Marty’s new ZX14R

Peter Stevens showroom, Elizabeth St Melbourne. Marty with his new 2012 Kawasaki ZX14R.

Elizabeth St – ready to roll.

A couple of Marty’s pics from its maiden voyage

A couple of my shots.

Full details for the Australian delivery ZX14 HERE

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Lorne for coffee

It was a chilly 5C this morning, however, the bright sunshine and promise of warmer temps along the coast lured us out for a short ride along the GOR to Lorne, then home via Deans Marsh.

We sat out in the sunshine at a Greek cafe right by the pier.

Helmets by the bay!

As we were leaving a guy offered to take a shot of us by the ZX14

It got cloudy and cool as we wound our way up through the bush and the curves to Deans Marsh. We overtook a couple two up on a sport bike who were going extremely cautiously – I’m sure the bike’s stability was not helped by how high up the pillion was perched. As we came up behind them I actually thought the lass on the back was standing up as she was literally head and shoulders above the rider.Once we hit the Cape Otway Rd the sun came out and we enjoyed a good run home.

A familiar voice …..and flying Squirrels

Mrs Tarsnakes and I took a drive to Lorne for a coffee. After a bit of procrastinating we decided not to ride the ZX14 and drove the car as the weather forecast was fairly grim. As we pulled into town I spotted a bunch of historic motorcycles parked,and I mean really, really old bikes. Naturally we pulled in to have a look and as I walked towards them to take a couple of pics, I heard a very familiar voice – it was that of my boyhood motorcycling mentor (and hero) Tom Kingston (TK).

Tom was my Dad’s boss, and friend, when I was a young lad in my teens and he encouraged my pre-existing interest in motorcycles. To a young ‘fella he was extremely charismatic and raced motocross (scrambles in those days) and was a highly competitive club road racer as well. Actions speak louder than words, and Tom coached me in riding technique around our huge backyard on his then brand new Yamaha CT1, and even succeeded in charming my very anti-motorcycle Mum into permitting it! Later I recall accompanying him to a road race meeting that he was competing in and I was given the thrill of my young life as Tom let me ride his XS1 650 Yamaha race bike through the pits. I recall blipping it far more than necessary to make sure that everyone could hear the glorious sound from its megaphone exhausts (and see me of course!). I guess I was around 15 or 16 years of age at the time. I’m guessing that these reminiscences sound a little self indulgent, however, I can see those events in my mind as clearly as though it was yesterday.

Anyway, although a huge fan of Japanese motorcycles, TK has spent the last few years restoring a 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel. When I last saw this bike 4 years ago it was a pile of rusty bits that I thought were completely beyond restoration. What has been achieved with this restoration is a great credit to TK. He is a member of the Antique Motorcycle Club of Australia. All bikes must be pre Dec 31st 1930.

Tom with his Scott

Exposed valve gear on this 1920’s motorcycle. I’m not sure what bran it is, but TK told me is was a late 1920’s model.

Another Flying Squirrel . There were 1928,1929 & 1930 models represented in the group!

A lesson that TK taught me around 40 years ago was that good motorcycle control was achieved by getting your feet up on the pegs as soon as moving and looking ahead. Control of the motorcycle was characterised by little need to ‘dab’ once moving. Now take a look at the following video clip, keep in mind that Tom is 73 years of age, riding a hand gear change vintage motorcycle, and note the bike control – even whilst giving way at the roundabout.

Tom aboard the 1930 Scott Flying Squirrel

These guys must have ridden from Lorne up through the twisties to Deans Marsh and then back towards Geelong on the Cape Otway Road. We chanced upon them later in the afternoon and Mrs T took a few shots from the car window.

Keep in mind that these enthusiasts were out riding 70 & 80 plus year old motorcycles in 10C-13C temps, shame on us for taking the comfort of the car!

Some more high resolution pics HERE

Damp day in the Otway Ranges

Marty and I headed for the hills for a short ride last Sunday, 21May. It was around 8C and dry when we left Geelong and remained so for most of the ride.

Our first stop was at the Gellibrand store where a friendly greeting from Maria,a mug of hot chocolate and a chat with some nice folk from the Colac Ulysses club made for a very pleasant stop.

However, around Beech Forest the temp dropped even more.Along Turton’s Track the road was particularly greasy with lots of wet bark and leaf litter on the pavement. It was pretty obvious there had been significant rain overnight up there. I was glad to have new tyres with plenty of tread on them!

By the time we joined the Apollo Bay – Colac road there was a long line of slow cars ahead, so we pulled into the West Barwon dam lookout.

The brewery cafe at Forrest was stacked out so we headed back to Colac for lunch, then dropped in on Steve from 79 x 100 blog and inspected his latest Norton resto project.

I asked Steve if I could have a look at Heidi’s old bike which is stored here. Heidi is a friend who travelled solo around much of the world some years ago, including places like Iran and Turkey etc . This bike has been sandblasted by desert storms and ridden all day in searing temperatures.

The Funduro has well in excess of 100,000 kms on it and has never had any engine repairs. That Rotax motor seems indestructable!  Heidi is now travelleing through Africa with her husband Jens on diesel powered Enfields.Some great pics on their blog Dieselbike in Africa

From there it was a quick sprint along Hwy 1 back to Geelong.

Pilot Road 2CT again

I’ve followed the lead from Chillertek over at The Road to Nowhere blog and had some new tyres fitted. I was very satisfied with the Michelin Pilot Road 2′s that I had fitted at around 2,000kms to replace the disgraceful old school OEM Bridgestones that the Kwaka came with. Well 9,400kms later they still had just a little tread left, especially the front, maybe just enough for the rear to top the 10K kms with, but after my ride in the rain last Saturday I decided to get them changed. I think it’s great that a tyre with so much grip can last so long on a 250+ kg bike. I bought these online ages ago from the USA when the Aus dollar was running at $1.10 against the US dollar. I think that we are getting shafted buying locally when a pair of the Michelins delivered to my door from the US cost the same as the retail price of a single rear tyre here in Oz.

I also had some lovely 90 degree Ariete valve stems fitted. I had these on the VFR800 and they make life so much easier for checking tyre pressures.

I also learnt something interesting, namely how to check the manufacture date of a tyres. Amongst the series of letters on the side of the tyre after the ‘DOT’ is a panel with 4 numbers. The first two numbers indicate the week of the year the tyre was manufactured and the second two numbers indicate the year of manufacture. So the tyre in the pic below was made in the 14th week of 2011.

All set for a ride now!

One of her favorite places

I had no expectation of riding today as the forecast was for a blast of wintery weather, however, it was cold but sunny when I awoke, so I decided on a quick spin. I headed from Geelong down towards Colac via Birregurra. Although I was riding in sunshine I could see heavy rain over towards the Otways, so thought that heading east might be a good plan.

By the time I got to Beeac there was a wall of black cloud ahead! Damn, so I turned towards the north to do another few kms before returning home. This took me to the tiny township where my mother was born, so I headed up to nearby Red Rock, which was one of her favorite places. It’s an extinct volcanic region and the last eruption here was thought to be 4,500 years ago.

Many years ago we took Mum for a birthday picnic here, (her first choice of venue) but it was so hot and the flies so thick we had to beat a hasty retreat to Loves Creek picnic reserve, some distance away.

It’s very rich volcanic soil around here. Dairy farming is the main form of farming in these parts, though there’s a newish vineyard at the turn off to Red Rock.

ZX14 at the top of one of the two lookouts here.

A big rain squall was approaching. That’s a volcanic crater to the left of the pic and a huge inland salt lake in the distance. Lake Corangamite.

Volcanic domes

My mother told me that when she was a little girl they used to roam all around this countryside, and sometimes walk over to Red Red to watch motorcycles racing between these two volcanic cones. I haven’t done any research about these daredevils but probably should!

I couldn’t take any more pics as the rain squall hit and I rode off in pouring rain. Lots of memories came flooding back as I rode in solitude past Doran’s Lane and the school my Mum attended as a child. This unexpected ride to Red Rock proved quite evocative.

All Brit Rally – as seen in Maldon Vic

The major event each year for the BSA owners’ association is the “All Brit” rally at Newstead, Victoria. Our mates Steve & Andy are attending for the weekend (camping at the main rally site in Newstead) and we caught up with them in the nearby historic town of Maldon. It was an incredible sight with the whole main street lined on both sides with old motorcycles. I saw more Vincent HRDs today than I’ve ever seen before in my life, including a HRD in a Featherbed Norton frame ( a Norvin) and a HRD in a 1970′s Ducati frame (a Vincati?). Here are a few shots. Unfortunately I accidentally switched my camera from auto to manual but didn’t do any manual settings, so consequently about 30 shots were unusable.

Looking down the main street.

Andy’s unrestored Panther 350cc attracted plenty of interest.

Vincents a plenty! This one is a Norvin.

With sidecar

Lets have a look at some Nortons.

AJS single looked lovely

 

Rocket 3

Mrs T & Steve

We had a great run home and the ZX14 performed flawlessly. The weather forecast for the coast was not good but it didn’t rain though there were very strong side wind for the last 30kms.

Full gallery of pics HERE