Archive for the ‘Bikes’ Category

Fix for “Vehicle details could not be found” on the DVLA vehicle lookup. Maybe…

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

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Another random ‘how to’. I was recently trying to check what date my Ducati needed its road tax and MOT. I went to the DVLA Vehicle Check site at https://www.vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk/, entered my reg and make (it auto completed “Ducati”) but received the following:

Vehicle details could not be found

Vehicle details could not be found as it has not been possible to locate the vehicle details, your enquiry cannot proceed and has been cancelled. If you want to check the vehicle record held by DVLA…

Tried another vehicle I own and it worked fine. It just didn’t like the Ducati for some reason. Decided to try a few other sites that seemed to refer to the same database. The MIB at least managed to tell me it was insured. It was a start.

Then I went to MyCarCheck.com at https://www.mycarcheck.com . It’s a paid service but the first step is free and just verifies they can locate the vehicle. On entering my reg number, it returned:

mycarcheck

We have information on our database regarding [REG NUM], a Ducati 748bip-98 (Motorcycle). Check before you buy. Choose a check to proceed.

The interesting bit was “a Ducati 748bip-98 (Motorcycle)”. It seems the DVLA have mashed up the make and the model in their ‘make’ field in their database. Where others just ride a Ducati, I seem to ride a Ducati 748bip-98. Snappy!

Back over the the DVLA site, I entered my reg and “Ducati 748bip-98” in to the make box and it worked!

If this is happening to you, you may want to give it a try.

Yep, a bamboo bike…

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

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Spotted this beauty in London’s swanky West End last night. It’s a bike made from bamboo. Sweet!

I’d seen them on the TV a few months back being made in Ghana. It was Boomers International in Ghana (http://www.booomers.com). Their ultimate goal is to provide the poor in rural Ghana the means to gain economic freedom. Definitely worth a look!

Want to have a go yourself? Fear not, you can make your own bike right here in Blighty. Check out the Bamboo Bicycle Club (http://bamboobicycleclub.org) and book yourself into a workshop.

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Or buy a kit off the internet from Bamboo Bee for £120: http://bamboobee.net/product/biy-bamboo-bike-frame-kit/

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Don’t fancy making one yourself? There seem to be plenty of pre-made options.

Calfee Bamboo: http://calfeedesign.com/products/bamboo/

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Boo Bicycles: http://boobicycles.com/

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Mekong: https://mekong-plus.com/bamboo-bikes/bikes.html

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Bamboo Bee: http://bamboobee.net/product-category/bicycles/

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BME Design: http://www.bmedesign.eu/b8-series-frames

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ZamBikes: http://www.zambikeszambia.com/products/bamboo-bikes/road-bike/

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Virk: http://www.virkdesigns.co.uk/bamboobikes/

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The making of The Jenson Button ATM

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Santander is one of our biggest clients at WCRS and they call on us for everything from TV ads to posters… and at Christmas time, their Secret Santa(nder) event. Here’s how it works, each year Santander reward their customers by giving something back. This year, WCRS’s Howard de Smet came up with a cracker of an idea… the Jenson Button. Quite literally, Jenson Button, in an ATM. An unsuspecting Santander customer uses the ATM but is asked to “Press the Jenson Button” to receive their cash. Ah, just watch the video…

Here’s a keep behind the scenes of how we make it happen.

Step 1: The very first sketch of the build in my notepad. Note also the list of things to buy. As it happens, it was pretty accurate from the get-go. I was desperate to build it all in my garage but thought better of it!

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Step2: The ATM build. Hand constructed from MDF at a prop making workshop.

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And from the back. Note the beginnings of a hinged screen holder and release mechanism.

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Step 3: The late night installation. The build started at about 5pm.

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Step 4: The final construction with decals and posters. You wouldn’t suspect a thing.

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Step 5: With touchscreen installed. Note the hole above the screen where the GoPro is housed.

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Step 6: Rigging camera and sound. There were about 8 cameras in total. Some mobile, some in the ceiling and some hidden in places you’d never suspect… like this speaker. The GoPro lens is in the middle of the top speaker cone! We even had one camera in a pram disguised as a baby. No, really.

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Step 7: Setting up the system and the cash. Note the utility panel on the laptop and the small webcam feed. The webcam feed looked down on the fake ‘contactless pad’ so that we knew when someone wanted to start the process. The utility panel allowed me to control what the ATM screen displayed as well as feed back the cash amount the customer typed in so Jenson could use it in his dialogue.

