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Has Spring Finally Sprung?

Has Spring Finally Sprung?

Hopefully spring may have finally arrived. Certainly from where I’m standing, the sun is shining and the roads are starting to dry nicely which means many of us will be looking at getting their bikes out of the stables with the mind occupied with thoughts of a good riding season ahead.

Without teaching granny different methods of egg consumption I thought it worth reminding you nice folks of a few basics before you throw your leg over and ‘head out on the highway, looking for adventure…'

So, stop, breathe and count (or rather read) to 10.

1 - RUBBER. Check tyre pressures, check wear level, check for damage, snagging and contaminants (perished, damaged and foreign object damage i.e. nails, screws, glass)

2 - WHEELS. When you check your rubber you will need to turn the wheels so that is an opportunity to check your wheels do actually turn freely. Grab then with both hands and give them a sturdy wobble to check for play in the wheel bearings. This will also help identify if your brakes and discs have any issues.

3 - BRAKES. Hoses, look for Damage, deformity, splits, cracks and brittleness - look for leakage and seepage. Check the levels in your reservoir and the levers and pedals for positive ‘non-spongey’ action and return. Remember, your lever should NOT come back and touch the bars with pulled! Brake Pads, look for damage, wear and debris in the pads and check the discs for cracks, splits and chunks missing. Also, RUST! How much has grown on the disc since you laid the bike up? And even if you are happy everything is fine, always perform a rolling brake check when you first ride. Remember you have two brakes, check and use both accordingly!

4 - FUEL. Do you have some and depending on how long your bike has been sat, is the fuel you have dirty and likely to cause the bike to stall.

5 - OIL. (and other fluids). Yes, have a look! Is there some? Does it leak, has it leaked?

6 - DAMAGE. Have your bike suffered any damage while stored and also, have you forgotten that ‘job’ you said you’d sort over the winter only to realise now? Get it sorted now before it goes another season as a ‘must do’.

7 - ELECTRICS. Well obviously if your battery ist kaput then you aren’t going anywhere fast but if you do have enough lightning juice how about other electrics mainly - lights! indicators, headlights (check your flash function works! switches can seize and play up) and check that both of you brake functions activate the brake light.

8 - DRIVE. Chain, sprockets, shaft, belt, whatever method of transferring the power to the rear wheel check for wear and tear and lube where necessary. If applicable, check the chain for slack and tighten. If neglecte, a slack chain can make your day go bad very quickly!

9 - KIT - It’s still a bit chilly out there so may be worth having your thermals handy (any excuse to put on the wife’s tights!) and remember that waterproofs could still be needed at a moments notice but mostly this is about your safety kit. Helmet, check straps, check damage and check visor. Hopefully you’ve stored it well and there won’t be any issues but mould may creep in and add an unwanted and distracting whiff to your lid! Gloves get stiff if stored when damp. Give them a flex and free them up before riding.

10 - YOU! - Finally, make sure you are fit to ride. If you’ve had some time off then break yourself in slowly. Go somewhere quiet like a car park and practise some slow speed manoeuvres and turns. You may feel like a plonker for a bit so pretend you’re looking for that Rolex you dropped. You are not invincible and getting back on a bike after a break can leave you as sore as going for a run for the first time in months… Be sensible. None of us are Benjamin Button and are getting younger.

Remember this is a guide for the obvious so it’s worth asking a local garage for a check over if you’ve had your bike off the roads for considerable length of time. Most will give you a health check for free or a small amount.

Oh, if you are still lucky enough to get out then think about a nice fresh water wash of your bike afterwards. There is still salt and grit about and a little loving bath would be worth while.

Enjoy the sunshine!

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Motorcycling, a cure for depression?

Motorcycling, a cure for depression?

With all the pressures of modern day living is it any wonder that Mental Wellness is more topical now than ever before

Ask Mental Health professionals about techniques to help alleviate depression and they will state exercise is vital.

I believe exercising the spirit of freedom is as important and motorcycling is one of my remedies for the times when you just need a ‘pick me up’

Motorcycling somewhere exotic and warm is a bonus but the simple act of riding a bike is priceless but caution, it does come at a price.

Possible Cons and their cures.

1 - Sat in the bay window as the rain beats down, looking at the garage door containing your favourite toy.
Cure - A motorcycle DVD. Anything by Nick Sanders, Austin Vince or a ‘Long Way Round’ marathon is good for the soul

2 - Michael Fish drops another clanger and the weather changes while you’re out.
Cure - Be prepared. A good one piece rain suit under a cargo net strapped to the pillion seat and a squirt of de-mister for the visor

3 - Breakdown
Cure - Spend your down-time investing effort and elbow grease into your bike to reduce the chance of breakdown. Learn basic bike maintenance and join a recovery service or have a mate with a truck/bike trailer on speed dial.

4 - All this motorcycling costs money
Cure - eBay, Shpock it, Gumtree. Hunt for bargains. Keywoods such as ‘worn once’, ‘given up biking’, ‘didn’t fit’ or ‘unwanted present’ can all bring a smile to your face and save you a small fortune.

5 - No bike
Cure - Go to a motorcycle dealer with a good cafe, smell some bikes and coffee and even take your licence and helmet for a cheeky ‘test ride’. Who knows, you may be offered a deal you cant resist. Talk to the dealer - they may surprise you!

Likely Pro’s or “smiling side effects”

1 - Improve your skills
2 - Make new mates
3 - Rekindle old friendships
4 - See
5 - Travel
6 - Experience but most importantly;
7 - LIVE LIFE!

Just get on your bike! It’s Spring again, well done! You’ve made it!

Photo: 'Moto Ventura Tours in the Pyrenees'

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Toll On, Toll Off...

Toll On, Toll Off...
Toll Roads in Europe divide opinion with us more than Donald Trump or Brexit with many pluses and minuses on each side. The pros are that they act as a quick means of getting from A to B without getting bogged down by endless junctions, roundabouts and slow moving traffic while the cons are having to put you hand in your pocket to use them, having to stop and do the side-stand shuffle to get your money or bank card out (then waiting on the other side for your mates to come through) and that fuel prices on the péage is generally higher.

My own view point is to avoid wherever possible but use as a quick hop on to a main route to help get us to the fun stuff quicker and pass by the more mundane hum-drum areas.

My advice for tolls is to budget some in at the very start of your ride/trip so you’re not financially caught-out and feeling aggrieved at spending for a few euros here and there then they won’t ruin your trip as much.

Across Europe payment methods change from toll road style to vignette style one-off annual payments. While a toll has to be paid for each passage at least with a vignette you find you’re then covered for most major roads for the remainder of your trip - plus some riders feel the sticker is a bit like a “badge of honour” and a “look where I’ve been riding!”

If you’re choosing to use them then fine, enjoy the convenience they offer. If not, then plan your route well so you don’t fall foul of buying a vignette only to do 20 miles before leaving and never returning to that country again.

We have found, for your convenience and to assist planning, one of the better and clearer websites covering which roads, in which countries are charged.

http://www.tolls.eu/europe

tolls.eu breaks down the countries into tolls, Vignette and even reassures you about which countries do NOT have toll roads. It also covers the many bridges and tunnels in each country too so there really is an easy reference for your jaunts to Europe

To add to the hassle some cities now also charge an ‘Urban Access’ toll, aka a congestion charge or Low Emission Charge. The idea is simply to keep the big polluters out of the city, and that means ANYTHING burning fossil fuels, lorries, cars, motorcycles, the lot.

http://urbanaccessregulations.eu

It’s worth spending a bit of time navigating around these sites as they appear to have all the info you need to assure you are not caught out.

The only thing which was a little frustrating was that I couldn’t find a ‘date’ of last update

We hope these links are useful. Ultimately, don’t let tolls ruin your trip! They’re just a handful of Euros here and there and how often do we find ourselves riding over such well maintained roads - certainly becoming a rarer thing to find in the UK these days.
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Who Gives a 'Puc' These Days Anyway?

Who Gives a 'Puc' These Days Anyway?
I recently required our new tourer and was flipping through the extras catalogue, as you do, when I spotted something which always divides opinion. The side stand enlarger plate!

The logic is that the plate increases the footprint on the contact area and reduces the likelihood of the stand sinking on softer ground like grass making it an ideal ‘adventure’ bolt on... but wait! Hold your horses a moment...
If you have the genetic make-up of a hobbit like myself you’re probably not blessed in the inside leg measurement and this makes hopping on and off your favourite adventure bike a bit more challenging with some being quite high at the saddle. Adding a plate to the side stand adds thickness to the foot and actually results in your bike standing more upright when on its stand, only a tad but still enough to make a difference.

Okay, by itself that isn’t bad news but if you’re looking to park up on some ‘rough ground’ this can cause an issue getting the bike stable enough to then dismount. This is exactly the problem one of our riders found in the Alps once. Because the bike wouldn’t lean as much on the already 'sketchy’ parking area it became even harder to settle the bike and he struggled to dismount. (In response to the obvious ‘park elsewhere then’ comments, we were very limited to places to put the bike and it was already quite a slope)

While these plates look great and all 'Bear Grrrrrrrrylls’ bolted to the bottom of your stand why not simply invest in £3 puc which you can throw on the floor and drop your stand on to. Simples! it's about £25-£30 cheaper, quick to fit i.e. instant and if you have a nice smooth bit of tarmac to park on, which let's face it, is most of the time then you don't have to waste time using it.

Isn't it time to get the 'Puc' out?
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Motorcycle-Live, 2018 Tours and other chat. Big engines aren't always the way to ride...

Motorcycle-Live, 2018 Tours and other chat.  Big engines aren't always the way to ride...

The Motorcycle Live show is like Christmas for us at Moto Ventura Tours and 2017 was no exception. Just being surrounded by so many shiny bikes is bliss.

