Readers Letters

We’ve been a bit busy over here

G’day Bear,
Greetings from Uruzgan, Afghanistan.
Firstly, thanks for the magazines you sent over. I’ve been reading them all with great interest and I’m in the process of planning a few big rides to celebrate my return.
Secondly, sorry for the late reply. We’ve all been a bit busy over here, and only now have I found some spare time (and brain power) to send you a letter.
Thank you for your support; it is encouraging to know that people back home are still keeping us in their thoughts. Stay safe, riders of Australia, and we will try and do the same.
I’ll see you all on the roads shortly.
CFN T R Filmer,

Yes, we will see you — when you get back let us know and we’ll arrange for you to go riding with us, if you like. — The Bear

Helmet puzzles
Hello Road Rider,
I have two comments on helmets arising from ARR #70. On p77, Stuart Woodbury recounts a conversation with reader Trevor Verlin in which, among other things, they agreed that for a rider who wears glasses a flip-front helmet is a very good idea.
I’m bewildered. Setting aside the advantages a flip-front helmet offers to any rider, whether bespectacled or not, I cannot see how a flip-front offers special benefit to someone with glasses. You still have to pass the spectacle arms between the liner and the top of your ears in either case. In what way does the presence or absence of a chin bar help?
I wear prescription glasses with a conventional full-face helmet, so I count myself as qualified to comment. Mind you, my glasses frames are very flexible (and expensive), so they’re easy to put on after the helmet is on.
On p78, The Bear gives us the story of Leo Beuermann and the Nolan helmet that didn’t fit properly after riding around in it for an hour. Surely the next logical step is to introduce more adjustability within the helmet cushion.
In my car, to adjust the driving position to the optimum comfort, I can: adjust the seat backwards and forwards; adjust the seat height up and down; adjust the tilt of the seat back; adjust the tilt of the steering column; adjust the forwards-backwards position of the steering wheel; and, finally, adjust the degree of lumbar support provided by the seat. Since I bought the less expensive version of this car, all this is done mechanically; in the more upmarket version, you simply identify yourself as Driver No 2, say, and all those adjustments happen electrically.
It’s the lumbar support thing I’m interested in here. In a car it’s purely a comfort rather than safety issue, but apply the same (quite primitive) technology to a helmet cushion, adjusted by screws perhaps, and it should be possible to tailor a helmet to fit just about anybody’s head. It’s a one-time event: you have the helmet liner tailored when you first buy it or you can do it yourself.
Would I pay $100 extra for a helmet with liner comfort tailoring? Possibly not, but I’m one of the fortunate few who can wear almost any brand in my size and find it comfortable. I certainly think the tailoring is a marketing opportunity that is presently overlooked.

Andrew McKenna

Well, Andrew, for me the perceived advantage is that you can put the helmet on without removing your glasses — and likewise remove it without once again first removing your glasses. Your second point is a very good one but it faces a problem that may well be insurmountable. The space between the hard shell and your head is required for compressible material that will act to reduce the deceleration your brain suffers as a result of a crash. If you place machinery to adjust the fit between the hard shell and the comfort lining and you do crash, you will quite likely find this machinery punching a hole in your skull. For the life of me, I can’t see a way around that except perhaps in some way making that machinery compressible as well — but then how could it do its job? — The Bear

Hello Bear, thank you for your very quick and thoughtful response. With respect to the flip-front helmet, I now see the point.
With respect to adjustable helmet cushions, and in response to your challenge to share some ideas, I analysed the problem to the best of my limited ability (since I’m neither an engineer nor an industrial designer) and came up with the attached [unfortunately, far too long to print — The Bear].
My study concludes that there isn’t an elegant way of doing what I was suggesting, which is probably why it hasn’t been done. Never mind. I had fun making the attempt. And maybe some of your other readers are cleverer than you or me?
Andrew McKenna

