Thursday, July 5, 2018

A 1980 sky blue DR400S turns up!

Our end of month ride ended up being a 'beginning' of month ride this last weekend with the crappy cold, wet weather proving not very enticing for a ride amongst the troops. An improvement in this last weekends weather saw a whole three of us make an effort to go for a spin and it proved to be a very enjoyable wander around the countryside punctuated by some interesting stops along the way. When one of the crew turned up with a new bike it is all the more interesting! Ians return from his holiday in Rarotonga (poor thing) was heralded with him fronting up to Manawatu Motorcycles on a 1980 Suzuki DR400S. With minimal kms, it looks well and truely ready for some serious riding. It also signals a growing 'trend' with some of the group wanting to spend there motorcycling time on adventure rides. It certainly encourages you to take into consideration a whole other set of less traveled routes and destinations that the likes of an XJ 750 might find too challenging at times.
Ian's bike is certainly one that was part of a maturing trend in the eighties that had seen the Japanese grow the number of bikes in the off road market. Many of us spent a lot of time learning very valuable motorcycling skills at places like the gravel pit at the bottom of Albert St. It should be no surprise that VMX is hugely popular and that adventure riding has also grown in popularity. It has been fascinating to see its development, and the origins of many of the current adventure bikes have their beginnings way back in the seventies and eighties. Ian's' DR is certainly a part of its DNA with it being a single four stroke, long travel suspension and being relatively lighter than its road going cousins.  As the cc numbers crept up the marketing bods soon latched on to the profits to be made with adventure bikes. If you have a look at the current crop of single four stroke adventure bikes they are not far removed from those eighties bikes and one often wonders if they are still using much of the old eighties tooling for these bikes.
As we headed out of town we were wondering how the DR would cope with the open road. I am pleased to report it did very well. It had no problems keeping to the open road speed limit and at times exceeding it. We had decided on a familiar route that took us out to Aokautere and along to Ashhurst. Valley road came next with a few damp patches to be wary of as we came to our first stop at Colyton. All was well so along the back of Feilding to Makino Road and out to our next stop at Stanway Hall. We then made our way to back towards the Rangitikei River and eventually finding our way to Vivs Kitchen in Sanson. The carpark was full as always with the noticeboard proudly announcing the 100,000th Cream horn had been sold last week! Thats a lot of cholesterol! It was nice to see they have an extended outside area with curtains and a much appreciated outside heater.
We then thought our last stop before home should be to check out the Vic Club Winter Series at Manfeild. We were expecting to see Dion out on the track, but great to see Tim punting the CBR around on a rather cool and damp track. Not a nice day for it, but great to see the junior class full of new and young riders out there doing the business along with the other classes. It was a great ride out and about and all the more so with Ian bringing his new bike out for a play. It was interesting to see how his bike very quickly attracted some attention at Manfeild with the guy in the coffee caravan coming over to reminisce about his younger days on such bikes. It is all part of the experience of riding and enjoying our wonderful old bikes.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

From Lounge to Road

With winter well and truely upon us it is a nice time to reflect on the preceding two seasons. Not only were they warmer and the days longer, they seemed to encourage a more adventurous spirit. Winter  is a great reflective time as we spend a lot more time indoors thinking about some of the highlights of recent rides we have been on and how they reflect the changing nature of how we relate to the motorcycling experience. An example of this is our March end of month ride this year where two such things happened.
The usual 9:30 meeting at Manawatu Motorcycles was greeted with a not unfamiliar sound. Rattly tappets from a vee twin. This time though it wasn't Paul on his Guzzi, but PC on his Honda CX650 turbo. A very rare beast indeed and one we had been hearing about for sometime. How precious? It had taken up residence as the centre piece in the living room with Janets(his wife) blessing? Apparently its move from the lounge to the road had allowed Janets Honda Bros to take its place in the lounge! As a group the Blue Haze celebrates gender equality and would encourage PC and Janet to make sure the next bike in the lounge is a two stroke to ensure that appropriate two stroke/four stroke equity also be maintained! It is a large bike and it was great to see it on the road alongside a mixture of bikes also out to enjoy the last day of summer.
Rich on his T500 and Kim on his NSR were holding the fort for the two strokes and Janet was along on her ER6, with Ian supporting the vee brigade on his VX 800, and Bruce on his R1 and myself on the XJ showing the flag for Yamaha. The plan was to do an extended Track and Saddle run through Hopelands and meet up at Woodville with Sir Al and Bruce A who had decided on an Adventure ride up Wharirti Peak. Sir Al had sold his VFR and bought back his Pegasso as he had decided that fast touring wasn't for him. This was his first venture out since its return so it was going to be interesting to see how they fared.
Our exit from town was via the usual route up the Pahiatua Track and unfortunately that is where PC was getting some interesting signals from the electronics on the CX. He decided that caution was the way to go and headed home with fingers and everything else crossed! The rest of us headed on down the Track towards our next stop at Mangamaire where all was in order so we pressed on through Pahiatua and onto our turn off at Mangatainoka. This took us on a great little ride through the Hopelands area and we finally ended up back in Woodville for a cup of tea.
We are making a point of stopping off in Woodville to support the local economy as the closure of the Manawatu Gorge has been pretty devastating for the local economy. It was here we met up with Sir Al and Bruce A who had come down from the 'hills' for a civilised cup of tea. It was great to see PC there to as he obviously made it home and then scampered over the Saddle road to meet us. Sir Al was a happy chappy with his return to an adventure bike and he and Bruce were planning there next expedition.
As time goes by our interest in motorcycling changes. For some it is restoring and riding machines from the past, whilst for others it is restoring and showcasing those machines in your living room! (And then riding them!) For others it is having a go at different styles of riding and then making a more long term commitment to one style. It is whatever you want it to be. What makes it really worthwhile though, is being able to share that interest and passion with others!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Having a go! Manfield Track Day

Motorcycling has so many dimensions to it that when one starts feeling a little to “familiar” with one aspect their is always something else to have a go at. It has been interesting to see how some members of our group have developed an on going interest in getting out on the track to enjoy their motorcycling and two stroke motorcycles. Track days provide a great introduction to this and it was with great interest we popped over to Manfeild to catch up with Ian and Dion who were making the most of the Central Districts Touring Clubs track day. For Dion it was an opportunity to do some sorting out on his NSR and for Ian it was his first time on a race track. For me it was the first track day I had been along to and it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it was a laid back cruise around the track alongside some occasional friendly competition. How wrong I was! The four groups were organised from fastish through to bloody fast and the bloody fast group were really full on with some really intense racing riding! Everyone was having a great time.

Dion and Ian had set themselves up in a nice posey next to a like minded group of fellow two stroke and classic bike riders. The machines ranged from a Honda CB350 based racer to a track only stripped down RGV 250. ‘Mike’ from the Hutt Valley was their on his beautifully turned out Yamaha TR1. He also brought along his Yamaha DS6 for a spin. A very unusual sight these days! There was plenty to see going for a wander around the pits with one of the more interesting bikes being a Bimota Tesi.

Dion was using the track day for testing his bike after a few modifications and it didn’t end well with the modification seizing up and tipping him on to the track. This resulted in a a few bruises, scrapes and choice words. Dions wife wasn't impressed when she turned up and found a battered bike and no Dion in sight! It was a great way to spend a few hours and you never know, I might give it a go one day!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Number 5? is Alive!

The de Lautour brothers have had a lifelong interest in motorcycle racing and down the back of the workshop they have had a Suzuki TR250 parked up for quite a few years. Questions have always been asked about the fate of the bike, and recently the lads have decided to get her going and all going well, let her roll on some racing circuit tarmac again. Blue Haze Racing numbers are growing! It is no easy task recommissioning one of these old girls again and apart from seeing what the outside looks like, you have very few clues about the state of the inside of the motor and other running gear. The lads have been beavering away over the last few months and have got it to the point where it is runner! May was centred around making the bike quieter with extra mufflers added onto the chambers. The goal for this month is to give it some circuit time at the end of the month at the Friday testing day before the weekend Vic club Winter series meeting. After yesterdays round of testing at the Circuit de Andrew Young, it looks as though the clutch needs attention before that can happen. Any spare TR250/T20 clutch parts out there?
For those who aren't familiar with the Suzuki TR250 it was a race bike from the mid 60s, early 70s. It is based on the Suzuki T20 or X6 road bike from the sixties. The lads bike was built up from a race kit Suzuki supplied where you started with a standard road bike and went from there. Hopefully at a later date we can get a more detailed technical report on the recommissioning and the history of the bike.  Steve Roberts is a part of the story!
Thanks to Dion for the video footage at the start of the video.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Riding out with the RAM

You just never know what you're going to see outside Manawatu Motorcycles on a Sunday morning.

Last Sunday we were treated to the look and sound of a 70's icon; PC's wonderfully original example of Suzuki's unique GT550.

The 70's produced some very interesting bikes and the big four Japanese companies each had their own look and style. Something that seems to be almost lost today. Suzuki produced a range of three cylinder 2-strokes in 380cc, 550cc, and 750cc. All three were designed as touring mounts, and the smaller bikes were air cooled with distinctive RAM AIR cylinder heads. All of the bikes featured 3-into-4 pipes giving a symmetrical look from the rear and a visual point of difference to the Kawasaki triples of the same area. The 550 and 750 also featured electric start.

Also along for the outing were Bruce S on the R1, Janet on her ER-6, Ian on his V-twin Suzuki, and I was back on the Aprilia Pegaso (after several years in someone else ownership).

We headed up to Hunterville via Halcome, Marton, and Fordell. We dodged the odd shower of rain, but traveled on damp and sometimes muddy roads.

We stopped for coffee and a snack in Hunterville (in Ian's case a meal that would have choked a donkey!), before heading back over Vinegar Hill.

It was most enjoyable seeing and hearing Paul's GT out on the highway. Time to get a certain Kawasaki triple back on the road.

The GT550 did show one common 70's 2-stroke trait - a love of hydrocarbons!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

VJMC 2018 National Rally

A few of us headed out Friday afternoon from Palmerston North to meet a few in Sanson and continue on up to Eltham. Below are photos of some of the bikes on rally lined up Saturday morning for voting. I missed a few bikes, but got most of them.

On the Saturday we headed out to Tawhiti Museum, Hawera. Quite impressive wax models from life size to small scale models, trains, tractors, army vehicles, etc. It is definitely worth two or three hours looking around when up that way. Their website is 

Here's a video of the bikes in carpark. I didn't take any photos of inside the Museum sorry. Too busy looking at everything :-)

Sunday morning we all packed up, said our farewells and headed off. A few of us decided to head up closer to New Plymouth first to see the Holden Museum. No photos allowed to be taken there but was given special permission from owner to take a few photos of Alan's old Kawasaki he sold and is now on display there. Their website is and also worth a good look. 

On behalf of our group a really big Thank You to Judy, Angela, and Ross for all of their hard work organising the rally. Next year's rally sounds like it will be held in the South Island with all those great roads designed for motorbikes :-)

And remember: Life's better when you're riding!