Tag Archives: SW Motech

Tigers to Munich (Epilogue to the Epilogue 26th April 2012)

First Posted July 2011

This year’s bike holiday to Germany, France and Spain for three old friends seemed to be in trouble as Marco (flying in from India to his cousin Enzo’s place in Munich) didn’t have a bike to ride in the right part of Europe. Vincent decided to sort it quite simply by buying a used Tiger 1050 from Bulldog Triumph in Winnersh and shipping it out to Munich where the tour was scheduled to start.

Given the costs of shipping and the fact that Vincent would be riding out from his home in Wokingham, he happened to say to me one day “You don’t fancy riding it out to Munich with me do you Steve?”

So the bright blue Tiger 1050 with full Triumph luggage, R&G bungs, radiator covers, big foot (see later) and super halo lamps left Bulldog on Thursday morning with Vincent (Black Tiger 1050, race can, Trax panniers, satnav – more later – and trick suspension) en route to Folkestone to catch train to Calais.

Do you think those panniers will fit through the gate?

Two Triumph Tiger 1050s just leaving for Munich

The M25 was appalling, with heavy rain, poor visibility and suicidal drivers who seem to believe that 90 mph is OK when you can only see 20 yards into the spray and that the space between our bikes is just the place to dive into when performing the obligatory undertakes (“why are these bloody bikers going so slowly?”…). Mad. All of them.

Still, the services on the M20 served up some hot coffee, the rain stopped and we hopped on the train with just 4 other bikes.

Once the other side, a short 100 mile blat to Gent in Belgium as it was getting dark, to find a hotel and get ready for a long day on Friday.

We woke to clear skies and the promise of high 20’s temperatures in Germany later in the day (they were right) and left early. The satnav said 14:30 arrival for 400 miles (pah!)

Riding the motorways in Europe is quite interesting as you pass from region to region and country to country without really noticing. Riding from France to Belgium the previous day, I had nearly missed the little blue “Belgique” sign but did notice that the 90%/10% split of French/Belgian cars had suddenly switched to 90%/10%  Belgian plates. Did all the French guys turn back? Once in Belgium, I couldn’t help but notice the abrupt change from Flemish road signs to French roadsigns.

Crossing into Germany is different (of course). For a start, all the trucks have to stop and buy a ticket. We should do that here if you ask me…

I have driven reasonably regularly in Germany (in a car) but this was my first time on a bike. They don’t mess about on the unrestricted sections. I thought 160kph/100mph was fast until I went there! Unfortunately, they suffer from the same problems as every other country when they get busy. The trucks stay in lane 1, the “slow guys” stay in lane 2 (most of the time) and the “fast guys” (thats the other 90% of the traffic) thinks that driving 2 metres behind the guy in front will force them to move over. You need good reflexes and good brakes. Bikes have an inherent advantage in the ability to accelerate faster than anything on four wheels but loose out ultimately when speeds get high. I saw 180kph at times but that was as fast as I was prepared to travel.

I was cruising along in the 150’s thinking what a great country Germany was, when we came to Frankfurt…  However efficient the Germans may be, they still manage lane 3 shunts during the afternoon rush and filtering (which is actually illegal in Germany) with wide panniers is very tiring. Vincent’s Trax panniers were wider than my Triumph kit so I just followed him…

Having made good progress, we decided that the green bits of the map and bendy roads would make a nice change so turned off the autobahn.

You know when you are riding along into the evening sun, following the guy who not only has the map and the satnav, but the address of the ultimate destination and you are thinking “why are we going West?” We were heading for Munich which is SE of Frankfurt, but Mr Garmin he have different ideas…  I’m absolutely certain that we rode past the same service area three times…  and filtered through that traffic jam twice for good measure…

We arrived at Enzo’s at 20:30 after 504 miles and 12.5 hours on the road to be greeted by hearty handshakes, lots of beer and a slap up BBQ. What a great day!

The bike was brilliant. To be honest, I don’t think I could have ridden my Sprint 955 so far without hurting wrists and neck. The Tiger is really comfy, really fast, easy to ride to a standstill and I could have kept going all night. If it was my bike, I’d have adjusted the gear lever as it was too far down for me and made my left leg ache after a while. I didn’t want to screw up the settings for the new owner though (he can adjust it if he wants).

Vincent & Enzo


A Short Divagation (look it up…)

The Tiger was fitted with an alloy pad to enlarge the base of the sidestand, presumably to help when parking on soft ground. I decided to call it “Big Foot” as I’ve no idea what they are called in reality.

