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By Big Dave. A selection of some of my favourite articles published in Kiwi Rider Magazine between its November 2008 re-launch My formula for evaluating motorcycles and reporting on bike events is simple. If I was interested in this particular bike or event, what would I want to know about it? There aren’t any bad motorcycles these days. No hinged frames or rapidly fading brakes. Not amongst the brands that I’ve tested in these pages anyway. They have all been `fit for purpose’ and I’ve tried to focus on what and who the Bike is for. (And not dwell too long on what a phat time I’ve had finding it all out!) I started riding motorcycles as a Toddler in 1961 when my Grandfather built me a lawn mower engine powered mini-bike. My mum tells me I used to ride around and around the clothesline till it ran out of fuel. All I can really remember about the machine is burning myself on the exhausts. But it’s something I’m reminded of every time I’ve burned myself on an exhaust in the ensuing 49 years of being a motorcycle enthusiast. I’ve been publishing on the internet since I invented it, in the late 1800’s, and am honoured to have been contributing KIWIRIDER content for 10 of the magazine’s 25 years. Hope it provided some useful info, a bit of fun and a few grins along the way. Thank You to my Publisher, Editor, The other Photogs and the Co-pilot. David Cohen Auckland May 2010

Bike ............................................................................Page Buell 1125CR .....................................................................3 Victory Vegas 8 Ball ..........................................................5 Moto Guzzi Bellagio .........................................................11 Honda Fury ..................................................................... 13 Honda Goldwing.............................................................. 16 Victory Hammer.............................................................. 19 2010 Harleys ...................................................................23 Can-Am Spyder ...............................................................26 Arlen Ness Vision Tour ...................................................30 2009 Burt Munro Challenge ............................................38 Rocket III Roadster ........................................................ 44 Tiger 1050 .......................................................................47 Triumph Thunderbird .....................................................50 Yamaha V-Max ................................................................55 H-D Electra Glide Limited ...............................................56 Guzzi V7 And Bonneville SE............................................. 61 Harley Tri Glide...............................................................67 Honda Varadero ..............................................................70 Honda VFR1200 ...............................................................74 Victory Vision ..................................................................76 Kawasaki VL1700 ............................................................83


Channelling the spirit of café racers of olde Buell main-man Erik Buell has come up with the 1125 CR, a nominally ‘naked’ version of the only recently released Rotax-engined 1125 R. Big Dave has the story. KIWI RIDER 27


Sporty look and feel gives new pared down 1125 CR (here and opening page) a very different vibe to original Rotax-engined but fully-faired R model


nother run in with a Buell? Oh no! The last time the good folks at Auckland Motorcycles & Power Sports said, ‘Dave, we need a Buell demo bike shaken down and run-in before we put it on the fleet,’ I ended up buying it. Whether Ray and his crew knew that the XB12X was ‘my’ bike before I did, I don’t know, but when Sales Manager Bruce chucked me the keys to their new 1125CR I’m sure there was some sort of raised eyebrow, ‘you know what happened last time,’ glint in his eye. The overview of the 1125CR from the bike’s press kit begins: ‘Naked styling and clubman-style handlebars give a respectful nod to the nostalgic era of Café Racers.’ ‘Who wrote this?’ I guffawed at first glance. The handlebars part I will buy. Chris and the Zedman both had them on their Bonnevilles in the halcyon days of Shed Night. And the Ed confirmed as much when, as he cast a knowing eye over the demo bike, he looked back up to me and said; ‘Man! Clubman bars. I haven’t seen those since the ‘70s!’ Otherwise I thought the ‘nod at Café Racers ’ bit was a pretty long bow to draw!’


Cast your eyes again to the above photograph and tell me where the 1125CR nods at a BSA Gold Star. The seat cowl maybe? ‘But styled in a thoroughly modern package’ the blurb then goes on to qualify. ‘Erik Buell’s 21st century interpretation of the classic Café Racer is a new motorcycle that defies convention’. AND CR STANDS FOR? It’s about at this time that Bonehead Dave realises that CR stands for Café Racer, doh, and that the machine certainly is unconventional in the conventional Buell way. Like it’s faired brother, the 1125R, the CR features ‘The Buell Trilogy of Tech’ – chassis rigidity, centralised mass, and low unsprung weight – as we’ve covered in detail in tests on the 1125R and various XB models. Fuel in the frame, underslung muffler et al. What I did think their blurb also said well was; ‘Positioned behind the blackanodised, tapered aluminium handlebars and streamlined headlight and flyscreen, the rider has a wide-open view forward that intensifies the sensation of speed.’ I continue to favour naked bikes for road and street use for exactly this reason. It just feels like you are going faster when ‘out in it’ and all the licence keeping aspects that implies.

It’s handy because as Buell claims ‘at 170kg, the 1125CR is the lightest litreclass naked street motorcycle on the market, and combined with 146 horsepower, it offers the best power-to-weight ratio in the category.’ This thing really flies and the cornering exhilaration factor of punting along a twisty road is huge. It feels fast and potent and after a couple of very enjoyable weeks with the bike I’m pretty sure it’s not just ‘a sensation’ of speed. SINISTER STYLING That’s what the factory calls it. ‘Love it or hate it’ styling is what it really is. I’m sure some people won’t get past its unusual looks to appreciate the competence of the vehicle – while others of us love big ram-air scoops hanging off wild engines and have images of Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth’s Hot Rods with massive air scoops on their office walls. Yeah – count me amongst the ‘I love the styling’ brigade – I really like the way it makes the conventional folk go ‘what the?’ And I particularly like, in the way of all Buell’s designs, that it’s all done for a reason. The big side scoops house the radiators and fluid reservoir. Not only do they give a sort of ‘organic’ curve to the frontal aspect of the bike, they shift the mass of


water and radiator core towards the front axle. They also swing out of the way for easier access to the engine. I enjoyed the other styling cues as well. I had some ‘Transformers’ happening with the whole front end looks and I really like the contrasts of red and black and ‘heavy industry’ looks to the whole rear end and drive train. The red and black colour scheme is also a photographers dream – all the right bits have been blacked out and the red contrasts – right down to the pinstriped wheels, caliper and lettering on the tyres I found appealing. The Publisher just shakes his head and asks if I have been drinking. But ultimately it’s about how they go. GO HARD OR…..

includes a ‘Helmholtz Chamber’.

And go it does. The spec sheet reads; Buell Helicon 1125 liquid-cooled 72-degree V-Twin engine (If you don’t work for Buell you probably say ‘Rotax’) developing 109 Kw (146 hp) @ 9800 rpm and 111 Nm (82 ft.lbs) peak torque at 8000 rpm.

So I had to ask – What a Helmholtz Chamber be? The Helmholtz effect is a phenomenon of air resonance in a cavity, an example is when you blow across the top of an empty bottle and the noise it makes – in short it reduces the exhaust noise.

The familiar underslung muffler (one of the numerous patents Erik Buell owns)

Fortunately it doesn’t completely stifle the vee twin throb altogether and what is an unremarkable note at idle Trademark fuel-in-frame/oil in turns into quite swingarm Buell foundation means a pleasant growl both R and CR have the same when wicked up, short, quick-steering personalities hauling out of a as H-D Sportser-engined fellow tight corner. models XB models The DDFI III Electronic Fuel Injection ECM proved to be the best of the 1125s I’ve ridden so far. Only one of the four examples ridden suffered from it, but the wires carried plenty of reports of early R models suffering from throttle lag issues. They seem to have been resolved as there were no real issues of note with this unit. It stumbled once and backfired once in the first couple of kms and I thought ‘hello,’ but as it

has bedded in it’s been a case of hit the throttle and ‘bam.’ Quite reliably and the closer you are to 8,000rpm, the bigger the bam and it all gets very rapid very quickly. Even though Buell claims that the bike has been ‘re-geared’ for stronger acceleration I found it needs to be ridden a gear lower than I would like in heavy traffic, or the directness of the drive train and the fuelling necessitates some clutch work – or it gets a bit uneven – but really, commuting and traffic isn’t what the bike is about. TRACK READY To really get the best from it a Track Day would be in order, but even using it as a regular street conveyance and weekend rider I found it to be an absolute barrel of monkeys on the open road. The symphony of surge and acceleration, the very pleasant gassed up exhaust note, and the power it develops just make it a hoot. So does the very efficient three-way adjustable Showa suspension both ends and the way it corners like…a Buell. Some of the bike’s capability is beyond where I took it – or anyone who wants to keep a licence would take it – on the road. It’s fitted with a HVA (Hydraulic Vacuum Assist) Slipper Action clutch that didn’t come into play in normal road use. What did come to the fore was how nice and solid the Pirelli Diablo Corsa III tyres felt and how well they hung on during a spirited run around the Mangawhai Heads loop. I put in some very satisfying day rides to the north and south of Auckland city and found the bike very, very rewarding.



GREAT FLIP-FLOP ACTION GR Flicking it along a windy road and Fli the th way if flip-flops and changes direction, and its ability to change d lines around an obstacle mid apex, are simply delightful. It has some of the aspects of an XB series bike in the way it’s so nice to leave it in third and carve up nic twisty section, and I quite like the a tw ZTL2 brakes.

Again, for normal road use the knowledge that they are 2.5kg lighter than the best twin disc set ups is just that, knowledge, I couldn’t tell any difference in the performance, or the effects of unsprung weight – it would need some objective work on a race track to really tell, but that’s not what AMPS have in mind – at this stage. I did find it very easy to do a stoppie or for that matter hoist it up on the rear wheel (closed road – professional rider) or any of the other tomfoolery that sitting astride a Buell creation seems to engender. I found it reasonably comfortable to sit astride. I needed an occasional ‘knee break’ on the return leg of an all day ride, but that’s due to me really only needing the long red shoes and stick on nose to complete the comical look of a very large man on a reasonably compact bike (wheelbase: 1389mm), but I found the ergos and comfort OK for a decent ride. The demo wasn’t fitted with a passenger seat; it can do it, but carrying a passenger isn’t what the bike is about either. This one is a more selfish pleasure. TO CONCLUDE Available in red or black I thought the Buell 1125CR was a great fun street bike. The ergonomics are on the sporty side of sporty, due to reasonably high set pegs (45-50 degree lean angles) and the drop bars. (A traditional ‘street fighter’ handlebar is also available’. Nice touch with the

drop bars, nice nod, give me the flat bars please.) The naked styling lends itself to enjoyable sports riding that won’t draw too much heat at fun-to-ride speeds and if a day at the track is your fancy, then chewing the fuel cap will see it put in some very competitive lap times. It even has a lap timer built in to the instrument pod.

SPECIFICATIONS BUELL CR1125R ENGINE Type: Helicon liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 72° V-Twin Displacement: 1125 Compression ratio: 12.3:1


Bore x stroke: 103 x 67.5

Someone looking to spend $20k on a great fun road bike that raises a finger at convention. Someone who wants a bike capable of a respectable lap at a Track Day or mixing with the quickies on a day ride, but who also wants a machine that makes a bit of a statement while doing it.

Starting system: Electric

Someone who wants a 2009 incarnation of a Café Racer, in fact!

Transmission: 6-speed, straight cut gears

Eventually I snuck it back into the showroom and split while Bruce wasn’t looking – and I made double sure I left the cheque book with the co-pilot, so the 1125CR is still available for a test ride at AMPS now – see KR Hi-tech Rotax-built engine should mean that the R (and now CR) are worlds apart from earlier H-D Sportster-engined models, though that’s not really the case when you climb on. In much the same way there’s still a strong home-spun side to R and CR models which will appeal to some, not others. Big surprise with nominally ‘naked’ CR is olde-world ‘wrap-around’ clubman-style welded steel handlebars which while working perfectly well are in stark contrast to the sharp, futuristic lines of the bodywork. Despite its thoroughly modern design, build and performance potential. the Rotax engine also has quite a rorty, rambunctious side to it, something – again – which will appeal to existing Buell owners but perhaps surprise others.

Engine management system: CDI Fuel system: Dual 61 mm down draft throttle bodies, DDFI III fuel injection Clutch: Wet, multi-plate, Hydraulic Vacuum Assist (HVA) slipper action clutch, hydraulic clutch lever effort Final drive: 14mm pitch aramid-reinforced Veyance Hibrex belt with Flexten Plus technology, 2.815:1 ratio FRAME Type: Black aluminium frame, fuel in frame Swingarm: Suspension: Front: 47 mm Showa inverted forks with adjustable compression damping, rebound damping & spring preload. Rear: Showa coil-over monoshock with external piggyback reservoir & adjustable compression damping, rebound damping & spring preload Brakes: Single 375mm perimeter s/steel floating rotor disc brake w/8-piston fixed caliper front & single 240mm stainless steel rotor w/two-piston direct mount caliper rear Wheels: 6-spoke cast aluminium 17” x 3.5” front & 17” x 5.5” rear Tyres: Pirelli Diablo Corsa III 120/70 ZR-17 front & 180/55 ZR-17 DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1385mm Rake: 21° Trail: 84mm Seat height: 778mm Dry weight: 170kg Fuel tank capacity: 20.1 RRP: $19,990 Test bike: Auckland Motorcycles & Powersports (AMPS) Tel 0-9-300 750 or GEAR Helmet: Shoei Jacket: Rev’it Pants: Teknic Boots: Teknic



WORDS & PICS: Big Dave

In which Big Dave comes across all ‘portentious’ after riding Victory’s funky Vegas 8-ball!


downtown Takinini, en route to collect the 2009 Victory 8 Ball motorcycle, were to the strains of Elvin Bishop’s rock classic ‘Fooled Around and Fell in Love’ emanating from my iPod at force eleven.

hakespeare was big on portents. The Oxford says a portent is ‘a sign or warning that something, especially something momentous or calamitous, is likely to happen’ In ‘The Scottish Play’ for example, an apparition of a dagger and the sound of a bell are clear messages to the main character that he must kill the King. ‘The bell invites me, hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell.’ And remember what happened to Caesar when he blew the Ides of March gig? What has this to do with a motorcycle test you ask? Well, the portents for this one struck me as altogether Shakespearian. The last three minutes of the journey to Silver Fern Imports, in fabulous

easy to look at and to photograph, as I do with most Arlen Ness-inspired designs actually. For me there is an element of fit and correctness to vehicles that are influenced by his lines. It’s a pretty bike.

Most portentious indeed. Since I met you Baby. If you have been following the story, you know that the Ed metaphorically beats me up every time I come up with a black bike. ‘Black ink, black ink on my pages’ he muses. But I just love ‘em and this one is extra, extra black. More portents. ‘Look at him grin’ said the gang at Silver Fern as I was introduced to the bike. Lots of the parts that would normally be chrome or bright steel finish are a deep lustrous blaaaaaack. From that moment I found it very

BLACK HEART At its black heart beats a fifty degree, 4-stroke vee-twin displacing 1643cc…. or as the badge on the air filter proclaims 100 of them cooobic inches. Bore and stroke are a squarish 101mm x 102mm and it runs an 8.7:1 compression ratio for a claimed peak output of 85 horsepower at 4,750rpm and a healthy 106ft lb of torque at 2500rpm. If those numbers say ‘comfortable cruiser’ to you then the on road performance will only confirm your read. KIWI RIDER 31

ROAD TEST VICTORY 8-BALL This is a strong, solid, punchy motor that trundles along in cruising mode with a lovely ‘heavy metal’ feel. Trés, trés cruisey. The single overhead camshaft mill has 4 valves per cylinder and is very smooth at promenade speeds, while it develops a more noticeable hum out on the open road. I wouldn’t describe it as ‘vibey,’ it’s more the standard pulse of a large v-twin and like every motorcycle I’ve ridden with a car-size engine, it pulses very rewardingly. It’s also an attractive engine to look at with a degree of smoothness to the finish of its sculpted looking fins. It’s fed by electronic fuel injection, with 45mm throttle bodies, and it’s all nicely mapped and stumble-free. The range from the 17litre tank was shorter than I’d hoped, judging by its appearance, but the fuel light appeared at around the 220km mark – 1600+ccs and lugging my two-small-folks-worth of weight, I guess that is reasonably good. Ollie, who jumped aboard for the city photo shoot, would no doubt get better mileage. The off set is the grunty, low-down torque, enhanced by the feel and 32 KIWI RIDER

directness of the Kevlar belt drive and 5-speed gearbox. The box is solid and reliable and a fortnight of cruising round town and country day rides produced no false neutrals or signs of cantankerousness – commendable for a big-bore bike that had 35km on the clock when I collected it. It only needs five speeds. In fact, like a lot of large cruisers, it could get away with three or four speeds, but those gears that it has engage nicely and directly from the forward mounted controls. Primary drive is by gear with a torque compensator and it is a lovely drive train to employ. WEIGHTS & MEASURES My time in the saddle on different Victory Motorcycles has made me rethink some things I’d regarded as truisms in motorcycle design. The Hammer introduced a different perspective and how much fun a bike that handles ‘unconventionally’ can be. The sweet turning, mid-engine Vision somehow refutes the thinking that more weight over the front wheel is best for handling, and now the 8-Ball squarely

This and header page….lithe, clean lines give Vegas 8-ball a distinctive look to match its unique nimble, easy riding feel.

challenges what I had pontificated about 21” front wheels. It’s absolutely lovely on the road. It turns and tips to the limits of the ground clearances, which are cruiser standard, with confidence-inspiring ease. The 8 Ball doesn’t tip over far enough for any large front wheel vagueness to come into play. It just feels solid, planted and very stable. The front tyre is a 90/90 21 Dunlop Elite 3 and the rear is a real world 180 55-B18 Dunlop D417. The whole back end of the bike (as it was set up, sans passenger seat) is simply a great looking bum and while it doesn’t have the ‘phatness’ of the Hammer for example, it corners and handles very nicely while still looking a million bucks. The front suspension is conventional telescopic fork with 43mm tubes and 130mm travel with a single linkagemounted shock at the back offering preload adjustment and 100mm of travel which makes for a comfortable ride for such a low-slung machine (seat height is just 673mm).


Actually, make that long and lowslung...machine. The wheelbase is 1684mm and the overall length is 2439mm while it tips the scales as a light-heavyweight at 296kg. Brake-wise there are single floating 300mm disc rotors front and back with four-piston calipers up front and a twin-piston jobbie at the back. Both sets are capable, with good feel and the stopping power was strong and fadefree throughout the test, which included a few reasonably spirited runs around my standard test loops. ARMCHAIR RIDE The handlebars are wide and swept well back, and when coupled with the forward controls, give an armchair sort of sitting position. The single saddle is wide and comfortable and fits nicely with the narrow waist of the bike. In best Stretch tradition dirt guy Ollie ‘gets into character’ for the Vegas 8-Ball shoot.

The controls come to hand particularly nicely too. It’s not something I’d normally comment on – but the ease of operation of the vehicle with two x two fingers and the way the controls all worked was good enough for stand out mention. Its fluid curves and glistening black gloss paint were a joy look at. I really like the wheels, the balance and the overall lines of the bike. Particularly from the curb side. At which point it’s worth going back to that song...‘I must have been through about a million (bikes), I’d ride ‘em and return ‘em right away, but then I fooled around with the 8 Ball and for a fortnight I fell in love.’ Who’s it for? Check your portents. Then manipulate them so they say: ‘You should test ride one.’ At $24,000 the Vegas 8 Ball would also suit someone looking for a bike that is a little different, while offering similar performance characteristics and manners to a range of metric cruisers of comparable capacity. It has a real heavy-metal cruiser ride without feeling ponderous or bulky – just very cool. With its low saddle height and good low-speed balance it will suit competent male or female riders looking for an allround nice ride. KIWI RIDER 33


It’s a delight around town and is pleasant to roll away the country kms at mostly legal speed limit pace. It’s comfortable enough and the suspension works well enough to spend a long day in the saddle in relative comfort too. I’m quite a Victory fan now. There are plans to take the brand to the other New Zealand centres in the short term. For the moment Takanini in Auckland is the place for a test ride. And to sum up? To paraphrase Elvin; ‘loving the 8 Ball is easy, the leavin’ it and the tearin’ out that page proved the hard part.’ KR

SPECIFICATIONS VICTORY VEGAS 8-BALL CRUISER ENGINE Type: Air-cooled SOHC 4-valve-percylinder 50° V-Twin 4-stroke Displacement: 1634cc (100 cu. in.) Compression ratio: 8.7:1 Bore x stroke: 101x102mm Starting system: Electric Engine management system: CDI Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection with 45mm throttle bodies Clutch: Wet, multi-plate Transmission: 5-speed Final drive: Carbon fibre reinforced belt

Solid engineering credentials provide Victory with an excellent base from which to build a bone fide bike brand. There’s plenty of punch from that 100 engine yet feel at the throttle is light and sensitive, quite unlike that of the obvious US competition. Unlike many metric cruiser models, which shamelessly ape particular H-D models, Victory’s models owe more of a debt to the custom chopper and/or cruiser scene, combining the eye-catching look of limited edition or one-off models with full factory warranties and major manufacturer peace of mind.

FRAME Type: Double cradle steel Swingarm: Double-sided Front suspension: Conventional telescopic fork 43mm diameter Rear suspension: Single preload adjustable mono-tube gas shock absorber with cast aluminium, rising rate linkage Brakes: 300mm floating rotor with 4-piston caliper front & 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper rear Wheels: 21 2.15 inch front and 18 x 5.5 inch rear Tyres: Dunlop Elite 3 90/90x21 front & 180 55-B18 D417 rear DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1684mm Rake & Trail: 32.9°/126mm Length: 2439mm Seat height: 673mm Dry weight: 296kg Fuel tank capacity: 17l RRP: $24,500 Test bike: Victory GEAR Helmet: Arai Jacket: Ixon Pants: Draggin Jeans Boots: TCX


Bike: Moto Guzzi Bellagio Type: Custom cruiser Engine: Air-cooled, fuel-injected transverse-mounted 90° V-twin Frame: Tubular steel twin cradle Wheelbase: 1570mm



Fuel tank capacity: 19l Seat height: 780mm Dry weight: 224kg RRP: $23,990 Test bike: Triumph New Zealand

WORDS & PICS: Big Dave

Like the idea of a Moto Guzzi but never quite found a model to call your own? The new Bellagio could just be the one you are looking for. Big Dave explains why.

EURO DISNEY he Ed and Big Dave show arrived at the Aprilia RSV4 launch shindig early early. The ‘prilia weapon was the main event but we kinda’ got caught up with the Moto Guzzi Bellagio before the event began.

known the world over for its beauty with the free spirit of those that revel in motor cycling.”

It was one of several machines available to the moto-noters to throw a leg over and the Boss and I were both quite taken with the 935.6 cc, somewhat unique, Guzzi.

I think in a more ‘grounded’ KR translation however, the dudes from Lariano have come up with a mint motorcycle.


The factory call it a ‘power cruiser’, in between a whole lot of that waffle that probably doesn’t translate well from Italian to English. E.g: “The new Bellagio symbolizes the depth of the relationship between Moto Guzzi and its surrounding territory. This relationship is so strong that the immense beauty of the Lariano area affects both the ideas and creativity of man and in a sense leads him to create works of natural beauty in all his endeavours. This empathy between the local environment and human inventiveness can be clearly seen in the new Moto Guzzi Bellagio that identifies a place Bellagio is described as a ‘power cruiser’ and joins long-standing California model in Moto Guzzi’s ‘USinspired’ line. Look and feel is utterly distinctive with hints of everything from a Harley Sportster to a Ducati Monster. Result is a dynamic dailyrider which has similar appeal to Triumph’s America and Speedmaster models.

YES, WELL… Uh huh?

Our fang around Maraetai and environs revealed a machine with pretty good ground clearance, mid controls, surprisingly comfortable ‘conventional’ riding position and typically spirited air-cooled 90° ‘Guzzi Vee….’ (you know, like a normal V-twin spun 90 degrees in the frame as well as the 90° cylinder V angle). And what a lovely motor it is for road use. Particularly in a cross-over style model like the Bellagio. BROAD APPEAL Unlike it’s more sporty, or touringoriented stablemates you see, the long, low-slung Bellagio has the appeal of a traditional cruiser…you know, a relaxed set of riding ergonomics, big torquey vee-twin, stand out looks and a dose of old-school-brand street cred. Yet none of these characteristics either individually or together, compromise suspension travel and compliance, cornering clearance or general, all round capability. The motor pumps out 55kw at 7200rpm and a healthy 78NM of torque at 6,000rpm. Guzzi says that 80% of the KIWI RIDER 41

RIDDEN MOTO GUZZI BELLAGIO Bellagio is no slouch in the cornering department.

torque is available between 2800 and 4800 rpm and we’d have to agree, the engine being quite punchy without having to go to light speed to enjoy it. A great configuration, in other words, for New Zealand road use. Don’t let the old skool OHV design confuse you either. On-going investment and practical upgrades (in much the same way BMW has upgraded its boxer twin engine) see fuelling by multipoint sequential electronic injection, with twin 40 mm throttle bodies and Weber injectors matched to a fully Euro 111-compliant exhaust system consisting of two stainless steel pipes connected to a central ‘expansion chamber’ then two chromed steel silencers which emit a suitably ‘muffled’ yet distinctive Guzzi ‘twin burble. NUMBERS The wheelbase is a cruiserish 1,570mm which adds to the relaxed manner, as does the efficiency of the 45mm Marzocchi forks and single sided swingarm with progressive action and single rebound adjustable shock absorber. The primary drive is by helicoidal gear and the final drive is by Guzzi’s patented Compact Reactive Shaft Drive (CARC) system housed in the single sided swing arm. It was nice and tidy to ride and as is the biggest advan42 KIWI RIDER

tage with shafties – easy to forget about. In between drives is a six-speed, easy to click, gearbox. Brakes are twin floating 320 mm stainless steel discs, with floating Brembo calipers and twin parallel pistons up front and a single 282 mm fixed stainless steel disc, with floating two-pot Brembo caliper at the rear. These rotors are attached to nice, wide spoked alloy (tubeless) wheels fitted with Metzeler Roadtec Z6 tyres, a 120/70 ZR18 hoop up front and a 180/55 ZR17 at the rear. DETAILS, DETAILS The instrument pod has a real olde-world feel to its array of analogue and digital readouts, the pod itself is housed below some twin riser style drag bars that also help promote the ‘standard’ riding position. Which…….all adds up to what could be the ‘Clayton’s’ Cruiser. You know, the one you have when you’re not having a cruiser. It has the looks and style to fall into the category, but has better clearances, suspension travel and handling than a traditional ‘heavy metal’ job. We found this makes the Bellagio a very interesting and enjoyable motorcycle. See your Guzzi dealer for the skinny. KR

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WORDS & PICS: Big Dave

Custom-style cruisers don’t come any cleaner than Honda’s all-new Fury. But how does such a single-minded style statement handle the humdrum of everyday riding? Very well says Big Dave. KIWI RIDER 27


Stance & style make sure Honda’s new Fury stands out from the crowd


hat’s in a name?

I picked up the Honda Fury from distributor Blue Wing and was immediately taken by the appearance of the machine. Pleasantly surprised in fact. For an off-the-shelf Japanese ‘Custom bike’ this is a great looking unit.

Fury still does require some concessions to be made for its cornering clearance as that raked-out front end and slammed rear combine for a 1809.5mm wheelbase. GETTING THOSE PEGS DOWN!

The spaced out tube frame, wild rake and chrome engine make for a feel-good ride.

It’s pretty easy to get a foot peg on the tarmac, particularly at low speed, but that said, it is equally easy to negotiate open road corners at the posted advisory speeds, or better.

Fortunately, however, the wild styling doesn’t compromise its road manners too much and it delivers real world, middleweight ‘metric cruiser’ performance.

It tracks beautifully and holds a line very nicely, unlike the old days and when a wild front end meant riding was like steering a Bedford truck with a busted spring.

That’s the first question just about everyone who met the machine asked. ‘What does it ride like?’

Whenever I talked about the bike it always came back to how ‘real-worldly’ the Fury is.

Answer! It rides like a modern 1300cc cruiser. Twenty years ago, riding a bike with the Fury’s wild rake and slammed rear end would require some ‘allowances.’ The

Although some might be tested by the far-forwardness of the controls, I found the riding position very comfortable. The machine is narrow and feels quite lithe when aboard. FIRM RIDE The ultra-low saddle height and slammed rear end means that there is about 100mm of rear suspension travel and subsequently it’s quite a firm ride, but the seat is well padded and you become versed in riding around the worst of the potholes.

‘Yeah, it rides like a modern bike’ was the standard patter.

The rake and 21 inch front wheel do make the steering slower than a sportsbike, but it’s also not hard to give it a shimmy to avoid the man-hole cover that appears unexpectedly in your path. The 18 inch rear, with 200 section tyre looks the part too.

The seat height is 685mm. Yep, the saddle is just over two feet off the ground. This will serve the shorter of leg well.

Actually, the whole rear end is nicely integrated and stylishly sparse, with the array of LED lights integrated into the bodywork.

Ride the NEW Fury or any of our full range of current demo Hondas at Cyclespot Honda $25995

Cyclespot Honda 63 Barrys Point Rd, Takapuna. Ph (09) 486 1136


ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled fuel-injected SOHC 52° V-twin Displacement: 1312cc Compression ratio: 9.2:1 Bore x stroke: 89.5 x 104.3mm Starting system: Electric Engine management system: Electronic Fuel system: Honda PGM-F1 fuel injection w/ 38mm throttle bodies Clutch: Wet mltiplate Transmission: 5-speed Final drive: Shaft FRAME Type: Tubular steel Swingarm: Steel Front suspension: Telescopic forks Rear suspension: Single shock Brakes: Disc front & rear Wheels: Cast aluminium alloy 21 in. dia. front & 18 in. dia. rear Tyres: Dunlop Elite 90/90-21 front & 20/50-18 rear DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1805mm Rake: 32° Trail: 92mm LxWxH: 2575 x 900 x 1150mm Seat height: 685mm Curb weight: 303kg Fuel tank capacity: 12.8L RRP: $25,999 Test bike: Blue Wing Honda GEAR Helmet, jacket & boots: RJays Pants: Draggin Jeans (Gear courtesy MotoMail)

The 52º V-twin engine is dressed in an assortment of covers and plates to give a more traditional appearance to its liquid cooled, SOHC engine, which features three valves and two spark plugs per cylinder.



PERFORMANCE & CHARACTER At 1312cc, with an over-square 89.5mm bore and 104.3mm stroke, it doesn’t have the same stump-pulling torque as the heavyweights in the Honda range, but it has performance and character in proportion to its cornering clearances and road manners. Brakes are single disc with twin-piston calipers front and rear and do a pretty good job of hauling the ‘ready to ride’ mass of 303kg to a halt. They aren’t the one finger affair of the VFR1200, but they are commensurate with the rest of the machine’s demeanour. The multi-plate wet clutch is cable operated and light and one-finger-easy to use. The 5-speed gearbox (all it needs) is precise and clicks easily into gear – even neutral when stationary. The shaft drive is rather neatly integrated into the swing arm and is typical of modern shaft units. If you create an artifi cial set of circumstances they can be made to develop a tiny bit of slop, but in normal riding it’s un-noticeable. The instrument pod is also somewhat spartan, in keeping with the whole front end of the bike. Speedometer, LCD odometer and an array of warning lights give you the basics. VERY PLEASANT The outlook from the rider’s seat is very pleasant. The headlight enclosure reflects the passing world in lustrous chrome and the handlebars pull back and are quite flat, which all adds to the presentation. The paintwork and finish is standard Honda quality and I had trouble finding a blemish. The exhaust system is quiet, in line with current regs and the standard note is quite subdued. The guys at Blue Wing tell

us that the inventory of aftermarket accessories will be extensive. The first thing that most couples will want to address is the pillion seat. Co-pilot looked at it when I asked for her evaluation and said ‘no thanks’, but there are backrest and other comfort options available when ordering – otherwise I found it pretty comfortable. You do feel some heat from the engine; ‘the tackle’ is only a frame rail away from the action, but it’s not uncomfortable – just slightly noticeable. OFF-THE-SHELF I think that’s a good word for the Fury. Comfortable. It’s a comfortable, off the shelf custom bike that feels great, goes nicely and looks as pretty as a picture. Demos are at your Honda Dealer now. Nothing to be Furious about at all. KR

New-from-the-ground-up-model combines trend-setting look with rock-solid feel and all the technological mod-cons (PGM-F1 fuel injection/ ABS brakes etc) Honda has become famous for. Bike is bigger and brawnier in the flesh than it appears in photos, offering an authentic cruiser experience without the compromises you’d have to put up with a limited edition model from a custom builder.




Honda’s latest Goldwing comes complete with an airbag and Satellite Navigation system…. providing Big Dave and the Co-pilot the perfect excuse to escape the city for a weekend. Another month, another BIG Tourer…. in this case’s Honda’s latest Sat-Nav and airbag-equipped Goldwing


aughingly, ludicrously luxurious,” said the Co-Pilot when I asked Her Highness about the throne-like passenger accommodations.

“I normally sit forward and it’s all about knees. Now I just sit back and the world tilts,’ she explained. I thought that was a great summation for the bike too. The world tilts. I like that! Cue the latest notch in our ‘Big Tourer’ belt, Honda’s latest Goldwing, a bike I found to be a unique and delightful surprise. After I got past all the ‘grandpa’ jibes I found there is a whole lot of motorcycle to enjoy. Not, of course, the Gforce-fun of a lithe sports cycle cranked over through a hairpin. And to be fair the huge bodywork and sheer bulk of the thing do leave you a little ‘detached’ from the traditional sensations of everyday motorcycling.

MOTIVE POWER Motive power comes from its liquidcooled SOHC 12-valve flat-6 cylinder engine which has a displacement of 1,832cc in a rather square 74 x 71 bore and stroke and a compression ratio of 9.8:1. It puts out 87kw (about 117hp) at 5500rpm, but that isn’t the important figure. The 167nm of torque it produces at 4000rpm is, because the wonderfully smooth and tastily torquey engine has to push some big, really big – as in 370kg dry/405kg wet – mass along. That said, the relatively nimble handling bears testament to the importance of the height of the centre of gravity in a motorcycle more than the overall mass of the machine, the engine, substantial exhaust system, drivetrain and fluids all slung low in the triple box section, twin spar frame to keep the CoG as low as possible.

It also scores ten out of ten on the Go-Go-Gadget-Dave ‘what’s this button here?’ scale.

In fact I was constantly delighted by the combination of torque, smoothness, stability and agility of the bike once it was moving. Wheeling it around the photo shoot U-turns and getting a bit too brave once or twice while dirt road adventure riding reminded me of the weight of the machine. Though punting it up a dirt track was no big deal and the bodywork didn’t rattle or misbehave.

But that’s not to forget, of course, how well it goes.

Normal manoeuvring was not as big an issue as you might imagine either,

But don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t an enjoyable motorcycle to ride. Whilst its forte is a trans-national jaunt, it doesn’t have to be a very long ride to appreciate the bike either.



though once or twice I was glad it had a starter motor operated reverse gear. It’s a big unit. (Yes – Vege pays me for these valuable insights). The wingspan is almost a metre – mirror tip to mirror tip – and at 2665mm overall length is about two thirds that of a compact car. SITTING PRETTY When I hopped aboard, grabbed the swept back handlebars and adopted the upright riding position I found it really pleasant to chuck the bike around. I was sitting in pretty much the same position as I would be on a large Enduro or Adventure bike, but also in a lounge chair at the same time.

Big it might be but Goldwing is light on its feet courtesy low-slung boxer engine, under-seat fuel tank, sportsbike-style aluminium beam frame and surprisingly light, dynamic feel.

If there is a plusher, more comfortable seat in motorcycledom I’d like to sit on it. Dial it up with five heat settings – plus another five settings for the heated grips, open the heater vents, and sit back and laugh at the winter chills. Outstanding comfort.

ALL THE BELLS & WHISTLES You’ve got to laugh! “Somebody steal two wheels off your car, Dave?’ was one of the assorted barbs that were thrown at the size of the Goldwing when I had it in my care. “You just ride one, Sunshine!” I countered. You’ve got to admit it though, in some ways all the protection it offers is slightly car-like. There is some detachment from that wind in your hair motorcycling ideal, you tend to sit ‘in’ the bike, but for around ‘temperate’ Auckland in midwinter, that was just what the Dr ordered. Anyway, it needs to be a massive bike with bodywork to match to haul all the luxury it has aboard, the array of buttons and controls prompting me to go and sit in a late model ‘S’ class Mercedes Benz for comparison. There aren’t many more comprehensively equipped vehicles than the S500 – or the ‘Wing. Both have a range of cruise control, communication and navigation systems built in and sitting in the driver’s seat of the Benz there are about seventy-two buttons, controls or switches available for the driver to choose from. Some of them are phone and Nav keyboards – but buttons just the same. 42 KIWI RIDER

Sitting in the rider’s chair on the Goldwing there are fifty-two. GO-GO-GADGET DAVE I didn’t use the built-in CB Radio at all. I don’t know any ‘breakers’, but if you were travelling with a bunch of other Goldies or similarly equipped vehicles I’d imagine it would come in very handy. I know the stereo did. I love music as much as I love motorcycles and the ‘Wing combines the two with it all quite audible (apparently, officer!) up to 160km/h. I mostly had Radio Hauraki blaring when I didn’t have it switched to AUX to run my iPod playlists – via the spare input fitted inside the rider’s glove box. What a complete hoot! It’s all controlled by some of those fifty-two buttons spread around the cockpit. Volume is next to the horn. It also has all the plugs to connect a helmet-based comms system ready to go. TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER After the music is sorted, you can then enter your destination into the Satellite Navigation system and a map and detailed instructions are displayed on the colour screen mounted in the dash. It’s all voice prompted as you roll along. Any of the buttons or functions that would take the rider’s eyes too far away

from the road are disabled when mobile, but after the data is sorted, it’s just a matter of getting the bike up to speed and if conditions are suitable, engaging the electronic cruise control. That’s just like a modern car unit too. ‘Accelerate and resume’ function which are bumped up and down with the bank of buttons on the right hand handlebar switch block. If you want to adjust the headlights or perhaps add a bit of preload to the Pro-link, Pro-arm rear suspension, there’s a button to do that too! The Goldwing is also the first production motorcycle available in this country equipped as standard with an airbag! That’s right. An airbag! The airbag module contains the airbag and inflator and is positioned in front of the rider. The airbag Electronic Control Unit (ECU) is positioned to the right of the module, its job to analyse signals from the crash sensors to determine whether or not to inflate the airbag. Four crash sensors are attached – two per side on the front fork – to detect changes in acceleration caused by frontal impacts. From the moment an impact is recognized as a collision, only 0.015 seconds elapses until the airbag inflation is activated and stops the rider slamming into the cockpit.

SPECIFICATIONS HONDA GOLDWING ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled SOHC flat-six 4-stroke Displacement: 1832cc Compression Ratio: 9.8:1 Bore x stroke: 74 x 71mm Starting system: Electric Engine Management system: CDI Peak power: 87kW @5500rpm Peak torque: 167Nm @4000rpm Fuel system: Honda PGM-F1 electronic fuel injection Clutch: Wet multiplate Transmission: 6-speed Final drive: Shaft

If there is a plusher, more comfortable seat in motorcycledom I’d like to sit on it The acres of bodywork help too. I spent several days dodging squally showers around Auckland – but only needed my sunny weather riding gear. Tucked down behind the manually adjustable windscreen I stayed relatively dry. All this luxury and the accompanying conveyance is brought to a halt by a set of linked system, 296 x 4.5mm dual hydraulic disc brakes with combined three-piston calipers, ABS, floating rotors and sintered metal pads up front and 316 x 11mm ventilated disc with combined three-piston calliper, ABS and sintered metal pads at the rear. It’s a lot of bike to stop but the anchors do the job very nicely, with minimal squeeze necessary.

Core Goldwing values are ocean linerlike stability and thought-of-everything detailing. Fundamentals of latestgeneration model – beam-frame, boxersix engine etc etc – remain but latest model available here is also equipped with Sat-Nav and an airbag. ‘Wing was always a trend-setter and these days is the standard by which all similar fulldress touring machines are judged. Big Dave accepted the size and weight and was impressed with how dynamic and responsive such a big, stable bike can be. He also liked the luxury car-like level of creature comforts including the topshelf sound system and cruise control.


The integrated luggage is part of the Goldwing character now. The trunk provides 65 litres of storage capacity. Two full-face helmets fit easily and the remote opener on the key ring is neat. The saddlebags provide 40-plus litres of storage each, resulting in a total of 147 litres of storage space. There are also pockets in the fairing and rear trunk for convenient, easy-access storage. The instruments and dash are very easy to live with and the headlights are as luminous as they are wide. TO SUM UP I was surprised by the Goldwing. Prior to

FRAME Type: Aluminium alloy beam-type Swingarm: Aluminium Front suspension: Telescopic fork 45mm w/air assist Rear suspension: Honda Pro-Link ProArm w/ electronically controlled spring preload adjustment Brakes: ABS-equipped 2 x 296mm rotor discs w/ 3-piston linked calipers front & 1 x 316mm rotor disc w/3-piston linked caliper rear Wheels: Cast aluminium 18 in. dia front & 16 in. dia rear Tyres: 130/70 x 18 front, 180/60 x 16 rear DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1690mm Rake: 29° 15´ Trail: 109mm LxWxH: 2635 x 945 x 1455mm Seat height: 740mm Kerb Weight: 405kg ready to ride Fuel tank capacity: 25l RRP: $39,995 (spec includes airbag and GPS) Test bike: Blue Wing Honda Ltd GEAR Helmet: Shoei Jacket: Arlen Ness Pants: Triumph Boots: Johnny Rebs

testing it I’d probably bought into some of that dribble about ‘Grandpa’s bike.’ In fact, it’s anything but. Manhandling it around a steep driveway is not something for the frail or a bumbler for a start. For spirited all-round recreational riding it’s nothing more or less than a grin inducing lump. And for head turning, cruising and general thumbs-uping, it not only does the business, it does it in real rock and roll style. KR


It’s Hammer time! Victory’s Hammer combines currently fashionable wiiiiide rear end with sportsbike-spec front end.


WORDS & PICS: Big Dave (and the Co-Pilot)

Victory is back. And joining the fulldress Vision in the American company’s local lineup is the custom Hammer cruiser. Which Big Dave has just spent an enjoyable weekand-a-bit riding.

The sales literature that came with Victory’s hard-hitting (had to get that one in early) Hammer is peppered with the use of the word ‘unconventional’. Maybe it is that lack of convention that attracted me to it, or it was the absolutely gorgeous growl from its aftermarket exhausts or the extremely tasty motor, the comfort . . . or the Arlen Ness inspired lines . . . or . . . that it takes an extremely nice cruiser rear end and hangs a tasty sports bike front end on it. I had mates who were grafting GSX-R front ends onto American bikes 10 years ago and they made fabulous road going motorcycles. With the standard Hammer off the showroom floor I had all that, and I didn’t need to be an engineer like Rusty to achieve it. The cruiser rear end and sports front end intersect at a 1,634cc (100 cubic inch), air and oil cooled, SOHC, 4

valve, 50º V-Twin that is simply a big ol’ torquey pleasure. It revs slightly harder than its bigger brother, the 107 cu. in. Vision, but it’s as smooth as a big V-twin can be at cruising speeds. Like big brother, there is a very reassuring pulse when its 92 horsepower and 109 ft lbs of torque are called into play. LOOKS GOOD, GOES GOOD! Despite eschewing liquid-cooling Victory hasn’t exactly stinted technically inside either, the big ol’ engine featuring self-adjusting camchains and hydraulic lifters, all fed by a smooth EFI system with 45mm throttle bodies. It really is a lovely motor. To look at as well as ride. There is a nice symmetry to the whole setup. Look forward and aft. The overall lines of the bike worked really well for me and I found it was a KIWI RIDER 29


great model for the photo sets. Fit and finish was befitting a $26K bike. Part of the line is owed to the 250 section rear tyre and style of the rear end. It’s phat, real phat, uncluttered and features a smooth belt drive. It has a 300mm 4-piston rear brake and the rest is minimalist, mono tube and very wide. The belt runs from a gear-driven primary drive and a six-speed gearbox that includes a genuine overdrive (better than 1:1) sixth gear. For a bigger unit the gearbox is easy and precise. It’s all very, very cruisey. FRONTING UP Up front there are dual 300mm, four-piston stoppers, upside down forks with 130mm of travel and a 130/70R18 Dunlop Elite 3 tyre – on a custom looking wheel. The whole front end looks similar to a sports bike, till you get to the headlight and instrument cluster and we’re back at old-skool custom (with hi-tech flourishes). I thoroughly enjoyed riding it too (what don’t I? – but this one’s a BD special). The first few corners I put it through I thought, ‘Hang on, what’s going on here?’ Simply because of 30 KIWI RIDER

THIS PAGE: Best thing Victory ever did was plough its own furrow meaning Hammer has a kind of ‘midPacific’ look and feel which positions it half way between retro-style Harley-Davidsons and tribute-style ‘metric’ models from Japan FACING PAGE: Phat rear end requires rider to adapt to almost scooter-like dynamics at slower speeds. Up and running there’s less of the rear-end-leading-the-front feel but you do pay a premium for the J-Lo look

the amount of effort it takes to haul that 250 section rear end through a bend. Which is something you both have to get your head around, and get used to. BOOTILICIOUS The upshot of having the bum look like a million dollars is that it takes more effort to lug it around. The super-wide rear end takes more effort to turn than a conventional 180. Far more, and more body English. Subsequently I found all this makes it outstandingly good fun to ride without pushing too far beyond the speed limit. It all becomes very grininducing and really good fun at less than light speed.


The front end steers like a sports bike front end would, but the rear end tracks around like a cruiser. It also has cruiser-like ground clearance. The folding pegs hit the tarmac – though there is a fair bit more to go after the skritchin’ starts. In several ways a 250 rear lowers the performance bar for on road riding – but for an experienced rider it also raises the enjoyment factor at legal speeds. No doubt someone ‘green’ jumping off a Gixxer would hate it. But I thought it was excellent. ALL-DAY SADDLE The ergos for a big man are more sit upright than lean back and I had no trouble spending all day in the saddle. However ‘pfheooow’ was about the closest I could get to the noise the Co-pilot made when I asked her about pillion comfort levels. ‘. . . But it’s almost worth it to listen to it’ was her final word. Which if you have trouble reading between the lines means . . . there are better choices in the Victory range if you do a lot of twoup, but as a solo unit I couldn’t get

enough of the Hammer. I took it over my scratcher’s loop, did all-day rides and spent a ton of time cruising the city. I enjoyed the refined nature of the cruiser ride, mixed with the need to really put that input into lugging it around when sports riding. It’s real ‘essence de motorcycle’ stuff. No extraneous bodywork or screens to get in way of the wind rushing by. Instruments are minimalist and very stylish and the handlebars form a unique V for Victory. PLENTY OF OPTIONS There are plenty of customising options available from the extensive accessory catalogue to bling things up. There are easy options like the footpegs and grips which have been left reasonably plain so it’s easy to personalise the bike to suit. It’s very comfortable (for solo use), it looks like an exotic custom right off the showroom floor and it’s really great fun to ride around near the speed limit. In other words, another winner for Victory. KIWI RIDER 31


SPECIFICATIONS VICTORY HAMMER ENGINE Type: Air/oil-cooled SOHC 8-valve 50° V-twin 4-stroke

Brakes: Twin 300mm floating rotors discs w/ 4-piston caliper front & single 300mm rotor disc w/2-piston caliper rear

Displacement: 1634cc (100 cu in)

Wheels: 18 in. dia front & rear

Compression ratio: 8.7:1

Tyres: Dunlop Elite 130/70-18 front & 250/40-18 rear

Bore x stroke: 101 x 102mm Starting system: Electric Engine management system: CDI Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection w/ 45mm throttle bodies Clutch: Wet multiplate Transmission: 6-speed Final drive: Belt FRAME Type: Tubular steel Swingarm: Steel Front suspension: USD-type 43mm telescopic fork Rear suspension: Linkage-type single coil-over shock absorber

DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1669mm Rake: 32.7° Trail: 140mm Seat height: 673mm Dry weight: 308 kg Fuel tank capacity: 17l RRP: $26,995 Test bike: Victory & Silver Fern Motorcycles GEAR Helmet: Davida Jacket: Arlen Ness Pants: Triumph Boots: Johnny Rebb

Victory engine combines finned, narrow angle (50°) look of old-skool V-twin with state-of-the-art OHC/4-valve heads and fuel injection. Result is a distinctive ‘lite’ feel from idle to the redline which errs on the side of sporty rather than staid. Detailing is excellent and build quality is first-rate albeit with the almost limited edition look and feel of a bike from a smaller manufacturer.


LAUNCH U C REPORT O 2010 20 010 10 H-D H-D D RANGE RAN ANGE WORDS: Big Dave PICS: Lou Martin for H-D

These are difficult times for Harley-Davidson but the local arm put on a brave face at the official launch of the 2010 range. Big Dave reports.


Torquay – and I drew the Wide Glide. LAUNCH REPORT 2010 H-D RANGE

With the sound of compatriot Kyle Minogue jangling round in his head, KR’s ‘Lucky’ Dave Cohen got to sample four different ’10 H-D models on the Great Ocean Ride.

Purrrrfect. This is what the machine revels in I thought as I admired the reflections in a passing fuel tanker. At freeway speeds the motor purrs, you can stretch your legs out on the forward controls and watch the 22-wheelers roll by in excellent comfort. We did swap bikes regularly for the photo calls, and I did get an opportunity to put it through some of the twisty bits later on (and it handles tidily too), but for the most part the freeway was Wide Glide heaven. Ace number one. Coffee at Torquay, lunch in Lorne and as the landscape changed, so did my bike. ACES NUMBER TWO & THREE


wonder if you need a Deed Poll to change a pen name? Sure ‘Big Dave’ fits well enough, and has stuck tight since the Ed pinned it on me all those years ago. But the way things panned out on the 2010 Harley-Davidson model launch late last month, I should seriously consider establishing what exactly the protocols are for a change to ‘Lucky Dave.’ Because? Because ‘you lucky …..(insert suitable expletive here)’ is the most common response from folks when I ‘casually’ mention the KR gig to start with. And the way the cards fell my way on the twoday blat up the Great Ocean Road out of Melbourne with a fleet of brand new Hogleys was really pushing the odds. Originally, you see, the Ed was going. He, after all, was the one invited. But literally minutes before the deadline for forwarding passport and ticketing/ accommodation requirement details expired, he realised that last month’s mag would never make it to the printer if he was to spend four days out of the office.

And so it was ‘Lucky Dave’ who got to board the big silver bird and ‘Lucky Dave’ who got to find out, first hand, HarleyDavidson Australasia’s plans for 2010. The launch was a two-day affair based round Victoria’s Great Ocean Rode, hence the promo tag, The Great Ocean Ride. LET’S RIDE! The plan was that a bunch of the region’s moto-noters would arrive in Melbourne, have a lovely meal in Swanston Street with the H-D folks, then an early night at the Mercure before boarding a van for a quick (yeah right!) trip to The Docklands Convention Centre for a briefing………and 34 KIWI RIDER

a day-starting croissant (or two!). The destination for Day 1 was Apollo Bay, not a huge ride, but with numerous photo calls and refreshment stops along the way, it took most of the day to get there. The ride was split into four sections, two in the morning and two in the afternoon, to provide a good ‘shift’ riding each bike. So after the briefing from Ride Captain Chris Hughes, with two or more examples of each new model in tow, the convoy set off. We had Chris, the journos, two ‘wingmen,’ two H-D staffers on bikes, a van with ‘the PR Lady’ and photographer Lou, and Mitch driving the company truck as back up. If you want an example of how to conduct a group ride, these guys wrote the textbook. Lead and sweep are connected by intercom and all the photo calls are really well marshalled. ACE NUMBER ONE However it was the luck of the ride order that had me looking for the nearest Lotto agency. Melbourne traffic has its moments but on the whole the city is laid out in a grid on a wide, flat plain with little in the way of natural barriers. It’s not like Auckland with two harbours and seven volcanoes or Wellington’s mountainous landscape to navigate. Big old four lane freeways fan out from the city centre from West to North to East. So it was straight lines pretty well all of the first morning’s ride past Geelong to

Ace number two. The terrain changed from coastal plain and freeway. The escarpments got steeper at the beginning of the Great Ocean Road – which reminded me very much of East Cape – except with a lot more double lines, cars and people. Still a truly spectacular ride nonetheless and it was my turn on the Sportsters for the twisties. The 883 Iron comes with some of the longest hero pegs I’ve seen. They must project over 50mm from the bottom of the pegs proper. It’s good because it handles quite tidily and it is exceptionally easy to get them on the ground. It was here that I did enjoy the character of the engine pulling out of the corners and the way it spooled up. However after pleading ‘I’m really too big for this machine’ one of the factory boys handed over his XR1200X for the

Overnight at Apollo Bay was quiet after a nice meal in the town. It’s the kind of place that the TV soap Seachange (you know, the one with Sigrid Thornton as the burnt out big city lawyer who relocated to a sleepy coastal town) was written about. OFFICIAL BUSINESS Next morning I was ‘officially’ on the XR1200X again and we headed into the Ottway range as the loop back to Melboune began.

late afternoon shift into Apollo Bay and I felt like I had three aces. The glorious twisty road, and even the weather conditions, were starting to look like East Cape. JUST DELIGHTFUL The XR1200X was just delightful. My knees were glad I was on the Wide Glide for the Freeway, but out here on the Big Hill the Sportie was quite joyous. It sounds unique, has the grunt where it’s needed on the road and has Showa suspension all round. I was a little underdone on the pre-load and was off the pace of the lead bunch of riders when I first jumped aboard. But next morning the crew jacked it up for me (Oh yeah – us journos don’t adjust our own suspension any more dontchaknow!) and subsequently I was comfortable up near the front for the second morning.

More fantastic motorcycling ensued. The roads were wet and occasionally muddy. ‘You Kiwi blokes seem pretty comfortable on wet twisty roads,’ photographer Lou Martin later remarked. To be perfectly honest it was more that I was comfortable on the XR1200X. Properly dialled in, the XR made it a ride to remember and the conditions were very similar to a jaunt through the Waitakeres, only there were gum trees and about 80 kilometres of empty, prime road. When we finally emerged from the bush and back onto the plains we stopped for lunch before heading back onto the superslap. A FULL HOUSE Fourth Ace, four lanes of it and I had the Fat Boy. Footboards, a built-in back rest and a ton of torquey-ness. Not to mention feeling just a little bit bad-ass. It’s like there’s some Siren in the machine singing for me to do a burnout. But I resisted and we rode in formation back along

the freeway and to the city in the afternoon peak hour. Fat Boy perfect. ct. Relaxed, I just enjoyed looking at the e machine. It too pulls to the rev limiter without any hint of running out of breath along the way. The new lowness comes at the expense of some of the cornering clearance, but you wouldn’t buy a Fat Boy to do o anything but relaxed riding anyway.


It’s worth noting, in fact, if you are test riding a bike – make sure the shop dials in the suspension for you. It makes quite a bit of difference to the handling of this delightful machine.

I think that was one of the best things the ride demonstrated. There is now a range of Harleys that suit a wide variety of riders and conditions. The Ultra Classic is at one end and the XR and Sporties at the other. With the V-Rod variants too the Motor Company has a wide range of vehicles, so it’s a matter of picking the one that suits your needs the best. The ‘010 engines are the best stock Hogs I’ve ridden yet, with the XR the best of a very good bunch. TO CONCLUDE The ride and launch gave ‘Lucky Dave’ a chance to use them in conditions for which they were well suited, and with stock on your authorised dealer floors now, I have no hesitation is recommending you play your cards right and go take one for a fang. Thanks to H-D Australia Pty Ltd for the opportunity. Top Show. But hey, I’ve got to go. That’s my song streaming through the computer’s speakers. You know the one, it’s a Kyle Minogue classic; can’t quite remember the name but it goes something like…… listen……that’s it; ‘ I should be so lucky… lucky, lucky, lucky…. KR



Two wheels good, three wheels better? That, in a nut shell, is the theory behind Can-Am’s new Spyder. Big Dave puts it to the test on Auckland’s rain-lashed spring roads.

WORDS: Big Dave PICS: Geoff Osborne & BD



Climb on and Spyder ergos are similar to that of a large capacity motorcycle or big scooter

‘What’s it like?’ That’s the question most asked about the Can-Am Spyder. And fair enough. The only problem is that it’s not a question easily answered by a typical Big Dave-style analogy because the Spyder is a lot like…well, nothing else on the planet. In a word, it is unique. One of the lads pointed out that the two up front, one aft, configuration has been done before on a Goggomobile and a Morgan, but this is the first true high performance incarnation we’ve encountered. And the best I can do analogy-wise is take a Snowmobile and replace the belt and skis with wheels. Or A Ski-doo and add wheels. Not surprisingly the manufacturer (BRP) has a history of making exactly these products. Add some pretty impressive traction and stability functions - plus fabulous suspension and you are almost there – because the Spyder has real utility value as a bona fide road going vehicle. You’re right, it’s not a motorcycle, but you can use it like one. It’s not a car either, but….you guessed it, you can use it like one. THE HEART OF THE BEAST At the heart of the Spyder’s ‘web’ if 42 KIWI RIDER

you like is a liquid-cooled fuel-injected V-twin engine displacing 998cc and made by parent company affiliate Rotax. The engine puts out a respectable if not exactly spectacular 106hp @ 8,500rpm and 77ft lbs of torque at 6250rpm. When you consider these numbers against a dry weight of 316kg you appreciate the machine has some real chutzpah. The demo unit was also fitted with an optional aftermarket muffler and turned out to be one of the sweetest sounding ‘bikes’ I’ve ridden of late. Power is delivered to the rear wheel via a slick five-speed gearbox which – handily –incorporates a ‘genuine’ reverse gear. Pull a lever on the lefthand handlebar, kick down twice and the warning lights flash and it all goes backwards smoother than a Maxwell Smart comedy clip. Oh. And in case you’re wondering, final drive is by a lean and tidy belt. The motor itself is slung low in a steel spine frame that utilises race car-style double A-arm (wishbone) suspension up front and a more conventionally ‘motorcycle’ single shock rear end with the shock adjustable for both pre-load and damping. It’s worth stressing too, that I thought the suspension was simply brilliant. It soaked up everything I hit and

SPECIFICATIONS CAN-AM SPYDER ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled DOHC 8-valve V-twin 4-stroke Displacement: 998cc Compression Ratio: 10.8:1 Bore x stroke: 97 x 68mm Starting system: Electric Engine Management: Electronic ignition w/dual output coil Fuel system: Multi-point EFI w/ 57mm throttle bodies Clutch: Wet multi-plate Transmission: 5-speed w/ transmissionbased reverse Final drive: Belt FRAME Type: Tubular steel Swingarm: Steel Front suspension: Double A-arm with anti-roll bar Rear suspension: Swingarm with coilover monoshock Brakes: Foot-actuated fully-integrated hydraulic 3-wheel braking system w/ twin 260mm rotor discs & 4 piston calipers front and single 260mm rotor and singlepiston caliper rear Wheels: Aluminium 14 x 5 front & 17 x 7 rear Tyres: 2 x 165/65-14 front & 1 x 225/25 rear

GIZMO CITY To keep the power and torque under control in this stumpy triangulation, the Spyder uses four ECUs or as their promo materials call them, ‘Brains’. One Brain controls The Vehicle Stability System - VSS. The VSS is comprised of a Stability Control System, Traction Control System and the ABS. Stability Control, to quote the blurb that came with the Spyder, ‘constantly analyses motion and forces as they relate to the vehicle and will intervene to help maintain control in an emergency situation’. The same goes with the ABS. The Traction Control System also helps keep the vehicle on its intended trajectory. I didn’t find any of the systems obtrusive or notice any impact on the ride other than the traction control making the engine stutter once or twice – and I rode it through some diabolical ‘weather bomb’ conditions. No doubt it was keeping me on line, and it was reassuring to know it was all working on my behalf as I ploughed through the storm debris over Woodcocks Hill. The second Brain controls the Dynamic Power Steering (that’s right, handlebar action is power-assisted) with a variable boost function optimised for current speed, torque and load. And do you know what? The steering is precise and direct. Amazingly, grin enticingly, direct which helps turn every corner into an adventure. Finally, Brain Three controls the EFI while Brain Four is on security duty.

MARVELLOUS The whole thing works marvellously. Though in retrospectt the guys at BRP were right to warn me that, as a motorcyclist, I shouldn’t judge it on a quick ride round the block.


‘It’s a roller coaster, merry-go-round and the dodgem cars (with 106 ponies) all at once. Hey! There’s the analogy I was looking for!’

didn’t deviate at all. Watching it all work from the rider’s perch is a treat too.

Good advice it was too because truth be told I spent the er. first tank of gas fighting the Spyder. And it took me a good 180km to find the mojo. (Speaking of which 180km turned out to be a fairly typical tank range, though it did vary a bit either side depending on how hard I pushed it). Once I was attuned to the riding style I covered my local ‘scratchers’ loop round south-east Auckland’s Woodcocks, Twilight Road and Monument Hill more comfortably and at the same (if not better) speeds than I would have done on my motorcycle.

Not that I was reckless with a vehicle that costs $29,990+ at all, but with twice the tyre footprint up front, one that can’t fall over, or slip out from under you, or tuck – these are wonderful confidence boosters. In fact it turned miserable conditions into a real blast and when I did get it out in good conditions it was even better. The traction control doesn’t stop you rarking up the back wheel up on exits in the wet either. It only comes into play when there is a risk of ‘tippage.’ I also found the comforts and ergonomics very Big Man friendly. Copilot also rated comfort as outstanding. The instruments are excellent, the lights are numerous and very bright, the mirrors good etc. KR

DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1727mm LxWxH: 2667 x 1506 x 1145mm Seat height: 737mm Dry Weight: 316kg Fuel tank capacity: 27l RRP: $29,990 Test bike: BRP Australia Pty Ltd GEAR Helmet: Arai Jacket: Arlen Ness Pants: Triumph Jeans Boots: Johnny Rebs

Dynamics are totally different to a two-wheeler but reminded the Ed of a 4x4 farm ATV!



SIGN ON…..THE BOTTOM LINE S Kiwi Rider’s a great read…. and you don’t have to own and rregularly ride a motorcycle to enjoy the mag - as I’m constantly being th told by people who are between to bikes/been meaning to buy a bike or bik used to have a bike and remember the time with some fondness. So this sidebar is for them. According to the guys at CanAm people who are exclusively car drivers won’t have the same sort of adjustment issues to the Spyder as a full time motorcycle rider like my good self, or the Ed. This is important for a couple of reasons, arguably the main one the fact that though the obvious place to start promoting an alternative transport device like the Spyder is in a motorbike magazine (sure it’s got three wheels but you still ‘ride it’ like a two-wheeler) the big news for BRP here in New Zealand is that the Spyder can be ridden on a car licence. That’s right. No having to ride a 250 until you get your full ‘motorcycle’ licence. As long as you’ve got a helmet to put on your head before you ride away you can waltz into a Spyder dealer and ride out of his shop on one with just a car licence. However I’m a life-time motorcyclist and as such Can-Am’s research tagged me if not as a troublemaker exactly, at least someone who might find the whole experience a little counter-intuitive. Hence the paperwork complete with indemnities and acknowledgements that had to be signed before I could ride. ‘This is not a motorcycle’ – two boxes to tick. ‘This vehicle is wider than a motorcycle’ – two more, and so it went on. And fair enough because the Spyder is not an easy vehicle to get the hang of if you’re more used to two wheels. I know because even

after all that tick boxing I had a few ‘Oooh – hang on here’ moments. And that’s just using the throttle There are more surprises – particularly for a motorcyclist – when the time comes to use the brakes. Because? Because stopping the Spyder is taken care of by a footactuated, three-wheel braking system... with no hand lever. That’s right, no hand-lever. The system itself is pukka with twin discs and four-pot calipers up front and a single disc/ single caliper at the rear all controlled by an Electronic Distribution System. There’s also a handy foot-operated parking brake. But yes, for the first few kilometres when the time came to slow the plot down I reached for the handlebar lever which wasn’t there… The good news is you quickly get used to braking exclusively with your right foot and I have to say once you’re dialled in, you can stop on a dime. Particularly when the sort of angles and body positions that spirited riding produces make it a better option than a hand lever. But again, you can understand why Can-Am is so cautious about letting a first-timer loose on a Spyder. Repeat after me. This is not a motorcycle! MORE LIKE A SPORTS CAR That’s right, if anything, it is more like a sports car. And when you get your head around it and start hanging the opposite knee out and pushing down on the ‘wrong’ peg, my goodness, open road motoring becomes intoxicatingly exhilarating. OK, I enjoyed the challenge from the start, but seriously – when the penny drops this is a huge, huge, buzz. It’s a roller coaster, merry-goround and the dodgem cars (with 106 ponies) all at once. Hey! There’s the analogy I was looking for! KR

If you ignore the three-wheel footprint the Spyder is pure sportsbike with a beautifully-mannered fuel-injected V-twin engine and impressive ergos. Engine is mated to a 5-speed gearbox and yes there is an electrconically-controlled (flick a switch) reverse for when you have to back in or out of your garage or a parking space. Look and feel is low-slung but with an eye to practicality meaning that Spyder has a lot in common with more dynamic touring two-wheelers like Honda’s Pan-European or BMW’s recent K 1200 S. Use of electronics also links (pardon the pun) the Spyder to the Beemer. Before you ride it you wonder why the Spyder would need traction control but it certainly does, particularly on slippery surfaces. Push the handling envelope along a streaming wet road and you also find yourself whispering a quiet thanks to the Vehicle Stability System which analyses and makes automatic changes to the amount of throttle you’re sending to the rear wheel and the amount of brakes you may or may not be applying, particularly up front.



