Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How it all Started.....

In response to Gary from Flies in your Teeth", fame,here is how I got into biking.

This was actually my second blog I wrote, but at the time I only had two followers and about 6 page views a month, so it seems good reason to re post.

People often ask me how I got into motorcycling.   Well I was a bit of a late bloomer, I didn't even start thinking about motorcycles until after I was married (29). The reason being is that my wife was mad keen on them, and because of that I got interested.

When I met her I was 27 and she was 21, She had sold her car and was riding a bike everywhere. Her mother was not impressed, but I must admit I found it rather cool.  We dated for a long time and  a couple of years later we got married, she still had the bike but also a car. Not long after we got married I decided I was keen to learn how to ride a bike. So off we went to a deserted car park to give it ago.  I was not to know then, but it was the beginning of my love affair with riding bikes.

I learnt the basics pretty easily, and a in a fit of complete eagerness I went and brought a CBR 600, of course the fact I had no license, was of little interest to me, after all she had been riding for a few years and she still didn't have one, so I thought it can't be all that bad!

Fast forward a year, and she is pregnant with our first child, the CBR was sold, and we were bike less, the first time since I had known her.  After our daughter was born, I realised I was still passionate about bikes, I recommended to here that we get a little 250, cause one day when the kids are older we will want to get some bikes, and have no licenses.

So off we went and brought a 250. I got my license about 9 months later, she got hers about 15 months later.

By this time our second child was born, I had started a business, and there seemed no time to ride bikes, hence the 250 got sold, and life  progressed on..

Five years later our second child had started school, feeling eager to get into some sort of hobby and realising I needed her to do so also, I went and brought her a brand new ZX 636. It was a great bike, I got it delivered to her on a trailer with a big red ribbon on it.

Two weeks later it was over..........the marriage that is, she wanted some one else, and she wanted to be with him ,not me.   What followed was a very bitter and long divorce, after it was over I was homeless and bike less.

I moved into a two bedroom apartment, and I had my kids every second Wednesday till Sunday, but the weekend I didn't have the kids I was going nuts. Just nothing to do. My infrastructure of friends had broken down, and I felt very much the odd one out.

Remembering how much I loved the bike, I decided that I was going get back into it, and I did.   I brought a Triumph 955i, and as they say the rest is history.  I spent every weekend that I did not have the kids riding, meeting new people, and seeing the country from a new perspective. I have never looked back, nor will I.

When I met my new partner it was a requirement that they enjoy being on the bike....thankfully that is the case.

I know that riding can be dangerous, but for me it saved my life............

After all that my x wife has become very anti bikes,  her new partner hates them and it has rubbed off on her.....oh well....not my problem any more

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Weekend that was....

I had my kids this week, but still managed to get a couple of rides in, much to my delight.

Saturday was election Day, and New Zealand went to the polls.  I did my bit and voted. Some thing I have never taken for granted, and living in a democracy it is not only my right, but I feel strongly some thing that must be done.  There is no point in complaining about government if you don't exercise you right to vote.

With that out of the way, I took Nathan for a wee ride north to Orewa.  Tricia O'Connor , who was my original instructor when starting out with the advanced riding was having a small celebration with there shop being open for one year.  It was also a good way to feed Nat some lunch because of the free sausage sizzle.!  I also just wanted to show my support to her.

Tricia shoots straight from the hip, an endearing trait, and essential when you are Teaching skills that will save peoples lives.

Sunday I was able to join IAM for there monthly ride.  Nathan had gone shopping with Terry, and Taylor...well she abandon me for her friends the night before.  Turning up at Deus X Machina, I was greeted by Geoff's beaming smile and a realisation that the cafe was in fact closed and moving....bugger really could of done with a strong coffee  this morning too.

With only two observers and 7 of us trainees there, Geoff and Phil took the new guy Matt for his first observed ride.  I think this is important, if new people come along they should always be given priority to get "checked" and into the system. You can read about Geoff's experience here..

So Mornay and the rest of us headed off for a ride to Shelly beach...out west and a place I had never been to before.  The pace set by the lead bike was slow, and I was certainly getting frustrated at our lack of "progress".   Still it was pleasant enough and having never been to Shelly beach it was yet a new place to visit.

I think Morney "sensed' my frustration and the mornings slow progress, actually "sensed" was probably an under statement.  I think my frustration was obvious to all.  He insisted I go out front and he would observe me until we got back to West gate.

I was more than happy to oblige, and set off through some twisties back to the main road, completing several overtaking manoeuvres, before stopping at Paraki for a chat.  After a brief discussion with Andy and I we set off again, during the chat the other guys had gone ahead, I caught them just a few minutes down the road.

At the debrief, Morney was generally positive, saying that both Andy and I are close to where we need to be, I was however guilty of pushing the speed.  This is some thing I am normally very conscious of, but I think the mornings frustrations had simply got the better of me.  Never the less was pleased with my progress and am eager to push on.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rogeys Gravel Rash Adventure.....

and no I didn't fall off!

This weekend I joined the Auckland Gravel Adventure Riders Group weekend away.  This was my first real opportunity to try my gravel skills.  Although gravel skills may be a tad generous and complimentary.  I mean I have watched a few YouTube videos and done the odd gravel road when out exploring, but I certainly could not say I had rack up any degree of experience.  But this was the reason I brought the GS. To see more, go to more places and expand my riding skills. 
So I headed off early on Saturday morning and turned up at the BP at Bombay, where I watched as over thirty bikes arrived.  I thought for a moment I was at a BMW rally. There were at least 15 GS800's there. A couple of 650s and a variety of other makes.  Majority of them designed for off road.  Although Josh on his CBR 600 had me wondering?

For the first part of the ride it was recommended that newbies to gravel just do the road part as Klondike Road can be a bit hairy.  So I did as I was told and rode with the guys that were just doing the road ride only. The pace was very sedate and it didnt take long for us to get to Te Akau.

Once at Te Akau we waited for the gravel guys to arrive and then a few of us joined them as we headed through some fantastic back roads to Raglan.  I will admit though the first ten Km's was a bit hairy as the gravel was thick and I wondered what the hell I got myself into. Seriously what the hell was I thinking?  After a while it smoothed out a bit and I enjoyed myself immensely riding on gravel.  I Started to have some real fun sliding the back wheel, and just relaxing into the ride.

Once in Raglan, time for lunch.  Fantastic cause I was bloody starving and it was now close to three O'clock.
Leaving Raglan we headed towards Bridal Falls and on, crossing over on to tarmac a couple of times before taking more back roads towards Kawhia.  "Roads" may be a bit of a generous term, as at times it was more of a track.  Saw some great scenery and at one time spent quite a while with no one in front and no one behind.  The little thumper was great, doing it's job perfectly and for someone like me without much experience on this type of riding it is perfect. 

From Kawhia we took yet more back tracks as we headed towards Waitomo, this was the most scenic of the day and don't ask me where I was cause I had no idea.  It was an awesome ride though.  I was wondering if we were ever gonna get there as this bit went on for ages.  Never came across a car, and the other bikes spread out a great deal.  Finally popped out onto Sh31 and it was a short ride though to Waitomo.

 It was well after six when I got to the motel.  The hot shower and cold vodka tasted as good as any thing I had ever drank before.  Mmmmmm   VODKA!

We covered around 350kms for the day, about 250 on gravel. 

The Waitomo Caves Motel put on a great buffet dinner and breakfast as well as a nights accommodation for $100.....pretty good value I must say.

Sunday we all met for breakfast at 7.30, a lot of guys had all ready left to return home,  and  had only done part of the first day.  There was just 13 of us left with three of them road riding, so just 10 remained to continue on some gravel roads.

I remained with the gravel guys, taking yet more unknown back roads to Kawhia.  It was here that I decided I had done my dash.  Yesterdays riding, coupled with a late night on the Friday, and a hell week at work was taking it's toll.  By this stage to I was the lone learner, and all the others riders were fairly experinced....well thats how it looked to me.   I headed home via some main highways before getting home just after two.

I procedded to spend the rest of the afternoon fast asleep on the couch....until the cat decided I would make a good pillow!

I throughly enjoyed my weekend.  Didnt scare my self to much, and left hungry for more adventures.

Here is a link to some YouTube Video. Raglan Gravel Bash.

Suzette.  The boss!

Before we started....clean..didnt last long though.

My Kind of road.

My grubby GS.

Josh and his CBr 600.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

7 Bikes= 7days.

So rising to Trobaritz challenge here are the seven bikes I would have in the garage if I could.

Ducati 1198 SP-Monday

Why? Cause on Monday you need a lift, and well this works for me.  Those classic Italian lines are hard to ignore.

Moto Guzzi 1200 Griso-Tuesday.

If I was gonna have a cruiser this would be it.  Just has that aggressive street style that I like, plenty of grunt, once again the Italians do it for me

Ducati Street Fighter 1198-Wednesday

Sorry Ducati again, but I just love the aggressive and gnarly attitude this bike presents.  It is naked and I like that.  I could spend hours looking at it.

BMW Gs 650 G- Thursday.

Whats not to love about this you have probably all read my reviews.  At least this one is in my garage.   Great mid week bike for a feed of fish and Chips off some deserted back road.  Just a lot of fun.

Triumph St 1050- Friday.

Well it would be miss of me not to have the ole girl in here some where.  I have come to love this bike, it's torque, its comfort , it's sound, Upgraded suspension and it is now the perfect bike....of course if I could afford one then the GT would be here tomorrow....sigh.  I have done a lot of miles on this baby, kind of feel like I was being unfaithful if I didn't add her.

BMW 1600K- Saturday

Strange but True, perfect for long mile eating Saturdays.  Still not sure how it would go on NZ roads, but hey it sure as hell looks comfy.

Vespa- PINK!- Sunday

Some times you just have to break out of that conservative mould, I have been threatening to buy a Vespa ever since Sonja got one.........reality is I don't think it would ever get used.  Still it will look great next to the Ducatis.

Of course I would need one of these......

Sunday, November 6, 2011

BMW GS650g- Bike Review

It is always difficult to review a bike, any bike for that matter.  Most bike reviews include comparisons of similar models.  In my case that is not possible.  I can only do a review on a bike in the context of why I brought it, and does it do the stuff that I purchased it for in the first place.  Of course when you have spent the money you will always be reluctant to share any negative comments you may have.

With that in mind, I shall do my best to review this bike in the most unbiased way I can.

As many of you will know my 'other" bike is the Triumph Sprint 1050 ST.  For all case and purposes this bike fulfills most of my road riding and touring requirements.  When I decided to look for a second bike, I had some clear goals and direction of what I wanted it to do.

First of all, I had no desire to get a sports bike, or for that matter another bike which is only "road" friendly.  I wanted a bike that would create opportunities for a bit more adventure and test my skills as a rider and  to ride roads that are not sports touring friendly.  It needed to be a competent road bike, but capable on gravel. It need to be light, have a decent fuel range, comfortable enough to get me to some more adventurous places, and most importantly fun to ride.  It also needed to be a bike that I would feel comfortable learning off road stuff on.

So lets start with the engine.  Why a single cylinder 650? Surely that is not going to be enough grunt after the sprint.  I did quite a bit of research on this very topic.  What I discovered was that an awful lot of adventure riders were in fact down sizing, or complementing there bigger 800 twins or 1200 GS with a smaller version.  The main argument being that the extra horse power the bigger twins and triples produce simple cannot be used off road. The 650 giving just 48Hp is all you need.  And this is completely true.  The little GS comes into it 's on off road. Easy to ride with a even and balanced supply of power which is more than sufficient.   What I have discovered is the bike is no slouch on the road.  It can be ridden hard and fast, with cornering speeds which are as qquick as the sprint.  It is extremely nimble and easy to flick through corners.   So in my view the bike is an excellent Duel Purpose bike.

Two not going to happen. I suppose it is capable but the smaller engine, and lack of torque is noticeable when carrying a pillion.  Winding on the throttle mid corner and the bike is struggling, even riding down a gear only results in the bike reving and you can still tell that the little engine is working hard to pull the extra weight.  It is not an uncomfortable ride for the pillion but the size of the seat means it is certainly a cosy fit. As with all singles there is a degree of vibration.  It is not that noticeable to me when riding it on my own, but seems more noticeable when carrying a passenger.  I doubt after the Sprint that Terry would be keen for a long trip on the GS. But then of course I am comparing apples with bananas.

The finish of the bike is excellent.  It had that typical GS look.   I like the overall look and colour scheme of it, and the addition of ABS and heated grips (which work brillantly) and centre stand as standard was a welcome bonus.  Of course you can turn the ABS off once you hit the gravel, which is essential.

The seat is semi comfortable, but not the most comfortable I have ever had.  This model can come with a lowered system which can drop the height about 40mm, but at 5'10" I find it fine.  The riding position is very up right but also comfortable.  Around town it is extremly easy bike to ride.

The 14 litre fuel tank will see you easily managing a 350km ride between fills.  It literally runs on the smell of petrol.  I am averaging around 4 litres per 100kms.

The brakes do there job well, and the ABS is a difinite bonus. 

Overall I am very happy. It is a fun bike to ride, the sound of the lawn mower engine has become addictive, the ergnomics are excellent and for off road adventures it is ideal.  It really is a hoot to ride, and I dont say that lightly. I have had more fun on this bike compared to any other bike I have owned. It is very flickable through the tightest corners, and yet confident inspiring on gravel.  This bike will satisfy the most discerning adventure rider, and is gaurenteed to bring a smile to your face. All in all I have no regrets with buying this bike. 

  • Reliable, high torque, and low consumption single-cylinder engine with 652 cc displacement.
  • Engine power 35 kW (48 hp) at 6500 rpm and maximum torque 60 Nm at 5000 rpm.
  • Tried and tested suspension concept with bridge frame and swinging arm of steel, telescopic forks, and monoshock (spring travel front 170 mm, rear 165 mm).
  • Cast light alloy wheels in new design. Diameter front 19”, rear 17”. Wider rear wheel rim for even better riding stability.
  • Stable brake system with single brake disc at front and rear and OFF/ON BMW Motorrad ABS (optional factory-fitted equipment).
  • Redesigned body scopes incl. windshield with GS moulding and two-tone seat.
  • Lean and ergonomic 14 litre tank.
  • Three different seat heights: standard 780 mm, low slung 750 mm (as optional factory-fitted equipment), high seat (black) 820 mm.
  • Sporty cockpit design with asymmetrical headlamp and instrument panel.
  • Luggage carrier with lockable storage compartment.
  • Smoky grey indicators.
  • New handlebar fittings.
  • Extensive optional factory-fitted equipment: BMW Motorrad ABS (ON/OFF), heated grips, anti-theft alarm system, centre stand, socket, low slung.
  • Extensive optional accessories with the familiarly high BMW Motorrad standards

  • You can read my 10000km review here