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OK, maybe not that slight then: the police and the press referred to my SMIDSY* crash injuries as being “life-changing” and the Sprint GT is unlikely to see the late of day again, sadly.

Dead Sprint GT

So what happened?

Well on Sunday 7th July 2019, I had tickets to go to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and despite it raining hard when I woke up, as I had a ticket for a mate (whose partner had bought her own one) I decided to go anyway.  The day was OK and brightened up a bit later and we decided to head home around 4.00pm. As we were on bikes – my Sprint and Yox’s R1200GSA – we knew we could filter past all the cars trying to leave at the same time. I needed petrol so added a petrol stop 10 miles down my route home and off we went.  I wasn’t in a rush as Alison was due to go out with a friend for meal and to see “Magic Mike XXL Live” and the roads although mainly dry still had some damp spots under the trees.

And that’s when it all went wrong: as I was filtering past some traffic next to The Badgers at Petworth on the A285, a young guy in a Toyota Yaris decided to either turn into the pub or do a U-turn without signalling or waiting for me to pass.  I had no chance of stopping in time to avoid the collision, so down I went – clearly I’d not been going fast or I’d have flown over the bonnet/roof rather than (as it transpired) going down the side of his car before being run over by the same car!  According to the police, the pub’s CCTV has the whole crash on video; I really want to see it to understand how I ended up getting run over (I even had tyre marks on my stomach).

So yes, the injuries are serious.  Two doctors driving along stopped and immediately called the Air Ambulance to come and get me (which is when I came to, just as they were loading me into it to fly me to Brighton.

At Brighton, they assessed my injuries and decided they couldn’t deal with them all there and I needed to be transferred to a dedicated trauma hospital, St George’s at Tooting. What they did first was try to stabilise my hand injuries: the crash had “de-gloved” my left hand ring finger and little finger, stripping off the skin and flesh around the bones whilst still inside my gloves. They also had to cut off my wedding ring which was a tad painful…

So a late night ‘blues and twos’ ambulance transfer it was to St George’s.

The following day I had 12 hours of surgery on my hand to try to rebuild the fingers including grafts of flesh, tendons and veins from my forearm.

A week of treatment with leeches followed to try to encourage the fingers to ‘take’ but sadly it was not to be so on the 15th July whilst finally having surgery to pin my broken pelvis, they amputated my ring finger and the top of my little finger and to pin my left hand.

In the meantime, I’d also had my jaw pinned and plated as it had been broken in three places.  They’d also put a load of orthodontic metalwork in to line the teeth up again.

After a week in intensive care drugged up to my eyeballs on morphine, I was released onto a ward where I started receiving physiotherapy to get me up onto a frame, then crutches for me to try climbing stairs on one leg (the other being non-weight bearing as that’s the badly broken side of the pelvis).

On Friday 2nd August, I was allowed to go home as I’d mastered (ish) stairs and I’m now going backwards and forwards to St George’s for ongoing checks, X-rays and procedures and hoping to start physiotherapy next week whilst still trying to do a little bit of work when I can.

I still can’t walk, I may still have to have my little finger amputated and i may need to have my jaw re-broken and plated to line it up properly. Nice…

According to my discharge summary, my injuries are as follows:

  • bilateral mandible fractures
  • displaced right thyroid cartilage (fractured larynx)
  • comminuted fracture of right inferior and superior pubic rami (pelvis)
  • left sacral fracture with left extension and resultant diasthasis
  • C6 & C7 spinous process (neck/spine)
  • left L4 & L5 transverse process fractures (lower back/spine)
  • left little finger broken and partial amputation
  • left ring finger broken and largely amputated
  • left hand fourth and fifth metacarpals broken

In addition to this, I have BPPV that will need to be sorted – my temple was badly bruised as it was under my right ear.

Anyway, here are some cool X-rays and 3D scans that show my now-displaced jaw and the metalwork in my pelvis that may need to be removed:

So now I have to recuperate as much as I can – I can’t grow new fingers – and I need to buy new bike gear to replace all my stuff that was either trashed or cut off me.

The Sprint looks too badly damaged to be economically repaired so it looks like I’ll be buying a Tiger 1200 next year after all.

* SMIDSY:  “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You” often spoken after a car drive who didn’t look knocks a motorcyclist off their motorcycle.

A Sad Case

So after the test ride earlier this week, I have been doing more digging. When I dropped it off, Jack Lilley noted that the Adventure luggage was lower so maybe that was an option? Sadly looking at the Triumph accessories online I see that whilst the luggage looks like it would fit better, it would mean a further drop in capacity, from the Expedition’s 116L (already -1L from the Sprint GT) to 97L.

You can see the difference in position of the panniers between the two sets and also the way the top box – which is bizarrely canted forward – encroaches more into the pillion space the Expedition luggage. So to stay Triumph-branded luggage, the Adventure set would be the answer, but you lose nearly 20L of luggage space from the Sprint.

Over on Givi’s website, their solution looks much better with the same size (or larger) panniers – they’re actually the same ones made for Triumph anyway – and a better rack system that puts the top box up higher, further back and straight up (and again, there’s a much larger top box on offer too).

So maybe the answer is to go for the Triumph panniers (to keep the branding side-on), a set of Givi pannier frames to mount them further back and lower as shown in this video and a ‘matching’ Givi top box in the larger size, plus asking Jack Lilley very nicely to order me another lock barrel so one key fits the lot.

Today was cold and bright: ideal to test the Tiger and its heated seats.

I picked it up from Jack Lilley and headed back home to pick up my wife.  They’d fitted the accessory Expedition panniers and top box as requested (more on this later).

As it’s not my bike, I couldn’t wire in the Garmin so instead I just mounted a Quadlock mount and my iPhone XS for navigation duties and then we set off for the South Coast and a mix of roads.

211 miles later and we’re home – too late to return it today, so it goes back tomorrow as agreed.

So then, is it a new Tiger ahoy! Well, if it were just me riding it then yes, in a heartbeat. It’s fabulous. But as we do like to ride together, i.e. with a pillion, it’s a no from me at present? Why?

Pros

  • Seating position means little weight on the wrists – mine are bad – so all the weight on your bum instead.
  • Cruise control is excellent. A little savage when you turn it off (either by rolling the throttle forward (best) or braking (worst).
  • Quickshifter is excellent (although my Sprint’s gearbox is silky smooth for clutch-less up changes).
  • Power is better than the Sprint: it just takes off over 5,000rpm
  • Heated grips are very good
  • Heated seat is even better
  • TFT dash is fabulous
  • Electrically-operated screen works well on the move, but there’s some buffeting
  • Shaft drive is great

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Range was worse than expected, coming in under 180 miles
  • Clutch bit very late in the lever range
  • No-hands riding showed a bias towards the left for some reason
  • Luggage seemed very small, although allegedly only one litre smaller than the Sprint’s. You can only get one full-face helmet in the luggage.
  • Clasps on the luggage were very fiddly.
  • Panniers were way too high and forward which meant that it was difficult for me to get on an off and even worse for pillions. Also that meant that her legs were uncomfortable and my body forced her legs wide into the panniers.
  • Top box too high and canted forward into the pillion space, so that was uncomfortable too. There’s no reason for it to lean into the pillion seat space and lose space for the rider and pillion together.

Given the luggage is Triumph-branded Givi luggage, it’s unforgivable that the Givi frames are lower and further back, exactly what’s needed! And why should you pay an extra £152 to get the frames after you’ve spent £820 on the panniers themselves (unforgivable on a touring bike)?

Here’s a video of someone showing the before and after fix for the panniers:

Now, what about that mounting plate for the top box? Another Givi one maybe?

But as it is, the Tiger 1200 is not good enough for me.

Work, Work, Work

So my planned extended test ride all went to pot when, instead of relaxing after a long-haul flight back from Johannesburg, I had to travel instead to San Francisco to win some work for us, meaning three long-haul flights in as many days and losing the weekend as a result.

Fast forward a couple more weeks and more changes – a potential client meeting in Stockholm – and I’m now trying to squeeze in a proper test ride before April. Luckily Jack Lilley have been really accommodating, including truncating this week’s planned two day ride into just the one day tomorrow without complaint and fitting the bike with a full luggage set so we can see if they clash or make things uncomfortable on the back.

I’ve mentioned previously on my Triumph Sprint GT blog that the problem with so-called “Adventure Bikes” is that the manufacturers make them and then add a few thousand to the cost of the bike and then charge you extra for the luggage that anyone who buys one of these things will want to fit anyway!

Back in 2013, my Sprint GT with all the luggage, heated grips and a comfort gel seat, etc. came in at £8,500 whilst the then Triumph Tiger was £11,000+ and the Ducati Multistrada was £17,000, or twice the price of the Sprint.

Over the past 5½ years, I’ve only done a little under 10,000 miles on the Sprint, mainly on “Eurothrashes” as we call them. After my last one to France, Spain and Andorra, my right hand index finger was numb for a number of weeks which I put down to a combination of vibration and all my weight being on my wrists.

The latter was largely resolved by fitting bar risers but that then shifted more weight to my bum, so a Corbin seat was sourced from the USA at great expense and it seems pretty good.

I’m still left riding an older bike with good luggage capacity, nice looks and a good engine, but with dated and fairly awkward trip computer and no cruise control which is a real issue given that most of the Death Star’s mileage is done in big hits and hundreds of motorway miles to get to the fun roads.  All of these issues are resolved in the latest Adventure Bikes, like the latest BMW R1250GS Adventure – aka the Clitoris (“because every c**t’s got one”) – and the updated 2019 Triumph Tiger 1200.  Talking of the GS, a mate has finally changed from his venerable Kawasaki Versys to a BMW R1200GS Adventure because the 1200 stock was being shifted before the new model came out and he grabbed a bargain.  Being the Adventure, the BMW comes with a massive 30 litre tank capacity giving it a 350 mile tank range unlike the ‘normal’ R1200GS and its 20 litre tank (the same size as the Tiger 1200 and indeed my Sprint GT), so a 200+ mile range. Frankly, that’s not really an issue for me as I usually like to stop and stretch my legs every 100-150 miles anyway.

As I wrote last summer, when the Death Star was in for a service, I borrowed a Tiger 1200 and reported that:

“I test rode the new Tiger 1200 XRt at the same time. Good power, much more upright riding position and all of the toys, including cruise control and heated rider and passenger seats as well as automagic suspension adjustment. On the minus side, after not too long riding it, I had a numb bum so how it would cope with a Eurothrash, I didn’t know.”

At the London bike show at the ExCel last weekend, Mrs Me and I sat on a Tiger 1200 XRt and thought it felt OK, but that the luggage space seems much smaller than the Death Star’s. I’ve just checked and the Death Star has 117 litres of luggage space (standard panniers and top box) and the Tiger 1200 accessory Expedition luggage space totals 116 litres, but that top box looks tiny by comparison.

Looking at my Sprint blog, I’ve been umming and ahhing about a Tiger 1200 (or Tiger 1200 Explorer, as it was known previously) for a couple of years now.  The upright riding position – especially coupled with cruise control – means that my old and decrepit wrists should fare much better, so it’s all down to the seat. The best way to find out whether the (heated) seats are any good on longer runs is to try one out properly and Jack Lilley at Romford (or East London Triumph) have kindly offered me one in a couple of weeks for an extended ride. I intend using one of Ride magazine’s routes around the South Coast (GPX file) and stay over at a mate’s house (he’s a great chef…).

The bonus is the bike they may be letting me try is in the white that we like:

We shall see…

 

So today it’s five years since the Death Star – as it’s been called – came home.

I celebrated by taking it to get its MoT done – another pass – along with an annual service at Jack Lilley Romford.

It has now covered 9,484 miles (2017 6,954 miles and 2016 5,516 miles).

I test rode the new Tiger 1200 XRt at the same time. Good power, much more upright riding position and all of the toys, including cruise control and heated rider and passenger seats as well as automagic suspension adjustment. On the minus side, after not too long riding it, I had a numb bum so how it would cope with a Eurothrash, I didn’t know. Oh and the small matter of it costing £17,800 with panniers and top box! Ouch! Remember that the Sprint GT was only £8,500 (£9,500 today with inflation).

So I’m hoping that with the bar risers fitted, the Death Star might have a few years’ life left in it yet. I’ll find out tomorrow when I’m planning a blast around Kent and East Sussex.

