Beasts from the Far East.

No that’s not some budget ‘Harry Potter’ release, but in fact some strange motorcycle revelations I stumbled across while watching slavs doing handbrake turns on Urals.

It seems while everyone in the west is penny pinching and frantically downsizing to combat the current financial issues, everyone in China has got fed up of whizzing around on their 125cc singles and wants to showoff their new found wealth with something bigger…..much bigger. With import duty as it currently is, only the moderately wealthy would have the money to pick up something with the punch of an Indian or Harley-Davidson. Up stepped the Chinese great traditions of imitation, mass production & the magical ability to knock a few K off without majorly impacting looks & performance (to an extent).

Up step Gaokin, trading through the UK with ‘Brixton Motorcycles’ is the GK1200, a.k.a the Cromwell 1200.

Cromwell 1200
Cromwell 1200, just from a different angle.

The rumoured price of this bad boy is set to be €8.500 (roughly) but as of yet no GBP price has been confirmed. Without being a bit of a proverbial cock, I’m sure we can draw a quick conclusion of what exactly the designers were thinking of when they ahem…… Without starting a fight over when true Triumph ceased UK production, a current version would hit us for roughly £11.200. I think we can agree that’s a significant saving in comparison, time will tell if it would just be worth spending a few extra thousand if you are intent of spending that much.

But, say you really want the thundering V-twin power I accidentally alluded to in the opening spiel, like me you’re a tad poor and that Scout Dark Horse is well out of reach. Speaking of thunder ironically:

Gaokin GK1000 Thor
Thor from the side, prison profile.

As pointed out fairly quickly, it is uglier than a picture of someone slow motion punching a camel. I’m also pretty sure the seat would murder me if my squishy behind sat on it for more than thirty seconds, I’m not even going to comment on the twin leaf blower exhausts there. Ok they aren’t as bad as the HD Nightster but the bar was fairly low there. Allegedly so far the guide price was kicking out at a very moderate €7000.

For me the fact that they can be made for what appears to be a fairly competitive price offers we hope that many other suppliers will follow. I can see one argument ringing out for many potential purchasers in Europe though: if you’re going to spend that kind of money, why not just get a Guzzi?

Ta da!

Travels for Cheese – Episode 3: Rehab.

Don’t worry folks I didn’t attend some form of residential rehabilitation due to my raging cheese addiction, no what I did instead is feed my habit by attending a different kind of Priory. In this case, Binham Priory. Conveniently placed next to a small dairy shop (what’s the chance of that eh?) it is conveniently positioned in the middle of nowhere but had a surprisingly large selection of dairy goods. Despite my love of ice cream and Skyr I managed to keep my eye on the prize and managed to grab a selection of local cheese from that area of the country.

Like everything else in Norfolk, it’s literally the middle of nowhere.
The first of anything dappled in Norfolk….
View from the car park.

I took the opportunity to test the ‘Tripper’ navigation my bike comes with, I will review that separately but it certainly got me there in good time and through a variety of roads.

Today’s selection, yes I have previously purchased the Binham Blue but I couldn’t resist grabbing some while there.

First up was the ‘Copys Cloud’, this soft brie-style cheese might be styled like Brie but it’s got its own style and taste going on. It’s neither as buttery, salty, and with a milder flavour than your off the shelf Brie. There is a slight aftertaste which almost reminiscent of a Danish blue, backed up by a wafer thin rind.

Next up was the ‘Wells Alpine’, a Swiss style hard cheese which takes 6 months to fully mature. I’ve seen people compare it to Gouda, this is a massive underselling of this unique cheese and is roughly equivalent to calling Batman a ‘Bat styled hero’.

Wells Alpine.

Last but by no means the least from this selection, the ‘Norfolk Dapple’. A hard, slightly crumbly hard cheese with a slightly nutty kick to it. If I was a marketing guru (obviously I’m not) I’d call it “Rustic” & “Old fashioned”, it certainly goes with a good bit of bread better than it does crackers! There is also a smoked version of this but decided against grabbing any this time with all the other cheers I already had, and hoping for any additional cheeses from ‘Mrs Temples’ I set off there next.

The Google came up with the confusing info that I might be able to buy extra cheese from the source, sadly this was not the case in what appears to be a source of bitterness. On the plus side I think the Meteor’s charm worked, thus I got to peep at some of the cows, a trio of calves and got to peep through the window of the cheese room!

Peek at one of the cheese rooms!

I was hoping to get my mitts on some ‘Norfolk Tawney ‘, a washed cheese which had previously caught my eye but so far eluded me. Alas there was none in the dairy shop so I have another reason to sneak back at some point!

Tripper – is it actually any good?

The Google powered turn by turn navigation system being utilised on the recent Royal Enfield models certainly garnered a lot of attention and was one one my main reasons for picking up the Meteor.

Does it work though, and really how effective is it?

App interface from earlier.

What can I say really? Dump the location in, hit navigate and it plots the course. If the helmet on the left is green then it’s synched. The only bad thing is if you lock the screen, to put it into your pocket for example, it will instantly shut off and de-sync. Other than that the graphics are clear and you get an accurate indication of when to turn.

EDIT: been speaking to a few regular users of Tripper who haven’t experienced the lock screen issue. It should be noted that on the subcontinent they are quite a few versions ahead of us though. Clearly more investigation is needed on this, is it my phone set-up? Time & testing will confirm.

Route summary.

Nice little touch here, at the end of your destination you get a nice little summary of your trip.

All in all, while it certainly might not be as detailed as a full sat nav, it certainly does the job and doesn’t present too much of a distraction while riding.

There’s something romantic about the notion of 125cc adventure bikes.

A pretty weird title I know folks but stay with me on this. There definitely seems to be an opening in the market for them rather than your huge tourers. While traditionally it seems that smaller capacity sat squarely in Royal Enfield’s court with the Himalayan I’d never run into anything in the CBT category.

A couple of years back Sinnis snuck out the ‘Terrain’ in a 125cc and despite some middle to good reviews and a definite value for money aspect it didn’t look like something that was going to catch on.

Sinnis Terrain – even comes with the luggage!
Looks better in red though.

Imagine my inner delight when MGB brought out ATX recently, clearly they wanted a slice of the cake too! Speaking of cake, I bet you could get a decent amount of your belongings for a weekend away in there too, a tiny fold up tent and enough socks to get you to Scotland? Maybe…

MGB ATX, available in many colours but the orange looks the best.

Neither are bad looking and priced between £2.9-3.4k so for anyone not looking for their full licence you have an accessible bike to escape the drudgery at the weekend. Quite a bit of me wishes these had been available some twenty years ago so my younger self could of grabbed one and happily gone around the country and done a good bit of exploring. As opposed to riding around MMORPG’s that is, no doubt many times in my carefree late teens and very early twenties I probably had that money and ended up spending it on vodka & Indian food….

Ok, enough about my miss-spent younger days and my failure to get a ‘Doc Brown moment’. If only we could sort out the UK’s motorcycle licencing laws too while we are at it.

So here’s the main thought, if you were on the fence about using a motorcycle for travel, would this tempt you? If you don’t already have a licence but are thinking about it, or just for the occasional weekend camping trip with mates as a second bike?

If you’re feeling tempted then I have done my job!

Meteor 350, post – 300 mile service.

For those unlucky enough to be subjected to my original review of this bike on its first ride home here, this is a direct comparison of the general performance now I have completed the initial 300 mile run in and had the first service.

Power!!!!!

Ahem, now I mean top speed here. That can however, be rather subjective. I’ll be totally honest I opened it up on the way into the office this morning, not thrashing it you understand but I took it all the way to 70 on the dual carriageway. With only light side winds we easily passed slower moving traffic. The 55-70mph section of my Speedo really is a bit if a slog. I’m told much of that relates to getting air into the engine, a lot of people seem to be recommending the DNA filters as a replacement for the stock unit. While this won’t improve the actual performance on paper I need to do some investigation if this will invalidate either the warranty or my insurance.

If however, you are heading up a slope with a headwind blowing directly at you…you will not be reaching 70 this day! You could ring it’s neck it you want (I don’t) but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to help you.

Let’s talk torque.

At between 0-50/55 the following scene applies quite strongly.

“Torque, torque, torque!!!”

After that point though and especially in the 60-70 range the following applies.

“No torque here, I don’t know no torque..”

Obviously this might well change with the rumour of the promised air filter of destiny. But we’re talking stock here.

B road performance.

Ok so in my first commute I mentioned how impressed I was with just how good the bike was tearing up the B roads on my alternate route home. This has increased, the suspension is a little bouncier but the bike just sticks to road however I ride it. You want to go national down the long hedges lined lanes, yup no worries! You want to tackle basic green lanes and tight winding lanes at a decent speed with nice amounts of torque so you can respond to road conditions and oncoming tractors, yup this bike got this!

Engine breaking.

Right, I mentioned last time that this just wasn’t as responsive on engine breaking as I was used to when learning. This has totally changed through the running in process and it’s now much more responsive. Very different level of breaking Vs when I originally got this bike.

But finally…..

Honestly I am really loving the bike and, while it’s not the most powerful offering it has so much heart that I certainly can’t see me changing this for a while!

Jokes aside, Norfolk’s roads are built for bikers.

One of the major things that owning a bike has so far taught me is that actually, Norfolk isn’t flat. It’s bloody close mind you but not quite there. I know I’ve been moaning thusly for probably the best part of twenty years but I was mostly wrong. It’s as if Slartibartfast was going to do another Lincolnshire and had just given it a good shake down and was about to give it one final iron out when the phone rang…..

That, combined with poor road planning and a non-existent maintenance schedule makes the vast majority of them a confused string of winding narrow roads and sharp bends that the local authority really should have taken notice of around the time Henry Ford was gaining popularity.

Some towns get their own 30mph speed limit, some are still National.
Like this one!

A couple of Google maps images of places local to me as a prime but not exactly unusual in this part of the country. As you can probably tell speed limits can vary and are generally anywhere between 20 and national speed limits with almost no logic to location or even road condition. As a note to anyone thinking of traveling down these, Google makes them look wider than they are!

Now I’m not trying to make out this as some kind of sneaky motorcycle riders plot to kill careless motorists. Neither does it change how I feel about living here or the fact that riding up a small slope will give you a view to the earth’s curve… What it has done is made me appreciate the roads that while stuck on the bus made it seem like I was been shaken to pieces.

Unless of course you are stuck behind old Doris doing 30 in a 60 with oncoming traffic that is…..