Winter fun

Winter season just happened to be filled with motorcycle related things to do the last two weekends. This weekend offered ice racing in my hometown Norrköping. One week earlier the yearly motorcycle show took place, this year in Gothenburg.

The motorcycle show is the place to meet old friends in the winter. Not all, but a lot of mates from the Swedish Ducati Club and Moto Guzzi Club Sweden show up there. What I usually do is a first walk around the premises to get an overview. After the first round it is time to rest at the Ducati Club stall where you can usually get something to drink, which this year meant coffee (italian style of course), grappa or some red wine. Then it is time for the second round when I stop at some stalls, considering which brochures might be interesting. As one round takes some time, you might even feel a bit hungry by now. No worries, one of the motorcycle magazines, MCM provide the visitors with a bar that can offer a bite and a pint. Then, at the third round, I start picking up brochures and leaflets that I want to bring back home. Good backpack required.

Being a photographer by profession, I sometimes have difficulties getting myself to use a camera when I´m off duty. Lucky then that my girlfriend likes to document things with her camera. If you use this link you can see what the motorcycle fair looked like. There are some photos of the club stalls, and some pics of bikes that happened to end up in front of her camera.

As my both me and my girlfriend both are leaning more toward older bikes than the brand new models, a lot of stalls at the fair are just halfway interesting. However, the new Ducati Panigale looked nice. With a price tag of close to 250.000 SEK (swedish crowns) two club mates had the discussion whether it was best to low side on the left or right side.

Ice racing

This weekend the outside temperature has occasionally gone as far down as -15 C. That it quite cold for a town by the coast as Norrköping. It is probably a bit like having -20, or -25 in the northern parts of Sweden. That didn´t stop motorcycling of course. What we experienced in Norrköping, for the first time in several years as far as I know, was a match of ice racing. The teams were from Sweden, Norway and Finland. This time the local speedway track was prepared with ice instead of the usual gravel. It is incredible to see what you can do on a bike if you have spikes in the tyres.

The bikes have some similarities to speedway bikes because they are both very basic no extra frills bikes. On the other hand driving on ice of course make a special design needed. Apart from the big fenders I also noticed quite a bit of rake at the steering head.

Even if recent regulations have made restrictive mufflers a must for almost all racing bikes in Sweden, the sound from an ice racing bike is still a special kind of old fashioned single cylinder sound. The mike on my mobile phone can´t reproduce that sound in a very good way, but you might get a hunch of what it is like if you check the short clip below.

Garage season

Even though this winter hasn´t been as winterish as the last two, the weather doesn´t encourage riding. Yes, the lawns are green most days, but every other day the temperature is below zero and the roads get incredibly slippery. Hence, the hibernation in the garage.

The ST2 has got service at an authorised dealer. The only thing to deal with, apart from the normal service, was a seal on the shaft where the small sprocket for the chain is situated. I might have had the chain a bit on the tight side. The recommended free play on this bike is far more than I´ve had on other bikes. Now the bike is actually ready for the next season, apart from the need for mounting a new rear tyre. If next season will involve a longer trip, the chain and sprockets will be changed as well.

Having the bike ready for the road this early, is really an exception. I am indeed one of those bikers that tend to do the service too late, meaning a few weeks, or even a month less riding.

There are however other two wheeled friends who need attention. The little 250 Kawasaki has been sitting waiting for some maintenance. After visiting a ditch by the side of the road, the poor bike needs to get the rear fender a bit straighter. It has already got clip ons mounted, but I have to figure out how to get them to stay in the correct position. I have tightened the screws that hold them, but the actual handle bar parts has a tendency to look like the ears of a cocker spaniel when some pressure is applied. I´ve thought about putting washers in between the parts, you know the ones that are uneven. Any thoughts on that? Well, any advice will be appreciated.

The Kawasaki is a one cylinder 250 Estrella from 1996, in fact the only year they where imported to Sweden. They are built to look like something british from the sixties. My one was originally sold in Germany, meaning I have the 17 hp version. On the japanese market owners can benefit from a whopping 21 hp. Making this small machine a bit café racer like, is mainly for fun.

Yesterday I mounted the brand new rear set foot pegs. As the bike is a rare gem in Sweden, buying parts is a bit of a hassle. If you then want custom parts like rear sets, you really need a bit of determination. Thanks to internet I found this japanese company that makes rear sets. They did indeed have some sort of english language version of their web site. They did also have a form to fill in if you were interested in buying parts from them. I filled in the form and ……… nothing happened. Tried again, and again ……. nothing happened. Luckily I have this old working mate, who happened to spend some years working in Japan. With his japanese skills an e-mail-adress was found and communication was established. Being a swede, my english skills are far from what a person born in an english speaking country can offer. However, I have a rather strong feeling that some sort of electronic translation device was involved in the communication with the japanese motorcycle parts company. The english was indeed fully understandable, it was just a bit creative.

The little Kaw will also need new tyres, get the new head lamp properly mounted, indicators mounted, and the supporting bars for the rear fender straightened. If I´m lucky and persistent when it comes to garage visits, the little caff´racer just might be out on the road this summer.

Comfort is not a bad thing

Today we had some garage time. Together, the girlfriend and I bleeded the brake system on her V50 Guzzi. It took some time and I believe the reason for that is the interesting brake system of a Moto Guzzi. The brake pedal activates the rear brake but also the left front disc brake. Nowadays there are quite a few bikes that have some sort of brake combination like that, but back in the old days I think Guzzis were more or less on their own. With all the brake lines going back and front it took some time to do the job, but finally the V50 got working brakes again.

My bike, the ST2 got newly bought handle bar risers mounted. They don´t raise the bars that much, but I hope it is just what I need to get my head out of turbulence from the fairing. Earlier this year I test rode a Suzuki 650 V-strom. One reason for not buying it was that with my body I ended up with the helmet flipping crazily around in turbulence. Imagine sitting like that for a full days ride. The ST2 did not have the same tendencies to make my head move like something in a pin ball game. A tiny bit of adjustment might come in handy though, just to make the bike super comfy on longer rides.

The risers I bought from Fast by Ferracci. The poor guy packing and sending the stuff had two boxes on his work bench, one for me and one for a customer in Napoli, Italy. You already understand what happened, huh? Yep, I got the package for Napoli and the poor napolitano got my bar risers. After some e-mailing back and forth I finally got the risers, and now they are mounted on the bike. Test riding will have to wait some weeks. It might be on a trip to Åland with some of my friends in the swedish Ducati club. Until then I just have to imagine how comfy the ride will be.

Entering the blog world

So, it apparently takes a cold to get time to sit down and do something about this blog. The subject of a first entry is a delicate thing. A cold can of course be something to write about. After all I am a man. Man plus cold means halfway dead and should be able to fill at least three pages. Or maybe not.

I am living in Sweden and as you can see from the head of the page I am a motorcyclist. Many entries here will be about motorcycling as it is one of my main interests. I ride Ducatis even if a small Kawasaki Estrella also has made it´s way to the garage. A garage that is shared with my loved one, who is by the way a passionate owner of two Moto Guzzis.

The Ducati thing started after a range of different jap bikes. I started on a Honda 250 Superdream, continued with the 400 version of the same bike. Upgraded to a four cylinder XJ 600 from Yamaha. Then found out that I was riding far to fast for my own health, and therefore went down to a single cylinder Yamaha SR 400. After that there was this feeling of motorcycling not being the most important hobby anymore. I didn´t have a bike for some years, but as I think most bikers know, a time came when I simply had to have a bike again. I ended up with a Honda CM400 custom bike.

After the custom bike, or maybe during the ownership of that bike, something happened. I felt an urge for something more special. I looked at everything from Bimotas to Harleys. I was incredibly close to buy a Harley Sportster, but decided against it, ´cause one of the reasons I was not content with the custom bike was the upright seating position.

One day in the year of 2000 I took the train to a Ducati dealer not far from Gothenburg in Sweden. I had finally decided to buy a Ducati 750 Paso registered as 1990 years model. At that time I lived far away from the dealer in question, which means I did not test ride the bike before the purchase. When driving it home I realized what all those people meant who had been going on about the fantastic bikes from Ducati. While my previous japanese 600 inline four had been fairly good at everything, it did not speak to me. The Paso did. Two cylinders instead of four makes a difference. A bit of italian thinking while constructing the Paso is also something you can feel.

The price of the bike became a tiny bit higher than expected though. Due to troubles with the carbs, the engine started to work properly only above 5000 rpm. In top gear that means just above 120 km/h. The maximum speed on swedish highways is 110. The heavy downpour didn´t help in watching out for the boys in blue. Neither did the position of the rear view mirrors on a Paso. I get an excellent view of my kneecaps, but not much more.

Anyway, since then I have been the proud owner of that Ducati, which is now pictured in the head of this blog. After some time the Paso got a friend in the garage, a 600 Pantah from 1983. This year a real youngster made the two other bikes company, a 2003 ST2.

This blog will tell stories about these three bikes, but I am also interested in travelling, books, photo and social media. If these subjects are also Your interests, maybe You will find my blog worth reading.

best regards

Mikko aka Swedephotog