Monday, June 09, 2008

Japan Motorcycle tour reloaded #3

(This post is out of date, please go to the blogs main page and read the more recent information about Japan)

Raining here this holiday long weekend so no riding again.

I have been working on my ride plans for Japan and want to share some sites that may be of some assistance to anyone else thinking of doing a ride in Japan...

I can find two motorcycle forums in Japan run by and for the English speaking riders.

Tokyo Riders which I have no longer kept a link to is in the Yahoo forums and is difficult to navigate or search being on the antiquated yahoo message system.

Gaijin Riders is an excellent source of information.

I have deleted much of this post as it was inaccurate due to age. Please visit my newer posts for information about where to rent motorcycle, affordable hotels and food.


Rider Lodge in the mountains where I will stay. Also has the owners motorcycle rides blog with suggested routes listed on the hotel site. (in Japanese only so try using translation via Google or Excite)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Japan Motorcycle tour reloaded #2

Two and 1/2 weeks until I leave now so spent some time further researching this weekend.

Found another motorcycle rental shop, actually there are many however found one close to where I will be staying in the western suburbs of Tokyo that rents Buells and BMWs.
A BMW might make a good choice so have asked re price and insurance and if they rent helmets and luggage which the shop in Shinjuku with the VFR did, however doesn’t look like this place does.

Trouble with shop with the VFR in Shinjuku is its in the heart of Tokyo and is a crazy busy place. This other shop is a fair way out of Tokyo so should be more like the burbs and thus easier to ride to and from. (I hope) The other big plus of this new place is they offer you can pick up the bike the evening before your planned trip for a extra small fee. Now since shops in Japan open 10am this is actually a major point to consider since I was otherwise planning that I would not get far day 1 given I might not leave the shop until 10.30 or 11.00am so basically only have 1/2 a day left.

It is located very close to one of the major expressways which runs west. I have a idea of riding west for about 3 hours on the toll roads to get straight to the area where the mountain roads I want to ride begin and leave Mt Fuji for the return. The places I will ride are in fact the Japanese Alps and the roads are some of the highest in the country. I didn’t know Japan had European like alps. Lots of mountains yes but I had no idea some where as high as these.

Some pics of the roads and area I will ride.

The Venus Line, Tsumagoi Panorama Line & Shiga Kusatsu.

And yes that’s clouds below, I just hope I can get a couple of fine days to ride.

TourMaster 2 piece rain suit review

My rain suit I ordered from NewEnough in the USA has arrived. Shipping from NewEnough was only available via USPS express which added a little extra to the cost and may put me off shopping with them again since motorcycle apparel isnt something you would normally require urgently. Certainly have it as an option but not the only choice. My items ended up sitting at the post office for a week before I got there to collect them and I am sure many people would be in a similar situation with work commitments. (perhaps I should have used Ride Gear however they didn't appear to have this particular suit)

Now to the suit itself. I chose a two piece suit to replace my worn out 1 piece Dryrider item, with ease of fitting in mind since getting into or out of the Dryrider was always difficult. The jacket is well designed and seems up to the task, the pants however have a couple of flaws. Firstly they have shoulder straps that are permanently affixed to the waist and which are totally unnecessary since the waist is elasticised. I will have to cut these off. Then the ankle of the pants is also elasticised which is a problem since you want the pants to drip water away from your shoes sitting over them rather than making direct contact.

I use 'overshoes' - covers that strap on quickly over your shoes/boots and so the elasticised ankles will sit over the outside of these however if the pants ride up then there may be a problem. Its a stupid design no matter what way you look at it and so I am a bit disappointed. It should do the job ok I think and given I rarely have to ride in rain then its probably something I may not use more than a few times however could have been a little better thought out.

Update: OK well there are hidden zips in the pants to expand the ankle area, I didnt find this until caught in my first storm and trying to pull the pants down over my shoes I discovered the zippers - with these open the pants fall over the shoes and work ok.

The Jacket needs close attention paid when putting it on or you will get leaks quickly. I was in two storms in Japan and the jacket did a reasonable job however after a couple of hours in rain I could feel my shirt was damp at upper chest level and my pants were wet at belt level where the jacket folded over and water seeped in.

So ok I think for light rain or short use but not up to the task for touring.