If it was my bike I’d remove it as it forces the bike into a more upright position when parked on the sidestand and with heavy luggage, I was very careful with it!  We didn’t go offroad or even park on anything soft so a useless acessory for a “Roadie” really…

Biking over – now to the Airport!

I thought I’d add this bit as Enzo gave us a lesson in how Germans (OK he’s South African but has lived there for 15 years) drive on unrestricted autobahns. We set off in his Audi Q7 and proceeded the 200 kms to Munich Airport at speeds of up to 225 kph (that’s about 140 mph if I am correct). Even then he was moving over to let faster traffic pass. This is the fastest I have ever been on or in any road vehicle and (as a passenger) it was pretty scary!

As I am writing this, Vincent, Enzo (R1200GS) and Marco will be heading for Monaco – I wish I was with them!


In Memorium

I discovered on my return that the blue Tiger 1050 was previously owned by Gordon Cousland of Earley in Reading. Gordon was killed in the Moscow Airport suicide bombing in January 2011.

I didn’t know him but would like to think that he would approve of his Tiger being used for European touring and on behalf of the three friends, I would like to dedicate their trip to his memory.


Epilogue: 3rd-Feb-2012

I was so impressed by the Tiger that I spent the next 9 months saving my pennies and am now the proud owner of this 56-plate gold 1050

Triumph Tiger 1050

Epilogue to the Epilogue: 26th April-2012

Sadly, I must report that Vincent passed away this last Monday after a long fight with cancer. He was my best biking buddy, friend and all round “good bloke”. He will be sadly missed.

SW Motech Rack Problems (Updated 25/02/12)

This thread was started in April 2009.

We’ve all heard apocryphal stories about people who overload their rear carrier and break it. The recommended weight limits do seem to very low and very easily exceeded…

I bought an SW Motech rear carrier and Givi Monokey adapter plate for my Triumph Sprint ST because it looked good and exuded typical German quality of design and manufacture. It wasn’t cheap, with the rack (“Alu-Rack”) coming in at £92.32 and the adapter plate at £25.99 both from Bykebitz in Yateley. This was in April 2007.

The rack fixes to the mounting holes left when you remove the passenger grab rail with some very nice hex bolts.

Here’s what I mean:

SW Motech L/H Bracket

SW Motech L/H Bracket

SW Motech R/H Bracket

SW Motech R/H Bracket

SW Motech Alu-Rack on Sprint ST

SW Motech Alu-Rack on Sprint ST

Givi Monokey Adapter Plate

Givi Monokey Adapter Plate

Givi Box Mounted

Givi Box Mounted

The posted weight limit for this setup is 7.5kg

Skip forwards 18 months and I spent 6 months commuting to St Albans which was 50 miles each way (M4/M25/A405). This included carrying a backpack containing my laptop (and my lunch).

The Givi box weighs 4.1kg empty, my backpack containing the items above weighs in at 7.3kg, a grand total of 11.4kg – just a bit over the posted limit then…

One Saturday morning, whilst washing my bike (as you do), I noticed that the box moved up and down very easily – in fact, you could say it looked loose. Loose it was. Actually, the rack had broken on both sides and the whole thing was only held on by a 1/2″ section of steel bracket… (oops!)

Luckily, a local farmer is pretty handy with a welder (he does keep 3 CX500s and an old Royal Enfield / Indian on the road). He welded them up and I was good to go.

For a few weeks.

Another “flappy Givi” experience (this time with photos):

Broken Brackets (rust is from previous welding job)

Broken Brackets (rust is from previous welding job)

Left Hand Bracket

Left Hand Bracket

Right Hand Bracket

So I stumped up the courage (and the money), went down to Bykebitz and ordered two replacement brackets:

Old vs New

Old vs New

Lovely (expensive) New Brackets

Lovely (expensive) New Brackets

The cost: a mere £54.48 …. (where’s the “gulp” smiley when you need it?)

Anyway. Back, fitted and touring now. I haven’t (can’t) reduce the weight of what I carry, so this story may still have another chapter…

Update 14/12/09: So Far So Good…

The Givi/SW Motech combo is now fitted to my third Sprint ST with no ill effects (so far). I’ve just bought a Givi E52 box which will fit two full-face helmets (and allow me to overload it even more!).

E52 arrives after Christmas.

I will keep an eye on it.

Update 16-January-2012: More Problems

Two years later. Tours of France and Ireland. Sprint ST #4 (a black one this time), and it’s happened again!

