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thiS juSt in new products ■ Top-of-the-range lid just got even better

EBC Profile X Series Brake Discs £264.26pr

These ultra lightweight floating front rotor discs are replacements for the 20-year-old originals on my Honda NC30. The rotors feature a unique S-Drive button system and include square sided rivets in square drive pockets on the rotor and hub to allow the outer rotor blade to expand and contract under the heat of braking.

The steel is a special stainless blend with higher friction and is claimed to give an improvement in friction of up to 10 per cent. The weight of the discs is reduced by five to 10 per cent by using a button drive system on a lightweight alloy centre hub. ■ Improved braking (hopefully) Austin Smith

■ Incredibly light and strong discs

Shoei X-Spirit II £580

This is a replacement for the race-developed X-Spirit and features a redesigned exterior for improved aerodynamics and ventilation, as well as an all-new lining for improved comfort and easier care. Like the helmet it replaces, the X-Spirit II is extraordinarily light at just

1330g while still offering a high level of protection thanks to its AIM/carbon outer shell – in four different sizes – twin-density polystyrene liner, double D-ring chin strap and new emergency quick release system. ■ Light and well ventilated Emma Franklin

■ Quality bag at a high price

Kriega R30 rucksack £125

This new backpack has a roughly 30-litre main compartment and two generous outer pockets. The main compartment is drylined and sealed at the top with a roll-and-clip neck, ensuring it’s utterly dry even when attacked with the tester’s pressure washer. Six compression straps allow it to be packed down to a neat, non-flappy size when not overstuffed and Kriega’s well padded Quadlock harness ensures it is weightlessly comfortable on the bike. ■ The Rolls-Royce of rucksacks Simon Weir

42 Ride juLY 2010

Akraprovic Slip-On Megaphone £169 RiDE's new Yamaha R6 was visited by the shed fairies, who left the exhaust badly scratched. With a genuine Yamaha replacement pipe costing £854 this sporty lightweight slip-on from Akroprovic is a bargain alternative at just £169. The megaphone muffler is made entirely out of high-grade titanium and

will add a pure MotoGP look to the already sharp-edged R6. It also features a removable noise damping insert to reduce noise output, if so desired. Akrapovic are claiming a 1.2bhp increase in power, taking it from 111.7bhp to 112.9bhp. ■ Minimal bhp gain, better sound Austin Smith

■ Rip-roaringly cheap end can

HONDA VFR1200F vs BLACKBIRD How does Honda’s hi-tech V4 compare with the ever popular paragon of sports touring excellence, the CBR1100XX Super Blackbird?

58 Ride JULY 2010

the 360º test

Blame the hype, the rumour, the inevitable arms race of expectation. Blame the Blackbird. Honda’s supremely popular CBR1100XX ran for 12 years with barely a change, bar the inline four engine moving from carbs to fuel injection in 1999. That’s a long life for any model – let alone one that had been launched draped in the mantle of the corporate flagship. So it was inevitable that, as time passed, rumours of a replacement would surface. How much of it was wild speculation and how much carefully gleaned gossip from factory sources is unclear, but there was talk first of a 1200 and then of a V4 (or even a V5) long before the VFR1200F was actually unveiled in late 2009 – when it was pointedly not presented as a Blackbird replacement. But by then the die was cast. Owners who

were looking for a bike to take the place of the Bird, which was discontinued in 2008, latched on to the new VFR. Never mind what the factory said – for those loyal, mature Honda customers inclined to brisk long-distance rides, this bike was for them. Yet initial reactions at the launch were muted. Why? Blame the Blackbird – it had been just too good, for too long. Parked beside RiDE reader Jim Old’s tidy Blackbird on the Inverrary quay, there’s no hint of a father-son resemblance between the bikes. The Bird looks long, low, pointed, purposeful – everything about it says speed, though not in a shouty, hooligan way. To judge the taller, broader VFR by its styling is tougher. It says… well, Jim, what do you think of the looks? “I quite like it,” he admits. “I wasn’t sure from the pictures but it’s grown on me now I’ve seen it. And it’s very comfy.” The riding

MORE 360º tEst VFR1200F vs BLACKBIRD

In assocIatIon wIth DevItt

“In terms of balance and agIlIty around town It’s hard to beat”




FZ8 Quicker than a newbie-friendly 600, less intimidating than a full-on naked 1000 Words Emma Franklin

Yamaha’s smallest FZ has grown up. The FZ8 is an all-new 779cc replacement for the 599cc FZ6. Aimed squarely at riders who want more performance than a novice bike can give, but don’t want the expense or performance of a full-on litre bike, the 106bhp FZ8 sits slap-bang in between the 76bhp XJ6 and the rangetopping 130bhp super-naked FZ1. The market this FZ6 replacement is entering is a competitive one, ram-packed full of brilliant bikes – Triumph’s Street Triple, BMW’s F800R and Ducati’s Monster 796 to name but a few. They’re characterful, all loaded with torque and each sporty enough to be real sportsbike alternatives, while maintaining an air of versatility. The FZ8 has big shoes to fill, both in the

company of these competitors and also up against the bike it replaces, the universally popular FZ6. Thankfully, the nature of the FZ DNA and the nurture of the outstanding competition have made the new FZ8 really good. The 779cc engine – a newly designed cylinder head and camshaft mated to a modified 2008 R1 bottom end – was designed with a focus on midrange torque and it certainly feels strong. At low revs the engine pulls cleanly and remarkably smoothly, although there’s none of the low-down bum-sliding urge that’s characteristic of other bikes in this segment. No raucousness, no manic sensation of acceleration, just efficient propulsion. Things change higher up the rev range though: after a slight dip in power at 6000rpm – blame emissions regulations, says FZ8 product planner Alesandro Polati – the FZ8 starts to get some gumption. From 8000rpm to the 13,000rpm red line, the FZ8 is seriously fast, revving with the freneticism of a supersport bike, backed by the reassuring beef of a litre bike. It pulls in any gear and at any revs, but pulls best up the top third of the tacho. It’s this split personality that makes the FZ8 so rideable. Powering out of the tight hairpins in the hills overlooking Marseille, where we were lucky enough to enjoy this first ride, the FZ8 was smooth and stable. The fuelling and delivery in first and second gear meant these slow corners could be attacked confidently before clicking up a gear and unleashing the fury of the top end on the short straights that separated them. Likewise, away from the green and mountainous beauty of the Provencal countryside and into the concrete jungle of Marseille city centre, the FZ8’s tall first gear and smooth yet urgent low-down power make it a highly credible city bike. In fact, in terms of balance and agility around town, it’s hard to beat. The chassis, featuring a cast aluminium frame and swingarm based

Frame is based on the FZ1’s and the engine uses bits of the old R1, making the FZ8 very different from the XJ6

JUly 2010 Ride 113

In assocIatIon wIth DevItt




Kawasaki’s high-speed tourer has new bodywork and new tech for 2010. The old bike worked just fine – so are the changes worthwhile? Words Simon Weir Pictures Rory Game

116 Ride JULY 2010

RiDE July  

Tells It Like It Is