Friday, May 31, 2013

Sydney Tower

On the weekend I decided to take the family to one of Sydney's other famous icons. The Sydney Tower Eye or as most aussie's know it as centre point tower in the middle of the city. My wife had won some free passes so I thought it would be a great experience for the kids to enjoy the day out. And to be honest I wanted to go and have a look at the tower since I haven't been up there since I was about 11 years old. I don't know who was more excited me or my 5 year old princess.

 The tower is Sydney's tallest building standing at 309m, which in world terms is pretty small. Auckland's Skytower is the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere at 328m, although the observation deck of sydney tower is 50m higher than the Skytower in NZ. These are very small next to the worlds tallest building Burj Dubai at a whopping 828m which is nearly 3 times the height.

It may not be one of the tallest buildings in the world but the views from the observation deck are pretty spectacular. The day we were there was on a Sunday with clear blue sky's and only a little haze in the sky. You could see for 80km from this height.

North to Harbour

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Queen Victoria Building

St Marys Cathedral
Little miss 5 year old was much impressed with the views and was running about looking at everything. Things were going to plan as I knew that she would be well and truly buggered by the end of the day leaving me and the missus with a quiet evening. It was funny when little miss 5 called Sydney tower the Eiffel tower. We all had a good laugh as well as another lady nearby.
Darling Harbour and west to the Blue Mountains

South to Botany Bay

Sydney Cricket Ground(SCG) and Football stadium

ANZAC Memorial

East to Sydney Harbour

My 3 girls loving their day out

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Michelin Pilot Power Pure - Review

This review is my personal thoughts on the Michelin Pilot Power Pure(PPP) tyre from a complete novice(I'm no racer) although I'm no beginer either. Following on from Geoff James excellent post on the Michelin Road 3 tyres and his great advice on them I thought I'd give you a run down on my thoughts on these tyres.

Firstly what am I looking for in a tyre? There are a couple of things that I am looking for in a set of tyres. In order of importance for me.

1. Performance - Most of my riding is on the weekends which involves riding some of the local twisties or as the yanks say canyons. Its mostly fast sports riding, throw in a bit of city riding and some touring to get to the twisties, its been a long time since I've done some tracks days but I used to use Pilot Powers for track days and never had any problems what so ever. I've been known to put a super soft race spec front tyre in with a standard rear. My theory is that you can never have enough grip on the front, the rear is not as important. Most of the time the front tyre is only half worn out by the time the rear is gone so with the super soft front I'm getting more confidence inspiring tyre to do the same amount of work. I always replace front and rear at the same time, I think its false economy to put in a new rear with an old worn front. The front is now out of shape so handling is not quite as good as it should be.

2. Lifespan - Life cycle of the tyre is also an important consideration. My expectation out of a sports tyre is anywhere from 4-5000kms. My first rear tyre on my R1 only lasted 2500kms before becoming completely bald on both the centre and the edges. That to me is far to short on the road. I read on Geoff's blog he's getting 13,000kms out of a set of tyres. I was quite amazed really to read that, I'd never heard of that many km on a motorcycle tyre before. But for me I want to know that I have the grip available to ride the way I do. I'm not sure the PR3 will have the levels of grip that the PPP will have. but who knows they will probably still be better than me.

3. Cost - Obviously cost is a big factor as well. I don't want to pay huge prices for the tyres either. This one kind of goes hand in hand with the life cycle of the tyre

The tyres that I was using previous to these were the Michelin Pilot Power 2 (PP2) which I was very happy with. These were sports tyres that I got very good wear out of and they had good levels of grip. Before that I was using Dunlop D208 sports tyres and there were quite a few big differences in the 2 different tyre brands. Some of which were tyre life and the levels of grip from cold to hot. The dunlops heated up much faster giving higher levels of grip earlier, where as the Michelin took a lot longer to heat up to give the same amount of grip. The dunlop also couldn't match the Michelin in the wet for feel.

A few years ago Colin Edwards, world superbike champ and motogp legend tested the PP2 on his motogp machine at Sepang as seen here in this you tube video. Check out 1:51 where he is smoking em up out of the bends. Wicked stuff. Love his initial comments on riding on street tyres.

If Colin can push these street based tyres to the limits like this to be within 8 seconds of his motogp time then there is no way that someone of my skill level will reach the limits of this tyre. I'll hit my limits before the tyres do.

So most of my riding on these have been sports riding or sports touring, 95% of the time in the dry. I try and not ride in the rain anymore if I can help it. When they first went on I had my full touring rack+bag on the back high over the back wheel and coming down some gentle slopes I'd relaxed and removed my hands from the bars the bike started into a small slap of the bars that if I didn't grab it soon enough it would soon develop into a fairly large slap. I'd check the alignment with only the marks on the bike itself which looked good but as Geoff says this could be a mile out. So that may be a problem. It hasn't really been a problem after I'd put some K's on the tyres. Could it be loose steering head bearings? I'm not sure.

The front is confidence inspiring with great feel and feedback. The tyre doesn't flop or fall into a curve it just turns in nice and steadily, exactly proportional to the rate that I'm counter steering. I'm usually running pressure at about 34 psi front and 36-38 at back. If I want to do some really hard riding I might want to drop them a bit, to say 31-32F/33-34R but I don't usually do that much anymore. This tends to wear the tyre a lot faster, nice if you like to get balls of rubber across your tyre. If I know that I'll be doing a lot of straight road riding which I normally don't do then I'll put the pressures up to 36 F/41R just so they don't wear as fast.

These pictures are after 4600 km's on these tyre in sports riding mode.

Front shape still nice and round

Rear shape still nice and round

Still plenty of tread on the sides

The last trip that I went on to Wee Jasper was the end of these tyres as you can see from these pictures below, the tyre is now on the wear marker in the centre and almost on the side. Time for a new set. The speedo reading was 58,792km which means I got 6360km's out of this set of tyres. Not too bad for a sports tyre.

Tyres with 6360 Km's on them at the end of their lifespan.

I'd noticed on the way home that they were starting to get hard to turn into a bend as they seem to have developed a flat spot in the middle making initial turn in a bit harder than usual. Now they are on the wear markers in the centre its time for new rubber. I don't mess around and try and get another 500kms out of them. I think that it gambling too much and also false economy. I'd rather fork out for some new tyres which will also transform the handling again to super quick turn in.

All in all I quite like these tyres as they seeming have plenty of grip during spirited riding are also very confidence inspiring in the rain and with almost 6500kms out of them are excellent value for money.

EDIT: A few riders have mentioned that on some of their bikes that they have had the front tyre square off on these tyres. It seems if you own a heavy bike 230kg+ that this happens with. I had no dramas like this with my R1 but it only weights 201kgs.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Licence Renewal

I had to renew my licence last week which I'd nearly forgotten. Here in NSW you can get 1 year, 3 year or a 5 year license. I had previously a Gold 5 year licence. When I went down to the Roads and traffic authority(RTA) to renew my licence I handed it over to the nice lady behind the counter. She looked at it and then looked at me. Then she proceeded to proclaim that I am such a good driver that I qualify for a 50% discount on my renewal.

Are you F#&kin serious was my first thought! then woo hoo Half price licence was my second. Heh I just had to laugh, I thought that they should be tearing up my licence not telling me I'm a fantastic driver and giving me a discount. I mean seriously. How do they figure that one out. If you haven't had a speeding ticket in the last 5 years your considered a good driver??? By that standard I could have run 40 people off the road and killed all of them but since I haven't had a ticket I'm considered a good driver.
I'm not knocking a cheap licence but they seriously have no idea about anything. Another great example of a clueless government department right there. I'll let you decide.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What's this then?

A parcel arrived at my front door today. I thought what the heck could this be I haven't ordered anything lately.

As it turned out flyboy has given me an early birthday present. Thanks mate. Looks like you want me to do all the planning.

Great suggestion Geoff, now I'm gonna have my reading and planning cut out for me.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

3 Amigos in Wee Jasper

A ride opportunity had come up with Wayne and Geoff on Sunday/Monday. With no one having any idea of where they wanted to go, I quickly reeled off the Oxley Hwy as we hadn't done that in a long time. But unfortunately for us, all the accommodation at Gingers Creek had been booked out. I had been thinking of the Ride down to Wee Jasper as I had read about it in the Australian HEMA motorcycle atlas as one of this country's top 100 Rides. So it was decided that we would do that, as none of us had done that one before.

We picked up Wayne in the Blue Mountains on our way out to Oberon on Sunday morning. It had turned a bit chilly but not enough to use my neck warmer, although I had mine with me. But it soon warmed up to 20°C(68F) and we were having a great time out on the bikes. We had taken the road down into Jenolan Caves, but did not stop in today rather pushing on into Oberon for a late morning tea/early lunch.

Jenolan Lookout

Leaving Oberon we had normally gone out through Black Springs but instead this time we took an alternate route out through shooters hill road. This was a fantastic little jaunt over the crest of hills in between the pine forests.This was a spirited ride both on this and the return trip. We didn't stop again until we got into Taralga where we had stopped for a quick break/drink at the pub. The full autumn colours were out on show for us here in the main street of Taralga.

Autumn in Taralga

After Goulburn there wasn't any alternative but going up the Hume Hwy, for 82km of excruciatingly painful straight Hwy miles to which we'd nearly got done by the local constabulary. I was doing an a little over the limit and enough to be given a ticket, it was a 110kmh zone when I saw him. He must have been asleep or something to get away with that one. This is where I though F*#k this, I don't ever want to ride the Hume again.

Not long after we'd gotten into Yass and turned off to our final destination for the day, Wee Jasper. The road into there has just about every sort of bend there is. It's a fantastic motorcycle road, which eventually comes out at Tumut. It's a bit unfortunate that the road from Wee Jasper to Tumut has about 20km of dirt otherwise this would be the best way up into the snowy mountains on the way to Philip Island.

Here is a short video of the road down to the bridge over the Murrumbidgee River on the way.

Here's another short video of me chasing Geoff up the hillside after the bridge over the Murrumbidgee River. Riding into the sun at the end of the day was quite challenging, going in and out of the shadows and blinding sun. It's also where Geoff encountered a caravan halfway round one of the bends, a bit surprised me thinks was he.

This was one seriously fun road, but there was a lot of Sunday afternoon traffic which included about 10 rescue vehicles and probably 5 or 6 police vehicles. Geeze and in the middle of nowhere too.
The ride out in the morning was a lot better than the ride in as the sun wasn't directly in our faces as it was late in the arvo. The scenery around this area was spectacular even in late autumn when it was brown and dead looking. It would be very pretty in spring time.

By the time we had reached the bottom of the hills and crossed the Wee Jasper bridge it was time to hit the only place in town that was open, the pub. The pub used to be an old horse stable back in the 1800's but has been turned into this rustic little pub. It looked quite nice. Everything about the area was fantastic. Then we met the publican who it turned out was an aged woman who could talk the ears off a rocking horse. I think the term that came up was very eccentric. Although she did a pretty mean pizza that was spicy just like I like them.

Wee Jasper Tavern

There are only 2 cabins at the pub, one has 2 beds and the other has one, so not that much accommodation for travellers but plenty of camping space if your camping your way to Philip Island. The cabins were adequate with a TV and DVD, but there was no TV channels so you only have a choice of DVD's. Geoff was disappointed they had no porn.

The other thing we noticed as we grabbed a beer and walk up to the bridge for a look around was that there was a blue fibre optic cable hanging through the tree's and tapped onto the bridge. It turns out that this is part of Gillards NBN roll out to which we found out later was put in to feed the local school for 10 kids at the cost of ½ million dollars. And wow the absolute quality or workmanship showed through for that ½ Mill. This is where our tax money is going on useless crap that isn't even installed correctly or to any wiring standard known in this country. The cable was hanging in the tree's and had some electrical tape holding it to the bridge. Whoever did this needs to be fired. I can't wait till we can get rid of Julia in September. You can see the cable just above Geoff's head in the photo below.

Monday morning started with the short but oh so much fun ride out of Wee Jasper the way we had come in. For some reason none of the images on the Gopro turned out today, they all were coloured orange and worthless. What a bummer as some of these would have been great in the early morning.

We stopped in at Yass for breakfast, and from here decided to take some new roads we haven't been on before. Anything to keep off the dreaded Hume Hwy. We tracked up through Crookwell and then across to Taralga, which there was 5kms of good dirt, but the ride through here was fantastic. It was a great way to avoid the hume hwy and was winding country side. We were all pretty chuffed about these new roads we'd found.

Here's the return journey map link.

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