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Updated: 27 min 49 sec ago

BMW expands with short GS Tours

Wed, 05/04/2017 - 6:00am

BMW Motorrad Australia is extending its safari program this year by adding shorter two- to four-day GS Tours, including a ride across the Simpson Desert.

GS Tours are designed by BMW Safari to target riders who have limited time and can’t do the week-long GS and TS Safaris that the company has run since 1994.

They will also be limited to a smaller number of riders than the 100-odd who attend safaris.

GS Tours events

The first GS Tours event, which is already sold out, launches from Merrijig at the base of Mt Buller through to Bright, showcasing the stunning Victorian High Country.

The next two GS Tours events are based at Mt Seaview on the mid-north coast of NSW.

Mt Seaview GS Tour river bed

They will be held on May 25-26 and May 27-29 with an optional off-road training course.

Click here for bookings or visit

The four-day GS Tours Simpson Desert Crossing from Alice Springs to Birdsville from June 13-16 is “strictly limited” and riders will require a “high level of off-road riding experience”.

Simpson dunes

The tour is designed for dedicated adventure riders eager to watch the iconic Finke Desert Race.

Click here for bookings

BMW Motorrad Australia is also launching a new ‘Bring a Buddy programme’ where GS riders can bring a mate who rides another brand.

General manager Andreas Lundgren says the idea is to introduce new riders to the BMW adventure scene.

Safari bookings BMW GS Safari

Meanwhile the 2017 TS, GS, and GS Enduro safaris are now taking bookings.

The GS Enduro Safari heads to Cape York from August 5-12. Click here for bookings.

For the first time in 23 years of safaris, the combined GS and TS Safari heads to Western Australia. 

2016 BMW TS Safari

The event starts in Perth on October 9 with TS riders taking the bitumen and GS riders choosing alternate dirt routes.

It’s been a long time since a safari combined the road and dirt bikes.

Bookings open on June 20, 2017.

The post BMW expands with short GS Tours appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

SlimBuds bike earphones add comfort

Wed, 05/04/2017 - 5:00am

New SlimBuds Bluetooth motorcycle earphones are claimed to be the most comfortable and secure with an app that dampens wind noise, but highlights important sounds for safety.

Mechanical engineer Alperen Topay came up with the idea of slim-fitting earphones while on his daily motorcycle commute to work as an R&D engineer at one of Europe’s largest TV and home appliance manufacturers.

So he started the company EAOS in Philadelphia two years ago with other motorcycle riders to develop the product.

They launched a Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, aiming to raise just $30,000 to start production.

EAOS financial manager and fellow rider Cihan Bilgin said they were confident of raising the required capital and he was right. It took less than 24 hours! So they are now guaranteed to go into production.

“We believe this product will change the audio game for riders,” Cihan says.

“We use a different approach than traditional active noise-cancellation technology. Our earbuds feature passive noise isolation thus reducing wind noise and excessive engine noise making the ride more comfortable and less tiring.

“This allows for an uninterrupted listening experience.

“We complement this experience by providing smart software (called “EAOS co-pilot”) that filters the environment, and plays back important sounds directly into the earbuds.”

SlimBuds test

Cihan has offered Motorbike Writer a set of the earphones for beta testing, so we will report back soon on how they work.

We have used several different earphones with both active and passive noise cancelling and found all of them, including personally moulded units, become quite uncomfortable after several hours.

It appears these are made of a very light and soft material, yet they claim they will not become dislodged inside your helmet like many over-the-counter earphones.

They come with three different sizes of ear bud tips for a comfortable and firm fit.

Sound quality is claimed to be very good with one of the smallest and powerful sound drivers available, delivering deep bass and clear treble.

SlimBuds Bluetooth earphones

SlimBuds will sell for $US150 (about $A200) when they hit the market, but there will be a “serious discount” for the crowdfunding campaign, says Cihan.

SlimBuds work with iPhone and Android and you will have to use your phone in a cradle on the handlebars to access controls such as skip, answer calls, etc.

However, you can buy a wireless remote which can be conveniently placed on the handlebars costing $US89 (about $A118).

“But again we will be offering serious discount for that as well for the crowdfunding campaign,” Cihan says. 

Slimbuds handlebar remote

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Win an Angry Harley Roadster for the homeless

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

Angry Anderson will sign the tank of a Harley-Davidson Sportser 1200 Roadster being raffled as part of a Rockin’ 4 the Homeless event.

The raffle is part of a big rock concert festering Angry on May 6, 2017, in Redcliffe.

Raffle tickets can be bought at their website at $5 each or discounts on multiple purchases with a maximum of 10,000 tickets sold.

You can also buy tickets at the Redcliffe Sunday markets for the next three weeks where the Roadster will be on display.

Read our Roadster review Harley Roadster

The prize bike comes fully registered for Queensland and has Screamin Eagle pipes, lifetime HOG membership and a couple of other little bits from Morgan & Wacker. It’s value is around $21,000.

The money for the bike was entirely donated/gathered through One Agency Redcliffe event sponsorship and Morgan & Wacker provided a discount deal.

Picking up the Harley Roadster raffle prize from Morgan & Wacker

Raffle organiser Stephan Siegfried says “every cent” from the raffle goes directly to the Breakfast Club Redcliffe.

The community service has been running since 2003 and serves more than 900 meals a month to homeless people and those on low or fixed incomes who are struggling to make their money stretch, he says.

“They provide an awesome service to our local people in need,” he says.

“About 900 meals a month plus outreach services and everyone who helps is a volunteer; no wages, nothing. It’s a brilliant group with a fantastic energy.”

The fourth annual Rockin 4 the homeless concert is a huge event in Redcliffe with more than 20 bands over a full afternoon/evening.

Angry support

Angry’s band is headline act and they are helping to promote the event, Stephan says.

Angry Anderson

“They are angels,” he says.

“The moment I knew Angry was headlining was when the idea for a bike raffle came to me.

“When Angry knew what we were up to, things went to another level with his support. He always is happy to support a worthy cause and he’s been incredible, a true gentleman who understands and cares for battlers. He’s a good bloke.”

Event sponsors include MJ Ferguson.

The post Win an Angry Harley Roadster for the homeless appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Motorcycle jackets for the fashion-conscious

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 12:00pm

Motorcycle jackets don’t have to make you look like you’ve just set the fastest lap at Phillip Island or ridden around the world with Charley Boorman.

Blackbird Motorcycle Wear makes fashionable motorcycle jackets that offer all the abrasion and crash protection for the road, but can still be worn to a fancy restaurant. It’s the brainchild of former Sydney interior designer Belinda McPhee with the help of her three adult children (Belinda, 20, Eliza 17 and Sam 22) and husband Peter who all ride.

The brand has now been added to our expanding range of products on our Motorbike Writer shop.


“When we all started riding bikes my daughters and son couldn’t find anything they wanted to wear,” she says. “They just wanted a bike jacket that looked good like a normal jacket when they got off their bikes, not with racing stripes like most sportsbikes jackets have.”

Sam in leather jacket Motorcycle jackets

So Belinda started looking on the internet for manufacturers to make some motorcycle jackets to her designs, showed them to a few motorcycle shops and received a favourable response. “In my work as an interior designer I knew how to speak with wholesalers and how to get things made, so I eventually found places to make them to my designs,” she says. “I then showed them to a couple of shops, they liked them, said they’d buy them and it all started from there.”

