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NOVEMBER 2013 10

UP TO SPEED 6 COOK’S CORNER 10 UP TO SPEED Honda goes all “toury” with the VFR1200, but could go naked, too; Kawasaki cues up a wicked-fast Z1000 replacement; Victory rolls out 2014 models; and Conti lays down some new ADV rubber. KICK START 20 22 24 26 28 30






2014 HARLEY-DAVIDSON TOURING MODELS The Motor Company gives us “strategic” water-cooling for some touring machines. Record low temperatures reported in hell. MV AGUSTA F3 800 Oh, what a little displacement can do!





2013 MOTORCYCLE OF THE YEAR Calling out the best and brightest for 2013 along with a Motorcyclist of the Year who is making a big impression all over the world. OUTFITTED FOR ADVENTURE BMW’s new, big-tanked F800GS Adventure takes on Triumph’s most dirtworthy Tiger 800. FACTORY MADE OR DIY? Can a build-it-yourself lightweight sport-tourer possibly compete with a full-factory effort? WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD Dunlop’s Huntsville Proving Grounds are where the magic happens.




GEAR 70 72


MC GARAGE 74 76 78 86 90 4



As seen in


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COOK'S CORNER Marc Cook PHOTO: Tom Hnatiw

DIRTTRACK: THE BEST RACING IN INDY? Shayna Texter (25A) pitches it in at the Stockton Mile, where she won earlier in the year. Tis 5-foot-nothing, 95-pound charmer races with the heart of a lion.

fair amount of good news came out of the MotoGP weekend in Indianapolis. First of all, we got to see Marc Marquez continue his dominance of the premier class, which is great for him, wonderful for Honda, and a relief for us, since we named him Motorcyclist of the Year for 2013. It would terrible if the heavy mantle of this award were to weigh the young man down. As Indy suggests, he seems to be coping well. The morning before the main event, word came down that Indianapolis Motor Speedway was, in fact, going to host the 2014 MotoGP round it has a contract for. Prior to the announcement, broad speculation was that next year’s event was in danger. After all, there are three MotoGP rounds in the US, including Laguna Seca and Austin, and the grapevine was humming that Dorna would prefer to have just two races in the colonies. Ultimately, IMS said 2014 is a lock and that it is working closely with Dorna to continue the relationship. I’ll say this for Indy as well: While I’m not the biggest fan of the track itself—it seems monstrous, easily gobbling the claimed 60,000 attendees and making the place look almost vacated—you can’t beat the moto vibe 6


in the city. Downtown on Saturday night is the place to be. Aside from the smell of fried food and domestic beer, you could imagine yourself in Europe. For a weekend in the Midwest, motorcycling is extremely cool. Of course, it could be that way all the time, but I get to Indy maybe three times a year. Should Indy fall off the MotoGP calendar, it would be a sad day for fans of the Indy Mile. No doubt this premier dirttrack event would soldier on without the big circus in town, but normally sportbike-oriented (and dirt-curious) riders in for the GP would miss an incredible show. This year, I didn’t. Thanks to the largesse of Suzuki’s PR department, I joined a fock of fellow journalists for almost literally front-row seats at this year’s Mile—after

dinner at the Pork Tent and the offer of a deepfried Twinkie for dessert. Two classes ran at Indy: Pro Singles and Expert Twins. Forget what you know about feets of Harley XR750s owning this sport. Today it’s a mishmash of engines, including the air-cooled, two-valve Harleys chuffng alongside SV650s, air-cooled Ducks, and the seemingly dominant Ninja 650 parallel twins. When the pack roars away from the start line, you wouldn’t think that these are just mid-displacement twins. Dirttrack has been described as “rolling thunder,” and that’s apt. Same deal for the singles, made up mainly of Honda CRFs and various KTMs. These 450s ran Indy about 1.3 seconds a lap slower than the twins, suggesting prodigious corner speed to offset whatever power they might lack. If anything, the racing in the Singles class was better. In the Twins, Bryan Smith ran away from the pack, leaving the excitement for the other guys. But in Pro Singles, phenom Shayna Texter roared to the front from ffth place in the main event, reeling in what seemed like a dominant Stephen Vanderkuur in the closing laps. Texter is what you’d call a crowd favorite: a hard charger with the personality of a charm-school graduate and the grit of a longshoreman. Hype aside, Texter’s drive to the front was thrilling to watch; you know there’s a bright future ahead of this 22-year-old slide artist. As an enthusiast, I’m delighted that MotoGP will return to Indy next year so I can justify a trip to the Mile. I’m not sure I’d travel all the way to Indiana for a fattrack race, but I have to say that I smiled more and cheered louder on Saturday night than I did all day Sunday. (No offense, Marc.) The last two GNC events are in my home state—Santa Rosa to the north and Pomona, nearly in my backyard—in the fall. You can bet I’ll be there.

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HonDa VFr1200t

When Will We See honda’s high-Tech Sport-Tourer? WorDS: Ben Purvis

ILLo: Kar Lee Te VFR1200T is said to incorporate a Gold Wing–style airbag and automotiveinspired, impact-absorbing “crumple zones,” the frst ever utilized on a motorcycle.



onda’s VFR1200T, a touring variant of the top-of-the-line VFR1200F sport-tourer, was originally intended for release in 2010 as the second of a trio of V-four-powered motorcycles (the third was the VFR1200X Crosstourer, which appeared in 2011), before the global fnancial crisis and the resulting market fallout put that bike on indefnite hold. Recently, another round of leaked patent pictures have gotten the bike world buzzing again about the existence of this model, but we still have no indication from Honda on if or when this fully formed motorcycle might enter production. Details of the design are already well known. It shares the VFR1200F’s engine, transmission, and chassis but gets fullcoverage bodywork, including removable hard saddlebags—unlike the present ST1300, with its fxed panniers. An electrically adjustable windscreen will likely be standard, as will a centerstand. Honda’s push-button, dual-clutch 10


(DCT) gearbox is expected to be an option— though the patent images clearly show a conventional clutch lever on the left-hand bar and a shift lever at the left peg. In addition to the sophisticated V-four engine and automatic shifting, the VFR1200T is also said to incorporate a highly advanced crash-protection system. The protruding chin beneath the headlight conceals a hidden, impact-absorbing subframe that Honda actually refers to as a “bumper” in the associated patent paperwork. Intended to stop the bike from pitching forward and catapulting the rider over the handlebars in the event of a head-on collision, this bumper instead helps to direct the rider forward into an airbag system that’s even more advanced than the one presently available on the Gold Wing. Rumors persist that the VFR1200T will also incorporate some manner of cylinder deactivation technology to improve fuel economy—an innovation originally expected

to appear on the VFR1200F. Where the F uses Honda’s “Unicam” cylinder head design, with a single camshaft operating four valves per cylinder, the T is anticipated to utilize more conventional double overhead cams that would allow the engine management system to shut off individual cylinders when additional power isn’t necessary. The system is reckoned to reduce overall fuel consumption by as much as 30 percent. Touring riders will also appreciate the extra range. Although it remains to be seen whether this new model will ever see the light of day, it’s a fact that as the motorcycle market recovers, Honda will eventually need to replace its age-old ST1300. That’s the job this bike was designed to do and the role it could yet be called upon to fll. The patent photos indicate that this new model’s design is essentially fnalized, making it reasonable to believe that this new bike could be shown to consumers for the frst time this coming fall.

HonDa’s nakeD V4


A rival For Yamaha’s New FZ-09? WorDS: Ben Purvis

ILLo: Kar Lee


kaWasaki Z1000


Next-Gen Naked Goes to the Extreme WorDS: Ben Purvis

n other Honda development news, the Japanese frm has also patented a new steel-trellis frame designed around its long-lived, 800cc V-four engine, suggesting that the company is at work on a new, low-cost naked bike set to rival Yamaha’s newly released FZ-09. Patent drawings show a chassis similar to that of the Japanese-market VTR250, wrapped around what appears to be the VFR800’s VTEC V-four. The result could be an enticing prospect: a low-cost naked streetbike with an engine that’s different from run-of-the-mill inline fours that usually power Japanese attempts at such machines. Yamaha’s three-cylinder FZ-09 is a direct reaction to the fact that unique nakeds like Ducati’s V-twin-powered Monster and Triumph’s Street Triple prove signifcantly more popular than inline-fours like the FZ8. Sliding the 12-year-old VTEC V-four into a new steel frame will keep costs to a minimum; despite the V-four’s complexity, it has long since amortized its R&D costs, making it cheaper than developing a new motor. In terms of performance, the 108-horsepower Honda engine is already on par with rivals, and the fact the engine was so advanced when it was new means it still easily meets the emissions regulations that sometimes kill old designs.

ILLo: Kar Lee


apanese sources suggest the nextgeneration Kawasaki Z1000 will be a radically diferent proposition to the existing model, with a newfound emphasis on performance to better compete with rivals like Aprilia’s Tuono V4R and especially the forthcoming BMW S1000RS streetfghter. Expect a naked version of the existing Ninja ZX-10R, complete with that bike’s 160-horsepower motor. Expect this engine to be only mildly retuned, and still frightfully fast. Our frst glimpse of this new Kawasaki comes from a patent showing its headlight design. Te work of ZX-10R/Z1000 designer Kaoru Kouchi, this “squashed” nose houses four tiny LED headlights that allow the array to be much smaller than any conventional bulb and refector unit. Te patent drawing also shows distinctive vertical side fairings similar to the current ZX-10R and a beam frame unlike the existing Z1000’s up-and-over, semi-monocoque design. Te current Z1000 is already three years old and on schedule to be replaced for 2014. Expect all to be revealed at the EICMA show in Milan this coming November. 11


2014 ViCtorY MotorCYCles Bold, New, Factory Custom Graphics WorDS: Aaron Frank

PhoToS: Victory Motorcycles


Victory’s new Factory Custom Paint program ofers buyers a premium, handapplied paint job without the extra cost and hassle of doing it themselves.

iven the immense energy—and expense—parent company Polaris has expended over the past year gearing up for the momentous relaunch of Indian Motorcycles, it’s understandable that Victory has been more or less put into standby mode for 2014. But it’s not like the Minnesota-based heavy cruiser manufacturer has been standing still—the brand recently eclipsed 100,000 motorcycles sold since its debut 15 years ago in 1998—and a few key revisions coupled with new, lower pricing have made the 2014 collection its strongest yet. Leading the value-added lineup are the $15,999 Cross Roads 8-Ball (above, right) and the $17,999 Cross Country 8-Ball (above, left)—the frst baggers in Victory’s budgetoriented 8-Ball series. All-black from the headlight bezel to the tip of the lockable, 21-gallon hard saddlebags, both 8-Ball baggers feature clean lines, minimal trim, and the same Freedom 106/6 air-cooled V-twin powertrain that lays down 106 pound-feet of torque for effortless cruising. The Cross Roads is an unfaired bike with a stylized, teardrop headlight; the Cross Country adds a fork-mounted half fairing with a short, eyebrow windscreen 12


and an integrated sound system complete with an iPod uplink. Victory’s longtime association with the Ness clan—the frst family of custom motorcycles—continues again this year but with a twist. Rather than three separate Ness Signature Series models—one each from

Arlen Ness, his son Cory, and his grandson Zach—this year the three generations of custom bike designers have collaborated on a single Ness Signature Series Cross Country. Highlights here include a custom Ness Legacy paint scheme, extra chrome detailing on the engine, a tinted boomerang windscreen, custom seat, and diamond-cut cylinder heads. Each limited-edition bike is numbered, and each comes complete with an autographed photo of the Ness clan mounted in a numbersmatching frame. Speaking of blinged-out baggers, Victory also announced a new Factory Custom Paint program for its best-selling Cross Country model. Four graphics patterns—Suede Silver with fames, Tequila Gold with fames, two-tone Suede Supersteel/Black, and two-tone Boss Blue/Gloss Black—are available in strictly limited quantities. Premium paint fnished with a hand-buffed clearcoat gives buyers a showgrade fnish for a slight upcharge.

Te ‘70s-style “Legacy” paint scheme sets of the Ness Signature Series Cross Country—a three-way collaboration between Arlen, Cory, and Zach Ness.

ContitrailattaCk 2 tires Conti’s New ADV Tire is Built For Speed WorDS: Zack Courts

PhoToS: Continental Tires

irst things frst: Die-hard dual-sport riders shouldn’t get too excited about the TrailAttack name. One look at Continental’s latest ADV offering reveals that it isn’t truly trail-ready rubber but, rather, more like a sport-touring tire for big ADV bikes. TrailSometimesMaybe might be a more accurate description—and perfectly acceptable, given how most adventure-touring bikes are often used—but that name doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. The ContiTrailAttack 2 was originally developed for KTM’s new 1190 Adventure, with a “Z” speed rating (for speeds more than 149 mph) to accommodate the 1190’s massive performance potential. The 2 isn’t just a relabeled version of the original ContiTrailAttack, however. Designed with different wire in the ply to shed weight, and a new compound

to provide excellent traction while still withstanding the brutal power and speed of today’s big-bore adventure touring bikes, the second iteration represents a completely altered tire. Although it was developed in conjunction with KTM, Continental is offering the ContiTrailAttack 2 in a full range of sizes, including Z-rated 180- and 190-width rear sizes and a 120/70-ZR17 front, to ft the Ducati’s Multistrada and other big-bore adventure bikes. We had an opportunity to test the new tires on a range of Europe’s best, including the 2013 BMW R1200GS and 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure, during a 350-mile ride from Munich, Germany, to the Grossglockner Glacier in the Austrian Alps and back. Under these real-world riding conditions, the ContiTrailAttack 2 rubber performed admirably.

Many of the hairpins in the Austrian Alps were slippery from vacationer trafc, but the Contis ofered confdence even when sliding.

A skidpad was hosed down for journalists to test wet grip, and amazingly nobody crashed. Score a point for the new rubber!

Road surfaces ranged from pristine, sweeping blacktop to tight, polished hairpins smeared with chemical runoff from auto traffc. The latter often made for slippery conditions mid-corner, and while the tires did sometimes slide, they always did so predictably. Good traction control systems on all of the bikes allowed us to fnd the limits of rear grip on a regular basis, which was generally impressive. This latest offering falls into the “Off Road/Enduro” portion of the German company’s tire rack, marking the end of the streetoriented line. Continental’s goal here is clear: to capitalize on the rapidly growing, largedisplacement, adventure-touring segment and also to become an OE provider for large manufacturers. Indeed, the ContiTrailAttack 2 is the OE ftment to each new KTM 1190 Adventure that rolls off the line. Pricing for the ContiTrailAttack 2 is right in line with expectations; sets for small dualsport bikes start around $300, with prices rising along with size. For full-size ADV bikes, the Z-rated 120/70-ZR17 is priced at $195, while the 180- and 190/55-ZR17 rears sit at $285 and $290, respectively. 13


2014 kYMCo MYroaD 700i

A Megascooter Well Suited for American roads WorDS: Zack Courts

PhoToS: Brian J. Nelson

SHORT SHIFT A plush two-up perch and 50 liters of storage under the seat makes the 700i a great travel companion. Note passenger pegs tucked into the bodywork.

DID YOU KNOW f you aren’t already familiar with Kymco, here’s a chance to brush up. Founded in 1963, Kymco is now the number-one scooter manufacturer in Taiwan, moving 262,000 units domestically in 2012 and exporting to 86 countries. The US market represents a smaller slice of Kymco’s empire, accounting for around 12,000 units sold in 2012, but it’s an important market nonetheless. For proof, look no further than Kymco’s MyRoad 700i that recently landed on US shores. As we discovered during our First Ride

(July 2012, MC), Kymco’s biggest scoot is a force to be reckoned with. This US-bound MyRoad is much the same, with features like electronic suspension-damping control, LED lighting, Bosch ABS, and a willing, 699cc powerplant that make a distance-ready package. Stability in very fast

The Taipei Times reports that there were 14.85 million (!) registered scooters in Taiwan in 2010. That means more than half the total population of Taiwan owns a scooter!

VesPa’s GolDen anniVersarY Italian Scooter Maker Marks 50 Years of 50cc WorDS: Aaron Frank

PhoTo: Piaggio

he year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Vespa’s frst 50cc scooter, which was an instant hit with kids in Italy and around the world when it frst appeared in 1963. Although the company is better known for bigger-displacement “largeframe” scooters like the iconic 150GS and various P200s, the 50cc “smallframe” 14


models introduced many more enthusiasts to the scooter lifestyle and remain today, 50 years later, some of the brand’s best-selling machines. To celebrate this anniversary all year long, Vespa parent company Piaggio is ofering special deals on its stylish LX50 and sporty S50 models, both of which are capable of 39 mph and achieve a claimed 85 mpg.

Damping in the rear shocks is electronically adjustable (with Soft, Medium, and Hard settings) via a button near the right grip. sweepers is somewhat less than rock-solid, and at parking lot speeds the hefty, 600-pluspound weight is noticeable, but otherwise the handling is decidedly agile and friendly. Refnement is pleasing but well short of the competitively priced BMWs. The price for this Taiwanese do-it-all superscoot is $9,699. That slots the 700i between the two offerings from BMW but well under the $10,999 Suzuki Burgman. Even if scooters aren’t your thing, you can bet this isn’t the last we’ll see of Kymco.

ICON Photos: R. Schedl, H. Mitterbauer




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Do not imitate riding scenes, professional riders on closed course/roadways, always wear protective clothing and obey traffic regulations. Vehicles shown may vary from series model and show optional equipment at additional cost.

Engineered to master all terrain and conquer any distance, the all-new KTM 1190 Adventure offers innovative ride technology, unmatched performance and a truly authentic experience. RIDE ONE AND DISCOVER YOUR NEW ADVENTURE TODAY.


BUilt For sPeeD anD stYle WILD FILE

Proving “Classy Café racer” Isn’t an oxymoron WorDS: Aaron Frank

PhoToS: onno Wieringa and Frank Sander


any bikes that typify the modern café racer revival are aesthetic disasters. For each artfully rendered masterpiece from Deus, Falcon, or the Wrenchmonkees, there are dozens of wretchedly tacky Viragos or CX500s with lipstick-red frames and matte-black fuel tanks trimmed with checkerboard-patterned duct tape. Thankfully, there are still enough builders who possess both skills and taste and who are capable of creating breathtaking wheeled art in the café racer vein. Here are three of the best, all spotted at this year’s World Championship of Custom Bike Building in Essen, Germany:

“Opal,” by Rno Cycles When it comes to custom bikes, stance is everything. Opal, with its stretched and raked frame, nails the “face-down, bum-up” attitude of a classic café racer. Built by Rno Cycles in Culemborg, Netherlands, this bike is powered by an uncommon Moto Guzzi V50 III smallblock V-twin (490cc) that contributes to slim and spare overall dimensions. The Guzzi frame has been extensively modifed with a custom swingarm and subframe, while the bodywork is hand-formed. We especially love the metalfake twist on traditional Italian tricolore paint.

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S. RD ITEM A D N A T S ON S 8 STATE 4 R E W LO TO THreEstrictions apply. S ome

UP TO SPEED “Link,” by Krugger Belgium’s Freddie Krugger is no stranger to the Custom Bike World Championships, having won the overall title in 2010 with a Harley-Davidson V-Rod. This year he turned his attention in a café direction with this ultra-clean 1966 Honda CB450 “Black Bomber.” The engine has had its cylinder head reversed so the exhaust exits rearward and the carbs stick out the front to suck in fresh air. The compact bodywork recalls a classic Norton Manx without entirely losing the original “toastertank” look, and custom Renegade wheels resemble Halibrand hot-rod mags.

