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Updated: 26 min 29 sec ago

When will air-cooled Harleys end?

Mon, 24/04/2017 - 6:00am

The ever-toughening emissions laws have many riders wondering when will air-cooled engines in brands such as Harley-Davidson come to a sad end.

The good news, is it’s a long way off yet!

That’s according to Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Product Portfolio director Peter Michael Keppler.

Ironically, Peter was speaking to us at the launch of the liquid-cooled Street Rod in Singapore when he predicted a prolonged future for air-cooled Harleys.

Liquid-cooled Street Rod

We asked if the liquid-cooled Street range of 500, 750 and Street Rod would grow and replace the air-cooled Sportster.

Like all Harley executives, Peter would not talk about coming models.

However, he said the Street range would not replace the Sportster and that their air-cooled engines still had plenty of life in them.

“We have a really good team of air-cooled engineering experts, so I don’t see an end to it any time soon,” he told us.

Several other manufacturers with proud air-cooled histories have been able to meet the recent introduction of tough Euro4 emissions standards, including Ducati, BMW and Moto Guzzi.

They have used different strategies such as a leaner mixture, improved internal friction and restricted exhausts, mostly without decreasing power output.

All Harley engines in the 2017 model line-up now also meet the Euro4 rules.

However, the emissions laws have meant that the V-Rod line-up has been dropped this year.

The last of the Harley V-Rods

Even though they are water-cooled and developed jointly with hi-tech German sportscar manufacturer Porsche, the Revolution 60-degree V-twin was the “dirtiest” of the Harley engines and could not meet the Euro4 standards.

However, Peter has faith that Harley engineers will be able to meet the coming Euro5 rules, whenever they are introduced.

“They still haven’t officially set a date for their introduction,” he says.

“Euro5 is coming in maybe 2020, but maybe later. It’s still a long way off and we think we can make it.”

European emissions regulations Euro 1 Euro 2 Euro 3 Euro 4 Euro 5 Year 1999 2005 2007 2016 2020? CO 13.0g/km 5.5g/km 2.0g/km 1.14g/km 1.00g/km Hydrocarbons 3.0g/km 1.0g/km 0.3g/km 0.17g/km 0.10g/km NOx 0.3g/km 0.3g/km 0.15g/km 0.09g/km 0.06g/km SHED test n/a n/a n/a yes yes Onboard diagnostics no no no yes (OBD1) yes (OBD2) Durability test n/a n/a n/a 20,000km Lifetime

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Commonly used motorcycle scams

Sun, 23/04/2017 - 5:01pm

Much like the used car market, the second-hand motorcycle market is rife with scams.

Many sellers attempt to shift bikes which are unsafe to drive, have a hidden history and could even be stolen, or they will attempt to steal your money from you before disappearing for good.

The used vehicle market can be a dishonest and dangerous place to conduct business. But by being aware of common scams and how to avoid them, you should be able to find a reliable, safe and affordable motorcycle second-hand.

Here are a few of the more common scams to keep a look out for and how to avoid them when shopping for used bikes.

eBay and Craigslist scam

Ebay and Craigslist have become huge marketplaces for buying and selling used motorcycles. 

Unfortunately, there are many scams out there so always be wary with this route.

One common scam is for the seller to demand a large downpayment to hold the motorbike. Once this has been received, communication will cease and they will disappear.

Clocking

Clocking involves winding back the odometer to make the bike appear newer (this is also very common with used cars).

Avoid this scam by looking for screwdriver marks around the casing, seeing if the general condition matches the mileage and by checking MOT and service documents to see if the displayed mileage adds up.

Stolen

You may think that you have found a huge bargain due to the surprisingly low asking price. However, you will then understand why when the police pull you over for riding a stolen bike.

Avoid purchasing a stolen motorbike by carrying out a vehicle history check, which will also uncover anything else that the seller may be trying to conceal.

This is available from companies like HPI in the UK and the Personal Properties Security Register in Australia.

You should also be wary of low prices and sellers attempting to speed up the process.

Escrow scam

This scam is becoming increasingly more common in both the used car and motorbike markets.

Typically, the seller will advertise a bike online and claim that it is currently overseas or at a different location. They say it will be transported once the funds have been transferred to an escrow company.

The bike will not exist and the escrow company will be fake, so you will never see your money again once the seller vanishes after you have made payment.

Avoid this scam by always viewing a bike in person, or insisting that you select the 3rd party if they want to use an escrow.

  • Article written by Will Hope

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Moby Dick Brough Superior up for auction

Sun, 23/04/2017 - 6:00am

A 1928 Brough Superior SS100 called Moby Dick that was once the “fastest privately owned machine in the world” is a highlight of a Sotheby’s auction in Italy next month.

The  ‘Moto-Icons: From Café Racer to the Superbike’ sale of 20 bikes is from a single-owner collection and will be held on May 27, 2017, on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend.

The Moby Dick Brough which was labelled the world’s fastest privately owned bike in 1931 by Motor Cycling Magazine for clocking 115mph in top gear, is expected to fetch up to $A1 million.

If the Moby Dick Brough realises that amount, it would be the most expensive Brough sold at auction, beating the previous record of $A623,946 (£331,900/$US480,196) set last year for a rusted 1932 Brough Superior 800cc Model BS4 project motorcycle that was lost for more than 50 years.

1932 Brough Superior 800cc Model BS4

The Moto Icons sale features a collection of 20 bikes created by one owner over the past decade, including four MV Agustas, five Brough Superiors and two Nortons.

Moto Icons collection

Other highlights from the British Brough marque include a 1936 Brough Superior SS100, one of 102 SS100s built with the Matchless engine (Est. €180.000-€250.000); a 1938 Brough Superior SS80 De Luxe (Est. €100.000-€150.000); an earlier, V-Twin powered 1933 Brough Superior SS80 De Luxe, bought from Brough Superior owner and CEO, Mark Upham (Est. €120.000-€180.000); and the 2011 Brough Superior SS100 750 “Baby Pendine”, which set a new record in both miles and kilometres at the 2013 Bonneville Speed Trials (Est. €100.000-€150.000).

Vying for top billing with Moby Dick is the ex-Scuderia Duke 1957 Gilera 500 ‘4-Cilindri’  (Est. €380.000-€450.000).

1957 Gilera 500 ‘4-Cilindri’

The last of 15 racing 500 GPs made by Gilera, this ‘4-Cilindri’ example was raced by Derek Minter, John Hartle and Phil Read in period.

The four MV Agustas in the Moto Icons auction are led by a 2010 MV Agusta 500 3-Cilindri, the last of six collaboration bikes created with World Champion Giacomo Agostini (Est. €200.000-€250.000).

1968 MV Agusta 860 Magni

There is also a 1968 MV Agusta 860 Magni, modified to 860 specification in 2007 by Giovanni Magni, son of famed Arturo Magni (Est. €100.000-€150.000); a 1974 MV Agusta 750 S, originally owned by factory rider Gianfranco Bonera (Est. €90.000-€130.000); and a one-of-400 production 1954 MV Agusta 125 Monoalbero Corsa (Est. €40.000 – €70.000).

1963 Norton Manx 30M

Additional highlights of Moto-Icons include the 1963 Norton Manx 30M, believed to be Jack Ahearn’s winning bike from the 1964 Finnish Grand Prix (Est. €50.000-€70.000); a 1954 BMW RS 54, one of only 24 RS54s built by BMW that year and later restored by former BMW factory racer, Kurt Busch (Est. €125.000-€175.000); an early 1919  Indian Powerplus Board Track Racer, among the first generation of motorcycles ever built (Est. €50.000-€70.000); and, a matching-numbers, freshly restored 1937 Zündapp K800 (Est. €20.000-€35.000).

The complete collection set for RM Villa Erba can be viewed here.

 

 

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Macna motorcycle gear arrives

Sat, 22/04/2017 - 5:00pm

Motorcycle riding jackets, pants and gloves from European company Macna is now being imported to Australia by Link International.

The company has been making riding gear since 1991 and features a range of jackets, pants, gloves, safety protectors and casual wear for all riding styles.

However, Link International will only import men’s and women’s jackets, pants and gloves.

