My Personal Interests


My personal interests are many and varied.  In this section of my web site I describe and document them.  Please use the labels to the right to search for posts on specific subjects.  


Many of my posts can be bundled as they are essentially projects (like some of my bike builds) and these are linked in the project listings on the right.  These are divided into current projects and archived projects. 


I cover my language studies in a separate blog section that is linked in the home page. 

My Studies

I also love to learn and I document my studies here too.  I like to take courses on These are some of the courses I have completed:
  • Master the RSA Public Key Crypto System (Danie Brink)
  • Learn to run Linux Servers (Linux Academy)
  • Introduction to Linux as a desktop (Linux Academy)
  • Introduction to Bash scripting & Python 101
  • Docker & Kubernetes; the complete guide

I have leveled up!

I had always planned to upgrade from the Kawasaki Versys-x 300, but I was planning on that early next year.  However ... I feel like I have outgrown the Kawasaki.  The little 300cc engine is great around town but, I have done some longer trips recently and I have found having to rev it so hard to be tiring to ride.

I spent some time cogitating on what to get next. I wanted something bigger, sportier, and capable of long runs, but would be relaxing to ride, but also not a cruiser. I boiled it down to four bikes; The Indian FTR, The Triumph 1200 Scrambler XC, Moto Guzzi V85TT and the BMW RNineT Urban G/S.

I took all four out for test rides courtesy of my local dealers and honestly I loved all four of them, but I had to pick one.
Moto Guzzi V85TT

The Moto Guzzi is a great bike full of character and is plenty of bike for what I want. It would be great for a long run and fine for a little off road where necessary.  it also has luggage capacity for when I feel like a multi day trip.  However it is an 850cc V twin with about 80hp.  Next year it is (if the rumors are correct), a new version is coming out with a larger water cooled engine and I think I would rather wait for that one.

Indian FTR 1200

The Indian FTR was an absolute blast and definitely bought out the hooligan in me so that was a no go.  I also eliminated the FTR as I am not sure it's all that comfortable for a long run. 

BMW RnineT Urban GS

The BMW Urban GS has both modern and retro elements to its look and feel, and is a fantastic bike to ride. The only issue I had with it was the price tag because of all the option 719 add ones, however all the add ones ad to the look making it something very special.

THe last bike was the Triumph scrambler 1200xc.  I chose the XC version and not the xe as the XC has a lower seat height which fit me better.  I liked it but really wanted it in the green color and there was not one locally to be had, so I opted in the end and after an agonizing decision for the BMW.

... and here it is!
The bike is amazing. I had a 50+ mile ride home with it and it was a blast on both the highway and the backroads.  The chunky tires are going to be great on some of the hard packed dirt roads around here, but I have to admit that on the highway they don't handle as well as proper road tire would.  Still fun though.

I am looking forward to putting some miles on the BMW before winter, and I might see if I can get a few long rides on the bike just to see how comfortable it is.  It seems ok so far, but it does have quite the sporty seating position; not full on sport bike, but not upright either. I wonder how that will feel after a couple of hundred miles?  Only one way to find out!

Versys Tail bag

I want a bag for the Versys. It doesn't have to be complicated or large, just a bag that I can put a bottle of water in and rainwear.  It is for small things.  Given that I am fairly decent at sewing, I figured I would make it myself, but the cost of the materials would be more than the bag is worth, so I decided to modify a cheap bag from Amazon.

The bag I got was this one as it seemed about the right size: 

The Rack
Looking at the bag and the rack, I figured that the bag would be a pretty good fit to the rack, and I could use the tie downs on the side of the rack to hold the bag in place.  
Looks about right
So how do we move forward with this to make it fit.
Most of the strap just in lips but there is one part where it is part of the bag.  That we will need to cut, so:
Cut Here
Now get your mum's sewing machine and run some grossgrain ribbon over the cut area like so (see below)
Get your mum to help
The ribbon finishes the edge and will stop it from fraying.  It's a bit rough as I have not done this for a while. So now that we have the bag without its strap, we need to figure out some way to fix it to the rack.  It needs to stay in position firmly and there are a number of ways we can do this.

I am not interested in being able to remove the bag quickly so rather than use hook and loop (Velcro) I will use tri-glides.  These can be obtained from local craft shops or of course from Amazon and other online retailers. I am also going to use some 1" webbing for this next part, and this can also be obtained from almost anywhere.  

The bag came with MOLLE webbing on the side (unlikely to ever be used) and the D rings for connecting the strap, so I decided to repurpose those:
Webbing and the D Ring

By carefully cutting the stitching on the webbing I can create a short length of webbing that will hold a tri-glide instead of a D ring. This will allow me to secure my attachment straps at one end of the bag.  The other side has a strip of webbing bar tacked onto the bag, that passes through the rack loops and under the rack.  This can then be tightened with the tri-glides and the bag is secure.

The 1" webbing and tri-glide.

To prevent the back from sliding around too much, I made a belt that can be used to cinch it down tight to the rack.. The smaller straps will stop it from moving too much but it still lifts at speed and just feels a little unsteady.  The belt will hold it tight to the rack.
1.5" webbing with a 1.5" buckle

Wrapping the belt around the bag and tightening it down provides very solid contact to the rack.  I might play around with a few other ideas but for now this will work.

And here it is in all its glory

The bag is the right size for the rack and usually carries my rain jacket, and a bottle of water.  The belt that I made also cinches down the bag to the rack, with the two smaller straps going through the rack loops stopping the bag from moving around.  I have had this up to ~75mph and it seems to be very solid.

Modding the Navi - Part 4

In this post we are going to fix the helmet lock.  As it leaves the factory, the helmet lock is completely useless.  There is not enough gap between the lock assembly (a piece of bent steel) and the chassis to be able to get a helmet D ring in there.

So you need to open up the gap for the helmet lock to work.  I recommend a large flat bladed screwdriver and a towel.  Use the towel to protect the paint work


Just a gentle push is all it needs to move the metal a few millimeters.  This will allow your D ring to pass unhindered, and allow you to still lock the seat in place.

Close up!

And that is it, this is an easy mod.  You don't even need to do this if you don't use the helmet lock.

Kawasaki Versys-X Quad lock

One of the things I wanted to throw on the Versys was a Quad Lock for my phone.  I use my phone for Maps and Rever applications.  I use an Apple iPhone 14 Pro so I picked up the phone case and motorcycle mount.  I spent some time messing with the position, but this is what I settled on. 


I only have the standard motorcycle mount, but I might add the vibration dampener although the little 300 twin really doesn't make that much vibration.

A better view of the whole assembly

It works really well so far but then I have only put about 100 miles on the bike with it so far, so its early days at the moment but if anything interesting happens, you know I will post it here.

Modding the Navi - Part 3

In this third part of the series we are going to focus on the cosmetic changes.  There are a number of changes that can be made and I guess I need to decide what sort of look I am going for.  I could go with a sport look, or a cruiser but I think I want to make this street scrambler or adventure bike styled.

The Saddle Bags

Now I don't want to load this bike down that much, weight is an issue with an engine this small, so I went with token saddle bags.  There are a lot of options out there, but what I went with were these.

Sub Delivery?

I have not tested this hypothesis yet but I suspect a Jimmy Johns sub will fit in there nicely.  There is an argument to say that these are not needed given the storage box, but a little extra space might be handy.

The Screen

Based on the videos from Life of Burch, I chose the following screen from Amazon to put on the bike.

Looks good!

It should be pointed out that there is an issue with the kit in that being a universal kit, it does not have new mounting screws for the brackets and the Honda screws are not long enough to fit with the screen.  So off to the local hardware store for a pair of 25mm x M5 bolts, some washers and spacers to provide some rigidity to the attachment point.

Remove the front reflectors

The front reflectors are gaudy and in my opinion unnecessary, and in fact very easy to remove. Just two screws to undo and the whole reflector assembly will come off. 

Then put them back so you don't lose them.

Once I had the reflector assembly off, I put the screws back in the holes just so that I know where they are.  Amazon does have a little Navi badge that fits here so I might invest in one of those.

Add the Quad Lock

The last thing to add is the Quad Lock mount for my phone.  While I don't plan on running the Navi long distances so I won't need navigation, it is handy for music and just some place to put the phone.  The best place I have found for the phone is on the thin crossbar, so the mirror mount is the one to get.

It can obscure the instrument cluster

The only issue with this location is that it can obscure the instruments, mostly the indicator light for the flashers.  I wondered about putting the Quad Lock mount on the mirror stem and it does work. In fact I filmed some video with my camera mounted that way.

Anyway, that is enough for now, I will write other posts with more cosmetic changes as well as the performance changes.

Modding the Navi - Part 2

Now before I get to carried away with performance modifications, I need to figure out what difference the mods make to the Navi.  This means I need to baseline its performance.   

Baseline the performance

So what is baselining the performance?  This is where we figure out the basic performance parameters of the bike.  Manufacturers spend a lot of time and R&D effort on this sort of thing.  We don't have that sort of budget so we need to take a simple approach.

So how do we do this?

First we need to define what we are going to measure and how we are going to measure those parameters.  Now this is tricky because there is a bit of a chicken and egg problem here, but in essence I need to measure speed and acceleration.  But how?

Well there are now a number of apps that can measure speed based on GPS and I have a GPS enabled iPhone so I think we are in business.  The app I went with in the end was one called Car Test.  As you will see in the screen grabs from my phone it gives me all the basic information that I need for my baseline.

