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Across Australia and back on a ZX14

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' at netrider.net.au started by redviffer, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. Here is a small diary and pictures from my recent run from Canberra to Perth and back on my Kawasaki ZX14, other 14 owners may have already seen this before on other ZX14 sights but I thought I would share it with the rest of you anyway.

    Firstly the pics:

    1st two pic’s are just coming out of Port Augusta in South Australia, third pic is at Kimba; halfway across Australia, fourth is sunrise on the famous Nullarbor plain, fifth is looking out across the ocean on at the Great Australian Bight, 6th is just before embarking across the 90 mile straight (damn that was a boring strip but it sure was fun seeing how quickly you could pass road trains when you wound on the throttle:)). The Seventh was in Northam in WA, 8th and 9th are still in WA somewhere and the last was near Broken Hill in NSW.



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    The bags used were Givi V35 which you can get from Givi or in just about any dealer. Mine were flat black colored not gloss but are essentially the V35 side case from Givi nothing unique about them but a damn fine product, really awesome quality. The top box is a V46 Monokey top box from Givi also. The racks are the Alu rack and the contoured side racks from SW-MOTECH which I purchased from a US company online; twistedthrottle.com. The other bits on the bike included a centre stand from SW-MOTECH because it was half the price of a Kawasaki one and also riser bars from twistedthrottle because they are slightly bigger than Heli-bar risers. The saving grace for my butt was the Corbin Canyon Dual sport seat which I bought as the stock seat was terrible for long distances. The Corbin seat is very comfy but just too far back for me but still softer than the original seat.

    The Journey East to West:

    Day 1 was 1200km and I stayed at the only hotel I could find open late at night which was in the Barrossa valley. Nice place and cost me $75 but after a long ride you need a comfy bed, the 14 is no 1400GTR when it comes to comfort when doing the big kilometres I found.

    Day 2 was also about 1200km and I once again stayed in a hotel but this time in Nullarbor for $100 a night. It was pricey because it was very remote and I don't think it was a 24 hour petrol station so I was glad I got in when I did.

    Day 3 was originally intended to be something similar but I was sick of paying for motels so I did the last stretch in one hit, it was about 1600km but I really just wanted to get there by that stage.

    Fuel consumption, meals and accomodation:

    I was getting 380km to a tank and could maybe push 390km at a last resort but didn't want to try. Most times I pushed 380km to a tank I only had about 1L of fuel left in the tank when filling up, sometimes less. I did bring some basic camping gear which I didn't intend to use but it did come in handy once on the return run when I kept going until too late at night and couldn't check in anywhere (I rode to 4 in the morning!) then just pulled up to a rest spot and basically 'slept on the side of the road'.

    I'd always have a big breakfast at a servo or truckie’s stop in the morning but would scoff a pie or something quick for lunch and only really stopped for fuel, never to rest until I was calling it a night. I'd usually get a big feed for tea then look for a motel or push on for one more town or fuel stop then call it a night. My brother drives trucks and never eats dinner as he always feels sleepy after dinner so I took his advice and didn't push too hard after a big dinner.

    The gear and the wildlife:

    The luggage and bike held up fine, no problems at all. I rode through the night against everyone's advice and found wildlife wasn't a problem if it was dry and you had your high beams on. After it had rained on my return run I saw a lot of wildlife, maybe 60 kangaroo's in total every 100km stretch I traveled and 3 individual Kangaroo's nearly ended my ride on three separate occasions. Two where I was cruising, I saw them, swerved to avoid a collision but then watched in horror as they hopped straight in the direction I was turning to evade the animal. They are not smart and almost always will hop into your path as they can't hop backwards. The rule I went with was if he’s facing the road, he'll cross the road to avoid you when he’s scared. If he’s facing away from the road you should be fine but one of those near misses he turned and hopped straight in front of me even though he wasn't facing the road. The third incident it was wet, foggy and I was reduced to riding at 40km/h with my visor open as it was fogging up both inside and out. I literally couldn't see a bloody thing! The only reason I knew I nearly hit a Roo was because he showed up in my lights as he hopped across in front of me only meter’s before impact. I never saw him until that point, I was lucky I was only putting along at a snails pace. After that I found the nearest hotel and called it a night. The attendant who served me thought I was insane for trying to do what nobody would normally try, I could see his point. Kangaroo's aren't the only thing to worry about; there were also Wombats, Emus, Cattle, Camels, Foxes and just about anything else that’s normally found in the outback of Australia. They all seemed to want to make guest appearances on the Nullarbor when I was crossing it on the way back over from West to East.

    I had a very set routine by the end of it. Every morning I would get up just on sunrise and ride with my clear visor until I needed fuel. Then I'd get breakfast, shed off a few layers and change visors to a dark tinted one. Then I'd basically ride until sunset and change visors again and put on the warm weather gear. I'd ride another three hours, get fuel and dinner then go the last three hours or so then get a hotel. When I checked in I'd oil the chain, dabb down the nose of the bike to help get rid of the mountain of bugs that were accumulating daily then lock her up. If I didn't have anything to lock her to I'd put a bike cover on it to keep it out of sight and out of mind. Doing 1200km a day like that was fairly easy but not sustainable for more than about 5 days max I think.

    The Aftermath:

    The bike was great but at the end of the day it just is not comfortable for touring. I hate to say it as I love the bike but to do those kilometers again I'd prefer the 1400GTR or Concourse as you guys call it in the states I think. I went through three different screens and can't get the wind off my face (I may be just too tall 6'2") and I haven't tried a peg lowering kit yet but the pegs are just too high for me and I would get bad cramps every few hours and have to stand up on the move to get some blood flow back in my legs.

    I think if you had ridden sports bike all your life or you were short the bike would be super comfy but I just don't think the Jap’s had tall guys in mind when they designed that amazing piece of machinery.

    After that trip I was trying to decide what to do with it. Keep it, modify it some more in the hope it got better, trade up to a 1400GTR or try something different altogether. It was a very tough decision; I loved the bike and wanted to do that journey again one day but without the pain. I thought I could always just stick to the shorter runs but in the end after test riding the ST1300, the 1400GTR and my old favorite the VFR800 I decide on reacquainting myself with the VFR. Out of the two tourers I thought the Honda ST1300 had it over the 1400GTR in many ways but ultimately the change over would have been too costly for me and opted for the VFR.

    and finally a note on speeding...

    When I posted this journey on an American ZX14 website I was overwhelmed with interest as so many people saw the pictures and wanted to do the journey. They all seemed to think that I had so many opportunities to speed because of so many straight empty roads. They asked a lot of questions about speeding funnily enough but I wasn't familiar with the roads so speeding was sadly out of the question for a number of reasons:

    1. I need my license
    2. The speeds the 14 are capable of would reward you with instant loss of license and possible jail time
    3. Kangaroos can make an awfull mess of a car when hit and would be like a tactical nuke against a biker at anything over 110km/h, I’d hate to see the results up past 200km/h!
    4. You don't want to burn up your fuel to quickly when it can sometimes be 160-180km between fuel stops and lastly…
    5. I did see a guy pulled over on one of those lonely deserted strips for speeding. He got done by an oncoming unmarked car with a radar mounted to the side of it. He was 20km/h over the limit and lost 3 or 4 points and was fined about $300 as the cop brought it back to 10km/h over, lucky for him.

    That’s not to say I didn't have my fun seeing how fast I could overtake road trains. I would normally get an unusually long run up so I could be past him in the shortest possible time, I'll let you all use your imagination on that one :)

    All and all it’s a great trip and really worth doing on a bike or car. It really gives you an appreciation of just how big this country is and how diverse the landscapes and flora and fauna is. I don’t think I want to try it in the summer as I have heard the horror stories about the Nullarbor in the summer. I was lucky to have such good weather, the occasional shower but most of the time it was great and I can’t wait to do it again.

    Thanks for reading :)
     
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  2. Excellent writeup, thanks for sharing.

    I really want to get out there and do some foolishly huge amout of kms, but I'm planning on getting a bike up to the challenge a bit more than the SV. Not that the SV can't do it, in the same way that you could tour on a ct110 ;)
     
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  3. thank you for such a great read! I've done some touring ( sydney to adelaide via coast, sydney to brisvegas but only stretches of 700k's a day ). Wow is all i can say on the distances! you are truly hardcore!

    i ride a 600 cc sports tourer which is great, how did you find the VFR 800 after riding something a lot bigger? also, did you find that you missed a lot of the scenery doing that sort of daily km's?

    again, a great post. thanks
     
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  4. Hey I think you might be the guy who showed up at the Nullarbor Roadhouse the night I was there! It was the same bike and luggage, from what I recall.

    I was still in my black Rjays jacket, and I was holding a camera with a long lens. I asked you something about how you managed to avoid all the bugs...

    Have I got the right guy :?: [/quote]
     
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  5. Seeing that sign on a 14 must have tested all of your self control.
     
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  6. Nice adventure H

    cheers
    Darwin
     
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  7. +1, hilarious!
     
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  8. Great write up and great pics :)

    I'm currently planning a similar epic adventure though I don't think my days will be quite as big as yours!
     
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  9. awesome report and pics...
    love to take the VFR that far out one day...
    unfortunately my biggest trip so far is an overnighter to mudgee...lol
    how good is it travelling around on the bike...having a feed at a country town and moving on...
    good stuff
     
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  10. great work! thanks for sharing- makes me want to by a gtr1000 and do the trip myself!
     
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  11. Mel, there is an error in your sig line. :cool:

    You my girl do NOT ride like a girl, see you at the WA border.
     
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  12. When I got back on the VFR I was shocked! It felt like a 250 in comparison! I just couldn't believe I used to ride one and think they were the same size as the 14. I now know the 14 is just massive in comparison even though on paper there dimensions are very very similar. The VFR is sooo easy to throw around in comparison but just set up better. Like somebody once wrote in a VFR800 review 'Honda seem to be able to make one bike size that fits everybody, i don't know how they do it but its a neat trick'. I couldn't agree more with this, the VFR is pretty damn near perfect in that regard.

    To answer your second question yes I certainly did miss a lot of scenery doing those kilometres. I'd like to take it a bit slower but at the time I wanted the most time off at the other end so I pushed it but yes one day much slower on the VFR will be really good to do.
     
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  13. [/quote]

    Hahahaha UNBELIEVABLE!!! It truly is a small world, yes that was me indeed! You were holding a Canon SLR with a 70-200mm F2.8L fixed to it if my eyes served me well. I specifically remember that because I told my mate about how I found this mad bast!#d out there who had a 250 Hyosung and was going to cross the nullarbor on it to which I said 'jesus your braver than me'. You said 'I hope it doesn't crap out on me or I'll be in trouble' :)

    I thought that was pretty damn funny at the time. Yes mate it sure was me, you asked me how I avoided all the bugs, my secret is now out from the writeup, i'd dabb down the nose with a wet sponge at the end of each night so I didn't get bug blood eating through the paintwork. She was almost a brand new bike by that stage so I was very protective of her.

    Sorry all just reminiscing, hope this didn't turn into too much of a sob story LOL
     
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  14. Hahaha no kidding! I popped onto netrider as soon as I reached Perth to see if I could find any mention of you.. nothing showed up then, but as I was flipping through the threads a couple of weeks later I stumbled upon this one, and I thought "dang that bike looks familiar".

    Glad we both made it alive, hehe! The Hyo ALMOST did crap out on me, and thank goodness it wasn't in the Nullabor! It did make it all the way without too much delay in the end! My helmet still stinks of dead bugs though...
     
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  15. Thanks for the write up. That trip is on the To Do list.

    When you are ready, definately recommend the ST1300. The upright position is way more comfy than the sports bike.

    Thanks again

    WGM
     
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  16. Thanks… a great read..

    Some of it was perfect for what not to do on long distance riding especially in regards to dodging animals at night… you were very lucky not to have come off with some serious injury..

    and OMG… 1600 clicks in one day? Even if you were in a Lazy Boy you’d have gotten a sore ass.. lol ….

    I didn’t find those long straights boring at all … the landscape changed all of the time and there was always someone to talk to at the Road Houses… between Norseman and the Nullarbor roadhouse I sat on around.. errr.. 130 clicks… during the day the only wildlife you saw were Crows, Wedge Tailed Eagles and the road kill that they were feeding on… :)
     
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  17. So, if you hadn't stopped to take photos, it would have taken the ZX14 about half an hour to go each way, right? :LOL:


    Edit: Finished reading. Nicely done! I'll have to take the Tiger for a stroll over to Perth some day; some friends have been trying to coax me over there for a while now!
     
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  19. I know the guy who runs FarRiders, crazy guy rides 1000k days just for lunch :cool:
     
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