Thursday, August 30, 2007
While the bike was in the shop heated grips have been installed. Didn't test them on the way home from work - not really necessary and I probably won't need them (well let's hope the weather is finally getting better rather than worse) until the Grand Challenge (might be nice if it's chilly during the wee smalls).
Will post a piccy of them when I get around to it and let you know what I think of them once I've used them.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
After humming and harring over where to go I finally decided to head on over to Wanganui and come back via Fordell, Hunterville and Vinegar Hill. After a quick squirt over to Bulls I stopped for a quick bite before heading on to Wanganui. This is probably one of my least favourite roads to ride as it is a great piece of road but you have to take it quietly as the cops like to keep a close eye on it.
Never mind, I soon was in Wanganui and then out on the road to Fordell. Time for a bit of fun. Out the other side of Fordell you start to enter some proper back roads and have to keep a close eye out for unmarked roadworks, gravel and stock so a bit of caution is in order.
I was coming around a corner in some loose stuff when I noticed a group of bikes pulled over on the side of the road. I recognised them as some of the Kiwi Bikers I'd ridden with a few weeks ago so I pulled up to say gidday. I soon found out that a couple of them had been unlucky enough to get caught out in the crap on the road and had fallen off - one quite dramatically (over the handlebars). Luckily all were pretty much ok but a bit sore and their horses were able to be fixed up enough for them to continue on.
Had a great little ride through with them to Hunterville where it was time to stop for fuel and a drink before tackling Vinegar Hill. There were also some other guys at the cafe taking a breather - one on a new BMW HP2 which looked as though it'd been enjoying some back roads.
On the road again and I was chaffing at the bit to hit Vinegar Hill as I'd missed out on doing it last weekend. I ended up chasing a Triumph 595 and Yamaha Thunderace up the hill and had a ball. Absolutely nothing wrong with the Concours's handling!
I said goodbye to the rest of the guys at Bunnythorpe and headed home. Didn't quite get to 1,000k's on the odo - only 979, never mind, I'll book her in for a service this week.
Great way to cap off the weekend.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I had a planned route in my head but wasn't sure if I would do it all. I was out the door and off at about 9am. First stop was Ashurst for gas. Then it was off up the Pohingina valley. It was still cool so I was taking it easy on some of the shadey patches and there was the usual gravel and general rubbish you tend to find on these back roads.
I eventually hit Apiti and headed back onto the main road just north of Kimbolton, here I went right and headed north through Rangiwahia. Just before I came out onto Highway 1 I turned right onto an unknown road the said alternate route to Taihape so it was worth a look. It was a good open road the headed back towards the hills for awhile before crossing the Rangatikei river and heading beak to highway 1 coming out just south of Utiku.
I pushed on to Waiouru where 2.5hours after leaving home I pulled up for some lunch.
Then it was off to Ohakune and to Wanganui via the Paraparas. When I got to Wanganui I had done 305k's so it was time for more petrol.
After a quick pit stop it was off up Drurie Hill and home via Fordell and Bulls.
Another 2.5hours after leaving Ohakune I was home.
419km's for the day and more practice for the Grand Challenge.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
All feel that the screen is a bit small. Can't say it worries me although I'm not that long and have just come off a bike with not much in the way of fairing protection. I went through a wee rain burst on Sunday at highway speeds and hardly got touched by rain (might be different in a decent downpour - I got wet on my test ride but had to ride at slow speed at times). My only comment about the screen is that when raised it does increase the wind noise in your helmet - in the fully down position it's a lot quieter.
I guess I'm not used to the luxury of a big tourer...
Monday, August 20, 2007
Ripped this off the Kiwi Biker Website - the more riders that see it the better!
Assume you're invisible
Because to a lot of drivers, you are. Never make a move based on the assumption that another driver sees you, even if you've just made eye contact.
The consequences of strafing the jerk du jour or cutting him off start out bad and get worse. Pretend it was your grandma and think again
Dress for the crash, not the pool or the prom
Sure, Joaquin's Fish Tacos is a five-minute trip, but nobody plans to eat pavement. Modern mesh gear means 100-degree heat is no excuse for a T-shirt and board shorts
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
Assume that car across the intersection will turn across your bow when the light goes green, with or without a turn signal.
Leave your ego at home
The only people who really care if you were faster on the freeway will be the officer and the judge.
Yes, there is a half-naked girl on the billboard. And the chrome needs a polish. Meanwhile, you could be drifting toward Big Trouble. Focus.
Mirrors only show you part of the picture
Never change direction without turning your head to make sure the coast really is clear.
Always take another second or three before you pull out to pass, ride away from a curb or merge into freeway traffic from an on-ramp. It's what you don't see that gets you. That extra look could save your butt.
Watch your closing speed
Passing cars at twice their speed or changing lanes to shoot past a row of stopped cars is just asking for trouble.
Beware the verge and the merge
A lot of nasty surprises end up on the sides of the road: empty McDonald's bags, nails, TV antennas, ladders, you name it. Watch for potentially troublesome debris on both sides of the road.
Right-turning cars remain a leading killer of motorcyclists
Don't assume someone will wait for you to dart through the intersection. They're trying to beat the light, too.
Think before you act
Careful whipping around that Camry going 10km/h in a 40km/h zone or you could end up with your head in the driver's side door when he turns in front of you.
Beware of cars running traffic lights
The first few seconds after a signal light changes are the most perilous. Look both ways before barging into an intersection.
Check your mirrors
Do it every time you change lanes, slow down or stop. Be ready to move if another vehicle is about to occupy the space you'd planned to use
Mind the gap
Remember Driver's Ed.? One second's worth of distance per 16 km/h is the old rule of thumb. Better still, scan the next 12 seconds ahead for potential trouble.
Beware of boy racer cars
They're quick, and their drivers tend to be young and aggressive, therefore potentially hazardous
Excessive entrance speed hurts
It's the leading cause of single-bike accidents on twisty roads-some cruisers can make unheard of amounts of power. Use it on the way out of a corner, not in.
Don't trust that deer whistle
Ungulates and other feral beasts prowl at dawn and dusk, so heed those big yellow signs. If you're riding in a target-rich environment, slow down and watch the shoulders.
Learn to use both brakes
The front does most of your stopping, but for a lot of heavy cruisers a little extra rear brake can really help haul you up fast.
Keep the front brake covered-always
Save a single second of reaction time at 100km/h and you can stop 50m shorter. Think about that.
Look where you want to go
Use the miracle of target fixation to your advantage. The motorcycle goes where you look, so focus on the solution instead of the problem.
Keep your eyes moving
Traffic is always shifting, so keep scanning for potential trouble. Don't lock your eyes on any one thing for too long unless you're actually dealing with trouble
Come to a full stop at that next stop sign
Put a foot down. Look again. Anything less forces a snap decision with no time to spot potential trouble.
Raise your gaze
It's too late to do anything about the 5.meters immediately in front of your fender, so scan the road far enough ahead to see trouble and change trajectory.
Get your mind right in the driveway
Most accidents happen during the first 15 minutes of a ride, below 70km/h, near an intersection or driveway. Yes, that could be your driveway
Never dive into a gap in stalled traffic
Cars may have stopped for a reason, and you may not be able to see why until it's too late to do anything about it.
Don't saddle up more than you can handle
If you weigh 65kg, avoid that 500kg cruiser. Get something lighter and more manageable.
Watch for car doors opening into traffic
And smacking a car that's swerving around some goofball's open door is just as painful.
Don't get in an intersection rut
Watch for a two-way stop after a string of four-way intersections. If you expect cross-traffic to stop, there could be a painful surprise when it doesn't.
Stay in your comfort zone when you're with a group
Riding over your head is a good way to end up in a ditch. Any bunch worth riding with will have a rendezvous point where you'll be able to link up again.
