Merry Christmas

Seasons greetings friends -another year over and a new one about to begin.

Mrs Tarsnakes and I are probably off for a Boxing Day ride tomorrow as the forecast is for a mainly sunny 25C.

Almost forgot – Bah Humbug!!

Two up again x 2

Team Tarsnakes and M&P took a quick run from Geelong to Otway Estate for a birthday brunch. The weather was far from perfect – we had a couple of brief showers on the way down, however, nothing too intrusive.

Marty & Pauline aboard the ZX9R

The girls at Otway Estate.

Gearing up to leave. Threatening skies, but the rain held off.

Team Tarsnakes Sunday ride

Mrs Tarsnakes and I had a leisurely breakfast with friends at Barwon Edge restaurant, then headed of for a Sunday ride on the VFR. This is only Mrs Tarsnakes second pillion ride in the last 20 years, so a pretty cruisy day was planned.

We pulled into Martians at Deans Marsh, and enjoying a coffee and the morning sun was a work colleague & her husband and friends. They were also out cruising on their BMWs & Vardardo. We sat down and enjoyed some banter and laughs – it was great to meet you guys!

Here’s Ms A on her GS.

Her husband Mr B with his 1150 GS.

We headed off to Gellibrand via Colac, had another pit stop at my favorite General Store, then headed home again.

Better have a shot of the Viffer.
Speaking of V4’s, on the way home we saw a guy on a new Aprilia RSV4 – the first one I’ve seen in the wild.

Fear & Loathing on the Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road
Every motorcyclist in Victoria pays $60 extra on their motorcycle registration just to fund “nanny state” advertising like the sign below! This extra tax on motorcyclist started as a “trial” – but clearly has now become permanent.

As someone who has used the GOR safely for 35 years I resent starting my recreational ride by being subject to flawed advertising, which is funded from a tax that is fundamentally inequitable.

Guy Allen’s interesting editorial on the Victorian “safety levy” here

I agree that wearing “all the gear all the time” (ATGATT) is a a pretty sensible approach for motorcyclists. However, one of the greatest threats for motorcyclists on the GOR is from tourists who are watching the scenery rather than the road, or who are not used to driving on the left side of the road. In both of these circumstances motorcyclists are put at risk as drivers cut corners and veer onto the wrong side of the road. The exuberance of youth and sheer stupidity of some motorcyclists themselves, have to be acknowledged as additional risk factors.

The sign below fails to address the root cause of problems on the GOR. I’ve seen no evidence at all that this sort of advertising has any affect on individual behavior. What I have seen in the past though is police use the safety theme as a justification for what boils down to virtually harassment of motorcyclists. I do not consider that singling out and pulling over motorcyclists only to do license checks repeatedly, sometimes within a few kilometers stretch of the GOR, a reasonable approach to road safety – though typically justified as a “safety blitz”.

Another TAC shocking advertisement

This advertisement from SA seems closer to the target to me, but again, is there any evidence that it leads to behavior change?

Anyway, I managed to have a pretty enjoyable run early in the morning from Geelong to Skene’s Creek before I traveled inland via the Otway Ranges.

Turned off to head inland here.

Near Tanybryn I saw two wedge tail eagles at close quarters which was quite spectacular – I’ve never seen them in the Otways before.

I got back home around lunch time, feeling invigorated from the run.

Spyder Experience

Back in May I booked a test ride on a Can Am Spyder. The Aussie importers are running an around Australia test ride promotion called the Spyder Experience.

Our ride was from the Melbourne city suburb of St Kilda. It was great fun. We had a safety briefing explaining the machine, some laps through the cones to show that we could handle the Spyder, then a 40 minute road test with a leader and a chase vehicle. The main thing that they stressed was not to lean or countersteer, turn the handlebars, stay relaxed and let the electronics package do its thing. I rode a manual with an aftermarket exhaust that enabled the 990 Rotax motor sound its best. Marty rode the semi-auto. There is no front brake lever on either model – front wheel braking is handled via the foot brake pedal.

Getting a feel for it. The ergos were great.

Ready to ride.

Here’s Marty checking out the new full dress touring model. Just over $AUD40K

This was a great experience and very professionally run. There was no hard sell at all.

I guess what I took away from it was that this is a fun machine that has genuine touring ability. However, riding a Spyder is NOT like riding a motorcycle. If I were to own a Spyder, I would still need to have a normal motorcycle as well.

Southern Classic weekend

On Saturday four of us headed off in perfect riding conditions to take in the Annual Southern Classic historic motorcycle racing event at the state motorcycle complex in Broadford Vic. In fitting with the event two Steve and Andy were riding early 1970’s Norton Commandos.

I can relate to and enjoy the post classic & forgotten era bikes best, rather than the genuine classics. As a former Kawasaki Z1R owner I was pleased to see this one mono-wheeling onto the main straight & then winning a close fought race.

The racing is the icing on the cake really, the aim of these weekend is to ride some unfamiliar roads, wine and dine and have a few laughs – the perfect antidote for our working lives.

Lancefield Guesthouse – we were made very welcome. We barely had the bikes parked on the back veranda and the owner handed each a cold Heineken!

You can probably pick that this was formerly a hospital.

We had an excellent meal & a couple of bottles of Heathcote region red wines at the Lancefield pub – all very reasonably priced. Guinness pie with salad was my choice – I highly recommend it.

Later that night there was much laughter and banter amongst the guys.

We had a really successful weekend that nicely combined great roads, an event to attend, good food and digs and great camaraderie. Good times – these are great guys and my very best mates.

Loch Ard Gorge Shipwreck Coast

In perfect Spring riding conditions I took a solo run through the Otway Ranges to the Loch Ard Gorge, named after a famous ship the Loch Ard that was wrecked here in 1878. Fifty -two drowned, with just two survivors who were washed up in the gorge. It is just a few kilometers past the 12 Apostles on what is known as the Shipwreck Coast.

The weather was magic, about 20C and not a puff of wind. I hope its as good as this for the Phillip Island MotoGP next weekend.

Unfortunately I had to buy fuel at the Laver’s Hill store – I don’t recommend it !

Honda VFR1200 V4

Honda’s much anticipated new V4 touring motorcycle has finally been released.

Could this be my next motorcycle? Certainly not the first model – but after that I’d be very interested. Shaft drive, two up touring ability and optional hard luggage would certainly meet my needs.

Here are some publicity shots from Honda’s European website at HONDA

Shaft drive

There is no official pricing available yet & can’t wait to see one in the flesh.

Honda have a dual clutch option available to offer a full or semi-automatic option, though I believe that’s not included on the base model. It has the ability to run on 2, 3 or 4 cylinders to save fuel, however, for a tourer the fuel tank is a bit small at 18.5 litres.

Going by the specs sheet it’s a bit of a porker though at around 260kg – I guess it will depend on how low that weight is distributed.

Update 28/10/09 Motorcycle USA track test of VFR1200

Bendigo Motorcycle Expo

Took a cruise up to Bendigo in central Vic for their first motorcycle expo. I caught up with my fellow VFR riding mate and we checked it out. Lots of vendors with stands and I bought a Kriega tool wrap that I’ve been after. Didn’t take any pics of any of the displays for some reason – just pics of older bikes which were incidental and not actually the main theme of the event.

I love the Piaggio Vespa.

Nice Suzuki Stinger

Norton ES2 – a 500cc single. I’ve ridden one of these that Steve used to own in years past.

The famous Square Four.