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October 2017 On the cover of the October issue of Cycle Torque is Honda’s new CBR1000RR Fireblade. The ‘Blade gets a reboot in 2017, it’s lithely, more powerful and gets a whole suite of electronics! Philip James provides an in-depth road rider’s report and is well worth a read if you love a weekend blast on a mountain road. Also tested in the issue is Triumph’s ‘genuine factory custom’ Bonneville Bobber. While it may not be for everyone, it’s a sexy machine regardless, so just about anybody could see themselves taking this cruel mistress home. What goes up must come down - it’s a basic law of physics and how your suspension works. If only it was that easy. Well it is! Philip James explains the black art, and points you in the right direction which’ll help make your boingers work best for you. Ride your Motorcycle to Work Week is on in October, and we’ve got the latest products and smart-cas’ motorcycle clothing to get you there and back. Oh, there’s wet-weather gear too (just in case…). Want opinion? You got it! We’re brave enough to try and solve the slow start to the Australian motorcycle industry. Is there such a thing as too much choice? I reckon there could be. What do you think? Make sure you check out the latest motorcycle news, plenty of embedded videos, slideshows and links to extra information. Hope you enjoy the issue. – Ryan Grubb Editor
cycletorque.com.au cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 3
Ridden Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR
Triumph Bonneville Bobber
Features Suspension 101
Regulars 06 NEWS 27 EDITORIAL 69 BOOK SHOP 70 MARKET TORQUE 71 RIDE DAYS & TOURS 76 CREDITS Cover photos by Nigel Paterson 4 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
ENJOY YOUR RIDE
IXON HELIA LADY JACKET
IXON RS DRIFT GLOVE IXON ZEPHYR AIR HP JACKET
IXON WHITNEY LADY JEANS
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Desmosedici Stradale: Ducati’s V4 Panigale engine Ducati has unveiled its new Desmosedici Stradale engine - a 90-degree V4 - at the Misano Circuit, Italy, September 8. The new engine will power Ducati’s 2018 Panigale, set to be unveiled at EICMA, November 5. Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati said the engine “represents the start of a new chapter” for the company. Ducati press material says the Desmosedici Stradale engine is “undoubtedly” suited to the track, but it has also been designed to respond to the needs of the road rider. These needs can vary significantly, so let’s take a look at the new donk. The road-going Stradale will be slightly larger in capacity (1103cc) than the R spec engine (expected in 2019); it will have to be under 1000cc to comply with World Superbike homologation rules. This should give the road-going sportsbike a bit more usability in the low to mid rev range, but it will more than likely be down on overall hp to the expected R variant. Not that it matters, because output is expected to exceed 210 horsepower, with maximum torque exceeding 120 Newton-metres from 8,750-12,250 revs. Ducati’s MotoGP bike currently makes over 250hp… The V4 will adopt plenty of MotoGP technology including a counter-rotating crankshaft to reduce the gyroscopic effect and provide agility. The crank pins are offset at 70 degrees, involving a Twin Pulse firing sequence to provides grip in corner exits, known more commonly as the ‘Big Bang’ effect. Big Bang works by the pistons working in two teams of two so it provides more ‘bang’ compared to a bigger-bore V-twin. In between ‘bangs’ is when the bike supposedly has more grip. 6 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
The change to the V4 also allows for mass centralisation, the engine will be tilted slightly forward in the Panigale to optimise weight distribution, whilst allowing for larger radiators and bringing the swingarm pivot point forward. The cylinder bore is the same spec as the Desmosedici GP, Ducati’s MotoGP engine, at 81mm. The Stradale is expected to be almost identical with in-engine fluid dynamics. Variable height air intake horns are a first for a retail Ducati, claimed to optimise cylinder intake across the rev range. Fuelling will be taken care of by oval throttle bodies, each with two injectors, one each side of the butterfly. We will also see Ducati’s continuation with the Desmodromic valve system. n
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Kawasaki goes modern retro with Z900RS Kawasaki has announced it will unveil an modern classic interpretation of the highly revered Z1/Z900, the Z900RS, at the Tokyo Motor Show in October.
The bike is a big statement from Heavy Industries, as it signifies their arrival to the neo classic party, competing directly with Yamaha’s XSR, BMW’s R NineT and Triumph’s modern classic machines. Here’s the teaser video: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=UMT7K2Df_mE Cycle Torque tested the 2017 incarnation of the Z900 recently and foreshadowed this new machine. “While it replaces the Z800 of 2016, you will still see it parked next to the Z1000 on showroom floors across the country. To an untrained eye both the performance and style of the Z900 and Z1000 seem to be pretty close to each other. This leads one to question, has Heavy Industries HQ made a big mistake by not tipping their cap to yesteryear with a modern interpretation of its revered retro?” Ryan Grubb, Cycle Torque. Ryan said he was impressed by the new Zed: “I put over 1000 kilometres on the Zed9 throughout the time the bike was in for testing and I found it really hard to fault. The standout feature on the new bike has 8 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
to be its 948cc inline four-cylinder engine, with its buttery-smooth gearbox and slipand-assist clutch. “Kawasaki deserves the utmost praise for its linear power delivery. Fuelling is bang on, with smooth throttle response right across the board. It’s a pretty refined bike considering it is still early days in terms of development, although it comes from good stock. “I really can’t believe how easy to ride this Zed nine engine is fast or slow. There’s enough headroom to ride a bit ‘lazier’ and use the torque to your advantage, but you can also ride at those stratospheric revs like a Supersport machine, but faster. It’s the best of both worlds.” Kawasaki has been extremely careful not to show off too many details of the Z900RS, but we can see it has classic styled twin instrument cluster, old-school mirrors, LED headlight and indicators, a retro brown
colour scheme and what appears to be upside-down forks. After extensively riding the Z900, here’s five things we want to know about the new machine.
Will Kawasaki fiddle with the powerplant and/ or mapping? There’s rumours suggesting the Z900RS will lose a few ponies in order to provide a bit more grunt lower in the rev range. This will make it a bit easier to ride, not that the engine the bike’s based off really needs fiddling with…
Rider modes/Rider aids
Then there’s the whole rider mode/rider aid technology thing. Are we going to see an ‘authentic’ interpretation of sorts? The current Z900 isn’t ‘tainted’ by electronic wizardry, and there seems to be as many people for it as there are against.
sprung and for the most part it works as an uncompromising naked. Again this probably won’t work with a modern classic, so the ride will have to soften up a bit so it’s suitable for more riders. When Cycle Torque tested the 2017 Z900 (with a 110kg rider), preload was okay for them but it was completely wound out which means it can’t be made softer.
How it looks is arguably one of the most important things Kawasaki needs to get right with the Z900RS. Although we’ve (sort-of) seen a glimpse of the bike, so far it looks like it’s done a good job. Making tradition and innovation work together in the real world is always a compromise, so we expect to see lots of oldschool looking bits with modern technology inside.
All up we’re really looking forward to seeing the Z900RS unveiled, and how Kawasaki has built it. The bike represents Does that mean the Z900RS will go down the the manufacturer’s first foray into into neoclassic machinery. Yes, it built the recently same path, or will Kawasaki decide to add discontinued W650 and W800s, but they some intervention. were very much traditional machines with We tend to think Kawasaki will, or at least little artistic licence. they should - it’s releasing the Z900RS With the Z900RS, Kawasaki’s knows its because it has more mass-market appeal, that means making sure it caters to all riders. biggest strength is its modern performance and technology, let’s see how they package it up.
What about the ergonomics? Kawasaki will have to get the seat right, and make sure it’s much more suitable to carry a pillion compared to the Z900. Again more massmarket appeal means more versatility and more prospective buyers.
