Ninja time

No not turtles. Oh that reminds me – I do have to sit through the latest one. 

I test rode the Ninja 1000sx this afternoon. I really wanted to like it, it was smooth, plenty of power. Nice seating position and I can’t see it struggling with full panniers or two up. Brakes seemed good too. 

But I found that the seat had two creases that I found quite uncomfortable after only a few short minutes. Even after I got off the bike I still was a bit uncomfortable for at least a half an hour. That really made it hard to like the bike. 
The VFR moves back to the top of the list and I’m considering that the newer one is the better choice. Revised and refreshed with some better technology. And available at some reasonable prices second hand. 

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Reached a quiet decision

Commuting home on the Daytona the other day I finally decided that it was no longer the bike for me.

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What’s not to love about this sweet machine??

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic bike. And I’m still super happy to have decided that my experiment into the sportbike world was on such a sweet machine. Its performance is amazing, handling is fantastic. It’s actually pretty easy to ride every day even in traffic. And I have travelled some distance on it.

It is the decision two years in the making, ever since the roo jumped onto the Hume and laid down my VFR. I didn’t enjoy the track day, I don’t have time or the real interest in putting effort (time, money and stress) into track day schools. I have also decided that I don’t really like heading out to the same road and just repeating it over and over.

I want to head out for a couple of hours (or days or weeks) and explore. Heck, this even sounds like my WoW interests, lol.  The Daytona doesn’t really lend itself to that. I’m not out there wanting to shave seconds off time, I’m happy cruising along at the speed limit(ish) and eating miles looking around. A topbox would be great for work commute.

So I’m heading back to the Sports Tourer world

But no idea how I’m going to pay for it.

Sell the Daytona is the first step.

That should give me enough money to get a good condition VFR800, say 2010 or so. A known bike I would be content with.

So what else?

Well the new VFR seems an obvious choice. I have decided to loosen up my personal restriction and investigate the over 1000cc bikes. Otherwise, there basically isn’t anything to choose from that isn’t choked by Learner Approved restrictions. I may also consider the strongly road orientated “adventure” bikes, this opens it up somewhat too. I would like at least a windscreen (so no nakeds please!) and hope for factory panniers/topbox. LED headlights are a big plus having experienced that in my car now. The difference between normal halogen and LEDs is massive! Maybe I would have seen that roo???

So my list currently has

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2014+ Honda VFR800 (White or Red)

Honda VFR800 – Newer than my old one. Has LED Lights, same sweet engine and similar ergonomics. Almost a known factor, can get second hand too. Panniers/topbox, tick.

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Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX – I step up to 1000cc. Plenty of power. LED lights, ABS, traction control. Panniers OR topbox, not both at same time.

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Triumph Tiger Sport 1050

Triumph Tiger Sport – LED lights, ABS, traction control. I presume options for topbox, panniers. More adventure tourer than sports tourer. 1000cc triple (triples are sweet). Heated grips etc etc.

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Yamaha MT-09 Tracer

Yamaha MT-09 Tracer. – LED lights, ABS, traction control. I presume options for topbox, panniers. More adventure tourer than sports tourer. 900cc triple (triples are sweet). Heated grips etc etc.

All four of those are improvements on the version before. Better suspension or better tuned engines, improved seating or some such. Ninja, VFR and Tracer should be available in good second hand versions, without some of the newer bits and pieces (LED lights mostly).

I can’t really think of any others. Possibles might include Suzuki GSX1000F (though it’s pretty ugly). Ducati Multistrada 950.

I’ve put the Daytona up for sale at work. I’ve tested a 2017 VFR800, and plan to test the Ninja on Friday. I think thats the strongest alternate to the two VFRs.

But then I have to figure out how to pay.

Lucky to be here. 

No not a new crash. 

Now and then again I see something that drives it home again just how lucky I was 2 years ago in my bike crash. Today I watched some of a YouTube video where a bike ran a red light and hit a car. These guys were being complete wankers stunting on the street and rode through the lights at speed. I don’t have a problem with the stunting, its when these riders are blocking traffic, running lights or on the wrong side that they’re just being dickheads and giving riders a bad name. 

While the first bike made it cleanly the second collected a car and the rider and his pillion were thrown across the bonnet and down. The pillion’s foot is either completely torn off or hanging by a thread. I didn’t look too closely. If you’ve a stronger stomach than me go and check it out

I hit the road at a higher speed than these two and was lucky not to get thrown off more violently. I could have gotten tangled in the bike or the roo or slid heavily into the fence. I might have landed differently and torn part of myself apart as I slid 100m along the road. I might have been run over. 

I wore a mix of good and great gear. I had a kept a fair bit of space around me in the very light traffic. But when the roo was there – there was NOTHING I could have done to avoid it. 

But I was also lucky. Very lucky. 

And now and then there’s something that makes a cold chill run down my back and remind me. 

Winter is…. well its here

The last couple of weeks have been COLD in Canberra. The week before last we had three days where it started around -7C.

Winter gloves are a real design problem for riders. Too much padding and you end up not being able to feel anything. Often the wind still gets through, sucking what little heat gets generated by your fingers. Less padding and they don’t keep you warm.

Heated handlebars are one solution, but on the VFR I was always concerned to add more load to the electrical system. You can now get heated gloves (and socks, and vests). I just wasn’t sure about that either, the problem of wind chill would still be there I thought. Instead there is this option, known as handlebar mitts.

Baxter Box-R
Bagster Box-R

They worked very well, cutting the wind which is a large part of really cold hands on a motorcycle. In these I comfortably rode all winter in summer gloves. Adding some heating (gloves or bars) would see you able to cope in quite extreme temperatures I think.

But now there is no VFR. These mitts don’t fit as well on the Daytona (sure they look silly, but that’s not what I’m talking about). The ergonomics of the bar position, fairing shape, sitting position all mean that they are problematic. I have done it once on a Sydney to Canberra commute along the Hume. I’m just glad I didn’t have to turn much.

So -7, time for my winter gloves then.

Er, where are they?

I hunted around in my Canberra place to no avail. I rode into work one day in the -7. The right hand especially must have been very close to frostbite (at 100kmh, -7 is something like -20 or -25C in light weight leather….). Was well into the morning before my hands felt right again (I have a niggling concern about my pinky on one hand still).

That weekend I hunted about the Sydney house to no avail.

Did I throw them out last winter after I got the Bagster? Strong chance of that as I was never happy with either pair I had.

So this weekend I picked up a new set.

Dainese Scout Gore-Tex
Dainese Scout Gore-Tex

Not cheap, but I do have a strong trust in the performance of Dainese gear now. Both on bike (keeping me warm and dry) and off the bike (along the road).

Of course this week it’s 8C and raining so I’m leaving the bike in the garage.

Missing you.

The Daytona went in for a service about two weeks ago. One of the things that has bugged me is that it is often hard to start when hot. I’ll get it out of the garage and ride down the street to the petrol station. Fill up and it won’t start for several attempts.

So they found a broken valve in the intake somewhere. Been making the bike run lean, which (someone with more knowledge than me can talk me through this) should make it hard to start when warm??

Anyway so the part is on order (from England they reckon). But still under warranty so I will only pay for the service.

Even with the rain coming down I want to ride.

Missing the VFR still too.

Post crash update

Okay so it’s almost a week since I decided to closely inspect the road surface at high speed. I have had a plastic surgeon stitch up my wound. Then I was discharged from Canberra and finally got home to my family on Friday evening.

All seems to be healing well but it will be a while. I’ve had suggestions of anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks before I can even drive let alone swing a leg over the Daytona. So work will be frustrated but not more than me.

I do really want to ride again and there isn’t anything to stop me. Even Mrs Mab is happy for me to keep riding. The only thing that might stop me is me.

The docs have suggested that I may not yet have dealt with the whole event and I expect that’s true. But to what extant I need to deal with anything you never know.

So I might swing that leg over and be too nervous to roll out of the garage. At this time I don’t see that – I can certainly think through some rides and all I feel is the urge to get out there.

I expect I will also mourn my VFR at some point. Sure it’s only a bike to some but it was a big part of me for a long time and many miles. And I am going to miss it.

So all is as well as it can be and I look forward to what the future holds. Thanks again to all the support from here and elsewhere.

End of an Era

That’s what my sister and my mum separately described it when I told them.

Sunday night, marginally later than usual I headed down the highway from Sydney to Canberra on my VFR. After my usual refuel at Marulan and a text to wife I was on my.

As I travelled along the edge of Lake George I was passing a car and about level with its doors when it appeared.

Ten foot tall with red blazing eyes and a t-shirt that read “death to motorcyclists” the kangaroo leapt from in front of the car next to me and landed in front of me. At 110km/h I had enough time to think “fuck this is going to hurt”. Well I probably only thought “f” before I’m tumbling down the freeway.

I didn’t resist the tumbling, trusting my gear to do the job I spent a lot of money for. It did seem a while but was probably a few secs later I stopped sliding.

I could see the wire fence on the edge of the highway only a metre or so away. I was pretty shaken and had no idea if I was hurt but I knew if I could get over to the fence I would be as far away from the traffic as I could get. I didn’t want to survive the roo only to get squashed under a semi.

I lay in the drain next to the wire letting myself take a few deep breaths and see if anything was hurting a lot.

Nothing grabbed my immediate attention so I stood up. Up the road to my left was my bike about three metres away. Past that a couple of people were just getting out of a ute. (They were apparently very relieved to see me stand up)

I walked over to my bike with a heavy heart knowing that my bike had seen its last miles this evening. Lying on its side in a pool of oil with the top box burst open I knew the insurers would deem it uneconomical to repair.

I took my helmet off and sat down. The guys convinced me to lie down and it seemed like a good idea. My Kevlar jeans were ripped open on my right knee and a nasty set of gashes poked through. We decided to call the ambulance.

As we waited the guys found a few of my things. I took stock of myself and even with shredded clothing the only other injury apparent to us was a light graze on my wrist.

But it was cold lying there on the road and I presume the shock and adrenaline as well had me shivering almost constantly (it would be after a couple of hours in Emergency before this would stop) About 30mins later the cops turned up, the the tow truck and then the ambos.

I guess about an hour later we arrived at Canberra Hospital. It became obvious that I had been very lucky and that my gear had done its job. I have some deep serious gouges of skin (you can see muscle and bone in the holes) taken from my knee but that’s it. Nothing broken, nothing internal damaged.

From there it’s been a succession of hospital beds and dressing changes. I am supposed to getting a plastic surgeon to look at my knee tomorrow. It’s going to take some work I think and lots of time to heal.

Some people have gone out and checked out the crash site. They figure the bike slid about 100m. They found the roo, well dead and he wasn’t a small one (about 5 feet tall). They found some of the bike with roo hair stuck in it. Most amazingly they found all of my belongings, even down to a couple of USB sticks and my sunnies.

Thanks to all my family and friends for all their support so far. Thanks to the guys who stopped (many didn’t) and I wish you’d left me your details. Thanks to the ambos and other medical folks. And of course thanks to Dainese (jacket and boots), Draggin (jeans), Alpinestars (gloves) and KBC (helmet) for keeping me so safe.

And rest in peace (or pieces??) to my well loved mighty VFR.j

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Hot or Cold?

It might have been a long weekend, but that just means Monday night – it’s time to return to Canberra for work the next day. Spring has arrived and was giving Sydney a taste of summer with 30C for most of the weekend and Monday was no different. I was starting to get a little concerned about how warm I might be riding back in my touring gear… it’s great in the cold, but can’t beat a vented jacket and jeans when the temperatures really climb.

Mrs Mab’s work resolved the whole issue when they called her in about dinner time. Instead of leaving I found myself organising dinner and baths etc. Departure would be well after dark and probably in the 20C, much more comfortable.

So I eventually got away and it was a very pleasant. Warm… first time in ages it wouldn’t be single digits when I arrived in Canberra. A little windy, that seemed to keep the bugs away (normally there would a lot on a warm night like this).

It was pretty uneventful for about two thirds of the way. Warm, less warm, full moon so kinda bright. Then it started warming up again… in fact around Goulburn it was warmer than when I left home, 2 hours ago…. remember it’s night time.

With the warmth came these great big moths! And then one managed to find itself on the wrong side of the visor, fluttering away.

Not quite an emergency stop, but I whipped open the visor hoping the wind would clear it. It did, but I spent the next twenty minutes with “ghost moths” coming up my helmet (though no more actually did).

And then it rained.

This was a really weird trip back.

But it was nice to be warm for a change 🙂 Sure that feeling won’t last. You know, 20-25 really is the perfect temperature.

Made it home through the warm rain, safe again.

Weak spot in the clouds

I loitered in Sydney for an extra day so that the VFR could get a service. The folks at Western’s finished up just before lunch and I hit the road suffering through a warm sunny day. Trading some fun for time, I stayed on the freeway until Golden Vale Rd, enjoying the fresh, just serviced feeling of the VFR (It had really been feeling like it needed a service this time) and a new chain and sprockets.

I stopped as I exited the interstate for a drink and to set up the Action Cam. As I did I eyed off the clouds forming all around me. It was clear that what had started as fluffy white clouds had more ominous intentions. Some great big cumulonimbus had been growing throughout the past couple of hours, with some very dark patches behind me. So should I change from my jeans into my waterproof touring pants. This question would pop up again several times over the coming hour or two.

I rolled on and completed the Highland Way arriving a Marulan for fuel. Checking the weather radar suggested that my route to Tarago would be clear but there were some cells developing right on top of Tarago and in a line stretching north. I might be able to slip around the south end of all the weather, depending upon what happened at Tarago.

So it was back on the bike and off towards Tarago. The weather was still clear with patchy clouds. I eventually gave up worrying and pulled over to change my pants. While I did this, I could hear thunder in the distance from somewhere ahead of me – I was expecting a sporting finish to the ride now.

The last leg into Tarago had some great black clouds and lightning to the south and it had obviously been very wet in Tarago not long before I went through. There were clearly more cells coming, but it was obviously a weak spot in the wall of weather that I slipped through. From this point I had a few scattered showers and some damp road but by the time I hit Bungendore the road was only damp. I was well home when the rain started caught up and started at my place.

My first blog…..while riding!

Been hacking and drilling and cutting and sanding my Sony Action Camera case to try and mod it so I can record myself talking while riding. My first test went really well.

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but since then I haven’t been able to get it to work. I think it’s the mic being in a different place each time, so next time, I’ll move it back to the first position.