Retrospective: 1973-1975 Suzuki GT250 Hustler

1975 Suzuki GT250M Hustler
1975 Suzuki GT250M Hustler. Owner: Chris Wesney, Templeton, California.

Back in the early ’70s Suzuki was looking into the inevitable future and concentrating on getting into the four-stroke market, while still making good money from its two-strokes. And the predecessors of this GT250 Hustler had helped a lot.

Its parallel twin engine, perfectly square at 54 x 54mm bore and stroke, had first seen the light of the showroom floor in 1965 as the X-6 Hustler, a 250 tiger, which astounded the American motorcycling mind with a 90-plus-mph top speed and six-speed transmission. The engine was a simple piston-port design, with new-fangled automatic oiling, and cylinders were aluminum with iron liners.

Move forward eight years, and the rather similar GT250 Hustler appears—but with Suzuki’s Ram Air System (RAS) bolted to the top of the engine. The rubber-mounted hood was first seen on the company’s 1972 triples, the GT380 Sebring and GT550 Indy, which was the beginning of the Grand Touring series. The approach was simple enough, with this rather angular shroud aiding the cooling of the triple’s middle cylinder, sending more air through the cooling fins.

On a parallel twin this was more problematic, but useful in keeping the noise down. Two-strokes from the ’60s were notoriously rackety, especially in warm-up mode, and prone to give out a ringing and pinging sound from the fins. Strips of heat-resistant rubber were used in the 250’s cylinder-head fins to reduce the noise. All very civilized.

1975 Suzuki GT250M HustlerRAS was also a sales gimmick, giving the previous T250 model a new look. The factory was claiming the GT twin developed 31 horses at 7,000 rpm, but “Cycle” magazine used a rear-wheel dyno to measure the 1973 model’s horsepower: 22 at 7,500 rpm. The same magazine got a mere 20 horses when testing the similar 1975 version. As the humorist types back then liked to say, Suzuki was measuring power at the top of the piston.

It is true that Suzuki with this GT version had knowingly cut back on the power. This was because a major effort had been made, wise or not, to give the touring rider a quieter ride. However, it took some bright light to take the 26mm Mikuni carburetors apart and measure the slides; they had been lengthened by 6mm, which meant that full throttle was an impossibility. Two-strokes made a lot of noise from the intakes, so Suzuki used the longer slides on the GT–hence the slightly quieter engine. When found out, Suzuki immediately switched to correctly sized slides.

A battery and coil supplied the sparks, and the battery was a mere five amp/hour. Americans were coming to accept the electric leg, but because of weight and costs, no such starter was on the GT250. The rider’s left leg provided the starting mechanism, not that pushing the left-side kickstarter was much of a problem.

1975 Suzuki GT250M HustlerThe engine was Suzuki solid, with the crankshaft running on three ball bearings, the one-piece connecting rods having needle bearings both top and bottom. Gasoline passed into the crankcase via that pair of Mikunis, while lubrication was done by the improved CCI (Crankcase Cylinder Injection) automatic-oiling arrangement. Just to make sure that the end bearings on the crankshaft were properly taken care of, they were pressure fed using CCI’s multipoint injection system. Compression ratio was an acceptable 7.5:1. The oil tank, part of the right side cover, held 2.8 pints and had a little window to alert the rider when oil was getting low.

Helical gears sent power rearward to a multi-disc wet clutch and then through the tranny, with its own oil supply. Sixth gear was very much an overdrive, which helped reduce noise at touring speeds.

1975 Suzuki GT250M HustlerFrame was a double cradle, with a major change from its T250 predecessor found under the four-gallon gas tank; instead of one large beam, there were now a trio of smaller tubes, strengthening the chassis and allowing for a more positive feel in the corners. The frame extended under the seat, so there was no bolt-on addition. Since this had touring pretensions, wheelbase was extended almost an inch to 52 inches for better high-speed stability.

The telescopic fork was adequate, as were the pair of adjustable shocks on the swingarm. Both wheels were 18-inchers, carrying a 3.00 tire on the front, 3.50 on the back. Front brake was a competent single disc, with a drum at the back that was activated hydraulically. Above the headlight were a speedo and tachometer. Wet weight was a hefty 350 pounds, 50 more than the original X-6.

The GT designation did not really live up to the bike’s touring abilities. As a solo bike, it was OK in the quarter-liter category, but with a passenger on board taking off from a stop was both a bit slow and noisy. If the engine was pulling less than four grand, a stall was quite possible, and quiet departures were not to be had. Plus the seat height of 31 inches meant a relatively tall rider was probable, leaving not much room for a passenger. The saddle was narrowed at the front, for those with challenging inseams, but not very comfortable for the rider when carrying a passenger.

1975 Suzuki GT250M HustlerIn the end the GT250 Hustler, now a pussycat, only lasted three years. The RAS was removed, and the bike became simply the GT250 for the next two years–with bigger fins in the head to aid in cooling. That Ram Air System apparently served mainly to slow things down.

This 1975 model seen in the photos, in Aztec Yellow, spent much of its life in boxes and was only recently put back together–the only thing missing being the left side cover, which comes from a different year.


Is KTM really interested in buying Ducati?

The latest rumour about the sale of Ducati is that Austrian manufacturer KTM may be interested in buying the iconic Italian brand.

It comes from one interview with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer in German magazine Speedweek where he expresses he is interested in Ducati.

Reports across the world now say KTM will be a likely bidder for the company.

That’s an understandable conclusion since Pierer Industries AG, a company controlled by Stefan, did buy Husaberg and Husqvarna.

KTM factory in Mattighofen spokes Ducati logo sale interested
KTM factory in Mattighofen

But what did Stefan really say?

Ducati is the Ferrari of the motorcycle industry. Of course, having such a brand in our group would be interesting. It is not a question of price, but it is about the topic: When does everyone realise the situation they are in.

It’s a bit of a stretch to go from someone expressing he would be interested in ownership to actually getting the wallet out.

Although, Stefan does suggest his wallet is fat enough and price is not an issue.

As for the “situation”, he is probably referring to the global slump in motorcycle sales. Perhaps he suggests more brand mergers to make companies more economically viable.

Interested partiesMuddy DucatiDucati logo sale interested

But is Ducati even up for sale?

Three years ago, VW hinted it may sell Ducati to help recoup multi-billion-dollar emissions scandal debts.

Since then, the debt has escalated even further. However, VW has continued to make record profits and ameliorated a lot of the debt.

At one stage, VW went so far as to accept informal bids on Ducati.

Several companies were interested and some even offered bids.

They included: Indian automotive giant Eicher Motors which owns Royal Enfield; American motorcycle and powered recreational vehicle company Polaris Industries; investment firm Bain Capital; private equity fund PAI; the Italian Benetton family through former Ducati owner Investindustrial; and even Harley-Davidson.

Then VW withdrew their unofficial sale offer.

Since then, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali and VW board members have issued conflicting statements about whether the company is up for sale.

Meanwhile, Ducati has recorded eight consecutive years of record sales growth and looks set for its ninth.

It certainly would be a worthwhile investment.


Stayin’ Safe: Wheel He Or Won’t He?

wheel he or won't he
Will this truck pull out in front of you? Watching for the front wheel to begin rolling is a more reliable predictor than making eye contact with the driver.

For those of us on two wheels, the most likely clash with another vehicle would be at an intersection with an approaching vehicle turning left across our path or a vehicle pulling into our lane from a side road, parking lot or driveway. How can we know if the driver will pull the trigger and shoot point blank into our immediate path of travel? When it comes to the anxious driver poised to pull out from our right or left, is there a way to detect the driver’s intent?  

If there’s a wheel, there’s a way. Determining if a vehicle is beginning to move forward is most practical if we look to the car’s front wheel. Our brain has a much easier time detecting even the subtlest wheel rotation than it does trying to discern if the mass of the vehicle itself is moving slightly from right to left (or vice versa). See the wheel of that vehicle to your right beginning to rotate counterclockwise? Be ready; the vehicle is about to enter your lane!

But what about eye contact? Even if a driver appears to be looking directly at you, he or she may be looking beyond, never even noticing you. And, even if the driver does see you, they could easily misinterpret the distance and speed at which you are approaching, believing that you are farther away than you are.

Always anticipate the move. Even if you are confident that a driver will not pull out, be ready when they do. The way to do that is by managing your speed. Ask yourself if you could smoothly and safely stop your motorcycle to avoid contact if that driver began to pull out. Looking and anticipating while still carrying excessive speed takes away your options and limits the space and time you have to work with should the driver enter the lane ahead of you. He wheel. I mean, he will. 


Re-Cycling: 2001-2010 Honda Gold Wing

Honda Gold Wing
Rider magazine, February 2001.

Nearly concurrent with the birth of the magazine you’re reading now was the introduction of a motorcycle that would become virtually synonymous with two-wheel touring, Honda’s Gold Wing. The first Wing, the GL1000, grew larger and gained displacement over the years until in 2001 it reached what some riders considered the apex of its evolution, and others saw as an unfortunate step past perfection.

Nobody complained about the engine, a smooth flat six with fuel injection, two valves per cylinder, a hundred horsepower and a torque curve that seemingly had no beginning and no end–it was just always there, whenever you twisted the loud handle. The shaft drive that had been standard since the beginning was now incorporated into a single-sided swingarm for easier rear-wheel service. Also standard was a reverse gear–not just handy but almost mandatory for maneuvering the nearly 900-pound Wing in tight spaces–and linked brakes, with ABS an extra-cost option.

Honda Gold Wing
From Rider, April 2009.

Where the GL1800 significantly departed from the script written by its ancestors was in the handling department. Its grace and stability at speed was almost physics-defying, giving many touring riders their first taste of dragging hard parts in the corners well before the chassis sent any alarms upstairs. The frame itself was made of aluminum spars hefty enough to support bridges, and used the engine as a stressed member. Some 2002-model frames, however, were prone to cracking, and were the subject of a factory recall.

That wasn’t the only cause for criticism of the GL1800. Some of the improvements were fine, such as a larger radiator and fans and a higher-output alternator (from 1100 watts to 1300) in 2006. But two-up riders panned the GL18’s smaller bags and trunk compared to the GL1500’s, and felt the pilot’s seat placed the passenger too far to the rear to reap the benefits of the otherwise effective fairing and windscreen. The optional airbag on 2006-and-later models raised a few eyebrows among those who already thought the big Wing was just a car without doors.

The automotive analogy almost perfectly described the GL1800’s reliability, as well as its character, which some riders say is the very definition of bland. But there’s no denying that when it comes to the used market, the Wing gets the job done as well as or better than anything in the class for the same money.

Honda Gold Wing
The Gold Wing graces the cover of our February 2006 issue.

They’re more likely than most bikes to have been dealer serviced for most of their lives, so ask for receipts, and have a local dealer run the VIN to make sure the bike has been brought in for all recalls and service campaigns. Leaking fork seals aren’t too common, but they are a major pain to replace, so look for oil weeping down the fork legs, and check the condition of the brake and clutch fluid; flushing and replacing the fluid in the linked brake system is another service headache.

Try every setting and button on the stereo, the intercom and the navi system, and make sure the rear shock preload adjuster works. Function-check any add-on lights and accessories, and if you’re feeling brave and the seller isn’t looking, give the ABS a workout, too. Expect to pay anywhere from $7,500 for a first-year GL1800 in fair condition up to $12,000 for a 2011 model, excluding value-adding accessories.

Honda Gold Wing
From Rider, February 2006.

2001-2010 Honda GL1800 Gold Wing

Long on power, competence and comfort.
Reliability above average, dealers everywhere.

