to come back another day.

Having a couple of hours to wait gave me a great opportunity to have a bit of a leer at all the other exotic bikes in the shop and chat to the owner and technicians about some of their own projects like this Ducati 748 which had been the subject of a ground up renovation.

IMG_20161126_145626.jpg

The service including new tank ring was all done in around two hours so I set off back from Shipley in the advancing twilight and was about to head towards Otley when I decided to have a quick shufty in Craig’s Honda, a largely one make dealer with a reputation for holding some rare and classic bikes. The salesman there was great, he gave me the run of the shop and even offered me a coffee while I nosed about even though it was nearly closing time.

Although they had all sorts in stock, including a Senna 916 with 6km only on the clock, Β the stand out bikes for me where this pair of RC30 and RC45 in absolutely beautiful condition.

IMG_20161126_155507.jpg

They also had this stunning ( I’d say concourse to be honest) 1969 CB750 with the sand-cast engine casing, a real piece of Japanese motorcycling history. I’m not a huge fan of vintage Japanese bikes of this era if I’m honest however I had to admire the finish and detail on this legendary early Honda sports bike.

IMG_20161126_160109.jpg

Having exhausted my bike perving in two (a gaggle?) of Shipley’s finest bike dealerships I headed back over to Harrogate via Otley making it home in time for tea. My initial impressions of the Street Triple have been excellent and it certainly earns it’s lofty reputation as a do everything mid weight naked sportsbike. It’s agile, flickable, has an exceptionally smooth power curve (unlike the 848 EVO) and never feels like it’s going to catch you out (again unlike the Ducati). Now I just need to finish running it in so I can test that 14k redline πŸ˜€

coolbikesofharrogate

#triumph #streettriple #ducati #honda

 

 

Norton V4 Prelaunch Event

I was lucky enough last night to have the opportunity to visit Donnington Hall to see the two versions of the new Norton V4 SS limited edition race bike on the eve of the formal press launch in MCN.

After a short and stirring speech by Stuart Garner CEO in which he set out his and Simon Skinner’s (Chief Engineer for Norton) vision for the new bike and the brand, and related their at times traumatic experience from 5 years testing and competing at the TT for the prototyping of the new bike, the curtain (well union jack actually) was finally raised on the two limited edition bikes .

And two absolutely stunning machines they are

As you can see above, one is finished entirely in carbon and the other is carbon finished in a chrome effect. Both really stand out and look incredible from every angle as hopefully the photos show.

We had an opportunity to speak with Stuart and Simon and to really probe on the details of the bikes with plenty of Norton people on hand to answer our every question.

It was really cool as well to see SG 1-5 the five TT bikes that Stuart had referenced in his introduction standing menacingly around the edge of the room like a motorcycling guard of honour. You could really see the progression between these five ‘prototypes’ as well as the obvious design carry over from the TT into the road machines, both technical and cosmetic.

As well as being stunning overall the detail on the new bikes really brings a smile to the face of a long term Norton admirer.

From the upholstered leather racing seat, which would look equally at home in an Aston Martin, to the fully digital dash in the cockpit, everything looks really well thought out and contributes to the overall brand feeling.

The Norton branded grate in the log fire was a great touch too. You really got the impression that the Norton team care about and sweat the details!

All in all a really terrific evening!

coolbikesofharrogate

#norton #v4 #harrogate #castledonnington

Review – Shark Spartan Carbon Helmet

Having come back to biking after an 8 year lay off I was acutely aware that my old HJC lid had most likely come to the end of it’s useful life. It had never been called upon in anger however from what I understand helmets degrade with time making them less sound after that sort of hiatus.

I shopped around quite a bit, visiting J&S and Get Geared in Leeds and then read everything I could online as well as checking out the main online retailers for discounted options. I like a bargain and I have a big head so basically the initial shopping proved fruitless. The breakthrough came when I dropped into Jordan’s Bikes on the outskirts of Leeds to check out an MT-07 they were selling. I didn’t like the bike however a very helpful lady in the accessories department rather patiently took me through some helmet options.

I wanted something mid to top end, light (between 1250-1450g) and with internal visor and pinlock as standard – obviously you can pay a lot less however I wanted to make sure I had something that wouldn’t detract from the riding experience. In the end it came down to a choice between the very sexy Spartan and a discounted Shoei GT Air in fetching blue, red and white. Both were XL, very comfortable and with an end of line discount the Shoei came in just Β£80 more than the Shark at Β£380.

shoei-gt-air-helmet

I have to say I really valued the face to face support I received, firstly to check size for me and secondly to help me understand what it was that I was really paying for. I waivered for about 10 minutes and then went with a mixture of head and heart plumping for the Shark for two reasons; firstly it’s a little less expensive and secondly and most importantly as a glasses wearer it has gaps in the padding which are purpose designed for my specs – the clincher!

So, the Shark won out (although I’m pretty sure the GT Air would have been a great option too). I’ve been riding with it now for about a month, covering maybe 500 miles total and I have to say it’s great. It’s light (1350g), there’s little wind noise (thanks to the two aerodynamic fins on the rear crown) and with pinlock visor liner fitted the fogging is pretty minimal.