The designs feature 1.3mm full-grain cowhide and CE-approved armour like many top-quality racing leathers but with designs that are more fashionable. She also makes fabric jackets and a combination denim/leather model, all with abrasion-resistant DuPont Kevlar lining. Belinda started with women’s jackets, but now also makes several men’s designs.

Peter in leather Family affair

She says she couldn’t have done it without input from her family. “I had ridden bikes when I was younger and I always loved motorbikes, so one school holidays when we weren’t doing anything we did a two-day riding course. It was so much fun,” she says.

Belinda rides a 1980 Honda CB400, Peter has a 1981 Yamaha XJ650 and there is also a scooter for the kids. “I was lucky everyone in the family liked riding as much as I did. It’s pretty unusual for a whole family to ride. There are women I know who are against letting their kids ride. Unfortunately for my kids there are few friends their age who are allowed to ride. Usually it’s only if they have parents who ride.”

The family business has really taken off over the past four years.

“The demand for our style of motorcycle clothing has grown dramatically during this time and our sales are doubling in each successive year,” Belinda says.

“We believe this can be attributed to the evolving tastes of motorcycle riders and their choice of bikes, and the demand for gear that is versatile and can be worn ‘on or off the bike’.”

Eliza in fur-collar jacket Catering for women

She says the women’s motorcycle clothing market is growing quickly, but is not yet being recognised by the industry. “It’s a bit of a Catch 22: Motorcycle shops don’t think there is much of a market in women’s gear so they don’t stock much. When I walk into a motorcycle shop no one serves me. They don’t think I am really interested in buying anything.”

Belinda believes women riders want fashion and protection in motorcycle jackets. “They want to think they look nice. They don’t want to put on something that looks like a raincoat and that is sometimes what motorcycle jackets are. But they need it to be practical too.”

New models Blackbird suede-look motorcycle jacket 

Belinda says her motorcycle jackets are constantly being developed with new models and better quality protection. “We are now using PU rubber which is thinner, softer, more comfortable yet more dense so it has better protection. Women want armour that is softer and smaller so they don’t look like we have big shoulders,” she says. The armour in the back, shoulders and elbows is also removable so you can take it out for off-the-bike fashion occasions.

Belinda says her lightweight cotton and denim motorcycle jackets are good for warmer months and are popular with younger riders, while older riders tend to prefer the leather models.

Blackbird also has some new products coming in shortly.

“They include stretch denim skinny jeans with kevlar across the seat, hips and knees for women, Nubuck vests with faux fur lining – great for an extra layer – and denim jackets with kevlar interwoven into the denim,” she says.

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Road rage driver gets 15 years’ jail

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 6:00am

The driver in this video who intentionally swerved to hit a motorcycle on a rural Texas road has been sentenced to 15 years in jail.

William Sam Crum, 68, has already spent a year-and-a-half in jail since his arrest.

Crum was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Luckily rider Eric Sanders received minor injuries, but his pillion, Debra Simpson, was hospitalised with a broken arm.

Crum had previously been convicted in 1994 for unauthorised use of a motor vehicle and in 2007 for reckless driving and making a “terroristic threat”. The threat was related to threatening to run little boys over with his car.

We’re glad that maniac is now in jail and off the road. Compare this Texas justice with the minimal fine a river got for an unsecured load hitting an Ipswich rider.

Benefits of a helmet camera

There are plenty of road ragers out there and this video clearly shows the safety and legal value of wearing a helmet camera.

Meanwhile, Victorian and South Australian police are still fining riders for non-compliant helmets if they attach a camera.

In February, Adelaide rider Erica Aria went to the Sturt Police Station to submit helmet camera video of drivers cutting him off in traffic.

However, he was surprised when he was instead given an official warning for an “illegal helmet camera”.

Read all about it here.

Eric Aria (Photo courtesy Channel 7)


While some may suggest a bike camera would do the same job, this second part of the Texas video provides evidence of Crum’s intention.

It shows the rider’s friend approaching the driver who can be heard to say “I don’t care”. Clearly he intended to purposely hit the motorcycle.

A bike-mounted camera would not have shown that.

While the rider should not have passed over double yellow lines, there is no need for drivers to take the law into their own hands and act so irresponsibly.

It is sheer luck that the rider and pillion did not fall under the wheels of the SUV following the road rage driver’s car and suffer greater, or even fatal, injuries.

Had the rider or pillion been killed, Crum would be facing a lot longer in jail.

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Ducati 40th raises funds for spinal service

Mon, 03/04/2017 - 5:00pm

The Ducati Owners Club of Victoria has celebrated their 40th anniversary by raising $32,750 for the Victorian Spinal Cord Service.

The funds were raised through the raffle of a Ducati Monster 1200 S worth $26,000 donated at cost price by Frasers and Mornington Ducati.

They also donated riding gear at a discounted rate as secondary prizes, says club president Garry Elphinstone.

“We are donating to the SCI as they often treat motorcyclists and are in need of some funds to upgrade facilities,” Garry says.

“This will allow them to upgrade equipment and facilities and support patients and families during difficult times.”

SCI spokeswoman Melissa Cramp says the donation will help the spinal patients in many ways.

“The funds would be used to purchase new equipment for our supported living (transitional) apartments,” she says.

“The remaining funds will be set aside for the Ward 3 North balcony area which is in much need of a facelift for the patients and families to enjoy. For this, the staff and patients at Austin Health are so grateful to DOCV and everyone that has supported this fundraising effort. You are truly making a difference and it is fantastic to have you one our team.”

The lucky prize winners were:

  • 1st Prize – Geoff Audsley, Elliminyt, Vic – Ducati Monster 1200S (pictured at top of page)
  • 2nd Prize – Allan Mill, Lawson, NSW, – $2,000 of motorcycle apparel
  • 3rd Prize – Angela Butler, Torquay, Vic – $1,000 Red Balloon Voucher
Ducati Club 40th

The Ducati Owners Club of Victoria has about 500 members, is one of the oldest in the world and is very active.

Garry says they organise daily, mid-week and weekend rides, two or three track days a year, barbecues and the annual Festival of Italian Motorcycles which is on this Sunday at the Piazza Italia in Carlton.

“I think last year we held 40 events over the year, including an eight-day tour of Tasmania.

Other special 40th Anniversary events include:
  • DOCV 40th Anniversary Book Launch (15 November)
  • Annual Dargo overnighter and black tie dinner (26-27 November)
  • 40th Anniversary Monster Raffle draw (20 December)

A range of merchandise is also available for members to show their support for the club’s 40th anniversary.

  • If you would like to promote your motorcycle club, organisation or charity event for free, contact us via email with photos and information.

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Driver fined for motorcycle mattress crash

Mon, 03/04/2017 - 3:04pm

A driver has been fined a measly $275 for an unsecured load after a mattress fell out of his ute and hit an Ipswich rider.

Aaron Wood is lucky to be alive after the incident last week (March 28, 2017), in the Clem 7 tunnel.

A police media spokesperson said the driver could be charged with “Fail to ensure load on private light vehicle complies with requirements” and face a $243 fine. 

However, Aaron says they told him the driver, who was located by CCTV footage, would only get a $275 fine for an unsecured load.

