Long term update: A tent and a free weekend

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So far this year’s events have conspired against the GTR and I taking any big trips, but knowing the Great British Summer could very well be a distant memory come September all excuses were put on hold for a last-minute weekend jaunt to North Yorkshire. Rollbag stuffed full of camping essentials (tent and sleeping bag), camera and a spare set of pants all securely strapped to the rear seat – despite the lack of any meaningful bungee points – and we were off.

The trip north up the A1 is a journey I’ve done countless times over the years, and normally it’s dispatched without a hitch, but recently one thing has become clear with the GTR – its seat and my arse don’t work well together. As a result, the aching had already started at Newark – barely 40 minutes into a two-hour journey. Thankfully I’d opted to spend the night at my mum’s before heading to North Yorkshire the following morning – giving my rear a bit of a break before a full day of riding around the Dales.

With no plan other than calling at Scarborough for lunch I opted to follow my nose, heading towards York via Pontefract and Tadcaster, before joining the A170 near Helmsley. Unfortunately it was around this point it became clear most of Britain’s caravanners had also chosen to head to North Yorkshire for the weekend, turning the A170 into a huge high-speed slalom instead of the fast A-road it normally is. No bother, the GTR is addictive when in the upper reaches of the turbine-like rev range.

After a spot of lunch in Scarborough I headed back along the A170, before turning north towards Hackness and Dalby Forest – and some of the narrowest, sketchiest roads I’ve ever ridden. A car would have struggled to get down some of them and the middle of the road was covered with either gravel or grass. Despite its size, the GTR managed OK.

Having navigated my way through the Dalby Forest on perhaps the most interesting 30mph road I’ve ever ridden I found myself on the fast A169 heading towards Whitby, high up on the moors and exposed to the wind. The more observant of you may have noticed the GTR isn’t a particularly little bike and sidewinds can be a bit of a problem if you’re not on your guard so I quickly headed down into a valley, following signs for Goathland, a village where, apparently, the sheep roam free – relaxing in pub beer gardens and on people’s lawns.

With tea time fast approaching I decided to dive into Whitby Co-op and fill the empty panniers with plenty of fruit and water. Unfortunately I’d failed to take into account the structural integrity of the carton holding my precious blueberries. By the time I’d made it to the picturesque Bay Ness Farm campsite overlooking Robin Hood’s Bay, the inside of the left pannier was completely blue from squashed exotic fruit. Bugger. No bother, the pub beckoned.

At around 5am the rains came and woke me up. Conscious of the fact the GTR was parked at the bottom of a field I quickly packed everything up and left. I’d made the right choice, as the rain only got worse. At 6am on a Sunday morning I had the fast, sweeping A171 to Scarborough all to myself, and with the now completely wet conditions, the GTR was the perfect companion.

The plush suspension meant the GTR felt predictable over surface changes and even though it puts out 139bhp, the power delivery is as smooth and predictable as any bike I’ve ridden. It makes riding good roads in horrible conditions fun. Despite planning to stop in York for a leisurely breakfast, the GTR and I quickly got in the groove, making quick progress on the slick roads. Before I knew it I was back in Barnsley – and ready for breakfast.

The screen and front fairing combine for brilliant weather protection – even with the screen on its lowest setting. Despite the torrential rain all the way back to South Yorkshire I was able to wear summer gloves without my hands getting too wet – only ever-so-slightly damp. Unfortunately the weather protection also works the other way. Wearing textiles when the mercury is getting into the 20s is almost unbearable. Even with all vents on my suit open, I can’t get enough airflow to keep cool.

The breakfast pit stop ended up being at mum’s and after a bit of time to dry off I was back in Peterborough by early afternoon, pleased with how the GTR had acquitted itself on the varied roads of Yorkshire. Were it not for the comfort issue the GTR would have been absolutely perfect, so now the search is on for something a little more comfortable – either an official seat from Kawasaki or an additional gel pad to go on top of the standard seat. If I want to do more miles I’ll have to find something to stop the aches.

Liam Marsden

By Liam Marsden

Former MCN Web Producer