Monday, 31 August 2015

CCM GP450 - Lucy's Test Ride in the Lakes...

Lucy has wanted to try to ride one of the CCM GP 450's since I did a test ride a couple of month's ago. The salesman from CCM, a guy called Darren was up staying with family in Cockermouth so had brought one with him and offered Lucy a chance to ride one today.

CCM GP450 2015
This particular bike has a new engine in it and is due to go out to Italy in a couple of weeks, so needs a good run in before it heads off south, hence the ride up here, Darren is an ex TT racer and used to race for CCM in the day, so needless to say he was pretty handy on the bikes. The bike was loaded with all the toys, including the full bash plate, raised screen, Garmin 660 mount, rear racks and bigger rear brake pedal.

We all swapped around during the morning with Lucy taking the lead on the GP as it was her test day, as before the riding position was great, the dashboard is really clear, standing up is very relaxed and better even than Lucy's KTM.

Playing in the puddles on Mosser Fell
Off road the bike likes to be ridden quick, the suspension seems better when you push it harder and it absorbs the bumps and ruts really well. The Brembo brakes and discs are really good, you can feel the bite as soon as you touch the lever, I like this.

We had a play in the puddles on Mosser Fell, taking some pics of Darren and Lucy splashing about before finishing up back in Cockermouth. A lovely ride out down some fun little local lanes.

A bit of banter about bikes in general!

CCM GP450 2015.
As before I personally found the throttle at low revs quite jerky, Lucy felt the same, some of this can be put down to us riding carbed bikes all the time, so not used to the response of an injected bike, some of it is definitely the injection system on the bike. Darren says this has been softened from the original race spec engine which just sat on the rear wheel every time you pulled away and I can see this.

 I think Darren was quietly impressed by Lucy's off road skills, she is becoming a very handy lady on a bike and this bike seemed to compliment her style of riding too.

Both of us really like these bikes, they have a cool presence on the road, you feel like your on a bike you can ride for  long way. I like the separate fuel tanks and the off road capability alongside the road manners.

Now it's down to numbers really, can we afford to buy two of them... we'll see...

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bank Holiday fun in Cumbria & Northumbria

This weekend was a planned run with one of the lads I met from Cumbria TRF, Mark who lives near Brampton. We met up at Hartside cafe after a couple of lovely bacon rolls we were off.

Mark rides a KTM 250 EXCF 2003, Lucy was on her 250 EXCF 2007, so it was the orange team with me on the DR. First lane was the rutted lane that runs alongside the road just past Hartside, this is ace, plenty of mud, water and ruts, good to wake you up first thing on a Saturday morning!

Lucy was feeling nervous and rusty as she hasn't ridden since our Spain trip so 6 weeks ago now, so she pootled down like some grandma. The ride up Tynehead got her sorted though, so she was back in the groove.

Mark had a bit of a mare on this as he hasn't figured out the correct gearing for his bike as yet, and steep rocky hill climbs are in between gears, plus his tyres are almost knackered, but he got up it and also managed to get into the bomb hole after the hut!! yeah.. we got the photo to prove it too!

After this it was all the classics of Coldberry Moor and H Lane, Blanchland Common, Slaley Forest and Juniper. Mark hadn't ridden any of these lanes so it was a great introductory day for him as well as a good ride out for Lucy & I.

The weather held off most of the day with just one rain shower as we got into Hexham, the rest of the day was warm and sunny, loads of wildlife was out too, we saw two male kestrels fighting, lots of young pheasants, buzzards, hares and rabbits, all just adding to he spendour of just being out riding on a trail bike in the UK.

The only down side to the day came as a brush with a car park attendant in Hexham, who displayed all those characteristics that council workers seem to adopt... do they go on a special training course to learn how to comport themselves with that square peg, square box mentality?

