Sunday, February 12, 2017

Helmet Stink

In the process of cleaning all of my motorcycle gear for our pending New Zealand tour, I grabbed out my helmet which is usually stored on a shelf with all my other clothes. It needed a clean as it was smothered in bugs, I'm sure that Shoei was spelt with an I. Yes there were quite a few of the little critters stuck to it.

I usually clean the outer surface of my helmet with a bucket of warm water and a chux wipe and some good old fashioned elbow grease. After about 10 minutes the helmet came up looking pretty good.

I took a close look inside and my nostrils were assaulted with the stench of months years of old sweat. Erg god the humanity, the stench was nearly unbearable I thought to myself, no point in having all this nice clean gear if I vomit on it every time I put my helmet on. So it was out with the Shoei manual that came with the helmet to see how to pull all of the cheek pads and inner linings out.

What's the worst that could happen? Maybe I couldn't put them back in again and would have to purchase a new helmet. I can live with that, I'm prepared to take that risk.

To my surprise the cheek pads and inner lining came out really easily, I wonder why I'd never done this before now. To my complete surprise and horror the inside of the helmet was absolutely filthy, not just sweat but there was dirt, dust and a whole platoon of dead insects inside. I've only had this helmet for 3 years as well. God  knows what would have been inside the lining of my last helmet as it was 8 or 9 years old.

Left: Bugs galore.

Right: Dirt, dust, debris and bugs.

I decided on following the manual and just hand wash them in warm water. I also added a dash of liquid detergent that I normally use in the washing machine, I figured it couldn't hurt if we use it for our clothes it should be fine for the cheek pads. After hand washing for 5minutes and a 15 minute soak, it was out onto the line in the shed to drip dry.

Back in the house I got the visor and cleaned it. I've been having a few problems of late with the visor. No matter how I clean it, it always has a hazy looking streak across the visor that I haven't been able to get rid of. That is until now. I bought myself some Plexus plastic cleaner and gave that a go. What a difference that made. The visor is completely clear again, no haze and some of the scratches are barely noticeable. Its look as clean as the day I bought it. This plexus stuff is pretty good even though it bloody expensive.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

2015 R1 Long Term Review

After a year and a half of ownership of a brand spanking new 2015 Yamaha R1 I thought it was time to put down some of my thoughts on this machine and do a long term review based on my experiences with this bike. Now I'm not going to go into all the technical specs of this bike as there are magazine articles and online reviews which tell you all about the bikes tech specs, rather I will go into what's it like to own and live day to day with a 200hp modern sportsbike.

First a little history of the previous R1, which ran from 2009 - 2014 virtually unchanged in this time except cosmetics and in 2012 the addition of an electronics package which added traction control. These model R1's did not have ABS, which was one of the reasons I held off buying until the new model came out. These model R1's were the first bigbang(Crossplane) engine R1's which basically means the engine has a 90° firing order which gives it the best of both a V twin engine with down low torque and the benefits of the high power output top end of an inline 4 cylinder engine. These R1's have a very distinctive exhaust note, much similar to a V twin but its an inline 4. These model R1's had twin exhaust pipes up under the seat and reading on forums they roast the riders in hot summer weather.

The 2015 R1 is an all new bike from the ground up. Its 998cc inline 4 cylinder with crossplane engine. There are two versions of the bike the R1 and the R1M. I got the standard base model R1, the main difference is the R1M comes with electronic adjustable suspension and full electronics data logging package. The design focus of the bike went back to the original design spec to be the fastest race bike at the track, no compromises, lighter(199kg) and faster(200hp) with a sophisticated electronics package unparalleled  on a road bike and with development testing even coming from Motogp Champ Valentino Rossi. The dual underseat exhaust pipes have been replaced by a single exhaust can on the right hand side.

With all that said what's it actually like to own and ride a road bike that is focused for winning at the track? This might seem like a stupid thing to do but lets see how it actually goes.

Picture above right is me on the day of purchasing the bike at the dealer.

First Ride Impressions

From the very first ride out of the dealers and up onto the Putty Road I was pretty impressed with the bike. Even though I was still running it in it had an awesome power delivery. The engine is silky smooth with heaps of power starting around 4000rpm and then pulling extremely hard around 7-8000 rpm to the point that at first it was intimidating with how fast and savage the power kicks in. The engine in this is truly a savage beast, but at the same time tamed by the electronics.

