Here is the next installment of Feedback. This is what you have said to me! One of the really great things, for me, to have come out of doing this web-site is the fantastic response it has brought from all you readers out there! I really appreciate your emails, and it's great to be able to share your comments with other readers through this page. The page runs from the first comments at the top, to the most recent ones at the bottom. So, as the year progresses you'll have to do a bit of scrolling to get to the latest entries. Sorry, but it kind of needs to work that way. Oh well, it doesn't take too much to get there. You'll notice that, for convenience (it's easier for you to find where to scroll to!) I've divided the page into separate months. I've also split the year into two - one page covers January to June, while the other July to December. For the previous feedback page, just click the button down the bottom of the page.
Andrew wrote in with an excellent comment on the issue of the deaths at the Isle Of Man races. “About the number of deaths at the TT, whilst it is an emotive subject, I can’t help feeling that to stop and say it is too dangerous just over simplifies it. Many sports result in serious injuries and death, and just how many are too many? 4 fatalities this year at the IOM, which is more than the average, but look at all the safety measures taken by those in the MotoGP/Moto2 and 3 championships, and still they occasionally have a death or serious injury. You just can’t take all the risk out of everything, and if you did manage to make something 100% safe, it is likely that no-one would do it! “You know, I think if there was an opportunity to ask those who have died there, whether they knew the risks or not, none of them would say they didn’t know it was dangerous. In fact, I suspect that if they had the opportunity to go back and do something different, it would probably be to brake a bit earlier for Balla “scary”, or maybe just be a bit smoother in getting on the throttle at Rhen-Cullen, or to be a bit more careful through Glen Helen, but to actually not compete there? I don’t know the answer for sure, but a racer’s mindset is different to that of normal people like us, who with the benefit of hindsight, still wonder if it is worth it all. But a racer will always look for a better way to be faster, and those guys certainly know how to live! “For me, I can only describe anyone who competes there as the bravest of the brave, and whilst there are a few lost from time to time, the majority who survive return time and time again. Let’s also not forget that there is a whole road race scene in those parts of the world that race week in and out on dangerous road circuits, so if you think the IOMTT is crazy, you should search Youtube for Northwest 400, or Ulster GP etc etc. Awesome stuff!” Excellent comment Andrew! Yes, I’m sure they knew the dangers – everyone does! And I suspect that if they could be given the opportunity of rewinding time and be given the option of either not racing there, or being a bit more cautious at those particular spots, I’m sure they would opt for still competing, but avoiding the mistakes they made. Those who race there are indeed a special breed, while the rest of us just shake our head sin amazement! Oh and yes, I’ve seen some of those races a Ulster GP – even crazier than IOM! John who wrote about riding his BMW K1300 through the Snowies, wrote in response to our reader’s problems with the Honda VFR1200. “I’d suggest your Honda V1200f man think about adding risers. Say 50mm. I looked at this bike closely also. (I still have my 1400 GTR for sale!). My BMWK1300 is a far more comfortable riding position than the Honda. I've done several long trips now and could not be happier with it.” Yes, I was impressed with the BMW K1300 too. Maybe he should’ve looked for a 2nd-hand one of those! Oh, and he has already had risers fitted which he said did help, but he’s still not totally comfortable with it. David wrote in with a question the display of text. He wrote: “Hi, I enjoy your articles but some of the text overlaps. Any thoughts on this? Thanks for the email, David. This is a question we get asked from time to time. You are obviously reading it on a phone or tablet. Unfortunately, the site isn't "mobile friendly" so it won't display properly on some mobile devices. It's okay on some - on my phone, for example, it's pretty good - but I know there are overlaps of text boxes and pictures on many devices. I’m sorry, but at this stage there is nothing we can do about that. I expect that eventually they will have to go "mobile friendly", but for the moment ....! They do have a 3rd-party who can make it mobile-friendly, but it's simply not practical to use that. So for the moment you'll just have to experiment with different devices or look at it on computer. Sorry I can't help you more. Aussie wrote in with a news item that Jean Beanham of Modak Motorcycles in the famous Elizabeth Street Motorcycle Precinct passed away in June. She was 92. She and her son were partners in the business and she had been involved in the motorcycle parts industry for over 60 years. To give you an idea of her significance in this industry, Aussie forwarded a clip recorded almost 3 years ago. Click here. Rod wrote in with this link to an article that claimed that motorcyclists were more attractive to the opposite sex than non-motorcyclists. Well, of course we all knew that, didn’t we? Didn’t we? Ha ha! Oh well, if you happen to be 20 and a hunk, or a beach-babe in leathers, maybe. But for blokes like a lot of us, as you say, probably doesn't apply to us!
