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.

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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(above/below) Hokkaido

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Japan four seasons


Japan is very proud of having four distinctive seasons. I however wish there was only three seasons because I find the harsh winter very difficult coming from the sub tropics in Australia where winter is only a month of mild 20 degree days before things heat back up.

My motorcycle was packed away come December and I probably won't be riding it until April. So begins the period where I went a little stir crazy last year. I have started to refresh the blog. Taking it into a more widescreen mode and trying to increase the photo thumbnails size however as I go back in time the thumbnails are smaller and stretching them ends up blurry. Windows live writer has died seemingly for good and the replacement open source version is not working yet so the rest of the blog refresh and repair work has been suspended.

Guess that means I have no excuse to not go oil the deck or other non motorcycle related tasks.

Well until normal transmissions resumes here is a nice video of what I would rather be doing courtesy of Yamaha. (p.s. best watch it on YouTube not in this small window)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How I made my Yamaha FJR1300 corner easier

Whilst many people in the USA seem ok with the way their Yamaha FJR300 corners, riding on tight narrow roads here and being used to lighter bikes I wanted to quicken the steering if possible. My motorcycle is 2014 FJR1300A and to me it always understeers needing additional bar input (counter steer) to hold a line and to initiate turn it needed much more leverage on the bars than I have experienced on other motorcycles – even similar large touring models or raked out cruisers. The fanatical self pro claimed experts on the owner forums tried to tell me this 296kg bike steers light as a feather, as light as a 125cc I believe one senior forum member claimed and simply pump the tyres up a little more and I will see. However no amount of extra air achieves anything (surprise surprise). Furthermore no braking was being done in corners and the tyres had even wear. The FJR besides being heavy is also long but not as much as some and I have ridden big cruisers that turn easier so something is not quite right. If this sounds familiar then read on as there is a (partial) solution - and it’s nothing being suggested on owners forums.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Japan Autumn Motorcycle Tour Part Two

Having reached not quite the bottom of Kyushu but certainly the point on my route from Tokyo south where I needed to turnaround I took some time to enjoy the sunset and reflect on what had been one of the best weeks riding I have had in a long time.

And being Japan there is always a vending machine nearby. Smile

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Japan Autumn Motorcycle Tour 2015

Japan is such a varied country. I have just completed one of the most scenic motorcycle tours I have ever ridden. If you have a moment take a look at some of the sights on my 14 day journey exploring autumn in rural Japan.

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