Sunday, November 28, 2010

Last Buell ride

Yes I am going to sell my Buell. Nothing wrong with it or that I am unhappy with, just time to try something different, a new project.

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I have always liked the 70’s super bikes but had no desire to own or ride one. It is the looks I like not the 70’s handling, braking or power. I would never own another carby fueled bike either. The CB1100F that I have been posting on Facebook and that I rode in Japan has won me over and will make a great basis for a replica of the style and era I like. So that’s my plan.

Despite the scattered showers I was determined to get out for a ride today, I had to have one more ride day with the Buell. So meeting my mate at Mudgeeraba we went west as direct as possible because it was wet on all the coastal hills and roads. We were both in a cruise sort of mode so riding the modestly curvy roads to the back of Nerang then over to Canungra and on to Beaudesert and Rathdowney for a short break was not unpleasant despite the non challenging roads in route.
I think it was fitting that I got to ride Mt Lindsey on my last ride day with the Buell. One of my favorite roads in South East QLD, this bike with it’s very quick turn in is so much fun there. It also has this unflappable stability so mid corner uneven road or bump is handled very well, that gives great confidence given the condition of most of out roads.

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We rode south to Urbenville and refueled and had lunch at the pub. Huge serving of food at the Urbenville pub, give it a go it has a certain old time charm about it. After a long lunch talking about my ride in Europe and Japan and next years planned New Zealand ride it was time to come home. I did a U turn half way over Mt Lindsey and went for another ride over and back on the Buell.

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It has been a great two years on this bike, it has not put a foot wrong and while looking forward to a new project I know I am going to miss this one as well.

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I saw a lot of bikes on those western dry roads, hope you managed to get a ride in also, regards IC.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

V2 visor sponge

I admit freely I am often slow to recognize a good thing. Be it I get too absorbed elsewhere or follow the herd or end up going round in circles before realizing I had it right to begin with. And that’s just motorcycles, the harder stuff of one’s personal life I seem to decipher 20 years later than everyone else!  

So it is no surprise that I am probably the last person to recognize what a brilliant product the V2 visor kit is. The kit consists of a v shape sponge made of a mircofibre type material, a water proof zip seal bag to keep it in, a blue super absorbent cloth and another larger zip seal bag to keep the previous three items in.

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You wet the sponge and keep in the smaller bag ready. When you need to clean your visor take out the sponge and it removes bugs and grime with just a couple of wipes and does not damage uridium tinted visors (well was fine with my Shark visor) pop the sponge back in and wipe visor with supplied soft absorbent cloth and you then put all away.

Small enough to keep in a jacket pocket or under seat the thing I like is it cleans so well and you can refresh your visor wherever you stop. Also you do not need to use the petrol station coarse paper or worse still if no paper the dreaded squeegee which is normally loaded with grit. On tour in Europe there was rarely any thing to clean a visor with at petrol stations so I found this item very handy. There was not the quantity of bugs we have but I was recalling my ride to Phillip Island and how this would have been great given the mass of bugs I copped in route.

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Update on the Tenacious Tape I used to repair my pants in Japan. Still holding strong, looks like it has completely bonded to pants and won’t be coming off ever. Above is what the container it comes in looks like, very small you could keep one in your touring kit.

Raining so no ride. Has been a very wet year here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Summer riding gear

After my ‘curling’ experience on the ice in Japan I return to tropics of north east Australia and it is hot and steamy. Packing away my winter gear that served me well overseas I take a moment to examine my summer riding equipment which I use here for most of the year. Is it up to the task should something unexpected happen again?

From the bottom up then. My riding shoes are not really the best solution. I have shorty Alpinestar shoes and Rivers brand leather hiking type boots that I like for summer. Ok I guess but could do better.

Pants. I am going to retire my Alpinestars Jeans. They have knox hard knee armor and inner lining to some areas but they are baggy stunt rider style pants so I feel the armor for knees may move in a tumble. The rest of the pants being jeans I no longer feel is enough. I also have my BMW City pants which have substantial hip and knee padded armor and are fully lined as well as constructed from a blend of material nylon reinforced. I am feeling confident with these still so while not as cool in summer I am going to make theses my only riding pants outside of winter.

