Bikes I’d love to see in the UK: Yezdi.

The classic brand Yezdi was recently revived under the umbrella of ‘Classic Legends’, the Mahindra subsidiary who recently resurrected Jawa and in the UK the former giant of BSA.

They are so far launched three models, all based on the 334cc DOHC engine featured in the Jawa Perak (worth checking out here) but make no mistake, in the same way Royal Enfield customises their own models based on the same engine but produces radically models, Yezdi really have provided a tantalising offering for the 350cc size.

The Roadster, a base model so to speak. Personally looks a lot better in dark blue or green.

The Roadster, via extensive googling is the most faithful looking in relation to the original Yezdi bikes and seems to be directly influenced by the Jawa 42 which it is doomed to be forever compared to which it seems to be trying to attract. I’m personally not sure why Mahindra have essentially created an undercut of their own product in a different subsidiary. Clearly there is something I don’t fully understand here, or is this purely down to cult following?

The scrambler, a far more stripped down model.

As the look suggests the Scrambler is far more stripped down and sportier than it’s road cousin, the ribbed seat especially gives a nod to it’s true purpose, as does the fact the rear looks like it was hacked off beforehand. The general aesthetic look seems a direct competition to the smaller and cheaper Chinese imports while attempting to head off the RE: Hunter at the same time.

Adventure!

Ahem, I think we can all see which motorcycle this bad boy was meant to be similar too. In all fairness on looks alone I actually prefer it to the Himalayan, although the single exhaust does look slightly like a gas boiler flue. Anyway, they chucked a 15.5L fuel tank on this bad boy for extra range, a nice turn by turn navigation system on the LCD screen (think…..Tripper) controlled via app. One detail I have spotted which they seem to have failed to mentioned even as a sales pitch is this, despite the usual rear and sides luggage rails you can spot an extra two right off the side of the fuel tank. That’s one hell of a camping trip!

Fingers crossed Mahindra will be able to start shipping these over to the UK in a few years, I think they would be a great addition to the Indian motorcycles already available here and they are considerably more affordable than some of their competitors.

December update – it’s 100% less shit than November.

Trying not to massively ‘sex up’ this post with the promise of amazing revelations, scandalous occurrences and gratuitous Beaver shots…. Mainly because I cannot promise any of those except the last one.

MOD 1

Yup, I got a chance to do my MOD 1 at last now I have a decent instructor. I had a few extra lessons as it’s realistically been since June/July that I was last on a bike. I quite enjoyed the use of the MT-07 even though it’s not exactly what I would choose to ride. All things considered I passed Monday morning with just one (Cornetto) minor fault. It was a silly one too, literally right at the end after my avoidance I tried to pull away forgetting I had left it in second…..and promptly stalled. Not the best end but as my only detracting point and the test now being behind me I’m fairly pleased with the result. Hopefully I can resume the quest for MOD 2 from January!

Gratuitous Beaver pic.

What else? Well I managed to win a can of BulldogBDX on a twitter competition which was pretty cool.

New gear needed.

Now I previously moaned that I definitely needed a new riding jacket for summer due to a previous ride where I sweat like an Orangutan in a shipping container. The problem seems to be more widespread than previously thought as it must be noted I did not feel one but if a chill the whole time I was training for the MOD 1, except for my hands….

So yes clearly I need new gloves, the bigger problem sits squarely in the fact that my weatherproof/waterproof gear is clearly too heavy duty for use in the climatically mild Norfolk. Yup I was absolutely boiling, while this would normally be considered great it should be noted for commuting I need to arrive not looking like I had a Kung Fu fight in a sauna. Instead I need to emerge from my protective gear like the world’s ugliest butterfly and still produce a days “work”.

As a closing note, everyone constantly mentions the mental health benefits to riding a motorcycle but they definitely short sell the physical benefits. Due to a selection of rubbish office chairs in previous employment, the rubbish bus seats in my commute my back is normally a tad on the “ugh” side. Honestly though, after 4 days it feels bloody great. I literally feel like a sober version of my twenty year old self (only in the back department sadly).

Untill next time folks, ride safely!

November things.

What honestly have I done this month that is either interesting or motorbike related? I’ve gotta be honest practically nothing in all fairness, with the birth of my daughter I been working from home for about a month so literally being rather productive at workflow and moaning about everything.

Crappy journalism.

Now I have already done a good deal of moaning about how, for many new entrants to the world of biking a lot of motorcycling journalism frustrating, annoying and sometimes just plain unprofessional to the point of bullshitting.

I won’t bang on about it too much because frankly I already called out the “publication” on twitter without mentioning names (although it was obvious) and because I really want to talk about the bike itself not just the shitty or deliberately misleading article.

SG650 twin

Honestly, what do you think folks? I will be honest I watched the unveiling and practically before they had given us a proper walk round I’d gone a bit ‘Lou & Andy’. I came back about an hour later and re-watched it, I know a concept bike is always going to be a tad whacky (because that’s the point) but the odd retro-futuristic bobber style originally struck me a tad wrong. Although I am not a particular fan of bobbers this one does look better than most and honestly, when you look at some of the earlier RE offerings such as the ‘Bullet’ it’s really not that far out and it really does fit very well. After watching it again I have to say it’s a shame the presenter confirmed it is only a concept because to go full Bruce Wayne…… “Does it come in black?”

