This blog will be about the life and experiences of an active motorcycle courier in the UK who rides all over the UK and into western Europe. http://www.sdsamotorcyclecouriers.co.uk

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Bike Parking Fees Demo - Reminder

Yes tomorrow is July the 1st, the day of the big demo in London that I spoke of in an earlier post.

If you are a motorcycle rider and you don't agree with parking charges for bikes then your voice needs to be heard, just got to the campaign web site:

http://www.notobikeparkingfees.com

to get the latest information and the latest campaign video can be found here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZapTAX4sRDk

Safe riding

Dave

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Thankyou Motad

I was on a job down to South London last Thursday, cruising down the A1 when the bike started to sound a bit like a Harley, not the right sound for an ST1100.

So I pulled over to see what was wrong and I discovered that the right silencer had become loose where it goes into the collector box, so out cane the tools and I attempted to tighten the clamp but it had no effect.

Well I was loaded with a clients job so I had to press on and get the job done.

Friday morning I set about this silencer problem, didn't take long to find out what was wrong, the silencer pipe itself had rotted where it goes into the collector box.

Now I had to get a new silencer fast because I have another job booked for Monday morning, so I called Motad, told them what I wanted and they were very helpful, the silencers arrived this morning (Saturday).

The whole exhaust system was changed on the bike about 45,000 miles ago and as the bike is used in all wheather I think the exhausts have lasted really well. Yes I prolonged the life of the silencers I think by painting them every 6 months with Hammerite, but yes they have served me well.

So yes, a big thanks to the guys at MOTAD for a very fast and friendly service, if you need to replace your exhaust at all you do well to check out their web site at:

http://www.motad.co.uk/

Safe riding

Dave

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Motorcycle Parking Charges

Yep, motorcycle parking charges will soon be a reality if Westminster Council have their way and if they win this concept could spread throughout the country.

This will play havoc for motorcycle couriers when they only park for a few minutes when they are either picking up or dropping off.

I politely would like to request you to show your annoyance at this parking charge for bikes by going to:

http://www.notobikeparkingfees.com

And register and then fill out the form to register your objection. If you are in or around London on July 1st there is a demo bike ride to campaign against this parking fee.

Please visit the site above and register, it affects the future of motorcycle and scooter riders.

Safe riding

Dave

Been A Bit Warm In London

Did a trip down to Tooting in London yesterday and it was a bit warm to say the least especially in the slow moving traffic.

Traffic was worst in the Hangar Lane area where they are replacing a bridge - I think.

Today I had a last minute trip down to Heathrow to collect some raw film from Julia and Kevin Sanders of Globebusters fame. Learn more about these guys here: http://www.globebusters.com

I noticed when I went through the roadworks on the M25 that there is a nasty gouge in the outside lane going towards Heathrow. Car drivers most probably don't feel but my front wheel did, something to watch out for.

Safe riding

Dave

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Thanks Amanda and Nat

I exhibited at a Trade Show yesterday at the Orton Hall Hotel in Peterborough. It was organised by a good friend of mine, Amanda Carlin. The show itself was very well organised, there were various business related talks throughout the day and Amanda had even provided refreshments and a buffet lunch, so I would just like to say a big thank you to Amanda - well done.

If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time you will know that I did mention that I would be at this show in a previous post. I am glad I did, in the early afternoon a chap turned up looking for me, he wanted to have a chat about becoming a motorcycle courier.

His name is Nat and he had ridden all the way from Folkstone, some 180 miles, to have a chat with me about how to get started. We did have a good chat about this and he also got the opportunity to have a chat with the Business Link exhibitor at the show and to sit in in his talk.

This surprise visit really made my day, it's always good to be able to help people where you can.

Best regards and ride safe

Dave

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Allways Keep A Close Eye On Your Tyres

Motorcycle tyres: you only have two of them, your life depends on them, unlike a car which may weave a bit when you get a puncture, when a bike tyre goes the likelihood is you come off!

Even though my tyres are due to be changed next Monday, I was giving the bike a check over this afternoon and found a really nasty split in my front tyre, see the photo below, the split goes about 3mm deep and is about an inch long. So its being changed first thing tomorrow morning.




I dread to think what the consequences could have been if the tyre had decided to shred because of this split, imagine this happening when you are on the really sharp bends of the slip road that brings you off the M11 onto the M25, enough said! Just keep a close eye on your tyres folks it could save your life.

Safe riding

Dave

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Planned Maintenance Day

We have a planned maintenance day for the motorcycle on 22nd June when it will have its regular 4000mile service, new front and rear tyres fitted plus a new back brake disc and pads.

The last 4000 mile service was carried out on the 9th of May 09, so we are racking up the miles at a fast rate now, including the next service it will mean the bike has been serviced 3 times this year so far.

Total mileage since the last MOT carried out on 15th January 09 the bike has covered 10,768 miles to date, for those of your reading that use kilometres that’s approximately 17,228 KM.

The back tyre was fitted in early February 09 so it has given me almost 10,000 miles which is about right. On the subject of tyres I swear by the Bridgestone Exedra G547 on the front and the G548 on the rear. I believe that this is the standard OEM fit on the ST1100, these tyres perform well in all conditions and I am very happy with them. I find that the front tyre last approximately twice as long as the rear.

The next service after this next one will have the bike off the road for a few days as the cam belt will have to be changed as per Honda’s recommendation at approximately 90,000 miles which is a big job.

I have the bike serviced by Les Kirby of LK Motors in Stamford, his knowledge of the ST1100 is second to none and he provides a really good service at a good price. If you live in or around the Stamford area and would like to get in touch with Les, make a comment and I will give you his number.

