Short trip – Canberra

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I think this is near Silverdale, south of Penrith. You wouldn’t think you were just a few minutes out of the suburbs (and this is looking east, towards the city).

Work needed me to head to Canberra for a couple of days. Even though they were happy to let me use a work car – why on earth would I want to do that? Two nights, leaving mid afternoon the first day, a full day in Canberra and then finish after lunch and head home. Sounds like bike time to me. Sure, it’s winter, it’ll be cold in Canberra, but I get to cruise down in work time whichever way I choose. And I shouldn’t need to travel at night.

I did plan to leave around midday or a little after, but an unexpected turn in the weather predicted snow* and such later, so I headed off around 10am. I headed south from my work near Penrith directly towards the Hume. This took me down some more winding roads, eventually to pass through Thirlmere and onto the Hume.

*The snow was predicted for the Blue Mountains, which I wasn’t travelling over, but I knew that meant there was likely a band of bad weather stretching across my route. I wanted to get ahead of it. In the end, it moved more slowly than predicted and the snow fell during the night, when I was already in Canberra.

I did plan to then cut off and head through Sutton Forrest and the Highland Way, but it was starting to darken and cool down. I thought better to make up time.

Along the road from Marulan to Queenbeyan

I did still leave the Hume at Marulan like I normally do. By part way along this road, I was really enjoying the bike. Plenty of go, and not as harsh a ride as the Daytona was. As I passed through Tarago I stopped and swapped my summer gloves for my warmer winter gloves. Immediately I felt more comfortable – I hadn’t realised that I had been feeling the cold that much.

Just as I arrived into Canberra it was getting dark due to the clouds (it was only about 4pm), and a little damp. That was okay, as it was into the hotel, take a rest then over to a friends for dinner. They filled my belly and gave me leftovers for breakfast!

The next day, though cold, was pretty routine. The following day after the meeting there was a group lunch and then it was time for me to head home.

As per my old routine I headed back through Queanbeyan, Tarago and on to Marulan. I now felt quite competent on this bike (I haven’t had a lot of spirited rides in the months that I’ve owned it) and there was several moments that I slowed significantly for a corner, only to glance down and realise that, after slowing, I was only now doing the posted limit…..

The trip home was uneventful. Enjoyable, but uneventful.

Stopped at Pheasants Nest for a break on the return.
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There was a plan…

So the day started out with a plan. Vote early and then go to Avengers (as it was starting to get hard to avoid spoilers – even Miss 9 tried to spoil it and she doesn’t even know the story!)

But of course that isn’t entirely how it went. Voting was over with almost no wait and I decided to catch the midday movie as that showing had the giant screen. So I had about 3 hours to kill.

Aimlessly riding about, changing my mind every other minute, I ended up sitting at the desk of the Kawasaki salesman asking him how much trade in on the Ninja to get a new Ninja. So they took a look at it.

And overall they thought it was in good shape with one concern. A sort of rattle at high rpm that I hadn’t really identified as a concern. They listed a couple of things it might be (from tensioners to something deep in the engine) but we’re happy to spend a half hour to check it out in case it was something simple. Though they couldn’t do it straight away they could certainly do it today.

So two problems. I couldn’t hang around all day, I did have a movie to get to. And they had already handed out the loaner bikes.

I must have made a good impression on the salesman. He poked about in the second hand bikes and selected one to loan me.

A VFR800. A 2008ish VFR mostly stock with Staintune pipes.

I was worried that I would get quite attached to this. I felt I had somehow won the loan bike lottery. I had so many good memories from my one and this would be the first sixth generation I had ridden since hitting the roo.

So I started up and headed out.

The first thing I noticed was the aggressive seating position. I’ve just spent six months on the Ninja which is quite upright.

The next thing I noticed was the loud noise from the pipes. I had kept mine stock the entire time so it was different to hear this bike.

The most interesting thing I noticed was that it seemed really sluggish. I would open the throttle and not much would happen and it would rev up to the VTEC and get louder but didn’t really seem to get going.

