Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lockyer Valley ride

Despite the forecast of showers I rose early and they were all sitting off shore so I decided to try a ride to the west.

One thing about Brisbane is you have good riding to the South, North and West. Too bad about that Pacific ocean to the East or we might have even more Open-mouthed smile

I elected to take my winter outfit which is also waterproof and of course this ensured that I had dry riding all day. Good thing it was rather cool, I never felt anything other than comfy in the winter gear all day which is rare here.

No real plan I headed out the Western freeway and rode via Peaks Crossing to Aratula where the Aratula café lady gave me a free fresh warm donut with my coffee. That really lifted my spirits Smile

I have sold my Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera and used the funds to purchase a Pentax DSLR, but no lens yet so today I broke out an old compact digital camera but could not produce any photos I liked.

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Honda Japan released these new chrome Instrument covers

They are rebuilding Cunninghams gap so the small amount of good corners could not be enjoyed today. Very cold on other side of the range even in winter gear. Not many bikes out except couple of Harleys who must have been freezing in their standard white t-shirt, small leather vest and open face helmet. This got me thinking.

It’s ok to want an image, hold a value strong and voice your opinion. However some people become so one dimensional they are unable to contemplate options. A man that only knows one thing will probably fight to the death for it – or at least argue hard, ignore options, common sense and mock those who disagree. Reminds me of a jaded motorcycle magazine journo and forum bully who attacks people that do not share his view. Good way to alienate people but not very effective at changing peoples opinion. That requires real communication skills not just “speaking your mind” which any idiot capable of opening their mouth can do.

Right then so putting away my soap box, and forgetting the guys turning blue in the cold, I turned off at Gladfield and rode the other half of Cedar Route north. This is a one lane farming road of no particular riding value but it beats the highway and anyway I wanted to see if this was close to where the Buell Muster for 2011 was going to be held. The Buell Muster is a annual gathering of Buell owners and while I no longer have my Buell I am in touch with some of the goings on of the owners group. Turns out this road took me to the turn off for Goomburra so I rode down and had a look. Hope they are wanting to get away from it all – ‘cause it sure as hell is.

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After this I rejoined the highway for a bit before turning right towards West Haldon on the road to Gatton. This area has been affected by the floods and so there is quite a bit of road works to repair sections damaged and indeed sections washed away. The quality of the surface for the first half of the road is mixed compared to previously but no so bad that you would not ride it.

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I had an early lunch in Gatton and then road East before turning off the highway towards Lowood, which despite the name seems to be built around some decent hills. Lots more signs of flood damage in the areas near the creeks and some easy rural riding here as you pass by miles of various vegetables being grown to feed Brisbane.

Lastly I rode home over Mt Glorious and Mt Nebo. I do not ride this much as I always am concerned about police activities up there. I just ride at the posted limit there so should not be worried however the police are well known for acting either outside or on the very edge of the law up there. Actions like motorcycle only road blocks where police stop every rider and conduct roadside licence and background checks on you while looking if they can defect your motorcycle is bullying. They also drive unmarked cars very slow in front of motorcycles trying to encourage riders into passing over unbroken centre line then sending the rider a infringement based on video camera mounted in car, that I believe is entrapment. 

Today I saw their unmarked Silver Misubishi Lancer at the end of Split Yard. Not sure if it is a Evo as I didn’t look too close but it was sporty looking and had flashing lights concealed behind grill and super dark window tint which I doubt would be legal. Seemed to have a rider pulled over but the motorcycle was behind the car which is opposite of normal and the police have a couple of unmarked sports bikes so could have been chatting to a undercover officer.

I know readers will write to say they have been riding there for years and never had problems. It is just luck of the draw folks, I hope you will continue to be lucky.

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Anyway quite a lot of new road on Northbrook where it appears the creek in the floods must have washed away the old road. Also a lot of new hotmix on the eastern side of Nebo Village, the section of which to the Gap I prefer to the rest of the road by far.

A nice easy flowing ride today, I was thinking that there had been no rain at all until I got home and checked the weather radar and noticed that everywhere behind me today was now showers. Got to be happy with that. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shark RSR2 Carbon helmet review

Updated 25.06.2011 - Further update Feb 2012.

