Bikesure stepped in to save the day when a charity motorcycle rally to the famous Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp needed a Great Escape of its own.
The team of riders making a pilgrimage to the camp made famous in the film starring Steve McQueen were left high and dry when their insurer pulled out with just one week before their departure date.
But Bikesure agreed to provide cover free of charge for the seven Triumph Bonneville bikes, which set off from the former RAF Biggin Hill airport on Saturday, June 4.
The rally, which aims to raise more than £10,000 for Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion, was organised by serving Metropolitan Police officer Peter Spowage, who admitted to bursting into tears when underwriter Robert Balls agreed, in a telephone call, to cover the bikes.
“I hardly slept a wink over the bank holiday weekend,” said Peter. “I’d put the past two years of my life into this project and now it was in real danger of not going ahead.
“Then I took that wonderful call from Rob, and it was just unbelievable – I’m 54 years of age but I’ve no problem saying that I burst into tears. Bikesure literally saved the day.”
Mr Balls said the broker was delighted to help out, adding: “Our friends at insurers Groupama gave us a very competitive rate and we’re happy to cover the cost to help ensure that as much of the funds raised as possible goes to Help for Heroes and the Royal.”
But, as Peter said, the journey is about much more than seven bikers on a jaunt across Europe. In February this year Private Conrad Lewis, the son of one of the team’s sponsors, was killed in action in Afghanistan.
“This is not about me or about the guys riding the bikes, this is about remembering those officers who were killed in the escape, and about Conrad and all the other young men and women who are killed or injured in the current wars,” he added.
The journey will be especially poignant for Colin Kirby-Green, whose father was shot after successfully breaking out of the camp in March 1944. Mr Kirby-Green has never visited his father’s grave, and will also visit the town of Hrabuvka in the Czech Republic where his father and fellow escapee, Canadian airman Gordon Kidder, were recaptured and executed.
And finally, this takes me back to watching this great film as a child:
All the motorsport fans out there will already have been following the TT build-up on the TV, waiting with bated breath for the start of qualification and racing at the legendary Isle of Man TT races, which kick off in earnest today.
This year, Bikesure were offered the chance to sponsor the TV coverage of the TT, and we’ve jumped at the chance, helping to ensure that this year’s coverage on ITV4 remains as comprehensive and beautiful as ever.
TT highlights are on ITV4 and ITV4HD (Channel 120 on Sky) every night at 9pm (and 10pm on +1) from Friday 3rd June to Saturday 11 June, simulcast at itv.com and with catch up via ITV Player. Repeats will be around lunchtime of the following day, so there is no excuse for missing out on one of the highlights of the motorsport calendar.
To commemorate the occasion, Bikesure have published a special edition of influx magazine, celebrating the past, present and future of the Tourist Trophy at bikesure.co.uk/tt
If you haven’t seen our sponsorship bumpers yet, you can view one below, but watch tonight at 9pm, because it looks awesome in HD, and there’s the small matter of the most exciting bike races in the world.
Bikesure 10 second IOMTT
With hundreds of different models out there every biker should be able to find their perfect machine. But it’s not just about speed, manoeuvrability and ride: what about costs? Specifically, what about insurance costs? It’s perfectly possible to buy a bike and then have to fork out twice as much (or more) per year on insuring it.
Here the boffins at Bikesure, the freethinking motorbike insurance broker, offer a list of some decent bikes that won’t cost an arm and a leg to insure.
Japanese giant Honda is the biggest bike manufacturer in the world. The CB600 Hornet is a relatively cheap bike to insure and, according to motorcyclenews.com, it’s fun, easy to ride and offers great handling. The Hornet’s Nest is the home of the Hornet owners’ club and has loads of advice and information.
Other Honda bikes that are relatively cheap to insure include the 250 Superdream and the CB450.
Suzuki fans on an insurance budget should check out the GSF600 Bandit. Released in ’95, the first major changes were made in 2000 and include a bigger petrol tank and new steering geometry. Don’t let the relatively low insurance costs deceive you: according to Visor Down this is ‘a superb bike’ that spawned a host of imitators.