When Aaron hit the mattress at 80km/h, it caused an “endo” so severe he tore the grips off the bars of his Honda CBR1000RR.

The video above shows another motorcyclist going past just before the mattress flies off the back of the ute.

Had it come out earlier, it might have taken out two riders.

Luckily Aaron was not injured, but he says his fairing is broken and the airbrushed panels are ruined.

The mattress was lodged under the bike near the exhaust and began to smoulder before being pulled out.

Aaron has contacted solicitors to try to recoup the money from the driver.

The next driver behind Aaron stopped and helped him pull the mattress out of the bike. He was lucky not to be rear-ended.

“I have been riding for 20 years and never had something like this happen,” he says.

“I had luck on my side. I’m ok, not sure, depends on if he pays for my bike.”

Australian authorities receive tens of thousands of callouts a year to collect debris from our roads.

It includes household goods, building materials and green waste, causing road closures, disruptions, injuries and deaths.

Most vulnerable to these unsecured loads are motorcyclists.

Most riders have witnessed all sorts of things flying off the backs of trucks and pick-ups, but the worst culprits seem to be tradies.

Perhaps they are in a rush to get home or to the next job, but too many don’t secure their loads properly.

Take a look at the side of our freeways. They are littered with tradies’ hard hats, rubber boots, gloves and tools.

Other motorists to avoid are weekend gardeners taking their load to the dump in a hired trailer. They are not professional transport operators, so they don’t know how to secure a load properly. Give them a wide berth.

It’s not as if the police and authorities don’t care about unsecured loads.

Police frequently blitz for unsecured loads and the fines range from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the risk level of the spilt load.

However, a fine won’t help a rider recovering in hospital from hitting a loose load. Instead, it’s our responsibility to stay away from any vehicle with a loose load.

And if you see a dangerous load, report it to the police.

This video of an American rider crashing into a load that had fallen off the back of a boat trailer being pulled by an SUV is a lesson in never following vehicles with dodgy looking loads.

Rider Brendan Jankowski, 20, doesn’t seem to be following very closely, but it is close enough for him not to be able to avoid the load of rolled-up foam that falls off. He hits it square on and flips over.

Luckily, he only received minor injuries.

It’s a good lesson to be aware of trucks and pickups carrying loads secured only by ropes and ties.

The post Driver fined for motorcycle mattress crash appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Easter motorcycle safety messages

Mon, 03/04/2017 - 11:00am

The Easter school holidays have started in several states and there is usually a spike in road accidents as traffic volumes increase and riders have more time to go riding.

Rather than preaching about being safe and responsible, we’ve asked several motorcycle luminaries for their road safety tips and Easter messages.

Double demerit points

And remember, in NSW, ACT and Western Australia, double demerit points apply over Easter from April 13 to 25.

Do they apply to riders from other states? Read this!

Easter road safety message

2003 World Supersport champion and MotoGP winner Chris Vermeulen

I think any time of the year it’s important to be safe of the roads and to enjoy motorcycling but Easter is one of the busiest times of the year for all road users so we all need to take more care than normal, be safe and not use the road as a race track. The weather can be unpredictable this time of the year too so as always ride to the conditions. Happy Easter, enjoy your ride and don’t eat too much chocolate!

Motorcycle Riders’ Association of Queensland

The MRAQ encourages all those riders who will be using their motorcycles over the Easter period to enjoy the time spent but to ensure that the enjoyment does not cloud the necessary good judgement required.

There should be three main considerations particularly at any time when riders may be using their motorcycles for longer periods than they are normally used to.

  • Fatigue: will slow reaction time to situation that may require rapid response. Consider the the amount of time that you will be riding and ensure that you do not exceed your personal limit. Warning signs include body soreness, sore or dry eyes and a lack of mental alertness. Take a break, freshen up and relieve any stiff or sore muscles and joints before continuing and break any excessively long rides into manageable smaller sections.

  • Know your limits: Consider your personal limitations and ride within them. There are very fewMoto GP riders in the general population so always consider your own ability before taking on any ride and stay within these limits. Don’t exceed your own ability just to attempt to keep up with someone else who may have greater capabilities than you. Ride for enjoyment, not for endangerment.

  • Vehicle condition: Ensure your machinery is in good serviceable condition. Items that require particular attention include adequate tyre tread and pressure, correct oil and coolant levels, correctly adjusted drive chains or belts and proper brakes function, Look after your machine and it should get you there and back without problem.

Veteran journalist and videographer Mick Matheson of Phantom2Media

Mick and Anne

Easter brings a change in routine — a very long weekend away from the daily grind. What we never factor in is that the change in routine happens on the road as well as in our work schedule, which I reckon is why so many people don’t deal well with Easter rides. One mental tool will enable you to deal with both major differences between Easter traffic and regular weekend traffic: patience. 

Adopting a little Zen as you ride will help you keep you cool, calm approach to riding while drivers around you spiral out of control (hopefully not literally!). 

The more crowded roads make travel slower, so accept this as inevitable. The holiday is meant to be relaxing but when traffic conditions turn that notion on its head, some drivers lose the plot. Accept this as inevitable, too. From there you can keep the delays and the fools from spoiling your day, and the ride remains the enjoyable escape it should be.    

Oh, and one more thing: find the back roads and leave the busy highways to the rest of them. 

Steve Spalding, RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy

Steve Spalding

Motorcycle safety must remain a focus for everyone, not just in South East Queensland where many of Motorbikewriter’s readers get to enjoy our great roads and weather, but wherever you are. Whether riding for daily transport, commuting, as part of your work or just to get out and enjoy some great riding time over the Easter period keep safety top of mind. 

Far too many riders continue to push themselves too far on the road and end up in a situation that changes their lives. Of course there’s always incidents where others have done the wrong thing, but as riders we have to ride defensively and within our limitations. Ultimately we have to take the responsibility that regardless of road conditions, bad weather or the actions of other road users, we have to make sure our ride ends safely every time. 

So, if you’re lucky enough to get a few days off work over the Easter holiday, and can get out to enjoy some riding, ride safe and remind your mates they need to ride safe too!

Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand marketing manager Adam Wright

If you’re out on two wheels over the Easter break, remember it’s the journey and not the destination. So please ride carefully and be respectful to all your fellow road users. Everyone at Harley-Davidson wishes you and your families a safe and happy Easter.

I.C.Emergency inventor Tony Walton

Tony Ward with his ICEmergency USB

Easter is a great time to take a few days and go riding. It’s also a time when we see a big spike in bike accidents. Accidents happen, but more accidents happen over the Easter period.

It’s essential that all riders carry relevant identification at all times. having info on your phone isn’t enough because phones often get smashed in accidents. Particularly bike accidents. If something happens and you do come off, it’s vital that emergency responders know who to contact if you’re unconscious.

The information you should carry is WHO to contact in an emergency and their mobile phone numbers, ANY medications you may be taking and any medical issues you have. This info will assist emergency department staff.

The I.C.Emergency USB is available to riders through our online shop.

Motorcycle Riders Association of the ACT

The MRA ACT encourages all road users to keep safe this coming Easter weekend by looking out for other road users, and riding to the conditions. Particularly, keep a safe three-second distance, watch for motorcyclists and scooters, and use common sense.  We’d like all road users to arrive at their destinations safely, to spend time with family and friends, and to treat all other road users with courtesy. Initiatives such as the continuing lane filtering trial improve safety and convenience for all motorists and respect on the roads protects us all.

