Adventure bikes are one of the trendiest motorcycle segments today, but for every ADV review or unveiling we publish, it’s become de rigueur for commenters to ask “…but how often are people actually going to ride these off-road anyways?” It’s a fair question, as a lot of so-called adventure-tourers will rarely stray off the tarmac.
But many do take their bikes off-road, and not just on the odd fire road. If you’re interested in starting, why not take some inspiration from Red Bull-sponsored racer and off-road riding coach Chris Birch showing his skills on the KTM 1190 Adventure R in his native New Zealand:
A Red Bull Romaniacs and Roof of Africa winner, Birch has also been teaching off-road riding since 2005. While most of his programs are in New Zealand and Australia, Birch also runs courses at various locales around the world. For m0re information, visit http://chrisbirch.co.nz.
An In-Depth Profile on GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac AURORA, Ill. (April 24, 2015) -Monster Energy Supercross Behind the Dream, the acclaimed eight-episode documentary series, will premiere its seventh installment this Sunday, April 26, at 11:30 a.m. EDT/ 8:30 a.m. PDT on FOX Sports 1. The latest episode will profile the breakout 2015 season of GEICO […]... Click Here for Article
Sure everybody wants the Open-class bike, the most power, the most expensive, the one with all the electronic stuff, just like everybody wants the trophy mate with the big cylinders. Then after you’ve lived with them for a few years, the maintenance, the narcissism, the psychic wear and tear of constantly stoking the beast’s ego and keeping up with the Joneses can get to be a drag.
There you are on yet another Tom Roderick-style Caribbean cruise, smoke pouring from the VISA card as you spring for more lobster and Moët et Chandon while trying hard to maintain that boyish witty veneer. When you finally break free to the ship’s rail to sneak a desperately needed Marlboro Light, you spot a gray old couple in a rented rowboat with a box of cheap chardonnay and a White Castle bag, laughing deliriously and apparently having a much better time than you are.
These three motorcycles are nothing like that at all, really, but it was a fun coping exercise for me. Sorry. Let’s get on with the road test.
The Kawasaki Versys 650 has long been on our short list of favorite bikes, and for 2015 it’s received a thorough makeover, with svelte new bodywork including a height-adjustable windscreen, a new 5.5-gallon fuel tank and a roomier new ergonomic triangle. Power-wise, a little ECU retuning, a new exhaust and a bump in compression ratio to 10.8:1 are claimed to produce a little more high-rpm power. While the 649cc parallel-Twin is churning out all that nutrient-rich juice, the new Versys also gets a pair of rubber front engine mounts to go with the rear one it got in 2010, and the handlebars are now rubber-mounted as well. Our boy Sean wrote about all of it in his excellent First Ride last December.
And in this corner, in the blue trunks and wearing a surprised expression that appears to have absorbed many a punch, weighing in at exactly 20 pounds more and producing eight more horsepower, the Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS.
This one was last overhauled by Suzuki for the 2012 model year, when it received firmer suspension and a bunch of new engine pieces designed to reduce friction and boost its fuel efficiency by 10%. Happily, its 645cc 90-degree Twin makes substantially more power than the other two bikes here.
Rock not included.
Least like the other two but not at all in a bad way, the Honda NC700X arrived as a brand-new model for 2012, with an all-new long-stroke parallel-Twin that seems to focus more on maximum efficiency than high performance. The NC’s available with Honda’s automatic DCT transmission (in a package that also gets ABS brakes for only $600 more), but for this comparison we opted for the manual 6-speed gearbox, which keeps the NC’s weight down to less than the V-Strom’s, and undercuts both bikes in price by a substantial chunk.
That would be suave, courteous and refined in manner – particularly in a big-city setting – which is of critical importance in our little Southern California corner of the world. To get to where the fun begins, you’re always going to have to soldier through where the work takes place. Which is also perversely fun on the right bike.
V-Strom 650 owners are a loyal bunch, and past tests of it on MO and elsewhere never fail to praise the bike for its great seat, smooth compliant ride and good weather protection. It’s a bike that excels when you’re riding it and don’t have to look at it (though its dash remains the Wal-Martiest of the bunch). But this year, the worm has turned: With the Versys’ new, bigger fairing and windscreen, its newfound legroom and its new buzz-kill rubber engine mounts, it’s the Kawasaki that emerges on top of the ScoreCard in the Ergonomics/ Comfort category.
Parallel universe: Note the Versys’ new rubber engine mounts (just northwest of the coolant hose), also new one-piece exhaust and the easy-to-get-to shock preload adjuster knob just above the spring.
It’s all relative: The V-Strom’s 90-degree Twin used to feel so smooth rumbling there beneath you, but ridden alongside the Versys’ new rubber-mounting system and the Honda’s low-revving long-stroke Twin, suddenly this V-Strom feels a bit busy at 80 miles per and 6500 rpm. The Versys is turning about the same rpm, but its vibes are now completely absent from grips, pegs and seat, and with fresh earplugs inside a nice Shoei, its cockpit is the quietest. With its 15mm lower/20mm forward new footpegs, everybody liked the Versys ergos the best even though its cushy seat is a bit narrower than the V-Strom’s.
This time, the NC tied the V-Strom for second-most comfy. Even Terrible Tom Roderick, who normally has nothing but harsh words for the unassuming Honda, admits it’s a superior city bike: “Rider ergonomics of the NC are the epitome of a neutral seating position. There’s also plenty of legroom for taller folk, and a soft yet supportive seat upon which to sit. It’s a motorcycle you can truly, comfortably sit atop all day, not feeling worse for the wear when you dismount. When kept within the confines of each bike’s intended purpose, the NC700X is by far the best urban motorcycle of these three – perfect for the motorcyclist living in San Francisco without a car.”
Brilliant. The locking boot will contain a helmet or a 12-pack; 3.7 gallons of gas goes under the seat (and makes the NC feel light and controllable), which is enough for 200-plus mile range given the NC’s awesome 60-plus mpg.
I’m going to have to “amen” him on that. Any sort of adventure involves carrying things, and if you want to do that on either the Versys or the V-Strom, you’ll be ponying up an extra $700 for the Versys LT, or over $10K for the V-Strom Adventure or the new V-Strom XT. The base NC700X Honda comes with storage right where the gas tank used to be, no extra charge. It doesn’t hold as much as two saddlebags, but it also doesn’t make the bike any wider, which can be a big deal if you live someplace as cheek-by-jowl as San Francisco. The NC’s marsupial appendage is more convenient than selective memory when you’re running for office.
Nothing could be much simpler than loosening those two knobs to slide the Versys’ windscreen up and down a few inches. Both hand levers are adjustable.
Okay, so these are more practical motorcycles than most, but just because you’re mature doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be fun to ride … wait … The conventional wisdom says the V-Strom’s 19-inch front wheel and Bridgestone Trail Wing tires are going to make it most “off-road” worthy and most adventurous, for riders who want to recreate Long Way Round or whatever, but they’re still cast wheels instead of spoked ones (the new V-Strom 650 XT ABS gets wire-spoked wheels, panniers and crash bars for $10,399), and now that Continental makes TKC-80s in 17-inch sizes too, the V-Strom’s 19-in. front isn’t such an advantage. Throw in that the Versys weighs 20 pounds less than the V-Strom, and there’s really no reason why you couldn’t go just as many ill-advised places on it. Or the NC for that matter, which also weighs 2 pounds less than the Suzuki, carries its weight really low, and has an even stonkier motor.
As for the MO crew, we have no time for Patagonia; Azusa is more our typical adventure, and for unravelling our favorite two-lanes up in the San Gabriels, the new Versys again carries the day. The V-Strom makes more power and torque, but all three of us liked the Versys’ engine better anyway, and the Versys blows the V-Strom out of the water in the Handling portion on the official MO ScoreCard – also Suspension and Brakes. What’s going on really is that the Versys’ chassis is so buttoned-down and communicative, it encourages you to twist the throttle earlier and longer – and the tighter the road, the easier it is for whoever’s on the Versys to open a gap.
In fact the V-Strom peaks with 8 whole hp more than the Versys (and 15 more than the NC), but its plusher suspension and skinnier front tire don’t give it quite the confidence on pavement; off it, the roles are reversed. Tom says: “The larger front hoop of the `Strom (coupled with a wheelbase longer than the other two) makes for a comparably slower steering bike when being measured for its sportiness. This disadvantage on the street turns into an asset as soon as you leave the pavement. For riders who prefer stability over agility, the Strom is the bike of choice among this trio.”
The NC signs off early, but it’s doing good work at only 2500 rpm. None of these bikes are horsepower monsters, but all of them seem to have all you need about 99% of the time in the non-virtual adult world.
Trizzle agrees, saying, “while Burnsie and Roderick were romping through the hills on the Honda and Kawi, I was having a tough time on the Strom trying to keep up, that large and skinny front tire not providing much confidence on pavement. However, if you want a bike that’ll tear up the twisties, what are you doing looking at the Strom, anyway?”
Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
63 horses is the most
Biggest, widest seat and cockpit
It’s the one you’d least mind crashing
Why is the oldest bike the most expensive?
If you think traction control’s for weenies, here’s your bike.
Fit and finish is not its strong suit
It’s fitting that the V-Strom is the most likely to become involved in an abusive off-road relationship, since it’s already the most agrarian looking. A good skidplate to shield its exposed organs is a necessity, as it is on the others.
Some of the children had mean things to say about the Honda before the ride, but I’m gratified to see that at the end of the test and back at our desks, we all agree it handles a bit better than the V-Strom and equals that bike in the suspension category. It’s still hard for some of us to get past the Honda’s 6500-rpm redline – the same problem lots of riders had with the old Sportster-based Buell XBs. Sure it only revs to 6500, but the NC’s 670cc Twin is already putting out more torque than the other two bikes ever will, at only 4200 rpm instead of 7200. You will bump into the rev limiter a few times while acclimating, but the 6-speed box works fine and clutch pull is nice and light.
The 6-speed is really good if you already know how to shift anyway
Every bike should be able to carry a basketball in its gas tank
Seems like this one’s going to be way economical in the long run
Less protection from the elements than the other two
A turbocharger wouldn’t hurt it
The storage compartment isn’t refrigerated
Granted, the NC is down on horsepower to the Versys and V-Strom, but it never gets dropped very far behind, especially on the way down the mountain. Geometry- and weight-wise it’s nearly identical to the V-Strom, but with a 17-inch front tire that gives it more solid front-end feel. Then, when it’s time to hit the freeway, cruising at 4000 rpm is way more relaxing than 6500; like the Versys, the Honda cruises serenely along with very little or no vibration reaching the rider. I promise I won’t mention the 60 mpg again, which is on the order of 50% better than the Versys.
Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS
Modern, mass-centralized, quick-handling tight little package
More comfortable, smoother-running and refined than ever
Big 5.5-gallon tank and better wind protection than before
Almost inspires us to go all Walden pond and get rid of our other bikes
Makes it hard to justify spending more than $8K for any vehicle
No 10% off for AARP members
New Pecking Order
Amongst midsize bikes with beaks, the V-Strom finds itself at the bottom of this trio in spite of making the most power. The old SV V-Twin is still a pip, but its containment vessel is suddenly a bit leaky and creaky, and the fact that it’s the priciest motorcycle here doesn’t help any in this price-conscious market segment. “Hasn’t Suzuki payed off the tooling for this bike already?” asks Siahaan. “Having the highest price tag here is a little strange.”
Speaking of dollars if we must be so crass, for $1100 less than the V-Strom, Honda’s still slightly revolutionary NC700X overcame its horsepower deficit to eke out a second-place finish ahead of the venerable V-Strom. It’s not quite as sporty as the new Versys and not quite as adventurous as the V-Strom, but it’s close on both counts. And we all agree it’s the undisputed around-town king of the group – and a great, smooth travelling companion to boot.
Emerging as the clear winner at the end of the official MO ScoreCard, though, is Kawasaki’s new and improved Versys: $7,999 gets you an ABS-equipped super-versatile, super-comfortable and ridiculously sporty motorcycle that’ll keep up with just about anything as long as you steer clear of closed circuits, and $700 more for the LT (with Kawasaki’s excellent KQR bags and handguards) transforms it into one of the best mid-sized touring bikes money can procure. Not only is it a good time to be a motorcyclist, it’s a good time to be a sophisticated mature(ish) adult.
Midsize Urbane Adventurers Scorecard
Versys 650 ABS
V-Strom 650 ABS
Quality, Fit & Finish
Midsize Urbane Adventurers Specs
Kawasaki Versys 650 ABS
Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS
(DCT ABS: $8,099)
(650 LT $8,699)
670cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin
649cc liquid-cooled, parallel-Twin
645cc liquid-cooled 90-degree V-Twin
Bore and Stroke
73.0 x 80.0 mm
83.0 x 60.0mm
81.0 x 62.6mm
PGM-FI (one) 36mm throttle body
DFI with two 38mm throttle bodies
Computer-controlled digital transistorized with electronic advance
TCBI with digital advance
SOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
DOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
EPA, CARB compliant
47.7 @ 6400
54.9 @ 8200 rpm
63.2 @ 9000 rpm
42.6 @ 4700
38.9 @ 7200 rpm
41.0 @ 7250 rpm
6-speed; multi-plate wet clutch
6-speed, multi-plate wet clutch, positive neutral finder
6-speed, wet disc type
41mm fork; 5.4 in. travel
41mm inverted fork; adjustable spring preload and rebound damping, 5.9 in. travel
43mm fork; adjustable spring preload, 5.9 in. travel
Pro-Link single shock, adjustable spring preload; 5.9 in. travel
Single shock; remote adjustable spring preload, 5.7 in. travel
Single shock; adjustable rebound damping and remote spring preload adjuster, 6.3 in. travel
Single 320mm disc; 2-piston calipers (ABS optional)
Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston calipers, ABS
Dual 310mm disc, ABS
Single 240mm disc; single-piston caliper
Single 250mm petal disc with single-piston caliper, ABS
260mm disc, aBS
27° / 4.3 in. (110mm)
25° / 4.3 in. (109mm)
26°/ 4.3 in. (109mm)
Tested Fuel Economy
Candy Lime Green, Pearl Stardust White
Midnight Black, Racing White, Intense Yellow
One year, Transferable, unlimited-mileage limited warranty
In Part 1 of this series, we reviewed the Husqvarna FE 501 S dual sport with parts added (notably, 17″ wheels and street rubber) converting it to an ultra-light street legal supermoto. Before comparing the two, this story will focus on the KTM 390 Duke ABS, the other machine in our lightweight street legal single […]... Click Here for Article
Because there is such a variety of vehicle and driver characteristics taken into consideration in order to derive a premium rate, it really depends. For example, vehicle make and model are two characteristics we have to consider and some two-wheel motorcycles will cost more, some will be less expensive, and some will be the exact price (given that vehicle make and model are the only differences in comparing two policies).
It’s best to talk through your options with your independent agent or insurer, and at Progressive we encourage customers to insure their trike conversion kit as Accessory coverage. That’s pretty technical so let me give you an example. You can take a stock Harley cruiser and convert it into a trike. That conversion kit can cost between $10k-$15k, so in order for customers to be fully insured, we encourage them to purchase Accessory coverage to at least match the cost of the conversion kit. Without doing so, only the free $3k of Accessory coverage would be applied to the cost of the trike conversion in the event of a total loss. That additional Accessory coverage isn’t expensive, but it would make the cost to insure the trike more expensive than the two-wheeled counterpart.
-Scott Hall, Motorcycle Product Manager at Progressive Insurance
Harley-Davidson is recalling multiple 2014 and 2015 touring models because of a clutch problem. The recall affects 45,901 motorcycles from the following models:
2014 CVO Road King
2014-2015 Electra Glide Ultra Classic
2014-2015 Ultra Limited
2014-2015 Street Glide
2014-2015 Street Glide Special
2014-2015 CVO Street Glide
2015 Electra Glide Ultra Classic Low
2015 Ultra Limited Low
2015 Road Glide Special
2015 Road Glide
The affected motorcycles have black-painted clutch master cylinders. Chrome master cylinders and those purchased from Harley-Davidson’s Parts & Accessories are not included in the recall.
According to documents released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a chemical reaction in the clutch system may generate gas bubbles that can prevent the clutch from disengaging after the motorcycle has been parked for an extended period. Customers may notice a large amount of free play in the clutch lever when this occurs.
Harley-Davidson began investigating the issue in October 2014 after receiving eight warranty claims and two customer complaints about the clutch master cylinder. Harley-Davidson and its part supplier inspected the affected master cylinders and found evidence of gas generation in the DOT4 fluid. By January 2015, Harley-Davidson had received 15 reported incidents with two minor injuries.
An external chemist was called in to help with the investigation while Harley-Davidson contacted more customers for more information. An updated search found 313 warranty claims, 31 customer complaints and 27 accidents resulting in four minor injuries.
Harley-Davidson dealers will inspect recalled vehicles and, if necessary, flush the clutch system and rebuild the clutch master cylinder, replacing it if it shows signs of corrosion.
Harley-Davidson is recalling certain 2015 Street 750 and 500 motorcycles because they lack a rear reflector assembly. Rear reflectors are federally mandated equipment for all motor vehicles and Harley-Davidson says certain Street models were mistakenly left off.
U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108 requires vehicles to have red reflectors at the rear. A similar recall was also announced for Canada where the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard has the same requirement.
Harley-Davidson say it first discovered the issue on March 9 after a report from its Kansas City assembly plant where North American-bound Street models are produced. An investigation revealed the rear reflector assembly was not being added during the production process.
Dealers will install the rear reflector assembly to the license plate bracket on affected Street models.
The recall affects Street 750 models produced from May 12, 2014 to March 9, 2015 and Street 500 models produced Jan. 28, 2014 to March 9, 2015. Models produced after March 10 should have the reflector and are not affected by the recall. A total of 8,904 motorcycles in the U.S. are affected by the recall while in Canada, a further 381 motorcycles are affected.
The Ducati Scrambler and 1299 Panigale Superbike are now available for test rides at participating dealerships. Arriving soon is the all-new Multistrada 1200 DVT will be rolling off the production line soon. These three motorcycles can all be seen at local Ducati showrooms, which can be found through the dealer locator at www.ducati.com.
New York City, N.Y. (April 23, 2015) -Top riders from both the 450SX and 250SX Classes convened upon the historic Grand Central Station in the heart of Manhattan to kick-off the festivities for the return of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, to MetLife Stadium this Saturday. Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, recently […]... Click Here for Article
ATLANTA (April 23, 2015) – Triumph Motorcycles America is airing national television commercials as part of its global “For The Ride” brand slogan positioning. The 30- and 60-second spots dubbed “Voices” reaffirm and remind the audience of the classic nostalgia, timelessness and pure riding spirit the Triumph brand evokes. “For The Ride” and the current […]... Click Here for Article
We were shocked and saddened and bummed-out to hear about Erik Buell Racing’s latest financial setback last week, but maybe not completely surprised. When you’re out there on the edge of traction, sometimes you fall off, especially when you get bumped by corporate nabobs. This isn’t the first time our favorite motorcycle iconoclast has had an unplanned dismount. (I, for one, know the feeling…) But a big reason we love the man is because he never fails to get right back in the saddle. Another reason is because he doesn’t choose the path of least resistance and maximum profit and personal safety, preferring to build outrageous American motorcycles nobody else has had the courage to do since Al Crocker. Here’s to Erik and to hoping all the good people at EBR doing God’s work will, ahh, bounce back once again and keep doing it ASAP.
Polaris Industries reported a 74.1% increase in motorcycle sales revenue. According to the company’s first quarter 2015 report, the Indian and Victory brands, as well as the three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot, combined to rake in $137.4 million compared to $78.9 million in the same quarter of 2014.
Both Indian and Victory reported sales increases over the quarter, with Polaris claiming a 40% increase in customer retail demand while Slingshot sales also exceed expectations. Most of this success is due to the North American market as sales outside the continent were down 12% due to the strengthening U.S. dollar.
While Polaris’ motorcycle operations did well, it could have been much better. The adoption of a new paint system delayed production with Indian Scout shipments only beginning shipments late in the quarter. The new paint system is now fully operational and Polaris says progress is accelerating to meet a significant backlog of orders for all three brands.
Polaris expects its motorcycle businesses to maintain momentum through the year, forecasting a 55%-70% increase over 2014 sales total of $348.7 million.
Overall, Polaris Industries reported a net profit of $88.6 million over the first quarter compared to a profit of $80.9 million in the same quarter last year.
If you weren’t offended by the title of this post, then you won’t be offended by some of the verbiage in the song. It’s nothing more than a promotional video for Roland Sands Design (RSD), but it’s so damn funny we just had to share. Enjoy!
As part of its global “For The Ride” brand slogan positioning, Triumph is rolling out new 30- and 60-second national television commercials dubbed, “Voices.” The essence of the commercials is to reaffirm and remind the audience of the classic nostalgia, timelessness and pure riding spirit the Triumph brand evokes.
“For The Ride” and the current accompanying television, print and digital campaign surrounding the “Voices” spots, convey a universal motorcycling truth – the farther you ride, the softer the everyday voices and noises in your head become; the more miles logged, the freer you become from the daily grind. This truth connects to a wide audience of motorcycle enthusiasts and non-motorcyclists and is as relevant today as it will be in 25 years.
“Triumph’s last television campaign was in 2013, and we’re excited to be back on national networks connecting with a wide audience of riders and non-riders alike,” said Matt Sheahan, Chief Operating Officer for Triumph Motorcycles America. “Triumph is an iconic brand with a unique voice, and that spirit, character and soul are captured in the creative of this campaign.”
The “Voices” commercial begins in the streets of Los Angeles, Calif., and closes on an open, expansive salt flats, signifying the historical ties of the Bonneville motorcycle to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah where the bike earned its namesake. You can see the video below.
Who would’ve thought that people who ride supercharged Victory motorcycles would want to put on a smoke show? Well, your friendly MO testing team, for one. (Just look at the linked article’s lead photo.) However, if you really want to see burn outs going mobile, take a gander at these videos that Victory put together with the official Victory Stunt Team riders Tony Carbajal and Joe Vertical. After looking at this collection of mayhem, we can say with conviction that the JenningsGP track in north Florida.
There are action cameras that record great video, and there’s devices that record data such as acceleration, engine RPM, G forces, lap times, etc. Garmin’s new VIRB X and XE cameras combine these technologies into a single product.
The VIRB X and XE utilize internal sensors like the high-sensitivity GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope, and compatible devices and accessories like an HRM-Run, fēnix 3 multisport watch or Vector power meter to track movements in real time and capture more performance data. Additionally VIRB X and XE are compatible with Bluetooth-enabled OBD tools to capture true vehicle data like speed, RPM and throttle position. Users can analyze their power output by overlaying Vector data, show off high G-loading, re-live the runs made and vertical feet covered with the help of fēnix 3, or see the acceleration and highlight top speed on the racetrack. Waterproof to 50 meters, the updated camera design doesn’t require an external case for underwater shooting.
“With the updated design, enhanced recording options, built-in sensors and the introduction of G-Metrix, VIRB X and XE represent a bold step forward in the evolution of action cameras for consumers and professionals alike,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales. “We are extremely excited to bring these cameras to market, and see not only the content that users share, but also how far, how fast, and how crazy their adventures really are.”
VIRB X and XE will be available for purchase in summer 2015. VIRB X will have a suggested retail price of $299.99, and VIRB XE will have a suggested retail price of $399.99. For more information go to virb.garmin.com.
Action cameras have moved beyond their infancy, and much like the shift in language from calling all paper copies Xeroxes, they are no longer referred to by the brand name that made them ubiquitous. Regardless, GoPro remains the 800-lb. gorilla in the action-camera world, making the challenge for every new entry into the market to find a way to differentiate themselves. Sena entered this market late last year with its Prism camera adding to an already impressive line of Bluetooth communication devices. We’ve tested several Sena products and have been impressed with their quality in this quickly developing market.
What initially captured our attention with the Prism was the claim of full integration with Sena’s 20S Bluetooth communications system. With the push of a couple buttons, a 20S owner can start and stop recordings in addition to powering the Prism on and off. These abilities alone would warrant a closer look at the Prism, and they open up a whole range of mounting opportunities for the camera without having to waste battery power and (user-provided) Micro SD card memory by allowing users to only run the camera when it is needed. What really excited the MO staff was the ability to record our narration from our helmet using the 20S systems we already had installed. In the past, we’ve taped microphones into the helmet’s chin bar and carried digital recorders tucked into our jacket pockets to get riding comments.
Sena, being a Bluetooth communications company, leveraged the power of Bluetooth to ease the operation of the Prism. While all of the camera’s features can be accessed through the tiny LED screen on the camera’s side, lots of presses of the two buttons are required to navigate the Prism’s nested menu system. Sena has thoughtfully created a smartphone app (iOS and Android) that delivers full control of the Prism’s settings with ease. The only criticism we have with this method is that the iPhone required going to the Bluetooth settings menu to establish the wireless connection before switching to the app. Sena representatives have confirmed that this is an iPhone-specific issue that does not affect Android phones.
While the ease of wireless setup of the Prism is appreciated, a preview screen to assist in the camera’s framing is regrettably absent.
The settings available to the user are many. The camera’s view has two options, wide and medium, both of which are very wide as is typical in for action cameras. The video resolution and frame rate can be adjusted through the range of 1080p 30fps, 720p 30/60fps, and 480p 120fps. The video can even be flipped for the times that the Prism is mounted upside down. Still photos can be captured in formats varying from 3.0 MP to 5.0 MP. The lower resolutions allow for aspect ratios of 3:2, 3:5, and 16:9, while the 5.0 MP setting is restricted to 16:9. Burst shots of 3, 5, and 10 frames are available, as are time-lapse settings of a single frame at 1, 3, 5, 10, 30, and 60 second intervals. Time lapses can be saved as single frames or video files. The Prism’s still photo utility is hampered by the need to either press the button on the unit (which is just about impossible when riding) or holding a button on a paired headset for 1 second.
The Prism’s Bluetooth connection to a helmet communicator – and to a limited extent not just those wearing the Sena label – provides the camera’s two killer features. First, the camera can be controlled remotely via a helmet communicator. Most features are available from the headset via voice-driven menus. This allows the rider to quickly change settings on the side of the road without removing gear. The remote features most commonly used while riding are the deep sleep/awake battery-saving function and the recording start/stop. The deep-sleep mode vastly extends the Prism’s usable time by allowing the rider to save the battery while not capturing video.
We mentioned the second killer feature of the Prism at the outset of this article: the ability to record voice-over via Bluetooth. Including high-quality narration within the video will be appreciated by more than just vloggers and motojournalists. Depending on the helmet the microphone is mounted in, the audio can be quite clear with the Sena 20S’ noise-canceling capacity neutralizing much of the wind noise. Intercom conversations can also be recorded, although Sena states that the sound quality is reduced from Ultra HD Audio mode to Normal Audio Mode.
One final benefit of the Bluetooth audio bears mentioning: When any action camera is positioned directly in the wind blast, its built-in mic mostly records overmodulated wind noise with some engine sounds in the background. Even with the microphone sensitivity set to low and with the Prism in the waterproof housing, the wind noise can make the audio almost useless. Since the helmet microphone attached to the Sena 20S has noise-cancelling technology, the environmental audio is much clearer – though at a lower volume. Some around-town engine sounds are lost, but any highway riding using a 20S has a much nicer sound due to the lessened turbulence.
Multiple attachment points help to minimize video-ruining vibration.
Thanks to Apple, opening the packaging of an electronic device has become an event, and the Sena Prism is no different. The box top lifts upward to reveal the Prism, a waterproof case, and a smaller box with mounts and instructions. Lifting the plastic tray out of the box reveals an inner section with a dizzying array of mounting options all packaged in individual plastic bags. While we may have ordered the Prism for its connectivity options, we were thrilled by the mounting choices that were included as part of the standard package as opposed to extra-cost items that we probably wouldn’t have ordered for a while – thus limiting the flexibility of the system.
The mounts consist of stick-on flat surface mounts with two different camera mounts (one ball-leveling and one adjustable on the vertical axis – as typically seen on helmet top mounts), a handlebar mount, suction cup mount with single- or dual-cup mounting options, a goggle strap mount, and a slick helmet side mount. Since most people will start with a helmet mount, we’ll do the same.
The helmet clamp mount’s simplicity belies its sturdiness.
The Sena helmet clamp mount uses a metal plate that slips between the helmet’s padding and its shell, much in the way helmet communicators do. The exterior plate then is clamped to the shell via a pair of allen bolts. Thanks to the compact nature of the Prism’s design which places the small side of its box-shaped design forward, the helmet mount is remarkably compact. To avoid placing any more weight than necessary on the rider’s helmet, the water-resistant camera doesn’t require the protective waterproof accessory housing. Consequently, inserting the camera in the mount is as simple as inserting the bottom tab in the camera body and pressing the Prism towards the helmet until the camera slots into place with a solid click. On the camera’s initial installation the ball-adjuster on the mount simplifies the setting of the camera for the proper level for the helmet and the rider’s position on the motorcycle. Unfortunately, this is a trial-and-error process since there is no way to preview the Prism’s orientation.
The handlebar mount naturally attaches itself to the component from which it gets its name, but if we stopped there, we’d be selling the mount short. In our time with the Prism, we also attached the camera to frame rails, passenger peg mounts, turnsignal stalks, and passenger grab rails. Unfortunately, the ball head’s limited adjustment range could not accommodate some places that the bracket could attach to a bike, preventing the camera from being oriented in a way to get the shot. The handlebar mount requires the use of the waterproof housing.
With the exception of the helmet clamp mount, all of the mounting methods require the use of the Prism’s waterproof housing. Since the camera is often mounted in places that are vulnerable to road debris, we’d much rather replace a $40 housing than the entire camera when an errant rock impacts the housing’s lens cover.
The Prism comes with a nice variation on the popular action-camera suction-cup mount. First, the suction cup itself is sticky, helping it to adhere to the flat surface before the lever is thrown to create the vacuum. This material allows for the mount to attach itself firmly to surfaces that weren’t perfectly smooth, expanding the mounting options. Our initial concerns about the suction cup’s propensity for picking up sand or other debris that could damage a motorcycle’s paint were negated by the cup’s ability to be washed in cold water. The dirt floats away, leaving a clean mounting surface. A nice feature of the suction-cup mount is that it has the option of using one or two cups to secure and stabilize the camera. We frequently found that the dual-cup setup was less prone to image-distorting vibration that distorts the image. A wire retaining strap can be attached to the mount to keep the Prism from tumbling away should the mount fail, but don’t use it in a situation where it might allow the camera and mount to tangle with the drive chain or wheels.
The Prism’s Quick Release Mount (QRM) uses a two-stage locking mechanism: Slide the shoe into the QRM until it clicks then slide the red latch forward to lock the camera in place.
Out on the Road
All these cool features don’t amount to much until you put them into action out on the road, and we’ve been doing it for a couple months. All of our recent road test videos have included on-bike footage captured with both our Prism and our hired gun videographers’ GoPros. We defy you to tell the difference. In side-by-side viewing, with both cameras set to the same resolution and frame rate, the quality is virtually identical. We’ll leave it to the pixel peepers to find places to critique the Prism’s video quality. The only features we wish the Prism had are the smartphone preview to assist in positioning the camera and built-in active image stabilization. The first, Sena has promised is being worked on, and with the Prism’s ability to have its firmware upgraded, we expect it to happen. The second, since it is hardware-based, will have to wait for future cameras, but we hope it happens.
In more practical terms, the remote sleep/wake feature is worth its weight in gold since the small form factor of the Prism limits its battery capacity (as with most action cameras). Sena claims around 2.5 hours of recording time (that is if the up to 32 gig Micro SD card has enough remaining space). In practical use, two hours of constant use was about all we could get. Still, the Prism’s battery costs just $19 and is removable, making it easy to swap them out. Also, the camera will still work when an external battery is plugged in via a USB cable. The waterproof case even includes a “Skeleton Backdoor” which allows charging while the camera is in the case. The level of moisture protection is reduced from 40m (131 ft.) in depth to water resistant.
The Prism’s 1080p HD video coupled with the audio capability of a Sena 20S (or other brand) Bluetooth headset makes a compelling case for the camera. When considering all the accessory mounts that are included, the Prism’s $399 retail price seems about right for a premium unit and is placed between the GoPro Hero 4 and 3+. Although both GoPro models have higher frame rates at 1080p and higher resolution still-photo capability, they come with minimal mounting capabilities. The GoPro accessory mounts are more difficult to use and, in our opinion, inferior to the Prism’s ball mount. (A short note about the GoPro mounting system: Some mounting situations necessitate multiple arms that are attached to each other via joints with captive nuts. This system requires that the joints be fully disassembled to include the correct arm combination and is unnecessarily fidgety). Also, the GoPro has no wireless voice-over options.
Since we use the Prism constantly when testing bikes, we hope Sena updates the firmware to include a smartphone preview soon. We highly recommend the Sena Prism. However, you might want to wait a week or so before rushing out to buy one. While we were testing the Prism, a box containing Sena’s yet-to-be-released 10C arrived on our doorstep. Stay tuned for our review of this all-in-one Bluetooth communication and camera system about the same time the 10C becomes available to consumers in the beginning of May.
Web Site and Online Contest Debut May 1 IRVINE, Calif., April 22, 2015 – Gear Up Every Ride, a new initiative built around innovative ways of encouraging riders to use proper motorcycling apparel, is launching during May’s Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The program was designed by the Motorcycle Industry Council’s Rider Safety Committee – a […]... Click Here for Article
Link to Infograph 450SX Class Stats: East Rutherford This will be the seventh time the gate will drop for a 450SX Class race in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The first 450SX Class race held in East Rutherford was on June 7, 1987. Rick Johnson won the race aboard a Honda. From ’87-’91, the East Rutherford […]... Click Here for Article
Dorna WSBK Organization and the FIM are pleased to announce that the Autodromo Vallelunga “Piero Taruffi” has become the official World Superbike back-up venue for the two-year period 2015-2016. The Italian circuit, which has already been part of the World Superbike calendar in 2007 and 2008, would host a round of the series should any […]... Click Here for Article
With 11 career wins and 4 wins each in 2013 and 2014, Michael Dunlop is current king of the Isle of Man TT. The 2015 version of this prestigious racing event begins late next month. To whet your appetite, take a lap of the Isle with Mr. Dunlop courtesy of his onboard camera in 2013. […]... Click Here for Article
Polaris has announced the acquisition of Timbersled Products, Inc. a privately held Sandpoint, Idaho-based company. The Timbersled Mountain Horse is a snow bike conversion kit for dirt bikes that can be in-stalled and removed to make a bike a four-season machine. According to Timersled, the Mountain Horse is the first ever snow bike kit designed for the mountain riding in the snow.
“We are excited to add the Timbersled brand and team to Polaris’ strong snowmobile business. Timbersled has created a compelling product and revolutionized the sport of snow biking, and we are excited to see what they can accomplish with access to Polaris’ considerable engineering, manufacturing and distribution capabilities,” said Scott Wine, Polaris Chairman & CEO. “Their Mountain Horse is the unequivocal choice of snow bike enthusiasts, emphasizing Timbersled’s relentless commitment to innovation, performance and quality. Our common culture and shared passion for the Powersports industry and consumer will create an exciting platform for continued innovation and accelerated growth.”
“Timbersled is excited to be a part of the Polaris family. Our shared commitment to delivering exceptional performance to riders and history of innovation make this a great fit,” said Allen Mangum, President, Timbersled. “Timbersled’s success is built on a passion for delivering exciting products. We look forward to working with Polaris to take our product, customer relationships and the sport to the next level.”
Timbersled will continue to operate as a distinct brand and the operations will remain near Sandpoint, Idaho.
Parents of little kids are probably familiar with the Strider bike line of pedal-less bicycles. Over a million have been sold to date, and now a certain Swedish motorcycle company wants to get in on the action. Strider is teaming up with Husqvarna for a special edition line of Strider bikes.
The sleek-looking, white Husqvarna Strider no-pedal balance bike is mechanically the same as the Strider 12-inch Sport, but is customized with stylish yellow mini-grips for toddler hands and a blue mini-saddle for toddler hips, along with stylish Husqvarna graphics.
Designed for children ranging in age from 18 months to five years, the Strider bike weighs 6.7 pounds, is easy to control and features an adjustable seat and handlebars to accommodate a growing child. Most importantly, a Strider teaches kids balance and coordination. Often, Strider claims many kids transition from its bikes to standard pedal bicycles without ever needing training wheels.
“I remember watching my motorcycling heroes on Husqvarna motorcycles back in the 70′s when I was a child, so I was excited to see the recent return of this legendary brand,” says Ryan McFarland, Strider’s founder. “Now, I’m even more excited to be part of introducing the next generation of riders to the brand with our new Husqvarna Strider bike.”
The Husqvarna Strider bikes are in stock now and available to ship immediately. The Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) is $139.99 and includes free shipping. For more information or to purchase a Husqvarna Strider, visit www.StriderBikes.com.
The good news is I finally found new digs in beautiful Orange County, California. The bad news is I had to team up with the ex-wife to make it happen financially. Don’t cry for me, Argentina, so far it’s working out better than I could’ve hoped: Ex is the perfect housemate in that she tends to not be around for three or four days at a stretch, and when she does appear, she’s got the Master Boudoir, whose bathroom opens onto the backyard/patio. In exchange, I get the Big Office, which opens onto (now that I punched a hole in the wall) the big old 2-car garage out front. Which is all I really need in a house. We’ve achieved separation of church and state, so to speak, both of us get to live in a much sweller place than either of us could afford alone, and no motorcycle (or resident) should have to sleep under the stars anymore unless it wants to.
Since the Ex already took half of my stuff once, my thinking is that she’s less likely to do it again than if I were to start over with a newer, pre-menopausal model. I feel like I’ve been vaccinated. I think I envy you people who mate for life; I’ve only been able to mate for a couple of years at a time before the fur starts flying, in spite of the fact I am more peace-loving than Gandhi – and in the eight years wifey and I lived apart, I feel like I’ve been through enough romantic combat to tide me over for some time. Maybe every marriage would be better off with an intermission? All I know is every time I look at a couple and say, “Well, at least Bob and Jane are still happy and together,” Bob lets spill the next week that Jane wants a divorce. It’s sadly epidemic.
Also, anybody who has kids knows that once you create one with somebody, you’re pretty much stuck with your co-procreator for life: The Ex always turned up at holidays and things anyway; why fight it? At my age, I need vehicle storage more than I need live-in love, and a place for my kid to call home when he needs one. When she is here, Ex’s hobbies include cooking and cleaning, which is a form of practical love I’m down with. I don’t agree with her no-motorcycles-in-the-house rule of home decor, but it’s a small price to pay since now I can simply adjourn to my garage. (We almost had an argument about excess furniture storage, till I decided the sectional in here isn’t so bad…) Yes it’s all irrational, but the housing market here creates all sorts of strange living arrangements.
Anyway, Lou had been living here for 43 years and generously offered to leave much of his accumulated wealth in the garage, an offer I declined as graciously as possible since I had a moving van full of my own junk to move in. I was sure I’d get rid of at least half of it in the moving process, but as I examined each item while packing, it turned out there wasn’t much I’d be able to do without. You never know when you might get a boat again and will need an adjustable gland-packing wrench (or whatever this thing’s called) and a quart of teak oil. I did throw out some SRX-6 stuff, but I can’t make myself throw out parts that are still in the original packaging, or things that are brand new even if I can’t remember what they are. I have enough stuff now that just about every time I buy a new tool or thing, I generally find the one I forgot I already owned about two days later when I’m looking for something else. It’s always good to have a spare on hand.
Let me know if you need a side cover gasket for an SRX-6. Or your packing glands adjusted.
At my old rental, there was a big covered driveway/carport at the side of the house, which seemed great when we moved in for what was only supposed to be a few years but turned into nearly 20. Even in California’s mild climate, there’s no substitute for an enclosed garage. Even under a nice canvas, things left outside just get dusty and then grungy. Then the mice move into your toolbox and airbox, followed by larger rodents, followed by the neighborhood cats who need to let each other know they’ve been there. Leaving a nice bike cover folded up on top of a tool chest is like opening a rodent Hilton. They could’ve filmed a Nature episode in my old carport. Possums, raccoons, coyotes, spiders. What draws them to my toolbox? Is it the delicious coconut scent of Honda Spray Polish?
I don’t remember what this is but I’m sure I’ll find out as soon as I throw it away. So I better hold onto it…
That’s all behind me now as I sit here typing in my new (to me) garage complete with actual rubber seal at the bottom of the roll-up door. The only living thing in here is me. It’s like coming home from a really long camping trip. I don’t know why I’m not much into vintage motorcycles, but I am into vintage buildings in older parts of town with big trees. Lou’s 1963 garage, with its cathedral ceiling rafters stuffed with spare Douglas fir 4x4s and floorboards, solid old workbenches along one side and eau de WD-40 aroma feels a little bit like my own tiny cathedral. I decided it reminds me of my Granddad’s workshop, a place I last visited when I was maybe six years old, half a century ago. My granddad was a machinist for the railroad, and to get to his lair on the alley you walked down the back stairs, past the big pear tree and along the brick path between the chickens (I still fear banty roosters) and the vegetable garden. Even when it was Africa hot in Birmingham, it was cool and dark in there amongst the big blue vise and the drill press on the thick old workbench, the anvil on the dirt floor was straight out of Bugs Bunny.
I don’t think women were banned, but I don’t remember one ever being in there. They’d call out from the other side of the chickens when supper was ready. My Dad was the baby of the family, his older brother Sammy had been in Patton’s division (I found out years later), but I don’t remember anybody ever talking about anything as unpleasant as war in Granddad’s workshop at all. It was all about the chickens, the beagles (Uncle Sam raised them), the tomatoes in the garden, or which train that was rumbling by two blocks over on the Southern mainline. Somebody would pour a little beer from a brown bottle into my little jelly jar now and then. Somebody else would make a wisecrack about the old Hupmobile, which I thought must have something to do with football, which was another main topic. Uncle George didn’t say much at all. He’d had polio and never left home.
My Pops had zero use for motorcycles, but he was a huge enthusiast of the Crescent Limited, which ran through his back yard every day. Close enough – it’s all pistons and cylinders and getting there in a hurry.
All those people are long gone now. Birmingham, Alabama, circa 1966 feels about as far from modern SoCal as you can get and still be in the continental U.S. in the same lifetime. I thought I just needed bike storage, but the real reason I needed a garage didn’t occur to me until I sat down in here to write this column: Every time I see a big vise bolted to a scarred old workbench and smell that smell, I’m back there with my original tribe. The motorcycles in here are a poor substitute, but they’ll do for now. I may need to get some chickens and a hound or two.
In celebration of Rev’It’s 20th anniversary, and the launch of its Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Rev’It set out to create a machine as ambitious as its gear and its riders. The result is the Rev’It #95.
Rev’It creative director Gerbrandt Aarts brought together Gregor Halenda, Chris Cosentino and Scott Kolb, a skilled team of artists, designers and engineers with decades of combined experience in the shop and in the saddle. Together they conceptualized the “ultimate” adventure project that would turn a rugged ADV bike into an all-wheel drive machine, via the adaption of a Christini kit.
In just four months in late 2014/early 2015, a KTM 950 Super Enduro was found, stripped, and reassembled a dozen or more times to create an immediately recognizable, one-off motorcycle, built to mimic the current Rev’It design philosophy.
The Christini-based system on the Rev’It #95 transfers power off the countershaft sprocket through a custom-made system of gears and shafts, to the headstock where it’s converted again to two counter-rotating drive shafts. These deliver power to the front hub via a one-way free hub. The front wheel is driven at 80% of the speed of the rear wheel to prevent undue torque from affecting the steering, but when the rear wheel outpaces the front, the front digs in to bring the bike into line and convert what was once wasted power and roost into forward motion.
The practical benefit of AWD on a full-sized adventure bike is the ability to navigate through deep sand or mud – the spots where a large, weighty bike might typically get stuck. It’s the same advantage as a four wheel drive vehicle, and offers a huge bonus to the solo adventure rider: You can traverse more difficult terrain, more easily.
The Rev’It #95 bike was completed in April 2015 and will be presented to the public at events over the coming months.
Complete list of modifications on the Rev’It #95:
-Christini 2WD conversion kit
-Woody’s billet hub rims with Excel hoops and stainless steel spokes
-Continental Twinduro TKC80 Dual Sport Tires: 180/55B17 rear, 120/70B19 front
-Fredette Racing studded ice tires
-SKAT-TRAK custom paddle sand tires
-custom stainless steel exhaust with Cone Engineering stainless megaphones
-Anti-Gravity lightweight Lithium Nano-Phosphate battery
-Moto-Master disc, caliper and master cylinder upgrade
-Kuryakyn Phase 7 LED 7″ Headlamp
-Ironman rear sprocket
-DID x-ring chains
-Evo Air Foot-pegs
-Highway Dirt Bikes bark busters/mirrors
-iPhone 6 compatible mount with charger
-FuelTankParts.com aluminum weld-in fuel filler cap
-Keihen 41mm FCR carburetor conversion
-Cosentino Engineering billet velocity stacks
-low temperature fan thermostat switch
-Chrome Glow LED taillight/turn signals
-custom aluminum 12 gallon fuel tank
-custom steel subframe
-custom leather seat
The Ohlins TTX36 recall has struck another OEM with a rear shock defect leading to the recall on the Honda CBR1000RR SP. Announced by regulatory bodies in Japan and Australia, the Honda recall follows the recall on the Yamaha YZF-R1M announced last week in Australia and Canada. There may be more recalls to come, depending on whether the defective Ohlins TTX GP, TTX RT and TTX36 MKII shocks were installed on other OEM motorcycles.
Both the CBR1000RR SP and the R1M come standard with Ohlins rear shocks, one of several upgrades they hold over the less exclusive CBR1000RR and R1. Other models that come with similar suspension include Ducati‘s 1199 Panigale R and 1299 Panigale S, ApriliaRSV4 RF and Tuono V4 1100 Factory and the MV AgustaF4 R, RR and RC. We may see more recalls coming, depending on whether other motorcycles had the faulty batch of shocks installed.
The problem, as described by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the piston rod nut on the affected CBR1000RR SP shocks may not have been correctly tightened and thus may come loose. The description is similar to the previously-announced TTX36 recalls.
The Australian recall announcement did not specify any model years but the Japanese recall includes all models produced from Jan. 30, 2014 to March 16, 2015. In Ohlins’ recall for aftermarket TTX36 shocks, it says the problem was caused by a new method of cleaning the top-out spring guide adopted on Nov. 5, 2013, so it’s likely both 2014 and 2015 models may be affected. We await word on whether a similar recall will be announced for the CBR1000RR or any other models in the U.S. market.
[Source: Australian Competition & Consumer Commission and Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism]
With two wins and a third place finish, Valentino Rossi is leading the 2015 MotoGP championship series. The nine-time world champion is accomplishing something far more significant, however, in my opinion. Marc Marquez (Honda) has changed MotoGP racing. At 20 years old, he became the youngest rider ever to win the MotoGP championship in 2013. […]... Click Here for Article
Which makes it a curious decision to launch the microsite with a teaser video with the 701 equipped with spiked tires and running on ice. And to release said video in late April, no less. Not that we’re complaining, since we’re big fans of ice racing here at MO.
We’ll have more detailed information as Husqvarna releases it on the microsite, but we already know from EICMA the 701 is powered by a modified version of the KTM 690 SMC R’s Single with ride-by-wire throttle control, claiming an output of 67 hp. Other previously-announced features include WP suspension, ABS, a slipper clutch and a claimed weight of 320 pounds.
The 701 Supermoto will arrive at dealers in November. There’s no confirmation on whether that includes U.S. dealerships, but Husqvarna USA linking to the microsite on its Facebook page is a good sign.
Gloria Struck, 89, is a legendary female motorcycle rider and a pioneer for women riders everywhere, and now Struck is joining Why We Ride Films, the production team that brought the critically acclaimed film, Why We Ride, for a Kickstarter campaign to help fund its new film “I Am Sturgis.”
Ms. Struck first sat astride a motorcycle in 1941, at a time when very few women did so, and she’s been riding ever since. She travels annually to motorcycle rallies around the country and gatherings hosted by the groundbreaking, all-female motorcycle club she joined in 1946, the Motor Maids. This year, as she’s done many times in the past, she plans on riding the 1,700 miles from her home in Clifton, NJ, to South Dakota for the 75th Anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. She’s been making the trek to motorcycle rallies all over the country for over six decades.
Gloria Struck at the age of 25.
“We do not trailer bikes. We ride to Sturgis every year,” Ms. Struck says. “My goal is to keep riding to Sturgis until I’m 100. The Black Hills, the custom bikes, the people from all over the world and, of course, the riding is like nowhere else on earth. It is not what you think, and it should not be missed.”
The impetus for “I Am Sturgis” stems partly from this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally being the 75th Anniversary of that motorcycling institution. In recent years, the Sturgis rally has drawn half a million participants, but attendance estimates for this year’s anniversary rally exceed one million riders. There may never be a better time to capture the passion, dedication and camaraderie of the motorcycling community, and there certainly is no better place than the iconic Sturgis gathering.
When making Why We Ride, Sturgis was the first filming location, and it had an immediate emotional effect on the filmmakers. “There is a spirit there that enters you and grabs your heart,” says Bryan H. Carroll, producer/director. “You put your hand on a boulder and you feel this energy; you can feel it in the air. It’s easy to understand why American Indians hold this place sacred.”
Why We Ride Films launched their crowd funding efforts with the goal of raising $350,000 of the production budget for “I Am Sturgis” through their Kickstarter campaign. With the help of Gloria Struck and others, they are on their way, but still hope for greater participation from motorcycle enthusiasts and the general public alike.
Gloria Struck at the age of 87
There are many contribution levels, starting with “The Wave,” a $5 donation that gets you a digital version of the movie poster. A $15 “First Ride” donation earns an early digital download of the film. Increasing donations up to $75 are rewarded with patches, pins, stickers, T-shirts and limited edition Blu-Ray/DVD film combo packs. Large-dollar (ranging from $125 to $10,000) donators receive Sturgis 75th Anniversary Club Rewards, movie premiere passes, and they can even get production credits (up to “associate producer” and “co-executive producer”), access to the Producer’s Private Pre-Party and private theatrical screenings in their hometowns.
A campaign trailer for “I Am Sturgis” is viewable at www.IAmSturgis.com. Those wishing to contribute to the campaign can also do so from that link.
Harley-Davidson reported a net profit of $269.9 million over the first quarter of 2015. The first quarter results marked a slight improvement on the $265.9 million in net income reported in the same period last year. Revenue from motorcycle sales were down, however, due to unfavorable currency exchange rates and a slight decrease in shipments.
Delivering the first quarter report is one of the final tasks of outgoing Harley-Davidson Chief Executive Officer Keith Wandell who is retiring on May 1. He will be succeeded by current Chief Operating Officer Matt Levatich.
“While the first quarter had its share of headwinds, our business is strong and we remain clearly focused on executing Harley-Davidson’s strategy to be customer-led in everything we do, grow our reach among new customers in the U.S., grow internationally and continuously improve every aspect of our operations,” says Wandell. “We continue to manage Harley-Davidson for long-term performance from a position of great strength.”
Harley-Davidson reported sales of 56,661 motorcycles over the first quarter, down from 57,415 motorcycles sold in the same period in 2014. Harley-Davidson reports strong worldwide sales for the Road Glide, Ultra Low, Ultra Limited Low, CVO Street Glide, Freewheeler and Street models.
The domestic market continues to form the bulk of Harley-Davidson’s sales, with Americans picking up 35,488 motorcycles over the quarter, just a bit less than the 35,730 sold last year. Harley-Davidson attributes the decrease to poor riding weather and a strong surge in last year’s sales due to the introduction of the company’s Project Rushmore initiative. Though overall U.S. sales were down, Harley-Davidson reports strong demand for the Road Glide and the Street.
Sales were also down slightly in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Harley-Davidson saw a significant drop in Japanese sales, selling just 1,972 motorcycles compared to 2,893 motorcycles in the same quarter of 2014. Most of that decrease was mitigated by increased sales elsewhere in Asia including China and India which reported record highs for Harley-Davidson.
Motorcycle produced $1.26 billion in revenue over the first quarter, down 3.8% from last year. Harley-Davidson also reported a 7.2% drop in sales revenue from parts and accessories while merchandise sales increased by 3.6%. Overall, Harley0-Davidson reported an operating income of $345.4 million from product sales. Harley-Davidson Financial Services added another $64.7 million in operating income.
For the rest of 2015, Harley-Davidson lowered its sales forecast, now calling for a 2-4% growth compared to the previously forecast 4-6% growth. The company now expects to ship 276,000 to 281,000 motorcycles in 2015, compared to the previous expectations of 282,000 to 287,000 motorcycles.
“Given the first-quarter retail results, and ongoing, increased levels of aggressive competitive discounting in the U.S. which we expect will continue, we are taking the precautionary step of lowering our estimated growth rate for full-year motorcycle shipments in order to manage supply in line with demand and protect the premium nature of our brand,” says Wandell.
What makes a scooter a scooter? Is it the step-through frame? The completely hidden engine? The underseat storage? The clutch-free operation? We have here two radically different visions of scooters in the form of the Honda NM4 and the Yamaha TMAX, representing the different design intents of maxi-scooterdom. The NM4 looks like a futuristic scooter but rides like a cruiser. In fact, Honda lists the NM4 in the cruiser category on its website. The TMAX strives to be the sportbike of scooters with its aggressive styling and performance. What the pair do share is a price tag separated by just $509, with the NM4 costing $10,999 to the TMAX’s $10,490.
Had these two bikes been available at the time, they would have been included in our 2013 Uber Scooter Shootout. They fit the price range, and while the TMAX displaces only 530cc, it punches above its class, being fully capable of going head-to-head with the Ubers. Still, it’s hard to imagine two scooters that are as diametrically opposed to each other as these two. Let’s take a gander at what makes these two tick.
Your eyes immediately tell you that the Honda NM4 is not your typical scoot, and I’m not talking about the styling – yet. First, this ain’t no step-through scooter. (The TMAX isn’t either, but at least it makes a nod towards that scooter physiology.) What you have instead is an extremely low, 25.6-inch seat height, thanks to the stretched out 64.8-in. wheelbase. If your eyes just follow the profile of the tank (which even has the filler cap on it) down to the seat, you get a pretty good idea of why Honda classifies the NM4 as a cruiser. So, you don’t step through the chassis to sit on the NM4 like a scooter, and if the pillion is flipped up for backrest duty, you don’t really throw a leg over like on a cruiser. Rather, the design asks the rider to step onto the bike heel-first, which initially feels odd but becomes normal almost immediately. As Category-Coining Editor, Tom Roderick, said, “With the NM4, Honda has created some kind of crossbreed, touringish scruiter.”
Once ensconced in the saddle, the rider’s appendages naturally fall into a comfortable, cruiserish riding position. The floorboards offer footing for riders of differing leg lengths and remain vibration-free during rides. The riding position – particularly with the backrest deployed – is remarkably comfortable in conditions ranging from near gridlock to freeway cruising to backroad dancing. The weather protection manages to successfully straddle the fine line between wind protection during cooler weather and cooling air flow for warmer conditions. My only quibble with NM4’s creature comforts is the way the standard windshield directs the wind blast at the base of a 5-foot, 11-inch rider’s helmet at highway speeds. The optional tall windscreen on the NM4 we tested last year eliminated this issue.
The backrest converts to the pillion with a turn of the ignition key.
Where the NM4 really differentiates itself from the scooter class is in the engine bay. The 670cc parallel-Twin’s cylinders cant forward to assist in the bike’s long, low presentation. However, the Honda steps away from traditional scooters by way of its dual-clutch transmission (DCT) as opposed to a traditional constantly variable transmission (CVT). The DCT means that the NM4 isn’t more difficult to ride than any other scooter. Once the ride mode (D for drive, S for sport) is selected, twist the grip and go. For riders who are used to specific gear ratios offered by traditional motorcycle transmissions, the DCT immediately feels more like a motorcycle than a scooter.
In drive mode, gear choice is directed towards fuel economy, while sport mode makes the upshifts and downshifts more aggressive. Switch to manual mode, and the rider’s left index finger and thumb get to control the shift points – all of which means that when ridden in conditions where gear choice is preferable, like on a winding road, the NM4 feels like a motorcycle in a scooter’s package.
Well, at least we could carry our favorite cleaner and a couple rags in the saddlebag.
Scooter Fanboy Editor, Troy Siahaan, summed up the NM4’s engine, thusly: “Great platform for this engine. It certainly isn’t a sporty bike and doesn’t pretend to be. The 670cc Twin isn’t sporty either. It gets great mpg, is torquey for around-town riding, and the DCT is well calibrated to this bike. I could have shifted gears myself via the paddles, but I found myself deferring to Drive or Sport mode the majority of the time.”
Despite the futuristic scooter styling, the NM4’s handling places it in the cruiser camp. The 18-in. front wheel gives stability at the expense of the lightning-quick steering of the TMAX. The long wheelbase adds to this. “With more rake and a lower seat height than a Shadow RS (albeit with a full inch less trail -Ed.), and nearly as much wheelbase, the NM4 certainly feels like a cruiser,” said Roderick. Although you can get the NM4 to turn quickly by applying some effort, it’s cornering clearance ends the party much quicker than the TMAX. That said, if you’re comfortable dragging floorboards on a cruiser, you’ll feel right at home on the NM4. However, if you’re riding with a TMAX, you’ll need to content yourself with following it in the twisties.
Love the NM4’s style or hate it, you’re gonna have an opinion.
Braking is another place where the NM4 suffers a bit. Although it has ABS and the front and rear binders are not linked, the power they deliver is on the modest side, requiring a healthy pull from both levers to quickly attenuate speed.
The NM4 also comes up short in its storage capacity. Despite the apparent size of the integrated saddlebags, their interior dimensions are almost laughable, and the NM4 has no underseat storage. The storage compartments in the fairing, while welcome, offer oddly shaped, low-volume carrying capacity. The left compartment, the one with the power port, is small enough to require some jiggering to get a large smartphone to fit. Honda is usually a little more thoughtful than this.
DCT for more motorcycle-like power delivery
Comfy as hell
Minimal storage space
Relatively short on sport
And then there’s the NM4’s styling. Either you like it or you don’t. It’s a visceral thing. Like arguing politics, no one is going to change anyone’s mind, no matter how misguided the other person is. Personally, I think the NM4 is fun. Everyone deserves to be Judge Dredd at least once in their lives.
Scooting to the Max
by Troy Siahaan
Apart from sharing the same shade of black as the NM4 and having all capital letters in its name, the Yamaha TMAX is a world apart from the Honda. Consider it the sportbike that doesn’t quite fit in with the sportbike crowd, or the scooter that’s too cool to actually hang out with the other scooters. With the TMAX, Yamaha is catering to the scooter rider looking for a taste of an R-model supersport.
Granted, that’s a very small niche of people, but I happen to fit into this category. With its 530cc Twin, the TMAX feels lively for a scooter, every bit the equal of the Honda. Indeed, it gives up 140cc to the Honda Twin, but it’s also pulling around 77 lbs. less weight (485 lbs. vs. 562 lbs., according to manufacturer claimed wet weights) than the NM4. Its CVT is well calibrated to deliver minimal lag once you twist the throttle, and though it doesn’t quite compare to the instant-on feeling from the NM4, it feels almost direct when compared to other scooters.
Immediate acceleration from a stop makes the TMAX a great around town mount.
The TMAX perches its rider high above the road ahead, its 31.5-inch seat height lending to this seating position. You get a commanding view of what’s in front of you, and the generous floorboards extend beyond what would normally be considered the leg shield and dip towards the front of the bike. Placing your feet directly below puts you in a sport position, but also having the ability to kick your feet forward and lean back is a nice feature. Personally, I found the NM4 more comfortable, with its backrest and forward-placed foot controls more to my liking for a freeway stint, but Evans thought otherwise, stating, “If the TMAX had the NM4’s backrest, it would be the perfect scooter for freeway commuter drone mode.”
In the twisty bits, it was no question which one was the steed to be on. The TMAX attacks corners with an agility you don’t expect from a scooter. It’s capable of impressive lean angles a good pilot can use to embarrass lesser riders on “real” sportbikes. Evans noted, “On more than one occasion, I had to get on the brakes mid-corner because the NM4 ran out of ground clearance in front of me, and the TMAX was carrying significantly more speed – thanks to its generous ground clearance.”
The seat may be high, but it allows for the TMAX’s ample ground clearance.
Combine that with a 41mm inverted fork that soaks bumps while providing clear communication of road conditions. Further sportbike influences are seen in the radial-mount brakes, providing consistently powerful and predictable stopping power that puts the Honda to shame. From the onset we knew the Yamaha would excel in this environment when compared to the Honda, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Perhaps more surprising is the Yamaha’s storage capacity, which we criticized in our solo review, is comparatively generous in relation to the NM4. While the Honda’s deceptive saddlebags and integrated fairing compartments are barely large enough to fit a cell phone and a few packs of cigarettes, the Yamaha is able to fit a full-face helmet under its seat, plus a convenient fairing-mounted compartment.
The only way to improve the TMAX’s brakes would be to add ABS.
Immediate power delivery
Great ground clearance
Minimal storage under seat
High seat with wide bodywork stretches legs
From a performance aspect, it’s clear the Yamaha is the runaway winner. Its engine and chassis are more athletic than the Honda. Having usable storage space is another bonus. However, some people simply can’t stomach being on a scooter. For them, the Honda is a more familiar ride; its chain drive and dual-clutch transmission being items more motorcyclists will appreciate. So then, which one do we choose?
The Envelope, Please
Whenever we join a few bikes together, there is the expectation that we will determine a winner, and we use a carefully considered scorecard to assist us in the task. However, before we open the envelope to tell you which bike won in this comparison, we’re gonna weasel a little bit – and for a good reason. These two bikes were designed for different purposes. Yes, they’ve got scooter styling cues and scooter ease of operation, but the TMAX is clearly gunning for sporting-focused riders, while the NM4 is, in its DNA, a cruiser. In any functional comparison, sporting machinery will always trump a cruiser because sporty bikes are designed to accelerate, corner and stop as efficiently as possible, and higher performance almost always results in higher scores. This is not a criticism of cruisers. When testing motorcycles – or any tool – one must look at the purpose for which it was designed.
Ultimately, the TMAX stands on the top of the box thanks to its impressive performance capabilities.
With that in mind, we’ll open the envelope to reveal the winner … but it’s empty. Yes, the TMAX wins the scorecard portion of the shootout with an aggregate score of 81.9% to the NM4’s 77.0%. However, in discussions amongst the riders, no clear winner stood out.
Troy, being sporty minded, said the TMAX was the one for him, purely because of its performance capability. Meanwhile, Tom acknowledged the Yamaha’s performance advantage but had a preference for the Honda.
“The TMAX costs $500 less, offers more storage and isn’t a rolling fashion statement, making it the more prudent choice between the two. However, I find myself attracted to the NM4 the same way I’m attracted to street-legal golf carts: there’s more practical alternatives, but sometimes you just gotta say, what the f*&k.”
As for myself, the MO staffer with multiple personality disorder, I’d have a hard time choosing because both bikes appeal to differing sides of me. However, if you held a gun to my head and gave me 10 seconds to choose, I’d pick the TMAX because, well, you can never be too rich or skinny or have too much performance under your saddle.
So, take the results as you will, and if one of these scooters appeal to you, that’s all that matters.
If you’re a Yamaha MotoGP fan who just happens to love taking selfies, Yamaha has the contest for you. With its newly announced #GetOutAndRide MotoGP photo contest, fans can compete for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2015 Red Bull Indy MotoGP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, August 6-10, plus have an opportunity to meet Yamaha MotoGP stars Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, and enjoy a pit/garage tour of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team. Even if you don’t win the grand prize, Yamaha still has other prizes to give away.
To enter the contest, fans need to visit a participating Yamaha Motorcycle Dealership, take a photo with a Rossi display standee and/or Rossi or Lorenzo head cut-out, and a Yamaha motorcycle or scooter, and then post their photo with hashtag #GetOutAndRide to Yamaha Motor USA Facebook page, or post to their Instagram or Twitter account with hashtag #GetOutAndRide. Contest entries will be judged and winners selected based on originality, humor, creative use of the Rossi and/or Lorenzo props, and expression of passion for Yamaha motorcycles or scooters.
To see Valentino and Jorge encourage your entry, for more information, and complete contest rules, visit here. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.
Beginning with the Springfield Mile on May 24, three-time World Superbike Champion, Troy Bayliss will compete in the 2015 AMA Pro Grand National Series. Racing a Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati alongside teammate Johnny Lewis, Bayliss will participate in all five, mile-long race events. In addition to factory support, long-time Ducati collector Jim Dillard is also providing financial backing for the Lloyd Brothers Motorsports Ducati team.
Bayliss is one of the most decorated competitors in road racing history, with 52 WSBK victories, a fairytale MotoGP win in 2006 and the British Superbike Championship title in 1999 – all aboard Ducatis. He is no stranger to flat track racing. In 2013, he launched the invitation-only Troy Bayliss Classic in his home country of Australia, where he has since competed against many AMA Pro Flat Track greats.
Both Bayliss and Lewis will be piloting Ducati 1100cc air-cooled, 2-valve engines with Penske-tuned suspension in a custom chassis.
Troy Bayliss’ Race Schedule – 2015 AMA Pro Grand National Series
May 24 – Springfield Mile (Round 3)
May 30 – Sacramento Mile (Round 4)
July 4 – Du Quoin Mile (Round 7)
July 11 – Indy Mile (Round 8)
September 6 – Springfield Mile II (Round 13)
“Dirt and flat track racing are where I cut my teeth as a junior. Everything I have learned on the dirt helped me through my career in road racing and to find myself back where it all started makes me feel young again,” says Bayliss. “To race the Grand Nationals will be a challenge, but to compete with the Lloyd Brothers on the Ducati had to be done. Flat track is on the up here in Australia. We have run the Troy Bayliss Classic for the past three years and mixing it up with Henry Wiles, Jared Mees and Sammy Halbert has been great. I really look forward to my time in the US of A.”
“Although Troy retired from full-time competition in 2008, he always been a very active brand ambassador for Ducati,” said Dominique Cheraki, CEO of Ducati North America. “I think Ducati fans around the world will be excited about this project, as you know anything can happen when Troy sits on a Ducati.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to join a program like Lloyd Brothers Motorsports,” said Johnny Lewis. “I feel the Ducati will be the best bike I have ever been given a chance to throw a leg over in the AMA Pro Flat Track Championship. With this team and their supporters, I feel we can look forward to some great performances this season. I have been working hard this off season, training on and off of the bikes in Florida and I know that the Lloyd Brothers have been making constant improvements to the bikes to provide me with the opportunity to once again be a podium contender at each race.”
Yamaha Parts and Accessories has today announced an exclusive collaboration with apparel manufacturer, Rev’It, to produce a line of riding gear.
Comprised of features such as Hydratex G-Liner for waterproofing, double front zipper, reflective Yamaha logo, and Knox Flexiform CE protection, the jackets prepare you for nearly any riding conditions.
The two companies launched the much anticipated collection at MotoGP’s first U.S. stop in Austin, Texas on April 9 -12 and will join forces to launch a co-operative, robust Go-To-Market plan supported by additional marketing opportunities, including promotion through both companies’ websites, digital advertising, catalogs, and event support kicking off a sweepstakes where one lucky winner will receive a free Jupiter jacket by going to www.shopyamaha.com/getingear and registering.
The riding gear line will be available from Yamaha’s large network of authorized dealers as well as on www.shopyamaha.com.
“Yamaha, much like Rev’It, comes from a lineage of riding, so it made perfect sense to collaborate on this innovative collection,” said Frank Pittman, Vice President, Customer Support Group, Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. “The new Yamaha by Rev’It riding gear feature Rev’It’s exemplary craftsmanship while balancing innovation, functionality, and style.”