Saturday, May 28, 2016

Yamaha FZ8 review

Got to spend four days riding a low km Yamaha FZ8 in Spain so I want to talk a little about this motorbike.


As usual with my motorcycle reviews I am not going to be talking about the specifications or history and the other press release type stuff that make up the bulk of the content you will find on commercial motorcycling web site reviews. What I am going to do is chat about how the bike actually rides and feels and other real world stuff.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Andalucía Motorcycle Ride

Whilst I thought I would most likely not being doing any more rides in Europe circumstances or situations change and I unexpectedly found myself flying to Spain for a couple of weeks so I dusted off my plans I once had for riding Andalucía. It had been one of the places I had on still on my bucket (ride) list.  

I arrived in Madrid and immediately was pleased to find the feel of the capital city more relaxed than I have come to associate with Europe. After a couple of days I took the high speed train to Malaga where I was going to base myself for the next week and found the place quite laid back and the people friendly and welcoming which was such a nice surprise. I have been to Europe a number of times and the people in some countries can be shall we say ‘difficult’ so I was liking Spain a lot already.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Reaching Peak Travel

I do not often write a post to recommend an item but recently I enjoyed reading this book. 


Motorcycle Messengers was a nice read of short stories or excerpts like a sample pack from the contributing authors. Very easy to access or read a few stories then put away while boarding a plane on my recent travels. The stories are quite varied, one made me chuckle out loud while one almost had me in tears. I will certainly look to obtain more work of at least one of the contributing authors.

It's available at Amazon amongst other options.

It would be fair to say I myself have travelled considerably. Less so by motorcycle until later in my life and while nothing is stopping me I feel it is too late now to start doing round the world adventure rides of the sort I enjoy to read about. Whilst I have the time and maybe a little money to do something I just don’t have the desire to take on the challenge. Perhaps if I still felt the need to prove something to myself or others I might then be able to delude myself about the ease of traveling by motorcycle enough to buy some fancy adventure bike and ship it off to somewhere.

Monday, May 23, 2016

See Japan on two wheels

Japan has some of the nicest motorcycle riding I have so far experienced in the world. A land with a rugged coastline and a very mountainous interior criss-crossed with roads, it is almost a dream for motorcycle riding with terrific roads and beautiful scenery around every corner. In this post I am going to write a few things aiming to help motorcycle riders thinking about Japan but not sure. It is not intended to be a general travel guide for Japan, nor is it for the intrepid adventure rider, it for someone like myself, curious about riding different places but not sure about my ability to deal with everything. It’s a collection of simple ways for an everyday person to experience motorcycling in a place I think is amazing.



Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Japan Inland Sea Tour

I just completed a motorcycle ride visiting some of the best view points around what is referred to as the Seto Inland sea of Japan. I then went island hopping across these waters to visit some of the islands in the middle where few people travel. If you have a little time then perhaps you might enjoy to see some photos from the tour.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Europe alps remastered

Six years since I did the ride in the Europe alps. I just revisited the post and saw how crappy the photos had been all limited to low resolution. Fortunately I still have all the photos from that ride archived and so just updated them to high resolution versions as well as adding quite a few more never posted originally. Added a little extra text too so now it actually looks how it should have - and only took me 6 years!. If this endless freezing rain continues here who knows what else I may get around to fixing on this blog Smile

Europe Alps Ride link


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Yamaha MT-09 review

I had the pleasure of being able to ride a near new 2015 Yamaha MT-09 around New Zealand for 9 days so it seems fitting I put a few words to paper metaphorically.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

New Zealand North Island Motorcycle Tour

It was so nice to revisit one of the best places to ride a motorcycle, New Zealand.

Last year I had been thinking I should try return to New Zealand and ride the lower north and upper south islands. I then forgot all about it while yet again thinking what to do about my plan to ride in Europe with the Versys 650 I have in Ireland. The Aussie dollar remains so weak and everything is already so expensive there that I decided rather than let it sit in a shed another couple of years best I sell it. Sometimes things are not meant to happen. Already cancelled two planned trips then when I eventually got there was not able to ride far on the third attempt so even I who is not the most perceptive picked up that this was a message.

So finally having moved on I remembered I wanted to go back to New Zealand and what good timing as the exchange rate is not going to be woeful there and I already had a trip to visit family in Australia coming up which placed me just a few hours away. So rather last minute I phoned New Zealand Motorcycle Rentals and asked what they had available for about 9 days late January. This was peak season but my window of time matched exactly when they had a new Yamaha MT-09 available which was my first choice from their list so perfect and I booked that on the spot.

I decided after some consideration to ride only the north island. I saw so little of it last ride and that way I need not rush things at all and would also ride north of Auckland along the Twin Coast Discovery route. Getting to the rental shop was easy, a taxi ride across the harbour about 20 minutes from the city centre. It took awhile to get the bike but I was on the road by 10am and only had a short route the first day. Traffic heading north to the beaches on a Saturday was grid lock once off the multi lane highway. Like travelling to the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia in the old days with cars banked up 10km. Fortunately on a bike you can get around all this one way or the other and having ridden in Philippines and Thailand I guess my methods of dealing with traffic have picked up some bad habits that even the NZ riders were not game to follow. Needless to say my wheels never stopped turning Smile.

The coastal road riding north is very scenic indeed. Fine day 29 degrees while it was 4 in Tokyo. Beautiful green rolling hills. New bike and relaxed schedule. My spirit indeed did start to soar. 


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sport touring tyre comparison

A brief and unscientific comparison of four popular sport touring tires.

I have tried four different sport touring type tyres on my Yamaha FJR1300. Metzeler Z8 which (somewhat oddly) came on the bike when new. Bridgestone BT023 which is the manufacturers actual recommendation. Pirelli Angel GT which was suggested by others and Michelin Pilot Road 4 GT. This is an account of my experiences not a controlled test just some real world feedback for people to consider since what I read on the net regarding these tyres is always just peoples initial feeling when fitting tyres, usually after that days ride, and some wildly optimistic estimate of mileage they expect to achieve. 

The Michelins have only recently been fitted to my FJR however I just rode a Yamaha MT-09 for 9 days fitted with the same and can talk from my experience on it. This is a lighter bike, listed as 191kg on the web however I went to Yamaha HQ last year and the model on the stand there was listed as 240kg fueled and ready to ride some 50 kg lighter than the FJR which is actually 290kg fueled and ready to ride. So anyway (for now) I am going to talk about the Michelins from the experience on that bike and will update this post further once I have done my next tour on the FJR.

I am not overly sensitive about tyres. I was initially when first on road motorcycles but after riding moto-x/off-road for a couple of years I got used to not having constant grip or instruments to give rpm and speed or taunt suspension. Returning to road bikes any road tyre had enormous grip compared to a knobby on dirt but I have come to experience better and worse road tyres over the years and can clearly define these four tyres but am not going to talk in fine detail just general notes about things like wet grip and lifespan and of course cornering.

Dry weather cornering.


Friday, January 08, 2016

Deux roues déplacent l'âme

I wonder why I am so drawn to travel by two wheels. I am pondering this as pack my motorcycle touring kit into my suitcase leaving about two shoeboxes of space for actual clothes and regular items.

Yes it is the freedom of the open road but also something more. Not easy to summarize or describe. I could rent a car for 1/4 of the cost of renting a motorcycle and do much more travel but I don’t. I could be warm and dry while exploring with no need for armored clothing, boots, gloves and helmet. I could sit in a train with a window seat and a cold beer and not need to navigate city traffic. I give these a bit of consideration from time to time then discard the notion of doing them. The motorcycle is a different experience to other means of travel. The panoramic view from a motorcycle is I feel rarely challenged except by luxury special trains but then you cannot stop the train as you please. I feel immersed in the environment on a motorcycle yet I also have infinite personal space unlike on public transport. The reasons the car comes up short are harder to summarize. Feeling closed in and not having that unlimited vision is part of it but there is something more that I cannot quite put into words.

Interlude. I have been blogging about riding in Japan the last 12 months but consider my photos to be average and not always capture how interesting this country is so here are a few photos from Yamaha Japan. With the exception of Hokkaido and Okinawa these are taken on the same roads I have been riding.


(above/below) Hokkaido