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Vanlife with Added Bike

Sideburn has a learner rider on its staff. Andy Garside is our art editor. He lives in a Mercedes Sprinter, with his partner and their two dogs (full-time for the last three years). Now a long-term test Mutt Razorback 125 has been added to the vanlife. You can read the previous post here.

Now time for Andy's latest update.

As you may, or may not, have read I collected a Mutt Razorback 125 at the beginning of September. You may also have noted that my partner, Sophie, and I live full-time in self-converted campervan. So, with the shiny new Mutt in my grubby paws the issue of finding a way of transporting the bike with our tiny-home-on-wheels was next on our list.

We had quickly decided that a bike rack wasn’t a feasible option as our van runs close to its weight limit already. A quick search of eBay (other bays are available) and an ex-rental bike trailer was sourced. Compact and lightweight, it ticked all the boxes. The van and trailer fit perfectly into two standard length parking bays making it infinitely easier to move it about. Well, I say easier, but there’s been a steep learning curve in reversing with a trailer that we’re still riding on. I always thought assembling a tent was the true relationship tester. I was wrong. It turns out trying to go backwards in a van with a short trailer attached is the ultimate test of your collaborative abilities with your loved one.

Van – check!

Bike – check!

Trailer – check!

An over optimistic and naive idea of driving about with said trailer – check!

Let’s go!

A test road trip was needed to make sure we’ve not made a terrible mistake in adding a bike and trailer to our lives, so we set off on a mini trip through Wales to catch up with friends and hopefully catch some late-season surf.

Also, the beauty of having the bike with me at all times suddenly becomes apparent. If we wake up and the weather’s good I’ll roll the bike off the trailer and head off, leaving Soph to deal with the ‘support vehicle’ and catch me further down the line.

After my disastrous attempt in getting lost trying to leave Birmingham a few weeks earlier I invested in a Beeline sat-nav for the bike. This saves the day when attempting to navigate the tangled web of Cardiff’s streets to meet up with a Canadian mate, and fellow Mutt rider, for a ride out. He won his on an online competition. I know, I didn’t think those things were real either! Anyway, the sat-nav gives me that confidence boost in my navigational skills and I’m getting lost a lot less now.

The whole test trip was a great success. We needn’t have worried about driving with the trailer at all. We don’t notice it’s there and you soon get used to making sure you have a decent enough turning circle avoiding the need for any awkward reversing situations.

Despite having a run of design projects all come to a head at the same time keeping me tied to my screen more than usual, I’ve still managed to clock up 1,000+ miles on the bike in a relatively short space of time and most of my first impressions of the bike still stand.

I love the design of it. As a designer the aesthetic is really important to me and the Razorback has it by the bucketful. The red paint is spot on and sits so nicely next to the gold of the upside-down forks. The single, offset, clock and the lack of any side-mounts on the headlamp keep the front end clean and simple. And that straight line along the bottom of the tank and continued through the seat, lovely!

I’ve got used to getting comments on the bike every time I park it up. The understated branding and unique design gets people guessing every time as to what the bike is, most thinking it’s a custom build and plenty not realising it’s only a 125.

Day to day life with the Razorback? It’s easy and uneventful, in a good way. Reliable.

The bike is nimble, light and a piece of cake to ride. Seat height is a lofty 890mm, which gives a great view of the road ahead without feeling like you’re riding too tall. I’ve learnt to avoid open fast roads, it’s only a 125 so you can’t expect to be keeping up with fast traffic all day. But on the twisty country roads it’s in its element, the tyres giving confidence to throw the bike about, and the combined braking system brings you to a confident stop.

The ride is firm, very firm (which I only really noticed after riding a Kawasaki Z650 for my bike training). Part of that is to do with the slim profile seat – it’s designed for looks not touring. But also, I’m a creaky middle-aged bloke, so when I go on a four hour-plus ‘quick’ blast in freezing temperatures I should realistically expect to be pushing the boundaries of comfort on the Razorback. Trust me, look after your spine kids. Suspension isn’t adjustable, let’s be serious here, we’re taking about a bike that costs less than £3500 on the road.

I’d want to try wider bars, but I totally understand the fact that the bar width is restricted with what’s going to fit in and around city traffic on a daily commute. I’m 6ft tall with quite ‘gangly’ limbs and I’m used to riding trials bikes and 780mm wide bars on my mountain bike. I think wider bars would suit my riding style more.

There have been two mechanicals. The first was an electrical fault (traced back to an exposed connection behind the side panel) that shorted the sidestand cut-off switch. This left me stranded as I had gone out with empty pockets. A simple multi-tool would’ve been enough to get myself back on the road in minutes. Another lesson learnt there. The other was the speedo cable snapping.

All in all I’ve loved having the Razorback in my life. It looks and sounds fantastic, and is an absolute blast to ride. I finish every ride on it with a big grin on my face, what price do you put on that?.

1 commentaire

10 nov. 2021

Nice piece on the little red ripper, Andy. Man, am I ever intrigued by your van life. I look forward to meeting one day.

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