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Hugh Janus

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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
  16. Francesco Bagnaia took the win in Mugello. (MotoGP/)If ever there was a time and place for Ducati to “win in formation,” Mugello was it. But it didn’t happen that way; Francesco Bagnaia did win on a factory Ducati, but with Fabio Quartararo’s down-on-power Yamaha second and Aleix Espargaró's Aprilia third. Point leader Quartararo on Friday reckoned his chances of a podium finish against the Ducatis as poor; his bike’s normally pivotal ability, the mechanical grip essential to midcorner speed, was mysteriously missing. He would rediscover it in FP4. “I was struggling in the turning area. I was using too much of the track and going super wide.” Incipient rain and ominous lightning Saturday brought a shock qualifying result: New man Fabio Di Giannantonio put his Ducati on pole at 1:46.156 while veterans questioned the sense of slicks on any water at all at 220 mph. Di G explained: “…when you are full of focus then you don’t see the sky. More or less you see [only] your line.” This made me recall Miguel Duhamel at the 1998 AMA National at Loudon, New Hampshire, continuing his qualifying attempt with raindrops on his screen. He crashed, suffering a double compound leg fracture. The whole Mugello front row were newcomers; Marco Bezzecchi second, Luca Marini third. Bezzecchi brought thoughtful insight to the rain-and-slicks dialog: “If we were riding with slicks and lapping at 1:50 or more, then it [would have been] more dangerous.” It’s normal for wet race lap times to be 8–10 seconds slower than for dry, so the pole sitter’s low 1:46 being only one second slower than Quartararo’s 2021 pole lap indicates end-of-qualifying conditions were marginal but manageable. No one expected to see these low-hours riders on the podium because MotoGP tire management skills are not intuitive. Di G finished 11th, almost 13 seconds out of first. Bezzecchi and Marini finished very creditably in fifth and sixth. Fabio Di Giannantonio was on pole and led the race for a brief moment, the rookie eventually finished 11th. (MotoGP/)Bagnaia wasn’t expecting a milk run, saying, “It’ll be difficult to have a race here where you push and break away.” He expected pursuers but the chaos of the start made him the pursuer, in ninth after turn 1, lap 1. “I didn’t get a bad start but at the first corner I found myself between two Ducatis and I had to come off the throttle. Then at turn 4, Márquez touched me. So I tried to be smart and it wasn’t easy with all the other riders pushing.” Think of the intensity of those moments, trying to extract sense and safety from hurtling shapes and noises, hoping to find your way forward. “I struggled to overtake Di Giannantonio because he was pushing hard on the tires, while I wanted to manage them.” Quartararo managed to be fifth after one lap and by lap 4 was second. More back-and-forth was to come, with Bagnaia and Bezzecchi ahead of him he disposed of Bezzecchi on lap 11. The crucial task now was to remain ahead of the impetuous youths and then see whether Bagnaia, now leading, was reachable. Fabio Quartararo finished second in Mugello, over a half- second behind Bagnaia. (MotoGP/)He was not, so the result was Bagnaia first from Quartararo by 0.635 second, Aleix the Persistent third, just under two seconds from the leader. He had struggled to get past Bezzecchi and Marini for 15 laps. “They did a very good job because they are not that experienced and [yet] they made no mistakes,” he said. “I was expecting more mistakes but they didn’t make any.” Marini said, “I’m not far from being up front. “The top guys up front seem to be better at managing the tires, considering I gave everything I had in the beginning.” Yes, he sacrificed tire life. This is why Kenny Roberts, asked by Cycle magazine editor Cook Neilson in 1977 whether up-and-comer Mike Baldwin was “real,” replied, “Well, of the three things it takes to win races, he has one.” “And what would that be?” “He’s fast.” Clearly Bezzecchi and Marini are more than just fast, as they remained within four seconds of the leader at the end. Over Mugello’s 23 laps that is just 0.174 second per lap. They have received good training, both being from Valentino Rossi’s VR46 training scheme. Bezzecchi said of his efforts to scratch back past Aleix Espargaró's Aprilia, “I was going back under him, and I would have tried, but the bike warned me and I preferred not to throw anything away.” Where were the complaints that passing has become impossible? Where were the calls to ban the new aero technologies? At the finish, Quartararo said, “I made a good start and did good overtakes, despite sliding with the front and rear.” Maverick Viñales, who was 12th, said, “In the race I was able to be fast and overtake a lot of riders.” Aleix Espargaró said, “Mugello is an old-school track where you can overtake…” Yet also said, “We think about electronics, devices, and aerodynamics, but we forget that everybody’s braking very late, they’re all fast, and I think that’s why it’s hard to pass.” There was an incident between Aleix Espargaró and Enea Bastianini (DNF), of which the latter said, “I got sucked in by Aleix’s slipstream and got a bit too quick into turn 4 and that led to my front end tuck.” Enea Bastianini came into turn 4 too hot and ended up on the ground with a DNF. (MotoGP/)This is not the result of “strange aero.” It is perfectly familiar to any rider who has ridden at Daytona, where “getting sucked into the chicane” is a temptation of the less experienced. While riding on your own, you learn how deep you can go before braking, and then absent-mindedly use the same braking point when drafting another rider. Oops! Without the very considerable braking force of your bike’s normal aero drag (which is hundreds of pounds at high speed) your normal braking point is too deep and you arrive in the corner with too much speed. Remember the “agony of defeat” video clip, showing a bike endo-ing through the bales at that chicane? Biggest news of the weekend was Marc Márquez’s announcement, after finishing 10th, that he will withdraw from racing to undergo a fourth operation, this time to correct a “rotation” in his right humerus, broken two years ago. He said, “…I still have significant limitations in my humerus that do not allow me to ride the bike properly and achieve the goals I have always set for myself. “I gave everything in the first seven laps to see if I had the speed of the front riders and our pace wasn’t bad but then I started to struggle physically. “…then I had one warning and I gave up because already I started to get arm-pump with a lot of pain and a lack of power.” We wish him success. The operation will take place at the Mayo Clinic in the US. If Fabio Quartararo was surprised that he was able to finish second, we must be even more so. He spoke of his Yamaha’s advantage in nimbleness: “As far as I’m concerned with my bike, what I need are changes of direction. I think this circuit lends itself well to this, especially in turns 2 and 3, and 6 and 7.” This, added to “cornering speed counts a lot for us,” was able to offset the horsepower advantage of the Ducatis. Jorge Martín’s (he was 13th) was timed at 363.6 kph, or 225.4 mph. Jorge Martín hit 225.4 mph at Mugello, an all-time MotoGP top speed record. (MotoGP/)It’s well to remember that horsepower is a sword that can cut the user as well as the opponent. Passing down the straight is what we see, but until the two bikes in contention have come upright off the previous corner, they accelerate carefully on part throttle. In the next zone, acceleration is limited not by power but by front wheel lift, the “wheelie limit.” Only once past this can the more powerful machine show its advantage—and even here, arriving faster at the next corner means the rider of the higher-horsepower bike must brake earlier. Actually realizing the potential of horsepower is a special skill, not a twist of the wrist. Di Giannantonio said of “the top guys,” “They’re very precise. They brake hard, always accelerate at the right time, and even if they make a mistake they manage to fix things at the curb.” Bagnaia summed up, saying, “…Fabio, Aleix, and me are the favorites but I have made more mistakes.” He crashed out of the previous race, at Le Mans. “Because …they are much more consistent than me, I have to become [so] too.” Source
  17. Yamaha’s 2022 XSR900 is 90 percent new and more refined, but it still has its wild side. (Adam Campbell/)Despite its flaws, the XSR900 has always been a favorite in the Cycle World office. Sure, throttle response was spasmodic, the suspension was cut-rate and too soft, and the front brake was only a hair less aggressive than the throttle. It rocked back and forth on its chassis in response to every command to go or stop, but still we loved it. Its CP3 triple howled gloriously, the front tire was more than happy to rocket skyward, and it looked darn cool. We loved it. Now, for 2022, Yamaha has massaged and restyled the XSR900, and after two days on the next-gen bike the former model is dead to us. This is what the XSR900 should have been all along. Ninety percent of the XSR900 is completely new. Yamaha has given this throwback model a new engine and frame, fresh suspension, and spanking electronics for 2022. Just like with its naked MT-09, Yamaha has revamped just about everything, and it shows. Style for Miles Yeah, you might say, but it’s just an MT-09 in a cooler suit. You’re not completely wrong, but you’re not exactly right, either. A handful of touches differentiate the XSR900′s performance along with its look; some notable differences in the chassis give the XSR its own personality and ride quality. To passersby, the XSR900′s shape clearly separates it from its MT brethren. Yamaha says the old XSR was inspired by the ‘70s, whereas this new model has moved into the ‘80s. A long tank and chunky tail recalls the TZ and YZR500 racers of the era. Even the gap between the tank and seat is intentional, emulating a minimalistic racing tailsection. Customizers: Start searching for a TZ250U fairing ASAP! As it sits, the XSR900 stopped people in their tracks, and questions were plentiful, a clear indication the designers did well. Yamaha says the 2022 XSR900’s styling is inspired by racebikes of the ’80s. (Adam Campbell/)With that new style comes new ergonomics. The rider’s hips are positioned 5mm farther forward and 22mm lower into the bike. Handlebars are now 14mm forward of the previous position 35mm lower while the footpegs further lighten the rider triangle by dropping down 7mm and back 2mm (but are adjustable 14mm up and 4mm back by moving the brackets to the upper mounting holes). This gives the rider a more sporty slant without being cramped. The seat is firm and narrow with a steep back, and is also one of the few criticisms; after an hour in the saddle, that firmness and narrowness makes itself felt, requiring a stretch or stop. If you want to look cool, you’re going to have to suffer a little. While it looks great, the seat can become uncomfortable on long rides. (Adam Campbell/)What doesn’t suffer is the performance of the new XSR900. It’s a massive improvement, full stop. From the additional power from the engine to the stiffer and more responsive chassis to IMU-based electronic rider aids, the 2022 XSR900 is leaps and bounds ahead of the old model. New Displacement C3 Triple Yamaha’s CP3 crossplane inline-triple gets a larger displacement for 2022, increasing from 849cc to 890cc. This is achieved via a 3mm-longer stroke, now 62.1mm, while using the same 78.0mm bore. This is accomplished while keeping the same external engine dimensions by increasing the crankshaft throw and using 1.5mm shorter titanium fracture-split connecting rods. Crankshaft inertia has increased by 6 percent through this change as well. Those shorter con-rods are pinned to new concave-top forged pistons. More aggressive camshaft profiles required a wider cam chain with a hydraulic tensioner, replacing the previous mechanical spring unit. Finally, narrow and compact combustion chambers improve torque with a more efficient fuel burn. Yamaha coaxed slightly more power from its now-larger-displacement CP3 triple. (Adam Campbell/)A new airbox with three tuned intake snorkels bumps up the efficiency while creating a more aggressive intake note. Updated throttle bodies feature a new injector angle that sprays directly at the intake valve for improved fuel atomization resulting in better combustion efficiency. Additionally, intake port volume has been reduced by 15 percent to facilitate more complete cylinder filling for more stable combustion. Yamaha claimed a 6 percent increase in torque from the previous XSR900, though the company declined to provide information on the changes to horsepower. Following the official ride day, we put the 2022 model on Cycle World’s Dynojet 250i dynamometer in order to get rear-wheel horsepower and torque figures. Both horsepower and torque have increased, with 106 hp at 10,000 rpm and 63.5 pound-feet at 7,000 rpm. This is an increase of 2 hp and 4.5 pound-feet, with the peak horsepower rpm being nearly identical but peak torque coming in 1,000 rpm sooner than the 2020 model last tested. We’ve never complained about power or really wanted more of it from Yamaha’s CP3 engine, but we’ll take it. The difference is not astounding or even easily noticeable, but snapping the throttle open rewards the rider with spirited acceleration and a wonderfully sonorous growl from the crossplane crank engine accompanied by a wicked howl from the newly shaped intakes. Toeing up on the two-way quickshifter and grabbing another gear produces a pop from the now-3-pounds-lighter underslung muffler as power is cut for a split second during the change. It all sounds and feels great, just right for this bike. With more torque and a more stable chassis, the 2022 XSR900 exits corners with more vigor than before. (Adam Campbell/)With more torque coming on sooner than before you would expect a stronger pull out of corners, and there is, but in first and second gear it is not as noticable thanks to 3 percent taller gear ratios. This smooths out power delivery and greatly reduces the snatchy throttle response that has plagued all CP3 powered models until now. That’s now all but gone, one of the greatest improvements to this new model. No longer does the bike lurch fore and aft while trying to maintain a steady throttle opening. Only at very low speeds in town at rpm below 3,000 is any jerkiness noticeable. And even then, it’s slight. IMU-based Electronic Rider Aids A YZF-R1-derived IMU further increases the usability and performance of the XSR900, adding lean-sensitive traction control, slide control, ABS, and wheelie mitigation. Gone are the rudimentary engine response choices of A, B, and C; now you have your pick of four drive modes. Mode 1 is the most responsive, and even in this mode those throttle and fueling issues of old are basically nonexistent. Modes 2 and 3 further temper the CP3′s performance to what Yamaha calls a “standard” and “mild” response, respectively. Mode 4 cuts the power dramatically from the bottom and through the midrange for adverse conditions. Mode 1 was used for the majority of the day, and worked well to get the most out of every mountain corner. In town, Mode 2 mitigated the small patch of snatchy throttle below 3,000 rpm. With the new IMU, the XSR900 offers two preset traction modes (TCS) along with one custom mode called “Manual” and off. Switching between the traction modes and power modes is simple and straightforward; select via the switch gear on the left bar, roll on the throttle and the change is made. To engage or disengage Manual TCS (TCS-M), the bike must be stopped. A thumb wheel on the right bar end adjusts the manual settings where you can choose 1 to 3 on traction control and slide control, and 1 to 3 and off for front wheel lift. The lower the number, the less intervention. TCS-1 sets all three of these to level 1 and preset 2 puts all levels in the middle at 2. A compact TFT dash looks just right on the XSR900 and is easy to use and make adjustments with the switch gear on the left and right bar ends. (Adam Campbell/)TCS-1 is excellent even on some of the dustier mountain roads. Traction control engagement is smooth and hardly noticeable, and simply keeps the bike moving forward or around the corner with any hard cuts. TCS-2 is more aggressive, but still seamless. Both keep wheel lift low and will not slam the front down; the tire just comes back to the pavement in a light and controlled manner. Setting 3 of lift mode keeps the tire glued to the pavement. I preferred to ride the XSR900 with TCS-M set with TC at 1, slide control at 1, and lift set to off, which gives the most aggressive and entertaining ride. Antilock braking is also lean-sensitive, but can be switched to a straight-line only mode. BC-1 is standard ABS, not utilizing the IMU data. BC-2 adds lean sensitivity and modulation as the bike leans, so set it in BC-2 and forget it for the entire life of the bike. The intervention threshold is low; even if you do trigger the system, the front lever pressure stays firm with just slight feedback. The rear ABS is slightly less refined, and you can lock the rear tire for just a split second before the lever becomes mushy and the ABS does its thing. The addition of a radial Brembo master cylinder is very welcome. Initial bite is strong, but not light-switch quick like the previous XSR. Power and feel are also top-notch from the front lever through the dual four-piston calipers and 298mm rotors. A single 245mm disc and single-piston caliper do have excellent feel until you hit the ABS. A Brembo radial master cylinder has plenty of power and initial bite without being too touchy. (Adam Campbell/)Improved Handling As impressive as all the changes to the power and electronics are, the updated 2022 chassis is a bigger improvement. Just like the MT-09, the frame is a controlled-filled die-cast aluminum structure that is 50 percent stiffer laterally while having a thinner cross section. The steering head has been lowered 30mm in comparison to the previous mode to increase front end feel. A 59mm longer swingarm (from the Tracer 900) is mounted inside the frame spars for even more rigidity. A more rigid frame and stiffer suspension settings greatly improves the XSR900’s handling. (Adam Campbell/)These changes, plus a 39mm-shorter fork, have completely transformed the XSR900′s handling. It’s now more stable, less prone to dive and wheelie, and less nervous overall. With this comes a change to the XSR900s character; it’s less playful, or rowdy, if you will. The lowered head tube and longer swingarm keeps the front tire closer to the tarmac under hard acceleration, and wheelies are now a deliberate decision rather than a routine accident. The chassis stays inline under heavy braking, and on our test strip the XSR900 stopped from 60 mph in 130.32 feet, nearly 5 feet less than the shorter-wheelbase MT-09′s 135.09 and the 2020 XSR900′s 135.19. Lighter spin-forged wheels cut 1.5 pounds from each end of the XSR900, making it easier to flick the bike from side to side. (Adam Campbell/)A 3 percent taller first and second gear, combined with the longer and less wheelie-prone chassis, helps post better acceleration numbers as well. The XSR is quicker in the quarter than the MT, clicking off a 10.97-second time at 126.41 mph. That’s not going to make you king of the strip, but it’s a third of a second quicker than the 2022 MT-09 and six-tenths quicker than the 2020 model. The data tells us it’s quicker and faster, and our inner ear does as well, not by a newfound sense of acceleration but by the way it moves through the twisting bends with less effort. That shorter KYB fork is now 7 percent stiffer, while the KYB shock’s spring rate has increased 21 percent. Compression damping is also increased on both ends: 31 percent at the front and 35 percent in the rear. Rebound damping decreases 27 percent and 11 percent front and rear, respectively. Midcorner bumps and pavement irregularities no longer upset the XSR. Instead, it simply goes where you want it. Feel from the front tire is excellent; you can really feel the front tire working. No longer are you painting with a broad brush on the road, but marking lines with a fine-point pen. Handling is more precise on the 2022 XSR900. (Adam Campbell/)All is not perfect with the suspension and chassis, however. While the fork has preload, compression, and rebound adjustment available, the Yamaha chose to omit compression damping adjustment on the shock. And this is a place where it needs more; big bumps cause the rear travel to blow through the compression damping. And when this happens midcorner, you begin to scrape the footpeg feelers much sooner than you’d expect. Then comes a slightly too quick rebound. The bike doesn’t become unstable, but it forces you to dial back the aggression. We increased the shock preload by one step and slowed the rebound by two clicks, which improved the ride for my 235-pound frame, but all it really needs is compression adjustment. Guess Yamaha needs to hit that $9,999 MSRP somehow, though perhaps it should consider losing the finely calibrated cruise control in exchange for a better shock. Just like the MT-09, the XSR900 gets Yamaha’s proprietary spin-forged wheels, cutting 1.5 pounds from each wheel while maintaining the strength of traditional forging methods. This reduces rotational mass by 11 percent and thus increases the agility of the XSR900. Side to side transitions and corner turn in are light and snappy. Although we didn’t have a 2020 model on hand, the 2022 is clearly more stable yet quicker handling. As noted earlier, we’ve always loved the XSR900. We just wished it was more composed and refined. We also felt that doing so might remove its cool, fun character, but Yamaha has succeeded in massively improving the XSR900 while keeping most of that character intact. Every bit is better—and not just a little—while still rocking that cool throwback vibe. It remains just as cool to ride as it is to look at. Our fondness of the XSR900 continues with the 2022 model. (Adam Campbell/)2022 Yamaha XSR900 Specifications MSRP: $9,999 Engine: DOHC, liquid-cooled, inline three-cylinder; 12 valves Displacement: 890cc Bore x Stroke: 78.0 x 62.1mm Compression Ratio: 11.5:1 Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Cycle World Measured Horsepower: 106 hp @ 10,000 rpm Cycle World Measured Torque: 63.5 lb.-ft. @ 7,000 rpm Fuel System: Fuel injection w/ YCC-T Clutch: Wet, multiplate. slip and assist function; cable actuated Engine Management/Ignition: Transistor-controlled ignition Frame: Control-filled die-cast aluminum Front Suspension: KYB 41mm USD fork; fully adjustable, 5.1 in. travel Rear Suspension: KYB monoshock, preload and rebound adjustable; 5.4 in. travel Front Brake: 4-piston calipers, dual 298mm discs w/ ABS Rear Brake: 1-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: Spin-forged 10-spoke aluminum Tires, Front/Rear: Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22; 120/70ZR-17 / 180/55ZR-17 Rake/Trail: 25.0°/4.3 in. Wheelbase: 58.9 in. Ground Clearance: 5.5 in. Seat Height: 31.9 in. Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal. Average MPG: 45.8 mpg Cycle World Measured Wet Weight: 428 lb. Contact: Yamaha CW Measured Performance Quarter-Mile: 10.97 sec. @ 126.41 mph 0–30 mph: 1.47 sec. 0–60 mph: 3.03 sec. 0–100 mph: 6.32 sec. Top-Gear Roll-On, 40–60 mph: 2.72 sec. Top-Gear Roll-On, 60–80 mph: 2.92 sec. Braking, 30–0 mph: 33.76 ft. Braking, 60–0 mph: 130.32 ft. Source