Typical BMW rider
I recently traversed the point-to-point cameras on the (Not So) Great Western Highway between Lithgow and Bathurst, on my BMUU that has a gizmo that tells me my “average speed”. I zeroed the gizmo as I passed the first camera and accelerated to 110km/h and merrily passed everything on the road as they stuck slavishly to the indicated 100km/h on their respective speedos. Quite some distance up the road, my “average” got to 100.3km/h, which I maintained until I came in sight of the end camera. I slowed to 90 until my “average” dropped below 100, then motored through the second camera with a point-to-point average of 99.7km/h. Given the 5 per cent error in my speedo, I was averaging 94–95km/h over the measured distance and passing everything on the road.
What a great safety initiative — it made all the dickheads slow down so I could have a pleasant squirt.
On the autostrada of Italy they have average speed cameras at regular intervals. Autostrada No 1 (I think — anyway it is the main north–south route through the whole country) is no better in build quality than the F3 or the Hume Highway yet has a posted limit of 130km/h. Most traffic tootles along at about 110–120km/h and manages to keep out of each other’s way, and stay out of the “fast lane” unless they are actually having a big go. Further to that, the streets were not lined with corpses and wrecked cars — maybe they haven’t heard that speed kills or they listened to their Uncle Enzo (Ferrari) who said, “Speed does not kill. It is the inability to handle speed that kills.”
So there, children, get an average speed device (like a GPS) and listen to Uncle Enzo and live happily ever after.
A.B.M.W. Rider
Somewhere, NSW

We don’t usually print anonymous letters, but this one was irresistible. Imagine, a BMW rider who can quote Uncle Enzo … The Bear

Bucks are far between

Hi there,
I’m a reader of your magazine. I like the addition of Great Rides in All States and Territories and I am a motorbike rider. I take photos on my trips; I’ve always wondered how to sell my photos and stories.
Andrew Davis
What you run into here, Andrew, is a lack of budget. We, like most motorcycle magazines, simply don’t have any money to spend on reader submissions. If you’re keen to sell your stories and photos you’ll need to target magazines that do have budgets for this sort of thing — although they can be very hard to find! — The Bear

Big fat Bonnie?
Several years ago there were several articles about a Triumph Bonneville project bike. It features an enlarged fuel tank (approx 20–24 litres). Are you able to supply the name of the shop that cut, shaped and enlarged the fuel tank?
Mike Textor
Mike, it was a Thunderbird, not a Bonneville; it was 36 litres; and it was done by a couple of private guys (ex TAFE teachers) who enjoyed the challenge but are not interested in doing any more. Umm … sorry. — The Bear

Ah, memories

I remember Omodei’s spare-parts shop from my days prior to being old enough to ride a motorcycle [Lester Morris, Wild Half]. This article brought a torrent of memories flooding in.
I vividly remember standing there at Omodei’s window looking at all the chrome parts etc and wishing I was old enough to get my licence. The shop had a certain old-world aura to it.
Whenever I was in the city area I made time to do the “lap”, that being up to Campbell Street to Burling and Simmons then up to Goulburn Street and Wentworth Avenue (the main hub of motorcycling in those days) to look at all the latest models and to see what I couldn’t afford or legally ride even if I could afford them.
Ah, the memories. Thanks, Lester.
Ross Jackson

… and more

The article in the June edition by Lester Morris on Omodei’s brought back some memories. I started riding in 1956 on a 1950 Thunderbird. In those days, Omodei’s was about the only place to buy riding gear. English, of course.
I bought my first Cromwell helmet from them, followed by a second after an accident with a car. Aero was their clothing brand and I still have two of their leather jackets. I also had their boots and gloves.
Their windows were an Aladdin’s cave, parts and accessories on one side and clothing on the other. Lester mentioned a rear chain but they also had pistons, rings, valves and springs, fork springs, speedo cables and just about anything for a British bike.
As Lester said, it was a shame to see them go. They were of the time when motorcycle mechanics wore overalls and not white coats.
I have moved on from the 1950 Thunderbird and now ride a R1200RT BMW.
John Howley
John, it seems there are many people out there with memories of Omodei’s (including me). I wonder if we should put together a little feature to give them an opportunity to recall those days. Let me think about it. I hope you enjoy the BMW as much as you did the Triumph. — The Bear

Testing our memories

Hello Peter Thoeming,
I am loving your magazine: great pictures, interesting/stimulating/informative articles and a nice balance of ads. My name is Iris. I am a returning rider — old bag returned rider. I bought a BMW F650GS in October of 2010.
I am writing to you because I realise how many articles have been printed on the Triumph Tiger 800XC (my competitive man-friend’s next bike on wish list) and I’m thinking I’ve missed out on the road-test articles, which I’m sure you would have produced for the BMW F650GS.
So I’m hoping you can point me in the right direction by advising which issue had road tests for my bike. Please. My earliest issue to hand is issue number 61 Sept/Oct 2010.
I have already called Universal Magazines and the lady went to the warehouse and looked back two issues further but then said that’s all she could manage because the piles of back issues were stacked too high in the warehouse and maybe she could help me further if I had specific issue numbers.
I hope you can help me out as I really want to read your opinions as I’m having some quirky new behaviour from the bike and feeling like a great big d/head. Heh heh. Because quirky behaviours include random stalling and dropping of bike, heh heh, and competitive friend is just assuming things about my performance. So please, please, if you find a moment, I’d be most relieved to read your mag’s results.
There is a really easy way to do this, Iris, and I’m amazed that the nice lady at Universal didn’t know it. Go to our website,, and look at the index. The stories are all listed there with details of when they appeared. — The Bear

You’ve got two eyes

Dear Bear,
I’ve just finished reading the September 2011 (#70) issue of Road Rider. As an older rider (since 1968), it’s good to read a bike rag that isn’t full of the dick measuring that seems to prevail in some other magazines.
On the other side of the coin is a disturbing trend for some riders to want the authorities to do all our thinking for us. Reader’s Rite contained a letter from John R containing, in part, “In the case of a longer section of winding road, the ‘wriggly arrow’ does NOT always show the direction of the road for the FIRST or NEXT corner!”
John! WTF? Evolution gave most of us two eyes and a brain to process what we see. Use them. Last year my wife and I spent several weeks travelling the roads of England, Scotland and Ireland. On most of the roads over there, when you approach a bend, you don’t always get a sign telling you to go left or right. Mostly we found the only warning was “SLOW” painted on the road surface as you approached. The driver or rider was expected to think for themselves — a refreshing concept.
Shane Birchall
Shane, we got several letters along the same lines as yours. But Australians can’t be trusted to think for themselves, can we? It seems not, anyway, going by the way we’re treated by our various bureaucracies. — The Bear

Hands up!
Hi Peter,
I read with interest your escapades in Norway and your comments on the Honda VFR1200.
I’ve had my VFR (Manual) for four months now and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I haven’t ridden for 30 years and I’m feeling 25 again. I’ve joined the Ulysses Club and am meeting some great guys.
You mentioned that some riders are adding higher risers on the handlebars. I’m in Sydney and I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of someone who can supply/fit the risers?
Try Australian Motorcycle Components, Russ. They advertise in ARR, and their website is Rob is very helpful. — The Bear

Get well and truly Routed

Hi people,
My son James, friend Ali and I left for the UK and Europe on the 6th of May and returned on the 10th of August. What a holiday.
Dave, Maggie and the UK team were the most professional and organised group or individuals we encountered for a long time. Everything went so smoothly and as outlined in the information package we were sent. (Read every bloody word; what part of this do we not understand, people?) Some people have high expectations that sometimes border on the ridiculous.
We as a group of three were very happy with the service that Get Routed provided, so much so that Ali is returning the year after next and James is very shortly. I have a wife who wants to join me but we have to find a suitable bike first.
Thank you, Dave, Maggie and the team for making our jaunt to good old Blighty and on such a memorable one. We will be using your services again in the near future.
Nick Paliadelis and team of the UK Euro trip
Come on, Milligan, we recognised your handwriting … — The Bear

Gary gets a head

Hi Peter,
In ARR #70 you asked for feedback regarding a better way of trying out a helmet’s suitability. I have a suggestion that would involve manufacturers and retailers as well as the rider.
To begin, the manufacturers would need to agree to supply to all their retailers a small quantity of test helmets. These would be made in all sizes in a universally agreed-upon standard unattractive colour: perhaps pastel pink? Each test helmet would display its build date on the outer shell, along with the words “Test Helmet Only — Not For Sale”.
At retail outlets, these helmets would be the only ones within physical reach of potential customers (helmets that are for sale would be displayed in view but out of reach of everyone but sales staff).
Riders could try on the test helmets in order to judge fit, initial comfort and features, as per current practice. It would be up to the individual rider to supply his/her own helmet liner if necessary — again, as per current practice.
However, if a rider wished to take out and test-ride one of these helmets, cash would have to change hands. The amount would need to be significant; perhaps $200. In any case, more than what a used helmet is worth. The rider would be issued with a refundable receipt. If, after the test ride, the helmet proved to be unsuitable, it could be freely exchanged for a second test helmet of a different size/type/brand. This could go on all day if the rider wanted to do so. If the last helmet tested still proved unsatisfactory, the rider would hand back the receipt and regain the cash, no questions asked and no salesperson aggro allowed.
Riders would need to assume that test helmets (a) may have been dropped several times and (b) may be unhygienic. The first issue is certainly a risk, but a small one. The second issue is also a risk but one faced under current practice, anyway.
I realise that the inner shell of a test helmet would start to deform/conform from the first wearing, but this system would give a rider a much better chance of judging a lid’s real-world conditions instead of, as is the norm, risking paying out a really significant amount for an unsatisfactory product.
For the retailer, every non-test helmet would then be able to be sold as new, which has to be a huge improvement on the current situation of having to continually scrap perhaps a few dozen shop-soiled lids that nobody wants to buy.
What do you think?
Gary Van den Driesen
Chewton, Victoria
An attractive idea in some ways, Gary. But … there are several reasons why I don’t think it would work, the main one being that it would be very expensive (you’d need a lot of test helmets — one of each type in each size; well over 100 helmets per average shop) and the cost would have to go onto the price of each helmet. I think we’d better keep thinking. — The Bear
Tie me scooter on down, sport …

Hi Bear,
I just read John’s letter in ARR magazine [Smooth Sailing, July 2011]. I have taken my Vespa on the ferry to the mainland many times over the past 10 years. In the past few years, they generally tie the bikes down only by the handlebars.
They get you to put the bike in first gear and put it on the sidestand, and the handlebar strap has a Velcro tie, which they tighten over the front brake lever. I have never had any trouble, even on rough trips. The tie-down blokes don’t mind you watching your pride and joy being tied down. I have seen extra tie-downs attached to rear racks if they’ve felt it’s necessary.
Attached is a pic so you can see the straps I am talking about. I hope you do decide to come to ride on our lovely island the easy way, by boat!
Sharon Heritage
Organiser Hobart Motor Scooter Club & proprietor Cosmic Breed Mod Gear

Leveraging the Norton

Hi Bear,
I read a reply on which side of the bike the gearlever is on and why. The replier stated that the Norton Commando had a 1-up and 4-down gear pattern.
Now I owned a Commando from nearly new in the 1970s and I have one now.
Despite having rebuilt the gearboxes several times, I have never managed to cram enough cogs in to get 1-up and 4-down. Best I can manage is 1-up and 3-down.
I wonder if I can put a warranty claim in to Norton for the missing gear?
Mark Thornton
Nah, you’re just not trying hard enough, Mark. — The Bear

Back to the USSR

As you so rightly point out in your Ural article in ARR #71, the Ural and the Dnieper are different bikes made in (now) different countries. It is unfortunate that the British importers back in the 70s confused the issue by marketing both under the name Cossack or Neval. I always thought it strange that the antiquated Ural survived whereas the Ukrainian-built Dnieper — a more modern design — did not. The major engine difference is similar to pre- and post-1969 airhead BMWs. The Dnieper engine, like the later BMWs, employed plain bearings and high-pressure oil pumps.
I’m glad you acknowledge that there is an alternative Ural history. The one I favour says the Soviets of the day just did not have the skills or technology to reverse-engineer the BMW design, some elements of which should have been easily simplified for mass military production. No, I find it far more plausible that the Soviets were given the designs and the machinery by the Germans as part of the Molotov-von Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact. The Soviets didn’t have to think about it, just build the factory and go into production. Some historians even believe they were given the designs for a complete “turnkey” factory, much as Fiat did some years later with the Lada factory. I’m not sure if I buy that part, though.
Dave Oakley
Cow Flat NSW
There are more theories about this than there were T34s at Kursk, Dave. I’m sticking with mine because, after lengthy research, it is by far the most credible … to me. — The Bear


Hi Bear,
Now, the closest I have come to a Ural motorcycle is a Ferris Wheels tour of Turkey with Jon, but with such an outstanding background, I couldn’t reconcile your statement of a “leading link front end” with the photos in the article.
Perhaps it is just the cheaper model that lacks that feature?
That’s exactly right, Wayne — and of course I failed to mention that the one model in the range that has telescopics was the one we photographed. Needless to say, we have had several letters about this. — The Bear

Bike trouble, eye trouble
Dear Peter and the ARR co
Really enjoy the mag, just what I have been looking for. Thank you for NOT showing dyno graphs and NOT crapping on ad nauseam about sports bikes only … zzzzz
A few small opportunities, however, that I thought I’d mention…
Both articles on packing and rescue and recovery squads were great in separate months. However, I felt you left the extra tools area a bit light-on in the packing article. The extras mentioned in the recovery article cover the missing items (spanners, mini-socket set, pipe ext, needle-nose pliers w/wire cutter, multi-grips etc). Horses for courses, but I also take a diagnostic code reader (small GS911) in case of trouble codes, which helps pinpoint problems if they occur. A 12V test light or small multimeter might also be worth including, as there is no electrical diagnostic capability otherwise. Many troubles on modern bikes can be electrical.
Also, when articles on travelling are published, please include a map! I find my eyes soon gloss over reading town names when I have no idea where the location is. Ideally, I’d like to see the map plus a highlighted line showing the route. You have done this at least once before. You’re affiliated with Hema so, hopefully, this shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange. At the least, refer to the Hema A5 map guide page and area (eg p56 H4) like Melways references so we can follow along.
Keep up the good work. Cheers
Thanks and regards
Geelong, Vic
Kendrick, being an electrical engineer and a BMW rider you would find the diagnostic code reader and multimeter more useful than some of us Neanderthals would, I suspect. As for the maps, we do try to feature them as often as we can. — The Bear

Fuelish things
Dear Peter
I enjoyed reading your review of the Moto Guzzi Norge 1200GT as, indeed, I enjoy reading all your tests. As a fuel consumption obsessive, I couldn’t help remarking on your quoted fuel use of 6.77l/100km giving a range of 239km. Are these figures the output of some super-accurate fuel consumption meter that reads better than .01 litres, or are they simply the output of a calculator? Whichever, they seem rather disappointing for a test at close to posted speed limits. I can guess what you might have been doing with that “rocket-like power from 5000rpm”. No doubt air cooling (?) and shaft drive take their toll. I would still like to see better comparative data for different motorcycles that don’t reflect the idiosyncrasies of the test rider — and expressed in appropriate significant figures (6.8l/100km and 240km).
Peter Cole
Peter, the figures are the product of a calculator, using the distance the bike has covered and the fuel it has taken. That seems to be a pretty accurate way — I can’t see how even a “super-accurate fuel consumption meter” would give us better figures.
Every rider gets different fuel economy, which is one reason why our multi-rider tests are useful; we’re effectively averaging out the consumption. I’m interested in your idea of comparative data that doesn’t reflect the idiosyncrasies of the riders, but I’m afraid I can’t think of a realistic way of acquiring such data. One of the reasons we don’t round off the figures is that there seems little point. Another is that with sole riders we may well end up rounding off in the wrong direction — what if that particular rider was especially economical and we’re making the bike seem even more economical to the point of being misleading? — The Bear


Dear Mr Bear,
Thanks for two great mags and I have just renewed my subscription for another two years. Reading Capt Rob Anderson’s letter re headlight and brake-light modulators: although I read your mag cover to cover I must have missed something, so could you please enlighten me on these “modulators” as I’d try anything to be more visible. If that’s what it’s about I would like to add them to my Goldwing. I would be grateful for the enlightenment!!
David Watts
Vasse WA
We have written about these, David, as we fitted them to a couple of our project bikes. The easiest way to track down details, though, is to take a look at the importer’s website: — The Bear

Sorry Bear.
Have to strongly disagree with your assertion that the Kwakka was the original superbike. I’ll have to award that title to the Honda 750/4 — way back in 1969.
Well, I’d probably agree with you, Spear. But Stuart obviously doesn’t — and if you rode both the Honda and the Kawasaki you might see his point. — The Bear

Scooter galore

I’ve noticed that the number of scooter articles has dropped off. I know scooters are a distant relation to the fantastic motorcycles you write about, but those of us moving through our third decade of Ulysses Club membership, and with Arthur (Arthur-Itis) as an ever-present companion, might like to explore and enjoy reading about our most comfortable way of staying on two wheels.
I know some riders scoff at scooters (as I may have done once) but it seems to me that more of us old farts are having to recognise them as a viable alternative to the rides of our youth.
There are many to choose from and if those two Citycom 300i scoots can make it to Cameron Corner and back they can obviously go to a lot of interesting places. (I was there last week. “We only have round pies, mate!”)
Please increase your scooter content. Maybe just a couple of dedicated pages so the purists could staple them together. (I’m sure John would enjoy some advertising from the scooter industry, too.) There! That feels better!
Nairne SA
Yes, all right, Charles. We’ve had plenty of letters about the identical windscreen pics on page 77. It was a production error, but at least we did show you the new screen — even if we showed it twice. As for more scooter content: all right, we’ll do it. I won’t hold my breath for advertising, though. — The Bear

High-speed photography
G’day Bear,
In these days of Constable Plod using the media as evidence to prosecute hoons, maybe you might want to consider investing in a good photo-editing program! I refer to the story Must-stop Mildura in October ARR and the picture on the title page showing the speedo at, unless my eyes deceive me (and they just might these days!), 120km/h!
Hmm, that stretch of the Sturt Highway doesn’t look like it might have a speed limit in that range.
Bet it was a good ride, though! Wish I was there.
Ray Muddle
Moore Park Beach Qld
This is yet another subject that’s drawn a lot of fire. You people out there really do have too much time on your hands. As for your recommendation, I already have a good photo-editing program. That’s how I made it look as if I was going that fast. — The Bear

Kindling interest

Hi Bear,
I’m a big reader and over the past year I’ve been an avid user of an Amazon Kindle. This is so easy to use; it weighs next to nothing and can hold up to 6500 books; one can wirelessly download books anywhere in the world (and that service is free/included); and the battery life is about eight weeks with multi-hour daily use! End of plug.
Anyhow, I thought you might be interested to learn that the range of books available on the Kindle is quite extensive and I’ve just purchased Going Postal. The difference is that ARR lists the Oz price as $29.95 for a hardcopy but it’s available for instant download for just US$11.96 at the Kindle Store! The Road Gets Better From Here is also available at the Kindle Store (for $9.59) but I’ve not purchased that one just yet.
All the best and please continue the great work with both ARR and Cruiser.
John Kennedy
Broome, Western Australia

Well, there you go. I’ve got a Kindle, too, which I use mainly when I’m travelling (I still like the feeling of a real book) but it never occurred to me to check if those books were available from Amazon. Get with the tech. — The Bear!


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