Polaris and Costco Auto Program today announced a joint offer that will see Costco members eligible to receive promotional benefits on a selection of Polaris brands for all model years.
The promotion runs from September 1 – November 30, 2015 and is valid for Polaris side-by-sides, Victory Motorcycles, GEM electric vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles (exclusions include the RZR XP Turbo EPS and Indy 120). Costco members must register for the offer on CostcoAuto.com/Polaris to be connected to a participating Polaris dealer. Once done, members can receive exclusive member pricing, a $200 Costco Cash Card for submitting a redemption form and completing a Costco Auto Program member satisfaction survey, and any applicable consumer incentives.
In addition, Costco members save 15% (up to $200) on regular-priced parts, service, accessories and apparel year-round, when they present their membership card at participating Polaris dealers.
American Honda announced the 2016 CRF1000L Africa Twin will be available for $12,999 for the manual transmission model, and $13,699 for the dual clutch transmission version. American Honda also reversed course on its previous announcement regarding anti-lock brakes and the Honda Selectable Torque Control (i.e. traction control), announcing both features will come standard on both versions of the Africa Twin.
Previously, Honda had announced both features would only be available on DCT-equipped models. In prior years, American Honda has packaged ABS with DCT on models like the NC700X and CTX700, forcing customers who would like ABS to also shell out for DCT; other markets have offered ABS on non-DCT models from the start, and it’s nice to see American Honda finally following suit, though it remains to be seen if Honda will do the same on other DCT-capable models.
On the Africa Twin, ABS and HSTC can both be switched off for off-road riding, so the two technologies would not intervene when the wheels spin a different speeds.
Honda also announced a number of accessories for the Africa Twin including a pedal shifter for DCT models so riders can choose to use their feet to shift instead of relying on the DCT’s paddle shifters or automatic modes.
Robb Talbott is late. We agreed to meet at the site of his forthcoming motorcycle museum in Carmel Valley, but the guy is nowhere in sight. Just then, a late-model pickup comes rattling up the drive, towing a trailer. On the back is something you just don’t see everyday: a single-cylinder, brakeless, fire-breathing, on/off switch of a motorcycle that looks like it could pitch you into the grandstands faster than you could say “JAP.” The owner, a former European speedway champ, now in his 80s, just gave him the damn thing, along with all his trophies and memorabilia. After all, what was he going to do with the stuff? Robb might as well have it.
Then, while we’re standing there, slackjawed at the raw muscle of a vintage speedway bike, some guy with a French accent walks up, and by the way, would Robb like to come over to his house and see a couple of old Triumphs he has in a barn? “No problem,” says Talbott, caving faster than a tire that just encountered a broken Coke bottle. “Be there this afternoon!”
Welcome to the world of Robb Talbott, heir to the Robert Talbott clothing company, owner of Talbott Vineyards, and unabashed gearhead. Where motorcycles are concerned, Talbott emits a giant sucking sound. People want him to have this stuff, because they know he loves motorcycles more than anything in the whole world.
Business owner, vintner, and motorcycle nut Robb Talbott on his 1964 DOT scrambler. “Somewhere along the way, motorcycles developed into art objects for me. These bikes take your heart. So why not devote a museum to that?”
For the last 15 years, Talbott has been collecting bikes and dreaming up his yet-to-be-named motorcycle museum in the bucolic town, next to his tasting room. He plans to open it to the public sometime in 2016. And he was kind enough to give us a walk-through – despite the fact that the museum is decidedly a work in progress.
“I’ve been riding since ’64,” says Talbott, now 67. “When I first had a motorcycle, and rode across Colorado, I just couldn’t believe the freedom. And I still have the passion, 50 years later. That’s pretty cool. I just love riding.” And he means it. Talbott spent years racing motocross. He recently rode the Motogiro, and after we met, embarked on the 850-mile Moto Melee – on a 1965 BMW R69S. In 2011, he circumnavigated the country on a BMW GS. The guy is saddle-certified.
There is no logic to the Talbott museum, other than the most logical thing of all: it’s full of stuff Robb likes. This means three large categories: vintage dirt bikes (especially those he raced); MV Agustas and all things Italian; and piddling, 175cc, pre-1957 Motogiro bikes.
Little Italian screamers hold a special fascination for Talbott, who’s a veteran of the famed Motogiro event. All have number plates, displace less than 175cc, and date from ’51 to ’57. Molto bello.
Despite donations, the museum is definitely not built upon the charitable impulses of others. Robb figures he’s already put a couple of million into the project. But that’s okay. He can. He’s Robb Talbott, after all. Why shouldn’t he?
When finished, Talbott’s museum will cover about 6,000 square feet and encompass two floors: road bikes upstairs, and mostly dirt bikes downstairs. Another dozen or so machines will reside next door, in the Talbott Vineyards tasting room. All told, the museum will feature about 100 bikes, stored in racks two and three high. There will also be a “barn find” room of unrestored machines, and a few vintage bicycles for good measure (pedal bikes are another Talbott passion). The nonprofit museum will be open four days per week, and will also be available for special events.
One other thing about Talbott: he likes his bikes a bit scruffy. Some are untouched; others are internally reworked but tatty on the outside. Only a few are complete, concours restorations. “I like barn finds,” says Talbott. “If a bike has a neat story, I’ll never restore it. After all, it’s the only bike in the world with that story.”
The best example of this leave-’em-be philosophy is the 1965 BMW R69S that won the “Spirit of the Quail” award at the recent Quail Motorcycle Gathering. The bike was originally owned by a recluse in the Big Sur mountains. When a fast-moving wildfire threatened his property, the owner simply dug a hole with a loader and buried the bike – for a month. Talbott acquired the Beemer, had it reworked internally, but left the outside dirty and paint-chipped, as a testament to the conflagration – and to Talbott’s eclectic tastes.
“I raced a Yamaha DT-1,” says Talbott. “I ran that thing into the ground, and did all my own driving through the night, wrenching, racing – and crashing. I also raced a BSA 441 Victor Special. I was always at the bottom of the podium, or just off it. I didn’t win because I wouldn’t take the risks.”
“This is my Motogiro bike,” says Talbott of his 1956, one-cylinder Gilera 175 Sport. “It did 550 perfect miles. I put it together myself, in about a week, and I’m going to run it again this September. I love these little bikes. It’s like going back to where I started in motorcycling.”
No genre of motorbikes is off-limits as far as Talbott is concerned – including this Vespa scooter, one of a few dozen developed as promotional schwag for COACH clothing.
Talbott studied art in college, and perhaps no motorcycle speaks to him like the MV Agusta F4, which was featured in the Guggenheim’s “Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit and has been called one of the most beautiful motorcycles in the world. This special edition is one of only a few dozen examples.
Long before the water-cooled, two-stroke Suzuki Water Buffalo, there was the Scott Flying Squirrel. “It’s so cute,” says Talbott of this 1938 example. “It’s beat up just the right amount. I love the patina.”
Talbott is a personal friend of AMA Hall of Fame dirt-tracker Don Castro. This short-track bike has a Trackmaster frame and Montesa engine. “In ’72 his van was stolen, with everything in it,” says Talbott. “He didn’t have time to nickel-plate the frame on this one afterward, and I plan to leave it that way. He said the scratches in the number plate are from Mert Lawwill’s roost. I have Don’s pictures, leathers, helmet, and a Triumph he owned. I plan to show it all together.”
“They called this the widowmaker,” says Talbott of the scary-fast and ill-handling 1969 Kawasaki H1 Mach III 500. “I bought this from a soldier at Fort Carson, Colorado. He said it almost killed him. I had one back then, and it almost killed me, too.”
Several years ago Robb Talbott and Talbott CEO Bob Corliss circumnavigated the country on matching BMWs, visiting business accounts and covering 14,000 miles. Nice work if you can get it.
“Everyone wants a Goldie,” says Talbott of this 1961 BSA Gold Star Clubman. “I waited years to get the right one. This is a 98-point Concours bike.”
“I’m not a Harley guy,” says Talbott. “But I had to have this one – a 1922 board track racer.”
Geoff Drake (www.wriding.com) is the former editor of Bicycling and VeloNews magazines, writes regularly for moto mags, and has written books about motorcycles and bicycles. Randy Wilder is staff photographer for the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has imposed a $2.9 million fine on Triumph for failing to report a safety recall in a timely manner and for failing to report its progress on correcting the problem. Triumph has admitted to its violations.
The fine includes a $1.4 million penalty and $500,000 to meet a series of requirements to improve its safety processes. The remaining $1 million will be levied if Triumph fails to make improvements or if further violations are found.
At issue is Triumph’s handling of a recall on 1,368 ABS-equipped 2012-2013 Street Triple and Street Triple R models for loose bolts that could hamper steering movement. According to NHTSA’s database, the U.S. recall was reported on Sept. 8, 2014. The same recall was issued in the U.K. on June 10, 2013, and in Canada on June 11, 2013, or about 15 months before Triumph took action in the U.S.
This April, NHTSA opened an investigation to determine if the delay was a violation of the Safety Act. The investigation also found several violations on reporting requirements and communicating with NHTSA.
As with all U.S. recalls, Triumph is legally required to provide quarterly reports on its recall progress. The first report was due by Jan. 30, 2015 followed by the second report on April 30. Triumph was late on both occasions, filing the first report on Feb. 25 and the second one on May 21. NHTSA issued warning letters following both overdue reports. The third report was due July 30 and Triumph was on time, submitting its report on July 13.
NHTSA also determined Triumph failed to supply copies of technical service bulletins and failed to file early warning data reports on death and injury claims, warranty data and other information. Triumph also failed to respond on time to a NHTSA special order issued as part its investigation.
“Manufacturers must comply with their reporting obligations. The law requires it, and public safety demands it,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “When companies fail to meet those obligations, we will hold them accountable.”
Triumph has acknowledged deficiencies in how it collects and reports early warning data to NHTSA. The company is ordered to hire an independent consultant to audit its safety practices, establish a compliance officer position with direct access to the company’s board and senior executives, and submit written plans for employee training and compliance practices for approval by NHTSA.
Honda’s highly anticipated CRF1000L Africa Twin has received pricing for the U.S. market at $12,999 for the standard transmission model, and $13,699 for the DCT model. Both models will feature ABS and “Honda Selectable Torque Control”. Honda says the bike will reach U.S. dealers during the Spring of next year. Here is the information released […]... Click Here for Article
Harley-Davidson cognoscenti are familiar with the hole in the Motor Company’s touring line up. Well, after two years absence, the Road Glide Ultra returns as a 2016 model. The vacation appears to have been good to the Ultra, which rejoins the model line tanned, rested, and with a new body to show off.
The most obvious change from the previous generation of the Road Glide Ultra is the addition of the frame-mounted shark nose fairing which was introduced on the base Road Glide last year. While the fairing is sharp looking, the real purpose behind its redesign was to eliminate the buffeting that is, ironically, often felt behind the weather protection on motorcycles. Harley’s engineers solved this issue with its Triple Slipstream vent system. We loved it on last year’s base Road Glide, and a model year later, we are even more impressed with the exact same venting on the Ultra. The lower, central vents can be closed to keep air from hitting the rider’s chest in cooler weather, but as long as the top vent is left open, buffeting around the helmet at highway speeds is almost eliminated – at least for this 5-ft. 11-in. rider.
The 13.5 in. windshield may be a bit tall for some riders.
The Glide’s improved fairing brings along with it the raft of upgrades developed during Harley’s Project Rushmore. On the inside, the rider has access to the Boom! Box 6.5 GT audio system with GPS and touchscreen. The stereo is also Bluetooth-friendly. On the outside, a Dual Daymaker Reflector LED Headlamp lights the road with a bright, white light beam. All of these can be controlled via the comprehensive hand controls.
Functional changes from the pre-Rushmore Road Glide include: 49mm forks, Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS, and Impeller cast aluminum wheels differentiate the Ultra from other Glides. As with it’s other Rushmore siblings, the Ultra gets its motivation from Twin-Cooled, High Output Twin Cam 103, an engine that cleverly hides its liquid-cooling in the fairing lowers. But all of that is Rushmore and not Ultra.
What sets the Ultra apart from mere Road Glides are things like premium saddlebags with liners and the newly updated premium Tour-Pak. For 2016, the Tour-Pak gains a sharp-looking LED stop/turn/tail light bar that really pops in both daylight and after dark. The Tour-Pak also adds 2.4 cu. ft. of storage capacity and a 12-volt charging port.
Great ventilation from the gills beside the headlights and liquid-cooling, the Harley tourer gets serious.
Riding the Road Glide Ultra points out, once again, what a great engine the HO Twin Cam 103 is. Acceleration around town and on the open road is abundant, and the ride is mostly vibration-free. One cool feature of the engine is the Rider-initiated Engine Idle Temperature Management Strategy (EITMS), a feature that causes the engine to kill its rear cylinder when the bike is idling or in neutral once it hits a specified temperature. Anyone who has spent time on a Big Twin can tell horror stories about baked right thighs in stop and go traffic. While the engine sounds quite different, not having the heat escalate at a stop is a boon. As soon as the throttle is rolled on, the rear cylinder returns to firing as normal.
Since, according to Product Planning Director Paul James, “Road Glide Ultra riders rack up more miles per season than owners of any other Harley-Davidson model,” the riding position on the Road Glide Ultra has been altered by changing the handlebar bend to place the rider in a more sit-up-and-beg position for longer stints in the saddle. While I prefer a little more forward reach, my informal survey of the other journalists returned a split decision. So, perhaps the designers are on to something. As is usual with most Harleys, rear suspension travel limits the shocks’ ability to handle abrupt bumps, but you were probably expecting that complaint, right? The ground clearance on the Ultra is good for touring duties on undulating roads.
The Road Glide Ultra receives new wheels in the Impeller design.
The 2016 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra has taken the base Road Glide and given it tons of features that long-distance riders will want. The bike should be a hit with the Harley touring set since the Ultra builds on a bike that we’ve tested and enjoyed enough to name it Honorable Mention: Best Touring Motorcycle of 2015. The color choices are: Vivid Black, Billet Silver/Vivid Black, Mysterious Red Sunglo/Velocity Red Sunglo, Purple Fire/Blackberry Smoke, Cosmic Blue Pearl. The MSRP options are $25, 699 (black) to $26,299 (other solid colors), $26,799 (two-toned colors), and $26,999 (custom colors).
So, you’re considering joining the ranks of motorcycle riders. Congratulations! Motorcycling is an activity that many riders immediately fall in love with and even claim to be life altering. You won’t hear any of the MO editorial staff argue with that. After all, we’ve devoted the bulk of our lives, professionally and personally, to motorcycling. Consequently, our opinions skew hugely motorcycling-positive. However, we won’t sugar coat it either. Riding a motorcycle is a challenging sport that requires diligence and constant self-analysis to be done proficiently while limiting danger. With the stakes being so high out on the road, you don’t want to depend solely on the advice of a riding buddy (though it’s always good to have more experienced friends as resources) or just plain dumb luck. With that in mind, we’ve put together this rider training primer to help start you rolling down the highway the right way.
MSF Basic Rider Course
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is an internationally known non-profit organization operated by the Motorcycle Industry Council, which itself is an organization funded by motorcycle manufacturers and aftermarket companies (i.e. folks really interested in you riding motorcycles for a long time), to promote rider education and safety. The programs created by the MSF are research-based and designed to give riders the requisite skills to go out and learn how to ride out on the public roads.
The BRC will give you the foundation to become a beginning rider. What you do with it is up to you.
In order to improve the courses that the MSF provides, it actively participates in safety research with the goal of pinpointing the skills lacking or the behaviors present in accident-involved motorcyclists. A recent research project, the MSF 100 Motorcyclists Naturalistic Study, focused on riders in their daily riding lives to expand beyond the typical accident reconstruction means of gathering data. Instead, this study would focus both on what riders are doing right and wrong. In the future, the MSF plans to fold the information gathered in this and other studies back into its training programs.
One feature of rider education that is often overlooked is that becoming a proficient, safe rider requires a lot more than just taking a safety class. The MSF has been very vocal about rider education being a life-long process that doesn’t end when a person passes a course and heads out on the road. Consequently, the MSF also offers classes for advanced riders, too.
But on to the Basic Rider Course (BRC). Most of the state-sponsored rider education classes are based on the BRC. While some states may mandate tweaks to parts of the curriculum, the BRC is the closest thing we’ve got to a national standard for rider education. For people who are unsure if they want to ride, the MSF offers the MSF Basic eCourse, an online program that outlines many of the basics of riding a motorcycle to help them decide if motorcycling is for them.
Riders who sign up for a BRC receive a total of approximately five hours of classroom instruction and ten hours of riding instruction which is usually over the course of two days. The program is directed towards people who have never thrown a leg over a motorcycle – although more experienced riders can benefit, too. While the skills taught in the BRC are important, many riders make the mistake of thinking that, by passing the course, they are now somehow full-fledged motorcyclists. The hint to this misconception is in the course name. By learning the basic riding skills, graduates are now qualified to be beginning riders. It is incumbent on the rider to diligently practice the skills learned and apply them on the public highways. Remember, rider education is a life-long process, which is why, as said above, the MSF has additional courses for more advanced riders, too.
Though not the most glamorous activities, regular practice of your riding skills will help you master them sooner.
In the past year the California Motorcyclist Safety Program switched from the MSF BRC and licensed a new provider. Based on the successful Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic, the Learn to Ride and License Course should train about 65,000 riders a year in over 120 training sites. Although this change is the result of a bit of controversy about accident statistics (which you can read about here), having competition within the rider training community should improve the courses – and benefit the riders that take them.
Based on the Idaho STAR new-rider program with select updates added by Total Control President, Lee Parks, the Learn to Ride and License Course will apply new techniques to address concerns that the program administrators (the California Highway Patrol) have about motorcycle accident statistics. Parks’ years teaching the Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic plus his personal research gives him the experience and the knowledge base to create exercises to address the CHP’s issues.
For folks who like to read, there are several books that offer insight for new riders. Ken Condon’s Motorcycling the Right Way teaches strategies aimed at “reducing risks and potential crashes and increasing the rider’s ever-improving skills and situational awareness.” Additionally, he teaches riding classes a calendar for which can be found at the Riding the Zone website, though some riding experience is required. Lee Parks’ book, Total Control, outlining his philosophy about proficient riding may be of interest, as well. Although Pat Hahn’s How to Ride a Motorcycle is getting hard to find, it offers useful riding tips for new riders (and photos by MO staffer Evans Brasfield).
The MSF makes it easy to search for MSF-based new rider courses through a handy web form on its website, www.msf-usa.org. Just enter your zip code, and you’ll be pointed in the right direction. Also, Harley-Davidson is very active in rider education with its HD New Rider Academy. Additionally, Harley created the HD Ride Free Program to give active and former military personnel free motorcycle training. Very cool.
While you’re looking for training, check to see if your state offers incentives for taking the class. Additionally, you may qualify for an insurance discount with a completion certificate. Also, some manufacturers will offer incentives to help pay for rider education when you buy a new bike.
Everyone wants new riders to get trained. While it is not a panacea for all of the risks involved in motorcycling, it does set you on the road to becoming a proficient rider – provided you practice, practice, practice.
Nine bikes and riders, six days and 2,000 miles are the key ingredients going into our 2015 Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure Shootout. Sprinkle in some off-road trekking and garnish with a few nights of camping, and our shootout souffle will be complete. Special sauce will be provided by the unforeseen occurrences that accompany any ride of this nature.
The adventure begins Monday, August 31 with a sunrise gathering at the famous Rock Store. From there we travel North to Big Sur, Gualala, Redwood National Park and back. We’re sure you’re aware that California is hot, bone dry and burning down, so our route will be a coastal one in both directions.
We invite you to follow our progress with daily updates on the MO website and our social networks, as well as GPS mapping provided by the SPOT Gen 3 tracking device.
We’ve tested many versions of the bikes involved here in solo reviews or in shootout fashion, pitting two or three against one another, but never before have we gathered nine bikes at one time to determine the king of Sporty Adventure-Tourers.
Look for the story and accompanying video to be published on Thursday, September 17.
Kawasaki ruled the big bike motocross class for the first part of the decade with its amazing KX450F, but times have changed, and in 2015 the big green machine wasn’t as dominant as it used to be.
With its last major redesign coming four years ago, and in the face of stiffer competition from the likes of KTM, Husqvarna and Yamaha, it was high time for the KX450F to be significantly updated, and Kawasaki has delivered that with the 2016 model. The new machine boasts a new engine that is lighter and more powerful, as well as a new chassis that is also lighter and slimmer. The net result of Kawasaki’s handiwork is a KX450 that is 7.5 lbs. lighter than the previous model and a whole lot more fun to ride.
Power was never a problem with the KX450F in the past, but Kawasaki’s engineers realized that there was plenty that could be done to make the engine quicker and lighter still. To that end, the KX’s fuel-injected DOHC four-stroke engine features entirely new cases that are shaped differently and feature lighter, thinner castings without sacrificing rigidity. While making the case change, Kawasaki also moved the oil pump from the left case to the right case and integrated the scavenge pump and the feed pump into one unit rather than keeping them separate, which saves space inside the smaller engine. The KX’s cylinder is also offset, pushed forward 8.5 mm to reduce friction by reducing piston to cylinder wall thrust, which frees up even more power.
Kawasaki has completely redesigned the KX450F for 2016, and the new machine is lighter, quicker and better handling than the previous generation.
The engine’s shape is already a dead giveaway that the 2016 KX450F is new, even though it retains the same 449cc displacement, 96.0 x 62.1mm bore and stroke and 12.8:1 compression ratio as the 2015 KX450F. Inside, however, the new motor also contains a significant number of redesigned parts. For instance, the cylinder head features redesigned intake ports that are straighter than before to provide a more direct shot of the incoming mixture into the combustion chamber.
The KX450F’s 449cc DOHC, four-stroke Single boasts new engine cases that are thinner yet lighter than the previous cases. Its cylinder has been moved forward 8.5mm, its intake ports have been revised, its crankshaft has been lightened, its piston is all-new, and it boasts a more compact 43mm Keihin throttle body among other revisions.
That isn’t all. New 36mm titanium intake valves are employed to lighten the valvetrain, and Kawasaki says that the valves feature the same design parameters as the intake valves in its supersport engines, giving them a slimmer throat angle and reduced recesses. All four of the KX450F’s valves are bumped by new intake and exhaust cams that have been reshaped for a slimmer internal diameter, which provides a scant 0.5 oz. weight savings. Likewise, a new intake cam sprocket shaves an additional 0.7 oz. of reciprocating weight from the engine. In an attempt to gain better low-end power, Kawasaki engineers also revised the intake cam timing, advancing it 2°.
A new version of Kawasaki’s pioneering F1-style bridged-box bottom piston matches the new valve shapes. A reshaped crankshaft saves 1.9 oz. of weight, and the counterbalancer gears have also been lightened to reduce reciprocating weight by another 1.4 oz.
The gaps in the corners of the KX’s seat are actually air channels that lead into an all-new air box that has been redesigned without any steel parts to save weight.
Kawasaki engineers also worked hard to maximize air flow into the engine and improve throttle response by completely redesigning the KX450F’s airbox, which now brings in fresh air through a pair of air intakes located at the back of the seat. All of the steel parts from the air box structure have been eliminated, which not only saves weight but also helps to reduce intake noise. Even greater noise reduction is attained via the KX450F’s exhaust system, which incorporates a new header design with a resonator that is designed to reduce sound emissions while boosting the engine’s low-end grunt.
The KX’s new 43mm Keihin throttle body is lighter and more compact than the previous version, with some of the weight savings coming via the elimination of the previous throttle linkage. Kawasaki’s DFI fuel-injection system boasts a revised fuel pump that facilitates the use of a lowered 1.66-gallon fuel tank to improve the bike’s center of gravity. Of course, the KX450F’s ECU retains Kawasaki first-in-class Launch Control feature, and the ignition curve can still be altered by plugging one of three distinct DFI couplers to suit the booming motor to match track conditions and/or riding style. The engine ECU is also fully programmable through Kawasaki’s accessory handheld KX FI Calibration Kit, which can store up to seven preset maps.
Test rider Ryan Abbatoye liked the new KX450F, noting that its strong mid-range power and extremely precise steering are definite improvements over the 2015 model.
Our test ride took place at Sunrise MX Park in Adelanto, California, the newly redesigned track providing an excellent challenge for a newly redesigned motorcycle. Right off the bat, expert moto tester Ryan Abbatoye was impressed with the KX engine’s ability to churn out smooth bottom-end character that doesn’t immediately rip your arms off. However, you’d best be hanging on because the KX quickly vaults into a stout mid-range hit and pulls hard all the way to its rev limiter. The killer mid-range and long-legged top-end mean you won’t have to shift the KX450F’s slick five-speed transmission all that much. Abbatoye also noted that the KX has a much, much better-sounding exhaust note than the previous models despite it being a claimed 2db quieter than the old exhaust system – something Kawasakis have been criticized for in the past. Throttle response is also excellent regardless of rpm or engine load.
But what really impressed about the new KX450F is its handling. Previous-generation Kawasaki 450s have had a “steer with the rear” handling character in which the rider was forced to get on the throttle to help the machine carve a turn. The new KX450F is far less vague, delivering light and pinpoint accurate steering manners thanks to a newfound wealth of front-end traction. That’s because the 2016 KX450F features a completely new aluminum perimeter chassis, which is about 1 lb. lighter than the previous model and a whole lot narrower, thanks to its 6mm slimmer spars than the 2015’s frame. It could have been lighter still, but the KX450F’s subframe uses thicker wall material than in the past for improved strength. Even so, a revised aluminum swingarm drops another 7.8 oz. while also boasting improved rigidity via a larger pivot diameter. The overall chassis weight savings is 3.5 lbs., even with addition of a new forged downtube that is stiffer and certainly helps the chassis to be more reactive to steering input.
The KX450F’s chassis is still arrow-stable at motocross speeds, and we have a strong suspicion it would also make a great desert racing bike. Kawasaki is famous for being a preferred brand in high-speed off-road racing as well as motocross. A KX450F-mounted team won the SCORE Baja 500 this past June.
Boasting a 28° rake and 4.9 inches of trail, the chassis is designed to concentrate more of the KX’s 240-lb. wet weight forward to really help plant the front end or hold a line in a rut or through a high-speed sweeper, and it definitely does that. The best part is that this improved steering capability doesn’t come at the expense of straight-line stability at motocross speeds. Improved handling is definitely the 2016 KX450F’s strongest attribute.
“It steers really well,” Abbatoye said. “Previous KX450F’s were always stable, but they were more work to hustle through corners than this one is. That stability has always made Kawasakis great bikes for riding fast in the desert, so it would be interesting to get this one out in the desert at really high speeds to see if more weight on the front end has an effect on its stability.”
The KX feels light and predictable in the air, thanks to its slim ergonomics, which make moving around on the machine a breeze. The KX450F also offers a surprising level of adjustability to tailor the riding position for just about anyone. Even its footpegs are adjustable by 5mm.
Abbatoye also mentioned that part of the KX450F’s handling feel can be attributed to its slimmer cockpit layout. The narrower frame spars really give the rider a lot more room to work with when scooting around on the machine to set it up for turns. Its seat is narrow but comfortable, and its flat profile makes sliding fore and aft no trouble at all. The slimmer sides also make it a little easier for shorter riders to deal with the KX’s lofty 37.8-inch seat height. On top of that, the KX450F’s ergonomics are more adjustable than most, with new footpegs that can be lowered 5mm to give taller riders more leg room as well as handlebar clamps that offer a total of 35mm of adjustment to dial-in the KX’s comfort for just about anyone.
Of all the improvements that Kawasaki has made to the KX450F, its suspension performance was the one that took the most time to get used to. Previous KX450Fs had a reputation for being stiff and unyielding over square-edged bumps, but Kawasaki has attempted to address this via revised settings in its Showa suspension components to give the bike a plusher ride. The KX’s 49mm Showa Separate Function Fork, Triple Air Chamber (SFF-TAC) unit boasts new low-friction seals and updated valving. It’s an impressive piece of suspension engineering. The left leg offers 22 positions of compression damping adjustment and 20 positions of rebound damping adjustment while further fine tuning is possible by adjusting the three air chambers in the right fork leg with the accessory 0-300 psi digital air pump that is supplied with the machine at the time of purchase.
Out back, the KX’s Uni-Trak rear suspension system has received a revised linkage ratio to work in concert with the new chassis. Its Showa piggyback reservoir shock features 19 positions of low-speed compression damping, four turns of high-speed compression damping and 19 positions of rebound damping. Typical of most off-road and motocross machines, the spring also features spring preload adjustability. For 2016, Kawasaki opted for a softer rear spring, going from 53 Newton-meters to 52 Newton-meters, again, for a plusher ride.
Take some time to dial-in your 2016 KX450F’s suspension. The 49mm Showa (SFF-TAC) fork and Showa piggyback reservoir shock have been revised to work with the new chassis and make for a plusher ride, but both ends tend to blow through their travel rather quickly during high-speed hits and when landing off of big jumps when used with the stock settings.
On the track, Abbatoye found the 2016 KX450F to be a lot plusher – in fact, a little too plush for a rider of his expert-level skills. It didn’t take long to realize that the big KX was blowing through its suspension travel rather easily at both ends when landing from big jumps and blasting through high-speed whoops. This tendency called for some adjustment.
To prevent the fork from bottoming, we opted to adjust the air pressures in the three chambers, an easy chore with Kawasaki’s special high-pressure pump, which is supplied to new KX owners. We went with Kawasaki’s recommended “Hard” pressure settings:
Kawasaki’s “Standard” settings
Kawasaki’s Recommended “Hard” settings
Inner chamber: 174 psi (12 BAR)
Inner chamber: 189 psi (13 BAR)
Balance chamber: 203 psi (14 BAR)
Balance chamber: 218 psi (15 BAR)
Outer Chamber: 14.5 psi (1 BAR)
Outer Chamber: 14.5 psi (1 BAR)
To stiffen up the shock action, we went out ¼ turn on the high-speed damping to help keep the rear wheel planted better and soak up bumps when accelerating out of a bumpy corner but added a few clicks of low-speed compression damping to slow the shock down over big hits. The combined suspension changes were a definite improvement, although Abbatoye commented that heavier riders or complete animals may want to be even more aggressive in firming up the KX’s suspension.
The new suspension settings allowed Abbatoye to attack the Sunrise track even harder, so he was glad that Kawasaki’s 270mm front and 240mm rear brakes and Nissin calipers do a great job of hauling the KX450F down from speed. The KX’s brakes deliver plenty of power and far better feel than some of the models we’ve tested lately.
If you were a fan of the old KX450F, you’ll probably like the new one even more. Kawasaki did its homework to produce a quick, comfortable and crisp-handling package.
If you’re a fan of green machines, you can also rejoice that the 2016 KX450F looks as good as it works, with all-new bodywork that gives the KX an almost anorexic look. Part of the slim appearance is due to new V-shaped radiators up front that allow the radiator shrouds to be moved in closer to the tank, and Abbatoye said that this is another contributing factor in the KX’s roomy layout.
“Bottom line, I like it a lot more than old one,” he said.
The 2016 KX450F is indeed an improved machine, and all of these improvements don’t put a substantial hurt on the customer’s wallet. At $8,799, the 2016 KX450F is only $100 more than the 2015 KX450F. That said, we expect to see a lot of green flowing into Kawasaki dealer coffers next year because we expect to see a lot of new green out on the nation’s motocross tracks.
2016 Kawasaki KX450F Specifications
Liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, four-stroke
Bore x Stroke
96 x 62.1mm
DFI® with 43mm Keihin throttle body
49mm Inverted Showa SFF-Air TAC Separate Function front Fork with Triple Air Chamber, DLC coated sliders, 22-position compression and 20-position rebound damping adjustment, 12.2 inches of travel
Uni-Trak linkage system and Showa shock, 19-position low-speed and 4-turns high-speed compression damping, 22-position rebound damping and fully adjustable spring preload, 12.4 inches of travel
Single semi-floating 270mm Braking petal-style disc with dual-piston caliper
Single 240mm Braking petal-style disc with single-piston caliper
Latigo Canyon is one of the first twisty roads I sampled when I arrived in SoCal, and it remains one of my faves even after nearly 20 years. I recently headed back to that area for what’s sadly become an infrequent event in my life: a Sunday ride.
It was delightful to dive into Latigo’s buffet of corners with only my pleasure in mind – no video sequences to shoot, no U-turns for yet another pass by a photographer, and no pulling out my notepad every 20 minutes to make sure every possible detail of a test bike is logged. It was just me and my bike on a wonderfully serpentine road.
Well, actually, it wasn’t my bike and I wasn’t alone. I was aboard KTM’s playful 390 Duke, winner of our Best Lightweight/Entry-level Motorcycle of 2015, and I was chasing one of my moto buddies, Eric Putter. Eric was aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000 with some comfort and ergo mods that combine some of what makes the new GSX-S1000/F appealing but with full Gixxer power: near 180 hp at its rear tire.
Meanwhile, the lil’ Duke transmits 40 horses to the wheel from its 373cc cylinder. Producing less than 25% of what the big Suzi generates, the KTM was clearly outmatched, right? Wrong! Within the tight confines of Latigo and other nearby canyons, the Duke was able to hang right with the Gixxer on all but the longest straights, and I was keeping up and stretching a gap in the tightest sequences without exerting much effort – the huge grin painted on my face belied the bike’s modest $5k pricetag, which includes grippy Pirelli tires, a slipper clutch and standard ABS.
KTM’s 373cc Single cranks out horsepower (and torque) numbers in excess of its class rivals, supplying superior punch from bottom to top. The 390 Duke has the same state of tune as the RC390 tested in our Beginner-ish Sportbike Shootout.
At this point you might be thinking Eric can’t be a good rider if a 390 Duke can keep up with him on a Gixxer Thou, but, trust me, Eric’s speed is well beyond average. He and I actually have a similar pace on the street – keeping a solid margin for error – so staying close to him (again, except for the longer straights) while on a one-lung roadster like the Duke is a veritable achievement. The richness of torque relative to its sub-400cc competition gives the KTM the rare-for-its-class option of two gears for any corner while maintaining entertaining velocities.
Later, we switched steeds for a few miles. Eric’s bike is an excellent example of how a competent superbike can be transformed into a better streetbike (project bike story, anyone?), endowing it with versatility for everything from errand running to sport touring. But on a tight canyon path, the sporty Gixxer GT felt a little like a Concours 14 after jumping off the crazy-agile Duke. Riding quickly required far more effort on the literbike: a much greater shove on the bars and much more concentration on monitoring and shedding speed. Honestly, the smiles were bigger and more frequent when aboard the Duke in these canyons.
Later, while enjoying the panoply of motorcycles at the Rock Store, we ran into a MO reader who wanted to know if I’d endorse him buying Aprilia’s new and awesome RSV4 RF. Well, I’d advocate the lusty ’Priller to anyone who could afford one, but Adam was already riding one of the best sportbikes ever made: BMW’s HP4. My advice was to keep his HP4 for track duty and augment his collection with a Tuono 1100 for sporty street riding.
There is no new bike priced less than $6,990 (Yamaha FZ-07) I’d rather ride to the legendary Rock Store.
Having become quickly acquainted, I suggested we mount up for more riding. I led our trio aboard the Duke, while Eric took the tail end to keep an eye on our new friend. Adam proved to be a good rider, showing promising speed while keeping himself in control – no squid indications even when I pulled away while unwinding the tightest sections more quickly than the superbikes could. There were a few times I coasted while waiting for my cohorts. We blitzed our way all the way down Latigo and had so much fun we turned around and rode it the other direction.
Back at the Rock Store, Adam took his first close look at the KTM I was riding. He bent over to look at the engine and then glanced back with knitted eyebrows and a puzzled look on his face.
“Just one cylinder?” Adam queried. I grinned for the thousandth time that day and nodded in the affirmative. “But how does it have so much power?” he asked in disbelief.
It should be noted here that if I were to design a perfect road for a 390 Duke, it would look a lot like Latigo, so the scale of the environment played a significant factor in how quickly it could be ridden. In the confined spaces of the roads in the Santa Monica Mountains, the 390 Duke can run with almost anything due to its extreme agility, relatively broad powerband and solid chassis.
Sure, I could wish for stronger brakes, larger readouts on the gauges and a smoother gearbox, but the Duke is an incredible value for its $4,999 MSRP. It has unparalleled equipment in its class, easily cruises at 80 mph and above (I once saw 110 mph on its speedo…), and, to my eyes, it looks cooler than most bikes costing thousands of dollars extra.
If you’re a basketball player or sumo wrestler, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll feel cramped on the 390. But for little old me on those canyon roads, it was hard to imagine I could have more fun on almost any other bike. (Well, I do have excruciatingly fond memories of this one.)
On that bright, sunny Sunday aboard the 390 Duke, the old adage “It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow” was put into sharp focus. And if it can be true for me – someone who has ridden the fastest production motorcycles ever made – I hope you can see the possible relevance to you.
He was supposed to be a Honda star. He leveraged his potential to secure a full factory Honda for this year through the Marc VDS team, just one year after debuting in the MotoGP class aboard an Open class Honda. We are speaking about Scott Redding. As we discussed in an article published back in […]... Click Here for Article
Round 12 of the 2015 MotoGP season was shaping up as another Marquez-Lorenzo cage match, the two brightest lights of the sport hammering the grid during four free practice sessions. They qualified one-two, with Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi, the other usual suspects, making up the top four. The Racing Gods waited to intervene until just before the sighting lap, and a dry race suddenly became a wet race – just what the Doctor ordered. Rossi’s much-needed win put 12 points between him and Lorenzo as the flying circus heads for Vale’s home crib at Misano.
The main Spanish contingent at today’s British Grand Prix got collectively rolled, as now-former world champion Marc Marquez flipped his Repsol Honda RC213V out of second place in pursuit of Rossi at Turn 1 of Lap 13. Jorge Lorenzo, who led early, gave us no reason to doubt our belief that he hates riding in the rain; having fallen as far back as sixth place by mid-race, he managed to recover sufficiently to finish fourth, going through on Pedrosa late well after Marquez had left the building. With all of his damage-control modules in the red, Lorenzo managed to limit his debit to teammate Rossi today to 12 points; it could have been much worse.
Valentino Rossi earned his fourth win of the season, putting him back in sole possession of the championship lead.
That there was an all-Italian podium today is, in itself, surprising enough. That little-known Danilo Petrucci, on the Octo Pramac second string Ducati, would stand on the second step today, is a true shocker. While Ducati factory #1 Andrea Iannone was missing in action this weekend (qualified ninth, finished eighth), Petrucci put on a one-man showcase of his wet-riding skills, after having started in 18th place, slicing through the field, passing a couple of Aliens along the way, keeping Andrea Dovizioso (who secured his first podium today since Le Mans) behind him and, late in the day, putting himself in position for an attack on his friend and idol.
Valentino Rossi topped an all-Italian podium with Danilo Petrucci and Andrea Dovizioso.
Rossi, having received word from his pit board that his paisan was closing the gap, finished the race with a few fast laps to help Danilo avoid the dishonor attendant upon a third-tranche Italian rider contemplating a take-down of Valentino Rossi. Such would be comparable to elbowing Dr. Desmond Tutu out of the buffet line at a Queen’s reception.
Cal Crutchlow was keeping a good pace before being taken by his LCR Honda teammate Jack Miller.
With three genuine Brits and a citizen of their former penal colony in Australia in the line-up, much was on the line regarding post-race bragging rights. Cal Crutchlow and teammate Jack Miller were flying early in the race, while Bradley Smith and Scott Redding were lost in the sauce. Young Miller, in fact, was gaining so many places so fast that he temporarily forgot the fact of his earthbound-ness, only to be reminded of it on Lap 3 when he went hot into a slow lefthander and collected Crutchlow. The announcers subsequently speculated that Cal might administer a brief etiquette lesson to the enthusiastic Australian later in the garage.
Which left Smith and Redding to carry, figuratively, the Union Jack. For Redding, the announcement came today that he would be leaving Mark VDS Racing for a seat on the second string Octo Pramac Ducati being forcefully repossessed from Yonny Hernandez. Thus, predictably, Redding would have his best day ever in the premier class, finishing sixth after starting 7th, neatly trading places with Smith in the process. Smith was not okay with this, but at least had the pleasure of having watched teammate and rival Pol Espargaro go ragdoll on Lap 14.
Scott Redding was the top-finishing Brit of the day. The Marc VDS rider will racing for Pramac Ducati next season.
On a dry day, both British riders might have entertained thoughts about fighting for the podium. Today’s rain tamped down the annoying tendency of the Ducatis, from factory to Avintia, to consume racing slicks at a maddening rate. Thus would we end up with two Desmosedicis on the podium and three in the top eight, compared to only two Hondas. We are reminded that the Ducati, in almost all of its previous iterations, has been surprisingly stable in the wet.
The Big Picture
Marc Marquez sealed his fate today as if it weren’t already sealed. No more conjecture about a third consecutive title. We’re left with the Bruise Brothers on the factory Yamaha team. Heading into Silverstone, most people’s money was on Lorenzo, who had more wins, and more pace, than does Rossi at this stage of his season/career. The smart money overlooked Lorenzo’s glaring difficulties running in the wet, as the past two weeks were the first instances in 2015 where weather had anything to do with race day. Now, it must be acknowledged, the weather can play a huge role in how the season turns out; it may have already done so.
Marc Marquez may not be mathematically eliminated from title contention but it’ll be nigh impossible to overcome the 77-point deficit behind Valentino Rossi, with Jorge Lorenzo also standing in the way.
Is it oversimplifying things, with a third of the season left, to suggest that Lorenzo will have things his way on dry tracks and that Rossi will enjoy the advantage on wet ones? Lorenzo at Aragon, Phillip Island and Sepang? Rossi at Misano, Motegi and Valenciana? Someone on odd calendar days and the other on evens (there are four odds and two evens left.) One thing is certain – now that Rossi has a lead, however small, he is not going to give it away. Just as on the race track, he is not going to make the unforced error that would hand the season to Lorenzo. He will take what the defense gives him, make himself very difficult to pass, figuring it will be enough to take him through November. For Rossi, there will be no risks, crazy or otherwise, until and unless the chips have come completely down and it’s win or bin for the season. Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t salivate at the thought of Rossi and Lorenzo heading to Round 18 tied for the championship?
Elsewhere on the Grid
Suzuki Ecstar teammates Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales finished in their customary ninth and 11th spots, but traded places, with Espargaro taking the six points. Surprisingly sandwiched in between the two Suzukis was chronic underachiever Alvaro Bautista in 10th place, tying his previous best finish of the season at Catalunya. Bautista’s teammate Stefan Bradl, who has been schooling the Spaniard since the day he arrived from Forward Racing, was gracious enough to crash out today, allowing Bautista to enjoy his top ten finish.
Aleix Espagargo (center) finished ninth while brother Pol Espargaro (left) did not finish. Andrea Iannone finished eighth, one of several Ducati riders who seemed to thrive on the wet track.
American Nicky Hayden enjoyed his best day since Le Mans with a respectable 12th place finish coming off the back of the seventh row. Hector Barbera, Mike de Meglio and Alex de Angelis were the last three riders to score points today.
A Quick Look Ahead
Then there is this Johann Zarco, who is busy these days trashing the Moto2 division. Today, he gradually worked himself to the front of the grid after a mediocre start, where he led pretenders Tito Rabat, Alex Rins and Alex Marquez on a merry chase for perhaps 13 laps. As things got a little tight toward the end, he casually dropped his lap time by two seconds for each of the final three laps, winning going away. Not many riders who can do that.
Johann Zarco continues to pad his lead in the Moto2 chase. Bet the Frenchman’s win went over well with the British crowd.
Zarco, leading Moto2 by 85 points, is clearly ready for MotoGP, but is MotoGP ready for him? With the grid expected to shrink to possibly 22 seats next season, and all of the good ones spoken for, would Zarco consider moving up to the premier class with a second-rate team, or would Moto2 present a better opportunity, with things expected to open up again in 2017? Rabat is taken care of for next year, being re-united with Mark VDS. Everyone else is scouring garage sales for Ouija boards, seeking answers to open-ended questions.
Or praying to The Racing Gods, who made their presence felt today, intervening on behalf of Valentino Rossi as well as Carmelo Ezpeleta, the Dorna CEO who seeks the closest of close MotoGP championship races in 2015.
ALVARO BAUTISTA IS TENTH AT SILVERSTONE BRADL CRASHES WHILE BATTLING FOR A FINISH IN THE POINTS Silverstone (UK), 30 August 2015 – Alvaro Bautista rode his Aprilia RS-GP to a tenth place finish in the rain at the English GP and matched his best performance of the season after the identical placement at Barcelona. Hard […]... Click Here for Article
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi gave a stunning performance at the British Grand Prix, taking a brilliant victory in challenging conditions. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo also rode a brave race and secured fourth place. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi mastered the MotoGP field under difficult conditions, taking his first victory at Silverstone to continue his […]... Click Here for Article
Andrea Dovizioso produced a great race for the Ducati Team in the British GP today at Silverstone to claim the final podium place in third. The Italian rider had a terrific scrap with his compatriot Danilo Petrucci, who finished runner-up in second with the Pramac Racing Team’s Desmosedici GP. His teammate Andrea Iannone found things […]... Click Here for Article
Team Suzuki Press Office – August 30. Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales put-in strong performances to finish ninth and 11th respectively at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone during their first time in full-wet conditions this season. The 12th round of the MotoGP series was heavily affected by the weather from the […]... Click Here for Article
Wet weather at Silverstone, as it often does, shook up the points battle in the MotoGP class earlier today. Co-leader in the championship at the start of the day, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi won the race and put a 12-point cushion between himself and teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who finished fourth. The Ducatis of Danillo Petrucci and […]... Click Here for Article
Next week your intrepid MO crew is embarking on an epic Adventure-Touring ride with nine – yes, nine – of the biggest and baddest A-T bikes in the segment. Over the next six days the nine bikes and riders will cover 2000 miles over various terrain. Each bike will be put to the test in what will be one of MO’s largest-ever comparison tests. We won’t give away all the bikes taking part in the test just yet, but you can likely guess some of the obvious choices. One of them being the BMW R1200GS. So for this Church feature, we look back at the 2006 BMW R1200GS Adventure. Lending his words is former MOron, Pete Brissette, who will be joining the MO crew as a special guest tester for next week’s epic ride. Lastly, be sure to check out the photo gallery for even more pics of the 2006 GS Adventure. Take it away, Pete…
2006 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure
BMW Gives You What You Wish You Already Had
By Pete Brissette Jun. 12, 2006
Photos by Kevin Wing
The word “adventure” evokes a variety of different emotions depending on who you are. For the motorcyclist, that word can’t be used without self-aggrandizing images of successfully circumnavigating the globe coming to mind. Perhaps in your mind’s eye you narrowly escaped a swollen river crossing in some remote, South American jungle. Or maybe you triumphantly conquered the unforgiving heat and sands of the Egyptian deserts while en route to Cairo. You might be the competitive, Type-A motorcyclist who cerebrates of competing in the Paris-Dakar or Baja 1000.
Any cyclist who is honest with themselves has to admit that those images have tickled their imagination at least once. No manufacturer has been able to capitalize on such mental wanderings of the motorcycle enthusiast quite like BMW. It has only been recently that other makers have entered and attempted to topple BMW’s strangle hold on a very small segment of the motorcycle world, informally known as adventure touring. Beginning with the R80 G/S, BMW created a whole new breed of motorbike specifically suited for on and off road riding(hence the S for street or strasseand the G for off road or gelände);the G/S (or GS line as it became known) has become an icon for two-wheeled exploits the world over.
In 2001 BMW created a model variation of the R 1150 GS that added the word Adventure to its moniker. Along with the lengthened name came a lengthened list of features. For 2006, BMW continues their assault of the new and/or improved with the R 1200 GS Adventure. Boasting a list of goodies not normally found on the standard R 1200 GS, the Adventure certainly is alluring to the dormant gypsy spirit in many motorcyclists, but is it all just window dressing or does the this latest GS live up to the venerable history of its predecessors?
To let the motorcycle press realize the potential (or at least a fraction thereof) that this latest GS is capable of, BMW invited a handful of us to Sedona, Arizona; a perfect backdrop for a bike like the GS. But before we were unleashed upon the dusty red desert, the BMW staff let us in on the differences between this bike and its-lesser adorned brother.
One of the most visually obvious differences is the larger fuel tank. Boasting a capacity of 8.7 gallons and a theoretical range of over 400 miles (should you be able to maintain 56 mph), the Adventure carries 3.4 gallons more petrol than the standard R 1200 GS. Next up are the two additional flaps behind the extra-large windscreen (located just behind the screen and flanking the instrument cluster area) which are said to help reduce buffeting in the “kidney area.” By most accounts, it seems to work. Following the function-over-form philosophy are the tank/engine/valve cover crash guards. Figuring that anyone purchasing a GS is probably inclined to carry a thing or two, a stainless steel luggage rack is bolted on. Presumably, a potential GS owner will want to add the optional, if pricey hard panniers and top box that will integrate nicely with said luggage rack. A two piece, adjustable seat comes on the hopped-up GS which allows the rider to lower the seat from its level (with the rear section) 36 inch position to a 35.2 inch saddle height. Standard on the Adventure but optional on the “regular” GS are hand protectors that are attached to an aluminum handlebar.
One of the many upgrades on the Adventure are the tank/engine/valve cover crash guards.
An extra 0.8 of an inch of travel has been added, for a total of 8.7 inches at the rear and 8.3 inches up front. Attached to those suspenders are the much esteemed cross-spoke wheels. Being adaptable is a hallmark of the Adventure, and to that end the gear shift and foot brake are adjustable via an eccentric pivot and a folding spacer, respectively. While in the vicinity of the gear shift and foot brake you’ll find much wider footrests, and thanks to a modified rear frame the side and center stands are relocated and easier to use. Last, but most certainly not least, is the high-output 720 watt alternator. It’s a full 120 watts more than the standard version’s 600 watts. Auxiliary lighting, here we come.
Although most of the disparities between the standard GS and the Adventure are primarily aimed towards convenience and comfort, greater are the changes from the original Adventure model variation found on the R 1150 GS. In 2004, as most everyone should know by now, the base GS increased from an 1150 to a 1200, but the Adventure version did not change until 2006.
Starting with the heart of the beast, BMW claims a 15 percent increase in horsepower over the previous Adventure, giving the updated model 100 hp at 7,000 rpm. Torque peaks at a claimed 85 ft. lbs at 5,500 rpm. The Beemer does this by increasing the stroke to 73mm while the bore remains at 101mm, which ultimately increases displacement to 1,170 cc, up from 1,150 cc. The compression ratio increases from 10.3:1 to 11.0:1.
Neither of these two wheeled vehicles are the R 1200 GS Adventure. But MO would do a review on them any way.
The “biggest news surrounding the R 1200 GS’s new engine”, according to BMW press material, is the gear-driven counter balancer. They claim this is the first time such technology has ever been used in one of their opposed-twin engines, all done in the name of smoothness. Additional revamps to the old 1150 mill include a two-spark-plug-per-cylinder set-up, a new engine management system, a new EVO-Paralever and Telelever suspension system, and a six-speed transmission. The end result is a GS Adventure model that is more powerful than the previous Adventure and 27 pounds lighter.
To discover just how pleasurable it can be to have all the luxuries found on this decked-out GS, BMW saw fit to map out an exceptional 200 plus-mile ride that began on a wide, well-maintained gravel road that allowed us to acclimate to the varied terrain we would encounter later. After realizing that speeds usually attempted on paved surfaces could be attained just as easily in the dirt, we would find ourselves droning comfortably as freeway mile after freeway mile clicked off as our first paved section presented itself. Then it was back to more loose gravel roads that seemed to stretch endlessly into the horizon; that is if you could see the horizon through the nearly impenetrable dust cloud that the other riders generated..
The 2006 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure. Definitely not junk.
The day’s ride continued to alternate between pavement and no pavement; at one point we were able to test the GS’s handling manners when a twisting ribbon of black greeted us after a long stretch of dirt and grime. In my opinion, the GS is better-behaved at speed while carving paved twists and turns of varying degrees of radius, than many street-only bikes I’ve ridden. Frame flex was minimal and despite the fact that this bike has substantial suspension travel, it never caused the bike to wallow while cornering at high speeds. Trail braking also failed to completely upset the chassis to the point where full deceleration seemed the only option. At least two other journalists agreed with me that harassing street bikes in the canyons while mounted on the GS would be child’s play, especially with the smooth-tread street tire that’s available. One journo even mocked that it could easily be done while riding two-up.
A special lunch stop awaited those of us who opted to take the plunge, so to speak. After continuing on yet another dirty road, the surrounding views became mysteriously familiar.
Even though I had never spent anytime in Arizona, I soon realized that we were in fact riding into the Grand Canyon, something that rarely happens, according to many Canyon veterans with us that day. Not only were we beginning to see the magnificent water-carved canyon walls that so many have only seen on television or post cards, we were about to ride to the edge of the Colorado river for our lunch stop. The remaining mile and a half or so of road continued to degenerate into a wash rather than something resembling a roadway. For those of us who chose to solider on, we were now committed to picking our way through a stream that had long since reclaimed the land. With medium to large algae-covered rocks and several inches of water as the route to the river’s edge, I somehow found time to day dream about how I could do this type of riding all over the World while I scanned the surfaces ahead for a dry and level patch of land as a momentary reprieve, ensuring to never lose my momentum lest I tip over.
The GS makes quick work of this kind of terrain.
In what was probably far less time than what I perceived it to be, we arrived one by one to the lunch stop for a much-needed rest and time to contemplate what we had all just accomplished. With the bikes partially refueled (as well as our bellies) we mounted up and headed out from the river to get back on schedule. This of course meant that it was one way in and one way out. “Gee, do we have to ride through that same challenging terrain again? Really? What a shame.”
The final leg of our journey was nothing less than an hour’s worth of all dirt roads. Often times the road was what could only be described as a gravel highway. But as we approached our destination, that same road quickly became more narrow, more contorted, more unforgiving in its surface and generally more dangerous. More dangerous due mostly to speeds that I would have thought I would only have seen unless I participated in the Baja 1000 that was taking place in my head. The less-than-sane speeds that I exploited on the dirt roads throughout the ride had the bike drifting and sliding around corners, and even on the straight and narrow. But thanks to the low center of mass and increased suspension travel, I was always in control, even when out of control, if that makes sense.
Indeed, the scenes actually playing out before me with the riders ahead whipping up massive tails and clouds of thick dust as we rode into the sunset over the flat horizon, gave me visions of my own Dust to Glory story. To draw you back into reality for just a moment, the qualities and characteristics of the GS Adventure remain largely the same as the R 1200 GS which we covered more in-depth in last year’s adventure touring shootout and the individual test of the bike. What I can say about the bike–that the day’s ride allowed me to further discover–was the way that it made such riding so relatively easy, even though I could write the sum total of my off-road experience on the back of a postage stamp with room to spare. This was true of a number of other attendees and yet we all had the same experience; we were all able to complete each portion of the ride successfully and with confidence. At risk of sounding like a braggart, I ultimately found myself in the “advanced” riding group near day’s end. Not a testament to my abilities or skills, but to the Adventure’s accessibility to anyone willing to ride it. BMW had also invited guests with immeasurably more off-road riding talents than myself, and they agreed that one of the traits of the GS is its ability to make adventure riding seem easier than it is. My ego swelled later in the evening as a well-respected editor said to me, “Man, you were really flying at the end.”
Although there always seemed to be a thin line between traction and no traction, high speeds on loose gravel roads are any thing but unnerving with the GS.
A good part of this can be attributed to the superb Paralever and Telelever suspension, the rather wise use of a 17 inch rear and 19 inch front wheel combination (another journalist noted that, a different bike with a more traditional dirt bike-sized tire up front wouldn’t have allowed for such successful riding by the less-experienced among us), the smooth fuel injection, powerful but sensitive brakes, light clutch action combined with a trouble-free transmission and a well-balanced package. I give credit to the ease with which the bike can be manipulated, to the low center of gravity inherent in the boxer configuration.
Ultimately, no machine is perfect, and a few minor, items need to be noted. Of most concern to most people is the tall saddle height due to the long suspension travel. Standing 5’8″, I was able to overcome the challenge but many that day weren’t so lucky. More than one bike was tipped over in a parking lot dismount or slow-speed maneuver through rough terrain. The saddle was a touch on the firm side, especially for longer freeway jaunts. But that’s where the over-sized footrests come in handy. Where a little additional riding leverage is needed or just a change of position, simply standing up on the pegs can be a welcome change. Others complained, that when adjusted to its highest position, the large windscreen was distracting to look through, making them wish they were looking over it instead. Short of those few remarks, my admittedly limited dirt riding expertise makes it difficult to dissect any nuances to the point that they would be a useful consideration.
This is where it all ended.
The R 1200 GS, like all Beemers, is prepped to receive a large variety of accessories offered by BMW. With a base price of $16,600.00, there’s plenty of room to grow that figure rather quickly considering the list of options available, many of which are the same on BMW motorcycles. Before you bolt all those accessories on, BMW says the GS Adventure will weigh 492 lbs dry and 564 lbs wet.
Finally, to return to my regaling of the ride, what lay at the end of that glorious red road was the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Never having been to the Canyon, I couldn’t think of a better way to end such an incredible ride on a bike so well-suited to just such an adventure.
If you go…
Ladies and Gentlemen, Big Bertha! Just to the right of Bertha is the giant copper winding that she would spin to help power the town of Jerome. I wish I had found that thing years ago when my old Sabre wouldn’t charge the battery anymore.
If you find yourself on any kind of adventure in or around Sedona–two-wheeled or otherwise–be sure to go a little bit out of your way and stop by Jerome, Arizona. Located high atop a hill, between Prescott and Flagstaff, Jerome was once a copper mining town with the reputation as the “wickedest town in the west.” Today Jerome is a haven for eclectic artist types and tourism is its mainstay. But don’t just go there to buy “Indian” jewelry. You absolutely must visit the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. With “Don” as your guide, you’ll find yourself in awe of the innumerable collections of rusty old tools, parts to anything and dilapidated trucks and cars, some of which still run. Although quite lucid, Don looks the part of a desperate old prospector.
Hanging on the railing, to Don’s left, is an example of the piston ring that operates inside Big Bertha. The ring is actual size.
To my mind, the most worthwhile attraction is “Big Bertha.” Once the primary source of power for the mining town, Big Bertha is a three-cylinder generator. She’s now partly disassembled since she doesn’t need to provide anything other than laughs. For the sum of $10.00, Don will fire-up the old, stationary tractor that is used to, well, start the starter on the generator. Once rolling, Big Bertha sucks in a huge volume of air with such ferocity that you can hear it “breathe.” As an added surprise Don will fiddle with the compression release, causing Big Bertha to backfire with enough force to send anyone who hasn’t heard her, run for cover. If you’re a true gear head or just someone who likes the old and weird, be sure to visit Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. It’s well worth the time spent. http://www.goldkingmine.net/
** Specifications Courtesy of BMW **
R 1200 GS Adventure – MSRP: $16,600
Air-cooled/oil-cooled Boxer twin-cylinder
Bore X Stroke
101.0 mm x 73.0 mm
100 bhp @ 7000 rpm
85 lb/ft @ 5500 rpm
Chain-driven, high cam, OHV, w/adj. rocker arms
No of cylinders
BMW Engine Controller – BMS K
Valves per Cylinder
2 x 36 mm intake / 2 x 31 mm exhaust
HDPE, internal pump and internal filter
720 Watts @ 14 Volts
12 Volts / 14 Amps/hour
The two cylinder flat twin Boxer engine is BMW’s famous, time-tested, signature design. First designed in 1923, its two horizontally mounted cylinders are like a boxer’s gloves punching each other as he enters the ring. The result is a supremely reliable, flexible engine with a low center of gravity and like all twins, excellent torque characteristics. The exposed cylinders offer excellent air cooling and if it’s durability, performance, and bulletproof all-around handling you want, this is your powerplant.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo continued his strong pace at Silverstone today, qualifying second for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix. Teammate Valentino Rossi also gave a solid performance during the tense 15-minute session and took fourth. Jorge Lorenzo continued his impressive pace from the third free practice in the afternoon and rode his Yamaha YZR-M1 to […]... Click Here for Article
Team Suzuki Press Office – August 29. Qualifying day at the Silverstone MotoGP ended with both Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders settled at the head of the fourth and fifth-rows for tomorrow’s British GP. Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales struggled to find a good feeling with their GSX-RRs, although they made solid progress compared to yesterday; […]... Click Here for Article
Ducati Team riders, Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso, qualified in ninth and twelfth place for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, and will line up on rows 3 and 4 respectively for Sunday’s twelfth round of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship at the fast Northamptonshire circuit. In the morning’s FP3 session, Dovizioso put in a […]... Click Here for Article
Grammy Award winners Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have released a brand new track with motorcycle-themed lyrics and video called “Downtown.” The musical duo, best known for chart-topping songs “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” are joined by hip hop legends Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz and Foxy Shazam lead singer Eric Nally on the new track.
The song starts with Macklemore getting a simple moped and then just downright owning the streets. Before long, he’s riding a moose-headed cruiser before meeting up with a parade of two-wheelers centered around Nally riding a chariot of Royal Enfields, channeling Freddie Mercury while singing:
She has her arms around your waist
With a balance that could keep us safe
Have you ever felt the warm embrace
Of the leather seat between your legs
BRADL TAKES A SPOT ON THE FIFTH ROW WITH THE BEST APRILIA QUALIFYING OF THE SEASON. SEVENTH ROW FOR ALVARO BAUTISTA Silverstone (UK), 29 August 2015 – The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini had good qualifying sessions at Silverstone on the decisive day that defines the starting grid for the race tomorrow. With the 14th best […]... Click Here for Article
Here at MO, we like to shake things up every now and then with our motorcycle reviews. You know – think outside the box, not get complacent, keep things fresh, etc. It inspires our creative juices, plus it just makes for a fun motorcycle ride. On occasion, the usual method for a single-bike evaluation can be a bit predictable. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a nice romp in the hills on a fast motorcycle, but we’re often asking ourselves, “What can we do that’s different?” This time, I think we have an answer.
It was just over a month ago that Editor-in-Chief Duke brought us a review of the Victory Empulse TT, the new and improved version of the former Brammo Empulse R electric motorcycle with a six-speed transmission. Polaris’ purchase of Brammo’s motorcycle assets is a strategic move that helps redefine Victory’s corporate direction, while giving Victory an entry into the e-bike market. It also means Victory has beat Harley’s Project LiveWire to the production e-bike scene. A refreshed version of the former Brammo Empulse R, Victory has added updates in the form of a higher capacity battery (10.4 kWh nominal), revised rubber cush-drive setup, and a switch from the 180-series rear tire in favor of a 160. A controversial move, but one Duke says results in a more agile motorcycle.
Ride to eat, eat to ride.
He should know, as he rode the Empulse TT at High Plains Raceway, outside of Denver, Colorado. While there he also noted the bike’s fluid handling thanks to the narrower-profile tire, its splendid Brembo stopping power, impressive Marzocchi/Sachs suspension and a well of power that didn’t leave him bored. However, as fun as racetrack testing can be, it’s not a very good representation of real-world riding.
So, when Victory offered us an Empulse TT to test at home, our interest piqued. The catch, though, was that we would only have the bike for a few days. Sure, we could have done the usual and taken it to the local hills and had ourselves a good time, but after living with a Zero SR, we wanted a small taste of what it would be like to live with the Victory Empulse TT. We didn’t have two months with the Victory like we did with the Zero but, instead, had only two days. The plan, then, was to dyno and weigh the bike on the first day – nearly 100 miles roundtrip. Day 2, however, would be the kicker.
Our real-world test of Victory’s new player in the electric motorcycle market encompassed city streets and freeways.
Playing off the stereotype of your typical EV owner being a tree-hugging vegetarian, we decided to run a laundry list of errands aboard our Victory all through Los Angeles. Except, instead of errands in our case, we decided to look for the best veggie burritos in all of LA. This was great news for me, since I love burritos, but agonizing, as well, since my tastes are more carnivorous. Our route would start and finish from my home and encompass five different veggie burrito joints recommended to us by word of mouth and/or Google. In total, we covered 83 miles of real-world riding in one charge.
The trip to the MotoGP Werks dyno proved very informative, as it’s a 92-mile round trip from my house, according to Google Maps, with about 95% of it on the freeway. Getting there took exactly 50% of battery life, but there was a catch – I rode in ECO mode, cruised in sixth gear, and kept speeds to a maximum of 65 mph the entire trip. The bike’s onboard range meter can cause anxiety as the range number drops dramatically each time you open the e-throttle. Making dyno pulls in each gear dropped the battery down to 36%, so there was no way I’d make it back home without recharging.
It’s incredibly convenient to charge anywhere there’s an electric vehicle charging station, since the Empulse TT comes standard with a J1772 charge port.
After weighing the bike (475 lbs), a quick look at the PlugShare app (Chargepoint works well also) showed the nearest charging station was conveniently located at a burger joint. Unlike with Zeros, the Empulse comes standard with a J1772 plug, meaning you can charge at one of the many charging stations around the country without a special adapter. Charging back to 63% cost me $1.73, took about an hour (which I used to eat my lunch and check emails), then I was back on the road. The original plan was to recharge to 50% battery, but it’s a good thing I didn’t, as the return route featured steady uphill grades I’d never noticed before on other bikes, using up a fair amount of electrons. As luck would have it, I rolled into my driveway with exactly 0% showing on the gauge. A full recharge from my 110-volt wall plug took roughly nine hours.
The Burrito Tour
Leonor’s Vegetarian Restaurant
The first stop on our veggie burrito tour was a tip from our own Evans Brasfield. Leonor’s Vegetarian Restaurant specializes in “Unique Vegetarian Creations” and Brasfield has been coming here for over 25 years. Getting there took 21 miles, dropping the battery down to 79% from a full charge.
For a hearty and healthy vegetarian/Mexican meal, give Leonor’s a try.
Our commute was a mixture of flowing highway mixed with relatively open side streets. Immediately, I noticed the smoother power engagement from the newrubber cush drive, as it was far less harsh than what I remember on the Brammos of yore. Cruising along, third gear was really all that was needed around town, first and second giving great acceleration, but needing a shift early on. Third strikes a nice balance. Continuing that theme, there’s plenty of power to move around slower highway traffic in sixth, which raises a point we’ve mentioned before with the Brammo: There are three or four gears too many. A high and low gear (and maybe a middle one) are all you really need, plus would reduce the weight of the transmission.
Anyway, onto the burrito. Called the Forever-Young Buffalo Bill, Leonor stuffs a whole wheat tortilla with brown rice, steamed pinto beans, avocado, soy cheese, chopped tomatoes and red onions. We went ahead and added cilantro and soy chicken. Available in small ($6) or large ($7.50) sizes (come hungry for the large one), biting into the FYBB felt… healthy. No one flavor overpowers the other (hard to do when you’re dealing with cilantro), yet you can still recognize each one. Soy chicken tastes similar to the real thing, but with a slightly softer texture. Cap it off with a refreshing flax seed ice tea.
Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Cafe
Another 20 miles southeast of Leonor’s, in the Boyle Heights region of East LA, finds us at Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Cafe. Established in 1955 by Manuel Rojas, the cafe has been serving authentic Mexican food to diners from all over the world. The third generation of the Rojas family continues to carry the torch.
The upper body is placed in a neutral riding position on the Empulse TT, but the rearsets bend the knees more than on the Zero SR we sampled recently.
Just as the next generation of Rojas is moving the restaurant forward, the Victory Empulse TT is moving transportation ahead, too. It’s an easy motorcycle to ride, though there is an adjustment period to get used to the clutch and shifter. The clutch is only needed to change gears, and even then it can be avoided with a well-timed blip from the right wrist and left toe. Another difference between the Victory and an ICE motorcycle is neutral being located between second and third gear. Despite the change, the bike will still roll when turned off, whether the bike is in gear (any gear) or not.
It was another 20 miles to get to El Tepeyac, dropping the battery to 56% charge. Open highways meant higher speeds and the charge was dropping at a steady pace. Entering and exiting freeway onramps highlights the increased agility from the 160-profile rear tire, a departure from the 180 seen on yesteryear’s Brammo. It’s more willing to turn in, does so quicker, and holds its line nicely. Handling is the main area where the Victory has an advantage over the Zero SR, the Victory feeling confidence-inspiring whereas the Zero is able but doesn’t inspire its rider to push to their limit. Like the Zero though, the Vic has no problem getting up to speed and blending in with traffic, especially in Sport mode.
Vegetarian or meat lover, El Tepeyac Cafe will make sure you don’t go home hungry.
As for the burrito, El Tepeyac delivered a huge flour tortilla stuffed with rice, beans and guacamole, topped with ranchera sauce and both cheddar and jack cheese. When I say huge, I’m not kidding. The burrito could easily feed two people. That said, the taste of rice, beans, guacamole and ranchera sauce was… average. The peppers in the sauce added a nice kick, but El Tepeyac makes up for the lack of bold flavor with sheer size. However, if you’re a meat eater, don’t overlook this place – some of the other dishes I saw the chefs cooking up looked delicious and equally as big!
When it comes to unique eats, Worldwide Tacos is hard to beat. Boasting over 150 different tacos and burritos, available with real meat or vegetarian substitutes, the menu offers items like a Grilled Lemon/Lime Steak and Shrimp, Piña Colada Shrimp, and Tequila Chili Lime Chicken, all available in either taco or burrito form. We opted to go bold and try the Vegetarian Raspberry Chicken.
Despite the weird combination of flavors in the name, the result was spectacular. The soy chicken carried a subtle hint of raspberry and barbecue sauce, the mixture of ingredients complementing each other nicely. The rice and cilantro added additional texture and flavor. Sometimes, they say simple is better, but in the case of the Vegetarian Raspberry Chicken Burrito (also available with real chicken) from Worldwide Tacos, that’s not the case.
If you’re an adventurous eater, then Worldwide Tacos will have something to satisfy your curiosity and your taste buds.
It was another 11 miles from El Tepeyac to Worldwide Tacos, the battery level down to 39%. By now the seat was starting to bother me. Its padding is sufficient nearest the faux fuel tank, but the shape of the seat holds the rider in place, making it difficult to move around. Scooting back on the seat places the butt on a hard plank, as the seat tray between the operator and passenger is very thinly padded. From there, the rearsets are placed in a more aggressive position than the Zero SR I recently sampled. For a commuter, the SR’s rider triangle is more favorable.
Tacos Villa Corona
If you’re like me, any establishment endorsed by Anthony Bourdain is a must-visit. Tacos Villa Corona is one such place. Unfortunately, we arrived much later than the 2pm closing time listed on the front door. By now we’d covered about 65 miles, the last 11 or so leading to Tacos Villa Corona involving bumper-to-bumper traffic, which hardly drained the battery. Being stuck in traffic is no fun in any vehicle, but typically on an ICE motorcycle, the heat radiating from the engine can be punishing. No such thing on the Victory (or any electric, for that matter), as hardly any detectable heat makes it to the rider. Something to keep in mind for the 49 states in the union barred from splitting lanes. One annoyance was the plastic cover over the faux fuel tank, which dug into my legs when trying to squeeze the tank.
If you have to be stuck in traffic, at least the Empulse TT won’t cook your thighs while you wait.
With six locations in the SoCal area, Señor Fish could be considered the most chain-like of the establishments we visited. Its veggie burrito is also large, with rice, beans, mushrooms, cheese, and zucchini among the flavors wrapped inside the flour tortilla. Each bite reveals a grilled flavor from each ingredient that I didn’t notice on the other burritos, but like El Tepeyac, Señor Fish relies on size.
See that “RNG” meter in the lower left? It’s best not to look at that if you’re the type that panics easily. The trip computer judging the range remaining in the battery fluctuates wildly once you twist the right grip.
No Tow Truck This Time
Victory on Victory.
Riding back to my casa after dinner, the roads were finally free from traffic, meaning the blast back could be ridden at a spirited pace. As mentioned earlier, the completed loop took 83 miles, with 5% charge remaining when I pulled into my driveway. Clearly, had the roads been light the entire trip, the Empulse wouldn’t have finished the loop. However, real-world riding involves bouts with traffic. So, like we always say regarding e-bike range, yours will greatly depend on conditions and riding style.
For the sportier e-bike fans out there, the $20k Victory is worth a look. Its chassis and handling dynamics are a cut above the $16k Zero SR, as is its fit and finish. However, rideability still favors the Zero, as its twist-n-go nature makes it supremely easy to ride compared to the Victory’s 6-speed transmission.
Which one you should pick is a personal decision. All we know is we want another Vegetarian Raspberry Chicken burrito.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo started the weekend as the fastest man in Silverstone after day one. Teammate Valentino Rossi was also on the pace during the first practice session ahead of Sunday’s British Grand Prix, but suffered from a lack of rear grip in the afternoon and finished tenth in the combined standings. Championship […]... Click Here for Article
Team Suzuki Press Office – August 28. The wide and fast Silverstone circuit has proved tricky to work out for the GSX-RR which has never been around this track before. The bumpy Tarmac has been especially hard to master, making it difficult for the riders to choose the perfect line through the corners. But Team […]... Click Here for Article
MOTOGP – FIRST DAY AT SILVERSTONE BAUTISTA AND BRADL ARE HARD AT WORK ON NEW MATERIALS FOR THEIR APRILIA RS-GP MACHINES Silverstone (UK), 28 August 2015 – On the first day of practice at Silverstone in preparation for the MotoGP race on Sunday, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl divided up the work testing the new […]... Click Here for Article
The first two free practice sessions for Sunday’s British Grand Prix at the fast Silverstone Circuit took place today in mild and sunny weather conditions. Andrea Dovizioso, after ending FP1 in fifth place, notched up exactly the same place in the second FP2 session, setting his quickest time at the end of the 45-minute run […]... Click Here for Article
It’s probably an unfair thing to think, but a lot of people blamed Rich Oliver for the AMA dropping the 250 class from the program after the 2003 season. Watching the five-time 250 champ win on his TZ250 screamer was about as dependable as the sunrise, both things similarly glorious. In that final year, RO not only won every race, he led every lap. He’d won every 250 race in 1996 and ’97, too, before taking two years off to ride Yamaha factory Superbikes and 600 Supersports in ’97 and ’98, at a time when the AMA was packed like a sardine can with world-class riders capable of winning the odd World Superbike race (one Anthony Gobert, at Laguna Seca).
“Consummate professional” is the cliche, and Rich defined it with meticulous preparation – actual engineering, even – and a rock solid work ethic. He also had no trouble being slightly unprofessional when that was called for, on at least a couple of memorable Yamaha junkets. Good times…
When Kenny Roberts didn’t want to put AMA stickers on his YZR500s for free, Rich (lined up farthest back here) wound up winning the WERA Formula USA championship in 1991. Here he blasts off with teammate Robbie Petersen (16) and Suzuki-mounted Donald Jacks. Photo: Rider Files
JB for MO: Rich, I’m going to ask you the question I’ve been asking all the Yama-champions. Can you look back and pick one day, the best day you ever had on a motorcycle?
Rich Oliver: Oh, that’s so hard, there are so many different experiences, both good and bad, that are so memorable. And every decade, you’re such a different person by the time you reach that next milestone, that next thing hits you in a different way. Probably one of the biggest moments for me was when I rode for Kenny Roberts. I think the year was ’89 or ’90, I think ’89, and Kenny said I could go to Spain and race in the Superprestigio event, on John Kocinski’s spare factory 250. So, there I am, a kid from California coming up through the AFM, super poor, working out of the back of an old Datsun 510 and a U-Haul trailer … to get to ride a world championship bike in a foreign country was a pretty big milestone for me.
It helped me so much in my future 250 racing, because I got to feel what a 250 Grand Prix bike could really do. In those days it was Michelin, and there were C, B and A-grade tires. John [Kocinski] of course got the A-grade. They started me out on Cs, and it handled well and chattered a little bit, and did things I was used to. Then I worked up to the Bs, and they were better. Finally, Kenny stormed over there and got me the A tires – and every bump on the track disappeared and there was unlimited traction, and you could really do no wrong, and I was ‘Oh. So, that’s how you do it…’
So, that was a great milestone, one of my earlier ones. And then, at the end of my career, in I think my final season with Yamaha on the 250 when I won all the races … I think the last race of the year was at Barber. Riding that final segment of, the last five or six laps, I had a big lead and I was just thinking about, well, about everything that had got me there. It was the last 250 race ever run by the AMA.
Rich and his #97 TZ250 were the most dominant things in AMA roadracing for a long time.
JB: You’d been super-dominant in that class for like ten years.
RO: So, it was kind of a bittersweet moment, but I really remember savoring the ability that bike had given me, the way I’d learned to ride it over the years. That was another big milestone.
Since then, I really haven’t raced much. I raced a few years after that at Willow Springs, doing the “outlaw” 250 races for money once a year … but when those stopped, I stopped. I’ve been doing the Mystery School ever since. So, I ride a lot still; I just don’t get to ride roadracers as much as I used to.
JB: Okay, what was your worst day?
RO: I have a few, that have grown more important in my older (sarcasm) years. One of the big crashes I had was during a World Superbike race, riding a Yamaha, I got caught up in a starting accident very similar to the unfortunate one that just took those two young riders’ lives at Laguna. We ended up in the same place in the gravel, I was knocked out, completely unconscious, woke up what felt like much later. Fortunately, I just had a severe concussion, so I consider myself quite lucky. But now, some of those heavy concussions have cost me some long-term memories. My wife will say I’m a little, ah, spacy, from time to time. Some of those things you don’t feel right away. Then later, as you age, you feel the aches and pains and the lack of skills that you might have had earlier.
JB: I’ll go on record and admit I’ve experienced a lot of the same problems, and I’ve never even had a concussion. That I can remember? So…
RO: Some of it may be simply aging. Some of my injuries, those nag me today. But I don’t feel too bad about the orthopedic stuff … the brain, that’s the stuff that you wish you could undo. I rode with Shoei for many many years, and I tell you what, that thing protected me, and it’s why I’m here today. [My injuries] are my only regrets.
JB: Have you found anything to replace racing, and winning races? I know you were doing art, and painting.
RO: Yeah, that’s a little different. There were many things I wasn’t able to experience when I was racing full-time, that I try to do more of now. I try to do some artistic things, I try to find out a little more about what’s going on in the world around me. When I was racing, I was so focussed, which is how you have to be, that’s all there was.
Now, I enjoy small business, being self-employed, being an entrepreneur – creating an environment for people to ride and improve their skills. But I tell you, nothing, ever, is going to replace that feeling of competition, because … you can watch it on TV, hear people talk about it, but in my case, it was absolutely going to battle, it was war, just brutal war, and I put everything I had out there on the track. You can’t really do that in normal society, you’ll generally wind up locked up. It was a good outlet for my aggression. Now I don’t have that. Good thing I’m older, it’s not so important anymore.
Rich’s laughter rings slightly hollow. I think he’d be back out there tomorrow given the chance. I’d watch. In the meantime, there aren’t many better ways to sharpen your skills than a day or four at the Mystery School…
You know the old saying: There are motorcyclists who have gone down, motorcyclists who are going down, and motorcyclists who are going to go down again – down to their garage only to find that their bike won’t start. Even with today’s improved batteries, if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. So, before you pull out your phone and call Uber or your buddy with a pickup truck (You have one of those, don’t you? Every rider should have a buddy with a pickup truck.), check these 10 common causes to assist you in troubleshooting your no-go woes. After all, wouldn’t you rather ride than spend the time explaining to your friend why picking you and your bike up is actually more fun than the date that had to be canceled in order to retrieve you.
Spy photographers have spotted what appears to be a café racer-styled prototype with what looks like the Single-cylinder engine and frame of the KTM 690 Duke. Now, the test rider’s KTM-branded helmet and jacket may foreshadow an orange-clad future for the finished product, but the H-branded gloves and café racer style suggest the new model will instead wear Husqvarna blue, white and yellow once the camouflage is lifted.
While a Duke-based 701 Supermoto isn’t a surprise given Husqvarna’s off-road heritage, a café racer fits into the new direction for the brand, following its acquisition by KTM. In an interview with Australian Motorcycle News, KTM CEO, Stefan Pierer says Husqvarna’s street bikes will differentiate themselves from the Austrian brand by adopting a “New Classic” theme; an old-school style without looking, well, old.
“These will all be distinctly different models badged as Husqvarnas, with a quite different concept than the equivalent KTM,” Pierer tells AMCN. “You will see a real cool-looking power cruiser, you will see modern classics combined with state of the art components which will bring back the kinds of bike you had in the early ’70 into the ’80s, but in a modern context. They won’t be retro like the others – you know, old fashioned, cheap, recycled junk.”
The Husqvarna 701 Café Racer, following the naming convention established by Husky’s 701 Supermoto concept, will be yet another new Husky model using a KTM powerplant. On the Supermoto, the 690cc Single claims 67 hp and we expect about the same here.
We’ve superimposed the side view of the prototype with an image of the 690 Duke below to highlight some of the differences.
Even accounting for the rider’s load, the prototype’s tail is lower and flatter than on the Duke, which means a new subframe. Rear suspension travel appears to be considerably reduced. The engine appears identical, but the muffler lies under the belly instead of rising up towards the tail. The Duke’s handlebar is replaced by clip-ons mounted at the same level as the upper triple clamp for a more aggressive forward reach.
The frame, engine, radiator, swingarm, wheels and front fender appear to be straight off of the Duke, but some of that may change before the 701 Café Racer is ready for production. The bike being tested here is clearly in unfinished prototype form. Check out the overly large footpeg mounts drilled to accommodate various positions as engineers hone in on the best setup.
It’s likely we’ll see this new Husky – at least in prototype form – at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy, this fall.
With seven races left, the MotoGP series visits Silverstone this weekend. Yamaha factory riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo are tied on points at the top of the championship, 52 points clear of last year’s champ Marc Marquez (Honda). Silverstone is the home race for three British MotoGP riders, including two who have recently signed […]... Click Here for Article
Yamaha Japan has confirmed a naked version of the R3, called the MT-03, is in production featuring the same 321cc parallel twin engine and chassis from the sport model. These are official pictures from Yamaha. You can look at the specifications for the R3, and simply substitute more upright ergonomics (taller handlebar, for instance) and […]... Click Here for Article
Sportsters have always been the rawest, most bare-knuckled of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle models, delivering an ultra-minimalist rendition of the famous marque. Every one, save the 1200 Custom with its dual saddle and the Superlow 1200T (dual saddle, saddlebags, and windshield), are essentially an Evolution engine, a basic, often abbreviated chassis, and a solo saddle. Call it back-to-basics motorcycling that’s been a force for pulling both newbies and experienced riders into the H-D fold.
Within the Sportster line, however, Harley launched the Dark Custom line in 2008 as not only motorcycles, but also a lifestyle, complete with its own clothing line, aimed at attracting young adults in the 18–34 age bracket to motorcycling. As Marketing Manager Jen Hoyer put it in the press briefing, “The Dark Custom, for us, it’s not just about the motorcycle. It’s about growing the sport of motorcycling.” For 2016, the Dark Custom Sportster models, the Iron 883 and the Forty-Eight, receive styling makeovers in addition to the upgrades made across the Sportster line – most notably new forks and shocks.
You can consider the Iron 883 to be Harley’s factory bobber. It has all the qualifications, carrying nothing more than a motorcycle needs to operate. Although bobbers began as garage-customized motorcycle that had all the excess components removed, the Iron 883, despite being a production motorcycle, carries on that naked industrial esthetic as seen through a gritty urban filter. However, just because the Iron is an elemental motorcycle, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t get some premium touches. For example, the new 9-spoke cast aluminum wheels (19 in. front and 16 in. rear) feature machined highlights to their black finish. In fact, the places where the Iron eschews a black coating are few and, consequently, stand out – particularly on the pushrod tunnels and cylinder heads.
The air-cooled, 883cc Evolution V-Twin remains unchanged from previous years, but the look has changed, thanks to the new, blacked out exhaust system and round air filter that exposes more of the rubber mounted engine. The 76.2mm x 96.8mm cylinders and the Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) should still put out about the same 49 hp and 50 lb-ft of our previous test units. In my short time with the 2016 883, the engine felt completely familiar.
With the exception of the round air cleaner and the satin black exhaust system, the Iron 883’s engine remains the same.
The most notable upgrade to the Iron 883 – and to the entire Sportster line – was immediately apparent when the ride started. The new, cartridge dampers inside the identically-sized 39mm stanchions combine with the new emulsion coil-over shocks to deliver a much better ride. The fork utilizes triple-rate progressive springs plus piston and valve stacks for more consistent absorption of road irregularities over the length of its travel and, according to Harley, resists wheel hop during heavy braking.
Even at first glance, the shocks, with their beefy, screw-type preload adjusters, look much more formidable than in previous years. Industrial Designer, Ben McGinley, made the understatement of the century when he noted, “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the years that people want better suspension from Harley-Davidson.” The changes weren’t just to the exterior of the shocks, either. Utilizing emulsion technology, the nitrogen-charged shocks resist oil foaming, giving the 36mm piston a consistent viscosity to stroke through. Although the shocks are a completely new design, they retained the same length and are just making more efficient use of the rear wheel’s 1.6 in. of travel.
The Iron 883’s new seat is more comfortable and provides a storage space for the shock preload adjuster spanner.
Our quick evening ride took place in and around Portland, OR. The urban portion of the ride featured plenty of railroad/trolley tracks, pavement repairs, and potholes to give an immediate assessment of the new suspenders’ street creds. While it is still possible to bottom the shocks on large holes, on more average-sized bumps, the ride is much more controlled and capable of limiting the harshness of jolts that do make their way through the suspension. Although the ride is much more balanced front and rear, I still wish the engineers had decided to increase the rear wheel travel (and hence the ride height) for both improved suspension function and reasons I’ll get to in a moment.
The new cast wheels are not only good looking, but also they’re lighter – to the tune of 8 lbs in total. This translates into slightly quicker steering from the 19-in. front wheel. Having less rotating mass should also result in quicker acceleration, but I was unable to tell any difference.
The front disc grew 4mm to 300mm and became a floating unit, there was no perceptible difference in braking power.
Sitting in the newly-sculpted seat reveals how Harley can make shapely designs that are comfortable. Also, the new seat cleverly stows the shock adjusting tool. While the riding position is still knees-high, the drag-style handlebar puts the rider in a slightly aggressive, sporty position. Unfortunately, the same old ground clearance problems prevent the rider from exploiting that position and the new suspension performance. As we stated before, the muffler drags early and often on the right side, and until this ride, I’ve said that the left side of the Iron 883 is more forgiving.
More comfortable seat
Limited cornering clearance
Unchanged lower body riding position
I crashed it
The reality is that the left peg initially drags very benignly – until it can’t any more. You see, once the peg is scraping, there are only a couple degrees more lean angle available before the engine case touches down. Once that happens, you’re subject to the whims of pavement undulation, as I found while riding second in a line of about a dozen riders. One moment, I’m dragging the peg at the exit of a corner, looking down the straight in front of me; the next, I’m sliding on my butt in the middle of my lane, watching the 883 spin on its left side away from me. After years of grinding cruiser pegs and floorboards with abandon, I finally touched down hard enough to lever the rear wheel off the ground. Never have I felt the need for a couple more degrees of lean angle so profoundly. So, potential Iron 883 owners, you have been warned.
Still, the improved suspension along with the quicker steering provided by the lighter wheels, makes the 2016 Iron 883 a good upgrade for an already popular motorcycle. Still, I wish that ABS was standard, instead of a $795 option. The solid color choices are Black Denim and Charcoal Denim for an $8,849 MSRP while the custom color option is Hard Candy Gold Flake at $9,299.
Since the Forty-Eight had basically gone without a refresh since 2010 and the entire Sportster family was getting a new suspension, the time was right for the 1200-powered Sporty to get a little extra love. The biggest functional change is a new rear suspension, as with the 883, but it is paired with a new 49mm fork (a 10mm increase in diameter!) along with the new cartridge fork internals. Although the rake remains at 30°, the trail lengthens to 5.3 in. (from 4.2 in.) as a result of a new triple clamp, a change made to improve low-speed handling. A new, lighter fork brace was added to the front end, too.
The 49mm fork stanchions add to the muscular look of the Forty-Eight – as do the new wheels. Don’t bother using those mirrors unless you want to see what the underside of your elbows look like.
Another big change for the Forty-Eight is the switch from last year’s laced hoops to split 9-spoke, cast aluminum wheels, which are colored black with machined highlights, like the Iron 883. This change allows for running tubeless tires for some rotational mass savings and, presumably, quicker steering.
Other stylistic changes were made for 2016. As with the Iron 883, a round air cleaner reveals more of the mostly blacked out engine. In an interesting touch, the cylinder heads and exhaust pipes are not black. While the mufflers are black, they also mostly covered by slotted chrome heat shields with the slots echoing those in the belt cover and the horizontal graphics on the tank. In fact, the only color on the Forty-Eight other than black is the tank paint. Both fenders share the rest of the bike’s blacked-out look. In a visual as well as functional change, the seat was reshaped for better “rider retention” while the foam and pan were redone, meaning that the back has more of a curve to keep you from sliding off under acceleration.
My experience riding the Forty-Eight mimics that of riding the 883 – with a major exception. I didn’t crash it. So, the new suspenders are effective, and the beefier fork tubes resist flex under hard braking. Steering response at speed is unchanged, but the parking lot maneuverability feels a bit improved. Otherwise, the acceleration and braking performance are standard Sportster 1200 fare.
The Sportster line’s new shocks both look and perform much better. Too bad they weren’t made a little longer to increase ride height and expand cornering clearance.
The 2016 Harley-Davidson Sportster Forty-Eight has three pricing tiers. Vivid Black retails for $11,199, while adding Billet Silver, Velocity Red Sunglo, or Olive Gold to the tank bumps the MSRP to $11,549. The Hard Candy Customs colors peak with a $11,649 pricetag for Hard Candy Cancun Blue Flake and Hard Candy Gold Flake.
Beefier fork tubes
Limited cornering clearance
Time for a power upgrade
ABS is an extra cost option
Look for the new Sportster Dark Custom models later this year when the 2016s arrive in showrooms.
The 2016 Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight.
Harley-Davidson Dark Customs Score Card
Engine: Power, tractability, response, user friendliness (score out of 20)
Suspension/Handling: (score out of 15)
Transmission/Clutch: (score out of 10)
Brakes: (score out of 10)
Ergonomics/Comfort: (score out of 10)
Instruments/Controls: (score out of 5)
Appearance/Quality: (score out of 10)
Desirability: (score out of 10)
Value: (score out of 10)
Harley-Davidson Dark Customs Spec Sheet
$8,849, $9,299 (optional paint)
$11,199, $11,549, $11,649
883 cc, 90° air-cooled, Evolution V-Twin
1202cc, 90° air-cooled, Evolution V-Twin
Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; two valves per cylinder
Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; two valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke
76.2mm x 96.8mm
88.9mm x 96.8mm
Telescopic fork, 4.7-in travel
49mm telescopic, 3.6 in. travel
Dual shocks, 2.8-in travel
Dual coil-over; preload dual-adjustable; 1.6 in. travel
300 mm floating stainless steel disc, 2-piston caliper
300 mm floating stainless steel disc, 2-piston caliper
The more stuff you know how to fix, the more things fall apart. Before I started keeping not one but two flat tire repair kits on hand and a shiny new air compressor, I never got flats. Now I seem to pick up about one nail per vehicle per week. I took the old Ranger truck in to have a tire patched the other day when I couldn’t make a plug work. The next morning, the same tire was flat again. Oh, said the dude at Pep Boys upon my return, after a little investigating – there were two nails in there. Sorry.
You couldn’t just have a two-speed fan over your stove and a toggle switch, oh no… you need a six-speed pair of fans and an array of lights controlled by this Chinese thing, which went south about a decade after manufacture.
Another very cool part of the digital revolution and Google and YouTube is the ability to repair all kinds of weird things around the house you formerly needed to call in a professional to fix. I’ve now fixed two (2!) refrigerator ice makers by replacing the solenoid valves on back that let the water in, along with two in-door water dispensers that suddenly became incontinent. (The latest fridge retaliated by refusing to keep things cold; an expert had to be called in to replace the compressor). Vacuum cleaner belts are like qualifying tires around here. Clothes dryer and BBQ grill igniters give up their spark too soon, computerized hood fans above the stove refuse to spin. I can break down and clean my lawnmower carburetor in the dark while returning enemy fire. The XR400 still won’t start.
To fill the time we get from increased productivity, we engineer more complicated products to keep us busy. I remember thinking what a great thing it was when the plastic ice cube tray replaced the old aluminum ones.
My ’97 Jaguar XJ6 is by far the nicest $5000 car I’ve ever owned despite the slow leak in its right rear tire – $5k pretty much being the upper limit for any vehicle I’ve ever bought since I started driving, regardless of the consumer price index. (I’ve got a great tagline in case you know any Jag marketing people: Nothing depreciates like a Jaguar!)
I didn’t really need or want a six-way adjustable power seat with memory, but that’s how they’re able to charge $55K for a car, I suppose. When the thing stopped working a couple months ago, I was glad it at least froze where it fits me. I remember a friend’s old 7 Series BMW a few years ago; when its passenger seat started losing its mind, it tried to swallow me like a giant clam as we were rolling down the 405. German engineering tends to err on the aggressive side.
My 6-foot tall kid could barely squeeze into the Jaguar though, and he complained enough that it made it difficult to wait the traditional grace period for the thing to fix itself. (Just think how much Jaguar could charge for a car that has manual back-up seat adjusters!) The wiring diagram for this automobile might as well be for an Airbus 380 far as I can tell, but it was the good old Jaguarforums to the rescue once again: To see if it’s the controller that’s at fault or not, swap in the one from the passenger seat. Why didn’t I think of that? Well I did, but the forum had pictures showing where the thing was located and how to remove it. In the video age, I need things spelled out. And photos.
Yup, there’s your problem. The only replacement I could find is a year older than this one. Unless I wanted to pay $250 for a new old one…
Anyway, what worries me is, what happens to all our stuff when the number of replacement parts exceeds the capacity of the world’s storehouses to contain them? People loved to restore Hondas for years because you could still get parts for any one ever made. I don’t know if that’s still the case, but my Jaguar’s only 18 years old and the power seat control module is already out of production. Judging from the number of people on forums who’ve replaced them (a lot), I won’t be surprised when my new used one (which is older than my old dead one) gives up the ghost. What then? Will you just have to junk the whole automobile at that point, or will the hundred other electrical subsystems also gone haywire by then have caused you to junk it years ago? Should I buy back-up modules now, guaranteeing the crankshaft will snap next week?
The one business I found online that claimed to be able to repair the seat’s black box never returned my email. How would all the TV shows that find and restore old cars even get off the ground if Wayne Carini couldn’t even adjust the driver’s seat enough to be able to climb in and roll the thing onto the flatbed? Will electronic black boxes of the future found in desert junk yards plug into ancient wiring harnesses and work after a little beadblasting and powdercoating? Can you powdercoat plastic?
Then again, when Earth is called Bezosville® 20 years from now, it might be super-easy to get one-hour delivery on a controller for the Aprilia Dynamic Damping unit on your ’15 Caponord Rally. Maybe there’ll be an aerosol spray that restores dead black boxes instantly?
I know you know where I’m going with all this: I dig all the electronics on the new motorcycles, especially Traction Control(!) and ABS, but I can’t help worry who’s going to keep all this stuff in stock as it changes from year to year, when it goes the way of all electrons. Which it will, as everything electronic sealed in a black plastic box eventually, inevitably does. Jaguar is not a big seller of cars, but I’m going to bet they sold more XJ6s than Ducati will sell Multistrada S’s. I am worried that little Billy might someday master the fork seal driver and the eternal mysteries of the cartridge fork, only to have it all come to naught when he can’t find the right Skyhook control module for his 2014 Multistrada 20 years from now. Will there be a work-around? Will a cottage industry spring up to repair or manufacture new modules?
For now, I am thankful I don’t know how to weld: You know important structural things would start cracking all around me if I did. Sometimes I can relate to the old Bob Seger lyric: Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.
Any old business? Only this. A column or two ago, I went off a little about how widely divergent different people’s opinions of the same motorcycle can be, specifically after the Yamaha R1M won both big U.S. print magazines’ superbike comparos. We MOrons tested the non-M R1, minus the electronic suspension and some other things, and ranked it mid-pack overall in our six-superbike shootout. Anyway, it got me curious, and I checked with our Yamaha PR person as to how many R1Ms will be imported to the USA? The official word is “less than 500 for the U.S. market,” which are already sold out.
One big magazine named the base R1 its “Motorcycle of the Year,” while the other picked the R1M as one of its Ten Best. Well, they’re great motorcycles, and congratulations to Yamaha and to the fewer than 500 Americans who snagged one of the $21,990 “M”s. But I think we’re all proud of our Motorcycle of the Year pick here at MO, where we’ve been attempting to keep it somewhat real since 1994: The Indian Scout. Rock on.