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Updated: 26 min 52 sec ago

Scruffy customer buys Harley with cash

Sat, 06/05/2017 - 6:00am

This scruffy and elderly Thai mechanic was shunned by several motorcycle dealerships before he finally bought a Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight Sportster with cash.

Lung Decha is reported by as being an “honest and diligent mechanic who has partially retired from work”.

He does not smoke, drink or gamble and saved his money to buy his “dream bike” which cost 600,000 baht (about $A24,000).

He paid for the bike on the spot with cash.

It seems sales people did not treat him seriously because he wore a dirty, oversized t-shirt and thongs.

Lung with his new Harley

In a MotorbikeWriter article last year compiled by a former sales person, one of the tips for customers to get a better deal is to “try to smell nice”.

“If you or your riding gear have an odour, no sales person will want to spend long enough with you to arrange a test ride or bargain. And they certainly won’t want you trying on any clothing,” the former sales person suggests

They may not also allow you to ride if you are not dressed for the occasion.

One Triumph Motorcycle dealer in India has refused to hand over a new motorcycle to any customers dressed in thongs (flip flops), shorts and a t-shirt.

However, it seems sales people should not judge a book by its cover, although it is not known whether Lung rode the Harley home in his thongs or had it delivered. If you’ve ridden in Thailand, you’ll notice that rider safety gear is minimal.

We’ve also had a lot of female riders complain about sales staff ignoring them because they assumed they didn’t ride.

  • Have you ever been shunned by sales people because you were not dressed appropriately? Please leave your comments in the space below.

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Jawa returns to international market?

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 5:00pm

Czech motorcycle manufacturer Jawa could be returning to the international market with a new four-stroke retro 350 model.

For the past 88 years, Jawa has been mainly making two-stroke bikes which have now been banned in many markets because of emissions regulations.

Now the company is about to release a new 350 model with 350cc OHC four-stroke engine sourced from China that is compliant with Euro4 emissions standards, making it suitable for export to most markets.

The bike is expected to be built in the Czech Republic.

However, with the recent takeover by Indian tractor company Mahindra, their Indian tractor plant is being redeveloped to also produce Jawa bikes within the next two years.

It is not known if this will replace or augment Czech motorcycle production.

The first Mahindra-made Jawa is expected to be unveiled at the 2018 Auto Expo in India. It will have Jawa badging, not Mahindra.

The company also recently bought BSA and has announced it will produce BSA retro-styled bikes for the international market, but initially Jawa will be for the domestic market.

Jawa 350

Meanwhile, the new retro-styled Jawa 350 is a four-stroke tribute to one of its most popular historic two-stroke models, the 1970s 350 Type 634.

The single-cylinder 397cc engine comes from Chinese company Shineray which also supplies engines for some of the new retro SWM models made in Italy.

It is a copy of a Honda XR400 with Delphi fuel injection.

It produces 20.4kW at 6500rpm and 30.6Nm at 5000rpm which is lower than the XR400 because of the lower compression ratio.

The 350 roadster comes in red and black in a classic British roadster format. It sports a 19-inch front wheel, gaitored forks, twin rear shocks, single chromed headlight, shiny 12-litre tank and classic twin-pod instruments.

It has a dry weight of 160kg and comes with ABS standard.

It sells in the Czech Republic for CZK99,930 which is about $A5300 (US$4000).

We contacted Jawa to see if it was being considered for export to Australia, but have so far not received a reply. We will update this article if they do.

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Morgan & Wacker parties like it’s 100 years

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 6:30am

The oldest Harley-Davidson dealership in Australia and the oldest in the world outside the USA, Morgan & Wacker, is marking 100 years today (May 5, 2017).

Morgan & Wacker in Newstead is hosting an invitation-only party tonight with guest of honour Bill Davidson, great-grandson of founder William A. Davidson.

Bill will return on Saturday (May 6) for a meet and greet at 10.30am and to present show and shine trophies at 3pm.

The public celebrations begin on Saturday with breakfast at 8.30am and bike-only parking in Ross St, Newstead.

Live music and a show and shine

An official ceremony will be held at 10.30am, followed by live music, catering by the Ze Pickle food truck, and the show and shine.

Harley-Davidson Australia boss Nigel Keough says Morgan & Wacker has been a “part of the cultural landscape of Australia” since it opened in 1917.

Bill, who is also the Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum, will continue on a ride from Sydney to Melbourne over the following week to celebrate 100 years of Harley in Australia.

Meet Bill and party!

You can meet Bill Davidson and help your local dealership celebrate 100 years:

  • Monday, May 8, 6.30pm, Northern Beaches Harley-Davidson Dealer
  • Tuesday, May 9, 6.30pm, Canberra Harley-Davidson
  • Wednesday, May 10, 6.30pm, Phil’s Garage, Albury
  • Thursday, May 11, 6.30pm, Traralgon Harley-Davidson
  • Friday May 12, 6.30pm, Harley Heaven, Melbourne
  • (See your local dealership for invitations and details)

“Not many people realise that Harley-Davidson opened its doors in Australia just 14 years after launching in the United States, so the 100 year anniversary this month is one to be celebrated,” says Bill.

Bill Davidson

“I’m so excited to join the ride from Sydney to Melbourne and experience the epic riding conditions Australia is famous for. I’m also looking forward to meeting some of the people who’ve made Harley-Davidson feel so at home here the past 100 years. The spirit of the riding community is just as strong here as it is in the US,” Mr Davidson said.

As part of the 100 Year Celebrations, Harley-Davidson has partnered with Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, to help those suffering from the debilitating disease Live Their Legend.

Two patients from the Foundation will ride with Bill and a VIP group from Sydney to Melbourne to help raise awareness and funds for brain cancer research.

At the end of the ride, Harley-Davidson Australia and Harley-Heaven in Melbourne will donate $100,000 to the Foundation to help fund further research of such a brutal disease.

Also, to celebrate the 100th anniversary, Harley-Davidson Australia is giving away a Street Glide signed by Bill’s father, Willie G.

Street Glide signed by Willie G

For a chance to win the Willie G. Street Glide, riders have to buy a commemorative 100 years pin for $25 (including shipping) to go into the draw. You can buy your pin here or at dealerships.

HD 100th Anniversary pin 100th anniversary gear

Harley has also launched a special 100th Anniversary Apparel Collection of men’s and women’s long and short-sleeved t-shirts and hoodies. They are available for a limited time at dealerships. Check out the catalogue here.

Harley-Davidson Australia 100th Anniversary t-shirts

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Helmet removal update for ambulance

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 6:00am

A manual for ambulance officers on safe motorcycle helmet removal from a crashed rider is being rewritten to accommodate latest technologies.

Unfortunately, it has not yet been approved or adopted at a national level, but it is being promoted across Australia, New Zealand and PNG by the Council of Ambulance Authorities.

The concern about removing a helmet from a crashed rider is that it could promote a spinal injury. A helmet should only be removed from a rider if they are having trouble breathing.

FAFM helmet sticker

There are also several different methods for removing a helmet depending on the type of helmet and condition of the rider.

The move to rewrite the helmet removal manual is the work largely of former Motorcycle Council of NSW chairman Christopher “CJ” Burns.

He says most NSW ambulance stations have been contacted about updates on the procedure, a presentation will be made to ambulance educators at an upcoming conference and the information will be written into the NSW CRASH Card.

The free CRASH Card provides emergency service personnel with the rider/pillion’s personal information saving valuable time and assisting with treatment, especially if the rider is either unconscious or unable to communicate.

CRASH Card. (Medical information on the other side.)

A red sticker is placed on the outside of the element to advise ambos about the card inside.

Chris says CRASH Card reminder stickers for NSW Ambulances will soon be provided.

However, there is come concern that the CRASH Card may deter emergency services from removing a helmet.

Another medical information system is the I.C.Emergency USB stick which you can keep in your jacket pocket, attached to your keyring or placed around your neck with a lanyard.

We recommend a I.C.E.mergency USB to store medical information. BUY NOW

The I.C.Emergency USB is available to riders through our online shop.

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Wheelie record smashed on scooter

Thu, 04/05/2017 - 5:00pm

A Japanese stunt rider has smashed the world wheelie record by riding a single-cylinder 125cc Yamaha Jog scooter just over 500km on the back wheel.

Masaru Abe had targeted 600km for his continuous wheelie, but suffered lower back pain after two hours and had to take painkillers to make it to 13 hours.

“That was the most pain I’ve ever felt,” he said after the stunt.

“Both of my arms were numb from the pain and I had lost feeling in them. My vision was blurred. I was only partially conscious. I was completely dehydrated.”

Abe managed to ride 500.5322km on the Kawaguchi Auto Race circuit at an average speed of about 40km/h.

Masaru Abe sets world wheelie record on Yamaha Jog scooter

He broke the previous record by fellow countryman Yasuyuki Kudo who wheelied his Honda TLM220R trials bike for 331km at the Japan Auto Research Institute proving ground in May, 1991.

Interesting that Abe chose a scooter to perform the stunt. A trials bike would probably have been much lighter.

In fact, British and world trials champion Dougie Lampkin became the first person to wheelie a motorcycle all the way around the 60.2km Isle of Man TT course in September 2016 in 95 minutes at about 38km/h (23mph).

Dougie Lampkin

We are unaware of any modifications to Abe’s Jog scooter, but once the front wheel is off the ground it’s all a matter of balance and throttle control, anyway.

A scooter’s low centre of gravity could be a distinct advantage.

Other wheelie records

Flying Dutchman Egbert van Popta set a new world wheelie speed record of 213mph (342.8km/h), on his turbocharged Suzuki in July 2016, smashing the previous record by 4mph (6.4km/h).

Egbert van Popta wheelies at 213mph (photo Phil Evans)

“StuntWars” creator Todd Colbert did a 100m wheelie at 130km/h on his stock 1992 GSX-R1100 in 1998 with nine people on board, smashing the previous record of eight people.

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WA launches lane filtering poll

Thu, 04/05/2017 - 10:00am

An online poll about lane filtering has been launched in Western Australia to help negotiate the adoption of the rules.

Lane filtering is now legal in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT. However, the rules vary slightly from state to state.

It is now a priority for the new WA government as it was an outstanding priority action of the 2014 Motorcycle Safety Plan.

Previous Road Safety Minister Liza Harvey signed off on the proposal, but it did not make it into legislation before new Minister Michelle Roberts took over.

Motorcycle Riders Association WA road safety officer Nic Hill has launched the online poll through her special Facebook events page so riders can have a say on how the rules are framed.

“I have opened the poll for a week to allow as many people a chance to see and comment as possible and also share it amongst various riding groups,” Nic says. 

“As Road Safety Officer of MRAWA I have the opportunity to pass people’s opinions on to the government bodies that will be making this decision on our behalf. 

“I want to be certain that I am speaking for the majority and not just forwarding my own personal views. I’m concerned that people outside of the MRAWA are represented also.”

Nic and husband Dale are instructors with On Yer Bike Rider Education. Nic emphasises that the poll is her initiative and not the MRAWA.

“Besides it was just my curiosity because I’m not 100% agreeable to all aspects that government may propose and I like to arm myself with research before I go into debate,” she says.

“My arguments may differ slightly from the MRAWA stance due to the fact that all legislation will affect how I train my clients. From my position as a full-time instructor I see things from the viewpoint of novice riders more than experienced riders.”

While lane filtering is not illegal in WA, there are other rules such as passing on the left and failure to stay in your lane for which riders can be fined when filtering.

Nic’s poll asks whether there is a need for a new rule, whether it should be capped at 30km/h in moving and/or stationary traffic, only allowed at intersections and whether the rider has any other suggestions.

So far, there are very few objections listed in the comments, while most seems to support a higher speed of 40km/h for filtering.

That would put WA out of step with the rest of the country which caps filtering at 30km/h.

Nic’s poll closes next Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

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Aussie two-stroke engine invention

Thu, 04/05/2017 - 5:00am

A Sydney engineering company has developed a new two-stroke engine that they believe could be used in motorcycles.

It’s called Crankcase Independent Two-Stroke (CITS) and was invented by former South African motorsport engineer Basil van Rooyen, Director of CITS Engineering, St Ives.

He says advantages over four-stroke are that the CITS engine is more powerful, lighter, smaller, cheaper, more economical and with lower emissions.

Two-stroke motorcycles have been phased out in recent years by tough pollution laws and fuel economy targets.

However, KTM has released a raft of new direct-injection two-strokers and Honda recently registered patents for direct-injection two-stroke engines, so they look like making a comeback.

Basil’s CITS also uses direct injection, but has a by-pass valve that replaces the throttle and provides progressive cylinder deactivation ensuring minimised pumping losses.

It also uses a typical four-stroke’s oil sump and does not mix the oil with the fuel in the combustion chamber like normal two-stroke engines. CITS therefore eliminates total-loss lubrication of a typical two-stroke.

“CITS technology is applicable to any engine application from V-twins of 25 to 125kW up to V12s of over 1000kW for hospital generators etc,” he says.

The prototype was built on an 800cc V-twin Suzuki Boulevard crankcase, to which were adapted Rotax 800 Etec parallel twin cylinder-jackets and heads, cut into two to make this adaption possible and to fast-forward the proof-of-concept stage, confirming five major predictions and secure patents.

They are:

  • It runs under load without thermal or lubrication issues on clean petrol;
  • the novel pivoting inlet valve can pivot at 7000rpm;
  • the by-pass valve replaces the need for a throttle, and the pumping losses throttling causes;
  • the engine runs smoothly; and
  • that the three-times-higher primary compression ratio becomes a three-times-more-powerful de-compression ratio on induction.

Basil hopes to sell the royalties to his invention to engine manufacturers, rather than making any engines himself.

He is currently seeking an investor or a motor manufacturer as a partner for the final stage to commercialisation. He can be contacted via Linked In or email.

Basil says the cost and weight per kilowatt with CITS engine technology can be less than half that of popular three- and four-cylinder four-stroke engines.

The prototype Rotax 800cc Etec two-stroke produces 148hp (110kW) compared with the Suzuki Boulevard 800 which makes 66hp (50kW).

The Rotax with CITS has three times higher decompression, runs on pure fuel and has 70% reduced vibrations.

Basil says he envisages a lower rpm version with about 90hp (67kW) at 5500rpm would be suitable for most applications.

The CITS concept needs no changes in today’s production methods, but grasping the fluid dynamic advantages is complicated and mechanics and engineers are advised to check out the CITS Engineering website for further details.

It also shows this video of the unique self-driven inlet valve and the by-pass calve in action.

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Motorcycle activists needed

Wed, 03/05/2017 - 5:00pm

Motorcycle riders will continue to be marginalised victims of society unless they stop being keyboard warriors and become real activists, says a rider representative.

Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland president Chris Mearns says he is frustrated by the riders willing to criticise, but not help.

The last time riders rallied in numbers was during the Freedom Rallies against the VLAD so-called “anti-bikie” laws.

2014 Freedom Rally

One recent example is the issue of almost 200 CBD parking spaces lost in Brisbane with the development of the casino.

Council has so far only been able to replace 33 spots, well short of its promised 94.

The Brisbane Motorcycle Parking Progress Group Facebook site has been quick to admonish council, despite council’s offer to form a working group with riders to identify potential parking areas.

Lost CBD spaces Social media blamed

It has been almost impossible to get volunteers together for the working party.

Chris blames social media saying it has become a vehicle for expressing people’s frustration but not for getting issues resolved.

“If the matter that is needing action only has one answer and does not require any negotiation or additional interaction then there is hope that social media may generate sufficient pressure to get a result,” he says.

“However, once further face-to-face discourse is required, only old-school direct interaction will get the matter advanced.

“Unfortunately it is becoming evident that the general population has become way too complacent and unwilling to go the extra mile and engage in the old-fashioned way.”

Call for activists Activists

Chris has called on riders to become real activists for rights.

He says the state-based rider associations and Australian Motorcycle Council are filled with “passionate people” who have been fighting for riders’ rights for many years on “limited budgets with limited resources”.

“In various states there are people that have given extraordinary amounts of time, and even their own finances to attempt to resolve the perennial issues afflicting riding some of which can on occasion take years of input to bring to finalisation,” he says.

“Unfortunately, as social media has gained traction there has been a corresponding reduction in the amount of people willing to offer their direct services to these organisations because of the belief that if they make a statement on a social media outlet then they have done their part and all will be made right.”

He called on “passionate and talented” people to become activists, join state rider associations and help fight for riders’ rights and liberties.

“Only real people can make a real difference,” he says.

CBD parking problem Brisbane CBD parking

Meanwhile, Chris says their representative on the council working group will negotiate on behalf of riders, if no riders come forward to assist.

“If riders can’t get their act together, we will get in and do it,” Chris says

“Our representative has previously actually worked for council.

“He has distinct suggestions not only to replace lost street bays, but to add discounted motorcycle parking in council’s two parking facilities.

“For example, the bottom floor of the King George Square parking facility is usually vacant. One suggestion is to get heavily discounted motorcycle parking on that floor at maybe $20 a week.”

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CFMoto 650NK keeps updating

Wed, 03/05/2017 - 12:00pm

The Chinese-made CFMoto 650NK is still one of the best bang-for-your-buck bikes in the learner market and is now cheaper and better than when it was released in 2012.

At $6490 ride away, it’s $700 cheaper than its launch price, yet it now has ABS brakes, Bosch EFI, new instrumentation and more aggressive styling from KTM design house Kisha.

There is also a non-ABS version for $5990 as well as a 400NK at $5490 and 400NK ABS at $5990 (all prices ride away).

There have been several changes to the bike over the past few years, each time fixing some of the concerns of critics.

Updated suspension

One of our major concerns was the cheap and choppy rear shock.

It has been replaced by a newer KYB unit with adjustable pre-load and rebound. It makes the ride a little more composed, although it does throw some emphasis on the rough KYB forks.

It still gets tripped up by a series of short, sharp bumps, but ride and handling are much improved.

Another improvement is in the instruments and electrics.

We found some problems with these in a previous version, but they are much better with a comprehensive amount of information, a handsome “Batman” shape and more reliable electrics and controls.

Flexible engine

There is no change in the engine which we have found to be a flexible and forgiving unit, ideal for novice riders, albeit a little quirky.

All 650NKs imported into Australia are restricted via a throttle body stop from 52KW to 41.5KW to comply with LAMS regulations.

The engine revs quickly, has strong mid-range torque and pulls from 3000 to 6000 revs where it lights up again for another burst of acceleration before peaking above 10,000.

However, there is a fair bit of buzzing around 3000 revs and the top-end buzz makes the mirrors blur so you can’t see anything in them. The mirrors, that look like a Japanese cartoon character’s ears, also need to be frequently readjusted as they vibrate out of alignment.

The buzzy engine is flexible enough to allow for good progress in just about any gear at any revs which is fine for novice riders.

It is married to a six-speed gearbox that is light and positive with a medium-pull clutch so it is fine in traffic with plenty of changes.

You will find you slip quickly through the short gear ratios and can ride around in a gear or two higher than you would normally expect.

On several occasions I found I had flicked through to fifth and even sixth in urban areas, mainly to reduce the buzzing from the engine. When I needed a little bit of acceleration, I had to drop it down two or even three gears.

You will also have to work the gearbox vigorously on ascents where the engine tends to run out of a bit of puff.

There is also some low speed surging at constant throttle which can be a littler annoying around 40-50km/h urban areas.

Interestingly there is a red “mode” switch on the left handlebar which does nothing. It’s for foreign markets where you can change engine modes between sport and economy.

However, it is deactivated for our LAMS rules.

Spanish brakes

I found the Spanish J.Juan front brakes lack initial bite and have inconsistent feel. However, they perform well if you pull the lever all the way in.

I adjusted the brake lever to its outer most positions so I didn’t squeeze my fingers when using two-fingered braking. (The clutch lever is also adjustable which is unusual for such a bargain-priced bike.)

By comparison, the rear brake has very positive feel and plenty of power.

The only backward step seems to be the change from European Continental tyres to Chinese-made Adreno rubber. However, my early misgivings for the tyres were dismissed, especially after they were worn in.

They have good braking and lateral grip although they scuffed up quickly and may not last as long as the Contis.

Ergonomics and styling

Riding position has not changed with the Kisha aggressive restyling. It’s still a very neutral upright position with an easy reach to the bars and pegs.

I’m not sure if the seat has been changed, but it seems fairly hard and became uncomfortable in less than an hour; something I hadn’t noticed on the previous models.

It’s also small and feels a little confined with little room for movement.

The tasteful Kisha restyling of the nose also includes an LED daytime running light which gives better visibility to other traffic.

I’ve never been a fan of the insect-lille tail assembly and somehow the more skeletal version is worse.

However, overall fit and finish seems to be improved and the gaps and welds are neater and more consistent. The only concern here is the cheap tank stickers.

The bike looks good in black and there is a white version as well.

CFMoto facts and figures
  • CFMoto has been distributed in Australia by Mojo Motorcycles since 2007 and has sold more than 15,000, including 9500 ATV/UTVs and 5500 motorcycles.
  • It is has been the largest exporter of ATV/UTV’s from China for the past 10 years with annual production of about 80,000 vehicles, half of which are motorcycles.
  • Of those 40,000 motorcycles, 15,000 are for international markets and 25,000 are for the domestic market.
  • In 2016, CFMoto had 7% market share in the 250-400cc segment and 46% market share in the 400-750cc segment in China.
  • The company has sold 10,000 650NK worldwide and 1500 in Australia.
  • CFMoto began a co-operation with KTM in 2012 and assembles smaller capacity KTMs (Duke 200/390 and soon RC390) for the domestic market.
  • There are many co-branded CFMoto/KTM dealerships now in China
  • KTM design house Kiska has worked on CFMoto products including the 150NK (model intended mainly for domestic market), the 650NK and the new 650MT adventure bike.

CFMoto 650NK ABS Price $6490 (ride away) Engine 649.3cc, liquid-cooled DOHC, 8-valve inline-twin four-stroke with 180-degree crankshaft, chain camshaft drive and single gear-driven counter balancer Bore & Capacity 83mm x 60mm Compression 11.3:1 Warranty 2-year unlimited km Torque 62nm/6.32kgm/45.72ftlb at 7,000rpm Power 41.5kw/9,500rpm (LAMS Restricted) Transmission 6-speed with gear primary drive Clutch Multiplate wet Chassis Chassis Tubular steel diamond frame employing engine as fully-stressed member Front Suspension 41mm telescopic KYB forks (max travel 120mm) Rear Suspension Extruded steel swingarm with tubular steel bracing, Kyaba cantilever monoshock (max. travel 45mm) Front Brake Twin Disc, 300mm with Continental ABS System Rear Brake Single Disc, 240mm with Continental ABS System Front Wheel & Tyres 120/70ZR17 CST on 3.50 in. cast aluminium wheel Rear Wheel & Tyres 160/60ZR17 CST on 4.50 in. cast aluminium wheel Size / Weight Length x Width x Height 2120mm x 780mm x 1100mm Wheelbase 1415mm Seat 795mm Clearance 150mm Turning Diameter 5.4m Fuel Tank 17L Dry Weight 193kg Mojo Motorcycles facts and figures

• Established in 2002

• Sell in excess of 4000 vehicles a year across all brands

• Second largest privately owned motorcycle distributor in Australia

• Service 100 plus dealers nationally 

• A team of 25 staff

• New 5000sq/m distribution facility in Melbourne

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Online research halves dealer visits

Wed, 03/05/2017 - 6:00am

Motorcycle customers are spending more time in online research for their next bike than visiting dealerships, according to an American motorcycle industry survey.

We believe the same thing is happening in Australia where dealers tell us customers are often arriving at their stores with more information than the salesperson.

The 11th annual Pied Piper customer satisfaction survey of American dealerships found that motorcycle shoppers are much more savvy thanks to online research, says Pied Piper boss Fran O’Hagan.

“Motorcycle shoppers today visit dealerships half as many times before buying,” she says.

“Motorcycle shoppers today gather much of their information on-line before ever visiting a dealership, and the result has been a drop from an average of four or more shopper visits before buying, to an average of two visits today.

“Successful motorcycle dealerships today not only respond quickly to customer web inquiries, but they also understand the increased importance of every customer visit.”

The Pied Piper survey is compiled from the research of mystery shoppers.

Over the past few years, the survey has shown that test rides are offered 63% of the time to mystery shoppers compared with 34% five years ago, while sales staff encouraged customers to sit on a bike 81% of the time versus 70% five years ago.

The latest research ranks BMW dealerships as the best, followed by Harley-Davidson, with Indian Motorcycle and Ducati tied for third.

BMW leapfrogged Harley and Ducati, which have dominated rankings in the past few years, by offering new initiatives, Fran says.

In one case, Long Beach BMW Motorcycles is offering customers a virtual reality test ride on their bikes.

BMW dealership offers virtual reality test rides

Pied Piper says five years ago, BMW dealerships were below the industry average in several areas.

BMW dealers are now 50% more likely to mention test rides, 60% more likely to encourage going through the numbers or writing up a deal, and 30% more likely to ask for contact information to allow follow-up, Pied Piper reports.

Meanwhile, BMW Motorrad has introduced a newly designed website, called “Make Life a Ride”, based on a customer’s typical experience at a BMW Motorrad dealership. The new website has more than 400 pages, 8000 images, extensive video content and provides the sounds of their bikes.

The Pied Piper survey shows brands with the greatest overall improvement over the past year were Husqvarna, BMW, Triumph and Yamaha.

Brands with declines from 2016 to 2017 were Ducati, Aprilia, Zero and dealerships selling the Polaris Slingshot three-wheeler.

Eleven of 16 brands improved generating an industry average PSI score of 110. That’s one point up from 2016, and the highest score Pied Piper has yet measured in their annual motorcycle industry study.

  • What could your local motorcycle shop do to improve the sales experience for you? Leave your comments in the section below.

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KTM 390 Duke adds tech and style

Tue, 02/05/2017 - 5:00pm

The 2017 KTM 390 Duke has arrived in Australia with a host of technical features and stunning styling like its biggest brother.

The new model is now $6995 (+ on road costs), which is the same price it was launched at in 2015.

New features include: bigger 13.5-litre metal fuel tank up from 11 litres, a new orange and white trellis frame, ride-by-wire throttle, TFT instrument display, LED headlight, larger 320mm front disc brake, new exhaust and styling that makes it look more like the biggest and baddest naked KTM, the 1290 Super Duke.

The 390 Duke has sadly never reached its potential in Australia, although last year, it increased sales 28.2% to 391, while KTM road bikes also showed a spike of 22.2% to 1656.

It sits behind the Yamaha MT-03 but ahead of the Honda CB500F.

That could change with the 2017 model which has sharper and bolder styling highlighted by the 20-piece LED headlight replacing the old halogen light. It also has a more modern LED taillight.

KTM has also improved the ergonomics with a bigger rider saddle section.

Apart from the styling, the biggest attraction is the longer range from the now-metal fuel tank.

Together with the more comfortable saddle it means longer trips aboard the new bike.

KTM claims the ride-by-wire throttle and Bosch engine management give better fuelling and throttle response.

Braking is also improved with a 320mm front disc and there is now a slipper clutch to prevent rear wheel lock-ups under downshifts.

Otherwise, the six-speed transmission and 375cc single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine are the same with 32kW and 37Nm of torque.

It now comes with a TFT instrument display rather than the old digital instruments, plus handlebar-mounted controls and KTM’s My Ride app to allow you to connect to an android phone to the bike.

However, it remains to be seen whether this budget novice end of the market wants all that hi-tech and a premium price tag.

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Harley-Davidson Australia celebrates 100th

Tue, 02/05/2017 - 10:00am

Harley-Davidson is celebrating 100 years in Australia by giving away a Street Glide (pictured above) signed by Willie G. Davidson and a Big Ride to dealerships with Bill Davidson.

Willie G. is the grandson of founder William A. Davidson and Bill is Willie’s son.

For a chance to win the Willie G. Street Glide, riders have to buy a commemorative 100 years pin for $25 (including shipping) to go into the draw. You can buy your pin here or at dealerships.

HD 100th Anniversary pin

Harley has also launched a special 100th Anniversary Apparel Collection of men’s and women’s long and short-sleeved t-shirts and hoodies. They are available for a limited time at dealerships. Check out the catalogue here.

Harley-Davidson Australia 100th Anniversary t-shirts

The 100th anniversary celebrations start with an invitation-only party on Friday night (May 5, 2017) with Bill Davidson at Morgan & Wacker in Brisbane.

Bill Davidson

It was the first Harley dealership in Australia and the second in the world outside of the USA.

Bill will ride to Gasoline Alley, Daisy Hill, then to the Morgan & Wacker Harley dealership on the Gold Coast.

He will then fly to Sydney for media interviews about the 100th anniversary of the brand in Australia before embarking on a ride to several dealerships down to Melbourne.

Ask Bill

Motorbike Writer will be tagging along for the Sydney-to-Melbourne leg, so if you have any questions to ask Bill, please email them to us.

There isn’t much Bill hasn’t done in the company since joining in 1984.

He has held many positions and is now the Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum.

Check with your local Harley-Davidson dealership for special 100th anniversary parties.

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Suzuki moves closer to turbocharging

Tue, 02/05/2017 - 6:00am

Suzuki is moving closer to turbocharging with new patent drawings emerging.

The Japanese manufacturer unveiled its Recursion turbo concept (pictured above) in 2013 with a single-overhead-cam parallel twin engine with turbocharging.

In 2015, Suzuki unveiled a new turbo “XE7” engine with twin overhead cams and registered the Katana name and trademark Samurai sword.

XE7 engine

Now there are new patent drawings for the bike’s frame.

So it seems clear Suzuki is getting closer to a production model with turbocharging.

The patent drawings show a new tubular steel frame with the intercooler above the cylinder head rather than under the seat like on the Recursion.

Patent drawings

It also has stacked transmission shafts to make the engine compact and allow a longer swingarm.

The engine’s lubrication includes twin radiators and water cooling for the turbo when it is on its sidestand.

It seems forced-induction models could be a significant part of the future for many manufacturers.

At present, the only forced-induction motorcycles are the four-cylinder supercharged Kawasaki H2 and track-only H2R.

Kawasaki H2 Carbon

However, Suzuki and Honda are both developing models with forced-induction.

But rather than hyperbikes like the Kawasaki, these are small-capacity bikes designed to have the same power as larger bikes, but lower emissions.

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Where are the motorcycle theft hot spots?

Mon, 01/05/2017 - 5:00pm

Motorcycle thefts have risen 1% in the past calendar year to 8271 in Australia with South East Queensland and Perth the hot spots for theft.

That means riders in those areas are likely to be slugged the highest premiums for their bike insurance.

While thefts only increased 1%, there was a big reduction in the Territories and Tasmania, offset by big rises in Queensland (10.3%), South Australia (6.8%) and Victoria (4.8%).

According to the latest figures for 2016 released by the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, joy-ride motorcycle theft was up 0.4% while “professional” profit-motivated theft was up 1.3%.

State or Territory 2015 2016 % change Thefts % of thefts Thefts % of thefts ACT 117 1.4 98 1.2 -16.2% NSW 1,437 17.5 1,430 17.3 -0.5% NT 136 1.7 126 1.5 -7.4% QLD 1,355 16.5 1,495 18.1 10.3% SA 573 7.0 612 7.4 6.8% TAS 145 1.8 105 1.3 -27.6% VIC 2,135 26.0 2,237 27.0 4.8% WA 2,299 28.0 2,168 26.2 -5.7% AUS 8,197 100.0 8,271 100.0 0.9% Motorcycle thefts have risen steadily over the past six years from 7757 in 2011 to 8271 last year. The biggest volume increase over that time was in Victoria (54.4%). State or Territory 2011 2016 % change Thefts % of thefts Thefts % of thefts ACT 52 0.7 98 1.2 88.5% NSW 1,634 21.1 1,430 17.3 -12.5% NT 173 2.2 126 1.5 -27.2% QLD 1,468 18.9 1,495 18.1 1.8% SA 554 7.1 612 7.4 10.5% TAS 107 1.4 105 1.3 -1.9% VIC 1,449 18.7 2,237 27.0 54.4% WA 2,320 29.9 2,168 26.2 -6.6% AUS 7,757 100.0 8,271 100.0 6.6% Click here to buy your “warning” keyring.

The most stolen bikes are also the most popular bikes in the market – the big four Japanese models.

It seems thieves also target small-capacity bikes and scooters which are light and easier to steal. Dirt bikes also rate highly as stolen bikes are not re-registered and used only on private properties. Make 2011 2016 Honda 1,567 1,616 Yamaha 1,490 1,513 Kawasaki 609 831 Suzuki 658 720 KTM 380 481 Harley-Davidson 142 230 Hyosung 95 213 Triumph 82 180 Longjia 178 167 Piaggio 89 162 SYM 138 150 Kymco 110 130 Riders in South East Queensland and Perth should be taking precautions to secure their bikes as they are in the prime motorcycle theft hot spots. State or Territory Local Government Authority 2011 2016 % change QLD Brisbane (City) 264 250 -5.3% QLD Gold Coast (City) 242 217 -10.3% WA Stirling (City) 159 183 15.1% VIC Melbourne (City) 77 182 136.4% QLD Moreton Bay (Regional Council) 112 144 28.6% VIC Port Phillip (City) 45 132 193.3% QLD Logan (City) 170 127 -25.3% WA Rockingham (City) 130 127 -2.3% WA Wanneroo (City) 121 123 1.7% WA Broome (Shire) 83 117 41.0% HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BIKE
  • Buy a secure chain so you can chain your bike to an immovable object like a lamp post.
  • Use a secure disc lock with a reminder cord attached to your handlebars so you don’t ride off with it still in place.
  • Also, use the steering lock if your bike has one.
  • Even when parked in a secure location such as your garage or behind a locked gate, consider the extra security of using the steering lock, a disc lock or chain as well.
  • Pull out a spark plug or fuse, or have an immobiliser fitted.
  • Don’t park your bike in railway or shopping centre carparks as these are notorious for theft.
  • Park in a locked carpark. If you have to park in the open, leave it where you can see your bike or in view of a security camera and/or under a light.
  • Otherwise, keep your bike out of sight, maybe parking it behind your car. If parking in a garage, block the bike with your car and ensure the garage is locked.
  • When riding home, make sure you are not being followed.
  • Stay alert for suspicious vans or trucks driving around late at night. These are used to transport stolen motorcycles.
  • Put a cover over your bike. It might slow down thieves and prevent theft of accessories. But make sure it isn’t a flashy lone with the brand name of the bike on it. That only entices thieves.
  • When riding in a group, park your bikes together.
  • Consider marking your bike in a unique way that could aid in recovery and therefore dissuade thieves.
  • At hotels or public parking spaces, try to park in view of parking lot security cameras and lights.
  • If you park your motorcycle outside your house, consider installing a motion sensor light near the bike.
  • Install a motorcycle alarm and/or a hidden kill switch.
  • Buy a GPS tracking system that can track and deliver your bike’s speed, location and direction

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Yamaha owners despatched for recalls

Mon, 01/05/2017 - 2:31pm

Yamaha owners in Canberra face a 90km ride to have their bikes repaired free under two recent safety recalls after the local dealership closed down.

The company last month issued a worldwide recall on several three-cylinder models (2015-2017 MT-09 Tracer pictured above, 2014-2017 MT-09 and 2016-2017 XSR900) over an issue with loose handlebars.

It follows a recall in March for its MT-03 and R3 learner-approved motorcycles over two new issues regarding the fuel tank and electrics.

Yamaha MT-03 A reader who read the MT-09 recalls on Motorbike Writer contacted us to tell us that with the Canberra Yamaha dealership closing down at the end of April 2017, safety recalls have been referred to the nearest dealership in Goulburn, 90km away. The reader sent a query to Yamaha Australia to find out who we here in the ACT can use to get this fixed.

Yamaha Motor Australia motorcycles technical support officer Duilio Pianca said recalls were to be carried out at a Yamaha dealer “to ensure correct modifications are carried out”.

“At this stage, we do not have a new dealer appointed in Canberra,” he says.

“We would appreciate if you could make arrangement to have the repairs carried (at your convenience) at the next closest dealer (Goulbourn).


Recall notices are issued by the manufacturer through a voluntary industry code under the ACCC.

Despite hundreds of recalls by various automotive manufacturers, none has ever been mandatory.  All have been issued by the manufacturer.

While any recall is not good news for the manufacturer, it shows that they are largely diligent in fixing problems.

If you believe there is an endemic problem with your bike that should be recalled, contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502.

To check whether your motorcycle has been recalled, click on these sites:

• Australia


• UK

• New Zealand

• Canada

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Harley-Davidson drawn into Trump debate

Mon, 01/05/2017 - 6:44am

A conservative activist and Harley-Davidson shareholder has drawn the company into public debate about President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office.

David W. Alamsi, vice-president of the right-wing National Centre for Public Policy Research, said the February meeting between Trump and Harley executives should be considered among the “high points” of Trump’s first 100 days.

He was speaking at the Harley shareholder meeting which fell on the 100th day of Trump’s Presidency.

In reference to the February meeting, Harley boss Matt Levatich told shareholders he was impressed by how members of the Trump Administration “leaned in, listened respectfully and cared what Harley-Davidson had to say. And you can’t ask for anything more than that.”

Matt meets the Don

President Trumps first 100 days have been controversial and he now faces record low popularity rating, particularly among Harley’s target outreach markets – youth, women, Hispanics and Black African Americans.

Almasi said Harley was “rolling toward the opportunity” of working with Trump rather than away from it like Uber and Starbucks.

Levatich said the company is always “pleased to have the opportunity to share” how government policies “affect our business.”

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Suus unveil single-layer Road Denim jeans

Mon, 01/05/2017 - 6:00am

The new holy grail of motorcycle jeans seems to be single-layer denim with the abrasion-resistant material woven into the fabric.

The latest to release single-layer denim riding jeans is Suus, a Melbourne-based website and factory that started making urban custom bikes and selling vintage and new riding gear in 2013.

Single-layer advantages

The advantage of single-layer denim is that the protection is all over the product, not just in there most vulnerable areas.

It is also lighter and cooler because there are no extra layers.

Suus spokesman Richard Elis says their new Road Denim jeans are made in Australia.

“They’re single layer and abrasion resistant, blended with UHMWPE,” he says

UHMWPE is Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, a new Dutch fabric that is claimed to offer similar protection to leather.

The fabric in these jeans is tested using EN-13595-2 and the supplied armour is rated as EN1621-1:2012

“We’re really going for a no-nonsense approach here – well made, good looking jeans that will stand up to a nasty fall,” Richard says.

The jeans sell for $420 to $460.

“The high price tag is justified in the quality and craftsmanship,” Richard says.

However, it’s not as expensive as other single-layer jeans made by fellow Melburnians Saint.

Claims and counter-claims

Meanwhile, Draggin Jeans has been working on single-layer denim, but claims it does not yet meet their high standards.

The Sydney company disputes the claims and testing procedures of other manufacturers.

For riders it is impossible to know who is right until a university five-star rating system for motorcycle protective clothing is available. There is no word yet on when that will happen.

Meanwhile, the Suus armoured jeans in black and blue have hit the market and we will be testing them in the next few weeks.

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Are independent bike mechanics protected?

Sun, 30/04/2017 - 5:00pm

Independent motorcycle mechanics seem to be dying out at a rapid rate.

Is it because motorcycle manufacturers are withholding servicing information or making it too expensive – some at up to $1900 a year for just one engine platform.

A war of words has now broken out over whether manufacturers are withholding vital servicing information and killing off independent car and motorcycle mechanics.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has confirmed that automotive manufacturers are not allowed to withhold important maintenance information from independent mechanics.

The FCAI issued the statement after comments last week by Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Competition and Productivity Dr Andrew Leigh.

Information ‘withheld’

Dr Leigh claimed that standard servicing information, such as computer fault codes, were being withheld by manufacturers.

He says this makes servicing more expensive and has led to the disappearance of many independent mechanics.

Certainly in these days of computerised vehicles the backyard motorcycle mechanic seems to be rapidly disappearing.

Voluntary code

FCA boss Tony Weber says the Voluntary Code of Practice-Access to Service and Repair Information for Motor Vehicle was established two years ago.

He says it involved “all the key parties”, including the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association and other representatives of the independent repair sector.

“This was an agreement forged in good faith and with goodwill, and specifically included a mutually agreed mechanism for dispute resolution,” he says.

“The misinformation in Dr Leigh’s opinion piece today even claims that customers are being forced to go back to their dealer for service and repair, which is a complete fabrication. In fact, it contravenes consumer law to do this.”

Weber says the industry has made repeated requests for examples of any breaches of the current agreement.

The limited number provided have all been investigated and found to be unsubstantiated, he said.

What mechanics say

We have also spoken to several independent mechanics and found that information isn’t being withheld.

However, they claim the asking price for ECU software is often exorbitant and prohibitive for small operators.

None of the mechanics wished to be named for fear of facing further pressure from manufacturers.

Meanwhile, independent motorcycle mechanics seem to be disappearing at a rapid rate.

  • Has your favourite mechanic workshop closed down? Tell us all about it in the section below.

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Campaign to restore Engaged to Death film

Sun, 30/04/2017 - 6:00am

Iconic 1956 Italian film Engaged to Death, about motorcycle racing and famous marques such as Moto Guzzi and Gilera, could soon be restored through a crowd-funding campaign.

Running Films is trying to restore the two remaining and slightly damaged celluloid copies of Engaged to Death (The boyfriends of death).

It’s described as a “tale of passion and rivalry in the ‘50s motorcycle racing crazy world”.

The company needs €20,000 ($29,000) to restore the film and so far has attracted almost 300 backers who have pledged €16,365 ($23,883).

So it could soon be digitised and available on DVD and VoD with a comprehensive booklet in several languages.

The cast features several period racers including Australians Kev Kavanagh, the first Aussie to win a GP race, and countryman Keith Campbell.

Other racers include Geoff Duke, Libero Liberati, Dickie Dale, Albino Milani, Bill Lomas, Stanley Woods, Enrico Lorenzetti and Reg Armstrong.

The accuracy of Engaged to Death is due to the technical advice of Bruno Francisci, three times winner of the Milano-Taranto race on Gilera motorbikes.

A rare highlight of the film is footage of tests in the Moto Guzzi factory’s wind tunnel at Mandello del Lario. No other footage off the wind tunnel was ever taken.

Other features are racing at Monza, the highly demanding Milano-Taranto race, the 1956 MotoGP, the now-lost Italian Wall of Death and the reckless sidecar races on German dirt circuits.

The film was shot by Romolo Marcellini, Oscar nominee in 1961 for The Grand Olympics and featured actors Sylva Koscina and Rik Battaglia.

Sylva Koscina

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Indian sales boost Polaris revenue

Sat, 29/04/2017 - 5:00pm

Despite axing Victory Motorcycles, a bump in Indian Motorcycle sales has helped Polaris reach a better-than-expected 17% increase in sales revenue in the first quarter of 2017.

The company recorded $1,153.8 million in sales revenue, but a net loss of $2.9m partly due to the $38.6 million cost of winding down Victory Motorcycles.

Polaris Industries boss Scott Wine says despite the net loss, adjusted earnings were slightly ahead of expectations, thanks to “continued strong performance from Indian Motorcycle”.

Motorcycle segment sales were down 35% to $120.3 million.

In Australia, both Victory and Indian experience substantial sales growth, despite the road bike market being down 15.5%. Indian Motorcycle sales were up12.4% while Victory sales skyrocketed 61% as customers rushed to buy bikes before they disappeared from the market.

2017 Victory Octane now a collector’s item

In North American, Indian Motorcycle sales were up slightly while sales of motorcycles 900cc and above were down.

Polaris claims sales were up due to their new split-screen Ride Command touchscreen infotainment systems available on Indian Chieftain and Roadmaster.

During the quarter, the company added three new Indian models: the hand-painted Chieftain Elite, the Chieftain Limited bagger and the Roadmaster Classic with leather panniers and topbox.

Polaris has also announced it is closing an American factory where it makes electric golf carts and will use it as a warehouse for Indian motorcycles and accessories.

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