Matts Monday Club

Able to be ridden on L plates with only a provisional licence and CBT. Cheap transport for some. Capable of almost 70 mph. A foot on the ladder to motorcycles for most. 125’s are arguably one of the best engine sizes for all round motorcycling on a budget.

As grown men seeking some fun. One of the fads in our local bike club a few years ago after “Honda C90 off roading” was 125cc bikes. A handful of us regulars who rode together fell victim to the craze and rushed out and bought cheap learner bikes. A few hundred quid spent, a bit of fettling and we were young once again! I remember two of us had Yamaha YBR’s, one had a Honda City fly and another had a Honda CBF. Like kids we’d secretly try and make our bikes faster than the others. Drilling holes in the air box pumping your tyres right up solid and making other silly modifications like you did back in the day.

My chosen weapon was a 2007 YBR. I rescued the rusty turd from a local garden. After an afternoon de rusting and cleaning her up. I fitted some decent tyres, a new battery and got an MOT. Looking quite presentable, and after removing the top box and L plate, she was ready to race!

My Whip!

In the summer, every Monday night we’d meet up like teenagers for a bag of chips and go out and thrash the living daylights out of these undestructable little engines. Mostly at legal speeds as they didn’t go much faster than national speed limit! We’d race each other around the lanes like we were competing in the Isle of Mann TT. A slight exaggeration I know but at times it felt like you were dicing with death. Not wanting to be the slowest bike, the heat was one. Constant head to head action, slip steaming each other for an extra few mile an hour or taking a chance to get by each other on bends. The riding was not so much about speed but tactics. Every gear change counted. Late braking into corners was so important, everything mattered as you didn’t have the power to catch up on the straight if the gap got to big. I remember several times, the YBR piston slapping the head in second trying to squeeze a bit more out of it.

One moment I will never forget was riding three abreast along the Deal to Sandwich road. Approaching Deal, I was in the middle of the other two. We were flat out at about 65mph and level with each other whilst approaching a left hand bend. All praying a car wasn’t going to come the other direction as no one was willing to let off the power and lose! I glanced left and right only seeing the other twos eyes through the visors. I could see the grin on their faces. We were all laughing. I honestly can’t remember who gave in now but shortly after we stopped in the bus stop, the three bikes ticking away like they were about to explode. We took our helmets off and just laughed shaking out heads like children again. Irresponsible and somewhat stupid but for an hour every Monday we felt like super bike riders!

Some of the lads even had a long weekend away in the New Forest on them. Some of us still own them. Steve’s CG 125 has done about 25,000 miles since and he admits it is his best all round bike. None of us could ever catch the CG, or was that just we couldn’t catch Steve?

If you haven’t, you must try it. That was the most fun under 70mph I have had in a long time. The fad moved on a while after, to mopeds.. but no doubt will return one day!

If you’re a fan of small bikes. Not necessarily being stupid on them, but having fun and adventure, please see the blog below and follow GFOSB.

Everyone needs a man..cave

It’s winter, it is cold, wet and dark outside. Not much is really happening in the small bike world. Most evenings and weekends are spent at home tinkering with bikes in the shed. Sheds are wonderful places were we go to escape the outside world and enjoy your time on our own. Sometimes it’s nice just to sit out there and do absolutely nothing and just ponder life. Other times you have a list as long as your arm of things to fix and bikes to restore. With some music playing and a cuppa or few beers stuff gets done!

Over the last year or so, I have noticed on social media the booming craze in “Beer sheds and Man caves”. See the popular facebook group where people share build progress and ideas online. https://www.facebook.com/groups/524863404349906/ People are now building proper pubs and life size toy boxes in their back gardens. A shed on the outside and a unique and personal place to store and display things they are interested in on the inside. Maybe a collection of classic motorcycles, memeribilia relating to their hobbies. Or maybe collectables from the era they grew up in. These sheds are often top notch home built entertainment venues to enjoy time with family and friends. I suppose with the cost of alcohol at almost £5 a pint in most places (down South at least), then why not build your own bar? I am not talking about merely sitting drinking from cans of beer in a shed at the bottom of the garden. I mean proper themed bars with beer pumps, fruities, media systems, a pool table and a dart board. At least the other half knows where you are when you pop out for a pint!

