Thursday, 23 February 2012

The bikes wake up for the new year

T140D Triumph Bonneville UK Special furthest from camera, Suzuki F650 Freewind nearer

Today was the first this year suitable for the bikes to come out. The Freewind was out a couple of times in December, but since then it's been so cold that the roads have been covered in salt, which causes severe corrosion. Not only was today much warmer, but earlier in the week we had a lot of rain to wash the salt away.

First out was the Freewind, which I rode to Northwich to pick up a Givi top box and rack I bought yesterday on eBay. You can see those fitted in the photos here (the rack atop the box). Last year I found a Givi base plate on eBay brand new and unused that was specifically made for the Freewind; these are like hens teeth as they didn't make many and production ceased about ten years ago, so I snapped it up for a very good price and fitted it to the bike. The Givi box I bought today clips straight onto it (the base plate fits onto the bike's luggage rack and allows the Givi box to be clipped on and off - locked onto it by the box's key - at will).

Next, I fired up the Bonneville. She's not seen the light of day since November, but after a few kicks on the kickstart with judicious use of choke (it's either on or off; no in between, so it's easy to flood the engine if it's left on for more than a couple of kicks) she burst into life and sat blattering and vibrating on her centre stand while I got my helmet and gloves on. After filling her with fresh fuel (Super Unleaded - she has refined tastes) we headed off to the Mobberley area for a few miles around the lanes. 

It is interesting to compare riding these two bikes; the Freewind has a high seat and seems to fly along effortlessly and smoothly despite its single cylinder engine configuration. The controls are light and the brakes very effective. The Bonnie is rougher; it vibrates, especially at tickover and though it smooths out at higher revs there's no forgetting its Edward Turner 1930s parallel twin pushrod design. The clutch is heavy, the brakes a fraction as effective as the Freewind's. But it sounds glorious! And it looks good, too.

The Freewind is a far more practical machine in every way, and faster too; a great everyday bike. The Bonnie has the character! Both have immediate, accurate, and responsive handling, the Bonnie in particular feeling very 'planted' on the road. But it's the Bonnie, not the Freewind, that generates interest from bikers and non bikers whenever one stops.

Let's hope we get plenty of super riding weather this year, so both bikes can get out and about a bit.

Completely different characters - Freewind and Bonnie


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