ZX14 is due for first service & another Ninja

First off, congratulations to my mate Peter on the purchase of his new ZX14 – in red. I’m looking forward to seeing it. Little did I know that this would be the result when Pete looked over my day old Ninja a fortnight ago!

Pete aboard his new ZX14

In the two weeks I’ve had the ZX14 I’ve managed to clock up 1,000 kms and so it’s ready for its first service. I want to get it serviced this week so that we have the option of doing some rides over Easter if the weather’s OK.

I rode solo through the Otways yesterday in fairly cool conditions. The roads were quite damp – wet in the shady spots, so I took it pretty easy. After around 250 kms through the Otway Ranges I wound up at Steve’s and we had a very pleasant ‘arvo sitting in his shed talking bikes, blues and more bikes! The sun came out for an uneventful run back home from Colac.

Marty joined me today, on what turned out to be a magnificent Autumn day. We left Geelong around 9.30am, it was 13C and cloudy. It actually got cooler in the foothills of the Otways as we approached our first stop at Gellibrand. We were there no time and the sun came out and pretty soon an hour had slipped by as we sat in the sun and chatted to the store’s owner (and KTM rider) Paul. As you can see from the pic below there was not much doing in downtown Gellibrand on a Sunday morning!

We were more focussed on riding than stopping for pics, so here’s two more of the motorcycles in ‘Gelli’.

We had an excellent run along the GOR to Apollo Bay and likewise back inland via Forrest. I thoroughly enjoyed both rides and I’m very pleased with my choice of new motorcycle based on it’s first 1000kms.

Did I mention that there is only one gas station in Apollo Bay? Consequently I paid $1.64 per litre (that’s around $6.23 per US gallon) for premium unleaded, making it the most expensive petrol I’ve ever purchased, even though Apollo Bay is only 190 kms (approx 120 miles) from Melbourne!

This coming week we’re attending two highly anticipated concerts on in Melbourne. Wednesday night we’re seeing the Blind Boys of Alabama (with Aaron Neville) and Good Friday night it’s the Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks Band. I can’t wait!

First run on the new Ninja ZX14

We’ve had a week of near perfect Autumn weather, but as fate would have it the forecast for today was 27C, strong winds and an early afternoon thunderstorm. I’ve been itching to get a feel for how this motorcycle performs in the twisty stuff.

Despite the forecast I took off around 9.00am and took the run we did with the girls on board a couple of weeks ago, only in reverse direction. My only stops were for photos at Otway Estate vineyard and Beech Forest and for a drink and a brief chat with Paul at the Gellibrand store. Although quite warm, the sky was looking very threatening by the time I hit the Otway Ranges. Wet, windy roads was not what I wanted with an unfamiliar bike and nearly 200hp on tap!

‘User friendly’ is an over used term, however, it genuinely sums up how I found the big Ninja ZX14 on its first run in the real world. It tracked beautifully through the corners and was never a handful even on the very slow speed corners along Turton’s Track. I love the turbine smooth engine and I really felt that all the horsepower that’s on tap is be delivered in a very controllable way.

All up this run was 250 kms of very satisfying riding, made all the better by getting home ahead of the rain!

National Heritage Listing of the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road (GOR) was yesterday given a National Heritage Listing. This incredible piece of road starts about 20 minute’s ride form where I live.

READ THIS from the Geelong Advertiser

It has been a mecca for Aussie motorcyclists over the years, though with it’s 80 kph (50mph) speed limit and heavy policing of motorcyclists (it’s not stretching things to say that it borders upon harrassement) these days that there’s not a whole lot of enjoyment to be had in riding the section between Torquay and Apollo Bay. For those in the USA, much of the GOR could be mistaken for The Big Sur in CA and Hwy 1 Shoreline Dve north of San Francisco.

It is well worth remembering that the Great Ocean Road is actually a war memorial.

I have many, many happy teenage memories that were set in the context of the GOR – many of them involve motorcycling. Some images only exist in my mind, but are triggered by words such as – Crawford’s Pacific Hotel, New Year’s Eve at Lorne, Suzuki 250 Hustler, CB750 Honda,  McRae’s Z900, “a man’s a fool”, Suzuki ‘Waterbottle’, Z1R Kawasaki, cosmic blue EH Holden and of course being one sleeping bag short!

Here’s my quick pictorial tribute to the GOR – including a couple of old shots scanned from prints.

That cosmic blue 1964 Holden & a bunch of 1970’s guys!


 Some of the GOR runs inland and it’s every bit as pretty as the shoreline section.

Pacific Hotel Lorne

Arab Cafe Lorne Vic

Kawasaki ZX14

The procrastination has come to an end and we bought a new Kawasaki Ninja ZX14. A few posts down I ruminated about whether to go with my head or my heart when choosing a new motorcycle. In the end I’d like to think it was a bit of both. I decided on the bigger Kawasaki. I got a great deal from Peter Stevens Motorcycles in Elizabeth St Melbourne. The whole deal was transacted over the ‘phone and today was the first time I actually saw ‘my’ motorcycle.

