Monday, 3 December 2007

More bikes

I'm still testing, and rode Moto Guzzi's Griso 1100, Breva 850 and Sport 1200, as well as Aprilia's Tuono, Pegaso, and SXV550 (motard) recently.

What a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

I arrived at Paull's Motorcycles (Richmond) a bit early, so spent some time yarning and reminiscing with other blokes that had also fronted early. Strangely, it appeared that almost everyone had owned a Ducati bevel SS AND a Guzzi Le Mans at some time in their past. Hmmm... At least I know *I* was telling something close to the truth (my "SS" was actually a GTS modified to SS specs, including SS motor, SS front end, SS bars, SS fairing, etc). But memories are best left as memories, I think. I sat on an old SS that Paull's are selling, and was horrified by the ergos and heavy cable operated clutch. It wasn't like that, was it, surely? 20+ years seems to have done something to my once fit body...

Anyway, I was booked in for three rides (Griso 1100, Griso 850, Aprilia Shiver) - but only one was available, so I chose some others instead. There was a Shiver on display, but it wasn't prepped for riding, being too new. Most of the bikes were modified to some extent - aftermarket exhausts or performance chips.

First up was the Griso, Guzzi's answer to Ducati's Monster. It's a big, brassy beast, looking mean and raunchy, and sounding beautiful thanks to the Lavazzi (?) muffler. I was worried about the weight (227 kg dry), but didn't notice this at all when I was riding. The bars are a bit too laid back and wide for my tastes, but that's an easy fix. I loved it. It went plenty fast enough for me, despite being easily outpaced by the Tuono, had bags of grunt down low, and was still easy to ride, fast or slow. Good brakes and shaft drive. Excellent.

Then came the Sport 1200. A bit disappointing. I didn't like the ergos nearly as much as on the Griso, and the bar position was quite poor. I'm not sure if it was a consequence of gearing or the pipes, but it didn't seem to have the same grunt or top gear flexibility as the Griso. It felt bigger than the Griso as well, despite weighing less. Brakes were excellent. Aftermarket pipes meant it sounded good.

Oh dear. after the big Guzzis, I went out on the SXV Aprilia. A brilliant hoon bike, but I needed a stepladder to reach the so called seat (I think it was some drainpipe covered in vinyl). At ~120 kmh, it developed a most disconcerting weave - backing off or speeding up was the only solution. Brakes were great, and it could be stuffed up the inside (or round the outside) of almost anything in the corners. I found it uncomfortable, hard to keep the front wheel down, and it idled way too high (3k!!). The aftermarket exhaust sounded crappy. That said, if I wanted a suburban hoon bike, this bike, or similar, would be the way to go.

Next was the Guzzi Breva 850. This bike was bog standard, and frankly, plug ugly, but it felt great to ride. I wanted the Griso more, but if I'm honest, the Breva fitted me perfectly, and had more than enough go. It didn't have the grunt of the Griso, but revved out better. If it was better looking, I'd definitely be interested.

The Aprilia Pegaso was a bit disappointing. It felt so ...soft... is probably the best description, but I didn't realise it was only a 650 single, so there was no way it would have the get up and go of the others. I absolutely hated the mini fairing screen, which set up a horrible vibration in my helmet. If I was taller or shorter it would have been fine. Other than the fairing, and softness, there was nothing wrong with the bike at all, it did everything it was asked to do, but blandly.

Aah, the Tuono. A slightly tuned version of the motor in my Falco, and this is the bike I would lose my licence on quickest, no doubt about it. I won't say how fast I went, but it was *very* fast, even before I ducked down into the airpocket created by the screen (it's not a fairing). Brakes, handling and ergos were all brilliant (despite feeling very uncomfortable the times I've sat on them in the shops). The Tuono was a very nice bike to ride, and if I could trust myself to ride it sensibly, I'd buy one tomorrow. I can't.

Back on the Griso for one last loop, and while it felt a little flat after the Tuono, it was still more than enough for me. Add this to my list for serious consideration.

Interestingly, despite mainly being "naked" bikes, I didn't feel like a windsock on any of them. I think I'll reconsider some other nakeds that have attracted me in the past.

It's all good.

Tony F

Thursday, 4 October 2007

I've gone to the dark side

...and bought a road bike... Oh the shame of it all.

In all seriousness, commuting on the roadie is much better than on the mtb, but flatting every ride or so is a real PITA. Brakes on the roadie aren't much chop after a diet of discs for years. Rim brakes? Caliper rim brakes? Yikes!

More at

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Sick and tired (and three bikes)

Bugger me, I've been crook lately. And I'm sick of it. Sick and tired.

I'm fairly sure most of my brains have dribbled out through my nose in the last two weeks - it has to run out soon, but at least I'm getting over the coughing and hoiking.

In good news, I saw an ad in the paper advertising Ducati's Hypermotard Oz launch and ride day. I was a day too late to get a ride, but thought I'd ring anyway - and I scored rides on the Sports Classic Sports 1000S, the Sports Classic (monoposto with raised clipons) and Mosnetr S2R800.

The rides were too short, and too suburban to get a real feel, I think we might have hit top gear once. But... I liked them. I liked them all. Surprisingly, the Monster with the higher flat bars, was the least comfy, my old war wound (buggered wrist) started playing up immediately. The two bikes with clipons were more comfy. I think I'll start describing the Sports Classic as the retro Monster from now on. It felt just as raunchy, more upright, just as chuckable, but had a better clutch (dry). The wet Monster clutch juddered and grabbed - it was shocking getting off the line, yet the wet clutch in the 1000S was fine.

Three different bikes, two with the same motor, and one with a smaller variation, yet quite different in personality, mainly from handlebar position. I think all three have overruled the sensible part of me that says get a BMW F800S - my ride on that, while fun, just didn't have the same grin factor, nor desire to start getting friendly with salesmen. Even ones that really didn't know their product that well - no tubes, indeed...

I'm still not sure I could cope with the lower bars of the 1000S, and although the retroMonster was comfy, I think I'd like a fairing - and that 1000S just looks so DAMNED good in red. ;^)

I'll be back for a longer ride in the not too distant future.

Tony F

Snff, sniff

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Le Tour de Farce?

I love my cycling, and even though I'm an offroad kind of rider, I thrill at the abilities of the TdF competitors, the efforts, the pain, the speeds. Why, I wouldn't mind buying a roadbike myself (and would have picked up an ebay bargain today if SWMBO had given the OK). But the TdF?

Dear me. Still no winner from 2006.

Now to 2007, and what happens? Rasmussen, the current leader, kicked out. Vinokourov and his team Astana kicked out. Both had been performing brilliantly, Vinokourov providing fans with a stunning form reversal after a bad ride (just like last year's "winner" (subject to court decisions), Landis). Other riders testing positive. Who else is to go? Will the winner be the winner this year, or will more accusations and litigation follow? It makes me wonder about previous winners as well - did they just use methods of cheating undetectable at the time?

I guess it's good news for the squeaky voiced Aussie, Cadel Evans, who 's now jumped back to second place. But... because of all the other cheats, his achievements will always have us wondering. Has he just got a better pharmacist? I hope not.

[edit] And could 80% of the competitors really suffer from asthma, requiring them to use asthma preventing... steroids... and other drugs which open their airways? Amazing how many elite sportspeople suffer from asthma. When I was a kid, the asthma suferers were the weedy ones who couldn't play much sport because they had breathing difficulties. Now they're able to compete at an elite level, and make up the majority? Hmmm... I'm not slagging off the people who genuinely have asthma -their use of mediation allows them to live much more complete lives than they could have otherwise, and being unable to breathe well was truly debilitating.

Cycling, especially road cycling seems to be rotten to the core. But should we point the finger? We've loved the performances. We demand higher speeds. We expect super human efforts day after day. We treat winners like gods. And it's not just cycling. Swimming, track, field, weightlifting, etc, etc, etc, all have shady pasts (and probably presents). What about footy (any variety)?

Elite sport is business. Big business. Just like in regular business, winners can be set up for life. If they "bend the rules" a bit - aka cheating - or lose their memory (eh Mr Bond), they can make even more money. Politicians lie and cheat for their own benefit and to retain power. Any wonder sportspeople also cheat?

I think it's human nature, and that's a sad thing.

Bugger it, I'm going for a ride.

Tony F

Monday, 16 July 2007

postscript to getting older

two posts in one day!

Caught up with a bunch of old school mates the other day. We're gradually turning 50. well, the old ones are... ;^)

Funny to see them all again, after all these years. The tall skinny bloke is now tall and umm... well, he's not skinny anymore. But his son was even taller than he was. Another tall bloke looks like he's shrunk - and I know I haven't got any taller. Most of the longhairs are rapidly balding. Those with hair look like they've all seen a ghost. Belts were generally tighter, and I swear I could hear the popping of joints.

But underneath the external changes, we're still much the same. The same jokes, the same attitudes, the same silliness. Maybe we haven't really aged at all.

Meh. Just the right amount of beer was drunk, lies were told, and reminiscences were reminisced. Beauty.

Tony F

Water restrictions

People are mad, aren't they?

Here we are, living on the driest continent on earth, having suffered through one of the most serious droughts in history. All sorts of plans to ease the crisis were floated . Dam levels were at record lows, and water restrictions have become a way of life in many areas of Australia, including cities. Some of us scoff, having grown up with water restrictions, but that's another story. Now we've had a bit of rain (yes, enough to cause floods in some spots...), and it looks like the drought might finally have broken.

Why, Warragamba's back to just over 50% full! That's about seven months worth of Sydney's water needs.

So what happens. We're demanding the end to water restrictions. A few weeks of rain, and we don't need to worry anymore. Seven months? That'll last for years! Dammit, we pay our taxes, we should be allowed to water our drives and pamper our exotic gardens, no matter how unsuited to the climate they may be. Don't you tell me to mulch or plant natives!

Sigh. Driest continent, people.

Yup, we're a queer bunch.

Tony F

Tuesday, 3 July 2007


It's not Dr Who, and my son reckons it's a bit lame, but I'm finding myself hooked. I just wish that the hero didn't look like a taller version of Tom Cruise! And I never realised how sensual learning to shoot a gun could be until that scene between Captain Jack and Gwen. For now, I'm giving it 4 stars - what about you, Margaret?

And is it just me, or are those Welsh accents sexy? ;^)

Oh yes, and gappy teeth!

Oh, alright, it's Gwen!

Tony F
ps: don't tell my wife, I'm still in trouble about Rose Piper from Dr Who. Oh well, at least Gwen is brunette.

Monday, 2 July 2007

getting older

It was my son's birthday last week, and suddenly I felt considerably older. My son is now two years older than I was when I got married, and we waited a few years before he came along. When I was that age, I used to think my Dad was getting on, and now I'm older than he was! And to make it worse, my youngest son is about to reach the age I was when I married! sigh...

Mornings see creaky joints and shuffly feet, opening jars can be an almost insurmountable problem, my hair is rapidly disappearing (even if it has lasted longer than Dad's), muscles are turning into flab, and arthritis is a fact of life. I'm even getting friendlier with my doctor, who tells me I have to give up this, cut down that, lose weight, etc, etc, before referring me off for more tests and specialist appointments.

Even worse, I remember the show that included Controversy Corner (the title of my last post)!

But I can't complain. I can still do most things I could do when I was younger, it's just that they're harder to do, and are usually accompanied by more grunting, and my muscles abuse me mightily the day after strenuous exercise. Actually, I can complain. It's just that it doesn't do me any good. ;^)

Besides, I reckon the only available alternative to growing older doesn't appeal to me at all. =8^O

Tony F

Friday, 29 June 2007

Controversy Corner

ooh, lookie, I'm going to be a bit controversial today, and discuss global warming.

Although pretty well everyone agrees that the world's climate is changing, that we're heating up, and that things will indeed be very different for our descendants within a few generations, there is still argument about whether we're responsible, or if it's part of the natural cycle.

The doomsayers point to the effects of industrialisation on our atmosphere and environment generally, the naysayers suggest that we're impertinent to think that a mere human action could change the world to this degree. The doomsayers want action to reduce emissions - to generally get our act together. The naysayers say it's going to happen anyway, so there's no need - sure, we can make changes, but the environment will still get hotter.

Who's right? Don't ask me, I'm not a scientist. ;^)

But I'll still say something. I firmly believe that humans have been polluting our environment since the year dot, and that since industrial revolution, and rapid increases in population, we've been polluting far more of it. We're a pretty grotty, lazy bunch when it comes to cleaning up.

So, it seems to me that if so called "scaremongering" reduces the amount we pollute, bring on the scaremongering! Even if global warming and climate change continues, by reducing our mess, we and our descendants can still live in a better world than we'd live in if we continued on our present course.

So, let's spend money on clean, renewable energy for a start. And memo Mr Howard... any energy source that leaves behind deadly waste for thousands or millions of years, well, it's NOT clean OR green! Especially when safe storage techniques are still under development and unproven.

And it may well be true that Australia is small fry in the world of polluters - who cares? Every reduction counts. If we can prove that renewable energy is workable, we can be world leaders. Now, wouldn't *that* be something to be proud of?

Tony F

Thursday, 28 June 2007

frustrations with pictures

This pic was sent around via email, and the princes were funking away - butt the version I saved doesn't work. Oh well.

This time I'm trying a different layout for images. just to see what happens.

this text is just filling up space

this text is just filling up space

this text is just filling up space

this text is just filling up space this text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up spacethis text is just filling up space - really!

OK, well, now I know - I chose no layout, moved my cursor to the middle of the junk text, and the picture ended up at the start of the blog. Not what I expected at all. Here's another image - where will it appear...

Well, there you go, it appeared at the start of the message - this one tried centre layout. Looks like drag and drop is the only way to get them where you want them. To get it down here I dragged and dropped, but am stuck with it being centred - unless I edit the code, but that's not exactly obvious to newbies. I recommend using the no layout version - then you can drag and drop to wherever you want.

This is my pushbike speedo after riding to work one day, showing my max speed. I have been faster (84 km/h), but this was a record for that particular hill.

Sadly, I've come to the conclusion that uploading images to Blogger is *very* clunky.

Tony F

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

a different problem

Today I've had a different problem - I've discovered it's very easy to get engrossed in other people's blogs and not doing what you're supposed to be doing. Oops!

Shhhhh -don't tell anyone!

Anyway, one thing I was wondering was if it was possible to add video to a blogger blog (to make a vlog). At a glance, it doesn't seem easy, although I suspect some code editing would provide a solution.

I can easily link to video hosted elsewhere, but I can't embed the video directly into this page.

Oh well. Tips are welcome!

edit: Aha! There's a blooger news group that has the answer - the feature's coming, and is available in a draft mode now.

edit2: bwhahahaha! It's on the main dashboard page, you goose!

Tony F

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Today I've been preparing for the next U3A class. I'm covering blogs this session, hence this newly created blog - I've started blogging before, but found I was only updating occasionally, until I became a lapsed blogger...

But I've since discovered Picasaweb, and can see some great benefits of linking photos with blogs for keeping in touch - especially across long distances. I'll keep playing, and I should end up with some useful info for the U3A crowd.

This picturecomes from my recent trip to the Northern Territory, and was taken on a Yellow waters cruise in Kakadu NP.

More photos can be seen at:

It seems I can't use direct links to the photos within Picasa. Not even from the public albums. Hmmm... and as you can see, I can't get the layout like I'd like when I link to a pic on my website. I expected the pic of Ross to end up down here, but there it was up the top of the page.
Aha! drag and drop! Still, not very obvious.
Still, I've arrived at knock-off time, with most of my hair intact. I'll probably be back tomorrow to tear a bit more out.

Tony F