Month: August 2017

Eurotour 2017

Eurotour 2017

 

Another Epic trip across Europe draws to a close and its time to recap and relive some of those memories. The trip took 23 days and 3000 miles, and took in Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, Switzerland.

The 3000 mile Euro Tour

The initial trip to the DFDS ferry in Newcastle is  290 miles and goes past without any problems, everyone is fresh and excited and time flies by. The DFDS Seaways operated ferry is OK , but the parking of bikes along the wall and then filling the place up with cars is pretty naff, People opening car doors onto bikes and pushing past them with bags etc is pretty bloody awful, get a grip DFDS.

Food is good but drink is ridiculously expensive, Magners and a Gin and Tonic are €15, and if you buy any duty free they keep it till the morning – licensed bandits.

 

Day 1
Nice early start in Ijmuiden, sunny dry start heading to the Hotel Nord in Rheinbach Germany, it is a 200 mile motorway slog and just needs to get done. Keep speeds down to adjust to riding on the continent. Every country has its own little thing they do that can freak you out, the Dutch are really quite well behaved and no diplomatic episodes to report. We arrive at the Hotel Nord, Hotel has seen better days but the room is clean and we are tired. The restaurant is closed so we book a taxi and go down town to the Brauhaus Rheinbach. This pub brews its own beers and does good solid pub food  – Highly recommended   Weissbier get a hammering.  Taxi back to Hotel and day 1 is over.

The BrauHaus

Day 2

Breakfast was good, Germany always does a quality breakfast. Weather is OK we set off headed to the Hotel Altenberg in Baden Baden. The route is 209 miles and is mainly back roads, no spectacular scenery yet but a pleasant run with some nice roads and wee villages. We arrive at the Altenberg. late afternoon and are greeted and show to the garage for the bikes, Hotel is really nice, quite old world and they serve food and beer so a quick clean up and change and down for beer, arrange a table for two and have a cracking meal. Make the big mistake of feeling flush at the beginning of the holiday, not checking prices of beer and food….spent a bloody fortune. Breakfast was another German Epic, the variety is staggering not really recommended stuffing your face for a day in the saddle but what the hell stuffed, packed and on the road by 10 o clock.

 

 

Day 3

Heading to the Hotel Stubai on the Brenner Pass and some proper scenery and some of the best back roads, avoiding all motorways and toll roads is the only way to go. Not entirely sure what happened today we set off early enough on a winding route heading south west through southern Germany, done this many times and its always been ok, but time seemed to slip away from us, we had been riding for 7 hours and getting nowhere. Decided to cut our losses and switch to the motorway as we entered Austria, pulled into the shell station and bought a couple of vignettes and some fuel ,recalc the twat nav to use motorways and take us straight there. Suzi looked done in. So at some speed on the Austrian motorway we blasted to the Hotel Stubai on the Brenner pass. We arrived in time for a shower and dinner, the surprise being the best Goulash Zuppe I have ever had, absolutely fantastic, server in the traditional bowl with bread , it was devoured and a few Franziskaner for good measure. Tomorrow will be better its the Brenner Pass

Hotel Stubai am Brenner

Hotel Stubai am Brenner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4

brenner

To the Brenner pass

The Brenner pass is an old friend, never get tired of this road. After a good breakfast we pack the bikes and set off. Weather is OK, cooler than previous years but bright enough. The Harley loves this road, long rolling bends ,roll on roll off cruising effortless. You could ride this road at 130mph plus but what would be the point, you would miss it all. We will be in Faaker See tonight and there are plenty of Harleys on the road in packs, or holed up in roadside cafes. Not enjoying my riding today ,headache is getting worse. We stopped just after the Italian border for fuel and a coffee. Head is banging, take the shark off and it starts to lift. Examine the helmet and discover a rubber pad stuck to the front where my  forehead touches the helmet, my other shark does not have this, so ripped it out. wow different helmet ha ha ha. The road through Italy is very busy and its single carriage way so progress is slow ,back into Austria and the traffic and roads improve. Lots of bikes on the road now as we head to Villach then Faak. We arrive at the Finkensteiner Hof mid afternoon and its time for Weiss Beir.

faaker see

time to unpack and have beer

 

 

 


The Darkside

the darkside

The Darkside

 

What is it, who does it, why do they do it, it is likely none of these questions will be answered with any real accuracy as it means different things to different people. There are a few facts that are easily understood about the Darkside.

  1. What is it: The proponent of the darkside will most likely have a car tyre fitted to the rear of their motorcycle.
  2. Who does it: Free thinkers that can evaluate the facts and reach their own logical decision.
  3. Why do they do it: A little more subjective, some are driven by cost saving, extended mileage, some like the idea of being different, some just like the look. There are some that consider there are safety advantages.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there on the internet. There are millions of miles being covered all over the USA by Darksiders, and plenty of claims being made on the advantages, it is not my intention to make any claims, or convince anyone of anything regarding tyre choice. The great thing about freedom of choice is just that, you are free to decide/believe anything you want to.

My experience so far is restricted to a Honda Valkyrie and a Michellin Primacy3 205/60/16 W rated on the rear. I had the tyre fitted and balanced and an initial pressure of 32 psi.  I made changes to the rear fender and removed the caged nuts, replacing them with coach bolts. I cut the rear fender to give the bike a slightly more modern look.

vlak2

The first few miles were torture, I could not believe how badly the bike felt, trying to climb into the verges on every bend, although fair to say on straight roads it felt planted, more so than a bike tyre. I decided to experiment with tyre pressure and took it down to 26psi, this was a more comfortable option but felt a bit loose on corners, bit of wiggle here and there. So increased to 28 then 30 then 34 and finally 37psi. There it was suddenly it felt so much better. Have stuck at 37psi as my sweet spot.

Riding style changed slightly putting slightly more body weight into bends, a little more concentration, bit like riding an EVO with a 240 on the rear and the primary kicked out an inch. The rest has just been adjustment, understanding and concentration. Having done a few thousand miles in some testing conditions I have made a few observations. The setup is less forgiving than a bike tyre would be, hustling through twisties requires smooth riding and concentration. This is something you naturally adjust to and at the moment the bike feels fine in wet or dry roads. It is a cruiser, it was built for cruising, Although it is one of the better handling cruisers, it does not have the ground clearance to be a hero with knee sliders.

The economics of the choice are clearly understood. A rear Metzeler tyre is about £170 fitted and balanced. This tyre lasts me between 5 and 6k being slightly heavy handed and doing a lot of riding loaded up with camping gear. The Michellin Primacy 3 cost me £90 fitted and balanced. The anecdotal opinions vary on tyre life but 20 to 25k is generally being bandied around. That is £680 worth of Metzeler against  £90 of Michelin, that is a huge saving.

The choice of tyre was dictated by a number of factors. It rains a lot in Scotland so wet weather performance was important. The Michelin had good write ups and reviews. The speed rating is W rated, 168mph which is well outside the bikes top speed. Inside the carcass of the Primacy 3, Michelin have used twin steel belts to better reinforce the integrity of the tyre – aiding in a balanced ride quality and  long life performance.

The tyre had a nice profile , lots of bends in Scotland 🙂

Interesting update the tyre must wear in, as handling has improved as the miles clock up. It is actually getting to the point where i cannot tell the difference. Very stable on long journeys fully loaded with camping gear.

 

 

 

Links to Darkside information:

http://darkside.nwff.info/?p=tires

http://www.valkyrienorway.com/darkside.html

http://lifeisaroad.com/stories/2004/10/27/theDarkSide.html

http://carandbiker.co/ricks-valkyrie-road-trip-travels-on-the-dark-side/

http://mcdarksiders.forumotion.com/

http://ridermagazine.com/2016/05/20/tales-from-the-dark-side-putting-car-tires-on-motorcycles/