Short on personality, low-speed maneuverability and ease of service.
Excess weight can become tiresome.

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 1,832cc flat six, fuel injected, 2 valves per cylinder
Final Drive: Shaft
Weight: 898 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6.6 gals.
Seat Height: 29 in.


The Old Way: Historic U.S. 80 and the Wood Plank Road

Plank Road
Travel from Yuma to San Diego via historic U.S. Route 80 and the wood Plank Road, and you’ll see how unforgiving the desert can be. Photos by the author.

Picture a scene in which hearty travelers traverse barren and windswept sand dunes on roads of rough-hewn timbers. I am not talking about some prehistoric time nor am I forecasting a dystopian future. No, my friends, many still-living Americans could tell you of this strange and fascinating tale set in the American Southwest.

I recently happened upon a magazine article that mentioned a wood plank road that spanned the sand dunes linking the southernmost portions of California and Arizona. With my interest piqued, I dug deeper and discovered that the Old Plank Road was operational for more than a decade and was ultimately displaced by a paved portion of U.S. Route 80 in 1926.

Almost four decades later, U.S. 80 succumbed to Interstate 8. Now, the Plank Road is a fascinating, crumbling relic of the early 20th century; however, long portions of Historic U.S. 80 are still passable as an interesting alternative to I-8 from Yuma, Arizona, to San Diego, California.

That was enough for me. I dug deeper into the history of the Plank Road, researched Historic U.S. 80, charted my course and packed the bags on my BMW R 1200 GS. I was off to discover the Plank Road and ride as much of Historic U.S. Route 80 as possible from Yuma to San Diego.

Plank Road
The Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge is the impressive opening act to the Yuma to San Diego trek. The bridge spans the Colorado River, and its 1915 completion date coincides with the Plank Road. Its name indicates its importance in the nationwide, transcontinental Ocean-to-Ocean Highway.

Yuma to El Centro – in Search of the Plank Road

The sun-drenched starting point of my ride was the history-rich city of Yuma, Arizona. Now snowbirds in massive RVs converge on the city in winter like their winged migratory counterparts. However, Yuma was once a centerpiece of the Old West, and has been a transportation hub of the Southwest for more than one hundred years.

I began my trek west at the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge, which spans the Colorado River in north Yuma. Now on the National Historical Register, the bridge was completed in 1915, which coincides with the early years of the Plank Road. The area directly surrounding the bridge is home to a cluster of historical sites. The Yuma Territorial Prison, which sits directly adjacent to the bridge, was an intriguing walk back into the rough-and-tumble Old West. The close-by Colorado River State Historic Park dates back to the late 19th century and preserves a small number of the Plank Road timbers in a display.

After riding over the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge, a quick left turn placed me immediately on Historic U.S. 80. The road took me by crumpling adobe structures, over the All-American Canal and through the sandy desert. Whereas nearby I-8 is smooth, wide and boring, Historic U.S. 80 is narrow, cracked, undulating and entertaining. It requires attention and a bit of slaloming to avoid jarring reminders that it is a historic route. The long suspension on the BMW was tailor-made for the unpredictable road conditions.

Plank Road
A ride on Historic U.S. 80 requires vigilance. Sand drifts, potholes and crumbling margins speak to its relegation to secondary status.

After this opening act of my Historic U.S. 80 tour, I rejoined I-8 for a bit. Portions of Historic U.S. 80 are relegated to spur status–they “spur” off of the interstate but terminate without rejoining the new route. One such spur is Grays Well Road.

The Grays Well section of the original route is now a well-paved ingress into the Imperial Sand Dunes portion of the larger geological feature known as the Algodones Dunes. These dunes are what made the Plank Road necessary in the early 1900s. After enjoying a short, beautiful ride through shining sand hills, I came to the site that contains the longest and best-preserved portion of the Old Plank Road.

What I found was a stretch of the Old Plank Road that spans the equivalent of about five football fields in length. The road is protected from potential damage by off-road vehicles with metal, sand-worthy barriers, but visitors can touch and walk the Plank Road section. The road is intriguing. It has weathered and rusted into a heaving work of art.

Plank Road
One can almost hear the rhythmic thumping of Model T tires when visiting the protected section of the wood Plank Road. The vast majority of nearby interstate travelers have no idea that this historic relic even exists.

So why was the timber road ever built? Quite simply, it was commercially important to have a direct route here from the growing and thriving San Diego coastal area to the west. While asphalt and concrete road building techniques of the time worked reasonably well on the harder surfaces of the area directly east of the coast, the shifting sands of the Algodones Dunes posed a huge quandary for road builders.

San Diego businessman Ed Fletcher was the driving force that ultimately led to the construction of the Plank Road. That bumpy, ever-changing, maintenance-intensive endeavor continued as the transportation solution for crossing more than six miles of the dunes from 1915 through 1926.

Plank RoadI walked, touched and studied the Plank Road in solitude. Not a single soul even drove by in the substantial time I spent in the surreal dunes. When I finally pulled myself away, I took another short ride on the interstate before jumping back on Historic U.S. 80 toward the California towns of Holtville and El Centro. The long, straight stretch of the historic road gave me time to ruminate on the Plank Road and the challenges of early travelers.

Much of Historic U.S. 80 runs parallel with and in close proximity to the interstate, but it is worlds apart in terms of traffic and fun. There are remnants and ruins of structures that were left to languish in the desert heat when traffic was rerouted to the newer and faster interstate.

Historic U.S. 80 runs through the hearts of both Holtville and El Centro, as both were supremely important to the commerce and trade of the time. Either of these cities can serve as a gas and food stop on this route; I found a hotel in El Centro just off the Historic U.S. 80 route.

Plank Road
The Cleveland National Forest spans 460,000 acres of desert and chaparral.

Ocotillo to Laguna Junction – on the Winding Road

While fascinating and historically rich, the prior day’s ride was, for the most part, straight. Motorcyclists, by nature, love curves and that is what this next leg of my ride on Historic U.S. 80 had to offer.

After a breakfast of huevos rancheros in El Centro, I made my way to Ocotillo. After rolling through the town, named after a type of cactus, I rode a nicely curvy stretch of I-8 until I came to the exit for the Desert View Tower. The tall, eclectic stone structure, which dates back to the time of the Plank Road, sits on another Historic U.S. 80 spur west of the interstate.

After a short visit to the tower, I crossed the interstate to the south onto a long, intact loop of Historic U.S. 80. The road is instantly winding and remains coiled for miles of highly entertaining riding. The little desert oasis town of Jacumba Hot Springs is home to its namesake spring, a few colorful buildings and a clothing-optional resort. I am sure to everyone’s delight I opted to stay clothed and keep riding.

Plank Road
The GS is right at home with several brethren outside the Jacumba Spa Restaurant.

At a few points along the route, the tall international border “wall” could be seen to the south and there were sporadic signs warning that the region is subject to illegal drug trafficking. However, from the rolling perspective of a motorcycle saddle, there is a slow-paced calm to the area.

I rode through several small clusters of humanity and miles of unspoiled nature toward the Campo Indian Reservation and the Cleveland National Forest. The road conditions are variable and there are sections of concrete as well as reasonably maintained asphalt. However, from a pure riding perspective, I found this to be the most entertaining stretch of the route.

Plank Road
The Jacumba section just north of the U.S./Mexico border is the most curvy and entertaining of the ride.

Laguna Junction to the Beautiful Balboa Park

At Laguna Junction, Historic U.S. 80 runs north of the interstate for a while as it winds to the west. I passed through the small towns of Guatay and Descanso Junction, and the increased elevation of 4,000 feet brought with it a nice mix of oak and pine trees. Where Historic U.S. 80 melds back into I-8, I could see several now impassable portions of the old road in the mountains to my right.

From this point on through Alpine, El Cajon and La Mesa, Historic U.S. 80 flirts with and becomes the interstate and other roads intermittently. The ride in this stretch was much more frenetic and filled with traffic than the rest of the route, and rolled through historic commercial districts and residential communities as the ride became increasingly urban.

Plank Road
The entrance of the stunning Balboa Park is an impressive foreshadowing of the treasures within.

After several miles of this suburban jockeying, I rolled to the end of my tour as I entered the stunningly beautiful Balboa Park. The “Jewel of San Diego” spells the approximate end of the Historic U.S. 80, and a perfect end to the ride. The lush natural environment combined with fantastic museums and entertainment venues like the Old Globe Theater make Balboa one of the most delightful parks in the Southwest.

My final stop was the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park, which houses a nice collection of historic motorcycles alongside vintage and unique cars and trucks. Fittingly, the museum features a creative display dedicated to the Old Plank Road, which brings it to life and provides a fine overview of this significant part of transportation history.

Plank Road
The San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park features a current exhibition that brings the Plank Road to life.
Plank Road
Historic photos and staged exhibits in the museum show the wonders and challenges of crossing the Imperial Dunes.

Riding Considerations

Being a desert region, this ride is best made from fall to spring. The summer months are sweltering. Road conditions are extremely variable as there are sections of both asphalt and concrete. Potholes, sand and some broken tarmac should be expected. For a detailed series of route maps, visit


Island Classic 2019 International Challenge | Yanks are coming!

Island Classic 2019
International Challenge
Team USA

Fans of January’s Island Classic, the big historic bike meet at Phillip Island, get ready because the Yanks are coming! An aggressive recruitment drive by Team America has bolstered its stocks for the three-nation shootout, the 2019 International Challenge, with first swords drawn in preparation for a battle royale come January 25-27.

Jason Pridmore - 2018 Island Classic - TBG Image
Jason Pridmore – 2018 Island Classic – TBG Image

After finishing third in 2018, Team America will be out to push defending champion Australia all the way with their crack squad announced today. Former AMA and FIM Endurance champion, Jason Pridmore, returns after his top five finishes last January, and he brings with him a massive talent bank led by four-time AMA Superbike champion, Josh Hayes.

Monster Energy Graves Yamaha's Josh Hayes talks tyres with Dunlop development engineer Tom Grolman during a two-day test at Thunderhill Raceway. Photo By Paul Carruthers.
Monster Energy Graves Yamaha’s Josh Hayes talks tyres with Dunlop development engineer Tom Grolman in 2015 – Image P. Carruthers

The US corner is strengthened further with a bunch of ace riders including Larry Pegram, Steve Rapp and Dale Quarterley.

Larry Pegram when competing in the AMA Superbike Championship in season 2000

Aussie expatriate Rennie Scaysbrook – a motorcycle journalist who’s been living, and racing successfully, in America for a number of years has also joined the US squad. Turncoat bastard….  🙂 

Pegram AMA AN
Larry Pegram in 2009 – Image by AJRN

Josh Hayes, 43, dominated the AMA superbike title in the early part of this decade for the Yamaha factory squad, claiming the number one spot from 2010-2012 before winning again in 2014.

Josh Hayes
Josh Hayes on his way to Superpole at VIR in 2015

Hayes also finished seventh in the season-ending MotoGP race at Valencia in 2011 as a replacement for injured compatriot Colin Edwards, while Rapp has also tasted action in the biggest league of all when he rode in the 2012 Indy round of the MotoGP title.

Hayes GP AN
Josh Hayes finished seventh in the season-ending MotoGP race at Valencia in 2011 as a replacement for injured compatriot Colin Edwards – Image by AJRN

Rapp, Pegram and Quarterley were also staples of the AMA scene for many years, with Quarterley one of only a handful of riders to win a superbike race as privateer after also winning the AMA BOTT Wins Championship in 1988. The now 57-year-old turned his talents to car racing when he retired from two-wheel competition, but recently won a major classic motorcycle race at Sonoma in California.

A large contingent of the American squad will be riding machines prepared by Mojo Yamaha, which is a motorcycle racing team focused on classic Yamahas with engine builder, Larry Cook, and chassis expert, Denis Curtis, the helm. Fans can find out more at

The engines are a mix of oversized FJ1100 four-strokes and TZ750 two-strokes, housed in frames produced by CMR Racing.

Mojo Yamaha
A line up of Mojo Yamaha machines on their way to the 2019 Island Classic

“Immediately following the 2018 International Challenge, the build and preparation of the bikes for 2019 got underway,” said Team America riding captain Dave Crussell. “The goal is to engineer the most reliable bikes while keeping them as close to identical in build as possible.

“For 2019, we have five CMR/FJs and two TZ750s. These Yamahas have proven to be the best possible fit for Mojo Yamaha and should offer the most competitive advantage in our quest to win the event.”

America will compete against Australia and New Zealand in the 15th running of the International Challenge, which has hosted some of the most cut-throat racing ever seen at the 4.45km grand prix circuit. Each team can field up to 13 riders for their national squad.

The International Challenge is reserved for bikes manufactured between 1973 and 1984. There will be four six-lap races to decide the winner, with recognition for the highest individual scorer through the Ken Wootton Memorial Trophy.

Australia has already named its team (Link): 2018 individual winner David Johnson, Jed Metcher, Steve Martin, Shawn Giles, Beau Beaton, Cam Donald, Dean Oughtred, Aaron Morris, Paul Byrne, Craig Ditchburn and Scott Webster. The New Zealand team will be named next week.

And in a first for the International Challenge, the 2019 event will be filmed for a two-hour television program to be broadcast in UK and Europe, USA and Canada, S.E. Asia, and in Australia on Foxsports and SBS in February.

The Island Classic, now in its 26th year, isn’t just about the International Challenge, though, with the event a pilgrimage for so many riders and spectators as they celebrate a century of motorcycling. There will be 56 races held across the weekend, catering for pre-WW1 bikes through to Vintage (1920-1945), Classic and Post Classic (from 1946 to 1972) and the more recent Forgotten Era and New Era classes.

The rider who scores the most points across the non-International Challenge races will be awarded the prestigious Phil Irving Perpetual Trophy. Over 500 bikes will either be racing or on display.

Island Classic 2019
International Challenge – Team USA

  • Wade Boyd – Moto Guzzi Le Mans – 1988
  • David Crussell – Yamaha TZ750 – 1978
  • Michael Gilbert – Yamaha FJ1100 – 1983
  • Jorge Guerrero – Suzuki XR69 – 1982
  • Joshua Hayes – Yamaha FJ – 1983
  • Bruce Lind – Yamaha TZ750 – 1975
  • Eric Lindauer – Kawasaki KZ – 1980
  • Barrett Long – Kawasaki Harris – 1982
  • Martin Morrison – Suzuki RGB500 MK7 – 1982
  • Larry Pegram – Yamaha FJ1100 – 1983
  • Joe Pethoud – Yamaha Harris F1 – 1984
  • Jason Pridmore – Yamaha FJ1200 – 1983
  • Dale Quarterley – Suzuki XR69 – 1984
  • Steve Rapp – Yamaha – CMR FJ 1100
  • Robert Ruwoldt – Harris Kawasaki – 1980
  • Rennie Scaysbrook – Suzuki GSX1100 XR69 – 1980

Tickets now on sale

Tickets are now on sale at A three-day adult ticket, purchased in advance, is just $82, and free for children 15 and under (accompanied by a full-paying adult). Packaged with four night camping the cost for a four-day weekend away is $164* for event entry and camping.

*All prices quoted are advance tickets. Advance ticket sales end midday Wednesday, January 23, 2019. Buy advance and save. Gate ticket prices are additional. Kids classified as age 15 and under.


