Scotland’s North Coast 500 (NC500) – In 2 Days (Day 1/4)

North Coast 500 : Scotland : NC500

Disclaimer : Having completed the Wild Atlantic Way in under a week I thought a reasonable time period to complete the North Coast 500 would be two days. However you will notice that this ride report actually covers four days – so what’s that about? Well it’s simply about travel. One day to get to the start and one day takes me home. So really it’s a four day trip to Scotland, during which I completed the NC500 in two.

Download the NC500 GPS File Here : http://www.tbni.blog/downloads/North-Coast-500.gpx

Day 1 : 29/07/2016 : Two of us set off on this journey, myself on my 2014 BMW F800GS Adventure, my mate on his Kawasaki ZX10R. Yep an adventure bike and a sports bike are heading to the Highlands.

The day starts of at Belfast heading to Cairnryan on the 07:30 am ferry. At 07:30 am the most important thing is breakfast and at £10.00 for a fry I am expecting a great breakfast. Nope – not great at all. It tasted alright but the portions were beyond miserable. The beans consisted of 3 lonely individuals drowning in a sea of watered down tomato sauce. One good point is that if you buy a cup of tea / coffee your refills are free. Maybe the £10 fries subsidise the hot drinks bill?

Here are a few tips for this ferry :

1. Get a McD’s breakfast on the way to the boat.

2. Sit in the bar – not the restaurant. FIFA on an xBox was in the bar.

3. Find someone a bit secluded on the boat – the bodies (by the time you move off) will be strewn about everywhere, the noises are like when zombies fall asleep with a sinsus infection. People really need to try sleeping the night before their journey!

On a plus note through the weather was glorious! My fingers were crossed it stays this way!

NC500 : Belfast - Cairnryan Ferry
NC500 : Belfast – Cairnryan Ferry

Read moreScotland’s North Coast 500 (NC500) – In 2 Days (Day 1/4)

2017 Motorcycle Live Review – MCL in a Day – from Northern Ireland

Motorcycle Live is probably the UK’s biggest Motorcycle Show and follows closely on the heels of the big European shows – as such it is normally the first opportunity that we in the UK get to look at all the goodies the manufacturers are planning on bring out in 2018.

That makes it a pretty exciting show for UK bike fans.

Coming from Northern Ireland though it is quite a trek to get to, and it means a really early start to get the most out of the day.

I have been going over for a good few years and I had pretty much perfected the routine of getting up early getting to Belfast for a 7.30 am flight – getting into Birmingham, getting fed and getting into the event for the doors opening at 10.00 am. The flights would have cost about £70 for the return fare – Motorcycle Live and a Programme is about £30 so all in it was about £100 for the day.

This year though I went a little different. I was able to pick up flights for £19.98 for the return with Ryanair – then the £30 for the show and programme meaning the full day was costing a mere £50 ish. The only trade off was the start time and travelling.

The flight was at 6.55 am so I had to get up at 3.00 am and head to Dublin Airport. That got me in at about 7.40 am. So 2 hours 20 minutes before the show starts. Then it was time for my best kept secret. Off the plane and up the stairs in the Airport for a Frankie and Benny’s breakfast. Every year everyone hurries off the plane and rushes to the adjoining NEC – I however go upstairs, sit down and enjoy a tasty breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs (the eggs by the way are outstanding). That was my plan this year as well although it now seems that this well kept secret has been rumbled – half the damn plane went! However the most important thing remains – the eggs were outstanding!

With breakfast eaten and thoroughly enjoyed it was still only 08.30 am. An hour and a half until the doors open, so bring a book, magazine, iPad or whatever to pass the time, or if like me you like a little flutter you could always check out the casino at the Genting Arena, about 5 minutes of a walk will take you to it from the NEC – so hop on the fun little monorail and zip over to the NEC and pass the time.

Before we even consider going any further here is the most important tip for the day :

Bring your Driving Licence.

I forgot mine!

Read more2017 Motorcycle Live Review – MCL in a Day – from Northern Ireland

Griffin Survivor Extreme : iPhone X Case – Unboxing and Review

Griifin Survivor Extreme iPhone X
Griifin Survivor Extreme iPhone X

Another iPhone and another chance for Griffin to produce a new version of their hugely popular, successful and extremely protective Survivor Case.

