Two Nortons & a Suzi

Will the novelty of a new motorcycle to ride wear off? I guess so, but not enough yet to stop me riding in some cold winter weather!

I took a run from Geelong to Colac, then Ballarat then home to Geelong. Temps ranged from 4C when I left to 9.9C when I got home. The connecting theme for today was old mates and their restoration projects.

First project was Steve’s Norton Dominator (his road ride is a black Commando).

Hours of work on the lathe goes into fabricating lots of new parts on a job like this.

Next project saw me take a quick trip on deserted winter roads from Steve’s to Andy’s place in Ballarat (a place not known for warmth!) to see Andy’s recently purchased T250R Suzuki Hustler and the beginning of what he calls a ‘birthday’ for his Commando Fastback – new isolastics, a belt primary drive, lots of stainless nuts & bolts and a whole lot more.

Lots of happy memories from our teenage years when Andy had one just like this.

 Andy bought a Hustler as his first legal road bike not long after I first met him around 40 years ago. It did everything from get him to work in Melbourne everyday to riding the GOR on the weekends. You wouldn’t think that you could carry a box with a dozen long neck bottles of  beer on a tank that small would you?

 Less happy are places like this. A once bustling center of motor vehicle and British motor cycle repairs and service, in a town that barely exists now.

Winter sun

Marty & I took a run to the 12 Apostles today. It was 6C when we left after an overnight low of 0C. It probably didn’t get an warmer than 13C anywhere on our route, but we were dressed for the cold and had an enjoyable day’s riding.

I only took a couple of shots of the motorcycles parked in Port Campbell as I have dozens of pics of the 12 Apostles area in the camera already!

It was my first time out with the new mufflers on the ZX14 and they sound great, without being too loud.
The roads were mostly dry but there is an enormous amount of water lying about the roadsides and in the paddocks.

We wound up doing 341 kms for the day which is good for a day trip in the middle of winter here.

Megacycle slip ons

I recently took a run down to Megacycle engineering in the Melbourne suburb of Keysborough to get a set of slip on mufflers fitted. These are built from scratch by the owner Ken Onus and he likes to have the bike there and fit them virtually as he builds them. Megacycle engineering is an old school engineering works, that builds specialty motorcycle exhaust systems. It’s winter Down Under and it was a cold 6C when I left home and was  raining for much of the run down there. Ken wanted me there by 7.30am, which meant a 5.30am ish start for me if I wanted to avoid the Westgate Bridge bottleneck. As it was I got there at 7.00am.
Pic below shows a bleak morning.

Here is the finished product in stainless steel. The bike’s EFI can adjust OK and there is no need for a Power Commander or suchlike to get it running OK.

And the sound – a lovely burble that’s not too loud or intrusive. Also the oval shaped pipes look much less bulky than the big round standard pipes.

Ken is the only person I’ve ever met in Oz who has raced at the IOM – with some success actually.
Ken Onus IOM


Protective clothing study

Below is a link to a comprehensive Australian study of motorcycle protective clothing and associated injury reduction. I recommend that you read it and I’m sure that different aspects will have significance for different riders.

Overall it’s reinforced my belief in “All the gear all of the time” (ATGATT) and that jackets with armor were genuinely helpful at reducing injury (hardly a surprise but nice to see some science supporting the contention)  The amount of protective clothing that ‘failed’ in some way is cause for concern.

READ THIS for all of the detail.

Ride safe!

Mild winter day

Unbelievably it was 17C and sunshine today, though a strong blustery wind was a little disconcerting. I did a quick solo run from Geelong to Beech Forest via Colac, then down Turton’s Track (very greasy conditions) then back to Geelong via Forrest and Dean’s Marsh.

 Congratulations to Paul & Maria for 10 years (today) of constant improvement to this general store in Gellibrand. This pic doesn’t do justice to the place. The quality of Paul’s workmanship in restoring the interior is excellent.

I parked, got a hot chocolate – but the whole time I felt I was being watched!
A hah – I was being watched after all.

More wet tarsnakes

The shortest day of the year has passed, work has been demanding and it was time for Marty and I to take some motorcycle therapy.The road through the Otways were pretty treacherous in places, lots of mulched leaves and bark on the road and water lying across shaded corners – but what else can you expect in the middle of winter? Well at least it wasn’t raining here, as it was for the warm up for MotoGP in Assen – and it’s summer there! Temps somewhat comparable too.

