Lerderderg Whiskey Creek Circuit

Whiskey Creek Circuit (11.9km) - Lerderderg

Summary: One of Lerderderg’s most interesting and varied circuit walks. The Whiskey Creek Circuit trail passes various gold diggings, follows a scenic section of the historic water race and crosses one of Lerderderg’s deepest tributaries, Whisky Creek. Sweeping views of the gorge and a strong sense of history add greatly to this walks appeal.

It's easy to miss the markings. As you can see we initially missed the markings. We did the circuit anti-clockwise. Look carefully for orange/pink ribbons tied on trees. I've attached KMZ GPS waypoints that you can load onto your GPS or phone (use GPX Viewer).

Elevation:
lerderderg

Download KMZ file of hike:
WhiskeyCircuit_lerderderg.zip

Review of Knox Zero Outdry Motorcycle Gloves

I've recently purchased Knox Zero Outdry motorcycle gloves to combat Melbourne's unpredictable weather. I commute daily about 30km each way in all weather conditions most of which is on the freeway at 100km/h. In winter the temperature in Melbourne can be a frosty 0-5 degrees Celsius (or 32F-41F) in the early mornings. Combined with rain it can make for some frosty fingers.

What's good: The overall feel and quality of the glove is superb. This glove is not a thick behemoth like some of the other winter gloves out there. This means you don't lose much feel of the controls. The glove is relatively easy to put on and take off. At first the BOA lacing system might seem gimmicky. But rest assured it works well- it's really easy to tighten up even if you've already got one glove on. The most important point is that these gloves are 100% waterproof. So far in the wet they've held up really well. There was no build up of moisture inside, or 'smell' either. They are well ventilated yet waterproof!

What's not: These gloves are in my opinion not suitable for long rides in temperatures below 6-7 (42F) degrees. My fingers do get cold after 30km of riding at a constant 100km/h in temperatures below 6-7 (42F) degrees. Is it cold enough to complain or lose feeling at the finger tips? Not at all. I think for these gloves to be any warmer they'd need to be thicker which means losing the great feel and comfort. For the purists out there who need extremely warm gloves these might not be for you! We haven't had warm weather yet, but I can't see any problem with using these gloves in temperatures up till 25C (77F) or maybe even further.

The hard plastic sliders on the palms are great in the event of a fall since we instinctively use our palms to break our fall. However, I can't help but think that when I occasionally rest my palm on the tank that it might scratch or leave scuff marks.

Overall: They are quite pricey. Great gloves depending on what you want I suppose. If you are after the warmest gloves look elsewhere. I'm quite happy with them!

knox-outdry

Test Ride: 2013 Triumph Street Triple R

Test rode the new Street Triple R today.

Being the owner of a Street triple with +90,000kays I did question myself, "why do I even want to test ride the same bike?" What came next was totally unexpected. It felt, at least to me, like a totally different beast. A much more sensible and well mannered beast.

The seat and comfort is probably the best thing about it. The old banana seat was a nutcracker. Only a pair of tank grips and regular adductor exercises could prevent slamming the sack into the tank. Aboard this refined stead you sit like an Englishmen on his way to a fox hunt.

The engine is much smoother but delivers about the same power. Both the gearbox and clutch respond with the grace of a well paid butler, "Certainly, Sir". I do wish they'd get rid of the standard throttle tube. There is so much slack on throttle that it's anyone's guess where it actually turns on and off. It also has too much side-to-side play. Of course, the play in the throttle can be taken out easily in 5 minutes. I'm not even sure why it has mirrors; They are simply useless.

First gear appears to be taller which means it isn't as eager to offend prudes.

The suspension is compliant yet firm. The brakes are what amazed me the most. The standard Street brakes do not have the same feel and power. I want those brakes! My Street handles the bumps like a crack addict late for his afternoon fix. Irritate the handlebar with a gentle push and it turns in violently but with the shrewd confidence of a calculating psychopath. The new Street R isn't so edgy and seems to require a little more convincing to break bad.

Uncivilized and ridiculous- I'll have more of both, thanks.

I love my Street Triple, but after today I don't think I'd buy another one. Not because they're no good, but because they're not as silly as they use to be. A KTM Superduke might be what I need. I hope I'm still allowed to wear my Triumph t-shirt after saying I wouldn't buy another one. Don't want to upset the fanboys, or do I?

Here is snip from the MCN review. Pretty much spot on I reckon.

“Compared to the previous incarnation, the 2013 Triumph Street Triple R is lighter, smoother, more refined and has the handling and brakes a superbike would be proud of. Best of all, it’s 6kg lighter. It’s lost some of that in-your-face, foaming-at-the-mouth aggression, which made the original make us all stand up and take notice back in 2007, but it’ll be a ‘nicer’ bike to live with. For the first time there’s also an ABS option. It manages to be more of everything: better for newbies, more capable for fast riders, more fun for adrenalin junkies and has one of the best engines and exhaust notes in biking. It’s a great all-rounder, no matter what your ability."

Review: Pirelli Angel GTs

I thought I'd give an update on how they perform. Remember, the bike I'm riding is fairly light weight and doesn't require a heavy rigid license to ride :p

The Angel GTs have that slight wooden feel that you would expect with this sort of tyre. Wooden or should I say, "hard". Not excessively hard- it's just something I noticed immediately coming off the Bridgestone S20s. I suppose to expect the hot/soft tyre feel from the Angel Gts is asking for too much. The grip from the front is great. The rear is also very good. I did manage to spin the rear a little bit on a couple of corners. But to be honest, I was poking a stick at it, if you get my drift... For testing purposes, of course.

Under hard braking the bike remains extremely stable. The front tyre conveys enough feel and stability that it's easy to carry a little front brake into the corners. I would describe the profile of the tyres as "Good". They haven't slowed the steering of the bike significantly. It's a compromise, right? The turn-in is very predictable. It didn't take long for me to start throwing it into corners.

One thing I did notice is that the profile of the tyre is unique, in that Pirelli have designed the rear tyre so that it has more contact when going straight (for longevity). As you lean the bike over towards the edge, the profile slope increases. You can see what I mean in the picture below. It isn't an issue for me. I quite like the quickness it has when you are flowing through a series of corners from edge to edge. When the rear does let go, you do get some warning but I wouldn't call it progressive. It's fairly easy to catch and manage when it does let go.

13_Pirelli_AngelGT_Review_9

I would say they are far better than the Pilot Road 3. I don't find the PR3s to be very sporty. If you read my previous review on the PR3s you'll know that I hated how they slowed the steering. I took them off after only 2000kays. For this reason, I was slightly nervous about the Angel GTs, but rest assured they are Gran Turismo (GT) tyres- i.e. they are capable of spirited long distance riding. 

I am running 34/36psi front/back on cold days and 36/36 on warmer days which feels about right for my bike. Overall, I'm pretty damn happy with them. I will try them out on a track day soon.

Rear tyre after about 1500kays. Pic taken just after a run through Reefton
Rear tyre after about 1500kays. Pic taken just after a run through Reefton

 

Rear tyre: Edges seem to be wearing faster.. hmmm..
Rear tyre: Edges seem to be wearing faster.. hmmm..
Front Tyre
Front Tyre

An honest review of the KTM 390: Part 2

After a 2000 km trip last week across Victoria's best roads I've decided to sell the KTM 390 as soon as possible.

The 390 isn't made for long distance spirited riding and it's annoyingly underpowered.

Well, Captain Obvious, that was pretty obvious! Even the trip computer resets after 1000kms.

Funny, how you quickly come to realize on a multiday trip that your bike is too slow. Initially it's a lot of fun as you wring the neck out of the little single thumper just to keep up with the group's cruising speed. Slowly but surely, frustration turns this so called fun, into a tiring pursuit and thereafter a major annoyance. Then, after only 200kms, you run out of fuel. On the plus side, the experience of a Super Tenere pulling your arm out as it tows you a few kilometres to the petrol station is entertaining.

The KTM really took a pounding over those three days up in the hills. The entire exhaust headers up to the catalytic converted turned into a wonderful blue. Amazingly, nothing broke and nothing fell off. Not even a single glitch. The lack of pulling power meant that it would really bog down coming out of tight uphill corners. And there were many of those. Hundreds in fact. Whilst the KTM 390 can be ridden reasonably fast, it takes a lot of effort and energy. The problem is, I know how easy it was on the Triumph.

Surprisingly, the lack of weight meant that my 90kg geared-up mass and a tail bag with wet gear easily overpowered this little bike. It felt really easy to unsettle the bike into corners on the first day. I soon learnt that using my quads to lift my weight off the seat was the best approach to throwing this bike around. And it did. It handled reasonably well at the expense of my knees. Good bye, KTM.

Northern end of Omeo Hwy (recently fully sealed)
Northern end of Omeo Hwy (recently fully sealed)
16052806211_cf71bc5b08_h
Mt. Hotham

An honest review of the KTM 390

It had been a while since I’d done the morning ride preparation routine (link). I was a bit rusty. Tucked in the corner I found my jacket and summer gloves, pulled them out and took a deep breath. Bugs, rain and fuel. I use to smell like that everyday. Somewhere between coffee and the obligatory pre-ride poo was when I’d pull out a number of pressure charts, rain radars, look to the sky and ask: What should I wear today? That Saturday, the sky was crystal clear, birds chirped happily, and spring introduced itself with a bit of run in my nose. I was finally getting back on a bike and just to be sure, I *ahem*, accidentally locked the car keys in the boot that morning. No spares. I guess I have no choice but to buy a bike today!

Realizing I had little time to break windows or pick locks, I caught the bus and I’m pretty sure some form of disease into the CBD to test ride the new KTM 390. After only two minutes on the bike I came to know three things: (a) the throttle is very snatchy, (b) dealer test rides are a joke and (c) I’m going to buy this bike. But I already knew the last one.

Engine and Gearbox

The 370cc single cylinder is a revvy fiery beast. It loves to rev hard. You know it’s eager when it jumps straight to vibrating your nether regions after 7,000rpm. Like stretching your legs under a short blanket, I found myself constantly hitting the rev limiter. It just kept coming up. Change gear. And another gear. Again. Another gear. I’m not even at half throttle, but I’m giving my ankle a good workout.

It will pull to somewhere between 120-130km/h in a reasonable amount of time. It isn’t a rocket but gets on reasonably well. I’m told that velocity max is somewhere between 160-170km/h depending on your opinion of McDonalds. I don’t really have the patience to test that out. That’s not what this bike is about.

The lean fueling at small throttle openings makes this bike very snatchy around town. I suspect they tried to smooth things out by using a full toilet roll as a throttle. It just keeps turning and turning. A short throw throttle upgrade is a must. The 7,000rpm 'sweet spot' ideally needs to extend lower to about 6,000rpm. I suspect with some typical modifications it would be possible to open her up a bit more.

The gearbox is very precise. I've had no false neutrals or problems shifting. The shifter has a very light and delicate action. However, sixth gear is too damn tall. It will labour the engine in 6th at 100km/h if there are hills. Speeds above 130-140km/h are not particularly useful on this bike. You'd be better off with a +2 sprocket on the rear.

Brakes

The front brake works but is inadequate. I can jam my two non-braking fingers between the brake lever and throttle. Have you ever experienced that ‘running out’ of brakes moment? That’s what it felt like a few times while braking hard into corners. I tried it with the ABS turned off just to be sure; Made no difference. The brake lever is non-adjustable and actuates far too late. A pair of adjustable shorty levers and better brake pads will probably improve braking performance. Nevertheless, it will four finger stoppie without much fuss.

Around town, the lack of front braking power is hardly noticeable given that you don’t need it. Engine braking and a touch of rear brake is plenty. I’ve heard people complain that the front brakes squeak. Mine occasionally does squeak around town but will usually shut up after stoppie practice or riding in the hills.

ABS on the rear brake activates far too easily. The front, however, works perfect (thank you to Mr. 4WD who pushed me off the road)

Suspension

I took the bike down to Geelong to catch up with Roarin on his KTM 690. We both agreed after some bike swapping shenanigans that the KTM 690, despite being heavier, actually turns in faster. It is also far more grunty, less revvy and the fueling is much smoother. We also agreed that the 690 carried its weight higher which was really noticeable as it pushed wide into corners. Surprisingly, the 390 feels much more stable and precise, allowing you to pick any line through the corner. No, seriously. That space over there, yup, I can go there. You are in total control. It is too easy.

The suspension soaks up bumps well. It feels, just right. No cheap pogo action here. Good balance. I find myself riding with a little forward lean to put weight over the front tyre. I’m sure once I set the correct rear sag height it will improve further. It should also improve ground clearance. This bike is a real delight in the corners. The only thing holding it back is the narrow power band!

Issues and Other Minor points

Having said all of that, there are a few issues with the bike.

The feel of the switch gear is average.

Some of the wiring is thin, connectors are exposed and fragile looking.

Instrument cluster is hard to see when the sun is directly above it. Also, the tachometer numbers are impossible to see.

A couple of times I thought it had the automatic on-off thing that cars have nowadays. The engine has cut out at idle or low revs a few times while waiting for the traffic lights to go green. Again I suspect this is because of the lean fueling to meet emission requirements. UPDATE: Hasn't done this for a long time now. Not sure what's going on. Running much better after a few thousand kilometers.

I have ridden it through the likes of Reefton and EJ road bouncing off the rev limiter at full throttle without a single hiccup or complaint. The only snatchy fueling issues it has is at low throttle openings. Basically, don’t ride it like a girl.

The rider seat is horrible. The pillion seat is also horrible.

It sounds like a generator. Heh. Clack, clack, clack. I find it amusing. But I’m weird. Most are aware of this.

It looks very small and hardly threatening which is a big statement about your manlihood. No one will ever suspect you of hooning.

Cars will try to race you off the lights because they have no respect for you and the faster ones will give you a good run.

Lean it over enough on a right hander and there is a nice bark from the underslung exhaust as it reflects off the tarmac.

Difficult to start when hot. It will not start just by pushing the starter button. You'll need to give a handful of throttle.

Very small amount of oil weeping from gasket. I have never wiped it away for the purpose of making it more obvious when I bring it to KTM to check and service.

There is an annoying vibration from the fuel tank cap.

Summary

After a few thousands kilometers of bonding, I am beginning to understand how to unleash its potential. All bikes are like this. It takes at least 10,000km before you can understand how they want to be ridden. Of course that is just the start.

Importantly, I am slowly learning to not ride it like a Street Triple which is like my default 'riding mode'. And for good reason too. I am sure my riding will improve on the KTM! 😀

I LOVE IT. Mu ha ha ha ha ha.

A Motorcyclist on four wheels

As of last week, I have no motorcycle to ride. At least not legally. It was a bold move to motivate me into saving up for a new one. Those who have seen my bike will agree... I need a new one. 🙂 In any case, I now have good reason to get around in a car and enjoy all the modern creature comforts it offers. Like a roof and a heater. I am also able to catch up on sleep during my morning commute, wear different clothes everyday, generally be around the speed limit and not worry if the shopping will fit. I'm also certainly more excited to see other motorcyclists on the road now.

But it isn't without its downsides. Long gone are the days when I could park right in front of my destination or easily pass an erratic driver using the footpath, gutter, bike lane or lane gap. And then there are times when the girlfriend insists we try the food at some obscure little eatery that Melbourne is so often admired for. You see, on a motorcycle I only need a rough idea of the location. This is because, even when I am lost on a motorcycle, I look purposeful and know very well that no road rules apply to me and consequently feel no guilt for breaking them. Gentlemen will also appreciate that riding 2up on a motorcycle significantly reduces the chances of a 'let's ask for directions' argument. In the car, I'm afraid my left ear is going slightly deaf and I've become an annoying lost tourist. The kind that wants to double park with hazards on, turn left, wait, no right, and reverse up a one-way street.

Eventually you reach your destination and your eyes desperately gaze directly at where you want to be. "There it is, there it is!" you cheer. Strangely, instead of finding the nearest curb ramp you drive away from your destination and spend, what must be an eternity, looking for a spot to park your cage. Now this caging business is very popular and apparently the distance from your parking spot to destination is inversely proportional to the size of your penis. Thus you will need to enlist the help of (a) your significant other, who is now a free parking spot hound or (b) pay some ridiculous amount to navigate level after level in a cage storage complex carefully scented with carbon monoxide to remind you that (c) suicide is also a possible third option.

By the time you find a spot you are probably late. At least you are dry, smell good, look presentable and have only small items that need to be carried. All good and well then. You quickly forget all of that and enjoy your dinner without anyone kicking your helmet under the table or your jacket being dragged down the aisle.

When it is time to go, there is no ritualistic dressing of gear, no obligatory 'be safe' moan from the group's self-appointed safety minister and certainly no onlooking crowd as the bike roars into a lumpy idle. Instead you've forgotten where you had parked and lost your parking ticket. When you do find your car and ticket, you realize you haven't quite gotten use to the concept of locking doors. But you did lock the steering.

Road Review: [VIC] Bonang Hwy C612

Last week, late-winter, I did a 1800km trip from Melbourne to Canberra. On the way back I took the Bonang Hwy for the first time. I travelled from Delegate to Orbost. A few people have asked about the condition of the road. Yes there is a gravel section towards the top. Honestly, once I hit the gravel, I was regretting this road and cursing those who recommended it. But once you pass the gravel this road is amazing. You must include this road in your next trip! The 105km of twisty road is towards the top section of this road.

Below is my video summary. I took it easy on the gravel as it was bone jarring. Arriving at Orbost, I was absolutely buzzing and glad I did it! The weather was brilliant too. Had a ball. There are still bits of gravel, branches, rocks on the sealed section. Pay attention and you'll be fine!

10169595833_8749ebc160_z 10169596963_f0dafb7fee_z