• The Rescogs Guide to Winter Biking

    Riding a motorcycle in Winter happens for a variety of reasons. For some of us, the lack of a car or car license makes it a necessity. Scottie went through almost 20 years relying solely on two-wheeled transport, come rain, wind, sleet and snow. For others, it’s still worthwhile to avoid the endless traffic jams and the joys of public transport. But it isn’t all doom and gloom when the days get shorter, especially if you do it right.

    Good Reasons to Ride in Winter:

    • A dry, sunny Winter day is awesome. A dry, sunny Christmas day is even better, as most car drivers (And law enforcement operatives) seem to either be in front of the TV or in the pub. Which means empty roads away from town centres.
    • You’ll still be sharp come Spring, rather than spending the first couple of weeks getting used to being back on a bike.
    • You’ll also build up a good feeling of smug superiority over fair weather riders, and endless tales of Winter riding to bore them with when you speak to them.
    • Winter Hacks: A chance to pick up something different and cheap, and then abuse it.
    • Winter kit: It gets better, and cheaper every year.
    • You might have to be a bit more careful, but you’ll still get there faster without having to worry about traffic jams.

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  • Ford S-Max – Don’t Be ‘Sports Dad’

    Purchasing a new Ford S-Max should be regarded as a textbook example of refusing to stand out from the crowd. While being one of the herd is traditionally frowned upon, actually in the case of the new S-Max it’s highly beneficial. Unless that is, you’re ‘Sports Dad’.

    Ford S-Max Static 03

    ‘Sports Dad’ wants to be the best. He wants to the best so much, that he’ll pick the biggest engine with the highest bhp output on his new car just so everybody knows he is the man. Basically, ‘Sports Dad’ is the guy you avoid like the plague when you go and watch your own kids football team playing because he abuses the referee and generally makes a monumental tit of himself. Fear not reader, I’m here to show you how to get the best S-Max for you, all while getting a better S-Max than ‘Sports Dad’ and saving a bit of money in the process.

    The guy we all love to hate has already chosen his S-Max, and naturally it’s the one that sits at the very top of the S-Max pyramid – the 2.3 236bhp litre petrol powerhouse. Ford expects only 1% of all S-Max buyers to take this one up, but that’s ok because ‘Sports Dad’ has always thought of himself as being in the top 1% anyway. For us though, let’s think of that 1% as those people who are so keen to distance themselves from the herd, so keen to look special, that they’d go as far as to shoot themselves in the foot in a bid to impress others around them.

    Ford S-Max Driving 01

    Yes, as tempting as it may sound on paper, the ‘sporty’ variant of the new S-Max is certainly not the high point of the range. It’s an engine that just doesn’t feel at home in this car, lacking the torque needed to launch the heavy S-Max, and despite that high-ish power output, in reality it doesn’t feel anywhere near as quick as the spec sheet might have you believe. The 6-speed automatic Ford has attached to it doesn’t help either, a pure cruiser unit that’s clearly not been designed to deliver on the excitement front, and to be fair why would it? ‘Sports Dad’ will tell you all about the flappy paddles, but I’ll tell you that it’s so lacking in shift feel you wonder why they even attached them to the steering wheel in the first place. Ford hasn’t offered a manual option with this engine, but even with that option box open I still think it would be a poor choice. Despite the disappointment with this particular powertrain, this is where the problems with the new S-Max end.

    Ford S-Max Interior 04

     

    Some drivers will naturally prefer some of the more conceptual design flair seen in some of France’s latest offerings, but it can’t be said that the S-Max isn’t a handsome looking beast. The strong, angular lines make this one of the best efforts at putting together an attractive people carrier that I can remember, it looks like a car with real class and that continues inside. From the moment you step in you can see and feel the improvements in the interior, with plenty of quality materials applied to make the cabin a genuinely pleasurable place to spend time. The seating is particularly excellent, providing a hugely comfortable and supportive place to park the posteriors of you and your family. The S-Max now feels more premium than ever before and – through these eyes at least – is a nose ahead of the interior environments found in some of its rivals.

    Ford S-Max Interior 02

    As it’s the modern age, the class and comfort of the interior would be nothing without decent technology to back it up, and there is some very tasty tech to examine. The SYNC2 system is a must have, and while the interface and arrangement of the software is good, the touchscreen it’s wrapped in can occasionally be unresponsive. Other useful features include split view cameras to assist in pulling out of parking spaces and junctions (not something obnoxious yet genetically superior ‘Sports Dads’ will ever feel the need to use), a variable ratio steering setup that Ford has even managed to squeeze the mechanism of inside the steering wheel, and a system to monitor road signs and adapt the speed limiter to match them, theoretically preventing you exceeding the speed limits. For those show offs who always have something new to stick in the garden, boot space starts at 700 litres in 5 seater mode, but the 2 seated van-like layout will bump that up to a cavernous 2000 litres, perfect for that gazebo hauling, faux-brick BBQ buying dad who always calls you ‘mate’.