What started as a better way W to t get to and from the Burt Munro Challenge blossomed into one of the best rides Big Dave and The Co-Pilot B have ever had. ha


They liked the idea as an opportunity to show a lot of people just how nice a bike the Vision is and kindly upped the ante by making the Limited Edition Arlen Ness Vision (#164 of 200) available for Kiwi Rider’s exclusive use. ‘Oh, that’s only perfect!’ I said to Victory man Garry Ridden when he called to break the news and talk about collecting the machine. At KR we figured it would give a lot of folks an opportunity to see a unique bike and add a little something to the festival. If there’s anything that captures the ‘ornate’ part of the spirit of the Indian Motorcycle better than the Vision – I’d like to ride it. Sweeping valances and organic curves included. It was fitted with the luxury ‘throne’ pillion seat and top box too. NESSIE As we were off to the Scottish quarter of New Zealand, and ‘Arlen Ness Victory Vision’ is such a mouthful, we christened it ‘Nessie’ for the trip. We picked it up in Christchurch on the Wednesday afternoon prior to the BMC and after a quick briefing from Garry we hit the road. It was very warm in the City of Churches and we headed south via State Highway 1 in quite excellent conditions and with buoyant spirits. We stopped at Rakaia to take a few snaps of the bike, while it was still in pristine condition and the cloudless skies

prevailed. We grabbed a bite to eat and pushed on to the South, with the steady stream of passing bikes heading for the Challenge. By now I was loving the bike and wondering ‘how @^#$% good is this?’ out loud under my Arai. Beyond Ashburton the wind picked up and it was still quite hot. The Canterbury Plains might be ‘The Breadbasket of the Pacific’ because of their rich agriculture, but they are pretty boring to ride across, particularly in a building gale like the one that now began assaulting us. THE BAROMETER DROPS By the time we got to Timaru she was really rising…the wind, that is. We then rode into a few showers and conditions cooled off considerably as we pushed on, along the coastal fringe, to a photo stop in Oamaru. We posed the bike for a few portraits down by the old waterfront. In parts the old town is like stepping back in time, with the weathered stone facades largely unchanged since whaling was a big industry. The ladies in the Star & Garter Tearooms were typically South Island-friendly as we grabbed a coffee and put on wet weathers in preparation for the colour of the sky in the direction we were heading. Co-pilot is always tracking the barometer at home and was very happy that the Vision has a digital thermometer in its digital display allowing her to keep observations all trip. ‘Jeez, that got cold all of a sudden hey?’ I said, about to skite about how smart I was choosing to wear the threelayered Rev-it touring jacket that I’m still quite chuffed with. ‘It was 27°C just before Rakaia and 6°C

Big Dave & The Co-Pilot’s

coming down the hill into Dunedin,’ she knowledgeably informed me as we unpacked for our overnight stay at the Mercure in the north end of the city. It was an easy ride down the coastal stretch and the occasional sea glimpses kept the scenery interesting, but we knew better roads were yet to come.



he original idea we floated to the Victory Motorcycles team was that we would access their ‘Vision Tour’ demo bike and ride it ‘some part of the way’ down to the Burt Munro Challenge celebrations in Invercargill. Then we’d spend a few days touring Southland and Fiordland on a photo tour.

CARBO LOADING After we settled in, she headed for the Spa and I rode downtown with the stereo pumping. I caught up with a few online buddies down in the city centre where we talked bikes and bull till it was too late for dinner at the hotel; fortunately the kitchens at ‘Etrusco at the Savoy’ in Moray Place (just off the Octagon) were open. It’s my favourite Italian restaurant – ever. Pasta and touring seem to go together. When next you are in Dunedin, make up some excuse about ‘carbo loading for the ride’ and go upstairs for a wonderful atmosphere, good folks and a Bolognaise that excuses being so common as to order Bolognaise. The hosts even came down for a look at the bike before bidding us goodnight. Friday and ‘Business Time.’ BLOW ME DOWN First event on the BMC programme was the Bluff Hill Climb and we had planned to get away early. Seeing both are nominated in the ‘Best Road’ poll, we’d take either the Pig Root or the Catlins to get to the bottom of the Island. Walking to the bike from the front door of the hotel required leaning into the wind. Opening the top box into it took some effort. Sitting a helmet on the seat while packing was out of the ques-

WORDS: Big Dave PICS: Big Dave & The Co-pilot



Left: Memo Van Halen: This must be just like livin’ in paradise. Below: Mount Cook was shrouded in mist, but the run up SH80 was well worth it. FACING PAGE: Top: Lupins at Lake Tekapo. Bottom: Sunset at Lake Te Anau, the TV didn’t get a look in.

cage in the public car park across the road. It’s right in the middle of town and they give you chocolates before bed! COFFEE TIME We spent the next few days trying to avoid the worst of the cyclone that caused the cancellation of the beach races. We had the bike serviced by the friendly lads at KB Motorcycles, drank a fair bit of coffee and bought new thermal clothing in the town.

tion. It would just blow away. By the time we got to Balclutha, and decisions about which route to take, there was only one answer. The cross wind was easily in excess of 100km/hand it was propelling occasionally heavy showers inland. The sky along the coast was as dark and foreboding as a Peter Jackson gloomy scene and the wind gusts on the inland plains were treacherous. ‘Shortest direct route, thanks,’ we said to each other at the junction. These were the conditions for nothing else. Mordor does rainy. So we motored along State Highway 1, dialled the speed limit into the cruise control and cruised the rolling hillsides away, all the way to the Southland plains and on to Bluff. We were remarkably comfortable doing it. The bike dealt with very difficult conditions admirably. A BIT TENSE At one stage we encountered a traffic incident and were diverted on to a seven km detour of single lane, gravel, farm service


track, in 100km/h cross winds, with heavy rain and passing 18-wheelers. I was a bit tense by the time we got back on to the tarmac, but ‘Nessie’ really coped most tidily – all trip. Going over the Bluff causeway it was blowing. Man, was it blowing. But the Hill Climb was sheltered from the elements by the hill itself, and so was the famous signpost we parked the bike under at the end of the road. It’s like a badge of honour for touring bikers, being photographed under that sign. After a wander around the Hill Climb we headed north for the first time on tour to our lodgings for the next three nights. The Kelvin Hotel appears to be Invercargill’s tallest building. It’s an older style establishment that gets three stars in the Qualmark guide. What it lacks in marble bathrooms and gold fittings, it makes up for with happy, helpful staff and the way they make you feel welcome. I wanted to give the bike a bath before taking it to one of the events – bucket, hose by the service entrance and a smile were immediately forthcoming. Secure parking for bikes is available via a lockable

By the time the Burt Munro Challenge events had run their course, the winds had moderated somewhat and conditions generally improved enough that we set out on the second part of the journey with enthusiasm. After the Sunday Street Races at Wyndham, and the conclusion of the official events, we headed west and to our first real opportunity to punt Nessie up some beautiful backcountry roads. FIORDLAND BECKONS We took Route 96 as we headed for Fiordland and our overnight stop at Manapouri. Once again we were impressed by the comfort and capability of the bike as it rolled away the beautiful, lush foothill country delightfully, until we stopped in the shadow of the Southern Alps. If you are looking for a touring-biker friendly place to hang your helmet for the night, check out the Manapouri Lakeview Motor Inn. Host Dave rides a TDM and attended the BMC. He offers good food, a nice bar and clean and tidy rooms at a reasonable tariff – plus one of the nicest outlooks from the restaurant anywhere – watching the sun set over the Cathedral Peaks (1590m) being a highlight. See

We met some great characters along the way. Like Darren and his mate the ‘The Albatross.’


back to Te Anau base, chatting with a number of bikers on the way. Our theme for the ride by now was ‘you’re never alone with a Nessie’ as we were swamped with questions and admirers every time we parked.

“If I get a Kea to take a sandwich out of my mouth will you put me in the mag bro?’ Now I know you’re not supposed to feed them, but what could I say? The bird didn’t take it anyway. for the skinny. Monday morning dawned and we had no trouble getting motivated for the day ahead. In these esteemed pages eight years ago, I rated State Highway 94 ‘NZ’s Best Bike Road.’ I’ve since found a few I like better, but not many. We had allocated a full day to make the 300 km journey to Milford Sound and back to our next night’s accommodation at Te Anau. At first the road follows the Lake Te Anau shoreline with tree-clad escarpments looming beyond the crystal clear waters. AWE-INSPIRING

Through the 1.25 kilometres of rough-hewn tunnel, and on via a descent of switchbacks to the valley floor on the Milford side, the road really is a motorcycle ride of the utmost quality. Conditions were overcast for most of the day. The temperature climbed to 17°C in the valley and dropped to 5°C in the high country. The road is in fair condition and carries quite a lot of tourist traffic, so button off and drink it all in. The bike continued to draw a crowd and was a big hit with the tourists everywhere we stopped. We took dozens of photos for the Japanese tourists wanting to be seen with Nessie.

Beyond Te Anau Downs the road snakes through beautiful tunnels of native forests that line the fringes of the escarpments. Occasionally they open out to a narrow plain on the Eglington Valley floor, nestled between the Earl and Livingstone Mountains. The scene is quite awe-inspiring and it’s only a teaser of what is to come.

We had a quick look around and snapped a few pics out at Milford Sound, but with the grey skies (and a stunning motorcycle waiting) we decided against the boat cruise as we’d done it before in better conditions. It costs around $NZ75pp for a two-hour cruise (Gilligaaannn!) and if you haven’t done it – ride down and do so. It’s a wonder of the natural world.

Past Lake Gunn the road climbs toward the Homer tunnel with Mt Christina (2502m) looming on the right.

DARREN AND HIS MATE We had a few relaxing stops travelling

When last we saw them, their bikes were parked beside the road and they were headed for a beautiful babbling stream – fishing poles in hand. What a wonderful place to travel. We got back to Te Anau mid afternoon and settled in to very amenable accommodation at the Lakeside Motel and had a wander around the pleasant township. It’s another good one for motorcyclists. The Lakeside Motel, Te Anau, has separate living spaces, kitchen and amenities, but the highlight is watching the sun set over the Lake with Flat Mountain away in the distance. Magnificent. Co-pilot says ‘ Definitely recommended – thumbs up’. MORNING INDECISION We left Te Anau reasonably early with the day’s destination ‘undecided.’ After the terrible weather that had prevailed for most of the first few days on tour, the sunshine and 20°C temperatures were most welcome. The roads from Te Anau heading north are a blend of open highway touring and lovely lakeside twisties. By the time we were skirting Lake Wakatipu, south of Queenstown, conditions were close to ideal. Sunny breaks and virtually no wind prevailed.


ROAD FEATURE VICTORY TOUR The ride along the stunningly beautiful lake, in the shadows of The Remarkables provided one of the great sights of the tour. We decided to by-pass Queenstown and push on to the middle of the Island, stopping at Cromwell for lunch instead. More fabulous sights, gorges, mountains, glistening lakes and snow-capped peaks lined the way. OVER THE LINDIS From Cromwell we made excellent time through Lindis Pass and on to Central Otago and the Mackenzie District. Lindis is probably the gentlest pass on the Mainland, but it is a great ride nonetheless, and its long sweepers ideally suited the big Nessie. Beyond Lindis the landscape in Central Otago is completely different to anything we had encountered on the trip so far. Brown and relatively dry, the plains are ringed on all sides by towering peaks. The snow capped Southern Alps lie to the west, the Hawkdun Range and Benmore Peak (1863m) to the east. The road hugs the valley floor and is quite straight and the countryside open


and empty. Punctuated by wide streams flanked by fields of outrageously coloured lupins, with flowers that were almost the same shades as the artwork on the bike. We arrived at our tentative destination of Twizel at around four pm and stopped to take pics by the incredibly blue lakes. With conditions still ideal we decided to push on to Mt Cook. Unfortunately at 3,754m the mountain makes its own weather and it wasn’t playing ball. Shrouded in mist and light rain, only the bottom half was visible. The ride in, along Route 80, was worth the effort however. EPIC PROPORTIONS The flowing road crosses countryside of epic proportions. Vast slopes rise away from the Lake Pukaki basin and the Ben Ohau Range lies to the west, with Dun Flunary rising 2,499m and the Gammack and Burnett Ranges, off to the east, funnel the view to distant Mt Cook. On arrival at the village we considered checking in to a hotel at the foot of the mountain, but with the cloud that encased the upper half of the slopes unlikely to clear for days, we headed back towards Twizel.

Above left: Another stunning lake Te Anau sunset. Right: If I...will you put me in the mag Bro? Below: Beech forests on SH94.

The riding was so nice and conditions so pleasant that when we got to the Route 8 junction we decided to push on to Lake Tekapo instead – and that’s where we hunkered down in the Pepper’s Resort after a lovely Thai meal in the sleepy town. The lakes in the district are an amazing azure blue and Lake Tekapo is no exception. It is simply a stunning place of great natural beauty. The sunset provided another spectacular end to another incredible day’s motorcycle riding. Central Otago is really an amazing place. The roads are generally wide and open and were very well suited to our lounge chair on wheels. THE HOMEWARD LEG Grey, overcast, back to being a bit windy and the Co-pilot reckoned ‘the type of rain my mother would describe as teaming’ greeted our final day on tour. Conditions dictated that we just headed back to Christchurch via the shortest

ROAD FEATURE VICTORY TOUR “Nessie” set in the back blocks of Omaru. You get the feeling that not much has changed since whaling was a big industry. Below: Along the shores of Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown.

direct route, with the intention of making it out to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula for the first time. Easy, straight running out to the east coast above Timaru, trying to skirt the worst of the weather, with a stop for lunch at Pleasant Point. Worth stopping for the name alone and the food at the Railway Café is good and it’s owned by a motorcyclist. Also worth noting were the numerous highway patrol cars on a donut break near Fairlie. Several marked – one mufti. So it was time to hunker down again, turn up the stereo, hit the cruise control (where suitable – there were some long straight stretches heading north along the coast) and we made it to the Akaora turnoff in good time.

MAYBE NEXT TIME Twice before on our tours of the Mainland we have ventured that way, and twice before we were beaten back by the sheer filth of the weather, and for the third time in as many attempts we said ‘stuff this’ and headed back to the city. The Peninsula was shrouded in thick fog and persistent rain, so we had a stop at the pub at Little River and made our way back to town to return the bike. We gave it a quick wash and from there it was by taxi to the Airport and home to wade through gigabytes of pics. What places the Southern Alps and Southland are! It’s no wonder that vast tracts of the Alps are World Heritage listed. It’s hum-

bling, it’s epic, it’s an amazing experience to sit outside on a motorcycle and watch it all roll by. It’s full of great folks, is extremely tourist friendly, and is jaw drop-ing-ly beautiful. If you haven’t been down there for a ride around, start planning now. Log on to and check out some of the attractions of the Mighty South, and if you are looking for a real good excuse to head down for a look around, next year’s Burt Munro Challenge will be a ripper. Hope to see you down there. Nessie might be a hard act to top though! Thanks to Victory Motorcycles NZ and Kerryn from Venture Southland for making it all possible.


WORDS & PICS: Big Dave We featured a Vision on the cover on the November 2008 edition of KR and the capability of the bike impressed us then. So when Victory gave us an opportunity to use their Arlen Ness Custom Vision, #164 of 200, for a serious tour test around Southland, we jumped at the chance. Arlen Ness is regarded as a pioneer of custom bike building. His works are famous amongst the chopper fraternity and some of his bikes are legendary. Victory proudly announces that he personally customised the Limited Edition ‘Arlen Ness Vision’ in the accompanying blurb. “In styling the bike, Arlen Ness either blacked-out components or chromed them. Chrome features include the: handlebars, floorboards, brake and shift levers, handlebar tips and side stand. Ness custom treatment is found everywhere on the bike, even on the hand and foot controls. The black and chrome styling features blackedout items such as the body and accent panels, forks, tip over protection, passenger handles, instrument panel, anodized belt guard and license plate mount.” The machine he created is one that certainly polarises opinions.

VERY ACCOMPLISHED Whatever you think of the styling, after a very thorough test, in occasionally difficult and trying conditions, we can attest to its capability as a very accomplished Grand Tourer – that it also works as a very cool cruiser. This is a wonderful motorcycle to spend an extended tour on. It starts with room to move. It’s large. (Another blindingly brilliant BD insight!) It weighs in excess of 365kg and has a wheelbase of 1670mm. It’s also a contender for the ‘most bodywork on a motorcycle ever’ award, even allowing for the fact the engine is intentionally left uncovered. It’s comfortable. The seat is low, cruiser low, 673mm, but it is very plush and the foot accommodation is probably the best on any bike for comfort. The long footboards, combined with the tip-over protection outriggers, offer a variety of leg positions that make it very much like sitting in a favourite lounge chair – even for a BD size unit. PILLION FRIENDLY The passenger is also brilliantly catered for, although the Top Box is an additional extra


YOU’RE NEVER ALONE WITH NESSIE on the Ness Model. Also missing from the Touring model are the heated grips (replaced with bling) and the heated seat (replaced with hand stitched leather bling). As it turned out they weren’t really missed on this trip either. The bodywork and electric screen did such a good job of insulating us from the elements. We copped some extreme conditions on the run down to Invercargill. 140km/h cross winds, detours on to dirt roads in heavy rain and plummeting temperatures. Most of which we were quite nicely protected from, inside the bubble the whole setup creates. The stability of the machine in the conditions actually surprised me. ‘You might have to tack a bit’ Gary said when we were discussing the trip into the forecast gales. It was a pretty fair description of the ensuing action. The guys on the lighter, naked bikes were having a much rougher time of it.

The only time I’ve noticed any irregularity in the Vision aerodynamics is on the freeway following a large vehicle – it transmits some buffeting, but in extreme touring conditions I’d have to give it an A+. It is quite effective at keeping the lower half dry in moderate rain too.




FUN TO RIDE TOO For all its size it’s still fun to ride. We logged just on 2,000km for the tour and I didn’t scrape anything or touch down anywhere all trip. It has good enough ground clearance to comfortably deal with the (corners sign-posted as) 75s at 100km/h. The 1731cc (badged 106 cubic inch), SOHC 4-valve V-twin engine has self adjusting valves and hydraulic lifters and purrs along nicely. It’s fed by a closed loop EFI system and develops 109ftlbs of torque at and 68kWs (92 horsepower) close to its 5,500rpm redline. It has good overtaking pull and is remarkably smooth in cruise mode. The range on a tank full varied with how sportily I pushed the bike along, but a return of 16.9km/l was most consistently displayed on the digital trip computer nestled between the analogue dials. The LCD has a variety of trip computer functions. Stopping is taken care of by a set of 300mm brakes. Twin floating discs with three-piston calipers up front and one two-piston unit aft. They are linked, provide good feel with a light touch and are confidence inspiring, even when doing low speed manoeuvres on the gravel. They sit in the middle of some beautiful custom billet wheels that sport a 130 front and 180 section rear tyre. The clutch is equally light and when I looked at all the riding pics co-pilot took, I only have two fingers on the levers in any of them. A PLEASURE TO LIVE WITH The ease of control (for a bike so large) and 50 KIWI RIDER

road manners of the bike were a pleasure to live with. Two people getting on and off the bike, past the large top box, in touring gear, was the only inconvenience, but that’s normal for full dressers. When conditions improved I wound the screen down, folded in the side deflectors and sat back and watched it all roll past in wonderful comfort. The luggage is often maligned because it looks like it should hold more than it does, but we fitted all our gear, cameras, chargers, two dozen KR hats, bike brochures, stickers and co-pilot’s shoes on board. The top box easily accommodates two full-face helmets. Which is handy, because you’re never alone with this bike.

Engine: Air-oil-cooled 50° SOHC 8-valve V-twin Compression ratio: 9.4:1 Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection Starter: Electric Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh Primary drive: Belt Frame: Tubular steel Suspension front: Conventional 43mm dia. telescopic forks Suspension rear: Linkage-type w/ single gas-charged shock absorber Tyres: 130/70 R18 Dunlop Elite 3 front & 180/60 R16 Dunlop Elite 3 rear Brakes: Twin disc front & single disc rear Wheelbase: 1670mm Seat height: 673mm Dry weight: 365kg Fuel capacity: 22.7l RRP: $42,500

were queuing up to have their picture taken with the bike. Everyone had an opinion. We tagged the tour ‘You’re never alone with Nessie.’ It’s quite a celebrity machine, from its diamond-cut cylinders to the four speaker stereo system and effective cruise control. It sure draws a crowd. Don’t let the custom looks and deportment fool you, because it’s also a competent Grand Tourer; it dealt with some miserable conditions admirably, and it doubles as a very classy cruiser. Long may it roam. KR

SURE DRAWS A CROWD The stream of people who stop and ask about it is constant. Japanese tourists

Top: Mt Cook. Below: Admirers at Teretonga.


Southland’s Burt Munro Challenge is getting bigger – not to mention better – with each passing year. Big Dave has the story. WORDS & PICS: Big Dave




t was my third trip to the annual ‘Challenge but a first for The Copilot. This time the good folks from Venture Southland got us as far as Christchurch and then we rode down to Invercargill on a fabulous Victory Vision test bike. This was the first time either of us had ridden to the Challenge and it’s fair to say that the weather gods seemed hell-bent on making us remember it, battling, as we did, severe gales all the way from Dunedin, and conditions as we crossed the final flatlands out to Bluff for the first event of the 2009 programme, could only be described as atrocious. However, however, however, it’s all the about the journey isn’t it, and

believe you me the journey didn’t disappoint. Burt Munro won the Bluff Hill Climb in 1940, with a record time, and this year the event was included on the BMC programme, for the first time, on the Thursday afternoon. TOUGH AT THE TOP I was seriously wondering if it would even be held at all given the conditions, but when we got to the venue we found that the tar-sealed 1.4km section was on the leeward side of the hill and the race was held in a stiff breeze with occasional sunshine and a few passing showers, while conditions at the top and on the other side of the hill were Antarctic.

Not exactly ideal to be pinning a lightweight Supermotard or F1 machine into the teeth of either, but the competitors hardened up, Southern Man style, and attacked it. There was a reasonable crowd in attendance to witness the spectacle too. Southland local Jason Feaver emulated Burt by taking his Honda CR500 to a new record time of 49.01 seconds for the overall win and the under 600cc class trophy as well. Aaron Green from Gore rode his Kawasaki ZX-10R to the top of the hill – and the podium for the open class win with a time of 50.11 seconds. Shane Livingston was second and Andrew Stroud (making his first appearance at the BMC) took third on his Gixxer thou KIWI RIDER 47

ROAD FEATURE BURT MUNRO in what was also his first Hill Climb. Kevin Ryan’s Bonneville was quickest up the hill in the Classics class and Tim George took the Quads in another first for the event. The four wheelers were quite spectacular going up the gradient, with several seriously crossed up moments in the action. The event was an interesting addition to the Challenge itinerary and we headed back to Invercargill nicely


entertained and with the mother of all tail winds. We then settled in to the Kelvin Hotel in the city for a few days. AN EVENING WITH AARON & ANDREW The entry on Thursday evening’s calendar was ‘An evening with Aaron Slight and Andrew Stroud’ put on by the Southland Motorcycle club at the Ascot Park conference centre.