Yes I ended up buying one of these from BikeBiz, half price seemed too good a deal.

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So now I seemingly have 3 helmets however none are without problems. I retired my old Shark RSR1 to back up duty after the fall in Japan. The Nolan N43 is a great summer helmet, it flows so much air, but it is not as good in winter due to fogging and is a little drafty Vs the RSR.

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And so to my new Shark RSR2 Carbon which unfortunately has problems as well. This helmet is mostly the same shell design as the RSR1 however the cheek pads are uncomfortable on a long ride and I think I will need to order smaller replacement pads. Reviewers had spoke of this but I thought it must have been a personal thing. Update, I ordered what was listed as thin pads but seems they are same as originals so was wasted effort. 

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Comparing to the RSR1 the Carbon is incredibly light, it is perhaps as light as a open face cheap plastic helmet yet is one of a select number of five star safety rated helmets currently on sale. Shark say the viewport has been increased from the RSR1 and yes you can see on the side the RSR2 has a slightly larger opening being more squared off on each side in front of the visor attachment. Vertical viewport appears unchanged and the visors are the same size so it is a modest improvement. Update, really no change here from before. I don’t mind the shark design but if you did not like the RSX-RSR previously then keep looking as viewport is same and compared to the N43 it is restrictive. 

Venting is the same as the RSR1 albeit with different mechanisms to open and close the vents. The RSR1 has a medium amount of air flow in summer, less cool than the Nolan but quieter, and there in lies the tradeoff as more air equals more noise. The Shark venting is superior to helmets I have previously owned like KBC and AGV which had vents with no corresponding opening in the foam liner for air to reach your hair.

The visor attachment system is unfortunately more complicated than the RSR1 and in my opinion rather weak in comparison to most helmets. I don’t change visors choosing to use a tinted visor all the time and not riding at night but if you are someone who does like to change visors then the Shark system is time consuming and fiddly and like Arai there seems no reason other than stubborn pride not to adopt a more modern system.

Underneath the helmet there are two side skirts on the lower edge and another at the chin. These reduce noise much like the Windjammer helmet skirting I reviewed some time ago and the side skirts will rub against your ears when putting on and taking off same as the Windjammer.

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On the road it is a bit quieter than my RSR1 which is not a noisy helmet to begin with and I think the extra comes from the side skirts. It is very stable like the RSR1 and of course so light you feel no strain or fatigue.

Overall it is a quality helmet with a couple of quirks that some will find frustrating. Brilliant carbon fibre chassis that weighs next to nothing yet fitted with an antiquated visor mount system. Flawless finish and yet an obvious miss match in the cheek padding material in the large size helmets.

Update: Apart from the cheek pads I am fairly happy with rest of the helmet so far. Really enjoy the light weight. I installed my old Shark RSR1 tinted visor to replace a crap iridium one I got from Hong Kong that peeled first day and here is a tip – if you have not had a Shark tinted visor before then their regular tinted visor is so dark that is difficult to see the road surface in winter shadows and their light tint one is not enough to filter glare and stop sunburn so you need an aftermarket item and these vary in quality dramatically. 

Further Update Feb 2012. After the first few uses the helmet has mostly sat on the shelf due to the design of the internal cheek pads. I had stuffed it full with a towel inside and left it a couple of months to try mold the pads but they remain less than ideal. I have broken 2 or 3 of the plastic ring clips for the visor when changing from a light tint to a darker tint. This has to be the worst visor retention system I have ever encountered, very fragile and difficult to use, I spent 30 minutes trying to change the visor last night and today it whistled all day somehow not sitting flush on one side, back to the shelf it goes.

Final update, sold it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Crampbuster Vs Throttle Rocker

Updated 23.05.2011 (and 2014)

I own both of these and having tried both to ease cramp on long rides I want to share my experience.

Both are small devices that affix to the throttle grip to sort of allow you to hold the throttle open by your palm/wrist so you can release your grip around the throttle and stretch your fingers for a bit. Both when installed need to be angled slightly higher than horizontal due to the amount of rotation needed for highway speeds. (this has been the case on 3 motorcycles I have owned and would likely apply to most)

A couple of years ago I purchased a Throttle Rocker seeking to ease hand cramp that creeps in on a long rides and when finishing the day on highways or other boring roads.