BMW Motorrad Australia general manager Andreas Lundgren

Andreas with an S 1000 RR

The Easter break provides us all with the perfect opportunity to get out on the open road and enjoy life. Over the holiday period ride at your own pace, you are the one in control;  don’t let others influence your decisions. Have fun and enjoy the unique freedom that life on two wheels offers. Make life a ride!

The post Easter motorcycle safety messages appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

UN suggests separate motorcycle lanes

Mon, 03/04/2017 - 6:00am

Cyclists have special lanes, so why not motorcycles?

It’s not our suggestion, but one of many suggested action plans in a World Health Organisation report about motorcycle safety.

The WHO’s “Powered two- and three-wheeler safety” report is part of the 2010 United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety and was compiled with the help of the George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney. Several Australian studies are also cited.

It claims exclusive motorcycle lanes are proven to reduce motorcycle crashes, but only in Middle Eastern and Asian countries such as Malaysia, where motorcycles represent more than 20-30% of the traffic.

Malaysian motorcycle lanes

However, it should reignite debate about the use of bike lanes for filtering at 30km/h or less and universal use of bus lanes.

The report says road traffic crashes kill 1.25 million people each year and powered two- and three-wheelers (PTWs) cause 286,000 deaths or 23%. And that rate is growing rapidly with the riding popularity of PTWs, particularly in developing countries.

Apart from identifying the problem, it also identifies the key risks and sets out an action plans, such as exclusive lanes, for governments, police engineers, planners and health authorities.

Key risks

The key risk factors are non-use of helmets; speed; alcohol; mixed traffic conditions; lack of protection from the vehicle during a crash; and lack of safe infrastructure such as poor road surfaces and roadside hazards.

In other words, nothing that hasn’t been identified before.

Action plan

However, the report says any action plan should be guided by evidence, not knee-jerk politics, or anecdotal claims, as often seems to be the case.

They have divided their action plan into proven measures, promising ideas and safety suggestions which are not supported by sufficient evidence.

Thankfully, Australia, Europe and the Americas have largely implemented the proven measures for riders.

However, we would like to see more attention on road infrastructure such as the possibility of exclusive or protected lanes and removing roadside hazards.

Flexible Chevroflex roadside signs Proven measures

Safer roads: exclusive motorcycle lanes.

Safer vehicles: ABS.

Safer riders: mandatory helmets, helmet standards, stronger penalties, mandatory vehicle registration, mandatory rider licensing, compulsory skills test.

Promising measures

Safer roads: protected turn lanes and widened shoulders or lanes, removing roadside hazards, speed bumps and traffic calming, better roads.

Safer vehicles: headlights at night, daytime running lights.

Safer riders: demerit points, reflective clothing, protective clothing, graduated licensing.

Post crash response: On-site helmet/collar brace removal.

First-Aid for Motorcyclists teaches safe helmet removal Insufficient evidence

Safer roads: new roadside barriers.

Safer vehicles: stability controls, airbags, intelligent transport systems and brake lights.

Safer riders: thermal resistant shields, are restrictions on pillions and riders, ban on multiple pillions, mechanics inspections, minimum pillion height, and smaller engine for learners.

Voluminous tome

The 108-page report has plenty of examples of proven solutions and promising suggestions which we will bring to you over the next few weeks as we digest the ample tome.

While it’s good news that motorcycle safety has come to the UN’s attention, our concern is that governments and authorities will cherry-pick from the report.

We could easily see them using the report to ramp up and vindicate speed detection which is income-generating for them while ignoring other promising solutions that cost them money.

There is also concern that reflective and protective clothing are considered “promising measures”. How quickly will the safety Nazis go from “promising” to mandatory?

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Willie G. Davidson honoured at Sturgis Rally

Sun, 02/04/2017 - 4:00pm

Harley-Davidson icon Willie G. Davidson will receive a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota in August.

Willie G. is the grandson of company co-founder Willian A. Davidson. He made his name as the designer of many important custom models such as the Super Glide, Low Rider and many of the company logos, apparel designs and jewellery.

Willie’s 1980 Custom Belt-Drive Wide Glide

He is also credited with saving the company when he and several executives bought back Harley-Davidson from American Machine and Foundry (AMF) in 1981 for more than $75 million.

He retired in 2012 as chief stylist, but the 83-year-old still consults and has an office at Harley HQ in Milwaukee where he designs various logos, but isn’t involved in bike design.

If you’ve loved Harleys over the years, you should be a Willie G. fan. I must admit to being a bit of a groupie and have interviewed him at the 105th and 110th anniversaries in Milwaukee, even asking him to sign my hat.

Now, he will be honoured at the world’s largest motorcycle rally with a Lifetime Achievement Award on August 9 in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame.

Museum boss Myrick Robbins describes Willie G as an” ambassador for biker culture worldwide”.

“The Museum’s goal is to ‘Honor the Rider’ and Willie G. is the embodiment of motorcycle riding.

“You could say Willie G. was born with gasoline in his veins.”

Willie’s vest

He graduated from The University of Wisconsin and studied at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.

He worked for the design department of Ford Motor Company before joining Harley-Davidson in 1963 where he established the motorcycle design department.

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Hedon open-face luxury helmets

Sun, 02/04/2017 - 5:00am

Most open-face helmets are cheap and nasty, but if you are a fan of the style and want luxury and comfort, one of the premium brands is the French-made Hedon.

They are about to launch their first full-face helmet, the Heroine, in Australia next month, but it’s been the Hedonist and Epicure (pictured at top) open-face helmets which have earned them their name.

Hedon Heroine Racer

My daughter bought a Hedonist and the new Australian distributors, The Design Collective, sent me an Epicure to test.

Thankfully we are about the same size in helmet, so I was able to test them both.

Two different styles

The Hedonist is a conventional open-face helmet with three snap-on clips at the front for a visor, peak or shield, with a goggle strap holder at the back, while the Epicure has a full-length tilting visor.

They are not cheap at $499 for the Hedonist and $585 for the Epicurist. However, you know you have bough a luxury product when you receive the helmet in its box which has a plastic window so you can view the helmet inside.

It’s like a work of art and my daughter has her champagne-coloured helmet displayed in the box on the shelf of her bedroom when she’s not wearing it.

Luxury fit

But Hedon helmets are not just stunning in a box. They have a slim shell in several different sizes, so they look tailor-made to your head, rather than like some alien space helmet.

That luxury fitment continues inside with plush fine calf leather, quality brass fittings and Merlin anti-bacterial fabric lining which looks and feels like soft suede.

Some people won’t wear an open-face helmet for safety reasons. However, there are many primary safety advantages of an open-face helmet such as being lighter and less fatiguing, cooler (in style and temperature), having a wider field of vision, fewer fogging problems and because you are more alert to traffic sounds.

The Hedon is super-light with a shell made of carbonfibre and fibreglass and has such a wide field of vision you can’t even see the helmet when it’s on, unless you pull it right down in front.

Hedon Hedonist

I gave the distributors my head size, measured around the widest part of my head, and they sent me a helmet that felt quite snug.

At first I thought it would be too tight and quickly become uncomfortable.

However, while it’s snug, it doesn’t have any pressure points, so it doesn’t become painful on a long ride. And because it’s snug all over, it doesn’t want to lift off at high speed; the Epicurist even more secure than the Hedonist.

Every head is different, so it may not fit your head like mine, but I have never had a helmet that does not have at least one pressure point somewhere.

These are usually resolved by pushing your thumb into the pressure point to compress the foam. However, that is reducing the integrity of the helmet and reducing its impact resistance.

Good vision

Both luxury helmets allow you to wear sunglasses without getting caught in the visor and the padding inside doesn’t push against the glasses frames.

My daughter fitted a $79 bubble screen to her Hedonist and the Epicurist comes with a 2mm thick hand thermoformed shield. You can get replacement shields for the Epicurist for $115.

Neither screen fogs up and they don’t easily scratch, despite being hit square on with a stone at high speed while wearing the Epicurist.

Hedon Epicurist

You can’t ride around with the Epicure’s  visor up as it whistles even at low speed and tries to pull your head off at high speed. But it’s the helmet you would get if you want face protection from the wind, dust and rain.

Long-lasting luxury

I have several Bell Custom 500 helmets, but all of them have quickly deteriorated with the rubber trim and lining quickly falling apart from sweat.

While you also can’t remove the lining of the Hedon helmets for washing, it is longer lasting and more robust than the Bell.

I’m not a huge fan of the champagne and cherry colours of these helmets but there is an extensive range to suit everyone  including several shades of white and black!

If you are a fan of open-face helmets and want something fashionable, well made, luxurious and comfortable, then it’s time to invest in a Hedon helmet.

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BMW ‘announces’ two-wheel-drive GS

Sat, 01/04/2017 - 5:00pm

BMW has announced a two-wheel-drive version of its R 1200 GS Adventure will be available later this year.

While it might seem like a good idea, it’s actually an April Fool’s Day joke, confirmed by BMW Motorrad Australia GM Andreas Lundgren.

“There is a very thin border between fact and fiction in their pranks … the concept is plausible,” he says.

Their press release declares it would be called xDrive Hybrid and include an electric motor in the front wheel hub as developed by their automobile engineers for hybrid vehicles.

The Bavarian jokesters are famous for their April Fool’s Day jokes, having begun running spoof advertisements on April 1 in the early 1980s.

BMW’s marketing department says April Fool jokes are “designed to teeter on the verge of credibility” and often focus on a new and revolutionary piece of technology, but “push the idea just beyond the plausible.”

Some of their other April 1 pranks were a self-cleaning car, remote-inflatable tyres, dog-repellent bumpers, tyres that melted snow and a self-driving car that follows you when you go for a jog. This appears to be their first motorcycle prank.

Two-wheel-drive bikes

But is a two-wheel-drive BMW adventure motorcycle so implausible?

There have been several other two-wheel-drive motorcycles before, most notably Yamaha’s 2WD system called 2-TRAC. They used it to tackle the Dakar Rally but it never made it into mass production.

The idea is not dead yet with Yamaha, either. Their PES2 electric bike is 2WD and the Japanese company recently filed a patent for a new 2WD system with an electric motor driving the front wheel.

Other 2WD products and concepts include the Christini dirt bikes, Suzuki Nuda concept, Rokon, Ural 2WD outfits and Australia’s own Drysdale stroker which was intended for the Australian Army.

But the biggest hint that BMW may actually be considering a 2WD bike comes from BMW accessories company Wunderlich

Last year, they developed an electronic two-wheel-drive system for the R 1200 GS that also gives it a reverse gear.

The Wunderlich invention is basically a 7.6kW electric hub motor in the front wheel that neatly fits inside the ABS ring.

It sounds very similar to what BMW proposes in their April 1 press release.

Many online sites fell for the BMW joke, but they weren’t the only ones playing pranks.

This year we’ve heard of an Australian Government law to make all bikes water-cooled, Holden producing motorcycles, Triumph introducing a HandleWheel to replace the handlebars and the American Transportation Department requiring all bikes to be fitted with a $35 limiter that restricted top speed to 75mph (120km/h). The latter caused much angst and confusion among riders!

At Motorbike Writer, we report the news and don’t play pranks with our readers.

This is from the BMW Motorrad April 1 press release on the “xDrive Hybrid” bike:

All-wheel drive can be operated automatically or manually by the rider via the 2WD (Two-Wheel Drive) switch located on the left handlebar operation unit. It activates the wheel-hub e-Drive system which functions both as electric motor and generator. With the additional output of 33 kW (45 hp) and overall 125 kW (170 hp) system performance, the innovative all-wheel drive system opens up a whole new dimension of performance and off-road suitability.

A new generation of batteries, derived from BMW i battery technology, stores the energy recuperated during braking. The e-Drive system on the front wheel is supplied with this energy and the R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid rider can use it for accelerating in addition to the power delivered by the combustion engine. Thanks to sophisticated management technology the power is always supplied to the front wheel in the right amount and appropriately depending on the riding situation. This means that the front wheel only receives the amount of power as the traction conditions permit – for example in wet or deep snow conditions. The rider can use a number of riding modes to customise how the all-wheel drive system operates and adjust the hybrid system’s recuperation strategies to suit his needs. Everything can be controlled using the innovative LCD display.

Optimised braking performance and balanced weight ratio thanks to intelligent recuperation and single disc brake.

Apart from the significant advantages achieved with regard to ride performance, the xDrive Hybrid all-wheel drive also benefits braking greatly. Thanks to the recuperation process, which has been integrated into the BMW Motorrad ABS system, braking performance has been improved even further.

This intelligent combined solution also made it possible to reduce the conventional double-disc hydraulic braking system at the front to a single-disc brake system thereby saving approximately 2.9 kilograms of weight. In combination with the wheel hub e-Drive, which only weighs 880 grams, the bike’s agility was also optimised. Thanks to the bike’s positive weight balance, the weight level of the current R 1200 GS Adventure could be maintained in spite of the additional hybrid all-wheel technology.

This bike will get you anywhere, on any surface – even to the North pole.

In the past months the test version of the new R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid covered countless thousands of kilometres in the toughest of riding conditions. The most extreme demands were placed on the bike last winter, when Reiner Scherbeck, the head of winter testing at BMW Motorrad, rode it to the North Cape on a first stage and from there across the frozen Barents Sea to the North Pole and back again.

Scherbeck: “We were absolutely amazed how problem-free and reliable the all-wheel drive worked even at minus 56 degrees. Thanks to our functional BMW rider equipment, the cold temperatures were no problem for the rider, too. Probably the most thrilling conclusion we can draw from our test runs, is that for the first time we can offer a motorcycle that makes riding a motorcycle a pleasure at snow depths of 1.25 metres in high winter with the new R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid. Special front section components have also been developed for this purpose as well as high-speed suitable M+S all-season tyres. This was also necessary in order to meet the necessary requirements for high-speed winter operation.”  

The new BMW R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid will be presented to the public in a suitable location very soon. It will be available from the second half of 2017. BMW Motorrad will announce special tyre combinations and optional equipment features as well as the official sales price at a later date.

The post BMW ‘announces’ two-wheel-drive GS appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Indian ride for domestic violence victims

Sat, 01/04/2017 - 5:00am

Social worker Julie Jasper is riding a 1942 Indian 741 Military Scout around Australia to encourage young domestic violence victims to “break the silence”.

