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With the domination of the 250cc learner market, Kawasaki have now responded to the cry for more power whilst still keeping a learner friendly bike. The new Kawasaki Ninja 300 boasts a slightly larger increase in both Torque and Horsepower sitting at 27.0 N.m {2.8 kgf.m} / 10,000 rpm and 29.0 kW {39 PS} / 11,000 rpm.

The new Ninja’s slipper clutch will make for a nice edition to the small bike market, having been based off race activities and race slipper clutches, Kawasaki have integrated the technology into their smaller bikes to add to the whole experience and to make for a much smoother ride.

There is also the addition of ABS, designed and produced by Nissin, a leading brake design and production company, specifically for the Ninja 300. This new ABS system is a whopping 60% smaller than older Nissin ABS systems which keeps the whole system nice and compact. 

Petal disc brakes are also included on the new Ninja 300 to offer greater stopping power and excellent heat dissipation.

Kawasaki have included a lot of technology from their leading bikes, the ZX-10R and the ZX-6R such as Dual Throttle Valves which give a much better throttle response overall as well as better performance. A sleeveless aluminium die-cast cylinder weighing 600g less than the previous cylinder as well as featuring plated bores which came from both the ZX-10R and ZX-6R. 

With the introduction to the LAMS law in New Zealand, coming into effect on the 1st of October. The release of this bike should receive a welcome reception amongst the newer and learner riders, looking to either step up from a smaller bike or as a first bike.

With more companies starting to produce more “Learner friendly” bikes, such as the new Ducati Monster and Suzuki’s SV650SU, we are starting to see the implementation of more safety conscious technology and more thought put into the design process and superior parts being used to ensure that you not only have a safe ride, but a stylish and fun ride.

 All in all, the new Ninja looks promising as an all around commuter style bike with the welcome addition of extra power to help to achieve that get up and go which is needed in our everyday riding environment.

Matt Wishart

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From a young age we are told that speeding is a big no-no, there are signs that hang high above the road telling us that speeding kills and the penalties for speeding can be generally quite ruthless. But is speeding the real problem or are we barking up the wrong tree? 

With the introduction of a 4km/h tolerance for speeding brought in for all public holidays throughout New Zealand, it has now sparked me to write a small piece on if we are focussing our efforts on the wrong campaign.

Now, in general, speeding can be dangerous and it can very quickly go wrong considering the speed difference of everyone around you. But, when we start to focus on fines for a mere 4km/h over the limit, are we getting a little pedantic or do you think it would actually make a difference in the road toll?

New Zealand Police have been praised with the lowest death tolls’ for the current year in history, funnily enough it is also when they rolled out the new tolerance and have now been laying praise on the tolerance instead of other factors such as higher driver awareness (from having police out left, right and center.) A lower rate of road users travelling on the road and also weather conditions for the recent public holidays which has been shocking for the whole summer, so drivers would be driving to the conditions instead of being in La-La land for most of the journey. 

One point I must make is that all drivers should be concentrating on the road and the changing conditions first and foremost, cars around them and other possibility’s such as small children, pets or objects.

But every public holiday it seems that all we are doing is spending more time looking at our speedometers than concentrating on anything else around us, simply because those who the government send out to gather revenue will gladly pull us over and fine us with a large smile on their faces and a pat on the back congratulating themselves for one less person who was going to die a horrible fiery death from being a few Km/s over the limit. Yes, the impending death that we are all going to face because we were focussing on our riding/driving more has now passed and we are $80 out of pocket.

In a country like Germany where you have the Autobahn and an unlimited speed limit there are a surprising lack of crashes. But hang on a second, increased speed means we are going to die? Why isn’t everyone there dead or severely injured?

It is because the one thing that speeding does do is bring upon a large increase in self awareness and an awareness of what is going on around you. At those speeds, you cannot just drive on auto-pilot like the majority of drivers do in our country. When you are tootling along at 50 – 100km/h many drivers simply decide to turn off and go with the flow, it isn’t a speed that really makes you sit up and take notice of your surroundings.

But when you are travelling at 120,130,140 or 240km/h your life depends on you making the right decisions at every moment. Hence why people travelling along at 100km/h down a one way motorway can then go on to have a 6 car pile up. (Honestly, how on Earth does that happen?) Apart from not following road rules where it states that you must keep enough space between you so as to safely stop with out hitting anybody, they are just not paying any attention to what is around them. Speeding, 167

Now in response to the high death toll, the powers that be decide to keep on lowering the speed limit on each road as they see fit, and I can imagine it will continually decrease until we are moving at walking pace and still getting fined.

So is speeding really the problem? I believe that it is but not at the approach that we tend to look at it. When you have drivers going 160km/h and the rest are going 100km/h there is a large room for error there and that is where the crashes are happening, but when you start to pull drivers over for 4km/h over the limit and then pat yourself on the back saying you did a good job, it just comes off as pathetic and a huge waste of taxpayer money on funding the time and media for such a pathetic and worthless cause.

We do need to focus on speeding, put at the people who are doing it dangerously, such as through public areas populated by children and other road users. Through back roads where there is not another soul around for miles (Apart from police) it shouldn’t be as policed and maybe a larger tolerance applied?

 

 

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The Coromandel Loop is one of New Zealand’s most well known riding routes, From 25km/h corner uphill and downhill descents to peaceful long sweeping corners this road has it all. The scenery is something to behold as large trees and cliffs creep over the road and hang there watching you ride.

As well as being one of the most favourite roads, it is also one with a very large casualty rate which is rather unfortunate as the police patrol the loop rather well though on our trip we only saw a couple of police cars which was nice.

Because I have lost my license for 3 months, I was on the back of a friends bike, the bike was a streetfighter GSXR1000 K7. It was lucky that I trusted him completely because it is a fast bike and on those corners you really need to know how to ride so that you don’t lock up and fixate on a bank or cliff and ride into it. We also had a large pack rack on the back so the front end was really light, which made for interesting times as we passed cars or going up the hill to the lookout as any time it was given some gas, the front end would lift up and make for a very unstable bike.

He was rather disappointed that throughout the whole ride he never managed to make my heartbeat rise and I was some how calm the whole ride, even though we nearly hit a dog, mattress and a large caravan that came around a corner.

The road is in surprisingly good condition  for a New Zealand road and there was minimal gravel on the road either which made for a nice trip. We had a friend on a VTR1000 who for most of the ride was following us and for the rest of it led us through.

It was a beautiful day for the most part but half way around it started to really rain down on us, which was funny to watch as our friend had his back wheel step out at one point which would give you a bit of a clenching moment. We also had intercoms so that the rider and I could chat away about the road and anything else that kept us amused, whilst the rain was coming down it was so hard on our helmets that we could hear the rain in each others visor through the speakers which was a little odd.

The Coro is an amazing road, there are a lot of tight, tight corners through there and they never seem to end, and being on the back of a monster of a bike, made things a lot more fun than sitting on a little 250cc trying to keep momentum going up the hill.

After the uphill slalom we reached the lookout and sped past as the spectators that had come to take pictures from the top heard our bikes roaring up the hill turned around and started taking photos of us. 

The downhill slalom was even more interesting and amazing, tight 25km/h  corners at some speed far above that with nothing to hold on to at the back, I had some how managed to use my calf muscles to hold my in place but after awhile they began to hurt something chronic and so did my backside after sitting on a small seat for however many hours I was on it for. We stopped for a quick smoko and to stretch our legs and soggy leathers and then made our way to Thames to stay the night before the Paeroa Battle of the Streets races where we were marshalling.

The views were breathtaking and I wanted to do it again and again it was that much fun! If you have ever ridden this road please leave a comment below on how you found it and if you have never ridden this road, do it, you will not regret it.

Matt

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Intro:

The Paeroa (Pronounced – Pie – Row – A) Battle of the Streets has been running for 21 years today, top racers from New Zealand battle it out head to head on the peaceful streets of a small, NZ famous town in the North Island. Many classes compete in this event, such as Formula 1,2 and 3, sidecars, post and pre classic, king of the streets, supermoto and Formula Paeroa. The street is cordoned off and hay bales deck the side of the road, and spectators line the fences, inches away from 260+ km/h bikes flying past. Around 10,000+ spectators come to view this event every year and the numbers are growing.

Sunday Morning – 7.00am

It is early in the morning and fog is sitting low along the hills and fields that line Paeroa, the street is set up for the days racing and there is a hive of activity buzzing around to finalize everything so that we can get going. I am marshalling for the event so myself and friends go to have our briefing, get our gear and set up on the corners. We get the best seats in the house and really get to be part of the action when bikes go sliding past in a shower of sparks and riders tumble into bales alongside the track. At 8am practice rounds start and the sound of bikes roaring past fills your ears and you can’t help but to feel excited for what the day will bring.

Bikes of all sorts fly past and the whine of each engine is music to your ears. The real crowd pleaser’s are the supermoto class, going over the bump on the back straight, both wheels lift of the ground and they land with a wobble and get ready for the hairpin, where they wait till they are pretty much in the corner, kick down 4 gears and drift the back out with their right foot hanging centimetres of the ground. After the practice and qualifying runs, the racing begins which is usually around 11.25am.

Bikes enter the hairpin at reasonably high speeds and sometimes struggle to keep the rear from stepping out, side by side the ride around corners, looking for any way that they can get past the person in front. It really is something spectacular to watch and I would recommend it to anybody, and you will not leave with out a smile. The only bike down on our corner was one from the Supermotard class, he came over the bump on the main straight, and his bike then began to start what is known as a tank-slapper where the front tyre moves rapidly from side to side and the only way out of it is to give it some throttle and try to raise the front end.

Unfortunately, this rider failed to do that and came off, sliding down the road into the bales with the bike soon to follow, after the bikes move past we run over to him and check that he is alright, help him up and move his bike out of the war-path. Ambulance and bike recovery teams come to the rider and take him away as he has a grazed wrist and a sore ankle. The hairpin took the largest amount of bikers, with a total of around 6 or 7 from what other marshals tell me, so they were kept rather busy. Funnily enough, most of them were apparently the motard riders which for some reason does not surprise me.

Sunday Afternoon 12.00pm – 5.00pm The sun is shining down onto our overall covered bodies and the heat is really starting to kick in now, I can but imagine how the racers would feel! Racing continues on without many hick-up’s and I get some good video of the riders battling past.

One rather special nutter decided that his need to cross the track was more important than the fact that F1 bikes were tearing down the back straight, mere seconds away, so he sprinted across the track with a battery in his hand for one of the track bikes down in the pits and was not far from being collected, which added a little more excitement to our day!

The racing ended with one more crash, which was a girl who was swinging on one of the sidecars, sliding off into the bales at high speed and badly damaging her arm, which is a shame as she was supposed to be racing in Phillip Island in a few weeks and now I very much doubt that she will be able to compete.

Aussie rider Dan Stauffer was crowned King of the Streets, after dominating 3 races over the day and winning the Battle of the Street race and also Formula Paeroa, races one and two. Dan has been pulling in wins all across the country and has that Aussie’s aren’t as slow as we think they are. After racing, we pack up, get changed into our bike gear and sweat it out on the bike till we get to a coffee shop and sit down for a few minutes regaining our strength. It was a great weekend in all, and I would happily do that again, with the hope of one day competing in it.

Matt

Photo’s taken from http://www.Battleofthestreets.co.nz

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As I sit here typing this, I am enjoying a cold beer in the afternoon sun, my skin is tanned and will most likely peel and my body is oh so weary. Race bike is chained up to the post and sits there looking like it too, had enjoyed itself.

Earlier…

My alarm clock starts to buzz like a constipated cat on acid, I kick it off the bed and wake up, pull all of my gear together and triple check that I have everything that I need for the day, my friend turns up with our bikes on the trailer and then we are off. Quick pie and coffee stop at the petrol station whilst we stock up on my favorite liquid in the world, petrol. Off to the track we go, people have beaten us there which is unusual as we are usually the first to arrive.

We promptly put up the tents, set up chairs and unload the bikes off the trailer, sign in and go for scrutineering where I need to fix a bolt into my speedo and tape up my camera ( Videos to follow once I have uploaded them to YouTube.) Quick track walk and briefing and all systems are go. Group 4 (Racers) go out first and all you can hear is the whine of the inline fours screaming down the longest back straight in the southern hemisphere. Us down in group 2 patiently wait our turn and soon enough it is, gear goes on and bikes are started, low rumbles fill the air around me as I don my helmet. My bike feels familiar yet also a stranger at the same time underneath my hands, engine pulsing away beneath me. I move off the stand and make my way into the dummy grid where we wait till we can go out onto that sexy tarmac.

We are given the go and we take off in unison, groups of threes and fours moving quickly on the track, warm up lap has begun and the excitement really starts to kick in now! Corners come and go, and bikes slowly fall behind me as the pace picks up. It’s not a race but you can’t help feeling competitive when you are here.

A few sessions in and we are unleashing our wrath upon the track, some are fast and some are slow, but that didn’t stop me from cranking it over into each corner, pulling that throttle back and passing bikes on the outside. The sun beats down on you, but all you are focussed on is the relationship between the rider and his bike. Applying the correct amount of throttle for the corner. making sure you are in the right position, weighting the inside peg as your tire pushes further into the ground, melting the rubber as you push harder than before.

My favorite part is when you get a rider that is closely matched to you, then you can have a bit of fun. Trying to find a good opportunity to pass can be rather limited at times, but when you get it, you feel like the king and then either they or somebody else flies past you and you feel like a dick.

Each corner you are trying to match, no not match  but be better than, the other person whom of which is siting right in front of you. Sometimes you scare yourself by pulling off crazy passing maneuvers and taking much different lines through a corner as you are used to and at higher speeds.

These advanced rider training days are great, you get a bunch of experienced tutors in each group, following you and telling you what you can improve on, you get lunch provided and a great bunch of people to piss around with. But what I really love about the track is that you can absolutely fang it with out checking your mirrors for cops and other hazards such as car drivers etc…

I have now managed to move up to group 3 which is 2nd fastest, in a reasonably short space of time. I am rather happy with myself at the moment as all along that is the group that I aimed to be in, the fast group. So next track day in April I look forward to stepping up the pace and learning a lot more so that I can improve my riding and finally get into racing.

Thanks for reading guys and I will post the videos up when I have edited them a little bit.

Matt

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