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Updated: 9 hours 50 min ago

First Muslim woman to ride around world

Sat, 21/10/2017 - 6:00pm

The first Muslim woman to ride around world, Anita Yusof, says she wanted to prove to Islamophobes that Muslim women are not oppressed or discriminated against.

The 49-year-old Malaysian university lecturer and mother of two rode a Yamaha FZ150 through 40 countries in America, Europe and Asia over 370 days.

“I was given free lodging and food by kind people in most countries, and I managed to change their perception on Islam,” she says.

“Being a Muslim woman doesn’t mean that I can’t ride wherever I like.”

She says female riders are treated with “respect and admiration” in Malaysia.

“In my country, women and men were treated alike,” she says.

“What people have heard about discrimination among women are not our religion practises, it’s more specific to different ethnicities.

“I am one very good example that Muslims do not discriminate against women.”

Muslim head scarf

Anita wears her head scarf (called a buff) all the time, including under her helmet.

Read about the Sikhs who want to wear a turban instead of a helmet.

Anita says she wears it for religious reasons, but also to protect the inner layer of her helmet from sweat.

“It is very easy because we can wash it everyday.”

Riding is ‘addictive’

Anita returned home last month, saying she now plans to write a book about her travels and ride to the Himalayas.

“Riding a motorcycle is addictive, and I also want to give motivational talks to school children,” she says.

Anita says being alone on the road makes her feel closer to her Creator and roads are the “best university” on earth.

Her first ride was at the age of 15 when she took her father’s bike without his knowledge and crashed it in a drain.

She next rode in 2012 at the age of 45 and has been hooked ever since.

“You are never too old to start an adventure of your life time,” she says.

The post First Muslim woman to ride around world appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Roundup marks 2nd V-Strom group birthday

Sat, 21/10/2017 - 1:00pm

The Australian V-Strom Riders group AuStrom is celebrating its second birthday with a roundup event in motorcycle-friendly Crows Nest, South East Queensland, in March 2018.

Organiser Graham Strang says the group has more than 800 members around Australia and New Zealand and he is hoping to attract the biggest single gathering of V-Stroms in Australia yet.

Crows Nest was selected as the roundup destination in a members’ vote.

“We selected three motorcycle friendly locations in Queensland, and Crows Nest won out 49 votes to the nearest town of 25 votes,” Graham says.

Graham and Teela Strang at the first AuStrom roundup in Walcha

“The town has been sensational to us, and are going to put on a good show for us.”

Last year 40 attended the first birthday roundup in Walcha, NSW. Graham says they already have 47 riders confirmed for the Crows Nest event with 61 more saying they are planning to attend.

The Crows Nest roundup event from March 16-18, 2018, includes a Friday and Saturday dinners, and rides on tar and dirt circuits on the Saturday.

Dirty route options

Major event sponsor Suzuki Motorcycles Australia will have four demo V-Stroms available to test plus 100 gift bags. Other sponsors are Elite Motorcycles and Hip Pocket Workwear & Safety.

“We are a very organised and structured group, built around the long-term riding of the Suzuki V-Strom and its riders,” Graham says.

The group was created in March 2015 by Graham, Babs Cook, Mark Ferguson, and Peter Coote who was their inaugural member of the year.

In May 2017, he sadly passed away, and their member of the year award has been renamed the Peter Coote Memorial Award.

“AuStrom was created to make a relaxed group of people with a common interest in V-Stroms and the social aspect it brings,” Graham says.

“From starting with four members in 2015, it has been built into a thriving group of over 800 members, who ride, interact, post, advise, help and laugh with each other. 

“AuStrom group rides and events occur at various locations around Australia at all times of the year and our event calendar will keep you up to date with what is happening in your area or if you desire a destination much further afield.”

The post Roundup marks 2nd V-Strom group birthday appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Excelsior-Henderson brand for sale

Sat, 21/10/2017 - 7:00am

How would you like to buy not just a motorcycle, but the whole Excelsior-Henderson motorcycle company?

That’s what’s on offer at the annual Mecum motorcycle auction in Las Vegas in January 2018 when the intellectual property of the historic American motorcycle company goes up for sale.

The brand history goes back to the early 1900s from the marriage of historic Excelsior and Henderson brands.

Many of these old bikes fetch huge prices at auction, including a 1914 Henderson 1068cc Model C Four fetching £113,500 ($A190k) at Bonhams Stafford auction last weekend.

Production of the 1386cc V-twin Super-X models ended in 1999, but the brand still exists to sell merchandise and offer service to owners.

Excelsior-Henderson Super-X

They are now offering their intellectual property at the January 27 auction, including frame and engine designs, logos, branding, website and expired patents.

It could be a good start for an aspiring new motorcycle company or for entrepreneurs who want to revive the stalled brand.

Rich Excelsior-Henderson history

The brand’s motorcycles history starts in January 16, 1876 with the launch of the Excelsior Supply Company by George T. Robie in Chicago.

Bicycle magnate Ignatz Schwinn of Chicago bought the company, along with the Henderson Motorcycle Company of Detroit, merging the brands into Excelsior-Henderson motorcycles.

It ceased production at the height of the great depression in 1931.

The brand was revived by entrepreneur Daniel Hanlon in 1993 as Hanlon Motorcycles. It changed its name to Excelsior-Henderson in 1996.

Only a couple of thousand Super-X bikes were built before production stopped in 1999, although the company still exists online and on paper.

Auction items

Other interesting items at the Mecum motorcycle auction include a weird-looking 1980 Kawasaki SPCNS Mystery Ship (number five of 10 built), a 1970 Kawasaki H1, a 1941 Harley-Davidson WL 45, a 1950 Indian Roadmaster, a 1964 DKW Hummel 115 and a Captain America replica Haley-Davidson.