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The Throttle Rocker is a good size and curves down on the inside left corner of the lever to interfere far less with the throttle when you back off or are not cruising and coming to a stop. It affixes to your throttle grip with a Velcro loop which unfortunately just doesn't manage to hold it in place for very long. So while it works well enough while fixed in place, no matter what I did it rotated down and loose and became useless within 20 minutes.

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I purchased the Crampbuster last month for my Easter tour and it is affixed not by Velcro but rather in the way it is designed. It is spring steel that you spread and push onto your grip and once fitted it can rotate up but never down on the throttle grip. That’s the good news. Unfortunately I found that when I was not cruising the Crampbuster often made me accidentally open the throttle more than I wanted to which once was quite dangerous.
It is wider than it appears in the above photo where someone has placed it half on the bar end. There is a thin version however this is far too long and would be more awkward in the off throttle position. People say simply rotate the Crampbuster up and out if the way when needed and then return it into place however this is not super easy on the roads and the tendency is to not do this if just slowing for a small time.

If someone sold one with the same shape and size of the Throttle Rocker but with the clamping system of the Crampbuster then these just might work. Apparently the original Throttle Rockers were exactly this but changed due to infringement on Crampbusters design.

Conclusion:

So how effective are they? The main problem is if sitting level like in the above photo when mounted they will be pointing down when you are on highway with throttle open so you cannot rest your wrist on them as you might imagine. They must be mounted pointing up more to be in the correct position when the throttle is opened on highway and there in lies the problem that pointing up they make using the throttle at low speed and from close sometimes awkward. It is easy to have them interfere with your throttle application.

Theses sort of devices do offer you some means to relax your grip on throttle but are awkward. Still if you are in some pain touring then perhaps try one, the narrow crampbuster may for some peopple not interfere with their riding. They are still a better bet than throttle locks in my opinion as throttle locks all have the bike either gradually slowing or accelerating and the effort needed to engage and disengage then for a couple seconds exceeds the relief they provide. I have tried a couple and consider them next to useless.

Having tried many times over years of touring I have come to the conclusion that neither the wrist rests or the throttle locks offer me any assistance and I have given up on them. As of 2014 I have a FJR 1300 with electronic cruise control and there is no substitute.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Gold Coast ride

Near perfect riding weather yesterday and today, last day off so I went for a small ride.

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I didn’t feel like doing many miles, just wanted to get out so headed off to a couple of my old favorites. Starting from Mudgeeraba I rode up Springbrook mountain and took in some views.

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I have not been there for some time as I always ride south over Currumbin which is mostly car free early on and was not used to the traffic however I soon remembered you have to make you own place to pass cars and do so swiftly or end up at snails pace though some wonderful curves.

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Next I rode over Hinze raceway and up to Binna Burra. Both are excellent riding, I always come back from NSW day ride over Hinze raceway but again I had not been on Beechmont mountain or further to Binna Burra for quite some time. The section past Lower Beechmont shop used to be rough but is now a quality bit of road, very nice.

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Binna Burra café was closed. I arrived and parked next to this guy on a Harley Davidson Road King and we are the only people there but this guy, very obviously, turns his back to me as soon as I take off my helmet. That’s the stuff that makes people have an attitude towards Harley riders … mate it is a nice bike but that is no excuse to be such a tosser. 

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I rode back and had lunch at the Laurel Cottage Garden Café, Lower Beechmont. I had noted previously this place often has a few motorcycles parked outside and today was the same. I love a good home style burger and todays was excellent, not the cheapest but very good. Coffee was a bit of a mild roast for me but good all the same and sitting in the shade of the trees on the nice Autumn day was very restful.

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I usually would consider riding to Canungra and over Tamborine but the latter would be heavy with cars and between the two mountains I had enjoyed some excellent riding so decided to just ride back down Beechmont and home via Nerang. Was behind a convoy of motorcycles following slow cars for a bit mentally scratching my head what was stopping them from passing before I got bored and moved on.

This will be my last outing with this Micro four Thirds camera which I put on eBay, next stop will be a DSLR.