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SEP/OCT 2020 (No. 156) AUS $9.95* NZ $9.50 (BOTH INCL. GST)





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CONTENTS I S S U E # 156 SEP / OCT 2020

UPFRONT 10 12 15 16 20

Bigshot - Ducati Superleggera KTM Duke 890R BMW’s 40th Anniversary GSs Yamaha R15 Big Shot BMW R 18

BIKES TO RIDE 26 36 58 76

Kawasaki Z H2 BMW R 1250 RS Sport Honda CB500X Yamaha Ténéré 700

TOURING 48 66 88 114

Vietnam by GS India with Rixy The Old Hume Highway Croatia by Scooter


Bike Washing Riding for Savings

REGULARS 6 18 100 112 123 126 128 130

Editorial Seddo Whatz New Subscribe, get your dose regularly Bike Supermarket Reader’s Ride That Bike of Yours Looking Forward, Looking Back


114 26



58 76




"IT’S A LOT EASIER TO PLAY FOOTBALL THAN IT IS TO RIDE A MOTORCYCLE LEGALLY" Motorcycles can’t compete with cars as transport unless you’re talking heavy traffic, parking problems and scooters —

To attract more youngsters to riding, the industry needs to remove some of the barriers. We can do this by improving access to machinery, experience, advice and other riders. You have to be pretty committed to bother putting up with three years on P-plates, the inability to carry a pillion passenger, no access to your phone while riding, and multiple days of enforced training just for the right to spend heaps of dosh on a bike.

Google their state licensing body to find out about the compulsory training required to get a licence. Why not offer a service to book people into a course on the spot? Each bike shop should have a range of demo/hire bikes (possibly some of the secondhand stock?). These are machines new riders can use to get their experience up, bikes they can bolt an L-plate to and ride around for a weekend or a week. Maybe the cost of the hire could be deducted from the price of a new bike if they come back and buy one.

which is a story for another time. This is about recreational riding, an activity which has lost ground to the myriad other things youngsters can do with their weekends, from Netflix to watercraft, Fortnite to football. It’s a lot easier to play football than it is to ride a motorcycle legally — and even easier to be a passive football fan. Join your club online, buy some gear in the team colours, catch the train to the stadium, have a few drinks and do it all again a week or two later. Contrast that with making sure your bike is good to go, suiting up in all the gear, hoping the weather will be good, not be able to drink and copping flak from parents, friends and others about your “Temporary Australian” pastime.

Shops could lead group rides or tap into their local riding groups and customers who (I’m sure) would be pleased to guide youngsters around the great local riding roads of their area. Those same youngsters would

And, of course, the appeal of online video games is strong… a much bigger industry these days than Hollywood, and it’s driven by 20-40-year-old men, the gender and age traditionally getting into motorcycles.

Sure, many of the rules are the same for driving, but… riding’s optional, driving isn’t (for most young people). One young guy I know kept putting off getting his bike licence simply because he wouldn’t be able to take his girlfriend anywhere. Sure, there are some youngsters who buy a scooter or small bike to ride to university, but they are riders of convenience, not passion; they might be converted later, but they might not. They see riding as transport, not fun. Currently youngsters might wander into a bike shop to find out about riding… and if they’re lucky they might walk out with some advice to

be welcome to join the rides even after they have bought a bike of their own. Of course, returning riders would also be welcome. Maybe the importers could provide assistance with the cost, insurance, maintenance and repairs of such a fleet. Keep in mind that although bikes are basically as cheap as they have ever been, cars are crazy-cheap — and more reliable than ever. And the bulk of them have airconditioning, power steering and automatic transmissions. Even cheap second-hand cars, which means transport is relatively cheap, easy to master and comfortable.

Motorcycle sales have boomed in various decades and for various reasons. In the past it was sky-high fuel prices, cheap, reliable dirt bikes, then baby boomers rediscovering motorcycles, the sportsbike era… most recently Adventure bike sales have exploded while cruisers are tanking and nakeds are popular again. I think now is a good time for the industry to focus on people and convincing them to become riders, not customers, because riders will wear out bikes and replace them, which is what needs to happen if motorcycling is to survive. – NIGEL PATERSON

The editor’s son Damien on the Versys X-300 we’re testing for the next issue.

The barriers to becoming a road-riding motorcyclist these days are huge: onerous licensing requirements, years of restrictive rules and costs which many youngsters can’t bear, along with about a million other popular activities which didn’t exist when us oldies started riding.


THE KAWASAKI W800 CAFÉ IS INFUSED WITH THE ESSENCE OF HISTORY. Retro café styling, power for all roads and modern performance capabilities, the W800 CAFÉ is for an experienced rider. Lineage that dates back to the original W1, it is the ideal platform to represent true Japanese style and innovation in the modern classic category. Disc Brakes with ABS

facebook.com/ kawasakiaus


Café Racer Styling



Tuned Exhaust System



L.E.D. Headlamp


41mm Telescopic Forks


Modern Vertical Twin


Roadrider A U S T R A L I A N




EDITOR Nigel Paterson npaterson@umco.com.au ART DIRECTOR Martha Rubazewicz REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS Geoff Seddon, Brian Rix, Phillip James, Nigel Crowley, Ian Neubauer, Ray Macarthur, Roderick Eime, Damien Paterson EDITORIAL roadrider@umco.com.au SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES mailorder@umco.com.au ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Adam Davy 0423 373 470 ADVERTISING PRODUCTION Brendan Alder ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Marcus Hucker





Chairman/CEO Prema Perera Publisher Janice Williams

Circulation enquiries to our Sydney head office (02) 9805 0399. Australian Road Rider #156 is published by Australian Publishing, Unit 5, 6–8 Byfield Street, North Ryde NSW 2113. Phone: (02) 9805 0399, Fax: (02) 9805 0714. Melbourne office, Suite 4, Level 1, 150 Albert Road, South Melbourne Vic 3205. Phone (03) 9694 6444. Fax: (03) 9699 7890. Printed by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd, Singapore. Retail distribution: Gordon and Gotch. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publishers believe all the information supplied in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up to date at the time of printing, but they may change in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) and the Australian Consumer Law. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. * Recommended retail price ISSN 1329 – 1734 Copyright © Australian Publishing Pty Ltd MMXX

Chief Financial Officer Vicky Mahadeva roadrider.com.au

SEP/OCT 2020 (No. 156) AUS $9.95* NZ $9.50 (BOTH INCL. GST)




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Kawasaki’s Z H2 (Paterson)

AUSTRALIA'S NO.1 MOTORCYCLE TOURING WEBSITE! w w w . r o a d r i d e r . c o m . a u


$20,950 RIDE AWAY*



*Manufacturer’s Recommended Ride Away Price, standard colour with no optional extras. Price is based on 12 months registration, compulsory third party insurance (CTP), dealer delivery fee and other applicable on-road costs. Price may vary between authorised Triumph Motorcycle dealers and states/territories. we reserve the right to modify prices as required.






DUCATI’S SUPERLEGGERA Limited Edition of 500 • Street Legal • MotoGP-Derived ‘Wings’ • Carbon-Fibre Fairing • 998cc V4 • 224/234*hp • 159/152*kg • Öhlins suspension • Brembo Brakes *in race trim





KTM’S SPORTING BARGAIN? K TM is further developing its sub-1000cc parallel twin range with its biggest, toughest model yet, the 890 Duke R, and it’s at a very keen price: $17,195+ORC, so well under 20K on the road. That’s Supersport pricing for a 121hp machine with top-shelf suspension, brakes and components, which could make it the bargain of the year, at least for new-model releases. A naked sportsbike built for both street and track, KTM is claiming the new bike has the performance to put the

frighteners up many bigger bikes thanks to its decent power output pushing a dry weight of just 166kg.


KTM doesn’t stick the R moniker on every bike it builds, leaving it for special racedeveloped machines. Currently there’s only the 1290 Super Duke R and the Supermoto 690SMC R in the road bike line-up being joined by the new 890. KTM took the 790 Duke platform and combined it with racing developments to build the 890 R, a bike with more power




and torque, a freer-revving engine, better suspension, bigger brakes and sportier ergonomics to create a machine that is a naked sportsbike.

THE MOTOR Bored and stroked compared to the 790 with bigger valves, shorter intake funnels, more aggressive camshafts and upgraded fuel injection are just some of the changes made to build an engine which spins up quickly and produces strong power and torque throughout the rev range. The engine contributes to the handling via a crankshaft designed to create 20 per cent more rotational mass, which improves stability without sacrificing agility. Other changes include new pistons and connecting rods and balancer shaft. KTM claims the bike has a fierce throttle response thanks to the changes.

ELECTRONICS As you’d expect, there’s a full suite of electronic aids: ABS, traction control, 6D lean angle sensor (which detects the side-to-side and forwards and backwards pitch of the bike and also its drift positioning), three standard riding modes and an optional track mode. Also optional is the Motor Slip Regulation, which plays the role of an electronic slipper clutch. A slipper clutch only works in high grip situations; MSR complements this when there is low grip. It restricts the possibility of the rear wheel locking up under downshifting or throttling off and ensures full traction.

CHASSIS AND SUSPENSION Dumping the passenger footpegs and switching the rear seat for a cover has saved 3.3kg, and that’s how the bike will be supplied standard, so you’ll need to find a few extra dollars to carry a friend. But with the high, long pipe we’re not convinced passengers will stay friends very long. The now orange chrome-moly steel frame has been tweaked for the 890, but the biggest changes lie in the suspension. The WP rear shock features full adjustability — including high and low speed compression damping — and includes a hydraulic preload adjuster. The front forks are top-spec adjustable WP Apex units. There are ergonomic changes compared to the 790, too: a more aggressive riding position but basically flat ’bars rather than clip-ons, which indicates the bike is designed for shorter circuits with lower top speeds and more corners… which goes with the Supermoto heritage of the brand.

BRAKES & TYRES Lightweight monoblock Brembo brakes incorporating aluminium carriers has reduced unsprung weight by over 1kg, which will make for sharper steering, and the discs are up 20mm to 320. Brembo’s Multi Click technology alters the lever ratio: riders can choose between a more gradual progressive feel or a shorter and sharper sensation. Michelin Powercup II tyres are standard.

ACCESSORIES AND RACING Want to make your 890 R even more special? There’s an Akrapovic slip-on or full system, CNC-milled footpeg system, ergo seat, factory triple clamps, barend mirrors and lots, lots more… the rim stickers will make you faster, no doubt. ARR






ate this year you’ll be able to buy the 2021 BMW 40th Anniversary BMW GS models. It was way back in 1981 when BMW kick-started the adventure bike trend with the R80G/S and today the GS models make up more than half of BMW Australia’s motorcycle sales across a huge range, from 650s to 1250s. In 2021 there will be new versions of the 750s and 850s in new colours — including 40th Anniversary colours — with upgraded standard equipment and new optional equipment. All models now have new LED flashing turn indicators as standard and a USB charging device at the front right of the cockpit. ABS Pro and DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) are now also standard to enhance braking and acceleration characteristics. Dynamic Engine Brake Control (DBC) is now a feature in the Pro riding modes and four modes can be assigned to a button on the right handlebar on applicable models. Since completely switching off the ABS will no longer be permissible under legal homologation regulations in the future, the Enduro and Enduro Pro riding modes provide suitably adapted controls for this purpose. The ABS function can still be switched off on the rear wheel in Enduro Pro riding mode (BMW F 850 GS and BMW F 850 GS Adventure only).

“These thoroughly updated GS editions take a winning formula and provide further polish, adding new looks and a raft of new option packages to complement their celebrated handling prowess on all road conditions, including gravel,” said Andreas Lundgren, BMW Motorrad Australia general manager. The 750 and 850 “40 Years GS Editions” evoke one of the most popular GS machines of the past, the R 100 GS, with their yellow and black paintwork. Other colours will be available for the Standard, “Sports Style”, “Rallye” and Adventure models. An extra-low seat bench as well as modified lowered suspension will be available as optional equipment for all three models in the future, ensuring even better ground accessibility when stationary. Original BMW Motorrad Accessories


The BMW F 750 GS and F 850 GS to arrive this year.

"IN 2021 THERE WILL BE NEW VERSIONS OF THE 750s AND 850s IN NEW COLOURS…" now supply a holder for the BMW F 850 GS and BMW F 850 GS Adventure for mounting the BMW Motorrad Navigator above the standard TFT display — a beneficial element when the driver is stationary off-road. This holder was previously reserved exclusively for GS trophy machines and deployment vehicles. The new models are expected to start arriving in late 2020 and early 2021. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet. ARR

The 2021 BMW F 750 GS ‘Sport Style’ to arrive in November 2020.

The 40th Anniversary F 850 GS Adventure to launch in Q1, 2021.




BARGAIN SPORTS W ith sporty styling, a Variable Valve Actuation-equipped motor and a price drop to just $4799 ride away, the new Yamaha R15 deserves to make lots of youngsters into motorcyclists. The compact machine, weighing in at just 138kg, is small, light, easy to ride and stylish, yet inexpensive to buy and cheap to run. Powering the machine is a simple 155cc singlecylinder four-stroke motor. The engine, airbox and

muffler have all been extensively updated for 2020, with the engine producing 18 per cent more power from just a three per cent increase in capacity. It produces enough power to easily keep up with traffic flows while sipping fuel slowly — Yamaha claims around 45km per litre! There’s also an assist and slipper clutch standard. The chassis will provide good handling thanks to the new Deltabox frame and swingarm. New wheels take wider tyres and larger brakes will inspire confidence in the twisties or for youngsters contesting the Oceania Junior Cup racing series, which is for 11-16-year-olds. The R1-inspired styling runs from the more aerodynamic fairing and LED headlight right to the LED taillight. The new machine is available now in Thunder Grey and Racing Blue. ARR

VVA CYLINDER HEAD The new R15’s cylinder head features a single overhead camshaft and rocker arms activating the four valves. The inlet rockers have two lobes, with a solenoid-activated motor switching between the two. At low rpm the first lobe is set for bottom-end grunt, while when revs rise the more aggressive lobe is activated to provide top-end power. On a small bike VVA should be more significant than on larger-capacity bikes, because riders will be using higher revs more often.






Me, Stuart and my Ducati.



ustralia’s unprecedented summer of bushfires had a devastating impact on many thousands of people, matched only by the unprecedented financial and other support from the rest of the country. As a nation, we’re good at helping out folk who really need it. It happens at the micro level too. Four months ago I was diagnosed with lung cancer, perhaps not unexpected after a lifetime of heavy smoking. I had a tumour the size of Tasmania in my left lung and the initial prognosis was not great.


But I’ve always been a lucky guy and the good news after countless tests was that the cancer had not spread to any other part of my body. A plan was hatched to undergo nine weeks of chemotherapy in an effort to reduce the tumour to an operable size. Offers of help and support from family, neighbours and friends came thick and fast, often in unexpected ways. My mates in the Mangrove Mountain Muscle Car Club, especially Stephen Peruch and Glen Crowther, figured I’d feel a bit better if they fixed a couple of problems

which had kept my much-loved Ford Galaxie shed-bound for many months. Two days later it was returned, running like a bought one. Great minds think alike and not long after that, my brotherin-law Stuart Garrard drove up from the Southern Highlands and stole my Ducati. Stuart loves his Japanese bikes, especially those with four cylinders in-line. He has restored many motorcycles but never before taken a spanner to a Ducati. But he knew a few guys who had, including Robin Genero, Andy Buckley and my bestie Harpo, aka



Peter Dean, who has been riding Ducatis exclusively for nearly 40 years and also contributed to the cost. So what needs fixing on the Ducati,

lever and braided lines, while a new chain and sprockets smoothed out the rear. The clutch was a bitch and required expert attention from Phil Hitchcock at Road &

of the work was not what I expected and I teared up like a kid. The cover strap reads “Rescued From The Brink Of No Return”, which sounds a bit harsh but in hindsight is embarrassingly accurate. We planned two rides in the following weeks, the first a Rural Fire Service fundraiser organised by John Price for a brigade in the thick of the fires near Warragamba Dam, which attracted well over 100 riders and raised more than $4000. The second was a 500km each-way trip to the annual motorcycle journos’ CHUMPS Rally at Dalgety on the Snowy River the following weekend. Between the two events, I was scheduled to find out if the chemotherapy had worked, thus enabling the surgeon to do his thing and remove the tumour holus bolus. If not, my treatment would switch to palliative care. My luck held and as I write this, I’m scheduled to go under the knife

Stuart asked me. Not much, I replied. The engine had developed a miss, I said, probably from spending too much time parked next to my Norton Commando in the shed. And it was missing some fairing fasteners which had come adrift on my last weekend away, replaced on the side of the road with 100-mile-an-hour tape. Apart from that, it was in pretty good shape. I handed him my factory workshop manual just in case and wished him luck. A compression test revealed the 150,000km-old 900 SS was down only a few psi but equal in both cylinders, so good enough. Stuart turned his attention to the fuel system and running gear. The Mikunis were remarkably clean, but not so the internal filter in the fuel tank, which was all but blocked with gunk. He also discovered some rust pin-holes about to burst through the paint, so resealed that too before repainting it with a colour-matched aerosol from Moss Vale Paint Shop, which he also used to cover up numerous fibreglass repairs he made to the fairing. He then turned his attention to the running gear, which required a mountain of work and parts. Steering head, swingarm and wheel bearings were replaced, along with the cush-drive in the rear hub. A complete second-hand fork assembly was sourced as a costeffective solution to replacing the badly pitted chrome fork tubes. Front brakes benefited from a new master cylinder,

Race Engineering on the Central Coast, who also checked the valves and fitted new timing belts. I’ve probably missed a million other things Stuart did to the bike over three months; suffice to say everything works, even the neutral light. The old girl looks, goes and handles like a new bike but not before Stu had to overcome one last hurdle in the form of a broken head stud on the rear cylinder, discovered after his final test ride. Just when he thought the job was done, this entailed removal of the engine from the frame and then the rear cylinder from the engine, assisted by Robin Genero, Peter White from Old Mate Motorcycles and Andy from Mittagong Engineering. The cylinder still had its honing marks and the big ends were within tolerance, Stuart said, impressive for a high-mileage 29-yearold engine that had never been apart before, and testament to the strength and reliability of the Ducati belt-drive V-twin. Others who contributed to the rebuild included Gowanlochs for parts, Rob Hanna, Tamworth Mike, Tony the welder and Stuart’s neighbour Terry, whose minibobcat made short work of lifting the engine in and out of the car. Stuart presented me with the finished bike the day before my 65th birthday, along with a journal detailing the build, the cover of which is modelled on my day job editing Retrobike magazine. The extent

this coming Friday. The Ducati performed faultlessly, apart from some hiccups from using 98 fuel on the charity run and problem solved with a tank of 91, which we might talk about some other 60 seconds. We never reached Dalgety, the fires south of Canberra forcing us to abandon our quest at Queanbeyan and overnight in Braidwood along with Harpo on his 1100 Monster, former ARR columnist Gregor on his Cagiva Elefant, his mate Dick on an R1, and 4WD legend and Motorcycle Trader contributor John Rooth on a R 100 LT BMW. The temperature dropped into the low 40s for the ride home on Sunday. My new bike ran faultlessly, as it had all weekend, until the northern end of the Hume, by which time I was on my own for the last leg home. It missed a beat, then a couple more, steadily got worse and within 10km it stopped altogether on the side of the highway. I gave it 20 minutes to cool; it was no better and I had no tools apart from an Allen key in the pocket of my leather jacket. Stuart and I had been talking at our last stop about how big the battery was on the Duke. I lifted the tank and, sure enough, the negative lead had come adrift. Amazingly the small fixing screw had jammed in the bracket. Even more amazingly, the Allen key was the right size to reattach and tighten it. Five minutes later I was back in business. I told you I was a lucky guy. ARR







BMW’S R 18




MW has combined heritage with technology to create its new cruiser platform for the future, all based around the biggest horizontallyopposed motorcycle engine ever built. Priced from $26,890, the first batch should be arriving around the time you read this (September), although the first batch will be better featured and priced from $31,690. The new motor is not only the biggest twin from BMW, it’s the biggest motorcycle twin from Europe, coming in at 1802cc and only eclipsed by the three-cylinder Triumph Rocket III. Heritage features include classic styling typical of BMWs from the ‘50s and ‘60s, an exposed shaft drive, hidden suspension and laced wheels.


BMW’S R 18




BMW’S R 18

High-tech features include reverse assist, so pushing your bike around the garage might become a thing of the past. There’s grunt, too — 150Nm of torque from 2000 to 4000rpm, which is awesome, should make this bike really easy to ride. With 67kW (90hp) there’s also class-leading horsepower on tap. The double downtube steel chassis is classically styled, but should be stiff enough to keep that torque on the straight and narrow. The rear subframe can be removed to turn it into a single-seat Bobber. The first model is the base of a new platform, which ARR expects will be used to create new models as the years go by. In the meantime, BMW will offer lots of customisation options so you can create something


BMW’S R 18


fairly unique with just a budget and some tools, or simply get any BMW dealer to make the changes. The promotional images and videos show variations in forks, handlebars, guards, seating, exhausts and more.

OPINION: CRUISERS AND BMW BMW has only tried to crack the cruiser market once before, launching the R 1200 C a little over 20 years ago. It failed. Despite being featured in a James Bond film and a touring variant, the R 1200 CL, also making it to market, they didn’t sell. By the standards of the day they weren’t terrible bikes — but they weren’t particularly pretty or cheap either, and seemed only to appeal to riders who were anti-Harley yet wanted a premium product they didn’t perceive they could get from Japan. Harley owners were particularly derisive of the BMWs. I see a number of marketing hurdles for the bikes (the only engineering hurdle is probably insurmountable — no forward controls are likely to be possible, the cylinders are in the way). Firstly, premium cruisers are made in America. Many buyers want it that way; they want an American bike first, choosing their machine from the ranges of Harley-Davidson or Indian. Even Triumph has struggled to build successful cruisers, with more misses than hits (and currently doesn’t produce any, unless you count the Rocket 3, which is marketed as a Roadster [Rocket 3R] and tourer [Rocket 3 GT]). The Japanese manufacturers have dropped most of their cruisers from their ranges, with only a handful of big-bore models still available. So I’m thinking the new BMW got the green light a number of years ago, when cruisers were selling well, with Harley still kicking goals with every new model and the motorcycle industry was strong and looking for diversification options. So I’m concerned this new platform is being released into a post-COVID-19 market that will be very nervous about the future and what sort of machine riders want to ride. This could be a shame for the R 18, because I think it’s offering a real point of difference to the Harley-Davidson and Indian cruisers at a time when pretty well no other manufacturer is doing this. – Nigel Paterson What do you think? Will the new R 18 be a success? Let the editor know — npaterson@umco. com.au ARR






t 250km/h on Gardner Straight, Phillip Island Raceway, all I can usually hear is the wind rushing past my helmet. Not today: there’s a hair-raising scream out of nowhere, then the machine creating it is rushing by, a 300hp Kawasaki H2R making my ZX-10R look like a 400. Gobsmacked is the word that comes to mind. Yes… Kawasaki’s supercharged sportsbikes are mental, especially the track-only H2R. The Z H2 is the fourth supercharged model from


acceptable when the bike was stopped… and the engine turned off! I’ve ridden one and despite the “what’s going to happen next?” chassis, the engine was so exciting and it was still a hoot. Flawed, but a deserving legend. The H2 Mach IV was a 750cc inline two-stroke triple introduced in 1972 with an even more potent motor. So, Kawasaki has form with insane engines. This time it’s supercharging. Taming forced induction engines for motorcycle applications isn’t easy. Previous attempts using turbos in the 1980s all had issues. Consequently,

Kawasaki. In addition to the H2R there’s the H2 SX sports tourer and the H2 sport bike. Compared to the H2R, the naked Z H2 receives a dose of vanilla, but the engine is still 98 per cent H2R. It’s still special… When designing the Z H2, Kawasaki’s top priority was making riding it a “survivable” event (and correctly so). Hence the sophisticated electronics. This philosophy has produced an easy-to-ride, exciting machine. Good plan. It wasn’t always so. In 1969 Kawasaki released the H1 500cc Mach III, a bike that took giant steps down the road eventually leading to today’s 200hp superbikes. The Mach III was cheap, really fast… and really… really… scary. It was said at the time that the handling was

the concept fell by the wayside. Interestingly, the best effort was the Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo. Back to the present day. Kawasaki went all in this time, using resources from all over the KHI engineering empire to solve the tricky issues associated with forced induction. For the engineeringly interested, the breakout looks at this in more detail. The Z H2 is the first variant of the company’s supercharging technology below $38k (at $25k it’s a long way below). It does have strong competitors in the Hypernaked class. Engine wise they all fall short, but does the Z H2 match the class leader’s handling prowess? It’s not a rerun of the Mach III saga, but the bar is set pretty high in this group.




THE COMPETITION The premium Hypernaked class has several options. The variety of designs from manufacturers to reach the same end point of nuclear performance is impressive. They’re all winners. It comes down to which one the buyer is drawn to. Here’s a quick alphabetic summary of the choices. APRILIA TUONO FACTORY MotoGP soundtrack from fabulous V4 engine, assisted by superb electronic package. It features top shelf Swedish electronic suspension in a super agile frame. Aprilia Tuono Factory

BMW S1000R SPORT German interpretation of the Japanese four cylinder “standard” - with BMW premium features. It offers top gun performance with a three-year warranty… and … an options list. BMW S1000R Sport

Ducati Streetfighter V4

DUCATI STREETFIGHTER V4 Exciting new arrival to the class with exotic V4 engine and superbike power output. Ducati’s chassis knowhow is a given and should provide fun and X factor in spades.


"…THERE’S A HAIRRAISING SCREAM OUT OF NOWHERE…" CHASSIS AND ELECTRONICS The engine is mounted in a unique steel trellis frame featuring plates at the rear of the engine. These lock the frame, swingarm and engine together, achieving a light and rigid connection between these components. Using variable stiffness trellis tubes, it’s claimed the opposing goals of rigidity (straight-line stability) and flexibility (bump absorption at high lean angles) are achieved. The trellis construction is more compact and better at engine heat dispersion than an aluminium beam frame. The brake package has Brembo M4.32 monobloc callipers. The discs are 290mm — 40mm less than the family pizza plates on the H2. This reduces cost, provides lighter tip-in and better lever feel at street speeds — at the expense of 300km/h stopping power. Planning to regularly do 300km/h, were you? If so, go for the ZX-10. One area where the price reduction shows is suspension component choice. It’s not rubbish, but it’s not “fully featured” either. It’s similar to the Z1000 with full adjustability on the forks, while the shock has preload and rebound only.

KTM 1290 SUPERDUKE R Elegantly simple, brutally fast. Stick two 650cc trail bike engines into a good handling frame, with cutting edge electronics and there you have it. Reading the Powerparts accessory catalogue could be wallet wounding.

KTM 1290 Superduke R

Triumph Speed Triple RS

TRIUMPH SPEED TRIPLE RS Similar in price to the Z H2 with less power, but top shelf Öhlins manual adjust suspension and competitive electronic package. Specs can be deceiving, no-one’s ever complained the 1050 triple is boring or under powered.

Yamaha MT-10SP

YAMAHA MT-10SP Polarising styling combined with best sounding in-line four out there, also with Öhlins electronic suspension. Big performance and big bang for the buck. Yamaha durability ensures solid resale value.

WHY SUPERCHARGING? Superchargers are mechanically locked to the crankshaft; airflow boost is proportional to engine rpm. Unlike turbos, this gives linear, predictable power, providing a “surprise-free” throttle connection to the rear tyre. Turbos suffer “lag” as the rider waits for the turbo, which is driven by the exhaust gasses, to force-feed more air and fuel into the engine. Only when this happens does the boost kick in, making it less predictable. Surprises aren’t welcome when applying 200hp to a bike-sized contact patch, which makes supercharging an excellent choice.





That green mesh is there to stop birds being sucked into your Supercharger!

Motorcycle supercharging presents many difficulties. Issues include packaging, heat management, durability, fuel economy and emission compliance. Aftermarket specials tick off solutions to some of these, the H2 ticks them all. To understand the size of the achievement, I’ll put on my engineer’s hat and look at the details. Modern motorcycles deliver sophisticated packaging solutions. Components fit into the smallest possible space. This allows more weight distribution and ergonomic options. If you look at a typical fourcylinder bike, there’s nowhere to accommodate a supercharger and its ductwork. Consequently, engineers must create space for quite a bit of stuff. There’s also a need to minimise the heat impact of burning more fuel. This is an issue for high-powered bikes in general and problematic with supercharging. A bike that rides like a Weber barbecue will never sell. Kawasaki has risen to the challenge using thoughtful design of frame and components. The supercharger is driven via a chain and planetary gear set, allowing a compact design. In another departure from normal practice, engine oil is used for lubrication, further minimising supercharger complexity and size. There are no blowers, air cleaners, belts or pulleys sticking out (as with aftermarket installations). Consequently, the whole package is no larger than a typical four-cylinder bike. The H2 supercharger is something only a company with heavy engineering expertise could design. Its inspiration comes from industrial high-volume air compressors (KHI makes these). In that application, several mechanically driven 100,000rpm impellers

A conventional double-sided swingarm reduces costs.

are placed in series. Large volumes of air are efficiently compressed, less work is done on the air, heating is minimised and density maximised. No Intercooler is required. Bottom line, the maximum amount of air is shifted with minimum energy. In a motorcycle application this technology translates to less heat between your legs, and less fuel burnt for a given horsepower output. Deflecting excess heat from the rider is achieved by airflow management through the bike. The final hurdle is emission standards. Supercharged power comes from pushing more air and fuel through the engine, consequently there’s more pollution. Typically, on cars, the solution is a bigger catalytic converter. That’s not an option for bikes. The other better, but more difficult option is improving combustion efficiency, and that’s how Kawasaki has managed it. I think we will see more supercharged Kawasaki bikes. It’s ground-breaking technology and something other manufacturers won’t match anytime soon.

The giant muffler required to keep the noise down.





The Z H2 with an H2 SX ARR borrowed from Brisan Motorcycles (brisans.com.au), Newcastle, for a quick back-to-back ride. We made a video to go with that, see our Youtube channel. Here’s the direct link: youtu.be/c-anVZT7GPA

The bike is fitted with Kawasaki’s premium electronics package — excluding electronic suspension control. There are all the usual acronyms. In most circumstances, the rider’s biggest decision will be choice of ride mode. There are four “selectable on the move” modes: Sport, Road, Rain and Rider (a configurable mode). In Rider mode, traction control (KTRC) intervention levels can be selected. Choices aren’t complicated, with three settings and “off”. Mode 1 delivers maximum drive, mode 3 maximum intervention, and mode 2 is the Goldilocks mode. Stay away from “off” unless you’ve done 50 track days. The aids that lift the bike to the top shelf are KCMF (corner management) and KIBS (intelligent ABS). Using Kawasaki’s own software, these act to tame the beast (sorry KTM). Information from the bike’s sensors (IMU, wheel rotation rate, throttle position etc) are used to calculate what the bike is doing, and equally important, what the rider is likely to do next. KCMF then conscripts the bike’s suite of electronics

to anticipate and assist. On corner entry engine braking is optimised, as is brake pressure (to keep the rear wheel on the ground). On corner exit, KTRC offers maximum acceleration by controlling front-wheel lift and rear-wheel slide.

THE RIDE It’s a relatively small bike with a high-ish seat. The ergonomics fit a broad spread of rider sizes. I’m Richard Hammond size and editor Nigel makes for a reasonable Jeremy Clarkson stand in. We were both ok with it. The engine is the centrepiece with this bike. As I discussed in the breakout, the design of the supercharger and its execution is impressive. Compared to the H2 SX, the Z weighs 23kg less, runs lower final gearing, has the same maximum power and more midrange torque. It therefore accelerates a lot harder. I was surprised how accessible the power is. Peak power is similar the ZX-10, however it requires 10,000rpm for





The engine is on show.

The tubular steel chassis is designed to control the massive horsepower of the engine yet provide flexibililty when cranked over.

Day and night views from the large colour instrument panel.


serious thrust. The Z H2, on the other hand, has it on tap all the time. Both have similar drag strip acceleration but differ at street speeds. The ZX-10 takes a moment to spool up before the FTL (Faster Than Light) drive comes online. Lock-up velocity has passed before that happens. The H2, conversely, is in FTL all the time. It exits from a 40km/h corner and rockets (and I use that word deliberately) up to 110km/h with ease. The ZX-10 will do it too, but the rider has to put on the Race Face and select lower gears. The short wheelbase and sport bike geometry produce agile handling. Normally, instability at high throttle applications might be a problem with this amount of power. However, the excellent trellis frame and sophisticated electronics tame it. A steering damper isn’t fitted, and it never misbehaved. Hugely impressive. Being an ASBK rider isn’t necessary to put this thing through its paces. I’m not recommending it for beginners though. Kawasaki’s suspension choice is puzzling. On most bikes it would fine, but given the stellar nature of the engine, chassis and electronics, it’s a bit too cost effective in my view. Around town it’s fine, however as speed increases, the emulsion rear shock struggles with bumps. The ride is tiring after an hour or two. I pushed it hard through some rough corners on my test loop, and it surprised by holding a line better than expected (even as the rear danced around). So it’s by no means a “fail” and is fit for purpose — but I must wonder how much better it would be with a ZX-10 shock? The “not quite top shelf” brakes work very well. There’s good power and feel in any situation and the KIBS works a treat. Pull the lever and it predictably slows down, whether entering corners or going straight. It would take a serious track session before any real limitation showed itself, and possibly not even then.



The sophisticated dog ring gearbox works beautifully with the light “assist and slipper” clutch. The quickshifter isn’t tuned as well as other bikes I’ve ridden. Upshifts tended to be a bit brutal at high engine power (otherwise they were fine) and downshifts were occasionally clunky. I have the same set-up on my ZX-10 and it’s sublime, so it’s likely it could be improved. The Z is aerodynamically better than one would imagine — Kawasaki has done its homework. As with most naked bikes, the bug visor impact count is high, winter cold reaches the rider and highway speeds induce fatigue. That said, at speed, it’s not uncomfortable as the nose cone deflects a lot of air. Riders may be tempted to fit a fly screen. This may improve it, or make it worse. Fitting aftermarket screens can induce helmet buffeting as turbulent air spills off the screen… or not. The electronics are easy to use after the familiarisation process. If KTRC is disabled in Rider mode, it will stay disabled until instructed otherwise. If you want to do wheelies or give that bald rear tyre a good send-off, you can. Otherwise I don’t know why you’d disable it…




2020 KAWASAKI Z H2 (ZR1000K) ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve, in-line 4 Capacity: 998cc Bore x stroke: 76.0 x 55.0mm Compression ratio: 11.2: 1 Fuel system: Fuel Injection Intake system: Aluminium ducted supercharger PERFORMANCE Claimed maximum power: 200hp (147.1kW) at 11,000rpm Claimed maximum torque: 137NM at 8500rpm (overseas model) TRANSMISSION Type: 6–speed, dog-ring type Final drive: Chain Clutch: Assist and slipper clutch, wet multiplate

How well KTRC works depends on the software answers Kawasaki developed during its R&D. As far as I can tell, it seems to be particularly good. Using ignition retardation and throttle reduction, there’s quick and smooth intervention as required. It will come to the aid of the clumsy (usually) before an earth/sky moment develops. KCMF (corner management) and KIBS (intelligent ABS) don’t appear to be doing much but when “pressing on”, the bike is always predictable, never putting a foot wrong. I suspect they are more active than the rider realises. The Launch Control (KLCM) might be useful at a “run what you brung” drag night. I found Kawasaki’s Rideology phone app easy to use. It’s worthwhile as it logs where the bike’s been, and all the dash displayed parameters. You can also change the bike’s settings remotely. For prospective buyers, here’s a run-through of road test details. Quality of fit and finish is as good as it gets. The lights work well, and low beam has a nice spread. The TFT screen is easy to read day or night, but the switch block buttons are unlit. They’re tricky to use after dark. The radiator looks exposed to me and Oggy Knobs would be money well spent. The seat is well shaped, thin and firm. There’s good chassis feel through your butt, long-distance comfort not so much. Operating the cruise control is easy and assists with self-control where it’s required.

CONCLUSION Kawasaki’s long-time love of insane engines brings joy to all our lives and this bike continues that grand tradition. There’s more excitement than being in a telephone booth with an irritable gorilla; and like giving the gorilla a dose of Valium, the electronic package makes it all manageable. The suspension doesn’t match the superb kit available on some other Hypernakeds, but it’s an easy fix. The rest of the bike gives nothing away to the competition. If you want the king of real-world sports bikes, after some relatively inexpensive tweaks, I think this is the one. If you find yourself pinned in third gear, and the tacho passes 7000 rpm… you will see God (or not, but the bike will be pointing in his direction). ARR


CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR Chassis: Hi-tensile steel trellis. Front suspension: Showa SFF-BP telescopic fork, compression, rebound and spring preload adjustment Rear suspension: Swingarm (Uni Track link suspension), rebound and spring preload adjustment Front brakes: Hydraulic dual discs, 290mm, fourpiston calipers, ABS Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc, 226mm, single piston caliper, ABS Tyres: Front: 120/70 ZR 17M/C (58W) Rear: 190/55 ZR 17M/C (75W) ELECTRONIC RIDER AIDS Power mode selection: Four settings including rider custom setting Brake control (KIBS): Yes, lean angle sensitive Traction control system (KTRC): Three settings and “off” Quick shift system (KQS): Up and down Launch control (KLCM): Yes Cruise control: Yes Additional (KCMF): Six axis IMU and proprietary software for cornering and chassis management DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES Rake: 24.9° Trail: 104mm Claimed dry weight: Not given Claimed wet weight: 239kg Seat height: 810mm Wheelbase: 1,455mm Fuel capacity: 19L ETCETERA Price: $25,377 (ride away, NSW) Colour: Metallic Spark Black with Metallic Graphite Gray and Mirror Coated Spark Black Test bike supplied by: Kawasaki Australia Website: kawasaki.com.au Warranty: 2 years, unlimited kilometres

Developed with



Diavel 1260

So good to be bad. The world is at your feet and all eyes are on you‌ and your Diavel 1260. Its handling and agility will w{vsv^wV̇k{ÞĚ3]V̓—›Ě]sĂ”ÄšÂ“Â”Â˜Â”Äš3VwzGwzvVzÂ?GÄš93ÄšVi\^iVÙĚsk VvÂŽ{gÄšGiTÄšzkvu{V‡ĚGzÄšGi‡ĚwsVVTÙĚvVhG^i^i\Äš fluid and manageable for maximum riding pleasure. Its beefy and aggressive design makes a significant ^hsGQzÄšGiTÄš^wÄš[{vÂ?]VvÄšVi]GiQVTÄšP‡ĚV†zvVhVg‡Ě VggĂžV†VQ{zVTÄš[^i^w]^i\Äšzk{Q]VwÞĚ@k{ÄšQGiÄšPVÄškiVÄšk[Äšz]kwVÄš who admires. Or you can be one who is admired. The Diavel 1260: so good to be bad. DisplacementÄšÂ“Ă™Â”Â˜Â”ÄšQQĚò™™Þ’ĚQ{Äš^ióĚĺĚPower̓—›Ě]sĚò““™Ěf:óĚIJĚ›Ù—’’ĚvshĚĺĚTorque̛—ĚgPĂž[Â?Ěò“•Þ“Ěf\hÙ̓”›Ě"hóĚIJĚ™Ù—’’Ěvsh


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BMW R 1250 RS

PREMIUM BAVARIAN A sports-tourer with all the bells and whistles… BY: NIGEL PATERSON | PHOTOGRAPHY: BMW/PATERSON


MW shocked the world with its first RS model, back in the 1970s, producing a fully-faired machine that was comfortable, fast and handled well. The current RS still

ticks those boxes, and it does so really, really well. This model we rode is the Sport variant, which really means it comes with the Austin Yellow paint and various styling differences and equipment levels compared to the standard model and the Exclusive, the three models in the range (2019’s Spezial model has been dropped). If you’d like a distinctive look, there are the 719 Option accessories available. The Sport is, in many mays, the top of the range, with the highest level of standard equipment and electronics. As such it’s fast, capable and can be ridden all day without a masseuse waiting at your destination. At over 30 grand on the road, it’s priced at the top end of sportstourers available today, just as all the RS models have been. In 2020 you get a lot for your money, but there’s no getting away from the reality — it is a lot of money.




BMW R 1250 RS

SHIFTCAM ENGINE The engine in the R 1250 RS is the best Boxer engine I’ve ever experienced. The changes made for the latest 1254cc version have made it the smoothest, gruntiest, easiest-shifting and most fun Boxer ever produced. The 136hp are produced at 7750rpm, but you’ll almost never get there because the torque (143Nm at 6250rpm) provides so much mid-range it’ll have you rocketing between corners as fast as you want to go. On public roads I never found myself looking for more power or torque; sure, on bikes like the S 1000 XR it’s fun to get silly with all those extra horses, but you certainly don’t need them on Australia’s crappy roads. The ShiftCam engine has a differential inlet camshaft to provide different valve timing at different revs. At low engine speeds, the intake valves have reduced, asynchronous lift, which increases torque. At higher engine speeds the camshaft slides over to expose different cam lobes, increasing lift to produce more power. If you don’t understand the intricacies of valve timing,


The ShiftCam cylinder heads offer variable valve timing for a better spread of power.

BMW R 1250 RS

VARIANTS You can choose three different variants of the R 1250 RS, with the Option 719 special equipment also available. R 1250 RS: $23,320 + Government Charges Available only in Black Storm Metallic, the standard R 1250 RS for Australia features BMW Motorrad ABS, ASC (stability control), riding modes, TFT Connectivity Display, adjustable levers, one keylock system, engine spoiler and the Comfort Package: chrome exhaust, heated grips and tyre pressure monitoring. R 1250 RS Sport: $29,185 + Government Charges The model we tested, the Sport, is only available in Austin Yellow R 1250 RS Exclusive Metallic, with a white frame, silver anodised fork tubes, gold brake calipers and a stainless engine spoiler. The Sport additions include: HP Exhaust, chrome exhaust headers and Pure tank cover, the Touring Package (Dynamic ESA, keyless ride, GPS mount, cruise control, centre stand, pannier mounts and a luggage rack) and the Dynamic Package (daytime running lights, white LED indicators, gear shift assist pro, riding modes pro). R 1250 RS Exclusive: $28,185 + Government Charges The Exclusive is available only in Imperial Blue Metallic. It adds to the standard model the Dynamic Package (daytime running lights, white LED indicators, gear shift assist pro, riding modes pro) and the pure tank cover.


valve lift and asynchronous lift, don’t worry — what it adds up to is the smoothest, most powerful BMW twin ever. Torque is up 14 per cent on the older model but it feels like more. Other characteristics of the new Boxer motor are, in some ways, even more impressive than the ShiftCam technology — things like the gearbox, which is the slickest-changing Boxer we’ve ever ridden. At idle the 1250 shakes about like modern Boxers have for years, but when moving it smooths out beautifully.

ELECTRONICS AND EQUIPMENT There’s a pretty-much full suite of modern electronics on the R 1250 RS. There are safety features like the latestgeneration ABS and ASC (stability/traction control), convenience features like various riding modes and cruise control, a beautiful TFT instrument panel with Bluetooth connectivity, heated handgrips and now an LED headlight. The Sport model includes both the Touring Package (Dynamic ESA, Keyless Ride, Navigation Preparation, Cruise Control, Centrestand, Pannier Mounts and Luggage Grid) and Dynamic Package (Daytime Running Lights, White LED Indicators, Gear Shift Assist Pro and Riding Modes Pro). I really like the touring package for the ESA, or Electronic Suspension Adjustment. Having suspension which can be configured for the weight you’re carrying and the roads you are riding right now is a great thing. Cruise control and a centrestand should be standard equipment. I’m less impressed with Navigation Preparation and Pannier Mounts, for these should be supplied with the navigation system and panniers if you buy them — not fitted to your bike to look ugly until you spend more money. While they weren’t supplied on the test bike, I’ve used both BMW’s navigation system and panniers in the past, and both are well made and very good at doing their job. The navigation system, though, is becoming less and less necessary thanks to improvements in mobile phone navigation and interaction with Bluetooth-enabled instruments. Put simply, it’s getting less and less beneficial to use a navigation unit when your phone does such a great job, although there are benefits to having a dedicated GPS




BMW R 1250 RS




BMW R 1250 RS


THE COMPETITION The giant 6.5-inch colour TFT instruments are Bluetooth equipped and easy to read in all lighting conditions.

Sports-tourers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but if you want shaft drive, the R 1250 RS is your bike. MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso: $32,590 ride away You might think an 800 can’t compete

MV Agusta Turismo Veloce Lusso

Yamaha Tracer GT

with a 1250, but with 110 horsepower and pushing only 192kg, MV’s Turismo Veloce has plenty of sports-touring performance. Standard panniers, LED lights, semi-active suspension, heated grips and a centre stand are all standard. Yamaha Tracer GT: $20,349 ride away Three pots, a protective fairing and a reasonably upright riding position make this MT-09based machine great for touring while still offering decent sports performance. Full-colour TFT instruments, quick shift, cruise control and standard panniers.

Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX: $17,199 + ORC Kawasaki’s 2020 Ninja 1000SX is now in its fourth generation and offers lots of performance, technology and versatility for a low price. Sportier than most of the bikes in this line-up yet still with reasonable comfort, the Ninja has an adjustable screen, thick padded seats, cruise control, quickshifter, advanced electronics and various power modes. Hard luggage is an option. Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Akrapovic muffler on the test bike was an optional extra.


For the wild but not too wild

THE NEW 9 Ëż 6 7 5 2 0       $9$,/$%/(12: Build yours at suzukimotorcycles.com.au

unit and ARR is currently preparing an article for a future issue which goes to the heart of navigation.

SUSPENSION AND BRAKES Suspension which automatically responds to the way you ride and the road surface it’s being impacted by really is the future. Being able to configure it to the load being carried and how you’d like it to perform is an added bonus, which is all there for the button pressing on an ESA-equipped R 1250 RS. Optional on the base model and standard on the Sport and Exclusive, Dynamic ESA sets the spring preload automatically based on the riding conditions, weight of rider, passenger and luggage. Damping is adjusted on the fly, changing in milliseconds to provide the best-handling, most comfortable and confidence-inspiring ride it can. The different riding modes selected by the rider — Road, Dynamic, Pro — prompt the system to provide a sportier set-up.

RIDING MODES The R 1250 RS Sport includes Rain, Road and Dynamic Pro modes. You can guess what the first two are aimed at doing; Dynamic Pro is for even sportier riding. Selecting Dynamic Pro will reduce the intrusiveness of the DTC


BMW R 1250 RS


(Dynamic Traction Control) but more importantly each characteristic of the systems can be tailored to suit an owner’s preference. On the bumpy roads Australian Road Rider tests bikes on, the R 1250 RS’s suspension performance was excellent. The Dynamic suspension system proved itself capable of keeping the wheels on the ground where they belong while keeping the rider comfortable. On a sports-tourer like the RS, having electronic suspension which adapts automatically to a poor road surface or freeway to someone jumping on the back for a ride is fantastic. While a carefully set-up conventional suspension system might perform better in some conditions, the dynamic suspension of the RS means you’ll almost never have to adjust suspension yourself, yet still get a close to perfect ride, which is pretty amazing.

ERGOS AND BODYWORK Fully faired machines generally punish their riders in Australia, because all the vents in the world can’t make up for the acres of plastic and Perspex in front of you heading down the highway. Sports-tourers, on the other hand, may still get a bit warm in the heat and you might be wishing for a bit more protection in the cold, but 90 per cent of the time for 90 per cent of riders, the RS offers a great compromise between protection and breeze. BMW has been designing its fairings in wind tunnels for decades, and the RS’s works really well, matching the design brief. The screen is manually adjustable, although not by much. It does angle forward as it lifts at the top more than at the bottom, improving its effectiveness at keeping the wind blast down. To change the position is simple but requires two hands, so it’s impractical to do so on the move. The seat is well designed, firm and comfortable all day. It’s really excellent, not getting in your way when pushing through corners but not being a plank on a long ride either. In standard trim seat height is 820mm, but feels taller — options include the low seat at 760mm (which I’m guessing would be pretty thinly padded) or the sports seat at 840mm. Nestled inside the fairing is a giant 6.5in TFT instrument panel that can display all sorts of information about your ride — even lean angle, not something I was expecting on a sports-tourer. It’s a comprehensive panel which provides lots and lots of info about the bike and what you’ve been doing with it. The Bluetooth connectivity of the giant instruments looks to be excellent (although I didn’t get the chance to try it out), with the system able to help you with navigation, display music that’s playing and lots more. On the app (BMW Motorrad Connected) you can create a route or upload a GPX (navigation) file to plan your trip. Or get the app to find you a route — scenic, winding or fastest. The bike’s handlebars have controls to directly access information and control aspects of your phone.



BMW R 1250 RS

THE RIDE The R 1250 RS is a distinctive motorcycle. The sport variant’s colour — what many would describe as matt gold and BMW calls Austin Yellow — is unusual and the white frame, black wheels, silver bellypan and Akropovic muffler all help to give it a unique look. The riding position is on the sporty side of neutral; like every RS before it, there’s a lean into the breeze and footpegs which aren’t forward, aren’t rearset, although they are high enough not to compromise cornering clearance. Lifting it off the sidestand reveals the notinconsiderable 243kg wet weight, but at least with the Boxer engine the centre of gravity is low. That weight includes 18 litres of fuel, enough to get you around 350km. BMW claims 4.75 litres/100km; I used a little more (but I’m tall, I stick up in the breeze, and I wasn’t trying to be conservative). Ride it slowly — on busy city streets — and it feels a touch heavy in the steering and you’ll feel a little weight on your wrists. As speeds rise, there’s enough breeze coming around the bodywork to lift that weight, making the RS very comfortable around the highway speed limit, and the sporty riding position starts to really come into its own when the countryside corners start flowing.


The tyres are just the right size — 120/70 ZR 17 front and 180/55 ZR 17 rear — which means you’ve got about a million options from touring to race when it comes to requiring new rubber. From tight bends signposted at 35km/h through to fast open sweepers, the RS goes where you point it, the grunty twin shortening the distance between corners to keep you focussed on the ride. While it’s not a race replica, a good rider can make very quick progress on a winding public road. The strong midrange means there’s no requirement to keep the revs in the stratosphere, while the ESA means the suspension responds to the road surface beautifully. If something starts to go awry, the RS is a better place to be than most bikes. BMW has been installing ABS longer than any other manufacturer and has got its systems working beautifully, even when cranked over. The riding modes are well sorted and the fuelling is essentially faultless. Add in the big brakes, LED lighting and the capability to do all this with a passenger and you’ve got a very capable motorcycle. Where the R 1250 R is the city roads blaster thanks to quicker steering and less bulk and the R 1250 RT is the long-distance tourer, the RS is the twisty road bike. Without any luggage it’s a fine day-ride bike, the fairing taking the blast so you can ride the twisty mountain roads you love all day long, yet it will get through the traffic in and out of town without fuss. And while it might not be quite so comfortable as the RT when luggage is attached and the open road beckons, it’s not back-breaking either. And that’s the ideal use case for the BMW R 1250 RS. It’s ideal for someone who rides hard in the twisties, spends more time in traffic than they might like, and does go on tour every now and then. ARR



2020 BMW R 1250 RS SPORT ENGINE Type: Air/liquid-cooled four-stroke flat twin engine, double overhead camshaft, one balance shaft and variable engine timing system BMW ShiftCam. Capacity: 1254cc Bore x stroke: 102.5 x 76mm Compression ratio: 12.5: 1 Fuel system: Electronic intake pipe injection Fuel: Premium 95 (adaptive 91 to 98) Electrical: 508W nominal PERFORMANCE Claimed maximum power: 134hp (100kW) at 7750rpm Claimed maximum torque: 143nm at 6250rpm TRANSMISSION Type: 6-speed, helical gears, Gearshift Assist Pro Final drive: Shaft Clutch: Wet, hydraulic

Chassis: Two-section frame, front and bolted on rear frame, load-bearing engine Front suspension: 45USD forks, 140mm of travel Rear suspension: Cast aluminium single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever. Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment Front brakes: Hydraulic dual discs, 320mm, four-piston calipers, ABS Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc, 276mm, single-piston caliper, ABS Tyres: Front: 120/70 ZR 17; Rear: 180/55 ZR 17 ELECTRONIC RIDER AIDS & INCLUDED EXTRAS Riding modes: Pro (Rain, Road, Dynamic, Dynamic Pro), Gearshift Assist Pro, white LED indicators, daytime running lights, heated grips, tyre pressure monitoring, luggage grid, 6.5in TFT instrument display, Electronic Suspension Adjustment, cruise control, centrestand, navigation preparation, pannier mounts, keyless ride, BMW ABS Pro — Cornering ABS, DTV — Dynamic Traction Control DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES Steering head angle: 62.3° Trail: 110.9mm Claimed wet weight: 243kg Payload: 217kg Seat height: 820mm (OE low seat: 760mm; OE sport seat: 840mm) Wheelbase: 1,530mm Fuel capacity: 18L ETCETERA Price: $28,215 (Sport model, excluding dealer delivery and government charges) Colour: Austin Yellow Test bike supplied by: BMW Australia Website: www.bmw-motorrad.com.au Warranty: 3 years, unlimited kilometres

STREET fighter

RRP $199.95

• Lightweight ABS • Removable Chin Area • Drop Down Visor • Multiple Style Options (Swap to Suit) • Q/R Buckle (Adjustable) • Removable / Washable Liner


1 helmet 4 OPTIONS






VIETNAM ON A BIG-BORE Riding a BMW GS through the highland of Vietnam is pretty special… WORDS BY: IAN LLOYD NEUBAUER | PHOTOS BY: IAN LLOYD NEUBAUER & PHAN THI LONG






s one of the most populous and financially successful countries in South-East Asia, Vietnam has gone from flat broke when it threw out the Western forces in the 1970s to now providing one of the highest standards of living of any country in the region. A part of that comes from tourism — the county is beautiful, safe and awesome to ride, which might explain why your ARR editor has toured there twice. When I was given to opportunity to do an adventure ride on a modern big-bore, it wasn’t a journey to miss. Tuan Nguyen has moved on from the early days of offering Soviet Minsk and Indian Royal Enfields to tourists and now runs the only tour company we know of in Vietnam offering BMW GS models. With an 80 per cent import duty on big bikes it was an expensive undertaking, but it means you can ride a bike well suited to the terrain and capable of going places smaller road bikes can’t. Now, Tuan and I have history. Five years ago, I travelled to Vietnam and rode with him north from the capital Hanoi to Dong Van, a mountainous region bracing the Chinese border I dubbed Vietnam’s “Hidden Himalayas” in a report for the BBC. It was an incredible adventure and I’d always wanted to return, and recently I did. But for this visit, Tuan plotted an alternative route heading west out of Hanoi to show me parts of the old Ho Chi Minh trail — a network of tracks used to smuggle manpower and supplies to the south during the war. And instead of old Bullets, we went armed to the teeth with the BMW F 800 GS.

THE HEROIN TRAIL “My father spent six years fighting in those mountains,” says Tuan, pointing at a series of limestone karsts that rise out of the ground like giant chess pieces at a village near the Laotian border. “He lost his hearing for a while from getting caught up in so many bombing raids. Did you know America dropped more bombs on Vietnam than they dropped on both Germany and Japan during WWII?” We get an inkling of an idea of the hardship Tuan’s father endured during this service when we hit one of the old access lines to the Ho Chi Minh trail — a 2m-wide walking trail hacked through the jungle. It’s a corruption of rock gardens and deep muddy ruts — and at times skirts deep ravines that leave no room for error. Tackling it is laborious in the 35-degree heat and I lose count of the number of times we get bogged, but it’s nothing our Beemers can’t dig out of. “During the war the only thing our soldiers had to help them carry things up these mountains were bicycles,” Tuan notes. “They’d load them with up to 500kg of ammunition.”






(3K Carbon from 1400g)






border zone that’s one of the largest opium-producing areas on earth. “The police have hidden cameras in many places around here and they play the footage of drug smugglers on the news so the public can help identify them. But the terrain is so complex the police really can’t stop them.”

At midday, we stop at a flyblown town for a couple of bowls of pho — delicious Vietnamese beef noodle soup. The locals are amazed by the size of our bikes and by the nature of our journey. “They say nobody comes here because of the terrible roads,” Tuan translates. “They don’t understand how coming here is our idea of fun.” We get more curious looks and comments from locals wherever we go, though one guy in particular makes Tuan a little nervous. “He asked many questions about you. Must be an undercover policeman,” he says, explaining how the Ho Chi Minh Trail is now a major drug-smuggling route from the Golden Triangle — a name coined by the CIA for the cross-

In the late afternoon, we merge onto a highway — a ribbon of steamrolled perfection that ebbs and flows around streams on an alluvial plain chequered with emerald-green rice paddies. After crawling through the jungle in low gear all day it’s a pleasure to let the throttle out and hear our Beemers purr — despite the large number of trucks on the road. “Ten years ago, this highway was a dusty road and only a few buses passed by every day,” Tuan says as we knock back a few beets and grilled pork with rice at a roadside stall later in the evening. “It’s brought opportunities for the locals and that’s good. But sometimes I think Vietnam is developing too fast.” Many of the sealed roads in Vietnam are excellent, which is why the country is a very popular motorcycle tourist destination, even if you’re not planning an adventure trip.





I’m awoken at 5am by patriotic tunes blaring from public loudspeakers — a hangover from the war. We see a much nastier hangover later that morning at a cafe: a baby with a lopsided skull who’s missing an ear. The deformity, Tuan

the asphalt has been ripped to shreds by heavy rains and even heavier vehicles. Every time we approach one we lay on the brakes, drop to second gear, stand up, bend the knees, find the cleanest entry line and muddle through before finding the cleanest exit line. When we stop for breaks we collapse on

explains, was likely caused by Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant the Americans used to burn the jungle in Vietnam and to deny guerrillas cover from dreaded B-52 bombers. “Many healthy women in Vietnam today bare children with deformities because Agent Orange is embedded in our genes,” he says. Motorbikes have a way of making one forget bad things, but as we career between hills that grow larger and take on crazier forms as we veer northwest, I still carry some of the heartache the baby’s mother must feel. We pass cone-like mountains hundreds of metres tall and ridgelines resembling rows of dragons’ teeth. And always in the background are blue-grey ranges, like folds in the hide of a giant who ate half the sky. The days melt into each other as we follow zig-zagging mountain roads laden with hundreds of hairpin turns where

the dirt while mumbling to ourselves about the sunburn, the cramps, our sore backs and swollen wrists. But overcoming these discomforts is part of the reward — along with shots of potent rice wine and gregarious feasts we are served every evening at quaint little homestays. In Vietnam, there’s no such thing as a light meal. Spring rolls. Crab soup. Barbecued chicken. Fish stew. Roast duck. Vegetables. Rice. Dipping sauces. Spices. Tropical fruit. More rice. More grilled meats. More greens. If there’s any space left on the table, they just bring more. One evening I’m stumbling around a homestay half drunk in the dark looking for a bathroom when I find a little room full of candles surrounding a framed photo of a Vietnamese man in military fatigues. When I return to the table, our host tells me it is a shrine for his late father who was killed by an


American sniper. But to paint the American GIs and Australian diggers who fought alongside them in this war as monsters is to twist the truth. Most were only in their teens, either conscripted or conned by their governments to go to war against the “yellow peril” and nearly 60,000 of them died face down in rice paddies. Some those who survived have actually returned to Vietnam to make peace with their former enemies. “My uncle once met an Australian man travelling through Vietnam who was stationed in Da Nang during the war,” says Tuan. “When they talked they learned they were in a battle together — on opposite sides of course. They hugged and cried together because they realised they could have killed each other. They were so happy to know the other was still alive.”

DREAM RUN Motorbikes let you access remote parts of the world most tourists will never see. They also teach you problem-solving skills because you can’t call the auto club when the shit hits the fan in the bush. Like the day we take a wrong turn into a tea field and hit a dead end. The trail is too thin to pull off a U-turn so we basically have to flip the 300kg motorbikes with our hands. The only way to do so is by leveraging specific parts of our bikes — one of the skills taught at a week-long instructional course at the BMW Motorrad school in Munich that tour leaders must attend to become official partners. But at $25,000 per head, it prices most Vietnamese out of the market. So Tuan learned to do it the hard way — by trial and error.




Another time I forget to switch off my ignition when we stop for lunch and by the time we return, my battery is flat. We solve the problem by stripping back a set of electric cables, connecting Tuan’s good battery to my flat battery and wait an hour or so for it to charge. And when we fall over on the trails we rush to each other’s aid, using brain, not brawn, to pick up our heavy bikes. Independence, mateship, cooperation and self-resilience: these are the key takeaways from adventure riding in Vietnam. Coming off in the dirt or mud is one thing. Coming off on asphalt is another thing altogether. One day I’m riding behind Tuan through a tight bend when a minibus comes barrelling towards us on a collision course. Tuan just manages to avoid it but I don’t; it clips my panniers and bowls me over. Fortunately, both the motorbike and I emerge unscathed. But an argument erupts between the bus driver and Tuan over who is at fault. Things heat up and the bus driver makes a near-fatal mistake when he pokes my guide in the chest. Tuan is tiny, only five-foot high, but he happens to be a fifth-dan red-belt kung-fu master. He was taught to fight by his father, who was taught by his father who once confronted a group of 12 armed men who broke into his home. Six of the intruders were killed in the melee; the other six laid swords down and begged for forgiveness. But today Tuan





"MOTORBIKES LET YOU ACCESS REMOTE PARTS OF THE WORLD MOST TOURISTS WILL NEVER SEE" decides turns the other cheek. “It would bring shame for me to fight with an ordinary man like him,” he says.

MORE INFO Tuan Nguyen offers guided tours in North Vietnam for $520 per rider per day using BMW 650, 800 or 1200cc GS adventure bikes. Hanoi to Saigon one way is $590 per day. Overland tours crossing into Laos, Cambodia and Thailand are $660 per day. See mototoursasia.com.

On the second-last day of our tour, we pull over to see the sunset over a wide curve in the Da River. Directly in front of us is a pyramid-shaped karst with spectacular vertical walls and rocky overhangs. To the right and left are staccatos of rice terraces set on impossibly steep hills — marvels of engineering probably dug with shovels and picks. And floating on the water, a mirror of silver and gold, are a few little boats where fishermen cast their nets. It is the most beautiful sight I have seen in my life. “My dream is to build a luxury eco-resort on this very spot with a swimming pool between the rice fields,” Tuan tells me, though his plans for his touring business are more proletarian. “I don’t care about becoming an official partner of BMW,” he says. “All I care about is bringing adventure riders to Vietnam. Make life a ride. Isn’t that BMW’s motto?” ARR




MORE ADVENTUROUS What’s an adventure bike? DR650? R 1250 GS Adventure? Or maybe CB500X… BY: NIGEL PATERSON | IMAGES: HONDA/ASHENHURST/PATERSON



here’s no getting away from the fact that some adventure bikes are big enough to come with their own postcodes. What grew out of making a road bike more dirt suitable has become a plethora of machines from 250cc to 1290cc. And how extreme do you want your adventure bike to be? One bellwether has been wheels — can an adventure bike have a front wheel smaller than 19in and should it be wire-spoked, not cast alloy? Like so many things, what works for one rider might not work for another. Honda seems to have decided its CB500X is attractive to adventure bike riders, because the company has upped the front wheel size from 17 to 19in among the changes, which will make it better on a loose surface. But will it make it a better bike on the road too, where the majority of CB500Xs will spend most of their lives?

WHO IS IT FOR? The old model seemed to be aimed at the European market, which loves adventure-styled road bikes. In Australia the CB500X was popular with commuters, tall riders restricted to LAMS machines and country people who found themselves on bad roads regularly, where the extra suspension travel of the X-model over the other CB500s really shone.





"AN ALL-ROUNDER WHICH IS COMFORTABLE, INEXPENSIVE, FRUGAL AND VERSATILE" Those features are enhanced in this new bike. It’s capable of taking on much tougher conditions than the old bike, thanks to the increased wheel travel and 19in front wheel. Interestingly, it does this without really sacrificing on-road performance. Maybe, just maybe, changing to the taller front hoop has resulted in less grip at extreme cornering angles and maybe, just maybe, the extra wheel travel means the suspension isn’t as taut when pushing hard, but the difference would be small and any buyer finding this has probably bought the wrong bike anyway! Honda has a range of mid-capacity road bikes better suited to this style of riding than the old CB500X was anyway, so to my way of thinking all the changes are positive. A friend of mine recently bought a CB500X — an experienced rider in his 50s, and it turns out he’s a typical buyer, someone looking for an all-rounder which is comfortable, inexpensive, frugal and versatile. Dave bought the last of the previous model and has already realised he should have waited for this one, because he does ride down lots of dirt roads.

THE ENGINE Honda’s venerable liquid-cooled 500cc vertical twin has been with us for ages now and it makes an excellent powerplant for a motorcycle. There’s enough power for highway cruising and overtaking, it returns great fuel economy, it’s used in a bunch of models so parts and servicing will never be a problem… it offers a great balance between cost, performance, reliability, fuel consumption and weight. The engine has enough capacity to offer decent midrange power and even a usable bottom-end — you don’t need to rev it to the stratosphere to get it moving and performance is pretty linear to peak power at 8600rpm (which is close to redline, so Honda’s now equipped the bike with a shift light). Fuel is sipped slowly from the 17.7-litre tank — we were getting better than 5L/100km while we had the bike on test.

THE UPDATES For the first five years or so of the CB500X’s existence it hardly changed at all, and was essentially a road bike with adventure styling and an upright riding position. Its slightly longer than average suspension travel and wideish handlebars made it more suitable on a dirt road than most of its other CB500 siblings, but it was still more your capable road bike than a genuine adventure machine. That’s changed with the current model. Gone is the 17in front wheel, replaced with a 19, and a narrower tyre, too: It’s a 110/80 rather than a 120/70. The narrower, higher-profile rubber is better suited to gravel roads and there are lots more options for more aggressive adventure or dirt bike tyres, too.





Honda has increased the fork rake by one degree to compensate for the new wheel, so trail stays the same at 108mm. The rear wheel is unchanged, the 17in hoop carrying 160/60 rubber… which I think is a bit wide for a 500cc LAMS adventure bike, but it’s not a big deal. More importantly, the suspension travel has increased. Front-wheel travel is up 10mm to 150 while rear-wheel travel has gone up an impressive 31mm to match the front at 150, while ground clearance has improved, too. Some won’t appreciate the changes, because it’s pushed the seat height up 22mm to 832mm. Honda has tried to compensate by narrowing the seat near the tank — a slim seat makes reaching the ground easier for everyone.


The result is this bike is better suited to taller riders, but it’s still one of the easiest adventure bikes to manage if your legs are short, because it’s relatively light and well balanced. The engine is much the same, although Honda’s claiming single-digit increases in torque through the midrange, achieved through better fuelling via the injection system and altered valve timing. The exhaust system has been updated to meet Euro5 and sound better, while a new radiator shroud directs radiator heat away from the rider. The clutch has a lighter pull and new slipper design, and the transmission has been refined for better shifting. Other changes include a taller screen, new digital instruments, rubber-mounted tapered handlebars, redesigned fuel tank and LED lighting.


ON-ROAD PERFORMANCE The CB500X has always been an easy bike to ride on the road, thanks to its wide handlebars, neutral steering and sit-up riding position. This new model is not vastly different in any way, although the new front wheel, higher ground clearance and taller seat make it slightly less suitable for some people but superior to the old bike for others. Learners and shorter riders will have less confidence on the new bike, but more experienced riders may find it’s a better bike in a traffic snarl, thanks to its improved ability to jump kerbs and sneak through gaps. The handlebars, although wide, are higher than most car mirrors, so filtering is easy, and the turning radius (steering lock) has been improved, which makes it easier to go around obstacles at low speed and throw quick U-turns. The now-adjustable screen can go up and down, but not by much: I’ll wager most owners will set-and-forget in the position that suits them on the day and never adjust it again. In the city the CB500X is a great choice, slipping through traffic easily. It would make a great courier bike, if we still had motorcycle couriers. On freeways and the open road the sit-up riding position takes its toll somewhat, although the taller screen helps deflect some of the blast. If you spend a lot of your time on freeways and eating miles on highways, maybe the


Adjustable forks and a spot for accessory power.

upright riding position will induce a bit more fatigue than many road bikes.

ADVENTURE BIKES, DEFINED Wide handlebars, a sit-up riding position, long travel suspension and a tall and relatively skinny front tyre are all characteristics of dirt bikes, and generally adventure bikes which work well off the tarmac use a similar formula. Where things differ is dirt bikes will have a 21-inch front wheel (most adventure bikes use a 19), are lighter, have less bodywork, singlecylinder engines (most adventure bikes have two pots, although singles and triples exist) and then there’s luggage capability. If you can get OEM or aftermarket luggage to suit a particular bike, someone is going to call it an adventure bike. Likewise, an upright riding position and Paris-Dakar styling will have people believing a road bike can somehow negotiate a desert crossing. Here at Australian Road Rider, we like bikes that are happy to take on dirt roads and even fire trails, but we’re not into hard-core adventure riding, which requires special tyres, long-range tanks and ePirbs. We’re happy to consider any bike that is designed to be used on gravel roads to be an adventure bike… and we’ve been known to take road bikes onto the slippery stuff on occasion, too.

Some of the best switchblocks in the business.

Instruments are pretty good for an inexpensive bike.




"…THIS NEW BIKE — IT’S CAPABLE OF TAKING ON MUCH TOUGHER CONDITIONS THAN THE OLD BIKE…" In the twisties you’re quickly reminded the CB500X is no sportsbike, with the pre-load-only adjustable suspension bouncing over bumps, more dive under brakes than I’d really like, and feel and confidence from the front end is a little lacking. But we’re a long way from the bike’s design brief here, and I think most riders considering a CB500X will know the compromises made by Honda to build an affordable adventure bike means it can’t compete with a CB500R on a winding road. Standard on Australia models is ABS, which is good, but it can’t be switched off in the dirt, which is bad. The brakes themselves consist of a single disc at each end, which, by modern standards, are a little underpowered but it’s not a big deal.


Suzuki DL650 V-Strom

BMW G 310 GS

Kawasaki Versys X-300


Suzuki DL650 V-Strom – from $10,990+ORC Bigger, heavier and more expensive, where the CB500X is a small bike with a midcapacity motor, the V-Strom is a big bike with a small motor. Very capable, very popular, much-loved and bloody good. BMW G 310 GS - from $8,199 Ride Away With its single cylinder powerplant but less weight, the smallest BMW GS is another great example of a small allroads bike. Nicely equipped and worth a look. Kawasaki Versys X-300 - $6,599+ORC Two pots and a similar target audience to the Honda, the smallest Versys has a screamer of an engine and a capable chassis. We like the standard rack and spoked wheels.

Where the CB500X really shines is on poorly surfaced and bumpy roads, where the extra suspension travel and riding position inspire confidence; where sportsbikes need to back-off because of poor road conditions, the CB500X can keep powering on. This is a bike you can ride all day; it’s comfortable, the riding position is neutral and there’s nothing there to induce fatigue. There’s a variety of after-market products available to carry lots of luggage and you can strap stuff onto the back seat pretty easily.

OFF THE BITUMEN 17-inch front wheels are not suitable for dirt roads. Yes, many road bikes will cope with a decent dirt road, but I was forced to slow to around 70km/h on one recently, the sharp edges of the embedded rocks making me worried about a puncture. 19-inch wheels don’t fall into holes nearly as disastrously and don’t get punctures nearly as often. Longer travel suspension soaks up the bumps and makes the ride more comfortable, safer, less fatiguing and faster. So for all those out there who say the CB500X is not a “proper” adventure bike, I say adventure is in the eye of the rider: what’s one person’s adventure is another’s walk in the park. While the CB500X won’t take you places an Africa Twin might, the bigger machine is a very serious piece of kit for very serious riding, built for experienced pilots. The CB500X is designed for dirt roads and light trails, and in those conditions it’s not just fine, it’s capable, suitable and fun. Of course, an experienced rider might over-tax the suspension pretty quickly or be disappointed the ABS can’t be switched off, but keep in mind this is a sub$10,000 machine, not a high-performance race bike.


HONDA CB500X MY2020 ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, parallel twin Capacity: 471cc Bore x stroke: 67mm x 66.8mm Compression ratio: 10.7:1 Engine management: PGM-FI electronic fuel injection PERFORMANCE Claimed maximum power: 33.9kW (46.4hp) at 8500rpm Claimed maximum torque: 41.30Nm @ 7000rpm

CONCLUSION The CB500X is very much at the soft-roader end of the Adventure bike spectrum, offering limited dirt road capabilities. As a road bike that is capable of taking its rider to places you wouldn’t feel comfortable taking a road bike, it’s great, and it’ll do that in addition to being an awesome commuter and pleasant touring mount. It’s well suited to tall learners, returning riders or anyone looking for a versatile, comfortable, frugal and easy-to-ride machine. ARR

TRANSMISSION Type: 6-speed Final drive: Chain Clutch: Wet, multi-plate, slip-assist CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR Frame: Diamond steel Front suspension: 41mm telescopic fork with adjustable pre-load, 150mm of wheel travel Rear suspension: Pro-link with adjustable pre-load, 150mm of wheel travel Front brake: 1 x 310mm disc, ABS Rear brake: 1 x 240mm disc, ABS Wheels: Cast alloy Tyres: F: 110/80 — 19; R: 160/60 — 17 DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES Rake: 27.5° Trail: 108mm Claimed curb mass: 197kg Seat height: 830mm Wheelbase: 1,443mm Fuel capacity: 17.7 litres ETCETERA Price: $8999+ORC Colour: Matte Gunpowder Black Metallic Test bike supplied by: Honda MPE More info: motorcycles.honda.com.au Warranty: Two year, unlimited kilometres




TEA, TIGERS AND TWISTIES Switchback-laden roads, chaotic cities and tea, tea at every stop. We must be in India… STORY BY: BRIAN RIX | PHOTOS BY: RIX, SHIRLEY HARDY-RIX AND LEE ATKINSON






’m awoken by the sound of small motorcycles buzzing up and down the road outside our hotel. Out the front gate and over the road is a beach with vendors selling coconuts and other local delicacies under palm trees and five kilometres of beach to walk. But we’re here to ride motorcycles in chaotic, enchanting, beguiling India. We’d landed in Kochi, a Southern Indian city of 3.5 million people, the night before to ride through the jungles and forests of Kerala and Tamil Nadu with four couples, all good friends. Dan Benster, an ex-pat pom, and his Indian partner Niaz run Kerala bike tours and have planned a 12-day ride on venerable Royal Enfields. Parked under a marquee are six late-model Royal Enfields. All 500cc but different model derivatives. There’s the army camo Desert Storm — single seat that military buff Margaret claims as hers; a shiny gloss black Classic that Bill and his wife Lee have dibs on; Guy takes the pale-blue single-seat one; Grant has another classic; Julia grabs the other single-seat sky-blue bike; and the pillion in a million and me have the stealth matt black Royal Enfield Thunderbird. Dan and Niaz have names for all their bikes — mine is Khalia. Dan is there to greet us and drives through the darkened back streets, giving the Indian safety device a workout even at this hour, warning drivers on the other side of blind corners that we’re coming through. I better get my head back in the zone. We last rode India way back in 2004. With a day to get over jet lag, we all take a ride on our new steeds. Even in a beach-side village the traffic appears on the chaotic side to us. In reality, it’s quiet by Indian standards. A trundle to the nearest petrol station and back is a good way to get used to the bikes and check out the local shops. You soon work out that as long as people see where you want to go, generally they’ll make room for you — most of the time, but not always. Not busses or trucks. You soon work out that might is right, no matter what. Riding back to our hotel, my bike is making a horrible clattering noise as the revs rise. It seems to be coming from under the tank or the head area. One of our number, let’s call him the mechanic, diagnoses a problem in the head and doubts that Khalia will make 12 days. As we’re all scratching our heads, I happen to lean on the petrol cap with the engine running. The clattering metal-on-metal noise stops instantly. Our host Dan remembers that Khalia’s petrol cap needed repair after its last trip. No problem, a piece of cardboard jammed between the offending metal bits and all fixed. A day lazing by the beach, a feast consumed under the palm trees by the light of flaming torches, and a rider briefing by Dan ends a relaxing first day in Kerala. Okay, let’s do it. Dan, riding his Enfield, leads the way while Niaz and the tour mechanic Sonthash drive the Mahindra 4WD back-up truck and luggage hauler affectionately known as “The Beast”. We all feel the excitement of finally hitting the road on another adventure. Travelling with good friends makes it all the more enjoyable.








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Use the horn, but not aggressively — it’s the best safety device. Use it when passing or to let others know you are there. Spatial awareness. Get used to things close to you. (We’ve experienced this before where the pillion in a million would fend cars off with her hands when riding the big GS. On the much smaller Enfield, this would be interesting.) Remember, undertaking is the norm. Where there’s a space, someone will try to fill it. You are small. Cars, trucks and buses will expect you to move over to the edge of the road to let them through, oncoming or overtaking. Do it. Buses — give them plenty of room. Remember they all stop for passengers anywhere. Smaller buses are private operators and are competing for the next passenger, so they drive hard and fast. Cows always walk forward. Ride behind them. Overtake for yourself, don’t try to overtake just to keep up with the bike in front. How often do you see a group of riders taking unnecessary risks trying to keep up with their mate rather than just waiting? In India this is even more dangerous. Assume that indicators and brake lights don’t work. Be vigilant at junctions/intersections — don’t assume anyone will stop for you. Might is right. Self-explanatory but always be prepared to stop. Elephants — will go for a bike, not you (generally), but steer clear if you can. Road rage is rare — don’t start it. If you’re alive, what’s the problem? Flashing headlights at you mean “I’m coming through” — nothing else. Keep you sense of humour, relax, smile and enjoy.


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These are sensible rules, most of which can be applied to everyday riding anywhere — except the one about elephants!


The late-model Enfields are surprisingly easy to ride, not like the old ’66 model I have in the shed. Riding through morning traffic on the outskirts of Kochi, we get the feel for the traffic and road conditions. I find the Thunderbird Enfield quite responsive two up and while a little cramped compared to our normal ride, Shirl and I find a comfortable set-up albeit the suspension travel has its limits. These bikes are perfect for India. I find the engine and gearbox well suited, with enough acceleration to pull away from most traffic. The steering is predictable and well balanced

for feet-up slow manoeuvring. Anything up to 90-100km/h doesn’t stress things. After that, downhill is your friend. Leaving the confines of Kochi, we amble through rubber plantations and get used to the traffic. There are pilgrims walking barefoot through the jungle and roads to some festival that I don’t understand. Suffice to say there’s heaps of them. Our group gets smiles and waves everywhere. Passing through towns which are not wealthy, there are huge well-kept churches. These stark white edifices stand out among dusty streets, modest houses and shops. We pass




through pineapple plantations and forested areas. Dan makes sure we stop every hour or so for a break, tea, coffee and a stretch. The local lads smile and laugh and want their photos taken with us to show their friends. Our first night on the road is in an elephant reserve called 7th Heaven. Turning off the main road, we’re on a rutted bush track for a few kilometres to reach our accommodation nestled in the jungle. The Enfields track well on terrain like this. We’re greeted with monkeys playing in the trees, a cool drink and a warm welcome. The accommodation is beautiful wooden villas with a refreshing pool to cool off. Dan has organised a boat tour on the Periyar River and dam. Our boat cruise is through the jungle where deer, monkeys and elephants are common. Tigers are also in the area but we don’t cross paths with any — I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. Each morning, Sonthash ensures all the bikes are checked over, cleaned and lined up. I could get used to touring with my own mechanic. After another day of cruising through jungles, forests, watching out for elephants and avoiding where they’ve left their mark, we ride into the state of Tamil Nadu. That means a police check point and process where bike registrations etc are recorded. Our fixers do it all. Be aware that some areas here in the south have strict rules about bringing alcohol across state lines. Many villages are alcohol free. If you must have a tipple, you have to be discreet. The accommodation Dan sources for this tour are first class and varied. Our second and third days are in Sinna Dorai’s Bungalow in the middle of the Parry organic tea plantation. The house and bungalows are old school from the bygone era of the British Empire. Our room was occupied by “Colonel Brock” with the appropriate period features. A side tour of the tea-manufacturing process is a real eye opener, with some machines dating back to the 1940s still in use today. If you like riding switchback roads, come to Kerala. They often count off the tight turns as you wind up or down high mountain or hill-top roads. One road had over 90 hairpin turns. The town of Ooty was once the place where royalty came to the hills to escape the oppressive seasonal humidity. Again, we stay at the best in town, the Taj Savoy, where flower wreaths and cake presented on a silver platter greet guests.





Our time in Tamil Nadu is more of the same. Snaking, undulating roads through forests, national parks and reserves. Some areas limit travel after dark due to the danger to and from animals. Check points make sure you are out of the restricted travel zones. Stopping for a break is usually at a viewpoint. If monkeys are around, watch your stuff. Helmets and gloves fascinate our curious furry relatives. One of our number, let’s call him Bill, left his tank bag slightly open. Zips are no challenge as a wet bag was purloined and taken up the nearest tree. We discovered that monkeys don’t like toothpaste or brushes! Staying in a jungle bungalow camp, watching deer, monkeys and assorted wildlife while sipping on a G&T is hard work! The morning wakeup call is a troupe of monkeys gallivanting across the tin roof, verandah and garden furniture. After exploring the national park, it’s on the Enfields once again for the run back into Kerala State and the coast. Again, the terrain varies and never disappoints. In the more populated towns, rider survival skills are essential. Don’t forget, might is right and any space is fair game, even a footpath or drain. Dan has chosen a nice resort with bungalows on the beach south of Cochin at Alappuzha. It’s a short stroll to the beach, which has its own fishing village market. Perfect for washing


the dust off and relaxing before heading back into Cochin proper for our last night in this fascinating corner of India. Our last ride is along beach roads, past where the tsunami washed away coastal villages and into the back streets of the old town, where Vasco De Gama plied the spice trade to Europe. Kochi is a bustling working port and tourist town all rolled into one. A walk on the foreshore is a mixture of oldworld buildings, remnants of the British reign, huge fishing nets lowered on winches into the tidal estuary, and small freighters chugging up and down. Throw in flash open-air restaurants on the water where you can get a cold beer and fresh seafood to watch the passing parade. Again, the accommodation option Dan has chosen is first class. We have our own four-poster bed complete with insect net, a swimming pool in the courtyard and welcoming hosts. Take the time to explore the history of Kerala, the emergence of the spice trade and settlement of old Kochi town. You won’t be disappointed. Kerala Bike Tours run by Dan and Niaz is a first-class outfit with an intimate knowledge of this slice of the planet. If you are time poor or like the idea of a guided tour, love riding and aren’t afraid to expand your horizons, you won’t be disappointed in Southern India. ARR

MORE INFO Contact Kerala Bike Tours online at www.KerelaBiketours.com. They offer everything from bikes to rent to a high-end guided tour. We chose the latter and loved it. • Dan and Niaz will plan a route tailored to your preferences to see the best of Southern India. There’s nothing like local knowledge to find the best roads to ride. • How much? $AUD3600 bike and rider. Pillion $AUD2900. Includes very good accommodation, most meals, guide, back-up vehicle to carry luggage and mechanic on-hand for a personalised 12-day tour. • Beware of Indian bureaucracy — visa applications are online and you can only apply 30 days out from your travel date. Arrive at the airport with confirmation of where you’re staying and even with an E-visa, be prepared for a long wait. • Buy a local sim card at the airport — they’re cheap ($10) and will never run out. • The exchange rate is very good for us Aussies. • Brush up on your knowledge of cricket — the locals will love to chat with you. • Kerala is a Communist state and everyone seems happy!



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NEW TOY FOR THE TRAGICS The die-hard fans of the Yamaha Ténéré off-roads are known as Tragics, and the new 700 might swell their ranks… WORDS: PHIL JAMES | PHOTOGRAPHY: PATERSON/SUPPLIED


ll-terrain riders have been waiting for this bike since news of its production became public in 2017… It’s been a long wait. In that time, there have been new (or upgraded) 21in wheel bikes from KTM, BMW and Triumph. You could think Yamaha has missed the boat, and the bike currently being delivered is dated. So has it gone stale while in transit to dealerships? Before I answer that, I think it’s worth touching on Yamaha’s philosophy with the Ténéré name. It’s always been less about pointyedge performance and more about endurance; the production bikes are more Paris to Vladivostok than Paris to Dakar. Endurance is about reliability, comfort and enough performance to do the job — qualities the Ténérés have always had in abundance. I can attest to this as I owned a Ténéré 660 for years. Yes, it was slow, but it went anywhere you’d expect to get a touring motorcycle. It was crash resistant, “all day” comfortable, and as reliable as a 1960s Sidchrome spanner. The two-wheel equivalent of an old Toyota Hilux. During my ownership all the forums were banging on about how the TDM 850 engine would be a perfect upgrade (and effectively bring back the XTZ750 Super Ténéré, a twin produced from 1989-1996). Nearly 25 years later, Yamaha listened and delivered a new midcapacity twin. With the introduction of the Ténéré 700, the Hilux has got a turbo diesel and flashier trim — and it’s no longer scared of hills.






Standard luggage knobs for strapping stuff ot the pillion seat.

This heavy duty bash plate and radiator guard (below) are optional extras.

In the Adventure world, reliability is key. It’s a disaster if a bike “fails to proceed” in the wilderness. For the record, all bikes are pretty reliable these days, but the logic of “If it’s not there, it can’t break” is inescapable. While Yamaha doesn’t have the simplicity of the reliability king — the Suzuki DR650 — it does avoid the complexity of the Euro bikes and even its own XTZ1200. The chances of a non-crash-related failure aren’t that far from the Suzuki. Drowning it in a creek may be a survivable event. So it sits nicely in the middle, filling a previously vacant niche. The bike is an all-new, Adventure-specific design, not a repurposed road bike, although it does use the 689cc CP2 engine from the MT-07 and XSR700 road bikes. It develops 54kW at 9000rpm and 68Nm at a low 6500rpm. The engine mounts in a steel frame, with an integral subframe. I would prefer to see a bolt-on subframe, but it’s amazing how much crash damage can be rectified with a block of wood, and a hammer (did I mention I was a fitter?). Fully adjustable suspension is mated to an off-road spec, 21/18in tubed tyre wheelset. The wheelbase is long at 1590mm, and the seat high at 880mm. It’s a big bike. There’s a frame-mounted fairing to suit the bike’s highspeed, long-distance nature. Brakes are 282mm discs up front and a single 245 at the rear. They’re Brembos, but they’re not from a superbike, which is good; large powerful brakes would detract from its off-road ability. Owners will notice nice details like a large footprint side stand, easy air filter access, roller chain guides and integrated grab handles underneath the pillion seat. The lighting is excellent, if a little visually different by sticking with the “Dakar” theme. A handy power socket sits next to the instruments and the seat is soft enough for touring (after it breaks in). The pegs deserve a special mention as they have removable rubber inserts and are quite wide. Wide pegs make a difference when you stand on them for long periods. With the Ténéré 700, I’m not burdened with the need to write a detailed description of the electronics. There’s switchable ABS… that’s it. Yamaha says it doesn’t need anything more. Are they right? We shall see.

THE RIDE My first thought when picking up the bike was “how sweet is this engine”. It’s one of my favourites, and one of the best middle-weight engines out there. As far as mid-size twins go, it is strong and has good thrust at all engine revs. This all-round performance comes with smoothness, refinement and a super-slick gearchange, making it well suited to long-distance riding. Fast overtakes on the highway aren’t a strong point, but it




will manage. I actually prefer this engine to its bigger brother, the respected CP3 850 triple. When riding on dirt or tarmac, the simple nature of the bike is a virtue. The only decision riders have to make before starting is selecting (or not) the rear-wheel ABS. Having the option of doing this on the move would be nice, but you don’t. The rider takes responsibility for disabling it every time they start the bike. The bread-and-butter stuff works well. The side stand supports the bike on soft ground. Tie-down points adjacent to the seat are ideal for a roll bag. The instrument panel tells you everything you need to know. We noted it wobbles around over rough ground, which some might find a distraction, and there’s a sturdy bar above the instruments for a GPS or phone. Something most riders will initially notice is the clutch cover wants to occupy the same space as your calf muscle. It’s only when sitting; for me, once I stopped thinking about it, it didn’t bother me again. It’s not ideal, but not a problem either.

WILDERNESS RIDING ARR received the bike fitted with Pirelli off-road tyres, so we had a chance to evaluate the bike’s potential ability “off-piste” and it’s very good — considering it’s 200kg. It rides and feels like a big dirt bike. The wheelbase is 100mm longer than a typical dirt bike and the resulting larger turning circle needs to be factored in if attempting single-track trails. The fact

THE COMPETITION KTM 790 ADVENTURE R The latest and greatest from the company which defines itself by its off-road prowess and racing success. More powerful and much-more high tech than the Yamaha, and a lot more expensive.

BMW F 850 GS

THE SINGLES Suzuki’s DR650, the Kawasaki KLR650 and the SWM adventure bikes all run simple single-cylinder designs seemingly as old as motorcycling itself, and you can buy one for under 10K – but it’s likely it’ll take a bit more to be ready for the big tour. The singles make are a smart choice, but often a boring one, especially over long distances at highway speeds, on bitumen or gravel.

off-road focussed GS it has ever built, it weighs more and you can feel it in the dirt – but it’s nicer to ride on the bitumen, and is much better suited if you regularly carry a passenger.

BMW F 850 GS More adventure, less dual purpose,

TRIUMPH TIGER 900S The new boys on the block, built to go head-to-head with the BMW

although the 850 GS is BMW’s most

and KTM.

KTM 790 Adventure R

Suzuki DR650


DUAL SPORT RUBBER CHOICE I’ll define Dual Sport roads as any bitumen or dirt road you might drive a car along. Riders often ponder tyre choice for this. Just to confirm, there is no perfect choice. The choices are: off-road block pattern tyres (with big blocks), Dual Sport block tyres (with small blocks); or road-biased tyres with no blocks and a large contact patch. In the Ténéré’s case, we had time with each of the first two. Although good in dirt, the off-road tyres initially fitted were completely unsuitable for bitumen. Once urban speeds were exceeded, they couldn’t lean past 20 degrees, had poor braking, odd steering, and the noise drowned out everything else. I didn’t ride them in the wet but I think it would have been… interesting. All things considered, they’re only suitable for short hops on the tarmac. It’s only in slippery off-road situations where they have an advantage. Consequently, we arranged for the OEM 50/50 tyres to be fitted for the remainder of the test (being done on C roads). With these tyres (Pirelli Scorpion Rally STRs), all the issues disappeared. The lower-height and larger-area blocks had less flex and a larger contact patch. Braking and steering on hard surfaces went from quite bad, to not bad at all. The more parabolic profile gave decent lean angles, allowing corners to be attacked in the normal manner. They still worked pretty well in the dirt too, not giving up as much as you’d think to full off-road rubber. Choosing the most suitable tyre is going to come down to either what you expect to spend the most time doing (wilderness or roads), or fitting the tyre that best deals with your weakest riding skill. If you’re an inexperienced dirt rider, don’t make it harder for yourself by taking on trails with road-biased rubber. In the Ténéré’s case, I think the OEM 50/50 rubber gives it the widest range of capabilities, and you’d want a good reason to move away from that. As this is a 21/18in wheel bike, road-biased rubber isn’t really relevant. That type of tyre is more suited to a 19/17in wheel bike.




"…HAVING 150HP ISN’T AN ADVANTAGE, BEING LIGHTER IS" you’d even think about doing single track on a bike this size is praise in itself. Although it’s physically large, the 50kg weight reduction compared to a 1200cc adventure bike helps it enormously. There’s more grip in all situations as the tyres don’t have to work as hard. As a rule of thumb, below 90km/h, 50hp is the most you can put through an off-road tyre; any more and it’s just wheel spinning fun. So having 150hp isn’t an advantage — being lighter is. The Ténéré’s suspension isn’t state of the art, but it’s up to the job. For fast trail riding, the suspension was firmed up to 90 per cent of its maximum stiffness. With this setting, it absorbed hits and maintained resistance to bottoming. I’d still call it “plush” and is correct for this style of bike. Why? At high speed (a likely scenario), a big hit from an unavoidable rock is absorbed and the bike isn’t deflected offline. A stiff “competition” setting wouldn’t do that — the bike would get thrown in the air and often the rider on the ground. If you’ve watched any Dakar footage, you’ll know how quickly it happens… and how badly it can end. The suspension will cope with small jumps if you need that. Engine fuelling is spot on, providing a carburettorlike link to the back tyre. Yamaha says separate engine maps aren’t required and I’d agree with that. The broad spread of power allowed just the right amount of wheelspin to be dialled up. Slides were easily initiated and controlled. Traction control would only be an advantage in very slippery situations. As said above, it’s a nice powerplant. The fuel range could be a problem; it’s a 16-litre tank and it’s a bike which will wander a long way from petrol stations. Riding along rough tracks at speed was quite natural for the bike and rider. It was a case of picking your line and speed, and the bike just did it. How good is it? I think it’s possible riders may entertain the idea of trail riding with their dirt bike mates. I’m not going to say this is a good idea, but it’s not a feeling many other multi-cylinder bikes would engender.

The brakes are good, with switchable off-road ABS .

The rear shock is fully adjustable and pretty good - most riders won’t bother replacing it.

DUAL SPORT TOURING This isn’t a Rally Raid bike — despite appearances. It’s an off-road touring bike and the long travel suspension is ideal for this kind of work. It has this ability to effortlessly float along at three-figure speeds. Its standard setting doesn’t wallow excessively, yet it’s soft enough for comfort and grip on the rough roads that cover our fair land — roads that owners of this bike will be attracted to. A long wheelbase and large front wheel deliver a package with slower steering than many road-biased bikes. This setting works to its advantage when punting along a rough dirt road as it provides stability and




negates the need for a steering damper. The flip side is, at higher speeds on tarmac, there’s a bit more effort to steer the bike. The rider may feel more fatigued at the end of a long day. The engine has an effortless feel as it just purrs along, making a pleasant sound to keep you company. If you want to “press on”, the gearbox is a willing assistant, making it easy to get the best from the engine. The rider is comfortable and unstressed as the surprisingly effective screen/tank combination deflects air out of the way. I did notice a bit of turbulence coming off the screen, but changing helmets eliminated it for me. There may be an issue here for some, but it’s not a biggy; aftermarket screens are available at a reasonable cost.

SPORT TOURING If this is your passion, the Ténéré isn’t the best choice, but it will do it. As mentioned, the large-diameter wheels and geometry slow the “turn in” compared

SIZE MATTERS A big issue for many riders looking at this bike will be its size. I’m 170cm and as you can see from the pictures, it dwarfs me (many things dwarf me). While I can manage it in most situations, it gets tricky below 10km/h. When you have to “dab”, the bike often gets to the “I’m going to fall over” point, before your foot gets to the ground. Doing a U-turn in a tight situation is either a graceful demonstration of “feet up” rider skill… or a train wreck. Fortunately, Yamaha hasn’t completely abandoned those of us who have trouble reaching the top shelf in Coles. The accessory catalogue contains lowering links to reduce seat height by 18mm. When teamed with the optional 20mm lower seat, it comes down from the original 880mm to 842. Riders with a height of 175cm or less might have to factor either, or both into the purchase. On the other side of the coin, riders over 180cm won’t feel like they’re riding a minibike. Although the bike’s centre of gravity is relatively high (especially when full of fuel) it is well balanced and taller riders will have no trouble with low-speed manoeuvring. I’m sure the high ’bars, in particular, will be greatly appreciated. They must be close to the highest OEM ’bars out there. The seat-to-peg distance might be a bit cramped for long days in the saddle. My legs are short and it was ok, but I did think “it wouldn’t want to be any less”. The accessory “Rally” seat, which I’m told is taller, should sort this out if it’s needed.








2019 YAMAHA TÉNÉRÉ (XTZ690) ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve, 2-cylinder Capacity: 689.0 Bore x stroke: 80.0 x 68.6mm Compression ratio: 11.5: 1 Fuel system: Fuel Injection

to a 17in wheeled bike. However, once up to speed, it rolls through a

filtering too. Like any softroader, it makes short work of gutters and

set of corners with conviction and has enough pace to stay with fastcruising road bikes. This isn’t just speculation! I chased editor Nigel at a “brisk” pace for 30km on a BMW R 1250 RS. The BMW did this pace with a lot less effort (of course). I’m also sure Nigel could have shaken off the Ténéré if he’d wanted to, but it would have required total commitment. My last name isn’t Stoner or Miller and I was on dual sport block tyres, yet the Ténéré managed to keep up without taking any risks. When he pulled over, there was no hanging around waiting for the chook chaser to arrive. You just have to be impressed. The key to good speed on twisty roads is to use the quality of the suspension to make up for the power deficit. Picking a good line, and using a smooth riding technique, is the best approach, rather than typical big bike “stop, turn, go”, much like riding a small-capacity bike at a racetrack.

median strips if that’s needed. On the other side of the ledger, the block tyres work against it, as does the long wheelbase blowing out the turning circle (compared to a typical commuter bike). As an occasional commuter, it’s fine. If it is to be used every day for more than very short trips, perhaps other options should be explored.

COMMUTING It’s a bit of a mixed bag. The elevated riding position gives an excellent view of what’s happening around you and the engine is robust and economical. The high mirrors and ’bars can be an advantage when

CONCLUSION The old Ténéré 660 was a cult bike among the long-distance, go-anywhere set. I’m sure they would have sold more, but for a singlecylinder bike, they were expensive. The Ténéré addresses all the issues of the old bike (more power and refinement with better suspension) and does it at a price that is good value. It still maintains the KISS philosophy as much as it can, and it works. When riding it, you don’t spend time thinking about which power mode or traction setting you’re in. I think this is what a fair slice of the market looks for in this style of bike. It will hold its value well too, as there’s unlikely to be a major update anytime soon. You won’t be left riding the “old model” after 18 months. The Ténéré 700 will be the start of a new chapter for Ténéré Tragics, and it’s been worth the wait. ARR

PERFORMANCE Claimed maximum power: 74hp (54.kW) at 9000rpm Claimed maximum torque: 68NM at 6500rpm TRANSMISSION Type: Six-speed Final drive: Chain Clutch: Wet multiplate CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR Chassis: Double cradle steel tube. Front suspension: Upside-down telescopic fork, compression and rebound adjustment, 210m travel Rear suspension: Swingarm (link suspension), shock with compression, rebound and hydraulic preload adjustment, 200mm travel Front brakes: Hydraulic dual discs, 282mm, four-piston calipers Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc, 245mm, single-piston caliper ABS: Switchable Tyres: Front: 90/90 R21 M/C 54V; Rear: 150/70 R18 M/C 70V DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES Rake: Not given Trail: Not given Claimed wet weight: 204kg (full tank) Seat height: 880mm Wheelbase: 1,590mm Ground clearance: 240mm (min) Fuel capacity: 16L ETCETERA Price: $17,149 (ride away) Colours: Ceramic Ice, Competition White, Power Black Test bike supplied by: Yamaha Motor Australia Warranty: 2 years, unlimited kilometres




BIKER FRIENDLY! Thinking of a different route to take on your next epic ride? This new section is designed to inspire you. We will present snapshots of epic touring regions and, importantly, the iconic bike-friendly pubs, cafes and accommodation to aim for. If you have a ‘must see’ pub or cafe that you think we should all know about, contact us at roadrider@umco.com.au

Come and Stay at the Allamar motel, the best views in Vic, sitting inside the famous Tawonga Gap. With multiple thrilling bike routes, High Plains Road to Falls Creek onto the Mitta Highway to Anglers Rest and the famous Blue Duck to Omea Mt Hotham - every ride will be a joy. The Allamar Motel has Bar Zaks, allowing patrons to enjoy a cold beer after a long ride. The motel can also accommodate 10 couples or 15 singles with 10 fully serviced queen rooms. A great barbeque area and a free taxi ride to local eateries. 33 Ranch Road, Tawonga South VIC 3698 P: (03) 5754 4365 M: 0428 250 551 E: info@allamarmotorinn.com.au www.allamarmotorinn.com.au


26 E Fitzroy Street, Walcha NSW 2354 Enquiries: (02) 6777 1117 After Hours Bookings: (02) 6778 0224 E: walchacafe@optusnet.com.au www.walcharoyalcafe.com.au

FACILITIES • Picnic area • BBQ facilities • Terrace & garden • Bar

• Air conditioning • Heating • 24-hour security • Free private parking is possible on site

Located at the roundabout on Church St, the main street of Gloucester, with off street lock up parking via Queen Street. The Roundabout Inn has been newly renovated inside and out providing a comfortable friendly atmosphere with accommodation, function and catering facilities. The friendly staff and patrons are never short of a welcoming smile, don’t forget to drop in and say G’day!

28 Church Street Gloucester NSW 2422 P: (02) 6558 1816 E: info@roundaboutinn.com.au www.roundaboutinn.com.au

FACILITIES • Function and catering facilties • Stunning seasonal menu with both bistro and a la carte available

• Entertainment and live music • Comfortable accommodation with discounts for family rooms, trades and group bookings

The Mallacoota Hotel Motel is conveniently situated in Mallacoota’s main street close to shopping, playgrounds, tourist information and easy access to all that Mallacoota and Croajingolong National Park have to offer. Just minutes to the fabulous beaches and walking tracks of the Wilderness Coast.

51-55 Maurice Avenue, Mallacoota VIC 3892 (PO Box 43) P: (03) 5158 0455 F: (02) 5158 0453 E: inncoota@bigpond.net.au www.mallacootahotel.com.au

FACILITIES • Bistro • TAB • Sky Channel • Bottleshop

• Beer garden • Air conditioned rooms • Secure parking • Saltwater pool

A great dining experience with function room, licensed bar and excellent accommodation. With a relaxed & friendly environment we are the perfect spot for a quick bite or to celebrate a night out with a group. Come and see why Royal Cafe is the place that’s got it all …

Located in the Mudgee region, along the Bylong Valley Way Circuit, 3.5 hours drive from Sydney. Rylstone’s oldest pub is full of charm and is renowned for its good old country hospitality. The Globe Hotel provides gourmet food and wine whilst being situated close to national parks.

FACILITIES • Dine in or takeaway • Healthy & tasty menu • Function room • Licensed bar • Excellent accommodation

FACILITIES • Dine in at The Shed Restaurant, open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner • Discounted group bookings • 14 rooms with multiple configurations to sleep up to 29 people

• Queen to single rooms to semi self contained cottage • Lock up sheds 46-50 Louee Street, Rylstone NSW 2849 P: (02) 6379 1048 E: info@theglobehotel.com.au www.theglobehotel.com.au

• Wheelchair accessible • Big open fires in Winter and air-conditioning in Summer • Continental breakfast included in room tarriff • Mulitple lock up sheds available for peace of mind





Image: Aleksandar Jason

International tourism is pretty well sunk for ages to most locations, so Get Routed, the decades-old bike shipping company, will be concentrating on New Zealand this coming summer, because that’s the place most likely to open-up soonest. “I’ve heard that Tourism Ministers for NZ and Australia are concentrating their efforts on Trans-Tasman tourism. I have no doubt that Europe & America will be the last place on people’s minds for a holiday,” said Dave Milligan, the owner of Get Routed. Costs to take bikes to NZ and back:

$2173 per bike and $3673 for bikes longer than 2.3 metres. A BMW R 1250 GSA is a $2173 bike with the rear rack removed. Get Routed will be loading containers of bikes in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne early in 2021, provided the Trans Tasman ‘Travel Bubble’ is opened up. “Like so many COVID-19 announcements, when something changes it seems to change quickly, so we don’t expect a lot of lead time from the announcement we will be able to travel to NZ to when we actually can

take off,” Milligan told Australian Road Rider. “So Get Routed will be ready. If readers are keen to ride New Zealand in 2021 it’s best if they get in touch right away so we can keep them fully informed of the situation with shipping, bike storage in NZ and travel restrictions.”

TO LEARN MORE Dave Milligan 03 5625 9080 | email dave@getrouted.com.au





BYPASSED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN Remembering the Old Hume Highway with fondness, ARR revisits the towns and villages that once bore the brunt of interstate traffic and now offer more than just the truckers’ coffee and cold pies of old… WORDS AND IMAGES: RODERICK EIME




Ride The World group at Razorback Lookout www.ridetheworld.com.au




Excellent pub meals at the Criterion, Gundagai.

The best Foccacia in Berrima.


think it’s pretty safe to say that when we go riding in the countryside, the last thing we want to do is chug down a bland strip of bitumen dodging lane wanderers and getting blown sideways by barrelling B-doubles. Many of us with the grey evidence of years will recall the Old Hume Highway (OHH) with a mixture of vague nostalgia and pure disgust. When I started solo

Bypassed sections of the Old Highway can still be explored - carefully

interstate drives in my little Ford Escort back in the early ’80s, battling the Hume was not something to look forward to. It was narrow, twisty and in shamefully decrepit condition and I still shiver at the memory of several close calls. In August 2013, the $250 million Holbrook bypass signalled the final act of duplication and now we have the dubious pleasure of driving or riding from Sydney to Melbourne without having to bother any of those poor people in Holbrook, Yass, Gundagai or Albury. Without denying the convenience and safety of the slick new bitumen, it has removed the arousal of discovery one usually seeks on a leisurely road trip. But fear not, there is hope.


Photo by Ed Krause

RETRACING THE HUME Even though it seems like it’s been there forever, the Hume Highway has only officially existed since it was officially named in 1928, just two years after the USA’s own Route 66, although the Hume didn’t get its #31 guernsey until numbering began in the 1950s. Prior to its modern life as the Hume Highway, a hotch-potch of roads, tracks and trails existed between Sydney and Melbourne, beginning with those carved out by the namesake explorer, Parramatta-born Hamilton Hume and his English sidekick, Bill Hovell. The two didn’t get on that well but still managed to stick it out from Sydney to Port Phillip and back in 1824. Things picked up rapidly after H&H returned with news of favourable pastures to the southwest, which spurred on road building big time, driven by then Governor Lachlan Macquarie, who was keen to kick the colony along. The “Great South Road” (GSR) was born and gradually evolved into a more or less continuous set of thoroughfares that joined Sydney to Melbourne after it was proclaimed in 1835.

Fat Boy takes a break at the Razorback Inn


Goldrushes in the 1850s and the rise of coach travel like that of Cobb & Co further underscored the need for better roads, even though this development was delayed by the more comfortable rail, and later air, options. Inns, hotels, stables and service depots popped up along the route and many of these fascinating old staging posts can still be seen on the backroads, where the early Hume and Great South roads once wound through the bush. Remote roads also spurned a new industry: bushranging. The great challenge now is to ride as much of the old routes and as little of the bland motorway as possible, visiting the little hamlets and rural centres which once rumbled to the sounds of 18-wheelers and the shrill whistle of air brakes all through the night. Here are some clues derived from our recent explorations:

RAZORBACK On the way to the NSW Southern Highlands, you can explore the old route through Narellan, Camden and


Restored Art Deco service station, now a great coffee stop, Yass.


Picton, picking up portions of old Route 31 as well as The Great South Road. Heading south, kiss the motorway goodbye at Casula and head along the Camden Valley Way and head through Narellan into Camden. Out of Camden, pick either the Old Hume Highway, which retraces the route past the historic truckers blockade of 1979, or venture a click to the west to the convict-built Old Razorback Road, which was itself bypassed in the 1930s. Now that’s a wild ride! Just a click to the west is the convict-built Old Razorback Road which was itself bypassed in the 1930s. Now that’s a wild ride.

SOUTHERN (PIE)LANDS It’s easy to linger here in the region roughly bounded by Robertson, Moss Vale, Bowral and Berrima, with its wineries, gourmet produce and lovely riding roads. The Pie Festival is held every June but that shouldn’t be your excuse to visit only once per year. Continue out through Bargo and Yanderra and stay on the Old Hume Highway to Mittagong. The Old South Road is a great bypass that will take you through Moss Vale to Sutton Forest if you’d rather keep going, or swing west at Alpine and roll through to Berrima on the OHH. BEST PIE (IMHO): DeliLicious, Bundanoon STAY: Jellore Cottage, Berrima. www.jellorecottage.com.au

GO GO GOULBURN If you don’t mind a bit of dirt, follow Canyonleigh Road out through Brayton and Towrang along the old GSR and dawdle into Goulburn, where a bonanza of bypassed attractions await. Check in to the visitor centre near the train station to see what’s open. But note the Railway Heritage Centre and old brewery are closed. Boo! EAT: Paragon Cafe, www.paragoncafe.com.au STAY: Quest Apartments, www.questapartments.com.au

The famous Paragon Cafe , Goulburn, is an institution in the rura l city.


Ornate Bailey’s Garage at Gunning.

At Breadalbane ditch the freeway and head along the OHH through Cullerin to Gunning, where an older route will take you through Ben Hall territory via Mutmutbilly. Settled in 1821, Gunning was already happening when H&H set off south. VISIT: The Picture House Gallery and Bookshop owned by actor Max Cullen


Sutton Forest Country Store everything baked on premises.

There are lots of old segments of the highway running parallel to the motorway that can be explored, but do so carefully as many segments are now divided by gates and grids. The route through Manton along Yass Valley Way will see you safely into Yass (bypassed in 1994).

JUMP FOR JUGIONG Robertson Pie Shop and owner, Will, with more exquisite creations

After a glance at the rusting relics at Robinson’s of Bookham, make a point of stopping in at Jugiong, one of the smaller towns bypassed in 1995 but refusing to lay down and die. The Sir George Hotel and Long Track Pantry


Photo by Ed Krause

are highlights of any Hume journey and are enormously popular with trailer-toting nomads and day-trippers alike. VISIT: Long Track Pantry, www.longtrackpantry.com.au


Rosie at the Dog on the Tuckerbox is a great supporter of loca l produce.

Borambola Wines.

With a gorgeous old main street with true country charm, Gundagai was bypassed back in 1977 when the big Sheahan Bridge relieved the poor old wooden viaduct that carried everything for 80 years prior. If you rode a motorcycle across that bridge back in the day, take a bow. VISIT: Dog on the Tuckerbox Lolly Shop, www.thedogonthetuckerbox.com STAY: Flash Jacks Boutique Hotel, www.flashjacks.com.au or Hillview Farmstay, Tumblong (great for groups), www.hillviewfarmstay.com.au EAT: Criterion Hotel

DIVE HOLBROOK If you head out of Gundagai, through Tumblong and detour via Mundarlo (Junee turnoff), you’ll get a taste of how folks travelled way back in the day. It’s mostly unsealed. When you cross the Sturt Highway, you’ll find the excellent Borambola Winery. Holbrook was the last town to be bypassed in 2013 but retains certain notoriety for having an Oberon-class submarine and museum smack in the middle of town. VISIT: Lady Gail’s Bookshop in the main street.





ALL-STOP ALBURY We finish our NSW sector at the twin towns of Albury-Wodonga, where there is plenty to see and do. STAY: Waverley BNB (secure garage), www.waverleybnb.com.au Mantra Albury Hotel, www.mantra.com.au TRIP NOTES: Small group, guided bike tours are being organised by Ride The World Motorcycle Tours www.ridetheworldmotorcycletours.com. NSW Roads and Maritime has detailed history and self-ride route guides at www.rodei.me/R31. Destination and venue details can be found at www.australia.com. ARR Schmokin’ Bikers Cafe on the Old Hume Hwy at Berrima.

Disclaimer: The writer received assistance from Tourism Australia




BIKE DETAILING, THE EASY WAY Washing your bike regularly will help you spot problems and increase its resale value WORDS & PHOTOS BY: PHIL JAMES


omewhere in the annals of time, a fastidious clean freak realised they could go further than just washing their bike, they could detail it. They would get into the nitty-gritty and make the machine look like it had just rolled out of the showroom. It kind of spoilt all the fun for the rest of us, because now we know how nice it is to have a great-looking bike, and how it will be worth more and be easier to sell when the time comes.


But bike detailing isn’t for everyone — in fact, I hate it. So much so that I’ve developed a few tricks to make it easier. Despite that, doing it well is a time-consuming affair, there’s no getting away from that. I recently returned from a 4000km tour where the bike spent a lot of time on dirt roads and wet roads. In the end, it was covered in grime. The perfect opportunity to do a detailing story. Like any task, it’s best to get your tools and supplies



ready before starting. Things like bottle brushes, degreaser, cleaner, touch-up paint, clear nail polish, wax, auto polish and my favourite — silicon detailing spray. A word of warning about detailing spray: use it sparingly. If you’re selling, too much can put potential buyers off. If you’re doing a maintenance detail, too much will quickly attract dirt when you ride. The detailing process is a series of stages. After each stage, the bike will be cleaner and shinier.


Pressure washers are great, but don’t spray bearings directly.

If you’ve got a shaftie, you can skip this one. (Lucky you.) The first step is to remove the countershaft cover and scrape the chain lube build-up from the area. Screwdrivers or ice-cream sticks make good implements for this. Next, I head for the local car wash with a can of degreaser. Don’t expect a shiny clean bike after the car wash. It’s more about environmentally friendly degreasing, cleaning bugs and removing the top layer of grime. Apply the degreaser to areas where chain lube will settle (don’t forget the underside of the chain guard). Let it sit for a moment before using the car wash’s degreasing, detergent and rinse cycles. FYI, pressure washing can damage a bike if you’re not careful. The trick is to use the low-pressure setting

Applying a pre-wash with a garden sprayer.




near wheel bearings and electrical components. Never point directly at those; do that and you’ll be fine. I’ve been pressure washing for 40 years and not had an issue, but many have hastened the demise of steering head, swingarm and wheel bearings. If you’re doing a dirt bike, be aware a good pressure washer can peel decals off plastic panels and tanks.


A brass brush, applied lightly with a power drill, will bring up stainless steel nicely.

Now it’s time for serious elbow grease. Sadly, even after the car wash, there will still be chain oil residue on the bike. Use a rag with degreaser or kerosene to remove it from the frame, stand(s), swing arm and the rear rim. After that’s done, washing can finally start. Avoid washing a bike in direct sunlight if you can — it won’t dry clean. I use Raceline MX-60 as a prewash agent. It’s diluted with water and applied to the bike using a garden spray bottle. Let this sit for five minutes to soften grime and exploded bug remnants. The wheel brush collection comes out next. Use them with wheel cleaner or car wash detergent to clean all the accessible surfaces. The higher the level of desired detail, the more time goes into this. It’s not fun. After a low-pressure rinse, the leaf blower comes out to dry the bike. I’m sure my neighbours love the sound of a screaming two stroke early in the morning… Finally, I take the bike for a 15-minute ride to properly dry it. This prolongs chassis bearing life, reduces corrosion in electrical connectors and anywhere else water sits.


A range of odd-shaped cleaning brushes can get into the nooks and crannies.


At this point the chain will free of excessive dirt, but not “detailed” clean. Grimy hands time again. Previously I’ve used kerosene to clean my chains and it works, but I’ve found a better solvent. It’s cheap, readily available and does a brilliant job. Come on down WD40… Don’t spray it directly on the chain, that will end badly. Spray a bit on a rag and wipe the chain on each side. It lifts old lube off with minimal effort, leaving a glossy protective coat. Surprisingly, it stays there at least as well as “non-fling” chain lube. There’s an urban myth that WD40 may damage chain O-Rings, but I’ve had no trouble with this. However, I use just enough to coat the links — it doesn’t lay on the O-rings. The final step is lubing the chain. I’ve used the WD40 to protect the chain’s exterior, so no lube is required there. Most people get carried away with lube, spraying it all over the chain. Consequently, there’s so much, it gets flung off, covering the bike’s rear. Urgh… Where it is required is where chain wears. That’s between the roller bushes and pins. Apply it to the gap between them and it will penetrate to lube the pin surface. The picture shows what I mean. In the normal course of events, this is where I’d finish my detail and wander off to check the fridge for a cleansing ale… However, this time, it’s a showroom restoration. The beer will have to wait.



STAGE 4: DETAILING DETAILS The aim is to maximise the bike’s cosmetic appeal. It’s about making things shiny and reducing the visual impact of any flaws. The result will depend on your commitment to the task. Detailing the wheels is easier if they’re removed. It also provides access to the fork leg and swingarm inner metal. Use your silicon detailing spray here. The best approach is to use it as a cleaner. Apply it to a rag, or in small amounts directly to the metal, then remove as much as you can (as if you were cleaning). Don’t put it on the tyre or brake disks. Removing the axle location bushes from the wheels for cleaning and re-lubing is a good idea too (use high-temperature grease). Your wheel bearings will love you for it. All these things make the difference between a clean bike and a showroom clean bike. The detailing spray’s party trick is the way it rejuvenates black plastic. As stated earlier, remove as much spray residue as you can. When you’ve finished, it shouldn’t feel greasy to the touch. Stainless exhausts get grubby and the “new” look usually can’t be recovered completely, but some resurrection is possible with metal polish. Readily available alloy wheel polish works, but it’s time consuming and hard on your pinkies. To speed things up a little, I use a brass buffing brush in a power drill. My technique is to spray WD40 on for lubrication, then lightly (and I mean lightly) buff with the brass brush. Use the lube and apply light pressure only to avoid marking the stainless surface. Once the deeper oxidisation is gone, it’s time for the metal polish. Persistence will result in a nice shine. If a bike has a painted exhaust, repainting it with high-temperature engine paint is an option (available from most auto stores). Best to remove it, clean dirt and rust off, then spray it — twice. When the bike restarts, don’t be alarmed if smoke comes from the fresh paint; this is normal, but it shouldn’t persist. Run the bike till this happens, turn it off, let it cool, then do it again. This bakes the paint.

A leaf blower can dry your bike and reduce spotting.

Chips and scratches annoy us all and fixing them isn’t economical… but all is not lost. Your local hobby and beauty supply shops can help. The hobby shop will sell black model paint in flat, semi gloss and full gloss. Buy all three. While you’re at it, buy a modeller’s brush. Model paint comes in hundreds of colours, so you may find one close to your bike’s colour. If so, buy one of those too. From the beauty shop buy some clear nail polish. These paints are used to camouflage damage, making it less noticeable to the eye. The idea is to fill the scratch with colour close to its surroundings. The nail polish is perfect for covering clear coat scratches (especially carbon fibre). I paint it on sparingly, then, while it’s wet, run my thumb over it. This removes the excess and fills the scratch. It’s not a perfect repair, but it reduces the visual impact. The same technique is used with the modeller’s enamels, but I dip my finger in turps before running it over the scratch. Sometimes you need to let it dry and do it again, slowly filling the scratch.

STAGE 5: ADMIRE YOUR WORK After all that, I’m done. I’m always amazed how well bikes come up after a good detail. Now, where’s that beer? ARR

Motul is most famous for its oils, but the European company also manufactures a range of bike care products. Motul’s Road Care Pack offers great value for money, and comes with an impressive range of products that will help keep street bikes and their riders looking their best. A terrific gift idea for the enthusiast and new rider alike. Includes Moto Wash, Wash & Wax (waterless clean & shine), Helmet & Visor Clean and Motul Chrome & Alu Polish. Motul also makes a huge range of other bike cleaning products including Perfect Seat, Insect Remover, Matte Surface Cleaner, Wheel Cleaner and Scratch Remover. Available from Motul stockists across the country.




HIGH-VALUE FLIP-TOP Nolan supplied the N1005 for testing.


sable both open and closed, Nolan’s N-1005 modular helmet is convenient, practical — and well priced. At under $600 ($519 solid and $569 graphics), the N1005 is at the lower end of modular, or fliptop, helmet pricing — but it has great specifications and features, usually matching more expensive helmets and often beating them, making this one to definitely check out. There’s a large Lexan visor with Pinlock insert and an internal sun visor (with UV reduction and anti-fog). The flipping mechanism cleverly reduces the frontal area (via a cam) when the chin section is up, so it doesn’t catch as much breeze. In the “up” position, it has a “J mode” lock to keep it there. When the lock is engaged, it becomes a legal and effective jet (openface) helmet. It’s an excellent feature, and not just in summer. Some modular helmets cannot be used open. The interior “clima comfort” liner has an antibacterial treatment and is removable. Regular washing should ensure the interior remains a pleasant place to stick your nose. The liner has slots for spectacle arms and a unique, adjustable removable neck roll is fitted (a great feature). It can be tightened for winter and maximum noise reduction or loosened for coolness. The Micro Lock retention system has a double action to negate accidental chin strap release. I like micro locks (as opposed to D Rings) as the minor weight penalty is offset


by the ease of getting the helmet on and off. They’re not so good when trying to lock the helmet to the bike. The shell is polycarbonate with “air booster” venting. Venting is a bit of a trade-off — more venting usually means more noise. The N1005’s venting worked well enough, but it was slightly noisier with them open. Polycarbonate is regarded as the best polymer for helmet shells, but is it as good as a resin composite? There’s no simple answer to that. They both have merit. Polycarbonate has better impact absorption and composite has better abrasion resistance. For street use, it’s a draw. For track use, composite is statistically more effective as abrasion is the more likely hazard. For this helmet’s intended use (road riding) I don’t regard the shell material as a negative. There was criticism of early flip-up helmets occasionally opening in an accident. To address this, Nolan uses a double action, opposing direction release. Sounds tricky but it’s not. At first this was odd to operate, but I quickly acclimatised — so it’s a practical solution… In the flip-up helmet universe, weight wise it’s neither a sinner nor a saint. As helmet price descends, weight usually increases, so it gets brownie points for not doing so. Weight will start to climb if you fit optional N-com communication and/or stop light systems. These accessories are “factory fit” as opposed to the “universal fit” of aftermarket items. I wouldn’t classify it as a noisy helmet, and that’s not damning it with faint praise. For me, if a helmet isn’t deafening, it’s a pass. The reality is quiet helmets and unicorns have much in common. The N1005 isn’t at the noisy end of the spectrum, and it’s most certainly a pass. Helmet fit is a personal thing. Usually, better helmets work for more head shapes. The internal foam is better quality and the design is better at gripping the cranium. The Nolan’s fit surprised me. It was as good as any helmet I’ve tried (regardless of price). The liner was super comfy against my skin. Just so you know, I have a lot of skin. Nolan offers a fiveyear warranty, so I’d expect the foam and liner to be durable too, something not always the case with cheaper helmets. I found removing the visor is a bit tricky the first time and the instructions aren’t helpful, but it’s easy enough. I have noticed an occasional (and I do mean occasional), creaking sound from the two-piece shell. The colour choices are limited (and for me… bland). Yes, it screams “Captain Sensible”. I’ve had this helmet for a few months now and it continues to impress. If this was a $1000 helmet, I’d be impressed. The fact it costs just over half that makes it great value. If you like how it feels in the store, it’s unlikely to disappoint on the road. – Phil James

MORE INFORMATION Your Nolan dealer Helmet supplied by Ron Angel imports for review.

SPECIFICATIONS Prices: $569 (graphics), $519 (solid colours) Colours: White/Black, Flat Grey/Black, Gloss Black, Silver, Flat Black Sizes: XSM–XXL Warranty: 5 years


This jacket was supplied to ARR for testing.


BARGAIN SPARK If you think you can’t afford a modern, feature-rich, goodlooking, full-face helmet, you might want to take a look at the new Airoh Spark. At just $299 it’s very affordable and has most of the features of high-priced lids. Weighing in at just over 1500g, designed in a wind tunnel and equipped with an internal sun shade is a great start. Add in Pinlock-equipped for anti-fog inserts, two shell sizes and a removable/washable lining and you’re getting a lot of feature for the money. The graphic styles look awesome and HRT (high-resistant thermoplastic) will keep you safe.

MORE INFORMATION Available at Airoh stockists Australia-wide. motonational.com.au

MERLIN ALTON LEATHER JACKET The Merlin Alton jacket is a great example of where technology and function intersect with style. ARR received the black Alton, part of the Merlin Heritage Collection, and immediately could tell that the soft premium suede leather, subtle zipper work and the cut were going to look as at home on the bike as it will at the bar. It just feels good to pull on. The technology doesn’t go unnoticed either, with its removable 125gm tartan thermal liner, a mesh drop liner for improved breathability, and oodles of armour that’s pre-fitted and CE-approved in the shoulder and elbow. There is also a back pocket that takes the CE-approved optional back armour. The jacket zips are all highquality YKK and the cross-stitched shoulder panels look great and add further abrasion resistance. On the bike the jacket feels great; you can open the gantlet zips in summer or close along with the press stud neck flap when things get a bit cooler. I’d say that it’s not a mid-winter all-weather solution but more your summer and spring/autumn Sunday cruise or stylish daily commute kind of deal. One point of note is that it’s best to try on the jacker at a dealer — I normally run a large but I found it a little on the tight side; an XL would have been perfect.

SPECIFICATIONS Price: $299 Colours: Matt Black, Vibe Matt Black, Rock N Roll Gloss Sizes: S–XXL

SOCKED UP Andy from Andy Strapz has been at it again. This time he’s developed socks for Australian riders that are designed to be comfortable all day, whatever the weather. By using cotton for reinforcement and padding in an otherwise merino wool sock, they are super-comfortable. Add in 6cm of extra length over a conventional boot sock with stay-up tops and they are even more practical.


– Marcus Hucker

Andy Strapz 1/95 Brunel Rd, Seaford 03 9786 3445 info@andystrapz.com



Price: $499.95 Size: S–4XL Colours: Black and brown To find your nearest dealer go to: linkint.com.au Jacket supplied to ARR for review.

Price: $17 plus post or three pairs for $47 posted Sizes: 2-8, 6-10 and 11-14



LONG-RANGE STORM Counter staff at bike shops hear it all the time: “It needs to be round and black, cost peanuts, last forever and stick like shit to a blanket.” Tyres, unfortunately, aren’t like that. Nor is there much agreement on which tyres come closest to that ideal. What we do know is how tyre performance is central to the two-wheeled experience. Current bikes are much better to ride than machines from decades past, and a lot of this is down to the incremental improvement in tyre technology. Year on year the changes aren’t huge, but after decades it adds up. If you had to ride a current bike fitted with turn-of-the-century tyres, it would be… unsettling. A possible exception is Supersport tyres — which would be gone after 3000km, so that’s a different problem. While some riders choose to stick to a particular brand, I ride all sorts of bikes with all sorts of tyres, so that approach doesn’t work for me. I have to adapt to the tyres at hand. Interestingly, this leads me to an unexpected conclusion… they’re all pretty good, even if the technology to get that performance varies between manufacturers. In a dry-surface, street-riding scenario, the variation between tyres isn’t as much as tyre company marketing would have you believe, provided they are at the correct pressures and warmed up. What does vary from brand to brand is durability and price. As a rule, they tend to move together; more durability usually comes with more price. But not always. Recently I bought a set of Avon Storm XM tyres and they haven’t complied with the rule. Unusually, they went the other way, more durability and less price. Worth mentioning in despatches then. Avon promotes the Storms as an “extended-mileage sportstouring tyre” suitable for large-capacity bikes — VFR1200, Hayabusa, K 1300 GT, GTR1400. I used them on my Kawasaki Versys 650, which is lighter. The performance of the Storms was fine in the dry; as for wet roads… they are British tyres, actually made in the UK. If they weren’t top notch on cold wet roads, Avon would be out of business. As for durability, typical tyre life is different for every rider. In my case, a rear lasts 8000 to 10,000km before my insurance becomes

null and void. Not so with the Avon Storm rear; I replaced it as a precaution at 10,000km, prior to a 3000km round trip to WSBK at Phillip Island. However, I think it’s likely it would have done it. Now, it’s time to don the thinking cap… or skip to the next paragraph (if you just want the punchline). The pictures show the tyre with 3mm of tread left when it came off. It starts with 6mm of tread, and the lower wear limit is 1.5mm — that’s 4.5mm of consumable tread before its illegal. So the usable rubber remaining was 1.5mm (3mm-1.5mm). In theory this would indicate it still had 33 per cent left, but as those with experience know, the last 1mm of tread goes quickly. Rather than potentially 3000k of rubber left, it would be 2000km (at best) before the tread wear bumps are exposed. The better-than-average wear results from a 40mm band of harder rubber in the centre of the tyre. Avon isn’t the only one with this approach, but on the Avon it’s very easy to see the harder strip. I’ve previously used other brands with this technology, and had a step form between the harder and softer compounds as the tyre wears. This affects “tip-in” feel. Not so with the Avons. The hard strip seems to support the adjacent softer compound, and no step was evident at 75 per cent worn. What’s that all mean? This tyre exceeds my best typical tyre life by 20 to 25 per cent — which is a lot. It gets even better. The recommended retail for my 160mm-width tyre is around $260 and the median price in this class is about $290. It all amounts to a pretty strong value equation, especially when there’s no performance trade-off as far as I can tell. So… Avon Storm XMs, not on everybody’s radar, but maybe they should be. – Phil James

MORE INFORMATION Pro Accessories: bit.ly/2Nr3yuu These tyres were bought by Phil.



NEW ROSSI AND MIR REPLICA AGV HELMETS The latest addition to the AGV K3 SV range is a tribute to one of the greatest racers of all time, Valentino Rossi, with the release of Ride 46. The K3 SV is one of AGV’s more affordable helmets, priced at $399. It proudly displays VR 46 emblazoned on each side of the helmet, Rossi’s initials and racing number in the customary fluoro yellow that has become synonymous with Valentino Rossi and his customary style which is prolific against the black base and bright-blue highlights of the helmet. The AGV K3 SV helmet builds on AGV’s extensive experience in designing the Pista GP RR and Corsa R, while continuing the legacy of the original K3 helmet. An aerodynamic shell shape is optimised for stability and aggressive aesthetics and features an integrated, compact rear spoiler to reduce turbulence. The narrow chin bar is streamlined to help the helmet cut through the wind at high speeds, further increasing stability. After winning the Moto 3 world championship in 2017, Joan Mir had a brand-new helmet design for 2018, and this replica paint scheme has now been released in a K1 for 2020. This K1 is priced at $349. The Mir 2018 replica helmet design is based around a camo-style graphic that incorporates sharp lines and black, white, silver and grey, along with bright, bold, fluoro yellow highlights throughout, the fluoro yellow being one of Mir’s trademarks on all of his helmets. One glance at the new AGV K-1 and it becomes plainly obvious that this helmet has AGV’s racing DNA running through its bloodlines. The K-1 shares a helmet profile with the entire AGV sport helmet range, which was developed from years of testing on the racetrack. The K-1 takes this racing heritage and technology and combines it with helmet features designed for everyday use on the street for all-day riding.

INDIAN’S AIRCONDITIONED SEAT I looked closely at the dates on the press release when I realised Indian’s latest accessory was a seat with thermoelectric cooling (and heating), but there was nothing referencing April 1. Jokes aside, I love the idea of something to keep a ride cool in the heat of an Australian summer, and the ClimaCommand Classic Seat also provides heating for cool-weather riding. The cooling bit works by using a “proprietary thermoelectric module that pumps heat away from the rider”. The press release states: “To accomplish conduction heating and cooling, a thermoelectric module located within the seat directly regulates the temperature. Electricity is applied to a thermoelectric module to the graphene material, causing one side of the material to absorb heat and the opposing side to dissipate heat. By reversing electrical flow, the hot and cold temperatures alternate sides. A graphene material, which is a nanomaterial created from 100% carbon atoms, is then used to ensure the heating and cooling is dispersed throughout the entire seat.” “Our thermoelectric technology paired with graphene material is truly a game changer, and another example of Indian Motorcycle bringing differencemaking innovation to the market,” says Ross Clifford, vice president of Parts, Garments and Accessories at Indian Motorcycle. Got that? Good, explain it to me over a drink one day. Or not; how it works is less important to me than if it works, and as I hate riding under a blazing-hot Australian sun, the idea a cool saddle could be sucking the heat out of my butt fills me with anticipation — although the price tag of $1995 puts me off somewhat. The ClimaCommand Seat is now available for Thunderstroke models, with versions for the 2020 Roadmaster and Chieftain coming soon. – Nigel Paterson

MORE INFORMATION Direct link to Indian website: www.shrtm.nu/QPTY Your Indian dealer

MORE INFORMATION agvhelmets.com.au





riega’s range of tailpacks allows you to carry a decent

amount of gear without modifying your bike, adding an ugly rack or carrying it on your back. I’ve been using the US-20 tailpack for years and it’s still in great condition, despite being strapped to numerous test bikes over time. Essentially the US-model tailpacks are roll-top bags made from a tough outer with a waterproof liner. The innovative design makes them easy to strap onto almost any rear seat, and they can also be used as tankbags (with the optional converter) and courier


bags (the larger models are supplied with should and waist straps).

I have on my FJR1300 touring bike. Phil James combined my bag with

Available in four sizes, from five to 30 litres, the US tailpacks can also be used together to increase carrying capacity. Each bag has clips and straps which not only allow it to be strapped to the bike, but also mounted onto other Kriega tailpacks — so you might use a five- or 10-litre model for a dayride, but you could mount a 20-litre and a pair of 10-litre bags for longer trips. The Kriega mounting video shows up to 70 litres of capacity strapped together on a sportsbike. For some context, that’s a similar capacity to the two panniers

his own US-20 for a recent tour on the Kawasaki Versys X-300 (part of a bike test for the next issue) and was impressed at how easy it was to combine the bags and strap them both down. Kriega tailpacks are supplied with straps which run under your pillion seat — they can pretty well be left on the bike permanently if you’re using your bag regularly. The bag itself is strapped down onto the seat with straps that have clips to connect to the top of the bag and alloy hooks to connect to the under-seat straps.


The beauty of this arrangement is it allows the straps to be pulled tight, compressing the whole bag, so it won’t move around, and it pulls the bag away from the bodywork so it’s less likely to cause any rubbing. There is also a range of specific fitting kits for a selection of bikes including Ducati Panigale and the XDiavel, the Aprila Tuono and Triumph Speed and Street Triples. If you have a rack on your bike it’s often easier to strap on a US tailpack. Since my US-20 was produced, the range has been updated to 420D Cordura construction so the new

models may look a little different to the one pictured here. With prices starting at $135 these bags aren’t cheap, but years and years of service across different bikes, while keeping my gear safe and dry, makes them great value. – Nigel Paterson

MORE INFORMATION kriega.com.au Tail Pack page on Kriega website: www.bit.ly/31ZGZ8n Nigel has owned this bag for years.

Nigel has owned this bag for four years. Phil bought his own and combined the two for a recent tour.

Fully up I’m looking through the screen, and wind noise and blast is almost gone completely — it’s quiet and if there’s any breeze it’s blowing over and actually pushing on my back, a not-uncommon characteristic of large touring fairings. Eagle Screens offers six sizes of screen for the FJR, from a minimalist summer screen to this monster designed to keep winter at bay, including extra width. Eagle Screens makes screens for hundreds of bikes, from classic Indians to modern sportsbikes, tourers and even naked bikes. They’ve been making them for over 40 years and now send lots overseas, as well as servicing the Australian market. All the screens are made by hand from UV-stabilised acrylic. You can get stock-size replacement screens, “double bubble” and windlip screens. There’s an array of colours too, from red to green to blue, purple, clear and black among others. Tints are also available. Compared to the standard screen it’s more protective and the quality of the materials feels first-rate. If I have any criticism it would be how the edges don’t look and feel as nicely rolled as the stock screen, but that’s being very picky. Prices start at under $100 and go up from there depending on the amount of material, and the complexity of manufacture.

AUSSIE-MADE TOURING SCREEN The Eagle Screens touring screen I’ve fitted to my Yamaha FJR1300 has made it more comfortable through the winter, so much so I’m thinking about buying a short summer screen as well. At 590mm this is the tallest model Eagle Screens makes for the FJR; I thought I could get it cut down a little if need be, but with the electronic adjustment on the FJR I can simply set it to the position I like.

– Nigel Paterson Note: Nigel purchased his screen at full retail.

MORE INFORMATION Prices: from less than $100 to around $300 Available only online at www.eaglescreens.com.au




RIDING FOR SAVINGS AND SANITY In the face of COVID-19, social distancing and a collapsing economy, Australian Road Rider brings you the definitive guide to how motorcycling can keep you sane, without costing a fortune… BY: THE ARR CREW


arious studies over the years have shown riding is good for mental health, with motorcyclists reporting they

feel better and more able to face the world. At a time when so many Australians have seen their world turned upside down, we thought it was appropriate to offer up some ideas on how you can ride bikes without spending too much.

CAR VS BIKE Do you live in one of Australia’s big cities? If so, you probably have access to decent public transport (where no one can effectively social distance) and maybe even a car-sharing service like GoGet, Flexicar or Car Next Door.


These services operate by charging members hourly and distance travelled fees, with the vehicle itself parked in its dedicated spot near where you live. They are most common in inner-city locations and you’ll avoid having to pay for parking, rego, fuel etc. Another excellent feature of the services is the variety of vehicles available; grab a small car for the job interview on a rainy day, a van to take your bike to a track day, an eight-seater for a family outing. Using taxis or Ubers when you have a car in the driveway seems really expensive — but if you’re heading somewhere expensive to park or you’d like to have a drink, the equation can change.


"YOU’LL HAVE A BIKE AND CAN SAVE A FORTUNE" If you’re half of a couple and have two cars in the driveway, sell one and buy a scooter or bike suitable for two people. You’ll have a bike and can save a fortune. If you buy a new car for around $40,000 on finance, it’ll end up costing you around $10,000 a year in depreciation, registration, insurance, maintenance, fuel and interest — that’s a lot of hire cars, GoGets and Ubers.


RIDING TO WORK There’s no doubt riding to work can save you money, but if you try it on a big-bore machine which chews through tyres, you’ll be disappointed; there won’t be any savings over driving and public transport will probably work out cheaper. The trick is to use the Smallest Viable Bike (SVB). For some people, the SVB is a 50cc scooter, but most readers of ARR would find that, well, unacceptable. We actually like scooters around here — editor Nigel loved the convenience of his wife’s Majesty scooter back in the days when they lived in Sydney, and Phil James has shown more than one sportsbike rider how it’s done on his T-Max 500.



"…COMFORTABLE FOR THE AVERAGE AUSSIE TO RIDE: YOU WON’T FEEL LIKE A PANDA RIDING A TRICYCLE" However, the bigger scooters aren’t super cheap and really are for people who like them, while most Australian riders don’t consider smaller scooters a SVB. A possible exception is the Yamaha Xmax 300: $8499 ride away, Learner-legal and a weapon around town. It’s comfortable and convenient thanks to heaps of carrying capacity and a big seat for two big Aussie bums. It’s also easy to ride and fitted with ABS and traction control. There are a bunch of great bikes available for under $8000, brand new — bikes which will give you years of service, with two-year warranties and a great resale price. Check out the Kawasaki Versys-X 300, Yamaha XT250, Suzuki V-Strom 250 and Honda CRF250 Rally. Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed a theme there — all those bikes are in the trail/adventure category, so you’ll get multiple uses out of your bike. Ride it to work on weekdays, go exploring on weekends. If you own a big road burner and would like to try exploring some dirt roads, these are great bikes to start on and they are also perfect for riding to work because they are light, economic, easy to park, cheap to run and can easily jump kerbs and errant pedestrians. But what they aren’t is physically small; they are all comfortable for the average Aussie to ride — you won’t feel like a panda riding a tricycle.

SAVING ON RUNNING COSTS Much of your bike’s running costs come down to choice: the bike you chose to buy. If you’re looking for the perfect SVB, it’s worth checking out the service intervals — most bikes these days are around 10,000km or once per year. Of course the longer the better, but if you’re only doing 5000km per year it doesn’t really matter if the service interval is 10,000 or 15,000. Doing some of your own maintenance can reduce costs too, although don’t be fooled into thinking that just means changing the oil and filter, but that’s a good start. Keep in mind you have to have the bike serviced as per the owner’s handbook for the warranty to be valid, but any licensed mechanic can do it — it doesn’t have to be done by a dealer. Smaller bikes generally have cheaper registration and compulsory third party insurance than bigger bikes, and in Queensland you can get cheaper rego if your bike only has one seat — so remove the rear footpegs!




"IT’S REMARKABLY CHEAP TO GET INTO RIDING IF A SMALL, LIGHT BIKE SUITS YOU…" When it comes to fuel, all new bikes, in theory, should be fine with E10 — but don’t do it. Manufacturers extract relatively high performance from motorcycle engines and they are invariably designed to run on at least 95RON, but you’re probably wasting money buying 98. Even if you can run E10, you’ll probably get better fuel economy from 95 anyway.

FINANCE If you’re buying from a dealer (new or secondhand) you’ll probably be offered a finance package, and these days it’s worth having a look. Years ago it was much cheaper to borrow the money directly from your bank if you could, but these days it’s much more competitive. Believe it or not, a low-interest credit card can also be a useful way to fund a commuter bike because they can be paid off quickly if you come into extra cash and are also great for that unexpected expense — but if you’ve never had credit before, be careful how you use it. It can also pay to keep an eye out for manufacturer promotions, which are often advertised in ARR — lowinterest finance, free accessories, reduced Ride Away prices and more.


NEW OR SECONDHAND? You can certainly save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by buying secondhand. If you’re an experienced rider looking to add a cheap bike to the stable for commuting or simply to reduce wear-and-tear on the big-bore pride and joy, going secondhand is probably best because you’ll probably have the experience to spot a bike which hasn’t been looked after, requires lots of work or has been thrashed — and avoid it. So many people new to riding can’t identify those things though, and would be better buying new from a dealer. Everything from the tyres to the mirrors will be new and there’s a factory warranty to look after you if anything goes wrong. The last thing a new rider needs is unexpected expensive surprises like needing to replace brake pads, tyres, chains and sprockets — or worse, suffering a major mechanical problem.

CHEAP COMMUTER BIKES It’s remarkably cheap to get into riding if a small, light bike suits you, and you’ve got lots of choices at pretty cheap prices. Suzuki has its GSX-S125 ($4190 ride away), Honda the CB125E ($3438) and CFmoto the 150 NK ($3490 ride away). All are naked machines powered by single-cylinder four-stroke motors, just like about 99 per cent of the


world’s bikes — so finding people who can work on them is easy. 125s are easy on tyres and other components, super light and will still get up to freeway speeds (although they might take a little while to get there).


your own maintenance, and maybe convert to a single-seater if you’re in Queensland. Popular choices include Z and GTR-series Kawasakis, triple-cylinder Triumphs, Yamaha FZ and FJRs, and Honda CB inline fours. ARR

LARGER COMMUTER BIKES The 250-650cc category has a huge range of machines to choose from which are excellent commuters and everyday bikes. Nearly every manufacturer offers something, from the CFmoto 250NK at $4290 to the Harley-Davidson Street 500 at 10 grand. In between are some excellent commuters, like the Yamaha MT-03, Kawasaki Z400, Honda CB500 and Suzuki SV650.

MORE INFORMATION GoGet — goget.com.au Flexicar — flexicar.com.au Car Next Door — carnextdoor.com.au

LARGE-CAPACITY BIKES It’s pretty easy to spend $4000 or so on a largecapacity machine with the idea of riding it to work, thinking it’ll save you money … but it probably won’t. Generally you’ll be paying full rego and insurance costs, big bike tyres aren’t cheap, and they can use as much fuel as a small car — and maintenance is higher too. There are many good reasons to consider a cheap big bike — they can be a lot cheaper to own than a new bike — but thinking it’ll be cheap transport is likely to be false economy. That said, if you do regular longer trips across country roads, a big bike might make more sense. Look for something you can fit touring tyres to, do


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CROATIA BY VESPA Touring by scooter on a trip through the Istrian Peninsula and Slovenia recalls the romance of Roman Holiday WORDS AND PICTURES: CHRISTOPHER P BAKER






uttering into Poreč on a peppy candyapple-red Vespa scooter, cobbled streets led me onto a tiny piazza shaded by date

palms and myrtles. A welcoming line of gelato sellers and outdoor cafes was set out under awnings, brilliant beneath a warm pencil of October sunlight. In the harbour, elegant schooners and megayachts and old wooden fishing boats bobbed gently in a Hockney-blue Adriatic sea. I locked my helmet in the rear topbox and feeling as carefree as Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, I slung my jacket over my shoulder and set out to explore the cosy Croatian town’s warren of narrow alleys on foot as the rest of the group buzzed in behind me. As a lad in northern England I rode a Lambretta scooter. When my thoughts recently turned to an autumn vacation, I fantasised about a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but further afield. Then I read how at sweet sixteen a Slovenian girl named Melanija Knavs — aka Melanie Trump — rode to the Adriatic Sea on the back of her boyfriend’s blue Vespa. After he was conscripted into the army, she started dating someone else — “he had a red Vespa.” It sounded so like Roman Holiday, the 1953 movie classic in which Audrey Hepburn’s character — a bored princess — falls in love with an American reporter after they explore the Eternal City aboard his Vespa. I liked the segue. So I signed up for a seven-day “Croatia by Scooter” vacation with Edelweiss Bike Travel, hoping to capture the romance and retro spirit scootering around the Istrian Peninsula and Slovenia on a state-of-the-art Vespa 300GTS. The iconic little Vespa seemed a perfect metaphor for the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, and a ride both sexy and stylish. Compact and übermanoeuvrable, it proved perfect for exploring the pendulous heart-shaped peninsula dangling into the Adriatic at the northwest extreme of Croatia.



"WE COILED SHARPLY UP FROM OPATIJA, THE SWITCHBACKS STREWN WITH LOOSE GRAVEL…" Our group of six riders comprised two young couples and a single middle-aged lady — all Californians and Vespa owners — plus myself, proud owner of a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure. It took me a few days to adjust to the comparatively diminutive vehicle. I appeared more Mr. Bean than Gregory Peck as I instinctively yanked on the “clutch” lever, attempting to upshift. The humble step-through motorcycle first made for buzzing around bombed-out Rome is today a sophisticated 278cc twist-the-throttle-and-go automatic. The “clutch” now applies the rear brake! Thankfully the vintage-styled, modernised “wasp” comes with state-of-the-art ABS discs and ASR traction control. Pablo Piferrer, our guide, hailed from Spain. Raised in England, he spoke fluent English and charmed with sardonic humour and an intimate knowledge of Istria’s country roads. We set out each day for hub-and-spoke touring from the chic Adriatic resort town of Opatija, hugging a wide bay like an enfolding embrace. What France’s Côte d’Azur once was to Western aristocracy, Opatija was to the Austro-Hungarian elite. They jazzed up the town’s Venetian heritage with grand spa hotels and handsome belle-époque villas. Our hotel, the Kristal, rose dramatically from the Lungomare seafront promenade, exuding trappings of a genteel past. At dawn I flung open my window. A cold breeze whipped the Adriatic with white caps and filled my drape like the spinnaker of the traditional falkuša fishing boat scudding into the harbour below. Then the sun burst over the mountains, casting the riviera in high relief. Our ride to Slovenia that day — 115 miles in total — was invigorating. We coiled sharply up from Opatija, the switchbacks strewn with loose gravel. The chill autumnal air bit like a lynx as we sped north on the undulating A7, scrolling in broad arcs and tight curves through Istria’s craggy, wooded interior. As fate would have it, I’d chosen an unseasonally cold week. Thankfully Pablo liked his coffee. A warm-up stop in Pivka, in Slovenia, was most welcome. The Vespa’s temperature gauge showed a brisk 10°C! We bundled up. We rode on to Postojna to visit the eponymous underground caves. Hollowed out over the past two million years by the Pivka River, this vast karst system spans 15 miles of sinuous chambers, caverns and halls big enough to swallow the crowds. Our tour covered three miles, beginning with a two-mile journey by Disneyesque electric train, like entering Blofeld’s lair







"I APPEARED MORE MR. BEAN THAN GREGORY PECK AS I INSTINCTIVELY YANKED ON THE ‘CLUTCH’ LEVER, ATTEMPTING TO UPSHIFT" in a James Bond movie. Here the massive stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones like plicated translucent curtains were real. A geomorphology major in university, I hung on every word of the knowledgeable English-speaking guide. We returned southbound through medieval hilltop villages with names like a melody: Senožeče, Ilirska Bistrica and Rocko Polje. Drizzle couldn’t dampen our dopamine day as we corkscrewed down to Opatija. Istria is best avoided in summer, when the blazing magnesium sun haunts its noons and tourists descend on the resorts in droves. But in late autumn, the tranquil hinterland, with its woods of chestnuts and beeches and fragrant olive groves and vineyards, was virtually devoid of traffic. Even Poreč (occupying a thumb-like chersonese on the west coast of Istria), on day two, was unplumbed. Its sixth-century Euphrasian Basilica was closed for repair. I found joy simply strolling the ancient walled city, comparted like a pomegranate with interconnected lanes softly variegated in ice-cream pastels. Laundry flapped from balconies adorned with flowers in bloom. We closed with an intoxicating throttle-to-the-stop ride along the tortuous clifftop north from Zagorje. My Vespa roared dotingly as I poured on the gas, the cold, dry wind pressing hard on my lips. The road scrolled in fast sweeping bends, following the contours of ravines necklaced with fishing villages tucked into coves, and ridges tending gorgeous views over the azure Adriatic. I was still grinning inanely as we made our way down through the hairpins to our hotel. “I clocked 112kph. Could that be right?” I asked Pablo. “Nah!” he replied. ‘Close… but less. The Vespa speedo is famously optimistic.” Istria has been hailed as the “new Tuscany”. And not simply for its olives and vineyards and sunbleached hill towns. I’d lucked out on truffle season, when the prized Tuber magnatum — found in Istria’s oak forests in abundance — is a highlight on menus. Elsewhere truffles are regarded like diamonds. In Istria they’re everyday pap, shaved on pizzas, pastas and




fluffy risottos. Our dinner at the warmly Tuscan-style Restoran Roko proved why gourmands geek out over Istria’s reputation for gustatory treats: prsut (local prosciutto), ćevapčići (plump Balkan sausages) and oven-baked truffle pizza, washed down with fruity Malvazija and robust Teran wines. Next day we rode under a crystal-clear blue sky into the land of the lynx, wolf and bear. We swiftly left civilisation behind as we wound up, up, up through rugged karst scenery into a wild mountain region only 30km northeast of Opatija. Soon we were climbing into thick beech forest, leaves falling like confetti, wet and slick…. and pine forest above 3000 feet. Then dizzyingly down to Caffe Bar Mrzlica for a warming cappuccino, and on to Crni Lug, gateway to the littlevisited 24-square-mile Risnjak National Park — a world of Colorado-like leafy green peace. On day four we hopped from Brestova to Cres, northernmost of the many islands shattered across the Gulf of Kvarner. We wheeled ashore off the ferry into a wildly parched and penurious limestone landscape pitted with razor-edged dogs-tooth terrain. A single road threaded along the island’s spine, high above turquoise coves with tiny beaches, and dropped to Cres, a lovely fishing town cusping three harbours nested like a Matryoshka doll. Istria’s landscapes swung as if on a hinge. Neighbouring Krk, a 20-minute ferry ride east from Cres, was lush, with terraced olive groves and vineyards framed by tall Cypress that whisked me metaphorically




MORE INFORMATION LODGING Budget Villa Artenea, Emila Bošnjaka 2, 51410 Opatija; (+385) 51 272 166, www.airbnb.com/rooms/1333396. A historic hillside villa a short walk from the seafront boulevard and restaurants with comfy rooms. Doubles begin at $88. Moderate Hotel Kristal, Maršala Tita 135, 51410 Opatija; (+385) 51 710 444, www.remisens.com/en/hotelkristal. Built on the shores of the Adriatic, this modern hotel has friendly staff, plus ocean views from half its rooms. Doubles begin at $107. Luxury Villa Amalia, Pava Tomašića

"THE ROAD AFFORDED WONDERFUL VISTAS …" back to Corfu. The road afforded wonderful vistas back towards Cres and over the picturesque terracotta roofs of Krk township. In summer its waterfront and honeycombed alleys get packed with tourists. But today Krk was untrammelled and clung to its drowsy traditions. Fishermen tended their nets, watched on by locals leisurely chatting with friends over espressos and wine. Candescent sunlight ricocheting off polished stone walls made warm work of strolling. So I did as the locals and lazed, licking a gelato, enjoying la dolce vita in the shade. Alas, I’d been called to an urgent meeting in Austria and had to miss the last day’s journey to Pula (the largest of Istria’s coastal towns), with its renowned Roman colosseum — a towering ossuary of broken limestone and lives – where gladiators once duelled. But the 2000-year-old, Roman-era walled city of Krk was bursting with interesting sites, including a little Romanesque cathedral built atop Roman thermae (baths) with a still extant hypocaust. The Romans were masters of enduring classic design, and in this case with a sensational backdrop. My little Vespa, exuding its own classical roots and vintage glamor, fit right in. “Vino, vita, Vespa!” said Pablo the next day as I said goodbye to Istria and my sexy Italian scooter at the end of a romantic Roman Holiday redux whirl. ARR


2/2, 51410 Opatija; (+385) 51 700 444, www.remisens.com/ en/villa-amalia. Isadora Duncan and the German Imperial family were among former guests who frequented this opulently furnished villa. Guests can use the premium Hotel Kvarner next door. Doubles begin at $174.

DINING Ružmarin Restaurant, Veprinački put 2, Opatija; (+385) 51 712 673, www.restaurant-ruzmarin.com/ en. Serves classic Croatian dishes in a warm Tuscan-like ambience. Mains average $11-$30.

Pizzeria Roko, Maršala Titi 124, Opatija; (+385) 51 711 500. Perhaps Opatija’s most popular restaurant, it specialises in oven-baked pizzas. Mains average $9-$30. Galija, Frankipasnka 38, Krk; (+385) 51 221 250, www.galijakrk. com. Boasting a yesteryear ambience, this family-run restaurant serves fresh seafood, such as octopus carpaccio, plus fresh-baked calzones and pizzas. Mains average $10-$35.

WHEN TO GO Mid-summer months offer glorious sunny weather, but also bring the crowds. The coastal resorts get packed and prices are inflated. Winter months are cold. It’s best to travel in shoulder season (May, June, September and October), when the tourist flocks are gone, prices fall, and it’s usually still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors.

TO LEARN MORE Edelweiss Bike Travel, (+43) 5264 5690, www.edelweissbiketravel.com. Week-long guided scooter tours in Croatia. Croatia National Tourist Board, 350 Fifth Ave, Suite 4003, New York, NY 10118; (212) 279 8672, www.croatia.hr

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HIGHLIGHTS Riding Provence, Gorge du Verdon, AixenProvence, Avignon, Carcassonne, Luberon villages, Vercors, Pont du Gard, Millau Viaduct, Grasse

NEXT TOUR DATE MAY 29 - JUN 13, 2021


Bonjour Provence COUNTRY France

DURATION 16 days / 14 Riding Days

ROUTE LENGTH 2.000 - 2.800 km (1.200 - 1.700 miles)

AUSRoadRider-200x64-PRO.indd 1

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A manufacture of shims for the adjustment of inlet and exhaust valve clearances. Range of sizes available from 7.0mm - 40.0mm diameter. Priced from $5.50 each inc. GST. Incremental steps of .02mm or .05mm available. Kits available including .02 & .05 increments.


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THE PERSONALISED GS Andrew Digby loves his GS, but he’s made some personal modifications to really make it his… WORDS & IMAGES BY: ANDREW DIGBY


BMW R 1200 GS

to utilise most Alpine motorcycle roads and especially the Oxley Highway between Wauchope and Walcha on our way back from our homes in Queensland. It took a while but I managed to remove the many thousand kamikaze bugs that coated every forward-facing surface before photographing the bike. I’ve modified my tool roll to accommodate the peculiarities of the breed and it’s only been utilised for maintenance or to fix someone else’s machine. Maintenance on this bike is so easy. As you can see, the photo shows there are a few homemade additions mainly to ensure the bike isn’t damaged in the event of a rock strike or tumble. That plate over the tappet cover is 6mm alloy; 12mm weld mesh over the headlight and radiator. There’s an enlarged sidestand base and a higher windshield (one


Plate over the tappet cover is 6mm alloy.

I can see through on dirt roads).

"…ADDITIONS MAINLY TO ENSURE THE BIKE ISN’T DAMAGED IN THE EVENT OF A ROCK STRIKE OR TUMBLE" Spotlights from Jaycar ($29 ea) are ADR compliant (450 lumen max) and have fluted acryli c (from a broken car lens) fitted to spread the light horizontal ly. Mounted on offcuts from tappet cover plate.


’ve had this 2017-model BMW R 1200 GS since the end of 2016 and it’s now clocked 50,000km without a hiccup. As I write this I’ve recently returned from a charity ride to Tassie, (Ed: ARR received Andrew’s submission as the COVID-19 lockdowns were starting…) where fabulous corners and amazing scenery await motorcyclists. It was great to be in the company of generous motorcyclists. The ride to and from Melbourne was also great. I managed

“Polycarbonate sheet heated in an oven to 175˚C can be shaped to suit. Better than the existing screen which distorts what you can see ahead. It is also taller as the existing screen was 50mm too low for my 1.8m.”

Headlight protection (using 12mm weld mesh) held in place with polycarbonate wind deflector and clips within the hollow alloy beak supports. A bit of space at the top so a cleaning rag on a thin bit of timber can clean the bugs off.

Cruise control means you can go quickly and not worry about police intervention to spoil your day. Solo rego, here in Queensland, prompted me to fit an extendable bag (it can accept a 15kg bag of fertiliser) and it sits (rolled up) where the rear seat base fitted (uses same mount/lock points). Panniers are usually fitted to carry rain gear and tool kit. A camping kit fits easily across the wide rack and panniers. I love the bike. There’s nothing else out there that quite meets the tourer credentials as well as a telelever twin. If you would like your bike featured here, send some nice pics and around 500 words to npaterson@umco.com.au.

A partly waterproof cover goes over everything (with a shock cord edge that makes it fit very tightly). A plastic sheet (waterproof) fits over the bag (tied down with nylon webbing and clips to the BMW rack) with tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag (tied to the bag with smaller nylon webbing) underneath the cover. This leaves the panniers unencumbered and are removable independently of the load on the rack.



The new Yamaha Tracer GT welcomed into the garage. – Paul Church

Arron Christmas She needs a little Motul love and care again. – Janelle Giles


Kermit & His Kampa….The best fun you can have sitting down… – Alan Maxwell

Mark Jekabsons

Bruce Kyle

Ben Eden Plenty of wheels to care for. – Oz Kastner An early morning run with my wife. – Bruce Kyle

Nearly finished the 12,500km trip over 4 states. Boy did she get dirty. – John Nicholson

My Triumph Tiger 900GT Adelaide! On tour! – David Cauchi


2004 Kawasaki Vulcan 800. 15,000km. – Gareth Golding



WINNER Phil Lalor Peter Kammerloher

Richard Lampard

On a trip to the Flinders Ranges. – Quenton Earl

Shane Morrisby

There are many dirty spots I’m sure the Motul pack would get to. – Gary Low Stephen Kellie

Home at last! – Norm Needham

I just need to be cleaner than what I am, Yamaha Virago 1000. – Graham Ayton

WIN THIS Every issue we’re giving away this beaut pack of Motul cleaning gear worth $49.95. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is send us a pick of your shining steed and we’ll pick what we think is the best shot and comment and the top blokes at Motul will fire out this pack to whoever wrote it. Simple. Pack includes some of the best washing and detailing products on the market: • • • •

Wash & Wax, a waterless cleaner that leaves a wax coating Moto Wash, good for all surfaces Scratch Remover, a micro-abrasive cream for painted surfaces Helmet & Visor Clean, to keep your lid and your view pristine.

Email roadrider@umco.com.au. We’ll do the rest.



LOOKING BACK VALE BERTRAND At Easter we lost one of Australia’s great motorcycling characters, Bertrand Cadart. A larger-than-life Frenchman who came to Australia in the 1970s, he built La Parisienne fairings, was a radio host, council mayor, the importer of Fournales Suspension and even an actor, his most famous role being that of Clunk in Mad Max. None of those things points to how he was an all-round nice guy, the life of any party he was invited to, and someone who wanted to leave the world a better place than he found it. Born in 1948 in France, he rode to Australia in 1972 after serving with the French military. Among the trio who arrived with him was Jack Burger, who created Gearsack, the luggage of choice in Australia in the 1980s. After working in radio, presenting French language programs for the ABC, Bertrand designed and launched La Parisienne fairings — few bikes in those days had any weather protection. The fairing business was slow until he scored a break from movie director, George Miller, who thought the fairings would look great on the bikes in Mad Max, Miller’s dystopian science fiction film. Cadart was also drafted into acting, playing the nonspeaking role of Clunk. Cadart’s motorcycling business evolved when he became the importer of Fournales Suspension, high-end oleopneumatic shocks which provided a much better ride, especially for cruisers.

Betrand Cadart doing a photo shoot with his beloved Fornales shocks.

In 2000 he moved to Bicheno in Tasmania and, by 2007, was the Mayor of Glamorgan Spring Bay. He promptly made the area the first motorcycle-friendly municipality in the state and fostered relations with New Caledonia. The French government honoured Cadart with the insignia of a Knight of the National Order of Merit for his community work. Cadart chose not to use a mayoral car, riding a Honda Silver Wing scooter around town instead and donating it to the Swansea Local History Museum when he left Tasmania in 2018.

By this time Cadart had received a terminal cancer diagnosis and decided to move to Queensland to be closer to his adult children. Bertrand Cadart was a jovial man, full of life and a love of food, wine, motorcycles and even people. He will be missed by all who knew him. A celebration of his life has been planned to take place at the Elphingstone Pub (now owned by motorcycle journalist Mark Fatore) in Victoria once travel restrictions from the COVID-19 virus have been lifted. Contact Mark at elphinstonehotel.com.au for further details.

LOOKING FORWARD FORWARD The motorcycle industry in Australia shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic (including Australian Road Rider, which skipped the mid-winter June/July issue). When it carefully re-opened, bike sales went crazy. As I write this it’s hard to buy a kid or family bike, dirt bike sales are way above the same time last year, and even big road bikes have been selling well. Put it down to a lack of team sports, more time on people’s hands, the NSW Premier saying motorcycle riding is exercise and therefore permitted during


the lockdown, and motorcycles being a great way to be with your friends and minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19. All these factors point to motorcycling doing a lot better than many other parts of the economy. But will this trend continue into the future? That’s very difficult to say. While many people have been on JobKeeper and others are on JobSeeker, those who do have incomes unaffected by the pandemic are just a bit more cashed up than they may have been… and there’s been less to spend their money on: no overseas travel, limited

interstate travel, no footy, no concerts, and less opportunity to spend in restaurants. The likelihood of international borders re-opening to tourism anytime soon looks bleak, apart from New Zealand, so touring this big country should become a priority for riders. Here at ARR we will be bringing you lots of tips and tricks about how to go touring safely and comfortably – from bikes to navigation to great locations to packing to gear and more. See you on the road. – Nigel Paterson

Profile for Universal Media Co

Australian Road Rider 156  

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