The real importance of rider training

Unfortunately we have daily reminders of the danger of riding a two wheeler be it motorcycle or scooter or moped. When we make a mistake driving our car, we may bend some metal but we usually get away with it especially now that a modern car has loads of driving aids, whereas the same mistake on two wheels can bring injuries or worse.

Given that the dynamics of a two wheeler is complex and totally different to a car it would surely be a good idea if all riders took some basic rider-training to make them better equipped to survive? I have worked part-time for about 12 years with a wonderful motor bike school called Run x Fun and these guys really know their stuff. The owner is an ex-racer Luca Viola and the staff are all racers or ex racers and some famous racers such as Gianluca Nanelli and Fabio Massei, both work with us as well as the amazing brother and sister team Alex and Alessia Polita. Less famous but equally brilliant riders such as Paolo Castrichini also work with Luca and we work mainly at the wonderful Magione track, near Perugia about 2 hours north from Roma.

I honestly think that such a training course should be compulsory. A bike is NOT easy and is not a bicycle. Over the years we have seen many many folks improve and understand the right techniques to control a motorbike and leave the one day Base Course a different rider if not person. We use the race circuit NOT for speed but for safety and we always apply very strict safety rules and of course if all goes wrong then the grass awaits you!! Magione is a short circuit so is not built for speed but is ideal for teaching as it has almost every kind of corner available.

We also run off-road training courses starting from our base near Orte, and the fee includes the use of our bike and the safety equipment. Just turn up!! We also run road courses and personal training as required.

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European trips for you….I have the superb Vito 3.0L van plus an excellent 2-axle car trailer

You need a car or a motorbike delivered from the UK to France or Italy?? You wanna bike holiday in the south of France but do not fancy the 1000km down from London?? No problem. I can come to you, collect the car or motorbike or bicycles plus your panniers or luggage or whatever and take it for you, you pay the fuel plus motorway plus a charge but I aim to keep the costs as low as possible cos I can sleep in the van!!! Perhaps you wanna buy a bike from France or Italy but dont wanna ride it home???

Ask me for a price and dates!!!! I can be fairly flexible and I have winter tyres on the van for the cold and wet months so I can run most of the year round.

Another UK trip

Given that my bikes are all UK registered, I travel quite frequently between Italy and the UK. Sometimes by bike (if the travel is in the spring or summer months so the weather is ok) and sometimes by my trusty van with a bike or two onboard. I love both travelling and France, so the trips are something I really look forward to either alone or in company. The van has a 3.0 TDI V6 engine with 200+ horses and fitted with a great stereo, cruise control, aircon and whatever.

This March I needed to return my Super Tenere 1200 which I traded in for an almost brand new Yamaha FJR1300. The FJR is a lovely bike which the shop had registered as a demonstrator in September 2017, as required by Yamaha UK given that Alf England is a Premier Dealer, and I just looked at the clocks to see that the total kilometers covered so far are the grand total of 63!!! That could be one or at most two demo rides I guess. Wonderful.

OK back to the trip, as you can read about the bike elsewhere. I was not sure how easy it would be to load the Super Ten into my Vito van given that 3 years ago we used an excellent ramp at the shop which I do not have of course. My van is a low roof model (as I like to travel and the Vito drives almost like a car) so interior height can be a problem. So I removed the mirrors and the screen from the bike and thought that I would run here up my aluminium ramp to see how much more I would need to remove, luckily she went straight in with a few millimetres to spare, so all was good. I then loaded up all of the other bits I wanted to return to the shop like the original exhaust, then strapped the bike down, checked the van’s oil, water and tyres and I was ready to go, this was Wednesday morning.

Well I left Roma at about 11am happy to have gained half a day, and headed north on the motorway. The weather was very cold so I had my winter tyres on the van and very valuable they would prove. Winter tyres are great not just for snow but anytime the ambient temperature is below 10ish degrees C as they are softer and grip even in the cold, and they also expel water much better. The temperature was only a few degrees above freezing and as I got nearer to Florence I had to make a decision and I chose to head west towards the coast instead of north because the motorway would climb to cross the Pennines to Bologna and I did not want to risk the snow. In Italy if any motorway gets blocked it is always that one.

