'Our Story', by volunteers at the Shakespeare Hospice

'Our Story' is a short film produced by the Shakespeare Hospice and their volunteers with the aim to raise awareness on childhood and teenage bereavement. It has recently been entered into the Charity Film Awards, and it would be much appreciated if you could take a minute out of your day to vote for 'Our Story' and spread the word.

Click here for the link to 'Our Story'

Thank you,

Ingrid Ash

[Ingrid is Kevin's youngest daughter. Kevin Ash was killed in a motorcycle accident whilst testing in South Africa over five year's ago, in January 2013. The Shakespeare Hospice, in Stratford Upon Avon where the family live, has provided support to her and the rest of the family. Ingrid has volunteered to work there to help others who have also been bereaved. They have made the film shown here to help raise awareness of the issues of bereavement in children of school age, and it has been nominated for an award.]

Kevin Ash Fund eBay listings

Please come and look at the items I am selling on eBay to help fund the girls' continuing education.

Motorcycle clothing mainly, and some bike bits, including panniers.

Please, please, please follow me (tooweeler) and watch the items and buy some, or at least make an offer. It all helps to make more space in the garage and clear stuff I really don't need.

Kevin Ash Fund eBay listings

Thank you very much,

Tough Torque

KTM’s 1290: why they call it PR ‘spin’

KTM test rider and ex-500cc GP racer Jeremy McWilliams says the new 1290 Super Duke is the torquiest bike he’s ridden. KTM claim it makes more at 2000rpm than the 990 Super Duke at peak (70 lb.ft). That’s a lot of big torque talk.

Torque is often wrongly thought of as a measure of engine performance at low rpm. Big V-twins have ‘lots of low-down torque’, and inline four sportsbikes ‘lots of top-end power’, as if the two are discrete and opposite. They are different, but not opposites...

Compounding: The Problem

Ever wondered why your rear tyre wears down in the middle but not at the sides? It’s safer that way...

At first glance there’s nothing in common between touring on a Triumph Tiger 800 XC and a 250bhp MotoGP prototype. But there is.

I recently had a 3000-mile ride on a Tiger. Its Bridgestone Battlewings were 4000 miles-old at the start and, as you’d expect, the rear squared-off as the ride went on. 7000 miles isn’t a bad total, and the bike maintained its steering and stability. But eventually it shimmied a bit over white-lines as it rolled across its squared-off centre. And with plenty of tread left on the edges, it seemed a waste of rubber to chuck it away.

So why don’t manufacturers make rear tyres harder in the middle where they wear the most?...

Fuelling about with maps

Selecting a power mode on your bike? The future’s already been mapped out. Literally.

Fitting a litre sportsbike with a castrating low power engine mode sounds like a bad idea, even if you call it ‘Rain’ mode. And few electronic aids are as contentious because engine modes are, technically, voluntary restrictions. Each is, broadly speaking, an overlay of instructions directing the ECU to manipulate and reduce engine performance.

But what actually happens when you push that button...?

Moto Guzzi V7 Stone Review

Moto Guzzi V7 1

If ever a company has been through rough times, then surely Moto Guzzi has to be a contender for the role of ultimate survivor. In spite of so many obstacles over the years it is still churning out bikes and is today’s oldest brand of European motorcycle manufacturer with continuous production. A legacy of bad management, circumstance and I have no doubt also bad luck, has seen it diminish in size from its heyday down to a true minority player. In 2004 it was taken over...

Playing the frame game

Frames have got uglier and cheaper, but they’re straighter than ever. Suspension, on the other hand...

Last week’s Techwatch talked about how current production engines have close tolerances and matched components, and how automated mass-production reduces variability. If a modern engine makes 100bhp today, in 12 months’ time it’s likely the same model will also make 100bhp (although early BMW S1000RRs were an exception – bikes varied by up to 15bhp, and no-one knows why....

Putting up with intolerance

Sometimes the worse something fits, the better it works...

It’s long been a biking myth that in Japanese engine assembly plants, female workers are preferred to males for some jobs on the production line because they have smaller hands and greater dexterity. Having spent time at Suzuki’s vast Takatsuka Engine Plant in Hamamatsu, I can safely put that one to rest; it’s not true. They have plenty of both on the production lines.

But while I was there I saw something else intriguing:...

Swingarms and (bumpy) roundabouts

Ducati’s Panigale 1199 has a single-sided swingarm. The new 899 has a double sided swingarm. Now that’s a good idea...

It’s intuitive to grip a wheel at the end of each axle to give yourself maximum control of stability and alignment (or, if we’re talking about front wheels, steering). It’s certainly easier – it’s more effort to play wheelbarrows if you only using one arm to hold the barrow wheel. But it also looks cool if you wave with your free hand.

And so it is with swingarms:...

Variable Rates Of Interest

Variable valve timing: meet the engine technology that just won’t go away

In the list of pointless engine gimmicks, you’d surely put variable valve timing at number one. Only three production bikes have automatic VVT: Honda’s VFR800 VTEC (crude, two-stage system), Kawasaki’s 1400GTR (more sophisticated but barely noticeable) and, between 1991 and 1998, Suzuki’s Japan-only R-version 250 and 400 Bandits (crude and unnoticeable). And all of them gimmicks.

So what is VVT, and why do we keep hearing about it?...

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