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Updated: 29 min 55 sec ago

RIP MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden

33 min 56 sec ago

MotoGP champion and World Superbike racer Nicky Hayden has died overnight after being struck by a car while cycling in Italy last week.

The 35-year-old American, known as the Kentucky Kid, was noted for ending Valentino Rossi’s five-year MotoGP dominance in 2006.

Nicky was eight points adrift of Vale going into the final race when Rossi crashed and finished in 13th, while Nicky finished third and won the title by five points.

The champion rider had moved to WSBK with Red Bull Honda.

Nicky’s brother, Tommy, issued this statement:

“On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancée Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support – it has been a great comfort to us all knowing that Nicky has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way.

“Although this is obviously a sad time, we would like everyone to remember Nicky at his happiest – riding a motorcycle. He dreamed as a kid of being a pro rider and not only achieved that but also managed to reach the pinnacle of his chosen sport in becoming World Champion. We are all so proud of that.

“Apart from these ‘public’ memories, we will also have many great and happy memories of Nicky at home in Kentucky, in the heart of the family. We will all miss him terribly.

“It is also important for us to thank all the hospital staff for their incredible support – they have been very kind. With the further support of the authorities in the coming days we hope to have Nicky home soon.”

Italian police are now inspecting CCTV video of the crash taken from a nearby resident’s surveillance system.

Nicky was knocked off his road bike by a Peugeot 207CC last Wednesday.

The incident reminds us that cyclists are as vulnerable on the road as motorcycle riders.

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Motorcycle simulators get real

1 hour 29 min ago

Motorcycle simulators are becoming more realistic, helping to train racers, develop motorcycles, teach riders and even sell motorcycles to customers who have not yet got a licence.

The latest Dutch simulator from Cruden sounds like the most realistic we have seen yet by adding a visual reality head-mounted display so that the display responds to which direction the rider is looking and accounting for realistic counter-steering input.

Unlike some of the simplistic motorcycle computer games, the Dutch simulator manufacturer has created a very complex system that is as close to reality as you can get without riding.

We asked how much Cruden B306-HMD motorcycle simulators costs and who there customers are, but the company says they have not yet sorted a price.

They say it incorporates a “6-DOF motion system in hexapod configuration, depth-map sensors for rider body tracking, an extra stiff steering actuator and a Head Mounted Display (HMD) for visualisation”. 

Whateve that is! It all sounds very technical.

Cruden’s CEO, Maarten van Donselaar, explains: “In developing the Cruden motorcycle simulator, it has been necessary to create more complex hardware and software than that needed for a car simulator.

“We have had to address riders’ force-related bike control inputs as opposed to drivers’ steering angle inputs as well as develop mechanisms that manage counter-steering, body-shift and widely varying riding styles and the requirement for a very large field of view, both horizontally and vertically.

“Our system with depth-map sensors continuously detects exactly how the rider is positioned on the bike and uses this information to alter vehicle behaviour accordingly. To complement this, a very stiff steering actuator allows for realistic counter-steering capabilities.

Cruden motorcycle simulator

“We also decided to equip our B306-HMD motorcycle simulator with a Head Mounted Display (HMD), to offer a virtually unlimited field of view. An unprecedented level of immersion is aided by highly accurate graphics and a perfect integration of the HMD into Cruden’s Panthera simulation software. This integration sees the HMD respond to the rider’s head movements, not to those of the motion platform.” 

The B306-HMD simulator is intended to be used by scientists researching how to make motorcycling safer on public roads, which requires a better understanding of variances in individual rider technique and the interaction of the rider with the environment.

Simulators are great for rider training as the rider can make a mistake without paying the cost of crashing and injuring themselves!

Cruden says its simulator can be used in high-level rider training, racing simulations and fine-tuning vehicle dynamics.

So it will probably be bought by race teams, motorcycle manufacturers and the very rich.

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Internal combustion engines not dead yet

Mon, 22/05/2017 - 4:00pm

Despite the coming era of electric motorcycles, there is still plenty of life left in the internal combustion engine.

KTM has just released two enduro bikes with direct-injection two-stroke engines, two Dutch designers have built a wooden bike (pictured top) that runs on algae oil and a South American has invented a bike that runs 500km on one litre of water.

Ricardo Azevedo’s bike runs on water

The KTM two-stroke engine eliminates the need to pre-mix fuel or change the jetting for different environments.

An Australian two-stroke invention (Crankcase Independent Two-Stroke) also uses direct injection, but has a by-pass valve that replaces the throttle and provides progressive cylinder deactivation ensuring minimised pumping losses.

Meanwhile, Honda recently registered patents for direct-injection two-stroke engines.

The Dutch wooden motorcycle runs on algae oil grown by scientist Peter Mooij as bio fuel.

Designer Titsert Mans thought it appropriate to put it in a bike made of sustainable materials such as wood.

They have written a book, The Thick Algae, to explain their principles.

Sao Paulo inventor Ricardo Azevedo says his T Power H20 bike can even run on polluted water.

It uses a car battery and the water to generate electricity and separate hydrogen from the water molecules. This results in internal engine combustion which powers the bike.

However, don’t hold your breath waiting for some of these technologies to come to your bike.

