Receiving tender loving care
Had a 320 km round trip today to Hamilton to give the Street Triple its 10000 km service (also it's 1st birthday within a day or so). I'm always impressed with the superb service at the Hamilton Motorcycle Centre where you are always made to feel a valued customer by literally everyone working there. The service was about 3 hours long, so plenty of time to look round the superb showroom packed with Triumphs, BMW's, Ducatis and Kawasakis. More on the showroom in a minute. One of my riding partners for the Grand Challenge also dropped in unexpectedly so it was great to have coffee and a yak on comfortable settees, surrounded by exotic hardware. Also bumped into a prominent member of Kiwi Rider magazine, Todd Sutherland. I worked with him at a manufacturing company before he turned a shared passion into a living - we hadn't seen each other for probably 20 years so that was good Karma too.
Anyway, back to the bikes in the showroom.......
I love bikes. Don't care where they're made or what badge is on the tank, I love 'em. Back in the 60's, it was the European makes that were looking tired and outdated, with the Japanese being innovative and producing bikes with great performance, stunning looks and superb reliability. It's only a personal view, but I reckon that the pendulum is swinging the other way. The Kawasaki range in the showroom, all of them good bikes; looked "same old, same old" - simply an incremental development of previous models. Of course, this Kaizen approach (small incremental improvements) has been the cornerstone of Japanese prosperity but I can't help thinking that innovation is getting increasingly buried as a consequence. The European bikes in the showroom all seemed to have flair, whether it be in overall design, an item of detail or paint finish. Have a look at these photos (click to enlarge and drool):
The Thruxton Bonnie retains the Triumph purity of line starting some 4 decades or more ago, but there's nothing old about any of the detail. A pearl white metallic tank and seat cowl with a red frame makes it a stunning bike. It takes clever people to create elegant simplicity.
Triumph Daytona 675 SE
Most people know what a huge world-wide success the faired and naked 675's have been and continue to be so enough said on that subject. I'd seen photos of the blue and white SE and my initial impression was that it was a tart's handbag. How wrong I was! The pearl white finish combined with an unusual but "just right" shade of blue frame and suspension is absolutely beautiful. And look at the shot of it's muffler below. Even an old guy in his 60's can feel certain stirrings when looking at that!
Oh my, my..... I've come over all faint!
Moving on to BMW's, they had an HP2 Sport in the shop. Arguably the ultimate development of BMW's flat twin with 4 valve head, fuel injection, Telelever front suspension and Paralever rear suspension with an Ohlins hydraulic unit, it simply drips with class. Ok, the performance isn't on par with a Japanese sport bike but neither does it pretend to compete. It's also very expensive but its quality has strong appeal to a section of the market, just as something like a Morgan Plus Eight has to a certain section of the car market.
The componentry drips class
BMW HP2 rear wheel - tell me that this isn't pure art
I ADORE the BMW HP2. If ever some unknown rich relative leaves me a legacy, this is where the money is going. And the bike is going in the lounge, alongside Jennie's art objects! (Subject to executive permission of course).
Ducati - not much else to say when the name is mentioned, is there? The race-bred styling is legendary, but it was the angular lines of the Hypermotard which caught my eye. Simple, elegant lines which exude purpose.
Bad to the bone!
It's fortunate that Hamilton Motorcycles are just over 2 hours away from home or I'd be spending every second day in there drooling on the bikes and their beautiful wooden floor. However, it's a rare treat and a real pleasure to drop in and see what's on the showroom floor. I rest my case about European bikes.....
Before finally departing from the showroom, I thought you might enjoy the photo below. In one corner of the showroom, there's a huge photo of a BMW GS which I thought was a superb composition. In front of it, an old 350cc BSA B40 (I think?) prepared for off-road competition. I reckon the two go perfectly together and would grace the corner of any guy's den!
Old meets new
With the Grand Challenge on Saturday, it's all starting to hit home and I've busied myself for the last couple of days gathering items to take, hopefully avoiding any last-minute panics. One lounge is strewn with "guy stuff" ready for packing, discarding and re-packing maybe half of it. Included in this is my staple sustenance for the ride to avoid the energy "crash and burn" cycle of sugar-based junk food from gas stations. This is a mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruits known as scroggin in NZ, Trail Mix (I think) in the Americas and God knows what else in other parts of the world. Tastes great, easy to digest, more or less linear energy release and minimises embarrassing unscheduled stops at the roadside to meet the needs of nature.
Because it's 7 years since completing the last 1000-miler, I've been getting a wee bit introspective and wondering exactly why I entered as it's never easy and at my age, it's certainly going to hurt. Going for a decent ride with treasured mates a sufficient reason? That's part of it for certain, especially as three of my friends are doing the Grand Challenge for the first time and sharing the momentous occasion with them is going to be very special.
It's more than that though. Without wanting to sound too philosophical or any way "new age", most of us have fairly comfortable routine lives which can border on mundane if we're inclined to let it be that way. Occasionally stretching one's self and stepping outside the comfort zone is a means of reminding us all that life is to be lived and unless the Buddhists are right, we only get one crack at life on this earth. That's exactly my reason for doing it and becomes more important the older I get. Back in the late 80's, I lost my best friend and work colleague in a motoring accident. He was an innocent victim, leaving behind a wonderful wife and 3 lovely young kids. Jennie and I were contacted by the police to help break the news to them and with only 10 minutes' warning, that's something you don't want to do more than once in a lifetime. That tragedy completely changed the lives of Jennie and me. It drove home the importance of not sitting back and putting things off as you can never predict what's round the corner. Stretching one's self in all sorts of ways but enjoying it at the same time all is part of avoiding those dreaded words "if only I....". Riding a motorcycle on a physically and mentally demanding long haul is just one step along the path of worthwhile activity and enjoyment at the same time. (Errrr... if you can call a lot of pain and anxiety enjoyable!)
Phew, that was all a bit deep and I'm not sure that I've done a particularly good job of explaining myself. However, I'm sure that if anyone is going to understand the sentiments behind it, it's going to be people who ride motorcycles!
Anxiously scanning the weather forecast on a daily basis. So far, it looks less horrific than some of the past Grand Challenges. Currently, there's a band of rain scheduled to hit the north island around daybreak on Sunday. Most people won't mind this as it's usually in the middle of the night on some god-forsaken unlit goat track in the back of beyond that conditions are at their worst . The start and finish is at the southernmost tip of Lake Taupo, right in the middle of the north island. As to where the bit in between will take us, it's anyone's guess until all is revealed the night before the ride. If any of you have a connection to the Weather Gods, we'd all appreciate some positive vibes please!
Errr... not looking too bad by normal standards
Hope to catch you all next week with a post about a successful outcome. In the meantime, ride safely everyone.
Saturday, 16th October. 3.03 pm start time. Showtime.....