How do you think Kawasaki will build the Z900RS? Read the Z900 Test + Video http://cycletorque.com.au/reviews/2017kawasaki-z900/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZczFmJKiU&feature=youtu.be
The last few Zeds have been relatively stiffly cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 9
Kawasaki Team Green Ride Day Report: Broadford Kawasaki has hosted another successful Team Green Ride Day event at Broadford, Victoria. The trackday is designed to reinforce the Kawasaki riders’ community and provide an affordable experience for all levels of riders. Kawasaki’s next trackday will be at Wakefield Park, New South Wales, December 4. Find out more: http://kawasaki. com.au/events/ktga-nsw-track-daywakefield-park-raceway-monday-4thdecember-2017/ Punters were treated to a showbag on the day including limited run collectable event caps, plus an exclusive performance by Kawasaki supported Jamie Baker – JB Stunts. Monty and Amelia said they were bent on making it to the 2017 Broadford track day with their ZX-6Rs after missing the event at Phillip Island in 2016. “We started riding together through friends and after our first track day, we loved it!” exclaimed Monty. Amelia has built up an impressive social media following with her Ninja ZX-6R (Instagram: @amelia_zx), dived into track days after previously attending her first outing. “Doing a girls only day was chilled and was a good way to get into it so I was hooked right away,” she said. David from Geelong in Victoria turned plenty of heads with his 2001 KLX650. Modifications included engine tuning, track orientated tyres, aftermarket rims and more. “I bought it off a gentleman to repair it and I’ve converted it to a motard specifically for today’s track day,” David said. “It’s been really good! “Around the corners it’s sensational and I’m really happy with it.” ZRX 1200R models have made frequent appearances at the KTGA track days and Lincoln’s 2005 model was a remarkable example. Lincoln said he has owned the bike for three years. “I really love it and it is a good all-rounder. “I do a lot of sports touring, ride days and this is my first track day. “I’m really happy with how it’s going,” he said. 10 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
A novice to the track, Lincoln is hooked. “I’d love to come back here, Phillip Island or where ever. It’s great and thanks to Kawasaki for putting on the day,” he said. Kawasaki devotees, Gary and Silvia attended the day with their beloved Ninja 650L and ER-6nL motorcycles. “We have been to the Phillip Island KTGA track day but this is our first time at Broadford and we’re having a blast,” Gary commented. “The track is technical and getting the corners right to get the speed out of them is challenging and good.” The Kawasaki couple have been putting their green machines to good use including, “Day trips, a bit of touring and weekend rides. We went from Melbourne to Dubbo which took a couple of days and it was nice because we took it easy. The bikes are great, comfortable and economical,” Silvia said. Experienced track riders, John MacCabe (2009 Ninja ZX6R), Mark Brunel (2004 Ninja ZX-10R) and David Pickard (2005 Ninja ZX-6R) made a welcome appearance to the event with their Breast Cancer Awareness-clad Kwackers. “The livery which is on the bikes is about a personal thing for myself and Mark, my wife was diagnosed last year with breast cancer so essentially we are all in pink and we are trying to raise awareness, particularly with younger women to encourage them to have a check-up,” John said. John raced his Ninja ZX-6R in the 600cc Supersport Class of the Australian Superbike Championship at Phillip Island earlier this year. n
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Monsters Inc 2: Ducati reintroduces LAMS 659 Ducati Australia and New Zealand has announced the Monster 659 will make a comeback. The learner-approved 659 will be produced exclusively for Australia and New Zealand and is based upon the new Monster 797. It’s expected to arrive and be on sale from October 2017 with an introductory price of $12,490 plus on-roads. Ducati Australia and New Zealand CEO, Warren Lee, said the 797 is “proving to be a very popular model with younger, female and less experienced riders.” “It’s the ideal basis for our new LAMS model,” he said. The 659 was ‘discontinued’ a couple of years ago, leaving Ducati with the Scrambler Sixty2 as its only learner-approved machine. FCAI figures show it was certainly a very popular model the first time ‘round, roughly over 1000 learner-approved Monsters were sold in its last three years.
However Ducati’s sales figures from the first half of this year were down 17 per cent compared to the previous year. It appears the 659 could be vital to the Australian market for Ducati, neither the Monster 797 or 821 seem to be resonating with buyers like the 659 did. Ducati says the Scrambler range made up just under 30 per cent of its worldwide sales in 2016, a trend which isn’t yet being seen in Australia. The new Monster offers the key elements of its predecessor; lightweight, easy handling and rider-friendly V-Twin power delivery. The 2018 version has a low standard seat height of 785mm, ABS is standard. As with all new Ducati motorcycles, the Monster 659 will be covered by a two-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 24-hour roadside and emergency assist. Cycle Torque tested the Monster 659 in 2014 as part of its first TV series, watch the video: https://youtu.be/yc2KyhqH7RU?t=44s cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 13
Venturaâ€™s new flat rack luggage system
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Style meets practicality Four-way adjustable flat rack.
VENTURA is available from your favourite motorcycle store. For more information about VENTURA products visit www.venturarack.com.au email: email@example.com
* 40-litre capacity * Sports touring * Expandable * Four external pockets
Entries open for BMW GS Trophy qualifier BMW Motorrad has announced itâ€™s sending a team to represent Australia at the 2018 International GS Trophy for the first time. The GS Trophy is not a race; it is an endurance challenge that tests riders on their team spirit, fitness, tenacity and riding capability. To select the team, a national qualifier will be held in Lima East, Victoria, October 28-29. The top three riders who participate in the qualifier will be selected to compete in Mongolia in 2018. The Top 2 female riders (if they place outside Top 3) will receive the opportunity to compete in the International GS Trophy Female Team, and will be sent to South Africa for the Female Qualifier event.
log riding, hill climbs, descents, water crossing, braking downhill, sand passage and more. The International GS Trophy is an ultimate adventure challenge for GS motorcycle riders from all over the world. The competition first started in 2008 in Tunisia, and has continued over the years with events in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Patagonia, Canada and Thailand. For more information and to register for the 2017 GS Trophy Australian Qualifier, please visitÂ bmwsafari.com. https://youtu.be/ssdNPkB3eew
Event challenges include a technical test, navigation test, physical fitness test, parallel cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 15
Harley Days set to rock ‘n’ roll Harley Days, Australia’s largest celebration of H-D culture will be held Saturday, October 27-29. Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country are expected to gather at Wollongong’s Stuart Park for the event. Nigel Keough, Managing Director of Harley-Davidson Australia & New Zealand said the company is “proud to bring Harley Days back to the stunning Illawarra region for the second year running. “The spirit of the festival honours freedom, adventure and the creative expression of the Australian motorcycle community.” Headlining the event is Jon Stevens, Aussie rock legend, who will perform live at Harley Days After Dark, October 28. Jon said he is “honoured” to perform at the event. “I played an epic gig with INXS at Harley’s 100th birthday, and I’m really looking forward to another unforgettable night. “Roll in and rock out,” Mr Stevens said. The 2018 Harley-Davidson models will be available to test ride from Stuart Park and for many riders it will be one of the first opportunities to see the all-new Softail range. Guided Rides have also been organised over the three days to showcase the breathtaking scenery of the South Coast and Illawarra region. There will be two rides per day, including a special Ladies of Harley ride that will take place on the Saturday. Also taking part in the event is Harley ambassador Danielle Cormack (Wentworth, Rake) who’ll ride into the festival to take part in activities throughout the weekend including the Thunder Run. The Thunder Run is a mass participation ride on the Sunday where crowds can expect to see up to thousands of riders rumble through the streets of Wollongong and stunning surrounds. The ride will raise money for Camp Quality. The weekend will also feature a custom bike show and traditional show and shine, demo rides, jumpstarts, dyno drag racing, dude and doll huts, fashion parades, Fun Zone with festival rides, food stalls and bars. Also, if you buy a Harley Days pin, you’ll go in the chance to win a 2018 Harley. Ticketing is available through the Harley Days website. n 16 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
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National Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Week, October 8-15 Spring has sprung and you know what that means? Time to start riding again. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries is behind a big push to get you out of your tin top and back on the bike. The National Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Week will run from October 8 to 15, and is a great way to celebrate Australiaâ€™s motorcycling fraternity. So blow the winter cobwebs off your bike, lube that chain and feel your knees in the breeze. Start planning that long weekend away, and remember why motorcycling is such a great way to get around - better parking, less traffic and just plain fun. It can also help you find any ready-to-ride hassles so you can get them sorted - it might be a set of new tyres, bleeding the brakes or even upgrading some of your riding gear. So October 8th to the 15th, letâ€™s ride to work and get your workmates to do it too. Who knows, you might even be inspired to ride all year round. Ryan Grubb
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Is BMW’s ‘genuine GS’ learner genuine BS? BMW Motorrad Australia has announced the learner-approved G 310 GS will arrive in dealerships mid-October. Pricing starts at $6,900 plus on-roads, and will be available in three colours. BMW calls it a “genuine GS”, and press pictures indicate it certainly looks capable of slaying the twisties and a fire trail or two. To be fair the GS has maintained an iconic status not because it looks capable and versatile, but because it is capable and versatile. Let’s see how it stacks up. The G 310 GS is based upon BMW’s learner platform first seen with the G 310 R roadster. First up, the biggest selling point of the 310 GS variant is ABS can be switched off at the press of a button, which is a must when you’re riding off-road. It’s great to see the feature included on an entry-level bike.
out is whether the bike handles as well in its intended environment as the roadster does. Suspension travel on the GS is long with 180mm at each end, and the rear spring is adjustable for preload. BMW has also opted for a 19-inch front wheel which will improve off-road handling and learner-friendliness, but cast wheels limit more serious off-road capability.
