What's your tried and trusted method of staying dry?
Having spent the last week touring Europe in cold and wet climates, it has occurred that no matter how you dress for the occasion, you can stay warm for the majority of the ride but staying dry has a whole new problem. You can wear as much waterproof gear as you like but when you persistently ride at speeds in driving rain with traffic spray hitting you added to a duration of several hours, less in some cases, your wet weather gear has exceeded the "waterproof" testing by a minimum of 6x so begins to let water seep, in my case flood, in to your layers which in turn makes you wet and therefore cold. I have tried many a trick to stay warm and dry but unless I cower away from heavy rain it's a losing battle...
What's your tried and trusted method of staying dry?
Do you Ride at Night?
We have all had the age old discussion of whether your a fair weather rider or an all-season one at some point in our biking lifetime. A question I have asked a few people though in recent times has brought a fairly consistent answer of "I don't really know." The question? How well does your headlight perform?
So we have ascertained which of us Ride only on dry days, sunny days, hot days etc, all of these having the one thing in common...days. How many of us actually bother to do any night riding? It's a different experience entirely, so why do so many of us never try it out? Well, lets start by figuring out what's different about it. For starters, it's obviously dark. This brings with it so many different factors to consider, generally wildlife, such as deer, badgers, rabbits and the like are prowling about during the dark quieter hours. These alone can become a huge contributing factor in our decision of whether to ride at night or not as it's not like you can really spot these beasts until it's a bit too late even when in the car so finding yourself encountering one on the bike could, I would imagine, be quite an unwanted occurrence.
What other factors change? Generally the temperatures plummet in the dark hours so unless you have good layers and decent kit you might find your fingers begin to nip as the windchill makes its way through your gloves. Your knees may start to cramp up more than usual due to the colder climate. You can't see as far ahead as your used to because the headlamp on your bike is quite often poorly aligned as plenty of testing centres don't physically get you to sit on your bike to check the headlamp beam aim. In 10 years of riding only 1 test centre I've visited has actually asked me to sit astride the bike to check the beam setting.
I would hedge a bet on approximately 85% of people I have asked, how well does your headlight perform, haven't been able to answer properly. There is something eerily enjoyable though, to be had from taking a bike out for a blast in the dead of night, from the shapes and shadows cast from your headlight shining on the trees and street furniture ahead of you to the cold crisp air that seems to find a way into your helmet even when all the vents and visor are firmly closed. The way the instrument panel glows brilliantly into life showing the vitals to you better than they look in natural daylight. The sound of the bike singing it's heart out in the still of the night, to be heard echoing round the hills for miles. You know that if any fellow biker happens to be hearing the harmonious music resonating from your exhaust, they are probably grinning from ear to ear right about now.
The next time your sat indoors during the darker nights, wondering how your going to pass an hour or two whilst the soap watchers of the household take control of the tv, go and get that bike out and take it for a blast. Afterwards you'll be able to firmly say how good your headlights really is and also you might find that you actually thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Do You Winterise?
Well old age has crept up on me and living in the Highlands of Scotland its no longer enjoyable putting on three layers to go out on the bike, in winter, and then come home cold and have to try and wash the salt and muck from it with cold water from the garden hose. That’s if the hose has thawed out enough so I can use it, otherwise its back to the buckets. After last weekend’s temperatures of minus brass monkey weather, the trusty steed is in the garage to hibernate for a couple of months till spring.
To help me prepare to winterise the bike though i turn to the internet, there’s always a forum or you tube video to help there. WRONG…. I have lost three days of my life scouring the vastness of the internet of all knowledge and still not any the wiser. I keep getting distracted by You Tube videos of people crashing on bikes in the snow and ice then onto videos of plane crashes which always somehow lead to videos of dogs and cats in ridiculous situations ….see I told you, start talking about putting the bike off the road and You Tube and the distraction sets in.
So armed with all this knowledge this is a list, not in any particular order (as Ant & Dec like to say), of what I have done, so please chip in with other ideas or helpful tips (and I don’t need any more cat video links) The bike will be stored in a block garage but without and heating for about 4 months (November to March ish)
1 SORN the bike a get cash back from the Government. But kept the Insurance running
2 Good overall clean with cold water especially in the brakes and radiators/oil cooler etc
3 Blow dry with the wifes hair dryer
4 Thin coat of ACF50 sprayed all over and rubbed into nooks & crannies with a cloth
5 Change oil – put in cheap stuff over the winter I have never done this before but reading some forums it is suggested that condensation etc builds up in the oil over winter so its better to change oil before you start up in the spring but leaving old oil in the bike over the winter is not good for it because of the pollutants and crappy stuff in the old oil may make the bike sick……hmmm don’t know about this so it was worth less than £20 of cheap stuff for peace of mind also recommended was remove the spark plugs and put a little squirt (about a tablespoon) of engine oil into the holes, then turn your engine over a few times to coat the cylinder walls by spinning the rear wheel with the bike in gear. Once everything is coated, replace the spark plugs.
6 Fuel - Now here I was not sure what to do so I went with the fill it to the brim with petrol and add a fuel stabiliser as I probably won’t use the bike till March or so. My bike has fuel injection so don’t need to drain carbs etc but the fuel pump is in the tank and needs lubrication or it dries out and causes no end of problems. Also if there only a small bit of petrol in the tank then the inside of the tank can rust.
7 Lift the tyre off the floor. Put bike on a stand or put carpet under the tyres and move it every couple of weeks so it’s not sitting on the same bit of tyre all the time. I went with the jack it up method and will spin the wheels every now and then in case the brake pads bind on in one place on the rotor.
8 Battery. Now you can remove it or plug in a battery charger/optimiser type device. I went for the optimiser cause I think it will be better for it in the long run and my wife won’t let me store a bike battery in the linen cupboard over the winter.
9 Lastly just about every forum I went on advised :- Do not run the engine for short periods of time over the storage period, this can lead to condensation due to engine and combustion byproducts in the oil. So just let it sit there till you’re ready to go again.
Lastly put a chair in the garage so you can sit a look at the bike and yearn for the better weather to get going on it again
Did I miss out anything??? Is there anything else you do that would be better or anything I suggested that’s just nonsense?
Im sat here thinking about earplugs...as random as it is when I'm sat here on the taxi rank waiting for my next "punter" I find myself gazing out the window staring into nothingness, deep in thought about those little foam things you poke in your ears to shut the world up...
Over the last last decade or so, I have gone from never wearing them to sometimes wearing them, to always wearing them. I now find myself looking at various types of earplugs and the pros and cons of each type or brand. There is so much choice out there.
Some look good, some have a great sound killing rating(dB), others are more comfortable, some allow ambient (low level noises). So what do you pick?
Clearly it's a personal choice. Ive always liked the little squishy pink and yellow Laser ones, however, they dont offer the best available sound deadening...The 3M ones that are yellow cone shaped things are far bigger (almost 3 times the size) but offer the best available protection (from earplugs of this style). i am currently using these 3M ones but find after a few hours they are ready to fall out and after a couple of uses they are destined for the file labelled LITTER.
I find myself now beginning to look at the newer Personal Gel Moulded ones that you near choke over the price of when you look at them. They range from £65 to over £250 per set. But they are guaranteed to fit your specific ear as they have been made from a mould taken from each ear. The £65 ones give you a basic complete numbness to everything around you by blocking all sound as best as possible. But according to the dB Attenuation they are no better than a basic set of plugs, other than the fitment being more "secure". The more expensive ranges then vary from having built in headphones to having sound filters that allow certain low level (Hz) noises through allowing you to hear audio instructions from satnavs and music along with general chat amongst yourselves when stopped without haveing to remove the earplugs. Most companies keep your ear profile on record too so if you lose one they can just mould a replacement and bill you half the price and ship it out. Although they do recomend taking a new mould if its been longer than a few years as your ears apparently never stop growing, but thats a different topic altogether.
So now i sit here as xmas fast approaches, in a dilema, do i order a set as a xmas gift to myself or stick with the tried and tested use and replace squishy ones...