Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Totally off topic but who cares!  Somebody posted this video from Wings over Wairarapa on KB and I just had to share!  For the Merlin lovers!  If you don't want to watch 10 minutes of it, skip to about 7:50 for the Mosquito making it's solo passes over the airfield.  Absolutely magnificent!  Turn your speakers up!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Moto Mascot

Dar over at Princess Scooterpie has posted up this new blog challenge:
Do you have a Moto mascot for your bike or scooter? Does your bike have a name? 
Well yeah, there's someone who has been hitching a ride on the Connie for a little while now: introducing Mutley!

Simultaneously riding on a bike and a boat
Pausing momentarily at a TT2000 checkpoint
Taking time out to view the scenery
Meeting the nieces
The DL doesn't have it's own mascot but when I take it away on a decent trip I'm sure Mutley will be keen to tag along.

As for bike names?  Well, I'm pretty boring, the Concours is usually "the Connie" and the V-Strom is either "the DL" or "the Vee".

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

That new toy...

On my Wings over Wairarapa blog the other day I mentioned that the ride over to Masterton was memorable in that I got to try out Brian's latest toy.  So I thought I'd better share it with everyone - I'm sure Geoff and Troubador will approve...

2003 Speed Triple 955
After selling his VTR a while ago Brian has obviously been missing it (I still miss mine too) and decided that he needed another "fun-bike" to hoon around on and to keep his Connie for the more serious touring.  He spotted this beastie at the local bike shop and somehow or other it ended up following him home.

It's a second hand bike so it has a few little nicks and a ding in the can (Brian's already onto that and a new can is in the works).  It also has those terrible bar-end mirrors which are also probably going to go (they really are only good for getting a warrant of fitness - not for seeing anything behind you).  A rad guard (and oil-cooler guard) are on there way too.

Parked next to a truly classy machine
Anyway, I got to ride it!  So naturally hopping off the Connie and onto the Striple felt a little funny - it's just a tad smaller/lighter than the Connie...

But, straight away I was comfortable on the bike - as with a lot of naked bikes the riding position and wider handle bars always tend to be a lot more comfortable than say...a gixxer thou.  If she was mine I'd definitely ditch the mirrors and adjust the gear lever (it's just a little high) and then it'd fit nicely.

The clutch needed a decent pull but once released the bike pulled away nicely - reasonable torque and a very smooth mill.  The engine's smoothness also lends to it feeling happy to rev and pretty smartly I had gone up through the box and was managing to keep up with Brian on my Connie.  I'd have to say that the engine was kinda like a smoother Bandit 1200 (got a bit of time on a couple of those eh) but with perhaps not quite the torque.  This makes it a very easy engine to live with.  Even with it's current pipe I thought that the bike sounded lovely as you went up through the gears - soon it will speak with a bit more authority.

Barty McFarty checking out the bug-eyed monster
The brakes were very nice although I kinda grabbed a handful first time up - I think the riding position had me thinking I was on the DL with it's unimpressive front brakes.

Climbing off the Connie I also had to get my head around the Trumpy's handling.  The chassis feels really nice and tight with what feels like a front-wards (is that a word?) weight bias.  I rode the bike through to Mangamire so got to pilot it through plenty of nice tight corners and had absolutely no complaints with the handling - although I was in no way pushing things.  I'm sure it could be hustled along under the right conditions...

At the end of the road we swapped back bikes and I let Brian know that I approve of his new toy.  I'm pretty sure he's going to enjoy his time on it.

Monday, January 21, 2013

BRR Ashhurst to Apiti

Yesterday was the first BRR ride of the year and after initially starting off drizzly the weather cleared up for a very fine, clear day.  The ride planned was a pretty laid back cruise around Pohangina, Rangiwahia and Apiti and we started off with a leisurely coffee in Ashhurst.

With the promise of some recently graded gravel (dagnabbit) a few of the guys lowered their tyre pressures prior to leaving Ashhurst.  This caused our first wee stop when one of the riders discovered he'd let just a little too much air out - my little compressor soon had that sorted and while this was going on we were joined by Barry who must have had a broken watch...

Barry a little later in the day
Now that we'd increased our numbers to 6 it was time for our first bit of gravel on Pohangia Valley West Road.  This bit was in great nick and we made good time through to Makoura where we stopped to regroup.

Next we turned right for the quick trip to Pohangina Valley East Road to sample some tar before turning off onto the gravel of Umutoi North Road and Tunipo Roads.  I'd never been through here before and I have to say it was a neat ride with some good views  followed by a descent back onto Pohangina Valley East Road.  (BTW: not too much video today as I wasn't happy with the results from the mounting position I used).

Back on the tar again and instead of turning left into Apiti we turned right to take us on familiar ground to Rangiwahia via Main South Road.  Recent road works through here are slowly starting to decrease the amount of gravel you have to ride but it's still a good ride especially when dropping down into the valleys and crossing the river.  In Rangiwahia it was time for another stop for a drink of water - the temperature was definitely getting on the warm side.

A good thing we didn't need fuel...
Next up was a fairly decent stretch of tar towards Kimbolton but once again we turned off .  This time it was onto Peep O'Day Road - a road I hadn't ridden before.  Peep O'Day Road turned out to be a real gem - everywhere you looked there was a fabulous view and we even stopped a few times for pics!  I will definitely be going back here again with the GoPro mounted in a better position and make a few more picture stops too.

By now it was well after twelve and we still had a way to go to reach our lunch stop in Apiti.  We carried on taking in as much gravel as possible.  Waituna Tapuae Road, Levett Line, Mc Beth Road and Juntion Road all offered good gravel and a lot of fun!

Levett Line
Eventually we hit Apiti at around 2pm and crashed in through the doors of the pub in search of grub.  The pub did not disappoint with huge meals (and pretty cheap too), I put away my delicious venison burger but could not handle all of the chips and I didn't need dinner later either!

The last leg of the ride was to take Ridge Road, Finnis Road and Zig Zag Road back towards Colyton and home.  Leaving Apiti I had a bit of excitement when a bee hit my helmet and splattered it's innards over my cheek, there was even goop in my eye - yuck!  At a later stop I even discovered that the poor old bee was still alive when I heard a buzzing noise and took my helmet off to find his front half wedged under the edge of my visor - his last ride had been fairly exciting...

Finnis Road
The riding through these sections was a bit slower as there was a fair bit of gravel on the road and a bit of caution on the DL was needed.

Out on the tar at Valley road we parked up and said our goodbyes before splitting up to each make our way home.  The first BRR ride of the year was a goodee!

More pics here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wings over Wairarapa

So lets get this out of the way first - yesterday was outstanding!

It started with a nice quiet ride over to Masterton and the opportunity to ride Brian's new toy, an outstanding airshow and finally a quick trip home.  The only negative for the whole day was sunburn...

But the main reason for the trip was to see this beauty in action:

The only flying Mosquito in the world
This beautiful aircraft was rebuilt here in New Zealand by Avspecs for an American collector and this was the last chance for me to see her in action before she is sent stateside.

Joined by two other de Havilland products - two Vampires and a Venom
We were lucky enough to see her in action twice.  Firstly flying with the Vampires and the Venom and then later as the show ended with two Spitfires and a Mustang - Five magnificent Merlins singing for us.

The Spits and Mustang then departed to give the Mosie centre stage as she circled the airfield showing off her gorgeous lines.

And then it was time for to go

There was of course a lot more on show and it was a fantastic day's entertainment. I went crazy with the camera and if you can stand there a lot more pics here.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Success at last!

Well, I've actually been up it before but after two failed attempts (weather) I finally got up to the top of Whariti on the DL!

It was great to get the fork seal done the other day and so have the opportunity to get out and find some gravel again.  I had planned for Sunday to be my ride day but today was a pretty reasonable day (not too hot at around 25 degrees and not as windy as we have had it lately) so just before lunch I decided to go for it.  As the wind was not too bad I decided on Whariti as it's just a short ride really and that was pretty much all I was after.

