Honda ST1300 'Pan Europeans' (Updated 280322)

So, to recap: I bought an '03 ST13 in December 2006. I was knocked off it whilst stationary in early 2010 and replaced it with a '54-plate in May that year. After six trouble-free years I slid this one off the road into a crash barrier in Luxembourg in mid-2016, the repair bill running to nearly £800 involving new stanchions, replacement front wheel and auxiliary master cylinder and - says he, touching wood - at time of writing the bike is still going strong. As it should be; with just over 64000 miles [EDIT: in 2017!] covered it's been averaging around 4000 miles per year from new (and to be fair this is common with ST1300s, you can still find early examples for sale with ridiculously low mileages). Currently it has HID headlamps and the switchgear from a Super Blackbird that means I can turn the headlamps off (though not the sidelights). It also has electronic cruise control, Bike-Quip bar raisers (I decided to leave them on!), TomTom Rider 400 mounted on a flexi arm from the nose panel, Datatool alarm system (which, contrary to a lot of peoples' experiences, works flawlessly even if the auto-arming shock sensor does annoy the crap out of your mates). There's the obligatory 12V charge socket in the right-hand glovebox, the lid of which has just been replaced with a new old-stock item to replace the one I'd modified with a membrane keypad for the old Zen MP3 player. Tunes are now taken care of with an Ipod; it and the TomTom link to my helmet via a Cardo Packtalk Slim headset. The rider's seat has a neoprene Airhawk inset into its original firm foam padding. A Bagster tank cover is sometimes fitted if I use a tank bag. Hyperpro springs are fitted at both ends. Tyres are now Michelin Road 5GTs. Roxter heated grips are controlled by the inset Honda controller. I've noticed recently that the rubber is wearing away on the grips.

Update March 2018

Well that's another winter not-quite out of the way so as I sit and watch the snow whirling around outside I thought a quick website refesher might be in order! 2017 came and went with aother Euro-jaunt and a couple of trips up to Scotland (the border's only about 80 miles from here although the really interesting roads are a good way further up ;o). The ST13 came away from the 2016 bump rather well, I thought... and now it's confession time! Once I'd replaced the front wheel, both stanchions, the auxiliary master cylinder and the world's most expensive brake line, my piggy-bank was looking a bit threadbare so rather than buy a new front tyre only to find that the chassis was as bent as a politician I opted to refit the one that was on the bike when I slid it into a steel post. Yes, I know, safety, safety, baaaa..... baaaa... did I ever mention that I work in non-destructive testing? No? Well, I work in non-destructive testing. I couldn't find any sign AT ALL of splitting, abrasion, deformity of the sidewall or damage to the carcass. So I put it back on the bike, with the intention of only keeping it long enough to prove the bike was handling OK, and then I'd change it before the next big trip. So I rode the bike 'around the block', as it were, gradually picking up speed and taking both hands off to see if it steered me into a tree. It didn't, which was a good sign, so I went faster still and tried jumping on the brakes. Well, it just bloody stopped, didn't it. A couple of hours and some naughty speeds later I'd failed to detect anything untoward at all. Anyway, a few weeks later some of the chaps and I headed up to bonny Scotland for a long weekend. It dawned on me that I hadn't changed the front tyre but I thought OK, I'll just take it easy and then change it when we get back. Ahem. Take it easy? With two Multistradas and an MT-10 trying to get there before the bar closes? Four days later I was still alive... Well then work got in the way and before I knew it, the day had dawned when we had to sprint for a ferry to Stalag Europe. Much riding around the Dolomites later I'd completely forgotten I was supposed to be taking it easy but the bike and I came back still intact. By this time the front tyre was starting to look its mileage... but there was just enough tread left for one more weekend of silliness, up around the Borders, down through the Lakes and home. And THEN I replaced the front tyre :D So that, I think, proves just what modern tyres can cope with and although I wouldn't recommend anyone to be as foolish as I am, you can at least be secure in the knowledge that if tyres seem expensive, you're definitely getting what you pay for.

I forgot to mention, so this seems as good a place as any to slip it in, that shortly after I'd rebuilt the front end (isn't it always the way!) I found a pair of Hyperpro front springs, brand new in the box, still with the bottle of fork oil they came with, for sale on Ebay. As I already had the Hyperpro rear fitted I thought it was worth a try, even if only so I could come on here and moan about them being a waste of money ;o) A sensible sum changed hands (to me, a bargain is only a bargain if it's less than half the price of a new one!), the springs were duly fitted and... the bike seemed to gain an inch of ground clearance! Of course it may well be that fitting a new pair of standard Honda springs might have had the same result so let's not get too enthusiastic; the originals were after all a dozen years and 50,000 miles old by then. I should say here that I only swapped the springs and rechecked the fork oil level; of course the forks had new oil added when I rebuilt them. However it was 5 viscosity points thicker than the oil supplied by Hyperpro so it could be that things might be even better with the lighter oil. All I can say is, well, I think there's an improvement. Therefore, you might say, in Emperor's new clothes fashion, if I think it, it must be true. I don't know. I'm just a middle-aged bloke who rides the bike that best suits me and if it has deficiencies I'm probably not good enough to identify them. I couldn't say that I've gone down a road I know X% faster because of the new springs. I couldn't say that my pillion has fallen asleep due to the cushiness of the ride. I certainly couldn't say it enhances my lifestyle, my wealth or my bedroom prospects just because I fitted some bloody aftermarket springs. So I'm not recommending you try them, but don't let that stop you ;O)

