Well in theory I was visiting the UK in August (2016) to see my beloved mother and sister. But I spent more time with Martin Cole (pictured above when my bank transfer arrived!) in his wonderful Midland motorcycle dealership (www.alfengland.co.uk) than I did with my family. And well I left the dealership with an almost-new Yamaha MT10 and rode home to Roma.
The weather in the UK was wonderful all week ,warm and sunny, how unusual!!!. So I looked carefully at all of the new and used bikes in stock (Martin sells Yamaha and Suzuki new and almost everything second hand) and I was very tempted by the Honda Fireblade and by the Kawasaki ZZR1400. But then cunning Martin suggested a test ride on the lovely blue Yamaha MT 10 demo bike. Within the first five kms I decided that this was the bike for me!!. Goodness. Unlike cars, a bike is really a “heart” purchase and depends on how you like the “feel” of a bike. This feel is a combination of the power, speed and handling of course but is really much more than that. You cannot get a feel for a bike unless you ride it and the sad irony is that not many dealers will lend bikes to potential customers, given that they cost up to 20k pounds these days and of course can fall over……or worse.
The MT10 is a new Yamaha launched 6 months ago and is powered by the 1000cc engine from the R1 suitably detuned for this naked or “street fighter” concept. The gearing is also shorter, the riding position more upright and the only extras I had fitted to mine are the small windscreen plus the comfort seat. Nigel and the boys got her ready and tweaked the suspension settings for me too. So I was ready!
One of my greatest rides ever, details follow:
- Day 1, Friday the 2nd September. 136km. I fitted my Givi bag onto the back seat (again with help from Nigel, Chuck, Darrel and young Ashley, they really are THE BEST) and headed off towards Cambridge. I took it very easy for the first miles as I had to get used to this brand new feeling. I have had several R1s in the past but not with this new cross plane engine (so called “big bang”), so I really did not know what to expect. Suffice to say that it is breathtaking. Indeed in a recent article in the UK magazine Performance Bikes (see http://www.performancebikes.co.uk/magazine-issues/september-2016) a former racer Tony Rutter suggested that 90% of normal riders could go faster on the MT10 (160 bhp) round the track than on the R1 (200 bhp) as the MT10 is much easier to ride and less intimidating. Amazing. Despite the A14, I was soon in Cambridge to visit Mother.
- Day 2, Saturday. 497km. Following a lovely lunch with Don and his curious mate George (pictured)
it was time to leave. I donned my waterproofs as there was some drizzle in the air and I headed off down the M11 towards London. The traffic on the M11 and M25 was ok and the rain stopped but then the M20 was closed so I had to follow a detour down the M23 to get to the Chunnel, but I got on the train very quickly at about 1630. This was a first experience for me and quite expensive (as I bought an open ticket) but fast and efficient. The bike was not strapped down but stayed quite steady during the 35 minute crossing.
- Then from Calais I headed south down the excellent motorways towards Reims, famous for its lovely cathedral, as I was thinking about possible routes south and I had already stayed in Reims so it seemed like a good stopover. I hate planning as I have always been obliged to plan my trips for work so when I travel for pleasure I really enjoy taking each day as it comes. And for me the bike is all about freedom. The journey was uneventful and I found the Ibis Hotel at about 7pm with the help of Tom Tom of course, and the bike performed faultlessly. Fast, with a stop every 200km to refuel with 14litres. Great fun.
- Day 3. Reims to Bologna. 974km. I was up at 5.30 and left the hotel at 6.00, still dark and damp so with waterproof trousers on again! Weather was cool and damp but the rain was very light and soon stopped as I headed south again. Luckily the bike and Tommy took care of everything and I just had to hang on and watch the stunning scenery. And this bike even has cruise control!!! The French motorways are fantastic and I discovered that unlike the rip-off Italian motorways which charge a bike the same fees as a car, in France the bike pays MUCH less so given that the route through France and Switzerland was several hundred kilometres less than going through Germany and Austria, I decided to stick with France. I developed a routine. I reset trip 1 at every fuel stop. The bike runs to reserve at 13litres so that gave me 200km of autonomy and then the remaining 4 litres gave me a 60km breathing space so I stopped about every 200km to fill up, and then either a coffee or water or whatever.This amazing sports bike even has cruise control which proved very relaxing as well as great fun so the almost 1000km that day were really not so tiring but as I reached Bologna I was feeling a bit weary so I found a great place to stop for the night.
This wonderful hotel and restaurant gave me a lovely room for just 57 Euro and the food in their restaurant was stunning too. Early bed for me.
Day 4. Bologna to the office in Roma. 370km. I got out of the hotel and onto the bike at about 6am and following breakfast, 2 fuel stops and a very uneventful journey I was in the office in Roma by about 10am. The new motorway around Florence is truly amazing and wonderful fun, I took the scenic route and with very light traffic it was great fun and soooo smooth. The MT10 performed faultlessly, as fast as anything on the road and it handles like a race bike. And all this at an average of 15km per litre is a truly amazing package. Stunning. Thanks Yamaha and thanks to Martin and the gang!!
Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.