Riding out to Ashhurst I did notice that there was still a reasonable amount of wind and I wondered what it was going to be like as I climbed up to the summit.  Oh well, I guess I was just going to have to find out.

After a quick lunch in Ashhurst I rode over the Saddle Road which is in very poor condition - I guess now that the gorge has reopened they've decided that they've spent enough on the Saddle - and then turned into Whariti Road to begin my climb.

After the last attempt with the BRR guys I decided that I was going to take it very carefully climbing up the hill and to be particularly careful turning any corner which brought me into an exposed area.  In the video you'll see me practically idling up the hill in places and there were definitely some sections where the wind knocked me around a bit.

But after 20 minutes of careful riding I finally popped out on top of the ranges and got to take in the views and play with my new camera.

Made it!

Exposed in the open up top, it was very windy and I was concerned that the wind was building (it possibly wasn't) so I didn't muck around too much at the top.  Coming down the hill I also had to take a lot of care - in a number of places the road is very steep and rutted and I didn't want to lock up my brakes.  Slow and steady was the motto for the day.  There was still plenty of nice views on the way down but I was too busy to take them in properly - good thing I had the GoPro with me.

Back onto the tar I decided to return the way I had come and visit the Te Apiti wind farm so I could take some photos of Whariti from below.

Whariti in the distance

From the wind farm I dropped back down towards Ashhurst and made one more stop to get a picture of the bike parked up by the river.

Pohangina River
The rest of the ride was just a quiet ride back into town and home.  Not a bad outing of around 2 hours and nearly 100km...

More pics here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Manned Missle

Okay, I've finally come down from orbit after yesterday.  Well, not quite but yesterday the DL went in to get it's pesky leaky fork seal sorted and I was forced to borrow the bike below for the 5km journey to work.  I was late, so possibly it was the right choice...

2009 GSX-R1000
For those who perhaps aren't up to date with their sports bikes, this is Suzuki's flagship sport bike and I can confirm that is indeed a rocket!

The pointy end (nobody normally gets to see this once the bike is in motion)
The guys had the bike warming up out on the road while I geared up and climbed on (or perhaps into).  Somewhat surprisingly I found everything to be in the right place so I felt that the ergonomics were not too bad.  Of course, it is a sporty riding position and it feels a little like your bum is higher than your wrists (which are somewhere down by the front axle).  The seat was the usual sports bike plank but this was not going to be a problem for me on my commute.

Snicking it into first gear and pulling away I noticed a relatively tall first gear but the bike not only makes around 180hp but also plenty of torque.  In town the change from first to second is basically at the speed limit but I discovered that you could also then go up into third and the bike did not mind burbling along with somewhere around 3,000 revs on the dial.  Down changes took me a few goes to get the hang of but this was just due to the gear lever position.

Funnily enough, every other vehicle on the road was going far too slow and I definitely had to watch my speed.  Any twitch of the throttle and the bike was off - the thing just wants to go!  Later on my way back to return the bike I did a brief excursion out onto a short stretch of open road and managed to stretch the bikes legs ever so slightly.  Actually, I probably didn't even get into the bike's mid-range as I gave it a squirt in 3rd to get past some cars.  Suffice it to say I reached somewhere around the speed limit in a blink of the eye before needing to change gear...Then I settled down for the pootle back through town.

I can't really comment on the handling as riding around town is not going to test the handling of a sports bike.  Obviously the narrower bars mean that a bit more rider effort is required but then this is just another thing that makes riding a sports bike rewarding.

So would I ever own one?  Well, as much as the engine performance is addictive, the bike just has so much more potential than I'd ever be able to use or in other words more than enough potential to get me into trouble.  Perhaps the 600 would be a better safer bet...

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

Not a bad day here today.  Got in my first ride of the New Year by heading up to the farm to catch up with nieces, nephews and others.  Also got to try out my new camera - I've got some learning to do on how to drive it but happy with it so far.

The ride itself was just a very quiet cruise (cops out for blood at the moment) which ended up giving me great economy (18.5km/l).  Very warm on the way back, all the vents in my gear open but my tongue was still pretty dry when I got off the bike.

A nice way to start the year off...