SIX-2-SIX, MUSIC FOR THE ROAD Who else could conduct that beautiful symphony of sound from the F6B’s 1832cc six-cylinder engine into a hot-rod wail? Who else could coax those six individual exhaust muffers into one sensuous sweep of chromed steel? Who else provides a Limited Lifetime Warranty?

In California, aftermarket parts that have been identifed specifcally as replacement parts or that have received an Air Resources Board Executive Order may be used on street motorcycles. All other emissions related aftermarket parts are for competition use only. A list of replacement parts and EO parts, and corresponding ftment is provided at

“Ducafe,” by Cafati MoCo Plenty of billet and bare metal give Ducafe, built by Ireland’s Don Cronin and Mick O’Shea, a defnite aircraft-grade appeal. A custom frame maintains Ducati’s traditional trellis style and securely locates a 1983 Pantah V-twin engine. Believe it or not, the wheels are taken from a Harley-Davidson V-Rod, while the forks have been repurposed from an Aprilia RSV Mille and anchored by custom-machined triple clamps. The hand-formed tank and tail are made from aluminum, the latter covered with what remains of a vintage leather jacket.

WORDS: Aaron Frank

PHOTOS: Pete Freeman/capture27 Photography

GOING, GOING, GONE Remembering Bill Warner met Bill Warner in 2006 at the Maxton Monster Mile, a land-speed racing venue located on an abandoned Air Force base outside Maxton, North Carolina. It was the Super Streetbike magazine Top Speed Shootout, and Warner was there on his modifed Yamaha V-max. It was his frst time racing, and even though his top speed that weekend was “only” 187 mph, you never saw anyone more excited or enthusiastic than Warner was that day. What Warner did over the next seven years with that enthusiasm and excitement was nothing short of remarkable. He eventually went more than 200 mph on his V-max,



then graduated to a turbo Hayabusa that he removed the fairing from and rode to 255 mph—still the fastest anyone has ever gone on an unfaired motorcycle. But it wasn’t until Warner put the fairing back on that he really began blowing minds. His mph fgures kept climbing: 272, 273, 278, until, in July, 2011, at the decommissioned Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine, Warner became the frst person to go 300 mph on a conventional, open-cockpit motorcycle.

It never got fast enough for Bill Warner. “Not too long ago, my retirement speed was 272 mph,” he told Super Streetbike magazine. “But then we went faster.”

And he didn’t just “go” 300 mph. He shattered that mark, achieving 311 mph from a standing start, in just 1.5 miles. Consider that number: 311 mph. That’s more than 450 feet per second. And that still wasn’t fast enough. Warner wanted to go 300 mph in just one mile. He lived to do what

others said couldn’t be done. Despite his team’s cavalier name—Wild Brothers Racing—Warner was one of the most meticulous and carefully prepared racers to ever straddle a motorcycle. A marine biologist by training and a tropical fsh farmer by trade, Warner was hyper-analytical. Data ruled every decision. Tire slip, combustion temperature, downforce pressure, drag coeffcient, Warner logged everything and used this surplus of data to brilliant effect. His homebuilt bodywork wasn’t the result of guesswork; it was formed in a wind tunnel. His turbocharged Hayabusa engine, converted to run on methanol, produced almost 1,200 horsepower—a sevenfold increase over stock and a remarkable feat

of engineering and tuning. Warner returned to Loring in July to attempt 300 mph in the standing-start mile. On his frst pass he went 296 mph, shattering his previous one-mile record of 278 mph, set at the Texas Mile in 2010. On his second run he was going 285 mph at the 4,000foot mark—on-pace to break the 300-mph barrier—when he lost control and crashed. Warner died at the hospital hours later. No one else has come even remotely close to matching his 311-mph record, and maybe no one ever will. More than one fellow competitor has said Warner’s record will never be broken. The sheer imagination and knowledge necessary to build that motorcycle, and the sheer nerve to ride it to 311 mph, is nothing short of incredible. Bill Warner was a true topspeed pioneer, and his record will insure that he’s remembered as such. Godspeed, indeed. 21

BEHIND BARS Jack Lewis PHOTO: Shasta Willson

LET’S RIDE When is the last time you saw a Ner-A-Car in situ? Te Let’s Ride exhibit displayed antique motorcycles alongside vintage advertising and other period artifacts.

t was piddling frosty rain when we pulled up to the Let’s Ride show at the Washington State Historical Society on a Friday in January, but under the dome of the old Union Station it was warm and cordial. The numbered babes (an “informal fashion show”) and Every-Glides of Destination Harley-Davidson painted the antique atrium with a trompe l’oeil of warm spring. Half a foor up, the mezzanine fzzed with catered food and distinguished visitors, but the real treats awaited us in the top-foor gallery. A fully curated historical exhibit, Let’s Ride makes for an atypical motorcycle show. There are no ribbons for Best Custom, nor do overplumped bandeaus spread their silicone across airbrushed tankage. It isn’t squadrons of bikes lined up in regimented fles for inspection, recognition, and delight. It’s not a Guggenheim-style show, either. Per curator Redmond Barnett, “It’s not an art show.” If all you’re looking for is bikes, Let’s Ride has got the goods. From one of two unrestored 1906 Indians in existence, to a ’47 American Moto-Scoot claiming 120 mpg (what’s in your gas tank?), to a seven-horse Flying Merkel with 11-inch open headers, to the most luxurious rich guy’s bike I’ve ever laid eyes on, a 22


1911 Pierce Arrow, this show is a feast for the gearhead historian. But the real treat of Let’s Ride is its memorabilia, commentary, and people—both biographically represented and present in all their tattered living glory. History on the hoof included the Blue Angels bike owned by former Marine and 41-year Cossack member Dave Eady, who claimed it was the result of losing a bar brawl with a Blue Angels chief petty offcer. Eady took in the chief’s regalia and blithely informed him, “I’m gonna whip your ass and take your shirt.” Gracious in defeat, Eady’s thrown a barbecue for the team every Seafair since that day. Also present was Washington’s frst female

AMA pro, Tammy Sessions, over whom I confess to being both a little star-struck and slightly crushy. After racing for 44 years, she’s not giving up yet. She comes by that naturally, given that her 83-year-old dad blasted Baja this year in his Polaris RZR. Sporting her big smile and huge personality, Sessions took off at 16 with a self-assembled race team and Dad’s credit card to travel the country and dice on the dirt with the likes of Jay Springsteen. She recalls every race and every face, but of the crashes Sessions smiled and said, “I don’t remember ’em.” The risk of ivory tower twaddle shadows any museum environment. Despite authentic bona fdes obtained through consultation with chief archivist Tom Samuelson and president Barry Mercer of the excellent Pacifc Northwest Museum of Motorcycling, Let’s Ride isn’t immune to this unfortunate axiom. “When a motorcycle cop in all his regalia,” reads the card under an early photo of the Washington State Patrol, “roaring machine, military-style uniform, heavy boots—stopped a citizen, that citizen was temporarily helpless in the face of the jackbooted power of the state.” Yeah, they went there. And yet, before this exhibition, I was unaware that WSP rolled out its frst offcers on bikes. Or that UPS sprang from Seattle’s own American Messenger Company, founded in 1907 to romp effciently among mud streets and board sidewalks on motorcycles. Without a four-wheeled vehicle until 1913, what “Brown could do for you” 100 years ago was turn you loose on a motorcycle. Physicians, racers, cops, couriers, clubbers: Let’s Ride brought out all the magnifcent colors of our riding history here in the upper left state. By the time you read this, the show will have closed. However, Pacifc NW Museum of Motorcycling is actively seeking funding—and a home.

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DRAWING THE LINE James Parker PHOTO: Repsol Honda Racing

NEW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ORDER Ex-MotoGP star Casey Stoner—shown here testing the full-works 2014 RC213V at Motegi in August—will also do development work on the “production racer” version.

he 2014 season will bring big changes to MotoGP. All teams must use the Magneti Marelli spec ECU next year, so for factory teams—those belonging to the Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association (MSMA)—the electronic hardware changes. But factories fought against using the spec software, insisting on writing their own, so a compromise was reached where teams using their own proprietary software would be limited to just 20 liters of fuel per race, down from the 2013 limit of 21 liters. As in 2013, factory teams will be allowed to use only fve engines during the entire season. Together, these rules are intended to limit the MSMA teams and make the rest of the feld more competitive. Factory teams are already making fve engines last the entire season—just barely—but reducing fuel usage by almost 5 percent without signifcant power loss should be a major challenge. But these changes pale in comparison to what’s coming for the rest of the feld in 2014. First, the Claiming Rule Teams (CRT) category has been eliminated; these will now be called non-MSMA teams (a terrible name— I’ll call them NMM teams, for Non-Motorcycle Manufacturer, instead). Since NMM teams will no longer risk having their engines “claimed” by another team for a low cost, the hope is that these teams will now invest more time 24


and money into prototype engine development. There has already been talk about the Aprilia/ART engine being ftted with pneumatic valves in the future. The NMM teams will be allowed 12 engines during the season and, if they use both the spec ECU and software, 24 liters of fuel—which is similar to 2013 CRT rules, so existing CRT confgurations will remain legal to race. In addition, Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati have so far agreed to provide new equipment to NMM teams for “affordable” prices— around 1,000,000 euros per bike (affordable only compared to a factory bike). What will these new bikes look like? Honda and Ducati will offer machines similar to what they are racing today. Honda

has developed a “production racer” version of its current RC213V, without pneumatic valves or the “seamless,” ratcheting transmission, and running the spec ECU. This bike has been photographed testing in Japan; it’s reality. Ducati is said to be considering GP13 (2013-model) bikes set up for NMM use with the appropriate electronics, fuel volume, and engine supply. These would be year-old designs, but not used bikes, and very close to the bike currently being raced by the Ducati factory team. Yamaha’s approach is decidedly different. It will provide engines only. These engines will be very similar to the current factory M1 engine, including its pneumatic valve system. Only fve engines will be provided for the season, but the electronics will be spec, so these bikes will be allowed 24 liters of fuel. They will also be leased—not sold—and will remain property of Yamaha. Frames will come from an outside supplier like Kalex or Suter, not Yamaha. There is a range of options open to the NMM teams for the 2014 season, then, but what really makes this choice bizarrely diffcult is that only one of the machines mentioned above exists right now, and there is no publicly available testing information on any of the three. For current CRT teams or prospective new NMM teams, the decision among these various options comes down to guesswork. Staking a multi-million-dollar team effort on any of these offerings represents a leap of faith—or, perhaps, a leap off a cliff. Five percent less fuel probably won’t push factory bikes off the podium all the time, but might it make a difference at some races? Will the new production racers be good enough to get any NMM riders onto the podium? Will teams stick with the old or take a chance on the new?


Keith Code PHOTO: Motorcyclist Archives

CANYON CULTURE Riding at 100 percent on the street is inexcusable now that track days are readily available. I feel fortunate to have survived my street racing days.

e once counted 76 bends in the road connecting Griffth Observatory to an area called Travel Town, then flled with defunct trains, in Los Angeles’ Griffth Park. We called it “The Backside” because it led down to the San Fernando Valley, and we were “The Backside Sliders,” a loosely affliated group who met on Sunday mornings in the observatory parking lot to drink horrible, Styrofoam-cupped coffee and talk about motorcycles and life. The camaraderie of other guys speaking “motorcyclese” was enough to draw around 50 riders each weekend and it was, like most scenes, cliquish. The east side of the parking lot overlooked the approach road, and from there you could see the fnal few corners. It was part of the ritual to race up that road from the Greek Theatre as fast as you could, making as much noise as possible. We pretty much knew which of The Sliders was coming next just by the sound of the bike: Dirty Mike’s RD350, Bob West’s BSA thumper, Danny’s, Carlos’, or John’s Suzuki… Conversations would stop and heads would turn to witness the next high-velocity entrance onto the park stage. The chitchat was fun, sure, but 26


this was just a prelude to the run down The Backside road. A quick, competitive group ride down The Backside was just dangerous enough to be interesting. Choosing the exact time to race down the hill was a delicate task. No one wanted to be the one who suggested it was time to go. That would have been equivalent to bragging or making a statement about how quick you were going to descend—almost a challenge. A proper exit required more fnesse. If one of the Sliders said, “Hey, guys, I’ve got to be at the shop by 11:00,” that might be a good signal to mount up. Otherwise, it would just sort of happen. Someone would slowly edge over to their bike

and, without even breaking the conversation, start to put on their helmet. There was an unspoken agreement to start, unseen and unknown by the normal civilians who didn’t race with us down The Backside. The anticipation would just reach a critical mass, and our sixth sense took over. Sometimes, we’d suit up without saying a word and ride down. The rich energy that fowed through our group wasn’t apparent to me then; now, looking back, this was a magical time ruled by subtle gestures, furtive glances, and lots of psychic saber rattling. You could tell who was gunning for you just by looking in their eyes. Sometimes you could almost smell the adrenaline, testosterone, and anxiety—you could even call it fear—that preceded our weekly canyon race. And being one of the quicker guys there, I was always a target. The Backside road is still there, though it’s been gated and closed for decades; now it’s only open to foot, bicycle, and horse traffc. I’ve walked parts of it over the past few years, recalling the lines I took through different corners, the rough places where you had to stand on the pegs (there were many), the sketchy spots where it was perpetually slippery and sandy, all the scary bits—and the fun ones, too. The road is one thing, but it’s really the society that I miss. It’s easy to romanticize the past, but it’s also important to know where you come from. Riding in that park pushed me toward racing. I’m thankful for that and for the company of the riders who unknowingly made that happen for me. There was no such thing as trackdays back in the ’70s; we didn’t have any choice but to race down canyon roads. Now, with so many trackdays and riding schools available, the days of canyon racing have passed. That’s a good thing, mostly, but I’m glad that it was a part of my life.


Danger From Astern, ’70s Flashbacks, and Doing the Wave

CHECK YOUR SIX I was surprised by Doug Heydon’s comment (MC Mail, Sept.) that he had attended the MSF course but wasn’t taught to leave himself an escape route at stops. I have attended several MSF courses, and there was heavy emphasis on this tactic. We were told that, when stopped, the transmission should be in gear with the clutch disengaged, eyes on your mirrors, and the motorcycle pointing at the “hole” so that you are “poised to escape.” Spike Nunn Kilmarnock, VA Having chatted back and forth with Ari regarding a Speed Triple test a few years back, I was thrilled when he took one on as his Doin’ Time ride. I was pissed when he got ass-packed (not as much as he was, I’m sure) but learned something from this. I’ve been on bikes for 40-plus years, but I’ve never really thought about checking my mirrors at stoplights. I do now every time! Sorry it took destroying an awesome motorcycle and bruising a great kid’s ego to wake me up. Brad Bowlin Dyersburg, TN

THE WAY WE WEREN’T Dain Gingerelli’s article in the September issue brought back memories of my own road trip to Bixby Bridge, taken in 1970 on a CB750 when I was 17. I rode for six months and 30,000 miles, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to California and beyond. I had a few gas station maps like Gingerelli, but mostly I was wandering. For a young guy who grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, California was really something. John Ladd Roswell, GA I sold my rock-solid Triumph Bonnie in 1973 because my best friend kept telling me four cylinders were better than two. So I bought myself a Z1 and took a trip from Detroit to Daytona to watch the races. I’ve been riding for over 45 years, but that trip stands out. I look at Z1s on eBay now, selling for three or four times as much as I paid for mine. I might have to buy one and point it toward Florida. Ron Pruette Detroit, MI 28


What a wonderful surprise to pick up my copy of Motorcyclist and fnd a nostalgic article written by the great Dain Gingerelli. I used to read all the magazines: Cycle, Cycle Guide, Cycle World, and Motorcyclist, and I remember Dain’s name clearly as if he was an old friend. His tests really put me in the seat of the bike he was riding. The article brought back many good memories of where we were back then… bungee cords and all! Joseph Mainhall Via e-mail

BRO WAVE Howard Kelly hit it right on the nose (Megaphone, Sept. MC). I have a Suzuki C109R—quiet, quick, can be ridden in the rain—and I’ve had the same experiences. The best is when you stop somewhere for a break and the others in the lot on American machines look at you like you have a contagious disease. I’ve been asked when I’m “going to upgrade to a Harley.” John Richardson Via e-mail

Dain sure does get around, eh? —Ed.

Howard Kelly bemoans the loss of his “bro waves” while riding a new-to-him sport-touring motorcycle. If he really wants to see a change in the attitudes of his fellow riders, he should try riding a scooter! I have a Yamaha Vino 125. I’ve had cruiser riders wave or simply ignore me on my sportbike, but on the scooter, I’ve experienced some surprisingly nasty reactions from the less-friendly riders. That’s okay because those riders who truly enjoy the two-wheeled adventure, regardless of what motorcycle they ride, still wave back. Derek Meister Painesville, OH

Loved Dain Gingerelli’s story. In 1971, I rode my Honda 450 Street Scrambler from Seattle, Washington, to St. Petersburg, Florida, and in 1972 my wife and I honeymooned on a Honda 500/4. We’re still married. I would like to repeat the Florida trip next year on my Triumph Speed Triple. Many riders would say that the Triumph is not a touring bike, but compared to my past steeds it will be a comfy and roomy mount. If you own a motorcycle and want to see the country, don’t fret about the motorcycle you think you need. Ride the one you have and enjoy the journey! David Preston Seattle, WA

I am a woman who has been a motorcyclist since age 16. I’m 40 now and enjoy riding

vintage Harleys and reading all kinds of motorcycle magazines. Some friends wonder why I bother paying attention to anything other than Harleys. I, for one, like to take in any and all information related to motorcycles. Keep up the great work, and keep putting relevant data in the mag for riders of all brands. Chris Gibbany Harrison, AR I had both metric and American cruisers. On both bikes, I always got the “bro wave,” and I wave to everyone. Even if they are on a scooter or moped, they are still experiencing what we all love: that feeling of riding. Tim “Ole” Olson Via e-mail

BONNIER BUSINESS Cook’s Corner in the September issue of Motorcyclist left me nearly speechless. To read that my favorite magazine is now under the same roof as Cycle World made my vocal cords run for the hills. CW is a superb publication in its own right, but MC and CW appeal to different tastes, different personalities. I hope, as Marc Cook alludes to in his column,

LETTER OF THE MONTH KEEPIN’ ME ALIVE I got started on two wheels early in my double digits and have run through many motorcycles: a BSA 125 Bantam, Norton P11 750, 650 Bonneville, a Honda CB450 and 400/4, a 1200 Sporty, and lastly, a BMW K75S that I sold over a decade ago. A couple of big surgeries have kept 64-year-old me off my feet, and I’ve passed the time reading back issues of Motorcyclist at my local library. All the new electronics, chassis, and engine developments— wow! But mostly, it’s the “do it just because” attitude of the MC staff that’s rekindled my desire to toss a leg over a bike. And I want to build it myself. Thanks for the inspiration. Robert Sutcliffe Sidney, BC, Canada Fantastic story, Robert. For sharing, we’re going to send you one of Bikemaster’s Multi-Purpose Work Carts for your build. Three levels, dividers for organization, four castering wheels, and even drink holders—what more could you want? —Ed.

that Motorcyclist will stay the same. Bonnier, please don’t change a thing. Tom Batchelor Bradenton, FL I was appalled to read of your being acquired by the same company that owns Cycle World. You are one of the few who will ride a new

motorcycle and tell us it is a piece of crap. I wish you all the best and am hopeful that you will be around and still as belligerent as ever for years to come. Brent Murray Mount Holly, NJ Belligerence is written into our contracts. —Ed.

