This year’s Eurothrash took us from England to France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy and we almost ended up in Lichtenstein too! 2,361 miles in a week, with two rest days.

I mentioned in the last blog entry that I’d fettled the Sprint ready for the journey. As it turned out, we did a quick pack on the Friday night and found we could fill the two panniers and then put the 30 litre roll bag in the top case along with Alison’s heated inner jacket and our liners. Gloves and bits and bobs went into the Kriega US-20 strapped onto the tank.

And so it was that we were up at 3.00am to shower, pack and hit the road around 4.15am to meet up with Mark (Purge), Martin (Yox) and Josie at the Stop24 services on the M20 near the Eurotunnel at 5.30am. Despite horrific weather being forecast for the journey, the only wetness we saw was a bit of spray on the A2 out of London.  We were first to arrive and grabbed coffee and croissants at the Shell garage. Yox and Josie arrived a few minutes later on his Kawasaki Versys and we then received a message from Purge saying he’d woken up to torrential rain and would get a later crossing and meet us there!

Early start at Eurotunnel

Early start at Eurotunnel

I reset my dials and the satnav to kilometres for the rest of the trip to make it easier to work out fuel and rest stops.

Once boarded, we were told there would be a delay due to a train fault in the tunnel, so we were around 45 minutes late getting off in France. These delays continued and worsened, apparently, so that Purge had to wait hours for an eventual 1.50pm crossing and a blast down by Autoroutes to join us in Germany for our first night.

On the way down through France, we stopped off near Reims to stretch our legs at the old Formula One pit buildings of the Reims-Gueux Circuit:

Reims Grand Prix Pit Buildings

Reims Grand Prix Pit Buildings

Reims Grand Prix Pit Buildings

Reims Grand Prix Pit Buildings

We finally reached the Hotel-Landgasthof Hirsch in Neu-Ulm (mid-way between Stuttgart and Munich) at tea-time, so we showered and changed and hit the beers before dinner. Purge joined us around 9.30pm.

After a really nice breakfast on the Sunday morning we set off for Austria despite a light shower at one point, though nothing like what was forecast. Germany meant Autobahns so on one section I decided to wind the Sprint open and we hit 147mph – two-up and fully laden, don’t forget – before I backed it off down to 100mph. I wonder how fast it would have gone (especially solo and without all the gear)…

A coffee and a Snickers as we approached Austria and we were on our way.

DSCF0287 DSCF0288 DSCF0289

Into Austria and we headed down to Hall in Tirol and the Gasthof Badl.  Purge and Yox had stayed there before, but I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest. I was grateful to be proven completely wrong: a well-presented and large double room with a huge and very modern bathroom and a balcony with a wonderful view of the Alps.

Gasthof Badl (by Purge)

Gasthof Badl (by Purge)

Gasthof Badl and Bikes

Gasthof Badl and Bikes

The view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

A shower and off we went into the old town to a restaurant in the castle for the largest Weiner Schnitzel you could imagine (pork, not veal, of course).

That was our restaurant for the evening

That was our restaurant for the evening

After a huge breakfast on Monday morning, we set off into the Alps to visit the Grossglockner glacier. Some great twisty roads and stunning views on our way, too.

Panoramic View

Panoramic View

Grinning at the Grossglockner Glacier

Grinning at the Grossglockner Glacier

It had been very cold on one of the earlier passes, enough for me to switch on my heated grips and for Alison to plug in her heated inner jacket which kept her toasty warm.

Tuesday was supposed to be wet, so we planned our rest day. It wasn’t at all wet as we walked into town for coffees and then back to the hotel for beers before dinner.

Photo Opportunity

Photo Opportunity

Quick Chat

Quick Chat

Coffee Break

Coffee Break

Wednesday and we headed into Italy and Switzerland for the Jaufenpass and Stelvio Pass. Very impressive passes both, if a little cold as we passed through the snowline up to Stelvio for big hotdogs and wine just as the snow began falling. Epic twisty roads too after the light dusting dried out in the warm summer sun…

Stelvio Pass (photo by Yox)

Stelvio Pass (photo by Yox)

Stelvio Scoff (thanks Purge)

Stelvio Scoff (thanks Purge)

Jaufenpass (photo by Yox)

Jaufenpass (photo by Yox)

Stelvio Pass

Stelvio Pass

Sprint and Stelvio

Sprint and Stelvio

Sprint and Stelvio

Sprint and Stelvio

Stelvio Smiles

Stelvio Smiles

The Hills Are Alive

The Hills Are Alive

Thursday was Josie’s 50th birthday. Our plan for the day was to head to the Kehlsteinhaus or Eagle’s Nest, which was given to Hitler for his 50th birthday (which was ironic as he had a fear of heights…). Yet more stunning scenery and very twisty roads on our way to the visitor centre. On arrival in the car park, the rain started falling heavily for around 10 minutes so we stood in our waterproofs before it stopped and we boarded the truly scary convoy of buses to take us up to the retreat itself, where we stopped for lunch and the views.

Lunch at the Eagle's Nest

Lunch at the Eagle’s Nest

Too bright!

Too bright!

Stunning Views

Stunning Views

Celebratory fizz and birthday cake back at the hotel before heading up to bed.

Friday was another rest day with one or two light showers but after two days in the mountains on hairpin bends, we could all do with the rest!

Espressos and Iced Tea

Espressos and Iced Tea

Breakfast on Saturday morning was massive as usual. We then checked out – why was our bar bill so excessive again? Oops! – then it was off to Mulhouse. Purge wasn’t quite ready when we were going to head off and said he was going to go the quicker rather than the scenic route, so Yox and I headed off. A fab journey it was too through Austria and Germany (the Black Forest, mainly). We stopped at one point in Germany at Schluchsee in the mid-afternoon for drinks and ice creams by the huge lake. Purge had already reached Mulhouse and was sitting by the pool drinking beers (as per).

It's tough, this travelling

It’s tough, this travelling

Sprint at the Schluchsee

Sprint at the Schluchsee

Schluchsee

Schluchsee

We rolled into Mulhouse after another day of scenery, hairpins and hot sun and ate outside by the pool at the Golden Tulip Mulhouse Basel at Sausheim.

Sunday morning and it was up early for breakfast before heading out for our long journey back. Purge opted for the “splash and dash” whereas we opted for more Alpine scenery and a less frenetic if longer route, with me leading us into the Eurotunnel in plenty of time for the ridiculously long (and hot) wait for the UK Border Agency to let us onto the trains. Our border control is frankly pathetic compared with every other country I travel to. Such long delays coming back home.

Once back in the UK, Alison and I waved Yox and Josie off and we stopped to eat and refuel before heading home mid-evening, 2,361 miles down:

Trip Mileage

Trip Mileage

And finally, a little bit of video:

Planning for next year’s Eurothrash has already started: maybe the Italian Riviera? Accessed via Bilbao and Northern Spain, Andorra and the French Riviera?

Fettling

Well this year’s Eurothrash to Austria is now getting closer so I’m making final arrangements for kit and making sure the Sprint is ready to rock.

The wiring issues were swiftly resolved by Jack Lilley - who I was very impressed with and will now be using for all my Triumph servicing, etc. – as they found that the blowing fuse was actually a problem with the accessory lead I’d bought a while back and the lack of power to the topbox was indeed down to Metropolis Motorcycles completely failing to fit the additional wiring harness when they prepped the Sprint for me when I bought it.

Ali now has heated gloves and a heated inner jacket from Keis - very good gear, it must be said – although I’m slightly disappointed that the gloves can’t be powered from the jacket if the heavy duty temperature controller for the jacket is fitted. No idea why, either. Obviously when we pack these, it will ensure that the Austrian Tyrol remains at tropical temperatures whilst we are there…

I’ve also sourced some new straps for the Kriega luggage I used for the Pyrenees Eurothrash last year so that I can strap a US-10 or US-20 to the tank. I need to see which one will work best with the Garmin and the other controls.

I also got hold of a 30 litre waterproof rollbag from Givi that can be strapped onto the Sprint’s topbox with some nifty ROK straps if we need the extra luggage capacity over the 117 litres we already have in the topbox and panniers.

So I think at the weekend, we’ll have a rehearsal to see how much stuff we can pack, where and how, and see if we do need to think about using the rollbag and the US-20 after all. I want to avoid wearing a rucksack if possible. Last year I had 20+10+10+35=75 litres and that was more than ample for me.

As for entertainment, well the new Garmin links to my iPod that’s now under the seat our intercom seems to work well, although we haven’t tried connecting to Yox’s or Purge’s headsets yet for bike to bike stuff.

From new, I’ve always had issues with the wiring on the Sprint: I ordered it new with the heated grips and powered top-box but Triumph ship them to the dealers “as-is” and the dealers then fit the accessories.