My only possible complaint is it’s pretty cosy on the cheeks, not uncomfortably so however at times I really notice my cheeks and teeth in close proximity. That aside I’ve had no issues so far and in terms of looks it’s absolutely stunning, a mixture of gloss black and carbon weave, hence the lightness.

So that’s it, you pretty much get what you pay for. The only downside now….it’s so nice I’m loathed to fit the obligatory helmet mount for my GoPro camera. It just seems wrong to add an ugly little adhesive patch to such a lovely sleek helmet #firstworldproblems πŸ˜‚

coolbikesofharrogate

#helmets #sharkhelmets #shoei #bikes

Remember, remember, the 5th of November

What a frustrating weekend it’s been so far, bonfires aside. Not only has it been absolutely brassic, it’s been raining lots too here in Harrogate.

Saturday was supposed to be dry however showers in the late morning / early afternoon put paid to my initial biking plans. I eventually got out late afternoon by when it was super cold and the back roads weren’t for drying. Managed about 30 miles on the Street Triple either side of a cheeky McDonalds at Knaresborough business park (I was hank marvin).

The Street Triple continues to perform faultlessly and my riding is improving each time I go out, although my confidence was a little knocked on the back roads between Boroughbridge and Knaresborough with all the leaves and residual dampness limiting my building enthusiasm for retaining cornering speed.

I guess we’ve been lucky so far this winter with October being relatively mild. I even managed to do my first commute into Leeds last Monday which was great – being able to filter through the queues from Scott Hall Road up to the Ring Road was a revelation.

img_20161029_172908

I had hoped to get out again today (Sunday) however every time it looked like the roads were drying the heavens opened again and I breathed a deep sigh. Still, it’s given me more time to spend looking at and researching bikes on the t’interweb so truly ‘every cloud’ does have a silver lining so to speak.

Well that’s it for now, bikes tucked up for another weekend. Lets hope the mild spell returns in time for next weekend.

Cool Bikes of Harrogate

#streettriple #ducati #bikes #harrogate

The freedom of the road

I’ve been a four wheeled family man for so long now that I’d completely forgotten the sheer unadulterated pleasure of just driving/riding for the sake of it.

Jumped on the Street Triple late morning and meandered over towards Skipton via Grassington and Stump Cross Caverns and then just kept on going to Colne, Haworth, Keighley and back into Skipton where I decided to stop and grab an all day breakfast at the Dalesway Cafe Bar on the A59.

Full breakfast, toast and tea for a fiver – just what the doctor ordered.

The great news being that the Street Triple (nicknamed Tom by the kids) has now done the first 300 of its compulsory running in miles so on the way back I can up the revs from a rather miserly 5000 rpm (only good for 60 mph in 6th) to 6,000. Its still a long way to the 14k red line however that will come soon enough.

Got to go for now, my breakfast is getting cold. More later

[Post Script – Suitably refreshed I decided to head back towards Harrogate. The extra revs aren’t yet life changing in terms of performance however it does make overtaking more comfortable and is now good for 70 mph in 6th]

My first blog post

Click this link for my very first post and some context on my introduction to motorcycling including the relevance of these two pictures. The RD Yamaha (below) and my mum and dad in the paddock at Silloth Circuut with the Manx Norton 350 race bike (above).

img_0601

#harrogate #bikes #norton #yamaha

Evening Spin up Norwood Edge with the Go Pro

Norwood Edge is infamous locally with the road cycling fraternity myself included. Short and steep to begin with as you leave the reservoir behind and then alpine, of a fashion, until it reaches the tops at Norwood. Cycling down it can be great fun for the confident cyclist, swooping turns and some serious speed (for a push bike). Riding up it, for an (ahem) larger gentleman like myself, can be nothing short of purgatory.

reservoir-at-norwood-edge

It takes on a whole other dimension on a motorbike though, far less tiring. To get there you take in Farnley lane from either the Otley or Pool side, which in itself is a beautiful ride, up to and over the reservoir. On a sunny and warm day there are few better spots, especially first or last thing when the traffic is often non existent.

So it seemed a fitting spot for me to test out my new Go Pro. I’m a complete newcomer to action cameras however the Go Pro seems to make getting started simple enough and, after opting for a mount on top of my old helmet (didn’t fancy mucking up my new Shark Spartan), I was off and on my way. A circumnavigation of Harrogate and Spofforth to get warmed up and then over to Pool in Wharfedale to head up Farnley Lane towards the reservoir.

alpine-switchback-at-norwood

It was just starting to spot with rain, so I took it pretty steady however it was still pretty enjoyable all the same. If you are in the area and fancy a short sharp ride in beautiful terrain, why not give this one a go, I promise you it’s worth it.

If you’d like to watch the footage click on this link or on the video below (and don’t forget to subscribe to my channel)

#youtube #gopro #harrogate #bikes