We had a chance to look at the latest offerings from every manufacturer and what is most obvious is the style of motorcycles we are buying these days. Exciting because now more than ever touring bikes seem to be taking a firm lead in the market. Not just the big ones, but surprisingly smaller cc machines. We had a good catch up with motorcycle adventurer and friend of Moto Ventura, Nick Sanders and were surprised to hear that his latest long distance journey was completed on a Tracer from Yamaha instead of his trusty 1200cc Super-Ténéré. We know that everyone runs out to buy the latest 1200 (or more) when touring but actually, wait a minute. Do you need to? I would suggest if you are riding all day with a pillion and 'packing for 2' then yes but as a solo rider then sub one litre surely has to be a consideration and the market opens out with some amazing options from nearly all manufacturers.

The other growing market trend is fashion bikes, by that I mean the less practical but more enjoyable and soulful additions to the range - last year we saw the scrambler have it's foothold with everyone including Yamaha, Triumph, BMW and Ducati all pushing big bore Scramble bikes but they seem to already be taking a role as support act to the mighty Bobber. I personally am hoping Bobbers run the distance as their coolness is undeniable though practical uses are. questionable.

Sundays look so much better on a Bobber!

If I had to pick Bobbers to race for pink-slips then it would be the Indian Scout Bobber and the Triumph Bonneville Bobber that would go head to head. Any thoughts on which would win the race for cool? US v UK? If only we had a TopGear budget to play with we could fly to LA and drag race them from stock.

Naturally when you mix cool and tour you get Cool Tourers and the big cruiser heavy weight Harley Davidson has some real nice iron this year and a favourite for us is the 2018 114 cubic inch soft-tailed Fat Bob though fitting luggage on would require work it still hit the spot. Harley purists will frown but it's aggressive lines and sharp handling will surely make it one of the biggest bikes in their range over the coming years. RIP FatBob Dyna, Long Live the new King Bob!

The big cruisers from HD and Indian have long had a band of faithful. Indian seem to be setting the bench mark without trying while HD are bringing out equally fantastic bikes to stay current but may inadvertently lose the faith of the Harley pure-bloods. Interesting times coming!

BMW have looked a little towards this 'cruiser' market as they did a few years ago with the R1200C and are pushing their K1600B (Bagger) with many drooling customers throwing their German made cowboy boots over the beastie at the show. It will no doubt sell, but will it drag riders from their GT's and RT's? The GS faithful won't budge thats a given.

This brings me on to the other touring option (we do run a touring company after-all). We've done small engine, we've done big engine, So where is the fun actually happening? It surely has to be the new one-litre sports tourers. Sports Tourer used to be an evolution of sports bike with panniers fitted like the Kawasaki ZZR and the Honda VFR but now Sports-Tourer seems to be the tag placed on the likes of the BMW S1000Xr and Ducati's Multi-Strada. Theses drew more crowds than any other bike at the show...

Are we excited? Hell yes!

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Mach 2 - Bike Festival

Mach 2 - Bike Festival
It's one thing to meet world famous motorcyclist Nick Sanders but did you know you can pop to his place for a party?

This year Nick hosted Mach 2, the aptly named successor to Mach 1, the 'biker festival' at Machynlleth, Powys. The 'Mach' duelling as an obvious reference to speed for the petrol heads but it is also the fondly used shortening for Machynlleth.

This idyllic setting is absolutely perfect for an event which ticks all the boxes in the provision of biker friendly, social excellence with healthy helpings of real ale and cider with delicious treats from Caroline's Kitchen to keep your stomach happy. A huge bonus and testimony to Nicks passion for the area and local business is that the town is on your doorstep and those attending are encouraged to explore Machynlleth and sample the delights. Indeed, as you soon discover on the organised 'treasure hunt' you are signposted to get in to the sticks and hunt out many of the little coffee stops and cafes in return for scoring points.

Mach 2 is plenty big enough for the abundance of bikes, tents, campers and trailers which pitched up and there is enough space around you that you'll feel your privacy is respected and you can 'stretch out'. You will also have no problem when it comes to queuing for food and refreshments or visiting one of the many portable, yet luxury loo's which are scattered liberally around the site. Nick & Caroline have ensured there are more than adequate amounts and they are kept a close eye on with regular cleaning so no loo roll shortage occurs!

A variety of live acts keep you entertained during the evening with a liberal dose of fire jugglers thrown in for good measure.

Walking around the bikes revealed a broad diversity of machines and number plates with riders coming from all over Europe to take part in a little R 'n' R along with some that made the journey specifically for Nicks event. With such an event right on your doorstep you would be foolish to miss it, and if you eventually do take the plunge and go along you will be kicking yourself for not doing it earlier.

We are definitely looking forward to Mach 3, in fact stop-press, Nick has announced Mach 2.5 to be held on the last weekend (Bank Holiday) of August). Hosting a smaller number of visitors Mach 2.5 will be sure to sell out fast.