  18. Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, and All Kids Bike deliver bikes to A.L. Burruss Elementary in Marietta, Georgia. (Yamaha/)In 2021, Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, supported All Kids Bike with a $30,000 grant to help get the bicycle-rider-education program into six elementary schools near the OEM’s stateside corporate offices, four in Georgia and two in California. Yamaha says that All Kids Bike, which will teach more than 380,000 students at 550 elementary schools in all 50 states how to ride bicycles over the next five years, has completed its mission with support from the grant, delivering the final of six programs to Clara J. King Elementary School in Cypress, California. With the help of hall of famers like Brian Lopes, Yamaha Motor Corp. employees helped deliver bikes and taught riding skills at each of the six schools. Hall-of-famer Brian Lopes helps Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, and All Kids Bike deliver bikes to Juliet Morris Elementary School in Cypress, California. (Yamaha Motor Corp., USA/)“We’re grateful for Yamaha’s support of All Kids Bike, for the funding required to land the program in six schools, for the volunteer efforts Yamaha employees and partners contributed to delivering bikes to schools, and mostly for the opportunity to get more kids on bikes,” said All Kids Bike founder Ryan McFarland, who also attended the first Yamaha-funded school delivery in Cypress last fall. Over the past year, the grant through Yamaha’s Outdoor Access Initiative has helped teach riding at the following schools: Elm Street Elementary in Newnan, GeorgiaWestern Elementary in Newnan, GeorgiaA.L. Burruss Elementary School in Marietta, GeorgiaLockheed Elementary in Marietta, GeorgiaJuliet Morris Elementary School in Cypress, CaliforniaClara J. King Elementary in Cypress, California Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, and All Kids Bike deliver bikes to Elm Street Elementary in Newnan, Georgia. (Yamaha Motor Corp., USA/)“The Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative is an inclusive program that supports and promotes outdoor recreation, and we provided this grant to get more kids outside learning valuable skills they can build on for the rest of their lives,” Yamaha’s motorsports marketing manager Steve Nessl said. “The All Kids Bike program offers the only chance some of these kids will get to develop the confidence and experience the freedom that comes from riding on two wheels.” The Rapid City, South Dakota-based All Kids Bike is a national movement led by the Strider Education Foundation to place Kindergarten PE (Physical Education) Learn-to-Ride Programs into public schools for free. The organization uses donations from individuals, businesses, and organizations. During the Yamaha Motor Corp., USA-backed programs, the All Kids Bike staff brought along 24 Strider balance bikes, helmets, and pedal conversion kits. As the teachers had to ride as well, some adult bicycles were on hand. Learning to ride at Clara J. King Elementary in Cypress, California, thanks to Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, and All Kids Bike. (Yamaha Motor Corp., USA/)“Childhood development never stops,” All Kids Bike says. “By continuing to expand the All Kids Bike program this year, more children across the country are learning life skills and getting much-needed exercise while getting away from their computer screens and spending more time outdoors.” For additional information, visit All Kids Bike. Source
  19. Pony up $35,500 and you can get the most extreme example of the Ducati Streetfighter V4 so far: the 2022 Streetfighter V4 SP. (AlexPhoto/)Let’s put this into context: Ducati’s Streetfighter V4 S didn’t need an upgrade. It is comfortably positioned as the king of the hyper-naked market. With a Desmosedici Stradale 90-degree V-4 pushing out an incredible claimed 208 hp, it kicks sand in the face of the competition and, on track, laps faster than any other naked machine in history… But, hell, it got upgraded anyway. Did the Streetfighter V4 S need an upgrade? Nope. But Ducati did it anyway, and it’s good. (AlexPhoto/)While the SP’s 208 hp V-4 remains unchanged from the one in the two existing Streetfighter variants, a seriously spec’d-up chassis features lightweight carbon wheels that are 3.1 pounds lighter (also deployed on the Superleggera), an STM EVO-SBK dry clutch, more track-focused Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension, Brembo Stylema R braking, adjustable aluminium footpegs, and the stunning “winter test” livery. And given that the 2022 Panigale V4 SP2 sold out in just over a week, it’s perhaps understandable that the Bologna factory was tempted to rustle up an SP version of the immensely popular Streetfighter V4. At $35,500 there is no hiding its price, but Ducati has all but sold out already, so if you want one, you’re going to have to be quick. Ducati won’t confirm how many SPs have been produced—just to up the ante. As mentioned, Ducati has left the Desmosedici Stradale engine and fueling alone, meaning it’s exactly the same as found on the V4 and V4 S. To be fair, not many will be complaining given that the 1,103cc V-4 produces a staggering 208 hp at 13,000 rpm in standard form, with a whopping 90.4 pound-feet of torque at 9,500 rpm. Carbon fiber wheels are 3.1 pounds lighter than the aluminum units found on the V4 S. (AlexPhoto/)Retro Rattle However, like the Panigale V4 SP2, Ducati has added a dry clutch, rekindling memories of Ducati superbikes from the late 20th century and firing nostalgia glands into overdrive. According to Ducati, the STM EVO-SBK dry clutch “ensures more effective anti-hopping”—and it’s easier to change, of course—but we all know it was really fitted because its rattle sounds so retro cool. There’s a distinctive Ducati bark from the standard exhaust too, amplified by the effortless quickshifter. Trundling down pit lane of northern Italy’s Cremona racetrack, clutch rattle reverberating off the garages, with a few sharp blips of the throttle to add to the occasion, I’m already feeling a little bit SP special myself. Ducati claims the STM EVO-SBK dry clutch has a more effective slipper function than the wet clutch. (AlexPhoto/)On the Track Ducati allowed me three sessions on the Streetfighter V4 S before I jumped on the SP. We already know both machines share the same engine and produce the same quoted power, but after half a lap I’d swear the SP has more. Even at a relatively slow pace, it feels livelier. Once up to speed, it certainly feels like it has more grunt. Exiting the second-gear late-apex left onto the 900-meter back straight, it’s throttle to the stop, rider aids busy controlling power, slide, and front-wheel lift. The SP drives ridiculously hard and feels even faster than the very fast V4 S. But it’s not the engine making the difference. It’s the wheels. The lightweight carbon rims mean significantly less inertia, and help the SP accelerate with even more crazed aggression than the Streetfighter V4 S. A bit like running in lightweight trainers as opposed to heavy Dr. Marten boots, but faster. Acceleration is more frenetic than the V4 S, even with the same power figures. (AlexPhoto/)The V-4 loves to rev in all three Streetfighter variants but in the SP things seem to happen extremely quickly. At first, you instinctively fire in a quick gear change well before the redline. You soon realize you can take the SP to the redline in each gear, and it loves it. The acceleration doesn’t tail off but keeps driving and surging forward, the limiting factor not the bike but how much you can physically take as you contort into the smallest possible shape, helmet pressed against nose, head possibly about to be ripped from shoulders. At the end of the circuit’s 900-meter straightaway the SP was indicating 173 mph before fear and the need to jump on the Stylema R stoppers kicked in. The sheer rev-ability and punch of the Desmo Stradale allows you to treat the SP like a racebike, melting tarmac as it digs in between corners, or holding onto a gear, occasionally bouncing off the rev limiter for a fraction of a second, before peeling into the next turn. Yes, you can ride conventionally using the bike’s torque and short-shifting. But for the best results, take in a deep breath, trust in Ducati’s excellent rider aids, and thrash it. The Streetfighter V4 SP responds best to aggressive riding—both chassis and engine. (AlexPhoto/)The Ducati Streetfighter V4 S has an Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 semi-active suspension specifically designed for the S to work mainly on the road. The SP uses a similar system, but one transferred from the Panigale of 2020-21, with a slight change to the spring preload, and is therefore much more track-focused than the Streetfighter V4 S. The SP has the same travel, but stiffer front springs, more oil, and different shims. As mentioned, the wheels are 3.1 pounds lighter and, overall, the SP is 6.6 pounds lighter. There’s a grippier track-focused seat and the adjustable aluminum pegs are set slightly higher. But the gearing, power, chassis geometry, and wheelbase are as before. Two Seconds Quicker During my warmup ride on the V4 S, I didn’t think there would be much difference between the bikes. I was very wrong. On the same track, in the same weather conditions and with the same Pirelli slick tires, I was two seconds a lap faster on the SP. Perhaps there was an element of getting used to the circuit on the S, but I had three 20-minute sessions on the red bike and within three laps on the SP was already one second quicker. Once familiar with the feel of the new SP, that difference quickly became two seconds, and the bike was easier to ride as well. Those lighter carbon wheels make the SP feel faster, but the largest noticeable difference between the two models is the handling. Rolling into corners, the SP is easier to manage and turns with less effort. Once into the corner, the suspension holds the chassis immaculately; there’s less squat and with slightly higher pegs more ground clearance. On the V4 S, I’d occasionally brush my toe sliders, giving the sensation I was bordering on the limit. Now, with a stiffer chassis and more ground clearance, I was able to let off the brakes a fraction earlier, carry more corner speed and allow the bike to flow with more lean and more speed. Slightly higher footpeg placement along with suspension that sits higher in the stroke while concerning increases the available lean angle. (AlexPhoto/)In the slower flip-flop section of the Cremona circuit, the SP was also faster to change direction, took less effort to turn, and was arguably more accurate as it went apex to apex with precision. If I felt I was slightly wide, it was easier to correct a mistake. All these factors accounted not just for a faster lap time, but a bike that is far easier to ride on track. Pushing for a fast lap on the V4 S was hard work; achieving the same lap time on the SP was less fatiguing. Fast trackday riders will feel more relaxed and less drained on the SP, especially after half a dozen 20-minute sessions. Yes, it’s still enormously physical. How can clinging to a 208 hp beast while getting smashed by the wind blast at 280 kph be anything else? But the light feel of the SP combined with its handling accuracy make the SP a superior track bike to the V4 S. As far as road riding is concerned, this was unfortunately a track-only test performed on Pirelli slicks. Ducati even removed the number plate and mirrors. Ducati has changed the seat for a grippier perch for track use and it’s for solo use only. The adjustable pegs are a fraction higher than the V4 S’, but only a fraction. The semi-active suspension is more track-oriented, but in the softer Street mode should react accordingly. But the lighter feeling on track should also be felt