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Oldfjman

Sept Northern Ireland Trip (FJ shake-down ride)

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Not sure if their is right place for this, but I figured anyone interested would read it wherever I posted it.

After completing (apart from some small cosmetics) my FJ refurb, I thought about giving it a brief shake-down ride to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything, or missed anything when putting it back together. What better way to do this shakedown than to take it on a 1200 mile road trip to Northern Ireland and back via the Lake District, Stranraer and Northumberland ?.

We'd been promising our son (Ryan) a trip as his graduation present after finishing Uni, so with the time limitations we had and him wanting to see the Giants Causeway and visit Game of Thrones filming locations, Northern Ireland was the obvious choice for quick week-long trip.

So, we packed everything up onto the 3 bikes (the FJ, Fazer 1000 and Fazer 600) in the glorious sunshine at home and went back into the house for a final cuppa and lunch before setting off for our overnight stop with friends in Cumbria. As soon as the kettle had boiled, it started to pee it down, so out came the waterproofs (first time this year) and the long faces - my first proper ride on the FJ that I'd spent months cleaning, polishing and painting, was going to be in a bloody rainstorm 

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Heading up the M6 was cold and miserable, but all 3 bikes were running smoothly and soundly. After about 100 miles, the rain turned to light drizzle and by the time we reached Lancaster the sun was shining (although it was still chilly). The first fuel stop was at 202 miles, with the FJ fuel light having just come on, The 1000 showing just under 1/4 on the fuel gauge and the 600 showing just over 1/4) and then it was off to our overnight stop with friends, who unfortunately live at the end of a 1 and 1/2 mile dirt track, better suited to an enduro bike than 3 sports tourers - by now my once pristine FJ was filthy! Luckily for us, our friends have converted their garden shed into a bar, with a nice little log-burner pouring out some heat, so we immediately retired there for "refreshments" (and a very happy Liz and Ryan).

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The following morning was bright and breezy and we set off with a renewed sense of adventure, using back lanes to get to Gretna for a quick cuppa, before the trudge (but with a few nice bits) along the A75 to Stranraer and the ferry port. The late afternoon ferry crossing was a breeze and after landing in Larne we got our first taste of Northern Irish roads - wow, they're empty !! - for the short drive to the B & B. Just as we got there, the rain came again, so the bikes went into the "portable garage" that I'd stowed away in the FJ's luggage.

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The next few days riding took us up the coastal route (A2 and then the "scenic" coastal route) firstly on beautifully smooth, lightly trafficked roads through picturesque fishing villages and small towns, before branching off onto single lane, poorly maintained tracks with steep hills, tight hairpins and the occasional passing point, journeying up to Torr Head, the Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge and the Giants Causeway. Liz was not a happy bunny, but it didn't spoil her enjoyment of the whole experience as the sun shone for most of the day and the sights were fantastic. After the Causeway we stayed in Bushmills (yes, the home of the Whisky), sadly without doing a distillery tour and then headed south back into the drizzle (and the start of the really high winds) to Ballymoney for the Dunlop memorial garden. The weather had really turned to damp and cool, so we took to riding the back roads in around the hills east of Ballymoney before heading to Ballygally, back on the coast.

At Torr Head (Liz and Ryan again) - can you spot the bikes ?

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Carrick a Rede 

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Giants Causeway

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The final day in Northern Ireland saw us head south through Belfast - memorable only for the traffic - and down to Castle Ward (Winterfell, in Game of Thrones) for a fantastic day. Once past Belfast, we got on the back roads once again and really enjoyed the lightly trafficked, well maintained, winding and scenic roads to the south east. Castle Ward was well worth the visit, plenty to see, nice walks and even some (very easy) tourist cycling routes. If we'd have had the time, we could have spent 2 days there quite happily. Knowing we had the morning ferry back to Stranraer, we headed back to Larne, revelling in the empty roads......until we got back to Belfast and it's traffic (and the rain)...,.... and stopped off for a lovely "village pub" meal before settling in for our last night.

Castle Ward/Winterfell

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The Sunken Garden

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The morning of the ferry was again blowing a gale and drizzling, but the wind was from the west and as we were headed to Northumberland and County Durham, it would be behind us all the way. The ferry crossing was uneventful, but as we'd been getting over 200 miles on each tank of fuel, we figured we wouldn't fill up before we left, thinking we'd fill up about 50 miles away from Stranraer. 

