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FURBALL …being something the editor-in-chief wanted to bring up

Sales Manager Terri Dodd Designer Amy Hale Photo Editor Nick Wood Photographers Cain Maitland, Nick Wood Contributors Emma Ayres, Elspeth Callender, Joern Delfs, Mike Grant, Jim Green, Tony Hill, Robert Lovas, Phil Gadd, Ryan Lucas, Lester Morris, Brendan Nelson, The Possum, Dimitra Schonekas, Guy Stanford, Stuart Strickland, Colin Whelan Editorial Subscription enquiries 02 9223 5113 Printer Webstar Distributor Network Services Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is published by Australian Motorcyclist Magazine Pty Ltd. Suite 1016, Level 10, 155 King Street, Sydney NSW 2000. Phone 02 9223 5113. This publication is copyright. Other than for the purposes of research, study, criticism, review, parody or satire and subject to the conditions prescribed under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted without the prior written permission of Australian Motorcyclist Magazine Pty Ltd. Opinions expressed within this publication do not necessarily represent those of Australian Motorcyclist Magazine Pty Ltd. No responsibility is accepted by Australian Motorcyclist Magazine Pty Ltd or the editor for the accuracy of any statement, opinion or advice contained in the text or advertisements. Readers should rely on their own enquiries in making decisions tailored to their own interest. *Recommended retail price Copyright © Australian Motorcyclist Magazine Pty Ltd ACN 161 432 506 ISSN 2201-5442

We encourage you to keep or recycle this magazine.


Editor-in-Chief J Peter Thoeming Editor Stuart Woodbury


hank you for picking up this, the first issue of Australian Motorcyclist Magazine. A very warm welcome to newcomers, and a special one to those who have been with me since I launched BIKE Australia all those decades ago. Over the years, the main thing we’ve achieved has been the creation of a community. Readers of my magazines as well as contributors have not considered themselves just as consumers of information and opinion. We have become members of a community that traded all sorts of things among ourselves – congratulations and complaints, praise and perdition. We have come to rely on each other. Australian Motorcyclist will continue that tradition. This magazine will be available for you to express your opinions; we encourage you to write to us, and we hope that your letters will be as insightful and informative as they ever were. You can reach us at But we are not looking back with this magazine. There is so much happening in motorcycling, and the future is so interesting (in a good way) that we’re going to be flat out just keeping pace. It will be a bit easier to stay up to date because our lead times are very short, which is also good news for our advertisers. As you can see from the magazine, we have been supported very enthusiastically. We do owe a lot of potential advertisers an apology – we simply didn’t have time to get around to you. Expect a call from Sales Manager Terri Dodd sometime soon! We are introducing several new ideas with this magazine, including the tear-out map (collect them all!) and a country pub rating system. We will be encouraging Australian ideas and products – it’s interesting to see how well Reevu helmets are doing, a product we championed from early on. If you know of something that could do with being better known, let us know. Our bike and product testing will be of the highest possible standard, and we will bring you the best in news and entertainment as well. Due to popular demand, we are revisiting some of Lester Morris’ early experiences for you – check out Classic Morris. In each issue we will be looking at a topic in depth; this time, it’s organised motorcycle tours. We’ll bring you all the latest on the subject and a bit of background to make it easier for you to sort out your priorities and preferences. But above all we’re going to have fun, on your behalf and in due course, we hope, with you. From the core team – Stuart, Terri and me – and from all of our regular contributors, welcome again and I look forward to a long association with you, our motorcycling community.

Peter ‘The Bear’ Thoeming


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e all love motorcycling. So why don’t we celebrate it more? It is, as most riders will tell you, the most fun you can have out where other people can see you, and generally speaking it’s good for the environment as well. And not only that – despite the doomsayers, it is getting better all the time… Want proof? Just keep turning the pages. We’ve compiled a rundown on some of the most exciting and innovative bikes that will see the light in 2013, and we have tried to work out not only what they’ll do, but what they mean. And it turns out that what they mean is good – all good. Then we’ve had three of our familiar contributors take a look at what motorcycling has meant and continues to mean to them. I’m sure you’ll be inspired by the thoughts of Elspeth Callender, Dimitra Schonekas and Brendan Nelson. We also have David McMullan giving us an intriguing look at all the good that Chinese motorcycles do. The good? Yep. That’s not all the good news for this first issue of Australian Motorcyclist, of course. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together – and for once, that’s not an empty phrase. We’ve had a ball, and we look forward to many more opportunities to do the same. PT

On the road again… photo by Uwe Krauss.

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s the gloom that’s still spread over so many parts of the motorcycle market really justified? The Bear says “no” and backs that up with a quick roundup of the major manufacturers, illustrating how they’re heading into the future with examples of the bikes they are offering us this year. In this story you’ll find beautiful motorcycles, technologically sophisticated ones and just plain terrific bikes; all of them in their own way pointing to a bright future for all of us, no matter what kind of riding we prefer. What is it people say, “read it and weep”? With this list, you can “read it and smile”!

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APRILIA APRILIA When Ivano Beggio launched Aprilia he noted that one way to establish a great marque was to win lots of races. Aprilia has certainly done that, and in the process has developed awesome technological capability. Beggio brought a lot of genius to the brand, but he was clearly less interested in producing other types of bikes than he was in sports bikes and racers. The attitude widened when Piaggio took over, and now the technology and general knowhow are flowing on to more versatile bikes like the Caponord 1200. The factory says this is intended as “One bike for all types of use,” and it’s not hard to see what they mean. From simple things like outstanding touring range offered by the 24 litre fuel tank to the ADD (no, not that kind of ADD) semiactive suspension system that adjusts automatically depending on the road surface and your riding style, the Caponord delivers in practicality and advanced technology alike. What’s more, it is

powered by the same impressive 1197cc vee twin engine as the Dorsoduro. What this means to me is that yet another Italian factory has seen the writing on the wall and is making bikes for us – for the riders who want to go anywhere at any time, and want enjoyable, versatile and competent bikes to do it on. “One bike for all types of uses”? You bet; that’s a vital part of our future!

Australian distribution has now been confirmed for these two iconic Italian names (Benelli is of course Chineseowned, but development remains in Italy). Bimota has been declared dead more times than I can recall, reflecting the tough environment for relatively small specialist builders. Bimota has always used bought-in engines, and has recently restricted itself to using Ducati power plants. That’s been wonderful – see the DB8 in our photo – but it did put a limit on the marque’s future development, and probably made other specialist builders cautious as well. So it is big news from Bimota that they will be producing a BB2 – an Italian special built around the (no doubt tweaked) powertrain of BMW’s S 1000 RR. That shows faith not only from Bimota but also from Bavaria, and brightens the future of the entire exotic, expensive but also wonderfully exciting world of specialist bike constructors.

BMW It’s tempting to illustrate BMW’s impact in this coming year and beyond with the so-called “Water Boxer”, the new liquid cooled R 1200 GS. The new Motorrad boss Stephan


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BMW Schaller has certainly indicated that the engine will make its way into the rest of the range as required. But something potentially even more important has happened in Munich: the first credible example of a different type of “urban mobility vehicle” from BMW in the form of the new C series maxi scooters. I’ve ridden the GT and I think that I could make a strong case for it as an allround tourer, as well as employing it for more traditional scooter uses. It has features that we’re used to seeing on luxury tourers, like heated seats, while retaining the basic handiness of a scooter. It’s true that it is big – it needs to be to do its job out on the open road – but it is not so big that it won’t fit through much stationary traffic (where permitted by law, of course). What the new C series scooters say to me about the future is that we are finally at the point where the concept of serving “urban mobility” has become more than a slogan. We have had other bikes and scooters, like Piaggio’s MP3s, that did an excellent job of getting people around in the city, but BMW is introducing product planning dedicated to increasing the versatility of the vehicles involved. It didn’t work with their “Scarver” (remember that?) but these maxis

may just be the forerunners of some seriously exciting “urban mobility” that stretches well beyond the city. And of course there is the electric maxi scooter C-Evolution, due in early 2014 and, according to Stephan Schaller, the precursor of some smaller models…

DUCATI Good news here! Along with many other manufacturers, Ducati has not always listened to its customers – but

that’s changed in a big way in recent years. Probably the most obvious thing about the 2013 range is that Bologna has happily accepted that Ducati owners want to do all sorts of things with their bikes, including travel. To accommodate that, there is a whole range of specific touring models this year – it even has a name, the Strada range. Joining the Multistrada, available in several variants including the 1200S Granturismo (pictured) are the Hyperstrada and the Diavel Strada. Having recently done some touring on a standard non-Strada Diavel I can tell you that this new model will be a serious contender out there on the open road. And you won’t even get any complaints from your pillion! The future for Ducati looks very bright, with the new owners Audi providing backing but apparently happy to let the Italians continue on the successful track they’ve chosen. That suggests that the future for the lovers of the marque, the “Ducatisti”, is also bright.


