London to the Highlands and back on a shagged GS500

Hello all, i have just arrived home after doing 1800+ miles up to the scottish highlands on a GS500… Thought it might be an interesting read for any of you who are getting tired of doing laps of the north circ or find the A13 blast to essex or the Brighton run a bit boring. Its copied from my original post at another forum and is a bit long… enjoy.

Continuing on from my last thread “london to scotland on a shagged bike” heres the story of the journey up:

Right Well i made it

Left at 6AM, Blasted all the way up the A1 from london, was in scotland by around 11:30am, did 100ish most of the way, on the way up the gear lever started slipping off the cogs, had to tighten that up, got covered in grease. Every 200 miles or so i had to top of with oil.

Anyway, lovely all the way up to Edinburgh, Then it started pissing down with rain, and everything went wrong. First inoticed a few specs of drizzle, i thought oh well it will pass, it got steadily worse, then i noticed my bike was VERY noisey (could hear it though the ear plugs), So i stop to put on waterproofs near musselburgh, And by this point i think my exhaust is blowing (most likely the gasket gone…) It was so unbelieveably loud, sounded like a Jap harley. Heading towards the forth road bridge there was jam packed traffic but my exhaust was so loud the waves parted and i went down the middle even with panniers on. Now heading on the M90 To perth its really started to bucket down. I get to perth and pull up at a roundabout (beginning of A9) behind a truck next to a biker on a shiney Triumph, Momo Open face helmet. Quick exchange “where you heading, inverness, oh me too”… So we follow each other, at a leasurely pace, not only because of the BUCKETING down rain but my bike is fucked, feels like its loosing compression at this point.

So after 70 miles or so of the worst weather i have ridden through for a while we pull over into a layby so he can have a fag, we get talking properly, hes an older guy (maybe 50-60) and from Dumfermline, I think his name was John, Im telling him about the last 400 ish miles and the bike going crazy, his lighter wont work because of the rain, so we light it off the exhausts . Anyway after a while of talking, im asking him if he knows any bike shops in inverness that may do stop welding, he doesent, but then an RSV Millie pulls in and John seems to know this guy. So all three of us are standing around in a layby on the a9, in the pissing rain shooting the shit, appreciating the lovely scottish summer, wringing our gloves out… We head off, and i realise i have about 10 miles of petrol left. I manage to drift lon fume sinto a local station and fill up. By this time we are maybe 20-30 miles south of aviemore, and the sun comes out HALLELUJA!!!

Strip off the waterproofs, change back to my summer gloves, and we all head off, Mr RSV mille pisses off at about 160, im back up to 90 ish (making an unholy loud noise)… the bike seemed better at higher speed, and kind of cleared up after the rain stopped. I say by to John the triumph man, and head off to inverness. Another couple of hours later and im at my destination. SpinningDale. 50 ish miles north of inverness. The roads up here are AMAZING,

Switchbacks, Esses, Hairpins, massive crests you can see over, so you can take them full pelt. Amazing views. Twisties as far as the eye can see. A did about 100 miles yesterday up into the back of beyond, more amazing roads. I get to Lochinver (look it up lol) and bugger me theres about 20-30 bikers up there, its like being at the ace cafe. talk for a bit and head back… Now my bike is running rough, feels like the air filter is blocked and the spark plugs are fouled… have to go really easy for the 50 miles back to my uncles. Kinda spoils the ride back.

Now i am sitting here, hopefully tonight or tomorow taking the bike to a guy who knows everything about bikes and hopefully he can sort me out, maybe weld the exhaust, look at the carbs… Otherwise its gonna be 50mph chug chug all the way back to london, if it makes it.

I will keep you all posted and upload the pics when i get them developed (beautiful scenery…)


Yep I am still up here and i will now post the saga so far:

I took the bike to see the friend of my uncle, who i will call Mr R. He diagnosed the problem straight away, both exhaust downpipes had snapped off from the cylinder head, so effectively from edinburgh north i had no exhaust, which explains the rough running and mega noise.

So he tries to weld the flanges back on the downpipes but thanks to the previous owner… cough cough you know who you are, the pipes had been brazed and could not be welded. so i was fucked. The next day i rang a breakers in aberdeen and ordered secondhand downpipes of a '89 GS500, for 55 quid inlcuding delivery and vat, (ouch), to my surprise they arrived the next afternoon… Highlands Postal service is much much better than down south. they actually care about the post up here.

at this point i should give some background on Mr R, Hes a big waster, alchy, druggy… everything… not exactly the most reliable person… I ring him the next day, and he tells me i need a gasket (ok fair enough), so i plod back to inverness (100 mile round trip) get the gaskets and turn up at his house, hopefull and expectant that maybe today i will have a working bike and can attack these beautful roads at more than 40mph. Nope Hes on a bender… So follows two days of not much, sitting in watching sky and playing board games… well at least the scenery is lovely.

I manage to contact him 2 days later (today), I rang him in the morning and he says he will do it for 4 cans of special brew… ok fair enough, beats 1 hour labour. So bing bang bosh, my end can is a bit fucked but its on, and after having a shot on his dirtbike and a lovely GSXR-750 (slingshot, before the SRAD… mad fast) (Wow… i shitmyself with that much power under me…). I was off. back to my uncles to dump my gear. I wont get into the whole story of his wife. she is well crazy and was mouthing off about giving him alcohol (fair enough, but hes a 40 year old man, he can make his own choices)… Anyway i digress…

So i set out from Spinningdale heading to Ullapool… by this point the bike is operating at 80%, not full power but enough to finally have some fun…

And my god theese roads are heavenly, Singletrack roads that wind and undulate like you would not believe. I have just got back from what i can easily say was the finest 3 hours of my biking life. EVERY RIDER should experience these roads… Fuck europe, fuck the nurbergring… You got everything you need less than 600 miles from you (thats if you are as far south as london). And you CAN do it on anything, as my crappy GS500 is testament to. Yes there may be bumps along the way but i am sitting here pumped full of adrenalin with the fattest grin on my face.