Now, being a tight northern skinflint (it's my Scots ancestry, d'ye ken) I'm sure you can imagine the sharp intake of breath whenever I see the price of motorcycle tyres. Having replaced the front I then took a close look at the rear and decided I may as well renew that as well. Over my years of Pan Euro ownership I've stuck with Michelin Pilot Road tyres which at present are up to their 5th incarnation (and no longer called 'Pilot'). Now the PR4 has been around long enough for people to start commenting that, grippy as it is, it's not massively better than the PR3 it replaced although it is rather more expensive. If I did a lot of high-speed wet weather riding (and somehow the two feel they should be mutually-exclusive) then there might be times when I could say "Phew, I'm glad I wasn't still on those crappy PR3s" - but the reality is that I don't, so to return to my theme of short arms, deep pockets, I opted to revisit the PR3s and save a few shekels. There are a few online tyre sellers now, my preference has generally been for Oponeo. Of course if you turn up at a tyre place with a tyre you've bought elsewhere, they come over all busy and want £15-20 to swap it! I don't know about you but I've never seen anyone with a University degree fitting tyres, so I thought it was time to have a crack myself :D Now this is where owners of shiny new bikes start cringing and sucking in breath, thinking of all those chips in the wheelrims (and, no doubt, scrapes to the silly rim tape that say "Yamondukisakumph RSGX-ZZ-R-RR" in dayglo text). Well that's fine, you big softies can look away now. There are three parts of the job to swap a tyre: first, get the old tyre off; second, put the new tyre on; third, balance the wheel and tyre. Most bikes these days use tubeless tyres (even some of those with spoked wheels!). In order that the air stays generally inside the tyre, said tyre has to have a good seal around the rim. To this end the 'bead' (inner edge) of the tyre has a reinforcing band around it which makes it grip the rim tightly. Getting the tyre off (once you've let the air out) means 'breaking' the bead, which is basically pushing the edge of the tyre inwards until the bead slips off the seat and moves into the 'well' in the middle of the rim. Once both beads are fully unseated, the tyre will flop around on the rim and it's then just a matter of prising both beads over one side of the wheel. Tyre fitters usually use a hydraulic 'bead breaker' to pop the tyre off its seats but you can do the same thing with a large bench vice, just be careful you don't scratch the rim (or the tape, see above :D). An alternative I prefer is two of those one-handed 'quick-grip' clamps and a piece of thin plywood to protect the rim. You can prise the tyre most of the way off with your bare hands - unless you're a big soft southern shandy-drinker in which case you'd better get your houseboy, batman, valet or similar minion to do it. If you need to use a lever, find a few inches of old hose pipe, slit it lengthways with a sharp knife and slip it over the edge of the wheelrim and prise with your lever at that point. The new tyre is fitted 'in reverse order', as Haynes manuals always say, but make sure you get the rotation arrow on the tyre sidewall pointing in the right direction (even tyre fitters have been known to get that bit wrong!). You'll need your bit of hosepipe for the last bit of levering. Tyre fitters usually glop a greasy lubricant around the tyre beads to help them slip over the edge of the rim. I use silicone grease as it's inert and won't attack either the tyre or the rim. I've heard of people using liquid soap or washing-up liquid but the latter is probably not a good idea as the salts in it can cause corrosion of the alloy wheel. Incidentally, when wrestling with the wheel and tyre, have a sheet of plywood or carpet or similar to lay the wheel on: your concrete driveway is likely to make a mess of your brake discs and conversely, if you do the job indoors the brake discs are likely to ruin the genuine hardwood veneered kitchen floor you just fitted to appease the [insert opposite- or same-sex partner of preference]...!

Right, so you've got your tyre back on the rim, now you need the beads back on their seats. I've found that the 'spring' of the sidewalls tends to push the beads against the edge of the rim seats creating an initial seal, so applying the airline to the valve soon springs them into place (with that characteristic loud bang!) and then it's just a matter of setting the pressure. Next, of course, you need to balance the wheel and tyre assembly and this, you might think, is where it gets technical. Oh no it doesn't. Most tyre fitters do this part exactly the same way you would, i.e. without any special equipment. Although in theory you could use a dynamic balancer (as they do for car tyres) it would need special adapters to fit the bike wheel to the machine. Instead what they use is a simple stand with a length of rod. The rod passes through the wheel where the spindle would go and rests on a set of rollers atop each upright leg of the stand. You can buy these stands for very little from an assortment of places. Or you could make your own, as I did :D

First, chop up an old steel bench frame...

Find some odd bits of stainless steel lying around and use them to make a shaft and centring cones:

Glue the frame bits together with a MIG welder (this was my Romarc 200 getting some exercise):

A couple of offcuts of aluminium angle...

were used to make mounting brackets for some old bearings...

on which the shaft can turn (reducing friction which should make it more sensitive, oo-er missus):

Simply remove one of the centring cones, slip the shaft through the wheel, refit the cone and secure with its grub screws. Then rest the spindle on the bearings and give the wheel a gentle spin (having removed any old wheel weights first). A properly-balanced wheel will stop at a different point every time. If it stops in the same place then the lowest point is obviously the heaviest and self-adhesive weights can be stuck to the rim at a point diametrically opposite the heavy spot. Repeat until the wheel stops randomly and that's it balanced:

It turns out that the centring cones are not actually required; the wheel will rotate just as happily with the shaft finding its own position. The balancing weights can be had very cheaply; so cheaply in fact that mine were free - from the place that fits tyres to our numerous company vehicles!

In other news, now that I've finished fannying about trying to integrate old MP3 players to the bike (got an iPod Touch, remember?) I've just fitted a new right-hand glovebox lid, replacing the one I doctored to accept the membrane keypad. I also acquired a new TomTom Rider 400 satnav and then the company issued me an iPhone 5S! The Apple products and the TomTom can all communicate with each other, all I needed was a way to allow them to communicate with me. By the time I slid off the bike in 2016, my AGV helmet was already ten years old and although I'm a bit cynical over the whole 'replace it after 5 years' nonsense, even I could agree that it was time to call it a day. It had done well; I think it only fell off the bike seat once in all that time, resulting in a slight paint chip, and even bouncing my head off the road twice in the Luxembourg 'incident' only put minor scrapes on that didn't even take the paint down to primer. For a while I'd been fancying a flip-front helmet but all those I'd ever tried seemed a bit creaky and plasticky. So off I went to J&S at Leeds to see what could be had. It transpired that they'd opted not to exhibit at the NEC bike show and instead had launched a "20% off everything" sale for the show's duration. So I found myself trying on helmets that were rather pricier than I'd intended... and wound up buying a Shoei Neotec flip-front in matt black (as was my AGV S4). Very nice it is too, although I couldn't honestly say it's massively quieter than the AGV, but since I tend to wear earplugs anyway it's a moot point. Suitably 'lidded-up', then, I went in search of some more technology, in the shape of a Bluetooth headset. Now you can buy a BT headset for under twenty quid, and if it works then it's a bargain :D. I, on the other hand, talked myself into buying the Sena SMH-10U, which is the integrated version of their SMH-10, cunningly remodelled to fit inside the helmet, leaving no big lumps hanging off the side. It's an expensive unit (not much change out of £200!) and only available to suit a handful of helmets at present but I guess unless we support manufacturers they will have less incentive to make application-specific products and instead stick with generic models that will always be unsatisfactory to some buyers. Reports from buyers of the SMH-10U with its early firmware were generally disparaging, however the later firmware seems to have resolved most of the grumbles - certainly mine has worked from the outset. In practice this means that I can have the TomTom, Iphone and Ipod all synched to the Sena. The Ipod plays music, the TomTom chips in with directions (if I set it to) and if the phone rings it takes precedent over the others. The Sena helmet installation includes a 2-button keypad for volume up/down but it also turns power on/off and accesses a host of other options depending on which button you press, for how long and in what order! As if that wasn't enough, the headset incorporates an FM radio AND there's a handlebar-mounted remote control that fits around the left handlebar grip. This has two more buttons and a 4-way joystick and if it sounds like it's getting complicated, that's because it is! A full implementation of this system not only has the Satnav and phone/ Ipod, it can also let you talk to your passenger if they have a BT headset. It can even have their phone connected as well as yours (though in that case if you want music, one of the phones has to act as an MP3 player as well). You can even link by BT to other riders if they're close enough - and by 'close', Sena means within a mile! You can create rider groups so you can talk to different groups independently of each other, talk to each rider separately or yell at them all to stop if you see a naked Rachel Riley sunbathing by a stream, just as an example of why that function might be useful, even though I've told Rach time and again to at least keep her socks on when she's walking around outside. Ankle socks of course, not those knee-length... hang on, I'll be back in a minute.

