Thursday, 23 October 2008

AAI 2008, Year End

AAI Presentation - 001
Meeting up at Xtreme45

So what began with the mini fun run earlier this year and registration for the Annual Across Ireland main run on the last weekend of August has finally been wound up with a presentation on the 19th October with details of the final funds raised.

So how did we do? The BIG number first...over the course of the AAI's 9 year history we have now broken the €1,000,000 mark. While the total raised this year came to €177,592 which easily beat all previous amounts raised. The final number of bikes taking part this year was approximately 1000 together with 14 traffic police and 20+ marshal's.

AAI Presentation - 017
The €1,000,000 Cheque!

AAI Presentation - 018
This years total, €177,592

The presentation was kept brief and just meant as a thank you to everyone involved, from the organisers, the sponsors and those who make it all happen through the fund raising. The great news is that some 98% of the money raised will do straight to the children who benefit from the Make-A-Wish foundations activities. There was also a minutes silence for the participant that lost his life on the run this year and for prominent members/supporters of the AAI that are no longer with us.

Following the awards and thanks given the organisers went at lengths to stress that none of this would be possible if it was not for the effort put in by everyone who signs up to take part in the ride-outs. So Xtreme45 & Bridgestone had provided a couple €€€€'s worth of goodies which were raffled off, though those you raised the most funds in sponsorship were given first pick. They also had a certificate for everyone who had registered to say they had taken part, a very nice touch I thought.

AAI Presentation - 011
Some of the people that make this so successful

What started out as an idea has grown into Ireland's premier motorcycle run which will be going into it's 10th year in 2009. Thus the organisers intend to do something 'special' to commemorate this milestone! If you keep an eye on the AAI website it is due for a redesign in the coming weeks while a DVD of the events that took place this year will also be made available with the money going to charity. Also for those who want to start signing up for next years event the AAI have stand M12 booked at the Irish Motorcycle & Scooter Show 2009 due to be held between February 27th to March 1st 2009.

AAI Presentation - 007
The real stars...

Below you should find a map showing the route we took on the day from Xtreme45 to the City North Hotel. It was very straight forward with us all going two-by-two. The marshals were once again working hard while we passed through streets of onlookers with people waving and cheering at us. The positive response we seem to get from every town we pass through is great to see.

View Larger Map

So point your browsers to the AAI website from time to time or simply keep coming here, I will update with information as soon as they get in touch!

As always, keep the rubber side down.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Lightning Strikes

Buell Lightning XB12S - 001

While my Buell Ulysses XB12XT was in the dealer for some tweaks I was given the Buell Lightning XB12S to keep me on the road. The dealer wanted me to give it a go since this specific version of the Lightning is being discontinued for 2009, being superseded by the lower XB12Scg version and longer wheelbase XB12Ss version. So after transferring my insurance over I went out to meet my new ride for the next 24 hours.

The first thing that strikes you is that is looks tiny! Literally just two wheels, a seat and that 1203cc Thunderstorm engine holding it all together. Pillion pegs are provided but if I owned one I think all pillion provisions would be the first things to go as comfort must be negligible except for the tiniest of grid girls! Looking over it further I can only have appreciation for what a tidy package this is. I got to use the Kawasaki Er-6n for 5 weeks earlier this year and that is 'supposed' to be a naked bike, compared to the Buell it really does not factor especially when you remember that this has a 1203cc V-Twin lump from Michigan wedged in!!

Buell Lightning XB12S - 003

Starting the Buell I am met by the now usual thunder from the engine, it then settles done as it warms up. Straddling the bike only further unnerves me as I try to get my head around the compact size of this beast. This forces me to keep reminding myself that there is 104bhp on tap and some 104nm (77 ft lbs) of torque so respect is due. Being a Star Trek fan I can not help draw parallels with one of the TV shows most popular vessels, The Defiant. It too was a tiny little ship...but also arguable one of the most powerful!

Back from the realm of fantasy I twist the throttle and get rolling. Out on the road I am introduced to something even more surprising, that this thing is nimble! Filtering (lane splitting) takes on a whole new dimension as the Lightnings maneuverability allows me to put the bike anywhere there is a gap big enough to take some points I think I am defying physics. The Ulysses is a very fun bike but the lightning is even more extreme and brilliant fun.

Buell Lightning XB12S - 005

Out of the commuter traffic and on the motorway I can not stop grinning, because as you lean yourself forward into the wind you are struck by this sense that you are flying down the road, there is no fairing in front of you, nothing but road disappearing beneath at a rapid pace. This is totally thrilling and only the rumble from the engine reminds you that you are still a mere mortal.

24 hours was never going to enough time with the Lightning, it is a terrific piece of engineering. The compact dimensions mated with the big V-Twin engine was perfect for me, you get the flick-ability of a small sportsbike mated with the cruising ability of a large displacement cruiser. This is utterly fantastic and is a highly recommended experience for all. I appreciate this combination over speed any day, though do not get the wrong impression as this bike can reach at least 210 km/h (130 mph) according to the various motorcycle news media.

Buell Lightning XB12S - 002

Now the only question that matters...would I buy one? As a standalone bike my honest answer is no. This is based on my needs which are a everyday commuter who needs the luggage, I also take off with my partner for weekend breaks/touring when possible so the Lightning simply does not fit this. But most 'bikers' these days do not fit this profile so do go and check these out if you are in the market for a naked bike which is genuinely built for the real world! A BIG thanks to Dublin Harley-Davidson for the chance to try out this motorcycle.

Keep the rubber side down.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Power for the (Mobile) People

All images form Lion Battery

Well the good news is in, a 9-cell battery for the Advent 4211 has been made available by the very good people at Lion Battery. Earlier last month (September) they became resellers of the official MSI Wind 6-cell battery, this 9-cell creation they have developed themselves and in theory should provide up to 7 hours off the mains.

This is a tremendous achievement and will give the MSI Wind family of 'netbooks' a whole new level of mobility, in many cases allowing users to go all day without having to plug-in. This is what I (and many others) have been waiting for and I have already placed a pre-order with Lion. Note though that the release date is the end of October so realistically it will be early to mid November before I finally get my hands on it.

From looking at the images on the site the battery is obviously very large looking though a major advantage will be having the keyboard angled towards the user. The Advent 4211 also has the tendency of falling away from the user rather easily, the shape of the battery should virtually eliminate this. My only concern is that in a few lecture rooms were the desk is angled towards you this could lead to an excessive angle. Though you can not have it all and it would seem the advantages more then outweigh the disadvantages.

For full specs CLICK HERE (there is a white version too)
I also recommend the MSI Wind forums

Naturally once the battery has arrived and I will give a review of what I think.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Farewell Feisty Fawn

Has it been 18 months already? Seemingly so, as Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn reaches the end of its supported life. This may not be a huge deal as the releases that have come since have just been better and better. Now we are just a few weeks away from the release of Intrepid Ibex at the end of October.

Feisty Fawn was my first experience of Ubuntu and it made a convert of me from the instant I inserted the Live CD all that time ago. I installed it as my sole OS and have never looked back, never have I had a major issue that could not be fixed quickly, any loss of information, any freezes, any virus's...nothing to make me want to go back to propriety, insecure, buggy & over priced alternatives.

So farewell to Feisty Fawn & thanks for the memories.

Ubuntu, Linux for human beings.