Reefton Spur

Reefton Spur

After riding backroads around Emerald and Gembrook on Friday after work Greg and I met with Kee and all decided to ride Reefton Spur early Saturday morning. Kee is going to be the camera man and STIG 2 in 1, racing his BMW 135i coupe with GoPro mounted on the bonnet ,filming us.
We decided to meet at Gembrook for a morning coffee at 8am and then head to Reefton.
Andrew SMSed at the right time last night asI had almost forgotten to send him the invite.
Everyone arrived at Gembrook around 8am but cafe was closed and we decided to go to Warburton and have coffee there.

Gembrook Cafe, Vic
Gembrook Cafe, Vic

Greg also called Wooly while at Gembrook and told him we were doing Reefton this morning. Wooly got ready within minutes and caught up with us in Warburton. Now we had 4 bikes and car: that is 2.5 BMW bikes 800GS, 1200GS and Husqvarna TR650 Strada(its probably 80% BMW) and Suzuki DR400. All of us had a knobby tyre set on the bike.
We had a cup of coffee with choice of pies and cakes . I had a carrot cake so now fully energized we headed down to Reefton.

Warburton Bakery, Vic
Warburton Bakery, Vic

I have started off a little bit slower and in first corners I was decelerating harder before entering a corner, then I got into a rhythm and started to hold throttle at a more constant position just slightly slowing down before a sharper corner and then accelerating gently out of the corner.
By the middle of the Reefton Spur probably 20 minutes from the start of the twisty road I was a lot smoother on the throttle , though in two corners went a little bit wider and touched the middle line. I didn’t want to lean further as I was worried I’m going to run out of the rubber on the front tyre.
Through those turns I used up all of the front rubber and the side chicken strips started disappearing completely and I am not a footpeg scrapper. The rear tyre still had probably another 5mm of the usable rubber you can see it by different color and texture of the rubber surface on the edge to the color of the rest of the tyre after the ride.So you can still lean a bit more on the rear tyres but i didn’t want to have the front wash out.
With other less knobby or a more rounded tyre you can probably lean further safer but these ones I better be a bit more careful.

Reefton Spur
Reefton Spur

We stopped half way through at the intersection with the Woods Point road for a bit of rest. Regrouped and took off again. Kee was now filming with camera mounted at the back of the car on the boot facing forward, filming himself and bikes through the windscreen
After that we stopped for a rest at Marysville.

Marysville, Vic
Marysville, Vic

After Marysville we rode Black Spur the road going to Healsville. Andrew went straight home. I refueled at Healsvile and we went further to Kinglake,
One stretch of road near Kinglake was really narrow and corners were even tighter.Cars could barely fit into the lane. Good thing that the speed limit was only 60 and upcoming traffic was not going too fast.I was getting a bit tired with cramps in the shoulders started to appear when we passed St.Andrews and got to Warrandyte. After that we all went home.
Overall it was a good day and lots of fun riding those twisties. It was my second time on Reefton. First time I went there last year on my back then Suzuki GS500 with “L” plates on.That would have been only 1-2 months of riding that I have done since getting the license. That time I was really stressed, every corner was making me use a lot of energy and concentration. It was taking me longer to process all the information, I was paying too much attention to whats in front of me instead of whats around the corner. Didn’t know what line to take, how to lean etc.
I am still learning now, but I think some of the things are being automatic now and I dont have to think to much about it. Its still not natural but its getting a bit more fluid now, at moderate speeds I can go from corner to corner a lot smoother then before and sometimes not even using brakes.
I was avoiding Reefton Spur over the last year as I thought it was too hard and I need more practice before next attempt. Now I think I can go there more often to practice those cornering skills.

Riding gravel roads in Gembrook

On one of the weekends we decided to meet with Greg(on Husky) and Andrew (on BMW R1200GSA) at Gembrook for coffee and go a for a ride after that.
I thought we were just gonna do the local twisties but Andrew wanted to do the gravel. I didn’t even put the adventure boots on and was not really prepared to do the off-road today and Greg was in the same boat saying he would have brought the tool-bag just in case.
Oh well we decided to still do it.
The gravel roads were moist from the rain that was going on for the last few days.Some patches were reasonably dry but the ones in the shade were really moist with few puddles of water.
All was good until we took a left turn I think towards the Power lines section in that area. It was slowly going uphill and one section on the right had all the trees chopped, some sort of logging track.
That is where I had my first slide which is not in the picture. I was trying to go around the puddles went closer to the curb side and then turn left but front washed away and I slide into the curb , it was soft and at walking speed so no issues.
I looked at the surface and it was wet slippery clay stuff not much of the gravel in the section.
Andrew had TKC80s on his 1200GS with traction control and ABS ON Greg still had knobby Pirelli Rally in the front and Mitas 09 at the back they felt some wobbles but it was not as much issue as it was for me on my new Pirelli Scorpion Trails.
They were holding fine on gravel and on drier stuff but on the wet clay they were just like skates on ice. They felt and looked like slicks after mud filled up the thread groves in the tyre.
They asked me if we should turn around and go back to the main gravel track I said I will try again and went first now.

taking a nap
taking a nap

hand brake u-turn
hand brake u-turn

Only managed to do another 100 meters before another slip.This time rear was caught in the little rut and washed out coming around towards the front so the whole bike went sideways to the road and slid from left side of the road to the right side while still being upright and then fell again into a soft stuff mostly leaves and grass so there were no issues. It happened so quickly that the guys didn’t even see how it happened. It was similar to a police stunt u-turn using the handbrake to do a 180degree u-turn.
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This time we decided to turn around and take another route.The other section was alright it was more gravely and bike was staying upright.
Andrew let me test ride his 1200GSA, it was my first time on 1200GS.First I could not even take it of the side stand, his seat is high and he dialed his electronic suspension to the highest mode too.So I was barely touching ground.If I am touching ground with my right foot I can’t reach the side stand.So he removed it for me and switched into the 1st gear and then I went.It was so heavy at standstill that I couldn’t move it but as it started moving it felt very light.
The gears felt lower then Versys and sound coming from the engine was interesting too. But i was surprised how clunky the gearbox was I was expecting the opposite from the German engineers. Anyway the standing on the foot pegs and riding in the saddle both were comfortable for me on 1200. The only issue would be the height and the weight of the bike. I also always liked the look of the 1200GS bikes and I got the GS bug again now.

Fallen tree
Fallen tree

Few minutes later we swapped the bikes back and got to a section where a big fallen tree blocked the road. First thought was to turn around as we are not in 4WD and not carrying chainsaws with us. Then decided to ride around the tree through the high grass, ferns and bushes. When I road the bike through that stuff it felt like it was suspended in the air while riding over the brunches grass and other soft debris.

Apart from injured pride, it was a great day out overall, lots of fresh air and emotions.

Muffler dent repair

During last road trip I dented the muffler in one of the big long pot hole at high speed. Suspension got compressed and clearance got reduced. There was a bit of noise but I didn’t even notice the dint until few days later. So my speculation is it was the pothole.
I thought I would need a new muffler or need to take it to a specialist to fix but after talking to one of the guys at bike shop he said that you can do it yourself. So I decided to try it.
First I have drilled out all the rivets from the muffler. You need a corded drill to make it easier. Cordless drill battery will die after one rivet and it takes a lot longer to drill one, so save time and borrow corded drill from someone. Then removed all the internals, the cone shaped mesh pipe and  insulator thing which I think is similar to pink bats insulator and has some sort of crushed glass or something similar, makes your skin and eyes itchy. So beware and wear the gloves probably tough rubber gloves which you could through away later. I had to wash the leather gloves in soap to get rid of the itchy dust.

Also try not to inhale that dust either might not be very healthy.

You need to open the can from both ends to make working on it easier. You don’t have to cut it in the middle. I was using thicker pipes and small heavy items to roll and bang it into the proper shape.

After it was more or less of a desired shape. I sanded it with the coarse sandpaper first longwise not across and finished with the finer sandpaper in the end. It worked out to be even better color then it was before. I prefer the brushed aluminum color more then shiny reflective stainless steel.

When assembling it back try to distribute the insulator evenly around the mesh pipe.

After you put both caps on both ends of the muffler on you can rivet it back. I have ran out of the correct size rivets half way. I  was at the Bunnings Warehouse today and didn’t know that the other rivets I had were too small. Now I have to install it so that I can ride it to work in the morning and then take it off again tomorrow and finish riveting.
I have assembled everything late in the evening and decided to test it. Sounds a little different , it’s leaking air in connection to the main pipe, not sitting all the way in,  sounds more like Harley now :). Wellwill fix it tommorrow after I get more rivets .

Next day I removed it again, installed the missing rivets and reinstalled it back on the bike. Made sure all the connections to the main pipe were tight so that it didn’t leak any exhaust. As during  the morning ride I have noticed its not that its making more noise but also stinks when you sit at the intersection. So that was in my best interest to make it proper.

Next day test rode again and all was good.

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BMW R1200GS 2004 test ride

I had taken a 2004 model of R1200GS for test ride, It looked nice and I wanted to buy it.

it felt heavy, gearbox clunkier. it has dry clutch so have to switch to neutral all the time as you  cannot hold clutch in otherwise it can burn clutch quickly

And gear shifting 1st to neutral not accurate and sitting in traffic or stop and go traffic too difficult to gear shift all the time .

  1. when you are stopped already you need to shift Neutral into 1st,
  2. then switch position to have right foot on the break ,
  3. ride for 3 meters then stop . With left foot on the ground , right foot on the rear break to have control of the bike , if you use front break that’s too aggressive for low speed stops
  4. then switch position right foot on the ground left on the gear lever and right arm on front break.
  5.  shift 1st into N again.

where with wet clutch you can leave your right foot on foot break and in 1st gear no need to shift back and forward into 1-N and just hold clutch in. might need to test the water cooled GS as it has wet clutch.

on the  highway it was very buffety even with very large tall screen it had.
It’s ok bike very different but not better to switch from versys
And my versys accelerates quicker I think

You can feel 1200 has a lot more moving metal parts
When I accelerated on fwy It felt like you are sitting on big coffee grinder or a bag of spanners.

Also when you rev bike leans to the right a little, which you can get used to, can be used as a party trick.

people say it has character. yes i does have some character but for commuting i think its too much of a hassle especially on Nepean Hwy in Melbourne and stop and go traffic. It would be all right if you spend 90% of the time on highways.

I was bit disappointed with that example, I had higher expectations from it. Maybe it was just old.

Day 1 Melbourne to Horsham

cheltenham-to-horsham
First day of the trip
Finally packed all the gear: cloth,food, tent,sleeping mat, sleeping bag and other camping gear.
I was a sunny warm day with temperature floating just below +20C.
Finally we took off i think it was around 5-6pm .
After we left home just couple of blocks down the road I have noticed one of my mirrors was getting lose, I would straighten it and with a bit of wind and acceleration it would fold back so we needed to stop and make a quick fix. We probably spent good 10 minutes searching for the right size allen key, I was almost ready to go back home to get it when Greg finally found it. Removing the spring washer and re-tightening it again seemed to have worked.
Next stop was in South Melbourne servo on Kings Way to get some gas,as Greg was turning into it, his front washed out, he barely saved it by putting a foot down. He had a new Pirelli Scorpion Rally knobby tyre installed on the front for the trip and haven’t scrubbed it in yet.
Next fill up was in Ballarat, temperature dropped significantly ,we were freezing , the hands and the whole body was freezing.
I went around the back of the servo and put the the thermals on. The servo assistant started cracking up some jokes about Horsham as soon as he found out we are heading that way.
Next hour and half was reasonably boring ride in the dark to Horsham.
We got there probably around 9-10pm. We stopped overnight at my brother in-law’s home. Had some food , drink and went to sleep. That was the end of the first day with total distance covered only around 316kms (technically i think we only rode for an hour in daylight).

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Luggage pannier rack

Worked for 2 weekends on these pannier racks with my dad. Its taken about 10 hours of welding and grinding in total  and 4 hours of priming and painting.

On first attempt we used the tube bender from Bunnings. We spent couple of hours bending the pipes to match the Ventura rack but the handles of the tool were bending before the pipes would. So i have returned it to Bunnings after an hour of use, with both handles fallen off, bolts and nuts come of too. That pipe bender is only capable of bending garden hoses i think.While it would be nice to have a pipe bender at home hydraulic or similar, we still had to go and make rack just by bending all the pipes around the knees.
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On the night before the long trip ,not perfectly shaped but close enough we got the rack ready. We tried to follow the shape of the Ventura rack, but It came out bit wider near the seat and the brackets that we welded on to go under the seat into the same spot where Ventura racks were appeared to have a lot more flex then original Ventura. so we decided to add another set of brackets as there was another set of holes  we could use on both ends of the pillion grab handles. 
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That gave it a lot more stability and rack was flexing a lot less. we then added side pannier frames ,rectangular loops, it was now getting more solid. Tested with the heavy rear bag and tried to shake it. It could still flex a little bit, I didnt want to have a tired metal in those places where we bent the brackets so we welded little plates to the side of the brackets to stop them from flexing. Now its very solid.
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I sanded it and used a round file at place where joints were.
It was already around 8-9pm when i started applying the first layers of prime coat and being in a hurry and having to leave around lunch time next day I had little time to spare so I was applying more layers of primer every 20-30 mins as soon as it touch dry.
Then started sparying with black paint and primer started to float above the paint in multiple places. I guess it wasnt set yet.
I have applied probably 2-3 layers of paint on top and started installing the rack around midnight.

even next day when we left to horsham when i taken the bag off the rack the paint still wasnt set properly in some places as touching the bottom of the bag was leaving stain marks.

After the trip a lot of the paint got stripped at the places where bags were rubbing it and playwood that supported the bags also was like abrasive to the paint.
now i might take it of again and do it properly this time spray and dry for few days before recoating and leave to set for few days idealy in the sun

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Trying the rack on the bike

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Fuel and Water containers

As we are going to the Australian Outback where the Gas station are as frequent as polar bears in Moscow
,some OZ people actually believe its still the case – bears walks the streets and everyone just drinks litres of vodka every day to prevent the blood from freezing.
While there might be just enough petrol in the tank to get from most of points A to most of the points B. Some Gas stations only operate during certain hours of the day and there is a chance that some might run out of fuel.
I was thinking of extending my range a little, I didn’t want to pull a fuel cistern behind me so I wanted something compact and within the budget.
There are few nice cans on the web like Rotopax, they are not too expensive but I don’t have hard panniers to attach them to.While a collapsible can like a bag from the wine cask would have been good for my setup I think they are around 100$ mark and still need to wait for them to be shipped interstate which I might not have enough time for now,
so I have found really cheap solution at SuperCheap Auto 15$ 5 Litre plastic fuel can looks good, its skinner and taller then standard cans, and fits well on the passenger footpeg with 1-2 straps.
I got 1 petrol and 1 water container. Water is as rare in the Outback as petrol too. I bought a 2 litre camel backpack for that as well,but I think it would be more comfortable to carry nothing on your back

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Wiring electrical chargers etc

On the trip I need to charge few devices: CB Radio Uniden UH076 – cigarette lighter plug, GPS Garmin car type- USB/Cigarette lighter, IPhone – USB,
GoPro battery chargers -cigarette lighter x 2 ,plus I got a portable USB battery bank- charged via USB and Scala Rider Intercom – USB)
Total : 4 USBs and 3 cigarette lighter plugs at the most with most likely 2 USBs and 2 cigarette plugs at the same time.
1st plan was to create a circuit-board/distributor box with one incoming wire and multiple outgoing wires with bullet connectors. Then cut and convert all cigarette lighter plugs to bullet plugs.
including the cigarette to USB adapter.
Then I thought doing the same distributor box with multiple connectors but using Anderson connectors.
when I realised it would still take a while to wire all that,I decided to run a cable from battery to the handlebars and have an Anderson plug on the end. I bought 1 splitter box which has cigarette lighter plug on one end and
3 cigarette sockets and 2 USB sockets on the other end. so I will replace plug with Anderson connector and will connect to the main wire with the same anderson plug which dangles
near handlebars
all the devices when connected will be sitting in the tank bag, where it will keep it away from the dust and rain if any happens.
Main wire at the battery end I crimped using eyelets and added in-line fuse holder, Connecting eyelets to the bike battery was a !#%!$%$ nightmare.
the nut on the terminals which fell into the bike intestines few times is hard to keep in place, and bolt is too short to reach it even if nut sits on the battery.
so the nut needs to be in the air for the bolt to reach it especially after you add few extra eyelets to the terminals, I have now 3 extras( 1 for the LED lights,1 for the under-seat plug and now the front connection)
to make it work you need to jam something into the battery terminals first like a bit of cardboard or I used wire rubber insulator ,
then jam the pesky nut there, only then you will have some luck of getting them hooked together.
who ever dealt with that probably understands me now how frustrating it can get.
So if you gonna project manage the trip preparation process, this battery connection should be done as a task of its own, after accomplishing which you can have a beer!
Also next time I might try using a longer bolt.
It was quite fiddly to route the cable so I had to remove all the fairing and fuel tank to make this work easier, and that way I could place them into the same spots as other cables and tie them properly

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Choosing boots

Last week of preparations before the trip to Flinders Ranger and the Australian Outback
This weekend I have been running around between bike shops, Bunnings,Masters, Jaycar and SuperCheap Auto.
One of the items on the shopping list was the adventure boots which would offer more protection then my city riding AlpineStar Touring boots but also wanted something reasonably comfortable.
after searching around ,a bit of research ,and trying few boots, Forma adventure boots looked like the best choice. They much comfier then standard off road boots , comfier then couple of other brands boots I have tried,
still offer good protection,
they are waterproof, they dont feel like ski boots ,you can still walk in them like normal hiking shoes and not bunny hop like Armstrong on the moon , the sole is similar to the hiking boots , so it wont slip in a mud, sand or wet grass,
as oppose to some AlpineStar boots i have seen which had flat sole, and with RRP price of 350$ they are 50% cheaper then Alpinestar or SIDIs which go for around 600-650 at PeterStevens.
I have spent few hours at A1 store deciding what size to get – 41 or 42. 42 was a bit lose with normal sock but fits ok with hiking sock and makes walking easier(still a bit of movement around the heel).
41 fits all-right with thin socks but big toe touch the front of the boot, and starts pushing against the wall during walking, but sitting on the bike is fine.
so been trying them on and off few times and decided to for the 41s after trying them with thicker sock, which sort of fixed the problem of toe touching the toecap
yes this boots have a bit of toecap,not sure if its metal,plastic or just hardened leather, my touring boots dont have it, and maybe the toecap is actually the cause of this discomfort
when I was choosing hiking boots I also found the Catterpillar boots uncomfortable in that area with them having the toecaps,
so opted out for the ECCOs at that time. I love ECCOs,I have 4 pairs of different kinds, the most comfortable shoes, can recommend anyday ,
and none of them had any issues over the years.I have had some for about 9 years , I wish they did motorcycle boots ,
as they would be the most comfortable motorcycle boots.
sidetracked a little here, so I got the 41s with the hope of them stretching and moulding to my feet a little
here is the picture of them , side by side with touring shoes:

Friend of mine has the same boots and used them on couple of trips to outback in NT and back
where he tested them in river crossings and a fall in a soft sand, where he said his bike fell on him , yeah not him falling off the bike .
sort of like jockey been thrown by the grumpy horse over the barrier, and then because his leg was stuck in between the bike or foot-peg
and the panniers he pulled his bike along during the flight, so when he landed on sand , his bike landed on top oh him ,
he was twisted like a pretzel but the boot kept the foot straight and protected from twisting and pulling the muscles or whatever that can be pulled
and my road boots they are quit soft, fit like a sock but also can rotate around a little like a sock too.
so here are some of the reasons I decided to go with Formas. Will probably also write a report on them ,how they performed on the trip

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Walhalla town

last Friday which  was a public holiday (Anzac day ) in Australia, we decided to do a day trip to famous Walhalla town.
map-trip-to-walhalla

Star Hotel
Star Hotel

This town is popular  for gold-mining heritage, it features buildings that were built during the gold rush, old mines, couple of camping grounds,  mountainous terrain which is popular with hikers and 4wd drivers, trees with very bright yellow and red color leaves at this time of the year, which could make you feel that you are in Europe – just a nice and relaxing place to visit.

old gold vault
old gold vault used to hold 70 tons of gold

The plan was to go for a few walks, have some meal and coffee in town and go back to Melbourne. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny, with few cool drafts at the bottom of the town or when in shade. It taken us couple of hours to get there. The road to Omeo was a straight line freeway with not much to see which was quite boring, but after Omeo it transforms to a nice twisty road with wide sweeping corners and lots of green trees on both sides. This road is great for motorcycles, I have done it before on the way to camping grounds north of Thomson Dam. Saw few bikes in Walhalla,  but there were a lot more four wheel drives covered in mud passing through the town and stopping there for coffees.

We had some coffees and sandwiches there too at the cafe next to the “Star Hotel” .
Walhalla 25 april 2014 - 29Altogether i think we found three places that sell beverages and meals but they didn’t have much variety of food just sandwiches, pies, focaccia at one place. I was hoping for a more substantial meal like steak or something similar, actually a wood fire pizzas i think would well here, the smoke will lure in most of the tourists. Also not sure what you can have there for dinner if you decide to stay there overnight. Probably good idea to bring some snacks or easy to cook meal with you and cook it at the nearby camping grounds.

There are few tours you can do while there, you can go to the Extended Tunnel Mine tour which takes about 1 hour to complete  and runs every 1-1.5 hours. You can take a ride on the train which is also an hourly service I think.
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we didn’t go on any tours this time as we wanted to explorer everything by foot slowly, not rushing anywhere and not depend on any time schedule. We left it to the next time we visit town as we definitely want to return and possibly camp there for a night

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