Safely strapped onto the ferry

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That was the worst decision of the trip - given that there's nowhere on the A75 to fill up once you get away from Stranraer, for about 75 miles. With clenched buttocks, we soldiered on with the FJ fuel light shining brightly until we reached the point where we could couldn't risk going any further and turned off into Castle Douglas and found Petrol !!!! At this point Ryan wanted to kill the person who'd designed the A75 to bypass all fuel stations and toilets for more than 75 miles.

Feeling relieved and rejuvenated after the stop we headed east to Gretna again and then cross country to Brampton. After a couple of miles on the A69, we turned off at Greenhead onto the Military Road, running alongside Hadrians Wall on a beautiful empty, roller-coaster of a road. A quick refreshment stop at Chollerford saw the sun come out and us head towards Corbridge (feeling warm for the first time in nearly a week) and down the A68 before cutting back across country to visit my family for an overnight stay on the County Durham coast.

The last and most boring day of our break (200 miles, of which 195 miles is motorway/dual carriageway) started in glorious sunshine and lovely warm temperatures and only got better through the day. We arrived home just after lunchtime, warm, cosy and happy.

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Once the bikes were unpacked, it was out with the washing gear, polish and lube and all 3 bikes were brought back to their pre-trip sheen.

Now, the sharp minded amongst you might have noticed that I've not even mentioned any of the bikes, other than to highlight fuel tank range. That was deliberate because I'm very pleased to say that all 3 bikes performed flawlessly (certainly as expected for the 2 younger and regularly used Fazer's). To be honest, the FJ far exceeded my expectations; the steering and handling were much better than I expected and on it's 18/38 gearing we made great motorway/dual carriageway progress with it turning over at only 4,500 rpm. The handlebar swap was really successful with the bars being exactly where I expected/remembered them and the comfort was superb. No oil was used by either bike and no chain needed adjusting (I did one chain lube each bike on the trip).

The FJ was the heaviest on fuel, but also carried the lions share of the luggage (and the heaviest items) - I didn't calculate exactly, but with over 200 miles on every tankful it was certainly not guzzling fuel (comfortably over 50 mpg I'd guess). The 2 Fazer's seemed to only sip the occasional cup of fuel, both over doing 200 miles with at least a 1/4 tank showing at each fill up and I never managed to get more than about 14 litres in either Fazer at fill ups (likely +60 mpg for each).

So, all in all, a fantastic return to service for the old FJ and "business as usual" for the Fazer's, which just reminded all 3 of us just why we love our Yamaha's.

Edited by Oldfjman
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FANTASTIC!!!

But a bit long winded and got bored after a while, and the pics upside down and sideways didn't help. Would have been brilliant in book form.

But apart from that I envy you as a family unit that can do that.

Sorry if this isn't what you wanted to hear.

Mike.

 

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LOL - that's exactly what I wanted to hear Mike - I'm not a natural "writer" and ? I just tend to blurt things out as they come into my head.

i like to let folks know about the good things we've seen and places we've visited - I like to hope that any of my info can help somebody with a visit plan sometime.

Next time I'm on a trip, I'll try to keep it mind to be simpler/shorter - which will make it easier for me anyway. ??

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Thanks for your kind reply, I was dreading a negative responce.

Briefly, as I said we love your escapades especially with pics of all involved, but the only one of you was upside down.

And as I also commented keep narrative brief.

Hope this helps.

Mike, 

Btw, my sons been on that trip especially to the giants causeway so I know you all had a fantastic time. 

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No worries Mike - as you might guess, I don't take myself too seriously and am always happy to take feeedback and constructive criticism ?. Life is much too short to get upset about someone trying to help.

Now that the FJ is back on the road, I'm retired, and I don't have the Aprilia to ride (it's still in the family though), I hope to be doing a lot more riding of the FJ ?

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Super report" :thumb:  THE BIKES LOOK GREAT,   , well done esp   this late on in the year,  ?

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Great read. Pleased the bikes performed flawlessly and you had a great time. Makes me want to head to Ireland... :thumb:

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Brilliant great write up. TBH I don't think you can do better than have a road trip with loved ones and great job on the FJ by the way.

 

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Thanks to all ? - the Irish countryside was great, despite the weather (we caught the brunt of the tropical storm that crossed the Atlantic). The biggest surprise to us was how quiet the roads were - outside of Belfast, we never even saw a hint of a traffic jam.

We will definitely be going back (the ferry and B & B prices were very reasonable), but a little bit earlier in the year though.

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Fantastic write up. Great to be able to do this with better half & son.

Once again the bike looks great. How did you cope with numb bum on the bike?

The FJ btw has a huge reserve fuel capacity as you probably well know but every time that red light comes on I recognize that feeling,

even if there is at least 100 km left in the tank :-)

 

 

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1 hour ago, DutchFJ1200 said:

How did you cope with numb bum on the bike?

Yeah, good point. How does anybody cope with a numb bum?
I get it at around 100 miles on the motorway.

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I think I don't have a problem because I ride about 5,000 miles a year on my mountain bike - the "seat" on that is tiny and hard.

Liz and I regularly cycle +50 miles in a day, but we do it at an average speed of around 10mph, so we get lots of "saddle time", and riding the FJ feels like I'm being cosseted by a lovely fluffy cloud LOL.

Seriously though, I've never had a numb backside issue on the FJ - I didn't even have an issue on my Aprilia RSV when doing long distance rides. Maybe I'm just lucky.

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Just read that and loved it, maily to remind me of NI as I did the NW200 once via Stranrar and the other we copped out and flew there, only to be stranded by the volcano erupting.

 

we also stayed in Bushmills, but with a friend. I  cycled the Hadrians wall road west to east and is indeed impressive and particulaly liked Housesteads fort

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On 10/7/2018 at 7:43 PM, mike1949 said:

Yeah, good point. How does anybody cope with a numb bum?
I get it at around 100 miles on the motorway.

I'm 6ft and the FJ seat is quite low for my height.   It also depends if I'm driving slow in traffic which seems to bring it on sooner but when I'm caning it down the motorway it seems the concentration, adrenaline and different driving position keeps it at bay for longer.

I have asked this before and a sheep skin pad that you can strap on the saddle seems to be a solution.

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Good man FJ !! I'm glad you enjoyed our beautiful island . Try catch one of the roadrace meets next time . You'll love the family atmosphere , not to mention the exhilarating races . Ccheck this -

 This event is held near where you were . 

The rain is all part of the fun , lol !  I like this vid too , -

 

You guys should get over to see it if you haven't already . It's just a ferry ride away .

These boys are true heroes of motorcycling !

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On 10/11/2018 at 10:53 AM, DutchFJ1200 said:

I'm 6ft and the FJ seat is quite low for my height.   It also depends if I'm driving slow in traffic which seems to bring it on sooner but when I'm caning it down the motorway it seems the concentration, adrenaline and different driving position keeps it at bay for longer.

I have asked this before and a sheep skin pad that you can strap on the saddle seems to be a solution.

Actually, that's a good point there Dutchy.
We'll talk about a hundred mile trip on the motorway. When I leave Chippenham which is only about three miles to the M4 Eastbound to London, by the time I have travelled about 90 miles on the M4 I get the "numb bum". Once off the motorway it seems to be Ok........

BUT..(no pun intended)


On the return journey after biking about ten miles to get back on the M4 Westbound I never suffer from the proverbial "numb bum"  could it be psychological? as I am heading home?
BTW, am interested in looking into the sheep skin pad theory.  

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I know this might be treated with the utmost disdain ?, but why not try wearing a pair of padded cycling shorts instead of normal underpants.

We always wear our (Lycra style, not baggies) cycling shorts, under our bike gear, when out on the off-road bikes. Single cylinder bikes with thin, narrow seats, can be a literal pain-in-the-arse, but wearing a pair of my cycling shorts, with the gel pad, from Aldi, made off-roading a whole lot more comfortable - might help with the numb-bum problem and it's a pretty cheap solution to check out (Decathlon have reasonably priced ones as well).

Edited by Oldfjman

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Mamil or MAMIL (an acronym standing for "middle-aged man in lycra")  ...............  oh the horror :moon:

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6 hours ago, DutchFJ1200 said:

Mamil or MAMIL (an acronym standing for "middle-aged man in lycra")  ...............  oh the horror :moon:

It's a bloody good job I'm not middle aged then.......Omil (old men in Lycra) doesn't have the same ring to it ?

Edited by Oldfjman

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