I Ride To Rediscover The Part Of Myself Lost To Just "Existing".

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You Gotta’ Keep ‘Em Separated

G’day

What do you use to charge your mobile phone or other gadget when you’re out tearing up the highways?

I’ll bet that unless you’re riding a ‘Wing, BMW tourer or some other such (ahem) refined piece of machinery, you probably have to find some truck-stop or hotel where you can plug said gadget into the nearest available power-point.

This is all well and good, but what happens you’re caught unawares. Say you’re GPS battery expires, and you are hopelessly lost in the Simpson Desert or some other similar desolate place.

OK that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point…

3brpowersports01

TAPP™ 2.1Amp Weatherproof USB Power Port

I thought about this a while back, and decided that some sort of charging receptacle would be a handy addition to Bluey. So I went on the hunt for a USB charge point I could mount to Blueys’ ‘bars. After much Googling I came up with the TAPP™ 2.1Amp Weatherproof USB Power Port from 3BR Powersports

The Power Port allows me to put my phone or other gadget in my tank bag and charge while I’m riding. Any excess charge cable can be poked into the bag and it doesn’t interfere with steering in any way.

Out of the box you can connect the black lead of the Power Port to the negative terminal of your battery and the red (fused) lead to the positive terminal of your battery and viola! That’s it, you can charge gadgets to your heart’s content.

Now, I don’t know about you, but connecting something directly to the battery in an “always on” state, doesn’t sit well with me. Sure there’s a fuse in line, but what happens if gremlins get in there and decide to deflate your battery, or worse, create sparkle-arkles ?

So I decided to install a separate circuit for my accessories. This separate circuit does two things:

  1. The circuit is turned on and off with the ignition.
  2. It keeps any aftermarket accessories away from the main wiring loom preventing OEM smoke mixing with accessories smoke.

Now, I’m not even close to being as talented as the bloke that pulls the wires for an electrician. So if you decide to have a crack at replicating what I have done here, and manufacturers smoke escapes from some hard-to-get component on your bike; you’re on your own.

Likewise, getting said manufacturers smoke back in to what ever component it escaped from is on you as well. If you have any doubts about your abilities when it comes to working on your bike, electrical or otherwise, please find someone to help you.

Better still get them to point and explain what needs to be done, and you do it… it’s best way to learn.

So let’s get started. First of all you’ll need some bits and pieces:

  • 1 off Weatherproof USB Power Port, or other gadget you want to install.
  • 1m (3′) 25 Amp DC Auto Power Cable – Black (or white in my case)
  • 1m (3′) 25 Amp DC Auto Power Cable – Red
  • 1 off Automotive Fused Relay – SPST 30A
  • 1 pack – Fully Insulated Female Spade (for connecting to the relay terminals)
  • 1 off 30 Amp 12-way Screw Terminal Strip
  • 1 pack eyelets
  • Heat shrink or electrical tape
  • Cable ties
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Base Schematic Courtesy Canyon Chasers. Doctored by Experimental Ghost

Allow me to walk you through the schematic above.

  1. Connect terminal 87 to the positive side of you battery, use an eyelet to make the connection, don’t just wrap the wire around the bolt. Note that if you use the relay that I have nominated above, you will not need the inline fuse shown in the schematic. Try and keep the lead as short as possible and away from moving parts. I’d recommend you double insulate this wire with some heat shrink.
  2. Using and eyelet, connect terminal 86 directly to the chassis of your bike. Connect it to any nearby bolt or screw. As long as it’s metal you should have a good connection back to the negative terminal of your battery. Again try to keep the lead as short as possible. Double insulating is not necessary.
  3. Keeping the wire as short as possible, loop some red wire between each terminal screw on one side of the terminal block, then connect the last terminal back to pin 30 on your relay. This is now your distribution block.
  4. Pin 85 on the relay can be connected to the positive side of your tail light, number plate light or any other item that is switched with the ignition. Do not use a splice connector when doing this, soldering the wires together is by far a stronger joint. Don’t forget to insulate any bare wires with heat shrink or electrical tape.
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Looped Wires Between Each Terminal

Using this method, the OEM wiring loom is not changed in any way, other than splicing into the trigger line. The trigger line supplies a very small amount of current to trigger the relay, maybe 1/4 amp (250 ma) at most.

When the relay triggers, it will draw current from the battery and provide up to a total of 30 amps (or whatever your fuse and relay are rated at) to your accessories. This could include driving lights, horns, GPS etc. As long as the total current rating for the relay and fuse is not exceeded, your circuit will happily power your accessories without affecting the OEM circuit in any way.

Don’t forget, bike batteries are tiny compared to a cars, so don’t go trying to power your camp fridge from your little circuit ;-)

Note that when connecting your accessories, you only need to connect the positive lead back to the unused side of the distribution block. The negative lead can be connected to any nearby bolt or screw on your chassis. The circuit will be completed via the chassis.

I recommend running an additional fuse between your gadget and the positive side of the terminal block for added protection against any short-circuit. This will also make it easier to trace a fault. If the small (say 2 amp)  inline fuse blows, the problem lies between the terminal block and the gadget. If the larger 30 amp fuse blows on the relay, the problem is between the distribution block and the battery.

Using The Method Described I have 12 Connection Points For Accessories - Note The Earth Wire Connected To The Bolt

Using The Method Described, I Have 12 Connection Points Available For Accessories – Note The White Earth Wire Connected To The Bolt

Relay Location

Under Seat Relay Location

My distribution block is located under one of the side covers, the relay is under the seat and sits between the ECU and the chassis rail. A couple of cable ties were added after the photo above was taken to hold it all in place .

I know there are commercially made distribution block and relay devices available, but they cost a small fortune. Done correctly and with some care, this method is every bit as good and much cheaper.

If you don’t want to buy a dedicated USB charge point like I did, you can buy a marine grade 12 volt accessory point (we called them in-car cigarette lighters in the old days) and use your standard phone car charger instead. The only problem with this, is it’s not water proof when in use.

I have a ciggy lighter on my bike as well,  it’s handy for when I need to inflate a tyre or plug-in a lead light for on the fly repairs on the side of the road.

Cheers

Getting Out Of Dodge

G’day

Details are starting to emerge about security arrangements planned for the G20 Talk-Fest to be held in Brisbane during the third weekend in November.

As more information is being released, it is becoming abundantly clear that moving around the city is going to be a right royal pain in the backside for a lot of Brisbane-ites in the week leading up to and during the event, with most of the city and surrounds being made a “Declared Zone”

What exactly is a “Declared Zone” ?

Is that where everyone dresses in their Gone With The Wind costumes shouting “I do declare!” ?

Hmm… Not likely.

Anyway, the Queensland guv’mint has gazetted a public holiday for November 14. So The Pillion and I have decided to get out of Dodge for the duration. Of course, we’ll be taking the bike.

Roadtripper Screen Grab

Roadtrippers Screen Grab

So I’ve spent the last few weeks trolling the internet searching for, and booking, accommodation for our adventure. We know where we want to stop, but not exactly how to get there. That’s probably not a bad thing, who knows, we might stumble on a few interesting places… or get hopelessly lost.

While I was in the throes of planning our trip using Google Maps, I was listening to an episode of the Law Abiding Biker podcast when one of the presenters mentioned a mapping and trip planning website called Roadtrippers. So being the stickybeak* that I am, I went and had a poke around said website, even though I was quite happy using Google Maps to plan our trip.

From initial perusal, Roadtrippers appears to be based on Google Maps; What isn’t these days?

The similarity ends their though, because it offers additional functionality that could be handy for people planning a road trip. Like me :-D

It allows you to plug-in way-points for your journey, much like Google Maps, and from this it will calculate travel time and distance in either miles or kilometres, just like Google Maps.

What makes this site different is that you can turn on places of interest (POI’s) like national parks, scenic lookouts, cafés, restaurants, entertainment, accommodation and camping etc that may lie on, or near, your proposed route.

By selecting POI’s, the route is adjusted and the distance and travel time is recalculated. BUT. Only the POI’s that are within a user defined band are presented to you, so you wont be overwhelmed with irrelevant information that’s out beyond the black stump*.

Let me explain.

Say you were heading north up the Bruce Highway from Brisbane to Rockhampton. Like in the screen grab above.

You set your way-points and then set a zone up to 50km (30 miles) wide. A pink band will appear and places of interest will populate within that band. So instead of travelling from Brisbane to Rockhampton and relying on tourist signs along the way to find places of interest, you can pre-determine POI’s by clicking on attractions that lie within the band you have set, and add them to your itinerary.

There are several variables that can be set when you save your trip too.

Besides naming your trip and giving it a short description, you can choose to make your trip discoverable (public), select between petrol or diesel, select miles or kilometres and enter your fuel economy in miles per gallon or litres per kilometre. The fuel economy feature is handy in that Roadtrippers tries to estimate your total fuel cost for your trip.

For me, the fuel cost estimate was way shy of the mark. In Australia we pay anywhere from $1.40 to $1.70 a litre for 91 RON depending on where we are in the price cycle. More if you’re in the outback and even more if you fill up with 95 or 98 RON.

Unfortunately at time of writing I cannot find a way to alter the per litre (or gallon) fuel price so that it more accurately estimates the total fuel cost for the trip.  In time, perhaps the makers of Roadtrippers will add this functionality to their coding to support this option.

One neat little feature that I like, is that you can share your trip with your friends via a link. Here, I’ll show you what I mean, here.

Once you’ve had a poke around the itinerary, clear it and have a play with the Brisbane to Rockhampton map. Have read of the explore dialogue box. Once you have done that clear it to access the option icons on the top left and adjust the “Miles From Route” slider to get a feel of how it all works.

From the website:

Roadtrippers is currently perfectly equipped to help you plan a USA road trip, such as Route 66 or a Canada road trip. European road trips, Australian road trips, and other countries are coming soon!

Although the makers of Roadtrippers say it’s only good for the United States at this time, I’ve used it to plan our little junket. It offered more options and has more functionality than Google Maps, and I can sync it to my phone for turn-by-turn-navigation if I want to. Both iPhone and Android are supported.

Android Screen Grabs

Android Screen Grabs

Roadtrippers has been around since July 2011, and is still in development. From what I have seen and used so far, the software looks promising. The makers take on board user requests, and updates appear to be regular.

Maybe you can use it to plan your trips. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

Oh, and what do I think about the G20 Talk-Fest?

Frankly, I don’t give a damn. (Says he, in his best Clarke Gable voice)

Cheers

  • Law Abiding Biker Podcast website: Click here
  • Roadtrippers website: Click here
  • Stickybeak: An inquisitive person.
  • Black Stump: An imaginary point beyond which the country is considered remote or uncivilised.

Contemplating A Resto.

G’day

When I was a young bloke, my parents forbid me to have a bike unless it was a 10 speed Malvern Star.

I respected this while I lived at home. I didn’t have a choice. Once I was out on my own though, I bought a bike. OK, so it came in a couple of milk crates and a few cardboard boxes but I had a bike none-the-less

You can read about it here if you like.

I’d be a hypocrite if I imposed the same rules on my kids. After all, I was riding before my kids were born, and they’ve been brought up with motorcycling and the motorcycle community all their lives. So it’s inevitable that one, or all of them, might decide to ride some day.

I realised the other day that day might be getting closer; After the Australian Historic Road Race Championships, “The Bar Tender” mentioned he’d like to restore an old bike before he gets his RE bike licence, sort of following what I did all those years ago.

I listened to his proposal, but didn’t say much thinking it was a teenage spur of the moment comment.

This was until a few days ago when he raised the topic again.

Now, I’ve got nothing against him restoring a bike, in fact I’d encourage anyone who wants to ride to do it. It’s the best way to get to know your machine and gain some basic understanding of how it works. The Pillion however, is a little upset that she is going to lose her garage for an extended period of time… again.

There will be restrictions on what he can restore, and I hasten to add the restrictions are not mine. It doesn’t matter if he holds a provisional licence or on an open class car licence, he will be restricted to a LAMS* class bike for 12 months. Then he will have to re-sit the whole process again to gain an open R class bike licence. So the whole process will take him a couple of years at least, assuming of course he wants to ride something non-LAMS.

I asked what bike he had in mind. He shrugged and said he had no idea. It would be a naked bike though, because insurance on a fully fared bike for an inexperienced rider would be crippling.

The options he has are endless, there are a few things he might want to consider though:

  • Age – how far back does he want to go? The further back the more work involved and the parts might be harder to get.
  • 1, 2 or 4 cylinder.
  • Cruiser, commuter or adventure
  • Japanese or… not
  • Capacity. He can go to 660 but has to stay within the power to weight restrictions.

Maybe…

This Was My Brother In aws Bike

This Was My Brother-In-Laws Bike in 2005

I also thought an early (say 2003) SV 650 S Suzuki would suit, but they don’t meet the LAMS criteria. There are a few Ducati on the LAMS list as well, including some Monsters (No boogeymen) and a 600 Pantah of all things.

All this talk about bike restoration got me thinking, what bike would I restore if I had the opportunity?

Yamaha TRX 850

Yamaha TRX 850

I’ve considered this in the past and thought a Yamaha TRX-850 would be a good candidate.

They can be picked up fairly cheaply, parts are readily available and the parallel twin engines have a nice beat to them, closely mimicking Ducati V-twins. There are heaps of aftermarket custom bits available and they respond well to some massaging.

I have to admit I’m not a fan of the fairing though.

Failing that a first generation ZRX 1100 Kawasaki.

What bike would you suggest for The Bar Tender to consider?

Cheers

  • Provisional Licence: New drivers hold a red provisional licence for 12 months, followed by a further 24 months on their green provisional licence before they progress to an open licence. Provisional drivers have restrictions  like carrying  passengers and the type of car they can drive, V8’s and turbo vehicles are prohibited.
  • LAMS: Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme
    • A learner approved motorcycle is a production motorcycle that is fitted with an electric motor, or has an internal combustion engine with a capacity of not more than 660mL, and:
      • a power-to-weight ratio that does not exceed 150 kW/t (200hp/t)
      • has not been modified other than for an allowable modification
      • is included on the LAM Scheme list of approved motorcycles.

Lakeside LIVES!

G’day

Inhale…

Ah… I love the smell of a two-stroke in the morning.

After more than 12 years, the Queensland Early Motorcycle Sports Club (QEMSC) secured the Motorcycling Australia track license needed to host a sanctioned race at Lakeside Park (Formerly Lakeside International Raceway).

The 2014 Australian Historic Road Race Championships.

50THANNIVERSARY

The build up to last weekends racing was encouraging, with over 340 bikes entered. Bikes ranged from Indians with suicide shifts, though to modern era classics, as well as 38 sidecars: Which from all reports, has come close to breaking the Australian record for sidecar entries in a historic road race championship.

Word from QEMSC is the event was over subscribed, with reserves eagerly waiting for a last-minute call up.

Lakeside-002

There were some really nice bikes at the event with some rare examples coming out to play at a track that was once Australia’s favorite. All of the 120 pit bays were booked, with the overflow spilling into the paddock.

Track Runs Clockwise

Track Runs Clockwise

Motorcycling Australia modified a part of the track affectionately known as the Bus-Stop, effectively moving the turn in point east. This creates a slow point before heading under the bridge and on to Hungry Corner.

Many spectators, including me were bewildered as to why Motorcycling Australia moved/ changed the Bus-Stop from its old configuration.

Because of this “modification”, I now have a new respect for riders with suicide shifts. Seeing those guys gear down on the approach to the New Bus-Stop is something to behold.

They have some serious skill and cojones the size of basket balls!

Previously riders would exit the Karrassel onto a short up hill straight, then turn left into the Old Bus-Stop, through the esses and onto Hungry Corner.

Now the bikes continue past the Old Bus-Stop and take a sharp left right flip-flop (Noted as “New Bus-Stop” on the map) before continuing on to Hungry Corner.

If the change was meant to stop bikes pulling wheelies down the back part of the course and under the bridge, it didn’t work .

What it does do, is cause a bottleneck just before the New Bus-Stop, plus bikes exiting the flip-flop have to feather their clutch to get going again. This in turn causes problems for the following riders, in that they need to take care not to run up the back of the rider in front.

Yes, it really does wash off that much speed, it’s a very sharp, narrow pair of corners. Fortunately, the side cars don’t have to negotiate this abomination.

Can you imagine the carnage if they did?

I’m sure there is some “safety” reasoning for the change, but I really hope that who-ever invented this slow point reconsiders. It really does look, and probably is, more dangerous than the previous configuration.

Be that as it may, it was a great weekend of racing with a fantastic atmosphere. Everyone I spoke to hopes that this is the first of many events to return to Lakeside.

I’ll leave you with a few happy snaps from the weekend.

Cheers

The Worlds Fastest Single Cylinder Motorcycle 295.112km/h (183.347mph)

The Worlds Fastest Single Cylinder Motorcycle 295.112 km/h (183.347 mph) Set at Lake Gairdner South Australia in 2013

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Rain, Hail & Shine.

G’day

I guess I’m one of the lucky ones, I mean, living in the sub-tropics I can ride all year round.

It can get cool in winter, with some mornings getting down to -5°C (23°F) out towards the west of Brisbane, but usually it only gets down to 1°C or 2°C (34°F to 36°F) and once the sun starts to climb, the days can top out at a balmy 23°C (73°F).

Winter is also dry, with the average rainfall being around 125mm (5″). So l really have no excuse when it comes to going out for a ride. We actually got a couple of millimeters less than the average this winter, and it all came in the last two weeks of August.

Brisbane – Story Bridge, August 2014 Rains

My favorite time of year has to be spring.

Spring is the time of year when the mornings are brisk and the days are warm, but not so warm that you need to carry endless amounts of water with you. There is a problem with spring though, it signals the first storms that in the lead up to the wet season.

Brisbane, Queensland Australia (Photo Credit: Mike Slough)

The storms usually turn up in the first or second week of October, which is when the temperature starts to creep up.

They’re usually short-lived, lasting anything from 10 to 30 minutes. They can be destructive though, with high winds, heavy rain and hail – and they almost always hit at the same time as I start my commute home between 16:00 – 1700 AEST*.

The spring storms are just a taste of what is to follow.

December 1st marks the start of summer and the wet season. The wet season is usually in full swing by the beginning of January and runs through to early March. Average rainfall for Brisbane over summer is around 450mm (18″). Last summer we got 572mm (22-1/2″).

It’s not all rain though. Summer can get up to 45°C (114°F) if it tries hard enough. The average day time temperature is more like 30°C (86°F), with 70% humidity. Team that with a UV index in the extreme range and you can see that riding can become uncomfortable if you’re an ATGATT* rider.

Plenty of water and sunscreen are a must if you plan on doing any sort of riding during summer.

Most of the following photos were taken over the summer of 2013/ 2014 and were posted to my various social media pages during the course of this year. All of these locations are less than 3 hours easy ride from Brisbane, depending on which route you take

This is what I’m looking forward to over the next six months… but not the storms.

Cheers

Griffin, Queensland Australia

Hays Inlet, Queensland Australia

Witta, Queensland Australia

Witta, Queensland Australia (Photo Credit Kristin M)

Peachester, Queensland Australia

Peachester, Queensland Australia

Lake Wivenhoe, Queensland Australia

Lake Wivenhoe, Queensland Australia (Photo Credit Susan C)

Crows Nest, Queensland Australia

Crows Nest, Queensland Australia

Mt. Mee, Queensland Australia

Mt. Mee, Queensland Australia

Mt. Mee, Queensland Australia

Mt. Mee, Queensland Australia

The Spit, Somerset Dam, Queensland Australia

The Spit, Somerset Dam, Queensland Australia

  • AEST: Australian Eastern Standard Time.
  • ATGATT: All The Gear All The Time.

Donuts

G’day

When I bought Bluey, she was shod with factory fitted Dunlop Sportmax front and rear.

I never liked the factory rubber and if I’m honest the Dunlops never inspired a lot of confidence, factory rubber can be like that. The Dunlops seemed to wallow through corners and occasionally the rear would step out. This is fine riding alone, fun even, but scared the tripe out of The Pillion.

At first I thought I had the pressures or suspension settings all messed up, but after weeks of fiddling there was little if any improvement. I managed to pull 5000km (3100 miles) from those tyres before replacing them.

Before I changed them up, I did a bit of research through forums and online articles. Everything pointed to either the Pirelli Angel GT or the Michelin Pilot Road 3. Both boasted impressive figures for performance, grip and mileage. The opinion was split on which was the better tyre.

I’d never run either Pirelli or Michelin before. Previously I’d run either Bridgstone or Yokohama. Both are good tyres but are more suited to sports bikes than sports touring.

Michelin Pilot Road 3 ( Photo Courtesy Michelin)

Michelin Pilot Road 3 (Photo Courtesy Michelin)

In the end I fitted Pilot Road 3’s.

The first thing I noticed after the initial scrub in period was that the bike no longer wallowed or stepped out mid corner. The second thing I noticed was that dry, and particularly wet weather grip, was much improved. No doubt you have heard or read about other benefits too, so I wont rehash them here.

Suffice to say the PR3 is an excellent tyre

One of the complaints with the PR3 was that under aggressive riding and braking, the treads would cup or wear on the edges. I didn’t notice this until the tyre was nearing end of usefulness. It manifested itself as a type of knobbly tyre effect like you get on dirt bikes. Not as severe but noticeable at low speeds and on smooth surfaces like you’d find in shopping centre undercover car parks.

Michelin Pilot Road 4 (Photo Courtesy Michelin)

Michelin Pilot Road 4 (Photo Courtesy Michelin)

A couple of weeks ago I replaced the front tyre after 21,500 km (13, 350 miles). Again I went for the Michelin. I was given the choice to go for the Pilot Road 3 again, or upgrade to the Pilot Road 4.

I decided on the Pilot Road 4.

The first thing I noticed was that the tread pattern has changed. I have no clue what difference it makes other than the claims made by Michelin that it has reduced or eliminated the cupping the PR3’s suffered, that there is a 20% increase in tyre life and an improvement in overall grip.

After 1000km (600 miles) I can say the PR4 is no worse than the PR3. Turn-in is neutral, and the tyre certainly makes the bike feel planted, which in turn allows me to ride confidently. The only thing I have noticed is the tyre is noisier than its predecessor. This may change as it wears. We’ll see.

I haven’t replace the rear as yet ,and don’t expect to until late October (at a guess). If it pans out that way, the rear will have done around  24,000km (15,000 miles) give or take a bit.

Not bad for a set of tyres that do 50-50 city/ country duty in all conditions…. except snow ;-)

Cheers.

I’m Not Stickin’ My Hand In There!

G’day

When I started riding last century, I was advised that I should always wear gloves. Like a typical newbie, I shrugged this off “pffft I don’t need no stinkin’ gloves”.

Yeah right!

The first summer storm soon sorted that out. Those rain drops felt like needles on the back of my hands at 1ookm/h (60mp/h) and hail made me look for the nearest bridge to hide under.

So off I trundled to my local Motorcycle Emporium to invest in my first pair of gloves. Eventually settling on a pair of RIVET long gauntlet thick looking things (yes I still have them after all this time). These gloves had the added benefit of being hot in summer, cold in winter and waterlogged for days after an expedition in the rain.

My First Gloves

My First Gloves

To try to counteract the cold during winter I wore finger-less woolen things under them. This method worked great for the backs of my hands, but didn’t do much for the finger tips.

Often I’d arrive at my destination and have to slide my hands sideways off the ‘bars, then I’d try to prise my fingers open as I walked into where-ever I was going, in search of the nearest heater to thaw out my hands.

These Worked Well... Except For The Findertips

These Worked Well… Except For The Finger Tips

I eventually invested in some short gauntlet, thin leather summer gloves that were made in India. They were a pretty blue colour. I knew this because every-time they got wet my hands would turn blue from the dye they’d used.

These gloves got a bit of a workout in 2000 when I put a stone chip in the side of a Mitsubishi Colt. Even though they were thin and offered just a smidgen over no protection at all, they helped break my fall and saved the palms of my hands from abrasions.

OK. So These Aren't The Gloves But You Get The Picture :-)

OK. So These Aren’t The Gloves, But You Get The Picture :-)

With the money I got from the insurance on the bike, I went out and bought a Kawasaki ZZR-1100 (D4), a new Shoei RF-900 lid and a pair of DRY RIDER Gloves. I still wore the blue gloves for a few years after that.

The ZZR-1100. Great BIke.

My ZZR-1100. Great BIke.

The DRY RIDERS have lasted me for ages. They are Kevlar* lined, warm because of the Thinsulate* lining, and have this neat terry towelling thing on the index finger for wiping the rain off your visor. They are not waterproof but they dry out over night, which is a big improvement over the REVIT gloves I’d been wearing.

Loved These Gloves... Pity the Index & Middle Finger Tips On My Left Hand Wore Through

Loved These Gloves… Pity the Index & Middle Finger Tips On My Left Hand Wore Through

Last summer I bought some no name short gauntlet perforated gloves from the local markets. They’re thin and have knuckle protection but little else. They are great for getting a tan between where my jacket stops and the gloves start. Sunscreen helps, but I forget to apply it most of the time so I get this tanned strip of skin on my wrist.

People must think I’ve missed a bit when I was having a wash or something.

Not Much Protection With These, But They Look Cool

Not Much Protection With These, But They Look Cool

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to replace my old DRY RIDERS. The tips of the index and middle finger had worn through on the left hand and the rubber bits on the knuckles were starting to get flakey. The prerequisite was that they had to have Kelvar and Thinsulate as a minimum, and they also had to be reasonably priced.

I’d read about gloves made by a company called FIVE. I’d never heard of them before, but Adrian at the local Motorcycle Emporium assured me these were the most comfortable and best value for money gloves around.

For me they ticked all the boxes:

  • Kevlar lined – CHECK
  • Thinsulate – CHECK
  • Terry towelling wipey thingy for the visor – CHECK
  • Knucke protection – CHECK
  • Palm protection – CHECK
  • Supple (but not weak) leather – CHECK
  • Water proof – You Betcha!
FIVE - Short Winter Gloves

FIVE – Short Winter Gloves

See the last dot point?

The unique thing about these gloves is that FIVE claim that they are completely water proof. They have this wide water resistant elastic section that’s sewn into the glove and grips your wrist to prevent water flowing down your jacket and into your glove plus they have this beaut lining that is impirv… impervyo… damn it, resistant to water.

I took this claim with a grain of salt, because in my experience nothing is waterproof, especially if its wind-blown.

But! After the several days of riding to work in the rain over the last few weeks, I can attest that they are indeed waterproof.

The gloves are well made, and of high quality. The only problem I’m having with them, and this is a breaking in period thing you understand, is that I have a very wide palm, so they are a little difficult to get on initially.

Going up a size fixes that problem, but then the fingers are about 25mm (1 inch) too long. The more I wear them, the more they are freeing up, so the difficulty I’m having getting them on is a short-term problem I think.

So what should you look for in a glove?

It is very much personal preference. The brand is not important, but I would recommend at least Kevlar lining, knuckle and palm protection as a minimum.

Just a word on the terry towelling wipey thingy.

The DRY RIDERS had it on the index finger, whereas the FIVE gloves have it on the back of the thumb. Both methods work, but I find the back of the thumb easier to use.

As the Yanks say “You’re mileage may vary.”

Cheers

  • Kevlar: a synthetic fibre of high tensile strength used especially as a reinforcing agent in the manufacture various products.
  • Thinsulatesynthetic fiber thermal insulation used in clothing.

We’re All Pink In The Middle.

G’day

When I was younger (before bikes), people and small dogs would cross to the other side of the street to avoid walking past me. At first I thought it was my cologne, but soon realised that couldn’t be it… I wasn’t wearing any.

Maybe it was my hair cut. Flat tops were all the go back in the day you know.

Thinking back, I can understand how seeing a tall, heavy-set bloke that doesn’t smile (much) coming towards you, might make some people a bit uneasy.

At times, how I looked was a downright hindrance. It took me ages to get close to The Pillion, let alone talk to her.

Once we started to talk though, she must have seen qualities in me that few people dug deep enough to find, and I love her for that.

At other times though, that hard look had its advantages.

There was this one time I was driving home from Penrith. A blue Holden Kingswood, like the one in the photo, was following me. The driver decided tailgating me would be fun, and his two mates thought yelling at me out the window was acceptable behavior.

HJ Holden Kingswood (Photo Courtesy Holden)

HJ Holden Kingswood (Photo Courtesy Holden)

They were trying really hard to get me to pull over. That was never going to happen, and I managed to shake the Kingswood and it’s occupants a few streets from home.

I thought all was roses as I pulled into my driveway and was still sitting in my car wondering what had just happened, when the Kingswood pulled up outside my house.

The three stooges all got out of their car and started shouting and carrying on like wankers*. I didn’t know them, I’d never seen them around before and I had no idea why they had singled me out. Which was unusual because at that time I was involved with the drag racing scene out at Castlereagh drags, and knew most of the modified cars in the area.

I opened the door and stepped out of my car. I stood looking at them for a minute considering my options, finally deciding bluffing was going to be my best defence.

I took a deep breath and steeled myself before moving towards the back of my car to discuss the matter at a safe distance.

After a heated exchange and some sabre rattling on my part, the bluff worked. They reconsidered their surroundings, and did the bolt.

Violence averted.

Just as well too, because I don’t think the odds were in my favour, and I was pack’n it*!

Mr T (Photo Credit: comicbookresources.com)

Mr T (Photo Credit: comicbookresources.com)

If you’re reading this blog you have an intrest in motorcycles or maybe some counter culture, and in your travels you would have met people who look and/ or act differently.

Anything from Harley riding blokes with long hair, beards and tattoos, to Dainese wearing sport bike riders, to colour coordinated touring couples with the mandatory trailer in tow behind their GoldWing , to scooter riders with tattoos and beards… well maybe sipping a latte at least.

Can you see what I’ve done here?

Stereotyping.

You and I know that how someone looks or what they ride, has nothing to do with who they are as a person. Sure, some of us can be a bit more boisterous than others.

Some of us can be quiet. Guarded even.

Too many people don’t take the time to talk to someone, get to know them, see what makes them tick.

Not so long ago a work mate confided that when he started with the company, he’d spied a big bloke on a bike complete with close cut hair and beard turn up. He immediately shoe-horned the big bloke into what he thought was the right pigeon-hole.

It turned out, that big bloke was nothing like what he’d thought, and now they are good friends.

How many times have you heard something like this:

“Oh-My-God look at the Tatts and piercings on that lady! She must be on something.”

or

“That bloke has a gammy* leg, better not talk to him it might be leprosy.”

Those people are still pink in the middle, and bleed red just like the rest of us.

Who cares if they are black, white, have a disability, wear their pants backwards, or are from Mars?

So what if they’re different?

I met a bloke at a pub once. He was siting a the bar and was sluring his words. All the locals were giving him a wide berth, he wasn’t a local and they thought he was drunk.

I wandered over and struck up a conversation with him.

He was sober as a judge and had been drinking non alcoholic ginger beer all afternoon.

We talked for 2-1/2 hours.

It turned out that this bloke was a shearer on his way to his next job. The slur was caused by a stroke he’d had when he was 43.

If I’d have been like all the locals at the pub, I’d have missed out on some great company and a good yarn*.

Frankly, I’m old enough now to have moved beyond what people think of me. As a result I tend to take people as they are, and I hope that they would be the same with me.

I’m a firm believer in calling it like it is, most people respect that; There’s no point in saying something if you don’t believe in it.

Know what I mean?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, people are what they are, look how they look and there is nothing you can do to change that.

What we can change, is our prejudice towards them.

Cheers

  • Wanker: A contemptible person
  • Pack’n it: Scared. As in “He was packing death (or shit to use the Australian Vernacular)”
  • Gammy: Unable to function normally
  • Good yarn: Good chat

Humbled & Honoured

G’day

A few weeks ago Dan from Daily Bikers asked if I’d like to write a guest post on his blog. I don’t consider myself as anything special when it comes to writing, so the offer took me a little by surprise.

Be that as it may, I’d like to thank Dan for giving me the opportunity to write for Daily Bikers. I’m really humbled and honoured that I was asked (and chuffed, all at the same time).

You can read my Guest Post here.

While you’re there, I’d encourage you to have a poke around Daily Bikers and check out some of their offerings.

You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers

Wired For Sound.

G’day.

I’ve broken a sacred rule of riding. I bought an intercom. There I’ve said it…

Years ago, the only beats I heard came from the engine, I’d talk to myself inside my lid, and no one could hear me strangling cats in tune to the top 40 .

Times change.

Now I like to share my auditions for the X-factor with The Pillion. True the occasional burp also spews forth, quickly followed by a sharp poke to the ribs from The Pillion.

Sharing is caring right?

When I started looking around for an intercom, all the usual suspects were considered, Cardo Scala, Sena and U-Clear, which are all Bluetooth units. One that was suggested to me that I hadn’t considered, was the Starcom system.

Cardo Scala

Cardo Scala (Bluetooth)

Sena

Sena (Bluetooth)

U-Clear

U-Clear (Bluetooth)

Starcom

Starcom (Hard Wried)

The Bluetooth systems all appealed to me for various reasons:-

  • Easy to fit.
  • They can be paired with phones, music & GPS devices
  • I could talk to my pillion & a few other riders (4 to 10 depending on the system).
  • On some models I could listen to FM radio.
  • They were all light weight.

What I didn’t like about the Bluetooth systems was:-

  • The units have to be recharged periodically.
  • Some units don’t pair with everything with ease (They’re fiddly).
  • They can drop out.
  • You can’t talk between units (Sena to Scala to U-Clear).
  • If I wanted to hook up a CB to the system, I needed either a CB with Bluetooth capability (expensive), or an interface unit in addition to the intercom (also expensive).

One thing we have here in Australia that may not be available in other countries is the UHF* CBRS*. This is by far the most utilised radio service for travelers, farmers, truck drivers and other interested people. Along with the usual calling and emergency channels, there are dedicated 4WD, caravan, repeater and truck/ highway channels.

The system uses narrow band FM with up to 5 watts transmit power and 80 channels. CTCSS* & DCS* mute systems are also available, so that interfering signals on the same channel can be eliminated.

I really wanted to be able to connect UHF to the system, but the additional Bluetooth interface at $300 plus was prohibitive.

Reluctantly I took a look at the Starcom. I really didn’t like the idea of having wires dangling everywhere, but it did do everything the Bluetooth units would do, plus it had some advantages:-

  • It was easy to fit. The main control unit is about the size of a 20 pack of smokes and fits under your seat, or some other available space.
  • You can use phones, GPS & music just like the other systems, either hard-wired or at additional cost with a Bluetooth interface.
  • Rider to pillion intercom.
  • Light weight.
  • You never have to recharge the unit.
  • The hard-wired system has no problems with dropouts.
  • Quick release DIN plugs allow for cable separation in an emergency.
Starcom Bluetooth Interface
Starcom Bluetooth Interface (30 x 50mm – 1-1/4 x 2″)

One thing the Starcom can’t do is link between riders on a private Bluetooth link. This didn’t particularly worry me though, because it’s not like I was going to be discussing the state of the nation with anyone while riding anyway.

BUT!

You can easily hook a UHF CB into the mix. It’s a simple plug and play affair, with either Push To Talk (PTT) or voice activated operation (VOX). No special Bluetooth adapter required. The bonus of using a CB is that the range is increase considerably, unlike Bluetooth, which if your lucky you might get 500m (1600 feet).

Also its an open system, so if you get into trouble and are out of mobile phone range, you can call someone for help. Bluetooth does not allow for this.

Size Comparison Between Starcom & Iphone 5S

Size Comparison Between Starcom & Iphone 5S

So I bought the Starcom Advance.

I don’t use (refuse to use) the mobile phone function, but I do use an Ipod for the travelling tunes, this will sit either in my vest pocket or tank bag depending on the ride i’m on.

I also have a Uniden UHF hand-held CB connected into the system for longer trips. It’s handy to get road reports, or to let the driver of a B-Double* know that you want to pass.

Handheld CB The Red Button Near The Horn IS the PTT

Handheld CB The Red Button Near The Horn IS the PTT

Whats the sound quality like?

Pretty good really, in fact with the ear plugs (see separate article here) the wind noise is reduced so much that the volume doesn’t have to be as loud as you would think. This is probably because the stereo speakers are so close to your ears, and the ear plugs are tuned to reduce noise rather than sound… if that makes sense(?)

Also, having a curly cord hanging from your lid is not as bad as I thought. It’s not heavy and doesn’t flap about in the breeze. If you decided to go this route, use a stick on cable clamp like the one in the photo below so that there is no pull on the wires to the mic and speakers.

Stcik On Zip Tie Cable Clamp

Stick On Zip Tie Cable Clamp

The only problem I have with Starcom is that The Pillion doesn’t appreciate my singing… or burps.

Cheers

  • UHF: Ultra High Frequency.
  • CBRS: Citezens Band Radio Service.
  • CTCSS: Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System
  • DCS: Digital Coded Squelch
  • B-Double: Consists of a prime mover towing a specialised lead trailer that has a fifth-wheel mounted on the rear towing another semi-trailer, resulting in two articulation points.
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