Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2013 - 2014...... What did Advancedbiker do in 2013 ?

Well I thought I might just take some time to review 2013 and before I start I must thank all my clients, friends, subscribers and followers who have made the year a one to  remember.

As 2012 drew to a close, I thought it would give me some time to plan and review my Advanced Training, but no......   A couple of emails came in enquiring about training in 2013, one from Spain and one from Holland.

So it was a matter of arranging flights, ferries and motorcycles.... BUT !

I thought it may be a good idea to look at investing in these new 'fangled' cameras.  Those Go Pro ones....  I could take one over with me to Spain at the end of January...   So after some investigation on the tinternet and some feedback from Russ at Roadcraft Nottingham, the deed was done....

A brand new Drift Hd camera from Action Cameras arrived and at first it appeared strange to use.  I was used to the old Sony Camcorder, wiring it into the BMW R1200GS electrics and then recording the footage onto cassette tapes.  Then process them as DVD's.........  I found a way to mount the camera so it was a matter of waiting till the end of January and off to sunny Spain.

I must say Facebook is a great invention as I managed to make contact with an old work colleague who live in Orba, Spain, within one hours ride from the clients in Spain. Now what about a motorcycle ?

Well I mentioned hiring one, but when he said I could use his Honda Blackbird, I said yes, so the search was on for flights and accommodation.

The next issue was the logistics......What to take, radio's helmet camera etc....Would it all fit in my luggage with all my kit.   In the end I paid for Hold luggage, but wore my motorcycle jacket and motorcycle boots...

The date was set....Thursday 24th January 2013, flying out of Manchester Airport,UK to Alicante in Spain.  Transfer arranged in Spain and enroute to my lodging a Chinese meal...

Day One Friday 25th January 2013 - Awoke to clear blue skies, and a warm 20 degrees........  My mate Glyn a fellow BMW R1200GS owner took me on pillion to our meeting point in Benidorm and at just before mid day we all met up.  First issue.......Johan had only one other motorcycloe a Suzuki SV 1000 and thought he and his wife Sharon could take turns riding that, whilst I had the Blackbird.
PLAN B -  Why not arranged for whoever was not riding the Suzuki to ride pillion with me on the Blackbird, so in that we way we could head out inot the hills and cover more miles.....  So it was all arranged....
Where do we go......?
Bit out of my comfort zone here and suggesting to Johan to pick a route, while I ride a motorcycle cycle I had never ridden before with a pillion I did not know........  Well it all worked out as we headed into the hills above Orxeta, bend, after bend, after bend.........until we got to.....

Guadalest for our first debrief and change of rider..............  I had to do the English think and wear my neck scarf on my head, to protect it from the afternoon sun.

After a lazy coffee stop it was debrief time and a big decision on where to go for dinner.......

It was off to - 

Restaurant El Riu next to the Historical Automobile Museum "Vall de Guadalest" in the Guadalest valley between Callosa and Guadalest.......  For a light lunch..........

After a mini banquet it was back to Orxeta and end of day one......  What a great day and two more to come........

Day 2.  Saturday 26th January 2013

Another sunny start for me and Glyn, but a bit a shock for one of us.  There are actually two 7.30's in the day. (Please note Glyn)
The run to Orchette our start point was about a hour away, so we took the coast road, the N332, but soon found out that the strong winds had returned and it made riding interesting. Especially when we nearly got blown of our feet at the toll booth......

Great news when we got to Johan and Sharon's house, another motorcycle had arrived.  A smart Kawasaki that Sharon was interested in buying.   So we all had motorcycles for the day, me on the Blackbird and Johan on his Suzuki. 

A quick cup of tea to start the day and a chat over a route, which took in less bends, so they could be assessed on planning for bends more.  It was decided that we would return to the N322 and head for Alicante along the coast, stopping for fuel at El Campello before heading in land.  Sharon did the honors and lead and she found some great 'twisties'.......
After a great session we ended up for a break at a well visited motorcycle stop at Venta Terassa on the cv 800.

The weather  was fine and I had'nt brought my new HD Drift camera 800 miles, not to use it,so I had a go, first at the cafe and then helmet mounted.....  

The road we were on the CV800 enventually lead to Alcoy, but after the cafe stop, we still had a fair bit of climbing, now with Johan leading, before we stopped to admire the view further up...

 Then it was on to lunch, well Tapas near to Alcoy and then a big 'loop' north towards Xativa, Gandia and Pego back to Orba.

Another great day, great company, great weather, great roads and great progress made

Our route

 Time to relax before the last day of assessing......
Saturday  night was at Restaurant Paraiso, Parcent.

The start of another day, the wind has dropped and the temperatures at 9am in the morning, yes 9am (Glyn) are staring to rise......

This morning another rider is coming along for the experience.

Today I wanted to look at Sharon and Johan on simliar roads to the ones we used on day two, so I suggested the same route to dinner and then return back to the coast.

In the short time I had been with both riders, I had seen progress in terms of a greater awareness of their riding environment and most of all getting them away from the theoretical side of Advanced Riding - Roadcraft.  It is all right reading about it, but putting it into practice in a practical way is another matter.
The biggest thing that sticks out when doing this assessing in positioning for bends........ The majority of riders plan quite effectively for one bend, BUT if you have your view WHY ?  During this course we focused on forward planning, one bend to the next and as Johan said, 'Knitting them together', so in otherwords trying to keep the motorcycle stable as much as possible and that means upright.

The roads we went on were smooth, no potholes and although twisty, made the riders more aware of the importance of planning for the next bend, in otherwords formulating the 'Riding Plan'.  When this is addedd to the mix and then we add the right speed, and then right gear with the right amount of throttle - BALANCE, WE start to get CONTROL.

Forgot to mention enjoyment when it all comes together.
We had regular debriefs as like everything these best laid plans fail....

I took my Tribe radio to pair upto the riders Scala Bluetooth systems, but the Autocom system I took failed to work, despite having new batteries fitted.

Must have been the heat, hence no commentary on the video footage.....

What happened at the end of the day....Well we had to find a beach front cafe for a debrief.......
What do I think of Spain as a training venue ?

I had my reservations as I  did not know what to expect as you come to an an area, and when you are told Benidorm, you think British Holiday makers, package tours etc......  Well we never even went into the place (Just saw the sky line) and instead was introduced to the beautiful countryside around from Javea in the north down towards Alicante.  The are some good open type roads further in land, but the roads we chose, although very twisty, worked.  Why  - because it developed rider awareness, forward planning, control and confidence, without the aspect of speed,  As a training area, IT WORKED FOR ME.
My thanks to Johan and Sharon for having the faith in asking me over and Glyn and Christine my hosts....                                                     
AND......I even put some footage on Youtube:

Arrived back in the United Kingdom to a very cold February and another email from a potential client from Malta !   

Several emails were exchanged and arrangements made for a 5 day course at the beginning of April.  Where was I going to meet the client...... Cardiff, why not, so I travelled down to the local BMW dealer where he had arranged a hire motorcycle - BMW R1200GS.  He was waiting for his new BMW R1200GS LC.  We both travelled back to North Staffordshire, where he stayed at Chapel Croft Bed and Breakfast.  Despite the cold, we had good dry roads for the course and explored the Peak District and North Wales.

At the end of the course I took him back to Cardiff.

So what next........

Back to normality for a couple of weeks before heading out to Normandy for our Annual Advanced Training Workshop........
Well the organisation for it started for it way back in the Autumn of 2012, when I had to make sure we had the accommodation available for a group of nine motorcyclists.  Managed to get this sorted, so the next task advertise the trip on the web site and also for the first time on Facebook, where I attracted two riders from London.
Now just a matter of waiting for the ferry times to come out and booking the crossing from Portsmouth to Caen with Brittany Ferries

All the deposits for the ferry and the training in, time for the off.  Well perhaps not that easy......  Do some planning as the riders were coming from Preston, Doncaster, Biddulph, Burton, Tewkesbury, Peterborough and London.  I circulated times to the ferry and having picked up Kevin, Dave, Andy and Clinton enroute down the M6, M5, M40 and A34 we met up with Alison, Sue, Eva-Maria and Barry at Portsmouth.  We all had an uneventful ride down, dry weather and some sun and once in through the booking kiosks, I got a little wound up by the way we were treated by the customs.  We were searched for wait for it, ammunition, guns and knives......  I appreciated they have a job to do, but I ask you.....
Well on the Ferry ;  

The Normandie Express, all motorcycle secured and the up to the resevered lounge for the reclining seats.  Long crossing - 5 hours ish, but a welcome break having just done 240 miles to the ferry port.  I thought of using the Eurotunnel, and then driving down....Works out about the same time, but you are using more fuel and the wear and tear on the motorcycles.  Any way time to get aquainted and admire the sea view..... Well NOT quite - Sea mist all the way across and as we landed in Normandy at 21.30 hrs local time, it was dark and the sea mist had turned to FOG.
We only had a sort 30 minute run to the bed and breakfast, so Sat Nav on and off we went with me leading.  I was very happy I had the Sat Nav as it gave me an idea of where the road went and on occasions had to follow the centre white line.  It was that bad.
Arrived at Adrian's and Karen's to be met with a fantastic buffet, before we headed off to bed ready for the next day's riding.
Day Two to follow.
Well after  a sound sleep and not hearing the church bells, down for breakfast and then out on the road for 10am.  Do you ever get one of those feelings that is going to be one of those days.......Well the Sat Nav packed up, had a mind of it's own....Switching between screens, freezing, you name it, it did it, then no power in the Drift HD camera.  Could job I had the old reliable Sony Camcorder and bullet cameras working, and five other motorcycles fitted with Drift HD cameras.....
Down to business - Not a good day for the weather, bit wet, but we are in Normandy and a few spots of rain was not going to spoil the day.
Just needed to decide on the running order and route, as my Sat Nav had all the routes.......Back to basics and memory:

Get the old maps out and hopefully I could remember roughly where we were heading...

Decided to head into  Bayeux for fuel and then head off along the D5 towards le Molay-Littry where we could stop for coffee and a debrief.

Organising the 9 riders:
Alison and Sue with me, with Alison being the first rider of the group.
Dave was with Kevin
Andy or as we got to know him as Dave, Dave, don't ask with Eva -Maria and Barry
Leaving Clinton as 'Tail end Charlie'
The D5 is a good road to just get you used to riding in France and Alison did well, with only a few minor issues which we discussed later.  The biggest thing, which never occurred to me before was the added pressure of being lead rider in a group of experienced riders.
Well the rain came down a bit more so we took longer than normal at the first stop before Sue had her turn in front as we headed for St Lo.  The roads were not that good in terms of rural dirt and the motorcycles looked a bit messy afterwards......

We made it so St Lo and the rain stopped, so I lead the group to our dinner stop in the quaint town of Villedieu-les-Poeles.  We use a cafe by the side of the church and treated ourselves to a sandwich, French style.  That big they gave you jaw ache.....

General chit chat at the dinner stop, everyone in good spirits and a lot of conversation about the riding etc......

Just to point out at this stage that all the riders on the Workshop had ether ridden with me before and some had gone on the gain advanced grades from the I.A.M and R.O.S.P.A. Other had had been on Bikesafe.  So the standard of riding was not basic and the general issues amongst the group was:
  1. Lack of observation in depth
  2. Being in CAR mode
  3. Balancing the motorcycle on the bends - CONTROL
The next part of the day was going to test their skills as we headed out on the D999 to Brecey, before turning east and heading along the D911 to Sourdeval.  This road has been on Youtube many times and used by me on numerous occasions.  It is a good surfaced road with good stretches between villages and hardly any traffic.

This is some footage from the trip

Once again Alison was the lead motorcycle and when we reached Sourdeval I decided to head North to Vire for a well deserved break in the town square by the old clock tower.  We had enough training for the day, so on the way back to Arromanches I took the group to see the gun battery at Longues s.Mer.

A great first day, progress seen in all the riders, another two days to go, just hope for some better weather......

Thought of the day - It is always great to have a reliable HOST, as I had forgot all about the evening meal.  I need not have worried as Karen had got it all sorted. - We had taken advantage of the offer of an evening meal at the bed and breakfast. Thanks Karen.

After the meal, it all became a bit technical with lap top, tablets, I Pads coming out from nowhere as the days camera footage was played back to the riders.  I tried to repair my Sat Nav, in otherwords take the battery out....Still did not work.....  Maps again for tomorrows run...

Having got back to the United Kingdom very pleased to get a write up in Motorcycle News....
Wednesday 22nd May - this weeks Motorcycle News, ( MCN ) and we are in it, pages 38 and 39.  A feature on the trip we did to Normandy in April 2013.  I will be getting a clearer version in a couple of days and will post that as well.
Thanks for mentioning Karen and Adrian at Normandybeach :www.normandybeach.co.uk and
Brittany Ferries : www.brittany-ferries.co.uk

In the meantime, Thank You Alison Silcox for the article:

Towards the end of April this year I received an email, followed up with a message on Google + from a rider from South Africa who was coming over to the United Kingdom in May and then going onto South Wales in June before flying back home.  He was going to visit friends near to Cardiff, which was ideal, as I knew where he could hire a motorcycle for the day.  Arrangements were made, further e-mails exchanged and a date and time fixed.
So On Thursday 6th June 2013, an early start for me, on the road for 6.30am for a 3 hours ride for me to get to Cardiff to meet the client at the BMW dealership, in Cardiff.  I arrived 10 minutes late due to traffic problems on the approach to Cardiff and upon arrival at Rider BMW, I was met by the client.

I recognised him through his photographs on Google +
Once the paperwork was done, we have a chat before we set off.   What did we chat about, well his previous riding history and what he was looking for out the days assessment/training.

On the roads with the new BMW F800GS ....

I managed to get out of Cardiff and stopped on the road out towards the M4 to turn the cameras on, then it was the turn of the  client.  A short ride in front onto the M4 before heading north on the A roads through Pontypool to Abergaveny.
After a debrief at Abergaveny I did a short demonstration ride in front with commentary, before he was given the opportunity to ride in front again:

After Wales......End of June brings the trip to Holland....A weekend of Advanced Training....... What a fantastic experience, which started with the overnight ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland with Stenaline.  I met up with the client at the ferry and we managed to get a days riding in.  On the second day we combined our interest in World War Two and visited the Airbourne Museum, at Hartenstein. On the last day a leisure day at a local wildlife area to do some photography before heading back for the Sunday night ferry........ Before heading for the ferry visited Steenbergen the final resting place of Guy Gibson (Dambuster).

Another gentle cruise back to the United Kingdom, arriving early morning, so headed over to Rivenhall, an old airfield associated with my Uncle Ern - World War Two, he was a rear gunner in a Stirling bomber, 295 Squadron.

That was it for my international travels..........  But not  for the increased number of clients during the riding season and my decision to invest in a second Drift Hd camera - The Ghost version...
For a number of years now I have been using an onboard video system on my motorcycle to record all the training  I do. The set up has relied on bullet cameras and a very reliable Sony Camcorder with AV in.  

Unfortunately as things progress it is getting harder to get the Sony camcorders and the market is being flooded with these HD cameras which record onto to disc.  

Well this year 2013 I invested in a Drift HD 1080 Camera and ended up using the same mountings I use for me Bullet cameras.  The very reliable 3 M Dual Lock Tape. 

I know everyone seems to be using Go Pro's, but I am very impressed with the Drift Hd camera as it is very easy to use and I cam add commentary to it via my Autocom and the Any Griffiths GIZMO 2  Well I saw an offer I could not refuse the other day on the Action Cameras website, so went and bought an additional camera - The Drift HD Ghost.........  What really impresses my about the Ghost is the Wi Fi connection and yesterday whilst having a play, found you can alter setting etc via either your phone, tablet or I Pad.  You can preview the shot and remote record from the devices........  The other thing for me is a step up from the Drift Hd 1080 is the remote now has flashing lights which tell you when it is recording...
It is work in progress, just hope we get some decent weather in the United Kingdom to try it out......
Well the system seemed to work, so now looking at split screen editing for 2014 and also continuing to provide clients with instant feedback with USB Flash Drives.....

That seems to be it for now, a good year, met some great people,forged some great friendships and got support from Bikerz, Motul and Graphix.

Roll on 2014..........

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Vouchers Still available - Stuck for a present - Why not an Advanced Motorcycle Course

Many thanks to all the customers who have already been in touch and bought vouchers for advanced motorcycle training courses in 2014.....

In the UK the post is now against us, but I can send a pdf version of a voucher to anyone who wants to book a courses as a last minute Christmas Present.

Only £25.00 deposit

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Skippy the BMW - Rear Shocker lost all it's Oil.........

Last week I noticed that the reliable Bmw R1200GS was starting to handle strangely on some bends.  Thought nothing of it as I thought the tyres had gone off.  The rear has done 12,000 miles with 3mm left on it, but has squared off.  Couldn't find anything wrong, so on another ride, the BMW was reacting like a Kangaroo.  The rear had  mind of it's own and when I stopped I saw oil dripping from the rear shock.
Time for some research........
The BMW has done 38,000 miles, never had a pillion and not had a hard life, but the rear shock gone.
Can I get it repaired - NO - Sealed unit so what next....... Replacement BMW Shock around £1,200.00, better look at the forums.  Found some replacement units from Wilbers, Ohlins, Hagon and Nitron, all in the region of £400 to £650.

I managed to source a pair from a 2012 model which had only done 9,000 miles for £300.00.  I would be replacing Showa shocks to White Power..... Would they fit...

Time to look up the Haynes Manual, chapter 4.14 for front Shock and chapter 4.20 and make sure I have the necessary tools...Yes invested in a Hex Socket set awhile back.

So tackled the rear shock absorber first, 
Take off the silencer which gives you better acces and the undo the bottom securing bolt first, before removing placing chocks under the rear wheel to take the weight off the shock. Next having removed the seat undo the top, everything slack, how will it come off.

Noticed in the Haynes manual that they removed the rear wheel, but having looked at the space available, I removed my mudslinger and the shock came away.  No Issues.

Rear shock fitted and torque'd as required, silencer refitted, bit of silicon on the joint, start up...Sounding OK.

Just need to was off all the oil off the 'Mudslinger, replace. JOB DONE in about 30 minutes....

I was in the mood and it was early in the morning so I decided to trackle the front shock.....

I thought it would be an easy job....NO !

I had a big problem with the bottom bolt, it would undo so far and the go tight.......  Out came the WD40 to lubricate the bolt and work it forward and back...Still would not come out.

Last resort filed some metal off the hole on the offside fork leg and to be astonishment, bolt came out, no problem.

So bottom bolt out, time to tackle the top nut, but where is it ?

You have to remove all the side panels, Petrol tank cover, which then uncovers the plastic petrol tank.

Do I remove it or not.....No just pull it back to reveal the bolt on top of the front shock.... Allen key and spanner - Sorted

Now compress the back suspension and raise the front a little with chocks under the sump, just enough and the front shock come out easy.

Now time to tighten it all up and start replacing all the panels.

 I always dread this bit, in case I drop anything into the tank, but it has to be done.  Replacing the petrol cap, but first stuff the whole with  some rag.

Will it work YES and when I had finished, no screws missing or left over, so ready for the road again after a quick wash
 New Shock Fitted

Ready for Work again

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Repairing Garmin Zumo 550 Sat Nav

Well it has happened again..... My Garmin Zumo 550 Sat Nav stopped working again.  It broke when I was in Normandy in April and through the internet I found out that a common fault was a thing called a Digitizer.  In otherwords the screen you touch to make it all happen.  This time the sat nav turned on and the screen went white.  I coupled the sat nav upto the computer and everything was functioning, so I thought the Digitizer had failed.  After a quick search on the internet I order a new replacement and fitted it today.
Thought you might see how I did it:

Make sure you have a set of these handy - Electronic Screwdriver Set as you need to remove all the 8 screws from the back of the Sat Nav and also the top cover.

When you ease open the the back cover the front screen is attached with the straps above.  They are held in place with a small plastic hinged bars which when pulled back releases both connections.  Looking at the unit from this angle, pull towards you.  One is black for the long connection the other browish. 

Before I went any further I checked the new digitizer and switched the sat nav on.  It worked, so on with the installation.

Remove 4 four phillips scews from the plastic housing and remember not to loose the rubber seal.

Old Digitizer - Metal Carrier - Rubber Seal
  If the digitizer had not been replaced before, the original is glued in and you will need to ease the screen away from the metal carrier.  When I did the first replacement I cracked the screen.   It happens..... Doesn't matter as you are replacing it.
Time for the replacement:
The replacement digitizer is slightly smaller, so I applied a bit of clear silicon to hold it centrally on the metal carrier and also put a small amount on the rubber seal.  Screw the carrier and new digitizer back onto the plastic body and then carefully refit the the plastic electrical connections - Click the retaining bars back in place.
Put the two parts of the Zumo 550 and switch on........ Works !!!!!! 

Working Garmin Zumo 550 Repair £20.00

Friday, November 29, 2013

Advancedbiker talks about video editing........

For years I have been using Pinnacle Studio for my editing, but like everything these days, when technology moves on, do I !
Well I have been trying to do a video clip to put on Youtube, using Picture in Picture.  Why, well I thought if I could show speed, gears and revs on a video clip,it would help riders viewing them.  I have spent many hour editing on Pinnacle, but it would never produce the finished video.  It just would not let me put two HD Drift 1080p camera captured footage together......Frustrating.......