I am lucky to have a garage on the side of the house but this year want to build a dedicated bike themed “man cave”. Can you even say that anymore? Person cave then… It dosen’t quite sound the same ring to it. I apologise for not being “Gender shed neutral” and continue on. New build homes tend to have smaller plots and so this build would make much better use of the unused garden leaving a nice space for a BBQ and patio area with outdoor seating.

The man cave could be workshop, a show room for many little classic bikes. A place for friends to hang out when they visit. Somewhere I can contemplate life and chill after work on my reclaimed leather Chesterfield sofa. The options and ideas are endless. Custom bikes are so last year, custom sheds are the way forward!

Nicely done!

Focusing more on riding in 2020, rather than another project bike I am looking forward to this build. It’s quite exciting having never built a shed from scratch. A blank canvas and endless options.

We have all had sheds before. They were often not quite laid out the way you we wanted them to be. Never quite warm enough in the winter or positioned in the right place in the garden for the summer. I hated having to walk miles in the dark to get to my shed at the old house. The cold concrete floor in the winter made it not enjoyable to work in. Windows were not considered last time and it lacked natural light. All these things will be taken into consideration with the new build. Any advice or tips are welcome too!

My Blank canvas…

After picking up a lovely set of UPVC French doors for free from a builder renovating his new home – its given me an idea… Can I build this shed from freebie surplus building materials? Or for very little expenditure. The ultimate up-cycle project!

Whilst researching, I googled “how to build a shed’ for some tips and a DIY YouTube legend appeared. After being distracted watching various of his latest contraptions Colin Furze provided some great tips for my shed https://youtu.be/LP67MAoihZk. Have a look for yourself!

If this idea interests you or you’re a lover of small motorcycles please follow for regular updates or join GFSOB.

Dont let me down Olive…

An update on the Elephant Rally preparation which is now only weeks away. See the original post here https://greatfunonsmallbikes.com/2020/01/03/the-elefant-rally-2020/.

I today heard from Dave and was excited when he told me of his plans to ride the MZ ETZ 250 in the spirit of GFOSB. More so because as mentioned in the previous post, back in the 90’s his old MZ broke down and never made the winter rally. This is subject to a few hundred mile ride out before hand to build confidence again. Until that time the Honda Deauville remains the back up bike. Dave has owned this bike for a few years now (which is good for him!) and so trips like these, the bike becomes quite sentimental.

He’s already been “adventurising” the MZ ready for the rally. As an ex Army bloke, the colour and the ammo box luggage system is quite fitting . Hand guards, heated grips possibly and a few ancillary 12v supplies for sat nav and phone charging etc are to be installed in the coming days. He’s had the fuel system apart this morning and checked the ignition over and changed the spark plug. After a quick run round the block all appeared to be working well. The bike unfortunately broke down last year on the way to an MZ rally in Holland when the coil failed. I do understand his concern about riding the 1600 mile round trip again. But hundreds of other like minded MZ riders will attend the rally and it will be a real achievement for “Olive” to accomplish this one.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try again”

Great to see and fingers crossed Dave for the trial run soon. Perfect company for my Honda CRF250 to plod down to Germany with. I really can’t wait now!

2020-01-27T06:00:00

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Elefant Rally 2020

If travel and adventure on small bikes interests you, please see me other posts. Please follow GFOSB and subscribe and for regular updates. If you’re a facebook user, don’t forget to join the group via the link below and share your own travels.

The streets of Catania, Sicily

In a hire car I battled my way into the centre of Catania on what seemed like the hottest day ever. The air con (on full) felt like it was blowing warm air out of the scorching hot dash of the little white Fiesta. The car’s thermometer was reading over 40 degrees in the mid day sun. The air was still and there was absolutely no breeze. The heat was pretty unbearable at times. I was on edge for the whole journey from Cefalu, having to anticipate the actions of others all the way. If UK car drivers did this as part of their training, maybe motorcyclists would be safer on the roads? Undertaken, over taken and pushed about by the locals going about their daily lives. I never really knew where to look or what might happen ahead. I felt like a learner driver all over again. I was now beginning to doubt ticking off my “bucket list” item today and hiring a Vespa in Italy. It seemed pretty dangerous to be riding two up in this chaotic environment when you don’t know your way around. Maybe we could find one in another town away from the city. There was always another day…

We eventually parallel parked the left hand drive car in a busy side street, whilst a queue of traffic behind hooted impatiently. I don’t think it was personal, these horn happy Sicilians just beep at everything, for no apparent reason! As tourists, with a few hours free before we were due at a family meal. I was keen to walk the streets and explore the craziness. There were hundreds of small bikes and scooters whizzing in and out of gaps in the traffic, everywhere you turned. The roads seemed lawless and priority seemed unheard of here. Helmets were optional, and shorts and flip flops compulsory!

Guided by Fabio, my girlfriends distant relative. He took us on a whistle stop tour of Catania. He calmly strolled along the streets unfazed by the hustle and bustle explaining local Sicilian traditions. He pointed out Mount Etna in the distance, which had been active of late. I had heard you could ride a quad bike up to the top of the volcano. Maybe this would substitute the Vespa? We were a little late for the action at fish market but certainly got a feeling for local life here. They buy food daily and eat everything fresh. It surprised me to find that Diabetes is a big issue here on the island.

I don’t think bike theft is an issue here. I never saw locks or chains. Maybe the fear of stealing from the Mafia was enough of a deterrent? I would guess maybe the biggest problem is finding your bike again after parking it!

These little Piaggo Ape’s were popular with locals. Small enough to navigate the streets made them ideal for the food market traders. I can see why they are appearing on the streets of the UK. I wonder how much it would cost to buy one and ride it home?

Later in the trip we took a day out to explore the mountains on quad bikes. The scenery was amazing and the air was cool. The local villages were quite a contrast to Catania. Every one still rode Vespas or drove Fiat 500’s but it was peaceful and much more quiet.

Well worth a visit if you like small bikes! I can see the appeal of a twist and go Vespa 125cc for getting about the island of Sicily. Maybe I will ride one next time?

See my other posts relating to the fun small bikes bring.

Great fun on small… Paramotors!

Slightly off topic some might argue… But as a lover of all small capacity engines. Two stroke especially being my favourite, my little Italian “Vittorazi” Moster 185cc outfit kind of fits the bill nicely. Exactly the same size engine as Tim’s lovely old little Suzuki GT185! The Moster produces 25 HP compared to the Suzuki’s 21 HP. Both great in their own right. However with a nice expansion on the GT, I reckon it would win on power.

This compact little Moster engine attached to the P.A.P frame and harness make a great combination for learners to professional pilots. Weighing in at about 30KG in total on your back. However this becomes weightless in the air and you sit back in the chair, relax and enjoy the ride.

Wheels are not included this time round, but similar to some of my small bikes it does still travel quite slowly – at only around 45mph give or take depending on wind strength and direction. Unlike a bike engine though, you don’t ride this contraption, it straps to your back – and it rides you!

The only engine control is the throttle to increase altitude. Letting off the throttle means you glide down. Steering is by pulling toggles and controlling the wing. Speed is also controlled by altering the angle of the wing. It is a very simple concept really once you’ve mastered take off and landing! We travel a lot together in the summertime. To be honest when it comes to a decision between a bike ride or a fly it is a tough one!

Flying with mates is just like riding with mates!

After almost 2 years I now have full trust in this fantastic little motor. The highs and lows of our time together can be breathtaking yet sometimes still scary. But no more so than when on the bike. It is peaceful and picturesque almost every time we go out flying. There is no traffic to contend with. Only the odd cloud or sometimes a helicopters down draft to avoid. Running out of petrol is a slightly bigger issue than when on a bike though and you definitely need to have a wee before you set off!

Complete freedom like I have never experienced before

“Distraction is the opportunity to realise we can choose to be present again” – unfortunately not mine!

Cloud surfing

Mental health is a hot topic these days. Mindfulness is something I am learning about and I believe is a good tool for dealing with the daily stresses. I like the concept of taking yourself out of every day life for an hour and fully concentrating and relaxing, enjoying something that quite literally pre occupies every part of your mind. I never think about work, or what I need to do tomorrow when I am in the air. I guess motorbikes are similar in the same sense for many, but in my opinion you never are as quite removed when riding a motorcycle as paramotoring.

“The field” has become a great social circle and meeting place. There is always someone about practicing. Motorbikes also seem to be a common interest among pilots. In fact, I found out about this sport at a bike meet after meeting Simon for the first time. It is funny how life pans out. I often wonder, if I hadn’t gone out on my bike that night…?

If this is something that appeals to you, do it! Find a club or flying school nearby. It is probably the cheapest way of flying. Please get some proper lessons and advice before buying equipment or just having a go as there is lots to consider before take off!