I know some ST1100 owners advocate having their bikes serviced at longer periods, some have said every 8000 miles, but personally I believe in going by the manufacturer’s guidance of every 4000 miles and I am sure this is why the bike has never ever let me down in any way.

I guess it’s different when you rely on a motorcycle for your business rather than using it for pleasure, I simply cannot afford to break down because it would mean I would have let a client down which simply is not acceptable. Plus, by maintaining the bike properly you know that your safety is assured.

Anyway safe riding one and all.


Cheers

Dave

May Wasn’t Quite As Busy April

May wasn’t quite as busy as April but it was still a good month for courier work, there were 8 jobs in total which put another 2208 miles on the bike.

Again it was mostly work into London but there were a few variations thankfully.

I did have one long job which involved a pick up in Lincoln then 3 drops in Birmingham, Southampton and London with another job booked for the following morning from Cambridge to London.

Chris from Northampton Motorcycle Couriers did the Birmingham leg for me, we met at the A1/A14 services and then he went west and I went south.

The weather for this particular day was reported as being very high winds and torrential rain in the south, but as I approached the M3 around 6PM the winds died down and the sky cleared, guess I got lucky.

Now in order to be able to make the pick up the next morning in Cambridge I elected to stay at the Welcome Break at Birchhanger Green services rather than riding all the way back up to Stamford, this saved me about 120 miles. I think I arrived at the Welcome Break about midnight, it was wise decision to do this and I have to thank Shalini, my wife for the idea.

Then I was on the road again next morning to pick up from Cambridge.

This just goes to show that when you run a courier service you have to be flexible and sometimes eat into your profit a little so that you don’t become unsafe through being too exhausted.

Anyway lets see how June turns out.

Cheers

Dave

Traffic Carnage in London

I did a run down to Oxford Street in London yesterday morning, straight down the A1 from Stamford.

I thought I would allow more time for this trip because the London Underground
has a 2 day strike planned which would mean more cars on the road.

I made the outskirts of London in good time and began to wonder if I was going to arrive too early. Then a little further on it all started to back up around Hendon and the Finchley road was just carnage. I shouldn’t wonder if many car and lorry drivers will be getting fines for using the bus lanes as there were more of those vehicles in the bus lanes than the permitted vehicles.

At around this point the heavens opened and it really rained very hard. Once I got onto Baker Street the traffic got better, then turned onto Oxford Street and it was just wall to wall buses. I only had about 0.2 miles to go along Oxford Street but it took 15 minutes, but because I had allowed extra time for the trip I still made the pick up 5 minutes early.

Getting out of London wasn’t too bad at all, although it was all still clogged up going into central London.

The rain persisted and it followed me all the way back to Stamford.

But the job got done within the promised time frame and the client was happy which is what matters.

Just as a footnote, new road works have appeared on the A1M at Hatfield Tunnel, a lane has been lost on each side and the speed limit is 40MPH, the sign states that the works will last until sometime in 2010, I think this will become a real bottle neck at peak periods and would be a good place to avoid if possible.

Cheers

Dave

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Quick Run To Mainland Europe

Today I had a pick up at 8AM in Tilburg in the Netherlands for delivery to a facility just outside of Cambridge as quickly as possible.

First question was how do I get to Tilburg for 8AM. The solution was travel over on the previous afternoon and stay the night in Tilburg.

I set off at about 1PM from home and made the Eurotunnel in good time and boarded a crossing earlier than the one I had booked. The crossing, as always was uneventful, I usually spend this time by changing the clocks on the bike, GPS and wrist watch and also swap the memory cards in the GPS so that I have the European maps loaded. Then I munch a sandwich or two and have a cuppa from my flask and then it’s usually time to get the gear back on.

As we arrived at Calais, I took a peek out of the window, wish I hadn’t, it was pouring – why does it always rain whenever I go to Europe on a courier job?

Anyway despite the rain I made good progress and arrived at the Tilburg hotel in good time.

I left the hotel at about 7:30AM to go and pick up the package and headed south towards the Eurotunnel at Calais. Surprisingly most of this trip was dry until I got to Ostend, then it rained almost until I got to Calais.

Again I made good time so got booked onto an earlier crossing, then it was onto French Customs, they waived all the cars ahead of me through but pulled me into their checking building. They checked everywhere on the bike, the top box, the panniers, both fairing side pockets and under the seat, they even unzipped the cover on my Air Hawk saddle cushion, they were amazed by this as they had never seen one before. After a thorough check they let me carry on. They were just doing their job which is an important one, but I thought it worth mentioning because this has never happened to me before.

First job after getting off the shuttle was to fill up the tank, fuel is getting really expensive over in Europe, in Belgium I paid Euro 1.35 per litre at today's exchange rate this equates to £1.16 per litre, in Holland it was as high as Euro 1.45 at today's exchange rate this equates to £1.25 per litre, so if you are going across be warned – it ain’t cheap over there.

I always buy Euro's at Thomas Cooks now and carry enough to cover all forseen expenses, the credit card is kept as a backup for emergency use only. Why? Well the credit card companies give you lousy exchange rates and furthermore they charge an extra percentage for foreign puchases, I know HSBC charge 2.99% which is downright rip off!

I recall that on my previous trip to Holland, I filled the tank up in the UK which cost £18.00 and a comparable fill up on the continent cost £27.00 taking into account the cost of the fuel over there, the exchange rate, oh and not forgetting the banks slice of 2.99%

Now it just remained to bang on up the M20, M25 and M11 to the drop off in Cambridge.

All in the entire job went well and I was home again just after 2PM today after covering a total of 706 miles.

Here is the route I took:



Safe riding