Royal Enfield plan Sherpa and Hunter

Royal Enfield has applied for the trademarks of Sherpa and Hunter which we expect could be applied to the upcoming smaller and bigger Himalayan adventure models.

The current 400cc Himalayan has been a moderate hit so 250cc and 650cc versions could also score well for the Indian company, both in the subcontinent and overseas.

Several manufacturers have produced baby adventure bikes in recent years such as the Kawasaki Versys-X 350, and there has been a host of 650cc models available for many years.

Kawasaki Versys-X 300 with Bosch 10 ABS unit confirms
Kawasaki Versys-X 300

Sherpa and Hunter

Both Sherpa and Hunter would be ideal names for extensions to the Himalayan family.

Perhaps the Hunter would be the bigger model and the Sherpa the smaller one, given the company had a 178cc  Sherpa in the 1960s.

Royal Enfield boss Siddhartha Lal has long suggested the 650cc engine from the popular Interceptor and Continental GT could be used in the Himalayan.

The Himalayan is powered by a 411cc, single-cylinder engine producing just 18kW of power at 6500rpm and 32Nm of torque at 4250rpm.

Royal Enfield Himalayan Sleet invests
Royal Enfield Himalayan

That compares with the 648cc twin from the Interceptor and Continental GT which has 35kW at 7250rpm and 52Nm at 5250rpm

Indian websites have published spy photos of disguised 650cc Himalayans being tested on local roads, so they could be close to production.

However, the trademark application is probably a little late for a 2020 release.

We suspect they are more likely to come in 2021.


Two rider deaths in sad end to 2019

Two male riders have died on New Year’s Eve in NSW in a tragic end to 2019, bringing the total number of motorcycle deaths for the year to 67.

That is seven above the three-year average and was the third rider death in NSW in 24 hours.

Dubbo death

Just before 9pm last night (31 December 2019), emergency services were called to the Mitchell Highway in Maryvale, just north of Wellington near Dubbo, following reports of a crash between a motorcycle and utility vehicle.

The rider, believed to be a man aged in his 20s, died at the scene.

Police say the male driver of the utility, and a female passenger, were airlifted to Orange Base Hospital with multiple injuries.

The utility caught fire and was extinguished by NSW Rural Fire Service.

Orana Mid-Western Police District officers have established a crime scene and the Crash Investigation Unit are investigating.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner.

Coffs Harbour crash

At 9pm, emergency services received reports that a male rider was found on the road near his motorcycle at Coramba Road, Coffs Harbour.

Passers-by tried to revive him until NSW Ambulance paramedics arrived. Despite their efforts, the man died at the scene.

The man is yet to be formally identified.

Coffs Clarence Police District officers will prepare a report for the Coroner.

Anyone who may have been driving along Coramba Road around the time of the incident, and witnessed or captured dashcam footage of the motorbike, is urged to contact Coffs Harbour Police Station on (02) 6691 0799.

Park fatal

These deaths follows another fatal the night before when a 22-year-old male rider died in Sydney’s Royal National Park while on a group ride.

Anyone with information about any of these incidents is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Our condolences to the riders’ family and friends.

We also sincerely wish you all a safe and hazy New Year.


The Most Motorcycles Made—Honda Builds 400 Millionth Bike

In 2018, Honda produced more than 20 million bikes, globally, in one calendar year—establishing a new record. This doubled its production output from 14 years earlier. For reference, Harley-Davidson built 228,665 motorcycles worldwide during 2018, while Yamaha Motor Company assembled 5,390,000 motorcycles in 2017.


Mick Doohan’s championship winning 1998 NSR500

Mick Doohan’s 1998 championship winning NSR500

With Phil Aynsley

Continuing on from the last column (Doohan 1994 Honda NSR500 – Link), the other NSR from Mick Doohan’s collection I shot was the 1998 bike.

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Mick Doohan’s championship winning 1998 NSR500
Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Mick went back to the screamer motor from 1997

For the 1997 season Mick requested that his bikes revert back to the 180 degree “screamer” motor.

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
By now the NSR500 was producing near on 200hp
Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Mick Doohan’s championship winning 1998 NSR500

Advances to the electronics and tyres since 1991 meant the power (now near 200hp), while not totally tamed, was able to be used by those riders with the most ability.

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Mick Doohan’s championship winning 1998 NSR500

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePAMick went on to win 12 of the 15 races, with Alex Crivillé taking two and Tady Okada one for a NSR clean sweep of the top four places.

