He cooked up crazy ride

A for­mer oil ex­plorer has lapped Aus­tralia on a unique bike, writes Mark Hinch­liffe.

The Advertiser - Motoring - - MOTORCYCLES -

AWORLD land speed record for a bike that runs on used chip-fry­ing oil is the next chal­lenge for Paul Carter. The for­mer oil ex­plorer has just com­pleted a book on his his­toric first lap around Aus­tralia on a diesel-pow­ered mo­tor­cy­cle run­ning on used cook­ing oil.

His next plan is to go 300km/h on a new bike with a Holden As­tra tur­bod­iesel car en­gine.

It all started af­ter the English mi­grant fin­ished work­ing in off­shore oil ex­plo­ration in Third World coun­tries and wrote two books about the ex­pe­ri­ence – Don’t Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I’m a Pi­ano Player in a Whore­house and This is Not a Drill.

‘‘Af­ter that, I got mar­ried, had a baby and found my­self liv­ing in sub­ur­ban Perth,’’ he says. ‘‘I got bored.

‘‘One day, I told my wife, Clare, that I wanted to do a lap of Aus­tralia on my bike and she asked if I’d write about it. I said ‘Yes’ and she said ‘What’s so dif­fer­ent about that’.‘‘I’ve been an ec­o­rap­ing oil in­dus­try van­dal for 20 years so I did a bit of re­search and de­cided to ride a bike on en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly fuel,’’ he says.

The 40-year-old started search­ing the in­ter­net for a diesel bike that would run on cook­ing oil and found them in Ger­many, Ja­pan and the US, but he couldn’t get them in­sured to ride in Aus­tralia.

‘‘Then Clare Googled biodiesel bikes in Aus­tralia and found that the Ade­laide Uni had made one and en­tered it in a race on cook­ing oil,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s the only diesel bike in Aus­tralia that would run on cook­ing oil.

‘‘So I talked some oil ser­vice com­pa­nies into spon­sor­ing me in the mid­dle of the GFC which was the hard­est part of the whole ven­ture.’’

What fol­lowed was a 14,500km ride an­ti­clock­wise around Aus­tralia from Ade­laide over three months us­ing 600 litres of cook­ing oil at 2.9 litres/100km.

The bike, nick­named Betty, is based on a 1996 Ca­giva W16 frame with a 400cc sin­gle-cylin­der ir­ri­ga­tion pump en­gine with 8hp (6kW) and con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion.

Carter had to make the fuel in ad­vance as it took about 12 hours to fil­ter one tank full of used cook­ing oil. It was car­ried in a sec­ond-hand coun­cil truck driven by fam­ily and friends.

Carter says the trip was ‘‘a lot of fun’’ and he met some ‘‘re­ally cool peo­ple’’, but it wasn’t all easy rid­ing.

‘‘We were get­ting a lot of abuse at the start be­cause the bike was so slow and hold­ing peo­ple up,’’ he says.

‘‘So we did a lot of night rid­ing to make up the time and I had run-ins with a lot of emus, roos and buf­falo try­ing to kill me. How­ever, af­ter some me­dia cov­er­age and with the truck­ies talk­ing to each other, peo­ple started to recog­nise the bike and ask ‘Is that thing diesel?’ or ‘Is that the chip burner I’ve heard about?’.

‘‘Some road houses were even of­fer­ing me chip oil but it took so long to fil­ter I couldn’t ac­cept.’’

It wouldn’t be an epic bike yarn with­out a crash tale: ‘‘Five kilo­me­tres out of Lon­greach, I high-sided the bike pulling off the road for a pee,’’ he says.

‘‘It hit a pot­hole full of bull­dust and I woke up in hos­pi­tal with ro­tor cup dam­age, three bro­ken ribs and snapped groin mus­cles.

‘‘Five days later, I got out and we took the bike to Dar­win for re­pairs.’’

Betty’s en­gine is now mounted on a stand in the Na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Mu­seum at Nabiac, NSW, while Ade­laide Uni­ver­sity has put an­other en­gine in the bike and is dis­play­ing it with Carter’s rid­ing gear.

A DVD on the jour­ney will be re­leased next month.

Is That Thing Diesel? by Paul Carter, pub­lished by Allen & Un­win, $24.99.

Mo­tor­cy­clist Paul Carter on the Nullar­bor and, inset, the cover of his lat­est book.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.