So I got in touch with a fellow Facebooker, Russ Stevenson who suggested Cyberlink Power Director.

Went on the internet yesterday, downloaded a free trial..........Hey Presto........
Quicker to download files, easier to edit footage and I could put clips from four video sources onto one frame if I wanted to.... Here is one example:

It is only experimenting at present, but there is potential....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Advancedbiker - Youtube - Google+ = Comments

On November 6th 2013, Google changed its YouTube property to only allow comments from Google Plus accounts, thus de-anonymizing commenters, as the principal element of its site-wide comments overhaul.

You can still post your comments on my Youtube channel, but as far as I see it, you must have a Google+ account......I think !

Good luck

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Advanced Motorcycle Training Christmas Vouchers for 2014 Courses

It is that time of year again.... Christmas........

Stuck for a present, WHY not consider buying an Advanced Motorcycle Training Course for 2014.

All you need to do is contact Advanced Motorcycle Training .Com and for a deposit of £25.00 you will receive a Gift Voucher and Ride to Survive DVD.

Date of course to be arranged

Saturday, November 02, 2013

When you take the radio off the rider ......!

Picture the scene......

Just completed a great days training out into Wales and was on the way back having left Shrewsbury on the B road towards Newport and eventually Stafford.  Said the the riders, used to do two at a time them, last session , do you want the radios still....

NO WE WILL BE OK !    Bad mistake and here is why :

This was back in about 2000 and now the radios stay on till the end of the day.........

Why does Advancedbiker use a Radio ?

Why do I use a radio ?

Well I started using radios back in the 1980's as a means of communicating between myself as an Instructor to all my clients who I took out training.
However over the years a number of organisations have had certain reservations about radio use, I think basically because of the BLAME culture that we now live in.
When you use radios any conversation can be taken as an instruction and therefore if acted on incorrectly could leave you in a situation whereby the person who receives that message, could be placed in danger.
So when you use radios, do you cease to become an Instructor ?  Do you then become an observer , mentor, trainer, coach.....etc

I think what ever slant is put on it you must ALWAYS act in a professional manner and that goes for the person you have out with you.

When you go out training you can use the radio in several ways and the most common way is giving commentary, either by doing a demonstration ride in front or by following the other rider.  Something like this:

Motorway ride M6 Junction 18 to 17 in Cheshire

Then the other way of using radio is for the coaching - mentoring the rider you are with.  You have got to strike a happy balance between offering the rider sufficient information for them to make their own riding decisions based on the information supplied.  I have been with Observers -Instructors who never stop talking and in my view this cannot be a good thing as it eventually turns the other rider into what I call a ROBOTIC rider. Not thinking for themselves.
The use of radios for me gives me :
  • Control of the riding environment
  • Able to give directions
  • Instant feedback - Including Praise
  • A more effective method of delivering the 'training'
I hope that when you watch the following video you hear that I try not to give any instructions actions for the rider to take.  Using words like - Consider......Pick your head up....... Look ahead......Watch out......Safety...... Use BUZZ words and keep them short, and check with the rider first taht they are happy and understand certain phrases. 
 In the following video clip it is early on in the training and I am only concentrating on a few issues; Forward Observation, Gears, Positioning.....

Here Goes:

This is looking a rider at the commencement of a session with the added bonus of him being able to communicate back to me.  He had never done anything like this before, but he does cope very well.

The use of radios for me is a great 'tool' - Don't be afraid to use them.

Friday, November 01, 2013

How Advancedbiker uses a radio during his sessions

Earlier this week I was invited to do a talk, well 'natter' to WHAM, the Worcester and Hereford Advanced Motorcycle Group at the monthly meet at Bromyard.  I took along some bits and bobs, radios, ear pieces, video equipment and the night went very well.
I got thinking, I have not really explained what I use for my training, especially radios, so here goes........
I have been using radios for training/mentoring what ever you want to call it since the 1980's and a few ups and downs settled with the system I have a present.
Just to set the scene....
In the United Kingdom there are basically three methods of communication between riders when riding motorcycle and they are:

  • PMR 446 Radio -  Personnel Mobile Radio 446 is a handportable short range voice only communication system, which provides a basic but effective radio service for both business and non business users. It is ideal for providing communication over short distances; such as within office buildings, factories and building sites. Only speech transmissions can be made.  It is licence exempt and works on 8 dedicated frequencies.  However on many radios these channels have upto 38 sub channels.  Power output 0.5 watt.
  • Private Business RadioThe PBR UK General Licence allows customers to use hand-portable or mobile radio equipment anywhere within the UK without the need to inform RA. The licence for this service has been designed to allow customers access to one or more of fifteen frequencies spread across four PMR bands. As this is a "go-anywhere" type of service, the use of base stations is not permitted unless prior authorisation has been obtained from RA. There is no limitation on the number of sites where a licensee can use radios covered by the UK General licence, or on the duration of use at any location. The maximum permitted effective radiated power of equipment used under this licence is 5 watts.  This costs £60.00 for three years.
  • BLUETOOTH - Many devices available from manufacturers like Interride, Scala etc.
So you can see you have a choice, but I always kept coming back to PMR 446 and Autocom.

I started with the Autocom Pro 7 Sport which was hard wired to my motorcycle according to the manufacturers instructions, noting to connect the live feed to a switchable source, ie rear light and earth back to the motorcycle battery.  In this way it minimised any interference.  The unit served me very well for a number of years until Autocom updated the systems and brought out the 7 pin leads and easier ways to connect you sat nav and mobile phone to the units.  AT THIS POINT can I say that there are still a great number of Autocom units available on E Bay and they still provide an excellent communication system.  All you need to do is perhaps change the foam on the mics,etc, which can still be bought. 

Next the way of getting communication between the motorcycles, well I went for ICOM PMR 446 and that was back in 1990 and they still work as good as new today.  These particular radios can be powered directly from the Autocom units, so no need to keep charging batteries. HOWEVER any Autocom units manufactured after 2009 do not have this facility.
The most popular radios appear to be the Kenwood Protalk range, the 3101, 3201 3301.

The price of these radios in the region of £150.00 - But check E Bay you may be surprised.
I have just fitted an Autocom to a client Honda and used a MITEX radio, cost £75.00 and half the size of the Icom and Kenwood.

Time to update to the present system....Autocom AVI 300 Duo, now fitted to the BMW R1200GS and using the Icom PMR 446 radio for transmissions.  At this point it is worth mentioning that as any potential clients, riders, associates etc do not have to transmit back to you, you can consider buying cheaper PMR446 radios. Some at MAPLINS for instance.....They work....

I used these Cobras for many years and all that is need is audio and this can be achieved in a number of ways with:
You can try the D shaped ear hangers, in ear ear phones or I have found the ones sold a MP3 speakers work very well.  For just over £5.00 from Ebay you get two slim speakers which can easily be fitted in minutes to the helmet.  If the helmet is too tight, slip them in after wards.

The twin speakers from E Bay - note the extra adapter fitted.  Converts mono from radio into stereo for the speakers and in effect fills the helmet with sound.

So a typical set up (above) for me is a radio bag, Wintec radio, E Bay speakers.  

This bag is given to your client associate etc, or they can put the radio in a pocket.  But for better reception I prefer the radio exposed with the aerial upright. With having a  number of Autocoms over the years and the fact I am a bit of a horder I had some spare units so I decided to put a kit togetherwhich included the Pro 7 Sport, spare headed (speakers and mic) and Wintec PMR 466 radio

The unit is contained in a small Autocom Tank Bag, which is magnetic and I give all my clients to option to try the system.  To date I have not had any rider who has not tried it. 
 The unit is self contained and powered by a small 9 volt battery, however if you chat wit your client before hand I often find they have some sort of system fitted and or or an external power supply, 12 volt cig lighter socket will do,

Back to the AUTOCOM - How do you know is it working, well you can hear your speech as background in your helmet speakers.  

And if you don't like VOX, you can always fit this  a three way switch which gives you the option of : 1 - VOX, 2 - Permanent transmission, 3 - Transmission but not going out on radio - Handy and the red button Press to Talk

I Hope this has all been useful.  I am only a Blog, or email  away if you need any more help.

Well having bored you with the technical stuff here is a video off Youtube showing it in practice,  In this clip the rider has the spare Autocom unit and is doing his own commentary for the first time.  WHY ?Well he freely admitted that he had a few issues with his concentration, so I suggested he talked to himself whilst riding...This them developed into, well how about trying some commentary and this is what happened.......