Here’s some pics & I will post a few more words later.

First stop – the Gellibrand store

The recently installed hugger is clearly not very effective.

Marty has a little bit of pastie with his sauce!!
A blatant rip off. Avoid refueling at Apollo Bay if possible
A post ride debrief in sunshine on the outskirts of Geelong. 315kms of safe, sometimes challenging & enjoyable riding

Chasing tarsnakes in the winter rain

The sky was blue and it looked like a perfect winter’s day for a ride. The sunshine only lasted around 80 kms and the next 90 kms or so were done in in cold wintery conditions, only to fine up again for the final 30 kms home.

I actually found it immensely satisfying piloting the big Kwaka, with around 170 hp on tap at the rear wheel, in such challenging conditions.

Today’s circuit was from Geelong to Lavers Hill  via Colac, then along the inland part of the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. The final section was from Apollo Bay to Geelong via Lorne and Deans Marsh – a bit of a mistake in some ways as the GOR was quite slippery due to road construction and some small diesel spills – neither of which were pleasant in the rain! In Lorne I came across three motorcycle cops stopping traffic for random license checks. The fella who pulled me over was obviously a motorcycle enthusiast and we had quite a pleasant chat about motorcycling, Michelin tyres and the glory days of riding the GOR before there were 80 kph speed limits and double white lines. He made no secret of the fact that they were out to target motorcycles and that they were having a slow day – the posers tend not to ride the GOR in the rain!

I must say that the sight of a tiny little girl in her pink bicycle helmet perched up on one of the cop bikes whilst her proud Dad to a photo was just priceless. It would have been a great PR shot for Victoria Police.

Here’s a few pics taken during the occasional sunny breaks.

First stop at Gellibrand

Flowers by donation – you know that you’re out in the country.

You can’t see it but this is a pic of a ship out in the ocean near Apollo Bay!

Dirty Ninja

Cleaning those mufflers is going to be fun!

It was good to have a dry road for the last 30 kms to home.

Great art on the school kids’ bus shelter

The last of autumn

The weather has been atrocious over the past few weekends. And I have a near new motorcycle in the garage begging to be ridden! We’ve been experiencing an early winter pattern over the past couple of weeks and it looked like autumn was over. In any event, Marty and I had resolved to ride today even though the forecast was for very strong winds.

Here’s our route for the day.

Well we got lucky, a glorious autumn day emerged and we headed for the hills. The ZX14 still has the original Bridgestone BT014 tyres on it, which with 2,000kms on them feel like Michelin Pilot Road 2s with about 10,000kms on them. I plan to correct this in the next week and have some new PR2s ready to be fitted and some nice Ariete 90 degree valve stems to make life easier when it comes to pumping up the tyres.
 The other changes to the big Ninja are that it now has a Radguard radiator guard fitted and a new Ventura rack system. I’ve just got the short rack option fitted for day trips and have the large rack to fit when touring time comes.

I’m currently researching various ‘slip on’ after market mufflers, but haven’t made any decisions yet. I will most likely go for duel ‘slip ons’ rather than a full system as I don’t want to have the hassle and expense of a Power Commander as needed with a full system. Also my insurer doesn’t seem to mind what slip on mufflers I get and classify them as an accessory, whereas they regard a full system as a ‘modification’. I’m leaning toward stainless steel rather than carbon fiber but haven’t settled on any particular brand.

We stopped for drinks at Gellibrand, then headed for Beech Forest (where the sun was all wrong for the photos I wanted to take!). Turton’s track was covered in wet leaf litter and bark so we had to tippy toe gently through there. When we hit the Apollo Bay – Forrest Rd we turned left and headed for Forrest. Most of the corners were shaded and quite damp in spots so we took it pretty easy.

The microbrewery at Forrest was our next stop then we headed down to Colac to see Steve’s progress on his Norton Dominator resto. I took some pics of the Domi, but somehow I’ve stuffed up and can’t access them from the camera’s memory card!

From Steve’s place it was a quick run back along the Princes Hwy to Geelong. The ZX14’s low fuel light was flashing about 30 kms from home – hell that’s 21 litres for only 270kms. I’m hoping the fuel consumption improves as the motor gets run in (it just ticked over 2,000kms on it today). I know my mate Bill’s ZX14 will easily get into the low 300 kms out of a tank full even with quite spirited riding.