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Speaking of Rod (who I mentioned above), A big thanks to him for giving me the links to some of the items that appear in my Blog section. Thank you! Ivor replied to the item (see last entry in July above) about motorcyclists being more attractive to the opposite sex than non-motorcyclists. He said, “I know most of us are probably old and wrinkly with a middle-aged spread and thinning hair etc, but without trying to sound immodest, I think it’s probably true. We are still active and comparatively adventurous, and live a more exciting life than the typical middle / old aged lounge-lizard. I’m thinking of that character Norm who used to be on those ads a few years ago – most of us would present a more attractive image to women than the likes of him! I should hasten to add (in case my wife sees this!) that I haven’t tried out this theory!” Hmm, well yes, I suppose compared to the “lounge-lizard” type you mention, our lifestyles probably do make us more attractive, or more interesting anyway. I have noticed people appear to be impressed or interested when they hear I ride a motorbike: but interested in the sense of that makes me something different to what they knew of me or expected, not necessarily “more attractive”. As I said, maybe if I was 20 and a hunk (which I never was – a hunk I mean) then it might be different. Con agreed with Ivor. “Don’t be too quick to put us down! For the same aged person – and all other things being equal – the motorcyclist compared to the non-motorcyclist would probably be more attractive to the opposite sex. I know I am more impressed with women I meet who ride – there is a shared interest there for a start. I could do some research for you if you want! Well, I could if my missus never found out, but she’d be onto me quick smart, so I better not.” Now, now, Con, behave yourself! Ha ha. The thing is, that article showed people who were young and beautiful, but perhaps an old bloke who rides might still be more attractive than an old bloke endlessly spread out on the lounge watching TV! We’ll leave it to any single people reading this to do the research though. Possum also wrote about the Isle Of Man. “The racers and the spectators keep coming back, the locals love the event. The Parliament of the IoM backs the races. When the tax haven crowd (Richard Branson and others) complained about the ‘inconvenience and noise’ caused by the races, the Prime Minister stood up in Parliament and spoke of the Government’s continued support of the races. The IoM is the last bastion of taking responsibility for your own actions - no wrapped in cotton wool nanny state here. Wrap your big brass balls in leather and go as fast as you can and damn the consequences!” Well said! These races raise an interesting point; of when - or if - we should step in to stop sport that is very dangerous. If everyone wants it – organisers, competitors, spectators, etc – then why should anyone try to stop it? But in all society there is a certain degree of protecting people from themselves. With the numbers that have been killed, it could be argued that this principle should be applied to the IOM. But if everyone wants it ...? And it is a fabulous event! David wrote in response to Paul’s story of the Honda VFR1200. Turns out he had looked at the same bike. He currently rides a VFR800 and offered some thoughts on it. “When riding slowly, less than 90 kph, after an hour or so my wrists start to feel tender but the moment I get over 100-110 the wind over the screen creates an air pocket on your chest and unloads the wrists. I followed a guy in the USA who put the big screen and raised the bars, then went back to stock; mister Honda knows what he is doing. One also needs to get bike-fit; I have done many 600 plus ks on the old VFR, the body position has never given me a problem. Could do with a new seat 15 years old think the padding gets a bit hard.” I love this photo! Lyn posted this on Facebook and it shows her and her bike at Uluru. Considering the distance involved, the varying weather, with the potential heat of that area, and the fact that it is so remote, I think that riding to Uluru (and beyond – she has to at least ride back home again!) is a great adventure! And much respect to you Lyn, for taking on the ride! She said she was really enjoying it, and the temperatures had been quite pleasant. Have a safe trip!
David wrote to me about the reduction of the speed-limit on the Oxley Highway. He said that many of his local riding group were complaining about the reduced limits, and wondered what I thought. Well, as I mentioned in my Blog, I reckon that the bureaucrats, and their philosophy that reducing speed-limits will cure all, is misguided and done purely so that they can be “seen to be doing something”. But, as I said there, we know that reducing the speed limit is not the answer. If there have been crashes on a section that has, say a 100kph limit, and they reduce it to 80kph, this they claim will reduce crashes. But will it? I would say that the majority of crashes that involved speed were people going way over the previous 100kph limit, so they were breaking the speed-limit anyway. Lowering the speed-limit doesn't help – it just makes the fines bigger for those who continue to treat it like a race-track and get caught. I think it can even cause crashes, because people get so frustrated at going slower than appropriate, that they either miss something through looking at the speedo instead of the road, or they become so frustrated at the person in front doing a few kph under the new speed limit that they overtake in unsafe places. And, as David and his riding mates are feeling, it spoils the fun for the rest of us who ride safely. Possum wrote in to say he’s been for a ride. “Recently back from a little ride – it took most of August ! The 40th Border Run (SA/WA Border), the Off Centre Rally (Mungerannie Pub - Birdsville Track north of Maree), followed by the SA Sidecar Gathering. (Manna Hill SA).” He asked me to mention the Far Cairn (don’t say that quickly!) Rally at Tottenham NSW on 17-18 Sept. I mentioned this on my Facebook page but it might not get to the web-site in time. Michael wrote in response to my son-in-law buying a Harley. “I've just read your naughty comments regarding Damien's find of his bike-riding-life and can only conclude that you are deliberately inciting Harley-philes to comment on your wicked words. As you so well conclude, Harleys have that solidity, style and flair that evoke visceral feelings of pack-belonging, bearing out Harley-Davidson's often quoted sales pitch, ‘We don't just sell bikes, we enable dreams’”. Michael, as you might guess, rides a Harley. Michael previously owned an Aprilia scooter, which he told us about here. He ended up trading that on a 883 Sportster (which he mentioned he was considering in the story of his Aprilia). He writes, “I have enjoyed my 2012 Sportster 883 SuperLow. Every ride brings a smile to my face to the extent that I travel interstate each year and have just passed 60,000km. Now would I have done that, and continue to do so, if riding Harleys were so uncomfortable?” Ha ha, yes I thought that story might bring some reaction from Harley aficionados! But I did give the positive side too! (To the extent that one friend reckons I “sold out” so I wouldn't offend my son-in-law or other Harley owners!). Everyone has their preferences in bikes, and I have to say that, in general, Harleys haven't appealed to me. Although I have ridden a couple of Harleys I've liked - the XR1200 I mentioned in the story, and even the Street 500. But I've also ridden some that have been atrocious! (The Nightster comes quickly to mind!). Generally, Harleys have short-travel rear suspension, which makes the ride noticeably firm, and the upright riding position means that all road-shocks go directly to your spine. All cruisers are like that, to a lesser or greater degree. That's fact. But it's how people react to those characteristics that is the thing. I've known people who could ride across the country on a cruiser and step off perfectly fine. And others who start to ache after a half hour in the saddle. In terms of Harleys in particular, as I mentioned, and as you say, it's all about the lifestyle, that “enabling the dream” as you quote from Harley. Another reader summed it up well when he said that it's all about how you feel when you ride a bike. The one that makes you smile when you ride it is the one that's right for you. And that is many different bikes to different people. You must certainly be enjoying yours, if you've put up 60,000km since you bought it. And it is obviously the bike for you if it brings a smile to your face when you ride it – as the other reader described. I'm glad to hear you are enjoying it! David also wrote in response to the item on my son-in-law buying a Harley. “Thanks for the continued good reads. Love the story re your son-in-law's Harley. (Don’t let him hear you say that you'll have to slow down for him. Ha ha).” David also had a suggestion for an article. He wondered about me doing a road-test of an older bike. “I've always wanted to read something about how old motorbikes (i.e. ‘classic’ bikes) really perform.” David has a pretty good idea himself, as he owns a 1974 BMW R/90 and a 1996 Ducati. But he says, “It would be fascinating to see if they really stack up against modern bikes. In my club, the owners of 40+ year-old bikes swear by them, but in my case the old BM suffered terribly re handling, brakes, performance. It has taken many years to bring it anywhere near the standard of the 20 year old Ducati. (I still love the old girl and ride it all the time. Recently rode it to Victoria from Byron Bay. Did 6000ks in 10 days). I don’t think for a minute the old bikes would be competitive in any way but it would be great to read one of your objective comparos.” That would be interesting actually – to take a classic bike and see how it is to ride on today’s roads and under today’s conditions. Reporting on it as a new bike almost, but of course with the allowance that it is 30, 40, or whatever, years old. I would be very interested in comments from any readers who currently ride both classic and modern bikes. In the meantime, I will see if I can score a ride on a classic bike myself.
Paul, who told us of his search to find a replacement for his Yamaha FJR1300, and ended up with a Honda VFR1200, has decided that the two must part. He is uncomfortable riding it, so it has to go. He wrote, “‘You are better off with the one you know than the new one I know.’ That sounds like a wife doesn't it, but are you thinking motor bikes? The one I know, FJR, would you believe. I don't want to get caught again with another bike that’s really not suited (although Triumph Tiger is second choice), so the search is on for FJR number two.” Yes, sticking with what you know is a safe philosophy – for wives and bikes, come to think of it! Good luck with the search, let us know what you find. Ivor wrote about the item in my Blog on going for a ride with my son-in-law and daughter. (My son-in-law on his Harley and my daughter riding pillion). “It’d be a nice family thing, going out on bikes with your daughter and son-in-law, but I’m surprised you weren’t upset about her apparent lack of motorcycle-specific clothing. An open-face helmet, no gloves and just ordinary slacks and jacket by the looks of it. (This comment was on Facebook, where there were more photos). I know what your views are on proper gear, so I’m surprised you didn’t order her off the bike until she got some proper gear!” Well, she’s a bit past the stage where I can order her around now, Ivor! Oddly enough, I wasn’t overly concerned. If she was going to ride regularly I would be, but for a kind of once-off, I just accepted it. I was going to offer her a pair of my gloves, but figured they probably wouldn’t fit. It was a concern though. As I mentioned, I left them to go their own way, while I came home to have lunch; and I was more worried about her then – when they were out of my sight!
Mark replied to my comment about the Snowy Ride. He writes, “Yes, there was a large police presence, but they ran RBTs and pretty much left the bikers alone unless they were doing really stupid things. Yes, only 2,207 entries, but seeing as the vast majority of attendees are of Ulysses member age and have been pretty much since the rides began, we have to expect a certain number will drop out yearly simply due to ageing. If only we could entice the Gen X and Y millenials to ride bikes and consider others, the ride would actually grow.” You’ve probably got a point there, Mark! It does seem to be the more mature riders who support the ride. Although there are a few young tear-aways who go down there – which has been a factor in deterring some people away. “Too many idiots now!” was a comment I heard from a couple of people after last year’s event. Glenn posted a comment on our Facebook page about a police blitz happening in the Hunter region, that I had mentioned on the page. “Wouldn't bother with enforcing 'keep left unless overtaking' or 'maintain safe distance between vehicles' or mobile phone use, apparently there is no money in that.” Yes, those items are the big killers, Glenn! Steve also posted a reply on the same subject. He wrote, “Just teach car drivers to pay more attention, apply the same rules to car drivers too - unregisterd and driving, prison and vehicle crushed, no second chance. On the phone, $5000 fine and a driving ban.” Yes, as I mentioned above, those sort of things are the real killers!
The item on Westfields wanting to ban bikies (in my Blog, November 29), brought quite a response. Here are some comments from my Facebook page. Glen: “Good luck enforcing that one. I can imagine all the incensed Sons of Anarchy T-Shirt wearers gathered outside after their banning. ‘Hey Bro, old lady wants to go to Westfields’. ‘Yeah Bro, take the Camry or the Chev’.” Sharon: “Ridiculous you can't go round banning people from doing their shopping for goodness sake!” Michael: “Stupidity reigns.” David: “It’s a step in the right direction and it’s never going to be easy so let’s give them the opportunity to try to resolve this issue.” I got into a discussion on Facebook with Annie. I won’t quote the whole conversation, but this is one comment: “I don't believe that everyone in these ‘gangs’ are necessarily worthy of the title ‘outlaw’ either. Yes, I fully agree there are criminals within ‘outlaw bikie gangs’ but there are criminals in any household, working in any school, sitting in parliament, or working in politics, police force, churches, neighbourhood watch, anywhere, everywhere. There is no way to know a ‘crim’ unless it is taken on individual merit – or lack there of.” The point had been made, during this discussion and by others, about “tarring everyone with the same brush”, which is part of what Annie was saying here. Now, some gangs exist solely because of their outlaw intent, so it would be reasonable to assume that their members are outlaw, or of outlaw intent. But there are gangs and there are gangs – they aren't all the same. And I'm sure you're right Annie – there would be people in some of the organised gangs that we would refer to as “outlaw gangs” who aren't actually outlaws at all. Now, I kind of get where they (Westfields) are coming from though, and I don't have a problem with a shopping centre banning known active criminals. But the problem is identifying who they are – as was mentioned by a few people. And that is where