Roadcraft for Christmas?

Roadcraft1If your wife says that you are terrible to buy a Christmas present for, drop the hint that a copy of the new edition of Motorcycle Roadcraft would go down well.

There’s a new edition out this year – and there’s a new edition of Roadcraft (for car drivers) too.  The last new edition was in 1996 so this  ends a 17 year  wait.  Be careful you don’t end up buying a leftover copy of the old edition, which is what’s still on offer on Amazon etc.  Buy from the official website of Safe Driving for Life to ensure you get the latest version, which has the cover illustrated here.

These books are written jointly by the Police, DSA and a few other interested expert bodies, so they are textbooks on the subject rather than an easy read.  They have a reputation for being the absolutely top of the tree guide on advanced riding and they provide excellent, in-depth coverage of the subject.

I haven’t read this new edition yet (I’ve just ordered a copy) but if it’s anything like as good as the last one, it’s going to be well worth the money.  Maybe not the sort of book you can read cover to cover in one go, but certainly something to get your teeth into in order to really develop your riding skills.  Not exactly cheap at £16.99 per copy either but that’s less than one tank of petrol on your GoldWing, and well worth the money.

Roadcraft2If you have never got around to learning advanced riding and fancy a lighter read to start with, ask for a copy of How to be a Better Rider, which is the IAM book on the subject.

This one takes you through the skills required to pass the IAM Advnaced Rider Test in a systematic way; every sentence dripping with common sense and wisdom.

This provides easy, enjoyable and highly informative reading – and it’s cheaper at only £9.99.   This book is probably in the bookshops too but you can buy on line directly from the IAM Shop at the same price.


Back on Two Wheels for a Change

Basking in the sun at Slaidburn

I am enjoying riding, or rather learning to ride my GL1000 sidecar combination and the hip problem which caused me to get rid of my GL1800 is still there, but I decided to get Gloria, my 1986 GL1200 SEi out of storage at the same time as Edward and last week, on what seemed like the only dry day, I got a chance to take Gloria out for a spin.

My last proper solo motorcycle ride had been about eight months ago, so I was bound to be a bit rusty on my motorcycling skills and set my sights low accordingly.  I would wait for a dry day and just go for a gentle potter, as befits an ageing rider who has foresworn footpeg-scraping anyway.  Gloria’s fork bushes need replacing anyway, so that would be another reason to take things at a gentle pace.  And of course the power difference; a Gl1200 is nothing like as torquey or powerful as a GL1800 so overtaking would certainly have to be more selective.

Initially however I would simply potter through town and on local roads to get the feel of being on two wheels, the combination of roundabouts, traffic lights and other junctions being well suited to get me comfortable with starting, stopping and turning again. And I managed after a fashion, a bit unsteadily at first but I gradually got smoother and at least I remembered to put a foot down as I stopped and my left hip allowed me to do so.

As I gained confidence that my hip wasn’t going to the serious problem it had been last year continues………

Riding a Sidecar Outfit

Edward the Executive on delivery day 7 years ago, with William, our former Dalamtion, who was only 5 at the time

Sometimes I write articles about things I’m relatively new to, but usually I can make up for that by doing some research so that I’m not floundering as complete novice.  This time it’s different – I am a complete novice, or almost.  Indeed as I write this I’ve just completed my very first proper ride out on a sidecar outfit –so I think that qualifies me pretty well as a novice.

I have owned a GoldWing sidecar combination for over seven years and I did get some brief training from an expert when I bought it, consisting of riding left and right hand turns on a hotel cark park up the road.  I subsequently did some more tight circles on the drive at home to give my grandson a go in the sidecar and perhaps one other local ride-out to give it a run and warm the engine before parking it up for storage and that was it.

I was heavily committed to long distance touring on my GL1800 at the time and although I intended to keep the sidecar outfit on the road it wasn’t realistic to do enough to acquire the necessary skills.  At least I had the sense to run the carburettors dry when I last rode it, otherwise getting it back into commission would have been even more of a job.

As the bike was uncovered prior to revitalising, the Road Tax disk was seen to be dated 2005 it had spent over seven years in storage. The battery had long ago expired and since the engine hadn’t turned in years the timing belts would need changing at the very least. continues………

Dear Stuart ….. Leaning into bends and on roundabouts

Editorial Note:  I get enquiries for advice from time to time and always try to reply helpfully – and they often raise issues which could be of general interest so I have decided to start publishing them, together with my reply.

A writer’s contact details will never be published but normally I will include the name and an indication of locality.

In this case I was asked not to do so and have therefore complied.

Dear Stuart,

I live in Ireland and ride a Golding 1800. I am in my early fifties and went back biking about two years ago did my test in UK ( Direct access).  Just wondering if you could point me in the right direction.

I’m having a little difficulty with leaning the bike into bends and especially at roundabouts.  I read your article about the track days and wondering if you could recommend a good advanced course in the UK .   I keep practising slow riding and U turns but can’t seem to snap the bike into a turn , as seen on the you tube videos from the USA. I can do a U turn but I am sitting up straight.

I would love to be able to scrape the pegs – not for fun but just in case I ever had to lean hard on a bend. I understand you may not have the time to reply to strangers like me, but and help would be very much appreciated.

By the way I have tried two different advanced instructors here in Ireland but did not have a great experience with them. One guy told me to get rid of the Golding as it was not suitable for Irish roads. He also told me not to slip the clutch slow riding and it will burn out. Thanking you in advance.   Regards J. continues………

GoldWing versus Boeing – which is quicker off the mark?

The Pacific island of Nauru - with the runway showing at the bottom of the picture.

I came across an interesting Blog Article by a retired airline pilot who used to fly into a small pacific island, where the locals would race the departing aircraft using a road which was close and parallel to the runway.

One of the bikes was a GoldWing GL1500.

The Article is well written and interesting, especially to learn which was in the lead, bike or plane, as they got up to 80 mph.

I won’t spoil the story by telling you the answer but you can read the Article for yourself by Clicking Here.

By the way if you are ever offered a used GL1500 which has been imported from Nauru it would probably be wise to give it a miss.

Winter Riding – So extra hazards and extra care – or simply lay up the bike until Spring?

When the going gets tough ....

Our Indian Summer is over and the leaves are falling big time, even though the air temperatures became mild again temporarily last weeekend.  If you haven’t already done it this is a good time to decide whether to lay the Wing up for the winter or prepare properly for riding in winter conditions.

The risk of snow and ice is still low, unless you live or ride on very high ground, and there are still riding events and activities on the calendar to be enjoyed as well as the occasional day when the weather presnets a glorious riding opportunity.  Last Saturday here in Lancashire was such a day and I’m now kicking myself that I didn’t grab the opportunity.  The Manchester Salvation Army Toy Run is also coming up (November 19th) and there are other worthwhile (and worthy) events still to come too.

If you decide to lay the bike up for the winter, as I might have to do in order to face another hip operation, then it’s important to give it a little care and attention as you do so.   Dave Partridge, proprietor of AwingAway and Tecnical Editor for the Federation Website  wrote a very helpful article on Laying up your GoldWing last year which you might want to read again.

And if you are going to lay the bike up don’t forget that you can surrender your tax disc and get a refund from DVLA; I discovered after an interesting series of encounters with our local DVLA Office that timing your arrival at about ten minutes before they close, so 4.50pm, even on their bsuier days, ensures a short or no queue at all or anyway some pretty snappy service because they all want to go home.  If you haven’t read it, my article about the DVLA has its entertaining moments.

But let’s not get too defeatist that the biking season is over just yet.  Let’s think about continuing to ride as winter approaches – and therefore about the implications for our riding skills and style, the extra things we need to look out for and deal with as hazards on autumn roads. continues………

CB Radio-assisted overtakes – or will they turn out to be collisions?

Safe to overtake?

Lots of GoldWings are equipped with CB radio so that bike-to-bike communications is available to some if not all during a group ride.  Chatting on the radio can add both enjoyment and humour to a ride, as I was reminded recently when we were out in a small group, all on CB, and while passing a primary school Ian announced that it was his old school – and that he had been kept back by his teacher at the age of five for not being able to draw a frog.

For some reason this really tickled me and it was fortunate that there was nothing complicated to do in the way of riding at the time because I couldn’t stop laughing for ages.  This early but major life-event had clearly scarred him deeply.  I couldn’t stop laughing again when he confessed sadly that he still couldn’t draw a frog.

I can still remember laughing out loud the first time I heard Dennis chirp out of nowhere with “So I said to this horse, why the long face?”.  It was very funny. Of course Dennis did have a tendency to say the same thing quite frequently and it wasn’t quite so funny every time but on lots of tours I did with Elite Wings the CB radio was both useful and entertaining.

CB communication is also useful in a number of ways for group riding and it can make dropping off or other ways of keeping everyone on route and together almost completely unnecessary.  Of course CB only works reliably “line of sight” and out to a maximum of about mile so it’s not the complete solution. continues………

Scraping your foot pegs on a GoldWing – why on earth would you want to do it?

Until very recently it wouldn’t have occurred to me to write on this subject and I certainly wouldn’t have considered myself in any way qualified to do so.

in the wake of my second proper session on a race track, when I did 50 plus laps, most of which involved scraping the foot pegs on most of the bends for most of the time, the old brain started ticking and it occurred to me that what I had been doing that day was potentially useful on the roads as well as a fun experience on the track.

So, I’m now a bit better informed but can it really be useful on the road to have had the experience of scraping your foot pegs in this way?  Are there any circumstances in which you would want to touch ground with your foot pegs on a GoldWing on the road, other than for showing off?

During my early days on a Wing, riding a GL1200 and before I developed any sort of appetite for “making progress”, as the IAM calls it, I had no thought at all of leaning over far enough to scraping anything on the ground and thought, as I suppose most Wingers do, that riders who do that sort of thing must be barmy.

I suspect that some of my fellow IAM riders on that day think I was barmy for chucking my GL1800 around on the track like that, especially the guy on a replica Repsol Fireblade, wearing the matching riding gear, whom I tried to overtake on one of our warm up laps because he was getting under my feet.  He didn’t let me, the spoilsport, he just accelerated away.  I had no illusions that I could out perform a Fireblade on a racing circuit riding a GoldWing unless he had been willing to let me come past but I would have claimed the bragging rights anyway at the next IAM Group Meeting.

So scraping foot pegs on a GoldWing is for showing off and nothing else – right?  Well no, actually I don’t think it is.  Being confident that you can scrape your GoldWing’s footpegs can be very useful, as I’ll try to explain. continues………

Fitting a Blackwing Fork Brace to a GL1500 – by Ian Duxbury

Parts supplied


Having read many good reviews about fork braces for the GL1500, it seemed like a good idea to fit one to my trusty Wing.  As my birthday was also approaching, this was a golden opportunity not to be missed when family asked “What do you want for your birthday?”

The question was, though, which one?

The front runner in the brace stakes seemed to be the Superbrace which has been around for a little while, but appeared to have the disadvantage of not allowing the chrome cover above the mudguard (fender?) to fully sit home after fitting, but leaving an ⅛” gap between the two.

Searching a well known auction site, (oh, go on then, Ebay), revealed an alternative in the shape of the Blackwing Brace.  Having read the description of the brace and its advantages over its competitors, I was beginning to warm to the idea.

Further digging showed there to be a video on You Tube which demonstrated the fitting of the brace with the absolute minimum of dismantling and in less than approx 15 minutes.

So, the choice was made and my brace was duly ordered (thanks, Lynette and son, Alex!) and I settled back to eagerly await its arrival. This, I’m pleased to say, happened today, but I should point out just a continues………

Honda supporting the National Ride to Work Day

Honda Staff at their Slough HQ

Staff at Honda’s UK head office came out in force today to take part in a range of two-wheel activities, in support of the annual National Ride To Work Day.

More than fifty riders, many carrying a colleague as a pillion, rode their various Honda machines into the Company’s Head Office near Slough, where everyone gathered for a group photograph and ‘bikers’ breakfast’, joined by hundreds of non-rider colleagues from both the car and power equipment areas within the business as well.

Honda motorcycle models spanning over 30 years, from the Honda 400 Four Supersport from the late 1970s, to a GoldWing took part – highlighting Honda’s diverse range of scooters and motorcycles as well as their impressive longevity in engineering as well as appeal.  (This is based on a Honda Press Release – you’d never guess would you!)

Other staff took the opportunity to experience life on two wheels for the first time either by taking a continues………

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