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Motorcycle Live 2014

I took the day off on Friday and aimed the car in the direction of Motorcycle Live with Andy. We were both hoping the combination of it being a weekday and ‘Black Friday’ would mean It’d be less busy. Nope! It was absolutely rammed! Fail.

The main bikes on the agenda were the new Yamaha R1, the Kawasaki H2 and H2R, the new Ducatis and the new Ninjas. Anything cool we found aside from these would be a bonus.

It was tough getting good photos unless you were happy being the, “everyone back away from the bike so I can get a good shot” guy. I’m not that guy, but mostly down to patience I managed to snap a few decent shots of the nicer bikes. If they weren’t worth waiting for, they didn’t get a photo.

First bonus bike of the day was the Triumph custom “TFC2″ Scrambler. I absolutely LOVE this bike!

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One of two bikes that came to be as the result of a Triumph custom factory build-off, both starting life as brand new Bonnevilles. The other bike was the “TFC1″ Bobber, which actually came out on top in their online voting but the scrambler is the winner for me.

Then we found the Ducati stand. I don’t think they’ve got a single ugly bike in their 2015 line up but the 899 Panigale was my personal favourite. In fact, of all the bikes at the show this is probably the one I’d most like to actually own. Pearlescent white with red wheels, “yes please!!”

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The 899 and 1299 Panigales were drawing a lot of attention, but there were still large puddles of drool around the perimeter of the revolving Panigale R display too…

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Kawasaki brought along some really cool stuff, from crazy concepts that looked like they were powered by Dyson vacuum cleaners, through their range of super-evil looking sports bikes to the new 30th anniversary edition Ninjas. They really know how to put together a mean looking bike, the ultimate example of this being the new H2 and H2R.

Now don’t get too mad, but the H2R stand was swamped, so I didn’t get a decent photo. But I did get a nice collection of H2 shots…

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As much as I can appreciate what a great piece of engineering it is, and how insanely evil it looks (it could be Megatron’s little sister) I don’t think I’d actually want to buy one.

The H2R has some rather nice looking carbon fairing and overall looks pretty badass (technical term), but the H2 seems to have a lot more of the black chrome finish paint. I feel like it cheapens the look of the bike. Matte black plastics would have probably looked much better and definitely have been cheaper.

The H2 and H2R are both special bikes, just not bikes I’d want to spend my money on instead of maybe a Ducati and a custom project. Luckily it’s not a choice I’ll be burdened with given that I can’t afford either of them anyway.

Back over to the Yamaha stand and the new R1 was pulling in some crowds. Listening to what most people had to say about it, it seems the headlights were the main point of contention. I think it looks like a hamster with projector headlamp cheeks. It’s so close to looking great, but the lights really let it down.

It was too overrun to get a good shot of the whole bike, but the R6 was pretty much deserted…

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Admittedly, not the most attractive angle but still clearly a much prettier front end than the R1. Maybe the new R1 will grow on me and maybe I’m alone in thinking it’s not all that nice. It seems like people universally hated the look of the previous generation R1, but I really like those!

My guilty pleasure of the show was this custom Suzuki 1250 bandit ‘Fat Mile’…

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I’ve never really been into Suzukis, but there’s something about this bike that makes me think you’d have a beaming smile on your face every second you rode it. It just looks like it’d be a load of fun.

And that’s it. Motorcycle Live 2014: Done.

// Matt

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Adidas C-10’s arrived from the States

Back in August I saw this Adidas Originals promo for the new C-10 and had a “MUST. HAVE.” moment. Typically they weren’t going to be available in Europe, but that would just mean waiting for some US stores to offer them with international shipping, which happened last week! Order placed! (Sorry bank balance).

To paraphrase the legendary Ron Burgundy, “Hey, everyone! Come see how good they look!…”

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Here’s what the designers had to say…

I couldn’t help myself and had to order some fatter laces which should arrive in the next couple of days, then all that remains is to pick up the red pair! *drool*

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Anyway, back to work! Amongst other things I’m putting together a blog design that I’m aiming to launch by the new year. It’s a nice opportunity to experiment a little with things I don’t get to try on client’s sites, hopefully the internet will approve.

// Matt

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Some Monday night throttle therapy

It was a nice clear evening so we went out to feed the bikes their favourite countryside flavoured b-road asphalt. At some point we’ll have to do a proper test to show just how much quicker Andy’s 1198 is against my ZX-6R, but to ball park it, “a whole shit-ton faster!” is a fairly accurate estimate.

Here’s some stills I pulled off the GoPro footage…

…I even got to try out the 1198! It’s nice! Was very conscious of the fact that it’s a £10k bike though and this reigned in the fun to an extent, but what an absolute weapon of a machine!

I may put a little edit together, not sure. It will magically appear in this space if I get around to it.

// Matt

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How to enter a META alarm override code

I needed to add a new alarm remote to my bike over the weekend. Instructions for this were pretty easy to find (How to add/introduce a new Meta alarm remote) but one of the first steps is “Enter the override code from the orange code card” which given that there’s no numeric keypad hidden away on my bike or even a button to press, this had me stumped for a while.

It’s all done by counting the flashes of the alarm LED (which of course, my bike didn’t have). I had to temporarily rig one up by searching for a pair of spare wires sprouting out of the alarm loom (black/red stripe positive, black earth). Fortunately they already had bullet connectors on so I crimped some connectors onto a spare 12v LED and that gave me the blinking light I needed to enter the code.

Lets say for example that your override/security code is ‘54321’ entering the code is a case of counting the LED flashes and turning the ignition on and back off when the required number has been reached. I had a spare working fob so didn’t have to enter the code to access the “programming routine” (that’s what Meta call it).

After turning the ignition off, count five flashes of the LED and turn the ignition on then off again. Count four flashes and turn the ignition on/off, count three flashes then on/off, two flashes on/off. One flash, turn the ignition on and leave it on. You should get a confirmation of correct code entry, “bip bip bop bop” from the alarm.

Obviously remember your code will be different and can only be found on the orange/red code card that was hopefully passed on to you from the previous owner or when you had the alarm installed.

If you’re having major issues with your motorcycle alarm and need expert assistance I can’t recommend the guys at Safe’n’Sound (bikealarms.net) enough. They supplied my replacement remote pre-coded to my alarm and helped me locate the right wires when I called to ask how I enter the security code given that I didn’t have an LED. Really helpful, and even called me back to check how I was getting on.

Looks like I’m finally running out of jobs to tick off the ninja list so I’ll probably be back to tinkering with the A4 soon.

// Matt

2014-08-22 18.55.45

ZX-6R presents ‘Fun with Threads’

The Ninja is back on the road and sailed through its MOT with new brake pads, chain and sprockets. After taking it for a few rides I noticed the inside of the fairings were looking pretty oily and the level was getting near minimum. Obviously I had a leak somewhere and looked like it was possibly from the drain plug bolt.

I thought I’d do an oil change, replace the drain bolt and washer and see if that would take care of it. Using my unparalleled engineering expertise I managed to do this…

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With not even a quarter turn I heard a ‘crack’ and realised I’d tightened it by mistake (oops). Winding it back the bolt head sheared off and the oil started running out with half the thread still in the bike.

Balls. Left and right is difficult when working upside down. “Oh well, I’ll just drill it out with a left-handed bit” Except, no I won’t; With the bike on just a rear axle stand it wasn’t high enough to get a drill under it so the oil pan had to come off.

For the oil pan to come off the side fairings had to come off, followed by the whole exhaust system. This ten minute job has now turned into two hours.

With the exhaust out of the way the oil pan comes off pretty easily, just a bunch of 7mm bolts removed in a cross pattern. Except using my unparalleled engineering expertise I managed to do this…

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That thread on the right poking out of the engine casing, that’s the second sheared bolt of the day. This is going well!

The oil pan itself isn’t threaded so just slid off over what was left of the bolt. At least I could remove the drain bolt now. This was pretty easy, the drain bolt was a magnetic one and the bolt sheared where it is hollow and has the magnet glued in. So I was only drilling into the magnet which was quite soft. The left-handed bit started to bite in and wound the thread out no trouble at all.

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Now I had to deal with that sheared oil pan bolt. This time it sheared because it had seized (I’d learnt my left and right by now), and with so much thread exposed what I ‘should‘ have done was gone out and bought two nuts, locked them together so I could get a spanner on them and try to carefully free it up.

Instead, using my unparalleled engineering expertise I picked up a big pair of pliers and a hammer. 20 seconds later the thread was utterly shagged (really wish I’d just gone and bought those nuts).

Plan B: Blow torch and a pair of vice grips! Neither of which I owned but £30 and a trip to Screwfix sorted that out.

I heated the bolt thread up until it was glowing red hot, this was only to help break the chemical bond of the corrosion. Obviously heating causes it to expand so I let it cool a little before clamping the vice grips on and trying my luck. No movement.

Heating up the engine casing (just to a suitably ‘painful if you touched it’ temperature, not red hot) and trying the vice grips again while it was still hot got it moving, only a fraction of a mil’ back and forth, but it was moving.

Another blast from the blow torch and some very delicate turns with the grips saw it start to wind out. This was one of the happiest moments of my life…

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Time to put everything back together! I got a couple of new oil pan bolts to hopefully avoid future seizing, a new oil pan gasket, drain bolt, washer and 4 litres of Fuchs ‘Extreme Performance’ 10W40 oil. All ordered from St Neots Motorcycles Thursday morning and were at the shop ready for me to collect next day.

New things!..

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I’m sure the reason I had an oil leak in the first place was probably down to things not being torqued to spec. so all the oil pan bolts were nipped up to 10nm, and the drain bolt 29nm (Haynes manual doesn’t lie).

Then it was just a case of filling up the oil, bolting all the exhaust back in place and getting the fairing on. Started her up and let it run for a while before going out for a test ride. Which looked a little bit like this…

Bike rides great again and no sign of any oil leaks. Lovely.

// Matt

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A wet but still packed AITP6

Incomplete, unfinished interior, old knackered wheels, car park war scars and rain so hard you couldn’t see the road, but still made it to this years Audis in the Park.

Despite planning months in advance, the A4 still wasn’t ready for show day. I’ve known for a while the interior retrim wasn’t going to be finished (I’ve been putting my money into the ninja instead), but all my carbon pieces were due to arrive with plenty of time so at least the interior would be complete. Or so I thought, but despite being told they’d be done they never showed up.

Then I’m told 3 days before the show that the wheels I wanted (black 3SDM 0.01’s) were out of stock too, and apparently discontinued so I was going to have to run the old, knackered R8 reps (yuck!). Along with a handful of car park dings the car wasn’t going to be as I wanted it, but that was no reason not to go anyway.

Andy was coming along with his Votex 3.0 V6 so we booked the cars in with Ben of ‘Smart Clean Valeting & Detailing‘ for Saturday morning. Even though we were expecting horrible weather at least we should see some nice beading.

Five hours later Ben was all done, the cars looked great so we thought we’d sneak in a few photos before mucky, wet roads ruined them on the way to AITP on Sunday.

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Was the wrong time of day for photos as it was a bit too bright but still, not too shabby for a pair of 10 year old motors.

Anyway, moving along to Sunday, day of the show. It had rained through the night, the cars still looked great but the roads were horrible and our spotless cars were rapidly acquiring dirty spots but thankfully no sign of the downpour we were expecting.

Wristbands were on and we were waved through the Billing Aquadrome gates and into the AITP show area. The Audi-Sport.net stand was easy to spot and we rolled up into spaces between a B7 RS4 and a new A3 sportback. As we arrived there was a break in the rain so we had some time to go over the cars with detail spray; spotlessness restored!

By around mid-day it was really pissing down. Having gone prepared looking very uncool in waterproof shorts and jacket wondering around in the rain wasn’t bothering me too much but it didn’t leave much opportunity to take photos.

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Loads of great looking cars all over the place, the white A3/S3 with purple 3SDM 0.01’s was probably my favourite of our audi-sport stand. Rob Goodwins old B6 A4 in Iron Man ‘hotrod red’ was brought along by the new owner so was cool seeing that in the flesh.

Julian Loose’s DE urban camo B5 S4 looking good on fifteen52’s with the Dub Fiction crew, and the B7 RS4 on the Still Static stand was bloody lovely, fitment was spot on.

Was also the first time I’d seen Wayne Simpson’s yellow R8 with Plush interior retrim and hardline air install. Wish I’d been able to get a better look, but it was all pretty well sealed up thanks to the rain.

Way too many awesome cars to list them all and amazing turn out considering the weather forecast, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as everyone thought and the sun even came out in the afternoon. Thanks to Adam at audi-sport for the burgers, and Calvin who organises AITP for putting on a great event.

Next show will most likely be Audi Driver International, so hopefully the A4 will be looking a bit better by then.

// Matt

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Cookies!

Here’s an idea, how about if I visit your website and accept your cookie policy you set a cookie that remembers my f-ing preference! And don’t ask me again every time I visit your site. That would be really, really great.

If the entire internet, could please implement this immediately the world would be a better place.

// Matt

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The Shop at Forty site

After getting back from Ibiza I’ve been hard at work finishing off The Shop at Forty’s website. It was launched last week, has had a few little tweaks since and is now all done for the time being.

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It’s a WordPress site using my own online shop framework that I first developed for Broken Spoke Cycles. It’s had a few nice little updates to better fit Forty’s requirements and is only a basket and PayPal link away from being a simple but fully functional e-commerce solution. I’m really quite pleased with it, and so are the clients (yay!).

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They were quite clear about what they wanted and had a friend produce all the illustrations. Really I just did what I was told and made it all work; the perfect web developer? lol :)

Happy clients, impressed customers, free cake and coffee; that’s a pretty good result in my book!

Find the finished site at theshopatforty.co.uk

Now onto the next one! This time for a local health and beauty salon. I Wonder if I’ll get roped into trying out some treatments?

// Matt

jQuery animate image opacity glitch

So I was working on a lovely little retro furniture site earlier today, adding a few animation and transition niceties with jQuery and found something a bit weird.

When animating the opacity of an image, the image size would also change by one or two pixels, appearing to flicker between sizes and ruining the subtle effect I was going for.

In IE11 and Chrome there were no issues at all, but Firefox (my preference for web development) wasn’t behaving.

All the images were 150px wide and I was scaling them down to 142px with CSS by way of the usual ‘max-width:100%’. I tried expressly defining the 142px size but it didn’t help.

It was a really weird little glitch and it shouldn’t be surprising that the fix was equally weird; define a background colour for the image.

Problem solved. Bizarre.

// Matt

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Back from our Gumball 3000 Ibiza trip

The Gumball 3000 finish line show was amazing. Well worth the trip over to Ibiza, which even without Gumball would have been awesome on its own. An amazing little island with a lot more to offer than just clubs and parties, we barely scratched the surface in the week we were there.

Most of the time I was shooting the trip with the GoPro, but it’s going to take a while to put together an edit of all the footage so here’s a few stills  for the time being…

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Finally got to meet Jon Olsson‘s Rebellion R2K…

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Breakfast with the Bentley’s…

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Awesome trip! Video will be published asap ;)

//Matt

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Fine British tailoring

The rare occasion that Andy and I got adjacent parking spaces made for a nice photo opportunity. His freshly washed and mine typically filthy!

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I think it’s great that despite being the same car they look so different. Definitely tailored to their owners. Though I’m very tempted to get a matching set of black RS6 wheels in time for Audi’s in the Park.

// Matt

New site coming 2015