Today I went for a ride in a group, it was organised by a guy I’ve known for a couple of years but we’d never ridden together. He’d gotten a bunch of people he knew together, but none of us had ever ridden together. The aim was to ride up into the Mountains north of Brisbane and then head out to Kilcoy and back via Mt Glorious and Mt Nebo. It started ok, we picked up another rider in Woodford and chatted for a while. I found out one of the guys behind me pulled a wheelie on his Aprila, when we left the car park at Woodford his mate (the guy we picked up in Woodford) took off with a wheel off the ground. About another 30 minutes of wheelies followed, the road needed work and turned to dirt. Sebastian started messing around in the dirt and riding on the side of the road a little, in between this his wheelies started crossing over into the incoming lane; there was a moment where I thought he’d run out of road and was about to lose the bike in the trees. A little bit later he road on the side of the road down an old road and almost ran the bike off where an old bridge was.
Sebastian was riding a 2006 SXV 550, its a whats called a Motard. Motards are dirt bikes with the tires switched out of slicks and usually the brakes improved a little for the road. While some Motards do look nice the appeal is mostly the sound they make; but the grunty dirt bike doesn’t really convert into the most comfortable or safe road bike. On top of this most need the gearing to be changed to ride well on the road, basically you can dream all you want but a Motard is never going to be as good as a bike designed for the road from scratch nor is it any good off road once things like tires, breaks and suspension have been switched over. I’ve never really liked Motards because of these failings; oh did I mention geometry, thats broken on a Motard too. I’m sure there are people that ride them well but I think the fastest way around road track involves corning not sliding.
Getting close to Kilcoy Sebasian who was ridding beside me left the road and gunned the bike on the dirt/grass, he got a couple of meters and lost the bike. When the bike hit the ground flames covered the tank and the bike tumbled for about 30 meters on fire. This wasn’t on very hard surface but was about 80kms an hour, well thats what I was doing when he was beside me. I pulled over and turned around. By the time I got there the fuel tank was burning and he was trying to pull the bike away from the flames (which where in the grass but coming from the bike); I asked if the fuel tank had blown yet but didn’t get a response. There was fuel everywhere and no chance of putting anything out. It turned out he’d decided to empty the fuel and pull the bike away; a bad idea but I think enough damage was done in the fall destroy the bike in any case. Some of the others thought they saw flames before the bike hit; I kinda think the bike was overheated and maybe the air filter caught and then the fall was enough to pull the fuel line and get the rest of the bike going. I’ve had harder impacts at the same sort of speed on a dirt bike and split fuel and not had the bike go up like that, so I suspect maybe those monos didn’t help with fuel problems. The offroad bullshit on road tires and road suspension also didn’t help, I found where I think he came off, there was a nice ditch that I think the front wheel went into and didn’t adjust well at all.
All the services turned up, the police saw the smoke and where there in minutes, an entire fire extinguisher couldn’t put the fire out, too much fuel. Sebasian didn’t have insurance and now doesn’t have much of any sort of bike even to wreak, it was a 2006 bike but about 8-9000 to replace. I guess we stood and sat around for about an hour and a half before heading off again. Some pictures below…
You’ll notice in one photo the bikes still on fire, we decided to move back to let the front tire explode, it was pretty cool and very loud (only took about a minute); there where a lot of flames and sort of a fire ball during the crash. It wasn’t very sobering for me as he was being a bit of a dick before it all happened so I wasn’t really that sympathetic. I guess because I don’t ride like that it didn’t have much of an impact on me or the rest of the day other than it being pretty interesting. I don’t think I’ll every buy an Aprilia, way too burny.