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Zero electric motorcycles claim 360km range

Fri, 20/10/2017 - 1:21pm

Zero Motorcycles continues to improve the range of its electric bikes, now claiming a maximum of 360km, up 40km from the previous models.

However, Aussies can no longer buy the bikes after Zero Motorcycles pulled the plug on imports to Australia and Asia in June, citing unfavourable exchange rates and taxes.

The world’s biggest electric motorcycle manufacturer has introduced its 2018 lineup with improved acceleration thanks to 30% more torque, faster charge times and price rises of around $US500.

One-hour charge times and greater range are only possible if you buy the ZF7.2 and ZF14.4 power packs and optional Charge Tank which cost an extra $US2295. They cost about $A4800 in Australia.

However, only one power tank has been sold in Australia over the past few years.

The increase in range to 360km is due to denser and lighter batteries that deliver up to 30% more charge.

Zero in Australia

Zero Motorcycles say they will continue to offer bikes in Australia and Asia for the police and authority fleet market.

The Californian manufacturers also claim they will “continually monitor the region for changes in economic and consumer trends that could create more positive market conditions for electric motorcycles in the future”.

There may still be some 2017 and used Zero electric motorcycles available at Australian Zero dealers.

They are: Euro Bikes, Noosaville, Queensland (07 5474 4927); Procycles St Peters, Sydney (02 9564 8000); Mototecnic, Knoxfield, Victoria (03 9763 1433); and Darwin Motorcycles (08 8948 0995).

2017 Zero motorcycles

Their 2017 fleet ( Zero S, SR, DS, DSR, FX and FXS) ranges in price from $18,000 to $25,000 on the road. You can also buy an optional $4790 Power Tank battery which extends range up to 320km.

They promise to continue owner support through distributor GBT Imports who took over in 2013 after the first importer pulled out in 2010.

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American Chopper returns to TV

Fri, 20/10/2017 - 8:13am

Arguably the most popular TV show about motorcycles, American Chopper, is returning to the Discovery Channel in May 2018.

The show that featured Paul Teutul Snr and Paul Jnr building custom choppers at Orange Country Choppers started in 2002.

It ran for 10 years with audiences peaking at 3.4 million per episode.

It was cancelled in 2010 after 223 episodes and then restarted as American Chopper: Senior Vs Junior for two years.

After a dramatic falling out between Paul Snr and Jnr and a ratings flop the show was finally terminated.

It was the Discovery Channel’s most popular series and pioneered that horrific reality TV genre “docusoap” that we can blame for the rise of the Kardashians and other gut-wrenching shows.

After the series ended, Paul Jnr started his own company, Paul Jnr Designs, and Paul Snr made a solo comeback of sorts with the TV show Orange Country Choppers.

New American Chopper series The Teutul family including Mikey

Now the feuding Teutuls are both back for the new series. There is no mention of whether younger son Mikey is also involved.

The Discovery Channel says the series will begin screening from May 2018 and feature A-list celebrities, world famous athletes and Forbes 100 businesses as clients.

It remains to be seen if the show is a success or if the world has moved on from their arcane chopper creations.

We can’t picture them tapping into the current hipster trend with man buns and waxed beards.

However, it seems OCC has been modernised a little, according to the channel’s media blurb.

“Paul Sr. has revamped Orange County Choppers – turning it into a complex with a shop, café, bowling alley, restaurant and of course, the showroom – but all that didn’t come without a hefty price tag and he is feeling the burden of a high overhead and a lack of foot traffic.

Meanwhile, Paul Jr. has also felt the sting of a rough economy – with his business built solely on high-dollar custom-builds and commissions becoming tougher to come by, Paul Jr. stresses about the long-term stability of his own shop, Paul Jr. Designs, especially now that he has his own family.”

There isn no word yet from Discovery Channel Australia about when it will screen here.

 

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Kalashnikov fires into electric motorcycles

Fri, 20/10/2017 - 6:47am

The famous maker of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle is now turning its attention to building electric motorcycles.

It’s not uncommon for weapons and motorcycles to be made in the same factory. Doing World War 1, most British motorcycle companies also made munitions. BSA started life as the Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited.

The Russian Kalashnikov conglomerate is making its electric motorcycles for police, security and armed forces. Fifty of the bikes will be used by Moscow police during next year’s World Cup.

Here’s a video of the army version.

Electric bikes are useful for stealthy policing duties because they are quiet and non-polluting and can even be used indoors.

For some years now, the US Army has been working on electric bikes for stealth combat duties and police forces around the world are now using electric motorcycles and scooters.

Kalashnikov electric bike

There are few details about the Kalashnikov bike, but they claim range of about 150km.

That’s not so great considering the new Zero models have range up to 360km. Zero Motorcycles are no longer available in Australia.

The Kalashnikov has a charging cable that fits into a pannier that also houses the battery.

Rather than direct drive from the electric motor like most electric motorcycles, it has chain drive like Brammo Empulse electric bikes, now owned by Polaris.

The instrument panel looks very military and Spartan with a bunch of old switches and an analogue speedometer with a separate LCD info screen.

Of course, the Kalashnikov bike has a gun rack on the handlebars, no doubt able to accommodate an AK-47 so the rider can quickly grab it for combat.

The bikes are made by Kalashnikov subsidiary IZH who has been making bikes since 1928 and moved the captured German DKW factory to the Urals after World War II.

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Victory Motorcycles recalls cruisers and tourers

Thu, 19/10/2017 - 5:36pm

The official recall notice was issued through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

It says the affected the Magnum (main photo), Cross Country, Cross Country Tour and Cross Roads tourers and Hardball cruiser.

