Saturday, October 31, 2009



Dear TRAIL ZONE: Thought I would send you a couple of pics from a few Saturdays ago. Here is my son Jacob (RM125) and his great riding mate Luke (TT350) pulling a few wheelies at Willowvale on the Gold Coast.  Jacob is the one flying like a flag off the back of the RM125.  He said he was just hoping it would come back down.  It did - just not with him on it -- ha!!! (no injuries - lucky).  Anyhow just shows you how much fun two 15-year-olds can have on a Saturday afternoon.  Just being on two wheels ... er ... make that one!!! 
-- Chris Clayton, via

Thanks for the pix, Chris -- we've published the shot of Jacob right here, so he'll be stoked to see that. His landing looks like it would have been a ripper? Did he rip the butt right out of his nylons or what!
-- Clubby, 

Thursday, October 29, 2009



Hi Dr Phil: I have a 2006 Suzuki DR-Z400E, that I bought second-hand in May 2009 with 3,800km. It's a good clean bike in stock form (I think). My issue is that it has a big flat-spot off idle and I have found this to stall the bike on the odd occasion. I have screwed the idle up to help stop it from happening, but it still really bugs me ... not to mention the fast idle on steep downhills! This bike still has the original muffler (will upgrade to a TK Pipes muffler when funds permit) and I run a premium fuel and always a clean Twin-Air filter. I gave the bike a full service when I bought it and it now has approx 4,800km on it. I still run the stock gearing 14/47. I want to know: 1. Are there any carb adjustments I can make to improve the flat-spot, as I read in mags about clip changes etc? 2. There are a couple of carb kits on the market (JD etc), do these fix the problem or give better performance? Are they worth it? Please note that I do not need extra performance (but wouldn't complain if it was given), as I would much prefer to keep fuel range for longer distance trips. I have a crap load of TRAIL ZONE back issues but I did not see that you touched the carb on your project DR-Z. What's your opinion?
-- Tim Stone, via

Thanks for your email, Tim. All the DR-Zs that we’ve had as test bikes and long-term Project Bikes have been de-restricted before they reach us. So first of all, check with a dealer what de-restrictions are required and check that these tasks have all been done to your bike. That's why we never even mentioned the jetting on our last DR-Z400E Project Bike -- it ran perfect as it came to us, and never even needed touching after installing the TK Pipes muffler. But, back to your bike: here are a few issues you should get into: Start by unscrewing the carby drain plug and keep the plug upright when you remove it. Look into the plug and see if there’s a droplet of water in there. Then turn the fuel tap on and flush some fuel through the carby with the plug removed, just be sure to have the bike standing straight up for this, not leaning over on the side-stand. Also remove the fuel tank and flush it out into a clean bucket, and again look for any crap laying on the bottom of the bucket. Check for tightness of the clamp that holds the carby onto the rubber manifold, as an air leak in front of the carb can give a flat-spot. When the fuel tank is removed, open up the top of the carby and remove the needle, write its number down and count which clip position the clip is in, as a dealer will ask you what the needle number is and where the clip is positioned. Also buy a brand new spark plug and fit that, so you’ll know that isn’t the problem. I don’t know of any common issues that this bike has with regards to a flat-spot, but it sounds like something has happened during the time someone else has owned the bike. As for the JD jet/needle kit, yes they can offer cleaner running but I feel you need to sort this issue first, otherwise you’ll fell disappointed if you get the JD kit and the problem is still there. Let us know how you go after doing all of the above, Tim. I also assume that you’re not just twisting the throttle on too quickly: remember that DR-Zs and many trail thumpers won’t rev up as sharply as a two stroke will! Good luck! 
-- Dr Phil.

Monday, October 26, 2009



Hi Guys: I have a a quick question about the G'day From LA Flinders Ranges ride article in TRAIL ZONE issue #26, as I am thinking about buying an adventure bike, the question is, which one? You indicated that Iron Man Ron rode from Wilpena to Cameron Corner. How was he carrying fuel and how much did he carry? I assume he went to Lyndhurst then up the Strzelecki Track.

-- Rob Cormack, via


Hello Rob: I fuelled up in Hawker then did a top-up at Arkaroola and went up through Mount Hopeless to get to the Strezlecki Track. Normally I could ride all the way to Cameron Corner on one tank of fuel but on that trip I was having some fuel consumption issues due to a worn needle jet (almost 60,000km on the clock, so it's time for a new needle jet). The Safari tank on my DR650 now holds 36 litres -- they just tend to stretch a bit after a period of time. Best I have got is 750km on a tank. Having had a 640 KTM Adventure, NX650 Honda plus two Transalps and one Varadero and now a new Tenere, the DR has got to be the best bike ever made for this type of riding. It's cheap, bullet-proof and they go great.

-- Ron Grant, via

Hi Ron: Thanks, that is a long way! But it give me a great knowledge of the distance and what is necessary. I’m currently looking at the BMW 1200GS, but it at least indicates that I must carry fuel.  The plan is Sydney, Cameron Corner, Arkaroola, Cooper Pedy, to Alice.  My biggest concern was the Cameron Corner to Arkaroola leg, but you have given me a good idea of how much fuel is required. I would imagine it very much depends on the state of the roads. Many thanks, it's great to have conformation

-- Rob Cormack, via

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hi Doctor Phil: I am following the Top-Ten Yamaha WR250R Set-Up Tips from issue #24 of TRAIL ZONE and I cannot remove the right pillion peg. Fortunately you mentioned in the magazine that is mounted with high-grade Loctite, otherwise I would be desperate. But I have already put so much force that I have already twisted one allen key and am afraid of rounding the bolt and make things even worse. Any tricks or is brute force the only solution?
-- Pablo, via
Thanks for your email, Pablo. The trick is to get hold of a hot-air gun from a hardware store or equipment hire shop and blast that bolt with PLENTY of heat, then have a new, high-quality allen key ready with something to go on the end of it for extra leverage. Hold heavy but slow force on the bolt as you try to undo it, just don’t get all excited in a hurry or you’ll round out the fastener’s head. Heat undoes the Loctite, so with that trick you should get it undone. Good luck!
-- Dr Phil.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009



The 41st Tokyo Motor Show fired into life in Japan today, and while first reports from the event suggest the ranks of exhibitors and trick new models were decidedly thin (thanks in no small part to the impact of the Global Financial Crisis), the Yamaha stand did display one special treat for big-bore adventure bike fans.

Taking pride of place on the Yamaha exhibit was this special Super Tenere concept bike, which gives a hint of a new big-bore twin cylinder Yamaha adventure bike that certainly suggests it is aimed fair and square at the BMW R 1200 GS market.

Here's a first news report on the relaunched Super Tenere from British publication, Motorcycle News:

"Yamaha has shocked the Tokyo Motor Show crowds by unveiling a concept version of the new Super Tenere which is due for release next year.

"Weirdly, the concept bike is made of cloth, though it does give a tantalising glimpse of what the Japanese firm will be bringing to production next year.

"Highlights include a 1200cc parallel twin engine with shaft drive, traction control, ABS with three modes, linked brakes, side mounted radiators and a 270 degree crank (like the TDM).

"MCN has already found trademark applications filed by Yamaha lodging the Super Tenere name for use. It’s not thought this bike will be shown before the middle or late 2010 to go on sale later that year.

"All of the Japanese firms are anxious to get a slice of the adventure bike market so gripped by the sales success of the BMW R1200GS. It looks like Yamaha will be the first to get a bike to production."

Stay tuned for more news on the Super Tenere's return in coming months.

-- Clubby,

Sunday, October 18, 2009


TRAIL ZONE issue #26 is out and taking pride of place on newsagents’ shelves across Australia from today – but subscribers have already seen it land in their mailboxes in the past week.

Once again the new issue of TRAIL ZONE is packed with a feast of reading on trail, enduro and adventure bike riding.

This issue of TRAIL ZONE kicks off with a Launch Ride Report on the 2010 range of KTM EXC off-road bikes, plus we’ve stopped-the-presses to squeeze in the first test-ride review of Yamaha’s much anticipated and long awaited new Tenere adventure bike.

There’s coverage of the high-speed Australasian Safari in WA, our latest epic outback ride through the Flinders Ranges and a quick rip with The Trailriders at Sussex Inlet on the NSW south coast. 

On the technical front Dr Phil checks in with tips on how to bleed your brakes and a feast of advice on what’s inside your engine cases, while we also deliver the latest round of set-up tips for our Kawasaki KLX450R and Husky TE610 Project Bikes. Meantime for all you Suzuki DR650 riders, we've caught up with Team Shift Motul Suzuki race team boss Jay Foreman to check out his ultimate DR650 build-up -- it's awesome!

Another big part of this new issue is our annual CHOOSE YOUR RIDE subscription promotion. 

We’ve given away no less than eight new dirt bikes over the past five years and it’s time for us to do it again in our massive CHOOSE YOUR RIDE promotion.

One lucky subscriber to TRAIL ZONE will be plucked from the barrel to take their choice of a five bike prize line-up of red-hot trail/enduro machines that include the Husqvarna TE450, Kawasaki KLX450R, KTM 300 EXC-E, Suzuki DR-Z400E and Yamaha WR450F. 

It’s the ultimate magazine subscriber deal and the lucky winner gets to choose their ride! 

For full details check out TRAIL ZONE issue #26 and view the web site.

-- Clubby,

Saturday, October 17, 2009



To notch up 25 years in business is a major landmark by any measure, and this past week marked precisely that milestone in the history of Aussie off-road product brand Barkbusters.

And to mark the occasion, Barkbusters boss Matthew Phillpott invited a select number of members of the now global Barkbusters family to congregate at Bateman's Bay on the NSW south coast for a mighty two days of dirt bike riding good times!

Dr Phil and I were honoured to be on the invite list and rolled into the Bay late last Monday night to find the celebrations in full swing. 

In the house were a myriad of Barkbusters staffers (the company now employs a dozen workers at its Wollongong, NSW, production plant), Aussie state Barkbusters distributors and a handful of international Barkbusters importers from markets as diverse as Greece, Holland, the UK and the USA.

And taking pride of place alongside Matthew and his wife Di, the current owners of the Barkbusters brand, was company founder and dead-set Aussie enduro legend, Ted Goddard and his wife Anne.

Ted created the Barkbusters brand in the early 1980s and lodged the Barkbusters trademark in 1984 ... and the rest, as they say, is history!

When Ted and Anne sold the business to Matthew and Di almost 15 years later, the company was turning out around 2,500 units a year. Today, with a wider product range and extensive international marketing, Barkbusters produces just on 20,000 units a year.

The Barkbusters 25th Anniversary event included two days of primo riding on the NSW south coast, with the rides split into two groups: a trail posse lead by local KTM Trail Tours trail boss Lindsay Bond and his crew, while another group mounted on adventure bikes was lead by yet another Aussie enduro legend and now NSW south coast local, Chris Cater.

Two days of riding provided untold hours of post-ride bench racing, but the biggest thrill of all for those in attendance was the official dinner on Tuesday night, which saw an emotional Ted and a proud-as-punch Matthew cut the ceremonial 25th anniversary cake and toast the next 25 years of Barkbusters.

Proudly Australian and locally made, Barkbusters is an iconic Aussie brand that leads the world in the area of flight deck protection for trail, enduro and adventure bike riders -- and here at TRAIL ZONE we salute their achievements.

Ride on Barkbusters!

Look out for our story on the Barkbusters 25th Anniversary celebrations in TRAIL ZONE issue #27.

-- Clubby,

Saturday, October 10, 2009



Some days you just have pinch yourself to be sure you're not dreaming.

Last Wednesday was one of those days.

I'd rolled into Mittagong in the Southern Highlands just south of Sydney to hook up with one of the best blokes in the Australian motorcycle accessory importing game, Graeme Baynes from Honda Australia, who is the big chief of Honda's motorcycle spares and accessories department.

Ages ago we were chatting about how we were itching to get out for a ride, so long story short, Baynesee got on the blower to Glenn Hoffman from the GHR Honda race team to enquire about the possibility of getting hold of a couple of Hondas for us to take out for a 'spin'.

Faster than you could say, 'X marks the spot', Hoffo dished up the keys to not one but two of his most treasured race bikes of all: the CRF450X that Jacob Smith used to win the Australian Safari this year, and the CRF450X that Ben Grabham raced to victory in the Safari last year.

That's right: Australia's meanest, fastest and gnarliest CRF450Xs were ours for the taking ... on ya Baynesee!

So last Wednesday morning we bowled up to the GHR race team HQ like a couple of wide-eyed pups who couldn't believe their luck. 

Hoffo promptly wheeled out the pair of mighty red devils (which are still in the exact same spec as when they crossed the finish line in their respective Safaris), gave us a tech briefing of all of three minutes and then said, "Righto, have fun and we'll see you when you get back tomorrow!"

Woo hoo!

Baynesee and I promptly took off across to Wombeyan Caves and up to Taralga, where the weather turned absolutely ugly, in the form of rain and howling gales. We grabbed a dog's eye at the cafe in the main drag of Taralga, pulled on the wet weather gear and got set for a cold run all the way north via the forests to Oberon.

As it turned out, cold proved to be an understatement.

As we hammered north up Nerrong Road, the cloud cover dropped, then deepened, then started absolutely dumping its guts with snow. Yep, snow!

And this was full-on, white Christmas, freeze-your-cods-off snow! In the middle of October! Go figure.

By the time we got past Mount Werrong the white-out was getting worse and worse, so we peeled off west to the tarmac and headed to Black Springs, where the roof of an old servo allowed us to take some respite and get out of the snow and warm our hands against the header pipes as the GHR Honda Safari weapons idled contentedly. 

As freezing cold as we were, we just couldn't help but note the irony that we were riding Australia's ultimate Australian Safari race bikes -- desert bikes -- through a snow-storm! 

As the snow pelted down we had no option but to climb back aboard the bikes and knock over the last 30km into Oberon, where the Big Trout Motel awaited. We couldn't get there fast enough -- the only problem was, the faster you went, the more the frost-bite from the wind-chill bit into your finger-tips.

Making the motel was a sense of relief and we spent the next 90 minutes locked in the room, fighting over the radiator and blower heater to dry out our gear and get some feeling back into our toes and fingers. 

As legend NZ trail boss, Joe Forsyth from High Country Trail, once told me, "Riding in snow is fun, but only for the first 30 minutes -- after that you just freeze!"

Thankfully the next day delivered a whole bunch better weather and Baynesee and I enjoyed a ripper day's ride in the forests surrounding Oberon before taking aim back to Mittagong the same way we had come. Along the way Baynesee managed to get his trusty Canon cameras out and shoot a veritable gigabyte of photos of the thundering red rockets doing their thing.

Now, the Honda Safari bikes are absolute weapons, that's the only way to describe them. The roll-on power of the engines just have to be experienced to be believed (they pull like 650s!), while the suspension on Jacob's bike is bone-hard -- that's the only description for it! It's made for hitting gutters, ditches and obstacles at 100kmh-plus all day long.

The bikes are also decked out to within an inch of their lives in set-ups, mods and fine-tuning preps that really set the GHR Honda team apart from the pack. Winning a Safari is one thing, but being the winningest team in Safari history just speaks volumes of the capabilities of Hoffo and the entire GHR team.

After almost 450km over the two days we rolled back into the GHR Honda workshop grinning like cats that caught a couple of canaries. We had been absolutely privileged to be given free-reign on two of Honda Australia's most decorated CRF450X race bikes, and we knew it.

Thanks for the ride, Hoffo, and thanks to everyone at Honda for giving us the green-light. 

Look out for the full story on the GHR Honda CRF450X Australian Safari-winning race bikes in TRAIL ZONE issue #27, on-sale in mid-December.

-- Clubby,

Thursday, October 8, 2009



Just when our good ol' mate Wattsy was looking all set to make a triumphant return to the international dirt bike racing stage at this month's ISDE in Portugal, things went pear-shape for him a week ago when a low-speed practice tumble for one of his Dirt Wise Riding Schools left him in hospital in the USA with some potentially serious spine injuries.

Here's the news direct from Wattsy himself:

"G'day Everyone,

"Thanks for the outstanding support I have received from everyone since I crashed last Thursday while setting-up for a Dirt Wise school near Kansas City. Pretty much is was just one of those dumb, slow crashes at only about 5mph (which probably should not have even happened). Anyway, as I went off a three-metre high creek bank the engine stalled, which resulted in an abrupt endo and trip over the hangers. I landed sprawled-out flat on the creek bed and the bike proceeded to have an intense, direct impact on my spinal column just below my shoulder blades. This resulted in three broken ribs, but more importantly multiple fractures to the six vertebrae between T3 and T8.

"Following several days of hospitalisation in Kansas City and a flight back to Charlotte, NC, to see our specialists here, there were conflicting opinions about the severity of the injury and the best option for total recovery. With more consulting today it was determined that one on the vertebrae had started to collaspe and that surgery was the only option.

"Therefore I'll be heading in tomorrow (Thursday Oct 8) for surgery to have the fractured vertebrae fused together. I'll spend approximately three days in hospital for observation and pain management but then will be able to walk on out of there and begin light, everyday activities as I continue to heal. Following about three months of recovery and rehab the specialist says I'll be ready to get back out on the trails again and get into it!

"So, again, thanks heaps to everyone for their emails of support as we really appreciate that. We will post updates to our website every few days following the surgery to let those who are interested know what my progress is. 
"Also, check us out on Facebook for additional updates-just search "Shane Watts" and become a fan.

"I can tell you though that I am pretty disappointed that this injury prevented us from attending the ISDE (Six Days) in Portugal, from Oct 12-17. I was planning on making this my last-ever ISDE. Unfortunately this is not the ending I was looking for...."

-- Wattsy,

Sunday, October 4, 2009



When you work in the publishing game, there's no cry you love hearing more than, 'Stop the presses!'

It's a big call to make, because stopping the presses costs money, big money ... so you only do it when something big is up. 

When Yamaha Motor Australia called late last week and invited TRAIL ZONE to take a test ride on the mighty new XTZ660 Tenere, just as we were on final deadline for TRAIL ZONE issue #26, well, it was time make the biggest call of all and 'Stop the presses!'

Here at TRAIL ZONE we're hard-core Tenere fans -- hey, name me another dirt bike magazine editor that has an original '83 XT600ZL Tenere parked in their garage? There ain't one!

But I do, and I am on record as describing myself as a Tenere tragic. I wear that badge with pride. 

So as soon as as the new Tenere finally became available to test ride, we grabbed a pair of the shiny French-made adventure mounts and took aim up and over the Blue Mountains to Capertee, the Turon River, Sofala and an overnight stop at the famed Royal Hotel at Hill End, before coming home via the Bridle Track, Bathurst and Tarana the next morning.

We nailed down precisely 505km on the ride, and first impressions are the new Tenere is a ripper all-day big-mile adventure machine. 

It's comfy, it's fast (faster than I expected), it feels nowhere near as heavy as the specs suggest and the suspension action is plush and compliant -- though we did wind up the spring preload at both ends as soon as we hit the dirt at Zig Zag Railway and took aim down Blackfellow's Hand Trail.

And the other thing is, the Tenere is built as tough as a brick outhouse. All you blokes who love taking the kitchen sink with you on those outback rides, this bike will carry it with ease.

At $13,999 plus ORC the new Tenere is appreciably more expensive than other Japanese single cylinder adventure machines such as the Kawasaki KLR650 and Suzuki DR650, but there is no question you get appreciably more machine for your adventure riding dollar.

The Tenere has already landed on local Yamaha showroom floors and given there's been an almost two-year wait for the bike to finally make it to Australia, patient Tenere fans who have had their deposits down for ages are right about now taking delivery of their new pride and joy and heading for the wide blue yonder. 

And the Tenere is the perfect bike for doing precisely that.

We're in the queue for a long-term test Yamaha Tenere Project Bike and you can rest assured we'll be racking up the big miles as soon as 'our' Tenere touches down in the TRAIL ZONE workshop. 

In the meantime, you can look out for our first test-ride report on the XTZ660 Tenere in TRAIL ZONE issue #26, which is being printed right now and will go out in the mail at the end of next week to subscribers.

Long live the Tenere!

-- Clubby,

Thursday, October 1, 2009



Our old mate Mark 'Firko' Firkin dropped us a line today, asking everyone in the industry to help a fallen brother, namely vintage MX racer Noel Clarke. Here's the letter from Firko, so check it out and weigh in with your support when you can:

Well known Bendigo, Victoria, vintage racer Noel Clarke is in the spinal clinic of Royal Melbourne Hospital after a nasty racing accident a month ago. Sadly, Noel is now a quadriplegic with a break to his T3 vertabra and other severe injuries. Surgeons have fused his spinal vertabrae from T2 through T5 to protect the damaged area and Noel now faces a long, painful and expensive recuperation period. I've spoken to his brother, Tony Clarke, this morning and he reports that Noel is scooting around the ward in an electric wheelchair which nurses have had to have two of its three-speeds blanked off to slow him down! 
Noel's attitude is reportedly extremely positive and being a Clarke you can bet he's itching to get out of hospital to resume his life in as normal a way as his injuries will allow. One of the keys to Noel's future being as active as possible is resting on his ability to get around. He's a shearing contractor with the need to have access to shearing sheds and other farm terrain. To do that he's going to need the best wheelchair available and that's where Klub Kevlar and Darren Hill come into the picture. As well as being a racer, Darren Hill is the Australian distributor for the amazing Levo wheelchair system. These chairs allow the owner to stand and live a far more active life than the simple bog standard chair. As with most groundbreaking innovation, technology costs money, which will put a hefty financial burden on the Clarke family. In an amazingly generous gesture, Darren has offered to provide Noel with a Levo C3 wheelchair for cost. This offers a considerable cost saving to the family but as I wrote, the chairs are cutting edge technology and therefore still very expensive. That's where Klub Kevlar comes in.
A number of us are good friends of Noel and even though he's in Victoria and we're in Sydney, we felt we had to do something. The first step was to bring Darren and Levo Australia on board and the next step is to set up a program of fundraising activities to enable the family to purchase the Levo wheelchair.
Our first effort will be a Show'n'Shine tentatively called the Klub Kevlar Show'N'Shine, Noel Clarke Benefit that's to be held at the beautiful and historic Alroy Tavern in Plumpton. The Alroy was chosen because it is set on a couple of acres of park-like landscape, with ample area for displaying our vintage bikes and for its close proximity to two M7 freeway off-ramps, making it foolproof to find. There’s a playground for kids and the pub has a great family friendly vibe. I've had a meeting with Alroy management and they're extremely keen for us to hold the event and have committed to assisting with media promotion in the weeks leading up to the event and have kindly offered a $10 spit roast deal to all entrants.
The event is still in the planning stage as I write this, but we plan to have awards for Best British, Best Japanese and Best Euro bikes, as well as other awards yet to be formalised. We encourage as many vintage dirt bike enthusiasts to bring as many of their bikes as humanly possible to make the show as interesting and entertaining to the public as we can. We will be inviting the classic speedway club to display their speedway machinery and hope to involve as many of the vintage movements suppliers and small businesses as possible. We encourage club participation and will approach both HEAVEN and Penrith clubs to set up displays and perhaps recruitment tables. 
We're holding the Show'N'Shine on November 15.
One of the toughest things to deal with in our sport is to see a fallen comrade do it tough. I feel it's imperative that we rally together as a movement to assist one of our own who is entering into a difficult future. I implore the vintage movement to support this event and to dig deep into your pockets to help raise as much money as possible to assist in the purchase of the wheelchair. Klub Kevlar won't be happy until we've raised the readies to cover the costs. Please, support this event with both your participation and bikes and by donating as much as you can spare. 
A side bonus to all that get involved is that we'll also have a bloody great time. 
If you've got any good ideas or comments please let us know:
    Mark Firkin:
    Jeff Keen: