'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,

Fins ain’t what they used to be

Why air-cooled bikes are having a water-cooler moment

In the news of their 2014 Touring range upgrades, Harley-Davidson smuggled a phrase rarely associated with the Milwaukee ironmongers (VRods aside): liquid-cooling. Before purists protest, Harley limit the ‘Twin-Cooled’ engines to four top-end models: the Ultra Limited, Electra Glide, Ultra Classic and Tri Glide trike. Which isn’t even a bike. But then it’s not really liquid-cooling either.

It’s fair to say the 45° V-twin has never enjoyed a reputation for cutting-edge tech; Harley are reputed to employ more designers than engineers.

But it’s also unfair to say. Designing a Harley engine might not be as challenging as building a 250bhp MotoGP engine that does 26 laps on 21 litres of fuel. But making an air-cooled motor sound and feel true to the Harley archetype yet meet stringent noise and emissions regulations is a challenge nonetheless.

My BikeSafe adventure

'ello 'ello 'ello'ello 'ello 'elloIt’s Friday night and my nerves are starting to show. I find it hard to eat my dinner. Tomorrow I’ll be off doing my first solo ride, further than my local Tesco shop! Not entirely true as I have had the Monster for a week and I have gone off by myself enjoying the Cotswolds. But tomorrow is different. I am riding down the motorway to taking a BikeSafe course in Leicestershire. I am excellent at envisaging beforehand all the things that could possibly go wrong. Forgetting to put fuel in the bike, making silly riding mistakes or not keeping up with the rest of the group. Well, I left nice and early, with a rucksack full of things girlies need and a big heavy Canon camera. The weather was gorgeous; sunny blue sky and a promise of some heavy baking in my leathers for the afternoon. I love Saturday early morning riding. Not a soul on the motorway, so I can do what I like. Cruise down the road at 50 to get used to motorway riding, which I have not done since riding to Silverstone last year? I pick up speed and notice 60 is the same as 50, only a bit faster (obviously). Looking in the mirror is funny, as everything behind you shakes up and down. 70 feels fine too and I let the road take me to Leicester.

My Ducati Monster 696.....for a week

Picking up my Monster from Ducati UK HQPicking up my Monster from Ducati UK HQI had a dream…. Hard to put on paper what it was, but it was very clear to me. I was riding a bike, and I felt comfortable. On waking I still felt at ease. At nine o’clock I would be picked up by Jonathan on his Honda. The sun was shining but the weather has been so changeable over the last few days it was a false security. I found it hard to decide to go for warmth and being dry or using my leathers. I am tough and mean, I thought, I can handle a bit of discomfort. After a delicious large coffee we set off and rode down the M40. The weather changed then and it became overcast and I was wondering of the rest of the day I would suffer for being silly and not going for wet weather clothing. It grew colder and the rain came down. I was perched high up, and there was no getting away from the wind and rain. It had been a long time being pillion and all the feelings of the past came flooding back. I closed my eyes and remembered.

Reading between the centrelines

Why the désaxé layout has become the latest fashion in engine design

Question: what has Yamaha’s new MT-09 inline triple got in common with their 2010 YZF450F motocross single, Honda’s MSX125 monkey bike and CBR250R, Kawasaki’s ZX-10R, Triumph’s Tiger 800, 1200 Explorer and Trophy, the Horex VR6, a 1979 Hesketh V-twin, a 1932 Ford V8 and an eighteenth century steam engine?
Answer: they all use the désaxé principle, in which the vertical centreline of the crankshaft is offset to the centreline of the pistons (désaxé is French for off-centre).
To picture it, imagine a side-on engine cut in half. Draw a line from the centre of the crankshaft up through the cylinders. On most bike engines with the piston at top dead centre, the line intersects the con rod and through the middle of the piston.
In a désaxé engine the crankshaft is set back a few mm (or cylinders forwards) so the line from the crankshaft no longer passes through the centre of the piston but to the rear of it.

Extra sensory perception: how our bikes know more than we do

Modern bikes are smarter than ever. But they can’t see into the future. Yet.
BMW’s HP4 is a clever bike. An array of more than 30 sensors stream info to its ECU, making our five (or six?) human channels of data acquisition seem inadequate. But we don’t have to reign in 190bhp… which is why bikes have brains too.
The BMW, along with Ducati’s Multistrada and Panigale, and Aprilia’s Caponord and RSV4 R APRC, is at the current summit of bike IQ. But most modern bikes have some of the following going on the moment you turn the key:
Electromagnetic pulses count spokes in ABS rings around both wheel hubs, measuring speeds and looking for differences. The ECU uses the info to activate its ABS system, and also feeds the data into a map of engine management, and traction and anti-wheelie control. It also delivers road speed to the clocks.

Counting down the days

I am getting closer and closer to my goal. I have all the ingredients but one, for having some fun time.
The Yamaha TT250R is parked snugly in the garage, eager to get out and to sample some local Warwickshire roads. It should not complain too much, as I did take it out last Friday. That day, my friend, Jonathan, who is very kindly lending me the bike, came round on his very noisy Honda. Both bikes needed an MOT.

My early motorcycling days

Caroline learning to ride in Palace RoadCaroline learning to ride in Palace RoadSometimes life makes you do things outside your comfort zone. This has happened to me soon after I met Kevin. It was after a particularly frightening encounter on the underground travelling back to Kevin’s place late at night. That evening I made a decision to learn to ride a motorbike, just as Kevin had to tried to encourage me to do. On a bike, he pointed out, I could go anywhere, whenever I wanted and be in full control of my life.

Now, years later, I am so grateful Kevin gave me that skill.

Seven years later, I passed my driving licence; again after Kevin convinced me it would be better to be able to drive the car. By this stage we had two daughters who loved sitting in buggies and being pushed around instead of walking. I accepted that living in England without a driving licence is the same as not having a bicycle in Holland. They just go hand in hand.

Early Christmas - February 2014

Today is Ingrid's birthday. She is now twelve years old, my little daughter, she is growing up. She was not the only person receiving presents today.

After the school run I get home to do some work. I am interupted by the postman ringing the front door bell. He comes to deliver a large box. I am very familiar with large boxes arriving at our house. Kevin used to have this happen lots to him. This box has arrived for me! I can hug the postman, I am so excited. I restrain myself, close the front door and drag the box into the kitchen and open it up.

In the box are the most gorgeous Enduro clothes, all the way from Italy. Jacket and pants in black and white. I try then on and they fit well. The sleeves are on the tight side, but if I slow down on the weight lifting and arm wresles, it should be fine.

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