Festival fun for the biker family!
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Does size really matter? Riding the 2017 K1600-GT

Does size really matter? Riding the 2017 K1600-GT

The K1600 has been around since 2010 and is becoming a familiar site touring the big roads. The cautious are warming to it and the purists are no longer turning their noses up. As we know every new machine has a few tweaks and modifications to improve and rectify issues but testament to the K16 is that very little has changed. Bar a few styling and rider comfort options the 2017 K1600GT is much the same beast as before. One of the most noticeable changes however is the re-introduction of the ‘reverse’ function. Like a Sumo Wrestler squeezing in to a toilet cubicle the vast weight and size of the K16 mean that the reverse function is a long over due ‘must’ in making life easier for the rider and lets face it, the K16 is all about making life easier.

Big touring bikes are becoming more and more popular, insurance hikes, the ease of getting abroad along with the constant threat of having your licence tainted have push more and more into getting riding thrills elsewhere. The power rangers are growing up and the missus wants to come away on the bike trips. It’s easy to see why a massive brand like BMW attract a lions share of the touring market. Celebrity endorsements have rocketed GS sales and taken the limelight from the GS siblings. The R & K-series of tourers that have long been the mainstay of Motorrad have kept their faithful band of followers despite regulations surrounding emissions forcing a big change to the boxer engine.

You don’t just buy a BMW on a whim. You have to be introduced to the brand by a friend, a bit like finding your spouse the ‘old fashioned’ way via your mate’s sister. You don’t speed date a BMW. So you know the brand already and are already familiar with some of the BMW quirkiness. It is safe to say you will already be expecting a level of quality and a prestige above that of it’s competitors. Well, fear not! The K1600 is not going to let you down.

If you are new to the K1600 but familiar with touring bikes and in particular BMW’s then you need to brace yourself though, it is Heavy. Sure, you're used to your ‘in-line four’ K12 or K13 or you are ditching the torquey boxer powered RT for the ‘big 6’ but you seriously need to be aware what you’re getting yourself into. At around 320kgs bare naked it’s a whole rugby player heavier than the R1200RT. Therefore it doesn't take much before you, your pillion and your luggage are topping the scales at over half a ton. All this weight despite BMW’s weight watcher considerations of a magnesium alloy subframe and hollow camshafts. Where was that reverse function again?

Throw a leg over and heave it off the side stand and you would be forgiven for thinking your pillion has jumped on before you. Engage first and twist the throttle however and suddenly you realise why the K16 is such an epic bike to ride. In fact why stop at first gear, the K1600’s delivery of power ensure all gears are in the frame for play-time. The turbine roar of 6 cylinders is captivating and will have you looking for any excuse to give it a little wrist action. It’s flies!

Braking is superb and positive on both front and rear wheels, giving the rider confidence and enabling you to relax knowing that the 160 horses and sheer weight is fairly easy to keep under control. Especially useful as rolling off the throttle with 6 cylinders doesn't bring the expected reduction of speed. The dashboard has been updated and will have the techies gasping in wonder at the bright lights and full scale deflection of the tacho on start-up. You really do feel you are sitting somewhere special enhancing the GT experience. The K16 real does feel like the King of the road. But it is King of some roads but sadly not all. The long reach of the bike make it great for mile munching Grand Touring but I do feel that as a quick leap on, leap off bike it is just too cumbersome. Its like putting on a dinner suit every time you pop down to the kitchen for a snack. Sure you can manoeuvre the K16 and I’m sure there are loads of clips on the web of riders throwing it around the tight cones on an agility course but for common and garden day rides I did feel like I was taking the Winnebago to the beach.

The tank is big but it’s not the biggest tank in the touring arena and the MPG isn't as good as some of the competition either so if you’re out devouring miles, some of you mates will be tutting each time the K16 needs a drink but it’s not a titanic gap so you do still get a respectable range and far better than that of the sports-tourer faithful.

As far as we can see the K16 only has one real contender to worry about, its own sibling, the Cain to this Abel, the R1200RT. The RT can be fitted with the same luxury extras as the GT, the same sparkly dashboard lights, the same adaptive ‘look around the bend’ headlights, the same ‘warm the bum’ buttons, same panniers and baggage space, same rider aids to help cope with varying road conditions, but the RT is cheaper, more economical, lighter, more nimble and, some may even dare to suggest, much prettier than the K16. It handles better from the off and still carries you and your pillion in exquisite luxury to your hotel in the south of France but it does lack the smoothness of the big 6 cylinder and that fantastic soundtrack.

It really comes down to personal choice - You are already sold on having a BMW or you wouldn't have walked into the showroom and therefore the rivals from Japan or elsewhere aren't even in with a shout, it’s just which one do you blow you twenty-ish grand on?

So who is the target customer? The K16 engine characteristics and its additive turn of speed mean it will suit the sports-bike come touring rider perfectly. Leaping from a pure sport or even a sport-tourer on to a full tour specific machine will have you grinning from ear to ear and possibly wondering why on earth you hadn't made the leap years ago.

