Do you talk about it?

See the gorilla? Well the viewers didn’t.

As a motorcycle rider, it isn’t unusual to have near misses with cars. The more often you ride, the more you will have. Just the other day, barely 50m from my house I was forced to come to full emergency stop part way around a roundabout when a car coming from my left clearly hadn’t seen me and wasn’t going to stop.

Just as I pulled up, the driver saw me and also stopped. He gave an apologetic wave and I carried on.

I have to say, this one was kind of close. Worse, if it had been a minute or two earlier, my own daughter would have been standing at the bus stop just metres away and seen the crash, or at least the aftermath.

And it was my closest in several weeks. I pulled over a few metres up the road until I could catch my breath and the shakes slowed down a bit.

But that isn’t the point of the post.

Riders will always discuss this kind of event amongst themselves. It’s actually beneficial in that it provides a forum to examine the incident and learn from it. Even if we’re not doing it consciously, we’re still learning. Incidents like this years ago are part of the reason I was even looking for the car in the first place.

But what about the driver? Did he go to work and sit down with his mates and describe how he almost collected a motorcycle on the way to work?

I bet he didn’t. Does anyone? It’s a natural tendency to cover up our mistakes. Not let people know.

But there was more than just laziness at work for him. If he was a local, I would be confident he would know that my direction is the least used, so he’s assumed there would be no traffic. The mind is pretty amazing so even if he did look my way, his mind was not expecting to see anything and so he didn’t. These other factors are well understood in other circles (like in aviation). Google the gorilla suit in the basketball game for an extreme version of this “not seeing things”.

And so his learning will be less – and there is more chance he will do it again. Or that his friends who never have this discussion have more chance to have the same mistake.

So would you talk about it?

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Just a couple of hours

With Mrs filling in for her boss for a few weeks, she has not been working the past few weekends. This is a confusing time for our family as ever since she went back to work after our eldest was born (who’s now in high school), she’s been working weekends and having Wednesday and Thursday’s off. So I look after chores and cooking in the weekend, she does it mid week and that’s a nice even split and things get done. When she doesn’t work weekends we seem to get to Wednesday and there’s no milk left or the food has runout or the washing needs doing as we’re all out of routine.

ANYWAY. Because of her not working, I headed out for a couple of hours up the OldPac as she could mind the girls. I had also noticed a couple of Instagram folks that I follow had headed up that way, so I was seeing if I might run into them.

It was a pleasant afternoon, so there were a lot of bikes out. I am not as confident, yet, on this Ninja as I was on the Daytona. So I’m back to Captain Ridiculously Slow sometimes, not just Captain Slow. There were also a LOT of police about, so behaving yourself was the order of the day.

Came back after a couple of hours having enjoyed the bike and the weather, so it was a good afternoon. I did see a photographer, but haven’t tracked who it was this time. No photos this time from them. But a couple from me.

Didn’t see any bike drama, but there was a car broken down at the end of the freeway offramp. The ramp goes up and around a blind hard left. The car was stopped just around the corner. I pulled up and suggested (firmly) that they should have someone around the corner slowing people down so they don’t cause an accident. As I was pulled up, a couple of cars came around the turn and managed to stop, but it was close. It made my point.

Short trip – Canberra

IMG_5766
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.

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.

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.

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?

A bike swap is being mooted

Ever since my VFR (was viciously murdered) crash with the roo, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do. Mrs Mab was very clear that the Daytona would have to go before any changes (she wasn’t going to fall into my previous trick of adding the Daytona, then not being able to sell the VFR). But part of the problem has been what bike to get.

The obvious choice was either a new VFR or a 6th gen, like my old one, second hand. There are less what I would call sports tourers around these days, and very few manufacturers actually making bikes in this group. I knew some of the things I didn’t really want. I didn’t want an adventure bike, or those sort of adventure tourers (you know, with road tyres, but longer suspension). I understand the VFR has just been quietly halted as well.

So one of the other bikes I looked at is the Ninja 1000sx. I test rode one a while back here. And thought it was good, except the seat was a bit uncomfortable. I test rode one again recently, this second hand one had a gel seat, which seemed pretty good. This one also seemed to have a quick shift, it had louder pipes, a top box, a gear indicator and the gel seats. It also had 60,000km and even then was probably out of my price range. 

The other day at work a colleague in Canberra put a for swap ad (in the bike sales board online). They had a 2011 Ninja 1000 with 2500km that they had bought second hand. They were after something smaller and lighter (well actually they wrote shorter). I offered my Daytona, and after some back and forth and her searching for one to sit on to test, it looks like I am going to swap the Daytona for the Ninja. 

This is the 2011 Ninja 1000SX, in the colour scheme offered to me.

She’s never ridden the Ninja as far as I can tell. She’s sat on it and worried that it’s too big and heavy for her. I don’t even know why she bought it, as she normally had a string of Ducati sports bikes (and apparently a Bimota at one stage), its not like her at all. Very odd, but possibly turns out well for me.

On the negatives, it is a 2011, so no LED headlights. The 2011 also misses out on the 6 axis something something traction control/ABS, but it does have ABS. I think I can live with that, the VFR had nothing and the Daytona only has ABS. The seat is the main thing that worries me, but I’m kinda hoping that a used one will be “broken in” a bit and not as tough as the brand new one I test rode. I could also get a replacement seat. Doesn’t appear to have a centre stand either, which is annoying, but I have a stand already so no biggie.

The 2500km is both a positive and a negative. Its not a lot of km, so there is heaps left for me. I understand its a fairly trouble free engine good for many km. It will also be my first inline 4 and my first litre bike! The worry is the age of the tyres and fluids, but I know the owner has had it serviced recently. It also bodes well for the overall condition of the bike and I’m sure that she has been storing it carefully. Much more carefully than my ridden every day Daytona.

The positives is that I get a more upright bike, with longer range (more like 300km, than 200km) and better carrying capacity. She doesn’t have any luggage for it, so I will have to get a top box. Probably Givi as the factory kits don’t let you fit top box AND panniers, but Givi’s set up does. I’ll start with the top box though and in the interim I still have the Kriega bags. This will suit me better as I may have more travel coming up, and and I can go back to commuting with a top box (so can carry more, it stays out of the weather and you have somewhere to put the helmet when you’re parked). And the bike should be more comfortable for the Mrs (as well as space for her shopping). It’s actually much easier to manoeuvre at slow speed due to the tall position and high clip ons.

But I do suffer from that whole – I don’t like to get rid of my things – problem. I love riding the Daytona, but I do wish I had a more VFR kind of bike as well. This is easily the cheapest way to get back into sports tourers that I have come across and I’m sure the bike will be excellent. 

But I have to get rid of the Daytona….

MotoGP Phillip Is – Departure Day

So it’s departure day. The main worry, the weather, has been slowly improving, even to the point that the Island itself to be cloudy but no rain. Yeah, I’ll believe that when I’ve lived it, the Island does have a well-deserved reputation for having all weathers in one day, even more than Melbourne is.

Anyway the weather has been getting better, still cool, but all the showers have been written out of all the predictions. That’s about perfect. Maybe a little cooler going over the mountains, but then it is the mountains.

Anyway almost time to wake up the family and get them off to school and such. Then I’ll be on my way.