I have two summer jackets, an older lightweight Dryrider mesh item and a newer Cortech hybrid mesh/textile/leather jacket. The Dryrider I had already decided to retire after last summer and this check reconfirmed that decision as it is not substantial enough. The Cortech is not nearly as cool in summer but it is fully armored and very sturdy made so I shall see how this goes and if too hot then have to look further.

My gloves are the mesh/synthetic leather summer light weight type that has become common of late. Almost identical to good spec moto-x gloves, which I also have used here for summer. These I feel are a weak point if I compare to my Held gloves that saved my hands in Japan. In comparison they are a bit light weight for the task being mostly a single layer and lacking armor whereas the Held are multi material and multi layer armored items. I am shopping for a new pair already.

Summer helmet is my Nolan and it is ok except the visor so I am ordering a replacement visor in light smoke tint as do not wish to replace either of my helmets just yet being the most expensive things. I will retire the Shark for now. The visor got scratched on one side as well as the front chin air vent was broken in the Japan slide so while it didn’t cop a big knock I will shelve it all the same. Wish there was some upgrade in safety I could achieve with helmets alas they all rely on that little bit of white foam liner to cushion and slow any impact, the technology involved has not advanced in decades.

If the rain stops I will try for a ride Sunday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Importance of good riding gear

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Examining my riding gear post the accident in Japan.

Despite sliding at slow pace on ice, the bike scraped the ice off the road in front of me for so I was sliding on the tarmac for a short distance after impacting with road after fall.

Starting from the bottom, my 3/4 length Joe Rocket boots show where they were dragging on the left side ankle height, this area of the boot is well made and protected ankle from injury.

The Alpinestars pants have soft impact absorbing hip and knee armor, that’s the points where I landed and the armor did a really great job as I was not sore afterwards.

Really glad I was not riding in my Draggin Kevlar jeans as would have been a hard wack in them. Also my shorty boots are rather thin about the ankles so I probably will not wear them ever again.

Upper body contact was elbow and shoulder both of which have armor in the Alpinestars jacket and I again was not sore afterwards.

My hands were wearing the Held gloves and these show where my left hand knuckles scraped however they have a metal plate that protected and again no injury at all to me.

My helmet made contact first on the side of the visor which held fast and then on the chin area. The Shark did a great job to not release the visor and to absorb the hit. Don’t think I shall look at any more open face or jet helmets.

I have come off dirt bikes a few times and even slow it hurts hitting the ground with any part of your body not protected by armor and especially so if you wack your head on the ground. I honestly can say I didn’t feel a lot from any point of contact including helmet and it was a slow but still fast enough to have been worse if I had not ben wearing all the gear. The Japanese riders who witnessed were surprised and pleased I was not hurt.

Think I am going to retire a few old favorites that I ride in here after this and make sure everything I use offers a similar level of protection.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Japan Ride 2010

Despite a major incident on tour I again enjoyed riding in Japan.

My original plan got washed out due to the unseasonal arrival of a typhoon off the coast of Japan at the same time I had booked the motorcycle rental. I waited till the last minute scanning the weather reports and reluctantly cancelled the booking. Fortunately the company has a clause that allows you to cancel without penalty due to unforeseen bad weather. I then was lucky to be able to secure the CB1100 for the following week, at first it was showing as unavailable for that period however a phone call revealed it was ok.

Shops open 10.00 in Tokyo and thus by the time I had the paperwork and everything done it was 11.00 and midday before I was out of town. First day destination was Isu, and to ride the Hakone Skyline and neighboring roads. The Hakone Skyline would have to be a near perfect road for motorcycle riding. With spectacular views from high up on the mountain ridge, the ocean far below on one side the a lake on the other it would be nice even with a few corners however it has numerous and they all seem to have been surveyed by a rider such is the perfect radiuses. The CB1100 was showing itself to be a very capable machine, comfy on the highways yet good handling in the mountains.

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Next day I rode around the base of Mt Fuji. Lovely ride amongst the autumn foliage with Mt Fuji popping into view in breaks of the trees to the side. You are already up quite high hugging the side of the mountain before it gets very steep and can look down below on the city of Gotenba which is where I stayed the night before. Amazing that these roads barely rate a mention in the Japan best rides yet I could spend the day just riding around Fuji.

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After this I again hopped on the highways, which are all toll roads in Japan, and headed north west to Suwa to ride what was my favorite road last time, the Venus Line. You see a portion of the Venus line every visit to Motorcycle Paradise, the header photo was taken there. I really enjoyed this road again, it is as good as it looks. Unfortunately descending down the other side I had a unexpected incident.

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Dropping down the western side I was in the shade and the temperature was cold. The road had some tight switchbacks, after rounding one switchback I saw a motorcycle rider down on the road ahead in the middle of some water run off across the road. I slowed with the intention to stop near the rider and entered the wet section of road to then realize the water was mostly frozen to ice. A few things flashed through my mind, ‘that’s why the other rider is on the ground’ ‘maybe I can make it’  and ‘it’s impossibly slippery’ before the bike slide out from under me.

After trying to get up and slipping back over on the sheet of ice I checked myself over and seemed ok and then crawled over to the bike and it seemed ok also, lucky I was nearly stopped. Broken indicator, some scratches to engine cover and mirror and instrumentation pod. After a short while some riders come over to help me and we managed to get the bike up and off the first sheet of ice (no mean feat) and then over another sheet to get to where it can be wheeled clear via the left hand gutter which was full of freezing water but free of ice. The other guy that was on the ground was part of this group and had been leading coming up the range and like me had not been able to see the ice hidden amongst the water in the shade until on top of it.

So after about an hour of cleaning myself and the bike up and checking everything over and helping others I thanked my fellow riders and headed off down the rest of the range. At the bottom I pulled into some shops to get a bite to eat and a coffee and when trying to set the steering lock found out the key would not releaseso thought maybe bars are bent but now think it was Hondas HISS security thinking someone had tried to steal bike. So over some very late lunch I had two thoughts troubling me, chance of more ice on the other alpine roads and the bike seems ok but obviously cannot lock it at night was a problem. I decided to change my plans and not attempt the other two high alpine passes I had mapped out and to return south to Isu which I got to after dark. Had been a long day. 

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The riding along the north west coast of Isu was wonderful next to the ocean with Mt Fuji on display across the water.The hills behind this are also very nice to ride, I wandered from road to road and didn't find anything not to like, wonderful low traffic curvy mountain roads. I could east spend a few more days riding and exploring around there and the rest of Isu, a really nice area of Japan that is so close to Tokyo.

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Finally though I had to return to the big smoke and rounded off the ride with the famous (in Japan) Isu Skyline and roads around Hakone and then the Toyo tyre turnpike before heading back to the bike shop to see what I was going to have to pay excess on the bike insurance. These roads along with Hakone skyline are all toll roads which for a rider cost between 250 to 400 yen at the toll booth (touch more than $2.50 to $4.00).

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The excess on the bike was less then $500 which was a relief and the shop was fine about it not agro or really worried. As for the CB itself I really liked it. Surprisingly good handling, very easy to ride, brakes were fine, engine is in a low state of tune so has a broad spread of power and it looks great. My criticisms are the fuel range with the small tank could be better, the seat is a little low for most people and despite looking nice Honda could have still done a bit more on the bike styling wise for the money being asked eg. quad exhausts more retro tank, spoke wheels.  I do still like it a lot and if I had one would make it look more like the original CB’s which could be done quite easy. I’ll think about it, if they bring the ABS model over that would more tempting.

I really enjoyed riding in Japan again. The roads are amazing quality and the mountain toll roads seem to be very low traffic and not be policed. I guess I tried to ride too high too late in the season yet the other riders at the ice said they had just come over many passes and there was no ice anywhere else. Not getting very cold here it’s something I have never experienced before. Riding in the traffic in Japan is a nightmare so you do need to factor in the added expense of using the highway system which is all toll roads. Much like last time my fuel bill was about equal to my road toll bill, however hotels there are cheap and include breakfast as well and you can eat very cheap there as well which evens things out. See my last posts on Japan for some more info. I stayed at the Super Hotel chain this time and rented the bike from Rental 819.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Quick Japan Update

Typhoon has gone, I have the CB1100 and am on the road near Mt Fuji. Lost near half a day getting the bike and getting out of Tokyo on a traffic jammed public holiday as the GPS took me on a wild goose chase all over town before putting me on the tollway west. However the weather forecast is sun sun sun so I just have to wear axing some of the Isu Skline today or somehow redo my routes tonight and axe Bandai Yama … time for a beer and a think.

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Didn’t know about the Typhoon washing out the ride last week? - get yourself over to the Motorcycle Paradise Facebook page!