It’s called the Silent Tour and you can join the 50-year-old rider on one of the legs of her tour by following her website and making a $35 donation.

Julie started on March 4, 2017, in her hometown of Albany, WA, and arrives in Perth this Sunday (April 2, 2017) for a ride out from Guilford to Gilderton with riders from the Indian Motorcycle dealership.

Julie’s 1942 Scout

That’s only 500km in a month, but Julie is not in a rush as she wants to spend the time making people aware of what victims of domestic violence go through.

She is also using the trip to concentrate on writing her book “Flaying solo – one women’s journey to self-discovery”. (Yes, “flaying” as in ripping the skin off to expose what’s underneath.)

“I needed to remove myself from family and friends and get out in the bush to write this book,” she says.

“So I decided to take myself off around Australia on my dream bike and raise awareness for domestic violence.”

Julie has been a full-time carer for abused children for the past two years so she knows first-hand what they go through.

She has decided to open up her trip to others to come along to not only raise money for her sponsors, the Albany Community Foundation, but also to provide her with company and security.

Julie chose an old Indian Scout because it was her dream bike and provided a challenge.

“I’ve always loved Indians and old things so when the two came together, it was the perfect combination,” she says.

“It is a challenge, but the bike is up to it. It was built for World War II as a despatch rider’s bike so they built them very solid.”

However, when she first got it, she dropped it in the shed and broke her leg. She spent the next four months writing eight chapters for her book.

Julie says the Scout’s engine has been totally reconditioned and she believes it will get her steadily around Australia at an average of 85/90km/h on the highway, over the next 11 months.

“I have a Perth mechanic, Murray Morrell, who is an Indian expert who has been rebuilding Indians for years,” she says. “He’ll be my online mechanic if anything goes wrong.”

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Is Melbourne footpath parking under threat?

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 4:00pm

The Independent Riders Group in Victoria is concerned that Melbourne’s much-vaunted motorcycle footpath parking is under threat.

They claim the threat comes from a growing number of pedestrians, a strong cycling lobby claiming footpath space, comments by a former RACV boss, an MCG parking ban and alternative road-centre parking.

However, the rival Victorian Motorcycle Council describes the claims as “scaremongering” and says there is only an issue about parking around Luna Park in the City of Port Phillip which they are involved in resolving.

Melbourne has been a shining light for the rest of the country with its free motorcycle footpath parking which is enshrined in their Future Melbourne Committee Road Safety Plan. It is vital as an example for other cities that the system remains in place.

A Melbourne City Council spokeswoman says they have delivered on all the outcomes outlined in the plan.

“State law is that motorcycles can be parked on the footpath anywhere In Victoria, unless it is explicitly stated otherwise, for example, via a parking sign,” the spokeswoman says.

“Footpath parking for motorcycles is not being phased out in the City of Melbourne.

“Our Road Safety Plan 2013–17 states that Council may restrict footpath parking in some areas for safety reasons. However, dedicated on-street parking would then be provided to allow parking for the same number of motorcycles.

“The City of Melbourne has received very few complaints about motorcycles parked on footpaths in recent years.”

Cyclists and pedestrians

Cyclists and pedestrians are competitors for footpath parking spaces and their growing number in all cities is a definite concern for all riders.

They have very well-organised and politically strong lobby groups that are appealing to many politicians.

Therefore, it is important that motorcyclist representative groups continue to keep pressure on councils to acknowledge the advantages of motorcycles in the CBD.

Thankfully, the major cities are recognising this fact. In Brisbane, a special working group of motorcyclists is being assembled to help council find more parking solutions.

Austroads report on parking RACV parking threat

As for the claim that the RACV is against motorcyclists, it is based on old quotes from a former boss.

A spokeswoman says the quotes were “taken out of context” and were personal beliefs and not those of the RACV.

“The RACV encourages motorcycle and scooter riders to park their bikes in accordance with the guidelines developed by the former Victorian Motorcycle Advisory Council,” she says.

A copy of the guidelines for motorcycle parking is available on the RACV website.

Free footpath parking in Melbourne MCG parking ban

As for the MCG motorcycle ban, it is extended to all motorised vehicles, not just motorcycles, says spokesman Ben Corfee.

“After carefully assessing the security risk of having unattended motor-vehicles in close proximity to patrons and infrastructure, the MCC has instituted a 30 metre “exclusion zone” from the concourse,” he says.

“This ‘exclusion zone’ applies to both general public cars / vehicles and motorbikes and compliments the water filled barriers that are currently in place to help mitigate the risk of Hostile Vehicles and unauthorised vehicle approaches.”

The security concerns are certainly valid given last year’s tragic Bourke St incident and the recent London terror attack.

Besides, the MCG has identified an alternative area in Jolimont St specifically for motorcycle parking on event days.

Centre parking

IRG member Rodney Brown says he is concerned that various pressures will force motorcycle from footpaths where parking is free to paid centre-road parking which he says is a higher risk to riders.

A move from free to paid parking would certainly be a disincentive to riders, however our society seems to be moving more toward more user-pays systems.

We would hope that if they do, concrete island buffers would be introduced to help protect riders mounting and dismounting their bikes.


In response to a website that highlights badly parked motorcycles and calls for a ban on footpath parking, we suggested flyers be placed on offending vehicles to make them aware of the quite comprehensive guidelines on footpath parking.

The IRG has now taken this suggestion on board.

Even if this poses no threat to footpath parking, illegal parking by a minority of riders sets a bad example in the community for all motorcyclists.

  • What do you think about free motorcycle footpath parking? Leave your comments below.

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Biggest Ace Cafe to open in Florida

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 12:00pm

The famous London Ace Cafe has many copies around the world, but the first North American franchise, set to open in Orlando, Florida, in spring 2017, will be the biggest yet.

Ace Cafe Orlando will be a 35,000-square-foot (10,668sq m) motor-centric dining, entertainment, and retail destination expecting to draw more than 400,000 people a year.

It will be housed in three historic buildings in downtown Orlando and holds the exclusive licensee rights in North America and South America for the world-famous brand.

Ace Cafe history

The Ace Cafe London was established in 1938 and after World War II it became a mecca for “rockers” and cafe racers on motorcycles and in hot rod cars.

The original location on London’s North Circular Road began as a simple roadside cafe for truckers, then evolved into a popular destination for rock ‘n roll-loving teens riding motorbikes during the ’50s and ’60s. Today, the Ace has a multi-generational appeal from motorsports enthusiasts from all over the world.

Motorbike Writer has done the pilgrimage and was underwhelmed by the small and grubby cafe. But you can’t be underwhelmed by its influence on motorcycle culture.

Bigger and better

By comparison, the two-storey Ace Cafe Orlando will be much larger and feature a full-service restaurant, two kitchens, four bars, a coffee bar, a communal counter, a mezzanine that overlooks the main floor dining area and stage, and private and semi-private spaces for groups.

Ace Cafe Orlando artist’s drawing

With a nod to Ace Cafe’s roots, they will serve British food favourites such as Bangers & Mash, Fish & Chips, and Chicken Curry, plus American diner favourites.

More importantly, they will sell officially branded Ace gear and apparel in the Rockers Speed Shop and include a BMW motorcycle dealership, Dainese D-Store, EagleRider motorcycle rental company and Stonebridge Motorgallery, selling vintage and one-off custom motorcycles as well as artwork, photography, sculptures, and memorabilia.

