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Safety Tips for Winter Riding

As we come towards the end of October and another clock change (don’t forget!) it signifies to many the reluctant end of the motorcycling season. Here at Superior Motorcycle Experiences, we wash down and pack away the fleet in the cosy bike barn for a winter hibernation, we have learnt over time that the tracks and trails we use here in Dorset get too slippery and dangerous for our guests over the winter. However we will be riding our own bikes on the road in our spare time, just as many other people will continue to do, and of course some people maintain the motorbike commute to work all year round. With that in mind, we thought it would be good to remind ourselves of some essential winter safety guidance.  

Winter riding in Dorset

Here are five things you should do to make sure your winter riding is as safe as possible in the cold and dark UK conditions:

  1. Keep your distance

With visibility lower, weather conditions colder and let’s face it wetter, as well as often overlooked hazards like nocturnal wildlife (we’re looking at you deer) it is really important to adjust your riding style to accommodate these. Lower your speed and increase your stopping distance, you never know when you might need it. Check your tyres

2. Check your tyres

The colder temperatures can reduce tyre pressure, so make sure you schedule in some extra time to check the condition of your tyres and rectify anything that needs rectifying. That includes changing the types to appropriate style according to the terrain, temperatures and frequency of your winter riding.  Your local garage will be happy to offer advice if you’re unsure.

3. Check your brakes

Another servicing point here, but a vital one. In colder wetter conditions the roads can be more slippery than usual. Plus the salt from anti-freeze spreading can have an accumulative degenerative effect on the hardware of your brakes, so it’s important to keep them clean and make time to regularly check their condition.

4. Plan ahead

A simple but effective point. If you have a motorbike journey planned, check the routes and weather conditions before you leave. If the weather conditions are too dangerous to ride in, plan an alternative way to travel if you can. Make sure you know where you’re going and have alternative routes available in case of road closures, you don’t want to be caught out in the cold longer than you need to be.

5. Gear up 

This point is two-fold: stay warm and be seen. Getting cold whilst riding can be dangerous, you can lose concentration and have less physical control over your motorcycle. Make sure you have effective safety clothing to keep you warm, particularly if you’re not lucky wnough to have heated grips! The clocks are about to change meaning it will be dark for a lot more of the daytime, one of the simplest ways to mitigate the chances of collisions is to make sure you are seen. Opt for brighter (white, or high-vis) clothing, over-jackets and helmets. Okay, they might not look the coolest, but you can save that for the summer events!

rider with yellow helmet
James chooses a bright lid

Enjoy your winter, but if you’re out there on two wheels make sure you’re doing your bit to keep yourself and other road users safe. Right then, we’re off to google extra warm gloves…

SME X Camp VC

For those of you not familiar with the VC movement please allow us to make the following introduction. VC London is a motorcycle group made up of talented and influential female motorcyclists. The intention of their group is to inspire and develop the world of female motorcycling through opportunity and influence. Once a year, founder Gemma along with her team curate a phenomenal female ride weekend to allow new riders and old riders the opportunity to get together and develop their riding. Do not let this fool you into thinking it is an ability-based concern. Camp VC is a friendly fun environment for all female riders. SME are longstanding friends of the VC women and were glad to be invited to help facilitate the weekend. Ride groups were put together for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the fantastic Welsh event.

James and Emily had been up to the valleys and done a recce before the event to ensure the best possible mini experience could be had by all participants. The route was set and the bikes on-site. Royal Enfield had supplied additional bikes for the weekend as well as Steph Jeavons providing a couple of extra machines from Moto Junkies in the north of Wales. With a fleet of 19 Himalayan’s on hand the stage was set for a fantastic spectacle. Many ride experiences took place throughout the weekend across the hills surrounding Pontypridds in South Wales. The bikes didn’t miss a beat across the three days and many smiling faces returned to the camp after each excursion. Trials tuition, entry to motorcycling, as well as enduro training and other brands providing demo ride opportunities made up some of the other options available to the VC participants.

As far as weekends go for female riders here in the UK, VC provides a platform like no other. Phenomenal scenery, fantastic people and an inclusive format allowing for all abilities of rider to develop and take part. SME is proud to be included in such an inclusive and aspirational event and look forward to working with the VC girls on the 2022 camp VC weekend.

Ride 120: Celebrating 120 years of Royal Enfield

SME recently organised and ran the celebratory ride 120 event.

