Sunday, January 6, 2019

December 2018 EoMR to Pongaroa

 Pongaroa was the chosen destination for our final ride of the year. It is always a popular run as there are some great roads with a nice mixture of curvey bits and tighter curvey bits with a great feed half way through the ride. You certainly get a good work out and as Gary A said "I could have been just as quick on my Scorpio". His VFR would certainly look more comfortable on an autobahn rather than Route 52!  Caution is required as some sections are still suffering from four year old earthquake damage with some impressive slumps. It was interesting following Graham on his modern Bonnie as it sidestepped on a particularly nasty one. Nice having Ross along for a ride on his Bandit after the big shift from Paekakariki and Ian giving his recently acquired Kawasaki 650 a good workout. A great road for it. Also good to have John and Graham from the Classic club. Johns BMW 600s long legged suspension handled the slumps with ease with Graham giving his Bonnie a good workout. Bruce A and Sir Als adventure bikes certainly seemed ideal for the conditions with there lovely long suspension.
With Sir Al leading the way, we certainly didn't dally around at our usual stops at Mangamaire and Tiraumea. The timing of our arrival at Pongaroa coincided with the opening of the kitchen for lunch. In short order we all had a drink and plate of food in front of us with talk finally around the return route home. By this stage the wind had increased markedly, and the more direct route through Makiri and over the Puketoi  Ranges was deemed to be a bit to blustery. Our next stop then was going to be Dannevirke and then back through Woodville to home. By this stage the temperature was getting up, so caution was required on the shinny tarry bits of road. After a petrol stop in Dannyvegas, a visit to the Windfarm Cafe rounded out a great day on the bikes. We covered well over 200kms and were back in plenty of time to mow the lawn. We are certainly lucky to have such a range of great rides in our area and with summer warming up nicely, it looks like we should be able to fit a few more in before the seasons change.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Motorcycling in 1970s New Zealand.

Here is another great piece of writing from Tony. This time he is looking at the 1970s in New Zealand when the big four Japanese manufacturers really established themselves as a force in the motorcycling industry. Tonys story is similar to many others, but for those of you from Hawkes Bay you will probably find even more thats familiar. Many of us were introduced to motorcycling during this time and it formed an important part of our coming of age. Special times. 
Thanks Tony.

During the 1970’s in New Zealand, teenagers could obtain their full motorcycle licence the day they turned 15 years of age. Laws of the time allowed teenagers to gain their full car and motorcycle licence as many were required to help with work on the farm. Farming was vital to New Zealand’s economy at this time; it was New Zealand’s largest single export earner. This meant driving ( or riding ) most motor vehicles ranging from tractors to trucks to motorcycles. 

Spending my early years in the 1960’s living on a farm gave me an insight into how conservative we were in accepting new technology. Our neighbour was the first in our district to use a motorcycle for farm work. This was about 1965-1966. His shiny red Honda 90 cc ( a C102 model ? ) featured a dual range of speeds, something we had never seen before. Many locals even thought he was lazy by not rising early enough in order to retrieve, prepare, and saddle his horse for a long day’s work.

Provisional licences restricting motorcycle cubic capacity had not been created at this time, so your new motorcycle licence meant you could ride an open class motorcycle of any size, but only if you could afford one. And money is what prevented most young people from owning the biggest motorcycle available. The approval of obtaining finance was a big hurdle, as money was scarce. Anyone under the age of 18 years also had to have a parent sign as the “guarantor “ of the hire purchase agreement should the young purchaser unfortunately ever default on payments. Some parents were naturally hesitant to see their offspring riding such large and assumingly dangerous motorcycles.

Like most other Kiwi enthusiasts, my endeavours to obtain my dream machine was typical of the time. I worked my way through successive motorcycles of increasing capacity, building up financial equity along the way. This was the normal way of building yourself up to an open class motorcycle. You bought a machine on hire-purchase, paid it off, and moved up to the next size. This had the advantage that you at least learned some riding skills before you got to ride something big and possibly even more dangerous. Between myself and my mates, the race was on, to move up to the largest motorcycle as quickly as possible. Nothing else mattered.

My first motorcycle was a 1967 Suzuki 80 cc model K10P with traditional Japanese “ humpback “ styling, then moving up to a 1973 Honda CB125S, and then a 1974 Honda CB360G. We were told by British motorcycle owners to always park our little plastic Japanese Honda’s out of the sun, in case they started to melt ! They affectionately called us “ Riceys “. Time has shown us all that these early Japanese motorcycles would endure long after the sun ever went down.

As budding road racers, we always fitted our road machines with the “ in “ tyre of the era – the Dunlop K81 “ TT100 “. These were the hottest thing since sliced bread, as they had lapped the famous TT ( Tourist Trophy ) circuit at the Isle of Man at over 100 miles per hour, hence “ TT100 “. These were real “ racing “ tyres, and we could buy them from our local dealership !

The TT races were the epitome of Grand Prix racing before they lost their G.P. status in the late 1970’s. As New Zealand was one of the last colonial outposts of the British Empire during this time, conservative and loyal New Zealander’s considered all things English made as the best available. The Isle of Man was a whole world away from New Zealand and all we could do was wonder in awe of the exotic spectacle of the TT races.

It was still common to hear of resentment from older people towards Japanese made products, even during the 1980’s, but many consumers happily accepted the beautifully made Japanese products without any prejudice. As time has passed, Japanese manufactured products are now among the best manufactured in the world today.

I bought my first brand new motorcycle, a twin cylinder Kawasaki Z750-B2 in May of 1978. These Z750’s were actually a 1976 model, and somehow the New Zealand Kawasaki importer was offered a batch of old / unwanted / unsold stock, and they ended up being sold new in New Zealand. They sported an unusual yellow coloured headlamp bulb, and we believed they were destined for an unknown market which had extreme winter and fog conditions. The Z750 was a bargain at only NZ $2,800, and I graduated from a 360 cc motorcycle to a 750 cc in one convenient move.

As I was only 17 years old, this was the quickest way of getting a 750 cc motorcycle ( albeit a new one as well ) at the time. Being a big twin in the British tradition meant that my Dad ( who was bought up on a diet of British motorcycles, and did not like those “complicated “ four cylinder machines ) approved, and signed as guarantor on the hire purchase papers. It did not concern me that the Z750 was really only an all rounder and not a sports motorcycle in the vein of a Honda CB750 Four or Kawasaki Z1 900. My plans always included an open class 1000 cc motorcycle as soon as I could possibly afford one.

The big Kawasaki’s dominated production racing of that time, and with the release of the sensational new Z1000 Z1-R in 1978, my dream machine became a reality. Opportunity knocked in April 1979 when I viewed a mint, second hand Z1000 Z1-R at my local Kawasaki dealer, and with only 5,000 km on the odometer. As hire purchase laws of the time dictated you only needed 1/3 of the total price as a deposit to make the purchase of a second hand machine, this eighteen year old rode home his dream machine. This time in my life was very much a blurr…Through sheer good luck, and some ( previously unknown ) self preservation skills, I survived my teenage motorcycling years intact. Many friends and acquaintances’ did not…..

I ended up working at that very same Kawasaki dealership as a spare parts & accessories salesman, also selling new Kawasaki models and used motorcycles of most brands. I eventually sold the Z1000 Z1-R in an effort to save for a new home. But the temptation was too great, and I bought a succession of Kawasaki motorcycles ranging from the new Z250-A2 and Z500-B1 models ( for credibility you rode or owned what you sold ), to converting second hand machines such as a Kawasaki KX125-A5 and Yamaha RD350 for indulgence in some local club road racing. I secretly lusted over the 1978 Honda CBX1000Z and the 1979 Honda CB900FA models, but it was sacrilege to buy another brand when you sold new Kawasaki’s’.

My mates and I all were all consumed with motorcycles. Most of us worked in the motorcycle industry which only fuelled the passion more. On selected week nights and on occasional weekends, I was seconded by my close friend Ian to help assemble new Honda motorcycles from their crates so we could earn more money. We did not worry too much about girls , as we were too poor paying off our motorcycles, and were too absorbed with most types of motorcycle riding and racing. We keenly followed the 500 cc Grand Prix results with the limited media available to us at the time. We attended motorcycle race meetings, such as the annual Castrol Six Hour production race, and the Marlboro International Road Race Series. We lived and worked for motorcycles. We did not think or plan on what was to come. As we got older, a career, a home, marriage, children, education, and superannuation were all to take centre stage.

Today our children and teenagers live in a materialistic world of ever evolving electronic technologies and high peer pressure. They cannot envisage how simple life was, and cannot imagine existing without Facebook or twitter, or even being seen without the latest in mobile phones, I Pods, plasma television, electronic games, computers, and so on. Today there seems to be less emphasis on getting outside and enjoying outdoor pursuits like motorcycling. Perhaps their parents may not have the resources to encourage and support them. Or was the age of the Universal Japanese Motorcycle really a defined golden era to live and ride motorcycles ?

A lot of fun on two wheels, and not so expensive. The author and his 1979 Kawasaki KX125-A5 converted for road racing. The lowered look came from fitting KL250-A3 rear shock absorbers and a Honda CB350 twin front end. Gearing altered for a 150 kph top speed. All set to compete in the 1982 Onekawa street races, Napier, New Zealand , where I finished in eight place and even won some prizemoney ! Check out the Miller’s shirt and the haircut ! TS 

Your ticket to road racing ( and fun ) in New Zealand; New Zealand Autocycle Union ( NZACU ) racing licence. TS

Town & Country Motorcycles, Napier, New Zealand. Typical of a single Japanese brand franchise motorcycle shop in New Zealand during the 1970s and 1980’s. The author was employed at this dealership during the Z1000 Z1-R era. The photograph on the left includes KL250-A3 and Z1000-D1. WM

An image from the past. Town & Country Motorcycle’s staff circa mid 1981. From left to right, Greg, Jim, Terry, Des, and the author. Motorcycles are KL250-A3 and Z500-B1. The only staff member missing was one of the owner’s - Wayne Moult, who is the photographer. WM

Interior photographs of Town & County Motorcycles taken during 1981. The immaculate Kawasaki Z1B was purchased during a South Island buying trip. It had only 328 km on the odometer ! TS

1980 Kawasaki Z250-A2 and 1979 Kawasaki Z500-B1. As an employee at the Kawasaki dealership, I was in a fortunate position to experiment with some of my personal motorcycles, and achieved some quite desirable results. During the Z1000 Z1-R era it was fashionable to fit a genuine Z1000 Z1-R fairing onto other models. Paintwork, genuine Z1000 Z1-R mirrors, and quality Michelin tyres enhanced the overall presentation. ( Note the single front disc brake specification of the Z500-B1 which I now understand is quite rare ). TS

Friday, December 28, 2018

23 Dec 2018 Ridge Road Gravel Ride

Two BMW F650 GS bikes, an Aprilia Pegaso and a 1980 Suzuki DR400S hit some gravel roads around the Manawatu, New Zealand.

Youtube video:

Monday, December 3, 2018

A visit to Mike Peros Motorcycle Museum

Mike Pero is a huge personality in the New Zealand motorcycling community. His support for racing and other activities is very well known, with one of his latest being the opening of a motorcycle museum in Christchurch. It is no ordinary motorcycling museum with its primary focus being on Classic Japanese bikes from the sixties through to the nineties. Located in a suburban area of Christchurch, it is relatively easy to find down a short driveway with parking at the end. The staff are volunteers who along with Mike have put a great deal of effort into setting up and running what is a wonderful collection of bikes from what some of us consider a golden era of motorcycling. Many of the bikes belong to various people, and it was pleasing to see one of the bikes on display was from the Manawatu, with Murray Crosses  Kawasaki McIntosh on display. Another bike that attracted my attention was the Toads infamous Yamaha RD350 with its 70s racing patina still intact. A few years ago, a group of us travelled down from Palmy to the CCJMG show where many of us enjoyed 'Toads' Yamaha in the show.
As luck would have it, 'Toad' turned up to give his bike some two stroke attention to preserve the crank seals and carbs. He backed it up to a sliding door and after a while managed to improve the ambience of the museum with some wonderfully authentic RD sounds and smells. We started reminiscing about that wonderful RD 350 habit of the throttle jamming open in damp weather with Toad telling some great racing stories around using the kill switch as backup throttle when it did this. Whilst this conversation was happening, John from Motorcycle Movements pushed in a couple of Mikes TZRs that had just spent some workshop time getting ready for the Southern Classic in Timaru. Very nicely turned out with much excitement from everyone for the event. All to soon we had to make our exit after handing over a Blue Haze card to add to the growing collection of contacts of fellow enthusiasts. If you are ever in the vicinity of Christchurch or passing through, it is well worth the stop.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

More from NZCMRR weekend at Manfeild

One of the wonderful things about the weekend was the number of two stroke bikes out on the track still doing the business. Team Blue Haze is an informal group of similar minded blokes who like to do their bit for the planet by reminding everyone as to why two strokes no longer dominate the racing tracks these days. That lovely wafting of two stroke smoke across the pits and the crackle from the chambers reminds many us of our youth when such things promised a good time as you either made your way up the road or around a track. Three members were out on the track with Dion on his now trustworthy Honda NSR (after a couple of seizures), Alan De on his RG500 XR14, and Tim getting in some race time on his CBR600 ready for the arrival of his TR500. Also on display was the De Bros TR 250 that isn't to far off getting a bit of track time. In the pits were a number of other two stroke enthusiasts. Jock Woodly who was up from Blenheim was having a great time in the North Island sorting out his very quick TZR 350. A further glance around the pits also revealed a quite a variety of machines of the two stroke kind. Notable others included BSA, Benellis and Jawas of various flavours.  I am sure that time spent down south at the Southern Classic will further inspire the team.
Of course the majority of bikes at the meeting were of the four stroke variety. A firm favourite is the Post Classic class with its wonderful mixture of muscle bikes from the seventies and eighties. great to see Chris Sales out their on what must be one of the quickest XR 500s anywhere in the world. In fact an earlier video of this bike from 7 years ago has had thousands of hits from around world with Chris's father Peter piloting it around Manfeild. It was an excellent couple of days of racing and spectating with more to come with summer just around the corner (hopefully)