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Updated: 8 min 32 sec ago

Oxley Highway speed hopes improve

Mon, 13/02/2017 - 6:00am

The fate of an Oxley Highway speed zone review may have improved with the appointment of the local member as the new NSW Roads and Maritime Services Minister.

“Save the Oxley” petition organiser Ken Healey believes Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey is prepared to negotiate on speed limit changes which include reductions by as much as 30km/h in the mountain section.


“Melinda attended our initial meeting in September and showed great concern not only for motorcyclists and businesses, but for the local community as well,” Ken says.

“Melinda is our local member and the section of the Oxley Highway that concerns motorcyclists is in her electorate.”

The RMS halted its planned reduction of speed limits across the Oxley Highway in September after protest meetings and the petition which now has more than 7000 signatures.

Riders at the save the Oxley protest meeting

They promised to review the changes and release their findings before Christmas. That was extended until the New Year and has now been delayed with the new Minister after a Cabinet reshuffle following the resignation of the Premier.

The RMS has now given no timeline on the release of their review findings.

The Minister says the speed reductions are a “safety initiative” resulting from a 2015 RMS review of the highway which found 15% of riders were speeding from 126km/h to 176km/h.

Fellow protest organiser Craig Windsor points out that there is a lot of open, flat highway currently posted at 110km/h.

Save the Oxley organiser Ken Healey on his BMW K 1300 R (Photo: Keoghs Vision Photography)

“So 126km/h may not be that dramatic,” Craig says. “It is easy to slew statistics to achieve a pre-determined outcome.”

However, the Minister says they are now considering a “range of options” with the aim of improving safety for all motorists while minimising impact on regional tourism”.

What that means for the planned speed reductions is not yet known.

The Minister and the RMS have promised to alert us as soon as their review is completed.

The post Oxley Highway speed hopes improve appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Shark unveils safe budget helmet

Sun, 12/02/2017 - 5:00pm

Who says you have to sacrifice your budget to afford a safe helmet when Shark has released the RIDILL helmet with a high safety score from just $199.95?

Shark is the most prolific helmet brand in the industry-leading British SHARP helmet ranking survey with 24 helmets and all but one scoring four or more stars.

That makes the French helmet brand one of the safest helmet brands in the world, statistically.

Even though the Shark RIDILL is budget priced, the Euro-approved full-face helmet still scores four stars on the SHARP ratings.

It is made with an injected thermoplastic resin shell and features a fully adjustable venting system to not only cool your head but increase aerodynamics.

The RIDILL comes with a convenient quick-release chin strap they call the Micro-Lock Buckle system.

Some people don’t like them as they feel they aren’t as secure as the primitive but effective Double D clasp. However, there is no denying they are convenient.

RIDILL also has Sharks’ famous and convenient quick-release visor system with customisable Pinlock visor adjustability and an anti-scratch UV380 label sun visor.

The helmet liner is washable and Shark claims the RIDILL EasyFit system also accommodates riders who wear glasses.

RIDILL weighs 1550 grams and comes in sizes XS to XL in three colour options including solid and graphics and has a comprehensive five-year warranty.

Put all that together and it has to be one of the safest budget helmets on the market.

To find your nearest retailer head visit the website of Australian distributor Ficeda.


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Honda and Hitachi electric bike?

Sun, 12/02/2017 - 6:00am

Honda has signed a deal with Hitachi Automotive Systems to develop and make motors for electric vehicles.

While the Memorandum of Understanding doesn’t specify electric motorcycles, Honda has already confirmed it will have the EV-CUB electric scooter (pictured above) available from 2018.

The move by the world’s largest motorcycle company could be a significant spark that kickstarts the electric motorcycle market.

There have been many small and cheap electric scooters churned out of China, many boutique start-up electric bike companies making expensive models and several major manufacturers who have made electric bikes.

However, few are on sale yet.

  • Yamaha and KTM make moto and off-road electric bikes;
  • Kawasaki is considering a small electric Ninja;
  • Harley-Davidson says its Livewire will be available in the next few years;

    Harley-Davidson electric livewire.

  • BMW produces electric maxi-scooters and has produced the eRR electric superbike concept; and
  • Polaris bought and now sells the Empulse as a Victory although that could change with the demise of that company.

At the moment, it looks more like they will work together on producing small cars in Japan, China and the USA.

However, electric motorcycle momentum would take a big leap forward if these major companies started producing electric bikes.

Hitachi Automotive Systems is one of the most experienced electric automotive motor companies in the world with a history dating back to 1999.

Honda also made its first petrol-electric hybrid car in 1999 and has produced many electric concepts over the years. They also back the Mugen electric TT race bike.

The post Honda and Hitachi electric bike? appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

SWM Silver Vase 440 scrambler review

Sat, 11/02/2017 - 5:00pm

You can save yourself a lot of hassle and money converting a small-capacity motorcycle into a scrambler by checking out the SWM Silver Vase.

SWM is an Italian-made brand with Chinese financial backing, so their bikes are made with Italian design and flair, but a bargain price tag.

The Silver Vase costs just $7490 on the road which compares pretty well with its closest competitor, the Yamaha SR400 at $8099 plus on-road costs.

And if you are after a stylish scrambler, the learner-approved Silver Vase is already customised for you.

There is also a Gran Milano ($7990) cafe racer and Gran Turismo ($7490) naked roadster which share the same frame and engine.

Single-cylinder heart

They are all powered by a new SWM 445.3cc air and oil-cooled, four-stroke, SOHC, four-valve, fuel-injected, single-cylinder engine. Output is 22.4kW of power (30hp) and 35.8Nm of torque at 5300 revs.

The engine components are made by Shineray Group in China and shipped to the SWM factory in Lombardia, northern Italy, where the bike is built.

It’s a stylish little bike that turns heads everywhere you go. Not many have heard of SWM before, but those who used to race dirt a few decades ago remember them fondly.

Unlike many other scramblers on the market, this is closer to the original scrambler formula: a small-capacity road bike converted to race across paddocks on the weekends in hare scrambles events.

In fact, it’s named after the Six Days Silver Vase event which later became the International Six Days Trial.

Traditional scrambler

When we picked up the Silver Vase from Brisbane retailer Heavy Duty Motorsport, it certainly looked like it came straight from the starting line of a post-war scrambles event.

