Mark your calendars for April 22nd. That's when this a documentary about the Tourist Trophy and Guy Martin comes out. Martin has 8 podiums at the Isle of Man race in the past and this film documents his latest effort of going for it in 2010. Love the quote, "It's not about beating the next guy it's about beating the track."
We have been following the progress of Motus for quite some time now. We love the styling of the bike and also the fact that part of the Motus operations are out of Michigan.
For Daytona Bike Week, Motus rode a couple of their bikes to Florida to take part of the festivities. A member of TeamMoto, Fred Rozario, shot a quick little clip that provides some nice auditory tones.
Fred's thoughts were: nice fit and finish for a pre-production prototype, great torque power and very well balanced. We are looking forward to this fall when pricing and availability will be announced.
In the mean time the Motus guys will be riding the bike across the U.S. to drum up press and support. We just wish we were going with them.
Sometimes waiting pays off: Especially for KTM's 2011 RC8
Thursday, 17 February 2011 19:03
These days when I look at bikes like KTMs RC8 the first thing that comes to mind is: What would my life expectancy be measured in if I bought one of these 172 horsepowered monsters. I'm guessing it would it would take less than a couple miles before I would click into "the hell with speed limits" mode. Once in that mode I'm guessing my life insurance agent would start getting ansy.
If you're a 2010 RC8 owner you just might want to kill yourself for another reason. KTM dropped the price of the 2011 bike by $3,500. While at the same time increasing horsepower and fuel economy. Ouch!
Norton 961 Commando SE to hit the U.S. shores but don't hold your breath
Thursday, 17 February 2011 17:15
If you're a Norton fan any news is good news. The prospect of the new Norton Commando being sold in the States has got to warm up Norton fans. But and it's a big but ... only 200 of the limited edition SE's have been made. Of those, only 50 will be sold in the U.S. and most of those are already gone.
There are two versions; a wire-wheeled version for $17,999 and a carbon-fiber wheeled bike going for $19,499. That price makes buying a vintage bike a little more attractive to us.
Check out the official video which shows off the sweet looking bike dispite one of the ugliest promo videos we have seen lately.
Want a piece of motorcycle history? The King of Cool Steve McQueen's 1971 Husky motocrosser is up on the auction block. The Selvedge Yard has a great write up on it including:
With its signature red and chrome glistening gas tank, the Husqvarna (or "Husky" as it's affectionately known) was a stunning beauty of a bike, and a mud-slinging beast on the American motocross circuit. Back in the 1960s, the increasingly popular sport of American motocross was bogged down by clumsily modified (not to mention heavy) Harley-Davidson, Triumph & BSA road bikes. It was lumbering in antiquity and in dire need of innovation.
Guess what's coming to the U.S.? Royal Enfield is showing off two new bikes, the Classic Chrome and the Bullet. Autoblog.com had this to say about it:
The Classic Chrome is appropriately draped with enough shiny stuff to signal the space station on a clear day, and while we typically don't go all gooey-kneed at the sight of copious brightwork, this bike is officially on our do-want list. The Classic Chrome looks to share more than a few bloodlines with the popular C5, though the eagle-eyed among you will likely note a kick start lever. The U.S. C5 is currently only available with an electric starter, though we'd expect that omission to soon be rectified.
Royal Enfield also showed off its new Bullet 500 – a bike that heralds to the Bullet 350 that's been a staple of the Indian moto scene for half a century. Company CEO Venki Padmanabhan said that the future's looking bright for larger displacement version of this bike soon.
By popular request the breakfast location for this Saturday is near Stuart's Laboratory, so that he MAY POSSIBLY (please, please, please) introduce us to his newest hot thang. She looked like the picture attached a mere few months ago. But now that lovely wild hair is all tucked away, she's painted and polished, and I hear she has the sensuous growly purr of a vintage vixen. Can't wait to meet her, Stuart!
Breakfast meeting - Six hardy souls and one wimp(me) managed to locate the tiny restaurant hidden in the huge metropolis of Corunna. On Main street, no less. Fred's Ultra served as a beacon.
Reminder~It helps to bring the map you just printed out and to remember the name of the place. We were again rewarded with good food at a reasonable price with personal, friendly service from everyone. We shared infomation, advice, laughs.
My plan was to leave from there and ride to Indy for a weekend visit with my family. Friday evening was spent cleaning and packing the bike. I got up early and added a couple of layers of thermal and leather in anticipation of the chilly ride on I-69. Then I opened the garage door to discover it was raining. Then I checked the radar. Dark green and yellow blobs all the way down. Hmmm. Reluctantly opted to drive the car so changed into regular clothes.
The biker fairies ridiculed me as I drove on pretty much dry roads all the way with only 3 slight rain showers. The real punished came when I stopped at Jim Bailey's H-D in Fort Wayne to get my Passport Tour entry. The annual 'Music Fest' was in full swing with hundreds of motorcycles in the parking lot and crowds of leather clad real bikers. That punishment was mild compared to what was to come. My daughter and her Harley biker boyfriend planned to ride in an American Legion fund raiser leaving at 11am Sunday. They said I could follow in my car-if I wanted. When the last bike pulled out I left for home-in my nice HOT car. 'sniff'
Tammie had reminded me 'Better be safe than sorry.' Guess it is better to be sorry than dead. Arrived home safely after seeing 12 dead deer by the side of the road and one smart one grazing at the edge of the woods on the far side of the field...
On an evening run to Sylvania to pick up a Ninja 250 (more on that in another post), I stopped to fill up my unnamed relative's Chrysler 300. Leaving the gas station, biker instinct kicked in and I punched the tripmeter button.
It said the exact same number as the odometer. It had never been reset.
So I asked. Some people are funny about that. Bikers reset their tripmeters, because often it's the only "gas gauge" they have. Some car drivers never do, as some kind of hinky badge of honor.
If you ever get a chance to ride the Lightning, take it.
A friend recently bought a pristine 2004 Ford F-150 Lightning SVT from a guy in Florida. Since I was already there on spring break, I offered to inspect it with my dad and drive it home.
If you didn't know, you'd think you were looking at an F-150, standard-cab stepside. But pop the hood, and there's a supercharged 5.4 liter Triton V-8 under there, pumping out 380 ponies. (SVT stands for Special Vehicle Team, Ford's internal hop-up shop.)
This is a serious grin-and-sin machine.
Supercharger kicks in anywhere, any speed, if you goose it. A vacuum gauge on the dash and a turbine-like noise tell you it's on the job.
At 120, the supercharger is at full howl ... and still pulling seamlessly. Speedo only goes to 140. She is rock-steady at all speeds. 93 octane only, please. Motivating right along, she returned 14.5 mpg. About 300 miles per tank of gas.
Rides very well — sport suspension is awesome in the corners, very smooth on the straights. Not like a truck at all; no crow-hopping or other nasty surprises.
Leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise, all the amenities.
Exhaust sound is very deep, very rumbly. Dual side pipes, both sides. Makes the seats literally hum at high speed. Lighting badging gives the secret away, to those in the know.
Seriously, nothing street-legal can touch this thing. On a 15-hour, 70 mph average, overnight express run from Fort Myers Beach, Florida to Convington, Kentucky, Corvettes, Porsches, 5.0 Mustangs, other hotted-up trucks tried.
In fact, the only thing that did catch me was a county-mounty in a skin-top Tahoe. He swooped up from behind as the SVT was doing 90, powered down the window and sternly mouthed the words "SLOW DOWN."
Sir, yes sir.
It's actually hard to break the super-wide tires loose on dry pavement, so everything turns into forward momentum.
This thing walks away from stuff like nothing else I've ever driven. It was apparently driven by an older gentleman, who kept it in a climate-controlled area. The undercarriage looks the same as the day it was rolled off the factory floor.
During a recent spring break mission trip to Guatemala with a team of U.S. Air Force Academy cadets (a tale unto itself) one of TeamMoto's members had a chance to see how motorcycles are used and abused in GUA.
Much more so than the U.S., motorcycles in Guatemala tend to be all-around workhorses, and primary modes of transport.
But, there are many ironies, subtleties and paradoxes involved. Harold, interpreter for the team, and a biker himself, wryly encompassed all of that dichotomy with the phrase "Welcome to Guatemala."
For example, what we think of as a middleweight here in the States — a 500 or 650cc mount — is a heavyweight in Central America. A lightweight — typically, a 125cc single — rules the roost.
In fact, if you see a GSXR600 or CBR600, you are likely looking at a drug-dealer's saddle. Bigger, say a Honda Fireblade? Usually, a come-on in the city for a dealership. Very, very few are spotted in the wild.
Why? Well, the average speed on most Guatemalan roads is never much above 50, and usually around 30-40. Fuel is expensive. Road surfaces vary from boulevard/freeway to sloppy macadam to dirt with tennis-ball-sized rocks. (Emphasis on sloppy macadam.)
And if you see what you would assume to be a perfect middling mount in a country with cobbled roads— a DR650, for example — it's probably from a government stable. As in Policia, etc.
What really flips your lid are the cruisers. They look like big, American cruisers, with their fenders and wide handlebars, etc. But look under the fat tank ... and there's an itty bitty motor, at least by American standards.
More? Sure. In Guatemala, there are a plethora of laws. But law enforcement tends be, uh, shall we say, sporadic? Moody? Personalized? ("Welcome to Guatemala.")
For example, helmet laws. They tend to be written by municipalities, and they are on the books. But a casual gringo passing-through cyclist survey indicated about 50 percent of male riders don't have a brain bucket shading their ears.
Blame the macho culture. Technically, the police cannot stop a moving vehicle. ("Welcome to Guatemala.") But they do if they want to, or set up road blocks. ("Welcome to ..." you get the picture.)
While nearly all female passengers had helmets on, many did not when they were piloting scooters themselves. (It looked like it was a style issue.)
Speed limits? Hmmmm. A mix. In situations where this gringo would have been flying by, motorcycles were happy to ride second or third banana in a row of cars.
That may be self-preservation kicking in. Riding in that traffic position keeps you from being the initial point of impact in the casual, but established, passing techniques used in the country. On blind curves and elsewhere.
And that piddler engine doesn't give you the passing power of a 800cc or 1,200cc rig to turbo-boost yourself out of trouble.
One interesting thing? Even the smallest thumper — dressed as a cafe racer, dual purpose or standard — was typically polished within an inch of its life. Think of the typical Harley rider's fetish for polish, and you've got an idea.
Ironically, most bikes didn't seem to have large rear racks, tank bags, etc. Frequently, however, the seats were exotically decorated.
And there were delivery bikes — mostly old Yams with the ram air heads — with huge boxes on the back. Even McDonald's delivers, in Guatemala.
Bottom line? America's over-infatuation with horsepower, size and freeway flying probably gets in the way of cultural immersion, out there in the good old US of A.
But that doesn't mean our erstwhile correspondent is ready to give up his Buell Ulysses.
In fact, on the road from Guatemala City to Monjas, the old Buell would be the perfect high-speed mule.
Problem: Molly, my '97 f650 funduro needs a little work done to get her road worthy before it gets warm. Her taillight was MIA after my last ride in October. She also needed heated grips so I could ride early this year. We had the parts but no place warm to work on her.
Solution: Wheel her up the ramp and into the house. A nice cozy workplace and a warm spot for her to spend the night before my birthday ride the next day. Yes, the kids think we are crazy.
Whatcha gonna do when your wife runs her fingers through your hair, looks into your eyes and says, "Please honey... won't you take me for a ride." But instead of running upstairs, she points me to the garage.
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe which motorcycle gets to go. No batteries in any of them. So the "easiest" option was kick starting the the Honda XR 250.
After what seemed like the 100th kick I gave up.
It's not easy being a motorcyclist in Michigan but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
We've been trying to get out at least once every month. Last winter we didn't miss a single month. But this year it's been a little bit harder. We managed to get out in November and December, but January has been a little cold. Plus all the white stuff sure makes it hard to ride vehicles with only two wheels.
So today it was supposed to be a balmy 34° out.
Next victim on the list was the KTM. So I yanked the 950 Adventure out from underneath it's cover. I pulled the battery off of the trickle charger and slapped it into the bike. Tammie was already suited up.
You could almost hear the big bike groan, "You gotta be kidding me. I ain't going nowhere in 27°." But a couple of seconds on the starter and she reluctantly came to life.
I suited up while Tammie paced back and forth like a caged tiger.
The bike was purring almost as loud as Tammie. She plugged in her heated vest and off we went, heading south on M-15. Dark clouds drifted overhead. Temps were only in the upper 20s. The brisk wind was blowing snow across the wet highway. Ahhh, not good. Wet roads + winds + cold = ice.
I opted to get away from the open fields and head down M-13 along the Saginaw River. That was a little bit better. If we could get to the Zilwaukee Bridge, I figured that should qualify for a decent January ride.
I'm not sure what is more dangerous, riding a motorcycle in January or taking pictures underneath the crumbling Z-Bridge. So a couple of quick shots and back aboard the 950.
We blasted back up to Bay City. The 950 just begged to be opened up. Cracking the throttle lightened up the front end as we roared along the river. A quick photo at James Clements Airport and then off to warm up.
We headed to the nearest diner for lunch. Walking into Rudy Js, the waitress demanded, "Are you die hards or aren't you from around here?"
Our helmets, glasses, and camera fogged up like we were in a Swedish sauna. The moisture on the front of the camera made for some "cool" shots of Tammie drinking her coffee/hot chocolate.
After splitting a gut bomb burrito we stumbled back out to the bike for the short jaunt home.
When it's the middle of winter and you're a motorcyclist there are very few options to occupy your two-wheel fix. The exception is when the International Motorcycle Show comes to town. So each year we sojourn south to the outskirts of Detroit to help ease some of our pain.
During the ride down to Novi we tried to think what new bikes had captured our attention this year.
On the top of my list was the new XR1200 from Harley Davidson. I had read a few reviews for this European only bike. Words like "best handling Harley" and "I would buy one if they sold it in America" really piqued my interest.
H-D changed its position on selling the bike in the states. For 2009 they decided to release 700 bikes here. I wondered if this would this be the one bike from H-D that I would consider buying.
I had ridden a slew of Buells this year. Everything from the new 1125CR to Firebolts and even the Ulysses. I really like the concepts and styling that Eric Buell brings to H-D's two cylinder power plants. So in the back of my mind I was expecting to see some of that Buell finesse applied to the XR1200.
But, truly, "the devil is in the details." The XR1200 looks great in pictures. Coming around a curve and shot with a long lens this bike just screams "buy me." Up close is when some of the luster fades. First, the pipes on this bike just look massive. The nickel plating seems out of place and they are not tucked in nice and neat to the bike. They just seem to hang out there.
The pegs are quite a ways back, sport-bike fashion. But the bike feels much more like a standard, which would dictate moving the pegs forward. Then there's the fender on the back of the bike. It is just huge. It seems oversized.
Last but not least: the tank. If you are a motorcycle designer and you really want to capture the essence of a classic motorcycle, get the tank right. The tank on the XR1200 seems out of proportion. H-D is not alone in this problem. The 50th Anniversary Triumph Bonneville tank is just an abomination, capturing none of the original tank's features and flavor.
A lot of this is nitpicking. But with so many options in the market, everything should be just right. Of course, a lot of a bike's visual problems might go away once you fire up the engine. Here's hoping.
What surprised a few of us was how much we really like H-D's Nightster. This is one bike that just works.
Overall, the show was a lot smaller this year. BMW, Aprilla and Moto Guzzi were missing. That's too bad because I believe that anytime you have people paying money to see your bikes you shouldn't be absent.
Kawasaki was there in full force. They had mpg stickers on most of their bikes. The Versys was presented in a brand new flake Kawasaki green. We heard tons of comments on the color. It was love or hate, none in between.
Another very interesting bike was the Kawasaki ER-6n. With a price tag of $6,399, this is a great value for someone wanting an all-around sport standard. The front is a little robo cop, but overall we really liked what this bike has to offer.
The only thing missing from bikes like the Versys and the ER-6n is ABS. Again, the Europeans have had this feature on the Versys for a couple of years. It sure would give beginning and intermediate riders much more confidence when riding in iffy conditions.
KTM was there with a bigger booth than last year. The RC8 just looks wicked. The 990 Adventure seems to be losing some of its dirt heritage. Overall the bike is much lower and with the low seat on it, it seems more like a street bike than a dirt-oriented one.
• Yamaha's V-Max is over the top.
• Ducati had a nice booth. It was great to finally see the Street Fighter up close.
• The ball of death, where two motorcyclists ride inside of a caged ball, was gone this year. It was replaced by a trials bike demonstration. Don't miss this. Very impressive!
• One of the coolist things this year was a display featuring cafe-styled customs. One custom featured a Honda XR400 motor. Nice creativity.
• We saw some of the ugliest mufflers on bikes this year. Some are so huge they dominate the bike. Buell gets it when it comes to mufflers. Tuck them under and be done with it.
• If you are a Buell owner going to the shows, don't forget to bring your key to get a free t-shirt from Buell.
• There were some deals to be had, if you scope out the vendors. Tammie scored a two-piece Teknic Venom suit for $100.
Switching from a BMW Airhead to a Buell Ulysses XB12X
So, what would possess a button-down Boxer man to buy a bad-boy Buell?
You're not the first person to ask.
But it has to do with Big Twin power, ease of maintenance, a fiddle-free rear drive and all-American all-around capability and versatility.
And it seems to be a strong trend among BMW aficionados, who seem to be buying Buells in disproportionate numbers.
Making the leap from German to American engineering.
Back in nineteen and eighty six, my choices finally boiled down to two bikes: A Harley-Davidson FXRT and a BMW R80RT.
Keep in mind that I had already burned up two Japanese street multis — a naked Suzuki GT550 and a Suzuki GS650G with a Shoei sport-touring fairing, lowers, and Krauser Starlet bags.
Good bikes for what they were, but I was looking for factory luggage, a factory sport-touring fairing and a long-term travel relationship.
Problem? Yes. At $9,500 FXRT was twice the price of the the $4,800 BMW. And this was '86, when H-D was just emerging from beneath the AMF quality cloud.
The FXRT had a fairing you sat beneath, not in, and you wound up looking through the windshield. Or not looking through the fiberglass portion that swathed the buckhorn handlebars, as the case may be.
The saddlebags looked good, but held little. And the cruiser, feet-forward seating position didn't feel like total rider control to me.
So, the BMW got the nod. Why? Price, capability and track record. I remember the Cycle magazine review saying that the R80RT was like finding a great jazz station in the midst of a sea of Top 40 radio stations.
And Cycle, as usual, was right.
The price was about double compared to Japanese stuff. But not terrible: seems to me the Deutsche mark was weak against the U.S. dollar that year. The capability was there — the classic RT fairing was already a proven commodity, and BMW's locking, detachable saddlebags set the industry standard.
The airhead Beemers were well known, and had been incrementally improved over the years. And the 800cc displacement was the smoothest, if not the most powerful, of the Boxer lot, considering the 1,000cc and 650cc models.
Farkles — accessories — were cheap, diverse and well-made. The shaft drive was known for being absolutely rock-solid. But splines required occasional maintenance.
Fast forward to today, 21 years later. I have not regretted my purchase one bit. While she has had her issues, the RT is still going strong, and is easy to work on, understand, and repair. There are 102,666 miles showing on the clock.
Since '86, BMWs have steadily escalated in price and complexity, to the point that they seem to be riding on their rep, rather than their abilities. Don't get me wrong: They are incredibly capable, fast bikes.
But their gee-whiz technology is starting to overwhelm their reliability, in my book.
Farkles? Well, they all seem to be high-dollar, too, and not easily swapped from bike to bike, or even year-to-year among BMWs.
When my friend's GS rear drive took a dump on a our Colorado adventure this summer — and we had difficulty getting dealer help out of state — that kinda sealed the deal. The four or five rear-drive failures in last year's Iron Butt didn't inspire any confidence either.
In addition, that friend's GS has had a series of mechanical issues, all well known to the GS community. But BMW has leapt to the next new thing — instead of improving on an already good thing.
Sidle over to the Ulysses. It's unique, no question. Downright ugly, to some folks (including Bubby at Cummings Harley-Davidson, where I bought the bike.) But, it has:
• An air-cooled engine that is user- and maintainer-friendly. • Big twin power and torque. • All-around capability. • Locking, hard, detachable luggage. • Heated factory grips. • Power points. (Although the one under the seat makes no sense a'tall.) • A seemingly loyal, BMW Airhead-like band of enthusiasts, not big-dollar dilettantes. • A proven, understandable, repairable rear drive that is lighter and more responsive than shaft or chain.
At about $7,000 less than a new BMW GS or RT.
Pete at Cummings, who handled some of the Secretary of State paperwork, noted that a lot of Buell customers are coming off BMWs. It's an anecdotal data point I've been hearing a lot about lately. It makes me wonder: BMW, are you tracking that data, too?
Issues? A few. Many Harley-Davidson dealers (including Cummings) don't quite "get" the Buells. Oh, they have them in stock, and they are happy to sell them, but too many have their accessories behind the parts counter, or relegate their Buells to dusty corners.
The windshield is a fashion statement, but can be upgraded. (And will never be near RT or full-on GS territory.) The bags have had latch issues (That have apparently been fixed.) She needs wider, Tuono-style mirrors for a better check on the six.
The hard bags are on the way. The tank bag is on the way. A larger windshield, for winter work, will likely be on the way. The rear seat accommodations for a Particular Pillion Princess are nowhere near as lush as the RT, nor as wind-protected.
So, my old Airhead will likely stay in my hangar for certain missions involving a certain blonde. (Or I will sell it, and use the money I saved on the Uly to move up a few model years to an oilhead R1150RT.)