Rider: John Milbank Bike: 2014 Kawasaki Z1000SX
Miles this month: 347 Miles in total: 2523
Current fuel economy: 47.9mpg Cost when new: £9699 +£461.95 for panniers or £215.95 for a top box
Highlights this month: Enjoying a free night out
Lowlights this month: Not having enough time
Why does anybody drive a car in London? Queue-busting, free parking, and no congestion charge… what’s the downside?
A trip to the coast with my wife last month had to be cancelled when I tore a muscle in my shoulder whilst riding off-road. Trying to find a time when we’re both free, and we can get a babysitter for our little girl means that we have to grab any opportunity we can. Fortunately, Helen’s cousin is a seamstress in the West End, and gave us a pair of tickets to see ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ at the Harold Pinter theatre (ignore what The Telegraph says – it’s great fun for people like us who aren’t usually theatre-goers). “Let’s take the bike” said Helen as we were digging through the over-priced train timetable, and looking for car parks inside the M25. It made sense – the bike’s more economical than the car and a lot more fun.
With just a top-box for secure luggage, it needed a little thought, as a hot day was forecast, and we wanted to spend it walking around the city before the show. With me wearing my Kevlar Draggin Jeans and Furygan trainer-style bike boots, we found we’d be able to cram Helen’s RST boots, jacket, trousers and gloves, as well as my Held leather jacket (all with armour) in the 47 litre case. With my Xena Disc Lock Alarm, a hefty chain and Helen’s casual clothes loaded, we set off for the 90 mile hop.
I’ve been testing a Vertix intercom system, and while some riders prefer the chance of a bit of piece and quiet, Helen and I seem to have so little time when we’re just sat together talking that the clear sound from the Bluetooth kit made it easy for us to chat as we made our way through London. The motorways were mostly silent, as her old Suomy lid is so noisy that over 60mph she struggled to hear me. Maybe it’s time I treated her to a decent helmet, as I know when testing these intercoms with a mate wearing a Shoei, we could hear each other clearly at any speed. She’s always worn cast-off kit that never really fit her, so this year we’ve finally got her some decent clothes. She’s not riding every day, so it wasn’t worth her having anything too expensive, but the RST Raptor gloves, Raptor boots, Brooklyn jacket and Brooklyn pants cost lest than £340. She’s now far more happy on the bike, being comfortable, a lot better protected, and (most important apparently), more stylish looking.
To park on the street in London costs £1 a day, and the bays are crammed solid. I wonder how many of the owners can get their bikes out during the day, as each machine is shoved tightly against the next. However, there are secure and free car parks dotted all around the capital. If you’re heading to the East, Google car parks run by the City of London before you go. In the West, look for those owned by Q-Parks. In my opinion, you can’t beat the Marble Arch Q-Park. With 313 motorcycle spaces (and 981 car spaces, mostly occupied by Ferraris, BMWs and Bentleys), your bike is about as secure as it could be. It takes some riding around to find the motorcycle bay after you’ve simply dodged around the barrier, and I got lost trying to get out, but this massive car park, hidden beneath Hyde Park, is brilliant.
There’s nothing to chain the bike to, so my Xena disc lock was used as a very
noisy deterrent, then I looped my chain through our helmet’s chin bars and the front wheel. I’d taken on old helmet bag from a cheap lid to cover my expensive Schuberth – no point advertising it with the plush carry bag – and we were ready for a comfortable day out together.
The pedestrian entrance was locked when we got back at half ten (and no one answered the bell), but the main entrance is always open, and you can apply for a £5 access pass through the Q-Parks website. For more info go to bit.ly/londonpark
Free days out are always good, and when they involve a motorbike, they’re even better. Fun trips to London together just got a whole lot easier…
I haven’t done many miles through this report as I’ve written it only a week after my last one. That’s because I’m getting packed and for a ride around Scotland. Expect many more miles (and a numb bum) next time.
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke four cylinder
Power: 140bhp (104kW) @ 10,000rpm
Torque: 82lb-ft (111Nm) @7300rpm
Weight: 230kg (kerb)
Seat height: 820mm
Tank size: 19 litres