Tag Archives: Harley Davidson

Travel Complications

birthday-61bIt’s been some time since our last post but, in our defence, we have been on a longish roadtrip.  One that very nearly did not happen.

We had a ferry booked from Chios to Kavala and we booked a ferry from Çeşme to Chios, leaving ourselves a few hours for a meal on the harbour side.  As the ferry was scheduled to get into Kavala in the early evening, we booked ourselves a hotel in Kavala.  Everything was in place.

Only it did not work out that way.  The first hitch was when the Greek ferry agent contacted us to say that our ferry to Kavala would be 23 hours later than anticipated.  No major deal.  We unbooked and rebooked the Kavala hotel (for the next night) and unbooked and rebooked the ferry to Chios.  Then we went to the beach.

On our return from the beach the bike decided it had never heard of this thing called electricity.  Well, it did have a spark occasionally, but there was no way it was going to start.  Next morning we phoned the Harley dealership in Izmir.  They came out and picked up the bike.  It turned out to be a fault in the insulation of the negative cable from the battery.  The recovery cost us more than the repair.  Whilst the bike was in the workshop they checked it over thoroughly.

There are worse places to be stuck...

There are worse places to be stuck…

So, the day after that we headed for Çeşme.  It was windy.  Well, it is always windy in Çeşme, but it was notably more windy than usual (though not as windy as it was the time we took the ferry in December).  And our ferry to Chios got cancelled.  Apparently due to weather.

We booked ourselves into a rather nice hotel overnight, then off to the ferry agents who felt that we would be able to recoup some of the money we spent on the Kavala ferry.  Meanwhile our ferry to Kavala sailed off merrily at 11 p.m. from Chios whilst we were enjoying an after dinner beer in Çeşme.

Next morning we finally got the ferry to Chios where we were able to exchange our tickets to Kavala for tickets to Thessaloniki for the extra 18 euro that the trip cost for both of us, a cabin and a bike.

The good thing about the delay was that we got to hang out with the Chopper Riders of Chios.  Drinks on Saturday night and a ride out to a blue flag beach (and amazing, huge lunch which lasted us for days) on the Sunday.  And…. finally we caught the Thessaloniki ferry.

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We will have lots to say about the trip itself (though we didn’t get to Bulgaria, again due to weather).  The trip was wonderful and we saw many amazing places in Northern Greece.  We just need to process the photos….

Road Tales

Of course no road trip would be complete without a story about the road. After a day walking in the local area we decided it would be good to jump on the bike. Initially to Geyik Canyon. We had a short walk in the area, but access to the canyon seemed to be closed off. A pity, but it was a lovely ride to get there, some great scenery which Hilary got to enjoy more than me given the variable road surface.

Back to the highway and for some reason the indicators stopped working, along with the tacho, speedo, and dashboard apart from a red ignition light warning. Damn I thought, looks like a fuse has just blown, well either than or an ignition circuit error. I thought about it for a while as we headed around Lake Köyceğiz, concluded not an ignition circuit error, so probably fuse. Best sense got hold me of me, I knew we were low on fuel, but how low I had no idea and the dead controls were not going to tell me. So we called off going to Kaunos and headed  instead to Köyceğiz with a plan to find an auto electrician.

In Köyceğiz the problem became a lot more clear. A quick inspection and we found broken wires hanging from the tail light assembly. The wiring that runs under the rear fender to the rear lights had clearly detached from its mounting and been torn apart by contact with the rear tire. So, off to the Sanayi we went in search of a repair. We found the auto electrician, he was not sure how to access the wiring so everything moved to a motorcycle repair place.

How-many-menThey had never seen a Harley before, but this was not a problem, off came the saddle and the rear fender. This prompted some questions about the not strictly speaking legal efi unit and further questions about the air intake / filter and exhaust. Clearly they understood this sort of thing, very much reassuring me they knew exactly what they were doing.  To add to the fun and games, numerous photographs were taken and friends were called to take more.  From somewhere a printout of the entire wiring diagram for a Softail appeared, not strictly speaking needed mending-the-bikebecause they could just bridge each wire.  Instead armed with this, the entire rear assembly was rewired with a new cable running to beneath the saddle, one new junction box, and plugged back into the main loom. One thing I am very sure of is that the new assembly will stay clear of the wheel, that amount of epoxy is never going to fail!!!

Rewired, one quick test proved the earlier failure had indeed taken out a fuse as well.  None of us were surprised by this. New fuse fitted, everything worked.

Two hours from start to finish and we were back on our way.  Kaunos can wait, we have been there before, it is a lovely site.  No doubt we will be back in the area laer this year.

On the bike. It is 9 years old. 6 years of Istanbul winters, so rain, snow, ice, salt and grit, much like the UK.  Motorcycle wiring is more exposed, so this sort of thing is expected, as was the need to replace ignition coils a year back and more recently due to the old coils, the battery. But as this stuff gets fixed life gets better. We’ve had the bike just over 2 years, we’ve done close to 24,000 KM on it, plus the 28,000 KM it had on it from the previous 7.  It is doing just fine.

Yaz Hazır – Ready for Summer

The swallows are back and breeding.  Moths have invaded our felt slippers.  The bike has been for its roadworthiness test, its new tyres and its service.  We are ready for summer and looking forward to taking a trip somewhere that is not an Industrial site in Izmir (where we have to go to have the bike made ready for travel).

There are wild flowers on all the roadside verges – we’ve been flying past so it’s not always possible to identify them – but they do smell fantastic.  In town the wisteria is in full bloom.  And orange blossom.  Both smell wonderful but do tend to irritate the nose.


How our Bike got it’s TÜVTÜRK in Izmir

TUVTURK-PlaketteWhat is a TÜVTÜRK you may well ask…  Well, it’s a bit like an MOT in the UK – a kind of roadworthiness test that has to be taken by vehicles at regular intervals.  Our bike needs one every two years and it’s now two years since we acquired it, the guy who sold it to us took it for a test before we could transfer ownership, so our test was due last Friday.

So, first we rode to Izmir, met our friend and got taken to the TÜVTÜRK istasyon in Bornova to make our appointment.  We booked a slot for midday on Friday.  We also had the bike pre-checked (for which we were not charged) by a friend of a friend.  We will go back to him for a routine service as his place is very good (they even gave us tea and roasted chestnuts whilst we waited).

Friday saw us back at Bornova Istasyon ten minutes before our appointment.  We were given a numbered ticket (keyed to appointment time) and asked to wait.  At midday on the dot we were called up to a window where the bike papers were taken and we paid 84.75 lira for the test.  We were sent round the back to wait for the test.

They have a real production line for the tests at Bornova.  We waited whilst they tested a whole ‘batch’ of cars and a few trucks.  This took about 45 minutes but it was interesting to watch the cars go over the ramps, have their headlamps measured, their spare wheels, safety belts and other bits and pieces checked out.

When it was our turn our headlight was measured, our indicators and brake lights checked, tyre tread (we have ordered new tyres but they haven’t arrived yet so this was a bit of a worry), frame number, engine number, suspension etc. etc. etc. then we went around the side of the building for our brake test.  This involved Hilary running along beside the bike, translating instructions for Ashley.

We passed.  Or rather the bike passed.  We got our sticker.  It was all very efficient and a great deal less complex that we had been led to believe.  So that’s that for another two years.

On Roads

Mostly the roads in Turkey are pretty good – no worse than in the UK.  So yeah, pot holes, speed bumps (not sponsored by the Lib Dems or Kwik Fit) and variable surfaces.  Roadworks can be a different matter.   Commonly on highways they close off a lane or a carriageway and get on with the work, often with minimal disruption to traffic flow.  On smaller roads it gets to be more fun…..  Or not.

Roadworks 1.  Motorcycles and loose gravel are not fun.   It is even less fun when the gravel is really loose and deep.  When the front wheel is sinking into the gravel, part way to the axle it is all bad.  When this happens on a bend, facing a ravine it is very bad.  But no harm done – beyond pride.

Roadworks 2.  It started as fun. We got flagged down, told to wait.  The work crew gave us tea, we let them sit on the bike and take photos.  It was all very pleasant.  We were told the surface was loose for 1 km, and a quick inspection mostly broken tarmac, bedrock, and thin loose gravel.  Not fun  but OK. Then, after they got the machinery off the road, we got the all clear.  True enough about 1 km of broken surface.  Then….  5 km of partly relayed surface, compacted and dampened down gravel and sand, not fun, but it was really well compacted so the surface stayed intact. Then, the next 5 km. They had sprayed wet tar on the same compacted surface and left it there to soak in and road vehicles to press it into the stone.

The end result….


This is the sand and gravel stuck onto the bike with wet tar.  Oh joy.  We got the surface dirt pressure washed off, so mostly now the tar to get off, made worse by the 6 hour trip home so now it is baked on.

The Greece Tour 2013

It all started with me asking Hilary what she would like to do for her birthday.  Go to Epidaurus she said.  OK I thought, that is doable, we live in Turkey now, near Izmir, so a combination of ferries to Athens, and then it’s no more than 3 hours, but like all of these things the plan grew and became something far more.

We have been touring in Greece before, a few years back, from London on the Softail Custom, so riding in Greece is not something completely new to us.  Taking a Turkish registered bike out of Turkey (and bringing it back) was a piece of bureaucracy we had not previously attempted.  However, with the extension of our insurance to cover us internationally and the purchase of a Green Card, we found we had no hassle at customs in either country, although the process can be slow.

bbq2The tour started with a run up the coast to Çeşme and a ferry to Chios, where we were met by Evangelos, a biker friend, and escorted to our hotel.  Then back into town for a Name Day celebration involving a vast quantity of grilled pork, beer, and good company.  Still with the Chopper Riders Club of Chios, the following day we were taken out for a tour of the island, along winding roads and through pretty villages full of history, with stops for coffee and pastries, and later for fish on the shore.  Sadly our time on Chios had to come to an end, we had an overnight ferry to Piraeus to catch in the evening.  We will go back to Chios to spend more time with friends and tour more of the island.

Arriving in Piraeus later than scheduled, we had a one hour tour of Athens trying to find the road towards Corinth, not the greatest experience in the world, especially in the heat of July.  It was third or fourth time lucky before we were on our way to Nafplio which we had chosen as a good base from which to visit various nearby places.  This was not the prettiest ride – those would come later, and were to be a surprise for Hilary.   As expected Nafplio was a great place to relax in the evenings, being full of upmarket bars and Tavernas at various price levels, not to mention some excellent ice cream.

Over the next couple of days we rode out to Nemea, Mycenae, Epidaurus, doing the tourist stuff and finding some pretty roads and out of the way places on our travels.  Riding around the area was also a gentle way of getting used to Greek roads which can be marked as highways but are often narrow and beride-to-sparta-14ndy, without the bike loaded up with all our gear.  Our bike is a 2005 Softail Standard, a little modified, K&N air filter, Power Commander, raised bars, custom pipes, and some HD skull items all of which we inherited when we bought it.  We have tidied it up a bit, added iso grips and pegs, and for touring, we have detachable saddlebags and windshield, and a barrel bag, not a great deal of luggage space, but more than enough to get by on.

After relaxation and sight-seeing in Napflio the more serious riding started; 2 up, fully loaded for touring, and the mountain roads of the PeloponneseNaufplio to OlympiaE, from Napflio to Olympia via Tripoli.   Around the bay, then up the side of a mountain, the views getting Naufplio to OlympiaHbetter and better.  Beyond Tripoli the road starts to climb again, passing though impossibly pretty villages on the way.  Then the descent, more pretty villages, often Naufplio-to-OlympiaOperched on the side of mountains, the road down very narrow in places, and not for the fainthearted.  Hilary’s comment when we got to Olympia, “Wow, that was like going over the roof of the world”.  Little did she know, it was going to get even better….

olympia-Hera-templeWe spent a day wandering around Olympia, the site and the museum, then it was back in the saddle.  It was also Hilary’s birthday, so I had picked out a few Olympic-stadium-1places as a potential final destination for the day.  Having good taste, she selected Mythoni, which would have been my choice, right in the south of the Olympia-Hermes-2Peloponnese, and perfect for the plan she was yet to discover.  It was on this leg that I started to feel a satnav would have been a useful investment.  Road signs covered in graffiti are not a lot of use.  Even the signs we could read lacked ‘follow up’, so we got used to starting out in the right direction then missing an essential turning.  The coast road was pleasant enough and Mythoni was charming.  We threw ourselves in the sea, found a decent bar, and a great taverna.

It was at this point I let Hilary in on the plan to ride the road between Kalamata and Sparta that is claimed by some to be the most beautiful road in Greece.  We ride-to-sparta-4set off  the following morning, refreshed and recovered from the excesses of the previous night, to Kalamata, and then into the Taygetus mountains.  Itride-to-sparta-35 is hard to find the words to describe this road.  It would of course have been a lot more fun to ride solo with the bike stripped down, but this was not to be.  I think Hilary got to admire more of the scenery than me, the road was narrow, very narrow in places, exceptionally bendy, and ride-to-sparta-41-(into-tunall too often with no barriers between the road and a cliff.  In places the road has been blasted through solid rock, creating some very interesting tunnels with bends in.   She also got to take the photos as we were going along this exceptional road, through some of the most amazing natural scenery I have ever seen.

We stayed overnight in Gythio, a pleasant enough coastal town, before tackling another mountain road the following day.  Gythio, back to Nafplio, via Leonidio taking us through the Parnonos range.  The mountain road was not quite so spectacular, but then it would have been near impossible to surpass the riding the day before.  Again, up into mountains, through tiny pretty villages, and a stunning ride down a steep valley to the coast at Leonido.   The last leg for the day was the coast road back to Nafplio, an almost endless succession of pretty coastal villages and bays backed by mountains.

Sadly good things we coming to an end, the next evening we were booked onto a ferry back towards home.  We took our time getting back to Piraeus, riding the coast road between Epidaurus and Corinth and catching some good views, but Homewardsnothing could really compare to the riding of the last two days.   By the time we got home, somewhat weary from having to sleep on the deck of an overnight ferry, we’d covered just over 2,000 kilometres.  It was an amazing tour.  Would we do anything different?  Not a lot, pack a few less clothes.  Oh, and Hilary, about that Sat Nav…..

Immobilised in Yanıklar

ride-to-sparta-14Our motor cycle has a very handy device called an immobiliser.  This is there to prevent thieves from making off with the bike.  Unfortunately, from time to time, it also prevents us from moving the bike anywhere.

We had pulled into a service station in Yanıklar, a small and as far as we know, unremarkable village about half way between Fethiye and Göcek.  We pulled in to have a short break, stretch our legs and drink water.  We were, at this point, about an hour away from our destination (Koyceğiz, where we intended to stay for the night).  After about ten minutes Ashley clicked the immobiliser button and… Nothing happened.  He moved the bike (sometimes mobile phone masts can interfere with the immobiliser signal).  It made a lot of noise and flashed its lights.  He tried again.  Several times.  The very helpful pump attendant attempted to charge the battery.  We were not convinced you could charge a watch type battery that way but didn’t like to argue.  The immobiliser still failed to work.

Hilary took the battery and caught a dolmuş to Fethiye to attempt to buy a replacement part (and hope that this would make the bike mobile again).  The first few didn’t want to stop but, eventually, she embarked on a three quarter of an hour journey to somewhere near the bus garage.  Then she had to find a place that sold this fairly obscure battery, find her way back to where she could get the dolmuş then get off the dolmuş at the right petrol station.  This was very challenging for someone with no sense of direction who can easily get lost less than five minutes walk from home.

She set off in one direction, asking at some vaguely possible shops.  In the end she got directions to a saatçi (watch mender).  She followed those directions and came across a Curry’s / Computer World.  Where the very helpful assistant explained that they had sold out of the particular type needed but would have one the next day.  Hilary explained about the husband and the bike waiting in Yanıklar and got directions to Bimeks (a local electronics chain).  She understood that it was pretty much opposite the PTT (post office) but, before she found it, she found a saatçi in a little booth.  He threw the example battery to one side, scrabbled about in a box of batteries for some time, then came up with the desired item.  For 5 lira.

Hilary headed back to the place to catch her dolmuş – miraculously she did not get lost (and she passed Bimeks on her way).   Ten minutes and a can of ice tea later, she was on the dolmuş where, after a brief misunderstanding, the driver said he would drop her off at the appropriate garage (she had had the foresight to write down the name).

Back on the forecourt the battery was installed.   Two and a half hours after the problem was noticed, the bike started fine and we were on our way!

And yes, we did get to Koyceğiz in plenty of time to watch the sun set.