Rear mudguard ADR to be scrapped

The Aust government has announced that the ADR requiring a rear mudguard (fender for our American friends) extension will be scrapped. I feel sorry for people who have been booked for removing it in the past!

Removing this outdated rule will mean that Australian bikes’ rear mudguards will be the same as in other countries.

Gov.t announcement in full HERE

It’s an ugly damned thing!

 

Procrastinators first Spring ride for 2014

Some of the Procrastinators gathered in Spring sunshine to take a run down to Timboon for lunch and a catch up. Not bad going for us, seeing how it’s only the fifth day of Spring! We rendezvoused at Steve’s place near Colac, with me coming from Geelong and Andy from Ballarat. Below is a map of our route.

Shiny motorcycles, getting ready to hit the road.

We usually dine at the Timboon Distillery, however, today we opted for some good old fashioned pub grub and ate at the Timboon Hotel. Three steak sandwiches and plenty of banter later we headed off to Port Campbell for some fuel. After a short run along the Great Ocean Road past the 12 Apostles we turned inland again to Simpson, and then to Carlisle River where we pulled over to chew the fat a bit more. (We are becoming so complacent about the magnificent coastline and Apostles that we didn’t even stop for a photo). There was virtually no traffic at all. The countryside looked magnificent and green, but unfortunately most of the roads were a bloody disgrace. The asphalt was consistently potholed and featured plenty of depressions or ‘slumps’, typically on the entry to, or exits of, nice sweeping corners. In a couple of the worst sections the speed limit was lowered to 80 kph (as it has been for 12 months or so) and there was no sign of any road repair work being commenced. We rode to the poor conditions and still enjoyed the ride immensely, but really, these roads are dangerous and not what you’d expect in a first world country! I wish I’d stopped and taken some pics of just how bad some spots were.

Below: A pit stop at Carlisle River – which consists of an infant welfare center, a public hall and a couple of farm houses – not much else.

Andy’s Commando gleaming in the sunshine

We arrived back at Steve’s and cranked up the shed stereo, dragged some chairs outside and then basked in the sunshine as we chatted some more. All too soon I had to head back to Geelong. It was a great day out ‘fellas – I thoroughly enjoyed the riding and your company. All the better of course for being a weekday and choosing the roads less traveled, with the consequent lack of cars. All up I did around 350kms – yet another grand day out, and in the true Procrastinator’s spirit – no decisions were made about anything!

 

Burger, beans and bridges

I took advantage of an improved weather forecast for Thursday 21 August and took run inland to central Victoria to visit the Moto Bean café as recommended by Raymond Herd, on his excellent Sandgropher motorcycle travel blog.

Again it was a fairly cold, around 7C for most of the morning, however, it is still winter I guess. My route was from Geelong to Ballan, then Daylesford and on to Malmsbury – specifically the Moto Bean café.

You may have guessed that the Moto Bean café is a moto themed café. It is a new purpose built building and rather than following the ‘1960’s diner’ theme, the owners have opted for a slightly industrial /warehouse style – and have pulled it off really well. The place is spacious, warm and inviting – especially for motoring enthusiasts of any discipline – but also generic enough not to scare off non moto enthusiast patrons. However, it’s certainly great to go to a café that has magazines lying about that are of interest – namely a good selection of motorcycle magazines.

As is my habit duty, I sampled a tasty burger which the chef was happy to cook for me even though it wasn’t quite time for the lunch menu to commence. I also had a very friendly, welcoming chat with George (who is one of the owners), who took the time to explain the background of some of the display bikes, the construction of the café and some local scenic rides.   Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Mt Alexander, but will be back to check out the area soon.

Did I mention that they also roast their own beans?

Have a close look at the motor grafted into this K0 series Honda Four.

Malmsbury is also home to a large brick and masonry arched bridge built between 1858 and 1860, known as the Malmsbury Viaduct. Its just a walk through the park from the café.

As I was leaving the cafe, a friendly patron suggested that I should also check out the historic Taradale Viaduct which is just a few kilometres down the old Calder Hwy. I was lucky enough to snap a train traveling over it – just as in the pic on the history info plaque. Now compare and contrast the bridge itself in the following two pics.

I’m guessing that you noticed that in the 1862 pic the bridge is constructed of only masonry columns and no iron work. The iron columns were added much later in the 1930’s to cope with heavier trains.

After taking some shots of the bridge I headed over to the pretty Sutton Grange road and from there over to Castlemaine for some fuel, then home to Geelong via Maldon (out of my way a little I know), Newstead, Creswick and Lal Lal –skirting around Ballarat.

For all the pictures, click HERE (then press ‘Slideshow’)

All up, a grand day out riding. A new venue, enjoying some tasty food and hospitality, some new roads to explore, with a little history thrown in to add interest.

 

 

 

RIP Vernon Train

Vernon Train, along with Mike Lockyer, rode motorcycles around Oz in 1953 to prove the reliability of Renolds chain.  I recently contacted Danny Curran (who re-enacted the ride in 2012 with his mate Craig) , with a view to obtaining a copy of the book “Operation Transmatilda” which is comprised of  Mike Lockyer’s diary notes of the ride and 150 excellent photos of the trip.

Danny informed me that Vernon had passed away in early August and his funeral was in Benalla on 7th August. Sad news indeed.

I made a brief post regarding Vern and Mike back in 2012. Below is my original post….

Here’s a great story about two ‘fellas who rode around Oz 60 years ago to prove the reliability of the Renolds chain – the employer of one of the riders. The story claims that only 10% of country roads were sealed at the time. There’s some great old footage of the bikes and an engaging interview with the two old guys. It’s on the ABC web site, CLICK HERE  

Two fellas have done a re-run of the trip earlier this year (2012). They left from the All Brit Rally in Newstead. Here’s a link to their blog CLICK HERE

My thanks to Danny who sent me a copy of the book, signed by Vernon and Mike, (& him and Craig). Many thanks Danny, I will treasure it.

Danny also informed me that Mike will be at the Sunassist Motor Show on the 21st Sept in Mildura showing off the bikes.

RIP Vernon Train.

A wet day on the Great Ocean Road

…well actually not all of it was. From Geelong to Lorne was sunny and 12 C. From Lorne to Apollo Bay there were occasional drizzly showers, but the road remained dry, also 11C-12C. From Apollo Bay to Lavers Hill was wet – I guess that’s why it’s called rain forest! The road was very wet, however, was not too greasy because it was properly wet rather than damp. It was 7C most of the way along there and I was really appreciating the new heated grips. Lavers Hill was foggy and wet, but was my lunch destination. An excellent hamburger and a hot drink from The Shoppe really hit the spot. The rain had stopped on the section from Lavers Hill to Gellibrand, though the road remained pretty wet. Remarkably the roads from Gellibrand through Colac and back to Geelong were completely dry.

It was a great ride to get a feel for the new Michelin Pilot Road 4 tyres.  They are meant to be the ‘ducks guts’ (that’s a highly technical term) in the wet and I found the bike felt sure footed all day. Additionally, I’m sure that the bike turns in more quickly in the tight twisty stuff compared with the old PR3’s. These are exactly the type of conditions where it really pays dividends having great gear that is fit for purpose. I was comfortable and warm all day despite the low temps and rain, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

New tyre and a cold winter’s day

I pulled the back wheel out of the ZX14 yesterday and had a new Michelin Pilot Road 4GT fitted. The GT is an interesting evolution of the Michelin Pilot Road (sport- touring) series in that it is specifically designed for heavy motorcycles and has a combination of bias ply and radial ply in its construction. There’s some more info on the Michelin site HERE
but a better overall explanation on MC News HERE. It has a hard compound center, and the edges are medium compound. Mind you, feeling the center section (OK, I’m resorting to American spelling in this post just to appease my spell checker!) of tread it actually feels VERY soft  to touch – so ‘hard’ is a relative term in this case. .

Below is a pic that I took last night before the tire had been used. Note that the sipes and tread grooves don’t go right out to the edge of the tire as they do with the PR 3.

This was my first ride for a few weeks after a burst of wet winter weather and being away on holidays, so I was keen to ride. I took a familiar route inland from Geelong to Forrest to visit the Red Dog (pictured previously in this post), have a hot chocolate and a friendly chat with the owner, Emma. Did I mention that it was pretty damn cold this morning?

From here I took to the twisties to Apollo Bay, confident that the new tire was scrubbed in. From Apollo Bay I ran the inland section of the Great Ocean Road to Lavers Hill, then Gellibrand then down to Colac. This route offers the best combination of fast open sweepers and tight hairpin curves, though care is needed this time of year. There are some slippery, mossy spots and some damp corners under the tree cover.

The scenery along this route is pretty special as well! One of my favorites, where the GOR crosses the Aire River.

After a stop at the Gellibrand store for another hot drink, I continued on to Colac and dropped in at Steve’s place on the off chance that he was home. Fortunately he was and we had a great catch up and a look at the progress of his most recent Norton model 18 restoration. Steve’s just had a crack at his first paint job – pretty impressive I think. Well done mate! I wish I had your skills.

I took the highway home and arrived back in Geelong just before dusk, just as it began to get really cold again.

The ZX14 felt great now that it has a pair of PR4’s on it. However, realistically it’s too early pass judgement on the PR4 GT. I’ve been caught before with a new concept tire that felt great at first but after a few thousand kilometers was terrible on my specific bike. Even the highly rated PR3 that came off the rear had some scalloping on it that I think is quite unacceptable on such expensive tyres. The scalloping issue is reasonably common when one speaks with ‘real world’ riders, but hardly gets a mention in MC magazine tyre review articles.

 

Gloomy but great!

Well its only two days away from the winter solstice Down Under and its great to be able to get out for a mid week ride. I basically wanted to do a test run in my textile gear with the merino wool layers underneath to make sure that I will be warm enough for next Sunday’s Ulysses club ride when a max of 10C is forecast at our destination (meaning that most of the ride will be in much lower temps). Despite being gloomy and overcast, all the roads were basically dry which was an unexpected surprise – especially so for the section through the Otways. Here’s a map of the ride – pretty much my ‘backyard’ but some of the twistiest roads in Victoria anyway.

The temp was around 7C when I left home and became colder as I headed away from the coast towards the Otways. I even stopped a bit later to take a pic of the ambient temp reading. Other than showing 4C ‘Outside’, you will see that the traction control (KTRC) is set on 2 for these conditions, but I still have full power selected (F).

I mentioned that the road was mostly dry, because if you look really carefully in the bottom right of the pic below you can see the contrast with some pavement that was completely dry and that the riding line wasn’t actually 100% dry and just a little dampish.

One aspect of riding in cold conditions that I have become more wise about is stopping reasonably often for a hot drink. My first stop was in Forrest and I pulled up at  The Corner Store, which I’d been meaning to try for ages.

It’s mainly a mountain bike enthusiasts shop that has a small cafe as well. I was the only customer and had a lovely chat with Bec about the local MTB single trails as she made me a mug of excellent hot chocolate (I’m not a coffee drinker and usually Coke zero (AKA “black asprin” pulses through my system ). Mountain biking has become a big thing in the Otways and Forrest hosts a couple of major events each year.

Here’s some of the stock they have

OK, one more picture, as I said I’d give them a good plug!

Actually, one more pic – lessons for the girls! If Cathy’s as passionate as Bec is about MTB riding it must be a great experience! Hey guys, what about something for overweight old dudes who’d love to learn how to ride the trails as well?

While we are on this deviation from motorcycling, I should mention Flyboy’s excellent blog of his MTB riding. Click HERE

OK, back to motorcycling.  From Forrest I headed to Apollo Bay for a bite to eat and another hot chocolate (and I resisted the marshmallows again!). To my delight, the road was virtually deserted, I was quite warm and had an excellent brisk run to Skenes Creek turnoff. Things only got better when I rode the GOR from Apollo Bay to Lorne without seeing another vehicle going in my direction. Unprecedented in my recollection! That along with the dry tarmac made for for one of the better GOR rides in recent years – so much so that I didn’t stop to take any pics. As I cruised through Lorne a cop on an unmarked BMW police motorcycle had a good look at me, and there was also another cop in the 50km zone on the edge of town with a radar gun. If only they’d hassle a few of the drivers who cross to the wrong side of the road around the curves and those slow coaches who fail to yield (pull over) into the overtaking lanes.

I got home in no time having had a great winter ride. Only 210 kms in duration but lots of fun riding and checking out a new coffee stop. Just as a post script I should add that with 3,000 kilometers on the new Michelin Pilot Road 4 front tire I’m still really happy with it – the bike felt really sure footed in today’s cool conditions.

 

 

 

Motorcycling Australia roadside assist

Just a ‘heads up’ to anyone who has had the Roadside Assistance service offered via Motorcycling Australia – Australian Riders’ Division (ARD) . MA (and ARD) are no longer providing a Roadside Assist scheme and now recommend Motorcycling Alliance which is operated by Motorcycling NSW Ltd.

I only found this out when I rang MA to find out why I hadn’t received a reminder for renewal of my roadside assistance subscription.

Unfortunately the ARD website www.ard.org.au no longer exists and a quick scan of the MA website didn’t provide any info about this either. It would have been far more sensible for that site to remain live, explain the change and then direct people to Motorcycling Alliance! I’ve spoken with a MA staff member and suggested that they need to be more pro-active re publicizing the change.

Hi-Viz to be compulsory for learner riders in Victoria

A chance comment in a conversation with one of the salesmen at my local motorcycle store today led me to follow up on the proposed new Graduated Licensing System laws that will commence in October this year.

Current learner rider restrictions are LAMS approved bike, must display L plates, no mobile phone use, zero blood alcohol, can’t carry a passenger or tow a trailer. Some of the key features that are additional to current requirements will be that learners:

  • wear hi-viz vest or jacket
  • must have the headlight on at all times
  • can’t ride a manual gearshift bike if tested on an auto.

Once licensed, the restricted period will be increased from the current one year to three years. From 2015 tougher licensing requirement will also be introduced.

Full details HERE

Other than the fact that the Hi-Viz and daytime headlights are not evidence based initiatives (much contradictory research exists), it nearly took my breath away when I read that the State Gov’t are spending $2.92 million to implement this scheme FROM THE SO CALLED “Motorcycle Safety Levy“.

An interesting footnote is that when in opposition our current Premier agreed the Levy was unfair and promised to revoke it when in government. Yet another example of a politician breaking a promise – who would have thought!