Check your bike


Why we would not ride motorcycles during the lockdown. What projects have I been getting on with. What I plan to do once the lockdown is over.
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The start of the UK lockdown coincided with the purchase of my new motorbike. I picked up Frankie, a 2018 Kawasaki Z1000SX on 18 March and rode it home. I manged to go for a few short rides on the weekend… and on the 23rd of March the government announced the lockdown! Wow, that’s just terrible timing…

So I’ve had Frankie sitting in the garage unused most of this time. Apart from a few essential journeys: to the supermarket one day when the car wouldn’t start (dead battery), and as a volunteer to deliver shopping to someone vulnerable and isolated.

In my view, taking the motorcycle out for a pleasure ride at this time would be extremely irresponsible. I know a few people argue that a motorcycle rider is isolated, is wearing all sorts of barriers (helmet, neck tube etc) that would prevent virus spread etc and therefore should be fine to have a ride. Also, the roads will be nice and empty and the weather is lovely!

I disagree.

First of all, although I took advanced training and ride the bike safely, lawfully and sensibly, I’m still aware it is a risky activity. Riding a motorcycle is about risk management. Why would someone put themselves at risk when the health system is already expected to be stretched? #ProtectTheNHS.

Second point: cars don’t see us, and they don’t expect us to be on the road at the best of times. If they’re expecting the roads to be empty, and may be already in a stressed or distracted state, that’s only going to make it worse. Why would someone deliberately face this higher risk “for pleasure” when it’s not strictly necessary? #RideSafe

Thirdly, it’s illegal. The police can stop riders and ask them to justify their journey. Don’t give them additional work they don’t need at this time! #DontBeADick

Lastly: the majority of pleasure rides are made better by the presence of mates and fellow bikers. You meet somewhere, go for a ride to an agreed spot where you have a chat over a beverage and a bite to eat. When that’s not possible, have the fun is gone anyway!

So, how to keep the motorbike habit going? I’ve used the lockdown time to do a number of things bike related. I’ve installed some accessories on the bike, worked on some videos, watched a lot of video content from other channels, and even started this website!

I had some older footage that was lying around and created some videos from that, which was nice. Here are some examples (there are more on my channel):

Overtaking examples
Filtering workshop

I installed some accessories from R&G, SW-Motech and others (more on that later, perhaps?) as well as a top box carrier from Shad. The top box came in very useful when I had to do or delivery the shopping!

Also, I’ve worked on some road routes I want to try. Some are for the local IAM group social rides. Some are further afield and more of a dream/aspiration.

When this is all over and we can ride again, I have a few plans. First of all, I plan to take it slowly. I usually ride all year round, so this has been quite a long break. Besides, I didn’t have the time to get super familiar with Frankie on the road. So no going super-progressive on the first few rides: just ease back in.

The new bike has fully adjustable suspension and shocks. Although I’ve been able to set the rider sag on the rear shock preload, there’s some adjustment to be made regarding the front fork preload and damping settings. So I have that to look forward to!

And with so many routes worked out, I’ll have plenty of riding to help with the adjustments and familiarisation.

What have you done that is bike-related during the lockdown?

And what do you plan to do when restrictions are lifted and we can ride again?

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