This was the single factor that had me sitting there thinking “Wow, I’ve moved past this bike.” The Daytona and the Ninja have similar power (about 100kW) to the VFR’s 80. The Daytona was significantly lighter but the Ninja is a similar weight and from memory the torque is similar for all. The Daytona feels like it gets away a lot quicker than the Ninja, but both feel like they leave the VFR far behind.

I felt kinda disappointed. I sort of wanted to feel that passion I had for the VFR again. I was also thinking now I’m stuck with 1000cc up from now on. Would I want to go backwards?

On the positive it was a case of thinking that I really did make a good choice with the Ninja. And I was already thinking that any way. The most recent jaunt to Newcastle was good fun on the way home and the ride up Wisemans since was great.

Eventually it was time to return the VFR. And it was without any lingering doubt that I returned the keys and asked after the Ninja.

I will have to call back as I am unclear what they did, but the rattle is gone and they have no qualms about taking the bike as trade. I think a sticky tensioner, probably a symptom of having sat for so long before I got it. I will wait until they call back with an offer though I really am not sure I am able to any offer up.

I rode home – instantly happy on the Ninja. I realise part of that is familiarity but I twisted the throttle and left the afternoon traffic behind thinking how much fun this was.

Oh and Avengers was good. Worth seeing, funny in parts. Not the greatest movie ever, but a finish to the whole saga.

Double Demerits…. so what!

It is so rare that I can get a chance to get out for a ride that even when it’s NSW double demerits I’ll take the opportunity. With the weather a fine 25C it was apparently too cold for the planned trip (with our overseas family visiting) to Wet’n’Wild, so I disappeared out the door.

I was in several minds where to head. It was Good Friday, almost nothing is open, but when you’re only stopping for fuel and maybe a pie or something you don’t need much. I decided Putty was probably busy with holiday traffic and same for OldPac and all the roads south. The only one I thought might be light would be Wiseman’s and even then it would drop off once I crossed the river.

As I sat in standstill traffic on Richmond Rd headed north that stretched as far as I could see around the corner I was pretty sure I would be turning around and heading home shortly. And this was 10am, so most of the early traffic would have been long gone.

Around the bend, a RBT (Random Breath Testing) was set up and this was causing the traffic problems. That would end up being by far the worst traffic for the whole day.

I cruised up the road to Wiseman’s, keeping closely to the speed limit and enjoying getting to know this Ninja better. I am quite certain that practicing techniques while I had the Daytona, while not making me a super fast rider, has speed up and smoothed up my riding. I felt confident and calm throughout the ride today and am quite happy with the Ninja and its performance. Lots of go, that’s for sure (but only the same power as the Daytona, more torque and lots more kilos!) and while not as light and flickable, it’s solid and competent.

I got onto the ferry at the head of the queue and raced off as soon as it docked. And basically didn’t see a car again until I was in Mangrove. I suspect the traffic behind probably got caught upon holiday traffic, but I am sure that my improved confidence riding helped me stay ahead.

A quick ice cream at Mangrove Mountain, and it was time to decide where to head. I had loosely planned to head to Wollombi and see if there was a crowd there, but with it 45mins away and probably another 2-3 to get home from there around the Putty or back down Wiseman’s that would get me home about 4-5pm, probably a bit late. Alternatively, Pie in the Sky was about 35mins away, and home is an hour from there. That would see me home around 2-3pm.

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At Mangrove Mountain. Very quiet.

I also figured that the traffic would be north bound up the Old Pac and the Freeway. While there would be some headed south, not on the same scale.

I was swiftly at Pie in the Sky. There were a few others about but by comparison the traffic north was almost unimaginable. On the Freeway, it was three lanes and whilst moving at speed it was almost bumper to bumper. And the Old Pac wasn’t much better, all headed north. Headed south was about 3 bikes and me.

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There were a few others about, braving the double demerits.

And it was the same all the way home. Anything headed north was choked and south was empty. I am not sure I even saw any cops that weren’t involved in RBT the whole day.

A good ride out and I am really much happier on this bike. Including a trip to Canberra and to Newcastle, this is only the fourth time since getting this bike that it wasn’t just a commute. So I was still feeling very newbish on it. Most of that is gone now.

Ninja – Two months in

So I’ve now had the Ninja for about 2 months. The short answer is I’m happy that this bike will suit me better than the Daytona, and I miss the Daytona… and the VFR, lol. I form close attachments to these things, so it’s hard to see them go.

Cloudy start to the day

Apart from the trip to Canberra, the Ninja has been on a solid program of commuting. Being summer it’s been mostly hot. There has been a bit of rain (not very heavy yet) as well, but the commute which is almost completely open freeway (without much traffic) has been very benign.

Having a topbox again has been fantastic. I can carry so much more than I ever could on the Daytona, so even simple things like bringing in my share of a morning tea has been easy. Throwing in the weeks worth of uniform or bringing my gym gear home for a wash is a breeze.

The following week saw a lot of drizzle but enough to get wet. The original 2011 BT016 actually went fine, but I’m still keen to wear them out and put something fresher on

I have tested the limits, almost, of the range and am now happy that in most cases with my riding 300km is achievable, as long as I know I can get petrol. 300km will have the reserve light on, but only just. 250km without any worry. That’s not as far as I was hoping, as I was looking for more like 300km without any worry and 350km before reserve but its better than the 200-220km (in a push) I could reach with the Daytona. It is a bigger capacity than the VFR with a smaller tank, so I shouldn’t directly compare them. Perhaps as the kms on the bike build up it may extend. I recall the VFR added another 30-50km when it ticked over 12,000km.

I picked up the bike with almost 2600km on it. I’ve put about 1400km on it so far. I do about 350km per week just commuting (so have to fill once a week).

So after a week of rain, I managed to catch a weather break to give it a clean for next week’s commute.

So in the dry and wet, the bike has been fine. I don’t think its even quite as sporty as the VFR was, and certainly nothing like the Daytona. But I don’t ask much of my bikes so I’ve not reached the Ninja’s limits either.

The next longer ride will likely be the start of April when I head to Newcastle on a work trip. That will be a slog up the freeway for the very early Monday departure (I’ll be interested to see how the headlights perform then) and hopefully something a little more interesting on the mid afternoon Friday return. We’ll see.

Ninja – The first tour

Earlier this week I went back to work after the summer holidays. However work needed me in Canberra for the first two days back, so that seemed like a fantastic opportunity to try the Ninja out over distance. After receiving a surprising lack of resistance to the idea from Mrs Mab (Who banned me from the Syd-Canberra bike commute after the roo crash) I carefully watched the weather.

As the days grew closer the weather cleared and in fact started to head the other way – too hot. By the time I was leaving Sydney on Sunday afternoon in the mid 30s, Tuesday afternoon was looking more like 40.

Well at least it wasn’t raining? No actually I was worried I’d be forced into my touring gear due rain, and also have to ride in 30+ which it doesn’t do so well in. I almost decided on my 2-piece, but ended up in my summer leather jacket and Draggin’s – the bare minimum riding gear that I will ride in.

South of Bungonia

Anyway, so after some family stuff over the weekend, I headed off at about 3pm on Sunday afternoon. It was warm, but otherwise fine. I planned to ride down the Hume until at least Sutton Forrest, or Marulan and then head the back way. This gave a long time on the slab, as well as some back roads that I knew well (much better than the Putty) and I knew pretty much what condition that they were in after riding them in October for the MotoGP. The top box was full (if I didn’t have to take work clothes, it would have been almost empty) and I tossed in the Kriega US30 just in case.

The first hour or so went well. The bike has plenty of power when I want, and with the bigger capacity and gearing, I find I get quickly into 6th gear and just leave it there. Even at quite low speed, the bike still seems to be okay in a higher gear than I am used to.

After about an hour I started to get stomach cramps. I was very worried about possible food poisoning or something from the rather fancy breakfast we had, so I found myself squirming around uncomfortable, but unable to stop until the next petrol station. This also put me off the turn at Sutton Forrest, as it has even longer spaces between toilets.

After stopping again at Marulan, for fuel and comfort, I hadn’t been able to do anything about the pain, but it had seemed to lessen somewhat. I turned off and headed to Canberra via the back roads.