In fact the traditional Survivor Case is now actually a range of cases. There is a Survivor Extreme, Survivor Strong, Survivor Clear, Survivor Prime, Survivor Fit and coming soon there is a Survivor All-Terrain. With the exception of the latter the above list goes from most rugged to least. Least by the way does not mean none, the survivor fit is tested for a 2.1 metre drop so is certainly no slouch.

This review though focuses on the Griffin Survivor Extreme.

I managed to pick this up off Amazon at a bargain £21, the RRP being £47 on the Griffin website and Amazon are now selling it for closer to the £40 mark.

It arrived next day (thank you Prime) and I was excited to get at it. I have used a Griffin Survivor before, although I think it was about the era of my iPhone 5. I remember it as a proper rugged case, I had no issues whatsoever with it, it really is remembered fondly.

Griffin Survivor Range iPhone 5
Griffin Survivor Range iPhone 5

Look at that range – it was a great case and I remember correctly – it was the case I got for my iPhone 5 on release day :

http://tbni.blog/2012/09/22/griffin-survivor-iphone-5-unboxing-and-initial-thoughts-and-reviews/

In fact after a little searching I was even rocking one of these on my iPhone 4 :

http://tbni.blog/2012/08/23/griffin-survivor-iphone-44s-case-thoughts-and-photos/

But times have changed – we are now at the iPhone X, my needs haven’t really changed though – I still need a good rugged case and when I seen this Griffin Survivor Survivor Extreme (especially at the price I paid) I thought my problems were solved.

Read moreGriffin Survivor Extreme : iPhone X Case – Unboxing and Review

iPhone X : A Week Later

iPhone X - 3rd November 2017
iPhone X – 3rd November 2017

Rather than do an unboxing video or solo gallery of the new iPhone X I have decided to combine a gallery with my initial thoughts and a very short term review.

I have had the iPhone X a week, having been lucky enough to get one on release day (3rd November 2017), and I’ll be straight up – I am impressed.

I’ll also be honest – it is damned expensive!  A 256 GB model will set you back £1149 and if you want AppleCare it’s another £199 – so thats £1348 for a phone with 2 years piece of mind!  If you dont want piece of mind just throw your eyes over this repair price list – it may (or may not) sway your decision on AppleCare.  Personally I get AppleCare on all my Apple devices – (something I have never actually had reason to use) whether you do or not is obviously a personal choice however at these prices some sort of insurance seems like a no-brainer.

iPhone X Screen and Repairs Pricing
iPhone X Screen and Repairs Pricing

Full details on AppleCare – what it covers, and what it doesn’t and how much you pay can be found here : https://support.apple.com/en-gb/iphone/repair/service/pricing

Read moreiPhone X : A Week Later

Quick Review : TI Ballpoint – Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus

I have reviewed a few pens on this site and pens are one of my frequent searches on crowd funding sites.  So when you couple a pen with Titanium, I am instantly interested.

This was however an eBay find, but I believe it started its life on Kickstarter as a Titanium pen that accepts 35 refills without any modification.  A plug and play pen : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/klinkokids/ti-ballpoint-pen-stylus-refill-friendly-titanium-p

TI Ballpint Pen Accepts over 35 Refills
TI Ballpint Pen Accepts over 35 Refills

It was well funded back in 2014 – looking $10,000 and ending up with over $38,500.

If you got in early enough you could have picked up the early bird at $59.  They currently sell for about $75 on their website.

I picked mine up for an absolute bargain price of £15 – brand new and unused on eBay!  Result!

Read moreQuick Review : TI Ballpoint – Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus

Alpine Hearing Protection : MotoSafe : Review

I think pretty much every motorcyclist now accepts that hearing protection is an essential piece of kit.

For years it was a very neglected part of motorcycle safety, however now we are well aware of the dangers of prolonged exposure to loud noises. In fact some reports state that a mere 30 minutes of exposure to motorcycle engine noise is dangerous enough to potentially cause long term damage to a person’s ears.

Being honest though I came a little late to the hearing protection idea.

However since starting using hearing protection I have been using or rather trying out a lot of different options, from disposables to a pretty expensive custom fitted set of ear plugs and struggled to find my ideal set. I found the disposables pretty good – however they tended to work their way out of my ear over a pretty short period of time. Comfort wise I found them spot on, but there isn’t much point in wearing something that doesn’t stay in your ear.