Cycle Torque had a ride of the G 310 R roadster back in July, so we’ve got a fair idea what to expect from the engine. It’s a 313cc liquid-cooled reversed-head single, which has suitable performance for a learner and boasts great fuel economy too.
The 310 off-roader’s styling is distinctly GS with its characteristic high front fender and short, high rear.
However on a GS we’ve come to expect lots of fuel capacity too, and it’s meagre on the G 310 GS at 11 litres, so we’re seeing BMW make some compromises. We’re looking forward to finding out how much range the G 310 GS offers, with roughly over 300kms expected out of a tank.
All up we’re expecting a relatively capable machine, maybe not quite GS standard, but more than enough to satisfy its lessexperienced rider market and the conditions they’ll throw at it.
The other thing we’re looking forward to finding 20 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
Seat height is low by adventure bike standards at 835mm which opens up the bike up to a wide range of riders.
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Sydney Motorcycle Show gets arty Over forty unique helmets hand-crafted by airbrush artist Mark ‘Brownie’ Brown will be on display at this year’s Sydney Motorcycle Show, November 24-26. The collection is part of a showcase of four local artists and will be a first for the event. Show organiser Troy Bayliss acknowledged the art showcase presented a rare opportunity for visitors to the show to view the incredible artwork up close. “Most of the helmets that will feature in the exhibition are rarely seen outside of a rider’s personal collections these days,” Bayliss explained. “To have so many together and on display is unheard of, and is an opportunity not to be missed.” Visitors to the show will get a rare, up close look at all of Toby Price’s custom helmets including the one he wore when he won the coveted Dakar Rally. Other helmets confirmed to be on display at the 2017 Sydney Motorcycle Show include Jason Crump’s Speedway World Championship helmet, Robbie Maddison’s first ever painted Red Bull helmet, Aston Martin Champion Mark Williamson’s helmet, and Courtney Atkinson’s Olympic cycling helmet. Brown hails from the New South Wales South Coast and began painting helmets as a 16-year-old. Over the past 24 years has painted helmets for some of Australia’s leading athletes including Dakar winner Toby Price, three-time World Speedway Champion Jason Crump, three-time Superbike World Champion Troy Bayliss, world-renowned stuntman Robbie Maddison and Olympian Courtney Atkinson to name a few. While each helmet is of equal importance to Brown, he cites a helmet he painted for Toby Price as one that one stands out. “While every helmet is special, the last helmet I painted for Toby Price before he became a Red Bull athlete is a standout,” Brown said. “I knew it was going to be the last helmet I would paint that would be personal to him, so I included every name of the event or series that he had raced in up until that moment. “The colours were spot on and it was the helmet he wore when he won the Finke Desert Race for the fourth time,” he said. Price, a five-time Finke Desert Race winner and
Dakar champion said Browns helmets are a work of art. “Brownie has painted me some of the best helmets I’ve ever seen,” Price said. “These helmets mean the world to me as they are one-offs not to be made again. “It would kill me if I lost these; I’ll be taking them to the grave with me for sure.” While racing throughout Europe Jason Crump continued to have his helmets painted by Brown. “From my early days to winning the World Speedway titles when I was racing in Europe I always wanted to support Australian products where possible,” Crump said. “Although sponsored by Red Bull Europe I always requested my helmets were painted by [Brown]. “I hope visitors to the show enjoy viewing the collection of my helmets that will be on display,” he added. Brown’s talent extends to other incredible projects over the years like painting Red Bull stunt and race planes, shoes for Olympian Yana Pittman, a skeleton luge for the Winter Olympics and championship trophies for the MX Nationals. He has also spent hundreds of hours designing and painting tribute bikes to Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo. The 2017 Sydney Motorcycle Show will showcase more than the latest motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and side-by-sides, it will also give visitors the opportunity to engage with industry experts, test ride a range of both adults and children’s motorcycles as well as be entertained by a full program of demonstrations, stunts, and special features. n
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BACK ON THE BOX Cycle Torque’s huge fifth series Watch online at www.cycletorque.com.au On Foxtel’s Aurora Channel 173 Tuesdays 8.30pm From September 5 24 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
Readers, we need your support…
PLUS: FLACK, SMARTY, COTTON & MORE…
cycletorque For the love of motorcycling
Cycle Torque’s print magazine is available from SUPER H hundreds of bike LAUNC shops across Australia every second month.
That’s right, for 18 years we’ve been punching out the motorcycle news, reviews and opinion, month-in and month-out.
Despite producing a print paper, digital magazine, website and TV show, the media landscape has changed enormously in the last few years and the motorcycle industry is no longer buying enough advertising to support Cycle Torque. Like the large publishing companies we’ve seen many smaller advertisers shift to promoting online. We’ve seen the splintering of advertisers to websites, Facebook, forums and Google. Our media is consumed by more than ever - 6 million views on Youtube, more readers than ever of the magazine if you add the digital to the print… but digital advertising is so cheap we’re unable to make a profit from it all. So we’re asking for your help - a small contribution each month to help fund the running of the business that is Cycle Torque. As a patron of Cycle Torque we will be seeking your feedback on what aspect of motorcycling you want to see - bike tests, news, ‘how-to’ articles, event coverage, race reports, product features, interviews, touring stories - we want to know what you’d like to see. Our patrons will drive what we produce, too. Maybe you’d like to see the print magazine go back to monthly - our that we should bring the podcasts back, one victim of not being able to attract advertisers when we tried that a few years back. We are working on what exclusive content and extras we can produce for patrons might be.
Harleyon Davids Road King
aki Kawas Z900
of Returned the Z
ve Long Li Eight keeMilwau
Download the PDF, read it online or get it on your iPhone or iPad via the App for an awesome bike magazine reading experience. With over 6 million views and hundreds of videos, Cycle Torque is one of the most popular Australian motorcycle Youtube sites.
But that’s in the future. If you like Cycle Torque and would like to see it continue, I urge you to go to www.patreon.com/ cycletorque and sign-up for a small monthly contribution. – Nigel Paterson Founder & owner
The Australian motorcycle media has been hit hard in recent years. We’ve seen the demise of Rapid Bikes, Free Wheeling, Australian Cruiser & Trike, TrailZone and TransMoto magazines. Even our free-to-air TV broadcaster, 4ME, went broke! Please support Cycle Torque.
ME GIVETU RE! ADVENKTM’S
I’d like to thank you for reading this - without our readers (and video viewers) Cycle Torque wouldn’t have last 18 weeks, let alone 18 years.
And now we’re asking for your help, because without it Cycle Torque might not be around in another 18 weeks, let alone 18 years.
The Cycle Torque website, www.cycletorque.com.au gets tens of thousands of views every month - you’ll find all our articles, news and lots more there.
Keep up with Cycle Torque via Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and now Patreon. cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 25
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO RIDE SAFE. If your life has been affected by something that has happened on the road, call us. Maurice Blackburn is Australia’s number one law firm for motorcyclists. We’ve helped thousands of riders and we’ll fight to get you everything you’re entitled to. Because we believe you’re worth fighting for.
1800 810 812
What don’t you want? I watched a movie called Hell or High Water a few days ago, and a little passage in the film has stuck with me. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, Hell or High Water is a story about two brothers, who ironically, rob a chain of Texas Midlands banks. The brothers owe money to Texas Midlands and in the following days, come hell or high water, it’s going to foreclose on their family’s ranch. So they’re on a mission to pay the bank back (with its own money). Set in and around the state of Texas, the townsfolk feel contempt for Texas Midlands. They look like they’ve been hit hard by the GFC. And the bank? Well it’s been robbin’ them for years, as they say.
its heritage, but it’s come at a price, with Polaris stablemate Victory ceasing production earlier this year. With Australia its biggest export market, was the abundance of choice a liquid nail in Victory’s coffin? We’re now seeing them being bought, literally, like never before. They’re being heavily discounted as part of the closure. Some people may be buying them in the hope it becomes collectible, but I think most are taking up an offer too good to be refused. Nothing wrong with that. They’re still great bikes. If it comes back to ‘what don’t you want’, it’s understandable people don’t want to pay full-whack for anything.
The waitress, an older woman, asks the pair, “So what don’t you want?”
As for the other manufacturers - the turndown ranges from the small end with KTM (-1.6 per cent), who, like Husky, appear to keep their road bikes simple with a few registrable dual-sports, then there are the Dukes, Super Dukes and Super Adventures. Maybe that’s the key to its relative stability. Don’t want a Super Duke? Then get a Duke or a Super Adventure. Easy.
You see, she’s been working at this diner for 44 years, and nobody ever ordered nothin’ but T-bone steaks and a baked potato.
At the higher end is Aprilia. It needs to increase sales by over half to remain on track, no pun intended.
She said there was one “asshole [sic]”, from New York, who tried to order trout in 1987.
They’re the exception to the rule. While we’ve seen updates to machines, we haven’t seen an influx of new models. It could be due to the change in distributor last year, from John Sample Group to PS Importers. JSG may have had a run-out sale which bumped the numbers before PS took over the whole shebang…
In this one passage two Texas Rangers, played by Jeff Bridges and Gil Bermingham, walk into a diner across the road from the bank they believe the brothers will hit next.
Let’s just say she doesn’t mince her words and she “don’t sell no god-damned trout…”. She makes herself crystal clear: either you don’t want corn on the cob, or you don’t want the green beans… “So what don’t you want?” She asks. The men oblige her request. I think this passage has some relevance to the motorcycle industry in that poor to recovering sales in Australia may be partly due to too much choice. FCAI figures show Husqvarna, Indian and Victory are the only road bike manufacturers whose half-yearly sales have increased compared to the 12-month period before it. Husqvarna’s Australian distribution was up in the air for a little while, with the company settling in nicely since it was taken over by KTM. Husky’s road bike line-up is simple - mostly enduro and supermoto machines. In the Aussie market it’s widely accepted that people giving serious thought towards a Husky dual sport don’t need to spoil themselves for choice. They generally buy a Husqvarna or a KTM. So what don’t you want? Indian is seeing some strength because of
In 2017, it’s fair to say that there’s never been so much choice when it comes to buying a new road bike. The trend has emerged where one platform can produce a number of different variants. Do you want the road bike? The slightly off-road bike? Maybe a modern retro is more your thing? Cruiser? Bobber? Café racer? A learner-approved version? The 800? 1000? What do you want? When there’s too much choice research shows you can give up looking. Barry Schwartz studies the link between economics and psychology, and he reckons when we’re overcome by choice the brain looks for the easiest option, which can be to simply not choose at all. The other thing he points out when there’s too much choice is ‘buyer’s remorse’ or FOMO (fear of missing out): one may be dissatisfied with their choice regardless of if the best decision was made. While Schwartz’s research suggests too much choice will eventually lead to more
dissatisfied owners, it’s impossible not to notice what started out as a branding exercise to take on other markets around the globe, could be part of what’s happening in Oz. In October, Ducati is reintroducing its learner-approved Monster 659 to the Australian market, and while it’s one more bike, FCAI figures show it may be vital to the brand’s customer acquisition. Ducati sales are down 17.4 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the previous period - roughly 150 units over six months. Coincidentally, about 300-odd 659s went to loving homes each year on average the last three years it was available. A spectrum of Scramblers haven’t picked up the slack in Australia yet, nor have the current Monsters.
But… Like I said, it’s one more bike, so I fear rather than stimulate new sales, it may be mostly taken from other areas: either the Scrambler Sixty2, but more likely market competitors like the Yamaha MT-07LA and its variants, Kawasaki’s Z650L and its variants, and Triumph’s Street Triple S. If Schwartz’s research is right and there’s too much choice some people will find the whole thing too hard and choose none altogether, making the pie smaller. The learner market is arguably the biggest arena of contestation in Australia. Manufacturers have to be there. Encouraging new riders with lots of choice is the current solution. How well is it currently working? Also coming in October is the FCAI’s sales figures for the third quarter of the year (January-September). I really look forward to interpreting that data. Hopefully it proves me wrong and we see the market continue to recover. Later on in the month we’ll find out much more from the overseas bike shows, particularly how many new bikes might be coming next year. Triumph has already said it will start making small-capacity motorcycles in the Third World for a ‘world market’, following BMW, Harley-Davidson, KTM, Royal Enfield and others before it. And so it continues. It’s a polarising opinion to hold, because I love everything about new bike news, riding and testing new models. While part of me thinks ‘the more the merrier’ there’s plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. Maybe, just maybe, bike sales in Australia will increase if manufacturers can start drilling down what you don’t want instead. I’d love to know your take on it all. If you think I’m on to something or I’m full of shit, hit that feedback button and let me know your thoughts. – Ryan Grubb cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 27
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
HONDA FIREBLADE CBR1000RR
28 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
Is Honda’s new CBR1000RR the spark that reignites the sportsbike segment? N TEST BY PHILIP JAMES, PHOTOS NIGEL PATERSON
There have been sleepless nights, many sleepless nights… Selling sports bikes in profitable numbers is difficult nowadays. Many of us were concerned Japanese manufacturers were contemplating an unconditional surrender to the Europeans. You couldn’t blame them, as sales of ageing product collapsed in response to the war on speed, adventure bike explosion and middleweights are now 900cc. Yep, I’ve got the big adventure bike, but those sleepless nights are from nightmares about doing track days with a 19-inch front wheel... Fortunately for us; just as the Europeans were getting ready to open the champagne – the Japanese have mounted a serious counter attack. All four manufacturers now offer machines with Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) enhanced electronics. This is good for us mortals, it makes a near 200Hp bike a lot more forgiving. Honda has joined the fight with its new Fireblade. Their approach when bringing the new CBR1000RR to market, was to opt for a major rework of the existing design. This avoids many of the costs and possible flaws of an ‘all-new’ design. Existing strengths are maintained, and weaknesses overcome. Continued >
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CYCLE TORQUE TEST
HONDA FIREBLADE CBR1000RR
Honda has done this before. In 2007 the CBR600RR was updated, with a small amount of weight shaved from most components. The result was a great leap forward in power to weight ratio, and, no exotic materials required. This was so effective, that bike, is still being sold 10 years later.
The winged assault
The new spec sheet brings the MY17 bike back to the fight for Superbike supremacy. The weight 30 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
is down 15 kilos to 196kg (wet) and the power is up 11 horses to 189hp. This is impressive, but also expected in such a long-awaited new model. However, it is the detail; that brings out the devil. Let us look more closely… This time around with the 2017 Fireblade, Honda has taken a three-pronged approach to regain competitiveness. In addition to the diet – and the IMU enhanced engine/chassis electronics package – the engine has had a serious upgrade. There are also SP models, with active suspension (SP1 and 2) and
on its mainstream sportsbike, has a full suite of features. This unfortunately means, it also has a full suite of acronyms... Honda will want you to know about: HSTC, RMSS, TBW, EB, APS, RLC, and IMU (as mentioned earlier). You’ve probably got ABS sorted. However, this stuff is important, and despite the linguistic complexity – it does make life easier for the rider. I’m an ‘Electronics for Dummys’ kind of guy, so I’ll break this electronic intervention down to two basic parameters: Go and Stop.Electronics for ‘Go’ There are five power modes (three are fixed - more detail on that in a moment), nine levels of traction control, and three levels of wheelie control. To simplify all this choice, Honda has locked wheelie control settings to traction control. It’s not individually adjustable; so, more traction control, equals more wheelie control. Just a quick comment on wheelie control in general. As much as we all love a good wheelie, it’s not so great if it happens when you’re on the gas, and cranked over exiting a corner. If the front comes off the ground, brutal head shake can occur, followed by an... ‘ah-oh, I’m on my arse’ moment.Electronics for ‘Stop’ The ABS ‘talks’ to the Inertial Measurement Unit. Therefore, it’s very good at determining what action the ABS should take at various lean angles – as opposed to basic ABS, which just tries to keep the wheels rotating.
forged wheels (SP2 only). All guns blazing then. But, is it enough? There’s a new frame. Not as exciting as more power, but possibly more important for a superbike. At extreme lean angles, even the best suspension struggles to absorb bumps and maintain grip. Carefully engineered frame flex can assist by allowing the tyre to deflect over imperfections maintaining tyre edge grip. The new electronic package, the first for Honda
This ability to discuss the braking situation with the IMU, also means Rear Wheel Lift Control (RLC) has been included. Keeping the back wheel on the ground during extreme braking is a nice bit of insurance. In any braking situation not involving A grade riders and a race track, having the back wheel come off the ground usually means the back wheel will try and overtake the front. That never ends up well either. The electronics also gives you programable engine braking (EB). If you chose minimal engine braking, then the bike will maintain its composure on corner entry, and the transition back to the throttle is much smoother (as the throttle butterflies are already opened a tiny bit, the usual “jump” as they come off the stop is eliminated). Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 31
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
HONDA FIREBLADE CBR1000RR
As all the ‘stop’ acronyms join, and work as a team – the rider can smoothly decelerate and tip-in to the corner like a pro, every time. Fabulous!Putting it together All this adjustment in the electronics package could be a bit challenging for those who just want to get on and ride. Honda has addressed this by offering five modes (three are pre-set). These can be changed on the move. Hoorah... The three pre-set modes are: Mode 1 (track) with Full power; Mode 2 (winding road) has power reduction in gears 1 to 3; and finally, Mode 3 (street/wet) with power reduction in gears 1 to 4. Traction control and engine braking are interlocked with these modes, and intervention is increased as you move from track to street modes.
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There are a further two modes that can be tailored to individual needs. This allows precise set-up for those who want it. A great feature, often not included on the competition. Continued > 32 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
SPECIFICATIONS: HONDA CBR1000RR FIREBLADE ENGINE: Liquid-cooled inline-four CAPACITY: 999cc TRANSMISSION: Six-speed gearbox with slip and assist clutch DRIVE TYPE: Chain drive FUEL CAPACITY: 16L FRAME TYPE: Twin spar aluminium SEAT HEIGHT: 820mm WEIGHT: 196kg Wet FRONT SUSPENSION: 43mm Showa Big Piston fork, upside down, preload, rebound and compression adjustment REAR SUSPENSION: Unit Pro-Link, Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion, 10-step preload, stepless compression and rebound adjustment BRAKES: F: 320mm dual hydraulic disc with four-piston caliper, ABS, sintered metal pads. R: 220mm hydraulic disc with single-piston caliper, ABS, sintered metal pads TYRES: F: 120/70-17, R: 190/50-17 PRICE: $22,499 plus on-roads
Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 33
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HONDA FIREBLADE CBR1000RR
Now for the motorbike part. A road rider’s perspective.
This report is from a road riding perspective as opposed to a track test. However, I can tell you from my road impression that it has more track capability than most riders have talent (myself included). If serious track speed is your only concern, you can purchase with confidence. However, if a numberplate is to be attached; most readers need more. So, what is the real world trade-off for access to all that performance? One thing this class of bike must have, is the engine for the job. The previous model ticked the box, but 34 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
the engine could have been produced by Toyota. It was adequate in (superbike terms), and it never gave any trouble. Adequate still means it would rip your bloody arms out. MY17 brings another 11 ponies to the table. This extra power has been won by the time-honoured approach of higher compression and engine rpm. The transmission can be a bit clunky at low engine speed, especially when cold. The test bike had very low kilometres on it, and that wouldn’t help. It’s a different story once you escape the urban area. At speeds above 60Km/h it transforms into one of the best gearbox/clutch combinations I have experienced. The action is light, the throw short,
and the slipper clutch makes downshifting a joy (especially when minimum engine braking has been selected). The accessory Quickshift up/down option will take it to the top level, but for street only riding, it’s not ‘really’ required, but I’d get it anyway, just because…
This model has the ‘poverty pack’ suspension, active suspension is available on the higher spec SP models. That doesn’t mean it’s not good. If you are riding around in circles (like... on a track) carefully dialled, quality suspension doesn’t give away too much to active suspension, and it’s generally lighter. By fitting Showa Big Piston forks (43mm) and a Balance Free rear shock; Honda is on the same playing field as its Oriental competition. As I’m 65 Kg, fine tuning suspension settings is mandatory and the Fireblade was no different. I look for responsiveness to setting changes. Having trick adjusters is all very well, but it’s better if something happens when adjustments are made. Happily, I can report this is the case. The OEM setting is too firm for Australian B roads. As a base track setting, it’s
probably close to the money. I wound the damping adjusters back to minimum. This allows the wheels to move more quickly over road deformations. The ride becomes less harsh and more compliant. There was no wallowing on these settings, and good wheel control. For road riding, I’d recommend owners start here and increase damping if required.
Ergonomically, it sits at the low end on the sportsbike ‘punishment’ scale. The bars are as high as they can be, before its race bike functionality would be compromised. A good mix of comfort and road feel is on offer from the seat. The knee angle is about as open as you’re going to get on a superbike and the diminutive fairing works way better than you’d think. However, Honda could really improve this by adding height-adjustable ‘pegs. The TFT screen dash is superb. All the info you want, with some flexibility in configuration. Even in full sun; my dinosaur eyes can read it. The tacho isn’t as easy to see with your peripheral vision as some of its competitors. For road use it’s fine.
Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 35
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
The Ride Experience
HONDA FIREBLADE CBR1000RR
All the elements Honda has improved work well together. The set-up I liked was Mode 1 (maximum power and minimum engine braking) and suspension damping at minimum. This gave smooth on/off power transitions with maximum grip on the less than perfect Putty Road. If it were mine, I’d do a user map with Mode 2 power (which cuts some high RPM power in the lower gears) and minimum engine
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braking. On twisty roads, you’ll never use full power, and if you insist, it will get you into trouble. This year, the engine is in another league. It’s still a bit Toyota-ish – very smooth and bulletproof, but now there’s some serious mumbo included as well. How much? In Mode 1 (full power); pin it in third, and it will lift the front wheel a metre of the ground, and hold it there till the redline. This will impress your mates, guaranteed. It’s good to see Wheelie Control doesn’t disable your inner hoon either.
In summary, it is a four-cylinder engine so revs are required to keep it on song. Below eight thousand you’ll have to struggle along with about the same amount of grunt as a good V8. Above eight thousand, well... you won’t be looking at anybody’s tail lights… I did unintentionally explore the traction control (Selectable Torque Control in Honda-speak) and it worked beautifully. There was a high-speed sweeper, which was taken at a high-ish lean angle. When power was applied, some nicely controlled over steer resulted. This sort of stuff is outside my talent envelope, so the electronic nanny works very well. Incidentally, there were skid marks - sadly, they weren’t on the road. The brake package is excellent. Great power, without savage initial bite. All the open class sport bikes have fantastic brakes, but I don’t think any would be better than the Hondas. The bike’s compact fairing, reduced and centralised weight gives it a feel and agility that is almost 600 supersport-like. It will change direction as quickly as
you can move your weight. You don’t feel it dragging behind, resisting your inputs. For urban riding, it’s not as bad ergonomically as you’d think. While it’s certainly not comfortable, no genuine sportsbike truly is, it is tolerable for short stints. It comes with the territory. If you are fit and have a light helmet, the distance to the pain point will be longer. Back pack commuting is achievable - if you can resist the call of the throttle. If you can’t, you’ll soon be catching buses. I believe this bike nails its design brief. It’s not perfect and a longer period with it may reveal some annoyances that aren’t immediately apparent. The flaws it does have are not deal breakers. For instance, the mirrors aren’t great, but if that’s at the top of your priority list, there’s something wrong. The pipe at idle won’t impress many people either. A few other positive things I noticed: Right angle valves are fitted (thank you so much Mr Honda); the tank has knee grip pads (a really, nice touch); removing the mirrors and tail piece for track days looks to be an easy, 10 minute job. Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 37
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
HONDA FIREBLADE CBR1000RR
Where does the Fireblade sit in the sportsbike world? As it comes from the largest manufacturer: it is an important bike. To be successful it needs to be achieve two things. It needs to be fast, and it is; but more importantly, it needs to sell. This is true of every sportsbike. The whole category is at risk of being uneconomic for manufacturers. We don’t need another Commodore/Falcon situation where good, affordable product just didn’t sell. The Fireblade will be a competitive superbike on the track. It also works in the real world as well as a superbike can. It doesn’t have an extreme riding position, unpredictable power delivery or harsh suspension. It’s a bike with a ‘feel good’ factor at street speeds; as opposed to the ‘when will it end’ feel of some sports bikes. It works as a back-road sports bike; track bike; short distance urban bike; and... coffee shop show piece. Pretty versatile really, almost cuddly... Bikes like this just may reinvigorate the sports bike sector, and if you’re a racer or fan, this is good news indeed. n 38 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
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CYCLE TORQUE TEST
TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER
Cruel Intentions Triumph’s Bobber may not be the best new bike to come out of Hinckley in 2017, not that you’ll care…
40 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
N TESTED BY RYAN GRUBB, PHOTOS NIGEL PATERSON RYAN WEARS SHARK HELMET, SEGURA JACKET, FIVE GLOVES, DRAGGIN JEANS AND FALCO SNEAKERS
Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 41
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER
The feeling of irony is hard to ignore when you could argue that Triumph’s Bonneville Bobber is one of the most innovative machine released in 2017…
can see yourself riding, whether you currently ride a 250cc commuter, an enduro/dual sport machine or a sportsbike. It inspires the inner James Dean we all (think we) have inside us, to come out and play.
Genuine factory custom?
First, the style
Triumph describes the Bobber as a ‘genuine factory custom’ (which is ironic enough), because that’s what the company believes lots of people want nowadays. Fact is we’re yet to see a modern classic machine consistently sell more units than the traditional-looking counterpart it’s based on. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible…
Laced wheels, a classic tank, fork gaiters, the engine finning and the tractor-style saddle make the Bobber really stand out from other machines available today - it’s very unusual and for a derivative machine it’s heavily based on other Bonnevilles. The bike is physically quite small and low, so the 18-inch front wheel looks taller and the simple colour schemes are timeless.
With all that said, there’s no denying the coolness of a bike like the Bobber. It’s the type of bike you
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There is Bonneville history here, re-interpreted.
Crossing over Back to innovation… We’re yet to see the sportsbike – historically revered as the pinnacle of motorcycle design – recover from the Global Financial Crisis. The everyday standard of motorcycle has become so good the need to buy a rocketship has become all but pointless. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying… I think we find ourselves in this weird crossover period, and the Bonneville Bobber is a good example of that. In this period we’re not really thinking new, we’re re-imagining the old instead, bringing it to life with what we currently know, and seeing if something better comes from it. Take a look at the Bobber’s chassis, it’s been built
to emulate bob-jobs which came out of American hot rod culture. Appearing to be a hardtail, bobbers generally feature a shortened rear fender mounted to the swingarm, and the natural line of the bike draws your eye up from the rear axle to the tank. If it’s not needed, you won’t find it on a bobber…
Making it work There was a lot about the bobber that worked back in the day. They were made cheaply from old wrecks and they were built with the soul purpose of winning traffic-light GPs. This still works for custom bike builders and sadists, but the lack of a rear shock obviously doesn’t work for regular folk like you and me. Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 43
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER
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Continued > 44 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER ENGINE: Liquid-cooled parallel-twin CAPACITY: 1200cc TRANSMISSION: Six-speed DRIVE TYPE: Chain drive FUEL CAPACITY: 9.1L FRAME TYPE: Tubular steel cradle SEAT HEIGHT: 690mm WEIGHT: 228kg Dry FRONT SUSPENSION: 41mm KYB forks REAR SUSPENSION: KYB monoshock BRAKES: F: 310mm single disc with Nissin twopiston floating caliper, ABS. R: 255mm single disc with Nissin single-piston floating claiper, ABS TYRES: 100/90-19, 150/80-16 PRICE: $19,790 Ride-away
Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 45
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
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TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER
Triumph has had to come up with creative solutions designing the bike. Thankfully there is a rear monoshock, but it’s hidden albeit not completely. This would have taken Triumph engineers plenty of time to figure out and get right. Half of the rear section frame, the half which normally mounts the Bonneville’s twin rear shocks, is missing. You could only imagine their toolbox talk! Other points of note are the bespoke aluminium adjustable rear seat and rear-wheel-hugging fender. The rest of it you’d say is simple enough, and that’s to make things look traditional. The single instrument cluster is a mix of analogue and digital, there are spoked steel wheels, side-mounted ignition and a single disc up-front. What else do you need? The other part is making sure it’s still capable of winning one or two of those stoplight GPs… So Triumph has thrown the bigger T120 Bonneville donk into the Bobber whilst giving the engine a torquebiassed tune.
Modern grunt The engine is a liquid cooled jobbie with an electronic fuel injection system styled to look like AMAL carbs. Modern bobber thinking (if it’s not needed, get rid of it) goes out the window at this point, but as a whole it looks right, so it works. A modern electronics package means it’s not too much trouble to add rider modes (Road and Rain modes), and we also get a simple suite of electronics like a ride-by-wire throttle, switchable traction control and ABS (both on/off) on this very retro machine. What you won’t see are things like an up/down quickshifter and six-axis inertial measurement unit, so it doesn’t have the level of electronics we see being given to sportsbikes nowadays. It doesn’t need them. Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 47
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER
How does it ride? Apart from the style, the engine and steering geometry are Triumph’s biggest real-world assets with the Bonneville Bobber. Thankfully Triumph chose to beef up the T120 with stump-pulling torque. Twist your wrist and you’ll find lots of gusto. It’s seductive, like that woman at the bar who’ll continually remind you where her eyes are… The front end is confidence inspiring, a conservative steering angle and 18-inch front wheel provides
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enough of that ‘cruiser’ feeling without the vagueness that can sometimes plague bikes built to go straight. A longer wheelbase provides lots of stability too. While it’s certainly no twisty eater, you’ll enjoy manhandling the wide ‘bars once you get a feel for the Bobber’s sure-footedness. While engine is so good you’ll want to ride it fast, the steering is so good you’ll want to ride it fast everywhere. But if you continually ride it fast you’ll start running into a few problems. The biggest one in my books is how it stops. Triumph has kept things very authentic by opting for a single disc and two-piston caliper at the front.
While it carries the bike’s aesthetic, it’s quite spongy and requires more effort than it should to pull the bike up. It would have been nice to see more stopping power provided: by either a twin disc front end use on the T120 Bonnie, or a single four-piston caliper at the very least. The same goes for the suspension which is another area where the Bobber can be improved. There’s not much travel, or provisions for adjustment for that matter. This will suit an 70-90kg rider well enough, but if you sit at either end it’ll be a rough ride and can tend to beat you up on rough roads. Lastly, there is cornering clearance, or should I
say, a lack of cornering clearance. It steers so well you’ll want more of it! Punt the Bobber through your favourite set of bends and the pegs will scrape without lots of effort, without going near the edge of the rear tyre. This is the toughest problem to solve and I think Triumph’s engineers were always going to be up against it when designing a very low and long bike that also happens to perform well. Riders could possibly get more out of it with smaller aftermarket pegs, but it won’t make a tremendous difference. After that you’d probably think I wasn’t a fan of the bike at all, but I was. Once I pushed the Bobber to its boundaries, I rode with a bit of throttle, brakes and cornering up my sleeve and was surprised to Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 49
CYCLE TORQUE TEST
TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BOBBER
find that I still had fun. While I understand there are better bikes out there, when I’m on the Bobber, I don’t really care. Neither will its buyers…
Like it or love it After a few weeks with the Bobber on a mix of city streets and winding roads I reckon it’s a bike that everyone can appreciate but only a few could really love. And that’s totally fine. What the Bobber will do however, is get you off your arse and into the showroom through sheer desire alone. If you like the look of it, you just have to ride one and experience it for yourself. Triumph deserves praise because they haven’t just built the Bobber on the cheap. It’s well thought out, very well executed and for the most part, it works. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, building the Bobber may well be a win, win for Triumph. For everyone who buys one, there’ll be many more walk into the showroom with the same intention, and possibly end up bringing another Bonnie home instead. n
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CYCLE TORQUE FEATURE
The Black Art Phil has fitted a fullyadjustable Wilburs rear shock (roughly $10001200) to his full-powered Versys 650 and the difference itâ€™s made is incredible!
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The road to suspension perfection starts out much easier than you think. N BY PHILIP JAMES
Have you ever noticed how some bikes have fluffy poodle suspension, and others have twitchy greyhound set-ups? If you haven’t, you probably think tyres are black round things that annoyingly, have to be replaced to pass rego. I can say that without fear of retort, because if that’s you; you would have stopped reading by now. It’s always intrigued me how motorcycle suspension can look so simple, yet be so fiendishly difficult to get working well in all conditions. This is the Holy Grail of suspension tuning, and as it turns out, is never achieved. That’s why the word ‘compromise’ gets used a lot. Since perfection will always be illusive, what can you do? Quite a bit as it turns out, some of it inexpensive, some of it... well let’s just say gold plating never comes cheap. Most suspension articles tend to get very technical. I’m not going to do that, as I’m not a suspension Guru. Luckily, I know one or two. Suspension is a huge field, and there have literally... been books written about it. If you really want to get into it, you’ll need to read some of these and your brain is going to get sore. I’m going to take a different tack and consider what suspension is trying to do, and go from there. If you understand what you’re trying to achieve, you should be able to evaluate if changes are moving you in the right direction.
