Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How I made the Yamaha FJR1300 corner easier

Whilst many people seem happy with the way their Yamaha FJR300 corners I became unsatisfied with how heavy and slow the steering can be. My experience is my 2014 FJR1300 which behaved as follows; exhibit constant understeer, slow to change direction with considerable pressure (counter steer) needing to be applied to the bars to initiate turn in and then further input to the bars to have the bike maintain the line through a corner as it wanted to stand up and run wide. Now this is not due to braking as brakes were not being touched while cornering. The desire to understeer or unwillingness to change direction became more noticeable once tyres had started to wear and quite pronounced in the 2nd half of the tyre life however correct tyre pressure was being maintained and wear was normal. If all this sounds familiar then read on as there is a solution.

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


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Japan Autumn 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 come and take a look at some of the sights on my 14 day journey exploring autumn in rural Japan.


Thursday, October 08, 2015

A visit to Yamaha Japan

There currently is a late burst of near summer weather. So I went for a ride to visit Yamaha in Shizuoka. Mostly highway but I detoured a couple of times to try my luck at two highly rated Mt Fuji view locations to break it up.

I’m not a fan boy of any brand car or bike so the visit was just something to do not a pilgrimage due to owning a Yamaha at the moment. I visited Kawasaki in Kobe some years back when passing by and they had a rather small display but the Yamaha visitor centre or Communication Plaza as it is called is much better.

First up I had to escape the metropolis of greater Tokyo and leaving at 7am not riding inbound I still wound up grid lock in the outer areas but eventually got out to Ebina where I took a break to settle my nerves at a highway service area. Mt Fuji soon came up on my right and was clear however there was no snow at it’s peak at all despite already being October. By the time I got to Shizuoka and my first stop Miho Beach unfortunately haze had taken a strong hold on the horizon and the view was to be frank lousy so I tried a few HDR shots but gave up then rode on to my second destination the Nihondaira Parkway. Lots of bikes, the local racetrack it seems with one persons bike crashed on a curve. There is a cable car to the top of the mountain but I decided with the haze it was not worth it this time. This is photo on the way back down which is 5 exposures merged to try de-haze the scene.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Japan, Tohoku Tour.

I just completed a 6 day tour to the Tohoku region and despite some discomfort from my previous broken collar bone I had a wonderful time exploring the ever beautiful Japanese countryside.


My original idea was to take a ferry up to Hokkaido and ride back but I thought it might be trying to do too much with the way my arm had been on the failed Ireland ride so I decided to make that a ride for next year. Doing a loop up from Tokyo meant I was always able to just slab it back on the expressway if I felt not able to continue.

Besides motorcycle touring magazines there are a series of dedicated motorcycle touring atlases in Japan called Touring Mapple. These have a wealth of information about best routes, sights and places to eat and stay. I cannot read Kanji but you can make out a fair bit with the symbols and the best roads are highlighted so I picked up the version for the Tohoku region and started planning my route.


Day one Kanagawa to Fukushima

There are a couple of holiday weeks in Japan. Golden week is in Spring and Silver week is in Autumn. These seem to coincide with good weather periods but naturally are also the busiest times to travel so I decided to chance the week before Silver week and then a typhoon arrived and caused serious flooding just days prior but I was able to go anyway and aimed at riding about 300km north on the expressway past most of the flooding before trying some regional roads in Fukushima.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Replacement helmet liner

A small update here while I am not riding. I decided to look for a new helmet but despite being in Japan am not taken with any of the jet style helmets on the shelf here. The Arai and Shoei are comfortable but lack venting compared to my Nolan N43 Air.

The venting on the N43 Air is far and away superior to any other helmet I have ever worn, it has that huge evaporative area on the top which I have not seen on any other helmet. The guys at Webbikeworld also say it is hard to beat for cooling and they have tried more helmets than probably anyone.

I was looking for the Nolan N44 as a possible replacement but so far am unable to find it here except online but would like to test the fit before buying as that is really the most important thing with helmets.

So I thought I will try get a little longer out of my N43. I pulled the liner out and the rest of the helmet was still in good order. The visor has a couple of scratches but nothing major. The shell and inner foam, strap buckle and air vents all in good order. It has not been in constant use as a daily rider might use a helmet so despite being a few year old it does not have a few years of wear in my opinion.


The liner however was another matter. It was intact when I removed it and actually looked deceptively not too bad. But it fell apart in the washing machine, here it is on the left next to the replacement. The new liner cost about $75 which is crazy but then a new helmet is about $400 so it is all relevant.

With the new liner in the N43 feels (and smells) like a brand new helmet. The liner is not just a inner layer replacement but also a realign as the old one stretches in certain parts and the liner has soft foam padding in areas all of which had altered in the old liner.

Well I think it is good for another ride season or year at least but then I will be shopping for a new helmet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Motorcycling around Ireland

I set off recently to do a ride of Europe and managed to tour Ireland before having to put the rest on hold. I took my previous post about my plans down to reword but now I shall just write a little about riding the Emerald Isle. 

My plan was to first pick up the 2007 Kawasaki Versys 650 I have had sitting in Ireland in storage. I purchased this bike very reasonably priced and have it stored with, Motofeirme. This is a service that purchases and stores motorcycles for people wanting to ride Europe more affordably on a bike they own rather than high rental fees or shipping a bike there. In Ireland my plan was to ride the Wild Atlantic Way from Kinsale to Derry. Arriving at the bike storage place to see the Versys in real life first time I was pleased it seemed in good order. Tyres were as new and it had a Scott oiler fitted and full luggage. It even had a Garmin 220 Zumo and heated grips installed. I was able to leave my suitcase at the storage centre and once packed was ready to tour. I had lunch in Kinsale a lovely seaside town and then started on the Wild Atlantic Way.



Monday, August 10, 2015

Alpinestars Andes tourer pants test

I updated my previous 3 season Alpinestars Drystar pants to the new 3 season Andes Tourer drystar pants. So far however I have not found them quite as good.

The pants are a waterproof goretex style item in adventure styling. Alpinestars use a material they call Drystar but the material is basically same as goretex. The old pants had two belt height waterproof pockets and one leg cargo style pocket. The Andes has only two side/leg low mounted pockets which are in a comfortable position when riding but are not waterproof. There is two exhaust vents each side adjacent to the pockets. The effectiveness of these is very limited. If they had been flipped about face and put on the front side of the legs a little lower then they might have been really good to assist getting some air to the part of the legs which I find gets warmest, behind the knee lower leg section. The matching jacket has two such vents and they work reasonably well.  There is a zip out quilted liner and it works well when the temperature drops and still manages to cope with warmer days so you need not remove it until it gets quiet warm/hot. 


Friday, July 24, 2015

Proof of Concept

I am back riding.

I started the FJR first time in 3 months and took a small ride of about 20km to the end of the peninsular where I am living and found an island with a lovely park. I could make out Mt Fuji in the distance obscured somewhat by the sun behind but it would be an impressive view on a clear morning. As much as I want to explore more of Japan I have a dream ride that I have been planning on and off for a couple of years which I had to cancel when I was injured so this test ride suggests I may be able to relaunch that. Stay tuned as was once said.




Friday, June 12, 2015

Ride NZ

I get a lot of requests to promote things, mostly spam spam and spam. However every now and again I find something arrives in the mail box that is worth passing on.

The New Zealand Transport Agency in conjunction with Greater Wellington Regional Council contacted me about letting readers know of a new web site for motorcycle riders in the lower North and upper South islands of New Zealand. It’s called

Fortunate timing since I am thinking to maybe return to NZ early next year and this is the area I was going to focus on. It’s got some good info for my next visit and you get a safe riding message thrown in, bit like the good rides NSW site I posted on the Motorcycle Paradise Facebook page but nothing wrong with that.