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SEPTEMBER 2016

motorcyclistonline.com

2017 SUZUKI SV650 FIRST RIDE: BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER?

[ BMW F800GS-A vs. HONDA AFRICA TWIN vs. TRIUMPH TIGER 800XC ]

 MINI MOTO ROOTS 1971 YAMAHA JT-1: KIDS’ 58CC TICKET TO FREEDOM

 BABES RIDE OUT

• ENGINE OIL EXPLAINED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW • HOW TO FLUSH YOUR COOLING SYSTEM • SHOULD YOU UPGRADE YOUR ECU?

1,000 WOMEN IN THE DESERT. NO, DUDE, YOU’RE NOT INVITED.


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INSIDE… 24

FIRST RIDE / 2017 SUZUKI SV650 The venerable SV650 is back—lighter, more powerful, and better looking.

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MC COMPARO / THE NEW MIDDLE GROUND Is Honda’s Africa Twin the new king of sub-$15,000 ADVs?

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GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN / BABES RIDE OUT Riding, camping, and partying in the desert. No boys allowed!

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ROOTS / YAMAHA JT-1 MINI ENDURO The best-selling kid’s product since candy pancakes.

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BACK TO SCHOOL / MOTOMARK1 Hands-on off-road training in North Carolina.

SEPTEMBER 2016

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CONTENTS CON’T

8

COOK’S CORNER

10

CRANKED

12

CODE BREAK

14

DRAWING THE LINE

18

MC MAIL

20

ME & MY BIKE

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GEAR: Summer Travel

47

MC TESTED

GARAGE 48

THE LOWDOWN ON ENGINE OIL Part I: Viscosity and Service Grades

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STREET SAVVY: Reaction Time

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RETAIL CONFIDENTIAL: What’s Your Type?

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HOW TO: Service Your Cooling System

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DOIN’ TIME

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SMART MONEY: 2010–2013 BMW R1200RT

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MEGAPHONE: Masochism & Motorcycles

SINCE 1912 / MOTORCYCLISTONLINE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF Marc Cook VICE PRESIDENT, GROUP PUBLISHER Andy Leisner CONTENT STRATEGY DIRECTOR Kurt Hoy DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL STRATEGY Brian Schrader EDITORIAL SENIOR ROAD TEST EDITOR Ari Henning SENIOR EDITOR Zack Courts ASSOCIATE EDITOR Julia LaPalme ONLINE EDITOR Brian Hatano ASSISTANT EDITOR Will Steenrod MANAGING EDITOR Irene Gonzalez COPY EDITOR Jessica Matteson EDITORIAL ASSISTANT/RECEPTIONIST Serena Bleeker COLUMNISTS Keith Code, Joe Gresh, Jack Lewis, Ed Milich, James Parker OUR REGULAR GUYS Mitch Boehm, Ken Condon, Jeff Maddox, Jerry Smith EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENTS Roland Brown, Alan Cathcart, Ben Purvis

ADVERTISING WESTERN REGIONAL SALES DIRECTOR Katelynn Kovaleff (760) 707-0087 EASTERN REGIONAL SALES DIRECTOR Ross Cunningham (212) 779-5042 DIRECTOR OF SALES AND OPERATION, AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE GROUP David Roe (724) 312-3207 EASTERN SALES DIRECTOR Dennis Scully (312) 252-2854 EASTERN ADVERTISING MANAGER Renee McGinty (312) 718-8880 WESTERN ADVERTISING MANAGER Brad Banister (949) 705-3104 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Chris Siebenhaar (760) 707-1070 ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, MARKETING & V-TWIN Chris Long (760) 707-1073 CLASSIFIED ACCOUNT MANAGER Kurt Eisinger (212) 779-5507 DETROIT ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Jeff Roberge (248) 213-6154 SALES OPERATIONS MANAGER John W. Scafetta ADVERTISING COORDINATOR/SALES ADMINISTRATOR Jeoff Haertle

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RETAIL SINGLE COPY SALES ProCirc Retail Solutions Group, Tony DiBisceglie RELATED PUBLICATIONS Cycle World, Dirt Rider, Sport Rider, Hot Bike, Baggers, and other specialty magazines.

ON THE COVER This issue’s test subjects sink their knobbies into the barren surface of a dry lake bed in the California desert as ace photographer Kevin Wing manages to soak up every last photon of light.

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COOK’S CORNER MARC COOK

n recent years, efforts to formally legalize lane-splitting in California have been unsuccessful—so we continue to be urged by California Highway Patrol “guidelines” to share lanes at no faster than 30 mph with no more than a 10-mph closure rate to cars. It’s worked, but if you live here you know it’s a widely ignored set of rules. An effort in 2013 introduced confusion because it specified certain types of roads where lane-splitting would be allowed but did not elaborate on the terms of the act itself—except to say that certain conditions must be met for lane-sharing to be legal: “(1) The passing occurs during traffic congestion; (2) The passing occurs at a safe speed.” Less useful than the CHP’s guidelines. Eventually the sponsor of this bill elected to let it die, and in its place rose California AB 51. In part, it says, “This bill would authorize a motorcycle to be driven between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane if the speed of traffic is 35 miles per hour or less and the motorcycle is driven no more than 10 miles per hour faster than the speed of traffic. The bill would provide that these provisions do not authorize a motorcycle to be driven in contravention of other laws relating to the safe operation of a vehicle.” An amendment reduced the traffic speed to 30 mph in February 2015 and then in May raised the closing rate to 15 mph and the free-traffic maximum to 50 mph. Around this same time came the study, “Motorcycle Lanesplitting and Safety in California,” conducted by the Safe

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“If we make the best of our new guidelines I think we’ll get there. But we have to be good citizens first.”

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Transportation Research & Education Center at the University of California, Berkeley. According to the report, “Lanesplitting motorcyclists were… injured much less frequently during their collisions. Lane-splitting riders were less likely to suffer head injury (9% vs 17%), torso injury (19% vs 29%), extremity injury (60% vs 66%), and fatal injury (1.2% vs 3.0%). Lane-splitting motorcyclists were equally likely to suffer neck injury, compared with non-lane-splitting motorcyclists.” But here’s an interesting wrinkle, “Compared with other motorcyclists, lane-splitting motorcyclists were more often riding on weekdays and during commute hours, were using better helmets, and were traveling at lower speeds. Lane-splitting riders were also less likely to have been using alcohol and less likely to have been carrying a passenger.” They’re more apt to be professional commuters and less fun seekers and likely to be the reason for the suggested raised speed limits in the later draft. For the moment, AB 51 has been denuded and passed through California’s Senate Transportation Committee. Where it once had specific speed guidelines, now the bill says this: “(a) For purposes of this section, ‘lane splitting’ means driving a motorcycle, as defined in Section 400, that has two wheels in contact with the ground between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane, including both divided and undivided streets, roads, or highways. (b) The California Department of Highway Patrol may develop educational guidelines relating to lane splitting in a manner that would ensure the safety of the motorcyclist and the drivers and passengers of the surrounding vehicles. (c) In developing the guidelines pursuant to this section, the department shall consult with agencies and organizations with an interest in road safety and motorcycle behavior, including, but not limited to, all of the following: (1) The Department of Motor Vehicles; (2) The Department of Transportation; (3) The Office of Traffic Safety; (4) A motorcycle organization focused on motorcyclist safety.” The fact that the guidelines are now shared among those who would promote motorcycle safety and those who have to enforce the rules is good, though I predict a slow ride through the legal system before we’re done. The end game should be obvious: legal lane-splitting across the US. It’s time. Despite the fair percentage of abusers in California—I see them every day—it’s proven to be relatively safe and efficient. If we make the best of our new guidelines and a broad-based effort comes forward to promote the benefits of lane-splitting in other states, I think we’ll get there. But we have to be good citizens first.

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ZACK COURTS

LANE-SPLITTING LAWS CRAWL ALONG


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CRANKED JOE GRESH

he guy was looking at the 1/4-20 bolt screwed into the face shield of my Walmart helmet. I had installed the bolt a little below eye level because the protruding thread makes it easier to maneuver the shield. The original plastic tab had broken off years ago during an end-over in Nevada’s talcum-powder desert. I climbed down from the Widowmaker’s saddle and slid my credit card into the gas pump’s money hole. He stood looking at the bike. “You might want to check your tire pressure, buddy.” I was entering my zip code on the keypad and didn’t quite understand, “What’s that?” He was a young guy, no more than 40 to 45 years old. “I think your tire is low on air.” I selected “no” to a car wash, “no” to grocery-store cents-off coupons, and “no” to a 55-gallon fountain drink. I turned to face my accuser. He pointed to the KLR250’s 21-inch front tire. “You’ve got severe cupping, buddy. I ride a Harley and my tire did that from under-inflation.” The two of us bent down and looked at the tire. The knobs were worn in an alternating pattern: one high, the next knob nearly gone followed by another high one. Up and down, the pattern repeated itself

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“You could’ve lashed 11 stray cats to the Widowmaker’s luggage rack and not lowered his opinion of me.”

around the tire’s circumference. “That could cause a crash. You don’t want to go down on the pavement, buddy.” The sharp plastic chin bar release lightly grazed my forehead as I removed my helmet. “I pumped it up this morning. It’s okay,” I told him, sweeping my hand across my forehead and checking it for blood. While I was doing this the guy spotted the paper shop towel I had zip-tied around the clutch-side handgrip. It looked bad. I should have used a cleaner towel. I felt obliged to explain. “These damn grips have gone septic on me. It’s like they’re dissolving. The paper keeps black, gooey stuff off of my hands.” He looked over the KLR’s broken mirror mount, ran his eyes across the scratched fenders and rightleaning headlight. He saw the duct tape holding the blinkers on and then, shaking his head in disbelief, he saw the bald rear tire. I must have appeared hopeless to him: unshaven, slightly addled with a motorcycle in quiet distress. Maybe I was riding the bug-catcher from a 28-foot motorhome. Or maybe I was a guy down for turkey season and the KLR was my swamp stomper. Whatever he thought, you could’ve lashed 11 stray cats to the Widowmaker’s luggage rack and not lowered his opinion of me. “Well,” he said doubtfully, “be careful out there, buddy.” He drove off in his metallic-gold Ford F-150. I wanted to chase after him and tell him that it didn’t happen overnight and that the KLR was a beautiful motorcycle a few years ago. Slovenliness crept up on me so slowly I felt nothing. Infrastructure breakdown is a major problem for us KLR owners because, like zombies, our motorcycles just keep moving forward. I saw on the internet-of-science where 83 percent of the parts on a Beauty is in KLR can be damaged before the eye of you’ll notice any decrease in the beholder. performance. Their hardiEspecially ness makes it hard to tell a when the beholder’s eyes bad KLR from a good KLR. are clouded Fixing them doesn’t really with cataracts seem to help anything. First a of love and mirror breaks off or maybe a fond memories. tree rearranges the headlight. You mean to repair it someday. Then the kill switch dies and plastic oxide rust, always creeping across a KLR’s bodywork, erodes your will. A series of insignificant insults spread over time until you and your motorcycle are figures to be pitied. I holstered the fuel nozzle, smoothed the wrinkles on the Widowmaker’s handgrips, and pulled the duct tape tighter on the blinkers. It’s funny how so many defects escaped my attention. After a while you simply ride right around them. Like I just did to that metallic-gold F-150 pickup truck.

Even as a zygote young Mr. Gresh could be heard making vroom-vroom motorcycle noises, albeit very quietly as his mouthparts had not yet formed. It only got worse over time. Now, there’s no way to stop his incessant bleating about motorcycles, especially if the topic turns to vintage Yamaha two-strokes. 10

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JOE GRESH

BROKEN WINDOWS


B u i l d Y o u r D r e a m ... With a little help from BikeMaster.

1993 YAMAHA® TZ-250


CODE BREAK KEITH CODE

ost riders take a moment to feel how their bike is settling into the corner before getting on the gas. That moment is loaded with not-to-be-ignored perceptions and sensations like feeling the bike’s stability; suspension and chassis compliance dealing with the road; feeling for traction; being aware of the deceleration; checking the direction of travel (line); and gauging lean angle. All these are active and beg for a portion of our attention—and we wait to respond with the gas. Instinctually, that moment we take to feel the bike seems like a safe, logical, and natural part of riding. The problem lies in the fact that it can last a second or two. Time equates to distance traveled and is further compounded by our body’s reaction lag once satisfactory feel is achieved. Getting back on the gas after braking seems quick enough, but it’s at least 0.5 second, or three bike lengths, at a mere 30 mph—or 12 lengths at 120 mph, on top of the wait-to-feel time. To convert your turn entries from reaction time into what I call action time, you’d need to be perhaps a second or more

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“Instead of waiting for the bike to give you permission to roll on the gas, stick to your plan and do it.”

ahead of that moment you burn “getting the feel of it.” Bluntly put, instead of waiting for the bike to give you permission to roll on gas, you stick to your plan and do it. Running by plan, the job becomes easier. Contrary to our instincts, there is suddenly plenty of time and attention to spend on the bike. Overcoming the urge (and the barrier) to wait for confirmation from the bike is a major stage in any cornering enthusiast’s development. Converting from reaction time to action time means eliminating the wait-to-feel step. Put yourself and the bike into full control by having a predetermined action-time plan and an ironclad decision to, as in this example, get back to gas. My own action-time breakthrough was on a 250 GP bike in turn three at Willow Springs. The turn is flat on the entry and picks up a comforting 10 degrees or so of banking as it goes uphill. I was working out quick-flicking the bike into it while increasing entry speed but hit one of those frustrating “walls of improvement.” My effort level and anxiety were on the rise, but there was no improvement in lap times. Thinking it through back in the pits, I realized that I had been waiting to feel that moment of “traction/line/lean and speed security” as the bike hit and settled into the banking. I was waiting for confirmation. It had become part of my “plan.” It had become a point of timing for getting back to the gas. My action-time plan was simple: Start the roll-on the instant I had the bike snapped over, about 1.75 seconds As soon as sooner than ever before. the bike is leaned over, I tried it and it worked. roll on the The difference in speed, gas. Waiting feel, and stability was for it to startling. Setting the “feel” settled wastes time. plan and converting to action-time opened up a new world of throttle and bike control. Prior to this, I would have rattled off a list of benefits of waiting, like how that feeling of security the banking offered was a satisfying sensation; that I was getting a lot of feel from the bike and tires; that the positive feedback was comforting; that it gave me a point of timing, a structure, a sequence, and a plan to ride that turn; and that I knew what to expect. It was definitely rich with satisfying perceptions but complicated and slow. I had a self-created reaction-time barrier. Plans based on reaction time are all as flawed as this one was.

Keith Code, credited as the father of modern track schools, founded his California Superbike School in 1980 and currently operates programs in 11 countries and on six continents. His A Twist of the Wrist series of books (and DVDs) are thought by many to be the bible of cornering. 12

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KEVIN WING

TIME TO FEEL


DRAWING THE LINE JAMES PARKER

fter I worked on the chassis design for the Mission R electric bike, I decided to look at the possibility of a “hybrid” motorcycle. Most hybrid vehicles have two drive systems—internal combustion and electric—and on motorcycles this imposes serious weight and packaging compromises. At this point, I don’t think conventional hybrid motorcycles would be very good. But there’s another hybrid technology under development that could work well to create very interesting high-performance motorcycles. Starting in 2009, Formula 1 car racing allowed a hybrid system that provided supplemental horsepower, called KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System). Electrical (or mechanical) energy generated under braking is stored and then used to provide additional power under acceleration for short periods. In 2014, a second hybrid element was introduced. In addition to the KERS motor/generator, there is now a second motor/ generator, this one attached to the engine’s turbocharger. Under

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“Alternative hybrid technology can liberate turbocharging from its dependence on engine rpm and do for bottom-end power what turbocharging has always done for top-end power.”

deceleration, when reduced exhaust flow reduces turbo speed, this motor spins up to maintain turbo rpm and keep boost near maximum. Turbo lag, the time needed for turbos to speed up enough to provide boost, has always been the turbo’s weak point. The new hybrid application virtually eliminates it. At high engine and turbo revs, the electric motor attached to the turbo becomes a generator, generating electricity while

working to slow the turbo and thus limit boost from becoming destructive to the engine. (A conventional wastegate is also used as a backup.) The electricity charges the battery for when the motor needs to keep the turbo’s speed up (or to help with the KERS energy distribution). The illustration shows the Renault F1 battery (left), engine (center), and turbo (right). Nested in the engine’s vee is the turbo’s motor/generator, called the MGU-H by Renault. Will we see such a system on motorcycles soon? Probably not, as the F1 setup is astronomically expensive. But there’s another version, using parallel ideas, that’s closer to production—the Volvo High Performance Drive-E Concept. This engine is a 2-liter inline-four, with two small, conventional, exhaust-driven turbos mounted close to the exhaust ports for best efficiency. There’s also a third turbo (or at least the compressor half), but this one is exclusively electrically driven to eliminate turbo lag when the engine is at low revs and the exhaust-driven turbos would not be providing enough boost. How well does it work? It makes 450 hp from 2 liters and has the bottom-end torque it needs to pull a heavy car around. What would something like this look like in, say, a Yamaha FZ-07? Although its engine is less than half the displacement of the Volvo project, mechanically it’s much like half of the Volvo with its two cylinders, two cams, and four valves per cylinder. It would get one small exhaust-driven turbo and a smaller version of the Volvo electrically driven turbo. Add an intercooler and various upgrades to take the additional Renault’s power and we’d have a little KERS engine superbike. uses an elecAt the power-pertric motor displacement number of the to spin up Volvo, the little 689cc “FZEthe turbo, unlocking 07” would put out 155 hp serious and would likely have signifilow-end cantly more bottom-end power. Would torque than any literbike. a similar system The lesson here is that work on a this alternative hybrid motorcycle? technology can liberate turbocharging from its dependence on exhaust flow and engine rpm and do for bottom-end power what turbocharging has always done for top-end power. We can perhaps see the superefficient F1 approach to hybrid turbocharging as the preferred future system, but Volvo has shown that we don’t have to wait to take that approach—we can have a workable system now. Audi is also working with turbo company Valeo on what they call an electric supercharger. With Audi’s involvement with Ducati, would that be a possible route to seeing hybrid turbos on motorcycles? Interesting times ahead.

James Parker designed his first original motorcycle in 1971; his most recent design is the Mission R electric superbike. In between, he worked on multiple other motorcycle projects, including 30 years spent evolving the RADD front suspension system used on the Yamaha GTS1000 and various other prototypes. 14

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MCMAIL UNDERWHELMED BY THE OCTANE I enjoyed Marc Cook’s evaluation of the Victory Octane in the July issue. However, the Octane is one of the ugliest rides I’ve ever seen. This is compounded by the regurgitation of the Scout platform and the ensuing campaign to convince everyone that it’s a whole different bike. To this day I, and many of the riders I connected with back in Victory’s beginnings, have bemoaned the demise of the V92SC. I owned both the 2000 and the 2001 and relish the memory of throwing this 700-plus-pound bike into long sweepers at 90 mph and firing outta the apex like you were being shot from a cannon…with confidence! The SC was far from perfect, but back then Victory was listening to its riders and taking input seriously. So when Marc Cook asks “…if the Octane were a fire-breathing machine with, say, 130 or 140 rear-wheel horsepower, would it sell?” You bet your ass it would! Especially if it sat on an updated SC platform! And when he wonders, “Maybe there’s a truly hot-rod Vic in the CAD,” I can only pray. Alfonso Adinolfi / Kent, WA

Cruiser Confusion, Still Impressed By the Interceptor, and a Call For a More Vicious Victory I too watched with much anxiety as the 156 project progressed. I read with glee the recounts of labors involved to expand the realm of hot-rod bikes. I watched the videos of progress made racing up the mountain. When Polaris put the builder bikes into the hands of individuals, I began to envision a new ride to adorn my garage. But alas, yet another project reduced to only adding another input to the bottom line. At any rate I do agree with what you said you anticipated with regard to the 156 Project as it turned into the Octane. We must “endeavor to persevere” keeping vigilant the quest to sniff out, investigate, and enjoy new possibilities. Bill Warner / via email

CONFUSED BY OUR CRUISER TEST I was interested to read the comparison test for lower-priced motorcycles in the latest issue (“Blue-Collar Cruising,” July, MC) because I don’t have the funds to consider most of the motorcycles you feature. But I was startled to see the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight come out ahead of any of the other bikes.

Mr. Courts writes that the Forty-Eight has an uncomfortable ride, the poorest brakes, a clunky gearbox (though that’s an H-D hallmark), and useless mirrors. It was also the most expensive bike in the comparison. Its single redeeming feature was its looks. I don’t believe that a review like that should rank it ahead of any motorcycle that actually has some good qualities while it is moving. I am not suggesting that the Bolt C-Spec was a great bike (though being $2,500 less should be part of the equation), but I don’t know how you can rate the Bolt behind a product that does its best work while sitting on its kickstand. I think bikes should rate on how they ride and perform. Looks should never trump function, except maybe at an art show or museum. Lee Langenmayr / via email

Unlike our normal comparisons the bikes in this test weren’t ranked; they were discussed independently. However, I see where you got confused in that the Bolt was discussed first, then the Harley, and so on. The Harley wasn’t ranked ahead of any of the bikes.


LETTER OF THE MONTH

A SHAMELESS SHED MECHANIC Geoff Drake owes no one an apology for his ’69 Triumph Tiger (Megaphone, July, MC). He, and many other vintage-bike owners, keep them together with the purpose of riding them. As a longtime member of the International Norton Owners Association, I have seen every possible iteration of Nortons, Triumphs, BSAs, and others. Every one of these bikes belongs to a proud owner who rides them and shows them off to his or her peers. I by no means have a complete shop or the skills to do a concours-quality restoration. I am in lockstep with Drake. After all, these bikes were designed in a pub and built in a shed. I have kept my Norton together with HHFC (hammer, hacksaw, file, and chisel) for over 40 years. Be proud and ride!

2016

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Frank Gagliano / via email

We hear you loud and clear, Frank. And while you might not win any concours awards with your HHFC mechanic techniques, you’ve just won yourself a set of Forcefield Body Armor (from motonation.com) to upgrade your favorite jacket’s protection. These CE-approved shoulder and elbow pads are made from flexible and protective Nitrex Evo that retains its integrity, even after multiple impacts. Stay safe, and keep wrenching with pride! —Ed.

We agree with you that looks shouldn’t trump function, but not everybody shares our opinion, which is precisely why Zack described the Forty-Eight the way he did. If you came away from the article realizing that you don’t want a Forty-Eight because you appreciate functional machines, then we’ve done our job! —Ed. REVELING IN OUR ROOTS I read and re-read the VFR article (Roots, July, MC) many times. It is an incredible story of an incredible event, one that Honda is, and should be, extremely proud of. This article, even on re-reading, keeps me breathless and picking up new details. Mitch Boehm is not only a helluva rider, but he is also a very good writer. Randy Deinhammer / via email

I’ve really enjoyed Mitch Boehm’s recent essays about various bikes from the past, like the Z50, VFR, and Super Rat. Children of the 1960s like Mitch, Marc, and myself naturally progressed from ’60s minibikes to ’70s MX bikes to ’80s streetbikes and I about them. I’ll bet Ari and Zack might find these bikes uninteresting, the same way I tend to feel about pre-WWII stuff. But some concepts are so well crafted that they become “timeless.” That’s why Detroit resurrected the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro. That’s why “Stairway to Heaven”

still gets played on the radio. I think the motocrossers of the ’70s and the sportbikes of the ’80s fit within this idea of timelessness perfectly, and I hope you guys will keep writing about them. Steve Huckabee / Smyrna, GA

I have been waiting all year for a magazine that I could not stop reading, and the July 2016 issue was it. The Roots story on the VFR brought back memories of reading the original story in Motorcyclist magazine. The “Scouts Honor” story made me homesick for New Orleans. Keep up the good work. Joe Zuppardo / via email

MORE ADVICE FOR WOULD-BE MECHANICS I thoroughly enjoyed Ari Henning’s article on encouraging people to be better mechanics (MC Garage, July, MC). I especially applaud emphasizing the need to gather information on the task at hand and related tasks to gather associated facts such as his example of the

camshaft cap alignment. Simply wonderful thoroughness. I also agree with the need for organization, organization, organization, for the tools, the info, and the parts… It’s so critically important. I respectfully wish to add the need for quality tools. Too many people shortchange themselves on the joy of good tools that are competent and will not let you down. Lastly I would caution any man or woman in this field to not get a closed mind. A risk of assuming you know it all will shut you off from new techniques, new materials, new problem-solving abilities, and will grow your parts bill. Michael Torre / via email

FIX THE FIT I just want to offer an alternate solution to the girl with the painful helmet her boyfriend gave her (Answers, July, MC). I have a brand-new helmet that I was ready to trash for the same reason. I was advised to swap out the cheek pads. In my case,

Email us at mcmail@bonniercorp.com www.motorcyclistonline.com

19


ME 1983 Honda CB1100F Jeff Gilbert 52 Burlington, Vermont

I’m the original owner of this awesome CB1100F, which I bought in October 1983. I sold my ’82

The CB1100F was the last branch on the family tree that sprouted from the original 1969 CB750. It was the inheritor of the performance lessons Honda learned while racing the ’79 CB750F, famously ridden by “Fast Freddie” Spencer in the Superbike era. Unlike some of today’s sportbikes, which are built to race, the CB1100F was a product of racing. Honda took the 750’s DOHC engine and punched it out, strengthened the running gear, transmission, and wheels, and ultimately upped the power to a level far exceeding that of the CB750. You got all that for just a few hundred dollars more than the 750. But the 1100F was made for just one glorious year before the V-4 era dawned. It was overshadowed on the sales floor by the striking Interceptor but not in the performance department. For one brief, shining moment the 1100F was the fastest production bike on the planet. Unlike some bikes that were ridden hard, parked in a barn to rot for years, and then rebuilt or passed on to a nephew just to find their way to some guy like me, this one has been ridden by me every year since it was new. I ride it like I stole it every time I take it out, and after buying and selling hundreds of bikes—I currently own five others—it’s the one I’d keep if I could have only one. It has period-correct upgrades to the intake and exhaust, Ferodo brakes, a Barnett nine-plate clutch, a Jardine 4-into-1 exhaust that produces a raucous sound like no other bike, and a chin fairing I painted and designed myself to give it that “1985” look. My bike proves that if you don’t treat a motorcycle like a disposable paper cup it can still be relevant and enjoyable even after 30 years. And who needs antilock brakes and wheelie control? I control both with my right hand—no computers needed, thank you.

JEFF GILBERT

Bike restorer, personal trainer

CB900F to get it, and I can’t tell you how much of an improvement the 1100 was over the 900.

20 MOTORCYCLIST


www.kiska.com Photo: P. Matthis

RULE

THE BENDS

This built-to-thrill beauty thrives on its cornering prowess. Lay it flat, get it sideways and enjoy carving every bend in the road like never before. With unrivaled agility and a powerful single-cylinder engine, it’s easier than ever to own the streets. Meet the

KTM 690 DUKE

Please do not attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective riding gear and observe the applicable road traffic laws and regulations. The illustrated vehicles may from country to country and vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost.

KTM Group Partner


WORDS: Ari Henning

/

PHOTOS: Adam Campbell

2017 SUZUKI

“The SV650 magic is back!”

SV650

“Thank goodness!”

Restored to Glory

Gas gauge, temp gauge, gearposition indicator, and bargraph tachometer. The SV’s dash is completely digital. EVOLUTION Slight updates to the engine and a visual makeover help refine the SV650 and return it to its former glory as a fun, versatile, do-it-all streetbike.



The SV650 was a Motorcyclist staff favorite. More than half of us have owned SVs, and we’ve all recommended the bike to others. Repeatedly. So when the SV650 was replaced by the more expensive, heavier, and garish Gladius (later renamed the SFV650) in 2009, we were dismayed. With one misguided styling exercise Suzuki took the SV from being the tasty and wholesome snack everyone loved to being an overseasoned dish that few could stomach. Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief then because Suzuki has brushed the excess salt off the SV and now has a much more palatable bike. The ugly is gone, replaced by a redesigned tank, tail, seat, headlight, dash, and other parts that more closely resemble the simple and timeless look of earlier models. The new bike is also lighter, more powerful, and less expensive than the SFV650 it replaces. All that new bodywork is bolted to a bike that is more or less the same machine we’ve always loved, which means a narrow and nimble chassis and a gruff and lively engine. The SV’s ergonomics are just about as middle of the road as they come, so the riding position feels relaxed and neutral. Suzuki tweaked the SV’s venerable V-twin a bit for 2017, increasing output by a claimed 4 hp. Throttle response is nicely 24

MOTORCYCLIST

refined and thrust is strong off the bottom and abundant everywhere in the rev range, but the rhythmic V-twin power pulses begin to blend together at higher revs and the engine feels busy and buzzy above 7,000 rpm. No worries, though, because 5,000 rpm puts an indicated 70 mph on the new all-digital dash in top gear. On twisty mountain roads, this new SV is just as fun and willing a dance partner as the original. The bike has the kind of light and direct steering that lets you flick the bike from side to side while remaining centered in the seat. The engine has the same sort of encouraging personality—just leave it in one gear and revel in the smooth torque, as thick and tasty as a slab of Canadian bacon. As with all previous SVs the suspension and brakes are basic. In fact, they’re the same components Suzuki used on the original SV650, introduced in 1999! Updated spring rates and damping help this new bike feel more sure footed in corners, and while the Tokico brakes don’t have great feedback, they’re plenty strong. ABS is available for an additional $500. We’re excited to have the SV650 back— it’s like seeing an old friend. The 2017 bike

The same SV650 we’ve always loved, and now we don’t mind looking at it!

RIVALS Aprilia Shiver 750, BMW F800R, Ducati Monster 821, Honda CBR650F, Kawasaki Ninja 650, Yamaha FZ-07

has the same character and confidenceinspiring performance that we love but now with updated styling and a few more ponies. The best part, though, might be the price. Just $6,990. That’s all of $9 less than Yamaha’s FZ-07, which has stood as the SV650’s stand-in for the past two years. How do the two bikes compare? We’re excited to find out. Look for a comprehensive test in a future issue.

PRICE

$6990

ENGINE

645cc, liquid-cooled 90° V-twin

TRANS/FINAL DRIVE

6-speed/chain

CLAIMED POWER

75.0 hp @ 8500 rpm

CLAIMED TORQUE

47.2 lb.-ft. @ 8100 rpm

FRAME

Tubular-steel trellis

FRONT SUSPENSION

Showa 41mm fork; 4.9-in. travel

REAR SUSPENSION

Showa shock adjustable for spring preload; 5.1-in. travel

FRONT BRAKE

Tokico two-piston calipers, 290mm discs

REAR BRAKE

Nissin one-piston caliper, 240mm disc

RAKE/TRAIL

25.0°/4.2 in.

SEAT HEIGHT

30.9 in.

WHEELBASE

56.9 in.

FUEL CAPACITY

3.6 gal.

CLAIMED WEIGHT

430 lb. wet

AVAILABLE

Now

MORE INFO AT

suzukicycles.com


It’s the ride ;,!;1!ħ'89W When the sun meets the horizon and there’s nothing in front of you except the open road. That’s the only way to live. '; 3;38$@$£' -29<8!2$';3&!@W

Motorcycle geico.com | 1-800-442-9253 | /RFDO2IĆFH

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. Motorcycle and ATV coverages are underwritten by GEICO Indemnity Company. © 2016 GEICO


MC COMPARO

BMW F800GS Adventure vs. Honda Africa Twin vs. Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

THE NEW

MIDDLE WORDS: Zack Courts

PHOTOS: Kevin Wing

26

MOTORCYCLIST

GROUND


A

dventure, we have said in these pages, is in the wrist of the rider. It’s up to you to decide what kind of escapade suits the cut of your jib. To some, and what now defines the ADV category, it’s the luxury SUV of motorcycles—tall, rugged (looking), replete with whistles, bells, and sci-fi gyroscopes. To others, adventure is a couple of gallons of gas and just enough parlay with the DMV to mosey between trailheads. Or perhaps a venerable thumper somewhere in the middle, as reliable as taxes. With adventure touring being so exceptionally popular, companies have been building down from the $20,000 upper crust, in the general direction of simplicity. If what you desire is a broadly capable, full-size machine with the advent of a 21-inch front wheel but without frivolous gadgets like electronic suspension, you’ll want

an 800-class ADV. For a handful of years now, that has meant either a Triumph Tiger 800 or a BMW F800GS. Now, for the same price (less, actually!) you’re welcome to Honda’s new ADV special agent CRF1000L. Code name: Africa Twin. Along with price, it shares approximate power and weight figures, as well as the general scope of options, with the Tiger 800 XC and F800GS Adventure. And because they all share the dirt-biased, not-so-subtle-nodto-off-road-21-inch front rim, we thought we would fit up Continental TKC 80 knobbies and experiment with each bike’s actual beyond-the-pavement adventure capability. Still, we rode them all on the street. Each of the machines is just fine, delivering suitable and only slightly different on-road performance. But this test is dedicated to those customers who truly want to explore slices of this earth not groomed with tarmac or by heavy equipment.

www.motorcyclistonline.com

27


MC COMPARO

BMW F800GS Adventure vs. Honda Africa Twin vs. Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

The Triumph’s analog/digital dash is easy on the eyes but kind of a pain to use via the bar-mounted info switches. The fog lamp and heated grip buttons are huge but could be better lit.

3rd Place TRIUMPH TIGER 800 XCa

TOUR

OFF ROAD

TECHNOLOGY

» If there’s a company slicing one category thinner than Triumph with its Tiger 800 lineup, we’ve never heard of it. Hinckley now has eight (yes, eight) different versions of the Tiger 800, split into two columns of XR and XC—the XR bikes with cast wheels and Showa suspension and the XC models with spoke wheels and WP suspenders. The pricing spectrum begins at the base-level XR at $11,500 with ABS and TC but no frills and goes all the way up to the XCa, which boasts everything from heated seats and grips, to cruise control, to a GPS mounting kit and a $15,500 MSRP. For the purposes of our test, Triumph bestowed upon us the latter, a fully farkled XCa, to take on BMW and Honda. In our first stint, covering about 50 miles of pavement escaping greater LA, the Trumpet was off to a good start. The 800cc triple (which has been around since the Tiger debuted in 2010) is as sweet as ever, with excellent ride-by-wire fueling, a terrific growl from the pipe, and a satisfying top-end rush. Even though its wind protection was the worst in this test, the Tiger is smooth and agreeable on the freeway and doesn’t 28 MOTORCYCLIST

wheeze for a seventh gear like the BMW does. Handling is nice and light too. From a parking lot to twisty roads, El Tigre is a fine tarmac teammate. As we wound our way into the foothills via smooth dirt roads, the Tiger continued to hold its head high, bopping along confidently on loose gravel and soaking up potholes without breaking a sweat. If you’re in the mood to get frisky, turn off the mediocre off-road traction control and let the triple drift elegantly all day long, knowing the trustworthy off-road ABS has your back. It’s a fun bike, sure, but it was when the going got tough that the Tiger 800 finally felt out of its element. The WP fork and shock seemed refined and well calibrated on pavement but were immediately overwhelmed, surrendering completely to the third or fourth water bar. Odd, we thought, because the Triumph’s springs felt the stiffest on the street yet bottomed out the easiest when we went off the beaten path. When we researched it at a stop we noticed the Tiger’s suspension sits very deep in its stroke even when static, which means there’s less available stroke when a bump comes along. Even the engine, which made us smile on asphalt, just seemed peaky and uneasy in the dirt. It’s a good sport-touring powerplant, but it’s not the best for enduro-style riding. As for amenities, this XCa model we tested is soaked in doodads meant to make life easier. Three ride modes

(Road, Off-Road, and Rider) adjust throttle response, ABS, and TC behavior, with Rider being a custom mode that can be tailored via the dash. However, Triumph’s software team is officially writing checks that the small LCD screen can’t cash—cycling through ride modes via the dash-mounted button is easy enough, but entering the setup menu and tweaking the custom settings in the Rider mode is a headache when compared to other systems. We used Rider when tackling dirt because the off-road TC was a hindrance, though the bike will reset to Road mode whenever the key is cycled. Safety first! Because this test focused on the offroad prowess of these machines, you surely see now why the Triumph is trailing the pack. It’s just not as well suited to knobby-tire terrain. And at $15,500 it’s the most expensive of the group. If it were up to us, we would probably opt for the slightly lower-spec XCx—foregoing the heated seats and grips, fog lamps, and GPS kit, among other things—which keeps the essential ADV bits but saves $1,800, ringing in at $13,700. That price doesn’t fix what ails the Tiger 800 off road, but then who are we to say what kind of adventure you want to have?


2ND Place BMW F800GS ADVENTURE

TOUR

OFF ROAD

TECHNOLOGY

» For the 2014 model year BMW filled the cracks in its successful F800GS lineup with adventurous spackle, and the F800GS Adventure was born. The main additions were a bigger windscreen, prominent crash guards, and a larger front shroud to match the bulging addition of 2.1 gallons of fuel capacity under the seat. Side effects included a taller seat and having more range. ADV types the world over rejoiced! While 2014 is recent, the F800’s debut in 2008 is, well…less than recent. Has the midrange GS stood the test of time? Yes and no. First the “no.” Our time spent at freeway speeds showed the BMW’s engine for what it really is: an uninspired lump that was originally designed nearly a decade ago. It’s buzzy at high speed and needs an extra gear to travel comfortably at American freeway rates. The F800 mill gets the

Who ordered the dash from 2008? The BMW might not have the best touring engine, but 6.3 gallons of fuel under the seat is good for range and, therefore, adventure.

job done, no doubt, but for touring it was clearly the least successful of the three here. Aerodynamically, the F800 suits taller riders better than shorter ones—apropos considering the 35-inch seat height. The sour taste of pavement still on our tongue, trundling down dirt roads slowly brought the F800GS into focus. The water bars and rock gardens that flummoxed the Triumph were no problem for the BMW, and in fact our confidence rose with every bump, jump, and turn. Three-mode ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) controls rebound damping in the shock, though it’s hard to tell the difference between Comfort, Normal, and Sport settings. Because the F800GS is a heavy bike, we preferred the stiffest setting, Sport, both on road and off. Two simple ride modes, Enduro and Road,

adjust throttle response, ABS, and TC intervention simultaneously—and, brilliant as always, BMW allows the rider to switch either ABS or TC off independently. The BMW gets high marks for making the most of simple electronics (though we’d just as soon see a manually adjustable shock), and yet that’s not even close to the best part. It’s the balance and poise of the F800GS that impressed on us the desire to keep riding. The engine, frankly, isn’t very inspiring in the dirt either, but the rest of the bike makes up for it—the clutch engagement is precise, the turning radius is terrifically tight, and the bike itself is incredibly narrow in the middle, which makes it easy to stand on the pegs over rough terrain and the tall seat more approachable.

When it comes to MSRP, the BMW also seems surprisingly approachable. The GS-A starts at $13,895 with standard ABS—not bad, especially compared to the Triumph—though essentially every US-bound bike (including our tester) has the $800 premium package installed. That includes off-road ABS, traction control (ASC in BMW speak), heated grips, a centerstand, and a more advanced trip computer. Add the $350 ESA, $100 for that lovely olive green, and a $495 destination charge and you’re out $15,640. More than the Triumph! Based on the rankings, you can see we still stand behind the F800GS-A as a better option than the Triumph when dirt is a high priority. It gives up some touring chops to the Tiger but in our opinion is a more complete and well-rounded option if you have any ambition of exploring the wilderness. While the Beemer displayed excellent composure off road it also showed us that the platform is getting long in the tooth. Aside from Triumph, BMW hasn’t had much competition in this segment, and we think that it’ll take a tour de force in the category for Bavaria to significantly update or redesign the F800GS. www.motorcyclistonline.com

29


MC COMPARO

BMW F800GS Adventure vs. Honda Africa Twin vs. Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

1ST Place HONDA CRF1000L AFRICA TWIN

TOUR

OFF ROAD

TECHNOLOGY

» What if, say, Honda was to build an adventure bike for the modern world? An excellent engine, off-road technology, Dakar styling—the works! Would that be enough to shake Europe into applying some wherewithal to the midsize-ADV ranks? Time will tell because it just so happens the F800GS’s worst nightmare has arrived. First of all, we have to tip our hat to Soichiro’s men for the technology bundled up in this all-new bike. The 998cc parallel twin fires with a 270 crank, thumping along similarly to a Yamaha Super Ténéré, with a dual-spark head and utilizing the Unicam technology from Honda’s motocross bikes that allows four valves per cylinder operated by one lightweight cam. A handful of other engineering items are blended in to 30

MOTORCYCLIST

Honda’s front-brake hardware is ordinary, but software that allows front ABS and the rear to lock is excellent. That “G” button to the right of the dash engages the gravel mode.

the powerplant, too, all designed to make the engine compact and easier to package. The result is a distinctly different feel, even just sitting behind the bar of the Africa Twin. It’s a sensation of sitting in the bike—behind a much taller windshield and on a noticeably lower seat—rather than on it, as you do with the BMW or Triumph. Mass centralization seems to have been on the front burner for the Africa Twin development team. The CRF1000 feels heavy but overall the same size underneath you as an 800-class ADV. (Another reason this

bike felt heavy was probably the extra 23 pounds fitted to our tester in the form of Honda’s optional auto-shifting, Dual Clutch Transmission. More on that in a minute.) On pavement, the Africa Twin is nothing special. Handling is predicable but not inspiring, the aerodynamics are good, and the engine lopes along happily at any speed. It’s a more comfortable tourer than the F800 and has much better aero than the Tiger, but like the BMW it all comes together for the Africa Twin when the going gets rough. Fully adjustable Showa


HONDA AFRICA TWIN

BMW F800GS ADVENTURE

A 24.4 in.

TRIUMPH TIGER 800 XCa

C 11.7 in.

A 27.6 in.

D

°

.6

B 22.1 in.

98

suspension is ready to tackle just about any rock garden or eroded rut and actually seems to delight in skipping over ugly terrain. Where the Tiger 800 rider had to gently maneuver through a gnarled slice of earth, the Africa Twin pilot could throttle up and genuinely attack the same section. These are all big and heavy machines, mind you, and when the Honda finds a slippery surface or gets off balance at low speed, that becomes mightily clear. After whooping and hooting to the top of the first ridge, we had an odd realization about the Africa Twin’s engine, which on the road reminded us very much of Honda’s other practically perfect and endlessly tranquil parallel twins. This pragmatic, torque-rich mantra that Honda has been following for many of its recent engines feels dull sometimes, but for the dirt it’s absolutely perfect. The Africa Twin does not even come close to matching bikes like BMW’s R1200GS or KTM’s 1190 Adventure for raw power, but where those Euro elites can sometimes feel like wild and loose hot rods in the dirt the Honda feels terrific. Power is ultra linear, easy to use, and you never even dream of revving it anywhere near the ceiling. Maybe it’s the way of the future, and Honda is out ahead like it has been so many times in the past. Speaking of which, what about that DCT? From freeway to two-lane blacktop, the dual-clutch technology left us a little cold. It works perfectly but only serves to smooth over a process (shifting) that so many of us have come to enjoy. In the dirt it’s really fun. Contrary to what you might think about auto-shifting, the less confident off-road riders in our test crew found the DCT uninteresting, or even a burden, where the more aggressive and advanced riders gained the most from it. Same goes for the nifty “Gravel” mode that delivers quicker clutch engagement at low speed to put more control in the rider’s hands and the off-road ABS that allows the rear wheel to lock. The four-level traction control works well and bucks convention by being just that— rather than suggestive settings called “rider” or “enduro” there are simply four settings, plus off. The best part about the Africa Twin, and all of the technology it carries, is that Honda created a premium adventure machine but chose not to charge a premium price. A standard CRF1000L starts at $12,999, and our DCT tester’s tag is $13,699. Even when optioned up with a centerstand, power socket, and heated grips to match the BMW and Triumph, it rang in at $14,215. It’s the ADV bike the F800GS could be, for less money. When Honda first unveiled the prototype for this bike it was called simply “True Adventure.” After riding it and testing it, we couldn’t say it better ourselves.

8° 2. 10

1° 0. 10

B 21.9 in.

D

D

B 22.6 in.

C 12.5 in.

C 11.9 in.

A 25.8 in.

