27 August 2010

Hein Gericke Streetline GPS Bag

Satellite Navigation is a great tool to help you get to a place you haven't been to before. Unfortunately the selection of sat-navs for bikes is rather limited and expensive. It is somewhat annoying given that you can pick up car versions for around £99 (although quality at that price can be suspect!).

Enter the Streetline GPS bag from Hein Gericke. This is a waterproof bag that can attach to the central section of your handle bars with Velcro ties. Of course if you have clip on bars then this won't be of much use, although it will attach to HG's line of compatible tank bags. Lets get down to the essentials. It is waterproof, has a small port to allow power/audio connections, easily removable and cheap. Taking that last point first, the bag retails at £14.99. An amazingly low price that offsets some of the lesser points. As said, it attaches to the handle bars via a pair of Velcro strips. On my ER-6F they just about reach around the connector and provide a sturdy support. It is a little tight and does take some fiddling to get it right. A problem is that it slightly obscures the key switch and makes it awkward to get the key in a turn. Previously mentioned that it will not fit onto clip-on bars as standard, so not a universal attachment.

To get your device into the bag you undo the zip, with its weather proof seal, and insert your GPS between the window and two crossed over elastic strips. The strips help to keep the sat-nav in place and against the clear plastic.

In use the clear window can be a little too reflective and it is sometimes hard to see the screen underneath. However it does allow a resistive type touch screen to be used without problem, although my HTC Desire's capacitive screen will respond even with my gloved hand.

GPS normally takes a lot of power, generally because the screen is always on. There is an opening to allow power and audio leads into the bag without compromising the weather seal. Obviously the assumes you have some way to connect to your bikes battery and that the GPS has a headphone output. If it does have the latter, then you will need some way to pump that into your ears. In-ear headphones are a start but something like an Autocom is ideal, allowing you to listen to music at the same time.

  • Very, very cheap,
  • Easy to fit,
  • Provides access for power/audio.
  • Not suitable for clip on bars,
  • Window a little too reflective.

26 August 2010

TomTom Urban Rider & Rider Pro

It seems that TomTom have finially updated their line of motorbike GPS units, the Urban Rider and Rider Pro. Along the same lines as their "One" car units, the new Riders have a simplified menu system of two buttons - 'Navigate to' and 'Browse map'. IQ Routes and Lane Guidance are also included. Obviously there is a touchscreen that can respond to gloved hands (for the geeky like me, I imagine a resistive screen) and the unit is waterproof.

All the units have bluetooth capability so that you can hear instructions, however only the Pro actually comes with a headset. For me that wouldn't be an issue as I have the Autocom already. A RAM mount comes with it, apparently it fits 'nearly all bikes'. Looking at the list it is unclear if they come with any bike power option as standard. I would assume not as only a home charging kit is listed in the box. Listed in the accessories is a charging bike mount but that will set you back another £45. That said the battery is listed as having an 8 hour life, so shouldn't be a problem for most people.

TomTom are listing 3 versions, the Urban Rider Regional, Urban Rider Europe and Rider Pro Europe. As far as I can tell the differences between the units are the Regional has only one regions map (depending on where you buy it). Europe models have most of Europe covered, although Eastern Europe is a little less. The Pro comes with the bluetooth headset, otherwise is identical to the Urban Europe.

Prices seem to have been lowered too, £249.99 for the Urban Regional, £299.99 for the Urban Europe and £399.99 for the Pro.

Will this prompt me to buy one now? Maybe given that Garmins only solution is £539.99. However having just brought the cover for my 'normal' TomTom 510 I will see how that goes before I spend on a new dedicated unit. These new units are attractively priced and TomTom's GPS software is easy to use (based on my 510) and they have a proper mount while being fully waterproof. Time will tell how good they are.

20 August 2010

Carole Nash Motorcycle Show

Well the show is on again this November, just over a week from Saturday 27th to Sunday 5th December. Still have to ask myself why is it they can't have it during the summer months, or at any time when it would be warmer as I would really like to ride up to it. Don't mind riding in the cold, just not for that long if I really don't need to!

Still there it is meant to have been changed for this year, after they took on the comments from people about the last show. Hopefully it should at least be interesting!

15 August 2010

Red Bull X-Fighters

Well that was a disappointment. Not only was the competition cancelled and changed to a 'show', but the London X-Fighters was not even watchable on Dave. Why? "Sorry everyone but the weather has beaten us". Wow, the weather has suddenly manifested itself and but on boxing gloves?

I understand that things happen outside of your control, had it happen in the past to myself. However I was honest with the reasons why I had to cancel something. As someone on Dave's Facebook page said, that is like British Rail when it had the "leaves on the line" excuse for not running trains.

Okay Dave, you had a problem. Most people understand that stuff happens. Don't treat us like 5 year-olds, if the generator blew up or someone forgot to bring the correct extension lead, let us know. Most of the ill feeling has been because of the lame excuse that we Brits won't swallow anymore.

13 August 2010

Icelandic Bike Tour

 Ever since getting on a bike I have fancied the idea of going on a bike adventure. However I am not the sort of person who takes well to the more exotic places in the world. To be fair, France is an adventure for me! Still a number of years ago I had the fortune to go to Iceland; the country not the shop (for those outside the UK Iceland is a retail chain specialising in frozen foods). It is an amazing place. A few years later TopGear done a piece where they drove 3 cars around the beaches there.

Coming forward, reading the latest Bike magazine I saw an article for a company called Bike Tours UK. They seem to do bike related adventure trips, with Iceland being a destination. They are cheaper too then most of the other biking holidays I have seen. The Iceland trip this year costs a little over an estimated £1000. Many of the other companies are two to ten times that much. I was curious, why are they so cheap. Well you have gotta like camping for one thing, there are no hotels here. You also have to buy your own fuel and food, but then you would on a riding/driving holiday anyway. What you do get is your guide, a 4x4 support vehicle, bike hire, accommodation (camping) and flights. You also get to experience some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen.

I do hope to be able to go next year!

06 August 2010

ER6F Long Term Review

Having now owned my Kawasaki ER-6F for a year now I feel it is time to give a bit of a review having used it over the longer term. So what is my overall view? Excellent, but with room for improvement.


The little parallel twin gives out plenty of poke, especially low down. Having done much riding around town this is of great benefit, making it easy to filter and pull away from the lights without having to rev the engine. When you want to be a bit more spirited you can be, although you do need to keep it revving a little higher. Once above 9000rpm you start to lose it and really should change gear. The biggest problem with the bike being a parallel twin is the amount of vibration. On this 2009 model not much of it comes through to the rider, but some does and on longer motorway trips I have found my left hand getting partly numbed by it. Perhaps the worst aspect of the vibration is that the mirrors tend to show mainly blur. Shame that they haven't been isolated as the pegs and handle bars have been.

Fuel economy on this bike can be great, I have had nearly 60mpg on one run, although averaging around 50. However it drops when you are just doing short trips around town and even more when you want to use the poke of the engine. 38mpg was my worst. Still it is a cheap bike to run fuel wise.


Beauty is in the eye of... well you know. Anyhow I think the bike looks great, certainly compared to the pre-09 model. Sharp angles and lines make it look much more like its Ninja sibling, but without the sporty riding position. Ahh the riding position; I haven't ridden a supersports bike so I can't comment too much, but while the more upright sitting position is great for around town and cruising, it isn't much cop when you want to ride that little more aggressively. I found that I can improve that by moving my feet up on the pegs and that in-turn moves my body forward, putting that little more weight over the front and makes me more confident in faster corners. However I am unsure if that is the right thing to do!

Another thing with the body of the bike are the mirrors. Considering it seems to be aimed at newer riders and commuters, you can't see directly behind you. People will know if an ER rider is looking behind as they have to move their arm in to get past their elbow (or elbow out). Annoying when you do a manoeuvre; either you look like you are doing a chicken impression or have to physically look over your shoulder. One day I may look at getting the mirror extensions and see if they 'fix' the problem. However this shouldn't be a problem to be fixed it should be right out of the box. That is, however, a minor thing really and takes nothing away from the rideability of the bike.

There are some very nice touches to the bike, the side mounted rear shock being one. It gives the bike some distinctive character without looking like it is trying. As I understand it is there to even up weight and allows the battery to be moved to a better location. Along with the rear hugger, stops it being caked by the back wheel throwing up road dirt. Oh yes, it also has a rear hugger. Again this is something I am led to believe is not what you would expect to see on a budget bike.


Basic is the work of the day, budget may be another. This is a budget bike and as such all you get is pre-loading on the rear side mounted shock otherwise nadda. Not that I would expect to see much more, this isn't the sort of bike that would have all the adjustments, at least not at what it was sold at. Possibly do to its low cost there are times the bike feels a little on edge, especially on bumpy B-roads. The rear end feels as if it isn't always in good contact with the road. Maybe more expensive suspension would improve that, but at the moment I have little idea of how to adjust it for the best setup.

I love this bike, it has enough poke to get you going to the wrong side of motorway speeds, feels confident pootling around town, but is also a lot of fun around the B-roads. Having taken it on a trip to Land's End it was commented at how well it pulled out of corners, this was by someone who used to race bikes. I have no doubt that his GSXR750 would run circles around me most of the time though!

If you are looking for a first 'big bike' or something to run around town on with the occasional weekend blast, you can't go too wrong with an ER6F. Yes it has its faults, the mirrors are vibey and not long enough and the rear suspension can sometimes feel a little hard. However this is overshadowed by just how fun it is to ride, and how cheap too. It is in the group 10 for insurance, costs £70 in road tax (I am sure that will go up), and does around 8.7p/mile on fuel (again that will go up if only as fuel goes up!).