We have been looking (not seriously) for over a year for a bike that we would both like to use to cover lots of miles on. A bike where after an hour you are able to stand up, straighten your legs and your knees work. This is not as simple as it sounds as I’m only around 5 foot 1 and my husband is over 6 foot 2.
We’ve cruised bike shops, attended bike shows and sat on several bikes that we thought ticked the boxes. Now for the rider most of the bikes we looked at fitted the bill. Nice screen for a bit of protection, comfortable sitting position, knees not too bent and arms at a natural width. However the pillion seat and position were always compromised. One your legs were too bent, even for a short arse, this just creates sore knees and cramp. Another the seat was too remote from the rider making the ability to move as one on the bike awkward and resulting in the pillion slamming the rider on braking if you are not fully vigilant. The worst one for the pillion had a seat that was shaped so that it put a pressure point straight through the long nerve on the back of the thighs. This was obvious sitting on it in the shop I dread to think how this would have been on a long trip.
We put our thoughts of this type of bike on hold, or so I thought until I received flowers at work. A lot of women (so I hear) think ‘he’s had an affair’, I automatically think ‘he’s bought a bike’. It turned out I was correct. He’s not known for being impulsive but on this occasion he bought a bike unseen from a dealer down south. A couple of weeks later we welcomed our Cagiva Navigator. It was duly unloaded and started outside the house and the delivery guys left. That day it was not taken for a ride due to other circumstances and when he tried to start it the next day it refused to start. Long story short, it was fitted with the wrong spark plugs. One simple change and it runs a wee treat.
This weekend was our first outing on it. Although I had been working on the bike doing checks and maintenance I had not realised the scale of it until I sat on it on Saturday morning. I felt like a child on a pony with no stirrups. Having been pillion for many years I very rarely use grab rails or hold on. The position on this bike was so alien that the first thing I did was to feel for a grab. I’m unsure of what I was using was designed for grabbing or is a mix of grab and holds for securing luggage. After 5 mins of feeling very insecure on the grab rail I worked out that I needed to turn my arm and grip from the opposite side, sort of twisting my arm. This worked very well and after 20 mins on the bike the need for the grab rail was removed as my body found the rhythm and movement of the bike.
One of the most important parts of the bike for me is the seat. The seat on this bike is massive without being too wide. It fitted me perfectly. No crazy drop from the pillion position to the rider, no sliding down a slope onto the rider. Just a firm but not too hard seat that felt secure.
As I have mentioned I’m vertically challenged and the new long reach to the rear pegs was a strange sensation. Normally I have enough of a bend in my leg that it pushes your foot on to the peg providing grip. On this bike I found that my feet were very gently placed on the pegs meaning I had to use a bit of effort to keep them there to begin with. This became more natural as the ride continued. The pegs themselves are huge, chunky and well covered in rubber, reducing the vibrations through your legs and creating a very comfortable ride.
On Saturday we took the bike on a test ride, to see how we both got on with the bike. Looking at how it handled for both the rider and the pillion. Being so pleased with the bike a packed lunch was made for the next day so we could try a longer run.
I picked a route to go up to Killin over to Pitlochry (there’s a good ice-cream shop there) then home but knowing Scotland and our ever changing weather I tend to keep our routes as flexible as I can. Riding from Stirling heading north it was very apparent that the weather going into the edges of the Trossachs was not in out favour. Within a matter of minutes the mountains were disappearing into the sheets of grey rain, being completely obscured. Even although we were wearing full waterproofs we decided purely for pleasure to stop off at Doune Castle (we are members of Historic Scotland) and have our lunch there. The roads in Doune were saturated and we had just missed a deluge. Whilst eating and touring the amazing building we made the decision to change route and follow the weather. The previous year we had attended a wedding in Fintry which was a place and area we had never explored. Now we had our chance. This was a route worth taking. The roads were quiet, winding and badly patched in places and the views were rather nice. It is a route we would take again and probably stop off at the reservoir and park that are at Carron Bridge.
Having spent the weekend on this bike I would happily spend more weekends on it. I’m hoping that later in the year we will use this bike to head for Caithness and Sutherland.