Isn’t this digital age great?
I took hundreds of photos and hours of Video and it’s cool to be able to paw back over them and review the year that was.
On the work front (if you call writing about and taking photos of bikes work that is), the motorcycle industry generally is still in the aftermath of the 2008 meltdown.
While some are reporting a slow return to profitability and the hope of better days to come, with a few exceptions, completely new model releases are still relatively rare, with most manufacturers evolving their ranges and offering improved version of existing models.
The retail sector in NZ continues to do it tough, with leisure spending still well below pre-GFC levels.
Overall I didn’t get to throw a leg over as many test bikes as in previous sets of 365, but of those that did land in my garage, I usually managed to keep them for a longer period.
It was also the year we left New Zealand after nearly eleven years of great times.
The year began in Auckland and the first test bike was the Harley Street Glide for Kiwi Rider.
This is one I had a hard time returning. In the video I called it ‘possibly the coolest stock Harley ever’ and I meant it – still do.
What a machine.
January concluded with a photo assignment for Kiwi Rider covering Graeme Crosby’s Book Launch
Feb means the NZ Classics Festival. It’s a really great event. Here's a big slide show:
I also got to hang out with Henry and his crew from ‘Worlds Greatest Motorcycle Rides’ for a morning. Cool dude.
Then I tagged along with the Ed for a quick ride on the new Triumph Tiger 800’s as well.
The new Honda Stateline. I thought it looked great and went pretty well too.
I also covered the Christchurch Fund Raiser Ride in Auckland
One of my Favourite events – The Suzuki Boulevard Rally.
This year it was held out of Whangarei in Northland and was another beauty. Lots of Pics here:
I also got to keep the M109R for a while after the rally and enjoyed it heaps too. It has some serious mumbo.
I had a few jobs to do for KR early in the month. Including shooting Mr Croad's Motard on the dyno
And had a few days living with the new Speed Triple and liked it a lot too.
I also had a drool over the new Guzzi V7 Racer and a very cool Scrambler;
I was dispatched to the Sunshine Coast to attend the new BMW K1600 launch. What fabulous machines these are. All the luxury of a Gold Wing with the performance of a sports bike.
Then the Co-pilot was offered a job in Brisbane, so we started renovating the house in Auckland and I was project managing that job through July when we put the house on the market.
And my Buell also went up for sale - with some regret.
I had 5 great years out of this bike, but it was almost time to hit the road again.
I did have the great Kawasaki Z1000SX for a while though. This is a great all round machine.
And a few days on my last NZ test bike - the Suzuki GSR 750, which I also thought was a very good road bike.
Some guy posted a comment on you tube that I was riding it like a pussy. I have my name and what publication I work for all over the site - Like I'm going to post up doing anything illegal and wait for the cops to call?? Double face palm. FWIW I did give it the berries with the camera turned off.
I had a series of great farewells in Auckland - and set it up so I'm still working for Kiwi Rider over this side of the Tasman.
It was time to look back on our time in NZ though. I had a very special time there, living like some sort of motorcycle king, in a rider's paradise. Here's a montage of just some of it.
We arrived in Brisbane, back in our native Australia. Co-pilot started work and I went shopping for a new bike.
Yep - tthe mighty KLR. I'd tested one back in 2009 and really enjoyed it. $7.5K ride away with a 2 year warranty and it really just suits me. It's tall, comfortable and the worse the road is, the more it likes it.
Good around town and does 400km on a $20 tankful. Here it is on Mt Tambourine in the Gold Coast hinterland.
Plus I still get to ride a heap of exotic test bikes, like the Road King and the new Dyna.
I have continued freelancing for the Harley Owners Magazine and we did a 'Big Ride' feature riding from Brisbane up to Hervey Bay in Queensland. It was a great couple of days.
My first test bike in Aus was for Kiwi Rider and a few weeks living with the Dyna Switchback.
In 10 years working for KR I have become known to most of the Aussie press corps as well - and have always got on great with the crew at Heavy Duty Magazine, so when Brum asked me to do a piece on the Turbo Victory 8 Ball I jumped at the chance.
What a fantastic bit of kit it is too.
And the Follow up piece for Heavy Duty was another Chopperworks creation - the Turbo Road King
Man I want one!
I also had the HOG Magazine Hat on too - as we flew over to Perth in Western Australia to cover the HOG Rally and to do another 'BiG Ride' down to Albany. That yarn will appear in the Mag early in 2012
Old Man Emu
In the SW Forests
I also got to hang out with Mr Bill Davidson for a few days. Top bloke.
The Kiwi Rider hat is back on and the year ends somewhat similarly to the way it started.
On a medium term test on the new Harley Road Glide. It's still in the shed now:
So - to my annual awards.
Bike of the Year.
Those that have been following over the years will recall that my criteria isn't the usual magazine fare. Logic doesn't play a huge part in the decision - it just comes down to: If I could keep one - which one.
It is a very tight call between the Street Glide and the BMW K1600 and the Turbo Road King - I would go for....The Chopperworks Road King. It really is quite remarkable - check the video.
Event of the Year.
The National HOG Rally - Margaret River WA.
Superbly run and organised in a great venue.
Roll on 2012!
Happy New Year,