Kawasaki claims their ER-5, a 500cc naked commuter bike, offers ‘amazing fuel economy’. That’s a budget win-win when you add in its cheap insurance costs. If you have any questions then Bikers Oracle runs an owners club with an active
forum that may be able to help.
Bikers after a cheap-to-insure cruiser will find that the Yamaha XV535 and XV650 both fit the bill. There’s a selection of tourer spares and accessories for them at Motorbikes&Parts, a site that also offers a loyalty scheme which gives up to 20% discount.
Hog fans can find a cheap to insure machine in the Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster. In production for over 50 years, it’s a great looking bike with bags of pedigree. The Sportster.org site has a wealth of information for owners, including tens of
thousands of pictures, and a great tech section filled with essential maintenance tips. Once you’ve bought the bike, Jersey Harley-Davidson offers spares at VAT-free prices for online purchasers.
When it comes to insuring your motorcycle, the way to get the best price is to look around. It’s often worth ringing, too, as a good broker can be better at cutting costs than a computer programme. Whether you search around online or on the phone, be sure to ask Bikesure for a quote.
Greatest Road app for iPhone or iPod touch (http://greatestroad.com/) helps bikers worldwide find, rate, share and comment on sweet roads. Open the app, move and zoom the map to an area you’re interested in, and the app shows road stretches nearby. All roads and comments are added by other bikers. You can email directions to other bikers with iPhones, or send a gpx file to yourself or others to install the route on your dedicated GPS device.
Daniel, the creator has got in touch to let us know of some exciting new developments with the latest version, Greatest Road 2.0, which integrates with Apple’s Notifications so that at various points in the app you can keep track of what’s happening with the routes you like.
Customers get an alert whenever a comment or rating is added to a favorite route, one they’ve commented on previously, or one they’ve added.
He says “Now that we have the app wired up with Notifications we’ll be experimenting with other ways to strengthen the “speaking with your buddies” feel.”
You can get the app through iTunes via http://bit.ly/GRgetit and the app is available in English, German, Italian and French.
But that’s not even the best bit, because, for a limited period, the app is being offered completely free of charge. This is the kind of app that the biking scene could really do with, and it needs a thriving user community to do well, so if you like the idea of exchanging great ride-outs with other bikers, and you have an iPhone, you need to download the app now!
I just wish there were an Android version…
Here are some more details from their press kit
Greatest Road helps motorcycle riders find and stay updated on the best roads based on recommendations from other bikers. Pick an area on the map and see all the good stretches right in front of you. Other bikers provide comments and star ratings of the road based on criteria such as Fun, Scenic, Curves, etc.
Add your own route in minutes or add comments or star ratings to what’s already there. Post your favorites on Facebook. Email the ride to friends with iPhones, iPads, iPod touches or even just standalone GPSes. Export *any* route to TYRE or other computer software that uses GPX!
Want to find a new place to ride this weekend? Going on a road trip? Visiting other parts of the country or world? This app works anywhere you can see a map and get directions in the built-in Maps app worldwide.
When you’ve picked a stretch to ride, a single tap switches you over to the built-in Maps application to help you navigate along the way. Support for other navigation apps will be added over time. Greatest Road is not a competitor to the great, in-motion, navigation apps available on the App Store. It is complementary, helping you to choose the right place to go before hitting the road.
Essex County Council have launched a funky new viral game aimed at helping draw motorists attention to the many and various hazards that exist out on the road.
The new Drive Essex site gives drivers a chance to test their powers of perception and score big points for avoiding the various obstacles, dangers and situations that present themselves. It is well worth playing the game, as it may surprise you how easy it is to miss a potentially lethal hazard.
One factor that players consistently miss, according to the developers, is the presence of a motorcycle in their rear view mirror. With that in mind, it may well be worth forwarding to friends – perhaps missing a biker in this simulation will be a wake-up call for some drivers and help them spot their fellow road users more easily.
And for those of us who are bikers, it should serve as a reminder that high-visibility clothing, daylight running lights, and anything that helps motorists spot you is worth any ensuing embarrassment.
