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.