Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Photon Cruise control review


IMG_2242

Despite my previous poor results with a Vista cruise control for motorcycles (which was really throttle lock device same as this is) I have decided to try another design since I have a large Australian tour coming up soon.

The Photon Cruise 2 is a small device that clips on to your handlebar grip and to engage you simply use your finger to press it forward on to your brake lever. (See the next photo to visualise) You can get them on eBay for about $20 and fitting is just a few seconds.

IMG_2256

To disengage you are told to simple wind the throttle forward and the device will slip to allow the throttle to close.

I was wondering how a device could both hold the throttle open but then allow it to close by simply twisting it with wrist. And unfortunately in operation the device, on my bike,  does not hold the throttle open well at all, the grip slowly slides and the throttle slowly closes.

Bumps and vibrations perhaps play a part and on smooth road I did get it to hold a couple of times and then as with any throttle lock you are then either accelerating slowly or decelerating slowly but never maintaining a steady speed since when riding we make tiny adjustments to the throttle to maintain a steady speed against varying resistance of wind and gradient. Despite that a short relief from wrist cramp on a long tour is still of value but nothing like the mile crunching power that electronic cruise delivers.

(Update: I have managed to get the device to grip better by adding the rubber ring that is provided for metal grips but the speed of  course remains always falling or accelerating)

The Photon is easier to fit and engage than the Vista but so far does not actually work that well. It is not intrusive so I will leave it on and give a long term update after my tour.

Related to this (and as readers might know) I previously also tried the wrist rest Throttle Jockey and Crampbuster devices on tour but found them to be too intrusive. To be able to rest your wrist at highway speed throttle position the device needs to be installed angled up high towards the sky at low speed throttle positions. (or if fitted flat as in the marketing photos it ends up pointing down to the road once the throttle is open) It is very easy to accidently open the throttle more than you wanted at low speeds when fitted as needed so I gave up trying to use them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rear View Mirror

Looking back I have collected a few of the most popular reviews and may expand this a little if I come across other posts that I feel should be saved here.

Airhawk seat cushion review

Be seen Be safe

BMW City Pants

Grip Puppies

Nolan N43 helmet

So-Easy GPS case

Vista cruise control

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

One day ride suggestions

I have collected some of my one day ride reports as part of a tidy up of the blog. Plenty of ideas here for places to ride from Brisbane or Gold Coast. Note some of the rides date back a little now but likely not much will have changed in these areas.

Click the orange text below each photo for the ride report.

P1000885

A Buell in Texas

P6060484[2]

A nice winter ride

mtg1

Afternoon escape

Kalbar church

Big Western

valley view

Border Magic

P1020101

Darlington and Boonah

west4

Far West

Border

First ride of summer

P1020130

Go West!

IMGP0026[6]

Go your own way

P1020615

Gold Coast Hinterland

P3271442[3]

Grevillia gazing

IMGP0083[3]

Gympie muster

tyalgum[10]

Hide and Seek

P9240051[3]

In the groove

P5021715[4]

Just Gold Coast

Lindsey

Less work more riding

P1080422[3]

Lockyer Valley

DSCN1404

Mapelton

P2290423[12]

Mid week escape

P1000429

Minyon falls

Cafe Kalbar[8]

Mr Blue Sky

P1020448

Northern exposure

P1000554

Northern NSW

lake

Nunderi

P5060546b[4]

Queen Mary Falls via Toloom Forest

P1010314

Railway excursion

Spring

Reverse Kyogle loop

legume

Reverse Queen Mary falls

signs

Roads less travelled

P9040016[3]

Scattered showers

P1000996

Southern Escapade

IMGP0158[3]

Spring has sprung

gallery (1)

Tallebugera and the Tweed

P7040540[2]

The Cedar Route

P1010392

The Channon

P4080488[21]

The Nimbin Loop

PA090062[3]

The Now

dwyer3

The Scenic Rim

wheel

Tour de Springbrook

bakers2

Tweed Valley revisited

rim

Tweed Valley Super Loop

PA271576[3]

Tyalgum, Nimbin, Clunes

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Aprilla Caponord 1200 Review

 

IMG_2230

I had a chance to ride the new Aprilla Caponord today and came away very impressed. This is an interesting motorcycle in many ways. It has all the electronic rider aids that a top of the range BMW might feature plus more in a smaller and lighter and more sporty motorcycle.

This motorcycle has a lot of clever electronics. It has two channel ABS and 3 levels of traction control to suit different riding and surfaces. Ride by wire with three power modes, sport, touring and rain. It also has electronic cruise control and semi active dynamic damping which adjusts the suspension as you ride according to road and riding conditions. If you like to tour or even just longer rides exploring your area then you can enjoy some real benefits from the technology Aprilla have packed into the Caponord.

However many people do not like electronic ride aids on motorcycles and while not every rider needs say cruise control I wish more people were at least open minded to things that might assist riders on new motorcycles. The argument from anti ABS folk is they are such wonderfully gifted riders they can always brake their motorcycle better under any circumstances on any surface and will never face an emergency situation. And when asked about new riders they respond they should learn how to ride then they too won’t need it… While we have Australian motorcycle journalists sprouting this sort of delusional nonsense on forums it is little wonder people are confused about the technology.

IMG_2229

I had the suspension set to auto and it worked very well. I tested on various mixed surfaces and it really seemed to offer a comfortable ride on rougher roads and still a very responsive ride on smooth faster flowing road. The throttle modes are as described, snappy in sport, gentle in rain and touring mode is just a slightly more relaxed acceleration than sport mode. The brakes were powerful and easy to apply, once upon a time you could pick a bike with ABS by the feel of the lever, now days this stuff sits there totally unnoticeable until the day it saves you. I am a huge fan of electronic cruise control on motorcycles. I tried it on a BMW R1200RT and it made touring such a joy. You might only use it a couple of times during the day or not at all depending on what sort of roads you are on but the relief to your wrist and ease which it allows you to cover any highway portions of your route means you tour far less fatigued and thus much safer.

The engine from Aprilla is naturally a Vtwin. It has about 130hp which is ample but I  especially noticed the torque which is strong even from idle. I started from lights once in 2nd gear with no extra revs than normal and accelerated up effortlessly. Comparing to my current 1140cc low revving Honda four is unfair as that engine is turbine smooth so even at highway speed I really noticed the rhythm of the twin but it is not intrusive. It certainly sounds terrific, much better than any factory muffler I have experienced of late, I am not sure how they got it through ADR!  

You sit very upright on a comfortable seat, there is enough leg room and I think the seat is about right for taller people but it does not seem to be adjustable. It has a 24 lire fuel tank so the range will be considerable. The switch gear was not all to my liking the indicator was very loose and flimsy feeling and I had to look at the light on the dash to confirm I had engaged the indicator and again push to reset was imprecise. The dash is very comprehensive with a large LCD showing multiple information, and if that is not enough you can sync your smart phone and using an Aprilla App expand the data with enhanced trip computer and navigation features. The windshield is adjusted by hand once you undo the two turn knobs. It is simple to adjust even while riding and has a limited up and down range. I don’t think it needs to be electric for what is a small screen compared to a full fairing tourer but it might be a touch small for tall riders. The panniers hold a good size and operate with same key as ignition. There is a matching top box available.

IMG_2233

As I said at the start I came away very impressed. The Caponord feels quite light and sporty compared to a tourer with similar electronics and the dynamic damping delivers what I think would be all day comfort. Looks wise the paint and finish are good and style is similar to other motorcycles in this tour-adventure segment. Obvious not made for serious off road but I have no desire to revisit dirt bike riding  other than the odd unsealed road and you can ride them on anything. I think with heated grips and top box it would be a perfect motorcycle to take off and tour much of the world on.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Gold Coast’s Best Motorcycle Roads

Including Northern NSW

In my many years of riding in South East QLD I came to best like the area on either side of the border with NSW. I have grouped the rides here under the title of Gold Coast as everyone knows that area but more correct geographically would be to say the border ranges area.

The best riding is really just over the border. The area from there south to Byron bay and inland to Kyogle is full of enjoyable riding roads. Low traffic, interesting vistas that vary from the ocean to mountains, rainforests to Tuscan like rolling hills with row upon row of macadamia trees and even world heritage listed areas. There is some great cafes and pubs who are biker friendly and you will find yourself in a peaceful area away from the motorcycle roadblock checkpoints and police harassment in QLD.

Please note many of these posts are old and lack content. Some date back to the 90’s from my old home page site when I first started writing about alternative places to ride and were ported over here. I have neglected this part of the blog not thinking anyone was still interested but recently found this is not the case so I will refurbish these articles gradually.

For some context - many of the older photos here are from film and my old home page was accessed by dial up modem so it tended to have posts of one photo and one paragraph text and scan of a paper map with highlight pen. Then I went through a stage of giving ratings to roads as readers suggested this would be good. Some map links are broken since the info came from pre Google map sources that no longer exist. I have added a map of Australia with all good roads bottom of this page. If you click to open that on Google page then you can access the list of roads by name.

Brisbane’s motorcycle roads can be found here. For one day rides from Brisbane specifically then I collected some of my best one day rides here (Link)

Click the orange text below each icon for the article not the image.




P1161390[3]
Advancetown

Brutale
Beechmont

bill1
Billinudgel

P5021722[4]
Binna Burra

P1000996
Clunes

PA090071[3]
Burringbah

P4080482[4]
Currumbin

P6060497[2]
Goonengerry & Eltham

P3271439[3]
Lions Road

fruit
Numinbah Valley

P5270654b[3]
O'Reillys

P5021671[4]
Springbrook Mountain

P1010311
Stokers Siding

shute
Stoney Chute

Summerland
Summerland Way

P5270656b[3] (1)
Tamborine Mountain

P1020496
Terranora

P1010397
The Channon

drop
Tullebugera Valley

P1010009
Tumbulgum

view
Tweed Valley

wadeville
Uki

P5060539b[6]
Urbenville