ZRX MoT Test 2024

Another year has passed and the ZRX’s MoT expired whilst we were in Berlin, so I made arrangements when we got back to get its MoT done.

Last year, it had been given an advisory for the Akrapovic full system fitted, so to be safe, I decided to fit the baffle before taking it in. Ah…

It’s held in place by a small bolt which was proving fiddly to fit, so I took the baffle back out to try to screw the bolt in and remove it a couple of times to remove any soot build-up …and instantly dropped the bolt which then rolled all the way down into the headers.  This meant taking the system apart, which is more time consuming rather than difficult as other than the bolt on the silencer strap to the rear shock, the rest of the system is held together by springs and I’ve had the spring hook for years now.  Once dismantled, Alison’s slimmer fingers were enlisted to reach in to grab the errant bolt.

Refitting the Akrapovic with the baffle was a doddle and so off we went, only to find we narrowly avoided a crash with a car pulling out … because they didn’t hear us (or see us).

A quick cuppa at a nearby McDonalds – Alison’s coffee was crap as expected – and back we hopped to find Blue Rex waiting with a full pass with no advisories.

Back home and the baffle was whipped back out again in a trice for safety’s sake.

Mileage this year is up to 19,918 miles from 19,621 last year: a massive 297 miles from the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and a couple of trips down to Bahnstormer Alton.

June 2024 Stats

June 2024 was interesting with a week’s holiday and a continuation of FulGaz’s challenge over the course of the year, the FulGaz Ironman Sprint Series which I had started a couple of months ago.

The holiday was our first long distance trip on the BMW R 1250 RT taking it back to its birthplace at the Berlin factory (and a couple of nights binging at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski.  Sadly the main gym was being refurbished so the temporary one was less than brilliant; all a matter of timing.

Then home to celebrate Fathers’ Day … and two weeks of diarrhoea (and counting) thanks to some food poisoning ? the Ball & Wicket (hence the full week gap whilst I was unable to do anything much at all).

Anyway, here are June’s stats:

June 2024 Stats

June 2024 Stats

Activities: 25 Distance: 301.38 km Time: 16:33:55 Calories:  12,432

Turning to my weight, at the end of May I weighed 83.4kg and at the end of June I weighed 81.9kg, which is down 1.5kg.  During That Week, I managed to lose 3.1kg and spent a lot of time on the toilet…

Order, Order!

I finally went and did it: we wanted a second car that would be more practical than my Abarth 124 Spider, so we’d started looking at cars to do semi-regular trips down to the South-West, usually with a bit of luggage, birthday cakes and loads of presents for the grandkids (of which there are many, too many!).

Having seen a nice Kia Ceed GT-Line secondhand at a car dealer around the corner, we realised that they weren’t much more new and then we thought about the Proceed shooting brake version, etc.

Given I’d be driving it when we were both heading down, I wanted a bit more pep so we looked at some other options, including a Skoda Octavia VRS – we didn’t try one – and an Audi S3.  The latter we test drove and loved it, although I wasn’t a fan of the Sportback’s looks, but we did like the saloon version.  Despite the S3 having just been ‘facelifted’ the price was quite steep which put us off a bit, getting us to consider secondhand models which were still north of £40,000.

We then had an offer of a run-out Cupra Leon Estate which was very nice and a great price but it was only available in certain colours and we couldn’t do the deal in time thanks to delays by HMRC repaying me for overpaid tax as well as my bonus from work being late.

In the back of my mind, I’d thought about the Ford Focus ST and getting one in the Estate bodystyle, so I popped a thing into CarWow and asked for some quotes and SMC Slough came back with a decent offer on one.

Somewhat bizarrely, Ford’s colour options are a flat red as standard, “Frozen White” as a £300 option, even though it’s still just a flat colour, and everything else as an £800 option.  The metallic red favoured by Mrs RHM was actually disappointing in the flesh, and then of course there’s that £40,000 excess VED issue

Vehicles with a list price of more than £40,000

You have to pay an extra £410 a year if you have a car or motorhome with a ‘list price’ of more than £40,000. You do not have to pay this if you have a zero emission vehicle.

The list price is the published price of the vehicle before it’s registered for the first time. It’s the price before any discounts are applied.

You only have to pay this rate for 5 years (from the second time the vehicle is taxed).”

What this doesn’t say, is that the “list price” includes all the options, so in our case, the ‘basic’ list price is £39,105 and so any packs you add, or any colour you specify takes you perilously close to (or more likely, over) that £40,000 threshold.   If you go over £40,000 then you pay (at the moment) an additional £410 in car tax each year for five years from the second year onwards.  So going over by £100 means you pay an additional £2,050 for nothing, if you keep your car for 6 years of more, which we will.

At the weekend, we thought we’d see if we could take a look at an ST and preferably an Estate so we rang our nearest dealer, Group 1 at Farnborough, and spoke to Leon.  Yes, they had an ST-Line Estate in the showroom – not the ST – and yes, they had an ST hatch out back, so yes, we could pop in and have a look at the Estate to get an idea of luggage space, and yes, we could poke around the ST hatch to see what the seats and infotainment, etc. were like.

So we popped in, looked around and then thought we should just do it, so we haggled on price, spec’d it up to less than £40,000 – Frozen White and Parking Pack – and paid a deposit.  ETA 2 September 2024.

Back to the RT’s Birthplace – BMW Motorradwerk Berlin

The first major overseas trip planned for the RT was to its birthplace: the BMW Motorradwerk in Berlin.

I knew this was going to be a pretty boring trip as my past experience of Northern France has always been that it’s the area you have to ride or drive through to get to the interesting bits, which is why this July’s trip starts with a ferry down to Spain…

Anyway, I checked the Michelin maps I’ve got for that trip and saw that I could actually have some ‘scenic’ stuff in Belgium on the way (given that I’d planned a two stop strategy on the way to Berlin, two nights in Berlin itself, and then one stop on the way back in the Netherlands.

So at around 6am on Sunday 9th June it was off to LeShuttle at Folkestone for our fixed time trip out.  On the way there, the truly irritating BMW Connected app had frozen on the A3 but fortunately I knew I was using the M25 and turned off in time, rather than continuing as the app was pretending to tell me.  As we arrived to check in, I realised that I’d left my wallet at home so I’d have to try to pay for everything with Apple Pay on my Apple Watch or iPhone 15 Pro…

It froze a couple of times in France and Belgium which meant we had to go a slightly different route towards Liege than I’d planned, and threw my trust in the app off even more.  I can see why some other owners have given up and ditched it altogether in favour of a mounted Garmin one (which also has the added bonus of showing “safety” cameras).  Why BMW don’t let us use Apple CarPlay is beyond me.

Still, at least I got a bit of footage in Dinant in Belgium, which was indeed scenic:

We stopped along the way in a lovely little town called Florennes for a salad for lunch.

RT parked up in Florennes

We got to the Mercure at Liege and checked in, asking if we could book a table in the restaurant. “No,” they said, “it’s not open on Sundays”. Well that’s not what it says on their website! We decided to get a drink in the bar anyway, but again, we were told that’s also closed on Sundays. We weren’t best pleased…  We did, however, find a little Italian restaurant nearby where we could eat.

The next day was a bit of a wet one as we headed towards Hameln (or “Hamelin” where the Pied Piper hung out. I’d booked us into the Hotel Stadt Hameln and frankly didn’t expect much, but the room was large and comfortable and the restaurant was absolutely outstanding. We also wandered into the old town to see if we could get some cash out on Alison’s Supplemental American Express Platinum Card, but sadly that service isn’t offered any longer.  This meant we had no cash for tipping.

The Klim Latitude and Altitude clothing, our Alpinestars short boots and our gloves had all  performed brilliantly keeping us dry as a bone, and with the heated seats, grips and waistcoats we’d been warm as well.

We then headed on to Berlin and two nights at the outstanding Hotel Adlon Kempinski at the Brandenburg Gate. I could definitely get used to champagne and caviar for breakfast every day!  At least we could use their temporary gym – the normal one is being renovated – to burn some of the calories off.

We also visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; very poignant.

On the Wednesday after brunch we went off to BMW Motorradwerk for an extended factory tour in English … except the English-speaking guide couldn’t do it, so the German one press-ganged a Polish(?) tourist into translating for him, which sort of worked but was a tad unsatisfactory.

Thursday morning after a workout and brunch we headed off to Eindhoven, seeing 207km/h or 129mph on the autobahns. Well that was irritating! One minute, you’re on an unrestricted stretch of dual carriageway in Germany and the next moment it’s the same road in the Netherlands with a 100km/h speed limit! The next morning was the same when we left the Netherlands and hit Belgium: the same road but now with a 120km/h speed limit.

The Park Plaza in Eindhoven was again comfortable after a really long ride but it featured the slowest lift in the world ever!

After breakfast we packed and headed back to Calais and then on to home. We’d booked flexiplus on LeShuttle so after ordeal by UK Border Agency as usual – including the jobsworth insisting we took off our crash helmets for no reason at all – we had lunch in the lounge before getting on the next train back to the UK and home by mid-afternoon on Friday: four countries in one day!

So yes: 1,418 miles with a maximum speed of 129mph and still averaging 47.8mpg for the trip.

At the last minute I’d added a Kriega US-40 Rackpack for our shoes and heated vests to go in, fixed to the frame and rack and sitting on the top of the top case (plus we had the top case and pannier liner bags to use).

May 2024 Stats

So, May 2024 was a continuation of FulGaz’s challenge over the course of the year, the FulGaz Ironman Sprint Series which I had started last month.

There was also a quick work trip to Madrid working long days, but with the chance of hitting our boutique hotel’s gym … which was utterly shite with only a prehistoric treadmill to use.  This had the potentially lethal feature of speeding up and slowing down randomly, coupled with a worn surface which made it like running on ice … and then there was the abrupt emergency full stop shortly after I’d started going full tilt. Nice…

So, here are May’s stats:

May 2024 Stats

May 2024 Stats

Activities: 33 Distance: 425.73 km Time: 19:32:24 Calories:  17,398

Turning to my weight, at the end of April I weighed 85.0kg and at the end of May I weighed 83.4kg, which is down 1.6kg.  Today, I’m down again to 83.2kg.

Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride 2024 – Guildford Surrey Hills

Well despite the dodgy weather forecast in the lead-up to the event, Sunday dawned bright and a bit crisp so we dressed up in our dapper finery and jumped on Blue Rex to ride into Guildford.

We weren’t sure who’d be there but as it turned out Charley Boorman was there on his Bike Shed-branded Triumph Thruxton RS which looked just great in that burnt orange.

Alison was doing videographer duties up back and we’ve got a couple of hours’ footage on one of the GoPros …and here’s a teaser:

I suppose being Surrey might explain the three Vincents/HRDs there plus a number of other lovely machines including a couple of army-specced bikes and a similar RAF liveried one (with two equally vintage riders that I saw).

We stopped at Loseley House to regroup and then continued the ride, ending up at the Hog’s Back Brewery where we stopped for Aperol Spritzes and a pulled-pork bap:

Yours Truly

Yours Truly


Alison enjoying the sun

After a relatively brief stop, we headed home.  Once parked up, didn’t Blue Rex look great?

Blue Rex after DGR2024

Blue Rex after DGR2024

Getting Ready for DGR 2024

We’re doing the 2024 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride again this year and again we’re joining the Guildford – Surrey Hills ride which last year had over 550 bikes attending.

If you want to donate, you can here:


Distinguished Gentleman's Ride 2024

Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride 2024: Please Sponsor Me!

A friend mentioned some YouTube clips he’d watched and we’re on a few:

At 58 seconds in.

At around 6 minutes in.

And more here at 4 minutes in:

So today it’s a few final checks and a refuel before tomorrow’s ride. I have done some damage to one of my glutes and hamstring, so sitting is painful. What could go wrong? ????

April 2024 Stats

April 2024 was a continuation of March’s heavy workload, but there was also my birthday as well as a new challenge over the course of the year, the FulGaz Ironman Sprint Series which I signed up to. Looking at the stats, I did work out longer and harder, which is a good thing.

So, here are April’s stats:

April 2024 Stats

April 2024 Stats

Activities: 31 Distance: 505.79 km Time: 22:02:43 Calories:  20,205

Turning to my weight, at the end of March I was 84.3kg (the same as this morning, 1 May), and at the end of April I weighed 85.0kg, so up 0.7kg.  I’m not too concerned, given today I’m back at 84.3kg and my weight has been up and down like a whore’s drawers!

You can also see a new feature in the stats which is that a blood pressure reading has been taken. This is because our blood pressure monitors have only allowed to take manual readings which we can then manually add to Apple Health, but there’s no way to automatically import them into Connect. And then I got a promotional email from Garmin about their Index BPM Smart Blood Pressure Monitor and it was a no-brainer to get it ordered.

Bye-Bye Gilles Rearsets

Well it had to happen eventually!

Way back in the mists of time, I used to organise and instruct on trackdays for the Motorcycle Folly.

Initially, I just had the ZRX, so I’d use that but to make it less unsuitable, I fitted a set of Gilles rearsets to push my feet backwards and upwards (with a consequential increase in the extent to which my knees would have to bend):

Blue Rex side-on

Blue Rex side-on

Note also that in that photo there are no grabrails or pillion pegs fitted.  That was fine when I was doing almost 100% solo riding, but since remarrying someone who loves being on the bikes with me, I’ve refitted the pegs and grabrail.  That always led to some clash of feet, no matter how much we tried to be careful.

Fast-forward to buying the BMW R 1250 RT LE and getting off that and on to the ZRX and it’s a case of “have my footpads fallen off?”  So couple those two issues with the degree of necrosis in my knee and with a heavy heart, the Gilles rearsets were removed last weekend and the standard footpads refitted.

End of an era.