28 September 2009

500 Miles!

Bike is booked in this Wednesday for its first service. So looking forward to being able to have a few more RPM's. Hopefully this means that I will be able to accelerate a bit more to be able to get out of some of the tight spots car drivers cause!

26 September 2009

Half way there

Well, I am now half way through the run-in period of my ER6F standing at 270 in a week, most I have ever done I think! So far the bike is going well, the only issues thus far have been the mirrors, where you can't see behind you easily, and being stuck at 55mph! It is so embarrassing being on dual carriageways that I have taken to completely avoiding them. Not really a bad thing as such, there are some great roads out there, but sometimes I just want to get home via the quickest route possible.

Still hoping to cover about 100 miles over the weekend, maybe more then I hope to have it ready for first service by Wednesday.

19 September 2009

Got it!

After a tension filled two weeks I have finally taken receipt of my ER6F from ADT Kawasaki. Big thanks to the guys there, everything has been great. The only annoying thing is the 4000rpm limit I have on the bike, which gives me a whopping top speed of about 55mph, good for the engine and probably fuel economy, bad for my right hand ;)

Some pictures:

And a little movie of the start up sequence, the noise you hear is apparently the fuel pump priming:

17 September 2009


On Tuesday I got the call from ADT about the registration plate of my bike. I wrote it down and later that evening I went online to get the insurance. The problem came when I had got the documents. as requested I emailed a copy of the insurance to ADT it wasn't until I got home I noticed that the reg-plate had a wrong letter. Thankfully I was able to phone the insurance the next day and get it changed. Sent the new one off to ADT. Hopefully the bike should turn up today and I'll get it on Saturday. Fingers crossed, I'm not sure I'll be able to put up with the broken nights sleep much longer!

13 September 2009

CoPilot Live 8 for Android

Having brought an Android phone (the HTC Magic) I was keen to find a replacement for the satnav software I had on my old N95 for use on my bike. The only option it seems is ALK Technologies CoPilot Live 8. Searching Android Market I came across it in two flavours, UK maps and full European maps priced at around £25 and £55 respectively. Quite a good price overall for what promises to be a full satnav program. Unfortunately it does come with some caveats but before we get to them lets look at some of the more positive aspects. Firstly it is cheap so it can be forgiven for some of the problems. The actual rendered display is actually very good with full anti-aliasing giving a nice smooth appearance, with a good layout. Menus are reasonably clear, although we now start to go downhill from here on in.

The menu structure is very confusing. Although the buttons are large and describe themselves well, there are just too many layers and it is hard to remember how you reached a certain options later. It can also be very unresponsive if there is anything running in the background. So much so that I recommend that you download TaskKiller so that you can get rid of everything else running beforehand. Instructions come through very clearly with the included female voice, even more so when using headphones. The instructions themselves aren't always that clear in terms of their directions. Quite often you will hear a 'keep left' (or right) instruction when in reality it is a turn you need to do. However one of the biggest issues with instruction clarity has to be roundabouts. As I am on the bike I can't see the screen and rely on clear vocal guidance, something CoPilot isn't good at. Approaching one roundabout I was told to take the 7th exit, not an issue as I have seen large ones before with many exits. This particular one only had three exits, not including the one I was entering from. The roundabout in question is the Crooked Billet on the A30 by Staines. The A30 goes across the middle of it and the system seems to have counted the entrance points to the 'fly through'. As I couldn't see the screen so had no idea which junction it actually meant, I also couldn't pull over to get it out to look so took a best guess (got it wrong too!). After a small trip through and around Staines I ended back at the roundabout with CoPilot telling me another exit that doesn't exist. This time I could stop and pull over to see on the map that I actually needed.

Probably the biggest issue I have with the instructions is the distances that you are told about the upcoming change. They are preset at 2 miles, 1 mile and 500 yards. These are way too far unless you are on a motorway. I mean, how many side roads in a town can you pass in 1 mile? Or even 500 yards? Quite a few it seems. Then it will sometimes tell you as you are almost on the junction (normally when you are at speed) that you need to turn, or it will tell you almost straight after the 500 yard warning. Another problem with having these preset distances is if you have one manoeuvre straight after the previous one within 500 yards. Once again it will sometimes says “do this, then do that” but most often it will tell you nothing until you hit the “ahead do this”. Which can be too late if you say at a roundabout that you need to go right on and stuck in the left lane. As a last problem with this is the time difference the distances are depending on the speed you are going. A 1 mile warning at 60mph is a minute in time, but at 30mph it is 2 minutes and that is just too long. The system needs to either have finer gradings on the distances, I would say 50, 200, 500 yards and a mile, or be time based so that you would get a 1 minute warning, 30 and 15 seconds and maybe a 2 second warning as you approach the turning. The advantage of the time system is that the distance would change depending on the current speed (or the average speed from the last minute or so). Another plus side for time based warnings is that it doesn't matter if it is miles or kilometers.

If you are expecting to run this off of the phones battery be prepared to need a recharge soon. It will last about 4 hours then you'll need to find power. To be fair this seems to be true of any phone with satnav with the GPS sucking power and the screen being on all the time. You can change a setting that will adjust when and where the screen is on for to help conserve the battery. Otherwise pluging it in is the best option. One of the more annoying aspects is when the battery does start to get low and Android wants to warn you about it, CoPilot crashes and quits. The same is true if someone tries to call while you are navigating. This may be due to the lack of memory and Android kills tasks to free memory up. However maybe CoPilot is using a little too much memory and resources. If, like me, you want to be able to listen to music while you ride then you can't with your phone while navigating, it just stutters and stalls. This could well be from the memory problems mentioned above, but I can't see any reason why CoPilot couldn't integrate with Android's built in media player to be able to play music which then pauses as navigation instructions are played.

Lastly we move onto the PC software that supports the device. Firstly when you connect to the PC you do not need to have CoPilot running. In fact you can actually remove the card from your phone, insert it into a card reader and the software will pick it up. This wasn't something that was particularly clear. Once you have it connected you have access to all the additional POIs, voices and maps etc. Aside from the map section you can expect tons of nothing in the rest of the areas. There is nothing there, at all, nada. I tried to add the camera database from PocketGPS which the software said it had sorted and sent to the card. Upon running CoPilot again it came up saying it was integrating the POIs, took ages doing it, then I couldn't find them in the POI list.

As a cheap satnav for a phone you already have it is okay, not great and certainly not brilliant. It does what it needs to do without any bells or whistles you may have come to expect from the likes of TomTom. In a pinch it will do, but you do need to be able to see the screen to make sure the instructions even make sense and you will need to plug it in if you plan a long trip. Visually and auditory it is great, the graphics are very clear and look good. The voice quality is very good and the voice comes through clearly, so you can clearly hear a bad instruction! The supporting PC software is lacking in content and doesn't seem to really do anything that you can't actually do on the device anyway. POIs, other then the built in ones, don't seem to work at all.

Overall it is a cheap and cheerful satnav that is full of problems but does what it needs to do... After a fashion.

11 September 2009

Finance done

Been to ADT again today to finish off the finance. Hopefully bike should be there Tuesday and I will be able then to pick it up Saturday week. Waiting now for the call to tell me the registration plate then I can get insurance sorted ready fpr pickup.

Only a week to go! Yay!

08 September 2009

Finance gone through

Well thankfully all the finance jaw gone through on the bike. Now the long wait for delivery. Oh, and I'll need to go back and do some signing of paperwork to finish it all off.

05 September 2009

Test ride of ER6F

I'll admit that I have lusting after the ER-6F ever since I saw its refreshed looks back at the 2008 NEC show. Today I finally got my chance to ride one. I arrived at ADT Kawasaki after having got a little lost and stuck in roadworks in Southampton. Before being allowed to take the bike out I had to sign a disclaimer saying I'd pay the excess of the insurance should I damage the bike. After that given the once over with the controls and the "if this light comes on don't got any further" talk. Finally I was able to get out onto the road.

The first thing that should be said is that I do not know Southampton at all well, in fact I don't know it at all other then the roads I came in on. After heading out I just went where the roads took me. Initial thoughts on the bike were really good, the acceleration was excellent and most importantly the brakes worked so much better then the GS'. The problem was the traffic, it was a nice sunny day and everyone was out. However as my confidence grew with the bike I started to do a little filtering. One of the comments that I remember reading about the ER6F is that the mirrors show nothing other then your elbows. Not something the I noticed, yes there was a large view of mine, but once adjusted wasn't any more of a problem then I have with my GS.

Bimbling along at 30mph one thing I did notice is the vibration from the engine. My GS being air-cooled has tons of vibration due to the lack of water to dampen it, but I was surprised how much there is on the ER6F. Considering that this new '09 model has the rubber mounted engine etc. I expected much less then I got. The riding position did make up for some of that vibes that I got, it was an excellent posture for riding around town in all the weight of my body feeling shared across the pressure points (bum, shoulders and wrists).

Eventually I somehow ended up on the M27, not sure how but I did. This was the first opportunity that I had to really open her up. Pulling onto the motorway I was stuck behind a car doing 60mph, as soon as I could I checked and pulled out into the middle lane and opened the throttle. The grin that was plastered to my face was immense. I am the first to admit that I have not been on many powerful bikes, I haven't ridden any. My most powerful bike to-date has been my little GS500. If this is what 70 odd BHP feels like, I am glad I have yet to ride a superbike. I was doing a large amount of speed before I realised what I had done! Quickly I backed off the throttle, got the bike into sixth gear and cruised at 70mph. You notice when you are doing 70mph on my GS, even with the little fly screen which takes a brunt of the force, you know you are at speed. The ER6F's fairing done its job at keeping most of the wind away from me, to the point where the speed was creeping up and I hadn't noticed because I wasn't being hit by the wind. Again the vibrations were becoming noticeable again at certain speeds. It is almost as if there is a number of revolutions the engine has to do and it sets up a minor resonance though the bike.

Eventually I managed to find my way off of the M27 and back onto the streets of Southampton. Another item that I soon realised compared to the GS is how stable it is at lower speeds, walking pace. I find with the GS I am having to make constant corrections if I am doing anything less then about 10mph, but the ER6 was letting me go along at almost walking pace with no problems. Due to its narrow frame and seat gripping the tank was easy and provided a surprising amount of grip. Seeing as I was back to low speeds, the engine has a great purr to it and a double thump noise from the exhaust, most importantly the engine has tons of low end grunt. With that it made getting away at lights a simple matter, not something to be worked at as with the GS.

I am sure I am going to find flaws with the ER6 eventually as I did with my GS. I love my GS, it is my first bike, let along my first big bike. It has done the unenviable job of taking a very green rider, and all the problems what go with that, in its stride. It has been restricted, dropped, knocked over and come away saying "is that all you've got?". For the most part it has been a dependable workhorse that I will be sad to see go. Still I don't have enough room for two bikes so it will have to go!

All that is left to do know is wait for the call on Monday to say that the finance has gone through and then wait for the bike to turn up. This may be the longest ten days of my life!

04 September 2009

On to ADT Kawasaki

So after calling George White to find out what was happening and not getting the promised return phone call, I am now going to be going to ADT Kawasaki in Southampton on Saturday for a test ride. Hopefully a report and pictures tomorrow.