It features knobby tyres on wire wheels, twin-shock suspension, chromed fenders, gaitered forks, metal panels and tank, wide and high bars, upswept twin exhausts, dual-pod instruments and an old-fashioned padded bench seat like the old dirt bikes.

Many old riders will love the overall nostalgic look that many young hipsters are trying to replicate with their custom builds.

Closer inspection reveals inconsistent fit and finish. Some aspects such as the paintwork are very good and some, such as the stickers and exhaust welding, look a little basic. But remember that cheap price tag!

You simply can’t compare this with a BMW R nineT Scrambler at almost three times the price!

Rough welds on the exhaust Starting from scratch

There is a sticker on the rear chromed mudguard that suggests warming up the bike gently every time you start it. It also warns you should avoid “full load” for the first four hours.

The Silver Vase starts first time when cold (no kick-start only like the SR400). However, it can be a little cantankerous to start when hot.

Since it only has 30-odd kilometres on the odometer, I give it gentle revs and pull away, wary of not revving it too much for the first four hours.

So I take it on a highway trip with some twisties and some dirt thrown in.

The Silver Vase has a comfortable upright riding position with a relaxed reach to the bars and footpegs. You can move forward and back in the seat to suit your height and your knees will be nicely tucked into the tank recesses.

It’s a very relaxed position, but you can slide forward to attack corners.

Highway touring certainly isn’t this bike’s forte. It buzzes along at 5500 revs in fifth gear at 100km/h, sending a tingle through the bars, pegs and seat.

After half an hour it almost feels like my hands have gone to sleep.

Silver Vase handling

But there is no sleeping when you get into the tight corners. Despite a 19-inch front wheel and knobby tyres, it turns lightly into corners and holds its line pretty well for deep lean angles.

However, the rudimentary suspension, adjustable only on the rear for preload, does not like mid-corner bumps.

They unsettle the bike and you have to muscle it to hold it steady. That’s not difficult with those wide bars and the light weight of the bike.

It’s only 150kg dry, but has a massive 20-litre tank, so it ends up weighing about the same as the SR400.

That makes it light and manoeuvrable through tight turns and in traffic.

However, the lightweight frame that is bolted to a single centre strut does seem a little flexible.

Three frame bolts

At highway speeds, bumps can make the frame twist and the bike slightly weaves. It never becomes uncontrollable. Let’s just call it “character”.

However, I would regularly check the three bolts that link the frame to the front strut.

Loves to rev

The engine idles a bit rough at 2000 revs and it snatches and surges at constant throttle at low speeds. This improved around 500km when it was better run-in.

It prefers to be circulating between 4000-6000 revs for smother power delivery.

After 6000rpm, the single cylinder lights up and becomes more responsive before running out of puff around 8000rpm, well short of the indicated 10,000 limit.

Four hours later, I start feeding it more revs and the Silver Vase became even more responsive with robust midrange torque to pull you smartly out of corners. It actually feels stronger and more willing than the 399cc SR400.

Trusty transmission

The five-speed gearbox and clutch are light and precise. Cogs change without a murmur and we found no angel gears. However, neutral can sometimes be a little difficult to find.

Ratios are well chosen for rapid acceleration with the fifth and top gear a bit short for highway riding. Yet there is still enough pull left for overtaking with a tested top speed of 130km/h.

The tall circular mirrors are wide and well placed for rear vision, although you have to pull the clutch in to get rid of the blurred vision.

I thought I was being followed by two bikes, but it was just my mate!


After a full day of riding highways, twisties and a short Steve McQueen squirt across some grassed paddocks and double dirt tracks, I still felt quite comfortable and not at all tired.

The well-padded seat is firm but fair and the rubber foot pegs take away some of the tingle.

The rubbers can be removed for off-roading, however, you will find it difficult to stand as the top of the tank flares out and forces your knees apart.

This bike is best ridden sitting down, inside leg stretched out for support as you roost through a berm. I wouldn’t suggest any jumps or motocrossing, though. The suspension is too short and isn’t up for such punishment.

Smooth dirt roads are just fine for the SWM

It’s better sitting up straight as you filter through traffic, or sliding forward and backwards on the 820mm-high seat as needed in the twisties or spinning around a grassy paddock or easy trail.

The single 260mm front brake disc is strong and ample for the bike’s weight with good progression, but the rear 220mm disc feels spongey and is not very effective. Of course, there is no ABS.

On the dirt, the rear brake behaves more effectively in big clodhopping MX boots. An over-sensitive brake here would be a handful … or a footful!

It is shod with GoldenTyre GT201 rubber that feels quite grippy in most conditions and rates well with many adventure riders as a 50/50 tyre.


The dual-pod analogue instruments feature a speedo and tacho with a small LCD screen showing odometer and one trip meter. No fancy extras like a fuel gauge, just a fuel warning light.

Controls are also basic, but feel solid.

The 20-litre fuel tank is probably overkill for a bike this size. With fuel economy in the low 4L/100km range, that should see you riding over the horizon before the fuel light comes on.

We can’t provide reliable fuel economy figures because it was used mainly in the run-in phase.

There are a few items of concern on the bike. They include the choice of nuts and bolts, the rough exhaust welds, and the stickers that aren’t applied straight and look like they will soon peel off.

That’s to be expected on a bargain bike.

My only other complaint was a stiff rubber ring on the lockable petrol cap that made it difficult to replace. I’m sure it will loosen up with use.

Vase verdict

At just $7490 ride away, it’s the cheapest of the scramblers available and is the most authentic to the original scrambler definition.

I’d have one as a second bike for ripping down some dirt roads, across some grassy paddocks, commuting through traffic and riding up the mountain roads to my favourite cafe

SWM history

SWM does not stand for Speedy Works Motors, but SVVM or Sironi Vergani Vimercate Milano after founders Piero Sironi and Fausto Vergani started the business in Milan.

SWM manufactured Observed Trials, Enduro, Motocross and off-road motorcycles in the 1970s and 1980s. They started with small capacity Sachs engined enduro bikes and began making Rotax engined trials bikes in 1977.

The brand was revived in 2014 with funding from the Shineray Group and are manufactured in the former Husqvarna manufacturing plant in Lombardia in northern Italy. 