Two different problems this time. Firstly, the box is loose on the adaptor plate, largely due to the fact that the “top hat” fittings have worn their way through the cutouts in the plastic on the base of the Givi.

This is the Givi rack and plate from my Honda VFR800. You can see the two “fingers” that fit into the slots in the base of the box.

SW Motech do it differently:

SW Motech Givi Adaptor FixingThis “tophat” slots into the underside of the Givi box (Note that this picture shows the new modified part – more later). Over time and about 20k miles, this has worn the plastic slots in the box:

Givi Topbox Worn Out FixingYou can see the wear around the end of the slot. This caused to box to flap up and down (causing more wear!). I’m sure that any mechanical engineers reading will be familiar with this (I wasn’t) but the soft part can actually wear the hard part (as well as the other way round). Here’s a picture of the old part next to the new one that was fabricated by my neighbour:

Old vs New SW Motech Givi Adaptor FixingsYou can clearly see the worn aluminium on the left hand part.

Luckily I have a very clever neighbour who is pretty handy with a lathe and he made me up a couple of replacement parts. The are larger than the originals to take up the slack in the worn box.

So far, they fit well and have (mostly) stopped the movement of the topbox.


As I had a broken rear light, I decided to remove the rack and the rear fairing, only to find that the “new” SW Motech rack was cracking in exactly the same place as before:

SW Motech Broken (Again) LHS

Cracked bracket (Left Hand Side)

SW Motech Broken (Again) RHS

Cracked bracket (Right Hand Side)

SW Motech Rack Broken (Again)

Cracked Bracket from Underside

Again, mechanical engineers will probably spot this as an example of a stress fracture. Do I remember from somewhere that Royal Navy engineers redesigned the hatches on their warships to stop this? Nice sharp corners = concentration of stress = fracture

What would be wrong with some nice smooth curves…  ?

So now I’m faced with a choice of replacing them again or switching to a (better designed?) alternative system. I will forward this to the guys at SW Motech and see what they say. They still make these racks (4 years on) so must believe that they are OK.


Box refitted and a close eye being kept on the cracks. But it still moves up and down!

Update 25/02/12: … and this is why

The adaptor plate is fitted to the rack with three quick release clips which are very useful for switching plates (never done it) or removing the whole thing (once) – unfortunately, these fixings are not as robust as good old-fashioned bolts…

Here’s the SW Motech rack from underneath:

SW Motech rack - undersideAnd here is the offending fastener:

Camloc fastener V50R3You can see that the seating is worn. The effect of this is to allow the rear of the box to move up and down.

Ordered a new part. Naturally you have to buy the whole fastener which comes in a natty bag from SW Motech in Germany (even though it’s made in China). The cost? £6…

Looking closely at the part and Googling, I discover that it is actually made by Camloc (Part number V50R3-1-1) and can be found on their website. Download the pdf for full details.

Unfortunately, you can’t buy online direct from the manufacturer. Clicking the “Buy Online” link on their website merely lists their three UK distributors who, even though Camloc insist that they offer “our full range of products and accessories“, do not list these parts (and don’t have very helpful “Search” facilities).

I’ve paid my £6 so will fit my replacement part, but if anyone else out there gets any further with buying these, let me know!

Triumph Sprint STealth – White Van saga now closed

I have replaced my “White Van” Sprint ST with this black beauty:

Sprint STealth

I have had three Tornado Red Sprints over the last 4 years and decided to go for something a little different. Black was only available for two years (1999-2000) and although you see them around, this one lived in Kent and had only 9,955 miles on the clock with a full service history, MOTs, the lot.

I rode it home through what the weathermen had warned as a  “severe weather warning” – it was certainly severe; picking your way between/around the standing water on the M2 and M20.

Funny thing is, by the time I got to the M25/M3 junction, the sun was shining and there hadn’t seemed to have been any rain all day.

I have fitted the SW Motech Rack and Givi box and the TOR race can and my local dealer has checked the current map (well out of date) and uploaded the TOR map.

Jobs to do:

  • Front brake is soft and squeals – suspect pad contamination as the previous owner kept the bike well sprayed with WD40 to protect against corrosion
  • Fit heated grips (no rush)
  • Fit Givi touring screen and bar risers (again, no rush as this one seems perfectly comfortable as it is)
  • Fit rear fender extender

Done the rear fender extender and the front brake. Now I’m filthy. How is it that servicing brakes is such a dirty job?