The next thing we need is a repeatable surface to run the bike on so that we are using the same road surface and road length each time.  I am lucky here in that the major road next to my subdivision is long, straight and flat and is not normally busy.

What results did we get?

So I played a little with the software to figure it out and then did a couple of runs.  These are the screen grabs from those runs.

Run 1
The top speed is a bit of a surprise at how low it is.  The Navi is supposed to get to 50 mph but then I weigh a little over 200lbs so I guess it's hauling a bit of weight, not to mention the drag. 

Run 2


The parameters that I am going to look at are the zero to 10, 20 30 and 40 along with top speed and quarter mile. As it stands right now a top speed of 45mph with a quarter mine of 26-27 seconds is our benchmark.

Modding the Navi - Part 1

The new Navis are great.  You may recall from my earlier post that we purchased two; one for my wife to learn to ride on and one for me to play with.  We got one in red and one in Grasshopper green.  I have taken the red one and my wife has named it 'Lunch Box" and she has taken the grasshopper green one and its name is apparently 'Navicado'.  I don't normally name my bikes but here we are.

This is what happens, it just does

So currently both bikes are stock but I want to play with mine a little.  I plan on splitting my mods up into two parts; cosmetic and performance.

Cosmetic Changes

The cosmetic changes will reflect what I want the bike to look like and the possibilities here are endless. I am not going to go with a cruiser or sport bike look with it but I might turn it into a little cafe racer or maybe a little scrambler. 

Performance changes

There are some performance mods that are a must on the Navi; replacing the air box, modifying the CVT and tuning the carb.  I may also look for a big bore kit if such a thing exists. It would be interesting to see it with a 125cc motor instead of the 110cc.  Care must be taken here though as the brakes are only simple drum brakes, and these small tires may have a speed rating that limits performance.  

I also want to approach the mods from a somewhat scientific standpoint so I will baseline stock performance and then remeasure performance after each performance mod, so that we can see how much bang we get for our buck as it were.

Another Bike to add to the list.

One thing that I have not yet mentioned yet is that my wife also rides. She has just completed her Trike training course and now has her trike endorsement. But I am not going to write about the trike yet.  Her next step is to get her motorcycle endorsement so, she needs a bike.  After some consideration we decided to get her a Honda Navi.

The Honda Navi is a 110cc 'motorcycle' although in reality it is based on a scooter platform. It has a CVT transmission and drum brakes.  It is not sporty but it is one of those bikes that just makes you giggle.  The Navi is part of Honda's mini-moto line along with the Grom, Monkey and others.

The role of the Navi is to get her used to life on two wheels and so far she is loving it. What helps is that I actually bought two of them so that I can ride with her.

Special Delivery!

Because the Navi has a CVT transmission it means there is no clutch or gears to worry about.  This means that new riders can concentrate on the ride, and maneuvering rather than worrying about what gear to be in. That can come later.

Because I got two of them, I got them in different colors so that she can choose the color she likes. She went with the red, so I get the Grasshopper yellow.

The red one is known as 'Lunchbox'

The picture gives you an idea of how small these bikes are. I am 5'10 and about 210lbs in this picture and I look like a silverback on circus bike.  So far I have managed to put about 24 miles on mine, and they are an absolute giggle to ride, despite the 12" front wheel and 10" rear wheel.

In terms of performance, it is best described as lacking.  I can squeeze about 45mph out of it with the throttle pinned and it takes a while to get there!  But, still fun. 

So the wife is going to ride hers and train for the motorcycle test, and I am going to mod mine, a lot I think.  In fact I am going to run another project and will document that here in future posts.

My First Versys-X Mods

One of the nice things about motorcycles is how available customizations and accessories are. It is also the case that most motorcyclists will modify their bikes in one way or another, and I think this is much greater than the number of car drivers that modify.

So I have already started to modify my Versys. I have one modification and one accessory that I have already added to the bike.

My First Accessory

I need my phone with me when I ride for navigation and for music.  So after a dig through Instagram and the web, I decided on a Quad Lock case and mount and I have to say it was easy to fit and looks great.  Rather foolish of me but I did not take pics of the mount, but then I guess you have all seen a phone mount before.

My First Modification

I noticed that when I got the Versys over about 50mph, I started to get a lot of wind noise and buffeting around my helmet. Ducking down behind the screen cleared that up so clearly I needed a taller screen.  After some research I ordered a Puig screen from Revzilla.  The process of changing the screen out is very simple and hardly worth writing about.  The whole process took maybe 10-15 minutes as it is just 4 bolts.

The old screen

The new screen

After fitting the new screen I took the bike for a short ride where, after letting it get warmed up, I took it up to about 75-80mph and the wind noise and buffeting is now much more tolerable.  I need to take it out on the highway and give it run to see how tolerable highway riding will be but my first impression is that it will be just fine.