The SWM range in Australia also includes the RS300R, RS500R and RS650R enduros, SM500R and SM650R supermoto and Superdual 600.

SWM Silver Vase 440 scrambler specifications
  • Price: $7490 ride away
  • Engine: Air-cooled & oil-cooled SOHC 4-valve single cylinder four-stoke
  • Capacity: 445.3cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 90 x 70mm
  • Engine oil capacity: 2.8-litres
  • Transmission: 5-speed
  • Clutch: Wet multi-plate with cable control
  • Ignition: GET
  • Fuel system: EFI
  • Start: Electric
  • Front suspension: 43mm conventional fork with 125mm of travel
  • Rear suspension: Twin shock with pre-load adjustment and 90mm of travel
  • Front wheel: 19-inch with 260mm brake disc
  • Rear wheel: 17-inch with 220mm brake disc
  • Seat: 820mm
  • Wheel base: 1441mm
  • Clearance: 191mm
  • Fuel tank: 20 litres
  • Weight: 151kg (no fuel)

The post SWM Silver Vase 440 scrambler review appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Ducati quashes Indian bikes rumour

Sat, 11/02/2017 - 6:00am

It didn’t take long for Ducati to quash Indian news reports that the Italian motorcycle manufacturer was considering building bikes in the sub-continent.

Indian photoblogger Sundeep Gajjar with a Ducati Multistrada

Several Indian news sources reported that Ducati was looking for a partner to help them build small-capacity bikes just as BMW had done with TVS to build the G 310 R and G 10 GS models for the world market.

The Indian Economic Times reported that Ducati was “open to looking at a partnership with companies such as Hero MotoCorp and Royal Enfield, though no such proposal has been made yet”.

Rumour quashed

They quoted Ducati global sales and marketing director Andrea Buzzoni: “These thoughts could become a reality in the medium to long term. In India, you have robust two-wheeler players, who have competence in terms of engineering, production capacity.”

However, Ducati quickly released the following official statement: “We would like to clarify that Ducati currently has no plans to partner with any Indian two-wheeler manufacturers and/or to build small capacity engine motorcycles in India.”

Ducati has been pushing hard into the Indian market with an 18% boost in sales to more than 580 last year, five new dealerships and the world’s largest Ducati store in New Delhi.

The largest Ducati store in the world is in New Delhi

However, Ducati already has a 399cc L twin in its Scrambler Sixty2 and seems concerned about reports that they would make any of their prestige brand in India. 

Asian bike boom

That hasn’t stopped or hurt Harley-Davidson which manufacturers the Street 500 and 750 in India.

Many European and Japanese motorcycle manufacturers also now manufacturer or assemble bikes in India or South East Asia.

BMW G 310 R

This week BMW Group Australia boss Marc Werner said he was not concerned about the G 310 R and G 310 GS being built in India.

He says it wouldn’t dilute the brand but would be more like the 1 Series which introduced a new and younger breed to the prestige blue propellor brand.

  • Would you buy a Ducati built in India? Leave your comments below.

The post Ducati quashes Indian bikes rumour appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Suzuki recalls 650 V-Strom and scooters

Fri, 10/02/2017 - 5:00pm

Suzuki has issued recalls on itsDL650 V-Strom for a battery charging issue and UK110 scooters over a sticky throttle.

The voluntary safety recalls were issued through the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The V-Strom notice says the stator coil charge may be reduced due to insufficient insulation material around the internal wiring.

This could become affected by engine heat, causing the battery to go flat.

Owners should click here to find out if their VIN number is listed as one of the affected bikes.

Scooters recalled

The scooter issue isn’t urgent as the throttle could stick in extremely cold conditions. Given the current heatwave gripping most of the country, you should have plenty of time to get your scooter fixed.

Suzuki UK110

The recall notice says the waterproof boots of the throttle cable may deteriorate and allow water to penetrate.

“This may cause the throttle cable to freeze under low temperatures, which may prevent the rider from increasing or decreasing the speed of the motorcycle,” the notice says.

Owners of these motorcycles and scooters should contact their nearest authorised Suzuki dealership to arrange an inspection and free repair.

Click here to see if your VIN number is included.


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

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 motorcycles or scooters that should be recalled, contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502.

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




New Zealand 


The post Suzuki recalls 650 V-Strom and scooters appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Harley Milwaukee Eight engine goes black

Fri, 10/02/2017 - 12:00pm

Harley-Davidson has announced its first black Milwaukee Eight engine in the new Road King Special bagger and will no doubt shoehorn it into more bikes soon.

HD boss Matt Levatich this week said they would introduce 50 new models in the next five years and this is the first.

Although this is only a variant of an existing model, Matt did say they would venture into new niche areas.

That leaves 49 “new models” to go and we can expect many to include the new eight-valve SOHC balanced Milwaukee Eight (M8) engine.

The next models should be the Dyna and Softail.

Meanwhile, the Road King Special arrives in late April with the 107-cube (1750cc) M8 at $34,995 ride away in Australia and $37,995 ride away in New Zealand.

Road King Special goes black 

Apart from the blacked-out M8 V-twin, all the usual chrome is swapped out for matte or gloss black. That includes the instrument cluster, forks, wheels, engine bars, headlamp, mini ape bars and exhaust pipes.

If it was chrome before, it’s black now. And for many people black isn’t even dark enough!

This is also Harley’s first attempt at following the custom bagger trend we first saw in a Milwaukee bike show in 2014 and that Victory mimicked in 2015 with its Magnum.

Instead of a faired bike, Harley has chosen the convertible Road King with quick-release windscreen.

However, they have dropped the windscreen and added $1000 to the price tag.

In true custom bagger style, Harley increased the front wheel size from 17 inches to 19 and stretched the saddlebags to partially cover the pipes.

We love the Road King for its two-up touring abilities. Read our review here. However, this is more of a styling exercise and we don’t expect steering to be as sharp with that bigger front wheel or that it will be as comfortable for the pillion.

The rear seat has been sloped down at the back for style, not comfort, and the rear suspension has been shortened from 76mm of travel to just 55mm.

However, lean angle is only reduce by one degree on the left to 31 degrees.

The Road King Special will be available in four colour options: Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Hot Rod Red Flake Hard Candy Custom and Olive Gold.

