Monthly Archives: April 2014

Rego options.

Here in Australia we have a few options to legally ride our AG200 off private property. If you get caught riding an unregistered AG (or any bike) on public roads, state forest or any other place not deemed private property, the fines are steep. No registration means no insurance and in an increasingly litigious country, no rego is becoming frowned upon and people are getting stomped on hard when caught. Here is how you stay within the law on an AG200 in Victoria, Australia. I’m guessing there is not much difference in other states.

Full road registration: Ever wondered why the Honda postie is so popular here in OZ? Why do silly, grown men and their mates go away on silly, boozy trips and travel huge distances? I can give two reasons. One is shown here. As of the date of this post, the rego for an AG200 is $463.40 and that is just for renewal, add quite a bit more to rego one from scratch. The postie is around $100 cheaper to get on the road than the AG200 while the second of the reasons I alluded to above is compliance.

There are issues with most AG200s in Australia. To get full registration to legally ride anywhere in the country, the bike needs to have what we call compliance. Before the manufacturers are allowed to sell a vehicle for use on our roads, it has to go through a comprehensive test so that it complies with our rules.

Get out there and ride!
Get out there and ride!

Early iterations of the AG200 all had this “compliance plate” riveted to the head stem but as time went on and registration options (see below) became available, Yamaha imported a version that didn’t have compliance to ride on Australian roads. As farmers were the largest buyer and they rarely left the boundary of their property and when they did they had this new (cheaper) option of Farm reg., then they started to move away from the dearer complied version.

So yes, that means that Yamaha sold two versions of the AG200 for quite a while. A complied one and a non-complied one. Not many bought the complied one because they were dearer by a few hundred dollars and that’s why a fully complied, late model AG200 is quite rare.

Farm Registration: Is probably not much use to most readers. You have to be a primary producer, no built up areas and venture no more than 25kms from your farm. Pretty limited really, but if you are a cocky and don’t stray too far from home then this would be a viable option. A lot cheaper than full rego too but I didn’t quiz Vicroads on the exact rates.

Club Registration: This is another option which is barely worth mentioning but here we are. If you can prove you are a member of a relevant club(!) and your vehicle is 25 years old from the time you apply for the permit then you have transport! Well, not really. There are restrictions on this option that may make it unviable for your use.

Recreational Registration: This is the option that I use to date. You can only use the motorcycle away from built up areas and on secondary roads. No load carrying which is a bit of a bummer though. With the carrying capacity of the AG it seems a shame not to be able to use it and go away for multi-day rides but unfortunately it’s a no no under this rego option. The main advantage (other than cost) of this is that your bike does not have to be fully complied for road use in Australia. So even though you are limited to what you can do in comparison to full registration, you can get out there and do most things.

So in general, to get around all the rego restrictions you will have to drop the coin for the full rego assuming you can find a fully complied AG200. I might have an alternative to this complied bike issue though, so watch out for an up-coming post on how to get an AG200 fully complied on the cheap.

It won’t change the fact that you will still have to drop a significant amount of money on the yearly registration fee that may be more than the bike is worth! How much do you value your AG adventures? I’m trying to get my head around this one as we speak so we will have to work this out together. *group hug*

Of course, if you don’t live in Victoria your laws will be different but not by much I would imagine. Anyway, go and check out the relevant agencies in your state for more info.

Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, West Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory,

Cheers

AGman

AG200 riding test – ADB style!

When I was growing up as a bike mad kid, the closest to a person I would call a hero was the late Geoff Eldridge. Geoff was the editor of Australian Dirt Bike Magazine and I hung off every word he wrote when I was an impressionable adolescent. I used to read some other road bike focused mags as well and the editorials just seemed to be old guys whining about the good old days. John Rooth, Jeff Seddon and who ever was writing for REVS in the day just banged on about government legislation effecting bikers but they never influenced anything outside of their respective mags. GE seemed to be everywhere when it came to the dirt bike industry in Australia and was at the big events riding in them or writing about them.

I know he was an owner/editor of his mag but I bet if he was still alive today he would still be riding and writing about dirt bikes. There would be no articles about caravans, 4WDs or modified street cars to be seen! I also know that if there was this thing called heaven and he was looking down right now, he would be calling me a raging moron for wasting my time doing a blog on the AG200…bite me Geoff!

IMG_0638
I was there!

I always regret not introducing myself to him when I had the chance during the 1992 ISDE held at Cessnock, NSW (Part1, Part2 here). I was a mechanic/gopher for the South African team (a young Alfie Cox was their gun enduro rider at the time) and Geoff used to walk up and down the Parc Ferme (he rode in the event) to check out what the other teams were doing and many times I had the opportunity to say hi but I wimped out. My social skills have marginally improved since then!

ADB used to delve deep into the technical function of the dirt bikes they tested and had a very narrow view on excellence and how a bike should perform i.e. racing conditions! They despised the 4 strokes and trail bikes of the time but you always knew what the yard stick was in regards to the best bike for the intended purpose, they pulled no punches and didn’t  favour manufacturers. His magazine taught me a lot, even if sometimes it was in hindsight.

So what’s all this got to do with the AG200 then? My first real dirt bike was a YZ125H. I thought it was the ducks guts back then and I would hear no bad words about the bike. The truth of the matter was that it was a pig! The engine was of good design and had plenty of power for the time but the handling was poor, real poor. The suspension was OK but there was something with the handling that was NQR.

I thought that not being able to pick an accurate line was normal on a bike, as was the whole front end “tucking under” in slow, tight corners. Cornering always seemed to be a lottery with this bike. The only thing it seemed to do well were well defined ruts and you had to attack them with lots of confidence and aggression to get them right. Berms, flat and off camber corners were just unpredictable for me at speed, and because I spent a lot of my time trail riding this YZ, most of the corners were of the ones that it seemed to be unpredictable on.

The ADB tests told me this in the shootouts with the RM125 of the same year but I was deaf to it at that time. Suspect handling was this bike’s Achilles heel and I constantly seemed to be picking myself up from crashes after losing the front end of this bike. I experimented with tires and pressures, suspension settings, riding style and all sorts of things but just couldn’t make it any better. My brother at the time owned a IT250H and it seemed to display similar traits to my bike so I gave up and just rode the thing assuming it was just dirt bike riding in general.

Then I sold the YZ and got an IT200…everything changed! The IT was not the gold standard for dirt bike handling at the time by any means, but it was light years ahead of the YZ! I could finally blast around everywhere and have total confidence in the front end and in fact I never lost the front on any of my dirt bikes since. It showed me how bad that frame geometry and rear suspension system that Yamaha was using at the time was. It also told me that I should of listened to the testers of ADB at the time (Geoff or Murray Watt?), and realised that it wasn’t how bikes should be. We can do better than this.

And you are still wondering what the hell all this has this has to do with the AG200 right? A lot actually, imagine my surprise when I first rode an AG200 and all these issues came rolling back into my world twenty years later! The AG has the same rear suspension system that those early 80s era YZs and ITs that I used to kick around on in my teens…and guess what? It has the same problems as them!

If you ever intend to push the AG past it’s intended role as an agricultural bike then make sure you have good protective riding gear because the front end is as vague as you could get on any motorcycle I’d say! There is no feel for what it’s doing no matter how good a front tire you have on it. Any sort of excessive speed (60 to 70kmh +) over rough ground is just terrifying sometimes!

“So what, it’s only an AG bike” I hear you say…have you ridden a CTX200, 250 Stockman or a Trojan? While still being…well…agricultural, they don’t scare you like the AG200 can. In fact, I’d go as far to say that if you are just starting out riding and are looking for something to learn how to ride on, I would give the AG a wide berth because it may actually discourage you from bikes in general. Yes it’s OK for just fafing around the place learning how to change gears and all that but it won’t be long ’til you learn that speed = fun. And speed on the AG200 (in a relative sense of the word 🙂 ) has to be treated with respect.

The AG has a wheelbase of 1345mm and is surprisingly light at 112kg with fuel. Both front and rear suspenders could be best described as wooden and the frame is by no means a monster in strength either so a bit of speed can quickly overwhelm the whole show. I have seen farmers have monumental get-offs on these bikes and they all put it down to bad luck but I know better…a little bit of rain to make the ground a bit slippery and it lowers the threshold of the abilities of these bikes. Throw in a bloke who probably can’t ride to save himself and some tires that are a bit down and we have an on-farm OH&S disaster!

So why the effort with this blog then? Why all this info if the thing is such a dog? Well, not everyone will want to push it past it’s limits. The best thing about the AG is that if you stay within it’s limits and maintain it with respect, it will repay you with fantastic efficiency and reliability. The drum brakes are saying; “don’t push me past my limits” as is the suspension and the handling. If there is one thing it does well, if you’re taking notice, is it will tell you its limits quickly. If the front end is not feeling right then you are going too fast. Back off a bit and enjoy the scenery!

Yep, if GE was still alive he would say the AG200 was an utter piece of shite! But that would be from his perspective and from a purist dirt bike riders perspective I would agree. But what if you’re into photography and you want to get into a remote area to photograph a rare bird nesting? Ever tried that on your power bomb fitted WR450! You will scare away most of the wildlife in a 10km radius! What if you’re into gold fossicking and you have found a great  little patch and want to keep it to yourself? Quiet and under the radar is the order of the day here. How about you just want to go to your little private piece of bush heaven that seems to be the only thing that relaxes you and prevents you going insane in our crazy modern world? The last thing you want to do is get there fast and wondering if your fuel capacity will make it or if the rangers/cops will ping you for excessive noise!

Of course there are plenty of other bikes out there (like the other models listed above) that will get you to your destination quietly, comfortably and with a bit of carrying capacity. But have they been made for over quarter of a century? Are there literary thousands of them laying around the country waiting for a bit of love to bring them back? Do they have sister models with interchangeable parts to swap into them? Can they be had for a few hundred bucks? Do they have a nut job with a dedicated blog telling you how to fix them? Nooooooo they don’t… 🙂

RIP GE

Cheers

AGman