Having fun without two wheels Part 4: motorbike-themed things to do during Coronavirus

Ding dong! Your latest delivery of 10 fresh boredom-busting ideas is here to see you through lockdown. Be it pure entertainment or a bit of self- or bike-improvement, you can indulge your passion for two wheels from the comfort of your own home…

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1. Get a Simoncelli fix

Marco Simoncelli leads an illustrious pack

Three years before his life was cruelly cut short, Marco Simoncelli made his mark on the racing world in the 2008 250GP championship and was crowned world champion – which, given the fierce competition from young hot heads like Alvaro Bautista and Hector Barbera, was no easy feat. The season review DVD from Duke is full of all the close finishes, high-speed slipstreaming and insane fairing bashing which made the class so great.

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2. Fit new wheel bearings

Change your wheel bearings

Sod spending hundreds on a new exhaust to give your bike a couple of extra bhp. Bag some free(ish) speed by ensuring that your bike’s rolling as freely as it can be. Notchy old, worn wheel bearings will create drag and rob your bike of performance as well as creating potentially dangerous handling issues. Order yourself a fresh new set and get them fitted. Ceramic bearings provide the ultimate in friction reduction – but cost a bomb!

3. Racing legends’ two-minute Twitter stories

Search #robmacmemories on Twitter to enjoy candid tales from Rob McElnea, Terry Rymer, James Whitham, Steve Plater, Simon Crafar and others. There’s revelations like Rob Mac admitting that he ran an oversize OW01 in the British champs, Rymer bullying his way into tracks with no pass and getting into fights... Colin Wright not signing Scott Smart for the Ducati ride because he didn’t like his haircut... and much more.

4. Do an online rally

Rally directions

Rally series organisers, RallyMoto have introduced The Stir Crazy Desktop Rally Series. After signing up for that week’s event, you will be emailed a roadbook and map each day. You need to follow the instructions and work out the roadbook route on the map and then make a note of the village, town, pub, church where you end up then send your results in at the end of the week. Prizes include tyres, stickers and T-shirts. Every entrant is asked to make a donation to the NHS.

Take part in an online rally

5. Read Road Racer: It’s in My Blood by Michael Dunlop

Michael Dunlop

A startlingly honest and open account of 19-times TT winner Michael Dunlop’s career, family life and inside story. The 31-year-old isn’t known for courting publicity or giving interviews, so this 2017 book gives never-before-read insight into his life history and motivations.

6. Detail your paintwork

Detail your paintwork

After you’ve given your bike the mother-of-all washes, why not treat your paintwork to a bit of specialist care? Run your hand over it to see how it feels – contaminants on the surface will make it feel rough; you’re aiming for paintwork with a smooth, glass-like feel.

Meguiars Quik Clay is a combination of a special detailing spray and a clay bar which will lift microscopic ming away from your paint and make polishing easier and more effective. Be warned, it’s addictive.

7. Do a biking photoshoot with your phone

Do a photo shoot with your bike

Spend a bit of time taking some arty shots of your bike. You don’t necessarily need a proper camera; your smartphone will surprise you. Don’t rely on the zoom function - get in as close as you can. Always remember to tell it where to focus (usually you tap the screen) and use its functions like HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode, which adds more detail into the image. Experiment and have fun.

8. Watch The World’s Fastest Indian

The World's Fastest Indian

Treat yourself a slice of feelgood by plonking yourself somewhere comfy and spending two hours watching Anthony Hopkins as Burt Munro – the plucky New Zealand pensioner who, in the early 1960s, packed his self-built 1922 Indian Scout streamliner into a crate and travelled to the other side of the world to take part in Bonneville Speedweek in search of 200mph glory. Pick it up on DVD or stream it through Amazon, BT or Sky.

9. Brush up on Roadcraft

Motorcycle Roadcraft Handbook

Motorcycle Roadcraft: The Police Rider’s Handbook is the definitive guide to better, safer road riding. To get the best out of it, you need to put your biking ego to one side, absorb the evidence-based theory, then complete the self-assessment at the end of each chapter.

10. Get a bill credit for BT Sport

BT Sport

If like us, you signed up to BT Sport for the MotoGP coverage only to now be paying for a service that you’re not receiving, be sure that you make the most of their two-month bill credit offer at www.bt.com/sportsupport. You can choose to get the credit back on your bill or have them donate the money on your behalf to the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.