 Around 9.30 am on the showroom floor in Elizabeth St.

Through the city and a short run down the radar infested freeway and she was home.

 Whose got a big grin?

 Think I will have to hide the keys though!

It now has 92 kilometers on the clock!

Autumn to the max

Today the Tarsnakes and the O’s took a run in exceptional autumnal (that’s Fall for those of you in the US) conditions. We repeated the route that I took yesterday, but had a couple more stops, including the Forrest Brewing Co for a morning tea stop and Otway Estate for lunch. Despite stopping at two breweries we didn’t touch a drop – as is our ‘policy’ when motorcycling.

We were pulled over by a very nice fella from the Highway Patrol, who checked our licenses -AND – the Australian Standards compliance stickers on our helmets, which is a first in my lifetime of riding.

I will let the pics do the talking.

Pauline & Dorothy

Marty at our morning stop at Forrest

The Tarsnakes

Pauline gearing up at Beech Forest

Entertainment during lunch

Pauline and Marty at Otway Estate vineyard

It was sunny and around 25 C the whole day – just perfect!

Tire break in

I took a shortish run today for the purpose of breaking in my new front tire. It was quite cool and very overcast when I left but slowly and surely the weather improved over the course of the day.

My route was from Geelong to Forrest, then along Turton’s Track to Beech Forest, down to Gellibrand  and continue on to Colac to visit to Steve, then back home via the Highway 1.

Treaded tire seems to be the newest thing!

An expensive way to protect grape vines from birds

I came across the interesting plaque below

Steve’s been working on the resto of this Norton 500cc twin cylinder ‘Dominator’
The motor is fully reconditioned. It started easily and sat idling beautifully once Steve re-installed the carby.

Southern NSW coast & Snowys Summer Road Trip 2011

This year the crew for the road trip consisted of Marty, Bill, Phil & myself. The motorcycles were respectively, ZX14 Kawasaki, ZX9 Kawasaki,Suzuki V Strom with road tires and my ever reliable VFR800 (which ticked over 70,000kms on this trip).

Sunday evening 20 Feb saw Marty & I catching the ferry over Port Philip Bay to stay at Bill & Margy’s overnight to miss the peak traffic bottleneck over the Westgate Bridge in Melbourne on Monday morning. Monday morning we hooked up with Phil at Tooradin, then headed down the South Gippsland Hwy to Orbost, in light rain most of the way.

Many thanks to Marty for planning yet another great route and to Bill & Phil for being such great fun and reliable riding mates.

I will post some maps and more text when I have time. I’m flat out at work now so will just do some bits and pieces to the write up and label the pics when I can. Also I have some thoughts about a motorcycle dealership  that offered no help when it was needed and a small engineering works who stepped up and were brilliant. Any of the shots with me in them are Marty’s pics.
All the high resolution pics at THIS LINK.

From Orbost the weather picked up and was pretty much perfect thereafter. We ran up the Bonang Road with it’s 1080 bends in 90 kms (and ‘Roos & deer so we were told later) for 3 nights in the tiny, but motorcycle friendly, town of Bombala (NSW).


Bombala’s heritage guesthouse was our base for daily raids out through Southern NSW. We actually rented the near new house next door for 3 nights rather than taking room in the B&B. The owner, Les Atkins & his partner Priscilla were excellent hosts and made us feel very welcome.


I’d highly recommend this place for traveling motorcyclists.   Heritage Guest House

Mt Darragah Rd near the scene of a gravel strewn corner, hidden in the shadows!
Bill & Phil at Eden. the wharf area has lots of great cafes.

Boys at the Imlay Creek.
“They took our parks”- the ZX10 was ridden by a female, former A Grade racer.

Touring Oz in a 50 year old Kombi. Left drive as originally bought in CA, USA. (Then shipped to England for 2 year rebuild, then to Aust).

Bermagui NSW
Old man of the sea …… Jules taking a break

Commercial apple crops under nets at Batlow (NSW).
Side of the road photo op near Batlow
Elliot way, one of my most favorite roads!

Marty, Bill and Phil ready to hit Elliot Way. Not far from here we saw a large mob of wild brumbies to the side of the road. Much to my regret I didn’t stop and photograph them!!

We then headed through the Snowys for 2 nights, staying in Corryong (Vic), and again, a couple of day trips from there before heading home.

Corryong butcher.

There seemed to be roadworks just about every road we took. Guess they have to do it before snow season. Cooling our heals for “…just 5 minutes mate….!”

Alpine Road. Bill aboard the Kawasaki ZX14


Hard to believe that you’re looking at Mt Kosciusko- the hill on the left!

