Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Motorbikes are all about the feels

G'day, what's new you ask? In my never ending quest for awesome moto-gear, quite a bit; I got a new lid, new boots, new MX Goggles and I've been looking at (even riding) all sorts of new bikes. I'm doing a few new drawings and of course, postieing my way around Melbourne. Life is good.

Before, there was darkness

Although, I gotta just say there has been quite a lot of 'death' around lately, people dying is never easy and it seems to me that as I get older the more common it becomes. 

Celebrities taking their own lives, others passing away from this and that, friends lost and reminders of those already gone forces me to consider my own mortality. 

I guess it's a good practise in a way, because we all have to deal with it at some time. I'm not going to dwell here but I will say that there truly is a very fine line between life and death, which brings to mind a famous quote from Hunter S. Thompson.

"Faster, Faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death"

It has always resonated with me yet I was forced to think it through more thoroughly when one of my postie mates was badly injured in a workplace accident, losing his spleen which means really serious-bad-life-changing-forever things to his person.

Am I fascinated by death? Am I racing towards it? No, but such is my choice to be a paid-for-a-living driver undoubtedly increasing my odds of a shortened lifespan. 

Do I care? How much do I care? Why?

I am not obsessing I promise, but that quote is absolutely spot-on of riding for me - any fear of death is the one thing most removed from my mind. 

I am as free as a bird and solely focused on being 'one' with my motorbike. Faster, faster, better, stronger, totally alive. 

I freakin' love riding my bike.

Of course riding for a living produces a different set of scenarios and I approach it completely differently than I do recreational riding.

For a start I'm riding a step through scooter that is underpowered, has terrible brakes and handles like I'd expect a bike made out of Lego would.

Every day is an exercise in caution, heightened observation and reserved fully attentive conscious riding - and there is never a hurry to get anywhere, after all I'm paid by the hour :D

Enough of the morbid ramblings, onto funner things.

New Work Helmet

Along with this so riding gig has come many new interesting learnings, most interesting of all is staying dry, but by far the biggest one is a return to the Open Face Helmet.

Now I say return as I grew up riding with open face lids from memory, but in reality I haven't worn an open face in over 20 yeas, and most never on the road.

But as a Postie NEEDS an open face helmet for ventilation and ease of talking to customers without removing your helmet repeatedly, and fook me I have discovered that I really enjoy it! So much so that I started wearing my purchased lid for work Aria CT-Z on the GS as part of my everyday riding. And it is good.

So good that I was egged on to looking at other styles of open face helmets for full time use. But first the Arai CT-Z.

Overview - Arai CT-Z

The CT-Z is an odd beast with its fully exposed face but bulbous cheek guards lolling you into a false sense of added security, added to that its fully-closed-face styled visor clicks down convincingly into many half open and closed positions, lulling you into a sense that you could indeed be wearing a full face helmet.



Fit
It’s an intermediate oval shape, typical Arai so if you are a Shoei guy/gal this ain’t for you, but if you have an egg for a head like me you will fin/d the fit to be spot on. I did find it a tad tight around my bulbous forehead as usual but nothing a quick smoothing out with the back of a spoon couldn't fix (not recommended at all as it does alter the structural safety aspects of the helmet).

Finish
You just know if you shell out the bucks for an Arai, you ain’t gonna be disappointed with the finish. Quality from stitch to strap, paint finish and D clamp closure. The inserts are smooth and comfy against your skin providing a warm cocoon-like inner for your face, and they come out really simply allowing you to wash/air them out from the weeks of endless profuse sweating endured whilst delivering mail in ridiculous temperatures.

Price
Look, it ain’t cheap, I paid AUD $459 for mine and there are shit load cheaper lids out there for sure, but you get what you pay for. I expect to wear this helmet for a good 2-3 hours per day 5 days a week so it’s earning it’s keep over and again in my book.

Just a quickie on the CT-Z, cause I gots so much more to dribble on about.

New Recreational Helmet

This return to the open face life had reached a peak in its appeal and I wanted a lid for my personal use that didn’t make me look like Forest Gump or Mr Bean like the CT-Z does with its zero style appeal. 

Introducing the Bell Moto III


Overview

When I discovered the Bell Moto III with the Chemical Candy paint fit me noggin' I fair enough nearly lost my shit.

It was exactly what I wanted and even though after my last post, discovering that they didn’t really fit me, I persisted at my own leisure in a few different shops and discovered that well, indeed, it did fit. 

Fit

They size them slightly differently I found, and for me the XL (described as 60-61cm) was snug but not at all putting pressure on my forehead like a Shoei would.

Again this makes me think of the Bell Moto series as an intermediate oval shape vs the round shape confirmed by the experts at RevZilla also.

Finish

This is what sealed the deal for me, in fact the hardest decision was actually trying to decide between the Roland Sands Design finish and the Chemical Candy, but I figured most of my shit is black so … oh I dunno, I am kinda making a hypocrite of myself here because I was such a huge advocate for the White Finish on any helmet due to its reflective properties, but you know what? This helmet looks so fucking cool I don’t care what I said before, I changed my mind for this. Deal with it.

Price

Now you can shell out $199 or $999 for an ADR approved helmet these days so the Bell Moto slots right in the middle at $499 and I thought for the quality and finish what a bargain. I haggled a bit around the traps and got a 15% off discount pretty easily.

New Work Boots

Come Winter, come rain. And so it was. Not for long hopefully, but for long enough to get me really annoyed at having to come home from work with wrinkled wet feet until I complained hard enough and got the work issue waterproof Rossi Motorcycle Boot.

Nothing to write home about really, quite a plain looking simple black boot with Velcro sides and buckles for tightening at the ankle, but the thing is right - they are waterproof! Like REALLY waterproof!

If you have followed me at all in the past you will know how much this has pissed me off in my ultimate search for good gear that does what it is supposed to do. These are comfortable, supple and good to walk in, don’t slip in the rain, and just so you know I really mean this I am going to say it again, they are waterproof. 

I suspect they don’t come close to costing anywhere near the price of an ADV SIDI boot which I have invested in for more serious off roading, but you know what? Unless you are doing the Finke or touring Australia or going seriously off-road in water up to your knees  you don’t need those boots for day to day riding, these work just fine.

My only criticism at this point is that they appear to be wearing quite quickly. I guess for all those creature comforts you have to sacrifice something somewhere and that appears to be in the durability of said boot.

Not expensive, didn't pay for em, not caring. 

Action Camera Land

I've been a novice in the adventure action cam segment for oh I don't know, 10 years? I've had just about everything and I'm still not happy entirely with anything.

I've written up most of my experience over the years with these cameras on a round up post here if you're interested.

So my current setup is a Go Pro Hero 3 with a myriad of attachments for putting it anywhere, plus a Replay XD Prime X lipstick style camera attached to my lid, and a Zoom H1 audio recorder that I tried listlessly to follow the Schaaf method and get better bike audio but alas, I'm still struggling. I've also got a Mavic Pro drone that I mess around with trying to get different aerial shots which is really hard when you are a lone wolf.

What has taken my fancy of late though is a return to the Go Pro, most notably I am considering a Hero Session 5 mostly for the form factor.

Anyone had much to do with those? Would love to hear your experience in the comments below.

New Bike Dilemma

The new bike dilemma continues as I waited patiently for the Ducati Desert Sled to arrive. I grew tired and bored (sort of, but only momentarily) and start wondering what else I could buy with my hard earned, even harder to save, cash money and paused to give thought to what I wanted out of this next bike.

Then the thing rocked up and I went for a look but the dealership was in chaos after just moving location so there was no chance of a test ride before my holidays started but my initial thoughts were good, I like it's stance as it is quite a bit higher than the stock Scrambler and it looks a little less toy-like than the other offerings. 

But here is the real dilemma.

The GS is everything I need. It is the best all round bike I have ever owned. It does everything really bloody well. It carves canyon roads, it eats dirt and mud for breakfast and tours across country in such comfort that belies its size. The only thing I can say about it that isn't positive is that it ain't no mega speed demon or supermoto. When I rode the 701 Husqvara I noted the extra agility, the incredible flickability, and because of its size and weight just how big the GS was. Getting back on, it felt like a huge boat with a barge arse.

So what of another bike? I started thinking Scrambler, but having taken the GS off road more of late I am starting to think that all I really need for those rides is a set of rubber for the Triple Black and I’d probably never need to ride anything else.

Then I think, maybe I should get a hard core dirt bike. Something I can practise flying on. 

Then I thought, nah, get the off-its-tits supermoto - hullo Husqvarna 701 Supermoto - so I went and rode that a few times and I enjoyed it immensely with its ridiculously simple power wheelies popping up every time you wrap it on in second.  

But my god is that thing overpriced for what is essentially a road going chook chaser. By the time you have done the pipe, added the ABS button to be able to lock the back up and slide into corners you are up for $18,000 AUD. It's just ridiculous.

Nope. Not going there. Second hand maybe, but I still thought at $12k with a few thousand kays on the clock it just doesn't feel like enough bike for the money.

So I started dreaming about a second Beemer, so I went sticky beaking around the showroom and talking options with the guys when the GS needed its service and they threw me the keys to the stunning S1000XR. Man I love that bike, you can read my ramblings on that machine in an earlier post here.

Back to the Ducati. I like the idea of owning a BMW and a Ducati ... and of course a Grom :)

It kinda makes sense too, the Grom is a minibike for scooting around doing lockups and being an idiot, the BMW is a serious motorcycle I can take anywhere and everywhere and it does everything exceptionally well for a massive 250kg+ adventure bike, so the little Ducati Scrambler tucks in at 800cc L Twin with a bit of attitude towards trails and sand and the off road urban jumble.

It all makes sense. Small, Medium, Large.

So why can't I decide? But in the back of my head there is this great big blood clot forming called the Multistrada and all sorts of pain associated with actually owning a Ducati.

And along comes the Urban GS. An R nine T in Paris Dakar clothing. A paired back to bare minimum 1200cc air cooled boxer twin and what I call a pure motorcycling experience.

Of course they threw the keys at me with a mere 26kms on the clock and told me to go test it out. This post isn't a long form review on the new Urban G/S but let me just say, when I weigh all of the things up together and consider the riding experience, the R nine T holds a special place in the feels for me. It makes me feel things. It's almost magical, ok, just unique, in that way. 

It's little sideways tick, the sinister snarl and snorty backfires as you crank down through the gears.

Minimal. No tacho, fuel gauge, cruise control, hell there is barely any protection from the wind for crying out loud, but none of that matters when you are on board.

It made me feel. It hit me right in the ghoulies and is pretty much the only thing I can think about right now. I'm all about the feels.

That's pretty much me at the minute, until next ride.

Stay upright.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

3 Tips To Live Longer Riding Motorcycles

That's a click bait heading if ever I read one. Gotcha attention? Clickbait it may be, but there is also a degree of truth to my story, so let's get on with it.

I've recently had a birthday and man it was ugly. 45. How the actual hell did that happen?

Seriously, I don't feel like my own peception of what a 45 year old should feel. I get on my Grom in denial of my actual age, and I feel like a 16 year old back in my halcyon days. I get on the Postie Super Cub and immediately feel all the danger around me, but I don't care... because I am being paid to ride.

And it got me to thinking, and look admittedly I'm not any kind of superstar rider but I gotta fess up and admit that I know what I know when it comes to riding.  And out of those 45 years, 40 of them have been riding motorcyces and yet I have clearly managed to stay alive somehow.

The last 10 of those riding years at least have included daily commuting from the Western Suburbs of Melbourne to the Melbourne CBD and back Mon - Fri, so I must be either a) very lucky or b) doing something right.

But before we get to the hope of extending your life with motorcycles, I want to talk briefly about who this is for because while this isn't a masterclass, it also isn't for beginners. Here's why.

Ever heard of the Four Stages of Competence?

They are a type of learning model used in pyschology that relate to the pyschological states involved in the process of progressing from knowing nothing about something to knowing quite a lot.

I've read and heard these four stages being used before in all kinds of manner related to learning and I believe that they can also be used in relation to motorcycling.

Here they are in some detail.

The four stages of competence*

- Unconscious incompetence

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

- Conscious incompetence

Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

- Conscious competence

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

- Unconscious competence

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

Source: Wikipedia - The four stages of competence

Here is my direct translation to the world of motorcycling.

The Four Stages of Motocycling Competence

1. Unconscious incompetence

You want to ride motocycles yet you don't really know how. You don't have the motorskills to manipulate a clutch in concert with a gearbox or the coordination to time your acceleration with your gear changes. You recognise you don't have the balance to be able to sit on a motorcycle and balance it with just one foot touching down.


You crave to know how to do these things and the length of time it takes here to move into the next stage depends on the power of your desire to do so.

You can't really ride a bike yet.

2. Conscious incompetence

You know the basics of how to operate a motorcycle and how to coordinate the controls with the balance required to pilot a machine in a confined space where it isn't dangerous to you or others.

Yet you are allowed to ride on the road as long as you adorn yourself in fluorescent yellow hi-viz clothing and slap a ridiculous Yellow Learner's plate onto  your motorcycle somewhere effectively labelling yourself as a danger to society. Everyone else looks at you in pity or with concern for yours and their safety.

Every action you take while riding you have to think about really hard and execute independently of the next. You stall at the lights often and usually approach them with both feet out to balance yourself.

You may think you can ride, but you can't.

You are consciouly incompetent.

3. Conscious competence

You've been riding for some time now and you have worked out how to ride without stalling, you can cleanly get away at the lights and drag the Prius next to you succesfully.

You understand the steps it takes to coordinate your clutch with your throttle and your hand and foot breaks and you can most likely accelerate hard enough to do a power stand up if you really think about it.

Every single thing you do you are still concentrating on but you can actually manage to multitask these things well enough together to be accepted as a licensed rider on public roads and quite possibly the first thing you did once those horrifying restrictions were lifted was to buy a liter bike, and it is quite possible that in the following months you may kill yourself accidentally applying too much power in the wrong situation without fully understanding your conscious competence...


You can ride, but you're not as good as you think you are.

You are consciously competent.

4. Unconscious comptence

It's been some twenty oe thirty years riding on public roads and somewhere along the way you decided to take up freestyle MX or Motocross so you've spent hundreds of hours on the dirt and done thousands of kilometres on the open road touring, including some riding overseas where they ride on the oppositie side of the road to you.

Track days have come and gone and you now are so familiar with how to ride a motorcycle you can get on any two wheeled machine and confidently and easily ride it regardless of size or horsepower.

You are so proficient with the throttle and clutch manipulation that you can quick shift gears without using your clutch.

You understand the concepts of leaning off to one side, dropping an elbow or counter steering from all the track days and you can get a knee down if you are in your leathers, but you prefer to sit upright riding a big twin with loads of torque and are quite happy to let the Power Rangers do that in public these days, confident in your own knowledge of riding that you could smoke any one of them if you wished it so.

You can ride a motorbike pretty well. You're no Valentino even if you think you are, but you're good enough to be able to think about something else at the same time as you operate your bike without crashing. You are unconsciously competent.


Now with that in mind my disclaimer here is that these tips are probably better left for people in stages three and four. No point trying to overwhelm yourself if  you are still just at stage two and trying to work out how to stop without looking like a pelican.

1. Look (Ahead)

Of course you are looking ahead when you are riding, but how far do you look? 10 metres in front of you? 50? Further?

When I look ahead I am trying to look at least 1km or 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) ahead of me. As far as the eye can see. Really look.

Scan the surroundings, I look for birds that might have been disturbed in the trees , that's a good sign something has happened to disturb them. Scan for dust plumes if you're riding on unsurfaced roads with blind corners - think about what made that plume possible? A 4WD ahead coming your way maybe?

Look for smoke, is something burning ahead? Is that a problem? That glint in the road, is it water, or hot bitumen? How fast are you going for that corner and are you in the right gear looking as far ahead as you can?

What is coming up in general? Where is the next corner, what kind of road surface is ahead, whats the camber on that like?

LOOK.

It's much more than just 6 feet in front of you. They say you go where you look and with motorcycling this is very true.

Look where you want to go everytime, but also look for signs of what lay ahead further than that, survey your surroundings - it could give you the signal to slow down or change course or just be prepared and in the right gear for that next awesome twistie bit.

2. Observe (Around You)

Sounds a lot like Look, but Observe is a different set of skills to practise.

I observe what is 'going on' around me.

Especially on the Postie and in Peak Hour traffic. See that douche bag in a cage on his phone? He hasn't seen you. Likely he won't either and ''cause he is texting his Mrs, you better steer well clear of him because most likely he is going to be checking his phone constantly while he types that message. Blind, he may as well be blind to you.

Observe people on the footpaths, man they do stupid things. Jump in front of you, get stung by a bee, see a dog and take a fright, all sorts of shit goes wrong and if you observe them you are likely going to be one step ahead of the third point.

Observing your surroundings gives you all sorts of signals for what lay ahead and what you may need to be prepared for next. Observe everything and get ready for the next unknown thing to happen and be ready for it.

3. Anticipate (What Happens Next)

Anticipation. What do you think is going to happen next? Is that car going to pull in front, did they even see you or is that person on the footpath likely to change direction wiithout warning because they are swiping right on Tindr while wearing headphones, so they definitely didnt hear you?

Anticipate is also a tricky one because by no means do I mean hesitate. Hesitation causes accidents, so I want to be clear there is a real difference between anticipation and hesitation. Anticipation is about trying to figure out what happens next in conjuction with what you have seen (look) and observed (observe) giving you key information points to take into consideration while you manouvre your machine down the road.

Hesitation is a pause while you consider your options. No time for that on two wheels.

Is that car going to pull out, or is he turning left even though he indicates right? Trying to anticipate largely what car drivers do next has saved me from many a incident. Be in the right gear, stay at the right distance, stay at the ready to use any or all parts of your motorcycle mechanics at once in an emergency stop situation.

It could be the difference between riding tomorrow or a lengthy stay in the ER.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

And that's about it folks, if you enjoyed my post please use the buttons below to share it with your friends or leave me a comment below.

Until next time, stay upright.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A day with the BMW S1000XR

Herro! This week the GS dash told me the 20K service was due despite sitting on just a touch over 18,000km, so abiding by the dash master I booked it in for said service requesting an overnight loan bike, because Postie hours.

Friday, April 28, 2017

How to buy the right motorcycle helmet

I'm getting really sick of dealing with sales staff and none moreso than the obligatory know-it-all motorcycle helmet sales-person.

Some can be genuinely helpful, others can tell you all manner of utter bullshit that does nothing but confuse the average layperson, let alone a newbie to the sport.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Ultimate Motorcycle Jacket: Icon Raiden DKR

Is wearing a jacket once long enough to draw a conclusion on its superiority?

I just got an Icon  Raiden DKR jacket from RevZilla and I am so impressed, so incredibly blown away after just one wear that I'm calling it; after just one single test ride wearing it. It's that good.

Australia Day Ride - The annual bike pilgramige into the Snowy Mountains

I know I said I didn't do an ADR summary post this year for a few reasons, but that didn't mean I didn't film some of it.

Unfortunately I really hadn't nailed the audio part of this deal at all... something I am currently working on trying to use info from other motovloggers I dig like Schaaf.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What's new with you?

Hi there, Dan the intermittent blogger here with a highly anticipated long awaited serious update on being a Daily Biker.

That's sounds a bit naff when I read it back, but I guess I am really. I do ride daily.



I think I actually could call myself a professional rider now? Does riding a Postie bike aka Honda 115 Super Cub qualify for that manly title? Idk.