Give your eyes some time to adjust
A minute or two of low light heading from a well-lighted garage onto dark streets is a good thing. Otherwise, you're essentially flying blind for the first km or so.
Master the slow U-turn
Practice. Park your butt on the outside edge of the seat and lean the bike into the turn, using your body as a counterweight as you pivot around the rear wheel.
Who put a stop sign at the top of this hill?
Don't panic. Use the rear brake to keep from rolling back down. Use Mr. Throttle and Mr. Clutch normally-and smoothly-to pull away.
If it looks slippery, assume it is
A patch of suspicious pavement could be just about anything. Butter Flavor Crisco? Gravel? Mobil 1? Or maybe it's nothing. Better to slow down for nothing than go on your head.
Bang! A blowout! Now what?
No sudden moves. The motorcycle isn't happy, so be prepared to apply a little calming muscle to maintain course. Ease back the throttle, brake gingerly with the good wheel and pull over very smoothly to the shoulder. Big sigh.
Drops on the faceshield?
It's raining. Lightly misted pavement can be slipperier than when it's been rinsed by a downpour, and you never know how much grip there is. Apply maximum-level concentration, caution and smoothness.
Everything is harder to see after dark
Adjust your headlights, carry a clear faceshield and have your game all the way on after dark, especially during commuter hours
Emotions in check?
To paraphrase Mr. Ice Cube, chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self. Emotions are as powerful as any drug, so take inventory every time you saddle up. If you're mad, sad, exhausted or anxious, stay put.
Wear good gear
Wear stuff that fits you and the weather. If you're too hot or too cold or fighting with a jacket that binds across the shoulders, you're dangerous. It's that simple.
Leave the iPod at home
You won't hear that cement truck in time with Spinal Tap cranked to 11, but they might like your headphones in intensive care.
Learn to swerve
Be able to do two tight turns in quick succession. Flick left around the bag of briquettes, then right back to your original trajectory. The bike will follow your eyes, so look at the way around, not the briquettes. Now practice until it's a reflex.
Be smooth at low speeds
Take some angst out, especially of slow-speed maneuvers, with a bit of rear brake. It adds a welcome bit of stability by minimizing unwelcome weight transfer and potentially bothersome driveline lash.
Flashing is good for you
Turn signals get your attention by flashing, right? So a few easy taps on the pedal or lever before stopping makes your brake light more eye-catching to trailing traffic.
Intersections are scary, so hedge your bets
Put another vehicle between your bike and the possibility of someone running the stop sign/red light on your left and you cut your chances of getting nailed in half.
Tune your peripheral vision
Pick a point near the center of that wall over there. Now scan as far as you can by moving your attention, not your gaze. The more you can see without turning your head, the sooner you can react to trouble.
All alone at a light that won't turn green?
Put as much motorcycle as possible directly above the sensor wire-usually buried in the pavement beneath you and located by a round or square pattern behind the limit line. If the light still won't change, try putting your kickstand down, right on the wire. You should be on your way in seconds.
Don't troll next to-or right behind-Mr. Peterbilt
If one of those 18 retreads blows up-which they do with some regularity-it de-treads, and that can be ugly. Unless you like dodging huge chunks of flying rubber, keep your distance.
Take the panic out of panic stops
Develop an intimate relationship with your front brake. Seek out some safe, open pavement. Starting slowly, find that fine line between maximum braking and a locked wheel, and then do it again and again.
Make your tires right
None of this stuff matters unless your skins are right. Don't take 'em for granted. Make sure pressure is spot-on every time you ride. Check for cuts, nails and other junk they might have picked up, as well as for general wear.
Take a deep breath
Count to 10. Visualize whirled peas. Forgetting about some clown's 130km/h indiscretion beats running the risk of ruining your life, or ending it
Like the last sentence of the article, "For my money, the Concours 14 is now the mile-muncher supreme".
Also an ad on opposite page with them priced at $23,995, but also in the mag an ad for the FJR at $24,995 - easy choice to make eh?