Well Eurothrash was upon us once again and this time it was decided that we – me, Yox and Purge again – would head once more to the Pyrenees. Yox as usual was charged with sorting out routes and he did us proud again:

Eurothrash 2017: the Route

So after work on the Friday, I headed down to Portsmouth to meet up with the two of them for a pint of two at a nearby pub before boarding the overnight ferry to Caen. The weather forecast was a bit dodgy but it didn’t really rain until it was time for boarding.

Once on board, the drinking theme continued, despite our knowing that the forecast was not particularly good:

“Let me explain…”

Les Miserables

After a couple of hours’ kip in our compact and bijou 4-berth cabin, we got up, had coffee and a croissant and ventured out into the light rain; I didn’t bother to put on my waterproof oversuit as I thought I’d leave it to the “waterproof” Triumph Taloc leathers, Alpinestars Gore-Tex boots and Rukka Gore-Tex gloves to sort things out, which they did. At one point during the day it got a little nippy, so at one fuel stop, I grabbed my Keis heated vest and plugged it in as well as turning on the heated grips and was toasty-warm!

After 500 miles or so, we got separated near to our first stop at Lurbe-Saint-Christau and I followed the Garmin to our hotel, the Au Bon Coin which, from the outside and being in the middle of nowhere, didn’t look like much. Inside, however, it was comfortable and our dinner – after a couple of beers – was really tasty.

Time for beer!

After breakfast on Day Two, we set off for Spain and the Hotel Cotori in El Pont de Suert where we’d stayed in 2013.  This really is a fabulous hotel and one I’d stay in again and again.

En route, we stopped off for some coffee as Yox had brought his coffee-making kit with him, so we did some off-roading (!) to ride down to a river – well, excluding Purge who refused to take the ZZR1400 down the gravel embankment – only to find that there was a disaster! Yox’s cafetière had smashed! So we ended up sieving the coffee through a tea towel to allow us to have the elixir of life before finishing our ride.

And here’s some video of Yox and I getting up the slope:

150-ish miles later and we arrived in the main square outside the Hotel Cotori where they were setting up for “La Nit del Foc” or the “Night of Fire” with wooden torches in all shapes and sizes everywhere. We weren’t sure whether it was actually a Wicker Man-style event for us, especially after the 19 beers that were consumed…

Day Three and we were heading to the Hotel Andria in Seo de Urgel, some 180 miles on our planned twisty routes. We stopped off at one point for some photos near Montferrer i Castellbò in Catalonia and saw some eagles – you won’t be able to make them out, I doubt, from my photos.

By the time we reached the hotel after a very warm day in the saddle – 32°C – we were pleased that they let us park the bikes up in their courtyard. A quick shower and a few beers on the verandah and we headed off into town for food, including Yox’s mini-penises…

Day Four was planned to be a biggie: 230-ish miles of bends and twisties from Spain into France and then up into Andorra before our overnight stop at the Hotel President.

And the roads indeed proved epic with lots of hairpins, ascents and descents all day long. And our first brush with the law: after a ‘spirited’ ride up some hairpins, we got pulled over by the police near Naut Aran in Catalonia:

After our stop, we decided to pull over so our Extreme Barista could do his stuff, this time using just the filter from the broken cafetière to filter the coffee.

Once we’d had coffee, we set off again and later found that we could experience a number of different weather conditions within a very short space of time once we were back into the Haute-Garonne of France:

After negotiating the perilous car park ramps at the Hotel President, it was time for beers and their buffet deal in the restaurant. Yox and Purge had adjoining rooms which featured their own shared ante-room with sofas and TV!

Day Five was planned as another 160-ish miles back into Spain, along the N260 and then back into France for our next stop at Thuir, the Domaine de La Fauvelle.

A slightly cooler 31°C but lots of effort on the roads led to us needing beers when we arrived before we’d even changed. They told us the restaurant was usually shut that day but as another older lady was staying, they’d got the chef coming in especially and would we like to dine there? On the basis that we were on the outskirts of Thuir and couldn’t be arsed to walk into town we said yes and were lucky to do so as the food was simply superb. Purge had already claimed he was all cheesed out but still managed some, giving up the chance to try what he mis-translated as “fish sorbet”…

The mileage had begun to take its toll on us, so for Day Six, our planned route of 200 miles back into the twisties before heading to the idiosyncratic Hôtel Renaissance at Castres was only followed by Yox and me, with Purge taking the more direct route to Castres.