Having fun without two wheels Part 3: motorbike-themed things to do during Coronavirus

Ready for a bit of escapism? Need to look busy to ward off the evil lure of domestic duties? Fear not, the team at MCN have amassed our collective knowledge and finely-honed time-wasting skills to bring you 10 more belting biking things to do this week. With this little lot to keep you going, it looks like the fence will just have to paint itself.

1. Watch epic film ‘Road’

Michael Dunlop in 'Road'

Watching this again feels even more poignant after the tragic loss of William Dunlop in 2018. Narrated by Liam Neeson, it charts the story of both generations of Dunlop brothers – Joey and Robert, William and Michael – told through interviews with their family and friends. In places it’s extremely emotional and difficult to watch, but it’s a spellbinding film all about grit, passion and family. Even non-bikers will enjoy it too.

2. Deep clean your bike

Cleaning Honda CBR650R

We’re talking fairing panels off and wheels out so that you can completely get rid of all that ming and grime to make your bike look showroom fresh once again. As well as all your bike cleaning kit, you’ll need somewhere safe to lay out your bodywork as well a selection of pots to keep your fasteners in.

3. Watch ‘David Beckham: Into the Unknown’

David Beckham and his travel pals

Want to watch a former England football star and spouse-of-a-Spice-girl ride a Triumph T100 through the Amazon rainforest with a bunch of his mates?... Err, Netflix have just the thing. David Beckham: Into the Unknown is a two-part travelogue documenting his 'adventure'. Is it better than painting the skirting boards? Probably…

4. Become a satnav master

Motorcycle sat nav

Invest a bit of time in exploring some of the powerful functions on your satnav. Use Google Streetview to scope out beautiful places you’d like to visit. Plot a route using some online route-planning software, then learn how to convert it to a GPX file in order to export it to your satnav, ready to go when the lockdown’s lifted.

5. Check out the latest content on MCN’s YouTube channel

With no bikes to test, MCN’s very own Stig, Mr Michael Neeves, has been finding other ways to keep himself amused. But when he’s not indulging his passion for needlepoint, Neevesy’s been busy creating some brilliant new videos on our YouTube channel: want to know how to set up a bike or ride like a road tester? Head to YouTube and subscribe to Motorcycle News for some serious infotainment.

6. Grease your swingarm bearings

Grease your swingarm bearing

This is an important job that almost everyone who maintains their own bike fails to do regularly – if at all! Most swingarm bearings come with very little lube as standard, and over time that small amount gets blasted away through weather and washing and can cause catastrophic rear-end failures.

It’s quite involved and takes a bit of time, but shouldn’t prove difficult for a competent home mechanic. You’ll need a centrestand or some way of supporting your bike without the swingarm in place.

7. Build a Harley… out of Lego!

Build a Lego Harley-Davidson

Many of us have bored kids at home, and probably haven’t played with Lego this much in decades. Time to revel in the therapeutic joy those little plastic blocks can bring. So why not entertain the kids and indulge your love for bikes at the same time by splashing out on a Lego Creator Expert Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.

The finished model is 33cm long and you even get to build the engine. At £85 it’s a lot of money, so best ask the kids if they want to go halves with you!

8. Get creative with old parts

Make something out of old spares

If you’ve owned bikes for a long time, chances are you’ve got a stack of old, broken components in the garage, that you thought were totally useless but which you’ve kept nonetheless.

Now’s their time to shine again: MCN contributor Jon Urry’s adorned his home with furnishings that he’s cunningly fashioned out of old bike bits - like this clock made from old clutch plates. His wife must be so pleased…

9. Binge-watch Faster, Fastest and Hitting the Apex in one go

Hitting the Apex film

Indulge yourself in hours of some of the best MotoGP documentaries ever made. British director Mark Neale’s Faster/Fastest/Hitting the Apex span the sport’s modern era: Faster gives insight to the bitter rivalry between Rossi and Biaggi in 2002; Fastest concentrates on the 2010 season when Rossi’s reign began to unravel; then Hitting the Apex is a frightening reminder of the sport’s deadly side and stands as a sad tribute to Marco Simoncelli.

10. Clean your boots

Clean your boots

So you’ve spruced up your lid, bunged your textiles in the wash and given your bike a deep clean too. Now what about your boots? If you’ve got synthetic leather (Lorica) race boots, you can give them a proper dunking in some warm water mixed with laundry detergent then scrub with a cloth. Leather and Gore-Tex boots should be wipe-cleaned only. Spangly!


Having fun without two wheels Part 2: motorbike-themed things to do during Coronavirus

Another week in lockdown. British Summer Time officially started, and those pangs of frustration that we can’t be out enjoying the lighter evenings are stronger than ever. But let’s give ourselves a pat on the back for the fact that most of us, barring key workers and volunteers who use their bike as transport, haven’t turned a wheel in weeks. It’s tough but we’re doing great.

So to help ease you though these bike-less times – and to ward off the evil threat of household chores for those who appear to have nothing better to do – here are another 10, expertly chosen motorcycling-related ideas to wile away the hours while we’re all doing our bit for Blighty and staying indoors.

1. Replace your rusty bolts

Replace your rusty fasteners

Nothing makes a bike look more well-loved than a full set of shiny fasteners. We’ve all got the odd one or two scabby old embarrassing bolts that are a little orange or furry, or maybe even something we used as a stop-gap that we never got round to replacing. Well, now’s the time to give your bike those little bits and pieces it deserves.

Fowlers Parts stock OEM parts for most major manufacturers and their mail order service will see the bits in your hands the next day.

2.Watch ‘Dovizioso: Undaunted’

Andrea Dovizioso

A frank account of Andrea Dovizioso’s 2019 MotoGP season, where the Italian reveals the hidden pressures of life as a MotoGP rider. With open and honest interviews from both Dovi and the Ducati team bosses, as well as behind-the-scenes footage, it’s MotoGP as it’s very rarely seen.

The hour-long documentary is available free at RedBull.com or on the Red Bull TV app on your smart device.

3. Play the Cadwell Park boardgame!

Cadwell Park BSB action

GP Originals have designed a two-stroke racing-themed Cadwell Park board game, perfect for playing with the kids – or for those drunken lockdown Saturday nights in at home. You can download now from www.gporiginals.co.uk then simply print out and enjoy the race.

4. Read ‘That Near-Death Thing’ IOM TT book

That Near Death Thing

The most compelling book about the TT we’ve yet come across. Written by Times sports writer Rick Broadbent, it paints a vivid picture of the highs and lows of the 2011 TT through the first-hand accounts of Guy Martin, John McGuinness, Conor Cummins and Michael Dunlop. It’s unputdownable.

5. Make your bike fit you perfectly

Spend a bit of time adjusting handlebar positions, footrests, seats, lever spans, as well as rear brake and gear-shifter heights to make your bike feel just like an extension of yourself when you next come to ride it. Take your time and get it millimetre perfect – don’t forget to wear your kit when you do in order to get it just right.

6. Can’t ride? Play Ride3

Ride 3 video game

We can’t get out for a real-world blast, so why not go for a virtual one instead? Biking sim Ride3, available on PS4, Xbox One and PC, features hundreds of bikes from classics right up to the latest models. Download it or buy mail order from around £25.

7. Witness TT greatness…

Are you sitting comfortably? Chances are you won’t be after this! Take 16 minutes and 42.778 seconds to join Peter Hickman on his race-winning, record-breaking 135.452mph lap in the 2018 Senior TT.

Hicky’s commentary is calm and technical, giving you full insight into just what it takes to hustle a superbike around the Mountain Course.

8. Give your helmet a darn good spring clean

Clean your helmet properly

We’re not just talking about a cursory wipe of the outside, now’s the time to restore your lid to an as-new condition. Pull out the lining, whip off the visor and give your head cage the best clean it’s ever had.

You’ll need mild shampoo to wash the interior, cotton buds for cleaning out the years of dead insects from the vents, and that little bottle of lube that came with the manual for revitalising the rubber visor seal. Subscribe to MCN’s YouTube channel for our How To tutorial video.

9. Make some Tamiya models

Honda RCV model kit from Tamiya

Spend a few hours crafting yourself a Kawasaki H2R, Suzuki Katana, Ducati Panigale V4, Yamaha Virago, Honda RC213V, or anything else that takes your fancy. Tamiya’s 1:12-scale models are beautifully detailed, easy to build, and come complete with rubber tyres and accurate decals. Check out the vast range in the online catalogue then order yours with an online retailer for about £35.

10. Tighten up your home security

Tighten up your home security

It’s time to install that ground anchor you bought over winter but never fitted. Work out the best location – somewhere accessible but not in the way; consider wall-mounting it in a garage. You’ll need a heavy-duty hammer drill and a suitably sized masonry bit – and wear goggles!


Having fun without two wheels part 1: motorbike-themed things to do during Coronavirus

As fellow bikers there’s nothing we love more than the arrival of good weather and a shot at some clear roads. So we’re just as disappointed about the current situation as you are, but we have to be sensible and follow the official advice: it’s fine to ride a bike to buy food, or medical supplies, or if you’re a key worker and need it for work.

