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Updated: 27 min 27 sec ago

Engineer sues Royal Enfield over Himalayan

Sat, 29/04/2017 - 8:47am

An Indian court has ordered Royal Enfield pay an engineer an undisclosed compensation payment after he complained of 40 defects in his Himalayan adventure bike.

Owner M Puneeth, an engineer, noticed issues from the first day he picked up the bike. They include a leaking carburettor and fuel tank, engine noises, stalling, oil leaks, idling problems and difficult gear shifts.

Royal Enfield is consulting with their legal advisers and my appeal the court ruling.

The adventure bike has been plagued by issues since its launch last year such as rust, electrical failure and even the promotional video showed a broken footpeg.

It was also temporarily banned in the capital of India because it doesn’t meet their new emissions standards. However, the government lifted the ban because the bike was launched on March 16, which was before the new emissions standards applied from April 1, 2016.

There is no word on whether any of the issues cited by the engineer affect Australian customers as the importers, Urban Moto Imports, have failed to reply to requests for comment.

However, it seems most of the issues involve motorcycles on the domestic market.

There has been no official safety recall for the bike in Australia or any other country.

The Royal Enfield Himalayan 411cc adventure bike sells in Australia at $5990 plus on-road costs.

It is not known how many have been sold here as UMI is not a member of the FCI which releases the official sales figures every quarter.

Meanwhile, Royal Enfield recorded its highest monthly sales in April with 60,142 bikes sold, up 25% on the previous month.

However, all but 1578 were sold in India.

The biggest seller is the Classic 350 which sold 4,16,693 in the past year. Sales of their bikes over 350cc actually dropped 23% in April 2017.

  • Did you buy a Himalayan and have you encountered any of these issues? Leave your comments below.

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Steve McQueen Honda CB450 for auction

Sat, 29/04/2017 - 6:00am

A 1972 Honda CB450 once owned by Steve McQueen is among the star lots at this weekend’s Hollywood Legends auction in Los Angeles.

McQueen bikes usually sell for substantial amounts, showing the star power of the former US representative in the 1964 International Six-Day Trials and star of the cult motorcycle film, On Any Sunday.

In May 2015, a fan paid almost $A1 million for a 1915 Cyclone board tracker owned by McQueen.

Steve McQueen’s Cyclone

The CB450 is not likely to fetch that much. Julien’s Auctions, which specialises in Hollywood memorabilia, says they have four bids up to $US50,00 and estimate it will sell for up to $70,000.

That would make it the most expensive CB450 ever sold.

The bike has only 19,417.5 miles on the odometer, features a McQueen personalised plate and is registered in the name of his Solar Productions film company.

The CB450 was given to his film company in August 1972 by Honda Motor Co. At the time, McQueen featured in Honda commercials such as this one.

However, the CB450 features a Bud Ekins Motorcycles license plate frame.

Bud was not only a close friend, but is also believed to have been the stunt rider who did the famous jump over a barbed wire fence in The Great Escape.

The Hollywood Legends auction features two other motorcycles. 

The second is a 2015 Yamaha YZ450F used in the 2015 movie Point Break estimated at $6000-$8000. 

Point Break YZ450F

Third is a chopper that comes from the collection of Easy Rider star, the late Dennis Hopper.

Dennis Hopper’s mini chopper

This is a Johnny Pag ‘Pagsta’ chopper from 2003, powered by a tiny 50cc single. The chopper, which is estimated at $8000-$10,000, was a decoration that lived in Hopper’s living room.

The chopper in his living room

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Laverda Concours moves to spring

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 5:00pm

Bad weather has forced one of the largest motorcycle shows in Australia, the Laverda Councours, to shift from winter to spring.

The 29th Laverda Councours has been held in July at the Cleveland Showgrounds for the past five years and prior to that under the Storey Bridge.

However, organisers say it has been either washed out or hampered by rain on several occasions.

Event manager Bryan Horn says the committee finally bit the bullet and shifted the event to the third Sunday in October from now on. This year it will be held on October 15 from 8am to 4pm. Check out their Facebook page for updates.

“There were also some major exhibitors that were not able to attend this year at the usual time, so that was another catalyst for the change,” he says.

“We are still on the hunt for a major sponsor, but all the usual events such as the dyno shootout will be back and the entry price is still $10 for adults and children under 15 free.

“We are also looking for new ideas for the event and would welcome suggestions from riders.”

The Laverda Concours the biggest and best motorcycle show in Queensland and one of the biggest in the nation. The concours gets its name from Club Laverda Queensland who began the show in 1982 with the Ducati Owners Club who later pulled out.

Despite its name, the Laverda Concours is open to all makes of bikes, trikes and scooters. There are some 60 trophies on offer and big prize money for best in show.

The alcohol-free family event raises funds for the Make a Wish Foundation and has raised more than $70,000 in the past 10 years .

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Tribute to ‘Zen’ author Robert M Pirsig

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 7:36am

If you are philosophical about your riding and your motorcycle, you can be assured you are not alone as author Robert M Pirsig so articulately pointed out in his 1974 classic book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Pirsig died this week aged 88 at his home in Maine and is survived by wife Wendy, son Ted, daughter Nell Peiken and three grandchildren.

Tragically, his other son, Chris, who featured in his book as his 12-year-old pillion, was killed by a mugger in San Francisco in 1979.


Pirsig’s book became a philosophical handbook for many motorcycle riders in the 1970s and continues to be a bible for many riders.

He turned a nuts-and-bolts piece of equipment into something that is transcendent from this world.

The book is basically a travelogue of his thoughts while riding a 1964 Honda CB77 SuperHawk 305 from his home in Minnesota to the Black Hills of Dakota.

It’s not the wild and thrilling joy ride that Hunter S. Thompson describes in Hells Angels, nor an actual guide to maintaining a motorcycle as its title would suggest.

Instead, it is a thought-provoking journey into the mind of a rider.

We might not all grapple with schizophrenia as did Robert, but he made us aware of the isolation tank effect of a motorcycle ride and how it promotes mindfulness.

Even if you have never read the book, you have probably experienced much of the same thought processes while riding.

One of the more practical lessons from the book that I learnt was about mechanical sympathy, routine maintenance and a tortoise-and-hare approach to riding long distances.

Likewise, it took Pirsig four years of persistence to write and he was rejected by publishers 121 times. But over the long distance it has sold more than five million copies.

It is never too late to read the book which is still available today in hard cover, paperback, Kindle, audio book and audio CD.

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Tyre noise more nuisance than exhaust

Fri, 28/04/2017 - 6:00am

Loud motorcycle exhausts are not causing as much noise pollution as tyre noise from large volumes of traffic.

That’s according to a World Health Organisation report that found traffic-related noise pollution accounts for over one million “healthy years” lost annually to ill health, disability or early death in Europe.

The report says one of the biggest contributors to noise pollution is the sound of tyres on pavement. No mention of motorcycle exhaust noise.

Buy your “Loud pipes save lives” keyring now!

The worst type of tyre/road interaction occurs at speeds above, 50km/h and “quiet” electric vehicles are not exempt.

Motorcycles with half as many wheels and substantially smaller tyre contact patches produce much less noise than even a small hatchback.

The tyre contact patch of an average motorcycle (depending on tyre profile and width) is about 50cm2 compared with a car of about 948cm2.

In fact, legal limits for motorcycle noise are set by ride-by tests which take into account road noise.

So one way motorcycle riders can be quieter is to ensure they have correct tyre pressures which reduce the contact patch.

Read this article to find out how to get the correct tyre pressures.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has issued legal limits to control the noise from tyres and is now negotiating legal limits for noise generated by the road surface.

In Australia, there has been some testing and application of a “poroelastic” road surface to reduce road noise.

However, recent research has shown that temperature influences noise emission as much as tyres and road surface.

Not sure what can be done about the temperature!

However, while the authorities are concerned about tyre noise, they might be less concerned with motorcycle exhaust noise.

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Riders deliver breast milk for babies

Thu, 27/04/2017 - 5:00pm

Motorcycle riders are well known for their charity and social welfare work and the latest to grab our attention is this group of women delivering breast milk for babies.

The Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Club of New York has been delivering donor breast milk for the past year to mothers who are having trouble breastfeeding.

The 40 club members take milk from the New York Milk Bank directly to mothers around the city.

We’ve heard of medicine and social welfare aid being delivered in various locations around the world, but this is the first time we have heard of breast milk deliveries by motorcycle.

In this 60 Second Documentaries video Sirens president Jen Bacquial says the group volunteered “because, who wouldn’t help a sick baby?”

“The executive director of the Milk Bank called me out of nowhere and introduced the idea of delivering breast milk to babies,” she says.

“I was immediately attached to the idea. We’re all women. We have friends that have had trouble breastfeeding and being able to help just a little bit I know it’s gotta be doing some good.”

Sirens president Jen Bacquial

Motorcycles are the ideal delivery vehicle for the fresh breast milk as they are able to manoeuvre through the snarled New York City traffic faster and easier than cars or vans.

That way the milk stays fresh.

Advantages of breast milk

Milk Bank boss Julie Bouchet-Horowitz says breast milk has special antibodies that help sick or premature babies fight disease and infection.

If a mother can’t keep up with the breast feeding, a supplement of donor milk can help. It is especially important for mothers of premature babies.

Call to arms

Are there any women motorcycle clubs out there interested in delivering milk to those in need? In fact, any motorcycle club; it doesn’t just need to be women!

There are milk banks in most major maternity hospitals in Australian cities and around the world.

  • If your club is interested in this or any other social welfare or charity work, please tell us about it. Contact us via email.

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Riders raise smiles for Royal Flying Doctors

Thu, 27/04/2017 - 10:00am

Riders today (April 27, 2017) hit the road for the second annual Bright Smiles Charity Ride raising vital funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Starting at Wiseman’s Ferry, just north of Sydney, the 18 riders are travelling more than 1200km along the back roads, enjoying overnight stays at Coolah, Dubbo, where they will visit the Royal Flying Doctors base, and Canowindra.

Last year, the inaugural Bright Smiles Charity Ride raised more than $40,000 to support the Royal Flying Doctors South Eastern Section’s oral health service. So far, donations are almost at $18,000.

The inaugural Bright Smiles rider group

Bright Smiles is the motorcycling offshoot of the Outback Car Trek, a week-long annual bush pilgrimage featuring more than 100 pre-1978 vintage cars. The OBT has raised more than $25 million for the Royal Flying Doctors since its inception in 1990 and will embark on its 28th Trek from Griffith to Port Macquarie in June.

“Bright Smiles and the OBT are supporting dental health because we know through our long association with the RFDS SE that it is such an important pillar of healthcare,” says OBT and Bright Smiles organiser Bill Patrick.

“We were delighted to contribute towards the recent expansion of the dental health teams in Dubbo and Broken Hill and the purchase of a new dental van. This will allow the RFDS SE to offer dental health and education to more rural and remote communities in Western and Far Western NSW.

“Over the next few years we are hoping to grow the event so we can continue to support the great work the RFDS SE dental teams do.”

The Bright Smiles riders will visit the RFDS SE Base at Dubbo on Saturday to look over an aircraft, inspect the new dental van and meet the team who have helped to restore dental health to some of NSW’s most vulnerable and remote communities.

The dental van has just completed its maiden trip around Western NSW providing clinics and oral health education to communities without an airstrip or who are not on our current clinic roster. On this trip it visited; Enngonia, Yunta, Angledool, Goodooga and Lightning Ridge. On its way back to Broken Hill it will visit Yunta and the Coombah roadhouse (Wentworth).

“We’re very keen to get that message out into the community, as I don’t think most people realise how poor oral health can impact them,” says RFDS SE Senior Dentist, Dr Lyn Mayne.

“Oral disease, particularly when left untreated, is associated with certain cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses, and other chronic diseases. Other common conditions such as endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart), stroke, aspiration pneumonia, diabetes, kidney disease, and some adverse pregnancy outcomes, are also associated with poor oral health.”

Since its launch in 2012, the Dubbo dental team have provided over 1,100 clinics and treated almost 7,000 patients in the communities of Bourke, Collarenebri, Goodooga and Lightning Ridge, where access to dental care was either non-existent or extremely challenging.

“Our primary goal is to reduce the well-documented gap in health and wellness between those living in remote, rural and regional areas and those in cities, but we can’t do it alone,” says Greg Sam, Chief Executive Officer of the RFDS SE.

“To that end, the great fundraising work that the Bright Smiles and Outback Car Trek participants do on our behalf will put bright smiles on many more faces over the coming years.”

Click here to support the Bright Smiles fundraiser.

 

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Volkswagen tipped to sell Ducati

Thu, 27/04/2017 - 6:57am

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

So far news agencies such as Reuters are only quoting “two people familiar with the matter”, which doesn’t sound very authoritative.

And they say they are only testing the waters for interest and have not yet made a decision to sell.

VW bought Ducati for $1.12 billion (all dollar values in $US) in 2012, including $261 million in debt. It is now estimated to be making $109m a year and could fetch up to $1.6 billion if sold.

In 2015, VW was sprung for using software that turned off emissions controls and falsified their emissions figures.

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

Volkswagen faces more payouts and has laid off 3000 workers to save money, despite revenue last year of $217.27b which was an increase of 1.86%.

Interested buyers?

If VW really is selling off Ducati, who would be the interested buyers?

Well, Polaris was tipped to be interested in buying fellow Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta last year wen it was in financial difficulty.

Maybe they could be interested in Ducati after axing Victory Motorcycles earlier this year.

Last year Polaris made $4.5b in revenue and, despite the costs of winding down Victory, they still made $1.1b in revenue in the first quarter of 2017, up 17%.

So they should be flush with funds.

Fellow American Harley-Davidson is an unlikely buyer, having been burnt by its short-term ownership of MV Agusta. They bought it in 2008 for $109 million and sold it in 2010 just $3.98!

It’s hardly likely they would do that again.

There is some speculation that the company could be bought by a Chinese consortium as is the case with countrymen Benelli, Bimota and SWM.

Indian companies could also be interested with Mahindra recently deciding to resurrect BSA and Jawa.

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Wauchope welcomes Ulysses AGM

Thu, 27/04/2017 - 6:00am

The decision last year to hold the 2017 Ulysses Club AGM in Wauchope on the famed Oxley Highway was the reason the town became Motorcycle Friendly in November 2016.

Now the little town of Wauchope is readying for the arrival of hundreds of riders from around the country for the AGM Event week from 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 of Port Macquarie.

Riders arrive on the Monday and the Tuesday is a meet and greet day with a main dinner.

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 a Street Party held by the Council, based around the motorbike theme.

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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Rider dies in high-speed police chase

Wed, 26/04/2017 - 5:00pm

An American rider has died after South Carolina police repeatedly rammed his motorcycle during a high-speed chase.

Robert Lee Clark, 30, died at the scene after he was nudged into a car.

Warning: The following 5:34 minute police dashcam video of the entire pursuit can be very distressing.

The incident again shines a light on the danger of high-speed police chases, especially aggressive, physical contact with a motorcycle as in this case.

Police chases are restricted in most Australian states, but they are still quite common throughout the USA.

In this latest case, Summerville Police Department Deputy James Vansant chased the rider after he was riding at 66mph (106km/h) in a 45mph (72km/h) zone.

The Deputy says the chase reached speeds of 111mph (178km/h).

They also say Robert braked heavily and then missed a gear, causing the contact that sent him into a car that was slowing at the sound of the approaching police siren.

There is no word on whether the rider was wanted for any other issues, except speeding.

The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina Highway Patrol are conducting an internal investigation. The deputy has been placed on administrative leave, pending the review.

In these days of number (license) plate identification technology, couldn’t police simply check the identity of the motorist and fine them later?

Would the rider have continued to speed and cause danger to other road users? Quite possibly. But would he have ridden at about 70% higher speeds had he not been pursued by police? Possibly not.

If number plate recognition identifies the rider/driver as being wanted for serious offences, then a pursuit may be necessary.

But causing danger to the public with a high-speed chase to stop a speeder is not only highly dangerous but contradictory.

From 1990 to 2010 more than 150 people were killed in high-speed police chases in Australia. However, the toll has since reduced with restrictions placed on police chases and the introduction of sophisticated number plate identification technology.

In America, one person a day is killed in high-speed police chases.

  • Should high-speed pursuits be banned? Have your say in the comments section below.

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First motorcycle friendly region launched

Wed, 26/04/2017 - 12:00pm

The first motorcycle friendly region, consisting of seven council areas, has been launched in Western Australia with a comprehensive list of features.

On Sunday, April 23, 2017, the Avon Valley Motorcycle Friendly Region, northeast of Perth, joined the Motorcycle Friendly towns and shires of Glamorgan Spring Bay, Tasmania (July 2007); Texas, Queensland (July 2013); Wauchope, New South Wales (November 2016); and Crows Nest (March 2017). The South Burnett Shire in South-East Queensland also intends to become Motorcycle Friendly with an official launch date announced soon.

More than 6200 riders turned out in threatening weather for the official launch in York, in the beautiful Avon Valley.

Bikes line the streets of York

The Motorcycle Friendly Region will: 

  • create an online list of more than 70 participating motorcycle friendly venues (eateries, accommodation and attractions);
  • produce and install 95 branded Avon Valley road signs and noticeboards;
  • create, print and distribute 2500 pocket riding maps;
  • make advertising banners and noticeboards for information points; and
  • administer a busy Facebook group with more than 600 members as a space to share up-to-date information and business promotions.

    Motorcycle Friendly cafes abound

Avon Valley Motorcycle Friendly Region chair Karen Dore says the weekend York Motorcycle Festival was a “hugely successful event”.

“I think this project will give a solid base to build upon,” she says.

“I trust that the participating venues will continue to welcome riders and also come up with some new ideas and I hope that the riders will provide feedback to ensure the operators are sticking to their pledge, along with assisting to put together some great ride route suggestions and focussing on road safety.”

She says participating venues now have the unique opportunity to advertise their motorcycle friendly facilities and offers directly to interested riders.  Rider feedback will also be used to identify new initiatives.

Karen is the Economic Development Officer for the Shire of Chittering and also rides 2015 Yamaha MT-07 she fondly calls Dumble, after the Harry Potter wizard Dumbledore. “Cos he’s magic,” she says.

Karen’s MT-07

“The Avon Valley region’s motorcycling assets are its winding roads through magnificent scenery in a temperate climate. 

“I honestly couldn’t pick one road over another, they’re all great to be out on your bike on.”

Karen took on the voluntary position of chair of Avon Tourism and was looking for a “point of difference” to promote the region. When Motorcycle Riders Association of WA president Dave Wright told her about other motorcycle friendly towns, she jumped on the idea.

“There are a great number of motorcycle friendly places scattered throughout the region, so linking them together will make it easier for riders to find and enjoy them,” she says.

Comment Texas Motorcycle Friendly Town launch

Unlike RV Friendly status, there is no official sanctioning body to determine a town, shire or region is Motorcycle Friendly.

It is up to the local authority to declare themselves Motorcycle Friendly.

The Campervan Motorhome Club of Australia requires local authorities to fulfil four Essential Criteria: appropriate parking in the town centre; provision of short-term, low-cost parking for self-contained recreational vehicles close to the CBD; access to drinking water and a free dump point.

They also have several desirable criteria.

If the local authority meets the essential criteria, they are granted free RV Friendly status and are issued with two free RV Friendly Town signs. They can buy more, if they want.

The town also features in an article in the club’s magazine and gets a perpetual listing as an RV Friendly Town.

We believe at least two organisations are working on creating parameters for Motorcycle Friendly status.

Let’s hope their demands are not so high or expensive that they scare off potential regions from becoming motorcycle friendly.

And what happens with towns, shires and regions that have already declared themselves Motorcycle friendly?

  • Should Motorcycle Friendly status be formalised and what should it include? And what should happen to currently declared areas? Have your say in the comments section below.

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How to get custom parts made cheaply

Wed, 26/04/2017 - 9:43am

If you are customising or restoring a motorcycle and can’t find a part or need special custom parts machined, this online marketplace may be just what you need.

The service – Machining4u – is a marketplace where riders and other restorers can post their requirements for one-off custom parts and get them made cheaper than before.

Although not specifically aimed at motorcyclists, motorcyclists make up a substantial proportion of those who use the service.

Custom parts that have been made for motorcycles through the site include bar ends, yokes, headlight brackets and braking oversize adapters.

While it’s a British service, they can take orders from around the world and arrange to ship custom parts to customers.

Once a job requirement has been posted, machinists around the UK bid for the job, and the customer can choose between the various bids, depending on price, quality and/or reputation via reviews on the site.

The benefit is that it heightens competition and reduces prices by taking away power from the large machining business that dominate the industry and charge a high premium.  

Customers draw the part they require and post a request with blueprints and descriptions. Professional machinists submit proposals to create the part or parts and the customer selects their preferred supplier.

Payment is held in a secure account while the parts are machined and delivered, then released once the customer approves the quality and leaves a review of the machinist’s work.

One of the three founders, Simon Latour, is a keen motorcycle customiser who has restored two Moto Guzzis.

Simon and friends Stephanie Brian and Stephane Gomez were frustrated when they tried to source custom-made parts for cars, motorcycles, drones, aircraft, machinery and more.

“Machining companies either rejected our requests as too small to bother with or quoted us ludicrous prices for such small production runs,” Stephane says.

So the trio – two engineers and a marketing specialist – built Machining-4u.co.uk to solve their problem and help others.

The founders make a 14.9%  commission paid by the machinist to the site once the order is approved by the customer.

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Pilgrimage to UK National Motorcycle Museum

Wed, 26/04/2017 - 8:56am

Anyone visiting the United Kingdom who has an interest in motorbikes should make a pilgrimage to Birmingham’s National Motorcycle Museum.

It’s located just off the M42, near Birmingham Airport and pretty much opposite the NEC (the National Exhibition Centre).

If you time it right you could also combine your visit and take in “Motorcycle Live”, billed as the UK’s biggest and best motorcycle show, and taking place every November at the NEC.

It’s been running since 1981, although it only adopted its current name back in 2010. Anyway… back to the National Motorcycle Museum.

The National Motorcycle Museum is nearly as old as “Motorcycle Live” and first opened its doors in October 1984.

Founded by the late William Roy Richards, who originally started collecting classic British motorcycles as a hobby in the 1970s, the self-made millionaire eventually amassed one of the largest private collections in Britain.

The museum has come a long way over the last 30 plus years – and despite a massive fire in September 2003, emerged from the ashes just over 12 months later, re-opening following a £20 million restoration project.

It is comprised of five main halls today and boasts “the largest collection of British motorcycle’s in the world” with “over 1000 machines from 170 different manufacturers spanning no less than three centuries”.

When it first opened there were only around 350 machines to drool over.

Today it’s literally wall-to-wall with bikes and while perhaps not quite so glitzy as the revamped Ducati Museum in Bologna, Italy, it’s a joy to walk round and has at least one example of the 170 marques in its inventory.

Not so much an ‘A-Z’ as ‘ABC to Zenith’, with all the famous names you’d expect – Triumph, BSA and Norton – and probably some you have never heard about, depending on just how up you are on your history and specifically the history of British motorcycles.

(Source: Wikimedia)

It’s not just vintage bikes, however, as it also has some of the very latest models, including a big collection of competition bikes, such as the Steve Hislop 1992 Senior TT winning “White Charger”.

It’s great to see some of these bikes up close especially given the TT remains one of the most famous motorsport events in the world and despite being so unforgiving, continues to attract the top stars, including Michael Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson, Daniel Hegarty, Andrew Winkle, Guy Martin and Conor Cummins. It is also great that many of these are now taken back to the Isle of Man and showcased again following the formation in 2005 of Team National Motorcycle Museum Racing.

There is also a very nice restaurant on site so you can make a good day of it – we’d definitely recommend you do, time-permitting.

UK National Motorcycle Museum
  • Opening times: Every day of the year from 08.30 to 17.30 (except on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day)
  • Prices: Adults – £9.95 / Senior Citizens – £7.95 / Children (5-16 year-olds) – £7.95 / Family Ticket – £25.95. Discounts available for parties of 10 or more.
  • Bookings: Guided tours need to be pre-booked and cost £60.00 for half an hour or £100 for an hour.
  • More details: National Motorcycle Museum

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Motorcycle weekend camping guide

Wed, 26/04/2017 - 8:38am

Heading out on the open road for a motorbiking road trip and camping weekend?

There is nothing better than this and these trips always generate plenty of great stories to share once you return home.

One key aspect to consider before setting off is your camping situation, as this will determine just how enjoyable the adventure is. Motorcycle riding and camping is the perfect marriage, but here is what you need to know to get the most out of your trip.

Essential items

You may not be able to bring as much as you would if you were in a car, but you do get a much more thrilling experience.

The essential items to bring with you include a tent and high-quality sleeping bag, plus you will also want to bring spare clothes, shoes, a flashlight, toiletries and a first-aid kit.

Stop off regularly

Remember to stop off regularly and go at a leisurely pace – this is all part of the experience. Whether you are stopping to use the bathroom, grab some food or simply stretch your legs, it will break up the trip and make it more enjoyable. When you do stop, remember to have somebody watch your bike or secure it if travelling solo.

Food

In order to save money and space, stop off for food along the way as you are sure to pass dozens of cheap and cheerful roadside eateries. You could pack some snacks to keep you going, but avoid taking cooking equipment as this can take up a lot of space.

Generator

If travelling with a large convoy to a motorcycle rally, a lightweight generator is a fantastic addition to a motorbike camping adventure.

A generator, available from places like SGS, can be used to power music for your party at night, for lighting the area, heating, for cooking and dozens of other purposes.

Setting up camp

When you arrive at your campsite, the first thing that you should do is secure your motorbike with a chain and padlock. When picking a spot to camp, avoid any low areas where rain or cold air may settle, as well as sloping or rocky ground. It is essential that you read, understand and follow the rules of the campsite as not to annoy the other campers. You should also leave without a trace when vacating the campsite. With some campsites, you may be able to reserve a place so always look in advance when planning your route.

These tips should ensure that your motorcycle camping weekend is a fun, valuable and memorable one.

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Harley and BMW lead brand intimacy study

Wed, 26/04/2017 - 6:00am

Harley-Davidson sales may be down in the USA, but Americans still feel very intimate about the famous Milwaukee brand, according to the 2017 Brand Intimacy Report.

The biennial report has rated Harley as the top automotive brand for customer “intimacy” ahead of BMW, Toyota and Honda.

The authoritative report is a study of brands based on emotions.

They analysed the responses of 6000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries and used a complex set of algorithms to reach their results. 

Basically brand intimacy is defined as leveraging and strengthening the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.

Harley ranked third in the 2015 report, but overtook BMW and Toyota this year.

“Harley-Davidson has had success in building and maintaining intimacy across multiple generations, placing in the top three for all age groups,” the report says.

“Its ability to appeal to all ages is a sign of its strength as a brand.” 

However, the brand was number two across all industries in the 45-64 age bracket behind Apple and second among males, again behind Apple.

It seems people are very attached to their vehicles with the automotive industry ranking tops in “brand intimacy”.

Only Apple, Disney and Amazon rated higher than Harley, followed by Netflix, Nintendo, Samsung and Whole Foods, before BMW.

BMW Vision Next 100 concept vehicles

The German brand was noted in the report for its technology, including electric vehicles and development of self-driving vehicles.

This comes as the company has experienced its best first-quarter sales with growth of 5.5 % to 35,636 motorcycles and maxi scooters.

In addition to being the strongest intimate category overall, the automotive industry is also the top industry for males, those older than 35 and those with a higher income.

According to the 2017 report, top-ranked intimate brands continued to outperform the S&P and Fortune 500 indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years.

US TOP 10 AUTOMOTIVE BRANDS 2017 RANK BRANDS QUOTIENT #1 64.8 #2 57.4 #3 56.6 #4 55.5 #5 53.4 #6 50.4 #7 50.0 #8 32.7 #9 32.5 #10 30.3

 

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Consensus coming on road rules?

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 5:00pm

National road rules, including lane filtering, are being discussed now and are likely to be put out for public discussion in July with consensus expected by November.

The disparity of road rules between states is exemplified in the recent introduction of lane filtering.

It is now permitted in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and still on trial in the ACT, but expected to be implemented soon.

However, the rules vary slightly from state to state. For example, Queensland is the only state to allow edge filtering and use of bicycle storage boxes.

So which road rules do we want and which ones do we want changed?

Lack of consensus in riding groups

Unfortunately, there doesn’t even seem to be much consensus between rider groups.

For example, some groups in other states would like edge filtering, but there are even riders in Queensland who believe it should be banned.

South Australian group, called Ride to Review (RTR), seems to be the only rider representative group to publish how they would like the lane filtering rules to apply.
Australian Motorcycle Council representative Guy Stanford has been invited by the National Transport Commission to address the Australian Road Rules Maintenance Advisory Group which is attempting to make road rules uniform across all states.

Guy and his V-Strom

So what set of road rules would the AMC like to see?

“The problem is that rider groups with a good relationship with government are often unable to disclose documents or meeting discussions until agreements are reached,” Guy says.

“It can work against riders if the negotiation position is telegraphed in advance.

“Wildcard publication of wants can make things difficult, as that can waste time and distort negotiation.”

Guy says how each state drafts their lane filtering (and other roads rules) can often be more about local politics than achieving for sensible outcomes.

“A wildcard submission in one state can be good or bad, but usually only a problem in their locality with little effect elsewhere,” he says.

“Hubris can be the big hurdle.”

Check out the various lane filtering laws in each state

These are the various State Government web safety pages:

How should particular road rules be standardised in Australia? Tell us which lane filtering laws you like/dislike!

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How to find the perfect motorbike jacket (for actual riders)

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 8:45am

When most people think of a motorbike jacket, they usually automatically think about a generic black leather jacket.

The truth is that many of the motorbike jackets being sold offer very little when it comes to actual riding.

Actual motorbike jackets come with a variety of different features and aren’t focused mainly on design per se.

If you are thinking of getting a motorbike jacket for riding purposes, we’ve lined up three essential criteria:

Choose the right fit

If there’s one thing that should be essential when picking a good motorbike jacket, it’s comfort.

Some people might think that choosing the fit for a jacket isn’t important or that it’s an easy decision between large, medium or small. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’re a regular biker, you’re going to wear this jacket a lot and if it makes you uncomfortable, it might eventually affect your riding ability.

First of all, don’t make the mistake of choosing a jacket that is too loose. A motorbike jacket should ideally fit very snugly, without being too tight. This is because most motorbike jackets have extra padding on the inside and need to be close to the body to work optimally. This is especially important when it comes to protecting your elbows, back and shoulders.

You should also make sure that the jacket fits properly in the riding position, not only when standing up. A jacket might feel good when you’re standing, but might be too loose or tight when riding. Try to mimic your riding position when trying the jacket to make sure that it’s just the right fit.

Get enough padding

Protection is the main function of a motorbike jacket, not style. Between a stylish jacket with little to no padding and a less attractive one which is fully padded, you should go for the latter option every time.

A motorbike jacket is very much like a life jacket on a boat. Even if it might feel uncomfortable at times, without it, you are exposing yourself to much more danger.

This is why it is important that you choose a jacket with sufficient padding in the shoulders, elbows and back since these areas are usually the first impacted at the time of an accident.

The type of padding is also important. Look for a European approval number. The number for the armour approval standard is EN1621-2 (previously EN1621-1) followed by a letter which corresponds to the location such as S for shoulder, E for elbow, K for knee, etc.

Choose the material

Leather was the material of choice for many years when it came to motorbike jackets, but there are many more options available nowadays.

Many textile jackets, like the Furygan Digital Green jacket that was featured on The Scrambler Guy, offer just as much protection as leather jackets.

However, most people prefer to go with leather because of its thickness and the extra protection it offers against asphalt.

If you’re going to choose a leather jacket, make sure that it has a mesh lining to allow air to breathe during long distances.

The best leather to use is cow or kangaroo leather and it needs to be at least 1.1mm thick. Some superweight jackets go up to 3mm, but they can be very heavy.

Conclusion

These are three of the most critical criteria when choosing a motorbike jacket.

Make sure that it is just the right fit while standing up and in your riding position, make sure it has sufficient padding and also make sure that you choose the right fabric depending on your needs.

If you apply these three principles, you should be able to find a great motorbike jacket in no time.

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Anzac Day tribute to military motorcycles

Tue, 25/04/2017 - 5:00am

On the 102nd anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli this Anzac Day, riders should take note the significant role played by military motorcycles and their riders in many wartime.

As the above image shows, motorcycles were present on the famed beaches of Gallipoli. This Admiralty official photo shows members of the Royal Engineers (Signal Service).

Military motorcycles at the Indian Motorcycle Museum, Brisbane

Military motorcycles have played a number of vital roles in times of war and peace and are a significant feature in many motorcycle, and military and war museums around the world, including the Harley museum in Milwaukee, the Indian Motorcycle museum in Brisbane and the Australian War Memorial. We have included photos from museums we’ve visited as well as images from the Australian War Memorial on the Motorbike Writer Pinterest page.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS

Norton Big 4 military motorcycle

Most motorcycle manufacturers have, at some time, produced military models. They include Harley-Davidson, Indian, Norton, BMW, Moto Guzzi, Royal Enfield, Honda and Velocette. In fact, some of them started life because of their military use. For example, BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms company, a manufacturer of military firearms.

Military motorcycle uses have been many and varied over the years. Apart from use in the cavalry as a rapid and manoeuvrable machine to mobilise troops, they have also played vital roles in signals regiments, for mail despatch, medical use and chaplaincy.

BRD electric donor bike for DARPA hybrid project

While the motorcycle’s various uses have been replaced by modern communications and helicopters, there is still a role for motorcycles in today’s military and into the future. For example, the American military is researching and developing a hybrid-powered motorcycle for stealth operations by special forces.

Wartime necessitates the research and development of innovative military machinery including motorcycles. One of the more interesting motorcycles developed for wartime use was the Mark 2 Welbike. It was a collapsible motorcycle powered by a Villiers 98cc two-stroke engine. Originally designed by the British Special Operations Executive for use in covert operations, the Welbike was used by British airborne and parachute regiments. The bikes folded down into a parachute container and were dropped with the airborne units for rapid deployment on landing.

Mark 2 Welbike

The Welbike pictured from the Australian War Memorial display is understood to have been retrieved from the island of Moratai where it was used by a Light Aid Detachment to fetch the mail.

So, on this 102nd anniversary Anzac Day, let’s not forget the importance of the motorcycle in helping our troops. And, of course, the brave and talented soldiers who rode them!

  • We’d like to thank the Australian War Memorial  for their help in compiling this article and for the use of their photographs.

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5 ways to improve motorcycle fuel economy

Mon, 24/04/2017 - 5:00pm

One of the many reasons people choose a motorcycle for their daily commute is its inherent fuel economy.

A modern 250cc motorcycle will get you around 2.8L/100km (85mpg), and there’s not a car on the planet that can match that kind of economy.

So, why not try to maximise the fuel economy of your bike to make as much savings as possible?

Here are five ways you can get the most miles from your bike, whether it’s a tiny scooter or a burly Harley-Davidson.

1 – Maintain your ride

The main thing you can do to reduce fuel consumption on your motorcycle is to ensure that it is running in top shape. This starts by maintaining your bike’s engine to the correct maintenance cycle. A poorly maintained engine becomes inefficient, contributing to lower mileage numbers.

Some things in particular to check are the valve seat clearances and spark plug gaps. Ensure that the oil is changed at the right time and the correct oil grade is used. Air and fuel filters should be changed regularly, and you should think about changing them more often if you live in a dusty area or spend a lot of time off-roading. Consider that simply replacing an air filter can improve your engine’s efficiency by 10% and you can see how far a bit of loving care can go.

2 – Alter your riding style

Not every trip needs to be a race from red light to red light. Riding smoothly and keeping the RPMs relatively low will increase your fuel economy. Only downshift if you really need to, and avoid revving the engine unnecessarily.

Getting aerodynamic can improve your fuel efficiency. For example, a full face helmet will be more efficient than a half-face helmet, and removing any unnecessary saddlebags will reduce drag.

As speeds increase, wind resistance increases exponentially. At 65km/h (40mph) your wind resistance is half the wind resistance of when you’re at 100km/h (60mph), so slow down when you can.

Even choosing how often to ride will make a difference to your fuel economy. Multiple short trips use almost double the fuel of a single trip as the engine has to warm up each time. If you have multiple errands to do and want to reduce fuel costs, do them all in one trip.

3 – Watch your weight

Your bike is made for two people at most – don’t strain the engine by making it overladen with unnecessary items or an unsafe number of passengers. You can think about reducing the cargo you bring with you each day or replacing some of the heavier parts on the bike with newer, lighter variants. Your own weight makes quite a bit of difference to fuel economy too, so if you’re heavy on the scales yourself consider whether you could do with a bit of maintenance yourself.

4 – Change your fuel habits

It may seem counter-intuitive when you’re trying to save money on fuel, but choosing a higher grade of fuel can ultimately make for fuel savings. Bad fuel is a nightmare for your bike, leading to valve pinging, engine knocking, and bent valves. The carb can get clogged up with sludge, which reduced fuel economy and makes for some expensive repairs.

Don’t overfill your tank. Most gas pumps will cut off when you’ve reached the right level of fuel, and if you try to get too much fuel into your tank it can cause issues. Gas needs to expand in your tank, and if you don’t leave room for that expansion then your fuel economy will suffer.

If you’re able to, fill your motorcycle in the morning or when it is cold, as fuel is more condensed at this time, giving you a slight boost.

5 – Check your tyres

Keep your tyres filled to the correct PSI pressure. When the air pressure gets low, the footprint of your tyres will be larger, which increases drag and makes for poorer fuel economy.

Filling the tyres too much, on the other hand, will give you a rough ride and result in faster tyre wear. Remember that when the temperature changes tyre pressures too will change, so check your tyre pressure regularly.

As a parting tip, remember that you’ll use a lot of wasted fuel if you leave your motorcycle idling for long. If you’re going to be stuck at the traffic signals for long switch off your engine and you’ll make better fuel economy as well as help protect the environment.

 

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World record motorcycle jump attempt

Mon, 24/04/2017 - 12:00pm

American motocross pro Alex Harvill will attempt to break Australian rider Robbie Maddison’s Guinness World Record for the longest motorcycle jump.

The 24-year-old has already broken two world records; one for jumping nearly 130m (425 feet) in a dirt-to-dirt leap and the other when he jumped 90m (297 feet) on a ramp-to-dirt stunt.

Robbie’s current ramp-to-dirt record is 107m (351 feet), but Alex hopes to go an extra 15m (50 feet) at the Talladega Superspeedway on May 7, 2017.

“I feel great about going to Talladega to do this jump,” says Alex.

“Talladega is the biggest and fastest, and it’s only fitting that I’m jumping the furthest at that track.”

Alex Harvill will attempt a world record motorcycle jump

Alex will ride a modified Suzuki RM-Z450 motocross bike down a 300m (1000 foot) runway, launching off a 27m (88 foot) ramp at almost 170km/h (105mph) traveling 122m (400 feet) and then precision landing on a narrow 9m-wide (30 foot) ramp on the other side. 

Interestingly, Alex comes from Ephrata Washington where famous stunt rider Evel Knievel made his first of many death-defying leaps.

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