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Mick led the Honda domination of the 1997 season, a feat he would repeat in 1998
Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Power was reduced slightly in the 1998 machine with unleaded fuel now in use

The 1998 bike retained the “screamer” motor but power was reduced by up to five per cent due the new regulations requiring the use of unleaded fuel.

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
The benefit of the move to unleaded fuel was a boost in torque
Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
A hydraulic clutch was also new on Mick’s 1998 NSR500

However torque was improved resulting in better traction and acceleration.

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Doohan went on to win eight of the 14 races for the season in 1998

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePAOne other change to the motor specification was the adoption of a hydraulically operated clutch. Mick won 8 of the 14 races and his final championship.

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
The bike was rebuilt for Doohan prior to the handover

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePAThe bike received a full rebuild by Honda technicians before being handed to Mick and is fitted with special presentation tyres from Michelin.

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Mick Doohan’s championship winning 1998 NSR500

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Mick Doohan’s championship winning 1998 NSR500

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
The hydraulic clutch at the ‘bars

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePAHonda NSR Doohan ImagePA

Honda NSR Doohan ImagePA
Mick Doohan’s championship winning 1998 NSR500


Around the world with The Bear | Part Eight | Exploring India

Around the world with The Bear – Part Eight

The King of Every Kingdom – Around the world on a very small motorcycle

With J. Peter “The Bear” Thoeming

Last episode we discovered that the beer was warm as The Bear and Charlie explored Nepal before heading on into India – this week we find that the food is hot!

Having arrived in Varanasi last time, we now retreated to the Hotel KMM, which had been recommended to us, and drank several gallons of tea and fresh lemon drink. It all went straight out again, mostly through the pores, and it kept us awake and buzzing.

On an evening stroll through the crowds of holy men and peddlers we acquired a friend, an eight-year-old boy who wanted to sell us some silk. He tagged along down to the river and introduced us to his father, who had just had his evening dip in the holy river. We sat watching the sunset reflecting in the river as the father told us some stories about Varanasi and the Hindu gods.

Around the world with The Bear Peter Thoeming Part
For once, the signposting is good! That was not at all common in India.

The next day was devoted to looking over such unique Varanasi attractions as the ghats on the riverbank, where corpses are burnt before being consigned to the sacred embrace of the river—a very quick look at that. Fighting off prospective guides took more time than anything else.

We returned to our little friend’s shop, in fact the family living-room and no doubt bedroom, and I bought some silk batik scarves for presents. They were beautiful, with motifs from Hindu mythology in rich colours. One hangs on my office wall to this day.

It seemed to us that the best way to deal with the heat was to get up early, do most of our riding in the cool of the morning and rest in the afternoon, and with that in mind we rose at 4am to discover that there was a blackout.

We loaded the bikes by the light of our torches. The electricity came back on at about the same time as the sun came up. This little scheme did work quite well after that, though.

Around the world with The Bear Peter Thoeming Part
No, not a hardware shop, just kitchen equipment mostly made of steel.

It was still cool when we stopped in Mirzapur for a cup of tea at the railway station and the road outside showed us the reason for the blackout. There must have been a storm the previous night, because a number of poles had come down and filled the streets with a tangle of wires.

We ordered the ‘Vegetable Preparation’, which is a selection of violently coloured pastes, presumably originally sourced from vegetables, in an aluminium TV dinner tray. It has little flavour beyond ha… ha… HOT!

We had a good road that day, still lined by mangos, which were inhabited by monkeys, and quite spectacular where it climbed the edge of the Deccan. Our host for the night was a retired lawyer-turned-spiritualist who now ran a hotel in Satna. He assured us that, wherever we went in the universe, we would always find people who spoke English. I guess a spiritualist ought to know.

Around the world with The Bear Peter Thoeming Part
Another look at one of the Khajuraho temple carvings.

A look at the erotic carvings on the temples at Khajuraho, which are incidentally very good and actually quite erotic, was followed by our hottest day to date. We pulled in to the courtyard of an Irrigation Department rest house and tried to find out from the chowkidar—the caretaker—if we could stay the night there and get something to eat. No luck. Our recently acquired few words of Hindi didn’t seem to mean anything to him at all. What was the world coming to.

Lady Luck chose that moment to arrive in the shape of a short chap driving a locally made Fiat with a hang glider on top. He told us later that it was the only one in the country and he had brought it in under the pretext that it was a tent – substantial aircraft import duty would otherwise have been due on it. Tent duty, it seems is more reasonable.

It appeared that we had not been able to communicate with the chowkidar because he only spoke the local dialect. Our newfound friend then reached into his car, where the thermometer (in the shade) read 52 degrees C, and produced two bottles of beer in dry ice and wrapped in a back copy of the Times of India, which he invited us to share with him on the verandah.

The beer, that is. I could have kissed him. The bungalow, he explained, was not set up for meals. We thanked him for the beer and rode on to Jhansi. The heat, all the worse now we knew just how hot it was, was coming up off the road like laser fire.

Jhansi’s Central Hotel was pretty basic, with those dreadful short charpoys – beds made of timber and rope and designed for Indian not Australian bodies – but there was quite a good curry to be had downstairs and we were entertained by a wedding across the road. A lot of the wedding seemed to involve firecrackers.

Around the world with The Bear Peter Thoeming Part
Rule number One in India: these have right of way wherever you go.

Next morning, road works gave us a bit of trouble on the way to Agra. A row of stones across the road can mean one of two things—either there used to be a broken-down truck there that’s been repaired and moved, or there’s a bridge out around the next corner. It’s not always easy to tell if the road ends dramatically a few yards farther on. We were also getting sore bums in the heat; XL seats are not comfortable at the very best of times and this was not one.

But the Taj Mahal took our minds off our worries. It is the only building I have ever seen that lives up to the tourist hype, and we were fortunate enough to have a full moon to see it by. There were fireflies in the gardens, too, and it was almost unbearably romantic. Charlie and I would gladly have exchanged each other for female company. Sadly, this was not to be.

We found lots of mail waiting for us in Delhi, but the money that should have been sitting at the bank had allegedly not arrived. I checked every day, and one day in the lift at the bank, an aristocratic-looking Indian gent looked me up and down, said hello and ascertained that I was Australian and then asked: ‘What is your purpose in life?’ I was still frantically trying to formulate a reply when we reached my floor and I beat a disorganised retreat.

Around the world with The Bear Peter Thoeming Part
India (and the rest of southern Asia) would stop without these.

The Tourist Camp in Old Delhi looked rather more comfortable than most of the cheap hotels, so we pitched our flysheet there over a large bit of carpet donated by the manager. Charlie did a bit of maintenance work on the bikes, among other things replacing the rubber seal on one of the fork legs of my bike. It had been weeping oil and proved to be rather badly scored.

Visas were a headache. The Afghanis weren’t issuing any, having just had a revolution. The Iraqis wanted our passports for three months, to send to Baghdad for approval, so we decided to give them a miss. At least the Iranians only took two days.

Outside the Iranian Embassy we met Paul, a fellow biker and a Sikh from Chandigar who also intended to ride over to Europe. He invited us to come and stay with his family when we passed through Chandigar, and we gratefully accepted.

Around the world with The Bear Peter Thoeming Part
Maintenance on the bikes in the New Delhi campground.

We had a lot of trouble with our money transfers to Delhi and waited for over a week. It was partly the fault of our bank back in Australia, but the Indians certainly weren’t overly organised.

After we had covered Delhi’s tourist attractions we whiled away the time in the US Information Service and British Council libraries which offered air conditioning and newspapers.

We also bought some sheepskins and made them into seat covers for the bikes. Our money came eventually; Charlie found the advice for his while glancing idly through one of the file folders in the bank. Like they say, if you want something done…

Crossing the bridge out of town over the Yamuna River was like riding through a suburb of hell. It was a closed, boxy steel affair and hot, claustrophobic, slippery with dung, and predictably enough it stank. The roads up to the foothills of the Himalayas weren’t much, either. We passed a totally flattened three-wheeler van lying in the ditch.

We were on our way up to Rishikesh, yet another holy town. Hardwar, at the entrance of the valley, looked interesting with its hundreds of little shops in booths lining the road, but Rishikesh itself was more like a Hindu Disneyland, complete with helicopter pads for the affluent gurus.

Down by the river we met one who was still working his way up. “I have only one disciple so far,” he said, “A Swiss man. But there will be more in time, do not fear.”

Around the world with The Bear Peter Thoeming Part
Hmm. Charlie wonders if that weed is really – weed?

The road over to the old British hill station of Shimla was better. Lined by pine trees, it was chiseled into the sides of the hills. Every now and then the fog lifted and opened out spectacular views of hillsides and forest.

There were some river fords, too, crossed amid much white water, and very little traffic, a great relief after the crush down on the plains. For a while the road ran parallel to the Shimla railway, which looks like a big toy with its narrow gauge.

Next time we manage to score a full-on hot curry at a roadside stand and impress the locals.


Big drop in 2019 motorcycle recalls

There was a big drop in the number of safety recalls for motorcycles in 2019.

In fact, with 27 motorcycle recalls, it was the lowest number in seven years.

That compares with last year’s 37 motorcycle recalls, the second highest number of recalls in the previous 10 years: 28 in 2017, 39 in 2016, 30 in 2015, 28 in 2014, 20 in 2013, 24 in 2012, 16 in 2011, 14 in 2010 and 23 in 2009.

Good drop

That drop in recalls is good news and shows that manufacturers must be taking a bit more care to test their product before rushing a new model to market. Mind you, it’s still 27 too many. In fact, even one may be too many if it affects your bike.

However, there were also four recalls for motorcycle-related products and accessories: Harley saddlebags, a Honda Monkey bike rack, an O’Neal helmet and Avon Cobra tyres. That’s unusual, as there is usually only about one motorcycle-related product a year except 2013 which had eight.

Avon Cobra 50R16 Motorcycle Tyres
Cobra tyres

The most motorcycle recalls this year was six for Yamaha; followed by four for BMW, Ducati and Triumph; Suzuki and Triumph on three; two for Harley, Honda and Indian; and one each for Kawasaki, Piaggio and KTM.

That compares with the previous year where Ducati had 6;  Indian, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM and Triumph 3; BMW, Harley, Husqvarna and Moto Guzzi 2, Aprilia and MV Augusta one each. There were no other product recalls.

Most recalls are issued voluntarily and posted online by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Even though manufacturers and importers usually contact owners when a recall is issued, the bike may have been sold privately to a rider unknown to the company.

Therefore, Motorbike Writer publishes all motorcycle and scooter recalls as a service to all riders.

If you believe there is an endemic problem with your bike that should be recalled, contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502.

To check whether your motorcycle has been recalled, click on these sites:

• Australia


• New Zealand

• Canada


10 New Year resolutions we’d like to see

Each New Year we make resolutions to do something new, better or at least different for the next year.

This year we thought we would do something different for the new decade and compile a wish list of 10 New Year resolutions we would like others to make.

We know most of these are just vain wishes, but we thought we would present them anyhow in the hope someone out there takes up at least one of them!

The list includes other motorists, but is also aimed at other riders.

Resolutions we would like others to make:

  1. Drivers should resolve to pay more attention to riders and looking out for their safety. Get off your phones, stop playing with the touchscreen on your cars instruments and use your mirrors.
  2. Caravan and truck drivers could resolve not to try to pass other vehicles on the only double-lane uphill stretch for miles around, blocking a string of traffic behind them who could have passed a lot quicker.
  3. How about riders resolving not to make disparaging comments about other people’s choice of bike? We are part of a small community, so we should stick together and support each other.

    Pink Hello Kitty Ducati Scrambler revenue male slips
    That’s an unusual pink slip!

  4. Some riders could also resolve to ride within their abilities. Don’t show off or try to get your knee down on public roads. Take some responsibility for your own safety and don’t just blame other motorists.
  5. Wouldn’t it be great if cyclists resolved to not use the road as their own personal racetrack and take up most of a lane on a narrow mountain road?Cyclist identification call rejected
  6. We would also love it if governments at all levels resolved to listen to riders and include them in their planning.
  7. Drivers of all vehicles should resolve to understand that lane filtering is legal and not only a benefit to riders, but to all motorists as it reduces the number of vehicles in the commuter queue

    roadside lane filter filtering ad sign billboard
    Here’s a sign we’d like to see

  8. Instead of adding performance parts to your motorcycle to squeeze out more power, riders could resolve to lose some weight to improve the bike’s power-to-weight ratio, or maybe take some riding lessons to sharpen your skills. Admit it; you don’t use anywhere near all the power your bike already produces!

    Harley-Davidson Fat Bob and Low Rider S at Champions Race Day Lakeside Park track day
    Track day riders at Champions Ride Day briefing

  9. We would appreciate it if some keyboard warriors would resolve to not fire off random abusive comments to us and other readers before thoroughly reading our articles, including this ironic list.
  10. Let’s all resolve to do our best to survive 2020.


Distinguished Skram riding sunglasses review

The distinguished Skram riding sunglasses have been designed to allow riders to continue to ride on into the night.

They have been designed by Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride founder Mark Hawwa and the three different designs certainly do look distinguished.

Moto Skram glasses

Mark says Skram Motorcycle Eyewear is “a product that as motorcyclists we wanted to wear” and was a joint effort by him, colleague Rocco Repice and optometrist Elias Combes.

The flexible sunglasses cost $199 with a choice of brown tortoise shell (“Havana”) or black frames.

They are claimed to have 100% UV protection with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses that makes them the “most protective” sunglasses on the market.Skram sunglasses

Skram glasses are also available in clear and yellow photochromic lenses that transition to a tint when exposed to the sun.

Prescription lenses are also available for an extra $159.

Mark says they “searched for years testing over 50 different lenses until we found the set that we could put all of our trust into”.

He sent us a pair of Moto Ones to test and here are our results.

Skram Moto OnesSkram Moto Ones sunglasses

Skram Moto Ones arrived in an elaborate box that was way bigger than the glasses themselves.

Inside is a handsome leather carry pouch, cleaning rag, distinguished keyring with leather tag and a useful keyring tool.Skram Moto Ones sunglasses

The tool unscrews to reveal two small screwdrivers for tightening the arms of the glasses as well as other uses.Skram Moto Ones sunglasses

These lightweight glasses have sturdy and flexible frames that don’t get bent out of shape as you put them on. They actually become more pliable the more you use them.

However, the arms are a little thick and may pose a problem with some helmets. They can also be uncomfortable against your ears in a tight helmet.

We tested the acetate lenses with a UV sensor and found they give pretty good protection.

Skram sunglasses
Light tint after a few seconds

The photochromic tinting effect is quite slow to transition from clear/yellow to tint which means you will come out of a tunnel into broad daylight and squint for a few seconds.

Vice versa, if you ride into a tunnel you have to wait several seconds for the full tint to disappear so you can see clearly.

They also won’t tint to the maximum level if you are wearing a full-face helmet, even with a clear visor or a tinted visor open as helmet visors reduce UV rays.

Skram sunglasses
The darkest tint in direct sunlight

You need direct sunlight on the glasses.

We found even our Biltwell Gringo which has no visor prevented sunlight because of the thick “brow” overhang.

A peak will also shade the glasses and prevent them fully tinting.

The instructions say it takes a few wears to reach the full photochromic effect. That’s what we found too. Right out of the box, they weren’t great, but after a couple of weeks they improved.

However, they never really got all that dark, compared wth our normal sunglasses.

Skram sunglasses
Skram glass at the back compared with Ray Bans (left) and Flying Eyes

They claim they will tint to 80% darkness in full sunlight and meet Category 0 to 3 sunglass standards with 0 legal for night riding.

Mark says the glasses are “perfect for those who wear open-face and 3/4 helmets as well as those who like to ride with their full face helmet visor open”.

We couldn’t test the shatterproof ability of the lenses, but they aren’t scratchproof. We lightly used the tool on the corner of the lens and it easily left a small scratch line.

While they do work better with an open-face helmet, they are not wrap-around, so over about 80km/h you get a lot of wind in your eyes.

This can lead to windburn over time which can promote dry, itchy eyes and, in extreme cases, possibly blurred vision.

And despite all the wind that gets in behind the glasses, we found they fog up fairly quickly on a rainy day, even with an open-face helmet.Skram sunglasses


These are certainly quality, stylish sunglasses, but they aren’t much use for most riding conditions.

However, they work ok around town on a fine day. For example, they would be an excellent pair of glasses to wear on a DGR ride … so long as it isn’t raining!





Fatal motorcycle crash in Royal National Park

In a tragic end to 2019, a 22-year-old male rider has died in a late-night crash in Sydney’s Royal National Park while on a group ride.

NSW Police say the accident occurred at 10pm on Monday (30 December 2019) on Lady Wakehurst Drive at Lilyvale, in the Royal National Park.

“Police have been told a group of motorcyclists were travelling north when the bike left the road and struck a road sign,” they say.

The rider died at the scene.

Officers from Wollongong Police District established a crime scene and commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Inquiries continue, and a report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Our sincere condolences to the rider’s family and friends.

Night ridersNight rider plans

Night riding can be fun, but it is also more dangerous for a host of reasons.

We advise riders to take care and read our tips on how to be a better and safer night rider.