2008-10-28

Let me see if I got this right.

I know I'm stepping out on a bit of a limb here as I'm not siding 100% with the "poor and innocent victims".
Let's put this into a me-perspective. Let's say I'm out riding my bike merrily being a biker, nuisance, menace to society, anti-social etc that bikers are classified as normally. Then this cr*p old Ford Sierra comes next to me, or let's say I overtake it and the driver pops a fuse and starts "racing me". For all I know this moron in the 1,500kg batting ram might be out to kill me, or at least nudge me "kindly" off my bike and then give me a couple of faces full of fists. Either way, I decide to use my bike to my advantage, it's faster and handles better than the Sierra. Easy choice. I speed up, to try to get away. Now the Sierra doesn't like this, and speeds up even more. It ends up with the Sierra losing control and crashing into another car. Now, it's my moral obligation to stop and help in a crash, but as far as I know I have no legal reason for stopping. And as it's a "safe" car, I'm assuming that the people will stumble out of the car with a bit of bruising etc. So I do the morally wrong, and ride away. After all, I didn't crash, I was fearing for my safety and so forth.
A bit later and I'm sent to prison for six (that's 6) years for causing the accident... How does that add up?
Right, now first of all. I didn't do this, and I'm not involved, but it does seem that this can happen in todays society.
In all fairness, the details on this news snippets are vague, and they're angled towards sensationalism, but the header is quite clear; Death Crash Biker. BBC News is a bit more factual about the Man jailed over five-death crash. Let's make it clear. It's an absolute tragedy for the people in the car that was innocently hit. It's terrible. They are the true victims here. I do fail to see why there's not more shouting towards the driver of the Sierra. As far as I can tell this was the person who caused the crash, and he had two passengers. Shouldn't he be the one that's being crucified?! He clearly drove past his capacity in a car that's not renowned for being the best handling car in the world. Oh, and the biker in this case isn't blame free either. He's been riding dangerously, and if the law deems that he was part of the accident then he's also leaving the scene of an accident. Both very very very bad. That he's been bragging about it just shows how flawed his, and the country's, moral is. But it's hardly criminal?!
Apparently he's admitted causing death by dangerous driving (under how much pressure?!). Sure, ban the biker for life from being in control of a vehicle, but jail? Surely he'll come out of there as a bitter person not having much faith in his freedom.
Either way, total tragedy, and I don't know all the facts. He might have sverved in front of the Sierra to actually really totally cause the accident, and so forth. Still nobody mentions that the Sierra could have at any time slowed down and not caused the accident.
I guess I'm just miffed, and I'll probably get crucified for trying to see this thing from another view than the sensationalist journalists seem to take. I'm very sad that innocent people had to suffer. That's not right.
Bit more here: Death crash biker loses jail term challenge . Thanks M.

2008-10-24

Patch; It's my bag, baby

Cats have a tendency to sit on things you leave out. This time it was
my KTM SuperDuke's pouch that I left on the floor. It's her bag now,
baby.

