We set up an imaginary home in Chelmsford, and explore the nooks and crannies of Essex. No, it's not crap. And it's a great place to buy a shed
If you live in Scotland or Wales or the Yorkshire Dales, Essex doesn't have much for you. Compared to the biking paradise on your front doorstep, it's on the busy side. If, however, you live in London or its orbit, a day or two in the land of the East Saxons could make a refreshing change from your usual routes, without the time and expense of trekking to Scotland or the like.
Let's fact it. There are usable biking roads everywhere, and that includes Essex. You might need to lower your expectations, and you might need to ride around in circles a bit, oh, and getting up early always helps.
We've picked three routes. Very broadly speaking, one hugs the coast for a while, one follows the River Thames for a bit and the other is a rural, inland affair. For no particular reason, all start and finish at Chelmsford, the county town. Regard it as your home for a couple of days. Go on, enjoy yourself.
Some general do's and don'ts.
Avoid these places: Romford (and anywhere else west of the M25), Colchester, Basildon, Harlow, Southend, Brentwood and Chelmsford (except for going to and from your imaginary home). They're just too busy.
Avoid these roads: the A12, the A127 and the A120. Ditto. Especially the wretched A12. Even when it has three lanes in each direction, it's always a depressing grind.
But don't be scared of a couple of roads whose reputation does them a disservice: the A13 and the M25. Much of the London-Southend A13 has now been very successfully dual-carriageway'd, and if you're happy to filter every inch of the way the M25 is often the quickest way from place to place.
Continue the routes around Essex
Doubtless the SV1000S is selling by the container-load to a large cross-section of the biking public. But I can't be the only old duffer who reckons the most appealing thing about it is the way it looks like a modern regeneration of ye olde Katana, especially in the silver of TWO's test bike. Lots of angles and edges, and that 'not quite finished' thing that divided opinion of the Target Design-styled Katana. Not sure any Katana ever had welds as scabby as the SV's, though.
The twin also has some of the feel of the bigger Katanas: long, low, sturdy. Think Thunderace, or VFR. But unlike their smooth, revvy fours, the SV has a smooth, revvy, torquey V-twin, which suits it well. It also suited the mixed twisties and dual carriageways of our three routes.
That said, I found it very uncomfortable, but that's probably more to do with me than the bike. Not impressed by its range, either - 100 miles and then the light comes on. Blame the titchy tank capacity of 17 litres rather than the fuel consumption, which was 42mpg under my steady wrist.
Not a bike to fall in love with, perhaps, but you could get very attached to the way it covers ground quickly, looks good and stands out just enough from the ubiquitous fours.
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