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2016 HONDA AFRICA TWIN FIRST RIDE

MARCH 2016 CYCLEWORLD.COM

TRIUMPH STREET TWIN

CHARACTERS! 2016 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE AND 6 MORE BIKES TO MOVE YOUR SOUL

 MOTUS MST V4  DUCATI SCRAMBLER URBAN ENDURO  HUSKY 701 SUPERMOTO  INDIAN SCOUT SIXTY  AND MORE!


THEY SAY MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL.

$5 A DAY WILL GET YOU ALL YOU CAN HANDLE. THE LOOK IS PURE DARK AGGRESSION. THE LIQUID-COOLED REVOLUTION X™ ENGINE, NARROW FRAME, NIMBLE HANDLING, CAFÉ-INSPIRED WINDSCREEN AND NEW STOP-ON-A-DIME BRAKES LET YOU CUT THROUGH THE URBAN GRID. THE HARLEY-DAVIDSON STREET® 750. COSTS LESS PER DAY THAN YOUR GREASY PUB BURGER. H-D.COM/STREET750 Financing Offer available only on new Harley-Davidson® motorcycle models financed through Eaglemark Savings Bank (ESB), a Harley-Davidson Financial Services company and is subject to credit approval. Not all applicants will qualify. 5.75% APR offer is available only to high credit tier customers at ESB and only for up to a 60 month term. The APR may vary based on the applicant’s past credit performance and the term of the loan. For example, a 2016 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Vivid Black with an MSRP of $7,549, 10% down payment and amount financed of $6,794.10, 60 month repayment term, and 5.75% APR results in monthly payments of $130.56. In this example, customer is responsible for applicable taxes, title, licensing fees and any other fees or charges at the time of sale. APR is calculated according to the simple interest method. Not valid in conjunction with other offers. Other terms, conditions, and limitations may apply. Dealer participation may vary. Financing offer is subject to change or cancellation at any time. See your local authorized Harley-Davidson dealer for details. ©2015 H-D or its Affiliates. H-D, Harley, Harley-Davidson and the Bar & Shield Logo are among the trademarks of H-D U.S.A., LLC.


26.

HONDA AFRICA TWIN Big Red makes its longawaited return to the adventure-bike market with the Africa Twin V2.0. By Ned Suesse

MARCH 2016

34.

CSC RX3 CYCLONE Talk about your champagne taste on a beer budget… Your friends will never guess your brand-new adventure bike cost less than $4,000. By Mark Lindemann

36.

SARDEGNA RALLY Steve McQueen’s character in Le Mans got it slightly wrong: Rally racing is life. Everything else is just logistics. By Ned Suesse

40.

SPECIAL SECTION: CHARACTERS 2016 Cars move your body. Bikes move your soul. Here are a few of our new favorites: •Triumph Street Twin •Motus MST V4 •Yamaha YZF-R1 •Yamaha SR400 •Husqvarna 701 Supermoto •Ducati Scrambler Urban Enduro •Indian Scout Sixty

IGNITION 10. FIRST RIDE: 2016 DUCATI 959 PANIGALE The new middleweight sportbike paradigm 14. FIRST RIDE: 2016 KTM DUKE 690 Singles have more fun! 18. NEWS: The plight of the modern piston 19. GEAR: Get a grip ON THE COVER: Triumph Street Twin

20. EVALUATION: Icon Airframe Pro Halo Carbon helmet 21. RIDE SMART: Train your young street riders

54.

BIG, BAD WOLF From the folks who gave us the world’s most hated custom bike, a racinginspired Yamaha that’s only slightly less controversial. By Paul d’Orleans

COLUMNS 6. UP FRONT By Mark Hoyer 22. BIKE LIFE By Peter Jones 24. TDC By Kevin Cameron

DEPARTMENTS 8. INTAKE 58. SERVICE 66. SHOWCASE 70. SLIPSTREAM

R A C E WAT C H 60. MOTOGP Undercurrents By Kevin Cameron

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UP FRONT EDITOR’S LET TER

OH, CHARACTER HOW I LOVE THEE—OR SOMETIMES DON’T

I

’ve often thought that bikes with character are those that don’t do what we want them to. Like run all the time. Bikes that stop running too often and don’t give back to us some kind of delicious movement are simply what we might call a “pile.” Piles don’t usually make it on the list but can for the true weirdos among us. No, the bikes that make it into the fabled character column are those that give just enough for the cost they exact. Anguish. Solitude. Frustration. Stasis. Joy! Glory! Freedom! Magnificence! They really make it if we learn the mechanical secrets specific to the marque, the handshake that allows the riding intervals to get longer, as if (we hope) by our own action and knowledge. “No, they’re great bikes. You just have to…” then list almost every part on the bike that just needs a little of this or that to be perfect. Every generation of rider has lamented the passing of character. I’ve discovered this through Cycle World and the Cycle archives. In the early days of CW, you might have read about a belt-drive bike from the teens whose enthusiast owner dismisses bikes of the times—like early ’60s Harley-Davidsons, BSAs, Triumphs, and Nortons—for their seamless operation and lack of involvement. I mean, automatic ignition timing and twistgrip throttle? Bah! A surface carburetor is the only way to truly experience combustion! I’m on strange ground here as a guy who rides/drives vintage British bikes and cars from the ’50s and ’60s and tries to use them as real transportation. Honestly, the cars have always been better than the bikes for avoiding those unplanned stoppages, but as my friend Bill Getty says, “The great engineers in England after the war were hired into aircraft, the good engineers went into automobiles, and the rest went into bikes.” I don’t know if he’s right, but I can’t say he’s wrong. Maybe I need to buy a Super6 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

marine Spitfire or Hawker Hurricane to double-check. Honestly, when I used to smoke, the occasional forced roadside “rest period” was sort of pleasant, a time to reflect and relax, muse about life, and find some small “chemicohabitual” relief and to ponder the beautiful lines of whatever I was riding. I mean, I was a little stressed about maybe not getting where I was going—or perhaps the flash-burn potential of my gasoline-soaked fingers as I sparked my old Ronson Varaflame lighter at the end of that non-filtered Camel. It was always so satisfying to get that cherry-red glow instead of singed eyebrows or blistered eyelids, and contemplating how I’d dodged facial burns always made magneto or carburetor trouble seem so minor by comparison. For the purposes of this issue, we decided that “Character” was this: Motorcycles that move more than your body and machines that connect with our love of motion on two wheels. It can be about high performance, but it’s more about moving well and feeling good than outright numbers. In fact, it’s really about the unquantifiable spirit some motorcycles provide through their combination of sound, feeling, styling, and presence. We still get better performance and technology than ever, but more and more manufacturers are building bikes that really focus on fun and style rather than causing a 0.003 percent better party in the engineering house. Nothing wrong with the latter because last year’s superbikes are why this year’s not-superbikes are so fine. But motorcycling’s growth area is in bikes that simply make us smile. And there are plenty. We had lots of good times with the bikes in this issue. I’m just so damn happy the Yamaha YZF-R1 doesn’t have ignition points.

MARK HOYER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

THIS MONTH̕S STATS

7

“CHARACTERS” BIKES

60 ESTIMATED TRAVEL HOURS TO SOUTH AFRICA TO TEST THE HONDA AFRICA TWIN

250 DISPLACEMENT IN cc OF THE CSC RX3 CYCLONE ADVENTURE BIKE


On the road to help you save. Now that’s Progressive.

Progressive Casualty Ins. Co. & affiliates. Do not attempt.

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101-HP MOTOGP REPLICA?  BONNIE LUST  ANALOG GPS

KICKSTART THE CONVERSATION

Regarding your December cover story on the Honda RC213V-S: $184,000 US spec at 101 hp?! Are you sure this cover story wasn’t meant as an April 1 issue? JOSEPH VASCONCELOS ATTLEBORO, MA Pretty sure a Honda MotoGP bike for the street is no joke. You did read about the 212-hp kitted version, right?

V-4 REAL? Great write-up on the Honda RC213V-S. One big question: If there were only one company that could get an engine to pass emissions with performance, it would be Honda. But 101 hp? This is not an emissions problem. Aprilia squeezed 154 hp out of the same engine format in the same issue. Is Honda being over responsible with this neutering, or is this just a platform to get you to spend money making it fast? I hope that $184,000 price tag included the $12-grand speed kit. MARC GRAESSLE ROHNERT PARK, CA As stated in the technical preview by Kevin Cameron (February 2015), this is the MotoGP racebike made street legal. No design consideration for noise and tailpipe emissions were made, therefore fitting adequate intake and exhaust volume for the engine’s full power potential on the street is not possible. Hence, the $12,000 track-only kit parts.

MISSION EXTRAORDINARILY ACCOMPLISHED Finally, finally, finally! Triumph has fully 8 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

embraced the grace, beauty, and charm of the original Bonneville (December 2015)! As much as I admired Triumph’s efforts to capture the visual excitement of the late ’60s bikes, one element always left me cold: the powerplant. Whereas the original engines were lithe and simple with acres of space surrounding them, the “legacy” engines truly deserved the “lump” designation. With the new engines, though, Triumph has truly achieved its stated design goals of a motorcycle that is “more powerful, more capable, and more beautiful.” Mission extraordinarily accomplished, Triumph! For the first time in decades, I’ve regained my lust for the Bonneville. GARRY D. MOORE CYCLEWORLD.COM

LOST AND FOUND I agree with Peter Jones (December 2015), but I finally broke down and bought a GPS. I bought it mostly to avoid being totally lost in a place I had never been before or if I had a tight schedule. If I know the area, I usually leave the GPS at home. Over 50 years ago, when I first started riding, I learned to navigate with

the sun, and sometimes I still do that. That way you only need to know the general direction you want to go and if it is morning or afternoon. Keep it simple and just enjoy riding the bike. A couple side benefits of GPS are finding that lonely gas station near a remote road when I am getting really low on fuel and having the little red indicator pop up to remind me that the speed limit just changed. CHARLES O’NEAL CYCLEWORLD.COM It is now confirmed, in my mind at least, that Peter Jones is a mind reader. He had to be because his article in the December issue came straight out of my head. After touring 46 states, Canada, and Mexico, with a folded piece of paper covered with marker tracks, I know he got into my head. I don’t even own a GPS and have no intention of ever owning one. My touring, as he mentioned, was not the destination but the trip. The route I take while touring can change depending on time, weather, or just an interestinglooking road. I have been lost many times even with a road map, and have had to ask a local, “Where am I?” I love the way I travel and the experience of seeing new places and meeting new people off the beaten path. BEN W. WRIGHT CYCLEWORLD.COM

LIKES STOPPING FOR GAS Yo, Mark, whining about the gas mileage for the 2015 Tuono? Really? If that’s your priority, Aprilia’s parent company, Piaggio, makes a great scooter with awesome mileage. Geez… NEAL STEIK LYNNWOOD, WA Comments? Suggestions? Criticisms? Write us at intake@cycleworld.com.


KTM DUKE 690  MODERN PISTON STATS  GEAR: GET A GRIP!  ICON AIRFRAME PRO HALO CARBON

THE RIDE STARTS HERE

10 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016


BY THE NUMBERS

 BABY HUEY: Displacement creep in the pursuit of engine performance has transformed the pint-size Panigale into a super-size Duc. At least on the inside!

851

CC: The engine displacement of Ducati’s 1990 World Superbike Championship-winning machine.

15

THOUSAND MILES: Service interval between clearance inspection of the desmodromic valve train.

C W FIRST RIDE

2016 DUCATI 959 PANIGALE Ducking class displacement limits By Don Canet

D

igging through the mental database for the bike that broke the rules-of-capacity convention made me recall the Ninja 636 supersport back in late 2002. It was a bold move at the time, what with “normal” race-derived 600s selling in huge numbers. But rules be damned, Kawi’s supersized 600 delivered street riders the tangible benefits of increased torque without weight penalty or diminished agility. The middleweight world has gone mad since, to the point that we rewrote our Best Middleweight category rules in 2012 to accept bikes up to 899cc, which at the time meant the 848 Streetfighter could win the prize that year. The new Big Mids era has resulted in great bikes like the Yamaha FZ-09 and family of MV Agusta 800 triples, Kawasaki Z800, and more. But Ducati just took a step too far with its new-for-2016 959 Panigale, a stroked version of the 899 it replaces that is now officially—for us anyway—no longer considered a middleweight, big or otherwise. The 90-degree V-twin Superquadro engine of the 959 Panigale shares the same 60.8mm stroke as its 1,299cc big brother to bring displacement to 955cc. The new crankshaft is lighter than the 1299’s and is equipped with all-new connecting rods and a revised piston crown that retains PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF

Ducati

the same 12.5:1 compression ratio of the 899. Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coating applied to the piston pins and desmodromic rocker arms is said to offer reduced friction and increased fatigue strength. The same 62mm-equivalent oval throttle bodies of its predecessor now employ a showerhead primary injector while the secondary injector located downstream of the throttle butterfly comes online above 6,500 rpm. Other changes? The clutch is now a slipper/assist design yielding lighter effort at the lever and providing a much smoother feeling when closing the throttle or during aggressive downshifting. Add to this three-level Engine Brake Control that cracks the ride-by-wire throttles on deceleration to smooth and tune corner-entry feel even more. The 899’s electronic rider-aid suite has been carried over, but parameters have been recalibrated for the 959. Ride mode presets labeled Race, Sport, and Rain offer factory-default settings for the eight-level traction control, three-level Bosch ABS, and EBC. The modes can be toggled on the fly and offer customization of individual parameter levels buried in an options menu only accessible when the bike is stationary. On track, bigger does equate to better in the case of the 959 Panigale, which I learned firsthand riding the Arctic White version ($15,295) at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain. The first order of CYCLE WORLD.COM 11


IGNITION FIRST RIDE

business was to inquire about the thinking behind the displacement creep that sees Ducati’s “middleweight” supersport well in excess of Bologna superbikes of the past. “We combined performance with usability,” Marketing Product Manager Paul Ventura offered. “It started with the 899 and we’ve continued it with the 959. The objective was to make a pure sportbike that someone could use every day and have just as much fun on the street as they do on the track. In short, to achieve what we say is the perfect balance, and in our eyes that’s really what this bike represents—the perfect blend of excitement and control.” Riding on sticky Pirelli Supercorsa SC2 race tires (Rosso Corsa is stock fitment) allowed deeper exploration of the chassis capability. The solitary change here from its 899 predecessor is a 4mm-lower swingarm pivot location (accounting for a 0.2-inch increase in wheelbase) and further optimized rear grip and weight distribution. “Riding on rails” best describes handling at speed. The only hint of headshake I encountered was brought on when hopping the exit curbing leading onto the back straight to take advantage of the generous expanse of extended

tarmac. Even then, the nonadjustable, transverse-mount steering damper kept drama in check. Valencia lacks a truly quick sideto-side transition but does include one right-left combo following its infield hairpin that offered a taste of the 959’s reflex potential. Carrying third gear, the Panigale threaded the ess with relative ease and steadfast aplomb. With a claimed dry weight of 377 pounds and 157 hp (a 6-percent increase in output) on tap, snicking shifts at the 11,300-rpm rev limit up the main straight netted an indicated 163 mph on the all-digital LCD dash with 1,000 rpm in reserve. Braking for turn one (a personal favorite at Valencia) and dropping down to third gear required no rev-matching throttle blips as the slipper clutch/ EBC kept the rear wheel tracking true as I dived down to the apex. As Ventura so aptly states, “It’s not so much a problem as it once was to have a larger-displacement bike because in fact in the end it’s very manageable and controllable.” I wholeheartedly must agree: The definition of the middleweight sportbike has evolved, and we are the better for it. We’re just not sure when displacement creep is going to stop, and we’re not sure we care.

2016 DUCATI 959 PANIGALE E N GIN E T Y P E DOHC 90º V-twin 12 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

DISPL ACE M E NT 955cc

SE AT HE IG HT 32.5 in.

FU EL C APACIT Y 4.5 gal.

CL AIMED WEIGHT 377 lb.

BAS E P RICE $14,995


IGNITION FIRST RIDE

C W FIRST RIDE

2016 KTM 690 DUKE KTM builds a better thumper By Thomas Montano

C 14 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

redit goes to KTM for being one of the first to take on the challenge of creating a modern four-stroke single streetbike, the Austrian dirt bike manufacturer introducing the Duke 620 way back in 1994. Twenty-two years and four different design iterations later comes the 2016 KTM 690 Duke. The previous 690 Duke was the most powerful production single to date, but the new model is stronger still. Two key elements enabled this boost in

performance and smoothness: the application of KTM’s Ride Mode technology along with revamping more than 50 percent of the LC4 motor’s mechanical components. This latest Duke is geared toward maximum performance, but it’s also designed to be userfriendly for beginning riders. To test the new Duke, KTM invited the world’s motorcycling press to the Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa. There we spent a day riding around

the spectacular island of Gran Canaria, which offered fast and slow sections of road as well as a variety of surfaces. Once aboard, the Duke fit my 5-foot-10 frame fine. Controls were easy to reach, and I was able to put my feet flat on the ground. We started off on the highway, which I suspected might be painful, but I was wrong—the single purrs as smoothly as a multi. Throttle response at freeway speeds is precise, and good acceleration is PHOTOS COURTESY OF

KTM


FIRST RIDE IGNITION

available even in top gear. Part of the engine overhaul was to smooth out the torque curve from 4,000 to 7,000 rpm, and the engineers hit the mark. After hammering down the coast road we reached the mountains, and maneuvering on these tight-and-twisty roads is where the Duke shines. The revised chassis offers exceptional control and feel, and power delivery is spot on. Response from the new ride-by-wire throttle (with rider-selectable three power modes) system is smooth and predictable. KTM claims the 690 churns out 73 hp (up 7 percent) and torque is up to 55 pound-feet (a 6-percent increase). KTM put a lot of effort into smoothing out the motor. A new cylinder head with dual-spark ignition and a second balance shaft help boost power and reduce vibration. A new, more oversquare cylinder design with a bigger bore (up 3mm to 105mm) and shorter stroke (down 4.5mm to 80mm) lets the engine rev 1,000 rpm higher. Chassis-wise the Duke strikes a fine balance between aggressive handling and comfortable cruising. This was achieved by lowering the swingarm pivot 4mm and reducing the steering offset from 32 to 28mm, which increased trail from 115 to 122mm. The WP suspension consisting of a 43mm inverted

fork and a linkage-actuated gas-charged shock worked just fine considering the only adjustment is for shock spring preload. Flog the Duke hard and the chassis moves around a bit, but front-end feel, thanks to the added trail, allows you to attack corners with confidence. Turn-in is easy and midcorner stability solid. Even under hard braking, care of a single Brembo four-piston radial-mounted caliper grasping a 320mm rotor

up front, the Duke stayed in line (Bosch two-channel ABS is there for you too). Seventeeninch, 10-spoke forged-aluminum wheels are shod with Metzeler MR77 tires in a 120/70 front and 160/60 rear sizes. Whether a single-cylinder streetbike is worth $9,000 is a question buyers will have to answer themselves, but the fact is this is a great motorcycle for beginning riders and advanced enthusiasts. Whichever you are, you won’t be disappointed.

SPECS

2016 KTM 690 DUKE PRICE: $9,000 ENGINE: liquid-cooled single DISPLACEMENT: 690cc SEAT HEIGHT: 32.9 in. FUEL CAPACITY: 3.7 gal. CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT: 327 lb.

CYCLEWORLD.COM 15


IGNITION NEWS

THE PLIGHT OF THE MODERN PISTON

FAST FACTS: PISTONS

 The key to fast, efficient combustion is a flat, featureless combustion chamber with at least some squish area (seen outboard of the valve cutouts).  To minimize bearing friction, pistons must be as light as possible. Forging combines light weight and improved resistance to fatigue under stress.  To ensure that gas pressure can keep piston rings always on the bottoms of their grooves, the rings are lightened by being made ever thinner.

“Parts shaped this closely to nature’s requirements have a compelling beauty.” By Kevin Cameron  No part of an engine works harder than its pistons. As a piston rises on compression, the pressure of the fuel-air mixture confined above it rises to 200 psi. Then a spark ignites the mixture. In the next 45 degrees of crank rotation, the mixture burns, reaching a peak pressure of perhaps 1,200 psi. Gas temperature jumps up 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The melting point of pure aluminum is just under 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, and alloying for greater strength reduces that to a bare 1,000 degrees. How can the metal survive? First, pistons are exposed to combustion only one-tenth of the time—60 to 80 degrees out of the 720 of the four-stroke cycle. Second, the piston’s surface is protected by a thin “boundary layer” of stagnant gas that clings to it, providing efficient insulation. Also, aluminum conducts heat three 18 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

times faster than iron or steel, while having a little more than one-third of their weight. This means that heat absorbed by the piston crown is quickly conducted away to a cooler part of the piston. Because aluminum is light, more of it can be used to carry away combustion heat. As high-performance engines rev higher, with larger bores and shorter strokes, piston weight must be reduced to cut vibration and stresses on bearings and mechanical parts. Traditional pistons conducted their heat away to the cooler cylinder wall through thick crowns, but such weight is impracticable at high revs. Therefore, today’s light, thin, and short-skirted pistons are also cooled by jets of engine oil. People once spoke of a “limiting piston speed” (usually given as 4,000 to 4,500 feet per minute), but what really limits rpm is the extreme

stress of piston acceleration. As the pistons in a V-10-era Formula 1 engine reversed direction at TDC, they reached peak accelerations as high as 10,000 G. Pistons in a 15,000rpm, 600cc sportbike engine peak at 7,000 G. The higher the acceleration, the harder the connecting rod tries to tear the wristpin out of the piston, and the faster cracks form in the material. Because they are closest to the heat, top piston rings must be plated or filled with a high melting-point metal such as chromium (3,405 degrees Fahrenheit) or molybdenum (4,720 degrees Fahrenheit). This retards wear by discouraging local welding and plucking. Top rings are usually barrel-faced to seal even with some piston tilting. Second rings (seldom used in racing engines) are usually taper-faced. The oil scraper ring is made as a pair of thin,

flexible rails exerting high specific pressure, pressed outward by a backing spring. Durable oil control is essential to long life of exhaust catalysts. Although some high-duty diesels have steel pistons, the ones used in spark-ignition engines are cast or forged from two basic aluminum alloy types: either a low-expansion, wear-resistant aluminumsilicon alloy, or a high-hotstrength aluminum-coppernickel-magnesium alloy. Both alloy types have a long history. Pistons have evolved from a bucket-like shape with high dome of the 1960s to the present flat-topped “ashtray” proportions, with every detail of their underside given organic grace by refined stress studies. Parts shaped this closely to nature’s requirements have a compelling beauty. They cannot have any other form and function as well. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY

KTM


GEAR IGNITION NEW IDE AS

CW APPRO

VED

GET A GRIP Five ways to hold on By Don Canet

4

5

1 2 3

1

2

3

4

5

STAND ON THE BRAKE

SADDLE TACK

PAW TRACTION

TOASTY FINGER TIP

BELT DRIVE

ADV riders often switch between seated and standing positions, which complicates finding an ideal rear-brake-pedal height. The AltRider DualControl Brake System ($64.97) is a billet-aluminum enlarger plate with stepped riser allowing for comfortable foot position whether seated or standing. It’s available for the BMW R1200GS.  (206) 922-3618 altrider.com

Clinging to a slippery motocross seat can wear you down. While gripper saddles are nothing new, the Acerbis X-Seat ($199.95) is designed with three different grip areas to optimize braking, riding, and acceleration states. Its central cutout (available in “Hard” and “Soft” versions) is said to prevent pelvic-area compression and reduce recoils.  (800) 659-1440 acerbis.com

Loosening your grip on the bars is the first step to combating hand and forearm fatigue. The Spider Peak Grip ($17.95) features an aggressive tread pattern and soft “Traction Gel” outer layer, which offers great feel and nonslip performance. Spider’s Acoustical Rebound Core is a shaped boundary layer designed to reflect vibration away from your hand.  spidergrips.com

There are few things worse than trying to hang onto the bars with numb fingers. The Revit Helium Underglove ($19.99) features closedknit nylon fabric that is breathable, moisturewicking, and provides improved warmth worn within any existing glove. Its snug stretch fit and seamless design ensure comfort and minimal added bulk.  (888) 681-0180 revitusa.com

Nothing is worse than pants that refuse to stay put. Get a grip and lay those worries to waste with the Debo belt ($100) from Roland Sands Design. The made-in-theUSA accessory is constructed of 12-ounce saddle-quality steer hide with a traditional embossed design, thick stitching, and a roller buckle that can be replaced with one of your own.  (877) 773-6648 rolandsands.com CYCLEWORLD.COM 19


IGNITION EVALUATION C W E VA LUAT I O N

ICON AIRFRAME PRO HALO CARBON Light and tight By Don Canet

P

erhaps once perceived as the brand geared for streetfighters and stunters, Portland, Oregon-based riding apparel manufacturer Icon has steadily broadened its product offerings and image. While Icon apparel lines focus on sportbikes, cruisers, and the fastgrowing retro and ADV segments, its head is also in the helmet arena with an evolving line of street helmets. The latest is the all-new Airframe Pro. The Airframe Pro family is primarily comprised of fiberglass compositeshell models in a variety of 11 solid and graphic options with prices ranging from $375 to $440. The flagship models, however, are a pair of $600 carbonfiber versions, the solid black Ghost Carbon and the Halo Carbon tested here. Aside from the material used in the handcrafted shell, all Airframe Pros share a common feature set. Four unique shell sizes are used across an eight-size range spanning 2XS to 3XL. The fivepiece moisture-wicking Hydradry liner is removable, and Icon offers Looser Fit and Tighter Fit liner sets ($45) allowing the possibility of 27 tailored fitment combinations within each shell size. I found my normal size medium to be a bit tight in the cheek pads, which was easily addressed here. The quick-release face shield system lives up to its Rapid-Release name: It was a snap to swap the shield for one of the many tinted offerings. The Carbon models include a Dark Smoke TracShield with posts for tear offs. The shield seals tight with no whistling leaks detected at speed. A signature feature of the AFP is what Icon calls a Sculpted Neckroll. The carved-out area is designed to reduce jacket/suit interference when in a fulltuck riding position. Cooler heads prevail, with a total of

20 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

ICON AIRFRAME PRO HALO CARBON rideicon.com PRICE: $600 nine intake vents feeding air through channels molded into the EPS liner that route to five exhaust vents at the rear of the shell. The adjustable brow and chin vents do a good job of sealing out the chill when closed. Having worn the Airframe Pro on the track and the street I am impressed with the strides Icon has made in quality, fit, and function. While there are more expensive helmets to be had, you do get what you pay for, and the Airframe Pro delivers the goods in its price range.