Outside will be a large park for motorcycle and hot rod events that hosts up to 7000 people.

After the Ace Cafe opens, they will start work on a live music and bar and a beer garden.

Ace Cafe Orlando artist’s drawing

The Blue Cap Shack bar weill feature the area’s first Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ, the Kansas City-based BBQ restaurant voted “Best BBQ” by Anthony Bourdain, Chef Wolfgang Puck and USA Today.

The Backyard Beer Garden will also have an outdoor stage for live music accommodating up to 1200 people.

Ace Cafe North America boss Mark McKee says the family oriented venue will attract “petrolheads and aficionados to would-be enthusiasts” as well as music lovers.

Next time you are in the USA, make sure you pay a visit!


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Oxley Highway speed camera blitz

Fri, 31/03/2017 - 5:00am

Riders on the Oxley Highway face a blitz of police patrols and speed cameras in the wake of two recent motorcycle crashes – one fatal.

This blitz comes as a speed zone review of the highway continues with no timeline for a final decision.

The speed zone review has been delayed because local Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey has become the new NSW Roads and Maritime Services Minister.

As the local member, she is concerned by the business and community reaction to the planned reduction in speeds on the highway by as much as 30km/h in some areas.

The RMS says the speed zone changes between Long Flat and Walcha were due to a high number of crashes. From November 9, 2011, to November 8, 2016, there were five fatal motorcycle crashes.

After significant community feedback from the motorcycling and local business community, the RMS promised another review with findings originally scheduled before Christmas.

The secondary review will now be released after the Centre for Road Safety has completed its analysis, an RMS spokesman says. No timeline has been given.

Speed blitz

Referring to last weekend’s fatal motorcycle crash, the new Minister says any loss of life is a tragedy as she hints at a coming speed blitz on the highway.

“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the man who lost his life at the weekend,” she says.

However, she points out that a “recent analysis of accident data” shows that motorists are still speeding.

“We need to get the balance right between enforcement and behavioural change, but if they continue to speed we will have no option but to increase the level of enforcement, including speed cameras,” she says.

“Some motorcyclists have been caught speeding at more than 160km/h since the review began, which is incredibly dangerous and reckless. We cannot allow this to continue, not when people’s lives are at stake. 

“We will continue to work with the NSW Police and NSW Centre for Road Safety to improve the safety of this road and reduce the risk of further tragedies like these.”

Meanwhile, the “Save the Oxley” petition, organised by local Ken Healey, has attracted more than 7000 signatures.


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Rider hits unsecured mattress in tunnel

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 1:07pm

An Ipswich rider has hit a mattress that fell off a trailer in a Brisbane tunnel at 80km/h and police are lived to tell the tale after performing an impromptu “endo”.

Contractor Aaron Wood said the “endo” was so severe he tore the grips off the bars of his Honda CBR1000RR.

Aaron was following a Toyota Prado through the Clem 7 tunnel on the night of March 28, 2017, when an unsecured mattress flew out of the back of a cage trailer it was towing.

He hit the mattress and came to an abrupt stop, lucky not to be rear-ended. The mattress was lodged under the bike near the exhaust and began to smoulder before being pulled out.

“I have been riding for 20 years and never had something like this happen,” he told The Queensland Times.

Ipswich police are checking the tunnel CCTV footage, but it is very difficult to read the number plate of the vehicle.

A police media spokesperson says if they locate the driver they could be charged with “Fail to ensure load on private light vehicle complies with requirements” and face a $243 fine.

Australian authorities receive tens of thousands of callouts a year to collect debris from our roads.

It includes household goods, building materials and green waste, causing road closures, disruptions, injuries and deaths.

Most vulnerable to these unsecured loads are motorcyclists.

Most riders have witnessed all sorts of things flying off the backs of trucks and pick-ups, but the worst culprits seem to be tradies.

Perhaps they are in a rush to get home or to the next job, but too many don’t secure their loads properly.

Take a look at the side of our freeways. They are littered with tradies’ hard hats, rubber boots, gloves and tools.

Other motorists to avoid are weekend gardeners taking their load to the dump in a hired trailer. They are not professional transport operators, so they don’t know how to secure a load properly. Give them a wide berth.

It’s not as if the police and authorities don’t care about unsecured loads.

Police frequently blitz for unsecured loads and the fines range from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the risk level of the spilt load.

However, a fine won’t help a rider recovering in hospital from hitting a loose load. Instead, it’s our responsibility to stay away from any vehicle with a loose load.

And if you see a dangerous load, report it to the police.

This video of an American rider crashing into a load that had fallen off the back of a boat trailer being pulled by an SUV is a lesson in never following vehicles with dodgy looking loads.

Rider Brendan Jankowski, 20, doesn’t seem to be following very closely, but it is close enough for him not to be able to avoid the load of rolled-up foam that falls off. He hits it square on and flips over.

Luckily, he only received minor injuries.

It’s a good lesson to be aware of trucks and pickups carrying loads secured only by ropes and ties.

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Riders: If it’s flooded forget it

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 7:26am

Much of eastern Queensland and northern NSW is heading for severe flash flooding over the next 24 hours and emergency services have reiterated their call: “If it’s flooded, forget it”.

The police are pretty serious about the current situation and warn that this morning’s rain is “just the tip of the iceberg”. Interesting analogy!

Anyway, police are now fining motorists hundreds of dollars for negligent driving if they attempt to cross flood waters and get stuck, requiring rescue.

Just for today, it might be prudent to forget about taking the bike out.

Don’t be that idiot that goes playing in flooded waters and ends up losing their bike, forcing emergency services personnel to risk their lives trying to save you.

Water crossings can be enormous fun, but it’s just not worth it when the water crossing is flooded.

You may have crossed this particular crossing before and think that the water is just a little higher than normal. However, there could be a sink hole underneath and you could lose your bike and then be swept away in the fast-running waters.

Flooded water is unpredictable. Is the level still rising, how fast is the water flowing, is it flowing at different rates in different parts of the crossing, is a sudden surge of more water on its way, what objects have been washed down and are now submerged underneath such as barbed wire?

There are too many unknowns.

One of my water crossing failures was in a low-flooded causeway. I was riding a big Yamaha Super Tenere through on the clear wheel tracks but the water was flowing faster where there was a gap in the weeds upstream.

Even though it was a low level and the bike substantial, the water velocity was enough to push my front wheel slightly off track, into the slime and down I went.

I was lucky not to be swept off the causeway into the fast-running creek.

It was a stupid thing to do and I acknowledge that.

After the storms have passed and the skies turn blue, there will be an enormous temptation this weekend to go out and play in the waters.

However, flood waters can take a lot of time to subside, so remain vigilant and cautious.

In the meantime, maybe just for today forget about taking the bike out!

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Top 10 tips for short motorcyclists

Thu, 30/03/2017 - 5:00am

Short riders have always been disadvantaged by the fact that bikes are designed for tall riders, although that has changed in recent years.

Brands such as Harley-Davidson, BMW, Ducati, Triumph and others are now making models that have lower seat heights or are offering optional low seats for short riders.

Even so, there are many bike types that are too high for some riders, especially sportsbikes and dirt bikes which need to be high for lean angle and clearance. The lowest types are cruisers and scooters where you can get off the seat easily.

