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.
Tony wrote (on Facebook) in response to my Blog entry of going for my first ride of the year, which was a short ride up Macquarie Pass and into the Highlands. He wrote, “Have Ridden this road. Love it... but not so much in the wet. I remember the rainbow sheen of diesel floating to the surface once.. loved it though.” Yes, diesel spills can be a big problem on the Pass in the wet. (Where does it all come from? Are there so many trucks with leaky fuel tanks? Maybe it’s unburnt diesel from exhausts?). I love this quote from my friend, Phil Hall, writing in his Blog about cafe racers: “It seems to me that it consists of beginning with a bike that was entirely forgettable in its day, hacking it up and then reassembling it into something that is still forgettable but now also completely unsuitable for any purpose apart from parking it in the corner and saying (with a totally mystifying sense of achievement) ‘Look what I’ve done.’” Love it!! It’s so true! They look spectacular, perhaps, but mostly are, as he says, totally unsuitable to ride. (Or ride very far anyway). Now, to be fair, his Blog did include a link to a café racer that he liked. You can read the whole article – which includes a link to that one he liked, as well as some other topics – by clicking here. And speaking of café-racers, Rod sent me this photo of a Triumph Rocket that has been given the café-racer treatment by some bloke called Wenley.
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The Triumph still holds the banner of having the largest engine fitted to a road-going motorcycle. Wenley removed a lot of the excess weight; which included having the big fuel tank removed and a replacement custom-made. Totally impractical – as these things always are – but it looks impressive!
Thanks to Grahame for sharing this on Facebook. He is on the emailing-list of Ted Simon, who wrote “Jupiter’s Travels”, about his solo trip around the world on Triumph 500 back in 1973. Here is his latest mail-out: “Have you read 'Jupiter's Travels'. You should. It's about Ted Simon's solo motorcycle trip around the world in 1973 on a Triumph Tiger 500. I'm on Ted Simon's e-mail list and enjoy regular updates as to what he's up to currently. He's very active in the writing and motorcycling world even though he's in his eighties! Here is his latest e-mail:
“IS THIS A RECORD?
The other day in London I met Gianluca Renato, the marketing director of Pirelli, a very likeable, youngish man with an obviously acute intelligence. We met thanks to an introduction from a friend in Russia, who thought we might be able to help each other. Unfortunately, like too many people, he had never heard of me, and I had the uncomfortable job of having to explain myself. “Well”, I said, “I rode a motorcycle round the world and wrote a book.”
But obviously that wasn’t enough. “That was in 1973. I was on a Triumph. It took four years. The book was called ‘Jupiter’s Travels’. A lot of people have read it.”
So you were the first to go round the world? “Well, no, not really. There were others, long before me, who made very long journeys . . .” And that was when I started thinking, what does it actually mean to ride around the world? When I first told Harry Evans, the editor of the Sunday Times, that I wanted to ride around the world I was thinking only of how to describe the journey, to make it understandable – saleable, if you like. The act of making a complete circle was not at all important to me personally. I just wanted to see as much of it as I could. But I needed to raise some money and if I was going to write a book – which was always my aim – then that label, that headline “Round the World” would be important. And so far as we knew, I’d be the first to do it. Since those days in the early seventies the business of making and breaking records has grown with record-breaking speed. The Guinness thing has become a huge business. Everybody wants to swallow more eggs, jump over more buses, swat more flies, fly, float, drive, swim, climb, drop, skate, crawl further, faster, longer, than anyone else and get a certificate. I wasn’t thinking about records when I travelled. It would have been easy, for example, to nip across a few borders here and there to rack up a few more countries but it didn’t occur to me because that wasn’t the point. But now, forty years later, I think if a record would sell more books, why not? So did I create a record? If so, what would the record be? I rode a bike around the world, solo – one uninterrupted journey, on the same bike, and I rode it back to the point of departure. What’s the competition? According to Wikipedia, in 1912 an American, Clancy Stearns, rode a Henderson, starting from Dublin in Ireland, and apparently ended his journey on the East coast of America. He’s credited with being the first man to go around the world with a motorcycle. But at the beginning he was accompanied by his partner Walter Storey, and of course he didn’t ride the bike back to where he started. In 1928 two Hungarians, Zoltan Sulkowski and Gyula Bartha, started an eight-year journey through 39 countries – a fabulous journey, no doubt – but there were two of them.
Then there was the marvellous Bob Fulton, who began his journey in 1932 from London on a dare (well, actually, he was on a Douglas) and wrote a terrific book called One Man Caravan, but he finished up in New York which was not where he started from.
Then we come to the most serious competition I can find, which was Anne-France Dautheville who apparently went round the world in 1973, but the evidence is very sketchy and she seems to have started with a Motoguzzi to Afghanistan. She then went on with a Kawasaki 175 and there’s nothing about where she finished up. She’s said to be the first woman to ride solo around the world, and I’d love to meet her, but I’m doubtful that she’s Guinness Record material. Anyway, she’s a woman. Pah!
So, the big question is: Am I the first man to ride a motorcycle solo around the world, according to MY definition? And if so, will you buy my book? Somehow I don't think so, because you’ve probably already read it. But if you want to challenge my record, I’d really like to hear from you. Who else circled the globe?
Write to me: Ted@Jupitalia.com
Will, proprietor of the Robertson Pie Shop, wrote (on Facebook) in response to my item on Cycle Torque in my Blog of March 24. Correctly assuming it was his establishment I was referring to in the item, he wrote: “I have just read your comments in regards to Cycle Torque and am a bit mystified. We get a monthly delivery at The Robertson Pie Shop and according to Cycle Torque’s own website just now it is a monthly magazine. We get the same number each month and if it is school holidays, the riders of the future like to latch onto the magazine, you can't blame them for that can you? It's a good read! However if a customer asks me to keep a magazine for them I can certainly do that!” Thanks Will, yes I’ve obviously missed it. It does tend to go fairly quickly I suppose. Thanks for the clarification that you still get it anyway. In terms of how often it is published, my assumption that it had gone to a bi-monthly format was based mainly on the fact that the current edition is labelled as the “March / April issue”, which would seem to indicate that it is covering two months rather than the previous one month. So now I am mystified too! I guess we will know for sure when any stocks of the magazine do or don't turn up right about now (at the start of the next month). Once again, my apologies for the incorrect impression given by my post about you not having it. Patrick, on Facebook, commented on the item (in my Blog there) about lane-filtering becoming legal in South Australia. He wrote: “But, you know what, I still don't like doing this on the bike.” Actually, Patrick, I don't either. I prefer going up the left (not between parked cars though) rather than squeezing up the middle. But mostly I just wait in line - I'm usually not in that much of hurry. And I do worry about being squeezed by cars not keep sufficient distance apart. I realise though, that in city traffic it is vey useful, and also safer from rear-end shunts, which city drivers tend to do (usually while texting or something!).
Peter wrote suggesting I do a test-ride on an Indian Scout. He wrote: “I very much enjoy reading your reviews on motorcycles you have test ridden. I’m an owner of an Indian Scout and with my biased opinion I think they are a tremendous motorcycle. I would like to see the word about the Indian motorcycles getting out there. I thought it would be a great thing if you could at sometime do a test ride and review on one. There are also the bigger Indians but they are bigger and not much fun in traffic. Anyway, I thought your readers may be interested in the Indian motorcycles that are taking right up to Harley.” Thanks Peter. Actually, the Indian Scout is on the list of bikes I would like to test. The bigger models are just too big for my liking - too heavy (at slow speed): I would hate to drop one! But the Scout is much more manageable. From what I've read they have a great reputation, and as you say, they are really taking the fight up to the Harleys! Getting one to test is a little difficult as there isn't a dealer in my area. And all dealers don't have all models available as demos either. But, as I said, it's a bike I've had on my list of want-to-test, so I should try to organise that. Stay tuned! Bill sent in this photo of himself and a bunch of riding mates. The year is 1973. “This is in Canberra 1973. I am on the far right in the green t-shirt. Why did just about all of us have ‘crash bars’ in those days.” Those crash-bars were big too! Aussie wrote in a while in response to Ken’s story on his “Oldie and Goldie”. Unfortunately due to health problems the ol' GS Suzy sits in the garage under wraps most of the time these days. Gees I can't even sit in a car for long before my back starts killing me. However I read with great interest Ken's story about the various motorcycles he's owned and his final conclusion to which I totally identify. I toured my Suzuki 1000G through bucketing rain and blazing sun on all types of rough bitumen and dirt roads the worst being a toss up between the track from Bucketty to Wisemans Ferry back in 1983 and the Rules Point track (see my submitted article of the Alpine Rally 1985) as well as numerous toy runs, protest rides, (read; slow crawling frequent stop/starting), and numerous rallies plus some quick laps round Phillip Island circuit. It has done everything I have asked of it and done it well. One essential modification was a decent handlebar weather shield otherwise I have hung on to that motorcycle because as I stated a while ago, nothing better came along. Despite its plain no frills style I also think it looks great. It's quite a revelation to see Ken's reference to “The last of the dinosaurs to come out of Japan.” He discovered through practical experience what I have known for thirty-five years, they were the best. Aussie went on to say, “I recently watched a movie, ‘Love The Beast’ about film actor Eric Bana's passion for his 1973 XB Falcon. His father had a Ford Thunderbird under wraps in the garage. He hadn't driven it for over ten years. When asked why he doesn't sell it he replied that it was comforting just knowing that it's there. If I were to never ride my bike again, with thirty odd years and 250,000 kilometres of fabulous memories, that is precisely the way I feel about that ol' sickle. I'll never part with it.” I'm like that with my Triumph car. I bought it new in 1975, so I could never sell it. Aussie wrote a while ago in response to the mention of “Jupiter’s Travels”. He wrote in with an update: “Ted Simon wrote another book “Dreaming Of Jupiter” about his second trip around the world in 2001 aged 70. Same age as me now! It's a great read particularly illustrating how drastically the world has changed with human population growth. I highly recommend it, but read Jupiter's Travels first.” Thanks Aussie. I still haven't read “Jupiter's Travels”. I should! David sent in this rather scary photo. He explains: “Thought you might find this photo interesting. There was a passenger that Bruce discovered on his Kawasaki on arrival at Gingers Creek west of Wauchope. What he thought was a piece of old hose turned out to be a green tree snake! As he tugged it out of the bike, I heard that he jumped a lot of feet backwards. Poor old snake was dead on arrival but Bruce had no idea where he picked it up. I was on the ride too, but only as far as Kendall where we had morning tea. Our group of 7 had dwindled down to two for the ride up to Gingers, but probably a good thing as I could have ended up with the snake. Must have preferred Kawasakis to Hondas.”
Rod mentioned, in response to my comment that original fitment batteries never seem to last long, even when they are the same brand as the one you replace them with, said that the Yuasa battery in his FJR1300 lasted for 9 years! Glenn, writing on Facebook in response to my item on the write-offs I saw said, “Cosmetic damage accounts for the majority of these write offs. The wreckers who pick them up for cents on the dollar still charge as close to full retail for anything they sell.” Yes, I suppose it’s the wreckers who profit out of these. Dave, also writing on Facebook in response to this wrote, “Yes, I've seen this often. I think it’s terrible that a perfectly good bike (often nearly new) is basically thrown to the tip. What possible justification does the RMS have for such a policy? (I know they bleat about re-birthing but this would encourage that process IMO).” Some comments in response to my battery replacement. Dave wrote, “Just put lithium-ion batteries in all my bikes. Bit of an investment but I reckon it'll be worth it.” Dave mentioned that they can’t be trickle-charged though, to which Brad replied, “That is correct, the house next door to my father in law in Nowra had its garage part company from the house it was attached to, it was a pretty violent explosion / fire, it was found to be a Lithium battery which was being charged via a normal battery charger. Best thing for a Lithium is to jump start & let the vehicles charging system recharge the battery.” Glenn wrote, “I had a Yuasa AGM battery last over 10 years, it came with the bike and I had the bike for 7 of them, age determined by purchase date on the battery. Use Motobatt now, haven't had to replace one yet. Bikes see irregular use, sometimes sit for 6-8 weeks, hit the button and you're off. Give them a charge every other month with the Aldi battery charger. Never buy a standard lead acid battery again.” No, AGM are definitely the way to go. (But see previous comment regarding charging – you need the right one!). I got an email from Martin, who has moved from his previous home in Brisbane to Shefiled in Tasmania, to be near his daughter. It was great to hear from him! (We exchanged emails on many occassions over the years and share an involvement with music, as well as bikes). He referred to Geoff’s story of his ride in Tasmania, and said, “This place is motorcycle heaven!” Regrettably, he sold his bike a few years ago; but still follows this web-site. He writes, “With all my touring I have grown to love the place more and more and now work as a volunteer in the visitor information centre and get to meet heaps of motorcyclists there, and as I walk around town. I have a feeling I met Geoff when he came.” He then offered some useful information for anyone considering touring there. “Our Steam Fest is in March and Mural Fest in April, the latter is an international competition for artists to paint a mural to a theme which changes each year. The Penny Farthing race around the town of Evandale is a sight to see and is also in March. Anyone interested can Google all this info. We also have two race tracks, one near Hobart and the other in the North near Launceston, classic car and bike races take place twice a year at both venues with great all track viewing. A pity Geoff couldn't spend much time in Launceston, apart from the many attractions they have a great car and bike museum with the whole top section devoted to bikes. I would welcome anyone contacting me if they are planning a holiday, there is nothing like local knowledge to ensure a great time. Also I need to correct the Richmond Bridge date as 1823 not 1825. Richmond would be one of my favourite towns and has a prison which I personally think is better than Port Arthur and considerably much less expensive. Finally, if anyone is stuck for accommodation I have a free guest room to help fellow motorcyclists - even though I no longer have a bike.” Thanks for all the info Martin. I like Tasmania! Not on a bike though - although when I've been there I wished I had a bike! And I’ve been to that museum in Launceston – twice! Great place!
Graham responded on Facebook to Aaron’s post about his Ducati not registering beyond 99,999. (See the item in my Blog). “Built in obsolescence that makes the vehicle unroadworthy. Try the NRMA if you are a member. You can also try consumer affairs as the vehicle is now illegal through design.” Steve summed it up pretty well when he said, “That's a little amateurish for a world class outfit”. Also writing in response to that item on Facebook was Ian, who (perhaps only half-jokingly) said, “Maybe Ducati expect their stuff to break before then. Either that or remain garaged. When you call them, they probably won’t have any idea.” A reader commented on batteries, pointing out that a Lithium-ion batteries can be charged, but, “Just don’t use a typical ‘low tech’ car battery charger, instead use something like a CTEK XS0.1 or similar. Good point you make to draw people’s attention to CCA ratings. That’s very important and not something many pay attention to. Fewer still pay attention to amp hour ratings.” The amp-hour figure is usually quoted in the specifications (if people bother to read them!), but the CCA often isn’t; or not as prominently anyway. Both are important, as you say. The same reader (who wishes to remain anonymous, that’s why I’m not using a name) commented on the practical / reliability issue Aussie mentioned in referring to Ken’s story on his bikes. He said, “The bike reliability article shows that ‘old wisdom’ remains true - electronics bring unwanted complication / reliability issues; and Japanese bikes remain more reliable than (ever-improving) European bikes.” Yes, electronics! The only problem I’ve had with my current bike is an electronics problem – ironically, a fault in a sensor that is supposed to warn you of a problem! (There is no actual problem, only a fault in the sensor that's supposed to tell you there is!). Dave wrote in with a suggestion for the Ducati speedo problem (See item on my Blog page). “A cheap fix might be to get a bicycle speedo. They work fine, are accurate as long as you calibrate them (easily done) and have a huge number of functions including trip meter(s).” Thanks for that – the bicycle speedo might be a cheap (if embarrassing!) fix. Dave, who told us about his Ducati Panigale, added that he had been for a long ride on it. “I just rode my Panigale to Victoria and back. (I live just out of Byron Bay) 6000kms. Bit cold at times but I was lucky (as always) with the weather. Haven’t coughed up the cash for a comfort seat yet so bum got a little tired after a few days of long distances. But apart from that, it was surprisingly comfortable. Even for another ‘Old Bloke’. Just wish it had some luggage capacity as I had to carry everything I needed in a backpack” That’s a long ride! It will be even better when you get the more comfortable seat and maybe some throw-over luggage. Aussie wrote in with a comment on Victoria’s approach to reducing the road toll. “Down here in good ol' nanny state Vic, where lowering the speed limits is seen as the magic answer to the road toll, the police commissioner is pushing to have 80kph limits on rural roads! However our road toll is higher than ever. Of course the Government and police deny what we all know – that it's a major source of revenue, while they are being seen to be doing something. Having said this, I must say that Australian drivers must be among the most irresponsible, as I discovered when I was overseas. In UK I was sitting on the legal 70 mph in the left lane, as strictly required by law, while traffic was passing me about 5 to 10 mph faster. Then a motorcycle cop passed us all. He must have been doing close to the old ‘ton’. Everyone hastily backed off but he didn't pull anyone over as the traffic was running smoothly. Common sense in the first degree. As an old truckie from way back, I was very impressed with the courtesy shown to big rigs which was mutually returned. Driving there was an absolute pleasure.” In NSW our government is pretty much the same – they think the answer to all road crashes is to reduce the speed limit. As you say, it's revenue raising while they “appear” to be doing something about the rising road-toll. I've never driven overseas, but people who have almost invariably say the same thing, that our driving standards are well below those of other countries – especially Europe and Britain. Possum wrote to say Aussie’s story of his ride to the Alpine Rally brought back memories. He writes, “That report is about the Rally when it was a Perkins Flat - and I remember going down to the creek to watch the nudie swim! The road into the Alpine, in those days, could be beaut, or horrid. I did the 83 km from Tumut, via Bondo Forestry camp in 7.5 hours once! I got there with no front mudguard and was covered in red clay from top to bottom. When I washed the bike later, there was mud up in the valley under the tank!” Possum also wanted me to give a mention of the Far Cairn Rally at Tottenham in NSW. As he tells us, it’s all for a great cause. “It is the 10th running and the BMWTCNSW put on an excellent show, with proceeds going to MARI (Motorcycle Accident Rehabilitation Initiative), the only motorcycle-specific charity that looks after broken riders.” The only problem is, we don’t know when it’s on. September sometime? It was confused by the 2016 event, which was scheduled to be run in September or something last year, being postponed to March this year. There was supposed to still be one in September, this year but I couldn’t find a date. Anyway, I’ll draw your attention to the event and suggest following it up with the BMW Touring Club NSW if you’re interested in going. (Just don’t say the name too quickly! Ha ha).