    Ford S-Max Interior 01

    So, how do you stick it to ‘Sports Dad’? By knowing the following important information; those who love to drive will ultimately gain more pleasure from one of the more powerful diesel manual options than the petrol powered brute discussed earlier. The new S-Max is a brilliant cruiser, being both remarkably quiet and hugely comfortable and when driven as such it’s a joy, even if as the driver you do feel a little detached from what’s happening outside. With one of the more grunty diesel engines, the excellent manual gearbox, and ‘Titanium’ spec, you’ll have a truly excellent car on your hands. This might be about as good as a people carrier gets. Refined, comfortable, practical, and perhaps most crucially it’s actually quite desirable. It’s also cheaper to buy and will depreciate less than the flash git’s top spec model. That means when you lift lazy waves from the steering wheel of your S-Max outside the school gates, you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re in the better car.

    So, who’s winning now ‘mate’?

    2015 Ford Galaxy

    Performance & Economy 2.0 TDCi Titanium X 2.0 EcoBoost Titanium X
    Engine 1,997cc tubocharged diesel 1,999cc turbocharged petrol
    Transmission 6-speed manual, front engine, front-wheel drive 6-speed automatic, front engine, front-wheel drive
    Power (PS / bhp) 180 / 177 240 / 236
    Torque (Nm / lb.ft) 400 / 295 345 / 254
    0 – 62 mph (seconds) 9.5 8.3
    Top Speed (mph) 131 140
    CO2 Emissions (g/km) 129 180
    VED Band D I
    Combined Economy (mpg) 56 35
    Price (OTR) £33,845 £35,205

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  • Buffalo Children’s Motorcycle Kit

    The choice of what level of protection you need from motorcycle clothing generally comes down to personal preference for adults. If you’ve reached a reasonable age, ridden for a while, and want to ride in T-shirt, shorts and trainers, ultimately that’s down to you. But it certainly doesn’t apply to children, especially when options like the Buffalo children’s motorcycle kit make it relatively inexpensive to kit them out.

    Not only does it cost under £130 to sort a child with a jacket, trousers and gloves, but they’re also designed with adjustable sleeves and legs to help them accommodate a bit of growth. And even when you add the cost of a suitable helmet, you’re still looking at less than the cost of the latest games console.

    The Buffalo Ranger Children’s Jacket is a versatile waterproof textile number with front and rear vents, plus a removable thermal liner. There’s CE-approved armour at the shoulders and elbows. And the fit can be tailored to each child with adjustable Velcro straps at the cuffs, upper and lower arms and waist.

    Buffalo Ranger Childrens Motorcycle Jacket Black

    There are also expansion zips on the sleeves to make them longer as your child grows. So you should get a decent amount of use from the Buffalo Ranger before you need to get a larger size. The jacket also has reflective details, and both internal and external pockets to stuff with sweets, pebbles and everything else the typical child accumulates.

    Buffalo Ranger Childrens Motorcycle Jacket Black Neon

    The Buffalo Ranger is available in sizes XS (6-7 years) to XL (13-14 years), and comes in either Black or Black/Neon Yellow. It costs £59.99.

    Also available are the matching Buffalo Imola Textile Trousers, in the same XS-XL sizes. They feature the same waterproof textile, and include Thermomix insulation and a removable quilted lining. The knees get CE-approved armour, and again, you can use the expansion zip system to fit longer legs as time goes by. The Buffalo Imola in kid’s sizes cost £46.99.

    Buffalo Imola Childrens Motorcycle Trousers Black

    Finally there are the Buffalo Tracker Gloves which come in Junior sizes S-L in Black, Red or Blue. They’re made from suede leather and textile with a twin overlay on the knuckles and palm. Waterproof, windproof and breathable, they also have a thermal lining and a Velcro-retained wrist strap to keep them on. Plus a pull cord to stop rain getting in the top and leading to a pair of small, cold hands and complaints. The Buffalo Tracker Gloves cost £18.99.

    Buffalo Tracker Childrens Motorcycle Gloves

    Other options are available, but the Buffalo children’s motorcycle kit shows that it doesn’t have to be expensive to kit out a youngster. And that’s important when a 7 or 8-year-old has little concept of danger, gravel rash or how to question their safety if a parent is taking them out for a pillion ride.

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  • Renault Scenic review

    MPVs were all the rage back in the day, but then along came SUVs and crossovers of a similar size and their popularity plummeted.

    Renault reckons sales have now reached a plateau and there’s still plenty of mileage left in people carriers. So much so that it’s launched a fourth generation car (and stretched seven-seater Grand Scenic sibling).

    Some 6.5 million Scenics have been sold globally since Renault pioneered the compact MPV segment in 1996. However, the new car is like no other.

    Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic

    Priced from £21,445, the Scenic and Grand Scenic boast a dramatically distinctive design with sculptured, swept-back styling, a steeply-racked windscreen and big standout 20-inch wheels.

