Zed is Dead!

It all started innocently enough…

A friend asked me take his new GTR out for a ride to get the oil moving as he is out of action for a while.

It was only going to be a short ride of around 70km just to clear out the cobwebs. So I invited my son-in-law to ride my bike and we’d grab a pie and coffee at a new little bakery just out of town.


Then on our way home, on a road we’ve ridden many times, a small dirt patch hid a nasty little secret. Approaching the patch of dirt there were no warning signs and it looked fairly innocuous but as you were right on it the roadway gave up its dirty little secret to reveal a large rut with a raised straight edge of tar ready to bite unsuspecting road goers.


Heading north – this looked fairly innocuous


still okay


that’s going to pose a problem


that’s a nasty edge to hit


Oh and look what we found lying down in the grass – and from the direction we came there was no warning signs aywhere to be found.

So what happens when you hit that at speed. Well nothing good that’s for sure. Now I’ve ridden a lot of kilometres in over 30 years of road riding and in that time I’ve done a lot of kilometres on the dirt and in all that time I’ve never had this happen.

One minute you’re riding along enjoying the sun, humming to the harmonics of the motor, and the next you’re fighting to control the beast and to stay upright.

And while I was wrestling the GTR to a stop, Bart was sharing in the same struggle. As we hit that ledge the front ran out of suspension travel transferring all the force directly to the rim which squared off allowing all that important air pressure out. The rear wheel wanting to share the experience was thrown up into the inner guard and with no further travel possible cried enough flattening the rear rim and instantly deflating the rear tyre.  With the suspension fully compressed the rear of the bike was then bounced uncontrolled into the air, landing on a tyre with no air pressure. And I must say that pulling up a 250+kg bike at speed with two flat tyres is really … interesting!

When we stopped I ran back to check on Bart and we could hear hissing of escaping pressure from the back of the bike. But it wasn’t the tyre. Instead the rear shock had blown and all that important trapped gas was being released into the wild.


GTR Rear Wheel


GTR drive shaft – gouges after hitting the preload assembly mounted to the pillion peg.


GTR front wheel


ZX14 Front wheel


ZX14 rear wheel

2 bikes, 4 damaged rims, 3 flat tyres (somehow the 14’s rear tyre stayed up) – we were not going anywhere!

Sitting looking at the stranded bikes. The beautiful new rims of the GTR (only 1500km on the GTR) – now with unsightly large dents in them and the realisation that I have to make a phone call to the owner explaining why he won’t get his new bike back. Hello, about your bike…

So for the next 2.5 hours we retell our story to the many passing motorists who stop to check on us and provide us with water while we wait for a trailer to come and rescue us from the side of the road. I am always encouraged when people stop to make sure you’re okay – probably about a third stopped.


Not the way you want a ride to finish

The obvious damage


  • Front rim and tyre
  • Rear rim and tyre
  • A couple small gouges on the final drive from hitting the preload adjuster.
  • A piece of the tail section has come loose


  • Front rim and tyre
  • Rear rim and tyre
  • Rear hugger is broken
  • Rear shock blown (we heard the gas escape from it)
  • Engine – something has dislodged inside. When I started it to put it on the trailer it made lots of very bad noises. Very bad. So I quickly shut the motor off.

And that’s just what I can see quickly. What I don’t know – the condition of the frame, or the steering head bearings, or front suspension or any number of other things.

So will the 14 live to see 250,000km?


So it was off to shop to be assessed. I have to say that I felt like I was taking my best friend to the knackery.



The GTR has over $10k worth of damage.

My bike was deemed a total loss. I now have to look at what I can replace such an awesome, crazy powerful, all round bike.  I can see a new zed in mt future as there really is nothing else on the market.

Zed is dead. All hail the Zed.

24 thoughts on “Zed is Dead!

  1. Thank God you are both unhurt and alive! I’m sorry about all the damage to the bikes especially to your friend’s GTR. I would not have liked to make that call! Hopefully he has good insurance. I’m just grateful that neither you or Bart were injured. I’m glad too that people stopped to check you were okay and give you water. That gives me hope for humanity. Maybe you should go for a walk this weekend.


  2. Really sorry to hear about the bikes. As a fellow rider I know that losing a bike sometimes feel like loosing family. The good thing is that you guys are not injured. My father always told me that a bike can always be replaced, but limbs and people can’t, so one must be grateful to walk away even if the bike is a total loss.

    I hope that you find a new bike that you’d enjoy, and wishing you many safe, enjoyable journeys in the future.


  3. Yes Zed is a loss, but at least you two are ok and did not hit the tarmac. Bikes can be fixed or replaced, as we age we are harder to repair. Trust me I know from all the off-road racing I did for 38 years. Take your time you’ll find a nice replacement for Zed, won’t be the same, but your new ride will take you many places.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Man that blows. Sadly it happens all to often when road work is not completed in a timely manner.

    Pleased that it was only the bikes that were damaged, it could have been a whole lot worse

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad to hear you two came out unscathed. With all that rim, tire and suspension damage it’s a wonder neither of you hit the ground! You lost an old friend, but soon the excitement of finding a new one will take over, and new adventures will begin.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! What a shame! 😦 ! I mean, glad you two are ok of course, but no one wants to see their beloved two wheeled friend in such a sorry shape! Maybe worth repairing, even if it makes no financial sense. I know I would. I would never let my baby Lea die, though everyone would probably tell me to be reasonable… Otherwise maybe Zed could take up his well deserved place on the mantelpiece? Good luck, whatever you chose to do!!!


  7. I am sorry to hear this bad news. it was in Spain when you told me about your motorcycle trips, these long runs, lots of mileages and I found some analogies to my live. Unfortunately my English was not good enough to explain it at that time more detailed. However reading your tragedy I am feeling sad, motorcycle dying is something I have not experienced so far. All 11 are still alive…So if you are in Germany…I can get you one for a trip. Maybe it can help you for your upcoming selection…?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was just glad to read that you didn’t come off and end up in hospital. Our first thoughts were that someone must be responsible for the upkeep of that bit of road? In the UK you could claim from them! Either way it’s good to hear you’re all in one piece – and I assume another Zed maybe in your sights?


    • thanks Jude
      It is actually quite hard to claim damage back from local councils here. I did lodge a claim which did prompt the road to be repaired which is good – but I don’t expect more than that.

      In regards to a new Zed … You assume correct. I picked up a 2014 ZX14R last week. Stay tuned


  9. Not good to hear about the bikes but lucky you were both unhurt. On the upside, it made a good story to share! Good luck with the repairs and replacement!


  10. Well survived.

    I hit a rock on my KTM Super duke (990 model 05) and had similar ‘deflation at rapid pace’ event.

    rear wheel shattered, broke the magnesium. Front dented but dis stay deflated, would have bounced 1.2-1.4 meters in the air and landed on front wheel (thank F*&k) which led to a slow reverse stoppie….

    Glad you stayed shiney side…both of you. Peace


    • They never stripped it down. Due it’s age and current value the costs just added up too fast so they wrote it off. I was curious to know but not that curious to pay someone to find out…


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