2011 BMW F650GS Name: Linda Crill Age: 64 Home: Reston, Virginia Occupation: Inspirational speaker and author of Blind Curves

PHOTO: Karin Gwin

was a bicyclist, a tree hugger, and a corporate executive. Riding a motorcycle was the last thing I ever wanted to do. Then I lost my husband to cancer. I followed everybody’s “expert” advice on how to move forward following a great loss. I pampered myself, I ate well, I slept well, and I exercised—I was bicycling 120 miles a week! Following this one-size-fts-all advice, I overachieved. Eighteen months later, when I expected to feel better, I actually felt worse. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Finally, one day, I threatened into the air that I was going to learn to ride a motorcycle. If more of the same wasn’t working, I was doing the opposite. I learned never to throw a ridiculous statement out to the universe because the universe doesn’t understand sarcasm. The next day I



I met with a business executive friend and told him about my threat to buy a motorcycle. He laughed and said, “Linda, I also organize motorcycle trips for business executives. In two months we’re riding from Vancouver to California and back. You need to come along!” So, 30 days before the trip, I walked into a Harley dealership and took the Rider’s Edge course. I failed the fnal exam. I failed the

DMV test three days in a row, too. But I kept practicing, and a month after sitting on a bike for the frst time, I left Vancouver on a full-size Harley and completed the 2,500-mile trip. On that trip I had to conquer every fear I had in life, which was remarkable for my self-esteem. I called my book Blind Curves because, often in life, we have to go into what we don’t know to fnd new answers. We all enter blind curves hoping what’s on the back side is more beautiful and more special than what is on the front side. As soon as I got back from that frst trip, I bought a bright-red BMW F650GS. I chose this bike because I’d love to do more adventure motorcycling in other countries. I’m planning to make a trip to South Africa my next motorcycle destination.

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They say: “Built by all of us. For all of us.” We say: “The first crowdsourced motorcycle.”

WordS: Aaron Frank

PhoToS: Brian J. Nelson & Tom riles


2014 Harley-DaviDson toUrinG BiKes They Might Look Similar, But Everything Is Different or a 110-year-old company often criticized for being stuck in the past, Harley-Davidson is remarkably cutting-edge when it comes to business practices. Crowdsourcing is the hottest business trend going, and H-D was one of the frst major companies to embrace this strategy of connecting with consumers. The majority of Harley-Davidson’s marketing and advertising creative comes directly from fans via Facebook and Twitter. The Motor Company even has its own app, called Fan Machine, which allows Harley enthusiasts to submit ideas and even vote on ad briefs. Now Harley-Davidson has taken crowdsourcing to the next level, leaning on consumers to essentially lead the redesign of its hugely popular touring-bike lineup. Customer-led product planning is just one component of Project Rushmore, a massive overhaul of the process Harley-Davidson uses to design, build, and market new motorcycles. Company President and COO Matt Levatich calls Project Rushmore the “most signifcant development” in Harley-Davidson history, with a goal of delivering 30 percent more new product annually and bringing those new 34


products to the market 30 percent faster than it could the old way. Harley-Davidson’s 2014 FL-series touring bike lineup is the frst fruit from Project Rushmore. An unprecedented amount consumer research—gathered from existing H-D customers and competitive brand owners, through focus groups, formal clinics, informal question-and-answer sessions, web panels, and more—informed this comprehensive redesign. The result is eight all-new touring models that incorporate more than 100 design changes that enhance performance, comfort, and convenience, including—gasp!—strategic liquid cooling and one of the most advanced infotainment systems ever developed for any vehicle, two-wheeled or four. We tested the 2014 touring line in Beaver Creek, Colorado, concentrating our attention on the revised street Glide—HarleyDavidson’s best-selling model—and the Electra Glide Ultra Limited, the only bike that currently uses the Twin-Cooled (air/ liquid-cooled) version of the new, High Output Twin Cam engine. The bikes don’t look that different on the surface, but these improvements are more than skin deep.

First, about that liquid-cooled Electra Glide: This doesn’t use the V-Rod motor, as some feared, but a “precision-cooled” version of the existing Twin Cam engine that employs limited liquid-cooling to target the notorious hot spots surrounding the exhaust valves, improving performance without detracting from the appearance or character of the traditional 45-degree V-twin. You have to look very closely to discern the Twin-Cooled Ultra Limited from the air-cooled Ultra Classic. Twin radiators are completely obscured inside the fairing lowers, without any visible plumbing. But the difference is immediately obvious from the saddle, especially with ambient temps in the mid-90s like we endured during the press launch. The Twin-Cooled Ultra Limited emits less radiant heat than the Classic and performs better, too. Harley-Davidson claims 105.5 pound-feet of torque from the High Output engine—a 5-percent increase over the standard Twin Cam 103. Even at altitude—most of our riding was above 7,000 feet—the Electra Glides and street Glides both felt adequately powerful, and Harley reps claim ffth-gear roll-ons from 60–80 mph are a full second faster this year, for better passing performance.

Te restyled Tour-Pak trunk makes more room for the passenger, and a redesigned seat that’s 2 inches wider further improves passenger comfort. Te saddlebag guards have also been reshaped for more legroom.

New One-Touch levers located on the inside front edge make opening the saddlebags a one-hand operation. No more fussy, twopoint latches.

Aptly named Daymaker, LED headlights and fog lights are standard equipment on both the Ultra Classic and Ultra Limited, delivering unprecedented illumination.

You have to look very closely to spot the twin radiators hidden in the Ultra Limited’s lower fairings. Pulling heat out of the engine helps to cool the rider and passenger, too.

The touring chassis, comprehensively overhauled in 2009, remains unchanged, save for larger steering head bearings to support a stiffer, 49mm showa fork that replaces the previous 43mm front end. Both bikes are adequately sprung for a smooth, supportive ride. Only the street Glide, with just 2.1 inches of rear travel (Ultras offer 3 inches), bottomed out over very sharp-edged bumps. Ride quality is impressively plush at lower speeds and over smoother pavement, but both bikes become slightly unglued on twisty roads above 75 mph, with more chassis instability than we remember in past versions, leaving us wanting more damping in both directions. New, lighter wheels for both platforms— fve-spoke Enforcers on the street Glide and 10-spoke Impellers on the Ultras—quicken steering and acceleration, and now carry

foating brake rotors for even better braking performance. Linked brakes are new this year, electronically proportioning brake force between both wheels regardless of whether you’re pulling on the lever or mashing down on the pedal. The massively powerful rear brake—a four-piston caliper paired with a 300mm rotor—used to be diffcult to utilize without activating the ABs. Now you can crush either control with far less likelihood of engaging the ABs because the Refex linked system does such a good job balancing braking forces front and rear. Both bikes stop shorter than ever and with more stability, too. stronger, more consistent performance and improved chassis stability are only part of the Project Rushmore benefts. More impressive are the countless detail changes made to improve comfort and convenience. Extensive

market research revealed dozens of petty annoyances on the old FLs: clumsy saddlebag closures, an unwieldy trunk lid, non-ergonomic controls that took the rider’s hands off the bars and eyes off the road, and much more. Everything annoying about the previousgeneration bikes has been addressed, and all of these annoyances have been improved. Engineers and designers scrutinized every bike-rider interface and, wherever possible, reduced the steps necessary to complete any given function to just one. New One-Touch levers now make opening the saddlebags and Tour-Pak trunk one-handed operations—a huge improvement over fussy systems of the past. The saddlebag lids now open outward using levers mounted at the front inside corner, so the contents can be accessed without leaving the saddle, and a new,



A fully optioned Street Glide Special, featuring the Boom! Box 6.5GT (GPS and touchscreen) infotainment system and other small changes, joins the standard Street Glide in this year’s lineup.

A One-Touch button controls the Splitscreen vent that reduces turbulence behind the fairing. Te diference between open and closed is defnitely noticeable.

Tis year’s dash is cleaner, with only two satellite gauges, not four (oil pressure and air temp are now on the info screen). Ten-percent-bigger gauges are easier to read.

Handlebar controls are easy to use. Te fveway joystick (lower right) controls navigation and vehicle information; a matching joystick on the left controls audio.

auto-retractable trunk tether no longer fops out every time you close the lid. Engineers even fne-tuned the sound and the feel of the lid latches and hinges, so they operate with the velvet-damped feel of a luxury car. This One-Touch philosophy extends to Harley-Davidson’s all-new Boom! Box infotainment system, which is by far the most impressive aspect of these new touring bikes. An unprecedented level of attention during the development stage was paid to studying rider interaction with the system: Telemetry measured how long it took to navigate menus; cameras recorded riders’ eyes and fngers as they followed commands and manipulated controls, watching where they looked and for how long; haptics refned switch textures and keystrokes to provide better feel and feedback; and, wherever possible, voice-recognition

technology was incorporated to make hand controls obsolete. Not only is Boom! Box stunningly complete, integrating audio, navigation, communications, and vehicle information in one seamless package, it’s also the most intuitive and easy to use infotainment system we’ve ever encountered on a motorcycle, bar none. Most of you won’t believe this, but in many meaningful ways, these antique-looking Electra Glide variants are some of the most technologically advanced motorcycles on the market today. Few motorcycling enthusiasts recognize or appreciate the incredible effort Harley-Davidson’s design and engineering staff makes to integrate cutting-edge technology like precision liquid-cooling and stateof-the-art electronics without degrading the traditional appearance or essential character. This is signifcantly more challenging than

starting with a clean-sheet design, and the imagination and innovation required to do this successfully is as impressive as anything being done at Honda or other ostensibly more “modern” manufacturers. This is a classic Harley-Davidson update, thoroughly reengineering and updating the underpinnings without changing the outward look of the bikes much at all. To respect and preserve the heritage of the Electra Glide— the Holy Grail of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle line—and at the same time move it forward by incorporating modern technology and features is indeed an impressive feat. With increasing competition from Indian and Victory, HarleyDavidson needs to be better than ever. And with bold new strategies like those embodied by Project Rushmore resulting in excellent new bikes like these touring machines, it is. 37

2014 Harley-DaviDson electra GliDe Ultra limiteD A Twin-Cooled, Totally Connected Big Twin ENGINE A new High Output version of Harley’s 103ci (1,690cc), fuel-injected Twin Cam powers the entire 2014 touring line. Higher-lift, longerduration cams and a freer-fowing airbox increase peak torque to 105.5 pound-feet at 3,750 rpm—a claimed 5-percent increase over the standard Twin Cam 103. Te top-of-the-line Ultra Limited uses a special, TwinCooled version of this HO engine that combines air and water cooling—the frst-ever use of liquidcooling on HarleyDavidson’s traditional, 45-degree V-twin. (Te faithful have already nicknamed this the Showerhead, or, less fatteringly, the Toilethead.) Te Twin-Cooled engine uses



“precision liquid-cooling” to target the area surrounding the exhaust ports with the goal of stabilizing engine operating temperatures for more consistent performance, especially in hot conditions. An electric pump circulates coolant through the cylinder heads and down to twin heat exchangers (you can call them radiators if you want) located in the left and right lower fairings. Reduced cylinder-head temps allow the Twin-Cooled Twin Cam to use highercompression pistons—10.0:1 compared to 9.7:1—for slightly more power and improved combustion efciency. Because the resulting lower engine temperatures keep the ECU from retarding engine timing to prevent detonation in extreme conditions, the Twin-Cooled engine should perform better and more consistently in hot weather and over long distances. All 2014 touring models except the Road King get a new hydraulically actuated clutch,

which requires less-frequent maintenance than a cable and is lower-efort, too. STYLING Te basic silhouette remains the same, but dozens of detail changes make the latest Electra Glide look more contemporary. For the frst time since it was introduced in 1969, the barmounted Batwing fairing has been reshaped. Te nose has been pulled out slightly to create a brow over the headlight, eliminating what H-D Chief Stylist Ray Drea calls the old bike’s “pancake face.” A new highlight line on the formerly fat fairing sides adds dimension, while a new Splitstream vent equalizes air pressure behind the windscreen to reduce cockpit turbulence. Located using computational fuid dynamics (CFD) and validated in the wind tunnel at Wichita State, Harley-Davidson says this vent cuts bufeting by 20 percent. Te luggage has been completely redesigned as well. Te hard angles of the old bags conficted with the softer “design language” of the front of the bike, Drea says, so saddlebags have been smoothed and shaved of some trim for a sleeker look. Te top-loading lids have been totally redesigned, too. A fxed hinge on the outside of the bag (where the lever used to be located) and a new, One-Touch lever on the inside hugely improve ingress and egress. Te formerly vertical front and rear edges of the Tour-Pak trunk have been raked back for a more streamlined look, and another One-Touch lever replaces the old dual-latches.

WordS: Aaron Frank

Finally, the front fender skirt has been snipped to show more of the new Impeller wheels, and the lower fairings have been reshaped not only to accommodate the radiators but also to reduce—and we are not making this up—the annoying “beard lift” that aficts a certain subset of bagger buyers. Don’t say Harley-Davidson doesn’t intimately understand its customers’ needs. BrAKES Linked brakes with ABS are now available on all Harley-Davidson touring models. Front and rear brakes operate independently at less than 25 mph; higher than that speed, the electronic Refex system proportionally applies braking force to both wheels regardless of which lever is operated, optimizing front/rear brake balance. (Once engaged, braking remains linked until

PhoTo: harley-davidson

the bike comes to a stop.) ABS prevents either wheel from locking up even under the hardest stops—important because the trio of fourpiston calipers clamping 300mm rotors front and rear provides signifcant stopping force. INFoTAINMENT Harley-Davidson’s Boom! Box is the most sophisticated infotainment system ftted to a two-wheeled vehicle, incorporating premium audio, communications, navigation, and vehicle info with cutting-edge technology including Bluetooth connectivity, a touchscreen, and voice-activated commands. Boom! Box 4.3 (a high-resolution, 4.3-inch color display) is the standard suite. Audio inputs include radio, Sirius/XM satellite or mobile phone/MP3 players, the latter connecting either via Bluetooth or a USB cable in the watertight Jukebox fairing compartment adjacent to the screen. Te upgraded Boom! Box 6.5GT (with a 6.5-inch touchscreen) includes all of the above plus GPS navigation with more than 35 motorcycle-specifc features, including voice recognition for hands-free inputs, multiple route options (scenic, shortest, even “twisty”), and import/export route capability using H-D’s Ride Planner. When paired with a headset, voicerecognition technology allows spoken commands to control mobile phone functions, the radio tuner, navigation, and intercom. Text-tospeech technology even lets the rider receive texts (and respond with a pre-programmed message) while riding. Otherwise, fve-way joysticks on the left and right hand controls operate the functions.

Tech Spec Evolution Harley-Davidson’s top-of-the-line touring bike gets a new High Output engine with precision liquid-cooling, linked brakes, fresh looks, and a world-class infotainment system.

Rivals Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager, Victory Cross Country Tour

tEch Price

$25,899 and up

Engine type

a/l-c 45-deg. V-twin

Valve train

OHV, 4v



Bore x stroke

98.3 x 111.1mm



Fuel system

EFI , ride by wire


Wet, multi-plate



Claimed horsepower


Claimed torque

105.5 lb.-ft. @ 3,750 rpm


Tubular steel double cradle

Front suspension

Showa 49mm fork

Rear suspension

Dual Showa shocks with air-adjustable preload

Front brake

Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 300mm discs with ABS

Rear brake

Single Brembo four-piston caliper, 300mm disc with ABS

Front tire

130/80B-17 Dunlop D408F

Rear tire

180/65B-16 Dunlop D407T


26.0°/6.7 in.

Seat height

29.1 in.


64.0 in.

Fuel capacity

6.0 gal.

Claimed curb weight

896 lbs.


Vivid Black, Mysterious Red Sunglo/ Blackened Cayenne Sunglo, Charcoal/ Silver Pearl, more




24 months, unlimited miles



(4.5 OF 5 sTARs)

An outstanding blend of classic American styling and character with cutting-edge technology and features.


WORDS: Alan Cathcart

They say: “More fun. More torque. More taste.” We say: “Yes on the fun and torque. But taste?”

PHOTOS: Milagro

First ride

MV AGUSTA F3 800 A Bike to Make You Forget the 675 t had to happen sooner or later. The punchy, 798cc long-stroke version of MV Agusta’s 675cc triple that debuted in the 800 Brutale last year has migrated to the pure-sport F3. After a day riding the F3 800 around the Misano GP circuit, there’s only one conclusion to be made: This new bike is truly the best of both worlds, combining the slim build, nimble handling, and appetite for revs of a 600 supersport with the torque and rideability of a much bigger machine. To create it, MV’s R&D team developed an up-spec version of the 800 Brutale motor by increasing the stroke from its F3 675 sister bike’s 45.9mm to 54.3mm, while the bore size remains unaltered at 79mm. This has increased claimed horsepower by 20, to a peak of 148 bhp at 13,000 rpm; torque climbs by 10 percent. The rev limit drops 1500 rpm from the 675’s to 13,500 rpm. For the F3 800, MV has ftted the same cylinder head as the 675, with titanium valves all around (the 800 Brutale has steel valves), 40


while the three 50mm Mikuni throttle bodies now carry twin injectors each, same as on the smaller F3, operated sequentially via the Eldor ECU. MV says the ECU has been completely remapped, resulting in more connected, smoother throttle response, especially on initial pickup from closed throttle. MV claims it will retroft this tune to the 675 F3 as well. Like the 675cc F3, the 800 gets Motor & Vehicle Integrated Control System (MVICS), which includes adjustable traction control, variable engine maps and engine braking, and an electronic quickshifter. I immediately noticed the improved power at Misano, where in any of the sequence of slow corners in the frst part of the circuit there was very defnitely a stronger drive than on the smaller F3. Better yet, that drive was delivered more smoothly than on the 675, especially when I got back on the throttle again at the exit of a turn. So when you ask the engine a question with the throttle, it now responds immediately and much more smoothly, whereas in the past the MV triples

had a slight delay between the two, and then when they responded, did so more abruptly. But that’s not all: Thanks to the much wider spread of torque, I could use second gear for three slow bends that on the 675 would have required frst, and it’s the same in faster turns. The new MV pulls strongly from 7000 rpm onward, where there’s already 53 lb.-ft. of torque available—so just halfway to redline you’re already coming right up onto the fat part of the curve. It’s a delightfully forgiving engine that will readily lift the front wheel without having to firt with the rev limiter. It’s downright meaty for a middleweight triple, delivering considerably improved performance over the 675. And that’s with an even more glorious soundtrack, featuring a deeper, gruffer exhaust note than the smaller F3. The only step backward involves the transmission, which shifts much less fuidly than the 675’s because of newly undercut gear dogs meant to handle the 800’s additional power. But the improvements on the F3 800 aren’t restricted to the engine package.

