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  1. What a gem: the Street Twin’s Cobalt Blue brings the price up to $9,995. (Triumph/)Ups Lovely and approachable 270-degree crank parallel-twin enginePredictable handling via a well-developed, stable chassisThick, comfortable seatNice attention to detail with aluminum accentsDowns Annoying gas cap and delay in fuel level display after fill-upFor the price you’d think the Street Twin would have full LED lightingEngine heat and vibrationVerdict If a motorcycle with a sensible and friendly engine, predictable handling, comfortable seating, and classic looks checks all the right boxes for you, and you don’t mind paying a somewhat premium price, then the Triumph Street Twin is a great option. Overview The Street Twin is one of the top-selling modern classics in Triumph’s lineup. Introduced in 2016, the bike pairs classic styling with an engine that is agreeable to a wide variety of riders. Significant updates were made in 2019, while more changes were made this year to improve its engine and further refine comfort and quality. These changes go a step further in helping the bike attract a widespread following. Currently, Triumph uses “Street” in its model names to indicate that a lower-displacement engine is used than in the higher-powered “Speed” models (though we may see a change in Triumph’s naming conventions in 2023). The Street Twin is powered by Triumph’s 900cc parallel-twin engine. A 270-degree firing order and ample low- to midrange torque give this engine an engaging character. Pair that with the bike’s classic design and excellent fit and finish for a sensible, if somewhat pricey, Street Twin. The Street Twin EC1 Special Edition gives a nod to the moto culture of London’s East End. (Triumph/)Updates for 2022 The Street Twin’s engine is now Euro 5 compliant. Other updates include a thicker foam seat, new cast wheels with machine detailing, new bodywork, and brushed aluminum detailing. Pricing and Variants The 2022 Street Twin’s price ranges from $9,695 to $9,995, depending on color; choices are Jet Black, Cobalt Blue, or Matte Ironstone. Anglophiles will be stoked; the Twin also comes in the EC1 special edition ($10,445). The name comes from the custom moto culture in London, specifically within the historic district of London, the postal code for which is EC1. Competition There are many manufacturers riding the retro-style wave. Shoppers have a mix of modern and retro-styled bikes to look at, including the Honda CB650R, Royal Enfield INT650, Suzuki SV650, Moto Guzzi V7, Yamaha XSR700, Kawasaki W800, or the new-for-2022 Z650RS. The negative space between the parallel twin and tubular steel frame is quite attractive. (Triumph/)Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance A 900cc parallel twin (now Euro 5 compliant) is as easily controlled as it is fantastically engaging. There’s a ride-by-wire throttle for precise response and a five-speed gearbox with a wet, multiplate, and torque-assist clutch for smooth gear changes. The 270-degree crank delivers loads of character and the engine’s power is concentrated in the low to mid-rpm range. In fact, over 50 pound-feet of torque is delivered between 2,750 and 6,000 rpm as indicated on its dyno chart. Overall, the engine produces 60.1 hp at 6,880 rpm and 55.6 pound-feet of torque at 3,700 rpm. This is plenty to carry the bike well through twists and turns and is very user-friendly from stoplight to stoplight. Nothing is perfect, though, and there are a couple of complaints with this engine. First, engine heat begins to toast the rider’s right shin after about 40 minutes of riding. Second, vibrations tend to creep into the pegs at around 5,500 rpm. Fortunately, the vibration doesn’t make its way into the handlebar. A single 310mm disc and four-piston caliper at the front slow the Twin down. (Triumph/)Handling Bring on miles of winding roads. The Street Twin tackles any type of curved road, switchbacks or sweepers alike, with confidence. The rider can pick a line and stay there thanks to the bike’s predictable handling and stable double-cradle steel-tube frame. KYB suspension at both ends plays a supporting role in the bike’s good backroad manners. The 41mm fork and dual shocks keep the bike settled in the turns, and both ends are planted. That said, the shocks’ compression setting is slightly stiff and rebound is quick, causing a slight bucking on sharp bumps. Both ends have a moderate 4.7 inches of travel. Brakes No brand loyalty when it comes to brake calipers. The Twin has Brembo and Nissin calipers front and rear, respectively, and the Brembo caliper grabs the 310mm disc with a determined bite. Although the Nissin/255mm rear disc combo gets the job done, more pressure must be applied to the rear brake pedal than anticipated to get the same level of performance. Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG The Street Twin gets an average of 50.7 mpg. A one-piece bench seat is thick and comfortable for extended periods of time. (Triumph/)Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility The Triumph’s well-padded single-piece seat is nice on the glutes, comfortable for many hours of riding with ample room to adjust and shift as needed. Because there is so much real estate here, two-up riding is very manageable. The handlebar places the rider in an upright riding position; the pegs, which made for a slightly cramped ride for our 6-foot-tall rider, offer a relaxed bend at the knee for most folks. Seat height is an accessible 30.1 inches. Electronics The Street Twin is retro in style but blends in some modern tech, coming standard with switchable traction control, ABS, two ride modes (Road and Rain), an underseat USB charging socket, and an immobilizer-equipped key. An analog speedometer with an integrated LCD screen provides all relevant information. Lighting is a combination of halogen (front) and LED (rear), though considering the price of this bike, it would be nice to have the best lighting at both ends. A halogen headlight certainly does keep it old school. LED lighting is found on the back, though, so it would be nice to have LED at the front as well. (Triumph/)Warranty and Maintenance Coverage Triumph motorcycles come with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty. Quality Triumphs gush with quality nowadays. Engines are more reliable, and there’s great attention to detail with brushed aluminum accents throughout. Now, if only some of the electronics could be updated… 2022 Triumph Street Twin Claimed Specifications MSRP: $9,695–$9,995 / $10,445 (EC1 Special Edition) Engine: 900cc, SOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 8 valves Bore x Stroke: 84.6 x 80.0mm Transmission/Final Drive: 5-speed/chain Cycle World Measured Horsepower: 60.1 hp @ 6,880 rpm Cycle World Measured Torque: 55.6 lb.-ft. @ 3,700 rpm Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection, ride-by-wire Clutch: Wet, multiplate torque assist clutch Engine Management/Ignition: N/A Frame: Tubular steel w/ twin cradles Front Suspension: 41mm KYB fork, nonadjustable w/ cartridge damping; 4.7 in. travel Rear Suspension: KYB dual shocks, preload adjustable; 4.7 in. travel Front Brake: 4-piston caliper, full-floating 310mm discs w/ ABS Rear Brake: 2-piston caliper, 255mm disc w/ ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: Spoked cast aluminum; 18 x 2.75 in. / 17 x 4.25 in. Tires, Front/Rear: 100/90-18 / 150/70-17 Rake/Trail: 25.1º/4.0 in. Wheelbase: 57.1 in. Ground Clearance: N/A Seat Height: 30.1 in. Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gal. Cycle World Measured Wet Weight: 477 lb. Contact: triumphmotorcycles.com Source
  2. Gales nearing Pioneertown, riding a 2021 BMW R 1250 GS on the 2N02 trail from Big Bear. (Chris Thoms/)It started with an invite to lunch. A good friend from Mexico wanted to put two of his LA buddies together, so he introduced me to Davide Berruto, a self-described facilitator of good times and bad decisions. At the cafe next to the Aether Store on La Brea, we became fast friends. Berruto is immediately charming. He wore a wide-brimmed hat in white, white pants, and a light blue mohair sweater. A bright smile shined through his salt-and-pepper beard. “You should come to the Aether Rally,” Berruto said in his Italian accent. “You will love it.” The Aether Rally is an annual event put on by Aether Apparel, though thanks to Covid it’s been a few years since the last one. It’s a celebration of all things adventure, both two-wheeled and four. There are multiple ticket levels, but we chose camping, the cheapest of the bunch; $125 gets you a spot to camp for two nights, two dinners, breakfast, and drinks throughout the event. Considering most campsites in the area are around $30 a night, and the cost of drinks and meals, it’s actually a deal. The morning of the event, I decided to skip the official ride and cut ahead to meet the group in Big Bear, where the off-road section of the journey began. Call me jaded, but experience has left me hesitant to ride in large groups with people I don’t know. My old pal Fox Mausner would accompany me, riding his former police-issue Harley-Davidson Road King which was appropriately fitted with classic knobby tires. I would be riding on the opposite side of the functionality spectrum, atop a 2021 BMW R 1250 GS. The entire grounds of the Pioneertown Motel were rented out for the Aether Rally. (Monti Smith/)Pulling into Big Bear, we parked next to the only other motorcycles on the street, two older BMW GS models. This quiet mountain town is known for its ski slopes and affordable cabin rentals, but surrounding mountain roads and dirt trails make it a destination for motorcyclists of all kinds. We sat near our bikes and ate sandwiches as we waited for the other riders, but as often happens, the group was delayed. We decided once again to forego the group ride and take off on our own. Davide Berruto soaks up the evening sun as riders arrive at the fifth annual Aether Rally. (Chris Thoms/)The 19-mile 2N02 trail would bring us nearly the entire way into Pioneertown. I was comfortable and confident on my overqualified GS. Fox was brazen as ever on his Road King, more barreling through obstacles than choosing a path around or over them. We were in no rush and stopped often to drink water or sit in the shade. We rode through late afternoon, when golden beams of light cut through the trees to illuminate our dust, moving swiftly up rocky climbs and flowing up the banked dirt switchbacks. Exploring California’s backcountry with an old friend. and a couple of new ones met along the way, was as close to a perfect moment as I can remember. We ascended the rocky dirt path through tall pines before reaching the peak and stopping for a cigarette. We rode switchbacks down into the desert as the damp earth beneath us gave way to dry sand, eventually returning to the pavement that would lead us into Pioneertown, cold drinks, and a warm welcome. Pioneertown was built in the mid-40s by a group of Hollywood celebrities as a fully functional western movie set and a hub for their shenanigans. Mane Street (yes, that’s how it’s spelled) cuts through the center of town, a wide, dusty thoroughfare open only to foot and hoof traffic, home to an old timey blacksmith, leathershop, post office and more; quite a scene. On weekends, flea markets and gunfight reenactments draw tourists, but our visit coincided with a large country music festival. There were entirely too many brand new cowboy hats on the premises. This Big Agnes Bikepacking 3 tent has been with me for many journeys. It sets up easily, packs up small, and best of all, straps right to the bike with no added equipment. (Monti Smith/)We grabbed some libations from the cooler as we checked in at the Pioneertown Motel, then went back and set up our tents. Four-wheeled buddies had shown up in the meantime: vanlife Drew, Photo Mounce, and Big Dave in the chase truck. Attendees could rent a room at the motel, rent a camper van or a tent setup, or pitch a tent like we were. We sat around and chatted about the next day’s plans for a bit, but anticipation of coming activities took us each to our tents before long even if that same anticipation kept us from sleeping. When morning came I peeked out of my tent to see the sun bathing nearby Joshua trees in amber as a passing adventure bike kicked up some dust. I sat in my little doorway basking in the peaceful moment, knowing it would soon be interrupted by the sound of tent zippers as other riders awoke. Coffee was being served and there was a simple breakfast of muffins and fruit put out on the tables, so we rode over to the Red Dog saloon in the middle of town to grab some breakfast tacos. Nothing gets the taste of last night’s beer and desert dust out of your mouth like bacon, eggs, and hot sauce, all wrapped up in a fresh tortilla, with the possible exception of toothpaste. Once through the deep sand, our group stops to assess who’s still with us and what’s to come. (Chris Thoms/)Saturday was the main event with three primary activities: an overland ride/drive that would cover several hundred miles of mostly pavement, a guided tour through Joshua Tree park, and the offroad route back up to Big Bear. That was the same path we had done the day before, but in the opposite direction. Drew, Mounce, Fox, and I joined five or six other riders and Dave in the chase truck to hit the offroad trail again. The BMW R 1250 GS is perfectly at home on trails like 2N02, easily ascending the rocky climbs and crossing any patches of sand or gravel we encountered. (Chris Thoms/)As trails often do, 2N02 seemed only vaguely familiar from the other direction. The sand path that spit us out onto pavement had somehow deepened into a pit of despair in the 14 hours since our last visit. Two riders took this as a sign of more difficult trails to come and turned around to join the on-road group. The sandy section only lasted a couple of miles, and though my GS