Sunday, November 6, 2022

Doubters and Haters. September EoMR

We had a very interesting mix of bikes for our September EoMR. It was great to see Kim out on his H2 for the run and Max out with his lovely FZ 750. Roger brought out his little Moto Guzzi 350 whilst his little Benelli 2C is having some major internals replaced. Steven had his Cagiva Raptor out for a spin and Bruce A had his GS800 BMW along for a ride. Rich was doing the business with the Strom and Ray on his Trumpet and Sir Al on a Honda CB 500F demonstrator from work. I will hand over to Sir Al for the rest of the story..........

A few weeks back I decided to try out a bike I’ve been interested in for some time. So for our regular Sunday ride I borrowed a Honda CB500F from work. Now I’m normally riding an 02 Sportster S (essentially set up in Japan for track work) or my trusty old H2. So a 477cc parallel twin is a significant step down in cubic capacity. But it’s also a significant drop in weight (especially over the Sporty). I was quite sure I would find this bike lacking and that I couldn’t possibly like it? How would it compare to the effortless torque of a hotted-up 1200 V-Twin or the power delivery of a 750 triple 2-stroke. And learner-legal at that. A doubter I was and a Hater I was ready to be!

I rode the bike home on Saturday afternoon from work and the first thing I noted was how easy it was to ride around town. Ergos are great and there’s plenty of power available to keep ahead of the traffic. Maybe this was the bikes forte; it’s a commuter. The next thing I noticed was pushing the bike around in the garage. No pre-pushing muscle warm up required. It’s well balanced and easy to move.

Sunday dawned sunny and clear. We met at our usual place. On the way I topped up the tank, which holds a total of 17 litres - 91 octane! Makes a change from 95/98$.

We headed around to Feilding and Makino Road and up onto the Vinegar Hill road. I was surprised at the acceleration generated by that little Twin and also that the engine had sufficient torque to hold 6th gear (up and down hill) and to pass traffic in 6th. Must have misread the specs. The Hill road is a good quality B road with fast sections and tight sections. I was leading and found I was really enjoying the ride and handling and the bike's ability to dig deep and pull out of corners without chasing the redline was a revelation. I was expecting to be passed but wasn’t until near the end of the road when Kim (H2) and (Mad?) Max (FZ750) went past racing. We weren’t too many corners from the main road (SH1) and apparently Max made his pass a couple of corners before the Give Way sign, not realising some speed would need brushing off! The braking manoeuvre was interesting to watch, I’ve heard. I did wonder what the black lines were heading into the intersection. One of the good things offered on all new bikes is ABS. On the Honda it’s a 2-channel system. I wonder if it can be retro-fitted to an FZ.

We stopped at the only place open in town for coffee. Won’t stop there again! Rather head back to Feilding. Faulty Towers springs to mind!

A small feature appreciated on the F was under-seat storage. Somewhere to put the wallet, phone and hat. Another interesting feature was an average economy read-out on the display. And I was pleasantly surprised to read 3.5 / 100 km. That’s 80.7 MPG in old money, or 28.6 km/litre. That’s cheap to run! 

We turned toward home taking various back roads which I thought might be a better test of the Honda. Handling, balance and comfort were superb. If I were to fault it I think the front end could be a bit better planted - but then this particular bike is a 2021 model and has RWU forks with single disc. The 2022 model now has USD 41mm Showa SSF-BP forks with a twin disc setup (borrowed from the CB650). Honda have also moved the weight forward by a few degrees, and this combined Pilot Road 5 tyres has significantly improved the front end by all accounts.

On the way back I swapped with Gazza to see what he thought. He was also very pleasantly surprised with the 500 (and that's coming off a GSR750). Bruce A also swapped bikes for a ride. He felt he missed the extra punch of his BMW 700, which I understand. What I noticed was the huge increase in wind noise with the screen on the BMW. I’d forgotten what that was like. I found the 500 very stable in cross-wind, which I didn’t expect would be the case. Especially coming off the Sportster. I was very pleasantly surprised at the seat comfort - I’d call it all day comfortable.

The bike went back Monday morning. I have to admit I was sad to hand it back. How can a learner legal 500 twin be such a great all round machine? Would I buy one? YES.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

A Golden Day with a Golden Bike

 A wee while ago a group of the Haze crew managed to get out for a pre spring ride in what felt and looked like a golden day. It has certainly been a winter to remember and not for the right reason. With many  catching Covid and everyone else trying to avoid it feels like we are emerging into better times and heading out on your bike with your mates certainly goes a long way to confirming it. The weather certainly played its part and it was really good of Sir Al adding to that feeling by bringing out his gold H2 for a spin. It certainly glowed in the sunshine and with its healthy dose of chrome as well it was a pleasure to cast ones eye over the bike. Also along for the run was Grant on his BMW GS1250, Rich on his Vstrom, Stuart on his Bandit, Gary on his BMW GS 650 and the GSR got a long overdue run with yours truly on it.

Our destination for the run was one of our favourite cafes, The Woolshed, just south of Sanson. We followed our usual route through Colyton, Makino Rd and through to Ohakea via Wilson Rd with a stop at Stanway Hall.  It was interesting to see the progress on the hangers for the Boeing Poseidons and they are definitely very substantial buildings. I would hate to think about the cost of them on top of the price of the aircraft. We were soon at our destination and lining up to make our morning tea choices and then off outside to sit in the very welcome sun. With the worlds problems solved and the beverages and sausage rolls despatched we headed back into town with warm thoughts of a golden morning and many more as we head towards spring and summer. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

A Jawa TS 350 Makes an Appearance


We at the Blue Haze are somewhat agnostic when it comes to our bikes. We certainly have a penchant for our Japanese strokers as they were such an important part of our early motorcycling experiences. We most definitely enjoy the two stroke engine configuration with its inherent simplicity and we certainly like the variety of marques that have used it to make some robust and endearing motorcycles over the years. In fact it was the East Europeans who contributed much to the modern development of the two stroke. Walter Kaaden, an MZ engineer, led the way with his application of his research on exhaust pressure waves to improve the performance of two strokes to the point where they dominated the racetracks of the world for many decades. 

The Japanese made the most of these developments and mass produced them on an unprecedented scale and it was our generation that bought and rode them. We weren't the only ones to appreciate the two stroke, and the Iron Curtain ensured they enjoyed huge success as a cheap way for people to get around. Some of these bikes made there way to the West and whilst not technologically as sophisticated as there Japanese counterparts they proved attractive to some. It was good to see Warren bring out his Jawa TS350 for a spin. It was very much the last of these Iron Curtain machines having a manufacturing date in the 1980s. The technology is from the fifties/sixties, but it has a charm all of its own with its twin cylinders and single carb which enable it to pump out a credible 27bhp. 

Following along behind, it had no problem keeping to the speed limit and Warren said it was good for a lot more! At our cafe stop Warren unscrewed the petrol cap to reveal an inbuilt cup to measure out the two stroke oil. No oil injection needed. This sort of simplicity is definitely part of its appeal as is the kick start come gear lever. When you compare this to Ross's Cobra, the Japanese were a lot more sophisticated and they certainly pushed two stroke technology to new levels. The Cobra was for the time, very much a performance bike as were a string of two strokes that stretched all the way into the nineties when emissions requirements finally strangled them. The four strokes have total domination now, but travelling behind the Cobra as Ross torqued it out of the corners with it accompanying intake drone is definitely an aural, visual and scent one never tires of (well for some of us!) our  

The Woolshed Cafe was its usual busy Sunday self and by the time we left it was full. Not far behind us, arrival wise, was the Wellington BMW motorcycle Club who very quickly filled up the remaining motorcycle parks, but the biggest group who arrived was the Jaguar Car Club with some in there green uniforms and cat emblems. From a distance they could have been mistaken for a certain political party....?

It was good to see Paul and Janice amongst them and they had been out for a bit of a wander like us. Paul was a bit upset with himself after grounding the exhaust on his Jaguar on a speed hump in Feilding which he took at the wrong 'speed'. Our group for the ride included Kenny on his BMW, as was Ray, Rich on the Bee machine and Steven brought out his hybrid Italian/Japanese bike, a Cagiva Raptor 1000. Yours truely was on the GSR. After a few refreshments and a good chat we headed for home and after hearing about some racing at Manfeild I popped over to have a look. 

The Victoria Motorcycle Club were running a meeting from there Summer series and there was plenty of great racing happening. A great way to finish off the ride and as Autumn gives way to Winter, let's hope we have some more fine days for us to get out and about on our bikes.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Ross's Kawasaki 400 S3a Comes Out to Play.

It is always good to see a new classic bike turn up for a run and this month Ross arrived with his latest restoration, a Kawasaki S3a 400. The last time this was seen was when a small group of us popped around to Ross's place to help him take the motor out of its frame so it could be checked out for a persistent 'fettling' issue. It is considered by many to be 'sweetest' out of all the triples with its mixture of weight, handling and motor smoothness. As you can see from the photo's Ross has done a wonderful job, and his attention to detail is very evident. He had obviously sorted out the problem because as we saw on the ride, it was running beautifully. 

Paul D and Sir Al turned up on there H2s, the big brother to the S3a. Rounding out the triple two stroke's  was Stuart on his Suzuki GT750J in all its wafting glory. Warren was taking a break from driving his milk tanker through the countryside to riding his Yamaha XJ900 riding through the countryside. Rounding out the classic bikes on the ride was Graham on his Suzuki VX800, which he seems to be still enjoying. Also out in support were the 'moderns' with Bruce S on his Yamaha XJ1300 as was Ray on his BMW R850R. Kenny had his BMW R1250 and Grant on his BMW K75RS. 

As is becoming the norm for our EoMR's, a humble and familiar ride was decided on with a run to Colyton and around the back of Feilding to Makino Road and then on to our one and only stop at Stanway. It was here that a shorter route to our cafe stop was decided after checking the fuel level of Ross's S3a. Those baby triples certainly have a mean thirst! Rich turned up on the mighty Vstrom just in time for our little cafe convoy that passed through Halcombe and then on to Feilding. We eventually rolled into the back car park of Rosebowl and headed inside. In spite of covid it was still a busy place and the lads were soon tucking into coffees, cakes and pies. It was during a conversations with Graham he let out of the bag that he is busy sorting out a 1971 Honda 450, with only the carbs to go. Can't wait to see that turn up for a run. It will be a first.With the coffee gone and the food eaten it was time to head off. But what was that sound in the background as we headed back to the bikes?

Of course it was the sound of bikes racing around Manfeild. It has been a while since any of us had been to the track because of you know what. The Victoria Motorcycle Club were running one of there summer meetings and we had heard through the grapevine that Dion was trying out his new race bike, a KTM 390. Apparently our arrival with the classic bikes was announced over the PA and a good number of people popped over to have a look. Dion was having a great time with his new bike and holding his own mid field.

All in all a great ride and nice to see a new classic stead joining 'the herd'. It looks like another one is on it's way! Maybe next months EoMR, eh Graham?

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The 2022 VJMC 'Gathering'

Covid has certainly had a big effect on all our lives over the past couple of years with many routine activities taking a back seat to Covid concerns. Whilst our daily and weekly Covid concerns have been front and centre it has also had an effect on many annual activities. Concerts, festivals, family gatherings and rallies have fallen by the way side as uncertainty reigns. Amongst all of this Judy, Angela and Ross managed to pull off the next best thing to a Rally, a gathering. Whilst it was done at short notice, it certainly struck a chord with a good number of people who booked into motels in Feilding from far and wide for a VJMC get together. From all accounts a great Friday night warmup saw the 'The Gathering' off to a good start. A ride was organised for the Saturday morning with thirty or so individuals meeting at the Feilding Railway Station carpark at 11am ready for a ride to a lunch date at the Apiti Tavern. The route taken was a familiar path for the locals which was up through the Pohangina Valley following the Manawatu Scenic Route and then a slight detour to the tavern. The only casualty was Roger's lovely little Benelli 2C's pistons that needed a rest from going up and down and it ended up in a farmers shed for collection the following day. The joys of running classic bikes! 

The Apiti Tavern was a very busy place and money could have been made from the parking meters if they were in working condition! It has become a destination in its own right since being taken over a year or so ago with a chef now in charge. Lunch was followed up with a ride around the rest of the Manawatu Scenic Route and then back to Feilding to prepare for the evening activities. By all accounts The Strongroom Restaurant provided a fitting gastronomical finale to the day and some discussions went on well into the later parts of the evening.

A big thank you to Angela, Judy and Ross for organising 'The Gathering' and let's all hope things get back to normal for the 2023 VJMC Rally.