With a single-sided swingarm, three-pipe exhaust, and a stunning silhouette, the F3 800 is just as beautiful as the 675, and faster, too. Get it in black, red, or white.

Tech Spec EVOLUTION MV’s lithe F3 gets an added 123cc for more power and torque, plus updated suspension and fueling.

RIVALS Ducati 848 EVO, Suzuki GSX-R750


With the same 79mm bore as the 675, the 800 engine remains remarkably narrow. Te cast crankcase has integrated cylinders and oil and coolant passages.

In addition to the fully adjustable 43mm Marzocchi fork and Sachs piggyback shock beneftting from new calibration to handle the bike’s extra power, the 800 gains radially mounted Brembo Monoblock one-piece front brake calipers, an upgrade from the two-piece calipers that come standard on the 675. This upgrade delivers absolutely outstanding stopping power on such a small, light bike— MV claims 381 pounds dry compared to the 675’s 368 lbs.—and I’m sure the Marzocchi fork’s revalving included steps to counter the weight transfer made possible by these incredible brakes. In addition a welcome amount of engine braking and a fnely calibrated slipper clutch that allows you to exploit this, there’s phenomenal bite from the front brake package, to the point that I’m not sure I’d like to ride this bike on a wet road surface. The ABS that MV is developing in conjunction with

Te power spread and throttle response may be better, but the 800 still uses the same frustrating, hard-to-decipher, alldigital dash as the F3 675.

Bosch (due to be introduced later this year) should resolve this issue. So, nestle aboard this small, slim motorcycle and you’ll discover a rational riding position with plenty of space for a six-footer. The payoff for the F3’s lower, more compact overall build comes in the way it steers so quickly and easily, yet without any nervousness or instability. The F3 800’s handling is completely intuitive—you just have to think about changing direction and it’s gone and done it for you—practically psychic. With only a relatively small price difference between the two––the F3 675 is $13,999, while MV says the F3 800 will cost between $14,999 and $15,999 when it becomes available this fall––you have to ask why riders would opt for the smaller bike if they didn’t intend to go racing with it. The 800 is just that much better.



Engine type

l-c inline-triple

Valve train

DOHC, 12v



Bore x stroke

79.0 x 54.3mm



Fuel system



Wet, multi-plate slipper



Claimed horsepower

148.0 bhp @ 13,000 rpm

Claimed torque

65.0 lb.-ft. @ 10,600 rpm


Tubular-steel trellis

Front suspension

Marzocchi 43mm fork adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping

Rear suspension

Sachs shock adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping

Front brake

Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 320mm discs

Rear brake

Two-piston Brembo caliper, 220mm disc

Front tire

120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP

Rear tire

180/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP


23.6°/3.9 in.

Seat height

31.7 in.


54.3 in.

Fuel capacity

4.4 gal.

Claimed curb weight

408 lbs.


Pearl White/Black, Red/Silver, Metallic Matte Black




24 mo., unlimited mi.


VERDICT Same great handling as the 675 but with more power and better fueling. 41

2013 Motorcycle & Motorcyclist year of the

WORDS: Motorcyclist Staff

otorcycling today is a study in contrasts. (We cribbed that from an eighth-grade flmstrip on Brazil, in case you’re wondering.) Okay, that’s trite, but it is true. Over the last few weeks, as we gathered our editorial wits to look back on a year of new, not-so-new, and egregiously old hardware tossed into the miasma of retail sales and foisted upon us at press launches prominently featuring egg-salad sandwiches and Kirkland sodas, the bifurcation of the market has become clear. Power at the top, movement at the bottom, not much in between. Signs, as they say, of the times. Low-cost motorcycles continued to do well in 2013. Early returns on Honda’s latest round of high-value bikes suggest that Big Red hit the target with the CB500s and the CBR250R. Its new-think NC700X has also done fne, even as sales of hard-core sportbikes continue to languish. We hear rumors of even more machines coming our way that makers hope will balance on the razor-thin price/ performance fulcrum. Those who predict such things are convinced that growth and credibility at the economy end of the scale makes



up the best and most sustainable path to a full recovery for the motorcycle industry. But high-end machines, usually from Europe, continue to fnd buyers with the affuence to make payments manageable or even unnecessary. In that category, perhaps none is growing as rapidly or as prominently as the adventure-touring (ADV) segment. These outsized “dirtbikes” have become the modern equivalent of “everybike,” put to use as touring machines, errand runners, canyon-strafng toys, and even, dare we suggest this, off-road vehicles. What the Triumph Scrambler or DT-1 did for your fathers and grandfathers, the BMW GS is doing today. The Europeans own this segment now, but it won’t be long before they have some competition. Our Motorcycle of the Year, revealed with an easy and no-obligation fip of this page,

PHOTOS: Kevin Wing

refects the strength of a relatively new market segment and highlights one manufacturer’s fnal stage of gestation from purveyor of stodgy old machines for stodgy old riders to a technologically savvy world leader. Scattered among the pages that follow are even more standout motorcycles in categories as diverse as Best Touring Bike, Best Naked Bike, even Best Bang for the Buck, each making its own strong statement about both the state of the motorcycle market and the state of the art. We’ve also highlighted another Motorcyclist of the Year, remembering it’s more than just machines making up this sport that we love. Even if motorcycling seems more divided than ever before, striking out in newer—and newly rediscovered—directions, we still each fnd our place in it. Spend some time in the next few pages and see where you fnd yours.

Motorcycle of the year

BMW R1200GS Te icon, overhauled

MW didn’t need to update the R1200GS for 2013. In fact, many GS junkies probably wished the company wouldn’t. The GS was already BMW’s best-selling model, representing more than 30 percent of the frm’s total annual sales, and it was widely regarded as the best bike in the wildly popular adventure-touring class. BMW had nothing to gain and everything to lose by fddling with the GS. An ill-conceived or poorly executed update could easily compromise everything the GS had achieved—especially alongside aggressive competition from Ducati and an insurgent KTM. But BMW today is not the same conservative, tradition-bound company it was back in 2004, the last time the big GS beneftted from a major overhaul. The German manufacturer is no longer content to rest on its two-wheeled laurels, no matter how successful those might be. The same relentless pursuit of mechanical perfection that resulted in the stunning K1600GT and HP4 (fip forward and peep “Best Touring Bike” and “Best Sportbike” winners) has now been applied wholesale to the original adventure tourer, the bike, one could argue, that started all this ADV madness 32 years ago—and with brilliant results. Nothing was sacred when it came time for BMW to revamp its fagship—not even the signature Boxer-twin engine that turned 90 this year. Now water-cooled for the frst time, this is the smoothest, most powerful, most satisfying Boxer yet. The steel-trellis chassis is likewise all new, with revised geometry and “EVO” iterations of the patented Telelever and Paralever front and rear suspension systems, for handling that is both sharper and more stable



than before. The advanced electronic systems that already incorporated electronic suspension adjustment, traction control, ABS, and more, have been upgraded with four switchable ride modes and auto-adjusting Dynamic Damping Control lifted from the revolutionary HP4. Everything BMW knows about building great motorcycles has been incorporated into this bike. It’s one thing to throw technology at a motorcycle—every company active in the ADV segment does that. It’s something entirely different to build a cutting-edge motorcycle that works as cohesively as the new GS does. When we attend a BMW press launch, the thing that most impresses us is that everyone on staff, from the chassis engineer to the electronics programmers to the design chief, rides—and rides really well. You can tell immediately that the new GS (like the K1600GT and the HP4) is built by people who love to ride and who know exactly how a proper motorcycle should work. More than anything, this is what makes the current crop of BMWs great. And the GS, which is equally at home on an American interstate, an Alpine pass, or a cinder-covered singletrack, is by our reckoning the best of the bunch. The R1200GS is the quintessential Motorcycle of the Year: a benchmark bike that continues to defne and lead its class; a shining example of the cutting edge of motorcycle technology; a clear statement of the strength, power, and vision of the manufacturer that built it; and, most importantly, a damn good—make that great—bike. BMW took an enormous risk in revamping the GS from the ground up, a risk that really paid off. 45

Motorcyclist of the year

Marc Marquez Te Next Greatest Of All Time?

t might feel like old news now, but at this time last year, very few people outside of the Moto2 circle even knew the name Marc Marquez. If the thenteenager’s name came up at all, it was usually in the form of a muted muttering about some rule-bending conspiracy between Spanishbased Dorna (MotoGP’s sanctioning body) and Spanish-based series sponsor Repsol to put Spanish-born GP rookie Marquez on a factory MotoGP machine—a three-way match made in Iberian heaven. When all was said and done, the so-called “rookie rule” was lifted and Marquez eventually 46


entered MotoGP astride Casey Stoner’s factory Honda RC213V, resplendent in its Repsol livery. Wielding Excalibur placed great expectations on the Prince of MotoGP, regardless of Honda’s gentle words about 2013 being a “learning year” for Marquez. But when the 20-year-old Marquez dazzled the MotoGP paddock at his offcial debut during preseason testing at Sepang, Malaysia, ending the session just 0.044 seconds off the leader’s pace, he conclusively proved that it wasn’t just nepotism that got him on the MotoGP grid. There was serious talent backing up serious hype. After a podium fnish in his frst MotoGP

race in Doha, Qatar, Marquez traveled to Circuit Of The Americas in Austin, Texas, and broke not one but two of Freddie Spencer’s Grand Prix records, becoming the youngest in history to both start from pole and to win a race. At press time, he led the World Championship and had only missed the podium once in 2013. Achieving all of this in less than 12 months in the MotoGP big league has fans and journalists alike percolating with excitement, but it’s not just his fearless, elbow-dragging riding style that has Marquez winning hearts. He’s got a good sense of humor, too. When we asked Marquez during preseason testing at Austin if he had any superstitions, he replied thoughtfully, “No, just, in practice I use blue underpants, and in the race, red underpants!” Thus far Marquez has faced superstardom with the same beaming smile and jovial, adolescent spirit that can only come from a true love of the sport. His attitude gloriously defes the mold of the stone-faced champion whose brilliant riding is followed by a podium celebration with all of the enthusiasm of a fence post. Marc Marquez has reinvigorated the fans’ interest in the MotoGP series in a way not seen since the rise of Valentino Rossi. Indeed, Rossi himself has referred to Marquez as a newer model of himself. High praise and, as far as we can tell, well deserved.

Alternative Take

Triumph Daytona 675 With three cylinders, odd displacement, and chassis dimensions more akin to a 250GP racer than a middleweight sportbike, the Daytona 675 creates its own category. Te crazycharismatic D675 has been a staf favorite since it was named MOTY in 2006, and this year’s totally revised version, with more power, better chassis balance, and less weight, is the best yet.

Best sportbike BMW HP4 Te Transcendent Superbike On paper, BMW’s HP4 resembles any other liter-class superbike: the same 999cc, 16-valve inline-four, the same twin-spar aluminum frame, an industry-standard USD fork and rear monoshock, and four-piston, radial-mount brakes. An utterly conventional, by-the-numbers sportbike, built by a company that’s usually anything but. Then you pull the trigger. With a dyno-verifed

177.5 bhp (and launch control) delivering consistent, 9.8-second quarter-mile passes at more than 150 mph, the HP4 outsprints even a 1,400cc Kawasaki ZX-14R. Supernaturally composed Dynamic Damping Control—with electromagnetic suspension valves that self-adjust up to 100 times per second—makes the HP4 feels more stable than any sportbike we’ve ridden before. And those brakes… The strongest stoppers on

any production bike, assisted by infallible Race ABS, are the most predictable, too. Sure, it’s $24,995, and unless it’s already in your garage, there’s no way you’re getting one. But the HP4 is one very special sportbike, with performance that utterly transcends its spec sheet. If you are ever lucky enough to ride one, you’ll understand why it won our Class of 2013 sportbike comparison—as well as our sportbike of the year.

Alternative Take

Triumph Speed Triple Triumph’s Speed Triple gets better every year, and the 2013 version, with a 120-horsepower triple ready to wheelie in almost any gear, is the best incarnation yet. A balanced, thrilling, and engaging do-it-all machine, Triumph’s original Speed Triple remains one of our all-time favorite bikes, regardless of category.

Best Naked Bike Aprilia Tuono V4R APRC Te Real, Full-Power Deal Naked bikes are all about attitude, and Aprilia’s Tuono V4R radiates the stuff. It’s based on the RSV4, but Aprilia didn’t just strip the bodywork off its Superbike—it retuned the engine and reconfgured the chassis and riding position to yield a more comfortable and practical machine. It’s equally at home on a back road or on city streets and, unless you live at a racetrack, the Tuono is the best way to

enjoy Aprilia’s incredible V-four engine. There’s not much that can compare to the gruff, angry noise that emanates from the Tuono when you twist the throttle. And the V4R bites as viciously as it barks, with a top-end rush of 145 horsepower to match the stupendous torque. Thank goodness, then, for the Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) package, which offers eight-level traction control, variable engine modes, a quickshifter,

wheelie control, and launch control, too. This year, it’s a great bargain, too. Aggressive price cuts list the Tuono V4R APRC at $13,999—the same cost as some Japanese literbikes but with loads more character and the practicality a naked bike promises. This is a sophisticated yet frighteningly raw machine—and one that consistently makes every member of our staff laugh inside his helmet. 47

Alternative Take

Yamaha FJR1300 With new ride-by-wire electronics, cruise control, and a few other tweaks, the venerable FJR returns to our attention for a variety of reasons. But the big one is that it isn’t. Big, that is. Te FJR feels like a motorcycle. Most of us fnd the FJR’s size just about perfect for longdistance travel. It’s very comfortable, reasonably fast, and a great value.

Best touring Bike BMW K1600GT Here We Go Again We’re fully expecting a barrage of bitching and a cartload of cavil for picking, once again, the mighty BMW K1600GT as our favorite touring bike. We hear you. Yes, it is fantastically expensive. Yes, it has more plastic than a MasterCard factory. And, yes, it can make you feel like noob in a wet parking lot. But, but…but. Twist the dial on the 1649cc inline-six, listen to the F1-inspired wail, feel the

thrust of more than 100 pound-feet of torque driving 756 pounds of machine forward, and you will start thinking of spaghetti dinners and dropping cable service to swing the payments. And when you’re done playing racer boy with all the unsuspecting sportbike riders in your neighborhood, revel in the BMW’s incredible comfort, brought in part by the six’s eerily smooth nature, superb ergonomics (way better than the GT-L), and sublime aerodynamics.

Add to all that a host of features—available satellite navigation, a great stereo, standard cruise control, highly functional hard luggage, heated seats and grips potent enough you could use them for campside mealmaking—on top of traction control, a steerable headlight, electronically adjustable suspension, and superb brakes with ABS. The K16 is the complete package: superbly built, cleverly engineered, and unexpectedly joyous to ride.

Alternative Take

Ducati Multistrada 1200S Te Multi is the most versatile Ducati, combining the Testastretta engine and selfadjusting Skyhook suspension with the most comfortable and capable chassis. It’s too raw to be everyone’s ADV, but if you’re a recovering sportbike addict wanting to comfortably rip back roads, the Multistrada is your bike.

Best adventure Bike KTM 1190 Adventure Te Deluxe Dirtbike KTM’s big-bore Adventure has long been the best bike for adventuring off the beaten path, but until now, its road-going capabilities have left something to be desired. All that dirtbike DNA made a motorcycle that excelled off pavement, but it lacked the luxury and technology you really appreciate after that eighth hour in the saddle. That’s no longer the case now that KTM 48


has given the capital-A adventure bike its frst comprehensive overhaul since 2006, greatly enhancing its road-worthiness without sacrifcing any inherent off-road ability. A larger-displacement, 1,195cc, V-twin adapted from the RC8R superbike adds 30 percent more power, while a comprehensive electronic operating system—including switchable ride modes, four levels of traction control, combined ABS, and optional electronic

suspension—puts the Adventure on-level with sophisticated competition from BMW and Ducati. It all works well, too. Despite these changes, the Adventure still feels like a steroidal dirtbike, with an in-command riding posture equally suited for roosting berms or swerving around doubleparked Priuses. This is an update done right, extending the Adventure’s outright capability without compromising its existing ability.

Alternative Take

Husqvarna TR650 Terra A moment of silence, please, for Husky’s likable and fexible TR650 Terra. It will not continue into Husky’s new ownership in the Pierer Group. And that’s a shame. Te Kymco-built, liquid-cooled engine is strong and smooth, and the chassis a good combination of on-road comfort and trail-ready capability. Let’s hope someone reprises the idea behind the Terra.

Best Dual-sport Honda CRF250L Huge Fun-For-Dollar Trills Honda’s tactic for reigniting motorcycling might just boil down to “give more for less.” Few of the truly new models from Big Red this year are technological groundbreakers or intended to make the multi-bike owner crack open his wallet to expand the feet. Nope. Honda’s put a laser sight on new riders, reentry riders, and even those who never thought they’d ever be motorcyclists. And hit

the mark dead on. A prime example is the new CRF250L. Built in Thailand and sold for a mere $4,699, Honda’s latest dual-sport rises well above its station. Sure, it’s not powerful. And, yes, the overall equipment specifcation suggests a machine that’s less than race ready. But it undercuts fellow Japanese 250 dual-sports by at least $400, which goes some way toward riding gear and insurance for the newbies.

Freshly minted riders aren’t the only ones likely to be pleased. The CRF is competent and cheerful, a bike that makes experienced riders grin and novices feel like they will be able to learn the ropes without getting hurt. It is just capable enough, just fexible enough, and just well enough developed that it feels like an entirely new and hugely welcome member of the dual-sport fraternity. It’s a perfect playbike, with license plates.

Alternative Take

Best Dreambike Indian Tunder Stroke Streamliner Celebrating Te Spirit Of Munro Few motorcycles have inspired as many two-wheeled dreams—for motorcyclists and non-motorcyclists alike—as the Indian Scout streamliner built by New Zealand’s Burt Munro, celebrated in the beloved 2005 motion picture, The World’s Fastest Indian. Munro’s wobbly contraption went over 200 mph in 1967 and still animates two-wheeled enthusiasts of all allegiances today.

It was a stroke of genius, then, when the brain trust behind the newly revived Indian Motorcycles commissioned a modern “Munro Special” to debut the Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin—the frst new Indian engine in 60 years. And this wasn’t just some dummy display piece, but an all-metal, fully operational, rolling sculpture that was painstakingly hand formed by Jeb Scolman, one of the nation’s fnest hot-rod builders. The resulting

Mule Motorcycles Richard Pollock’s artfully rendered streettrackers are sublime mash-ups of classic forms and up-to-the-minute technology, all built with an attention to detail beftting an aerospace engineer (Pollock’s past life). No tacky boltons or garish frame paint here, just top-notch components fnished in a classic color scheme, to create totally functiona dreambikes. “Spirit of Munro” is breathtaking—truly one of the most beautiful motorcycles ever built. To credibly compete with Harley-Davidson, Indian needs more than just good motorcycles. It needs a mythology that engages and inspires a new generation of enthusiasts dreaming of Indians. Channeling the spirit of Burt Munro and the countless others who raced Indians on all surfaces over the past century does exactly that. 49

Alternative Take

Best Bang for Te Buck

Triumph Street Triple R What’s this? Te high-spec Street Triple R lands in the Bang for the Buck category? Triumph’s uprated Street is so much better than the base model, for so little extra dough ($9,999, just $600 more) that we have to call this money well spent. Upgraded and adjustable suspension and much better brakes improve an already-agile, fast, and enjoyable machine.

Honda CB500F

Bridging Te Gap With Confdence We sometimes forget that not everyone is into motorcycling for an adrenaline-pumping thrill ride. For some, transportation is the main goal. Others are just happy to be outside. We get it. And so does Honda. The evidence is right here: the new world-spec CB500s. In truth, all three models we get here—the CBR500R sportbike, the CB500X adventurestyled machine, and the CB500F naked—are

good values in totally middle-ground motorcycles, offering a lot of confdence and competence for around $6,000. But it’s the CB500F we’re most fond of, in part because it’s the cheapest version of these mechanically identical (or nearly so) machines. Just $5,499 gets you in the sport with a sprightly, economical, unusually smooth parallel-twin powerplant housed in a steelmember frame that looks like nothing special

on the spec chart. With mellow power, roomy ergonomics, and suspension calibrated toward the pillowy end of the scale, the CB-F aims for and solidly hits the broadest part of the new/returning-rider market. Well-built, charming, and inoffensive, the CB500F is in many ways the prototypical Honda—offering a safe, intelligent choice for those new to our sport, or even those coming back after a few years away.

Alternative Take

Star Bolt Go ahead. Call the Bolt a “Sportster knockof.” We’re calling BS. In person, the Bolt is handsome and it works well. Te 942cc, air-cooled engine spins out a rainbow-scented river of torque; it starts, stops, and steers like a thoroughly modern motorcycle. It’ll probably never break, spit hardware into the curb, or leak. Tink of it as a $7,990 ticket to freedom.

Best cruiser Moto Guzzi California 1400 Totally Goosed When our Guzzi-loving staffers started cooing about the latest machine from Mandello del Lario, no one was surprised. It’s what these guys do: defend old-tech machines by bridging the conversation from clanky machinery to unique engine architecture, signifcant historical precedent, the serenity of Lake Como, or some other specious attribute meant to make us look past obvious faws. 50


Imagine our surprise when those not infected with Guzzi delirium returned to the offce and issued forth unprompted praise for the new California. “The electronics work. The brakes work. It shifts like a modern engine. It’s even—am I really saying this?—fast…” The skeptic’s voice trails off, realizing that he might have a rare form of glossolalia. But he doesn’t. The California is really that good, that competent, that unexpected from a

company that has struggled to break free of its own history. Say what you want of the styling— some of us were lukewarm but most feel that the Galluzzi-penned form is a welcome break from the cruiser norm—it’s what you fnd under the skin that most pleases. Modern performance, slightly outlandish style, and uncannily good integration of high technology into classical forms highlight Moto Guzzi’s best effort to date.

Alternative Take

Best New technology

Honda NC-Series Engine Single-minded. Tat’s the phrase that describes Honda’s NC700 engine. In order to average nearly 60 mpg, the 670cc, four-valve-percylinder engine keeps the revs down and velocities up, thanks to tiny ports, mild cams, and a single throttle body that would choke the average 600cc supersport. Charismatic? No. Efcient? Virtually without peer.

Adaptive Suspension

Te Future Adjusts Itself Last year, electronically adjustable suspension was enough to impress us, but not anymore. This year brought the introduction of dynamically adjustable suspension, so now every Tom, Dick, and motojournalist’s damping is computer-controlled and alters itself as we race down the road. BMWs Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) system reacts to road conditions and riding inputs in as little as 10

milliseconds. What that means is that when you ride a DDC-equipped R1200GS or HP4, the damping adjustment changes as much as 100 times every second. Sachs’ “Skyhook” system, introduced on this year’s Ducati Multistrada 1200S, works similarly. Both systems have us smitten. The technology is interesting, but the reality of what the systems allow manufacturers to do with motorcycle design is

incredible—and we’ve only seen the beginning. In the case of the Multistrada, dynamic suspension transforms a scalpel-sharp canyon carver into a pillow-plush commuter with the fick of a thumb. The hardware will likely remain expensive for the foreseeable future, but research and development of the software will no doubt spread to other companies and models, making the possibilities almost endless.

Alternative Take

Gopro Hero 3 Like bike-to-bike communicators, action cameras have become really good. Te irrefutable leader in the category is GoPro, and that company’s Hero 3 is now smaller, lighter, and easier to use thanks to an optional Wi-Fi remote control and app that lets you manage the camera from you smartphone, transporting you from zero to Hero in no time.

Best New Product Bike-To-Bike Communicators Hearing Is Believing “I have to deal with people all day long. Why would I want someone yammering in my helmet while I ride?” That’s the most common argument against bike-to-bike communicators. Fine, but let us offer some of the pros: There’s convenience (no more hand signals); safety (this corner is dirty, you’re clear to pass); and enjoyment (via casual conversation with your riding partners or listening to music).

Hearing is believing, and after trying headsets ourselves during road tests and staff tours, we’re all converts. Even Editor in Chief Marc Cook, who supplied the quote above, now regularly rocks a headset on his helmet. Motorcycle-specifc communication systems have been around for more than a decade, but they have improved dramatically. Over the past few years, we’ve watched communicators evolve from clunky,

cumbersome helmet anchors to sleek, lightweight, and highly functional devices that allow you to speak freely with your riding partners, stream music, listen to GPS navigation, answer phone calls, and more. This total connectivity might sound like the antithesis of what you want during a ride, but experience shows that communicators can genuinely improve your riding experience. Try one and see for yourself. 51


WORDS: Ari Henning

PHOTOS: Kevin Wing


F o r

Factory-Fresh ADV Bikes For Those Who Dare To Get Dirty

« BMW F800GS Adventure vs. Triumph » Tiger 800 XC



dventure bikes have become the motorcycle equivalent of sport-utility vehicles—often purchased for the image more than any actual need or intention to haul you and your gear over rough terrain to remote places. But like Jeep’s Wrangler Rubicon or a Hummer H1, there are motorcycles out there that are built specifcally for those determined to go the distance and stray from the smooth, paved path. BMW’s F800GS Adventure and Triumph’s Tiger 800 XC are two such machines. Based on the road-biased F800GS and Tiger 800 dual-sports, the Adventure and XC receive from-the-factory treatments that emphasize their inherent off-road abilities and transform the bikes from midsize adventure-touring motorcycles to purposeful, go-anywhere machines. Since these bikes are explicitly built for off-road work, we conducted the majority of our testing in the dirt, namely the OHV roads and trails of the Angeles National Forest. Our BMW came ftted with Continental’s legendary DOT-approved TKC 80 knobbies (a no-cost factory option), so we levered a set on the Triumph as well and headed for the hills for some well-deserved dusty exploration. The Triumph, incidentally, comes with streetfavoring Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires. The Triumph’s XC suffx means abusefriendly spoke wheels instead of vulnerable cast-aluminum hoops, with a bigger 21-inch setup replacing the standard Tiger’s 19-inch front wheel, plus more obstacle-conquering suspension travel—an additional 1.7 inches front and 1.8 inches rear. Somewhere on the assembly line, the XC also sprouts a beak-like front fender and wind-defecting hand guards. The XC treatment adds just $1,000 to the

bike’s $10,999 base, but our testbike also came with a few choice accessories popular with owners: A pannier kit ($799.99), crash bars that wrap around the engine ($199.99), and a thick aluminum bash plate ($209.99) add cargo capacity and hazard protection, both critical aspects of a long journey over hostile terrain. Bottom line: $14,009. BMW’s Adventure package is exhaustive, but the primary draw is a larger fuel tank, a luggage rack, a taller windscreen, and a reshaped, more comfortable saddle. Our testbike has been “fully loaded,” meaning it has ascended through three tiers of optional equipment packages, gaining ASC (traction control), off-road modes for both the ABS and ASC, heated grips, expanded dash

functionality, a centerstand, LED fog lights, and ESA (electronic suspension adjustment). This bike, which Zack Courts rode back to Los Angeles from the press launch in Moab, Utah, is also equipped with a few items that BMW fgured he’d appreciate on the 1,000-mile trip west, namely a GPS, large aluminum bash guard, and hard cases to haul his kit. Price? It’s as steep as the terrain the GS-A is meant to tackle. Adventure therapy adds $2,100 to the standard GS’s $11,450 base, while the equipment packages and other farkles tack on another $3,000. Total? Try $16,550. A couple dozen pounds and a few thousand dollars less expensive than their extralarge R1200GS and Explorer XC siblings, the F800GS Adventure and Tiger 800 XC give up little in terms of comfort and are more manageable off-road thanks to their slightly smaller size and lesser weight. But they’re far from lightweights. Carrying 6.3 gallons of midgrade unleaded and laden with half the BMW Motorrad accessory catalog, the GS-A comes in at 558 pounds. Triumph’s Tiger XC takes regular unleaded and carries 1.3 gallons less of it, contributing to a slightly lower wet weight of 542 pounds. Despite being lighter and marginally smaller in nearly every dimension, the Triumph feels like the heavier of the two, especially when the tank is full. The F800GS-A has a more compact engine and carries its substantial fuel payload in an underseat tank that doubles as the tail section, helping keep the bike’s center of gravity low. As on-road, long-distance vehicles, the Adventure and XC are almost on par with touring bikes. That massive gas tank under 53

the BMW’s seat is good for about 250 miles at highway speeds, and the GS-A is nearly comfortable enough to last that long. Its taller, fatter seat provides more legroom and more room to move around than the Triumph’s scooped saddle, and that vertical plank of a windscreen, along with wider, Adventurespecifc radiator shrouds, do a tremendous job of keeping the windblast off your body, shoulders, and legs. It wouldn’t be a BMW without quirks, and the most evident peculiarity is in the steering, wherein initial turn-in is heavy and then the bike falls into the corner. The Triumph’s steering is slightly heavier but totally consistent from vertical to full lean. As you absorb that information, bear in mind that the TKC 80s can strongly infuence handling. Some bikes don’t mind; some have a fairly radical behavior change from their normal street tires. The GS-A uses the same engine platform as the F800GT tested elsewhere in this issue, but cam timing, fueling, and exhaust plumbing have been tuned to increase low-end torque and improve tractability off-road. The parallel twin turns fuel into forward motion with industrial effciency, performing its task as unexcitingly as the battery beneath the faux tank cover. From idle up to the power peak at 8,250 rpm, the only change in conduct is a buzz in the bars that arrives as the tach needle sweeps past 6,000 rpm. Triumph’s triple—a long-stroke, 799cc variation of the company’s previous-generation 675cc mill—sounds fantastic and revs more



BRADLEY ADAMS SPORT RIDER ASSOCIATE EDITOR AGE: 24 HEIGHT: 6’3” WEIGHT: 185 lbs. INSEAM: 34 in. These bikes will tackle any type of road with more competence than their unwieldy dimensions suggest they should. But it only takes a few miles of trail riding to realize that Triumph and BMW have differing viewpoints regarding what a dual-sport should be able to do. The Triumph feels more street biased, with just enough off-road talent to stay in the F800’s mirrors. It’ll tackle the same trails as the BMW, but its higher center of gravity and less tractable engine make it more of a challenge. The F800’s steering characteristics aren’t as linear as I’d like, but the parallel-twin engine chugs off corners, the narrow chassis promotes aggressive riding, and the ABS and ASC provide a greater sense of security in the loose stuff. Add to that a more functional windscreen, way better brakes, and hard cases that won’t come apart during your frst off-road foray, and you have a dual-sport that does more than the competition.

ARI HENNING ROAD TEST EDITOR AGE: 28 HEIGHT: 5’10” WEIGHT: 177 lbs. INSEAM: 33 in. I’m not an avid off-road rider, but every time I hit the trails I have a blast and start fantasizing about a road trip. As of late, my daydreams have seen me riding the Rockies on an F800GS Adventure—it seems my subconscious picked a favorite before I did. I commuted on both bikes for a week before we took them into the wilderness, and initially I favored the 800 XC. The lower seat and smooth, sweet-sounding motor were more appealing. But once I’d done a few 100-mile freeway stints and motored through some sandy washes and rock gardens, it was pretty evident that the BMW was the more broadband machine. My only issue with the GS-A is its price; as tested, it rings in at $16,510! That’s just too expensive. If it were my money, I’d forego the $900 GPS setup (it’s really nice, but I’m a map man anyway) and ditch the ESA to save another $645. The e-suspension is ineffective, and I’d like my compression damping adjuster back, thank you.

readily than the GS-A’s engine, making it more exciting anywhere you’re able to roll the throttle open quickly. The Tiger lunges forward with more vigor and always seems to have power in reserve thanks to a higher 9,800-rpm redline and stronger top-end performance. Meanwhile, the Beemer takes its time getting up to speed and requires a little more real estate to perform a pass. That appetite for revs and a smaller gas tank mean slightly less range for the Tiger—about 175 miles the way we rode it. Knobby tires and giant hard cases surely put a dent in both bikes’ effciency. Triumph built quite a bit of adjustability into the Tiger: The seat has a high and a low position, the windscreen can be raised and lowered, and the handlebar towers rotate 180 degrees to move the bar up and forward. We adjusted everything to the tallest/highest/ forward position, but the Triumph still couldn’t match the level of comfort and weather protection offered by the nonadjustable GS. The Tiger isn’t uncomfortable in any way, but it’s simply not as luxurious as the GS-A. Steer the bikes into the dirt, and the frst thing you think is that you’ve made a huge mistake. These bikes are simply too big to do anything more than creep up a graded fre road. Take a few miles to adjust to their size— and it takes some adjustment—and you’ll fnd that these big ADV machines are capable

Behind the plastic and the tubular steel is BMW’s widely used 798cc parallel twin, retuned specifcally for the GS with more midrange and low-end power.

Free revving and fun loving, the Tiger’s long-stroke triple is a terrifc streetoriented engine, but at a slight disadvantage to the BMW’s once of the beaten path.

Te author, umm, “testing” the hill-climb abilities of the GS Adventure and, in the process, its luggage. 550-plus pounds of ADV means bring a buddy to ride of road.

Mission control reports ready for liftof. Triumph’s plastic panniers have good capacity but their mounts aren’t up to serious of-road duty. As you can see.

of fying across terrain that would slow your average 4x4 to a crawl. Off road, the BMW’s narrower midsection, larger platform footpegs, and higher handlebar are a bonus. The bike feels tall, lean, balanced, and responsive—not unlike

a G450X scaled to 200 percent. Thinner between your knees and ankles than the Tiger, the GS-A leaves more room to shift your weight around, contributing directly to better balance while plotting a course through tricky terrain. That parallel twin between your legs has little in the way of character, but as a means of

propulsion, you can’t fault it. Power fows forth in a perfectly linear fashion, and more available bottom-end torque and a more precise clutch make the BMW stronger on climbs and easier to ride through technical sections. Despite its sporty persona, the triple is obedient in the dirt, though with less low-end power and an occasional hiccup off idle, it requires more focus to ride slow. And while the Triumph’s freer-revving engine is more likely to break the rear tire free with a whiff of throttle, the Tiger’s chassis does a superior job of keeping the rear Continental on the ground. Both bikes roll through brake-disc-deep ruts and over softball-sized rocks with more grace than they have any right to, but when the pace picks up on a rough, ridgetop fre road, the GS-A’s shock bottoms and then rebounds too quickly, causing the back end to buck and chatter. The Triumph’s suspension moves through slightly less travel (8.7 inches versus 9.1 inches up front and an identical 8.5 inches in the rear) in a more controlled manner, never once bottoming and requiring only a half-turn increase in rebound damping to keep the back end under control over large hits. Neither bike offers any fork adjustment, but the Triumph has a fully adjustable shock, and the GS-A has adjustable spring preload and three ESA settings: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. ESA is convenient, but as on the F800GT the system only attends to rebound damping, and none of the prescribed settings offers enough of it. Additionally, by springing for ESA, you forfeit compression damping adjustment, something the Beemer would certainly beneft from. 55

ESA falls short of perfection in this application (in conjunction with Dynamic Damping Control, ESA is heaven on the R1200GS), but BMW’s off-road ASC and ABS setting is a real leap forward in off-road stability technology. The mode has a more lenient traction-control setting and permits more wheel slippage on the brakes—enough in the rear to initiate turns with a small slide—but keeps the bike from getting too far out of line. The biggest advantage is during steep descents: Stand on the rear brake and let the ABS do its thing while you work the front brake with no worries of a lockup. Triumph’s ABS works well, but the underlying Nissin hardware doesn’t stack up to the Beemer’s Brembo components, which provide a frmer lever, more power, and more consistent feel. Disabling the Tiger’s ABS requires digging through several menus via the on-dash buttons, and the system resets itself when the key is switched off. On the BMW, ASC, ESA, and the ABS/ASC ride modes (Road or Enduro) can be manipulated on the fy without



taking your hands off the bars. You can’t compare these bikes without talking about their luggage, likely to be the frst accessory any owner buys. All told, the BMW’s all-aluminum cases cost nearly $1,200, making them 50 percent dearer than the Triumph’s. But the BMW’s top-loading luggage dominates on all fronts—sticky lock mechanisms and disobedient weather seals cropping up as our only complaints. They load from the top—always a plus in our book—with the lids pivoting forward or back thanks to locks that double as hinges. The boxes on both bikes are massive, with ample room for a full-face helmet in the case that doesn’t have to accommodate the muffer. The primary differences are in the cases’ construction and mounting systems. Triumph’s side-loading boxes are made primarily of plastic and are mounted in a way that allows some lateral movement (Triumph calls it TDLS, or Triumph Dynamic Luggage System) so as to reduce the cases’ infuence

on the bike’s handling. Off road, however, the bags founce about like unwilling passengers, slamming violently against their mounts in a way that eventually mangled the forward mount and destroyed one of the hinges on the right case. Meanwhile, the BMW’s boxes only employ plastic as corner protectors, are as rigid as a ammo boxes, and are securely, rigidly affxed to the GS-A’s posterior. They’re clearly designed to go the distance and endure some abuse. Let’s face it—BMW has the upper hand in the ADV segment. Triumph’s Tiger 800 is an excellent do-it-all machine, and the XC treatment broadens its capabilities, but the F800GS is a better off-road platform to begin with, and BMW’s exceedingly thorough Adventure package transforms it into a legitimate go-anywhere dual-sport. The Tiger XC does everything well, but the GS-A does it all better. Choose the Triumph if you want an engine with some character or can’t handle the BMW’s tall seat; choose the Beemer if you’re hell-bent on adventure.

GEICO is the right choice for you. You’ll find competitive rates, plus all the coverages you’d expect from a great motorcycle insurance company. You’ll work with people that know and love motorcycles as much as you do, so you’ll know you’re being taken care 1-800-442-9253 local office

of by an enthusiast who understands your needs.

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. Motorcycle and ATV coverages are underwritten by GEICO Indemnity Company. Boat and PWC coverages are written through non-affiliated insurance companies and are secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. © 2013 GEICO

BMW F800GS Adventure


$13,550/$16,550 (AS teSted)

triuMph tiGer 800XC


$11,999/$14,009 (AS teSted)


BMW F800GS-A: 70.0 bhp @ 8250 rpm Triumph Tiger 800 XC: 76.2 bhp @ 9750 rpm

BMW F800GS-A: 48.8 lb.-ft. @ 5800 rpm Triumph Tiger 800 XC: 48.8 lb.-ft. @ 7750 rpm

the majority of the rev range, with close to a 4 bhp and 4 pounds-feet advantage at 6,000 rpm. Te Beemer’s twin goes fat at 8,000, however,

A smoother-spinning, quicker-revving motor makes the Triumph feel faster, but the BMW puts down more horsepower and torque across

while the Triumph’s character-laden triple keeps revving and producing power all the way to its 9,800-rpm redline.


28.7 inches

12.7 inches

13.3 inches

28.5 inches





22.8 inches

22.4 inches

Te ergonomic numbers are smaller than they seem. Te Tiger ofers more room for your upper body but falls short in terms of wind

protection and legroom, and the contoured saddle inhibits seating variations. Fear no road on the BMW thanks to the more relaxed

and open riding position, a more comfortable seat, ample legroom, and comprehensive wind protection.

Tech Spec Engine type: l-c parallel-twin Valve train: DOHC, 8v Displacement: 798cc Bore x stroke: 82.0 x 75.6mm Compression: 12.0:1 Fuel system: EFI Clutch: Wet, multi-plate Transmission: 6-speed Frame: Aluminum twin-spar Front suspension: WP 43mm fork Rear suspension: Sacks shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping Front brake: Dual Brembo two-piston calipers, 300mm discs with ABS Rear brake : Brembo single-piston caliper, 265mm disc with ABS Front tire: 90/90B-21 Continental TKC 80 Rear tire : 150/70B-17 Continental TKC 80 58


Rake/trail: 26.0°/4.6 in. Seat height: 35.0 in. Wheelbase: 62.1 in. Fuel capacity: 6.3 gal. Weight (tank full/empty): 558/520 lbs. Measured horsepower : 70.0 bhp @ 8250 rpm Measured torque: 48.8 lb.-ft. @ 5800 rpm Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 48/39/43 mpg Colors: Sandrover Matter, Racing Red Available: Now Warranty: 36 mo., 36,000 mi. Contact:

Engine type: l-c inline-triple Valve train: DOHC, 12v Displacement: 799cc Bore x stroke: 74.0 x 61.9mm Compression: 12.0:1 Fuel system: EFI Clutch: Wet, multi-plate Transmission: 6-speed Frame: Tubular-steel trellis Front suspension: Showa 45mm fork Rear suspension: Showa shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping Front brake: Dual Nissin two-piston calipers, 308mm discs with ABS Rear brake: Nissin single-piston caliper, 255mm disc with ABS Front tire: 90/90ZR-21 Pirelli Scorpion Trail Rear tire: 150/70ZR-17 Pirelli Scorpion Trail

Rake/trail: 24.3°/3.47 in. Seat height: 33.2–34.0 in. Wheelbase: 60.8 in. Fuel capacity: 5.0 gal. Weight (tank full/empty) : 542/512 lbs. Measured horsepower : 76.2 bhp @ 9750 rpm Measured torque: 48.8 lb.-ft. @ 7750 rpm Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 39/35/37 mpg Colors: Matte Khaki Green, Crystal White, Phantom Black Available: Now Warranty: 24 mo., unlimited mi. Contact:

Factory Made

or DIY? WORDS: Marc Cook


PHOTOS: Kevin Wing


BMW F800GT » VS.


There’s More Than One Way to Build a Lightweight Tourer Y

ou run into two types of homeowners at your local Home Depot. One is the guy responding to his signifcant other’s request for a nice garden shed. Find him at the prefab structures aisle comparing costs, pacing off the foor plan, and wondering how he’ll get it all down the driveway. The other guy is wheeling that precarious fat cart around like a contractor on a deadline. He has the bags of cement, a pile of two-by-fours, nails, straps, and roofng supplies. His project will take a few weeks, it’s true, but it’ll be exactly what he wants. Same deal for motorcyclists hankering for a lightweight sporty touring bike. Do you run over to your BMW dealer and plop down for one of the new F800GTs, a bike thoroughly developed and fully equipped for this ST application? Or do you come at it from another angle, perhaps with a bike you already own? People will sell you hard luggage and tall windscreens all day long. That’s the tail and now here’s the dog it’s wagging: We kept the F800GT that staffer Zack Courts rode at the BMW press launch and were kicking around ideas for a good comparison. With the demise of Honda’s 800cc VFR and the NT700V and a general


dearth of competition in the 800 ST class, we didn’t have any brilliant insights on how to benchmark the reworked GT. BMW went to the trouble of updating the GT’s ergonomics and aerodynamics while it changed the name from F800ST, and there we were, unable to give it context. Until, that is, our friendly Kawasaki press guy called. “Hey, I have this Versys with a bunch of our accessories installed. Saddlebags, a taller windscreen, really neat stuff. Would you like to try it?” An idea crawled from the primordial ooze and became a concept: Start with the Versys, a terrifc all-around motorcycle—so good we named it Motorcycle of the Year in 2008—and see if a bunch of credible, touring-oriented updates would make it a viable competitor to the F800GT. Or even get it close. Oh, but surely there’s a massive price difference between a 650cc Japanese do-it-all and a Bavarian sport-tourer. And you’re right. BMW starts bidding at $11,890, Kawasaki a mere $7,999. Moreover, our BMW tester had the Safety Package (including ESA II electronically adjustable suspension and traction

control, called ASC) for $795, as well as the Luxury Package (including heated grips, an onboard trip computer, centerstand, and hard-luggage mounts) for $505. The GT’s plastic hard saddlebags, keyed to the ignition, run an additional $868. When you include the $495 destination fee, our Dark Graphite Metallic GT carried a hangtag that said, somewhat breathlessly, $14,553. Now, the Versys. Start at eight grand for the big piece, a 649cc thrill ride in miniature. And now the farkles. Kawasaki sells a version of Givi’s 34-liter saddlebags and mounts through its dealer network—a nice thing for easy availability and convenient when fnancing the whole shebang. By the time you’re done buying everything you need—the cases, mounts, turn signal relocation caps, and color panel set (matched, in our case, to the pristine white Versys)—you’re looking at $1,102.80. Plus installation. The modded Versys also came with the Vario windscreen, which is taller and wider than stock and is ftted with a spoiler/ adjustable wind defector. It runs $199.95. Kawasaki also sent along a handy 8-liter 61

Marc cook Editor in ChiEf AGE: 50 hEiGht: 5’9” WEiGht: 195 lbs. insEAM: 32 in. Theoretically, BMW’s F800GT should be a bike I get all gooey over. I like to travel and really appreciate motorcycles that do so in comfort and with confdence. Clever and seamless integration of features usually gets me going, too; so the Beemer’s built-in electronic niceties like ABS, traction control, and push-button suspension adjustment should have me all aquiver. Finally, the long list of factory options and accessories on tap for the GT should be just the thing to keep me interested once the newness wears off. And yet, I fnd myself relentlessly neutral on the bike—not even remotely negative, don’t misunderstand, just meh. I think part of my ennui comes from the GT’s engine character. For some reason, it doesn’t do it for me. Too grumbly at low rpm and too fzzy as you get closer to the 8,500-rpm redline. No complaints about the power, and I’m doubly impressed that it averaged nearly 50 mpg on a trip to and from Monterey. But I have to wonder what it would feel like with a 180-degree crank.



Getting down the road with BMW’s midweight sport­tourer. Plentiful power, benign handling, and plentiful amenities highlight the GT.

BMW’s brakes and saddlebags are some of the best we’ve tested. Instrumentation is comprehensive, but analog speed­ ometers make us turn green and smash things.

soft top case that cleverly mounts to the passenger portion of the seat so that it can’t be removed without frst unlocking the seat. It costs a mere $89.95. To be totally fair to the BMW, you would want to add Kawasaki’s heated grips ($229.95) and 12-volt socket ($115.90 including the required relay kit), even though these items weren’t on our testbike. Bottom line: $9,737.55, plus whatever your Kawasaki dealer wants to charge for installation. That $4,800 difference refects a few things, including the BMW’s bigger engine, standard ABS (not even available on the Versys, at least not yet), traction control, and ESA suspension adjustment. To be fair, though, BMW’s ESA operates only on the shock’s rebound circuit, and the distinctions among Sport, Normal, and Comfort are very subtle. Kawasaki’s version of suspension adjustment is digital in a different way: Use your fngers to move the rear shock’s rebound adjuster. The BMW’s front end is not adjustable, where the Versys has variable spring preload and rebound damping. The BMW has a nifty hydraulic preload adjuster for the shock, while the Kawasaki’s link-less damper is suffciently exposed that preload changes are easy, though you will need a tool. Props to Kawasaki for providing the tool with the bike. The way these two bikes ride provides a glimpse into their personalities and

missions. The Kawasaki is what you might call a street-biased ADV machine or a cut-rate Multistrada—long(ish)-travel suspension, lots of ground clearance, curious styling that suggests a post-wedding-reception tryst between a Ninja 1000 and a KLR. Somehow, Kawasaki managed to ft reasonably good suspension components into a budget bike, so the ride motions are more sophisticated than you expect; both ends manage ripples and stutter bumps well enough that the typical LA freeway causes a minor jiggle and not a head-bobbing pitch-fest. Pushing harder through corners gets the Versys moving around noticeably, though some of the effect is certainly amplifed by the tall riding position. For our purposes as a lightweight sport-touring machine, the Versys scores well enough that suspension components aren’t the frst thing you want to upgrade. BMW’s reworked F bike offers a more refned ride overall, but it’s not as well balanced. Once you twist the rear preload up to compensate for those packed hard bags (58 liters, total capacity), weight moves forward and the nonadjustable fork seems a little overwhelmed, and there’s nothing you can do about it. In fact, the BMW had very good ride motions most of the time but is never quite settled in fast sweepers; we also bottomed the fork heavily a couple of times. Not like the F800 is grossly overweight. At 497

Plant or animal? Te Versys’ controversial styling obscures a fne­handling machine that’s better than it should be.

pounds wet (bags in place), the GT is just 15 pounds heavier than the fully equipped Versys. Touring comfort is as much about ergonomics as it is ride quality, and here the two bikes are quite different. The BMW is nearly perfect, a comfortable, European style of sporty crouch; the new large-diameter handlebar arches slightly forward from the clamps and bends backward at the grips to place your wrists at a natural angle. Compared to the old F800ST, the riding position is roomier and more relaxed. But it’s not as relaxed as the Versys’. The Kawasaki’s layout feels a bit dirtbike: a tall handlebar slightly close set, with the footpegs feeling a bit further forward and down than you’d expect from a pure streetbike. (Let’s face it, the Versys’ dirt pretensions are wafer thin.) Both bikes have good saddles; the BMW’s ft all of our testers well, but the Kawasaki’s cramped the style of our taller riders. The longer you sit there, the more important weather protection is, and neither bike really nails it. BMW altered the fairing on the F800 in making the GT, and it provides very good upper-body coverage, though some of our riders found that the integrated screen dumped turbulence at chin level, where it makes any helmet seem loud and blustery. Our taller riders could take it in the neck, so to speak. Aerodynamics are the Versys’ kryptonite. That tall screen, looking like a

plexiglass shovel head, did improve coverage compared to the stock piece, but no amount of fddling with the spoiler angle or even changing the rake of the whole assembly made our riders happy. It’s fair to say the Kawasaki’s conventional 649cc parallel-twin engine—with strongly oversquare bore and stroke dimensions and a 180-degree crank—gets dusted by the BMW’s more powerful engine. Judging by dyno fgures, the 798cc GT should leave the Versys for dead, considering it packs more peak horsepower (79.8 versus 58.1 bhp) and torque (54.6 versus 42.4 pound-feet). A 149cc advantage will do just that. But here’s the thing: It doesn’t feel like it. Thanks to crazy-short gearing and relatively little fywheel effect, the Versys’ liquid-cooled engine feels ever eager, ready to zing right to the 10,500-rpm redline, happy to play in the meat of the powerband between 6,000 and 9,500 rpm. By contrast, the F800’s engine, featuring BMW’s version of a 360-degreee crank using an opposed counterbalancing link to quell vibration, always feels stolid and strong, but rarely does it make you want to wring its neck. Disparate vibration characteristics might be part of this: Kawasaki’s mill uses a conventional counterbalancer but still feels a bit gritty and grunty, while what vibes get past BMW’s method are much higher frequency. The Beemer feels, at times, a bit

Te Versys’ dash is basic at best but gets the job done. It’s not a fast motorcycle, but some braided lines and grippier pads would be welcome addi­ tions to the front binders.

Zack courts AssoCiAtE Editor AGE: 29 hEiGht: 6’2” WEiGht: 185 lbs. insEAM: 34 in. The elephant in the room here is a green one; Kawasaki’s own Ninja 1000. Just $12,099 with ABS, which means the same splurges on Givi bags and heated grips would still undercut the F800GT’s price. The Ninja also makes 120 horsepower and only weighs 6 pounds more than the BMW (before adding luggage). What doesn’t come through on paper is how unintimidating the two bikes in this test feel. I would happily turn my fedgling-rider girlfriend loose on the F800GT or Versys, but not the Ninja 1000. For me, the Versys and F800 are both capable and fun, but you can’t beat the value or the “sunny disposition” (as Cook put it) of the Versys. I’m just so impressed every time I ride it. I would work on the brakes and seat frst, but luckily the base price leaves a lot of cash in your pocket. 63

My, what big bags you have. Te Versys’ Givi pods look sharp, but check out the absurdly wide mounts. It won’t keep you from carving a canyon, though.

strained and sounds like it’s revving higher than it is. You can’t deny the actual thrust, but the F-GT doesn’t seem like it’s enjoying the ride as much. When exercising the sport component of a sport-tourer, these two make surprisingly good dance partners. Even with the saddlebags brimming, the Versys keeps its light-feeling nature, bending into corners with low effort, accurate steering, charging through with far more cornering clearance than you’ll ever need and just enough poke that you don’t spend too long waiting for the next corner. Its only weakness is braking; the ancient sliding-pin, twopiston affairs up front are totally outgunned by the BMW’s ABS-backed Brembos. Where the Kawi is a nimble, slightly dirtbike-like charger through corners, the BMW refects its GT moniker with smooth (also light) steering but less willingness to be ficked over at the last second. It wants some warning but will happily fy toward the apex hard on the binders and fnd a smooth, graceful line out. Where the Versys makes up ground midcorner, the BMW responds on the brakes and with more grunt on the exit. Equally skilled riders will fnd it diffcult to create a gap until the roads turn really fast and the BMW’s 64


power advantage takes hold. Eventually, the destination appears, and how much you brought with you becomes important. BMW’s side-loading bags are just fne, thanks. The right side will hold a full-face helmet (the left has a cutout for the pipe) and both have a helpful fxed foor that keeps your stuff from fopping out as soon as you open the clamshell. Kawasaki’s system is a rebadged Givi Monokey V35, a handsome and rugged set of hard cases with 34 liters’ capacity each, besting the BMW’s by 10 liters—though you won’t get a full-face helmet to ft. We love the bags but have issues with the mounts. For some reason, Givi didn’t take advantage of the scalloped inner surfaces when designing the mounts, leaving a vast dead space between the bags and the Versys’ bodywork. That makes the setup terribly wide. As in 41.4 inches, some 2.4 inches wider than the GT’s luggage. Considering that the Versys is already tall and narrow, this setup looks comically broad from behind. How’d we do? It’s actually closer than we thought. There’s no question the BMW is a nice piece of work and very well integrated. The way the trip computer, ESA, and the heated grips are clearly part of the machine,

not afterthoughts, makes us giddy. And, save for suspension rates that could use a bit of refning, the F800GT is really well sorted mechanically. It’s undeniably capable and yet still well clear of BMW’s own larger STs in terms of cost. It easily beat the Versys on mileage, largely overcoming our objection to it carrying just 4 gallons of fuel (to the Versys’ 5). While we might cringe a little at the GT’s $14K-plus as-tested price, you can’t deny that it’s thoroughly enjoyable to live with. As for the DIY Versys ST (trademark applied for), the addition of touring-rated gear has done little to dim its sunny disposition. The Versys performs better than it should, does more than you expect, and is far more entertaining than anything in its price range should be. It neatly flls the role of unintimidating sport-tourer, capable of putting on the miles with nearly the same comfort of the BMW at a fraction of the asking price. Should Kawasaki ever decide to give the Versys a modern front brake with ABS, we’d jump around like eightyear-olds. What we ultimately discovered is that modding the Versys did nothing to dent its easygoing nature while providing a highly functional traveling companion. Here’s to all DIY projects ending so well.

BMW F800GT | $11,890 (BASE)/$14,553 (AS TESTED)



BMW F800GT: 79.8 bhp @ 8300 rpm KAWASAKI VERSYS: 58.1 bhp @ 8100 rpm

No surprises here, really. The BMW uses its displacement advantage to full effect, dusting off the poor little Versys from top

BMW F800GT: 54.6 lb.-ft. @ 5900 rpm KAWASAKI VERSYS: 42.4 lb.-ft. @ 6900 rpm

to bottom. That torque bump just beyond 5,000 rpm is hardly felt from the saddle. Notice, too, how Kawasaki’s tuning of the

649cc parallel-twin has sacrifced top-end for midrange—the torque falls steadily from the 6,900-rpm peak.


25.2 in. 12.1 in.

10.1 in.

27.2 in.

19.6 in.

Even though BMW intentionally “opened up” the F800’s rider triangle with the GT, it’s still more sport-touring than the Versys.

What isn’t so obvious from the Kawi’s numbers is the sensation that the grips are quite close. Because of the way we measure,






18.3 in.

from a fxed point at the seat, a bike with a lot of effective bar rise and a short seat/bar distance can feel a little confning.

TECH SPEC Engine type: l-c parallel-twin Valve train: DOHC, 8v Displacement: 798cc Bore x stroke: 82.0 x 75.6mm Compression: 12.0:1 Fuel system: EFI Clutch: Wet, multi-plate Transmission: 6-speed Frame: Aluminum twin-spar Front suspension: Showa 43mm fork Rear suspension: Showa shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping Front brake : Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 320mm discs with ABS Rear brake : Brembo single-piston caliper, 265mm disc with ABS Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Continental Conti Road Attack 2



Rear tire: 180/55ZR-17 Continental Conti Road Attack 2 Rake/trail: 25.8°/3.7 in. Seat height: 31.5 in. Wheelbase: 59.6 in. Fuel capacity: 4.0 gal. Weight (tank full/empty): 497/473 lbs. Measured horsepower: 79.8 bhp @ 8300 rpm Measured torque: 54.6 lb.-ft. @ 5900 rpm Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 53/41/49 mpg Colors: Valencia Orange Metallic, Light White, Dark Graphite Metallic Available: Now Warranty : 36 mo., 36,000 mi. Contact :

Engine type: l-c parallel-twin Valve train: DOHC, 8v Displacement: 649cc Bore x stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm Compression: 10.6:1 Fuel system: EFI Clutch: Wet, multi-plate Transmission: 6-speed Frame: Steel semi-double cradle Front suspension: Showa 41mm fork adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping Rear suspension: Showa shock adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping Front brake : Dual Tokico two-piston calipers, 300mm discs Rear brake : Tokico single-piston caliper, 220mm Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax D221

Rear tire: 160/60ZR-17 Dunlop Sportmax D221 Rake/trail: 25.0°/4.3 in. Seat height: 33.1 in. Wheelbase: 55.7 in. Fuel capacity: 5.0 gal. Weight (tank full/empty): 482/452 lbs. Measured horsepower: 58.1 bhp @ 8100 rpm Measured torque: 42.4 lb.-ft. @ 6900 rpm Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 46/37/41 mpg Colors: Pearl Stardust White, Candy Thunder Blue/Metallic Spark Black Available: Now Warranty : 12 mo., unlimited mi. Contact:

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD The Dunlop Proving Grounds Revealed

n an industrial park just south of Huntsville, Alabama, a yellow Dunlop fag fies in front of a nondescript two-story building. The low-key appearance gives away nothing of the signifcance of the place. In fact, this is ground zero for a massive amount of Dunlop’s testing. Sitting on 80 acres of red clay earth, the Dunlop Proving Grounds boasts a total of four miles of pavement for streetbikes, a stadiumstyle supercross track and faster motocross track for dirtbikes, and a three-mile woods course for enduros, dual-sports, and ATVs. The place is equipped to test everything from race rubber to touring tires to knobbies. The DPG is literally where Dunlop rubber frst meets the road. When the DPG’s gates frst opened in 68



S: Ari Henning PHOTOS: Dunlop

1989, it served the needs of both Dunlop’s automotive and powersports divisions. Over time, motorcycles took priority, and by 2000 the facility transitioned to two-wheel only, making it the only motorcycle-specifc proving grounds in America. When it went all bike, the layout was modifed to suit the specifc needs of motorcycle tire testing, and the current arrangement, which includes two skid pads and an encyclopedic variety of turns, allows the DPG staff to assess every aspect of a tire’s performance. What about wet testing? If the weather isn’t cooperative, in-ground sprinklers can

soak a halfmile circuit on demand. “The track was designed to do exactly what it does and that’s test tires’ performance,” Danny Roberts, Dunlop’s test manager, says. Performance testing doesn’t just entail lap times, lean angle, and courage. It also means ensuring the tires still perform acceptably when a bike is loaded to capacity, when the tires are worn, or when brands are mismatched. “You can’t test for every scenario, but we try,” he adds. “The DPG allows us to continuously develop of our own product and lets us test our competitors’ tires on a regular basis,” Roberts explains. Developing a new tire typically takes two to three years, and the DPG plays a major role in the process. Once the marketing department decides on a set

Being a test rider means suiting up and riding every day. Sure, it sounds like a dream job—until the boss says it’s time to wet-test Gold Wing tires.

Dunlop conducts the majority of its testing at the DPG (above), but travels to Homestead Miami Speedway when the Alabama weather gets too cold.

of objectives––creating an all-new tire or updating an existing model to offer more grip or better mileage––the engineers at Dunlop’s Buffalo, New York, factory produce a batch of prototypes. The beta buns are then sent to the DPG to see if they hit the target. A bull’s-eye on the frst shot is unlikely; the team might go through dozens of prototypes en route to the fnal tire design. Roberts and Senior Test Engineer Rich Conicelli are responsible for evaluating road products, while Test Engineer Clark Stiles handles off-road, supermoto, and ATV testing. Besides the riders, the DPG is home to two full-time techs who maintain a feet of testbikes. The multi-bay garage houses a range of sportbikes, various cruisers, multiple generations of Gold Wing, several dirtbikes, and a supermoto. There’s even an ex-AMA GSX-R1000 Superbike and GSX-R600 Supersport machine that the guys use for sport- and race-tire testing. The racebikes and several other motorcycles are wired for data acquisition. “It’s a lot more than just lap times,” Roberts says of sport tire testing. “We

use GPS along with a variety of other sensors to collect lots of empirical data that the engineers use to better understand our subjective comments and understand what the tires are doing in a mechanical sense. “Our evaluations focus purely on what one tires does versus another tire, and our tests are blind, so we don’t know anything about the tires except the project objective,” Roberts says. Imagine trying to identify the performance differences among tires with slightly different compounds or carcass designs–– without having any knowledge or information to go on except what you feel. “For big projects, we’ll take two or three days and test 100 tires,” Roberts says. “In the end, we’ll narrow the choices down to a few sets, and the differences among them might be so slight you could slide a piece of paper between them.” Being a professional test rider obviously takes a very specifc skill set. “All current and former Dunlop test riders have been handpicked from the racing world,” says Roberts, who left a successful AMA roadracing career to work at the DPG more than 17 years ago.

“There’s no shortage of fast guys out there, but the list thins when you start to combine all the other elements required for a good development rider,” he continues. “It takes more than just riding skill. Focus, consistency, and communication are at the top of the list. “It also takes a different mindset than just going fast,” he says. “One day we may be testing sport or race product, and the next day we could be testing touring or cruiser tires.” Danny, Rich, and Clark may be charged with testing any type of tire at any level of production, be it a consumer tire or professional race tire. (In case you somehow missed the news, Dunlop is the spec tire for AMA Pro Racing.) These three riders are responsible for evaluating about 2,500 tires a year, which means balancing up to 10 different projects at any one time. So, if you’ve ridden a bike shod with Dunlop rubber recently––whether touring tires, sport rubber, or even knobbies––you’ve had the beneft of Roberts, Conicelli, and Stiles’ experience and hard work at the Dunlop Proving Grounds. They say you’re welcome. 69

GEAR WORDS: Zack Courts

PHOTOS: Joe Neric

GET THE JOB DONE Utilitarian Equipment

RACING EASY 01 MOOSE 02 GIVI TOURER HELMET POUR FLEX SPOUT Yes, it’s the same company that makes luggage. Available overseas already, Givi lids have just landed Stateside. The chin bar and off-road visor can be removed, while a drop-down sun visor and a Pinlock-ready shield are standard. That’s a lot of versatility for $329.

Double threads designed to ft most containers and a handy plug for the end means this 9.25-inch fexible spout could be the best $8 you spend in your shop.



With enough power to jump-start your truck, boat, and bike in the same day—so we’re told—the XP1 is a good friend to have. It can also charge your phone or be used as a fashlight. And it’s small (roughly 6 x 3 x 1 inches and 14 ounces). It won’t make coffee or balance your checkbook, but for $130 that’s getting greedy.

SUMMER BASE LAYER 04 TWISTEDCORE Base-layer company TwistedCore is serious about motorsports underwear. As in, it’s all it does, with warm- and cold-weather compression garments designed to help keep you comfortable. Prices range from $40 to $60.








Swivel hooks, ratcheting cinches, carabiner hooks, and soft loops mean these straps incorporate all of the little conveniences that make hauling a bike easier. Load ratings vary depending on the width of the strap, as do prices. $30–$50.

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It’s not a taillight, it’s a battery. Sena’s solution to slimming the main unit (left) is to move the battery to the back of the helmet.


PHOTOS: Sena & Marc Cook

otorcycle communicators are handy as hell. We love them for listening to music or talk radio on the daily commute, and they make long-distance travel with companions just that much more, well, companionable. But they aren’t always stylish. Even the slimmer modern units can make your helmet look like it’s ready for minor cosmetic surgery. Sena’s SMH10R tackles the style issue with a “distributed” system whose main controller is but half an inch thick. This rectangular pod, which can be attached to the helmet with double-sided adhesive or hookand-loop tape, is the biggest piece you see and the only piece you touch. How did Sena do this? A small battery pack clings to the back of the helmet, placing one of the largest bits of technology outside the main housing. Clever, very clever. Installation in a Shoei Neotec was straightforward, complicated only slightly by the extra wire for the battery and the very slim connectors you need to accommodate in your helmet’s liner. While some systems are largely hardwired to the mounting base, all of the SMH10R’s three cable sets—for stereo speakers, a choice of wired or boom 72


microphone, and battery—have inline connectors. You’ll want to route them carefully, and we recommend that you tape them together to prevent separation at an inopportune time. Sena gives you a variety of mounting options, including a boom and wired microphone in the base package, plus two large speakers with removable backing pads you can insert to bring them closer to your ears. Smaller speakers are an option. Ergonomically, the 10R pays for its slimness, but not too much. You have just three buttons to command volume, music choice, intercom activation, and track selection. For the most part, Sena has worked the compromises very well. A quick tap on the “+” button increases volume, but a longer push advances music tracks; same deal for the “-” button. The center button starts and stops music and/or intercom conversations, accepts or rejects phone calls, and enters the voice-prompted navigation menu. Amazingly, the 10R’s layout works well with most gloves because the ridges bracketing the center button are easy to fnd. Although it’s small, the SMH10R provides big noise in your helmet, thanks to large speakers and plenty of amplifer power.

Music streamed from your Bluetooth device sounds great, as does bike-to-bike chatter. Communication clarity is good, though the SMH10R has less aggressive auto-volume control than some other communicators, so you hear some of your riding mate’s wind noise when you leave the channel open. Battery life varies by usage. If you’re simply streaming audio from a Bluetooth device, it’s easy to make the claimed eight-hour life. But if you’re doing that as well as keeping a channel open to a fellow rider, that fgure is tough to achieve. On a weeklong trip with the SMH10R communicating with as many as three other Sena units simultaneously, we averaged 6.5 hours of use before the battery cried uncle. And when you get the audio warning of “battery low,” you have just a few seconds to alert your fellow riders before the unit shuts down. A bit more warning would be helpful. Give us some more range while you’re at it, Sena. The book says about half a mile, but we couldn’t always duplicate that, especially in mountainous terrain. Bluetooth signals are strongly line of sight, so that’s not a surprise, but the bigger Sena units do better. Still, we like the system’s performance overall; any price it pays for a svelte form is totally worth it.

SENA SMH10R COMMUNICATOR Price: $219 each/$399 two-rider set Contact: Sena Technologies

VERDICT Cleverly packaged, affordable, and capable communicator packs a lot of volume for the volume.

MC GaraGe

A Complete Guide To Living With Your Motorcycle

Sell it yourSelf Turn Your Bike Into Bucks WORDS: Jerry Smith

PHOTOS: Joe Neric, Michelle Storey & Ari Henning

t was fun while it lasted––or maybe it wasn’t, which is why you’re selling it––but it’s time for you and your bike to go your separate ways. Yours is just one of many for sale, though, so how do you make it stand out? First, price it reasonably. See what similar offerings are going for. Check online sources such as Kelley Blue Book as well as locally listed prices by individuals. And then try to stay in the ballpark. Don’t expect to get back every dollar you spent on accessories; there are plenty of stock examples buyers can purchase for less and accessorize themselves. Ask for more than you’ll settle for to give you and the buyer some wiggle room. Don’t say “Price is frm!” in the ad. That’s code for, “I’m a stubborn SOB, and I won’t come down a penny on my price even if it blows the sale.” 74


Next, wash and detail it. Remove spots of rust on chrome, and buff out small paint scratches. Use spray wax/cleaner on the plastic and rubber parts, and clean the dead bugs and road grime off the windscreen. Clean the chain and sprockets. Take a moment to wonder if maybe you should keep your nowvery-clean bike, and then check the engine oil and tire pressures. Don’t forget to take personal items out of fairing pockets and underseat storage trays. Take some good photos of your bike, don’t steal them. Snagging an image off the manufacturer’s website and using it instead of a shot of your own bike makes you look lazy and causes buyers to wonder what you’re hiding. Shoot your photos outdoors against an uncluttered background on a sunny day. Wet pavement and dark clouds dampen the excitement you want a buyer to feel about buying your bike. If you’re selling on a site that lets you

Complete service records are worth their weight in gold when it comes time to sell your bike. Keep all your receipts as proof that your bike was properly cared for. post more than one photo, shoot both sides of the bike and detail photos of noteworthy accessories as well as obvious faws. A photo of the odometer is a plus. Write an honest ad. It’s fne to brag about the accessories you’ve added, but don’t leave out the defects. It’s better for the buyer to know what’s in store right up front than to get a nasty shock after a long drive to see the bike. Include the mileage, how many miles are left on the tires, when the battery was last replaced, the last time the engine was tuned up, and any non-service parts like fork seals

Don’t shy away from showing damage on any bike you’re trying to sell. It shows the buyer you’re honest and avoids unwelcome surprises when the deal goes down. or clutch-cover gaskets you replaced. List any extras you have like the owner’s manual, the shop manual, the tool kit, any spare parts, and whether you have a clear title. If you own the bike outright, have the title on hand and ready for the buyer to sign, along with a couple of bills of sale—one for each of you. (Many state DMVs have these forms to download.) Otherwise, meet the buyer at your bank or credit union and do the deal there. If it’s a cash transaction, do it in a public place during the day, and bring a friend. Nothing says potential rip-off like meeting a stranger at night behind a convenience store. Read up on wire-transfer scams and other bogus-money cons paid for by checks drawn on the Banks of the Mississippi and cosigned by a Nigerian prince. Another popular con involves the buyer asking you to ship the bike to some far-off land or to accept a dubious money order for more than the asking price and refund the difference in cash. Just don’t. Trust your instincts here. If something seems fshy, it almost certainly is. If you’re shipping the bike or dealing with someone out of state, vet the buyer. Ask if you have any mutual acquaintances or belong to the same web forums or organizations. Use Facebook and the Internet to see whether the person behind the e-mail signature or the voice at the other end of the phone is a buyer or a scammer. As the saying goes, “You trust your mother, but you cut the cards anyway.” Decide whether to allow test rides. You might not have a choice. Check to see if your insurance covers you if the buyer tosses your bike down the road. A potential buyer who shows up with proper riding gear is a better risk than someone in fip-fops and a tank top. Insist on holding the full cash price in your hand before you give anyone a test ride.

Buy, Buy, BaBy

Where To Find Your Sell Mate WORDS: Jerry Smith

PHOTO: The Fabulous Internet

he motorcycle you’re selling could be the best deal on two wheels, but if all you do is park it in front of your house with a “For Sale” sign on it, it might be a vintage bike by the time it sells. Getting the word out is essential, and every method has pitfalls as well as advantages. Here’s a rundown of the top contenders: The 800-pound gorilla of online commerce, eBay Motors, uses a bidding format and time-limited sales with the intention of driving prices up and buyers into a “gotta have it” frenzy. But its worldwide reach isn’t ideal for selling large things like motorcycles. The expense and complication of getting a bike to a distant buyer can make it a better place to sell mint-condition Boba Fett action fgures than your beater GS850. Compared to the button-down eBay, Craigslist is the Wild West. The ads are free, there are no fees to pay after the sale, and

the prospects are usually local so you meet them face to face. You and the buyer can haggle over the price—a good or bad thing, depending on how well you bargain—but without eBay’s time limit there’s no real sense of urgency to make buyers reach for their checkbooks. Craigslist can be a scam magnet, too, attracting crooks the way honey attracts fies. Consigning your bike with a dealer guarantees a steady stream of potential buyers fling past it. The dealer does all the paperwork, arranges fnancing if necessary, and charges you a percentage of the fnal sale price. But there’s still more incentive to steer customers to new bikes. Last, and almost certainly least, there’s the classifed section of the newspaper. But before you place an ad, ask yourself when the last time was that you read a newspaper. Can’t remember? The same goes for buyers. 75

MC GaraGe Street Savvy

Taking iT WiTh You How To Be Leader Of The Pack WORDS: Jerry Smith

PHOTOS: Motorcyclist Archives, Karel Kramer & Thomas Kinzer

otorcycle travel at its best is all about hitting the road with the bare essentials, but “essentials” is open to a wide variety of interpretations. For some riders, it means packing a toothbrush, a bivy bag, and a credit card. For others, it’s an espresso machine, a Barnum & Bailey Big Top Series Clowndominium, and an unmarked support vehicle following at a discreet distance. Either way, you’re going to load at least some of your gear onto your bike, and how you do it can make the difference between a tour to write home about and one that’s a total write-off. First, gather your gear together and weed out the unnecessary items. The traveler’s rule of thumb is to take half the clothes and twice the money you think you’ll need. Pack sneakers or sandals for off-bike wear, but don’t pack both. Bring lightweight synthetic clothes that can be 76


washed in a motel sink and dried overnight. Rolling up your clothes instead of folding them makes them easier to pack and reduces wrinkles. You can’t plan for everything the road or the weather might throw at you, so don’t bother trying. If you forget something important, remember the old touring rider’s trick of rubbing a Walmart and a Visa card together. Some items, notably cold- and foulweather gear, typically migrate in and out of luggage during a trip, so leave room for them. Before you pack for a trip, set aside the bare minimum of riding gear you’d wear at any time. Now pack your extra riding gear, clothes, personal items, and tools. If you break out the heated vest along the way, don’t be tempted to stow a package of smoked salmon in the empty space it left; you’ll want to repack the vest once the weather warms up. What to bring is a matter of preference; where to pack it on the bike is a matter of physics. In general, you want as much of the

Don’t forget the tools, and don’t trust the stock kit to cover the bases. At a minimum you should carry a tire plug kit (with air canisters) and tools to adjust the controls.

Surprise, surprise, this GS rider is doing it right. Top-loading, aluminum saddlebags and an auxiliary dry-bag mean lots of secure, waterproof storage.

Quick Facts


the huge pockets in some riding jackets and pants might tempt you to leave your hardbags or soft luggage at home for short rides. But there’s no armor behind those pockets, and if you fall on your cell phone, digital camera, hard eyeglass case, or other non-yielding accoutrements, they’ll tenderize you like a cheap steak. the same goes for items in backpacks or waist pouches. Be smart. use a little caution here. load as is practical to be positioned between the axles, as low as possible. Carrying a heavy load in a top box that hangs above and behind the taillight can have an interesting effect on handling, where “interesting” can mean the same thing as “terrifying.” But you don’t always have a choice, especially if you’re riding two-up, so do your best and try to balance the load from side to side. Weigh the contents of the saddlebags on a bathroom scale and shift them around until they’re close to the same weight, with heavy things in the bottom toward the front of the bags and light stuff on top. Protect fragile items like sunglasses and digital cameras with feece bags or padded cases, and pack them on top of whatever bag you put them in. Put that tube of sunscreen and your travel bottle of shampoo in ziplock bags in case they leak; ziplocks make great organizers, too. A small travel duffel or a backpack will let you take valuables with you and can be folded up and packed away in very little space. Once you get your packing act together, take your fully loaded bike on a test ride to make sure everything stays where you put it and that where you put everything is a good place for it. Check for contents that shifted and luggage straps that loosened, and pay special attention to how the added weight changes your bike’s handling. A loaded bike takes longer to stop, will have reduced cornering clearance, and won’t be as agile in emergency situations. Increase your tire pressures, and dial in some suspension preload to compensate for the added weight. Check the headlight alignment, too. More weight on the back of the bike may tilt the headlight beam upward into the eyes of oncoming drivers. Okay, now you’re ready. Go!

Vexing VFR WORDS: Jerry Smith

PHOTOS: Motorcyclist Archives

My ’96 VFR was in a tip-over a few years ago, and I had the front end completely rebuilt. Now the handlebars are slightly tilted to the right when going straight. When I take my hands off the bars at speed, the bike tracks like a freight train. The only thing I notice is the slight tilt to the bar and top clamp, which drives me crazy. I also noticed that the swingarm hits the left footpeg bracket. Could it be bent? Is there an attachment for the swingarm that could be bent, or could the frame be bent? Any thoughts? Alex Brofsky New York, NY The swingarm and the footpeg bracket shouldn’t touch; the bracket was probably bent in the tip-over you mention. It’s unlikely the swingarm or frame are bent because the bike tracks straight. Best guess is the fork tubes are twisted slightly in the triple clamps. If that’s the case, your best bet is to loosen the triple clamp pinch bolts slightly—not too much or

the tubes will slide up in the clamps—and attempt to twist the front end back into alignment. If that doesn’t work or sounds a bit too crude, most suspension shops have the equipment to check your chassis alignment and get you back on track. I bought a rear tire for my 1993 Honda Nighthawk 750 on eBay. It’s an MRF Nylogrip Zapper Q made in India. The tire doesn’t state whether it can be run tubeless, and I’ve been unable to get any information about it. It worked fne at frst, but now it doesn’t hold air. Would it be safe to put a tube in it? Bruce Rettig Carlos, MN The Zapper Q is made by MRF, which, according to the company’s website, started out making toy balloons in 1946. There’s no indication that any of its motorcycle tires are DOT legal. Put an approved tire on your Nighthawk and turn the Zapper Q into a tire swing. 77

MC GaraGe Doin’ Time

STafferS’ riDeS

PHoToS: Kevin Wing & Marc Cook

Honda NC700X WRIST: Marc Cook MSRP (2012): $6,999 MILES: 10,373 MPG: 57 MODS: Nothing new

onda has offcially called time on my NC700X, and it’s been an educational nine months. The NC has been all over California, as well as into Arizona and New Mexico to support our big sport-touring comparo last year. Plus, it’s carved a deep groove into Interstate 405 between Long Beach and El Segundo, a trip of about 19 miles that the bike probably knows by heart. Those inevitable modifcations I subjected the NC to have been chronicled here before—and I’ll offer a recap shortly—but it’s worth talking about the X’s maintenance picture frst. Although, frankly, there isn’t much of one to talk about. I performed exactly one maintenance event while I had it, the 8,000-mile service, which was totally anticlimactic. 78


Yep, that’s a shot chain. While the NC’s 520 O-ring chain didn’t stretch much over the course of 10,000 miles, it did get very tight in places despite regular service.

From the Unintended Consequences department: Te NC’s accessory luggage has its own small key, which frequently got trapped in the frunk lid. Grrrr.

As the bike went back with just over 10,000 miles, it still felt pretty fresh and new. The engine was as strong as ever, and hadn’t burned or leaked or otherwise jettisoned so much as a thimbleful of oil. Over these miles, the NC has returned very good mileage: lifetime 57 mpg, low of 39, and a high of 76. For that matter, the slick-shifting manual trans and conventional, cable-operated clutch felt as new. But the bike’s stock chain was cooked, with many tight spots. I’m often asked about the Dual Clutch Transmission-versus-manual option on the

NC. Remember that for the 2012 model year DCT and ABS were a $2,000 premium. In attempting to appease my inner cheapskate and preserve every millimeter of performance, I took the conventional gearbox. Today, the price difference is $1,000 (the DCT model is $8,499), and with 10,000 miles of hindsight in my pocket, I would choose the DCT if I had to do it all over again. Part of that decision rides on ABS, which I fnd to be nearly a musthave feature for a daily rider (especially where I ride), and part rides on the temperament of the NC’s engine. It’s fne with a row-your-own

MC GaraGe Doin’ Time gearbox, but the low redline and dullbut-functional torque curve really work best with the automatic. I’d believe it if somebody at Honda admitted the NC engine was designed expressly for the automatic, not the manual. Plus, DCT would give me ABS and the added beneft of a third caliper piston up front. Put bluntly, the NC’s front brake is inadequate for the weight of the bike, forcing you to use more of the rear and become conservative about stopping distances. Installing EBC Double-H sintered brake pads during the term helped, but did not cure, the NC’s basic lack of “whoa.” The mods I tried that paid off were the Puig Touring windscreen—bigger than stock but not as large and turbulenceinducing as the Honda accessory part— and Bridgestone BT-023 sport-touring tires, though I’d hoped for more than 4,900 miles on the rear before squaring off. Honda’s heated grips were fantastic, as were the Twisted Throttle Denali LED driving lights. I used the Honda-proffered 45-liter top trunk almost every day but hardly touched the hard saddlebags (29 liters between them). The centerstand and 12-volt outlet in the frunk were indispensable—as was the frunk itself, a wonderfully useful feature. Seats, in a nutshell: Stock is fne for local riding but miserable on long trips thanks to its slippery cover and forward tilt. The heavy, heated Corbin had exactly the right shape but was overly frm and simply didn’t ft the bike well. The last seat, SHAD’s “comfort seat,” is an improvement over stock—great shape, well built—but is slightly too softly padded for my taste. I’m starting to sound picky about seats, aren’t I? At the beginning of this long-term relationship, I wondered if Honda’s new-tech NC would suit experienced riders as well as those new (and newly returning) to the sport. The answer for the vets: not quite. No doubt Honda is working on new iterations of the NC idea. My suggestions for success: Keep the frunk, give me 80-plus horsepower and real brakes, and I’ll sign on for another nine months. At least. 80


STafferS’ riDeS

PHoToS: aaron Frank

BMW R1200GS WRIST: Aaron Frank MSRP (2013): $19,520 (as tested) MILES: 3,441 MPG: 39 MODS: BMW engine oil & filter, Wunderlich tank bag

m piling miles on this GS faster than I expected because it’s such a fun and forgiving bike to cover long distances on. In fact, I just racked up another 750 miles with a quick overnight trip to see a friend on the Lake Superior shore. Because, well, why not? So many hot, hard highway miles meant the next oil change was long overdue. Genuine BMW products are expensive: 4 quarts of the recommended, full-synthetic 5w-40 and a flter cost $60.13—about $20 more than what I usually pay someone else to change the oil in my van. At least it was easy to change. Just fve bolts drop the skid plate, then drain and fll. (And woo-hoo for centerstands!) The new water boxer might be more complex, but it’s still one of the most serviceable engines on the planet—at least in terms of access. Because the 2013 bikes beat the factory hard bags to the States by a few weeks, my testbike was delivered without luggage— a major shortcoming on such a great

Wunderlich’s Elephant tank bag uses a model-specifc baseplate ($75) to protect the bike and ensure a secure ft with no annoying straps left to fap in the wind. traveling machine. I’m still weighing my aftermarket saddlebag options (so many to choose from!), but in the meantime, I installed Wunderlich America’s Elephant tank bag (;$249). It’s been years since I’ve used tank bags, and I’d forgotten how convenient these are for keeping wallets, phones, and other essentials close at hand. Wunderlich’s been making tank bags for 25 years, so not a single detail is overlooked. Made in Germany from waterproof Cordura and fnished with water-resistant zippers, the Elephant performs in all conditions. It’s expandable from a useful 15 to an extra-useful 25 liters, features a large interior pocket plus two side-organizer pockets, and has shock cords on the top to keep your gloves from falling off when you stop. Sure beats a backpack!


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MC GaraGe Doin’ Time STafferS’ riDeS


Paint For those Minor Nicks and Scratches

Harley-davidSon FLD SwitChbaCk WRIST: Joe Neric MSRP (2012): $17,579 MILES: 15,732 MPG: 38 MODS: EBC Double-H sintered brake pads

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PHoTo: Mendel yano

ince taking on the FLD Switchback as a long-term testbike, I’ve complained about poor stopping performance. Well, I fnally did something about it. One call to EBC Brakes and a set of Double-H sintered brake pads showed up (; $38.74/caliper). I was told that a change of pads would help braking, and I was eager to slap them in and test them. But frst I needed to establish a baseline with the stock pads. I didn’t want to go by subjective impressions alone. For my stopping tests, I chose a speed of 40 mph. To measure the distance from the braking point to where the bike came to a complete stop, I asked the wife to stand behind a cone marking the onset of braking and shoot me in the back with my laser range fnder to record the distance. I performed seven runs, eliminated the longest and shortest, and then averaged the fve remaining. On stock brake pads, stopping from 40 mph (with the ABS operational) averaged 66 feet; within the fve retained runs, the shortest was 60

feet and the longest was 69 feet. Installation of the pads was simple enough: Remove the old, install the new, and off I went. EBC recommends 250 miles to break in new pads, but to be honest, I started noticing a difference by the time I got home from my 25-mile commute. The pads provide noticeably better feel and much stronger bite. What came next really surprised me. After the break-in period, I duplicated the test—including the time of day and, by pure luck, even ambient temperature. Same tires, same rider, same street. The surprise? My average stopping distance dropped to 42 feet. Ladies and gentlemen, that is a difference of 27 feet or about a third shorter. At frst, I was convinced I had been doing something wrong with the test and had to start over. After seven runs, we got the same stopping distance with a plus/minus spread of 3 feet. So, just to drill it home, the 27 feet is actually an average of 12 runs. That is, in my opinion, compelling evidence. Ideally, the FLD would have more front brake right from the factory. Months ago, I spoke with Gene Thomason, accomplished Harley tuner, about the FLD’s brakes. He said, “You could put another disc on the front. But you’d have to get a new wheel, fnd a way to mount another caliper, and get a different master cylinder. At that point, why wouldn’t you just get a Road Glide?” It’s getting time to start wrapping up my long-term test with the old Switchback. Stay tuned for the fnal installment next month.

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MC GaraGe Doin’ Time

PHoTo: ari Henning

duCaTi MuLtiStRaDa 1200S WRIST: Zack Courts MSRP (2013): $19,995 MILES: 6,000(ish) MPG: 41 MODS: Range Rover bumper

ith all the talk about modifcations to the Multistrada, I fnally made one—though not one I had in mind. A seemingly innocuous

slow-down in freeway traffc turned into a violent rear-end impact with a Range Rover. I’m a cautious rider on the freeway, and yet nearly 3 tons of sport-ute managed to sneak up on me. Not a lot to be learned, as far as I can tell, except that I can always be more diligent, and as Ari keeps reminding me, “motorcycles are dangerous.” We do what we can to manage risk, but it’s always there. The bike’s damage is more signifcant than my own. Sadly, I think the Range Rover will be the last thing the mighty Multi will ever see. Time waits for no man but does hold up for insurance companies, so here I wait. With any luck we’ll be able to get our hands on another Multistrada in order to test the handful of options I had in mind. Comfort, all the wheelies you like, and more than 40 mpg make for a great combination, and I’m disappointed that I revoked my own privileges. While I’m counting myself lucky, I’ll count down the days until I hear back from Ducati.

STafferS’ riDeS

PHoTo: ari Henning

TriuMPH SPEED tRiPLE R WRIST: Ari Henning MSRP (2013): $15,999 MILES: 2,973 MPG: 46 MODS: Maxima Extra4 oil, Triumph oil filter ometimes it can be hard to get away from the offce, but we can always rely on one event to get us out on the road for a few days: the MotoGP event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In preparation for the trip, I gave the Triple a thorough once-over. Shifting had become sticky, so I fgured it was time for an oil change. The Triumph’s drain plug is accessible, but the oil flter resides within a recess in the oil pan, so a flter wrench is a must. With a new flter installed (see your dealer; $13.34) and the crankcase full of Maxima Extra4 synthetic oil (maximausa. com; $16.50/liter), the Speed shifted smoother and was ready for the journey to that mecca of motorsports in Monterey. I rode north with Marc, Zack, and Sport Rider ’s Bradley Adams. We blitzed some of Southern California’s best back roads, including Highway 58 and, one of my personal favorites, Nacimiento-Fergusson Road. It begins in Fort Hunter Liggett and passes over the Santa Lucia Range and through the Ventana Wilderness before depositing you on the Pacifc Coast Highway near Big Sur. It’s the kind of variety that makes you appreciate versatile bikes like the Speed Triple. The fnal stretch offers some of the best views of the coast. The ride to Monterey only accounts for about 350 miles of the nearly 2,000 that I’ve put on the bike since my last update. There was far more to the trip; check back next month for the full report.

MC GaraGe Smart money

2005–2012 Triumph Speed Triple 1050 WORDS: Jerry Smith

PHOTOS: Motorcyclist Archives

riumph reached way back in the corporate family album to come up with the Speed Triple’s nameplate––to the 1938 Speed Twin, in fact–– but the most recent bike to sport the Speed moniker bears little resemblance to the 498cc parallel-twin that passed for a performance bike in its day. The frst Speed Triple hit these shores in 1995 with an 885cc three-cylinder powerplant. A displacement boost to 955cc and fuel injection contributed to power increases over the years, until in 2005 the Speed Triple 1050 debuted, the fourth generation of a bike that many riders consider the essence of a streetfghter. Streetfghters trace their ancestry back to crashed sportbikes that were returned to the road sans expensive bodywork. The 1050’s blunt rear end, stubby muffers, and twin round headlights give it the air of a prop left over from the last Mad Max epic, and the engine does nothing to dispel the bike’s in-your-face appearance. (Are you lookin’ at me?) Grab a handful of throttle, and torque pours out of the triple like water out of a bucket. There’s enough vibration to let you know you’re riding a motorcycle, 86


Cheers Torquey engine, lots of power. The right stuff and not much more. Jeers No wind protection. Luggage? You’ve got pockets. WatCh For Electrical woes, spotty maintenance, weak batteries. VerdiCt Great engine, fne chassis, no excess baggage. Reminds you why you ride. Value 2005 | $5575 2006 | $5975 2007 | $6470 2008 | $6930 2009 | $7460 2010 | $7985 2011 | $8565 2012 | $9145

Buying Smart intelligent buyers do their research before looking at bikes. But just because you know a certain model has issues is no reason to beat the other guy over the head with it. Bringing up the bike’s potential faws right away to hammer the price down often makes the seller dig in and refuse to negotiate. instead, bring printouts from internet forums discussing the problem, hand them to the seller, and casually bring them up later when you make your offer.

but not so much that you want to stop. The sixspeed gearbox seems like overkill––you could get by with four. If the Speed Triple is a thug, it’s a welldressed one, with an inverted fork, twin discs, four-piston calipers up front, and a single-sided swingarm holding a fat rear tire. Handling is on par with power, which is to say unsubtle but exciting. A hefty curb weight could make the Speed a handful in the corners, so for 2011 Triumph revised the brute, tightening up chassis geometry and shedding weight, most notably from the wheels. Later, in 2012, the R-model Speed Triple appeared with forged wheels, Öhlins suspension, and Brembo brakes. Suffce it to say, later models offer better performance and handling. The only thing to keep you from a 2011 or newer Speed is an aversion to those funky headlights, or a desire for a more affordable ride. It’s no surprise that the bare-bones Speed Triple is a blank canvas for aftermarket mods. Short, sporty windscreens are common add-ons, as are non-stock exhausts, but unless an ECU remap is done at the same time, performance can suffer. Handlebar kits won’t lessen the windblast, but the added leverage is welcome in corners. Seat modifcations are popular, despite the bike’s long-haul shortcomings––even streetfghters need a comfortable place to sit between bouts. The 1050’s reliability record is good but not perfect. Stator failures and regulator/ rectifer issues occur often enough that it’s worthwhile to ask if there are any sparkless episodes in the bike’s past. Coolant level in the reservoir tank sometimes drops without warning or apparent cause, but instances of engine overheating as a result are hard to fnd. The lack of plastic bodywork makes it easier to spot leaks. Frame sliders are a common addition to streetfghters like the 1050, but if they’re actually scuffed you’re well advised to fnd out why. Look for crash damage, non-stock running gear, and chain stretch––hooligans aren’t famous for scrupulous maintenance.


Barry Winfield Photo: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Wheel envy ecently, while enjoying warm hospitality in the Mazda suite at the Red Bull MotoGP event in Monterey, I was reminded of an occasion several years back in the same place for the same event. It was while watching the throngs awaiting Valentino Rossi’s appearance and other crazy paddock activities, like Colin Edwards fring T-shirts from a CO2-powered launcher, that Mazda’s then-PR manager Jay Amestoy wondered how some of this frantic enthusiasm could be captured by the car business. Notwithstanding millions of pretty excitable Formula 1 fans around the world, it’s a fair question. The passion for motorcycles is remarkable in its intensity and tenacity. It’s something different than the devotion shown by four-wheel motorsport fans. And perhaps that’s why Audi, of all companies, was inspired to purchase Ducati last year. But what was in it for Mazda? Yes, the company has quite a stake in the eponymous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and it often hosts vehicle introductions at the track. But that doesn’t quite explain why the company would fy guests to the Red Bull MotoGP event and put them up on Cannery Row. I mean, it has nothing to do with cars. So I asked the new PR manager Jeremy Barnes what was behind it. “It’s a global event,” he said. “There are millions of people watching the race on TV, and they get to see all the Mazda signs everywhere around the track. Also, you should remember that we have special dispensation from various offciating bodies to run blue-and-white curbs. Those are Mazda’s colors. Every other track in the world has to run with red-and-white curbing. Wherever you are, when you see the blue-andwhite curbs, you know right away where the race is being held.” Okay, that sounds reasonable. Associate world-class motorsport with the Mazda brand, and it assumes a prominence that might not be possible with the company’s normal

Car companies like Audi—which recently purchased Ducati—and Mazda—title sponsor of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca—are attracted to the passion and prestige of MotoGP racing. advertising presence. And every motorcyclist is a potential car buyer. Don’t know about you, but I’m inclined to support companies that sponsor my favorite racing series. Audi’s purchase of Ducati was much more about getting into the bike business, but was it sound business strategy or a romantic impulse purchase? After reading a little about the matter, I’m inclined to think that Audi bought Ducati for its coolness factor. In the automotive realm, it’s a drop in the bucket, even if Ducati’s revenues are higher than Audi’s boutique brands like Bugatti and Lamborghini. Ducati’s use of common mechanicals in widely disparate model applications might have reminded Audi of its own brilliant platform strategies, which made economical use of existing technologies across a wide variety of brands and models. There’s been some talk about shared technologies between bikes and cars, but we haven’t seen any such collaboration between Audi and Ducati—yet. Even Ducati’s iconic desmodromic valve

system is unlikely to fnd application in the car world. Accurate control of valve events at super-high rpm with relatively low parasitic losses (compared with conventional valve springs) is all very well, but modern cars don’t need it. The emphasis in the car world is on economy and emissions control. Ducati, on the other hand, has the opportunity to borrow technology from Audi. Starting with direct-injection fueling, where Audi has a ton of experience. Audi also knows a lot about aluminum structures, aerodynamics, turbocharging, emissions control, and electric propulsion. For sure, Audi has never been timid about the path less traveled. One credible theory about Audi’s investment in Ducati refers to the giant VW group’s amazing income and its need to invest some of the profts rather than doling cash out to shareholders. Instead of coughing up $1.12 billion to the investor class, Audi now owns a cool Italian motorcycle marque. That sounds like a great justifcation for the buy, but I prefer to think it was Audi’s way of answering Jay’s question.

MOTORCYCLIST (ISSN 0027-2205) November 2013, issue 1400 is published monthly by Bonnier Corporation, 2 Park Avenue, 10th Fl, New York, NY 10016. Copyright @ 2013 by Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and additional mailing offces. Subscription rates for one year (12 issues): U.S. and U.S. Possessions $18; Canada $30; International $42. International order must be paid in advance and in U.S. funds only. POSTMASTER: Send all address corrections to: MOTORCYCLIST, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. CANADA POST: Publications Mail Agreement Number: 40612608. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: IMEX, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2. 90




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