2008-10-23

New motorbike; KTM 990 SuperDuke R

It's been a manic 45 days or so. Not only did I have my first "proper" motorcycle accident, I've also written my first bike off (hopefully the last). Not only this, but I also managed to have a motorcycle crash at about 110 miles per hour, and stand up once I had stopped tumbling. Yes, you read that right. Thanks to all my protective gear (and probably a shedload of luck - if you believe in such things) I managed to roll down the road, onto the grass and into a wall of old tyres. Stop, and stand up. This is, IMFO, a big F.U. to all of you who say that motorcycling is dangerous. You should read up on the subject first. Anyway. My belowed BMW K1200R is now a mere memory of good times and finally a piece of bent alloys and scraped/broken plastics. I miss you so much.
For about 45 days I lived in limbo; We (mainly Crazy Caz) dealt with the insurance companies, I was pondering the future of my existence, I was wondering what there would be if I didn't go to the next level, was there another level. Could there be a hidden level? But above all, I was pondering what bike to go for after having the BMW K1200R. For you who might not know about the BMW, it's farily heavy, quite long, but it handled like a ballerina despite being overweight. It was also blessed with one of the most powerful engines I've ever ridden. It actually had the torque to do a standing burnout at 1,500 rpms (out of 11,500), idle is 1,000 rpm. It looked aggressive, in fact, I've never seen a bike like it. But now she's gone (and I know it's a faux pas to say "she" about a vehicle, but I really liked this bike).
The dust is just about to settle properly. The insurance claim is 99.5% done, finances reshuffled, and I have a new bike. I didn't have the heart for going for the same make/model. I just couldn't replace my "baby" with another baby. BMW had announced the K1300R and I wasn't very keen on it. It looks a bit off, and I just can't see what super-duper-hero-powers I'd get from an extra 100cc, especially as it's still a heavy beast.
Without stringing you along further, my new bike is a KTM 990 SuperDuke R of 2008 vintage. This was the only bike that provided the following characteristics (jap manufacturers make notes!).
  • High quality components for the chassis (Suspension, brakes and frame)
  • Fairly low weight
  • Fairly high power
  • Without ridiculous top speed (it's easy enough to annoy/get hurt without doing 130mph+)
  • Without swiss-army-knife-riding position
The KTM SuperDuke R weighs under 190kg without fuel. That's basically the weight when you'd run out of fuel. Unlike jap-manufacturers (and other culprits) this weight is with all other fluids, and they do mount up. It's got 130bhp claimed. My bike comes with the dogs-doodah-exhaust made in Tit-anium which should help it even more. It's got high quality WP adjustable suspension front and rear. And the rear damper has got high and low speed compression damping. Sweet. It's also got an adjustable WP steering damper. Wheels are Marchesini. The brakes are Brembo ones, 'nuff said. They're lovely. The frame is stiff as Hef on his birthday with a truckload of bunnies and another one of Viagra. Giggety. And it looks friggin mean. It comes in my favourite colour too, satin black. Simply the best.
The riding position is upright, the seat is so hard that you start dreaming about having a nap on a park bench. Strangely the seat is not annoying.
And, it's got no fairings (or Fairies as by my "expert" in-law), which means that top speed will be reserved for only short stints that really require it, than "defaults" 150mph+ comfortable rides.
Bad points?
Well, "my" dealer is 45 minutes away. It's got 4,000 mile service intervals (Der Panzer had 6,000) and I'll invalidate my warranty if I change oil myself. Go figure. Above all, the low rpm fuelling is absolutely positively totally incredibly fully abysmal. It's as crap as the mayor of the City of Crap, in the valley of Crap, in the county of Crap, in the country of Crap, on the Continent of Crap in the hemisphere of Crap on the planet of Crap in the solarsystem of Crap.
I have never ever experienced a fuelling that has had the urge to throw me off like a rodeo bull when approaching a roundabout, calmly. Something will have to be done abou this. Did I mention the fuelling isn't up to my spec..?
But other than that it's quite a fantastic bike. Not only from the components, but from the engineering too. I changed the clutch cover and got to see the clutch basket. It's filled to the brim. It's the most tightly packed clutch I've ever seen. It's beautiful. Another thing is, I can remove the rear tail unit by; 1) Unlocking the seat, and just yanking it off. 2) Pull a lever, and just simply yank the whole rear body work off. Full access, immediately. Awesome. Same thing at the front. I unscrew two screws at the headlight cowl, and the whole thing pivots forward. Easy access to everything. Perfect.
We'll see how the bike grows on me. Right now, it would be pink fluffy clouds if the fuelling gremlins wouldn't be huffin' about.

And, finally; 'ere she is!
"Funnily" I've already tinkered on the bike. It came loaded with some Carbon fibre bits and bling bits which I have removed. The bike was a bit more expensive than I wanted to spend, so I decided before buying it that I'd get rid of some of the "extras". I've now sacrificed about 700 grams of added weight for the odd £450 returned (Subject to contract. :P). I've also built a prototype "tail tidy" for it getting rid of 450 grams. Next up is, Finnish flags, heated grips (HEY! I'm 35, and I've had 2 BMWs prior to this!), GPS mount, and so forth...

... I think I like the bike... :)

2008-10-08

Archos 405 2GB + Bullet Camera

I've just received this Archos 405 2GB media player plus the Archos Helmet Camcorder (whch I like to call a Bullet Camera). I've taken a few test videos. Quality is OK, but the useability leaves a bit to be desired. I can't for example start/stop the whole defice from the remote control. I have to start the device, then use the remote to start/stop recording. Then we have the fact that the microphone is on the remote and clicking the remote gets recorded very well. Another annoying fact is that the "DVR Travel Adapter" (the piece that clicks to the bottom of the player/recorder) has got a circular power input, whereas the actual Archos 405 gets charged through a mini USB slot. This means that I can't get a standard USB car-charger to power this device on my motorbike. I'll now have to find some sort of an multi-car-charger-thingy. And, it seems like I can't make the device power on from connecting the power... but natrually I've not tried as I don't have a charger with that connector.
Almost forgot, the cost for this set-up is £143. About £45 for the Archos 405 2GB, a 16GB SDHC card at £23 and the expensive camera at £75. This is pretty much the cheapest set-up I've been able to find (that records to some sort of quality).
Hopefully I'll get some nice footage - we'll see.