So I headed west to Livorno and then north to Genoa and then to the French border so past Monte Carlo and I decided to stop for the night in Nice, where I know a lovely little hotel which is easy to find and has a petrol station next door, ideal for an early start! I found the Esatitude Hotel, parked the van in their excellent underground car park, got some food and headed to bed. About 700km covered today.

The next morning I left the hotel early and hit the road with a full tank as today was going to be a long one. I left at about 4am and the navigator indicated about 1230km for Calais for the P and O ferry to Dover. So I knew that the day would be a very long one but I had booked an open ticket with a 5 day return so I had no real deadline, essential for a fairly relaxed long trip. I covered about 400km before I stopped for a wonderful breakfast on the motorway and then I carried on, the fantastic (and very expensive) French motorways let me make great progress north, I stopped for a snack and fuel refill somewhere near Dijon. The weather for the first 600km was fine and dry, still cold, whereas the second half was rain and snow with loads of snow covering the fields next to the motorway, so only a few degrees above freezing.

Well I then headed non stop for the ferry and I got to Calais by about 4pm and after a short wait and a coffee we were loaded on board and I went upstairs to the lounge, which is included in the open ticket, so for some good coffees plus a snack and a read of the newspaper. We docked after 90 minutes so I drove up to Dover and headed north, Martin had booked my 2 nights at the lovely Royal Arms Hotel in Sutton Cheney and I arrived in time for great beer and a snack before bed, a great day!!!!

The trip back was easier as the weather was a little bit warmer, and I drove the quicker route, stopped for the night in Chamonix Hotel Mercure and then through the Monte Blanc Tunnel. 4600 km total was the round trip.

A new bike, a suprisingly good Yamaha FJR1300AE

I recently traded in my lovely Yamaha blue Super Tenere 1200 for this stunning almost new FJR1300. NEWS FLASH the Super Ten was sold within 2 days! My mate Martin had offered me their demo FJR that he had registered in September 2017 as he is obliged to have six new bikes as demos all year round, which is a bit mad given the severity and duration of the British winter, so it had a grand total of 63 kilometres so perhaps 2 test rides on the clock!

I owned an FJR 1300 a few years ago but I had made the mistake of buying the version with the automatic clutch, which I never really got on with. Setting off from a standing start was always nerve-wracking. This new one instead is the new 6-speed with conventional clutch AE version and is full LED with electronic everything from suspension to ABS to traction control and cruise control and and and. Amazing. Perhaps it even makes the tea??

I had to collect the bike with my trusty Vito van (4600 km round trip) as Brian and I had planned meeting in Germany for a weekend to swop the bikes but the weather was cold and terrible, luckily both the Super Ten and the FJR just fitted into the van by a whisker, only removing the windscreens (plus mirrors in the case of the Super Ten which is a bit taller). I unloaded the FJR from my van in Roma and refitted the screen, and then this weekend the weather was finally suitable so I rode her down to Amalfi.

Wow. This bike is really like nothing I have tried or owned before. It feels very very powerful (150 horses) but her muscles are very well hidden. Of course the bike is very heavy so not easy to push around, but as soon as she gets moving she feels like a small bike, as the weight is very low down and well balanced with plenty of aluminium (the frame, for instance). The gearbox is sweet, the clutch is very light, the engine is the smoothest I have ever tried and the overall feel is really amazing. And the suspension really gives you the feeling that the bike glides over the bumps and deals with everything you can throw at it with ease.

The ride was wonderful and the new 6th gear means that on the motorway the revs are low so the fuel consumption is really good for a big bike (more than 15km per litre, 43mpg) even at really high speeds. At one point I took her up to 225 kph just to try and she still wanted to accelerate, even at that speed she ran as straight as a die. What a lovely feeling, what an amazing bike.

I love this one! Wow.