Lucy's KTM had broken the stand again whilst out, so she leaned the bike against a rail next to the Wentworth Cafe in the main Hexham carpark, to cut a long story short, comments like; and please assume a nasally voice to say the following and you'll get the idea:
Attendant: ''You can't park that there, it needs to be in the motorcycle bay''.
Me: ''It doesn't have a side stand as it's just broken so it needs to be leant against something''
Attendant '' Get your motorcycle fixed then sir, young children could touch the exhaust and get burnt''
Me: ''Is that not going to happen in a Motorcycle Bay then?''
Attendant ''I'm just doing my job sir''

You get the picture, my patience wore thin and when I suggested he had a bit of a 'jobs worth' attitude he seemed to explode, hurling shouts across the car park about me needing to change my attitude... err pot, kettle, black... ring any bells! So I guess that's my contribution to trail rider/council worker positive relations done for this month!

Hey ho, we had a nice lunch in the cafe, then filled up with fuel and headed back out, the sun was warmer now as the afternoon was upon us, we moved along at a steady pace, having a chat with several walkers and encounters with cows and their young. All the bikes were running well, until Mark's KTM decided to have a water pump issue, which kept us on out toes, looking for water refill opportunities.

We dropped into Limestone Brae, rode up over .the moors and down into Alston to finish another good day out. Even though I've ridden these lanes a load of times now, I really enjoy the variety and changes you see each time. Blanchland Common was the driest I've seen it and the majority of the Northumberland lanes were much drier than the western ones on the whole which isn't the normal!

Mark left us at Alton, so Lucy and I headed back up a couple of lanes and the tarmac road to Hartside Cafe and the van. Ace stuff!

Now it's time to clean off the bikes, get them sorted for the next tday out!

Monday, 24 August 2015

AJP PR4 240cc Enduro 2015

Lee, one of the lads we ride with bought one of these this year, he's done about 600 miles on it so far, both in the UK and in Spain on The Vince.

AJP PR4 2015
The main reason for buying this bike was that Lee wanted something light, cheap and fairly modern. He chose this one from his local dealer: Adi's Motorcycles in Selby. The bike cost £4200 and came with heated grips and the upgraded plastic bash plate.

To be fair, Lee has taken a fair bit of stick over this bike, especially from the KTM boys, with comments like: 
'What you need is a bike designed by 2 blokes in a Portuguese back street garage, ''Antonio & Jorge Pinto'' ''AJP'' using 1980's technology! The design was approved by their 3 sisters, Claire, Rachel & Ann Pinto ''CRAP!!'

However it has to be said that the little AJP is doing pretty good, it has handled everything that has been thrown at it so far, including altitude, rocky rough lanes, deep water and lots of jumps and slides as Lee is an ex motocross racer, so pretty handy on the little thing!

Is it a boat or a bike??
So the bike:
Its a 2015 PR4 bike and weighs in at 100kg dry. Cost new is £3850, then the usual on the road bits to add on.

On the positive side, it has good suspension, pretty modern and upto the job of trail riding. The Marzocchi forks are a bit stiff for me personally but give enough feedback and the Sach's rear shock is pretty stiff, which I'm guessing is how lee likes his setup.

The engine is punchy with power where you need it and also a little lazy when you just want to pootle. It seems to spread the power smoothly across the range, both on & off road. Top speed on the road with the gearing Lee uses is about 50mph.

The riding position is nice, it's not as high as a KTM, but you can add bar risers to it to bring the bars up a bit more. Lee is a little on the height challenged side of things so as the bike isn't as high as a modern trail bike, it's easier t get on/off it, yet when Lucy rode it, her 5'10 frame seems to fit to it well too. £33.00 for the bar risers at Adi's shop.

Posing again...
The wheels are the stock 18 rear and 21 front, like most modern stuff they do the job well and most tyres fit them. They are pretty lightweight but strong too, although not sure what alloy they are made from.

Braking is good, with a 260mm disc up front, you can play with it and feather it as you need on the trails, inspiring confidence.

The airbox is at a good height and doesn't suck air in every time it looks at water, unlike our more orange brethren!

