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  1. Long before I rode the three-wheeled over Austria’s legendarily twisty Grossglockner Pass at breakneck speeds or even saw the bike in person, I knew it was good at one thing: raising eyebrows. We motorcyclists are a skeptical, conservative bunch (even if we like to think otherwise), and something as unconventional as the Niken is bound to prompt loads of questions. What is it, what’s it like to ride, who is it for, and perhaps most importantly, what’s the point? What is that?! We haven’t seen anything as weird as the Niken since Honda pulled the cover of its NM4. Outboard forks, that flared fairing, and those squinting LED headlights give the Niken a broad-shouldered, menacing look. These and many, many more queries were bouncing around in my head in the days leading up to the international press launch of the Niken in Kitzbühel, Austria. Seat time on this wild three-wheeler cleared the air on a number of topics for me, so hopefully what’s written here will help bring things into focus for you too. What’s The Point? Let’s kick things off with the existential inquiry. Why does this thing exist? Rather than being the answer to a question nobody asked, the Niken is the result of a 10-year quest to build a motorcycle with “unprecedented front-end grip.” Adding another front wheel was how engineers met that goal. Is it a motorcycle? It leans and countersteers, it has a clutch and a manual transmission. It doesn’t balance on its own. It even does wheelies. Other than the fact that there’s an extra wheel up front, it checks all the right boxes. In other words it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it just doesn’t look like a duck. Weird as it looks, the Niken rides like a normal motorcycle. That additional front wheel essentially doubles front-end traction, leading to a nice boost in confidence while ripping through corners—especially when road conditions are less than ideal. What Is It, And How Does It Work? The Niken is essentially an with a two-wheeled front end that’s supposed to give the bike exceptional front-end grip. From the headstock back things are conventional—you’re looking at a new, tubular-steel frame holding an 847cc triple with a slightly heavier crankshaft, a longer aluminum swingarm, a lower, larger seat, the switchgear and dash from the MT-10, and a wider, higher handlebar that’s several inches closer to your lap. In front of that handlebar, however, things get weird. Under an expanse of curving fairing plastic is an arrangement of linkages and pivots that put two wheels on the road and allow the Niken to lean (up to 45 degrees) and steer like a conventional two wheeler. This linkage arrangement is the key to the Niken’s ability to lean like a regular two-wheeler. From this angle you can see the huge, cast-aluminum parallel links (light gray in this image), equally large secondary headstocks (with tapered roller bearings), upper fork yoke, and tie-rod with offset steering yokes. The offset avoids tire scrubbing by allowing the front wheels to maintaining independent paths while cornering. Side-to-side inclination is accomplished with a stacked set of massive, transverse cast-aluminum links that keep the wheels aligned in the vertical plane as the bike leans. At either end of the parallel links, secondary headstocks angled just 20 degrees from vertical hold tandem fork tubes that support cantilevered 15-inch wheels with automotive-style lug nuts. Steering input is transferred from the handlebar to a tie-rod at a 1:1 ratio, and offset endlinks ensure Ackermann geometry is maintained so that both wheels follow their own arcs, thereby avoiding slippage and scrubbing while cornering. In the end, there’s an additional 100 pounds of hardware and one more traction-producing tire on the ground. The wheels reside 410mm (about 16 inches) apart, with their contact patches trailing just 74mm behind the steering axes. The Niken’s linkage design, aggressive steering geometry, 50/50 laden-weight distribution, and wheel size were all chosen in an effort to give the bike light and natural handling. What’s It Like To Ride? I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly didn’t think the Niken would feel so, well, normal. There is a sense that the contact patch(es) are a long way from the grips, but it’s no more peculiar than your first spin on a Telelever BMW. You still countersteer (unlike on a Can-Am Spyder or a wheels-in-the-back trike), and the Niken leans just like you’d expect, though there’s less of a tendency to fall in toward the apex than on a single-track machine. If the Niken’s front end was hidden from view, I don’t think I would have known there was an extra wheel down there. Adding a second front wheels calls for additional hardware that adds approximately 100 pounds to the Niken’s curb weight. To keep the front/rear weight balance close to 50/50, the handlebar and rider position were moved rearward 50mm. Steering action is transmitted forward to the tie-rod via control arms, an adjustable strut, and a pivot shaft that passes through the headstock. Despite the added mass of the front end and all those extra pivots (by my count there are 27 additional bearings!), steering doesn’t take any more effort, at least at low speeds. In terms of balance, the Niken is rock-solid stable while doing figure eights in a parking lot, with the same sort of planted feel you get on a Gold Wing or Road Glide. There’s no self-balancing feature or front-end lockout, so if you don’t put a foot or the sidestand down at stops, you’re going to have 580 pounds of motorcycle to pick up. Once you start slicing through corners on the Niken, what stands out is how anchored that extra contact patch makes the front end feel. It’s on rails, even over cold, wet, dirty, or uneven surfaces, and you quickly realize you’ve got redundant traction. Think about it—even if one wheel is compromised (say, by putting it all the way off the pavement and into the dirt while cornering, which I did for the sake of testing), you still have another tire capable of supporting the front end of the bike. Combine the Niken’s unshakable front-end traction with well-balanced suspension and totally natural-feeling handling and the next thing you know you’re running deep into corners on the brakes, even when there are rivulettes of snowmelt running across the road at the top of the 8,200-foot Grossglockner Pass. Approaching maximum lean angle on the Niken. The parallel linkage on the bike’s front end bottoms out at 45 degrees, so the footpeg feelers touch down at approximately 43 degrees as a warning. Aggressive riders may drag the pegs regularly—as on a two-wheeler, leaning off will help! If there’s anything that holds the Niken back on a twisty road, it’s the footpegs touching down. They kiss the pavement at 43 degrees of lean, just two degrees before the parallel linkage bottoms, at which point you’re running wide. There’s also no getting around the fact that the Niken is heavy and has a fairly long wheelbase. The wide bar helps keep steering light, but once you’re hauling ass and making quick direction changes the Niken is less nimble. The significant added weight (both on the chassis and on the crankshaft) stunts the performance of the three-cylinder engine as well. Even so, it’s still a torquey and dynamic motor that’s made even more exciting thanks to a standard quickshifter. On top of the fact that the Niken is fun to ride, it’s also got a comfy seat and upright ergos, and the ride quality is sport-tourer plush. I was concerned about how the dual front wheels would cope with rough roads and expected the bike to pitch sideways if one wheel hit a large bump, but it doesn’t. I even went so far as to put a wheel up on a curb and ride parallel to it. The front-end linkage let one wheel ride 4 inches higher than the other while the chassis remained perpendicular to the ground. Who Is It For? If you’re like me, you saw that third wheel and immediately assumed the Niken is just another crutch for folks who aren’t up for balancing on their own. As it turns out, the Niken is not aimed at beginners, but rather experienced riders who Yamaha categorizes as either “innovation oriented,” “experience oriented,” or “function oriented.” Other than looking a little odd due the huge front-end shroud, the view from the Niken’s cockpit is conventional. The switches and dash are from the MT-09 and the bike offers adjustable TC and ride modes, as wells as cruise control. The mirrors are low but very functional. Same goes for the windscreen. That handlebar is quite wide—35mm wider than the FJ-09’s, in fact. It took a conversation with Yamaha Europe’s Motorcycle Product Manager Leon Oosterhof to set me straight about the beginner-bike thing. “This is a performance machine, for experienced riders only,” Oosterhof says. “If it were for beginners, we’d have a different design altogether. It would be smaller, with perhaps an automatic transmission, a wider stance, and tilt lock.” Instead, the Niken has 105-ish horsepower, a quickshifter, and it’ll fall over if you don’t keep it balanced. Of course it has safety features like TC (that you can turn off) and ABS (that you can’t), but that stuff is status quo these days. I pushed the topic further, positing that the Niken is just a Tricity scooter (the three-wheeled leaning scooter Yamaha launched in Asia and Europe in 2014) on steroids. Oosterhof anticipated that comparison. “So does that mean a Ford Fiesta is the same as a Mustang? The Tricity and Niken have three wheels and lean. Both Fords have four wheels and a steering wheel, but they’re designed for very different purposes and drivers.” Furthermore, the narrow stance of the front wheels mean the Niken is classified as a motorcycle in Europe and America, so you’ll need a motorcycle license to ride it. Does It Stop Faster Than A Two-Wheeler? With two front wheels, the expectation is that the Niken must shed speed like it has reverse thrusters. But the Niken just has more traction than normal, not more braking hardware. There are two discs and two four-piston calipers at work, but those discs are fairly small at 265.6mm, which means less leverage against the contact patches. Twin fork tubes support cantilevered axles and 15-inch wheels shod with a 120/70-15 Bridgestone A41 tires. Discs are fairly small at 265.5mm, and the four-piston calipers are familiar parts from the FJ-09. The forks are mounted outboard the wheels for maximum lean-angle articulation. The rear tube is 43mm and contains a spring and compression and rebound circuitry, which is adjustable. The 41mm rear tube is empty and simply adds rigidity and strength. So on dry pavement when traction is good, the Niken isn’t going to stop any faster than a two-wheeler. But, when road conditions are poor and traction is low, you’d better believe the Niken is going to stop in less distance and with less drama than a traditional bike. Mashing the reach-adjustable front brake lever to simulate an emergency stop, the back of the bike dances as the rear tire comes off the ground and the ABS kicks in. The front wheels are independently controlled, so one wheel might be deep into the ABS while the other is gripping well. Even when that happens the bike doesn’t swerve to one side or get unbalanced. Stability is the name of the game with the Niken. Would I Buy One? The pragmatist in me recognizes and appreciates the Niken’s benefits. All that extra front-end traction gives you a greater margin of safety than any two-wheeler, yet the bike feels so natural to ride. You gain a lot without giving up the classic motorcycling experience. Hello old friend! First enjoyed on the then-new 2014 FZ-09, Yamaha’s 847cc “CP3” triple is a crowd favorite thanks to its linear power delivery and feisty sound and character. It’s been adapted for use in the Niken with a heavier crank, stouter gearbox, revised fueling, and shorter final-drive gearing. The last CP3 we ran on the dyno made about 105 hp and 60 pound-feet of torque. If I lived in the Pacific Northwest or the Rockies or somewhere else that has great roads but loads of inclement weather, I’d consider the Niken. I would also definitely add one to my garage if I was a wealthy man. (But I’d also have lots of other bikes, like a Ural sidecar and a H-D Forty-Eight Special). But I’m not rich, and the Niken is probably going to cost about $15,000 or $16,000 when it becomes available later this year. And as a pragmatist, I can’t help but look at all those bearings that’ll need service, those two additional forks seals that’ll eventually start leaking, and the cost of buying three tires instead of two. Tack those projected maintenance costs onto the initial investment and lots of other bikes become more appealing. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . In The End... After riding 200 miles on some of the most incredible roads in the world, I wasn’t sad to have done it on a three-wheeler. The only thing I was sad about was that the ride was over—because ripping around on the Niken was a lot of fun. I’m surprised by how the Niken works and how conventional it feels. There’s no adjustment period or adaptation required to ride it; all the skills, instincts, and muscle memory you’ve cultivated over the years carry over perfectly. Even if the Niken isn’t for you, it’s worth recognizing that this bike is the result of Yamaha pushing the boundaries of the sport and existing technologies, and you kind of have to respect the company for taking the risk. If you don’t like it, no worries, Yamaha and other manufacturers have loads of excellent two-wheelers you can enjoy. But if you’re gonna knock the Niken as a waste of effort or resources, then maybe you should forego your fuel injection and radial tires and go back to riding a horse. Because without experimentation and risk taking, that’s all we’d be riding. Yessir, it does wheelies! Leading up to the press launch the wheelie question loomed large among certain members of the Cycle World staff. All CP3-powered machines have a penchant for standing up on the rear wheel, and that’s a characteristic that’s carried forward by the Niken too. TECH SPEC PRICE TBD ENGINE 847cc liquid-cooled triple TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain CLAIMED HORSEPOWER NA CLAIMED TORQUE 64.5 lb.-ft. @ 8500 rpm FRAME Tubular-steel trellis FRONT SUSPENSION KYB 43/41mm fork with adjustable compression and rebound damping; 4.7-in. travel REAR SUSPENSION KYB shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 4.9-in. travel FRONT BRAKE Tokico four-piston caliper, 265.5mm discs with ABS REAR BRAKE Tokico two-piston, 298mm disc with ABS RAKE/TRAIL 20.0°/2.9 in. WHEELBASE 59.4 in. SEAT HEIGHT 32.3 in. FUEL CAPACITY 4.8 gal. CLAIMED WEIGHT 580 lbs. dry AVAILABLE Fall 2018 CONTACT Sursa
  2. Quick modifications are easily made on the 1997 Harley-Davidson Dyna Convertible thanks to the detachable windshield and saddlebags. This article was originally published in the June-July 1997 issue of Cycle World's Big Twin magazine. There’s no question who is the ultimate arbiter of new-bike design at Harley-Davidson: . and Louie Netz in the styling department swing the big stick. Harley’s engineers may know that longer suspension travel will produce a better ride, that a bigger airbox and mufflers will produce more power, or that a particular frame design is stronger and lighter than an alternative; but if that “superior” design doesn’t produce The Look, that all-American-Harley image the styling department wants to create, it will rarely find its way into production. Of course, the engineers have won a few of those battles over the years, victories that may have cost them the war. Back when still worked at Harley, for example, he headed up the team that gave us the FXRT, a bike that worked much better than it looked, but looked much better than it sold. And the FXRS Sport was conceived in part to support the function-over-styling preferences of engineering types; from a sales standpoint, though, it barely managed a few infield singles while Softails and other styling-intensive models were hitting them out of the park. Which brings us to the Convertible. The first model to bear that name was based on the FXRS, and it arrived just as the FXRT was departing the Harley line. That original Convertible was designed to give sport-touring Big Twin loyalists a place to go, but in a more conventionally Harley-looking package. It not only had a “sport windshield”—Harley parlance for a Plexiglas windbreak bolted to the fork—but that screen and the classic-looking soft saddlebags were quickly removable. It was a cross between sport-touring and cruising, a quick-change artist that could be a clean-looking cruiser one minute, a backroad tourer 10 minutes later. And it was far more warmly received by the buying public than the FXRT. It offers the possibility of virtually instant conversion from be-widowed and saddlebagged touring mount to bare-bones classic cruiser. So, when the rubber-glides gave way completely to the Dyna series, it was certain there would be a Dyna-based Convertible. But maintaining its “Sport” heritage would require some performance changes in the Dyna chassis, particularly to the steering-head angle. Fortunately, those changes came rather easily, because when H-D engineer Rit Booth de­signed the chassis, he intended it to have more production-line versatility than the FXR chassis. So, the Dyna’s entire steering head was built as a one-piece steel in­vestment casting that plugs into the frame backbone and downtubes, and that can be welded in place with a lot less effort than required for the FXR frame. More importantly, the Dyna frame jigs were designed to accept different steering-head castings as a matter of course. So, it was easy to give the Convertible (and the base Dyna, the FXD) a steering head that pulled the rake down to 28 degrees compared to the 32 of the other Dyna models. The steeper rake also reduced front-wheel trail, down to 4.0 inches from the desert-sled 5.1 inches of the current Dyna Low Rider, for instance. The Dyna Convertible makes for a good ride when you hit some rough road. You can notice the quicker steering on your first ride aboard a Convertible. At low speeds, the steering tracks true, not falling into the corner the way the more raked-out models do. And at higher speeds, you don’t have to use as much muscle to turn the bike into a corner. It’s not that the steering has become hyperactive—the FXDS is still un­flappable down endless straights and interstates. It’s just that it likes to turn, trading away a tiny bit of the locomotive stability of the more cruiser-oriented Dynas for a much larger increase in agility. If you happen to be a hard-cornering rider, you’ll quickly notice the other significant difference in the Convertible’s chassis. Pitch the bike into a turn quickly enough that other Big Twins would leave steel and aluminum on the pavement, and the Convertible arcs through as if on a tether, without any nasty, grinding, abrasive sounds. Why? Because it sits higher on its longer-travel suspension than do the other Dynas. According to the Motor Company, the Convertible has 4.7 inches of rear-wheel travel, and 6.9 inches in front. That lifts it enough that it can lean 5 degrees farther than the lower-slung Dyna models before hard parts touch down. Of course, the seat is raised, too; at 27.8 inches, the Convertible’s saddle sits some 1.2 inches higher than a Dyna Low Rider’s. The longer suspension also makes for better bump absorption and a better ride. So, even if you aren’t pretending to be Chris Carr taking a Big Twin into Daytona’s Turn One, you’ll appreciate the way the Convertible can roll over a city-street drainage channel or a big pothole without hammering shock waves up your spine. On the road, there’s a lot else to appreciate about the FXDS. Like all other Dynas, the rubber engine mounts produce outstanding smoothness at highway speeds; the engine may be buzzing away at 75 mph, but none of that shaking makes it through those mounts to you. Ergonomically, the Convertible is equally pleasant. With your feet out on the highway pegs, you’re in a comfortable cruiser slouch. The buckhorn handlebar leans you back slightly and places your hands at a natural angle without requiring any bend in your wrist. The back of the seat is high enough to give you a smidgen of back support, and the screen parts the air efficiently enough that you could easily imagine traveling from Harley’s museum in York, Pennsylvania, to Daytona in one very long day’s ride if you were so inclined. The tall windscreen can be adjusted for h and angle, or removed altogether—with only a single Allen wrench. There’s enough adjustment to let you set the screen so you can just peer over the top of it, or so you can look through it. The former is our preference, but it exposes you to turbulence whirling past; the latter leaves you trying to peer through water drops in the rain and some distortion around the upper edge. A ride for anyone desiring a good-handling and good-riding touring/cruising rig. The other part of the touring equation, the saddlebags, requires only the loosening of a thumbscrew for removal; you can whip them on or off in seconds. And although they may look like classic Pony Express pouches, these bags have been designed as true hybrids, with a hard-plastic back and metal frame connecting them to the bike. The woven nylon outer cover opens with a zipper, and that is covered with a cosmetic leather flap held down with a massive buckle and a single snap. While the leather cover gives the bags a classic look, it’s about as purposeful as propellers on a 747; the flap and the buckle serve mainly to slow access. Chalk one up for The Look over convenience. When it comes to engine performance, chalk one up for the Government. Current noise regulations thoroughly strangle the Dyna’s Big Twin in stock form, and it cries out to be uncorked. The injected motor in the FLs would be at home here, and provide better performance and livability—but at the expense of limiting your hot-rodding op­tions. It would be nice if The Motor Company gave you the choice, but that’ll probably have to wait until the designers find some way of shrinking the bulky black-box control unit required by the injected engine. Once the Convertible gets rolling, however, the dual-disc front brake is capable of bringing it to a quick, easy sure stop from any speed. So, in the end, the Convertible serves its function-with-style role well. As Louie Netz notes, Harley’s “more-functional bikes have been overshadowed by the rapid growth in the custom and nostalgia areas, and by classic touring bikes. But they have loyal followings, and we want to continue to satisfy those niches.” For anyone desiring a good-handling, good-riding Big Twin that isn’t penalized by excess weight and can cover a lot of territory comfortably, the Dyna Convertible is the an­swer. It also offers the possibility of virtually instant conversion from be-windowed and saddlebagged touring mount to bare-bones, classic cruiser. That’s a skill worth having, a niche worth filling, and the Convertible does it well. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . Highs Good ride on rough road Excellent ground clearance Engine is very smooth Bags come off easily, minimum hardware left on bike Lows No power Sounds like a lawnmower Sursa
  3. It’s easy to follow suit and be part of the status quo when it comes to gear choice. For newer riders it seems kinda stale, so we sought some real culture-inspired apparel to test this summer, including two retro helmets from Nexx in Portugal, skate-influenced shoes from Roland Sands Design in Southern California, and a boilersuit from El Solitario in Spain. We’ll be wearing this gear for the next few months and file a proper review once we’ve been mocked and castigated by old-schoolers at Alice’s Restaurant. : $650 Be courageous. Winston Churchill wore one during World War II, The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend wore one on stage in the late ’60s, and it was the garb of choice for movie villains Michael Myers (Halloween) and Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th). The boilersuit (known to most as coveralls) is typically worn by male and female mechanics, so it’s no surprise that Spanish motorcycle company El Solitario has developed its own interpretation for riders. The Bonneville khaki coveralls are made from genuine 14-ounce red selvedge denim, manufactured by a family operation in Tunisia. Company founder David Borras (whose Harley ADV was featured ) wears his everywhere, and recommends using a layer of extra protection underneath for longer and faster adventures. The knees, shoulders, and neck are quilted, with adjustable and buttoned wrist and leg cuffs. There are pockets galore, an adjustable/removable waist belt with brass metal buckle, with two button chest pockets (one angled, one upright). Sizing: S–XXL. : $430 Daft Punk indeed. There’s a Daft Punk look here, but Nexx is more interested in protection and function, using its X-Matrix Shell made of multiaxial fiberglass, with a mix of 3-D organic fibers, special aramid fibers, and carbon reinforcement to create a modern café racer lid. The shield closes with a firm detent and uses spun aluminum pivot hardware, similar to the popular Bell Bullitt. Limited venting on the chinbar with a vertical mesh slot. Colors: Titanium/Yellow, Green/Yellow. Weight: 2.6 pounds/1,200 grams. Sizing: XS–M and L–XXL (two shell sizes). : $200 Skater-influenced with extra safety tech. I like the idea of wearing Vans skate shoes when riding, but in my neck of the woods there’s enough rain and cold weather to warrant something a bit stouter and waterproof. The Roland Sands Design Fresno riding shoes carry that skater look but add important tech features like a reinforced shank, abrasion-resistant shift pads on the toe box, and a Hipora waterproof membrane. The top-grain cowhide uppers are already proving to be durable, and the reinforced heel cup keeps my foot in place over the multi-density insole. And the reflective lightning bolts on the back adds a Bowie-esque safety touch. Colors: Black, Black Gum, Tobacco. Sizing: 8.5–11 in half sizes; 12 and 13. : $400 When you’re riding tastes include gravel and dirt. Flat-track looks with lightweight protection and removable peak visor, an ideal helmet for tearing up the trails or taking the scrambler through town to meet friends. Mesh chin and forehead venting allows just enough airflow on warm days. Colors: Black, Yellow. Weight: 2.6 pounds/1,200 grams. Sizing: XS–M and L–XXL (two shell sizes). Sursa
  4. For 1999, the Buell Cyclone M2 received not only improvements, but a complete character transplant. This article was originally published in the February-March 1999 issue of Cycle World's Big Twin magazine. The engineers at have been at it again. They’ve taken a perfectly good motorcycle, the 1998 Cyclone M2, and tweaked and changed it until the ’99 model isn’t just improved; it has received a complete character transplant. The ’98 Cyclone was a good, competent machine, but the new one beats with the heart of last year’s White Lightning. And so it should. In 1998, the Cyclone was propelled by an engine that shared cams and heads with recent-model Sportsters. This year, Buell Thunderstorm heads—the big-valve units that helped pump the White Lightning up to 100 horsepower and that Harley’s P&A division now offers as an accessory—sit atop the new Cyclone’s cylinders; the cams remain the relatively short-duration Sportster-spec units. Combine all of those tuning factors with a 10.0:1 compression ratio, and you get a hot-rod tractor, an engine that starts pulling hard just off idle, hits harder yet in the midrange, then happily and willingly winds out to 6000 rpm and beyond. The Cyclone puts out more peak power than the original Lightning, yet thoroughly crushes that machine in the mid­range. And that’s with a stock muffler; almost any aftermarket muffler or Buell’s soon-to-come, second-generation race pipe will boost the midrange yet higher. Big-iron power comes in a well-thought-out package. Those busy Beullists didn’t leave the rest of the Cyclone alone, either. The company listens very closely to its customers, both current and potential, and complaints and desires are dealt with quickly. Start with the most obvious. A big, 5.0-gallon gas tank—the manta-ray design originally intended for the S3 and fitted last year to the White Lightning—replaces the tiny, 2.9-gallon tank of the ’98 Cyclone. The right frame tube was recontoured to allow the exhaust pipe to pass under rather than over it, thus helping to alleviate a hot spot near the rider’s thigh. Also new are the seat and tailsection, a solid break away from the early Buell theory that tractor-saddle-shaped seats could substitute for simple area. The Cyclone’s seat now stretches 13 inches across, and it provides better cushioning and more room for both rider and passenger. The ignition key has been moved from an under-tank grope to a more rational location on the dash panel. And suspension rates have been altered to provide a better ride. This latest Cyclone also has the good fortune to share some of the hardware recently added to the line’s more expensive S3/X1 models. A one-piece, cast-aluminum swing­arm now graces the back of all Buells, as do forged shift levers, brake levers and footpegs. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . But while design refinement has come to the Cyclone, the real litmus test is in the riding. Put the barrel-shaped key in the easy-to-access ignition, twist the throttle a few times to let the accelerator pump squirt a bit of fuel into the intake tract, thumb the starter, and the engine lumbers to life. If you don’t pull the under-tank choke lever, you’ll have to keep blipping the throttle (to activate the accelerator pump) for the first few seconds before the idle stabilizes on its own. With the M2's wide, flat, meaty torque curve, yanking the front wheel off the ground in first gear isn't something you make the bike do; it's something you make the bike not do. As on all Buells, the engine shudders and jumps about on its rubber mounts at low rpm. But the instant you click the M2 into gear and ride off, the shuddering goes away. And from the rider’s perspective, the rubber-mount system cuts vibration to a trivial level, felt mostly at idle or when lugging in top gear. At anything above 3000 rpm—though a tachometer isn’t standard equipment—the engine smoothes noticeably. If you whack the throttle wide-open while the engine is still cool, the Cyclone surges forward in first gear with the front wheel lofting off the pavement, rising even higher with a quick shift to second. Irresponsible hooliganism, of course, but fun. Even when the engine is thoroughly warm, its midrange power is so stout that you want to twist the throttle just to feel that solid lunge forward—a lunge that turns into a long-range pull as the revs climb. You’d have to put a pile of money into a Big Twin or Sportster engine to create one that’s as quick as this box-stocker. Buell listened closely to its customers complaints and desires and dealt with them quickly. That big-iron power also comes in a well-thought-out package. The riding position is sporty, but not radically so, with a handlebar that pulls you slightly forward, into a mild lean. The footpegs are aft compared to those on any Harley, but about two inches forward and lower than those of the S1 or X1. Overall, the position is both comfortable and roomy. The new seat cuddles you in a broad, well-padded perch, a first for any Buell. Even the passenger accommodations are roomy. All of this combines to create a bike that can handle just about anything you can throw at it. In the city, the torquey power, the quick steering, the powerful front brake all encourage an aggressive riding style. But if you’re feeling mellow, you can just wallow lazily in the lower part of the power range. Out on the highway, the smoothness and comfortable riding position encourage you to drain the big tank; and at 52-plus mpg, you have to cover almost 175 miles just to hit Reserve. From its racing-red color to its two-passenger comfort, from its user-friendly powerband to its buyer-friendly price, the Cyclone M2 is arguably the best—and certainly the most practical—Buell of all. Passing at freeway speeds, even two-up, requires nothing more than a quick twist of the throttle. At 75 mph, the Cyclone is sitting in the fat part of its torque curve, and it just gets better—and does it quickly—from there up to 100 mph. But any time a downshift is required, you’ll find that the light-flywheeled Buells are the best-shifting machines with a Milwaukee-built engine. On twisty backroads, the Cyclone boogies, though not quite on par with the Lightning. The softer springs fitted to this year’s M2 let the footpegs touch down before the tires are squirming at their limits, and they also allow the fork to bottom under hard braking. For ultimate cornering, other Buells are better. Which i’s not to say that the M2 won’t hustle down a backroad quickly; a comparable rider on, say, a 1200 Sportster Sport would struggle to keep up. It’s just that Buell engineers have decided that for the ’99 Cyclone, a better ride is worth more than ultimate cornering. Given the bike’s high overall performance limits, we won’t quibble with their decision. A one-piece, cast-aluminum swingarm now graces the back of all Buells, as do forged shift levers, brake levers, and footpegs. In the final accounting, however, the most amazing thing about the new Cyclone M2 is its price. When the first Cyclone was introduced in 1997, it listed for $9,299. A price cut for ’98 dropped the MSRP to $8,399—but for much less machine than the original. This new M2 is, by some measures, the best, most versatile bike in the Buell lineup, yet its list price is a mere $8,599. It’ll be a long time before you find a better price/performance package at your lo­cal Harley/Buell dealer. Sursa
  5. The Road Glide is a smooth, comfortable, easy-handling touring rig that even offers enough engine performance to exhilarate. This article was originally published in the February-March 1999 issue of Cycle World's Big Twin magazine. What a difference a year can make. Or, more accurately, what a difference a model-year and a new motor can make. It was 10 months ago (April-May, ’98 issue) that we tested one of The Motor Company’s new models for 1998, . We gave that bike a hearty thumbs-up for its overall competence and comfort level, but did think it could stand improvement in one important area: power. Over the years, ever-more-stringent emissions regulations had effectively strangled the Evo engine, not leaving much reserve power for necessary tasks such as uphill passing, brisk two-up acceleration or quick zips in and out of slower traffic. Well, the necessary help has arrived. The FLTRI Road Glide is back for ’99, but with a bigger, better bullet in the engine bay: the all-new Twin Cam 88. The added performance of that motor has transformed the from kind of a snore, acceleration-wise, into a snappy, fun long-distance travel companion.. The most enjoyable aspect of the TC 88 is its absolute willingness to rev. Our test mount was the fuel-injected version, hence the “I” in its FLTRI model designation. The Road Glide and the Electra Glide Classic are the only H-D touring models for 1999 that offer the choice of a carburetor or electronic fuel injection. and Electra Glide Standards are available with carburetors only; the Road King Classic and Electra Glide Ultra Classic are in­jected-only models. Aside from the new “Fathead” engine and a few small details, the 1999 Road Glide is unchanged from the ’98 version. It uses the same rubber-mount, dual-shock chassis, which is shared with all Harley touring models, and the same saddlebags as other hard-bag FLs. Also unchanged from ’98 is the frame-mount, dual-headlight fairing, which is a modified iteration of the fairing that debuted on the 1980 FLT Tour Glide, the company’s first rubber-mount five-speed model. This latest fairing has a more compact look than that original one, and although the low-profile windshield is standard, a variety of other hs is available from H-D. And, of course, the facory equips the fairing with Harley’s latest AM/FM/cassette stereo sound system. Small changes to the ’99 Road Glide include an integrated rear-brake reservoir and master cylinder, with the entire unit located closer to the pedal. Harley did this for a cleaner look and to better accommodate the fitment of the new motor. There’s also a new sealed taillight assembly designed to prevent the lens and re­flector from fogging after a hard rain or a thorough bike wash. And for improved durability, a circuit board replaces much of the taillight hard wiring. Considering how much we liked last year’s Road Glide, we couldn’t wait to get this more-powerful one out on the open road for an ex­tended ride. We decided that in late Autumn, a tour from our Newport Beach offices up to Death Valley would be arepresentative test for the new FLTRI. And fun. So, we packed the Glide’s spacious bags, dug out a California roadmap and pointed the bike north. This would be our first opportunity to tour on a Fathead-powered bike; it turned out to be a a lot of fun ... and a real learning experience for us and for The Motor Company. Nothing new in the cockpit, where all of the instruments and creature comforts are exactly the same as those on last year's Road Glide. But in the Twin Cam 88 motor is something definitely new: power! Once we got out of the L.A. maze and into the desolation of Highway 395, we opened up the Twin Cammer and let ’er breathe. Just as we had hoped, the new motor is a touring rider’s dream—smooth, snappy and deceivingly quick. The fuel injection delivres instantaneous throttle response, with nary a hint of hesitation under any circumstances. But the most enjoyable aspect of the TC 88 is its absolute willingness to rev. Although no stock Harley motor could ever be described as “peaky,” the Twin Cam definitely comes into its own above 3000 rpm. That higher-rpm boost makes two-up riding and passing cars on two-lane roads a lot more fun—and a lot less risky. Maybe it’s the lack of vibration, may­be it’s the motor’s total disregard for the tachometer’s red zone, or maybe ... maybe it’s just the time of man when Harley has finally moved into the 21st century. Whatever the reasons, mechanical or mystical, the 88-inch motor in the Road Glide more than meets our high expectations for overall performance. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . You’ll likely pay a price, however, for your extended high-speed hustling. There’s an old axiom that says, “After the pin is pulled, Mr. Handgrenade is not your friend.” For taller riders, the same is true of the Road Glide’s low windscreen: Above 60 mph, Mr. Windshield isn’t your friend, either. The air that spills over the top of the short shield is turbulent, and it hits tall riders right about in the middle of the forehead. This can be really annoying—and tiring—on long rides, whether or not you’re wearing a helmet. We strongly endorse the optional tall windscreen for anyone who is six feet or more in h. The wind protection from the body of the fairing, though, is highly commendable. After the same day of high-speed riding that tires your head and neck, your torso will be un­scathed and bug-free. Leaving the straight expanse of Highway 395, we turned onto delightfully twisty Highway 190, which leads into Death Valley. Curvy roads offer a special challenge to motorcycles equipped with big touring fairings; and fork-mounted fairings, such as the Electra Glide’s, add mass to the fork that can make the steering sluggish in tight situations. But the Road Glide’s fairing attaches to the frame, thereby putting none of its mass on the fork and allow­ing quicker, easier steering. Obviously, this is not a sportbike by any stretch of the imagination, but it is the most nimble in Harley’s stable of fairing-wearing globetrotters. From the hs of the mountains surrounding Death Valley to the sub-sea-level depths of its basin, the FLTRI's fuel-injection system never balked. As light as the FLTRI feels, though, it still is a true slab-slayer, an interstate-class touring rig with fairing and saddlebags. Which means that sooner or later, it will have every available nook and cranny loaded with a passenger and a small apartment’s worth of stuff. So, we’re pleased to report that not only can the Twin Cam engine move all that weight with ease, so too can the dual-front/single-rear disc brakes slow all of it down predictably and consistently. Our test rider pushed the Road Glide hard through Highway 190’s curvatures for more than 110 uninterrupted miles and never felt a hint of brake fade front or back. Once we finally arrived in Death Valley, we were curious to see how the fuel-injection system would handle the area’s considerable variations in altitude. We started in the basin, at 282 feet below sea level, then climbed up to Dante’s View, which lofts at 5475 feet above it. All the while, the injection system seemed to meter fuel perfectly, and the 88-inch motor ran strong—right up to the moment it died completely. As the bike coasted to a stop, we thought maybe it had run out of gas, but some rudimentary troubleshooting indicated a much more serious problem. Ultimately, we had to call our contact at The Motor Company, who dispatched a representative from the media fleet here in Southern California to the rescue. He loaded the bike in his truck and took it back to the shop, where the problem was discovered: The bolt holding the cam-drive sprocket to the outer end of the rear cam had backed out, al­lowing the sprocket to disengage from the cam; and because the rear cam drives the front cam, neither cam was operating. This problem was not new to Harley’s technical people; apparently, it had occurred on a few Twin Cam 88s out in the field, but never on a test bike. The engineering department be­lieves it has de­veloped a cure, but must test the remedy long enough to ensure its permanence. The company returned our test unit so we could finish our evaluation, but declined to reveal any spe­cifics about the repair until the results are more conclusive. We’ll report them to you as soon as we know them. When we got the bike back five days after our testus interruptus, we set out on another ramble into the desert to continue the on-the-road theme of our test. This time we were traveling two-up, and our passenger informed us early in the ride that she would travel no more forever on this bike unless she had a backrest. Duly noted. The passenger perch is soft, but the seating angle is such that the uneasy rider in the back feels like he or she will be flipped back onto the license plate every time the bike pulls away from a stoplight. At least there are lots of accessories available to fix that problem, either from Harley’s P&A department or other aftermarket sources. Passenger complaints notwithstanding, the FLTRI Twin Cam Road Glide left us with a very positive impression in our minds—and a big grin on our faces. It’s a smooth, comfortable, easy-handling touring rig that even delivers enough engine performance to exhilarate. And at $15,150 (for a solid paint color), it is priced at a reasonable level, only $300 above that of last year’s Evo-powered equivalent. In many ways, this is the best of Harley’s six-model FL series—just a taller windshield and a passenger backrest away from perfection. Sursa
  6. At the earlier this year, Yamaha unveiled its all-new YZ65 youth motocross bike. Big Blue was aware it had a relatively large gap in its product offering between the PW50 to the YZ85, and has filled that gap with the YZ65. The all-new machine features a 65cc, two-stroke, Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS)-equipped engine, KYB suspension components front and rear, and a steel frame. Yamaha invited us out to Competitive Edge MX Park in Hesperia, California, to test the all-new YZ65, and we let our youth test rider Jack Carrigg loose on it to give us his first ride impression. The YZ65 is an all-new model for Yamaha. Engine The power valve-equipped engine is fed by a Keihin PWK 28mm carburetor and fires to life easily with a few kicks, even when cold. The engine sounds crisp and delivers a surprisingly deep and throaty note for a 65 as well. Another thing that’s immediately noticeable is how easy the clutch pull is, a very ideal characteristic for younger riders with smaller hands. On the track, the engine pulled quickly through the gears, which was very impressive, especially considering Carrigg’s 4-foot-10 95-pound stature. The bike accelerates quickly through each gear due to a combination of how fast the engine revs as well as the gearing of the six-speed transmission being pretty close, which required a foot near the shifter most of the time to keep grabbing gears. Lastly, very minimal clutch work was necessary when exiting corners as long as the correct gear was selected. The YZ65 retails for $4,599 and is available beginning this month at Yamaha dealerships. Suspension Similar to the rest of the YZ line, the YZ65 is spec’d with KYB suspension components front and rear. The fork is a 36mm coil-spring unit with rebound and compression damping adjustability and 8.5 inches of travel. Out back, the shock is a link-less design with adjustable spring preload, rebound, and compression damping and 10.6 inches of travel. With the stock settings, the YZ65 felt balanced from front to rear, but Carrigg opted to stiffen the compression a few clicks on the fork and shock to get better hold-up in corners, which helped significantly. The KYB units did a great job of absorbing the small chop as well as the larger jump landings with a plush feeling that ’s KYB suspension has become so well-known for on the full-size bikes. The Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS)-equipped 65cc two-stroke engine delivers an impressive amount of power for a 65 and pulls quickly through each gear. Chassis/Handling The YZ65 uses a high-rigidity steel-tube frame and aluminum subframe and swingarm. Also, the front and rear wheels are blue Excel rims fitted with Maxxis Maxxcross tires. The rider cockpit felt very comfortable, and the seat in particular was slim, flat, offered good grip, and was fairly long, which allowed for ease of movement. The shifter and rear brake placement were spot-on and the footpegs were nice and grippy as well. The bike cornered impressively, especially after stiffening the compression on the fork and shock to get better hold-up. The YZ65 features four position handlebar mounts with 27mm of adjustment range. Carrigg opted to leave them in the stock position for the first ride as they felt fairly comfortable there, but he intends to move them forward due to his taller size for the bike. Like the full-size YZs, the 65’s KYB suspension is plush and handled everything from braking bumps to jump landings well. Conclusion All-new motocross models are not that common, especially in the youth market, and we applaud Yamaha for producing a new bike to offer another option for those looking to buy a 65cc motocrosser for their young one. The YZ65 impressed us from the get-go with a powerful engine with a crisp throttle response, plush suspension, and a balanced chassis. Stiffening the compression on the fork and shock helped the bike’s already-good cornering capabilities. After his first full day of riding the it, Carrigg commented that the bike’s size, power, sound, and fun factor were all spot-on, and that it felt “just right” for a 65. The new YZ retails for $4,599 and is available beginning this month at Yamaha dealerships. It’s also eligible for Loretta Lynn’s as well as other amateur national events that host classes for 65cc machines. We’ll be putting more time on this new blue ripper at different tracks, so stay tuned for the full review after we put more time on it. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . The 2018 Yamaha YZ65 impressed us from the get-go with a powerful engine with a crisp throttle response, plush suspension, and a balanced chassis. Tech Spec 2018 Yamaha YZ65 PRICE $4,599 ENGINE 65cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder two-stroke TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain MEASURED HORSEPOWER N/A MEASURED TORQUE N/A FRAME Steel tube FRONT SUSPENSION KYB 36mm fork adjustable for rebound and compression damping; 8.5-in. travel REAR SUSPENSION KYB shock adjustable for spring preload, rebound and compression damping; 10.6-in. travel FRONT BRAKE Single 198mm disc w/ twin-piston caliper REAR BRAKE Single 190mm disc RAKE/TRAIL 26.4°/2.5 in. WHEELBASE 45.0 in. SEAT HEIGHT 29.5 in. FUEL CAPACITY 0.9 gal. CLAIMED WEIGHT 134 lb. wet AVAILABLE Now CONTACT Sursa
  7. When you ride as many different motorcycles as we do it gives you good perspective on a given bike’s strengths and weaknesses. And whether you’re shopping for your next bike or just want to be in the know, it’s helpful to get an experienced rider’s opinion. So as a quick way to convey the highs and lows of the bikes we’ve been riding we came up with this new video series. Favorites & Fails is exactly what the name suggests, a concise list of the good and bad for the bikes we’re riding. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive evaluation or road test, but rather a candid snapshot, delivered with the same sincerity and honesty we’d show to a friend that wanted our opinion on a given bike. Hopefully you find it helpful or at least informative. Don’t agree with us, or have a motorcycle you want us to put through the F&F wringer? Feel free to chime in below in the comments section. Without anything to compare, the KTM Super Duke’s dyno chart just looks like nice, linear power and a flat torque curve. It is that, but also makes more torque at 3,500rpm than most bikes ever do, with around (or more than) 80 pound-feet on tap from 4,000 to 10,000rpm. QUICK SPECS PRICE AS TESTED $17,999 DISPLACEMENT 1301cc MEASURED WEIGHT 472 lb. (214 kg) FUEL CAPACITY 4.8 gal. (18L) SEAT HEIGHT 32.9 in. (835mm) MEASURED HORSEPOWER 154.7 @ 9960 rpm MEASURED TORQUE 92.5 lb.-ft. @ 7390 rpm Sursa
  8. To paraphrase a Norwegian saying, “There’s no such thing as bad coffee, just bad roasting.” The same can be said for motorcycles. Certain machines are preferred by one rider over another, in the same way certain coffee roasts are preferred. Sometimes it’s based on nostalgia or budget, sometimes it’s for purely visceral reasons. We pulled together four coffee connoisseurs from different backgrounds and arranged a taste test of five motorcycle-themed roasts from different parts of the country. Our objective wasn’t to select the best, but to discover the highlights of each roast. Five roasters provided fresh beans: Flat Track Sidepipe blend (Austin, TX); Moto Brew medium roast Chiapas (Seattle, WA); Blip Ethiopia Kochere (Kansas City, MO); Cafe Moto Blue Sky global mixture dark (San Diego, CA); and Two Stroke house blend (Portland, OR). Here's a quick breakdown of the cupping protocol of Tyler Toy, director of coffee at Red Rock Coffee in downtown Mountain View, California, where our taste test was held on March 19: We weigh 12.8 grams of coffee for an 8-ounce cupping bowl, Grind coffee at a medium setting, Smell the dry fragrance of the coffee, Add hot water (200 degrees Fahrenheit) to each bowl, Smell the wet aroma of the coffee after breaking the crust, After about 18 minutes, taste the coffee. We evaluate the coffee based on these factors: Acidity (sourness, like lemons or vinegar) Sweetness Bitterness (like biting into a pill, not usually a desirable characteristic) Body/mouth feel Dry fragrance/wet aroma Cleanliness of the coffee (does it have defects?) What’s third wave? It’s a movement to produce high-quality coffee, like artisanal foodstuff or wine, rather than a commodity. This involves all stages of production, from improving coffee plant growing, harvesting, and processing, to stronger relationships between coffee growers, traders, and roasters, to higher quality and fresh roasting. Some call it “micro roasting” (like microbrewed beer). Sounds highfalutin, but it tastes 10 times better than that diner coffee most Americans have been settling for. Third wave coffee is a relatively new thing, with roots in Portland, Oregon, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Surface test. With Starbucks commoditizing coffee across 27,000 locations, third wave aspires to the highest form of culinary appreciation of coffee, so that one may appreciate subtleties of flavor, varietal, and growing region—similar to other complex consumables like wine, tea, and chocolate. Distinctive features of third wave coffee include direct trade coffee, high-quality beans, single-origin coffee (as opposed to blends), lighter roasts, and latte art. It also includes revivals of alternative methods of coffee preparation, such as vacuum coffee and pour-over brewing devices. Our testers were Matthew Park, parts manager for BMW Motorcycles of San Francisco; Katie Coleman, music director and pianist; John Riemenschnitter, pastor of Highway Community; and yours truly. Five roasters provided fresh beans: Flat Track Sidepipe blend (Austin, Texas); Moto Brew medium-roast Chiapas (Seattle); Blip Ethiopia Kochere (Kansas City, Missouri); Café Moto Blue Sky global mixture dark (San Diego); and Two Stroke house blend (Portland, Oregon). Red Rock’s director of coff, Tyler Toy. To begin, Toy had each of us smell the dry fragrance of the coffee. He then added hot water (200 degrees Fahrenheit) to each bowl, and had us smell the wet aroma of the coffee after breaking the “crust” or surface of the pour. After about 18 minutes, we tasted the coffee by slurping from a spoonful. Here are the results, with direct comparisons to the motorcycles each roast represents; going over our notes, I noticed that Matt scribbled in some motorcycle models: Sidepipe Vintage Triumph. Acidity: Neutral Sweetness: None Bitterness: Light Body/mouth feel: Smooth Dry fragrance/wet aroma: Smooth Cleanliness of the coffee: Oaky Tasting notes: Red berry sweetness Chiapas The Deus Ex Machina Honda Sport 90 racer. Acidity: Neutral Sweetness: None Bitterness: Light Body/mouth feel: Rich Dry fragrance/wet aroma: Smooth Cleanliness of the coffee: Creamy Tasting notes: Herbs Ethiopia Kochere Ducati Monster 1200. Acidity: Neutral Sweetness: Pineapple Bitterness: Faint Body/mouth feel: Thin (like a rich tea) Dry fragrance/wet aroma: Mild Cleanliness of the coffee: Sweet Tasting notes: Peach/pineapple Blue Sky Harley-Davidson Knucklehead. Acidity: Strong Sweetness: None Bitterness: Mild Body/mouth feel: Dark Dry fragrance/wet aroma: Intense Cleanliness of the coffee: Dark Tasting notes: Tobacco/charcoal House Blend KTM two-stroke enduro. Acidity: Strong Sweetness: Flowery Bitterness: Faint Body/mouth feel: Smooth Dry fragrance/wet aroma: Smooth Cleanliness of the coffee: Smooth Tasting notes: Neutral/clean Two Stroke is based in the St. John’s neighborhood in northwest Portland, Oregon. Blip Roasters are based in Kansas City, Missouri. Cafe Moto is based in San Diego. Left: Gaz aroma testing. Right: Does it smell like two stroke? Nope. Katie chats about Moto Brew. Left: Matt going in for the aroma test on Flat Track. Right: Tasting time. Sursa
  9. Let's take a moment to remember the carburetor. This article was originally published in the 2001 issue of Cycle World’s Power & Performance magazine. A moment of silence, please, for the carburetor. It is dead, you know; we motorcyclists are just hanging onto the remains until the official death certificate is issued. There is no question that those traditional fuel-mixers are ancient history, beloved but outdated instruments of another era made obsolete by electronic fuel injection. After all, there hasn't been a carbureted automobile produced in more than a decade; and with an increasing number of new bikes being equipped with EFI each model year, it won't be long before the carburetor is discussed only in the past tense among motorcyclists, as well. That transition, from carburetion to , scares the hell out of some people, and not just the ones who like to tinker with their bikes on weekends. Even a lot of experienced tuners consider fuel injection a new-age intrusion that has unnecessarily complicated what formerly was a simple procedure. But that's to be expected: Any time a new technology begins to replace an older one, the high priests of the old way feel threatened. Those of us who learned the tricks of carburetion don't like to see our hard-earned knowledge become irrelevant. We balk at the notion of software hotshots, using a whole new language we don't understand, taking over the task of fuel delivery. Many hot-rodders also fear that once fuel injection becomes universal, engine modification will be impossible. Not true! Class is in session, so pay attention. Although it seems that fuel injection threatens to take control of fuel mixture out of the user's hands and put it into those of government emissions regulators, this is not the case. Yes, EFI is becoming the preferred method by which manufacturers can comply with ever-more-stringent exhaust-emissions regulations. But new developments that we'll discuss in a few minutes are making it simpler to tune fuel injection, and those advances will soon make adjusting the mixture an easier process than it ever was with carburetors. Actually, when you make a point-by-point comparison between carburetors and fuel injection, EFI seems a much more rational way to deliver fuel into an engine. To understand why, let's take a quick refresher course in carburetion. Carburetors are analog devices that deliver fuel in response to variations in intake vacuum. This vacuum arises, as noted by Bernoulli's famous principle,from the fact that as air is set into motion, it trades away some of its pressure to create velocity. The resulting partial vacuum in the venturi of a carburetor is powerful enough to draw up fuel from the float bowl and spray it into the airstream, thereby forming an air-fuel mixture. This low pressure—referred to as the "metering signal"—is the analog of the engine's fuel needs. The art in carburetion consists of ensuring that fuel is delivered in proper proportion, accomplished by means of fuel jets and airbleeds. As engine suction draws air through the , the low pressure in the venturi, acting on the jets and airbleeds, delivers an approximately correct flow of fuel to the engine. And as rpm and throttle position change, correct fuel flow is approximately maintained. What Are The Causes Of Motorcycle Failures? We use the word "approximately" here because carburetors thrive on consistent intake signal. If the engine's in-take process is much the same at 1200 rpm as it is at 6000, it's easy to get good mixture from a carburetor. But anything that changes or upsets this consistent signal makes carburetion more difficult. A bigger carburetor is the classic example. We put on a big carb to get more airflow to make more power on the top-end; but the bigger the carb, the slower the velocity of the air passing through it at any given rpm and throttle opening, and so the weaker its vacuum signal becomes. By giving the metering circuits weaker signals to work with, the big carburetor makes fuel delivery sluggish at lower rpm; the rule is, the bigger the carb, the bigger the tuning problems. But with electronic fuel injection, which does not depend upon intake vacuum signal, this problem simply goes away. When an engine is modified—for example, by installing longer-duration cams and a less-restrictive exhaust system—the nature of the intake suction pulses is changed. Tuned exhaust pipes may make intake suction stronger in certain speed ranges but weaker in others. And longer-duration cams weaken suction pulsing at lower rpm. Because the suction signal received by the carb has changed, so does the fuel mixture, thus the engine runs poorly. Carburetion experts develop a feel for these kinds of situations. With a few running tests, a carb wizard can determine which way to go with changes to which systems. So, after installing different jets or other metering hardware, he has the engine again running nicely—although there still may be very little he can do to fully compensate for the weaker intake signal. On a modified fuel-injected engine, however, none of this wizardry is useful. Injection systems operate on an entirely different set of principles that allow the delivery of fuel into the intake stream to be based on an engine's actual needs rather than simply on the flow of air over an orifice. By comparison, what fuel injection does makes what carburetors do seem like little more than guesswork. Here are the key basics of EFI: Time Injection Carburetors spray fuel continuously at a rate that varies with airflow. Fuel injection uses one electromagnetically controlled nozzle per cylinder to spray fuel in timed squirts—one spray per cylinder for every two revolutions of the crank. The fuel pressure available at the nozzle is always constant, maintained at a regulated value in a fuel manifold by an electric pump. Therefore, fuel quantity—and thus, the air-fuel mixture—is determined only by how long the nozzle is held open. That duration, called the "on-time," is decided by a control computer. Stored Fueling Information The control computer—usually called an Engine Control Module (or "ECM" for short)—contains a kind of library in which is encoded the correct fuel quantity for the nozzle to inject at every engine rpm and throttle position. This information is determined through extensive dyno testing at the factory during the engine's development stages. Fuel delivery is varied at many rpm points and throttle positions to find the on-time that gives maximum torque. The complete list of those variables, which relate max-torque on-time to rpm and throttle position, is what is called the "fuel map." The map for street-legal motorcycles must also be configured to let the engine meet the prevailing emissions requirements; but on most modified or racing engines, the only criterion is maximum torque at all throttle settings and rpm points. Because of the way in which fuel injection works, its accuracy does not depend upon the tricky correspondence between the engine's actual fuel needs and the intake suction signal. EFI gives the engine what it needs because it knows what those needs are in all conditions by referring to the fuel map. Of course, if those fuel needs are changed because of modifications to the engine, the fuel map must be changed to suit. Rapid Response The control computer nows the engine rpm and the throttle opening at all times because it receives signals from a tachometer and a throttle-position sensor. Before each fuel-injection spray is delivered, the computer effectively looks up the correct on-time for the current rpm and throttle position, then holds the nozzle open for that prescribed amount of time. This is easy work for the computer because a typical ECM operates at between 1 and 10 million information processing steps per second—or 1 to 10 Megahertz (MHz), to use popular computer terminology. This means that at, say, 5000 engine rpm, a 10 MHz computer can perform 120,000 such steps during each rotation of the crank-shaft, or 333 steps for every degree of crank rotation. The computer can operate this quickly because it is of fingernail size, so electrical signals within it travel only tiny distances. This nearly instant response of EFI to changing conditions makes the engine much less likely to bog or hesitate when the throttle is opened suddenly. Automatic Correction Because fuel evaporates incompletely in a cold engine, carburetors use either a choke or an enrichening system to richen the mixture for cold-starting. Carburetors run richer as the weather warms and leaner as it grows colder, thereby changing the power available. And carburetors also allow the mixture to be too rich as we ride to the top of Pike's Peak, where the air is thinner, and too lean as we travel into Death Valley, where the air is more dense. Racers get peak performance in all conditions by changing carburetor jetting to maintain a best-power mixture—not a viable technique for general street riding. In production streetbike engines, carburetion is set rich enough to safely cover anticipated running conditions while also meeting requisite emissions standards, and we tolerate any power losses these trade-offs might produce. With the processing power of a computer, however, these compromises disappear, and all this tuning work can be done automatically. Sensors located around the motorcycle report engine temperature, atmospheric pressure and air temperature to the computer, which then uses simple arithmetic (you can do a lot of figuring in 120,000 steps) to modify the engine's fuel delivery according to all these variables. This is why fuel-injected engines start so well when cold, why they can be immediately ridden off without stalling or hesitation, and why they don't blubber with excess fuel at very high altitudes or starve for fuel at very low altitudes. The fuel map provides the basic data for fuel delivery, and the sensors modify this information according to current engine temperature and air density. Complete Adjustability There are things you just can't do with carburetors, such as vary the time at which fuel reaches a given cylinder, or change the mixture only in one particular part of the rpm band, or vary the strength of the mixture from one cylinder to another, or even from one gear to another. With fuel injection, all of these options—and many more—are not only possible but easy to accomplish. What's more, fuel injection is obedient. We've all experienced carburetion "flat-spots," which typically occur on modified engines. A carburetor needs a venturi vacuum signal strong enough to make it spray fuel, but some combinations of exhaust pipes and cams, at certain speeds, can kill or even reverse that signal, causing a flat spot that often is impossible to eliminate. Fuel injection, however, is immune to such problems; it merely does what it is told by the fuel map and sensors. Okay, you're thinking, this is wonderful stuff if you happen to be a computer hacker or an engine developer working for a motorcycle manufacturer. But what about the rest of us? How do riders who want to modify their fuel-injected engines manage to get their fuel mixtures correctly adjusted? Well, more easily than you might think. Every day of the year, thousands of people who aren't computer geeks or software programmers tune fuel-injection systems. No programming is necessary. All we need is a way to tell the computer what we want. Several such ways exist. Special Chips In some ECMs, the fuel map is stored on a replaceable computer chip. Engines modified with certain cams, pipes and other parts have already been tested and mapped by some OEM or aftermarket manufacturers, and chips with such maps are available for users running those specific combinations. This is a plug-in replacement. Addressable Fuel Curves Some injection systems can be adjusted either by a special hand-held recalibration unit or by a laptop computer. The existing fuel curve—which relates mixture strength to rpm—can be downloaded and displayed on the computer's screen. Then you can enrich or lean out the whole curve, or any section of it, by any amount. Once you've made the changes you want, you upload the new fuel curve back into your ECM. The net effect is analogous to that of changing jets, but it can be much more specific. Plus, you remove no parts from your bike. No jets will roll into inaccessible places, and there won't be a sticky place in your driveway from draining a carburetor float bowl. Mechanics at racetracks do this job every day: plug in, download, adjust, upload, road test. Full Reprogramming For some time, Dynojet Corporation has marketed devices for fuel-injection tuning under the name Power Commander. These devices change fuel delivery either by supplying adjusted sensor data to the ECM, or by directly changing the on-time of the pulses the ECM sends to the injector nozzles. Now even has begun to offer a service, at some of its associated dyno centers, by which the fuel injection on a motorcycle with any combination of modifications can be reprogrammed quickly and automatically. While running on the dyno, and with an oxygen sensor in the exhaust to measure fuel into the bike's ECM. As the dyno run progresses, all the many data points are automatically gathered and stored. Essentially, this system "learns" the correct fuel mixture curve as it runs, and this data is automatically stored in the Power Commander system on the bike as its new fuel map. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . Time consumed? Such a dyno run takes typically 20-40 seconds. No muss, no fuss, no trial-and-error involving the repeated threading of jets into and out of a hard-to-reach float bowl located on the bottom of a carburetor inconveniently tucked behind an air cleaner. An engine tuned in this fashion—whether nearly stock or highly modified—will start easier, run smoother, respond more quickly. accelerate harder. Electronic fuel injection is nothing to fear; it's merely a newer, better way to fuel an engine. And don't think of injection as the stealthy hand of Big Brother, either, because convenient tools are available by which to control it. Yes, EFI exists in the first place because it does the best, most flexible, most accurate job of controlling engine exhaust emissions, but it is also a superior high-performance fuel system in its own right. This is why you should learn to work with fuel injection. Its principles are not that difficult to grasp; and once you do, you'll soon find that you have more and better control over engine performance than you ever had with carburetors. Whether you like it or not. Sursa
  10. We’ve toured on it, we’ve commuted on it, and we’ve even ridden it around a race track! So, after a few thousand miles of getting to know the full redesigned Honda Gold Wing, we have some strong feelings about what Honda has done with their flagship touring motorcycle. Time to queue up another episode of Favorites & Fails! When you ride as many different motorcycles as we do it gives you good perspective on a given bike’s strengths and weaknesses. And whether you’re shopping for your next bike or just want to be in the know, it’s helpful to get an experienced rider’s opinion. So as a quick way to convey the highs and lows of the bikes we’ve been riding we came up with this new video series. Favorites & Fails is exactly what the name suggests, a concise list of the good and bad of the bikes we’re riding. This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive evaluation or road test, just a candid snapshot, delivered with the same sincerity and honesty we’d show to a friend that wanted our opinion on a given bike. Hopefully you find it helpful or at least informative. Don’t agree with us, or have a motorcycle you want us to put through the F&F wringer? Feel free to chime in below in the comments section. 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour by the numbers: Base Price: $26,700 Displacement: 1833cc Claimed Wet Weight: 838 lbs. (380.11 kg) Fuel Capacity: 5.55 gal. (21.09L) Measured Horsepower: 97.85 @ 5,550 rpm Measured Torque: 108.4 lb.-ft. @ 1,210 rpm Sursa
  11. The smoothness of the Low Rider is much appreciated when you hit 75 mph. This article was originally published in the April-May 2017 issue of Cycle World's Big Twin magazine. Slick. Not a word often used to describe a new-model . But when the late Cycle magazine tested the very first Dyna-chassised model—the 1991 Sturgis—its editors took Rob Morrison, ex-National dirt-tracker and Softail owner, along for the ride. And after three days and more than a thousand miles on the road, Morrison concluded: “It may be too slick for my Softail-riding buddies. It’s the businessman’s Harley.” Ride the new ’97 Low Rider, and you’ll likely agree: The FXDL is slick. Slide the barrel-shaped key into the invisible, underseat ignition, push the starter button on the switch assembly recently rendered compact and curvaceous, and the Low Rider rumps to life with a controlled “putter-hiss-putter”; there’s certainly no thunder with the stock muf­flers and air filter in place. At a fast idle, the Low Rider shakes a little, but less than the FXR or any of the current rubber-mounted dressers. Click— no, not clunk—the gear­­box into first, let out the smooth-acting clutch, and you can ride away with just a few seconds of engine warming. There is a little buzz­ing in the handlebar and seat under 2500 rpm, but as you glide through the gears, the electricity diminishes the faster you go. At freeway speeds and beyond, the is about as vibrationless as any machine powered by a Milwaukee Big Twin can be. The Dyna comes by its slickness as naturally as does Arkansas’ gift to womanhood. When it was introduced back in the early Nineties, the Dyna was destined as an eventual replacement for the FXR, Harley’s do-everything custom. And let’s not forget when the FXR was de­signed: right at the end of that horrible era when Harleys were in plentiful supply on dealership floors everywhere, when waiting lists were as unthinkable as charging rent for the Lincoln Bedroom, when The Motor Company was routinely getting pum­meled in the mainstream motor­cycle press for building machines that were too slow, too unreliable, too poor-handling, and that simply shuddered and shook too much. The FXR was de­signed to change those impressions, to reach out to motorcyclists beyond the hard core of the Harley faithful. It adapted the rubber-mounting of the FLT and—breaking away from the rigid-mount, four-speed chassis design and its single seat post—wrapped a girder-strong frame around the outside of the machine, more like that of a Norton or a Triumph or the Japanese bikes that copied them. After the FXR, Harley no longer had to hear about poor-handling motorcycles or ones that vibrated excessively. And soon thereafter, with the introduction of the Evolution engine, the big reliability issues were dealt with, as well. All of this put The Motor Company on the road to the current stockholder Nirvana. The Low Rider offers simple and classic Harley-Davidson looks. But that road held some strange turns. The more successful Harley be­came, the more important became bikes such as the Softails, machines that harked back to classic Harley values and appearances—even if it meant they vibrated a little bit. The Softail didn’t handle as well as an FXR, didn’t go quite as quickly, and didn’t stop as sharply. But, boy, did a Softail have character and char­is­ma, qualities that made them the best-selling of Big Twins. So, when it came time to replace the FXR, Harley’s movers and shakers decided to take the new machine in two directions at once: to keep or im­prove the functional aspects of the , all while making it look more like a classic four-speed Shovel. The key to that packaging was a backbone frame that didn’t wrap around the outside of the swingarm, and a new engine-mounting system. The FXR had used soft rubber mounts with tie-bars to keep the integrated engine/swingarm assembly aligned with the rest of the chassis—basically the same Uniplanar system still used on Buells and dressers. It can provide excellent chassis stiffness, but the soft mounts let the engine move around a lot, up to a full inch, necessitating a lot of space around the engine for clearance. Willie G. and the boys in styling wanted a tighter, more compact look, so asked the engineers to hold engine movement to half an inch. The engineers responded with new, laminated steel-and-rubber mounts that support the front and back of the engine/ gearbox assembly. These mounts, similar to designs that have been used in helicopter vibration isolation, are directional: They allow movement in their plane, while resisting sideways motion. By using them, the engineers were able to simplify the frame structure, cutting the number of tie-bars to one at the top of the engine. Then, to improve handling, they rotated the engine backwards a couple of degrees, allowing the crank and its weight to be shifted forward; increasing the weight on the front wheel generally improves handling and stability. Finally, while they were at it, they further simplified the Dyna frame, compared to the complex weldments required for the FXR. They did this by incorporating some steel investment-castings in the structure, such as the large and finely detailed one for the steering head, which simply plugs right into the frame’s downtubes and backbone. When all was said and done, however, the conflicting design requirements of the Dyna concept ended up producing a Harley that presented the company with a few challenges. The first Dynas may have vibrated less than FXRs at a fast idle, but they were buzzier if you lugged them down into the 35- to 50-mph range in top gear. The engineers were sent scurrying to revise the stiffness of the rubber mounts for later years. And the seat h of the Dyna was relatively high, something that finally was tended to in 1996 with revisions to the frame that dropped the seat almost an inch. Like all Harleys, the Dyna has been refined over the years. The engine is unobtrusive and feels as if the bike disappears beneath you. But even in 1997, the latest Low Rider is still sending some mixed messages. With the lower seat, you sit down into the bike, placing the main pegs high and close. The highway pegs stretch your legs out more comfortably, but the pullback handlebar rotates you backward, without the back support provided by the latest Softail seats. The flat bar on risers used by that first Dyna Sturgis offered a more comfortable riding position, and Softails today provide a lower, more-stretched-out and integrated cruising experience. Not only that, those same rumble and quake, staying right in your face while the FXDL almost disappears beneath you. The Low Rider works so well it vanishes like that wonderfully unobtrusive butler found these days only in period English fiction. On the freeway at 75 mph, that smoothness, that unobtrusiveness, can really be appreciated; a Softail’s shaking gets real old after just a few hours at highway speed. And it’s hard to argue with the Low Rider’s double-disc front brake: Capable of stopping even the heaviest dresser, it’s perhaps the most powerful ever fitted to a Big Twin, and hauls the Dyna down hard with just a light squeeze. The Dyna’s four inches of rear-wheel travel provide a ride over sharply creased asphalt that would hammer the rider of a Softail. The 5.1 inches of front-wheel trail and 32 degrees of head rake slow down the Low Rider’s steering, but also make it commendably stable; it’s a bike that takes a bulldog’s hold on its line or its heading. In the end, the Low Rider asks you to decide what you value most. If it is ultimate character or tradition or charisma, this is probably not the Big Twin for you. And it’s obviously not the touring machine that a is, or even as good at that task as a Dyna Convertible. Instead, the Low Rider offers simple and classic Harley-Davidson appearance, along with the slickest operation you’ll find in any Big Twin cruiser. So, if what you want is The Look without The Pain, if you crave functional compromise instead of single-minded style, listen closely here: The FXDL Low Rider is talking your language. Sursa
  12. The was first introduced back in 2010 and was reintroduced last year after a seven-year hiatus from the market. For 2018, the RMX450Z received the same blue accents on the radiator shrouds and seat cover that the RM-Z motocrossers did and features several components that make it designed for off-road riding. Another change from last year’s RMX450Z is that the 2018 model is California red sticker legal whereas the 2017 model is California green sticker legal. Technically, there are no changes between the two bikes aside from the blue accents, but 2018 off-road motorcycles require an evaporative emission recovery system on the fuel tank to be green sticker compliant, which the RMX450Z does not have. It should be noted the 2017 and 2018 models are both sound level legal as well. The 2018 Suzuki RMX450Z receives a few cosmetic changes for 2018, including blue accents on the radiator shrouds and seat cover. offers a six-month unlimited-mileage limited warranty on its RMX450Z, which is not something we commonly see with off-road motorcycles. The warranty can be lengthened via the Suzuki Extended Protection program (SEP) as well. The bike also has an 18-inch rear wheel, kickstand, skid plate, headlight, LED taillight, a dual mode (Sport/Standard) instrument cluster, a Dunlop D742FA front tire, and a Dunlop D756 rear tire. A number of off-road-specific components come stock on the RMX450Z including an 18-inch rear wheel, kickstand, skid plate, headlight, LED taillight, and dual mode (Sport/Standard) instrument cluster. Engine The RMX450Z engine is based on the RM-Z450 motocross bike engine but features a few key differences to make it more suitable for off-road, including an electric starter with a kickstart backup, a modified inlet tract and revised cam profiles to increase low-rpm and midrange power, a larger magneto-generator to charge the battery and power the lights, a hinged lid on the airbox for quick air filter maintenance and better protection from debris, and a coolant reservoir tank. Lastly, the five-speed transmission has wide gear ratios and primary/final drive ratios selected to better suit various off-road riding situations. To help the bike meet sound level regulations, the RMX450Z comes stock with a throttle stop that only allows it to be opened just over a third of the way from wide open. Because we intend on only riding the bike in closed-course conditions, we removed it. Taking the throttle stop out only needed about 10 minutes and involved removing a bolt from the throttle body. Once removed, we installed a shorter bolt (that wouldn’t restrict the throttle opening) to cover up where the throttle stop bolt was. The RMX450Z is electric start-equipped with a kickstart backup. Two other items that help make the bike red sticker and sound level legal are the spark arrestor and sound reducer in the muffler. While one or both of these items may inhibit the bike’s overall engine performance, we opted to leave them in because, in stock form, the EFI system cannot adjust for removing them and therefore engine damage could occur from lean running conditions if one or both of them were to be removed. On the trail, the RMX450Z engine is very versatile and works well in different off-road conditions from single-track to more wide-open, motocross-style riding. The engine has a decent amount of low-end and doesn’t tend to want to stall when the going gets tight. First and second gear are noticeably short to help the bike in these areas, with first gear serving as more of a “granny gear” like one would use on your mountain bike when climbing extremely steep terrain. Riding at low speeds on tighter, technical trails is one of the areas the RMX450Z excels. We took the RMX450Z on some slow, challenging trails and found first gear to work great in these areas. Second gear served its purpose as well on more traditional, flowing single-track. One minor thing that would make the bike a bit easier to manage in the more technical areas would be the clutch pull, as it seems to be just a bit on the stiffer side. Again, it’s a very minor point. The Showa suspension components on the RMX450Z handle both small and large impacts well. When the speeds increase, the RMX450Z can hold its own as well. Third, fourth, and fifth gear feel more like a motocross bike type of gearing. We rode the RMX on a motocross-style turn track and in a wider-open area similar to what you might find in the desert, and were pleased with how easy it was to get the bike up to speed, especially considering how well it performed in the lower-speed areas. Suspension In the suspension department, the RMX450Z comes with a Showa 47mm fork and Showa piggyback-reservoir-style shock. Similar to the engine, the fork worked well in the variety of conditions we tested in on our first ride. Upon small impacts such as rocks scattered throughout the trail, the fork absorbed them with ease and prevented the front end from deflecting or doing anything unexpected. Conversely, the fork also had good hold-up on bigger impacts such as when hitting high-speed whoops and drop-offs. The shock felt well balanced in relation to the fork and helped bike’s the rear end stay tracking when the speeds decreased in the tighter areas we rode. Chassis/Handling Suzuki motocross bikes are well known for having superb handling characteristics, most notably turning, and the RMX450Z is no different. The RMX’s corner prowess is most noticeable when riding motocross-style turn tracks, but the bike also feels very nimble when slaloming down a winding single-track trail. Similar to the RM-Z models, the RMX450Z chassis is a bit on the rigid side, but that’s part of what helps the bike corner so well and respond quickly to rider input. At 272 pounds wet, we only noticed the extra weight it carries from the RM-Z motocross bikes when we had to put it up on a bike stand, or when picking it up after tipping over. Just like the RM-Z motocrossers, the RMX450Z corners excellently. Conclusion The Suzuki RMX450Z is a California red-sticker-eligible off-road bike that meets sound requirements and is well-rounded in terms of how it performs for a variety of types of riding. We’ll be putting more time on this bike in the coming months and intend to put it up against other off-road bikes that fall into a similar category, including the Honda 450X and Yamaha WR450F. The RMX450Z chassis is a bit on the rigid side, which is part of what helps the bike corner so well and respond quickly to rider input. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . TECH SPEC PRICE $8999 ENGINE 449cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 5-speed/chain MEASURED HORSEPOWER 40.48 hp @ 9120 rpm MEASURED TORQUE 27.02 lb.-ft. @ 6460 rpm FRAME Aluminum twin-spar FRONT SUSPENSION Showa 47mm fork adjustable for compression and rebound damping; 12.2-in. travel REAR SUSPENSION Showa shock adjustable for spring preload, high-/low-speed compression damping, and rebound damping; 12.2-in. travel FRONT BRAKE Nissin single 250mm disc w/ twin-piston caliper REAR BRAKE Nissin single 240mm disc w/ single piston caliper RAKE/TRAIL 28°10'/4.8 in. WHEELBASE 58.5 in. SEAT HEIGHT 37.4 in. FUEL CAPACITY 1.6 gal. MEASURED WEIGHT 272 lb. wet AVAILABLE Now CONTACT Sursa
  13. If it seems like we’ve all been waiting ages for the Vitpilen to arrive, that’s probably just because it’s so damn droolworthy. The reality is that first showed the 701 concept at in late 2015, and now here we are, a shade more than two years later, with units due in US dealerships in April. It usually takes four years to move from concept to production (that’s certainly the schedule Yamaha appears to be keeping with the , another eagerly awaited model) so 28 months is a quick turnaround. Building the Vit around the frame and engine of the KTM Duke 690 surely helped expedite things, leaving more development time to dial in the details of the design. Sure enough, the 701 I got to rip around Barcelona, Spain, was the spitting image of the lean and futuristic concept first seen in Milan back in fall of ’15. Call the Vit a café racer or an exotic naked or whatever you want—part of the appeal is that its avant-garde style makes it impossible to pigeonhole. The Husky’s personality and performance are difficult to pin down too. After blitzing around the Catalan capital and unraveling kilometers of deliciously twisty roads in the mountains above the city, however, I think the 701 is best described as a joyous mash-up of supermoto rowdiness and sportbike performance. If you thought the Vitpilen was going to be more style than substance (like I did), you’re wrong. As it turns out, it’s as functional as it is fashionable, and so much fun to ride. The Vitpilen looks long and low and that’s how it feels when you sit on it, even though the seat is almost 33 inches high. Chalk it up to a fairly long reach to low clip-on bars that project from the triple clamp, à la RC390. That seat, whose lines form the upper portion of the bike’s trademark diagonal “split,” appears rigid and unforgiving, but it’s softer than it looks. It’s also long enough that you can sit toward the front or the back, so the bike accepts riders of varying torso length readily enough. Unfortunately, those taller than 6 feet looked pretty goofy on such a wisp of a bike. That’s what stands out most when you first hop on the 701—it’s tiny and incredibly light. As it turns out, it weighs just 362 pounds with a full tank. (We weighed Husqvarna North America’s homologation bike back in California.) That’s less than an RC390, yet the Vit makes 75 percent more power. Those are some pretty exciting specs. Husqvarna positions the Vitpilen as an urban bike, and if you intend to ride it primarily in the city, you’re in luck. For starters, it’s got a striking style that turns heads and sets it apart from the two-wheeled crowd, which in Barcelona includes machines of every shape and size parked two rows deep along curbs all over the city. Then there’s that ripping 693cc single-cylinder engine that fires the bike forward like a cannonball. Release the light-action and there’s wheel-lofting grunt right off idle and exciting power all the way to the 9,000-rpm rev limiter, all accompanied by an appealing, albeit thoroughly muffled, exhaust note. Wrangling the Vit’s feisty engine is easy to thanks to precise ride-by-wire throttling. It’s also surprisingly smooth for a big single, feeling more like a V-twin at idle and at speed thanks to comprehensive counterbalancing that includes a weighted shaft in the cylinder head. The engine has a few other tricks up its sleeve in the form of integrated coolant passages (for compactness and a clean appearance), a slipper clutch, dual-spark combustion chamber, traction control, and even a quickshifter and auto-blip downshifting. You won’t see a sensor on the shift linkage though. Husky tucked the sensor into the clutch cover on the other side of the bike where it takes its signal from the right side of the shift shaft. Clever. City streets are usually beat up and bumpy, so you want your urban runabout to have a compliant ride, especially if you’re carrying a fair amount of weight on your wrists like you do on the Husky. The Vitpilen’s suspension is on the firm side but refused to jolt my wrists, even when provoked with potholes. That combination of plushness and support is a hard line to walk for suspension, but the folks at WP did a great job selecting settings for this bike. If for some reason you want to fine-tune the setup, you’ve got adjustable compression and rebound damping up front as well as spring preload and rebound adjustments out back. A comfy ride is important, but so is good handling. It’d be hard for the Husky not to turn quickly with a 362-pound curb weight, but the Vit brings more than just snappy, taxi-dodging steering to the table. The bike changes direction with a thought and holds a line around a rotary so well that you could almost take your hands off the slim, Husqvarna-embossed grips. Need to stop quickly because a trash truck just lumbered out of an alley? There may only be one disc affixed to the front wheel, but it’s a killer setup composed of top-shelf Italian componentry. Two fingers is all it takes to extract maximum stopping power, and ABS has your back if you happen to brake across something slippery. Better still, ABS (as well as TC) can be disabled for unfiltered fun by pressing a hidden button on the dash. Okay, the Vitpilen is great for getting around the city and looks good doing it. So does a Vespa. What about getting out of the city? To my surprise, the Vit has pretty long legs. Big singles usually vibrate like a paint shaker at high revs and feel strained at highway speeds, but the Husqvarna easily cruised 85 mph along the autopista with just the faintest vibration in the footpegs. The mirrors, on the other hand, are affected by some unfelt buzzing that renders them blurry and fairly useless. And while the Vit has nothing in the way of wind protection, the forward-leaning riding position braces you against the breeze so freeway riding isn’t that unpleasant. Barcelona is a beautiful place that I’d move to in an instant, and the city is made all the more appealing by its proximity to intensely curvy roads in the mountains just outside of town. For a supposed city bike, the Vitpilen is a hell of a sport machine, which was totally unexpected. It only took a few bends for me to be reduced to a grinning idiot as I dove into corners and braaaaaaped off apexes. The 701 comes into its own on winding roads, and the tighter the curves, the more you’re going to enjoy the engine’s torque, the quickshifter, and the speed and ease with which the 701 lunges from one side of its Bridgestone S21 Hypersport tires to the other. This is one of those bikes (like Triumph’s Street Triple) that is effortless to ride quickly. I would have been very happy to stay in the hills all day ripping wheelies and wearing out the shoulders of the Vit’s tires, but sadly, our test ride in Spain was over. Complaints? I’ve got a few, but a lot fewer than I was expecting, and they’re really just nits. For one, the disc-like dash seems out of place and uninspired compared to the rest of the bike, which is so refined and sophisticated. I would love to see a slim TFT screen nestled against the triple clamp, but of course that would add expense. Another expensive feature that would suit the futuristic and “Simple. Progressive.” mantra of the Vitpilen is keyless ignition. Instead, a standard ignition switch sticks up from the right side of triple clamp, looking a little like an afterthought. Also, while the hot air that wafted off the 701’s engine in stop-and-go traffic felt pleasant during my chilly March ride in Barcelona, it’s bound to be uncomfortable in August. Not much you can do about that but to keep moving so the radiator gets air. In the end, the Vitpilen 701—this bike we’ve been staring at and lusting after for so long—performs as good as it looks. And some will say that it damn well should for $11,999. That’s no small chunk of change, especially for a 700cc single. But in my mind the Vitpilen is ready to go toe to toe with bikes like BMW’s R nineT and Triumph’s Thruxton R, both of which ring in close to $15,000, and that’s impressive. It’s also impressive that Husqvarna has created a motorcycle so distinctive that it defies categorization. It uses some familiar parts, yeah, but Husqvarna has done something completely original with them, like an artist using common colors to create a unique painting. This bike is something special, and a milestone for Husqvarna as their first foray into a new realm of premium, unconventional, and exciting streetbikes. Sursa
  14. In the same year introduces a V-4 superbike, ditching the engine configuration synonymous with its name, it also gives us the . It’s not a SuperSport, or a Monster, or any other definitive Ducati. It doesn’t even come in red. To give the Scrambler 1100 a premium look, Ducati used very little plastic on the bike. The only major parts made of plastic, such as the seat pan and airbox, aren’t readily visible. The Special even has aluminum mud guards, instead of the plastic ones found on the base model and the Sport. Ducati’s strong heritage and history has bred a legion of Faithful who bow to the diadem of Desmo and enshrine the reliquary of dry clutches, trellis frames, and curvy red fairings. Ducatisti worship at the cathedral of Imola, and bless the patron saint Taglioni (may he rest in peace). How is the Ducatista to interpret the Scrambler 1100? Yes, it’s beautiful, but is it a Ducati? If you’ve watched marketing short film, The Getaway, starring Imogenocide, Goldeluxe, and Dave Hardcastle (does that sound like the cast of a ’70s Italian stag film, or what?), you might be even more dubious, tempted to write off the 1100 as a bike that’s more style than substance, more market-niche than definitive Ducati. Until you ride it, that is. The Scrambler 1100 is the genuine article. From right: the base-model Scrambler 1100 ($12,995), available in ’62 Yellow and Shining Black; the Special ($14,295) in Custom Gray; and the Sport ($14,995) in Viper Black. In addition to the black/yellow paint (perfect for the Pittsburgh Steelers fan), the Sport gets Öhlins suspension front and rear. For one beautiful sunny afternoon in Portugal, the Scrambler 1100 Special carried me on twisty roads clinging to the coastline—its 1,079cc air-cooled desmodue growling from apex to apex, its exhaust crackling and popping in that special Ducati way. The 1100 comes in three variants. I rode the Special, which at $14,295 is the middle sibling price-wise. It’s the brother who gets his worsted wool suits tailored on Savile Row, has his own pair of lasts at a cobbler in Milan, and shaves with an ebony-handled straight razor. The Special’s special treatment includes spoked rims, aluminum fenders, a premium seat cover, a polished swingarm, chrome header pipes, and that posh gray paint job. It’s a sophisticated look that belies the beast within. It’s sort of like if Dame Judi Dench trashed hotel rooms with the Rolling Stones: You’d be surprised, but not entirely disappointed. The engine, derived from the Monster 1100 EVO—the predecessor of today’s 1200—has been redesigned especially for the Scrambler 1100: new single throttle body, dual spark plugs, different gearing, etc., but the same piston, conrod and hot cams as in the donor motor. You can take the engine out of a Monster, but you can’t take the Monster out of the engine. That’s a good thing. The perfect primary balance of a large-displacement 90-degree Ducati twin is one of motorcycling’s great sensations. If you’ve never ridden one, there’s something almost organic feeling about the way the engine configuration translates reciprocating motion into visceral presence. The 1100 feels like a Ducati. Riding through oceanside tunnels and revving the throttle just to hear the holy thunder of the booming twin is really all the justification this bike needs, to be honest. Or maybe that’s just me. The 1100 sounds like a Ducati. Air-cooled, upright rear cylinder, and snaking exhaust: three things that can make a rider toasty in slow-moving traffic. Naturally, excessive heat is not an issue at speed. When you ride a big twin, the old adage “there’s no replacement for displacement” really holds true. The liter-plus motor paints the town Ducati Red, delivering power in big swaths of exuberant torque to the pavement, like de Koonig applying paint to an oversize canvas. The rear squats, the front does a little dance (there’s no steering damper), and comparisons to tractors come to mind. And it’s all available practically from off idle, before tapering off around 8,000 rpm. The 1100 goes like a Ducati. In addition to its premium finish and lusty motor, the 1100’s technical package goes a long way toward justifying the price tag—if revving the motor in tunnels just isn’t enough for you. The first bit on the tech sheet that stands out is Bosch cornering ABS, a safety feature which until now has only been found on more top-spec, non-Scrambler Ducatis, like the Panigale, XDiavel, and Multistrada. The IMU also controls the LED turn signals, automatically canceling them after the bike returns to upright. They work well, except at low speeds when the bike doesn’t lean enough for the IMU to register the maneuver as a turn. The 1100 has three ride modes, four levels of traction control (and off), and is Ducati Multimedia-ready. Check out the slick cast subframe. It’s a bolt-on affair that can be easily removed for ease of customization. Brembo M4.32 calipers—the same as on my ’15 899 Panigale, the SuperSport, and other performance-oriented Ducatis—are one more indication that the Scrambler 1100 means business. The hydraulic clutch feels light, and the gearbox is slick-shifting. No clunky Ducati box of yore here. I, for one, will forever love rattly dry clutches, but time must march on. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . An all-new chassis and fully adjustable Marzocchi front suspension and Kayaba rear (adjustable for preload and rebound) make the 1100 game for the twisties. My biggest complaint, however, is the Pirelli MT60RS dual-sport tires that run on an 18-inch front rim. It’s the same setup as on the original Scrambler. To me, the front felt vague and I wasn’t as confident diving into corners as I am on conventional street rubber. The 18-inch front/17-inch rear wheels limit the selection of tires available too, but there’s still some fine options out there, so it’s not a deal breaker. It’s the biggest form-over-function flaw of the machine. Yes, knobbies look cool, but they’re not worth the trade-off in cornering ability. If you want an off-road Scrambler, get the Desert Sled. Flat bars and a wide supportive seat provide good ergos for the all-day rides the 1100 will cajole you into taking. The Special and Sport both have lower tapered bars than the base model 1100 for sportier riding positions. Over dinner one night in Lisbon, I chatted with the group of young Italian designers and engineers responsible for the 1100. These guys are building a Ducati brand for a new Ducati audience. While the 1100 is oriented in the lineup for the existing Scrambler rider to work up to, it’s also a platform for the more mature rider who wants a timeless-looking Ducati that doesn’t sacrifice too much performance or tech for the sake of style. When style, comfort, ease of use, and performance are given equal priority in the design brief, you get a bike like the Scrambler 1100. For the Faithful who bleed Ducati Red, the 1100 is the link between the Scrambler world—where a promo film that looks like an ad for a flavored vodka isn’t out of left field—and the sacrosanct world of Ducati: a place deeply rooted in history, performance, and a few trademark mechanical elements. The Scrambler 1100 brings it all full circle. It turns out, taking the Scrambler ethos to the nth degree just accentuates its inherent Ducati-ness. It feels, sounds, and goes like a Ducati—which is what makes it the definitive Scrambler. The Scrambler 1100 is a physically larger machine than its little siblings. It weighs about 40 pounds more and has a wider tank and seat (that’s also slightly taller) as well as a longer wheelbase than the 800. Larger riders will feel more at home, but smaller riders won’t have too much trouble moving up from the 800 to the 1100. New LCD dash is a riff on the original Scrambler’s, but expanded to properly display ride modes and settings. Also like the original, the digital tach sweeps from right to left (the wrong way!) along the bottom of the display. I’m sure riders grow accustomed to it, but I found it annoying and illogical. Three riding modes: Active, which gives full engine and a “direct” throttle response; Journey, which keeps full power and softens throttle response; and City, which cuts output to 75 hp and gives an “extremely fluid” throttle response. Modes are selected by pushing the turn signal indicator. Together with the up/down arrow button, changing settings is fairly easy, though it will take a few minutes to figure it all out. Embroidered seat, dual underslung exhaust. For a stock exhaust, it sounds good and has decent volume. Metal headlight surround, LED running lights. Say goodbye to the original Scrambler’s plastic tank cover. Metal tank with anodized aluminum side covers looks great and should make customizing simpler. The many Scrambler variants have helped Ducati reach new demographics. It’s been a strategic success. Ducati has sold 46,000 Scramblers worldwide since 2015. The gift that keeps on giving. Plucked from the Monster 1100 EVO and revised for 2018, the Scrambler 1100 is Euro 4-compliant and ready to rock. The 2018 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Special. Price $14,295 (as tested) Engine 1079cc air-cooled V-twin Transmission/Final Drive 6-speed/chain Claimed Horsepower 86 hp @ 7,500 rpm Claimed Torque 65 lb.-ft. @ 4,750 rpm Frame Tubular-steel trellis Front Suspension Fully adjustable Marzocchi 45mm upside-down fork; 5.9-in. travel Rear Suspension Kayaba adjustable for preload and rebound; 5.9-in. travel Front Brake Brembo 4-piston radially mounted Monoblock calipers, 320mm discs w/ Bosch cornering ABS Rear Brake Brembo 1-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ Bosch cornering ABS Rake/Trail 24.5°/4.4 in. Wheelbase 59.6 in. Seat Height 31.9 in. Fuel Capacity 4.0 gal. Dry Weight 428 lb. dry Available May 4 and 5 (US, Canada) Contact Sursa
  15. The KX250F corners better than the YZ250F, mostly because it gets better front end traction. The only receives small cosmetic changes for 2018 in the form of race team-inspired blue rims and new graphics. A lack of mechanical changes isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the YZ250F has won over the hearts of many since it was majorly redesigned in 2014. The Kawasaki is in its second year of the latest-generation chassis design and received a number of updates to the engine and suspension for 2018. We took these two 250F motocrossers to LACR for the 2018 Shot Race Gear introduction and did some back-to-back testing on each to see which bike our test riders preferred. Here’s what test riders had to say after a full day of spinning laps on each bike: Cody Johnston, Age: 20, 5’11”, 155 lb., Pro When I hopped on the Yamaha, I instantly noticed it felt like a very comfortable bike that could be widely liked among any size of rider. On the track, I was very pleased with the bottom-end power. Normally, I would have to downshift into second gear for a 180-degree turn on a 250F, but with the amount of bottom-end the YZ250F engine produces, I was able to get away with using third gear and the bike had plenty of power to pull it. The has fantastic over-rev, which I believe all 250Fs should because that’s primarily the part of the powerband in which these bikes are ridden. I could run each gear as long as I wanted and found the Yamaha kept pulling far into the upper rpm range. The YZ250F has a broad powerband that can be ridden however the rider prefers, whether it be lugging or high revving. The suspension was very plush. In some instances, I found it could almost feel too plush, especially in corners. It made the bike feel slightly sluggish and took away from the reactive feel most 250Fs have. That is one area I felt the Kawasaki KX250F excelled. The KX250F was very rider responsive and the harder I rode the bike, the more I got in return. The has a very slim feel around the seat and radiator shrouds, making the bike feel much lighter than it actually is. As far as claimed weights go, there is only a 1-pound difference between these two bikes, but with how slim the KX250F is, it made the bike feel much lighter. I felt the YZ250F had much better straight-line stability than the KX250F. The Yamaha was very planted to the ground and wouldn’t do anything unpredictable. On the other hand, the Kawasaki had better cornering ability than the Yamaha. While riding the big sandy bowl turns at LACR, I felt I would cut down at any point on the Kawasaki and it would go anywhere I pointed it. The KX250F may not have the straight-line stability of the Yamaha, but this can be easily changed by setup such as tightening the steering stem to add more stability at higher speeds. The YZ250F has plusher suspension than the KX250F. Although the Yamaha has more bottom-end than the Kawasaki, I felt the KX250F engine would tend to pick up a bit quicker in the mid to top-end power and was very responsive at any point in the rpm range. Between the two bikes, I would prefer the Kawasaki engine because of how fast it picked up coming out of corners. I never felt either bike was at a lack of power, but as with most 250Fs, you need to ride it in the higher rpm to stay in the meat of the powerband. Therefore, with the Kawasaki getting to the higher rpm quicker, I liked the engine better. Another thing I really liked about the Kawasaki was that it felt a little more like a racebike in stock condition. I had great feedback from the suspension as far as being able to feel the bumps and ruts, but not so much that it would negatively affect my riding; it just had a more performance-based feel to it. The Yamaha on the other hand had such plush suspension that it took away some of the front end feel on the track. I felt that of the two bikes, the Kawasaki would be my first choice and the Yamaha a close second. Both bikes are fantastic and it was difficult to choose one over the other, but for me the Kawasaki was a step above the Yamaha. The KX250F feels small, light, and nimble. Andrew Oldar, Age: 26, 5’10”, 130 lb., Novice Picking apart the differences between the 2018 Yamaha YZ250F and Kawasaki KX250F isn’t entirely difficult because they each have unique traits and a very different feel on the track. What was challenging was choosing which bike I liked better overall at the end of our one-day Showdown test. The YZ250F engine has impressed me ever since the newest engine design was released back in 2014. If I didn’t know any better, I would assume the bike is a 270 because of how much torque the engine has. Lots of bottom-end is not something I commonly associate with 250 four-strokes, but it is with the YZ250F. The bike pulls incredibly well off the bottom-end, so well in fact that I am able to ride the bike in third gear through most corners with only minimal clutch work. The midrange is good and the top-end and over-rev really come on strong. The bike has plenty in these areas and can be either short-shifted or revved to the moon and still be ridden effectively. If there is one thing I don’t like about the Yamaha motor, it’s the engine-braking as it feels like the bike comes to a halt when letting off the throttle. Overall, the YZ250F engine was my favorite between the two bikes and is going to be a hard engine to top in the upcoming 250F Shootout. Both bikes have linear powerbands, but the YZ250F has more of a punch on the bottom-end. The KX250F has a very crisp and free-revving engine. It has a linear powerband that has zero surprises from bottom to top. The linear quality is good because it’s predictable, but I wish it had a little more excitement as I feel it would make it not only be easier to ride fast but also more fun to ride. It doesn’t have as much power as the YZ250F, especially on the bottom-end and top-end. It’s a good engine, but I think more power on the bottom-end and top-end would make it closer to being great. The KYB SSS fork and shock on the YZ250F are incredibly plush. Everything from braking bumps to big jump landings are no match for the Yamaha’s suspension. The fork and shock stay plush throughout the entirety of the stroke and both the front and rear ends are unquestionably the plushest suspension I have ever ridden on. If there is one drawback to the fork, it’s that it feels so plush that it sometimes seems difficult to determine whether the front tire is gripping the ground or not. I don’t think it’s entirely the fork that’s responsible for this feeling, but it contributes to it somewhat. All in all, the suspension on the Yamaha was my favorite between the two bikes. The YZ250F has an impressive amount of torque. The Showa SFF fork on the KX250F has a stiffer, more performance-based feel to it. It holds up well on big jump landings, but that same hold-up makes it feel firm in the small chatter and braking bumps. However, it doesn’t have a harsh feeling. It seemed like the harder and more aggressive I rode the bike, the better the fork worked. The Showa rear shock is plush for the most part and helps the bike stay planted to the ground and therefore enhances straight-line stability, but it wasn’t as plush as the YZ250F. The chassis/handling on the Yamaha YZ250F takes a bit of getting used to, especially after coming off of a different bike. The wide-feeling radiator shrouds are noticeable the moment you sit on the bike, but the feeling seems to decrease when you’re on the track and the more you ride it. The bike has good straight-line stability, but if there’s one thing I don’t like about the YZ250F chassis, it’s the lack of front end traction when cornering. It seems like in stock form the bike doesn’t have a good front end feel when entering turns. At times, it feels like it could wash out at any given moment. This was especially apparent after coming off of the KX250F. I had to get my weight far forward and position myself farther up on the seat than I normally would to try and get the front end to hook up. The YZ250F has a stronger engine and plusher suspension, but the KX250F has a much nimbler chassis. The Kawasaki chassis is awesome. I love how the bike handles and feels on the track as it feels small and thin in a very good way. The small feeling enables me to put the bike anywhere I want with little effort required and another contributing factor to this is how well the bike responds to rider input. However, it doesn’t respond so quickly that it feels twitchy or unstable. It feels perfectly balanced in this aspect. Another chassis trait that I am a huge fan of are the radiator shrouds as they feel slimmer than any bike in the class, especially the YZ250F. All in all, I liked the KX250F chassis better than the YZ250F. Want more news like this? Sign up to receive our newsletters and never miss an update! By submitting above, you agree to our . If I were to have to pick between the Yamaha YZ250F and Kawasaki KX250F, I would have to give the nod to the Yamaha YZ250F. The engine is powerful all-around and the plush KYB suspension is amazing. The slight lack of front end traction is pretty much the only thing I don’t like about the bike. However, it’s something that can be alleviated slightly with getting my weight farther forward and putting more emphasis on the front end. The Kawasaki KX250F is a fantastic bike; I just wish it had more overall power and plusher-feeling suspension. The chassis and ergonomics are excellent. The bike is extremely easy to get used to and feel comfortable on. I would gladly choose this as a racebike any day; I would just have to do some work with the suspension and possibly the engine to make it more suited to my liking. Sursa