Ok, let’s get to it... Your shocks are primarily trying to achieve chassis stability in a wide range of circumstances. Two things need to happen for this. First, and by far
the most important, is to keep the tyre tracking the road surface. Things turn to poo very quickly if suspension can’t manage this. The second thing is a little tricker to understand, that being maintenance of constant ride height. It’s a bit different for racers which I won’t get into, but the principle is the same. Why is this so important? To explain this, I briefly have to shift into ‘James May’ mode, sorry. Consider the front forks. These are set at a very specific angle in relation to the road. This angle determines the rate of turn for any given steering input to the handle bars. Cruisers have a shallow rake (steering angle) and turn slowly, dirt bikes have very steep rake and turn quickly. Even very small changes to this angle will noticeably affect how fast the bike turns. Fork angle will also change as the motorcycle chassis pitches back forth in response to braking and throttle inputs - as the suspension compresses and extends. The situation is further aggravated as bumps also compress and extend the suspension. As you ride through a bumpy corner, all of this movement results in a lot of small changes to the fork angle; and consequently, small changes to your rate of turn. It can be like having half a dozen invisible gremlins wrestling with you to control the bars. The bike will feel very nervous and not hold its line. Correctly set up suspension reduces this... a lot. It does so by allowing the bike to recover its nominal ride height as optimally as possible. Obviously road conditions play a part in whether this needs to be slow, or quick. Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 53
CYCLE TORQUE FEATURE
The Öhlins TTX RX is a top of the line unit for road riders, but there are many inexpensive options which may suit your needs. Talk to your mechanic or suspension guru who’ll provide lots of help.
Shock performance is particularly critical. As ride height stability is hugely improved with a good shock, both the back and front suspension feel is enhanced. It’s one of the best upgrades you can do to any bike. Before we move on, there’s a common misconception about suspension that I think is important to look at. Many think fast riding requires hard suspension. True enough on a closed circuit, totally wrong for street riding. Track suspension set-up is a very precise affair, for a sprint involving 14 or so relatively smooth corners. Street set-up is more general in nature, as all types of corners and surfaces have to be dealt with. Keeping tyres planted on the road is paramount, a hard track set up is a barrier to this (take note riders of all coloured sportsbikes). The key is keep it as soft as you can. Assuming correct springs are fitted, damping is set low, to allow fast wheel movement over bumps. How soft? well I go full soft as a starting point. This usually means the suspension wallows because of insufficient damping. The suspension is overshooting its normal ride height on return from a deflection. From there I start to firm things up gradually, till the wallowing goes away in most situations. A bit of wallowing is okay; this approach gives a compliant ride, with maximum grip. The compromise is comfortable. 54 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
The path to Enlightenment. Now that you’ve read the four paragraphs above, and therefore completed your basic suspension Guru competency, it’s time for an action plan. This can be simple and cheap, or complex and expensive. I’d recommend the basic action plan below to all. How far you want to go after that, will be limited by your ability to withstand wallet pain. Where to start? It’s important to have spring preload set for the correct suspension sag. Sag is the amount of spring compression that occurs to support the weight of the bike, and then the rider. I could bang on for ages about this, but I think watching a YouTube video would be better. Search “setting motorcycle sag”. Once you’re on top of that, changing fork (and possibly shock) oil will make a big difference. Why? Manufacturers are partial to saving a buck and using slightly lower quality oil over the course of the thousands of motorcycles coming off the assembly line is an easy way to do this. Most riders can’t tell the difference and/or don’t care. However, good suspension oil has some very specific qualities that OEM may not. These being: viscosity stability, antifoaming capability and slipperiness. The aim of good suspension oil is to provide damping stability over a wide range of conditions, with minimum internal friction. It does make a difference.The sweet spot?
This Showa Balance Free fork is a good illustration of what goes on inside your forks. It’s simple… When the bike travels over an uneven surface, an amount of oil inside gets pushed through valves to provide resistance. The more uneven a surface, more oil needs to be pushed through the valve.
A smaller valve (more compression and rebound) provides lots of resistance resulting in slower damping (good for smoother roads or racing), while larger valving (less compression and rebound) lets more oil flow and the suspension reacts faster.
The next stage along the enlightenment path is the component upgrade. Usually a shock. I’d recommend not overcapitalising here. There’s not a lot of point putting $4,000 worth of suspension into $6,000 motorcycle (unless you really want to). Most manufacturers do entry-level shocks sprung and valved to suit a rider’s weight. Prices range from $800 to $1200. Combined with quality oil and correct spring preload in the forks, this set-up will come close enough in performance to the premium offerings. As a bonus, when the time comes to move on, you can possibly keep the shock for your next bike or sell it separately, and usually get back 40 per cent of what you paid for it! Bang for your buck, this approach is the top of the bell curve. Gold platting? If you really want to go for it, there are some pretty tasty options. Several European manufacturers make some beautifully engineered parts; offering state of the art performance and lightest possible weight. I’m talking suspension porn here. However,
even in this rarefied atmosphere, there are budget choices. For example: manufacturers often make fork inserts (replacing the internals, but keeping the outside shell), as well as complete fork assemblies. The inserts offer 95% of the performance, for half the price. That’s hard to go past. Shocks get lighter, perform better, have more adjustment, and features as the price climbs. If you’re at this level, you probably have your own suspension Guru, and ideally, a lot of personal knowledge means you’re starting to become one. Keep in mind that from here, getting closer to optimum performance requires serious knowledge from someone.Who can help? Any good bike mechanic should be able to improve your suspension’s performance. However, when it comes to suspension, expectations need to be managed. Like so many things in life, you can’t have champagne with a beer budget. Continued > cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 55
CYCLE TORQUE FEATURE
It is possible have a better beer. Your mechanic should be able to help you access it. The next step is a suspension specialist. They will be able to get you to the next level, but remember they will act on the information you give them about your needs, the type of riding you do, and your riding abilities. If you give them crap information, you will get a crap result. There we have it, you’ve entered the world of continual compromise that is suspension. Did I mention, once you’ve travelled the path to suspension enlightenment, and owned a bike with quality boingers, you can never turn back.
Taking it further Finally, if you want to do further study towards your Suspension Guru Degree. You will need to look at these subjects: Effect of fork rake and trail; Fork tube positioning in triple clamps; oil height in forks; effect of changing shock absorber length; effect of rear sprocket size; position of rear axle; angle of the swingarm; shim stack alteration; high and low speed compression adjustment; suspension fault analysis (indicated by tyre wear); choosing between soft springs with lots of preload, and hard springs with minimal preload; and so on… Remember what I said about a books and a sore brain… n
The high-spec Matris Dampers spring unit on Phil’s other bike, a Yamaha TMAX!
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Which is more important... springs or damping? If you answered damping, you would be wrong. If spring strength is incorrect, suspension loads can’t be absorbed, and the chassis will rise and fall excessively. No amount of fiddling with damping will make it right. FYI: race bike set-up is mostly spring choice and preload, with a little bit of damping to fine tune the set up. The good news is: for riders between 80 and 100kg, OEM springs are usually in the ballpark. Short guys like me (could happily buy Dani Pedrosa’s old leathers) or big boppers will require a different set of springs. Three things to remember 1. Think about suspension as the constant maintenance of ride height. 2. Correctly setting spring preload is paramount and the first place to start. 3. Preload and compression damping controls rate/speed of return to your ride height, not the amount.
This set-up uses a remote oil reservoir.
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Scott’s 2018 MX apparel
Scott’s 350 apparel range is designed for comfort, style and durability. The material is lightweight and breathable with minimum bulk and maximum mobility. Stretch and vent panels will keep you cool and protected without restricting movement. The fit is articulated to fit the rider in the attack position, and 900-D nylon inner lining is used on knee leather so you can ride with out knee braces. There’s two styles, Race and Dirt, and plenty of colours depending on how loud you want to look. Pant sizes: 28-38 (up to 42 Dirt black/white); Price $139.95 Jersey sizes: SM-2XL (up to 3XL Dirt black/white); Price $49.95 Available from all good bike shops.
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This range is completely new, the pants feature strategically placed ventilation panels with abrasion-resistant nylon. There’s adjustable Velcro waist tabs and a half-length inner mesh liner. The 450 jersey is well ventilated and lightweight. With an athletic fit, theres silicon in the right areas to prevent slippage, large vented side-panels, a lycra collar and taped cuffs. There’s two styles - Patchwork and Angled, Scott reckons they both look better covered in dirt! Again there’s two styles and lots of cool colours Pant sizes: 28-38; Price $199.95 Jersey sizes: SM-2XL; Price $59.95 Available from good bike shops in Australia.
The new range of SCOTT 450 MX gloves are a high end model, featuring silicone tacky lever grip for greater control and a single layer synthetic palm for exceptional feel. Articulated for comfort and ease of use, with a one–piece closure at the base of the wrist and moulded breathable neoprene cuff, the 450’s allow maximum airflow and mobility for when things heat up. Sizes: S-XXL Price: $44.95 Available in your favourite bike shop. cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 59
CYCLE TORQUE BIKE STUFF
To celebrate the National Ride your Motorcycle To Work Week, October 8-15, we thought we’d show off some of the latest riding gear to inspire you to take part. We’ve decided to look at the smart/casual worker, because they’re more likely to be someone who wants to ride to work, but can’t because their rider dress sense won’t fit in at work. Not anymore…
Your bike… Oxford’s 45th anniversary edition Oximiser A common problem for riders in October is finding that their battery isn’t in the best shape, particularly if the bike’s been sitting in the garage for up to six months. Oxford has released a special edition of its ever-popular battery charger to celebrate the company’s 45th year. The Oximiser 888 six stage battery management system checks polarity, assesses and determines the best charging method, choosing to either bulk charge (85 per cent) or absorption charge (100 per cent) your battery, whilst checking the voltage every hour. You can also use the Oximiser to apply an appropriate charge to ensure overall battery health. Price $109.95 Get them from: All good motorcycle stores More info: ficeda.com.au 60 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
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CYCLE TORQUE BIKE STUFF
Rev’It does denim! Rev’It’s Philly 2 is a loose-fit, motorcycleready jean. It’s made from Cordura denim and comes with CE-approved hip and knee protectors. With stretchy fabric, safety stitching, moisture wicking and zipper-fly you’ll want to wear your Philly 2s everywhere. Sizes: STD 30-38x34; SHORT 30-38x32 Price: $299 Get them from: Rev’It Australia More info: revitaustralia.com.au; or 1300-924-412
Price $299 Get them from: Rev’It Australia More info: revitaustralia.com.au; or 1300-924-412
Complete the Canadian tuxedo with Rev’It’s Tracer overshirt. The Tracer passes as a stylish dress shirt, yet is entirely up to spec with the protection you’d expect from a motorcycle garment. For extra abrasion resistance, in-house developed shielding is added to critical impact zones at the elbows, while extremely thin CE-rated protectors won’t cramp your style. Reflective strips at the back elbow helps you stand out in traffic and if you want more protection you can also add one of Rev’It’s back protectors. Available in sizes S-XL.
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CYCLE TORQUE BIKE STUFF
Rainwear The other thing you need to consider if you’re committing to ride to work is rainwear. There’s nothing worse than getting drenched before starting a shift! Actually, there’s nothing worse than getting drenched full-stop! Check out Nelson-Riggs’ Stormrider rainwear, now available in a two-piece set or as individual pieces. Important features include polyester and pvc construction, full-length zippers with storm flaps, cooling vents, comfy corduroy inner-collar, elasticised waist, cuffs and the pants feature oversized gussets for easy boot entry. Available in black or high-vis with reflective striping.
Price: Combo - $89.95 RRP; jacket - $59.95 RRP; pants - $39.95 RRP. Get them from your favourite bike shop. More info: linkint.com.au
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CYCLE TORQUE BIKE STUFF
Rev’It in the rain too! It’s a good idea to take Rev’It’s ACID H2O rain trousers anywhere you’re going, just in case you suddenly find yourself in a downpour. They are easy to slip on, even over textile or leather trousers, thanks to the newly developed, non-stick, PVC-free coating on the inside. Laminated reflection panels at the lower leg ensure great visibility, and the trousers are extremely lightweight, making them easy to stow under your seat (in their complimentary bag). You can pick them up from Rev’It Australia for $55. The Cyclone 2 H2O could be the difference between riding to work all week and chickening out altogether. It’s an ultra-lightweight rain jacket which quickly fits over any riding jacket without being excessively baggy thanks to its adjustment features, the compact profile allows it to fold neatly into its own carrying package for transportation, and the reflective prints make sure you are visible even in the most adverse conditions. Available in Black or Black Neon, the Cyclone 2 retails at $89
Get them from: Rev’It Australia More info: revitaustralia.com.au; or 1300-924-412 cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 67
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1. Classic Bike Dreaming
IT’S fourth time lucky for Newcastle author Peter J Uren with his latest tome, Classic Bike Dreaming, yet more stories of an old motorcycle mechanic. It follows in the footsteps of his first three books The Old Mechanic, Dominator in the Shadows and the Classic Bike Workshop. For a new author Peter is certainly making his mark in the publishing world. His latest story follows the plot already developed in the first three books and as each book came out you could see the evolution of Peter’s writing style as he sought to further develop his characters and focus more on building them and their inter-relationships. Be prepared for a bit more of an emotional ride with his latest work as Peter introduces a new, if far more complex character, tangled in a few more social issues. The new character is an Aboriginal of the Kamilaroi mob who is trying to live between two cultures. Peter’s knowledge of the issues involved comes from personal connections who have first hand experience and he has captured the essence of the struggles and issues that are confronted. He has woven a rich story not only about his new character but the impact that this newcomer’s arrival has on the classic bike workshop we’ve come to know. Peter joined Stroud Writers in July 2012 and by September the following year he had written and published his first book. He says that this one is likely to be the last in the series. Price $19.50 plus postage each, or all four for $69.90
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The 30,000 km motorbike ride from London to Magadan, on the edge of Russia, has been described as one of the most challenging rides in the world. For four long months a group of adventure riders from around the world travelled across a quarter of the Earth’s surface, pushing themselves and their bikes to the limit.
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Many books have been published about Italian motorcycles, but none has focused exclusively on the Italian motorcycle-based chopper, bobber, trike, and quad custom bike scene – until now.
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I was Top Gear’s script editor for 13 years and all 22 series. I basically used to check spelling and think of stupid gags about The Stig. I also got to hang around with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. Then I realised that I had quite a few stories to tell from behind the scenes on the show. I remembered whose daft idea it was to get a dog. I recalled the willfully stupid way in which we decorated our horrible office. I had a sudden flashback to the time a Bolivian drug lord threatened to kill us. I decided I should write down some of these stories. So I have. I hope you like them.
5. Eyes Wide Open - Isle of Man – $24.95 37+ miles of pure adrenalin... The ultimate test of man and machine... The world’s most dangerous racetrack... A father and son realise a dream... This is the their story.
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About five years ago Shaun, Andy and I (Jake) started to run out of places to ride. We were sick of riding the same places time and time again so we decided to pay a visit to the Melbourne Map Centre in Chadstone to see if there was a guide book on the subject. Much to our surprise there was nothing to be found. Sure there were heaps of 4WD and Mountain Bike books but, alas, no trail bike books. The guys in the shop were also surprised, as they had had a lot of enquiries from other trail bike riders. This gave us an idea - why not write our own book? And that is exactly what we did!.
7. Along for the ride – $39.95
Jim Scaysbrook has enjoyed a rich and varied life in which motorcycles have always been the common theme. Itching to follow his father’s footsteps, he began racing at the age of 16 and has since competed in virtually every form of competition, including both motocross and road racing at international level. He has competed on the American professional motocross scene, at the infamous Isle of Man TT, and throughout Asia.
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HEL BRAKE PADS - NOW AVAILABLE! RACE AND STREET PADS NOW AVAILABLE! HEL Performance have just released their new line of HEL Performance Brake Pads, which feature two options – the Street Pro pads, which are SPD Sport HH+ compound pads recommended for late model sportsbikes, for road and track day performance. The Track Pro pads are designed specifically for the track to meet & exceed the extreme demands of national and international circuit racing with high friction race compound sintered metal pads!
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The Original Earmold cycletorque.com.au OCTOBER 2017 I 75
cycletorque EDITOR RYAN GRUBB DESIGN & PRODUCTION DIONNE HAGAN email@example.com
ADS, MANAGEMENT NIGEL PATERSON
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Cycle Torque is published by Motorcycle Publishing Pty Ltd. ABN 91 085 871 147 Cycle Torque is available from bike shops across Australia. If you can’t find our latest issue, call 0420 319 335. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, including electronic, without written permission of the publisher. PLEASE CONTACT THE EDITOR BEFORE SUBMITTING FREELANCE CONTRIBUTIONS.
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78 I OCTOBER 2017 cycletorque.com.au
Published on Sep 29, 2017
On the cover of the October issue of Cycle Torque is Honda’s new CBR1000RR Fireblade. The ‘Blade gets a reboot in 2017, it’s lithely, more p...