this point of “tarring people with the same brush” comes in: how does the shopping centre decide who is a criminal? By the clothes someone wears? As someone said, a criminal (shoplifter for example) could come in dressed in a suit and tie and have no trouble being allowed in – and commit crimes! So how do they respond to that? No, it won't work because they are making too many assumptions about people. Ivor wrote in response to the road test on the BMW F800GT. “I reckon you’re selling yourself short when you say Chris Pickett knew more about bikes. He might perhaps, and I did like his tests in Cycle Torque too, but I like the way you tell it as it is. The bit about the bike making a ‘hell of a noise’ when you slammed the throttle open – you just don’t read things like that in other tests! And of course you write from a perspective we all understand – old buggers who desire different things to young tearaways. Keep it up!” Thanks Ivor. Chris Pickett is one of the journalists that I admired: I thought his reports were good, and pretty honest. (Although the TV ones suffered a bit, sadly). And yes, I do like to tell-it-as-I-found-it. Historically, the F series bikes have sometimes been less than totally reliable, so that was more reason to mention that noise; although I hope it wasn’t an indication of some weakness somewhere. It was strange, because there were no after-effects, so I don’t know what it was. Possum also wrote in response to the test on the BMW. He has an F800GSA, which is, like the F700GS mentioned in the report, very similar in running-gear, having the same engine (but with a smidgeon less power). He mentioned the BMW having valves mounted on the spokes of the wheels, pointing outwards. I hadn’t noticed that, but yes, they do have that. Each valve is mounted on the side of one of the spokes of the cast alloy wheels, so that it sticks out to the side, making it easy to access with even a servo air-hose. Great idea! He also commented on the strange noise I heard, saying, “methinks you where in too high a gear especially as it only happened once.” Possibly, but it still shouldn’t have made that racket! Chris asked if I had read an article in the latest Motorcycle Trader magazine written by Cam Donald, that gave tips on how to do a wheelie. I hadn't. Chris said that while Cam did say that this sort of thing was best done on a dirt-bike in a paddock somewhere, the article was appearing in a predominantly road-bike magazine, and would serve as encouragement for some riders – especially those of a younger, less responsible nature – to try doing them on the road. And we’ve all seen hoons that have done it! Chris is a former police officer, and wrote: “Pretty irresponsible stuff. At the very least a wheelie can amount to the offence of ‘Not have proper control’ and taken to the other extreme if someone is injured or it's done for long enough, amount to ‘Drive Manner Dangerous to the Public’ which can result in a stint ‘At Her Majesty’s Pleasure’. Very disappointing to see the magazine print this kind of rubbish, especially from Cam Donald who comes across as not only a terrific racer and now writer, but good bloke too. Some very poor advice there I think.” I totally agree! There are so many other subjects he could have written about and given advice for. There’s enough irresponsible riding on our roads as it is; we don’t need to be promoting (and that’s what this does, intentionally or not, by writing about it) this sort of irresponsible behavior. Chris wished me a Merry Christmas and said he hoped I would get the bike of my dreams shoved in my Christmas stocking. Then he asked what the “bike of my dreams” would be – money no object. Hmm, that’s a tough one! There are bikes that would be great fun to ride, for a while; but not bikes that would be practical for me to own. In my reply to him I mentioned the BMW R1200GS, which was a great bike to ride, and very comfortable; but it was a bit heavy really. Afterwards I thought of another BMW, the BMW K1300S. What a great bike that was! But could I put up with the sporty riding-position and high-ish footpegs as a bike to own? No, probably not. But there is one thing I’d love to own – money no object and having somewhere to put it. I’d love to own an Oz Trike. I thought they were really cool! Mark, on Facebook, replied to the item about ethanol in petrol. (See December 27 in my Blog). “In South Oz they can sell E10 without telling you it's E10, as long as it was sourced outside the State. Took a few days of Googling to discover this. Cheap servos will sell old degraded 98 as 95 or 91, etc due to the fact that Unleaded Fuels have a very poor shelf-life.” That sounds very dodgy, doesn’t it! They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with that! A couple of people commented (on Facebook) about my item in my Blog on December 31st about a ride ending up in misty rain, saying that this sort of thing is just part of “the rich tapestry of riding” as one reader put it. Glenn, who lives in Qld, wrote, “37 yesterday with the same predicted for the next 2 days. I think I'd accept your miserable happily enough.” Ha ha, yes, I’d rather be damp and a bit chilly than ride in 37 degree heat!
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