The ride by wire throttle is especially jerky in A mode Power 1. I ended up riding the bike in C Mode with power 2 or 3 setting just to make it smooth and linear more like a carbureted bike.

The next really noticeable thing was how hard the suspension and seat were. The suspension can be adjusted but what about the seat? It's built for the track so the standard setting are way to hard for road riding especially on our dodgy Australian roads. Needs to be softened to be usable. Also the seat is way to hard.

The bike has incredible nimble steering, sometime I was tipping into corners to soon, it has a very neutral steering and carves up corners like butter.

First Ride Out

Day to Day Impressions 

First impressions were correct and the suspension has been set up for the track. Backing it off on several different occasions I found I had it backed off to the very minimum setting just to make it bearable for road riding and it's still a tad on the hard side. The suspension is actually quite easy to adjust with the an allen key on top of the head stock fork risers. Funny though the allen key is under the rear seat, and now I've put on the single seat cowl you need an allen key to get the seat cowl off. D'oh.

The seat was way too thin and lacked any sort of padding, it was only 15mm thick. After  2 days of riding I ended up with a sore back and really couldn't ride another day. So it was off to the re-upholsterer and a gel pad insert and extra foam padding was inserted. This was the fix I was looking for but still at the end of a full day in the saddle I get a sore butt, due mostly to the firm suspension.

After the initial run in period the engine has freed up at about the 10k km mark and putting a Yoshi 3/4 pipe on had made the exhaust note a lot beefier but also it builds even more power now, not that you need it, plus the combined ECU flash it takes out the snappy throttle and actually makes the bike ride able in A mode Power 1. Oh that engine is so, so sweet.

First gear is extremely tall to the point of being a bit ridiculous to ride, what do I mean by this you ask? Well first gear is capable of sending you straight to Jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars.  The bike capable of about 170kmh  in first, far too tall and I think a sprocket change will be in its future. The flip side of this is, in a set of tight twisty bends of 35kmh corners you only use first gear leaving you to concentrate on braking, accelerating and corner speed and working on that perfect line without the hassle of gear changes.

There are generally two type of bikes. There are bikes that you sit IN, and bikes that you sit ON. The R1 is definitely in the later category when you get on the thing you feel like you are sitting on top of it feeling like you are perch up quite high.

The R1's fuel consumption can be a bit of a contentious issue. On the very first ride out I ran it out of fuel with 211km on the clock, D'oh. That was a bit embarrassing I must say. However since the run in stage the bike can get surprising mileage. Surprising at both ends of the spectrum, where I've seen 4.9L/100km doing highway miles and at the other end of the scale when at Sydney Motorsport park it guzzled a whopping 14.35L/100km, yep 16.5ltrs for 115kms. So if you hit your favourite set of twisties a bit on the hard side the fuel consumption can rise dramatically, just be careful.

The standard OEM tyres on the R1 are Bridgestone Battleaxe RS-10, RS stands for "Racing Street" and 10 stands for many kilometers your going to get out of them with hard use. Seriously though I used 2 sets of the RS-10's and they are a great sport tyre but they are for the track. The RS-10's are the stickiest tyres I've ever used and possibly as good as the slicks I used previously on my old R1. They are great track day tyres and I got about 2700kms out of each set, much too little to be riding on the road unless you've won the lottery.

Over longer distances the R1 can become a bit hard to live with. With the long reach to the low bars, high foot pegs combined with the hard suspension and seat. Day rides out are usually fine, but when you string together 5 days in a row at 500kms a day, by the end of the last 2-3 days it so relieved to get off at the end of the day.

The bikes steering geometry is bloody fantastic having a shortwheel base it's inducive of quick steering and when you are out on your local twisty bit of tarmac this bike urges you to attack each bend, it wants you to go faster and faster. If your riding at 50% pace it tends to feel slow. These modern sportsbikes urge you on. But it is so sharp in its steering coming out of one corner it is so easy and effortless to just flick it into the next, sometimes to easy. On unfamiliar bumpy roads though the suspension is hard and this can cause you to start bouncing off the bumps leaving you feeling uneasy and pushing wide, its then an effort as to how fast to attack the bend and you usually end up going in slowly and cautiously until powering out. Another bike that soaks up the bumps better will probably easily keep up with you in these type of situations and feel better to ride too, but when it's a smooth bit of black top its hard on the gas all the way to the point of effortlessly getting your knee down on the road.