Adaminaby NSW, yep it’s the big trout!

Phil & Marty discussing the size of sunglasses!

Road to the Snowys from Corryong

Marty kicking back at our motel in Corryong.

New memorial to the Man from Snowy River

Near Hume Dam

Flame Warriors

I’m a member of a few motorcycle forums and discussion boards. All sort of folk post there, however, some ‘identities’ do seem to emerge.

If you’re a forum member have a look at the flame warrior link below and check out all of the types in the drop down box – well worth a laugh and you might just recognise someone!

An Interceptor, a Ninja & a Commando

Marty and I headed down hwy 1 from Geelong to Colac (Vic – approx 90 miles from Melbourne) and hooked up with Steve. From there the three of us took our familiar run to Apollo Bay via the inland forested part of the Great Ocean Road. Just out of Apollo Bay we turned inland and headed back towards Colac via the township of Forrest. Beech Forest and Forest were our main drink stops along the way.

Our route.

 Our first stop after Colac was at Beech Forest. This comes after a great run gaining altitude along some winding roads lined with eucalyptus trees. We pulled in at the ‘Ridge Cafe’ which has a deck that looks out over the Otways bush.

Motorcycles parked in the shade.

The guys taking in the view

 After a drink and chat it was off to Lavers Hill and then along the GOR for a stop and fuel at Apollo Bay. We had a great run along the GOR and it seems like the recent heavy rains have really cleaned the asphalt – the grip today was terrific.

Steve pulling up in the main street of the coastal town of Apollo Bay.

The Commando is approaching its 40th birthday!

Waiting in the shade while the guys fuel up. At $1.42 per litre ($5.38 per US gallon)  it’s a blatant rip off. I’m glad I have a large fuel tank.

After a brief walk around the Saturday market it was back on the motorcycles for a sensational run up through the bush to Forest, then to Steve’s place near Colac. After chewing the fat for a while there under a shady tree, Marty & I headed back down Hwy 1 to Geelong.

This run was a really satisfying mix of great roads, great weather and great friends to share the experience with. January has just about ended and at last we are getting some decent summer weather! Tomorrow’s forecast is for 41C (105F) so it was great to get out today in a very enjoyable 20C-25C (68F-77F).

International Island Classic Phillip Island

I took a run down to Phillip Island with one of the other old West Coast Procrastinators, Andy, for the ‘Island Classic’ historic race meeting.We met up with our mates Bill & Terry when we got there. The weather was perfect for competitors and spectators alike. The biggest concern at Phillip Island is always how windy it will be.Thankfully today was very calm and sunny with a temp around 24C.

The last time that I went to Classic Races at PI was the first time this event was run! Here’s the pin I bought back then.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day and was particularly impressed with some of the lap times. A handful of the very  best were only 10 seconds slower than Stoner’s 2010 MotoGP qualifying time. That’s pretty impressive for 30 year old machines.

1938 Vincent HRD
I think it’s a 1962 Azani Special

Andy made comment that the meeting was a bit light on for old British racing motorcycles, especially compared with all the post classic and forgotten era Japanese bikes. A fair comment – my analysis is that PI is maybe a bit too big a track for the really old bikes and that smaller tracks like Broadford probably suit them better.  I happen to love the 70’s & 80’s era Jap  bikes as they are the ones I saw, lusted after and rode during my youth.

A spectator’s lovely 1100 Katana. Mrs Tarsnakes has ridden one of these back in the early 1980’s, alas I never have.

Spectators with classic machines did a parade lap at lunch time.

What I really like about the Island Classic is that you can ride / drive vehicles anywhere around the track, rather than have to park in a designated parking compound. Also, the admission price ($35 for Sunday) includes full access to the pits. This means that it is very easy to take a close look at many of the classic motorcycles and the people who race them. I get a real buzz out of seeing guys roll up on their own historic or classic bikes. The ones I saw ridden in to the event  ranged for a 1928 AJS to a late 1970’s Laverda Jota. The Jota owner (a former Kawasaki dealership owner) was going to ride home 250+ miles that night after the racing finished- lot’s of faith in a well maintained motorcycle.

Seeing a mint CBX1000 and RC45 together and talking to their owner was a real treat for me as well. I’ve mentioned before on this blog how much I’d love to have a CBX!

Mint CBX1000. The owner of this also had the RC45!

A very rare RC45

The classic races are very friendly, open events and certainly don’t have that kind of that market driven, ‘glamor’ event feel of the MotoGP – which is a big positive in my book.

I took plenty of pics, for high resolution pics CLICK HERE

Holed crankcase

I can’t lean any further!

John Whitla’s lovely Jota. Mikuni carbs & Brembo brakes

I was a young teenager when these hit the market – glorious sounding twins.

The track by the ocean – Phillip Island

1928 AJS ridden in. The Gladstone bag ‘top box’ was a nice touch