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  1. Thanks
    Advpulse got a reaction from vergilcl in Scorpion EXO-AT950: Affordable, Adaptable, Flip-Up ADV Helmet   
    Choosing a helmet can sometimes be difficult. What jives with one rider may not for another. Moreover, if you ride both on and off-road, in true dual-sport fashion, you know that you need a helmet that makes you feel safe and comfortable in both riding situations.
    Many adventure riders prefer the convenience and comfort of a flip-up style modular helmet like the Scorpion EXO-AT950. If you need to walk into a store or ask a pedestrian for directions, you can communicate without the need to take your helmet off. It also makes it a lot easier to get cool air on your face when you are making a quick stop and saves time not having to remove and put back on your helmet.

    ADVERTISEMENT After long-term testing this popular modular flip-up helmet for a few thousand dual sport miles, here are our thoughts:
    What It Is
    The Scorpion EXO-AT950 is a modular, flip-up style ADV helmet introduced in 2016 for less than $300, a significant bargain then as it is today. This feature-packed ADV touring helmet can be configured into one of three modes depending on on the type of riding that you do: Off-Road mode (face-shield removed to accommodate goggles), Adventure mode (peak visor and face shield installed), and Touring mode (peak visor removed, side plates installed).
    How It Works
    We mainly ran ours in Adventure Mode for this test. Conversion between modes is quick and easy by removing only two robust aluminum mounting screws with either a screwdriver or a coin. Opening up the helmet is accomplished by pulling on a chin tab and pushing the chin bar up until it locks in place. With the chin bar up, it makes it a lot easier to put your helmet on but you can still slide the helmet on with the chin bar closed.
    Sliding the lever forward retracts the drop-down tinted visor like a switchblade.
    A pull on a thumb tab easily opens up the chin bar when you want to get a little fresh air on your face.
    The head shell shape of the EXO-AT950 is described as Intermediate Oval Head – your individual head shape is something that you should be aware of before making a helmet purchase. Donning the Scorpion EXO-AT950 feels snug and secure, which gets a little more snug around the cheeks once you close the chin bar. One of our testers typically wears a small sized helmet, but the shell shape of the AT-950 forced him to go up a size so as not to be too tight when the chin bar was closed.
    The internal drop-down sun visor is neat if you like to ride without your sunglasses and makes you look like a fighter pilot, but the release slide mechanism operates opposite of what you’d expect – slide back to lower the tinted visor, forward to raise it. We didn’t use it as much off-road because the dust reduced visibility through the drop-down lens. On one occasion the slide mechanism got sticky with dust, but this was easily remedied with a quick washing of the helmet and a few strategic sprays of dry lithium lubricant. Another thing we noticed when riding off-road is that only smaller goggles will fit in the eyeport. We were able to use a set of Oakley O-Frame goggles but when trying to use the Klim Viper goggles, we couldn’t get a tight seal around the face.
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    On the highway, the Scorpion’s diminutive peak visor does a great job of reducing the effects and fatigue of wind buffeting but we found it too small to sufficiently block out a low-hanging sun, requiring the rider to tilt their head downward more than usual to reduce the glare.
    This well-ventilated helmet has two large, easily-operated vents; one on the forehead and one on the chin. The forehead vent channels air up and over the rider’s head within the helmet shell to exhaust ports, providing a pleasant and noticeable, but quiet current of air. Scorpion designs their helmet ventilation quite well to provide air flow without being too loud. Speaker cut out also make installing a headset easier, while reducing pressure on your ears.
    The antimicrobial, moisture-wicking inner liner material stays fresh and comfortable on your skin during long rides.

    The KwikWick II antimicrobial, moisture-wicking inner liner material does a good job of keeping sweat and odor at bay, and the quick-release cheek pads make removal and washing easy when it does. Be mindful where you set the helmet down though, the lining material along the bottom of the helmet seems to attract poking thistle and sticks quite easily. Only later discovered when you riding down the road trying to figure out what’s scratching you
    Who It Is For
    The extra functionality of the modular flip-up design makes these helmets a little heavier than your standard adventure helmet. There are lighter helmet options than the the EXO-AT950 out there for someone who primarily rides dirt. This helmet is perfect for the rider who spends a fair amount of time on the pavement, but also ventures off-road from time to time. Most people that prefer a modular, flip-up style helmet won’t mind paying a small weight penalty (roughly 4-6oz more than a traditional mono shell helmet) to get the improved versatility.
    Our Verdict
    The Scorpion AT-950 is a lot of helmet for the money. The ability to quickly flip up the chin to take a drink, or wipe your face, or speak (smile) to someone can actually make your riding experience much more enjoyable. Like most things in life, nothing’s perfect but the Scorpion EXO-AT950 is a feature-packed, attractive, and versatile Adventure Touring helmet that is worthy of daily use and doesn’t sacrifice build quality for the price.

    What We Liked
    Flip-up chin bar makes taking the helmet on and off much easier if not, unnecessary. Well ventilated while still being fairly quiet. Great build quality for the price. What Could Be Improved
    Pinlock compatibility standard. Peak sun visor doesn’t stick out enough to sufficiently block the sun. Design drop-down sun visor to work better in dusty conditions. Larger eye port to accommodate a wider range of goggles.
    Scorpion EXO-AT950 Specs
    COLORS: Core, Sky, Sport, Companero
    SIZES: XS-XXL (3 Shell Sizes)
    SAFETY: DOT certified
    WEIGHT: 3.8 lbs or 1780g (Medium)
    MSRP: $269.95 (Solids); $289.95 (Graphics)
    WARRANTY: 5 Years Shopping Options
    Photos by Stephen Gregory, Enrico Pavia and Rob Dabney
    Author: Sharif Massoud
    Sharif has been a 911 paramedic since 2001 and has worked for both Ventura and Los Angeles counties. As a paramedic, his duties have allowed him to work in an ambulance, SAR Helicopter and motorcycle detail. He is currently a sweep-rider and head paramedic for RawHyde Adventures, and is also a Clinical Instructor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  2. Thanks
    Advpulse got a reaction from Aferim in 2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan First Ride   
    It was roughly two years ago when Royal Enfield announced their new middleweight adventure motorcycle, a purpose-built machine designed to take on the rugged Himalayan mountain range. For decades, people have been riding Royal Enfields around India’s Himalayan mountains but the historic brand wanted to produce something better-suited to the terrain than their Classic and Bullet lines.
    The concept for the Himalayan first began to take shape around 2011, originally designed and built in India for the Indian market. The idea was to produce something more modern (for Royal Enfield’s standards) and more off-road capable, featuring a single rear shock, generous suspension travel, an overhead camshaft, disc brakes, fuel injection and a 21″/17″ wire-spoked wheel set. Yet they also wanted a back-to-basics motorcycle with simple air/oil-cooled 411cc engine, analogue gauges and no electronic rider aids.

    It had to be appealing and accessible to a wide range of riders too, so Royal Enfield gave it a low seat h, torque-tuned motor, nimble handling, and kept the nostalgic styling the company is known for. Over the past two year, the company’s efforts have been rewarded with strong sales overseas, and now they’re finally bringing it to the US. Better yet, it’s coming with an affordable price tag of just $4,499.
    Recently we got our first chance to test the 2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan at the Press Intro in Midlothian, Texas, where we explored some of the area’s backcountry roads and off-road terrain. Read on to find out our first impressions on this new middleweight Adventure Bike coming to North America.
    First Look

    One of the first things you notice about the Royal Enfield Himalayan is its distinctive styling. There’s nothing quite like it in the Adventure segment. It’s outfitted with a chrome-framed round headlight, rounded fenders and petite windscreen for a classic look, while the crash bars, wide handlebars, long-travel suspension and dual sport tires telegraph its rugged intentions. Somehow this mix of contradictory styles blends seamlessly together in a design that’s pleasing to the eye.
    Frames are welded robotically at Royal Enfield’s state-of-the-art Chennai Plant.
    It’s not without a few quirky features though, like a fuel injection system with a choke, separate ignition and fuel tank keys, an electronic compass on the dash just to name a few. According to Royal Enfield, the bike uses a simplified EFI system and the choke was included to help with cold starts in the high elevations of the Himalayas.
    One of the nice touches, for a bike in this size range, is a center stand that comes standard. Plus the Himalayan also comes equipped with a small rear luggage rack, decent-sized serrated steel pegs, and upper crash bars that can also be used to carry RotopaX fuel containers. Suspension is non-adjustable other than a rear preload setting (adjusted using tools) but it does offer a respectable 7.9 inches of travel up front and 7.1 inches in the back. Ground clearance is also generous at 9 inches.
    The Himalayan comes equipped with a luggage rack so you are ready to get out and explore.
    Large bar-end weights help keep vibrations down on the highway but the Himalayan does not come equipped with hand guards.
    With a fairly-tall suspension, getting the seat h to a manageable 31.5 inches (29.9″ with the low seat) wasn’t easy. Royal Enfield did it with careful consideration of the geometry and a scooped out seat design that has you sitting down low in the bike rather than on top of it. Putting feet on the ground is made even easier with a seat that is narrow in the front, allowing your legs to have a more direct path to the ground.
    Firing up the Long-Stroke single for the first time, the exhaust note is quiet but has a nice thump to it. It’s not as distinctive as the Royal Enfield’s push rod engines, but it has character. Redline comes on at 6,500 rpm, which implies its an under-stressed motor and an oil change interval of 6,000 miles also helps keep maintenance costs down.
    Asphalt Performance

    On the first ride down the block, I noticed the Himalayan’s clutch lets out late and it has a slightly heavy pull for a small-displacement bike. Even so, fueling was good and it was easy to get off the line. Going down the road, the 411cc single pulls strong in the lower RPMs for a smaller motor. The counterbalanced engine is also smooth at slower speeds and only exhibits some vibration under wide-open acceleration.
    As far as the ergos, the Himalayan has a laid back almost cruiser-like seated riding position. The h and reach to the bars feels nice for long rides, and the small windscreen blocks wind up to about chin level while being low enough to stay out of your line of sight.
    There was not much more than a hint of vibration on the highway thanks to tall gearing, large bar-end weights, and a long-stroke motor that keeps the revs low at 65 MPH. The Himalayan’s saddle also proved comfortable with its wide shape and ample padding. Foot pegs have a slightly forward position compared to your typical dual sport, which helps reduce knee bend for taller riders (I’m 6’2″). Although, I did notice my knees sometimes rubbed on the upper crash bars. It wasn’t a problem with padded knees but if you wear jeans when you ride, it could be.
    The Himalayan’s gauges are compact, but small numbers are a little hard to read for aged eyes. The digital compass is a nice touch and makes us want to leave our maps and GPS behind for a real adventure!
    On several long straights, I tucked in behind the fly screen to explore the Himalayan’s full power. Acceleration won’t ‘wow’ experienced riders but it is adequate for passing around town. The highest indicated top speed I achieved on our short highway stint was 75 mph, although it felt like it could reach low 80s with more room time to accelerate. The torque-oriented powerband feels like it maintains speed well but the Himalayan could use more power for long rides on the interstate highways of the US.
    Riding at a brisk pace on backcountry roads, the bike feels stable at speed and the braking power is good from the single 300mm front rotor, yet it does require a firm two-finger squeeze to stop quickly. The Himalayan’s low pegs do touch down early during aggressive riding but otherwise, it felt nimble and flickable in the turns.
    Eventually, we settled down into a more-comfortable pace and it was then that I really felt the enjoyment of riding the Himalayan. The bike likes to cruise along more than it likes being pushed. It encourages you to experience the world around you and reminds you it’s not about the bike but the ride itself.
    Off-Road Performance
    Having some fun in the mud on the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
    Royal Enfield designed the Himalayan to be good on both the street and dirt, with a bias toward off-road. And once we turned off the asphalt, the bike felt like it was more in its element. The suspension is surprisingly good for a bike in this price range. It absorbed bumps well and didn’t Pogo or wallow like you might expect. Damping and spring rates were adequate for a larger rider, and several jumps and g-outs at speed didn’t bottom out the suspension.
    A short reach to the ground, and a relatively light weight of 401 pounds, makes this bike feel unintimidating in the dirt. Its tractable engine with mild power also helps make it easy to ride off-road for a novice. In fact, it would make an excellent learner bike for those looking to develop their off-road skills.
    A more experienced rider can still have a great time on the Himalayan though. That is, as long as they don’t have high expectations on performance. You can ride it fast and it’s got a big enough performance envelope to get your thrills, but if you are looking for a strong dose of adrenaline, this isn’t the bike.

    With its soft power delivery, experienced riders wanting to push the bike may find it difficult to get the rear tire spinning (steering with the rear) or get the front wheel up. The scooped out seat also limits your options for transferring weight for different terrain, and getting your weight over the front wheel to maximize traction proved challenging in the seated position.
    The stand up ergos feel more like a dirt bike than when seated. Bars are a good h, even for taller riders, and the bike doesn’t feel cramped. The serrated pegs were nicely sized and grippy with the rubber covers off, although feet did get knocked around more often in the rutted out terrain due to the low peg position. I also noticed the rear subframe bows your legs out around the calves when standing. And if you’ve got big feet, the right side exhaust under the pegs intrudes on heal movement a bit.

    Despite some limitations for hard-edged off-road riding, the Himalayan was a lot of fun on our muddy test course and everyone seemed to be enjoying the ride. The bike was nimble and easy to manage on the slick trails, even with road-biased 70/30 Pirelli MT60 dual sport tires. A few test riders did have tip overs but the Himalayan seemed to take a fall well. No broken or scratched up plastics, a broken mirror was the only casualty we saw.
    The Bottom Line

    Royal Enfield is the oldest continuously produced motorcycle company (since 1901) and also the fastest growing. Much of the recent success is due to their focus on fun, accessible, and affordable middleweight motorcycles. With the Himalayan, they’ve created a back to basics bike; what motorcycling used to be. And with its combination of accessibility, ruggedness, unique styling, and affordable price, its the kind of bike that could open doors to a whole new group of motorcycle owners.
    Clearly the Himalayan is a great adventure bike for newer riders with a great price, but experienced riders can also enjoy and appreciate it too. Even if you own a big-bore adventure tourer or a high-performance dual sport, this might be the perfect second bike for more casual expeditions. There are also a lot of riders that are getting up in age and their backs aren’t up to lifting a dropped 600-pound motorcycle anymore.
    Royal Enfield’s new state-of-the-art production plant in Chennai, India has instated rigorous quality standards. Every Himalayan is also put through a 100-point inspection when it arrives in the US before shipping out to dealers.
    Royal Enfield has generated a lot of excitement about their new middleweight ADV Bike but there is still some questions people have about quality control. To address this, Royal Enfield put in place much stricter controls and inspection processes in recent years. They also opened a state-of-the-art 50-acre production plant in Chennai, India in 2017 where the Himalayan motorcycles are produced.
    The Himalayan has also been in production for two years overseas, so its already had a shakedown before coming to the US. The Royal Enfield dealer network has been steadily growing in the US as well. All great signs for the launch of the Himalayan and future success for the historic brand. We look forward to getting our hands on a Himalayan for more extensive testing. Stay tuned for more to come! New Himalayan motorcycles are currently in route to the US from India. Look for them on dealer floors mid-April 2018.
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    2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan Specs
    Engine Type: Single cylinder, air-cooled, 4 stroke, SOHC Displacement: 411cc Bore & Stroke: 78mm x 86mm Compression: 9.5:1 Max. Power Output: 24.5 BHP @ 6500 RPM Max. Torque 26 ft-lbs Fuel System: Fuel injected Ignition System: TCI, multi-curve Engine Start: Electric only Fuel Capacity: 4 gallons Fuel Efficiency: 70 MPG (estimated) Lubrication: Wet Sump Clutch Wet, multi-plate Gearbox / Transmission Type: 5 speed constant mesh Final Drive: O-ring chain Frame Type: Half-duplex split cradle frame Suspension (front): Telescopic 41mm forks, 7.9 in. (200mm) Travel Suspension (rear): Monoshock with linkage, 7.1 in. (180mm) Travel., preload adjustable Dimensions (L x W x H): 86 in. x 33 in. x 53 in. Wheelbase: 58 in. Seat Height: 31.5 in. (29.9 in. low seat) Ground Clearance: 9 in. Wet Weight: 401 lbs. Tires (front): 90/90-21″ Tires (rear): 120/90-17″ Brakes (front): 300mm single disc, 2-piston floating caliper Brakes (rear): 240mm single disc, single piston floating caliper Electrical System: 12 Volt DC Alternator Output: 220 Watts Instruments: 12 Volt, 8 AH VRLA Headlight: 12V H4 60/55 W Taillight: LED Color Options: Snow and Granite MSRP: $4,499 .
    • Helmet: Arai XD-4 Vision
    • Jacket: REV’IT! Dominator GTX
    • Pants: REV’IT! Dominator 2 GTX
    • Gloves: REV’IT! Dominator
    • Boots: Falco Avatour
    • Bluetooth Headset: Sena 10c
  3. Like
    Advpulse got a reaction from Noni in Meet the Fearless Woman Who Made History Riding Round the World   
    Published on 03.05.2018
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    Riding around the world was a little different 36 years ago. There were few choices for long-range dual sport motorcycles. No email, no GPS, no internet. No reliable maps in some parts of the world. And if you got yourself into a jam, there were no cell phones or SPOT messengers to get you out, only your own resourcefulness.
    In 1982, a time when it was unusual for women to travel long-distances by motorcycle, Elspeth Beard set off on a bold solo journey around the world at the age of 23. In this engaging video animation, Elspeth tells her story of what it was like riding the world during those times. She recalls how people used to assume she was a man and how they treated her like an alien just walked through the door when she took off her helmet.

    © Courtesy of Elspeth Beard
    Her determined spirit got her through everything from war zones to mechanical failures and two big accidents that took weeks to recover from. Even bouts of Hepatitis and Dysentery didn’t stop her from continuing. After two years riding her 1974 BMW R60/6 more than 35,000 miles across 20 countries, Elspeth would become the first British woman to ride around the world on a motorcycle.
    Elspeth Beard’s fearlessness reminds us how much easier it is now to travel around the world on a motorcycle, and encourages us all to pursue our own audacious journeys. It’s also a solemn reminder that the world gets smaller every year as globalization takes hold. She recounts how some of her best experiences occurred while getting lost and that opportunities for discovery no longer exist when you are following a red line on a screen. The golden age of exploring ‘truly’ foreign lands may be coming to a close, but we still have plenty of opportunities for adventure today. Let’s hope it stays that way for another 36 years.
    To read more about Elspeth’s travels, check out her website and her book Lone Rider that chronicles her journey.
  4. Like
    Advpulse got a reaction from Noni in Closer Look: KTM’s All-New 450 Rally Machine Racing in The Dakar   
    The new KTM 450 Rally debuted in all-black at Morocco’s OiLibya Rallye.
    To understand the all-new KTM 450 Rally you have to understand KTM’s dominance at Dakar. A machine of the Austrian company’s creation has won the bike class every single year since 2001. You read that correctly; for sixteen years in a row they have bested every other motorcycle manufacturer entered in the competition.
    What’s even more impressive is the fact that they have managed to do it with bikes of all different cylinder capacities. In 2001 they won with a 660cc, then the following year a 950cc, the four years after that they did it with 660’s again, then three 690’s and seven consecutive with the current 450cc regulations. When KTM says “Ready to Race” they mean ready to win!

    Despite their continued success, KTM has not grown complacent. They continue to strive for excellence in their quest to stay on top. The 2018 450 Rally has been years in the making and aside from some aesthetic similarities to its 450cc predecessors, this bike is a whole new animal. It’s also an integral piece in defending KTM’s legacy at the Dakar Rally.
    What the specifications don’t tell you is that this 450 has a whole new chassis, engine, suspension, fuel tanks and exhaust system among a host of other improvements. The specs also don’t allude to the fact that the new rally is the most nimble and maneuverable KTM 450 Rally to date. According to reliable sources like Matthias Walkner and Laia Sanz, this is the most stable rally bike KTM has ever produced. This is accredited to measures like moving the swing arm to the inside of the chassis, reworking the suspension to include bigger 52mm forks and completely redesigning the bike’s carbon-fiber subframe.

    “I think with the input of the younger riders, the bike has progressed a lot and suits the riding style of today. The old bike was a product of the racing as it used to be five or six years ago. Riders like Marc Coma and Jordi Viladoms, who were used to riding the larger capacity machines, perhaps had a different style to how we ride now,” says Matthias Walkner.
    Another vital upgrade that aids stability is dual electric fuel pumps allowing riders to distribute weight as circumstances require. With all that has changed, KTM still managed to shave 22 pounds (10 kilos) and make the ergonomics more suitable for the rigors of rally. Simply put, this bike was created from the ground up with the sole purpose of aiding the world’s best riders in winning the most extreme race on the planet.

    “It’s not only lighter and faster but it’s more stable and that makes such a difference on the stages.” – Laia Sanz
    The new KTM 450 Rally is truly an impressive feat of engineering and a worthy successor to KTM’s dominant Rally Bikes of the past. No doubt, it should be more than capable of bringing the brand their 17th win in a row at Dakar. As of Stage 6, Honda and Yamaha hold the #1 and #2 positions in the overall lead and the 2016 Dakar Champion riding for KTM, Sam Sunderland, went out in Stage 4 with a back injury. Can the Red Bull KTM Factory Team pull it off again this year?
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    2018 KTM 450 Rally Specifications
    Engine Type: Single cylinder, 4-stroke, 449.3cc Engine Management: Keihin EMS with electronic fuel injection Transmission: 6 gears, final drive 14:48, wet multi-disc clutch Cooling: Liquid cooled Chassis: Chromium molybdenum trellis steel frame, self-supporting carbon subframe Front Suspension: 52 mm WP USD forks, 11.8 in travel Rear Suspension: WP shock absorber with linkage, 11.8 in travel Brake Rotors: Front 300 mm, rear 240 mm Moto-Master Exhaust Silencer: Akrapovič, titanium Fuel Capacity: Approx. 8.2 gallons (31 liters) Dry Weight: 304 lbs (138 kg) .
    About the Author: Spencer Hill “The Gear Dude” has been fueling his motorcycle addiction with adventure since first swinging his leg over a bike in 2010. Whether he’s exploring his own backyard in the Pacific Northwest or crisscrossing the United States, Spencer is always in search of scenic off road routes, epic camping locations and the best gear possible. He began writing shortly after taking up two-wheel travel to share his experiences and offer insight with his extensive backpacking, camping and overland background. Photos Courtesy Marcin Kin