Monday, May 7, 2018

Riding out with the RAM

You just never know what you're going to see outside Manawatu Motorcycles on a Sunday morning.

Last Sunday we were treated to the look and sound of a 70's icon; PC's wonderfully original example of Suzuki's unique GT550.

The 70's produced some very interesting bikes and the big four Japanese companies each had their own look and style. Something that seems to be almost lost today. Suzuki produced a range of three cylinder 2-strokes in 380cc, 550cc, and 750cc. All three were designed as touring mounts, and the smaller bikes were air cooled with distinctive RAM AIR cylinder heads. All of the bikes featured 3-into-4 pipes giving a symmetrical look from the rear and a visual point of difference to the Kawasaki triples of the same area. The 550 and 750 also featured electric start.

Also along for the outing were Bruce S on the R1, Janet on her ER-6, Ian on his V-twin Suzuki, and I was back on the Aprilia Pegaso (after several years in someone else ownership).

We headed up to Hunterville via Halcome, Marton, and Fordell. We dodged the odd shower of rain, but traveled on damp and sometimes muddy roads.

We stopped for coffee and a snack in Hunterville (in Ian's case a meal that would have choked a donkey!), before heading back over Vinegar Hill.

It was most enjoyable seeing and hearing Paul's GT out on the highway. Time to get a certain Kawasaki triple back on the road.

The GT550 did show one common 70's 2-stroke trait - a love of hydrocarbons!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

VJMC 2018 National Rally

A few of us headed out Friday afternoon from Palmerston North to meet a few in Sanson and continue on up to Eltham. Below are photos of some of the bikes on rally lined up Saturday morning for voting. I missed a few bikes, but got most of them.

On the Saturday we headed out to Tawhiti Museum, Hawera. Quite impressive wax models from life size to small scale models, trains, tractors, army vehicles, etc. It is definitely worth two or three hours looking around when up that way. Their website is 

Here's a video of the bikes in carpark. I didn't take any photos of inside the Museum sorry. Too busy looking at everything :-)

Sunday morning we all packed up, said our farewells and headed off. A few of us decided to head up closer to New Plymouth first to see the Holden Museum. No photos allowed to be taken there but was given special permission from owner to take a few photos of Alan's old Kawasaki he sold and is now on display there. Their website is and also worth a good look. 

On behalf of our group a really big Thank You to Judy, Angela, and Ross for all of their hard work organising the rally. Next year's rally sounds like it will be held in the South Island with all those great roads designed for motorbikes :-)

And remember: Life's better when you're riding!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Reminiscing: March End of Month Ride

Vivs Kitchen in Sanson has become a favoured destination for the crew over the last few months. They have just done a refurbishment inside that has it looking more in theme for the fifties, sixties and probably seventies. The food definitely follows the theme as well and it looks as though many others are enjoying this bit of of nostalgia as the car park has always had plenty of vehicles in it when we visit. When one goes inside and scans for a place to sit, the clientele are definitely of a certain demographic that looks somewhat like the Blue Haze, so we are certainly lucky to have such a fitting destination available. It was an easy choice for us to make for our March EoMR
The gathering at Manawatu Motorcycles saw between four and five on the run. Dion proved to be a 'flexible' participant in the ride, depending on his temperament and his bikes. His original intention was to see us off and then go home and paint a picket fence! That plan lasted for all of five seconds as we followed him home in his car to pick up his bike. After pinching some lawnmower petrol he got his RS 250 Aprilia moving only to be stumped by the Rangitikei St rail overbridge. (all of 500m from home!). We left him pushing his bike back home and the rest of us carried on our way. Out front was Ian on his VX800, with Rich on the 50K still on standard pistons T500M, Kim on his NC21 and yours truly on the XJ750. Thank goodness Kim and especially Rich were with us to provide our signature departure of 'haze' from the town boundary as we took the long way to Vivs Kitchen.
 We followed our usual route out through Bunnythorpe, Colyton and skirted the Feilding town boundary. Makino road took us out towards the Rangitikei river, Stanway and the turnoff at Kakariki. From there it was a short ride through a lovely mixture of a few twisties and some open stretches that had us arriving at Ohakeha in no time at all. Vivs Kitchen was then a short run down the road. By this stage Dion had arrived after sorting out his RS and giving it a good blast!
After a good feed and soaking up of some nostalgia we visited one more place in Sanson. The second hand bookstore. A very dangerous place that saw my backpack choker with motorcycle magazines and the shopkeeper smiling through Kims comments on the 'special' book selection behind the counter! It was a great morning out and about on our classic bikes and having some classic food. To top it off we went to a place that is also gaining classic status; a book shop! I have certainly been enjoying my magazines with a bit of reminiscing and looking forward to some time in the garage and our next ride.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Backwards and Forwards.

Backwards seems to be a bit of theme these days. In fact the theme could be backwards to move forwards. Last weekend Dion invited us to come around for a bit of a shed raid to see his latest purchase, a Yamaha TZR 3MA. For those of you who think these bikes are titled around radio station names that all sound the same, the 3MA is very special. It's a backwards motorcycle. Its carbs are in the front and its exhaust pipes are at the back. More on this later but our next order of business was to decide on our route to get to Dions place. The direct route would take three minutes and this was quickly rejected for a more scenic route via Hunterville. It became apparent very quickly we were not going to go our 'usual way' via Vinegar Hill and down to Hunterville, but in reverse. Again. We were going to go 'backwards'! The backwards was becoming the new forward. Such changes can be very unsettling for some who find safety in routine and the familiar.
Our departure to the northwest of the city had us making our way to Mount Stewart and the turnoff to Halcombe. These are more interesting roads to take than the state highways but with Halcombe behind us we had brief stop at the truck stop for a bike swap. Bruce A had an initial brief run on Sir Als Bighorn before stalling it. Watching him start it (not!) makes one appreciate the invention of decompressors and electric starts! Sir Als return and 'Lumberjack' leg muscles soon had it rumbling again. We soon made our way across the Rangitikei river to meet State Highway One. Thankfully this was brief as we took to the backroads on the western side of the main highway and meandered our way northwards towards Hunterville. They are a nice mix of open and windy roads that do require some attention as the road maintenance is a little lacking in places as Dion and Ian found out as they rubbed off the last of there chicken strips! All to soon we arrived in Hunterville from the western entrance and found our way to our favourite cafe.
Once again we were able to watch a parade of motorcycles go past as the pies, coffee and corn fritters disappeared. There are definitely more on the road these days. All to soon we decided to join them on the road and continue northwards to our turnoff at Vinegar Hill.  Someone then suggested we head out of town via the western road and retrace our steps back to town. How radical was this! We weren't doing a loop! The thinking being that it was like a new but familiar road. It was a lot of fun and by now the day had warmed up and we were travelling through some lovely Rangitikei countryside as we followed the river south with brief moments on the SH1. The turnoff to Halcombe had us heading eastwards towards Palmy and our shed raid. Bruce S on his thundering yellow Ducati peeled off and headed home to Levin with the rest of us parking up outside Dions place in no time at all. It was great seeing Dion out on his NS400R and both he and the bike enjoyed the run. You can't let these two strokes sit in garage not being used for to long. Eh Dion!
Dion was very excited about his latest purchase and seeing it 'undressed' certainly made you appreciate how unusual they are. Because the underside of the seat is crowded with exhaust pipes, the toolkit sits under the motor!  Despite the 3MAs fragile reputation Dion had always wanted one so we are looking forward to seeing how this new relationship develops. Will it be a keeper? The other interesting aspect to Dions garage is that it was designed for Dion. Some of the taller members of the group were certainly having issues with stool legs and motorcycle paraphernalia sconing them at times.No harm done, but it's always interesting to see how garages reflect there owners
Leaving Dions place had us reflecting on our ride with Ian happy his CL350 completed the run on a tank, as did Rich on the mighty T500 and Sir Al on the Big Horn. Bruce A is looking forward to having his RT360 back on the road as am I with the T500. The XJ is a wonderful, easy bike to ride, but making the same journey on the T will make it a very different sort of ride. Its older technology requires a different sort of attention to your bike and surroundings where a relatively unhurried pace still delivers a quintessential motorcycling experience. Maybe there is something to this backwards and forwards!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Wild Ones?

The Manawatu Classic Motorcycle Club decided on having their monthly meeting at the Apiti Tavern last weekend. The day dawned fine with a warm autumnal temperature setting the scene for a very pleasant ride alongside the Ruahine Ranges. After meeting at Memorial Park the usual route to Apiti was followed up Pohangina Valley with a quick stop at the Totara Reserve turnoff. Sir Al and the mighty Bighorn led the way onto the Apiti Tavern. It was quite a mixture of modern and classic bikes following in his path as we wound our way towards the tavern with a quick stop at the Makoura turnoff to rebunch the lengthening line of bikes. The arrival of this number of bikes into the sleepy settlement of Apiti must have looked like a scene from the The Wild One. With Sir Al as Johnny Strabler (Marlon Brando) on his Kawasaki Bighorn and the rest of us his 'gang'. Although this number of bikes arriving enmasse, the noise and look of us was probably not convincing enough for the locals to call in the community constable from Feilding. (Especially after we took our helmets off!)  As for those of us who were 'patched' in our Manawatu Classic Motor Cycle tee shirts we obviously didn't present ourselves in ominous manner either as the local custodian welcomed us into his tavern! A lack of 'ominosity' was further reinforced when the local tavern rat showed no fear of us and wandered past us on its way for lunch in the kitchen. (After seeing this many of us were hesitant about ordering chicken for lunch!)
With the arrival of the overnighters who stayed at Phils farm house up the Kawhatau Valley it filled up both sides of 'main street' Apiti certainly and looked impressive. However, this still failed to rouse the locals fear factor. In fact the locals were so 'terrified' of us one of them invited us into his shed to have a look at his wonderful collection of heritage vehicles! After enjoying the hospitality of the Apiti Tavern we wandered through town to Georges wonderful shed and enjoyed him sharing his collection of vehicles. On the motorcycle front he had what looked like a Kawasaki VN750 and next to it an unmistakable Honda GL1200. Many of the lads were taken with his racing Anglia and MG that was next to an interesting Rover V8 powered sports car. Apparently a racing Hillman Imp was also spotted on a trailer in the shed.
At the conclusion of our time we wandered back to our bikes in dribs and drabs. Our departure certainly didn't attract the same attention as our arrival and we left well watered, fed and happy with having had a great time sharing our interest and passion for heritage vehicles. The ride down to Kimbolton had us enjoying a few more twisty sections of road and then onto more open roads taking us back to town. It was a great day out and always a little more special when larger numbers are involved. It certainly bodes well for the continued success of the club.