Again the bike went well. Though the main quirk I have noticed is the fuel gauge. Firstly, it has about 6 “bars” that fade as it is used. It seems that the first bar is half the tank as it is about 130-150km before I am into the second bar. Then the next 4 seem to disappear over the next 100km. Also, it is a bit variable when the bike is climbing or descending, more so than any other I’ve used. Something to keep in mind when riding.

As I was descending into Queanbeyan the pain returned. By this time I was about 20 minutes to my accommodation so decided to see if I could make it there. There was a bed, a bathroom and air conditioning.

It was painful to stand as I checked in, but after about 30 mins lying on my bed it went away. It never came back and I am quite confused as to what it might have been. It was painful enough that I was worried I might fall while riding or considered stopping several times over the last 15 minutes or so. But 30mins later stopping, it was fading and then gone. Wasn’t food poisoning – that’s a positive!

I made it…

The next two days I commuted from the hotel into work on the bike and wow I missed having a topbox. Get to work, pull out your bag or lunch or whatever, drop in your helmet. Of course, I also had to bring my work clothes to change into.

Tuesday was hot, and it was about 38-40C as I was getting ready to go. I got lazy and just jammed some stuff into the Kriega instead of spending the time to fit it all into the topbox. It was hot and I wasn’t in the shade. I figured I could repack if required down the road in a shady spot. I didn’t in the end, so the idea of tossing the US30 into the box was a good one. It also fit very nicely on the pillion seat, using the Givi rack as tie downs points.

Coming home it was hot. At this stop it’s about 38C

The ride back was fairly uneventful. I saw a rabbit and a wedgetail (I’m sure the wedgetail would have liked to have seen the rabbit!) I drank about 1.5L of water on the ride. It was really warm, and fantastic to get home to the airconditioning!

Successful trip – you can see the Kriega strapped in front of the topbox here.

Overall the bike went well without any problems. I am a little disappointed as I think the range might be more like 250-300, maybe 350. Not the clear 300 I was hoping for. Other than that I can’t fault it, and it will suit me well in my riding. Again, I would love to look at the new model in a year or two… maybe a second hand one (HA HA HA HA!!!)

I now have over 1200km on the bike since I picked it up. That’s almost 50% more than it had when I got it and I’ve only ridden it about 5 times.

Ninja – Frustrations…

I’m not getting a second hand bike again. Or at least if I do, it’s going to be completely stock. That’s where I was at on Sunday. And maybe still am…

The Givi gear arrived, 24 hours after ordering it. That’s amazing as it was the day after New Years when I ordered it. Got some time on Friday to install it, so out with the parts list (actually making sure I had everything) and then the instructions.

First step was to take the tail tidy off, as there is a bracket that Givi fits between this and the undertail. They provide longer bolts to compensate.

Well, it fits if, I assume, you have a OEM tail. I don’t and the steel aftermarket tail clashed with the Givi bracket.

I made a couple of calls and it sounded like it might be another $500-600 to get a OEM tail, or something similar. And it was after 5pm on Friday, so little point in trying anything else. I left the bike in pieces in the garage.

With the bike in pieces I was unhappy

I swore I’d made the wrong decision. I swore off second hand bikes, I wondered if the other person would want to swap back… I wondered if the shop would take my specially ordered Givi gear back, it was almost unopened.

The Givi bracket I was trying to fit. The OEM tail slides in underneath and then this fits into the under tail. But the width here is the same as the aftermarket tail tidy installed.

I know, I’ll fit the bobbins I bought as well, so I can sort the chain properly.

Of course then they don’t fit…. oh no, wait they do. One side installs. Can’t get the bolt into the other side. Swap them over and the first bolt goes in the new side fine and the other one doesn’t. Crap now these are no good!

So I went to the gym to vent my frustration.

Saturday I started some research and working with a friend who’s a Kawasaki nut, I figured the parts I might need, the price resolved to something a lot more reasonable. I also posted on a Ninja 1000 website I had found, about the problem. The new parts would be more like $200. I put the bike back together so at least I could ride it.

Sunday. Well at least I hadn’t planned on a ride. More research. Could be a few weeks back order so any chance of a tour next week (work trip) looked to be out.

And then the Ninja 1000 forum…. Nope, never used the bracket for the topbox. Not even fully loaded, for years…. So I went back out to the bike and looked at it. The main mount for the topbox arms are made for the pillion rails, but also for the panniers to attach. They’re a pair of 10mm, 8cm long bolts on each side. The VFR only had that for it’s top box the whole time I had it, and it’s bracket weighed a TON, and that was never a problem. The attachment point is into the subframe. For the 10kg max load in the topbox, the box itself was pretty light (things have changed since the box back in 2004!) and the brackets, I think it would be fine.

With quiet optimism I put the Givi kit on.

SUCCESS!! Looks nice and tidy too.

It is very secure. As noted, the mount point is designed as the pillion hold and the pannier mount so I’m confident it is strong.

Relief came and washed away almost all, not quite all, lingering doubt about this whole swap deal. Touring, commuting and teaching (for when I work as teacher) mode enabled.

I will still investigate getting the OEM fender. While I might not need it right now, I will feel better with the additional bracket eventually. Additionally, if I add panniers, I think the bracket will be worthwhile. Lastly, I might need the OEM tail in six months when it comes time for the rego check.

Now to decide if I should ride to Canberra for work, or drive. My heart says ride, but my head is unsure (I should figure out how much uniform I need to take, that will help). And then there is Mrs Mab to convince….

Oh and that other bobbin still needs sorting…. argh, second hand bikes!

Ninja – First proper ride

So on the 2nd I got to head out for a much longer ride on the Ninja. I got up really early to beat traffic and heat. This past week or so has been really toasty in Western Sydney with temps above 35 for days. So I was keen to be on my way back before mid afternoon. I rolled out of the driveway at 0600, actually I bit earlier than I expected. It was already light of course, and the sun would be well up by the time I rode up to Windsor and up the Putty.

I headed along my old commute (as of the 14th I’m working in a new location, so my commute will be different – shorter and just straight west along the M4) up to Windsor. The bike was really easy along this. Some filtering was practiced, with the bike not seeming much fatter than the Daytona, so that’s excellent.

I fuelled up in Windsor, putting 8L into the tank. This was brim full and I reset the counter. One of the main things I am looking for in this bike is a range that is more than the Daytona’s 200km, and hoping for something like 350km (400km would be nice) from a tank.

So up the Putty I went. One of the first things I noticed is that at low speed it is actually easy to turn (like carparks and such) due to the better clearance from the bars to tank at lock. Deceptively so, for a heavy bike (but one that weighs pretty much what my VFR did).

And that’s probably the main thing I want to say. HONDA you should make a VFR 1000. This bike really felt like the VFR position and riding style, but with a chunk more power and torque. It sure doesn’t turn as easily or as aggressively as the Daytona, but then it’s not expected too. It doesn’t even quite feel as aggressive as the VFR, but it does seem to turn just fine for me. And I’ve lost all that “he’s riding a Daytona, he should be riding fassssttt” pressure too. Once I started to get out of Daytona habits and replace them with new Ninja style, the ride started to go better.

I stopped a couple of times for some photos and even managed a ride by video, which I hope to edit and get up on YouTube before too long. I got to Grey Gums in about an hour, which seems about right. Had one moment – while doing the video I was doing a U-Turn and it started to topple. Stuck my leg out and there was a moment I thought it might fall. Gave her a big heave and all that gym over the past 18 months paid off! Up she came. Safe.

At Grey Gums Cafe

Rode home via MCAS in Penrith where I order the Givi V47 topbox and rack. They might even be here today, now that’s service, considering its just after New Year. This will mean the Ninja comes a possibility for a work trip to Canberra in two weeks time. And then back home by 1100. Not a bad ride out. Total distance was 230km, with two bars left on the gauge. So I think 300km is hopefully normal. It might also increase slightly as the bike has now only done 2880km, and I don’t know what the age of the fuel and what sort it was. I remember the VFR added an extra 50km after 12,000km and the Daytona clearly increased its range when I switched from 95 to 98 octane.

Givi V47 NN Tech case I’ve ordered

Overall, while I still miss the Daytona (heck I still am heart broken over the VFR!) I think this was a good decision. With the topbox giving me all weather and lockable luggage and the extra range, the cost of the bike was only the stamp duty (about $200-300), I think I’ve done alright. I certainly enjoy riding it. I can use the Kriega bags, secured to the topbox rack if I need more than the 45L in the topbox (unlikely).

I do wish I could have afforded the latest one with all the bells and whistles, but to be honest I had none on the VFR and only added ABS (oh, and the slipper clutch and quick shifter, hmmmm) on the Daytona. I would have thought it would at least have engine temp (the ’13 onwards does) but I don’t think even the ’19 gets air temp reading. I do have ABS, so that’s something.

Rolling 🙂

I’ll get this to its first proper service before too long, keep an eye on the tyres and continue my slow pick it apart and clean it and the bike should last me 5-10 years. See what happens then!

Goodby Daytona, Hello Ninja

It’s done, the bikes are swapped. I’ll add some photos in the next few days. It’s really dusty from the trip up so I’ll clean it and get some photos (when its not 40C outside).

Happy and sad.

The Ninja is in fantastic shape. Basically new, but already run in. It is a December 2011 (so basically a 2012, hence the colouring that confused me) with 2600 km. It was serviced in May with everything looked at and all the fluids replaced and a new battery.

It does have original tyres, they’re BT016. That does make them older, but its been stored inside so I am confident they will get at least maybe another 8000km or so out of them. Then I can look around for something more like the T series, a more sport touring tyre to put on it. I’ll be gentle for the first few hundred kms as they settle back into use and I see how the wear goes.

Other than that, I’ll save up for a topbox (top case some call it). I’m leaning towards Givi as I have positive recollections of their gear in all weathers.

So a new bike. And to think, back in 2004 when I bought the VFR I didn’t expect to ever get another bike.

Oh, and the other good new is that it fits in the garage!

Bike Swap Update – A date is set

Well first up, it looks like its a 2012, not a 2011, hence the colour combo is this, not the one I post previously. I think I like it more.

2012 Ninja 1000
As far as I’ve been told, the only modification is that one of the owners has installed a tail tidy onto the bike.

 Yes, I have seen photos of the actual bike, I was just confused as I had remembered the year as 2011, but all the images like this are of a 2012. 

And a date has been set. The other rider is trailering her bike to Sydney from Canberra shortly after Christmas. We can then check out each other’s bikes and test ride. And I’m hoping, to take the Daytona back home with her. Certainly I am getting more excited about the changeover. It’s basically a brand new bike (that I don’t need to run in!)

The Girls Ride!

A quiet, cool Sunday afternoon came around last weekend so I offered my girls a ride with me on the Daytona. Neither has ridden on a bike before. I was pleased when both said yes, so it was time to gear up.

I have jacket, gloves and helmet for Mrs Mab and due to her diminutive stature her gear wasn’t too big for the girls. In fact, the youngest fit the helmet and gloves fine, but the arms on the jacket were a bit ridiculous. The older one fit the jacket better and the gloves, but the helmet was a tight fit. Jeans (I know) and closed shoes completed their gear. Obviously with only 1 set, I took one for a ride and then we changed the gear over and the other came for her ride.

So it was just “around the block”, not over 50km/h and no sudden moves (remember I’m trying to encourage them, not scare them!). And yes, with both over 8 years old it is legal, and they were able to reach the pegs etc, so I just had to watch out for the usual idiots, but at about 3pm on a Sunday, it was pretty quiet.

And I’m happy to report that both really enjoyed it. They will definitely like to come again, and both are interested in getting bikes when they get older, so WIN! Only downside was the older one’s head was really slightly too big for the helmet, which made taking it off a challenge, made doubly so as she felt that her earrings were catching on the lining (they weren’t – her ears were just getting caught up in the bottom of the padding around the opening) so there was some stress. But even a week later (I just asked her then) she would still like to go again.

If we get a proper sized helmet.

And what do girls do about their earrings? Or was it just a slightly small helmet issue?