Just a back to basics Throwback Thursday with a gallery of a trip to Malta in the spring 2015. Good friends, great food a speedboat and a 125cc Scooter
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Hi Guys, been away for a while now.
The last couple of months have been busy, and I’ve just returned from an assignment halfway across the world. You’ll have to wait for Issue #192 of The Rider’s Digest to read about it. However I’m a nice guy so in case you haven’t seen them on Instagram yet, here as round of photos of the last few weeks as a sneak preview:
I’m not a big fan of the looks of the new BMW S1000X. Having said that, when it was first launched, I wasn’t a big fan of the looks of my Multistrada either.
I also haven’t had the opportunity to test ride the S1000XR yet, but having tried the S1000RR I am pretty sure it is going to be a great bike. It has a fantastic engine and brakes so I’m guessing the rest should be pretty decent too.
I did however, by chance, park my MTS next to a S1000XR recently and thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a bit of a visual comparison between both.
Hi guys, sorry for the lack of posts, have been quite busy with a bunch of new stuff for the magazine, one of which I am happy to share is edition #190 of The Rider’s Digest, including my full feature on the Belgium Classic TT I announced here a few weeks ago I would be attending.
Go ahead and download, I hope you like it!
Another thing I’ve been working on is the Instagram feed for The Rider’s Digest. Icluding a bunch of old photos, new photos, behind the scenes and general stuff that doesn’t always makes it in the mag but (I think) is still worth sharing.
Check us out on Instagram @theridersdigest or by clicking HERE
Here is a quick preview of what you can find in there
Back in the end of May I went to Oss in North Brabant (a province in the southwest of the Netherlands) for the fabulous 3h Oss Endurance Race.
The event is road racing based, taking part on public roads around an industrial estate. Previous to the 3h classic bike endurance race there are other classic bike races for the Dutch and Belgium championship, sidecar races, a stage of the International Road Racing Championship with modern machinery and even a stage of the KTM RC cup.
You can get all more info on the official website: WegRaceOss.
This was the poster for this year’s event:
You might be wondering why am I only now publishing this. I initially learned about this race when I talked to Kees Van der Star on doing a feature on his Thunderstar 1200 Diesel bike (See The Rider’s Digest #189). In a last minute tngh I decided to go there and cover the event for a pictorial on the magazine. However with the upcoming feature on the Belgium Classic TT on edition #190 (wait for it, it’s worth it!)editorial decisions dictated there wasn’t enough space and I ended up with a bunch of photos I just needed to share.
If you are in the Netherlands or anywhere close I definitely recommend stopping by Oss for the races. It combines modern, classic and endurance racing all in one road racing event. There is sure to be a bike to make you drool over, be it the latest of the RRRRs,a classic 2stroke 50cc or almost anything in between.
Has usual here is a gallery. Sorry about the less than perfect panning shots, the Lumix Lx7 is great for many things: trackside photography is not one of them (mind you most of the problem is still my lack of talent).
Feel free to subscribe, like, and comment. I’d love to have some feedback!
Currently working on the article for The Rider’s Digest. In the meantime here is a video trailer of what is to come.
A fantastic racing event the Belgium Classic TT!
My Southern European genes can only withstand so much time without a proper dosage of UV radiation and temperatures above 25.
After almost two years without beach vacations (Norway doesn’t count) a couple of cheap plain tickets to Malta were the perfect excuse for a quick getaway. A couple of text messages and mouse clicks later and we were 6, heading for the former British colony, planted in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, just south of Sicily.
Unlike most of my trips, this one didn’t involve any planning or even research of what to see. There was one very simple goal: Laying in the sun and relaxing by the beach!
A few weeks before going I thought about the possibility of getting a rental motorbike and doing a tour of the island’s attractions for a more in-depth feature but in the end the need for a couple of relaxed days without planning or schedules prevailed.
The early flight (5am) meant we arrived in Malta with the whole day to spare, and had it not been for the terrible option of taking the Malta Transfer (The only official Malta airport shuttle) instead of a Taxi and we would even gotten to our hotel a lot earlier.
Seriously, do not take this shuttle, the price for 4 persons is only marginally cheaper than a Taxi and we had to wait for 40 min for it to leave only to end up trapped in a old stinky van that took 1h30 to get us to our hotel – 18km away from the airport!
After a first day by the pool and the beach getting ourselves reacquainted with a hot sunny climate, 4 of us rented bicycles for the second day while the other two rented a 50cc scooter – by far a better option.
