Editor’s letter

WENT FOR A 1300KM RIDE WITH FELLOW EDITOR MATT RAUDONIKIS LAST LONG WEEKEND. PLUS AN UNPLANNED 300KM DETOUR TO COOMA AND PAMBULA. WE HAD MOTORBIKES, AND WE WERE IN THE SNOWIES. WE HAD NO CHOICE.

GLENN BUTLER

Dalgety is a sleepy town of a hundred hardy souls east of Jindabyne that was almost Our Nation’s Capital. Back in 1903 a Federal Royal Commission found it had an acceptable climate (ahead of Canberra on points already), good food and water supply, and the ability to support major industry. Unfortunately it was low on con-men, so Canberra got the nod instead.

At Dalgety we met up with some other motoring journalists, mostly of the two-wheeled genre, but a fair few of whom earn a living writing about four-wheeled machines.

Matt edits 4X4 Australia, a Wheels stablemate.

He looks like the fourth member of ZZ Top, is passionate about thugby league, and whinges incessantly about Melbourne’s weather. For our Dalgety muster he dusted off his Triumph Speed Triple.

Bill McKinnon’s another Wheels scribe who loves two wheels. His ride was a Suzuki V-Strom

Four-wheeled motoring journalism is riddled with closet two-wheelers

all-terrain bike, fiendishly ugly and feverishly quick in his hands.

Chris Harris was a Fairfax car journo and is now deputy editor of Australian Motorcycle Trader.

He and I share a Burmese heritage, and a love of that most versatile and underappreciated of musical instruments, the drums (which reminds me, see the film Whiplash. Brilliant.). Chris also is a doppelganger for Brad Pitt from Inglourious Basterds. His wife agrees, clearly, because they have many children.

Chris rode a test bike to Dalgety, because AMT combined the weekend escape with a multi-bike comparo. Offered me one of their fancy test machines, but my oft-neglected 2002 Honda VFR800 was way overdue for an outing. I do enjoy my bike, despite its crude VTEC duality, and long ago learned not to be leaning when accelerating through its 6000rpm lightswitch activation zone.

But since this torquey 782cc V4 revs beyond 12,000rpm – with gusto – it’s easy to stay below or above as the road and my mood demands. I know the VTEC ‘kick’ is a flaw, yet I’m weirdly defensive when anyone criticises it.

Beyond the Dalgety delegates, the four-wheeled motoring journalism game is riddled with closet two-wheelers.

Guy Allen edits Unique Cars, another Wheels stablemate. He’s been riding since before he could walk, has owned more bikes than Mick Doohan has crashed, and once thought it wise to power up a Suzuki Hayabusa, already the world’s fastest bike.

Word is his ’Busa makes 165kW at the crank, most of which hits the road solely through a shoe-sized contact patch. Tested top speed: 330km/h. He also owns an E39 BMW 540i. A man of ticker and taste.

Simon Telford occupies the office next to mine at Bauer Towers. He runs Street Machine, Australia’s modified-car bible. He rides a 1973 Triumph Tiger. Natch.

Stephen Corby was Wheels editor before me.

Rider. John Carey, long-time Wheels journalist, long-time rider. Michael Stahl, wonderful writer, motorbike obsessive. Ash Westerman, ex-Wheels but still a rider. Thomas Wielecki, great photographer, and motorcycle nut – crazy enough to ride a postie bike around Australia. Seriously.

Two wheels or four. The common thread is man and machine, and the exhilaration that results.

White line fever

THE best description of the joy of motorcycling I’ve ever read was written by the legendary Hunter S Thompson.

The last few pages of his book, Hell’s Angels, documenting his time inside the world’s most notorious motorcycle gang, was about a late evening ride on a Californian mountain road.

Nothing existed beyond the rider and his bike. And the pull of the white line.

Truly mesmerising.