no rules...no politics...just ridin'

Dodgey Bike Repairs

Dropped round to Dodge's place after work yesterday to see how he was progressing on my old VTX. He was finishing the clear coat on the fenders when I got there and I must say it looks pretty darn good. He and Eddie, who are sharing the cost on the VTX, have ordered parts for the front end and they shouldn't be too far away, so it won't be too long before she is ready to go.

Whilst there I took some pix of the other bikes that Dodge is working on, a Triumph Speedmaster and Rocket. The Speedmaster is practically a new bike with only 1500kms on the clock - there was a bit of front end damage on it when he picked it up from the auctions but he has finished working on it and it looks like it has just rolled off the production line. The Rocket hasn't been touched yet but he did mention what he would like to do with it, and that also sounds like it will turn out pretty shmick.

I will post an update once the VTX is finished. Keep up the good work bud!

The VTX in progress

Paint on the tank looks great

Front fender artwork

Rear fender will look hot when on the bike

The old stock pipes fitted - they actually came off Eddie's VTX

Dodgey Bike Repairs workshop

Regal, the ferocious guard dog

The completed Speedmaster

Shortened pipes look and sound good

The Rocket - waiting for some action

Some of the damage on the Rocket

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From The Mountains To The Sea

Kat & I did a shortish ride by ourselves on Saturday which was absolutely fantastic. The idea was for her to "wear in" her new helmet and jacket which she received for her birthday, nearly a month ago.

We set off from Kingscliff towards Murwillumbah and then up into the Border Ranges via Chillingham and along the Numinbah Valley. I have taken this route quite a few times before but have never done it from the south. The road surface is a little dodgy in some areas on the climb up, but once into Queensland it improves. One thing that surprised me was the traffic - or lack of. Here we were around midday on a Saturday on a dry and clear winters day and there were next to no bikes (or cars) on this route - I was amazed, but not dissapointed as it meant that we had the road to ourselves.

We stopped at the border gate for a while to take in the view and the silence - it was quite surreal standing along side a well travelled bike route and not hear anything but the wind. Riding this road is good, but it is even better when there is no one on it but you! Flatish with nice sweepers and further along there are some nice long straights that lead into tight hairpins making for some great riding. This is also one of the most heavily policed sections of motorcycle road on the coast, although we saw nothing of them. We followed this all the way to Advancetown where we then decided to head to the Hinze Dam. On arriving there we discovered that the route across the top of the dam wall has now been closed for some reason. We were planning to stop at the shop there for something to eat, but as it was on the other side of the blocked road we made the decision to head down to the beach instead.

We headed off towards Burleigh and into the traffic, travelling down to Broadbeach via Nerang and then along the Gold Coast Hwy. We found a cafe, Mermaids, right on the beach. I dunno whether they liked our leathers or not but we made ourselves at home on one of their lounges and grabbed a bite to eat whilst watching the surfers do their stuff. This place was sooo relaxing and a great way to unwind. After an hour or so of soaking up the view it was off towards Kingscliff and the end of another awesome day in Bikers Paradise.

Almost no traffic for the entire climb up into the mountains

The view over my dials

The countryside looks very dry

The GSX cuts a lonely figure on the side of the road

On the wall at Hinze Dam

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GSX1400 Review

Every now and then you read something that you wish you could have written - you know that it is exactly how you feel but sometimes struggle to find the words to convey this feeling to others. This morning I read a post on the GSX1400.org that was written by a guy from Auckland, New Zealand going by the username of beyond2000 - it was posted about 10 months back but I only just stumbled across it. It is the best review I have read on the GSX1400 by a mile so I thought I would share it....but beware....it is fairly long!!

GSX1400 28,000 km Review

It’s been just on a year since I wrote my last review on my GSX1400. Back then I had covered 10,000 kms in six months. I’ve now run this machine to 42,000 kms and my contribution has been the last 28,000kms, as I bought the bike second hand as a K2 with 15,000kms on the clock.

This is an objective review, no stone unturned and no emotional biases.

The Suzuki GSX1400 is classified as a sports tourer and is a retro, naked bike with all the modern additions that technology brings. It has fuel injection, hydraulic brakes front and rear, the front carrying six pot calipers shoving the pads onto 320mm platters, fully adjustable front and rear suspension, electronic instrumentation which has an accurate fuel gauge, clock and all the necessary warning lights. The clutch is also hydraulically activated.

The engine is an oil/air cooled unit of 1402cc pushing out 106 HP at 6,800rpm, with a hefty dose of arm wrenching torque peaking at 5,000rpm at 126nm. The torque curve has more grunt at 3000rpm, than many sports bikes have at their peak and the curve gives copious amounts of torque from 2000rpm, right through to 8,000rpm, with the redline at 9,000rpm. The dry weight of the bike is 228kgs.

