Friday, 25 November 2016

Riding Solo: MT-09 meets the GOR

I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t yet introduced the MT-09 to the Great Ocean Road (GOR) – one of Victoria's - and indeed Australia’s - must ride roads.

Although it has been raining for 3 days straight and the weather today is less than ideal I am stubborn and determined enough to get the Gimp suit on and get this long overdue introduction done.

Kissing the wife goodbye and giving the little one a smile I hit the black stuff at 6:50 am – there’s a lot of road to cover.

The first 1.5 hour slab to Torquay is completed without incident – stopping for fuel I gunnel the tank and check the radar. High wind – but no rain – I wonder if this will in fact equate to ‘Dry’…….hmmm.

Before one can begin the GOR ‘proper’ the gratuitous Split Point lighthouse stop is required – this is our Mecca and the icons must be acknowledge. Pfffft……..nah.

That said, this lighthouse is a bit of a silver screen star and was the setting of the ever popular ‘Round the Twist’ children's series – a TV show which is a right of passage for my generation of Aussie-Kid.

Right then. Stop faffing about - it's clobbering time. 
Aireys Inlet to Lorne defines the warm-up section of the GOR - with spectacular views left and forward vision filled with a black snake tracing the coastline, the appetite is tending to Braaarp. 
We've had our wettest recorded Spring in Victoria for the last 30 years - oh joy - as such, the GOR has copped a beating. Landslides had closed large sections between Lorne and Apollo Bay, sections now open albeit under repair. 

It must be said, the road surface is shocking. It is pock-marked, pitted and rutted - there are gravel washouts and divots, large stone chips and, oh yeah - single lane road works. Settling into any form of rhythm is farken impossible, and with frustration breeding petulance, things are getting sketchy. 

So we climb a little further out, and head towards the Otways. Maybe we'll have more luck?

The road travelled

And the road ahead

Backtracking slightly I point the 'Niner to some inland delights via Skenes Creek on a coast to farm transition. The low lying Rain Forest road has also seen some heavy rain and is dicey at best - nothing else for it, climb higher and head out to the open plains. 

This looks like a nice spot for lunch

I complete my MT-09 to GOR introduction ride back to Melbourne town, as much as possible, on the roads less travelled. Glad the 'Niner has met the GOR - but I've got a feeling the appetite for Braarp has not been contented. 

Rolling up my driveway at 3pm, I've just spent 8 hours on the bike and completed ~630kms. 
My Girls are having a late lunch and are all smiles. Nothing, else, required. 

GOR, this is the 'Niner, be a better Mecca next time - OK?

Friday, 14 October 2016

Puncture Repair: Nailed it......


There has been a lot of construction along parts of my commute. Melbourne is a very progressive City - as such it is hard to find a Suburban or Metro street which has not succumbed to some form of development.

Great for Melbourne, not so great for a Moto Commuter.

In the past 2 months I've managed to pickup 2 items which would cause a puncture. Luckily the first item was a small staple which was not long enough to penetrate the Tyre carcass and was safely pulled without any ill-affects. I was not so lucky this time.

Time to bust out the 'ol GRYYP repair kit and get to work removing my cheeky little hitchhiker.

Step 1
Pull the item using the needle nose pliers - if you're doing this road side and want to minimise pressure loss, have the rasp tool ready to stop escaping air.

Clearly this nail was long enough to pierce the carcass.......damn. 

Step 2
Use the rasp tool to clean out the puncture site. You are intentionally trying to make the hole larger and, depending on the area of the Tyre, are likely going to need to push through the reinforcing belts/material. 

This can be quite strenuous but don't rush - you need to make sure the hole is clear and ready to receive the plug. 

Step 3
Prepare a wax-cord 'plug' on the insertion tool and drive the plug 2/3 of the length into the Tyre. This is going to require significant force, be determined. 

The idea is that you want the cord loop to drop inside the Tyre and create an internal plug too large to work its way back through the original hole, similar to how a dynabolt works. 

Step 4
In one swift movement - pull the insertion tool out of the Tyre. You should have the cord remain in place as a plug. 

Use the craft knife to trim some of the excess and leave ~3mm of cord exposed - with riding this will be forced into a kind of 'surface' patch. 

Step 5 
Add air, test pressure.

Step  6
Ride, retest pressure when warm - it should have increased and, if done correctly, should hold steady. 

It should be noted that this type of plug is technically only to be used to repair a Tyre to get you out of trouble. The manufacturers state that, for a 'proper' repair, the Tyre must be stripped from the rim and plugged internally with a mushroom plug or similar. 

I'm only about 500kms from my next scheduled service so will take care of that then. 

\BitSar long, you cheeky little hitchhiker. 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Evotech Performance: radiator guard

The radiator is a vulnerable component on any motorcycle. Exacerbated by the fact they are almost always located directly behind the front wheel, providing an uninterrupted view to debris. Hmmmm.

A holed radiator will really ruin your day. 
Coolant can be extremely slippery and can take you down before you've realised you have a temperature spike, not to mention the issues with running a bike with a dry cooling system. 

Time to mitigate this risk with a radiator guard. 

Be aware, a radiator guard is not a panacea - it will deflect small rocks and various road detritus, along with bugs - but anything significantly large or determined will get through and cause damage.  

Right then. Introducing the Evotech Performance radiator guard
The company provides a set of 'instructions' via the online PDF (a printed copy is not included) 

For the most part, the instructions are OK - although they do gloss over a fair bit of detail. 

Time for an install post. 

All the required pieces are included, the aluminium brackets are of high quality, as is the hardware and fixings. I appreciate the steel inserts in place of aluminium threads on the guard grill, it shows thought and intent has gone into the design. Gold Star @Evotech. 

First thing to note is that the guard grill is not square. This is not a manufacturing flaw, this is deliberate. 

The grill is a stamped piece of aluminium, as such it is extremely lightweight. The purposeful twist has been created to introduce rigidity when mounted square, thereby providing tension across the face of the guard. Again, thoughtful design. 

Before getting started I recommend cleaning the radiator fins to remove any existing crud and to ensure the surfaces where you will adhere the anti-vibration strips are clean. 

Two brackets are included, one with 2 holes for the right side, one with 1 hole for the left side (rider perspective). The right side goes on first, seated underneath the stock mounting points, in direct contact with the radiator back plate. 

It is important to note - as it is not explicitly declared in the instructions - you must use the supplied hardware when installing the brackets, do not reuse the stock hardware

If you compare the length of the threads, the provided M6 fixings are longer to account for the added offset introduced by the thickness of the brackets.

Get everything in place and finger-tight, do not snug down yet

Next up, cut the anti-vibration strip in half and adhere to the face of the radiator where there is a ridge. Do this on both sides. 

Install the washer onto the M4 hex bolts and locate them on the guard. At this stage, the left side has not been touched at all (other than sticking on the padded strip).

The left-hand side is a bit different in approach. Instead of installing the bracket, then attaching the guard grill, you first locate the grill - attached to the bracket - before bolting the bracket to the rear plate of the radiator. 

This is where the designed twist becomes obvious. Once you align the grill and left-hand bracket with the mounting point there is a noticeable stiffness, giving confidence you've done things right. 

Refit the last (supplied) M6 bolt finger-tight and inspect your work before snugging all fixings down. 

Note - do not over torque any of the hardware. The M6 bolts are threading into the back plate of the radiator and can quite easily strip the treads if over tightened. 

Likewise, the M4 hex bolts are being wound into steal lugs within and aluminium eye in the guard grill - leaning on these fasteners is likely to sheer the lugs out. 

Done and done. 

........only the undetermined are safe, everything else will find a way through. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Suspension sorted: MT09 - the way it should be.

I am in no way associated with any vendors, workshops, product distributors or component manufactures cited in this Post. 
All components and workshop costs have been completely at my own expense. 

Like many others, I had suffered with the lack-lustre chassis dynamics of the MT09 for too long. It is universally understood that if you intend on pushing this bike - and want to attain the most giggles from the experience, rather than sheer terror - you will need to get rid of the pipe-cleaner fork internals and slinky shock.

For day to day riding, commuting, wheelies and a bit of blatting you can just get by if you're not too liberal with the throttle, you contain your enthusiasm and find inner Zen whilst channelling the persona of a Prius driver.......but, wait! That's not what an MT09 is for, Zen? No thanks.

Something had to be done.

The Parts

Researching potential upgrade paths, weighing up total cost, expected results and anticipated performance was not without its challenges. The choices ranged from cannibalising components such as a ZX10 or FZY-R6 shock for (custom) retrofitting, to complete disassembly, servicing, re-valving and general suspension Voodoo for both the front and rear.

My main issue with these approaches was that the minimal cost saving could deliver a haphazard, untested and ultimately less precise result. The Frankenstein contraption meter was getting too far into the red zone for my OCD. Nope, nope, nope.

Enter the Kit Advanced. A purpose made, specifically designed pairing (with joint R&D) between Andreani and Ohlins.

Oh yes, that will do just nicely. Farken nicely.

As noted, these components are a straight swap for the shock with no modification required and a fork internal drop-out and cartridge drop-in.

The Ohlins YA-335 (S46DR1) shock is a fairly basic emulsion-type unit with easy to adjust rebound damping and pre-load - compression damping is not available.


Up front, the Andreani cartridge offers pre-load adjustment and both rebound and compression damping. A huge improvement over the stock forks.

Installed - Compression leg

Installed - Rebound leg

The People

Being located in Melbourne, I was lucky enough to be able to call upon Phil Tainton Racing to have the suspension upgrade completed. For those who don't know who PTR is/are - they've been in the business for decades and Phil has developed bikes for road racing and factory teams.

So I just had to have the man work on my bike because...........overkill?

Phil is a bit of a Wizard and a bloody nice guy. He took the time to explain things and conducted the process formally requiring rider (that means me) weigh in, suspension dyno - before and after - and chassis set-up. All to ensure the results were not snake oil or due to positive-bias but were in fact measurable.

Documentation provided - the inner geek satisfied, OCD meter in a very happy zone - thanks PTR!

The communication from this workshop was exemplary - Lynne kept me up to date with parts delivery, progress and handled everything seamlessly. Stella work, rarely seen, ever required.

The Progression 

It's been just over 3 months since the PTR work. During this time the MT09 has been subject to upward of 6,000 kms of commuting, blatting, braaaarping and hooligan-ing. 

The results are night and day - seriously. 

Pogo be-gone. That familiar chassis wallow has been eliminated and I am no longer required to ride around the deficiency. I can trust the bike far more - it now has a footprint, it is planted and I am connected - think bare foot running as opposed to sprinting in gumboots.

Corner entry and exit speeds have improved and I am less fatigued after a hectic ride as the chassis is now doing what it should be doing. 

Fork dive under hard braking is greatly improved and trail-braking delivers swift turn-in without the fear of bottoming out. Furthermore, with both compression and rebound damping the fork action upon loading and unloading offers continuous feedback and compliance. 

High velocity compression can be a little harsh due to the valve-porting. Really though you only notice this after touch-down from a ham-fisted wheelie or hitting a pothole at speed.

Rear squat is gone. Just plain gone. 
When getting on the power at corner exit the shock remains taught and does not let the rear go light as it attempts to retreat towards the swing-arm pivot. The slightly longer shaft has also improved handling by lifting the rear, canting weight forward. 

Do not underestimate the impact a relatively small geometry change can have on chassis dynamics. By lifting the rear, the rake has been marginally reduced, while weight over the front axle has been increased - both factors delivering much better front-end feel and feedback. 


  • If you're thinking about suspension work for your MT09.
  • If you take you're riding seriously and enjoy the innate technicality of it.
  • If you've had a moment, more than once, where you wished you could open the throttle and trust it to stick. 
  • If you want to really get the most of the flickable chassis.
  • If you want more giggles and less terror
Get your suspension sorted. 
Done and done. 

-- Pogo be-gone. I ride a motorcycle, not a seesaw. 

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Family Ties - Yamaha XSR900

The time had come to finally throw a leg over the Yamaha XSR900, let's do it. 

Motor/Throttle/Clutch + Gearbox

Built upon the MT09 platform, the XSR900 shares the same delightful 847cc triple pot engine with claimed power and torque output figures unchanged, indicating nothing internal has been modified or substituted for this incarnation.

Out of the crate, the XSR900 throttle response is tamer to that of the MT09, it's still far from perfect - especially on small throttle transitions - however in stock form, it is better, smoother, softer?

Clutch action and gearbox feel are identical to that of the 'Niner, that said, the XSR900 seems to have a much quieter clutch basket and does not produce the same rattle the MT09 does when in neutral with the lever out.


Right, have Yamaha sorted out the budget suspension this time....................?? Ah, that'd be No.

It is true to state that the stock suspension of the XSR900 is improved to that of the MT09 - however, it's still very basic.

The front has much better rebound damping due to a valve change, however without changes to the overall configuration this can only help so much. Dual-spring rate offers a stiffer feel with less dive under braking,  however there is no compression damping at all. That said, the XSR900 is better behaved than a stock 09.

At the rear the shock continues unchanged and suffers from the familiar squat and untamed unload when getting on the throttle.

The ABS brakes front and back have acceptable lever feel and pull up well, nothing to complain about for this type of bike.

In terms of road manners, the XSR is relatively compliant, albeit a little vague. It'll go where you point it, it just won't give you confidence you're heading there on your terms or as directed.

The three stage traction control intervenes quite early on TC2 (max) and it'll chop a wheelie before you get going, other than that it was a non-issue. Just bump the setting up to TC1 (min) or TC0 (off) and you'll be fine.


Now this is strange.

The seat is higher than the 09 and set further back with a wider tank between the rider and the bars, requiring one to stretch a bit more to wrangle the controls.

Furthermore the plastic tank covers minimise the amount of cutout in the tank around the inner thigh and knee area - exactly where you would pinch your knees.

It's odd, but this design makes it feel like there is a 'puck' attached to the tank and it produces a very noticeable lump when trying to lock to the bike.

In Conclusion 

The XSR900 is a great thing to look at, I personally love the aesthetics of the bike and think Yamaha have really melded current technology with retro style in a remarkably pleasing way. 

I love the central clock style dash - it's extremely clear and adds to the bikes' retro appeal with a Casio Calculator feel. 

The aluminium pieces provide both visual accents and a real differentiation from other bikes of this type, almost like a 'factory custom' look - I dig it. 

Like for like, the XSR900 is a softer, more agreeable and more civilised member of the MT family, perhaps the distinguished Uncle, rather than older brother - after all the MT10 is here and the XSR is not trying to be a brawler.

Post Script

Riding this bike back to back with my MT09 it was very hard to remain objective, and being essentially the same bike, it was difficult not to draw comparisons. 

Let it be known that my 'Niner is no longer stock and has been treated to suspension work and a minor throttle adjustment.

It was actually quite vindicating to ride the XSR900 which is proclaimed to be a more refined package in comparison to a sorted MT09, with the suspension upgrades and throttle tweak the MT09 is propelled into another league - seriously (more about this in a coming post) 

........If only once, some class has been observed. 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Urban (A)ssault Mode

We all know the MT-09 is equipped we three throttle modes:

A - 'Assault' mode = hooliganism and hammer time in the twisties
STD - 'Standard' mode = bike default setting and good for the commute and touring
B - 'Benign' mode = great for rain and sketchy road surfaces

Key, Lid, Gear - go.
Select (A)ssault mode.

Today called for some urban antics
Ample braaaarping and general civil disobedience.
Public enemy no. 1

The MT-09 is at home being a thug - it encourages bad behaviour and delivers with satisfaction. Braaarp indeed. 

It's Sunday morning, the world is quiet - people are wasting their time on pedestrian pursuits like 'Yoga' or 'Gardening' or .........shudder........ 'Golf' - people are crazy. 

The MT-09 guides me to an Industrial zone outside Melbourne - I am somewhat of a passenger as the bike self-navigates away from prying eyes..

Amongst the noise of the Akrapovic, the wheelies and the delinquency, there was time for reflection.

Golf? Gardening? Yoga?.................
Nope......give me braaaaarping any day.

All aboard the urban (A)ssault vehicle.