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First Ride





MT-09 SP Yours for under £9k


The ultimate tourer just got better



MARCH 2018 No.690


It’s got a brain the size of a PLANET


Sharing the love... Mikko Nieminen


he sheer variety of what ‘motorcycling’ entails never ceases to amaze me. From touring to road racing, and trail riding to motoball, there are so many variations of people moving on two wheels that surely there’s something for everyone. And, naturally, not all of it appeals to all of us. I like to think that I’m pretty open to all sorts of lark when it comes to riding bikes, but there’s no way you could get me to ride a wall of death (just the thought of it makes my head spin) or try my hand at ice speedway (have you seen the size of the spikes on their tyres?). But there are plenty of things that I would like to try: motogymkhana and an adventure riding trip somewhere exotic are at the top of the list this year. There’s even been talk of a few of us in the office pooling our money and buying a cheap bike for a bit of motogymkhana fun. None of us knows much about it other than that it looks like amazing fun, but we figure that we’ll pick it up as we go along. That seems to work with most aspects of biking. The variety of motorcycling is also evident in the bikes that we ride day in day out, and what we like to do with them. Some of us ride brand new machines that look like they have just rolled off the production line, while others swear by their old battered work horses. There are fair-weather riders, all-year riders, and round-the-world riders. We all have our own unique relationship with our bikes and motorcycling in general – and that’s what makes motorcycling great! At MSL we like to think that we’re a broad church of motorcycling. Because we’re all different, and into different things, we like to offer our readers articles on a wide range of bikes, events, training, adventure

and people to suit all tastes. As long the topic has something to do with motorcycling, we’re interested – and we hope that you are too. With that in mind, in addition to the standard MSL with the latest news, products, launch reports and the usual knowledge and touring content, with this issue you get a free supplement to help you make 2018 your best biking year ever. We have had a look at the most tempting new metal and talked to the manufacturers to get the latest prices and finance deals for the best bikes. You might be surprised to see how affordable some of them can be if you’re prepared to take advantage of finance. To help you make the most of your new (or current) bike, we have also gathered a selection of routes worth sampling with maps that you can take with you and gpx files available on our website. If you want to make 2018 the year when you take the plunge and sign up for advanced riding, track training or an off-road course, there’s a selection of our favourite training schools in there too. And to top it all off we have the latest products and an events calendar for the year, so you won’t miss out on the biggest biking gatherings. And that’s on top of all the usual MSL content – not bad, huh? As the biking season gets going, we would also love to hear what you get up to on your bikes, so please keep sending your letters and photos to share the new riding year with MSL. And a big thank you to all of you who already did so last year. It’s great to share the love of motorcycling with you!

Mikko Nieminen, Editor

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure’s contributors... Alan Cathcart Alan Cathcart has been writing about bikes for more than 30 years, and riding them for even longer. He’s regularly given the keys to factory prototypes and being on first name terms with the bosses of bike companies around the world allows him to bag many scoops.

Roland Brown Has ridden for 37 years and been a bike journalist for more than 30. At Bike he ended up as deputy editor before going freelance. An author of 11 books, as a racer he was Bemsee 1300 champion 1984 and raced UK F1, Superstock and Superbike, plus World F1 races.

Chris Moss Mossy has raced the Isle of Man TT, dispatched in London and ridden everything from CX500s to fullblown GP prototypes. A former chief motorcycle tester for Motorcycle News, the 58-year-old admits he’s still loving two-wheeled life, and still learning.

Peter Henshaw Peter knows his stuff – he’s a former editor of this very magazine. Now a freelance journalist, he’s got the same enthusiasm for anything with wheels that he’s had since he was a child. An all-yearround biker who doesn’t own a car, he has written more than 40 books.

Alan Dowds He’s been writing about bikes for over 20 years, working at various UK magazines before striking out as a freelance writer in 2010. He’s very Scottish, but now lives in that there London, so he gets about on a Burgman 650 hack, bought with his own cash. 3



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24 4 Motorcycle Sport & Leisure – established 1962


Suzuki GSX-S1000F Techno gubbins – can you plug in and play?


Yamaha XMAX 400 Winter clothes on the scoot


ROAD TESTS Benelli Leoncino 500


Suzuki V-Strom 250 Trails are calling


2005 Yamaha FZS1000 The verdict is in

The lion cub is back


Husqvarna TE250i Fuel-injected two-stroke fun


Ducati Multistrada 1260 S


Ducati electronic suspension explained

It’s bigger and better


Yamaha MT-09 SP


More than the some of its parts


Triumph Street Triple S Honda Gold Wing Touring in luxury


Big & small Honda Africa Twin vs CRF250 Rally

104 Classic test 1989 Honda CBR600F


Are you experienced? Triumph Factory Visitor Experience


A2-friendly model ridden


Tech talk

What’s on? Dates for your diary


Tried & tested Biking essentials tested

102 Kevin Cameron Duty cycle

114 Tony Carter On a charge

March 2018 EDITOR: Mikko Nieminen: ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Tony Carter: SENIOR DESIGNER: Justin Blackamore DESIGNERS: Fran Lovely, Charlotte Turnbull PRODUCTION EDITOR: Dan Sharp PICTURE DESK: Paul Fincham, Jonathan Schofield, Angie Sisestean PUBLISHER: Dan Savage: GROUP KEY ACCOUNTS MANAGER: Steff Woodhouse: 01507 529452 / 07786 334330 DIVISIONAL ADVERTISING TEAM LEADER: Zoe Thurling 01507 529412 ADVERTISING SALES: Sam Lawson: 01507 529468 SUBSCRIPTION MANAGER: Paul Deacon: CIRCULATION MANAGER: Steve O’Hara: MARKETING MANAGER: Charlotte Park: COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR: Nigel Hole 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 18 for offer): (12 months 12 issues, inc post and packing) – UK £51.60. Export rates are also available – see page 18 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 CUSTOMER SERVICES NUMBER: 01507 529529 TELEPHONE LINES ARE OPEN: MONDAY-FRIDAY 8.30AM-7PM SATURDAY 8.30AM-12.30PM DISTRIBUTION: Marketforce UK Ltd, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HU. 0203 787 9001. PRINTED: William Gibbons & Sons, Wolverhampton The publisher accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. If you are sending material to us for publication, you are strongly advised to make copies and to include a stamped addressed envelope. Original material must be submitted and will be accepted solely on the basis that the author accepts the assessment of the publisher as to its commercial value. © Mortons Media Group Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage retrieval system without prior permission in writing from the publisher. ISSN: 1478-8390 MOTORCYCLE SPORT & LEISURE (USPS:001-522) is published monthly by Mortons Media Group Ltd, PO Box 99, Horncastle, Lincolnshire LN9 6LZ UK. USA subscriptions are $66 per year from Motorsport Publications LLC, 7164 Cty Rd N #441, Bancroft WI 54921. Periodical Postage is paid at Bancroft WI and additional entries. Postmaster: Send address changes to MOTORCYCLE SPORT & LEISURE, c/o Motorsport Publications LLC, 7164 Cty Rd N #441, Bancroft WI 54921. 715-572-4595 chris@

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6 Motorcycle Sport & Leisure – established 1962

NEW Need to know ◆ Your letters ◆ First rides

Suzuki’s fully-charged future Did you get the feeling that Suzuki’s line up for 2018 was a tad slim? Maybe that’s because they are planning something special…


uzuki may have launched only one new bike so far in 2018 – the SV650X retro take on the company's popular SV650 naked middleweight – but if the rumours from Greece are true, the company is working towards launching a GSX-700T, a turbocharged modern cafe-roadster-cum-naked based on the factory’s Recursion concept. That’s the claim by a host of Greek Suzuki dealers who have said that, at a meeting between them and Suzuki recently, they were told about the new model. The same source took the photo of the dealer’s screen listing, saying that this is the proof that outlines the factory’s plans. The claims continue with the Greek dealers saying that they were also told that the bike will be called the GSX-700T before being taken through the model range in full. This new T model will be powered by the 700cc XE7 twin-cylinder engine block with a variable geometry turbo (the 588cc version of that motor was shown alongside the original Suzuki Recursion concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2013). And as if that that’ss

not quite enough, the news also includes this snippet about the future model – the new motorcycle will probably run under the name ‘Recursion’ too. Suzuki registered the model name as a trademark two years ago for use across Europe and the US. You can see what is claimed to be the official Suzuki document that proves the impending arrival of the GSX-700T. We asked Suzuki about the validity of these claims and Paul de Lusignan, Suzuki GB’s general manager, said: “We are continually evaluating our new model plans, and explore different avenues of development when doing so. However, at this stage

we are not able to comment further.” There are other interesting bits of news in the leaked document. If it is legitimate, it seems to imply that there are model changes (MC in the document) and full model changes (FMC) to a host of interesting bikes from the GSX-R and GSX-S series to the Hayabusa. We must stress that these are just rumours at the moment, but given that Suzuki is seemingly having a bit of a quiet start to the year, it would be great to see some of these potential updates soon.

If the rumours are correct then we can expect a motorcycle very similar to this to appear towards the end of 2018. Possibly. 7

Test Ride 2018 Benelli Leoncino 500


BENELLI Benelli’s little lion is the king of the urban jungle. WORDS: Ross Mowbray PHOTOGRAPHY: Benelli


wned by China’s Qiangjiang for over a decade, the long-awaited revival of Italy’s oldest existing motorcycle brand is well under way. With a plethora of new models unveiled at EICMA 2017, Qianjiang/Benelli is leading the charge of Chinese manufacturers making strides in the European market. Back in 1951, Benelli launched its original Leoncino 125cc; one of the most popular machines in the iconic Italian brand's illustrious 106-year history, with 50,000 built between 1951 and 1972 – and for 2017, an all-new Leoncino 500 has made it to market. We travelled out to Italy for the Leoncino launch, and took the chance to put one through its paces in the hills above Rimini.


Hot on the heels of the parallel-twin Benelli TRK502 adventure tourer, Benelli has launched its latest incarnation of its iconic Leoncino. In short, it’s a naked roadster which matches neo-retro styling with modern technology – while sharing much with its TRK502 sibling. Interestingly, its standard Pirelli Angel ST tyres, Bosch ECU and two-channel ABS, are the only bought-in items for the Leoncino. QJ and Benelli look after everything else in-house, which includes the brakes and suspension. My first impressions based on appearance alone were overwhelmingly positive. It’s a fantastic looking machine, thanks to the hard work of Benelli’s new CentroStile Italian design centre which has reimagined the original

Leoncino, delivering an uncomplicated modern motorcycle, that’s great fun to ride too. A lovely design touch is the little lion (Leoncino translates to Lion Cub), which sits on the front fender, linking the new machine to the original Leoncino.


Features include a digital dash, which incorporates an analogue tachometer and digital speedo, and offers water temp, fuel gauge, clock, mileage, trip and gear information. Its lights are all LED and it comes with an Italian made leather seat (which is very comfortable, by the way) which is set at 815mm, delivering a surprisingly spacious riding position for my 6ft 1in frame – and I have no doubt that shorter riders would find the

8 Motorcycle Sport & Leisure – established 1962

Leoncino just as comfortable too. It weighs in at a fairly average 196kg, but it’s really well balanced so you’ll barely notice the weight once you’re in the saddle.

BELOW: Wide bars help the Benelli tackle the bends above Rimini.


ABOVE: Benelli’s updated powerplant.

TOP RIGHT: Easy to read digital dash.

LEFT: Ample stopping power from twin discs.

Specification BENELLI LEONCINO 500 (2018) Price: TBC Engine: 449.6cc twin cylinders, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, double overhead camshaft Power: 48bhp (35kW) @ 8500rpm Torque: 34lb-ft (46Nm) @ 6000rpm Tyres: (F) 120/70- R17; (R) 160/60 - R17 Brakes: (F) Twin 320mm floating front discs gripped by radially-mounted four-pot calipers; (R) Twin-piston calipers with a 260mm disc Suspension: (F) 50mm upside-down adjustable forks; (R) Adjustable cast aluminium swingarm carrying a cantilever monoshock Seat height: 785mm Weight: 186kg Fuel capacity: 13.5 litres Contact: www.unitedkingdom.