Ricardo’s bike was revealed back in 2015 and no manufacturer has yet taken up the challenge of introducing it to a production bike.

But change is surely coming and the internal-combustion-engine motorcycle is not dead yet!

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Wauchope launches Motorcycle Street Festival

Mon, 22/05/2017 - 12:00pm

Riders are invited to fill the main street of the Motorcycle Friendly Town of Wauchope this Friday for a Street Festival, as part of the 2017 Ulysses Club AGM.

However, local rider Ken Healey says the Street Festival is not restricted to Ulysses members, but all riders of all bikes.

“We are looking for bikes to fill Hastings Street, Wauchope,” he says. “All bikes should be in place before 4pm.”

The Street Festival will feature bikes, food, live music by Blake O’Conner and a Show and Shine.

Wauchope, on the famed Oxley Highway, became a Motorcycle Friendly Town in November 2016 in preparation for the arrival of hundreds of riders from around the country for the AGM week from today. (May 22 – 28)

The main site is at the Wauchope Showground and typically about 40% of members camp on site, while others will stay in RVs and motorhomes, or in accommodation at either Wauchope or Port Macquarie.

Motorcycle manufacturers and motorcycle parts and accessories traders will set up displays with demo rides throughout the week.

Thursday is Open Day, and the Road Safety Committee will hold its annual Road Safety Forum on site.

Friday is the Extended Natcom, a national committee meeting that is also open to two representatives from each Branch Committee. That evening there will be the Motorcycle Street Party held by the Council.

The Grand Parade will be held on Saturday morning in Port Macquarie, followed by a Civic Welcome and the AGM.

National Vice President Jennifer Woods says incumbent President Helena Gritton has decided to step down.

“She really brought the club back to stability with her gracious manner and attention to detail to business matters,” she says.

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How often should you change your oil?

Mon, 22/05/2017 - 6:00am

Motorcycle manufacturers are extending service intervals in a bid to woo customers looking for cheaper maintenance, but should you change your oil more frequently?

Some service intervals are now as high as 15,000km. But does your motorcycle engine oil really last that long?

Meticulous owners still change their oils more regularly than required in the owner’s manual. That’s fine. It does no harm to change the oil more regularly than prescribed.

However, prolonging service intervals can not only void the warranty but do long-term damage to your bike’s engine that could lead to more costly repairs than the money saved in skipping oil changes.

Also, be aware that servicing is more than just changing the engine oil. It involves a host of other checks that make your bike are to ride.

Expert advice Steve Spalding

We asked RACQ technical officer and Suzuki Bandit fan Steve Spalding for his views on oil changes and long service intervals.

“If manufacturers can design the right oil, provide good filtration systems and control engine temperature, then longer oil life is possible – this helps lower servicing costs for the rider,” Steve says.

But longer service intervals doesn’t always mean your bike will be cheaper to maintain, he warns.

“Matching engine and oil design is very much a complementary challenge for manufacturers and this is why some high-spec oils are now relatively expensive compared with the wide range of basic oils also available. 

“The flip side of this is those who choose to push out the servicing periods that ultimately reduces the bike’s engine life, or buy cheaper low-quality oils and filters that don’t protect the engine properly.

“I’ve seen car engines fail at relatively early stages of their life because owners have delayed servicing beyond the already extended oil change periods.”

Types of oil

So what affects oil life and what type of oil should we use?

“Oil life is largely affected by degradation from heat and combustion deposits and that’s why synthetic oils will generally hold up better in high temperature situations found in performance engines,” he says.

Read here for more information on oil types.

“The oil provides a film between moving parts to reduce abrasion and wear. It also helps control engine temperature so there are plenty of good reasons to firstly use a good quality oil but also to change it regularly.”

You should consider changing the oil more frequently if you operate your motorcycle in harsh climates.

Another important aspect is to use the right oil.

“Choosing the correct oil specification is essential and that’s why most handbooks clearly show the oil type required and some manufacturers will only approve or recommend a specific oil type,” he says.

Change oil filter

Steve says every oil change should also include changing the oil filter. 

“If debris is not adequately filtered out, it circulates the engine causing higher levels of internal wear.”

He says it is “false economy” to not change the filter.

Read here for more information on oil filters.

Mileage versus time

But what if we don’t ride our motorcycle very often?

“Mileage is just one criteria for setting oil change frequency,” Steve says.

“If a bike is only used infrequently then time becomes the trigger point for oil changes. That’s why manufacturers often set a limit of 10,000km or 12 months (or whatever time and distance interval they believe is necessary).

If you do your own oil changes, Steve also advises to properly dispose of the waste oil.

“Local councils will probably have waste oil collection for recycling purposes,” he says.

The post How often should you change your oil? appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Buyers lining up for Ducati company

Sun, 21/05/2017 - 4:00pm

Private equity firms, known for stripping assets, and Indian motorcycle manufacturers are interested buyers for Ducati, according to respected economic source Bloomberg.

In April, Volkswagen was reported to be looking for buyers for Ducati to help pay off its multi-billion-dollar costs of the 2015 emissions scandal.

This month, the Times of India reported that Ducati was seeking a buyout from Royal Enfield owner Eicher Motors.

Now, it appears the market is responding to VW and Ducati interest in selling.

The buyers lining up include European and Asian private equity firms such as Permira and CVC Capital Partners and Indian motorcycle manufacturers Eicher and Hero MotoCorp.

Representatives for Volkswagen’s Audi unit, Permira, CVC, Hero and Eicher declined to comment.

However, it is cause for concern among Ducatisti.

MBW considers a Ducati buy!

Private equity firms are now for stripping assets, sacking staff and streamlining production techniques such as combining with another manufacturer or moving to another factory with cheaper labour and more efficiencies.

CVC were the venture capitalists that bought Nine from James Packer and proceeded to do their shirts on the deal, selling ACP to cover the massive debt they ran up to do the deal.

The Indian motorcycle manufacturers considered to be buyers for Ducati are the two biggest motorcycle makers in the world’s largest motorcycle market.

There is no doubt that they would have the funds necessary to keep Ducati afloat, as well as continue financing its indulgent racing program and its research and development program.

Both companies would be keen on accessing Ducati’s electronics and large-capacity engine technologies for their own production.

However, of concern is that neither company is lauded for their quality control.

In fact, Royal Enfield has recently experienced a controversial launch of their first adventure bike, the Himalayan, with several problems surfacing.

One Indian engineer is even suing the company for 40 identified faults in his bike.

VW’s Audi division bought Ducati for $US1.12 billion in 2012, including $261 million in debt. Ducati is now estimated to be making $109m a year and is estimated to be on the market for $1-$1.6 billion.

VW needs the money to finance billions of dollars in payouts over its 2015 emissions scandal.

The Germany car manufacturer has already agreed to pay $15 billion to US authorities and the owners of about 500,000 affected vehicles.

It has also laid off 3000 workers to save money, despite revenue last year of $217.27b which was an increase of 1.86%.

Bloomberg reports that VW is working with Evercore Partners Inc. to advise on strategic options which include keeping Ducati.

The post Buyers lining up for Ducati company appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Triumph plans Speedmaster return

Sun, 21/05/2017 - 6:00am

As expected, Triumph will produce cruisers powered by its new water-cooled engines, as these spy photos show a Speedmaster or America being tested in Spain.

Triumph has already created 10 models out of the new platform and two engines with the last being the 1200cc Bobber (read our review here).

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

The single-seater Bobber has been so successful, Avon tyre company has had to step up production to keep up supply of the special tyre for the bike.

Even though it was a clever product, it did have many wondering why Triumph would produce a solo-seat cruiser and not a dual-seat cruiser.

So it was inevitable that Triumph would not only create cafe racers and scramblers out of its new platform, but eventually a range of cruisers.

We’re not sure whether they will be called America and Speedmaster again, but we do know that they are close to production.

Interestingly, they have fettled the test bike with ape hanger bars, wire wheels, two-piece seat, engine bars with radical highway pegs, twin discs and a sissy bar with rear rack.

MCN photo of the Triumph Speedmaster being tested in Spain

We’re not sure how many of these will be on the final models, but it shows they are still working on combinations.

The current Speedmaster and America have single discs, while the Speedy has a single bench seat and the America has split seats.

We’re not sure what the ugly object is mounted on the tank, but let’s hope it is a temporary instrument to monitor some aspect of performance for testing only.

This test model has the same exhaust configuration as the 1200cc Bobber and seems to be fitted with the 1200cc engine, but there could also be 900cc variants as well.

Triumph still has the 2.3-litre Rocket III and 1700cc Thunderbird cruisers, so it is not as if they are ignoring the popular cruiser sector.

And we would be circumspect about the success of “midweight” 900 and 1200cc cruisers if it were not for the success of the new Bobber.

In fact, it seems a smart move for Triumph to test the waters first with the Bobber before releasing a Speedmaster and/or America cruiser.

The post Triumph plans Speedmaster return appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Aston rain suit claims 100% waterproof

Sat, 20/05/2017 - 4:00pm

The best motorcycle rain suit is one that is not only waterproof, but also easy to put on and take off at the side of the road without having to remove your boots.

One-piece rain suits can often be the most most waterproof, but they can be a nuisance to put on and take off. Two-piece suits are much more versatile and easier to use, but not always 100% waterproof.

While we haven’t tested the new Nelson-Rigg two-piece Aston rain suit, it looks like pretty good and they guarantee it is 100% waterproof.

It is made by American rainwear manufacturer, Nelson-Rigg, and is distributed in Australia by Link International at $139.95.

Our Aldi rain suit cost about half that price and does a perfectly good job, but there are also more expensive suits on the market that don’t have as many features as this.

While Nelson-Rigg claim it is 100% waterproof, we are skeptical. There is always somewhere that water will sneak in.

To ensure a two-piece suit is waterproof, the jacket needs to sit much further down than the top of the pants with a waist belt adjuster, like this one, to make a good seal.

However, in torrential rain, the water will still find its way into the crotch of your trousers.

One of the problems with waterproof rain suits is that you get really hot in them in summer rain because they seal in the sweat.

The Aston rain suit is made of polyester with PVC backing but has a mesh lining that is claimed to be “breathable”.

Many rain suits now have this mesh lining which doesn’t necessarily make them cooler, but it does prevent the plastic material from sticking to you. That makes the suit easier to put on and pull off.

But the Aston rain suit also has a full-length adjustable vent in the back so in light rain you can leave it open and not get too hot. There is also a waterproof zippered meshed pocket that can be used as a vent.

The suit comes with three large waterproof pockets plus a thigh pocket which is handy so you don’t have to open the suit to get to pockets inside your jacket.

So you can get the suit on without having to take off your boots, there are oversized zipper gussets on the pants which have elasticised “stirrups” to keep the bottom of the pants down over your boots.

Some rain suits melt on exhaust pipes, but this one has a special heat-resistant panel on the legs.

We’ve ripped rain suits in the backside before through wear. However, this has a double-layer panel in the seat for extra strength and to avoid slipping in the saddle.

Other features include a soft corduroy collar with hood, velcro adjustable cuffs and reflective piping on both jacket and pants for night visibility.

It comes in black, or black with a hi-vis yellow jacket from small to XL with a two-year warranty.

  • What is the best rain suit you have worn? Leave your comments below.

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Are you using your horn enough?

Sat, 20/05/2017 - 6:00am

Your motorcycle horn is there for a reason, but are you using it enough, too much, is it loud enough or too loud?

How often do you use your motorcycle horn? Do you even remember the last time you used it?

Standard motorcycle horns are usually puny and tinny sounding, nothing like what you would expect from a big and powerful motorcycle.

Check out this video of Bill Davidson with a 1917 model … skip forward to the 25-second mark to hear him blow the horn!

So some riders replace the standard horn with aftermarket units.

That is legal so long as you observe the noise limits in your jurisdiction.

In Australia, the noise can be no louder than 120dB and if you have a gimmicky two-or-more-tone model, the limit is 85dB.

Most available aftermarket horns are legal, but if you fit two, they could be louder than permitted.

To check, you can download a noise meter app on your phone. It may not be extremely accurate but should be a good indicator.

Even if you just fit a horn that is too loud and don’t use it, the fine for an offending horn is up to $400.

But be aware that you can’t use the horn wantonly, for fun or as a way of venting frustration or anger.

In fact, there are big fines in some countries, such as Japan, for using a horn except in a legitimate emergency.

In other countries, such as Italy and India, the motorcycle horn is one of the most important safety devices of any vehicle. Consequently, Royal Enfields and many Italian bikes come with powerful dual units.

In most countries, such as Australia, you can use it sparingly to alert traffic, animals or as part of an anti-theft device.

A short “toot-toot” is a great way of alerting traffic to your presence and a lot less offensive than overly loud exhausts. Plus, the noise is pointed forwards, not backwards like an exhaust, and is an alert tone that drivers will recognise.

But be aware you cannot use the horn excessively such as constantly blowing it as you filter down a long line of traffic.

Your motorcycle horn is also handy for warning animals and birds to get off the road.

I find it is better than those wind-activated supersonic whistles you can attach to your bike.

The post Are you using your horn enough? appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Kawasaki ZX-6R becomes stunt bike

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 4:00pm

Stunt rider Jamie Baker (JB) has revealed his highly modified Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 636 freestyle stunt machine aptly named “Carnage”.

The conversion from a road-legal Ninja ZX-6R 636 to a fully equipped stunt bike took six weeks.

Road-legal ZX-6R

“After the success of my last Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R 636 build, The Deadpool, I decided to carry on with the rival to my old bike,” he says

“I was actually surprised at how many people picked up on the theme and link between the two bikes.

“The majority of the build I was able to handle myself but when it came to the dyno runs, computer tune and fuel system program I had to call in the pros. Once all of that was figured out we really learnt what these Ninja ZX-6R 636 motorcycles are capable of.”

Testing and relentless fine-tuning is key to safety and getting the most out of a stunt machine according to JB.

“Check and re-check. We are taking a road bike and making it do things it’s not really designed to do, so making sure everything is dialled in is very crucial,” he advises.

JB tanked Kawasaki Motors Australia for support and to “have control of the entire build from start to finish”.

He also thanked Coast Powersports and his supporters.

Now watch as JB unleashes his new stunt bike!

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Indian builds Wall of Death custom Scouts

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 11:00am

Indian Motorcycle Australia continues to demonstrate the personalisation potential of its popular Scout with the latest Wall of Death custom.

Country manager Peter Harvey says they commissioned four Wall of Death bikes for display purposes only in their stores in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

He says the bikes were built for them by Antique Motorcycles in Melbourne and there will be a cafe racer version coming soon.

“They aren’t for sale, just for display in every Indian-owned dealership to show what can be done,” he says.

The Wall of Death follows four limited-edition Scout models which all sold out quickly, some even before they hit the showroom floors.

Peter says another limited-edition Scout will be coming “in the next few weeks” that is not as heavily modified as the Wall of Death.

However, instead of buying the completed bikes, customers will be able to buy a modification kit, much like Moto Guzzi does with their scrambler and cafe racer kits for the V7.

Meanwhile, if a customer wants a Wall of Death machine, they will have to contact Johnny Gee of Antique Motorcycles to make one.

“I have been a huge fan of the Wall of Death for years, and when I saw the Scout, I thought it was a great platform for a custom bike that celebrates the most dangerous and daring motorcycle show on earth,” Johnny says.

Johnny Gee on the Wall of Death

The Wall of Death motorcycle honours the American Wall of Death carnival attractions of the early 1900s when stunt riders rode 37-cubic-inch Indian Scouts around wooden motordromes.

From 1915 they were called silodromes and had vertical walls.

Last year, Guy Martin broke the speed record for riding a specially prepared Indian Scout around the Wall of Death on live TV in the UK.

Previous limited edition Scouts were the LE Mk I, Mk II and Mk III, and Franklin Edition, named after Indian Motorcycle designer, Charles B. Franklin.

The Scout LE had special two-tone paint, painted Indian tank logo, tan leather solo seat and wire wheels at $100 extra for $3000 worth of added features.

The second was the LE Mk II was inspired by a 1935 Sport Scout. It had custom gold pinstripe detailing with accompanying warbonnet on the tank and added a set of genuine black wire wheels and custom tractor style springer seat with distressed black leather finish. It cost $21,500 ride away but had more than $4000 in added value.

The third limited-edition Scout had heritage colour paintwork, an Indian script decal on the tank, black wire wheels and a black 1920s Solo Saddle. It cost an extra $700 and had more than  $4000 in added value.

Third Indian Scout limited edition model

The Franklin cost $21,495 ride away which was $500 more than the standard model despite having more than $4000 in extras, including special paint, decals and gold pin stripes, plus black spoke rims and a leather spring tractor seat.

Scout LE Franklin
  • Which is your favourite custom Scout, Mk I, Mk II, Mk III, Franklin or Wall of Death?

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Bill Davidson shares road safety tip

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 6:00am

In a near half century of riding, Bill Davidson, great grandson of Harley-Davidson founder William A. Davidson, has had only one minor motorcycle crash on the road.

The company vice-president was in Australia last week for the 100th anniversary of the iconic brand in Australia.

The celebrations included a 2300km ride from Brisbane to Melbourne. We followed Bill for much of the ride, including a challenging stretch over the Victorian Alps.

Despite Bill being two-up on a big Ultra Limited, it was difficult keeping pace with the talented, veteran rider.

Bill Davidson started riding motocross at the age of eight.

In 1984, he joined the company and has held many positions since.

“I helped develop the Harley Owners Group and for a while I was running HOG,” he told us.

“I’ve been in marketing and sales and I spent 15 years in product planning working directly with my dad, engineering, manufacturing and creating awesome motorcycles.

“I was responsible for our core customer marketing, I ran our racing teams for a while and now I’m running the Harley-Davidson museum and also sitting on an executive leadership team that is responsible for world marketing and sales.”

In all his time riding motorcycles and even testing prototypes and upcoming models, he has had only one motorcycle crash on the road when he was 18.

“It was a freak incident,” he said.

“A friend of mine and I were on lightweight Harley-Davidsons — a 175 and a 250 — and we were coming back from the shopping mall.

“We had this deluge of rain and there was a section of roadway that had flooded and when we came into it you couldn’t really tell it was water.

“We went into it kind of side by side and we came towards one another and as we did that our handlebars kinda locked together!

“He and I were looking at one another trying to undo our handlebars as we were going down the road. We weren’t able to get them unlocked and we both went down.

“Thank goodness we were both ok because we were able to slow in time. We were bruised up a little bit, but we rode home.”

So what is Bill’s advice on road safety?

“My safety tip is to stay alert, respect the machine and get appropriate training, especially if you’re a new rider,” he said.

“Respect the motorcycle and stay alert and focussed and you’ll have a lifelong hobby of fun like I’ve had. It’s been awesome.”

The post Bill Davidson shares road safety tip appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Are satellite speed cameras coming?

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 5:00pm

This photo of a “Sat-Cam” two-way fixed speed camera unit on a “speed trial” on Mt Mee Rd northwest of Brisbane has many riders perplexed.

Satellite cameras, which combine number plate reading technology with a global positioning satellite receiver, can measure average speed over long distances.

They have been trialled in the UK, but not yet in Australia.

Until now! Possibly.

However, this one at 1053 Mount Mee Rd is a bit of a mystery as it has no “brother” unit with which to compare average speed.

We contacted Queensland Police to ask about the “Sat-Cam” unit, but they said they had no knowledge of it or any “speed trial”.

We don’t suspect the police are being coy. They usually make no secret of their pursuit of new speed camera technology, like the new speed camera trailers rolled out before Christmas 2016.

Trailer-mounted speed camera

Transport and Main Roads and the local council also claimed to have no knowledge of the Sat-Cam.

So we searched online for “MRC” which is printed on the Sat-Cam box, but the only references we could find were for medical, cinematic cameras and medium-resolution cameras.

We went out to where the Sat-Cam was located to see if we could find any other identification or contact details, but the unit had been removed. This short pole was all that was left.

It had been anchored on a 3m metal pole. There was no evidence of any other similar cameras in the area.

However, it is still noted here on Google Maps!

Google has its own Worldview-3 satellite in orbit which has digital cameras that capture objects measuring as little as 50cm and monitor roads and traffic.

However, Mara Harri from Google said “this is not a Google trial”.

She could not provide any other information about how the test site appeared on their maps.

Interestingly, Google has just announced Google Lens, which combines image recognition, machine learning and Google’s vast preexisting platform to help you understand your surroundings.

With Google Lens, you could just point your phone at the Sat-Cam and it would give you information about it. If they knew what it was!

The Sat-Cam unit may not even be satellite cameras.

They could just be two-way fixed speed cameras able to capture both front and rear number plates.

That would solve the problem authorities have with speeding motorcycle riders not being caught by front-facing cameras because bikes don’t have front number plates.

Kiwi fixed speed camera

In New Zealand, authorities have been urged to turn the cameras around to catch speeding riders.

In fact, speed cameras are often positioned to capture the front number plate because it gives motorists less chance to slow down before their speed is recorded. It also avoids identification problems with rear vehicle plates that tend to attract road grime.

However, statistics show that riders evading speed cameras are not as big a problem as cars with unidentifiable plates.

A two-way system where the cameras are linked by computer would be able to identify an approaching rider by matching it to the next image from the rear-facing camera.

Riders would then cop the fine for the higher speeding offence.

Forgive us for being cynical, but the cameras could also be positioned at the point a speed zone changes.

Then authorities could conceivably fine motorists for their offending approach speed in one speed zone and their departing speed in another.

While you cannot be fined for the same offence twice, there may be a legal loophole for being fined for speeding in two different zones!

As for the Sat-Cam Speed Trial, we remain mystified.

  • If you have any clues about the Sat-Cam, please leave your comments below.

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Husqvarna finally recalls TR650 models

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 12:50pm

Husqvarna finally has a fix for all TR650 Terra and TR650 Strada models over a stalling issue and has issued an official product safety recall.

The issue began when the models were launched in 2012 when the company was owned by BMW.

BMW purchased Husqvarna in 2007 and sold it to Pierrer Industrie, the major shareholder in KTM, in 2013 and has since refused to help Husky with the software fix.

In 2015, BMW began recalling their G 650 GS and G 650 GS Sertao over the same issue of engine stalling, blaming a software error in the BMS-E engine management ECU.

BMW G 650 GS Sertao

The recall issued through the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission stated: “Software errors in the engine control unit (Digital Motor Electronics-E) can cause a faulty setting of the idle controller. In some cases, this can result in the engine stalling when it is at idle speed and the clutch is disengaged. If the engine stalls this could potentially cause an accident or hazard to the rider and other road users.”

BMW’s initial fix didn’t work and the bikes were recalled again.

Meanwhile, some 250 owners of Husqvarna TR650 Terra and Strada models have been left in limbo as the only dealerships with the diagnostics systems to reprogram the ECU were BMW dealerships.

Motorcycle rights advocate and G 650 GS Dakar owner Wayne Carruthers says it is a “scandal” as owners have been at the risk of engines dangerously stalling at traffic lights and the riders being rear-ended.

Wayne Carruthers and his F650GS Dakar

KTM and Husqvarna Motorcycles Australia warranty and customer service manager Craig Brown told us late last year they were getting close to finding a fix with the help of ECU makers Magneti Marelli.

Today, they have finally issued the recall notice. Owners will be contacted by Husqvarna to visit a dealership for the new software.

However, over the past few years ownership may have changed hands and Husky would not be aware of the current owners. That’s why we publish all safety recalls. If you know a TR650 owner, please alert them to this article.

The problems with the TR650 highlight the broader issue of how models are supported in the marketplace after the sale of a company.

The information published with regard to the agreements between BMW and Husqvarna after the 2013 sale were that the two companies combined would support the TR650 for 10 years.

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, none has ever been mandatory.  All 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.

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

• Canada

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Honda CX500 project bike up for grabs

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 11:00am

The Motorbike Writer 1980 Honda CX500 project bike is up for sale to make way for the next project bike, so make us an offer!

We won’t lie. It sometimes jumps out of second or sticks in second.

However, that’s about the full extent of its mechanical problems.

It starts every time, it doesn’t leak and it attracts attention wherever it goes.

That’s mainly due to the ominous blue “nitrous bottle” nestled in the centre of the bike.

However, it’s not nitrous at all. It’s actually an old fire extinguisher painted blue with a nitrous sticker on it. The bottle hides the small lithium battery.

Still, it not only attracts a lot of rider interest and mirth, but also one motorcycle cop who pulled me over.

“You can’t have nitrous,” he said.

I showed him the braided line went nowhere and that there were wires going into the battery inside.

He laughed and went on his way.

The nitrous battery holder is not the only modification as you can see.

This is no longer a “plastic maggot”. We’ve dropped about 30kg in weight by getting rid of the massive nose, big butt, huge seat, dual exhausts and ancient electronics.

The original 1980 Honda CX500 before “the chop”

With special help from Rocker Classic Motorcycles, we’ve fitted new bars, slightly knobby Pirelli tyres, genuine leather seat, air filters, bar-end mirrors, canvas ammunition bag, rear shocks from a Triumph Bonneville and single-pod instruments.

We have no idea how far it’s actually gone! There was originally 87,787km on the odo and it’s probably done another 4000km.

It’s not exactly a hot street machine, but it is a sweet thing to ride on both road and gravel.

The special paint job features a rust look with “Motorbike Writer” on the tank.

We can easily have the word “Writer” removed for the next owner, if that’s what they really want. However, we would appreciate the continued advertising!

There are a couple of tantalising selling virtues, too. It’s not only a learner-approved bike (seriously, it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding), it is also eligible for cheap classic registration ($200 in Queensland).

So reluctantly, the old girl now has to go to make way in the garage for the next project.

We are now accepting bids, abuse, jokes and other offers and insults.

Please contact us via email.

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Council makes ban on footpath parking permanent

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 6:00am

A Melbourne council has voted to permanently ban motorcycles from parking on several St Kilda footpaths, but has agreed to more on-street motorcycle parking areas.

Port Phillip Council introduced a six-month trial ban on motorcycle footpath parking in some areas of St Kilda in February 2016 “for the safety of pedestrians”.

The ban prompted a protest by riders, while an online council survey found 144 of the 185 respondents opposed the six-month trial ban which extended past 15 months.

Council met last night to make the parking ban permanent.

City of Port Phillip has banned motorcycles from parking on the footpath on a popular St Kilda strip. (Picture: Chris Eastman)

Victorian Motorcycle Council vice-chair John Eacott addressed the meeting, saying riders contributed to the economy of the tourist area.

“There are 400,000 motorcycle license holders in Victoria and (in 2015) they contributed $3.6 billion to the national economy,” he said.

“You’re driving them away.”

He said the few riders who created a nuisance to pedestrians were “idiots” and the ban was like using a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

John urged the council to defer a decision until a “better review” could be done.

However, councillors voted to make the ban permanent.

The ban affects footpaths outside the Vineyard on Acland St and near O’Donnell Gardens, and the entrance to Luna Park.

John Eacott

John says the VMC is disappointed with the decision.

However, he says Mayor Bernadene Voss did hear his message and instructed a council officer to work out some alternatives for on-street parking.

“We were promised five options which became two, then none,” John said. “I stressed that point and she got it.

“We also have a large pavement area half way up Acland Street which has been created and will accommodate about 12-15 bikes, so overall it’s a good compromise apart from the inevitable wingers who will come out of the woodwork.

“The Mayor is to be commended for recognising that the much-promised alternative street parking was not provided and an amendment to the motion will see this reinstated.

“The VMC expect that about 20 or more free motorcycling spots will eventuate to replace the lost pavement parking.”

Cr Andrew Bond said the ban targeted “only a very small area in the Acland St precinct”, with “ample area” for motorcyclists to park in the revamped strip.

Cr David Brand said the bans were a “fair enough thing to do” to protect the safety of pedestrians in the bustling tourist spot.

Independent Riders’ Group spokesman Damien Codognotto said the ban is the “thin edge of the wedge”.

Damien and his Moto Guzzi V7 “Since the state government quietly changed the motorcycle footpath parking law some time ago bans have been showing up here and there,” he said. “St Kilda is a high-profile suburb so other municipalities will take note. It says to me, when there is an anti-motorbike culture in a government department, riders have to strongly oppose it or they will be discriminated against. “Softly, softly only works with your friends.”

Under Victorian laws, a motorcyclist is allowed to park on the footpath unless there is a sign specifically stating otherwise.

Motorcycles are not allowed to block the path of pedestrians, delivery vehicles, public transport users or parked cars.

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Touratech soft pannier system

Wed, 17/05/2017 - 5:00pm

Are you a hard or soft pannier adventure rider? Each has its virtues and each has its disadvantages.

Hard panniers can be locked, offer better protection for contents, can withstand high impacts, are easily accessed, they are quick to release and lock on, and they can even be used as camp seats when taken off.

However, they are expensive, heavy and, in adventure riding conditions, they can hit tree branches and knock you off and can be dangerous to the rider in a fall.

That’s why some adventure riders prefer lighter soft bags, even though they are less secure, more difficult to access and offer less protection for contents.

German adventure accessories company Touratech now offers a soft bag system that will fit into pannier frame systems with 18mm tubes designed for hard panniers.

There are also clip mounting systems for other tube frame sizes.

That means the bags can be quickly clipped on and taken off. No need for messy and time-consuming ties and straps that can come loose.

The Endurance Click Side Bag costs a hefty $264 for one 28-litre black plastic bag or $348 for the yellow, orange, blue or red bags. Two-piece luggage costs $669.90 for all colours.

Touratech Endurance click soft bags

And that doesn’t include the mounting kit which is $53 per side.

However, it’s still much cheaper than most hard pannier systems.

The bags are made of a tough plastic which they claim is durable in a fall. They don’t mention anything about sliding down a gravel road at a rate of knots!

They are also claimed to be dustproof and waterproof with their roll-down tops. That may be so, but they are also more difficult to access, unlike hard panniers with lids.

The Touratech Endurance bags weigh just 1.4kg each, which is the real advantage for adventurers needing to travel light.

They come with a handle so you can carry them when taken off the bike.

The Touratech design includes 3M Scotchlite reflectors and can be hosed out to keep them clean.

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Is MV Agusta making an RVS scrambler?

Wed, 17/05/2017 - 7:20am

Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta appears to be jumping on the scrambler bandwagon with this teaser video of their upcoming RVS.

RVS stands for Reparto veicoli speciali which is Italian for special vehicles department, so it may not be a full production run, just a limited edition.

However, who could blame them for jumping on such a successful bandwagon.

The modern interpretation of the old hare scrambles motorcycles began with the Triumph Scrambler in 2006.

However, it wasn’t until Ducati released its Scrambler in 2015 that it became a popular motorcycle type.

The Ducati Scrambler quickly became the brand’s top seller. Now brands such as BMW, Yamaha and SWM have followed the trend.

So why not MV Agusta?

It certainly needs something to boost its stocks after the company’s financial woes of the past year or so and its decision to wind back on new models.

Which is further evidence that the RVS might just be a one-off limited-edition scrambler likely based on their 800 Dragster.

The 37-second video only shows a vague silhouette and the RVS logo etched into a lump of aluminium.

It features slightly knobby tyres and wire wheels with high pipes. And that’s just about all you need these days to call your bike a scrambler!

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Black Dog Ride heads to Tassie

Wed, 17/05/2017 - 6:00am

The annual Black Dog Ride will head to Tassie instead of the Red Centre for the first time in eight years with bookings now open for the October/November event.

It is being held in late spring rather than the usual winter timing to avoid dangerous snow and ice conditions.

Riders will head to Tassie from various states on October 28, meeting in Hobart on November 5.

Black Dog Ride founder Steve Andrews rode to the centre of Australia in 2009 to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention and mental health.

Black Dog Ride founder Steve Andrews

The following year he started the annual ride to the centre of Australia, then one-day rides, a lap of Australia, a trip across America and has raised more than $2.2m for mental health charities across the nation.

Just last year more than $360,000 was distributed to 30 mental health organisations.

Steve is no longer with BDR, stepping down for personal reasons, but last year he told us that he regretted Tasmania not being included. So he organised this special ride to Tassie.

You can find more information about the Black Dog Ride to Tasmania 2017, including how to register, on the Black Dog Ride website.

This year, the BDR will focus on raising awareness of mental illness and suicide among ex-service, veterans and emergency workers.

“We aim to break down barriers to conversations around mental health amongst the very people who are helping us in our times of need but whose own mental wellbeing is often overlooked,” the website says.

To take part, check out the ride details from your state or territory:

NSW & ACT | NT | QLD | SA | TAS | VIC | WA

Suicide statistics
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australians under the age of 45;
  • Eight Australians take their lives every single day, that’s one life lost every 3 hours;
  • It is estimated that there is a suicide attempt every ten minutes in Australia;
  • Men in regional locations experience higher rates of suicide than the national average;
  • One in five Australians will experience mental illness every year;
  • Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Australia; and
  • Depressive disorders are the most common identifiable risk factor for suicide.

 

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Call for footpath parking support

Tue, 16/05/2017 - 4:40pm

Riders have been urged to show their support for footpath motorcycle parking by attending a City of Port Phillip council meeting tomorrow night (May 17,2017).

In February, 2016, council began a “six-month trial ban” on footpath motorcycle parking in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda.

City of Port Phillip spokeswoman Fiona Blair said at the time that the six-month motorcycle parking ban trial was in response to “many complaints” about the large number of bikes parked on footpaths and “excessive noise”.

The move sparked a protest by riders.

Riders protesting the footpath parking ban (Photos supplied by Independent Riders Group)

Despite the protest and council’s own online survey which showed “a vast majority of support” for lifting the bans, the trial has continued more than a year.

In fact, council is now considering making the bans permanent.

Victorian Motorcycle Council spokesman John Eacott says he will attend the council meeting tomorrow from 6.30pm at the St Kilda Town Hall.

John Eacott

He has called on riders to join him and show their support by attending. He is not calling for a rowdy protest, but a “very responsible” show. “No emotive stuff.”

“We find it much better to be conciliatory and consultative, unlike the council’s report where they say they have consulted with motorcycle groups, but haven’t, and ignored 144 out of 185 respondents who have come out against the ban,” he says.

A VMC Facebook post says they only found out about the footpath parking agenda item by accident and had not been told by council.

“We asked about what happened to five alternative parking proposals and were told that community consultation was against them,” the post says.

“They couldn’t point to the feedback and we certainly weren’t consulted. As a result, they initiated a community survey about the footpath parking ban – back in March.

“We asked a couple of weeks back about the outcome from survey and were told we’d be informed. We weren’t.

“It’s hard not to see the council meeting tomorrow as another disrespectful display towards motorcyclists and towards the VMC particularly, which has tried to maintain diplomatic and cordial dialogue about this topic for over a year now.”

The VMC claims the council’s report discounts their submissions and those of more than 100 non-residents, including tourists and visitors who are the economic lifeblood of the tourist area.

“The only acknowledgement of VMC concerns has been that the extent of the ban is being reduced to include just the immediate (large footpath) areas around the Vineyard and Luna Park,” the post says.

Riders have also been urged to contact council and leave a comment at this website.

 

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