Tasmania on a Dominator (AKA a noobs cheapo adventure)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by FLICKIT, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. FLICKIT

    FLICKIT Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    881
    Location:
    Down-under Down-under
    This is my first decent trip and ride report so don't expect too much... I'll throw in some extra info at the start about my entry into adventure riding, it may be helpful to others getting started...

    I'll start with a bit of back story and build up to the trip:
    I started riding bikes when I was about 12, my first bike was an old clapped out KM90 payed for with paper run money, I had numerous odd old bikes through till I got my motorcycle license the day I turned 16, I was a daily road and dirt rider through till about 22, most my time was on road/trail bikes...

    In 1993 I had a near new 1992 XT350, in a short period of time I had a couple of very close near misses with crazy drivers, the last time I was on the road a car went through a stop sign and I almost T-boned it, I clipped my knee on the rear bumper as I swerved around it... I gave up riding on the road after that...

    Since 1993 I've only been riding offroad now and then, through the 90's I was riding a 1984 XR250 that I put a CBX250 electric start engine in... The last 10 years I've just been riding around my property on a postie bike (CT110), chinese pitbikes, and the last couple of years an XR100R, I have a few kilometers of tracks around the hills.... I'm not a serious or a good rider, just a hack...

    I stumbled onto a Colebatch ride report early in 2011, it reignited my interest in riding big bikes, and got me thinking about maybe getting back on the road one day... I spent the next couple of months reading dozens of great ride reports, all very motivational... Ones that come to mind are Nathans and Nevs trips around Australia, great stuff...

    I was turning 40 in May and since I haven't had a good adventure for quite a few years I decided to bite the bullet and get a road registered bike... I was reluctant to pour big money into a bike just in case I got back on the road and decided it wasn't for me... My goal was to get a bike sorted out and do a multiple day trip over the xmas/new year period... And eventually maybe ride around Australia if everything went well....

    So... after lots of reading, and being a Honda fan, I settled on a Dominator, a nice classic bike with a good reputation... I couldn't find one locally, or anything else that sparked my interest, so I ended up buying one sight unseen and had it shipped down from Queensland to Tasmania, a 1992 model with 54,000km on the clock, it's basically stock with no modifications at all...

    When it arrived I found it had a few issues: not pumping oil (damn lucky the first thing I did when I started it was crack the head oil feed tube to see if it had good oil pressure), it also had oil leaks and stripped threads on the valve cover, a fair bit of corrosion, lots of slogged out rubbers, stuffed fork seals and bushes, a couple of stuffed suspension bearings, dead battery, stuffed chain slider and broken chain guard... It basically just needed a good going over as you'd expect with any 20yo bike that's done a couple of laps of Australia... It took me a couple of months to clean it up and get it in a state where I thought it would be reliable...

    It didn't cost me too much to clean it up, it was more time than money, I'm happy with the money I've put into it... I got it registered in mid October and off I went, I did about 6 day rides totaling a bit over 3000km, 80% or more of that was on dirt/gravel forestry roads and I was loving it! ... The best fun I've had in years!

    A couple of pics of the old girl on day trips:
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    I was using all my old road riding gear, an old AGV helmet that's seen better days, old Dririder wax cotton pants that I ended up ripping the crutch out of on the first ride, and a Dririder all season jacket, not a bad jacket but it has no vents at all, it's like a sauna suit and the pockets fill with water when it rains... I didn't really have a $1000+ to pour into riding gear so I picked up a good condition second hand Rjays dakar helmet for $50 on Gumtree (I only have a $50 head:huh), got some $50 ebay Pakistani Cordura pants that turned out to be a bit on the small side but they'll do for now, some new $100 MSR VX1-ATV boots which aren't bad for the money really, and some Rjays 100% waterproof gloves that aren't waterproof at all, lol... All up not the best gear, but adequate protection for now...

    Preparing for the trip:
    As the end of the year was approaching fast it was time to start getting gear together and prepping the bike for a decent trip... The main thing I had to do was sort out some luggage, I liked the idea of hard cases but they seemed too expensive for my cheap tastes... I ended up ordered some $60 Rjays soft panniers but when they arrived I wasn't too happy with them, the bags and racks went on the back burner for a couple of weeks while I thought about how I'd build the racks and such...

    In between times I started getting the bike and other gear ready, put some new D606 tires on the bike and learned how to change tires myself... Got a $80 tent, $20 sleeping mat, I'll make do with my 20+yo sleeping bag even though it takes up a huge amount of room... I tinkered with soda-can metho stoves and decided that was good enough for now...

    The week before xmas, While searching around here looking at pannier rack threads, I came across a thread about Bunnings selling Pelican 1550 copies for $65, I had a $100 Bunnings gift card so I went and grabbed 3 cases... I figured $195 wasn't to much to spend on 3 hard cases, I HAD to get a top case for my camera and such anyway...

    I did a rush 2 day job making side racks and mounting the cases, I was a little worried about the case strength so I screwed a 9mm (3/8") MDF back plate into them, it all I had on hand, that added about 1kg to each 5kg case... All up the cases added a fair bit of weight to the bike... I attempted to keep the weight low and forward with most the weight on the passenger footpeg mount, I figured since they are slightly higher and behind the footpeg mount they shouldn't get in my way..

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    (Picks taken after the trip)

    The racks are made from 20mm square tube steel with a bit of 25mm angle across the back bolted into a plate I welded to the tail light support frame... The mounting pucks are made from poly kitchen cutting board cut with a holesaw and there's a strip of 3mm x 50mm mild steel on the back between the puck mounts, I couldn't decide how big to make the alloy plates on the pucks, that's why they're different sizes.... The top mount on the side cases was a temporary job that turned out ok, 6mm thumb screws that go into a bit of tapped poly cutting board so they can break away fairly easily, and be replaced cheaply... The idea was to try the side cases and if I like them I'll replace the MDF and mild steel with aluminium to cut the weight down, + remake and rivit the top mount on... The top case is just bolted to the Dominators rack with some 50mm x 5mm alloy under the case to tie the side racks into the top... I added 4 handles to the top case for tie down points... All up the cases and racks cost me under $220 (+ odd steel and stuff I already had laying around)...

    Part of my reason for wanting hard cases was so I could carry a 5L plastic fuel can safely... I really didn't like the idea of strapping a plastic fuel can to the side of the bike, I have visions of sliding down the road engulfed in a fireball, lol...

    I spent a couple of days trying to pack everything, just as I thought I had it all sorted out I found other things I HAD to pack, in the end everything was just piled in with heavier stuff at the bottom front of the cases... I packed enough food for the whole trip but figured I'd probably buy lunch most days... The tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, and some cloths went in an old army bag strapped on top...

    ANYWAY, on with the trip...

    The bike ready to go, what a beast!:
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    I marked quite a few places on a Hema paper map that I wanted to see but my main goal was just to cover as much distance as I could, I didn't have a set route, just followed my nose and worked it out as I went, + look for areas to go back to explore better later... I mainly wanted to test myself and the bike, try to improve my stamina and ability, and get the hang of bush camping again...

    I didn't bother with the highland lakes, Lake Pedder, or down south because I've been covering them with day trips...

    For navigation and tracking I used an iphone 3gs with an app called Bitmap (loaded with 100k and 250k Tasmaps), mounted in a $15 ottabox in an old cheapo car phone holder, I wrapped rubber bands around for some added safety, lol...


    Here's my whole route, I ended up doing 2268km, in 5.5 days:

    <iframe src="http://ridewithgps.com/routes/876556/embed" height="768px" width="1024px" frameborder="0"></iframe>

    A few taster pics to start it off:
    (I was a bit slack and didn't get the camera out as often as I should, but I have quite a few photos)
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    And the only video I don't have to edit:
    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/lrHXHJDiu_c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    (there was no "No Vehicle" signs or anything so it must be ok) :evil

    Over the next few days I'll do a write up for each day and post the pics and videos.

    All comments and suggestions will be welcomed :ear
    (just don't lay shit on the Mighty Dominator, lol)
    #1
  2. bull600

    bull600 Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Adelaide South Australia
    I'm in.... looks like a great trip :clap:clap:clap

    Cheers :thumb
    #2
  3. JTD

    JTD Novice

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Launceston, Tasmania.
    Nice report and photos - looks like a great trip. Thanks for sharing. That reminds me, I must get back to Ben Lomond soon.....

    I admire your handy-work with the mounting of the cases and getting the bike roadworthy again. Well done.
    #3
  4. havafati

    havafati Yassdafarian

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    Yass, NSW, Australia
    :clap Awesome. :thumb
    #4
  5. theMISSIONARY

    theMISSIONARY hunting and riding!!

    Joined:
    May 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,262
    Location:
    Devonport Tazmania
    Lots of pictures please :D

    oh and those NX's..........umm......well
    #5
  6. gunnabuild1

    gunnabuild1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2008
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    Location:
    Ipswich Queensland
    I'm in, looking forward to it.Like the backstory as well, probably pretty common.
    #6
  7. FLICKIT

    FLICKIT Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    881
    Location:
    Down-under Down-under
    191km
    Riding 3pm - 8pm

    Camp-1: down an overgrown spur off M-16-4 near Long Marsh Dam

    Route: out of Hobart - Richmond - Buckland - Swanston track - Little Swanport - M-Rd (McKays Rd)

    <iframe src="http://ridewithgps.com/routes/876262/embed" height="768px" width="1024px" frameborder="0"></iframe>

    I didn't get going until 3pm because I was waiting on some front brake levers to come in the mail, they arrived so off I went...

    It was the first time I've been on a loaded bike and it was a bit of a shock to the system, the usually fairly nimble (for it's size) Dominator was feeling a bit sluggish and very top heavy, I wasn't comfortable at all... I filled up the bike and the 5L can in the suburbs and headed out of town via Richmond, up to Buckland and topped the tank up again...

    I've seen mention of the Swanston track in other ride reports and such, it goes from Buckland to Little Swanport, I knew nothing about it but I assumed it was just another gravel forestry type road... It was on the 250k Tasmap so off I went following the gravel roads north out of Buckland with the hope of coming out at Little Swanport... The bike was as scary as hell on the gravel, as soon as I hit any loose stuff it got the wobbles up quiet bad and the front felt like it wanted to go out from under me, I had to keep my speed down to around 60kmh to stay upright... After a few K's I pulled over to check the bike over and make sure I wasn't riding on a flat tire or had a slogged out wheel bearing or something, everything seemed ok:


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    A while later I arrived at an open gate and Buckland live firing range signs, I knew it was out this way, but didn't realize the track went through the northern end of it:

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    Since the gate was open and I was fairly sure you're allowed to ride/drive the Swanston track, I continued on...

    The gravel road gradually turned onto dirt bush track with a few patches of sand, every time I hit the sand the front end was trying to wash out, I was thinking my load was too far back and too heavy, I just kept my speed down and battled on...

    A few K's further on I came to this dilapidated bridge, to get around it there was a steep track that went down around a bit of a bend, through the rocky creek bed, and up a bit of a rocky track on the other side... It wasn't too bad but with the way the bike felt I had a good walk around before tackling it... It turned out to be no drama at all..

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    From there the track got steeper and rockier as it wound around the side of a hill, the bike didn't feel to bad, all was good till I got to a steeper part where there was a large rock outcrop in the road and a few logs and large rocks laying around that 4x4's have used to fill in the trench at the side... I didn't want to lose momentum so I tried to power through the obstacles and up the rock... This is where I realized my side cases are probably mounted a bit too low, both slammed into rocks, the left one hit the rock outcrop, jumped off, and landed on the ground next to me as I came to a stop...

    I was still upright and pleased my case mounts worked as designed and the case was released with a heavy impact, the 6mm thumb screw tore out of the poly thread as I hoped they would, It was no drama, I packed a few spares... I propped the bike up, removed the case that was still on the bike, and carried them about 20 meters up the hill past this rough spot... I moved a few of the rocks and logs so I had a clearer path, jumped back on the bike, and had no problem motoring up to where the cases were.

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    Both cases copped a bit of damage, nothing serious :clap
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    These signs were stuck up every few meters along the track:
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    After that little adventure it was all smooth sailing down to Little Swanport, up the Hwy a couple of clicks, then up Bresnehans Rd that leads to the M-road, I planned to get to Long Marsh Dam tonight but took the wrong road at a fork and ended up going down M-16-4, it was close to 8pm so rather than turn around I decided to just find a camping spot for the night, I only went about 1km further and there was a nice grassy overgrown spur road on the right, went down there and it came to a grassy area that seemed to be an old logging landing area, it was perfect... The way the track was over grown there was no risk of 4x4's or shooters or anyone disturbing me:

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    It was a perfect night to be camping for the first time in years... Warm, and no wind at all, Dinner was canned stew heated on the soda-can metho cooker, and tortillas:
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    It wasn't a long day but it was a struggle, as I went to sleep I was considering heading home in the morning to offload some gear to get the bike riding better...

    I didn't run the video camera on day 1 so I will throw in a video from day 4,I have another one to use in the day 4 post anyway... This is about 5 mins long, riding from night 3 camp spot around to Mt Paris dam, and walking around the dam:
    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Hnbi9GsETHg" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    :)
    #7
  8. FLICKIT

    FLICKIT Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    881
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    I was very lazy with taking photos unfortunately, I have quite a few good ones, but there was 1001 things I didn't take shots of that I should have, next time :D...

    I use a Pentax K10D DSLR, it lives in the top case, it's quite time consuming to stop and get the camera out and such, I didn't want to stop fo 5 mins just to snap a couple of pics a lot of the time... I need to get a point and shoot camera to keep in my pocket I think...

    I've had quite a few small to medium road/trail bikes in the past and I'm amazed how great the Dominator is compared to them... I'm thoroughly impressed with how well it handles onroad and offroad... I haven't ridden any other large bikes so I don't know how it compares to other similar sized bikes... Doesn't matter anyway, I'm happy :clap

    Yeh, you've got to start somewhere... I quite like tinkering and such, so it's been a good journey....

    :)
    #8
  9. Mark or Jack

    Mark or Jack BMW F 800 GS

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2010
    Oddometer:
    129
    Location:
    Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
    Nice, I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.


    I will be back in Tassie in March and can't wait to get out on my bike again.
    #9
  10. Arek Kontrol

    Arek Kontrol Been here awhile

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    Aug 21, 2011
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    Location:
    Ex-pat Poles in Adelaide Hills, South Australia
    G'day Mate !


    Gutsy ride. I can't wait to hear how it ends. :thumb
    Thanks for posting.
    #10
  11. theMISSIONARY

    theMISSIONARY hunting and riding!!

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Devonport Tazmania
    :D happy with the bike thats the main thing :D

    best mate had one of the NX650's(the Dominator's had some slight changes) and he was Very lucky to get a larger tanks for it they are a good bike......he will find this thread and my comment

    i just like lighter bikes these days

    Taking Pics can be a pain we rode from Deroport to Waratah today mostly through the Forestry and its to much fun riding to stop and take pic's :ricky
    #11
  12. madart

    madart Adventurer

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    south Poland
    Is it me or most of pics don't load ? :huh
    #12
  13. FLICKIT

    FLICKIT Been here awhile

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    They should be ok.. they're hosted on Photobucket...

    If other people have issues I'll look at hosting them elsewhere...
    #13
  14. FLICKIT

    FLICKIT Been here awhile

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    I can understand that... It's a big lump of a bike in the bush...

    I'd like to do the 20,000+km around the big island one day and I think a big bike will be better for that... Not sure if I'll use the Dominator or not, but at least it's good to get big bike experience on...

    ...Thanks everyone for your comments :clap

    :)
    #14
  15. madart

    madart Adventurer

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    so it was me, then..

    I own NX650 and know it's great bike for rides like that one :clap
    Love the videos :D
    What's your rear tire?
    #15
  16. FLICKIT

    FLICKIT Been here awhile

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    There will be a few more videos :wink: I came home with 3 hours of footage :evil

    I have Dunlop D606 front and rear, the rear is 130/90x17, front 90/90x21... I'll talk about these a bit more tomorrow...
    #16
  17. humphrey

    humphrey Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2012
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    15
    Sounds like a great trip!

    I'm also a Tasmanian Dominator rider. Bought it about a year ago off gumtree, and it'd done about 73,000. Unlike you, I've only recently started riding (I'm 6 months into my P's) so I got the dominator because it was LAMS approved and by far the best dual-sport bike I could find in my budget in Tassie.

    I like your panniers! I've been wanting something similar. I did a 2 day ride while I was still on my L's up through the Lakes, and past Toomes Lake, Oatlands, etc. Was a great ride. I managed to fit everything into a duffle bag that was strapped to the rear rack and a backpack. Oh, and a mate made me a wider replacement rack, so I could fit more on it. Also, a friend helped me make (ok, I helped him make) a custom screen out of polycarbonate. It makes the ride so much smoother, quieter, and relaxing! I've also added some handlebar risers, which make standing up on the gravel much easier (as I'm not a short person).

    Once the bike was loaded, I also noticed quite a big difference in the ride. Although, I was still really new to riding, so I was still finding my feet on the gravel! Although, it still felt pretty stable when I rode standing up on the pegs. It'd be great to get the weight down lower so I'm still need to get some panniers happening.

    Can you talk me though the couple of devices you have attached to your handlebars. One is your iphone -- how did you attach it? What is the other? I've been wanting to attach my HTC Desire (similarly spec to iphone3) to the bars so I can use it as a GPS. Also, I'd like to wire in a power socket, so I can run it plugged in.

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    #17
  18. Trotski

    Trotski Adventurer

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    Jerangle NSW Australia
    Love the case setup :clap

    I use a Pentax DSLR too, I keep mine in a tank bag in front of me, and because my helmet has a flip front I can just pull up and take a few shots without even getting off the bike, i too have to much fun riding and sometimes find it hard to stop and take photos.
    #18
  19. theMISSIONARY

    theMISSIONARY hunting and riding!!

    Joined:
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    that KLR rider........is he a OH&S officer? by any chance
    #19
  20. MARTYJK

    MARTYJK Adventurer

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    Location:
    The wild west. (Perth Australia)
    Great stuff !! Love the photo's and looking forward to the next RR installment !! :clap
    #20