The pipes, the pipes ……

The Ninja now has some new Yoshimura, R77 slip on pipes. I went for stainless steel with carbon fiber end caps, though I was sorely tempted by full carbon. Some better pics to follow, but here are a couple I shot indoors yesterday. The weight saving is substantial.

I should have taken a pic when unboxing. Basically it looked like the pipes were wrapped in plastic, placed in a long cardboard box and then gap filling foam was sprayed around them. This is the box of foam after the pipes had been removed.


Old Brits rock the Rock

Steve had been hatching a plan for some time to get Marty and I on board some old British iron. To that end he tee’d up a ride with he and Andy supplying Marty and I with old Brit motorcycles to sample for an afternoon. It seems another West Coast Procrastinators event has been added to the calendar of annual rides.

Just by way of context, Saturday was the first cool day after four consecutive days over 40C (104F) and it had actually peaked at 45.4C (113F) the day prior – the hottest day ever recorded in Geelong. As you will see in some of the following pictures, the countryside is absolutely parched.

We met at Steve’s place just out of Colac, the plan being to take a scenic ride around the area’s volcanic lakes –  the best known being Lake Corangamite. Being unable to ride two motorcycles at once, Andy trailered his bikes from his home in Ballarat.

The motorcycles:

Steve’s 1948 Norton 500 twin and 1970 750 Commando

Andy’s 1948 BSA 500 twin and 1969 750 Commando Fastback.

The plan was to swap around motorcycles so that Marty and I would get a feel for any of these old machines that took our fancy. I elected to head off on the ’48 Norton Dominator.

Our destination was the lookout at an extinct volcano, known as Red Rock. However, in true Procrastinator’s style, the destination was at no stage communicated amongst the participants! Consequently, the slower bikes being ridden by Andy and I rode straight past and had to be chased up by the two 750’s being ridden by Steve and Marty.

From the lookout it was easy to see that the small craters which usually form small lakes, were completely dried up, thus making the volcanic nature of the area very evident. Far in the distance is the huge salt lake, Lake Corangamite.

OK, so back to the motorcycles!

No electric start Marty!

“What, this thing?”

Below – the ever grim Tarsnakes firing up the BSA for the return trip! The two ’48 twins were very similar to ride in terms of power, seating position and (lack of ) brakes. Each bike fired up first kick and you will note the absence of oil drips under either of the bikes in any of these pictures – a credit to the engine restoration skills of Steve and Andy.

The small fuel tank on Steve’s Commando can pose a problem at times

From Red Rock we tracked along the back roads to Steve’s home. As I bopped along on Andy’s BSA I felt really contented, and scoffed at the “SLOW DOWN” signs along the way – instead I sped up to 90 kph in defiance! Back at Steve’s we had a debrief with our partners over cheese, bikkies, a selection of beers and wine and some lively conversation – a really enjoyable conclusion to an excellent day out.

Special thanks to Steve and Andy for their generosity in providing this unique motorcycling experience for Marty and I, and in so doing risking potential damage to machines that they have invested enormous amounts of time and skill in restoring. What risk you ask? Well it’s incredibly anti-intuitive riding motorcycles with right side gear shifters (one up and four down) and left sided rear brake, after a life time of riding left side gear change Japanese motorcycles.

For high resolution pics, click HERE.  (They are best viewed by clicking on ‘Slideshow’).

Post Script: As we were looking over at Lake Corangamite a few of us mentioned how the last big drought reveled the remains of a wreck of a Wirraway aircraft in the lake soon after WW II. Apparently there are now plans to retrieve the wreck. Full story HERE



Burger run

It was Mrs T’s turn to suggest the route for today’s ride. I was in full agreement with the proposal to head to Beech Forest via Turton’s Track for a burger lunch at ‘The Ridge’ cafe.

It was a sunny 17 Celsius when we hit the road. As we rode past “The Hill” vineyard we noticed a massive stage had been erected for tonight’s Leonard Cohen concert – the size of the thing was incredible. We took the Cape Otway Rd and in no time, well actually about an hour, pulled in at the West Barwon Dam at Forrest for a pit stop. This is a really pretty place and one of my favorite haunts.

From here we took the ultra twisty and scenic Turton’s Track. However, it was a chilly 12 C along here and we were glad to get out from under the cover of the trees for the last few kilometer run to ‘The Ridge’ and then get a table out on their sunny deck.

  I once named their burgers “the best hamburger ever” (which they reference on their lunch menu) having sampled stacks of them on our 2010 USA tour. However, times change, and whilst still a tasty burger made from local produce, they have seriously out-priced themselves at $22 per burger, in my view. Hence, I will now need to resume my quest for the “best burger ever”.

From here we headed down towards Colac to visits friends Steve & Helen and check the progress on Steve’s latest project, a pre-war model 18 Norton single. He has painted the frame and also re-produced many of the nuts and bolts for this bike himself (in stainless steel) on his lathe. He also laced the wheels from scratch. I personally love the appearance of girder forks. For more build details, see Steve’s blog HERE

The engine is under construction.

From here we hit the highway and headed straight home to tackle a few yard work chores that were awaiting us. Even though we traveled Hwy 1 home, the 22C temp and sunshine proved to be perfect riding conditions for a ‘leather jacket over a T-shirt combination’ attire. At approx 250 kms total it was a short ride, but thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing. The rear tire has less than 4K kilometers on it and now needs replacing – but a soft compound and rear wheel 200 hp will do that!


The perfect ride

I saw this motorcycle safety advertisement on TV last night. It’s a refreshing change!

Actually, this one should come first

It then led me to the ones below which feature my local rides. These are very familiar spots that I have ridden many hundreds of times. The hazards that they mention are quite realistic though, but I had to laugh that they were happy to get off the twisty roads!

The last one in the new series.

It’s great to see some positive (educational) messages from the TAC at last!


We took the new ZX14R for its second trip to Lorne in a week. On both occasions we traveled the inland route via Deans Marsh to get there, then home via the Great Ocean Road. It wasn’t really a nice day weather-wise with gusty winds and a temp of only 12C through the hills- hence the short ride.

Mrs Tarsnakes can’t get over how smooth this bike is, though I can’t tell any difference from the last one.

Took a run inland through the Otways and then along part of the GOR today – 5 October

Eateries on the Great Ocean Road

A quick trip down to Colac today turned into an unexpected run along some of the most scenic parts of the Great Ocean Road. I took the inland route to meet the GOR at Lavers Hill and then traveled back towards Melbourne. Rather than post a bunch of scenery shots, I thought I’d just showcase two new places to eat along the GOR. The first is at the tiny township of Lavers Hill, (population 200) the second at Airey’s Inlet, a popular coastal holiday town. Here is a map of the interesting part of the road between the two places.

I decided on lunch at the “Shoppe” at Lavers Hill, and wasn’t disappointed when I chose a big burger.

A tasty burger and friendly staff, couldn’t have asked for more!

We have had miserable, wet weather for weeks now, however, out of the blue we experienced a balmy, classic spring day. It really came out of nowhere as we had substantial rainfall last night even. I had a great run along the GOR. There was hardly any traffic going my way. I stopped in Apollo Bay briefly for gas, then headed on to Lorne where I pulled in to take in the views and have a drink.

About 110kms along the GOR from Lavers Hill is Freestones Roadhaven Diner, a 1960’s retro diner in Aireys Inlet that just keeps getting better and better. I recently received an email from Christine Freestone, in response to a previous post I’d done on their diner not long after it opened.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit our diner.   It has been a 5 year labour of love, “a moment of madness”, a place to forget your troubles and get lost in the 60s.   We have big plans for the front of the shop with the purchase of a 57 Chevy ex Disney display car which will live inside the Malt Shop.   New bi folds doors soon to be installed opening out to luxurious outdoor furniture.   We recently travelled across U.S.A. and feel what we have created on the GOR is truly unique.   Tours of the classic car display are offered in return for your support.   Paul or Brique love to explain the history of the cars, we endeavour to change the display on a regular basis.   We are about to display our 1954 21′ Chris Craft lake boat.
Cheers, Christine and Paul Freestone.

They have done an incredible job on this place and obviously have further plans.

Downstairs, front cafe. Lots of memorabilia and the car collection is right behind here.

T model Ford

Some of their car collection

Upstairs diner

Pretty quiet as I was here late afternoon

A couple of 1960’s Mustangs pulled in and an E Type Jag was parked around the corner.

Quite a few pics I know, but I’m really happy to support people who have obviously invested a substantial sum of money to make this place happen! Below is a video walk through of Freestones, done by Unique Cars magazine.

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!