We haven't had to use the lights for real as yet, but I suspect they'll be the same as all the other modern bikes, shite... time will tell!

So far all of the bodywork has held up well, through some pretty rough punishment and a few 'moments' where it's ended up on the ground for some reason.

On the negative side:
You can't get at the tick over adjuster as it's hidden behind the frame, so Lee has drilled a hole in the frame to get to it.

The kickstart must have a been a Friday afternoon  trainee jobbie as it catches on the footpeg and is virtually useless... Lee has took to taking it off and carrying it around  on trips like the Strata day otherwise it's not on the bike.

The gearbox is a bit 'agricultural'. It's notchy and overly stiff, maybe this will smooth out in time but we suspect it's just a part of the low cost of the bike, so Lee is just learning to live with it, with the odd grimace here and there.

Mr AJP Robbins!
We like this bike, for trail riding it's ace, the price is it's best selling point but actually it does the job fairly well too, there are little things to sort or to upgrade, but there are on all bikes, whether they cost £7k or £4k, so no difference there... It's proving the sceptics wrong and doing what it was bought to do, what more can you ask of a machine? Lucy wants one after riding Lee's bike for half a day in Spain and I'm seriously looking at one so that I can take the DR off the trails and get her rebuilt as she's taking a bashing from all I do with her.

After the Strata weekend, the AJP has been blowing some steam from a breather hose under the engine, so that needs investigation, but we suspect there may well be increased pressure in the engine if water has been sucked in and mixed with the oil when Andy swamped Lee and the bike in one deeper puddle! Time will tell... 

Update: It turns out the oil had emulsified, so a oil change and that was that sorted!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Rhyader: Two wet days in Wales on brilliant byways

This weekend was the planned Wales visit, Mark, Geoff, Lee, Andy & I all met up at the Mid Wales Bunkhouse just outside of Rhyader on Friday night. After a catch up on the gossip and a few beers, we hatched a plan for Saturday that included a north to south of the Strata Florida, yep the infamous swim fest!

Day 1:
Saturday dawned with Mark waking everyone up at 6am, he was soooo excited by the idea of getting out to play, he hadn't slept and was raring to go... the rest of us were a little slower with the waking up process, as was the rest of the bunkhouse inhabitants for the weekend!

Bacon butties, a cuppa and get the bikes out was the next order of the day, a little bit of fettle and get geared up, then it was off to Rhyader to pick up fuel for a couple of the bikes via a couple of lanes near to the bunkhouse before heading up into the hills, via a cafe for some coffee and a snack, it was utterly peeing down after all and we needed a pick up!

Just pulled out of the mud!

Looking cooler!
Maen-Serth is the name of the ridge line that the trail followed, it was lovely, some good technical bits and nice and long, then off to Caban Coch Reservoir and the lanes that run by the side of there, both excellent and totally different, with our first decent river crossing of the day, all through safe & sound!

Maen Serth in the mist

The Strata was next and as we arrived the sun came out, which was a bonus, so a quick snack and it was off into the land of water... the trail runs through some forest and was an old way that monks used to use, I'd like to do a bit more research about it's history at some point, but that's another story... Anyway, so as we came round into the first technical bits, there was about 6 4x4's on the trail, so we pulled onto the embankment to let them pass, lots of banter and cheery waves, then straight into the first big puddle for us.. Mark got stuck here taking the side trail, so out came the camera, Once sorted it was then onto some technical up hill which took us into the forest itself and our first really deep puddle.

The Northern end of the Strata

Water, water everywhere!

Lee was there first and also the only one not to drown his bike... the little AJP won the day on this score totally! Two DR350's & 2 KTM's were all drowned and had to have the carbs drained, the airboxes drained and the spark plugs changed... oops, glad the sun was shining!

Bugger, that's deep!

Oops all flooded....

And more water...
We carried on and all the bikes got a right good wash, with river crossing after river crossing passing under our tyres... we approached the deepest one, normally anyway, only to find about 12 4x4's all lined up on the other side, an audience, oh bugger!