The roads were great fun, but as even Yox was taking it easy which was not what I wanted to do, needing a bit more speed to take the weight off my wrists, so I rode past and made my own way on the planned route, with Yox catching me when I stopped for a well-earned break in Couiza.

By the time we got to Castres and had settled into our rooms, Purge had already arrived much earlier and was sitting drinking in one of the bars in the square, where we then met up before finding a restaurant to eat: burgers with goats cheese (and then more cheese). After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a couple of beers/digestifs and then bed: we had a long day ahead of us planned…

Did I mention the roads were great?

Day Seven and we were starting our return journey, heading for the Domaine de Roiffé, some 320 miles from Castres. Purge had already decided he would take the direct motorway route and blast there whilst Yox and I would take a nicer route, even though we’d ride at our own pace – I’d stopped for petrol the night before, etc.

The weather was a little changeable and on one country road in the rain, I got flashed by a hidden speed camera on a double-bend; we’ll see if the ticket reaches me. Purge reached the hotel 15 minutes or so before me and Yox a little while after as he’d stopped for photos on the way. A quick shower and then off for beers and a lovely meal in our own vaulted roofed booth.

Day Eight and we planned an earlier departure as we were all booked on mid-afternoon Eurotunnel crossings. As I was on a FlexiPlus fare I was more relaxed and we’d all planned our own strategies for the final 340-odd miles: I was planning a two-stop, Yox a one-stop and Purge a “pin it to win it” blast/stop/repeat run.

It was warm and dry, but the rain clouds were ever-present and you dodged the clouds as much as possible, with the odd heavy downpour and then bright, warm sunshine.

As it transpired, we all arrived at the terminal within minutes of each other. After enduring the long wait at UK Border Agency, we boarded separate trains and then I headed home.

2,327 Miles

Once home, it was a cuppa, a shower, a Chinese takeaway and then back out to collect my partner from her flight back from Fuerteventura (landing at 1.10am!) into Gatwick. No rest for the wicked!

A couple of weeks later and my numb index finger (throttle side) is only gradually easing. Maybe that could be avoided in future by my fitting bar risers? One to try…

So I’m happy to be able to report that all is well with the Sprint after an annual service and MoT at Jack Lilley at Romford: only 1,440 ,miles in the last year.

While it was in, they let me test drive a Triumph Tiger Explorer XRt for the day. Once I got used to armchair riding position, it seemed really comfortable although to reduce buffeting from the electrically-adjustable screen when making good progress, I needed it all the way up – I’m just under six feet tall.

Toys are impressive with cruise control and semi-active suspension and heated seats – there are two sections for the rider and pillion – which would be a boon for touring, but as will all these “Adventure” bikes it seems, hard luggage is an expensive extra. Spec’ing it up to a suitable specification brings its price to over £16,000 and there’s no way it’s worth my Sprint plus, what, nine or ten grand especially when the Sprint is performing faultlessly and is still low mileage (6,954).

The Sprint’s much nicer now since I had Michelin Pilot Road 4 (PR4) tyres fitted last year before the Brittany run and the Triumph Taloc waterproof leathers work well, both in the sun – see last year’s Eurothrash – and in the rain when I had the Sprint serviced.

 

So with another girls’ weekend in Newquay ahead of Alison and none of my riding mates able to come with me if I went anywhere, I decided I’d head to a part of France I’d never visited before, so I thought I’d head to Le Mont-Saint-Michel.

I looked at the “Ride” magazine guide to France and some of their suggested routes around there and the Atlantic coast and booked a couple of other overnight stops at the end of a couple of routes, sight unseen.

I booked a Eurotunnel crossing with their Flexiplus fare so that I could be as pressure-free as possible on my way back with the longest leg of the tour. After a 4.30am start, I turned up in plenty of time and was waved straight through and onto a train waiting to leave. They even gave me my own personal carriage 🙂

After around 560km I arrived at my hotel, having had to talk my way around one of the barriers stopping entry to the town without a code – which I had, thinking it was the code to the hotel’s own carpark (which they don’t have). Thanks to Accor’s loyalty plan, I’d been able to check in early so I spent the afternoon wandering around the actual Mont-Saint-Michel with its narrow streets and steps. Perfect for pushchairs, apparently…