Appearance.
I’m nudging 50 years old now. My teen years saw me astride bikes like the venerable Yamaha RD350 and 1973 Suzuki T350. My first bike was a 1972 Suzuki T250 Hustler., on which I did 35,000 kms in nine months even though it was off the road for two of those months due to two write off accidents. I still like the retro look and out of all the naked bikes, I found that the GSX1400 looked the meanest and smoothest of the bunch and was the only one offering fuel injection. Also, compared to the rest, the linear torque curve and output, meant it was going to be a good all round road bike, especially for long distance and two up work. For a retro bike, I like the lines, the bulk and seating position.

Ergonomics.
The reach to the handlebars suits me perfectly, as does the peg to seat ratio. The seat height is 790mm which means both feet can easily be placed flat on the ground. I am 85kgs and 186cm tall. This bike is very comfortable and long distance riding can be accomplished without getting tired, after a full day in the saddle. The gauges are easy to read and simple, with enough idiot lights for oil, fuel injection problems, blinkers, full beam and of course, neutral. I have yet to have a pillion complain about the seat or riding position. This is a comfortable bike, solo or two up and/or with luggage.

Performance.
106hp does not seem to be a lot for a 1400cc motorcycle. This is more than compensated for by the copious amounts of torque, which come as soon as the clutch is released and gives you a good arm wrenching ride up to around 8,000rpm in any gear. In fact, the peak horsepower and the relatively flat line on the torque curve, over most of the rev range, are perfect for road riding in all conditions. There is no need to rev into high RPM’s to maintain speed or move quickly and no need to change gear unless you like a good shove up the backside.

People make the mistake of getting on these bikes and trying to ride them through the gears, to the red line, like a sports bike. The action is over by 8,000rpm, so it’s better to shift at around 7500rpm and ride the constant torque wave. This makes for very quick acceleration with standard GSX1400’s pulling just under 3 seconds from 0-100kmh.
The good thing about lower horsepower and more torque, is the ability to lay the power down, coming out of a corner. Sure, you can light the back up if you are not careful but the torque seems to cause the bike to squat down and shoot out of the corners, which gives it a bit of an edge over the go easy on the throttle, super sports.

Wheelies? No problem; on the throttle in first, back off slightly and crank her and she’s up no problem. Because of the weight of the motor, a short shift is required to keep her up in second and from there on in, it’s up to balancing the quarter tonne beast with a full tank.

Stoppies? I’ve seen shots of people doing stoppies on these, but it’s not my idea of a picnic in the park. I prefer not to stoppie in the event I go to far and have this behemoth of a bike, bury it’s handlebars in my back. I have no aspirations to becoming a pavement pizza.

Speed? It’s a big bike, carrying quite a bit of weight. It takes some serious amounts of ponies to push a large machine through the air at very high speeds. With my face nearly jammed on the dials and tucking in real tight, lying over the tank, I’ve had her up to 253kmh. That isn’t too bad considering the air pressure on an unfaired bike. I read an article somewhere, that on a dyno, with no air pressure to worry about, they hit 290kmh.

I once pillioned a friend who is heavier than me and both of us sitting upright, touched 230kmh. Getting there was no problem but with the heavier pillion and added air pressure of two wide eyed bodies plowing through the air, that was about it. But this bike is seriously quick to 220kmh and 240kmh, solo, comes up reasonably fast as well.

Two up riding is a breeze. A pillion is virtually unnoticed as far as affecting power goes. Hills, overtaking, fast takeoffs and general all around riding are no problem and make no difference to the way the bike moves.

Handling.
This is an area of controversy. Originally, when these bikes were test ridden and reviews started coming out, the handling was rubbished with comments like lardy, a whale, cumbersome, heavy etc. On the stock, factory suspension settings, they are quite right.
When I first got my bike, it took me a while to get used to it and once I was and really started to push it in corners, I got a bit of a fright. In high speed sweepers (160-180kmh) if you hit some undulations in the road, it would wobble and weave, which was a little disconcerting like riding a jelly around the edge of a desert bowl.

I finally found an article on the best tweaks for this bike, dialed in heaps of preload front and rear, maximum compression on the rear, fiddled with the damping and now it’s as good as it gets for such a bike, without going for after market suspenders. It’s made a huge difference to the handling and stability.

In short, this bike will stay with the sporties when pushed. I am sure there are those who have ridden with me that will vouch for this. It’s quite amazing that a bike of this size and weight will actually corner like it does in the sweepers, but it’s even better in the real tight stuff and thrives on tight chicanes and corners.

Come and ride with me.
I jump aboard the GSX1400. I turn the key and both the speedo and tach needles do a full sweep across the clocks. The starter is thumbed and 1400cc of bullet proof motor, bursts into life. The clutch is released and I leave my property, taking my local roads to my favourite playground.

I’m in the country, the sun is shining and the roads are dry, roads I know like the back of my hand. The first short straight appears; the silky smooth Suzuki gear box gets kicked down a cog and the right grip is twisted hard. The front skims the ground in second gear and the bars go light. The awesome feeling of sheer torque pulls my arms forward and I lean towards the front of the bike to counteract the increasing forces. The horizon rapidly approaches as I flick into third and then fourth. Clutchless changes are no problem.
Now in fifth, on the six speed box, the needle hovers around 230kmh and the first sweeper approaches and under the helmet, no one can see the maniacal grin that splits my face.

The front, adjustable brake lever, is pulled slightly with two fingers, the throttle blipped and into fourth, then third; I slide up to the tank to get the weight over the front with a little trail braking into the corner as the bike is laid over. It drops in without effort and with slight throttle control I hold the line. As the corner exit approaches, the throttle is turned more and more and the bike stands up easily, powering into the next section. A tight series of corners is next.

I counter steer the bike hard into the left hander and feel the left foot peg, feeler bolt sliding across the asphalt and my boot jumps up and down a little with the bike heeled right over. The tyres are warm and grip is now at its best. Counter steering again and the bike immediately drops into the right hander, then back over to the left. The handling on this bike is sublime; it goes exactly where you want it. Haul on the front brake hard and the pads bite into the disks, slowing the 250kgs (wet) down remarkably quick, ready for the hard left hairpin; pick my line, turning in late to get the best view around the corner, change down, drop her over, off the brakes, hit the apex, throttle open, slingshot out of the exit with the beautiful sound of twin exhausts in full song. Oh what pleasure, indescribable feelings of euphoria and that adrenaline rush that sweeps your body when you ride to the edge and push a big bike to it’s limits.

A more open chicane is just ahead, I power down the short straight and chop down through the gears once more, throw her into the sweeping left, pegs scratching once again; this is a tight corner so more counter steering input is applied to the bars, to heel her into the right hander. A little head shake develops as the power is applied along with the counter steering forces and over she goes into the next gentler bend with the needle hitting 170kmh. This bike is a pleasure to ride. On we go, maintaining the pace and enjoying the seemingly endless series of bends this road dishes up.


Yes, it handles surprisingly well for a large heavy sports tourer and its lots of fun to ride.
Ground clearance can be an issue when it’s pushed really hard but I have found hanging off the bike allows me to corner even harder when required and if needed.

Summary.
I haven’t got tired of this bike. It does all I need it to. I can ride all day and then do it all again without discomfort. There comes a time, when you ride a lot, that you think it would be nice to have more power, so you start eyeing up the hyper sports tourers and the more rapid sporties. Then after a break you get back on the GSX1400 and you realize all over again, what a brilliant all rounder it really is and you go out and surf the torque wave again and you know, you just can’t part with it. It’s got under my skin like no other bike ever has. There’s something very satisfying about throwing a big heavy sports tourer through the twisties, going smooth on the throttle and hearing some harder bits touching down. You can actually ‘ride’ this bike and it requires your attention and input at all times. Stress relief, is a throttle twist away.

You can ride it lazily along in any gear but when you want some fun, it’s willing and able enough to accommodate you. I thought the hoon in me had been long killed off, which is why I settled for a sporty tourer, but this bike has reawakened that wild element that has lay dormant for so long. But, you know what? The remarkable thing is, that it does exactly what you want. Yes, I ride it “beyond” it’s design brief, but it loves it and so do I.


Pros.
Comfort, useable power, torque (oh yeah), reliability, heaps of under seat storage, handling, good fuel consumption when ridden normally.

Cons.
It likes tyres, ground clearance issues when pushed hard, fuel consumption when going hard.
Well written mate - a fantastic review in my eyes. Click here for the original post.

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Laverda Concourse

The annual Laverda Concourse Bike Show was on yesterday and Eddie, Dodge, Grasshopper and myself rode in to check it out. On a perfect winters day across the river from the city centre and beneath the Story Bridge there were plenty of bikes to drool over - choppers, sportys, oldies, trikes and even scooters - the full gamit of two/three wheeled pleasure was on show. All up we spent about 3 hours catching up with familiar faces and looking over what was on display - Grasshopper even had his FXR there, trying to entice someone into buying it, although I dunno how he went!

I got a few photos but there was a lot more on show - click on the pic below to check them out.

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Suzuki B-King

Well the GSX1400 has reached the end of it's production cycle and Suzuki are just about to release it's replacement for sale in the UK - the supercharged 1350cc B-King. The concept bike was first shown to the public in the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show - kind of grows on you after a while. The thing I really like is the underseat exhaust, although I don't know if the pillion will be as comfortable as the GSX, and the performance figures - 176bhp - making it the fastest naked production bike in the world.

I have not heard if they will be releasing it here in Australia but really hope they do. For further info check out the B-King UK website.

The replacement for the GSX1400 - the new Suzuki B-King

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GSX On The Dyno

Well I had Monday and Tuesday off so I planned to get the bike dynoed on the Monday and ride on Tuesday - yeah right!!

Got to Springwood Suzuki at about 10 and Andrew was able to put the bike up and on almost immediately. After he set it all up he told me that he would zero the map in the PCIII and then start on the custom mapping. Cool, I thought!! After about half an hour and a few runs he came out of the bubble and told me there was a problem with the air/fuel ratio and needed to investigate further. I mentioned that I may have an issue with the fuel pump and so he checked the fuel pressure - turns out that the pressure dropped off significantly as the revs increased and so the bike was running very lean. He removed the tank and fuel pump and checked it all, cleaned what he could and then ran it again - same result. Andrew told me that it was pointless gong any further until we sourced a new pump - he also told me that a new one would set me back $1000 (bloody hell!!!!!) and there were none in the country that he knew of. He did a bit of ringing around looking for a second hand pump but couldn't come up with anything. I told him that I knew a place that may have one and so rang Victorian Motorcycle Wreckers where Snapey's (from the GSX forum) old 14 now resides. Lucky for me they still had the pump and so I got them to overnight it up to Springwood Suzuki - at about a 1/4 the cost of a newbie too! It was now obvious that I wouldn't be riding Tuesday and so decided to head home. They gave me a loan bike to get around on - a GS500 - and bloody hell I felt like a giant on it. So close to the ground - my knees were still bent with both feet planted on the ground.

Anyway, they rang me on Tuesday morning and told me that the pump was there and to come back in about 2 in the arvo to pick it up. I got down there about half 1 just in time to see Andrew doing the final run on it. After finishing up he told me that the replacement pump needed a bit of work (bent mounting bracket, clean out, etc) but it seemed to have fixed the pressure problem. The air/fuel ratio was now in the right range and so the extra 18 ponies finally showed up!

I kind of half expected there to be a problem with the pump because it had started sounding very sick when priming - instead of the smooth sound it usually makes it was kind of groaning and struggling. I am glad I took it to the dealer instead of just a dyno shop because the problem was fixed, although it did cost a bit! I watched Andrew on the dyno and he walked me through what he was doing, which I really appreciated. This issue also explained why I was able to get between 370 and 400kms a tank - I was running way to lean.

As I rode away from the shop I immediately noticed how much smoother it was down low - I gave her a bit of a tweak and wow, thats when I could really noticed the difference. It is like everyone else had told me - heaps smoother and with a rear wheel power gain of almost 20% under me, it felt sooo, sooo good!

From 100 up to 118hp - a pretty substantial power gain

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How The Rocket Is Built....

This cracked me up when I first watched it - wonder how much of it is true??

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Nearly.....

Phew, I was lucky this morning on the way into work. I took my usual route through Cooparoo to check my mail box and reached the Stanley Street intersection where I was forced to look directly into the early morning sun for traffic. I saw what I thought was a gap and took off to merge when I hear a horn and check my mirrors to see a lady very hard on the brakes and right behind me. Obviously I had not seen her and had ridden directly into her path. This near miss really only hit me when I got off the bike at work (my heart is still pounding now) - I was extremely lucky not to be spread across the road. She did a good job in trying to avoid hitting me and for that I thank her, whoever she is.

This incident was totally my own fault. Another example of not looking hard enough - us bike riders can never take anything for granted!

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Bernie Smith - Rest In Peace

I try to take a realistic view of life riding a motorcycle....the great times on the road, the friendships along with the risks we all take. On this last Monday an accident occurred where a guy (Bernie Smith from the Coomera Cruisers) lost his life while riding to work on a quiteish section of road at Oxenford on the Gold Coast, and that kind of shook me a bit. I didn't know him, but it really made me stop and think that it can happen anywhere, any time - I also thought of his family and friends, and what they must be going through right now.

I heard about the accident on the news but was made more aware of it through one of the forums that I hang around on. I read a post that was written by someone who was on the scene immediately (it is a little graphic)....

(I had initially posted what I read but have since removed it from here by request of a family member)
My thoughts go out to Bernie's family as well as the Coomera Cruisers at this time.

Footnote:
Something that I found a little concerning was a report of the accident that appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin. It included an interview with one of Bernie's friends who was clearly upset over what had happened and according to the gutless reporter-with-no-name, he threatened to "burn down the Gold Coast Bulletin offices if the paper accused Bernie of being at fault". Why did they have to publish that?? The guy is upset over the death of a mate and annoyed at the constant media hype over "crazy motorcyclists" - talk about trashy, cheap-ass reporting by someone who won't put their name to a story.

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