The future of helmets?

I came across an article in The Age newspaper about a new concept motorcycle helmet. It features new generation active energy absorbing materials, integrated communications and a simple heads up display, all of which sound very functional. The Forcite helmet is proposed by an Australian design student, initially for police use.

It’s no secret that at present the helmet safety standard certifications in Australia are a mess and that helmets that are legal in some states are not in others. Also anyone who imports a helmet from overseas can be booked for not wearing a helmet as the imported lid will not have an Australian certification.Lobby groups are working on this and are beginning to get some traction, as illustrated by the news clip below.

A ride around Australia 60 years ago

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

Now for something less impressive, a few shots from a 346km run that Marty and I went on in some VERY cool winter temps here. We did the same ride this same weekend a year ago in virtually identical conditions.

 

We are becoming ‘regulars’ at this joint.

This photo on the wall caught my eye.

Update on the Shoei NeoTec: Other than being a tight fit my main criticism of the new NeoTec was that it fogged badly in cold conditions. I’m pleased to report that with the Pinlock insert in place it didn’t fog at all – in even colder conditions than the first ride. There was much less pressure from the cheek pads and the helmet proved to be very comfortable this second time out. I’m loving the inbuilt sun-visor that is really easy to put up or down on the fly.

I found a Shoei promotional video for the Neotec – nice scenery!

 

 

First winter ride for 2013 & the Shoei NeoTec

Yesterday Marty and I headed off at 9.30am for our first ride for the winter of 2013. It was sunny but cold 7-8C when we left and unfortunately hovered around 7C (44F) for most of the ride. I debated whether to don the textile gear, but the sunshine and a forecast of 16C fooled me and I went in leathers. Even with merino wool under layers and pullover I was just a tad cool all day.

However, the big news for me was that this was my first outing in my new Shoei NeoTec modular helmet. See the (not so great pic) below.

Just a bit of back story on the helmet purchase – I was a bit interested in buying a new Bell RS1 full face helmet (being the proud owner of a Bell ‘Star’ in 1975) and had researched them, along with both the Shoei TZX (Qwest) and the NeoTec. When I had a good look at the Bell in the store recently, I found, to my surprise, the Bell helmets here in Australia are actually made in China, which was disappointing as I know that they have a fantastic factory and R & D facility in the USA. I wanted a ‘Made in the USA’ lid, just to bookend with my 1975 Bell Star. Irrational? Maybe, but as the marketing people know, every purchase has an emotional component to it as much as we, the purchaser, might like to think otherwise.  So with the Bell off the list, the next consideration was the excellent Shoei TZX (Qwest) which Marty has. However, I couldn’t get any discount on an already overly expensive price. After a bit of procrastination I asked about a best price on a NeoTec. I love the convenience of my current flip front helmet, but the Shoei modular helmets really come at a premium price. I was ready to leave that store without a helmet, as I had already secured a good discount price over the phone at another dealership, who were a bit out of the way though. Long story short, I got a reasonable discount and consequently bought it at the Elizabeth St (Melbourne) dealership where I purchased my ZX14 a couple of years ago. As an aside, read all about footpath parking motorcycles in Melbourne HERE.

Readers in the USA & UK will be astounded at what we pay for helmets in Australia, which is in large part manipulated by having to meet an Australian (and New Zealand) standard (AS/NZS1698) in order to be legal for street use. So much for the global economy, free trade agreements and US and European safety standards! In fact, the US online retailers won’t even sell us Shoei visors anymore, as they are ‘prevented’ from doing so by Shoei they claim. The visor also has to meet the Australian/NZ 1698 standard.

Interestingly, the best info I could get on the NeoTec features was from a ‘non official’ Shoei site HERE

Rather than describe its features I will link to a great video review from Web Bike World and then give some of my own initial impressions, and ongoing reviews, in future posts. However, my first comment is that the build quality and finish is excellent.

Whilst I’m embedding videos, here is a really interesting look into the Shoei helmet manufacturing process.

I will do a comparison of the NeoTec Vs MultiTec features in the near future. As I don’t have any advertising on this site and buy my kit with my own money, my reviews are not compromised by incentives, only by my own human biases! So my initial impressions from the first 200 miles in the NeoTec? The sun visor worked brilliantly being able to raise and lower it riding through the bush from completely shaded areas back into the sunshine was excellent. The aerodynamics were impressive and it felt light and stable – I didn’t end up with any neck pain. Interestingly, the first thing that Marty commented on was that the helmet looked a lot let bulbous on my head than the MultiTec. Certainly the shell is far more stylish than the old model.

Any negatives so far? Well with my height in relation to the fairing screen on the ZX14, I actually found this helmet to be a fraction more noisy than the MultiTec it’s replacing – despite all the advertising to the contrary. As I wear earplugs under the helmet that really doesn’t matter much to me.

At low speed in these cold conditions the visor fogged badly. I will definitely have to purchase the Pinlock insert.

EDIT 21st June

I went into my local bike shop and was about to pay $49.95 for the Pinlock insert, when the young sales guys informed me that I was meant to get one included for free when I purchased the Neotec. It was bought from another branch of the same company, so he made a call and then handed me over the Pinlock free of charge. His initiative was very much appreciated!

The other negative experienced was mainly a function of the helmet being brand new. I found the cheek pads were way too firm and forced me into a ‘trout pout’ which became uncomfortable during the second half of the ride. However, I expect that to diminish as I ‘run it in’

Aside from the helmet focus of this post, allow me just one little rant. As Marty and I were walking back towards where we had parked our bikes in Apollo Bay we found overseas tourists hoisting a child up on to my motorcycle to take photos. I yelled out at them from a distance and they removed the child from my bike. What a bloody cheek! And there was no apology. Marty’s bike had kid’s fingerprints over the tank. They were damn fortunate, as I know some motorcycle owners who would resolve such a situation with their fists!

The cat’s away ……

I’m batching at present and planned a big ride while Mrs T is away – though just a day ride. We are having a spell of unbelievably good weather for this late in Autumn. The forecast for today was 25C and windy. Marty and I headed to Lavers Hill via the back roads from Geelong. We stopped at a new coffee shop in Lavers Hill which has some lovely recycled timber in it. From here went our separate ways, Marty headed to Apollo Bay via the Great Ocean Road and I headed for Warrnambool via the 12 Apostles and the Shipwreck coast. After lunch in W’bool I made my way back to Geelong via Timboon, Port Campbell and part of the GOR back to Lavers Hill (the twisties near the Moonlight Heads are sensational so I had to ride them twice today). From there I tracked inland to Colac. After a quick visit to Steve’s I made my way back to Geelong in failing light, but balmy temperatures. A few shots below, for high res pics click HERE

mjo

Marty at “The Shoppe” Lavers Hill (Vic)

From the inside looking out

Port Campbell (Vic)

Deakin University, Warrnambool “Sherwood Park” campus. When I was a student here in the 1970’s part of the old sandstone mansion was still in tact. All that remains now are these pillars. This is a very attractive rural campus.

 

A Day at the ‘All Brit’ Rally

The annual 3 day All British Rally held at Newstead Vic is a major event of the BSA Motorcycle Owners Association of Aus. Andy is a stalwart of this event, as is Steve, though to a lesser extent – not camping there this year. I went as a day visitor and particularly wanted to see all the bikes when they make their run from the rally site at Newstead, to the historic township of Maldon. Rob H rang me the night prior to arrange a catch up in Maldon and I had previously tee’d up to meet Steve at the rally site. Japanese infidels are definitely not welcome on site, and like trailers and cars have to be parked outside of the venue precinct. I have to say it was a great buzz to be onsite at the rally and chew the fat with Andy and Co. with all manner and generations of Brit bikes riding about the place. Here are a few sample pics of the day. For some more high res pics, click HERE

or on ADV Rider HERE

“Nuts” on his beautiful up spec ES2 Norton.

Lovely Domi in a featherbed frame

Even the firewood gets delivered to campers in a vintage truck.

Cam, Rob & Steve in Maldon

A great crowd in Maldon.

Amazing what you can find hanging around a corner.

Scott Flying Squirrel

Another classy ‘outcast’ at the All British Rally. As if I wouldn’t post a pic of an Indian!

Lest we Forget

Norman S Pearce,  2/5th Infantry Battalion, 6th Division. 1,558 days of military service on foreign soil. Service in Libya against the Italians, in Greece (and Crete) against the Germans, in Syria against the Vichy French and New Guinea against the Japanese.

“We won no Victoria Crosses; we were not famous; but we proved ourselves in Bardia and for sheer dependability and duty well done, we have no better” (Anon, introduction to ‘All the King’s Enemies, a History of the 2/5th Australian Infantry Battalion’ 1988).

Also, in memory of an uncle I never met.

Gunner TJ Ryan, 4th anti tank regiment

Date of Death: 14/7/1943, age 24 years.

Place of Death: Siam

POW Thai / Burma railway

Victorian historic road racing championships

Mrs T and I attended the historic road racing championships at the Broadford circuit yesterday. This was a much smaller event than last weekend at Broadford. We opted for the comfort of the car as rain was forecast for the afternoon. It was a great day, again characterised by friendly folk and great pit access.

This is a “Forgotten era” (1973 – 1980) Kawasaki whose young rider, Andrew Lind, was just a delight to chat with. He was pretty handy on the track as well, finishing 3rd in both events we saw him in. This is a 1977 Z1000, bored to 1260. These machines still excite me!

 

Ah, the smell of racing fuel and the sound of unrestricted exhausts! This is really well run by the Historic Racing Motorcycle Association of Victoria.

Lots more high res pics HERE

Mrs T had a theme of photographing helmets, in addition to bikes that she liked, so I may well dedicate a later post to just helmets! I have a 1970’s Bell Star in my office, and I’d love to compare it with a contemporary Bell Star as Bell are being sold in Australia again after a very long hiatus.

 

A tale of two rides

I’ve had the days after Easter off as annual leave days and I’ve really been looking forward to a couple of decent day rides as Mrs T was working unexpectedly.  We’ve had lovely autumn (fall) weather. I took off Thursday morning to head inland to the historic town of Maldon, as the weather along the coast was not looking as good as forecast. I was just near the end of a bush section not that far from home and thinking that I was too late to disturb any kangaroos when a little wallaby bounced out onto the road. I braked safely and was never at any risk of hitting it. The rest of the ride was uneventful, though colder than forecast, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I was indifferent about riding, which is quite out of character – though I have had it happen before. I just couldn’t get into the groove and headed home early, though I ended up doing 345kms for the run. The highlight of the ride was seeing a Wedge Tailed Eagle up close as it made a meal of a dead sheep, though I was unable to get a photo. All in all, a much anticipated day of riding that I just did not get to grips with and it ended up a being a disappointment really.

Observation tower at Mt Tarrengower, near Maldon.

It’s all a matter of perspective!

The next day (Friday April 5th) Marty and I met at 8.30 and headed towards the 12 Apostles via the inland route. We had a good run inland (straight and boring) and arrived at the Timboon distillery in what seemed like no time. After a drink and a chat, we headed along the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. The bike and I were loving the twisties and the ride was thoroughly enjoyable, even though it was overcast and a bit chilly, again much cooler than forecast. After lunch in Apollo Bay we headed inland again, climbing up through the eucalyptus forests to the township of Forrest where we stopped at the brewery café for a short break. There were some other riders there who we chatted with briefly and then another group of three pulled in as well. We had a great day of riding, a nice pace and reasonably deserted roads. What a great day of riding and a huge contrast to the day prior.

Friendly owners explained their products to us.

Marty’s ZX14R

Despite our stops being booze vendors, we adhered to our zero alcohol when riding policy.

So there’s the story of two contrasting rides, only one day apart.

Honda Broadford Bike Bonanza

Mrs Tarsnakes & I attended the Honda Broadford Bike Bonanza again this Easter and the crowd was the biggest we’ve seen. This is a historic event, with no racing, just demo laps and many disciplines of motorcycle sport represented – road race, motocross, trials and speedway.

It was a huge thrill to bump into Alan Cathcart, have a chat, get his autograph on the T-shirt I’d just bought and,of course, get a pic with him. He is a delightful ‘fella to speak with and very generous with his time.

Sir Al’s Groupie!

Velocette was the featured marque this year and there was a huge turnout, from the 1930’s right through to the last model in 1970. If you want to hear what a bunch of Velo’s sound like, then click HERE

Below is a shot of just a few of the Velos. The other pictures demonstrate the variety that was on display.  I’ve sorted through around 300 photos and posted  the best of them in high resolution HERE. Best viewed in ‘slideshow’ view. There are some beautifully turned out historic British motorcycles and some great classic Japanese bikes that I love.

Next weekend the Victorian historic road race titles are on at Broadford and I suspect that some riders were using this historic event to sort their bikes and get in some practice laps of the circuit. At the risk of repeating myself, I love these events where one can get in among the bikes and talk to the riders to get a real sense of the history of specific bikes. next weekend I will have to buy another T-shirt – I certainly can’t wear the one that Sir Al autographed for me!