I decided to walk back to the hotel as the queue for the bus was very long and after dinner came back out to take some more photos as night fell. Here are some photos:

My next stop was at Quimper. I’d found what was supposed to be a four star place to stay without really realising it was a campsite and that there weren’t really hotel-type rooms in the accepted sense in the Chateau itself. Worse than that was the 5.00pm check-in. I messaged them to see if I could check in earlier but hadn’t heard back before I set off so I enjoyed the lovely roads and stopped at Guingamp for coffee and lunch:

I checked my emails to find I could check in earlier after all, so off I went. I arrived around 4.00pm and checked-in at Reception, rode around to the chateau and couldn’t find any way to get in. After 45 minutes, i was lucky enough to find someone who could point me in the right direction, by which point I was a sodden, sweaty lump thanks to the hot day and a full set of leathers.

Still it was nice and ‘authentic’ and I did enjoy my time there:

Parked-up for the night

Parked-up for the night

L'Orangerie de Lanniron

L’Orangerie de Lanniron

L'Orangerie de Lanniron

L’Orangerie de Lanniron

Check-out time was 10.00am so after breakfast I set out for St Nazaire on some more lovely roads, going via Quiberon, which meant filtering along through the traffic queues onto the peninsula. A nice stop for moules and a wave to America and I was back on the road.

Hello America!

Hello America!

Moules Mariniere

Moules Mariniere

I arrived at the Hotel Majestic La Baule and wandered off to take some photos and get a coffee and Coke … and a Cuba Libre.

2048-RHMP-Eurothrash-1153

The next morning after a lovely breakfast I waved goodbye and set off for home: a small matter of 770km.

The sun's up and it's time to leave

The sun’s up and it’s time to leave

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

I made it to Calais in plenty of time and despite the “helpful” UK Border Agency making me remove my helmet – even though he could clearly see my face – which slowed things up, I got on to an earlier train back (see my earlier comment about Flexiplus).

Home and a shower and a coffee and I was almost human after 2002km. I do like the Triumph Sprint GT 1050 and I also like my new leathers: Triumph “Taloc” leather jacket and jeans which are heat-reflective with zipped ventilation to help you keep cool and they’re also weather-resistant/waterproof supposedly. I only had a couple of light showers so no chance to really test that out, but there are inner liners to let the rain run out if it makes it through the leather.

2002km

2002 kilometres

1244 miles

1244 miles

I just realised that I hadn’t posted about last year’s Eurothrash to the Harz Mountains in Germany, so here we are now.

It was a quick blast there whilst my partner was sunning herself in Newquay with her friends. We’d booked to stay with Gregory Niven at his biker-friendly pension – Gregory rode a Kawasaki Versys by then – so Yox (on his Versys), Purge (on his Kawasaki ZZR1400) and I set off to Germany on a really hot day. The beers at Gregory’s place were welcome by the time we got there!

Dinner that first night – as all nights whilst we were there – was at the nearby Zum Belgier with their large selection of Schnitzel:

Tasty Schnitzels!

Tasty Schnitzels!

The next day we went off on a route that Gregory had laid out for us. A nasty front wheel slip on the Sprint ruined my confidence in the OEM Bridgestones, though:

This was what the front tyre looked like when we stopped:

Skid?

Skid?

This was us at our stop shortly afterwards:

2015-07-18 11.16.44 2015-07-18 11.16.34

That evening, a somewhat peckish Yox ordered a light snack:

So Yox is having a weiner schnitzel with Bolognese sauce (meat) AND an 8oz steak on the side. Just in case.

So Yox is having a weiner schnitzel with Bolognese sauce (meat) AND an 8oz steak on the side. Just in case.

The next day it was off to Colditz. Except it was closed…

En route to Colditz

En route to Colditz

Still, we got some footage despite my lack of confidence in the tyres:

The next day it was wet; showers throughout the day but in between the rain we were taken for a blast out by Gregory:

2015-07-19 15.59.14 HDR 2015-07-19 15.58.49 HDR

And then the heavens opened. You can see from the footage that I was just not at all happy with the (lack of) grip from the front:

Then it was back home and after I’d switched back to miles and got home, I reckon it was a pathetic 400 miles of rain on the way home rather than the epic Pyrenees deluge…

2015-07-20 19.31.44