We were based in Qawra and due to the hilly nature, and lack of cycling lanes we weren’t going to go far on the bikes so on the next day we just surrendered to the evidences and rented a 50cc for 16€/day (insurance included) and got upgraded to a 125cc because there weren’t any 50cc available anymore – That’s what a call a great deal!
With the freedom of movement afforded by the Scooter we spent the next days between enjoying the private beach at our hotel and going for short rides around the island.
Most of the Island is quite arid and dry with arabic style huts and catholic churches marking the barren landscape. Despite the mediterranean climate (which to me seems quite similar to the south of Portugal or Croatia) there seems to be very little agriculture and the prices of vegetables and fruit are ridiculously high, possibly on account of lack of sweet water for irrigation.
We went to Valleta, the capital, for dinner and left wishing we had more time to visit the city. Compared to most of the island Valleta looks majestic, perched on top of a rock fortress with it’s narrow steep streets and traditional buildings a mix of Roman and Arab Architechture.
The archipelago of Malta consists of 3 main islands: Malta, Gozo and the tiny Comino and I would definitely recommend you take the time to at least go to Gozo, it is far quainter than Malta with nice villages and beautiful beaches. What we did was ride our scooters to the Ferry terminal on the North side of the island, cross to Gozo (if I remember correctly 11,5€ for one scooter + 2 passengers paid only on the return trip) and then ride around the island. The road surface is bad but less so than in Malta and with a lot less traffic.
A cool thing in Malta is that you can apparently rent a boat without any kind of license so for the penultimate day of our trip we rented a seriously fast 115hp speedboat (210€ for the day + 45€ for fuel, for 6 persons) it’s a bit more expensive than the guided tours but infinitely better. We drove the boat from the port in Ramla Bay to the Azure Window in Gozo before going along the coast to the gorgeous Mgarr ix-Xini bay perfect for snorkeling with water so transparent you can see the ocean bottom 12meters below you.
Going back south to Comino we stopped at the famous Blue Lagoon but didn’t stay long…it’s basically a tourist trap with massive tour boats with loud stereos and drunken tourists. Instead continued along the island to the quieter St.Mary’s Bay.
Has a beach destination I definitely recommend Malta, just make sure you stick to the Low season and avoid some of the Tourist traps.
The advice I would give you from my (limited) experience there would be:
WHAT TO DO:
– If you are an experienced motorcycle rider RENT A SCOOTER, it’s a great way to move around the Island. Just make sure you stay aware of the fact all the roads have limited grip and many many many potholes.
Don’t trust the horror stories you read online about how you are going to die if you ride a bike there. The standard of driving is not great but no worse than other southern european countries…you see the odd kamikaze driver, the crazy guy that stops in the middle of a roundabout to tie the watermelons to the back of the van (seriously I did see this) but you’re riding a slow scooter and if you are aware of your surroundings you should be ok.
– Take at least a whole day to visit Valleta. I didn’t and I regret it.
– Catch the ferry and go to Gozo
– Snorkel and dive! It’s the single best thing to do on the island, there are colorful fish everywhere and the water is cristal clear. I spent most of my hours face down in the water admiring the underwater world.
– Rent a boat! If you are in a group of 4 or more people the price is reasonable and it is an amazing experience.
– Look around before you rent a scooter or a boat, we looked around and ended up renting all our stuff from the same guy. A very nice guy with a booth in St.Paul’s Bay just 50m to the west of the intersection between Islet Promenade and Dolmen street. (the bikes he rents are from AHS Malta you can identify them by the blue keychain with AHS written on them, but his booth has all kinds of diferent rentals.)
– If you are near Qawra go to the Cheeky Monkey and have a Chicken Burger, a Tuna Salad or a Smoothie. The food is great, the decoration very nice, awesome staff and the best music selection I’ve heard in a long time.
– Go out of your way to go to Margo’s Mistra Bay for the best pizza (and deserts) you will ever have!
– Have a few hours to spare, go the old capital city of Rabat. It’s beautiful.
– Visit as many of the 350 churches as possible, they are truly beautiful buildings with rich and vibrant interiors. No matter what your religion is, they are worth a visit.
– Enjoy and remember to have fun!