But it shouldn’t stop you. Look at 1.58m-high Dani Pedrosa on the MotoGP grid. He is almost off the seat to get one foot on the ground. It hasn’t stopped him from riding!

Until gyroscopic self-balancing bikes such as BMW’s Vision Next 100, Honda’s Riding Assist or Yamaha’s Motobot become reality, short riders just have to find smarter ways to ride.

Honda’s self-balancing motorcycle So here are our top 10 tips for short riders

1 Pick a low bike with a narrow seat. It’s not just about having a low seat, but also one that is narrow as that allows you to get your legs closer together which means you have a better reach to the ground. Sit on bikes at the dealership and test them out. Not every bike will have the same reach to the ground because of the seat shape. For a list of bike seat heights, visit our comprehensive list and use the special app.

2 Buy a light bike. If you are teetering on your tiptoes when stationary, it is easier to hold a light bike than a heavy one. Also, buy a bike with an adjustable height seat like on many BMWs.

3 Buy a lower seat if the option is available. Some are offered as factory accessories by manufacturers, otherwise there are plentiful aftermarket suppliers. You can also have it customised by special motorcycle upholsterers who will scoop out some of the foam and replace it with memory foam, gel or 3D foam. Even though it will be thinner, it may not be uncomfortable as some of those foams are better than the stock seat foam.

4 Before buying the bike, ask the dealer if they are able to make suspension adjustments that lower the bike. It’s not a great option, but it can be done with some success. The forks may be dropped through the triple clamp, although this will change the steering characteristics making it more “nervous”. You can also soften the rear spring which will give you more sag when you sit on the bike making it substantially lower. If you are short, you are also probably lighter than the 75kg average for which most bike suspensions are set, so it shouldn’t be a problem and the bike won’t bottom out on the suspension. However, be aware that lowering the suspension will affect cornering clearance, shock compression, wheel travel and it may not handle as well. Some people also change to lower-profile tyres, but be aware it will change the revs and may make your speedometer slightly inaccurate.

5 Some short riders buy thick or platform sole shoes to give them a bit more reach. Just make sure they are proper motorcycle shoes and you still have feel for the brake and clutch levers. High heels are not suitable for obvious reasons, but also because they provide no more reach to the toes, only the heels. that’s why you need shoes with a thick front section.

Harley make thick-soled boots

6 Some short riders mount with the side stand still down. Be aware that many of the lightweight alloy side stands being used now will bend and eventually snap from putting all your weight on them.

7 If you mount this way, you will need to push off on the side stand side over to the other side and will need to quickly get your right foot down. This can be disastrous, so maybe practise with a friend to help catch you.

8 You can also start the bike while standing beside it and mount “on the fly”. Start by putting your left foot on the foot peg and then ease the clutch out while throwing your right leg over the seat. You may have to do a few bunny hops on your right foot. This is how we used to mount our pushbikes as kids. You can dismount in the same way, but it takes practice and you should do it on a small bike first on a long driveway like we have in these photos, not on the road. Also, be aware that police may deem this practice as illegal. However, we can’t find anything in the road rules against it, now that the controls laws have been adjusted.

9 When you get on the bike, drop your weight into the seat and let the suspension sag rather than trying to hold the bike up with your weight on your legs. You will be surprised how much this drops the bike down. On the tall F 800 GS, it means the difference between being on my toes and having my feet flat on the ground.

10 However, you only ever need – and should have – your left leg on the ground when stationary with your right foot on the brake. Besides, that gives you extra reach to the ground. To do this, counter-steer the bike to the right by using the left handlebar just before stopping. This will tilt the bike slightly to the left. Just before you top, slide your backside off to the left and keep your right foot on the brake as you come to a stop. When you put your leg on the ground, be aware that your bike will lean to the left and you will have to support its weight. This is why we suggested a lighter bike. But here’s a handy tip: It will be easier to hold it if you also point the front wheel to the right.

  • Did this article help you? If so, share it with your friends. Do you have any other tips you would like to share? Leave your comments below.

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First real-world motorcycle ABS study

Wed, 29/03/2017 - 4:00pm

A real-world study into the effects of ABS in motorcycle crashes has been completed with the help of Australian riders.

There have been plenty of studies in the past about the effectiveness of ABS on motorcycles, but they are all statistical summaries and not real-world surveys.

Last year UK motorcycle road safety researcher Dr Elaine Hardy contacted us to publicise her research and attract Australian riders who had been in an ABS-equipped bike crash to participate in the study.

Now she has released the results of the first real-world study of ABS effectiveness. You can read the full “Effects of ABS in motorcycle crashes” survey here.

It involved surveying 60 male riders and one female with 25 respondents from Australia, 34 from Europe and two in South Africa.

“ABS can and does make a difference,” says Elaine who worked on the study with colleagues from universities in Europe.

“The underlying problem that everybody seems to be oblivious to is the importance of hazard awareness training and simply how to brake in emergencies (with or without ABS).

“There is a lot of misinformation out there.  The purpose of this study is to find facts about what happens when riders crash, not debate about mandating ABS or not.”

BMW demonstrates ABS

The horse has already bolted on mandatory ABS in several countries, anyway.

India makes it mandatory for all motorcycles with an engine bigger than 125cc from April 2017, More than one in three new motorcycles manufactured in Europe is now fitted with ABS and Japan, Europe, Brazil and Taiwan have mandated anti-lock brakes on designated motorcycles.

There are no calls in Australia yet for ABS to be mandated on bikes, but the Federal Chamber of Automated Industries and VicRoads say ABS is safe and a Monash Uni statistical study says it would save lives.

Even if ABS isn’t mandated, motorcycle companies are rolling out the technology across their range.

Elaine says she has spoken with industry representatives who say that because the cost of the technology has dropped considerably all bikes, except mopeds, will end up with ABS brakes.

“So they are not fussed whether the system becomes mandatory or not – because all bikes 125cc+ will end up having them anyway – and the cost will be absorbed through sales,” she says.

Elaine’s study is the first real-world research into ABS motorcycle crashes, but she says more needs to be done.

“Although this pilot survey is a small sample, the wealth and depth of information provided by the motorcyclists who participated allows for a wide range of analysis of the details that resulted from the questionnaire and the responses,” she says.

The study found the typical speed of 32% of the riders was between 41-60km/h, while 13% indicated their speed prior to braking was 61-70km/h. Only four (7%) indicated their speed was more than 100km/h prior to braking.  Eight (14%) were travelling at speeds up to 20km/h prior to braking.  

“In particular, the riders overwhelmingly recognised the risk of injury if they are involved in a crash and thus wore highly protective clothing and helmets,” she says.

In terms of how the speed before braking affected the injury severity, the study suggests that the injury outcome appears to be nearly random, or rather it is dependent on circumstances other than speed.

When asked whether the riders applied their brakes prior to crashing, 52 (85.2%) replied that they did.

“This response is possibly the most important and relevant question and answer in the survey,” Elaine says.

“The reason is that the focus of this survey and its response regards advanced (anti-lock) braking systems and whether the dynamics of the outcome of the crashes matters or whether there is something else that requires attention.”

Elaine says licence training is usually designed for the novice to pass a test, rather than being trained to survive, let alone understand the dynamics of ABS.

She says it is important the rider understands how to use ABS and has sufficient knowledge of emergency braking and hazard awareness to prevent a crash.

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