If you’re interested, the control between screens was done in Flash using LocalConnection to send messages between the screens.

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Step 8: Installing the Jenson. I’m a massive F1 fan so this was pretty special for me. I was sat on the other side of that black curtain to the right and handed Jenson the bundles of cash. Yes, I get paid to do this.

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Step 9: The final, most important step… the slightly dorky selfie with the effortlessly cool Jenson just so that I could prove to my kids that I wasn’t making this up.

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GoPro commute Feb 2014

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Feb has been a relatively uneventful month of commuting on the wet and windy streets of London but still managed to catch a few random things along the way. Hope the 2 people on the floor being attended to by ambulances were ok :/

Music this time is a bit of a Garage Band lash-up, but it does the job.

Filmed using a GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition with helmet mount. See it bigger on YouTube

 

Go go GoPro! Jan 2014

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Few random moments captured on camera commuting from East Finchley to Old Street. All taken during 3 weeks in Jan 2014.

For the record… Yes, I stop at ALL red lights… wear a helmet… also ride 2 motorbikes and I drive a car. Yes, that means I do actually pay 3 lots of road tax, so don’t start with that one! Yes the woman crossing on a green light with her baby should know better. The cyclist crossing on a pedestrian crossing is a complete nob. The woman springing out through queueing traffic should have crossed at the lights… the 3 policemen at the lights weren’t impressed with her. And yes, the bus driver did get an earful. I had loads of fun too. What’s not to like!

Filmed using a GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition with helmet mount. See it bigger on YouTube

 

My first Google Adsense cheque… to a good cause.

Friday, August 12th, 2011

A few years back, I posted a video onto YouTube showing the difference between the various exhausts I owned for my Ducati. Fairly basic stuff and only of interest to a few. Surprisingly, it has just passed 211k views and doesn’t really show too many signs of stopping any time soon. It attracted enough interest for Google to start running ads on the YouTube page. I didn’t get much, a few pence a day maybe, but it all ads up.

And now I’m the proud owner of a genuine Google Adsense cheque for £60.62. Well, I was. It’s been paid into the bank and I’ve made a donation of £60.62 to Riders for Health. I figured I didn’t actually earn the money and Riders for Health do such a good job providing motorcycle transport to Africa, they deserve it more than I do.

** UPDATE, I updated the description on the YouTube page to say that the AdSense money had cone to charity… so Google shut down my account. Weird. Turns out that telling people that the ad money went to charity is a breach of policy. I kinda get it, as it may make some people click the ads for the wrong reason. But still, bit harsh maybe. I’ve appealed against it and removed the description, but Google refuse to reinstate the account. Come on Google…

On a biking note, the SEO is pretty good. Just Googling “Ducati 748” shows my video as the top result for videos. On YouTube, just typing “Ducati” puts me in the top 6 results, just below Valentino Rossi! And if that wasn’t funky enough, I was sat having a cup of tea and a pie at the Ace Cafe, the famous biker cafe in north London, when a guy recognised me from the video. Not exactly Justin Beiber level fame but it’s nice to be noticed once in a while.

And finally, here’s the video one more time…

BMW F650GS rear brake keep seizing? Try this…

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Sticking Brembo master cylinder

Seems all my bikes are being blighted by brake issues. While the Ducati has reassuringly unpredictable electrical problems, the BMW has reassuringly German, old-fashioned mechanical problems.

So the symptoms were pretty simple. The rear brake jams on after a few miles of riding. Just happened out of the blue while commuting to work one day. Being a bit of a MacGyver type, I got my house key out and wiggled the brake pads back a bit. Wasn’t easy, especially as the brake was red hot from the friction. Took 10 minutes but it seemed to work eventually.

The rod that the pads slide along looked rusty so I assumed the winter road salt had done its worst. Same happened on the way home. So back at home, I stripped the brake caliper, regreased with copper grease and reassembled. Same happened the next day so that didn’t work! BTW. The rear caliper isn’t actually bolted to the swingarm. It sits on a free-floating ‘peg’ on the swingarm and is simply held in place by the brake disc running between the pads. So if you’re looking for the bolts to remove the rear caliper, you won’t find any. Just remove the rear wheel and the caliper falls off by itself.