Royal Flying Doctor Service warns of roos

Riders heading into the Outback this Christmas should be aware of the dangers of hitting kangaroos, says the Royal Flying Doctor Service whose planes have even hit them. 

“The roo problem is significant as they come to the edges of the road to graze in the current drought conditions,” a spokeswoman for the RFDS NSW/ACT says.

“Road accidents as a result are on the increase and we have communicated safety advice internally to our teams, and have suffered roo strikes on our landing aircraft.

“It is a major cause of concern right now and a lot of regional communities, such as Hay, are running safety and awareness programs.

“Dusk and dawn are problematic and we have advised our team when driving to brake in a straight line when faced with hitting one, not to swerve to avoid hitting them in which case the accident can become much more serious,” the RFDS spokeswoman says.

Click here to find out what other animals are a danger to riders

Click here to find out how to avoid becoming roadkill.

outback adventure Royal Flying Doctor Service

The uniquely Australian service attends a “significant” number of rescues of riders involved in motorcycle crashes in remote parts of our Outback.

They say their emergency services are allocated based on a range of factors such as availability and location.

“Motorcyclists should call 000 in event of an accident and the call will be directed to the appropriate medical team,” a spokeswoman says.

“It is also possible to call the RFDS directly on (08) 8080 1188 in the event of illness or an accident if they are in a particularly remote location.

“It’s a good idea for riders to keep this number on them as a back-up. Anyone who rings us on our emergency line will be triaged by our doctor and the appropriate response initiated.”

Ambulance costs

In the wake of our article about the possibly massive expense of an ambulance callout, the good news for riders is that Royal Flying Doctor Service is free!

There is no cost to the user for RFDS medical services or flights if that is what is used,” she says.

However, riders should still be aware that there is a cost if an ambulance is called.

It’s not required to cover RFDS services but private health cover is recommended in case an ambulance attends, rather than the RFDS,” she says.

“There are costs associated with being picked up by an ambulance.”Outback adventure Royal Flying Doctor Service

Chopper squad

Helicopter services such as LifeFlight and Careflight are based on the coast and only have a flying range of an hour.

Likewise, location and distances have a lot to do with whether ambulance or RFDS attend an accident.

As a result, which service attends in accident has a lot to do with the geographical location the accident occurred. 

Royal Flying Doctor Service top Outback tips

The RFDS website features a Travelling Outback section which has a handy checklist for riders:

  • Get good quality maps (paper and GPS) and plan your route.
  • Don’t travel in the hottest part of the year.
  • Be aware of kangaroos and emus. 
  • Be careful not to pack too much. It makes the bike heavy and difficult to control in soft sand, mud and gravel.
  • Store water in small containers instead of one large tank to spread the load. Check all water containers for leaks. In very hot conditions aim to carry 10 litres of water per person per day and don’t rely on waterholes, dams, bores, mills, tanks or troughs for water. A back-up vehicle is ideal for extreme Outback adventures.
  • Take a summary of your medical history with you and bring all medication and repeat scripts.

    ice emergcency USB flying
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  • Pack a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • In an emergency, dial 000 and be prepared to give your location. If you own a smartphone download the Emergency + app which gives your longitude and latitude. It will help emergency services such as the RFDS to find you. If you don’t have a smartphone, keep an eye on the crossroads as you travel and mark your journey on a map. Be aware that some very remote areas have no mobile coverage so pack an EPIRB or satellite phone.outback adventure Royal Flying Doctor Service

The RFDS SE also recommends that people travelling to remote areas do a first-aid course and carry a kit with them. 

Motorbike Writer recommends doing a motorcycle-specific course such as First Aid for Motorcyclists.

The RFDS also has a Fast First Aid booklet with advice for people with no medical training on how to manage first-aid situations. It includes managing a heart attack, snake bites, choking, burns and severe bleeding. 

It is free in NSW and ACT only. To receive your copy text ‘NOW’ to 0428 044 444. Delivery may be slightly delayed over the holiday period.


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