The New (Sensible) Beast

The New (Sensible) Beast

Soon I will be required to commute to work on a motorbike – just like the good old days!

Because I’ve already ridden my ZX9R on snow and ice, I decided this time to get something a bit more sensible.

As I’m doing this to keep travel costs down, I decided I need something that looks a bit tatty, very reliable, easy to work on myself, cheap to buy, run and tax, and something that isn’t too nickable to thieves.  There’s only so much I can compromise, so I also wanted something with a bit of poke to it, that wouldn’t depress me every time I straddled it, and a fairing would be nice, too.

A 500cc maximum pointed me towards the kind of boring bikes you do your test on – Honda CB500, Kawasaki EN500, Suzuki GS500 or Kawasaki GPZ500.

I wanted to pay well under £1000 for a bike on the road, and found it’s possible to have any of these for that money, but you really have to get lucky to find a CB500 under this with long tax, MOT and tyres.

After viewing a few shitters, I saw a faired GPZ500 (EX500 Ninja to you Yanks) that fit the bill, made an offer on it, and rode it away the next day.  Sorted.

I have to say I’m a bit embarrassed by it.  It’s like having mongy girlfriend does the job for you, but you don’t really want to get into a discussion about her with your mates down the pub, because you KNOW you’ve compromised for something easy and available.

I thraped it on a long motorway run showing it no mercy straight away, and nothing fell off or leaked.  I even scraped my toes on that same ride back after buying the bike.

It’s got skinny little tyres and the suspension feels a bit wobbly in the corners, and I have no idea how far I actually CAN lean it over before something solid touches down and I fall off and tear my petticoat.  So I’m a bit wobbly on it as I try and push to build up confidence… *NOTE* This has improved since checking the tyre pressures last night, and adding around 30psi to the rear to bring it up to around 33psi…

And it’s got a ‘Vee Rubber’ rear tyre!  WTF is THAT???  I know it heats up very quickly, but that’s probably more to do with me not checking pressures for the first few days.  Then finding about 2.5psi in the rear.  It might even be a bit less wobbly in corners now!

The GPZ500 allegedly has 60hp – so 10 more than the other ‘less sporty’ bikes mentioned above – will do 60mph in under 4 seconds, and tops out at 120mph.

All of which is of course bullshit.  Mayyyyyyyyybe it’ll see 120 on the clocks on a 10 mile salt flat, bu I doubt that’s the real speed.  0-60 I don’t even want to think about or I’ll cry.  At least I’d have time to get off the bike, find some tissues in a supermarket, buy them, and then get back on before it actually hit 60mph.

Brakes are ok, but I don’t think a track day will be on the cards for this one.

It’s my first time on a parrallel twin, too.  It reminds me a lot of my very first Yamaha TZR 125.  It’s light, needs loads of revs to do anything, and even has a slightly 2-strokey Old Bike Smell.

It’s actually quite fun to ride because you feel you can just fling it around everywhere!  I’m probably already riding it more antisocially than my 9r!

But it’s not fully fun.  I get my confidence from a new bike by scraping my knee.  Is it even possible on a GPZ?  How hard should I push for this, considering I really bought it to get from A-B through traffic?

I suspect it will just be a reliable runaround that goes forever.  Maybe I’m getting old…


VEHO VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Mini CamCorder – Initial Review

VEHO VCC-005-MUVI-HD10+ Mini CamCorder – Initial Review

I have a new cam!  I don’t know if it’s because it’s so new, but there is no information online about this yet that I can find?!

Anyway, Neru on my blog drew my attention to the fact that Veho have a new cam out – everyone seems to list the VCC-005-MUVI-HD7 but when I looked I could see a HD10 – with higher 1080 resolution – so I decided to pay the extra and get that one.

Most of you will have heard my high praises for the Veho Muvi Pro which I have used for around a year now.  There are some failings of this cam, but overall it’s better than the cheap MD80 copy, and for the price has never let me down.  Having used it there are features I’ve found I’ve needed, though, such as: ability to take an external mic (for narration whilst vlogging or overall better sound), GET RID OF THE -ING TIME/DATE STAMP, preview screen for alignment/playback, longer battery life, and higher resolution.

Well Veho have addressed some of these with a proper HD camera with (claimed) 4 hour (1400mah) battery life and a 1.5″ colour screen included!  In addition this had a remote control unit, digital 4x zoom, ability to take 32GB micro SD cards, 8MP still photographs (weirdly EVERY spec I’ve found says 5MP as per the HD7) and loads more!

I found one on Ebay for £129.99, and the temptation was too much.

First impression is that it comes as standard with loads of accessories – I’ve got 4x velcro straps, 2x stretchy straps, 2x flat mounting plates, 1 concave mounting plate, 1 velcro mounting plate, more sticky-backed velcro, and 3x different holder thingies!  More than what it says I should get, actually!


I was also a bit gutted to see it’s around four times bigger dimensionally than the Muvi – but I suppose that’s to be expected…  It just means crafting new mounting if I don’t get on with what’s supplied.

It looks well made.  I’m prodding it now and can’t tell if it’s case is metal or plastic because it’s coated in that grippy matt stuff.  I think it could be metal.  The touchscreen-type buttons on the rear are a bit too sensitive and easy to touch whilst it’s on.

This has full HD support with an HDMI out socket and AV out (untested) and the usual USB port for charging/data transfer.

An initial test run in the car showed it recorded for over 1 hour and the new battery level gauge was only exhausted by one third – so it seems reasonable to expect at least 3 hours.  This took over 3GB of memory from the 4GB card supplied, so a memory upgraded is highly recommended.  Recharge time (it also now tells you when the battery is fully charged by a flashing light which turns constant) seems to be an hour or less to replace the hour or so used.

It has sliders again for on/off and voice activation which is great to stop false in-pocket activation, and seems to wake up and record in around a second from the remote control.  Shutter speed for still pics is pretty slow but quality is good at 8MP.

Oh, and the other thing putting me off buying this camera is that it has a 160 degree lens, and so a bit fish-eyed!  This seems to be less intrusive than I thought, but until I get it on the bike I won’t know for sure.

Performance in the dark seems a bit poor.  Probably the same as the Muvi Pro, I think.  Very grainy even under flourescent lights, but daytime seems like the promised improvement.  Vibration whilst taped to my cars rear view mirror wasn’t a factor, and I have to say it appeared to pick up ambient sounds much better than the Muvi Pro.  Where the Muvi Pro barely picked up in-car conversation and virtually none of the engine noise, this HD10 picked up both.  It remains to be seen how it copes with the 12,500rpm roar and vibrations of a Kawasaki ZX9R superbike…

Specifications as given on

Resolution Full HD 1080p
Cmos lens 5 Mega pixel    (***Surely this is 8MP??***)
Memory included 4GB (Micro SD) Max 32GB
Frame rate 30fps
Battery 1400mah Lithion rechargable
Angle 160 degrees
Screen 1.5″ LCD – Bright colour
Record time up to 3 hours continous recording
Wireless remote range 5 metres
Weight 81g
Dimensions H 80mm x W 47mm x D 19mm