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Thanks to a strange mixture of events that I don’t really understand I was invited to go to Silverstone by the lovely people at Honda. I think it’s because I wrote about going to the Ron Haslem racing school a few months ago and Honda saw it and approved but I’m not sure.
Either way, on a rather chilly Friday morning I rode up the motorway on the F 800 GS (there will be more on this later) towards Silverstone.  Honda had arranged a few days at the track so slightly over-excited journalists could turn up and try out, well almost everything Honda make. The entire product range was there, and I mean the entire range.
Everything was there to test.

Everything was there to test.

Sadly the sporty little number on the right wasn’t available to take out on the track but a selection of Honda’s cars were. Cars are okay, they have too many wheels if you ask me and so I consider them a bit dull but my first few laps in an S2000 soon showed me that cars can have their charms. It was a bit chilly so the track didn’t offer much in the way of grip and so having foor wheels planted on the ground was reassuring.

Once we’d had a few laps in the S2000 we took a Civic type-R out around Silverstone which was jolly entertaining (the cockpit is hillarious and like something out of Star Wars) and allowed me to learn the circuit a bit from the comfort of a chair before I took a bike around it. Honda had said that in the afternoon just before the day ended the circuit would be opened up to bikes, this was what pretty much everyone was looking forward too.  

 The honda range, of bikes

After the car stuff was out of the way I set about taking a few different bikes from the Honda range out for a ride. The first was their 125 which was being launched, it’s wasn’t the minature race-rep CBR 125 RR but the new CBF 125. A chap from the Telegraph had just brought it back and was singing it’s praises so I hopped on and took a slightly wobbly ride out of the gate and down some country roads.
 
CBF1 25 Review
 
It’s a great bike. It’s light, extremely nimble and while it’s not exactly got thumping amounts of power it’s more than happy to get up to 60mph and cruise around on country roads. If that isn’t enough to sell you on it feels like a proper big bike, but a very lightweight one. The fuel economy is mind-boggling – The chap from the Telegraph thinks it will do 100 miles per gallon plus perhaps a little more but he had to do a few more caculations – After 50 miles of riding the gauge had only gone down to the top of ‘full’ so it hadn’t drunk much.
 
It would be a great bike for beginners – I’m going to recommend it to my little brother. It would also be a great bike for anyone who isn’t too sure of themselves and wants something nimble to commute about in but doesn’t want a scooter. Everything is put together to Honda’s usual high standards and it is a real gem, the rest of the journalists who had taken it out agreed that Honda had got it right,  this was going to be a future classic and a first bike to a whole new generation of riders.
 
This is good but Honda’s range don’t always cause people to agree so much, like the DN 01.
 
DN01
 
One I’d taken the CBF 125 out I wanted to try something different something weird like the DN 01. If you’ve not seen it before he is a picture.
DN 01

DN 01

The DN is weird, I had been warned it was strange by well just about every bike magazine who had been pretty damning about it. Before I got on it the chap who had taken it out was going on about how pointless it was and how he hated it. It’s not gone down very well with the press to say the least.
 
It is a very different bike for a few reasons, it’s got a feet-forward riding style which was entirely alien to me, but would seem natural to anyone who has a Harley. It’s an automatic using a very clever fluid based gearbox so it’s a twist and go but it can pretend to have gears if you like that sort of thing. The tank is quite small, and it’s got almost no storage or anywhere to mount bags. The dashboard is set under a visor so if you are really tall and don’t adjust the seat you will struggle to see how fast you are going and it’s costs as much as a Fireblade.
 
So with the facts out of the way let’s talk about how the bike feels, it feels cool. Maybe it’s because I saw Akira when I was younger or because I’m from the computer games generation or perhaps because at that point I’d had rather too much coffee but I liked this bike, quite a lot.
 
Yes it’s futuristic and weird. Yes it’s not really a commuter bike, or a crusier, or a racer or well anything really but when did bikes become entirely about having a purpose in life? Most race-rep bikes will never get properly raced, how many 1200 GS will get taken around the world, or even off road? When was the last time you saw a KTM covered in mud? Actually that last one does happen fairly often but that’s not the point.
 
Most people ride bikes because they are fun, and the DN 01 is fun. in fact it’s really good fun. Not ‘oh my god I’m going so fast my head is about to fall off’ fun but a different sort of enjoyment that makes you chuckle into your helmet.
 
The twist and go gearbox is really impressive so if gears aren’t you thing that won’t hold you back and the sitting position requires a bit of mental adjustment, and trouser adjustment but after that it’s really entertaining. If I lived somewhere hot and I had a cool silver jacket with like lasers on it then I’d consider getting a DN 01, if you want a relaxed riding style and you don’t want a chopper or a bit of vintage iron then it’s something to think about.
 
I’ll write about what happened when I took a Fireblade around Silverstone next.

kanedas20bike

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I’ve been thinking a lot about off-road riding. It seems natural to me to ride off road, I think because until recently all my motorcycle experiences have been off-road. I had a couple of motorbikes in my youth which I used to ride around the farm, and typically crash. One into a wall (although, I have to admit that was on purpose, but that’s story for another time) and one into a tree while jumping. Although now that I think about it, I didn’t crash that one.
Evel sporting a rather dapper jumpsuit

Evel sporting a rather dapper jumpsuit

My Godfather Pete crashed that motorbike. Pete was and, still is a very cool Godfather, mostly because he was a biker. I remember him turning up at my Primary school when I was about six or seven on a motorbike and he had a denim jacket on with a teddy bear on the back. In a small (my class had about six other kids in) rural village that was about as rock and roll as it gets. That appearance made me cool by association until about the age of eleven.

I had a black moped for a while and I used to ride it around the farm jumping it off things while humming the theme from Star wars; I’m not sure why. I think because it was black I had decided it was a Darth Vader motorbike. There was a line of thick fur trees on the edge of the gardens and since one of the trees was smaller than the others you could jump a bike through that gap. This was an amazing stunt as it seemed impossible and yet you could burst through the ‘solid’ trees to the other side with no side effects other than a pine fresh aroma. I had managed this lots of times, although admittedly I practiced on my bicycle before I tried it on a motorcycle, and was fine.

Pete had a go at the jump and hit a tree. The bike was a write-off and Pete did something awful to his ankle and couldn’t ride for a few days. He had to hobble around using a broom handle just like a pirate which made him seem even cooler. I think there is a lesson in that we could all learn.

Since looking at the Stinger the 185 ER is looking far more restorable and closer to being road-worthy. Intelligence reports that the bike runs and is only suffering from a flat tire. It’s been off road for a while and was used for riding around farms doing farm things but it’s supposed to be a bit of a corker.

Many Bothans died to bring us this information*

Anyway here is a photo of it in the boat shed, yes I know there seems to be an unlimited source of sheds at my mum’s place. We have a garage, a workshop, a boat shed and stables as well as a few barns and other slightly wobbly buildings best described as ‘misc’ including a mysterious shed tucked away in the corner that is supposed to contain motorcycle auto jumble but more on that later.

Here is the other Suzuki in the boat shed.

An 185 ER allegidly in working order.

An 185 ER allegidly in working order.

Again please excuse the awful photos, I’ll drag the bike out into the light in a few days once I’ve finished cleaning out the workshop.

Yet more dark photos of classic bikes

Yet more dark photos of classic bikes

I took a photo facing in the other direction so you can see that this is a boat shed with actual boats in, well a boat and then a lot of scrap bits and bobs.

Look real boats, well one at least.

Look real boats, well one at least.

When I took this photo I noticed something else, a couple of bike tanks so I took a close-up photo of them too.

Some tanks and some art.

Some tanks and some art.

I recognise the white one as a spare tank from a trials bike built around a Villiers Engine that my dad made but the bike one is a new one on me. Perhaps another motorcycle is hidden under all this mess? Can anyone identify the tank?

The painting of a sheep was also made by my dad, it’s a strange shaped sheep because it’s a been painted in this funny style which I can’t remember the name of where people would paint animals to emphasize the positive qualities of the beast from an agricultural perspective. There are loads of these sorts of paintings which show giant square cows, meaty pigs and things.

Anyway, I’ve heard that a load of auto jumble is in another of the sheds, one that has been locked so I should go and look in there. Apparently it’s already been picked over by someone else but perhaps I’ll be lucky. There was a time when this farm was full to the brim with classic bikes so perhaps I’ll find a old Bantam that the other people overlooked.

*A Star Wars quote if you don’t recognise it.

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