Sunday, August 19, 2007
I decided that it'd be nice to head out the back of Kimbolton and onto Rangiwahia and Mangaweka before coming home via Vinegar Hill. Got the boring bits of Fielding to Kimbolton out of the way pretty quickly and then it was onto the good stuff. From Kimbolton to Rangiwahia there's hardly a straight bit of road so it's fun, fun, fun.
The road was in pretty good nick considering we're only just starting to come out of winter though it always demands a bit of care. There is often mud and gravel all over the road as you sweep around a corner and can also be stock.
Got a few spits coming out of Rangiwahia but the rain held off so I could get a couple of snaps just before Mangaweka. Leaving Mangaweka it actually started raining and then the bike's fuel warning (lights, flashing displays on LCD etc) came on. I wasn't sure if I'd make it back to Fielding on 4L so I carried onto Hunterville and gassed up.
From Hunterville it was just a quite ride home with quite a few bikes heading North after obviously being at the racing at Manfield. A few other little scuds of rain came through but nothing to really make you wet and a quick blast out to Rongotea before heading home.
Nice little squirt and only 240k's to go to the first service - bike is going great!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
I headed off towards the gorge and some pretty dark looking clouds. After pottering through the gorge (slip on the road and down to one lane in places) things started looking a bit better. The sun was out and the roads were starting to dry out.
A quick stop in Danniverke for fuel and a quick glance at the blue sky's out towards the coast and my mind was made up - off to Weber, Wimbledon and then Waipuk. The road was pretty dodgy heading out to Wimbledon: wet, greasy and the usual broken surfaces so I took it pretty quietly getting to know the bike and trying to remember the road. It was also pretty windy across the tops but at least the rain stayed away.
Cruising north towards Waipuk from Porangahau the sun really came out and I started getting pretty warm. Ended up lowering the screen to it's lowest position to help get some breeze over me. By the time I got to Waipawa my tongue was hanging out and I had to stop to get a drink and take off some gear.
Now for some real fun. Turning right at Waipawa I headed on to Patangata and then onto the great Middle Road. This is a great ride taking you right through to Havelock North and this is the second time I've used it to get to know a new bike. It starts off nice and open with fast flowing corners which then start to tighten up a bit the closer you get to Havelock. A good chance to learn about the bike's handling and brakes. In a word - unbelievable!
Stopped in Napier to show the bike off to the olds and top up my tank. I left Napier at about 3 and on the way over to Hastings had to wave at another Concours going the other way - me thinks these bikes are gonna be popular. A quick top up in Hastings as I was still unsure of the range I'm going to get from a tank and then off down Highway 50.
I love this road and am pretty familiar with it so it was great to take the new bike through there, though a little hard to behave at times. Once off Highway 50 I just pottered home quietly and had the bike safely tucked away in the shed by 5 with probably 400 odd K's added to the odo. Top day and Top ride! Wonder what the weather's going to do tomorrow?
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The first 10k's or so were good going, but I could see I was going to cope some weather further east. Sure enough it wasn't long before I was riding on wet roads with a few showers every now and then. It stayed this way for most of the day. I had to be pretty careful, road conditions weren't great and the rain made things worse.
Got stuck behind a stock truck at one stage so pulled in at Pongaroa for a toilet stop and to clean my visor. I then pressed on to Weber and turned right towards Wimbledon and the coast. Hoping for an improvement in the weather, but it never came.
At Wimbledon I turned left and on towards Porangahau. Here I shot out to check out the beach. Having never been before I thought it was worth a look. After a short stop I was off again heading for Waipukurau.
My orginal plan had to be head home from here but I was enjoying myself too much so I decided I had enough gas to get to Havelock North. I was off through to Waipawa and off the main road onto Middle road which runs straight onto Havelock.
By the time I reached Havelock I had done 310k's on my tank of gas so stopped to refuel man and machine. Then I was off again out through Bridge Pa and onto Highway 50 heading south. Two hours later I was home again.
A good trip I was away for just over 6 hours and 488km. Just a warm up for the Grand Challenge.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Anyway, once up on the farm it was good to catch up with my sister & her husband. Being in the Dairy industry myself it was cool to be able to go and have a poke around on the farm and pretty soon the dog & I were off doing cool stuff like chasing cows around on a motorbike.
The mighty steed that was entrusted to me was the blue yammy in the picture. As you can see, it was not quite designed along the lines of the Concours or a Bandit so I was going to have to be careful and take it easy.
Entering a mucky race and riding down a small muddy hill I was immediately made aware of a significant difference between the yammy and the Concours. Worn out drum brakes cannot really be compared to triple disc brakes & ABS. Nevertheless, I made it safely down the hill and proceeded to help Stu & the dogs get some cows in.
Now for the tricky bit - getting back up the hill. Stu had no trouble blasting up through the mud on his quad so off I went after him. I chose third gear & plenty of revs. Now, here's where the Concours's 115kw and 190 section rear tyre (not to mention 280kg weight) wouldn't have really helped - no amount of power can substitute for grip.
Pretty soon the old knobbly was clogged up with gunk and I started not going anywhere - a quick down change didn't help either. So it was off the bike and running beside it with it revving it's little head off. A bit of help from Stu and we were up - shouldn't really be sweating when riding a bike should ya?
Anyway, all good fun and I got to do a fair bit more over the couple of days I was on the farm. Hopefully be a different sort of riding this weekend...
PS: did you notice the overalls? Rolls-Royce - only the best will do!
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Headed over to Wanganui via Feilding and Marton for lunch. Then took the back roads through Fordell to Hunterville. These roads were in surprising good condition after all the rain we have been having. A few wet slippery patches and a cow and calf crossing the road in front of me were the only dramas.
After Hunterville I headed north then turned onto Vinegar Hill and had a good blast back to Feilding.
The only rain I saw was about 1km from home but by the time I was through the gate and into the shed it was fair coming down.
This type of bike is not really what I would go for but when someone asks if you would like a ride on one of the fastest production bikes around it would be rude not to accept. I only had about 20 minutes to spare so off I go up the road. As I'm trundling through town I starting to wonder what all the fuss is about this thing is bloody uncomfortable at 50kph. But once I was out of town things changed anything over 100kph and all the weight comes off the wrists and things get more comfortable.
Fast Jesus Hell yes!!
Too much for this kid but I can understand how it would appeal to others.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Firstly, what I think of the Bandit. It is a simple, reliable bike that will do everything. Plenty of grunt to run with more powerful bikes and a great relaxed riding position. Carries rider, pillion and gear no worries and is easy on gas – 300km to a tank no problem. It is also a very easy bike to ride: strong, smooth power delivery and wide handlebars make throwing it around a piece of cake. Even good on gravel. A great, cheap, reliable all-rounder that puts a big smile on the dial after every ride.
So why change? Well after about five & a half years and 65,000kms on Bandits I thought that it was time for a change to something a bit more modern. A few years ago before I bought the K6, I rode a Blackbird and was impressed with the engine – not just the grunt but the smoothness etc and for a while one of these was possibly on the cards. The fairing protection was also something that impressed me. I guess ultimately I was looking for a more “modern” bike – engine, comfort, performance etc.
A while ago I stuck a poll (see results on right) on the blog with a list of what I thought were potential contenders for a space in my shed. Naturally the new Bandit was on there and I’m sure it’s a great bike (chased one around the Wairarapa on Saturday). You still cannot beat it for price - $14k gets a lot of bike, even ABS. Also on there was the Blackbird, Hayabusa, ZX-14 and the new Concours 14.
I guess ever since I saw the first pictures of the Concours I was interested – it really looked like the business for what I want to do on a bike: ride big miles in comfort. And of course I’ve been posting info on it on this blog for a while.
So, last Wednesday I took one for a quick test ride – in the rain. Yep, you still get wet on them! It impressed me straight away – it’s a big heavy bike but once under way the weight just isn’t an issue. And of course the weight helps it feel absolutely planted on the road. As I quietly pottered up the road I tossed her from side to side and it felt great.
And then once out on the open road the engine came rushing into the equation – silky smooth acceleration through the gears with no fuss whatsoever. A couple of top gear roll-ons from 90km/h or so showed that there was heaps of grunt there to get you past the traffic and off into the distance.
And then it was time to stop – it does! Gave myself a little fright when I braked so hard in the wet, but ABS (though it probably never kicked in) and no issues. So, soaking wet I took the bike back, went home to change and then back to work.
Ever since then it was a case of thinking shall I or shant I? I was very keen but was also nervous about the size of the bike and of course the dollars involved. In the end by Friday I had pretty much decided and was looking for insurance. Come Saturday I was off on the Bandit riding with some of the local Kiwi Biker crew and there was a Concours in the group. It was great to talk to Meanie about his bike and watch it in action. Shame he got a puncture on the day but at least the bike told him about it before it could get him into trouble.
And so we get to today. Another great Manawatu day – bucketing down most of the day. At least it fined up for me at lunch time so I could go and pick the bike up and take a quick ride out to Ashhurst and back. Yep, I like it all right! Come time to head home and it was bucketing down again – I really hope that the sound of it starting up isn’t some kind of rain dance soundtrack…
Really looking forward to getting out on it and getting it run in. Unfortunately that’s not this weekend – something else on. But that just gives the weather another week to come right – lemme think, Napier-Taupo-Ohakune-Wanganui-Palmy?
I’ll post more as the bike & I get better aquainted…
More pics of a wet Concours:
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Arrived there at pretty much exactly as the same time as a decent sized bunch of the team and was quickly introduced to a few of the guys & girls.
The first leg of the ride was a short squirt over the saddle and into Woodville where we met up with those that had chosen to go through the gorge instead and a couple of late arrivals. A quick stop and we were off again to Pahiatua.Topped up the tank and then I was off into the unknown - a great back roads ride from Pahiatua, through to Alfredton and then Masterton. A real blast through here - great winding country roads, although a bit of care had to be taken on some of the wetter, greasy roads and there was a fair bit of crap on the roads in places.
Had a real good scare just before Alfredton: I was the last rider in a 6 bike bunch and as we came around a corner we disturbed 3 calves in the grass by the side of the road. By the time bike number 5 (Bandit 1250) had gone past them they were well and truly spooked and one of them leapt out onto the road. I was onto the picks big time and swerved over to the other side of the road while the calf finally decided that the side of the road was the safest place to be. Nearly had rare weiner schnitzel (sp?) for lunch!
Had a quick stop at Alfredton so that we could regroup and take photos etc before heading onto Masterton and then Carterton.
We stopped at the Wild Oats Cafe in Carterton for lunch and were looked after like kings. They gave us the upstairs room, brought our grub & drinks up to us along with some gear for cleaning visors. And finally when we left there were lolly-pops on every bike. Definitely a bike friendly place!
From Carterton we made our way up the road to Featherston so some people could top up there tanks before tackling the Rimutakas. A good squirt up the hill on a slightly damp road before stopping at the summit for photos etc.
From here we headed on down into the Hutt but turned off to go over the Haywoods and the the Paikok hill. A bit wet thru here and we started getting the odd spit of rain. Great ride though - the first time for me of the Paikok hill. Another quick stop at the lookout before heading into Paraparam for another fuel stop for those who needed it.
It had started raining with a reasonable amount of spite by the time we left Paraparam and the roads were very wet. Played in the traffic all the way up the main road before turning off on Highway 57 to Shannon.
Once we hit Shannon I waved to all those stopping there before high-tailing it for home - time to get out of the weather. All in all a great little ride, traveled some roads a hadn't before and it's always good to riding with a decent group of bikes - great being part of a freight train going through a decent set of corners! Even enjoyed the riding in the wet!
Well definitely be keeping an eye on Kiwi Biker for the next run...
Check out other riders stories & photos on Kiwi Biker: