Coast in the AM, inland for the PM

I took a short solo coastal ride Thursday morning, then a twilight ride to Andy’s place in Ballarat with Marty. In the morning I experimented with an old camera on a lanyard for some pics ‘on the fly’.

The morning ride

Below: main beach at Lorne Vic.

Below: The Lorne to Dean’s Marsh road

Not speeding!

The afternoon ride

Marty and I headed off a little after 5.00pm and took some back roads via Mt Mercer inland to Ballarat. It had warmed up to around 33C, but the riding was pleasant until……. Marty suffered a puncture of his rear tyre. He’s unsure what did it, but it left a large hole, though nothing was embedded. Fortunately we had a puncture plugging kit and once we located the hole had it “fixed”  and headed on to Andy’s motorcyle restoration workshop. The three pics below demonstrate completed, in progress and yet to be touched projects. All are 1973 Suzuki two strokes, 250, 350 and 750 respectively.

As the tyre plug was leaking slightly we left Marty’sZX14R and rode home two up on mine. The plan being to get a new tyre fitted the next day.

Here’s an update: the T350 Suzuki that was “in progress”is now completed. Pics below.

A nice pair.

 

 

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.

 

More like summer than Autumn

Although it’s the third day of Autumn (Fall for those of you in the USA) the weather forecast for today was for 27C (80F) and sunny, although we knew it would be cooler in the hills and along the coast. Mrs T and I had been planning a trip to Johanna to check it out for a possible camping trip. Johanna is a surf beach off the ‘inland’ section of the Great Ocean Road. We left Geelong around 10.30 am in sensational conditions – there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Our route from was Geelong along the Cape Otway road to Forrest which was our first coffee stop. There were a few other motorcyclist stopped there enjoying the day as well. Actually a bunch of HD’s and choppers rolled in as we were leaving – unusual to see them out in the country.

From here we headed towards Apollo Bay, then turned up Turton’s Track. Mrs T experimented with a shot from the pillion seat on the Apollo Bay road.

Turton’s Track is slow, but extremely picturesque. It comes out in Beech Forest and from here it’s only a short run up to the intersection of the GOR and then down to the Johanna beach turnoff. There were quite a few campers and surfers enjoying the beach-side national park. The pic below will give you a clue why.

We found some shade and ate our lunch. I’m so sick of buying overpriced, mediocre food whilst out riding I’ve started taking a lunch on some rides. Very old fashioned I know – I’ve become my parents!

After lunch we got back onto the GOR, having skillfully dodged a farm dog that rushed out towards the ZX14’s front wheel at warp speed. We overtook a couple of cars bunched up together, then had a completely car free run to Apollo Bay. This was probably the best run through sweepers of the bush section of the GOR that I’ve EVER had – it was that good and Mrs T is an excellent pillion in the twisties. After getting some fuel at Apollo Bay we headed a short distance along the GOR to Skene’s Creek, then headed inland up through the twisties back to Forrest for another drink stop. As we pulled up I spotted a unique looking cafe racer style TRX Yamaha and later chatted with it’s owner.

Painted in Ducati colors, it has a cafe racer kit tank, seat and fairing. I think that it looks excellent. High resolution pictures HERE and HERE. Link to video HERE

  By now it was actually getting hot. We headed for home via the back roads, thoroughly enjoying the riding and weather. All up, we covered 320 kms of great riding in perfect weather conditions. It doesn’t get much better than this and I clocked up around 645 kms for the weekend, having ridden with Marty yesterday. Actually, here’s a pic of Marty’s ZX14 yesterday with the new Delkevic pipes.

 

Two up with Mrs T again

Saturday 19 January

Mrs T had suggested a run earlier in the week and I was only too happy to agree. Saturday dawned a little cloudy and not quite as fine and sunny as forecast so we did some chores in the morning and just waited for the weather to declare itself. As midday approached we set off, though Mrs T commented that “….. it looks like the calm before the storm” – which fortunately turned out to be incorrect. I’d made some salad rolls for lunch and we set off for a leisurely ride to the West Barwon dam just near Forrest. Despite still being summer holidays for many, the roads were virtually deserted.

Unpacking lunch 

After lunch we headed towards Apollo Bay but turned off at Turton’s Track. This road is really narrow – one lane in some spots – but incredibly scenic as just about its whole length is under the canopy of huge eucalyptus tree. I should have stopped for some pics, however, there are few suitable places and the ground still looks quite soft in the rain forest. I had visions of pulling up, putting my foot down only to have it slip away and us take a tumble – so no pics this time! Actually, I just Googled for an image of Turton’s Track and actually found an old shot of my own that I’d forgotten about. See below. Just as an aside, I then Googled ‘Tarsnakes images’ as an experiment, and whilst there were lots of other people’s pics there – there were an incredible number of thumbnails of pics that I’ve taken, including many I’d forgotten about. Try it with your own screen name and see what you come up with.

By now the sky was completely blue and the temp was around 22C (71F) – perfect riding conditions really. We pulled in at Beech Forest for a brief pit stop, always a good photo op for the ZX14. Try as I might, I still haven’t taken the ‘perfect’ shot of this bike that I’m always aiming to get – you know – the one to be enlarged and placed on the office wall. I guess that I will just have to keep trying!

As you can see by the squiggles on the map, the section from point C to point F is all pretty twisty – just the kind of riding we love on a mild summer’s day.

Mrs T insisted on taking my pic, I suspect just to demonstrate how bloody annoying I am, by always taking pics of others. OK a shot of me – but only if I can keep my helmet on.

From here we headed down to Gellibrand and had a coffee at the bike friendly Gellibrand store – a favorite of ours. I mentioned to Maria how quiet it was on the roads and she was of the view that a weekend immediately before a long weekend (Australia Day long weekend next week) is always pretty quiet. Being quiet, Maria was free to chat a bit and we wound up having quite a few laughs as she told us about their last family holiday disaster.  We made our way back to Geelong via a series of back roads and I really didn’t want the ride to end – it was great just rolling along in the sunshine.

All up a satisfying day out together. Only 250 kms (155 miles) but it seemed ‘just right’ today.

 

 

 

 

Pre-Christmas on the Great Ocean Road

My neighbor Mitch and I made an early start around 7.00 am to beat the holiday traffic on the GOR. Our route ran from Geelong along the GOR to Lorne where we turned inland and headed to Forrest via Dean’s Marsh. After a brief stop at the West Barwon reservoir we headed to Apollo Bay for a coffee stop and re-fuel. Check out what I paid for 98 octane in Apollo Bay in the pic below. You guessed it – there is only one gas station and it’s holiday season! From Apollo Bay we rode the GOR back to Lorne and encountered surprisingly little traffic. We didn’t stop in the tourist mayhem of Lorne but again headed back inland to Dean’s Marsh and had another pit stop. From here I headed to Colac to visit Steve and Mitch headed home. It was an excellent run in perfect motorcycling conditions, namely blue skies, no wind and around 25C temp.

Yes, that $185.9 per litre! Holiday season profiteering?

Mitch (AKA Sir Skuffy in some circles) can really hustle this modded Honda CB1000R.

Ohlins rear suspension matched to his weight and modded front forks.

Heated grips, bar end mirrors & small aftermarket screen

In a moment of introspection, brought about by this ride and a recent birthday, it occurred to me that I have now been riding the GOR in all kinds of conditions for 40 years now. The run from Lorne up to Colac reminded me of my first covert winter runs along the GOR as an unlicensed 16 year old on my Yamaha 175 trail bike, the occasional ride on Andy’s 250 Suzuki Hustler, and also blasting along the GOR on either of my CB750 Hondas (with the young Ms Tarsnakes on the back), let alone the evil handling Kawasaki Z1R!

On the topic of Kawasaki’s, the ZX-14 performed beautifully and my love affair with the big Kwaka continues! It is hands down the best motorcycle I’ve ever owned. It’s also worth a mention that the 2012 ZX-14R won Two Wheels magazine’s “Bike of the Year” award.

Lorne for coffee

It was a chilly 5C this morning, however, the bright sunshine and promise of warmer temps along the coast lured us out for a short ride along the GOR to Lorne, then home via Deans Marsh.

We sat out in the sunshine at a Greek cafe right by the pier.

Helmets by the bay!

As we were leaving a guy offered to take a shot of us by the ZX14

It got cloudy and cool as we wound our way up through the bush and the curves to Deans Marsh. We overtook a couple two up on a sport bike who were going extremely cautiously – I’m sure the bike’s stability was not helped by how high up the pillion was perched. As we came up behind them I actually thought the lass on the back was standing up as she was literally head and shoulders above the rider.Once we hit the Cape Otway Rd the sun came out and we enjoyed a good run home.

 

Autumn in the Otways

Last week we planned to ride the Otways on Easter Sunday with our partners aboard, however, the weather was cold and windy. The newspapers all reported that Easter had marked the last of the good weather, even though it’s early autumn (fall). Well the weather forecasters got it all wrong yet again and we’ve just had a sensational weekend with blue skies and the temps in the mid to high 20 Celsius range.

We met Marty & Pauline on the outskirts of Geelong and headed towards Colac via Dean’s Marsh. It was a glorious, one T-shirt under the leathers, kind of morning. Our first stop was at Maria & Paul’s store in Gellibrand. It’s our usual first coffee stop. It was great to be greeted via the the kitchen window as we pulled up with “Hello Tarsnakes – I’ve been looking at your blog lately” from Maria.

On the counter were ‘Choo Choo Bars’ which excited the girls enormously – not having seen them since their childhood days!

I’ve been meaning to take a shot of their fabulous antique cash register for some time. Isn’t it a ripper?

It was a bit early for lunch, so we headed on just a little further to Lavers Hill. The road twists its way uphill through the bush and it is a great strip of scenic and fun road to ride. Both Marty and I are fortunate in that we both have excellent passengers who enjoyed the run up through the winding road as much as we did.

Lunch stop at Lavers Hill. The colors of the vine covering the outdoor deck are lovely. Pauline took a few shots and then the waitress offered to take a pic of all of us (though it’s not so good due to shooting into the sun).

From Lavers Hill we rode the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay in perfect conditions.

Blue sky as far as the eye can see.

 

Other than fuel, we didn’t stop in Apollo Bay. We were in for a shock, I’m not sure if you can read that gas price – but it is just on $1.88 per LITRE for premium!!

We had a great run up through the hills to Forrest, where we stopped at the Brewery for a break and a chat before the final  run back to Geelong. All up we did 312 Kms through some great countryside in excellent – and unexpected – sunshine.

Great company, great roads and great weather – a motorcyclist can’t ask for any more than that!

 

Weekday Otways run

Marty and I took a run through the Otways today as we are both on holidays and it was a perfect day for a weekday ride.

Our first stop was the Gellibrand store, where Maria was sporting a Gellibrand “Blues & Blueberry Festival” T-Shirt. This will be a huge gig for a tiny township on 3 March. For details see Moshtix. Here’s a shot of their flyer in the shop window.

We had a great run with very little traffic from Gellibrand to Lavers Hill and the same along the GOR to Apollo Bay. It was too good to be true, and the traffic from Apollo Bay to Forrest was a bit slow.

Some pics of the bikes parked in the shade at Apollo Bay.

Marty’s ZX9R

We pulled in to Forrest microbrewery for a drink (non alcoholic when we’re riding) and a bit more of a chat. Some older fella who had been really flying through the curves in his car insisted we join him. We did so and also bumped into Fiona who we know from our work who was working there.

The weather was perfect for riding with the temp at around 22C and lots of blue sky & beautiful sunshine – 315 kms of “moto-therapy”.

 

New Year’s Day 2012

Happy New Year to all who follow Tarsnake’s blog!

The West Coast Procrastinators got their act together again to reprise our New Year’s Day 2011 run. The aim for the day was to ride some back roads and then enjoy a leisurely lunch to usher in the New Year at the cafe at a distillery in the tiny Western District township of Timboon (Pop 850). This place is just inland from the famous 12 Apostles and the gas processing plant for the Casino Natural Gas off shore rigs is based nearby.The motorcycles present were two early 1970’s Norton Commandos and two big bore Kawasakis.

Andy had a gift for us –  a couple of personalized stubby holders each!

Let me tell you a little about the “Procrastinators”, just in case you are new to Tarsnakes. In addition to his Norton Commando, Andy has numerous other motorcycles. Complete and running are a 500cc BSA twin, a lovely 1972 T250 Suzuki Hustler, and an old 350cc Panther single. Under restoration are a 450 Ducati and another BSA. I’ve probably missed some of his machines, as there are numerous other motorcycles in various states of completion.

Other than his Commando, Steve has another complete and rideable 500cc twin cylinder Norton Dominator, a Norton 500cc single and a 1970′s RD350 Yamaha (which he rode to some of the most remote parts of Australia on back in 1979). He also kindly houses my wife’s rideable, but incomplete, early 1970′s 175 Yamaha CT1 dirt bike. Both of these guys were my mates from our teenage years, when we came together with a love of motorcycles and riding as our common bond.

Neither Marty nor I are are into restoring old motorcycles. He’s my main touring buddy (and features in most rides reports on this blog) and we’ve been great friends for the past 26 years.

Our route. For a bigger map click HERE

I had some new gloves to try out. They are Held Steve II’s, featuring kangaroo skin palms. They are a recent birthday gift from Mrs Tarsnakes.

Marty and I met on the edge of town. The blue sky, a forecast top of 35C and the lack of traffic looked very promising for a great day of riding. I guess many folk were still in bed being New Year’s Day.

About 40 minutes later Marty and I arrived at our rendezvous point near Colac (Vic) which is approx 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Melbourne. From here we headed to Timboon via Cobden.

Lunch venue. The Timboon Railway Shed Distillery

The motorcycles in front of the distillery. Steve’s Norton in front.

Andy’s Commando

Me astride the ZX14.

The West Coast Procrastinators doing what they do best!

It was time for some lunch and we secured a table out on the decking. The temp was climbing, I’d say approx 26C by this stage. Some had beef, some had pie & some had fish. The background music included a Derek Truck’s band number so all was good.

No whisky for us, but at least it was local.

I’d heard of an old timber trestle rail bridge in the area so we asked for directions and headed off to check it out. “Watch out for snakes down there” our waitress warned. It was down a dusty, corrugated gravel road, but certainly well worth a look.

Arty shot as suggested by Marty.It was really hot down in this valley, maybe 35C and no breeze to be had at all. The bikes were parked in the shade!

Here’s a framed shot of Steve.

The bridge is now used as part of a bicycle path. One of many “rail trails” in the Australian countryside.

Two brave motorcyclists walk across the bridge towards a large black creature with horns.

Two brave motorcyclists return, the horned creature stands its ground!

By the time we rode the few kilometers back up the corrugated, gravel road Andy was concerned that his clutch wasn’t feeling quite right nor functioning correctly so he and Steve decided to head for home back along the way we had come, rather than taking in the 12 Apostles – Great Ocean road loop.

Marty and I said our farewells and headed off to the coastal township of Port Campbell. We fueled up and the rode the GOR through the twisties to Laver’s Hill. At Laver’s Hill we turned off the GOR and headed inland to Beech Forest and then Forrest via Turton’s Track. from there we headed back to Colac to see that the Norton devotees had arrived home OK, which thankfully they had!

We sat in Steve’s shed and chewed the fat for a while, then Marty and I saddled up and headed back to Geelong via Hwy 1. All up, 385 kms of scenic and really enjoyable riding with mates.

Summer has finally arrived – it’s forecast to be 41C (105F) here today!

To see this report on Pashnit motorcycle forum click HERE