Lee & I waded out and found the shallowest part, then Geoff came through first, Lee, Mark & Andy next with me as the last one... phew, everyone through in one piece!

The 4x4's were all over the trail and some of the folk there had a good gossip with us, some of them were a little bit off unfortunately, one guy got a little upset as Andy went past, trying not to hit all the open doors and chairs all over the trail, he had to cross a few ruts to get into some clear space and on one of them he gassed the bike and the back tyre spun up several clods of earth, spraying the guy, he was swearing a fair bit and tried to hit Andy with his stool, but was too late, Mark was next up passing them and stalled the bike, leaving us all in the middle of these guys... all ended fine and another story to tell!

We completed the Strata with only one more proper dunking, I dropped my bike into a deep bit where the front wheel got washed out in the current, so another drain the carb, empty the airbox moment followed along with loads of banter about the AJP and it's gloating owner!

From the end of the Strata, we headed into Llawrtyd Wells, as we were all on reserve by now, a great little cafe and fuel fill up set us up for the return leg back to the Bunkhouse, all very happy bunnies in deed...

Beer, dinner in a pub, lots of good chat followed before our room was filled with the joyous sound of men after a pub visit, snoring, farting, grunting etc!!

Day 2: 
Sunday was wet, that's the best description of the day without swearing! The water levels had risen by between 1 & 2 foot overnight... epic!!

You could see rocks in this the day before!
We had plans to ride Monks Trod, this is a moorland lane than runs from North West of Rhyader to Pontrhydfendigaid, however when we got there, it had a TRO on it. dated August 2015, so it had just gone on... bugger, so we retraced our steps around the road and lake track from the previous day then headed out west as was planned, this didn't work out well either as the second moorland lane was washed out with a landslide and had been closed, the sign said for 18 months to get the work done, but it was dated May 2014 and all that had been done from what we could see was to put up fences and padlocks across the river! Bugger, retrace our steps again!

We needed fuel and food, so ran to Lampeter for both, another great cafe, cheap and big dinners, left us set up for a wet ride to Llandovery to pick up the return leg of the day and some trails through woodland, with plenty of deep water sections of course... some fords and a very pretty easy trail back into Rhyader to finish the day.

Cafe in Lampeter... Never got it's name though

Warm and friendly place...

It has to be pointed out at this point that all of the boys wussed out on doing a ford, as there was a bridge! Good job the old DR was up for it!

Geoff all cross rutted...

more rivers...

even the trails were rivers...

It got through this no probs!

Err not the AJP this time!

Nor Mark's DR!

Back at the bunkhouse, we packed up, had a cuppa and a laugh, then all headed home with plans for the next trip already sorted as we're all heading to Northumberland in October for the Northumbria TRF Camping Weekend

Happy days in the rain...

More Info for Mid Wales Riding;

Blog Posts: 
Strata Florida Day
The Wayfarer

Accommodation Notes:
Mid Wales Bunkhouse - Rhyader - Cheap and cheerful, good kitchen, comfy beds, drive to Rhayder for beer or food, plus two more pubs a couple of miles away. No bike storage, no drying room, but plenty of warm showers and it's warm inside.
Llanerchindda Farm - Llandovery - A little pricey, but much posher, nice rooms, good food on site, bottled beers/wine etc, more like a hotel. Drying room, secure bike store and bike wash area. Upto date maps/info of all the byways and UCR's...
The Level Crossing: Llandovery - Not tried this but sounds nice

Riding Info:

Fuel & Bits:
Rhyader: 2 petrol garages & a good cafe, next to the clock tower.
Spares: ET James & Sons, Rhyader - KTM & Suzuki dealer, nice family, fuel too
Llandovery - plenty of fuel and restaurants etc.
Llandriddodd Wells; Fue.
Tregarron: Fuel but not open on weekends.
Lampeter: Fuel and a great little locals cafe.