WHAT NOT TO DO:
– Do NOT RENT A SCOOTER if you have never ridden one or have very limited experience. With limited experience you are bound to make a few unnecessary panic braking maneuvers and the levels of grip on the roads are not kind to those mistakes. Want to learn to ride a scooter? Do it in Northern or Central Europe, where traffic is generally more organized and the roads better surfaced.
– Do NOT catch a transfer from the airport unless it is a specific transfer to your hotel, otherwise you will end up stuck in a hot van that stops in every hotel, hostel and rental apartment on the way before getting you to your destination.
– Do NOT catch a tour on the boats that go to Comino and the blue Lagoon, chances are you’ll either end up in a boat with a massive stereo and with drunken 20 year olds or in the middle of a hoard of 70 year olds slowly dying from heat exhaustion.
– Do NOT go out of your way to go to the sandy beach in Melliheha, it’s the only sandy beach in the island so it is always packed.
– Do NOT go out of your way to visit the Popeye village…it’s expensive and I seriously doubt it is worth the money. I didn’t pay to go in so I might be wrong…
I have been wanting to try the new Scrambler Ducati since I first saw their promotional video.
I am not a massive fan of Cafe Racers, Scramblers and Retro/Classic looking bikes, but there are a few out there that I quite like. The Scrambler Ducati caught my interest because besides having a familiar design to the original Scrambler it also looks modern and most of all fun!
When I got an email from Ducati a couple of weeks ago announcing the Scrambler Beach Experience in Zandvoort I jumped at the opportunity and signed in immediately. After all if I have to put up with the downside of being a Ducati client (see my previous post…) I might as well enjoy some of the perks too, right?
The venue included a 30 min guided test-ride of the Scrambler and a BBQ at Tijn Akersloot, a beach cafe in Zandvoort that I thoroughly recommend: great location right on the beach, helpful staff and an amazing surf inspired decor.
The test-ride included a mix of riding around the irregular cement block paved streets of Zandvoort, going past the entrance to the racing circuit, past Blomendaal aan Zee and out on to N200 before doubling back.
All slow speed riding (I think the fastest we got up to was around 100km/h) but good to have a feell for the bike in the kind of environment it was made for: a short ride to the cafe, or to the beach.
First impressions, the bike is small. I mean really small! I’m 1,85 so I seat on it and have both feet on the floor with my legs bent at a 60 degree angle or so. getting a move on the footpegs are placed quite far back making it a bit of a weird reach to the gear lever and back brake as my legs are so bent, but my torso is straight.
I guess if your shorter the riding position should be just perfect, but not for me.
The suspension is soft and very compliant and together with the big tires make the bike super comfortable over rough surface, potholes and speed humps. Even two up it coped really well with the uneven surface and it was a lot more comfortable than my Multistrada. A handicap if you want to ride it hard on good surface but that is not what is bike is for and the gain in comfort and the feeling that you can just go over anything makes it a lot of fun.
The bike I rode had the standard exhaust and sounded pretty discreet but a couple of the other bikes on test had the megaphone style Termignoni, and that one sounds awesome.
The dash is more form than function and although it displays quite some information but on the move I found it very difficult to read anything other than the speed. The rev counter for example consists of a series of tiny black lines filling a bar on the lower half of the dash, running from right to left!
For what it is meant to be, a biker for non bikers or for return bikers looking for something stylish fun and unintimidating the Scrambler ticks all the boxes.
It looks great (especially in Urban Enduro version), sounds menacing with the Termignoni but is as easy to ride as any learner bike I’ve ever tried.
Yes it could do with a smoother gearbox, the throttle can be a bit jerky at low speeds (but at the same it adds a bit more excitement when you do open it up) and it could do with a bit more ground clearance, but all those changes would mean a compromise that I’m not sure would result in an overall better bike!
Would I buy one? No, it’s not the kind of bike I need right now, but you will never hear me say no to the chance of riding one!
It feels fun, simple and modern while looking great with that classic inspired design. Want to have an idea of what it feels like to ride one, rewatch the promotional video . This is one of those cases in which they did get it right.
P.S- The one thing I did not like on the bike was really the size. It’s small and that makes it accessible to shorter riders but also makes it too short for anyone around my height. I also found the ground clearance to be pretty limited as I had to scramble to avoid having my boots touching the pavement every time I gave it a bit more lean angle going trough a roundabout. I will however give it the benefit of the doubt, I was riding two up and didn’t have the opportunity to adjust the preload on the rear shock (the Scrambler’s manual recommends Preload at max for two up riding).
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