It is hard to explain the exhilaration, the anticipation and the
excitement I feel when I get on my Suzuki GSX-1250FA sports motorcycle.
From the moment I press the starter button and that 1255cc engine fires
into life, I experience such a rush and whether I am touring and
enjoying the freedom of the open road and the beautiful countryside or
opening up the throttle in sports mode on the twisty roads, the
interaction with the motorcycle is just awesome.
This is a diary of sorts (started August 2014) on my learning to ride a motor cycle with Saltire Motorcycles in Edinburgh, Scotland and achieving a full licence.
It includes my ongoing experiences with my motorbikes, my photography as
well as my choice of clothing, accessories and my biking aspirations.
Photography is an excellent
hobby and although there are many disappointments there are also many
highs when the images come through.
I am still enjoying my
compact camera and although it is not small enough to fit the average
pocket and it has a fixed lens, the manual handling and the image
quality are fantastic. Sure there are limitations with the 35mm 'field
of view' but for landscapes and street photography, even general
photography, it serves me very well. I maintain that the handling of a
camera is very important to my enjoyment of photography and in that
respect the X100s delivers a great buzz and
it is more than just
a mere tool.
It's the same kind of enjoyment that I get from cleaning a vinyl record, placing it on my record deck, gently placing the stylus on the first
track and relaxing to some smooth music with a glass of wine - it is a
As much as I enjoyed my
photography, it was not
enough, I have been retired for nigh on 10 years and I was in a rut, I
required a new goal. I missed the adrenalin rush, the challenge of
pushing myself to the limits
and above all else a renewed
sense of danger that had
been so much part of my
It was getting late in the
day and I had to do
something about it - so I
set up a project, not a
photographic one but one
that would really test my
nerve and my resolve. Yep, I
would become a biker and not
a laid back Harley type but
a sports biker. I wanted a sports/tourer rather than a cruiser, a bike that I could lean
hard into the corners and yet was comfortable on longer journeys. Therein lay the
real challenge because I did not have a motorcycle licence
I started the project in May 2014 and by the 1st August 2014, I had
completed it and was riding my own motorbike.
I had a car licence and
mine by default also included a provisional
motorcycle licence so I purchased the
Highway Code/Traffic Signs Booklets and
Theory Test/Hazard Perception DVDs
Motorcycle Theory Test.
I studied for a few weeks using the DVDs on a computer and then sat the
theory test at the
government test centre in Edinburgh. Basically it
was a computer driven
multiple choice exam and the hazard perception part included videos of
travelling on the road and clicking a mouse when I recognised a
potential hazard (e.g. like a horse on the roadway).
After I passed the theory test, I had to complete a compulsory
which included road training on a 125cc motorcycle with L plates using
an approved local training centre. Note: If you simply want to
ride up to a 125cc size motorcycle with L plates with a motorcycle
provisional licence, you only require to
sit your CBT which lasts for 2 years before you have to sit another one
- the motorcycle theory test is not required.
With any new challenge you require incentive, a driving force that
ensures you cannot renege on it, so I purchased a Suzuki 1250cc FA
motorcycle, some motorcycle protective clothing and enrolled at the
local training centre in Edinburgh for a
Direct Access Scheme Riding Course spread
over 3 months. All of this including the Highway Code/Traffic Signs
Booklets and the Theory
Test/Hazard Perception DVDs were
Saltire Motorcyles in Edinburgh who
also supplied the compulsory CBT training. Saltire
initially sold me a second hand 125cc motorcycle to practice on whilst my
Suzuki 1250FA was
on order and I handed the 125cc back at the end of all the courses
(undamaged) for the same money that I paid for it. They also gave me
a great discount on my motorcycle clothing.
Motorcycles - Edinburgh - Scotland
The Satire Motorcycles Training
The CBT is basically a cut down version of the Module 1 and 2 DAS course
and I found it relatively simple to ride a 125cc motorcycle. The bike is
lightweight, easy to control and the training is geared to making sure
that you are safe on the road and that you can control the bike. It is
up to the instructor to decide if you are capable and there is no formal
The Module 1 and 2 DAS training experience with Saltire Motorcycles was a real blast and
the 650cc bike they provided was very powerful and delivered a very nice rumbling noise
which was very
pleasing to the ears. I managed to drop it once during the off-road
Module 1 training and fell on my side but I eventually got the hang of
Once you get going on the public roads, the training
comes into it's own and brings great enjoyment, especially on those
country roads and sweeping bends. Everyone has weaknesses which have to
be ironed out and mine were the figure of eight and the U turn in Module
1 and roundabout road positioning in Module 2.
