24 February, 2009

The Burgie keeps on touring

Since returning to Australia both the Burgie and I have continued to get away regularly for rides to distant locales, along with the daily commute to work.

The first major ride was from the 28-30 November last year. As an ex GSX1400 owner I am still a member of the local club and had the opportunity to visit Bathurst for the first of what will hopefully become an annual MCR (Magic Carpet RIde). Bathurst is the home of the Bathurst 1000, Australia's most famous car race at Mt Panorama - a 1,000km (625 mile) all day race for V8 touring cars, and sometimes even the odd kangaroo or two on race day . The Mt Panorama circuit goes up, down and across the mountain - the photo below was taken where the descent begins at a section of the track called the dipper.

Down the Dipper.

Given that the Burgie is so much easier to throw around tight corners than the 1400 (even though it lacks a lot in speed ) I took great pleasure in hunting down many of the thirty or so 1400s and overtaking them on the outside of corners etc.. My centrestand took quite a beating! Yes, even after the beating she took in Russia, and given that I am still running the standard suspension (and haven't even changed the fork oil), the old Burgermeister acquitted herself quite well on the day.

The ride back was most enjoyable, riding along mainly backroads from Bathurst down to Wagga Wagga, excepting for the insects. There was locust plague as the road ran alongside wheat fields and at one I was head down behind the windscreen to avoid wearing them in my teeth.

Interestingly enough, en route to Bathurst I went through Albury on the Thursday evening and was generously invited to stay over at the house of Dave The Canoe Guy from Horizons Unlimited (HUBB) . As a result of that meeting I will be presenting snippets of this blog and my travels at the HUBB general meeting in Mitta on the 15-17 March

The second ride is called Mountain Madness and is one I have done regularly for the last 7 or 8 years in the 1st week of January.

There were 13 bikes in total this year (the vast majority R1200GSes) but the quickest rider rides a VMax, of all things. All of us do regular track days and this time around a fair few of us (7) brought our partners along as pillions. This was also the first time my wife, Kimie, has taken advantage of the opportunity to come along.

Three quarters of an hour after leaving home we're into the first of the twisties, the VMax sets the pace and and I'm scraping beautifully through some nice 100kmh curves (known as the Black Spur and advisory signposted at 40kmh) wondering why Kimie (my wife) isn't beating on my back and asking to divorce me. Surprising enough she really enjoyed it and was not in the least bit perturbed that I had the Burgie at the limits of its adhesion.

As a matter of fact, later that morning Kimie was obviously feeling so relaxed that she fell asleep on the back for around half an hour, I'm glad the Givi topbox does such a good job of holding her up :-)

Over the days, the roads became increasingly bumpier and tighter and on one day we were powering through some back roads bottoming out the suspension, grinding both sides of the centre stand, scraping the side stand on the left and even boiling the brake fluid (yep, I lost the front brakes for about 2 minutes) on a quick down hill run. Kimie is now the ideal pillion passenger and she loves the Burgie by comparison to all the other bikes I have had her on over the years. The only complaint she had was that the seat made the inside of her thighs sore on day one, because it splays them so much wider than most bike seats.

We had a great week away and I can honestly say that my 6 year old, well worn, Burgie more than holds its own against newer, more powerful and better handling bikes (much to the chagrin of other riders who had paid 5 times as much as me for their motorcycling weapon of choice). I put this down to a number of factors:

1. The very low centre of gravity of the Burgie (due to the lay down cylinders and underseat tank) and the rake/trail of the front forks, which makes it so easy to throw the Burgie from one side to the other in tight left/right curves.
2. The "hand lever" operated rear brake which allows far more sensitivity than foot pedal. Using the rear brake in tight situations allows the bike to change direction even quicker.
3. The CVT means that you can forget about having to be in the right gear and instead focus exclusively on the corner itself.

Now all I have to do is solve the ground clearance issue - anyone interested in buying a "slightly used" centre stand?

Our third ride will be to Tasmania this coming weekend. Kimie and I will be taking the Burgman on the Spirit of Tasmania for the 9 hour voyage to Devonport. Once we hit the island we have 8 days to enjoy the roads, the scenery, the walking trails and history. I will be putting up a separate blog entry on this journey.

Two further rides are planned for the coming month and a half. The first I have mentioned already, the HUBB ride to Mitta Mitta on the weekend after we return from Tasmania, and where I am planning on some further offroading on the Burgie. The second is still taking shape but will involve a ride up to the Flinders Ranges over the Easter break.