Friday, May 30, 2014

30 May - Yarra Valley, Warburton, Gembrook

Woke up this morning, crossed my fingers and looked out the bedroom window. Wow, the early morning fog which had been forecast was gone leaving a brilliant, sunny autumn day.

I was keen to take the 750 for a spin to check out the foot boards and to carry out whatever adjustments were required so I thought some twisty mountain roads to the Yarra Valley would be a great way to take advantage of the beautiful day.

The first coffee was in Neerim South. Sitting at an outside table, drinking a strong espresso with the sun beating down on the back of my leather jacket, while some of the locals prodded and looked over the Honda was really nice. I'm finding that motorcycling teaches you to live in the moment - to feel the sun, smell the coffee, enjoy the powerful throb of the engine - so that all thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow disappear. I think that is why it is such an addictive activity.

A quick adjustment of the footboards was needed as shifting gears felt a bit awkward. Then it was onwards along the now familiar road through Powelltown, Yarra Junction and on to Warburton. Throughout the ride the sun was bright and the air was clear with an occasional whiff of smoke from a wood fire.

In Warburton it was time to refuel and to make another small adjustment to the floorboards. Then it was time for lunch at the Warburton bakery. Great food and good coffee - the day was going well.

One of the largest buildings in Warburton is the Sanitarium Health Food factory. It was owned by the Sanitarium Health food company which started manufacturing Granose biscuits in Warburton in the 1920's. This company is an off-shoot of the Adventist Church. I can remember driving past the factory over a period of many years - it was always known as the factory where Wheetbix were made.

A good indication of the demand for Granose biscuits is the fact that throughout the Great Depression when unemployment rose to 30% in Victoria, the Warburton factory maintained full production and full staff numbers throughout. The original factory was abandoned after severe flooding of the Yarra River in 1934. Construction of the new factory started in 1936 and was complete by 1938.

It is interesting to note that Hardie's proudly advertised the fact that the roof of the factory was made with their asbestos based 'Fibrolite' sheets. That's going to lead to tears.

The factory operated successfully through the ensuing decades receiving a major equipment upgrade in 1970. Eventual closure of the factory in 1997 came as shock to the employees and the people of Warburton. There were people working overtime on the day it was shut down.
Since then there is occasional talk about redeveloping the building into a conference facility but nothing has happened and each time I ride past the building it is looking a bit more dilapidated. That asbestos roof would complicate the issue somewhat.
After riding the bike to from Warburton to Gembrook I found that I had adjusted the footboards too low as they were scraping the road in the tighter bends so, out with the tools again for the final adjustment. I think they are right this time as I took a route home along fairly winding roads and all seemed OK. Another memorable day on the bike.

 Total Distance 238 km.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

28 May - Honda Shadow VT400 For Sale

So, the time has come to pass my VT400 cruiser on to someone else who wants a stylish and well equipped cruiser suitable for a beginner or returning rider.

I bought this bike new in 2010 the day I obtained my learners permit. Click here to read blog on the day of purchase.

It has been my constant companion on numerous short and long rides including a trip around Tasmania. Blog of Tasmania trip here. The bike is in excellent condition, has always been garaged and has been dealer serviced throughout. The most recent service, a few weeks ago was the 36,000 km service. The Honda is registered until next February and the tyres have at least 10,000 km to go before they need replacing. This bike has been ultra reliable and features Electronic Fuel Injection and Shaft Drive.

The bike is fitted with the following optional extras:

- Oxford grip heaters
- Eagle windscreen
- Air horn
- Quick release pannier bags
- Sissy Bar and Luggage Rack
- 12 V Auxiliary power socket.

I am asking $5,000 which includes a Road Worthy Certificate (RWC).

You can find a review of the VT400 here!

For further information please email me or leave questions in the comments section.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

27 May - Too wet to ride

Our run of exceptionally fine weather has come to an end with today shaping up to be a dark and damp day. Just as I was thinking that any motorcycle activity was out of the question, the front door bell rang - the postman delivering a set of footboards I had ordered on eBay just a few days ago.

So,  out with the tools and into the garage to figure out how to fit the boards. Getting the pegs out was as simple as removing a split pin and a locking pin and out they came. The front boards fitted with only a little persuasion from the hammer, but getting them adjusted to achieve the most comfortable position and still operate brake and gear levers took a bit of time.

The rear (pillion) pegs were a bit more trouble. The actual stem on the board was slightly too long which meant the mounting holes wouldn't line up. The obvious solution was to grind them down a bit but I was concerned that that would remove the chrome plating and reveal the underlying steel. Still there was no alternative and a fairly tedious grinding session began. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pegs were not chrome plated but where in fact stainless steel all the way through. Anyway, although the boards weren't exactly 'plug and play' a couple of hours of head scratching and effort and all was well. Took the bike for a run and everything was fine.

As my bike is the 2006 model it did not have any kind of clock, unlike the VT400 and my BMW. Once again eBay came to the rescue with a rather smart handlebar mounted clock which also arrived a few days ago. Fitting that only took a minute or so and I am rather pleased with it.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

25 May - Ulysses Club Ride to Metung

Today was the last Sunday of the month which means our local branch of the Ulysses Club monthly ride was on. Early start today - 9 am at the Green Olive Restaurant in Traralgon for a ride to Metung. Metung is a beautiful little village located right in the middle of the Gippsland Lakes. Now, you can ride there along the highway in just under two hours but of course that is not the point of Ulysses rides which avoid major roads as much as possible. And so we meandered through the Gippsland countryside for our first stop which was coffee at a bakery in Sale. Then on to the back roads from Sale to Bairnsdale via Meerlieu and Bengworden. After a brief interval on the Princes Highway we once again headed for the wilder side via Bruthen and Swan Reach. Lots of dining options in Metung, some (including me) opted for the bakery others chose the very good Metung hotel located right on the water's edge.

After kicking back for an hour or so it was time to head in the direction of home but once again our ride leader showed us many roads I didn't even know existed. We travelled through Lindenow, Briagalong with another afternoon coffee stop in Stratford. From there another hour to get home after a great day out. I particularly enjoyed meeting a number of new members and catching up with others I hadn't seen for a while.

Total Distance 385 km.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

21 May - South Gippsland

Our glorious autumn weather continues and is currently setting 'all time' weather records for this time of the year. Knowing that some awful weather is just around the corner provided enough motivation to fire up the VT750 and head to South Gippsland over the Strzeleckis. First stop was Yarram to stock up the freezer with some goodies from the Yarram Bakery, and a fuel stop for the bike.

Then, west along the South Gippsland Highway, past the wind generators at Toora and then on to Meeniyan before turning back into the hills and towards home via Boolarra and Morwell.

One sign of the unusually warm weather is that the bike is now totally covered in dead bugs and it looks like I'll have quite a cleaning job to do tomorrow. Can't believe we're only a week or so from the start of winter and I was actually a bit too warm in the thermals.

Total Distance 220km

Sunday, May 18, 2014

18 May - Ride with SRA members

Joined a small group of Shadow Riders (SRA today. The four guys were all coming from Melbourne  and we arranged to meet in Warragul. From here we took the Warragul to Korumburra Road, and then continued on to Wonthaggi and San Remo. Lunch (fish and chips) was in San Remo in the shadow of the famous San Remo bridge.

The long run of fine weather continued and it was very pleasant on the coast but eventually is was time to say goodbye to the guys who were heading back to Melbourne while I turned east to go back to Traralgon.
In Leongatha I was confronted with flashing level crossing lights on a railway which I thought was out of service. It seems that a group of enthusiast operate a train between Korumburra and Leongatha on Sundays. The train is called the South Gippsland Railway.

An interesting web site can be found here

An unexpected but very pleasant day out on the Shadow.

Total Distance 307 km.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

14 May - Warburton, Marysville and Healesville - Checking out the Viking Bag

Here in the SE corner of Australia we are experiencing a long run of calm, sunny days and today was no exception. As I indicated a few blogs ago the folks at had asked me to check out and review one of their bags, and today was a great opportunity to check out the bag under real riding conditions. I chose the route through Neerim, Powelltown, Warburton and the Reefton Spur to Marysville. Riders familiar with this part of the country will know that it is a beautiful ride through the countryside and interesting towns, through pristine eucalyptus forests and over a mountain range. I really wanted to check that the bag would be stable on the bike and stay in place.

The bag I selected is a large sissybar bag for the VT750 Cruiser. (BR-LEATHER-S)

This bag which measures 43 x 56 x 30 cm is large enough to accommodate an extended trip on the bike.  The info page including videos of fitting options is here:
I will group my comments on this product as follows:


This bag is designed to mount either in front of the sissy bar or on the luggage rack behind it if there is one. With special attachments (included with the bag) it can even be fitted directly to the pillion seat if there is no sissybar. The bag features a unique rod system for ensuring the cuff over the sissy bar is a snug fit. As well as a range of straps to accommodate almost any fitting method the bag also includes straps to convert it to a backpack.

Build Quality:

This product is extremely well constructed. Internal supports ensure the bag retains its shape and structure when empty. All zips and buckles are of high quality and should last for a long time and many a long motorcycle adventure. The bag is constructed of an extremely tough, synthetic leather material which should be very weather resistant and easy to keep clean. Additionally, a rain cover which extends over the whole bag is also provided.


This bag holds far more than any other product I've ever used. Between it and my Honda panniers I would be able to travel indefinitely. The side and top pockets would be useful for storing items such as phones, iPads and even laptops and all the charging equipment. Most parts of the bag are lockable using the small luggage locks available for suitcases. Generally speaking though I think the rain cover, which is fitted in seconds would discourage the curious or the larcenous.

Value for Money:

At US$139 this bag represents very good value for money. For Australian riders, even with postage, this product represents twice the value of anything I've come across.

Because my parcel rack is reasonably small, I mounted the bag in front of the sissybar - where the pillion would sit. For me that is not an issue as I don't ever ride two up.

Mounting it on my bike, with the straps provide took a couple of minutes and once attached the bag was rock steady. After I had ridden for a couple of hours I stopped to check everything at this interesting shop at Millgrove.

Nothing had moved and all the straps were still nice and tight. From here I pushed on through Warburton and into the Reefton Spur. This mountainous, windy road through magnificent eucalyptus forests proved to be a good test - the bag came through with flying colors. After lunch at the bakery in Marysville, I fitted the rain cover (despite it being a beautiful sunny day) to make sure it fitted OK and would stay in place.

Reached home after 400km of some of the best motorcycling roads on offer which provided not only a great day out but also gave me the confidence that the Viking Bag can easily cope with the sort of travel I do. It's a great product and I can't wait to organise a longer trip in the near future.

Viking offer a huge range of bags to fit just about anywhere on any bike and anyone interested in checking out this or similar products should visit

Total Distance 400 km.

Monday, May 12, 2014

12 May - Paynesville

Brilliant day for riding today and decided to visit our friends John and Sandra in Paynesville. Paynesville is a resort town in East Gippsland. It has a population of around 3,000. It is located 290 km east of Melbourne and due to its location on the Gippsland lakes it is a major centre for recreational boating.

The Gippsland Lakes are a network of lakes, marshes and lagoons, fed by a number of rivers and connected to the ocean at Lakes Entrance. Collectively the Gippsland Lakes cover an area of 350 sq. km.

Today, a typical still, sunny autumn day resulted in beautiful calm waters and the view from John and Sandra's was fantastic. By mid afternoon, and after a very enjoyable lunch, it was time to go home. It was still mild and sunny so another enjoyable ride home.

Total Distance 280 km.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

8 May - Philip Island

The weather bureau promised a mild warm day today after a long stretch of miserable riding weather. Woke up this morning and peeked out the bedroom window and hooray! Blue skies and no wind. Time to go for the first decent ride on the VT750 Shadow. Bright weather always attracts me to either the coast or the mountains and at this time of the year the coast seemed a much better choice so I pointed the bike to the scenic route to Philip Island via the Gippsland hills between Korumburra and Wonthaggi. It was one of those sparkling days where everything looks brighter and shinier and with the bike purring away nicely and the sun beating down on my back I was once again reminded of the special joy that is motorcycling.

 Old rail bridge at Kilcunda, South Gippsland

All too soon, I reached the bridge at San Remo which connects the mainland to Philip Island and after a quick stop for a photo it was time to continue.

Cowes, the main town on Philip Island is a very popular tourist destination, but today and at this time of the year there were very few holiday makers so I only had to share with the locals which seem to be predominantly recently retired people. Enjoyed a great coffee and bacon and egg roll at Gullivers - must try one of the other cafes soon.

The return trip was wonderful too. Took the coast road between Cape Patterson and Inverloch which runs right alongside the Bunarong Coastal Marine park. Very beautiful but all too brief. Stopped for fuel at Inverloch and noticed that my phone had gone flat. Time to check out my newly installed power supply so a quick detour to the local discount store for a $4 iPhone cable, plugged it all in and all was well. By mid afternoon, the bright sun of the morning had changed to produce a golden glow over the countryside. There was still no wind and the winding way home through the Strzelecki ranges was absolutely superb.

I must say I'm rapidly developing my relationship with the new Shadow. It has all the comforts and civilised behaviour that my previous Shadow had, but the extra power for passing or going up hill is outstanding. When you twist the throttle to pass someone if feels like the afterburners have kicked in - very reassuring.

I can thoroughly recommend the Honda VT750 for anyone looking for a comfortable, well behaved and easy to ride motorcycle that still has lots of grunt when it is needed.

Another great day on the bike.

Total Distance 335 km

Monday, May 5, 2014

5 May - Too Miserable to Ride

Today was one of those days when you don't ride a motorcycle unless absolutely necessary - cold, wet and windy. Instead I caught up on a little job on the VT750 - installing auxiliary power. On the VT400 I installed a weatherproof cigarette lighter type socket for suppling power to a range of items including phone and GPS. I was about to do the same on the VT750 but I thought I would check on eBay to see what was available. What I found was this:

 A single, handlebar mounted device that supplies 12v and USB 5v, and it's weatherproof as well. The item arrived a couple of days ago and today seemed like the right day to install it. All up it took about an hour or so, the hardest part was threading the power cable under the fuel tank and to the battery. After that it was simple, and a quick test confirmed all was well. The cable to the battery includes an inline fuse.

And here it is mounted on the handlebars next to the controls for the Oxford grip heaters.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

4 May - Walhalla

Came back from a 6 day caravan trip to Port Fairy on Friday. As you riders will know, 6 (or more days) without a ride is ridiculous, and the weather in Traralgon has been less than encouraging. Did manage a quick coffee in Mirboo North on Saturday on the VT750 and I must say the more I ride that bike the more I like it. Of course, it is similar to ride to my VT400 but it has that extra power for hills and passing. It runs beautifully.

With all the attention going to the recent Honda acquisition lately the Beemer has been looking a little bit neglected and by mid afternoon today I decided to ignore the inclement weather for a quick trip on the Beemer, to Walhalla. It was a bit overcast but dry and the temperature was 15ºC which is perfectly fine provided you turn the grip heaters to high. Within 5 km it had started to rain and by the time I got to Walhalla the temperature had dropped to 7ºC - hadn't really dressed for that and the hot coffee at the Grey Horse came just in time. The ride back was mostly in the rain but in a strange way, enjoyable none the less. Motorcycling is like that!

On another topic altogether - some weeks ago I was contacted by a representative of two on line businesses marketing motorcycling gear, namely and .

Most Australian motorcyclist will know that in this country we are slugged mercilessly by vendors of motorcycles and motorcycle gear. This is of course true for a range of goods from books, clothes and CD/DVD's. The higher prices charged in Australia can't really be explained in transport costs. If you take motorcycle apparel for example, most of it is manufactured in Asia and if anything should be cheaper in Australia than in the USA, but often it is 100% plus more expensive.

So on checking some items in both of these on line stores I was pleased to see a good range of quality goods available at a fraction of the price charged in this country.

On the basis of my motorcycling and blogging activity the representative of these companies asked if I would be interested in reviewing a couple of items on my blog, and while it is not the intention to make my blog into any kind of of commercial venture (I have deliberately avoided advertising opportunities) I am more amenable, in the interest of informing fellow riders, of the opportunities offered by Motorcycle House and Viking Bags.

I decided to review a Viking sissy bar bag which will go on my Honda VT750, and when I arrived back from my brief caravan trip it arrived the very next day.

So, in the next few days or so, I will mount it on the Honda, take some photos and video and let you know what I think. In the meantime, if you need some gear (and who doesn't) check out the web sites.
The URL for the US Motorcycle House site is