    Elsewhere, there are key features we’ve come to expect from the ‘Renault Renaissance’ including a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, a strong mix of economical petrol and diesel engines, excellent packaging, a state-of-the-art infotainment system and a classy feel.

    Starting with the interior, the new Scenic is slightly wider than its predecessor and has a longer wheelbase which means there’s more space inside.

    Renault Scenic

    Always a strong point for any MPV, the Scenic doesn’t disappoint with ample room up front and in the rear (though check the rear head space if you plan to carry taller passengers), plus there’s a class-leading 572 litres in the boot or 1554 litres with the back seats folded down, (there’s a simple ‘One Touch’ operation which can be activated from inside the boot or via the touchscreen).

    The Grand Scenic is much the same, just a little longer and with a third row of seats, though it has to be said these are really only for small children. There’s 189 litres of boot space with the third row of seats in place – 596 with the seats down.

    In both the Scenic and Grand Scenic, nifty little fold-down picnic tables are available for rear seat passengers.

    Renault Scenic

    The lower part of the centre console also slides back into the rear seating area. It’s certainly different, but we’re not 100% sure why. Yes, it frees up a bit of space up front, but maybe the main reason is to separate children a little in the back or just to give them extra storage and closer USB ports. Who knows?

    What we do know is that the interior is bathed in light and the visibility is excellent thanks to acres of glass, that enormous windscreen and an optional full length (fixed) panoramic sunroof.

    The seats are very comfortable and the driving position is high, which should suit SUV and crossover buyers. The Scenic also sits slightly higher than the outgoing model.

    Renault Scenic

    A large centre dial dominates the binnacle in front of the driver, while to the left sits Renault’s excellent R-Link 2 infotainment system featuring a generous 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, first seen in the new Megane, with full connectivity.

    There are four trim levels (Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav) and all variants get air-conditioning, electric windows, DAB radio and automatic emergency braking.

    The list of other options and driver safety aids is extensive, ranging from Adaptive Cruise Control to an awesome BOSE sound system.

    Renault Scenic

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  • £212,904 – the cost of a lifetime’s motoring

    The average motorist could buy a property with the money they spend on car care over a lifetime, reveals new research.

    Online car repair marketplace, ClickMechanic, claims we spend £212,904 on maintaining our cars over a 63-year driving career.

    We’ll also buy a total of 14 cars and spend an estimated 12,600 hours (or 525 days) of our lifetime behind the wheel.

    Driving costs start with the average learner driver spending at least £690 to pass a test, and taking around 20-30 hours to do so.

    Insurance is another time and money drain with more than 80% of drivers now buying their car insurance online, with most spending approximately an hour comparing prices and purchasing policies. Over time, this could cost as much as 63 hours of your time and £29,000 over your lifetime.

    Further figures revealed that whilst modern cars are reliable and owners may only be looking at calling out mechanics approximately twice every three years, this equates to an average of £683 per repair.

    In real terms, this could amount to a staggering £28,686. In addition to the cost, the survey found that we spend an additional 84 hours waiting around for our car to be serviced at an average cost of £19,700.

    Add to these figures the 84 hours plus £28,560 we spend on road tax, breakdown cover, replacement tyres and parking it is easy to see how the cost in time and money escalates over a lifetime.

    Depending on how far you commute on a daily basis, you could be looking to spend at least £101,000 on petrol or diesel alone to fuel your car and as much as 600 hours (or 25 days) at a petrol station throughout the course of your lifetime.

    It was also found that the average amount spent on MOTs during those roadworthy years could be around £3,000. MOTs can be even more expensive if you need repairs, but they can also be time consuming. The average driver spends over 60 hours waiting for MOTs to be undertaken.

    Cleaning your car uses up precious time and money too. The survey found that even cleaning a car racked up the hours. For all weather washes, that’s approximately 168 hours, if it takes 40 minutes to clean it by hand, or take to the car wash/valet. Washing your car four times a year at average cost of £9 per time adds up to £2,268 over your driving lifetime.

    Even the smallest of car-related chores, such as putting air in the tyres, can add up. What may seem like a five-minute job, racks up a surprising total of 63 hours at the tyre pump over the course of a lifetime!

    “It’s staggering when you add up how much we invest in buying, owning and maintaining a vehicle over our lifetime, both in terms of time and money spent,” said Andrew Jervis, co-founder of ClickMechanic.

    “We all lead busy lives and are stretched for time, so anything that helps us save time as well as money is a bonus and many of us use cost comparison websites and other platforms to try and reduce the time spent comparing quotes and making sure we’re paying a reasonable price.

    “We’ve tasked ourselves to bring trust and transparency to the automotive repair industry. Being able to source a mechanic easily or get a quote for a repair online has to go in some way towards that, both in terms of saving time and knowing how much you should be paying for your repair.”

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