Friday, 30 August 2013

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Monday, 26 August 2013

Stripes


Photo Jonathan Birkemyr


Photo Jonathan Birkemyr



#SuperRetards #JonathanBirkemyr #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Range Anxiety

Range Anxiety


I've never actually run out of fuel while traveling abroad, but I've come very, very close on quite a few occasions. Sometimes, I got lost and wasted fuel finding myself. Sometimes, I was forced to take a detour because a road was impassible. Sometimes, I saw a town marked on a map, assuming it would have fuel available* and this turned out not to be the case.

In Italy, petrol service stations are inexplicably closed almost all the time. And in France recently, I found that my Irish bank card wouldn't work in some self service petrol stations. And in Ireland, we have lots of beautifully made Motorways with no services stations on them...

On one occasion in the Italian Alps, the self-service station would only dispense an amount of fuel that would fill my relatively small tank if it were entirely empty. But the tank was one-third full and this seemed like a waste of money, so I carried on up into the Alps in the hope that I'd find another, more reasonable solution. I didn't. I ended up using most of my available fuel before returning to the same self service station and filling my now empty tank...

On other occasions I've been compelled to curl up into a little aerodynamic teardrop and drone along at 80kph. And often, I've felt it prudent to turn off the engine and coast down any available incline.

On one particularly ill-concieved adventure, I traveled to Sweden on a Buell that would only go 100 miles before the orange fuel light came on. I had the range anxiety the whole time. On the way back, on the twelfth fill-up in the fifth country that day, my bank card was cancelled due to suspicious behaviour. That's a whole other kind of anxiety...

When I was younger all I wanted was a big tank and a comfortable seat and I'd drive and drive and drive until I went onto reserve. Of late, I'm inclined to use maybe half a tank and then start keeping an eye out for somewhere to top up.

I still love big petrol tanks though. With a proper reserve tap, not just an orange light. It's a courier thing...




*These little fantasy petrol stops usually have a fantasy diner with a fantasy waitress and fantasy food. If I ever find this Shang-ri-la I may never leave...


#MotoGeo #DucatiDiavel #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Chill Out...

This is sort of hypnotic and relaxing...

Chill Out...








#Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Friday, 23 August 2013

SuperRetards

More Scandinavian weirdness...

More Scandinavian weirdness...





#SuperRetards #OtherSide #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

StuntFreaks Team - Finland

This is deadly! 

StuntFreaks Team - Finland



#StuntFreaksTeam #KillingItMovie #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

The AT - Update

I've ordered a whole load of service parts for the Africa Twin.

I spent yesterday stripping the thing and apart from the corrosion (which is mostly cosmetic) it's in pretty good shape. 


Generally when I faff around with motorcycles I replace the original steel bolts with stainless ones (usually just M5, M6 & M8 because the bigger bolts are hard to get in a fine pitch). My reasons for doing this are partly cosmetic (stainless Allen bolts look nice)  and partly to avoid problems with corrosion and dirty threads. Anyway, with the AT this bit me in the ass! A couple of the M6 stainless bolts that hold the fork cover to the fork slider cold-welded in place and the heads snapped off when I tried to remove them.

I think I can extract them using my MIG welder. I'm hoping this will be straightforward, 'cos I can't think of another way to remove a stainless bolt from an aluminium component.* If this is successful, I'll fit the sliders with threaded stainless inserts and use copper grease from now on...


So, I'm looking for some 2nd hand Africa Twin parts...



  • Rear Wheel
  • Seat for an RD04
  • Passenger Foot-pegs and Brackets for an RD04
  • Left-hand Switch-gear
  • Maybe a rear brake disk
  • And maybe a Belly Pan 

If anyone has any of these items and would be willing to part with them, please drop me a line at luan@mercenary.ie or use the Facebook link in the top right of the page. Thanks.


The AT - Update


*There's a technique called Spark Erosion that might work but I suspect it's a bit spendy...



#AfricaTwin #RD04 #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Yolandi?

Yolandi







































#YolandiVisser #DieAntwoord #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage 

Flames

Art-Toys


#ArtToys #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Air

Air


#KTM #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Funny Thing Happened...

A Funny Thing Happened...


Since I bought the CBR1000F last October, I've driven it almost exclusively. From time to time I might go for a short ride on another bike (my own or someone else's) but for the most part I've just driven Big Honda. And I've modified and tweaked it a bit so that it's comfortable for me and it suits the way I ride. I've done 6 or 7,000 miles on the thing and I'm used to it.

So when I picked up the Africa Twin in Italy and took it for a test drive, I was shocked to find how rough it was. It vibrated, and the lumpy tyres made it bounce up and down at low speed. The bars were so light that there was no feedback. I could only get my toes on the ground. There were a thousand things different from the CBR and I couldn't believe that I'd ever considered it to be comfortable!

But I got used to it again. And I found it to be very comfortable. And I enjoyed the hell out of driving it home. In fact, it was so comfortable that I chose to drive it overnight for one long 22 hour day.

