Remember the previous generation Moto Guzzi California? The Italian take on an all-American genre of motorcycling didn’t quite lure the typical cruiser set away from Harley-Davidson, Victory or even Japanese cruisers in the way the company had hoped. But that didn’t stop Guzzi from trying (and doing a much better job with the current iteration of the California). In this week’s Church feature, we go back to 2003 and Jason Roberts review of the Moto Guzzi California Titanium. Long story short: he wasn’t a big fan. However, that didn’t stop him from noticing its appeal. Read Jason’s thoughts below, and be sure to visit the photo gallery for more hi-res pics.
2003 Moto Guzzi Titanium
By Jason RobertsMay. 23, 2003
The Moto Guzzi California Titanium is the latest version of the venerable Eye-talian company’s attempt to wrest a few cruiser-dudes away from the usual American or Metric brands.
This year’s Titanium edition – they also have Aluminum and Stone models with less frills and an EV touring model with obligatory bags and larger fairing (will they be offering a Platinum? frickin’ Uranium?) – is update of the base California, which has been with us in various forms since the 80s. It’s basically a cosmetic package over the base Stone bike, with sleek grey, err, titanium paint, brushed-aluminum bars and risers, the Guzzi linked brake system, and a small matching fairing capping the front end.
Why, you ask, should anyone buy a cruiser from the country of Ducatis? Well, as they say, if you have to ask, go buy a Harley.
It’s different, dammit…a good thing in the vast, bland chrome-and-billet world of McCruiserdom. Still has a charismatic Vtwin as a cruiser should, but one that’s mounted across the frame rather than lengthwise like all the others. Differente è buono!
(Whoa…that’s it for my Italian language interjections. Why, I wonder, do all the motojournos in the print rags insist on peppering every Italian bike story with little bits of Italian, like anchovies on a pizza? Why don’t they pop in some pithy, descriptive Japanese phrases in stories on bikes from Japan? Oh, you say, not many westerners speak Japanese? So what! Obviously not many motojournos speak Italian, either. OK, end of rant….)
Like Harley’s mill, the Guzzi Vtwin has been updated very little in its 30-plus year existence (not counting the discontinued Daytona four-valve variation). Thus, the Titanium feels and sounds just like my buddy’s restored `74 Eldorado. Hit the starter button and the strangely automotive-sounding motor clicks and whirrs, quickly firing up the injected engine. Loooong-legged she is, with super tall gearing and that lopey torquemonster 1064cc Vtwin. That characteristic sideways shake and lopey feel, like each piston powerstroke propels the bike 25 feet forward, is still part of the Guzzi experience. And that’s cool with me, as it will be with those who spring for the Titanium, or any Guzzi for that matter.
What’s not so cool is the clunky tranny and long-throw shift lever, which seems to find more neutrals than cogs without a slow, deliberate foot. I found the key to positive gear selection was a firm stomp on the rear arm or `heel’ section of the shifter (another similarity to the old Eldorado); not exactly the fastest way to upshift, though.
While we’re on a bitchy, nitpicky roll, let’s discuss the Guzzi’s other flaws. The mirrors, while giving a decent rear view, vibrate into blurriness at just about any speed. The idiot lights are exactly that; in daylight they’re almost invisible, set deeply as they are in the nicely-finished dash plate. (Guzzi doesn’t have a monopoly on crummy lights however; I notice that the BMW Rockster and Ducati Monster also mount similar smoked lenses over their lights, which might look cool but renders them effectively unreadable in sunlight). The forward-mounted kickstand seems like it’s a yard long, and requires a hefty shove to deploy.
And the riding position…aarrrgghh! I know cruisers are never the most comfortable bikes, good for about 45 minutes of boulevard-trolling whilst their riders check themselves out in shop windows, but the Titanium does nothing to improve that sad state. The high-ish, flat bars are comfortable enough but combined with the low, dished-out saddle and strong pull from the engine make for a hellaciously painful lower back and arms after less than an hour, especially at freeway speeds where the stance pits you against the wind in a losing battle.
The Guzzi’s linked Brembo Gold Series brakes, however, are sportbike-strong and give nice feedback. The link system, a Guzzi thang for years, is fine for novices but since I depend on the front brake by habit it’s a bit strange feeling, especially when coming to a halt as the front lever engages only one caliper and doesn’t really bite til you apply the rear pedal. I wish buyers could opt out of this system….
Wish I could get a lighter clutch too. While not the Popeye-forearm-builder of some other Italian steeds, the Guzzi is definitely on the firm side, although the feel is good and it doesn’t grab like the ol’ Eldorado, working as it does with just a single-plate, automotive style system.
Quibbles aside, the Guzzi has real cruiser cred, with the right macho, rumbly sounds emanating from the splayed, twin exhaust pipes, and lots of blacked-out and deep-chrome bits to highlight its beautiful chunky Vtwin lump. The aim is a look of quality, which the Guzzi achieves handily. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the little bikini fairing surrounding the headlight, but it does keep a bit of wind off your chest. Not enough to make the riding stance any more bearable, however.
Other extras found on the Titanium California include a 12v accessory plug and no-maintenance hydraulic valve lifters, a good idea on any pushrod engine. Guzzi is offering a full line of bolt-on accessories for its cruisers, including soft and hard luggage, removable windshields, crash bars, and other goodies. Check `em all out at www.motoguzzi-us.com.
Since the cruiser mentality is ostensibly about being `different’ and even `rebellious,’ Moto Guzzi is counting on a few folks actually walking the walk, breaking from the herd and stepping out on its new Titanium. And good on `em, too. Viva Italia! (just had to say that…).
The asphalt and tar strips are baking. When they throw the red flag on the first lap, you can guess what happened. Somebody screwed up and made a bloody mess out of things and you have to trundle back to the hot pit. If it was a three-wave start, it’s chaos – you are baking in your leathers, and now you have to start thinking. A rational human being would be thinking about what poor soul just augured in somewhere and brought out this red flag in the first place. But you’re not remotely rational, you’re a racer.
You are thinking about how long are we going to be sitting in this hot pit and if they will shut us down, and how in the hell am I going bumpstart this thing and will it start, and sweet Jesus it is hot out here. You are only thinking about getting back into the race. I wish I could paint a pretty face on that, but I can’t because that is truth. And mayhem is happening in the pits. And then in the midst of this madness here comes a guy, national number 49, the starter, and he’s pointing at you and yelling. He’s Al Wilcox.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Number 49, heh, yeah. I have a wife. I know, almost impossible to believe. I met her in a philosophies and religions of Asia class. We were supposed to team up to do a presentation on the I Ching, one of the four Chinese classics. She didn’t eat meat, shave her legs, had never fired a firearm or thought much of the military at the time, so we were just a perfect match for each other. Opposites attract I guess. Anyway, I suggested for our presentation we actually cast yarrow stalks. The I Ching has been used as an oracle by some for 3,500 years. So we went and gathered some yarrow stalks from behind my luxurious single-wide trailer.
A young expert 49 who was lucky enough to learn from a true veteran the right way to do it, racing and life.
She asked me what question do we want to ask? I suggested we ask about the prospects of racing, so we did. We threw the stalks; we got number 49, Fire in the Lake, Revolution, treading on the tail of the tiger. As luck would have it I was getting my expert plate that next year, I really didn’t have much of a say in what that number would be. It turned out to be number 49. It still is and has been for four decades. Funny how things work out.
So there I am boiling on pit lane in Pocono trying to figure out what is going on, engine still running, and Al, our starter, is running up pit lane waving a red flag and yelling at the top of his lungs when he points at me, a newly minted expert. I can’t hear him with all the noise of the bikes running and all the commotion. I had the visor flipped open and I’m yelling back, “What Al? What?” And he’s now running at me and still pointing.
I thought, “Oh God, did I cause this incident? Was I dumping oil or something?” I start looking around the bike quickly from my seat. Al finally gets up in my face all smiles, during all this chaos, and yells at me, “YOU’RE 49 EXPERT, I WAS NATIONAL NUMBER 49!”
Hah! What could I say? “Yeah, Al! I know!” In the midst of all of that he picked that number plate out of the mess, ambulances rolling, bikes everywhere, and still he is keeping his head about him and in good cheer and takes a second to scare me half to death and comment on a number plate. His number plate, I will always think of #49 as his number plate, the one I’ve flown for four decades. But not as well as him.
#49 Expert flew proudly for four decades, with any luck we’ll make it five.
He had 3,500 AMA pro starts. Every start is game time – you have to be ready to rock and roll, there is no room for error. You go or you get run over. More than 3,000 is remarkable. What is more remarkable was in that time I flew Al’s number, he flagged me from Pocono to Road Atlanta, and everywhere he went his wife was with him. They would take their van and trailer to the track, and they were inseparable. He taught us all by example; how to be good racers and good human beings. You could see the devotion they had for each other and how much he cared about us on the track. Al Wilcox personified racing.
After many years of effort, his good friend Roger Lyle was able to push successfully to get Al into the AMA Hall of Fame. (http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/halloffame/detail.aspx?RacerID=457 )
Unfortunately it did not happen before his death, but it happened. Al certainly deserves to be there and Roger’s singlehanded efforts to make it so are commendable.
“Airborne” Al Wilcox, a gift, a life dedicated to racers and racing, and an example to generations of racers.
We’re all fortunate for these people, these people that teach us and inform us, for guys like Al and Roger, they treat this sport right and they pass on what they know. So in the wake of this past Father’s Day, just take a moment and reflect back on who informed you along the way, and maybe make a toast to National number 49.
Rejoice, sportbike fans, as 2015 is bound to go down as the year of the liter-class superbike. After riding this latest crop of superbikes at their individual intros, your respective MO editors all came back gushing, proclaiming the bike they just finished riding is a viable contender for top honors in the class. Of course, with statements like that, pitting them all together and settling the score was the natural thing to do. And here for you now, we bring you the epic showdown you’ve long been waiting for, pitting five all-new or significantly revised superbikes on the racetrack against the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, winner of our 2012 Japanese Literbike Shootout. Stay tuned next week for our street impressions.
For this test, we’ve got three heavily revised European models in the Aprilia RSV4 RF (technically an early-release 2016 model), BMW S1000RR (with a second opinion from Sean Alexander here), and Ducati 1299 Panigale S. Not to be outdone, Japan is also represented in the major revisions category with the all-new, MotoGP-inspired Yamaha YZF-R1. Also representing Japan, though with slightly less revisions, is the Honda CBR1000RR SP edition, the CBR graced with Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, and what is essentially a blueprinted engine. For complete rundowns of each bike, refer to the hyperlinks above. Here, we’re focusing on overall impressions from the track.
Leading the way on the horsepower scale is the BMW with the Aprilia and Ducati not too far behind. Below 10,500 rpm, the beefed-up Ducati is stronger than the rest. Considerably so in certain areas. The Honda is very competitive in power until around 10k rpm, while the Ninja is relatively weak until its top end.
Despite having six bikes in store, you might notice some omissions. There’s no Suzuki GSX-R1000 or KTM RC8. Both are fine motorcycles in their own right, but without any revisions for 2015 – and having failed to win our previous shootouts – there was no purpose in bringing them back.We invited MV Agusta to the party, hoping to be among the first to spin laps aboard the new F4 RC, but unfortunately MV couldn’t provide a unit for us to test. We also handed an invite to Erik Buell Racing to see if a 1190RX could be thrown in the mix, but with the untimely closing of the company’s doors, that request, sadly, could not be filled.
No matter, as the six parties we have represent the cream of the crop in the highly contested superbike wars. Combined, we have over 1000 horsepower (1007 horses, to be exact), 471 lb.-ft. of torque and a total of $115,327 worth of motorcycles. With numbers like that, we couldn’t take these bike to just any racetrack. Oh no. A special test deserves a special venue, and what better a place than the iconic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. We joined our friends at Keigwins at the Track to ride with them for another one of their well-run and -organized trackdays at the historic Monterey track.
Not surprisingly, with its displacement advantage, the Ducati makes considerably more peak torque than the rest. Of the four cylinders, the BMW and Honda show strong mid-range punch. Meanwhile, the Yamaha’s performance is a bit disappointing.
Riding duties were filled by your usual MOrons including Sean Alexander, Kevin Duke, Evans Brasfield, John Burns and Yours Truly, but adding a bit of professional insight to the cast of wannabe heroes is an actual hero to all on staff: Three-time AMA Superbike champion, two-time World Superbike race winner, and former 500cc Grand Prix rider for Yamaha, Suzuki and Cagiva, Doug Chandler. Known for being fast, smooth and analytical, DC10 provided great feedback on all the bikes that we’re excited to share with you.
First and foremost, a major thank-you is in order. At the 11th hour, Ducati informed us the 1299 Panigale promised for the track portion of our testing couldn’t be made available for our scheduled date. With panic mode firmly set in place, a call went out far and wide for dealers who would let us test one of their demo bikes. None ultimately committed. As a final act of desperation, we reached out to private owners willing to let us MOrons test their personal 1299 Panigale. Nor Cal Ducati Desmo Owners Club member Jacob Tolley stepped up big time, allowing us to thrash test his own 1299 Panigale S around Laguna. The standard model might’ve been a better match here, but desperate times called for desperate measures, and for Tolley’s graciousness, we are forever grateful.
Judging by this collection of top-class machinery, 2015 is possibly the best time to be a sportbike enthusiast.
Lastly, another thank you goes to Pirelli, which supplied us with Diablo Supercorsa SC tires for all six bikes in their stock sizes (except the Honda, whose standard 190/50-17 rear isn’t available in the Supercorsa SC, so we used a 190/55-17 instead). This test would not have been possible without the help of all the parties listed above and plenty others behind the scenes. Many thanks to all involved!
While Evans, Sean and Kevin weigh each bike, Burns is busy staring at something shiny off in the distance.
Because Laguna Seca imposes a strict 90db sound restriction during most events it holds during the year, measured between turns 5 and 6, riders are forced to go to extreme measures in order not to get punished by the sound police. Keigwins actually modified the course slightly, using cones to push riders away from the sound booth at the exit of turn 5. Still, of our six bikes – all with stock exhausts – only the Honda and Kawasaki were able to whiz past the booth at full throttle without tripping the meter.
As such, we were forced to either roll off the throttle or pass through the area a gear or two higher than normal. This pleased the noise enforcers but also killed our lap times. Hence, times weren’t recorded. Here’s what Duke registered on each bike past the sound booth, the one time he was allowed to rip past at full speed:
Aprilia RSV4 RF
Ducati 1299 Panigale S
Honda CBR1000RR SP
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Instead, what follows are track impressions for all six bikes. Despite having to hold back near the sound booth, we were free to pin it everywhere else, allowing us all to form a pretty good idea of what each bike could do around a track. Make no mistake, all six bikes here would make potent track weapons for all but the most discerning of track riders. However, the chips have to fall somewhere, and here’s how each stacked up.
Sixth Place: Honda CBR1000RR SP 80.3%
A day late and a penny short is an appropriate saying for Honda’s aging literbike. Honda may have turned to Öhlins for suspension bits, Brembo for braking components, and only the finest pieces from its engine parts bin, but it still made the least horsepower of the group – 150 – which trails the BMW by more than 30 ponies. Its bones are the oldest here, too, as the current generation Fireblade was released in 2008, with a minor revision in 2012. Maybe the biggest indicator the Honda is a dated machine is its utter lack of electronics, as even ABS is omitted from the options sheet on the Honda (though you can still get ABS on non-SP models).
But is old and analog necessarily bad? Doug Chandler didn’t think so. “This bike was the closest to what I remember of race bikes,” he said. “Really good suspension and brakes, no power assist in the engine, just a fun bike to go around a racetrack on. You could feel the rear end spin up, and it was up to you and your wrist on how far you wanted to go with it.”
Evans, taming the analog CBR1000RR SP the old fashioned way – with his right wrist.
As for the rest of us mere mortals, the Honda reminded us that it still has some very favorable characteristics. At its intro, the CBR earned praise for its quick and neutral handling, and those attributes are only enhanced in the SP model. E-i-C Duke says he’s fond of the CBR for its “nimble, almost 600cc-like chassis and its engine’s robust midrange power. The addition of Öhlins and Brembos to the SP version elevates the CBR to a higher level.”
All our testers remarked how easy the Honda is to ride quickly. Its chassis is very willing to change direction, and the Öhlins suspension helps the bike feel planted at extreme lean angles. And in case one wishes to adjust a damper, Senior Discount Editor Burns reminds us that the “great [Öhlins] analog suspension means there’s no need to navigate menus. Just twist the knobs.”
The Honda has long been praised for its agility, but the Öhlins dampers help bring the confidence level up a few notches at full lean.
With 76.4 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, the CBR makes more than both the Kawasaki and Yamaha (73.6 lb.-ft. and 72.5 lb.-ft., respectively), is almost identical to the Aprilia (76.7 lb.-ft.) and a whisker away from the BMW (79.9 lb.-ft.) in the twist department. In some portions of the track, especially the chutes connecting turns 2, 3 and 4, where there aren’t any long straights, the CBR could hang with the others. But once the revs started to climb and horsepower began to dominate, the Honda fell short.
From there, our testers had other, lesser quibbles about the Fireblade. While I personally was a fan of the Brembos on the Honda, a sentiment shared with both Alexander and Chandler, Brasfield, Burns and Duke ranked the CBR’s binders amongst the lowest in their subjective scores. “The SPs Brembos deliver solid power, but it’s sent via more lever travel than the others in this test,” notes Kevin. Some complained of abrupt on/off throttle response, while others noted a notchy shifter.
For Chandler, the Honda brought back memories of the racebikes he’s more familiar with – the ones without so many buttons.
Ergonomically, the pegs are 10mm rearward, clip-ons angled five degrees lower and spread out five degrees more compared to the standard CBR. This prompted 6-foot, 2-inch Sean to note “the seat-to-peg relationship and distance feel more cramped than the competition to me.” Chandler, hovering around the 6-foot mark, was of a different opinion, stating “This bike also has a good fit; shorter or taller riders can fit quite well on this bike.” It’s up to the individual to decide which position feels best for them and their riding style.
Ultimately, though, it would have been a tall order for the Honda to finish anywhere other than sixth in this test. The competition is stacked with high horsepower and/or gobs of electronic goodies. The CBR lacks both (if you can call 150 hp lacking), showing its age in the process, despite being the most expensive Japanese motorcycle here. “No quickshifter or traction-control system also plants the CBR firmly in the pre-2010 era,” says Duke. “And for an older bike with a $17,299 price tag, I think Honda should’ve thrown in a set of forged-aluminum wheels that would’ve improved its steering responses.”
The CBR1000RR SP might be the backmarker in this group, but at least with the SP model, Honda is ensuring it ages gracefully.
Still, Honda fans can hold their head high with this nugget from Chandler: “If [the CBR] had some more power without all the electronics, I think it would have been my favorite bike to ride around the track.”
Fifth Place: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R 83.1%
It’s slightly odd to see the ZX-10R this far back in the pack, especially considering it’s our reigning Japanese literbike champion, but it just goes to show how the rest of the field has upped the ante in this class. Still, the Ninja is no slouch, as its recent success in World Superbike clearly demonstrates.
At Laguna, it took us a couple sessions to get the ZX-10R sorted, but once it was dialed, it exhibited many of the attributes we liked about the Honda: nice brakes and a sorted chassis. Add 10 more horses over the Honda (160.6 hp), and the Green Machine reminded us why it was king of the Japanese crop. “Very usable motor,” Sean said. “Felt great on corner entry with good turn-in and stability balance.” Kevin echoed those sentiments, noting, “its chassis inspires immediate confidence and feels totally trustworthy even when trail-braking deep into corners.”
Kevin was particularly impressed with the ZX-10R’s stability on corner entry, even when still hard on the brakes.
The secret to achieving the handling characteristics we liked was adding rear preload and fitting shims to the shock to add 10mm of ride height. “Now the bike would finish the corners and not drag [pegs] like in the morning,” said Chandler, who, if you’ll remember, won his AMA titles aboard Kawasakis. “I could ride this bike like the others now and not have to hang off any more than the rest.”
As mentioned before, the binders on the Ninja garnered praise from our testers, ranking third on our scorecard, trailing only the Aprilia and Ducati. Making this feat more impressive is the fact the name on the side of the caliper is not Brembo, but Tokico. Also, the lines feeding the calipers fluid are rubber, not steel-braided. Not that we could tell a difference; braking power was strong on the 10R. “The feel and stopping power felt like a race bike should,” said Chandler. Our tester came equipped with optional ABS, bumping the price tag up $1000 compared to the non-ABS version, but even during hard track riding, there were no complaints of the system kicking in when it shouldn’t have. That’s saying something considering how hard one squeezes the brakes at turns 2 and 11.
Chandler showing the proper line through Laguna’s turn 6. He had issues early on with dragging hard parts on the ZX. Adding rear preload and shims to the shock, thereby increasing rear ride height, solved the issue.
Other than ABS, the Kawi also comes with power modes, but we didn’t bother with anything less than full thrust. Its other main electronic aid is its KTRC traction control system, a version of which has become a must-have for the class. “Despite being a few years old, the traction control still seems to work well,” says Kevin. “And it also makes for a good wheelie-control system that allows for fairly tall wheel lofting before intervening.”
Maybe it’s our familiarity with the Kawasaki that made it so endearing. Having crowned it a past champion, we knew what to expect out of it, but actually hopping aboard after so many years away from it and experiencing its agile chassis, stellar brakes and playful motor was a refresher course in what it can do and why we gave it the nod in 2012. At $15,599 as tested, it’s also the least expensive bike in this group.
Because the ZX-10R isn’t bright enough in its 30th anniversary color scheme, Sean took it upon himself to up the brightness level with his custom Gimoto leathers.
However, time – and technology – marches on. There’s no quickshifter or launch control, but considering the Ninja is geared incredibly tall, one needn’t worry about looping it off the line, but rather stalling it, as I did when trying to simulate a race start. This tall gearing caused Duke, Chandler and I to note a sluggish bottom end and mid-range at the track, with DC10 writing, “it was the only bike that felt like it had a little bit of a powerband, but this is partly due to being out of the power in the lower revs.” I simply wrote in my notes, “needs shorter gearing!”
Gearing and a quickshifter are easy fixes in the aftermarket, and many privateer racers are having success with the Kawi, but in the context of this test, the competition has simply pushed ahead.
Fourth Place: Yamaha YZF-R1 86.7%
You know when your friends hype up a movie so much that, when you finally see it, you can’t help but be let down? The new Yamaha R1 might have fallen into that trap, and I’m partially to blame after raving about it during my first ride at the bike’s launch in Sydney, Australia.
“I had very high expectations for the R1, so it was surprising to not fall fully in love with Yamaha’s technological tour de force,” said Duke.
Evans felt similarly. “After attending the media unveiling and reading about Troy’s experiences on the R1, I expected the world of it. Unfortunately, I came away a little disappointed.”
There’s a lot to love about the new R1, but it fell a bit short of expectations.
So what gives? The disappointment can most easily be explained in one word: refinement. All of our testers complained of snatchy power delivery. Switching power modes helped, but the other competitors simply had better on/off throttle mapping. “Power delivery seems least linear of the bikes tested,” Sean noted, and “On/Off throttle transitions feel unsorted, abrupt and sometimes clumsy.”
Brakes, too, were classic Yamaha: good power, but a vague feel at the lever. “[The Yamaha’s] brakes were my least favorite,” says Duke. “Feeling relatively numb and slightly less powerful than the other stellar binders in this test.” DC10 felt similar: “The brakes did not have a very consistent feel to them. At a slower pace they would work fine, the lever always right there and hard, but when you start going faster and braking harder the lever travel would not change but the power or grip would go away almost like the pads might be a little glazed over.”
Lastly, our testers couldn’t quite come to grips with the R1’s handling traits, and it showed in the scorecard as the R1 ranked last in that category. “Front end provided the least confidence for me,” said Sean. “Probably because the forks seem to be lacking the compliance offered by the other bikes.”
Yamaha’s tagline for the new R1 is “MotoGP for the street.” It would appear Doug Chandler agrees, noting, “The new R1 felt the closest as far as a real race bike out of the box – its seat height and how it would want to turn into the corner for you just reminds me of a race bike.”
Duke said the R1 wasn’t especially nimble, despite having dropped many pounds from the previous R1. I noted how the Yamaha was slow to turn-in to a corner, especially while on the brakes, and Chandler commented that the R1 felt top heavy, which added more pitch under braking, causing the rear to feel “a little loose on entry of a corner.”
We lead off with the bad news on the R1 because, as Duke notes, “there is lots to like, including a broad powerband with sweet crossplane-crank symphony.” Sean backed that feeling, noting, “engine feels strong and sounds great, particularly in the upper midrange.” Chandler agreed, writing, “the power on this bike was very smooth, good pull all the way through with a hint of going flat on the top-end side of it.
Sean wasn’t particularly a fan of the R1’s front end, citing a general on-track lack of feel and confidence when paired with our Pirelli Supercorsa test rubber.
Interestingly enough, the praise for the Yamaha’s engine goes to show that numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Our R1 tester put down 162.9 hp, hardly more than the Kawi’s 160.6 hp, and made the least amount of torque in this group at 72.5 lb.-ft. In fact, at approximately 6000 rpm, the aging Honda is pumping out 15 more pound-feet than the Yamaha. The reason for the poor showing comes down to sound emissions. “The U.S. ECU is developed to meet U.S. regulations for exhaust and noise emissions which are not the same as Europe,” says Marcus DeMichele, Yamaha’s media relations manager, when asked by Kevin Duke after testing the new R1 on three different dynos. (Read the full story here).
None of that really matters when you’re leaned over, WFO, cresting the blind Turn 1 with the front wheel barely skimming the Earth. All we could tell was the R1 felt fast, and we were fortunate to have a highly sophisticated electronics package with lift control, slide control and traction control, just to name a few, there to save our butts if we needed.
“I particularly loved the lift control that allowed me to carry a slight wheelie for extended periods on Laguna’s front straight,” says Evans. “Quite exciting for a wheelie-deficient rider like myself.” Sean and I both agreed with Evans’ point that the Yamaha’s electronics don’t hamper acceleration much when activated – a sign of a highly calibrated and well-tested system – though wheelie king Duke still felt the intervention was too strong for his tastes. “The quickshifter worked perfect,” says Chandler, “and I like the idea that they give you two mounting points for standard shift or GP on the shift lever.”
Get the crossplane crank spinning on the R1 and the sounds it makes are truly captivating.
At $16,490, the Yamaha is barely more expensive than the Kawasaki, yet comes with advanced electronic rider aids, exotic materials, and a thrilling MotoGP exhaust note the ZX-10R can’t come close to matching. Thanks to its aluminum tank, magnesium wheels and lightweight engine components, our R1 tester tipped the scales at a svelte 438 lbs., ready to ride, second only to the frameless Ducati’s 427-pound wet weight.
Since we’re splitting hairs, here’s Duke again, putting the R1 in its place. “For such a tech-laden bike, it seems like an oversight to do without an auto-blipping downshifter and adjustable engine-braking parameters. And to have nearly identical peak horsepower to a years-old Kawasaki doesn’t impress for an all-new sportbike.”
If you’ve got some stands, a solid set of tools, and a desire to unleash the R1’s full potential, we believe you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.
Personally, I agree with DC10, who noted the R1 “felt very track worthy but still needed some fine tuning – it just wasn’t as finished as some of the others.” I gave a valiant effort trying to get the R1’s settings to a good point but simply ran out of time. If you’re the tinkering type, then don’t write off the Yamaha just yet, as it has mounds of untapped potential waiting to be uncorked. “I think with a day or two you could get the finish of the bike much closer and have a very potent track bike,” says Doug, and I agree.
Third Place: Ducati 1299 Panigale S 88.9%
The race for the top spot in this shootout is incredibly close and this is where the gloves come off, as the top three machines are separated by a total of 1.2%. Despite the 1299 Panigale S version’s steep $24,995 price tag, the largest here, making a big dent in its objective scoring, the 1299 still recovered well enough to grab the third spot.
With 175 thoroughbreds to its name and a whopping 92.5 lb.-ft. to go with it, Ducati most definitely assured nobody would even hint at the 1299 Panigale lacking midrange, as some had done with its 1199 predecessor.
Duke says, “Unlike the 1199 and its top-heavy powerband, the 1299’s motor delivers gobs of power no matter where the tachometer is sitting.” Sean backed that statement, noting the Ducati “has great midrange and a ton of power,” capped with a “beautiful ‘Ducati’ intake honk when accelerating hard.”
Ducati’s latest superbike impressed with its midrange hit coupled with its top end push.
Chandler was also impressed with the updated Superquadro engine. “With this bike being a Twin, it would build power up in the higher rpm. It’s also very smooth and strong down in the bottom rpm which made this bike fun to feel the power it had.”
I shared the sentiments of my esteemed colleagues, jotting things like “beefy midrange to go with the top-end rush!” Helping to push that power to the ground is a very slick transmission with quickshift and auto-blip downshift features, similar to the BMW’s – only better. So good, actually, that it won top scores in the Transmission category of the scorecard. “The auto-blipping downshift programming is as good as it gets, and suddenly having to use a clutch lever to downshift seems archaic,” says Duke. It’s true, simply close the throttle, reach for the brakes, tap your foot on the lever and don’t even bother with the clutch, the 1299 will take care of the rest.
Clamping on the Ducati’s M50 Brembos throughout the day, we were continually amazed how well they performed.
And speaking of brakes, the Brembo M50 mounts we’ve loved so much since we first sampled them on the 1199, haven’t lost a bit of its charm this time around, as Chandler gave them some high praise: “The brakes on this one felt very race worthy – good feel, no lever travel, and always right there when you needed them.”
Duke, meanwhile, raised the compliments one further, saying, “There is no bad set of brakes here, but the Duc’s Brembo M50s are my favorite, offering huge power and incredibly precise control – the best in the business.” Sure enough, the M50s are the best in the business, as they won the Brake category of the scorecard, too.
The Duc surprised in other ways as well, with its spacious cockpit, generous seat-to-peg distance and modest reach to the bars not what one would expect from a Ducati superbike. However, that generous legroom means pegs are relatively low to the ground. I found myself scraping my left toe slider – an extremely rare occurrence for me – while Sean encountered a more troubling predicament. “It could use more left-side ground clearance for heavy and/or fast riders,” he said. “It was scraping the sidestand and pegs in turns 2, 6 and 9.”
A generous cockpit area meant even 6-foot, 2-inch Alexander didn’t feel cramped. Chandler was surprised by the roominess, too.
Coming in at 427 lbs. ready-to-ride, the 1299 Panigale S is the lightest contender in the field. Couple that with forged wheels, a fine-tuned chassis (no frame, remember) and wide bars providing tons of leverage, and you have the recipe for one thrilling track machine. We were especially impressed with the Duc’s willingness to turn-in and/or change direction. With the traction offered by the Supercorsas and the confidence the semi-active Öhlins NIX30 fork and TTX36 shock inspires, the 1299 Panigale S was seemingly goading me into dragging elbow. Then I remembered this was an actual individual’s motorcycle and my job would be on the line if I tossed it, so cooler heads prevailed.
Still, that level of confidence and control over a motorcycle is a special feeling on a racetrack. One both Alexander and Duke agree with. “Very ‘nice’ to ride at Laguna, nicely balanced chassis/power,” Sean wrote. “It had very smooth suspension response and control-input responses.”
Wide bars give the Ducati rider lots of leverage to turn the bike to-and-fro. The lightest wet weight here also makes that task easier.
Kevin adds, “The Panigale steers like a much smaller bike, using its wide bars for good leverage. The lightweight forged-aluminum wheels and sharper steering geometry than the 1199 Panigale aided in the sharp steering feel.”
As is seemingly mandatory in this field, the Ducati comes with a host of electronics, like traction control, wheelie control, riding modes, power modes, Cornering ABS, the aforementioned quickshifter, and adjustable engine braking just to name a few. We could have spent the entire day simply sampling each one of these features, but instead, we focused on the ones that would help us lap faster. So, as the day went on, traction and wheelie control came down, power modes were set to max, and we simply rode. Judging by the fact nobody mentioned any discernible instance of electronic intervention, either in person or on paper, that leads us to believe they’re calibrated so well its intervention was minimal and we just didn’t notice.
The Ducati 1299 Panigale S is a great bike, no doubt about it. But there’s another Italian we liked even better.
As described earlier, the gauge for measuring the podium finishers to this test ultimately came down to smile sizes. And while the Ducati 1299 Panigale S certainly gave us an ear-to-ear grin, its European competitors, including its cross-town rival, somehow managed to plant one even bigger.
Second Place: BMW S1000RR 89.7%
Where the Ducati is a product built by passionate people and designed to instill emotions, the updated S1000RR is all business, with the sole task of getting around a track as fast as possible. It’s headlined by its engine, which has been the centerpiece of the bike from its initial debut. It made the most power here, with 182.9 hp to the wheel measured on the MotoGP Werks dyno, more than 7 horses ahead of the second-place Aprilia, and was the only bike to break into the 180 hp threshold. Its 79.9 lb.-ft. is second only to the thunderous Ducati, the Italian’s 286cc displacement advantage giving it a leg up on the German, to the tune of 12.6 lb.-ft.
I marked in my notes how the S1000RR simply launches out of Laguna’s final turn “like a bat out of hell,” though the feeling was appropriate anywhere one decided to twist the Beemer’s throttle. Despite this immense acceleration, Kevin notes “it’s incredible how docile it can feel for such a powerhouse. Throttle reapplication is quite smooth.”
Straights are much shorter, and ascents hardly exist when you’re riding something as powerful as the BMW S1000RR.
However, co-headlining with the BMW’s engine is its sophisticated electronics, which on our tester included Dynamic Traction Control, Ride Modes Pro, Cruise Control, Gear Shift Assist, Dynamic Damping Control, and… heated grips. This is a BMW, after all.
You would think Chandler, who’s rooted in the old school, would be opposed to the BMW and its myriad of electronics. In fact, the opposite is true, noting, “This bike [BMW] had the best feel out of all of them to me. Even with the electronics, it still gave you that push-back-in-the-seat acceleration. It would just get stronger and stronger the higher up in the RPM you would go. I liked the throttle feel on this one the best. Even though it is not a direct cable to butterfly, it gave a very good feel. Opening the throttle to settle the bike into the corner was very smooth, no big hit or heavy feel.”
We were surprised to hear Chandler didn’t mind the ride-by-wire throttle of the BMW. For as stoic as he is, that’s about the highest praise BMW will get about its electronic throttle calibration.
Both the BMW and Ducati were equipped with some form of electronic damping, though the BMW’s system was tops among us, taking top spot in the Suspension category on the scorecard. Duke and Chandler were the only ones who noted anything about the Dynamic Damping Control. Kevin saying, “it seems to help squelch front-end dive.” While Chandler said simply, “the suspension was right there for track use.” While it seems counterintuitive to think less notes is a positive sign, another way of interpreting the scarcity of notes is that the system performed its active damping duties so well it became an afterthought for each rider, allowing them to focus on circulating Laguna as quickly as they could.
The S1000RR also took top spot on the scorecard in the Handling category, sharing the number 1 plate with the Aprilia. I noted how the able chassis is a perfect complement to the powerful engine, harnessing both power and control. “Great chassis,” Sean says. “Almost as seamless as the Aprilia at speed.” Dirty Sean and I both agree that the RR feels planted and confidence-inspiring on the side of the tire. The optional forged aluminum wheels our tester came equipped with also made a difference on how quickly we could flick it from side to side.
Brakes are top-notch as well, the two-piece Brembo calipers and steel-braided lines delivering “stellar power and feel,” says Duke.
The S1000RR is very well behaved on the side of the tire, with precise and clear communication coming through the chassis.
Traction control is also rather sophisticated, though its different levels were confusing at first, since they are delineated with both positive and negative numerals. With perfect conditions for our trackday and new, sticky Supercorsas, activating the TC was a rare occurrence. Still, the quicker testers preferred TC in the lower settings (or switched off completely in Chandler’s case) as it still provided thrust without completely killing drive. Duke expressed his affection for the RR’s so-called Slick mode which keeps electronic intervention to a minimum and allows the wheelies he loves.
As sophisticated as the BMW’s electronics are, Sean, Evans and I weren’t fond of the S1k’s wheelie control, as it intervenes too abruptly for our tastes, killing drive and slamming the front back to tarmac forcefully. “My only real complaint about the BMW is the wheelie control’s abruptness when the TC is set for less intervention,” Evans says. It caught him out twice, as the first instance “wheelie control unceremoniously chopped the throttle,” and the second, “the S1k slammed my wheel down heading up the hill towards the Corkscrew, only this time I was slightly hanging off. The sudden deceleration tossed me forward, leaving me hanging off the left side of the bike with my right foot off the peg and hooked on the seat.”
Put simply: “Wheelie Control needs to go back to the drawing board,” says Sean.
Despite that huge exhaust canister sticking out the side of the BMW, it still emits a ferocious four-cylinder roar when you open it up.
A welcome feature is the Gear Shift Assist, which is essentially a quickshifter that allows for shifts in both directions without the clutch. The Ducati is the only other bike here with such a feature. While there were no complaints about the system’s ability to upshift, some weren’t so keen on the bike’s downshifts.
“I can’t adjust to it’s downshifter,” says Burns. “I feel no detent whatsoever and I never know what gear I’m in for turn 11 or 2. That’s kind of important.” I felt the same way towards the GSA during downshifts, so much so that I reverted back to using the clutch for down changes.
Overall, the S1000RR is simply a track weapon that left us in awe of its capabilities. “A very capable bike for the trackday guys or racers,” says Chandler. “The versatile Beemer was immediately easy to get up to speed and feel comfortable,” says Kevin. Sean’s notes the BMW “feels ready to race with the electronics switched-off,” and I jotted “what an absolute rocket ship.” Burns seemed to have the only dissenting opinion, stating, “Not quite the solid feel of the ZX-10R for me.” To each their own.
Gear Shift Assist is a nice feature, but it could still benefit from better tactile feel on down changes.
Our quibbles are easily solved with a few button presses or with a slight change in riding style, and once that’s figured out, the S1000RR becomes incredibly rewarding on track. In short, here’s Evans on why the BMW is so good.
“This is the Swiss Army Knife of the Superbikes. It has the power to kick the ass of all the other bikes, the technology to make it easier for just about any rider to explore their personal limits, and it has cruise control plus heated grips.”
How close was this shootout? The BMW and Ducati were only separated by 0.8% on the scorecard. The margin is even closer for the BMW and Aprilia.
Alas, it’s emotions that slot the S1k only tenths of a percentage point into second place. There’s no doubt the S1000RR is an absolute weapon, but the Aprilia left us enamored.
First Place: Aprilia RSV4 RF 90.1%
In his notes, Duke wrote, “I’ve always rated the RSV4’s chassis highly, but its engine output had been eclipsed by other literbikes.” The rest of the MO staff has felt the same each time we’ve tested the RSV4. We’ve always loved how much the chassis makes us feel like a hero, but could never quite give it the overall nod because its engine, sweet sounding as it is, would be outclassed by the competition. For example, in our 2012 Exotic Superbike Shootout, the RSV4 Factory’s 160.4 hp was a whole 12 hp down on the BMW HP4 and more than 26 horses behind the Ducati 1199 Panigale R!
For 2015, the early-release 2016 Aprilia RSV4 RF has hit the gym and is no longer the scrawny kid in the back of the class. “With this latest version, the motor is a ripper that competes with anything in the class, boasting a solid midrange and nearly 176 horses at its peak,” says Kevin. That’s second only to the BMW’s 183 horses. The uptick in power is what we’ve been waiting for in the Aprilia, and it was met with obvious approval, as Evans notes, “The force of the RSV4’s acceleration up the hill to turn 1 was intoxicating.”
From nearly all performance-related aspects, the Aprilia is seemingly light years ahead of the old Kawasaki and even older Honda.
To sweeten the deal even further, as our E-i-C notes, “It’s also the best-sounding literbike my ears have ever enjoyed.” Sean adds to that compliment, noting, “Sounds AMAZING, everywhere, this is a fun and exciting motorcycle at Laguna.” Evans, too, got in on the Aprilia’s melodic circle jerk, writing, “I won’t be alone singing the praises of the Aprilia engine, but I’m gonna do it anyway. The sound of the engine under full-throttle acceleration made me wish that Laguna’s front straight was a bit longer, so that I could enjoy that V-Four sound all the way up to redline in sixth gear.” With excellent power and sound, plus that distinct V-Four character and feel, the Aprilia took the win in the all-important Engine category of our scorecard.
Of course, more power and harmonious exhaust symphonies don’t make a shootout winner. Fortunately, the fantastic chassis we’ve loved before is equally as endearing this time around. In my notes, I wrote, “[The Aprilia] seemingly goes where your eyes are looking, fluidly, confidently.” Evans backed that up with his own scribbles. “The bike turned in quickly, falling to the lean angle I desired immediately while still allowing for mid-corner corrections if necessary,” he said.
You so much as think about changing direction and the Aprilia will put you exactly where you want to go.
Kevin noticed that “it takes only a couple of corners for the RSV4 to again feel like the most mass-centralized literbike on the market. It feels compact and willing to let a rider dominate it. Another set of forged-aluminum wheels help the RF steer relatively easy, and it likes a rider to lean into corners leading with an inside shoulder. There is such a big performance envelope that I barely felt like I was approaching its limits.”
Sean, meanwhile, was enamored by the Aprilia after only his first session. By the end of the day, he had fallen in love. “The RF just wants to go fast and is more rewarding the faster you go. Nothing about the chassis or the electronics intrudes on the fun – rider effort seems to melt-away at speed while the bike just gets on with doing the job of hauling-ass.”
And finally… “I WANT ONE. I LOVE IT. IT COMPLETES ME. DON’T TELL MY WIFE!”
The Ducati and BMW were worthy competitors on track and in the scorecard, but in the end the Aprilia leads the way.
The Aprilia is not all love and roses, however, as we still found a couple foibles to complain about. Burns noticed an occasional bout of “wonky fueling,” as he called it. “Sometimes there was one last burp of power after closed throttle.” We liked the quickshifter equipped on the RSV, as it moved up the gears with precision, but it doesn’t feature an auto-blip downshift option, which is likely to become the wave of the future. No matter, as this is “somewhat alleviated by an excellent slipper clutch and light clutch action,” says Duke.
Ergonomically, we were generally in favor of the RSV4’s compact seating arrangement, as it is well suited to track duty. However, here’s an interesting perspective regarding ergos from an actual champion, Doug Chandler: “The first thing I noticed was the seat height is kind of on the tall side, not that this a problem, but I was surprised with it. For me at 5-foot, 11-inches it is a nice feel. My years in racing I always had to keep the seat-to-bar distance a bit longer than most for the simple fact that I wanted to have some room with my arms and did not like to feel tight or pushed up over the front of the bike.” That said, vertically challenged riders won’t feel as comfortable on the RF’s 33.6-inch high seat. The Yamaha’s seat is the tallest, at 33.7 inches, but it doesn’t feel nearly that high from the saddle.
Taller riders might feel a little squished on the Aprilia, as here 5-foot, 11-inch Doug Chandler has his elbows above his knees despite being all the way back on the seat.
While they’re not Brembo’s spectacular M50s, the Ape’s slightly lower spec Brembo calipers are still every bit the business when it comes to stopping power. Great feel, with strong, consistent power are all you can really ask for. Duke says they’re nearly the equal of the M50s.
On the electronics side, similar to the other bikes here, we kept intervention settings low, but were happy to have the on-the-fly +/- paddles on the left switchgear to adjust TC settings on a whim. That said, we hardly felt any discernible traction control intervention. Interestingly, Chandler notes that, unlike his experience with the BMW, with all the electronic aids, he felt slightly disconnected from the bike as a rider. Take into account his pedigree and his resume with analog motorcycles, and that sentiment is understandable. For the rest of us mere mortals, the Aprilia is a supreme tool for cutting quick laps. Even that DC10 can agree with. “Overall, the Aprilia is very worthy for getting around the a racetrack fast,” he says. “And with all the assistance on it, I am sure with the right setup this could get you some fast laps around the track. I would say it was one of the best with the BMW and Yamaha.”
Siahaan, seen here, is 5-foot, 8-inches, 153 lbs., and even he makes the Aprilia look tiny. Apparently only small Italians named Max Biaggi look proper aboard the RSV4.
It should be noted that the RF took a sizeable ding for its $21,999 price tag. However, Aprilia is bringing these up-spec models into the U.S. before the RR models, and so this was the only option we had for the test. The standard RR version should arrive in late summer, minus only the forged wheels and Öhlins suspension, for a remarkably low price of $15,649, only $50 more than the Kawasaki. If you’re willing to wait, it’s hard to imagine a better deal in sportbiking.
At the end of the day, four out of the six testers gave their subjective overall victories to the Aprilia, and when it comes to the size of our smiles after each session, the RSV4 took a sizeable win in the Grin Factor category of our scorecard. As noted before, we’ve always been a fan of the RSV4, but could never give it an unequivocal nod as the king of the class.
Meet the new king of the superbike empire: The Aprilia RSV4 RF.
Now, Aprilia answered our pleas with its upgraded engine without ruining the supreme chassis, brakes and electronics we liked before. All the pieces finally add up and we’re happy to award the Aprilia RSV4 RF our 2015 Motorcycle.com literbike champion.
2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout
Aprilia RSV4 RF
Ducati 1299 Panigale S
Honda CBR1000RR SP
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout Spec Chart
Aprilia RSV4 RF
Ducati 1299 Panigale S
Honda CBR1000RR SP
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R ABS
$18,945 (as tested)
$15,599 (as tested)
999.6cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, 65-degree V4, 4 valves per cylinder
999cc Liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-stroke, inline-Four, 4 valves per cylinder
BMW announced a number of new color options for the 2016 model year as well as a special edition 2016 R1200GS Triple Black (pictured above). The update announcement includes the F800GT, R1200GS, R1200GS Adventure, R1200RT, R nineT, S1000RR, S1000R, S1000XR, K1600GT, K1600GTL and K1600GTL Exclusive.
All of these 2016 models are essentially the same as the 2015 iterations, but with new color options and, in the case of some European models, BMW’s dynamic brake light system.
R1200GS Triple Black
BMW has given the R1200GS the Triple Black treatment before but the special edition color scheme is back again for 2016. The central fuel tank cover, side panels and front mudguard are painted a Black storm metallic color while the fork tubes are an anodised black. The Triple Black also gets wire spoke wheels, usually standard on the GS Adventure but as an add-on to the regular GS.
For 2016, the regular R1200GS receives a light white non-metallic color scheme while losing the Alpine white 3 non-metallic and Black storm metallic options. European models also have the option of dynamic brake light with ABS Pro in the Riding Modes Pro package.
The GSA also gets the Riding Modes Pro option with dynamic brake light as well as new Racing red non-metallic matt (at least, it does if you’re in Europe. Not so much, elsewhere) and Ocean blue metallic matt. Lost with the calendar year are the Olive non-metallic matt and Racing blue metallic matt colors.
The R nineT roadster returns for 2016 with two choices of hand-brushed exposed aluminum fuel tanks: with a visible welding seam or with a smoothed seam. Heated grips are also a new optional add-on.
Our reigning Editor and Reader’s Choice Sport-Touring Motorcycle of the Year returns for 2016 with a new Platin bronze metallic color but loses the Callisto grey metallic matt option.
The monolith metallic matt with Sapphire black metallic option pictured here replaces the Dark graphite metallic option for the 2016 F800GT.
Already having received a significant update last year, the S1000RR returns for 2016 with a new Black storm metallic and Racing red non-metallic color option.
The S1000R streetfighter returns with just a small tweak: the Light white non-metallic paint scheme gets a new grained fuel tank trim.
K1600GT, K1600GTL and K1600GTL Exclusive.
European-spec models of the six-cylinder K1600GT, K1600GTL and K1600GTL Exclusive all receive ABS Pro and dynamic brake lights as standard equipment.
The GT gets a Cosmic blue metallic with Black storm metallic color scheme but loses the Sakhir orange metallic/Black storm metallic color from last year. The GTL replaces last year’s Magnesium beige metallic color with the new Ocean blue metallic matt. The Exclusive model receives a new Sparkling storm metallic but loses the Mineral white metallic option.
Are you one of those people who pays extra to purchase jeans that are already ripped, or do you like to wear your jeans and rip them yourself? For 2016, BMW is offering an R nineT Special Edition with a hand-brushed aluminum tank that includes visible welding seams (smooth welds are an option). Just think […]... Click Here for Article
BMW is adding its dynamic brake lights to motorcycles after first introducing the technology to its automobiles. The technology that flashes the rear brake lights during deceleration, in theory making it more noticeable to other vehicles that the bike is slowing down. The dynamic brake light system will be offered in the European market as an option for of the 2016 R1200GS, R1200GS Adventure, S1000XR and standard equipment for the K1600GT, GTL and GTL Exclusive.
The system works in two stages. Under strong braking while traveling at speeds above 50 kph (31 mph), the brake lights flash at a frequency of 5 Hz. When the motorcycle’s speed drops below 14 kph (9 mph), the rear turn signals flash as hazard lights. The hazards will continue to flash until the motorcycle accelerates to a speed of at least 20 kph (12 mph).
For the R1200GS, R1200GS Adventure and S1000XR, BMW is combining the dynamic brake lights in a package with ABS Pro which inhibits wheel lock-up even when banking into a turn. Both features will be standard on the K1600 models.
No word on whether the technology will be introduced to the U.S., though there are likely regulatory requirements required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
We like stripped-down, simplified bikes with reasonable, comfortable ergonomics. You may remember the old BMW K100 series (affectionately known as the “flying brick”) manufactured by the German marque between 1982 and 1992. Somewhat revolutionary when introduced, it provided the lowest center of gravity for an inline four engine configuration, and put the engine where you […]... Click Here for Article
American Honda announced the brand-new Cota 300RR, which joins the improved Cota 4RT260 in Honda’s expanded 2016 lineup of Montesa trials models. Produced entirely at the Honda-owned Montesa factory in the trials hotbed of Barcelona, Spain, the Cota 300RR is a limited-edition, state-of-the-art trials machine that is “capable of success at the highest level.”
Currently being campaigned by Cody Webb in the AMA NATC MotoTrials USA National Trials Championship, the brand-new Cota 300RR is a unique, competition-focused motorcycle designed for serious trials riders. Compared to the Cota 4RT260, the Cota 300RR’s redesigned 288cc engine has a longer stroke and larger bore, resulting in increased power and torque across the range, with a programmable ECU that allows fine-tuning for varying weather and terrain conditions. Lightweight components like a titanium header pipe and aluminum fork helped the bike lose more than four pounds. A front brake with a four-piston monoblock caliper is standard, as are wheels with aluminum D.I.D rims and black-anodized aluminum hubs.
The Cota 4RT260 and 300RR are both limited-edition models available via a special ordering process, with the 300RR selling for $9,999. Orders for the Montesa Cota 300RR may be placed beginning July 1. Orders for the Cota 4RT260 are already open. Customers can request a quote online by clicking “Get Yours Now” at powersports.honda.com/trials.aspx. Cota 4RT260s will ship in two rounds: October 2015 and December 2015. The Cota 300RR will ship December 2015.
Every human body comes in its own unique shape and size, but all motorcycles of a particular model are exactly the same when they roll off the assembly line. Unless you’re remarkably lucky, some aspect of your motorcycle’s dimensions will be less than optimum to suit your body type and riding style. Fortunately, you can take steps to customize your motorcycle’s fit to your dimensions and the type of riding you do. While some of these suggestions require altering or replacing parts, many can radically alter your riding experience for the better with only basic tools and a little elbow grease. Take a look at the photo below to see how changing the handlebar-to-seat and the peg-to-seat dimensions can alter the angles – and the comfort – of the rider’s appendages.
It’s not often we go riding around tooting our own horn (except for when in a tunnel, then you just gotta), but everyone at Motorcycle.com is proud of passing a popularity milestone of 100k Facebook “Likes.” We’d like to individually thank each one of the 100,308 – and counting – fans of our Facebook page, but the boss is only lifting the yoke enough to post this sweeping appreciation News post. Rest assured, each one of you owns a little piece of our hearts.
Although Motorcycle.com is the oldest online motorcycle publication, we were a little slow to climb aboard the social media bandwagon. We were already popular so why bother? A few years ago editors Siahaan and Roderick took it upon themselves to see who could outdo the other in the popularity of their individual Facebook postings. Facebook “Likes” began increasing. The VerticalScope mothership then created a bonafide social media department and took control of our social media destiny. Since then the “Likes” have been piling-on exponentially.
Look for another letter of appreciation when we reach the quarter-million mark which, at the rate we’re going, shouldn’t be too long from now. Until then, we again thank you for “Liking” us. We promise to continue producing the insightful, entertaining and irreverent content you’ve come to expect from MO.
Has anybody built a proper “adventure bike” with an inline-Four cylinder before this one? We liked the new Kawasaki Versys 1000 when we compared it with its competition earlier this year, but it’s more sport-tourer than a real sporty adventure bike – mainly because it weighs 565 pounds.
One of the key numbers to process with this new BMW S1000XR is 502. That would be its fully-fuelled weight in pounds, according to BMW, which is only 8 more than the Yamaha FJ-09 that won the aforementioned comparison. The FJ made 104 horsepower on the dyno. BMW claims 160 crank hp for its newest beast, which translated into 155 hp at 11,200 when we tested what’s supposedly the same engine in last year’s S1000Rhere. The FJ-09 is by no means a slow motorcycle. The new XR makes 50% more power, and that makes every ride a Sporty Adventure, indeed.
Asymmetric eyeballs are a BMW styling thing now. The XR inhales through its steering head just like the S1000RR. Somebody needs to build a screen to protect its big radiator (and oil cooler below it) from front tire roost.
It’s the same 999cc inline Four we just sampled in the S1000RR overbeast, dialed back just a bit for use in the XR and the R. Now it makes peak power at 11,000 rpm instead of 13,500, and peak torque at 9,250 rpm instead of 10,500. With that hyperactive rev monster of an engine and the XR’s dirtbike ergos, combined with BMW’s electronics, what happens on Canada’s dirt backroads is that Colin McRae’s World Rally Car video game comes to life.
Keep it in Road mode, roll the throttle open and the rear tire steps out just a little while the engine wails and stutters and the orange light on the dash flickers. In Dynamic, it steps out more, the light flickers a bit less and the front wheel is allowed to come up over rises. Either way, it’s flat-track fun for the whole family, and it feels like (as long as you don’t wash out the front Bridgestone street tire on the entry), you can do no wrong. It’s not the sort of disrespectful behavior the S1000RR encourages at all. (Though if you’re too short for the XR, you might get away with it on the S1000R on smoothish dirt roads for a while.) And though BMW’s own R1200GS weighs just 20 pounds more than the XR, it’s a completely different experience. Camel vs Arabian stallion.
Ontario, Canada, offers a wide range of accommodations.
Heck, maybe you can’t wash out the front tire either? This is the first BMW with ABS Pro, which is BMW’s version of lean-sensitive ABS. There’s a lean-angle sensor plugged into the ECU that’s supposed to keep you from over-clamping the 320mm front discs even at full lean. For greater dirt pleasure, the rear is a good-sized 265mm disc, clamped by a two-piston caliper. BMW says this: “ABS Pro was not developed to enhance the rider’s individual braking performance when braking in a banked position – especially not on the race track. Instead, ABS Pro was designed to help use the S1000XR even more safely within its physical handling limits when riding on public roads – for instance, when faced with an unexpected hazard in a bend.” ABS Pro is part of the Ride Modes Pro option ($450), and maybe worth that all by itself if you’re the king of the late brakers.
Fuel capacity is supposed to be 5.2 gallons, which means you could never be heard from again up there in the Great White North.
The XR thrives on the sort of abuse most street riders try to avoid: 5.9 inches of suspension travel up front, and 5.5 out back, controlled by BMW ESA, means most common road irregularities cease to exist. Then there’s the thing that really created this class, the upright ergos. The XR’s seat felt comfy and plush for the one 9-to-5 day I spent on it, the bike is skinny between your thighs for a four-cylinder, and the aluminum handlebar doesn’t require you to bend over at all. The only downside is that if your legs are any stubbier than my 30-inch ones, it’s not so easy to reach the ground. The standard seat is 33.1 inches high, though of course there are low and high options. Also, BMW’s current four-banger can be a bit buzzy through the grips; it has no counterbalancer. Rubberized handlebar mounts help quell it on the XR, but there’s still a little tingle at various speeds. For me, electronic cruise control makes it a non-issue.
Also nice in white.
To me, the XR feels shorter-geared than the RR or the R, but BMW’s specs say all three bikes are the same. I think what’s happening is the XR’s (and R’s) enhanced midrange just makes them feel like they’re ripping through the gears even faster than the RR. It feels like somebody lightened the crankshaft. BMW’s Gear Shift Assist Pro seems a bit unwieldy downshifting, but it’s a lot of fun on the upshifts with this engine pinned.
Holding the throttle wide open in any gear on this bike (I have to consciously remind myself to open it all the way), it’s hard to believe the XR is 30 horses or so down on the RR we just dynoed (and that’s even with my test bike restricted to 9000 rpm because it was still in break-in mode). Maybe it just feels faster because you’re sitting upright in the face of the gale-force wind you produce instantly with your wrist? This bike basically compresses all the S1000RR’s 180-mph-plus performance into about a 150-mph package. Way more than enough for street use, in other words.
The fact that it seems made for dirt roads doesn’t seem to much affect the XR’s on-pavement performance either. Though it’s less steep of rake than the S1000R, and with 0.7-in. more trail and a whole 4.3-in. longer of wheelbase, the XR still snaps quickly from right to left with little effort, mostly due, again, to its superb ergos and the leverage of its wide handlebar. Meanwhile, the bike’s all-seeing, all-knowing electronic suspension knows just how to firm things up when it senses aggression.
The two-position windshield snaps snazzily up or down without tools. I had mine down all day, happy that the rain had stopped. The 6’4” guy I was riding with said it gave him pretty good, calm wind protection in the up position, too. There’s a 12-volt outlet right there in the dashboard; one official BMW spec says the alternator puts out 486 watts, another says 350. We’ll find out which is correct.
Cruise control makes it easy to snap pics while you roll merrily along. There’s a bit of tingle through the grips at cruise, but not an objectionable amount. Here the windscreen is in its low position, but you can pop it to high on the fly.
There’s supposed to be a $16,350 base model, with manually adjustable suspension components at either end, but no one’s ever seen one. The Standard Package, for $17,295, could work, since it includes heated grips, cruise control and Rain and Road modes. But BMW really wants you to buy the Premier package for $18,750, dripping with Gear Shift Assist Pro, Ride Modes Pro, Tire Pressure Monitor, Dynamic ESA, center stand, luggage rack … the whole nine yards except for the saddlebags (and of course there’s a slew of other accessories).
Best appearance ever by a Four-cylinder in an Adventure role
Feels really light and nimble
The electronic aids are approaching seamlessness
Encourages you to go faster than your talent alone would allow
The Base price must be a joke, since BMW apparently produces no base models
We’ll have to invoke the mercy rule if BMW keeps beating up on its competitors this way
Maybe we only think Sporty Adventure bikes should be powered by Twin cylinders or the occasional Triple because that’s all we’ve ever known? The new XR’s obvious competitors are the excellent new Ducati Multistrada and our reigning Motorcycle of the Year KTM Super Duke, both of which will be formidable contenders when the inevitable Smackdown Shootout Comparo occurs later this year. Or should it be KTM’s new Super Adventure?
With this class of motorcycles, we have to say the manufacturers are definitely on to something. It’s hard not to love a motorcycle that combines near-touring-bike all-day comfort with sizzling, 150-hp plus all-surface performance and the kind of cutting-edge electronics that keeps us safe(ish). It was a lovely whirlwind tour of Ontario, with all my Canadian stereotypes reinforced including attacking beavers, large moose and marauding mosquitoes – as a result of which I may be in the infatuation stage with the new XR. But I think I have a new favorite BMW. Maybe even a new favorite motorcycle.
Lake Rosseau, up there in Ontario, Canada, isn’t such a bad place after all, once the rain stops, the lake thaws and the mosquitoes retreat. This one’s the accessorized-out model complete with Akrapovic pipe, hard bags and Big Hair.
Michelin has launched the new StarCross 5 range of Off-Road/Motocross tires that deliver high performance in a wide array of conditions. The new StarCross 5 line introduces Michelin’s latest technologies following an extensive three-year development and testing program.
The StarCross 5 was designed based on feedback from riders of all levels, from amateurs to world champions. Compared to its predecessors (Michelin Starcross 3/4), the StarCross 5 line is based on a new casing design said to deliver several significant performance improvements.
The new casing design incorporates stronger, higher density materials that reduce weight up to 15 percent without compromising strength or durability. The casing construction also features Michelin’s all-new Comfort Casing Technology (CCT), said to provide exceptional shock absorption and reduce rider fatigue.
Lastly, the new casing design has been engineered to optimize the size of the tire’s contact patch. Combined with aggressive front and rear tread patterns, specially designed for each tire in the range.
According to Michelin, tread designs for the StarCross 5 range of tires improve performance across a multitude of applications. The intermediate and side tread blocks ensure good steering response from the front tire and traction from the rear. The central blocks are designed specifically to enhance braking performance and traction on all types of riding surfaces.
Integrating Michelin innovations shared across tires for Agriculture and Off-Road truck racing, the Michelin StarCross 5 line sports a self-cleaning tread design to help release soil from the tire. The design includes revolutionary fine horizontal tread lines to release soil and enhance traction in a range of different soil conditions.
Additionally, the MICHELIN StarCross 5 Soft rear tire features “Mud-Phobic Bars,” which also enhance tire cleaning to prevent soil from building up and reducing traction. The MICHELIN StarCross 5 Sand rear tire features a specially designed tread with monster scoops, which work to evacuate sand more efficiently.
Available in four versions (Hard, Medium, Soft and Sand), MICHELIN StarCross 5 tires are designed to give high levels of performance across the broadest range of ground conditions and terrain found in Off-Road/Motocross applications.
The Michelin StarCross 5 range is available in a large number of sizes, including some key new sizes to cater to all Off-Road/Motocross riders.
For the 1st Annual Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis, the Wyakin Warrior Foundation has been selected as one of the charities benefitting from the event. Designed to increase awareness and support for severely wounded and injured veterans the Veterans Charity Ride is offering a group of former military service members, including three Wyakin Warriors (George Nickel, David Maxwell, and Tommy Montgomery), the opportunity to ride from Los Angeles to Sturgis, South Dakota just in time for the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This dozen riders from various military branches and of varying ages will enjoy the weeklong motorcycle journey through some of our continent’s greatest national treasures.
Since the Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis is sponsored by Indian Motorcycles, the riders will be astride Indians for the event. The ride will include six days of backroad riding through Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Capital Reef National Park, The Arches and Moab, Utah. The ride will also take the veterans through Colorado National Monument, Hahn’s Peak Colorado and Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. The riders will arrive in Sturgis on Sunday, August 2nd.
Emmy award winning director Robert Manciero and his production company Full Vision Productions, will document the entire trip with online updates throughout the week. “Our team will also be using an interactive media platform that will enable fellow veterans, Indian Riders, motorcycle enthusiasts and the general public to follow the riders and campaign in real-time interacting with the veterans on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We hope to achieve a sense of community, involvement, and unity amongst the group while encouraging other Veterans to join us on this adventure,” said Robert Manciero.
“Going to the Sturgis Bike Rally has been on my Bucket List for many years. Riding to the 75th anniversary with fellow veterans and my brothers from the Wyakin Warrior Foundation is a dream come true. I cannot thank Indian Motorcycle and Full Vision Productions enough for including us in this adventure of a lifetime and supporting Wyakin and their programs,” said Boise resident and Wyakin Warrior program graduate, George Nickel, a veteran Army Airborne Combat Engineer with 16 years of service, 3 deployments to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.
Kawasaki and Jason Pridmore’s STAR School have announced their agreement to name the Kawasaki Ninja as the school’s official motorcycle. In the over 30 STAR courses offered annually, all students and instructors will ride Ninjas, ranging from the Ninja 300 to the Ninja ZX–10R.
“I’m so happy that STAR Motorcycle School and Kawasaki have aligned for this year and into 2016,” said Jason Pridmore. “The Ninja started it all for me as I won my first AMA National on a ZX-7R in 1992. We are both so excited to collaborate on educating all levels of riders throughout the industry. STAR’s ‘Next Generation Motorcycle Training’ program has many new features and on top of that we have 20 new Kawasaki Ninja motorcycles for all to come and enjoy.”
For over 17 years, STAR Motorcycle School has helped riders become safer, more proficient riders. In the process, STAR has been praised by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and given MSF insurance discounts to graduates of the STAR courses. Also, Pridmore acts as the official motorcycle safety trainer for the Marine Corps Semper Ride program. STAR School discount rates will be offered to Kawasaki dealers and owners who want to attend the school.
“All of us at Kawasaki couldn’t be happier to team up with Jason Pridmore and the STAR School,” said Marketing VP Chris Brull. “Jason has been in the motorcycle training business for over 17 years and has proven to be one of the most influential ambassadors for motorcycle safety in this industry. His passion for riding extends to the Kawasaki Ninja line, where both he and his father have a history of racing success. We look forward to collaborating with him and the STAR Motorcycle School to achieve our shared goals.”
To learn more or sign up for the STAR Motorcycle School, visit the website.
Triumph Motorcycles America is offering current Triumph motorcycle owners up to a $1,000 voucher with the purchase of a new Triumph Cruiser model.
Triumph cruisers included in this promotion are the Thunderbird, Thunderbird Commander, Thunderbird Commander LT, Thunderbird Storm, Rocket III, Rocket III Touring, America, America LT and Speedmaster.
“Triumph owners are some of the most loyal consumers, ranking second in the motorcycle industry in repurchase of the brand,” says Matt Sheahan, COO of Triumph Motorcycles America. “We have great cruiser products, and now is the best time for our loyal customers to visit our tremendous retailers across the country and experience them for themselves.”
Owners of any make or model Triumph motorcycle are eligible to receive a Triumph voucher worth up to $1,000, redeemable in the dealership or at Shop.TriumphMotorcycles.com. Owner’s current registration or current insurance card of the Triumph is required at the time of purchase to be eligible for this promotion. Promotion is effective immediately and will end on August 31, 2015.
Thunderbird = $1,000
Thunderbird Storm = $1,000
Thunderbird Commander = $1,000
Thunderbird Commander LT = $1,000
Rocket III = $1,000
Rocket III Touring = $1,000
America = $500
America LT = $500
Speedmaster = $500
Back in 2007, Honda put great effort into three concept motorcycles in advance of the Tokyo Motor Show. In 2008, the motorcycle market essentially collapsed, not just in the United States but also in other markets important to Honda. Only one of the three concepts shown at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show made it into […]... Click Here for Article
Known for marching to the beat of a different drummer, Morgan Motor Company has decided to put a new wrinkle into its three-wheeled rolling art piece. We tested the 1983cc, four-valve S&S X-Wedge-powered three wheeler, last year, and were quite fond of it – even with the as-tested price of $60,734.37. Well, Morgan has taken the same retro design and thrust it into the future. The EV3 prototype has no beefy V-Twin displayed at the front of the vehicle. Instead, the single rear wheel is powered by a 60 hp electric motor.
The Morgan EV3 is the second electric concept vehicle produced by the company. The EV3 is undergoing the full raft of testing and development with an expected production date sometime in late 2016. Looking like a 1950’s vision of a futuristic vehicle, the EV3’s weighs a claimed 992 lb. – less than it’s ICE-powered sibling. Range is expected to be around 150 miles.
Morgan EV3 Prototype
Price has not been set, but expect it to be as pricey as the Morgan 3 Wheeler since each bespoke unit will be hand-built to custom specifications.
The EV3 was introduced publicly at the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed this past weekend.
Having just recovered from my 8th annual trip to the Isle of Man, and already planning for next year’s endeavor, it’s time to look back on what was, by any measure, one of the great TT fortnights in the storied 108-year history of the event. And, to premiere the 2015 edition of the Motorcycle.com TT Review video, five minutes of sights, sound and motion from the greatest motorsports event on Earth.
John McGuinness set a new record, averaging a speed of 132.701-mph over the 37 ¾-mile Mountain Course.
We’re not there yet! While the speed increases were incremental, John McGuinness blew past Bruce Anstey’s record set in 2014 with a 132.701-mph lap, covering the 37 ¾ mile circuit in 17:03.567. Let those numbers marinate for a bit. Yes, it’s ridiculous.
Guy Martin, Michael Dunlop and Steve Hillier also turned in 132-mph laps, and there were dozens of 130-plus-mph laps run across the meet. So, the trend is faster, with more riders capable of running speeds that were unthinkable not long ago. The next great goal is the sub 17-minute lap, and the odds are it will happen in 2016.
Will McGuinness and Hutchinson Bounce Back?
John McGuinness won his 22nd and 23rd TT races including the Senior TT. James Hillier (left) was second in the Senior TT while third-place finisher Ian Hutchinson (right) completed a remarkable comeback from a serious injury to win three TT races.
Indeed they did. Ian Hutchinson made a spectacular comeback after nearly five years of rehabilitation from crash injuries that almost resulted in amputation of his leg. He won three races at the 2015 TT, truly one of the great comebacks in motorsports history.
The scuttlebutt leading into the 2015 TT fortnight was that 21-time TT winner John McGuinness’ reign as King of the Mountain was likely over. Well, you have to call him 23-time TT winner now, as he took not only the TT Zero win on the Mugen electric machine, but capped it all with a spectacular and emphatic win in the Senior TT, complete with a new outright lap record for the Mountain Course. At 45 years of age, McPint still has it in him.
Whither Guy Martin?
He did fine. He didn’t win his first TT, but the popular and occasionally controversial road racer and TV personality finished fourth in the Senior TT and took a spot on the Supersport podium with a third-place finish on the Smith’s Triumph Daytona 675. He adapted well to his new Tyco BMW and is still one of the best road racers on the planet. No clue as to where the mercurial and talented Martin goes from here, but truck mechanic/road racer/Top Gear host wouldn’t be a bad way to live.
Will electric racing motorcycles finally capture our fancy?
Lee Johnson rode the Victory Motorcycles electric bike to a podium finish in the TT Zero class behind the pair of Mugen/Hondas.
A qualified yes. Victory’s surprising entry on the Brammo-based machines added a good dose of intrigue, and attention was paid.
The machines are faster, teams and riders are enthusiastic, race fans are coming around, and the technology is relevant. But the general murmur was that until the electric machines can do more than one 37 ¾ mile lap at race speeds, there will be an asterisk next to the TT Zero as a full-fledged TT race.
Will there be a TT World Series?
There was very little chatter about the subject on the island during the TT. No doubt the IOM government and a number of promoters are looking to create a global series of TT-branded races to begin in 2017, culminating at the IOM TT each June. I say it happens, but I wouldn’t bet the contents of my TT savings box on the long-term viability.
We hope you enjoy the Motorcycle.com 2015 TT video. See you next year for TT 2016!
Zero Motorcycles swept the podium at the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In partnership with Hollywood Electrics, the team successfully defended its title as fastest in the production electric motorcycle class. 2015 marks the third consecutive year that a Zero motorcycle took the overall win in the category. This year, the riders chose to compete on the Zero SR model.
Scot Harden, vice president of Global Marketing at Zero, was on hand for the event. “Zero Motorcycles is extremely proud of the results and effort put forth by the Hollywood Electrics team,” said Harden. “Their passion for electric motorcycles and racing is second to none, as proven again at the world’s most prestigious hill climb event. Our heartfelt thanks to Harlan Flagg and Thomas Ito, as well as the racers, Jeff Clark, Nathan Barker, Brandon Nozaki Miller and the entire Hollywood Electrics support crew.”
Jeff Clark defended his production electric motorcycle class title with a time of 12:06.346, followed by Nathan Barker in second at 12:37.161, and Brandon Nozaki Miller in third at 13:10.894. Beyond the production class, Zero powered the fastest overall electric motorcycle in the modified electric category, as ridden by Yoshihiro Kishimoto. Kishimoto posted a blistering time of 10:58.861, which was good for 29th of all vehicles entered.
2015 may be remembered as a tipping point for electric vehicle racing, as the fastest vehicle at the event was an electric car driven by multiple Pikes Peak Hill Climb winner, Rhys Millen. “Whether it’s on two wheels or four, electric technology is progressing at an astonishing rate,” said Scot Harden of Zero Motorcycles. “Electric vehicles are now undeniably a force to be reckoned with in international competition.”
Suzuki announced a new mid-term management plan outlining its goals for the next five years leading up to the company’s 100th anniversary in 2020. The “Suzuki Next 100” plan outlines the company’s goal to return sales to above pre-recession levels.
The Suzuki Next 100 plan follows a three-part mission statement:
Develop products of superior value by focusing on the customer;
Establish a refreshing and innovative company through teamwork; and
Strive for individual excellence through continuous improvement.
The plan calls for shortening its development period, consolidating manufacturing and increasing productivity at its main motorcycle plant in Hamamatsu, Japan, by 30%.
Suzuki has had the toughest time of the Big Four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, recovering from the 2008 economic downturn. The recession turned a company record of 3.5 trillion yen in 2007 into just 2.4 trillion yen in 2009. It took until the fiscal year ended March 30 this year for Suzuki’s net sales to return to the 3 trillion yen mark.
One of the key challenges Suzuki faces is returning its motorcycle business to profitability. While its automobile sales have returned annual profits (even despite pulling out of the U.S. market in 2012), its motorcycle operations have struggled. Since the 2008 recession, Suzuki’s motorcycle division has recorded an annual profit just one time, a net profit of 100 million yen from the 2013 fiscal year. That’s small potatoes, considering Suzuki’s motorcycle business averaged an annual net loss of 8.8 billion yen since the 2008 fiscal year.
To spur this turnaround, Suzuki plans to develop products that exhibit the company’s characteristics. Suzuki says it will pursue “fun-to-ride and easy-to-ride” motorcycles with a focus on three basic elements of performance: running, cornering and braking. Suzuki’s new MotoGP program will play a vital role, with its new technologies influencing production models.
For developed markets, Suzuki plans to strengthen sales of parts and accessories. For emerging markets such as Asia, Suzuki plans to consolidate its local manufacturing operations and strengthen its sales network for larger displacement models.
By the 2019 fiscal year, Suzuki hopes to sell two million motorcycles worldwide, a 13.6% increase from the 1.76 million motorcycles sold in the 2014 fiscal year. For North America, Suzuki targets a 50% growth in sales to 60,000 from the 43,000 sold in 2014.
The Highway Runaways Ride is inspired by the infamous Avis and Effie Hotchkiss ride in 1915, when the mother and daughter became the first women to ride their Harley-Davidsons across the U.S. Lana MacNaughton leads a modern day celebration of how women riders are unleashing their rebellious spirit and living life on their terms.
Distinguished for her “Women’s Moto Exhibit,” MacNaughton is leading four of her closest female friends on a cross country Harley-Davison motorcycle journey, starting July 3, when she kicks off the ride in Brooklyn, New York. This four-week tour will end in San Francisco.
Specializing in the photography of the modern-day female motorcyclists, MacNaughton has dedicated her career to capturing and revealing the courageous and beautiful women who live to ride. During the 4,500-mile trek, MacNaughton will collect stories from women riders and take photographs of those who share her passion for the open road.
“This ride embodies the spirit of strong and powerful women. Riding a Harley is about escaping the authority and the structure of mundane life; running away is our dream and it has now become our reality,” says MacNaughton.
In a survey commissioned by Harley-Davidson, a majority of women riders said that motorcycling made them happier, more confident and feel sexier. MacNaughton is providing a glimpse into motorcycling on these terms, using her camera to capture experiences along way. The pictures will be posted on both Lana and Harley-Davidson’s social media channels at @womensmotoexhibit and @harleydavidson, using #hwyrunaways.
A Highway Runaways Kickoff Party takes place on July 2, at The Shop in Brooklyn, 234 Starr Street. The party, presented by Harley-Davidson, starts at 5:30 p.m. and lasts until close. The night features bands, bikes, beer, a special guest speaker and a chance to meet the women of the ride.
Once on the road, Lana and the others will ride through the Southeast, then across the southern U.S. before heading west to their final stop. They will visit Atlanta, Nashville, Austin, Albuquerque, Denver, and Reno. Along the way, they will stop at Southern Devil Harley-Davidson, Cartersville, Ga. (July 5) and Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson, Denver (July 22). The Highway Runaways Ride concludes in San Francisco, after logging some 4,500 miles and hundreds of memories. MacNaughton’s Women’s Moto Exhibit is also being featured at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee during its Custom Bike Show Weekend, Sept. 4-6, 2015.
The Highway Runaways Ride showcases women’s spirit to break down barriers and ride in their style. Visit www.h-d.com/women for more inspiration and information about MacNaughton and the Highway Runaways Ride, and the many opportunities available for women to start their own riding experiences or take their motorcycling journey to the next level.
About Lana MacNaughton
Lanakila MacNaughton is a Portland based photographer and motorcyclist. After developing a passion for motorcycles in her early twenties, she started documenting the many facets of motorcycle culture through her lens shooting in medium format on a Hasselblad CM. MacNaughton is the creator of renowned traveling exhibition “The Women’s Moto Exhibit” documenting the new wave of modern female motorcyclists—revealing the brave, courageous and beautiful women that live to ride. The show promotes a new perception of female empowerment and inspires an independence and liberation through motorcycling. Lana aims to discover female riders from diverse communities, riding backgrounds, styles and influence finding connectivity amongst riders from these different areas—ultimately changing the way women are perceived not only in the motorcycle community but society as a whole.
Aftermarket exhaust manufacturer, Hindle, is offering their stainless steel rear stands at a $49 discount; from $129 to $80. Better yet, if you’re a US motorcyclist you’ll enjoy an extra 15-20% discount with the current exchange rate. Shipping costs are not included but it’s still a darn good deal. Check it out at Hindle.com or call 905-985-6111.
The 93rd running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb offered a lot of surprises, including the first electric-powered overall winner, a modified Buell with a girder fork and a snow and hail storm that shortened the race for some competitors. The official times remain to be confirmed because of the shortened course, but all of the motorcycle entries were done before the weather set in.
Honda test rider Jeffrey Tigert led all 62 motorcycle entries with a time of 10:02.735 on a CBR1000RR. Tigert’s time put him tenth overall in all classes, and nearly a minute behind the overall winner, Rhys Millen who completed the climb in the eO PP03, an electric car from Latvia.
Second place among all motorcycles (and also in the heavyweight motorcycle class) was Travis Newbold on the Ronin Oishi Yoshio, with a time of 10:18.514. The Ronin (pictured below) is one of 47 motorcycles produced by firearms maker Magpul based on Buell motorcycles it acquired after Harley-Davidson shut down the brand in 2009. While the other 46 Ronin are based on old Buell 1125R, the Oishi Yoshio is based on an Erik Buell Racing 1190RX. Like the other Ronin, Newbold’s motorcycle used a girder front suspension with an integrated radiator. The Ronin is a radical machine, but it’s hard to argue against a second-place finish among all motorcycles.
The middleweight motorcycle class was led by JD Mosley with a time of 10:48.839 on a Triumph Daytona 675, followed by Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R rider Joseph Toner. Codie Vahsholtz won the lightweight motorcycle class on a KTM SMR, an impressive result considering he finished ahead of all bu the lead two middleweight bikes with a time of 10:50.421.
Yoshihiro Kishimoto took the modified electric motorcycle class with a time of 10:58.861 riding a Mirai TT Zero 13. Jeff Clark was the winner of the production electric class, clocking in at 12:06.346 on a Zero SR.
It was a disappointing result for Don Canet and the Victory Project 156 prototype. Despite crashing during the second section of the course, the Victory was still leading the UTV/Exhibition class in the fourth and final section before retiring with less than two miles to go. Canet was running at a good pace, with a split time of 1:51.423 in the first section the second fastest time among all motorcycles behind Tigert.
“We may not have ended up with the result we all wanted today – but I can say that the Project 156 represents the two things that Victory stands for – performance and exhilaration,” says Gary Gray, Polaris Motorcycles Product Director. “We got the bike back down to the pits after the race, and were able to fire it up. It looks like the crash may have resulted in an electrical issue that ended this run for Project 156. The team is investigating to find the specific issue, and we want to bring Project 156 back to the race again.”
In other two-wheeled results, Keith Speir won the vintage motorcycle class on a 1969 Triumph while Nick Robinson and his CRF250R won the Pikes Peak 250 class.
[Source: Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Victory, Ronin, Honda]
When it comes to sportbike performance I’ve always advocated for lighter weight over higher horsepower. A few recent events have augmented exactly why concentrating on weight reduction is time and money better spent than on increasing power production.
Soon we’ll be posting Sean Alexander’s exclusive first street test of Kawasaki’s H2. We dyno’d Team Green’s supercharged halo bike to the tune of 193.7 hp at 12,000 rpm and 92.2 lb-ft of torque. Impressive figures, to say the least. Less impressive is the H2’s wet weight of 525 pounds, giving the H2 a ratio of 2.7 pounds per horsepower.
Comparably, BMW’s S1000RR, the horsepower winner of our forthcoming superbike shootout extravaganza, spun the drum to an equally impressive 182.9 at 13,100 rpm and 79.9 lb-ft at 9600 rpm, giving it a ratio of 2.5 pounds per horsepower. Not a huge disparity in straight line performance between the two but a significant detriment to the H2’s braking and cornering prowess.
I understand the H2’s not a race bike. Kawasaki has the ZX-10R for that. Having accompanied Alexander during the street test of the H2 I can attest to it being a wonderfully balanced street motorcycle with a superbly stable chassis and braking power to match the bike’s insanely fast propulsion. But here’s where things get interesting.
Weighing 170ish, I have, give or take, a 80-pound weight advantage to Sean’s 250ish. Our first top-gear roll-on test with me aboard the BMW and him aboard the H2 was a clear win for the BMW. A second attempt cemented the BMW’s dominance, or so we thought. Swapping bikes – adding his 80 pounds to the BMW and lightening the H2’s load by 80 pounds with my body weight – gave the top-gear roll-on win to the H2.
Another, more extreme example of weight vs horsepower occurred during our recent superbike shootout, where EiC, Kevin Duke aboard the Honda CBR1000RR SP (150.4 hp at 10,500 rpm and 76.4 lb.-ft at 10,100) could pull-away from BMW S1K mounted Alexander in the middle of Laguna Seca’s front and back straights, even though Alexander was exiting the corners faster and actually closing on Duke at the beginning of each straight. Duke enjoys a 105-pound weight advantage over Alexander but the Honda suffers a whopping 32.5 horsepower deficit to the BMW. With similarly sized riders the S1000RR could simply walk-away from the Honda on the straights.
I know, I get that I’m talking about rider weights, but if you apply what’s so apparent in these examples to reducing the weight of a motorcycle you get my point. By lessening a bike’s weight not only do you achieve better acceleration, but also reap the benefits of a motorcycle that stops and turns better than its heavier, bigger horsepower counterparts.
It seems as though liter-class sportbikes have been stuck in the mid-400 pound weight category for quite some time and I’m unsure the reasons why. Yamaha’s new R1 with an aluminum fuel tank, and magnesium wheels and subframe tipped the scales at 438 pounds wet – a 16-pound reduction from the 454-pound claimed wet weight of the 2014 model. The original 1998 R1 weighed approximately 448 pounds full of fluids. Using it, that’s an average annual weight reduction of about a half-pound per year over 17 years. At least Ducati’s monocoque frame design of the Panigale gets its wet weight down to 427 pounds.
As much as I like the H2 and all its supercharged badassery, what would really make my hair stand on end would be the introduction of a new superbike producing a mere 150 horsepower but weighing 395 pounds dripping wet for a more affordable price than Honda’s RC213V-S. That’s a perfectly acceptable power to weight ratio of 2.6 pounds per hp, square in the middle of the BMW and H2. At the current average rate of reducing weight by a half-pound per year it’ll take about nine years to get there. I’d like the OEMs to speed up the process because any advantage gained at their current rate of weight reduction will be negated by my accelerating rate of middle-age weight gain.
Beginning in Spring and ending in Fall, the motorcycling season basically exists during the warmest time of the year. Staying cool while operating a motorcycle during these months heightens the experience by increasing a rider’s comfort. Maintaining a healthy temperature also increases a rider’s safety. We covered the obvious ways to keep your temperature in check with our Warm-Weather Buyer’s Guides for Boots, Jackets and Pants, Gloves. Here we look at a few additional, but no less important, ways to manage your personal thermostat.
You just have to love the creative yet simple innovation of Ventz product. Ventz allows a rider to maintain the protection a leather jacket provides while helping to exhaust the hot air that get trapped within. Portable and easily installed/removed, Ventz are a clever way in which to deal with summertime temperatures. Ventz are available in a variety of colors for approximately $31. Check out the science and order yours at Ventz.com.
On the opposite end of the technology spectrum from Ventz is the EntroSys BikeAir rider climate control system – fancy speak for mobile air-conditioning. The system straps to the rear seat or luggage rack, is powered by the motorcycle’s battery and is controlled via a wireless key fob remote. Three levels of cool (or warm) air is delivered to an air-vest worn underneath your protective gear. The EntroSys retails for $1,500 plus shipping and handling. For more info or to order check out www.bikeairusa.com.
Liquid Cooling Vest
Evaporative cooling is something your body does every time it sweats. An evaporative vest, such as the Rev’It Liquid Cooling Vest pictured enhances the process by absorbing and storing water, then releasing it over time. For best results, you’ll need a mesh jacket with air flow. When worn together the effect is truly refreshing on a hot summer’s day. Evaporative vests are available from apparel manufacturers from Alpinestars to TechNiche in a variety of sizes, styles, colors and prices.
Backpack Hydration System
In hot weather beneath protective motorcycle gear you’re going to sweat. Replenishing lost fluids is essential to avoiding heat stroke. The easiest way to stay hydrated is having water strapped to your person with an easily available access tube for sipping without distraction while in motion. John Burns recently tested the Kriega Hydro 3 Enduro Backpack, but of course there’s Camelbak as well as other brands.
Sometimes it’s just not about you. In this case it’s about your motorcycle. Without it all this other cooling stuff is without merit. Engine Ice, as well as Water Wetter and others, claim to reduce the engine operating temperature of your bike, thus improving its performance by way of reducing power loss from excess heat. Products such as these are available at your local dealer, auto parts store and online retailers. Prices vary.
Internal combustion engines create massive amounts of heat that radiates upward caressing your inner thighs, buttocks and lower torso (I can think of no better example than Ducati’s Panigale). Depending on the bike and its exhaust routing, one leg or another gets a second dousing of heat from the exiting spent gases. Electric motorcycles don’t’ suffer the same heating issues. Producing electricity does result in heat energy but not to the same intensity of compressing and burning petrol. We’re not saying a Zero SR is an acceptable replacement for a Panigale, but for running errands, commuting to work and other mundane tasks in hot temperatures, why ride atop a volcano when you could be riding a first-gen microwave.
Kool Off Tie
Even something as simple as Aerostitch’s Kool Off Tie can provide some measure off relief in hot climes. The cotton tie is filled with water-absorbing polymer crystals which hold up to 400 times their weight in water and then releases slowly. At $6 the Kool Off Tie is incredibly affordable. Order yours at aerostich.com.
Alpinestars Pro Coolmax Socks
The right pair of socks can go a long way in reducing the effects of the sauna inside your riding boots. Alpinestars’ Pro Coolmax Socks are constructed from Coolmax material that helps keep your feet cool and dry. The breathable, moisture-wicking material promotes evaporative cooling and helps dry sweaty feet. Hot weather socks are available from numerous apparel companies in a wide variety of prices.
Kawasaki Motors (KMC) announced today that the manufacturer has joined the growing list of OEM exhibitors set to take part in the third annual American International Motorcycle Expo (AIMExpo) being held October 15–18, 2015 at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando. Kawasaki returns for its second year, where it will again host public debuts of new products for the 2016 model year.
“We are delighted to be returning to AIMExpo for a second year and will again use this opportunity to bring a number of new products to the marketplace,” said Kevin Allen, Kawasaki Manager, PR + Brand Experience. “The ability to connect with the global media, our dealer network and the general public were key factors that contributed to our decision to return to Orlando. We’re looking forward to building on the success we had last year as we bring an even more engaging and personalized experience to the show floor.”
Kawasaki will unveil an all-new exhibitor display featuring the very latest in interactive technologies to engage, entertain and inform the wide variety of attendees – media, retailer and consumer – at booth #239 inside the OCCC. The space will showcase the performance brand’s array of two- and four-wheel products, including the recently unveiled Z800 ABS mid-level streetfighter and KX450F off-road bike, in addition to the MULE PRO Series and Teryx families of side by sides.
Inside Kawasaki’s booth will be an exclusive Vulcan S Ergo-Fit area designed to help riders establish a custom fit aboard the entry-level cruiser that was debuted last year at AIMExpo. Alongside the fully adjustable Vulcan S product line will be a showcase of custom-built Vulcan S motorcycles designed by some of the top bike builders in the nation. The lineup of custom cruisers will first be unveiled at a special event at the Ace Cafe Orlando.
“From its worldwide media unveiling of the Vulcan S cruiser last year in the Chapin Theater prior to the opening of trade days, to hosting their dealer network and interacting with consumers, Kawasaki leveraged the AIMExpo platform to its full potential and advantage,” said Larry Little, Vice President and General Manager of AIMExpo. “And the grand stage that we envisioned for AIMExpo was on full display with the North American debut of the radical Ninja H2R motorcycle, generating an amazing amount of media from the show floor in Orlando. We’re thrilled to have Kawasaki back for its second year and look forward to seeing all of their 2016 models on display in Orlando.”
Fresh off of his dramatic victory at the TT Assen, Valentino Rossi hopped aboard a plane to England for his first ever appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. At Goodwood, Rossi rode his M1 in classic speedblock yellow to mark the 60th anniversary of Yamaha Motor Co.
“I was barely off the podium before immediately heading to the United Kingdom, but I’m very happy that I got to attend the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, it has been a real pleasure!” says Rossi. “I knew about the event because I saw videos of it, but I had never been there before and it’s even more impressive than I imagined.”
Rossi took the M1 on a demonstration ride through Goodwood’s 1.16-mile course, a hill climb with a 300 foot rise.
The current MotoGP points leader was joined by other former Yamaha World Champions Kenny Roberts, Giacomo Agostini and Phil Read.
On display were Read’s 1965 RD56, Agostini’s 1975 YZR500 OW23, Roberts’ 1978 YZR750 OW31 and Rossi’s current M1.
“For Yamaha Motor to be a part of motorsport history for so long and to have achieved so many accomplishments is very special and something to be proud of,” says Rossi. “At the end of the day I also got to drive a historic Le Mans car and also a rally car, which was great fun as well.”
The prototype machine built by Victory Motorcycles with Roland Sands Design quit running less than 2 miles from the finish line at Pikes Peak yesterday. The DNF brought to an unceremonious halt the much-hyped effort piloted by Cycle World’s Don Canet. Interestingly, there appeared to be “radio silence” from the Project 156 team for several hours […]... Click Here for Article
This will be the last everyday bag youll ever buy and youll be mad at us for not making it available for you until now. Sorry about that. Interior and exterior pockets will keep you organized. Proper padding and multiple strap adjustments will make sure you stay comfortable.
The butterfly harness is the quintessential element in American Kargos approach to comfort and stability in our rider-centric product line. We started here, and spent an awful lot of time here, testing and tweaking, because we know how important this component truly is. Incorporating multiple fit and fitting adjustments, and increased surface area, the straps are designed to work around your equipment and the way you move. Your chest, arms, shoulders and core were carefully considered. The butterfly harness creates the functionality you need for the riding experience you want. PRODUCT DETAILS
Reinforced abrasion resistant bottom for a longer life
Side pockets with elastic organizer/tool storage
Front of pack fully opens for easy access
Neoprene 2nd pocket w/ secure strap
Double needle seam construction
2 Side stash pockets
9 interior pockets including fleece lined optics pocket & storage for tools / electronics
Dimensions: 19" H x 12" W x 8" D
Fabric: PVC Backed 600D
From Greater Toronto Area Motorcycle forum. Link: here
Includes two HBC200 control units
2 high-fidelity speakers with embedded microphones
Brackets for mounting controller to helmets
Velcro speaker mounts for attaching speakers to helmet
The HBC200 Force (Dual) Powersports Communications System is the perfect connection for couples, friends, and families. Dual system includes two HBC200 speaker/microphone sets, complete with advanced features for extended range, multimember groups, and enhanced voice clarity. All at one great price.
- Connect in many ways. The latest Bluetooth technology allows you to make and take cell phone calls, connect directly with others, and listen to your favorite music.
- Include everybody in the conversation. Full-duplex intercom system expands connection availability to an unlimited amount of riders in your group and increases the connection range up to .4 miles between each HBC200 unit.
- Make sure they hear what youre saying. Boomless mic, high-quality speakers, and noise suppression and patented ABF® technologies eliminate road and engine noise and other ambient sounds for clear conversations.
- Talk to the lead rider even when you cant see him. With 10 users connected, Multi-Hop Technology® extends maximum range to nearly 4 miles and allows non-line-of-sight connections.
- Ride in any weather. Water and temperature resistance. Operating temperature from -30ºC (-20ºF) to 60ºC (140ºF) ensures reliable operation even in extreme weather.
- Keep your hands on the handlebars. Voice-activated pick-up allows hands-free operation.
- Get going. Installs in most helmets quickly and easily
From Greater Toronto Area Motorcycle forum. Link: here
HBC200 control unit
2 high-fidelity speakers with embedded microphones
Brackets for mounting controller to helmets
Velcro speaker mounts for attaching speakers to helmet
The HBC200 Force Powersports Communications System includes all the great features of the HBC100 system, plus advanced features for extended range, multimember groups, and enhanced voice clarity.
- Connect in many ways. Latest Bluetooth technology allows you to make and take cell phone calls, connect directly with others, and listen to your favorite music.
- Include everybody in the conversation. Full-duplex intercom system expands connection availability to an unlimited amount of riders in your group and increases the connection range up to .4 miles between each HBC200 unit.
- Make sure they hear what youre saying. Boomless mic, high-quality speakers, and noise suppression and patented ABF® technologies eliminate road and engine noise and other ambient sounds for clear conversations.
- Talk to the lead riders even if you cant see them. With 10 users connected, Multi-Hop Technology® extends maximum range to nearly 4 miles and allows non-line-of-sight connections.
- Firmware upgradable. With firmware 2.07 you can connect to other brand Bluetooth helmet communicators, connect to multiple devices with multi-point connectivity and enjoy advanced private intercom.
- Ride in any weather. Water and temperature resistant. Operating temperature from -30ºC (-20ºF) to 60ºC (140ºF) ensures reliable operation even in extreme weather.
- Keep your hands on the handlebars. Voice-activated pick-up allows hands-free operation.
- Get going! The HBC200 installs in most helmets quickly and easily
From Greater Toronto Area Motorcycle forum. Link: here