So it seems with much sadness my week in the highlands is coming to an end, i will most likely be heading south tomorow morning, Inverness- Ft William- Glasgow - South South South will be the likely route. Wish me luck, or should i say wish the bike luck. As the chain and sprokets are sounding dodgy the back tyre is getting awfully worn, and anything could happen. But i will update this if and when i make it home, and hopefully will have some beautiful pictures to share with you all…



Hello All,

I made it! Smile

Left the highlands at 8am, said by to my family and set off, and no sooner do i leave it starts raining. So on go the waterproofs, Uneventful ride 50 miles to Inverness. Get there, buy petrol/oil and look down and see that my exhaust has melted a massive hole in the bottom of my right pannier (it has heat resistant material on the bottom but not on the part that zips out and expands…)… So a quick bodge with some duct tape and a road atlas and i am good to go, even if a pair of earplugs and a packet of paracetamol are now pertmanently welded to my end can…

At this point the bike is running about 80%, It will get up to speed, but in no hurry, if you open the throttle it shudders and splutters, to get the revs up you have to go full throttle and then wind off slightly and then you get a little “boost”… very frustrating but the scenery from Inverness to Fort William to Glasgow is absolutely amazing, stunning, spectacular… I have run out of words… And thats in the rain… in the sun i would probably crash from looking around too much.

So i get just north of glasgow after that lovely ride and the exhaust is blowing really loudly again, im thinking FUCK the downpipes have snapped off again and its gonna be a chug down south at 40mph… I stop in Glasgow for petrol and to have a look, luckily the bolts that secure the downpipes have just loosened, i put it down to the new gaskets compressing and then the vibes shaking them loose, so i tighten those and thankfully the bike stops blowing. Result!..

However the bike is still running crappy, So i decide im done with A-road hoonery and i want to get home ASAP, so i hop on the M74 from glasgow and head for Carlisle. A 100 odd miles later of motorway torture being overtaken by EVERYTHING, i swear a three wheeler overtook me… gah!, At this point im fed up with the bike so i just leave it in 5th and let the revs climb to 10k and stay there (bare in mind absolute redline is 11k and i usually shift up at around 7-9k… The engine is screaming but at least i am shifting a bit now… So i get off the motorway at Penrith and head to Scotch Corner on the A66. I decided the A1 was the best option down to london…

Now this is where things get strange… I fill up with petrol at the scotch corner services, put in the regular 100 mile top up of oil (my god she drinks) and head to “The South” on the A1… A few miles later i am getting bored of the rolling on and off throttle for my “boost” and so is my wrist, i go to overtake a car and notice the bike is suddenly responsive… Strange…

Hold on a minute here im in 6th now and im still accelerating past 100… Thats not ment to happen, not on this old banger, its a miracle, Praise JEEBUS.

So completly out of the blue and very welcome the bike has now fixed its self. The rest of the Journey down south from Scotch Corner is somewhat a blur of me with a massive smile overtaking all those bastards that were giving smug looks as they overtook me in their mondeos. Pretty much kept a steady 100mph from Scotch Corner to london… bar the odd roundabout and petrol stop… Im glad the bike is working but i am gobsmacked as to what happened… did the excessive use melt the gasket in place and form a nice seal?? is there a god? i will never know, but what i do know is the bike started playing up when i got north of scotch corner on the way up and remained that way till i past it on the way south… very strange, maybe there is some sort of GS500 Electromagnetic pulse that fucks with my suzuki north of this point…

Anyway So i am sitting here winding down now, i have calculated over my 7 days i have done 1858 Miles (1200 up and down and the rest in the highlands) . My back tire is completely bald and square, it looks stupid, i will post pics.

Here is what i have learned:

  1. Once you leave london everyone is nicer, Most bikers give you a friendly wave or at the very least a nod, most car drivers pull in to get out of your way.

  2. The roads in the highlands are the best i have experienced and i have learned more about riding bikes in the last week than i have in the past year around london (mind you it takes different skills surviving the city to scraping the side down on single track roads)

  3. If you are planning a trip, anywhere it can most definately be done. Whatever you ride, wherever you want to go just do it. All you need is A decent set of Tools and a Haynes if you need it, Waterproofs and Thermals and a fuckoff roll of ductape. If in doubt take out brakedown cover. It is well worth it, the amount of fun i had on my old banger makes me think that if i had a nice reliable bike like many of you do it would be 10x as good.

Well with much sadness that is my advanture complete, untill next time that is Smile

PS - I will upload the pictures when i get them developed. Got some nice shots i think.


Excellent story mate, might have to head norf myself one of these weekends…

sounds like the nuts of a trip.

sounds very exciting! i must get up to Och eye the nooh at somepoint on me fazer!, might even go up in the winter!! ha ha x

no really sounds like you have had a great time even with the challenges, hope it all goes well for the descent!!

Great read… Sounds like you had a great time. Haven’t been to Scotland for years and never done it on a bike… Mmmm, I wanna go now…