Paul Newman’s Kawasaki ER6n
It was a warm but damp May night in 1998 and I was on my way home from my role as a Retained Firefighter. Although what happened next is still a bit hazy, I ended up unconscious on a grass verge not really knowing why.
This was the start of a complete lifestyle change, I didn’t know it at the time but I had suffered a brachial plexus injury to my right arm and other issues that still affect me today. I started to realise something was up when I asked the doctor why I had to lie on top of my arm and he replied that it wasn’t and I had in fact now had no feeling at all. The next few months were really tough on me. and more importantly my family. as I tried to re-adjust my life to suit my disability.
Over the next few years my desire to ride a bike again began to grow, my friends and I spent many hours talking through all the possibilities. How, where, who and how much? The next step was to convince my family of the level of passion that I had for riding and that it wasn’t ever going to go away.
Finally, last year I purchased a Kawasaki ER6n from the brilliant P & H Motorcycles in Crawley who were very helpful and spent a long time finding out extra information for me. I chose this bike because of the upright riding position and the fact that the power delivery was reported to be smooth. The last thing I wanted was to be fighting with the front end in the air as I pulled away from the lights.
The next step was to start planning the modifications; this would not have been possible without the passion and dedication of Mark at Pozi Engineering (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the help from the NABD. In the early stages I needed advice on what possible equipment was available and I had many conversation with Wheaver Engineering who was a great help. Mark from Pozi patiently talked me through the options until we decided on the following set up:
I now use the right foot brake to operate the front two brake callipers, the thumb brake operates the rear brake, the throttle was swapped to the left and clutch and switch gear we have left as standard.
Front brakes – We fitted a double banjo bolt onto the existing master cylinder on the foot pedal. I bought the Goodridge ‘build-a-line’ braded hoses and connectors. Although I had carefully measured the route the line would take I added a small bit of extra just in case. After a bit of re-routing and a bit of extra time bleeding the brakes, we have got excellent pressure and progressive braking.
Rear brake – Thanks to the NABD grant, I have fitted the Wheaver Engineering thumb brake and reservoir. For those of you who are nerds like me, this is a beautifully made and engineered part that is fully adjustable which will fit in all positions. We did struggle to get any pressure in it and I will have to spend some time in getting into the best position. Due to the length of hose needed between the rear calliper and the thumb brake, Goodridge don’t make one long enough so we tried unsuccessfully to join two short lengths but ended up buying a length of hose from the local bike shop with connectors to make our own. Mark’s perseverance paid off and as the sun went down we finished.
Throttle – The ER6n has a twin cable throttle on/off cable. After some help from the breakers yard, I found the Diversion FJ900 has a separate throttle (ie. Not part of the switch gear) that we could mount the other way round and has the same cable ends etc. With a bit of work we have managed to get them located so they are smooth, free running, giving me perfect control.
Next came the worrying bit, learning to ride again, not just had it been 11 years since the accident, I had to re-train my brain to use my foot brake more, and do everything else with one hand. Luckily my worries were unfounded and it has now become second nature. I trap my right hand between me and the tank as it’s the most comfortable place.
I have done over 1000 miles since and am looking forward to the weather improving so I can get out again and complete a life times dream of doing a track day at Brands Hatch.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the NABD, Wheaver Engineering, P & H Motorcycles and most importantly Mark at Pozi, without whom riding again would just be a distant dream.
Many, many thanks.