The Leoncino features fairly wide ‘Benelli Piega Bassa’ (‘low lean-over’) taper-section handlebars; in practice, they helped to provide excellent leverage for flicking the bike from side to side through the tight switchback we encountered on our test ride. The mirrors on the Leoncino are well designed too, providing an excellent rear view with no vibration – and its slimline 13.2-litre fuel tank offers a claimed 300km range. Admittedly, there are no indents for your knees, but it’s easy enough to grip regardless.


The Leoncino’s 500cc parallel-twin engine is near on identical to the TRK502’s – the only real differences are the exhaust system, airbox and engine mapping, which help to

increase performance, while meeting Euro 4 regulations. The Leoncino’s engine is smooth yet torquey, but with more grunt than its TRK sibling – putting out 48bhp at 8500rpm, with 34lb-ft of torque at 6000 revs. Admittedly, it is 28kg lighter than the TRK, so you’d probably be a little disappointed if it didn’t have a bit more oomph. While on paper it’s not technically a powerhouse, initial pickup is fantastic. You’ll have to work it hard to find its 10,400rpm limiter – and on the tight switchbacks above Rimini, I only came close a couple of times. In truth, it feels bigger than a 500cc machine, and unlike the TRK502, you won’t have to plan miles ahead before tackling an overtake, just make the most of its smooth power delivery and easy to use gearbox and

enjoy the deep resonant soundtrack that comes from its two into one exhaust as you wind the power on and sweep past traffic. For braking, the Leoncino comes with twin 320mm floating front discs gripped by radially-mounted four-pot calipers at the front, and a twinpiston caliper with a 260mm disc at the rear. In practice, they’re more than up to the job and will pull the Leoncino to a halt without much trouble. It also comes with switchable ABS, which is turned off under the seat, and turns back on when you restart the bike. It comes with 17in Pirelli Angel ST tyres (120/70ZR17 at the front and 160/60ZR17 at the rear), which help to deliver an excellent range of grip, even on the uneven and unpredictable surfaces we encountered up in the Italian hills.

ABOVE: The Leoncino comes with an Italian leather seat, one of few bought-in items, along with its Pirelli Angel ST tyres, Bosch ECU and ABS.

ABOVE LEFT: From 1951 to 1972, Benelli produced over 50,000 little Leoncinos. Here’s a shot of the original iconic 1951 125cc machine in all its glory. 9


Styled by Centro Stile Benelli, the Leoncino blends traditional scrambler shapes with modern technology. From the front mudguard, which displays the Lion of Pesaro to the new LED front headlamp, the Leoncino blends new and old seamlessly.


High quality suspension comes in the form of a 50mm inverted fork up front and a swingarm-monoshock setup at the rear. It’s comfortable, compliant and offers superb chassis control, whether riding fast or just taking it easy and enjoying the sights.


The Leoncino features an all-new twin-cylinder engine, featuring four-valve technology and double overhead camshfafts for maximum power, fuel injection, and a six-speed gearbox.

Suspension-wise, the Leoncino comes with chunky 50mm upsidedown adjustable forks up front and an adjustable cast aluminium swingarm carrying a cantilever monoshock at the rear. I found it soft enough to soak up the worst of the roads (which were fairly shocking), but stiff enough to inspire confidence


A steel-tube trellis frame surrounds the Leoncino's engine, and provides an optimum balance of rigidity and light weight.

in corners. It’s a massive step up from the TRK, which has the tendency to dive under heavy braking.


Okay, so the Benelli Leoncino sits among a plethora of new scrambler and retro-styled motorcycles – but personally, I think it really stands out


With a cable throttle rather than ride by wire, there’s no choice of riding modes on the Leoncino. Nor is there any other electronic rider aid beyond the switchable Bosch ABS. Simple is best, is the QJ mantra.

from the bunch. The Benelli Leoncino 500 amounts to an affordable, accessible, everyday streetbike suitable for all kinds of riders, that looks great too – plus, Benelli has an extensive dealer network in the UK thanks to its partnership with MotoGB, so you can rest assured you’ll have ample support available should anything go awry. There are two colour options available for the 2018 Benelli Leoncino – Leoncino Red and Vulcan Black.

BOTTOM LEFT: Heading down from San Leo, a spectacular fortress perched on top of the Mons Feretrius mountain, which is home to centuries of art, history, and culture.

Closest rival


The baby of the Scrambler family is powered by a 399cc air-cooled, Desmodromic L-twin, with two valves per cylinder. It doesn't have quite the same power and torque as the Leoncino (the Scrambler makes 40bhp and 25lb-ft), but the L-Twin has bags of character. 11

Top Stories Subscribers Build your own Suzuki offer get extra • MSL subscribers now have exclusive access to Nathan Millward’s Getting into Adventure publication. Here at MSL we endeavour to offer our subscribers a fantastic product at a greatly reduced rate, delivered in advance of the newsagents’ copies direct to your door. From time to time we will promote our titles at retail to raise awareness, with the aim of widening our customer base and ultimately ensuring that we can continue to find new customers. Last month was one such occasion, when Nathan Millward’s Getting into Adventure supplement was included with the magazine. We are now pleased to offer our subscribers digital access to the supplement free of charge. You can access the publication at by logging in with your email and customer cu ID.

The latest finance campaign from Suzuki puts customers in the riding seat. Suzuki’s new finance offer allows customers to build their own bespoke deal that best suits their needs. Available on a range of models in the 2018 line-up, the offer allows customers to choose either a 2% APR and two-year agreement, 3% APR over three years, or 4% APR over four years. Customers can also choose a PCP agreement or opt for a hire purchase deal, with a minimum deposit of £199.

The new offer is available on both the V-Strom 650 and V-Strom 1000 (inc. the XT and GT models), the new GSX-R1000, GSX-S1000, GSX-S1000F, the GSX-S750, both the Burgman 400 and the 650, the SV650X and the standard SV650, as well as the iconic Hayabusa. As part of the new offer, the GSX-R1000 can be had on a four-year PCP deal for £119 per month, with a £3161.62 deposit

or trade-in. Over the same period of years, as part of a PCP deal with a £2311.87 deposit, the V-Strom 1000 can be enjoyed for just £89 per month. For customers preferring a hire purchase deal, the V-Strom 650 can be ridden away for £169 per month over three years, with a £1724.11 deposit, or the GSX-S750 can be owned for £195 per month over the same period, with a £1129.52 deposit.

Jurby T-shirts raise £22,000 for helicopter ambulance Wemoto has raised £22,000 to fund a helicopter ambulance for the Manx Grand Prix through the sales of limited edition Jurby T-shirts. The cheque was presented to John McGuinness, on behalf of the Manx Grand Prix Supporters Club at Motorcycle Live. After raising £10,000 in 2015 and £16,000 in 2016, Wemoto’s target for this year was £20,000. The overwhelming support from customers as well as celebrity endorsement, has meant it has managed to exceed its target. RIGHT: John McGuinness with the cheque.

Meet the future of speed cameras It weighs less than a pound and fits into the palm of your hand. And the Metropolitan Police are trialling it now. Called the TruSpeed SE it measures 132 x 114 x 53mm – about the same size as a pair of small binoculars. Indeed, the camera does look like a small pair of binoculars but only has one lens that an officer looks through. The in-built laser can be pinpointed on any vehicle spotted through the eyepiece and then the speed of the 12 Motorcycle Sport & Leisure – established 1962

vehicle appears on the digital viewing screen inside the viewing lens. Costing around £1650, the TruSpeed SE is currently undergoing a series of trials alongside other speed camera-type devices with the Met Police Force. When using it in the field, officers will be able to clip a small screen to the bottom of the camera in order to show offenders the speed that they are claimed to have been caught doing on top of the footage of them riding or driving.

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure March 2018  

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure March 2018 preview Read more at:

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure March 2018  

Motorcycle Sport & Leisure March 2018 preview Read more at: