Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chateau to Plateau

05:25 and I'm awake before my alarm - always seems to be the way when I've got something on that requires an early start. Never mind I guess the time I don't set the alarm will be the time I need it...

Anyway, onto more important things - the ride. By 6:30 I was ready to rock and headed around to Brian's to make sure that his alarm had gone off. After picking him up we headed over to Fielding to meet up with Mark & Tony (a fellow Kiwi Biker from Danniverke).

After a quick gas up we headed out Makino Road and onto Vinegar Hill. There was quite a bit of low cloud around the hills so not the normal nice views of the valleys and the mountains in the distance. This just meant that we could concentrate more on the riding and had a blast through here and all the way up Highway One to Waioru.

We had a quick stop here so that Tony could top up his Bandit before we headed on to Ohakune. At Ohakune we stopped for a quick coffee as we were still very early for the 9:30 registration. It seems we weren't the only ones in this situation as there were a number of bikes parked up with the riders getting stuck into coffees and cooked brekkies.

More and more bikes came through on their way up and when we left Ohakune we soon caught up with quite a big bunch and sat behind them all the way to National Park and then the Chateau.

At the Chateau we picked up our badges, lunch token and a wee map of the route before catching up with a few other bods that we knew.

After a rider's briefing we were off on our way back to National Park and on up to Taumarunui. The pace was quite slow and with the long straight roads a bit boring - bring on the Forgotten Highway! We made another quick pitstop at Taumarunui so that we had plenty of gas to get through the highway and then we were off.

We quickly caught the main bunch as they were travelling very slowly (70km/h) which wasn't really our cup of tea - particularly on a hot day. So we pulled over at a rest area and parked up for 15-20 mins to let the masses get ahead. This proved to be a really good idea as we were able to ride at our own pace with less traffic etc and we did not catch up to any other bikes until the small gravel section.

The road was in a bit better condition than last time although the tar was still quite hot and slippery in places so it wasn't unusual to feel the bike squirming around underneath me when I hit a particularly soft bit. The gravel section was also in good nick but just as dusty as last time.

We arrived hot & thirsty at Whangamomona towards the end of the pack and parked up ready for a breather. We quickly located our lunch and then wandered around taking photos and looking at all the bikes.

From Whangamomona the ride was to go onto Stratford and then up to the "Plateau" and then back to Stratford for the prize giving. By now it was around 1pm and we decided that rather than wait around we'd rather head off and get home at a reasonable time. So it was just Brian, Mark & myself that snuck off early and headed for Stratford.

The rest of the Forgotten Highway part of the ride was just awesome - the roads this side of Whanga are in much better nick and we had a blast. Even waved to one of the two mufti cops on the road...

From Stratford it was just a quiet ride back to Palmy with just one more quick fuel stop at Wanganui, a couple of spits of rain just out of Wanganui and some road works at Mt Stewart to contend with. Home just after 4:30 with another 600kms on the Connie's odo and two new tyres well and truly scrubbed in.

More pics here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Got my new tyres today so I'll be on bread & water for the next 6 months - and by then I'll need another set. Yep, not cheap but you gotta have them.

I've stuck on some Pirelli Strada's and I haven't run Pirelli's on any of my bikes for quite a while (and definitely not this tyre) so it'll be interesting to see how they go.

The original front only lasted me 6,500 kms so I'm hoping for a fair bit better out of this one. The rear at 10,060kms still probably had a wee bit of life in it but as I'm doing the Chateau to Plateau on Sunday which includes some gravel I didn't like the idea of riding on a tyre that was getting pretty thin in the middle. With a bit of luck they'll last be through the Mini's Return and winter - probably need new ones before the Grand Challenge...

Something Shiny

Brian's gone and had Cookie make him up a muffler. Looks great, nice & shiny etc. Bike sounds quite a bit more like a 1400 - sounds reasonably loud at idle but not that bad when you blip the throttle. Probably not quite as loud as my old Bandit. Still not sure if I'll do the same yet - quite like the silence when cruising.

Edit: Check out the new poll. Should I change my muffler???

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bandit Tourer

Seems like it was only a couple of days ago that I was wondering why Suzuki NZ don't bring in the GT version of the Bandit that is available in Europe - well now they've done something similar.

They call it the GSF1250SATK8 Bandit Tourer (bit of a mouthful) and at $15,995 it comes with the following extras:
  • ABS
  • Touring screen
  • Lower fairing
  • Tank Bag
  • Panniers

Looks ok, but where's the top-box? Never mind, pretty cheap touring.

Friday, January 18, 2008

10,000k's old today

Yep the bike's getting older - we're into 5 digits.

To celebrate she's getting new tyres next week. The rear is still original although pretty thin through the middle. The front is a second hand one from off my old Bandit has still got a few k's in it but I want stick a matched pair of Pirelli's on and see how they go.

Still to come is the top-box mount - on order but needs to be here for the Mini's Return in march. Will be good to be able to just take a top-box on short rides rather than having to fit both panniers. After this she's pretty much all set-up. The only thing that needs doing is a bit of a tidy up after it's fall. Still unsure if I'll fit a different muffler but could perhaps see myself getting some "gadgets" for it.

It's been great getting to know the new bike and now I'm enjoying my riding even more - it's one great bike!

Some other milestones today:
  • 1st kill - a bird at about 1**km/h
  • Best economy ever - an amazing 5.13L/100km. (Gives a good indication of the traffic conditions and pace we were riding at today). Average economy over total mileage is currently 6.02L/100km but I can see this dropping as it is regularly under 6. The economy took a while to come down (probably 3,000km or so), whether this was the bike taking a while to run in or the rider learning to ride it properly I'm not sure.
  • Off-road riding - parking in a paddock at the A1 GP.


Ok, so it was a Friday - usually one of my busiest days of the week at work but Brian had scored some free tickets to the A1 GP practice day at Taupo and it didn't really take a whole lot of convincing to get me to join him for a nice ride up to watch some cars go around in circles.

We left Palmy at about 6:30am and after fueling up in Fielding took the back road through Halcombe and then on up Highway one.

Had a good ride up with the exception of an idiot in a BMW 545 (think that's what it was) who decided to pass us on the left in a passing lane just before we were about to pull into the lane. The guy took off big time but was all over the show when it came to passing etc. He managed to get to Waioru without killing anyone but I'm not sure about after that...

We had a quick stop in Waioru for some breakfast and then it was onto the desert road. It was a beautiful day and a really great ride across there, the only downer being the speed limit and the usual presence of tax collectors.

After picking up our tickets we made our way to the track just in time to see the first practice of the A1 cars. Taupo is a really great track and it was fantastic to see the cars screaming past down the back strait. Man, they are noisy - far more noisy than on the TV. On the TV you hear the high revs etc but not the volume or the noise that they make on the overrun. When the NZ V8's came out it was amazing how quiet they were in comparison.

After the A1 cars the V8's came out and was good to see the comparison in speed etc. The A1 cars just leave them for dead. A new chicane at the end of one of the straights was also giving the V8's some issues and as we were sitting right by it we got to see quite a few little spins, some curb hopping and plenty of dust.

After the V8's the A1 cars came out again for 2 longer practice sessions and the commentators were reading off times etc which made it a bit more interesting. Every now and again someone would put in a quicker lap but then someone else would beat it. Cars were in and out of the pits for setup changes etc. The chicane really showed up the difference between the V8's and the A1 cars too - they just steamed on through with only one car bailing out and taking the escape road. When he stopped he had to do the old half donut to turn around and used plenty of revs for this and getting back out on the track - awesome!

Near the end of the A1 practice we headed off for a quick look in the pit area before heading back to the bikes for the ride home. It was very hot through to Turangi where we stopped for gas but cooled down a bit through the desert road. Leaving Turangi I somehow got away on Brian and he just wasn't catching up - it turned out that the ute he was behind turning out of Turangi stopped at the turn off so the driver could yap on his phone and Brian couldn't get past - tosser.

Anyway after pootling along waiting for Brian I pulled into a rest area and was quick enough to be able to whip my camera out to get a quick piccy of him going past. After this I had to chase after him (avoiding 2 cops) before finally catching up with him at Taihape where we grabbed a drink and a bite to eat.

On the last leg home we turned of just before Ohingati and took the back roads back to Kimbolton, Cheltenham, Colyton and home - good to be out of all the traffic. All in all a good day out - a decent though hot ride and the chance to see a bit of international motor sport.
More piccys here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bandit 1250GT

Found a couple more links to some info on the Bandit GT's that Europe is gonna get. Dunno why they don't bring 'em over here - they sell a heap of Bandits here and luggage just makes them a more attractive buy.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Police U-Turns

I don't really like having a go at the police but after the incident in the Buller Gorge last year you would think that the cops maybe would be taking more care with the way they handled their cars in traffic.

On the way down to Wellington on Sunday I was following a police car (one car ahead of me) when the cop all of a sudden decided that they were going the wrong way and needed to do a U-turn. This was in reasonably heavy traffic with two lanes going both ways.

To start the manoeuvre the cop simply pulled across into the opposite lanes - no indicator, no flashing lights or anything. Unfortunately two lanes were not enough to complete the turn and so by the time I went past the car was in reverse and I was wondering if I was about to be rammed in the side by a cop car. Additionally, all of the traffic in the opposing two lanes had to stop otherwise they'd pile into the cop car - wonder if there were any nose to tails?

Anyway, the cop didn't hit me but I wonder what he would have done if it had been another member of the public pulling the same kind of stunt? Probably be sentenced to life imprisonment or something. The thing that most annoys me is the no indication/Christmas tree lights etc to warn other motorists and that the cop thought that it was perfectly ok to do that sort of thing. Be nice if they could set better examples out on the road...

Oh, and to top it all off, while we were parked outside Wellington Motorcycles a mufti cop tried to back into the space between Brian's & my bike and a parked car. There was not enough room for a mini let alone a commodore! He eventually worked this out and drove off without knocking our bikes over - phew! Must have got his licence out of a weet-bix packet...

C'mon guys!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Round the Block

Gotta a phone call this morning.  It was Brian calling from Lindale where he & Linda were just polishing off their brekkie.  They'd headed down early and were going to take a quiet ride around the bays in Wellington so invited me down to join them for the ride back.

I quickly got myself sorted and headed off.  There was quite a bit of traffic on the roads and in some places it was crawling.  Also, although the day was a bit cloudy it was very hot.  I made a quick stop for gas in Otaki and carried on into Wellington.

After nearly being taken out by a car I finally met up with Brian & Linda outside Wellington Motorcycles.  We hummed and harred over where to head off and in the end decided to head for the Hutt and come home via the Rimutakas.

At the base of the takas we stopped at the Kaitoke cafe.  Had a really nice lunch but it was spoilt by the pitbull running the place who didn't seem to mind if she ripped into the staff in front of the customers.  I think her main problem is that the staff could not read her mind and she sure let them know when they got it wrong.  Won't be going back there in a hurry...

After a bit of fun over the hill I stopped for Brian & Linda and then slotted in behind them for the ride home.  Just before Masterton we were treated to the sight of a WW1 triplane staggering around the sky - one of Peter Jackson's toys perhaps?

Another quick stop at Eketahuna so Brian could top up his tank and then we were off home via Mangamire and the Pahiatua track.  Got home sometime after 4 and was happy to get out of my hot gear and put the bike to bed.  Nice little ride of just over 300k's.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Green Vehicles

Found these couple of links on the Kneeslider to a couple of different options on green vehicles.

The first, is cars running on compressed air - nothing new but they seemed to have upped the efficiency and got on board compressors for recharging. Sort of a fossil fuel/compressed air hybrid.

The second, I really like - a guy converting big yank tanks to biodiesel but also using a few other tricks like hydrogen to really increase the efficiency & performance. Like the idea of having performance with economy.

Personally do not think batteries are the go but perhaps could see myself on a diesel Concours if it's quiet, smooth, powerful & economical...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Newbie Ride

Another day off and another ride, oh damn. Today's ride was organised by Chanceyy and it was intended as a quiet ride suitable for new riders.

The ride kicked off in Ashhurst and when we left there were something like 18 bikes as I led them into the Pohangina Valley (just doing as I was told - honest). I kept up an easy pace and eventually some bored of it and passed for some fun.

Always a nice ride through the valley - great scenery and great roads. Only one little rear end slide for me coming off a one lane bridge and I won't mention Stupy's brief off road excursion.

As this was a ride for the newbies we stopped frequently to make sure everyone was ok and had riders stopping at intersections to give directions as well as a tail-end charlie. This worked well and we never had to wait long or go looking for lost newbies.

After turning off at Pemberton we headed through to Ohingaiti via a road I had never been on (see above pic). This was a great ride and there was some great scenery to take in. We quickly got off State Highway one and took in some back roads which eventually got us into Hunterville for lunch.

After lunch we took in some back roads to Marton before returning to Fielding via Halcombe. There we all stopped for a drink before making our separate ways home.
All in all a nice way to start the new year off.