So on Monday, I went out on Big Honda to see my Mum. And I was very shocked to find that I hated the CBR! It was too long and too low and the suspension crashed over bumps in the road and the steering felt weird and heavy and I couldn't see over traffic. I hated it and it freaked me out - I was so freaked out that I considered pulling over to the side of the road and walking back home...

But I didn't. I drove out to see my Mum. And by the time it was time to go home again, it had turned back into the Big Friendly Honda that I love.

I had a similar experience with a rental Harley Davidson a few years back. I picked it up and I swear I've never been more terrified on a motorcycle*. It had the wooden brakes and the wallowing handling and all that stuff that you read about in British motorcycle magazines that are predominantly aimed at sportsbike riders. And it weighed 360kg dry! It was monsterous.

Anyway, I soon got used to it (mostly) and I had a fantastic trip and some new experiences and a week later, I was genuinely sad to give it back. I'd really grown to love it.

I guess the point of all this, if there is a point at all, is I think there's too much narrow-minded tribalism in motorcycling. This is particularly true in Ireland and I think it applies to the UK as well. The motorcycle press tends to be divisive and if you're in the business of Sportsbikes its easy to laugh at Harleys. And if Custom Bikes are your scene 'Jap Crap' and 'Crotch Rockets' are anathema to that. It's a divide and conquer thing I guess...

So consequently sportsbike riders judge everything in terms of power, braking and handling and tend to be disdainful of say, roadsters or vintage bikes. Harley types tend to buy into all that horseshit about 'Righteousness' and 'Heritage'. And the ROSPA types on their BMWs and Pan Europeans tend to look down on everyone else for riding dangerously.

Fuck that! Life is short.

But it's wide.

Try different bikes, try new things. If you ride a Harley exclusively, well try a trackday or go trailriding. If you ride a sportsbike, go touring. If you're a ROSPA type, take of your hi-viz, turn off your headlight and try a chopper...

*Except maybe that one time in Madrid...


#LifeIsShort #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Monday, 19 August 2013

Africa Twin - The Trip Home

Well, the trip home from Italy went off smoothly. The bike had been laid up for nearly five years and had been re-commissioned in a bit of a hurry, so when I set off I was a bit apprehensive about things going wrong. However, after a couple of hundred kilometres my confidence in the bike was restored.

Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
I love this bike!


There was a lot of corrosion. Normally I wouldn’t be too bothered about corrosion but the wheel rims have started to rot. Generally, aluminium is resistant to corrosion and it makes me wonder if those DID rims have magnesium in them. I’ve seen other Honda rims stored outdoors corrode in the same way – Maybe its moisture that causes this or maybe it’s cat-pee… I dunno. In any case, the wheel rims need to be replaced.

The front brakes turned out not to be a problem at all. I removed the front left calliper in order to render the machine driveable. The right calliper was inclined to stick and drag if I used it, so I just stopped using it. The Africa Twin has excellent engine braking and a particularly good rear brake, so not using the front wasn’t really a hardship.

My main cause of concern was the tyres. Firstly, they’re five years old and have been stored outdoors in a sunny country. Secondly, they were nearing the end of their useful life when I stored the bike. But I reckoned that if all else was well, they were probably good for another 1000 miles. The tyres did turn out to be problematic, but not the way I had expected…

I used to run Pirelli MT 21s on my old XL 600/720. They’re a road-legal enduro tyre and on-road, they’re reasonable civilised and off road they’re incredible! Also, they’re not particularly expensive. The drawback is, on the road they’re very noisy. It depends on the road surface and the speed, but very often I’d be hooning around on my XL without a care in the world when all of a sudden I’d hear a wailing siren and become alarmed that I was about to be pulled by the cops. That police car siren noise was coming from the tyres. This happened again and again and I never got used to it.

On the heavy Africa Twin, they make a variety of noises again, depending on road surface and speed.


  • Sometimes, they make the police car noise – Alarming!
  • Sometimes they make a screech like an engine seizure – Very alarming!
  • And sometimes, they make a noise just like a Stuka dive bomber – This is a very fucking alarming noise if it’s a Stuka making it. If it’s coming from your tyres, it’s just very irritating and you eventually just have to slow down to give your brain some respite. It makes you feel sorry for Stuka pilots who had to put up with that noise, day in, day out, bombing the shit out of people...



When the tyres were new, I don’t remember this being a problem. I clipped along through Spain at about 130 km/h, all day, no problem. And off road in the desert, the tyres performed faultlessly and never caused me a thought. If I was going to the desert again, I’d have no hesitation using them again. But for a bike predominantly used on road… I don’t think so.

So, I was on a sort of Euro-touring buzz this time and the almost dead, noisy Pirellis were at odds with that somewhat. The trip turned out to me much longer than the thousand miles I was anticipating and so the last couple of hundred miles (across the UK, in the rain, in the dark) was completed on tyres that weren’t fit to hang off the side of a trawler.

The other source of irritation was the GPS. I didn’t have proper European maps loaded into the unit and so it was operating on the fairly rudimentary European map that came installed on it. And this operates in a slightly different way than I’m used to. Instead of saying helpful things like “In 100 metres, turn left” it says ambiguous things like “Continue 75 kilometers, then turn West”. This may not seem ambiguous, but when you’ve just run out of tarmac and onto a dirt track, it does make you wonder…

In the UK (It has the proper UK maps installed) it did a very annoying thing. The M6 motorway had a junction closed and I was forced to divert. And the GPS brought me back to the previous junction, back onto the motorway and up to the blocked junction again. And despite my best attempts to break out of the loop, it did this three times! That was over 60 miles and an hour and a half, wasting time and petrol and depleting my energy and my almost dead tyres. Like the lady said – “Aint no-one got time for that!”

In the end, I just ignored the GPS and went into Birmingham City and out the other side before letting the GPS take over again.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to experience this and I suspect Garmin have some way to deal with this programed into the unit. It’s on my to-do list to find out what that is…

Despite these small irritations, it was a very enjoyable trip. I traveled through the Italian alps, across Switzerland, across France and across the UK. In Italy and Switzerland, people seemed to be a bit disdainful of the rusty, ratty old Africa Twin. In France and the UK people seemed to really like it. There was a kid on a supermotard in rural France got real excited about it and rode along with me for a bit pulling wheelies and shouting 'Dakar!'

The last portion of the trip from Dover to Holyhead, I did overnight. I don’t generally like riding motorcycles at night, but sometimes on moonlit nights, I have this romantic notion that it must be nice to drive all night. I’ve been thinking this for years but I’ve never done it.

So when I arrived in Dover about 7pm, it was raining. I really didn’t fancy camping in the rain and so decided I was going to stay in a motel. Motels aren’t picky about check in times the way campsites are, so I thought I might as well get some miles in until I got tired. So a hundred miles later when I stopped to tank, I was  enjoying myself and I didn’t feel like going to bed. So I decided to just keep driving ‘til I got to Holyhead, then get a couple of hours sleep in the car park before getting the first ferry back to Dublin.

It’s an interesting way to travel. Once I got passed Birmingham the motorway was almost empty of traffic. It’s a curious, solitary feeling but by no means unpleasant. And the people working in the service stations at night seem to enjoy having a chat to break the monotony. 

So all in all, it was a good trip. The Africa Twin is a fantastic bike for a trip like this and I absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, the AT needs a lot of work so it’ll be a while before it’s on the road again. I’ll probably do a separate post about this sometime in the future…


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home



Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
The Moto Guzzi Museum in Mandello del Lario. Closed for the tourist season...





Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
Lost in the Italian Alps (or maybe Switzerland, who knows...)


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
A cool start to the morning


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
Early morning, Italian Alps


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
North Eastern France - This was an epic road!


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
Evening, France. The heat is very tiring.


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
Late morning, France. Not too hot, so good driving.


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
Selfie


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
Lost near Calais


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
Sunrise, Holyhead




Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
If you think this is bad, you should see the front...


Mercenary Garage Africa Twin - The Trip Home
Back home after nearly five years.

Pictures of the original 2008 trip can be found...

Part 1 is here... Sahara Trip, Christmas 2008 (Part 1)
Part 2 is here... Sahara Trip, Christmas 2008 (Part 2)
Part 3 is here... Sahara Trip, Christmas 2008 (Part 3)
Part 4 is here... Sahara Trip, Christmas 2008 (Part 4)
'Stuck' is here... Stuck



Terms and Conditions


Some safety stuff… I do not recommend driving on bald tyres in the spirit of adventure. I had originally intended to get the ferry from France to Ireland. Later I made the decision to cross the UK instead, increasing the length of the journey by half, to a point where the tyres became unsafe. That was just stupid.


Driving on bald tyres causes the handling of the bike to deteriorate – this has obvious safety implications. However there is a less obvious but bigger danger; getting a blow-out and crashing.


When I was a courier, it was widely accepted that punctures only happened just before you were about to replace the tyre anyway and they usually happened when it’s raining – the universe is just mean like that. 


This is true (the bit about the punctures, not the bit about the mean universe). Tyres are more likely to puncture when they’re worn. There’s less rubber there, so it’s easier to penetrate the tyre. And tyres are also more likely to puncture when it’s raining. The water acts as a lubricant, again making it easier to penetrate the tyre.


                                    ***********************




I would like it noted that I expect my misadventure in GPS-land are down to my own stupidity for not learning how to use the thing properly. If this turns out not to be the case, expect a big long motherfucking rant about GPS design soon.



#AfricaTwin #RD04 #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Beatrice and the War Machine

Matt Tkocz


#MattTkocz #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

Mercenary Goes to Torino

I didn't go travelling today. 

Instead, I stayed in Turin and took in some of the sights - mostly the National Museum of Cinema...




Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


Mercenary goes to Torino


#Torino #AfricaTwin #RD04 #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage