Thursday, July 21, 2016

Alpinestars Transition DS Gloves review

I purchased the Alpinestars Transition gloves when I was riding in Spain a couple of months ago. I arrived in an unseasonal cool week and after one day of riding with summer mesh gloves I realised I needed better protection from the elements to continue.

IMG_1626

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Polaroid Cube Action Cam review

I have been testing an action cam on my last few motorcycle tours and it is about time I posted a review.

Polaroid is a name I associate with polarized sunglasses and instant cameras. In film days their cameras were very popular and remained so right up to the early digital days being able to produce a ‘print’ of the photo within a short amount of time using self developing film. My friends mother had one, it was ok daytime good light if the person using the camera knew how to compose correctly for the cameras lens and film format. At night it had a weak flash with those old bulb flash units and party photos were poor. I got a autographed Polaroid photo with a celebrity Iron Chef in Tokyo on one of my first trips to Japan (and chose that alias to write this blog as a bit of fun) and that Polaroid was a more modern version that worked quite well. Polaroid like Kodak were in a success bubble when digital came and now are just shells of their former selves but the name lives on with the Polaroid Cube

IMG_1598

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

5 small items to help you enjoy your ride

Most riders spend a fair bit of money on a good helmet and jacket and gloves. Some build on this with boots and riding pants and rain gear. However sometimes it is the little things that make a big difference. Here are five things that I cannot ride without now that I never thought of when first riding.

1. Buff or other brand of neck tube/scarf. These are great. In winter they seal the wind out from entering the top of your jacket and chilling your back often something that leads to getting colds. In summer with jackets open at the top to catch the breeze they stop the back of your neck from getting sunburnt as no amount of sunscreen seems to hold this off if on tour.

P1040125

I have a couple of Buffs, this is a summer thin one I found on sale one day. In serious winter conditions I reach for my thermal neck gator but rest of the time I find a Buff does the job.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Japan Summer Motorcycle Tour

I wasn’t planning any riding when out of the blue a week of sunny weather was being predicted prior to the arrival of Japans rainy season. I set off one day later with part of a ride worked out on a bike that was not running the best but a week of fine weather is as rare as hens teeth in Japan so the moment had to be seized.

I started by going west along the coast past Enoshima to Hakone. I actually live not that far from one of the more popular riding/day trip areas for people in Tokyo but the traffic density even this far out from the metropolis makes it a slow and laborious journey so I tend not to bother doing day rides since moving to Kanagawa. Today I stopped at Lake Ashi in the mistake thinking to see Mt Fuji. I had read this was a good view point on a travel page but obviously that was complete nonsense. Oh well it was a nice spot on glorious morning kicking off six days of touring so no problems.

P1030809

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Sicily Motorcycle Ride

I have had an interest in Sicily for since childhood thanks in part of to some of my family having grown up in with the Italian community in Innisfail North Queensland which had a strong connection to Etna region Sicily. An opportunity presented itself recently to make a small visit. First order of business was some lunch before leaving the airport. This is a great start Smile 

IMG_1044

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.

IMG_0854

As usual with my motorcycle reviews I am not going to be talking about the specifications or history and the other press release type stocking filler that is 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 things lacking on the commercial sites.

 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Andalucía Motorcycle Ride

Whilst I more or less decided not to do any more riding in Europe circumstances changed and I unexpectedly found myself flying to Spain for a couple of weeks. I dusted off my plans I once had for riding Andalucía. Spain had been one of the places on my bucket (ride) list so I was happy about the opportunity to ride there.  

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 with good attitude to tourists which was such a nice surprise. I have been to Europe a number of times and always found it interesting but often the people unwelcoming to the point of being obnoxious so I had decided that I wasn’t going to return ever again as so many other nice places on earth but I may have to make an exception for Spain.

P1030735

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. 

65a7b75b2455a07bc4bd5ba23437b4580a6bf9bc

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.

If I enjoyed camping it would be another matter. Overnighting in a camper van I actually like but a bike with a small tent lacks any comfort, space or facilities and is miserable in the wet. I bought a camper van in England and drove it around Europe for a few months about 25 years ago with nothing more than an out of date road atlas. No plan not a care in the world. Now however I find myself over planning every step of travel. Helped by technology and encouraged by the travel industry to pre book but ultimately aging brings self doubt and it is best to travel as much as possible sooner rather than later.

If I wrote a short story travel book like above I might call it ‘A**holes in airports and other tales of hot air’ - well something like that because I have a collection of lousy air travel stories like most anyone but for the most part I have been fortunate in my travels.

One excerpt from my book might be about when I was younger and fearless and saved up some money and looked for the cheapest way to London with my back pack. This was when when people in Australia still took out loans to pay for air fares to Europe which adjusted for inflation were very expensive in todays money. I got myself a ticket on a ‘milk run’ flight out of Singapore on Aeroflot airlines. That was 1989, Aeroflot was a soviet state run airline then and seemed to also transport military personnel on some routes. And so it was I found myself on a Soviet built llyushin jet with half a plane of higher rank soldiers who were in high spirits drinking vodka and playing cards while we actually took off. One guy in isle sitting on arm of chair as we blasted down the runway holding onto the seat back in front while he balanced his vodka in the other hand having scolded the cabin attendant when she asked him to buckle up.

Along the way we stopped and were unloaded and left to fend for ourselves at all sorts of dumps by Aeroflot including Kabul Afghanistan where it got edgy as the airport was being run by local soldiers (possibly Taliban but I don’t know at the time) who were going through passengers hand luggage and taking valuable items such as cameras. An experienced backpacker took me under his wing and near the check point told the guards I was ill going to vomit and needed toilet urgently and after some acting on my part we were directed to toilets which almost did made me vomit as floor was covered in urine and and the toilets were overflowing. But we waited for them to be busy and slipped out and around the back of the check point thus I kept my Canon SLR which had taken me a year to save up and buy. Arriving in Moscow in then USSR I had a one day city tour booked in conjunction with Aeroflot for the long layover. I ended up locked in a hotel as it was their May Day Parade and 100,000 people took to the streets supporting Mikhail Gorbachev and his plans for perestroika (restructuring). I got some dry bread, cucumber and water as only food available but had a bed so caught up on sleep lost. Eventually I was was transferred back to the airport and some how I took it all in my stride as part of a big adventure. That was a time I could have done anything including ride off around the world but I squandered much of that time focused on the wrong things unaware of how quickly that stage of life would pass by.

Oh well you can never make up for lost opportunities of youth but perhaps you can realise it is best to act right now on whatever you want to do and not leave it too late. 

This post first appeared on Motorcycle Paradise Blog May 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

Everything about motorcycle riding in Japan

Few people know how beautiful Japan is. The vision people have is neon illuminated cities and bullet trains which is one aspect but beyond that lies one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my travels around the world. Tourist figures are growing but most come to ski or visit the major tourist cities and never get to see what is at times for me truly jaw dropping scenery. Riding a motorcycle in Japan is a very special experience. A land with a rugged spectacular coastlines, a mountainous interior as high as European alps with deep valleys criss-crossed with superb roads. It is a joyful place to ride. It is also one of the safest places on earth. There is no petty crime, none, you can leave your wallet on a bench and it will remain there while people sit either side of it. The people are really friendly and go out of their way to help you even if you don’t speak the language. It is easy to access anything you need and as well as amazing scenery you have rich history and wonderful food to explore if you choose.

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, there are 1000’s of people writing those already. Nor is it for the intrepid adventurer riding around the world who will likely find my this article boring. This is written for the average rider like myself, curious about riding different places but not always sure about their ability to deal with every challenge. It’s a collection of simple ways for almost anyone to experience motorcycling in a Japan.

 

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.

P1030455