UPS + Proprietary carbon weave looks boss + Five-piece Hydradry interior allows custom fitment + Clear optics face shield DOWNS Light-color liner shows grime over time – Now your bike needs CF bodywork


RIDE SMART IGNITION MENTORING TIP S

MOTHER GOOSE AND YOU Helping young riders get a clue By John L. Stein

W

anting to contribute to the welfare of young street riders in the neighborhood recently inspired me to collate the most valuable lessons learned over 40 years of riding and sprinkle them into coaching opportunities before, during, and after our rides. From anticipating hidden driveways to danger lurking in the shadows; noticing pavement and camber changes to negotiating blind turns; and choosing appropriate speeds to deciding when and where not to be a hooligan, every lesson learned via a close call or a raft-load of scabs has become a vibrant and essential strategy to impart. Essentially, I have remade myself into a motorcycling Mother Goose. Teenagers can’t know all the survival tricks of a seasoned street rider because they haven’t experienced it all yet, nor have they suffered from ILLUSTRATION BY

Christopher Nielsen

not knowing. And a safety-school instructor might actually not be the entire solution, partly because his focus is necessarily on teaching the required curriculum (e.g., how to physically control the bike) and also because not every instructor has the same breadth of personal experience. The result is that teenage enthusiasm, coupled with a less-than-complete worldview, can still lead to trouble— even if a good-faith effort is made to obey the rules of the road. Among many possibilities, here are four tactical skills that can benefit younger and less mature street riders. • KNOW WHAT SPEED MEANS. Doubling your speed injects four times more kinetic energy into any riding situation. So that quick twist of the throttle means it will now take way longer to turn, brake, or avoid trouble.

• ALWAYS BE ESCAPING. Train your mind into a computer that continually scans for threats and plans escape routes. “What will I do if…” and, “Where will I go if…” are essential questions to replay as road and traffic conditions change. • BUILD A SUSPICIOUS MIND. Young riders sometimes assume they’ll be safe if they just obey the speed limit. However, left-turning cars, road hazards, or even an unmarked turn can still take them out. The antidote is building situational awareness. • STAY IN THE PRESENT. Make the motorcycle seat your war room. This means that instead of climbing aboard and mentally checking out, young riders should embrace the immediacy and responsibility of the ride. Then when the unexpected happens, they’ll be ready. CYCLE WORLD 21


IGNITION BIKE LIFE

WHO THE HELL IS PETER EGAN? WHO THE HELL AM I? BY PETER JONES

I

know that for many readers of Cycle World, I totally suck. That’s because I’ve (half) taken over a job done previously by a superhero. I’m sure most readers have noticed there’s no longer a monthly Leanings column in this magazine by Peter Egan. Instead, there’s some guy named Paul d’Orleans, who I’ve never met, and me. It takes two of us to replace one Peter Egan for a couple of reasons. First of all, we’re only each half as good as Egan. Maybe. Second, neither of us could manage the emotional drain of taking full blame for Egan’s disappearance. So we share the guilt of unintended mediocrity. Of course, in reality, it’s not our fault that Egan no longer has a monthly column here. And by “here” I mean exactly right here, on this very page between your very fingers at this very second, while you’re hating us, and in this month hating me in particular since this is one of my six chances this year. It’s by Egan’s own choice that he is no longer authoring monthly columns for Cycle World. Really. But who cares? D’Orleans and I are here, Egan is not, and so we get the blame. It’s as if on one cold Wisconsin morning we broke into Egan’s garage, slapped from his hand the delicious, hot coffee Barb had just brewed for him, dragged him down the highway behind our totally non-British and electric-start motorcycles, and left him where he’ll never again be found. Next to a shrub in the Dells, I suppose. Truth is, if you’re not hating us for this crime that we haven’t committed, I’m kind of disappointed. You should hate us. Feelings don’t need fact for justification; they only need passion. I know this because at one time I irrationally hated Egan. I hated him for taking over the job

22 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

of a superhero. Back when I was just a wee teenager, Henry N. Manney III, the world’s greatest motorsports writer, had a column in Road & Track magazine, and he was the editor at large for Cycle World. It was Manney who showed me that motorsports are a lifestyle, not hobby. He wrote about things familiar to me as if he were my best friend, with intimate knowledge of my personal perceptions. And he wrote about things unfamiliar to me in ways that took me there. He was a thrilling tour guide into the life of mechanical things that are hot, fast, noisy, and stinky. Sadly, Manney suffered a stroke in the early 1980s and was in a coma until he died in 1988. I recall the shock I felt learning of his condition and how I hoped for years that he’d return. Taking over the column page left blank by Manney was some upstart import car mechanic from the Midwest named Peter Egan. I hated him just for trying. It was months before I allowed myself to even read his stuff. Initially I’d check the bylines of each story to make sure I wouldn’t accidentally read something by this nervy guy who thought he could replace Manney. Of course, a day came when I couldn’t help myself and read something by Egan. Yeah, it was pretty good. And so was the next thing. And the next. Now, decades later, the kid has really proved himself, just as he would have even if it’d been beside the beloved Manney. So, for all of you who hate Mr. d’Orleans and me, it’s okay. And although Egan has said, with modesty and grace, that he’s no Manney, I can go him one further and assure you, in full fact of talent, that I’m no Egan. Jealous or not, I do finally forgive him. Pretty much.

BY THE NUMBERS

0 HOW MANY VINTAGE BRITISH BIKES I CURRENTLY OWN

two

HOW MANY VINTAGE BRITISH BIKES I HAVE OWNED

5/8 THE NUMBERS STAMPED ON A WHITWORTH WRENCH THAT DOESN’T FIT A 5/8-INCH BOLT OR NUT


IT’S IN THE DETAILS. You know every inch of your bike. Not just the engine size, or the color code of the paint. It’s the special details that only you know about. Like the way the exhaust opens up just right at 3,200rpm. Or that scuff on the footpeg you picked up while riding through Deal’s Gap. It’s the details that make your bike unique, and no one knows this more than GEICO. With GEICO Motorcycle insurance, you’ll get coverage VSHFLĆFWR\RXUELNHDQGDWHDPRISHRSOHZKRORYH motorcycles as much as you do. When it comes to insurance, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Trust the details to GEICO Motorcycle.

Motorcycle JHLFRFRP__/RFDO2IĆFH

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. Motorcycle coverage is underwritten by GEICO Indemnity Company. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. Š 2015 GEICO.


IGNITION TDC

A FUTURE FOR AIR COOLING? THE VIRTUE OF SIMPLICITY BY KEVIN CAMERON

D

uring the first half of the 20th century, the motorcycle established itself as the simplest of useful vehicles: for transportation, for sport, or for military applications. Motorcycles had air-cooled engines, generally of one or two cylinders, that could be easily kickstarted. They were basic, providing not a lot more than two wheels, an engine, and a place to sit. That very simplicity was at the center of the motorcycle’s appeal. Just hop on, start the engine, and give your life a whole new direction, wherever you wanted to go. Now a cornerstone of that simplicity— air cooling—is coming under siege, with some pundits predicting that the next round of European emissions standards cannot be met with air cooling. Large air-cooled engines of traditional design—Harley’s 1200 Sportster, some Big Twins, and certain BMW flat twins— are being given “strategic cooling,” the auto industry’s name for intensive cooling of problem areas. The 1200 Sportster circulates engine oil through passages in its heads, encircling its exhaust valve seats, and Harley’s Rushmore suite of enhancements to its biggest engines does the same but with water/glycol engine coolant instead of oil. This strategic cooling is not motivated by upcoming emissions changes but by problems inherent in how modern motorcycles are used. As highway speeds have risen and the weights of large motorcycles have grown, more power is needed. Harley’s Big Twin started life with 61ci in 1937 but is now at 103ci and 110ci. Where’s the problem? More power equals more heat. Talk to anyone who rides a big-displacement bike and you’ll hear about the heat that pours off its engine. But a harder problem is inside, as exhaust gas rushes past the open exhaust valves and their seats, heating them. Every time we increase engine

24 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

displacement, we push that much more hot exhaust gas past valves and seats. But the outside of the engine—the surface on which we can put more cooling fins—is quite limited. If we space the cooling fins closer together, we increase their resistance to air flowing between them. Ditto if we make the fins deeper. If we enclose the cylinders and heads in sheet metal shell baffles to force air to flow through fin spaces all the way around to the backs of the cylinders, we can’t see the fins that so many riders love. And all the while, artists in the styling department are telling us any change in appearance is certain sales suicide. Big air-cooled engines can get very hot in stop-and-go traffic. Cylinders distort, rings can no longer seal, and the engine may begin to smoke. As hot as it is, it may also begin to knock. Harley has provided its “parade mode” to counter this, turning off the fuel injection to the rear cylinder under specific conditions. Meanwhile, finless flat-black liquidcooled engines have radiator fans that click on robotically to handle such situations by blowing away the excess heat. But that in itself offends those who find charm in the motorcycle’s simplicity—as simple as a favorite pair of boots. Yes, water pumps, fans, thermostats, and radiators are now very reliable and provide excellent function, but what if you just don’t particularly like them? What if you feel they are car parts that don’t belong on your motorcycle? Cars have doors and windows; motorcycles have sky and wind. If air cooling is to have a future, cylinder thermal distortion has to be reduced to something piston rings can seal, keeping engine oil from entering combustion chambers, burning, and being detected as exhaust emissions. Metal surface temperatures in the combustion chambers must be held below values that

BY THE NUMBERS

1998

LAST YEAR OF THE AIR-COOLED PORSCHE 911, WHICH WAS KNOWN INTERNALLY AS THE 993

4 .9 OIL CAPACITY, IN LITERS, OF THE AIR- AND OIL-COOLED HONDA CB1100.

TEN MILLIONS OF AIR-COOLED ENGINES PRODUCED EACH YEAR BY BRIGGS & STRATTON FOR OUTDOOR POWER EQUIPMENT, SUCH AS LAWN MOWERS.


TDC IGNITION either lead to combustion knock (higher internal temperature is why air-cooled engines have lower compression ratios than liquidcooled ones) or to slow metal creep—the “ovalizing” of exhaust valve seats, leading to leakage that in turn causes even more heating, leading to failure. Thus, at present, complexity is being called upon to preserve simplicity. Exhaust valve seats are being liquid-cooled whether styling likes it or not. Pistons, whose hot crowns might otherwise heat incoming mixture enough to provoke detonation, are being cooled by oil jets from below. Air-cooled Porsches had cooling fans to force air through their engines’ fin spaces, but motorcyclists see anything with a fan as either a scooter or a golf-cart engine. Nasty! Bottom line: With all the pushing and shoving of interested parties, the design space remaining

into which an air-cooled engine can fit is not large. Styling hated oil coolers and they didn’t want more or bigger fins, so in the resulting contest with the laws of physics, they got a little banged up and had to accept two coolant radiators that resemble bathroom space heaters. Honda put a lot of effort into engineering its aircooled CB1100 but even so had to oil-cool the area around its spark plugs (translation: cool the hot combustion chambers). The effectiveness of air cooling decreases as engine size increases, so if there’s to be a future for it, we’ll see more liquid-assisted cooling, possibly via hidden oil coolers with attached fans. Many fondly remember the big air-cooled Japanese engines such as Honda’s CB750, Kawasaki’s Z1, and Suzuki’s GS series. Despite their reputations from 40 years ago, in modern terms they hardly produced any power. To be as suc-

AIR-COOLED PORSCHES HAD COOLING FANS TO FORCE AIR THROUGH THEIR ENGINES’ FIN SPACES, BUT MOTORCYCLISTS SEE ANYTHING WITH A FAN AS EITHER A SCOOTER OR A GOLF-CART ENGINE.

cessful as they were, they were intentionally made heavy, especially in the cylinder head. That extra metal absorbed and stored heat during bursts of acceleration and dissipated it to the merry little breezes when the throttles closed again. They were not asked, as modern touring engines definitely are, to cruise across Death Valley in August, two-up, towing a trailer. At 85 mph. Highways speeds, despite Mr. Gore’s movie, are up, and therefore so is displacement. That puts big air-cooled engines behind the eight ball, as above. The bigger you make it, the harder it is to cool. Maybe we have to be satisfied with that old air-cooled enduro up at the lake cabin, the bike all the kids learned on, which probably still has the same oil in its crankcase that the dealer put there in 1987. It always starts and runs. It has the virtue of simplicity.


FIRST RIDE HONDA AFRICA TWIN

2016 HONDA AFRICA TWIN BIG RED RETURNS TO THE LAND OF ADVENTURE By Ned S u e ss e Photography Courtesy of Ho n d a

26 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016


FIRST RIDE HONDA AFRICA TWIN THE AFRICA TWIN SPENT A LOT OF TIME IN A WIND TUNNEL, AND FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE ACCUSTOMED TO THE BUFFETING AND NOISY AIR OF MANY ADV BIKES, THAT IS A BLESSING.

T

he adventure-bike market has been growing steadily, even as other segments recede. Year after year, the BMW R1200GS has been the bestselling big bike worldwide. But one company has been notably absent from the fray: Honda. The 2016 CRF1000L Africa Twin is Big Red’s return to that market segment, and it makes a strong statement. The project began with a two-word design brief: “Go anywhere.” Those words drove decisions throughout the development process. For example, high ground clearance plus reasonable seat height plus mass centralization added up to a parallel twin, since a V-twin would be too long. Continuing that theme, man-

28 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

aging the overall size of the bike meant space was at a premium, so the engine uses compact unicam heads like a CRF motocrosser and integrates oil and water pumps with the balance shafts (there are two) inside the engine side covers. Moreover, using a parallel twin gave the bike a narrow waist that makes it easy for the rider to get his feet flat on the ground. Honda introduced the Africa Twin at a private game reserve in South Africa, where the world’s motorcycling press got the chance to ride for two days—the first primarily on pavement and the second mostly on dirt. Once under way, the bike was immediately easy to ride. The motor is willing and smooth, though with a claimed 94 hp and 503-pound wet weight acceleration is not fierce. Two-up riders or those who live at high elevation will

use everything the Honda has on tap, but otherwise, if this motor won’t get the job done, it’s probably illegal! Our route followed a mix of meandering sweepers to a tight and technical paved pass, which we happened to ride over during the first rainstorm in months. These mixed conditions—with oil rising up from the pavement—never invited aggressive lean angles. I look forward to someday riding an Africa Twin on clear, dry roads. As we have come to expect from ADV offerings, the Africa Twin offers ABS and traction control, both of which come with different modes for different conditions. ABS is switchable at the rear wheel only, and while I was at first skeptical, I found the front ABS to be generally unobtrusive on road and off, even over


CYCLEWORLD.COM 29


FIRST RIDE HONDA AFRICA TWIN

DCT VS. ADV Honda’s high-tech answer to the Rekluse clutch Honda put a great deal of engineering into creating a Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) option for the Africa Twin, which puts clutch operation in the hands of a computer. Gear selection can be made by that same computer in any of four modes— essentially a base map plus three sport maps—or manually via triggers on the left handlebar. There is also an optional gearshift look-alike that allows manual gear changes with your foot and a gravel mode for clutch engagement that shortens the time the clutch slips during shifts. The DCT option costs $700 and adds about 20 pounds. During my ride in South Africa, I split time evenly between the two transmission types, and my takeaway was this: An experienced rider is occasionally giving something up with DCT and rarely gaining anything—though shifting gears mid-slide is fun! A novice rider is often gaining something with the system by allowing him to focus on his line and not be distracted by searching for the right gear or worrying

about stalling. The latter is able to ride at a higher level, especially off road, and the loss he incurs is mostly philosophical—fewer continual opportunities for learning that are part of what makes motorcycling so addictive. I see two candidates for whom DCT

will be a great option. The first are newer riders who want to focus on the journey, for whom the advantage gained simply allows them more enjoyment. The other is for older riders who will take all the help they can get. I have several friends who are excellent

rough ground and loose stones where many ABS systems falter. Traction control has four settings: Off and 1–3. Level 1 is quite sporty, allowing slides and only intervening when things have gotten pretty far along; level 2 will keep the wheels in line but allows some spin; and level 3 is an overprotective nanny. It’s worth noting that both the ABS and TC have physical switches, so there’s no fishing around in electronic menus to select the desired settings. One feature that stood out is effective air management. The Africa Twin spent a lot of time in a wind tunnel, and for those of us who are accustomed to the buffeting and noisy air of many ADV bikes, that is a blessing. The windscreen provides a

riders but have failing joints (generally from crashing motorcycles) and would enjoy the ease this system offers. For those who are more experienced, or want to focus on developing their skills, the manual transmission is the better choice. —Ned Suesse

nice pocket of still air, to the point that raindrops were collecting on my visor and staying there—I had to stand up and get into moving air for them to disperse. At the end of the first day we got a chance to ride some dirt roads, and I was immediately impressed by the Honda’s handling. I was struck by how the chassis manages to be stable, thus easy to keep on line, and nimble, ready to turn when desired. Off road I never experienced headshake or even much tendency to follow ruts, which would seem to indicate slow geometry, but it was also very easy to steer onto a new line. Ordinarily these two qualities are opposed to one another, but the Africa Twin seems to find the best of both worlds.

UPS

HONDA AFRICA TWIN

30 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

• Clean-sheet design that delivers in all conditions • Good suspension & chassis • Refinement at every level

DOWNS • Power-to-weight ratio could be better • Vague on-road handling • A bit too sensible


FIRST RIDE HONDA AFRICA TWIN

AFRICA VS. THE WORLD How does the Africa Twin stack up against the competition? The adventure-bike market is crowded with options, and sorting out the best one for any individual rider is an exercise that typically requires several opinionated friends and a copious amount of beer. The Africa Twin does not make this exercise easier because in my view it claims new ground.

It does not stack up against the Big Twins (KTM 1190R and 1290 Super Adventure, BMW R1200GS, Yamaha Super Ténéré) insofar as the engine makes much less power. But does screaming down the motorway at triple-digit speeds really qualify as an “adventure”? It also does not fit in with the

Highlighting the importance of this new model, Honda flew in the overall project manager and several key members of the design team to answer questions about the bike. That evening I cornered Tetsuya Kudoh, one of the clearly passionate engineers, to ask about the handling. He explained that there are three critical factors: frame rigidity, geometry, and engine mounting. At low speeds the biggest force acting on the chassis is the gyroscopic inertia of the engine, so the Africa Twin uses six engine mounts. The geometry (rake, trail, offset, etc.) could therefore be biased toward responsiveness without creating instability, while the steel frame left some flexibility that softens its response to bumps. According to Kudoh-san, a great deal of testing went into this design, and my impression was definitely positive. The next morning we were turned loose on an off-road loop, and while there

the now-retired KTM 950/990 Adventure. The Africa Twin is less raw than the original Adventure, and that’s both good and bad—you won’t feel like Fabrizio Meoni winning Dakar on your way to work, but then again, none of us are Meoni, and the Honda is never punishing like the old KTM could be. —Ned Suesse

other midsize ADV bikes, such as the Suzuki V-Strom 650, BMW F800GS, or Triumph 800XC. Those bikes are less capable off road and less integrated to a true adventure design brief. They all have their bright spots, but none of them is as consistently capable as the Honda. The closest competitor I see is

wasn’t a huge variety of conditions, the bike acquitted itself well. The suspension is adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping both front and rear, and the stock settings were balanced and compliant, without excessive dive or tendency to bottom like other midsize ADV bikes. In sand and crossing ruts, it did a great job of absorbing impacts without wallowing. The bike’s narrowness between the rider’s knees makes standing very natural, and another nice feature is ample steering lock (said to be 43 degrees) that allows the bike to navigate tight sections of trail easier. All that said, the bike does not, however, have a racy feel off road; its weight makes itself apparent, it resists wheelies, and it responds best to smooth inputs. With the Africa Twin, Honda hasn’t just returned to the adventure-bike class; it has redefined it. Welcome back, Big Red. You’ve been missed!

THE NUMBERS 2016 HONDA AFRICA TWIN Price

 $12,999 base; $13,699 DCT

Engine

 Liquid-cooled parallel twin

Displacement

 998cc

Bore x stroke

 92.0 x 75.1mm

Induction Transmission

 Constant mesh 6-speed manual/6-speed DCT w/ on- and off-road riding modes

Front suspension

 45mm Showa cartridge inverted fork; 9.0-in. travel

Rear suspension

 Pro-Link single shock w/ hydraulic preload; 8.7-in. travel

Brakes

 Dual 310mm wave discs front, 256mm wave disc rear; ABS; parking brake on DCT model

Front tire

 90/90R-21 tube type

Rear tire

 150/70R-18 tube type

Seat height

 34.3 & 33.5 in.

Wheelbase

 62.0 in.

Rake/trail Fuel capacity Claimed wet weight

32 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

 EFI

 N/A  5.0 gal.  511 lb. ABS, 534 lb. DCT/ABS


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From tarmac to trail, the GEICO Motorcycle Adventure Rally Series challenges rider and machine. Team up with your favorite riding buddy(ies) or form a team with other participants. By day discover self-navigated checkpoints ranging in difficulty and distance, special tests, and more. By night enjoy base camp with fellow competitors, Cycle World, Motorcyclist, and Dirt Rider staffs, as well as guests from leading companies in the motorcycle industry. Join the adventure!

Check out our newest Adventure Rally video at www.cycleworld.com/adventurerally


CW RIDING IMPRESSION

CHINESE TAKEOUT CSC MOTORCYCLES’ RX3 CYCLONE IS A WHOLE NE W TAKE ON THE ADV-BIKE SCENE

S

By M a rk L i n de m a n n Photography by Je ff Al l en

everal years ago, two of my uncles were at a backyard barbecue. Uncle Number One mentioned that he was wearing a $300 pair of shoes. Uncle Number Two pointed to his own feet: “These? Twelve bucks at Walmart.” Each one laughed, thinking he’d gotten the better deal and the other sucker had gotten scalded. When it comes to the CSC Motorcycles RX3 Cyclone, we might as well confront the elephant in the room straight on: As shown here (windshield, engine guards, luggage) it costs a mere $3,495 new, and that’s all some folks will need to hear. It’s also made in China, which is maybe all another group will need to hear. It’s also a 250cc adventure bike in a land where most ADV bikes are four or five times larger. Some backstory: CSC Motorcycles is an Azusa, California-based firm that imports the RX3 Cyclone from Chongqing, China, where it’s built by Zongshen, a company founded in 1992, employing 18,000 and claiming a yearly output of more than a million bikes. The RX3 uses a Zongshen-designed 250cc, SOHC, liquid-cooled counterbalanced single, fuel-injected and with a 77 x 53.6mm bore and stroke. Its smoothness and powerband are surprisingly good: The fuel injection meters flawlessly, and the modest power is linear all the way up to redline. And as with any 250, you’ll be spending a lot of time flirting with that redline. At freeway speeds—an indicated 78 mph but a verified 70—the engine is turning 8,000 rpm; redline is 9,000, and the rev limiter cuts in around 10,500. CSC claims 25 hp at 9,000 rpm; our observed top speed was an indicated 82 mph (actually 74), but a steep hill, headwind, or running at elevation takes a bite out of that pretty fast. There are plenty of other areas where the Cyclone is surprisingly good. The seating position is just about perfect (from a 6-foot, 160-pound test rider’s point of view); it’s possible to ride for miles through urban traffic without ever putting your foot down, always a good indicator of a balanced bike. The small windshield does an excellent job all the way to the motorcycle’s maxi34 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

mum speed, a real surprise given the shield’s modest size. The clutch pull is light and the engagement linear. The six-speed gearbox’s shifting is likewise excellent. Of course the RX3 is not without fault. The 262mm single front disc with two-piston caliper requires a mighty squeeze and even then returns only modest stopping power. The 258mm rear brake is better. The Cyclone’s suspension is likewise less than what one would expect from a more expensive Japanese bike. The inverted fork and single shock both do an adequate job but feel oversprung and underdamped (front/rear travel is 5.4/5.6 inches). Adding a 125-pound passenger (for a total load of 285 pounds of human and 24 pounds of fuel) makes the ride less harsh. And it also brings up an interesting point: The RX3 is equipped with a passenger seat and pegs, but a sticker on the tank states, “Operator only, no passengers.” Max load is 330 pounds. Since it is an ADV-style bike we took the RX3 offroad, and it performed fine so long as those dirt roads were relatively smooth and we kept the speeds down in deference to the suspension’s limits and street-oriented tires. Run pretty much wide open the Cyclone averaged 59 mpg. Around town it was easy to get it up to the lowto-mid 70s. Fuel capacity is 4.2 gallons, but the low-fuel light comes on at about the halfway point. Just as many of us order our books and music online, if you want an RX3 Cyclone, you contact CSC Motorcycles and purchase it directly from the company. A local shop handles your warranty service with reimbursement through CSC; parts are available online. The other elephant in the room: How reliable, longterm, is the RX3 Cyclone? China is a country, not a company, and it’s impossible to make any kind of meaningful judgment about the RX3 based solely on where it’s built. But we will note the following: Most companies send Cycle World low-mileage testbikes; CSC sent the RX3 Cyclone with 5,700 miles on the clock, which has to be taken as a vote of confidence on its part. CSC offers a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty. Is CSC’s RX3 Cyclone the right fit for you or someone you know? That may well have more to do with where you buy your shoes than anything else.


SPECS

2015 CSC RX3 CYCLONE PRICE: $3,495 ENGINE: SOHC single DISPLACEMENT: 250cc SEAT HEIGHT: 31.3 in. FUEL CAPACITY: 4.2 gal. CLAIMED WEIGHT: 385 lb.

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CW FEATURE SARDINIA RALLY

S A R D E G N A R A L L Y R A L LY R A C I N G I S L I F E . EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST LOGISTICS. BY NED SUESSE

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very racer knows one of the most intense moments in life is just before the start. Anticipation is a strong emotion—there’s a reason lingerie is so popular—and in those instants before the green flag drops, all of our desires and fears come together and fill us to the brim. When the race is part of a world championship, like the eighth annual Sardegna Rally in which I’m competing, the emotions are even more powerful. As I sit on the starting line, I know I’m going to have to bring my best game. The six-day Sardegna Rally is one of a half-dozen world championship rounds that lead up to the biggest rally of them all, the Dakar. Sardegna (I’m going with the local Italian spelling) is an island in the Mediterranean Sea about the size of New Hampshire. Unlike most rallies, which run across CYCLEWORLD.COM 37


CW FEATURE SARDINIA RALLY

RALLY RACING IS DIFFERENT IN THAT THE COURSE IS KEPT SECRET AND ISN’T MARKED. wide-open desert, the course here runs through olive groves on narrow cart paths that date back to the Roman Empire. Rally racing differs from other forms of motorsport in that the course is kept secret and isn’t marked. Getting lost is a real risk and there is no GPS to fall back on. Racers are given paper scrolls containing navigation instructions— in Sardegna, these scrolls were so big we had to change them midday. Reading instructions every few 38 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

hundred meters for hundreds of kilometers while riding as quickly as possible puts me in a mental state that is positively addicting. That—along with the sheer enjoyment of riding a motorcycle through the spectacular places we get to visit—is why I love it. In addition to racing against the clock on closed roads, rally racers ride their bikes over untimed sections on open public roads. These liaisons are a dual-sport rider’s dream. Even with herds of racebikes thundering through

picturesque villages at oneminute intervals, the Italians loved it. I never saw a cross expression and the carabinieri waved us by even when we were already speeding! Champions in all motorcycle racing disciplines must possess amazing bike control, but rally racers also have to be athletes with the stamina to stay focused for hours (and days) on end. The best, in my view, are complete riders, which is the highest praise I can bestow upon a racer. One of the most fascinating aspects of participating in an event like this is getting to see how world-class rally racers do what they do. The takeaway, for me, is that the best are capable of riding a bike very fast for a very long time, in every condition imaginable, and almost never make a mistake. The logistics of taking part in an international race like this are intimidating. We had to get six people, two motorcycles, plus a whole bunch of spare parts, gear, and tools to Italy and then transport everything between the farflung bivouac locations. We accomplished that by using Air Canada’s fly-with-yourbike program, which required driving from my home in Colorado to Toronto since the service is only offered from select cities. That—not to mention the four-hour wait in the middle of the night at the border after we forgot to get a form stamped—is all part of the adventure. I kept telling myself if it were easy, everyone would do it! The shared adventure of rally racing forms bonds between competitors—I saw teams that were competing for stage wins helping one another in the pits. On the first day, while on liaison from one special stage to the next, I pulled into a gas station to fill up my KTM. At the pump in front of me was Carlos Checa,

longtime MotoGP competitor and former World Superbike champion. I thought it was fantastic that he chose to do this kind of race, so far outside his normal discipline, and told him as much. From that point on he made an effort to say hello whenever we crossed paths. It turned out we were fairly evenly matched, and in the end he beat me by one position—40 seconds after five days of racing. It may sound odd to say, but I was proud to lose to Carlos. The moment immediately after a race is intense, too, but in a different way than before. Whereas the start is filled with anticipation, the finish is filled with varying degrees of frustration and satisfaction. I think Steve McQueen got it slightly wrong when he said, “When you’re racing, it’s life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.” I would include the moments just before and after racing in that equation. For me, the Sardegna Rally was mostly satisfying: I finished 29th in a field of 80 of the world’s best rally racers and made memories to last a lifetime.

Author Ned Suesse would not have been able to take part in the Sardegna Rally without help from If You See Kay wines, Doubletake Mirror, Adventure Spec, Goldentyre, Klim, and Rally Management Services. Together with these companies, Suesse (29th) and teammates Scott Bright (22nd) and Manuel Lucchese (16th) all finished well.


WORLD-CLASS MOTORCYCLE RACING IN AMERICA

watch us live! april 7 - 10 Circuit of the Americas

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may 13 - 15 virginia international raceway

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july 8 - 10 mazda raceway laguna seca

september 9 - 11 new jersey motorsports park * schedule subject to change

GET TICKETS ONLINE AT MOTOAMERICA.COM @MotoAmerica1


B I K E S

40 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

T H A T

M O V E

Y O U R

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TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE STREET TWIN NEW ENGINEERING. SAME SOUL? BY PETER JONES PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF TRIUMPH

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he difference between the new Triumph Bonneville Street Twin and the previous Bonneville is only one thing: everything. It has a new engine, new chassis, new instruments, new ride-by-wire throttle, new traction control, new yadda, new razzmatazz, and new glafuncles. But, sure, it’s hard to see changes on a bike that is an updated retro design that’s equally as retro as the previous retro version. So the Street Twin’s new is a new that’s primarily supposed to be felt, not seen. You will be able to feel it. The Street Twin engine is a liquid-cooled, eightvalve, single-overhead-cam parallel twin with sleeveless Nikasil-coated cylinders and a 270-degree crank. Some of the previous powerplants had 360-degree cranks, just like Triumph’s parallel twins had run since the 1930s, but all the new ones are 270 to give a more V-twin-like sound. This base model’s engine is now 900cc, not 865cc, and has redefined performance parameters, with a claimed 55 rather than 67 hp and 59 versus 50 pound-feet of torque. At a glance that might seem odd to give up so much horsepower. But from Triumph’s perspective it’s not odd. It may be initially disappointing considering the significant update to the platform, but if it’s higher performance you are after, Triumph will refer you to the new, bigger Bonnevilles.

Two counterbalancer shafts quell vibration, one front and one rear, and each, of course, spins in the opposite direction of the crankshaft. Peak horsepower is at 5,900 rpm, and redline is somewhere just beyond that. For a liquid-cooled motorcycle, the Street Twin has air-cooling fins on its head and cylinders, and these fins don’t fib: They actually do, by design, assist in cooling the engine. The transmission has five speeds. A single 39mm throttle body controls air and fuel. By comparison, the Indian Scout Sixty (see page 53), at 2016 TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE STREET TWIN Base price: $8700 black, $8950 color Displacement: 900cc Claimed wt.: 437 lb. Seat ht.: 29.5 in. Fuel capacity: 3.2 gal. Claimed hp: 54.0 @ 5900 rpm Claimed 59 lb.-ft. @ torque: 3230 rpm CYCLEWORLD.COM 41


1,000cc, has a 60mm throttle body. Considering that twice a diameter is four times the volume, these numbers are quite far from each other. Also, considering the Venturi effect, which defines how a constricted path results in a lower pressure yet higher velocity of flow, there’s a significant engineering disagreement here between these brands. The Street Twin’s fuelmanagement design results in increased fuel efficiency for a claimed 72.8 mpg at a steady rate of 56 mph and 52 mpg at 75 mph. What we did verify so far is that when the bike is ridden hard for extended mountain miles in second gear, dragging toes through the turns and railing up to redline in the short straights between each of them, mileage was 47.3 mpg, which is very impressive. Very. This shows that the Street Twin achieves a totally plausible 200-plus-mile range with its small 3.2-gallon tank. The Bonneville Street Twin’s chassis is steel tubes welded to a cast-iron steering

head, bolted to an engine cradle. Rake is 25.1 degrees and trail is at 4.0 inches (102.4mm), which are common numbers for a standardstyle bike. The suspension in front and rear is by Kayaba, with a 41mm conventional fork up front and preloadadjustable twin shocks in the rear. Both ends have 4.7 inches of travel, and the shocks are set up with ample sag and have progressive springs for a soft initial travel. The wheels are cast aluminum: 18 x 2.75-inch front, 17 x 4.25-inch rear, with classiclooking Pirelli Phantom tires made to Triumph’s specs. The tires are 100/90-18 front, 150/70R-17 rear. Braking at each end is by single Nissin two-piston floating calipers, mated to a 310mm disc up front and a 255mm one out back. ABS is standard. Seat height is 29.5 inches, and the claimed dry weight is 437 pounds. Other features include traction control that can be turned off, security immobilizer, and a USB socket under the seat. The hand levers are adjustable. A single round gauge contains an analog speedom-

eter and a multi-functional LCD display shows gear position, fuel level, range to empty, fuel-consumption rate, traction-control status, service indicator, clock, and odometers. The Bonneville Street Twin’s class of motorcycles might be best described as the mystery-of-the-missinghorsepower class, defined by bikes with full-size meaty engines blessed with midsize mild performance. It’s a retro-ish, roadster-ish, twinish class that includes the likes of Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster, Indian Scout Sixty, Star Bolt, Moto Guzzi V7, Ducati Scrambler, and this Street Twin—maybe one or two others. This niche is now a full-on market center of easy-to-ride-yet-totally-capable motorcycles. Oh, and each bike must have a base model costing less than $9,000, even if it’s only one dollar less. The aging generation of performance motorcyclists have been long drunk on horsepower as the end-all measure of performance and happiness. But the Street Twin is for a new crowd who values a ride of quality and ease. Triumph providing ABS

A BIG TWIN ALLOWS THE CREATION AND MANIPULATION OF A CRAFTED POWERBAND THAT’S BROAD AND SMOOTH FROM BOTTOM TO TOP… and traction control as Street Twin standard features, on an otherwise retro bike, is no accident, pun fully intended. With the Street Twin, its engine-to-horsepower ratio isn’t a matter of dumbing down a beast. A big twin allows the creation and manipulation of a crafted powerband that’s broad and smooth from bottom to top, making the most of the plateau of torque rather than chasing the peak of horsepower. The omission of a tachometer isn’t for keeping costs down; it’s to make a statement because the specific location of redline just doesn’t matter. Chasing horsepower is a 42 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016


nervous activity, and this bike is designed to be calm. Also, horsepower is a measure over time, and its peak number only exists for an instant at the top end of a revving journey. Most riders never go there, don’t want to go there, and don’t know why anyone would think of going there. A few company staffers stated that Triumph is an engineering company, above all else. So does the Street Twin show that? Yes, it does. This bike’s efficiency of travel, both in miles per gallon and in suspension movement, defends this engineering claim—so does the Street Twin’s virtually

vibration-free chassis, despite the fact that the engine is solid mounted with no rubber dampers. On the Street Twin, the ride is soft, the seat is soft, and the power is soft. Overall, the chassis is well controlled with properly tuned damping for both high-speed and low-speed suspension movement, though it can get a bit overwhelmed when pushing through sweepers at terminal speeds. But, as suggested above, riding like a knucklehead isn’t the first thought for most who are shopping in this class. If the Street Twin is vying for the prize of friendliest streetbike ever, it is certainly

a formidable contender. And we’re not talking about little bikes with little engines; we’re talking about serious bikes that can be ridden any distance, exceeding touring speed, and be very cool to own and trust and love. Something Triumph has as a brand is character, and there’s no extra cost for that. Many of its employees have been with the company since it reopened in the 1980s, with most of those who have left simply retiring. It’s a family— a British family primarily, but it extends to the Thailand factory where all Bonnies are assembled—and they’re proud that they don’t compete with

others but do it their own way. The bike’s character truly resides within its classic Bonneville silhouette. It’s shaped like the history of Triumph. Like in how “pushrod 45-degree V-twin” means Harley-Davidson and “boxer” means BMW, parallel twin means Triumph. It’s so iconic that its shape, configuration, and proportions were copied by others back in the 1970s and all the way up to current times, including the Kawasaki W650/800. A parallel twin isn’t just an engine layout; it’s the emotional signature of a memory, just as much as a taste can be. Long live the Queen. CYCLEWORLD.COM 43


2016 MOTUS MST AND MSTR SWEET HOME ALABAMA! V-4 SPORT-TOURERS FROM THE LAND OF LYNYRD SKYNYRD BY PETER JONES PHOTOGRAPHY BY TIM WHITE

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very now and then a motorcycle comes along that, after the first few ham-fisted miles of riding, you just have to park on the side of the road, get off, and take a newly earned respectful look at it. The Motus MST is one of those bikes. Motus calls its MV4 1650 engine the “Baby Block.” Those two words express the humor and culture of this company. It’s fair to say a downsized half-a-V-8 is a “baby” if you’re talking about automobiles. But if you’re talking about motorcycles, a 1,650cc V-4 is a damn big baby! The high-end Motus MST sport-touring motorcycle is now in production. It’s hand-built in Alabama— Birmingham, to be exact. If that in total sounds unusual—American-made, hand-built, high-end, sporttouring motorcycle—that’s 2016 MOTUS MST/MSTR Base price: $30,975/ $36,975 Displacement: 1650cc Claimed wt.: 585/565 lb. Seat ht.: 32.0/33.5 in. Fuel capacity: 5.5 gal. Claimed hp: 165 @ 7600 rpm Claimed 123 lb.-ft. @ torque: 5000 rpm

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okay. It is unusual. Motus employs 14 people, including founders Lee Conn and Brian Case. The significance of this is that the MST (and its even higher-performance MSTR brother) is as finely detailed as any competition from around the globe. While the MST’s base price of $30,975 might be beyond the reach of most enthusiasts, it’s fairly in line with other topshelf offerings. The Motus doesn’t have the electronic rider’s aids of other brands, but it does come with some nifty intangibles. There’s something inherently cool about riding a brandnew motorcycle with the individuals who created it. This experience isn’t reserved just for journalists; Conn leads demo rides at events all around the country. Every rider, and every Motus buyer, gets to have a personal relationship with the founders. It’s impossible to put a price on that sort of cool factor. All Motuses are hand-built from the crankshaft up by a team that functions like a seasoned pit crew operating under the expectation that mistakes aren’t allowed. It’s a human who turned that screw, tightened those bolts, torqued that fastener… That’s more cool factor. Creators Conn and Case

are the very humans who rode these bikes on the salt at Bonneville to set official landspeed records for the world’s fastest pushrod-engined production motorcycle. They also rode the bikes to and from Bonneville, after personally doing thousands of develop-

mental test miles. They are nothing less than what every enthusiast would like to think a maker of motorcycles is, like George Brough or maybe Soichiro Honda. While Conn and Case toured the country meeting with prospective dealers, they


IT’S FAIR TO SAY A DOWNSIZED HALFA-V-8 IS A “BABY” IF YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT AUTOMOBILES. BUT IF YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT MOTORCYCLES, A 1,650CC V-4 IS A DAMN BIG BABY!

sussed out the importance of making the MST easy to work on. Technologies that didn’t conform to that were abandoned, and some internal engine parts are borrowed from proven applications with billions of miles behind them. Long live pushrods!

After handing off MST number 00001 to their neighbors at the Barber Motorcycle Museum, Motus is now selling production bikes through its dealer network. Sure, an enthusiast can purchase a Motus out of economic nationalism. What really has meaning,

however, isn’t that this bike is made in America but that it’s made of America. The MST isn’t just American by design and manufacture; it’s American by feel and culture. If you value purity of performance, an unhindered riding experience, and

the exotica of a hand-built American hot-rod motorcycle strangely capable of real-world sport-touring, stop by a Motus dealer. And then go visit Birmingham—no passport needed. Plus, the Motus comes with a two-year, unlimitedmileage warranty. CYCLEWORLD.COM 45


SUPERBIKE WITH SOUL THE YAMAHA YZF-R1 WELDS PERFORMANCE AND PLEASURE BY MARK HOYER PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF ALLEN

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ure, it will murder any racetrack and devour your favorite back road without a hint of indigestion. And yet. The more time we spend on our long-term Yamaha YZF-R1, the more we realize what a fabulous all-around streetbike it is. Suspension is firm and ultra-controlled

yet totally livable—compliant even. That high-level precision that makes the fastest lap of your life seem so serene and almost easy makes it one of the most buttoned-down streetbikes you can buy. And then there’s the matter of how it sounds and runs. It’s excellent in stock form, but our swap to a Yoshimura


pipe and a re-flash of the stock ECU by Flash Tune has filled in the less-than-8,500rpm zone and boosted peak output to 176 horses. Other bikes make power in this neighborhood, and the BMW S1000RR even exceeds that number, but the crossplane crank adds a staccato sound to this forward fury that somehow seems to infuse this inanimate object with an animal heart. So in addition to making you feel like a better rider, the R1 also simply makes you feel better.

SINGLE PURPOSE YAMAHA’S SR400: KICK IT AND SMILE

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he English sometimes called it the “commencer lever,” and it’s a rare streetbike today that asks your leg for a kick to get going. Even Royal Enfield puts an electric starter (along with the kick lever) on its Bullet 500 variants. But it’s that very commitment to kick-only starting that’s key to the fundamental charm of the Yamaha SR400. The nice thing here is that this fuel-injected 399cc single is not hard to start when you follow the drill. In this round of testing with hundreds of miles under its belt, the bike has started on the first kick all but one time and never stalls. Thank the hearty flywheel inertia and an ECU that knows how to keep the thumping pulse alive, hot or cold. Peak power is just 22 wee ponies, which sometimes means the motivated Nissan Rogue driver can give you a run for your money. But you’ll be having a peak life experience shifting perfectly at the 7,000-rpm redline all the way to an indicated 95 mph in fifth. That poor

bastard in the Rogue will hardly know he’s alive. With any luck, he’ll realize he’s been wasting his life and learn the purity and focus it takes to kick himself into a singular means of better living. —Mark Hoyer

CYCLEWORLD.COM 47


2016 HUSQVARNA 701 SUPERMOTO AND ENDURO THE STREETS JUST GOT A WHOLE LOT MEANER BY JEFF ALLEN PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF HUSQVARNA 48 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

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wenty-two hours from door to door brings me to a small village in southern Portugal known as Lagos. It’s a beautiful summertime oasis for Europeans bound for holiday. But it’s not summertime, and I’m not here on vacation. This is where Husqvarna has gathered a small group of moto-press to unveil two new

motorcycles in its growing lineup: the 2016 701 Supermoto and Enduro. These two bikes mark a logical direction for the supermoto pioneer renowned for its off-road heritage. When KTM bought Husqvarna from BMW in 2013, the future began to look much brighter for the legendary Swedish marque. Shortly after the


A DAY PACKED FULL OF SUPERMOTO SHENANIGANS AND DUAL-SPORT EXCURSIONS SHOULD BE THE MOST FUN YOU CAN HAVE WITH YOUR CLOTHES ON.

change of ownership, promises were made to improve product quality and expand the model line. Today those promises are being kept. Expect the trend to continue, as spokesmen hinted about more product announcements coming soon. While the 701 Supermoto and Enduro are new to the Husqvarna lineup and are a major step forward for the brand in the street market, they are not altogether new machines. The two share their platforms not only with each other but also with two sister KTM models, the 690 SMC and Enduro. Beating at the heart of both Huskies is a SOHC, fourvalve, 690cc (102.0 x 84.5mm) single-cylinder engine boasting a claimed 67 peak horsepower and 49 pound-feet of torque. Engine management is handled by a 46mm Keihin throttle body with ride-bywire technology (a ďŹ rst for any Husqvarna motorcycle) and three ride modes: Standard, Soft, and Advanced. The chrome-moly steel-trellis frame is manufactured by yet another sister company, WP Performance Systems. The molded polyamide rear subframe pulls double duty as both a structural component

and a fuel tank. As on all KTM and Husqvarna motorcycles, WP also provides the fully adjustable suspension. Up front is a separate-function fork with the right leg dedicated to rebound damping and the left to compression, while out back is a single, linkageactuated, gas-charged shock. Rider aids include a Magura hydraulically actuated slipper clutch and an advanced Bosch ABS that is capable of being switched off. An optional plug-in under the seat gives the rider a third setting that provides ABS to the front wheel only. The 701 Supermoto rides on 17-inch wire-spoke wheels shod with tubeless Continental ContiAttack supermoto tires, while the Enduro is outďŹ tted with 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels wrapped with 2016 HUSQVARNA 701 SUPERMOTO/701 ENDURO Base price: TBA Displacement: 690cc Claimed wt.: 320 lb. Seat ht.: 35.0/35.8 in. Fuel capacity: Claimed hp: Claimed torque:

3.4 gal. 67 @ 7000 rpm 49 lb.-ft. @ 6500 rpm CYCLEWORLD.COM 49


Continental TKC 80 knobbies. Brembo is responsible for stopping power with a fourpiston front caliper on the Supermoto and a two-piston front on the Enduro, each with a single-piston rear. A day packed full of supermoto shenanigans and dualsport excursions should be the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Considerably less so is waking up to the

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sound of strong winds and torrential rain—our parade had officially been rained on! It would be an exaggeration to say “of biblical proportions,” but flooding in nearby villages was shown on the evening news—not ideal conditions for evaluating motorcycles. Yet despite our dampened spirits, we managed to get in some riding and learned a few things about the bikes.


Big-bore singles have a reputation for being buzzy. With the 701 there is a bit of vibration, but it’s not at an unpleasant level. In fact, while straight-lining it down the highway I made a concerted effort to notice vibration and could not force myself to be annoyed by it. Watching water splash back and forth in my half-filled goggles, as if I were scuba diving, was another matter! The Enduro displayed more vibration than the Supermoto on the pave-

ment due to its knobby tires. Navigating the slippery back roads surrounding the famed Portimão race circuit provided an excellent opportunity to evaluate the power delivery. Lacking the sins of many ride-by-wire motorcycles, the Keihin EFI delivered power in a smooth, predictable manner. There was no noticeable dead spot, delay, or lurching. “Invisible” is the word that comes to mind, which is a good thing. Splashing down wide,

rain-soaked trails, the Enduro behaved quite well for a 320-pound dirtbike—this despite the shallow depth of the knobs, which preferred to spin rather than grip in such conditions. Keeping the ABS switched to the front-only setting, I was able to slide the rear to get the bike pivoted and pointed out of turns—a useful feature when riding aggressively off-road. Situating the fuel tank at the rear of the bike shifts weight away from the front,

giving the steering a lighter feel. It also makes the bike feel narrower when the rider is standing and allows the rider to slide farther forward while seated. Mother Nature may have prevented a full riding experience this time, but she couldn’t dampen our enthusiasm for these two motorcycles. Husqvarna plans to have 701s Stateside as early as March, and we can’t wait to throw a leg over them in more suitable conditions. CYCLEWORLD.COM 51


2016 DUCATI SCRAMBLER URBAN ENDURO THE GREAT ESCAPE BY DON CANET PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF ALLEN

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ew motion-picture actors have possessed a cool cachet rivaling that of Steve McQueen— doubly so considering McQueen’s starring role in The Great Escape and inclusion among a cast of true-life motorcycle racing characters in the iconic motorcycle fi lm On Any Sunday. Call it a mild case of nostalgia neurosis, but riding the Ducati Scrambler Urban Enduro while geared up in a retro-inspired waxed-cotton combat boots and an openface helmet/goggle combo felt a bit too cool for school. Ducati’s Scrambler line of 52 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

air-cooled 803cc 90-degree V-twins, made up of a halfdozen models adorned in varying trim, is an exercise promoting self-expression of an owner’s character. The Urban Enduro, with its headlight grille, olive drab paint, wire-spoke wheels, skid plate, and vintage-look ribbed leather saddle evokes a spirit of adventure. The riding position harkens back to classic scramblers with an easy reach to the ground and mid-height off-road handlebar with a cross brace. The aggressive tread of its Pirelli MT60 dual-sport tires suggests capability beyond the

paved path, and in practice, tackling fire roads and mild single-track is well within the Scrambler role. As a roadbike the Urban Enduro excels, its engine producing plenty of low-rpm torque for ultra-easy launches from traffic lights, with a healthy midrange delivery facilitating a steady pull up through its six-speed gearbox. Engine vibes build beyond 6,000 rpm, offering a tactile sense of when to shift. Top gear cruise at 6K nets an indicated 80 mph on the all-LCD instrument pod and a fairly smooth and rhythmic engine pulse. A pair of red shift lights illuminate to signal the impending rev ceiling at 9,000 rpm. Handling is light and stability true with abundant steering lock making sandbox play of parking-lot maneuvers. A single large-diameter 330mm floating front rotor clamped by a Brembo four-piston monoblock caliper provide excellent power and feel with

ABS included as a standard feature. As back in the day, suspension will prove the limiting factor in determining the Urban Enduro’s off-road character. The inverted 41mm Kayaba fork and single shock are of garden variety with shock preload the only adjustment. Short of jumping stone walls and barbed wire, the Ducati Scrambler Urban Enduro offers an affordable, stylish, and solid-performing platform upon which to launch your own great escape. 2016 DUCATI SCRAMBLER URBAN ENDURO Base price: $10,495 Displacement: 803cc Weight: 414 lb. Seat ht.: 31.6 in. Fuel capacity:

3.6 gal.

Horsepower:

67.7 @ 8240 rpm 45.7 lb.-ft. @ 7010 rpm

Torque:


INDIAN SCOUT SIXTY SMALLER PISTONS, FEWER GEARS, LOWER PRICE, SIMILARLY GREAT BIKE BY PETER JONES PHOTOGRAPHY BY TODD WILLIAMS

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ou’ve likely heard that the Indian Scout is an awesome motorcycle that provides a great riding experience on a great cruiser platform at a great price. But if that’s true, is a detuned version that’s missing 134cc (8ci) and a gear, weighs 4 pounds more, and costs $2,300 less a good value or a false economy? Putting the answer into just one sentence: The 2016 Scout Sixty isn’t missing a damn thing that takes away from the impressive riding experience of the Scout, and its $2,300 lower price should be looked at as a significant

added feature. The result is buyers feeling as though they’re getting more, not less. Plus, is there any bike in the Scout Sixty’s price niche/ displacement class with comparable performance, quality, and cost? No size of Scout is a performance motorcycle, so hard numbers don’t much matter. If a rider is regularly riding a Scout Sixty to redline, it’s the wrong bike. What does matter is feel, comfort, cool factor, character, and that this bike goes fast enough for fun—more than 100 mph—and carries two people up a steep hill in

any gear. We’re so spoiled with great bikes these days that one can forget that 65 pound-feet of torque and 78 claimed hp is nothing to pout about. Differences from the big Scout in broad strokes? The Sixty’s engine covers, wheels, air cleaner, and horn have more black; the Sixty has no logo plate on the front of the bike; its frame is black instead of charcoal; the seat is vinyl (there’s a leather option); one gear is missing (though fifth’s ratio is the same as the big Scout’s sixth); the steel-sleeved bores are smaller; and there’s altered mapping, weight, and price. That’s it. In detail, the Sixty has the same ECU hardware but different programing. The 4 pounds of added weight to the claimed 542 pounds dry is said to be the result of thicker-walled cylinder sleeves. The smaller bore is alone the 134cc difference—

down from 1,133 to 999—with the stroke unchanged for cylinder dimensions of 93 x 73.6mm. Yes, the engine is actually 61ci, not 60. Write that one off to the naming department. Another difference in feel is the rear suspension, which doesn’t clunk when the shocks top out, as did the original Scout. Indian says the top-out stops are softer and that all Scouts share that update. What is the same is limited suspension travel, but it’s pretty much normal for this class of bike. The Scout Sixty delivers a top-notch ride in a great-looking platform, and the price is cause for owner rejoice, not shame. Plus, another attraction of this bike is its mystery, which is the same one on the daddy Scout but slightly adjusted: Exactly where is the as-yet-unleashed 40-plus hp hiding inside this engine design? Your search starts at just $8,999.

CYCLEWORLD.COM 53


CW CUSTOM EL SOLITARIO’S BIG, BAD WOLF

THE BIG, BAD

WOLF I T ’ S D I F F I C U LT T O P I C T U R E N O W, but five years ago David Borras

AFTER HUFFING AND PUFFING, EL SOLITARIO WONDERS IF T WO DAYS OF INS TAFAME IS WORTH THE EFFORT

B y Pa u l d’O r l é a n s

54 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

wore a suit and a clean shave while striding the glass corridors of a globo-corporate

netherworld. In his free time, he collected and rode vintage bikes and, like thousands of others, watched the Internet change motorcycling via blogs and websites. “When we started five years ago, blogs were alive, and I met lots of people, and there was magic and collaboration,” Borras says. “Blogs were fantastic; that’s how I met you, Paul, and everyone. It was really fast; you got to know these guys through comments. It was a super-accurate relationship planner.” Borras penned the Southsiders MC into his datebook in June 2010, joining a nowlegendary ride through the mountains near Toulouse, France, which planted the seeds of the Wheels and Waves festival in Biarritz and a major career shift for Borras. He’d never built a motorcycle before, but as one of the most intelligent and articulate fellows you’re likely to meet, he’d soon convinced the right artisans to join him on the adventure known as El Solitario Motorcycle Club. Within a year he’d built some nowlegendary bikes, like the “La Sal del Diablo” Triumph (painted up by artist Ornamental Conifer), the “Baula” BMW cruiser (February 2013), and the “Winning Loser,” a rigid Yamaha SR250 with twin cylindrical tanks, dragster style. That’s a lot of

building in one year from a tiny shop, but Borras has no shortage of energy. In that same period he’d successfully branded his gang of co-creators as something of a pirate ship, building bikes without concern for what was trendy in the Alt.Custom scene, nor for what might actually sell. Each “signature” machine that emerged from their Galician workshop in northwestern Spain was idiosyncratic, to put it mildly, with their Impostor BMW R nineT (October 2013)—“the shopping cart dropped from a freeway overpass,” dubbed “the most hated motorcycle in the world” by us in these very pages—an impressive achievement even in a web scene spitting vitriol willy-nilly. The latest, and claimed last, El Solitario signature build is the “Big Bad Wolf,” a new Yamaha XJR1300 crafted for the factory’s Yard Built program. Although character rich, the BBW is a departure for this gang of selfdescribed “Galician cannibals,” with road performance the actual goal and almost all the construction subcontracted to esteemed fabricators and tuners. With many other hands building it, is this still an El Solitario motorcycle? “I can answer your question this way,” Borras says. “I was in Berlin recently and visited with my father. We went to the Philharmonic for some Beethoven, with Sir Simon Rattle conducting. If you’d asked Rattle how he kept his identity conducting the symphony, he wouldn’t have kicked you out the back door—he’d have kicked you out the front door! Nobody moves a f—king stone at El Sol without me setting the tempo!”


THE WOLF IS MORE LIKE A RAP STAR’S BULLDOG, WITH A JAWS-Y ALUMINUM GRILLE CREATED BY THAT ONEOFF CURVED OIL COOLER

CYCLEWORLD.COM 55


CW CUSTOM EL SOLITARIO’S BIG, BAD WOLF Okay, it’s David’s bike. But after BMW’s PR disaster with the Impostor, why did Yamaha stoke El Solitario’s campfire? “Regarding the Big Bad Wolf, there’s an amazing photograph with Shun Miyazawa [product manager at Yamaha Europe] and me at the Lighthouse in Biarritz [at the 2014 Wheels and Waves festival]. I was quite drunk, and the Impostor is in front of us. We’re sitting in the sunset, and he was asking me, ‘Please, David, you’d put me in trouble if you build something like this.’ In a very personal way he made me promise him I wouldn’t go really crazy on this exercise.” Borras was offered any bike in the Yamaha catalog and passed over the SR series (“too many of them”) and the plastic-clad race replicas, preferring the everyman quality of the venerable four-cylinder XJ series. Still, he’d never previously considered a four. “When the bike was delivered, I really hated it,” Borras says. “I don’t understand fourcylinder bikes—to ride or to look at. They’re just a frame with a big motor in it. But I wanted to work with Yamaha and a company rather than customers—I don’t get along with customers. The XJR1300 was the least complicated bike of their catalog, but what do I do with this?” What he did was ignore it for six months. “The bike stayed untouched from October through last April,” he explains. “I hadn’t done anything, had destroyed all my drawings, nothing sat with me. So ultimately I thought, ‘Let’s do a racing bike. Let’s do something different.’ I don’t know anything about racing—this gave me an opportunity to learn. So I called Mauro Abbadini [of Classic Co. in Spain]. He’d organized the 56 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

“I SPENT THREE MONTHS 24/7 ON THIS BIKE; THIS WAS THE BIGGEST PROJECT I’VE DONE BY FAR!”

Deccla six-hour endurance race in Cartagena, he’s won roadraces and endurance championships, he’s the most respected classic race guy in Spain, and he’s an engineer and one of the only guys from the old school who always liked what I did. I called him and he said yes.” While it’s common in custom circles to farm out engines, paint jobs, metalwork, and frame mods to the experts, El Sol had always hammered, welded, and tattooed its machines at home on the farm while grandma notoriously beheaded chickens with a dull ax for their daily meal. The environment makes

for potent and slightly raw machines. How is BBW different? “If you look at the Big Bad Wolf, you can see I didn’t make it physically,” Borras explains. “My typical mess is not for the expensive guys; they like a slickness, which for me is boring, even if it’s very difficult. I chose Mauro because he’s like Dr. Death—everything he touches is surgical, totally perfect, and spotless. I designed the shapes, took the bike apart, and sent him the motor. He put in titanium rods and ported the heads, and bought Lectron carbs. Everyone from Dynatec to Roland Sands said, ‘Don’t use Lectron carbs.

They’re impossible!’ But Mauro insisted because he wins races with them.” With the motor away, Borras shaped the tailsection and bellypan, which were replicated in carbon fiber at Classic Co., and sorted the overall look of this uncharacteristically muscular beast. “I spent three months 24/7 on this bike; this was the biggest project I’ve done by far!” Borras says. “We spent 3,000 euros on FedEx alone. I got almost everyone, like 20 companies, to work on it just for the passion, and that took a lot of emails. In the end we used custom everything, all of it super cool and the best


available.” BBW was meant to be finished for the 2015 Wheels and Waves festival, but that extended sit in the corner meant June passed right by. The next possible runwhat-ya-brung Alt.Custom dragrace was Glemseck 101, a three-day motofest near Stuttgart, and El Solitario’s principal competition would be a pair of purpose-built dragsters: the Lucky Cat Garage Sprintbeemer and the Young Guns Speed Shop Moto Guzzi. “Miraculously, our bike won; that was super cool,” Borras says. The Big Bad Wolf was publicly debuted a month after winning its run at Glemseck,

with the new-normal barrage of photos and video accompanying an Alt.Custom/ factory collaboration. Nobody trashed the bike (beside the usual iHaters), as the BBW is beautifully built and oozes the kind of character one expects from El Sol. The Wolf is more like a rap star’s bulldog, with a Jaws-y aluminum grille created by that one-off curved oil cooler (by Madrid’s Taleo Tecnoracing). Death Spray Customs, arguably the world’s most innovative paint shop at the moment, made the trippy-Tron graphics and wrapped sponsor logos around the bellypan, the kind of thank-you/FU sentiment we expect from our Galician

friends. While the Wolf’s scale is beefy, a mix of carbon (bodywork, Dymag wheels), titanium (Asahina Racing exhaust), and aluminum (Over Racing swingarm and rearsets, custom bracketry by Classic Co.) keep the weight a fighting-trim 403 pounds. The suspension is top-notch K-Tech/Novatech, and the amazing six-pot front calipers, rotors, rear brakes, and hand controls are Swedish ISR bits. It’s a proper race mix, which Borras notes is a bit over the top: “We just spent a shit-load of money to make a slow bike fast, instead of starting with a fast bike. As usual with El Solitario, it’s totally stupid.” The net result when

Yamaha’s press machine combined with the global Alt. Custom media? According to Borras, pretty much nada. “The life of the Big Bad Wolf press release was just two days,” he says. “The explosion of custom builders today is a super-pollution. The category is so crowded, the odds are heavily stacked against brands. It’s good in a way that there’s so much activity, and this is good for El Solitario as a company but not for high-stakes signature creations. For us to amortize a three-month build, which only lasts three days on the interwebs, means we are wasting resources. So I’m quitting building ‘signature’ bikes for a while, as I need some perspective. I should have quit after the Impostor, but collaborating to create the Big Bad Wolf showed me a new path. Learning how to collaborate has changed everything. I’m hoping we can do the same in the clothing industry.” El Solitario isn’t finished with bikes; two wheels roll way too deep in their souls. But David Borras notes that every serious custom builder he knows doesn’t have time to ride. “So I’m concentrating on riding more, and traveling, and writing, as well as designing motorcycle clothes and parts. And…cars! We’re gonna open a whole new world. Provocation doesn’t have to be constrained to a motorcycle, so let’s push the boundaries a little more.” So we’ll see even more denim and ultra-cool riding gear from El Sol it seems, and there’s no doubt we’ll see the pirate flag flying over new Galician custom bikes too. But we might see a really scary 4x4 first, complete with fourth-generation Spanish anarchists in rabbit masks hurling smoke bombs. Keep your video camera handy. CYCLEWORLD.COM 57


COOL COOLANT TIP  WING AND A PRAYER  BEST USED BIKE

BY RAY NIERLICH

 Supermoto salute on Suzuki’s DR-Z400SM is best served warm, never overcooked. For another trick, we explain how to add coolant to its overflow bottle.

58 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016


SERVICE ADDING COOLANT TO A DR-Z

Q:

I own a 2005 Suzuki DR-Z400SM. How do I top up the coolant overflow bottle? JARRAD AGIUS BERMAGUI, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA

A:

I like to see just a splash of coolant in the overflow bottle when cold. Since Suzuki was kind enough to place the bottle on your bike in a most inaccessible spot, above the swingarm pivot, topping it off requires some creativity. You could pop the hose off and fill with a syringe. How safe and boring. I cheat by using the cooling system pressure to fill the bottle. It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. Make sure your radiator is full when cold. Check the bleed screw opposite the radiator cap to be sure all the air is out. Warm up the bike just until you see some coolant forced into the overflow bottle by expansion. Warm, not hot! Turn the bike off. Slowly and carefully (wear gloves and goggles) twist the radiator cap, releasing the pressure. Leave the cap loose until cool. Top up your radiator once more and refit the radiator cap.

A GOLD WING’S COMPLICATED BINDERS

Q:

I bought a used 2008 Honda Gold Wing GL1800 (non ABS) with 43,000 miles. The foot brake was a little spongy. I read the service manual and bled the brakes. I replaced the fluid with fresh DOT 4. I proceeded to bleed the brakes and was at first unable to bleed the rear brake caliper. After much persistence, what looked like a “mucus” plug came out. After that, the brakes appeared to be much more responsive. While bleeding the brakes I noticed that someone had separated the antidive plunger with washers, causing it not to contact as soon as it was designed. I removed the washers and replaced the two bolts with new ones. While braking at speeds below 20 mph, the foot brake chatters. If I brake hard, the brakes work flawlessly. Could the clog of old fluid have anything to do with my problem, or is there a defect in the system that caused someone to put the washers in the anti-dive plunger to

stop the chattering? I have received a recall for the brake system that says the rear brake could hang up and overheat. The letter says there is not a fix but to keep watch over the brakes to see if they are overheating. Thanks for any advice you can provide. TERRY TURGEAU CYCLEWORLD.COM

Jeff Allen

APRILIA RSV MILLE

A:

I doubt the “clog” caused your problems. It certainly is a sign that the system hasn’t had the fluid changed every two years, as recommended. Deferred maintenance is fool’s economy. The Gold Wing 1800 has a clever, but quite complex, braking system: no less than three master cylinders, three calipers (each with three pistons), an anti-dive valve, a delay valve, and a proportional control valve (PCV). Whew! I have to assume the previous owner shimmed the anti-dive valve to correct some perceived fault, most likely sticking on and giving a harsh ride. I don’t see any valid reason for doing this and would put it back to stock, as you have done. When in doubt, always put modifications back to stock first. This anti-dive valve, as well as the rest of your system, probably could stand a rebuild. The pulsation is almost certainly from a warped rotor, as on any other bike with disc brakes. Not like any other bike though, the foot pedal works one piston in the rear caliper, one in the right front caliper, and two in the left front caliper. This is where it really gets complicated. With the application of either brake lever, when rolling, the left front caliper rotates up against the third master, applying two more rear pistons as well as more pressure to all the other pistons. So it could be any or all of the three rotors causing the pulsation. I would suspect the rear rotor first, since you say it seems okay on hard braking, and also this is the brake affected by the recall. Double-check that Honda won’t do something regarding the recall. For a short, college-level course on Gold Wing braking systems, go to one of the Gold Wing forums and read the volumes of info: goldwingfacts.com/forums/2-goldwing-technical-forum/377202-gl1800anti-dive-update.html.

GOT A MECHANICAL OR TECHNICAL PROBLEM with your beloved ride? Perhaps we can help. Contact us at cwservice@cycleworld.com with your questions. We cannot guarantee a reply to every inquiry. PHOTOGRAPHY BY

BEST USED BIKES

YEARS SOLD: 1999–2003 MSRP NEW: $13,499 (’99) to $13,499 (’03) BLUE BOOK RETAIL VALUE: $3,170 (’99) to $4,390 (’03) BASIC SPECS: A 998cc, liquid-cooled, 60-degree Rotax V-twin with electronic fuel injection, DOHC, four valves per cylinder, and a unique pneumatic slipper clutch serves as a stressed member of the RSV’s twin-beam alloy frame. The engine is more compact than a 90-degree configuration but also has more inherent vibration. Aprilia soothed those shakes with its clever AVDC (AntiVibration Double Countershaft) system. Midlife updates included revised styling, an upgraded shock, and the use of Brembo monoblock calipers while the final year of production saw closer gearbox ratios. WHY IT’S DESIRABLE: The RSV Mille— Italian for “thousand”—holds the distinction of being the first large-displacement motorcycle produced by Aprilia. Upon its Stateside debut, the Mille far exceeded our expectations in performance and refinement. Power delivery is strong and seamless, gear changes are smooth and light, and the handling strikes a nice balance between agility and stability, with good feedback. The engine has proven to be very reliable, thus adding value and appeal for those seeking a pre-owned Italian sport machine. THE COMPETITION: Aprilia’s Mille and Mille R helped fuel a golden era of V-twin superbikes with Ducati 996, 998, and 999 models along with the Suzuki TL1000R and Honda RC51 all going head to head on both street and track. During the Mille’s tenure, Superbike rules evolved from 750cc to the current 1,000cc four-cylinder allowance, with the Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Yamaha YZF-R1 leading the charge.

CYCLEWORLD.COM 59


ROSSI VS. MARQUEZ  LORENZO WINS  MICHELIN TIRES  SPEC ECU  ONE CLASS FOR ALL

THE VIEW FROM INSIDE THE PADDOCK

CLOSE RACING OR SOMETHING ELSE? Harsh words off the track and strong actions on it led to a dark cloud over MotoGP, dividing Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez fans and even countries. Undeterred Jorge Lorenzo continued to rack up points, completing 2015 with two wins, two seconds, a third, and at Valencia, his third premier-class title.

60 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016


MOTOGP RACE WATCH

MOTOGP UNDERCURRENTS Where we’ve been and examining the forces in play for the 2016 MotoGP season By Kevin Cameron

T

he obvious ious now-and-future contest conte in a Yamaha. MotoGP iss between Honda and Ducati, Suzuki, and Aprilia strive to rise into contention, but only Honda or Yamaha has won a race since 2010. Contests within the contest are the still-undecided ongoing collision between the 125/250-inspired corner-speed style of Jorge Lorenzo and others on Yamaha and the dirt-track-originated style of the Honda men, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, which by compressing braking and turning into the smallest distance practicable, leaves the rest of the corner for a quick lift-up and acceleration. Lorenzo works his tire the whole way around a turn, but the Honda Way is on the tire edges a much shorter time (Dani Pedrosa says they wish it could be longer!). Yet just when we thought we’d got used to Marquez, waiting for Lorenzo’s tire to be cooked so he could dart past for the win, Lorenzo at Valencia comes up with a way to keep Mr. Smiles at bay PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Mark Wernham

CYCLEWORLD.COM 61


RACE WATCH MOTOGP

WINNING AGAIN: After a risky procedure for arm-pump, Dani Pedrosa turned his season around. We’ve never seen the three-time world champion smile so much.

until the flag. How? Maybe 2016 will tell us. Riders adapt and machines are adapted. Other forces are at work. Next year Michelin takes over from Bridgestone as spec tire supplier. All the teams acknowledge that 2016 will be an invisible race to develop chassis and riding style to the new tires. When I asked at Valencia what kinds of changes will be needed, I was told to review what was done back in 2008 to make Bridgestones work, then reverse it! 2015 CHAMPION: Will Michelin’s return help or hinder Yamaha’s corner-speed advantage? Too early to tell.

62 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

The first visible sign of readaptation was front and rear wheels moved forward to their adjustment limits, shifting engine weight to the rear. At Laguna 2008, Rossi had needed to brake 45 feet earlier for the top of the Corkscrew on Bridgestones than with Michelins. Nothing seemed to work. Then Rossi’s engineer Jeremy Burgess counterintuitively raised the bike and the 45 feet disappeared. A higher CG more forcefully transferred weight forward during braking,

speeding up the growth of front grip by working and heating the tire. This became the center of making Bridgestones work—to actively drive heat into them. Riders in 2015’s Michelin tests have praised the rear as “super-grippy” but have reservations about the front, which at present limits corner entry and exit. In tests, those least affected by the switch have in general been riders already experienced with the special Open Class soft Bridgestone rear—most notably


MOTOGP RACE WATCH

MORE TO GIVE? After season-long control of the championship, Valentino Rossi’s two-year plan to win a 10th world title fell five points short.

Maverick Viñales, who was second in the last Michelin test. Engines, once so central to Grand Prix performance (the 500s doubled in power in the 20 years after 1975), are also divided in nature. The rider needs power, but to get more of it, the engine’s rpm range of power delivery must be sacrificed; top speed and rideability are opposed. This too has divided Honda and Yamaha— Honda going for power, Yamaha a few mph slower, going for a wider power range. It was to bridge this divide that electronics first

came into being. The primary tool has been the virtual powerband, implemented through the nowfamiliar throttle-by-wire system. As an engine is made more powerful, its torque curve develops hard-to-ride features—peaks, valleys, and regions of steep increase that a human throttle hand cannot traverse. Virtual powerband fills in the valleys by opening the throttle and trims the peaks by closing it, just as the fast-moving “tail feathers” of an F/A-18 keep it smoothly on the glide path to the carrier. The rider perceives not peaks and valleys but a smoothed torque curve. There are limits to how rough an engine can be acceptably smoothed, and Honda may have committed a strategic error by exceeding them in 2015. Since 1993, the steady march of chassis to ever higher stiffness has halted, and recent seasons in MotoGP have seen Yamaha and Honda testing one after another chassis or swingarm in hope that the correct flexure of those

parts at maximum lean (which has reached 64 degrees from the vertical!) can absorb pavement roughness to keep tires hooked up (see “Feeling the Edge,” November 2015). With a more rigid chassis, tires skip from bump crest to bump crest, with zero grip between. Yet as all in the paddock know, the wrong kind of chassis flexure can lead straight to either chatter or outright instability. If you carefully follow what the riders are saying, you know chatter is still with us. As so often in life, solutions to known problems discover or create new problems. When asked, “What in MotoGP do you find most unusual?” Marquez answered, “The front Bridgestone tire. You can just keep loading it.” The more you work it, the hotter it gets, and the better it grips—making possible the severe brake problems encountered by Ben Spies at Motegi in 2012; front grip enabled him to brake hard enough to push his CYCLEWORLD.COM 63


RACE WATCH MOTOGP MARQUEZ REBOUND? Following 13 wins in 2014, the Spanish star fell six times last season.

discs into 1,000-degree Celsius heat failure in three laps. Riders are now allowed the option of heavier, wheel-fi lling 340mm discs, but we surely have not seen the end of this. Budgets are annual, but technical rules are subject to change at any time. That means a team may have to redirect their “R&D hose” on to new areas when other areas are denied. Top teams will get six engines per rider in 2016, with an in-season development freeze. That de-emphasizes expensive engine development, so where do the liberated R&D dollars then go? This season we’ve seen the top teams pull away even farther from their satellites. When riders like Marquez or Casey Stoner have said they’ve used almost no traction control in certain corners, listeners think they’ve turned off the electronics. Think again: When the garbled complex three-axis signals from on-board Inertial Measuring Units (IMUs) are subjected to Fourier and other analyses, previously unsuspected 64 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

chassis motions have been discovered and ways to stabilize them devised. The result may be more stable and faster corner entry. This is science in service to vehicle dynamics. In the Bell X-1, pilot Chuck Yeager had to fly weeks of stability tests at precise speed increments to map the growth of that aircraft’s instability as it approached the speed of sound, but an IMU would have seen it immediately. Will next year’s “common software” and spec ECU put an end to such science? This is yet another of MotoGP’s point/counterpoints. The business side wants lower-cost “bowling-ball bikes” so that more teams and sponsors may join the series and compete. The factories value racing as an essential R&D activity. Neither side feels the other’s motivations, so the situation oscillates between favoring the rules-makers or the teams. When engines became a denied area, flexible chassis development increased rapidly. When spec ECUs were

required, interest shifted to IMU data, enabling rapid progress in stable corner entry. Riders already wear sophisticated crashdetection electronics in their “inflatable Batman suits.” What other electronics might they carry in the future? Racing has given itself a public-relations black eye through the accusations and counter-accusations resulting from the Rossi-Marquez encounters at Phillip Island and Sepang, culminating in contact between their bikes, Marquez’s

FIRST YEAR: Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaró (above) won pole at Catalunya but finished 11th overall, one spot ahead of teammate Maverick Viñales.


MOTOGP RACE WATCH fall, and Rossi’s penalty start from last position at Valencia, still leading the championship by seven points. By beating the two Hondas and winning Valencia with Rossi lost in fourth place, Lorenzo became champion. More than enough has been said, both by the riders and by nearly everyone else, and the quality of the “debate” has been embarrassingly poor. Because of the godlike skills of MotoGP’s top riders, we unconsciously expect excellence in all things from them and are disappointed when they reveal “feet of clay” like our own. You can be sure that tedious emergency meetings have been held and wordy contract penalty clauses added, the gist of which is, “Least said, soonest mended.” As stated above, only the eternal rivals Yamaha and Honda have won since Phillip Island 2010. Does Dorna, the business side, truly base rules on cutting

costs so more teams will join, increasing competition? Those goals were ill served by leaving Ducati out so long. Honda resents Ducati’s two successful years, 2003 and 2007, calling them “pirates,” and threatened to leave the series if common software or a rev limit were imposed.

Common software is here, but Honda remains. What bargain brought this result? If “more teams equal more competition,” was legal action the best play to keep Kawasaki in the series after 2009? The politics are unseen, so we look for their effects. There will be racing.

BOLOGNA BULLET: Scott Redding struggled all season on a factory Honda, but aboard a Ducati in post-season testing he topped the time sheets.

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9128 Marshall Dr Lenexa 913.307.0420 3236 N Rock Rd #140 Wichita 316.854.1097 KENTUCKY

MISSOURI

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2052 Lincoln Hwy (Rte 27) Edison 732.248.7737 2070 East ROUTE 70, Cherry Hill 856.874.8766 65 Route 17 South Hasbrouck Heights 201.257.5985 NEW MEXICO

5000 Cutler Ave NE Albuquerque 505.830.4500

215 S. Hurstbourne Pky NEW YORK Louisville 137 N. Broadway 502.426.9746 Hicksville 516.806.5918

388 Tarrytown Rd White Plains 914.368.6974 NEVADA

344 S. Decatur Blvd Las Vegas 702.877.4327 6280 S. Pecos Rd. Las Vegas (E) 702.435.0635 NORTH CAROLINA

544 N McPherson Church Rd Fayetteville 910.860.8200 3916 E Franklin Blvd Gastonia 704.824.1820 3407 High Point Rd Greensboro 336.297.4250 11328 ‘B’ East Independence Blvd Matthews (Ch) 704.846.0440 336 Tryon Rd Raleigh 919.329.7858 OHIO

25102 Brookpark Rd. North Olmsted 440.249.7591 OKLAHOMA

2717 Northwest Exy Oklahoma City 405.842.0111 6701-A East 41st St Tulsa 918.384.0608

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OREGON

8930 S.E. Stark St Portland 503.257.7047 180 Lancaster N.E. Salem 503.589.1515 3137 Gateway St Springfield 541.747.1575

1677 Gallatin Pike N Madison 615.612.6234 6343 Summer Ave Memphis 901.371.9692 TEXAS

10900 Gulf Fwy Houston (A) 713.941.3364 PENNSYLVANIA 9070 Research Blvd 2229 Lehigh St Austin Allentown 512.302.0700 610.791.9880 1424-F Airport Fwy 4848 William Flynn Hwy Bedford Allison Park 817.545.7939 724.444.4260 3032 Alta Mere Dr 3462 Paxton St. Fort Worth Harrisburg 817.696.9700 717.773.4324 10998 North Freeway 160 Baltimore Pike Houston (G) Springfield 281.448.3700 610.328.9811 2301 N. Central Expwy RHODE ISLAND Plano 1400 Bald Hill Rd 214.473.8044 Warwick 9975 IH-10 West 401.262.5037 San Antonio 210.558.8700 SOUTH CAROLINA 817 St. Andrews Rd 7204 Southwest Fwy Columbia Houston (S) 803.750.9294 713.271.5201 2017 Wade Hampton Blvd UTAH Greenville 78 E 11400 S 864.322.6626 Draper 4400 Dorchester Rd 801.553.2150 N. Charleston VIRGINA 843.974.6460 1547 E Little Creek Rd Norfolk TENNESSEE 757.480.5680 268 North Peters Rd Knoxville 7000 Spring Garden Dr. 865.560.5657 Springfield 703.940.0958

WASHINGTON

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19035 W. Bluemound Rd Brookfield 262.649.1999 4104 E. Washington Ave. Madison 608.234.5153

Retailers MINNESOTA

Bob’s Cycle Supply 65 West Viking Dr. St. Paul 651.482.8181 OHIO

Kames Sports Center 8516 Cleveland Ave. NW North Canton 330.499.4558


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70 CYCLE WORLD MARCH 2016

READER INFORMATION

Editorial/Production: Offices are located at 15215 Alton Pkwy., Ste. 100, Irvine, CA 92618; (760) 707-0100. Editorial contributions are welcomed but must be guaranteed exclusive to Cycle World. We are not responsible for the return of unsolicited material unless accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Letters: All letters cannot be answered, and neither can all Service inquiries be answered. We appreciate correspondence sent or emailed to the editorial offices and will use the most interesting and appropriate letters in the magazine. Slipstream: We’re looking for stunning photos that capture the essence of our sport and remind us why we love motorcycling so much. Send your best shot to intake@cycleworld.com, being sure to include the word “Slipstream” in the subject line. Subscription/customer service: One year: US & Possessions = $15, Canada = $25, and Foreign = $35. International orders must be paid in advance and in US funds only. Call US and Canada: (800) 456-3084, (515) 237-3697. Mail: Cycle World, PO Box 6364, Harlan, IA 51593. Web: cycleworld.com/cs. Back issues: To order a back issue dated within the past two years, please go to backissues.cycleworld.com.

Photographer: Bavo Swijgers/ Red Bull Content Pool

Sand, sand ruts, and sand whoops. Held in the seaside town of Scheveningen, Netherlands, the Red Bull Knock Out is no day at the beach.

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The Scrambler Inspiration was built for off-road use only. Availability of exhausts, rear mudguard removal kits and indicators are governed by local legislation. Please check with your local authorized Triumph dealer for availability.


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