Thursday, 3 November 2011

My Biking History until now

As my 16th Birthday approached I managed to persuade my Mom to allow me to buy a motorbike. I remember the day I bought my bike, me and my Dad drove all the way to Brighton (about 200 miles away from Kidderminster) with our bike trailer attatched to the back of the car. It was a Derbi gpr 50 nude that I had bought, a very smart bike it was - totally standard though (meaning it could only just get to 50mph) and only a year old. It was a good bargain, I never had any problems with it at all, with the exception of my indicators sometimes flashing super fast - but who really cares about that?

I took my CBT when I had turned sixteen and I was a nervous wreck, terrified of the little 50cc I had. It wasn't the speed that scared me (there wasn't much of that anyway) it was the fear of dropping it and stalling at traffic lights. To be honest, my first month of riding was absolutely awful, I would prepare myself at the traffic lights and as soon as they turned green, I would panic and stall. Or at other times I would see an oncoming car and panic and go too wide around a corner (I am a bit of a dithering idiot).

Me on my 50, a few hours after passing my CBT - January 2010

Thankfully for me (and other road users) this dodgy riding didn't last long, and before I knew it I was high flying on the way to my first camping trip to Welshpool in May. I was joined by two of my riding buddies on their 50's (a Motohispania Rx50 and a Yamaha Tzr 50) and it was a pretty good trip.

The three of us setting off to Welshpool - May 2010
However, shortly after this trip I had my first accident on Father's day. I remember this because me and my Dad had decided to go for a father-son ride out and then come back home to watch the Moto GP later. There was slippy diesel on a round-a-bout which ended up with me low-siding across the road. Luckily, I was only doing about 20mph so I wasn't hurt, but for the next few weeks I had started to wince whilst going around corners as I still had the sensation of falling off my bike fresh in my mind, making my riding a lot less fun.

My mate also suffered from a slightly more serious crash down a 40mph dual carridgeway, hitting the central reservation. Whilst my other friend had rode straight into a hedge at 55mph and another coming off in the rain, and with everyone crashing I was starting to feel a little anxious about whether having a bike was a good idea.

However, I pushed this worrying thought out of my head as we embarked on our second road trip to Fairbourne (in Wales) which had taken place in August. This trip was even better than the last and the weather was gorgeous - it couldn't get any better than this.

On the way to Fairbourne - August 2010

However, a few weeks after we had arrived home the winter was approaching and there wasn't much riding time left, and with my 17th Birthday coming closer I had to make a decision - Do I learn to drive a car or stick with the bikes?

It turned out I wanted to try and do both on two paperounds and a measly McDonald's wage. So I sold my 50 and bought a Hyosung Gv 125 Aquila for around about the same price - I still saw my bike as my top priority. The Hyosung was alright but wasn't a massive difference from the 50 to the 125 it was very heavy and slow, it did look like a huge bike but it certainly didn't go like one, which was a shame really. I was also really keen to buy some loud pipes for it but nowhere supplied any. I never really had much of an emotional attatchment with this bike - don't get me wrong it's a great bike but I drive like a maniac and this bike really was never made for that.

The Aquila - January 2011

I also managed to save up to buy a Saxo to learn to drive. I found driving a car quite fun although it had none of the adrenaline rush of being on a bike. I really tried to keep my car lessons going, as a car is so much more practical during the winter and rainy days (which we have a lot of in the UK). However, I knew that I could never afford the insurance (£4200!!) and decided to sell it and then spend all of my money on a bike, which I did.

My little car - March 2011

In June, six months after buying the Hyosung, I bought a Yamaha Yzf R125 which is the best bike i've ever bought - it is truely amazing. It has a remus exhaust, K&N air filter and tail tidy. It really does sound mean and looks it too. It will probably be the best looking bike I could ever afford, I really cannot criticise it in anyway other than it doesn't have USD forks or a forged yoke which would improve the handling, as compared to it's regular telescopic forks and (reasonable high) clip on handlebars.

Me and my Yamaha - June 2011
 A few months later our third and latest road trip took place. We went to Woolacombe which is in North Devon and it was a brilliant trip although the weather was nothing compared to year before (look at my articles for more info on the trips).

The campsite in Woolacombe - August 2011

I'm still riding this bike now and I will be upset the day I will sell it for something faster, i've definitely developed a bond with this bike. So that's where I am now, when my test is done expect to see and hear about some other awesome machinery.


