Diary

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…