Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Still no new bike

Well, here we are some months later (and nearly 18 months since I started test rides), and I'm still undecided about a new moto. I still like the Monster S2R1000, but it's about to be superseded by the Monster 1100 and 1100S. Much more modern looking, and by all accounts a better bike, but I dunno. Are they me?

And Ducati's releasing some more new models - a Streetfighter, some 1198s, and then there's the new BMW F800GS/F650GS and the upcoming F800R - and what about....

I'll never decide!

Oh well, the annual bike show is this weekend, maybe I'll get closer to a decision after that.


Tony F

Sunday, 22 June 2008


I'll have to do this one later, it's nearly bed time, and I've realised I didn't blog about the other bikes I rode recently - a Moto Guzzi Griso 1200 8V, and Ducati Monster S4R, and Ducati Monster S2R1000.

In brief, the Guzzi was a bit disappointing, and surged a lot at low throttle. I preferred the 4V 1100 version, I think. The S4R was a revelation - went like a bat out of hell with the Testatretta (sp?) engine, and stopped very, very well. But it surged at low throtle as well (not as badly as the Guzzi), and it was so hard to resist being a hoon - just like the Tuono. Plus, I reckon the radiator and plumbing all looks, well, a bit naff. The S2R1000 was nice. Better clutch than the 800S2R demo, plenty of get up and go, could hoon, but didn't feel so much like I had to hoon... Braked well. I really liked it, and am considering it seriously. The small fuel tank (14l!!!) is a worry.

More bikes

Today's turn was the Triumph Thruxton.

I'd been a little worried about the weight, power and torque compared to the other bikes on my shopping list - the Thruxton was lowest on all counts of the bikes I've been considering. I was also worried about teh single disc front end - it didn't seem like enough.

I booked into Hornsby's Procycles for a 10:30 ride, and left home around 8:00 to be sure I made it. I was going to try a new route today, one I'd never been before - ending up eading through Galston Gorge. Although I printed out a map and directions, they weren't much help sitting in my pocket, and I did manage to get slightly misplaced. But only ever briefly, and I only came up to one no through road.

Anyway, it was an interesting trip, but it was hard to see where the road was going in the early morning sun in my eyes. The Gorge itself was disappointing, lots of cars, poor surface and 5 kmh hairpins! I've never seen a recommended corner speed of 5 kmh before!

I made it with about 30 mins to spare, so I poked around the shop, and had an interesting chat with the BMW salesman. I'm afraid I still like the looks of that F800S, and the new F650GS looked better in the flesh than in the pics I've seen. Felt alright on an in-store sit, as well.

But the Thruxton, get to the Thruxton!

Oh yes, where was I?

First stop was registration, then we were warned about poor road conditions, as we struggled into our fluoro orange safety vests. The conditions included that slippery goop they use to fill cracks in the road - OK in the dry, but deadly in the wet, and debris that had washed down as a result of recent rain. In fact, the goop was everywhere, but no debris was to be seen - certainly no worse than anywhere else.

Firing up the Thruxton meant I had to find the ignition. Not in the "dash" like most bikes, not down by the seat, cruiser style. I was about to call for help when I noticed the other Thruxton had something dangling from the side of the light. AHA! It immediately started and settled into a nice slow idle, with a very British thump.

Off we went, and I was impressed, bags of go down low, but then we were only dawdling along the highway, so it wasn't being asked to perform. On thr freeway, and a bit more throttle, and speeds built steadily, but there was no rush, no frenetic change of speed. Hmmm.... On the other hand, once I was in top, I didn't need to change nearly as much as I would on the Falco. It seemed to go from 60 to freeway speeds with little change of effort, just a steady climb in speed. At around the 100 kmh mark it was just surging along, and overtaking was a relaxed breeze. It didn't seem to make a difference whether I went down a gear or not.

I only gave the brakes one test, and they seemed OK, with more power from the single disc than I expected - but nothing like the S4R Monster with its Monobloc radial setup.

Back on the Old Road as a fleet of Ferraris went the other way - a lot of money tied up there. In fact, it was an expensively populated road - Ferraris, Rollers, hundreds of bikes of all descriptions, and various vintage vehicles. Beautiful countryside with water surrounded by sandstone cliffs and bush, so no wonder. Here I found the lack of power to be an issue - while I could motor along, I couldn't get past the faster bikes that were slowing me in the corners, and I wasn't confident enough on the bike to push my past through the corners.

Which brings me to the handling. The front fork was disappointing, and the shocks seemed only adequate. I didn't get into any bother, or have any moments, but I just didn't feel confident. It also felt a bit top heavy, I think, but maybe that was the skinny tyres giving a completely different feel to what I was used to.

The ergos weren't too bad, but my old war injury suffered, and I found myself resting my wrist on the bars quite a bit. Of course, the effort of muscling the big Aprilia through the Gorge and surounding back roads probably contributed.

Would I buy one? I don't think so. It did stir the soul, but not at all like the Ducatis I've ridden, or even the Guzzis. No doubt it would hot up quite well, but I couldn't be bothered with all that malarkey.

Back on the Falco for the return trip, and immediately the difference in power and acceleration was obvious. I even managed to accidentally get the front off the ground as I downshifted and roared past slow traffic - I doubt that would be a problem on the Thruxton.

And speaking of the return trip, good thing that copper went past as I was slowing for some hairpins, and not a few moments before. I might have been walking home, otherwise... =8^O

Friday, 7 March 2008


aaah, China. What can I say?

China is a land of ancient history, a land with an enormous population and labour market, a land of rapid growth, and rapidly increasing pollution.

We loved it, and look forward to the day that we can return.

We arrived during the coldest winter in 50 years, just in time for Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). Some areas had enormous problems from snow storms, with one city losing power for two weeks. Luckily for us, the worst snow was more to the south than we were travelling, and no snow fell while we were there. By crikey it was cold though - I was colder in Beijing than I've ever been in my life. Clothes that kept me warm during a Tasmanian snowfall just weren't enough!

Maybe the photos say it better.