This bike is capable of speeds of 300kmh which is bloody fast in anyone's language. It's interesting to find that the Japanese have a great sense of humour as I found this little gem pictured below in the owner's manual for this 300kmh missile. If you shifted this bike at those speeds you'd be stalling it.

Shift into 6th doing sixty, yeah right and stall it and crash more like it

MotoGP Inspiration

It's clear to see the motogp heritage that has be handed down from the Yamaha M1 race bike directly to the R1, from the top triple clamps to the grille like indents in the petrol tank, straight from Rossi's machine. Even if you don't like sportsbikes there's something that is just sexy about them, just like their race bred brothers they are born from.

R1 Headstock

M1 Motogp Headstock

R1 Tank
M1 Tank Design

The Dash

The dash itself is a coloured LCD unit with everything easily accessible. The dash board layout and subsequent menu's and sub menu systems are something like out of the starship enterprise rather than a motorcycle and even turning on the ignition it sounds as if it going to take off.

On the right hand handlebar is a click wheel, much like a computer mouse wheel that scrolls through various menus or for changing the smaller readouts like kilometers/fuel consumption/trip meter/temperature etc. On the left hand handle bar is the Mode button with up/down buttons to change the settings.

Main Dash Layout - Street mode(Track mode is displayed in the video below)
Above - Scrolling the click wheel changes the display where Trip-1 and Fuel consumption is shown and puts up other useful information. The Street mode is the base setting for the road, which can be changed for the track. In Track mode the taco starts at 8000rpm and the gear indicator is larger and the speedo becomes smaller there is a lap timer where the main speedo used to be.

Modes are shown at the bottom of the screen, you can see in the above picture it is in Mode A, Power 1(highest setting), TCS - traction control on 3, SCS - slide control on 2.

Some of the info displayed is quite useless such as the brake pressure indicator on the right hand side where it shows the picture next to the bike. If your accelerating hard a blue bar will indicate the amount of force on the back wheel where as the opposite happens when braking hard it shows the pressure under brakes with the bar going towards the top of the bike which is kind of pointless because you cannot look at these when you're riding anyway.

Below - Holding down the click wheel for 2 seconds takes you into the menu system where all of the more advanced system settings can be changed. Items such as the traction control setting, mode setup settings. You can fully customize each mode. There are 4 modes as standard A(Warp Factor 10), B(F*cking Fast), C(Bloody fast), D(Not quite as fast as Bloody fast). It took a little while to get used to the timing of the click wheel button as I kept going into the menu instead of resetting the gauges.

Main Menu
Below - These are the Yamaha Ride control settings which are all adjustable and completely customizable. For obvious reasons you can't change these whilst your riding but realistically you wouldn't really need to anyway. You can change some of the settings with the mode button on the fly without entering this screen anyway.

PWR - Power
TCS- Traction Control System
SCS - Slide Control System
LCS - Launch Control System
QSS - Quick Shifter System
LIF - Lift Control/Anti Wheelie

YRC Settings
I initially changed a few of these setting but now rarely touch them as it is pretty damn good without making adjustments, but they are there if you need them. I would suggest that these are really for the track and there's not much discernible difference on the road with the exception of the power mode - this changes the whole characteristic of how the bike delivers its power.  It was unrideable on the road in A mode until I got the ECU flashed which smoothed out the jerky throttle and made A mode actually usable. Whats so important about riding with a smooth throttle you may ask?

Let me explain it like this then. Riding at Sydney Motorsport Park(SMSP) as fast as I possibly can and at the edge of traction, braking hard into a bend and rolling off the throttle it would just instantly power off and put pressure on the front tyre which if enough can cause the front to lose traction, and on the other side putting the throttle back on it would put the power immediately on lurching weight onto the rear tyre unloading the front tyre which can also create a front end lose. It was just not smooth, since the ECU flash it is now smooth in A mode power 1 and is usable but you still have to pay attention otherwise if you are a bit ham fisted with the throttle you can still jerk the power on too hard too quickly.

Below - For track riding you can set up the display so that when you press the high beam flasher it starts the lap timer and it can be reset each lap when you press the flasher again.. Yep those are my lap times for Sydney Motorsport park last year. I might be slow but I'm consistently slow. Australian Superbikes lap SMSP in 1:30. Yikes

Lap Time Recording

At the Track

This bike was born for the track, it's in it DNA. After all it is what it is designed for. So what is it like when you're at the track where there are no limits.

What can I say but, it's...... #FAN F#CKING FANTASTIC.

This bike is absolutely rock solid at the track, not once did I feel like I was out of control in any way and the quickshifter and horsepower really come into their own here. Not to mention the firm suspension is simply the best at the track. This bike feels like its on rails. This would be where you could really experiment with the traction and slide control to test its limits out. The bike feels like it can do no wrong and really inspires you to push harder and harder until you hit your limits, which is much sooner than the bikes limits. The high footpegs that were bad for riding on the road are long forgotten here and are perfectly placed. I would need to do multiple track days to get better and better.

Here is a little snippet of my fastest lap of SMSP on my new R1, at my fast moderate old guys pace. Notice the Track mode display instead of he street display.

If you are in the market for a track only bike, then this is the bike for you. Look no further sell your kids and your house and get an R1 and take it to the track. It's more addictive than any drug and you will absolutely love it. It's the ultimate track bike.


Here are the modifications I've made to the bike, some are cosmetic and some have functional purpose to them.

Ventura Rack and Bag - This is pretty well essential on longer 5/6 day trips away as carrying a back pack on this bike is not really a pleasant experience, plus I can take a lot more things now.

R&G Fender Eliminator - not really for any purpose except to make the bike look sexier, one thing I have noticed though is that a lot of debris flings off the tyre and now hits the number plate and the rear brake light. I noticed a crack in the brake light from a stone chip. Mud also sprays up onto the number plate and brake light covering them in crud, both good and bad depending on the circumstance.

Ventura Rack and R&G Tail Tidy
R&G Radiator/Oil Guards - I decided to put these on straight away as my old R1 radiator looks like B17 bomber after a mission over germany, there's that many holes peppered in it and fins bent out of place the engine runs hot because its blocked up so much.

R&G Radiator Guards
Pazzo Shorty Levers - I wasn't sure whether or not I'd like the short levers but easily adapted to them and now will never go back, they look so much better than the horrible ugly standard OEM items. I see other R1's now with standard lever and they look horrible.

Pazzo Shorty Levers

Oggy Knobs - Front/Rear axles sliders and frame sliders just as a bit of peace of mind in a small low speed drop, these saved Bushpigs R1 at Phillip Island in a 130kmh crash.

Oggy knobs
Single Seat Cowl - The R1 was never designed to take a passenger and even if you did I couldn't inflict that much pain on another human so it got ditched along with the rear foot pegs. Now it looks all MotoGP. So this was just for cosmetics only. Note the seat only comes off with an allen key so there's nowhere to put that except in the ventura bag, no bag no seat off. But on that note there's nothing under the seat except 2 allen keys and seriously you'd have trouble fitting your credit card under there.

Single Seat Cowl
Re-upholstered seat - After my first 2 day rides to Philip Island and back I couldn't ride for a third day, the seat only had 15mm of foam, so I got a 15mm gel pad insert and 20mm of foam on top, and I must say it has made 5/6 day rides bearable but that's not to say I still don't get sore, I do its just bearable now.

Extra padded seat

Yoshimura Alpha1 3/4 Exhaust - This was always going to be on the cards, this R1 crossplane engine sounds so sweat, not like an inline 4 but more like a V Twin and this Yoshi pipe looks and sounds the goods.

Yoshimura Alpha 1 3/4 System


So to sum up this bike there are a couple of bad points which as you'd read previously are the hard suspension and the ultra thin seat combine that with the race crouch  and after several days in the saddle can be very difficult to live with. Fuel consumption is a bit heavy at times but what can you expect with 200hp on tap.

On the other side of the fence there are plenty of great things that I love about this bike. I love that crossplane engine, it sounds glorious at full noise. The engine is the heart and soul of this bike and sets it apart from every other inline four cylinder superbike on the market. The quickshifter is a lot of fun and its handling is superb, it carves up corners like nothing I've ever owned. I've got my knee down more in my forties than I did in my twenties, it's the bike not me honest!

I also love the styling and head lights on this thing, that's a bit of a personal thing as many others think the front looks ugly. I love it though because if I didn't I'd be selling it.

This bike is great for local rides and day trip out on your favourite twisty roads or a track day, but the multiple day tours start to get difficult around the 3rd day and at the very end of each day you start getting sore. The first half of each day is usually ok but the bike just wears you down by the end of the day, this is also subject to road surface conditions. Good road surface then not so bad for 5 days, bad road surface can mean slowing down to cope with it and I've actually taken a day to recover from a ride until I've felt better again. But this road surface was extremely poor.

