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Issue 638

Ride Better

For free. in just 15 minutes.

The fastest Indian

New enfield cafe racer tested

Lean, brake, accelerate

The ABS that works in corners

MSL December 2013




Sensible ✗ Want one ✔

No. 638 November 2013

◆ Kawasaki Z1000SX ◆ Royal Enfield Continental GT ◆ 24 Alpine passes on a cruiser

KTM SUPER DUKE 1290 Practical ✗


Pages of touring

Australia, Canada Alpine passes... and the UK too

BMW R1200RT Talented, dependable, affordable




PLUS: New BMW R1200GS Adventure ◆ Know your gearbox ◆ 108 great ideas to make 2014 your best year ever ◆ Norton Commando – best British bike ever? ◆ Clever autos explained

MSL December EDITOR: Tony Carter: PUBLISHER: Steve Rose: ROAD TESTER: Bruce Wilson DESIGNER: Sarah Scrimshaw REPROGRAPHICS: Simon Duncan GROUP PRODUCTION EDITOR: Tim Hartley DIVISIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGER: Sandra Fisher: GROUP KEY ACCOUNTS MANAGER: Steff Woodhouse 01507 529452 / 07786334330 ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE: Sandra Fisher 01507 524004 SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER: Paul Deacon: CIRCULATION MANAGER: Steve O’Hara: MARKETING MANAGER: Charlotte Park: PRODUCTION MANAGER: Craig Lamb: PUBLISHING DIRECTOR: Dan Savage COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR: Nigel Hole ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: Malc Wheeler MANAGING DIRECTOR: Brian Hill EDITORIAL ADDRESS: MSL Magazine, Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincolnshire LN9 6JR WEBSITE: GENERAL QUERIES AND BACK ISSUES: 01507 529529 24 hr answerphone ARCHIVE ENQUIRIES: Jane Skayman 01507 529423 SUBSCRIPTION: Full subscription rates (but see page 48 for offer): (12 months 12 issues, inc post and packing) – UK £47.88. Export rates are also available – see page 48 for more details. UK subscriptions are zero-rated for the purposes of Value Added Tax. SUBSCRIPTION AGENTS: Media Centre, Morton Way, Horncastle, Lincolnshire LN9 6JR






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Lots of things happening at this time of year, so expect some new machines and a close-up look at in-corner ABS! Yep, we can’t quite see how this is meant to work either – but our Roland’s ridden it.


So does this bike actually work then? Too small to tour on, too sporty to relax with, too radical to go unnoticed. And then they slap panniers on it and say it tours... hmmmnnnn.




There’s a lot riding on the success of this bike. In short, Royal Enfield could do with a success in the retro-authentic sector.


FIRST RIDE: 2014 KTM1290





It’s the bike that’s going to launch KTM into the stratosphere of big bikes... or the rider into the atmosphere. MSL was at the launch to see what’s what with the big orange bike.





So once you’ve sorted out the ‘where’ for your grand 2014 plan, you’re going to need the ‘how’ – or to put it another way, what big touring bit of lovely metal is the King. The Top Dog. The Big Kahuna... you get the idea.


This month we’ve got all up and close with one of the great bikes for racking up big miles, the BMW R1200RT.

Okay, we’re not suggesting that you can get to the Aussie Perth on your bike in a day (that’d be daft), but if you do find yourself in Oz then this is a bloody great ride, cobber!



Quite a tale of riding the sort of roads people assume you need a GS to manage, but this trip was done on a cruiser... yep, we checked. It WAS done on a cruiser.


Save money! Be more attractive to the opposite sex! Be a hit at parties! Get that promotion at work! ... or just find out some of the clever tricks of the trade from touring riders who’ve been there and done that.


So there’s this new tyre from Dunlop... yeah, yeah, yeah it’s black and round – so, so what?

Here more good letters what have been, like, written in gud english yeaah? Nut one spooling misteke among them eyever. Youse a clever lot.




Just because it’s the winter (almost) there’s no reason to not get out there and put in some great rides on two wheels. Here’s MSL’s diary of what’s on and where... whether you’re into motorcycles or not.