Charity events are a great way to get people working together, perhaps try something different and raise money for a worthy cause. Nowadays, with the ease of communication and the chance to travel just about anywhere, the opportunities to raise money are endless.
This presents motorbikers with the best of both worlds- combining the passion for two-wheeled travel with fundraising. Here Bikesure talks about some impressive fundraisers and ways to get involved with motorbike charity fundraising.
Every year in December there are charity toy runs held throughout the country. These originated in Stoke-On-Trent in 1978 and the basic premise is to collect toys which are then taken to local charities, on motorbikes, and distributed to children who otherwise wouldn’t get presents. This is often followed by a celebratory evening which serves to raise more money.
Another way of fund raising is through sponsored rides, such as the Red Arrows who, in October 2010, rode 1000 miles from Lands End to John o Groats in just 4 days. Appropriately, the pilots rode on red Vespas.
The staff here at Bikesure also got riding for charity, with 4 staff members taking part in Monkey Business 2010. It involved travelling over 300 miles around Yorkshire on 125cc monkey bikes.
As well as this in February 2010 actor Danny-John Jules, most famous for playing the cat in cult classic Red Dwarf, rode a gruelling 7000 miles across Europe in aid of Sport Relief. This was taken up as a challenge from the Iron Butts Association -
Danny, with endurance rider Graham Hoskins, rode through 3 continents and 17 countries in just 16 days.
If you feel like experiencing you own motorbike adventure whilst also raising money for a great cause then take a look at Classic Tours, who provide a step by step guide to achieving your goal. They offer many different pre-organised challenges such as an 11-day Himalayan motorbike adventure or will work with you to help make your own fundraising idea a success.
There is also a motorbike challenge with Enduro Africa which raises money for South Africa and Lesotho. It offers you the chance to travel to South Africa and experience the extreme off-road terrain and breathtaking views. While there you are invited to get involved with the Touch Africa community-based program to make a real difference to the community.
Fellow geeks of my own age will remember the original TRON movie with a great deal of fondness, and if they are anything like me, will be itching to see the new TRON:Legacy movie, which is hitting cinemas about now.
I watched the original TRON again just the other day, and was pleasantly surprised at how well the effects have held up over the intervening 28 years – the abstract, high concept graphics force you to take them on their own terms.
Without doubt the highlight of the original were the amazing lightcycles, which streaked across the computer grid in a beautiful and deadly race.
They appear again in Legacy, and now, for the right price, you can get your very own.
That price being $55,000. And you’ll have to go and get it from Florida.
Parker Brothers Choppers have taken the awesome V-Twin engine from a Suzuki TL1000R and mounted it into a steel and fibreglass body which faithfully recreates the lightcycle aesthetic. It even required an innovative braking system to maintain the look.
According to the makers the ride is comparable to any other sportsbike, although your posture is very much ‘superman’.
In keeping with the futuristic theme, you can opt to have your instrumentation displayed via an iPad docked into the bike.
When you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on a motorcycle or scooter you have to think of a way to shield it from the elements when you are not riding it. Also with another wave of UK snow forecast at the end of this week, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re covered. The ideal solution is a lockable brick-built garage, but this just isn’t an option for everyone. Bikesure, the specialist motorcycle arm of Adrian Flux Insurance Services, has put together the following tips and suggestions about choosing the right weatherproof cover.
- The cheapest way of covering a motorcycle is to use a tarp. It will keep the rain off, but there are huge drawbacks. Tarps will chafe on the paintwork and chrome causing lasting damage. They also trap moisture leading to electrical problems and are difficult to anchor down securely.
- There are inexpensive waterproof covers on the market. Before you buy, check for eyelet holes to keep the cover tight so that it does not blow off and check if it is heat resistant or it will melt on the exhaust when you put the bike away. Companies such as Motor Bike Crazy offer a comprehensive range of affordable covers.
- If you want a cover that you can take to track events then you need to consider how easy it will be to fold up and how much room it will take to transport. Dust Off Covers specialises in motorcycle covers and can offer expect advice on exactly the right cover for your make and model.