Whatever you want to buy a bike like this for just don't buy it as a touring bike. I have bought it as an everything bike, day trips, touring, track days. It's a superb handling bike and you won't be disappointed with it or it's performance in any way, it's just not great for touring on. If you want a pure track bike, then this bike is for you you can't go wrong. You can tour on it, but you'll just have to put up with the sore butt. Might have to try one of those air hawks and see how that goes.

The 5 year plan

I've not really spoken about this on the blog before but I have talked about it amongst my riding friends. When I bought the R1 I knew it was going to be a hardcore bike to ride on the road because of its sports focus and lets face it I'm not getting any younger, now I'm just shy of 44 years young. If I was 27 then most of the comfort issues would be a lot more bearable. I had considered a couple of other bikes but the R1 really just drew me to it, like a moth to a light.

The R1 was only ever going to be a 5 year plan at best. Yep you heard it right. 5 years of ownership I gave myself on this bike before I think I won't be able to ride it anymore and then it will be time to choose something that's more comfortable to ride and tour on. I'm 20 months into that plan so far. That's not to say I don't like this bike because that couldn't be any further from the truth, I love it in fact. But I've come to realise as I get older that sooner or later I won't be physically up to riding a sportsbike and it's why I chose it now rather than later, because if I went the other way and got something that was a bit more cruisy then I would have been wondering in 5 or 10 years time gee I wish I really could have ridden another sports bike but by that time it would be physically beyond me. Now I am still young enough(just) to ride one so I will until I can't anymore.

2 R1's at Mt Lindsey, Queensland

Friday, January 27, 2017

Starting 2017 with a bang

How lazy am I? Its nearly the end of January and I haven't even been out on a ride yet, although I do have a few reasons for this. Someone take me out into the back paddock and just put me out of my misery, please. I've been busier than a blue arsed fly what with work and other family commitments, and the result is that riding has been on the back burner. Time to change that and quick smart. Too much work and not enough play. I organized a quick fang up to Tarlaga for lunch and then back again. A call to Bushpig and plans were hatched and we were soon under way, and he even invited his friend Saint Pat.

Meeting up at Bushpigs place we headed up out of Sydney along the Bells line of road, one of Sydney's classic biking roads across the blue mountains. We did notice however on the way across the Bells Line some of New South Wales finest hiding in the bushes with their hair dryers. Not sure if they were drying each others hair do's or trying to burn out our retinas at distance so we couldn't read our speedo's in the hope we'd mistake 80 for 60kmh, but none the less they stayed firmly where they were planted, in the bushes.

Riding across the bells line with its twists and turns I'd noticed that my bike wasn't handling like it normally would. You see I've been a bit lazy and still have the mismatched tyres on the bike. The rear is not the original size or matching brand for the front. It was tipping in nicely but the rear didn't want to follow at the same rate, a bit of a weird feeling really, but never the less I adapted and pressed on.

We stopped just after Mt Victoria for our first stop just past the lolly shop for a break and a bit of a chat. We turned into Cox River Road as I'd recently heard that it had been sealed all the way through, which turned out to be false. Cox River road still has a couple of kilometers of dirt on it, but its really easy riding dirt.

Three Gems in Little Hartley

Main Street of Taralga
We then continued on through to Oberon via Duckmaloi road for our first fuel stop of the trip. All the bikes had used within a half a litre of each other, so not much difference.

We headed down to Taralga via Shooters Hill road rather than the more direct and more boring route of Black Springs. Shooters Hill road is much more scene up through the pine forest to I might add so if you're in the area you have to pass through this way. Saint Pat and myself had swapped bikes at Oberon and were trying each others bikes out. The Ducati 1098 wheelies straight off the throttle coming out of town, weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.................... It was a very narrow bike in comparison and handled very well. I don't think it turned quite as quick as the R1 but was still very good. Comfort wise seemed about on par and it also had a hard seat and it felt a lot like you sit down inside the bike and not on it like my R1.

Taralga Hotel
By the time we got to Taralga there was a bunch of bikes parked out the front of the pub and most of the tables had been taken. I jammed my hand under the screen of the ducati whilst trying to park it, between the bars and the screen on full lock it comes together which I thought was a bit dangerous.Lunches ordered we relaxed and  looked at the bikes parked out the front and any that happened by. I must say every time I've been here for lunch the meals have been fantastic, I can't recommend this place more.

We spent about an hour in Taralga for lunch before deciding it was time that we got going. So I got back on my bike now and I decided I would lead the ride back up to Oberon as I'd followed the other guys on the way down.
The road through Abercrombie gorge is still dirt at the moment as they are doing road works to widen and smooth the road out. Should be good when they finish it which the signs said around April.

Abercrombie River

Saint Pat
On the way back to Oberon I decided I'd like to take the short trip up into the hills via one of the logging roads. This was only a short 8km long section before it turned to dirt and we would have to turn around and come back but is some of the most beautiful winding roads around in the area with elevation changes, sharp bends and spectacular forest scenery.

Along the way I checked my mirrors and about 2/3 the way along I didn't see anyone following. Funny that Bushpig and Saint Pat were there following me only about 2 minutes before. I didn't think too much about this as they must have pulled over to take a picture or something like that. Well after all I was doing the same thing. I got to the end and turned around and took a couple more pics. I waited for a couple of minutes and no one came along so I thought I'd better head back and see what where Bushpig and Saint Pat had gotten to.

Yes I know I've posted up photos of this road before but I love this piece of black top so much I just had to stop and take more pictures of it. Its motorcycling heaven, if only there was 30-40kms of this instead of 8.

I crested a rise and suddenly I saw Bushpig heading towards me, he started madly signalling me to slow down, well that's what I thought he meant so I did. It's a bit hard to tell what he was signalling really. I pulled over and stopped and waited for him. About 5 minutes went by and he came back into view. Very strange to say the least. He stopped and and I strolled over and I asked where everyone got to, he said follow me.

Over the very next rise there I saw 3 people standing in the middle of nowhere and a flash of red in the forest. WTF. It was a red Ducati. FUCK!. All you bike riders will know the sudden sinking feeling that I suddenly experienced.  Saint Pat had run off on one of the bends and into the forest, I immediately thought the worst. How could you survive that running into a pine forest. Luckily for him and everyone he was ok, more or less. A tree had broken his fall so to speak as well as one of his fingers.

The 3 people standing around were from a passing vehicle. The bike wasn't ride able the rear swing arm was smashed to bits and Saint Pat wasn't in a state to ride anyway. The bike could wait so we got Pat quickly into Oberon hospital via the passing vehicle. We loaded him into the front seat so he could go and get checked out and we could worry about what to do with the bike later, so we left a note on the bike to say rider was ok and taken to Oberon Hospital so anyone that found it didn't worry about what happened to the rider.

The ride home was a bit of a come down from the morning and was really just a boring commute across the blue mountains via the great western highway until we got home. About an hour out from home the R1's seat was rearing its ugly head and I was sitting from side to side to save my butt checks from the pounding it had taken during the day but in comparison this was very minor in the grand scheme of what had happened today.


Post Ride DAY +1:
Bushpig took his car with trailer in tow up to pick up Saint Pat and the bike.With a little help from some passing Adventure riding GS riders they got the bike into his trailer and brought it back. Saint Pat was out of hospital and on his way home. One very lucky bloke, one very unlucky 1098.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tour planning

Finally after a week of pouring over maps, google street view, my trusty HEMA NZ Motorcycle atlas and 2 of NZ's best bloggers I have managed to finish off our route plans for our up coming NZ North Island trip.

I initially had a lot of enthusiasm to plan the trip and looked at the maps for about a week, then realised how many great bike roads there actually are on the north Island then it got a bit overwhelming really. So I did what all great procrastinators do, I sat on it and waited and waited until only 7 weeks out before the trip where I thought I'd better actually get off my ass and do something about it, before we are standing at Auckland airport with puzzled looks on our faces as to which way to head in.

So over my christmas break I pulled out my Hema Atlas and an email that I'd received earlier in the year from Geoff James and decided to get this thing done. Compared to planning the South Island trip which was fairly easy as there are not so many roads to choose from there are literally hundreds of different great bike roads on the north Island it was a lot more difficult.

A few emails back and forward to Geoff and Andrew and a few facebook messages and some head down bum up work I managed to finish off a decent route plan for our trip.The Hema road atlas is 11 years old now and some of the rides in it that are dirt have now been tarred(thanks to the local knowledge of Andy and Geoff). Most of the roads though are still the same with probably little in the way of new roads.

The bikes have been secured and the route has been decided, flights booked and now I just need to sort some accommodation and we are nearly done. 

A big shout out here to 2 of New Zealand's best motobloggers for their assistance in helping me plan the route. Check out their blogs if you haven't already, click on the link below to open in a new window.

Andrew - Bandit Rider

Cheers boys and I'll shout you guys a beer when I see you.

Friday, December 23, 2016

One new Shoe

If you recall my last post from my last group trip then you will know that I had to get a new tyre as a piece of steel or something similar went straight through it and left me on the side of the road.

Well a few weeks later here we are with a R1 hypersports weapon with 2 different brands of tyres on it. What to do about it was my first thought as this is a bit of a pickle to be in. Here is the new rear with less than 350kms on it..

A new michelin pilot road4.  If i had my way I would never had these on this 'this' bike but I had no choice as this was the only option. I would like to be surprised with their performance but I'm not convinced on an R1. I'm glad it has traction control.

My dilema over the past couple of weeks has been wether to take it off and try and sell it or to replace the front bridgestone with the same michelin. What to do?

Will the michelin touring tyres be capable of the abuse this bike dishes out or put something a bit more sporty on.

After careful consideration i think i will try these touring tyres out and hope for the best. I will keep the bridgestone front and next change get a bridgestone rear.  Lets just hope these tyres are really good. I'm counting on it otherwise flyboy might be putting up an obituary post.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Motorcycle Bashing

There's a well renowned road just north of Sydney called the Old Pacific Highway or as most of us Sydney riders know it the Old Road or Old Pac. It's a twisty bit of tarmac which is about 30kms in length which is the closest ride to the suburban population base of Sydney. It would be Sydney equivalent to Los Angeles the "Snake". This means its frequented a lot by Sydney motorcyclists.

It's also quite frequently patrolled by the Gosford Hwy Patrol as there is at least one crash up there every weekend. Taken into context there might be several thousand bikes up there every weekend. The speed limit has been dropped over the years from 100 down to 80 and down to 60 and in one spot down to 50 making it a cannon fodder exercise for the Hwy patrol to rake in the revenue where the road is quite easily capable of at least being a 80 zone if not 100. One of the biggest dangers on this road is the cyclists that ride it 2 or 3 abreast around blind corners often doing less than half the speed of traffic.

We rarely frequent the old road these days maybe once a year because of the heavy police presence and most corners in the 60 zones can be easily ridden at 100+ kmh. You can see previous blog posts about the Old Rd here and here.

A recent you tube upload of a crash on the old road prompted all of Sydney's news channels to flog out the following story which has to be one of the most sorry pieces of journalism I've ever seen. It's motorcycle bashing at its best. I bet the wanker from channel nine rides a harley a couple of times a year.

Monday, December 5, 2016

How fast is an R1 you ask

This is not my video but found this on you tube. And yes this is exactly how fast my R1 is, it can be scarily fast at times.

Thanks to Photiswizard youtube channel.

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Not the Snowy Ride Day 5

I think we finished at the bar at about midnight and then somewhere after that we had several takeaways on the outside balcony until the wee hours. That would explain why most of us slept in until near 9am. I was a bit dusty this morning but by the look of it I was in better shape than some of the other guys. I saw that there were five other already having breakfast at the bakery across the road so i joined them for a nice greasy bacon and egg roll as slowly the remaining guys joined in.

Getting back to the hotel it was around 10am, I saw the remnants of our previous nights session on the balcony table. Not a bad effort no wonder our heads were pounding like the hammer of Thor.

So we waited out the front of the pub, and waited and waited. Ant wasn't in any condition to ride so we waited some more. A group of about 20 bikes arrived from Canberra at the bakery and had breakfast, the average age of the riders looked like it was about 65 in the shade. I had to laugh when one of the harley types dropped their bike on the ground from not putting down the side stand properly, but like a champ he was off and picked up the tractor with the reverse lift technique like he had done it a thousand times before. They then left and headed for home whilst we still waited and waited........ It was about 11:30am before we actually got away from the Boorowa hotel, this has to be the latest start to a ride we've ever had.

The ride took us up to the middle of the Wyangala dam road just east of darby falls. This was my old stomping ground in years gone past. In my younger days I would ride my CBR600 and ZX-9R up this road for a weekend ride as it was the only twisting road within 90 minutes ride from home otherwise everywhere else was straight. Not very conducive to riding a sportsbike. A quick but fun blast up to to the dam, it was a lot shorter than I remember. The road has changed here and you no longer go over the dam wall, the road goes down over a new bridge and bypasses the wall but I saw a turn off and went up the old road to the spillway viewing area and to the dam wall was gated and closed there. Such a shame as the views from the dam wall are fantastic.

Wyangala Dam Spill way
I didn't get any photos from the dam wall so I blatantly stole one from google street view. Below is the old dam wall down below with the new earth wall at top. The original wall was built back in the 1930's and was then upgraded with the larger Rock wall in the 1970's. The dam  is 1.37km's long and holds about 2 times the water of Sydney Harbour or 1,217,000 mega litres. The old dam wall can be seen once capacity is down to 30%. Capacity was at about 98% when we were there as they just had some flooding only weeks before due to all the rain. That's why every thing's so green at the moment.

Dam Wall pinched from google

We continued up towards a little town called Woodstock, the road winds its way up through the hills for about 10kms before coming out into sweeping plains. There was no traffic at all here and I was having a lot of fun.
Bikes on Mt McDonald

We waited in Woodstock for everyone to catch up. Woodstock is a small place really nothing much at all there. Continuing on we turned off towards Bathurst. Just coming out of Woodstock into the 100 zone I heard a loud bang on the front tyre quickly followed by the rear tyre. What the fuck was that? I didn't see anything on the road. Within 5 seconds the rear end is getting all loose. FUCK IT.

I stopped and got off the bike as the others started to wizz past, pressing the tyre it was completely flat. Wayne and Ant pulled over when I started waving frantically as the others disappeared over the hill.

There was a huge dent in my number plate that also bent it on an angle. I didn't see what I hit but it must have been a piece of steel or something. I didn't have a puncture repair kit and have never carried one, That's about to change in a hurry. This is only the second time I've had a flat on the bike, last time was way back in 1998. Lucky for me Ant had one and got to work on it, the hole was big and he put in 2 plugs before putting in the air, I could hear air pissing out again, not good. Cowra was 30kms away and in the wrong direction and Bathurst was about 70km. But would I make it that far. A quick call to Cowra Motorcycles and they had a tyre in stock so I made a bee line for there to get it changed before it went flat again. 5th rear tyre in 14,00kms this bike is sending me broke. Quick everyone send donations fast I accept cash......but will also take credit, beer and bags of chips as acceptable forms of payment.

Wayne followed me into Cowra, thanks mate your a true champ whilst Ant and Geoff caught up to the other guys for lunch in Tarana. Thanks Ant for the repairs you bloody legend, I'll be getting you some new air canisters shortly. So this was the end of the tour with the guys as we wouldn't see them again after this.

We got into Cowra Motorcycles and they got straight onto the tyre change for me which was fantastic of them. They didn't have the exact size tyre but close enough. Beggers can't be choosers out in the country. I was lucky they had a tyre at all. I got a Michelin Pilot Road 4 on the rear at a 50 profile instead of the 55, this tyre should last as much as the last 4 at least. Now I need to change out the front and keep it for the next time I need to change. DAMN!!!!! My brother was right this motorcycling gig IS going to send me broke.

Even R1's stop for flat tyres

Anyway I got out of Cowra $360 lighter in the hip pocket and Wayne and I did the boring commute on the highway until he turned off at Springwood and I continued on into Sydney and home. Big thanks to Wayne for sticking with me when he didn't have to and also to Ant for getting me going again. Bloody great chaps!

That pretty much ended the 5 days of frivolity in the mountains for this years Snowy ride. Yet another great time was had by all except for the flatty at the end of course, I could have done without that. Thanks to all the guys for an excellent week away and look forward to next year.

The Ventura rack worked out great, I couldn't think of anything worse than living out of a backpack for 5 days and the rack and bag did the trick. There was a bit of water on the inside on day 2 when we hit the heavy rain, but I had my gear in plastic bags so no harm. It wasn't a lot of water but enough that would make clothes damp if I didn't have them sealed up. It was good to be able to carry some water on the bike so when we stopped I had something to drink, its good to stay hydrated whilst riding. The right hand indicator had rubbed on the rack but nothing too serious. Another washer or 2 should sort that out. It was good to not have to wear a backpack so thumbs up to the rack and bag.

Map Reference Day 5 - The alternate Route