Road Kill

Road Kill

I’ve hit a few fluffy things on the roads.

There are the inevitable birds which exploded against my helmet or gloves in a shower of feathers, and the rather less common bat who splattered himself over my visor directly in front of my right eyeball (very nearly causing me to jump right off the bike in shock).

Then there was Fluffykins – an unknown cat/smalldog sized lump of squish that I hit one dark Winter night, resulting in the fascinating stench of dead ‘something’ guts cooking on my exahust downpipes for the next few miles.

Considering that’s in easily over 300,000 miles of bike travel (not to mention the few thousand I’ve racked up in the car), that makes my contribution to the UK’s road kill figures rather insignificant.

Which prompts me to wonder, who the Hell is it who’s splattering the entire wildlife population of the Midlands on a nightly basis?

Every morning on my commute I’m riding past the broken and splayed carcasses of everything from badgers, lumpjack deer and unidentifiable large fluffy Things (that in all honesty scare me slightly with their existence), and the numbers of them stagger me!

Are there any left running around out there?  More to the point, how -ing many were out there in the first place?!

And where the Hell do the carcasses go to?  Is there a special Road Kill Recovery Unit, or… is someone eating them?!


Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

Pirelli Angel ST Tyres On Track

I always used to have a (possibly unfounded) hatred of Pirelli tyres.  It was probably more from having ancient tyres on my very first Yamaha TZR125 that had all the grip of a paranoid schizophrenic watching a bad Kubrick film.

Despite this, I was impressed by their claims and marketing when they brought out their brand spanking new Angel ST tyre – I was first aware of these in early 2009.  They promised more grip in the dry and wet, better cold performance, and claimed to see over 9000 miles from a rear tyre on a Hayabusa!

Oh, and they had a funky picture in the tread of an angel, that wore down to become the image of a demon.

I’ve used many tyres on many bikes, so am fully aware of just how far tyre technology advances in the space of a few short years, and so decided to take a chance on them being fitted to my trusty Kawasaki ZX9R C2.

I very quickly found that they met all these claims of more grip, and even when running them in (personally I think more like 10 miles to run new tyres in, rather than the idiot-proof 100 miles they recommend) they were well behaved and inspired confidence.

Over the next few years I found they offered at least all of the grip of other sports-touring tyres on the market, and can also confirm that where I got 3000 miles from a rear tyre such as an Avon AV56 or Bridgestone BT021, the Angels give me at least twice that, of very hard road riding all year round.

I even tested these tyres on snow and mud and ice.  They were crap, of course, but I didn’t fall off and tear my petticoat!

Recently, I had decided to do a trackday on my ZX9R, and not having the funds to switch to track tyres, decided to try out the Angels.

I thought that they would overheat and slide, or just fall apart at track temperatures, as they warm up so quickly on the roads.

I’m no Rossi on track, but usually run at the sharp end of Intermediate groups, laying down 2min laps around Oulton Park and around 1:03 at Mallory on 600cc hire bikes.

Well I can now confirm that at a super-abrasive Rockingham International circuit, they gave absolutely no problems, and I even put in a lap in the low 1:40s – with warped brake discs meaning I was making up the time through corner speed and very heavy trail braking up to the apex of corners!

They wore extremely well, with no tearing and just a bit of balling-up at the edge of the tyres.

I heard from several people around 5 years ago that the sports-touring tyres of the time (before the Angels came out) had the equivalent grip of the best Grand Prix level race tyres of the late 1990’s.  Now, with that in mind, and considering they had a lot more to give when I tried them on track, then WHY exactly does anyone believe they need some super-sticky tyre for the road that only lasts 500 miles?

I think you could happily run in the fast group, and they would be enough for 90% of trackday riders – let alone road riders…

What Tyre Pressures Do You Run?

That’s an important question that I missed!  Everyone in the pub is an expert on tyre pressures.  Almost always these ‘experts’ will tell you to run low pressures for grip – probably because they heard it off a racer sometime.  Well, even if they are on a track, they’re probably wrong!

Generally, I’m a believer in the Universal Standard road tyre pressures of 36psi front and 42psi rear.    I may run a 40psi rear because I don’t take many pillions these days, so don’t need the extra psi.  Sort out your suspension and riding/body position first before touching your tyre pressures!  And here’s why…

I consulted a REAL tyre expert at Rockingham, and was advised to run pressures of 34 front and 32 rear on track.  The reason they’re not much lower (as I’d expected to be told) is that tyres like these aren’t designed to run lower pressures, and so by lowering them below that, you overstress their structures as they move beyond their intended limits, causing not just less grip but the potential for a total failure.  You don’t want this on a racetrack, and you definitely don’t want this on the road!

My Favourite Road – Bridgnorth To Ludlow

My Favourite Road – Bridgnorth To Ludlow

As a biker, I’m happy to just jump on the bike and ride.  It doesn’t matter where I’m going, or for how long.

Much as I hate paying almost £1.40 for a litre of Super Unleaded petrol, I WILL pay it and have fk all to show from it apart from a smile on my face and slightly less rubber on my tyres, and maybe less plastic on my toe and kneesliders.  Yeah, screw you Society!  That’s how I roll!

Of course, I do have my favourite destinations.  The Redditch Cloverleaf is almost impossible to resist anytime I have to ride past and the roads are dry.  I mean, you simply pull off the dual carriageway and scrape your knee around the four corners and then carry on in the direction you were headed as if nothing had happened.  It really is Heaven.

Except this year the road surface on the Cloverleaf is rather shocking… The tarmac is broken and very rough on EXACTLY the line you want to be taking around there!

Anyway, enough about that – what I really wanted to blog about here is one of my favourite roads.

It’s the B4364 that runs from Bridgnorth to Ludlow.  It’s over 22 miles through some of the most beautiful Shropshire countryside, and has everything from open straights and fast sweeping corners to mega-tight OFM (“Oh Fuck Me!”) twisties.

Ludlow itself is a very nice place for a stop-off, as is Bridgnorth – and the Quatt Biker Cafe just outside Bridgnorth is always a mecca for bikers of all kinds who drop in for a bacon sandwich and a coffee.

At the Ludlow end of the B4364, if you head in the opposite direction towards Kidderminster, you cross the stunning Cleehill – where you’ll see a lot of my bike photographs are taken.

This was a lovely sunny day, so I got the Veho HD10+ mounted on the bike and decided to get footage of the whole of the B4364, at legal speeds to show how it is still a lot of fun to ride without being silly.

I hope you enjoy this and don’t criticise my riding too harshly!

Putting ‘BIKER’ On The Census As Your Religion

Putting ‘BIKER’ On The Census As Your Religion

It’s coming around again soon – the Gubbinment will be sending you a load of questions at great expense to the taxpayers so that… umm… they know more stuff about us?


The important thing this time around is that when they ask me what religion I am, I am going to say it loud and proud that I am A Biker.

The road is my God, and the pathway there, too.

When I ride my bike it is a spiritual experience.  It’s a comfort to me when I feel lost or down.

Riding ‘in the zone’ is like a form of meditation.  It’s Zanshin – total awareness – as I try to see my surroundings before they happen, listening to every roar and click from my bike and trying my best to make sure as I execute my religion that nobody else is adversely affected by it.

We even have Priests – the mechanics who will fix up our trusty steeds and get us back on track.

A lot of us even just ride on Sundays!  And we have those living Gods amongst us:

And think of the benefits or getting our religion recognised!

Would a petrol station be allowed to force us to remove our helmet if it’s religious clothing?

Could they continue forcing us to pay such high tax on petrol – essentially taxing our religion?

It is my form of worship.  Being a Biker means I enjoy life, and get more out of it because of my choices.

We’re family out there – nodding a greeting as we pass total strangers simply because they’re on a bike.  Sure, there are different faction within the Biking religion – the Sportbikers have some hostility towards Harley Davidson riders, and everyone dislikes Scooter riders.  Motard riders are just thugs.  We’re not going to go to war over it, though, and many of us treat everyone under the Biker banner equally, as it’s something that unifies us all.

If you ride a bike, I bet you’ve put more effort into that than you have the made-up-deity, war-causing, only-when-it-suits-you religion that someone decided they’d choose for you before you were out of nappies!

It’s got to be done!

It is the time to show the World what we REALLY believe in!

Just put that single word as your religion: Biker.


***EDIT***: There is now a Facebook group for this, so get theeself joined and spread the word:

First Drive On The Snow

First Drive On The Snow

Having ridden bikes in the snow for the last ten years, and not having had any reason to take the car out in recent snows, I decided to make one up!

So, in order to do lots of ‘essential’ Christmas food/booze shopping, and with more heavy snow forecast overnight, I got to see what all the fuss and panic was about.

My garage is on a steep hill up a dirt track.  I figured I could probably get down the hill, but doubted I’d ever get back up.  So I dug out the garage door and went for it.

I was suprised by how much resistence deep snow offered to a car.  Reversing down the hill, where I expected it to roll back through it, I found I had to give it a bit of gas.  Other than that it was stable and did nothing silly.  I turned around at the bottom, engaged first gear, took a deep breath, and turned out onto the road…

And drove.  Nothing else happened.

I drove slower than normal, but to be honest didn’t really have to.  I did put into practice the theory of downshifting and using careful engine braking rather than touching the brakes wherever possible, and there were no dramas.  I was able to pull away with no wheelspin, and turn through corners without falling into hedges or running any kittens over.  Unlike everyone else, I kept a good gap to the car in front (notice to the ihabitatnts of the seal farm that is Bromsgrove: this does NOT mean 6″ away).

So I decided to provoke it.

From second gear I floored it and was chuffed to hear it spin up like a good ‘un!

You have to bear in mind I can’t condone this, but at the same time understand that the last time I drove it was to a skid control course.  I knew what to expect, and the little Fiat seems to have very predictable understeer, but with nice balance to it.

Locking the brakes made it slide straight on with slight squiggles if provoked further.  And it seemed to drift ok, too!

It’s quite amazing what you can do in a car and stay in control.  That much lack of traction on a bike would equal lots of airtime, groundtime and abulancetime.  I wasn’t anywhere near pushing it, and don’t intend to on the roads.

In short, it was exactly what I needed, and allowed me to safely explore the limits of the car at slow speeds and on some empty roads.

Oh, and my 1 litre snorting Italian beast on its skinny tyres also seemed to be one of the fastest accelerating cars on the roads for once!

The fun ended when I found there was no way in Hell the Fiat was going back up that hill to the garage, though… Ah well!

Snow driving is snow- oops I mean IS NO trouble at all – providing you just leave yourself a load of space to do it safely!  Look and plan well ahead, and it’s a lot of fun!

Keep it safe out there you kids – and if you haven’t already GET SOME BLOODY ADVANCED DRIVER TRAINING!  It will give you the confidence to laugh at all the other muppets out there!

There’s also a video of some in-car action and ranting.

Giving Good Head On A Bike

Giving Good Head On A Bike

Most of you will have noticed that when bikers pass each other on the road, they exchange a nod.

This may be different for you ‘Merkins and Canuks, but I hope not?  In France it’s a wave done by dropping your hand as low as you can, and I suspect other countries have different greetings, but they should all have something!  It’s another of the things that makes us all feel like one big family.  I’ve seen the same from rare cars and things like VW Camper Vans.

Or that’s what it is on the surface.  Underneath it all, there is a massive amount of snobbery and discrimination going on!

Sportsbikers and Harley riders traditionally hate each other, so most will not nod – and many people on ‘big bikes’ of any kind won’t nod to anyone with L plates or on a scooter or small bike.

I nod to all of them:

Sportsbikers because we’re the coolest.

Learners and Ped Bwoi’s because when I got a nod back off a ‘proper’ biker when I was on a 125 it felt great, and who says they’re not on a crap courtesy bike or something?

Police (bikers) because I like their momentary surprise that someone’s offered a friendly acknowledgement – plus if they ever do pull me over maybe they’ll remember me.  wink

Harley/Tourer types because those that don’t nod still try to look so moody and serious, and it makes me laugh. big grin

Last year on my way to work every morning I would pass a little kid walking to school with his Mum.  He’d nod at me as I went by, so of course I nodded back, and that became our morning ritual – probably much to the amusement of him Mum!  Maybe he’ll be on a bike someday…

The only times I won’t nod is if I’m busy watching/doing something else, or if they’re coming the other way on motorways/dual carriageways at high speed and probably won’t be looking anyway.  And even they get The Nod sometimes.

So if you haven’t seen this going on, take a look next time you see bikes passing each other, and if you’re a biker yourself make sure you do your bit for making the world a happier place just by a tiny movement of yer noggin!