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?

Paint protection film

I’ve had a problem with the front of my jacket rubbing against the back of the petrol tank which in time will damage the paint. I fitted a typical tank protector but it lifted at the edges when we had some really hot weather.The next time I was heading out for a ride Mrs Tarsnakes hastily fitted some contact to the tank to protect it from my gut rubbing the paintwork – it looked pretty awful!

This was a temporary measure until I was able to get some paint protection film (PPF) professionally fitted. Today was the day, so I headed off to Melbourne to Pete’s place as the guys who install it offer a mobile service. The company is Invisable Car Bras.

Here’s James (standing) and Simon (I think) fitting the PPF.

Can you see where it’s fitted up the back of the tank and along the sides? Probably not, even though installation was incomplete in this pic, as they hadn’t finished the edges at this stage! It was quite difficult to get a decent pic with all the glare and reflections.

I will keep you posted on how it performs over time. They guarantee it against scuffing & deterioration – so time will tell. I didn’t think to ask James if the product is resistant to petrol spills, I guess I’d better be careful. Pete has the full kit across all the frontal surfaces on his ZX14 and you really have to know the product is there to detect where the edges are, otherwise if you are not specifically looking for it you just won’t see it.

It was a boring run back down the freeway to Geelong being buffeted by a hot northerly wind and was home by midday, just as the mercury hit the 30C (86F) mark.





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)

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.


Spring in the Otways

It has been a brilliant weekend of Spring sunshine, so Marty and I took a quick sprint though the Otway Ranges on our typical day trip route.

Here’s a few pics taken at a roadside stop near Laver’s Hill.

Jules with the Kawasaki ZX14

Marty conjuring spells for sticky tires

Marty with his Kawasaki ZX9R

All up 317 kms of riding pleasure, including the inland section of the Great Ocean Road. The ZX14 is now due for its 2nd service (6K kms service), which I will be getting done this week. So far I cannot fault this motorcycle, it is everything that I hoped it would be & suits my purposes very well.

Oomoo light

Saturday 20 Aug

Back in 2004 Andy devised a weekend route that was suitable for some old, old motorcycles. It came to be named the Oomoo Run, after a new release red wine that we (over) imbibed in with dinner that night. The Oomoo run was repeated again in 2005 & 2006.

Steve in full flight on his 1950’s AJS in 2004

Today I rode the first part of that route as we had yet another magnificent winter’s day. I procrastinated (which is quite acceptable for a ‘West Coast Procrastinators’ old boy) whether to go a little further inland, which I then commenced to do – only to bail out after riding a section of around 5 kms of gravel road works with no end in sight. You will see from some of the pics that Spring is just around the corner here.

Firstly I headed from Geelong to Ballarat – a pretty boring road. Then skirted around Ballarat and headed through some tiny townships like Ross Creek, Snake Valley and Cargnham. From the mullock heaps it’s obvious that these were once thriving gold mining towns back in the late 1800’s, now there’s virtually nothing there.

This is some of the route

The shot below is a redux of a pic taken in the same spot 7 years ago, then featuring  my CBR600

OK – here’s the VFR at the same spot in 2006 as well!

There were some places that I wanted to stop and take some pics, like the dead fox hanging from a road sign and the tiny, sad war memorial in Snake Valley,  however, I wasn’t game enough to pull off the asphalt as the roadsides were very soft and boggy due to all the recent heavy rain.

Beaufort is a small town on the Western Highway that most folk drive through on the way to Adelaide, the Grampians, or the vineyards further on down the road, however, it really is an attractive, well maintained little place.

Shot of the day

I’m on a bit of a theme of photographing small town war memorials at present. This one is kinda impressive for such a small town.

I headed down Colac way via Skipton as well, then home to Geelong.

All up, 396 kms for the day and home by 3 pm.

War memorial at Beeac Vic population 200

Check out all that blue sky – and it’s still Winter here!

All up, 396 kms for the day and home by 3 pm.

Balmy winters day

I’d been hoping for a ride this weekend. Saturday turned out to be as forecast – rain and clearing showers. Sunday was forecast to be cloudy with an unlikely temp of 18C. So I couldn’t believe my eyes Sunday morning when I awoke to glorious sunshine with barely a cloud in sight. It was too good not to ride so I  took a short run in what turned out to be beautiful weather conditions considering that it’s winter here. My route was Geelong to Forrest, then Beech Forest via Turton’s (treacherous) Track, Gellibrand, then I skirted around Colac and headed home. It was around 6C when I left at 9.30am and an incredible 20C when I got home in the early afternoon.

The ZX14 in front of the Forrest microbrewery

Only hot chocolate for me though!

Less than 5 months till Christmas.

At the West Barwon dam

Lovely spot for a BBQ or picnic, but virtually deserted today.
Turton’s Track
Ford Focus turbo club gathering at Beech Forest.

 I stopped at Gellibrand for a drink and talked to some fellas who’d been mountain bike riding along the Old Beechy rail trail and were absolutely coated in mud.

After a short break at ‘Gelli’  I headed straight home as I had chores awaiting me. All in all, an unexpected and enjoyable day of riding in unseasonably balmy conditions.

Vale Ken Wootton and Fox Sports are carrying the story of the death of Ken Wootton in his sleep at the age of 57 last Sunday whilst holidaying in Czechoslovakia .

The long time editor of Australian Motorcycle News (AMCN) Ken was an iconic figure in Australian motorcycling journalism. Over the years I’ve greatly enjoyed his motorcycle test reports, annual touring stories and race reports, as well as his track side commentary at various Phillip Island motorcycle races.

Ride on Ken Wootton.