is alive and well in Australia. On a recent trip to Southern Australia to cover
the American Le Mans Series Race of a Thousand Years in Adelaide, I was happy
to witness a strong sportbike scene. In a country that has produced its fair share
of World Champion motorcyclists like Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan, and Troy Corser,
you would expect a healthy number of sporbike enthusiasts. Australia is also well
represented by World Superbike pilots like Troy Bayliss and Anthony Gobert.
are a fair number of bikers who prefer the cruiser mode of motorcycling, but not
in the same numbers as the US. Of those, many are on Milwaukee Iron. By far and
away the majority of enthusiasts were riding race replicas, with the street fighter
stripped down standards coming in behind the sportbike segment in numbers
major departure from the sportbike scene in America is the ratio of European machines
to Japanese bikes. Ducati, Aprillia, Triumph and BMW aare all strong sellers in
Australia. Whereas in America, it seems that Japanese motorcycles outsell European
bikes by about 2 to 1, in Australia it is not the exception to the rule to see
almost as many European sportbikes as those from Asia. Aprilia in particular is
a very well represented brand. With no environmental restrictions on the sale
of two strokes, as in the US, this is another Aprilia model that is represented
Down under that we don't get to see in the States.
is no shortage of great scenery and exciting roads to experience in south Australia,
especially along the coast through Victoria along The Great Ocean Road. With the
exception of when we were there, Christmas through New Year's Holiday, there is
plenty of road per vehicle ratio. The country is slightly smaller than the US
with a total population the same as New York City. Cities like Adelaide and Melbourne
have certain similarities with the great motorcycling centers in Europe and Britain
where Café Racing was born. Both cities have their Restaurant rows with one after
another Italian eating establishments. Motorcycle culture on Lygon Street in Melbourne
might as well be Bologna with the bark of V Twins adding to the ambience of the
Al Fresco dining.
Police in Australia
don't take too kindly to speeding, so judicious jaunts of robust riding are necessary.
Speed limits of 80 - 110 kph are adhered to fairly strictly by the four-wheeled
set and speed traps in Metropolitan areas are common. Drinking and riding in Australia
is like playing Russian roulette. Besides the fact that it is always wiser to
partake of a fine coffee beverage while cruising from café to café, the country
has strict drunk driving laws with low minimum alcohol levels enforced. We were
arbitrarily pulled to the side of the road for a random on the spot Breathalyzer
test. Take heed!
Great Ocean Road runs along the Victoria Coastline for a good four- hour blast
of switch backs and sweepers reminiscent of the Pacific Coast Highway from San
Luis Obispo to Carmel California. The Great Ocean Road features excellent scenic
views, room to pass, slow vehicle turnouts and speed limits ranging from 25 kph
in the hairpins to 100 kph on the straightaways. Remember; ride left mate!
very cool motorcycle dealer that we came across is Docteur Desmo, an Aprilia and
Ducati Dealer located just north of Adelaide. Loaded with new and vintage Italian
machinery it was a joyous happenstance to stumble across. One particularly pleasant
occurrence was when one of the technicians broke the showroom silence by idling
into the room on a pristine Ducati 750 F1A. With just 6,600 K on the clock, it
looked to be worth every penny of the $11,500 Australian asking price. If you
head down under, they might be a good place to inquire about motorcycle rentals,
tours and purchases. Docteur Desmo is located at: 394 Main North Road Blair Athol,
South Australia 5084 Phone 61 08 8262 4555 Fax 61 08 8349 7544.