Then take the custom made ear plugs. I got these in work so didn’t personally fork out for them – thankfully. I have no doubt they offer top class protection however they are so uncomfortable that they actually verge on painful – and that pain comes quickly, maybe after an hour or two my ears and head are thumping.

Then I have tried numerous reusable options -which all have a similar look to this reviewed product :

Read moreAlpine Hearing Protection : MotoSafe : Review

Product Review : R&G ShockTube

I have been using a R&G Shocktube now for many years, firstly on my 2014 BMW F800GS Adventure, and now on my 2010 BMW R1200GS Adventure.  When I changed the bike late last year it was one of the first accessories I purchased, in fact having rode the bike home it didn’t go out onto road again until the front and rear shocks had received a coating of ACF-50 and were safely wrapped up in a ‘Shocktube.’

‘Why?’ I hear you ask…

Read moreProduct Review : R&G ShockTube

RoadSkin Paranoid Hoodie – Long Term Review

Date of Purchase : June 2016

Mileage Covered : c 7000 miles

Price at Time of Purchase : £99 with armour (RRP £129)

Current Price : £129 with armour

Weblink : http://www.roadskin.co.uk/shop/fully-lined-paranoid-hoodie-with-pockets-for-back-elbow-shoulder-armour/

RoadSkin Paranoid Hoody - Inside - Fully Lined
RoadSkin Paranoid Hoody – Inside – Fully Lined

Whilst at the Isle of Man TT Races in 2016 I called into the Roadskin pop-up store in Douglas and picked myself up a couple of bits of kit, namely a pair of their jeans and one of these hoodies.  The hoody at the time was on special offer at £99 including the armour – a saving of £30.

I had fancied such an item for quite some time.  Something lighter than the usual motorcycle jacket, something a bit more casual for when you are off the bike and something that still offered some protection.  The problem was the hoodies that I had seen seemed to offer two out of my three requirements, the one that seemed to be always missed was the protection – probably the only one that actually matters!

Read moreRoadSkin Paranoid Hoodie – Long Term Review

ArenaCross UK Visits Belfast’s Odyssey Arena 28/01/2017

2017 ArenaCross UK Tour
2017 ArenaCross UK Tour
2017 ArenaCross UK Tour

On January 27 & 28th 2017 the ArenaCross UK Tour graced Belfast’s Odyssey Arena for two rounds of the UK Competition.  With everyone from 7 year old kids to Europe’s finest indoor Motorcross Racers and a ridiculously skilled Freestyle Team this really is a high octane, completely flat out show from start to finish – and it’s a format that works and this is its fifth year on the bounce in Belfast – and my second.

Check out the official website here for all the results, upcoming events, news and photos… http://www.arenacrossuk.com

Read moreArenaCross UK Visits Belfast’s Odyssey Arena 28/01/2017

Isle of Man TT 2016 : Day 3 – Isle of Man Motor Museum

As mentioned on my Isle of Man 2016 : Day 3 post I visited the Isle of Man Motor Museum.  Quite simply this is an outstanding collection of motor vehicles that is well worth a visit the next time you are on the island.

The Isle of Man Motor Museum
The Isle of Man Motor Museum

The Museum was founded and funded by father and son team Denis and Darren Cunningham to act as the public home for their collection of over 130 vehicles.  The Museum also hosts over 150 other vehicles on loan from other enthusiasts and collectors.

The Isle of Man was chosen as the location for the Museum due to the unique place the Island occupies in motoring and motorsports history. The Island is the motorcycle road racing capital of the world and has hosted the famous TT races on the public roads annually since 1907. The Southern 100 and the Festival of Motorcycling are also fantastic opportunities to see road racing here.

For 2016, the Museum is proud to host the Joey Dunlop Collection featuring many of his trophies, leathers and race machines. Joey is the most successful TT competitor of all time with 26 victories to his name earning him the title “King of The Mountain”.

Rallying and enduro are also a huge part of motorsport on the Isle of Man and the Museum features a Ford Zephyr which competed in the London-Sydney Marathon rally and World Enduro Championship winning KTMs from local hero David “Knighter” Knight OBE.

Read moreIsle of Man TT 2016 : Day 3 – Isle of Man Motor Museum