on the road, while low-speed fueling should continue to be excellent. Plus the SP comes with excellent rider aids including quickshifter and lean-sensitive ABS and TC. The dry clutch has a heavier action than the V4 S, but this is only needed to select first gear then becomes redundant. Again, fuel economy should be on par with the V4 S, which was never excellent. Ducati quotes 31 mpg, but it’s all too easy to have some fun, get the V-4 revving and that fuel figure will drop to 29 mpg or worse. If ridden hard you’ll need to start looking for fuel at 93 miles. On track you’ll need to take spare fuel or fill up at lunchtime. Stylema R calipers are fitted to the V4 SP, the same units found on the Panigale Superleggera. (AlexPhoto/)You don’t get off the Streetfighter V4 S thinking that it needs better brakes. They are very strong, don’t fade, and are backed up by excellent Bosch cornering ABS Evo electronics. The SP has the same software running new algorithms, but now the brakes have been upgraded to the Stylema R items, first featured on the Superleggera, which I tested in Mugello back in 2020. With added cooling to stop brake fade, these stoppers are immensely strong but not overwhelming. On test, the SP went repeatedly from 173 mph to second gear at the end of each lap, and even after a few sessions I was still braking too early with plenty in reserve. It’s amazing how late you can brake, and not only because the SP brakes are the next level. The lightness of the wheels reduces the stopping distance further while increasing stability. This is also aided by those huge carbon wings, which incidentally now feature a small Italian flag on the side. Rider Aids Rider aids remain the same as the V4 S but have been recalibrated with new algorithms to compensate for the change in handling and performance. Put simply, the SP accelerates faster, spins up faster, and brakes later, therefore the SP runs the same rider aids but with new parameters. The list is extensive: three riding modes, Bosch cornering ABS Evo, traction control, wheelie control, slide control, and engine-brake control. And don’t forget the standard up-and-down quickshifter and Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension. The lean-sensitive rider aids are simply incredible; I rode in the standard Race mode on track and found them faultless. The Pirelli slicks provide excellent mechanical grip, giving the TC and slide control an easy time, but the wheelie control was working overtime, allowing the front to lift but still propelling you forward with severe acceleration. Ducati has wisely lowered the torque in the first four gears, only giving you full power from the fifth gear onward, which makes the SP and S easier to ride on tight and twisty tracks. Set it and forget it; Race mode on the Streetfighter V4 SP is perfectly suited for track use. (AlexPhoto/)You can tailor and trim the rider aids to how and where you ride. Standard Race mode was ideal, and would only need to be trimmed as tire or physical degradation become factors, adding some TC to help me and the bike out. Ducati hasn’t increased power or torque or tweaked the SP’s Desmo Stradale in any way, yet on a back-to-back test against the Ducati Streetfighter V4 S, I managed to lap two seconds a lap quicker. Even ignoring the lap times, the SP is easier to ride faster; handling, stopping, and acceleration have all been improved, which inevitably cuts lap times. The V4 S’ excellent rider aids remain, and the only downside to the SP will be slightly less on-road comfort and a slightly heavier clutch. However, I’ll take the dry clutch every time. It sounds wonderful and adds to the already deep character of the V-4. Ducati has once again produced something very special. The SP is arguably the fastest, most exotic, and most desirable naked bike on the market. It’s just a shame they’re nearly all sold out. By the time you are reading this all of the Streetfighter V4 SP models may be sold… Pity. Unless you got one; then, good for you. (AlexPhoto/)2022 Ducati Streetfighter V4 SP Specifications MSRP: $35,500 Engine: Liquid-cooled V-4; 4 valves/cyl. Displacement: 1,103cc Bore x Stroke: 81.0 x 53.5mm Compression Ratio: 14.0:1 Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Claimed Horsepower: 208 hp @ 12,750 rpm Claimed Torque: 90.4 lb.-ft. @ 11,500 rpm Fuel System: Electronic fuel injection; ride-by-wire Clutch: Dry, multiplate slipper; hydraulic actuation Frame: Aluminum Front Suspension: 43mm Öhlins NIX 30 w/ electronically adjustable compression and rebound damping; 4.7 in. travel Rear Suspension: Öhlins TTX 36 w/ electronically adjustable compression and rebound damping; 5.1 in. travel Front Brake: Brembo 4-piston Stylema Monoblock calipers, dual 330mm discs w/ Cornering ABS Evo Rear Brake: 2-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ Cornering ABS Evo Wheels, Front/Rear: Carbon fiber; 17 x 3.50 in. / 17 x 6.00 in. Tires, Front/Rear: Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II; 120/70ZR-17 / 200/60ZR-17 Rake/Trail: 24.5°/4.0 in. Wheelbase: 58.6 in. Seat Height: 33.3 in. Fuel Capacity: 4.2 gal. Claimed Wet Weight: 432 lb. Contact: ducati.com Source
  20. The Triumph Speed Triple has always been known for its street-fighting prowess, but throw on a fairing and the 1200 RR transforms into one hell of a well-rounded, street-focused sportbike. (Triumph/)Ups If bug eyes aren’t your thing, this sleek single headlight is for youSmooth and tractable engine is fun and easy to rideRiding position is a nice balance between a hypersport and a nakedDowns Track mode resets every time you stopFront-brake feel could be more aggressiveA Speed Triple with a fairing. You want naked? Buy an RSVerdict Triumph set out to build a sportbike that was better for most of the riding that we actually do, which means the 1200 RR’s focus is more on fantastic street manners than all-out racetrack performance. A super-tractable engine; slightly relaxed ergos compared to, say, a Daytona Moto2 765; better wind protection than a naked; and yet more sporting on the track than its sibling, the Speed Triple RS. This is the Everyman’s sportbike. Triumph is well known for finding a balanced, well-tuned setting for its sportbikes, and that continues to be the case with the Speed Triple 1200 RR, which feels nicely composed on the road. (Triumph/)Overview Change is funny. In the same way that some middleweight sportbikes have pushed all the way into what was commonly agreed to be open class territory, the Speed Triple—the very bike that set fire to the streetfighter class in the first place—now has a fairing. Has the world gone mad? Uh…madder? Triumph sportbike fans have been wishing for a new open-class Daytona since the last of the old ones became extinct. But in some ways, it seems Triumph has gone one better. Why not simply build a sportbike that’s comfortable, tractable, extremely attractive, and doesn’t play by the rules of the other hypersport bikes on the market? That’s just what Triumph did. The new Speed Triple 1200 RS had big changes in 2021, and now gets back on par with the class-leading nakeds from Ducati, KTM, and Aprilia. But by taking the same basic package, altering the riding position, adding wind protection and Öhlins’ Smart EC 2.0 electronically adjustable semi-active suspension, Triumph has created a bike that is likely what those nostalgic Daytona 955i owners are really looking for in a modern Triumph. And unless you’ve been hit upside the head one too many times, you’ll find the Speed Triple 1200 RR is absolutely one of the prettiest bikes the British company has ever created. If the Red Hopper/Storm Grey color scheme is the Kool-Aid, we’re definitely drinking it. Clip-on handlebars tucked behind a bikini fairing add sporting character to the Speed Triple 1200 RR over the RS. (Triumph/)Updates for 2022 Everything about the Speed Triple 1200 RR is brand-new from the ground up for 2022, from the engine to the chassis to the Öhlins suspension, to the very concept of the bike. This is fresh territory for Triumph, and we’re very glad it took the leap. Pricing and Variants Two color schemes are available: Crystal White Storm Grey (polite applause) is the standard color for $20,950; for an extra $325 riders can opt for Red Hopper Storm Grey (frenzied standing ovation and calls for encore). The bike comes pretty loaded with most of what you’d want, but the Tire Pressure Monitoring System ($250) and heated grips ($230) are available options. The Speed Triple 1200 gets Öhlins’ Smart EC 2.0 electronically adjustable semi-active suspension, front and rear. (Triumph/)Competition As the 1200 RR falls somewhere in between hardcore sportbikes, sport-touring bikes, and nakeds, its competion is an interesting mix. The first bike that comes to mind is the MV Agusta Superveloce, which leads to a mix of bikes from all over the spectrum. The closest Japanese contenders are the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 SX, Kawasaki’s Z H2, Yamaha’s MT-10 SP/MT-10, or Suzuki’s Katana and GSX-S1000F. Moving to Europe brings to mind the Ducati Streetfighter V2 or Streetfighter V4, Aprilia’s Tuono V4 1100 or spicer Tuono V4 Factory 1100, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo or midsize KTM 890 Duke GP, and BMW’s R 1250 RS or S 1000 R. Can’t decide between streaking or wearing clothes? Keep Triumph’s own Speed Triple 1200 RS in mind. Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance When the Speed Triple 1200 RS got its big 2021 redesign, many wondered what that uprated inline-triple engine would be like in a Daytona-esque sportbike. Compared to the previous-generation Speed Triple, displacement has grown from 1,050cc to 1,160, but bore and stroke dimensions have changed to an even more short-stroke design; bore has increased from 79 to 90mm, while stroke has decreased from 71.4 to 60.8mm. The outcome is a big jump in power from a claimed 147.9 hp at 10,500 rpm on the old Speed Triple to 177 hp at 10,750 rpm on the new RS and RR. Torque jumps from 86.3 pound-feet at 7,150 rpm to 92 pound-feet of peak torque at 9,000 rpm. Another big change was stacking the gearbox, which made the engine more compact and allowed Triumph to include a two-way quickshifter. The fueling is ride-by-wire, with the rider able to choose between five riding modes. A stainless steel 3-into-1 header sends exhaust gases to an underslung primary silencer and then into a nicely styled final silencer. The engine has a huge spread of available power, letting you ride the wave in third gear through corners that would have you up and down the box on other bikes. There’s enough horsepower for serious progress, but never so much that the chassis (or your brain) feels overwhelmed. It’s hard to argue with the lines of the Speed Triple RR. You’ll enjoy looking at the bike just as much as you enjoy riding it. (Triumph/)Handling The biggest technological change over the RS is the inclusion of Öhlins’ Smart EC 2.0 electronically adjustable semi-active suspension package. The semi-active aspect of this system refers to electronic control of compression and rebound damping adjustment in the fork and shock while riding. This works within a number of preset modes offering more comfort or more dynamic performance, continuously adjusting and optimizing damper settings as the bike is ridden. The system also offers a degree of customization which lets you select changes to aspects of the bike’s handling, e.g., corner entry, braking, corner exit, and then modifies the damper settings and programming to suit. Switching between the riding modes gives a noticeable difference in both comfort and how much the bike pitches under braking or acceleration. Carving along a winding section of road, claims of ‘ultimate sportbike for the road’ don’t seem too far-fetched. Almost every element of the Speed Triple feels finely balanced; the chassis is nimble enough to hustle the tight sections of the road without feeling twitchy or overaggressive. The Speed Triple 1200 RR is available in Crystal White Storm Grey for $20,950 and Red Hopper Storm Grey, which costs an additional $325. (Triumph/)Brakes Despite the use of Brembo’s awesome Stylema Monoblock four-piston calipers and twin 320mm disc setup, the brakes aren’t quite perfect. There’s tons of power from the front brake, and there’s never a problem getting the bike stopped, but lever feel is a little too soft and a little too heavy, even after a fiddle with the adjustable rate lever. Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG We’ve yet to test the bike on our own roads, so we’ll have to wait for real-world numbers, but Triumph claims 37 mpg. The riding position is sporty without being uncomfortable and the electronics package offers enough support to keep you safe without stepping too hard on the toes of fun. (Kingdom Creative/)Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility The riding position is a big departure from the Speed Triple 1200 RS. The most significant change to the riding position comes from the clip-on handlebars, which are just over 5 inches lower and 2 inches further forward than the bars on the naked model. Combined with the footpegs, which have been moved up half an inch and back 1 inch, this allows a far more forward stance on the bike. It’s not full-on sportbike extreme, but more a halfway measure, somewhere between the regular Speed Triple and a Daytona 675. On the road this definitely feels more natural once you’re acclimated; it’s easier to hang off through the turns and easier to brace through the pegs with the throttle cranked wide open. When speed limits or traffic impose a period of calm cruising, the position is nicely balanced enough to let you spread weight between your feet, hands, and backside and not feel as if all your weight is bearing down through your wrists. Electronics Like any modern sportbike, the Speed Triple 1200 RR has a whole ton of rider aids to optimize the riding experience. Its five riding modes include Rain, Road, Sport, Track, and Rider (custom). An inertial measurement unit (IMU) provides optimized lean-sensitive ABS and traction control; the bike also has Front Wheel Lift Control (that’s wheelie control to you and me). Cruise control and a standard Triumph Shift Assist up-and-down quickshifter are also included. All info, modes, and controls are accessed through a 5-inch full-color TFT display with GoPro and bluetooth connectivity, turn-by-turn navigation, and a lap timer. All lights and signals are LED. Warranty and Maintenance Coverage Triumph offers a 24-month, unlimited-mileage warranty. Quality The Speed Triple 1200 RR is a stunningly finished, exquisite-looking bike that makes everything smooth, enjoyable, and easy. The Speed Triple 1200 RR is not a full-on superbike, but rather a sportbike you can live with longer than a trackday session at a time. (Triumph/)2022 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR Claimed Specifications MSRP: $20,950–$21,275 Engine: 1,160cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC inline-three, 12 valves Bore x Stroke: 90.0 x 60.8mm Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Claimed Horsepower: 178 hp @ 10,750 rpm Claimed Torque: 92 lb.-ft. @ 9,000 rpm Fuel Delivery: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection w/ electronic throttle control Clutch: Wet, multiplate, slipper/assist function Engine Management/Ignition: Electronic Frame: Aluminum twin spar; bolt-on aluminum rear subframe Front Suspension: Öhlins 43mm fully adjustable USD fork, S-EC 2.0 OBTi system electronic compression and rebound damping; 4.7 in. travel Rear Suspension: Öhlins monoshock RSU w/ linkage, S-EC 2.0 OBTi system electronic compression and rebound damping; 4.7 in. travel Front Brake: Brembo Stylema Monoblock 4-piston calipers, dual 320mm floating discs w/ OC-ABS Rear Brake: Brembo 2-piston caliper, 220mm disc w/ OC-ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: Cast aluminum; 17 x 3.5 in. / 17 x 6.0 in. Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70ZR-17 / 190/55ZR-17 Rake/Trail: 23.9º/4.1 in. Wheelbase: 56.7 in. Seat Height: 32.7 in. Fuel Capacity: 4.1 gal. Claimed Wet Weight: 438 lb. Contact: triumphmotorcycles.com Source
  21. GasGas 700 models share many similarities with KTM and Husqvarna bikes based on the same 690 platform, with small spec updates and styling changes differentiating them. (GasGas/)Since the group that owns KTM and Husqvarna purchased GasGas, the Spanish brand has undergone a full relaunch with a clear message: GasGas bikes are all about having fun. That fun now extends to street models with the new SM 700 supermoto and ES 700 dual sport. For those in the US, you’ll have to wait until 2023 for that fun as the 2022 model is only available in markets outside of the States. Yes, these new GasGas models look suspiciously like the orange 690 and the white 701. They are, of course, based on the same 690 platform, with small spec and color changes. In fact, the enduro model is purely a matter of giving the bodywork a different plastic pigment. The GasGas SM 700 gets a set of cast 17-inch wheels in place of the spoked hoops on the Husky and KTM. The 2022 GasGas ES 700 has 9.6 inches of suspension travel both front and rear. (GasGas/)These cast wheels save 1.1 pounds of rotating weight, but they also carry their weight closer to the center of the wheel, reducing inertia. Essentially this makes the wheels easier to rotate, benefiting both acceleration and braking, while reduced centrifugal forces help the bike when changing direction. Cards on the table here; the benefits versus the spoked wheel setup on the KTM weren’t obvious enough to notice on an isolated ride. A back-to-back test on the same day would be the way to see that. On the other hand, the cast wheels look absolutely stunning, so that’s a win already. Both SM and ES 700 models share the same engine with a claimed 74 hp and 54 pound-feet of torque. (GasGas/)Aside from the wheels on the supermoto version and a few tins of red paint, these two bikes are pretty much on par with the KTM 690, and that’s not a bad thing. Remember, GasGas has only been in its current guise for a couple of years; that’s not enough time to design and develop distinct new models. At the bikes’ launch, the GasGas staff explained that there would be more differentiation from the other two brands in the future, and right now the bikes are about getting the name out there. With the GasGas policy being more about fun than race wins, although they’ll certainly take the trophies when they can—see Dakar 2022—these two bikes have arguably found their true home. SM 700: The Hooligan Streetbike The SM 700 is the kind of bike that makes good behavior impossible, a proper bad influence on everyone. With a claimed 74 hp in a sub-330-pound bike, it feels more alive and more playful than any other streetbike that comes to mind. Supermoto purists may find it a little heavy, but the payback is a bike that can be ridden daily without spending every other evening changing the oil and filter. For riders coming from anywhere else in the motorcycle circus, it’s light, flickable, and a whole ton of fun. Available now in Europe, the GasGas 700 models won’t be in American riders’ hands until 2023. (GasGas/)The test kicked off with one of the craziest street rides in a long time. Led by a crazy Austrian supermoto racer, it started out with a nice sedate bit of city cruising. From the saddle, we enjoyed some sightseeing in Barcelona, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Then a short highway stint, where our only complaint was a fair whack of windblast at highway speeds, no surprise on a bike like this. But a lack of vibration, thanks to twin balancer shafts, made it more comfortable than any single-cylinder supermoto should be. And just when it seemed like one of those pleasant, sensible chill-out rides, a mountain pass appeared and the world exploded. Our racer guide stamped down three gears, hustled up a wheelie, and proceeded to attack the next 50 miles of road like he’d left the gas on at home. Every corner entry got painted with a fresh telltale line from rear tires, every apex saw impossible lean angles, and every straight was a blur of gearshifts and wheelies. Ridden like this, the SM 700 is one of the most rewarding experiences on the road. The harder you ride it, the more it comes alive; it feels totally at home sliding into a turn, dragging a peg midcorner, and then hovering the front wheel out onto the next straight. It’s mental. Just plain bonkers. It’s crazy, crazy, we tells ya. The GasGas SM 700 comes with 17-inch wheels front and rear, making sporty tires readily available. (GasGas/)There’s an old, old discussion about riding middleweight 600cc sportbikes versus their 1,000cc open-class counterparts, how the lighter ride lets you really work the bike hard and use its capabilities to their limits. The SM 700 takes that principle a step further. On the right road, with enough bumps and tight turns, you’d be hard-pressed to keep up on any sportbike. Its combination of lightweight chassis, punchy engine, and supple suspension lets you wind around impossible turns and charge bumpy sections in a way that would have a sportbike shaking its bars in protest and leaving its rider in need of months of physical therapy to realign their spine. Get on a faster, smoother road and the SM’s advantage soon disappears, but it still has enough power to be fun, and real-world roads usually aren’t that smooth anyway. Plus, if your domain is faster roads and highways, both the SM and ES 700 have adjustable triple clamps so the fork offset can be tweaked for a calmer ride. Although US pricing has not been announced, the 2022 SM 700 in Europe has an MSRP of 11,499 euros, and 11,299 for the ES model. (GasGas/)At the end of the madness, we rolled into a fancy house with a long driveway and a hedge shaved into the shape of a MotoGP bike. Normally, the fancy-pants details of these things are just tinsel, not important to the motorcycle and not worth noting. But in this case, someone called in a favor from a friend or something, and suddenly we were invited to play on Sete Gibernau’s private backyard racetrack. What’s more, Sete stepped into the role of on-track instructor for the afternoon, coaching us on line choice, braking, and body position. Testing a more traditional knee-down riding style on Sete Gibernau’s private backyard racetrack, the SM 700 delivered the same sharp steering that made it such a joy on the road. (GasGas/)When switching to a more traditional knee-down style at Sr. Gibernau’s request, the SM 700 obliges by delivering the same sharp steering and quick direction changes that made it such a riot on the road. Sustained high-rpm track riding did start to demonstrate a few vibrations through the handlebars, resulting in tingly fingers after 15 minutes or so. ES 700: Last of the Big-Single Dirt Bikes? After the wild time on the SM, the start of the enduro ride on the ES was a welcome break. Winding along dry hard-packed trails the ES is smooth, easygoing, always ready to hop off a tree root or slide out of a turn. From a dirt bike perspective it’s smooth, easy to ride, and comfortable on the positive side, a touch soft and heavy on the negative. From the adventure bike perspective it feels light, nimble, and super capable, but also a little too tall, a little too eager, and lacking wind protection. That’s the thing with this bike; it is the very definition of dual sport, an off-road bike capable of useful road performance. The ES 700 showed impressive capability for its size. (GasGas/)Compared to a twin-cylinder adventure bike, this one sets up camp further in the off-road world at the cost of some creature comforts and road performance. But unlike anything in the enduro world, the ES 700 has on- and off-road ABS and traction control systems, a quickshifter, service intervals of 6,000 miles, and the ability to cruise happily at 70 mph. Turning off the main tracks and beginning a descent into some really enjoyable enduro terrain, we found the usual rocks, root steps, river crossings, and ruts all showcased the ES 700′s ability compared to bigger adventure bikes. In a group of very mixed abilities, the bike does a good job of looking after less experienced off-road riders, not least in being relatively easy to pick back up, at least by ADV standards. The tall 36.8-inch seat height is the main hurdle, particularly for shorter riders; it’s wise to give some thought to foot placement when stopping on uneven terrain. After an enjoyable trail ride through stunning scenery and exploring the bike’s travel capabilities, it was time for craziness again on two enduro loops, a woods track, rally terrain, and a mellow motocross track. The ES is no flyweight competition bike, but its ability to send it off a jump or slot into a rutted turn in the woods is impressive for its size. On rougher terrain the fork could be a little more precise, but overall the ES displayed impressive versatility. Any extra effort it requires in the turns is forgiven as soon as a straight allows the rider to unleash that 74 hp motor. “It feels totally at home sliding into a turn, dragging a peg midcorner, and then hovering the front wheel out onto the next straight.” —Chris Northover (GasGas/)Verdict After a full day of supermoto skids, enduro jumps, and all-round childish behavior, it seems it might be the truest dual sports out there. In a single day the SM went from city sightseeing to covering highway mileage, from wild mountain pass hooning to stunt riding, from racetrack tutoring to going placidly back to base at the end of it all. The ES enduro version achieves the same range of use, but replaces asphalt antics with easy trail riding, flat-out woods track charging, and a few laps of the moto track. The SM is never going to lay down a lap record around Laguna Seca, nor will the ES trouble the leaderboard at a GNCC round, but you could absolutely take them to either of those places and have an absolute riot. And then ride home again. As they are, the two new—well, new in red—700s from GasGas are another option for those who have the 690 and 701 in their sights. They are phenomenal bikes for the right person. Some will find them too intense and impractical. More hardcore riders will find them too big and heavy compared to a pure competition machine. But for the person who wants a supermoto that can actually be useful, the SM 700 is a Goldilocks bike. The ES 700 enduro bike strikes a different but equal balance as a very capable adventure bike for those who would sacrifice the speed and comfort of a twin-cylinder machine for a lighter bike with more off-road performance. And for the dirt bike rider who wants to do a little traveling and more mileage, the ES does 6,000 miles between services and will happily take you as far as your riding skill allows. Both the SM and ES 700 have adjustable triple clamps so the fork offset can be adjusted to suit the rider’s preference. (GasGas/)2022 GasGas ES 700 Tech Specs Engine: 692.7cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled four-stroke single Bore x Stroke: 105.0 x 80.0mm Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Claimed Horsepower: 74.0 hp @ 8,000 rpm Claimed Torque: 54.0 lb.-ft. @ 6,500 rpm Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection w/ 50mm throttle body, ride-by-wire Clutch: Wet, multiple disc APTC slipper; hydraulic operation Engine Management/Ignition: Electronic Frame: Chrome-moly tubular steel trellis, powdercoated Front Suspension: 48mm WP Xplor, compression and rebound damping adjustable; 9.8 in. travel Rear Suspension: WP Xplor shock, fully adjustable; 9.8 in. travel Front Brake: Brembo 2-piston floating caliper, 300mm disc w/ Bosch 9.1 MP lean-sensitive ABS Rear Brake: Brembo 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc w/ Bosch 9.1 MP lean-sensitive ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: Spoked wheels w/ aluminum rims; 21 in./18. in. Tires, Front/Rear: 90/90-21 / 140/80-18 Rake/Trail: 27.7°/4.6 in. Wheelbase: 59.1 in. Ground Clearance: 10.6 in. Seat Height: 36.8 in. Fuel Capacity: 3.6 gal. Average MPG: 54.7 mpg Claimed Dry Weight: 322 lb. Contact: gasgas.com 2022 GasGas SM 700 Tech Specs Engine: 692.7cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled four-stroke single Bore x Stroke: 105.0 x 80.0mm Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/chain Claimed Horsepower: 74.0 hp @ 8,000 rpm Claimed Torque: 54.0 lb.-ft. @ 6,500 rpm Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection w/ 50mm throttle body, ride-by-wire Clutch: Wet, multiple disc APTC slipper; hydraulic operation Engine Management/Ignition: Electronic Frame: Chrome-moly tubular steel trellis, powdercoated Front Suspension: 48mm WP Xplor, compression and rebound damping adjustable; 8.5 in. travel Rear Suspension: WP Xplor shock, fully adjustable; 9.5 in. travel Front Brake: Brembo 4-piston floating caliper, 320mm disc w/ Bosch 9.1 MP lean-sensitive ABS Rear Brake: Brembo 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc w/ Bosch 9.1 MP lean-sensitive ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: Cast aluminum rims; 17 in./17. in. Tires, Front/Rear: 120/70 ZR 17; 160/60 ZR 17 Rake/Trail: 26.4°/4.3 in. Wheelbase: 59.1 in. Ground Clearance: 9.3 in. Seat Height: 35.4 in. Fuel Capacity: 3.6 gal. Average MPG: 54.7 mpg Claimed Dry Weight: 322 lb. Contact: gasgas.com Source
  22. We believe this KTM 1290 Super Duke R is the soon-to-announced 2023 model with an updated headlight cowl and styling. (Bernhard M. Höhne, BMH-Images/)Spied during testing in Austria, this next-generation prototype 1290 Super Duke R doesn’t appear to be a totally new machine, with the chassis, suspension, wheels, and even the tank and subframe being carried over from the existing design. But visually, the test mule seen here features a new headlight that takes an already unusual design—that’s currently KTM’s signature—and transforms it into something even more radical. KTM’s current street models share variations of a headlight unlike anything else on the road, with a vertically split, stacked arrangement of lamps bracketed by boomerang-shaped LED strips. The newly spied prototype takes that latter element—the LED running lamps—and mutates them into completely separate parts that sprout from the sides of the headlight unit on winged-profiled struts. It’s like Darth Vader’s TIE fighter from Star Wars has been transplanted onto the nose of a motorcycle. The main headlamp has lost the vertical center slot of the current design, instead featuring a pair of smaller, centrally mounted lenses, vertically stacked with those struts radiating out from them. The headlight seen here is clearly still in the prototype phase. It lacks the LEDs that will surely be fitted along the front edge of the “floating-wing” elements on the sides, while the main lenses look like off-the-shelf, aftermarket parts rather than the sort of styled units that we’d expect to see on a production-ready motorcycle. Regardless, the new appearance is obvious and potentially offers advantages over the existing setup. By adopting smaller light units in the center and adding the gaps to the outer elements, KTM has reduced the visual heft of the design without losing the key elements that make it so immediately identifiable. Additionally, the new design will be better suited to placement of components like radar sensors—technology that the company has already adopted. Forward radar is now standard on the current 1290 Super Adventure S, but it pokes out of a cavelike tunnel bored into the bike’s nose and doesn’t appear cleanly integrated. With this new design—presuming it’s adopted across KTM’s range—such a sensor (or others, like cameras, could also be adopted as part of future safety equipment) could be more easily hidden. The reduced visual mass on the prototype’s headlight is emphasized further by new side panels extending from the fuel-tank cover. The updated design makes the front edge of those panels run vertically parallel with the fork, and extend farther down than the current bike’s do. Below, additional panels embossed with the KTM logo now flank the radiator, protruding forward on the sides and overlapping the front tire. It’s a visual trick that gives the bike a front-heavy, nose-down look. In conjunction with the existing stubby and tall tail unit—now with a less obtrusive license plate hanger—the effect makes the bike look aggressively hunched over the front wheel. Another more subtle styling tweak is a new panel covering the back of the instrument cluster, with the turn signals now sprouting from that unit rather than being attached to the sides of the headlight cowl. The wheels, Brembo brakes, and WP suspension all appear unchanged from the existing Super Duke R, while this version doesn’t appear to have the semi-active suspension of the new Super Duke R Evo. This instrumented prototype not only has obvious styling changes, but also some more subtle alterations that lead us to believe it’s on its way as a 2023 model. (Bernhard M. Höhne, BMH-Images/)Mechanically, it’s hard to be certain of any specific changes, but additional sensors attached to the exhaust headers, and wiring leading to a datalogging pack strapped to the tail, indicate that there are. They suggest that KTM has made alterations to the engine’s tune, at the very least, and are monitoring exhaust gases to verify the impact of those changes. The machined-aluminum parts on the right side of the engine cases, including the water-pump housing, appear to be revised on this prototype—although the fact that the exhaust system, catalyst, and muffler are carryover components hints that mechanical updates will be mild. Given the limited nature of the changes, chances are that this bike will be ready for production as a 2023 model, likely being officially unveiled toward the end of this year. Source
  23. As always, the diversity of custom bikes on display at the One Moto Show is one of its biggest strengths. (Erik Jutras/)All at once it seems custom motorcycle shows are back. Following the recent Handbuilt Show in Austin, Texas, bike fans flocked to the West Coast for the world renowned One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon. Now in its 13th year, One Moto is a beacon of motorcycle culture attracting people from all walks of two-wheeled life and highlighting all types of custom motorcycles from minis to megas. As expected, the show hosted thousands of attendees there to view hundreds of the most expressive custom bikes in the world. The result was an amazing weekend of art, music, and all things moto. Attendees wait to enter the 13th annual One Moto show. (Erik Jutras/) The 2022 One Show took place in the historic Zidell Barge Building in the middle of Portland. (Erik Jutras/)The One Show is hosted by the crew of See See Motor Coffee in the historic Zidell Barge Building on South Waterfront, originally a ship building venue. The building is a massive space filled with natural light, and the huge open ceiling makes it feel even larger. Festivities kicked off Friday morning at 9 and continued until Sunday evening. Makoto Endo paints historic engines in front of the crowd at the One Moto Show. (Erik Jutras/) 1986 Suzuki GSX-R by Victor Wilkens (right). (Erik Jutras/)Live music was provided by Danava, Spoon Benders, The Shivas, and many more. Outside of the venue, Aaron Colton, the Cossacks, and the Dust Motor Show each delivered their unique brand of two- and occasionally one-wheeled entertainment. The diversity of bikes on display has become the One Moto Show’s trademark, and this year was as incredible as ever. More than 250 motorcycles were brought into the barge building, ranging from classic restorations to far-out customs to handmade feats of engineering, including an oxygen-powered motorcycle that looks like it could live underwater. Turbo Ducati 848 by Moto Vera Co. (Erik Jutras/)After so much time away, it’s amazing to go back to the One Show, see our old friends, and experience the motorcycle community like this again. A big thanks to See See for always throwing a top-level show. For more information on next year’s event, check seeseemotorcycles.com. 1997 Harley-Davidson XL1200 by Dakota Ford. (Erik Jutras/) The section of the One Show dedicated to custom Honda Groms and Navis. (Erik Jutras/) 2022 Hypermono 600cc single by Cosentino Engineering. (Erik Jutras/) 1971 Norton Commando by Rebecca Rust. (Erik Jutras/) Justin Boyd’s Cyberpunk Bike. Check out that rear wheel. (Erik Jutras/) Cory Burkhart’s race-ready 1981 Honda Passport. (Erik Jutras/) Custom-painted gas tank on the Icon 1000 Yamaha. (Erik Jutras/) KTM Duke 890 by Super Hooligan racing champion Andy DiBrino. (Erik Jutras/) Bikes from the Icon stunt show waiting in the stables until their next performance. (Erik Jutras/) A 1971 BMW R75/5 built by Grant Irish. (Erik Jutras/) V-twins and choppers line the walls of the barge building. (Erik Jutras/) Honda CBR900 and Honda Cub from Icon 1000. (Erik Jutras/) Inside the Hypermono by Cosentino Engineering. (Erik Jutras/) The Flying Cossacks prepare for the riding pyramid. (Erik Jutras/) See See not only owns a coffee shop in Portland, but also a nearby KTM dealership. (Erik Jutras/) This Triumph cafe racer by Dustin Kott will be delivered to actor Ryan Reynolds after the One Show. (Erik Jutras/) Who could hate on a stanced mini Street Van, especially with a name like “Lil’ Sergey”? (Erik Jutras/) “Dante’s Inferno” by Corey Mauck of Aero Precision Metal Works. (Erik Jutras/) Scooters and minibikes are only a small part of the One Show, but the creativity on display among these smaller machines never fails to impress. (Erik Jutras/)Source
  24. Kawasaki’s 2022 KLR650 gets another lease on life with newfangled features like fuel injection and off-road-tuned ABS. (Kawasaki/)Ups Fuel injection a big bonusMinimal vibration through rubber-mounted barsGreat wind protection with minimal buffetingDowns Rubber-mounted and covered pegs have no place off roadStock shifter doesn’t like off-road bootsStiffer suspension still requires moderate pace to work wellVerdict An affordable dual-purpose machine with an adventurous streak, the KLR650 will take you almost anywhere you can think of and get you back home with a smile on your face. Updates for 2022 focus on improving the basic functionality without starting from a blank canvas or changing the basic character that so many KLR owners have come to appreciate over the years. The 2022 KLR’s cockpit: a new LCD instrument pod; wider, rubber-mounted handlebar; wider mirrors; a taller, two-position adjustable windscreen; an integrated accessory mounting bar; and two optional power sockets. (Kawasaki/)Overview Since it was introduced way back in 1987 (not a typo), the KLR650 has stood the test of time as other brands, even Kawasaki itself, built more focused models for every siloed aspect of adventure riding. ADV riding wasn’t even a thing back in ‘87, but over the years the KLR650 has grown from a bike perfect for everything from backroad exploring to touring to much, much more. KLR650 buyers have resisted change for years, and one could argue that there was little reason for a newfangled design with shiny embellishments. At the same time, progress has to eventually march on. In the case of the 2022 KLR650, the team at Kawasaki focused on refining a trusted friend. The basic core remains very much a KLR, with a liquid-cooled 652cc single pumping out predictable, manageable torque and providing good traction through a heavy flywheel. The gearbox is still a five-speed unit, although tweaks have been made for better reliability. As before, the KLR650 is a bit on the hefty side, weighing in at a claimed 483 pounds. But that steel frame, hung with suspension that provides supple damping, will help you pick your way through the rough stuff. Just don’t expect to charge into a rock garden like you’re on a competition enduro model. When it comes down to it, the KLR is still a KLR, a jack of all trades but master of none. And that’s not a criticism. The KLR is what it is, an affordable and above all fun tool that will take you on any riding adventure you want without fuss. The new tuned-for-off-road ABS and upgraded discs front and rear significantly improve braking performance for 2022. (Kawasaki/)Updates for 2022 Digital fuel injection with a 40mm throttle body heads the list of updates, while revised intake and exhaust cams are said to boost midrange torque. The 2022 model gets increased generator capacity to help power accessories such as heated stuff and GPS units. Improved and firmer suspension settings combine with revised chassis geometry for more stable handling. Highlighting the importance of stability, Kawasaki went a step further by incorporating a 30mm-longer swingarm into the design, as well as increasing rake by 2 degrees (30 degrees versus 28 degrees). There’s also a touch more trail (8mm). Revised brakes include off-road-tuned ABS and a 20mm-larger 300mm front disc plus a 1mm-thicker rear disc. New creature comforts include a fuel gauge on the new LCD dash, updated and revised bodywork and available luggage, wider mirrors, a wider rubber-mounted handlebar, and a taller and more protective windscreen sitting over a new LED headlight. A new LCD dash now includes a fuel gauge—a much needed and welcomed update. (Kawasaki/)Pricing and Variants The new KLR650 comes in three basic configurations. The standard KLR650 is available with ABS for $6,999, or without for $6,699. The KLR650 Traveler, which includes a top case and DC socket, is available with ABS and USB ports for $7,399, or with ABS but without the USB ports for $7,299. Finally there’s the KLR650 Adventure, which comes with side cases, fog lamps, frame sliders, a tank pad, DC socket, and special graphics in Cypher Camo Gray. This version is available with ABS and USB ports for $7,999, with ABS but no USB ports for $7,899, or no ABS or USB ports for $7,699. The 2022 KLR650 Adventurer (shown in Cypher Camo Gray) comes with side cases, fog lamps, frame sliders, and more. The top case is standard on the KLR650 Traveler model. (Kawasaki/)Competition The KLR650 has few direct competitors, but the closest are Suzuki’s DR650S and the Honda XR650L, each of which have their own rich history. Even still, shoppers looking for a midsize adventure bike might also consider options including the BMW F 850 GS Adventure/850 GS, BMW F 750 GS, KTM 890 Adventure R/890 Adventure, KTM 690 Enduro R, Husqvarna Norden 901, Kawasaki Versys 650, Suzuki V-Strom 650XT/650XT Adventure, Ducati DesertX, Yamaha Ténéré 700, Triumph Tiger Sport 660, Triumph Tiger 850 Sport, Royal Enfield Himalayan, and Honda CB500X. Powertrain: Engine, Transmission, and Performance The liquid-cooled four-valve 652cc DOHC single-cylinder engine is as tried and true as any engine out there. Bore and stroke measure 100.0 x 83.0mm. Fuel is delivered by a 40mm throttle body and DFI. Power is sent to a five-speed transmission. Kawasaki doesn’t quote horsepower, but torque is rated at 39.1 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm, and that’s all that really matters anyway. On its First Ride Review, Cycle World said: “The fuel injection is a hit. The bike ran perfectly everywhere from about 6,000 feet of elevation to nearly 10,000. [The bike] has reasonable low-end torque, but it signs off pretty early; rev it and nothing much happens. We wound up on the interstate; while 80 mph is at the upper end of the bike’s legs, its air management is good and the engine has minimal vibration for a big single. “The KLR is also equipped with oldest-possible-school traction control: a heavy flywheel. The inertia in the motor makes spinning the tire difficult, so electronic aids aren’t needed. The gap from first to second gear is wide, but short of adding a sixth gear, there might not be a better answer.” The changes Kawasaki made to the 2022 KLR650 chassis make the bike more confident in line selection. Stability is much improved altogether. (Kawasaki/)Handling The chassis changes have successfully improved the bike’s feel. The old model had a tendency to follow pavement seams, but the changes Kawasaki made to stiffen the new bike make it more confident in line selection. The suspension is comfortable, if generally unremarkable, on the road; once onto dirt, it does a good job of absorbing low-speed bumps. Get too enthusiastic and it will bottom on even relatively mild obstacles, so it’s best to set a moderate pace. Brakes The new tuned-for-off-road ABS and upgraded discs front and rear get good marks. The ABS is good too; it’s not as intrusive as some systems, and accomplishes exactly what it is supposed to. Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG Cycle World does not have miles-per-gallon figures available for the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650. As has always been the case, the 2022 KLR650 is up for almost any adventure. (Kawasaki/)Ergonomics: Comfort and Utility The shifter is close to the peg and cannot be raised without hitting the case, so a motocross boot will not fit beneath it to make an upshift; and the peg position is forward, so the standing position is cramped. The pegs are covered in rubber, meaning they’re slippery when wet. They’re also rubber-isolated from the frame, so putting your weight on them by standing makes them flex down to the point where your foot wants to slide off. On the better side, the new adjustable windscreen gets good marks for providing buffet-free wind protection on the highway. Electronics Like most things about the KLR, things are pretty simple. The bike gets off-road-tuned ABS, LED headlights, and a digital dash interface, while optional USB ports are available. Warranty and Maintenance Coverage Kawasaki offers a 12-month standard warranty, which can be extended by 12, 24, 36, or 48 months with the optional Kawasaki Protection Plus plan. Quality Bikes like the KLR650 don’t last for 34 years for no reason. Need we say more? 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Claimed Specifications MSRP: $6,699 to $7,999 Engine: 652cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled single; 4 valves Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 83.0mm Transmission/Final Drive: 5-speed/chain Claimed Torque: 39.1 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm Fuel Delivery: Digital fuel injection w/ 40mm throttle body Clutch: Wet, multiple disc, cable operation Engine Management/Ignition: CDI Frame: Tubular steel, semi-double cradle Front Suspension: 41mm telescopic fork; 7.9 in. travel Rear Suspension: Uni-Trak single shock, rebound damping and preload adjustable; 7.3 in. travel Front Brake: 2-piston caliper, 300mm disc w/ ABS Rear Brake: 1-piston caliper, 240mm disc w/ ABS Wheels, Front/Rear: Spoked aluminum rims, Tires, Front/Rear: 90/90-21 / 130/80-17 Rake/Trail: 30.0°/4.8 in. Wheelbase: 60.6 in. Ground Clearance: 8.3 in. Seat Height: 34.3 in. Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gal. Claimed Wet Weight: 456–483 lb. Contact: kawasaki.com Source
  25. The MV F3 RR is now updated with added tech, an advanced aero package, and Euro 5 compliance. And just <em>look</em> at it. (Tim Keeton, Impact Images/)Just a decade ago, if you wanted something fast and focused without the liability of a 1,000cc superbike for the road, you had a lot of exciting bikes to choose from: multiple 600cc machines, 675s from Triumph and MV, Kawasaki’s 636; turn the clocks back a little further and you’d find the Suzuki GSX-R750 and Kawasaki’s ZX-7R. But today the development these apex-hunting middleweights has slowed dramatically. Yamaha’s long-serving R6 is still available as a track-only option, and Ducati still produces the twin-cylinder Panigale V2, which is now eligible to compete in World Supersport alongside MV with its F3. MV Agusta is almost the last man standing. The company is not only still producing the F3 800cc triple, but doing so in two versions, the Rosso and the exciting RR. To keep the MV F3 RR in production, the Italian manufacturer has had to make some adjustments to meet Euro 5. It has done this with a list of engine changes that have kept power at a quoted 145 hp from the 798cc triple, the same output as the base Rosso version. The most dramatic and obvious update is a new aerodynamic package designed to generate downforce, a first in this middleweight category. The new RR features attractive enclosed wings much like those found on the new Fireblade. According to MV, these clever little “appendages” add 17.6 pounds of downforce at 149 mph. There’s also a taller screen and a very trick Moto2-style front hugger that wraps around the fork legs. Note the F3 RR’s new aero package, designed to add downforce and stability at the high speeds where they’re most needed. (Tim Keeton, Impact Images/)Not so obvious is the 10 percent lighter rear wheel, which MV claims reduces inertia by 7 percent. There are new CNC-machined footpegs and a new seat with a grippier surface. Keen-eyed readers will notice that our testbike isn’t a standard RR; MV fitted ours with its race kit, which includes a CNC-machined fuel cap and brake and clutch levers, a pillion seat cover, and an Akrapovič silencer, which will likely attract the most admirers. This chops 8 kilograms (17.6 pounds) from the total weight, bringing it down to just a quoted 165 kilograms (364 pounds) dry, and the exhaust and race kit ECU boost power by 8 bhp to 155 hp at 13,250 rpm; peak torque remains the same. We spent a few days trying out the new MV F3 RR in perfect conditions. Is there still a place in the market for a pin-sharp sports middleweight? And does the ride match the obvious desirability of the new RR? Power Freeze The stock three-cylinder 798cc motor maintains its 145 bhp at 13,000 rpm and 88Nm at 10,100 rpm despite now meeting tight Euro 5 regulations. That is an impressive achievement for a high-revving engine, eked out through numerous and detailed tweaks including diamond-like coating on the tappets, new valve guides, and new low-friction bearings. There’s also a new exhaust and a new clutch, but essentially MV has counteracted the restrictions of Euro 5 by allowing the engine to spin more easily. Thanks to top-notch suspension, this MV Agusta eats up turns and loves to carry corner speed. (Tim Keeton, Impact Images/)Sounds So Good It’s hard to find a dull-sounding MV. Given that our testbike was fitted with the race kit it was always going to sound fruity, and the Akrapovič silencer amplifies the triple’s howl gloriously. There is plenty of torque on tap and no need to rev the F3 RR hard in daily use, yet you can’t help but hold onto gears too long and let the motor scream free. The updated bidirectional quickshifter adds to the occasion. The shift is near perfect, fast and racy, cutting the ignition only for the fraction of a second it takes to slip in another gear. Backshifts are equally impressive, with each gear dropping in smoothly even at high revs. Most current sportbikes are fitted with launch control, so the F3′s is nothing new, but I can’t remember the last time I used a track-focused rider aid so much on the road. Select launch control, then first gear; hold the throttle to the stop and let the electronics do the rest as you release the clutch and go. It’s simple, intuitive, and amazing every time. It’s all too easy to get carried away with the top-end performance of the F3 RR and indulge in the romance of a lovely sounding Italian-built MV while forgetting about all practicality. Thankfully, MV didn’t overlook criticism of its balky low-rpm fueling, which is now much improved. The F3′s fuel injection and low-speed throttle response are on par with the competition, something you couldn’t say of any MV a few years ago. Hungry for an Apex For close to 20,000 pounds/$24,700 (plus 2,000 pounds/$2,470 more with the race kit), the RR comes with the same fully adjustable suspension as the standard F3 Rosso, which means a Sachs shock on the rear and an inverted 43mm Marzocchi fork up front. No shiny gold Öhlins, then, and still manually adjustable. That said, this setup works and works well. MVs of the recent-ish past were infamous for having too little suspension travel and a too-stiff setup, but the RR’s ride is forgiving and makes the bike feel anything but a rigid racebike that’s found its way onto the public highway. Head for a bumpy backroad, ride like you’re at the TT, and yes, the RR will respond with the odd twitch and kick. But on normal UK pavement, the quality suspension and track-ready Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires work together with a purpose. The MV encourages you to ride harder and faster, to let go of the brakes and carry corner speed as you lean ever deeper. The new footpegs are grippy and the seat is too, so riders will feel comfortable hanging off midcorner. A good balance between responsiveness and suspension compliance means the F3 RR will let riders do this sort of thing all day. (Tim Keeton, Impact Images/)The fun isn’t hindered by the electronic rider aids, which have been updated for 2022 with an upgraded six-axis IMU. MV has worked closely with Milan-based specialists e-Novia, who has clearly done its homework; the electronics are some of the best ever equipped to an MV. The front wheel lift control in particular is delightfully smooth, and can be deactivated for full-blown bouts of immaturity. Less experienced thrashers and experts alike will appreciate the overall electronic control, which can be easily tailored to match the rider and conditions via the new 5.5-inch color TFT dash. Our test was done under dry and sunny conditions, so the lean-sensitive traction control was never really tested, but if it works as well as the lift control, new quickshifter, and launch control, it will at least be in the ballpark. Riding modes include Race, Sport, Rain, and Custom. It’s easy to switch between them, and the current mode is clearly displayed on the dash. Rider aids are also clearly displayed and can also be changed or deactivated on the move. As for the F3 RR’s new winglets and their claimed 8 kilos of generated downforce at 150 mph, that will have to wait for a track test. They’re said to only start to work above 100 mph, which is not a speed you see on public roads too often, though high-speed stability is excellent. The proven and impressive 320mm front discs and their Brembo radial Monoblock four-piston calipers remain the same, but the electronics controlling the ABS have been upgraded to work in corners and at lean. The addition of cornering ABS is a big step for MV and puts it on par with its neighbors at Ducati. The 2022 F3 RR gets elegant Brembos with gorgeous carbon ducts. (Tim Keeton, Impact Images/)There were no issues with ABS intervention during testing, as expected with perfect weather and road conditions. However, the Brembos were a little inconsistent, sometimes strong and sometimes almost spongy. Other MV models with a similar brake setup have never had this issue. Note that the rear ABS can be deactivated but not the front. Improved Tech MV is unusually enthusiastic about its MV Ride app, and for good reason. It’s easy to connect to the bike, and riders can track a route, check out lean angles, use the navigation to give live directions on the dash, and even show text messages. The dash readout is clear and the app is useful on both road and track. It can be used to change riding modes, reduce or increase the rider aids, or create a custom map for the track you’re lapping. Brilliant. The MV Ride app provides a wealth of fine-tuning options. (Tim Keeton, Impact Images/)Practical MV? In the past MV overlooked comfort and economy in search of pure performance, but recent years have seen it move away from that tradition. The F3 RR’s screen is now taller, making the MV feel far roomier than before. Again, thanks to the relatively plush suspension and the fact that cruise control comes standard, it’s not out of the question to think about putting some serious miles on this bike. MV quotes fuel economy numbers of 6.1 liters per 100 kilometers, which is 46 mpg. This testbike managed a little under 40 during aggressive riding and full enjoyment of the revs and that Italian chorus. And Then There’s the Price Here’s the painful bit: a price of 19,660 pounds/$24,250 compared to 14,840 pounds/$18,300 for the standard F3 Rosso, which has the same power and suspension. If you look at the admittedly limited competition, Ducati’s Panigale V2 sits between the standard Rosso and the RR at 16,396 pounds/$20,225, priced between the standard Rosso and the RR. And MV itself has the retro Superveloce 800, again using the same triple-cylinder engine, starting at 19,980 pounds/$24,650. Arguably, if you’re focusing on the price of the MV, you’re missing the point. The desirability, exclusivity, and beauty of the F3 RR are unquestionable. However, perhaps also arguably, that MSRP is a damn shedload of money. It may be serious money, but everything else about the 2022 F3 RR is pure and unfettered fun. (Tim Keeton, Impact Images/)Verdict Looks are subjective, but it’s hard to imagine anyone not loving the MV F3 RR, especially once it fires up and the howl sends shivers down their spine. A lot of images of this bike wound up on our phones. Combine this with the F3 RR’s improved fueling, tech, and rider aids, its new and proper aero package (the front mudguard looks very trick), and MV’s achievement in hitting Euro 5 without losing any engine performance, and it’s an impressive package. But the biggest news is how much the RR’s rider comfort has improved while retaining its excellent handling. It’s unclear whether the 7 percent lighter rear wheel can actually be sensed by mortal riders, but anyone can tell that the RR certainly loves an apex and will be a hoot on track. So ultimately the big draw is the sheer fun factor. A sweet-handling, nonfatiguing 146 hp middleweight with a soulful soundtrack is a resounding, overwhelming yes. Well done to MV for keeping this segment not just alive, but thriving. It’s just a shame it’s so damn expensive. There aren’t many middleweights left, but the F3 RR may be the best of them, and is an excellent machine regardless of category. (Tim Keeton, Impact Images/)2022 MV Agusta F3 RR Specifications New price £19,660 Engine DOHC, water-cooled 4-stroke 3-cylinder; 12 valves Displacement 798cc Bore x Stroke 79.0 x 54.3mm Compression Ratio 13.3:1 Transmission/Final Drive 6-speed Claimed Horsepower 147 bhp (108kW) @ 13,000 rpm Claimed Torque 64.9 lb.-ft. (88Nm) @ 10,100 rpm Frame Steel tubular trellis Front suspension Marzocchi inverted 43mm fork, fully adjustable; 4.9 in. travel Rear suspension Sachs single shock, fully adjustable; 5.1 in. travel Front brake Radial-mount 4-piston Brembo caliper, dual floating 320mm discs w/ ABS Rear brake 2-piston Brembo caliper, 220mm disc w/ ABS Wheels, Front/Rear Alloy; 17 x 3.50 in./17 x 5.50 in. Tires, Front/Rear Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II; 120/70-17 / 180/55-17 Rake/Trail N/A / 3.9 in. Wheelbase 54.3 in. (1,380mm) Ground Clearance 4.7 in. (120mm) Seat Height 28.7 in. (730mm) Fuel Capacity 4.4 gal. (16.5L) Average MPG 45 mpg (6.3L/100km) normal ride Claimed Dry Weight 381 lb. (173kg) Warranty 3 years Contact mvagusta.com Source
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