May 28, 2014

Elders Helmets: NEW Bomberbell B1 helmets in stock!

We've got these new amazing Elders Helmet lids in stock. They're a reproduction of the legendary Bell Star helmets of the 70s and have been produced with these colors in a very limited amount.

As usual, all Elders helmets are made with a strong fiberglass outer shell, removable and washable inner cheek padding and a quick release chin strap.

For more information and pictures, please visit the shop.

Glossy light blue

Matte grey

Glossy orange

Glossy yellow

Glossy white

May 25, 2014

NEW! Yamaha SR aluminium tank THE NAVIGATOR

I've been quiet for some time regarding new products, but now it's time to break the silence.

What better and exclusive addition than a new aluminium tank for the Yamaha SR.
And what a tank it is! I love it. The flowing and sinuous lines truly remind me of that classic fantasy film of the late 80s, called "The flight of the Navigator".

This tank (as all the other tanks too) is hand made out of a 2.5mm thick aluminium sheet and pressure tested with about 3 bar prior to shipping. The tank lid and the petcock are included.

For more pictures and information, please check out the shop. LINK HERE

May 24, 2014

Ducati Scrambler 2015

Edit 30 September 2014:

The Scrambler has been released!!


We're almost there. Ducati will almost certainly present the new Ducati Scrambler at EICMA this fall, reviving the much loved Scrambler heritage and ending a long wait full of trepidation.

Ducati is keeping its mouth shut concerning the design. The only thing that seems certain is the engine, an air-cooled 796 taken straight from the Monster. All this secrecy has naturally fed the imagination of people like me, but with far better design skills.

Apparently, it will be produced both in Italy and Thailand, which is fantastic news for those of us oppressed by a incredibly high import tax.

Let's have a look at what our designer friends came up with, but first a quick reminder of what the original Scrambler looked like.

And this is me 2 years ago, on my brother's Scrambler 450. That's when I fell in love with it! 
(Trip report HERE)

So, one of the best rendering in my opinion are the following 2, especially the yellow one. Sorry, I couldn't find the author of the designs...

 The same bike in red, but with a single-sided swing arm.

Here are 2 'spy' shots, where we see a hotchpotch of parts. Hopefully they're just testing the engine and won't actually use that front light in the final version!

 My favourite version!

One of this year's interpretations, by Italian magazine DueRuote. Not too bad.

Also a new design by CycleWorld. More like a cross between a Hypermotard and a Multistrada than a Scrambler. I really hope it won't look like this...

2 Oberdan Bezzi renderings.

A version with a single cylinder. Unfortunately, Ducati doesn't have one in production....yet

So, let's cross our fingers that Ducati can still remember its roots and don't fall into the fashion trap of super-straight and angular designs. The price should also be good, since they want it to appeal to new riders and to people like me who can't afford any other Ducati. :-)))

Stay tuned.

May 9, 2014

Searching for Mrs Right

Finding the right motorcycle is a bit like finding the right woman I guess. Sometimes it's love at first sight, more often though it's a slow learning process, where you gradually exclude those that do not suit you or match your expectations.
Tiger ST200
It's been like that for me when I came to Thailand. My first bike here was a Thai Tiger ST200. Once I sorted some initial reliability issues, it was a great and fun bike for the city and small to medium trips. The only thing that was lacking was the power. My next bike then was a Suzuki Bandit 400. I loved the flowing lines and there was plenty of power, but still, I wasn't satisfied... An inline 4 has a power output that doesn't really mirror my riding habits. I prefer to ride at a slow to medium pace, but the Bandit liked it fast and furious. Eventually, we separated amicably.
My next bike was a Yamaha SR400...and it was love at first sight/ride. I love the classic design, the thumping sound and the simplicity of it all. This love prompted me to start this blog and later on open the Omega Racer shop. But that's stuff for another story.

Suzuki Bandit 400
I'm not saying I don't love her anymore, but I have to admit that I've been thinking a lot about other bikes, too. The problem was, I couldn't find Mrs Right. If I would live in Europe, I would definitely get a BMW R90 or R100, but Thailand is a different story.
To help me with the conundrum, I made a list of things I wanted and compared it with what is available in Thailand right now.

My baby
First off, the design/type. I like my bikes naked, simple and with classic lines.

Sometimes I'm tempted by the design of modern bikes. The MV Agusta F3 or the Rivale are two fantastic looking bikes, but sadly, also fantastically expensive. No way I can afford them and besides, they don't fulfill my other requirements.
The ideal type of bike for me is a street tracker or touring bike.

Next is practicality. For me, a bike has to be practical, meaning it must allow for a passenger to sit comfortably on longer rides, be able to carry luggage and allow me to ride in a comfortable upright position. It must be practical on the mechanical side, too, giving me the chance to fix something by myself, or at the very least be simple enough, so that a roadside mechanic won't f**k it up completely. Finding a good mechanic (at least for bigger bikes) in Thailand is a bit like finding an honest politician.
BMW R90. Reliability on two wheels

Reliability. Of course, generally new bikes tend to be more reliable than older ones, but there are some personal guidelines I like to follow. The old Honda SuperFour, so common in Thailand, are in my opinion rolling minefields. How many of those had their carbs cleaned and synchronized recently? How many Thai mechanics are able to adjust the valves on an inline four? Naaa, I'll stick with one or 2 cylinders. I want a bomb proof machine like the W650, the indestructibility of a Honda or any BMW.

The engine. Like I mentioned before, one or 2 cylinders suit my riding style best. I love their sound and character. Simple tech, air-cooled singles, V twins, boxer or inline twins are my bread and butter.

One of the most beautiful engines ever made
Price. Obviously, staying in the budget is important. I have a pretty clear idea about how much I want and can spend for my next bike. Since I don't really like modern bikes, with 150k to 200k Baht there are some good second hand bikes out there. If the right new bike would come along, I could think about raising the budget. For the upcoming Ducati Scrambler or the Kawasaki W800 I could make such an exemption, for example....even thinking about....gulp....financing. There, I said it.

Kawasaki ER6n 2009
Finally, the availability. Living in Thailand has many advantages, but when it comes to bikes it's definitely not like in the West. I have to admit that in the past few years many new models entered the Thai market, thanks to the expansion program in South East Asia of big motorcycle manufacturers like Kawasaki, Honda, Ducati, Triumph and even BMW. These manufacturers produce some bike models in Thailand which are exempt from stratospheric import taxes, which afflict many other models. Just take the very nice BMW R9T: it costs 11,600 Pounds in the UK...roughly 640k Baht. The same bike in Thailand would set you back 1.1 million Baht!! Almost double!!
So, what's available?
As mentioned above, there are some good (new) bikes made in Thailand: just to mention a few...Kawasaki has the ER6n/f and the Versys; Honda the CB500 and now CB650; Triumph with the Bonneville, Scrambler and T100; BMW with the F800R and Ducati with the Monster 695.
The second hand market is currently profiting from the very high sales of ER6n and Versys since 2009, which were the first big bikes to be made and sold in Thailand. 2009 models now go for as little as 150k, while 2011 models with low mileage can go up to 180-190k Baht.

Honda CB500f

It's not too difficult to find 2013 CB500 for 180k (cost new about 200k for the naked version) and 2013 695 Monsters for 350k (new: about 400k).
Of course, the evergreens on the second hand market are still the Yamaha SR400 and the Honda CB400 SuperFour. They're much cheaper (in the 50-60k range), but most of them are not legally registered.

Sure, there are other big bikes available, but for one or the other reason, they're not interesting for me.

Now, if I take all these conditions and put them to cook in a big pot, the result will boil down to a small selection.

  1. 1) Yamaha XS650 (difficult to find, especially with legal papers)
  2. 2) Kawasaki W650 (available, but rarely legal)
  3. 3) Kawasaki ER6n 2009-2011 model (good bike, good price, not classic)
  4. 4) Honda CB500 (cheap, but otherwise quite a mediocre offering, not classic)
As you can see, there's not much choice here for someone who doesn't want to ride a 'transformer plastic bucket' bike.

Kawasaki W650
Maybe it's really like it is with women. The right one will come along when you stop looking and you least expect it, kicking you off your feet and taking you up to the seventh heaven of riding pleasure.

I'll keep you posted. ;-)

May 6, 2014

Max Reisch - Researcher/ Pioneer/ Scientist

Have you ever heard of Max Reisch? No? Me neither..until a few days ago, when my friend told me about a small exhibition, showing the bikes and cars this gentleman used to travel around the world... 80 years ago!

To my amazement, this exhibition was located less than 500 meters from my house in Bozen, Italy and was also the first 'Buschenschank' (a kind of tavern, where wine makers sell their own products on their premises) to reopen in Bozen after the second world war.

I was intrigued to say the least and after a quick email exchange with Peter, Max' son, I arranged a visit for the next day.

So, who is this Max Reisch? 
Maximilian Felix Gottfried Reisch was born on October 2, 1912 in the small Tyrolean town of Kufstein (in Austria today). 
Max ReischWith his first motorcycle he undertook the Skijoring race in 1930 and the 12-pass-ride on the "Stilfserjoch-Puch" over the Alps. As a 20-year-old construction engineer, Max Reisch started his first voyage through the Sahara in 1932 , where he also came second in a motorcycle race using the "Sahara-Puch".
India - alluring distanceThe successful North African trip was soon followed by numerous other expeditions that lead the researcher and pioneer to almost all the continents on Earth. His sensational travels by motorcycle on the overland route to India with Herbert Tichy (1933), on a Steyr 100 to Indochina (1935) and the circumnavigation of the globe (1936) got him world-wide fame and recognition. Uniquely, all vehicles he used for his expeditions are still in working condition and can be seen at the "Max Reisch Exhibition" in Bozen, Italy by appointment. 
The pioneer died on the 18th January 1985, aged 72. He himself said: "I'm satisfied, because I have reached 102 years. The years in the desert count twice."

(Loosely translated from the official website) 

As you can see, Max Reisch was no ordinary man. In fact, he was the first person ever to ride a motorcycle from Europe to India. That's no small feat, considering that in 1933 there weren't any high-tech motorcycles, support teams and other modern commodities. 

The first thing you see when you arrive, is the big man that is Peter, Max' son, who's been taking care of his father's legacy since he passed away in 1985. Peter was a patient and forthcoming host, answering all our questions regarding the history and the engineering of the exhibits.

Here is a Jenbacher Gutbrod, Type Atlas 800, from 1950, 800 ccm, 18hp. It's likely to be the very first mobile home in Europe. Reisch used this vehicle in 1952 and 1953 to travel to the Middle East and North Africa. 

Reisch's office

The blueprint of the 'Arabia-Sadigi'

In 1956, Reisch goes on another voyage with an Opel Olympia, Type Caravan, 1956, 1500 ccm, 45hp.
This car sports a newly developed roof tend, which Reisch could first test in Egypt.

Here is the 'Gardasee-Puch', Type 175, 1926, 175 ccm, 3hp. Reisch rode this bike to the lake Garda in Northern Italy in 1931, to write an article for a motorcycle touring guide.

Unfortunately, the one bike I was really keen on seeing, wasn't there. Together with the round-the-world car ('Asien-Styer'), the 'Indien-Puch' was temporarily being shown at another exhibition.

Max Reisch was not only a researcher, journalist and world traveler, he was also one of the first people to recognize the cultural value of collecting vehicles. In his collection we find cars and motorcycles alike.

Peter Reisch signing his father's book 'Indien - lockende Ferne'

Signing my brother's book 'Über alle Straßen hinaus. Forscher, Pionier und Wüstenfahrer'

At one point Peter asked us to help him move some bikes. Needless to say that I jumped at the chance of handling bikes that have twice my age!
We even got some nice wine from Peter's vineyard for our efforts. As if we needed a reward. tssssss :-)
Stored away in the wine cellar

Actually, I wanted to sit on all of them, but in the end I settled for just one.

This Puch still had the original dirt from the 1940s. Vintage dirt!

South Tyrol is a motorcycle paradise with all its mountains, lakes and majestic views, so if you're in town in this beautiful corner of Italy, I warmly recommend a visit to the Max Reisch Collection and Archive in Bozen.  You won't regret a visit!

For more information, check out the official website (in German), or this page for great pictures. To book a visit, write an email to Peter:

I guarantee you will love it like I did.