I also adjusted the push-rod that connects to the Brembo master cylinder from the rear brake pedal. Same issue happened. I even took it off, bled all the brake fluid. Disassembled the Brembo cylinder, greased the internals checked the spring blah, blah… no joy. TIP. If you need to bleed the brake fluid and you have the ABS model, you need to rotate the rear wheel to push the fluid through. Took me ages before I realised.

As usual, online forums were full of confusing advice, as they were solving someone else’s problem, not mine. I have the ABS version, so lots of chat about the ABS sensor having issues.

Cutting to the chase, it WAS the Brembo master cylinder, but it needed a new one to solve the problem (or a rebuild kit I guess). It was as simple as the piston not quite returning to the resting position. The image above shows the ‘sticking’ one on the right and you can see the black piston is 5mm or so lower than the new one on the left. Therefore the brake fluid was being ‘pushed’ by the lever, but then being held there. The pads then stuck on, causing friction against the disc, causing heat, making the fluid expand, binding the pads even tighter. Explains why it took me 10 minutes of ‘fiddling’ that first morning before the brake worked again. It was the fluid cooling down and releasing the pads all by itself.

So I ordered a new master cylinder (they’re fitted to loads of bike models). Making sure I had the ‘in-line exit’ version (as the fluid came in from the side and out from the top… in-line with the body) and the slightly bigger piston version (13mm rather than 11mm) for more oomph. It’s part number 10.4776.60 so google “Brembo 10.4776.60” and you should find one. I got one from this page on IntoBikes.co.uk for £43. Putting the old and new one side-by-side, it was immediately obvious the piston (the white ceramic looking thing) wasn’t returning to the starting position against the circlip/washer like the new one did.

Bolted it on, new fluid (making sure to pump it through by rotating the rear wheel). Problem solved! Been riding it for 2 months, no sign of any problem.

There was some chat online about needing a special tool to bleed the ABS internals as air bubbles would cause it to malfunction, but I didn’t have any problems. Tried it out a few times and works fine.

So, as usual, bodged my way to another fix. Hope that helps if you were having similar problems!

Ducati 748 brake light stuck on? Try this…

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Just thought I’d share the latest fix for another classic Ducati intermittent fault.

I’d been having a few electrical problems, but tracked it down to a dodgy loom connector. Lots of stuff was going mental, lights were coming on, rev needles were moving by themselves. Replaced the loom. Sorted.

But some extra problems are still hanging about and I’m never sure if the loom may still have a dodgy connector. One problem was that my rear brake light would stay on. But not always. Grrrr! Mostly when I started her up, the light would be permanently on (like I had the brake pressed). I’d go for a ride and when I got back, the brake light was working normally. Maybe 40% repeatable.

Looked online and lots of chat about microswitches needing replacing, losing a dowel rod and foot brake sensors needing replacing. I wiggled everything in a half-arsed attempt to track it down. No joy. I disconnected the rear brake sensor (there’s a really obvious connector just above the clutch cover). The light stayed on. Must mean it’s the front brake somehow.

I turned my attention to the tiny microswitch behind the front brake lever. It had no obvious connector so I assumed it plugged into the headstock loom, which needs the front of the bike disassembling to reach. Not fun. I squirted it with WD40. Pressed it loads. No change.

I decided to unscrew the microswitch to check it. There are two tiny flathead screws and even more fiddly bolts at the back. Make sure you dont lose them! After removing it (brake lights were still on), I pressed the microswitch… brake lights went off. Eureka! Turns out the microswitch had moved maybe 1/10th of a mm back and now didn’t work. The switch’s natural state is on. You have to press it up against a little push-rod that connects to the lever to activate it… and switch the lights off. Confusing I know. When you pull the brake lever, it push-rod falls away (as there’s no brake lever pushing against it) and it deactivated the switch… which goes to it’s normal ‘brake light on’ state again. Makes sense I guess.

Anyhoo, long and rambling way of saying I simply reseated my microswitch a hair’s width closer to the push-rod / lever and it was enough to press the microswitch (turning the brake light off). Don’t move it too far in though, as it will require the brake lever to be pulled in a fair way before the rod has moved back far enough to deactivate the switch (turning the light on).

May not sort your problem out, but it’s definitely something to check.

Tron Legacy – Recumbent edition

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I love bikes, but let’s be frank, cyclists commuting through London on recumbents are really embarrassing. Like those people who do offroad riding on unicycles. You know who you are. Stop it.