July 2021 marked an amazing one hundred and twenty (is it more significant if we spell it our rather than use number format?) years of the iconic, and authentic brand Royal Enfield. We are proud, as I’m sure you’re already aware, to be official ride partners with Royal Enfield, and have been building this relationship and working together on various projects over the last year or so. So when this anniversary (birthday?) was on the horizon, SME ride-leader and manager James knew he had to engage one of his elaborate ideas!

James devised a 120 mile rally , snaking all over the South West, taking in some of the best riding roads, and scenery available, in our biased but correct opinion. The route gave participants the opportunity to select either the ‘open class’ or the ‘adventure class’ – the former being the standard road route, and the latter incorporating some short sections of off-road trails. The rally format was clearly signposted throughout and supported by a GPX navigation file sent to riders prior to the event.

A huge selection of Royal Enfield enthusiasts graced the starting destination at the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum for the start of the event. The route had been carefully curated to take in some of the best views and roads on offer across three counties. Leaving from East Dorset crossing some of Hampshire, Wiltshire and then returning to west Dorset to culminate at the Winyards Gap Inn on the outskirts of Chedington. Our riders braved the elements on what turned out to be a drizzly English summer day, okay that’s an understatement, by the time we finished there were some seriously soggy (but happy I hasten to add) riders! The clouds however did break throughout the course of the rally allowing for the views and scenery to be absorbed. The adventure class was littered with individually modified Himalayan’s as well as stock machines.

All participants gave rave reviews for the adventure sections, allowing them to ride legal byways and trails throughout the route. We were very pleased to welcome a team of budding enthusiasts from Royal Enfield HQ, they took part in the ride and epitomised the spirit of why we were all there. Within this team rode the legend Jacqui Furneaux, she and her iconic Royal Enfield bullet completed the course in grace and style.

Jacqui Furneaux photographed by Jake Baggaley

The images were taken by the talented Jake Baggaley and capture perfectly the essence of what was a phenomenal day.

What does James do in his time off?

Ride motorbikes off-road…obviously.

It’s not often that the SME team find time to share a weekend with our trail riding buddies. We managed to offset August bank holiday this year and get out for some much needed dust and disorderly. A merry band of misfitting motorcycles congregated outside Fair Oak in Hampshire on the Sunday of the late August bank holiday.

Bikes from a variety of eras as well as on and off road machines made up the group. From a Gold Star BSA through to a Suzuki bandit custom scrambler, our group was certainly a head-turning one. Ian Fitzgerald had taken the reigns for the day’s ride and Emily and I were free to sit back and enjoy, which felt so unusual but quite lovely since we spend most of our time being the responsible leaders of the pack. Travelling through differing countryside and having the freedom to mingle within the group and simply absorb my surroundings made for a really refreshing opportunity.

Water crossings, gravel, leftover mud and puddles kept things interesting and punctuated our day, but for the mainstay of the riding, a warm August day provided easy dusty tracks to play with.

The route made it’s way across Hampshire towards Petersfield, stopping in at the iconic Loomie’s Motorcycle Cafe. A huge congregation was there, as expected, and the car park was absolutely littered with all manner of bikes on show. After a quick refuel for both riders and motorcycles we continued across Butser Hill before turning tail and retracing our steps in the direction of Droxford.

Our day would finish with a final pull in at the beautiful Hampshire Bowman. A period, and very charming pub known for great hospitality and phenomenal local cask ales. A fun weekend of riding with great friends is why we do what we do here at SME. Our Trail School package introduces this fantastic style of riding to new people week in and week out, and after years of doing green lanes and byways it is still the passionate pastime that my sister Emily and I both love.

SME welcomes ECO Charger Quads

Today, Dr Guy on behalf of Chedington hosted the Eco Charger Electric Quadbike Company. We collaboratively explored what a fully eco-electric quad safari might look like here on the estate.

Taking a day to ride on four wheels instead of two was a novelty and it was also the perfect excuse to access some of the woodland areas nearby. The morning ride took us through the 450 acres of Chedington Woods and we are most grateful to Dr & Mrs Guy’s neighbours Rob and Alex Appleby for allowing access. Dr Guy took the lead, with his clear passion and enthusiasm shining through, it was great to see.

Upon our return to Chapel Marsh Farm, John Jones (aka The Migrating Chef) had put on a fantastic spread for the team overlooking the Chedington Equestrian cross-country course.

With the Eco Charger representatives feeling charmed with Chedington and the surrounding scenery we (happily) cleared our plates and discussed the intentions for the afternoon’s ride.

The fantastic machines had taken us out and around the estate throughout the morning, displaying their capabilities, fun and potential. That afternoon we travelled along Common Water Lane to Broad Windsor and back before concluding the day’s activities. 

Silent and capable, the quads provided a unique and exciting adventure through the green scenery we have to offer here in our corner of West Dorset. We are really looking forward to seeing what might come of a Chedington X Eco Charger Quad project in the future…

Despatch Rally 2021

Map reading and orienteering is a pillar of the event – image by Jake Baggerley

After a year off gathering and events, it felt so good to be in a sunny field full of smiling faces, and revving engines once more!

The Despatch Rally event, which started a few years a go was back after a break bigger and better than ever. This unique event honours the origins of motorcycling, and is an activity-based weekend themed around the skills required of a WWII Despatch Motorcycle Rider.

The three day event, which you can enter as a solo rider, or as a duo with a pillion, is made up of a series of activities and challenges. each will score you points, giving the whole event a competitive edge – you can take this as seriously or easy going as you choose, but it works really well to give you a focus.

Superior Motorcycle Experiences and Royal Enfield were on hand over the weekend to give participants a taste of off-road riding, and basic skills and drills training – all very helpful for the aspiring despatch rider…

In action on the reconnaissance mission – image by Jake Baggerley

Familiar face, and SME ride leader Emily was busy all weekend leading mini off-road tours on the Royal Enfield Himalayan bikes all weekend. We were so pleased to see how popular these tours were, it seemed everyone was keen to try out these versatile and much-loved machines whilst they had a chance at the event.

Royal Enfield heaven – image by Jake Baggerley

Both Royal Enfield, with their rich history and retro aesthetic, as well as Superior Motorcycles with our ‘get outside and give it a go’ ethos fitted really well into this charming and welcoming event. We couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone looking for a laid-back, unique and fun motorcycling themed weekend – watch this space for 2022 dates!

Summer ’21 Biking Fashion & Accessories

Okay, it might be a rainy bank holiday weekend as I write this, but we have had some great weather recently and with the easing of national lockdown rules on the horizon, we can’t help but feel very excited about a great summer of biking adventures ahead. 

We’ve collated a list of some of this season’s useful and stylish motorcycling fashion and accessories to make sure you’re ready to hit the roads (or trails) when the sun comes back out!

1 Beeline 

We love this simple stylish design of this navigation system. Designed for bicycles and motorcycles, the gadget fits onto your handlebars and syncs with an app on your phone to deliver clear navigation  to guide you on your adventures. 

It’s waterproof, shockproof, offers over 30 hours of battery life and its simple interface is easy and intuitive to use.

2 Knox

This brand have made a real splash in the motorbike industry. We particularly love the Urbane Pro products, which are designed to offer all the protective armour in a lightweight under layer, as opposed the traditional outer jacket. This allows riders to layer up with shirts, hoodies or lighter jackets over the top. In the hot summer months this is a great option to look and feel casual and stylish knowing you have the essential protective elements underneath.

3 Royal Enfield Apparel

Royal Enfield have launched their new spring/summer 2021 line of apparel and accessories, and we love the mix of throwback and modern style. They have jackets, boots, gloves, helmets, footwear and accessories so plenty of things to browse. 

https://www.royalenfield.com/uk/en/gears/

4 Malle luggage

Malle have gone from strength to strength in the industry in a short space of time. Their events have been wildly popular, but did you know they originated as designers of high quality motorcycling luggage? The collection of apparel and luggage oozes class, quality and style, we can’t get enough!

https://mallelondon.com/product-category/luggage_and_bags/

5 HelmetLok

I think we’d all agree that your helmet is a vital part of riding, and if you’ve invested in a decent lid then you’ll want to keep it safe! Helmetlok allows you to secure it to your bike whilst you nip off to order a cup of tea or go for a stretch of your legs. A simple but effective idea. 

Getting your bike ready for summer…

The days are getting longer and the sun is starting to tease us with the occasional appearance. If you’re anything like us here at SME, it doesn’t take long for your mind to start daydreaming about all the motorbike adventures there are to be had around the corner…

Some hardy enthusiasts don’t let-up at all throughout the year. But if you’re more of a fair-weather rider and your motorcycle has been gathering dust in the garage, here are some tips for getting your bike in tip-top shape:

close up motorbike engine
  • Charge or change the battery

If you left a battery on your motorbike over the winter season, you will most likely need to charge it or replace it. First of all, give it a decent charge overnight. Once the battery is charged, make sure to test it. If it isn’t holding a charge, replace it, especially if you’ve had it for four years or longer.

  • Check tyre pressure

This is a good opportunity to check the general state of your tyres. Check the thread for general wear, and for any other damage. It might be that you need to replace the tyres entirely. If not, then check the tyres are at the correct PSI according to the recommended measurements. It’s normal for tyre pressure to decrease a little over winter so inflate them again if necessary to ensure safe and smooth riding. 

  • Drain the fuel

If your fuel-tank still has old fuel in it, it might cause issues with your motorcycle starting. Drain the fuel tank and if any grit comes out it’s probably a sign that there is some rust on the inside of the tank. 

  • Change the oil

Experts advise to changing your oil before your first ride of the new motorcycle season. It might have condensation build-up from lack of use. 

  • Clean the headlight

We all know that safety is paramount when riding motorbikes, and one the key factors is making yourself as visible as possible. If you’re headlight has beome foggy or grubby, giving it a clean can make it shine all that brighter. 

  • Clean and lubricate the chain

A dirty chain can inhibit how well a bike runs. A simple way to clean the chain is to use a wire brush dipped in degreaser. Clear any debris and mud off the chain, rinse with fresh degreaser and wipe it dry with a clean sponge or rag. It’s generally a good idea to add some chain lubricant afterward to help it run smoothly once it has been cleaned. 

  • Test ride ‘round-the-block

Once you’re happy you’ve checked the bike over, and replaced or revived any major issues, it’s a good idea to take it for a small trip around your local area before you embark on a long journey. If something goes wrong, you don’t want to be too far from home! Once you’re happy it’s been warmed up and it’s running well you can get out there and enjoy another season on adventure – let’s all keep our fingers crossed for some sunny weather this season!

Stay safe and enjoy another season on two wheels!

James & the SME team

Superior Motorcycle Experiences launch exciting partnership with Royal Enfield

Following a successful first season of running tours, we are so very excited to announce an official partnership the esteemed and historical motorcycle brand Royal Enfield.

Royal Enfield are the oldest motorcycle brand in continuous production. With more than 40% growth every year for the last five years, newly launched models and a slick & enticing brand aesthetic, we could not be more honoured to be working alongside one of the biggest players in the industry.

bikes, motorbikes, trial bikes, Royal Enfield, off road, Dorset, biking, farm, countryside

Both companies have a shared ideology for encouraging motorcycling passion and providing authentic experiences of exceptional quality. SME and Royal Enfield are both committed to providing an accessible and non-intimidating gateway into the joyous world of motorcycling at all levels. This common goal makes for a natural and seamless partnership.

Here at SME we have been long-time fans of the brand having already built our fleet of motorcycles with Royal Enfield’s hit success; the Himalayan. These lightweight, rugged bikes are at the heart of our adventures, the versatility they provide means that they are happy on all roads but really shine when off road, which has proved perfect for our Trail School experience.

The partnership is launched on 25th November at the digital Motorcycle Live event. To celebrate the launch, a competition is being run which offers the opportunity to win a space on a Trail School experience day in March with celebrity riders.  

bikes, motorbikes, trial bikes, Royal Enfield, off road, Dorset, biking, farm, countryside

As a new company, we are delighted to have gained some traction lately, and this partnership has come at the perfect time for us as an emerging brand. We are looking forward to working closely with Royal Enfield as a ‘ride partner’ to provide trusted experiences from our picturesque headquarters both in Dorset and the Spanish Pyrenees. The teams work enthusiastically together and with so many exciting projects in the pipeline we can’t wait to get stuck in and continue to support each other, bringing the enthusiasm and exhilaration of riding motorcycles to as many people as possible.  

About Royal Enfield:

Royal Enfield made its first motorcycle in 1901. With its new manufacturing base in Chennai, India, the company is able to grow production rapidly against a surge in demand for its motorcycles. Royal Enfield is fast becoming a very important player in the global mid-size motorcycle market and is working towards re-inventing this space with motorcycles that are evocative and engaging and great fun to ride. Royal Enfield’s motorcycle line-up includes the newly launched Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650, powered by a modern 648cc twin cylinder engine. Royal Enfield also manufactures the Classic, Bullet and Thunderbird models in 350 and 500cc displacement and the purpose-built Himalayan powered by the new LS410 engine.

Royal Enfield also organizes and supports many motorcycling events and rides globally, more prominently the Rider Mania – an annual gathering of Royal Enfield riders from all over the world to the lovely beaches of Goa, and the Himalayan Odyssey, the most arduous motorcycle ride over some of the toughest roads and highest mountain passes in the Himalayas. Royal Enfield also conducts the popular ‘One Ride’ where people around the world ride out on their motorcycles on the first Sunday of April.

Says George Cheeseman, UK Country Manager – Royal Enfield:

“We are delighted to be welcoming Superior Motorcycle Experiences to the Royal Enfield partnership programme; we are always looking for partners who share our passion and enthusiasm for providing the whole motorcycling experience in its purest form. Royal Enfield doesn’t just produce motorcycles; we strive to offer our customers immersive experiences that involve all five sense – we call this “pure motorcycling” – and the Himalayan embodies this ethos perfectly. SME definitely shares our passion for providing quality experiences that are accessible, but above all, fun, and we look forward to sharing our enthusiasm with our customers.”

For more information about Royal Enfield please visit: https://www.royalenfield.com/uk

For further information please contact: Caroline Blake / Serena Harding – Shellwood Blake team@shellwoodblake.com / 07721 859 847

Adventurers Unite:Overland Event

We were excited to bring the Superior Motorcycle Experiences team to spend the first weekend of September attending The Overland Event near Oxford.

We visited this adventure-themed event in partnership with Royal Enfield and Cooper B, forming a great team promoting the fantastic Royal Enfield Himalayan bikes, and showcasing how much fun can be had on them!  It was great to see fantastically modified Royal Enfield Himalayans, with some awesome accessories packages. We found it really opened eyes to what these machines can achieve beyond their baseline charm and functionality.

Our job for the weekend was to do what we do best: facilitating fun ride experience packages on our very own SME fleet. We took groups of up to eight people on a one-hour varied tour on the Royal Enfields. The route consisted of a twelve mile on-road circuit before embarking on an off-road stage which had been set up brilliantly by local partners of the overland event. Both on and off road sections of the mini tour provided a perfect playing ground for the Royal Enfield to show it’s true colours. Road miles encompassed seeping bends, speedy straight sections and classic tight country lanes with high hedgerows. Once riders were warmed up and settled into the feel of the machines, the off-road stage allowed riders to find their way through ruts, lumps, bumps and show that the bike can handle basically any terrain you can throw at it…sometimes literally.

We found a great synergy between the SME team and Cooper B, and as a result we managed to get though over 50 ride experiences over three days. Hearing people’s enthusiastic commentary about the motorcycles, and that their expectations had been exceeded was really fulfilling. It’s one of the parts of this job we love the most. It made everyone in the team feel really fired up about getting back to Dorset and getting on with more tours in our own stomping ground.

The Overland Event offers a unique platform for machines and experiences to be portrayed, and we were excited to spend time with accomplished adventurers such as: Steph Jeavons, The Sidecar Guys, Elspeth Beard and Jacqui Furneaux.  The whole weekend was alive with exciting, colourful characters, and an electric passion for motorcycles and adventure. It was a really exciting environment to be in. Everyone there was either planning, has been on, or completely lives the adventure lifestyle. There is inspiration oozing outing of both the patrons and the organisers and businesses at the event, and we were really proud to be a part of it.

Despite covid restrictions, there was still a vibrant buzz about the event, and plenty of activity. The Overland team also give back to charity. This year’s charities are Coco and Motorcycle Outreach, please have a look at the information on the website, it’s great to have a well-rounded event and find ways to give back too.

Sunny weather blessed us for the most part with some rain on Sunday, which only made the experiences more authentic to be honest. This was the wrong crowd to be put off by a bit of rain! The Royal Enfield did us proud as ever, using just a tank of fuel each to facilitate an entire weekend of adventure.

We will defiantly visit Overland again, and thoroughly recommend it.

James & the SME team