Meanwhile it was confirmed earlier last week that BSA would be unveiling their new petrol motorcycle next week at Motorcycle Live. Shout out to mototingle on twitter who noticed their website had a running countdown for the release and their twitter has also come online. Check it out Here and let’s all hold our breath for another week!

Should we travel ethically?

A bit of an awkward one for me here so really bare with me as I attempt to skirt around the area of politics while directly referencing it but yet, somehow not causing some form of diplomatic incident with Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan you say? Ahh well, allow me to explain. Without giving a full history of central Asia it’s generally considered to be a worse place for human rights and press freedom than North Korea. So while I let that sink in and we imagine some form of ‘Totalitarian Premier League’ for reference could I possibly draw your attention to the burning fiery abyss below? Nope, that’s not a religious recruitment drive…….

It is also home to the Dervaza gas crater which has now been on fire since 1971 and is roughly translated as ‘The gates of Hell’. I think you’ll agree it looks pretty bloody awesome and the big kid in me is already wondering how quickly I could cook a bunch of shashlik if I had a suitably long stick.

Now I would personally love to visit, but the question is should we? Thinking aloud where is the line or where is and where isn’t ok to visit and should that influence our desire to travel and experience new places?

Featured:Turkmenistan’s ‘Gates of hell’. Not featured: me attempting to lower a large amount of skewers over the side.

On the flip side of all this is always the argument that you are supporting the local population, after all there are a lot of fairly questionable regime’s out there and millions of people travel to them every year. It’s not like you tapped the Generalissimo on the shoulder, tipped him a few notes and said “Buy a few tanks for me”.

Ok so maybe we avoid the really bad ones, what about the slightly iffy situations that result from annexation and territorial disputes. Kosovo and the Crimea jumping to the front of my head right now but there are a lot more.

Stop, who goes there?

Some are naturally easier than others, the current disputed territory between Armenia & Azerbaijan is clearly a great way to get yourself classed as “Persona non Grata” in the other. But what about places like Kashmir or the Donbass? Who will be more annoyed and do we end up balancing up the pros & cons of countries against each other to decide which.

“Sorry pal, there’s more to see here so I will be less upset if you PNG me”.

Bloody politics.

While sometimes we have no choice but to engage, while traveling I think I probably represent a good chunk of people who just want to jump on their choice of transport and explore. This country has interesting things I want to see, why should that be such a difficult thing to do?

Motorcycles I wish were available in the UK: BENDA

Right ok let’s get this out of the way quickly shall we? I know what a lot of you are thinking right now…..so here it is!

Tada! Yup I know that’s Bender but the joke still stands.

Currently this (possibly badly named) Chinese brand of Motorcycles is available in Europe & Asia with a range of 2 & 4 cylinder offerings starting at 125cc and capping at 400cc. These frankly look like they were modelled on the Kawasaki Vulcan S. This isn’t a bad thing imho as that’s a great looking bike, alas probably out of the price range of most of us newbie riders and personally I’d be worried about it ripping my arms off if I got too cocky on the dual carriageway.

There is also this rather strange looking offering called the ‘LFC 700’ which frankly looks like it would be ridden by members of a cybernetically enhanced mafia in downtown Neo-Tokyo. While I find it pretty ugly there is that cool futuristic vibe to it that certainly would turn heads, it just needs a bumper sticker reading “My other bike hovers”.

Benda LFC 700

What do you think folks? Should these make the final jump across the channel and be available here? Or is it just another Chinese imitation brand to saturate the market at the lower end? It’s worth checking out the full website here beforehand.

Let me know!

Bikes I wish were available in the UK: Jawa

Not to be confused with the many re-branded Chinese bikes, which despite carrying the name and logo are merely ‘Shineray’ based Motorcycles in red. For anyone who read the article on Mash Motorcycles, imagine that but in red.

Jawa these days is owned by Indian corporation ‘Mahindra’ (via Classic Legends and an agreement with Jawa Moto), also well known for their cars, Formula E team, renewable energy, pharmaceutical and has acquired the rights to BSA! They have well and truly resurrected the Czech brand with a brand new range. The chief among these is the new 42.

My immediate thoughts here is how much is resembles some of the other Indian styled Motorcycles, let’s me honest here it does look very Royal Enfield. I’m not sure if that is in any way deliberate by Jawa as the 42 does on paper look like a direct challenger to the Meteor 350 but without some of the bells and whistles, in Asia the price seems to directly reflect this and as such I have seen more than a few YouTubers comparing them directly. The full website can be viewed Here and although available in three colours I am sure you will agree that red (known as Orion red) is by far the best on offer, the grey frankly looks a bit meh.

Is it essentially a poor man’s Meteor? Honestly?? Yes it kind of us BUT it is a great looking bike in it’s own right and does have exactly the same charm as many of the lower capacity Chinese bikes in making a decent sized motorbike accessible to everyone. Many commuters would (and could) argue they don’t need the Tripper navigation or all the mounts for accessories for longer distance travel. The world can only be a better place for having more bikers on the road!

So what do you all think? With prices elsewhere seem to be nudging up to a thousand pounds or so cheaper (model dependant) is it just another cheap Motorcycle to inflate the already bulky lower end or a niche in it’s own right?

Learning on a moped is a terrible way to be introduced to Motorcycling.

So before we get going a warning for the following content:

WARNING: RATED N FOR NEWBIE

Cutting back to December last year and I’m clinging to the back of a 90cc moped restricted to 28mph busting down a crappy provincial road in Norfolk in an exciting but somewhat reminiscent of a bucking bronco on wheels. Back then I was honestly thinking I could settle for a 125cc or maybe even a 250 for a bit of extra variety. The power required to achieve any other rate of speed seemed totally unnecessary and possibly frightening.

Now I might be tall at just under 1.9m (especially for Norfolk where I’m like a fairy tale giant) but after stopping work in an industry which heavily promotes stress/drug use/caffeine abuse & chicken dependency I dropped 20kg somewhere…. This is clearly a problem as the provincial road is causing my butt to leave the seat on a fairy regular interval.

Flash forward to yesterday and I’ve just slipped a trusty Honda into 3rd on the same shitty provincial road as before. Unlike the 90cc Mariokart however I don’t feel like I’m going the same speed at all and frankly would have accelerated faster had the road not also been a 30. All credit to the Honda as my butt only left the seat once on a particularly uneven part of the road.

This got me thinking. How many people have had the same thought as me while riding the learner moped but have actually been put off before they got onto the a proper geared bike?

So what is the answer? Lengthen the process of the CBT for those who want to learn a geared bike at the risk of making the course too long for people to take it all in? Should this risk be worth it to introduce people to a “proper” bike?

Personally yes, but I can see that a lot of people probably wouldn’t require it for twist and go fun. In the long term I believe we would have more bikers who would probably be on slightly bigger bikes as a result on this. Frankly I sat on a 600cc Honda afterwards and thought: “Yeah, this doesn’t feel too bad….”

What do you all think? In your experience is it even a “real bike” until we go over the 900cc mark?

Manufacturer riding clubs: An incentive or quiet discrimination?

With Europe still in various stages of the Covid-19 pandemic and many riding clubs are wisely already rescheduling this years touring & adventure offerings in favour of the generally much safer 2022 in the hope the pandemic will be contained to a level this can resume with some additional restrictions. However with the long term economic shocks expected for many years to come can manufacturers continue to have the same approach?

Who? What?

Many manufacturers have their own riding clubs, either a special access meetup and ride system or some offering a full touring package. The most well known which spring to most peoples minds would be the ‘Honda Adventure Roads’ and the ‘Royal Enfield Riders Club’. The latter being responsible for the famous ‘Moto Himalaya’ tours in Northern India.

Royal Enfield Riders Club (launching April 2021)

However as these services are only open to those with said make of motorcycle are you in fact causing people to miss out on ultimately enriching experiences? Picking the Honda for example (as we don’t have RE’s costs yet) with a hefty £5000, needing 5 years experience using an Africa twin with the relevant licence. Whatever happened to a few mates jumping on the their bikes with a tent and being able to have an adventure?

Locked out.

If YouTube has taught us anything it’s that you don’t need massive, highly expensive motorcycles over 1000cc just to visit a few countries and eat new and exciting food. We all have different financial situations and within our own groups of friends this is greatly increased. Do you, as the good friends not go on an experience of a lifetime because one of the group can’t afford it? Or do you miss out on the experience to do it as a group? Throwing another spanner in the works it is of course well worth remembering that most of us ride the bike which feels right for us………

Surely for the sake of broadening the appeal of Motorcycling as a hobby and not just a route to commute some form of cross collaboration should be a necessary evil the manufacturers should be willing to consider? Does everyone who wants this kind of experience go out and buy a large touring bike just for this purpose? I can’t see any of these companies purely doing it as a customer service kind of thing and for the kind of prices involved (maybe not the Nepal one, that seems realistic considering) it’s obviously not just to keep people interested.

The Devil’s advocate.

One thing these clubs do very well however is to bring people from different areas and backgrounds together in a way they might not have done so without something like this. If you are the new rider it must be very intimidating to try and rock up to a pre-existing group of bikers who may well have known each other for a long time and we already mentioned how the average age was creeping up. I don’t know about you folks but I would probably trying to arrange a random group on twitter rather than joining a local group, but I guess that also partially makes me the problem too.

Perspective and maybe even some sense.

Personally I think it’s time to end the manufacturer only “elite” clubs slowly dooming the industry to it’s twilight year when we should be having fun. Give us a group of dudes on 250’s going from North to South Korea, why can’t some nutter on a C90 go around Africa and while we are at it has anyone tried Monkey Bikes in Mongolia?

Silliness aside for one second a return boat ticket from Denmark to Iceland inc the motorcycle is 520 Euros, it has a pretty good road network and tons of room for adventure. Why be constrained by just one route, isn’t that why a lot of us got into motorcycling in the first place?