Two Zeds to the 12 Apostles

We finally got the two ZX14’s together for a post Christmas ride. Pete and Robyn were on a trip from Melbourne to country South West Victoria and team Tarsnakes arranged to ride part of the trip with them. They rode from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and met us at our place in Geelong. An ideal run would be to ride the whole Great Ocean Road, however, the reality of such a ride with all the Christmas holiday traffic heading to the beach resorts really makes such a run just too frustrating, so we rode the back roads inland to the tiny township of Gellibrand and joined the GOR at Laver’s Hill.

Here’s our route

It was a little cooler than forecast for a summer’s day, but quite OK never the less.

The two big Kwakas together for the first time at our Gellibrand coffee stop.

The old saying that it’s a small world is often very true – it turned out that Paul from the store (an avid dirt bike rider) and Pete actually went to school together many years ago.

Pete and Robyn aboard the red one.

Plus team Tarsnakes on the black one

From Gellibrand it seemed to take no time up through the twisties to our lunch stop at Lavers Hill.

Good food and magnificent views over the Otway Ranges.

The traffic along this part of the GOR towards the 12 Apostles was as expected – namely bloody awful, especially along the best bits!

We had a look at these.

I’ve edited all the people out of the following shots, but trust me, the place was jam packed with tourists like never before.

The Tarsnakes – 31 years married and still having lots of fun messing around on motorcycles.


Mrs T, Robyn & Peter


The sandstone cliffs are crumbling – all that rubble at the bottom is new rock fall.

The choppers were on constant rotation and still the queues for flights were long.

From here we split up and went in opposite directions, Peter & Robyn headed further west and we headed back the way we came. We were then running against the flow of tourist traffic and had a brilliant run on the curves through the Otways and then just had 80 kms (approx 50 miles) of freeway back to Geelong.

All up it was a great day’s riding and it was fun to have the two big Kawasaki’s together, observe each others bike in motion and really appreciate their incredible capability as two-up Sport- touring motorcycles.

To see this report on the PASHNIT motorcycle forum, click HERE

Post script 2nd January 2012

Peter & Robyn dropped in on their way home having ridden parts of the GOR today. But this was no day to be riding a motorcycle, it was 40C (104F) when they left for Melbourne!


Saturday morning at Forrest

Being so close to Christmas we all seem pretty busy and a motorcycle ride certainly didn’t rate very highly on Mrs Tarsnakes agenda for me. It was the same situation at Marty’s household, however, he had a new helmet to road test and a new front tire to scrub in. So in the spirit of compromise it was decided over dinner last night that the boys could go out for the morning, but would be back by lunchtime for their family responsibilities. It occurred to me that between the two couples we have a total of 65 years of married life – so I guess that we’ve become good negotiators over the years! Actually, we are both lucky ‘fellas to have great partners who are so supportive of our motorcycling addiction!

Here’s a couple of pics from our short time off the leash this morning.

The reason for our ride – Marty’s new Shoei. It’s a TZ-X in Aust, but called a Qwest elsewhere in the world.

It was pretty quiet at Forrest, just us and the 1960 Morris Minor ute (pickup for those of you in the USA).Just as we were about to leave a couple pulled in on a 1975 Mark 3 Norton Commando 850. They were heading inland from the coast. I have to mention that there was not a single drop of oil leaked from this old Brit classic whilst parked!

All up we had a great morning run in very pleasant 23 C temperature. Maybe this is the beginning of the Summer that hasn’t happened yet.

PS – For all Kawasaki fans, a great 1970’s promotional video HERE

You look tired …

…. is what Maria from the Gellibrand store said to me at my first stop today. She was right ….. I just wasn’t really sharp enough today for a long ride. So I re-routed, took 100 kms off the intended journey distance, took my time, and dropped in to see Steve (think black Commando) for a couple of hours. All of which led to an enjoyable day out!

A couple of shots from Beech Forest in the Otway ranges (Vic).

So just 240 kms all up, but that’s all that was within my capability today.

At last it’s finished (Andy’s Commando refurbishment)

I received the email blow from my mate Andy whose been doing some work on his lovely Norton Commando.

Finished it on Sat, rode it yesterday, after sorting out a couple of minor glitches, I can report that this incarnation rides like a modern bike. The throttle is light as a feather, as is the clutch. Vibration is non-existent, the gear ratios are excellent, and…………it IDLES!!!

I’m so impressed, I thought I’d take a couple of snaps before the pipes discolour.

All I need to do now is get some miles on it.

Post rebuild pics of the Commando

I suggested to Andy that he send me a summary of whats been done so that I could post it here for all to see. Below is his account.

Jules,     The whole exercise started as an attempt to cure persistent oil leaks, I coated the inside of the crankcases with an oil resistant paint that cost $70.00 for 400ml, and took two months to obtain.

Whilst waiting, I had the piston skirts Teflon coated and the crowns ceramic coated, bringing the piston clearance back to 3.5 thou,  fitted gapless rings, new 2S camshaft and a Mikuni single carb conversion.

Drive train has been shouted a belt drive primary, radial bearing for the clutch release, a close ratio gear set, new sprockets and chain, new Stainless vernier adjustable isolastics.

Suspension got new progressive fork springs, new Hagon rear suspension units.

A pair of nice Magura levers made the bars look pretty, and anything that wasn’t already stainless got converted (brake cable clevis’s, cable adjusters, lever pivots etc)

I also got my claws on a new petrol tank made with ethanol resistant resin, as mine has a patch of de-lamination happening, (although very slowly). Haven’t fitted the tank yet as I want to line it first.

Some weeks ago in Andy’s shed

Some older pics and movies of this Commando – Hot New Years Day 2008 and more recently on Pashnit New Years Day 2011 or even some video here.

Well done mate! Now it’s a better bike to ride and still looks like a great example of a late 1960’s Norton.

Inland run to Ararat

Awoke to a magnificent Spring day, just right for riding. All the pics below feature lots of blue sky. This was long overdue after a very wet week, Melbourne having had some fierce storms on Thursday..

Our route

larger version HERE

Lunch stop. I should have photographed our visors. The air was thick with insects, so much so that a stop was needed each hour just to clean our visors enough to be able to see.Snake Valley 1914-1918 war memorial. Every other small town memorial I’ve seen has a statue of a soldier – this one is different.

Nice old place opposite the memorial.

Wind farm turbines between Beaufort and Ararat

Marty waiting patiently while I took some shots

Challicum HillsI think I’ve mentioned before that I love riding this motorcycle!

It was uncharacteristic for us to head inland on a day like this, but I’m glad that we did. I wore my textile gear just to see how breathable it was on a warm day as I plan to take textile rather than leather gear to NZ in February. The initial impression was that it breathes OK, I certainly didn’t feel like I was in a plastic bag as I’ve done in the past with non Gor-Tex lined stuff.

The whole trip was 417 kms. A great day out.


Spring in the Otways – lots of bugs & bad asphalt

After a week of miserable weather we finally got a sensational Spring day – around 30C (86F) and blue skies. We took our typical Otways run and it was a treat to be riding in such warm conditions.

Larger route map HERE

The riding was so good that I hardly took any pics. The countryside is just lush, green and alive with bugs and birds. It’s actually hard to imagine that prior to last year we had a decade of drought. However, I really have to comment on the appalling state of the many of the roads and more particularly the road repairs – unbelievably amateurish looking patches with fine screenings about the edges! This is a major tourist route to the 12 Apostles and the Otways National Park in southern Australia and the road conditions are an embarrassment.

I took just two pics today. One was of the ZX14 before I left to meet up with Marty (look at those roses).

The other was of a great looking Harley at the gas station in Apollo Bay, ridden by a nice young woman from Echuca (Vic) on her first run on the Great Ocean Road. She said her buddy also had a white HD as well.

Ride safe ladies and enjoy your weekend.

We stopped for a break at the microbrewery at Forrest and bumped into an old work colleague whom we hadn’t seen for many years, which just added to a grand day’s riding. Yes Di, we did see you sampling those beers!

Southern Classic 2011

The weather forecast was dire and the West Coast Procrastinators bailed from their plans to ride to Broadford to the historic races and opted for the comfort of the car. We last went to this event 2 years ago and it is such a contrast to the recent Aust MotoGP in terms of access to all areas and low key, low cost, non corporate motor sport.

Words to follow as I’m flat out with work, but here are some pics so you get a feel for the event.

Graeme Osborne, formerly of Geelong Vic.Doug Fraser’s BSA V twin that could have been. (Empire twin)

MotoGP 2011 Saturday qualifying

A few shots from Saturday practice at the Australian MotoGP.

Marco Simoncelli off at turn 10.

Checking the circuit mapAvenue of PI winnersMrs Tarsnakes & Mick

 I suffered a bit of ‘lens envy’!

TV cameraman on the job

Then lunch time comes!

As AC DC said “It’s a long way to the top …..”Back to the qualifying

Rossi did a lot of laps but you could kinda tell his heart wasn’t in it

It didn’t occur to me on Saturday that this guy could end up world champion by Sunday evening.The weekend ended up with a fair bit of rider injury. Ben Spies “off” at 270 kph on Saturday left him concussed & with a broken rib(s), Cudlin (Aussie wildcard) had extreme bruising and skin loss so neither he nor Spies raced on Sunday. Young female 125cc racer Avalon Biddle from New Zealand also wound up concussed after a practice crash which ended her weekend as well. The big news was Jorge Lorenzo’s fall during Sunday morning’s warmup that left him with a traumatic amputation of the left ring finger – this meant Stoner only had to get 6th of better to claim the world title for 2011.There are some pretty horrific pics of Jorge’s hand as he pulled his glove off doing the rounds on the net. It also meant that neither factory Yamaha raced in the OZ MotoGP.

Stoner’s race and championship from The Age newspaper.

Marty & I had a look through the Expo and I have to say as Kawasaki owners we were both bitterly disappointed that they were the only Japanese manufacturer absent. I’d say it was a significant stuff up by Kawasaki Australia, given that this was the same week that Kawasaki announced the new 2012 ZX14 (ZZR1400) with so much online hype. Ah well, just had to settle with feasting on the V4 Aprilia!

The other significant absence was that of the late Ken Wootton. I was pleased to see that a tribute for him was held on Sunday prior to the MotoGP race.

The event was extremely well run, atmosphere was very friendly and Saturday’s crowd seemed much larger than last time I went. Riders complained about bumps in the track and Linfox have announced that the track will be resurfaced during December and January. Full story HERE

It’s Moto GP weekend at last!

This weekend’s Phillip Island GP will be the last opportunity for Aussies to see the 800cc bikes as next year the litre bikes return. Which got me thinking about when the last race of the 990cc era was held and who actually won it?

Our friends at Google provided all the answers of course.  The last race of the 990 era was 2006 and it was won by a wildcard rider – none other than Troy Bayliss at Valencia in front of 129,000 fans. It’s a bit embarrassing that I didn’t recall that as I have a signed Bayliss memorabilia print on my office wall!

My train of thought then led to some consideration of what I actually go to the MotoGP for. Having been several times over the years, I think that it’s important to not kid yourself and to  understand that in going to the GP you are attending a really big Spanish corporation’s (Dorna) money making event – don’t kid yourself that it’s anything like going to a club meeting or even a Superbike race. You are buying a highly packaged entertainment product and it’s going to cost you a bundle! Given Phillip Island’s notoriously fickle weather (yes I have been there when hypothermia was genuinely on the cards), what is it that draws me back to the event?

So when I think about it, I approach the GP with three main aims and anything else is a bonus – like the handful of decent pics I might manage to take.

My aims you ask?

Firstly, to watch the races – particularly the main event, however, without a doubt it’s the 600’s that have provided the excitement this year. Well actually, it’s a bit more than just watching the races – it’s about soaking up the atmosphere, the smell of racing fuel, the sounds of high performance engines and the sights at this incredibly scenic track by the sea. All the better for having your partner, offspring and / or mates there to share the experience with.  It’s kind of hard to describe – you have to have been there to appreciate it – get my point?

Secondly, to check out all the gear, equipment displays and new models at the trackside expo. This activity leads to literally ‘rubbing shoulders’ with like- minded motorcyclists and some great chance conversations with fellow enthusiasts and vendors. Maybe I will buy an event poster to be framed and adorn my office wall at some stage, or maybe just a pin or a stubbie holder as a memento. Again, you can’t do all this this from home, no matter how big your plasma screen or home theater system is – you have to actually be there.














Thirdly, something that I really enjoy, is wandering about and checking out the motorcycle parking areas for exotica and bike mods that take my fancy. This can be really entertaining and rewarding. For example I had forgotten just how good a round case GT 750 Ducati looks and sounds, but seeing one pull into the parking area really brought back some priceless memories of my time aboard my mate Andy’s GT750 back in the 1970’s. And yes, he had a bugger of a time starting it after he stalled it, those damn Del Orto pumper carbs! You know that you can’t get that experience sitting on the sofa at home can you. The friendly ‘fellas helping manage the parking even give each rider a little square of flat plywood to stop the bike’s side stand from sinking into the grass – a nice touch.

The last time I attended was in 2008. I can’t remember why we missed 2009 and Mrs Tarsnakes and I were in the USA this time last year so missed the 2010 race. 2008 was the first time that I’d been trackside for the Saturday qualifying session and I absolutely loved the skill and cat and mouse tactics of it all. So this year we are just heading down for the day on Saturday for all the trackside experiences and then will actually watch the race at home on Sunday. Why because LEAVING Phillip Island after the races on Sunday is a real bastard – there is no other term for it. The traffic is a nightmare getting off the Island and some of the riders are just absolute kamikazes. Having said that, seeing crowds of friendly people lining the roadsides along the exits and all the way back along the South Gippsland Hwy – watching all the motorcycles and waving is a great feeling.

This is the GP run to the Island from Cranbourne on the Saturday morning of the GP weekend, not actually leaving – but it’s much the same chaos.

OK, I’d better get the camera, the thermals and the wet weather gear ready. It’s going to be cool with a possibility of showers at PI on Saturday (‘fickle’ is the PC way of describing the Island weather).

I just hope that Casey doesn’t bin it. Oh, and don’t forget some extra earplugs, gee those bikes are loud when you’re trackside!

What a difference 3 years makes, reverse manufacturers this year. It will be Casey on a Honda and Nicky on a Duke.



2012 Kawasaki ZX14R

Some info regarding the 2012 ZX14 has been released. It looks much the same other than the new mufflers, however, it features a bigger engine (as if 1352 cc wasn’t enough), revised frame, a slipper clutch, traction control – 3 engine modes and a whole lot more.

Images courtesy of the official Kawasaki image gallery.

Kawasaki Australia info HERE

Australian specifications HERE

Kawasaki in the marketplace HERE

Cycle News initial overview here.

I’m thinking that there should be some great deals going on current models in the dealers in the New Year.