In honor of our 2014 Super Streetfighter Smackdown, for this week’s Church of MO feature, we bring you a quick ride on the predecessor to our current Streetfighter king, the 2002 Aprilia Tuono. Penning this piece is none other than our returning duo of MO veterans, the lovable curmudgeon, John Burns and our new Editorial Director, Sean Alexander. Since first writing this piece, Burnsie and Alexander have been around the moto-journo industry. But they’re back now, and their wordsmanship is as sharp as it was all those many moons ago. Sean only got to spend a weekend aboard the Tuono, but it sounds like any longer and he likely would have killed himself from a lack of self-restraint and a nasty bout of pneumonia. Thanks for making it back, boys!
Tuono Means Thunder!
One Weekend is Just That, One Weak End
By John Burns and Sean Alexander
Torrance, California, November 2, 2002
We managed to grab a quick spin upon Aprilia’s tasty new Tuono R for the weekend, which of course does not constitute an actual Road Test (not here at MO anyway).A weekend, though, was more than enough to conclude that our man Yossef was not just whistling Dixie in his earlier dispatch from the Old World. This is about the most exciting bike we’ve ridden since, well, last month’s pretty exciting but not nearly so powerful Buell Lightning. (There’s a whole climactic theme happening lately.) We also had an S4 Monster in the hangar and couldn’t help comparing.Item 1: Horsepower. There’s a bunch of it in the Tuono. A slight engine recalibration sees this thing responding even more readily and smoother to the throttle than the other very good 60-degree Italian twins — or maybe it’s just that the Tuono gets a one-tooth smaller countershaft sprocket? All we know is that the Tuono rears up on its hind wheel in second gear the way other bikes of its ilk do in first. Compare its dyno curve to that of the other top-drawer Italian naked-bike — bearing in mind this Tuono has Aprilia’s performance exhaust and chip in place. Also bear in mind that the mundane non-R Tuono will have the identical motor (just not the Ohlins suspension, carbon-fiber bodywork, OZ wheels and four-pad Brembo calipers). No reason why you can’t bolt that stuff on later as finances permit — and cool Mille bits like adjustable footpegs will fit the Tuono too.
Carbon, carbon everywhere and yet, not a steak al carbone to eat.
Italian Shoes. That’s how the Tuono fits. In contrast to the Monster’s ungainly and unchangeable grip presentation, the Tuono’s tubular handlebar makes it a big dirt bike, just like Yossef said. The seat’s fine (the R even comes with a “carbon tissue” covered one), and we think the tank is the same as on the Mille — really skinny between the thighs and and therefore an excellent fit.
The less spectacular Tuono’s Boge rear shock and 43mm Showa fork might not deliver quite the ride the of the Ohlins stuff on the R (which is fantastic over slabby concrete and everywhere else), but for $5,300 fewer dollars we’d be willing to make the sacrifice, personally. And Showa and Boge have not exactly been twiddling their thumbs in recent years either.
This is where 998 cubic centimeters of hydro-carbons, carbon-monoxide and other gasses exit every-other revolution of the crank.
The regular Tuono will sell for $11,999, which is not exactly cheap, but if you have that kind of cake what the heck; this bike is worth it. And 12 big ones is about what you’d pay for the highly prized Triumph Speed Triple, considerably less than the discontinued eight-valve Ducati Monster. Tuono R’s are already in dealers, with Tuono regulars supposed to arrive by the end of December.
Watch Sean decode the human genome while riding the Tuono R… Decode, Sean, decode:
I don’t have enough self-restraint to live with a bike like the Tuono R on a daily basis. I didn’t even have the restraint to come home when my nose started running and my hands went numb from an unseasonably cold Saturday afternoon/evening.
The Aprilia Tuono R, is it worthy to be parked next to your cinderblock wall?
I was feeling more mellow Sunday morning. I cleaned the bike and drooled over its details until my beautiful ex-girlfriend Victoria showed up for a ride on what I’d touted as the Ferrari of motorcycles–hope springs eternal. Well, I had a nice two-hour ride, but 5’9″ Victoria was less well taken care of by the passenger accommodations (same as a Mille). By our mid-ride stop, she was complaining of a sore lower back and very cramped legs. At least the Tuono’s loud bark didn’t scare her anymore and she seemed to be enjoying the feel of riding and the wind, so I have the satisfaction of knowing I have done a good deed for motorcyclists everywhere.
Droning back down the 405 to MO HQ Monday morning, I passed under L.A.’s Metro Rail commuter track and watched another typically empty train shuffle across the freeway. A little math is in order here. The Metro Blue line cost $877,000,000 to build. The daily passenger load is around 63,000. Since most of those are regular two-way passengers lets call it 35,000 total individual passengers. That means that if the state of California had given every single rider a brand new $17,200 Tuono R instead of building this system, it would have saved $275,000,000 and given natural selection a big shot in the arm. See? Affordable Fun. Did I mention that as I made this observation I was suffering from a 103-degree fever and was rapidly descending into a full-blown case of pneumonia, collapsed lung and 105-degree peaks?
To mark Easter, this edition of the Weekend Awesome presents the time the California Highway Patrol pulled over the Easter Bunny after he was spotted riding a Ural.
A ABC news station tracked down the Easter Bunny, and his “friend” Edward Bell to get their side of the story. Despite the fact “E.B.” was wearing a DOT-approved helmet, CHP says he wasn’t wearing it properly. Fortunately for E.B., the patrolmen let him off without a citation.
Still, E.B. says he learned his lesson.
“Safety’s always first,” E.B. says. “Wear all the gear all the time.”
Fans of off-road racing will be happy to hear that after nearly six years, the public can see a sneak peak of the film “PENTON: The John Penton Story” with the newly released trailer featuring John Penton, his hall of fame family and a few of the motorcycle industry legends that were interviewed for the film.
The nearly four-minute trailer teases the entire film and specific stories the audience will get to see in the final film when it opens in theaters on June 20th. Scored by the film’s composer and music editor Chris Brady, the trailer features: John Penton along with his sons Jack, Jeff and Tom. It also includes a few of the over 100 interviews for the film that spanned the world. Look for Malcolm Smith, Dick Mann, Carl Cranke, Marty Smith, Danny LaPorte, Bruce McDougal, Paul Danik and current Red Bull/KTM Supercross star, Ryan Dungey along with KTM’s Kalman Cseh and John’s wife Donna.
If you’re not familiar with the off-road racing legend, John Penton is an American icon and motorcycle pioneer who’s life on a farm in Ohio led to a long list of motorcycling accomplishments and international notoriety. With his family and a band of loyal followers, he changed the motorcycle industry, forever. PENTON: The John Penton Story will be a feature length documentary narrated by Grammy Winner Lyle Lovett with over 100 interviews of the largest cast of motorcycle legends ever assembled on film. The film’s production was funded through the innovative “crowd funding” website Kickstarter.com and will be released in June of 2014 by Gathr Films in Los Angeles.
“It’s great to finally show the industry and all the people who supported this project a little sneak peak at what we have been working on for so long,” said Todd Huffman, the film’s director and producer at Pipeline Digital Media (PDM). “We hope this gives a little insight on what an important story and family this is when the film is released in June.”
“Our family is excited and humbled to share our story with the motorcycle community,” said Jack Penton, AMA Hall of Fame Motorcyclist. “We look forward to enthusiasts, dealers, clubs and more working with Gathr Films to bring the film to their town.”
June 20th is an off weekend for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Series and will be the opening weekend of the film in select cities. It will be premiered earlier in Cleveland, OH on June 9th and Hollywood, CA on June 17th. Information on premieres will be available at http://pentonmovie.com
The rebirth of Indian Motorcycles under the stewardship of Polaris Industries is the most significant industry development in years. Indian has been an iconic American brand for more than a century, and it still resonates among older motorcyclists.
Now with the weight of a well-capitalized, engineering-based company behind it, the latest Indians are poised for a successful resurrection. And unlike many of the pretenders to Harley-Davidson’s throne, which have a history of being quickly derided by the bar-and-shield crowd, the Indians, at worst, receive grudging respect. More often, they’re quite appreciated, as discussed in my Indian Acceptance editorial.
The Polaris chapter of Indian Motorcycle’s history begins with three new models including the Indian Chieftain.
So, with Indian Motorcycles once again becoming prominent, we thought we’d look back at the rich history of the marque to find its notable milestones.
1901: Indian Motocycles (sic) is launched by Oscar Hedstrom and George Hendee in Springfield, MA. Prototype and two production units were built.
1902: First Indian motorcycle sold to public.
1903: Indian’s co-founder and chief engineer Oscar Hedstrom sets world motorcycle speed record at 56 mph.
1906: Indian debuts the first American production V-Twin.
1911: Indian sweeps the top three positions in first Isle of Man Mountain Course Race.
1913: First swingarm and leaf-spring rear suspension in the industry is introduced. Hedstrom resigns “after disagreements with the Board of Directors regarding dubious practices to inflate the company’s stock values,” according to Wikipedia.
1914: Debuts world’s first motorcycle with electric lights and starter.
The ThunderStroke 111 engine may be brand new but Polaris took care to keep classic Indian engine designs.
1916: Hendee resigns from Indian.
1918: Indian unleashes a racing motorcycle powered by an overhead-cam, four-valve-per-cylinder Powerplus V-Twin that exceeds 120 mph.
1920: The Scout makes its introduction with a 42-degree V-Twin.
1922: The first Chief is unveiled, powered by a 61 cubic-inch (1000cc) V-Twin engine.
1923: The Big Chief debuts with a 74 ci (1200cc) V-Twin.
1927: The four-cylinder Ace is introduced, re-launched in 1928 as the Indian 401. Production of four-cylinder models ends in 1942.
1930: Indian merged with Du Pont Motors.
1932: Skirted fenders and saddle tank are added to the Chief.
1934: The Chief gets deeper valanced fenders and additional streamlining.
“American Pickers” TV star, Mike Wolfe owns this 1935 Indian Chief.
1937: Indian’s familiar enclosed chain guard enters production. “Iron Man” Ed Kretz laps the entire field on a Sport Scout to win the Inaugural Daytona 200.
1939: Wartime production includes an order for 5,000 Chiefs with sidecars for the government of France.
1940: The Chief gets full skirted fenders and introduces “plunger” (spring coupled to an oil-dampened shaft) rear suspension.
1945: Controlling interest of the company is sold and consolidated into the Torque Engineering Company.
1947: Indian-head fender light (“war bonnet”) is introduced. Chrome components make their debut.
1948: Floyd Emde uses a 648 Scout to win the first Daytona 200 held on new beach/road course.
Replica of Emde’s 648 Indian Scout ridden to victory in the 1948 Daytona 200. It’s likely the new Indian will one day launch a new Scout.
1950: Telescopic fork is introduced. Engine enlarged to 79 c.i. (1300cc).
1951: Chief re-emerges after a one-year hiatus with a new 80 ci engine.
1953: Indian ceases production after failing to sell many motorcycles in the post-war era.
1955: Brockhouse Engineering buys the rights to Indian and sells rebadged Royal Enfields for five years.
1960: Associated Motor Cycles of England acquires the rights to Indian, but AMC goes into liquidation in 1962.
1963: American businessman Floyd Clymer begins using the Indian name on Italjet-sourced minibikes (the Papoose), apparently without acquiring legal rights to the Indian trademark.
1967: Burt Munro rides his modified 1920 Scout to an under-1000cc land-speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. His 183.586-mph mark remains unbeaten today.
1970: Clymer dies and his wife sells the alleged Indian assets to attorney Alan Newman, who continues selling rebadged Italjet two-stroke motorcycles.
1977: The Newman-era Indian declares bankruptcy.
1992: The Clymer claim to the trademark is transferred to Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Co. Inc. of Berlin, a corporation headed by Philip S. Zanghi.
1994: Indian Century V-Twin Chief prototype is rolled out by Wayne Baughman, president of Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Incorporated, in New Mexico.
1997: Zanghi is convicted of securities fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering
1998: Eller Industries was given permission to purchase the Indian copyright from the receivers of the previous owner. Noted designer James Parker unveils renderings of a cruiser, sport cruiser and a sportbike. The public unveiling of the cruiser is thwarted by a restraining order from the receiver who claimed Eller had failed to meet the terms of the agreement. In December, a Federal bankruptcy court allowed the sale of the trademark to IMCOA Licensing America Inc.
1999: Indian Motorcycle Company of America is born from the merger of nine companies after the trademark-rights battle finally gets sorted. Production begins on a new Chief by California Motorcycle Company in Gilroy, CA, powered by an S&S-sourced Harley-Davidson clone V-Twin.
2002: The 100 c.i. Powerplus V-Twin, a heavily revised clone motor identifiable by new “bottlecap” cylinder-head design, debuts.
2003: Production of Gilroy Indians is halted in September after the company enters bankruptcy proceedings.
2004: Stephen Julius and Steve Heese, successful revivers of the struggling Chris-Craft Boat Company, acquire trademark rights and intellectual properties to Indian under the auspices of Stellican Limited, a private-equity firm.
2006: The newly formed Indian Motorcycle Company announces production in a new facility in King’s Mountain, North Carolina.
2008: Production begins on the 2009 Indian Chiefs based on the CMC-era Indians.
The 2011 Indian Dark Horse, one of the final pre-Polaris models produced..
2009: Powerplus V-Twin is enlarged to 105 c.i. (1720cc) and fitted with fuel injection.
2011: Polaris Industries, the company behind Victory Motorcycles, acquires the Indian brand in April. In August, production shifts to Victory’s factory in Spirit Lake, IA.
2012: Production of the King’s Mountain-era Chief continues while development of the all-new Chief gets closer to realization. Facilities in Spirit Lake, IA, and Osceola, WI, are updated to accommodate production of new Chiefs.
2013: Final year of production of the King’s Mountain Chiefs. All-new Thunder Stroke 111 engine is introduced in March during Bike Week at Daytona Beach. The 2014 Chief three-model lineup is introduced on August 3 at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Classic is the bare-bones cruiser, while the extra-chromed Vintage adds quick-release saddlebags and windshield. The Chieftain, the first-ever Indian hard-bagger with a fairing, tops the lineup. Spirit Lake-era Chiefs hit dealers in September.
The new Indian motorcycles are now made in Polaris’ Spirit Lake facilities, alongside Victory Motorcycles.
From now until April 30, the LeoVince USA Airoh Rockstar helmet giveaway will be live on Facebook, with one winner to be selected to receive an Airoh Aviator 2.1 Rockstar helmet. The winner will be announced on May 2, 2014.
If you’re one of the many fans of On Any Sunday, then you must immediately recognize this bike. The Husqvarna 250 Cross was perhaps made iconic, thanks to none other than Steve McQueen. Now, the very bike he rode in the film, and raced many times, is up for auction on eBay.
The bike is fully documented as belonging to McQueen, with the original Med-International Husqvarna dealer invoice, dated October 19, 1971. The seller says the bike has been restored, except for some paint loss on the front fender. Otherwise, it’s in fully functional condition, just as McQueen rode it at Lake Elsinore in the 1970s.
In 2011, McQueen’s 400 Cross model sold at auction for a record setting $144,500.00, meaning this bike is almost assured to sell for six figures. Bidding ends on April 20, at 3:06pm PST. As of this posting, the current bid is only $37,100, and the reserve has not been met. Click here to see the eBay listing.
Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of history. It’s not often a motorcycle purchase can be considered an investment!
Following the second round of the MotoGP world championship at the Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas, April 11-13, Suzuki’s MotoGP team stayed in the Lone Star state to continue testing and developing their MotoGP contender. Motorcycle.com was at the test, where a select group of journalists interviewed Davide Brivio, Suzuki MotoGP Team Manager prior to testing. The topics varied widely, but Brivio was candid in his responses (at least as candid as someone in his position can be), revealing interesting tidbits many may find insightful. Below is the transcript from the interview.
Suzuki MotoGP Team Manager, Davide Brivio (left), and Suzuki MotoGP Project Leader, Satoru Terada, answering questions from the media.
Describe the purpose of this test.
We’re working to develop the machine in order to be ready for 2015, when we will be back racing in MotoGP. So, now the biggest job where we’re working is the electronics, because the big change is the continued evolution of this regulation. The ECU is the same, so the hardware is the same for everybody, but each one can develop their own software. It’s what Honda’s doing, Yamaha’s doing, Ducati is doing, and so, that’s what we decided to do. Then in the latest days, the regulations changed, but we continue to do this job [of developing our own software], knowing that we will end at the end of 2015, because starting in 2016, all teams, all manufacturers, have to use the same software. So, not only the hardware, but also the software will be the same for everybody.
Despite that, we decided to carry on with our electronics, so we’ll enter as a Factory Option team into MotoGP. As a new manufacturer, we will have some help due to the regulations [meaning they can start the season with all of the Open class privileges like 24-liters of fuel, softer tires, 12 engines, and no testing bans]. Basically, we’ll be in the same situation that Ducati is in now. This helps, but we had been preparing everything under the Factory rules of 20-liters of fuel, five engines, development bans and whatever else, but it’s ok. We’ll take the help and continue for one year.
Suzuki brought two versions of its latest, as-yet-to-be-named MotoGP racer to Austin for test riders Randy DePuniet and Nobuatsu Aoki to evaluate.
From 2016 on, personally, I’m very happy that everything will be equal. Everybody will be in the same condition, so then let’s challenge. Here, mainly we are working on the electronics, because before we were using Mitsubishi hardware in the past. Then only in Sepang, in February, we introduced the new Magnetti Marelli hardware, with the new software, which wasn’t ready yet. But we decided to carry on, to gain experience, to collect information, to do development, so we struggled a little bit in Sepang in February, and now we have an updated release of the software which we will test here [at Circuit of the Americas] and continue this development.
Here it’s very important for us because we are collecting information for next year because we don’t know this circuit, so we need experience to collect data and information. When we come back next year for the race, we will know what we need. And we will do the same job next time [in two weeks, following the next MotoGP race] in Argentina. We will test again, Tuesday, and Wednesday after the race, we will see how is the gap, how much we have to work. This is the main job we are doing in this season. As we do in Austin and Argentina, we will do again after Barcelona, we will do again after Aragon, and we will have three other tests, like Phillip Island in June, Mugello in September and Valencia in October. So, we have quite busy testing schedule. There’s nine sessions through the year.
About the only visual difference between the two bikes noticeable with the bodywork still attached is the difference in frames. Each are of different stiffness, and the twin-spar design mimics that of the GSX-R line, which will be the main beneficiary of this MotoGP technology.
Have they announced who is going to be the electronics supplier in 2016?
As far as the hardware, it’s Magnetti Marelli, which is the same supplier as now. As far as software, this is a big discussion going on now. All the manufacturers are discussing how to make the software work together. The idea is to replace the current software the Open bikes are using (like Aspar Honda, Forward Racing, etc), so Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Suzuki, will contribute and put on the table their experience and strategies, and we will have to end up with one software. Probably, this is what will happen, but currently, everything is under discussion.
Can you explain the decision to change the engine configuration? [From the GSV-R (V-Four) to the current inline-Four]
Satoru Terada, MotoGP Project Leader: For Suzuki, we don’t have the V-Four engine for the marketing side. We wanted to make more of a relationship with our racing streetbikes, so we changed the configuration to inline-Four. We have much experience with the inline-Four in the GSX-R1000. So, this is the reason why, it was largely a marketing decision.
Do you have a seamless transmission in the work?
At the moment we do not.
What about the crankshaft? [Does it rotate] forwards or backwards?
At this moment, I don’t say! [laughter]
The team have been struggling so far with bike setup on low-grip tracks. Brivio says electronics can help manage much of this, but it is not a complete answer.
Would you have preferred to stay with Mitsubishi electronics? [Instead of the Dorna mandated Magneti Marelli hardware]
This is a difficult question because we know the Mitsubishi system, but we also know really good points about Marelli system, so both are good, but both are different. It’s difficult to choose. Both are very good systems.
Was it difficult to transfer your software from Mitsubishi to Marelli?
No. We were able to do this ourselves. Of course, we needed time, but we did do it.
The personnel on the test team, how many are the same from the GSV-R project?
Five. The total on the test team is 16 people.
How does the budget for this season of testing compare to a race season.
Less than half.
It’s difficult to notice in photos, but the Suzuki MotoGP machine is very compact and narrow in person. This is especially surprising considering the use of an inline-Four engine. MotoGP icon, and 1993 World Champ, Kevin Schwantz, said, when comparing the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike he was testing to this, “It felt like going from a 500cc to a 250cc bike!”
What is the biggest challenge with the new engine?
The biggest challenge, of course, is the engine design configuration because we have experience with street bikes, but pure racing bikes, this [inline-Four] is a first time for us.
Is it horsepower or longevity or…?
At the moment, maybe fuel consumption, but now, the rules are changed. So, now we can use more fuel [in the Factory Open class].
Will there be any wildcard race appearances this season?
We are thinking about it, but have not confirmed yet.
Why the decision to come back now? After the GSV project was over, and the economy collapsed, why the decision to start GP racing again?
Brivio: Because MotoGP is very important for the brand, for the manufacturer to promote the brand. To develop technology, and to be able then to use this technology into production. Suzuki stopped MotoGP activity in 2011, and there was the 800cc bike with the V engine. At that point stopping was a good opportunity to refresh the project so basically everything restarted from a white paper. We redesigned a new engine configuration, we designed a new bike, and the original plan was to be back in 2014, so this year. Then we decide to delay one more year to have a chance to develop the electronics and other things better.
There’s something special about seeing Kevin Schwantz next to a Suzuki grand prix motorcycle with his signature number 34 on the nose.
Basically, the manufacturer was missing MotoGP, the promotion, and the exposure that MotoGP gives to such a big manufacturer. Also, the technology that is involved, the competition allows the engineers to be stimulated, to be motivated on the competitive technologies, so that’s the idea. Which is a very brave decision from the company, and in this difficult moment from a business perspective but it’s an effort, a big effort, the company wants to do because Suzuki recognize the importance of MotoGP.
Do you know how soon after 2011 this decision was made?
No, I wasn’t there yet.
How did they get you to come to do this?
They called me, and I had stopped with the other manufacturer [Yamaha] at the end of 2010, and then I was working with Valentino [Rossi] on his personal business. To be honest, I was missing this involvement. I like much more this side of the job. When they [Suzuki] called and said “Ok, let’s have a talk about MotoGP,” probably I, at the end of the first call, I already decided that I would be back. Honestly, for me, in my personal situation, it was the perfect opportunity, and to be honest, the only one opportunity I would have considered. I was missing this job, but this job is nice when you’re working with a manufacturer, with a big company, with a factory team, that’s an ideal scenario.
Schwantz did 11 laps on the grand prix machine in between testing his primary bike, a Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike in preparation for the Suzuka 8-Hours later this year. His best lap time, a 2:12.75, was only six seconds slower than DePuniet’s. Not bad considering he’d never ridden the bike before…and the fact he turns 50 later this year!
Also, this is another challenge, because we can say everything starts from zero. The bike started from a white paper two years ago when they started the design, but also this is basically the first time Suzuki has organized a full-factory team. In the past it was supported by some external organization, like Crescent Suzuki, but this is a full factory team. Also, from a logistic and organizational point of view, it was starting from white paper. So, it’s very exciting. It’s a very hard job, big challenge, but very exciting.
Why the decision to take everything in-house?
For Suzuki I think it was the best decision. You can keep all your know-how in-house, you can decide basically everything by yourself, and also our competitors have this type of situation. I think to be competitive and to be able to take the right decisions, we have to be independent and decide ourselves.
Through your testing so far, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the motorcycle?
We are still in the development process of the electronics, and we found it difficult to adjust the bike to make it work in low grip conditions.
Eleven laps isn’t much time to acclimate to a MotoGP motorcycle, but Schwantz was up to the task. He noted, “with this bike you have power and braking so you brake and accelerate and the bike does all the rest. I think Suzuki should race now – the sooner the better! You can test a lot but in the race you really understand.”
With the electronics or the chassis?
In some tracks like Misano or Aragon, there are some conditions where the grip is not so high. Then we struggle. The bike slides, we are not able to make grip to make the tire work properly. And also the engine is still too aggressive, so we’re working to make it smooth. You can do this with electronics, but probably the electronics itself is not enough. Maybe we have to work on something mechanical. So, these are two areas where we probably have to work on.
So much of the issue is electronic and not mechanical?
Yes, yes. This moment, we feel like this is the way.
With a win at Seattle last weekend, his fifth of the year and 40th of his career, Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto is close to clinching his fourth consecutive Supercross Championship in the premier class, tying the record set by Jeremy McGrath. The only other rider left with a statistical chance at the title is James Stewart […]... Click Here for Article
After former champ Kevin Schwantz stepped off the Suzuki MotoGP prototype machine following several laps of the Austin circuit earlier this week, he said the bike is good and Suzuki should start racing . . . now. Suzuki’s fastest test rider also put in several laps at Austin following the race, posting a best of […]... Click Here for Article
The breadth of Honda’s sportbike history is an amazingly diverse collection of engine configurations. From Twins to Sixes and Inlines to Vs, Honda has shoehorned just about every kind of motor into a motorcycle chassis. Some models are complex and expensive, while others are simple and affordable, but this list is devoted to the ones most worthy of our attention and praise.
For this list we’ve limited selections to street-legal sportbikes sold in the United States (with one exception). Sorry, no NSR250Rs or VFR400Rs here, as that kind of small-displacement exotica never makes these shores (at least not with a factory warranty intact).
Based loosely on criteria such as impact on the market, racing performance, sales figures, historical significance, etc., we’ve compiled Honda’s sportbikes of greatest import. Let’s take a look.
Schuberth North America has signed on as presenting sponsor of the inaugural Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit. The event, set for May 2-4, 2014 in Denver, CO, will focus on networking, education, scenic riding, and raising money for charity.
The inaugural event, organized by Joan “Lady Road Dog” Krenning, aims to broaden the skills, knowledge and experience of women riders from around the world. Schuberth is attending this first-time event as a sponsor and vendor to present the C3Pro Women and C3W flip-up helmets. These women-specific helmets offer a special fit contoured to a female facial structure and are made with comfortable, easy-to-clean materials.
Sarah Schilke, Schuberth’s Marketing & PR Manager, has been selected as a symposium presenter alongside many other notable figures in women’s motorcycling. Schilke is the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors of the Motorcycle Industry Council in its 100 year history. Additionally, Schilke has served on the Advisory Council and has been a presenter for three of AMA’s International Women and Motorcycling Conferences, serves as an “Expert” to the International Motorcycling Federation’s Commission for Women in Motorcycling, and is an avid street and off-road rider.
The Steel Horse Sisterhood Summit will take place May 2-4, 2014 at the Sheraton Denver South. For more information on the event and to register, call 608-335-0852 or visit SteelHorseSisterhood.com. Learn more about Schuberth helmets at SchuberthNorthAmerica.com.
The Baja 1000 is a grueling and demanding race for both man and machine. You never know what the desert is going to throw at you, and danger lurks at every corner. To complete it is an accomplishment, to win is extraordinary. In the Baja Social Club, the story of the Baja 1000 is told through the eyes of some Baja legends, gathered together for possibly the last time.
The video below is a just a teaser for the movie, but based on it alone, the film should be something amazing. Yes, mainly four-wheelers are featured, but the one very notable exception is the reason it’s being included here: Malcolm Smith. If you’ve seen the film On Any Sunday then the accolades that go with the Malcolm Smith name are obvious. Perhaps the greatest off-road rider and racer of his generation, the things he could do on a motorcycle were almost incomprehensible. The stories he has of Baja surely are things many of us would pay to hear.
Three years in the making, Baja Social Club gathers its stars “to rediscover themselves on a 1200-mile journey to their collective soul.” Anyone who is a fan of off-road racing should be eagerly awaiting this film’s release, as it just might be the next great racing movie.
Harley-Davidson is recalling 2013-2014 Breakout models, including CVO versions, because the fuel level indication system may not be properly reading the correct amounts of fuel.
As of this publishing, recalls have been announced by government agencies in Australia and Canada; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not yet posted a recall but U.S.-based members of the Harley-DavidsonForums.com report American dealerships have already started receiving recall bulletins.
According to a recall announcement by Transport Canada, some Breakout and CVO Breakout models may run out of fuel despite the fuel and range indicators indicating there is still enough fuel in the tank. Breakout owners may mistakenly be riding under the assumption they have more gas than they do.
The problem appears to be software related, as dealers can correct the issue by applying a software update.
We hope to have more details when NHTSA announces a recall for the U.S. market. The Canadian recall affects 884 units while the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission says 1,722 units are affected down under.
In the new movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Harley-Davidson and Marvel Entertainment have teamed up once again, as our super hero is seen defending man kind on the new Harley-Davidson Street 750.
H-D and Marvel have had a long relationship, and to unite fans of both brands, Harley-Davidson is seeking candidates to join Captain America as “Agent 1” and star in a brand-new digital franchise, which will introduce a new chapter of action, including a group of characters created by Marvel’s Custom Division exclusively for Harley, and feature the new Harley-Davidson Street 750. The mini-movie and digital comic will debut in Marvel and Harley-Davidson online and social channels this summer.
Digital Casting Call
To enter the Harley-Davidson Captain America: The Winter Soldier online contest, special agent hopefuls are invited to complete an online skills assessment and select a custom bike of their choice at www.h-d.com/marvel. After completing the assessment, each candidate receives a badge and special promotional offer. Legal residents of the United States who are at least 18 years of age can enter now through April 30.
One grand prize winner will not only land the role as the eponymous “Agent 1,” they also will rule the streets with a brand new custom Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycle and a rider training course, including a stunt riding lesson with Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier stunt rider Riley Harper.
Learn more about the contest by clicking the link above. You can also learn more about the Harley-Davidsons by reading our Street 750 preview.
No matter what you ride, having a little extra space is nice to have. Sure saddlebags and top cases are helpful, but when storing smaller items like phones, wallets, garage door openers, or a first aid kit, sometimes they can get lost in the expanse of your average saddlebag. That’s where the MotoPocket comes in handy.
From the makers of Adventure Pockets, Moto Pockets are clever little bags that attach to a variety of motorcycles via patent pending adhesive pads from 3m. The big benefit here is that they are reusable, meaning you can transfer them between motorcycles if you need to. Made in the USA from 600 Denier Polyester, Moto Pockets are only available in black, but come in different shapes and sizes for virtually every kind of two-wheeler out there. Different versions also feature netting to allow you to easily distinguish between items.
For club-style bikes, the Pistol Pockets T-Bar is a custom-made storage bag for club-style bikes. Four Velcro straps easily attach the Pistol Pockets T-Bar bag to the front or back of T-handlebar and its riser bars.
The T-Bar is just one of ten different styles of Moto Pockets. To see the full list of offerings, visit www.motopockets.com.
What do you get when you bring together the designer of the Fisker Karma and the great-grandson of the founder of Lego? The answer is this cruiser concept model by Danish brand Lauge Jensen called the Viking.
The company was formed in 2004 by bike builder Uffe Lauge Jensen but later sold to industrialist Anders Kirk Johansen, the scion of one of Denmark’s wealthiest families and great-grandson of Ole Kirk Christiansen who invented Lego building blocks.
Lauge Jensen’s latest concept was designed by Henrik Fisker, a noted automobile designer whose creations include the Aston Martin DB9, the BMW Z8 and the Fisker Karma hybrid electric car.
The Viking is powered by a 45-degree air-cooled V-Twin claiming 100hp. Lauge Jensen doesn’t provide specifics except to say the engine was produced in Wisconsin, likely an S&S engine. Lauge Jensen claims the Viking can top 130 mph and get 58 mpg. The company also claims the Viking meets the tough Euro IV emissions regulations that go into effect in 2016.
Though still a concept, Kirk Johansen says the company plans to enter serial production. Lauge Jensen currently produces pricey small-volume models like is Great Dane which is priced starting at €42,800 (US$59,150). Kirk Johansen says the Viking will be produced in larger volumes at a more reasonable price.
“It’s great to have Henrik, one of the world’s leading vehicle designers and a fellow Dane working in partnership with us to help create a really special, emotional design,” says Kirk Johansen. “Revealing a concept bike is all about gauging demand but, if it’s there, I look forward to producing the Viking Concept for the mainstream market.”
MV Agusta announced it will produce a new special edition version of the F3 800 honoring the legendary Giacomo Agostini. The F3 800 AGO was originally revealed last fall at EICMA but MV Agusta has now confirmed it will be produced, releasing full details and pricing.
The all-time leader in Grand Prix race wins won 13 of his record 15 world titles with MV Agusta, making him a worthy subject for tribute model. The F3 800 AGO features the Italian Tricolore red, white and green colors, gold accents and a number of lightweight components.
Carbon fiber fenders, machined aluminum foot pegs and other aluminum parts help reduce the F3 800′s weight, as do the forged aluminum wheels. MV Agusta claims a dry weight of 377 pounds on the AGO model, 4.4 pounds lighter than the regular F3 800.
Mechanically, the F3 800 AGO is identical to the base model. It also sports MV Agusta’s Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System (MVICS) electronics package of ride-by-wire throttle control, four selectable maps and an eight-level traction control system. The F3 800 AGO also comes with a quick shifter and anti-lock braking system as standard equipment.
MV Agusta will produce 300 units of the AGO, each featuring Agostini’s autograph across the fuel tank and a silver plaque mounted to the steering yoke. The F3 800 AGO also comes with a certificate of authenticity that is also signed by Agostini.
In Europe, the MV Agusta F3 800 AGO is priced at €23,990 (US$33,150), a significant increase from the €14,710 price for the base model and €15,310 for the ABS-equipped version. Stay tuned for U.S. availability and pricing.
Former World Champion and Texas native Kevin Schwantz joined the SuzukiMotoGP team at Circuit of the Americas to test its new racebike. Schwantz, who won the 1993 500cc World Championship with Suzuki, joined test riders Randy de Puniet and Nobuastu Aoki in riding the new prototype which is set to enter the MotoGP championship in 2015.
Our own Troy Siahaan was in Austin for the MotoGP round and he was on hand to film this clip of Schwantz preparing for his ride:
Schwantz, who posted a best lap time of 2:12.75 on the test bike, says the machine is a step above the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 AMA Superbike he also got a chance to ride at COTA.
“I went on the MotoGP machine after riding the GSX-R1000 Superbike and it felt like going from a 500cc to a 250cc bike; the MotoGP machine is so small and compact!” Schwantz says. “The bike turns, accelerates, goes fast; it does everything and I had fun and really enjoyed it.”
Here’s a quick clip of Schwantz shooting down the starting straight on one of his 11 laps:
Suzuki had originally planned to return to MotoGP racing this year, but decided to push its plans back another year. Schwantz however says Suzuki should start racing sooner rather than later.
“With this bike you have power and braking so you brake and accelerate and the bike does all the rest,” says Schwantz. ” I think Suzuki should race now – the sooner the better! You can test a lot but in the race you really understand.”
De Puniet, who many expect will pilot Suzuki’s entry next season, completed 56 laps on the same day and another 62 on the following day, posting a top time of 2:05.85. Along the way, he tested a new engine, two different frames, different electronic fuel maps and gearbox ratios.
“I’m happy that we have found a big improvement on throttle connection and traction control. We worked some time to find the right setting with the new electronics also and at the end we found a good compromise,” says de Puniet. “We continued to work on the chosen chassis and it worked really well today. So the package is definitely better and I wanted to have an extra day to be able to continue the work as yesterday we spent most of the time setting-up the bike for the new circuit along with the new electronics. Also, I have not been riding a bike for a few weeks and I needed to get back the feeling.”
What we have in these five bikes: BMW S1000R, Ducati Monster 1200S, Kawasaki Z1000 ABS, KTM Super Duke R, MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR, is an assemblage of pretenders to the throne. What throne? The literbike streetfighter throne upon which Aprilia’s Tuono V4R APRC ABS has comfortably resided since its introduction in 2012. Truth is, two of these five have a real chance of defeating the undisputed champ on the track.
To separate the wheat from the chaff we spent a day at Chuckwalla Raceway scraping pegs and destroying tires. It was a good day that clearly distinguished the performance hierarchy of these motorcycles.
Next, we’ll determine if these fine motorcycles can perform as well within the legal limitations set forth by society as well as fulfill mundane tasks such as commuting. But for now, it’s all about going fast. So let’s get going.
KTM 1290 Super Duke R
That poor back tire is wholly incapable of coping with the KTM’s uh, huevos grande! Of course that just makes it even more fun to ride when you’re just playing around on track… think motocross bike on a beautifully-groomed golf course.
There’s been quite a bit of hype surrounding KTM’s new Super Duke, including from MO’s editor of all things naked, Tom Roderick (2014 KTM Super Duke R Review – First Ride). A day at the track hasn’t done anything at all to make us conclude that any of it was overblown. Nobody was keeping lap times, but every time our happy little group got together on the track, whoever was on the KTM seemed to have an easier time easing away from the pack – a pack that contained not a single slouch.
For one thing, the KTM’s 1301cc V-Twin produces a stupid amount of corner-exiting torque that recalls the company’s dirt-bike roots, before finishing off up top with a 180-horsepower hit (at only about 9000 rpm) that leaves all the other bikes gasping to keep pace. The MV and BMW can hang on, but it requires more skill from the rider to do it. The Diavel-powered Monster seemed to squirt out of corners just as hard, before we realized that’s really mostly because the KTM is riding on Dunlop SportSmart tires (Europe only, apparently), which maybe don’t have the outright grip of the Pirelli Diablo Corsa Rossos on the Ducati, BMW and MV. Halfway down the straight, the rear Dunlop would stop spinning, pick up the front tire an inch or two, and stretch the KTM’s lead. Ridiculous. And thanks to the bike’s traction control, you really don’t have to be Valentino Rossi to pull that off. Like Editorial Chairman Sean Alexander says, “It’s a good thing the Super Duke wears a harder compound rear; you’ll be going through them in a hurry. Even so, it seems like a small price to pay.”
The Super Duke R is the bike Darth Vader would ride during a Halloween parade.
Whoaing down at the end of those straights is no problem either. Though all the bikes here are great brakers thanks to having handlebars (as well as great brakes), the KTM’s even more upright, near-adventure-bike ergoes make it supremely confident in Chuckwalla’s heaviest downhill braking zone. And even though it feels to have a bit more suspension travel than the others or maybe just sits a bit higher off the ground, excellent damping seems to give it even greater road feel than the others – which also means beautiful, confident one-finger trail braking into Chuckwalla’s fast sweepers. The KTM’s motor has a way of making it want to overshoot the orange cones you’re aiming for, but its great brakes and excellent cornering clearance let you reel them back in and start abusing its rear tire all over again. We are not worthy of a bike this good.
Then there’s the simple fact that the thing just seems to fit everybody, from 250-pound 6-foot plus Sean to 155-pound 5-8 Burns and everybody in between. In spite of excellent cornering clearance, the KTM’s got the most legroom. The grips are right where you want them, the tank’s a great shape for hanging onto and off of – and it even holds 4.75 gallons of fuel.
At the end of the day, I needed a bike to ride three hours back to Costa Mesa. I picked the KTM. It was a lovely ride, though I did need to switch on the heated grips for the last hour.
Kawasaki Z1000 ABS
The Z’s Showa BPF delivered clear feedback from the front tire and is fully adjustable to suit riders of various skills and weights.
The Kawasaki Z1000 ABS gets two awards in this shootout. The first, The Biggest Surprise Award, is for having such a massively entertaining engine. All of the gang (except for that curmudgeon, Burns) rated the engine highly. Sean said the engine “feels like a giant electric motor that pulls smoothly – and hard – everywhere,” while chief female helmet tester, Kevin Duke opined, ”Overall, it feels like a cut-rate S1000R, which isn’t faint praise.” The inline-Four, although wide and, ultimately, contributing to the Z1000’s lack of ground clearance, pulled hard at the corner exits, making the other, more powerful inline-Fours work for their dominance. Ironically, the lower powered Kawasaki mill may have hurt its chances at nipping at the other bikes’ heels a little more by being the only bike tested without TC (which is probably the primary source of Burns’ dissatisfaction).
In other critiques of the engine, testers noted that the gearbox wasn’t as polished as the other bikes’. Additionally, when off-throttle, rolling the grip to bring the power back sometimes took a lot more twisting than one would expect when trying to return to either neutral throttle or acceleration. While this was not abrupt, the delay made it difficult to be precise as to when power could be applied mid-corner.
We pulled the exhaust cover off the other side but that resulted in us grinding the sidestand down to a nub.
The Shooting Yourself in the Foot Award goes to the Z1000 by a narrow margin over the Ducati thanks to its limited ground clearance. Said Duke, “Its pegs drag relatively early, followed a little further by the exhaust shields.” Although we discussed cranking up the preload to gain some ride height, we decided against it because we figured it would only undo all the time we’d put in to dialing in the suspension’s myriad of adjustments. While the riders don’t suffer from a lack of foot placement options, as with the Monster, the lack of ground clearance brings an early ending to race track fun. That’s too bad, too, because the Kawasaki clearly has the front end feel and the power chops to hang with the other bikes. In its current form, the Z1000 drags peg feelers early and then follows with the exhaust shields. Sums up Sean, “The Z1000’s appearance at the end of a day on-track could best be described as beveled.”
While the angrier-looking Z certainly appears to have the hooligan attitude, it’s more bark than bite at the race track.
The instrumentation received mixed reviews with Brasfield making positive comments about the white LED lights that act as the tach on the top of the cluster. The location helps the tach double as a shift light when the rider is tucked in and hard on the gas. Just in front of the instrument cluster, the headlight nacelle’s style was widely criticized but did have one or two defenders.
After much discussion about how much better the Z1000 would be with a suspension upgrade in the rear and a new exhaust, we decided that we may be in danger of designing the bike out of its desired market. In the end, we couldn’t help think that the Kawasaki would do better in the street test that will follow.
Ducati Monster 1200S
The Monster 1200’s mid-range torque is intoxicating, but the power seems to peter out in the top end.
The Monster is the outlier in this group, as it was designed to be a sporty streetbike rather than a bare knuckle streetfighter. But since the demise of the 1098cc Ducati Streetfighter (leaving only the 848 SF), the new liquid-cooled Monster 1200S is the Italian marque’s highest-performance naked sportbike.
Street miles before our track session demonstrated the broadband appeal of the liquid-cooled Monster: a comfortable seat and riding position and an engine with stonkin’ midrange power. But when placed on a racetrack, the Duc’s street intent was put sharply in focus. It’s limited in racetrack pace only by ground clearance.
“Everyone was clearly frustrated by the lack of foot positioning options on the Ducati, thanks to a set of passenger peg brackets (and the right-side exhaust) that encroach into the heel room behind the rider’s pegs,” notes Alexander. “That lack of foot movement made it very difficult to rotate your leg out for a corner, let-alone hang-off the bike, and because of that, the Ducati quickly runs out of ground clearance. On the track it’s a glaring error, which is a real shame due to the Duc’s otherwise stellar performance.” Bumping up the compression damping improved the Duc’s issues with dragging, but not enough to come close to matching the corner speeds of the BMW, KTM or MV.
Right there behind the engine is the shapely cause of our foot placement woes in righthand corners.
Yes, there are plenty of positive elements to the latest Monster. The S model’s Ohlins suspension held up well on the track, feeling nicely controlled in its motions, and its Brembo monoblock brakes are as good as anything else in this class. And its motor, although down on top-end power, was a delight to squirt hard out of every corner.
“Its midrange power is intoxicating!” Brasfield raves. “Following Burns while he was leaving big darkies exiting the corners made me laugh out loud.”
“The engine’s midrange lunge is particularly impressive on a medium-speed track like Chuckwalla,” Alexander remarks. “Even the mighty KTM would briefly lose ground on the Monster at corner-exit.”
However, the Monster’s upper-end power isn’t quite monstrous, so the bikes that the Duc left behind at the corner exit could catch it at the end of the straight.
On a medium-speed track like Chuckwalla, even the mighty KTM would briefly lose ground on the Monster on corner exits.
The other issue our testers had with the Ducati is its new style. The air-cooled Monsters always looked wonderful, with simple and airy elements that spoke to the engine-with-wheels design ethos. This liquid-cooled one, with the addition of a radiator and its attendant cooling hoses, isn’t nearly as clean.
“The Monster’s fat python exhaust headers and stout red trellis frame are very appealing,” Alexander opines. “All those cooling and vent hoses… not so much.”
So, in a racetrack setting, the Monster falls short next to its sportier rivals. It would’ve ranked much higher if not for its major ground clearance and footroom issues from the low-mounted pegs and gargantuan space-stealing passenger-peg mounts. Look for it to claw back significant ground when we test this group on the street – where the Monster was actually intended to be used.
MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR
The Brutale performs better the faster you go. At the end of the day, the MV was ready for more as we got tired. We could feel it taunting us with “Is that all ya got, buddy?”
Like any supermodel, the gorgeous MV Agusta Brutale 1090 RR can be a little intimidating. Evans summed it up by saying: “Get it angry, and it’ll rip your head off.” He’s actually got a point there, in a couple of ways. For one thing, the MV might easily be dismissed as a lifestyle accessory for the wealthy poseur, but in reality, it possesses an engine which is more than happy to deliver on those sexy promises made by its exotic curb-appeal… it’ll launch you into next month.
In another way, this motorcycle appears to be fairly sensitive to suspension tuning, its stout chassis bucking and stealing confidence until you get the forks and shock adjusted into their sweet spots. But adjust its dampers and pair the MV with an experienced pilot and – POOF! – it transforms into an extremely rewarding and highly effective racetrack weapon. It is so good, in fact, that a couple of our testers even rated it ahead of the BMW on-track.
I was particularly impressed by the MV’s on-track pace and composure. Much like the BMW, the harder I rode the MV Brutale the happier it was; it exceeded my expectations in just about every way. However, unlike the BMW, it did it all with an added dose of sexy excitement and delicious noises. However, at 45 years old, 6’2” and 260-pounds, I’d gladly trade a little of the MV’s excellent cornering clearance for a little more legroom, and while we’re at it, let’s make the shifting a little easier.
In addition to always winning the sex appeal award, the Brutale also takes first place in the tight tolerances department.
Duke noted that the MV’s pegs were the slipperiest of the bunch, and although nowhere near as compromised as the Ducati’s pegs, he did struggle a bit with limited heel room behind the right peg, which soured his impression of the bike in right-hand corners. However, that particular issue wasn’t echoed by the rest of the testing staff, probably due to us not having recently re-broken our own right ankles.
MV Agusta’s fuel injection tuning has been no stranger to criticism from Motorcycle.com’s editors in the past, although their latest software updates seem to have solved the vast majority of our earlier gripes. However, the Brutale 1090RR does seem to still struggle with an overly abrupt response to off/on throttle transitions. This issue was especially apparent around the apexes of low speed corners where it could upset the chassis slightly. That abruptness was somewhat exacerbated by a slight low-speed surging which we really only noticed while re-entering the pits after a session. Hopefully, the next download will remedy those minor remaining annoyances.
The MV Brutale 1090 RR’s upmarket exotica – those gorgeous wheels, its steering damper, etc. – pays dividends. Duke notes: “Its narrow and swept-back bars don’t offer tons of leverage, but the Brutale’s steering quickness is aided by lightweight forged aluminum wheels on this RR version.” Like the other editors, Duke also noted: “What feels like a stiff chassis responds better the harder it’s pushed.”
Yeah, Sean really needs to get a new set of leathers.
Of course, all that exotica comes at a price, an $18,998 MSRP to be exact. Considering that price, Duke lamented: “the Brutale’s motor feels a little underwhelming. It’s got the most displacement of the four-cylinders in this group, but it doesn’t feel like it’s got a significant power advantage.”
I wasn’t so put-off by the MV’s engine, though, believing it sounded much more exotic and musical than the other bikes to my ears and found the engine’s nature at high-rpm suited my riding style when trying to carry momentum through the longer corners without shifting. Despite its high price, even Duke conceded: “A bike’s appearance is always a major factor in a purchasing decision, and, to my eyes, the Brutale is easily the prettiest bike of this bunch.” And to that, every one of us agreed.
If you desired to actually go club racing on a naked streetbike, this would be the one to pick seeing as its motor’s displacement would be legal for any “open” class.
So torn was I, personally, between the BMW and the KTM I couldn’t write a single word of this shootout before consulting the MO ScoreCard. After having input my numbers, the ScoreCard told me that I chose the BMW over the KTM by 1.15% or by a score of 124 to 122.5. However, if I had a wad of cash in my hand and both bikes before me, I still can’t say I’d purchase the BMW.
As good as the S1000R is, it just doesn’t push our moto-buttons the way the Super Duke R does. But, me being a Gemini, it’s always a battle between the left and right sides of my brain, and my right side is telling me this.
For $15k what you get with the S1000R is a bike with more technology than the KTM, an insanely fast engine and ergonomics that make riding to and from a trackday a reasonable proposition. Like its full-faired counterpart, the S1000RR, the naked version does everything with Germanic clockwork precision that’s hard to fault.
The S1000R’s styling is somewhat polarizing but undeniably recognizable.
I’m a lackadaisical twit when it comes to suspension adjustment. So, I’m predisposed to love the dynamic damping control of the S1000R’s semi-active suspension; Soft, Normal, Hard is only a button push away and changes the suspension personality enough for me to go fast at the track or ride comfortably away from it.
What we were surprised to find with the BMW was a lack of cornering clearance, as the pegs began touching down long before those of the MV’s or KTM’s. With all its technologies BMW engineers forgot to give the S1000R something as simple as adjustable footpegs.
All is almost forgiven, though, when you twist the throttle to its stop and the rush of power throws your ass to the back of the rider’s seat, your arms straining to hold on against the sudden increase in windflow. BMW says its massaging of the streetfighter’s engine lowered max engine revolutions by 2,000 rpm, from 14k on the RR to 12k on the R, and increased low- and mid-range power, culminating in 82.6 lb-ft of torque at 9,250 rpm and 160 hp at 11,000 rpm.
If you desired to actually go club racing on a naked streetbike, this would be the one to pick seeing as its motor’s displacement would be legal for any “open” class.
“Those who decry the S1000R’s reduction in output from the 1000RR prolly haven’t ridden the R,” says Duke. “It’s incredibly quick and likely able to post similar lap times as its sportier brother around a tightish track like CVR. And I’d guess it would be quicker when piloted by a non-expert rider.”
The KTM does match the BMW with TC, ABS and heated grips, but let’s not forget that the S1000R was the only bike here with cruise control and a quick-shifter. Cruise control is a superfluous technology at the track, but I’m unwilling to dismiss the fact the S1000R has it. The quick-shifter, on the other hand, is a technology made for cutting quick lap times and this technology comes at a lower price threshold than the Premium Package demands.
The Base Model S1000R is only $1,150 more than Kawaski’s Z1000 ABS, and with the Standard Package the BMW is $3k less than the Super Duke R. You can’t afford not to buy this bike!
Which to choose? Do I want to marry the supermodel-esque physical manifestations of female sexuality, who’ll for a short time fulfill all my dirty little fantasies, but could eventually make me a cuckold, followed by divorce and loneliness? Or do I choose the cute, faithful (Honda-esque) girl-next-door BMW with whom I’d have a long and loving relationship?
Why, God, do you bestow upon me the freedom to choose then present me with such options? Why?
Keeping in mind this was a track-only shootout and the fact that majority rules, the winner of the Smackdown is the KTM Super Duke R. With a score of 92.99% or 623 points the Super Duke R narrowly but undisputedly defeated the BMW S1000R’s score of 90.90% and 609 points.
2014 Super Streetfighter Scorecard
Ducati Monster 1200S
Kawasaki Z1000 ABS
KTM 1290 Super Duke R
MV Agusta Brutale 1090RR
All scores have a maximum of 10 except Engine which is scored out of 20.
“What can I say, this bike is WELL endowed!” says Alexander. “It feels like a V-Max motor that went on a diet without losing any muscle. Uncanny for its size and imposing presence, the KTM is actually a sweetheart to ride on-track. It is also extremely capable of actually lapping faster than just about any sportbike you care to mention. The irony here is that it is also a supremely comfortable motorcycle to ride, anywhere.”
And for the bridesmaid.
“What I liked was the BMW’s massive acceleration,” says returning to former racing glory editor, Evans Brasfield. “The shorter gearing and the quick-shifter – uh, excuse me – Gear Shift Assist or Girl Friday or whatever BMW thought would sound more original than quick-shifter. Anyway, the quick-shifter multiplies the fun factor quite a bit, particularly when it gave a pop out of the exhaust just like a real race bike.”
Coming in third was MV Agusta’s Brutale 1090RR with a score of 88.02%. Out of the gate the Brutale was working against a handicap of zero points due to its exorbitant price tag. At $19k for a 2014 model with ABS, it’s $2k more than the KTM, and while the bike is gorgeous and performs admirably, it simply doesn’t outperform the KTM or BMW by two-thousand greenbacks.
“Oh my, is this bike good looking. Nice legs, too,” says Brasfield. “Once the preload was adjusted to eliminate the excessive sag and move the travel out of the last (and most progressive) part of the stroke, the Brutale’s cornering manners improved immensely. Though coming up short on the list of electronic controls when compared to some of the other bikes, the MV had the vital TC and for 2014 gets ABS.”
Fourth place with 82.24% is Ducati’s Monster 1200S – a bike we knew from its initial launch a couple months ago (2014 Ducati Monster 1200 S – First Ride Review) will make for a great street naked, but has built-in limitations on the track.
“While a minimal nuisance on the street, the passenger footpeg bracketry had me bending my ankles into abnormal positions to keep from grinding through the toe slider, boot leather and eventually my toes (which Brasfield did just that),” says your author, Roderick. “I’m certain it’ll fare better in the street portion of our test, but as for a naked bike you can ride fast on the track the BMW, KTM and MV are far better choices.”
Rounding out the bottom fifth of this track competition is Kawasaki’s Z1000 ABS with a score of 81.12%. The saddest thing is that the Kawi could easily have scored and performed better had it not been for its self-imposed cornering restrictions.
“The Z’s highlight is its motor, which amazingly doesn’t feel outclassed by the other inline-Four engines here, offering thrilling upper-midrange thrust,” says Duke. “Its pace around the track was limited only by ground-clearance problems. Its pegs drag relatively early, followed a little further by the exhaust shields.”
Next: Street Testing
So, we had a glorious day wringing the necks of these hooligan machines at a racetrack, exploring their ultimate performance limits. Now we saddle-up to unwind twisty roads and slide past commuter traffic to see how they perform in public-road duties. Stay tuned!
We have written about Japan’s AC Sanctuary before. For several years now, it has created some of the most beautiful, highly modified Japanese standards (principally, Kawasakis). It now has a following that reaches through Europe and offers a line of “RCM” models, standing for Real Complete Machine, which are similar to production models. Pictured here […]... Click Here for Article
Held Rider Equipment, long known for its quality riding gear, has inked a deal naming Schuberth North America as the company’s sole distributor of Held products in the United States. While most riders probably think of Held as manufacturer of premium motorcycle gloves, thanks to its 68 years of creating cutting-edge glove designs, Held also produces a wide variety of high-quality riding gear.
Schuberth’s initial offerings of Held gear will be available in June 2014 and should include: Held’s GORE-TEX, leather and textile riding gloves, premium GORE-TEX textile adventure riding suits for both men and women, and waterproof bag systems. Expect the same level of attention to detail and quality materials and armor found in the company’s line of gloves. For example, Held was the first manufacturer to use a titanium knuckle cover on gloves.
“We are very excited to welcome Held Rider Equipment to the Schuberth North America family,” said Randy Northrup, Vice President of Schuberth North America. “Held uses the highest quality materials and draws on decades of engineering innovation to produce some of the best motorcycle gear available, which we believe will perfectly complement our offering of Schuberth helmets.”
Schuberth is also well-known for producing premium helmets, utilizing the latest in technology, and currently exports helmets to 55 countries. For further information visit the Schuberth website.
It didn’t take years of riding experience to tell the situation was getting out of control. Traffic shot down the narrow highway like a river at flood stage, and we were swept along like so much flotsam and jetsam, knowing that the moment we slowed we would be plowed under. The big trucks pressed in around us, following far too close and even sweeping by us in our own lanes if we dared to leave them enough space to crowd by, the lug nuts on their wheels spinning furiously away mere inches from our shoulders like the teeth of a grinder in search of fresh meat. The further we went, the greater my sense of foreboding became. We needed to get off the road now.
To be honest, I hadn’t been too excited about taking the trip to begin with, but when my good friend Peter, a tall, lanky Australian I had met shortly after arriving in Japan, suggested we take our bikes out into the countryside in search of adventure, I had acquiesced. I had introduced Peter to riding, after all, and had even helped him buy his first bike – a black and grey Yamaha FZR250. It was only natural that once he had a few months under his belt that he would want to take it on some sort of trip, and, reluctant as I was, I felt honor bound to go along.
August in Western Japan is amazingly hot and humid. The summer sun beats down with an almost tropical intensity, and the heat had taken a toll on us as we had crossed through the mountains and found our way to the world famous Suzuka circuit. I had driven the track in almost every video racing game I had ever played and was familiar with every inch of the course, but I hadn’t realized that it was actually just a part of a much larger amusement and water park.
The author’s Japanese-market Honda CBR250R awaits its next mission on its home soil.
Peter and I spent the day alternately baking in the sun as we watched teams practice for the 8 hour race and cooling our bodies in the various water attractions, looking for all the world like two stark white polar bears in a sea of brown-skinned girls. When the park finally closed, we bought bento box dinners at a convenience store and spent the night in front of a small fire on an isolated beach.
The next morning we ran south through Mie prefecture, the sun once again roasting us inside our own skins as the roads became progressively smaller and more rural. Finally, when we could go no further, we spent the night next to our bikes in a rented parking space in a gravel parking lot on an isolated spit of land near a place called Cape Goza. The night was miserable. The air hung thick and humid above the rocky surface of the parking lot while overhead flickering white florescent lights made it impossible to sleep. Mosquitoes assaulted us in endless waves and, although we slept in fits and starts through the night, we found no rest.
At first light, we mounted our bikes and headed towards home. Knowing that I could not take another full day of being exposed to direct rays of the fierce summer sun, I determined we should get there as soon as possible and examined my map for other options. On paper, at least, the highway had looked like the perfect short cut, a smooth, unbroken line that passed tantalizingly close to home. But it was, we soon found, a narrow, rutted stretch of road that was positively filled with huge trucks, each one going as fast as it possibly could. For a while Peter and I did our best to keep up the pace, but the truckers were relentless, crowding in on us whenever possible, making close, dangerous passes and then whipping back over into the slow lane with bare inches to spare. After 30 minutes I understood. To remain on this road was to risk death, and so, when the McDonald’s sign hove into view, we exited as quickly as we could.
Over breakfast, I once again studied the map. We had come a good distance but now we were more or less isolated in a small, picturesque village fronted by the dangerous expressway and backed by a rugged set of mountains. The highway seemed to be the most direct route home, but there was another option, a smaller road that cut north through the mountains to another east-west road some distance away. After a long discussion with Peter, who actually favored risking our necks on the freeway to wending our way through the woods, logic prevailed and we set out over the hill.
Within a mile of the restaurant, the road narrowed and the town fell abruptly away. The mountains closed in around us and the forest grew thick and impossibly close. Ahead, a raccoon or perhaps a tanuki, the famous Japanese “racoon-dog” took offense at our sudden appearance, glaring at us before turning and stalking off into the underbrush. Our momentum slowed as the road twisted and rose as it followed a swift flowing stream, and beneath a canopy of tall pines the heat of the day began to abate. The misery of the previous night and the danger of the morning fell away, and we were rejuvenated as we swept north into the unspoiled mountains.
The road twisted then dipped and suddenly, as we came around a corner, a line of stopped cars appeared ahead. It was an odd sight: one moment it was just us alone in the wilderness, and now we were at the end of a traffic jam. Would the wonders of Japan never cease? Obviously they were waiting for something, so we pulled up and stopped at the back of the line. After killing our engines and removing our helmets, Peter and I took a long look at the situation.
Ahead a large truck pulling a low-boy trailer carrying a piece of heavy construction equipment had bottomed out on a hillock and was blocking the road. We dreaded turning around, but it looked like the problem wasn’t going to be solved soon, and we both knew we were too exhausted to spend hours waiting. Desperate, we rode to the front of the line and took a closer look at the situation.
Sure enough, there was a space, not big enough for a car but large enough that our bikes could both squeeze through. So, while everyone else stood around looking disappointed, we put our bikes through and were soon running down the backside of the mountain range thoroughly enjoying ourselves on the wide-open road. Perhaps a dozen miles on, we intersected with the east-west road my map showed, a road it turns out I knew well from my earlier explorations, and we made the rest of our trip home in good time.
As we rolled back into the city of Kyoto, I gave Peter a wave and split off towards the air-conditioned splendor of my tiny, one-room apartment. Here, on the roads I knew in the town I regarded as my “own,” I unerringly made my way home and parked in my usual spot alongside the scooters in front of my building. The trip, I realized later, had been a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that had shown me both the best and worst parts of Japan: the heat of the city, where people will quite literally run a person over to save 30 seconds of travel time, versus the rugged back country, where people move at their own pace and where even if the road is blocked, you can still find a way forward as long as you take the time to look.
Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for nine years, Jamaica for two, and spent almost five years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A longtime auto and motorcycle enthusiast, he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.
Riders who sweat in their leathers – and who doesn’t at a track day or race – know how nasty damp leathers can get if not dried properly. Of course, there’s always the tried-and-true technique of hanging them up in your garage, but that can take days. What if you only have an hour?
The folks at the Yamaha Champions Riding School (YRCS) know a thing or two about sweaty leathers. After all, they have about 40 Kushitani andHeroic suits at New Jersey Motorsports Park that need to be maintained. So, they’ve joined with Adrenaline City Racing, LLC, the manufacturer of the Hang Dry system to sell them at all YRCS events.
The Hang Dry blows cool drying air into the suit where it absorbs the moisture and caries it out of the arm and leg openings. Rather than taking days to dry, your leathers could be dry and comfortable in just about 30 minutes. The system works so well that Michael Laverty, MotoGP racer for Paul Bird Motorsport, gave a glowing review about his Hang Dry.
“The suit dryer has been a revelation for me, trying to air a set of leathers between sessions can be challenging however the Hang-Dry takes away all the hassle.” – Michael Laverty
“I’ve been using Hang Dry for years and don’t know how I lived without it when I was riding and racing full time. When I joined YCRS the first thing I thought about was getting Hang Dry units for all of these leathers,” says YCRS Operations Manager Keith Culver, “The riders on my youth race team, Evolution Racing, all use Hang Dry so it was easy to show Hang Dry owner Tomer Levy how our facility could be a showroom and warehouse for his product,”
“I am very excited to see my brand grow and the Hang-Dry get the recognition it deserves. First, we got the best testimonial from a MotoGP rider who will be using the Hang-Dry in the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. Now, the most respected and prestigious riding school in the country wants to take care of their leathers with my product. I am just over the moon,” says Levy.
German company Ronax GmbH is producing a limited edition street-legal two-stroke sportbike rumored to be based on the Honda NSR500 GP racebike. The company isn’t releasing much information but what little it has revealed about the Ronax 500 has certainly piqued our interest.
What we do know for certain is the motorcycle will be powered by a 500cc two-stroke V-4 engine, which sounds like Honda’s racebike of yesteryear. Toss in yellow cloth covering the bike in the teaser images and the fact Ronax plans to produce just 46 units … a color and number closely associated with one Valentino Rossi who won the 2001 500cc Grand Prix world championship on the NSR500.
“A legendary engine makes it comeback! Furious, demanding and impressive as it ever was!” Ronax describes the engine on its website, again offering a hint to the bike’s lineage.
The tightly-wrapped yellow cloth reveals some more hints of the NSR500.
Note the similar ram air intake on the nose of the fairing. A look at the rear of the Ronax 500 shows the outline of two exhausts on the right and another two under the tail, again resembling the NSR500.
Ronax says its 500 is a true racebike but can be easily configured to make it street legal, hence the mirrors.
The covers will come off on June 8, and we get the first official look at the Ronax 500.
An Austrian manufacturer is producing a new electric motorcycle that claims to be the first to offer a range of more than 200 km (124 miles.) Sporting a sort of art deco design that some have liken to a snail, the Johammer J1 looks very radical, and some of its technological concepts are as well.
The Johammer concept has been around for a few years now under the name “the Biiista” (the original logo is still visible on the lower edge of the fairing behind the forward footrests.) Produced by Austrian firm Hammerschmid Maschinenbau and design studio Yellow Works, the Johammer J1 looks like what you’d get if you describe a motorcycle to someone who has never seen one before and asked him what you described.
Two wheels? Handlebars? Streamlined fairing? Check, check and check. But take one look at the J1 and you’ll see very little else that you expect from a conventional motorcycle design. “A Johammer does not only look different, it is different,” reads the Johammer website.
Take the chassis for example. The electric motor mounted into the rear wheel hub might be the most conventional part of the design. The swingarm lines up with the main part of the frame and onwards to the front wheel which uses a hub-center steering system. The suspension dampers are actually housed inside the aluminum frame, making use of the space below the large lithium-ion battery pack. With everything mounted horizontally and low, Johammer says the center of gravity is just 13.8 inches from the ground.
Johammer will produce two versions, capable of a (claimed) maximum range of either 150 km or 200 km (93 miles and 124 miles). The battery carries a nominal 72V with the J1.200 carrying a maximum capacity of 12.7 kWh of juice while the J1.150 holds 8.3 kWh. Johammer claims it takes 3.5 hours to get the 200 battery to an 80% charge while the J1.150 can get there in 2.5 hours. Johammer also claims the battery will last for more than 100,000 km (62,137 miles) and still hold 80% of its original capacity.
The battery powers the 11kW brushless AC motor mounted to the rear wheel. Like most electric motorcycles, the J1 operates on a single gear, carrying a 1:10.15 gear ratio. Johammer claims a top speed of 75 mph.
While most motorcycles have the mirrors mounted on the handlebars, it’s the reverse on the Johammer. The hand controls actually clip onto the mirror stalks that poke up from the fairing. The stalks hide some electrical wiring, as the mirrors have 2.5-inch high-resolution displays that act as the J1′s instruments.
Other features include front and rear pegs, 57.3-inch wheelbase and a 25.6-inch seat height. The J1.150 claims a weight of 350 pounds while the J1.200 weighs a claimed 390 pounds.
Johammer Chief Executive Officer Johann Hammerschmid tells Salzburg.com the company hopes to produce 50 units by the end of the year, with plans to later increase production to 300 to 500 units per year. The J1.150 is priced at 23,000 euros (US$31,773) while the J1.200 goes for 25,000 euros (US$34,536).
My favorite thing to do on motorcycles used to be see how fast I could fly through places like Texas. Lately the theme seems to have shifted to understanding that the motorcycle is the perfect vehicle for getting from one interesting place to the next within a given geographic area. Maybe the cruiser crowd has always known that? As it turns out, there are a lot of interesting places in Texas within an hour or two of Houston’s George Bush International Airport.
#1 Best Thing to do in Texas: Get plenty of sleep. But seriously, the theme for this trip to Texas (besides riding around on an Indian Chief Classic) was to take in the Texas Bluebonnet foliage outbreak. We were a little early; the only Bluebonnets I found were in this cemetery in LaGrange.
Ride like the wind
The Texas Tornado Boot Camp teaches you to ride on three or four different dirt tracks in and around the Cathedral of Speed. Then it teaches you the meaning of life in those chairs when the sun goes down. There is no beer, but there is plenty of Coors Light.
The number one interesting place for motoheads might be the Texas Tornado Boot Camp, run by former World Superbike Champ and current MotoGP star Colin Edwards. Located in Montgomery, Texas, the TTBC very well may be the best way on earth to achieve total motorcycle control in four days (though shorter camps also happen).
You do that by riding around in the dirt on YamahaTT-R125s running knobby front tires and street rears, up close and very personal with a staff of fantastic instructors including the Tornado himself. Too bad I didn’t get this story written in time for you to sign up for the post-Austin MotoGP camp, but there will be plenty of other opportunities. Even more than most places in Texas, the food and bbq alone almost makes the Camp worth the price of admission.
Remember to close the gate or those longhorn varmints will come right into the yard.
A nice ride on one of Mr. Elick’s retired cutting horses is just the thing to make you re-appreciate your motorcycle.
After four days of TT-R125 boot camp, you’ll be ready to embrace the simple life, and an excellent place to do that is not too far west, just outside of Chappell Hill, at Texas Ranch Life. The Lonesome Pine Ranch was originally settled in 1823 by one of Stephen Austin’s original cronies (Washington County is the birthplace of the state of Texas, and never mind the Ranch is in Austin County). Mrs. Elick’s thing (she’s one of the owners) is dragging and restoring old houses onto the 1800-acre ranch, and you’ll stay in one of them – albeit with WiFi, running water, etc. – while you watch the longhorns mosey by and hear the coyotes harmonize at night under the stars, which actually are big and bright.
Mr. Elick’s thing is horses, longhorn cattle, shooting skeet, fishing – and he loves to share. Then there’s Texas Ranch Life’s new chef, recently imported from a big restaurant in Houston.
They love their vegetarians in Texas, which are fine eating: your cows, your chickens, your swine … All the plant-based dishes were delicious also, mostly organic veggies grown on site.
The man cooks a mean barbecue indeed. It’s fun to ride off on your motorcycle just so you can come back later and say ‘meanwhile back at the ranch.’
Listen to Music
Gruene Hall claims to be Texas’ oldest dance hall. You never know who’ll show up (unless you check the calendar). Just off the Guadalupe River in beautiful north New Braunfels.
I don’t know why this old Marshall Tucker tune gets stuck in my head half the time I’m riding a motorcycle somewhere, but it does. It’s even worse when I actually am down around Houston, Texas, where the sun shines most of the time. Other places to ride through in the area which are guaranteed to stick other songs in your head if you’re of a certain age include China Grove and LaGrange. Ride to Austin if you want, for plenty of live music. Or ride to Gruene, between San Antonio and Austin, and take in a show at Gruene Hall, Texas’ oldest dance hall. Careful you don’t fall through the floor. Very authentic.
Here’s my borrowed Indian Chief Classic on its way to the wrong side of the tracks in Brenham, which is every bit the quaint Texas town you’d expect. A nice place to visit.
Brenham is the county seat of Washington County, complete with courthouse square, straight out of an old movie. It’s a great place to eat way too much and drop off the members of the party who are tired of riding while you head off into the hinterlands. The main industry of Washington County, other than production of Blue Bell Ice Cream, is selling antiques (junk) to each other and tourists. Brenham’s got over 400 shops, enough to keep the historical-shopping inclined cross-eyed for days.
The presidential suite is swank indeed.
City folk will want to stay at the beautifully restored Ant Street Inn, right in the heart of it.
Jeanne from Pleasant Hill Winery. Know when to say when. Also know when to say, “Hit me again Jeanne.”
Did you know Texas has more than 400 wineries? When we toured Pleasant Hill Winery in March, the sap was literally rising: As soon as vintner/pruner/owner/bottler Bob Cottle would prune a branch, it would start bleeding onto the ground immediately. The Portejas Blanco – a white port – is amazingly different. Meanwhile down I-290, nobody expected much from Saddlehorn Winery’s Barn Red. Maybe that’s why it tasted so good?
Larn things …
The shroud of Norris.
Washington-on-the Brazos State Historic Site is the birthplace of Texas’ freedom, though you’ll have to work it out yourself exactly who from? From whom. Stephen Austin led the first pack of 300 families down from Missouri just in time for Mexico to split from Spain, and then for Tejas to split from both of them. Soon everybody was kung-fu fighting at the Alamo. Later, the Mexicans got on Geronimo’s bad side by massacring his woman and children and it all became quite a mess; some will tell you Texas still ain’t right. (I give you Gov. Rick Perry.) In any case, the star attraction of the museum for me is the actual jacket worn by Chuck Norris in Walker, Texas Ranger.
There’s also a working farm there, Barrington Farm, which is run using the farming techniques of the mid 19th century. Most of us wouldn’t want to go back there, but it’s a good place to visit. Crazily enough, in the 21st century, the biggest problem is the feral pigs that come in from down by the Brazos and root up all the crops.
When you’re a Texas longhorn bull with an itch, you scratch it.
Lead the Free World
Steve Kirtchner, standing in for Leader of the Free World #41, reacts to the idea that George Jr. might someday succeed him.
The George Bush Presidential Library is in College Station, home of the Aggies. This “world-class museum offers a unique glimpse into the life and career of our nation’s 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush.” I was dealing with a flat tire that day and didn’t get to go, but supposedly there’s a “situation room,” wherein you get to make fateful history-altering decisions. My friend Steve Kirtchner (bywaysmagazine.com) felt more comfortable hitting the “Bombs Away” button from the Oval Office. It’s a little more intimate.
Stop and smell the roses.
It only recently occurred to me, while defending my off-road habit to a tree hugger, that we motorcycle people really are at heart nature lovers. We want to be out there in it. I really dug the Antique Rose Emporium. Two or three decades ago, Mike Shoup got bored selling the usual nursery plants to people, and began to notice all the antique varieties of (mostly) roses that survived in old cemeteries, from a time when it was common for them to be planted along with the loved one. In contrast to modern roses, which require a lot of care and are bred for perfect flowers, many of the antique varieties Mike now deals in are unique and hardy survivors, from a time when roses were grown also for fragrance. When luxuries were few and beautiful things semi-scarce, people grew their own from seeds imported from all over the world. Who knew?
Thanks to Indian for the use of its Chief Classic. Thanks to the very nice people in Brenham, Texas for putting up with us. www.visitbrenhamtexas.com, 1-888-BRENHAM
The Naked bike category has really advanced in the last few years. It started with a number of motorcycles that were basically stripped down, detuned sport bikes. Not only were the engines detuned, the chassis received cheap suspension and brakes. Basically, most of the manufacturers did not believe in the category, or, at least, they […]... Click Here for Article
Ducati officially presented the D|Air-compatible version of the Mulitstrada 1200, which claims to be the industry’s first motorcycle wirelessly connected to a wearable airbag. Available only for Europe, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring D|Air combines onboard sensors and Dainese‘s D|Air Street motorcycle jacket airbags into one integrated safety system.
A joint project between Ducati and Dainese, the Multistrada 1200 S Touring D|Air uses two triple-axis accelerometers mounted to the fork bottoms and another two mounted under the seat with a D|Air electronic control unit. The accelerometers detect potential crash scenarios and determines whether airbags need to be deployed.
If necessary, the D|Air ECU sends a signal to the rider’s D|Air Street jacket to deploy its airbag to provide added protection to the back, chest and collarbone. The entire process takes 45 milliseconds, including 25 ms for the accelerometer algorithm to decide airbags are required and another 20 ms for the airbags to fully inflate.
The accelerometers can recognize impacts from the front, sides or rear, as well as low-side scenarios. The system also recognizes when an airbag is unnecessary such as a rider losing balance at low speeds or the Multistrada tipping over while parked.
According to Ducati, the D|Air Street reduces the energy of impact transferred to a rider’s body by 72% compared to a standard back protector and 89% compared to a chest protector. The system can be paired with two different D|Air Street jackets, providing protection for both a rider and a passenger.
The D|Air Street jacket (sold separately) is made of Gore-Tex fabric and includes a detachable thermal lining. A pair of 12-liter high-pressure airbags are integrated into the lining along with two “cold” technology gas generators to inflate them. The D|Air system is powered by a USB-charged battery pack that Ducati says offers 30 hours of use and can be fully charged in five hours. The airbag system adds about 3.3 pounds to the jacket’s weight. Dainese says the jackets require a maintenance check every 24 months.
The onboard components add about 2.2 pounds of weight, including the accelerometers and the additional LED display located above the Multistrada’s regular instruments. The green Rider and Passenger LEDs light up to show when a jacket is connected, and flash when a malfunction is detected or there is a problem with the connection. A center yellow D|Air LED lights up to indicate an error with the system or if the batteries in the jackets are running low.
The Multistrada’s round dot-matrix secondary display also displays the jackets’ battery levels and indicates when a maintenance check is required.
At the moment, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring D|Air is only offered in Europe, where it will arrive in showrooms in May. Pricing is set at €20990 (US$29,000), a premium of €700 (US$967) over a regular Multistrada 1200 S Touring. D|Air Street jackets are not included.
Riders of other motorcycles and brands are out of luck for now, though Dainese says it plans to make the technology available to other manufacturers.
KTM reported a record year in 2013, but the Austrian company does not appear to be slowing down in 2014. KTM claims sales of 32,994 motorcycles over the first three months of the year, an impressive 26.8% increase over the same period in 2013.
Sales revenues also saw an impressive 20.4% increase compared to last year, increasing to €196.9 million (US$272.1 million) from €163.5 million. Even more impressively, KTM reports Earnings Before Interest and Taxes of €14.6 million, compared to €4.1 million last year.
KTM expects further sales and revenue increases through the rest of 2014, thanks to its expansion plans in Asia and South America. In March, KTM opened a new production facility in China with Chinese manufacturer CF-Moto. The facility will assemble 200 and 390 Duke models for the Chinese market.