Jul 26 2008



I’ve been out of the country for a couple of weeks, and I hadn’t heard from the helmet guy, so I dropped in today to see if they were in… and they were!

Last time I was there I tried on a small (the only size they had), and was surprised how comfortable it was, even if it was tight. Tried a medium and a large today, and was just about to settle for the large (which would have sucked, since they only had them in black), when the ever helpful sales guy suggested that I try the medium again.

It turned out that if you give the helmet a good shove from the back, the pressure goes from the front. Tried the medium for a while in the shop, and was really happy with the fit.

Tried some goggles, and though the one they had will fit at a pinch they don’t quite touch around my nose. Turns out that they sit just as well without the strap! I tried my old Spy goggles when I got home, and they’re a great fit. The foam touches and seals to my face, without applying any real pressure at all.

Really happy with the fit… now let’s hope it lives up to expectations in terms of wind noise and isolation.

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Jun 14 2008

Bike Shopping (or at least Tyre Kicking)


Spent the middle of today checking out bikes with a friend of mine (and prospective travelling companion). While the primary interest was in the KLR650 (which my friend had not get up close with yet), we checked out just about anything with two wheels.

What amazed me most was the price variations. We’ve found a $500 spread in advertised prices (though when I spoke to one shop assistant about his own store’s web-advertised price, he knew nothing about it. But more amazing still was the range of on-road prices, which seriously saw $1000 difference between the best and the worst. Admittedly the best was via a contact, and probably as good as I’m going to get, and others were just first offers, and I don’t think anyone was trying. Ah well, I’ll stop kicking tyres soon.

The level of attention and service was interesting, too. Neither of the Kawasaki dealerships we went to seemed to give a damn. Maybe we just looked like tyre kickers, but apart from the “can we help you”, “what’s the on-road price” exchange, they payed us little attention.

One pleasant exception was at Peter Stevens in Rinwood (yeah, the good guys get named). We were in there looking at the V-Stroms (well, everything, really), and Jamie was really helpful. He had a lot of good to say about the KLR (a bike and brand they don’t even stock), and gave us really good advice about what sort of compromises to expect on a dual-sport bike. Made me wish he stocked the Kawasakis. Another guy (who’s name I can’t recall) gave us plenty of assistance with Helmets, which was great, too.

Finally got to check out the Zeus ZS 2100 B Dual-Sport helmet. There aren’t many stockists around, and these guys unfortunately only had a small one in stock. Still, even the small was a reasonable fit, and it really was quite good. If they’re as quiet as the reviews suggest, I’m very interested. The guy at the shop said that they work with most standard goggles, though most of the time I doubt I’d need them. He’ll let me know when they get more stock in. At $250, they’re a lot cheaper than the Shoei or Arai DS helmets, but they’re really quite good.

We also checked out jackets, pants and boots. Boots are a tricky choice on such a long trip. Road-bike boots are a little too tame (or just plain wanky-looking), but dirt-bike boots might be a little too much. We saw some medium-length boots that seemed to have good shin protection and reasonable toe and ankle movement, though. Makes me wonder if the old combat boots that I wore in Tassie might be the best option.

So… most interesting bikes?

Yamaha XT660: beautiful bike, especially in black. They’d need some modification, since the twin exhausts are completed exposed, and there’s no rear rack. In order to carry luggage they’d need side and top racks added. Also, there doesn’t seem to be the same after-market modding and farkle market that there is for other DS bikes. They’re a little dear. And they’d need a decent windscreen. Oh, I should also mention the exhaust pipes run down the front of the engine and under the whole bike. What’s with that???

Benelli Tre 1130 K Amazonas: oh my giddy aunt! My friend has since found out that they’re pretty dodgey off-road, and not what you’d call a comfortable ride, but this this is impressive up close. It’s like a street racer on stilts.

Kawasaki KLR 650: Duh! OK… not exactly a revelation, but it was good to check out a few things I hadn’t noticed before; things that the photos can’ tell you. There’s enough clearance under the handlebars to mount power outlets in the horizontal part of the fairing below the instruments. I’ve heard reports that the plastic there can crack if it’s drilled, so maybe not. The side panels are rigid enough (and have enough clearance) that they won’t be pushed against the exhaust by the saddle bags. Nice to know.

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