Zane has had a massive year of launches, tests and international travel! Check out his 2023 motorcycling highlights and what he's looking forward to on two-wheels in 2024...

It’s Christmas already, and what a year it has been! In terms of my motorcycling life, I’ve had some once-in-a-lifetime experiences around the world and some I’d rather forget. There have certainly been some spectacular moments with my journalism career in 2023.

The Ténéré 700 World Raid absolutely ate up some of those prime NSW trails.

Zane has been everywhere this year! Covering plenty of events for BikeReview, tackling all kinds of terrain…

I’d be lying if I said a lot of this year wasn’t spent at my desk holding down the fort for the websites (BR and PB). But, I’ve also had some epic experiences all around the world this year, I’ve hit all the major motorcycling disciplines while Jeff has been restrained by his wrist injury.


Check out all of Zane’s articles this year here…


I started this year off on my Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail, which marked the beginning of 12 months on this, quite frankly, weird and wacky motorcycle. It’s been a few years since I last had a long-termer and a few years since I’ve even owned my own motorcycle, so it’s been an excellent year to help me get back out on the road without the constraints of a two-week test.

If you get the chance, ride through Thirroul to experience the Sea Cliff Bridge. It's seriously spectacular.

I started this year off on my Benelli Leoncino 800 Trail, which marked the beginning of 12 months on the long-termer.

I managed to clock up a few thousand kilometres on the Benelli before handing it back, and you can read all my thoughts on the bike in my final test, but it certainly feels like I’m letting go of one of my own. Luckily, I kept it upright for the entire year with a few close calls that all seemed to be when I was lane-splitting when I had to head to the city or the airport.



I started the plethora of launches I attended in 2023 with a trip down to Melbourne for the 2023 Suzuki V-STROM 1050DE launch, where I felt myself strengthening my off-road abilities. Prior to testing adventure bikes, I hadn’t ridden on the dirt since I was 14 on my CR125 when I broke my feet, so the steep learning curve of a 100kg bike off-road versus a 200+ kg adventure bike made me extremely nervous. The fears soon disappeared as I instantly reverted to being a teenager without an worries on the loose stuff and remember some of my motocross training.

The Gravel mode TCS sees an added level of safety for riders who want some intervention out on the loose stuff.

I started the plethora of launches I attended in 2023 with a trip down to Melbourne for the 2023 Suzuki V-STROM 1050DE launch, where I felt myself strengthening my off-road abilities.

Surviving that launch, the V-STROM 800DE was up next in New Zealand. The conditions were severely adverse, and the roads were extremely slippery. I did manage to keep it upright through here, but the ride was just a ball of anxiety, especially when you’re riding a bike that’s not your own.

The V-STROM 800DE was up next in New Zealand. The conditions were severely adverse, and the roads were extremely slippery.

The V-STROM 800DE was up next in NZ. The conditions were severely adverse, and the roads were extremely slippery.

Side note: The general public has no idea what it’s like to have thousands of dollars belonging to someone else underneath you. If you’ve ever ridden your mate’s brand-new motorcycle around the block, you’d know you would be on your best behaviour. Now imagine that, but you do have to ride the bike hard to test it properly; it’s a constant struggle to walk the line between not being the one that crashes all the time and ensuring the bike has been pushed to the limit.



After the New Zealand trip, I had a short break from adventure bikes. As much as I enjoy something different, it’s certainly not my favourite form of motorcycling. I know I’m not the age bracket these bikes appeal to, but I can understand why people buy them.

Luckily, the next trip on the list is just a quick one down to Melbourne to ride the 2023 Royal Enfield range.

Luckily, the next trip on the list is just a quick one down to Melbourne to ride the 2023 Royal Enfield range.

The next trip on the list is just a quick one down to Melbourne to ride the 2023 Royal Enfield range, where I end up shocking myself with how much I enjoyed the Hunter 350. When this bike was released, I turned my nose up at it because it was a bit of a nothing bike on paper. Royal Enfield’s never win on the spec sheet, so their styling often saves them. In the case of the Hunter, it certainly didn’t have the looks to save it.



And so armed with the ride of the Classic 350 that I certainly didn’t love, I had low hopes. Behold one of the most fun motorcycles I’ve ridden from the brand. The brakes and chassis just worked so well I would absolutely love to turn one of these into a little road racer for a laugh. The engine was lethargic, but it added to the appeal of the bike…



A few more launches in Melbourne, including the Vespa launch that I managed to bunny hop the GTS on and the Tuono 660 Factory, made up the first half of 2023. I had a trip to Europe planned for June/July for my first overseas visit (besides New Zealand) since I was 18. Just before I left, I had the CFMOTO 450SR launch, which was excellent fun for the first five minutes before it started hammering down on the Albury/Wodonga circuit.

Zane had the extraordinarily lucky experience to ride some of the first bikes out of the TVS Norton ownership.

Zane had the extraordinarily lucky experience to ride some of the first bikes out of the TVS Norton ownership.

The highlight of my year was the short break from my holiday to give the new Norton Commando a ride and check out the all-new factory in Solihull, U.K. I dreamed of owning a Norton when I was growing up; they were always the coolest-looking bikes with their sleek gloss black and gold accents. Funnily enough, the Commando was not an amazing bike, conventionally speaking; it had a few significant flaws that took it away from being the “perfect bike”. I still fell in love with it though…



Other special little trips during my time in England included a run out to the Triumph Factory in Hinckley and a trip to the most amazing motorcycle museum I’ve ever been to, the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull. If you’re ever in England, it’s an absolute must to head out there to check out the most amazing display of British two-wheeled engineering.

"I can wholeheartedly say that I’m impressed with how well the Roctane handles the twisties of Putty Road."

The R 18 Roctane is undoubtedly a left-field bike that made for plenty of fun for my first-ever full run through Putty Road.

Back in Australia, I had the 2023 BMW R 18 Roctane launch up next; this was undoubtedly a left-field bike that made for plenty of fun for my first-ever full run through Putty Road. I can’t believe the number of spectacular roads that Greater Sydney has to offer. I’m envious as we don’t have this sort of selection in and around the Illawarra.



The most brutal launch I had all year was up next, the Yamaha Tenere 700 World Raid. Remember how I said I was finally comfortable riding off-road? Yeah, scratch that. Not even an hour into the ride, I whacked a tree stump that sent me over the handlebars headfirst. I’ve had a lot of crashes on the track and very few on the road, but this one absolutely killed me.

The 2023 Yamaha Tenere 700 World Raid launch was certainly the most difficult riding of the year...

The 2023 Yamaha Tenere 700 World Raid launch was certainly the most difficult riding of the year…

What followed after that was two days of exhausting and terrifying riding. Jumps, ruts, sand and rocks. As much as I love being the best at everything I put my mind to, I have to concede that tough adventure riding is simply not for me. At 24, it’s starting to hurt when I hit the ground, and I have a good few decades ahead of me to make it hurt worse. I enjoy riding motorcycles; I don’t enjoy being injured.

Just when it was looking to be a year of being out of my element, I finally had the opportunity to show that I’m not just a writer during the Kawasaki ZX-4RR launch at Morgan Park circuit in Queensland. This was the first time I felt like I’d really pushed a stock bike to its absolute limit for the year, and despite being out of practice (no road racing for me this year), I still managed to ride the wheels off the bike properly.

Within half a lap, Zane had enough confidence in the ZX-4RR to put the hammer down...

Just when it was looking to be a year of being out of my element, I finally had the opportunity to show that I’m not just a writer during the Kawasaki ZX-4RR launch at Morgan Park circuit in Queensland.

I adored this bike; it was the only bike I’ve seriously considered buying this year. The price, the engine, the suspension and the chassis were just to die for. Riding the bike had me thinking of all the parts I would throw on it, how I would make it my own, and all the roads I’d love to tackle on it. It wasn’t the perfect bike, as very few seem to be, but I believed I could transform it into the perfect bike for me.



However, bike fitness showed its importance as every session I came into the pits, I was wrecked. In my teen years, I would be on track at least once a month, and it really helped to grow my confidence as well as my bike fitness. Now, I’m lucky to get two track sessions a year after selling all of my racebikes.

"If it wasn’t such a great helmet to wear, I would hang it up on my shelf for display, but I will certainly be using it for any adventure rides."

I finished the year of launches up with a trip to Japan for the Arai Tour-X5 helmet launch and a tour of all the factories.

I finished the year of launches up with a trip to Japan for the Arai Tour-X5 helmet launch and a tour of all the factories. In terms of riding, this was undoubtedly the most exciting launch I’ve been on. The roads in Japan are second to none, and the speeds we were going seemed to squash any thought that everyone follows the rules over there.



I weirdly fell in love with the Honda CB1300 Bol d’Or I was riding over there. Again, this bike was not a conventionally excellent motorcycle, but the engine and styling on this bike is gorgeous. Not only that, but it’s stupidly comfortable to ride and stupidly smooth to ride for 1300. It just needs tweaks to the handling and some extra tech for me to be all over it.

"Smashing the CVO through my local twisties, the bike just wants to sail from side to side and holds its line so accurately."

2023 was also the year of the Harley-Davidson for me. The only bikes I tested outside of a launch or quick spin were Harley-Davidsons; all of them changed my mind on how I feel about the cruiser segment…

2023 was also the year of the Harley-Davidson for me. The only bikes I tested outside of a launch or quick spin were Ducti’s and Harley-Davidsons; all of the Harley’s changed my mind on how I feel about the cruiser segment; maybe I’m just starting to grow up. The CVO Road Glide was so close to being the best bike I’ve ridden all year because I had that thing grinding footpegs around corners, no worries, but the price and some quirks with the engine seemed to let it down a little.



The Low Rider ST Fast Johnnie caused me a lot of mental strain as I was stupidly careful with that bike due to its price tag and special edition paint. Believe the shock I had when I parked it and turned around to see this freaking thing lying on the ground. At least if I crashed the thing, I’d have an excuse, but no, it just fell off the stand. How annoying…

Imagine if these were LAMS approved, we could see these absolutely flying off the showroom floor.

My number one bike of the year has to go to the ZX-4RR. It’s the perfect bike for those looking to get out on track without something too over the top, and it certainly takes a lot to extract all of the performance that this bike has to offer.

My number one bike of the year has to go to the ZX-4RR. It’s the perfect bike for those looking to get out on track without something too over the top, and it certainly takes a lot to extract all of the performance that this bike has to offer, so more experienced riders won’t get bored with it.

As for what I’m excited about next year? Well, this year EICMA was extraordinarily quiet and nothing popped up there that really piqued my interest. The new Ducati Hypermotard seems like an excellent ride, but the XSR900 GP just looks stunning with the new fairing on it. Saying I’m stressed about the direction that motorcycling is taking with the stringent EURO regulations is an understatement. I’m hoping that I can be proven wrong and some exciting models will start to come out over the next few months, but it’s not looking overly promising.



As for 2024? I’m planning to get back out on a motocross bike. I feel like it’s what I need to grow my confidence on the dirt a little more. But, finding time for hobbies has become increasingly difficult as my race cars sit idle in the shed, awaiting for some time to drive them. Maybe another hobby will help me dust the cobwebs off everything.

Either way, it’s been a full-on year, and I’m looking forward to doing a heap more riding next year. Make sure you have plenty of fun out on the bike over the Christmas break, and wear your bloody riding gear. Catch you next year – Zane.


Editor’s Note: If you are reading this article on any website other than BikeReview.com.au, please report it to BikeReview via our contact page, as it has been stolen or re-published without authority.


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