When Victory ceased production in January, Victory Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand Peter Harvey assured customers and dealers that they would continue to looked after them in the “short and longer term”.

This recall demonstrates that the company continues to protect owners’ rights.

The recall notice says that if the engine misfires for a prolonged period of time, the exhaust could get hotter than normal and melt a retention clip that supports the rear brake line.

This would increase the risk of brake line damage causing the rear brakes to fail.

Owners are advised to contact their authorised Victory Dealer to make arrangements for the repairs to be completed.

To find a dealer, call 1300 721 360 or click on here for their website.

The last Victory Motorcycles recall was in 2015 over a stalling issue on various 2013-14 cruisers and tourers.

YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS ON RECALLS

Recall notices are issued by the manufacturer through a voluntary industry code under the ACCC.

Despite hundreds of recalls by various automotive manufacturers, only a handful have been mandatory. All others have been issued by the manufacturer.

While any recall is not good news for the manufacturer, it shows that they are largely diligent in fixing problems.

In Australia, recalls are issued through the federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD), Vehicle Safety Standards division (VSS), and posted by the Australian Consumer and Competition Competition Commission (ACCC).

If you believe there is an endemic problem with your bike that should be recalled, contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502.

To check whether your motorcycle has been recalled, click on these sites:

• Australia

• USA

• UK

• New Zealand

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Are hidden speed cameras a hoax?

Thu, 19/10/2017 - 11:00am

You may have seen the above image on social media with concerns that it is a covert speed camera hidden in a guardrail. However, it’s a hoax dating back to 2013.

The image is claimed to be in all sorts of places and a recent Facebook post claims it was near Maryborough.

However, Queensland Main Roads and Police both confirmed that it is a hoax.  We contacted police across Australia and none said they used them.

We believe the photo originates from Belgium and that the device is called a “Traffic-Observer Type LMS-06” guardrail LIDAR laser speed detector and camera.

However, we believe they have never been deployed outside of Europe.

In fact, we’re not even sure they exist any more.

Links to the company and the product have now disappeared off the internet.

Hidden speed cameras

However, riders have good reason to be paranoid about hidden or “covert” speed cameras.

Regulations in various states vary in the deployment of mobile speed cameras.

In Queensland, they are not permitted to be on a “downgrade of a hill”. Yet there are fixed speed cameras at the bottom of the entry slopes into Brisbane’s tollway tunnels.

Police also frequently flout that particular rule with radar traps at the bottom of hills.

So how can we motorists expect them to adhere to other regulations?

Motorists often report police hiding their speed cameras in bushes, inside unmarked cars, behind bus shelters and billboards, etc.

Motorists also often report police with hand-held Lidar guns hiding behind poles. However, police say that is to steady the instrument, rather than hiding.

The paranoia reaches new heights when we see the signs in the Adelaide hills warning of covert speed cameras. They mean hidden!

The sneaks even hide them in wheelie bins, which is a common practice in several European countries!

UK speed camera in a wheelie bin

On a Saab launch in the Adelaide hills a few years ago we motoring journalists were warned by a local reporter about wheelie bin cameras.

Unfortunately, it was garbage collection day! Needless to say it was the slowest vehicle launch drive I have ever attended.

If you think that’s sneaky, how about the Arizona town of Paradise Valley that has hidden speed cameras in fake cactus plants, according to a Fox News report!

“Cactuscam” (Photo Fox News) Legal issues

The problem with hidden cameras is they also detect motorists who have inadvertently drifted over the speed limit.

Unfortunately, challenging a speeding fine in court based on the incorrect and illegal deployment of a speed camera is often unsuccessful. It is also costly and time-consuming.

You can’t even use a radar detector to alert you to hidden speed cameras.

Radar and laser detectors (or jammers) are not permitted to be sold, owned or used anywhere in Australia except Western Australia.

In fact, they are only legal in a few USA and Canadian states, the UK, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Japan, Iceland, Israel, Phillipines, Pakistan, Romania, South Korea, Slovenia and Taiwan.

In some countries they are legal to own, but not to use! So what’s the point?

  • Where have you seen a speed camera located illegally? Leave your comments below.

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Motorcycle importing changes in 2018

Thu, 19/10/2017 - 7:00am

Importing a motorcycle for your own use will be a little easier from next year, although the exchange rate and last-minute changes to the rules could dampen your enthusiasm.

Last year the Federal Government changed the personal importing rules.

Riders will be able to import a new motorcycle or other vehicle from January 1 without having to deal with a dealer so long as the model is not already imported into Australia.

However, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) warned that the move would take out the “buyer beware” sentiment, leaving motorists exposed to “high-risk situations”.

So now last-minute potential changes to the vehicle importing legislation have been tabled, but not yet approved.

If they are, it will mean riders will not be able to import five-year-old Japanese and UK vehicles like under the New Zealand “grey imports” situation.

Also if a manufacturer has the rights for importing a particular brand/model, an individual will not be able to “parallel import” it. 

Under the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVS), the criteria for allowing single importing of a vehicle/motorcycle has been altered.

Now a vehicle must meet only one of six criteria to be eligible.

For more specific importing details, we suggest you ask an import specialist like Bruce Hartwig. Click here to send him an email.

Bruce Hartwig at Queensland Imports

Otherwise, the FCAI has produced a web page of questions and answers about the new legislation and the following list.

Summary of importing changes

(Yet to be confirmed with DIRD)

Topic

Explanation of Change

Implications/Comments

Personal imports

Not proceeding with personal imports of new vehicles

Existing personal import provisions, i.e. vehicle was purchased and owned the vehicle for a period of at least 12 months, will be retained.

Removal of Identification (compliance) Plate

The requirement to fit an Identification (compliance) plate will be removed along with the compliance plate fee of $6 per vehicle.

The government will introduce a cost for certification based on a cost recovery model. With the Australian government continuing to harmonise with UN Regulations, the administrative effort for certification (for FCAI member brands) should reduce and therefore cost should be lower. While the administrative effort and cost for concessional schemes (i.e. SEVS) should be higher.

Introduction of a “secure identification”

The government will introduce a requirement for a secure vehicle identification to provide a significant deterrent to motor vehicle theft and re-birthing.

(Note: discussions with DIRD indicate that a secure label will be needed to meet this requirement.)

The FCAI has developed a proposal for a VIN label with security requirements aligned with both the EU 19/2011 and US secure label requirements. FCAI member brands have indicated they currently meet these requirements in Australia and/or in an overseas market.

It is expected that all FCAI member brands will be able to meet the proposed VIN label requirement with the same secure label material that they currently use to comply with either EU 19/2011 (for EU delivered vehicles) and/or ADR Circular 0-3-2.

Introduction of Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV)

Introduction of an “on-line” Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV) to record each vehicle’s compliance information.

The RAV will be a publicly searchable on-line database of vehicles approved for use on Australian roads.

A fee for entry onto the RAV will be introduced.

Submission of vehicle details.

Brands will need to add all vehicles to the RAV, pay a fee and the date of entry onto the RAV will be the “compliance” date, i.e. date for application of relevant ADRs.

Potential purchasers, repairers and insurers can search a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for verification of certification information such as make, model, build date and approval type (entry pathway to the RAV). The RAV will also identify motor vehicle source, i.e. whether the motor vehicle’s entry pathway was via Type Approval (i.e. via the authorised brand) or via one of the concessional schemes, e.g. SEVS.

The fee is not known at this time. But as the Government has advised it will be based on “cost recovery”, the fee should be substantially less than the current $6 per vehicle compliance plate fee.

Brands will need to submit vehicle details for entry onto the RAV. Brands may need to introduce system changes.

SEVS Register

Criteria for entry onto the SEVS Register:

  1. Not be available in full volume
  2. Be released at least 3 months previously
  3. Meet one of the 6 criteria for:
    1. Performance vehicles
    2. Environmental performance vehicles
    3. Mobility vehicles
    4. Rare vehicles
    5. Left-hand drive vehicles
    6. Campervans and Motorhomes

Vehicles will only remain on the SEVS Register for 2 years.

The new SEVS criteria aims to more closely align with the aims of the concessional scheme, i.e. provide for specialist or enthusiast vehicles that are not delivered to the market in full volume.

  1. No change from current requirement. However, a better definition of ‘variant’ is required.
  2. Reduced from 18 months. This may make some models more attractive to SEVS.
  3. The criteria are better defined and objective than previous SEVS criteria.

To add a vehicle to the SEVS Register, an application will need to be submitted – both initially and after 2 years to keep the vehicle on the Register.

Just having a vehicle on the SEVS Register does not automatically allow for importation and delivery to the market.

RAWS

There are a range of changes to reduce regulatory administration and costs for RAWS workshops;

  1. simplify workshop registration;
  2. remove workshop vehicle number limits;
  3. allow RAWs to import certain new vehicles;
  4. reduce individual vehicle compliance and sample vehicle testing requirements;
  5. retain provisions for unrestricted import of used motorcycles;
  6. introduce vehicle-by-vehicle inspections;
  7. introduce an industry code-of-practice for left-hand-drive conversions; and
  8. introduce model reports.

While these changes should reduce the administrative burden and costs for RAWS workshops, the accompanying changes to the SEVS and introduction of independent inspections should both reduce the vehicles able to be imported and reduce “rorting” of the SEVS.

Authorised Vehicle Verifiers

Introduce Authorised Vehicle Verifiers (AVV) to provide an independent third party to provide a detailed verification of all vehicles supplied under SEVS. AVVs will verify that:

  • the vehicle complies with the model report (i.e. meets relevant ADRs);
  • all vehicle modifications required (e.g. left to right hand drive conversion) have been carried out correctly;
  • the vehicle is free from structural damage;
  • the vehicle’s identity is genuine; and
  • the vehicle’s odometer reading is valid.

The AVV is also required to add the vehicle details to the RAV (once the vehicle passes the inspection procedure).

The AVV is required to be independent of the RAWS workshop and utilise experienced and suitably skilled personnel to conduct the vehicle inspections.

New motorcycles

New motorcycles that meet the SEVS criteria will be able to be imported under SEVS

Will need to undergo the full SEVS/RAWS/AVV process.

The RAV will identify when the motorcycles have been imported under SEVS and the entity responsible for importing and certifying the motorcycle.

Used motorcycles

The current system with no restrictions on the importation of used motorcycles, where full compliance with the ADRs can be demonstrated, will continue.

The RAV will identify when the motorcycles have been imported as used motorcycles and the entity responsible for importing and certifying the motorcycle.

Used motorcycles will need to be inspected by AVV.

Vehicles over 25 years old

Introduction of a concessional scheme to allow the importation of passenger cars, light commercial vehicles (<3.5 tonne GVM) and motorcycles that are at least 25 years old.

Imported vehicles over 25 years old may need to be modified to be registered.

DIRD is to work with state/territory registration authorities to establish the appropriate requirements.

Procedure for importing a SEVS vehicle (Note: to be confirmed with DIRD)

There are a number of steps that will be required to import a SEVS vehicle and deliver it to a customer. These steps will add additional cost and time (DIRD is involved, e.g. approval of model report) that should also impact on the attractiveness of importing new models via SEVS. The steps to deliver a SEVS vehicle to the market are:

  1. To add a vehicle to the SEVS Register, the vehicle must;
    1. Not have a full volume approval;
    2. Be released somewhere in the world at least 3 months previously;
    3. Meet one of the 6 criteria (DIRD Info Sheet 5); and
    4. DIRD will assess the application, and if approved, add the vehicle to the SEVS Register.
  1. Once the vehicle is on the SEVS Register, certification approval is still necessary. This is where the model report is developed.
    1. To develop a “model report”, a certification engineer needs to submit the necessary evidence against the applicable ADRs to DIRD (see DIRD Info Sheet 6).
      1. To develop the model report, the certification engineer will need to source and import a vehicle to undertake an evaluation of which ADRs the vehicle meets and what (if any) modifications are necessary. This is necessary as the certification engineer will not have access to the OEM’s certification and test data and is expected to add a significant period of time (3-6 months) into the process.
      2. The vehicle needs to be available for DIRD to inspect as part of the assessment of the model report.
      3. Note: with elimination of the compliance plate and $6 fee, DIRD is reviewing the cost for certification and is expected to develop charge based on time. This should increase cost for approval of model report.
    2. DIRD will assess the “model report” and approve (if correct).
    3. The model report can be sold to any RAWS workshop.
  1. For each vehicle imported, DIRD will need to issue a vehicle import approval.
    1. Note: An import approval would not be granted unless the model is already on the SEVS Register (note: need to confirm).
  1. Each vehicle imported must then be modified to meet the requirements of the certification approval (i.e. the model report).
  1. Each vehicle must be inspected by an Authorised Vehicle Verifier (DIRD Info Sheet 6).
    1. The Authorised Vehicle Verifier (AVV) is to be appointed by DIRD.
    2. Info sheet 6 also outlines the criteria for an AVV, including the need to manage conflicts of interest. There is an expectation that the AVV will be independent of the RAWS workshop.
  1. Once the vehicle passes the inspection, the AVV submits the vehicle information to NEVDIS and the Register of Approved Vehicles (RAV).
    1. The vehicle can then be registered.
    2. Note: the RAV will identify that the vehicle is imported via SEVS. Any prospective buyer (and their finance and insurance companies) will be able to access this information and make the necessary decisions on the added risk.

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Kymco scooter has ‘smart’ dashboard

Wed, 18/10/2017 - 5:00pm

Facebook updates, weather reports, news and even a radar that tracks your riding mates are part of the futuristic smart instrument panel on the new Kymco AK550 maxi scooter.

But what, thee’s more on the “Noodoe” dashboard. It also greets you with your favourite photo, tracks missed calls and messages, directs you to the nearest fuel stop and can be personalised with colours and information.

It has smartphone connectivity so that it can alert you to weather warnings, the latest news, social media updates and messages via SMS or Whatsapp.

While some riders may be concerned that these displayed message are distracting, the rider can program what information they want to see and exclude what they don’t.

Still, it’s a concern for millennials obsessed with their screens.

An interesting feature is the tracker that pinpoints where you’re riding mates are. It’s like an air traffic radar screen, only in colour. They call it the “Noodle cloud” which tracks other riders on the same scooter.

Find friends

That could be a great safety device, if it isn’t too distracting or too tempting to start racing your mates!

You can also use the app to find your scooter in the carpark, or track it if someone has stolen it.

Find your scoot Kymco maxi scooter

The Taiwanese company only launched into the maxi scooter sector last year with several AK models.

Kymco Australia says the flagship AK550 maxi scooter arrives in dealerships in December at $11,990 plus on road costs in “Space Grey” with a three-year factory warranty.

Director Michael Poynton says the AK550 has a great list of premium features “without the hefty price tag”.

Other features include LED lights, USB ports, lightweight aluminium frame, low seat and plenty of underseat storage for a full-face helmet and more.

Ride and handling is claimed to be balanced and comfortable with upside-down 41mm forks and three-stage reducer technology on the rear to unweight the engine from the transmission and reduce unsprung weight.

Brakes are also impressive with twin Brembo calipers on dual 280mm floating discs up front and a single caliper on a 260mm rear disc with the light Bosch 9.1 ABS.

USD forks

It is powered by a balanced 550cc twin-cylinder, eight-valve EFI engine with 39.9kW of power and “performance” and wet power modes available on the fly.

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Five reasons to go riding in the rain

Wed, 18/10/2017 - 2:11pm

You rarely need reasons to go for a ride, but for some people it is almost impossible to get them on their bike when the rain is pelting down.

Sadly, they are missing out on a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

I used to be in the fair-weather-rider category until I paid for a non-refund training course. On the day, it poured!

It ended up being immense fun and turned around my riding skills.

I’ve since done two more riding courses in the rain by accident as well as a lot of riding in the rain by accident and on purpose, including motorcycle launches!

Today I set off on my Ducati GT1000 to give a set of Dunlop Sportmax Alpha 14 tyres a test on wet roads. (Stay tuned for the review, although I have to say they are surprisingly good for the lack of tread!)

Riding in the rain is most enjoyable when you are suitably prepared with gear.

I selected a Veldt helmet which has excellent ventilation and anti-fog visor for great visibility, a Draggin Hydro suit, Harley-Davidson Admiral gauntlet weatherproof gloves and Stylmartin Legend RS boots.

Veldt, Draggin, Harley and Stylmartin gear (Photo thanks to Keith Collett)

Consequently, I stayed, dry, comfortable and had great visibility.

Armed with wet-weather riding tips from former World Supersport champion Chris Vermeulen, I headed up the treacherous Mt Glorious!

Five reasons to ride in the rain
  1. Street cred: Let the sugar babies stay at home playing their MotoGP computer games. Get out in the rain and post on social media about it for plenty of street cred.
  2. Road to yourself: Slow-driving tourists, other riders and police tend to stay away when it’s raining, so you have the road all to yourself.

    Lonely roads

  3. No queues: if you stop at your favourite cafe for coffee or lunch, there is no queue, the wait for a coffee is shorter and the quality of your flat white is better because the staff are not in a hurry.
  4. Forced education: Slippery conditions force you to slow down, ride smoothly and concentrate more, which is like forced training. It makes you a better rider in the dry.
  5. Heightened senses: One of the things we love about riding is the exposure to the elements; the temperature and the smells. In the wet, it is a far more visceral feeling which makes it a lot more fun.
Wet issues

There is one major problem with wet-weather riding; your bike will need a damned good clean when you’re finished, especially that chrome!

Check out our top 10 tips for cleaning your motorbike.

The post Five reasons to go riding in the rain appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Monster 821 first of 2018 Ducatis

Wed, 18/10/2017 - 8:00am

A slightly upgraded Ducati Monster 821 is the first of five new 2018 models, including the new V4 Desmosedici, to be unveiled next month.

The other four will be unveiled live on Sunday, November 5 at 9pm (November 6, 6am AEDT) on the official Ducati website.

While the first production four-cylinder motorcycle is much anticipated, the other models may not be so exciting if they are as incremental as the upgrades to the Monster 821.

2018 Monster 821

It gets a new TFT colour LCD dash with gear position and fuel indicators, a new muffler like on the Monster 1200R and new LED headlights.

New options are the up/down Ducati quickshifter and Ducati’s Multimedia System.

Power output from the liquid-cooled twin cylinder Testastretta remains the same, but to comply with the new Euro4 emissions, torque is down 1Nm to 85Nm.

The Monster 821 has had a slight makeover to match the larger Monsters and to pay respect on the 25th anniversary of the original Monster 900, launched at the Cologne Show in October 1992.

It comes with adjustable Bosch ABS and traction control and power modes.

There different riding modes adjust the ABS, DTC and Power Modes.

Brakes are 320mm twin discs and M4-32 monobloc radial callipers from Brembo and suspension includes 43mm forks with an adjustable rear shock.

Ducati Australia has not yet revealed pricing or arrival time, but it will be available in a choice of historic yellow, red and matte black.

The post Monster 821 first of 2018 Ducatis appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

YouTube videos explain helmet issues

Wed, 18/10/2017 - 7:00am

Three YouTube videos have been launched today to help riders understand the rules and regulations, correct fitting and crash-protection purpose of helmets.

The videos were made by the Motorcycle Council of NSW with funding from Transport for NSW.

Presenter is MCC of NSW helmet expert Guy Stanford.

He says the videos clarify some issues and move discussions away from “stupid laws” and on to a proper discussion about helmets.

The three YouTube videos are:

• WHICH helmet do I wear in Australia?

• HOW do I fit a helmet?

• WHAT can a helmet do for me?

“Basic stuff to provide a key into the subject for questions,” Guy says.

One of the key recommendations is never buy a helmet over the internet.

It could be a fake, may not be correctly certified and may not fit.

“Never buy a helmet you haven’t had on your head,” Guy says.

“Many newcomers to motorcycling (and old hands) have absolutely no idea about why a helmet is useful, other than that you need one or you get a ticket,” Guy says.

“So the videos range across the subject from a user’s perspective, to prompt questions and inform on the basics.

Guy and his Vozz helmet

“Hopefully, they’ll raise questions about helmets in the mind that can be readily answered and understood, at least in the general sense.

“There is much we had to leave out to keep to the three-minute limits on a short-attention-span YouTube video.”

The YouTube videos are being officially launched in Sydney today by the NSW Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey.

Read 10 things you need to know about helmet laws

Guy has also been researching the vagaries of the helmet laws across the nation for several years.

He helped the Australian Motorcycle Council put together their submission to the National Transport Commission for the harmonisation of road rules, including helmet laws.

Read about the AMC submission here.

The post YouTube videos explain helmet issues appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

‘Idiots’ jump Ducati ST4S into dam

Tue, 17/10/2017 - 4:00pm

Does this video of “idiots” jumping a beautiful Ducati ST4S int a dam just make you laugh or cry over the destruction of a beautiful bike?

The YouTube video, posted by video blogger (vlogger) Roman Atwood has already attracted 1.6million views in just a couple of days.

The American does some other crazy videos and has a following of more than 13 million subscribers.

In this video, he gets a friend, “Country”, who has never ridden a bike before to jump the Ducati into their farm dam.

The 15-minute, 55-second video starts with domestic washing duties and carries on with a lot of superfluous nonsense for five minutes before the funniest part.

That’s were “Country” attempts to ride the bike, stalling it multiple times before gingerly riding around the paddock.

We can’t be too tough on him … after all, it is a Ducati clutch!

You can then skip ahead to the 10-minute mark where he does the jump.

It’s not very spectacular and many Ducatisti will simply cry at the wrecking of this beautiful bike.

Then skip ahead to the 12-minute mark to see the bike dragged out of the dam.

Surprisingly for an Italian bike, the electronics are still working with the flooded headlights still on!

What a waste of a motorcycle.

Ok, we called them “idiots”, but who are the real idiots here? Us for watching or them for making the video?

They will probably make a mint out of the video!

Let’s just hope they use the proceeds to restore the ST4S.

Ducati ST4S sports tourer

For those who care, the Ducati ST4S sports tourer is powered by a 996cc L-twin engine with Ohlins rear shock and Showa forks.

It was made from 1997 to 2007 and last cost about $22500 in Australia.

You can now pick up a second-hand model for under $10,000. This particular bike might be a lot cheaper!

You could buy one, jump it into a lake, make a lot of money and then restore it.

 

The post ‘Idiots’ jump Ducati ST4S into dam appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Invite to Kawasaki Z900RS unveiling

Tue, 17/10/2017 - 1:00pm

Kawasaki Motors Australia will host an exclusive Z900RS unveiling for Kawasaki Team Green Australia (KTGA) members in November.

The Sydney event comes just days after the world debut at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 25.

To register your interest, send an email to Marketing Coordinator Milo Dokmanovic.

Aussie unveiling

The Australian unveiling is open to KTGA members and the media only, but the public will be able to see the bike at the Sydney Motorcycle Show on November 24-26.

The Z900RS is expected to be a tribute to the famed Kawasaki Z1, featured in the cult 1974 Aussie bikie movie, Stone. 

No details are available yet, but the Japanese company released an official video recently.

It has glimpses of the new bike based on the Z900, but with some modern touches including an LED headlight and upside-down forks.

At the end of the video they announce that the bike will be unveiled on October 25 at the Tokyo Motor Show.

There is a quick flash of the original ‘70s Z1 in early in the video, but we only get to see short and obscured glimpses of the new bike.

However, there are a few things we can see.

The trademarked RS stands for “retro sports”, so like the Z1, it has dual instrument pods, high and wide handlebars, cable clutch, “insect-antenna” mirrors and a circular headlight.

However, unlike the Z1, it has a short front fender, LED indicators and we think we can see a second disc in one far-off shot at a remote service station.

Also, don’t expect the trademark Z1 header pipes, single disc or bench seat.

It’s expected to be based on the current Z900, so there would have to be an awful lot of frame and major styling changes to come anywhere near the original and best!

Kawasaki Z900

The Z900RS would also be powered by the Z900’s liquid-cooled 948cc engine (73.4mm bore and 56mm stroke) with 91.2kW of power and 98Nm of torque.

There has also been talk of the retro W800 being killed off by the Euro 4 standards and replaced by a water-cooled W900. Perhaps the Z900RS will be the replacement.

The post Invite to Kawasaki Z900RS unveiling appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Can you wear a modular helmet open?

Tue, 17/10/2017 - 7:00am

Motorcycle police often ride around with the chin bar on their modular or flip-up helmets in the up position, but is it safe or legal?

It makes sense that a modular helmet worn open is not as safe as when it is worn as a full-face helmet.

In fact, the Hurt Report found that the most common area of impact is the chin at 19.4%.

Icon Airframe Statistic motorcycle helmet shows impact areas by percentage

Most modular helmet manufacturers recommend to users that they do not ride with the chin bar up.

Modular helmets certified

However, some have been able to have their modular helmets certified for use in the up position.

Australian Motorcycle Council helmet law expert Guy Stanford says helmets such as the Shark Evo are designed to be worn open.

That’s because The chin bar goes all the way over to the back of the helmet where it locks into position.

SharkEvo modelar helmet

In that position it does not pose an aerodynamic impediment. Nor can it accidentally close and obstruct the rider’s view.

Open modular ‘not illegal’

However, neither Guy nor long-time helmet law campaigner Wayne Carruthers believe it is illegal to ride with the chin bar up.

There is no specific mention of chin bars in the Australia Road Rules.

However, it could be considered not being correctly fastened. Although that wording specifically refers only to a “chin strap”.

“No rules have really caught up with the Shark Evo type helmets designed to be ridden open or closed,” Wayne says.

“I doubt it would be feasible or appropriate to even try.”

Police modular helmets

As for police wearing helmets in the up position when riding, they believe it can be advantageous on occasions.

Besides, if there is an interpretation that it is illegal, they would not necessarily be bound by the road rules.

Police may be exempt from the road rules when responding to priority one or two jobs. For example, police wear helmet cameras despite them being considered illegal in some states

However, nether Wayne nor Guy have ever heard of anyone being fined for having the chin bar up.

Some riders understandably ride around city streets with the chin bar open on hot days.

However, few ride the open highways with the chin bar up. The wind drag is simply too tiring on the neck muscles.

The post Can you wear a modular helmet open? appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

First home motorcycle simulator coming

Mon, 16/10/2017 - 5:00pm

Motorcycle simulators are becoming more real and cheaper with one Spanish company now promising to deliver an affordable simulator for your home so you can still race on a rainy day!

Motorcycle simulators began with amusement arcade rides and a video screen in front that reacted to the way you leaned, braked and accelerated on the “motorcycle” attached to a pivoting mount.

More expensive and sophisticated simulators are now being used my manufacturers to help develop their new models.

Recently British software company rFpro signed an agreement with an unnamed motorcycle manufacturer to supply the software to evaluate and develop chassis configurations quicker and cheaper.

Dutch simulator company Cruden uses a virtual reality head-mounted display and sells their expensive unit road safety organisations, universities and race teams.

Cruden motorcycle simulator

And one Californian BMW dealer is using a specially mounted motorcycle and virtual reality goggles. It allows non-riders to take a bike for a spin – even a wheelie – before buying or getting their licence.

BMW dealership offers virtual reality test rides

Now LeanGP of Valencia, Spain, is about to release an affordable motorcycle simulator for the home so you can pretend to be your favourite MotoGP star or extreme sports stunt rider.

LeanGP co-founder Adria Saz Marti says the simulator has plug-and-play capability so it is ready to play right out of the box and will be fully compatible with Playstation, Xbox and PC.

There will also be the ability for riders to race against each other over the internet.

Adria says customers will also be able to customise their simulator to their needs.

They also promise to “extend realism” with “innovative accessories”, but there is no further explanation.

However, they do say the system has return force for lateral tilt, vibration etc, which sounds like a real counter-steering experience.

There is also no word yet on price or delivery dates, but we believe an announcement is imminent.

The post First home motorcycle simulator coming appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Kawasaki adds supercharged sports tourer

Mon, 16/10/2017 - 1:00pm

Kawasaki has hinted at a sports tourer version of its supercharged H2 with this 30-second video called “Supercharge Your Journey”.

It doesn’t show a motorcycle, but it is expected that the balanced supercharger technology from the H2 and H2R will be included in a more touring-oriented motorcycle.

The supercharger could be used in a larger or smaller engine than the 998cc four-cylinder motor in the H2.

H2

We would love to see Kawasaki add a supercharger to the ageing Ninja ZX-14R to blow away the Suzuki Hayabusa which could also get forced induction at some stage.

But it is more likely to be added to a smaller capacity engine to ensure next-level Euro5 emissions compliance to future-proof the bike.

A Japanese magazine has published this artist’s impression of what a supercharged Kawasaki sports tourer could look like.

Kawasaki is playing its cards close to its chest, including the name. Hopefully it’s something more catchy than H2 Tourer or H2 GT.

While most Japanese companies unveil new models at the Tokyo Motor Sow in October, Kawasaki is holding off until the EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan in November.

The European launch could indicate that the bike will be a bigger capacity engine for charging down the high-speed autobahns and autostrada of Europe.

The post Kawasaki adds supercharged sports tourer appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Claim Mate ‘smooths insurance woes’

Mon, 16/10/2017 - 7:00am

Have you ever had trouble making your claim with an insurance company after a motorcycle crash?

British company Claim Mate is coming to the rescue with service that “holds your hand” through the whole process, dealing with paperwork, legal issues and ensuring proper repairs.

CEO Sam White says the service has been offered for 18 years in the UK and they plan to offer it in Australia in the fourth quarter after two years of local market research.

The service could be offered at a “nominal fee” of about $25 a year or insurance companies could absorb it into their premiums as an added incentive as is the case in the UK.

“In the early days we did get rejected by the industry, but ultimately they realised it was better to work with us rather than against us,” she says.

“We are happy to work with industry or just with the public.”

Insurer ‘integrity’

You could simply insure with a reputable company in the first place, but it is always difficult to know the integrity of an insurer until it is too late.

We have heard some horror stories of insurance companies confusing claimants with extra paper work, legal threats, small print quibbles and inferior repairs.

Sam says Claim Mate will handle all those issues and ensure the claimant is happy.

Sam White of Claim Mate

“We can’t afford to have unhappy customers,” she says.

“We buy takeaway food because we don’t want to cook. Claim Mate is a bit like that.

“People prefer to have someone in a better position than them working with the insurance companies.”

Contact Claim Mate

She says if a client is involved in a motorcycle crash, instead of phoning their insurer, they contact Claim Mate.

“We hold their hand,” she says.

“We fill out the claim forms, manage the process and sometimes we organise replacement vehicles and help them understand the legal process.

“We’re like a well-informed friend that has been through the process and can help and advise if you haven’t been through it in the past.”

Sam says they manage the process more efficiently than the insurer and can reduce the costs of the claim which keeps a lid on premiums.

“It’s not just beneficial to the public, but also to the insurance industry. By managing the whole situation you can do things more efficiently.”

Claim Mate will also speed up the process, Sam says.

“In the past people have had to wait far too long to get back on the road and both sides (the insurer and the insured) have suffered because of inflated third-party costs, legal costs and replacement vehicle hire.

“Claim Mate will shake all of this up with clear, ethical and economical practises established from years of experience in the UK.”

  • This article is offered as consumer advice, only. No payment has been received for this article. 
  • Note that there are other similar services available. Please check all the fine print before entering into any insurance or legal agreement.
  • Do you have a “horror story” about dealing with an insurance claim? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

The post Claim Mate ‘smooths insurance woes’ appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Hipster scrambler boots cost $7k

Sun, 15/10/2017 - 5:00pm

Australian boot maker R.M.Williams has joined forces with Parisian bike builder Blitz Motorcycles to make hipster biker scrambler boots costing more than $7000.

It’s hipster biker fashion gone mad!

Here’s the hipster video to match.

The men’s and women’s scrambler boots were launched at the exclusive Harrods department store in trendy Knightsbridge, London, together with a scrambler version of a Kawasaki W650 by Blitz Motorcycles.

Their media spin says the bike is a homage to mid-1900s Aussie drovers who shod their British parallel twin bikes with knobby tyres to herd sheep!

The hipster crew from Blitz Motorcycles Scrambler boots

Meanwhile, R.M.Williams has recreated two versions of their original Motorcycle Boot introduced in 1993.

The Heritage Biker Boots cost $7095 and come in hand-selected Grade 1 crocodile skins or black New Zealand cowhide for $845.

Their spin release says the boots are “inspired by the Engineer’s boots worn by post-war stockman and drovers when the use of scrambler motorcycles became commonplace on stations throughout Australia”.

However, those drover boots wouldn’t have cost almost five times the average weekly wage!

Mind you, the $845 black boots are pretty reasonable for boots that could be expected to last a life-time, like any R.M. Williams boots!

They have heavy-duty oil and acid resistant rubber treaded soles for grip and adjustment straps across the instep and tops.

The company claims there are 85 hand-held processes involved in the making of each boot which are made to order, not held in stock.

Since the scrambler boots are made to order, they cannot be returned or exchanged.

Blitz scrambler

The bike also has a brown crocodile saddle, handlebar grips and tank straps handcrafted at the R.M.Williams workshop in Adelaide.

The front plate has RMW’s initials and the race classification plate is numbered 32, the date R.M.Williams was founded.

  • Click here to read about whether hipsters are good for motorcycling!
  • What do you think of these scrambler boots? Is it hipster fashion gone mad? Leave your comments below.

The post Hipster scrambler boots cost $7k appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

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