See my other posts relating to the fun small bikes bring.

First ride of 2020

It’s unfortunately been a late start this year. Against doctors orders, I desperately needed a bike fix and fancied meeting some of the East Kent Classic Motorcycle group for the Sunday morning bacon butty and coffee at the iconic Deal Beach Parlour seaside cafe.

My other half’s little red Suzuki FZ50 was the chosen ride this morning. Comfy and perfect for a short run to the beach on the sunny but chilly January morning.

Keen to get out, I started her up with a couple of kicks and shot off up the road. The FZ sounds like a little Kenwood mixer, whilst grinning I gently accelerated into second gear and up to 30mph leaving a trail of blue smoke in the chrome mirror. That gear change is so smooth and cool. If you have ridden an FZ you will know what I mean. I cut through the alley way as there is an unwritten rule that you can on one of these… The dog walker smiled as he stopped to let me pass. I always forget how good the brakes are on this little bike. Maybe because it’s so small or I am just not going that fast but it stops on a sixpence! I didn’t go the scenic route this morning. It was a bit cold and I just fancied taking it easy. The most exciting part was over taking a MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra) on the railway bridge as I cruised into Deal. I was as usual the first one there. Only me and a few seagulls plus the odd New Year runner at 9am on the promenade this morning. Perfect compulsory photo opportunity…as you do!

The iconic Deal Pier

I took the time to just sit and be mindful. I do love our town, having lived here for over 30 years there are things you miss when your rushing about in day to day life. This is where the small bikes come in. You break away from the norm and do things differently and at a nicer pace.

After 20 mins or so I hear the distinctive rumble of Honda four stroke engine burbling along the seafront. Colin pulls onto the promenade on his little red CG125 cafe racer. He jumps off and puts his hands straight on the shiny chrome megaphone to warm up.

I was presented with a new EKCMCC Bacon club T-shirt. Fantastic hey. I love these Sunday mornings. Colin has kept the East Kent Classic Club alive after all the clickyness and politics you seem to get amongst bikers and various groups. A good handful of us original lot still get together most weekends for a natter over breaky which is cool. That’s my ethos for GFOSB. Just have fun and ride what you want to ride. Simple.

“Bart” Simson
Father and son out together

A few other bikes arrive, a few more and then a couple more. Before we know it there is a selection of 15 random bikes in a row on the promenade. Puch maxi’s to a pink custom Honda C90! Fantastic to see such a turn out so early in January. Most of all the bikes are classic and all but two were small bikes! Dosen’t that just prove something?

We chat bollocks in the cafe for an hour or so and enjoy some grub. Then all disperse home to the other halves to do DIY, shopping, and look after the grand kids for the Sunday afternoon.

What a nice little start to 2020 on the bikes. I hope there’s plenty more days like these.

If your into classic bikes or live locally in South East Kent. Check out the East Kent Classic Motorcycle club which has been going since around 2014. We are a friendly bunch. Pop along and say hello. All classic bikes are welcome.

http://www.EastKentClassicMotorcycleClub.co.uk

See my other posts relating to the fun small bikes bring.

Moby on down..

“A few years ago, if you had told me that i’d one day own a French 60’s pedal moped I would have laughed in disbelief.”

Last summer I went to view another motorbike with Dad. It was a scorching hot day, in a barn near Ash in Kent. I spotted this gold odd looking thing in the corner and was drawn straight too it. The gold colour was very 70’s, it was a pretty and stylish little thing. I loved the white wall tyres, chrome fuel tank and the little speedo.

I was only in my 30’s, I’d never ridden a motorbike with pedals before. We had Honda 90’s to buzz the around the fields on as kids. I had know idea what all the drive chains were for. Ignoring the Suzuki GN250 we were actually there to look at I found myself questioning the old boy about this one. He’d owned it a while. He said it ran, but not very well. I persuaded him to show me just out of curiosity. He climbed on and began pedalling this flimsy old frame. The chains and wheels spinning away and nothing much happening. He appeared not to know how to start it whilst fiddling with the throttle. I had no idea either of what he was doing. After a few attempts pedalling and me thinking he may keel over at any minute in the heat trying, the little 49cc two stroke engine burst into life and the rear wheel accelerated into action. The brick building was filled with a blue haze of lovely two stroke smoke and I watched the engine in amazement as it pivoted backwards and forwards as he repeatedly revved the little bike.

That was a work of art. What a piece of engineering! Was it actually meant to do that I remember thinking at the time?

Is this one for sale then? was my next question.. He said it had been for a while but had no real interest. I vaguely remembered seeing it on Facebook market place. He probably wanted too much money for it. We viewed the other bike that we were there to look at and said we’d go away and consider the purchase over a drink.

Whilst in the car driving home, after a quick phone call to Dave, a fellow Moby owner, he said it was a bargain. A very rare colour and if you don’t buy it one of us will! With that pressure, suddenly my interest rose! I didn’t want to miss out. Dad suggested, let’s offer a deal and buy them both on the basis that if you don’t like it, it seems like you’d probably have no problem selling it.

We returned the same day with a cheeky offer and bought the pair. It worked out the Mobylette owed about £600.

We got it home to Dads. We tried to start it. It wasn’t having any of it. After some research online and speaking to Dave again. I learnt the basics of the AV7 engine and how to operate it. I was still pretty amazed by the engine design and simplicity of this little machine.

Dad, offered it to me to keep and get it going as he could see I was fascinated by it. Plus I secretly think he would have never got round to doing a lot with it!

Whilst examining the “barn find” with excitement still, I noticed the original 70’s tax disc in the holder. £2 road tax, bargain I thought! Even better than that when I opened the tax disc holder I had a real treat. Every tax disc bar one year up until 1982, in order! What a lovely touch of history to have found.

I met Phil, one of Daves biker friends who was the guru of Mobylettes. He had a few and what he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. With his advice and the odd visit to his house fault finding in exchange for ‘dinner at the cafe” (bargain), it became apparent people had already played with it before and the wrong points and condenser had been installed. With Phil’s expertise the little French moped soon burst into life and ran like a dream.

Dog head and Wobble
Love the patina!

I ordered new cables, fuel tap and fuel line etc from some old boy who basically still deals moped parts from his shed at home! After fitting them and a new more modern Gurtner carb as recommended by Phil it ran even better. I however ended up stripping the engine and fitting an Airsal 66 cc barrel and piston purely to improve power on hills!

I found the Moby being the bike of choice for the summer and I rode it everywhere. I loved the attention it got from people in the street. It was so simple and easy to ride.

Deal, Kent
Autumn riding

Dad surprised me some weeks later with news that he’d bought another one. I think he’d realised the fun he could have been having. His one was an English version of my Mobylette AV89. It was a Raleigh RM5 Supermatic. This moped was a real project but with the knowledge gained from Phil and Dave, and the fact that this was almost identical I was ready for the challenge of reviving his 1964 moped.

Some weeks later after a few weekends together we had it running like a little sewing machine and fit for the road. The rest of the year we’ve been buzzing around the country lanes of South East Kent having a whale of a time.

We went to Sandwich, for a baguette as it seemed a French thing to do!

A little ride out is a real adventure on these and I’d highly recommend anyone to try it. Not much bigger than a bicycle. You only pedal to start it and it will propel you along the summer country lanes at a good 45 mph. Perfect for a pint of ale and a pork pie at that little pub you’ve never stopped at before.

I actually love this so much, I now fancy an Austrian Puch maxi to keep it company!

See my other posts relating to the fun small bikes bring.

The Elefant Rally 2020

“Snow. Sub Zero temperatures. 10,000 crazy European bikers and plenty of German Beer”

The Elephant Rally is a motorcycle rally that takes place in the Bavarian Forest of south eastern Germany, not far from Austria, usually on the last weekend of January or first weekend of February. It is organised by the Federal Association of Motorcycle Riders in Germany. 2020’s event marks the 64th anniversary of the rally since it began in 1956. The rally takes place in the harsh German winter, and often draws thousands of bikers every year. It is renowned for the bitter conditions in which you camp in snow and sub zero temperatures.

We plan to avoid motorways and toll roads where possible

This is my first winter rally. It seemed a great idea when it was suggested in the summer! With a few weeks to go bike preparation is well under way.

My original plan was to ride the non runner CG 125 I bought for peanuts in the summer. But it had a few issues, one being a heavily rusty fuel tank which kept causing fuel problems. It didn’t fill me with 100% confidence and so I sold it.

I will now be taking my 2016 Honda CRF250L. My decision to take this bike came about as I wanted something reliable incase others dropped like flies before the rally and I ended up going alone. After all, it’s about 800 miles each way from Kent, UK to Solla, Germany where the rally is held. The last thing I want to do is be stranded on something old. That happened to Dave who I am going with. He went years ago (to the 44th), back in the 1990’s on his MZ 250 side car outfit and unfortunately broke down on the way there near the end, and so the bike didn’t make it. He left the bike and managed to visit the rally but didn’t camp. So it would be great for him to succeed this time round.

Some of Dave’s photos from 44th Elefant Rally.

Also attending the trip from our group is Rob on his well travelled Honda C70. I have a lot of respect for that bike, and Rob! We hope to meet at the rally as he will travel at a slower pace hopefully with company on similar bikes. I have allowed 10 days for the trip. There is no point rushing down on the motorway. Also I’d like to call into Austria as we’re not too far away, then travel a slightly different route home.

I have done a bit of research and spoken to Dave about his previous trip. I am told, the trick is to keep warm. Sounds simple – but sub zero temperatures whilst riding, plus the windchill and then sleeping in a tent when the temperature can reach as low as -20deg. If you get cold you can die. I wish he had never said that bit in front of my other half, cheers Dave!

Xmas goodies ready to be fitted

So, I fitted a set of OXFORD sports premium heated grips to keep my hands warm. I also bought a second hand set OXFORD rain seal muffs to keep the wind and (hopefully not) rain off. My theory is a normal set of winter bike gloves should now keep my hands nice and toasty. If all else fails I have a load of the heat pack hand warmers. I am told they do last for 10 hours to.

As for the seat. I am planning on riding a 200-300 miles a day. It’s not a touring bike. Its a dual sport and so comfort was not really factored in! I purchased a Coleman Mad dog gel seat cover from Amazon. With a little modding, removing the clips I tied it to my seat unit with chord. I have tested it. A 100 mile ride, no problem at all. Well worth £25 delivered from America. The only downside. Once it gets wet, it stays wet. I don’t want a cold wet arse! A lot of the rally veterans use sheep skin seat covers, warm, comfortable and water proof. So, I got one of those and it sits lovely over the top of the gel cover.

The seat is not the only thing that will cause me to take regular breaks. My fuel range is just about 100 miles. It is a small tank on these. I didn’t want to purchase the long range as I guess ill be happy to stop if its cold! I purchased a couple of reserve tanks to give me a few extra litres in an emergency if I can’t reach a fuel station in time.

I don’t own a sat nav. I am planning on using google maps on my iPhone. I use it in the UK, so I can’t see why it won’t be just as good abroad. I fitted a phone holder which also has a USB power supply to keep it charged. Easy to fit and again, cheap on Amazon. I’ve tested it greenlaning and its a good bit of kit. I also first fitted a 12v cigarette lighter socket. I was planning on using it to pump my air bed until I was told, do not use an air bed at the rally due to cold air from the ground making me cold. It makes sense..

I decided as the old tool box was so small and pointless, and I wanted to take a few more bits that I would install one of these tool tubes. Just £10 on Ebay (from China) and really good quality plastic. I remove the old box and side cover and pretty much fitted this in its place with a little modification. It gives me plenty more storage and is easily removable for more serious off roading at home. I hope the Honda reliability won’t need the tool tube lid to open! Fail to prepare – prepare to fail!

tool box modification
Basic tool kit for the tool tube
Returned to 14t sprocket for touring
bubble wrapped the battery to help avoid the cold killing it when camping

I have chosen to stick with the stock tyres as they have enough life left in them for the trip which is going to be mainly tarmac until the last section which will likely be snow and ice on the untreated roads. At the rally, I will probably wish I had new decent nobblys to get around the site but if we arrive early enough I should get a decent spot. Plus I am unsure about 1400 miles on tarmac on new nobbly tyres in the winter!

To carry everything, I have chosen mainly soft luggage. I fitted a rear rack and an aluminium box my mate pinched from work for me. I thought that would give a bit of security and stability to the roll bag and soft panniers. My tent and sleeping back are small hiking ones. The sleeping bag is a -20 deg rated 4 season bag. I used a similar one whilst climbing Kilimanjaro and it was just fine.

Clothing wise, Ive decided on layers. Fleece, down jacket, insulated textile trousers, inner liner gloves, neck warmers, thick socks, carrier bags on feet if required! More feet warmer heat packs. I purchased a Frank Thomas aqua pore two part rain proof. My theory is that will keep me dry and the layers will keep me warm. As for boots I chose some adventure touring style water proof Forma ones. They are dry and comfortable when off roading.

I plan to do a trial run. Load up and go for a day out in the next week or so to double check a few mods, then it will be time!

The rough plan is to go via Ferry to Calais from Dover. Have a nice big Full English breaky on board and then ride through France and Belgium to somewhere on the outskirts of Frankfurt, Germany and stop for the night in a B&B. We both agreed, lets save the camping for the rally when we arrive!

After hopefully a few German beers and a good nights sleep we will continue on as best we can. It is a job to plan as the weather could be freezing, icy and cold or wet and miserable. So we’ve allowed extra time for the journey down. On Day 3 or 4 we should arrive at Solla and pitch the tents. I was advised, get there on the Thursday and get a good spot on the flat. I don’t fancy sleeping on the slope of the mountain. So that’s the plan!

Whilst we are there, Britain is due to leave Europe on the 31st Jan. Iam not sure what complications that will cause for our journey home but we will see. I have followed the government advice and obtained an international driving permit and green card etc along with the essentials like breakdown cover and travel insurance, just incase!

Hopefully the next update will be about the trip!

2020-01-27T06:00:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Departure for the Elefant Rally 2020

See my other posts relating to the fun small bikes bring.

Your first year of riding. Do you remember it?

My son was counting down the days to doing his CBT from about aged 14 years. The day finally came. I remember sat waiting in the car park to drop him off 30 mins early. His bike, a 50cc 2017 Derbi Sender Extreme sat at patiently waiting for him when he got home.

No problems with the moped and CBT, but then he had been riding motocross bikes since about aged 6 so there shouldn’t have been really!

I remember the day he tore off up the road. I was more worried about him riding this 50cc moped, than quads, motocross bikes and all the other things he’d ridden in the past. I knew, if there was an accident who’s fault it would ultimately be. “You got him into bikes”, I could hear it now!

Anyway as the weeks went on, he rode in all the safety gear that I had bought him. Casual looking boots, textile suit, gloves etc. Gradually as summer came and friends also turned 16. The coolness factor came in and the boots went, then the textile trousers. Before I knew it he’s riding in trackies with a silly bag hanging round his side. I suppose I was the same..

Every evening there would be a story of a wheelie, how someone else fell off, a great over take, or how he hit 50 mph. The sensible Dad part was saying “Don’t be stupid on that bike” while I was thinking, sounds like he is having a blast and making memories!

One day the bike did appear in the garage in a sorry state after he’d high sided a roundabout trying to get his knee down for an instagram photo…

I just hope the photo was worth it!

We shared some great rides out though. The first weekend he past his CBT, we did a 100 mile group ride all on small bikes to get him used to road riding. He ran out of petrol on route. All these fun memories of early days of biking.

The bike has been fantastic and I would recommend one to anyone else. If I am honest, I dreaded him having a two stroke. I expected to be picking him up in the van at silly o’clock and rebuilding it every few hundred miles. After 5,500 miles of being thrashed everywhere at 40-50mph you just cannot fault it.

We serviced it together. The usual oil, filter, etc. It was great to get him doing the work. He replaced the handle bars, rear panels and lights he broke when he came off it. A few clutch levers later like you do at 16 and it has had no problems what so ever. The only thing really which was self inflicted was fork seals from the constant wheelies and a thorn in the tyre after green laning!

We’re almost at the end of his first biking year and the next thing on the agenda is a car. He is now counting down the days again while the bike is sat in the garage ready to go to the next young lad. We sold it for what we paid for it, so a cheap years motoring really. I hope it gives him as much fun and makes the same memories it did for Josh.

My first year riding wasn’t half as exciting as his. My DT50 exploded trying to make it go 40mph resulting in a long walk home! I then got a Honda Express. We didn’t have these fast reliable mopeds like they have now, and there wasn’t many lads riding in my year so it was a bit more tame. It was more transport for work for me. But seeing him enjoy it has been equally as rewarding. I’ve made up for it now in later life after rediscovering small bikes! Do you remember your first year biking?

See my other posts relating to the fun small bikes bring.

On 2 Wheels Magazine feature

December 2019

I was well chuffed to have been contacted by the editor of O2W magazine to take part in a page feature on small bikes. The perfect opportunity to spread some small bike love!

If any other publications would like to run a feature, please get in touch.

See my other posts relating to the fun small bikes bring.