• 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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  • Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy – First Impressions

    You could be forgiven for thinking that the current Renault Mégane was getting a little long in the tooth. Its current guise has been on sale since 2009 and in that time we’ve seen all-new sporting models from Ford, SEAT, Volkswagen and Audi. So to step into the Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy and still be amazed at how well it drives is testament to the astonishing abilities of Dieppe’s finest engineers.

    Renault Megane 275 Trophy 01

    Renault Megane 275 Trophy (image courtesy of Newspress)

     

    Close inspection of this Mégane’s tyres reveals that they are the optional semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s. Pick these and you’re treated to a set of rubber that looks barely road-legal but offers amazing grip. The only problem, apart from the £1,000 price tag, is you need to work hard to generate enough heat to extract their full potential. They may be great on dry, smooth tarmac but on a cold, wet Spring morning they could be terrifying – it’s an option aimed squarely at the track rather than the UK’s inclement weather and greasy roads.

    Hidden behind the 19-inch Turini wheels and Brembo braking system lies a set of £2,000 Ohlins dampers that are lifted from the Mégane N4 rally car. That’s a lot to spend on a damper upgrade but they tip the usual road-car compromise back from cost firmly in favour of ability.

    Some special cars feel right within just a few hundred yards and the Mégane Trophy is one of them. The steering is perfectly weighted and talks back to you, unlike in most modern hatchbacks. It’s incredibly direct too and it allows you to point the Mégane exactly where you want it to go.

    Renault Megane 275 Trophy 02

    Renault Megane 275 Trophy (image courtesy of Newspress)

    The grip from those Cup 2 tyres is impressive. While Millbrook’s ever-vigilant marshals put paid to any serious efforts to test cornering Gs, the Michelin’s ability to cope with 275bhp and 360Nm were impressive. As well as the abundant grip there’s a limited-slip differential shuffling torque between the front wheels, and the result is ballistic acceleration from far earlier in the corner than would otherwise seem sensible.

    The Ohlins dampers are superb. Body movement is tightly controlled but there’s a supple side to the Mégane’s ride that’s absent in the standard 275, which usually comes across as ridiculously brittle on anything but the smoothest tarmac. That’s the benefit of upgrading to the more expensive dampers.

    Renault Megane 275 Trophy Wheels

    Renault Megane 275 Trophy Turini wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres and covering Brembo brakes

    The last Renaultsport product to feature dampers like this was the Clio 182 Trophy. It used a set of Sachs Race Engineering items that cost 10 times as much as a standard Clio’s dampers but they transformed the Trophy’s handling. It’s now regarded as a collector’s item. Is it worth upgrading your Mégane? Absolutely.

    The rest of the car remains as you’d expect. A bit of carbon effect trim, red highlights, some alcantara trim and firm but well-bolstered Recaro seats. The fussy media system remains, sacrificing touch controls for fiddly buttons down near the handbrake. The Start/Stop button also hints at cost cutting, sitting low and far to the left, a consequence of positioning it for left-hand drivers and not retooling the dash layout for right-handers.

    Renault Megane 275 Trophy 03

    Stickers make it easy to identify the Megane 275 Trophy

    Not that it matters. Renaultsport models have always been about the driving experience and that’s where the Mégane still excels. If you can come to terms with the £32k price of a Trophy-spec Mégane there’s little else that can beat its fluid responses and beguiling chassis. It might be outgunned by several rivals and it might not be cheap either, but the joy of driving is still at the heart of the Mégane’s appeal.

    Performance & Economy 2015 Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy
    Engine 1,998cc turbocharged 4-cylinder, petrol
    Transmission 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
    Power (PS / bhp) 279 / 275
    Torque (Nm / lb.ft) 360 / 265
    0 – 60 mph (seconds) 6.0
    Top Speed (mph) 158
    CO2 Emissions (g/km) 174
    VED Band H
    Combined Economy (mpg) 37
    Kerb Weight (kg) 1,376
    Price (OTR) £28,930

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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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  • Split choices for Monza tyres

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    Most drivers have favoured the super-soft tyre in their selections for the upcoming Belgian and Italian Grand Prix weekends.

    However Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have made more conservative choices for Spa, opting for more sets of the soft tyres. Rosberg, unlike Hamilton, has taken four sets of the medium rubber. In contrast the Ferrari drivers will have just one set each of the hardest tyres in Belgium.

    The super-soft tyre is being even more strongly favoured at Monza, particularly among the Haas drivers, who have chosen nine sets of the most aggressive rubber.

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