Posted On 09 Apr 2024
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This entry is part 48 of 26 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#27

WE LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU, the letters are among the most keenly read parts of the magazine. Please try and keep letters down to no more than 300 words. Then you can read many, not just a couple. We do reserve the right to cut them and, unless you identify yourself and at least your town or suburb and state, we will print your email address instead. Please address letters to or Australian Motorcyclist Magazine, PO Box 2066, Boronia Park NSW 2111. All opinions published here are those of the writers and we do not vouch for their accuracy or even their sanity!


This month’s winner of the excellent Andy Strapz AA Bagz is Jeff Cole from Alice Springs. The thought of his Family Jewels hitting the Velo’s tank was enough to make every one of us grimace, so we thought we’d make him feel a little better, anyway.

We need your postal address now Jeff, so Andy can send you the bag – which, as I think I may have mentioned, we use ourselves and would not know how to do without.

A perfect combination of size, fitting methods and shape makes our office bag(z) the bag(z) of choice whenever any of us go anywhere.


Bear, In Issue 25 What Say You, you asked if anyone had put a permanent dent in the tank from cold or fear. I didn’t have time for fear when I T-boned a car that turned in front of my Velocette, leaving a rather large dent in the rear of the tank caused by my crotch. Fortunately the dent could be removed and my testicles (whose colour resembled the black of the tank with a hint of blue) recovered in time.

Re the matt-finish cover: ‘Glossy magazine’ has become a derogatory term so best stick to the matt.

Jeff Cole Alice Springs, NT



You’re a bloody nuisance, not because you speed but for what you wrote. I fell off my chair and hurt myself laughing before I could get a quarter of my way through your Deal With It article. The truth can be very funny. Go son go.

Rob Mitchell
Orange, NSW


Hello, Bear.

You may recall meeting me in Maryborough at the Ulysses AGM, but then again maybe not. I was the bloke with the grey beard and the Ulysses vest,ha ha. Oh, and we talked about feet forward bikes, especially the Quasar.

Just thought I’d give you a bit of feedback on Motorcyclist. I’m pleased to say that I can leave it out on the coffee table in our reception (I run a mid-sized consulting firm). Even the addition of Boris’ wild imaginings hasn’t changed that, thank God. I read his stuff almost against my better judgement, simply because he is funny.

Someone who is also funny and who does not strain my better judgement is Lester Morris. I did consider asking you to print his life story some time, but I suspect that would fill the entire magazine and then some.

The reviews of motorcycles are a little too technical for me, but at least they are concise and, I’m sure, useful to readers who are interested in technical background. All I really want is an idea of what’s out there, and what I might consider buying.

Your travel pieces are the best part of the magazine, to my mind. I prefer the ones written by you and your regular contributors, but I understand why you also print readers’ trips. They are often inspirations to go and do something similar. I like the maps very much, and the Pub of the Month seems to me like a genuine attempt to support the bush.

On quite a different note, the overseas travel is also welcome because it concerns journeys that I could (and will in a few years when I retire) do myself.

I even enjoy the advertising, much of which is quite useful.

In other words, keep it up the way you’re going. If there is anything I would like more of, it is American travel stories. If there is anything I’d like to see less of it is the comic strip.

Martin the Greybeard
Lismore, NSW


Hello Bear,

The machine to which your correspondent Trevor referred in Issue 23 – the bike from Issue 19 [page 12], was featured in the Galvo Obituary, with John and myself framed by two motorcycles – is a 1956 400cc twin-cylinder Horex ‘Imperator’ (Emperor), which mas made in Germany by the once-large Horex company. For some odd reason, the bike was sold into America as a ‘Citation’. It was owned by John, and was being ridden, at the time, as a subject in a two way comparison between it and the brand new, 1978 CB440T Honda, which was also a twin cylinder single-overhead camshaft design.

I was conducting the two-way ‘Comparo’ test for Two Wheels magazine at the time, while an in-depth road test report on the CB400 Honda had recently appeared in my own monthly newspaper, ‘Australian Motorcycling’, in 1978, at the time the photo was taken.

The two bikes sit carefully posed to illustrate the Comparison Test, the test proving to be very surprising, if not a total shock to the system. I might say John and I were not posing at the time, but enjoying a quick coffee before the in-depth comparison took place on the quiet, semi-private roads and back lanes in and around Annangrove.

If I may point this out, with the space constraints which exist, the two machines were very similar in capacity and looks, but were really poles apart. They were both 400cc capacity twins, the Honda with bore x stroke measurements of 70.5mm x 50.6mm, the Horex 61.5 x 66mm.

Honda employed twin 32mm Keihin vacuum carburettors, the Horex a single 25mm(?) Bing. The CB44T Honda was equipped with an electric starter, the Horex employed a kick-starter.

The Honda was said to develop 27BHP at a lofty 8000rpm, the Horex 26BHP at a more sedate 6,800rpm. Why the surprising discrepancy in power, in view of the Honda’s three-valve head, higher compression ratio and twin carbs?

Simple: Japanese horsepower ratings (Kilowatts in today’s language) use the American SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) ratings, which are read at an area near the spark plugs, whereas the European DIN ratings are read closer to the engine’s final drive sprocket, after the power generated has gone through the power-sapping gearbox.

The Honda employed a single down tube tubular ‘pipe-frame’, with Comstar fabricated wheels, telescopic front forks and single disc front brake; the Horex used a duplex down-tube, full-cradle design, with the British-designed Earles front fork, with its rear pivot-action and short spring-damper units. The Earles fork was rarely seen in England, but was embraced with some eagerness by almost all the German factories at that time!

Honda of course featured a five-speed close-ratio gearbox, the Horex managing with just four more widely spaced gears.

The Honda, at 196kg, was just 20kg heavier than the Horex, which as near as makes no difference.

How did they compare? Surprisingly, if unhappily as well, and considering the fact that the German motorcycle was 20 years older than the Japanese machine, the Horex ate the poor Honda alive in every department!

John and I changed bikes on and off for most of the day, and carried out a large variety of tests in a very regular manner. We carried out side-by-side acceleration tests, fl ew through some very fast, smooth corners and some much slower, very choppy corners over broken bitumen, and carried out a series of braking tests as well.

The Horex was much faster and far more comfortable; to our surprise it stopped several meters earlier than the Honda; it ran more smoothly (even with the Honda’s contra-rotating balance shafts), while the German bike had a quieter exhaust and less engine noise.

If it surprises the casual reader of this worthwhile publication to learn this un asked for information, then rest assured it actually amazed us.

Sadly, the Horex was gone the following year when the factory closed in 1957(!), just a few months before that first Honda C71 arrived in Oz in April, 1958.

* My first-hand history of Honda arriving in Oz is coming up in later issues of AMM. Oh, yes, I was in the motorcycle trade at the time, and for several years afterwards!
Lester Morris


Hey Bear, Can I still join the Bear Army? I need a new Tshirt!
Ballina NSW

Yes, Corky, of course you can. Ballina, eh? Nice place, my Mum used to live there – The Bear


Dear Bear,

It looks to me as if the motorcycle is being accepted more and more in the east.

Parking on the footpath in Melbourne,your plan for parking changes in Sydney, the new regulations eliminating the need to put splash guards on the backs of bikes, allowing fi ltering in NSW, then Queensland and then Victoria: all of these things are heading in the right direction. Meanwhile, here in Perth we are going back to the Dark Ages with loss of parking and persecution of riders.

What is the problem here in WA? It’s as if the powers-that-be want to drive bikes off the road, if you’ll pardon the image, and are using every way they can to piss us off. We have ideal climate for motorcycling here. Is there anything we can do?

‘Spuds’ Savas
Fremantle WA

Yes, Spuds, there is something you can do – although it’s not going to be much good if you only do it by yourself. Some years ago I asked one of our contributors, Brendan Nelson, much the same question but about all of Australia. Brendan was the leader of the Liberal Party at the time, and he had a very simple solution for me.

“Things get attention when parliamentarians know that their constituents care about them,” he said (or words to that effect). “I have never heard motorcycling being raised in the party room; if enough people contacted their representative about it, it would get mentioned – and things would get done.”

So the solution is simple; get enough riders together and get them to bombard their local members and ministers. Did I say simple? Well, we all know that organising motorcyclists is like herding cats… – The Bear


Hi Bear and Stuart.

You were expecting debate. Here’s my bit. (about Colin Whelan’s suggestion to not swerve for wildlife.) Braking hard and not swerving seems good advice for a lot of situations, especially if driving a ‘tin top’ and more so, a high and heavy thing like a 4wd.

For bikes I think it’s not always so.

Sometimes a short, quick swerve is all that is needed for small, slow/dead/inanimate stuff. Sometimes acceleration is needed, when it’s too late to brake and the impact would have been at your front wheel.

A bit of advice that I think is sound is this. When an impact is unavoidable, in that millisecond before the hit, GET OFF THE BRAKES AND ON THE GAS. I’ve found that more often than not, when a bike smacks into most things, be they wildlife, pothole, wash-out, small log,floodway, usually dry (but not today) creek or whatever, the wheels either leave the ground or at very least, lose grip.

Brakes on = wheels stop= loss of stability = possible prang. Wheels turning = more stability = more control = likely no prang and carry on unperturbed/check pants depending upon the incident.

In forty years of riding our backroads and tracks I’ve had more ‘close shaves’ and impacts than I can recall. Other than by good luck and forgiving, capable bikes, I’ve avoided all but the odd bruise and bent engine bar by application of the above ‘rule’.

Because there are so many variables, skills for all scenarios probably can’t be taught. It’s likely that they can mostly only be learned with time and exposure until reactions are automatic and hopefully, correct. Anyone who has ridden for decades has probably already got it, along with BOTC (Brain Operated Traction Control) and CRBS (Conditioned Reflex Braking System).

As for bovines: If they look up wild-eyed and stop chewing, I’m wary. Roos/horses/deer /pigs/sheep: Dont trust them. Ever. Emus: Stupid as sheep of course but maybe they like a race. I’ve had one speed up after finally being overtaken and chase after me. I did not let it catch up.

Good luck.
Ian Window

Thank you, Ian. I suspect that you don’t actually disagree much with the opinion of the country copper whom Colin quoted. Especially when you write about throttling on at the last second; that’s something I have been doing for many years myself – The Bear

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