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HARLEY-DAVIDSON HARLEY-DAVIDSON It’s back to the days of rock ‘n’ roll and best of all, bright and bold metalflake for Milwaukee. The 72 Sportster is a full-on tribute to the carefree days when all we needed to worry about was how we were going to get the strength to rub back the twentieth coat of clear lacquer over our bike’s colour scheme. The ape hangers and large diameter, slim front wheel are also styling cues to take us back to our youth, and to express the newfound sense of fun from the Motor Company. Times may have been tough, this bike says, but now it’s time to party! It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the message that the 72 sends, and we can expect its attitude to make its way into at least part of the rest of the range. That process has actually already begun, with the styling of the beautifully presented FXBSE in the top-end CVO range. There’s a photo of it in our contents pages; it might be the reason why you’ve turned to this story!

does – and also every bit of credibility provided by existing models. There’s no better example of that than the three new 500cc models we will see in 2013. All three bikes share the lightweight but fairly traditional tubular steel frame, suspension consisting of a Pro-Link setup at the rear with a preload-adjustable shock and a conventional 41mm front fork. Brakes are a 320mm wave-style single disc at the front and a 240 mm one at the rear, gripped by two- and singlepiston calipers respectively. In line with recent developments in European legislation, all three models come with ABS standard. The bikes use the same liquid cooled 471 cc parallel twin.

The interesting thing is how the look of the bikes pays homage to (and derive credibility from) other Hondas. The naked CB500F shows traces of the tough-looking CB1000R, the sporty CBR500R (in the photo) channels the mighty CBR1000RR Fireblade and the dual sport CB500X brings to mind the Crosstourer 1200. It looks pretty clear that Honda will continue to maximise its development work in this way, something that will be useful in a future when a lot of attention will shift to smaller bikes for developing markets – this way we’ll keep getting interesting new models despite stretched R&D budgets!

HUSQVARNA It must be Christmas every day in Cassinetta di Biandronno, near Varese in Italy. Here, Husqvarna’s design engineers appear to have the full bag of BMW’s goodies at their disposal. And aren’t they taking advantage of it, digging through to find stuff to play with! Last year it was the pair of 900 Nudas (now with ABS) that was born from upgraded BMW technology, and for 2013 it’s another pair of twins - the 43 kW TR650 Strada (in the photo) and Terra.

HONDA When the going gets tough, the tough get going… and Honda has been demonstrating just how tough it is by making the most of every bit of development work the company


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OF MOTORCYCLING Celebration see if any of the literally dozens of Chinese brands will manage to do anything like it.


HUSQVARNA This time the bikes are powered by BMW’s well-proven single cylinder engines. The capacity has not been boosted, unlike the Nudas’, but a lot of other engine work has been done (both bikes have restricted-power LAMs versions). And you only need to look at the light, lithe styling of the bikes to see that fiddling with the engines is not all that Husqvarna has done. These bikes are a terrific omen for the future of Husqvarna: not just a subsidiary of the Bavarian giant, but a boutique design house making a genuine and highly significant contribution to motorcycle design. And it looks as if the policy of pricing the Huskies below the BMWs they’re based on will continue; that’s a great omen for the future for all of us.


down forks. In other words, it’s a highly successful model that’s getting some tweaks to keep it up to date and attractive to its market – which includes a lot of learners. Another feature that makes it most attractive is of course the price, a remarkably low $7490 plus on-road costs. And the significance of this is… very simply that Hyosung, with its entire range but especially with the GT650R, has firmly established its place in the Australian market. It is the first new brand from a nontraditional motorcycle manufacturing country that’s done that in Australia (or at least I can’t think of another one – I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong). It is possible to effectively come out of nowhere and make a success of a new brand in our market. Now the interesting thing will be to

There are two kinds of allrounder bikes. Well, in fact there are probably more but for my purposes I’ll stop at two. One is the classic allrounder, the one that’s useful for just about everything and manages to be a bit of fun as well. Then there’s the Kawasaki Z800 kind. This type of bike is not only good for just about every use, it also offers something special that pulls it well and truly out of the ordinary. I won’t go into too much detail about the Z800 because it’s reviewed in this issue anyway, but here’s a quick overview: the engine, based on the Z750 but with an increased displacement of 806cc, provides outstanding low and midrange performance. It is also remarkably flexible right through the rev range and has no shortage of top end power either. The transmission is faultless and handling is both responsive and reassuringly stable. On top of that the bike is remarkably affordable at only $12,999 plus on-road costs. But that isn’t the aspect of the bike that really

The significance of Hyosung for 2013 and the further future doesn’t rest on just one bike, or even a particular type in its range, although I’ll try to illustrate what I mean with the GT650R. The bike, as Hyosung Australia points out, was among other achievements Australia’s top selling Super Sports bike in 2012. For this model year the bike has been smartened up with a new fairing and a new instrument panel to give it a sportier appearance, and it gets improved Kayaba suspension including adjustable compression and rebound damping to join the upside-


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KAWASAKI stands out for me. Call me shallow (you wouldn’t be the first) but I just love the look of the thing. It’s not what you’d call beautiful; instead it looks aggressive and futuristic, even challenging. A bit like a sports bike in a way, but more compact and chunky. It’s a great look which manages to still be true to Kawasaki’s “family” appearance. To my mind this is a bike it will be easy to bond with – oops, with which it will be easy to bond – rather like the first bike I ever bought new, Kawasaki’s Turbo. I think if you buy one it will make its way into your heart very quickly, and I hope that it points to a future where other manufacturers also offer affordable, competent motorcycles with just that something special. And of course I know that they already do, in many ways. It’s just that the Kawasaki Z800 is an outstanding example.

place. Big bikes are selling tolerably well, and bike shops should be seeing an upward trend in all sorts of motorcycles and accessories. But there is one outstanding category, and that’s the 250cc (or so) sports bike replica class. Kawasaki has taken that up by 50cc with its new Ninja 300, while KTM has chosen to upgrade its 125cc Duke instead to produce the remarkable new 200 Duke. What makes the new Duke outstanding? As KTM puts it, this is “a fullyfledged, great-looking motorbike at an extremely competitive price”. But that’s only part of the package. The 199.5cc engine is all new with a newly developed cylinder head and

valves, as well as new intake and exhaust systems specially designed by KTM for the 200. “This is a stateof-the-art single cylinder design with a generous helping of sporting DNA,” says the factory, and with a power output of 19kW and a low weight of only 126kg, it delivers serious performance. KTM has helped the engine along with a trellis frame and outstanding suspension and braking components. What does that mean for the future? I think we’ll be seeing some serious upgrading in this class – both in terms of power, safety and handling, which can only be good for the future of motorcycling in this country. The more fun the riders of these trick little machines have, the more of them will move on to become regular motorcyclists and join our community permanently.

MOTO GUZZI In 1968, when the Los Angeles police department trialled its first V7 Moto Guzzis, the concept of the California was born. It took another two years for the first bike to wear the badge, but since then the name California has always meant something rather special to its many fans, and even to the wider motorcycle community.

KTM Those three letters and the company slogan – “Ready to Race” – usually mean a highly competitive dirt bike or big bore dual sports machine. Well, for this year I think there is quite a different style of bike from KTM that carries a great deal of significance. If you look at the Australian motorcycle market, you’ll see that there is a gradual recovery taking


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MV AGUSTA manufacturer that stole my heart. Once again, I wasn’t the only one. MV Agusta won the title of “Moto più bella del salone” or the “Most beautiful bike of the show” at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan with its 800cc Rivale. The tidy naked “motard” triple took 35.5% of the votes from a total of more than 15,000 show attendees, beating the Ducati Hypermotard SP and BMW R 1200 GS. At the presentation, Giovanni Castiglioni, President and CEO of MV Agusta, said “For us it is a further recognition and confirmation of how much energy and resources MV Agusta is dedicating to the constant development of new products.” It’s good to see that the recent death of the firm’s founder, Claudio Castiglioni, has not affected the spirit of MV’s designers. I know that MV is a small manufacturer by world standards, although recent price adjustments in this country look like making the brand a much more significant force here. But the significance of this win should not be underestimated: true beauty is recognised among motorcyclists, and I suspect it will sell as well.

PIAGGIO / VESPA Everybody loved the prototype of the Vespa 946 that was shown at the Milan motorcycle show back in 2011, and the real thing has turned out to be pretty close to that absolutely stylish original. But this is far from being a cosmetic exercise; the 946 has a completely new 3 valve engine giving it not only 7 per cent more power and 10 per cent more torque than previous 125cc engines from Piaggio, but also reduced fuel consumption and class-leading emission figures. The body of the scooter is still made

of steel, a Vespa trademark, but now with some aluminium additions, and it has both anti-lock braking and electronic traction control. But while the 946 will clearly become the new technical standard for scooters, it also has a secret weapon: it is, clearly and unmistakably, a Vespa. The styling might not have a single thing in common with previous Vespas but the overall style is unmistakable; it is a Vespa, and there is no other scooter style in the world that is as recognisable. Obviously Piaggio will make a point of maintaining that family resemblance, but what I’m wondering is if anyone else will be able to create a scooter style that will become iconic, the way the Vespa shape has. So this is not prediction but rather anticipation: who will be the first scooter manufacturer to create another truly lasting house style? Meanwhile, of course, the Vespa 946 is going to be the ultimate icon of scooter style – and I anticipate seeing a lot of them on the roads in Australia!

SUZUKI Harley-Davidson has been making a bit of a meal of the cruiser market in Australia, with sales that have been


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simply outstanding. But that doesn’t mean that the Motor Company will have it all tis own way. There is some innovative thinking going on in Japan, for example, that is showing up on bikes like Suzuki’s Boulevard C90T “bagger”. An American invention, baggers are essentially touring cruisers. The bike is the first Suzuki Boulevard to feature factory-fitted hard saddle bags made of durable, impact-resistant ABS with covers matched to the seats. The lids of the saddlebags can be unlocked with the ignition key, so they really are part of the design not an add-on. An 18-litre fuel tank and seat designed for longdistance comfort and support add to the package’s appeal. Suzuki has not forgotten that allimportant cruiser feature: looks. The bike is blacked out to look integrated and impressive, and features a whopping 200mm wide rear tyre. The C90T also scores a lot of techno features including a back-torque limiter derived from Suzuki’s justly famous sports bikes, offering smooth down- and precise up-shifts. In other words, here is a Japanese cruiser designed to fit an American style (which is also becoming soughtafter in Australia) and fitted with some of the latest technology. The C90T is not the only bike in this

category, far from it, but it serves as an excellent example of what we can expect in the future – from cruisers as well as other styles.

TRIUMPH Hinckley just keeps powering on, with a steady flow of new models and updates for the current range. That’s probably enough all by itself to tell you what the brand’s future is going to be, but what can Triumph tell us about the future of motorcycling in general? I think there are quite clear clues in a couple of new models. The Trophy, Triumph’s entry into the luxury

touring market, will be launched just about when you read this, but we can already see that the company is determined to have a bike in every important market niche. And not just any bike, but a highly competitive one – the Trophy certainly looks the goods, even though I’ve only seen but not ridden one. I suspect that this lead will be followed by others, and we will see all major manufacturers launching bikes to fill niches currently occupied by others. It makes sense to not give buyers a reason to look in someone else’s range, no matter what they’re looking for!


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VICTORY Which brings us to the Tiger Explorer (pictured). It’s been out for a little while, but it carries just as strong a message as the Trophy – namely that it’s not only niches that will be filled in the future, but subniches and especially any perceived gaps in a dual sport range. BMW already does this, of course, offering GS versions of just about every bike it makes. The fact that Triumph is now offering five Tigers - two 1200s and two 800s, as well as the 1050 – reinforces the importance of the class, and the drive to make bikes available for it at any capacity. Look for more dual sports machines from more manufacturers as riding sports bikes becomes too expensive (lots of new speed cameras going out). That is one prediction that’s a sure thing!

But of course the big news from the company carries a different badge: the eagerly-awaited new Indian motorcycles are coming, and they’re not far off now. That augurs very well indeed for Indian and Victory, but is this a guide to the future of any more of the great classic but now neglected or even abandoned brands? Well, Horex in Germany is on the road, so who knows? Anyone willing to put money on a proper revival for Norton?

YAMAHA The thoughtful folk from Yamaha are showing us that a year without a major new model release is not necessarily a year without model

development and progress. The new FJR1300 is not “new” as in a completely redesigned or even revised model, but it has been upgraded very significantly. The bike looks smarter and slicker with its restyled fairing, it gets a lot of LED lighting – and even a centre stand that’s easier to use! But of course the bulk of the upgrade is electronic, including traction control. The “automatic” AS model has the full bag of goodies with upside down fork, selectable suspension tuning and damping and preload settings; unfortunately neither bike gets the sixth gear that could lower fuel consumption. And what does this tell us about the future? I think it means that more and more bikes will pick up the latest electronic and other upgrades as manufacturers take a relatively inexpensive route to making their bikes more attractive. All models will benefit from this; we can look forward to better, more competent bikes across the range. Of course that also means that they’ll be more complex, but that’s the way it goes.

VICTORY There might only be one new model so far from Victory for 2013, but it demonstrates the company’s attitude to the growth of its range very well. The new Boardwalk is a classic cruiser designed to offer ultra-comfortable ergonomics and to take Victory’s new Lock & Ride accessories. These will allow you to customise the bike and even turn it into a comfortable two-up cruiser with saddlebags, a tall windscreen, pillion backrest and luggage rack; and all in minutes.


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