Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday - time to put some more ks on the clock

Another windy Wellington day and the forecast is for rain early afternoon. Topped up the bike with fuel and at 10.30am went to Alan's place. The Harley was out on the street and ready to go.

We headed of into Lower Hutt to fuel the Harley and then up the highway and across Heyward's Hill to State Highway 2 with a planned stop in Otaki. This was a good day for bikes with plenty on the road. A cop had stopped a bike on the northern side of Heywards.

We stopped at a very nice cafe on the southern outskirts of Otaki. After resting up there we headed back to Waikanae and down to the river mouth just to see the sea. There were a few people there, so whitebait fishing. Then back to the highway and heading into Wellington Motorcycles. Wellington Motorcycles were having a Harley 2007 model open day so riders could experience riding a new Harley. We didn't go for a ride on any; but plenty of other people did.

Back home by 3.30pm and 411kms of the clock. Almost half way to the first service.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

No rides but got a photo

I have been busy working, then away for a long weekend and now I am back the weather is terrible. Far to wet and windy to be riding a bike. However, before heading off for the weekend I took some photos of the bike.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Third Ride

Sunday 5.00pm and the cloud has cleared, some blue sky but still a strong wind.

A good time to put a few more Ks on the bike. Headed down to Johnsonville and onto the motorway north. Took the Churton Park off ramp and then straight back onto the motorway again; just to give the bike deacceleration and acceleration. From there next off ramp was Porirua so around the roundabout and back onto the motorway heading home. The motor is now starting to run well.

Dropped off at the Tawa off ramp and stopped for a minute. Motor also stopped; it has done this a couple of times before. No worries though, that is likely to be running in tuning and can be looked at next service. Back onto the motorway and to the Newlands off ramp then up the hill and around the Newlands roundabout back down to the motorway and across it to Johnsonville and home. The bike is hard to keep at 50kph and seems to run best in 2nd at about 3000 revs.

Parked it in the shed with 135Kms on odo.

2nd ride

Saturday morning shortly after I got home Alan called. Yes why not go for a ride.

11.30am Alan turns up on his Harley Fat Boy. We head off to Johnsonville to fuel the Harley and then onto the motorway north again. Alan leads the way at a steady 95 - 100kph. There is not much traffic on the motorway so I can drop back and then work the engine up through the gears. We turn off at Plimmerton and cruise around the bays to the end of the road. Off the bikes for a stretch and plan where to next.

We head back to the highway up to Pukerua Bay and down to the beach. It is now lightly raining and while I am dry Alan has a wet seat. That small fairing on the SV has keep me and the bike totally dry. We then head back to Plimmerton for a coffee and food.

Back home by 2.30pm and 104Kms on the odo.

First ride

It is Saturday morning and not a great day. Windy and looking as if it might rain.

Off for a ride down to Johnsonville and onto the motorway and remembering the bike was being run in so loaded and unloaded the engine and up and down the gears. Left motorway at Tawa and in about 1Km turned into a shopping car park for a bit of a rest and practice at low speed turns.

Headed back to Johnsonville along the old road by the stream and railway line then back up to motorway a Churton Park. Decide to learn more on handling the bike up the road to the dump that is closed. That is when I dropped it. Was movimg off uphill turning right and down hill; shouldn't have down that as with the slope I couldn't get my foot down. So now the new bike has a couple of scratches on muffler and broken front indicator and brake lever. The brake lever end broke off at the designed break point; very clever. No doubt those two parts are expensive. Was pissed off and went home.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Got the bike

I picked up the bike and all new riding gear at 2.00pm today. 7k on the clock and 20 when I got home. It is now in the garage and looks great. No I didn't take it for a run as there is a gale force northerly and I needed to sort out the riding gear and get familiar with the bike etc.

This bike has some serious torque. Tomorrow will take it for a ride if the wind drops.

My wife said the bike is ugly; looks like a praying mantis.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Return to Motorcycling

A very good friend of mine Alan, bought a Harley. He already had a couple of bikes that will one day be restored; a Bonniville and an AJS. At the time I had a power boat that I bought new some 7 years ago and we had a bit of fun out on the Wellington harbour just cruising around and a bit of not so serious fishing.

The boat wasn't getting much use and with my daughters no longer here there was no call for using the boat for skiing etc. So the boat was sold and that freed up some cash for a motorcycle.

The decision process began at around the beginning of September 2006. Although, I had been toying with the idea since Alan bought his Harley. A Harley would cost more than I wanted to spend and I thought a sports bike would better suit my style of riding. I would still like a Harley, as a second bike and a bit later.

Being an Internet junkie, in a short period of time I collated a lot of information about bikes. The Suzuki SV650 soon rose to the top of the list as the bike I should be considering for my return to motorcycling. I wanted a new bike and the demand for good bikes meant there was little difference between new and second hand.

I found a couple of forums: kiwibiker and SV650 and joined those. A few hours were spent reading posts and any articles I could find on the Internet about bikes. Then it was down to the bike shop to look at the real thing. Early on the bike I selected was the SV650S and from then it was what should I compare it to and what do I need to know about it. A very close second choice was the 900 Hornet. Two similar but different bikes as I wasn't sure if I should get a naked or faired bike. There was also the new model GSR600 Suzuki to consider. So I made a few posts to kiwibiker and this stimulated some really useful feedback and discussion. A few of the experienced bikers suggested I should get some refresher training before buying a bike. I took that advice and that was the beginning of a fairly short process to buying a bike.

An appointment was made with Gavin of Streetwise for a one hour session on a bike. Before taking the lesson and on my third visit to Wellington Motorcycles over a couple of weeks I spied a new SV1000S in the grey and black colour scheme and at a price of $12500. This price being $500 more than the 650. I telephoned Steve at Wellington Motorcycles a couple of days later and a hold was put on this bike for me until I could take a test ride on a demonstrator SV650S they had available.

Wednesday of that week was my appointment with Gavin for a refresher session. The venue was a carpark in Newtown and following a discussion about my biking history etc I started riding a little 120cc bike around the car park. I picked this up pretty quickly with the hardest part being remembering the gear change pattern (neutral at the end). After 10 minutes Gavin suggested I was wasting my time and money and should get out on the road on a bigger bike. A couple on minutes on the mobile phone and Gavin had set up a ride on the SV650S at Wellington Motorcycles. Gavin headed off home on the 120 to pick up his 1300 Yamaha and I drove to the shop. Off course Gavin got there first as I had to find a park. Signed out the bike (7Ks on the clock) and we were off.

This ride was in one of Wellington's winder days with a gale force southerly. We headed off, me following Gavin, down to the Basin Reserve and heading for Island Bay and the coast. The torque of this bike was scary and I went into survival mode. Before I was 1 Km down the road I was wondering if this was a good idea. After about 2 Kms the palms of my hands were sore. I was wearing a loaned open face helmet and that was a problem as I wear glasses (didn't last time I rode a bike) and they were bouncing up and down with the wind.

We went around the coast in a howling gale off the sea and then back to Kilbirnie and around Evans Bay to Oriental Bay and back to the shop. My hands were really sore and I could barely hold the clutch in. I was glad to get off the bike and was most uncertain if this or any bike was for me.

This was time to reconsider a few things; was a forward riding position as on the SV650S suitable and if not what bike would I choose. I had viewed a 900 Hornet the previous week and decided that was an alternative if I went for a naked bike with a higher riding position.

A post was made to kiwibiker and about the sore hands issue. I needed to know if this was an issue that would go away or should I consider a different style of bike. Kiwibiker is a great forum and within minutes there was a response and during the next few days many more.

Saturday morning I headed to the Honda dealer to test ride a 900 Hornet. This is a great bike and after a few minutes my fears of not wanting to get back into bikes disappeared. The test ride was from Lower Hutt up the motorway and across Heywards hill to the roundabout at Pauatahanui and back. I had all but made up my mind that this bike will be the one to buy but had planned to ride a GSR600 and the SV650S again at Wellington Motorcycles. So headed off to Wellington (driving a more than half decent car - Ford XR6) and couldn't hear the motor after riding the bike.

First ride was on the GSR600. A lovely bike, very smooth through the gears and easy to ride. I took the bike through the tunnel and down to Lyall Bay followed by a cruise around the coast, back for a squirt along Cobham Drive to the roundabout and back around Evans Bay, Oriental Bay and return to the shop. At that stage I had again almost made up my mind that the Hornet was the first choice simply as it had more low rev torque. Also the Suzuki was a bit scary; around Evans Bay I got the revs up a bit and when I tweeked the throttle there was instantaneous response and the motor revs were about 8000 revs below the red line, so what would it be like at higher revs? I considered the lower revving V twin in the naked SV would suit me better than this inline 4.

Back at the shop and after a bit of discussion with Hamish about the chance of a decent price reduction on the naked SV1000 (way overpriced) I took the SV650S for another run. This run was simply so I could get another feel of the V twin. By the time I was a few minutes down the road I thought this is not too bad a bike; sure is a great motor with heaps of torque at any revs and the riding position is okay. I was feeling relaxed and had positioned myself on the bike with my knees clamping the tank and little weight on my hands. This from some advice given on kiwibiker.

I was getting more comfortable, this was a great little bike and I headed around from Lyall Bay to Owhiro Bay for the winding bits and the faster section of road leading back from Owhiro to Brooklyn. I am sure that last time I was on that road it was 100kph but it now had 70kph signs. Well let's ignore the signs I need to know how well the fairing works at a decent turn of speed; so a couple of runs were made up and down this stretch. Did I say I was exceeding the speed limit? By now I had decided that my concerns about the riding position were ill founded and the SV1000S was the bike to buy.

Back at the shop it was simply a matter of stating the obvious; I will buy the 1000 and pick it up next week.
Here is a picture of it:

The next couple of hours were spent selecting all the gear I needed and while doing that Alan turned up on his Harley. The day was finished with 3pm lunch with Alan at the cafe next door and more bike talk.

A time before the decision to return to biking

My first bike was purchased second hand while at school. It was a Francis Barnett of 200cc. This was not exactly a rocket but provided an introduction to motorcycling.

A car followed and then about five years later I bought another motorcycle. It was a Yamaha 250 two stroke twin YDS250. The Yamaha was a fun bike but needed revs, was thirsty and had a distinctive yowling sound as the revs rose under acceleration.

This bike was used on fine days for the high speed commute between Havelock North and Napier. Back then cops didn't worry about speed and would give a warning wave of acknowledgment as the Yamaha howled past at maximum revs down the Awatoto straight.

The Yamaha was changed for an Austin Healy Sprite and that was the end of my motorcycling for some ten years. Marriage followed shortly after and a more 'sensible' car.

The next bike was a new Yamaha SR250 single bought as a commuter. This was an excellent bike for around town and a great for the run to work and back except in poor weather which was often the case in New Plymouth where we lived. A few years and this bike was replaced with a car as having to dress up for the horrid New Plymouth weather took its toll on the pleasure of motorcycling.

22 years later and having moved from New Plymouth to Wellington and our two girls having grown into adulthood and left not just home but the country the call of motorcycling returned.