The post Harley Milwaukee Eight engine goes black appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Sena releases Cavalry half motorcycle helmet

Fri, 10/02/2017 - 6:00am

Bluetooth experts have produced a Cavalry half helmet with built-in communicator mainly for the American cruiser market.

There is no word on its availability yet in Australia through Sena distributors Earmold.

Earmold owner Aaron Dalle-Molle says the Cavalry is available for sale in the US at $349.

“So I’d be betting on late October before we see it and it depends on demand,” he says.  “I can’t see a big demand here for it.”

Half helmets are much more popular in the USA where several states don’t even require a helmet.

The new Sena Cavalry Helmet is so far only DOT approved and will be available in the US in matte black and glossy black, in sizes XS-XXL.

The discreet, waterproof Bluetooth 4.1 unit on the helmet will allow you to listen to music from a smartphone or the incorporated FM radio, answer phone calls, hear GPS directions and talk on the intercom with four riding mates up to 900m away.

Cavalry audio quality

Its built-in microphone is located above the forehead, not as a boom mic sitting in front of your mouth. That may look neater, but we’re not sure how effective that would be at high speeds.

We also don’t know how effective the HD quality speakers are because they don’t sit next to your ears. They are located above them in the helmet. Hopefully they are loud enough.

Mic and speakers are located in the helmet

The unit features Sena’s Advanced Noise Control technology which they say will reduce wind noise and improve volume control.

There are also optional ear buds to reduce background noise and improve audio quality.

You can share your music with others in your riding group and it features voice prompt control

Cavalry is firmware upgradable, comes with a two-year warranty and there is an iOS and Android app to control the unit.

Charging time is three hours from flat with 10 hours of talk time from the li-ion battery,

As for the Cavalry helmet structure, it has a composite fibreglass outer shell, removable peak visor and double D-ring chin strap.

The post Sena releases Cavalry half motorcycle helmet appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Hedon launches full-face Heroine helmet

Thu, 09/02/2017 - 5:00pm

Exclusive European helmet brand Hedon will soon launch their first full-face model, the Heroine, in Australia.

Hedon helmets are now being distributed in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia by Perth company, The Design Collective.

Spokesman Chris Burke says they will hold an official launch of the brand and Heroine helmet in Sydney in April.

“We are excited to be able to represent such a uniquely designed handmade helmet with a true focus on comfort, safety and fine detail,” he says.

Hedon is one of several new helmet brands Australians we are now seeing on our shelves since the laws were changed to allow Euro-approved helmets to be sold and used here.

It is one of the more exclusive brands of helmet with the name derived from “headonism” or the relentless pursuit of pleasure.

Hedon was started in 2011 by designers Lindsay and Reginald in London. They use exotic materials blended with traditional craftsmanship and modern technology.

Hedon Heroine Classic and Racer Hedon Classic

The new Heroine is an example of this, featuring fine calf leather, brass fittings, Merlin anti-bacterial fabric lining and a lightweight shell made of carbonfibre and fibreglass.

Despite its modern construction, it is a retro 1960s style.

They come in two models, Classic and Racer.

The Classic has no visor, so you can wear them with goggles and/or snap-on visor accessories.

Hedon Heroine Racer

The Racer has a flat anti-fog visor in a choice of three colours that closes down outside a wide-aperture opening.

They both feature three-channel ventilation.

Prices for Hedon helmets vary. The Hedonist open face starts at $499 and the Epicurist open face is $585. The new Heroine Classic will be $849 and the Racer $1100. Those are about the same prices as in the UK.

They might seem expensive, but the superior quality is evident when you touch them.

I first saw their open-face helmets last year at the hipster Bike Shed in London’s now-trendy Shoreditch area.

Hedon helmets in the Bike Shed, London

They feel light, yet sturdy, and the finish of the shell and lining are superb. Like no other helmet I have experienced.

I tried on one and it felt extremely comfortable and quiet for an open-face helmet. It also has a low profile so you don’t look like Mr Potatohead.

We have not tested them yet, but look forward to attending the Australian launch of the Heroine in April.

Stay tuned for more details.

Hedon Australian pricing
  • Hedonist $499
  • Epicuris $585
  • Heroine Classic $849 
  • Heroine Racer $1100
  • Hedonist Shield or Bubble visor $79 
  • Epicurist visor $115 
  • Hannibal Mask $215 

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We want Super Hooligan Racing

Thu, 09/02/2017 - 1:00pm

Roland Sands Design Super Hooligan flat track racing is this year touring around the USA with their custom Indian Scout Sixty bikes.

And if Indian Motorcycle Australia country brand manager Peter Harvey has his way, the series will come to Australia.

He says the series with modified Scout Sixty motorcycles is a “bit of fun”.

It is believed they are investigating the possibility of bringing the heavily modified race bikes to Australia.

We asked Peter for an update, but he wouldn’t comment further.

If you’re reading this, Pete, we would love to see them put on a racing display at the Moto Expo this year or next in Sydney this year or Brisbane and/or Melbourne next year.

Racing support

Indian Motorcycle seems keen on being involved in racing in Australia and recently sponsored their Brisbane shop mechanic Ricky Rice in the Troy Bayliss Classic in Taree.

Ricky (left) with the Brisbane Indian Motorcycle store team at the Troy Bayliss Classic

Peter says the sponsorship was an extension of the Indian brand’s long history and success in flat-track racing.

Super Hooligan series

RSD in LA developed its flat track racing bikes for Super Hooligan display races in Las Vegas last year.

They were so successful, Indian and RSD are taking the series this year to The One Show in Portland, Oregon (February 14), then to Harley-Davidson heartland at Mama Tried in Milwaukee (February 19-21), Daytona Bike Week, March 19, at IV Flat Track Del Mar and April 8 at the Hand Built Show in Austin, Texas.

“We had a gas racing the Scout Super Hooligans in Las Vegas, so we really wanted to hit the road and do some more, similar events with riders from around the country,” says Roland.

“At the same time, Indian Motorcycle said it was excited about putting the Scouts on the track, so it was a natural fit to help promote these Hooligan events where we could ride!”

Flat Track series

Meanwhile, Harley and Indian face off in the 2017 American Flat Track (ATF) racing series starting at Bike Week, both with special factory-built racers that are not yet available to the public.

The Indian FTR750 and Harley XG750R are awesome machines with awesome speed and thunder that we would also love to see racing here in Australia.

We asked Harley-Davidson Australia about the prospect of a racing series or even a demo race.

They also said “no comment” but suggested it may be considered.

Production versions

With Harley boss Matt Levatich recently promising 50 new models in the next five years, there is every likelihood that a production version of the XG750R will be available.

It would make a good replacement for the V-Rod range which is being terminated this year.

An Indian FTR750 production bike would also go a long way to placating Polaris loyalists still reeling from the announcement that Victory Motorcycles has ceased production.

The post We want Super Hooligan Racing appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Female cop bike racer pushes training

Thu, 09/02/2017 - 6:00am

A female detective who only started riding three years ago and has already won a national road racing championship hopes to become the fastest woman in Australia.

Detective Sergeant Ashlee De Bakker of Sydney says she got into racing “by accident”.

“I only started riding in September 2014,” Ashlee says.

“On one occasion I ran wide and nearly ran into a rock face. I thought to myself ‘if I don’t get some training I’ll die’.

“So I booked myself into a motoDNA course and fell in love with it.”

Before she knew it, Ashlee was signing up for more and more track days and coaching.

“I did every track day I could get my hands on and had one-on-one coaching with (superbike racer and World Endurance Champion) Alex Cudlin.”

At one of the motoDNA days, she met Kawasaki Factory Team owner Kelvin Reilly who eventually built her first race bike, a Kawasaki Ninja 300. It was Reilly who encouraged her to give racing a try.

“I really jumped in at the deep end,” she says.

“I had one race in the 300s, crashed, broke my pelvis and came back on a superbike.”

Ashlee has since won two D grade championships in the Formula Oz category of the Australian Formula Extreme Championships (AFX) Australasian Superbike Championship (ASC) on her Kawasaki ZX-10R.

Female racers

“My ultimate ambition is to be the first woman on the podium in a 1000cc superbike race and become the fastest woman in Australia.

“But there is a lot of work to put in between now and then.”

She says she knows of few other females racers, especially at a national level.

“We’re all on equal terms out there and no quarter is given I can assure you,” she says.

“Women might have a little bit more finesse and ride smarter, but we’re not as aggressive; that’s the hard part.

“It’s taken me a while to get my head into the space to race aggressively. I’d get up into the front group and find it’s pretty rough in the first part of the race and give way to other riders.

“But now I think ‘get out of my way, it’s my track’!”

Ashlee says she has never received any negative comments from her male racing opponents.

“Although some of them get a ribbing by the other guys if I beat them,” she says.

“I think it’s fun and I tease them as well. But they are all very supportive. My experience has been positive; nothing negative has ever been said to me. They are all very encouraging.

“I’ve been lining up on the grid and they will give me a backslap or thumbs up as they ride past.

“I speak to them a lot outside of racing and they always offer support, advice and contacts.

Words of advice

Ashlee also has some words of support and advice for other novice and female riders.

“The key thing is I had some really good riders teaching me and lots of training early on before falling into any bad habits,” she says.

“I’m a big advocate of training. Rider training should be a lifelong commitment. I think it should be a licensing requirement to do more training.

“I’ve been to a lot of horrible motorcycle accidents and have seen a lot of riders killed and that’s the thing that made me get some training.”

She also encourages other women to try racing as an “outlet”.

“The hardest part is taking that first step, having the courage to race that first time.  I was terrified. But I knew that if I didn’t do it, I’d regret it for the rest of my life. It may not be about wining initially, but participation is key. We all have our own goals or milestones,” she says.

“If my presence on the track encourages other girls to have a serious go, that’s meant something for women in motorsport. It’s time that we made our mark.”

Unlike many racers who don’t ride on the road because they think it is too dangerous, Ashlee still does.

“I still ride, but I do it for the social aspect, not for the buzz,” she says.

“Riders all speak a common language and it is easy to strike up a conversation with another rider.

“I ride for the places it takes you and the people you meet rather than the thrill on the road. If you want thrills, do a track day.

“The closest friends I’ve made are those who I meet at the track. You extend your circle of friends and also stay safe.”

Fundraising and sponsorship

In 2016, Ashlee helped raise funds for Bear Cottage at the Westmead Children’s Hospital and will be involved in larger charity projects this year.

“Motorcyclists love a great cause and are always eager to be involved in fundraising. It speaks volumes about the community as a whole,” she says.

She will contest the 2017 Australasian Superbike Championship (ASC) in the superbike category as a privateer racer, but needs sponsorship support. To help, check out her website.

“Racing is not a sport for those with tight purse strings,” she says. “It has been financially difficult and requires sacrifices on my part. But that’s what you do to chase your dreams.”

Ashlee wishes to thank and acknowledge her sponsors JPM Cranes, BC Performance and MCA Motorcycle Accessories Supermarket and Ricondi Leathers.  

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KTM invests in HUD helmet technology

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 5:00pm

KTM appears to be joining BMW in pushing head-up display (HUD) helmet technology that integrates with their bikes and other motorists.

The company’s parent, Pierer Industry AG, has invested in American HUD company Nuviz, the first to offer an aftermarket HUD accessory.

The funds will help the company release their device, the Nuviz-770, which includes connected riding technology that warns of and talks to other vehicles.


Last year BMW announced they were developing a HUD helmet for production in the next few years.

They say it will not only display vital information such as GPS directions, speed and various motorcycle functions on a screen in the rider’s periphery, but also real-time information for future vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

HUD technology has been around for a long time in fighter jets, then luxury cars and soon as an aftermarket device so riders don’t have to take their eyes off the road to see important information.

A rider’s view with HUD technology

The first helmet with integrated HUD was the crowd-funded Skully which went belly-up after the founders allegedly squandered the millions in funding on fast cars and women.

There has been talk of other HUD helmets from Sena, the Encephalon from Nand Logic and a Russian prototype, but none has yet hit the market.

Now it appears KTM and Husqvarna may also develop a HUD helmet with Nuviz help.

At the moment, KTM funds will help launch the latest Nuviz aftermarket device, but there is every likelihood KTM will want to make their own helmet with connectivity to its bikes and other motorists on the road.

The move toward this type of technology is gaining pace with German techno giant Bosch recently releasing a video of how they see the safe future of motorcycling.

The video features the rider on a BMW so we expect the two German companies have been working closely on this technology.

Nuviz revived

Nuviz had raised more than $200,000 through crowdfunding to release their device in 2014, but refunded the money when they couldn’t meet their target.

They now have $5.4m in corporate (KTM), private and even Finnish government funding.

Their device will attach to the outside of a helmet and show vital information on a transparent display screen in the right corner of their field of view.

It also has a built-in camera so riders can take photos or videos.

It is expected to cost between US$650-$700 (about A$850-$920) when it released early this year.


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BMW confirms 2017 models and prices

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 1:00pm

BMW Motorrad Australia confirms they will introduce a host of new models in 2017 including the K 1600 B (pictured), three more R nineT variants and two learner-approved models.

The Bavarian company says 2017 will feature their widest range of new motorcycles in their 101-year history.

The new models include R nineT derivatives Pure, Racer and Urban G/S, the G 310 R and GS, and the K 1600 bagger which was especially produced for the American market.

However, BMW Motorrad Australia now releases price information and approximate arrival times for most of the new models which confirms the bagger is included in our range from September.

The R nineT variants arrive in the next few months but there is no time announced yet for the G 310 models.

BMW Motorrad Australia

2017 Model and Price List




S 1000 RR (3 variants)

$21,990 – $26,930

R 1200 RS (2 variants)

$23,100 – $25,320


F 800 GT

$16,300 – $18,290

R 1200 RT


K 1600 GT

$36,490 – $38,490

K 1600 GTL – Launch May (2 variants)

$37,990 – $40,490

K 1600 B – Launch September



G 310 R – Launch TBA

$5,790 – $5,865

F 800 R

$12,990 – $15,115

S 1000 R (2 variants)

$19,390 – $24,540

R 1200 R (3 variants)

$22,100 – $24,530


R nineT

$22,490 – $24,315

R nineT Pure – Launch March

$17,690 – $21,445

R nineT Racer – Launch March

$19,150 – $22,655

R nineT Scrambler

$18,750 – $22,505

R nineT Urban G/S – Launch May

$18,750 – $22,255


G 310 GS – Launch TBA


F 700 GS

$12,890 – $14,655

F 800 GS

$16,940 – $18,805

F 800 GS Adventure

$18,650 – $20,275

S 1000 XR

$22,190 – $27,065

R 1200 GS – From March arrival (4 variants)

$21,850 – $28,405

R 1200 GS Adventure (2 variants)

$24,890 – $30,160

Urban Mobility (scooters)

C 650 Sport

$14,150 – $15,875

C 650 GT

$14,990 – $16,965

The BMW Motorrad Australia price list comes ahead of a special media day in Melbourne tomorrow (February 9, 2017) to update both car and motorcycle journalists on their full range.

It is also an opportunity for BMW executives to talk about the Connected Ride technology and to boast about their sixth consecutive record sales year with global sales up 5.9% to 145,032.

BMW confirms its biggest growth was in Asia, off a small base, with China up 52.7% to 4580 and Thailand up 42.1% to 1819. Europe was their biggest market and US sales were their second best to date with 13,730 bikes sold.

In Australia, sales increased 1.3% with their motorcycles actually down 0.7% or 23 bikes to 3178. They were surprisingly buoyed by their scooters which bucked the -11% market trend to ride 76 to 123.

However, it followed massive years in 2014/15 when motorcycle sales were up 25.7% and 21.3% while their maxi-scooter sales dropped 32.3% and 14.9%.

The company confirms its sales success is due largely to its ever-expanding range of new models.

While the R 1200 GS is consistently their top-seller, their biggest growth in the past few years has been in the R nineT range introduced in 2014.

This year there are five variants: R nineT, R nineT Pure, R nineT Urban G/S, R nineT Racer, and R nineT Scrambler.

We will be riding the Scrambler at the BMW Range Day. Stay tuned for a review.

However, we predict their biggest growth in 2017, at least in Australia, will come from the new G 310 R and GS models.

LAMS bikes are selling like crazy in Australia and these two models should considerably lift BMW’s sales here.

BMW says they may also have a G 310 R available for us to ride!

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Around the world on a Vespa scooter

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 6:00am

While many riders wish they could ride around the world on a motorcycle, there are few that would consider doing it two-up on a Vespa scooter!

But that’s exactly what Greek couple Alexandra and Stergios are doing on their Around the World on a Vespa trip.

Since 2013, their laden 2003-model PX200 Vespa scooter has already been throughout Africa and most of South America on their way around the world.

But it didn’t start out that way.

The couple didn’t know each other when they left their economically beleaguered country.

“But we had something in common: the socio-economic crisis which affected our lives and suffocated us,” Stergios says.

He left Greece in October 2013 and traveled to Italy, Morocco and down through most of Africa before meeting up with Alexandra.

“I met Stergios while we were both in the Democratic Republic of Congo and we met again after three months later in Johannesburg – always by coincidence,” Alexandra says.

“I wouldn’t miss the opportunity again. I jumped on the Vespa and here I am, part of the team!”

Stergios says the Vespa scooter coped well with their two-up ‘test-ride’ in South Africa and Lesotho.

Roadside maintenance in Africa

“The Vespa made it with all the weight and we also discovered that we make a good team, so from that day back in December 2014, we’ve been traveling together,” he says.

They crossed the Atlantic to South America and when we got in touch with them they had travelled through Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Brazil.

So far, they have done about 60,000km together on the little Vespa scooter which has clicked over 180,000km in total.

“Our round-the-world journey is a lifetime project and we’ve promised not to stop until we’ve been to every corner of our planet,” says Stergios.

“Traveling was something I loved and before I left for the trip, I had tested myself and the bike in various trips around Europe.

“The decision to leave in that particular period was taken after many conversations on the socioeconomic situation in Greece and in southern Europe. I always had in mind doing a big journey, something crazy that would take me away from the Greek miserable reality.

“I was affected by unemployment and I had become sensitive on social matters. So, it was important to me to see for myself how the rest of the world live and perceive life.”

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Minister rejects lane filtering updates

Tue, 07/02/2017 - 5:00pm

Two years after lane filtering was introduced in Queensland by the previous government the current Minister still rejects amendments as more riders call for uniform national rules.

The Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland has asked the Minister to change the Queensland-only filtering rule that prevents riders using the breakdown lane or left verge on some occasions. It’s referred to as “edge filtering” and it is only permitted in Queensland, although riders would like to see it introduced in the states.

It is only permitted on roads posted at 90km/h or above. However, when these arterial roads jam with traffic and it is becomes more important for riders to edge filter, electronic speed signs change to a lower speed making edge filtering illegal.

Queensland Police confirm that, in those situations, it is illegal and they have fined riders.

Fine and crash stats

We asked police and relevant departments in each state/territory (Queensland, NSW, Victoria and ACT) where lane filtering is allowed for figures on lane filtering crashes and fines for illegal filtering.

They say figures for crashes are not available because lane filtering is not recorded as an attribute.

We are still waiting on fine figures, but in the first year Queensland’s Main Roads reports 681 infringements issued for motorcycles unlawfully lane filtering. There was no breakdown on which offence they committed (edge filtering, forward of the stop line, faster than 30km/h, etc).

Before lane filtering, fines were about $150 for passing on the left or $75 for failure to stay in your lane. Now fines vary between states but are more than $300 and three demerit points.

Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says they are pleased with the lane filtering road rules implemented by the previous government.

“Positive feedback has been received from motorbike riders and groups,” he says.

Riders seek amendments

However, MRAQ president Chris Mearns says they are not happy with the edge filtering rule anomaly.

MRAQ president Chris Mearns

“The current inclusion as written has always been a mystery to the MRAQ as to why and how it was arrived at and to date no-one has been able to satisfactorily explain why it is written as it is which did not seem to take account of the ever expanding role out of digitally alterable signage,” Chris says.

The Minister says that when the speed limit reduces on an electronic sign, “it is often because of a traffic incident or road works”. 

“Road workers, emergency services personnel and/or other vehicle occupants may be vulnerable on the road shoulder or emergency stopping lane if edge filtering in these conditions was introduced,” he says. 

“Even when the speed limit is reduced, motorcyclists are still able to lane filter down the middle.”

Forward stop lines Advanced motorcycle stop lane in Spain

There have also been calls among riders for a forward stop line at intersections as used in many European and Asian cities.

It allows riders to gather safe.

However, the Minister also rejected that change to the rules.

“The design of intersections considers many safety factors to ensure the safety of road users,” he says.

“Bicycle storage areas have been installed at many intersections across the state and motorbike riders are permitted to filter through traffic and make use of these areas which are placed in front of existing stop lines.”

Uniform lane filtering rules

There have also been calls for uniform filtering rules across state boundaries so riders aren’t caught out by differences.

South Australian riders group, Ride to Review (RTR), has drafted a Lane Filtering Submission which includes the use of bus lanes. The submission is a solid model for all states.

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Has Easy Rider sold out for a luxury car?

Tue, 07/02/2017 - 10:52am

Could it be that the hardtail chopper-riding hippy of Easy Rider fame, Peter Fonda, has sold out to a German luxury car brand?

The following advertisement was featured during the televising of the annual Super Bow football finals in the US.

It not only reprises Peter’s Captain America leather jacket from the cult 1969 film, but also the desert biker saloon scene from the satirical 2007 film, Wild Hogs, in which he also played a cameo role.

The ad, produced by the Coen Brothers, is absolutely hilarious as it pokes fun at ageing bikies with arthritis who get parked in by Peter’s wild new ride, an AMG GT Roadster .

It’s a far cry from this 1973 safety film starring Peter and legendary stuntman Evel Knievel.

Despite its unintentional hilarity with the passing years, it is still surprisingly relevant.

While the film doesn’t endorse lane filtering or splitting, most of the information supplied is still as relevant today as it was in the 1970s when the film was produced.

That is not to say that you will agree wth everything they say; for example that you should wear a white helmet to be more visible.

However, it’s an entertaining 17-minute video that features a segment with Evel.

Evel Knievel

We particularly love the reference to defensive motorcyclists treating all drivers as either “asleep, blind or drunk”.

There is also some great LA motorcycle police synchronised riding. It’s fascinating to watch, but it doesn’t have much to do with the message about how police cops “riding by the book” are actually safer than police in patrol cars. They quote the statistic of 18 accidents per million miles on police bikes compared with 27 in patrol cars.

There is also a true/false quiz to test your motorcycle knowledge.

And it finishes with a cringe-worthy at message from Mr Easy Rider himself: “Have a good trip and don’t ride too easy.”

Peter Fonda on Captain America in Easy Rider

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Crows Nest joins motorcycle friendly towns

Tue, 07/02/2017 - 6:00am

Crows Nest in South East Queensland is the fourth Australian town to declare itself a motorcycle friendly town with more towns including Armidale soon expected to join their ranks.

And why not! Queensland Tourism estimates riders spend up to $160 a day in local communities on food, fuel, drinks, etc, compared with $40 spent by grey nomads in self-contained caravans.

The first Motorcycle Friendly Town was Bicheno in Tasmania, followed by Texas, SEQ, and last December Wauchope on the Oxley Highway joined the welcoming trend.

Texas Motorcycle Friendly Town launch

There currently is no official process to declare a town motorcycle friendly as there is with becoming RV Friendly.

Instead, it just requires the will of the local people to welcome riders, put up some signs, add some motorcycle parking bays and produce tourist information brochures and maps of suitable regional routes. Anything else is a bonus.

And that’s what the people of Crows Nest have done.

I did the following interview with Channel Seven Toowoomba.

Crows Nest visit

We also visited the tidy town at the weekend to reacquaint ourselves and meet up with local riders Ron Anderson, Paul Pelling, Adrian Allen and Body Dunford who are members of the Crows Nest Motorcycle Friendly Town Committee.

They showed us around a couple of scenic routes before heading to the town.

As we stepped off our loud motorcycles in the centre of Crows Nest, an elderly man genuinely greeted us with, “Welcome to Crows Nest; where are you from?” How friendly is that!

Welcoming committee at Ravensbourne lookout

Ron says the idea started when he was approached by Tourist and Progress Association member Grahame Rogers who recognised the tourist potential of riders visiting the town.

“We get up to 100 riders a day on the weekends coming through town,” says Ron who took the photos here.

“There are so many great riding roads around here. Many come up the range on the Hampton Rd past beautiful Ravensborne and when they get to the T intersection with the highway, they turn left towards Toowoomba.

“We want Main Roads to put in a sign encouraging riders to turn right to our motorcycle friendly town.”

Ron says local businesses are “on board and trying hard” and Toowoomba Regional Council is offering support for brochures and local signs.

They also have the support of their local State Member, Deb Frecklington, who grew up riding bikes on her farm.

“I would really like to congratulate the Crows Nest and District Tourist and Progress Association for having the foresight and initiative to establish Crows Nest as a Motorcycle Friendly Town,” she says.

“It’s great not only for the township itself, but also for the surrounding districts with some terrific rides taking in countryside to the north and west including destinations like Kingaroy, the Bunya Mountains and Maidenwell areas.”

Where is Crows Nest?

Crows Nest is about 40km north of Toowoomba on the New England Highway.

“We are in the middle of five crossings of the Great Dividing Range which are all terrific motorcycle routes, but there are so many more,” says Boyd.

The group has already produced one brochure of recommended tarred routes which includes the nearby Bunya Mountains, Blackbutt Range and south to the Murphy’s Creek, Flagstone Creek and Heifer Creek.

It includes detailed route descriptions, links to on-line maps and downloadable GPS waypoints so you can’t get lost.

They are also hoping to produce a second brochure suggesting routes for adventure riders which will include The Bluff ascent from Toogoolawah, Seventeen Mile Rd from Ravensbourne to Helidon, Fifteen Mile Rd, and many others through regional forests.

Crows Nest sits on the top of the Great Dividing Range with breathtaking views of the Brisbane Valley at Ravensbourne, the Cressbrook and Perseverance dams, plenty of fresh-scented forests, picturesque waterfalls and beautiful sweeping views of the Darling Downs.

The town itself features several cafes, restaurants, antique shops, craft shops and a seven-day-a-week service station

Ron says riders can base themselves in Crows Nest overnight and do several of the regional routes with contrasting rides.

“There’s the tar ranges of Cooyar, Blackbutt, Bunyas, Hampton and more for the sports bike riders, some great sweeping roads on the Downs and challenging dirt roads and forestry tracks for the adventure riders,” he says.

Places to stay

Ron points out that there is accommodation available to suit riders’ all budgets including $50 a night for a three-bed room at the Grand Old Crow which is registered a Motorcycle friendly Pub, a caravan park with camping facilities and cabins, a motel and even $200-a-night resort for couples.

Perseverance Dam

He says motorcycle clubs can also arrange for the showgrounds to be opened for camping.

Boyd says they get riders from all over SEQ, but also interstate riders heading north on the New England Highway for winter and North Queensland riders heading south for summer.

Beautiful range views Official launch invitation

An official launch for the Motorcycle Friendly Town will be held on March 5 so circle that on your old-fashioned wall calendar or save the date on your smartphone calendar.

Ron and Boyd are helping to organise the event and plan to include a group ride around the area.

They have invited riders from far and wide to attend. More details will be published here closer to the event.

Plenty of adventure riding as well More Motorcycle Friendly Towns

Do you know of any other towns moving toward declaring themselves motorcycle friendly?

What are you doing to help them become motorcycle friendly?

Leave your comments below.

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What will the new Jawa motorcycle look like?

Mon, 06/02/2017 - 5:00pm

Indian tractor manufacturer Mahindra has bought BSA and Jawa and plans to revive the brands, but we’re not sure the latter will look like this concept.

It was built by Urban Motor of Berlin and unveiled at the annual Glemseck motorcycle festival in Stuttgart where it took part in their inaugural Essence sprint.

Jawa 350 by Urban Motors

Their minimalist concept bike is based on a 1964 Jawa 350 two-stroke.

There is no word yet from Mahindra about what their bikes will look like or how they are powered.

However, they may not revive two-stroke engines as they are banned in most places because of emissions regulations.

Jawa 350 two-stroke

Mahindra has said it plans to build BSAs for the global market, but will only build Jawa motorcycles for the domestic market.

The company began in 1929 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and exported its mainly 350cc models to more than 120 countries. They also produced 650cc models including a Dakar version

The Czech bike brand was famed in speedway, dirt track and ice racing, and was introduced to India in the ‘50s.

While they are a rare site these days except at historic motorcycle meetings, they are still quite common in Cuba where there are plenty of old Eastern Bloc motorcycles and cars. 

Jawa in Santiago de Cuba

While we are fascinated with how the Czech brand will be revived by Mahindra, we don’t expect it will look anything like this radical Berlin custom.

We’d prefer they look more like this sketch of a custom Californian 351 by Italian motorcycle designer Oberdan Bezzi.

Jawa Californian 351

We’d love to see this brand shared around the world and believe there is a lot of potential given the move toward smaller-capacity motorcycles.

There is also hope for a return of two-stroke engines with modern direct injection making them even more efficient, and more importantly, cleaner!

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Woman driver faces rider murder charge

Mon, 06/02/2017 - 11:41am

A woman charged with the murder of motorcycle rider Trevor Moran in a January road crash has been refused bail and sent to the mental health of the Sydney jail.

Vanessa Fraser, 47, did not appear at the bail hearing in Lismore Local Court last week as she was on her way to the Sydney jail.

She has been remanded in custody to appear, possibly via video link, on the murder charge on April 4, 2017.

Trevor, a 61-year-old Tweed Heads father of three, died after his motorcycle collided on January 6 with a white Ford Falcon station wagon driven by Ms Fraser, police will allege.

Trevor was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics but died at the crash scene.

He was an active and well-liked member of the Tweed Heads Motor Cycle Enthusiast Club.

Trevor Moran

Police are still urging witnesses to the incident to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

It is unusual that a murder charge is being pursued over a road accident.

The matter is now “sub judice” which means it is before the courts and public discussion is not permitted.

However, in the interests of the motorcycle community, we will continue to follow this murder case.

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Bosch video shows future of motorcycling

Mon, 06/02/2017 - 6:00am


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