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2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special review

Sat, 25/02/2017 - 5:00pm

The most popular of the Harley-Davidson Touring range is the Street Glide Special and it is easy to see why with the new Milwaukee Eight engine adding to its attraction.

The FLHXS Street Glide Special ($34,995 +ORC) features the famous batwing fairing, a slammed rear end and a very aggressive stature for a bike touted as a touring machine.

For 2017, the bike gets the 107-cube (1745cc) Milwaukee Eight engine like the rest of the Touring range.

It’s more refined, has less vibration, runs cooler, has a deeper rumble and features loads more grunt.

In fact, with 152Nm of torque from just 3250 revs, you can now describe the acceleration as “snappy”. That’s saying something for a bike that weighs in at 376kg fully fuelled.

At just about any revs, you simply wind on the throttle for instant acceleration.

I recall at the launch of the new Touring frame in 2008, the Harley tech guru said sixth gear was pointless until you were riding at over 110km/h.

Now, the Milwaukee Eight (M8) engine delivers so much useable grunt you can click through to sixth gear at 80km/h and still have plenty of effective roll-on acceleration.

It’s that good.

After riding several of the M8 range now, I have found I don’t rev them as much and short-shift more.

Without losing any acceleration performance, it has made the cruise a little more relaxed and also improved the fuel economy.

Coupled with the latest updates to the suspension, the M8 tourer now cranks through the twisties at a much smarter pace than a bike this size deserves to.

It will startle many riders on smaller and more nimble bikes.

I rode it over several tight and twisty mountain passes and kept pace with many other riders on sportier machinery.

The suspension upgrades include Showa Dual-Bending Valve forks with bigger pistons for improved damping.

It makes the front end more compliant, taking away that jackhammer affect through the grips, yet retaining a sharp and light steering feel.

It’s a big and heavy touring bike, but it still has the ability to change direction in a corner without upsetting the ship.

At the back, Harley has moved from air shocks to emulsion shocks with 15-30% more preload adjustment using a single hand-adjustable knob behind the left pannier.

However, with just 54.6mm of travel, it does tend to hit the bump stops a fair bit, no matter how much I wound it up.

I rode it with and without a pillion and the back end feels a bit abrupt, especially over the bumpier roads around the Sunshine Coast.

It’s not too bad for the rider but the pillion sits right over the rear shocks and has a narrow and thin seat cushion that slopes backwards to mirror the rear fender shape.

It’s more about looks that comfort for the pillion, however the addition of an optional quick-release sissy bar does improve comfort.

The new M8 engine is claimed to run cooler on the rider’s legs, but it seems to be hotter for the pillion.

Harley advanced the ignition, dropped the rear header down from the exhaust port and moved the catalytic converter rearwards.

This makes it cooler for the rider, although in slow traffic you do get some scorching on the outside of the right leg.

But the pillion’s right leg cops a lot of the hot air that has been moved backwards.

For 2017, it comes with the Boom! Box 6.5GT audio system as standard. It is loud and clear and easier to hear as the mechanical noise of the engine and transmission has been reduced.

The exhaust also sounds quieter at cruising revs, but under load it develops a beautiful deep trombone baritone.

The audio system includes a GPS with all functions able to be conveniently controlled via toggle switches on the left and right handlebars.

For Touring solo in aggressive style with the occasional short stint two-up, the Street Glide Special is the ultimate machine.

2017 Harley-Davidson FLHXS Street Glide Special
  • Price: $34,995 +ORC
  • Warranty: 24 months, unlimited mileage
  • Service: 1600/8000km
  • Engine: Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 107, eight-valve, V-twin
  • Torque: 152Nm (112ft-lb) @ 3250rpm
  • Power: N/A
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive
  • Length 2425 mm (95.4 in.)
  • Overall Width 960 mm (37.8 in.)
  • Overall Height 1335 mm (52.6 in.)
  • Seat Height (unladen) 685 mm (27 in.)
  • Clearance 125mm (4.9 in.)
  • Lean angle: 31° (right), 29° (left)
  • Wet weight: 376kg (829lb)
  • Suspension: Show forks, twin rear shocks
  • Brakes: 300mm twin discs, 4-piston callipers, single 300mm disc (rear), with ABS
  • Fuel: 22.7-litre tank, 5.2L/100km

The post 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special review appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber a styling hit

Sat, 25/02/2017 - 6:00am

There is no doubt the new 1200cc Triumph Bonneville Bobber is an elegant styling hit, but does its handling and performance live up to the hype?

Michael Oliver of Oliver’s Motorcycles, the top Triumph dealer in Queensland, says there is a lot of interest in the bike, so he asked us to take his demo model for a test. He is also hosting a customer Bobber launch on Wednesday, March 1, at 6.30-8pm at their Moorooka store.

The Bobber is a bold and classic design with a floating solo “tractor” seat, wire wheels, rubber gaiters, bar-end mirrors, authentic battery box, a rear hub that looks like an old drum brake and minimalist lines. However, there is nothing minimalist about its features.

It comes with most of the electronics and classy styling of its Bonneville brothers.

So it is little surprise that at $18,000 it actually costs more than the T120 and T120 Black ($1700), but less than Thruxton ($18,700) and Thruxton R ($20,990).

Classic styling

The new Bonnevilles have been a popular and critical hit since being released and this model has attracted a lot of attention for its classic bobber style.

To create the clean hardtail look, Triumph developed a new rear tubular steel frame and “cage” swingarm with paddock stand bobbin mounts and hidden monoshock, rather than classic Bonneville twin shocks.

The shock is almost horizontal and is the first clue that this bike is going to perform and handle differently to its brothers.

Another clue is that the bike has a different fuel map and split airbox with separate filters for intake and exhaust, providing more midrange performance.

Compared with the T120, the Bobber has 3kW less power at 56kW, but 1Nm more torque at 4000 revs instead of 3100rpm.

But before we experience its performance, we spend a long time just lusting over the bike.

The attention to styling detail is stunning. We love some of the little Triumph emblems on various parts, the brushed aluminium engine covers, the high-gloss black frame, the deep paint of the plum-coloured tank (they call it Morello Red), the deep gloss black rear fender, and the elegant touches of bronze and brass here and there, including the Triumph name plate on the rear of the tractor solo seat and even in the single-pod instruments.

That single pod with an analogue speedo may look classic and minimalist, but it includes an LCD screen with a host of valuable information: odometer, gear position indicator, fuel gauge, range to empty indication, service indicator, clock, two trip meters, average and current fuel consumption display, engine mode display and traction control status display, all controlled by a handlebar mounted scroll button.

The pod can also be quickly adjusted for angle via a handy latch at the back. It helps avoid sun reflection on the dial. We leave it in the upright position and it works just fine.

The Bobber might only have one seat, but it certainly doesn’t lack for features.

And even the seat is adjustable a few inches forward and back for comfort. We leave it in the middle position simply because it is difficult to access the bolts underneath to adjust it. A handy latch like on the instrument pod would have been better although most riders will find the right position and never again adjust it.

As it is, the low 690mm seat provides a riding position that feels comfortable and relaxed for my 183cm frame, although my knees do feel like they are sitting up a little high.

Move the seat further back and the drag bars might be a bit of a reach. Further forward and it could feel too cramped.

Firing it up

Before firing it up, we fumble with flicking up the sturdy and stubby side stand. It sits in front of the foot controls so your foot annoyingly gets caught up with the gearshift and foot peg.

The new Bonnevilles now feature the ignition key on the triple clamp, but in traditional cruiser style, the Bobber’s immobiliser key is located on the right side of the engine, not on the left of the forks like old Bonnies.

We switch it on and fire it up with the single handy ignition/kill switch, click it into gear and notice a slightly clunkier noise in the transmission, thanks to the slightly longer linkage to the mid-control shifter.

Yet gears change with precision, neutral is easy to locate and there are no false neutrals.

Commuters will love the ultra-light torque-assisted cable clutch; easily the lightest clutch we’ve ever used.

As we loop out of Oliver’s parking area, we notice the small turning circle as the drag bars mash your fingers on the tank at full lock.

However, around town the Bobber feels compact and light. Despite its 228kg dry weight, it’s easy to manoeuvre and filter through traffic.

The fly-by-wire throttle and fuel injection are very smooth at these speeds and you can get on and off the throttle without any jerking.

However, at constant throttle doing 50-60km/h there is a fair amount of surge and lurch. Triumph claims this will disappear as the engine breaks in. It should be noted the test bike has only 300km on the odo when I pick it up.

I instantly fell in love with the new liquid-cooled 1200cc engine when we rode the T120. It’s a lusty and flexible unit with a great exhaust note.

The Bobber has even more urge down low and a deeper bass note from the low-slung, brushed-stainless-steel twin, slash-cut exhausts.

They look stubby and classy and the bulky catalytic convertor is discreetly hidden underneath.

The twin pipes have an absolutely glorious sound when under engine load but they are gentlemanly quiet when cruising along the highway.

Like the other new liquid-cooled Bonnevilles, the engine has a 270 degree firing interval, rather than the lumpy 360 degrees of the air-cooled models. That makes it smoother with a more linear midrange power delivery.

The bar-end mirrors stick out a long way and give perfect rearward vision that is not blurred by the engine at any speed.

Rev it out in first and before you can blink you will hit the 6900rpm redline at around 80km/h.

You can short-shift the gears and ride the midrange torque wave for maximum effect. Revving it doesn’t do much more because of the short rev limiter.

Cruising and carving

On the highway, it will cruise efficiently at 2700 revs at 100km/h in sixth gear.

However, because it doesn’t start to pull until 3000 revs, you will need to drop back to fifth for prompt overtaking duties.

Between 3000 and the redline, the Bobber delivers delicious linear power.

As it was still in run-in phases, I gave it a mixture of redline sprints, mountain loads and low-rev cruising for the next couple of hundred kilometres.

I was amazed that at the end of my ride the average fuel consumption readout was 3.9L/100km after having reset it before heading off.

That’s a lean burn! And just as well as the peanut tank is only 9.1 litres.

I had forgotten how small it was and nearly ran out of fuel because the fuel gauge stayed at a full readout for a long time, then dramatically dropped and the low fuel light came on.

Triumph claims the fuel gauge can sometimes take a while to “learn” how to properly gauge fuel levels. You will certainly need to keep your eye on your range, though.

Not that you will want to take long trips on the bike. The seat is thin and overly contoured, so it becomes a little uncomfortable after about an hour, although I have to admit I have a bony backside.

Heading into the mountains, the mix of spirited midrange and surprisingly light steering for the 19-inch steep-raked front wheel entices you to twist the throttle.

It certainly feels like it wants to play in the twisties, but then the mid-mount controls quickly touch down on corners and momentarily limit your fun.

You quickly have to correct your lines to make wide arcs like a cruiser. It’s unfortunate as the handling, steering and suspension feel like they are up to much more sportier riding.

The minimal lean angle is a result of a lowered bike and the mid-mount controls in the middle of the wheelbase. Perhaps forward controls would provide more clearance.

Still, I chuck it into corners over Mt Glorious, grind the pegs and find it enormously entertaining.

The brakes are strong with plenty of initial bite, but front lever is heavy so you need to squeeze hard.

Meanwhile, the rear brake has more effect because of the bike’s low centre of gravity and you can easily activate the ABS.

Consequently, you have to carefully balance a hard pull on the front brake with gentle application of the rear brake. If you get it right, you can brake deep into corners.

Then you arc wide through the bend and hit the gas hard and early to tap that hefty midrange pick-up.

Capable handling

You can also be confident that mid corner bumps won’t unsettle the rig, either.

The short frame is taught and rigid and the non-adjustable KYB suspension is well up to the task.

In fact, the conventional telescopic forks are about the best I have experienced. For my 75kg, they need no tweaking.

They are compliant with no jackhammering through the bars. It steers with high-speed stability yet you can easily adjust your lines in the middle of a corner with confidence.

The near-horizontal rear shock has almost no sag load, so you extract full use of the shortened spring.

The result is that it is compliant in the initial part of the stroke, but it can quickly run out of travel and hit the bump stops.

Still, it’s quite a comfortable yet sporty ride. Much better than expected.

It sits on 19-inch Avon Cobra AV71 rubber up front for reduced mass and high-speed manoeuvrability while the rear is a 16-inch 150mm-section AV72 radial tyre with cobra tread pattern.

They feel grippy, but you can’t really test out the lateral grip because of the limited lean angles.

More options?

Several readers have asked what is happening with a 900cc or 1200cc replacement for the American and Speedmaster cruisers.

We suspect Triumph will release a second tractor seat as an option on the Bobber and that a two-seat version may be coming by the end of the year.

As yet there is no second seat option, but Triumph has more than 150 accessories available for the Bobber, including high ‘ape hanger’ bars, bar-end “peep” mirrors, comfort seat in a ribbed and quilted version, a heated grip kit and cruise control.

The British manufacturer is also partnering with FOX for a dual-branded adjustable rear shock and with Vance and Hines for exhausts with machined aluminium end caps which are adjustable to change the profile.

I loved every minute on the Bobber after I worked out it had to be cornered like a cruiser and I would gladly add one to my Triumph collection.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber
  • Price: $18,000 (+orc)
  • Engine: 1200cc liquid-cooled, 8-valve, SOHC, 270° crank angle parallel twin
  • Bore x stroke: 97.6 x 80mm
  • Compression: 10:1
  • Power: 56.6kW @ 6100rpm
  • Torque: 106Nm @ 4000rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed, Wet, multi-plate assist clutch, chain drive
  • Frame: Tubular steel cradle, twin-sided swingarm
  • Wheels: 32-spoke, 18 x 2.5in; 16 x 3.5in
  • Tyres: 100/90-19; 150/80 R16
  • Suspension: KYB 41mm forks, 90mm travel; KYB monoshock with linkage, 76.9mm travel
  • Brakes: 310mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating caliper; 255mm disc, Nissin single piston floating caliper, ABS
  • Width: 800mm
  • Height: 1025mm
  • Seat: 690mm
  • Wheelbase: 1510mm
  • Rake: 25.8º
  • Trail: 87.9 mm
  • Dry weight: 228kg
  • Fuel: 9.1 litre tank; 3.9L/100km (tested)
  • Colours: Ironstone, with a matt finish (grey), Morello Red, Competition Green and Frozen Silver, and Jet Black.

The post Triumph Bonneville Bobber a styling hit appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Indian Scout Franklin Edition comes fourth

Fri, 24/02/2017 - 5:17pm

Indian Motorcycle Australia is continuing with its release of limited-edition Scouts with the fourth model, the Scout Franklin Edition.

It’s named after Indian Motorcycle designer, Charles B. Franklin.

He not only designed the original 1920 Scout, original 1922 Chief and the 1928 101 Scout, but was also a motorcycle racer of some note. He was part of the factory team that won the first three places in the 19121 Isle of Man TT. Charles came second.

The Scout Franklin Edition costs $21,495 ride away which is $500 more than the standard model. Indian says it has more than $4000 in extras, including special paint, decals and gold pin stripes, plus black spoke rims and a leather spring tractor seat.

The Franklin Edition follows the sales success of its first three custom models, the Scout LE Mk I, Mk II and Mk III. Only 10 of each of those were built.

Indian Motorcycle Australia country manager Peter Harvey says the first LE models sold before they hit the dealers’ floors.

“There were people waiting for them because they had seen it on display in the dealerships and said as soon as it is available we’ll have it,” he says.

Indian isn’t saying how many have been produced this time, but they are also bound to go quickly.

The first limited-edition model was the Scout LE with special two-tone paint, painted Indian tank logo, tan leather solo seat and wire wheels at $100 extra for $3000 worth of added features.

The second was the LE Mk II was inspired by a 1935 Sport Scout. It had custom gold pinstripe detailing with accompanying warbonnet on the tank and added a set of genuine black wire wheels and custom tractor style springer seat with distressed black leather finish. It cost $21,500 ride away but more than $4000 in added value.

The third limited-edition Scout has heritage colour paintwork, an Indian script decal on the tank, black wire wheels and a black 1920s Solo Saddle. It cost an extra $700 and had more than  $4000 in added value.

Third Indian Scout limited edition model

Peter told us after the second custom there could be more on the way and he was right. We don’t expect they will stop anytime soon!

Meanwhile, Indian is no longer importing the smaller-capacity Scout Sixty.

Which is your favourite custom Scout, Mk I, Mk II, Mk III or the Franklin?

The post Indian Scout Franklin Edition comes fourth appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Saint denim opens first store

Fri, 24/02/2017 - 5:00pm

Melbourne denim riding gear company Saint, which has developed a six-second single-layer denim, has now opened a flagship store in Melbourne.

Saint began as an online store 18 months ago and has now opened a store at 154 Johnston St, Fitzroy. 

Their “Unbreakable” range of riding jeans, jackets and gloves is made from a special blend of 34% cotton and 66% Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWP) that now meets CE standards for six seconds of abrasion resistance or the equivalent of up to 75m of sliding.

We recently tested their top-of-the-line jeans and were very impressed. Read out review here.

Saint was started by Aidan Clarke who co-founded sports apparel company 2XU and clothes designer Mike Elliott.

“Since it’s inception Saint has always has always been a denim brand that needs to be worn,” says Mike.

“Jeans and jackets that will protect you if things go random and also outlast any denim you have ever owned. A bricks and mortar space is about experiencing everything Saint.”

The flagship store showcases the entire Unbreakable collection, including the Saint x Bromley range and the new ‘Unbreakable 6’ jeans.

Embracing the original Victorian features of the building, the new store boasts high ceilings, vintage Harley-Davidsons and the odd feature wall, playing homage to the previous owners who used to run a wallpaper shop.

Over the next few months, the team plan on opening a bar out the back to create a multipurpose space, where they can hold regular events such as motorcycle workshops and clothing launches.

The post Saint denim opens first store appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Winter riding on the Sunshine Coast

Fri, 24/02/2017 - 12:00pm

If you’re looking for a bit of sunshine this winter, head north to the Sunshine Coast which has some of the best riding roads in Queensland.

Many Brisbane riders head up to the Sunshine Coast for a day ride, but by the time they arrive and have lunch, it’s time to head home.

By the way, we highly recommend eating at motorcycle friendly Rick’s Garage or Kenilworth Hotel, although you are not short for great eateries at this tourist mecca.

Ricks Garage is motorcycle friendly

However, we suggest staying a night or two in winter when temperatures are in their 20s from 8am and accommodation rates are often less than half the high season rates.

Central location

We chose to stay at the Ramada Marcela Beach Resort which is a redevelopment of the old Surf Air where we stayed as honeymooners some three decades ago.

It’s now mushroomed from one to three modern towers with a bistro downstairs, massive pool, day spa, undercover secure motorcycle parking and easy beach access.

It’s also right opposite the Sunshine Coast Airport, so interstate riders can easily fly in, hire a bike and base themselves here at a central point on the coast for day loops to the south, west and north.

Marcoola Beach is away from the heavily trafficked tourist areas with instant access to the looping, meandering roads into the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Ramada manager Luke Saunder says the location is great for riders as it’s central.

“It’s away from the hustle and bustle, it’s right opposite the airport and there is a bistro on site and restaurants across the road,” he says.

And winter rates are very accommodating. For example, a single hotel room is about $115 a night.

It’s even cheaper if you ride with friends. A nicely appointed three-bedroom apartment would cost $500 a night through the summer high season, but it’s only $199 a night if staying two nights or more.

While we are familiar with the roads south of the Maroochy River and west to the Blackall and Conondale ranges, we are not as familiar with the Sunshine Coast roads to the north.

So we recruit Motorbike Writer Facebook followers Kristian Steenstrup on a Moto Guzzi Griso and Tina Tolley on a Continental GT as our local tour guides.

Tina and Kristian at the Ramada Winter riding on the Sunshine Coast

“We mostly look for the “Marilyn Monroe of roads” – smooth, lots of curves and not too skinny,” Kristian says.

“Mostly they are 80km/h roads which suits our little bikes better.”

However, there are also plenty of adventure roads around from the gravel forest trails in the Conondale and Mapleton forests to the sand and clay of the Cooloola forest and Noosa North Shore beaches.

Conondale forest Smooth riding

But for this ride, the roads are mainly smooth tar.

We start with breakfast at the Guru Life cafe on Petrie Creek Rd which is a popular cafe destination for riders for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  An army-painted chopper in front of the roasting machine is a good guide to its clientele.

Guru Life cafe

We then wind our way over a couple of ridges along the Yandina Bli Bli Rd and head north through North Arm to Eumundi.

The markets are heaving with tourists when we arrive, so we skirt town and take the Eumundi Range Rd which squiggles north, opening up stunning views to the western ranges.

Eumundi views

It eventually delivers us into Cooroy, one of many thriving tourist towns with seemingly more cafes and craft shops than houses.

For here, take the Mary River Rd and Black Mountain Range Rd so you criss-cross the Bruce Highway and end up in Pomona; an even smaller town with an even higher proportion of trendy little cafes.

It’s then a short trot to the smaller Cooran with two trendy cafes and little else.

Here you should look for the first turn after crossing the railway line. It’s called James St and has a sign declaring “To Coles Creek Rd”. It’s another challenging range road with smooth tar and plenty of twists and turns.

The road eventually empties out into the fertile Mary Valley where we take up the Old Bruce Highway and Mary Valley Rd to Gympie.

Continue through town toward Tin Can Bay where you can venture west along the road to Widgee or north on Sunday Creek Rd.

Heading southbound

Instead, we head south on Cedar Pocket Rd which winds through a pleasant valley and crosses several creeks and farm dams.

Cedar Pocket Rd

Although there are some rough patches and a short section of single lane with dirt verges, it’s worth it for the short twisty ride over the range on smooth and winding asphalt.

Drop into Kin Kin for lunch. There’s a pub, a couple of houses and the Kin Kin General Store which has great coffee and food all made with local produce.

Kin Kin General Store

The return journey to Marcoola Beach takes us on most of the same roads.

If you stay overnight or a couple of nights, you can explore more of the region’s best roads.

Great Sunshine Coast roads

They are so good one promoter last year planned to stage a Sunshine Coast International TT in the Blackall Range. Sadly, the venture fell over.

The roads here can be challenging and exciting like Postmans Track which is so steep that when they surfaced it with tar, they poured it straight over the lateral erosion berms. They’re great for getting some air on the ascent, but be careful on the descent as you could go over the handlebars.

Some of the roads simply offer gob-smacking vistas such as Bald Knob Rd with its commanding views of the Glasshouse Mountains.

None of the roads is straight, except for the highways that slice through the region. Stay off them and you will be counter-steering all day long.

A tour through this region should include the following must-do roads not already mentioned in our travelogue: Palmwoods Mapleton Rd, Bald Knob Rd, Obi Obi Rd, Postmans Track, Reesville Rd, Mountain View Rd, Eastern Mary River Rd, Dulong Rd, Hunchy-Razorback Rd, Tunnel Ridge Rd, Kiel Mountain Rd, Paynters Creek Rd, Kenilworth Skyring Rd and Kenilworth Brooloo Rd.

Mapleton Rd

The post Winter riding on the Sunshine Coast appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

SlimBuds bike earphones add comfort

Fri, 24/02/2017 - 6:00am

New SlimBuds motorcycle earphones are claimed to be the most comfortable and secure with an app that dampens wind noise, but highlights important sounds for safety.

Mechanical engineer Alperen Topay came up with the idea of slim-fitting earphones while on his daily motorcycle commute to work as an R&D engineer at one of Europe’s largest TV and home appliance manufacturers.

So he started the company EAOS in Philadelphia two years ago with other motorcycle riders to develop the product.

They will launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on March 15, aiming to raise just $30,000 to start production. (We will provide a link when it goes live.)

EAOS financial manager and fellow rider Cihan Bilgin says they are confident of raising the required capital within hours of launching.

“We believe this product will change the audio game for riders,” Cihan says.

“We use a different approach than traditional active noise-cancellation technology. Our earbuds feature passive noise isolation thus reducing wind noise and excessive engine noise making the ride more comfortable and less tiring.

“This allows for an uninterrupted listening experience.

“We complement this experience by providing smart software that filters the environment, and plays back important sounds directly into the earbuds.”

SlimBuds test

Cihan has offered Motorbike Writer a set of the earphones for beta testing, so we will report back soon on how they work.

We have used several different earphones with both active and passive noise cancelling and found all of them, including personally moulded units, become quite uncomfortable after several hours.

It appears these are made of a very light and soft material, yet they claim they will not become dislodged inside your helmet like many over-the-counter earphones.

They come with three different sizes of ear bud tips for a comfortable and firm fit.

SlimBuds feature a chin microphone that joins the cables and sits on your chin. It looks like it could tickle or become annoying.

They claim it makes the audio very clear when conducting a phone call. you can also use it for an intercom conversation with your pillion or another rider via the accompanying smartphone app.

Sound quality is claimed to be very good with one of the smallest and powerful sound drivers available, delivering deep bass and clear treble.

SlimBuds controls

SlimBuds have a glove-friendly controller on the end of the cable.

It works with iPhone and Android and allows you to skip tracks, adjust volume, play/pause your music and answer calls.

They say it sits below your jacket for easy access, but it would be difficult to access if you keep your phone inside your jacket.

However, SlimBuds will also come with an optional wireless remote which can be conveniently placed on the handlebars.

The post SlimBuds bike earphones add comfort appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Motorcycle and scooter riders urged to ride to work

Thu, 23/02/2017 - 4:00pm

Queensland riders are being urged to ride to work next Wednesday (March 1, 2017) in an effort to re-establish the annual Ride to Work Day and raise awareness among motorists of motorcycles and scooters.

Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland president Chris Mearns says riders are “often overlooked or ignored” when it comes to seeking solutions to transport issues.

“For every motorcycle or scooter that is used instead of a car there is a space saving on the road and a fuel use reduction of approximately 50% which results in a considerable positive outcome for the issues of congestion and pollution,” he says.

He hopes that message will be delivered to the authorities by establishing Ride to Work Day as a major event in coming years.

Several other states have Ride to Work days and the MRAQ used to organise an event more than a decade ago. Now Chris wants to resurrect the event.

MRAQ president Chris Mearns

“As this is the first year we are attempting this, we are only going with a very soft start with the intention to get it bigger and better in coming years,” he says.

“Accordingly, we are only promoting it through social media with the intention for this year that it be just an awakening.”

Chris says now is a good time to kickstart Ride to Work Day as Queensland recently celebrated the second anniversary of the introduction of lane filtering.

He says the the MRAQ was “heavily involved” in having the welcome legislation introduced.

“So there is even more benefit now to making a motorcycle or scooter the means of transport to work due to our ability to move through road congestion more swiftly,” he says.

Ride to Work challenge to all riders

So, next Wednesday, we want to see as many riders as possible riding into work on their motorcycle or scooter.

We often complain motorists don’t see us or leave a gap for filtering … well now is a chance to make our numbers known.

It might be difficult because of forecasts for rain next week, but Motorbike Writer challenges you all to suit up and ride with pride!

Who plans to ride to work next Wednesday? Please share this article with your friends and encourage them to join you.

The post Motorcycle and scooter riders urged to ride to work appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Ducati expands Asian market presence

Thu, 23/02/2017 - 12:00pm

Ducati has opened its largest showroom in Indonesia and announced plans to expand production at its Thai factory for the Asian market.

The Asian market expansion comes just days after the Italian company quashed rumours of building small-capacity motorcycles in India.

The previous biggest Ducati showroom was opened in New Delhi last year, but now it has been eclipsed by a 3000 square metre Ducati Flagship Store in Jakarta.

Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali visited the store for its official opening. It was the first time he had visited the country since it began importing there 15 years ago.

Claudio visits the largest Ducati showroom in the world in Jakarta

Meanwhile, Ducati has announced it will increase production in its Thai factory by 15% this year.

The Ducati factory 150km south of Bangkok in the industrial district of Rayong began producing Ducati Monsters in 2011 for the Asian market. Now it builds almost the entire Ducati range, but for the Asian market only.

Although the Scrambler is also assembled there for several markets outside Asia including Australia.

Claudio last week visited Thailand where the government’s Board of Investment (BOI) awarded him an Honorary Investor Advisor position on the board.

Claudio receives honour

The appointment came during a meeting in Bangkok with Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-Cha.

“Ducati’s vision to build a factory here in Thailand has been strategic to our plans for global growth and the BOI’s support has been invaluable,” Claudio said.

“I am very proud to receive the position of Honorary Investment Advisor here at the Thai BOI and equally proud of the quality and efficiency achieved in our Ducati Motor Thailand facility.

“As part of the Volkswagen-Audi Group, Ducati is committed to delivering the same excellent ownership experience in Asia as we do throughout the world.”

While it currently only builds the bikes for the Asian market, there is little to stop them exporting the bikes to other countries or, at least, major components such as engines, to their Borgo Panigale factory.

Ducati’s New Delhi shworoom is the second largest in the world

Several other European manufacturers as well as Harley-Davidson are now building, or at least assembling, bikes in Asia for the world market. The latest believed to be scouting for Indian locations to start assembly is Indian Motorcycle.

Some riders may be concerned with the quality control of bikes made in South-East Asia or the subcontinent, but it has not affected brands such as Harley and Triumph. Instead, it has made them more competitive on price.

However, Ducati fans reacted angrily to recent rumours that their bikes could be made anywhere but Italy.

So Ducati quickly quashed the rumours of an Indian partnership similar to that of BMW and Indian company TVS which builds the BMW G 310 R and GS models.

For the moment, it appears the Thai plant expansion is more likely to keep pace with the phenomenal growth in sales in countries such as India which registered an 18% rise in sales in 2016.

Asia (excluding Japan and Australia) account for about 11% of Ducati’s global sales.

The post Ducati expands Asian market presence appeared first on Motorbike Writer.

Do motorcycles corner better than cars?

Thu, 23/02/2017 - 6:00am

Riders are often held up in corners by drivers, yet on a racetrack a car can corner at a much higher speed than a race bike.

Why is it so?

First, let’s look at the physics.

We recently investigated how a car can brake faster than a motorcycle because it has four tyre contact patches versus two, a lower centre of gravity and higher aerodynamic downforces.

READ ABOUT BRAKING COMPARISONS

Corner speed

These same reasons also provide a car with more lateral grip so they can maintain higher cornering speeds.

So over a course with a series of corners, a car can be faster than a motorcycle.

For example, Jorge Lorenzo scored pole with his Yamaha at Phillip Island in 2013 with a lap time of 1:27.899 yet the outright Island lap record belongs to Simon Wills in a Reynard 94D at a massive 3.7 seconds faster.

Jeromy Moore

Again we contacted Jeromy Moore — former Craig Lowndes race engineer and now with the Porsche world endurance champions — for a scientific explanation.

“A car should have more lateral acceleration potential due to more rubber,” he says.

“This is a big generalisation of course and you can find exceptions where, for example, a superbike can corner better than a family wagon.

“Also on tight roads, a bike is a smaller percentage of the road so it can manoeuvre through the same sequence of bends faster as the bike doesn’t need to do as tight a corner radius so the difference is reduced.”

Skill and thrill

It will also depend on the skill and commitment of a rider versus a driver.

While we hate to generalise and pigeonhole, we believe the following observations to be largely true.

As a proportion, more riders are likely to seek advanced training and practise their skills than a driver.

Riders are also more likely to ride for the thrill and concentrate on the task than a driver.

A Sunday driver with a carload of passengers has a totally different objective to a Sunday solo rider.

Drivers are more likely to be distracted by passengers, music and scenery. They will also drive at a smoother rate over a twisty course so they don’t make their passengers carsick.

So most riders will be faster through a series of bends than most drivers. Riders will brake later and harder going into a corner and accelerate earlier and harder coming out.

But if you plan to overtake a committed and talented driver in a car with all the modern handling, braking and traction control technology, think again.

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Are flying motorcycles the future?

Wed, 22/02/2017 - 5:00pm

BMW recently released a life-size flying motorcycle concept and now a Russian company has launched a drone “motorcycle”.

The BMW Hover Ride is just a model and the company says it doesn’t fly and they have no plans for a flying motorcycle.

However, we reckon BMW must be considering a flying motorcycle. After all, they already have developed a self-balancing motorcycle project, so they are obviously looking far into the future.

BMW Hover Ride

Meanwhile, the Russian Hoversurf Scorpion-3 does fly with four propellors. But they don’t call it a motorcycle.

They describe it as a single-seat aircraft or human-carrying drone with a motorcycle seat.

The next step in their production is a crowdfunding campaign (or “crowdfinding” as it says on their website).

It’s not the first flying “motorcycle”, though.

Aero-X hovering “bike”

Back in 2014, Californian company Aerofex began testing its Aero-X Hoverbike, announcing they would have the vehicle available for sale in 2017, costing more than $90,000.

The original design has been changed slightly so it is less like a motorcycle and more like a two-seater car and there is no word on when it will be available for sale.

Will the future be made up of flying motorcycles? It would certainly save on tyres!

Back in 1985, Back to the Future predicted flying passenger vehicles and a hoverboard for the year 2015.

Well, we now have “hoverboards” available, so the future may be closer than you think.

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Octane motorcycle rider gear launches

Wed, 22/02/2017 - 2:42pm

Octane motorcycle clothing has launched in Australia with jackets, pants and gloves made to high safety and quality standards, but at reasonable prices.

The gear will be offered through the new Motorbike Writer online shop. Click here to BUY NOW!

Octane motorcycle gear importers are veteran New Zealand motorcycle riders who know the demands on clothing of weather extremes.

Spokesman Tim Forster says rider gear has to offer protection, withstand extremes of heat and cold, be waterproof, flexible, lightweight and, above all, tough.

Octane Anchor jacket

“We searched for a long time trying to find a European-made brand,” he says.

“However, we found that many top-priced European rider brands are actually made in South East Asia or the Subcontinent,” he says.

“So we decided why pay another middle man just to have their name on the side when a lot of the clothing is made in the same factories anyway?

“We met Ali and his father who manufacture many top brands at Intermot (Cologne motor show) back in 2013.

“We gave them a different brief than almost all of the other companies they supply. We didn’t want clothing manufactured to a price, we told them to make their best gear than give us a price.”

Octane Street pants

By cutting out the middle man, Octane gear cuts prices, not quality.

“So you get all the quality fabrics, waterproof YKK zips, CE-approved armour, extra pockets, venting and other features top-end quality riding gear should have,” Tim says.

For example, the fabric used in their textile products is 600D Reissa polyester Ballistic:

  • 600D refers to the density of fibres with high numbers indicating strong abrasion resistance;
  • Reissa is a three-layer microporous membrane with a polyurethane coating and different-sized pores so it is waterproof, windproof and breathable; and
  • Ballistic means it has high resistance to tearing.

Octane motorcycle gear consists of men’s textile three-quarter-length jackets (Jaguar $265, Anchor $309), cowhide leather retro jackets ($459), men’s textile pants ($215) and short and long leather gloves ($105).

There is bound to be a size to fit you as they come in a wide range of sizes from small right up to six XL in their textile jackets and pants.

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Indian launches Roadmaster Classic

Wed, 22/02/2017 - 7:00am

The first of three new models to be released by Indian Motorcycle is the new Roadmaster Classic with brown leather seat, panniers and top box.

It will be available in Australia from April and will feature a ride away price of $38,995 for the black colour option and $39,995 for the two-tone options of Willow Green and Cream, or Indian Red and Cream.

The standard Roadmaster costs $39,995, ride away.

The Roadmaster Classic is expected to be followed by a Chieftain Elite and a Chieftain Limited in the next few weeks.

There is speculation that they will include a 19-inch front wheel, short fender and possibly a new full fairing to attract younger buyers who think Indian is an “old man’s bike”.

The Indian Motorcycle online forum is speculating that the new Chieftain models will look something like this photo of the Redeemer custom.

The Redeemer – is it the next Chieftain Elite

The forum also leaked photos of the new Roadmaster Classic before it was announced.

The first photo they posted was a speculative shot showing a bike with wire wheels. Unfortunately, the new model retains mag wheels which don’t quite match the classic look, but are certainly easier to clean.

Indian says the new Roadmaster Classic features a quick-release leather “trunk” big enough to hold two full-face helmets.

It comes with all the standard features on the Roadmaster hard-bagger, including keyless ignition with proximity fob, throttle-by-wire cruise control, heated grips and seats, Pathfinder LED headlamps, power adjustable windscreen, adjustable passenger floorboards, tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), anti-lock brakes (ABS), 100-watt premium audio system, and the new 7-inch Ride Command infotainment system.

Indian Motorcycle Country Manager Peter Harvey says the Roadmaster Classic is a bike their customers have been asking for.

He’s probably right. We’ve seen several customers’ bikes which have extra leather accessories – both genjuine and handmade – fitted to their bikes.

“The Indian Roadmaster has been synonymous with comfort for touring riders since its introduction in the 1950s,” he says.

“The addition of the new leather-wrapped Roadmaster Classic gives touring riders another great option that delivers a powerful and iconic experience.”

Riders can customise the Roadmaster Classic with a wealth of additional leather and chrome accessories, including passenger armrests, top box mat, touring or flare windscreens, lower fairings, leather extended reach seat and Infinite Highway Pegs.

Roadmaster Classic can be upgraded with an integrated garage door opener or Indian Motorcycle’s Premium Touring Console.

You can also go crazy with extra leather such as grips, lever, highway bar and floorboard wraps, tank pouch, rear highway bar bag, mud flaps and saddlebag fringe.

Interestingly, the official photos show the leather-bound Roadmaster Classic in Monument Valley, scene of many a cowboy and Indian movie!

All Chief, Roadmaster and Springfield models are still be powered by the same 111-cube Thunder Stroke engine. There is only rumour so far of a bigger engine.

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First Aussie Motorcycle Friendly Region

Wed, 22/02/2017 - 6:00am

Australia’s first Motorcycle Friendly Region will be launched in Avon Valley, Western Australia, in April as the concept starts to gather pace around the country.

The first Motorcycle Friendly Town was Bicheno in Tasmania, followed by Texas, SEQ, and last December Wauchope on the Oxley Highway joined the welcoming trend.

Crows Nest in Queensland declares itself motorcycle friendly on March 5 with an official launch and nearby South Burnett Regional Council, which includes the Bunya Mountains, is planning to become the first Motorcycle Friendly Shire.

Avon Valley Motorcycle Friendly Region

Meanwhile, Motorcycle Riders Association of WA president David Wright says they have have been working with a group in the Avon Valley, northwest of Perth, for a couple of years to establish a Motorcycle Friendly Region.

“With some hard work from the Avon Valley Local councils, we’ve have come up with the Avon Valley Motorcycle Friendly Region,” he says.

The official launch will be held at the annual York Motorcycle Festival on April 23, 2017.

York Motorcycle Festival

“The seven councils involved in this great initiative are the Shires of York, Toodyay, Northam, Chittering, Beverley, Goomalling and Victoria Plains,” David says.

“They have produced a pocket-sized map of all the great motorcycle routes in the region along with a list of motorcycle friendly businesses, cafes, hotels etc.

“There is also a rider safety element with rider safety tips on display boards and visor cleaning stations at the local businesses along with road maintenance upgrade to all motorcycle routes in the region,” David says.

WA Motorcycle Safety Week

The launch coincides with the annual WA Motorcycle Safety Week from April 23 – 29.

“This year we will be holding a professional rider demonstration highlighting the skills of counter steering and emergency braking with the opportunity to test your skills,” David says.

“We are also hosting a basic motorcycle first-aid course concentrating on helmet removal and blood loss control run by professional paramedics.”

The annual Ride Your Motorbike To Work Day will be on Wednesday April 26 and the week concludes with a free motorcycle skills course on April 29.

“This involves classroom instruction on hazard perception, reading the road, reading other road users, counter steering, emergency braking and defensive riding,” David says.

“There will be professional training on a closed carpark to practise counter steering and emergency braking and general riding skills.

“We will also include a basic motorcycle first aid course concentrating on helmet removal and blood loss control run by professional paramedics as part of the days seven-hour course.”

The activities are supported by from the WA Road Safety Commission.

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Councils not required to address potholes

Tue, 21/02/2017 - 5:00pm

An inquest into the death of a motorcyclist who hit a pothole on a new bridge has issued no findings of fault, nor made recommendations for councils to promptly fix road defects.

James Hughes, 50, died when his Ducati 900S hit a massive pothole at the Oallen Ford Bridge near Goulburn in NSW on October 4, 2015. His bike veered and struck a railing, and he fell five metres to his death on the river bank below.

His partner Melissa Pearce says the inquest will not bring back her beloved partner, but she did expect some recommendations about the onus for councils to quickly address road problems.

Disappointing outcome

“I’m pretty disappointed,” she says.

“Goulburn has made a lot of changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but I was hoping for more recommendations of widespread changes so other councils can learn form it.

“The biggest tragedy is if the same thing happened to another rider in another area.”

Melissa plans to write to the Ministers for local councils and roads to commit to systemic changes to be made.

James and Melissa

The inquest was held at Goulburn court house before Deputy State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan last year and the findings were released today (February 21, 2017).

It simply found that James died at the scene from his injuries after hitting the pothole.

While making no recommendations of changes to the reporting of dangerous road damage by councils, the Coroner’s report does note that the Goulburn Mulwaree Council accepted it had errors in its system for recording complaints about roads and its system for prioritising maintenance.

Systemic changes

Council has since made several changes to its reporting system and internal structure to ensure potholes and other road damage are given a higher priority.

The bridge was opened on September 10, 2015, and an inspector first highlighted issues to the approaches only five days later.

Repairs were done the next day, but it was noted they would not hold.

There followed a bizarre sequence of reports by residents of dangerous potholes on the new bridge and key council staff being on leave and therefore not able to follow through with repairs.

Council acknowledged it had failed to identify the dangers or delegate work.

“This demonstrates a systemic breakdown in Council’s communication system and the Council’s higher duty delegating system,” the Coroner’s report says.

Less than three weeks after the bridge opened James sadly crashed and died.

The road was repaired five days later.

James absolved of blame

While the Coroner concedes that the death occurred because of the pothole and that there were many people too blame for the incident, it found no blame on the rider.

The testimony of eyewitness Brendan Lindsay was accepted that James was only riding at 40-50km/h and slowing down when he hit the pothole.

“Mr Lindsay states that Mr Hughes braced himself against the handlebars just before the bike hit the pothole and he was thrown forwards when the rear wheel hit the pothole,” the report states.

“The bike began to wobble and hit the barriers on the left hand side of the bridge. Mr Hughes was thrown off his motorbike and over the edge of the bridge.”

Melissa says it was reassuring to know that James could not avoid the pothole and wasn’t riding in a manner that was unsafe.

Click here for the full Coroner’s Report.

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SWM Gran Milano cafe racer review

Tue, 21/02/2017 - 1:00pm

The best value model in the new SWM retro range is definitely the Gran Milano cafe racer. For just an extra $500, it comes with Brembo brakes, fully adjustable suspension and a better quality finish.

The Italian manufacturer was given a new lease on life in 2014 with funding from the Chinese Shineray Group.

While they have been known for their dirt bikes, the old Husqvarna factory in Lombardia, northern Italy, now also produces three retro models.

The Gran Milano cafe racer costs just $7990 ride away, while the Gran Turismo naked roadster and Silver Vase scrambler are $7490 ride away.

They all share the same 445.3cc single-cylinder engine and frame, but the Gran Milano is a very stylish model with the better brakes and suspension.

It compares very favourably with the Royal Enfield Continental GT at $9590 ride away and the Yamaha SR400 at $8099 plus on-road costs.

Despite being a cafe racer with clip-on bars, it has a quite comfortable riding position.

The triple clamp is set high and the seat relatively low so you don’t have to uncomfortably crouch over.

Unlike many cafe racers, the bars also don’t bang into the tank, so you have a good turning circle and won’t crush your thumbs on the tank.

However, the Gran Milano feels a little smaller than the other SWM retro models, because the contoured seat pushes you forward.

That slots you into the big 22.5-litre tank which has scoops for your knees. I’m 183cm (6’) tall and it just fits.

After some time in the saddle you feel a little cramped because you can’t move around all that much. However, the seat is quite comfortable for long stints of riding. And if you ride until that big tank runs out of fuel it will be several hours!

Styling is very retro cafe racer with a short front fender, twin shocks, round headlight, twin instrument pods, short mirrors, rear seat cowl and wire wheels.

The exhaust pipe is swept up higher than on most cafe racers but it creates a sporty look.

Some feel the odd-shaped tank does not suit the styling, but it does add to that locked-in fit of the riding position.

Quality of fit and finish on the Gran Milano is the best of the three bikes as well.

The instruments look a bit cheap, but everything else is well finished. I especially like the way the rear taillight fits into the cowl.

When I first picked up the Gran Milano from Heavy Duty Motorsport at Oxley in Brisbane, the SWM distributor had taken out the baffles.

It had an absolutely awesome sound. Not wicked loud, but with a deep thump.

Unfortunately, it attracted the long ear of the law and I was sent back to have the baffles refitted.

Even with the standard pipes, it still sounds like a bigger engine than a single.

The air and oil-cooled, four-stroke, SOHC, four-valve, fuel-injected engine has 22.4kW of power (30hp) and 35.8Nm of torque at 5300 revs.

It felt slightly smoother and more responsive than the Silver Vase, but perhaps that’s a psychological affect from the racier riding position.

Like the Silver Vase, the Gran Milano engine loves to spin between 4000 and 6000 revs for most duties.

Above 6000rpm, it gets another lease of life and becomes more lively, running out of steam about 8000-8500, well short of the indicated 10,000 rev limit.

It had only done 36km when I picked it up, so I didn’t push it too hard, but the Silver Vase became smoother as it passed the 500km mark. Both bikes can be a little difficult to start when hot.

They will sit comfortably on the highway at 5500 revs in fifth (top) gear with a tingling vibration through the bars, seat and foot pegs.

The Silver Vase has rubber inserts in the pegs while on the Gran Milano they are bare metal, so you get a little more tingle in your feet.

With any thumper, you ride the torque and use your gears to keep the engine in its sweet spot.

Thankfully the transmission is pretty slick and it changes gears without hesitation or any false neutrals.

The light hydraulic clutch also makes it easy work in heavy commuter traffic.

Where this bike excels over the others is in the suspension and braking.

The Gran Milano features adjustable front and rear suspension for fast and slow rebound and compression damping and adjustable preload rear shocks with piggy back reserves.

The suspension was set up right in the middle, which actually suited my 75kg frame.

However, with all that adjustment available, I just had to have a play.

Slowing the settings down a little actually helped the front tyre track better over tar ripples.

The steering geometry makes this a light and nimble steerer with fast turn-in that makes light work of a quick change in direction through a series of messes or weaving through traffic.

But it also makes it a little nervous on irregular surfaces, so tweaking the damping settings will sort that out.

The brakes are budget Brembo callipers on a single 320mm petal front disc which is quite effective for a 145kg (dry) bike. They have good feel and plenty of initial bite.

While I’m not usually suited to the cramped crouched-over style of a cafe racer, the Gran Milano felt comfortable and immense fun.

With those upgraded brakes and suspension, it’s also the pick of the single-cylinder cafe racers.

SWM Gran Milano 440 cafe racer
  • Price: $7990 ride away
  • Engine: 445.3cc air & oil cooled, 4-stroke SOHC 4-valve single cylinder
  • Power: 22.4kW @ 6800rpm
  • Torque: 35.8Nm @5300rpm
  • Bore & Stroke: 90 x 70mm
  • Transmission: 5 speed, wet hydraulic clutch
  • Suspension: Adjustable 47mm USD telescopic fork; adjustable rear shocks
  • Brakes: Brembo 320mm disc, four piston caliper; 220mm disc, hydraulic single piston
  • Wheels: 120/70-17-inch: 150/60-17-inch
  • Seat: 809mm (optional pillion seat available)
  • Wheelbase: 1410mm
  • Fuel: 22.5 litres
  • Weight: 145kg (dry)
  • Colours: Bronze, Green Lagoon

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Do motorcycles brake better than cars?

Tue, 21/02/2017 - 6:00am

There has always been conjecture about whether a motorcycle can brake in a shorter distance than a car.

Many experienced riders believe they can stop faster than a car which is probably why they tailgate cars.

Meanwhile, rider trainers warn their students to keep a safe following distance because a car can stop faster.

So who is right?

The arguments

The argument for a motorcycle is that they are much lighter and have bigger brakes for the size of the vehicle.

The argument supporting a car is that they have much bigger contact patches with the ground because they have four wide tyres.

Both arguments have merit.

However, it depends on the bike and the car.

The truth

If we look at the ultimate race vehicles — a Formula 1 car and a MotoGP bike — the answer is that the race car can brake with up to 5.7g of force and the GP bike with only 1.8g.

G-force is the pressure that gravity exerts on an object when it is accelerating relative to freefall. A sneeze is about 3g and a cough about 3.5g.

The physics Jeromy at work

For a scientific explanation, we went to Jeromy Moore, former Craig Lowndes race engineer and now with the Porsche world endurance champions.

“It is clear that a car has the potential to brake with more deceleration due to having more rubber, less weight transfer for the same deceleration due to a low centre of gravity height versus wheelbase,” he says.

A hard-braking sportsbike will shift most of its weight to the front tyre and even lift the back wheel off the ground.

So it’s not just two skinny tyres versus four wide ones, but one tyre contact patch versus four!

Jeromy also points out that a race car has significant aerodynamic downforce which puts more weight and traction on the tyres.

The real world

But that’s physics and not the real world.

In the real world there are passengers, luggage loads, rider and driver skills, surface traction, panic and technology to consider.

In fact, some suggest that a standard car (whatever that is) and a standard motorcycle have about the same braking force of about 1g.

But to extract 1g of braking force from a motorcycle, a rider needs to be highly skilled.

Almost any novice driver can simply slam on the brakes of a modern car and pull up with the same force as a highly skilled rider.

The conclusion

What this all means is that you may be able to out-brake a car if you practised hard and were aware when you needed to emergency brake.

But in the real world, panic can set in and it is much easier to lock up a front wheel and crash a motorcycle than it is in a car, especially with all the braking technology fitted to modern passenger vehicles.

So go out and practise your emergency braking skills until it becomes second-nature.

Meanwhile, don’t tailgate.

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BMW K 1600 GT Sport road test

Mon, 20/02/2017 - 5:00pm

A friend who has been a devoted Honda Goldwing fan for years is seriously considering buying a BMW K 1600 GTL now that it comes with a reverse gear.

He’s tested the big Beemer before and was impressed with the handling, light feeling and features, but the lack of a reverse gear was the sticking point.

Back at the launch of the K 1600 models in 2011 I asked why BMW didn’t include a reverse gear like the Wing, but they said it would add too much weight.

Similarly, I asked Honda why they didn’t have an electric windscreen like the K 1600 and they said it would add too much weight.

Now the K 1600 GTL arrives with both and the weight hasn’t changed from 321kg dry.

At the recent BMW Range Day in Melbourne I was given the opportunity of a short test ride on the new GT Sport with reverse and Shift Assistant Pro fitted as ex-factory options.

So basically it was a GTL without the top box.

What a weapon it is!

Even on a short ride around the tight and twisty roads and bumpy hills of Mt Macedon on an extremely hot day, the big Beemer felt like a much smaller bike.

The S 1000 RR leading the pack simply couldn’t get away from the GT. And although it felt much like a race, it also felt supremely comfortable.

This thing hauls. And it will haul all the way around Australia in long and comfortable stints.

BMW Motorrad Australia Miles Davis told me I should pin it in first gear until it redlines, then shift gears without using the clutch.

So I did as I was told.

The result is probably the closest thing to being in an F1 car that a mere mortal can experience.

Fire up the six-pot engine and it hums like a turbine jet. You can hardly feel any vibration at all.

Wing lovers go all weak in the knees at the creamy smoothness of Honda’s flat six. They would simply die at the extra creamy smoothness of this engine.

But that refinement belies the latent raw power unleashed when you do as Miles suggests.

Pinning it in first gear through to the redline blurs the scenery and draws the blood from your eye sockets. Consequently, I wasn’t quite sure what crazy speed I had reached when I flicked up the gear lever without using any clutch.

I was expecting all sorts of mechanical noise and jerkiness, but it simply changed its screaming F1 noise frequency, slipped silently into gear and the scenery blurred like the universe in Star Wars when they hit warp speed.

The same goes for all the gears up and down. In fact, I only used the clutch on take-off and landing!

British market research by the firm Technavio has found that demand for semi-automatic transmission (quickshifters, dual clutch and scooter centrifugal clutch) will increase 21% in the next five years.

As for the electric reverse gear, it’s called Reverse assist, because it’s not a gear.

It’s actually a reversing of the electric starter motor, the same as in the Wing.

Switch on the engine, engage the “R” button and then hit the ignition and it will start slowly moving backward.

There are so many hi-tech and low-tech features on this bike, it would take a review twice as long to mention them all.

But I will mention the electric windscreen which is a must. At warp speed it wanted to spit me off in a turbulent stream, but then I hit the windscreen button and the screen rose and cocooned me in a bubble of still air.

There is also GPS, electric suspension, ABS Pro, Dynamic Traction Control DTC, keyless starting, hill start control, adaptive xenon headlights, Brembo brakes, grip and seat heating, height-adjustable seats, multi-controller, three riding modes, cruise control, etc.

And next year, the K 1600 models will also get the SOS button as an ex-factory or aftermarket option.

It’s called Intelligent Emergency Call and it automatically contacts emergency services if the bike detects it has been involved in a crash. You can deactivate it or you can manually call.

BMW Motorrad Australia boss Andreas Lundgren says there are still some issues to work through with network coverage ion Australia, but he hopes to have it available in 2018.

If you want to cruise around the nation in absolute comfort with F1 power and all the technology you can imagine, the K 1600 series is the ultimate. It will make the Goldwing look and feel like a World War II battleship by comparison.

The big Beemer touring series grows this year with the launch of the K 1600 B in September. Price is yet to be announced.

BMW K 1600 B bagger

Meanwhile, the 2017 K 1600 GT costs $36,490 (Sport $38,490) and the updated K 1600 GTL arrives in May at $37,990 (Elegance $40,490).

Updates for 2017 include Euro4 engine with no loss of power or torque (118kW and 175Nm), improved electronic suspension and updated instruments.

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Female adventurer leads Peru tour

Mon, 20/02/2017 - 12:00pm

A female rider who claims to the first woman to ride around Africa solo on a motorcycle will lead a Compass Expeditions tour of Peru.

South African Jo Rust, 32, holds other records, including the fastest female cyclist from Johannesburg to Cape Town and the first person to cycle solo around South Africa.Her 45,000km motorcycle ride around the continent took her through 28 countries in little over a year.

Now the professional off-road instructor, tour leader, author and speaker will lead a Compass Expeditions tour through Peru.

The 16-day Peruvian Adventure costs $9100 and leaves from the lakeside city of Puno on August 25.

It travels via breathtaking sights including Machu Picchu, the mysterious Nazca Lines, Lake Titicaca, the floating reed islands of Uros, historical Incan Capital of Cusco and two nights in the Amazon jungle in a luxury river lodge.

It ends in the capital, Lima, on September 9.

Riders should be in good hands as Jo was the first female brand ambassador for BMW Motorrad South Africa and qualified as the fourth internationally accredited female off-road instructor in the world.

Compass Expeditions believes Jo’s presence will encourage other women to join the adventurous trip.

“We are trying to generate interest from female riders who may want to develop their riding skills with Jo’s assistance while on the tour,” says Jerry from Compass Expeditions.

“She will always be on hand to provide tips and techniques on improving your bike skills along the way.

“We also see this tour as a great one for couples to participate in (either as a pillion couple or on separate bikes) as the ride days are reasonably short and there is a lot of fantastic sight seeing along the route.”

“Compass Expeditions have a great deal of experience in South America and Peru is one of our favourite destinations, the route we have planned is one of our finest ”. 

Compass Expeditions have an experienced team based in South America where they keep their fleet of adventure bikes, including late-model BMW GS and Triumph Tiger 800XCs.

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How to break in a new motorcycle

Mon, 20/02/2017 - 6:00am

There are many and varied theories on how to break in a new motorcycle from a softly, softly approach to giving it the berries right from the start.

We’re not just talking about the engine, but also the brakes, tyres and other components.

For more information on breaking in new tyres, read this article.

Steve does all his own bike maintenance

As for breaking in the rest of your new motorcycle, we sought tips from several experts. However, we found only one, RACQ technical officer and Suzuki Bandit fan Steve Spalding, willing to go on the record.

The concern of our anonymous sources was either that they didn’t want “squids” bugging them for advice, or they were concerned about riders suing them for incorrect advice when their bike blows up, or they simply were not totally convinced their approach was right.

So our first tip on breaking in a new motorcycle is to consult your owner’s handbook.

If you comply with what they say, then you won’t void your warranty.

The handbook is there for a reason, it contains important information about the bike’s features, operating functions and specifications.

Although it’s often overlooked by experienced riders because “it probably only contains stuff we already know” it actually has a wide range of information that the manufacturer believes is important enough for the new owner to know.

So, the handbook is by far the best reference for learning how they believe a rider should break in the new bike – after all, if the manufacturer designed and built the bike it’s only logical that they would know best how to treat it.

General tips
  • Assembly standards are very high on current motorcycles, but some things do get past quality control or local assembly of shipped motorcycles. So it’s worth spending some time looking over your new bike to make sure all nuts, bolts, fittings, cable routing etc are as they should be. If not, contact the dealer without delay as the longer you leave it the harder it can be to get agreement to fix something.
  • Avoid extremes of operation, it might be tempting to crack open the throttle to see how well it performs or to perform wheelies, burnouts and endos, but the initial break-in period is about allowing the mechanical components time to settle in after assembly.
  • Over-revving or labouring the engine are two examples of incorrect break-in. In most cases keeping up with normal traffic flows is going to be pretty close to the ideal operating conditions for break-in. The manufacturer might suggest a rev range or amount of throttle to use, but the rider needs to use judgement in balancing engine speed and load. An experienced rider should have no problem doing this.
  • A commute to work is helpful as it presents a variety of loads and revs, followed by a long cool-off, and then the ride home with another long cooling-off period. These heating and cooling cycles are important for internal engine components. Occasional short full-throttle sprints from the traffic lights also provide pressure to help the rings seat.
  • Incorrect break-in can lead to premature engine wear and ongoing oil consumption problems. Modern oils which are thinner and ‘slippery’ can exacerbate this. Read our guide on mineral versus synthetic oils.
  • Always stick to the correct oil specification, and change the oil as set out in the handbook. As a side note, good quality oils are one of the most affordable means of giving your engine the best protection and long operating life so saving money here is a false economy. Always replace the filter with every oil change. In the early days of the engine, it will pick up minor debris from the manufacturing process. 
  • Generally it is better to avoid constant speed and load riding during the early break-in period.  So avoid highways for the first 200km. If you do, swap between the top two or three gears rather than leaving it in top gear. Again, riding in normal traffic should have enough variation.
  • Bedding in brakes is important to ensure best stopping performance. Generally a process of several firm applications, but not severe braking, helps to remove any coatings from the pads and discs. Too little pressure in the early stages can lead to polishing and therefore poor braking. It’s also important to allow ample cooling-off of the brakes during bedding-in.
  • Keep a check on the chain’s tension as there will be a period of initial stretch and it might need to be adjusted at the first service. It’s also an opportunity to get into a routine of regular lubrication to maximise its life.
  • Don’t miss the all-important first service, usually about 1000km. It’s important to get rid of any internal engine “rubbish” in the oil from internal metal wear as soon as possible. The mechanic will also have a checklist of many parts and components, right down to checking loose nuts and bolts.
  • After the first service, you should be ok to use your new motorcycle for the purpose it was intended! However, be aware that you may still be unfamiliar with the dynamics of your new bike, so ride safely. This is a statistically dangerous period for riders.
Dyno break-in

Even before your bike has left the factory, it is usually tested by revving it to the redline on a dyno.

So it stands to reason that you should do your own dyno run-in, according to one mechanic we asked who owns a dyno!

He even suggests having the bike trailered to his garage, rather than risk any damage by riding it from the showroom.

Revving the rings out of an engine does not necessarily destroy the engine. Harley runs a dyno drag simulator at rallies and says that even with ham-fisted riders, they’ve never blown one engine.

Harley dyno drag simulator

Here is our expert mechanic’s finicky dyno break-in process:

  • If the bike has a rev limiter, he removes it and switches off traction control before placing the bike on the dyno.
  • After warming up the engine, he puts it in fourth gear, and does five half-throttle dyno runs varying between 30% – 60% of the engine’s maximum revs, allowing the engine to decelerate fully without using the bike’s or dyno’s brakes.
  • He then allows the engine to cool down for 10 minutes.
  • Round two consists of four three-quarter throttle dyno runs from 30% – 80% of maximum revs followed by a cool down under full ram-air turbines.
  • The final run consists of three full-throttle dyno runs from 30% – 100% of maximum revs, followed an oil and filter change using mineral oil.
  • He advises customers to do another oil change at 3000km, this time using mineral oil.
  • At 6000km, it gets another oil and filter change but with good-quality fully synthetic oil as per specifications in the owner’s manual.

“The reason I do this running-in procedure is because the engine vacuum created during closed throttle deceleration sucks the excess oil and metal off the cylinder walls and removes the tiny particles of ring and cylinder material which is part of the normal wear,” he says.

“Also during deceleration the small particles suspended in the oil blow out the exhaust, rather than accumulating in the ring grooves between the piston and rings, which is clearly visible on the dyno’s extraction scoops after every running-in process.”

He says his dyno run-in process will keep piston rings from wearing out prematurely, resulting in a bike that runs smooth and never uses any excess oil.

Conclusion

Your new bike may be your new love and not just a means transport, but use your head, not your heart.

Introduce your new motorcycle slowly to all riding conditions.

Be kind to your new love and it will be kind to you for years to come.

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Roland Sands dresses up BMW R nineT

Sun, 19/02/2017 - 5:00pm

BMW Motorrad and Roland Sands Design are cementing their affiliation by offering specific R nineT accessories through BMW dealerships.

The special relationship between the German giant and the LA custom bike shop began in 2013 when BMW designers were struggling to build a concept bike worthy of celebrating their 90th anniversary.

So they asked Roland if he was interested.

He wasn’t.

So they sent their concept bike to the RSD shop in Los Alamitos and did circle work in the carpark.

That got his attention and he stepped nine and helped them complete the Concept 90, a homage to the R 90 S.

RSD Concept Ninety

The bike eventually became the R nineT.

It may have been a watered-down version of the RSD concept, but it has given rise to four more delicious variants, all of which are great blank canvases for customer personalisation.

So now BMW is offering customers special RSD “Machined Parts” for their R nineT, R nine T Pure, R nineT Scrambler, R nine T Racer and R nine T Urban G/S.

BMW Motorrad Australia boss Andreas Lundgren says the parts are “pretty cool”.

“It’s however not the first time we have sold non-factory options through our dealers,” He says.

“Previous examples include Gilles tooling, Laser exhausts and Alpha Technik Motorsport parts.” 

The aluminium parts have a hand-polished black coating which is then CNC machined. Selected areas are milled again to reveal the original aluminium surface.

They are then stamped with a logo featuring “BMW Motorrad” and “by Roland Sands Design”.

The Machined Parts include: cylinder head covers ($3000), oil filler neck lid ($150), belt cover ($1600), headlight cover ($900), handlebar end cover ($200), rear axle cover ($300), bevel gear bearing cover ($100), swinging-arm pivot mount cover ($200).

If you buy them all separately, they will cost $6450, but if you buy the lot as a package, it’s only $4500, saving you $1950.

BMW says more RSD products are being developed.

Meanwhile, there are Akropovic sports exhausts for the R nineT and R nineT Scrambler.

The Akrapovic titanium slip-on muffler costs  $1139 and the full system is $3100 (plus labour to fit).

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