- Think about just what you are protecting your bike from other than wind and rain, such as bird droppings, tree sap, damaging UV rays and industrial pollution all demand a high quality material and good fitting cover. Cover Your Bike supplies superior covers made to order and to exactly fit the bike even if you have panniers.
- For those wanting to go one step further and have a free-standing structure in which to park their bikes, Protech Shelters offers a clever hut-like enclosure. The Bike Huts are completely waterproof and provide ample space for most bikes. Some models even have enough space for cleaning or maintenance work.
- And the most permanent solution, if you’ve got the space, is a galvanized steel motorcycle garage such as those stocked by Garden Buildings Direct. These usually have a ramp for easy access and locking doors. Optional extension packs mean you can fit in larger bikes.
Grant has previously blogged about the Monkey Business charity event. You’ll be pleased to know that the event was a great success and many thousands were raised for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Matt from the quotes team has kindly sent us this report from the event, where the monkey bikes proved to be quite a change from his usual CBR 600 RR.
This year we were fortunate enough to be asked by Bankstone, our specialist motorcycle claims team based in Brighouse, Yorkshire to participate in Monkey Business 2010. Monkey business is a charity event which involves riding 125cc monkey bikes around the open roads of Yorkshire. This year it was decided that we would stop at various locations in the area somehow related to motorcycling to raise money for the Yorkshire air ambulance.
So the route had been set, over 300 miles in total and the target was set at raising £10,000, we had an adventure on our hands.
As it was a motorcycle related charity run 4 lucky people were chosen from Bikesure to participate. These were myself, Lee Boughen, Grant Varnham and Tom Lake.
We set off on our journey from Flux Headquarters at 4pm on Friday afternoon. We packed our stuff and loaded the bikes into the van and we were away. It took up until the hardwick flyover before our first dilemma! Grant and Tom were driving the van and could smell Petrol leaking from one of the bikes! It was a simple fix luckily and the journey continued. We made good progress and got into Brighouse for around 7pm.
Myself and Boogen were first to arrive and swiftly checked in to our hotel. Once Boogen had finished chatting up the receptionist, we dumped our bags and headed straight to the bar waiting for Grant and Tom to arrive. We figured as we had an early start in the morning with a lot of riding to do, we thought it best just to go have a couple of beers and get an early night. . . . it wasn’t to be.
Morning came around a little bit too quickly and we set off from our hotel to find the rest of the Monkey Business team meeting at Bankstone for 9am. In true Bikesure style we couldn’t find the place, but eventually we got there and got our kit on ready for the journey ahead. It was myself and Grant that jumped onto the bikes and set off on our way with 12 other monkey bikes. We done a lap of the town centre with plenty of horn beeping before getting to our first stop. We all blocked the pavement with our bikes whilst the girls following in the cars got out with their buckets to raise any cash they could from people on the street. It was a swift stop and we cracked on with a great reception from the public as we left.
Many miles later we had made a fair few stops and ridden through the Dales and the Moors on our 125 machines. It was only a matter of time until someone came off. Just a minor incident as Dickon, the organiser of the whole event, slipped on some diesel and the back end came round and off he came. No injuries and the convoy was soon on their way again. We rode on some beautiful biking roads and had some amazing views as we travelled across the countryside in the dry weather.
Eventually 8 and a half hours after setting off we had covered 169 miles and had made it to Scarborough where we were to stop overnight. Now normal people having spent all day hunched up on these tiny bikes only capable of 52mph would have had enough, but not us. We parked the van and found ourselves battling to get on the bikes to have a ride around the streets of Scarborough! Now we finally got the bikes back in the van, checked in and left again to find somewhere to eat. Now it was half 7 on a Saturday night and it was packed, everywhere we went was full and we were starving. Luckily we stumbled upon a Thai restaurant and all got stuck in, in particular Grant with his sticky rice!
It had been agreed earlier in the day that all the riders would meet in the Walkabout bar at 9pm, which was an Australian themed bar. We walked about for a good 45 minutes but couldn’t find it anywhere and no-one had ever heard of it! It wasn’t going well, turns out Dickon got it slightly wrong and we were actually looking for Barracudos which is a South African themed bar! The night continued and we found ourselves in the casino. Now Boogen was a complete rookie on the roulette but couldn’t stop winning the jammy sod! But after a long days riding we all found ourselves tiring very quickly so opted to head back to the hotel.
Day broke and we opened the curtains to be greeted with rain. Rain and wind to be more accurate but that couldn’t dampen our spirits! Grant and Myself again started the riding as we headed to meet the others. We had been riding all of about a minute until we approached a roundabout and Grant, being his first bike ride in the rain, locked up his front wheel and came sliding past and mounted the traffic island before the roundabout! He settled his nerves and we continued, right up to the next corner 50 yards down the road and again his bike slid around the corner. It was enough for him and Boogen promptly jumped onto Grants bike.
We continued riding throughout the day in the continuing rain getting absolutely soaked. A good 60 miles later we arrived at our next stop. Boogen and myself were only too happy to swap riders with Tom and Grant and enjoyed the heat of the van as we followed the convoy. This is where the breakdowns began. It had been a long ride and the bikes did not like all the water on them, everyone’s electrics began to play up and the bikes spluttered along, until they began to run out of petrol. We were running on the reserve tank and had no spare petrol left in the van so were desperate to make it to the next stop. After some nervous riding we finally made it and were all topped up with fuel.
Boogen and me jumped on the bikes again to complete the final leg of this epic journey. Another 50ish miles later and we had made it back to Brighouse to be greeted with a barbecue and beers, it was heaven. We all feasted on the food and talked about all the mishaps and highlights along the way. We said our goodbyes and set off on our journey back home.
Overall we raised just over £600 between the 4 of us and are on target to hit the £10,000 set.
Thanks to everyone that donated, took part and for organising the trip, we have already begun planning modifications for the bike for next year!
Check out the Bikesure Facebook page for more pics and videos!!
Wintertime is notoriously bad for bikers. Not only are the roads slippery and the days short and dark, but it is cold out there as well. There are loads of excellent weatherproof leathers on the market, but when the temperature dips to around zero and you add in the wind chill factor, it can be pretty cold on a bike.
Bikesure, the specialist motorcycling arm of Adrian Flux Insurance Services, has decided to take a peek beneath motorbikers’ leathers and find out the best options around for keeping warm.
These stop the draughts creeping up under your helmet but you have to be careful about the fogging up factor on cold mornings. Take a good look around on sites such as Get Geared to find what suits you.
Tops, leggings and all-in-one suits.
Made from thermal fabric these not only provide warmth but they also stop leathers chafing and make putting on a one-piece leather suit easier. Choose a variety that is easy to wash if you want to keep your friends. SMS Motorcycle Clothing has a good choice.
Neck tubes and neck and body warmers.
Neck tubes range from a simple snood style to an extra long version that covers the shoulders and prevents the wind getting through the top of your jacket. Some models are attached to full body warmers for extra heat retention. There are even different coloured neck tubes at Sea Star Superbikes.
Heated vests and arm warmers.
These are the ultimate way to keep warm. They have an electronic connection that plugs into a 12Volt supply to heat up the garment. Some versions just have heated arms that attach to a body vest while others heat the trunk area as well. Top Gear Superstore has SungBug heated motorcycle clothing.
Heating elements ensure the heat is from the top of the sock right down to the toes to keep a rider’s feet toasty warm. There are some plug-in heated socks at Gerbing’s.
Want to know how to ride a motorcycle on ice and snow?
Check out Mad Stu’s video below with his tips:
And finally, our other great tip to combat the snow and cold is simply to avoid it completely. Why not check out the Twitter powered Snow Map from Ben Marsh. Twitter users post updates using a scale 1 to 10 (with 10 being blizzard), adding the hashtag #uksnow and then adding the first part of their postcode. This information is then used to display it on a real time snow map. Clever stuff.
Stay safe out there! Be sure to share your winter motorcycling tips in the comments below…