Right, where was I? Oh yes, Sena... the SMH-10U's battery pack fits more or less unobtrusively around the lower back edge of the helmet:

Unfortunately it doesn't last all that long; yes, you can get a full day's riding out of it with music but it really needs a full charge every night if you're away touring. Sena have opted, like TomTom and Garmin, to use piddling little mini/micro-USB connectors as charge sockets which strikes me as one of the most likely factors to cause the premature death of these units. I don't believe these connectors are robust enough to be used in this fashion. Even Apple saw sense in designing their 'Lightning' power connector; though it too is a bit weedy at least it has multiple contacts to handle the load in the event that one breaks. My Garmin refuses to talk to my PC now since one of the contacts in the satnav socket snapped and despite my best efforts I've been unable to effect a repair even if it involved having a flying lead hanging out the back of the thing. As it hasn't been updated for more than two years I know Garmin will have also pulled the plug on my lifetime map updates, so essentially it's relegated to the company van. On the whole, though, I'm pleased with the whole Sena/TomTom/Ipod/Iphone thing; just jump on the bike, switch on, everything connects, off we go. Once installed in the helmet the earphones and long-range intercom antenna are invisible and you just have this:

...and a closer view (the +/- buttons act as power, volume, answer call etc. depending on which one you press and when!):

With the front flipped-up (the microphone angle is fixed so you can't alter it, but the foam cover is optional and removing it leaves a slimmer boom in front of your mouth):

This funny claw-looking widget is the handlebar-mounted remote control; it's spring-loaded so it grips the left-hand bar rubber. Position is important so it doesn't foul the clutch lever but once set it stays in place well enough. Unlike the main unit it will go for months on a charge - but not if you keep forgetting to turn it off! I've added labels in case you're interested enough to wonder but not interested enough to go and buy one :D

Status LED flashes blue (for Bluetooth connection!) or red depending on what it's trying to tell you; buttons answer/end/reject calls and so on, joystick is 4-way plus press and gives you (for example) MP3 track selection, radio tuning, volume, select intercom partner/group etc.:

...and they even give you a couple of self-adhesive logos.

UPDATE 100718

It would be nice, once in a while, if this bloody technology just worked the way it was supposed (and claimed) to, for a realistic lifespan. Yet again some expensive kit has gone udders-skyward, in the form of this Sena headset. This year's Euro-jaunt has just been completed (only one mistake this year and not mine, thankfully: one of the guys forgot which side of the road he was supposed to be riding on and had a 60mph head-on with a Renault down in the Vosges. All parties OK but you'd struggle to identify the bike from what's left. Anyway, I'm digressing...) and on the 2nd day I found that the Sena wasn't charging. The cable and charger were OK which left the headset itself. Unable to do much about it I waited till I got home and was about to fling it back at the supplier when I realised the warranty had expired. Of course it had. So with little to lose I prised open the battery compartment to expose the charging PCB. Now I expected to find a broken solder joint to the micro-USB socket but with a magnifier more powerful than the Hubble telescope I couldn't see anything wrong with it. Careful wiggling and poking suggested 'something' was loose because with all the bits held at a certain angle the charge LED lit and eventually the battery did charge. I found that a wire had been crushed when the unit was originally assembled but that seemed to be electrically sound so I reassembled the unit (taped the case back together for now in case it has to come apart again) and for the moment it seems OK. As a final insult from the trip, the left-hand fork oil seal has started leaking. If you cast your mind back to 2016 and my slight 'off' in Luxembourg, when I rebuilt the fork legs I opted to re-use the oil seals to save money, just in case there was something major wrong with the bike's handling. On that basis I guess I can't complain that the seals have lasted 56000 miles and about 14 years since the bike was built. I found a full set of seals and dust covers as new old stock, £48 for a few bits of rubber... \8O

The TomTom Rider 400 comes with a bike-oriented mounting/power bracket and includes a basic RAM mount. Most of the satnav installs I've seen on ST1300's have the nav mounted off the top yoke, between the handlebars. Bike-Quip's handlebar riser includes mounting threads for just this purpose but I prefer the satnav to be higher up, closer to my line of sight. Further up the page is a photo of the mounting I devised for my first Garmin (a 255) which I then altered to suit the later Garmin 2548 (or whatever it is). When I got the TomTom I made up an adapter plate that let me fit the TT's mount to it and although the whole thing is heavier than either of the Garmins it keeps the Rider 400 just above the edge of the instrument housing and allows the screen full movement. A bit like this...

Flexible neck screwed through the nose cowling thingy (seen through the screen hence the haze)...


Madness. Sheer bloody madness! That's probably a fair appraisal of my latest ST13-related scheme. Y'see, I quite fancy a new bike. Well don't we all, from time to time. However, my mate Rob reckons I'm a 'Pan man' through and through. Don't get me wrong, I ride other bikes. Rob's, mostly... and I often get off them laughing like a drain. Especially the Aprilia RSV, on that road in Scotland, and that other road in Austria. But then again, seeing the world streaking by, Star Trek-like, from the Kawasaki ZZR1400 on a German Autobahn... just... Jesus. Even if I could never get it to go round corners. And the unbridled lunacy that is the Ducati Multistrada 1200. I can't ride one the way the other guys do... and maybe that's the point. Some bikes just suit your riding style better than others. For me, thrashing the nuts off a small engine just gribbles my mechanical sympathy gland, even if the motor can take it. No, I'm more into low-down grunt, torque curves flatter than Keira Knightley- hence, I guess, the TVR V8... and the Honda V4, which is half a V8 anyway! So I was disappointed with my early experiences of big V-twins (the Tuono and the old air-cooled 1100 Multistrada) because I expected big dollops of torque from tickover. What I got was a load of bogging, followed by 3000 revs-worth of christmyarmsarecomingoff followed by headbutting the clocks as the power fell off. The 1200 Multi sorted that out, but 15 grand is more than I want - no, more than I HAVE - to spend on a bike. Maybe when they're down in bargain-basement territory I'll buy one, but for the present the next-best thing I've found is, wait for it, the Aprilia Futura. It has the torque-spread and response I guess I was expecting - the RSV 1000 has it as well, but at my time of life it's a bit too head-down, arse-up to spend any length of time on. Another mate has a Futura and it has the sort of looks that would go well with the TVR, all pointy and angular, which is ironic given that the TVR wedges missed their styling era as well. The 'Fut' is also as equally ancient as the Pan European, both of them launching around the same time in the early days of the millenium. However the Futura never sold well and even if you can find a good one, it's still an almost 20-year-old bike. By now you're wondering what any of this has to do with madness (not Madness, the popular music beat combo from the 1980s) and Pan Europeans. Well, the 'Pan' has apparently not been built since 2011 and even though you can still buy a new one, it'll have been sat around a dealer's showroom gathering dust for a while. And, unbelievably, dealers still want £15,000 for them! On the basis that I could just buy a more recent ST13 than the one I have, I'd still be looking at £5-6000 for an 8-year-old machine. That looks like a big hole in my retirement kitty. But I looked around anyway, and I've decided I really like the look of the black ones :D So then I thought, well why not just respray my existing bike...? Then one thing led to another and before I knew it, I'd accidentally bought this lot:

That's a Ford Connect-full of plastic, though the eagle-eyed will spot that the pannier lids aren't shown; I only got a right-hand one and it was in the cab. I got the panels from Force Motorcycles down in Derbyshire. The white ones are the giveaway: they all came from ex-Police machines, decommissioned on the recommendations of ACPO after a couple of officer fatalities/injuries in the early service of the ST1300. Some bikes were used for surveillance and left in factory paint but of course the patrol bikes (not that you see much 'patrolling' done by the Police these days) were white with fetching Dayglo accessories (removed with a heat gun). There are a couple of minor cracks, one in the right-hand main fairing and one in the headlamp fairing. We also struggled to find a serviceable pair of mirror pods and I ended up with a left and two right-hand ones; one has a crack and the other is missing one of the mounting pillars for the indicator unit. They all had blue strobe lamps fitted at some point although one has had the holes filled and repainted. There's only one pannier lid - a new old-stock item in white - so Ebay will be watched like a hawk for a left-hand one. You see plenty of right-hand ones for sale so maybe most of the lefts are trashed in side-stand incidents... (EDIT Jun18 - I found a left-hand pannier lid in good condition eventually... on Ebay in Belgium! Had to grit my teeth a bit over the price; about a fifth of what all the other panels cost in total. The part that took the most time to find was the little inspection panel that covers the coolant header tank in the left-hand fairing. I could have bought a new one... but forty-five quid!? After about five months of trawling I finally bagged one via Ebay - ironically in the right colour for the bike's original panels. I suppose for completeness I ought to buy a spare topbox lid to paint as well... hey ho, it's only money :D )

Alas I missed this thumbprint-sized dent in the petrol tank:

...but a little work (through the filler neck) with a bent length of 10mm steel rod saw the worst of it pushed out, a skim of filler should take care of the remaining wrinkles:

Interestingly, although all the other white panels appear to have been white from new, the tank is actually candy red under the white! Whoever painted it left the tank decals on so they can be seen through the paint; they were then used as a guide for the new decals post-paint. I'll probably do the same thing. I'm currently engaged in a search for the best means of repair for the two cracks I've found: all of the panels are ABS apart from the main side fairings which are a PA6-PPE-GF10 mix (apparently a common blend used by Honda) which might take some experimenting to get the best 'filler rod' material. I have a Bosch hot air gun which would accept their plastic-welding attachments but as it has limited temperature control it might not be the best option. I recall once having a Suzuki Katana nose fairing repaired by a local plastics fabricator but like so much engineering around these parts, they've gone. That Kat fairing was bought unseen from a breaker who advertised in the bike press (I'm talking pre-internet early 1990s here); their description over the 'phone was "It has a little crack". When it arrived there was about 10% of it missing altogether and what remained was flapping in the breeze from all the other damage! Lying b4$+4rd$. Luckily the plastic welding guy was a biker and he let-in a repair patch and welded all the cracks, and by the time another mate had finished with the paint and filler you couldn't tell it had ever been broken. This time, it's down to me :^o

UPDATE 110718

Thanks to work I managed to fail miserably to have the spare panels resprayed in time for this year's Euro-thrash (see further up page). It transpired that my son-in-law (he of 3D printers and other manly gadgets) owns one of those 3D 'pens' with which you can freehand extrude constructions in PLA or ABS. PLA is apparently some derivative of corn starch(?) whereas ABS is a 'proper' plastic and is, of course, what most of the ST13's panels are made from. So this 3D pen proved to be the ideal tool with which to repair the small cracks and fill the holes in my spare panel set: open the cracks out with a carbide bit, taper the drilled hole edges from both sides and then press the go button on the 3D pen. It takes in a reel of ABS filament and extrudes it through a heated tip; with judicious application of said heated tip to the 'parent' material the extruded filament melts nicely into the part. Build up slightly higher than the surrounding, let it cool and dress it back and it makes for a very neat repair. I was so impressed I even dug out some previous repairs (that looked as though they'd been done with a soldering iron tip) and redid those as well!

I went looking for paint colour ideas. I fancied something reasonably loud and in your face and thought a 'flip-flop' or 'chameleon' finish might be fun, but everywhere I look I see chavved-up shopping cars with the same sort of colours and I went off the idea. Chrome is out; some comedian suggested Kawasaki green (on a Honda?!) and I'd more or less decided on a candy orange/rusty red sort of thing when I happened upon Stardust Colours' website and found... well, you'll have to wait and see. If it looks completely crap I won't even put any photos up :D At this rate the paint might be done by 2019... but don't hold your breath.

UPDATE 201118

OK, you can stop holding your breath now :D I finally found the missing piece of the jigsaw (the left-hand infill panel) and then got down to buying the materials. Stardust Colours had just the sort of bling I was after; Spraygun Supplies turned up filler, sanding pads, mixing stuff and measuring jugs. The filler (Evercoat PolyFlex) goes on beautfully and sands back to a fine finish without disintegrating on thin layers. So that was the tank dent and a couple of minor issues with the plastics fettled. Next I needed somewhere to work, and ideally an air-fed mask and filter unit. The latter first: although I could pick up a second-hand mask, a new filter unit would be £150, and that was some no-name Chinese thing. Do I value my lungs? Meanwhile I figured that a garden gazebo ought to give me enough space... but I didn't want to buy a cheap one and find it let overspray out and insects in, so I did some digging and found a company called Primrose who do a range of gazebos, the sides of which are attached around the edge of the roof canopy by continuous Velcro and have wide 'skirts' at the bottom (so you could weight them and stop draughts). Being a heavy-gauge fabric I figured that as long as I didn't coat the thing with paint it'd probably survive to do duty as a temporary cover for working on cars etc. However it was just shy of £200... so I put the job on hold, thinking I could rack up some overtime to offset the outlay. Then I had a few days' holiday, and a mate asked for a hand with the suspension on his Porsche 996. As part of his rebuild he got the calipers resprayed (red, of course). I decided to ask his paint guy for a quote to spray my bike panels, bearing in mind I'd already repaired and rubbed them all down by this time, and I'd bought the paint. The reply was sensible, certainly less expensive than buying a gazebo and a new mask so I weighed up the pros and cons and opted to have him do the job. He couldn't fit the panels in (not literally, I mean into his schedule!) for weeks, by which time the bike was off the road for the winter. Now they're done, there's not much point in fitting them to the bike and have it stand idle for 6 months while I climb over and drop things on it, so the panels have been wrapped-up carefuly and stored in the loft. When I see them again, it'll be like christmas - in April :D Meanwhile, here's a teaser for you:

The decals, by the way, came from Yes that's right, a Hungarian website! Have a look and you'll see why. Believe it or not, you can't actually buy the ST1300 logos from Honda within Europe because, of course, they insisted on calling it the Pan European over here. And if you could, they'd only be in the factory option colours of Grey, Bland and Tedious. I thought the logos needed to be as loud as the paintwork :D - so they're reflective. By pure chance the black in the '1300' and the tank 'Honda' wings is slightly metallic, so the overal effect is quite appealing (to my eyes at any rate). Next up, the bike needs a new screen, the exhausts polishing and, of course, the wheels will need some attention. While I'm at it, perhaps the footrest hangers will have to be refinished (they get scuffed by the rider's boots) - I'm not a massive fan of the usual stick-on 'protectors' that you see on STs. Maybe if it was protected from new, fine, but stuck on once the damage is done seems a bit half-arsed.

Roll on 2019 :D

EDIT 090219

Well, 2019 rolled around soon enough and although it's still not time to swap the panels over I just thought I'd fill the midnight hour with a look over the website, so while I'm here I'll just say that I found a new screen ( for £58, bought a new fuel filler cap (from the bay of evil of course) for £18 and a new pair of front footrest rubbers for £12. Why the new rubbers I'm not sure because on close inspection the 15 year old originals look hardly more worn than the new ones. For the screen I stuck with the standard-sized clear version; I can understand really big blokes finding the 'extra large' screen a bonus but I don't tend to hide behind it in bad weather - in fact I find it disconcerting looking through a screen on a bike - and the tinted ones just look silly on an ST.


It's been a long time coming but I've run out of excuses so it's time for an update on the paint. OK, so up here in northern England it hasn't stopped raining for long in the last three days and I've run out of things to read (especially MotorCycle Nonsense). As of the start of April the bike's V5 records its colour as black... or is it?

Well yes it is, when the sun isn't shining on it. If anything it looks like a black bike with a covering of dust. But switch on the big thermonuclear device in the sky and BOING:

The problem is, it's very difficult to catch the full 'blinginess' in a photograph. I mean, you can see the effect above: it's a rainbow sparkle created by 'prisms' in the paint which diffract the light. The dominant colour depends on the angle of the sun: sometimes it looks green, other times it's verging on gold - and like a 'flip-flop' it changes as you move around the bike. That's not all though: the Honda wings and ST1300 logos are cut from the same sort of reflective stuff that number plates use, so get the light right (usually late in the day when the sun's over your shoulder) and the decals 'pop' (as they say on Yank custom shows :D) - they're so bright they almost look like they've got LEDs in them! Meanwhile take a look at the creases and edges in the fairing: some of those lines are hardly noticeable on the plain-colour bike. It now seems to have gained a bit more shape and, dare I say it, presence and (unless my mates are just being polite) the general concensus is it suits the ST: loud but not all the time, subtle enough so that you get taken by surprise when a bright light falls on it.

There is a downside: the new paint, despite having a 2-pack clear lacquer trapping the sparkly bits, chips way too bloody easily. So much so that when I was fitting the new fuel filler cap (which being a Chinese thing needed some fettling to make it work properly) I dropped a 4mm screw from a height of about a foot and it chipped the fairing! Realising that the paint wouldn't last five minutes on the road I went scouring the web for paint protection film. And what a minefield THAT was! Everybody and his dog will sell you PPF, varying in thickness and claimed results. At one end of the scale is the Ebay seller offering 2" wide by a foot long for £10, all the way up to the websites depicting expensive sports cars with an 'if you have to ask you can't afford it' presentation. In the middle are a few firms who will sell you a set of pre-cut shapes tailored to your bike and that's the option I went with - although even that wasn't easy as at least two of the websites appeared to have died. I ended up talking to Steve at Chipguard UK who advised me that PPF has moved on in recent years (a 3M product used to be the king but has been deposed!) and said they could cut from XPel, PremiumShield or SunTek, with the Xpel being the trickiest to work with. I opted for the PremiumShield and a cardboard tube duly arrived with the necessaries. I found it was pretty easy stuff to work with once you worked out which way to stretch it and how hard; the only piece I struggled with was the tank pad (down in the gentleman's equipment region) which was on and off more times than Brexit (topical, see :D) - I was that worried it would lose its adhesion that I ended up snipping two 'darts' out of it at the bottom edge and it was plain sailing after that. Trouble was, on my web travels I'd spotted an American site selling ST13 PPF kits that covered a lot more of the bike than any of the UK suppliers seemed to offer (at a price, obviously - I think it was pushing £200 with the shipping). I politely emailed Chipguard and asked if I could buy some more film to make my own 'shapes'; they sent me a 300 x 600mm strip free of charge. To give you an idea, the standard 'full bike' set includes the front couple of inches of the front mudguard, the headlamp, nose fairing (the biggest piece), strips at the sides of the headlamp, top and front of both mirrors, leading edges of the side fairings, tank pad, tank sides and shin areas of the side fairings - and will run you £90. Taking inspiration from the American PPF sets I used my extra piece to cover the mirror ends, the front corners of both panniers, the side panels below the seat, the areas of the side fairing above and below the crash bar covers and, mindful of the marks on the original tank, I cut a piece that provides protection from the keys when the fuel filler is open - and there's still some left :D Needless to say, the VERY first time I took the bike out, the leading edge of the front mudguard got chipped RIGHT NEXT to the bloody film and the next time out a stone took a chunk out of the right side fairing, just above where I'd stopped the film around the crash bar cover. FFS, as I believe the modern idiom has it... and if I could do smilies on here there'd be gritted teeth and rolled eyes. The film, incidentally, really is practically invisible. It's completely smooth on both sides (so no texture from the backing paper as used to happen) - in fact it hugs the mirror pods so well, the orange peel in the clearcoat shows through! To complete the revamp (I decided not to bother with the wheels, the colour actually works quite well with the new paint) I fitted a new ExtendaFenda from Pyramid. I opted for the self-adhesive version, partly because in my 2016 'off' the original front mudguard cracked around one of the old extender's mounting screws. Time will tell whether a combination of Pyramid's sticky pads and some silicon sealant will survive the ravages of rain and road crud.

Of course no sooner had I put all the new panels on the bike than the right-hand fork oil seal started leaking so half the bike had to come apart again; that was the other re-used one from the 2016 fork rebuild finally giving up the ghost.

Time and tyres wait for no man, of course, and the pair of Michelin PR3's I put on somewhere up the page were starting to look a bit threadbare. Alas, Oponeo could no longer supply PR3s in ST13 sizes so I opted for the PR4s again. I pondered the Pirelli Angel GTs, which one of my mates had on his Multistrada and he was happy enough, but he's moved to Michelin Road 5s and I know he's hard to please, so although I could have saved £40 and fitted the Angels, they're an unknown to me on the ST13 (if anyone's used them and, ideally, the PR4s as well, drop me a line for future reference!). I see there's an Angel 2 out now, so Pirelli have obviously moved with the times. Anyway, it was time to pull the wheels off and get busy with tyre levers and home-brew balancer. Interestingly (to me, at any rate), the old tyres came off an absolute cinch. I'm going to put that down to the silicon grease which I used as a bead lubricant when I fitted them; after 2 years and well over 6000 miles the remaining grease was still moist and no doubt contributed to the tyres popping off so easily. Only a few weeks ago I had a puncture in the rear tyre; I smugly and confidently emptied a can of Tyreweld into it and went for a ride. Would it stop leaking? Would it bollox. I even tipped in the remaining half of another can of TW (I'd used half on a previous puncture) and it still wouldn't stop. I ended up borrowing one of the guy's puncture repair kits, the type of thing with a T-handled needle that you use to poke some sticky string through the tyre. And it worked. It worked so well it lasted the remaining 1000 miles without losing any air, so that was a £10 Chinese import well spent. Here's the tyre, note the puddle of un-cured Tyreweld and the brown 'string':

Anyway, new tyres fitted, twenty grammes of balance weight on the front and none on the rear and the job was, as they say, a good'un :) I even bought myself a Chinese puncture repair kit, complete with brown string. Now, about this British summer...

UPDATE 080719

Well it had to happen, didn't it: my long history of issues with anything modern and technology-related continues, with the failure of my TomTom to charge from its quick-release mounting. As you'd expect, I discovered this two days before a long weekend's riding up in Scotland, so although a stiff email to TomTom might (and I say might) have resulted in a replacement unit free of charge, it was a bit short notice. I mention the free replacement because one of my cronies had the release lever snap off his QR mounting and an email to TomTom was followed by him sending the whole thing back for a free replacement. His argument is that's why you pay more for a premium product (i.e. the after-service); my argument is that if it was designed and tested thoroughly in the first place, it should never break... but what do I know, I only design and build inspection systems for the armaments industry (that run 24 hours a day for years on end)... and as usual, I digress. In this case the supposedly waterproof QR mount has allowed water in, which has resulted in the voltage regulator PCB (that hides behind the two spring-loaded pins) sitting in a puddle of water. Much corrosion later and some of the PCB tracks were no longer present. Had the unit still been in warranty I would have lived without it for the trip and sent it back without hesitation, but in the event I stripped it down, cleaned out the crud and soldered some microscopic wires across the various gaps. Lots of silicone grease was applied on reassembly and it works, but watch this space to find out for how long.

And then there was the bloody Sena intercom... after I'd managed to repair the broken tracks to the charge socket, I got a few hours' use out of it over a couple of months. Then Sena released a firmware upgrade, which amongst other things was supposed to boost the audio output. I did the upgrade without issue, restarted it, seemed OK. First time out on the road I decided to crank the volume and see if it really was boosted, and... it just stopped working. F*****g unbelievable. Got it on the bench, pulled it apart (including the earphone unit which houses the main electronics) and couldn't detect anything untoward. However, careful measurements with a multimeter showed that every time you tried to start it, it took a huge pulse of current, which pulled the battery voltage down and caused it to switch off. My guess would be that the newly-boosted volume level was too much for the audio amplifier device (and I never actually worked out which part this was) which went short-circuit, hence pulling the battery down every time it tried to power-up. Totally p1553d-of with the piece of crap by this point, I had a look on Ebay and found a number of them being sold off and not fetching much at auction. However, Sena had released a new version of the clip-on remote control by that point, although the old version were still available at about £80 a pop. As my remote had only been used for about an hour I listed that at auction, with the remains of the intercom thrown in as a sweetener. It sold, which meant I was only about £160 out of pocket. Or, put another way, the SMH-10U had cost me about £5 an hour of serviceable operation (ignoring my time as an electronics techie trying to repair the b45t4rd thing). So what, if anything, should I replace it with...?

In other news, the bike's new paint generally attracts positive comments. Shame it also attracts bloody stones and after a couple of thousand miles it's as pock-marked as Vietnam, circa 1974. The paint protection film seems to be holding up well, no sign of peeling corners or water ingress although there's a blister right in the middle of the nose fairing where it looks like a large clemmy has ricocheted off (for any southerners or overseas surfers reading, 'clemmy' is a north-eastern English term for any handy chunk of rock, brick or concrete such as one might launch at a Police line in the event of civil unrest :D). I know: there's no point in being too precious over a 14-year-old, 60,000-mile bike with the frontal area of Mo from the Roly-Polys but I did rather hope that the 2-pack lacquer would be tougher than it's turning out to be. Still, it is French paint so maybe it's my own fault: I should have waited till after Brexit and I could have bought a quality British product. Or maybe not...

UPDATE 120520

Well what a wasted year THIS is turning out to be. I haven't even taxed the ST as there's no much point; Boris the Buffoon and chums daren't make a move to get life going again and although in theory bikers can go out in ones and twos, it's hardly worth the grief, since none of the pubs and cafes we'd normally drop into will be open. On top of that, this year's Euro-hoon has been scuppered and even a trip to Scotland in July is looking unlikely with Sturgeon wagging the finger. So I've insured the bike as cheaply as I can get away with; I put the battery on and started it over Easter - being a Honda it fired up first prod :D - and then tucked it up again. Yes, I could ride to work, but I'm not going to. It'll be even more of an adventure when we do get the green light! In the meantime...

Much discussion and internet rummaging following the demise and departure of that piece of sh!t Sena led me to Cardo intercom headsets. A couple of my cronies have older models but I rather fancied the unobtrusiveness of the Packtalk Slim. I mean, why buy the Bold when you can have the Slim? So I did, courtesy of in Germany. Say what you like about the Germans, they do like a keen price. It was not long before xmas 2019 and I'd racked up some overtime on a hassly job at work so I decided I'd earned a new toy. I handed over the Reichsmarks... er, I mean the Euros... and xmas came early :D Even the packaging is impressive on the Cardo (although I'd rather have reliable electronics than a fancy box that will get lost in the loft). Unlike the Sena (spit) the Packtalk Slim is not helmet-specific so a bit of wiggling and twiddling is needed to get all the bits installed (I'm still wearing the Shoei Neotec). First surprise on switching-on is that the voice prompts use exactly the same 'sampled' female voice as the Sena did, which didn't fill me with great glee. However, the main difference is that the Cardo uses voice-activation and doesn't need the handlebar remote of the Sena. Voice activation being all well and good of course, as long as it works. Over the last 6 years I've been quietly impressed with how Ford's voice-activated 'Sync' system on the company Connect van functions; it usually gives me what I ask for although asking it to call a particular person whilst driving with an open window can be unreliable. Cardo, annoyingly (to me at any rate) has gone down the "Hey Google/Hey Siri" road and insists you preface every command with "Hey Cardo". I've tried all manner of alternative phrases and sound-alikes but it just point-blank refuses to do anything without the proper soundbite. Why they couldn't allow you to provide your own voice sample is beyond me. It would be far more amusing to shout "Achtung!" or "Oy, knobhead!" into your helmet, but I guess it is what it is. At this point I would have liked to give the Cardo a 'yea' or 'nay' but as I've only tried it out whilst walking around the house with my lid on, it's too early to say. Every couple of weeks since I installed it, I've switched it on and asked it for 'battery status' and it's always responded 'high', so I guess it uses miniscule currents whilst sat idle. Curiously, even though I pronounce 'status' the way civilised people do (i.e 'stay-tus') the Cardo responds with "Battery statt-us" the way the Trumpians say it. If it understands that, then having an alternative trigger prompt should be no problem. Roll on a firmware upgrade... or not ;o) Cardo offer an alternative set of in-helmet speakers that they say were developed in collaboration with JBL, the loudspeaker manufacturer. If you buy them as an add-on for the Packtalk (Slim or Bold) then you get a code which unlocks a few audio tweaks to make use of the bigger 45mm JBL drivers - more volume, for starters. Hmm, this is beginning to sound very familiar. I think I'll stick with the standard speakers until I find out what they can do. With luck the warranty won't have expired before I get chance to use the damn headset...

EDIT 050920

Did you spot it? The English summer, I mean. I think it was that 2-hour window from 5PM on the 3rd Tuesday in April. Luckily, Fraulein Sturgeon relented and allowed hotels to reopen just in time for our planned Scotland trip back in July and we had 4 days of typical Scots weather, which was more than compensated for by the roads being absolutely bloody deserted. You could have ridden naked, sat backwards and blindfolded and not met anything coming the other way! I wore out yet another rear tyre and have now switched to the Michelin Road 5; the front one will need replacing shortly so that'll be another order to Oponeo. As that Euro-separation that dare not speak its name will (supposedly) be completed at the end of this year it's reasonable to expect prices to rise so I'll grab a tyre sooner rather than later. It was also the first chance I had to try out the new Cardo headset and it seemed to work fine just listening to music and answering the odd phone call. Battery life appeared better than the Sena's. I still don't like the use of micro-USBs as charge sockets and I'm using the utmost care when connecting the lead.

Two of the clan subsquently bought Cardo Packtalk Bolds (one of them so that he could switch it between helmets, which you can't do easily with the Slim). They seamlessly connected in 'DMC' mode to each other and rapidly proved useful for passing warnings etc. with perfect clarity as long as you aren't travelling at Ludicrous Speed ((c) Spaceballs). However, we did have trouble with them dropping connection once out of range and then not automatically reconnecting as reliably as Cardo implied they should. You'll note a lot of this is in the past tense: Cardo issued a firmware update for the Packtalks which addressed the dropout issue and the reliability is now what you need it to be, so full marks for that. I don't tend to play music when riding in a group but when we were in Scotland I found I could get a day's riding out of a full charge with Messrs. Loaf, Jovi, Zeppelin and Floyd letting rip at my lugholes - mostly at full volume to overcome my earplugs. At least - says he, touching wood - the audio amps haven't gone pop yet. The effective range between two bikes seems to be a few hundred yards over open countryside, but add in typical British land contours, meandering roads, trees, bushes and drystone walls and it very quickly becomes line-of-sight; if you can't see the other guy, don't expect to hear each other. It's a feature of UHF radio frequencies, not a failing in the equipment; you could get further with more transmitter power but then you'd need bigger batteries, and that's leaving aside the hypothetical health risks from an aerial radiating next to your head... If you're unfamiliar with Cardo's Digital Mesh Communication, it links all riders in a group (up to 15) in a way that anyone can be heard by anyone else, by hopping the signal from headset to headset. So 15 bikes at 100 yard separation could in theory be spread over a mile and the guy at the front can hear the one at the back. If we ever find enough Cardo users to prove it, I'll let you know. More useful is the 'always-on' aspect; you don't have to waste time pressing buttons or issuing voice commands; just speak, there's rarely any extraneous wind roar or other stray noise picked up (unlike my old Autocom which could get deafening).

Right, I'm off to order a tyre...

UPDATE 280322

Good grief, almost two years have gone by since I last sat here and put fingers to keyboard regarding the ST1300. As I type, we're still stuck with Boris, Putin is doing his level best to start WW3 (and that fruitcake Kim isn't helping matters) and Covid is on the rise again. Which is a shame, because the chaps and I were looking forward to finally being unleashed once again on the roads of Europe on the holiday we've all been awaiting since 2020 (more accurately 2019!). The latest fly in the icecream is the great P&O balls-up, but with 8 weeks to go there's plenty of time to sort that out. Isn't there...? There was a further buggeration on my part which is that I've so far eschewed the vaccination programme: to my mind, if it doesn't stop you catching it or passing it on and merely minimises your personal suffering, it's of minimal benefit so I'll take my chances (I had it in November '20 thanks to a staff member who went on holiday and brought it back with him to spread around the office; it didn't kill any of us). Of course the rest of Europe insisted on bits of paper to prove you were drugged-up so I was having to weigh up how late I could leave having the first dose if I really wanted to go, versus sticking to my principles. As of March 23rd, Holland scrapped entry requirements for Brits so fingers crossed the trip is on :D We were supposed to be travelling via Zeebrugge but P&O scrapped that route last year, which they told us after they'd told us we had to pay extra to carry our booking forward. Anyway, watch this space...