Anyway, if you ride a Tron Legacy bike backwards, I think you could get away with it…

For Sale: Harris Matchless G80

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

UPDATE: This bike has been SOLD. Enjoy the pic though! :)

Ok, so it’s been through the Ebay mill and thankfully it emerged without too much fuss. Definitely not the place to sell a bike like this! So now it’s back in the real world, I still don’t really know what this is worth, so make me an offer if you’re interested. Just get in touch using the message form at the bottom of this page.


For sale is a rare Harris Matchless G80 with electric starter and dual disc brakes at the front. These were the ‘special’ versions and very few were made and is considered a collectors item. A recent (boxed) machine without the electric start and duel discs recently went for €7900!

This example is in really nice condition. No rust. All chrome is in excellent condition except for a little pitting on the rear of the headlamp. Fresh MOT and 10 month’s tax. It’s ready to ride, it’s great fun and it’s sure to bring a smile to your face.

About the Harris Matchless G80: Matchless is one of the oldest marques of British motorcycles with the first models manufactured in 1901. The Harris Matchless G80 comes from the stables of the late Les Harris, a hugely respected British bike maker, known for resurrecting the Triumph Bonneville as well as the Matchless motorcycles in the 1980’s. He is often referred to as the “saviour of the British motorcycle industry”. The Matchless G80 has a long history stretching back to 1949 and Les bought the rights in 1988. The resulting Harris Matchless G80 is what you see on this listing. Most were kick-start only but some (as this one does) had twin disc brakes up front and an electric start. They were based on hand-build frames and a single cylinder 494cc Rotax air-cooled engine.

The specs:

  • 1988 Harris Matchless G80
  • First year of registration, 1988 (F plate)
  • 500cc single cylinder 4-stroke
  • Single overhead cam engine
  • Black with gold detail
  • 5 speed manual
  • Chain driven
  • Electric Start
  • Dual disc brake front, drum rear
  • Power 33Bhp
  • Mileage 6500
  • Taxed, Mot, V5 present

The bike basics:

  • Here is a video of it starting – STARTING THE MATCHLESS
  • Everything works
  • It has 10 months tax and a new MOT (until July 2011)
  • The engine is a 4 stroke, air cooled, single overhead cam with light alloy crankcases, cylinder barrel and head.
  • It has the electric starter (a real godsend!)
  • It also has a kick-start for the brave and patient
  • Performance wise, it’s really quite nippy. With your elbows in and a fair wind I suspect it’ll get up to 80-90mph.
  • It’s black with gold trim
  • All ‘bright work’ is in fantastic condition and polished
  • Rims are original and un-tarnished
  • Mudguards are also original, un-tarnished and have no slits or cracks
  • The exhaust is original and makes a great noise
  • Tyres are in great condition
  • Seat is also in excellent condition, no rips and trim is all present. Matchless logo on back is a little faded though, but to be expected.
  • It takes proper leaded petrol (via Dellorto 36mm carb) so ideally needs a cap full of fuel additive in each tank of unleaded (available at all petrol stations)
  • The toolkit is present and the tools are the originals. There’s a spare spark plug thrown in too.
  • It’s very light and easy to move around, especially if you find modern bike a bit of a handful.
  • It’s recently had a new crank case gasket and full oil change, so no oily drips on the floor.
  • It’s very light (150kg) and easy to move around, especially if you find modern bike a bit of a handful.
  • It was built when bikes were bikes… it’s simple to work on and a great introduction to classics without all the oil and bother.
  • It’s always been garaged and is only used on dry days.
  • I do have the original owner’s manual (supplied) but it has seen better days after getting damp. I do have all manuals on a CD-ROM.
  • I also have some basic leather throw-over panniers which I will include in the auction.

So why am I selling it?
I rode it precisely 161 miles last year and think it’s time for someone else to love it.

What needs a bit of TLC?

  • The rev counter tends to get a bit over-excited past 4000 revs. Not really investigated it but may provide a sunny Sunday’s tinkering.
  • The rear shocks could do with a service/refresh at some point.
  • Could do with a little fetteling or carb tweak maybe as it’s not been ridden much.

Payment and important stuff …

  • If you have any questions, please contact me by leaving a messaging (I will keep these private) or on O777O 918913.
  • Cash on collection
  • Bike will not leave my garage until all money is cleared.
  • Strictly no canvassers
  • Buyer collects unless by express agreement otherwise

And here are more photos …