The model we rode, supplied by Ocean BMW Plymouth, came with keyless start and central locking. Oh, how I scoffed but actually once the novelty of pretending I was unlocking the car has passed I found it was actually very useful for quickly throwing helmets etc in the pannier without the hassle of old fashioned keys. And that’s the big plus with the K16, you get ‘useful’ and ‘convenient’ wrapped up nicely with a biblical turn of speed and a feeling of real provenance.

It absolutely, thoroughly and inexcusably punches the Grand into ‘Grand Tour’.

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Highway Code 'Rights (or wrongs!) of Way' image.

Highway Code 'Rights (or wrongs!) of Way' image.
This image is currently doing the rounds on social media inviting comments about which driver has right of way.

If you do sit and ponder who has priority over who then enjoy, it's a bit of fun but as a biker I want to look at it slightly differently.

What immediately strikes me when scanning the 'comments' (not the image) is the number of people who get the answer so catastrophically wrong!
While this attracts a certain amount of 'flak' from others it worries me more that, if genuine, these people potentially hold a driving licence.

So, as a biker we see this situation developing in the distance. What are your thoughts?

Simple - exercise caution!
Whichever direction you approach from, and whichever direction you intend to leave, treat EVERY VEHICLE as a potential hazard and a threat. Keep your eyes and your ears open. Don't assume someone has seen you, don't assume they will react according to the Highway Code (HC) or common sense.

Be mindful of those trying to be helpful with headlight flash. Are they flashing you or a.n.other? Are they flashing to give you an open door (against the HC but people do it a lot!) or are they flashing as per HC to say 'I AM HERE!' And remember, if you are going to sound you horn, do it like you mean it! Clear concise blast, not just a quick toot.

It doesn't matter one bit if you are right and the others are wrong when you are the one getting broadsided by someone who can't answer a basic HC quiz on Facebook.
Keep your wits about you. Treat everyone as a threat, then move on!

Enjoy the image, but enjoy the comments more!

John Wilton
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Guardian Bell - Superstition Scientifically Proven?

Guardian Bell

At Moto Ventura Tours we are supporters of having the right ‘kit’ for you, your pillion and your bike. There is no better way of keeping yourself ahead of the game and protected from the elements and from spills. Sadly, fashion for bikers isn’t always straight off the catwalk of Milan so the newest kits cant always protect you from the odd snigger from non-bikers as you walk in to a cafe for a break dressed like a Power Ranger. Oh the joys of being a ‘free thinking’ motorcyclist!

All the kit on the world however doesn’t stop some riders from taking part in their own little rituals and superstitions to keep them safe on the road.

This bring me on to the Guardian Bell. One of the most important pieces of kit on my own machine.

I’m not a routine subscriber to superstitions, often saying, “It’s unlucky to be superstitious” but my Guardian Bell is, as far as I’m concerned, scientifically proven to reduce risk and I’ll tell you why.

My Bell was a present from my two children via their Mum, and says on it ‘Worlds Greatest Biker Dad’. It is fixed to the handlebars hanging from one of the control cables much to amusement of the BMW techs at my local motorrad Garage, Ocean in Plymouth who write on their report. ‘Tinkling noise coming from bike’ each time it comes back from a service.

When I ride I focus on my riding, the road, the hazards, prioritising and dealing with then accordingly and as a red blooded biker I still like to open it up and have some fun and this is where risk increases. Risk increases and speeds increases, opportunities to ‘fly’ and make progress need to be calculated and thought through often in a very short space of time, often instantaneous and this is where the line between risk and reward start to merge, sometimes becoming blurry. How often are you out on the far side of the road for view and thinking, “can I just have the next one?” as you look at a car in the distance or even, “I’m late for work, I just need to get past this tractor and trailer/LGV/Caravan/Car”. The rewards for completing both are often small but the risk is often large.

My Bell gives a little chime as I rumble along the road and that tinkle is enough to remind me that sometimes the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze.

Be late for work, it’s really not worth injury for.

So you don’t get to scrape past the slower moving car, so what. Make it a ‘Rolls Royce’ overtake next time, an over-take to be proud of.

My little Guardian Bell actually does work - It keep reminding me of the little ones at home for whom I am their Guardian Angel.
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Moto Ventura Tours Presents - An Evening with Nick Sanders. Motorcycle Legend

Moto Ventura Tours Presents - An Evening with Nick Sanders. Motorcycle Legend
Moto Ventura Tours presents 'An Evening with Nick Sanders.'

Nick will be our guest at the the Waie Inn, Zeal Monachorum, Devon on Saturday 8th April 2017.

Nick is a multi-record breaking motorcyclist and British Motorcycling Legend. As well as a former world record holder for bicycling around the world he is more commonly known for his motorcycle world records again circumnavigating the world on several occasions. He is famous for undertaking such challenges on a Yamaha R1 sports bike including numerous desert/mountain crossings on the R1 which would challenge even the most hardened off-road rider.

Nick's story includes taking two narrowboats across the English Channel to the Black Sea, piloting hot air balloons and establishing the U.K.'s first motorcycle festival 'Mach 1' at his exhibition centre in Wales.

