Ride Guide

rideguide-1360

Ride Guide

The ultimate in co-operation: you help other riders, we help you and other riders and in turn they help you and, err, you know what I mean.

And the Rest
“A few years ago, Bob Brennan moved from Sydney to Drake in northern New South Wales,” starts this press release. “His bush property is tucked away at Yellow Creek on the Bruxner Highway, one of the best bike roads in the Australia.

“He saw the unique potential that a purpose-built biker accommodation facility would have for touring groups. Bob found that most bike riders, with the exception to the rule, are generally very pleasant and responsible people, quite the opposite of the image painted by the media.

“Bike riding groups have special needs when it comes to securely parking their bikes without the risk of theft or getting undue attention by the keepers of the law. Riders Rest is the perfect getaway for riders who enjoy touring, a weekend trip or need a clubhouse on the road.

“Bob created a complex on his bush property that features the Riders Rest barn where the group can securely stable their bikes and have a choice of accommodation, such as a self-contained cabin with verandah spa bath, wood fire, home theatre, heating and cooling, bunk-house accommodation or camping. Bob caters to all his guests’ needs and provides entertainment facilities, open fire place, outdoor roasting spit and BBQs for groups to enjoy a party for that special occasion, have a wedding ceremony or AGMs.

“Bob’s vision for the future of Riders Rest is to offer his venue and facilities in support of charity runs by bike groups.”

It sounds hard to beat to us. Why not give him a go: Bob Brennan, Bruxner Hwy, Tabulan, NSW, 2469, phone (02)6666 1307, info@ridersrest.com.au.

Dogged question
“I am writing in reference to your interview with Bertrand Cadart,” writes Tony Matthews from Ascot Vale in Victoria. “I took particular notice of his Honda with the dog and carrier on the back.

“We have a small dog (a Bichon Frise) and like taking him with us (my wife and I). We finally opted for an over the shoulder dog carrier bag that the pillion uses, however we cannot use it for a long trip or too fast. I love the carrier that Bertrand had and was impressed that it was even colour co-ordinated! Any idea how he got it or is it just a standard Honda Goldwing accessory?

“Reading his article made me think about when I rode around Tassie (pre-dog and pre-wife). It was soooo good and I wish I could do it again soon. The varying scenery and riding conditions as you travelled the State were surprising and is a bit like New Zealand although not as wet.

“I note that not many riders take their dogs along on a ride and was even thinking of approaching a canvas bag manufacturer to create a ‘dog carrier for motorbikes’ with maybe a Perspex front on it, some breathing holes at the sides, etc. Are there any established accessories for this? Is this maybe an untapped market perhaps?

“As an aside, I noted you were going to mention the Bluetooth for helmets in a later issue. I recently bought the flip-top Shoei with a Blue Ant kit and am quite rapped with it. I use the voice commands while I am riding and it works well (so long as I pronounce the name in a flat, clear tone). It even works well with a (fairly) loud exhaust both talking and listening. I bought a new jacket and some other gear at the same time and would like to recommend the Peter Stevens sales staff for their very friendly service and discounts (No, I don’t work for them).”

Tony, the carrier was custom-made by a friend of the Frog’s. As far as I know there are no dedicated dog carriers made for bikes. I wonder if you couldn’t just adapt a standard dog carrier (like the ones available from vets).

Some of these are made of sturdy plastic and probably could be made weatherproof by just covering some of the ventilation holes with clear Perspex. But I’m afraid I don’t know the legal and OH&S side of this – only that it’s been made illegal to carry a dog on the tank.

Uncle Martin? Are you there?
Here’s an interesting question from myfavouritemartian@bigpond.com.

“How do you transport your helmet when flying overseas? Do you carry it on as hand luggage or just pack it in your case? Or do you just hire one?”

Well, until recently I would have said don’t even think about hiring one but then I spent a bit of time at Dubbelju Motorcycle Rentals in San Francisco and came to realise that some renters do look after helmets and replace them frequently. So as a last resort, and if you know it’s been looked after, maybe you can rent a helmet.

But I wouldn’t. I pack mine (a normal suitcase should be just about deep enough) and fill it with gloves, scarf and other riding gear to best use the space.

If for some reason I can’t pack it – like when I’m flying somewhere for a day or so and don’t have any check-in luggage – I carry it in a helmet bag and take it into the cabin. Most airlines will allow you to take a “hat” as well as your other carry-on luggage and I’ve always managed to convince them that my helmet is, indeed, a hat!

GORing ride
“Hi Pete,” writes Pam Roth of Melbourne, I think. “I just got back from an incredible trip down the Great Ocean Road with two friends and wanted to share my newfound riding passion with anyone that cares to read on.

“Finding myself approaching middle age and single again, I decided to get my motorbike licence in March 2007 and bought what has turned out to be a very reliable 250 Kawasaki ZZR.

“At that stage I could never have imagined how my passion for riding would grow and what a life-changing decision this was.

“After many hours of solo practice, I ventured on an organised ride which consisted of a bunch of guys on very sporty machines and another lady L plater, Carolyn on her little 250. The guys were very gracious in waiting along the way for us and later joked that they had never seen so much of the countryside while waiting for us. Carolyn and I have become firm friends and are constantly plotting our next ride together and joining the local ladies ride group on our monthly Sunday ride or overnighter.

“Last year we toured Tassie with a large group from Albury and our trusty 250s did a magnificent job negotiating the tight twisty curves, much to the surprise of the rest of the group.

“This was only the beginning of our adventures with regular trips through the mountains to Jindabyne, Bonambra, through our local ‘backyard’ to Mt Buffalo, Corryong, Dartmouth Dam and Mansfield via Whitfield.

“Trips further afield along the South Coast and to Wollongong where Macquarie Pass was a challenge, particularly one tight drop away corner which I’m sure any rider having ridden the pass will know. Our aim is to ride a majority of the top 100 rides listed in the Motorcycle Atlas and have already ticked off 20.

“Last year we ventured to Phillip Island for the GP, camping gear firmly strapped to our racks and no idea what to expect. What an experience! The racing was outstanding but our favourite pastime was mixing with the other bike fanatics and admiring machines of every description. One evening’s ‘entertainment’ consisted of cheering on attempts to ride/slide out of the camp ground after the rain made the track treacherously slippery.

“The trip was made even more memorable with the weather turning very nasty on the way home, encountering torrential hail on the Black Spur, of all places! Very testing, with the road blanketed in hail and gushing water, we soldiered on and somehow made it to the bottom. After this I can confirm your findings on waterproof gloves in ARR #51, my particular gloves did not stand up to the task and after wringing them out, I forged on with very cold and wet hands. Fortunately my other gear was up to standard.

“Our plans are now turning to test-riding bikes, as upgrades are on the horizon and an overseas trip which we hope will find us riding through the Alps next year. ARR has been a great source of info and spurs on the imagination to ride far away places. Life is forever changed through discovering the thrill of riding.”

Gee, Pam, how can I tell you that the new Motorcycle Atlas has 200 rides in it. Okay, I know this letter doesn’t have much information in it as such but isn’t it nice to read!

On your feet
In preparation for riding to the Townsville Ulysses AGM event, Ian Buckberry from North Tamborine in Queensland bought a new pair of motorcycle boots “of a well-known Chinese brand”, he says.

“They were strongly made and after some wearing in to overcome the stiffness (I couldn’t feel the gear change or brakes for a while) I was reasonably happy with them.

“About 20km into my ride to Townsville, I sat behind a water truck as we approached a roundabout in heavy traffic. The truck stopped frequently, slopping water and I found that my boots would not grip the wet road when I put my foot down. I nearly dropped my heavily loaded machine. At another time on the trip north, I found myself on a wet road and had the same problem. I became anxious about riding in the wet.

“In Townsville, I came across the Rossi stand and the salesman assured me that Rossi boots would grip a wet road. I bought a pair and so did my wife. Well, they certainly grip a wet road like suction pads and you can walk a considerable distance in comfort. From the first wearing they allowed a sensitive feel of the foot controls.

“Recently a small piece of stitching on one boot came away and I contacted Rossi. They quickly arranged for the boot to be returned to their factory, fixed the problem and freighted it back to me at no cost.

“I feel quite passionate about the high quality of Rossi motorcycle boots and the after-sales service. This view is shared by many other Rossi owners who I run into.”

And run into very comfortably, in your Rossis! I think just about everyone associated with ARR has a pair of Rossis in the garage and mine are certainly the most used of my boots. I know the Bear rides to work most days with his short Rossis on. Oh, and regular correspondent Mike Mawhirt from High Wycombe in WA agrees.

“I have been reading the Rossi article in the ‘Testing’ section of the latest issue. I have had a pair of the short 814s for a couple of years and they have been brilliant over the 70,000km they have done so far. I have also a pair of the 811s that I wear in winter and they, too, are good.
“The only issue I have is that both pair being the same size, the 814s actually are more comfy to wear as a multi-purpose travelling boot if that makes sense.

“But I will always buy Rossi as they are Australian and track proven!”

Have the last liquid laugh
“G’day, Bear,” writes Shayne Faulkner from Bray Park in Brisbane. “I wish to pass on some information that may be of benefit to Road Rider readers.

“In your article titled ‘11 tips to help you get there’ the Possum rates water as a high priority. I agree with him completely. He mentions a mate that uses a water pack bladder in his tank bag to enable him to drink as he rides along. I bet he has done this because the normal water pack is not comfortable to wear on is back as intended. I found that a water pack underneath my jacket was not comfortable at all and trying to put one over the top of my jacket was even worse.

“You can buy jackets with water bladders built in such as the one Dri-Rider makes, however I suspect many of us have more than one jacket to wear, depending on the conditions.

“After looking around I found a good solution. Camelback makes a small water pack, the bladder holding 750ml, which goes around your waist like a bum bag. It is marketed to runners and hikers etc, and I found mine in an outdoor store rather than a bike shop. I find it very comfortable and it does not affect jacket fit at all, as most jackets have ample room around the waist. At least all mine do.

“I simply run the hose out underneath the bottom of the jacket and tuck it into the belt, or leave it across my lap where it is easy to grab as I ride along. It also comes with a clip to position the hose if you wish to use that.

“Being able to have a drink as you ride along, rather than wait for the next stop, is great, especially in hot weather. I would not go anywhere without it now.”

And what a good idea that is! We actually use both the standard Camelbak and one of the Dri Rider jackets but we like this idea, too.

When, oh, when?
“On the subject of your splendid Australia Motorcycle Atlas,” writes Mark A Prior from somewhere in Queensland, “love the book but would love it even more if you noted the month and year in which the rides were undertaken. My reason, simply to reassure me of road conditions being consistent with those mentioned in the ride review.”

Mark, your best indication of road conditions are the maps. They should always be up to date. Check the edition date inside the front cover to see when they were last revised.

You need what first?
“I have recently moved to Queensland from New South Wales,” writes Brendon Kinsey from Surfers. “I was looking at getting my motorcycle licence before I left NSW but the job I was offered in Qld was too good to pass up.

“I have not had a car licence because I have always worked within walking distance of where I lived but wanted a motorcycle for the days off work. I found out today that it is impossible to get a motorcycle licence without first holding a full drivers licence! What is this?

“What a backwards State! In NSW you do the two-day course and get your learners, here you cannot even get on a motorcycle without owning a car, this defeats the purpose for which I was originally looking at using a motorcycle for transport!

“I’m quite disheartened to say the least! I’m no longer considering staying in this State as I would have to spend an enormous amount of money and time on what should be a painless and fairly straightforward procedure…

“Wake up Queensland!

“Thanks for reading this, it’s just infuriating, I’m 28 and all I want is to not buy a car and help the environment and ease congestion while enjoying myself. I’m not looking to buy a massive bike and tear around the streets like a hoon, I just want to ride!”

They hate us, Brendon. That’s the only explanation I can think of. They hate us because we have more fun than they do.

See well, smell good
“Always enjoy reading about the new products that become available and are so comprehensively covered by ARR,” writes regular correspondent Frank from Boyup Brook, WA. “Have just read about a product called Raincoat. I would like to tell you how I coat my visor.

“Using one of the small ‘Armour All’ containers with the pump spray nozzle, I fill it with Mr Sheen. Cheap as chips and works a treat. I spray a small amount onto the visor and polish it off with a soft cloth, repels water beautifully. It doubles very well for cleaning bugs and insects off while travelling. Same procedure, spray and wipe. A bonus is that it leaves a pleasant aroma around the helmet.

“It goes with me wherever I go.”

Yes, Frank, Mr Sheen is a popular solution to this problem. Raincoat is a bit more effective, though, and certainly lasts longer.

Best of British
Dave from the UK hasn’t read ARR but he has a couple of my books, which is where he found my email address.

“The reason I want advice from you is that me and a mate are planning on coming over to Oz for a bit of a ride!

“Our somewhat tentative plan is to ride around the entire coast and, naturally, fit in a detour inland to Uluru/Alice Springs. We are planning on taking three months from September to December – got to be back for Xmas, the wives would never forgive us! We don’t have anything definite re stops – if somewhere is good we’ll stay as long as we want/feel we can afford to. Having just got your books by post from the US we’ll be studying destinations at length!

“Having received various bits of advice it appears there is no point in doing the entire coast – what do you reckon? Advice seems to suggest it would take three weeks and that there are large areas in the north with… NO PUBS????!!

“The main question we have for you is to rent or to buy? On rental we have an offer of V-Stroms for $50 a day per bike or GS650s for $69 a day per bike. These are from two different companies and the BMW deal is slightly better – helmets, panniers, service etc.

“We have been told it’s not easy buying, although we do have contacts who live in Oz who would do it for us but we’re not sure how difficult and whether it’s worth the trouble for a max of three months. Obviously we would not have any backup if we bought instead of renting. However, you are the man who lives, rides out there so whaddya reckon?”

Sounds like a great ride but I can understand your concern about the renting/buying question. The BMs would cost you over $6000 each to rent – not that you could buy them for that but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t lose that much value.

Let me suggest you think about this. Either offer a lower flat rate for such a long rental, or ask whether the renter will do a buyback. Or get your friends here in Oz to organise a buyback with a dealer. If you buy new, many brands offer a year of free roadside service, which would take care of your backup.

If you buy second hand you may find that reciprocal rights with our roadside service organisations can be arranged through the AA or RAC over there. As for places to go, I’d suggest yet another one of my books (has he no shame?) called the Australia Motorcycle Atlas. It’s put out by Hema Maps and you’ll find details on its website www.hemamaps.com. I think you’ll be able to source a copy direct.

Yes, there are some quite long stretches in the north without pubs, but it’s okay; the roadhouses are all licensed. I think you’d be pushing it to get around in three weeks and still see stuff. Why not pick the places you want to go and then tie them together with the most interesting/shortest roads?

Most people ride more or less from Cairns across to Tennant Creek via Mt Isa; the alternative along the Gulf can be very difficult. Likewise, the Kimberley is inaccessible and you’re probably best off sticking to Highway 1.

Have a great trip, and feel free to ask if there’s anything else you’d like to know.

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Ride Guide

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Ride Guide

In this catch-all part of ARR we cover the travel questions and answers that wouldn’t fit in anywhere else. This time, we tell you how to take your own bike to Turkey!

Pam’s a convert

“Hi Pete,” writes Pam Roth. “I just got back from an incredible trip down the Great Ocean road with two friends and wanted to share my new-found riding passion with anyone who cares to read on.

“Finding myself approaching middle age and single again, I decided to get my motorbike licence in March 2007 and bought what has turned out to be a very reliable 250 Kawasaki ZZR. At that stage I could never have imagined how my passion for riding would grow and what a life-changing decision this was.

“After many hours of solo practice, I ventured on an organised ride that consisted of a bunch of guys on very sporty machines and another lady L plater, Carolyn, on her little 250.  The guys were very gracious in waiting along the way for us and later joked that they had never seen so much of the countryside while waiting for us. Carolyn and I have become firm friends and are constantly plotting our next ride together and joining the local ladies ride group on our monthly Sunday ride or overnighter. 

“Last year we toured Tassie with a large group from Albury and our trusty 250s did a magnificent job negotiating the tight twisty curves, much to the surprise of the rest of the group.

“This was only the beginning of our adventures, with regular trips through the mountains to Jindabyne, Bonambra, through our local ‘backyard’ to Mt Buffalo, Corryong, Dartmouth Dam and Mansfield via Whitfield. Trips further afield along the south coast and to Wollongong where Macquarie Pass was a challenge, particularly one tight drop away corner that I’m sure any rider having ridden the pass will know. Our aim is to ride a majority of the top 100 rides listed in the Motorcycle Atlas and we have already ticked off 20. [I’ve got bad news for you, Pam. The new Atlas is out – with 200 rides.]

“Last year we ventured to Phillip Island for the GP, camping gear firmly strapped to our racks and no idea what to expect. What an experience!  The racing was outstanding but our favourite pastime was mixing with the other bike fanatics and admiring machines of every description. One evening’s ‘entertainment’ consisted of cheering on attempts to ride/slide out of the camp ground after the rain made the track treacherously slippery.

“The trip was made even more memorable with the weather turning very nasty on the way home, encountering torrential hail on the Black Spur, of all places! Very testing, with the road blanketed in hail and gushing water, we soldiered on and somehow made it to the bottom. After this I can confirm your findings on waterproof gloves in ARR #51, my particular gloves did not stand up to the task and after wringing them out I forged on with very cold and wet hands, fortunately my other gear was up to standard.

“Our plans are now turning to test riding bikes, as upgrades are on the horizon and an overseas trip which we hope will find us riding through the Alps next year. ARR has been a great source of info and spurs on the imagination to ride far away places.  Life is forever changed through discovering the thrill of riding.”

What could I possibly add to that?

LMc

May we also recommend the latest edition of the Hema Maps Motorcycle Atlas? It now has 200 rides and is available at any map shop.

Join the Navy, see Hawaii

“Dear Bear,” writes Byron Steele from Worrigee, NSW. “This is my first communication with you and I want to compliment you on a fantastic magazine. I first read ARR about four years ago after I graduated to my first full-sized bike (which was kind of a surprise as I was planning a wedding at the time, but she said ‘go ahead’). I was looking for someone or something to give me ideas on where to go and how to get there and your magazine did more than fill the bill. I’ve read it every chance I could get ever since. I’ve been meaning to write in for a while now, so here I go.

“I recently found myself in the Hawaiian islands on an all-expenses-paid cruise sponsored by the government (I’m in the Navy) and some mates and I found ourselves with a few days to do whatever we wanted on the island of O’Ahu. O’Ahu is probably the more famous of the islands as it is home to places such as Honolulu (and Hawaii’s international airport) Waikiki beach and Pearl Harbour. We decided that as we were in the States we should take the opportunity to hire Harleys and tour the island.

“There are plenty of companies that hire bikes, especially scooters and Harleys for quite reasonable prices, so you can be literally spoilt for choice. My mate and I hired our bikes from Cruisin’ Hawaii, a Heritage Softail for him, and a Fat Boy for me. The other two in our party, the ship’s Chaplain and his mate, hired Sportsters from another company. I can’t say enough for Cruisin’ Hawaii, which is on +1 808 945 9595. They have about a dozen bikes in the shop, mainly Softails in good condition. He had a good range from Classic and Custom Heritages to Sportsters. What we appreciated was the service. With our bikes we got a map and about a 15 minute spiel on the best route around the island, the best route back depending on time, the best places to eat and the best places to visit depending what you’re interested in.

“Single-day hire was from 8.30am to 5.30pm which, at that time of year (June-July), was approaching sunset and evening showers. We also found, just as we were told, that one tank of fuel does one lap of the island. Most of the bikes have a bag or panniers of some sort and helmets are provided, although not required in Hawaii under current road rules. It’s a weird feeling riding past a Highway Patrol without a helmet and getting a cheery wave!

“The route we took headed east from Waikiki to Diamond Head, up the east coast with a quick detour inland to Nu’Uanu Pali, the site of the battle where Hawaii’s King Kamehameha defeated Maui’s King Kalanikupule to unite the Hawaiian islands for the first time. The site is now a lookout with views up the east coast of O’Ahu and on a good day you can see the other Hawaiian islands in the distance.

“From here we headed back to the coast and continued up and around, past the surf beaches, stopping whenever we felt like it till it was time to turn down the centre and head back through to Honolulu and then Waikiki. The weather smiled on us the whole day and the whole experience is one we’ll never forget.

“We only hired bikes for one day and that was enough for us, but there is so much to do around O’Ahu. If you’re interested in history, then the various memorials around Pearl Harbor are a must see. The Arizona memorial rivals our own War Memorial in its professionalism. Admission is free but a donation in any currency is appreciated. There are tours out to the Arizona every 15 minutes. These begin with a short movie about the day of the battle and the sinking of the Arizona. Then it’s a short boat ride out to the memorial with enough time allowed at the site to peruse the list of those entombed as well as models and other information about the Arizona as she now stands. The body of the ship can be seen quite clearly through the water, with the amount above water varying with the tides. What surprised me is that 70 years later she still leaks a steady stream of oil.

“Just along from the Arizona memorial are the Pacific Air Museum and the departure point for tours of USS Missouri.

“Up along the east coast of the island is the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is also worth a visit. It covers the history and cultures of the region and is the best place to see traditional dances and luau as well as experience traditional cuisine. The surf beaches are all on the northern end of the island but the surf is only really good around winter, with most of the tourists staying around Waikiki in the south.

Waikiki beach is a must see, even if just to say you’ve been there as the beach itself is nothing really flash. Hawaiian law states that all water between high and low tide marks is public property, which is great as it means no beaches are out of bounds but the downside of this is that the hotels in the south are built all the way to the high tide mark.

“If you just want to sit and watch the sunset, then Dukes is the place to go. Dukes is usually busy but the food and atmosphere are great.”

Well, that sorts out my next trip to Hawaii; last time I got sidetracked and ended up seeing only half of what I wanted to see and doing even less. Thank you, Byron.

PC

Warren who?

We’ve just had a letter from a Melbourne reader who asked for a weekend away suggestion for himself and his wife near Melbourne “but not the usual GOR”.

Well, Bruce, have we got a destination for you! On the recent Triumph Bonneville launch, we stayed at the Warrenmang Vineyard Resort and enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s up at Moonambel near Avoca, which means you can ride up there through the gold fields and enjoy road, scenery and even food along the way.

The resort has cottages and a big building split up into apartments there is also undercover parking for bikes here. The restaurant is excellent; we can especially recommend the breakfast. There is a little bit of gravel to get in, but it really is only a little bit and it’s smooth as. The hospitality is outstanding.

Take a look at www.warrenmang.com.au for more information, or ring (03) 5467 2233.

PT

Hats again

This is a subject that comes up pretty regularly. Here’s Duane Galle with the question readers just love to ask:

“Guten Tag Herr Bear :)

“How are things? I’ve been thinking about buying a new full-face helmet, which has got me wondering. I realise that any helmet I wear must be Australian Standards approved. From the research I have done, it is generally accepted that the USA Snell certification is equal, or superior, to the Australian Standard. As helmets are considerably cheaper purchased online from the USA, it would be great if we could legally wear them on the road here – especially with money being tight in the current economic climate.

“So, given the various free-trade arrangements between the USA and Australia, why can’t we use these helmets? Is there anyone/any way we can lobby to have the laws and standards changed to accommodate helmets that have already met either Snell or another similar standard (such as the relevant European standards)? Surely this would be of benefit to motorcyclists (cheaper helmets), better for manufacturers/retailers (people more likely to upgrade helmets more often), better for the government (potentially reduced fatalities/injuries)? Any thoughts?”

Well, Duane, Snell is actually a worry because they don’t do batch testing. Theoretically that’s fine for really reputable manufacturers, not for others. But the quality of the standard doesn’t really matter.

Unless you are a foreigner riding on a non-Australian licence, there is no way you can legally wear a helmet in Australia that does not comply with AS/NZS1698.

The process is that Standards Australia (SA) tests the helmets (or arranges to have them tested overseas) and each State legislates to make them compulsory. Can you see the problem? You’d need to get each State to agree to any changes. Is that going to happen, even with serious lobbying? Probably not. Alternatively, SA could accept overseas standards as proof of fitness. Is that going to happen, seeing that it cuts them out of the equation? I’ll leave it to you to decide. Weird but true, unfortunately.

Bottom line: talk to your local MP (we had a story about that in the last issue of ARR) but don’t hold your breath.

PT

Gap year

M. Jacinta Smith, now living in Hong Kong, has a very simple question.

“My husband and I are going to ride the Transamerica Highway next year, all the way from Ushuaia to however far north we can get in Alaska. The bikes have already been bought, one big and one little KTM Adventure. We are going to take a year to do it and make a film. Planning hasn’t been a real problem, except for one stretch. You guessed it, the Darien Gap.

“We know that people have crossed the Gap on motorcycles. There is even quite a bit of information on the internet. The trouble is that a lot of it is contradictory. A couple of websites that looked good turned out to be out of date, as well. One of them even says that their guidebook is not available because they haven’t been there for a while.

“So… what do you folks at Australian Road Rider think?”

We think you’re probably out of your minds, but hey – who are we to talk? Essentially we don’t know anything about the Darien Gap, except that both of the riders we know who have ridden the Transamerica (at different times) shipped their bikes by sea. We have hard of another who air freighted his bike.

It may not be impossible but it will be very difficult. We do hear that it’s… a bit risky, and that Colombian police aren’t even allowing gringos to try (so you’d have to tackle it from the north) and that the only bikes that might make it are Rokon two-wheel drive jobs. If being kidnapped and held for nine months or so isn’t your scene you’re probably better off going for the shipping. Sorry we can’t be any more help.

LMc

The guard changes in Mandello

Jim Duffield writes to tell us that Agostini’s, the iconic Moto Guzzi spares/rental business almost next door to the factory in Mandello had been sold [see our story]. We happen to like Alis Agostini and her Australian husband Peter a great deal and were rather saddened by the news.

“Yes it is true that Alis has finally signed the contract to sell the business,” replied Peter when we asked for details. “Alberto Agliati is a keen Guzzi enthusiast from a local family and had been waiting in the wings to buy the company for about three years.

“More information is on our website but needless to say Alberto is enthusiastic and will continue in much the same style as Alis has done for the past 30 years. Naturally with his fresh enthusiasm there are likely to be some new products and accessories in due course.

“It is intended that Agostinis should remain the international reference point for Moto Guzzi that it became after Alis’s father, Duilio, founded the company over 50 years ago.”

So that’s good news, even if the place will never be quite the same without Alis and Peter.

PT

Musings

Mick Lance usually rides up to the north coast of NSW for his holidays. This year he was wondering whether to carry on to Brisbane to take a look at the new motorcycle museum at Haigslea.

We’d say that’s a definite “yes”, Mick. In fact issue #2 of our companion publication Cruiser+Trike contains a story about the museum. Don’t miss it if you get a chance.

TH

Seat quest out west

“Dear Peter, my name is Tas Crooke [and]I own an ST1300,” writes Tas from Perth. “At the risk of diverting your nose off that grindstone for a few minutes, can I ask you a QQ?

Utilising all of your experiences on bikes (now there’s a few gigs of space worth doing something with!) could you recall or state with a degree of confidence that there IS an aftermarket seat replacement that actually DOES offer significant comfort enhancement? It’s just that it is difficult over here in the West to go to a store and actually ‘touch and feel’ a product before handing over $800 or so. It’s the same deal with internet shopping. Or perhaps a local motor trimmer can rebuild the original with leather and whatever else is needed?”

“PS: You know, I think we may have met a few years ago. I am a driver/guide in the WA tourism industry and remember talking to a couple of  blokes on European bikes I think at Wave Rock car park, near Hyden, WA. I probably crapped on about my wonderful, at the time, XJ900 Diversion. Could that have been you?”

Hi, Tas. No, that wasn’t me – I have visited Wave Rock on a bike but it was a Honda Dominator and I was by myself. To answer your question, most people find that aftermarket seats make a vast difference. After the suspension that would probably be the first improvement I would make to many Japanese, Italian or British bikes.

You’ll also find an ad in ARR for Australian Cumfy Motorcycle Seats (speaks for itself, doesn’t it) and of course there are sheepskin seat covers and the ever-faithful AirHawk. The choice is quite wide – I’m very happy with my AirHawk – but an aftermarket seat is less fuss and can look really good as well.

PT

Get Routed in Turkey

Motorcycle shippers Get Routed are planning a shipment of Aussie bikes into Izmir in Turkey in 2011.

“We will have the bikes in Izmir and unloaded ready for customs clearance at 9am on Wednesday, March 30, 2011,” said manager and bottle washer Dave Milligan.

“Two years ago we advertised a shipment to Izmir in Turkey and we only received one bike booking because we didn’t allow enough lead time for people to make plans and decisions. This time we’re allowing two years, which should be plenty for people thinking about touring Europe in 2011 on their own bikes – Maggie and I are taking our bikes this time and already have nine mates/couples/previous clients who want to join us.  We’re not running a guided tour but anyone is welcome to join us.”

The bikes will be shipped back to Australia from Felixstowe in England in July, August or September, 2011.  All up, return shipping cost will be $3185 on today’s money.

Contact Dave or Maggie on (03) 9331 0947, or dave@getrouted.com.au for more info.

LMc

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