ANZAC Day ride & the best hamburger ever

Mrs Tarsnakes & I took off from sunny Geelong (80 km from Melbourne, Vic) around 10.00 am this morning, but before long we were riding in moderately thick fog, so I decided to stick to the Princes Hwy, rather than the back roads.

Here’s our route

We called in at S & H’s near Colac and spent some time there before ‘heading for the hills’, fortunately in sunshine. Our lunch destination was the tiny town of Beech Forest, (population 100) high in the Otway Ranges rainforest.

 During the 5 weeks we spent in the USA last year I had a secret mission (my mission was to keep it secret from Mrs Tarsnakes) to sample a significant number of American hamburgers, which are to the citizens of the US kinda like meat pies are to us here. The two equal finalists in the US could not have been further apart in style, one in an iconic greasy diner in New York (Big Nick’s hamburger joint), the other a classy, expensive restaurant overlooking Lake Tahoe, in California.

But who would have thought that THE BEST HAMBURGER EVER, was right here in Oz – and at a tiny country cafe in the Otway Ranges! OK, just take a look at the pic below

Lean beef, stacks of tasty non-greasy bacon and all fresh, organic grown ingredients – a magnificent burger.

All this was enjoyed in the sunshine from the outdoor deck looking out over the Otways. The 22,000 plus people who’ve read this blog know how rare it is for me to endorse any business – but the Ridge Cafe at Beech Forest, just near the Otway Fly tourist attraction really deserves it.

Mrs Tarsnakes’ vegie pie was sensational as well.

Out on the deck

A pensive Mrs Tarsnakes

The grim one with an uncharacteristic smile – it must be that new motorcycle!

The big Kawasaki performed beautifully two-up. A short 250 km run today and 1,500 kms on the clock when we got home.

Leaving ‘The Ridge’.


We Aussies are free to enjoy a great country and lifestyle because of the sacrifices of others. Today is ANZAC Day, a day on which there are civic marches in the capital cities and little country towns. I guess it tells you something about Aussies that this day was originally established to commemorate a massive military defeat, despite immense bravery and loss of life on the beaches of Gallopili in Turkey.

My late father served in the Australian Infantry Force during WWII. As I sit here looking at his military documents I still cannot fathom the enormity of his deprivations as he spent a total of 1,558 days fighting on foreign soil in the Middle East (against the Germans) and New Guinea (against the Japanese with our US allies), of his total 1,937 days as a member of the ‘Australian Imperial Force’. I’m amazed at what a gentle, wise and humble father he was given the horrors that he took part in. (And amazed he would ride pillion on my Vespa scooter sometimes when I was a boy!).

I’ve enjoyed this ANZAC day out riding and dining, however, I’ve tried not forget those whose suffering made this liberty and lifestyle possible; especially my own Dad who survived, and uncle Terry, who lost his life as a POW of the Japanese.

There are great men on all sides of conflict. I’m always greatly moved by the lack of rancor illustrated by the  words of  Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), who commanded the Turkish counter attack against the ANZACS at Gallopili, and then later as president of Turkey,  penned a tribute to the fallen ANZACS (Aussies and the New Zealanders) – his enemies.

It reads thus:

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives … You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us. Where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours … You mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away the tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.”

Derek Trucks: one of the guitar greats

Although this is a motorcycle blog, I have to make an exception and mention the brilliant Tedeschi-Trucks Band gig at the Palace Theatre in Melbourne that we attended last night. I’m lost for superlatives to describe how good they were and the brilliance of Derek Trucks’ guitar playing. We heard our favorites such as ‘Midnight in Harlem’, ‘Any Day’,’Bound for Glory’ and a heap of tracks from their forthcoming album ‘Revelator’. (Our favorites were songs we’d seen them play on the various Eric Clapton “Crossroads” Festival DVD’s). Their encore number was a superb version of ‘Space Captain’ (Original by Leon Russell & Joe Cocker). Susan T’s soulful vocals were stunning and she’s become an extremely skillful guitarist in her own right.
The support act was the ‘Robert Randolf Family Band’ a group well worth seeing in their own right!

More tour dates at the Tedeschi-Trucks website HERE.