A B C D

SEAT TO BAR SEAT TO FOOTPEG HANDLEBAR RISE INCLUDED SEATING ANGLE

The Triumph’s longer reach to the handlebar (A) is noticeable, as is the Honda’s bar feeling taller (C). The Honda’s low seat means the least legroom (B) but not by much.

HEY, WHAT ABOUT THE:

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Strom-troopers of the world will be looking at this test wondering why their beloved flagship 1000 wasn’t included. Well, as we mentioned in the main piece, this was mostly about 21-inch front wheels and off-road prowess. Unfortunately, the V-Strom’s sump, oil filter, and exhaust dangle too dangerously off the bottom of its 90-degree V-twin. If serious off roading is on your docket, you’ll be better served with other bikes. However, for ADV-style sport touring the 1,037cc V-Strom is a delight. Around 90 hp somehow feels like more, and while it doesn’t have the luxury texture of Euro ADVs it delivers great handling and plenty of amenities. The base price is $12,699, which makes it a stellar alternative to the bikes in this test, so long as the trail doesn’t get too rocky.


Off the Record

MC COMPARO BMW F800GS Adventure vs. Honda Africa Twin vs. Triumph Tiger 800 XCa Horsepower 90 80 70 60 50 40 30

BMW: 73.3 HP @ 8000 RPM HONDA: 82.4 HP @ 7500 RPM TRIUMPH: 77.9 HP @ 9100 RPM

20 10 0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

7000

8000

9000

10000

11000

I’ve been watching and riding Honda’s DCT since the beginning. Obviously a key component in Honda’s outreach efforts to expand motorcycling, DCT has—without a ton of fanfare—become very good. With new shift scheduling, additional rider modes, and the benefits of the Africa Twin’s mellow, MARC COOK thoroughly torquey parallel-twin engine, this EDITOR IN CHIEF automatic performs very well in the urban AGE: 52 and suburban environments where most HEIGHT: 5’9” Africa Twins will live. WEIGHT: 190 lb. I really appreciate the additional Sport INSEAM: 32 in. modes, which give the bike your choice of slightly to surprisingly aggressive shift schedules; before it was Drive or Sport, soggy, or just mildly sporty. I’m still pretty traditional in my tastes, so I would buy the conventional transmission, but I wouldn’t try to talk anyone out of this particular DCT.

Torque 70

60

50

40

30

20

BMW: 51.9 LB.-FT. @ 5700 RPM HONDA: 65.6 LB.-FT. @ 5600 RPM TRIUMPH: 48.6 LB.-FT. @ 5600 RPM

10

0 1000

2000

3000

4000

Dyno data (above) shows, in black and white, what happens when an engine is 200cc larger. The Triumph’s triple nearly matches the Honda’s twin, albeit with higher revs. But it’s the Africa Twin’s torque that really won us over.

5000

6000

7000

8000

9000

10000

The idea behind this group of bikes—and the entire philosophy behind the Africa Twin—is usability. These bikes aren’t built to raise the bar in terms of horsepower or any other performance factor. The GS, Tiger, and Africa Twin are designed to be smaller, tamer, and a whole lot more manageable than those big-bore ADVs, ARI HENNING whether you’re riding on road or off. SENIOR ROAD The bike that does best (off road, anyway) TEST EDITOR is the Honda. Riding all three bikes back to AGE: 31 back I was continually impressed with the HEIGHT: 5’10” Africa Twin’s physical balance and its superior WEIGHT: 175 lb. suspension, super-functional off-road ABS, INSEAM: 33 in. and surprisingly useful DCT. The added power is a big benefit too, and, boy, is that 270-degree twin tractable! The Triumph really isn’t suited to off-road exploration, and while the GS is certainly capable in the dirt it’s not nearly as relaxed on the road as the Honda. Africa Twin for the win!

11000

BMW F800GS Adventure

Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin

Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

$13,699

$15,500

PRICE

$14,695

ENGINE

798cc, liquid-cooled parallel-twin

998cc, liquid-cooled parallel-twin

800cc, liquid-cooled inline-triple

BORE X STROKE

82.0 x 75.6mm

92.0 x 70.1mm

74.1 x 61.9mm

COMPRESSION

12.0:0

10.0:1

11.3:1

VALVE TRAIN

DOHC, 8v

SOHC, 8v

DOHC, 12v

FUELING

EFI

EFI, ride by wire

EFI, ride by wire

CLUTCH

Wet, multi-plate

Wet, multi-plate

Wet, multi-plate

TRANS/FINAL DRIVE

6-speed/chain

6-speed/chain

6-speed/chain

FRAME

Tubular-steel trellis

Steel semi-double cradle

Tubular-steel trellis

FRONT SUSPENSION

Sachs 43mm fork; 9.1 in. travel

Showa 45mm fork adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 9.0-in. travel

WP 43mm fork adjustable for compression and rebound damping; 8.6- in. travel

REAR SUSPENSION

Sachs shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping; 8.5-in. travel

Showa shock adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 8.6-in. travel

WP shock with adjustable spring preload and rebound damping; 8.5-in. travel

FRONT BRAKE

Brembo two-piston calipers, 300mm discs with ABS

Nissin four-piston calipers, 310mm discs with ABS

Nissin two-piston calipers, 308mm discs with ABS

REAR BRAKE

Brembo one-piston caliper, 265mm disc with ABS

Nissin two-piston caliper, 256mm disc with ABS

Nissin one-piston caliper, 255 disc with ABS

FRONT TIRE

90/90-21 Pirelli Scorpion Trail

90/90-R21 Dunlop Trailsmart

90/90-21 Bridgestone Battle Wing

REAR TIRE

150/70-R17 Pirelli Scorpion Trail

150/70-R18 Dunlop Trailsmart

150/70-R17 Bridgestone Battle Wing

RAKE/TRAIL

26.0°/4.6 in.

27.3°/4.4 in.

24.3°/3.8 in.

SEAT HEIGHT

35.0 in.

33.5/34.3 in.

33.1/33.9 in.

WHEELBASE

62.1 in.

62.0 in.

60.8 in.

MEASURED WEIGHT

527/489 lb. (tank full/empty)

539/509 lb. (tank full/empty)

592/562 lb. (tank full/empty)

FUEL CAPACITY

6.3 gal.

5.0 gal.

5.0 gal.

FUEL ECONOMY

46/37/42 mpg (high/low/average)

48/45/47 mpg (high/low/average)

43/36/40 mpg (high/low/average)

RANGE

264 mi. (including reserve)

235 mi. (including reserve)

200 mi. (including reserve)

WARRANTY

36 mo., unlimited mi.

12 mo., unlimited mi.

24 mo., unlimited mi.

MORE INFO AT

bmwmotorcycles.com

powersports.honda.com

triumphmotorcycles.com


It starts with us

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MOTORCYCLE · ATV · UTV · SNOWMOBILE · PERSONAL WATERCRAFT

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MANUFACTURED IN THE U.S.A. SINCE 1979

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Girls Gotta Be Girls

A Thousand Motorcycling Women Take Over Joshua Tree National Park

WORDS & PHOTOS: Alicia Mariah Elfving

he Babes Ride Out motto is simple: “No Dudes, No ’Tudes.” There’s a good reason for that, one that has nothing to do with exclusion but everything to do with being a woman motorcyclist. For many women, the idea of rolling solo into a large event comprised mainly of men is daunting. Even the most experienced rider can get a bruised ego dropping her bike in front of buddies, and it’s easy to feel that as a woman you must perform perfectly to avoid judgment. That’s where Babes Ride Out comes in. Three years ago, Anya Violet and Ashmore Bodiford planned an open get-together for their lady rider friends in the Borrego Desert. The event quickly grew into a group of 70 and earned the title “Babes in Borrego.” Soon, Babes Ride Out (BRO) blew up, this year selling

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out all 1,200 tickets more than a week before the event. As the date neared, the Facebook event feed grew with pictures of meticulously packed camping gear loaded up onto all types of bikes. Perfect strangers synced up to become road buddies for their departures all over the country (and continent). Women trekked all the way from Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and France. When I called up my buddy Sofi Tsingos and asked if she wanted to fly out from Texas this year and ride to BRO with me, she quickly said yes. After I picked her up from the airport, I introduced her to the bikes we’d be riding: the modern KTM Duke 390 and the totally retro Yamaha SR400. Sofi had been eyeballing the Baby Duke, as I affectionately call it, and was beyond excited to get to test it out.

We picked up a few extra supplies like a lithium-battery charging system (charge your phone, jump-start your bike), cargo nets, and bungees and tried to figure out how we were going to load the bikes. While it took quite a bit of logistical planning for newbie motorcycle campers like us, we got the perfect amount of gear packed on the bikes. The SR400 ended up being the trusty pack mule with its classic metal tank (great for a tank bag) and flat double seat. The chromed-metal subframe even has little posts for hooking the cargo nets and bungees on so they don’t slip around. The passenger handles on the Duke proved to be well placed for strapping a heavy bag and pillow, all while still fitting Sofi with her backpack. We left later in the day in an attempt to avoid traffic, as she had never lane-split before nor had any


Nothing like rolling into a camp of likeminded riders (above). Music and awards are part of the Saturday program (left). Girls love boots (below) and the special BRO socks given to the first 500 campers.

urge to do so on an unfamiliar bike loaded with camping gear. We still ended up filtering through traffic for a solid 40 miles, our newly installed Bluetooth headsets a big help through the experience. At our last gas stop while we were searching for the exact destination, a couple of ladies walked up to us and said, “So you guys are going to Babes Ride Out?” Perfect timing! We looked at the maps on their phone and took off for the last few miles of our journey. The sun had just gone down as we turned onto the long rolling ribbon of road to the campsite. I started to get really excited. The magnitude of this event finally hit me when we came over the last little hill and saw the sprawling campground. I was standing up on the pegs of the SR bouncing and doing a little jig, yelling, “Sofi! It’s our city. Do you

We wound our way through the busy campground until we found our friends, Jessi Combs and Theresa Manchester, who had very kindly saved us some space for the massive tent I brought. Setting up camp in the dark is never easy, but as we were working with our headlamps and struggling to figure out how to unfurl the pile of material, ladies popped out of nowhere to offer us assistance with lanterns and flashlights. We quickly got it figured out and managed to fit the oversize dome among the sea of overlapping tents spilling into the pathways. Emboldened by the chattering of ladies who went into party mode early, I located some whiskey, unpacked my bed, and wandered toward the sounds of crashing metal, explosions, and engines. Following the booms took me to the main stage area, surrounded by raw wooden fencing, lights, the bar, and a huuuuge food line. A bunch of ladies lay around with Mad Max: Fury Road playing on a huge projector screen. Sofi and I got in line for much-needed food from Madhouse, the same ladies who catered the weekend last year, and traded

movie was over, the party transformed from a big meet and greet to an epic limbo contest followed by arm wrestling. Jessi claimed the champion title for the evening, slaying most ladies who challenged her. Morning brought the sound of bikes roaring alive and the desert heat quickly descended on the campground. Jessi, Theresa, Sofi, and I all found ourselves some $1 coffee at the camp’s mini shop to jumpstart our systems and planned our day. Breakfast in town, riding, photos, more riding, back to camp in time for the evening awards and raffle, where I’d be giving out the Iron Butt trophy I made with the help of a friend Travis Holland. We split to Joshua Tree State Park where the ranger kindly waved us through the fee gate. What a spectacular place. Towers of reddish-brown rocks seemed to shoot out from the earth, surrounded by beautiful Joshua trees and cacti. The magical and ancient landscape is exclusive to that area of the world, making it an extra-cool experience. Deeper into the park I zipped to the front of our group on the little SR400 so I could www.motorcyclistonline.com

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Girls Gotta Be Girls

The SR400 proves to be just the right size for getting dirty and exploring Joshua Tree Park (above). Every style of gear, all sorts of bikes, they all ride together at the quickly growing ladies-only event, creating an even bigger sense of community in motorcycling (left).

find a good place for us to take photos. We turned off the main paved road and headed down a dusty drive, testing the willingness of the little bikes. As it turns out, the Duke 390’s higher stance, light weight, and narrow tires make it a bit slippy through that sort of terrain. The SR held its own even with street tires, perhaps because of the extra weight making it feel more stable. After some burnouts and shenanigans, we headed back to asphalt where we were constantly coming across groups of other lady riders—a totally surreal experience. For every car you’d see 10 bikes, and 99 percent of them were ridden by women. Sofi was happy to get off the dirt and cracked the little Duke’s throttle open, finally at the front of the pack and unencumbered by gear loaded on the rear seat. She took off, and I followed. Baby Duke was better suited for spirited riding, with a snappier throttle and better suspension than the little Yamaha. The SR400 is essentially a motorcycle from the 36

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1970s, manufactured new today. Chasing Sofi took me ringing the throttle and letting the revs rip, but I was smiling so big my face hurt. It’s hard to find a group of people you feel so fluid on the road with. Later, back at camp, beer and booze busted out, we gobbled up amazing (free) pizza provided by Pie for the People, grooved to funky beats from lady DJs, and awaited the raffle. I was summoned to stage to give out the long-distance Iron Butt award that would kick off the raffle. The crowd was huge and full of smiling women who rode from near and far. We narrowed it down to those who rode more than 2,000 miles, landing on a pair from the very southernmost part of Florida— Julia and Angela. On their way across the country they stopped in Louisiana, Missouri, and Oklahoma, making their trip more than 3,000 miles in total…one way. On their way through the country they detoured, meeting up with other women they knew through Instagram. The seven

of them documented their adventure and nicknamed the group the Hail Boms. And perfectly reflecting the ideals behind the BRO, Julia, who had technically ridden the longest, shared the Iron Butt award booty with her original riding buddy Angela. A DJ took over the tunes when live music was over, but by 4 a.m. Jessi and I were the last of our little cluster left standing so we finally retired under a full moon surrounded by a glowing halo. Finally, the next day, it was time to go home. Opting to take the long way back, we headed northwest through the twistier mountain roadways and stopped for lunch in Big Bear. Some shopping for extra sweater layers and souvenirs later, we were back on the road toward Los Angeles. With our Bluetooth headset communicators all charged up, Sofi and I were able to chat back and forth about the incredible weekend and how it was all still sinking in. BRO was the coalescence of everything I love about motorcycling in one short weekend—enjoying the part of ourselves that we all have in common despite our ages or personal styles. While some folks thought it a little crazy to take the little bikes out into the desert for motorcycle camping, Sofi and I would both do it again in a heartbeat. The SR was comfortable and blended in well among the many motorcycles of Babes Ride Out. And as far as Sofi’s love affair with the wee Baby Duke, the last thing she said before giving it up was, “I’m definitely going to have to buy one of those.”


Can you keep up with Ari?

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YAMAHA

JT-1 MINI ENDURO

One of 1971â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Amazing Freedom Machines WORDS: Mitch Boehm

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PHOTOS: Kevin Wing


he year 1971 was a doozy on entertainment and historical fronts. All in the Family debuted on CBS. Led Zeppelin played “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time to a live audience. George Harrison released “My Sweet Lord.” And Apollo 14 got back on the moon after Apollo 13’s near-debacle. Motorcyclists had plenty to be excited about in ’71 as well. Bruce Brown’s moto documentary On Any Sunday, starring Steve McQueen, Mert Lawwill, and SoCal racer Malcolm Smith, opened to rave reviews nationally and garnered an Oscar nomination. But it was motorcycling’s kids who let out the biggest whoops of joy that year because in ’71 no fewer than four amazing new minicycles were introduced: Honda’s SL70 Motosport, Rupp’s Black Widow, Suzuki’s MT50 Trailhopper, and Yamaha’s JT-1, also known as the Mini Enduro. The term minicycle raises few eyebrows today, but in ’71 it was a fresh idea. The vast majority of minis prior to that point, aside from some funky Benellis and the ubiquitous Honda Z50 of ’68, were exactly what most baby boomers conjure when they hear the word minibike: a tube- and rigid-framed two wheeler with small, squared-off tires, a rear-tire-friction rear brake, truly evil handling, and motive power by either Briggs & Stratton or Tecumseh. No one complained about these things at the time, but no one knew better either. Those four new minis were different, especially the SL70 and Mini Enduro, which were 3/5-scale versions of the SL175 and SL350 and the now legendary 250cc DT-1 of ’68. These were real motorcycles, shrunk in size for the little ones, that fired the imaginations of millions of boomer-aged kids like nothing imaginable. A red SL70 was this author’s very first motorcycle, and it led directly to a lifetime of two-wheeled fun and employment. Sales of these minis skyrocketed overnight and sucked millions of kids into motorcycling’s maw along the way. Launched at the 1970 Yamaha dealer meeting, the Mini Enduro was an instant sensation. “I introduced the thing to dealers by carrying it out onto the stage,” says AMA Hall of Fame inductee and longtime product-planning guru Ed Burke. “Dealers knew instantly what it was all about, just by seeing it. I have to say, it was probably the easiest development project I was ever involved in. The engineers in Japan seemed to know exactly what we were going to ask for in those days, and they seemed to have that little thing ready to go right when we asked for a miniature version! “There was no mystery to what it needed to be,” Burke adds. “A small DT-1, really, it having

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Throwback Our December ’70 issue covered the all-new Mini Enduro’s release, while kid-friendly ads appeared throughout ’71. Dealers

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“Even today, in the face of advanced, ultra-modern minibikes, the JT-1 looks near-perfect—handsome, athletic, purposeful, and well proportioned.” Behind that engine cover sits a 16mm carburetor and rotary valve assembly, which helped the 58cc two-stroke make 4.5 hp. JT-1s were quiet and slow stock but woke up nicely with typical hot-rodding.

become the dual-purpose machine by that point. We just kept building them smaller and smaller, and when we finally got to the minibike, everyone knew it would be a huge hit. And, boy, was it ever!” Even today, in the face of advanced, ultra-modern minibikes, the JT-1 looks near-perfect—handsome, athletic, purposeful, well proportioned—and was stunningly transformative for baby boomers, which is why they’re restored, collected, ridden, and displayed in garage rafters and living rooms by aging boomers everywhere. “While vacationing in Northern California several years ago, I found a restored JT-1—my first real motorcycle—on eBay,” remembers longtime Motorcyclist photographer Kevin Wing. “It was not cheap, but it was perfect and local, 40

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too, and within a few minutes I’d bought it. I couldn’t help myself. I had to have it!” The Mini Enduro was not a technical tour de force. Its 58cc rotary-valve twostroke single, fed by a tiny, 16mm Mikuni and lubricated by a no-fuss Autolube system, made very little power. But it was durable and reliable, and even after a long winter’s nap in the Midwest and northern tier of the country, they fired right up come springtime. (Try that nowadays.) The suspension was a bit flaccid for larger kids thanks to el-cheapo shocks and a fork assembly with just one spring in one fork leg. But 60-pound Jeff Ward, who Cycle magazine had evaluate the JT-1 for its October 1970 road test, seemed happy with the suspension. “He liked the way the bike absorbed the jolts before they could get to his backside,” Cycle wrote.

Overall, the JT-1 was balanced and handled quite well, and kids didn’t really care much about ride quality anyway; all they knew was that the thing was more fun and freedom-generating than anything else in their lives. And at less than $300, the JT-1 was affordable, and parents—many of them DT-1 owners— bought them by the bucket-load. “It was just a crazy time,” Burke remembers. “JT-1s would come three to a crate, and dealers would buy 60 at a time. They’d tell us, ‘We can’t assemble ’em fast enough to keep ’em on the floor!’ Back then, there were so many places to ride, and the trail and riding-area closings hadn’t begun yet. Motorcycles were everywhere, and everyone seemed to be riding. One dealer in a little town called Sissonville, West Virginia, sold some 3,000 dual-sport Yamahas for us one year—DT-1s, AT-1s, and, of course, Mini Enduros. Amazing! It was a great time to be involved, and it highlighted how big motorcycling was in the early 1970s.” Racing legend Jeff Ward rode and raced a Mini Enduro for a while, as did AMA National and Supercross Champion David Bailey. “The Mini Enduro was the first bike I ever rode,” Bailey remembers. “It was my stepdad Gary’s pitbike, and I just got attached to the thing. When I started racing it, Gary painted it to look like a Pursang, as he was racing Bultacos at the time; we called our JT-1 the YamaTaco!” A lot of Mini Enduros were ridden into the ground in stock condition over the years, but many were also modified, most of those for racing. Larger carburetors, high-compression heads, special exhaust pipes, big-bore kits, and modified rotary valves gave them considerably more


The coolest part of the Mini Enduro experience for kids was having a bike that looked just like the bigger Yamahas or Dad’s DT-1. AMA motocross champion David Bailey (right) at speed aboard his dad Gary’s JT-1 pitbike/racer.

power. They were pretty competitive for a couple of years with the heavier SL70 four-strokes, though all that ended once the XR75 and YZ80 appeared in ’73 and ’74, respectively. “We helped ourselves a little by supporting a lot of minibike racing at the time,” Burke remembers. “We supported events at Indian Dunes and Escape Country.” Cycle’s October 1970 test summarized the Mini Enduro pretty well: “Yamaha hit the nail on the head with the new baby Enduro. It’s better than a bicycle because you don’t have to pedal it; it’s better than most minibikes because it has real suspension units and a real transmission and the stability which comes from almost-full-sized wheels and tires; and it’s different from almost all minibikes in that it looks like a real motorcycle. The Mini is scheduled for release in October, just two months this side of Christmas. Yamaha even has the timing down cold.” “I’d grown up on my brother’s handme-down JT-1,” remembers Wing, who still owns the bike photographed for this story, “and it’s amazing to have one just like it in the garage, especially with my old Indian Dunes number on the number plates. Every time I walk by it I’m only two kicks away from hearing that memorable sound, seeing the white puff of smoke, and smelling that burned two-stroke oil. When I do that, I’m instantly eight years old again.”

Yamaha wasn’t alone in the mini uprising of the early 1970s. Honda’s SL70 Motosport (right) and Suzuki’s MT50 Trailhopper (above) also debuted for ’71 and lit up kids’ imaginations just as the JT-1 did.


Back to School

MOTOMARK ADVENTURE

MOTORCYCLE TRAINING TOUR Do This Before You Take Your ADV Bike Off Road WORDS: Ken Condon / PHOTOS: Wayne Busch, Ken Condon

ual-sport riding and the adventure-bike market are big these days. Even if you have no Boorman/McGregor ambitions, dualsport bikes can expand your horizons to include both pavement and dirt roads into a single outing. Not only that but learning to ride off road is a great way to round out your skill set. Most adventure/dual-sport riders are transplants from the ranks of pavement dwellers. The problem is that many of these hardtop riders ďŹ nd themselves on their head during early off-road excursions with no clue as to why they ended up that way. What they failed to learn is that some street-riding techniques do not work on low-traction terrain. The good news is that you can reduce the risk of being battered, bruised, and broken with some relatively basic training.

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In the last several years the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) began offering Dirt Bike School courses for both new and experienced riders. While these courses are great, the basic curriculum, easy training site terrain, and the small dirt bikes typically provided won’t fully prepare you for real-world roads and trails on a bigger dual-sport machine. To see what more advanced training looks like I headed to North Carolina to attend the Adventure Motorcycle Training Tour offered by MotoMark1 (motomark1. com). The bulk of MotoMark1’s courses are for street riders, including advanced parking-lot courses, on-street training (featuring Stayin’ Safe) and motor-cop certification. Owner Mark Brown has a long résumé of moto-credentials, including retired police motor instructor for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. The two-day course is designed for riders who want expert guidance in handling their full-size dual-sport machines. I consider myself an intermediate dirt rider, but I have little experience on big ADV bikes. The experience of other trainees attending the weekend course ranged from an eager novice to a fellow who has ridden off road on multiple continents. The course itself consists of classroom sessions, parking-lot drills, and two full days riding on miles of paved and unpaved roads in and around the southwestern end of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Real-time coaching is piped into our helmets by means of one-way radios. Mark deftly narrates his thought process for managing all types of riding scenarios while reinforcing concepts that are discussed in the

classroom and in the parking lot. Our weekend starts early on Saturday with an introductory classroom session followed by a demonstration of proper on- and off-road body positioning. Any street rider planning to venture off road must learn how to counterweight. On the street you lean your body toward the inside of a curve, but try that pavement technique while cornering on loose surfaces and you’ll likely lose traction. Counterweighting keeps a vertical load on the tires, allowing the bike to lean and turn on loose surfaces without losing traction. Another technique that facilitates control is standing on the pegs. Standing helps the suspension absorb bumps and keeps the machine in balance as it bounces over rocks. Combining standing with counterweighting aids maneuverability and balance by letting the bike move independently underneath you. Static drills in the hotel parking lot allow us to practice standing and counterweighting. After this session we fire up our bikes and ride to a cone-riddled parking lot to practice counterweighting and standing techniques in preparation for the upcoming dirt ride. Mark uses the radios to coach clutch control, forward vision, and counterweighting while we follow single file. As usual, getting to the dirt roads requires some pavement miles. Mark takes this opportunity to describe strategies for managing traffic and predicting potential road hazards. Much of this on-road coaching is part of the on-street courses MotoMark1 offers. With great anticipation, we turn onto the first of many remote dirt roads we will be riding over the weekend. Before we leave the security of asphalt, Mark reminds us to switch our minds from “sit-down

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Back to School

street mode” to “stand-up dirt mode” and to establish a wide forward view and balanced neutral standing position. We tunnel through autumn forests for the rest of the morning, navigating gravel bends and switchbacks that provide ample opportunity to build off-road confidence. We refuel our bodies at a local eatery while Instructor Steve holds a short course on what tools and first-aid materials we should consider when heading into the wild; items can mean the difference between a bad day and a really, really bad day. Bellies full, we point our bikes toward more of North Carolina’s semi-remote dirt roads. After several miles, we break to watch instructor Todd demonstrate front, rear, and combination braking with and without ABS. Todd also shows how to manage load transfer and traction using a stand-up approach and then transitioning to a rearward sit-down position as load shifts forward. After the demo, each student gets a chance to practice threshold braking. With the daylight nearly gone we head back to the hotel. But the training day isn’t over. We reconvene in the classroom after dinner for more coaching and to watch some onboard video of each student—a fun and effective coaching tool. With stars shining, we then head out for a nocturnal ride into the nearby woods to learn about identifying hazards in the dark. A 44 MOTORCYCLIST

Students practice weight-transfer techniques on pavement before putting the skills to use in the dirt (top). Author Ken Condon (bottom left) and his fellow Adventure Motorcycle Training Tour classmates pose for a roadside group photo after discussing first-aid necessities (above).

trailside demo allows us to compare each of our bike’s headlights and witness the effectiveness of auxiliary LED lighting. In case you don’t already know: LEDs rock! A brief classroom session starts day two followed by a twisty pavement ride up and over the famous Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to our next overnight stop at the awesome Ironhorse Motorcycle Resort just south of the Great Smoky Mountains. Arriving at Ironhorse, we unload some of our cargo and then head out for lunch in Robbinsville, North Carolina, before tackling the most challenging terrain so far. The after-lunch route begins with some tight, twisty, tree-lined rural pavement

in the Nantahala Forest. Mark narrates strategies for managing blind corners and hidden hazards, including locals who treat the centerline as a mere suggestion. We make a brief stop along the way to discuss tactics for managing water crossings, but national park rules prohibit us from actually crossing the creek. Then comes Little Snowbird Road, an epic dirt road that begins with a tight uphill switchback followed immediately by a steep, rocky, mile-long ascent. My borrowed XR650L “cheater bike” handles the terrain with relative ease, while others struggle with their much larger KLR, Tiger, and GS ADV bikes. To my


surprise, everybody arrives at the top on two wheels. Booyah! The climb was the toughest trial of the weekend, but there are more challenges to come in the form of a tricky descent with tight switchbacks covered with loose dirt and gravel. Before we begin our descent, I ask a fellow student if he wants to switch bikes—my XR for his 2015 Suzuki V-Strom 1000. My logic for the swap is to learn just how capable (or not) the Mega-Strom is at handling dirt and rocks. It turns out the V-Strom does much better ascending rough terrain than it does descending on loose dirt. It takes a lot of work to keep the pseudo dual-sport front tire from tucking as it plows from one tight downhill curve to the next. Thankfully, the Strom has a one-piece tubular handlebar and a nicely shaped tank to allow full stand-up maneuvering. And the skills I picked up from the course helped keep me relaxed, one of the key elements for off-road success. With dirt in my teeth and sweat on my brow, we finish the day with a scenic pavement ride back to the Ironhorse Resort. MotoMark1 provides lodging at the resort for this third night as well as a morning breakfast to ensure everyone is properly rested before heading home the next day. If you’ve never visited the Ironhorse Resort, you really must. John and Charlene created a top-notch motorcycle destination that is located in the heart of the most thrilling motorcycle roads on the east coast and very near Deals Gap. MotoMark1’s course combines dualsport training with a guided tour of some awesome paved and dirt roads. You’ll learn ways to control your big bike on sketchy surfaces and become aware of hazards unique to off-road riding. While we tackled some fairly difficult terrain and discussed some advanced techniques, the AMTT curriculum is targeted mostly toward advanced beginners and intermediate-level riders. You’ll need to look elsewhere if you want to refine more advanced techniques like rearwheel steering, brake turning, traversing hills, and surmounting rocks and logs. The Adventure Motorcycle Training Tour offers a lot of substance with three nights of lodging, multiple classroom sessions, a nighttime ride, real-time coaching with radio communication, and a guided tour of many off-road gems with multiple instructors on hand. While the $1,395 tuition isn’t cheap, it is a good value and a smart investment of time and money because not being trained is even more expensive, and it hurts.

The Adventure Motorcycle Training Tour combines hands-on instruction (above) as well as classroom lessons (right). North Carolina’s semiremote gravel roads provide plenty of opportunity to practice our newfound off-road skills (below).


WORDS: Ari

Henning

SUMMER TRAVEL NELSON-RIGG COMPRESSION BAGS

Dunlop Trailsmart tires

It turns out that squeezing all the air out of your clothes saves a lot of space in your panniers! Nelson-Rigg offers compression bags in three sizes (10, 20, and 35 liters) starting at $13. Stuff the sack and yank on the straps to concentrate and consolidate your gear and gain a little extra cargo space.

If you’ll be stacking on the miles this summer you’ll likely need to spoon on some fresh rubber. The new Trailsmarts are designed for today’s big ADVs, with long-wearing rubber compounds and deep tread that should support the occasional off-road excursion. Pricing ranges from $166 to $261, depending on size.

Stave off sweaty palms with a pair of Held’s $120 Sambia gloves. They’re highly breathable and pretty protective with leather, plastic armor, and SuperFabric in high-impact areas. Perforated fingers and various vents keep air flowing through the glove while you ride so you stay cool and comfortable.

nelsonrigg.com

dunlopmotorcycletires.com

schuberthnorthamerica.com

GIANT LOOP PRONGHORN STRAPS If you’ve grown tired of tying knots or scratching your bike’s paint with bungee-cord hooks, check out Giant Loop’s Pronghorn straps. These versatile cargo straps are a traveler’s best friend and perfect for securing all sorts of stuff to your bike. They’re available in various lengths in packs of two starting at $16 a set.

giantloopmoto.com

HELD SAMBIA GLOVES

MAUI JIM SUNGLASSES Packability is key for motorcyclists with limited storage space, so sunglasses that fold up are a great fit for riders. Maui Jim’s Stillwater sunglasses fold once, twice, and then a third time so they’re only as big as one of the polarized glass lenses. The Stillwaters are dear at $329, but similar designs are available for far less.

mauijim.com DOWCO FASTRAX BACKROADS TAIL BAG Traveling light? Then the redesigned Fastrax Backroads tail bag might be all you need. It straps to the tail of just about any bike and expands to 28 liters to accommodate the overnight essentials. It comes with a rain cover, shoulder sling, a dry bag that secures to the top of the pack, and a lifetime warranty, all for $119.

JULIA LAPALME

dowcopowersports.com

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MOTOCHIC LAUREN BAG

MotoChic Lauren Bag PRICE: CONTACT:

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$325

motochicgear.com

The quality and style of a highend shoulder bag, made functional enough for a motorcyclist.

As a female motorcyclist, I am often caught between the need to be practical and the desire to be stylish. Lucky for me, MotoChic has created a bag designed specifically for ladies on bikes. Enter the Lauren bag, named after model, actress, and motorcyclist Lauren Hutton. This shoulder bag converts to a backpack, or vice versa, making it a great fit for ladies on the go. The exterior design is sleek and stylish enough for a business meeting, with a quilted leather inset down the center face that’s flanked in reflective material for better nighttime visibility. Converting the Lauren from a backpack to a shoulder bag takes less than a minute. The shoulder straps are tucked away in a zippered pouch and clip to metal rings at the bottom of the bag. The padded shoulder straps are also fitted with an adjustable chest strap, which can slide up or down, depending where you want the strap to cross your chest. With the chest strap situated right across my sternum, in the lowest placement setting, it felt like this particular feature was designed for very petite women. The Lauren will hold 15 liters of whatever you like, and has plenty of useful pockets. There’s also a rain cover tucked into a compartment in the base of the bag. Great for wet weather, but stuffing the cover into the bottom means the bag itself doesn’t have a flat base to sit on. Moving the rain fly to the compartment that holds the backpack straps was an easy fix. All in all, this backpack has been very well thought out and engineered. The more I use it the more I find helpful features, all clearly designed with a female rider in mind. I don’t know if any other backpack out there can say that. —Julia LaPalme

JULIA LAPALME

VENTZ COOLING SYSTEM Have you ever unzipped the cuff of your jacket just a bit on a really hot day to let fresh, soothing air up your sleeve? I did this one time and a bee flew up my sleeve and stung me. Not my proudest moment on two wheels. Whether or not that happened to British rider Martin Warren isn’t clear, but after a sweaty ride in Southern France he designed Ventz and was soon manufacturing these little rubberand-plastic portals that clip to the end of your jacket and let air rush in to the rescue. The concept is simple, though it relies on some specific scenarios to work properly. One, there needs to be room in your cuff for another piece of material (those of us with scrawny wrists won’t have a problem). Two, your riding position needs to be such that the Ventz are being hit with strong wind—sometimes that meant flipping them to the underside of the cuff. The last issue was that I try to wear jackets that fit Ventz Cooling System snugly around my arms so that armor cannot rotate in the case of a crash. If the arms fit properly, the Ventz PRICE: $22 don’t work nearly as well because the air has nowhere CONTACT: ventz-range.com to go. However, they are handy, easy to pack, inexpenA cool idea but not sive, and they come in six colors. Plus, the mesh at the quite as awesome front is likely to keep bees out. Always a good thing. as we were hoping.

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—Zack Courts www.motorcyclistonline.com

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A COMPLETE GUIDE TO LIVING WITH YOUR MOTORCYCLE

JULIA LAPALME

PRACTICALITIES

THE LOWDOWN ON ENGINE OIL PART I: Viscosity and Service Grades From the saddle you’d never imagine the violence occurring inside your engine cases as your cruise down the road. There is a dizzying number of parts spinning and reciprocating inside your motor—some of them at hundreds of times per second. And all those components rely on a pitifully thin film of oil to keep them from turning to slag and bringing the whole mess to a screeching halt. Oil is your engine’s lifeblood. Not only does it keep things spinning smoothly, but it also cools the transmission and pistons, helps the piston rings seal combustion pressure into the head, and even serves to neutralize nasty chemicals that are created after the air/fuel charge goes bang. There’s a lot more to engine oil than just slipperiness, so in this and the following installment of MC Garage we’re going to dive deep into the subject. The first thing most folks think about when they consider oil is its viscosity. 48

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Viscosity refers to the oil’s thickness— the higher the rating, say 50 weight, the heavier or more viscous the oil is. Viscosity is a critical factor in how well the oil flows and how much protection it offers. Modern multi-viscosity oils are kind of magical. They provide the right flow characteristics and lubrication across a wide range of temperatures, from frosty fall mornings to scorching-hot summer afternoons. The “W” following the first number in 15W-50 stands for winter, not weight, and is a measure of the fluid’s flow rate at a seriously low temperature of -15 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. So at sub-zero temps, 15W-50 will flow no slower than a 15-weight oil. This cold-weather behavior is critical to cranking speed and how readily the oil will flow during initial startup in cold climates, though obviously it’s more relevant to automobile drivers than to motorcyclists. After all, who’s crazy

enough to go for a ride when it’s below zero out? The second number in 15W-50 represents the oil’s high-temperature viscosity, as measured at a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. For 15W-50, that means the oil will be no thinner than a 50-weight oil at operating temperature. More viscous oil provides a thicker film and better protects parts during normal operation. Your motorcycle’s manufacturer knows what viscosity range will meet the motor’s needs, so it’s important to abide by its recommendation. How does a fluid defy the basic laws of physics and thicken when heated? Chemists mix in viscosity index improvers (VII) that expand and elongate when hot, thereby increasing the oil’s viscosity. So to create a 15W-50 oil a manufacturer would start with a 15-weight oil and stir in enough VII to make it thicken to 50-weight once hot. There’s both art and science in choosing the correct mix of


performance and equipment harm.” That admonishment extends to SD-classified oils as well. Most motorcycle manufacturers call for an SG rating (introduced in 1995) or higher, so always look for the latest designation when buying oil. Traditionally motorcycles used oil designed for automobiles, but as fuel efficiency demands for cars increased, friction modifiers have been added to the oil package. Certain kinds of friction modifiers, however, are great for cars and light trucks but can cause clutch slip in motorcycles. Recognizing that certain oils were causing issues for motorcyclists, the JASO stepped up and introduced two standards for motorcycle oils based on the SAE’s (Society of Automotive Engineers) Clutch Friction Test: MA for bikes with wet clutches and MB for bikes with automatic transmissions. If your bike has a wet

“Modern multi-viscosity oils are kind of magical. They provide the right flow characteristics and lubrication across a wide range of temperatures, from frosty fall mornings to scorching-hot summer afternoons.” categorized as mineral oil or conventional oil. If the base stock is synthesized in a lab, you’ve got synthetic oil. There are some pretty striking differences between mineral and synthetic oil, but that discussion will have to wait until the next issue. Take a look in your owner’s manual and you’ll find a recommendation for an API (American Petroleum Institute) service type and a JASO (Japanese Automotive Standards Organization) standard. These little letter codes might seem insignificant, but you don’t want to ignore them. The API classification refers to the automobile model years the oil was designed to work on. It speaks to things like lubrication properties, detergent properties, and other factors and gets updated every few years. All API classifications for gasoline engines start with an S, followed by the letter A through the current N standard. Buy an SA-service oil (not hard to find at gas stations and discount stores) and you’ll be running your engine on oil that the API warns “may cause unsatisfactory

clutch you’ll want to make sure you see that motorcycle-specific MA classification. Conversely, you want to steer clear of MB oils and any oil that’s labeled as “energy conserving” since both blends will contain problematic friction modifiers. It’s possible to find automotive oil with the appropriate API service type and viscosity range in a non-energyconserving formulation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s appropriate for use in your bike. There are some key differences between motorcycle engines and car engines, most notably the fact that motorcycles have shared sumps. The meat grinder that is the transmission is tough on the viscosity index modifiers and calls for high-pressure and anti-wear additives that aren’t part of the normal automotive-oil package. Add to that the fact that motorcycle engines make more power per liter, spin faster, and run hotter than car engines and it’s pretty clear that picking motorcycle-specific oil is important. —Ari Henning

SPENSER ROBERT

modifiers, so the oil is equally competent when cold as when hot. Viscosity index improvers are just one of many high-tech additives that get stirred into each bottle of oil. Besides the VII there are detergents and dispersants; detergents do a little light cleaning while the dispersants hold the junk in suspension so it cannot be redeposited in the engine. Plus there are buffers that neutralize acids, sacrificial lubricants that serve as a last-ditch barrier between metal-to-metal contact, solvents to break up impurities, and corrosion inhibitors. These additives make up about 20 to 25 percent of the content in each bottle of oil. That’s right—only about 80 to 75 percent of each liter is actually oil, known in the industry as base stock. If the base stock is refined from crude oil that’s pumped out of the ground then the finished product is

WHY CHANGE THE OIL?

Pressing the Reset Button on All Those Critical Additives

We all know that regular oil and filter changes are the best way to keep our engines happy, but why does oil need to be changed in the first place? “It gets dirty” is the simple answer (and true to some degree—soot from the combustion process blasts past the piston rings and clouds the oil), but there’s a bit more to it than that. Remember those magical viscosity index improvers that allow a 15-weight oil to thicken to 50-weight once hot? Those fancy molecules are fairly fragile and tend to get chopped up in the transmission as the miles stack up, leading to viscosity breakdown and insufficient lubrication. Other additives get worn out and used up too. And while the base oil itself is extremely durable and will last for thousands and thousands of miles, it’s important to change the engine oil in order to press the reset button on all those critical additives.

Next month: The pros and cons of mineral oil and synthetic oil, what to use for engine break-in, and used-oil analysis.

www.motorcyclistonline.com

49


STREET SAVVY KEN CONDON

@40 mph Total stopping distance: approximately 177 ft.

AVERAGE RIDER

@60 mph Total stopping distance: approximately 332 ft. RICH LEE

AVERAGE RIDER

REACTION TIME You’re riding along minding your own business when suddenly you’re facing the bumper of a left-turning SUV. Every cell commands you to get the motorcycle stopped ASAP to prevent your early demise. But will your response be quick enough? It’s a good thing we’re hardwired to respond immediately to threats, but too often our synapses don’t fire fast enough for a quick and effective response. Thankfully, there are ways to help make sure you aren’t a victim of “too little too late.” There are actually two components of reaction time: “perception time” and “activation time.” Perception time is the time it takes to figure out what’s going on and decide what action to take. Activation time is the time it takes to reach for the brakes. You also have to account for the amount of time it takes to actually get the bike stopped. Let’s say you’re traveling at 40 mph, which is about 56 feet per second. A reasonably attentive rider will typically use about one second of “thinking” time to perceive the situation and begin applying the brakes. Add at least 0.5 second or more if you’re daydreaming. That equates to between 56 and 84 feet before any physical action is taken. The actual time it takes to stop the motorcycle depends on your bike’s weight, 50 MOTORCYCLIST

travel speed, and available traction, as well as the efficiency of your brain-to-muscle communication and your ability to use all of your brakes’ potential without skidding (ABS helps in this regard). From 40 mph a typical rider will need somewhere between 100 and 125 feet to get the bike stopped, depending on ability. Add perception, activation, and braking distances together and you could need up to 200 feet to stop. With perception time adding nearly 50 percent to the total stopping distance, you can see why it’s so important to remain alert. You also want to develop your ability to predict when bad things are about to happen before they unfold. Get ahead of sketchy situations by aggressively scanning for clues that indicate trouble. Be especially vigilant when approaching intersections, where most collisions occur. You can reduce activation time by covering the front brake lever and rear brake pedal when approaching potential hot spots. Not only will this simple action reduce activation time, but it also puts your whole system on alert. Of course, the best way to reduce braking distances is to slow down. Trimming just 5 mph off your 40-mph travel speed requires about 20 fewer feet to stop. Add 5 mph and you’ll need about 25 more

feet to stop. Speed up to 60 mph and you’re going to need nearly twice the stopping distance as you would from 40 mph. Hard braking when the bike is upright is tricky enough when facing an emergency. But things get even more challenging when you have to stop quickly while leaned because of a hazard around a corner. Perception, activation, and braking time still apply, but now you also need to add time to reduce lean angle. You reduce lean angle to free up traction that’s being used for cornering so you can brake hard with less chance of traction loss. This necessary action adds to total stopping distance. Machines with cornering ABS offer a distinct advantage here where you can brake hard while maintaining lean angle. Whether or not you avoid a crash is dependent on your ability to react quickly when an otherwise sublime day suddenly turns into a DEFCON 1 war zone. The best riders remain alert and ready for battle and waste very little processing time before executing evasive action. They also cover the brakes to reduce activation time when approaching intersections. The final step is to regularly practice emergency braking techniques. Can you stop your motorcycle in the shortest possible distance while maintaining control? Too many riders can’t.


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WHAT ARE YOU

CARRYING?

Every rider deserves to carry a great pocketknife.

GARAGE

ANSWERS

,W·VDQHVVHQWLDOWRRO,I\RX·UHOLNHPRVWRIXV\RX·G SUHIHUWRFDUU\$PHULFDQ³LILWZRUNVLQWKHEXGJHW 1RZLWGRHV1RZ\RXFDQRZQDPDGHLQWKH86$ .HUVKDZDWDSULFHMXVWDERXWDQ\RQHFDQDIIRUG &KHFNRXWWKHQHZ/LQNPRGHOVDQGJHWDORW RINQLIHIRUDOLWWOHSULFH

Enough Alone A friend of mine who is a new rider just bought a 2015 Kawasaki Versys 650. So far he loves the bike. Just after the ďŹ rst service, though, talk around the dealership was that he should change the fueling by putting a Power Commander or something on the bike. They say that the Versys runs too lean and that it could run a lot better with some help. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not so certain. MADE IN USA

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Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s true that modern bikes run on the lean side of the air/fuel mixture spectrum to help meet emissions. In fact, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been that way for decades, but the difference now is that manufacturers rely on catalytic converters and oxygen sensors to get to that goal of low emissions without making the bike run poorly. A cat-con burns whatever hydrocarbons donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get consumed in the engine, while the O2 sensor allows the fuel injection to quickly adjust, in real time, to various riding conditions. But the real issue is to determine if thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a real issue. Does your friendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Versys stumble or surge or run too hot? Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll notice stumbling just as you pick up the throttle. If the engine gasps or hesitates in this transition from off throttle to on, it could be too lean. Surging: If you hold the throttle steady at any given speed, does the bike want to rhythmically speed up and slow down? Does the coolant temperature

run above 200 degrees Fahrenheit in stopand-go trafďŹ c? If his Versys is like all the ones weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve tested recently, the answer is probably no to all. Exceptions? When you modify in a way that could change the airďŹ&#x201A;ow through the engineâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a high-ďŹ&#x201A;ow air ďŹ lter element or a full exhaust system, for example. At that point, the stock injection computer might run out of its range during closed-loop runningâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;this is where itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s watching the O2 sensor and tuning on the ďŹ&#x201A;yâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and will probably not be ideal at engine speeds and loads where the ECU goes into openloop mode. Bottom line: If your friendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Versys is running well in the stock conďŹ guration, leave it stock. Your Turn! We know you have a question youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re just dying to ask, so send it to us already at: mcmail@bonniercorp.com


RETAIL CONFIDENTIAL

WHAT’S YOUR TYPE? While I’ve found that every customer is truly different, it’s possible to separate them into clear categories by their actions. Some fall into a certain type because that’s the way they’re wired, while some react to outside influences to display a definable kind of behavior. Here are the most common. Which one are you?

there’s the small matter of making a decision. As JEFF analytical as the mind can MADDOX be, picking one bike over the other can be the hardest decision you make. My advice? Don’t overthink it. Go with your gut. Don’t talk yourself out of the bike you’re leaning toward.

MR. DECISIVE. You have done your homework, know exactly what you want, and the final price isn’t going to make or break the deal. Your trade-in is usually well kept, and there are few hiccups during the sales process. “Seamless” is a great way to describe you as a buyer. We work very hard to make you happy because you’re the type of buyer who makes our work a joy.

THE NEGOTIATOR. I get it. You’re shopping other dealerships, you want the best deal, and whoever gives you the bargain of the century will make the sale. To answer your questions: I can’t throw everything in. I can budge a little on price, but I can’t take $3,000 off the sticker. And, yes, I want to sell you a motorcycle. My best cash price out the door? That’s my cue

BIG SPENDER. Not to be confused with Mr. Decisive, you also know what you’re looking for and have done your homework. But at some time during the sales process it’s apparent we’re talking above your price point. We might run the numbers and put the deal together per your request, but you quickly find out that most no-money-down deals on a $15,000 motorcycle won’t hit the magical $125-a-month mark that you have in mind. I can make it work, but it will require a large down payment or a trade-in with equity. This deal will typically dissolve right before my eyes but not after a lot of bouncing back and forth. BE-BACK, A.K.A. SASQUATCH. The twisty road we ride is often paved with good intentions. Whether it comes down to Partner Sasquatch offering a resounding “No!” to the deal or whether it’s common sense and cold feet, you walk out the door and we never see you again, leaving us with nothing more than some really large plaster footprints to remember you by. This deal can get as far as prepping the bike and completing all documents awaiting your signature, and then you’re a no-show. But I heard you were sighted along the wooded area down by the river. THE UNDECIDED. You’re all about the research. You have the specs memorized and seem to have a handle on the strengths and weaknesses—it almost sounds like you’re selling the bike to me. But you’ve done this for two different bikes, and

to ask you, “Are you buying today and are you actually paying cash?” If not, I have a couple of more questions I need to ask you. Such as, do you have a trade and are you financing your purchase? You always seem surprised when we get to our bottom dollar and won’t go any further. Please understand we have to make a profit to stay in business. Obviously, motorcycle sales is not a simple or completely predictable endeavor. Every new customer is given the opportunity to show his type, and it’s up to us to react properly and make it the best experience possible. Oh, and Sasquatch? Don’t worry—we sold your bike to someone else. Jeff Maddox is the sales manager for a multiline dealership in the Midwest. Questions for him? Email us at mcmail@bonniercorp.com.


GARAGE

WORDS: Ari Henning

SERVICE YOUR COOLING SYSTEM Summer heat isn’t just hard on you as a rider; it’s also hard on your engine. Make it a little easier by performing a cooling-system service. Most owner’s manuals recommend replacing the coolant every two years. This procedure works for most bikes, but some have very specific steps to take. Consult your manual before you begin.

45

Now is a good time to inspect the radiator hoses for cracks or damage. Also inspect the hose clamps and take a close look at the radiator itself. Use a small flat-blade screwdriver to straighten bent cooling fins. 54 MOTORCYCLIST

Position a drain pan under the bike and unscrew the drain bolt on the water pump, identifiable by the copper washer behind the bolt head. Open the radiator cap and allow the coolant to drain. Drain the reserve tank as well.

Flushing out the radiator isn’t usually necessary (and creates a lot of contaminated water to dispose of), but if you have scale buildup you might want to treat your radiator with a cleaning solution to remove residue and scale.

Reinstall the drain bolt and pour in fresh coolant to the top of the filler neck. Then start the bike (with the radiator cap off) and run it for several minutes, blipping the throttle and rocking the bike gently to help free any air bubbles.

Top off, reinstall the radiator cap, reattach the reservoir hose, fill the reservoir tank to the upper line, and you’re good to go! Enjoy the riding season knowing your engine is properly prepared to stand the heat.

JULIA LAPALME

If your bike was recently ridden, give it some time to cool before you pop the radiator cap. Most coolant is toxic, so keep it off painted surfaces, keep it in a closed container, and dispose of it properly.


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GARAGE TRIUMPH STREET TWIN WRIST: Julia LaPalme MSRP (2016): $8,700 MILES: 2,000 MPG: 55

UPDATE

MODS: None yet

’ve been looking forward to getting hold of the new Triumph Bonneville Street Twin as my long-termer—so much so that when bossman Cook texted me with the assignment to retrieve it from their fleet garage, I squealed with joy. It’s a girl thing. I’ve been a fan of classic-style naked “standards” since I started riding more than 10 years ago. I love the combination of sportbike-esque performance with the timeless lines of motos from the 1950s and ’60s: round headlights (a must), exposed frame, gracefully simple tank shape, upright seating. Much as I love a true sportbike to tear around on, when it comes to aesthetics, the classic styling of standards, “sit-up bikes,” and café racers has always had my heart. Turns out Triumph shares that mindset. With the new Bonnevilles released

JULIA LAPALME

I

this year, Triumph took its tried-and-true classic motorcycles and made them even better: low to the ground, narrow chassis, ABS, traction control, and updated gauges. I hop on the Street Twin and fire it up and can’t help but smile. The sound of that exhaust gets me every time (and that’s just stock!). I pull away from a stoplight, and the low-end torque of the 900cc parallel twin keeps me ahead of traffic no problem. Even with all its charm, I will say I’ve

already got my eye on a few things I’d like to explore for this baby Bonnie: a windscreen, perhaps, so freeway runs aren’t such a neck ache; a luggage rack and/or saddlebags so I can save my back when toting things to and fro; and maybe a peek into tweaking the suspension. With all the custom mods being done to café racers new and old, I’m sure I won’t run out of inspiration for this Street Twin. Stay tuned to see what comes next!

That’s exactly the sort of low-grip scenario Stompgrip (stompgrip.com; $55) is made to address. I’ve slapped these bumpy rubber pads on various bikes over the years, and they really boost grip and make it easier to latch onto the bike. The pads are made from a tacky rubber material and have small, flexible spikes (Stompgrip calls them “volcanoes”) that lock your knees to the bike when you clamp down on the tank. They come in

black and clear, cut to fit the Tuono’s tank. Out on the road the added grip is a big help, not just while riding hard in the canyons but also while going for ice cream with my wife on the back. Instead of slipping on the tank my knees are solidly locked in place. If the flanks of those mechanical bulls had Stompgrips on them (and if the riders were less inebriated) the ride would surely last longer. But it probably wouldn’t be as fun to watch!

APRILIA TUONO V4 1100 RR WRIST: Ari Henning MSRP (2016): $14,799 MILES: 825 MPG: 30

UPDATE

MODS: Tank traction

ave you ever seen one of those bullriding machines in a bar? Patrons who have maybe had a few too many Buds get up and straddle the mechanical beast, only to get tossed to the mat after slipping out of the saddle as the machine bucks forward and back. It’s entertaining for spectators but frustrating for riders. It feels a little like riding a bucking bronco when I get frisky with the Tuono’s throttle or clamp down hard on the front brake lever. This bike stacks speed so quickly and stops so fast that sometimes I have a hard time holding onto the tank and staying in the seat! The Aprilia’s tank is perfectly contoured to provide lots of surface area for your knees and thighs to press against, but my riding jeans (Kevlarreinforced and armored) just slip on the slick paint. 56

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JULIA LAPALME

H


KTM RC390 WRIST: Ari Henning MSRP (2015): $5,499 MILES: 3,347 MPG: N/A

UPDATE

MODS: Race bodywork

ear readers, I’m pleased to introduce you to the RC390 racebike. Yes, the KTM has been to the track quite a bit already, but it was always wearing stock bodywork. I deliberately stuck with the stock skin because I wanted race bodywork to be the last major mod for the RC. The race fiberglass is kind of like a graduation gown. The RC390 finally has its Bachelor of Roadracing degree! I’ve had a Tyga belly pan on the bike since I started racing the RC earlier this spring, so I figured I’d stick with Tyga (available through formula390.com) for the rest of the pieces. The Tyga panels are available in sexy carbon fiber or fiberglass, and while the individual panels are affordable, there are a lot of them! The complete fiberglass kit costs $830 (it’s nearly double that for carbon), including seat foam and a windscreen. To cut costs, you could retain the stock side fairings (that’s what the Cup bikes run) and front fender and save yourself $455.

4THERIDERS

D

The Tyga parts come primered in white, and I ran them as is. (Albeit with the addition of a bunch of stickers to spice things up. Think I went overboard?) Besides making the bike look legit, the race bodywork allowed me to shed the stock headlight and taillight assemblies, cutting quite a bit of weight from high up on both ends of the bike. The bodywork went on easily, though I did have to break out the automotive grinder to clearance

the side panels so they’d fit flush with the nose fairing. Some mounting hardware is provided, and you can use the stock bolts for everything else. So the little RC390 is all grown up and has become the dedicated track tool its high-school counselor said it could be. And while the KTM now has a full-time job as a racebike, its development and learning aren’t over yet. The RC390 still has to get its Master of Roadracing degree.


GARAGE

Kawasaki Versys 650 LT WRIST: Spenser Robert MSRP (2016): $8,799

2,215

MPG: 33

UPDATE

The impact with a car busted the water pump cover and the poor little Versys peed all over itself.

MODS: Salvage title

s venerable wordsmith (and wouldbe motorcycle enthusiast) Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Such is the state of things in this Versys update. Starting with the best of times, the Versys got its first taste of the track out at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. While I am by no means a track-riding expert myself, it’ll come as no surprise that I had an absolute blast riding the bike around a closed course. Even as I hung off the bike, desperately trying to get my knee down, I never had a moment’s issue with grip from the fresh set of stock Dunlop Sportmax D222 tires. The stock suspension settings were another story. Out of the box they were much too soft for any aggressive braking or cornering, so I ended up going with about

A

18 to 20 clicks of preload in the rear (out of a possible 24) and approximately 12 turns of preload in the front (out of a possible 20). Increasing the preload in the rear was particularly helpful for getting the bike into a more controlled position during corner entry, but even with these increases, the Versys experienced its fair share of suspension diving and bobbing. Still, this bike was never meant to be a track machine, and even with more skilled riders and sportbikes whizzing by me, nothing came close to wiping the Versys-650-atthe-racetrack smile off my face.

JULIA LAPALME

MILES:

Unfortunately, the worst of times weren’t far behind. Less than 24 hours after our inaugural track session, the Versys and I suffered a mid-freeway collision that left the bike badly damaged. By the grace of some Kawasaki-loving deity, the bike and I never actually went down, but the impact was still severe enough to bend the frame and render the Versys irreparable. We’re hoping to hear back from Kawasaki regarding a replacement Versys, but for now I mourn the loss of an innocent Versys and just hope that it’s not too long before I swing a leg over another.

BMW S1000XR WRIST: Marc Cook MSRP (2016): $19,790 (as tested) MILES: 18,954 MPG: 37

UPDATE

n the life of the S1000XR, the 18,000mile maintenance was supposed to be the big one, a general checkover of the bike plus the first time the valve clearances are checked. Owners get a little nervous about the valve check because of the possibility that one or more clearances will be out, and the design of modern engines means you’ll have to extract the cams and move adjusting shims around to get the clearances right. It’s a difficult job for the home mechanic and sometimes even for the guy who gets paid to do it. Good news with my XR, whose valves were all within spec, so the service tallied up $423 in parts (including a headlight bulb) and 5.5 hours of labor for $594. That also includes 4 quarts of oil, four new spark plugs (at $20 each), as well as new oiland air-filter elements. Some of that labor includes a full flush of the brake system.

I

58 MOTORCYCLIST

Friend of MC Paul Bertorelli (left) rode the XR 2,600 miles, two-up, just to fly Randy Lervold’s XCub. That’s dedication.

That would be the happy end of the story had the bike not failed me within 5 miles of my house. Apparently, the XR had been reassembled in such a way that the throttle-body harness got pinched, eventually shorting out a couple of wires and putting the bike into limp-home mode. On a Friday afternoon, Long Beach BMW got the XR on the back of a flatbed truck and by Monday had diagnosed the problem. Unfortunately, the bike would

be in the shop for more than two weeks waiting for parts. Otherwise, no complaints, as they say. The Michelin Pilot Road 4s are holding up well at 4,600 miles, with the rear beginning to square off. I rode the bike a fair bit in the rain and can say the Michelins are very good in the wet: predictable, lots of grip, quick to warm up. Now that the XR has been released from the dealership’s grip, I’m more than eager to wear these Michelins out.

PAUL BERTORELLI

MODS: None


JULIA LAPALME

The R1 project bike prepped for racing. Just like people, it looks better when the lighting is moody.

Yamaha YZF-R1 WRIST: Zack Courts MSRP (2015): $16,490 MILES:

3,281

MPG: 33

UPDATE

MODS: Slicks and stickers!

hen I set out to turn this 2015 R1 into a racebike I set some goals for myself, the most prominent being to either win a race or go fast enough that I felt I reached my personal limit and wasn’t being held back by the bike. Secretly, as arbitrary as it sounds, I wanted to break the one-minute 50-second barrier at our local track, Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (my previous best was somewhere in the 1:52 bracket, on a stock literbike). The other requisite was to go racing as simply and economically as possible. As discussed last month, I added Hotbodies Racing bodywork, R&G Racing crash protection, and Bridgestone R10 race rubber. The result was a third-place finish and a lap time of 1:51.9. Good, not great. I struggled with overheating the DOT-spec R10 race tire but mostly with just calibrating myself to the cognitive pace of racing a 1,000cc superstock machine. Line selection is paramount, and there’s no time to rest. I knew I had more to give, and the bike was ready.

W

A couple of months later, and I set out once again to Chuckwalla. This time armed with Motorcyclist stickers splashed across the unpainted bodywork, Bridgestone V02 slick race rubber, and, perhaps most important of all, “real” printed race numbers from our friends at Vinyl Disorder (vinyldisorder.com). That would be worth at least a few tenths! Jokes aside, the slicks were immediately an improvement—quicker transitions, more feedback, and no matter how much power I fed to the rear tire I couldn’t overheat it. The result this time? The R1 achieved a victory in Open Supersport and a lap time of 1:49.1. As a reminder: This is an R1 with a stock ECU, stock pipe, and stock suspension that hasn’t even been adjusted away from owner’s manual settings. With that outcome, some things should be clear. One, if you can slap slicks on it and get within a couple of seconds of the lap record, it makes sense that people complain about the R1 being too stiff as a streetbike! And two, this proves once and for all that the R1 is a showroom-ready track weapon. The V02 slicks (bridgestone. com; $400/set) are not cheap, and it’s an investment in time and money to race-prep any bike. But it also means my research is complete. I need not explore the boundaries of the R1’s track potential anymore. Ehhh, actually, one more weekend couldn’t hurt…


GARAGE

SMART MONEY

2005–2009 BMW R1200RT BMW continued to push the RT toward the sporting end of the sport-touring spectrum, thanks to a weight-reduction program, a new 1,170cc engine from the R1200GS with more torque, and a redesigned fairing. Almost ubiquitous as a cop bike at this point.

2010–2013 BMW R1200RT you switch damping rates from Sport to BMW isn’t the only brand in the Normal to Comfort and back again on the sport-touring club, but it’s one of fly. Other nice touches included an adjustthe founding members, and any other motorcycle manufacturer applying for able windscreen, heated grips, an optional admission has a pretty good idea whose heated seat, rubber-mounted handlebars, standards it has to meet. Since its debut in an exceptionally effective fairing, and a 2005, the R1200RT has chaired just about 6.6-gallon tank that lets you ride almost every meeting of riders who want solid 250 miles between fill-ups. comfort and overall competence from their Legroom for both pilot and passenger mounts. In 2010 BMW passed a motion to was generous, with the seating position give the R-RT the engine out of that year’s described as sporty by some and neutral R1200GS, ensuring its reappointment to by others. The rider’s part of the seat could almost everyone’s Best Sport Tourer list be raised from 32.3 to 33.1 inches, and for at least another few years. several other seat options were CHEERS The R-RT’s 1,170cc, air-/oilavailable. The optional top trunk Refined and cooled, DOHC boxer lump got gave the passenger welcome capable. Like bigger valves and throttle bodies, back support. a good butler, different cam specs, and new The handling was composed willing to see to your every sportpistons. Claimed output was 110 and controlled, with more touring need. hp, not outstanding among its than enough cornering clearsport-touring competitors, but ance for a bike with the R-RT’s JEERS Not the most that number was actually less mission statement. Few riders thrilling ride you significant than the increase in were excited by it, but fewer can buy. Tends torque throughout the powerstill found that to be enough of to blend into the a drawback to overshadow its band, which peaked at a claimed scenery. other virtues. It was a far cry 88 pound-feet and got serious WATCH FOR from its stripped-down ancesat about 3,000 rpm. The added Drops of fluid oomph made reaching for the tors, dwarfing them in terms under the finaldrive housing, 8,500-rpm redline—500 revs of size and capabilities, but the non-functional higher than the previous engine— teutonic nature remained. electronic an unnecessary exercise. Build quality of the R1200RT features. Optional ABS and traction control was high, with the fit and finish VERDICT moderated the flow of power in you’d expect from a premium Brilliant evolution the appropriate circumstances. model. Not exactly a hooligan’s of the boxer and The chassis featured the first choice for stunting, used proof there’s life in the concept for familiar Telelever front and ones have usually been cared years to come. Paralever rear suspension, but for scrupulously—but there are the optional ESA II added an extra exceptions, so ask for service VALUE 2010 / $10,790 dimension of control by letting records, and if you don’t get 60

MOTORCYCLIST

2011 / $11,900 2012 / $12,865 2013 / $13,585

2002–2004 BMW R1150RT The box score: Great chassis, so-so engine, clunky gearbox. Servo-assisted brakes will live in infamy. This generation got dual-plug heads in 2004, which is less of a milestone, more of a road map pointing to the R-RT’s eventual metamorphosis into a more sharply focused sport-tourer.

1996–2001 BMW R1100RT After BMW introduced the Oilhead in the R1100RS, it was only logical to create an RT off the same platform. As expected, it was heavier and less thrilling to ride than the RS. Vibey, heavy, and with a clunky gearbox. There are driveline reliability issues on highmileage bikes.

them, move on. According to owners, BMW still had not eradicated final-drive failures by this generation—though the rates were in single-digit percentages—so check for proper service and evidence of leaks, and feel carefully for any bearing play. Addressing any of these issues is no job for amateurs, and BMW dealers tend to charge handsomely for their time and expertise. Even with that price to pay, the R1200RT is a stellar sport-touring option with a healthy aftermarket and many, many happy customers. —Jerry Smith


SEPTEMBER 7â&#x20AC;&#x201C;11, 2016

FIVE DAYS, 1000 MILES, 1,000,000 Stories

Come join the GEICO Motorcycle Hot Bike Tour on September 7, 2016, for opening night presented by Rinehart.

. motorcycles builders Hot Bike and

9/7 9/8 9/9 9/10 9/11

Asheville, North Carolina Maggie Valley, North Carolina Knoxville, Tennessee Cookeville, Tennessee Chattanooga, Tennessee

WWW.HOTBIKE.COM/TOUR OR CALL 877-413-6515


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comp at

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LOT 69904 68892 shown

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84

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comp at

119 99 • 5 mil thickness

X-LG

SIZE MED LG

LOT 68496/61363 68497/61360 97582 68498/61359

POWDER-FREE NITRILE GLOVES PACK OF 100

comp at $ 99$14.97

5

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Item 68498 shown

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99

comp at 99 $328

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LOT 68120/60363/69730 LOT 68121/69727 shown CALIFORNIA ONLY

6.5 HP (212 CC) OHV HORIZONTAL SHAFT GAS ENGINES

$

$349.99

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26", 4 DRAWER TOOL CART

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LOT 62534/69643 shown

60 LED SOLAR SECURITY LIGHT

DRIVE 1/4" 3/8" 1/2"

$

$29.99

comp at

99

11

YOUR CHOICE

TORQUE WRENCHES

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Item 239 shown

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LOT 2696/61277 807/61276 62431/239

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LOT 60728/69034 shown 63054/62858

10 FT. x 20 FT. PORTABLE CAR CANOPY

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99

comp at

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99

WE CARRY A FULL LINE OF WELDING WIRE

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LOT 61849 62719 68887 shown

• No Gas Required

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119

99

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LOT 61282 shown 62326/61253

73 lbs.

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RAPID PUMP® 3 TON LOW PROFILE HEAVY DUTY STEEL FLOOR JACK • Weighs

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2999

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9

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1500 WATT DUAL TEMPERATURE HEAT GUN (572°/1112°)

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1

comp at

$ 99

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$

49

SAVE 43% at 99 comp $89

LOT 95275 shown 60637/61615

3 GALLON, 100 PSI OILLESS PANCAKE AIR COMPRESSOR

comp at

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7

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LOT 63056/63057/60405/63094 63150/61524/62322/90984 shown

4 PIECE 1" x 15 FT. RATCHETING TIE DOWNS

$

comp at

$469

28999

LOT 69675/69728/63090/63089 • 70 dB CALIFORNIA ONLY Customer Rating Noise Level

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6.5 HP (212 CC) GAS GENERATORS

4000 PEAK/

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QUIET

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68440/69678 shown

R MICROFIBER PE ON SU UP LOT 63030/63253CLEANING CLOTHS PACK OF 4 CO


59

99 SAVE $ $106 comp at $166

Customer Rating

LOT 93897 shown 69265/62344

RETRACTABLE AIR HOSE REEL WITH 3/8" x 50 FT. HOSE

$369.99

Customer Rating

$39.99

comp at

$59.97

8

$ 99

LOT 91616 shown 69087/60379

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15999

LOT 32879/60603 shown

• Pair of arbor plates included

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31999

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LOT 61256/61889 60813 shown

12,000 LB. ELECTRIC WINCH WITH REMOTE CONTROL AND AUTOMATIC BRAKE

3

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LOT 69249/69115/69137 69129/69121/877 shown

YOUR CHOICE

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comp at

SAE

$46.97

LOT69279 LOT 69280/69333 61 69560 shown 69332/695

SET DEEP IMPACT SOCKETMET RIC

WOW SUP13ERPIECOUCEPON 1/2" DRIVE S

$198.99

7999 comp at

$

LOT 95896

comp at

$1029.99

36999

LOT 69995 shown 60536/61632

comp at

$135

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$

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$

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• Weighs 245 lbs. LOT 69387 68784 shown 62744/63271

• 650+ Stores Nationwide • HarborFreight.com 800-423-2567

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79

99

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R SUPER-WIDE TRI-FOLD PE ON ALUMINUM LOADING RAMP SU UP Customer Rating O C LOT 90018 shown

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VALUE

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4

LOT 65020/69052 shown 69111/62522/62573

3-1/2" SUPER BRIGHT NINE LED ALUMINUM FLASHLIGHT

WITH ANY PURCHASE

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1999

LOT 46319 shown 61160/61896 • 300 lb. capacity

comp at

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7

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LOT 60497/93888 shown 61899/62399/63095/63096 63098/63097

MOVER'S DOLLY

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Includes hook, mirror, magnet accessories, and video-out cable.

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INSPECTION CAMERA

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65


Daylight makes navigating abandoned barns easier, but what’s fun about easy? Riding at night— while exhausted—is when things get exciting!

JUSTIN W. COFFEY

JUSTIN W. COFFEY

MASOCHISM & MOTORCYCLES

“W

e’re gonna need a firearm. Anyone have a pistol we can use to get this thing going?” A short man, round in the middle, wearing all the tones of Mother Nature— brown, green, blue, and some type of taupe—passed his eyes around the waning audience. The pre-race briefing had ended and the 100-plus racers were wandering back to their respective pits. In a few minutes, a Le Mans-style start would kick off a 24-hour off-road endurance race on an 800-acre piece of property sandwiched between Oregon and Washington. I raised my hand: “I’ve got a 9mm in my van.” The squat man landed his eyes on me and asked, “Mind if we fire off a round to start the race?” I walked back to the van, cleared the chamber, locked the slide, and brought my Glock to the big fella waiting next to the timing-and-scoring shack. A loud crack, clearly the sound of an exceptionally well-built Austrian pistol, wafted across the sheep shit-covered field. The first wave of racers, lined up shoulder to shoulder at one end of the field, came running toward us. What lay ahead of them was a mix of baby-head stones and razor-sharp rocks, just waiting for

someone to trip and end their race early. Their motorcycles were strewn across the ground next to an oversize water hole. The racers kicked feverishly to get them going and then tore off around the lake and into a horizon layered with golden grass and burgundy barns. This was Starvation Ridge, and the race, a 24-hour test of idiocy, er, endurance was underway. The event organizer, land owner, and race promoter is a tall man with three fingers on one hand and four on the other. He looks like he’s made from some combination of old leather, Carhartt, and Crown Royal—bruised and battered by years spent tending to his property. Shortly before the start he threw those three fingers into the air while addressing a crowd of eager participants. He laid down the rules: 24 hours of non-stop racing, each lap taking roughly 40 minutes for the fast guys, and more than an hour for everyone else. Teams consisted of one to eight members. The course looks like a medieval hedge maze carved into the land, took competitors through abandoned barns, along narrow ridgelines, past fields of freshly planted who-knows-what, and then down Nissan Hill, an immensely steep slab of

dirt that more than one rider opted out of. As an entry-level masochist myself, the course looked enticing. But when I made my way back to the pits, aboard a course worker’s side-by-side, and saw the faces of participants who had endured a lap (or two), I was glad I had a van to climb inside of and not a motorcycle I had to mount. Unlike a lot of off-road races I’ve attended, either as a participant or picture taker, the 24 Hours of Starvation Ridge is not accustomed to compliments. They’ve never really had a “write up,” and the availability of information on the internet is slim. So when I announced my intentions to cover the race, the organizers were confused. Very few people go out there other than to race this insane event or work the pits. But this event is the kind of thing more people need to know about. An event that promotes proper racing etiquette, team-building techniques, and self-reliance. It’s difficult, no doubt, but what’s fun about easy? When the checkered flag waved the next morning, less than half the teams were standing—the rest bowed out because of weather, fatigue, or mechanical failure. A mixed bag of disaster and disappointment. Most will be back again next year.

MOTORCYCLIST (ISSN 0027-2205, USPS 517-970), September 2016, issue No. 1610, is published monthly except the February/March and December/January issues by Bonnier Corp., 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. Periodical postage paid at New York, NY and additional mailing offices. Copyright 2016 by Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission of Bonnier Corp. Mailing List: We make a portion of our mailing lists available to reputable firms. If you would prefer that we don’t include your name, please write us at the Harlan, IA address. POSTMASTER: Send all address changes and all UAA to CFS, NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITES: to MOTORCYCLIST, PO Box 6364, Harlan, IA 51593-1864. Subscription rates: $18.00 for 1 year. Please add $12 per year for Canadian addresses and $24 per year for all other international addresses. Canada Post Publication agreement # 40612608. Canada Return Mail: IMEX, PO Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada.

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Thom Hill, Lebec, CA, leaves the office behind on his Harley ® Sportster ® 48.

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Subject to terms, conditions, availability and qualifications. New Motorcycle Replacement is an optional coverage. Claims will be settled based on customer choice to obtain original equipment manufacturer parts for their bike make and model. Actual savings will vary and may depend on coverages selected. Allstate Indemnity Company, Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL and Allstate New Jersey Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Bridgewater, NJ. © 2014 Allstate Insurance Company

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