As far as the bike itself is concerened, well, it's a Pan European. It just keep going. Currently on 73500 miles, and I'll have had it for 12 years in a few weeks. That's 52000 miles of mostly trouble-free riding. I don't tend to keep piles of service notes for the bike, unlike the TVR, but I'm sure I replaced the bearings in the cush drive plate last year. Once it hits 75000 I think I'll renew the front brake discs: I have a new pair I bought for the old ST13 in about 2008. They were cheap even then, because nobody in Britain had done enough miles on a '13 to have worn the discs out! Genuine Honda discs now are £££. I can't seem to find a new rear one and don't fancy the silly 'wavy' aftermarket nonsense, what the hell is that all about anyway? I may just find a used one in better condition and fit that - I suspect most of the ST's being broken will have lower mileage than mine.

The Cardo intercom has slowly worked its way into my acceptance zone; battery life is pretty good, connectivity is much better since the firmware upgrade mentioned earlier. As one of the other guys had gone for the JBL speakers option and he swore it was great, I coughed up almost 80 quid and bought the set to go with my Packtalk Slim. And... honestly? Leave the 80 quid where it is, the difference is not that great, despite what your mate tells you. On the subject of Cardo headsets, I've since bought some older models (the Rider and Q2). This is because my daughter, at the ripe old age of 30-something, decided she fancied giving a bike a try and did her CBT. That was swiftly followed by an Ebay bid on the world's scruffiest Yamaha YBR125. Someone on a forum was offering an old bike satnav and intercom for free, so I grabbed the Cardo Rider and fitted it to my daughter's helmet in order that I might offer sage advice as we trundled around country lanes together. At the same time, one of the ladies I work with happened to mention that she'd 'always wondered what it was like on the back of a bike' so one day I plonked a spare helmet on her desk and suggested she might like to find out. One thing led to another, in this case CBT and a Suzuki GN125 but before that, I'd acquired a used pair of Cardo Q2s and put one on my spare helmet. The other went on hers, initially so I could hear her when on the back, but another idea being that I might act as an escort while she made her first few wobbly forays. In the event, she went out early one morning and fell off, and although injury and bike damage was minor, we have yet to ride out. Then the daughter's husband decided that CBT might be a laugh, so now he spends more time on her bike than she does! Anyway, one of the trips I had with the lady from work was to a certain bike gear shop in Leeds, where she purchased a lovely new Schuberth C3 flip-front helmet. I decided I quite liked the look and feel of them, but couldn't quite justify another £400 lid when I had a perfectly good Shoei. What I then discovered was that the very shop we'd been in sells off ex-demo and marked kit through Ebay, and often it's at open auction with no reserve. That would explain why I now have a 'shop soiled' Schuberth C3 Pro flip-front - although the dayglo yellow isn't really my thing, I can't see it while I'm wearing it! It was just over £200 at auction, with the tiniest mark on the back of it, complete with Pinlock visor, bag and original box. Bargain - and Schuberth accepted the 6-year warranty registration as well. The second Cardo Q2 was quickly fitted to the C3 Pro, because I've discovered that the various generations of Cardo intercoms aren't as compatible as you might like. So the Packtalk will link to the old Rider first time, but takes some messing to get it to talk to the Q2, and although the Q2s mostly link up to each other you often have to wait a while, or press buttons in a certain sequence, while mixing the old Rider and Q2 is hit-and-miss at best. Incidentally, the same bike gear shop is responsible for the new Alpinestar gloves and Rukka jacket that seemed to have followed me home over the last year or so... :p I think some new boots will be in order soon: my 2006 Alpinestars have holes in the soles as well as chamfered corners from the ST's lack of round clearance. I really like them, but A-Star don't have a direct replacement in their range at the moment.

The latest 'upgrade' to the ST is a heated pillion seat :D I've been thinking about it for a while but couldn't seem to find a heating pad that was small enough to fit the bike seat; most of them are sold for car seats, of course. Eventually I found an Ebay seller flogging some for 11 quid a pair including postage, so I thought it was worth getting them to play with - the stated dimensions looked as though they might just be larger than the pillion pad in one direction. They appear to be made from two sheets of woven material - not exactly cloth, but not asbestos either (!) with the element being made from what looks like carbon fibres criss-crossing each other. It looks to me like they depend on body weight to compress the sheet so any fibres that are touching then conduct, which heats them up. With all the experiments I made to try and improve the rider's seat comfort, I'd bought a spare seat (or seats, if you prefer) years ago. I dug the spare pillion pad out of the loft, snipped the staples and peeled back the cover. To get a good fit I had to double over the pad by about an inch at the leading edge, which I don't think will upset it. The heating pad has double-sided sticky tape to secure it, so I squared-up the pad with the foam and pressed it into place. The connecting wire was led out through a drilled hole in the seat bottom and the cover stapled back on. You can just make out the edge of the heating pad and unfortunately I couldn't do anything to hide the connecting wires as they're evidently sewn-in to the pad and make a bit of a bulge near the rear of the seat, but the pillion shouldn't be able to feel anything, not casting aspersions about ladies' padding you understand... anyway, that was the hot bit taken care of, now how to control it? If you buy one of the Ebay car kits you get however many pads and a switch unit to control them. I already had a Roxter heated grip controller, you may recall, as I used the factory Honda controller to power the Roxter grips (which are still working after several years). This has 4 output levels and came with a bracket by which one might affix it to the clutch lever mount. I thought it would be more useful if it was within reach of the passenger so I modified (OK, bent) the bracket so that I could use a thread in the alloy plate I fitted to allow me to mount a Gopro camera on a telescopic mast, as described elsewhere on here. The controller is thus just behind the pillion, close enough to reach but not in the way for seat removal. It will however be in the way of the topbox but I rarely use that and if I need to, it'll probably be on a Euro-trip in warm weather so the heater won't be needed anyway. You'll note I haven't mentioned fitting a heat pad to the rider's seat: this is because I don't think the internal Airhawk cushion would approve! Either the neoprene would melt or the element temperature might cause the air to expand too much. I do of course have the spare rider's seat (actually the one that belonged to the bike originally, I think) so I'll measure up and see if the other heating pad can be made to fit. Then, of course, the controller will be in the wrong place...! I think a tidy option would be to obtain another of the factory heated grip controllers and fit it into the right-hand fairing to match the one in the left-hand side... but the price would have to be right, which is rarely the case on Ebay these days. The heating pads draw about 1.8A each which is near enough 20W at 12V, almost identical to the output of most grip heaters. The Roxter controller, unlike the Honda factory unit, has no memory. If you wire it to a switched feed (as you really should, because if you wire direct to the battery and then forget to turn it off...!) it goes off with that feed and doesn't automatically come back on, you have to press the power button again. I've taken the feed from the fuel pump relay, so if the engine's not running, the heater can't come on. The wiring is also heavier to that relay than to the ST's 'power' relay so I think it'll cope better with the extra load.

So... the clocks have gone forward, it's time to line Boris's pockets with more road tax and then... roll on summer '22!

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