Or they should…

In my case I discovered last night that the fuse issue appears to be a short in the accessory socket which shares the same wiring as the grips fitted by Metropolis. The moment you try to plug something in to the socket, it shorts and the fuse blows instantly (you can hear it popping if you have the saddle off).

Also, from new there has never been any power to the socket in the powered top-box. Ah. According to Triumph UK, that’s probably because Metropolis may not have fitted a relay that they needed to… {sigh}

So I’ve contacted Jack Lilley at Romford to get them to sort both issues under warranty. I’m waiting for a call back to book it in.

Why was I looking last night? I was removing the wiring for my old Tom Tom Rider and fitting the much more substantial motorcycle mount and loom for my new Garmin zumo 590LM.  This is in preparation for this year’s Eurothrash to Austria with Ali on the pillion – she was comfortable enough to fall asleep on the back the other week – and has also meant I’ve upgraded our intercom/headsets to the new Cardo scala rider G9c PowerSet.

After a few changes of plan, I put another few miles on the clock midweek by riding over to GT’s on the GT on one of the hottest days of the year, having received a load of admiring looks and remarks from colleagues at work.

I’d taken the panniers off to be able to filter through rush-hour traffic and so it was.

Friday morning and it was lashing down with rain. Fortunately I’d left some waterproof over-trousers at GT’s for her to use when she was doing her own bike lessons and test, so I wore those, but my perforated leather jacket was – sadly – doing its job perfectly: I was soaked!

So I dropped the Sprint off at Metropolis, pointed out the small issues with the bike – a missing fairing bolt, stupid plasticene indicator screws fixed with superglue, a blown fuse and too much throttle slack – and then picked up the courtesy bike which was a brand new Tiger 800 and headed home to drip dry rather than going into the office as planned.

The Tiger 800 is a bit of a gem, by the way, but I’m not sure it’s worth £8,000 with ABS: only £500 less than the Sprint GT.

Riding home and the Sprint felt much better with the throttle response being soooooo improved. Pity that Metrop told me they need to drill out the indicator/mirror screws … No shit, Sherlock! That’s what i thought they were doing.

Ah well. I just need to check they’re replaced the fuse and signed the service booklet and wash all the filth off the bike after the wet ride.

…continues.

My son came down to London to stay the weekend. Unlike his sister, Jack had never been keen as a young child to go on any of my bikes (Amy had regularly scored cool points at primary school by riding in on the back of my bikes and made sure to keep her helmet on her coat-peg). So it was that at 17, he’d never really been anywhere on the back of my bikes.

My trusty Scala Rider headset had packed up recently, so rather than doing a like-for-like replacement I had opted for the Scala Rider Teamset Pro: two headsets that link together by Bluetooth for a little bit more than an individual headset. The plan next year is to take GT on the GT (!) to somewhere in Europe – possibly Austria – on another Eurothrash so being able to talk rather than relying on taps and hand-signals would be a bonus.

So we checked that one of my helmets fitted Jack securely, hooked up the headsets, kitted him with gloves and leathers and headed down to Loomies in Hampshire via Ryka’s in Surrey. His Mum was more than a little concerned when she found out what was going on…

Jack, on the other hand, was a natural and the 160 mile roundtrip was enjoyed by both of us and being able to chat on the road was a new experience for me.

Purge was at Loomies on his equally new Ducati Multistrada and I pointed out a missing bolt from the rear mudguard … as Yox pointed out a missing bolt from my fairing! Oops! Another little thing for Metropolis to sort out at the first service in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, I’d sent off the forms to transfer another plonker plate onto the Sprint: 8000 RM. The new tax disc and authorisation arrived today, so I’ve let the insurance company know, printed off a new insurance certificate and ordered a new numberplate to fit to the bike, hopefully before the weekend…

Saturday morning found me heading out on the bus with a leather jacket and clutching my open helmet to head to Metropolis Motorcycles to pick up the Sprint. And so it was that I got off the train at Vauxhall and wandered over just as they were opening … which was just as well as it was filling up for “Crash a Triumph Day” aka Triumph Open Day with test rides aplenty.

After we’d done the paperwork and I’d laughed at the stupid warning label on the pannier liner bags (have I got to take a Triumph Technician everywhere with me?), I fired up GT with its 3.1 mile mileometer (or odometer as Triumph refer to it) reading and headed home via a petrol station to fill the tank right up. It was handy having the top box as well because I could put all my paperwork – in a neat Triumph pouch – and a Triumph T-shirt and mug in the cavernous boot.

To be fitted by a trained technician

To be fitted by a trained technician

Top Box Inner Bag. Really?

Top Box Inner Bag. Really?

So home, arriving with a little over 6 miles on the clock.

It was then that I noticed the scratches on the massive OEM silencer – the “Hoover” – which had been effectively hidden in the showroom and not showing up when I climbed onto the bike from the other side:

Scratched End Cap

Scratched End Cap

Scratched Silencer

Scratched Silencer

Now while I have told the dealer about them, it’s only important for when/if I sell the bike, because I’d already decided that I wouldn’t be happy with this profile:

Before...

Before…

… and I’d much prefer this one instead:

...and After

…and After

This has the added benefit – having removed the baffle – of releasing a lovely, deep growl from the triple engine without being too noisy, thanks to the catalytic converter in the headers/collector box (I only swapped out the silencer). Start to finish, it took me 10 minutes to fit this carbon fibre Remus Hexacone silencer. Lighter weight, smaller, shorter and better looking. And it makes the popping and banging on the overrun even better!

I then spent another 5 minutes taking off all the warning stickers from the tank before they get a chance to harden and take hold on the tank. Marvelous!

The next job was to fit the RAM mount for the satnav to the fork tops and then wire up a power lead to plug into the accessory socket. Sadly, this wasn’t actually putting out any power (and neither were the heated grips which share the same circuit) so that’s another job for the dealer to sort. I wired up another lead direct from the battery to the new powered satnav cradle from Amazon… which is also DOA! So the morning had taken a slight turn for the worse … which got much, much worse when I scraped the left pannier going into the garage due to my misjudging the width at the rear – the bike’s wider at the back than the front, even with the wide mirrors. Arse! Out with the T-Cut paste.

Finally, it was time to change into my black race leathers and matt black Arai for the full stealth effect. High viz? Schmy viz! Then off to Egham to drop off some apartment keys for Amy and then on to Epsom and the other GT for dinner.

Sunday morning and I was up and out of the house by 8.00am as I was heading down to the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu to meet up with friends for breakfast and a natter. I chose the A3 as it was a nice mixture of roads and off I went, keeping the revs and throttle openings to a modest amount as I’m running the bike in. Playing with the trip computer showed that the GT was giving over 50mpg at 90mph – on closed roads, obv! – and even with all the town riding was averaging 46mpg with a range of a little over 200 miles.

Some slight tingling through the bars at around 90 as well, so I will need to keep it just under or just over on Eurothrashes.

After a lovely time with mates, I headed back to Epsom where the other GT had finished a difficult half-marathon – “demanding”, said the website – especially in the heatwave. I was pleased to have avoided it on doctor’s orders after my GP and Consultant had told me to rest my duff knee until it’s fixed.

On the way back up the M3, a crash had slowed traffic to a halt so I was able to see what it was like to filter with the additional width. It was OK: I just had to be a little more careful and filter with less extreme prejudice than usual.

Then in the evening it was back home through more heavy traffic up to Wandsworth and a weekend of around 250 miles.

Excellent!

…and these colours are really nice (especially the blue and silver one):

http://www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk/triumph-world/news/27800

Triumph has once again teamed up with custom paint shop 8 Ball to create a limited edition run of just 50 eye-catching Sprint GTs.

Triumph has created two distinctive looks based around the standard Sprint GT colours; the first a striking pacific blue and pewter silver with scarlet red pinstripe design and the second an attention-grabbing phantom black and pearlescent bullion gold.

The bold paint schemes run across the Sprint GT’s flowing faring, fuel tank and large capacity panniers.

Just 25 bikes have been produced in each colour option ready for this summer’s touring season.

The new machines are exclusively available via the UK Triumph dealer network, priced £8,649 OTR.

130702_sprint_gt_8ball_black 130702_sprint_gt_8ball_blue

Delayed

Well just like when I bought the RX-8, I didn’t take delivery of the Sprint GT as planned on Saturday because it wasn’t ready: the (confirmed) factory recall - a minor recall to replace a detent spring, neutral switch and a small washer – wasn’t sorted so I’m now picking it up next Saturday instead.

Fingers crossed for more great weather!

Had a phone call this morning – as promised – from Metropolis letting me know there was some good news and some bad news…

The good news is that delivery of the Sprint GT is on for this Saturday! I just need to arrange my insurance now.

The bad news is that for some complicated reason, they haven’t been able to assign my vanity plate to the bike, so I’ll have to do that just as soon as the registration document arrives.

The other good news is that the weather for the weekend is looking good for some rides out with the other GT :)

And even more good news is that planning is underway for Eurotour 2014 and possibly something else this year…