All of the above he has achieved in his own style which is fast paced, exciting and often accompanied with many laughs and anecdotes.

Nick will start his talk (which includes movie clips etc) at 6:30pm for approximately 90 mins after which a buffet will be served and opportunity to have a Q&A session with Nick.

Please arrive in good time.

The venue has a bar for those requiring additional refreshments.

Due to the venue tickets will be 'first-come first-serve' basis hence the need to call/email direct.

For ticket purchase or further info email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or contact us on 07590 599662.

This is a ticket only event and tickets are available now from Moto Ventura Tours at £15 per person.

Ticket price includes:
90 minute presentation from Nick Sanders
Evening Buffet
Signed copy of Nick's latest DVD or Book (worth £12.99)
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Subconscious cruise control - Hypnosis on the road.

Moto Ventura Tours preach ‘Real Life Rider Skills’. While a firm believer in IAM and ROSPA based training packages, especially as they look to the police system for a foundation it must be pointed out that there are weaknesses in being too inflexible. A good example of that is which foot to place down. While learning to ride the DSA practise placing the left foot down then when going on to more advanced riding, the right foot is placed down instead of the left. There are reasons surrounding efficiency, safety and looking tidy for this, but in Real Life - which ever foot stops you falling over would be my personal choice and in a fully loaded touring bike with pillion - you would not criticised in putting down BOTH!

Mental attitude of even the most experienced rider is vital. We are ALWAYS learning - even the best of the best. No TT rider just arrives on the island and rides his or her lap without practise. It’s the same with real life riding. Remember to keep an open mind when riding. The same goes for familiar roads - Don't become complacent. While being familiar with a road can help a lot, being too complacent can hurt. I am often waving my arms frantically at motorists who are not expecting to see a stationary vehicle (even when signed and with blue lights lit) on their ‘normal commute’ and very often it takes a real last minute ‘extreme’ measure to get their attention.

Many people enter an entranced state when they drive or ride that only something of significance can ‘snap’ them back to reality. While I could go on forever the basic advice I want to pass is, don’t assume another person;
a) has seen you, or
b) will actually react to you or do what you expect.

Look out for you - because no one else is going to.

We are undeniably in the midst of winter and looking forward to several weeks of cold ’n’ wet yet to come. Our overwhelming advice at the moment is, don’t neglect your biking! If you are fortunate enough to have a winter hack then use it. If not, be gentle but ride as much as you feel is safe. No better training than riding in the winter (as we have said in previous blogs and newsletters).

Don’t let your skills lapse and then jump on your bike in the summer only to discover both you and your machine have a ton of gremlins to resolve.

Should you be tempted to get some help with your riding Moto Ventura Tours is offering a massive 50% reduction in ALL training packages in January, February or March 2017 INCLUDING RPMT Enhanced Riding Courses which, if you qualify, result in the issue of a DSA Certificate which can be used to reduce some insurance premiums.

Now, get out and enjoy the fresh air! It’s good for the carbs!

www.motoventuratours.co.uk/training 

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What are you plans for 2017? - Don't delay!

What are your plans for 2017? Treat yourself & your partner to a motorcycle tour you will never forget!

12th to 16th June - 'Five-a-Day'.
Five UK National Parks in Five glorious days of riding. Brecon - Snowdonia - Peak - Dales - Lakes.
Some stunning accommodation welcomes the team each evening with tranquil and peaceful locations sure to warm the soul and re-charge the batteries.
'5-a-day' is exactly what the Doctor ordered!

25th July to 8th August - 'Double-Oh-Heaven'.
Following in the footsteps of 007 on the Furka Pass in Switzerland (Goldfinger) - Monte Carlo - Vosges - Millau - Contra Dam (Goldeneye bungee stunt) - Devils Bridge - Little St Bernard Pass (Italian Job) - Grimsel Pass - Tremolo Pass - Lake Geneva - Lake Annecy - Lourdes.
With some very special accommodation booked we have really gone all out for the team. We take the ferry from Portsmouth to Spain and return via the channel tunnel 2 weeks later

Email for details of available spaces as 'Double-oh-Heaven' is very nearly fully booked.

18th to 24th September - 'Introduction to Battlefields'. - Experience a taste of World War 1 and 2 history with our introduction to some iconic battlefield locations - Normandy Beaches - Somme - Flanders - Verdun - Pegasus Bridge - Ypres - Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge) - Lochnagar crater - Douaumont Ossuary - Thiepval Memorial.
More amazing accommodation for the team as we travel around Northern France and Belgium visiting paying our respects to the true heroes of our time.

We are taking bookings on all trips so don't delay. We limit our tour spaces so the team get the maximum benefit from the tour.

Our lead guides are professional motorcyclists who ride with you all the way.

Click below for more details or, if you wish to discuss details further call 07590 599662.

goo.gl/XR5KXu

John Wilton
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Biker v Petrol Forecourt

Petrol Forecourts v. Bikers

Predator v Alien, City v United, Oasis v Blur…? How about Biker v Petrol Forecourt?

Whether you view the petrol forecourt as a friend or foe we all need them and more often than we would like to admit. Admittedly they are good for a rest, cuppa and snack with varying degrees of facilities available and some even build up a ‘following’ becoming a social focus point for ride-outs and meets but sadly some fall short of providing a safe place for us adventurous iron-horse riding types.

A common issue is the removal of the helmet, followed by a new up and coming problem, remaining on your machine whilst filling up.

The helmet issue may have had its origins and justifications vaguely linked to robberies and thefts. While ‘head covering’ was the chosen method of avoiding detection for the criminal masterminds who decide to ‘hold up’ a gas station this method wasn’t overly used for a number of reasons. The criminal genius soon realise that it wasn’t very practical to run away while wearing a massive bone dome on your noggin, it limited their view, made them easier to subdue once caught (control the head and you control the beast) and with advances in DNA and ease of retrieving it, almost guaranteed their demise by leaving a present for the law in the lid. So understandably we are requested to remove helmets prior to entering the store to pay. I do think the majority of us have no problem with this. It is simply good manners and shows off our golden locks and stunning good looks to the other customers.

Another helmet issue extends to the filling of your motorcycle. There is a garage local to my hometown who refuse to authorise the pump until the biker removes their helmet - Even those with flip fronts!

When challenged them they used the excuse that the garage was protecting themselves against ‘drive offs’. The rider (an off-duty police officer) was then given a jack-a-nory story that the forecourt in question utilised facial recognition technology to ID riders and therefore needed the helmet to be removed. The rider pointed out the big piece of yellow plastic on the back of the bike which had unique reference number applied to it, for arguments sake we will call it the ‘registration plate’ but this won no favour with the garage who simply refused to authorised the pump. The result - Riders replacing the nozzle and riding off.

Quite frankly I don’t want to remove my helmet at the pump - Where do I place it? On the floor? My helmet cost the best part of £500. (£700 if you include the comms equipment I’ve fitted inside) and I’ve no desire to see if covered in ‘crap’ from the forecourt floor.
What is more comical, is that when telling this story to police work colleagues one chirped up to mention that they were refused service at the same garage even when sat astride a police motorcycle in full uniform! The logic begs belief.

This brings me nicely on to the latest issue to come to our attention, being sat astride your bike whilst filling. The same thread on a biker Facebook page highlighted how a major supermarket (we will call them ‘CESTO’) refused to authorised a pump for a rider sat astride his machine. The cashier even pushed a letter from head office under the nose of the biker, dictating their ‘policy’.

Lets consider the argument - Petrol and diesel on the floor making foot placement dangerous and slippery. This means the motorcyclist may slip and drop their machine whilst filling and cause a spillage. So the advice is to fill when off the machine. I’m sorry, as a preference I fill while sat on my machine. Allow me to explain why.

1 - Both feet are on the ground giving me stability.
2 - The bike is level meaning I can fill my bike with the maximum amount of go-go juice possible (surely every little helps Tes… I mean ‘Cesto’). Most modern tanks aren’t overly effected and you shouldn’t brim your tank generally.
3 - I don’t have to lean over the bike, twist around, touch my toes and play ‘ker-plunk’ with the masses of twisted fuel lines adorning the pump.
4 - Some riders like to fill, then paddle their bikes a few feet forward so their mates to get to the pump.
5 - My pillion can stay asleep on the back while I fill up - Ok perhaps that one isn’t true.

There is a new Facebook page (Biker v Petrol Forecourt) requesting riders name and shame the garage forecourts with tales of unfriendly behaviour and blatant hostility towards motorcyclists.

So, one solution I am considering. Some forecourts offer an attended service to less mobile clients. Request it. Dismount and request the attendant fill your bike while you ‘right it’ with both hands firmly on the handlebars - I am sure they would be more than happy to help as this goes a long way to promote safety at the pump - Or am I now being the difficult one?

The other solution - Name & shame.

Practically I cannot sign off this blog without some genuine safety ‘observations’ when filling. If, like me, you prefer to fill whilst sat on your machine;

1 - Ride to the pump with it on your strong side. For me this is my right side. This also means I can step off the bike away from the pump and have plenty of space for my dismount. Just be mindful of Billy-Bob BoyRacer or Richard the Rep flying through the centre of the pumps in their Formula 1 car and taking you off your legs. If your strong side is your left, give yourself ample space to dismount your machine or consider moving it a bit after filling.
2 - Before filling - Get your side stand down! Don’t need to elaborate on this point, common ‘bike sense’ here.
3 - If you do get refused service - Don’t lose your temper with the attendant. If you really feel aggrieved request the duty-manager and make your point. Move your bike from the pump and be polite. Other people need fuel too, some urgently.
4 - Don’t leave your fill to the last minute. It is better to ride off and find another than have to ‘back down’ and conform to their requests, no matter how daft, because you are sailing in on fumes.
5 - The consumer will win. If a garage is hostile, tell you mates and take your business elsewhere.

John Wilton
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2017 Tours are here! Book your time off work now!

2017 ToUrS are HerE!
Summaries of our 2017 Tours including dates are now published! More exact details to follow

19th to 22nd May - UK
WILD SOUTHWEST
Our 3 day West-country tour is a perfect way to see some of the most dramatic and stunning roads and landscapes in the UK.

11th to 16th June - UK
FIVE-A-DAY
Take care of your health and well being with our ‘5-a-Day’ Tour. Ensure you get one of your five-a-day essentials by visiting 5 of Great Britain’s finest National Parks in 5 Glorious days of motorcycling.

29nd June to 2nd July - UK
WILD SOUTHWEST
Due to its popularity we visit our 3-day West-country tour a second time.

26th July and 9th August. European
DOUBLE ‘OH’ HEAVEN
We board a ferry from the UK to start our tour on the north coast of Spain from where we head to Pamplona, Pyrenees mountains, Millau Bridge, Gorge Du Verdon, Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, Monte Carlo, Italy, Contra Dam from opening sequence of GoldenEye in Switzerland... Pause! Breath! We ride the Furka Pass from another classic Bond movie, ‘Goldfinger’ where Tilly Masterson's attempts to kill Goldfinger are scuppered by Sean Connery in his Aston Martin DB5. We also ride on to the Grimsel Pass, Nufenen Pass and the stunning Gotthard Pass and Tremola then on to Lake Annecy via Lake Geneva. The Little St Bernard pass from the opening sequence of the ‘Italian Job’, where Roger Beckermann is killed by the Mafia while driving a Lamborghini Miura in the Italian Alps, Montreaux, Vosges Mountains and Ardennes in France to cool down those tyres then our final night in Ypres, Belgium where we witness the last-post played every evening at the Menin gate in respect of the fallen of World War 1.

4th to 10th of September. France & Belgium
BATTLEFIELDS
Introduction to Battlefields - Normandy, The Somme, Verdun, Bastogne & Ypres.

Join us!

http://goo.gl/XR5KXu
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Legend Nick Sanders and some updates on 9-Länder tour.

Legend Nick Sanders and some updates on 9-Länder tour.
As 9-Länder approaches we want to remind people that if you want to book one of the few remaining spaces then payment needs to be made as soon as your spot is secured! This is due to us now being within 6 weeks of the tour starting - so if you don't want to miss out on this brilliant tour, you need to be quick!

We have added a couple of extra surprises this year making this 9-Länder even more memorable.

Don't hesitate to email of call us to secure your place.

On a separate note, we had the pleasure of bumping into motorcycling's answer to Ranulph Fiennes and iconic British motorcycling legend - Nick Sanders at Damerells in Cornwall last week. A true gentlemen and his stories had us in complete stitches as is always the case. If you ever get chance to see Nick please do, and if you are in Wales on your bike then a visit and stay at his Exhibition Centre is a must! His new book 'The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man. Vol 1' is essential reading for anyone with a taste for adventure.

Good luck with 'Mach 1' Nick!

More exciting Nick Sanders news to follow in due course...
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Details of our training packages will also soon be published so keep an eye on our website or, to be sure of getting the news first, subscribe to our newsletter.

John
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Over or Under? The Millau Viaduct - Moto Ventura Tours

Over or Under? The Millau Viaduct - Moto Ventura Tours
Taking 3 years to construct and opened one month ahead of schedule in December 2004 the Millau Viaduct is rapidly becoming one of the most recognisable bridges in the world. Even as a local to the area I imagine it would be impossible to pass by this construction without staring at it's sheer magnificence but here is an interesting dilemma, do you ride over or under to get the best view? From the images you find on google it is tempting just to ride over the bridge and continue on your merry way - but wait a minute. Yes the viewing platform is great and the view is breathtaking, the ride over offers a sense of accomplishment but to truly get the measure of the sheer size of this bridge you must ride underneath it. We do exactly that, we ride south OVER the bridge, exit the motorway then loop back underneath. The bonus is a staggering view, but take your time and don't rush - despite it's size, it's easy to miss!
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Toll Road Joy - Moto Ventura Tours

Toll Road Joy - Moto Ventura Tours
One thing toll roads can offer is a chance to adjust some layers and take your helmet off - Scorchio!!
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Climbing the Furka - Moto Ventura Tours

Climbing the Furka - Moto Ventura Tours
Not just the views impress - the versatility to the BMW and the Honda left us impressed - surely the Daddies ob motorcycle touring?
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Feeling on top of the World - Moto Ventura Tours

Feeling on top of the World - Moto Ventura Tours
BMW RT and Honda Pan in totally harmony! Just heading off after enjoying the view at the top of the Furka Pass, Switzerland. The way down the Grimsel was a real feast for the eyes (and the tyres). Our 'Bond Tour' for 2017 is really taking shape. Subscribe to our email and blog updates for hot info as soon as it is published.
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This touring lark is madness - Moto Ventura Tours

This touring lark is madness - Moto Ventura Tours
Toll roads drive us mental!! We avoid them where possible due to these kind of side effects! Laurie having a moment
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