Monday, 31 October 2011

Living with a Yamaha Yzf R125

I am the owner of a 2010 Yamaha Yzf R125 in the 'power black' colour scheme, this was my third bike i've owned (and most certainly the best). I purchased it second hand in June 2011, making me the second owner of this bike. I would always recommend buying second hand. I mean, my bike was 8 months old when I bought it for £2500 (they are £4300 brand new) That's a whopping £1800 saving on a bike that is near enough new anyway! Other second hand prices can vary from £1900 (a 2008 Okay condition) to £3500 (a 2011 Mint condition)

I have fitted an R&G tail tidy (which I think is compulsory really, usually the standard license plate holder sticks out ten foot away from the bike) I also fitted a K&N air filter, Renthal lightweight gold chain and sprockets and a Remus exhaust system. My advice is don't bother with the air filter but definitely buy an exhaust and the renthal chain and sprockets, the renthal chain and sprockets last twice as long as the stock and cost only £10 more. And because the Yamaha is a single, when you put an exhaust on it (and remove the baffle - which is the plug like thing held in by a sirclip) it sounds like something so much bigger and violent. A big thumping sound emmits from the exhaust which turns heads... until they see your L plates.

I don't commute on the bike as my college and job is over the road, but I can guess that it would make a decent commuter. It has a higher seat than most 125's which is better for taller riders and provides more comfort. This, combined with reasonably low pegs and higher bars gives so much more comfort than you'd find on an rs 125 or a mito etc... The bike also has a lot of midrange power, being a 4 stroke, meaning that you don't have to rev the nuts off it to get it going, making commuting a lot more forgiving on your wrists. (The bike can still get to 50 mph whilst remaining under 6000 RPM).

I use this bike purely for social activity, spending every second of my free time on my bike when i'm not at college or at work. My mate has a 2011 Aprilia Rs 125 and I mostly ride with him, so I get to see how the bikes compare. Everyone raves on about how much faster 2 strokes are than 4 strokes but really when i'm riding with him, his bike is only 6 mph faster than mine (The Aprilia does 83mph on the flat, and the Yamaha doess 77mph). The most notable difference though is the suspension and handling. The handling on the Yamaha is reasonable but by not having upside down forks and clip-on bars, it does not compare to the Aprilia which has the forged yoke and USD forks. The brakes are good on both bikes (the Yamaha has Brembo calipers too - how cool is that?) and the tyres are both good although i'd have to say that the  Aprilia's Pirelli's are better than the Yamaha's Michelin's.

The Yamaha also has a huge range of accessories to choose from to make the bike personal to you, for example manufacturers supply: Double bubble screens, tail tidies, exhausts (even akrapovic), lighting, seat cowels, carbon fibre fairing panels and headlight lense covers. The Rs125 lacks this providing just (all I can find) an Arrow exhaust system and tail tidy. This may not be an issue for most but customising their motorcycle might be an interest to some.

But a good point with the Yzf R125 is how much cheaper it is to maintain. After the first service, this bike is due services every 4000 miles. With petrol prices rising (£1.35 per litre) fuel consumption is now becoming an important factor to motorcycling. The little 4 stroke does 80 miles per gallon which is sublime to say the least, meaning cheap transport.

In contrast, the Rs 125 is so much more expensive to run (bear in mind they cost around the same when bought new) it is due services about every 3000 miles and can sometimes require top end rebuilds every 12000 miles (depending on how they've been ridden). It is also a good idea to invest in top quality, fully synthetic 2 stroke oil to prolong the life of the Aprilia. This 2 stroke oil is around £15 per litre, and the bike does 35 miles per gallon and uses a litre of 2 stroke oil every 2 tanks of petrol. This works out very expensive.

By owning an R125  you might have to suffer some compromise in terms of handling and... 6mph. But it is so much cheaper, practical, just as fun and still (in my opinion) looks as stunning as the Aprilia.

In August I went on a road trip on this bike to Woolacombe in North Devon which is about 200 miles away and it rained for all of those miles and the bike did not scare me once. It was comfy, confident and the engine never missed a beat, considering it was going non-stop for 8 hours.

This bike is often overrated in terms of performance by Yamaha (although it still is quicker than most 4 stroke 125's) and underrated in terms of fun by 2 stroke enthusiasts. This is a great bike and I wouldn't recommend anything else to a 125 learner rider.

My Yamaha Yzf R125

My mate's Aprilia Rs125