It was big and brash and really rather good. Unless you’re a rider that can get a lot out of a modern big sportbike then for some very reasonable money you can pick yourself up one of these beauties! Here’s how to do that.



In 1969 Norton made what some have called its most beautiful motorcycle ever. The editor often says that about the 750S, but we almost never listen when he pipes up. It’s usually a small step from there to his Evel Knievel stories... and then we’re sunk... 5

First Rides Kawasaki’s Z1000SX


METAL Sleeker, faster and generally more refined, Kawasaki’s updated Z1000SX is the sporty tourer the market’s been craving.

WORDS: Bruce Wilson PHOTOGRAPHY: James Wright


awasaki’s had huge success with its popular Z1000SX. It is the UK’s number one selling bike in the sporttourer segment, with an overwhelming 25% share of the market. at translates to around 700 unit sales a year for Team Green; making it the top seller in its line-up too. For the Japanese brand, the SX is big business and it’s worked hard to evolve the popular all-rounder through lots of subtle yet substantial changes. e latest Z1000-based model sees the addition of newly-shaped panniers, dual power modes and some very welcome traction control in the form 12

of a bespoke, three tier fitment of Kawasaki’s finely honed KTRC system. e goal had been to broaden the bike’s overall potential and versatility with the clever electronics aiding both tourers intent on ploughing through puddles and those with a sportier track day bent. e reality for me, as I gave the bike a thorough going over on a mountain range near Vienna, was a good dollop of peace of mind. e traction control is switchable via a selector on the le handlebar and I felt most comfortable with level one – the least intrusive of the three options. is still allows you to experience the true energy of the tweaked, torquier motor and only engages itself when it deems that the front wheel is

In detail: Kawasaki Z1000SX SUSPENSION: The front forks are adjustable for rebound, compression and preload, while the all-new shock features a stiffer spring rate with remote preload adjustment, along with rebound adjustment.

getting a little too skyward for its liking under hard acceleration. Otherwise, the KTRC remained a quiet partner across the 160 mile launch route, which saw us take on everything from slow riding town work to fast and flowing sweepers, topped off by a generous sprinkling of tight and twisty mountain passes. Satisfied that it was there in the background if needed, I was le to focus on the many other virtues of the reinvigorated Kawasaki, not least of all its seriously improved handling. An acknowledged flaw with the original version was the primitive, lightly sprung rear shock, which has now been replaced by a stiffer example, sporting a remote preload adjuster and changeable rebound damping.


Room enough for two… Those planning on perching themselves up high on an SX will be pleased to know that the pillion’s platform is pleasantly accommodating. For me, at 5ft 9in, I found there was plenty of leg room available, encouraging a 90º angle from the knee down. The ergonomic grab handles felt substantial and were easy to locate, while the view of the road ahead was commanding. Get yourself sat behind a 6ft-plus pilot and you’ll also have no qualms with the elements. The only area of concern, which I lacked the miles to comprehensive quantify, was the comfort of the rear saddle. Kawasaki

has worked hard to enhance the passenger’s degree of luxury, adding a substantial amount of padding to the rear seat, but it gets noticeably thinner the farther back you sit, which is what I was forced to do in order to keep my leg angle comfortable. In the relatively short distance I travelled on the back, I was truly ready to hop off come the time we stopped. Another point worth noting is the unintended workout the SX gives your core. If you’re planning on doing a lot of miles, I’d highly recommend you fit a top box, which incorporates a backrest for a pillion. 13

Super Tourer Test


You’ve got the big trip pencilled down, now all you need to find is the right tourer to tackle it on. If you’re searching for something size XL, these are the contenders you should be looking at.

ou can learn a lot about a bike over 600 miles. And even more from 601, which was the distance we covered with four of the latest and greatest big tourers known to motorcycling. Our trip down to Somerset included a mixed bag of heavyweights from major European and Japanese manufacturers, each with its own unique character and approach to tackling that age old challenge of making two wheels a pleasure over seriously long stints in the saddle. Main roads, back roads and a real random mix of weather helped us to grasp exactly what each of our luxurious candidates had to offer. Here’s what we made of them…

WORDS: Bruce Wilson PHOTOGRAPHY: Joe Dick

The testers who tested...





MSL’s road tester has been riding bikes since the age of nine. Over the past five years he’s been on the launch of almost every new bike.

A regular contributor to MSL, Clive’s got more than 30 years riding experience and a couple of racing championships to his name.

Roger’s been everywhere and ridden almost everything. We daren’t print his age, but the wrinkles should suggest his level of biking experience.

Ben’s been a commuter and a road racer since the age of sixteen. Before that, he spent his younger years thrashing dirt bikes.



Yamaha FJR1300AS


Not too long back MSL took this bike’s manual geared sibling out for a spin around e Lakes. It didn’t score too highly, with most of the trip’s test riders rating it the lowest against the VFR1200F, K1300S and Triumph Sprint GT it faced. And so the wooden spoon came out. In fact, it stayed out, in preparation for the FJR’s second coming, rather unfairly. Truth is, the Yamaha turned out to be the dark horse on our trip to Exmoor, gaining a lot of positive comments because of its lightweight feel and auto gearbox. Considering none of us had ever ridden an AS spec FJR before, we all had a bit of a play with the system before venturing away from MSL’s car park. It seemed novel and operated seamlessly on the touch, up and down the box using plus and minus buttons on the le handlebar, but we couldn’t figure out how to get the box to go back down on its own. ere was a manual, but we didn’t read it, preferring the option of wasting time as well as fuel, riding the solution out.

second opinion

YAMAHA FJR1300AS – BEN MILLER What a great gearbox. It had us all confused at the start, but once you got a few miles under your belt it just seemed to make perfect sense. I really think it complemented the bike and allowed you get the most out of the five-speed motor. I also liked the handling. It felt very neutral and was easy to manage in town, feeling surprisingly lightweight when compared to the others. Technologically, it did lack a little, but so too did the Kawasaki. For the money, I’d probably be inclined to expect a little more than what the FJR offers.

Eventually, someone realised that the box would go down, but only at silly slow speeds. For example, if you were in fih, it would only change down to fourth below 20mph. Likewise, if you were in second, the box held off downshiing until you’d reached 10mph. Compared with Honda’s DCT gearbox, this element of the Yamaha’s box was a flop, which is why we all preferred to control the shis purely on the button. Having got our heads around this, the journey continued out onto the public roads, where the Yamaha trundled along nicely. e trip down to Somerset was straightforward enough, sticking to A and B roads where possible, before giving in to a final blast on the motorway. e only qualms worth noting were that the seat felt overly firm and the screen still wasn’t high enough, even when set to its highest – there is a taller option available from Yamaha. e positives however far outweighed these niggles, with praise being thrown at the Yam for its slow speed control, the responsive five-speed motor and the comfortable riding position. Day two saw a lot more back lane action and town riding. is is where the FJR really excelled. It seemed to thrive on the twisties and behaved the best of the bunch when the reins were on and the pace was akin to that of a snail. e bike generally seemed well balanced, with neither the head nor tail determining the FJR’s handling behaviour regardless of the speed you travelled at. It also felt the most manageable at a standstill, where it was easy to plant both feet firmly down on terra firma. Overall, the Yamaha proved itself an easy-going and commendable tourer, with more compliments fired at it for its general looks. On a final note, I wasn’t blown away by the clumsy looking, and positioned, handlebar switches. ey’re a small detail, but a clear illustration of this bike’s vintage pedigree. Compared with the BMW and Triumph, they also felt far less intuitive to navigate.

Specification YAMAHA FJR1300AS Price: £15,199 Engine: 1298cc, liquidcooled, inline four-cylinder Power: 144bhp @ 8000rpm Torque: 102lb-ft @ 7000rpm Wheelbase: 1545mm Weight: 296kg Seat height: 805mm/825mm Tank size: 25 litres Contact:

The FJR’s auto assisted gearbox proved popular.

The bike’s panniers were the smallest of the bikes on test. 51



Bag one of these for under £2000 and you’ve got yourself a bargain. It’s a great bike, trouble is that the rest of the motorcycle world is starting to realise this. So be quick if you fancy one while the price is low. WORDS: Chris Moss PHOTOGRAPHY: Mike Weston



he Daytona 900 is one of the earliest of the second-generation Triumphs manufactured at the Hinckley factory. With decent performance and lots of endearing character it makes a great buy – but hurry, the historic bike probably won’t stay cheap for much longer.


e 1990s was a key decade for Triumph. Production of the British brand’s reborn bikes, brainchild of multimillionaire builder John Bloor, began in 1991. Triumph had failed miserably to match the onslaught of the Japanese at the end of the 70s. is time round the competition was even tougher and more firmly established. European brands were starting to gain favour again too. Bikes built in Hinckley had to be right, and unless the first ones captured the hearts of buyers then it could have been curtains for Triumph again. Bloor’s engineers cleverly adopted a modular concept to keep costs down. All early bikes featured the same steel spine frame and either three or four cylinder engines of varying capacity. e 1992 Daytona 900 is one of these early models, and though it couldn’t match its rivals for outright performance, it still had many virtues with its strong character helping to make it sell well. With other Triumphs also proving popular, the manufacturer then went from strength to strength to become the huge success it is today. e Daytona has remained part of the line-up being offered in 600, 650, 675, 750, 955, 1000 and 1200cc engined options. Today’s middleweight Daytona 675R forms the basis for supersport racers competing at national and world level.


It doesn’t take long for Triumph’s Daytona 900 to have a profound effect on you. e stylish, rugged-looking sportbike played a part in the firm’s comeback success, helping to restore its reputation. And just as it pleased those who bought and rode it when it first came out

ABOVE: It looks very much of its time and that’s as much of a compliment as we can pay this icon of British motorcycling. This is a wonderful bit of biking history that’s very good fun to ride. BELOW: Good, well looked after Triumphs are not exactly uncommon but they are becoming harder to find, so if you see one like this – bag the bugger.

in 1992, it has the ability to do the same over 20 years later. Not that many bikes can claim that. Of course the 900 has to be assessed differently these days, and in sheer performance terms has slipped down the ladder quite a bit. But it’s aged well in terms of endearment, and two decades on is still a very satisfying machine. is 1995 example has been looked aer well, and finished in black has a classy appearance. It’s matured nicely, and the slightly bulbous and curvaceous bodywork that may have been judged as a little dated when it was first launched, is now widely viewed as classic and eye-catching. e Triumph has a solid, chunky look to it with components that give the impression they’ll last an eternity. ere’s a secure feel from the way it rides too, even if you need to make some allowances for its weight and where that’s placed. Quite tall, and a little top heavy, it

I sell them Garry Mackay of Pure Triumph in Woburn knows his Daytona 900s. “It’s become a good-looking classic that can be had for little money. But ones in really good condition, with a full service history are few and far between. These days I only see a couple like that every year. “The Daytona generally attracts older, more caring owners and they’re the people you’re better off buying from. Though just like many official

Triumph dealers, even if we took a really nice one in we would just move it on. You don’t see older models for sale in shops like ours. Smaller non-franchised dealers are the place to get them. “Though they’re a good solid bike, it’s important to keep them clean. They soon start looking rough if they’re not attended to regularly. I tend to see a lot more of those. But stay on top of them and they’ll be reliable and last well.” 101

Cafe culture Steve Rose


nd so it goes. e baton of motorcycling is being passed to a new generation. Excuse me? Aren’t we supposed to be the last of the line? you ask. What about all this motorcycling getting older nonsense? What about the fact that the only people I see at the bike meets, cafes and shows are grey haired, pot-bellied action-adventure men riding high-powered, high cost, high capacity European character chariots? Well, it’s true, of course. e average age of a UK rider is fast approaching 50 years of age. But something got me thinking last month. e story about Brent Council banning illegal road racing hooligans (and every other motorcyclist) from a stretch of road near the Ace Cafe. Now I’m pretty sure that these hellcats, bent on selfdestruction or whatever the appropriate cliché is are not silver haired GS Adventure riders banging panniers as they dive three deep into the mini roundabout on Rainsford Road. No, they’re nippers. A new wave carrying on where the Chelsea Bridge crew, Box Hill brigade and Squire’s caff wheelie herberts le off. It’s more prevalent in London and the big cities because that’s where bikes make sense. Last time I went to the Ace on a Friday bike night I was surprised at just how many young riders there were on ZX-6Rs and GSXR750s. We got chatting and their logic was simple. ere’s no point driving a car in London because you can’t get anywhere in less than an hour, the insurance premiums and congestion charge are crippling and there’s nowhere to park when you get there. Apart from the insurance, none of that applies on a bike. So last week I went back, and, if anything there are even more sub-25 year olds than before. But the bikes have changed. A significant number are still on the sports bikes but the new kids are riding their own form of custom bike. A sort of cross between cafe racers and street trackers. ey’re known as Brat style, apparently and the recipe is simple and cost efficient. Take a forgotten 1970s or 80s unfaired Japanese lightweight or middleweight, take it to bits, clean it up and put it back together, leaving all the superfluous bits, like tailpieces, mudguards, pillion seats etc. in the bin. Exhaust bandage around the down pipes adds a touch of flat track chic and some clip on bars and bum-stop seat are a statement of intent. ey look beautiful, cost almost nothing to make and the scene is growing so fast that it won’t be long before that old CB250T you’ve got rusting in the shed will be worth more than the 2002 FireBlade you sold a few years 122

Steve’s had an idea about the yoof – that is, the motorcyclists of tomorrow.

Who is Steve Rose? Steve Rose is a high mileage road rider. A former editor of Bike and RiDE magazine and one time back street bike dealer. He’s also one of the UK’s most experienced and trusted road testers

back. Seriously, not that long ago a Brat style Honda CB250 – stripped back and restored minus a few kg of bodywork sold online for £3250. I was watching as the auction unfolded. e cafe racer scene is booming again. At one end there are the high-spec, high cost big-bore playthings for those wanting something with a bit more, er, statement than a production bike. But it’s the bottom end where the ingenuity happens. And it’s a shame the grey import market dried up because there are some super cool Japanese market only 400cc retro bikes that would make ideal donor machines. e Japanese market went Bratstyle about 15 years ago, all it would take would be one enterprising importer to make it very exciting over here again too. It’s wonderful to watch it happening. A generation putting two fingers up to the bureaucrats who’ve tried to legislate bikes off the road with an ever more complex test. A generation that takes the new A2 licence restrictions and develops a whole new sub class of bikes based on crusty, unloved classics. At the Ace last week there was one lad on a well modified Kawasaki Z440LTD twin. Which, for those of us old enough to remember was, in the 1980s and 90s probably the worst regarded Japanese motorcycle ever apart from the GPz305 (there was one of those too in street tracker style). But the Zed looked beautiful and because it wouldn’t make anywhere near 47bhp if you attached 46 horses to the handlebars it fits perfectly within the new regulations, while looking nothing like anything that the old folks ride. Don’t forget how fast your first big bike will always feel. Aer a lifetime on foot, push bikes and maybe a restricted moped, that Kawasaki will feel like a missile. I’ve no idea whether the street racers in Brent are riding old MZs, Honda twins and cafe racer’d XS400s, I never got that far. Neither did I get to talk to any of the Brat-pack kids. It didn’t feel right. We might both ride, but I’m not one of them and they don’t want to be part of my world. Funnily enough it made me feel like the old guys I used to meet at Sherburn caff in the 80s. ey were MSL readers too. I was on whatever cheap Japanese hack I’d nailed together for long enough to get there, still trying to work out how to wheelie. We’d nod, grunt and move on. Nothing in common and everything too. Funny old world, eh?

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure - December 13 - Sample Edition  

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure, November 2013, Issue 639, sample. See more:

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure - December 13 - Sample Edition  

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure, November 2013, Issue 639, sample. See more: