Old Gits Logo 3.gif (12598 bytes)James W

Old Gits European Motorcycle Tours
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James W

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James W

Welcome to James Ws' page

Following my only mate with a bike having a crash (he was okay but bike was a write off) and therefore scuppering any possibility of going away in 2011, I was planning on getting over to mainland Europe and just exploring on my own. However I was a bit nervous so thought I’d post up on pistonheads forum to see if I could jump on someone else’s trip.

http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&t=993760&mid=210705

This led me to join the 2011 Old Gits trip to Gap in France and really opened up my motorbike touring holidays thanks to David and all of the other "Old Gits". I have been on every Old Gits trip since and now always try to add extra few days on to them to go off exploring further (with fellow OG’s, or on my own).

My biking "career" to date:

I started riding very soon after my sixteenth birthday on this fantastic machine:

This isn’t my one, but it is very like it. Top speed of 30mph and a two speed automatic gearbox. Well, it saved me getting the bus. After my mates took the piss out of me relentlessly, I managed to trade it in for something a bit more "sporty" (looking):

 

 Again the pic is not mine but the bike is the model I had, A Honda MT5. As I wanted to take my mates on the back I took my moped test. Yes, a MOPED test, it does (did) exist and passing it didn’t mean you could get anything more powerful, but it did mean you could take pillion passengers and lose the L plates. I was pulled by police about once a fortnight asking either, where are my L plates, or why am I carrying a pillion? I loved getting out my full moped licence and handing it over to see their jaw drop :-D

Anyway upon reaching 17 I thought I’d get something a bit more comfy, so bought this:

A Suzuki GS125, mine had a touring screen, crash bars, a gear indicator display and a four stoke engine, very nice, but not quick enough, so traded in for this:

A Kawasaki KMX 125 I loved this bike, it was my first fast (well 85mph on a good day) bike. I did my test on it and kept it for a year after. Right up until some scrote nicked it off my driveway. All the police found was the tax disc L

Anyway this gave me an excuse to save up and buy my first big bike. I decided on this:

Another Kawasaki, a Zephyr 750, I still remember the ride back down the A23 when I picked it up from the old chap who was selling it. It felt like it was going to rip my arms off it was so fast. I regularly rode it to Canterbury to see my girlfriend at college. I kept this bike for a few years, it was a great all rounder. However I wanted something a bit sporty, so this was my next choice:

A Suzuki GSX600F not a pic of mine, my one was a custom painted grey import. It was black with purple flecks and purple wheels. I have never seen one in a colour scheme like it since (for good reason I guess). I had some great fun on this bike, and one very near miss (another story). It was all going really well until I was caught speeding by a motorbike copper on an early on a Sunday morning going up the A24 just past the A272 junction, on my way to Box Hill. He said he clocked me at over 130mph – damn! A lengthy ban and large fine followed which resulted in me selling my bike to pay the fine (also the insurance went through the roof), so at that point I had a few years break from biking L

I was tempted back by a friend who did some racing and was kind enough to let me have a go on his practise bike on a few track days:

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I returned to the fold in 2007, mainly due the my track day fun and seeing my mate buzzing around on his GSXR750, I also had a bit of spare cash after saving up for something else which I ended up getting "for free" (another story), after much research, careful planning and being quite sensible, I bought this:

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A Triumph Tiger 1050.

I spent the first year of ownership bimbling round the UK. The summer of the following year I joined my mate on his GSXR750 and did an epic European tour, taking in France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Belgium. It was quite a circular route with the emphasis on riding rather than sightseeing (staying off motorways as much as possible). This really opened my eyes as to the sheer pleasure of riding a motorbike in mainland Europe. Bits of the UK are okay but no where near the variety abroad (and the mountains are better).

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During this trip a couple of little kids were looking at our bikes and my mate asked them which one did they prefer, my Triumph Tiger 1050 or his GSXR 750, needless to say it was the GSXR L What did I care, they were a couple of kids, I liked my bike, it was a “good all rounder” however it stayed in the back of my mind. I decided that I wanted a bike that not only did stuff well, but would not be out of place as a poster on a wall in my kid’s bedroom. So I traded in the Tiger and got this:

In the second year of ownership I went on my first OG’s trip. Here’s a pic of the bike near the Gorge Du Verdon (honest!):

It was okayish as a tourer J:

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I eventually traded it in after racking up over 18,000 miles on it in two years of ownership from new. I wanted something that would retain the “sport” but also let me carry a bit of luggage easily and a bit more comfortably. After seeing how the BMW K1200 performed on the OG 2011 trip I took one for a test ride and was won over. I therefore traded in the GSXR and got one of these:

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A K1300S with all the options ticked. The pic is on the day I picked it up (you can see my traded in GSXR in the background). In hindsight I should have kept the GSXR as I still miss it sometimes, it was a very nice bike and the trade in value really didn’t do it justice (mainly due to the mileage I’d put on it), however I can’t fault the K13S. I’ve done over 15,000 miles on the K already and I am still enjoying it, especially the quickshifter with the Akra exhaust (baffle removed). It’s as good as a sportsbike in the twisties but allows you to carry luggage with ease and comfort on the long runs, to get to the twisties. It’s also as fast as the GSXR (well, you wouldn’t notice the difference). I do however ensure I get a full on “sports” fix when the K is in for a service as my local BMW dealership is quite nice like that, they lend me one of these:

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Obviously my youngest prefers the BMW S1000RR as it’s more his size ;-) maybe he’ll get one when he’s older (then I can borrow it).

The K13S is allowing me to travel further afield and really experience touring:

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And that was just last year (Black Forest and Austria). This year it’s the French Alps and further south (possibly Italy), also maybe a trip later in the year to SpainJ