Pilot Road 2CT again

I’ve followed the lead from Chillertek over at The Road to Nowhere blog and had some new tyres fitted. I was very satisfied with the Michelin Pilot Road 2’s that I had fitted at around 2,000kms to replace the disgraceful old school OEM Bridgestones that the Kwaka came with. Well 9,400kms later they still had just a little tread left, especially the front, maybe just enough for the rear to top the 10K kms with, but after my ride in the rain last Saturday I decided to get them changed. I think it’s great that a tyre with so much grip can last so long on a 250+ kg bike. I bought these online ages ago from the USA when the Aus dollar was running at $1.10 against the US dollar. I think that we are getting shafted buying locally when a pair of the Michelins delivered to my door from the US cost the same as the retail price of a single rear tyre here in Oz.

I also had some lovely 90 degree Ariete valve stems fitted. I had these on the VFR800 and they make life so much easier for checking tyre pressures.

I also learnt something interesting, namely how to check the manufacture date of a tyres. Amongst the series of letters on the side of the tyre after the ‘DOT’ is a panel with 4 numbers. The first two numbers indicate the week of the year the tyre was manufactured and the second two numbers indicate the year of manufacture. So the tyre in the pic below was made in the 14th week of 2011.

Also, so far I’ve bought Michelin PR 2’s made in Thailand and some made in Spain. In both cases they were purchased from the USA. They certainly are well traveled tyres by the time they get to me in Australia!


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!


Chain maintenance the Tarsnakes way

When I was in Melbourne at Pete’s place last Monday, he showed me what appeared to be an O-ring that he’d found adhered to the wheel rim on his ZX14. It was obviously flung from the chain. He then showed me his chain and it had lots of pieces of O-ring rubber ‘tails’ coming out of the side plates of the links. Pretty obviously his chain is now damn near useless! As the bike has only done 8,000 kms (5K miles) he was taking it back to the shop where he purchased for a warranty claim.

This led me to clean and inspect my chain yesterday as my ZX14 has roughly the same kilometres on it. Mrs T came out with the camera for another purpose, so I got her to hang about and take some shots as a bit of a pictorial on how I give my chain a good clean every now and again. Most of you will know how to do this and will have your own routine and favored products, so this is just my approach. “Your mileage may vary” as they say! Probably about now the folk with shaft & belt drive motorcycles are having a bit of a snigger!

OK, so first up, I have the motorcycle on a rear stand with a big piece of cardboard underneath and an big rag under the chain to soak up the slops – this is going to get messy. I also place some cardboard as a shield between the chain and the rear tyre so as to limit the kerosene splatter onto the tyre. I use kerosene as the internet tells me it does not damage O-rings when used as a cleanser (and I’ve used it without a problem for around 35 years).

Gloves on, (chain lube gunk is ‘the enemy’ on your skin in my book – as is grease) I then use a dish washing brush, dip it into the kero and start cleaning the chain from the inside. Rotate the back wheel by hand.

I’m using the small red bristles on this brush to clean the chain, not the larger bristles that are facing upwards.

You can see my cardboard shield in this pic

After I’ve gone around the chain, I clean the rear sprocket. When I’m happy with it all, I then wipe the chain thoroughly with a rag and then use my compressor to air blast all of the kero off the chain until it is dry. This of course will spray a whole lot more gunge on to the rear wheel rim so that it needs to be cleaned as well.  In my pre-compressor ownership days I used to take the bike for a run around the block and let centrifugal force do the same thing – keeping in mind that kero on the tyre is very slippery.

It’s then time to lube the chain. Which chain lube is the best is a question that has as many answers as there are products available – a lot like engine oil and tyre choice – it’s rare to get a consensus! A brief diversion if I may, some of you may be old enough to remember an Aussie chain lube commonly used in the 1970’s, I think that it was called “Wear Pruf” – a mate of ours named it “Pink Cat” and that name stuck amongst the Procrastinators for many years. Anyway, its anti-fling properties were laughable by the standard of any of today’s products. Currently I’m using a Du Pont product that Geoff from Confessions of an Ageing Motorcyclist put me on to – I’m very satisfied so far thanks Geoff. With this Teflon based product it’s a long time between full chain cleaning ‘birthdays’ and chain fling is virtually non-existent.

I usually don’t spray near the rear tyre like this, but Mrs T couldn’t get a pic when I moved further forward along the chain. I spray from the inside of the chain and rotate the tyre by hand, though the temptation to have the engine running and the bike in 1st gear is great.

Theoretically I will now have more horsepower at the back wheel– like I need that. All that needs to be done is to pack up all the kero & chain gunk soaked rag and cardboard and dispose of it in an environmentally friendly manner.

So all of this came about because of Pete’s chain issue being on my mind and the pics resulted from Mrs T sneaked attempt at an opportunistic shot of my rear end as I was bent over to embarrass me with – “you’re on crack” she said! That pic has been deleted I can assure you!!

I don’t commute on my motorcycle, it’s used purely as a recreational vehicle. I lube the chain after each ride, preferably while the chain is still warm, and give it a full clean like this maybe once or twice a year.

What’s your routine for chain care?

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”.


The 2012 Ninja ZX14R

I received an email from Kawasaki Australia to announce the availability of the new Ninja in Australia. Of course there is the usual hyperbole associated with a new release, such as

“ ….twisting the throttle past 4,000 rpm may result in a sensation not entirely unlike that experienced by astronauts breaking free from the Earth’s gravitational pull”.

Despite that sort of rubbish, there is actually some interesting technical info available at their site.

Here’s the link to the Ninja ZX14R

UK online magazine Visordown test HERE

Official accessories, centre stand, top box, Akrapovic slip-ons etc HERE

I wonder how much it costs? Despite Kawasaki Australia saying that this model has been released in Oz, I rang peter Stevens Kawasaki in Melbourne, who said that they don’t have the pricing yet nor do they have one in stock!

Big Kwaka