2008-10-07

Halleluja! BMW Motorrad are ditching their 3-button indicators

It's been a long time coming, but the new BMW K1200* series now have "proper" indicator switches!!!! (sorry for the exclamation marks). Let me make sure I cover all bases.
"Normal" indicator switches on a motorbike is handled by one multi-switch. It's located at your left thumb. You push it towards the right to turn right, and you push it towards the left to turn left. You push it in (forward actually) to cancel the indicators.
Now, BMW, who insist on doing things "a different way" has at some point deviced that you need one switch on the side to which you're turning. This results in one switch on the left and one on the right. It sounds logical, but it's not. On top of this you need a method of canceling the indicators, and the BMW idjiteers have placed another button for that at your right thumb. You push it upwards to cancel the indicators. (And for reference there's no other bike manufacturer that insists on having a button that you push in a totally unnatural direction. Imagine if you'd have a mouse button above the keyboard operated by your thumb.) All in all you have three buttons operating your indicators, two on your right hand controls and one on the left hand controls. Some bikes have also have a hazard indicator cancel (and on some you can activate the hazards on the same) button.
Let's forget the manufacturing costs of all these buttons (including the cabling etc), but lets have a look at how you operate them. This is what happens in UK (riding on the left hand side of the road). Let's do an overtake. You need to accelerate, indicate, change gear, overtake, indicate again and then possibly slow down. Right, so let's pull that apart into molecules. First I indicate right with my right hand thumb, pretty much at the same time I need to apply throttle with my right hand. Notice I have to use my right hand to do two controls. I've moved lanes and I'm now overtaking. And at this point, you might need to change gear. This involves grabbing the clutch with your left hand, pretty much at the same time when you need to indicate left to get back to your original lane. Notice again how I have to use one hand to perform two actions. The next step is to slow down - for example if you have another car in front of. You now need to use the front brake with your right hand, at the same time as you need to cancel your indicator by lifting your right thumb upwards. Once again I'm using one single hand to perform two different actions.
Ok so this is in a left hand "drive" country (which incidentally covers more people than right hand drive countries). The situation wouldn't be too different riding on the "right" side of the road. Obviously the system works slightly better if you overtake on the left. But you're still using two hands to do one control action.
With a "traditional" set of controls the right and left hand controls are divided into two logical "hands". Your right hand controls acceleration and decelration (throttle and brake). Your left hand controls the clutch and auxillary functions, such as indicators, lights and horn. Quite logical in my not so humble opinion.
I'm so relieved to see that BMW has come to terms with this on their "flagship" bikes (previously the F650 series and other ones had had "traditional" controls). The new K1200R, K1200S and K1200GT as of 2009 model have got real proper indicator switches. BMW has finally learnt that you do not need to have multiple switches to operate one function. And above all, you don't need to mix in the hand that controls the speed!
Well done, BMW! About 15 years or so too late, but still. Well done!
The pictures attached to this post are 1) left hand BMW-bar. You can't see the orange big indicaor button, it's hiding just below the red horn button (which incidentally is where the indicator switch it on a "normal" set-up. Oh the times I've honked at people when I've tried to cancel the indicators). 2) The right hand BMW-bar, showing the orange indicator switch and the cancel button above that. And finally 3) the new BMW switch. Aaah... all is well!

Banks have double standards..?

I find the current financial situation quite annoying. BBC keeps reporting that banks' shares keep falling. I have very little sympathy for them. To me they deserve to go bust if they've done bad business. Just like any other company. Sadly it isn't that easy. What the banks has done (and this is the bad business part) is that they've given away more money (as loans) than they actually have in savings from the customers. They knew this was the case, but in the stupid banker's head it's OK as long as you're making money on the money you've leant out. It's always been a fact that if everybody would go reclaim their savings from the bank (i.e empty all your accounts), the bank would go bust. But even if you'd just take out the money of your savings less your debt (personal loans, mortgages etc), the banks would still go bust.
Anyway, I have a really good way to save the banks from going bust. Or at least give some of the money back to the bank. All you fat bankers who've had bonuses over £10,000, I think you could lend that money back to the bank at 0% interest. I know, I know, poor you, why you, why be mean to you...?!?! well, it's simple, you probably partook in the decision of overdebting (that's probably not a word) your employer. So why don't you now take your responsibility and pay the employer back, and say you're sorry for you stupid decisions. Come on, fess up!
Rant over..!