Cool kit « Craig Gibbons' Lifeblog

By: Gibbons  11-11-2011
Keywords: Rear View Mirrors, Sports Bike, House Purchase

Update 22:26: Showed it to some friends, they're sold.
Tip 1 Jun 2010: Use the Amazon Kindle reader and store. The catalog is bigger, the books are much cheaper and the reader is free and great.

Update 8 Mar 2011: I've sold my iPad to make way for an iPad 2. So long on old friend, it's been special. Amazon Marketplace ensured a sale within 90 minutes.

Fast forward a couple of years and the BMW is reluctantly up for sale, to make way for a house purchase and 18 long months later I’m back at the same juncture; lusting after another bike while enduring the indignity of a crowded bus journey during the 2 days of (illegal) strikes called by the RMT which brought the City of London to a standstill.

Having had the bike now for a few months and really having the chance to really know it, I can comprehensively say, I love it. It is a riding experience unlike any other.

Upon first starting the bike, the 984cc Thunderstorm engine rumbles into life almost the same instant the starter button is pressed. For the first few minutes, the engine feels a little rough and the rear view mirrors are ablur, but as it warms up, it becomes remarkably smooth for an engine of its type and size. Selecting first gear might feel a little strange for sports bike riders. There can be no doubt the gear has been selected, much like the 1200GS, the gear thunks into position like the closing of a luxury German car door and you’re ready to go. The power delivery is constant through the entire rev-range and at no time does the bike feel distressed. There is no ‘power band’ like you get on many other bikes, the engine spins up and pulls hard, all the way. The Buell is light and agile, it feels and handles like a scooter, but has all the brute-force of a superbike. This, along with the low-down torque, makes this bike ideal for city riding, but it’s also at home on winding roads or the motorway, as I recently discovered on a round-trip from London to Manchester, although the lack of a front fairing means you take a bit of a buffeting. Riding 2-up is the biggest surprise, and pleasantly so. Even on the mighty 1200GS, one can really feel a passenger, but on the Buell, it’s almost not noticeable. The front remains solid and deliberate, instead of light and twitchy. The back remains taught and responsive, instead of sunken and lethargic. Best of all, the engine just doesn’t care, it happily purrs along oblivious to the extra weight.

There are however a few negatives and it would be remiss to neglect to mention these. First, the controls and instrumentation are generally quite poor. The indicator switch looks like a throwback to the 80’s and the clocks yield little more information than speed and revs per minute. Attempts to operate with winter gloves yields butterfingeritis. Second, occasionally when pulling off from an idle, the engine will skip a beat and splutter. According to the guys at Warrs, it’s peculiar to this type of engine and in fairness, it happens infrequently and is easily controlled. Third, there is very little space for luggage. Perhaps this is not a legitimate complaint as the XB9SX is, after all, a streetfighter with an exceptionally short wheel base, but I like a bit of luggage for those days in the country (I know, I know… “cake and eat it”).

I look forward to many more days out with the Buell and future offerings from the Buell stable. Yup, this could very well be the start of something beautiful.

Every now and then I come across something so inspired, so cool and just so darn stylish that I can’t help but gaze blankly at it, pupils slightly dilated, sort of blushing, a bit shy… you know what I mean. Of course I have my old favourites like the , the , , the and of course my , but the following objects of desire have recently become known to me and I feel a responsibility to laud them shamelessly here as achievements of design and perfection of form. In no particular order…

Update: Yay! I collected my bike on April 17th.. and she is a beauty.

As a thank you for all my hard efforts finding and procuring a house, my wonderful Gemma has purchased me us the finest of toasters and a long time thing of obsession, the Dualit 3 Slice Combi Polished Stainless Steel Toaster. My friend Brian purchased a toaster of the same a few years back. At the time, I couldn't quite understand why anybody would spend quite so much money to toast bread, a task which, afterall, can be accomplished by just about anything, including a candle stick lighter, but of course the Dualit toaster is iconic, I would go so far as to say important, in the way the and  are iconic and important. It will make a perfect addition and a great start to the appliancing of our new house. Thanks Gem.

One of my fondest childhood memories is of eating ‘soldiers and boiled eggs’ for breakfast. We had these red plastic egg-cups, which upon reflection were really quite cool and retro. Course, back then retro didn’t exist, or not for me at that age anyway. Over the years all those soldiers must have gone into battle and never returned because I can’t recall the last time I had that for breakfast.

So, it was with great excitement that I jumped at the opportunity to make ‘soldiers and eggs’ for breakfast at Gemma’s request this past weekend. Just as I was doing a bit of Googling to ensure I was doing exactly the right thing to get the egg just the right combination of solid white with runny yellow it occurred to me, I have no egg-cups, problem! Nah, not really, Google knows all and so I set about trying to find the perfect egg-cup. Nowhere could I find a red plastic one, preferably one that holds two eggs, so another plan had to be made. After not much luck online and surprisingly, an equally unsuccessful land based search at Selfridges, I eventually plied myself to the task more fully and discovered in the end what I am certain is the perfect egg-cup, err, cube. The “egg-cube” is a minimalistic masterpiece of design from British designer Kathleen Hills, a rising star in the world of design and owner and operator of Mul+i-Design. For me, it is the perfect synthesis of form and function. Go Kathleen!

Growing up, I was forbidden from getting a 50cc upon turning 16, a decision I absolutely loathed at the time and my father for making it, but it didn't take long for my friends with the very same bikes I wanted to find themselves in hospital also, some of them still scarred today by violent impact with cars and the road surface, at least falling off a motocross bike onto dirt meant a solid bruising, but hardly ever much more than that.

Biking is for me a way of life, an essential element of joy and a tool of freedom. I have no doubt that there are several chapters yet to be written.

Let the touring begin!

Keywords: House Purchase, Indicator Switch, Rear View Mirrors, Sports Bike, Starter Button,

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