Hilltop & England, 2019 Summer adventure, day 4

Last Updated on: October 23, 2021

Hilltop Motorcycles in Hinckley was the first destination of the day. Primarily a ride on English motorways, a good way to get used to left hand riding. 

I’d never ridden or driven in England before this trip. I’ve been in the country many times, as a passenger, or used trains and buses. Riding on the left side went all fine, the key point is to take it easy, and go with the flow.

Got up not too early and had the first in a series of English breakfasts. Deemed as English breakfast “light” by a friend. I was later going to find out the truth to that statement!

Light or not, I got fuel enough to keep me running till lunch, and then some!

English breakfast light version. A rich Sunday breakfast by my standards!

English breakfast light version. A rich Sunday breakfast by my standards!

Harwich to Hinckley

The first leg was relatively short. Hopefully also uneventful. First to Hinckley and Hilltop Motorcycles, where I had appointment. I’ll get back to this later.  About 166 miles worth of motorway riding for the most part.

A friend had warned about roadworks, especially around Cambridge. Despite this the estimate was it would take around 3 hours to get there. Which meant arriving in good time before the scheduled appointment.

Hilltop route: from Harwich to Hinckley

The Hilltop route: from Harwich to Hinckley

Packed, full and ready I took off from Harwich and did as planned, following the GPS route (see map above) and trailing cars in front. I got used to left hand riding relatively quickly. 

Waddesdon Rd. Harwich

Waddesdon Rd., a back-road in Harwich, beautifully decorated with trash bags

Riding on English motorways is like riding on any other motorway elsewhere in Europe.  It’s less strange than you think. Some say returning to right hand driving after a visit to England is more difficult. Didn’t feel that way for me.

The next 3 hours or so passed uneventfully. Took off to Hinckley, after one navigational miss I found Hilltop Motorcycles and parked outside. Shortly after arrival my friend Dave showed up, also curious about Hilltop and their “wizardry”.

Parked outside Hilltop Motorcycles

The Red Cow parked outside Hilltop Motorcycles

At Hilltop Motorcycles

Besides of visiting friends and get to see the country, the appointment at Hilltop Motorcycles was a planned stop. The term “chipping” is well known in the car world. This is quite similar.  Doing research on the topic I came across Hilltop Motorcycles, read lots of great, and positive reviews of their work.

Perhaps contrary to conventional belief the software control of a motorcycle engine isn’t necessarily optimal. The guys at Hilltop have done more than 4000 boxer engines.  Tons of good reviews had me decide, lets give this a try.

Prior to my arrival an American client had his brand new R1250GS Adventure on the bench. The bike had been shipped from Los Angeles to England for “treatment” and optimization.

The Red Cow at Hilltop Motorcycles

Rolled into the sacred Dyno chamber.

Finally it was my turn. They rolled my Red Cow into the “sacred chamber”. I’d paid for a Dyno test, costs a little extra, letting me see before/after results.

You can get ECU updates by sending them the unit via mail but, quite naturally, then you won’t see the before/after results .

The Red Cow on the bench

The Red Cow on the bench, observed via a monitor

The first run was just to check the engine and verify all was set.  Once results were in the upload of the new software begun. This programming takes around one hour. At Hilltop they’ve set up a camera and a monitor so you can follow the tests and film them if you like.

Transformation of a motorcycle at Hilltop

Once the software was in place they did the second Dyno test. I could actually hear something had changed! The engine picked up speed a lot faster, the musicality and performance sounded different.

It was time for a test ride. As I took off I thought to myself… OH MY GOD! The torque improvement was absolutely phenomenal. Where before the engine would moan and whimper, now it responded immediately. I didn’t ride it for long, I had no need to. The difference, in engine smoothness, torque and power was easy to register.

Dave & the Buell Lightning

Dave & the Buell X1 Lightning, a different kind of beast!

Done packing the bike up again I thanked the guys. I had the feeling the rest of the vacation was going to be a lot of fun!

A few sights on the way northwest

With Dave in front I was led onto smaller roads. Good to have a rider in front, still adjusting to left hand riding. The bike felt extremely agile, and perfect for my riding style. I tried the then brand new R1250GS last year. My trusted steed was much closer now than before the upgrade.

Collegiate Church of Holy Trinity

Tattershall Collegiate Church of Holy Trinity

We passed a few cozy villages and made a stop at Tattershall, a village and civil parish in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire. Where you find the biggest perpendicular church in Lincolnshire, and the Tattershall castle from 1434.

Tattershall Castle

Tattershall Castle, closed a few minutes before our arrival

Turned out the castle was closed, oh well something to saved for next time.  We continued northwest towards our destination, mainly on small roads. A nice introduction to Yorkshire, where I would spend the next few days and ride about with my friend as guide.

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