But you shouldn’t be going out for a blast or stopping off at your local biking haunt on the way to the supermarket. We don’t want to preach, but if we want biking to stay great, then we need to band together and be sensible right now.

However, there are plenty of things you can be doing to keep biking hunger sated. As well as the obvious stuff such as reading MCN from cover to cover, we’re going to bring you new suggestions of stuff to do each week. Tick these off and before you know it, this episode will be disappearing in your mirrors like a clapped-out Mini Metro.

1. Enjoy 45,000 official MotoGP videos for nowt!

Valentino Rossi wheelie

Dorna are offering free trial access to their MotoGP.com Video Pass service, containing over 45,000 official videos from 1992 right up to the present day. There are full races, technical documentaries, rider biogs and more to enjoy. Sign up now and enjoy free access until April 27 – after which you’ll be charged £198 for the rest of the season so be sure to cancel if you don’t want to continue!

2. Have a wheelie good time

Dougie Lampkin attempts to wheelie a lap of the Isle of Man TT course

Watch the documentary about Dougie Lampkin attempting to wheelie one full lap of the Isle of Man TT course – it’s free!

3. Read Stealing Speed by Mat Oxley

Read Stealing Speed by Matt Oxley

The greatest spy scandal in motorsport told by one of motorcycling’s greatest writers. Mat Oxley’s tale of how factory MZ rider Ernst Degner was paid by Suzuki to steal the race-winning two-stroke secrets of genius engineer Walter Kaaden, which then took the Japanese to their first ever world championship title. Hard copies of the book are rare (and expensive), but you can download an e-version on Amazon Kindle for just six quid.

4. Plan a tour-of-a-lifetime

Plan a bike tour while you're stuck inside

Think of the place you’ve always wanted to visit then make a plan to get there when all this blows over. Look at ferry costs, research riding roads, look at reviews for hotels – make an itinerary for each day of your dream touring trip, plus a list of things you’ll need for your bike to make the journey more comfortable.

MCN’s sister publication RiDE has produced amazing touring guides to almost all European countries, and if you sign up to Bikes Unlimited on GooglePlay or the App Store you’ll be able to access them all – as well MCN and other great biking titles. The first month is free (£7.99 per month thereafter).


Get Bikes Unlimited in the Google Play Store

Get Bikes Unlimited in the Apple App Store

5. Listen to some biking podcasts

Spotify logo

MCN’s Chief Road Tester Michael Neeves enjoys Front End Chatter, while Senior Writer Dan Sutherland reckons Chasin’ the Racin’ with racers Chrissy Rouse and Dom Herbertson will put a smile on your face. You’ll find them both on Spotify.

6. Sort out your garage

Organise your tools

Spend a bit of time getting your garage or workspace totally shipshape. Chuck all the rubbish away, clean and arrange your tools, lay down some nice matting, refresh your stocks of essentials like chain lube and brake cleaner, and sort out some shelving or storage space.

7. Re-watch Long Way Round and Long Way Down

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

With the latest instalment from Ewan and Charley - Long Way Up - only weeks away from being aired (probably on a ‘fruit-based’ big streaming service), why not refamiliarise yourself with the original series and its sequel? Buy the DVDs on Amazon from £14.95 or stream from AppleTV.

8. Take up running

Marc Marquez is pretty quick on his feet

No, wait, come back! There’s a reason why all the best riders are out pounding the streets and treadmills. Not only is it one of the best forms of fitness, but it also boosts concentration – which makes it doubly beneficial to bikers. Oh, and it helps improve your power-to-weight ratio too. Plus, it gives you a Government-approved reason to be outdoors. Result!

9. Watch ‘Why We Ride’ and feel great

If you’re missing the sensation of being connected to motorcycling, you need to check out Why We Ride (free on Amazon Prime, or £3.49 on YouTube or GooglePlay). It’s an award-winning documentary into the everyday lives of passionate bikers of all types. It’s joyous, inspiring and will definitely lift your spirits.

10. Give your kit a clean

Clean your motorbike kit

Honestly, when was the last time you gave all your riding kit a good scrub? Now’s the time to make it look (and smell) as good as new by stripping it of its armour and giving it a damn good lathering. S100 Fabric and Leather Cleaner is great for machine washing kit, even your leathers, too.

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in Advice…

Emma Franklin

By Emma Franklin

Deputy Editor, road tester, club racer