Which beginner bike?

Ride Apart have made an entertaining video reviewing bikes for city riding. Featured is the Cleveland 250cc caferacer, Honda CBR 250 and the Suzuki DRZ 400. Whichever bike is your favourite would depend on your riding style and taste but the guys in the video do make them look like a lot of fun.

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2011 Phillip Island Classic

The annual Phillip Island Classic bike race was on over the weekend and I finally got around to paying it a visit.  It was fantastic being able to walk amongst the pit crews and bikes.  Seeing the age of some of the racers, the often delicate condition of the bikes gave me a new respect for the racing as the riders touched their knees down around the corners of this famous track.  There were many characters to be seen and obviously some beautiful bikes.  Have a look through the slideshow below this photograph for more of the day’s action.

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Deus – Sydney

I went up to Sydney to see the Annie Liebovitz exhibition but I couldn’t overlook the Deus store on this trip.  It was a beautiful store full of retro stuff and stuff made to look retro… but who cares!  It was a treat seeing all those beautiful bikes in the same room.  Here are a few images from the store.  Click on the images for a higher res versions.

Lift your game MCN

I love checking MCN (Motorcycle News) and believe that they are the one of the leaders in bike related news and reviews.  However, despite being one of the main sources of motorcycle reporting, it seems like they have absolutely no clue how to record sound for their videos.  Their early stuff is inaudible and their later stuff, like this video, sounds like a handful of nuts and bolts going through a tumble dryer.  I hope they take some of their advertising money one day and actually pay for some decent recording gear so you can enjoy the sound of the beautiful engines they feature.

My New Bike

Got my dream bike!  Triumph Bonneville SE 2009 model.  Used but still under warranty!  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  As I stare at it in my garage, I can’t believe I actually own one – such a beautiful machine.

The best way to describe the ride is… easy.  The engine barely feels like it’s ever struggling which belies the power it delivers.  Steering is quick and riding is confidence inspiring.  Coming from my Honda VTR 250 it certainly feels like a bigger bike but everything is in easy reach and the weight is incredibly well balanced.  Just like many riders out there, I wish the pipes made a bit more noise and I wouldn’t mind the handlebars being a little further forward.  Already bought some Napoleon bolt on mirrors to replace the lolly pop mirrors.

MCN recently compared it to the “new” Norton Commando and found that in the low end the Bonnie was actually quicker despite costing three times less.  Can’t wait to take it on a big ride and enjoy all it’s retro goodness.

My Enfield Ride

So I finally got around to taking a test ride on the Royal Enfield Classic C5.  I went to Eurobrit; a store that specialises in retro and classic bikes.  They are passionate about their Enfields and have a good eye for customisations.  I wont offer a lengthy write up about the Bullet as all the reviews are pretty accurate – and I am no bike expert.  However you may find my perspective helpful from someone who is not desperate to compare this bike to Hayabusas but would like to upgrade from their “learner” bike.

Currently, I ride a Honda VTR 250 and when I sat on the Enfield, there were many adjustments I needed to make.  This model had the aftermarket exhaust and rear rack.  Starting the bike was a mini ritual of centre stand down, side stand up, letting the engine warm up as it threatened to stall on idle.  As I mounted the steel steed, I nervously searched for the unfamiliar foot pegs in front of me and sat a little taller on the bike.  Accelerating the Enfield causes you to race through the gears due to the limited rev range.  Anything over 4500rpms or so was not worth reaching for.  Vibrations were aplenty with the single cylinder engine but you soon stop noticing it.  You would feel silly trying to ride fast on this bike as the clunky chassis bounces you around and the engine always feels like it is going to run out of steam.  You had to enjoy the torque as it carried you lazily around the roads, listening to the exhaust backfire as you decelerate.

All these things might sound like negatives but I had to remind myself that it was a privilege to ride such a classic machine, the same way using an old manual SLR camera might appeal to a photographer sick of high tech gadgets.  I’m not old enough to remember the classic bikes so I’m not going to pretend.  Despite this, I can appreciate why so many riders love it, as it is about moving with style not pissing everyone off with fast obnoxious riding.  Is this a bike for me?  Probably not, mostly because it would not suit the kind of riding I do.  It handled well and I believe it would be a very reliable bike for many long years, due to the simplicity of the design and lack of plastic bits.  I still love the looks and have enjoyed the helpful services and advice of the folks at Eurobrit.  Maybe in a few years time and if I stumbled on a bag of cash, I might treat myself to one.

(I snapped this photo as I pulled over somewhere nice to appreciate the bike.  Couldn’t start the bike until someone indicated to me that I still had it in gear!!!  Yes, I felt very stupid but I was too busy making sure the right stands were up or down.)

Amazing Ride

A stunning ride up Mt Hotham, Victoria.  Clean roads, cool weather on the mountain and little traffic.  On the side of the road is my friend Mark thinking that my bike had broken down as I stopped to take a picture.  Was proud of my VTR 250 for making the 1000km trip over two days.  Just need the rider to pick up some more skills.