Wheel alignment

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

A social ride and some purchases

Our central north island region of IAM covers some 36,000 sq km so it's difficult to get a bunch of riders together to socialise as opposed to formal 1:1 coaching.  We try and organise a purely social ride every couple of months or so but with winter here now and with parts of our region getting some decent frosts and/or fog first thing, meeting at a central location can present a few challenges.  It's an early start for some, riding a couple of hours or more to a rendezvous, spending 3 or 4 hours on the ride and then going home afterwards.  Extreme care on the roads are required and good warm gear too.  My Gerbing heated gloves were perfect for an early morning start.

However, a few hardy souls turned up last weekend to ride through the Waikato back roads.  It would seem that a few car clubs had the same idea as we shared the start point at the small town of Te Aroha with the MX-5 (Miata) and Ford Mustang owners clubs. At the finish point, it was an encounter with the Jaguar owner's club.  Excellent that everyone mingled and chatted.

Some of the group arriving at Te Aroha

The Waikato province has some fabulous, technical backroads and the leader of this ride who goes by the nickname of "Goose" had chosen some beauties.  We use the "corner marker" system where the second rider stops at a turnoff to ensure everyone takes the correct route.  It enables riders to progress at a good pace without anyone missing the turns.  I volunteered to be the Tail End Charlie sweeper on this ride to keep an eye on things from the very rear.  That position also means it's a real pleasure from the back to see a bunch of identically-trained riders all cranked over taking the same lines through corner after corner - sheer poetry!

The ride took us past the entrance to the Hobbiton set from the Lord of the Rings movie.  A bit of care was needed here as narrow, twisty country roads and bus loads of tourists aren't a good mix with riders "pressing on".  However, no dramas!  Everyone who has been there says it's a terrific experience, not at all tacky.  It's located on a working farm.

Not a Hobbit in sight (file photo from Trip Advisor)

The back roads were exceedingly well chosen by Goose as with the exception of just a handful of km near Hobbiton, we encountered almost no traffic.  Just east of the town of Cambridge, we rode up a narrow sealed track to the summit of Sanatorium Hill; so called because tuberculosis patients were once sent there to recover.  All that remains now is a beautiful park with spectacular views across the Waikato province.  The view was made even nicer with the remains of morning fog below us in patches and frontal cloud starting to roll in.

  Mount Pirongia in the distance from Sanatorium Hill

The bikes at Sanatorium Hill

Striking frontal cloud starting to roll in

From the photo op stop, it was on to our lunch destination, Oasis Hideaway just outside Cambridge.  It's a rustic function venue which is open to the public on Sundays with their speciality being wood-fired pizzas - perfect!

Lots of natural wood everywhere at Oasis Hideaway

Some of the outdoor seating with a large brazier

Petrified wooden dragon - could it be Smaug?

After filling up with pizza, it was time to head for our respective corners of the central north island.  It's so nice riding with friends whom you trust implicitly and I arrived home towards sunset happy and having covered a little over 400 km.  The first social ride of winter!

It was also time to renew the brake pads on the Suzuki.  The OEM pads have lasted for 40,000 km with a lot of life still left in them.  However, they've always been "adequate" at best and it is well past time to upgrade them.  On the Blackbird and Street Triple, the OEM items were replaced with EBC HH sintered pads and the improved braking was remarkable.  Why the manufacturers don't fit pads as good as these as standard is beyond me.  They are kind to brake rotor life too. 

Decent stopping power!

Not a big job to fit them to the Suzuki, although it took a chunk of the morning to replace them all, much of which was taken up with giving the calipers a thorough clean.  Jennie thinks the rear pads look like toy tortoises, bless her.  I can see what she means in the picture below!

New EBC and old OEM rear brake pads (or toy tortoises if you prefer)

A curious thing though!  EBC pads are manufactured in the USA so I looked on eBay USA to buy them on line.  However, the pads for the GSX-S 1000 are different depending on whether it's the ABS or non-ABS model.  I needed the ABS version.  It was hard to tell which was which from the eBay adverts and as a lot of the GSX's imported into the USA are non-ABS (why????), I wasn't prepared to get into a hassle if I ordered the wrong ones so bought them locally for a bit more than I'd have paid ex-USA.  The weather is crap outside today so bedding in will have to wait until later this week.

The other purchase which arrived today from Revzilla is a new motorcycling undershirt.  I've been a long term fan of Icebreaker merino layers for all activities as they are warm in winter, wick sweat off in the summer and you still have friends at the end of a ride as they don't smell!  A lot of my layers are getting old and tatty so perusing Revzilla, I saw what might be just the thing.  It's a skin layer made of Outlast fabric which apparently regulates temperature in both summer and winter.  Allegedly, it was developed by NASA for the space programme where B.O might lead to extreme violence on a long stay in space!  I'm normally the world's biggest cynic with claims like that but it's made by Rukka.  Given their excellent reputation, it's worth a try at US$70.  Looking forward to see how it performs. 

Rukka Outlast body shirt - I definitely don't look like this guy!


  1. Ahhh, the smell of new brake pads...I recently replaced set number 7 on the front of the Connie. Only on set #3 for the rear. Maybe I need a different material in mine?

    Nice to know you're doing something about ya BO too...

    1. Thanks for the heads-up about notifications not getting through Andrew! Since joining IAM and using a combination of throttle and gearbox for speed control, pads last forever.

      Oh, and I use Dove :-p

  2. Hi Geoff. A nice report as always and some good pictures too. A shame I couldn't be there for the rideout - It looks and sounds like you had a good time. I hope all's well.

    1. Thanks Lee. Your enforced absence will make your return all the more enjoyable!

  3. You should be looking like that guy, Geoff, isn't that the high tech part of the fabric?

    There is definitely a Smaug in that root (or branch?). By the way, my Roomba's name is Smaug ;-) But the voice isn't as mesmerising as Benedict Cumberbatch's...

  4. Hi Geoff,

    Nice description as usual. I’m ashamed to say I’m a fair weather biker these days, though I feel I did my fair share of freezing my fingers, and parts south, off in my youth. One winter I did several runs from Pinner to Barline in Devon to visit my then girlfriend. They were purely platonic visits – after a journey through freezing snow all that way they couldn’t be anything else.

    I love Jennie’s description of your sintered brake pads as looking like tortoises though, to me, they look like they must be related to Marvin the depressive robot as they look terribly sad about something – probably sad about being frictioned up to red heat on a fast (but legal, of course) run.

    Could I ask that, when Irene and I visit in December, you do not strut around in your new Revzilla motorcycle undergarments as Irene will not be used to New Zealand’s jungle temperatures in December and I refuse to be held responsible for her behaviour if you wear something like that – anyway if you did feel compelled to show of your unique frame in Revzilla I will be forced to retaliate with my full kilt, sporran and king Charles Jacket which I will have with me as a traditional Scottish substitute to the penguin suit required on our cruise. You have been warned!

    Cannot wait to see Coromandel and meet you and Jennie.
    Nick in Guernsey

    1. Hi Nick, seeing me in my undergarments or worse is not something I'd inflict on anyone, save for those of strong disposition. Everyone is perfectly safe 😁

  5. Looks like a great day of riding and pizza is good fuel for continuing on.

    I think those EBC are the same brake pads Troubadour uses on his Tiger too.

    1. Always good to be out doing stuff Brandy. Yep, EBC are real quality.

  6. Interesting mix of bikes there, as well, Geoff. We use the same corner marker system on the odd Ulysses ride we go on - works well - as long as the marker knows who tail end charlie is.
    It's got rather nippy and wet over here, all of a sudden - from glorious, clear 22-25C days to wet and gloomy 15C days in the blink of a week! I've been here long enough now, that anything under 20C is a bit parky! And down to 3-5C in the mornings! Eek! That certainly thins out the bike traffic to the stalwarts (and BMW riders - although the "staunch" Harley brigade also press on)
    Heated gloves - could have done with a pair of those on those winter Desert Road crossings, where, even with heated grips, my hands wouldn't thaw out until Taupo!
    Must try a set of those EBC's - time for some maintenance !

    1. Hi Jon,
      Got to agree with you. When I was as engineering school in the UK, I used to bung my gloves in the oven before making the 10 mile trip in the winter. Still arrived in a right state!

  7. An interesting post Geoff, I think the weather here in South Africa is pretty much the same as yours right now - bloody cold! We've also had really good rains lately so mustn't complain. I'm interested in that undershirt, looks like I could use something like that too, I will look out for your revue, cheers my friend, safe riding.

    1. Hi Andrew, a belated reply due to technical problems. We're just starting to see the first signs of spring but I can report that in cold conditions, the base layer works a treat! Take care mate!