In 2008 I travelled over 5500 miles two up, to the Black Sea coast and back. I’d only passed my UK motorcycle test a few months before, but nerves were never a problem and I had not concept of distance or danger. I had a great time. I vowed to do something similar the following year, and here is start of my ride report.

The bike


Back then my weapon of choice was GPZ500. A great first-time bike with excellent tank range (over 230 miles) and reasonable top speed (well into tipple figures on the autobahn). This time I opted for something a little different. For less than £400 I picked up this from a member of


Ok that picture belongs to Pyroforlife before he dropped it and sold it to me. The plastics were a mess, but at it’s core the bike was sound. I replaced all the fluids in January 2009 and bought a new chain and sprockets (that actually turned into a huge ordeal). I was using the bike to commute to work, then at the end of January… BOOM!  A dozy cow (woman, for those of you not familiar with the phrase)  in a red Kia Rio hit me whilst travelling at 50mph on a country lane. The pictures below record the aftermath.

Between March, when I got the bike back from the insurance company, and June when i was set to travel, I had a lot of work to get through. I found some forums dedicated to the ZX7 series bikes and low and behold one of the members lived just 400 meters away. We got chatting and he offered me the use of his garage, tools, and his expertise.

Together we balanced the carbs, adjusted the valves (really easy on the J1 model as there’s no need to remove the cams), replaced the fork seals, and exhaust. I found a new front fairing cowl from a ZXR750 K1, and the lower fairing from a green J1.

I decided not to travel with the lower fairing on. It did nothing for the look of the bike, and only added to the weight. The only additions or modifications to the bike were a Renntec Sports Rack at £20 on ebay and a power socket to charge my Nokia 80 with Tom Tom.


The rest of my gear was as before. Frank Thomas boots and textile jacket, Aldi textile trousers, a HJC CL-ST lid and two pairs of gloves (important).

As for camping I learned my lesson from the previous year and replaced this:

Bad tent

With this


The rest of the gear comprised of a couple of Vango 50 sleeping bags, good for 15c nights. Vango self inflating pillows and mats.


For the previous trip I had endured enough of the 9-5 and had quit my job. That meant i was able to travel for well over a month before the funds ran out. This time I wasn’t so lucky. I had started a new job some 7 months ago and couldn’t afford to quit. What’s more, I could only get two weeks holiday. That meant with careful planning I could have 16 days of touring. Here is the route. Over 3,500miles of fun.