It’s a nice facility and it was great to hear these two Kiwi legends talking about their careers in a relaxed environment. They fielded questions from the floor into the evening. Andrew even plugged in his laptop and showed the crowd some of his best crashes projected on the big screen. Aaron’s recounting of taking a pair of handlebars into the operating theatre to make sure his reconstructive surgery


Gale-force westerly winds might have called off the Beach Racing on Friday but it didn’t stop the Bluff Hill Climb on Thursday or the street race meeting at Wyndham on Sunday. (Rught) Quads – this one piloted by Tim George – supplemented the twowheel entry in the Hill Climb up Bluff Hill. Special guests (below) over the Challenge weekend were road-racers Andrew Stroud and Aaron Slight. And Roger Donaldson’s new multi-media (book/DVD) project on Burt Munro was officially launched at the event.

would accommodate a twist grip and Andrew’s recounting of the last days of his friend John Britten were amongst the sometimes emotional, but mainly good fun, highlights. They are two great ambassadors for the sport and any aspiring racer should look at the way Andrew Stroud serves his sponsors for a textbook lesson on how it should be done. NEW BOOK ON BURT Also featuring in the presentation was the launch of a new book ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ By Roger Donaldson.

The cover note reads ’Burt Munro – A Scrapbook of his Life’ and it was introduced by Burt’s son John at the conclusion of the AS show. If you have been to the Museum in Invercargill and seen the very interesting Burt Munro exhibit, viewed the photos and wished ‘Gee, I’d like some of them as a keepsake’, then this is $50 you should spend. It’s a simply beautiful publication about this iconic Kiwi and his pals. Friday’s forecast didn’t look too bad when we made our blog entry before turning in. By the way, you can check out our blog of the trip and hundreds of photos and video by following the ‘Victory Tour’ links on the kiwirider. web site. Unfortunately the Friday weather did not understand the forecast and the winds and rain increased in velocity throughout the day. The Victory was having its oil and filter changed by the most amenable blokes at KB Motorcycles, (212 Bond Street – and they have Kiwi Rider stickers) who informed me that the ‘winds are forecast to reach 145km/h on the sand this afternoon’. BUGGER! Co-pilot cut the sheeting and I applied the tape as we spent some of the afternoon fabricating the best weather protection for our cameras and equipment we could make – then we hunkered down in a café with the Auckland crew. When we eventually put ALL of our

gear on and headed out to the beach we knew something was amiss as soon as we turned towards Foveaux Strait. Oreti Beach is 10 minutes from the hotel and the line of bikes coming back from the beach was as long as the one heading out. They had all turned back to Invercargill. ‘We can’t keep the cones on the beach.’ And ‘The rain has opened up large ruts in the course,’ one of the marshals told me. Sounded like all the justification that was needed to call it off. GOOD ON ‘YA MATE! I love photographing the event – it’s a natural spectacle with sand fl ying and great angles, but I was glad it was canned. It was terrible out there, so we beat a hasty retreat to the Speight’s Alehouse and the promise of better weather for the Sprint Races at Teretonga on Saturday. Thankfully the forecast was accurate and we got a pretty nice day. Still breezy, but the surrounding pine plantations made a moderately effective wind break for the picturesque circuit. The fields were large – in excess of 40 motards had to be spilt into classes – and there were big numbers in Formula Three and Classics events. With the championship season looming, Invercargill is a long way for some of the F1 and F2 teams to manage logistically, but Aces Stroud and Hayden Fitzgerald put on a great KIWI RIDER 49


firs-rate Southland Motorsports facility to the nearby Oreti Park Speedway, for a full programme of slipping and a-slidin’ on the dirt oval. The sight was reminiscent of classic British Speedway footage and feature films of the ‘40s, when crowds the size of an All Blacks audience turned out to watch Speedway Racing. By the time the heats were in full swing conditions were sunny and clear and the crowd was three or four deep all the way around the Oval. Grant Tregoning defended his Solo A crown, with Dale Finch and 2007 Winner Andy Aldridge separated by a run-off for the minors. Chopper Bagshaw took the Solo Support win and Pete Stenning won the Classic Solo class.

show in some of the professional heats. BRITTEN DEMO Andrew also got the Britten out for a few parade laps, much to the delight of the large crowd, and there was no shortage of starters for the ‘Have a Go’ parade laps. Nicholas Cole and John Ross also put on some good racing with several lead changes to share the F2 points on the afternoon and James Hoogenboozem stood atop the F3 standings after the heats. Gavin Veltmeyer was dominant in the Open Supermotards, Mitch Rowe took second place and Darcy Prendergast was third. Trevor Chapman took the SM2 class with John Crawford second and KR compadre Steven Croad in third. It was a great day’s racing and the mood in the pits was befitting the celebration with large crowds milling around the Britten (which had its clothes off and was being a bit cantankerous) or they spent time moving amongst the machines and teams and the track. Other groups were sprawled out around the park-like grounds that surround most of Teretonga and they were taking in some good dicing. Co-pilot shot some hand-held video of the day which also can be found on the KR web site. SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE SPEEDWAY After the big session at Teretonga the large crowd made its way across the 50 KIWI RIDER

Sidecars (the one leading here is powered by an old-skool Yamaha XS650 twin engine) put on a spectacular show at the Speedway on Saturday night before the party at rally HQ later that evening (and early next morning!!).

Fraser Gillespie and David Uitentuis took the win from a large field of Sidecars. It was another great spectacle with some big spills. There was a slightly boggy spot between turns three and four which brought a few riders to grief


with some big impacts with the concrete wall. They all got up and walked back to the pits. Hard men. PARTY TIME At the conclusion of the speedway meeting the crowd drifted back to the rally site in preparation for the night’s big party. The huge marquee had to be repaired after tearing in the howling winds on Thursday, but was all in good order to host revellers enjoying the bands and a few bevvies late into the night. Sunday dawned reasonably overcast and still a bit windy. ‘These winds are forecast to last until Christmas.’ The guys at KB had said. I was starting to believe it. It was still fresh when we got to Wyndham, and the poplar trees surrounding the township were bent in the Westerlies, but the hay-baled streets were protected from the worst of it and another full day’s motorsport kicked off on time. You get the feeling that apart from the ice cream posters and packaging not much has changed in the General Store in Wyndham since Munro was a boy. RACING IN THE STREETS Now the biggest event of the year is the Street Racing. The locals move a couch onto the front lawn and the sleepy hamlet is host to competitors charging around its erstwhile quiet avenues at

Sunday saw the riders and spectators head north-west to Wyndham and the street race meeting which – from a spectacle point of view – was dominated by the Motards. That said, one of the most popular entries was Chris Fisken’s Indian – which won the girder class. Burt’s streamliner (not to mention his spirit) was never far from the action...finally, prize for the best ‘backing it in’ performance over the weekend went to our own ‘Croady’s Bling Bike,’ Steven Croad.

breakneck speed. Followed by a caravan of thousands of motorcycles and their riders. It’s another good party day set to the beat of roaring engines.

Supermotard open class and Brent Scammell won the 450s. Croady was on the podium again too and was easily pulling the ‘best backing it in’ manoeuvers on the day.

Chris Fisken’s Indian looked a peach as always as he ran away with the Girder class classics. Chris McMeeken’s Suzuki again was dominant in the Posties, and the F3 was taken by Bryan Hill.

By the time we were backing the Victory out of its parking spot at the conclusion of the meeting our thirst for motorsport had been well quenched by the Burt Munro Challenge.

The F1 and F2 fields were combined and the 600s proved particularly well suited to the tight street track.

It’s a great, well run event and still the biggest one in Southland. This year was again a credit to the organizers and the Southland Motorcycle club.

Andrew Stroud took the day, but not after some very close racing with Nicholas Cole on his ZX-6R. Gavin Veltmeyer again took the

Can’t wait till next year and a chance to drink it all in again. Hell of a weekend. KR KIWI RIDER 53


WORDS & PICS: Big Dave


riumph’s official verbiage for their new Rocket Roadster goes like this: ‘The world’s ultimate motorcycle roadster moves out of pure cruiser territory and transcends into that of the ultimate muscle streetfighter with the new Rocket III Roadster.’ It was a Roadster before it was a Roadster?…I’m confused, but only by the hyperbole, not by the bike. I ‘got’ the bike after five minutes riding it. This is the best Rocket Hinckley has produced so far. It’s like the Ed and his new-found appreciation for the Daytona 675. A few modifications for 2010 have enhanced his appreciation of the machine. I was already a fan, but same with me and the R3. You wouldn’t think that so much could be changed by a tweak to the engine, the footpeg position and the rear shocks, but the big beastie

First came the custom cruiser, then the full-dress tourer. Now Triumph completes the three-card Rocket III hand with the aptly named Roadster. is a noticeably different ride to its predecessors.

performance electric motor must be like, with instant, enormous torque.

The engine has been tweaked to the tune of power output up 4.4 kWs (six hp) and the already generous torque is bumped a further 21 Newton metres (16 ft lbs).

The Roadster also has improved cornering clearance via its mid control and it corners very nicely (for the size of the machine).

THE DADDY! This is THE Daddy if you like top gear roll on. There is no other standard motorcycle that feels as ‘strong’ as the Roadster. It’s generally not worth revving the engine to anywhere near red line, because that is well past the maximum torque zone, and where it is just a thing of great beauty. It gives an inkling of what a high

It hasn’t got as much leg room as the other variants but the peg position means you can use pretty much all of the huge rear tyre. The ergos are better suited to chucking it around. When it’s going it’s all very predictable. There’s a lot of it, but it all behaves like it should. I really like the look of it too. It has that Speed Triple-like menace about it and much of the engine has been blacked out, which enhances the chromed exhausts and other KIWI RIDER 23

ROAD TEST TRI RIII ROADSTER embellishments. The large, 3-2 exhaust system is also an improvement over previous models. In appearance and note. The song it sings on board now is unique and quite pleasant. You can kinda’ hear how big it really is down there now. I did several day rides that included cruising around the city and environs as well as a 200km sporty jaunt around the Northern Waikato. Every time I came away thinking ‘what an absolutely fantastic motorcycle.’ I rode from Rangiriri to SH22 and up that way home on one outing and only scraped the pegs once. I wasn’t hammering it, but wasn’t mucking about either. The ground clearance is still that of a very large, wide bike. It needs some body English to get the best from it, but it’s quite real-worldly in the twisties. FIRST RATE

point, and you’ll need to be a bit cashed up to keep it in rear tyres, but WOW, what a ride! Back in the days before Facebook and Twitter we used to get our gossip from email lists and digests. I remember that when the first rumours of the Rocket III began to surface in my in-box it was going to be a road warrior, like the Roadster is now. But Triumph said that by turning the original into a Cruiser they would limit the potential for riders to come to grief on it – and they governed the machine in first and second gears. THE MARCH OF TECHNOLOGY I guess the technology has come a long way since those days. Seven model years later ABS is now standard and the ‘tightness’ of the whole package has improved significantly since I was doing clandestine laps to the airport late at night to get the Press bikes shaken down for their national release in 2003.

Engine, gearbox, drive are all first rate. Power development is smooth, strong and the definition of ‘grunt.’ Twist the throttle at 100km/h – 2,200rpm – and it just surges on the 221Nm of torque.

Now it’s a large ‘standard’ motorcycle.

As you’d expect with a 2,300cc engine, fuel economy isn’t its strong

I appreciated a large motorcycle that suits a big bloke which isn’t a feet-


I found it was a real pleasure to ride in the glorious conditions in the early North Island autumn.

More power and torque plus midship placement of footpegs and foot controls gives big-bore fans a Rocket III which slots half-way between original custom-style cruiser and later full-dress tourer models.


Unique in-line three-cylinder engine remains the biggest twowheeler powerplant in (volume) production. Bike has found a ready market here in New Zealand and new Roadster model broadens the appeal, providing a similar platform to that of the late, lamented, limited edition Honda Valkyrie.

SPECIFICATIONS TRIUMPH ROCKET III ROADSTER ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled DOHC 12-valve in-line 3-cylinder 4-stroke Displacement: 2294cc Compression ratio: 8.7:1 Bore x stroke: 101.6 x 94.3mm Maximum Power: 109 kW (146bhp) @ 5750rpm Maximum Torque: 221Nm (163 ft.lbs) @ 2750 rpm Starting system: Electric Engine management system: CDI Fuel system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection Clutch: Wet multiplate Transmission: 5-speed constant mesh Final drive: Shaft FRAME Type: Tubular steel twin spine Swingarm: Steel shaft drive Front suspension: USD-type 43mm Kayaba telescopic forks Rear suspension: Twin Kayaba coil-over shock absorbers w 5-position preload damping Brakes: Nissin ABS-equipped twin 320mm floating rotor discs w/Nissin 4-piston calipers front & single 315mm rotor disc w/ Brembo 2-piston floating caliper rear Wheels: Cast aluminium alloy 5-spoke Tyres: 150/80 R17 front & 240/50 R 16 rear

forward affair. It has all the benefits that an upright riding position offers when punting the bike along in typical NZ conditions. It cruises beautifully yet won’t be found lacking in any company on the open road. It’s not a particularly hard bike to manage once mobile, but I really think it’s a machine for a steady and experienced hand. For instance, you do have to watch how fast the corners come at you, as it gets between them so quickly and without apparent effort or the need to change gears. I found it an altogether delightful torque-filled ride. It’s stable, quite predictable and well mannered – for a 367kg unit. The gel seat is comfortable and I had no trouble doing all-day rides with no saddle soreness evident. It turned a lot heads and has the sort of presence you’d expect from the world’s largest production motorcycle. At $26,500 + orc (including ABS) the Roadster is some WOW! Machine. KR

DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1695mm Rake: 32° Trail: 148mm LxWxH: 250 x 970 x 1165mm Seat height: 750mm Wet weight: 367kg Fuel tank capacity: 24L RRP: $25,990 Test bike: Triumph NZ Ltd More information: newzealand



Triumph’s Tiger started outt w as an Adventure bike. Now it’s more a sports sort of Tourer. Big Dave has the story. WORDS: Big Dave PICS: Osborne



Triumph decided to rein-in original Tiger’s all-roads focus which has paid dividends if the majority of your riding is done on tarmac

82kW (111hp) @ 9400 rpm and maximum torque of 98Nm ( at 6250 rpm. They are good numbers for two up touring or solo sporting. The 6-speed gearbox clicks tidily into place, the clutch is light and easy and the Nissin radial brakes are excellent. Final drive is by chain. It’s quite a long travel unit too, but the tensioner system has also been improved over earlier models.


n its web site Triumph declares that the Tiger is ‘The Perfect All Rounder.’ That’s a nice bit of hyperbole for what is a truly excellent bike for New Zealand conditions. I posted a picture of this black beastie online with a caption that stated, ‘if anything happened to my current ride, that’s my next bike, right there.’ Of all the machines tested currently, this is the one that speaks to me loudest. No bull. That said, there are a few things I’d change about this ‘perfection.’ An optional Triumph tall seat ($650) and a shorter windscreen would pretty much be the extent of it though, particularly if it came fitted with the Arrow exhaust like the test bike. The standard windscreen gives me a lot of noise and buffeting, but I say that about every non-electric windscreen, and it’s an easy fix. So is the seat, as standard it’s been sculpted low to accommodate shorter riders, but if you are longer of leg, extra comfort can be easily clipped on. ANIMATED SUSPENSION My minor gripe with earlier model Tigger’s suspenders has been entirely resolved with the inclusion of Showa 43mm upside down forks with adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping up front and Showa Monoshock rear with adjustable preload and rebound damping. Well fixed – but that was done in a previous model. The 2010 model has an improved instrument layout and not much else changes from the ‘09 units. The digi speedometer is housed in an analogue tacho dial face. 32 KIWI RIDER

I guess this is partly indicative of the state of the global economy, and some recognition that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ What carries over since the release of the 1050 is a machine fitted with the best standard road bike engine on the market, possibly ever... SUBLIME POWERPLANT You know that saying ‘I’m not doing all this just to be different’? These days it usually emanates from a face with multiple piercings. So, OK, I admit that once I was attracted to the triple because it was so different. Now it’s because it has evolved into a sublime powerplant. It has some of the low-down, low-rev punch of a large vee-twin and marries it with the free revving ability of an in-line four. All the while delivering tremendous, smooth and linear power, right through its rev range. Once off idle, twist and rip wheelies are just a matter of twisting hard enough, yet it will happily and smoothly deal with peak hour snarls and is equally magic on the open road, regardless of how hard you want to wick it up. SMOOTH AS SILK The liquid-cooled triple displaces 1050cc from a 79 x 71.4mm bore and stroke. It’s fuelled by a multi-point efi that, even with the after-market Arrow pipe fitted, is as smooth as silk. It didn’t stumble or bumble once in the time I rode it, it just sounded fabulous. Not too loud, not loud at all, just that nice, unique triple burble, made richer. Triumph claims maximum power of

The front 120/70 ZR 17 and rear 180/55 ZR 17 tyres remain something of a bugbear for the Adventure riding enthusiasts who have become accustomed to the older 955i Tiger’s dirtabilty, but the upright ergos and general sure footedness of the new bike’s 1510mm wheelbase mean it’s still quite capable of a squirt up an occasional dirt road. It’s only when conditions get too wet and boggy that the road rubber doesn’t deal.


SPECIFICATIONS TRIUMPH TIGER ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled DOHC 12-valve in-line 3 cylinder 4-stroke Displacement: 1050cc Compression ratio: 12.0:1

Co-pilot also rates the passenger comfort amongst her favourites. The stepped seat allows for good visibility from its rear section. Getting on and off the bike in full kit with the optional touring luggage can be a bit difficult for the passenger, but once on board and underway all that is forgiven. It’s just such a sweet ride.

Bore x stroke: 79 x 71.4mm

The CoG is relatively high, but once you have the suspension dialled in, the aluminium twin spar frame works well with the Showas and it’s an entirely predictable ride. The ground clearance is also good. No scraping at all – even when hamming it up for the photo shoot.


The 20 litre fuel tank provided good New Zealand touring range and it’s allday-riding kind of comfortable. The Tiger works in the city, for touring, sports riding and for general hack work.


On the tarmac it really shines. The riding position is ideal for dealing with Kiwi roads. It’s upright, with wide, relatively flat bars and is close to optimum for vision and hazard avoidance, while allowing room for rider and passenger to move. The upgraded suspension deals nicely too.

Starting system: Electric Engine management system: CDI Fuel system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection Clutch: Wet multi-plate Transmission: 6-speed Final drive: Chain

Type: Aluminium beam perimeter Swingarm: Braced, twin-sided aluminium alloy Front suspension: Showa USD-type 43mm fork w/ adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping Rear suspension: Show monoshock w/ adjustable preload & rebound damping Brakes: Twin 320mm rotor floating discs w/ radially-mounted Nissin 4-piston calipers front & single 255mm rotor w/ Nissin 2-piston caliper rear

The black livery with gold forks and embellishments turns it into my idea of quite a fetching bit of kit to look at too – without being different enough to need piercings.

Wheels: Cast aluminium alloy multispoke 3.5 in. dia. x 17 front & 5.5 in. dia. x 17 rear

Prices start from $19,590. The Arrow slip on is $1,395. There are optional Ohlins suspension upgrade kits, and seat, luggage and ABS options to consider; however configured, it ticks all my boxes for a New Zealand road bike. KR

Wheelbase: 1510mm

Tyres: 120/70ZR17 front & 180/55ZR17 rear DIMENSIONS Rake: 23.2° Trail: 87.7mm LxWxH: 2110 x 840 x 1320mm Seat height: 835mm Kerb weight: 228kgs Fuel tank capacity: 20L RRP: $19,590 ($20,790 with ABS) Test bike: Triumph NZ Ltd GEAR Helmet: Arai Jacket and pants: Rev’it Boots: Harley-Davidson FXR

One of the sweetest engines in motorcycle-dom powers tall, gangly Tiger all-rounder. In basic trim Tiger is a light, nimble large capacity sports/ tourer, as happy carrying a pillion as it is being ridden solo. Basic spec can be supplemented by all sorts of factory-approved Triumph accessories like the sweet-sounding Arrow muffler fitted to the test bike.




s luck would have it, I’d lined up an ‘Editorial meeting’ with The Ed at the t Café.

The deal was to hand over a disc containing images and a bike test, have a cuppa, plan our b inevitable takeover of the world’s in motorsports media and yack m about a bo motorcycles.

He was in the KR truck; en-route to pick up the Triumph Thunderbird and the Aprilia Mana. I was only trying to help the man out, honest. ‘Oh, can I do the Thunderbird bit for you?’ All nonchalant like, trying not to let any bung fizzage show. An hour later I had been home, changed into my old skool No.9 Triumph riding kit and was pushing the silver and black beastie out of the Triumph depot with as much calm disposition as was possible. Keen as. The Stretch and Big Dave show had done the original shake-downs and run-ins on the first batch of press bikes, but this was my first chance to have a fang on a ripe, ready-to-rev motor. And what a peach it is. I also have a feeling that blokes like me have been saying that about Thunderbirds for a very long time. (See sidebar story) A LEGEND RE-BORN Have a quick look at the specification sheet from Hinckley’s third incarnation of the Thunderbird and at first glance it looks almost conventional. ‘Get on a legend reborn’ proclaims the web site….if re-born is the right word for a Hulk-like transformation from spindly sixties all-rounder to muscle-bound, liquid-cooled DOHC 270 degree firing interval, parallel twin-powered monster ready with the presence of one of those buff built body-builder types bulging out of their too-tight T-Shirts outside nightclubs! In fact, if you physically look at the bike, before reading the specs, there isn’t anything to give you much of an indication how radical it really is. It’s just very handsome in an understated, unobtrusive kind of way. “It hasn’t even got Thunderbird written on it anywhere,” observed Osborne as he was taking the detail shots. 26 KIWI RIDER

Even just the thought of a 1500+cc parallel twin engine is daunting….yet as Big Dave found out there’s more to Triumph’s new Thunderbird than its 2XL engine capacity. WORDS: Big Dave PICS: Geoff Osborne




third gear and ‘pin it.’ This, I found out (as I experimented!!) is because there is quite a large gap between second and third ratios and to get the best out of the T’Bird I found it best to follow sports V twin practice and leave it in the higher gear. The engine isn’t without vibration – you can certainly feel those big pistons going up and down – yet conversely, the vibe is nothing like that of the aforementioned V-twin. If anything it is… like that of Triumph’s smaller capacity parallel twins, being noticeable but neither intrusive nor annoying. Quite the opposite, in fact, as I found myself enjoying the feel of what was going on with each revolution of the engine. SURE-FOOTED

“Check the Speedometer, old boy,” I replied in my best clipped British accent. The speedo being the only place we could find the model designation. It’s when you ride the bike and study the numbers more closely that the link to the past becomes entirely romantic. NUMBERS GAME Just say we take the first two T’birds – 649cc Twin and 885cc Triple – and we average the capacity: 790cc. The 2010 incarnation displaces 798.5cc in each of its twin spark plug cylinders! The 1597cc twin has a bore and stroke of 103.8 x 94.3mm and is a delightful engine, and one – I must say – which is more conventional in character than the one which powers Triumph’s other heavy hitter – the Rocket III. And although both machines are agile, T’bird hides its 339kg wet weight particularly well. Getting along, one of the first things you notice is that the 6-speed constant mesh gearbox and belt final drive system is geared tall, meaning the big ‘Bird won’t trundle along at 1,100rpm in top gear like the Rocket. It has bundles of torque nonetheless with the peak figure (146Nm) produced at just 2750rpm. That’s right, peak torque at just 2,750rpm! Meaning, fellow members of short-shifters anon, that this is an engine for you. One with (and I checked) the equivalent of the pulling power of a Norton Commando…from each cylinder. That said the big parallel twin powerplant does rev out quite nicely too. When I eventually found the tacho (in the tank-mounted instrument cluster) it made sense of the claimed max power output 28 KIWI RIDER

of just 63kW (85hp) which is produced at 4850rpm. It’s just a sweet, easy, unstressed large capacity engine. CHASSIS-WISE Chassis-wise the 1615mm wheel base is supported on Showa 47mm forks with 120mm travel up front and chromed (again Showa) twin shocks with 5-position adjustable preload, offering 95mm rear wheel travel, at the back, the smooth, compliant action merely confirming how much of a fan-boy I am for Showa suspension. Combined with the delightfully easygoing nature of the engine it is, in fact, very easy to ride around grinning like the Fonz when you’re in cruise mode on the T’Bird, Even when you take it out of cruise mode and get into some more sporting road conditions the engine is an absolute delight – particularly if you just leave it in

The sure-footed nature of the handling package helps as well. Remember when Cruiser style motorcycles were all a bit vague in the handling department? Now I’m comfortable calling it sure-footed. Put it back into ‘cruise’ mode and it purrs along with just the slightest tick evident from the engine. I quite enjoy the note from the standard, upswept pipes too. It’s got some lovely lines, as in Geoff Osborne’s Beach Café pic, I found myself enjoying the classic swoops of the bodywork and chrome and the comparatively Spartan appearance of the engine. There is a liberal application of chrome to the engine and the view from the rider’s seat is of one of the nicest looking Strong, silent-type look and feel disguises a real spring in big new T’Bird’s step. Bike is happy in either kick-back or push-on modes….just like tester Big Dave really.



By Big Dave

As many KR readers would know, the first Meriden Triumph T’bird was introduced in 1950 and since Marlon Brando rode his own 649cc twin in the cinema classic ‘The Wild One’ the name has had significance in motorcycle lore.

Hop online, Google and bookmark ‘Ian Chadwick’s Triumph Timeline’ for a more in-depth look at the period. See also British Motorcycle Industry: Decline and Fall of. Fast forward a generation and the

‘The Fonz’ even rode a modified T’bird for a few seasons of Happy Days.

second incarnation of the T’bird was

The US version, the ‘toughened up’ Blackbird, was a huge seller. Even the totally weird models from various later releases were surprisingly popular.

Triple displaced 885cc and was

Nacelle, and even the Bathtub versions of the machine, sold in bigger than you would expect numbers. (I mean c’mon you old boys, what’s up with the instruments mounted in a nacelle? The only other vehicles to embrace it are small capacity scooters!)

from the third Triumph factory. Hinckley’s first T’bird, the 1995 also significant as the new firm’s first departure from the ‘modular approach’. Up until the release of its more traditional lines, the early Hinckley range had consisted of virtually the same machine dressed in different clothing or with an extra pot added. The 885 T’bird won several bike of the year awards and made numerous media and film appearances as well

However trippy they went in the 50s and 60s the first Thunderbirds evolved into the very capable forerunner of the Bonneville. One of the greatest bikes ever.

– although Harry Potter and Pamela

Streamliners that broke land speed records also started life as T’birds.

better disclose that bit of prejudice

Anderson’s Barb Wire ain’t exactly The Wild One! One still resides in my shed, so I as well. I’ve had a lot of very special rides on a T’bird.

front ends on a motorcycle. Yanking the handlebars up a few inches from standard helped them fit me nicely too. I had some of the air cooled V-twin crowd complain about the look of radiator. It’s one of those things that looks bigger in the pictures – I rarely notice it when I look at the bike and I found stopping to look at the bike was almost as pleasurable as riding it. The stopping is taken care of by a combination of twin Nissin front and Brembo rear brakes. Good brakes. PLEASANT MANNERS I put them and the rest of the package through their paces on a very enjoyable run through my standard Bombay Hills and Hunuas test loop. The open road manners are very pleasant. The machine is happy to just trundle along, or be ridden a little more aggressively – that ‘leave it in third and hammer’ thing. It got quite a workout doing laps of Geoff during the photo shoot too. Pin it, ride past photog, brake hard, U-turn, pin and repeat. ‘It’s a happy sounding thing too!’ he said.

Left: Don’t mess with me fella! Marlon Brando made the first-generation Thunderbird (in) famous courtesy his role as motorcycle gang leader Johnny in The Wild One. Right: Heeeeeey! The Fonz from TV show Happy Days was another high-profile T’Bird owner back in the day.

It also makes a good urban weapon. It’s not as narrow as a Speedmaster for lane splitting duty and the handlebars are quite wide, but its manners are like the Speedmaster on steroids. Very comfortable to bang around town and I had some excellent waterfront cruises as well. Physically it’s more Speedmaster than Rocket III, a low KIWI RIDER 29


ma machine with the seat height a mere 70 700mm. A big part of the marketing a approach Triumph have taken with the bike are the customisation and accessory options. It almost harks b back to the original Hinckley theme of turning one platform into several dif different bikes. FULL OPTION PACKAGE

There are full touring options, gel seats, luggage and screens available. Or you can turn it into a power cruiser with the factory 1700cc kit, which ups the power output to 74 kW (100hp). The full range of accessories and options are on Triumph’s funky ‘Create my Triumph’ web site. You get there from On which subject I’m also keen to try on the new ‘Brando replica jacket.’ Crossed pistons and all. Where I got after a week putting the bike through its paces was ‘put me down as a big fan of the new T’bird.’ I understand why Triumph are crowing about all the awards and accolades the machine has won. Don’t jump on one thinking it’s a sportsbike, it’s still has cruiser clearances, but it’s very tidy and very trustworthy till it reaches them. It’s great looking and a great feeling bike to ride – both physically and emotively, its original namesake is steeped in bike lore. Black is $23,990, blue and white or silver and black are $24,590 and ABS adds about a grand. Check with your dealer for availability. I was talking to Patrick at AMPS about that, and we also talked about some of the history and the ‘greatness’ of the Thunderbird name. NUMBERS GAME ‘You know, at its peak the Meriden factory made around 49,500 bikes per annum. Last year Hinckley made 52,000.’ That’s great for starters. I also think the Silver T’bird is one of the bikes the Fonz would ride today. He’d customise it a bit and strip it down some but this is one coooool bike. Demos are at your local Triumph dealer now and I thoroughly recommend a spin. I wonder in 59 years time will they be saying ‘Big Dave rode a T’bird’? Perhaps not. But a man can dream can’t he? KR 30 KIWI RIDER

SPECIFICATIONS TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled DOHC parallel-twin, 270 degree firing interval Displacement: 1597cc Compression ratio: 9.7:1 Bore x stroke: 103.8 x 94.3mm Fuel system: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection, progressive linkage on throttle Clutch: Wet multi-plate Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh, helical type 2nd – 6th Final drive: Toothed belt FRAME Type: Tubular steel twin spine Swingarm: Twin-sided steel Front suspension: Showa 47mm forks. 120mm travel Rear suspension: Showa chromed spring twin shocks with 5 position adjustable preload. 95mm rear wheel travel Brakes: Twin 310mm floating discs w/ Nissin 4-piston fixed calipers front & single 310mm fixed disc w/ Brembo 2-piston floating caliper rear Wheels: Cast aluminium alloy 5-spoke 19 x 3.5 in. front & 17 x 6 in. rear Tyres: 120 / 70 R19 front & 200 / 50 R17 DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1615 mm Rake: 32 degree Trail: 151mm LxWxH: 2340 x 800 x 1120 mm Seat height: 700 mm Wet weight: 339 kg Fuel tank capacity: 22 litres RRP: $23,990 Test bike: Triumph NZ Ltd GEAR Helmet: Arai Jacket, pants and boots: Triumph

Don’t let the conventional look fool you. Some serious engineering has gone into the engine to make it as smooth as it is tractable with an emphasis on torque rather than outright power (which Triumph is leaving to the optional big-bore 1700cc version) producing an urge and thrust which has to be experienced to truly be believed. Chassis also gets top marks, as does quality Showa suspension componentry and top-shelf (Nissin front/Brembo rear) brakes.


There’s no doubting new VMax model’s impact, both visual and visceral, with a look and feel like that of original (short, stubby) model crossed with a Harley-Davidson V-Rod. Bike is BIG in every sense but genuine 200hp power output means it has the power-to-weight ratio of a bike half its length and girth. Fit and finish are just as impressive with incredible attention paid to even the tiniest of design details.



Yamaha refers to the VMax as its ‘Legendary Muscle Bike that achieved cult status soon after it launched in 1985’.

But it was on the strip that it blew our doors – not to mention my jacket – off at about 200km/h. I kid you not. I left the collar open and at the end of the run the zip simply couldn’t take it any more.

And the vehicles certainly have bred a ‘peppy’ band of enthusiasts over that period of time. In fact you probably know a Max fan. They will extol the virtues of V-tech and the brutish power that placed the bike at their pinnacle of motorcycledom. I wasn’t one of them. ‘Fast in a straight line’. Even my XS1100s tipped in better than an early Max. But all that has changed. Thanks to Peter and the crew from Yamaha NZ, the Ed and I were first to have a serious fang of the new 200bhp beast at the Meremere drag strip. STRIP JACK We met up outside the strip and they tossed us the keys for a ride around some of the local back roads first. Hoping aboard was very big-man friendly. Knees rest against the air intakes, but not uncomfortably so, and the rest of the layout is what a large bike should be. Also more comfortable than the original is the way the machine handles. With 200hp and 166nm of torque on tap, (Dave, Dave, Dave, that’s 147.2kW and 166.8Nm. Ed) the distances between corners close in very quickly, and with a good 1700mm between the wheel centres, there’s absolutely no disguising the fact, it’s one big motorcycle. But cornering clearances were refreshing and steering and chuckability also surprised somewhat. The Ed and I decided this was largely because bike suspension and geometry have come a long way since 1985. To the point where New-Max punted through the corners quite rewardingly (for a first jaunt).


Though he was under strict instructions not to put too much stress and strain on what in effect was a brand new bike, the Ed gave it a series of very rapid and impressively squirmy launches, but I just took off like I was at the traffic lights, kept the throttle pinned up to the end of the strip, changing before the prominent change light started glowing…and I still found myself travelling well in excess of 200km/h as I flashed across the finish line. Man it hauls! The surge through the gears is quite sensational. Where a lesser-powered bike’s push diminishes through the taller gears, the symphony of torque and power the Newmax conducts continues to surge waaaay into fourth and beyond. It makes quite a lovely noise from the four stumpy exhausts as it goes about doing it – which you can hear for yourself as the Ed videoed a standard launch for our web site. Links are on the front page. The styling, marketing and presentation of the bike is all about the drag strip. From the prominent gear change light and integrated self-timing system, to the local launch venue. The strip is certainly the place to enjoy the high performance aspects of the bike. It is simply wickedly fast. A quick jaunt through the Waikato seemed to indicate that the bike will be very pleasant as a roadster too. Watch this space. KR

QUICK FLICK Bike: Yamaha VMax Type: Roadster Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC 16-valve V4 Frame: Diamond-shape aluminium Wheelbase: 1700mm Fuel tank capacity: 15l Seat height: 775mm Kerb weight: 310kg RRP: $33,850 Test Bike: Yamaha Motor NZ Ltd

when I got all fizzy about it when she came home from work on pick-up day.

The clichéd title had stuck with both of us as a catchphrase, not bo bot for the integrity of the Robert Blake police drama, but because it was the first movie, we can recall, which featured the model designation of a motorcycle in its title. (I think it’s the only one?) And Electra Glide is such a famous name in motorcycling.

As is the H-D way now, there are no published horsepower figures, but a claimed 136Nm of torque is the selling point.


h! Electra Glide in Blue!’ said Ferg when we met in town, referring to the 1973 film of that name. ‘Very tasty’ was the comment. Though I admit I had to come home and utilise my Ph.D. in Google to refresh my m memory of the flick. m


The first FL Electra Glides appeared in 1965, and as author Mac MacDiarmid asserts in his comprehensive encyclopaedia ‘The Ultimate HarleyDavidson’ (Hermes House); ‘Of all H-D models, surely the enduring FL Electra Glide is the one that best epitomises the breed.’ Brave claim, Mac, but after spending a week living with a magnificent Flame Blue Pearl and Vivid Black FLHTK Electra Glide Ultra Limited, I’d have to agree that it’s everything I like about a big block Harley. (And confuses me about Harley names!) Don’t believe any of the internet dribble about ‘Harleys don’t do this or that’, because this is a very competent, really pleasurable, good fun motorcycle. It goes, and chucks around, like a Sportster did four or five years ago – and it weighs 400kg. I read a bit more from the esteemed Mac and he proceeds to completely dump on the original Electra Glides. Referring to the 1966 model he claims ‘this never was a state-of-the-art machine’ and bemoans the reliability of the first electric starters and lack of decent front brakes. Fortunately in the ensuing 44 years that whole situation has changed and the 2010 unit is up there with any machine – if uber-tourers are your riding pleasure. FUN TO RIDE Don’t let the touring and luxury deportments fool you either, it really is a fun to ride motorcycle. Well balanced, nicely mannered, torquey and even (I know this sounds unlikely) feels like quite a ‘zippy’ bike. I did one of those ‘Hellllooooo, niiiiice!’ things in my helmet the first time I twisted the grip in earnest. Co-pilot looked at me like I was drunk 26 KIWI RIDER

Harley claim the 103 cubic inch (1690cc) ‘Police’ motor has 11% more torque than a Standard Ultra with the Twin Cam 96 (1584cc) engine, the extra capacity achieved courtesy a bore of 98.4 and stroke of 111.1mm.

Whatever their horsepower number, they are fun to saddle up and take for a ride. The whole shebang shakes like a Harley should at idle, then when it’s going, it’s probably the smoothest V-twin I have thrown a leg over. It just purrs along on its rubber mounts. Kick it down a couple of cogs and it torques up nicely and equally smoothly. I felt an occasional faint vibe through my H-D brand FXR boots, but only when I was searching for vibe, overall I thought it’s a very sweet unit. THE EFI’S AS GOOD AS ANY The EFI was also noteworthy. This unit is also as good as any I’ve tested. It didn’t stumble once in the entire test. I ran it on 95 Octane and it seemed un-bumbleable. Harley says it ‘delivers easy starting cold or hot and self-adjusts to changing elevation and atmospheric conditions.’ Fuel economy also got better with each kilometre of the run-in and the estimated range to empty (by the trip computer) got longer with each km of engine loosening. Wick it up and it gets along, but at the price of burning the fuel required to shift 400kg plus rider passenger and gear, but shift it nicely, it does. I almost did stumble a few times though. For a unit that only had 120km on board when I picked it up, the gearbox was very good and easy to select. All of these car size engines have a noticeable run-in transition but this one’s box was particularly nice from the get-go. The only problem was that it is so easy to click in and out of gear that I accidentally knocked the heel shifter into neutral with my size twelves on a few takeoffs. Very Keystone Cops. It’s a very easy 6-speed gearbox. LIGHT ON ITS FEET As soon as the ‘Limited’ is moving it feels quite light on its feet. It’s not a hard chore to get the footboards on the ground, but with so much bike around you it feels like


For many it’s the ultimate full-dress touring bike. For Big Dave, however, Harley-Davidson’s latest Ultra Limited Electra Glide was much more than that.

WORDS: Big Dave PICS: Geoff Osborne



a steeper bank angle than it actually is. Ultimately the 33 degree lean angle is the limiting factor, but it’s good fun, and quite reliable, getting there. It does the posted ‘75s’ at 100km/h easily. This is the first of the new (2008) Touring chassis models that I’ve tested on New Zealand roads and…wow. I understand what all the fuss is about. I’m serious about the fun bit. This is a PT Boat disguised as a Battleship and I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me till you ride one. Yes it weighs 400kg, and backing it out of the Bunker took due care, but the CoG is low, the wheelbase is 1635mm, it has a state-of-the-art chassis, air adjustable rear suspension, nice upright ergos, and very direct belt drive. It responds well to input and getting a cheek off the plush saddle. Brakes are triple 300mm Brembo with ABS – as standard on all Touring model Harleys. The beautiful contrast chrome wheels are ‘normal’ size 17” front with 180 section rear, fitted with custom dual compound Dunlop rubber. It’s a lovely bike to spend a week or a grand tour on. BY THE BOOK Meanwhile Mac’s book also told me

about the various model designations and how even a hand change option was available until 1972. The tradition of options has also continued to this current model. The Ultra Limited differs slightly from the ‘standard’ Ultra Classic Electra Glide. How? I hear you ask. Well, standard ABS and ‘police’ (as in the one they currently use in the H-D US police bikes) engine, a smart security system, upgraded luggage, a chrome top box rack, accessory power supply, unique paint (and it’s beautiful), trick wheels and some dashboard bling. What a dashboard it is too. Comprehensive, old-skool looking, analogue dials are arrayed around the Harmon-Karden stereo unit, which works well and was clearly audible under my Arai Chaser at open road speeds. Volume and other stereo controls are located on the left hand switch block, or the dash. It took me a few days to come to grips with switch arrays, but I like the button-per-side Harley indictor set up (self-cancelling) and the cruise control, and myriad of other features work well when you remember what they all do and put them in an environment they were designed for.

Photos like these certainly do justice to the beautiful electric blue test bike. But they don’t convey how slim and – believe it or not – lithe the big Electra Glide feels when you’re in the saddle.



‘Cruise control?’ Nearly everyone is somewhat incredulous when I mention it. They shouldn’t be – it has merit. Riding around the Coromandel Peninsula or to Akaroa there’s not much use for it, but crossing the Hauraki or Canterbury plains, in open road situations, it’s just one less thing to worry about. Speaking of which, the seat is delightfully plush and there is plenty of room in the rider’s chair. Co-pilot rates the rear comfort ‘As good as any. Highest category.’ The rear throne is integrated into a large top box and the panniers are long and quite deep and the blingy rack unit adds extra capacity. The bodywork is very efficient at creating a bubble for the rider and the Co-pilot said she felt no buffeting in the back seat. The screen isn’t adjustable, but the height worked for me OK anyway, and there are shorter or taller options available. And the fairing lowers keep a lot of the weather off and also have small storage compartments built in. The upper bodywork has wind deflectors that are admirably efficient. They can direct a steady flow of air right up your sleeves. Ideal on a summer day like the one on which we did the photo shoot. It was warm and I borrowed the H-D brand flow-through mesh jacket from AMPS and was as comfortable as a bloke could be on a motorcycle. Wind deflected and all. It was a beautiful day on a beautiful

‘Like a PT boat disguised as a Battleship’ is how Big Dave put it and he’s absolutely on the nail. Smooth, torquey big-bore ‘police-spec’ engine option is the perfect match for the solid yet well-suspended frame and comprehensive running gear package.

machine. The engine is chrome. All chrome. A work of art to look at. The whole bike in fact I found very pleasing to the eye and very pleasing to ride. The 2-1-2 exhaust system is modernday quiet and finished in similarly lustrous chrome. A GOOD RUN I gave the ‘Limited’ a good run through plenty of freeway, open roads and a decent blat up State Highway 22 and found it’s a really good fun, capable, enjoyable bike. People who are familiar with Electra Glides say, ‘Yeah, like you didn’t know???’

People who aren’t familiar look at it and say, ’Get out!’ It’s opulent, I mean, a wicked stereo on a motorcycle? C’mon! But it also has an engine with pleasing character, the highest levels of all day riding comfort and a nice set of road manners for a very large touring motorcycle. At $38,500 ride away you’d expect it to be well mannered. What you get for that hard-earned cash is a supremely comfortable grand tourer, which doubles as a blinged-up cruiser, while being a pretty good fun bike to ride, right out of the box. Ultra nice. No blues. KR



SPECIFICATIONS HARLEY-DAVIDSON ELECTRA GLIDE ULTRA LTD ENGINE Type: Air-cooled twin cam 103 cu in V-twin Displacement: 1690cc Compression ratio: 9.6:1 Bore x stroke: 98.4 x 111.1mm Starting system: Electric Engine management system: CDI Fuel system: Electronic sequential port ESPF1 fuel injection Clutch: Wet multi-plate Transmission: 6-speed H-D Cruise Drive Final drive: Belt FRAME

Basic look and feel is what Harley-Davidson has been doing for decades. Under the surface though the Electra Glide is as state-of-the-art in a technical sense as any sports V-twin from Italy. Those who haven’t ridden a Harley-Davidson for a while will marvel at the power and sensitivity of the brakes as much as they will at the smooth, unflappable way the electronic fuel injection system handles the demands of a large capacity V-twin engine – not to mention the short, precise snick-snick of the new 6-speed gearbox. You’ve got to love the bling factor too with cruise control, MP3/iPod-compatible sound system and fantastically comfortable pillion accommodation. Only niggle from within the KR ranks comes from the Ed who would prefer a push-button adjustable height function on the low-line windscreen.

Type: Tubular mild steel w/ two-piece stamped and welded backbone w/ cast & forged junctions Swingarm: Mild-steel Suspension: Front: Telescopic fork 41.3mm Rear: Twin air adjustable shock absorbers Brakes: Twin 300mm rotor disc w/ 4-piston fixed calipers front & single 300mm rotor disc w/ 4-piston fixed caliper rear Wheels: Cast aluminium 28-spoke chrome 17” dia front & 16” dia. rear Tyres: Dunlop D408F 130/80-17 front & Dunlop D407 180/65-16 rear DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1635mm Rake: 26° Trail: 170mm Length: 2525mm Seat height: 745mm Dry weight: 400kg Fuel tank capacity: 22.7L RRP: $38,500 Test bike: Harley-Davidson & AMPS GEAR Helmet: Arai Jacket: Harley-Davidson Jeans: Triumph Boots: Harley-Davidson



Who says the ‘70s was the decade style forgot? Not Triumph or Moto-Guzzi who have just channelled the spirit of models from that era to create two stunning new retro specials. Big Dave has the story.

WORDS: Big Dave PICS: Osborne


She couldn’t quite get over the shock off me fizzing about a Moto Guzzi, firing me e that look that couples who have been together for 30 years give each other. “Yes,” I assured her as I danced around like the late 70’s disco demon I was. “In fact,” I continued, “I rate the Moto Guzzi V7 as a very highly desirable motorcycle and have just written n that I want to have the new Bonneville SE’s babies!”



re you feeling OK?”quizzed the Co-pilot..

Her surprise was not so much that I still had the ‘KC’ (as in KC & the Sunshine Band) moves, but more that I’d been carrying baggage about the models that both of these classic reproductions pay homage to for most of those 30 years….yet now I’m all ‘Get down on it!’ Which, I suppose, requires an explanation of sorts. In 1979 I just didn’t fit on a Guzzi. My pal Kim had one that he used to ride home from Perth to Adelaide for the weekend: 2,692km of mostly dead straight line each way – shortest route. It was a ‘bitser.’ Part Le Mans, part Sport and part something else that he used to keep pinned pretty much all the way across the Nullarbor Plain. On our numerous rides around the Golden West he spoke about it in that ‘religious zealot’ sort of manner that hard-core Guzzi-ists affect. It was no doubt much better specified than the original V7’s 42 horsepower and 240kg dry weight but my knees hit the middle of the cylinder heads and with no desire to suffer roast kneecap syndrome, the marque fell off my radar. Triumph’s Bonneville suffered a similar fate. THE BAD OLD DAYS The ‘79 Bonneville SE signalled the death knell of Triumph factory #2. Union lockouts, strikes and rebadged Heskeths dotted the Meriden headlines. The Black and Gold Special Edition Bonneville was a pretty good road bike in its own right. Air-cooled, four-stroke, parallel twin cylinder, 54 ponies, 200kg in a frame and geometry that was developed over nearly 20 years of dominance on road and track. But as any student of bike’s history knows, the ‘80s dawned and the quality and performance of the product from Japan against the Bonne’s reputation for Lucasian nightmares and porous castings, meant the market had passed them by. As the Ed said when he and I were talking about this piece. “I mean, what would you choose back then? A Kawasaki Z1 or a special edition ‘Royal Bonneville,’ built to celebrate the marriage of Lady Di and Prince Charles? PAGE 27: …cue some classic smaltzy 70s music to open feature….something like ‘Reunited’ by Peaches & Herb. You know…. ‘Reunited and it feels so good. Reunited ‘cause we understood….Then move to this page where we see Campbell cutting a dash on the Triumph Bonneville SE (top) then Todd S. and Linda G. putting the Bonnie and Guzzi V7 through their paces. FACING PAGE: That’s Linda (top) then Campbell (other two pics) on the Guzzi. Both are pukka roadsters with strong retro (look and feel) appeal.

The problem for us die-hards was that the ‘79 Bonneville SE appeared to take its styling cues directly from a Yamaha XS650 Special, which was altogether too cruel an irony, so it also slipped off the radar. I’M WALKN’ ON SUNSHINE… Yet 30 years later and I’ve gone all ‘Sunshine Band.’


Guzzi’s site claims the bike was produced as ‘a 40 year celebration of Giulio Cesare Carcano’s original V7, the bike which marked the debut of the transverse 90 0 , V-twin, 703cc engine and the first Italian maxi-cycle.’ It actually turns out to be a really cool, good fun, 2009-style bike to ride.


Whilst Guzzi claims that the styling for the V7 Classic borrows the tank from the 70’s Sport model and the bling from a similar vintage Special,, to us non-afficianados it’s just a great looking Italian retro bike.

The new incarnation of the push-rod, two-valve per cylinder V-twin is only slightly wider than its ALS steel tubular twin cradle frame. In fact the whole bike is slender and rather compact, but the upright riding position and wide, flat seat make it quite comfortable for a larger rider or even an occasional two-up jaunt. In much the same way, 30 years on and the new Bonneville SE will be on my short list of the just-damnsweetest looking bikes ever. A far cry from the inward ‘nooooooooooo’ of anguish that greeted the original concept. BETTER LOOK, BETTER FEEL The lines and demeanour of the ‘09 incarnation are far less soft-chopper and much more ‘standard’ than the original and it comes with a reputation of being unstressed and bulletproof in the way of all modern Hinckley twins and triples. Reliable and easy going. In other words, gone full circle. The air-cooled DOHC parallel-twin 360 degree crank engine measures 865cc and pumps out 50kW (68hp) of maximum power at 7,500 rpm and 69Nm (51ft.lbf) of maximum torque at 5,800rpm. It tips the scales at 200kg dry and the switch to EFI has improved the smoothness of the Bonne even further The slightly smaller ‘09 Guzzi is also somewhat lighter at 182kg dry and has a 35.5kw/ 47 horsepower output. The one thing common to both engines is that they like to rev and both have a very rewarding pulse about doing it. Opening the throttle on either is a whole load of fun. Whether it was dropping it to the freeway flow on the Bonneville or hammering the V7 over Woodcocks Hill, I found real joy in RIDING both of these vehicles. You can actually keep the throttle pinned through the first several gears and not worry about losing your licence. On a modern sportsbike it’s wham bam thank you mama and the fun is all over before you shift to second, if you have pretensions of keeping a licence long term. These mid-power retros are great ‘riders’ bikes on the Queen’s highways. GREAT REAL WORLD RIDES They don’t lack overtaking power or the chutzpah to power out of a sweeping corner, but they do require judicious use of the gearbox and throttle to keep them spooled up. Continued on page 36 KIWI RIDER 33


Moto Guzzi has similar retro-style appeal to the eye and is remarkably similar spec-wise to the Bonneville. Ergos and distinctive dynamics of transverse Vtwin/shaft final drive mean the V7 Classic is more of an acquired taste than the absolutely neutral ‘hop-on-and-ride-away’ of the Triumph but for those in search of character that’s a positive not a negative. It’s hard to overstate just how good – for the body, soul and even bank balance – the current mix of classic looks and state-of-the-art design, engineering and detailing is either. These, literally, are the good old days!

KR TEST CLASSICS REBORN Who’d have thought that from Triumph’s darkest hour could come a look which just seems so right today. New, now 17 inch dia. wheels, and gruntier, more responsive fuel-injected engine transforms Bonneville and now means you can compare it feature for feature (rather than majoring on old-skool look and feel) with similarly priced middleweight models. Whether it will tempt harder core riders off their SpeedMasters or Americas is yet to be seen but SE is sure to win plenty of conquest and first time sales.



I find them more rewarding and an more fun than the current crop of hypersports bikes on the c open road. o I spend a lot of my time on the 160+ horsepower jobs going ‘sh*t! how fast!?!? j Every time I look down at the E speedometer. sp

On the retros I was in that world of my own; you know, when you have a bike in its sweet spot and are just enjoying the ride, tuned, zoned and focussed on the machine and the road? I was there when Mr Plod in his mufti rig appeared unannounced on SH16. There was that moment when you look down immediately at the speedo with hand and foot poised to wash off speed as surreptitiously as possible. But hang on. 95 km/h? Smile. Wave. Imagine disappointment in his eye.

variants of the 865cc parallel twin – most of which are decidedly old school. These bikes are ideal for someone coming off their restricted licence and looking to move up to very cool bike. They are great looking, quite beautiful modern machines. Their compact nature and low saddle heights – the Bonne now has a 17” front wheel and lower, sculpted saddle – mean they work well for both male and female riders. They are also fabulous for more experienced riders looking to put some joie de vivre back into their riding and not have to just ‘idle’ around everywhere, but rather to have to put some effort into the task of making brisk transit.

Both bikes are a lot of fun to ride nonetheless and don’t require the selfcontrol that a litre monster or supersports needs these days. They are also excellent commuters suited to narrow work but will happily perform as a pleasure ride or very cool weekend recreational vehicle. They suit someone not interested in high tech doohickies unless it’s for making the bike perform better and more reliable than the ‘originals’. The instruments are simple and there are no countdown computers, GPS or headphone sockets. These are about you, a motor and two wheels. ‘And...that’s the way uh ha ah ha I like it uh ha ah ha, that’s the way uh ha ah ha...’ KR


I just dig ‘em for that. I was really into the ride, feeling the engine, zoning, grinning, and it was all quite legal.

ENGINE Type: Air-cooled DOHC parallel twin w/ 360°

Both vehicles will happily leave most of the tin-tops behind at the traffic lights and do all the other things that were expected of a ‘Superbike’ in 1979 – yet way better than the originals. To stop, the Guzzi has a fl oating 320 mm stainless steel disc with four opposed calipers of differing diameters up front and 260mm disc at the rear. The Bonne has a single 310mm disc with Nissin two-piston fl oating caliper front and single 255mm disc at the rear.

firing order 4-stroke

MOTO GUZZI V7 CLASSIC Air-cooled OHV transverse-mounted 90° V-twin 4-stroke

Displacement: 865cc


Compression: 9.2:1



90 x 68mm

80 x 74mm




Engine mgmt: CDI


Fuel system:

Keihin multipoint electronic fuel injection

Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection with 36mm throttle bodies


Wet, multiplate

Dry single-plate

Transmission: 5-speed


Final drive:




Tubular steel twin cradle

Tubular steel twin cradle


Tubular steel

Aluminium alloy


Front: telescopic forks 41mm dia. Rear: twin chromed pre-load adjustable coilover shock absorbers

Front: Marzocchi 40mm telescopic forks. Rear: Light alloy swingarm with twin preload adjustable coil-over shock absorbers


Single 310mm rotor disc w/2-piston floating Nissin caliper front & single 255mm disc w/2-piston floating Nissin caliper rear

Single floating 320mm s/steel rotor disc w/Brembo four opposed piston calipers front & single 260mm s/steel rotor disc w/twin-opposed piston caliper


Cast aluminium 7 spoke 17 x 3.0 in. dia front & 17 x 3.5 in. dia rear

Chromed steel 2.50 x 18 in. dia. rim with wire spokes front & 3.50-17 in. rim with wire spokes rear


Metzeler 110/70-17 front, 130/80-17 rear

Metzeler Lasertec 100/90-18 front & 130/ 80-17 rear





Rake: 27°






2115 x 790 x 1130mm

2185 x 800 x 1115mm

There are more and more retros appearing in the market. Offerings from Ducati, Harley-Davidson and Honda are on the showroom floors or the drawing board.

Seat height:



Dry weight:



Triumph have dined out on the retro rage and offer seven different

Both sets of brakes work well within the performance parameters of the bikes and their overall handling and suspension is also in line with their power outputs. Both have a smattering of hi-tech under the old school skin, both bike’s fuel injection was stumble free and easy to live with but mostly they are unadorned, basic, essence demotorcycles. TARGET MARKET Who are they for?



Fuel capacity: 16l



From $15,590


Test bike:

Triumph NZ Ltd

Triumph NZ Ltd


WORDS & PICS: Big Dave


hen we were discussing how we should cover the Tri Glide I suggested to The Ed that a good photo opportunity would be something that showed me removing a large slice of humble pie from the ‘trunk’ (hey, it’s American).

I did because it’s fair to say that before getting on and getting ‘into’ the Tri Glide, I had it all wrong about trikes. Like most bike guys the standard patter I used to spout ran along the lines of ‘worst of both worlds; no traffic cutting capability like a bike and no weather protection like a car.’ That was until I lived with Harley’s

new three-wheeler for almost a month.

To be fair too, if you approach the trike as a motorcycle, then you’ll probably be disappointed. If you come at it like it’s an exhilarating open wheel sports car, then, boy, is it a huge amount of fun. In evaluating one it pays to leave your bike mentality at home as well. The obstacles that a bike deals with so easily become more difficult on the trike. This, as I’m sure you can understand, can be quite frustrating, though there are compensations – one of them when you get a trike out on the open road.

Harley-Davidson has always listened closely to its customers. So when enough said they wanted a factory three-wheeler ‘the Motor Company created the Tri-Glide.


ROAD TEST H-D TRI GLIDE WHIP IT….WHIP IT GOOD! Whipping it through the bends efficiently is a matter of technique. It took me a few tankfuls to stop fighting the handlebars and get the whole ‘pull me – push you’ vibe that makes three wheelers and quads work. But when the penny finally drops it’s real ‘yeee-harrrr’ material. Speaking of which, it dropped (the penny that is) quicker and easier for me than the Editor of this esteemed magazine who returned from a ride pondering – as many of you I’m sure are at this very moment – why anyone in their right mind would want to add a third wheel when ‘two are just fine thanks!’ When he returned it into my safe keeping (H-D kindly let me have the demo bike for an, er ‘extended,’ period) I couldn’t keep off the thing. Put that open wheel sports car mind-set in place, crank up the onboard CD player, hit the road and it’s a hoot. ATTENTION MAGNET It’s one of those units I call a celebrity vehicle. People just want to know about it, wave at it or take its photograph. It has such a huge presence. It would make a great high profile vehicle to have sign-written for a business or advertising. Everyone checked it out at the lights. I checked, and yes it also has viable cargo space – 6.56 cubic metres of it, for delivery work. 32 KIWI RIDER

That would be something that harks back nicely to the first true HarleyDavidson trike, the Servi Car, which was released in 1932 and remained in production until 1974. The Servi Car is the vehicle credited by some as the one that allowed Harley to survive the Great Depression, quickly becoming an indispensible aid for tradesmen, city delivery work and police departments around the US. I thought what might be a good jape would be to get a few blocks of dry ice, a carton of Cornettos and head up to the Domain and sell ice creams, but in the end I just cruised around on it. POLICE MOTOR And cruise nicely it does. The 1690cc 103 Cube ‘Police Motor’ is superb. The exhausts have been opened up slightly on the press bike and listening to their note is reason enough to ride it. The engine is a smooth pleasure that develops 137nm of torque. It needs a good dose of torque too as the unit weighs in at 532kg gassed up, but remember to put your sports car helmet on and it’s not an issue. It still pulls away from the traffic lights handily. There’s no shortage of power for normal use and it has an electric motor under one of the side covers for reversing, which unless it was uphill, I found it easier to just foot-down push it out of the shed.

Up front the machine is a Harley Ultra Classic with a large steering damper fitted. We covered its finer points in the February 2010 edition when we tested the Ultra Limited. Out the back, meanwhile, the belt drive runs to an axle supported on adjustable air suspension and with a pair of Dunlop P205/65R15 tyres, the latter enveloped by a large expanse of bodywork MORE PIE VICAR? The second slice of humble pie I need to eat is that at first I thought it had no rear suspension. It felt like a rigid rear, and I told people so, but when we put 40 psi of pressure in the system the ride did become much more passenger compliant. It’s still a pretty harsh ride in the rear throne however. Not only do you get the normal forward back movement of a motorcycle, there is also the lateral movement caused by the outrigger wheels. This is fine on the freeway and good road surfaces, but it’s going to be a hardy and uncomplaining pillion who grins and bears the ride over rougher roads for extended periods. The rider on the other hand will find the sportiness, very direct feedback and the G forces quite exhilarating – as long,

as (as I’ve already stressed) you don’t think of it as a bike.

At $50,500 it’s not for the firsttime buyer, but it’s superbly finished and blinged (the engine is beautiful looking as well as sounding) and it has a number of viable uses; from riders keen to keep the faith but no longer strong or confident enough to man-handle half a tonne of Super-Tourer around a Rally Site, to those suffering from a disability, or those in the business world with a commercial and/or promotional application in mind. KR


And that’s what I found the Tri-Glide is, a large bit of fun.

Bonus for bikers keen to make the move to three wheels is extra luggage space courtesy integrated ‘boot.’ Unique handling characteristics take some getting used to with experience surprisingly similar to that of diametrically different (it has two wheels at the front and one at the back) Can-Am Spyder threewheeler. Motorcyclists will find ride choppy and loss of instinctive two-wheeler dynamics will mean a transition period for long-time two-wheelers. Once you’ve made the move though it will become second nature in no time.

SPECIFICATIONS HARLEY-DAVIDSON TRI-GLIDE ENGINE Type: Air-cooled twin cam 103 cu. in. V-twin 4-stroke Displacement: 1690cc Compression ratio: 9.6:1 Bore x stroke: 98.4 x 111.1mm Starting system: Electric Engine management system: CDI Fuel system: Electronic sequential port fuel injection Clutch: Wet multiplate Transmission: 6-speed Final drive: Chain FRAME Type: Tubular steel Swingarm: Steel Front suspension: Telescopic fork Rear suspension: Single air shock Brakes: Twin discs w/ 4-piston caliper front and single disc w/ single piston floating caliper rear Wheels: Cast aluminium 7-spoke 16 in. dia front and 15 in. dia. rear Tyres: Dunlop MT90B-16 front and 2 x P205/65R-15 rear DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1691mm Rake: 26° Trail: 10mm Length: 2687mm Seat height: 751.84mm Dry weight: 516kg Fuel tank capacity: 22.7L RRP: $50,500 Test bike: Harley-Davidson & AMPS For more information: and




WORDS: Big Dave PICS: BD & the Co-Pilot

A fine day and a Varadero in the garage? All the excuse Big Dave needed to ‘really get a feel’ for the big Honda.


hen I was chatting away to someone or other about it, my first go at summarising Honda’s Varadero was…..(and it’s quite good) ‘a Firestorm in a Driza-bone!’ The conversation had come about because the good folk at Blue Wing Honda were kind enough to make their demo unit available so that ‘BD and the Co-Pilot’ could put in a solid week’s riding (read….take a much needed break). A quick Google (imagine saying that in 1990) came up with an interesting background of the machine. From the UK enthusiast’s site: ‘The first Varadero models appeared on the roads in 1999. Powered by a re-tuned version of the V-twin Firestorm sports engine the Varadero has proven to be powerful and reliable, and of course comes with the renowned Honda build quality. In 2001 production of the Varadero was switched to the Spanish HondaMontessa factory outside of Barcelona where the model continues to be built.’ A further Google search revealed that Varadero is also a beach in Cuba.

UPDATES Updates for the current (2008) model include a long-range 25 litre fuel tank and a new, re-contoured seat, new instrument panel, locking side pockets, sidecover panels, tail cowl re-design, tail pipe caps, and a new aluminium undercowl. That said, the longevity of the basic design is testament to the fact that ‘if it ain’t broke, you don’t need to fix it.’ The first day of riding was around town and settling into the cockpit was very comfortable. For a longitudinal V-twin the bike is quite wide; the bodywork and handlebars with their protective hand guards are broad indeed meaning lane splitting isn’t the machine’s forte but it has other, more than adequate compensations as we found out later. Otherwise the bike’s traffic demeanour was fine. The clutch is light and easy and gears change with a sure click. Comfort is of the highest order too. The riding position is upright and the tall windscreen and the lower bodywork provide good element protection. The seat is all-day good, the legroom is also good for tall riders and the Co-Pilot rated the pillion set up as ‘very good’.

a trip through the Waikato on a glorious summer Saturday. We exited the city via SH1 for a feel of the bike in freeway conditions and really appreciated the general comfort on the boring bits. Being able to stretch out and sit back in the ‘bubble’ made the trip over the Bombays very easy. Stability is excellent and the engine is smooth throughout its rev range, as I found out when we pulled off the freeway and headed for Waiuku and a subsequent cruise along Karioitahi beach. Before we get there I’d better mention the engine; a liquid-cooled 996cc 90 degree V-twin which produces an easy 70.1kw (94 horsepower) of peak power and 98Nm of peak torque. It punches all 244.2kg of machine along very satisfactorily. In action, I found the six-speed gearing to be quite tall, and the motor iidles along at around 3,000 rpm on the speed limit. Hoofing it down a few cogs delivered easy overtaking power. Keep it spooled up and the surge and cornerexiting pull are very rewarding.


Along the beach the 110/80-19 front and 150/70-17 wheels tracked nicely and the way the bike tipped and handled back on the tarmac dispelled any initial doubts I had about the narrower than normal rear section tyre.

With that comfort in mind we were looking forward to the first foray into touring conditions. The ride took us on

After lunch on the beachside hilltops we doubled back to the East coast through the Hunuas. KIWI RIDER 41

ROAD TEST HONDA VARADERO COROMANDEL HERE I COME The ease with which the bike negotiated some of our favoured ‘difficult’ roads was again impressive and we returned to base fresh and very satisfied with the overall performance. Sunday and Co-Pilot’s busy social schedule meant she was unavailable for a visit with Cookie at Kuaotunu on


Coromandel’s eastern coast so I loaded up the camera gear and headed for paradise. Again I exited the metro area via the Hunuas then continued across the Hauraki Plains. The bike coped with the variety of sports and touring conditions on the first part of the journey admirably. Very easy to roll away the distances.

Up the Firth of Thames to Tapu and the Coroglen Road turnoff I really enjoyed the handling of the bike. Big unit, but very easy to throw around. Then ‘30km of winding road’ proclaims the sign not far past the turnoff. The first part is sealed and twisty, however most of it is steep, very twisty and gravel. The bike’s dirt road

Stable and easy to manage over some quite badly rutted sections and fast and flowing when the conditions allowed. The 43mm front forks offer 155mm of travel and the rear pro-link set up is 3-way adjustable. They soaked up all I threw at them admirably. A catch-up and inspection of the Kuaotunu Hilton and I was on the road again. This time the classic crossing of the ranges and down to Coromandel Town was on the agenda. I punted it at reasonable pace over the saddle and was again very impressed with the ground clearance and flip-flop ability of the machine, particularly with the engine ‘spooled up’ and ready to pull. LINKED ABS The demo unit is fitted with a linked ABS system featuring twin three piston calipers up front and a three piston rear. They wash off speed very smoothly. Vege and the other hard-core dirt riders around the KR office lament the lack of sliding ability on the dirt with ABS. Those less skilful of us considered it a bonus on a 244kg beast capable of the speeds the Varadero is. Then slipping back to relaxed mode up the Firth side of the peninsula on the

homeward journey was again an exercise in easy comfort – as was rolling away the rest of the return.

and the integrated indicators, but most of all I enjoyed its versatility and tourability.

I arrived home quite refreshed and nothing like as weary as when doing the same length ride on other road bikes, including some touring machines – and that’s with the 50kms of bad road I had intentionally sought out.

We didn’t get a chance to test the range of the bike and the 25 litre tank – I wimped out and filled it up at 250km several times with no sign of the warning light. e Owners report 300-330km before the countdown light appears.

The final few days with the bike included a photo shoot, running the bike over obstacles and general tomfoolery – to which the bike again responded nicely. It wheelies easily and is sure footed over rough ground, right to the limits of its Trailwing tyres. CONCLUSION We finished a week with the bike very impressed and quite reluctant to return it (like you’ve never heard that before!) I’d become accustomed to the simple yet effective dash and instruments and found some quite eye pleasing angles to the bike as I walked into the shed. Co-Pilot enjoyed the comfort and the fun factor of the machine. I also liked the finish and the nice touches like the chrome exhaust shrouds


manners were in keeping with the other types of roads we put it through.

With a retail price of $21,500 for the XL1000V and $25,700 for the Touring version we see the Varadero as a great all-roads touring bike rather than a hard out adventure machine. But what a great all-roads machine it is – an ideal touring bike for NZ conditions. You may have noticed it’s not all super-slab and swept track out there? The Varadero coped really well with whatever road conditions we threw at it, from crumbling back-roads to freeway blast it was easy and comfortable for rider and passenger throughout. A Firestorm wrapped in a Driza-bone indeed. We have more pics, a ride video and onboard footage from the test on www. now.

Impressed with fellow KR scribe Racing’s Dave’s panoramic efforts in the February issue of KR Big Dave successfully attempted his own when he had the Varadero down the Coromandel. The Peninsula offers perfect roads for a bike like the Varadero


ROAD TEST HONDA VARADERO Varadeo’s underpinnings go way back – to the before-its-time Africa Twin. Concept of big, open, easy-on-the-body tourer with just enough suspension travel and handlebar leverage to cope with the odd gravel or dirt road is a good one. As is inclusion of a 25l tank, the latter one of the reasons a year or so ago a Varadero proved to be such a good Chatto Creek 1000 miler in the hands of our own Racing Dave. Riders who regularly carry pillions big distances should also consider Varadero. Passenger seat and general ergos are excellent. Build quality from Honda’s Spanish factory is still not on a par with output from Japan but if you didn’t know you probably wouldn’t notice!

SPECIFICATIONS HONDA VARADERO ENGINE Type: Liquid-cooled DOHC 8-valve 90° V-twin Displacement: 996cc Compression ratio: 9.8:1 Bore x stroke: 9.8:1 Starting system: Electric Engine management system: Digital transistorised Fuel system: Honda PGM-F1 electronic fuel injection Clutch: Wet multiplate Transmission: 6-speed Final drive: O-ring chain FRAME Type: Tubular steel Swingarm: Steel Suspension Front: Conventional 41mm telescopic. Rear: Honda pro-Link single coil-over damper w/ stepped preload adjustment Brakes: Twin 256mm discs with 3-piston calipers front and single 256mm disc with 3-piston caliper rear Wheels: Hollow-section triple spoke cast aluminium Tyres: 110/80-19 front & 150/70-17 rear DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1560mm Rake: 27°30´ Trail: 110mm LxWxH: 2295 x 925 x 1500mm Seat height: 845mm Kerb weight: 262kg Fuel tank capacity: 25l RRP: $17,995 Test bike: Blue Wing Honda GEAR Helmet: Arai Jacket: Triumph leather Pants: Triumph leather Boots: Johnny Reb




t’s a shame that the first internet reportage that came my way on the release of the Honda VFR1200 was by an Editor who vented a minor diatribe at the ostentatious claims published in the Press Release – rather than concentrating on the merits of the machine. Not long after reading that snippet Mike Esdaile forwarded me some quotes from the VFR online forums where there has also been some ire vented about ‘maintaining the heritage of the VFR marque.’ So after a quick spin (all local importer Blue Wing Honda could swing for us!! Ed) I was delighted to discover that the all-new model is a highly desirable sportstourer with a strong emphasis on the ‘sport.’ WHAT’S NEW? The engine for a start. Honda claims that; ‘the VFR1200F engine was designed to provide its rider


With mixed reviews from the world launch Big Dave was prepared to be disappointed by Honda’s all-new VFR1200. He wasn’t. And neither, he reckons, will you.

with high speed, quick acceleration and a strong, engaging feeling coming from the engine’s power characteristics. Honda also wanted to deliver the invigorating engine sound and feel that characterise the V4 sports bikes, but with an additional focus on comfortable, responsive power delivery.’

but top gear or spooled up roll-ons are a torquer’s delight, particularly in touring mode. Opening the throttle in a top gear overtaking manoeuvre is simply beautiful.

WORDS & PICS: Big Dave

I think they nailed all that except the ‘invigorating’ engine sound. It’s not at all unpleasant sounding, but ‘invigorating’? Not quite. They also describe the muffler as ‘handsome.’ Enough said! To achieve the cocktail of characteristics they were after the engineers responsible for the new VFR pretty much started from scratch, borrowing lessons from the MX and Enduro department (CRF250 & 450F models in particular) to create what has got to be the most compact production V4 powerplant on the market at the moment. SWEET TORQUER Displacing 1297cc the liquid-cooled 76° degree V-4 doesn’t quite have the same ‘BAM!’ as a large V-twin at 60km/h,

The new dual clutch system is very nice too; it offers one finger operation and good feel. Same for the linked ABS brakes. One finger on either lever is all it needs. The gearbox is also sweet shifting although the test bike did occasionally get a bit cantankerous selecting 3-2-1 down to a halt – but it only had 130km on it when we picked it up and will no doubt

QUICK FLICK Bike: Honda VFR1200 Type: Sports/tourer Engine: Liquid-cooled fuel-injected SOHC 76° V4 Frame: Diamond-style twin-spar aluminium Wheelbase: 1545mm Fuel tank capacity: 18.5L Seat height: 815mm Kerb weight: 267kg RRP: $28,500 Test bike: Blue Wing Honda


be better when run in. RIDDEN HONDA VFR1200

Honda claims the shaft drive is also a breakthrough unit, one which I thought worked quite w nicely without feeling different to most modern units. It still gets that shaft drive ‘on-off-on-off’ t when rolling through a 10km/h w roundabout, but apart from that it’s ro great looking heavy engineering and gre not noticeable when riding on the open road. BEAUTY AND THE BEHOLDER There’s also been quite a lot of internet ire about the styling of the bike. I really liked it, the two layer fairing system and sports screen worked really well for me; there is also a larger touring screen available, along with panniers and top box and an array of Honda touring goodies. I had three great fun days doing day rides from base, a lot of city and freeway work and some nice Waikato back roads. The only real shortcoming I found in Honda’s stated goal of an ‘Ultimate Sports Tourer’ was the fuel range from the 18.5 litre tank. I got around 210km before the light started flashing, though again it’s important to point out that the


test bike was virtually brand new and I rode it a gear lower than it needed till I got the mojo (and because it was so nice). Once it’s run in I’d imagine tank range would be around 250km which is good enough here, though I’d imagine if I lived in Wagga Wagga it would be problematic (not to mention the fuel mileage!) Apart from that. Wow. Goes, stops,

Look is fresh, modern, controversial. And no we’re not talking about tester Big Dave.

looks, just like $28.5K worth should. We’ve published the Press Release in full on the KR web site – look for the VFR links on the front page. Then, if you’ve got that kind of spend, get in to your Honda dealer and test ride one. It knocked my socks off I tell ‘ya. KR


You can’t miss Victory’s new Vision, a veritable behemoth (in the best possible sense of the word) of a motorcycle aimed at couples who don’t mind standing out from the crowd. Big Dave has the story. 26 KIWI RIDER




with heaps of chrome and as well as being fabulous looking (being particularly well-showcased, or I suppose the word is ‘framed’ by the bodywork) it also produces some very decent grunt, the factory quoted figures of 67.66kw (92 hp) and 147Nm (109ftlbs) of torque. Pushing all 365kg along is a carbonreinforced belt that runs from a six-speed gearbox which incorporates a genuine (better than 1:1) overdrive. The gearbox is like most of the super units, reasonably noisy, but the changes are firm and positive and belie the clunks it makes. ROLLING STOCK Up front the Vision sports a 130/70 tyre, the rear being a 180/60 and the wheelbase 1668 mm. Coupled with its low centre of gravity and 130mm travel front forks and air adjustable rear suspension, it really does handle exceptionally well for a large motorcycle. Wheeling it around town, or for Osborne during the photo shoot, was a breeze and its open road manners are relaxed and precise.

There’s certainly no missing Victory’s new Vision, a bike which effortlessly combines style, comfort and confi dent individuality.

Victory produced their first motorcycle, appropriately enough, on the fourth of July 1998. Now, not long after the Polaris subsidiary’s 10th anniversary, Auckland company Silver Fern Imports in Takanini is the first local dealer to be able to offer the company’s range of custom styled bikes to Kiwi riders. New Zealand is the second export market the parent company has officially entered – after the UK. And as you’re reading this they will have just gone on sale across the Tasman as well. Our introduction started at Hotel du Vin, South of Auckland, with a private KR showing of the new and impressive range. Then, after a briefing on the company, its people and their marketing strategy, I had an opportunity to throw a leg over several different models for a punt through the Hunuas and up the Pohutukawa coast. The Vision is available in two models – the Tour, which features the top box and integrated passenger throne (what else would you call it?) and the Street – which has a more conventional rear end... if, that is, you can call anything about this bike’s styling conventional. 28 KIWI RIDER

INDIVIDUALITY & COMFORT Victory says that their research shows that buyers of this type of motorcycle crave individuality and comfort as their main priorities. The Vision surely delivers. I saw plenty of old-skool Cadillac in its presentation and really enjoyed the individuality. It is quite a stunning looking thing. Arlen Ness is often referred to as the ‘King of Choppers’. He has produced some of the most outrageous, outlandish and some of the most drop dead gorgeous pieces of two-wheeled art ever, and his influence runs throughout the styling of the Victory range. Victory says that it took over six years to develop the bike. I didn’t find that surprising. They have produced a very refined motorcycle. It’s ‘probably’ the best handling and has the best ground clearance of any of the Full Dressers (‘Supertankers’ in Big Dave speak). It is quite a nimble motorcycle for one so large. At its heart is a delightful air/oilcooled, fuel-injected 106 cu in (1,731cc) 4 valve V-twin engine with a bore and stroke of 101 x 108mm. It’s finished

The large slab of front bodywork does pick up some dirty air turbulence when travelling behind a truck on the freeway, but open road touring is just sit back and relax, fold out the adjustable air deflectors and roll away the distances in comfort and luxury. Victory claims the Vision has the lowest seat height in its class something us ‘full size’ men usually can find a disadvantage – but the comfort of the Vision is really outstanding. It has four inches of padding in the heated seats. They remained comfortable and the bike begs you to sit on it for full days on end. Heated grips are also standard – as is the electrically-adjustable windscreen. It has a button adjustment for up and down and is also available in aftermarket shorter or taller versions. It really is a matter of dialling in and sitting back – or upright. The Vision has the best foot accommodation I’ve used on a bike. The large adjustable footboards give great flexibility in the positions the rider can adopt. If you feel like giving it the berries (don’t worry – you can) then it’s a matter of perching toes on the rear edge and it’s quite a sporty attitude. LOUNGING AROUND Cruising down the Waikato freeway to a photo shoot I had my heels resting on the leading edge of the boards

The Vision is available in black, steel grey and cherry and there are Touring and Street (sans top box) models available with different ‘premium’ or d ‘comfort’ specification levels and prices ranging between $ 33,995 and $ 35,995.


this hairy biker found very attractive. e. I took the Vision to the Howick bike show and thought it stole the show.

For that you get a mega comfortable tourer that is a super cruiser and show bike as well. It’s enjoyable to ride, has celebrity cred and looks like something from Star Wars crossed with a Cadillac.

and it was laid-back-lounge-room comfortable.

inspiring, even when doing low speed manoeuvres on the gravel.

The unique swept back handlebars put the rider quite rearwards on the machine and the bodywork is mounted further forward than the other full dressers. It feels like there is a lounge room of space between you and the dashboard. The ability to move legs around and the spacious feel is a really big plus for days-on-end riding.

But that isn’t what the Victory Vision is about.

I found a lot of hot rod/muscle car in the dashboard and cockpit. It’s minimalist and very styley. Most of the stereo controls are mounted on the tank top with the cruise control and volume switches hung under the switch blocks. It was all very easy to come to grips with. The engine is reasonably quiet and remarkably smooth in cruise mode. It has the lovely pulse that a massive V-twin develops when you gas it up, but on cruise it takes a conscious effort to find even the slightest tick from the donk. I was incredulous at times.

LAZY DAYS It’s about a unique motorcycle that can roll away days behind the handlebars. The top box behind the throne and rear speaker assembly can accommodate two full face helmets. The integrated panniers have several storage compartments to give a total of 111 litres of cargo, plus it has a nice glove box for iPods and phones to wire directly into the stereo. GPS and a ton of custom options are available from the substantial Victory catalogue. The range of clothing looks sharp and the whole product range has the Arlen Ness style about it. One that

And in case you’re the ‘better half’ and you’re wondering . . . the co-pilot rated the passenger comfort as ‘Best Yet. Best foot position and all round comfort. Loved the headed seat.’ It has some good innovations too. The crash protection system that stops the bike from entirely tipping over is great. The integrated bars also provide extra foot space. I suspect you’ll start to see a few more Victorys on the road shortly. The 10th Anniversary Special Edition sold out online in seven minutes. What we saw with the Vision is a unique looking motorcycle that does the job it was designed to do very well. Lovely engine and road manners, tourability and cruisability. If you are in the market for a large tourer or just a unique bike…a Vision is well worth looking into. KR

The range on a tankful varied with how sportily I pushed the bike along, but it was about ‘big tourer’ standard. It rides harder than you might expect; it’s an enjoyable bike to toss around too. Stopping is taken care of by a set of three 300mm discs, twin floating rotors with three-piston calipers up front and one two-piston unit aft. They are linked, provided good feel and were confidenceTop-of-the-line Vision model is available in a number of guises including with or without top box. Comfort is first rate for rider and pillion alike and though panniers provide slim pickings the top box goes a long way to redress the balance. KIWI RIDER 29


... a unique looking motorcycle that does the job it was designed to do very well. Lovely engine and road manners, tourability and cruisability. SPECIFICATIONS VICTORY VISION ENGINE Type: Air/oil-cooled SOHC 4-valve-percylinder 50° V-twin 4-stroke Displacement: 1731cc Compression ratio: 9.4:1 Bore x stroke: 101 x 102mm Starting system: Electric Engine management: Electronic ignition Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection with 45mm throttle bodies Clutch: Wet multiplate Transmission: 6-speed Final drive: Belt FRAME Type: Tubular steel Swingarm: Aluminium Front suspension: Conventional 43mm dia. telescopic fork Rear suspension: Linkage-type w/single gas-charged shock absorber, air adjustable Brakes: Linked system comprising twin 300mm rotor floating discs with 3-piston calipers up front & single 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper rear Wheels: Cast aluminium 18 x 3.0 in. front & 16 x 5.0 in. rear Tyres: Dunlop Elite 130/70R18 front & 180/60R16 rear

Look and even feel of Vision model is unique and a tribute to relative sector newcomer Victory. Marque was created from the ground up by owner Polaris, a company which attempted a toe-in-the-water with its original cruiser range here several years ago before deciding to focus on the home market for the time being. Now it is back with export markets established here, in the UK and across the Tasman. As befi ts its range-topping status Vision gets largest capacity version (1731cc) version of the company’s distinctive long-stroke air/ oil-cooled 50° V-twin engine which comes complete with 6-speed gearbox and belt final drive. As well as distinctive looks the Vision is typical in that it has a surprisingly nimble spring in its step. Ground clearance also a surprise.


DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 1670mm Rake/Trail: 29°/137mm Seat height: 673mm Dry weight: 365kg Fuel tank capacity: 22.7l RRP: $33-35,995 depending on specification Test bike: Victory & Silver Fern Motorcycles GEAR Helmet: Davida Pants: Triumph Jeans Boots: Johnny Reb

WORDS & PICS: Big Dave



was on the VN1700E9F Kawasaki Vulcan when the Ed pulled up on the new MV Brutale. And whilst he was occupied, just for a laugh, I sat on the Brutale. The most comfortable, and quite workable, riding position for me was from the pillion seat. That fitted great! When he returned I did what I do when confronted with most compact sportsbikes; put on a lame Forest Gump impersonation and asked if ‘they have one for the other But-tock?’ There are plenty of us big guys out there and they’ll be glad to hear that Kawasaki have made another ‘Big Man’ Special. Jumping back on the Vulcan was like returning to a favourite lounge chair for comfort.

EASY RIDER Size-wise Kawasaki’s Vulcan 1700 fitted Big Dave down to the ground. Once he settled into it he got to quite like the bike’s low-slung laid-back vibe as well.

You don’t have to be a giant to ride the Vulcan, the seat height is a mere 720mm and its 345kg (wet) mass is well balanced and is centred low in the vehicle, so it’s not out of the Jockey league entirely, but it works really well for a Second Rower. LARGE & ROOMY It doesn’t feel like such an enormous machine once onboard, but it is a large and roomy machine nonetheless. The saddle is two cheeks wide – easy, it’s massive. Lounge chair comfort. A pillion is reasonably well served also and has a good view over the rider. Fit a backrest or a grab-handle option at time of purchase if mum gets on the back regularly. Just for the peace of mind when giving the liquid cooled, 1700cc, SOHC, 8-valve engine’s 147nm of torque a work out. It has quite a nice surge and the sort of pull that can arrive suddenly. The pistons in the 102 x 104mm square-ish bore and stroke have serious Classic silhouette and stance means heads turn when Vulcan 1700 rolls by. Model shares strong retro look with state-of-the-art metric cruiser mechanicals. Ergos ideal for 2 metreplus fraternity though less vertically endowed can still appreciate the low seat height and good low-speed dynamics.

mass and you can feel each cycle of the engine, particularly when you ask it some questions via the throttle. LIKES A REV It took me a while to get the 1700’s mojo. The gearing is tall. At first I thought maybe too tall, but I was failing to take into account that it enjoys a bit of a rev too. The big mamba likes to be spooled up a bit for a huge donk, despite the peak power of 59kW (79PS) being developed at just 4,500rpm. That said it will happily take off in third gear and the gear ratios are nicely spread to keep it on song and the tall gearing boosts economy from the 20 litre tank. Final drive is by belt and is quite an attractive set up. The overall styling of the

QUICK FLICK Bike: Kawasaki VN1700 Vulcan Type: Custom cruiser Engine: Liquid-cooled fuel-injected SOHC 170cc V-twin Frame: Tubular steel Wheelbase: 1665mm Fuel tank capacity: 20L Seat height: 720mm Curb weight: 345kg RRP: $23,995 Test bike: Kawasaki NZ Ltd KIWI RIDER 43


bike grew on me over the course of the test too. co PLEASING TO THE P EYE I was out cruising on one o of those Saturday mornings and stopped m under the motorway to un watch some ‘fl annelled wa fools’ playing Cricket. foo

Framed against the backdrop of the fields, with the copious amount of chrome and bling glistening in the sun, the fluid curves of the machine were quite pleasing to the eye. One thing the photos don’t convey in two dimensions is actually how ‘chunky’ the bike is. It has a real ‘heavy metal’ look about it in the flesh and the fit and finish are first rate. Nice little touches, like the chromed reservoir covers and the excellent ignition switch set-up abound. The tank-mounted instruments are easy enough to read and there is a standard array of other readouts in a LCD display under the speedo. These are cycled by a switch on the RH switch block…the one that I hit as the starter button every time I got on the bike. ‘What the…?’ Slow learner. MELLOW SOUNDZ The twin shot exhaust system sounds great. It’s got a pleasant note to it right out of the box. Other things I found very pleasant whilst sitting back on this armchair on wheels were its road manners.

To get it in perspective, it’s got footboards. Every bike I’ve tested with footboards gets scraped coming out of my driveway. It’s the nature of the beast that the comfort they add is at the expense of some noise when they touch down whilst cornering. Moderating speed to suit is part of the skill of operating the vehicle. (Don’t grind them off – buy a more suitable bike.)


WELL MANNERED That said, the 1700 has a 170 section rear tyre that I’m sure promotes the ease with which it flicks around. It’s very well mannered. The errant manhole cover, pothole or any of the other sundry items that would make you want to manoeuvre the bike are negotiated with ease. Bit of a countersteer, flick of the hips and the big unit complies in a pleasing fashion. Pin it on the exit and it’s all smiles anyway. The rear 170 might not fit with ‘phat’ culture and the ‘wider is a better cruiser’ look, but coupled with the nice balance of the bike it makes it a comfortable vehicle for styling in the city AND a good dayrider out in the magnificent NZ countryside. It’s a nice, big, easy, wellmannered, comfortable bike, that’s rideable by all, and is very comfortable for a bigger man. Shot! Kawasaki. KR Classic cruiser lines and vibe. What bikes like big VN1700 Vulcan are all about.

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Available now in these sizes: 120/70ZR17

180/55ZR17 44 KIWI RIDER



A selection of motorcycle article by David Cohen

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