is big and heavy, it tromped through the soft stuff with ease. Enduro Pro mode on the 1250 GS is a revelation. Rider aids are reduced to give the illusion of full control while staying subtly active, so I am able to brake hard going into a turn and throttle-steer my way through the exit, stepping the rear tire out a bit before traction control finishes the job better than I can. Weight is carried low on the bike, so the bike was still nimble and easy to control as I stood comfortably on the footpegs. The 1250 was a bigger bike than I had ever taken on trails like that, but the bike was more than capable and I was confident. Together we tackled 2N02 with speed and style, taking a few short breaks to hydrate. Fox Mausner showing everyone that it’s not always the bike so much as the rider. (Chris Thoms/) Fox and Drew take a rest under one of the trees along the trailside. (Monti Smith/)Our group was a mixed bag of creatives, an industrial designer, a prosthetics engineer, a clothing designer, a writer, a couple of photographers. It seemed as if every new conversation revealed another impressive detail about the people around me. Best of all, everyone could ride. There was no hesitation to wait for the last of the group, but the last of us was never far behind the first. Group rides always run the risk of someone mistaking ambition for skill and trying to ride above their capabilities, but we finished with no injuries and only one bike in the back of Dave’s truck. At trail’s end, four of us decided to book it back to Pioneertown on paved roads. As we pulled back into the Motel, the Aether Rally was in full swing, nearly twice as crowded as when we had left. Madre Mezcal had a tent set up with its new Desert Water cans. Huge racks of ribs covered two large smoking barbecues and were replaced with sausages as they were finished. There was even one kind gentleman, Llewelyn by name, who had set up a booth to teach people how to roll dried plant material into little paper cylinders. It was a day of adventure surrounded by good people, good food, and good drinks, and another near-perfect moment. Barbecues smoke as our chefs prepared dinner on Saturday night of the Aether Rally. (Monti Smith/)We relaxed and talked to everyone around us, this guy from Portugal, this woman from Colorado, the buddies from Mexico. Vehicles and a love of adventure had brought a truly great group of people together. Someone with a steel guitar hopped up and started playing songs. We sat around the campfire and talked. The next morning was Sunday, and when I woke up much of the camp had already begun to clear out. There were no planned activities or meals, so most people just slugged some coffee and hit the road. Fox and I packed our camps and loaded up the bikes. I said goodbye to Davide and thanked him for the invite. His prediction had been correct; I did in fact love the Aether Rally. Camping in comfort and style in this vintage Range Rover. (Monti Smith/)I rode home along highway US-10, a flat, straight, wide road that’s often dense with cars. It’s not a fun trip, but I smiled in my helmet most of the way back. I spend most of my time riding alone. It’s easy to forget how much fun it is to go exploring with friends. I have attended many chopperish and V-twin-centeric campouts, but never an adventure bike or overland focused event like this. If the others are anything like what Aether has put together here, I’ll be there. Big adventure bikes, scramblers, and of course Fox on his Road King. (Chris Thoms/)Source
  3. Design concepts of the new Hornet show a sharp and aggressive streetfighter, worthy of the name. (Honda/)The significance of a new model to a bike manufacturer can often be judged by how drawn out its launch process is—and since Honda is likely going to have more than a year between first confirming its plans for a new Hornet and the bike actually reaching dealers, it’s clearly a bike that the company has high hopes for. Honda confirmed its new Hornet last November, showing a stylized computer model of the machine in a video released at the EICMA show in Milan, accompanied by brief clip of the engine note, but has remained steadfastly tight-lipped since then about the bike’s actual specifications or release date. Now Honda, while still keeping the bike’s details secret, has released more design sketches and details of the bike’s development process. Giovanni Dovis is the designer responsible for the Hornet at Honda’s Italian R&D center in Rome. (Honda/)The design comes from the company’s R&D center in Rome, previously responsible for the penning of the latest Africa Twin, the “Neo-Sports Café” look of the CB1000R and CB650R, and the left-field success of the X-ADV adventure-scooter-crossover. The Hornet project’s styling was handed over to 28-year-old Giovanni Dovis, whose last work was the ADV350 scooter. In a video released by Honda Europe to accompany the new sketches, Dovis says: “The Honda design philosophy is to create something pure, functional, in an uncomplicated way. At Honda the rider is at the center of everything we do. We talk and listen to the voice of the European customers then, with Japan, we apply the learnings. “You can see the result in one of our icons, the Hornet concept. This project was built around the principle of agility, dynamism, and light weight—both actual and visual. After five generations, the Hornet concept stings harder than ever. We are talking about the bike that started the streetfighter category. As a naked bike, the mechanical components are part of its beauty. Elements of the design were inspired by the shape of the angriest insect, the hornet. The Hornet concept emphasizes fuel-tank shape and surface, creating a new, compact proportion. Sporty character expressed by tension. Aggressiveness and a pointed tail to visualize dynamism. The swarm are eager to hear its buzzing once more. It’s time to step up and make the Hornet legend greater. It’s time to shake up the hive.” Design sketches of the Hornet’s tank cover and cockpit. (Honda/)While the released sketches show several developments of the Hornet idea, the silver bike featured largest is the version that represents the production model we expect to see later this year. It shows a tubular frame—presumably steel—that’s largely hidden by bodywork, as well as a simple box-section swingarm that’s likely to be extruded aluminum on the final production model. Most notably, it also gives a clear view of the side of the all-new parallel-twin engine that powers it. According to reliable sources, the engine is around 750cc (we’ve heard 755cc). The way the cam cover is taller toward the rear of the engine hints at a Unicam setup like the Africa Twin and the CRF450R, where a single camshaft operates four valves—acting directly on the intake side and operating the exhaust valves via rockers. However, the bulge toward the inlet side of the engine could also be a hint of something more radical, like a variable valve timing system on the intake camshaft. Honda has already confirmed that the engine will be “high-revving”—meaning it’s tuned for power—and under current and future emissions laws in Europe, there’s a growing movement favoring VVT, particularly on the intake cams of revvy engines. The new engine will make its first appearance in the Hornet, which is due to be officially unveiled later this year, but eventually it’s sure to power a whole array of bikes. The Hornet is expected to spawn an adventure-bike derivative, essentially a downsized Africa Twin and likely to revive the Transalp name, and with the CBR600RR now gone from Honda’s range in most countries, a full-faired sport model is also likely at some stage. After all, the old four-cylinder Hornet 600 was derived from the CBR600F. A variety of sketches were recently shown, but we believe the silver bike is likely the direction Honda is headed. (Honda/)Although not as definitive as the silver bike, some of the other sketches released by Honda show treatments that might also be used on the production model, notably the twin exhaust header pipes diving off to the right-hand side of the bike, rather like the four-pipe header of the current CB650R, and into a single muffler. No doubt, Honda will let more information trickle out as the Hornet’s official unveiling gets closer. The signs so far are good, so hopefully it will live up to both its illustrious heritage and the effort Honda is taking to hype the project. Source
  4. Lofted wheelies showcase the strong midrange torque and excellent chassis balance of the BMW M 1000 RR. (Jeff Allen/)The curbs lining Chuckwalla Valley Raceway’s intricate 2.68-mile layout are the bogeys to the 2021 BMW M 1000 RR’s fighter-jet precision. The Bavarian-built literbike’s locked-on attitude showcases years of the company’s racing endeavors and technical expertise, and the bike serves as a platform for developing future improvements. Of course, the M 1000 RR is also a homologation special. Every bit of the bike’s design and performance is focused on gaining advantage within the scope of World Superbike technical regulations. The street-spec equipment is there merely to meet DOT requirements and ensure it qualifies as a for-sale streetbike in accordance with the rules of production-based racing. Yes, the $37,490 M is there for well-heeled trackday connoisseurs or even club racers, but its number one role is to give BMW Motorrad and its supported racing efforts a machine on which to work their magic in search of the ideal lap time. What you get is a motorcycle that Motorrad touts as the first two-wheel model to join BMW’s iconic M-series. It’s a competition-minded offspring of the S 1000 RR, a bike which has been a contender in the open-class production literbike category since its introduction in 2009. The difference is that the M 1000 RR is sharper and more exotic, allowing the elite to race to glory. The M 1000 RR has an aggressive stance and tight dimensions that complement its lightweight handling. (Jeff Allen/)As with the ripping S 1000 RR, the M RR uses the same basic 998cc inline-four with BMW’s ShiftCam Technology. It’s a spectacular engine in S form, but a number of internal components are altered with racing in mind. A set of lightweight titanium Pankl connecting rods, 2mm longer than before, move new lower-friction two-ring forged Mahle pistons. These lighter components kick redline to 15,100 rpm, 500 rpm higher than the S model. Compression ratio is bumped to 13.5:1 via a new combustion chamber profile, while valve-actuating finger followers have been redesigned for reduced weight. Even the titanium Akrapovič exhaust shaves 8 pounds in comparison to the exhaust system on the S 1000 RR. Horsepower and torque figures of the BMW M 1000 RR gathered on the Cycle World dyno. An important note: Our test unit was flashed with the dealer-installed “torque map.” (Robert Martin Jr./)The result of these revisions is a powerplant that, BMW Motorrad claims, undramatically produces 205 hp at 13,000 rpm in US trim, the same numbers as the S 1000 RR in stock configuration. The lighter parts and higher redline are simply waiting for racer mods so the bike can make competitive power at the track. Our test unit was flashed with the dealer-installed “torque map,” which we tested on the in-house Cycle World Dynojet 250i dynamometer. The M RR produced a peak 161.30 hp at 11,230 rpm and 77.07 pound-feet of torque at 9,250. Analyzing the curves indicates the optional flash eliminates the S model’s frustrating dip between 6,000 and 8,000 rpm, but power quickly signs off just after 11,000 rpm, leaving 4,100 rpm of overrev waiting to be uncorked with race-spec tuning changes. The M 1000 RR shreds corners with an any-apex, any-time manner. (Jeff Allen/)That bumped midrange torque makes the M 1000 RR a missile on corner exits. The ripping initial acceleration was aided during our trackday test session by the superb grip of the Dunlop KR448 and KR451 racing slicks we mounted to our testbike; these gave us extra confidence when ripping gears after the apex, aided as we were by the seamless action of the standard bidirectional quickshifter. Even with the extra midrange, superb grip, and quickshifter, BMW’s over-complex electronic rider-aid package and a numb throttle connection damp the harmony of man and machine. Ride-by-wire throttle inputs don’t precisely match expected results most of the time. And the four basic levels of traction control in Ride Pro modes (Rain, Road, Dynamic, Race) each feature 15 further settings of adjustability, with +7 being the greatest level of intrusion and -7 the least, for a total of 60 selectable options. With many, many hours of seat time and tuning experience this might make sense, but it’s a lot to absorb. The sorcery is within the M 1000 RR inline-four engine. Trick components like the Pankl titanium connecting rods, two-ring Mahle forged pistons, and allow for quick revving to its 15,100 rpm redline. (Jeff Allen/)After working with all these options in the time allowed by our one-day track test, I found that dialing the TC to a less intrusive setting (my preference was -4 with wheelie control reduced to level 1) provided the most visceral riding experience. This helped the M RR make the most of its linear power delivery and low-end grunt; it exhibited ripping corner-exit acceleration while perfectly maintaining low-trajectory MotoGP-style power wheelies as seen in slow-motion replays. Awesome. The TFT display of the M 1000 RR is top-notch, but toggling through its screens is time-consuming. (Jeff Allen/)It’s fair to say that the M RR’s racing-influenced chassis accepts hammering corner exits with little drama and superb drive grip. But the real star of the handling show here is the spectacular smooth action and great damping control of the Marzocchi fork, no doubt aided by its two downforce-producing winglets. Changes resulting in this performance include a slightly steeper steering head angle of 23.6 degrees (versus 24.2 on the S) with the trail measurement increased by 5.9mm to 99.8mm. Fork offset is also reduced by 3mm. The result is a confidence-bolstering front-end feel unrivaled by any previous BMW superbike we’ve tested. A set of blue anodized M-branded calipers add to the BMW’s bling and performance. (Jeff Allen/)The front end is so good that its M-branded brake calipers, co-developed with Nissin, are a mild letdown after aggressive initial bite, as lever feel isn’t great as you trail-brake to the apex. Outright power is superb, but there’s an opportunity for more communication and sensitivity when pushing the limit. Three-level selectable electronic engine-braking function can be tuned to suit your style. But among the M 1000 RR’s many outstanding qualities, none is greater than its wicked agility, its uncanny ease when snapping through side-to-side transitions. Certainly chassis geometry and lightweight materials help here, but the key is its carbon fiber wheelset. While composite rims aren’t legal in world-level competition, there’s no denying—or not welcoming—the nimbleness they provide. Nothing makes a bike feel lighter and steer more quickly than a reduction in wheel weight; in fact, the bike ran over inside curbing in early testing laps. Simply stated, the BMW M 1000 RR is one of the most nimble motorcycles we have ever ridden; the only comparable machine in handling terms is the no-holds-barred Ducati Superleggera V4. The M 1000 RR is a killer of Chuckwalla Valley Raceway’s side-to-side transitions and elevation changes. (Jeff Allen/)Even with all the benefits brought to the M 1000 RR through lightweight materials, engine changes, and chassis tuning, the real potential is still locked away. Of course, that’s the way with most homologation specials. Think back to Honda’s exotic 1994 RC45 and its US-market sub-100-hp output on the CW dyno. The BMW has a lot more bark than that Honda, but the essence remains the same: buyers are getting something that will make racing modifications possible, but will also require those modifications to fully realize its potential. So, yes, the M 1000 RR is stronger on a racetrack in stock form. It’s finished in a bunch of carbon composite, and equipped with trick features like launch control, a pit-lane speed limiter, and an adjustable swingarm pivot, but still possesses the same basic soul and personality as the S 1000 RR, including its flaws; numb throttle, overwrought electronics suite. Think of the M RR as a motorcycle along the lines of Kawasaki’s ZX-10RR. It’s got trick componentry and neat bells and whistles, but its showroom-spec performance isn’t far removed from the base model’s. The Marzocchi fork features full adjustability to dial in to rider preference. (Jeff Allen/)Whether the price premium of the M 1000 RR over the S model is worth it is, as always, up to you. If you’re a club racer or serious trackday enthusiast with a fat budget, the M brings trick components and those spectacularly light C-F wheels plus all the potential BMW is seeking to tap on the World Superbike stage. But the base S 1000 RR is $16,995, and it’s easy to get past $20,000 with a few choice options. The $37,490 sticker on our testbike comes from a combination of exotic materials and a list of trick components, some of which are visible: carbon fiber bodywork, CNC-machined levers, and titanium Akrapovič exhaust system. BMW’s carbon fiber wheelset is included as part of a $4,500 add-on package on the S model, but standard on the M 1000 RR. Also consider the unpublished but presumably extensive cost of engine development, including the titanium connecting rods and other trick internal pieces. The M 1000 RR is top tier in quality and performance, which is reflected in its $37,490 price tag. (Jeff Allen/)So the M 1000 RR is a huge jump in price for some admittedly great parts. But for the street rider and typical trackday warrior, the S 1000 RR will provide just about as much entertainment while saving many dollars for extra sticky tires and entry fees. The M RR’s details, adjustability, and OE-fitted parts raise the ceiling of its outright capability and make it a real temptation for the racer. If you have the resources, both financial and technical, the M’s magic is worth it, particularly for the chassis changes and carbon wheels. For most of us mortals, a lower-spec S will do the trick. Still… don’t we all want a little more magic in our lives? The M 1000 RR is built to turn and burn. (Jeff Allen/)2021 BMW M 1000 RR Specifications MSRP: $37,490 (as tested) Engine: DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four; 16 valves Displacement: 999cc Bore x Stroke: 80.0 x 49.7mm Compression Ratio: 13.5:1 Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Cycle World Measured Horsepower: 161.30 hp @ 11,230 rpm Cycle World Measured Torque: 77.07 lb.-ft. @ 9,250 rpm Fuel System: Electronic fuel injection w/ 48mm throttle bodies Clutch: Wet, multi-disc slipper; cable operation Engine Management/Ignition: Ride-by-wire/TCI Frame: Twin-spar aluminum chassis Front Suspension: 45mm Marzocchi inverted fork, fully adjustable (semi-active damping w/ optional DDC); 4.7 in. travel Rear Suspension: Marzocchi shock, fully adjustable (semi-active damping w/ optional DDC); 4.6 in. travel Front Brake: 4-piston Monoblock calipers, dual 320mm discs w/ ABS Rear Brake: 2-piston slide-pin caliper, 220mm disc w/ ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: M Carbon; 17 x 3.50 in. / 17 x 6.00 in. Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70ZR-17 / 200/55ZR-17 Rake/Trail: 23.6°/3.9 in. Wheelbase: 57.4 in. Ground Clearance: 4.7 in. Seat Height: 32.8 in. Fuel Capacity: 4.4 gal. Cycle World Measured Wet Weight: 423 lb. Contact: bmwmotorcycles.com CW Measured Performance Quarter-Mile: 10.43 sec @ 147.12 mph 0–30 mph: 1.76 sec. 0–60 mph: 3.28 sec. 0–100 mph: 5.49 sec. 40–60 Top-Gear Roll-On: 2.41 sec. 60–80 Top-Gear Roll-On: 2.19 sec. Braking, 60–0 : 132.95 ft. Braking, 30–0 : 31.33 ft. Source
  5. The SV650 has been Suzuki’s standard bike flagship since 1999. (Suzuki/)Ups Unique-for-its-class V-twin engineAttractive price tagNarrow seatGreat soundTried-and-true designDowns Tried-and-true design means no significant updates in recent yearsBelow-average front brake performanceHeavier than a majority of its competitorsVerdict For those looking for a great first, second, or even one-and-only bike, the SV650 is a great bet. Today’s crop of competitors puts serious pressure on this proven platform, but the current SV remains true to its roots as a straightforward, simple, charismatic, and capable all-arounder. Overview The Suzuki SV650 is an iconic V-twin-powered middleweight. When it entered the fray in 1999, it set a high bar for standard motorcycles everywhere, because it did everything well and seemed to love it. The SV happily served everyone from first-timers to old-timers, many of whom kept them on as long-timers. It’s the rare motorcycle that can be both a first and a forever bike. While it was wonderfully successful in its first few years, the SV650 unfortunately lost loyal fans when it was restyled and redesigned as the Gladius and SFV650 in 2009 and 2013, respectively. These bikes were heavier and decked out in bodywork that might charitably be called “funky.” Fortunately, it made a comeback in 2017, and got a tasteful follow-up in 2019 with the addition of the cafe-styled SV650X. The revised standard had returned to its roots, and was approachable, straightforward, and most of all, fun. Since its return to the tried-and-true design, the SV has introduced a new generation of enthusiasts to its combination of peppy, character-rich V-twin power and agile but predictable road manners. That combo makes it both a highly capable and entertaining commuter and a fun canyon carver. The SV comes in two iterations, one with ABS (shown here) and the other without. (Suzuki/)Updates for 2022 Why mess with success again? Suzuki learned its lesson the first time. Maybe a little too well, as the SV650 hasn’t seen a major update in years. Pricing and Variants The SV650 is available with or without ABS ($7,749/$7,299). Competition Middleweight standards from around the world are coming at the Suzuki in droves. This includes three options from Japan and two from Europe: Yamaha’s MT-07, Kawasaki’s Z650, Honda’s CB650R, Triumph’s Trident 660, and Aprilia’s Tuono 660. One thing to consider here is that the majority of the competition is powered by parallel-twin engines, with only the Honda CB650R using a four. Suzuki’s V-twin gives it a notably different character, not to mention a much better sound. The 645cc V-twin engine in the SV is unique, configuration-wise, in the standard bike category. (Suzuki/)Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance The SV650′s proven 645cc V-twin engine has plenty of low- to midrange power for passing traffic, pulling smoothly to its 10,000 rpm redline. In other words, there’s plenty of room to stretch the engine’s legs at higher speeds. The intake and 2-into-1 exhaust also give fantastic tones. In our past review, the engine “displayed the epitome of perfect fueling, sweet gearbox action, and easily managed throttle response.” A useful feature for new riders is the bike’s low-rpm assist, which adjusts engine speed to help prevent stalling during takeoff. Startup is also an easy task; with a single press of a button, the Easy Start System runs the motor until the bike fires up. No need to pull in the clutch if the bike’s in neutral; make use of the free hand to adjust the mirrors, close your visor, or whatever, as the bike springs to life. Producing a measured 69.3 hp at 8,530 rpm meant it produced more peak horsepower than its 2017 rivals, but today, peak horsepower figures for middleweights is up in the 70–80 range (we’re looking at you Trident 660, CB650R, and Tuono 660). A narrow seat and wide handlebar give the SV650 its relaxed ergonomics. (Suzuki/)Handling At a claimed 437 pounds, today’s ABS-equipped model is about 8 pounds lighter than the previous-generation SFV650, but 20 or more pounds heavier than current competitors, with the exception of the CB650R. Although this impacts agility somewhat, it aids in overall stability. In an earlier comparison with the Kawasaki Z650 and Yamaha FZ-07, Cycle World commented, “The SV650′s mellowed yet relatable charm is more apparent on the road. It’s not the lightest-handling bike in the group, but it’s the most stable, predictable, and planted on a twisting canyon road and feels totally refined.” Suspension is handled by a telescopic fork and link-type rear shock for a firm and sporty ride. These components are nonadjustable, with the exception of preload at the rear. Sometimes it’s OK to not overengineer a motorcycle. Suzuki’s straightforward approach to motorcycle design makes the SV650 a capable and practical motorcycle for everyday riding. (Suzuki/)Brakes Braking is handled by two four-piston Tokico calipers and a pair of 290mm floating stainless steel discs up front and a single one-piston caliper and 240mm disc out back. These contribute to good stopping power; however, we found the two front units lacking in bite and power, with numb feedback overall. Testing the brakes against its 2017 competition showed that the SV needed more room to come to a stop. From 60–0, the SV stopped in 139 feet, which isn’t bad, but the FZ-07 and Z650 did it in 136 and 132 feet. Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG We averaged 48 mpg during our testing. This was right in between the FZ-07 (51 mpg) and Z650 (47 mpg). Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility The SV650′s ergonomics are relaxed and comfortable. The point where the seat and tank meet is narrow and the handlebar is wide. It is relatively heavy, but the seat height is an admirably low 30.9 inches which makes keeping the bike upright at stops doable. Although extended periods of time on the seat may cause discomfort, the overall riding position is neutral enough to make it an all-around comfortable commuter and weekend ride. Electronics Starting up the SV is a simple affair. The Easy Start System only requires a short press of the starter button while the bike is in neutral in order for the bike to come to life. Pulling in the clutch is not necessary. A basic LCD display, halogen headlight, and LED taillight are standard; ABS is a $450 option. Despite the suspension’s minimal adjustability, the spring and damping rates are well chosen, keeping the chassis nicely under control at a rapid pace in the twisty pavement sections without being too stiff at lower speeds on imperfect urban tarmac. (Suzuki/)Warranty and Maintenance Coverage Suzuki offers a one-year limited warranty for the SV650 with the option to extend with Suzuki’s Extended Protection plan. Quality Although, or perhaps because, this Suzuki hasn’t had a recent update and the components are no longer cutting-edge, this bike is ridiculously reliable. 2022 Suzuki SV650/ABS Claimed Specifications MSRP: $7,299 (non-ABS)/$7,749 (ABS) Engine: 645cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled V-twin Bore x Stroke: 81.0 x 62.6mm Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Cycle World Measured Horsepower: 69.3 hp @ 8,530 rpm Cycle World Measured Torque: 44.2 lb.-ft. @ 8,000 rpm Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection Clutch: Wet, multiplate Engine Management/Ignition: Engine control module/electronic transistorized Frame: Steel trellis Front Suspension: 41mm telescopic fork; 4.9 in. travel Rear Suspension: Link-type shock, preload adjustable; 2.5 in. travel Front Brake: Dual 4-piston Tokico calipers, full-floating 290mm discs w/ ABS (optional) Rear Brake: 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc w/ ABS (optional) Wheels, Front/Rear: Cast aluminum; 17 in. / 17 in. Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70-17 / 160/60-17 Rake/Trail: 25.0°/4.1 in. Wheelbase: 56.9 in. Ground Clearance: 5.3 in. Seat Height: 30.9 in. Fuel Capacity: 3.8 gal. Claimed Wet Weight: 432 lb. (non-ABS) / 437 lb. (ABS) Contact: suzukicycles.com Source
  6. The scooter that started it all, the original Lambretta 125. Together with Vespa, these machines put Italy back in motion in the aftermath of World War II. (Lambretta/)One year after Piaggio introduced its world-famous Vespa, Innocenti iron and machinery works in Milan, a manufacturer of steel tubing, entered the growing Italian scooter market. In 1947 Dr. Ferdinando Innocenti realized that an updated scooter concept might offer great opportunities to his firm, and ordered his technical staff to design a two-wheeled vehicle that, like the Vespa, could be mass produced at low cost. The Innocenti staff found inspiration in the foldable motor scooters that American and British airborne units had used to get from landing zones to the line of combat during the war. Innocenti opted for a structure as simple as those military scooters, with a single downtube constituting the frame. The tube ran down from the steering head to support the floorboard, with attachments to locate and support the unitized engine/transmission power egg. A steel-tube subframe turned upward to support the seat, the fuel tank, and a small utility case. The scooter was called the Lambretta, named after a mythical water sprite associated with the Lambro river, which ran close to the Milan suburb where Innocenti was located. Lambretta vs. Vespa Contrary to Vespa’s design, the Lambretta’s engine was not directly connected to the rear wheel, instead driving it motorcycle-style via a three-speed gearbox and a sealed oil-bath chain. Also like a motorcycle, the Lambretta’s engine/transmission unit was set along the scooter’s main longitudinal axis. This became a major factor in Lambretta’s fast-growing success: Lambretta owners mocked Vespa riders about their bikes’ off-center construction making them look like sailboats under a strong side wind. In turn, Vespa owners mocked their Lambretta counterparts about the poor reliability of their bikes’ gearbox. The joking and rivalry lasted for decades. Like the first ATVs, the original Lambretta 125 M model had no suspension at either end, just a pair of doughnut-size tires fat enough to deal with the cobby Italian roads of the day. A major evolution occurred in 1950 when the Lambretta C introduced a trailing-link front suspension and torsion-bar suspension for the rear wheel. Now the single-downtube frame located the pivot point of the rear suspension and then turned upward to support the seat and the fuel tank, eliminating the previous twin-tube subframe. Lambretta Evolves While Vespa made a dogma of its iconic design and never strayed from it, Dr. Innocenti was more concerned about fashion. When time came to evolve the basic Lambretta concept he involved Italian designers in the project. In 1951 the new Lambretta LD hit the market and was an instant success. Featuring flowing lines, full coverage for the rider’s legs, and fully functional suspension at both ends, it came with both 125 and 150cc engines and offered an evolved four-speed transmission. Produced until the end of 1956, the LD defined a new, stronger image for Lambretta. The Lambretta 125 F incorporated floorboards and legit suspension. Decked out with a passenger seat, spare wheel, and matching wheel cover, this example shows how important styling was, right from the start. (Lambretta/)From there the Lambretta design kept developing, but maintained a strong connection with the LD model. In 1958 came the Lambretta LI with even more esthetic refinement as well as updated engines, notably the 150cc version, which was the bestseller of the series. The Lambretta LI Series 3 debuted in 1961 and represented Lambretta’s main styling evolution until the brand closed down in 1973. In many respects, Lambretta always kept a technical lead over Vespa. In 1962, the Lambretta 175 TV Series 3 was the first scooter to adopt a front disc brake, a major evolutionary step. Remember, this is seven years before Honda’s CB750K0! The peak came in 1969 with the 200 SX/200 DL Electronic, which featured electronic ignition, disc brakes, and an 11 hp 200cc two-stroke single, the most powerful engine in a scooter at the time. Innocenti Lambretta experienced a final crisis when small economy cars, like the Fiat 500, appeared on the market. Somehow Vespa survived this critical juncture, probably thanks to stronger styling, a more aggressive marketing policy, and an image that never changed. Lambretta tried to make its models appear more sophisticated, and famous Italian designers like Bertone were hired to constantly refine its line. In the end, though, that only added extra cost to the production, and low price was a major factor in the market of the 1960s and ‘70s. Nothing says Italian like a red bike. The new G350 pays homage to Lambretta’s historic emphasis on fashion and design. Thoroughly modern, it also evokes the timeless scooter ethos. (Lambretta/)Innocenti sold the production lines to the Indian government, which in turn created Scooters India Limited, or SIL, keeping the Lambretta name alive until 1998. The SIL model, called Lamby and GP150 for export, was a derivative of the Lambretta LI 150. Innocenti itself was sold to BMC (British Leyland) and shortly thereafter began production of the Mini (the original, designed by the legendary Sir Alec Issigonis) in Italy. The Italian market responded positively, and BMC planned huge investments to increase manufacturing capabilities. But BMC didn’t fully understand that at the time Italy was, more than ever, Fiat turf. The Italian government accordingly blocked all projects. BMC Innocenti went bankrupt, and the assets were conveniently sold off to Alessandro de Tomaso, who just happened to have the right contacts within the government. Like all other de Tomaso-ruled firms, this new Innocenti was a joke and soon shut down for good. In the years following, the Innocenti and Lambretta brands bounced around from court to court in a swirl of legal fights. Finally, Walter Scheffrahn, a Dutch investor and longtime Lambretta enthusiast, was recognized as the legal owner of both, and he established the operative headquarters of Innocenti SA in Lugano, Switzerland. In 2017, Innocenti SA tiptoed into the scooter market with its new V-series models, the Lambretta V50cc, V125cc, and V200cc. These gained good success especially on the Far East markets. Lambretta Today This led to a partnership with Thailand’s Gaoking company. Which leads us to the present: Lambretta’s Lugano headquarters is home to the company’s R&D department under Scheffrahn’s personal control and leadership, with the Thai partners in charge of manufacturing. Underneath their skins, both new Lambretta models feature modern design elements like electronic ignitions, antilock brakes, and as seen here on the G350 Special, secure, integrated storage. (Lambretta/)Production started in 2017 with the V Model series, which ranges from 50cc to 200cc. The V200 can easily be identified as a Lambretta; the styling is clearly derived from the Lambretta LI, a genuine plus especially in the central- and south-Asian markets. The V200 is powered by an electric-start 12 hp four-stroke single equipped with a CVT transmission. The V200 comes with disc brakes front and rear, ABS, an LED headlight, and 12-inch wheels. The initial positive market response, China included, spurred Innocenti SA to aim for the premium scooter segment. This has resulted in two new models which represent a major evolution of the whole Lambretta project. The Lambretta X300 and G350 Special were officially unveiled in Milan, in the Brera Art Gallery court, during Design Week there. Surprisingly, the two are styled differently, with the X300 departing from Lambretta’s traditionally fluid lines. On the contrary, the X300′s styling is squarish, characterized by straight profiles from the front fender to the leg shield to the main body. Excellent fit and finish, disc brakes, an ABS sensor, tubeless tires, and a smart trailing-link front suspension that’s perfect for challenged pavement. The Lambrettas (the X300 shown here) take a grand old name and update it for an emerging market. (Lambretta/)The new scooter appears well finished in every detail, from the hexagonal LED front light to the handlebar to the seat. The front suspension is a trailing-link unit with distinctive twin shock absorbers wrapped with chromed springs. The 12-inch cast-alloy wheels get tubeless tires, 120/70-12 front and 130/70-12 rear. Disc brakes with 220mm rotors are fitted at both ends, managed by Bosch ABS. The Lambretta X300 rolls on a 54-inch wheelbase and weighs a rather substantial 364 pounds dry. On the other hand, the Lambretta G350 Special represents styling continuity with the original LI models. The main body section describes a gentle arch with a very moderate rib running just above the centerline. The front shield is a total homage to the Lambrettas of yore, as is the front fender. The fender’s mounting is a little controversial, because it leaves a large section of the suspension units exposed. The finish is excellent. In terms of details, the G350 Special comes fully equipped with LED headlight, 240mm disc brakes front and rear, likewise managed by a twin-channel Bosch ABS system. The Lambretta G350 Special weighs 382 pounds with a 55-inch wheelbase. The chassis structure of both models feature a large-diameter main tubular element with integrated steel panels forming the front shield and the floorboard, creating a very solid structure, necessary to cope with the extra loads generated by riding on typical Asian roads. A grand Italian brand fuses with modern Asian manufacturing. (Lambretta/)The engine is a liquid-cooled four-valve single developed in two displacements by Chinese manufacturer GPX. The X300 uses the base unit, its 275cc actual displacement derived from a 75mm bore and 62.3mm stroke. Innocenti SA claims 24.8 peak horsepower at 8,250 rpm with 18 pound-feet of torque at 6,250 rpm. The G350 Special’s engine displaces an actual 330cc from a bore increase to 82mm, while stroke is unaltered at 62.3mm. For the G350 Special, Innocenti SA advertises 25.8 hp at 7,500 rpm and 18.8 pound-feet of torque at 6,250 rpm. Innocenta SA has requested that Bosch develop an ECU that would make the two units Euro 5 homologated. While the V-class Lambretta models were conceived for the Asian markets, the new X300 and G350 Special will try to reestablish the brand in the European. Innocenti will then turn its attention to the United States. Although production in Thailand will start around the end of 2022, tentative prices have already been announced: 5,900 euros for X300, and 7,200 euros for G350 Special. Old world meets Brave New World. The new Lambretta X300 parked in downtown Milan, home of the original Lambretta 75 years ago. (Lambretta/)Source
  7. Will Honda’s CL250 be the inspiration for the new CL300 that the company has filed patents and naming rights for? (Honda/)Back in May, we revealed Honda’s plan to launch a new CL500 scrambler based on the engine and chassis structure of the Rebel 500, and now new evidence has emerged to prove both its existence and that a smaller CL300 will be offered alongside it. The CL500 has been rumored in Japan for some time, but it was only earlier this year that Honda essentially confirmed it by filing for new rights over the “CL500″ trademark. That filing matched up with patents filed back in 2019, that showed how the Rebel 500′s frame and engine could be adapted for an scrambler-style machine, specifically requiring some innovative engineering around the repositioned footpeg brackets and the rear brake master cylinder to suit the scrambler look. The same Japanese rumors of the CL500 also suggest that a smaller CL250 is on the way, essentially performing the same trick on the single-cylinder Rebel 250—an Asian-market model that’s sold with a larger engine as the Rebel 300 in the US. At the time of our last story, there was no hard evidence to support these rumors. Now the evidence has emerged, and it’s good news for Western markets, as Honda’s plans are to build a CL300 based on the Rebel 300, likely meaning it’s intended for the West rather than just Asia (where a 250cc version will no doubt be offered to suit local motorcycle licence rules). Recent patent drawings for the CL500 are likely to be very similar to the layout for the CL300. (Honda/)The smoking-gun proof of the CL300′s existence comes once again in the form of a trademark application, filed by Honda in Thailand for rights to the “CL300″ name. Why Thailand? Probably because that’s where the Rebel 300 and Rebel 500 are manufactured. At the same time as the Thai trademark application for the “CL300″ name, Honda also applied for “CL500″ naming rights in several countries including Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand, suggesting that both machines will be launched simultaneously later this year. We can be pretty confident that the CL300 will use the same 286cc liquid-cooled single that powers the Rebel 300, and it’s likely to share essentially the same chassis, albeit with a taller seat and subframe to suit its retro scrambler styling. Like the Rebel, it’s expected to have a twin-shock layout and simple, conventional right-way-up fork. In terms of styling, expect something pretty traditional—the inspiration is the 1960s CL250—but not an out-and-out retro throwback. For starters, the water-cooled single doesn’t look anything like the air-cooled SOHC twin of the old CL250, and Honda is likely to use the Rebel’s alloy wheels instead of wire-spoke wheels that would probably add to the bike’s price. Both the CL500 and CL300 look likely to get launched later this year as 2023 models, part of a thrust from Honda to revisit past successes, since the firm is also due to bring back the Hornet name on a new 750 twin-cylinder streetbike, and expected to follow that with a reborn Transalp before reviving the NX (Dominator) name on an upcoming CB500X-based NX500. Source
  8. Kevin Cameron has been writing about motorcycles for nearly 50 years, first for <em>Cycle magazine</em> and, since 1992, for <em>Cycle World</em>. (Robert Martin/)Let’s say we’ve built our own single-cylinder engine as a shop project. All is in readiness: We have spark, fuel, compression, and everything is correctly timed. The engine starts and runs—hooray! But it vibrates quite badly, and the vibration intensifies as it revs up. What to do? Addressing the situation methodically, we see that this vibration has two possible sources: linear and rotational. Linear, meaning “in a straight line,” describes the up-and-down reciprocating motion of the piston. Rotational means it’s coming from a rotating imbalance, such as the crankshaft itself. So far, so good. But to which of these two categories does the connecting rod belong? What we do is weigh the two ends of the rod in a horizontal position. We assign the weight of its big end (the end that attaches to the crankpin) to rotating mass, while we add the weight of the small (piston) end to the reciprocating parts such as piston, rings, wrist pin, and wrist-pin clips. Our first job is to achieve rotating balance. To do this we make up a balance weight to attach to the crankpin, equal in mass to the rotating imbalance we have just measured (the big end of the rod and its bearing). Ideally this would take the form of a ring or any geometry that does not have a heavy side. With this weight attached to the crankpin, we can test for static balance by placing our crank on horizontal knife edges to see if imbalance rotates it. If it does, very likely the heavy point is the crankpin and the weight we’ve attached to it. Our goal now is to either make the crankpin side of the crank lighter, or to add extra material to the crank at 180 degrees to the crankpin, until the crank is in static balance; that is, it doesn’t roll when placed on the knife edges. Another step, more important in longer cranks, is to achieve dynamic balance as well. To understand this, imagine a dumbbell consisting of two wheels joined by a shaft. If one of the wheels has a heavy side but we balance it by removing mass from the other wheel, we can achieve static balance. But if we spin the dumbbell, it will wobble. In order to achieve dynamic balance (no wobble), the original heavy spot and any metal we remove to balance it must act in the same plane, perpendicular to the axis of rotation. One of the two counterbalancers found in KTM’s LC4 single. The other is at the end of the camshaft to cancel fore and aft movement. (KTM/)Once we have both static and dynamic rotary balance of the crank, we can move on to address the linear (straight-line) imbalance caused by the piston’s motion. To do this we remove the crankpin weight we used to achieve dynamic balance and build up our engine again. It is normal in crank balancing to balance 100 percent of any rotating imbalance. When we start it, as we’d expect it still shakes terribly. This is because so far we have done nothing to balance the up-and-down shaking force of the reciprocating parts—the piston, rings, wrist pin, clips, and the small end of the con-rod. We know where to add mass to balance them: at 180 degrees to the crankpin. Sometimes, as in engines with full-circle flywheels, this added extra mass takes the form of cylindrical slugs of heavy metal, such as lead, tungsten, or even depleted uranium, pressed into holes bored parallel with the crank axis and out near the flywheel rim. Or the flywheels may be made with lightening “pork chop” cutaways near the crankpin. When we start adding mass at 180 degrees to the crankpin, what do we find? If, for example, we balance 25 percent of the reciprocating mass (a “25 percent balance factor”), we find that the up-and-down shaking has also decreased by 25 percent. Progress? Fore-and-Aft Shaking This results because when the piston is at TDC, the counterweight is at 180 degrees to it, and when the piston is down, the counterweight is up. The 25 percent counterweight cancels 25 percent of the vertical shaking. But what happens when the crank has rotated to either 90 degrees or 270 degrees after top dead center (ATDC)? At the 90-degree position, our counterweight is trying to pull the crank forward, but there is no piston force opposing it. Same at the 270 degree position: now the counterweight’s inertia is trying to drag the crank back, but there is little piston force because it is once again in mid-stroke. What we have achieved is a 25 percent reduction in up-and-down shaking, but we have also created a new fore-and-aft shaking force that is 25 percent as great as that of the piston in the up-and-down direction. Try as we may, putting counterweights in every imaginable place, what we learn is that no counterweight added to the rotating crankshaft can ever completely balance the up-and-down motion of the piston. If, for example, we add enough counterweight to cancel 100 percent of the up-and-down piston shaking force, we have created a fore-and-aft shaking that is of the same magnitude as the vertical force we are seeking to cancel. Rather than doing away with the piston’s shaking force, all we’ve achieved is a change in its direction. Subjective Balance This is why the old-timers gave up on seeking perfect balance and instead tried to achieve a kind of “subjective balance.” Motorcycle frames and other parts are flexible, and when you bolt a vibrating engine to them, there will be ranges of rpm at which the bar vibrates badly, or the seat subframe fatigue cracks, or the riders complain that their feet or butts go numb after an hour. The engineers took note of what counterweight—measured as a percentage of the engine’s reciprocating weight—felt least bad to riders, a trial-and-error process. What they found was that the best balance factors (percent of reciprocating weight) were high—typically in the range of 65 to 85 percent. This tells us that we and the motorcycle itself are more sensitive to up-and-down shaking than we are to fore-and-aft shaking. This also explains why in general riders have preferred the large 65–85 percent balance factors that cancel most of the vertical shaking but trades that for a large fore-and-aft shaking that annoys us less. The footpegs scrub fore-and-aft under our feet rather than giving us an up-and-down buzz. Same with the seat. Because the bar is flexible, the maker will sometimes install weights inside the bar ends to kill the high frequencies that quickly put our hands to sleep. That was considered enough through the 1960s, but modern riders, given a ride on an old single or 360-firing parallel twin (which vibrates like a single because its pistons move up and down together) usually ask in dismay, “Are they all this bad?” Modern riders expect a higher standard of engine smoothness. Learning to Love Vibration? Life would be simple if the rider were the only part of the package to be fatigued or annoyed by vibration. Many have been told “Real bikes vibrate—get used to it!” But we have no way to tell the seat frame, footpegs, or the foaming fuel in the carburetor float bowls to man up. There is no way to dress up malfunction or broken parts. Maybe a bit of vibration is acceptable to remind us of the romantic past, but the basic truth is we’re better off without most of it. A Better Vibration Solution Excellent balance can be achieved in single-cylinder engines, but only by adding extra parts. Example 1: If we do as the auto industry does, and add counterweight equal to 50 percent of the reciprocating weight, we have reduced peak main-bearing loads by half, which is good. Let’s look at what those loads are as the crank rotates. At TDC, with a 50 percent balance factor, as the piston stops and reverses direction its inertia yanks upward at 100 percent, but is opposed by the 50 percent balance weight 180 degrees away from the crankpin. The net upward force is 100 minus 50, or 50 percent of peak shaking force. As the crank rotates to 90 ATDC, there is almost no piston force because it is in mid-stroke, but the 50 percent balance weight, located at 180 degrees to the crankpin, is now trying to pull the engine backward at 50 percent of peak shaking force. Keep rotating, and when we get to BDC, the piston is at the bottom of its stroke and the inertia of its stopping and changing direction is trying to push the engine downward with 100 percent of peak shaking force. But the crank counterweight, pulling in the opposite direction (straight upward) at 50 percent, reduces this to a net 50 percent. The crank continues its rotation, and when it gets to the 270 degrees ATDC, the piston is once again in mid-stroke creating little inertia force, but the crank counterweight’s force now tries to yank the engine forward with a force of 50 percent of peak shaking. How can we sum this up? What we see first is that the net force in these four positions is constant at 50 percent of peak shaking force. And that constant force is rotating, but when we look closely, we see that it is rotating backward, opposite to the crank! We can roughly cancel this by adding a gear-driven crank-speed balancer, also rotating opposite to the crank, but arranged to cancel the crank’s net backward-rotating imbalance force. Example 2: During World War II, the aircraft-engine industry tested prototype engine cylinders on a standard Universal Test Engine. In order to provide balance that would prevent such test units from constantly breaking things (total recip weight was roughly 8 pounds) they were equipped with two crank-speed balance shafts geared together. Their eccentric weights were phased to arrive together at TDC and BDC, but to be 180 degrees to each other at the 90 and 270 degree positions. Thus, the forces generated by the two balancers added to zero at those 90 and 270 positions, meaning they generated no net horizontal force; but at TDC and BDC they could be sized to add up to values equal and opposite to the piston’s shaking force. The result was smooth operation. If a heavier or lighter piston was to be tested, it was a simple matter to change the masses on the balance shafts to cancel any desired piston weight. Example 3: Rather than provide extra parts just to achieve balance, why not add a second power cylinder and find a way to make the shaking forces of the two pistons cancel each other? Some options: Do it as <a href="https://www.cycleworld.com/story/blogs/ask-kevin/the-advantages-of-flat-motorcycle-engines/">BMW’s boxer engines</a> do, by building a flat twin whose pistons move in opposite directions, with crankpins 180 degrees apart, thus canceling each piston’s shaking forces, though there is always some “crank wobble” caused by the two pistons not sliding along the same axis.Build your engine as a 90-degree V-twin with a 100 percent balance factor crank counterweight, or as Massimo Bordi did with <a href="https://www.cycleworld.com/2007/09/17/cw-classics-ducati-supermono-first-look/">Ducati’s Supermono single</a>, replace one of the two pistons with a sliding weight, resulting in a smooth single-cylinder engine. When you sketch the positions of the pistons and balance weight on the crank at the four positions—TDC, 90, BDC, and 270—you find that everything cancels.Do it as Kawasaki did with its <a href="https://www.cycleworld.com/kawasaki-kr250-road-racer-history-classics-remembered/">Gen 2 KR250 tandem twin GP engine</a> of the late 1970s/early ‘80s. It had two cranks geared together, one ahead of the other, such that its pistons came to TDC and BDC simultaneously. They then provided 100 percent balance-factor counterweights on each crank to cancel TDC and BDC piston shaking forces, while the counterweights on the cranks canceled each other at the 90 and 270 crank positions. The late great <a href="https://www.cycleworld.com/tags/dan-gurney/">Dan Gurney</a> built his very smooth big four-stroke tandem twin using this same scheme.That’s enough for today. I’m going to get up and go see if there are any dinner plans. Source
  9. The 2022 Distinguished Gentleman's Ride was record-breaking, raising nearly $6 million USD. (Triumph Motorcycles/)After two years of pandemic-related social distancing and solo riding, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) returned to pre-COVID fashion on Sunday, June 5. The response was record-breaking; the global event, which takes place alongside Movember, raised close to $6 million USD to help fight prostate cancer, support mental health, and prevent suicide among men. The DGR released the data from its 2022 event this week. The numbers were staggering: 93,456 well-dressed riders participated in rides in 802 cities across 104 countries. Over one-third of the donations arrived from North American rides. Across the USA and Canada, 14,233 riders from 183 cities raised nearly $2.5 million. This dapper rider from the Philadelphia event is what this event is all about: raising money for good causes while looking sharp and riding something cool. (Triumph Motorcycles/)Triumph Motorcycles, the event’s main sponsor, has been supporting the DGR for the past nine years. In 2022, the motorcycle company combined forces with Gibson Guitars, and the two partnered in building a custom Bonneville T120 Gibson edition bike alongside a Triumph-customized 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard Reissue guitar, which were auctioned off to the highest bidder. “It is such an honor to be supporting The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and contribute towards this year’s incredible result, supporting prostate cancer research and men’s mental health,” Triumph chief commercial officer Paul Stroud said. “Next year will mark Triumph’s 10th anniversary as DGR main sponsor, and we are working on something incredibly special to celebrate that milestone.” Here’s a shot from some participating DGR riders in New Zealand. (Triumph Motorcycles/)The 2022 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride raised 4 percent more than the pre-COVID 2019 global event and 47 percent more than last year’s event, which was completed without focused organization from DGR. The ride, founded in 2012 by Mark Hawwa of Sydney, Australia, brings “dapper” personal style together with classic and vintage motorcycles. Fine menswear is on display during the DGR, the theme of which was inspired by an image of actor Jon Hamm as Don Draper of Mad Men wearing a suit while on a motorcycle. The DGR event in Italy was once again a success with scenes like this happening throughout the country. (Triumph Motorcycles/)Since launching in 2012, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride has gathered more than 400,000 riders of vintage and classic motorcycles, raising more than $37 million USD across 114 countries for men’s health. Speaking of the success of the 2022 DGR, Hawwa said, “What an incredible return to group riding! There really is nothing better than seeing tens of thousands of gentlefolk smiling and waving their way through city streets, in support of prostate cancer research and men’s mental health. It’s something we have missed dearly over the last two years. Our community returned with vigor this year with the top three global fundraisers raising more than any previous year, which we have been proud to reward with the support of our global partner, Triumph Motorcycles. The next year will be one to watch, as we celebrate 10 years together with Triumph Motorcycles in spectacularly sartorial style.” The event in New York City featured much dapperness in the home of Mad Men. (Triumph Motorcycles/)For additional information about next year’s event, visit The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. Source
  10. One of the big updates on the 2022 Versys 650 is the addition of traction control. (Kawasaki/)Ups Supercomfortable ergonomicsPleasing and fast-revving engineNow has traction controlLighting and dash have been updatedDowns New four-way-adjustable windshield still cannot be adjusted on the flyTouchy throttle and clunky shiftingVerdict Kawasaki’s middleweight adventure-tourer will happily tackle any manner of pavement from winding country road to sprawling five-lane highway. The Versys 650 has an entertaining fast-revving engine, great suspension, and new updates that contribute to its versatility. Consider it a jack-of-many-trades, a well-built, comfortable, and enjoyable motorcycle for daily commuting or weekend adventures. Overview Introduced in 2009, the Versys 650 has delivered on its promise of being a balanced machine that’s just as enjoyable whether the rider is revving out its sporty and playful parallel-twin engine or taking it easy and making full use of the 650′s plush seat and wind protection. This mid-displacement Versys shares an engine with the Ninja 650 and Z650, while its adjustable windscreen and upright riding position set it up for the longer haul. Meanwhile, the LT model ups the touring ante with hand guards and large hard cases as standard. Cast aluminum 17-inch wheels, street-oriented tires, and a low 6.7-inch ground clearance mean this is more of a street-oriented tourer, yet the bike’s long-travel suspension and new traction control help will play a helping hand as road conditions worsen or riders get a little adventurous. Whether riding to work or nowhere in particular, the revised Versys 650 will get you there in comfort and offer an engaging riding experience along the way. The front end of the Versys 650 sees many changes in 2022, including a sharper front cowl, LED headlights, new dash, and a four-way-adjustable windscreen. (Kawasaki/)Updates for 2022 For 2022, Kawasaki has fitted the Versys 650 with traction control, a full-color TFT with smartphone connectivity, LED headlights, a sharper front cowl, and a four-way-adjustable windshield. Pricing and Variants The Versys 650 comes in two versions, the standard model ($8,899–$9,099) and the LT ($9,999). The LT version includes 28-liter saddlebags and hand guards as standard. Riders planning to do a little more long-distance touring with their Versys might consider opting for the LT, while most commuters will find the standard model offers all the comfort and features they need. Competition Riders interested in middleweight adventure-touring motorcycles would also be looking at the BMW F 750 GS, Honda NC750X, and Suzuki V-Strom 650 or pony up for larger-displacement machines like the Ducati Multistrada V2 or Yamaha Tracer 9 GT. The Versys’ compact 649cc parallel twin has a linear power curve leading up to its peak 60 hp. (Kawasaki/)Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance The Versys 650 is powered by a 649cc parallel-twin engine it shares with the Ninja 650 and Z650. This engine is compact, centralizing weight down low with its low-slung exhaust. Kawasaki explains that the engine’s compact design is due to a triangular crank and transmission shaft layout that makes it short from front to back, while the semi-dry sump oil system reduces overall engine height. The narrow pitch of the cylinders helps reduce width. On the Cycle World dyno, the Versys produces 59.6 peak horsepower at 8,070 rpm and 41.6 peak pound-feet of torque at 7,210 rpm. Its dyno chart shows a perfect slope indicative of its smooth power delivery, while a tabletop torque curve hints at the bike’s tractable, approachable character. The quick-revving engine lets out an entertaining growl in the low-to-mid rpm range. There are some shortcomings, including a slightly abrupt on/off throttle and a clunky gearbox, so riders should be diligent with their inputs. Handling The Versys 650 can feel a touch heavy when being lifted off the stand, but that weight does not affect the bike’s handling while in motion. Thanks to the bike’s well-balanced chassis and light steering, it glides down the freeway and is right at home on winding roads. Credit the wide one-piece handlebar, which offers a neutral riding position while creating the necessary leverage for tackling curvy stretches. The suspension is very well balanced right out of the box. The suspension’s great tuning and over 5 inches of travel at both ends help the bike float over ribbed roads and tackle larger, harsher bumps with ease. The telescopic fork is adjustable for rebound and preload while the shock is adjustable for preload only. A simple-to-use remote adjuster makes tailoring the shock easy to accommodate the added weight from a passenger or, in the case of the LT, fully loaded hard cases. Brakes Braking duties are handled by two-piston Nissin radial-mount calipers and dual 300mm discs. The pairing brings the bike to a well-controlled standstill and a progressive lever feel communicates that stopping power well to the rider. At the other end resides a one-piston caliper and 250mm disc. This, too, performs well, and is only slightly less communicative than the front. ABS comes standard on both the front and rear. A plush seat is comfortable for many miles of riding. (Kawasaki/)Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG The Versys drinks from a large 5.5-gallon fuel tank and has a fuel economy of 42.5 mpg. This is impressive considering the size of this machine, but competition, such as the smaller-displacement Honda CB500X, can sip fuel a little more efficiently (tested an average of 54.6 mpg). Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility One of the first things the Versts calls to mind is comfort. Riders will note the relaxed upright riding position, effective windscreen (now four-way adjustable), and plush seat. The 33.3-inch seat height required only a slight stretch and thick-soled boots for our 6-foot, 32-inch inseam test rider to completely flat-foot it at stops; other test riders around 5-foot-7 felt comfortable touching both feet down as well. The tank grooves are perfectly formed, especially for longer legs, and offer great grip when leaning in for turns. If more utility is desired, the LT version offers hand guards and side cases that can fit a full-face helmet. The dash is new and improved. It keeps the rider updated with mass amounts of information yet is easy to read. Bluetooth connectivity is another feature that brings the Versys 650 into the 21st century. (Kawasaki/)Electronics Kawasaki heard our requests for better electronics and made updates that really stepped up the Versys’ game. In addition to its standard ABS, the Versys 650 now has traction control. Three options allow the Versys’ TC to be less intrusive (Mode 1), have earlier intervention (Mode 2), or be turned off by using a switch on the handlebar. Kawasaki has also upgraded the latest-generation Versys with a 4.3-inch, full-color TFT that gives an abundance of information and is easy to read. To further enhance its modern dash, a Bluetooth chip allows for connection to compatible smartphones and the Rideology app. LED lighting is becoming the norm on modern motorcycles; the Versys 650 is now equipped with LED headlights. The LT version comes with hard cases and hand guards as standard. It also has a different warranty and MSRP. (Kawasaki/)Warranty and Maintenance Coverage The Versys 650 comes with a 12-month limited warranty and the LT with a 24-month limited warranty. The Kawasaki Protection Plus plan can extend the factory warranty and is available for purchase. Quality The Versys 650 and LT version were already high up on the quality scale, but Kawasaki’s improvements, especially to the electronics, have brought this great commuter into the 21st century. 2022 Kawasaki Versys 650/LT Claimed Specifications MSRP: $8,899-$9,099 (base) / $9,999 (LT) Engine: 649cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 4 valves/cyl. Bore x Stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Cycle World Measured Horsepower: 59.60 hp @ 8,070 rpm Cycle World Measured Torque: 41.55 lb.ft. @ 7,210 rpm Fuel Delivery: DFI w/ Keihin 38mm throttle bodies (2) Clutch: Wet, multiplate Engine Management/Ignition: N/A Frame: Double-pipe perimeter frame Front Suspension: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork, rebound and preload adjustable; 5.9 in. travel Rear Suspension: Single shock, preload adjustable; 5.7 in. travel Front Brake: Nissin 2-piston calipers, dual 300mm petal discs w/ ABS Rear Brake: Nissin 1-piston caliper, 250mm petal disc w/ ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: Cast aluminum, 17 in. / 17 in. Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70-17 / 160/60-17 Rake/Trail: 25.0°/4.3 in. Wheelbase: 55.7 in. Ground Clearance: 6.7 in. Seat Height: 33.3 in. Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal. Cycle World Measured Wet Weight: 500 lb. (LT) Contact: kawasaki.com Source
  11. Ducati’s 2022 Streetfighter V2 has found just the right balance between power and performance with a composed chassis and 955cc twin. (Ducati/)Ups Great power delivery, versatile and practical for the streetAll of the excellent electronics you want from a DucatiMore relaxed riding position than Panigale V2Downs An affordable Ducati is still an expensive motorcycleHandlebar position cramps wrists on long ridesLess aggressive brake pad compound than PanigaleVerdict Taking cues from the Panigale V2 and its 955cc Superquadro 90-degree V-twin engine, Ducati has taken the natural step of building a naked version of that fully faired sportbike. A more upright riding position with a one-piece handlebar, more relaxed footpeg position, and street-oriented nature make the Streetfighter V2 a great everyday ride. While the other bikes in the Streetfighter range have grown into 1,103cc asphalt rippers putting out 200-plus horsepower, the V2 has kept it real by keeping the door open for a wider variety of buyers. The Ducati Streetfighter V2 is essentially a stripped-down, bare-skinned version of the Panigale V2 sportbike intended as a more practical option to its Streetfighter V4 lineup. (Ducati/)Overview Naked sportbikes are all about raw performance in a simple stripped-down package, but they’re also meant to be more practical and enjoyable for everyday street riding. As Ducati’s larger-displacement Streetfighter range has gained cylinders with the introduction of the V-4 engine, price and power have pushed their limits ever higher. The Streetfighter V2 hopes to make Ducati’s naked sportbikes more accessible. Not only is the $16,995 price tag at least more accessible, at $3,000 less than the lowest-priced V4, but the V2 has a friendly yet still potent power output that, when combined with an excellent suite of electronic rider aids, makes the V2 an incredible streetbike. As this bike is a stripped-down lean-muscle version of the Panigale V2, Ducati pushed the footpeg position down and forward for a less aggressive stance, as well as thickening and widening the saddle for more comfort. (Ducati/)Naked sportbikes have been around for decades, but Ducati has always managed to keep its Streetfighter offerings true to the company’s image, with raw power, amazing styling, and excellent performance. They really are stripped down, not dumbed down, versions of sportbikes like the Panigale. Riding to work during the week and ripping curvy roads on the weekend is what the Streetfighter V2 is all about. Updates for 2022 This is a brand-new model for 2022, meant to fill the gap left when Ducati adopted the V-4 engine configuration on its most-potent sportbikes and superbikes. Ducati offers a number of performance-minded accessories via its parts catalog, including biplane winglets, which are priced at a pretty staggering $1,492. (Ducati/)Pricing and Variants The Streetfighter V2 is available in Ducati Red for $16,995 and Storm Green for $17,495. The Sport accessory package with its carbon fiber and billet aluminum accessories is an additional $1,270. Competition Nakeds or streetfighters have evolved from the OG Triumph Speed Triple, while over time a ton of others have jumped on the bandwagon like KTM’s 1290 Super Duke, Aprilia’s Tuono RSV4, MV Agusta’s Dragster RR SCS, and BMW’s S 1000 RR. The Japanese got in the game too, with bikes like the Honda CB1000R, Kawasaki’s Z900 and Z H2, and Yamaha’s MT-10, MT-09, and MT-07. The Streetfighter V2 is dripping with race-inspired electronics; a six-axis IMU manages all the electronic controls of the bike. Modes can be individually customized to rider preferences via the Streetfighter V2′s 4.3-inch TFT display. (Ducati/)Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance While the liquid-cooled 955cc Superquadro 90-degree V-twin engine is identical to the Panigale V2 in principle, Ducati made slight modifications for more practical street performance. Final drive gearing has been shortened via the addition of two teeth to the rear sprocket to aid engine response. Ducati claims the powerplant is good for 153 hp at 10,750 rpm and 74.8 pound-feet of torque at 9,000 rpm. The Streetfighter V2 has the subtle touch of a gentle giant at low rpm and a rough-and-tumble personality when ridden with aggression. Off-idle fueling and initial throttle response is direct with a solid connection to the rear wheel via Ducati’s finely calibrated ride-by-wire system. It’s easy to romp around between 5,000 and 8,000 rpm, taking advantage of the V2′s broad torque spread. The Streetfighter V2’s one-piece handlebar is pushed forward enough to create an uncomfortable wrist pressure while logging big miles or extended track sessions. (Ducati/)There’s a small window from 8,000 rpm to around 10,000 where the Streetfighter punches into a higher weight class with breathtaking acceleration and lofting wheelies, always an effective strategy for reducing front-tire wear. Its fighting spirit is short-lived, however, as it quickly signs off around its 11,500 rpm redline; a gear change via the clutchless Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) EVO 2 system managing the bike’s well-spaced six-speed gearbox is required. Handling The Streetfighter’s chassis is remarkably well-balanced. Although it’s fundamentally the same running gear as the Panigale V2′s, Ducati lengthened the single-sided swingarm by 16mm (0.6 inch) for additional stability and added two chain links to offset the gearing change. The final result is a wheelbase 26mm (1 inch) longer than the Panigale’s. But while the straight-line stability is excellent, the bike still smashes corner apexes. It carves, quickly, with a front-end feel that can be relied upon and planted midcorner composure, all of it complemented by a Showa BPF fork and Sachs shock that are resilient enough for racetrack conditions and balanced enough for on-road comfort. A Showa BPF fork and Sachs shock are resilient enough for racetrack conditions and balanced enough for on-road comfort. (Ducati/)Brakes The Streetfighter V2 gets less aggressive brake pads than the Panigale in identical Brembo M4.32 Monoblock brake calipers. Feel at the lever is compromised a bit, but they still work quite well, as does Ducati’s ABS Cornering EVO system. Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG Cycle World has yet to test the bike on our own roads, so we’ll have to wait for real-world numbers Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility As this bike is a stripped-down lean-muscle version of the Panigale V2, Ducati pushed the footpeg position down and forward to a less aggressive stance, thickened and widened the saddle shape for more comfort, and fitted the Streetfighter with a motocross-style handlebar. Overall comfort is quite good and viable for the daily ride, but aggressive enough to take advantage of the V2′s sporting prowess. The Streetfighter V2 has the subtle touch of a gentle giant at low rpm and a rough-and-tumble personality when ridden with aggression. (Ducati/)Electronics Yeah, the Streetfighter has a few bells and whistles: Ride modes include Sport, Road, and Wet. Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO 2 has eight levels plus off, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO has four levels, while the Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO has three levels. There are also multiple power modes, Bosch Cornering ABS EVO, auto-tire calibration, and Ducati Quick Shift (DQS); an optional Ducati Data Analyser with GPS, anti-theft system, and Ducati Multimedia System are available options. Warranty and Maintenance Coverage Ducati offers a 24-month unlimited-mileage warranty. Quality Ducati now recommends normal maintenance service intervals of 7,500 miles and the first valve-clearance check at 15,000 miles, so buyers can rest easy and just ride. Want to head to the racetrack after a long week of commuting to work? The Streetfighter V2 is up to the challenge. (Ducati/)2022 Ducati Streetfighter V2 Claimed Specifications MSRP: $16,995 (Ducati Red) / $17,495 (Storm Green) Engine: 955cc Superquadro liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin; 4 valves/cyl. Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 60.8mm Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Claimed Horsepower: 153.0 hp @ 10,750 rpm Claimed Torque: 74.8 lb.-ft. @ 9,000 rpm Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection w/ ride-by-wire Clutch: Wet, multiplate slipper; hydraulic actuation Engine Management/Ignition: Electronic Frame: Monocoque aluminum Front Suspension: 43mm Showa BPF fork, fully adjustable; 4.7 in. travel Rear Suspension: Sachs shock, fully adjustable; 5.1 in. travel Front Brake: Brembo M4.32 4-piston calipers, dual 320mm discs w/ Cornering ABS EVO Rear Brake: 2-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ Cornering ABS EVO Wheels, Front/Rear: 5-spoke alloy; 17 x 3.50 in./17 x 5.50 in. Tires, Front/Rear: Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV; 120/70-17/ 180/60-17 Rake/Trail: 24.0°/3.7 in. Wheelbase: 57.7 in. Ground Clearance: N/A Seat Height: 33.3 in. Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal. Wet Weight: 441 lb. Contact: ducati.com Source
  12. The Honda Rebel 300 is a beginner bike that provides riders with everything it takes to develop their skills. More than perhaps any other bike, this Honda gives riders their wings. (Honda/)Ups A top-quality beginner motorcycleWonderfully approachable and reliable 286cc engineLight clutch pull with assist and slipper clutchLow 27.3-inch seat heightDowns Seat is small, dense, and could be more comfortable.Long-legged riders will find ergonomics slightly crampedVerdict Honda’s Rebel 300 can easily be considered the crème de la crème of beginner cruisers. An integral part of Honda’s small-displacement lineup, this bike has a highly predictable and mild-mannered engine, a low, confidence-inspiring seat, and stable, predictable handling that helps emphasize the fun factor for new riders. Honda hit the nail right on the head with this one. Overview Since its introduction as a cheap and cheerful 250cc single in the mid-’80s, the Honda Rebel has been the standard for beginner cruisers. In 2017, Honda transformed the little cruiser into the modern Rebel 300 we see today, adding a modern four-bulb LED headlight, a now-iconic peanut tank, and a solo saddle, giving the bike’s design the look of a larger cruiser in a small-displacement package. Most importantly, this is a bike that welcomes even the most timid new riders with a low seat height and friendly 286cc engine. And that’s how they getcha; once Rebel riders are hooked, Honda cleverly encourages them to enjoy the same familiar goodness in a stronger dose with the Rebel 500 and Rebel 1100. Two colors, Matte Gray Metallic (shown here) and Pearl Blue, are available for the Rebel 300 and ABS version. (Honda/)Updates for 2022 The Rebel does not receive any significant changes for the 2022 model year. Even color options remain the same, with the bike coming in Pearl Blue and Matte Gray Metallic. Pricing and Variants The Rebel 300 comes in ABS and non-ABS versions; standard versions are priced at $4,699 and the ABS at $4,999. Many cruiserworthy accessories are available through Honda, including custom seats, fork covers, and a headlight cowl. Competition Although the Rebel arguably dominates the beginner cruiser market, it has some competition from the Yamaha V Star 250, Indian Scout Sixty, and Royal Enfield Meteor 350. Honda’s 286cc single-cylinder engine is smooth, predictable, and has enough character to enjoy the ride. (Honda/)Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance Honda’s 286cc single-cylinder engine is user-friendly and fun, quick to rev, and entertaining to push to its limits. It is also very forgiving, as it doesn’t threaten to stall when an inexperienced rider shifts into too high a gear, a great trait for beginners who are still understanding the ins and outs of the powerband. Thanks to a well-developed assist and slipper clutch, clutch pull is light and hand fatigue is not a concern. The Rebel’s six-speed transmission shifts smoothly and does not catch false neutrals, so shifting is straightforward. With its measured 25 hp, the engine can get up to freeway pace with reasonable alacrity and keep the bike there for the duration. The Rebel’s 0–60 time of 7.85 seconds means riders can even beat out some of the traffic at the stoplight. Handling The Rebel carries its weight down low, which makes it easy to tackle everything from tight city streets to the occasional trip into the hills, and its chassis is impressively composed. The 41mm telescopic fork and dual shocks provide decently sporty feedback when tackling tight turns. While small bump compliance is good for soaking up minor road imperfections, Cycle World found that the rear shocks will bottom out on larger bumps. This is still a bike for mellow, laid-back rides, reassuring beginners as they become familiar with motorcycling. The LCD gauge displays relevant information while keeping the appearance minimalistic. (Honda/)Brakes Nissin hydraulic calipers grip onto single 296mm and 240mm discs front and rear respectively. Cycle World’s brake testing of the 2021 model showed a braking distance from 30–0 mph at 35.27 feet and a braking distance from 60–0 mph at 141.3 feet, better than its competition. More specifically, the Rebel’s 60–0 braking distance was 17.48 feet, or the length of an average SUV, shorter than the Royal Enfield Meteor 350′s. That shorter stopping distance gives riders more time to react to suddenly stopped traffic, which is especially beneficial to new riders. And a squeeze of the lever or press of the pedal offers great braking feedback, allowing riders to understand what’s going on and apply pressure as needed. Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG During testing the 300 averaged 57.8 mpg in real-world riding. Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility The Rebel platform is well known for its low seat height. At just 27.3 inches off the ground, the seat is supremely low and easy for riders of all inseams to get comfortable on. This is especially great for shorter riders who may feel intimidated by bike size. Legroom is slightly cramped for those over a 31-inch inseam, but they’ll still find reach to the bars plenty comfortable. A full LED lighting package brings the Rebel 300 to the modern age. Honda also does well in keeping wiring and cables neat and tidy. (Honda/)Electronics Electronics on this bike are fairly straightforward. A circular LCD gauge relays relevant information in an easy-to-read format, while all-LED lighting throws clear, bright light for great visibility. ABS models offer an extra element of protection while braking in adverse conditions, though there are no other riding aids or riding modes. The Rebel 300′s low-slung weight is a contributing factor to its nimble, yet stable handling. (Honda/)Warranty and Maintenance Coverage The Rebel 300 has a one-year, unlimited-mileage transferable warranty. An extension can be made with the HondaCare Protection Plan. Quality Honda likes to keep its bikes neat as a pin and the Honda Rebel 300 is no different. Wires and cables are always cleanly wrapped and tucked in, helping to keep up the bike’s clean, minimalist appearance. 2022 Honda Rebel 300/ABS Claimed Specifications MSRP: $4,699 (base)/$4,999 (ABS) Engine: 286cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled single; 4 valves/ cyl. Bore x Stroke: 76.0 x 63.0mm Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Cycle World Measured Horsepower: 25.01 hp @ 7,640 rpm Cycle World Measured Torque: 17.59 @ 7,320 rpm Fuel Delivery: PGM-FI fuel injection w/ 38mm throttle bodies Clutch: Wet, multiplate Engine Management/Ignition: Computer-controlled digital transistorized w/ electronic advance Frame: Diamond-type steel Front Suspension: 41mm telescopic fork; 4.8 in. travel Rear Suspension: Twin shock; 3.8 in. travel Front Brake: Hydraulic caliper, 296mm disc / Hydraulic caliper, 296mm disc w/ ABS Rear Brake: Hydraulic caliper, 240mm disc / Hydraulic caliper, 240mm disc w/ ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: Cast aluminum; 16 in. / 16 in. Tires, Front/Rear: 130/90-16 / 150/80-16 Rake/Trail: 28.0°/4.3 in. Wheelbase: 58.7 in. Ground Clearance: 5.9 in. Cycle World Measured Seat Height: 27.3 in. Fuel Capacity: 2.95 gal. (0.6 gal. reserve) Cycle World Measured Wet Weight: 372 lb. Contact: powersports.honda.com Source
  13. Kevin Cameron has been writing about motorcycles for nearly 50 years, first for <em>Cycle magazine</em> and, since 1992, for <em>Cycle World</em>. (Robert Martin/)The problem of edible fats and oils deteriorating over time has been with us forever—my mother spoke of bacon kept too long in the fridge as “going rancid” (developing an unpleasant taste). Petroleum molecules have vulnerable structures which can be similarly attacked if they are “unsaturated,” that is, if they contain double carbon bonds. When oxygen attaches itself at such points, separate chains can join together, causing thickening. At the AMA’s Atlanta roadrace in 1973, one of the big air-cooled four-stroke entries ran so hot that its engine oil transformed into an amber-colored rubbery gel. The team owner—simultaneously outraged and fascinated—made the rounds of the paddock, showing us all this curiosity. How did it happen? Modern petroleum oils of good quality are reformed in a process that changes olefins and aromatics into saturated structures less vulnerable to oxygen attack. Synthetic oils share this reduced vulnerability. But 50 years ago there were evidently less desirable molecular varieties in whichever oil that gentleman was using, and when it became very hot, oxygen cross-linked it into a gel in a process vaguely similar to vulcanizing rubber. Problems With Fuel Oxidation Another concern—maybe more worrisome today—is that fuel in long storage (in an inactive vehicle, for example) may “go bad,” forming gum—especially in the presence of catalytic metals such as copper. So-called “cracked” gasolines contain olefins that are especially vulnerable. Normally the high turnover rate of fuel stocks at filling stations prevents trouble, but if it’s sitting in your bike’s tank over the winter… The word “catalysis” sounds frightening, but merely refers to substances that can change the rate at which a chemical reaction takes place without themselves being consumed. I like to think of the catalyst (in the above case copper, iron, or lead) as the mugger’s large assistant, who pins the victim while his wallet is lifted. In the molecular case, the electric field around the nucleus of a heavy-metal atom can deform the shape of the target molecules in a manner that makes the desired chemical reaction more likely to occur. Related: Soap, Detergents, And Dispersants In the instance of fuel-system corrosion, metals act as catalysts to accelerate oxidation. Fuel blenders therefore add “metal inactivators,” molecules that attach themselves to metal surfaces to form an unreactive protective layer. Stale Fuel and Fuel Storage Motorcyclists of a certain age have had the disagreeable experience of being unable to start a bike that has been long stored “wet.” A common result of such storage is that the most volatile components of the gasoline have evaporated out through the tank breather, leaving the remaining fluid as a kind of “lamp oil.” Its refusal to evaporate and form a spark-ignitable mixture may prevent the engine from starting. Even if you replace the lamp oil with fresh fuel, the engine still may not run properly; while it may start, it stalls rather than returning to idle. In this case the gum that has formed in the fuel blocks the carburetor’s tiny idle jets. This occurs when the fuel in carburetor float bowls evaporates over weeks or months. You’ll need to remove and disassemble and clean the carburetors, with special attention to those idle jets. Here’s an excuse to buy that ultrasonic cleaner you’ve been wanting. Modern bikes with both digital fuel injection and an evaporative emissions canister system (to prevent evaporating fuel from entering the atmosphere) are much less likely to suffer from the above. Fuel Stabilizers Fuel stabilizers are mainly antioxidants that block the gum-forming reaction. Similar chemistry provides protection for lube oils and edible fats. Antioxidants were originally developed in the 1920s for application to edible oils, but later proved their value in lube oils, where they slowed the process experienced by our friend at the Atlanta race mentioned above. Sludge formation was also an oxidative process well known in an earlier time. Before the development of oil additives such as antioxidants and dispersants, high-hour engines generated sludge that could eventually block oil circulation, leading to engine failure. Related: Get Your Bike Ready For Summer In The Winter These reactions occur during early steps in a reaction chain leading toward actual combustion, which ultimately combines atmospheric oxygen with the carbon and hydrogen of the fuel, oil, or fat to form the final combustion products carbon dioxide and water. At first, thermal agitation knocks those reactive fragments (called radicals) loose; further reactions form a chain leading to gel, gum, or sludge. By reacting with certain of these radicals, antioxidants divert them from their normal reaction path. Think of the antioxidant as an agent sent to calm down a crowd by passing out hundred-dollar bills. Harmony is restored! Source
  14. Swedish company Airbag Inside’s patent illustrations show what the parachutes would look like deployed. (Airbag Inside AB/)Swedish company Airbag Inside has already been developing an airbag-clothing system under the brand name Mo’cycle that places airbags inside the sleeves of jackets and legs of pants. It’s launching its first products, including airbag jeans, an airbag vest, and even airbag shorts later this year, but the company’s patents show even more ambitious ideas for the future. Among them are airbag-equipped boots and a parachute system. Swedish company Airbag Inside has already been testing airbag-equipped clothing for its brand Mo’cycle. (Airbag Inside/)The idea might seem wild, but parachutes have been used for decades to slow top-fuel dragsters and even military aircraft where there is limited room to bring vehicles to a stop quickly. The parachutes also help keep those vehicles pointed straight as they decelerate. On racetracks in particular, crashing riders face a similar problem—they need to be slowed down or stopped before reaching a guardrail or wall, and the only thing slowing them down is the friction between their riding gear and the asphalt, or the resistance of a gravel trap. A conventional nylon-canopy parachute attached by cords isn’t a great idea, however. That relies on passing airflow to deploy the main chute by first catching the wind with a small funnel-shaped chute called a drogue, and then pulling the main canopy from its pack. It then takes time and distance for the canopy to fully inflate and pull the cords tight before it starts to slow down the tethered object or person. In a bike crash, the chances are that a tumbling rider would get tangled with the drogue or the main chute before it could catch the necessary air to inflate and be effective. This is what the uninflated vest would look like. (Airbag Inside/)It might appear odd at first, but that’s where Airbag Inside’s idea comes in, and has had considerable thought applied to the theory. The concept is to use two small canopies that look like small kids wading pools with an inflatable outer edge that expands into shape immediately, without the need for a drogue or passing airflow. Similarly, the main “cords” (or attachment points) to the canopies are inflated to become relatively firm and to position them above the rider’s head. The only actual lines are stabilizing strings to stop the canopies from spinning and/or shedding the air they catch. They’re attached to points above the rider’s head to keep them away from the rider’s neck and reduce the chance of tangling. The system is inflated using conventional airbag-inflation technology—which could be either pyrotechnic or via compressed-gas canisters. Here is the patent illustration for the inflated parachute floating above the rider’s head. (Airbag Inside/)With the canopies above the rider, the idea is that once inflated, they’ll make sure the rider slides feet first and is quickly slowed down, pulling them away from the bike and either coming to a halt quickly or decelerating significantly before impacting any trackside obstacles. A side view of the inflated parachute. (Airbag Inside/)The idea appears to be oriented more toward racetrack use—where the trajectory of crashing bikes and riders is more predictable than on public roads—but it would be interesting to see the system in action. It might prove unworkable in the real world, as the canopies would need to inflate very quickly to prevent tangling, but nonetheless any idea that could contribute to safety is worth a second look. Source
  15. Might the 2022 KTM RC 390 be the best small-bore sportbike on sale today? It makes a great argument as such. (Adam Campbell/)There is much to be said for riding a slow bike fast. There is even more to be said about riding a slow bike that’ll go really fast under the right conditions. And the bike we’ve got in mind here is the 2022 KTM RC 390, maybe the best budget-conscious baby sportbike on the market. Light on its feet, easy to ride, and easy on the wallet at a starting price of $5,799, the RC could also be the best beginner’s racebike on the market. Beginner's racebike or fuel-sipping commuter? The KTM RC 390 can be both. (Adam Campbell/)Cycle World’s Road Test Editor Michael Gilbert investigated the RC’s “Ready to Race” qualities, and found on the Streets of Willow Springs racetrack that the little speeder excelled in many ways. But what about on the streets of Los Angeles? The RC is built around KTM’s well-developed single-cylinder 373cc engine and augmented with a world of sophisticated rider-assist features. A new ride-by-wire system incorporates improved engine mapping, throttle maintenance, and multi-setting “Spin Adjuster” traction control, plus cornering ABS and a Supermoto ABS setting. A slipper clutch, and possibly the optional clutchless quickshifter, help optimize the RC 390′s 40.2 hp and 24.4 pound-feet of torque. Stainless steel headers and aluminum exhaust pipe deliver a growly rumble. The six-speed gearbox requires a fair bit of attention, even with the quickshifter, but puts the power where it needs to be. A 373cc single powers the RC 390, putting out 40.2 rear-wheel horsepower and 24.4 pound-feet of torque. (Adam Campbell/)With all that shifting, the soft clutch pull helped; a Rekluse aftermarket clutch is also an option. Brakes were very responsive, with fantastic stopping power from a 320mm disc up front and a 230mm disc behind, backed up by Bosch two-channel ABS. The WP Apex suspension at both ends kept the RC 390 glued to the ground. Feel from the front brake is strong and stops the bike well, however on the <i>Cycle World</i> test strip the RC 390 returned a longish 147 feet to stop from 60 mph. (Adam Campbell/)The clip-ons are adjustable, with selections appropriate for both lapping the track and splitting lanes on the way home. There is less adjustment elsewhere, shifter, brake pedal, seat; rider adjustment or aftermarket parts are required if the ergos don’t suit. But the overall result is a lively and flickable canyon carver, perfect for short blasts through the Topanga twisties or the Angeles Crest curves. At speed the bike feels lighter than its advertised dry weight of 342 pounds. Handling is intuitive; the RC 390 corners as if drawn by a string, so effortless that RC might stand for radio-controlled. Bending a corner is easy on the RC 390; think it and it is done. (Adam Campbell/)Fast is fun, faster is funner. Gilbert found speeds of 100 mph easy to achieve and maintain on the track. On the street, except perhaps on a fast-moving freeway, it’s hard to keep this frisky fellow under the speed limit. The RC 390 is good-looking too, finished in KTM orange and black with unexpected splashes of cerulean blue and echoing the KTM RC16 factory racer. I noticed a lot of “Hey, what is that?” looks from other riders. Bright anodized accessory parts shine here and there. It looks fast standing still. Styling is bold; the headlight disappears into the bodywork when it’s not lit, and the taillights are so small, like the ember on a cigarette, that it’s hard to believe they’re legal. Everything combines to underscore the track bike DNA. Hints of KTM’s RC16 MotoGP racer are found all over the RC 390. (Adam Campbell/)That DNA may be a challenge for riders, like myself, who are not young, petite, or flexible. The suspension is stiff in all settings. The seat is hard. The rider triangle is tight. The footpegs are high enough to put your knees in your chest, but not high enough to avoid the occasional street-scraping in the tighter corners. The mirrors are tidy and set close to the center of the bike, so rearview information is minimal. The pillion seat is an afterthought; sitting on it is like sitting on a hatbox. Ergonomics are on the tight side, but not as cramped as full-fledged superport. (Adam Campbell/)Perhaps small things are best taken in small doses. I did mostly short runs here and there on the RC 390, and found my fuel economy ran about 60–62 mpg. The tank holds 3.6 gallons. In the end, anyone’s feelings about this motorcycle may, as everything else in life, be a matter of expectation and perspective. The RC 390 isn’t a stallion like the 890 Duke or a draught horse like the 1290 Super Adventure. It’s a pony. But a really peppy pony. 2022 KTM RC 390 Specifications MSRP: $5,799 Engine: DOHC, liquid-cooled single-cylinder Displacement: 373cc Bore x Stroke: 89.0 x 60.0mm Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Cycle World Measured Horsepower: 40.2 hp @ 8,850 rpm Cycle World Measured Torque: 24.4 lb.-ft. @ 6,880 rpm Fuel System: Electronic fuel injection w/ ride-by-wire Clutch: PASC anti-hopping slipper; mechanically operated Frame: Steel trellis tube Front Suspension: WP Apex 43mm inverted cartridge fork, compression and rebound adjustable; 4.7 in. travel Rear Suspension: WP Apex shock, rebound and spring preload adjustable; 5.9 in. travel Front Brake: 4-piston ByBre caliper, 320mm disc w/ Cornering ABS Rear Brake: 1-piston floating caliper, 230mm disc w/ ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: 5-spoke wheels; 17 in. / 17 in. Tires, Front/Rear: Continental ContiRoad; 110/70-17/ 150/60-17 Rake/Trail: 23.5°/3.3 in. Wheelbase: 52.9 in. Ground Clearance: 6.2 in. Seat Height: 32.4 in. Fuel Capacity: 3.6 gal. Average MPG: 60–62 mpg Cycle World Measured Wet Weight: 365 lb. Availability: Now Contact: ktm.com CW Measured Performance Quarter-Mile: 13.99 sec. @ 94.29 mph 0–30 mph: 1.94 sec. 0–60 mph: 4.97 sec. 0–100 mph: 17.78 sec. Top-Gear Roll-On, 40–60 mph: 5.84 sec. Top-Gear Roll-On, 60–80 mph: 5.82 sec. Braking, 30–0 mph: 35.31 ft. Braking, 60–0 mph: 147.74 ft. Source
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