I have driven a car for nearly 50 years BUT riding a motorcycle
is a whole new ball game and riding in today's city traffic requires a
whole new set of balls which fortunately, I possess. The whole
challenge was mentally and physically demanding and I often reached home
totally shattered from the training experience. I was fortunate, I lost
weight, became physically and mentally fitter and I
passed all the government examinations first time - the Theory/Hazard Perception
Test, the CBT (only one where the training instructor decides), 650cc Module 1 Off-Road Test and the 650cc Module 2
Practical Test on the road, albeit with a few faults in Module 2.
Saltire Dealer Support
I regard dealer support as paramount and I believe in supporting the
dealer. It is great to get all the service at the one place and I like
the atmosphere and the ability to relax when visiting the premises and
enjoy a cup of coffee whilst perusing the merchandise. I purchased
everything from Saltire Motorcycles - training, bike, Oxford Boss
padlock, Shoei helmet, Kriega R35
backpack and GIVI XS307 tank bag, Rev' It, Furygan
and Bull-it clothes and if they did not have my size in stock, they
ordered it in for me to try on. I found the pricing excellent and more
than a match for the internet on-line alternatives.
Suzuki 1250FA Sports/Tourer Motorcycle
From the start I decided that I would purchase a white painted Suzuki 1250FA motorcycle
(see images below) so that
I would be easily seen on the road, it delivers optimum torque at 3,700rpm,
a 0-60mph of around 3 seconds and is ideal for relatively
quiet cruising at 70mph. The 1250FA has a four in line cylinder engine so you are not going to get that rumble like the Saltire Suzuki Gladius training bikes which sport a 650cc V twin cylinder engine and the 1250FA
snarl when you open up the throttle. However, it has serious
power and the acceleration is just phenomenal for such a large bike.
Fortunately, I am limited to a running in period for the engine so for
the first 600 miles I will be keeping the revs down to below 4,500rpm
and gaining more handling experience. Apparently a new bike with brand
new tyres (or new replacement tyres on an old bike) requires
careful riding up to 100 miles until the tyres shed their smooth coating
and bed it, so I will be careful on the corners. Now that the tyres have
travelled over 100 miles I am finding that the sports handling is exceptional and 2.5
hours straight touring is the average before I have to remove my
backside from the seat and take a rest which is not a bad thing in any
case. More on the bike in my
Suzuki GSX-1250FA Review.
Images of my new bike using the Fujifilm X100s camera -
I am very fortunate that I have worked hard all my life and now in
retirement, I have enough money to indulge in my passions.
There is no doubt that riding a motorbike can develop into a full blown
lifestyle which commences with the style of protective clothes you wear,
the type of motorcycle you ride and the company you keep when you are
out on your bike. There is no doubt that it can become addictive and you
find that the motorcycle is more fun than the car - you just feel more
alive as you interact with a motorcycle on the road.
The motorcycle is the perfect excuse to get away from it all especially
as I will not take the responsibility of carrying a pillion
passenger. I am not a member of Facebook or Twitter and my mobile phone
is very basic so there are no emails or smart phone distractions. Nope,
it is all about the enjoyment of riding a motorcycle and I find
myself visiting biker cafes and dealerships for coffee whilst
perusing the motorbikes and the merchandise. Discussions with other
bikers centre around the latest motorbikes and the latest motorbike
races but conversations relative to politics, religion and political
correctness are avoided at all costs.
Knockhill Race Circuit is a must
during the race season and you head along to soak up the atmosphere with
It's not every day that you head down the road on a touring trip,
perhaps to the Lake District or Yorkshire or up north into the Scottish
Highlands or even further afield but when you do plan that trip and take
to the road, it is a great feeling. Touring is relaxing as you cruise
along and take in the countryside and the views from the saddle. The
roads are usually unfamiliar so there is not the same desire to open up
the throttle and lay it down on the bends. You can pre-plan your hotel
stops or just add some excitement to the trip by taking your chances at
a bed and breakfast stop over and if all else fails in the countryside
there are plenty B+Bs near the main motorways. I dislike luggage racks
and boxes on my Suzuki GSX-1250FA motorcycle and prefer instead to use a
backpack with clothing and soft stuff and a smaller bag for my shoes and
harder gear secured to my pillion seat with quick release clips.
Local trips nearer to home offer just as much freedom of the road and
terrific fun when you open up the throttle (a bit) on those
twisty country roads. One of my
favourite 'lunch' trips is
Edinburgh on the A702 city bypass then the
Moffat for a meal at one of the
many cafes. The road back to Edinburgh would be via the A708, up and
over the hills to
St Mary's Lochwhere you could
Glen Cafe Bistro(an alternative
lunch spot) which is frequented by hoards of bikers before swinging left on the B709 to
Innerleithen and then the A72 to
Peebles and the A703 back to the A701
at Leadburn for Edinburgh.
Motorcycling does not consume my entire lifestyle but like many bikers
from different backgrounds it is now a large part of it. So much so that
on a fine weather day, I will be firing up my Suzuki GSX-1250FA and
leaving the car in the garage.
Clothing and armour protection are all important (check out my link to
my clothing above) as is the style in relation to the motorcycle you
ride. I have been lucky in that I did spend a great deal of time on the
Internet and at my local dealership before I purchased my gear. In the
end, I still added more clothing and accessories (check out my link
to my accessories above) and built up my collection as required. I
also put together an article on the subject of
Motorcycle Protective Clothing.
A Second Motorcycle
Early in 2015, I got it into my head that I required a 2nd motorcycle
for travelling around the city, so I tried out a
Yamaha MT-07 which I thought would
make the ideal 'urban' bike. In the end, I purchased a
Yamaha XV950R ABS
but it ended up gathering dust in the garage.
Truth be known, riding the Yamaha XV950R did not really agree with my
lower back and I could only commit to short trips on the bike. I much
preferred to ride my
Suzuki GSX-1250FA sports/tourer and the adrenalin rush of riding the Suzuki around the country bends proved
too addictive, so I sold the Yamaha in 2016.
Now that summer
(2016) has finally arrived, I am out and about a lot on my
Suzuki GSX-1250FA Motorcycle which is 'freaking awesome' on the country roads. A daily dose of adrenalin is just the ticket and I follow in the steps of one of my heroes',
T. E. Lawrence(Lawrence of Arabia) on his
Brough Superior SS Motorcycle. Incidentally Lawrence was killed on his bike, avoiding 2 kids and their bicycles.
Nearly 2 years on and the handling seems to get better and better and
when I started riding the bike I had strong upper body strength but I
found that my leg hamstrings had contracted over the years and thanks to
my 68 year old worn vertebrae my lower back muscles left a lot to be
desired. However, these weaknesses never proved a problem when riding
the Suzuki because of it's upright (half sports) riding position
and the 805mm low seat BUT I did take out a few sports bikes for
test rides and only then did I realise that I should address those
I decided to commit to
body building exercises each
morning to strengthen my lower back and upper leg muscles as well as
stretching the leg hamstrings. I also undertook a regime of push ups to
strengthen my wrists and
My Suzuki GSX-1250FA is a very hard motorcycle to replace thanks to it's
massive 108Nm torque, it's comfortable upright riding position and for
all it's 257Kg in weight, I am still able to lay it down on the corners
and when I drop down the gears, the acceleration is phenomenal.
was the 5th of May when I got my hands on a 2017
BMW S1000RR Sport
motorcycle for a test ride and it was awesome. My wrists and
the base of my spine held up well and so did everything else but it was
a different story when I rode it for a prolonged period, especially in a
stop/start urban environment.
The base of my neck developed an unbearable pain and despite the superb handling, the ferocity of the performance and
the sheer fun, I reluctantly had to admit that my old age and worn neck
vertebrae did in fact have limitations. All my exercises had paid off to
strengthen my wrists, lower back, my forearms and shoulders but my neck
Fortunately, I have a
fall back position to my dream sports 'roadster' motorcycle which has a
more upright riding position and I have already tested the 2016 variant
BMW S1000R Sportwhich is the dogs
bollocks without any pain. The 2017 model now includes a rip roaring
exhaust as standard.
The BMW S1000R Sport is not the most inexpensive option for a 'roadster'
motorcycle but it is laden with the latest technology and the extra dosh
is well worth it. The 'off the shelf' black bike with the optional dash
of red paint and a BMW alarm system comes in at £12,700.00 vat
inclusive in the UK.