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)

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Graham and John enjoying a bit of track time

With over a 150 competitors at the Manfeild round of the New Zealand Classic Motorcycle Racing Registers round two racing, it was good to see a couple of members from our sister club, the Manawatu Classic Motorcycle Club, out on the track doing the business. John was out there on the inimitable  BSA Bantam racer. It was wonderfully turned out with John boasting about its ability to the whole race meeting on a tank! Good to also see Graham out on his NSU 250 with a great turn of speed. We are fortunate in this country that we have so many different ways to enjoy our passion for heritage motorcycles, wether as racers, spectators, restorers, collectors or riders. The racers category is one that a smaller number are a part of and it takes a special disposition to join so thanks to the likes of Graham and John for providing the the spectators with something to spectate!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Origin of the species

KTM 1290, BMW R1200GS, Triumph Tiger 1200, Yamaha Super tenere 1200, Honda Africa Twin 1000 . . .  The current crop of adventure bikes. But before we needed 150 bhp adventure bikes there were 650 and 600s, and before them 500s and so on. And many adventure riders today still prefer the lighter and physically smaller 650 machines, and some are going back to 450s. But what came before these and what started the ‘adventure’ or ‘dual-sport’ genre? Well, maybe it was all started by Yamaha with the DT1 250 2-stroke in 1968? Here was an affordable genuine dual-purpose bike. Competent and legal on the road and competent off the road, and offering excellent reliability, light weight, and riding comfort. All four Japanese manufacturers eventually produced facsimiles of the DT1 and we called them ‘trailbikes’.


In this hurried world can these first of type machines still fulfill their purpose (in an unhurried manner)?
Inspired by a CJMC (Christchurch) article about their old bike adventure rides, Ian and I decided to find out for ourselves. Along with Gary A on a BMW650GS, we headed over to Castlepoint in the Wairarapa, traveling on back roads and gravel roads. We rode our old-school trailbikes – Ian his 1980 Suzuki DR400S and myself on a 1974 Kawasaki F9 350 (disc-valve 2-stroke). We struck all kinds of weather from pouring rain to a strong south-westerly ‘breeze’, and it got cold.

Our first stop after the Mangamaire turnoff was Eketahuna. This was the only bit of main road and necessary to top up the older bikes as the next stop was Pahiatua on the way home. It was also pouring at the time so a bit of a spell out of the rain was a welcome break.
From there it was out to Alfredton and onto Castle Hill road through to Tinui. This road is predominantly gravel and winds its way through hill country farms, and then from Tinui it’s a 20 km dash to Castlepoint.

The local Castlepoint store has a café and we ordered fish & chips and coffee and enjoyed the shelter and outlook over the beach. As the wind seemed to be picking up we decided to forgo a ride along the beach and retraced our steps to Alfredton. This of course makes for a completely different ride. From Alfredton we went through Pa Valley Road to join the Rongomai loop and headed for Pahiatua and the BP station.

The Kawasaki hit reserve on this stretch of road at 94 miles (151 km). This was the first time I’ve reached reserve, and was surprised to have the bike then run dry at 103 miles (166 km). Not a lot to come and go on. The spare 5 litres went in and Pahiatua was reached without problem. The economy (if it can be called that) works out at 42 mpg or 15 km / litre). Ian’s DR400 also went onto reserve on this stretch of road but made it to Pahiatua with ½ litre to spare (and from a smaller tank). The DR achieving 20 km / litre. So distances have to be managed with the potential of 240 km (F9) to 280 km (DR) with the extra fuel carried.

So what was it like on the old bikes on a 270 km back road run? It was great fun and added an extra dimension to the ride. The combination of a 21” front wheel, narrow tyres, and light weight is very good on the gravel. The F9 has been geared up so will hold 65 mph on the road at 5000 rpm which doesn’t feel stressful on the engine. Ian’s DR is geared down slightly and also sits on 100 kph at 5000 rpm, and being a 4-stroke has a real advantage over the F9 on the hills and into the wind. The F9 has a big jump from 4th gear to 5th gear but the engine has good torque for a 2-stroke and it holds well.  3rd & 4th were perfect on the gravel.

These old trailbikes are very well suited to tight bumpy back roads soaking up irregularities with ease and providing a comfortable perch. They are very easy to manoeuvre when the corners tighten up, particularly so on gravel. Being able to maintain 100-110 kph on the main road is good and less stressful than being a mobile chicane at 80 or 90.

While the Suzuki is only 6 years newer than the Kawasaki it is clearly of another generation and would be far more capable off road I’m sure. But that’s a challenge for another day.

So dust off your old trailbike and come and explore the road less traveled.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Still doing the business. Alan De Lautours Suzuki RG500 XR14

Bruce S's road going RG500. Alan has a similar at home!

Another sound we should be hearing on the track shortly. The De Bros Suzuki TR250

Alan having a chat to his brother Paul after another track session

A lovely sight with sounds through the esses.

Coming into the esses

Since rekindling an interest in old two stroke bikes more than 10 years ago, the ultimate road bike for many has always been the Suzuki RG500. As a road bike and a racer it has developed a mystique that has seen them become some of the most expensive Japanese classic bikes you can buy. Alan has been racing and road riding them for the past forty years or more. In his younger days he was a very successful racer with New Zealand titles to his name, including a win in the New Zealand Castrol Six Hour. The XR14 he bought down to Manfield has been in regular race use since it was bought into New Zealand for Pat Hennen to ride in the Marlboro series in the seventies. It has certainly done many laps around Manfield, and Alan has just completed some mechanical work on it so it will do a few more. There is nothing like hearing the cackle from those four chambers as the bike makes its way through the esses! Long may we continue to hear that sound around our race tracks. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

More Suzuki TR250 fettling

The NSRs ran like clockwork all day.
Are those helmets the same? 

Tim and son Alex having a Mac Attack after a Track Attack.
 Is that Dions lawnmower petrol can?

A Yamaha Race Developed 350

Tony and grandson. Best to start them early.

Chappys lovely bit of bling!

"Are you sure you didn't put 91 into the tank?"

"One day I will make it onto the track"

Amazing what you can do with a TF125.

Says it all!

"Maybe I should hang this over the mantlepiece"

Support team

Bringing an older motorcycle back to a running and rideable condition, it is never an easy task. When it is a race bike one could argue it can be even more difficult. Kim and Pauls efforts with there TR250 have provided an insight into this frustrating process. Kim decided to use a track day at the beginning of this month to give the TR its first taste of a track in goodness knows how many years. Before bringing it to the track Kim checked to make sure it was going to start and all seemed fine. As the photos and video show it didn't quite work out at the track. All part of the fettling process. It was great to see many of the two strokes who had come along for the day congregated in the same area, with great support and camaraderie in evidence through out the day. I am sure Kim appreciated it.
Whilst Kims day ended in frustration, it was great to see Mike back with his bevy of two stroke bikes  that all got an outing on the day. It was also a family affair with brother and son out for a spin and mother, wife, daughter in law and grandchildren in support as well.  Nice to see Tim supporting his son Alex through his first go on the track and despite a couple of 'intimate' moments with the track. Alex is keen to have another go soon. great. Mike provided a nice juxtaposition with how there is nothing more satisfying than a nicely running two stroke performance motorcycle. Immaculately presented, as always, his Yamaha TR1 provided a wonderful cacophony of sights and sounds to warm the heart of a two stroke enthusiast. I am sure Kim has similar picture in his head and undoubtedly very soon it will be for real. Mind you, by the end of the day Mike and his family ended up with an extensive workshop 'to do' list. All part of what I believe is called "Two Stroke Joy".
Dion had an excellent day with not a mechanical gremlin or track conversation in sight. He certainly got his moneys worth out of the day! His NSR ran like clockwork, and he is looking good for the season. I hear a trip down south to Levels is on the calendar. Hopefully Kim can have the TR fettled by then.