Macna are a sponsor of international road racers including Jordi Torres, Andrea Locatelli, Jules Cluzel, Julian Simon, Simone Corsi, Michael Laverty, Danilo Petrucci plus Australian Mike Jones.

The company claims their commitment to racing drives innovation and technical advance.

You can check out all the Macna gear available in Australian motorcycle shops here.

Macna Traction jacket

All Macna products use armour sourced from Italian company Safe Tech.

As an example of the products being imported the Traction jacket (pictured top of page) features CE-approved armour for the elbow and shoulder.

For those who want the technical details the CE number is EN1621-1:2012, type B and protection level 1.

The soft back protector is non-CE synthetic rubber.

The all-weather sport-touring jacket is claimed to be waterproof and warm thanks to the Raintex membrane with a detachable thermo lining.

It is available at $249.95 in three colours (Black/Ivory/Orange, Black and Ivory/Black/Fluro Green) and a range of sizes from Small to 3XL.

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Wristband alerts riders to speed cameras

Sat, 22/04/2017 - 6:30am

This leather wristband could be the biggest money saver for motorcycle riders as it alerts the rider to upcoming known speed camera locations.

After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the Italian-made WOOLF wristband will launch in June 2017 and cost €139 (about $A200). Earlybirds can order now for €99 (about $A140) on woolf.bike.

It may seem expensive, but if it saves your licence and speeding fines, it will quickly fund itself.

There are dozens of apps available for car drivers that use GPS to detect speed zones and send an audible alert. Riders can also use them if they have a Bluetooth helmet intercom.

However, the WOOLF works without the need for an intercom, sending an alert to the rider via a vibration in the wristband. The vibration intervals increase the closer you get to the speed zone, becoming continuous with 50km/h of the speed camera.

WOOLF co-founder Federico Tognetti says their app is based on SCDB.info, “the leading service in global mapping covering also Australia” which shows where speed cameras are usually located.

Its data base has more than 100,000 fixed and mobile and red light cameras in more than 66 countries and is updated daily.

The WOOLF wristband is not a radar scanner or detector, which is illegal in Australia and some other countries. So it’s perfectly legal.

Some of these radar alerts can be annoying, activating quite frequently because of known radar locations, even though they are not always being patrolled.

Perhaps the vibration in your wrist may be a nuisance for some.

WOOLF says the attractive water-resistant leather wristband is very thin, adjusts to all wrist sizes and should fit under “the tightest gloves”.

Federico tells us they “aim to improve further the performance”.

The wristband connects via Bluetooth to both Android and iOS phones and includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

Federico says recharge time is about three hours and you can get about two hours of use a day for 15 days.

 

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Ixon Zephyr a year-round jacket

Sat, 22/04/2017 - 6:00am

The new Ixon Zephyr HP textile men’s motorcycle jacket is claimed to be a three-in-one versatile jacket for year-round riding in all conditions.

The textile shell allows air to flow through thanks to the fixed ventilation grids on the top of the back and zippered vents on the chest and forearm.

It also has a removable winter lining and a removable and breathable Drymesh insert which is claimed to be waterproof.

The jacket includes CE level 2 approved elbow and shoulder protectors with a memory foam lining on the interior for comfort.

The back pocket is designed to accommodate an optional back protector to bolster the jackets level of protection

The Ixon Zephyr HP men’s jacket has two internal and two external pockets, and a weatherproof zippered pocket to store your wallet and phone.

There is also a 360 degree zippered waist to connect to Ixon riding pants and seal out the cold and wet.

It costs $379.95 and comes in three colour schemes (Black/White, Black/Red or Black/White/Bright Yellow) with reflector strips in sizes small to 4XL.

The European motorcycle clothing brand was introduce to the Australian market in 2005 and has featured some good quality products.

Click here to find Ixon dealers.

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BMW releases elite HP4 Race details

Fri, 21/04/2017 - 5:00pm

BMW Motorrad has entered the elite world of ultra-expensive hand-built super-sportsbikes targeted just for the race track.

The Bavrians surprised everyone by unveiling its handbuilt HP4 Race track bike at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan last November.

At the time the only details about the handbuilt track bike was that it features a full carbonfibre frame and wheels.

Now they have revealed full details of the 158kW bike.

Only 750 will be built and Australia has been assigned 10.

Pricing is still to be finalised, however BMW Motored Australia confirms it will be over $110,000

 

These hand-built super-sportsbikes are becoming just the thing to satisfy those elite riders with never-ending pockets.

MV Agusta and Ducati have been doing it for a while and Honda joined in 2015 with the RC213V-S which cost more than a quarter of a million dollars.

Honda RC213V-S road-legal MotoGP bike HP4 Race details

The all-carbon HP4 Race weighs just 171kg fully fuelled and road ready which is even lighter than the factory racing bikes in the Superbike World Championship and only slightly above the MotoGP factory racers.

BMW Motorrad is the first motorcycle manufacturer to present a main frame made entirely of carbon fibre. The frame weighs just 7.8kg.

The racing pedigree is evident from the BMW Motorsports colours to the race-pedigree engine.

It features Öhlins FGR 300 upside-down fork and the TTX 36 GP spring strut used both in the Superbike World Championship and in MotoGP.

The light alloy underslung swingarm is made of milled and sheet metal parts which are used in the Superbike World Cup and the Brembo monoblock brake calipers come from the Superbike World Championship.

The brakes have coated titanium pistons, single-piece aluminium calipers with a chemically nickel-plated surface and 6.75mm by 320mm T-type racing steel brakes.

The engine and close-ratio racing gearbox with adapted transmission ratios also come from World Cup specifications.

Peak output is 158kW (215hp) at 13900rpm with 120Nm of torque at 10000rpm.

Maximum engine speed is increased over the S 1000 RR from 14200rpm to 14500rpm.

The HP4 Race comes with an extensive package of electronic control and assistance systems as well as a lightweight on-board electrical system and 2D dashboard with transferable data memory (2D logger).

Electronic controls include Dynamic Traction Control controlled by ignition cut, Engine Brake, Wheelie Control Pit Lane Limiter and Launch Control.

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2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod first ride

Fri, 21/04/2017 - 5:00pm

The new Harley-Davidson 750cc Street Rod should appeal to younger and more aggressive riders with its macho stance, budget price and sporty performance and exemplary handling.

In fact, I’d say it is the best-handling Harley yet!

The 750cc variant of the new learner-approved, Indian-made Street 500 ($11,495) arrives in Australia in May 2017 at $12,995.

It is a substantial step up from the 500, not only with its bigger engine, but also with far better fit and finish, neater cabling, LED taillight, macho 43mm forks and quality shocks. However, the messy tank welds are still visible and the levers non-adjustable.

We’ve just ridden the bike through the concrete jungle – and the real jungle – of Singapore where the maximum speed is 90km/h.

The day started out stormy, but the roads quickly dried so we were able to put the bike through its paces on some surprisingly twisty sections through the jungle, plenty of open highway and congested city streets.

As a concrete jungle carver, this is one sharp weapon thanks to its aggressive riding position, deep lean angles, and vastly improved suspension.

Punchy engine

Central to the Harley’s appeal is its punchy liquid-cooled, single OHC 8V 60° V-Twin High Output Revolution X 750 engine.

It has new pistons, high lift cams, larger air box, new dual 42mm throttle bodies, new four-valve cylinder heads and shorter but higher volume exhaust to give it an 8% increase in torque to 65Nm @ 40000rpm.

Harley also claims a 18% bump in power, although they never provides those figures. It’s believed to be around 50kW (about 70 horsepower).

Compression ratio is raised from 11.0:1 to 12.0:1 and the redline goes from 8000 to 9000rpm.

The extra revs aren’t really necessary as it seems to run out of puff about 6500rpm.

It’s a flexible engine with plenty of midrange punch, a buzzy top end and no surging down low in heavy traffic.

However, it does get very hot in slow traffic and blows scorching air on to your right leg from the exhaust outlet.

When you stop and put your left leg down, you can also burn your inner thigh on the rear cylinder head.

While it might be hot, the engine is mechanically very quiet, leaving you to enjoy the somewhat muted but enjoyable baritone exhaust note that has a delicious gargle on the overrun.

It may be too quiet for some and an aftermarket exhaust should improve the note as well as the asthmatic top end.

The engine is married to a sweet and light gearbox that feels precise with no false neutrals.

Sometimes neutral can be difficult to find, so you have to click down gently from second, rather than up from first.

The clutch is pretty heavy which is a problem in traffic. I resorted to doing clutchless shifts which were easy going up and possible going down if you judiciously control the throttle.

Sharper handling

This is now the sharpest handling bike Harley has produced since the XR1200. Possibly with better ride thanks to the “Endurance” suspension.

It features sharper geometry with 43mm upside-down forks gripped by lightweight aluminium yokes. Fork rake is tightened from 32° to 27° for quicker steering.

The new rear shock absorbers have an external reservoir to increase fluid capacity and maintain damping consistency. Travel is increased 31% to 117mm.

The swing arm is slightly longer to accommodate the taller shocks.

This gives it deeper lean angles up to 40.2 degrees on the left and 37.3 degrees on the right, compared with the Street 500 at about 28.5 degrees.

The suspension has plenty of compression damping for aggressive riding, yet the ride isn’t compromised.

It’s firm, but not harsh and even when you hit the rare bump on Singapore’s smooth roads, it’s abrupt but not jarring.

Don’t feed the monkeys!

Just like the monkeys in the forest, we began to monkey around and started hitting the many speed bumps hard and getting some air.

The forks took the hits in their stride and the bike don’t bounce around on landing. It felt very composed and stable, despite the rough treatment.

The wide handlebars and moderate weight also make it a lithe tool for quick changes of direction and manoeuvring through crowded Singapore traffic.

However, there is not a lot of room between lanes of vehicles with those bar-end mirrors making the bike 870mm wide.

It will fit, but it’s daunting to the rider, especially squeezing past a couple of SUVs with high wing mirrors.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Harley should have made the mirrors able to be swivelled out of the way, yet still usable, not like on the Ducati Hyperstrada which fold back and are unusable.

If you like, you can swap the mirrors around so they are underneath the bars and less likely to hit wing mirrors of SUVs. However, you then may have trouble with hatchbacks and sedans.

It rides on exclusive 17-inch front and rear Open Spoke Black Cast aluminium wheels and new Michelin Scorcher 21 radial tyres, sized 120/70 R17V front and 160/60 R17V rear.

In the early wet conditions, they were a little greasy, especially in the mildew on the road edges. As the roads quickly dried and grew hot, the Scorchers settled in and became very grippy.

Brakes have been upgraded to dual two-piston calipers and 300mm front disc brakes with ABS.

They are now very strong, although there is no initial bite in the front and you have to pull hard for effect. When you do, they are very capable and there is little fork dive.

The rear single disc is also very strong and on the few occasions when the ABS activated on the wet roads, it came on smoothly and predictably.

Rider ergonomics

The rider now sits higher on the raised 765mm seat with a stretch forward to the wide drag bars and the footpegs raised and moved rearwards.

It feels more sporty than the Street 500, but with the tank moved slightly forward and up, it doesn’t feel quite as cramped.

I’m 185cm and my knees sit up high above the tank which feels a little awkward, but you get used to it quickly and become one with the bike.

My big size 11 foot sits on top of the two-into-one muffler when I’m riding with the ball of my foot on the footpeg, so Harley has fitted a rubber rest on the pipe. It almost feels like a floorboard.

The seat feels very comfortable, but we never spent more than about an hour in the seat at any one time. It should be fine for the duration of the 13.1-litre duration of a tank of juice.

Features

Street Rod comes standard with Harley-Davidson’s Smart Security System with remote immobiliser.

You still have to insert a key in the ignition, though.

Instruments are contained in a single, stylish pod set in a colour-matched cowl.

The analogue speedometer is easy to read as are the details in the small insert CD screen. It features odometer, two tripmeters, a clock and a gears/revs indicator that can be toggled via a switch on the instruments.

Controls seem good quality and easy to use.

Harley says there will be a host of special accessories available later this year. Many of the Street 500 accessories will also fit.

Target market

Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand marketing manager Adam Wright says the target market is urban riders aged 25-35.

In developing the bike, Motorcycle Product Portfolio director Peter Michael Keppler says they surveyed more than 3000 people in 10 countries.

He says the Street range has been a huge success selling more than 35,000 worldwide since its release in 2015.

The Street 750 outsells the same-size cruisers in the USA and the Street 500 has helped Harley to the top of Australian road bike sales.

He described the Street Rod as “Phase 2” of Street family. We expect there will be many more passes t come!

“People always want more. More performance, handling, capability and in all these fronts the Street Rod provides that.

“We have very high hopes for this bike.

Peter does not believe the Street Rod will cannibalise sales of its Sportster range and says it should attract new buyers to the brand.

He says the V-Rod Street Rod name was resurrected after 11 years because they both have a 60-degree engine.

While the V-Rod range ends this year, the Street Rod is not seen as a replacement, but as an extra option to attract new and younger customers who may never have heard of the equally sporty V-Rod Street Rod.

2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
  • Price: $12,995 rideaway ($13,995 New Zealand)
  • Available: from May
  • Engine: 749cc, liquid-cooled, Revolution X V-twin
  • Transmission 6-speed constant mesh spur gear
  • Torque: 65Nm @ 40000rpm
  • Length: 2130mm
  • Width: 870mm
  • Seat: 765mm
  • Clearance: 205mm
  • Lean angle: 37.3 degrees (rght), 40.2 (left)
  • Wheelbase: 1510mm
  • Wheels: 17-inch
  • Fuel: 13.1 litres
  • Wet weight: 238kg
  • Colours: vivid black, charcoal denim, olive gold

 

 

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Airless tyres coming to motorcycles?

Fri, 21/04/2017 - 12:00pm

Airless tyres for motorcycles has come a little closer to reality with the announcement that Bridgestone is working on an airless tyre for bicycles.

Bridgestone Corporation and Bridgestone Cycle are working together to make the tyres from recyclable resin.

Bridgestone is assessing the feasibility of the tyres and hopes to have a commercial version available by 2019.

Airless motorcycle tyres would be the logical next step.

No more worrying about getting the tyre pressures right or being stranded with a puncture.

Airless tyres are not a new concept, they have been widely used in industrial and military vehicles and in 1932 English dirt-track rider Les Blackborough used a back wheel with wooden balls mounted on the rim to ‘broadside rapidly on hard surfaces’.

Polaris has also released their WV850 ATV with non-pneumatic tyres with a honeycomb interior. The puncture-proof tyres have even been tested by the US Army firing live rounds into them.

Polaris WV850 with Terrain Armor tyres

However non-pneumatic tyres are heavy, expensive and limited to slow-moving vehicles.

Several other tyre manufacturers are also working on fixing those problems and developing cheaper manufacturing processes.

Michelin has been working on their Tweel (combined tyre and wheel, geddit?) for several years, Bridgestone has developed non-pneumatic concept car and scooter tyres that are almost production ready and the latest is South Korean tyre manufacturer Hankook who seem to have cracked the high-speed problem.

Hankook airless tyres

The iFlex is Hankook’s fifth attempt at non-pneumatic tyres and has been tested on an electric car at up to 130km/h. It is also cheaper to produce and easy to recycle.

Motorcycle versions are bound to follow.

  • Story updated from 2015.

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Hopes for wider LAMS model choice

Fri, 21/04/2017 - 11:44am

Novice riders could soon have a wider choice of motorcycles such as the Street Rod (above) under the Learner-Approved Scheme (LAMS) if Harley-Davidson has its way.

The company is planning to put a proposal to Australian governments through the Federal Chamber for Automotive Industries to axe the 660cc engine capacity limit.

Instead, it would retain the 150kW per tonne limit only, as is the case in the ACT.

At the launch today in Singapore of the new 749cc Street Rod, Harley-Davidson Australia marketing manager Adam Wright confirmed that they are planning to “put a paper to the government through the FCAI”.

“The ACT has no restriction on capacity and we are trying to expand that to all states in Australia,” he says.

While they would hope other manufacturers would support their proposal, it is Harley that has the most to gain from such a move with the Sportster range and the Street 750 and Street Rod being suitable candidates. It may even include some Softails and Dynas.

Harley-Davidson Roadster Sportster

Harley has already had huge success with their Street 500 which has been their top seller since its introduction and hoisted the brand to the top of the road bike sector in Australia over Honda.

Since their introduction of LAMS laws over the past few years, the choice for many tall and heavy riders to ride a more stable bike with better and safer technology has grown substantially.

Almost every manufacturer has at least one learner model and it has been a huge sales success for many brands.

However, the midweight capacity market is very soft in Australia and there are few models offered as riders tend to leap straight from LAMS bikes to over-litre bikes.

If the capacity limits were dropped, novices would then have a wider choice and be able to more sensibly graduate to bigger bikes over time.

That fits in much better with the new graduated licensing laws.

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Suzuki releases prices on GSX-R1000

Fri, 21/04/2017 - 7:17am

Suzuki Australia has released the prices on its more powerful and lower weight 2017 GSX-R1000 and new GSX-R1000R models unveiled at the INTERMOT show in Cologne last year.

The GSX-R1000 ABS will be available in Australian dealerships from late June in a choice of Metallic Triton Blue, Metallic Matte Black No. 2 and Pearl Mira Red at $21,990 plus on-road costs, or $23,990 ride away.

That’s a big leap in price, considering the lo-fi version has been selling for under $16,000 the past few years.

It now puts the bike directly against premium models such as the BMW S 1000 RR.

The top-spec GSX-R1000R will be available in October in Metallic Triton Blue or Glass Sparkle Black for $25,490 ($27,490 ride away).

The seventh-generation model has a completely new Euro 4-compliant engine with 148.6kW (199.27hp) and 117.5Nm of torque,all-LED lighting, lean-angle sensitive traction control, three riding modes, a quickshifter, electronic steering damper, one-button starter, upgraded Showa suspension and weighs 3kg less at 202kg wet.

Suzuki claims it is the most powerful they have built.

2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000

The engine is not only more powerful and cleaner running but is also more compact, being 6.6mm narrower and 22.2mm shorter, yet the bike is 20mm longer with a 1425mm wheelbase.

Engine compression is higher at 13.2:1 from 12.9:1 with a longer bore and shorter stroke (76 x 55.1mm from 74.5 x 57.3mm). It now redlines at 14,500rpm instead of 13,500.

The limited-edition R version will come with upgraded suspension and cornering ABS.

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Cyclists and motorcyclists should unite

Fri, 21/04/2017 - 6:00am

There seems to be an animosity between cyclists and motorcyclists, yet a recent British study finds more than 90% of motorcycle riders are also cyclists.

The online study of 2183 Carole Nash Motorbike insurance customers not only shows that 92% of motorcyclists also own a bicycle, but more than half (57%) own more than one bicycle and 27% own three or more.

The survey reveals that road racing bicycles are the most popular bike type for 54% of those polled with the average cost being £1240 ($A2100).

We’re not sure what the percentages of Australian motorcyclists are also MAMILS (middle aged men in lycra), but it seems Aussie cyclists and motorcyclists are at odds.

The Australian cyclist lobby has objected to lane filtering and the use of bike lanes by motorcycles while surveys show cyclists who disobey road rules are a pet hate of motorcyclists.

But it seems the two lobbies should be uniting as they may be representing a lot of the same people.

Cyclists and motorcyclists safer

Interestingly, the British poll also reveals that more than half (58%) say being a motorcyclist helps them to be safer on a bicycle. 

Some 94% of motorcyclists surveyed say they have not been in a road traffic accident on their bicycle.

When asked what benefits there are to cycling, the survey respondents answered:

  • It’s an enjoyable way of getting around (61%);
  • I like the feel of the open road (44%);
  • It’s a cheaper way of getting around (32%);
  • It’s better for the environment (26%); and
  • It helps to reduce congestion on the road (23%).

Most of those who cycle say it is a hobby (61%) and a quarter (24%) say they use their bike to cycle to and from work.

  • Do you also own a bicycle? Do you think the cyclists and motorcyclist lobbies should unite? Leave your comments below.

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Is a bigger engine always better?

Thu, 20/04/2017 - 5:00pm

They say there is no replacement for displacement, but a recent ride on a couple of bigger Harley-Davidson models made me think otherwise.

Like most motorcycle manufacturers, Harley updates their bikes by making bigger and more powerful engines.

The latest update is the Milwaukee Eight 107-cube (1753cc) up from the 103 (1687cc) engine. I’ve ridden all the Touring models with this engine and it is smoother, more refined and more powerful.

However, I also recently rode the Fat Boy S with the Screamin’ Eagle 110-cube (1802cc) engine. It’s bigger and more powerful than the 103 in the standard Fat Boy.

It’s also clunkier and less refined with poorer slow-speed feel and fuelling than either the 103 or 107 engines.

I am probably a bit strange, but I would rather wait for the 107 to be fitted to this model than get the limited-edition S model with the bigger donk!

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy S

No manufacturer ever went broke making bigger engines for its bikes. Riders just love a big engine, especially when it comes to bench racing.

And that’s why the 600cc supersport range is dying out and race classifications have to be changed.

However, my recent Harley test rides got me thinking of motorcycles where bigger engine capacity does not necessarily make a better bike.

There can be many reasons for a smaller capacity bike being better than its larger-capacity brother.

They include better fuelling, smoother power delivery, reliability, more controllable power, greater range and lighter overall weight which usually means improved handling.

Another reason is that they are cheaper. That means you can afford the top-spec model!

One great example is the new Street Triple RS which has a 765cc engine and all the electronic wizardry so that riders can able use far more of its potential than those same riders would on a 1050cc Speed Triple.

Meanwhile, they save themselves more than $500 on the most basic Speed Triple.

Triumph Street Triple RS

Not all bigger bikes are worse than the smaller models. Often the larger capacity model comes with new technology that makes it better, like the late-model BMW Boxer engines.

But here are some other examples of where the smaller model is better:

  • The new water-cooled Bonneville 900cc models are not only smoother and better fuelled than the 120cc models, but have greater range.
  • The 803cc Monster engine is so good it is now used in Ducati’s most popular model, the Scrambler.

    Ducati Scrambler

  • BMW R 65 was more reliable than the bigger models that followed.
  • Suzuki’s SV650 was more manoeuvrable and smoother than the SV1000.
  • Suzuki V-Strom 650 and Kawasaki Versys 650 over their 1000cc counterparts.
Can you think of any other examples where the lower capacity model was a better buy than its bigger brother or where the increased engine capacity made it a better bike? Please leave your comments below.

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Backpacks for motorcycle commuters

Thu, 20/04/2017 - 12:00pm

Motorcycle riders not only arrive at work happier than other commuters, but can also looking fresh and neat thanks to the Australian-designed Henty CoPilot range of backpacks.

The clever two-in-one Henty CoPilot backpacks consist of an outer garment bag that protects against crushing and wringing your clothes, and a spacious grab 20 litre inner utility bag.

Commuters can use them together or separately as a stand-alone backpack.

Sydney mates and cyclists Jeremy Grey and Jon Gourlay initially designed the backpacks for cyclists, but realised it was suitable for motorcyclists as well.

Henty founders Jon and Jeremy

We featured their Wingman backpack in May 2015 which we also found to be very useful for motorcycle commuters.

Henty Wingman Backpack for commuters Henty CoPilot backpacks

The Henty CoPilot bag starts at $319 for the Henty CoPilot Messenger with a single strap and $349 for the two-strap CoPilot Backpack.

They are made from recycled plastic and the semi-rigid vertical ribs define the diameter of the garment bag. When rolled, it holds clothes in place, minimising creasing.

There is also has enough space for a laptop, two pairs of shoes, toiletries, accessories and loads more.

The bags are small enough to be used as cabin luggage on an airplane and have a large external pocket handy for passports, tickets, important documents and keys.

There is also a removable laptop pouch and strong coat hanger with pivoting hook, comfortable padded adjustable straps with solid aluminium buckles, leather handle for carrying briefcase style, and a high-vis contoured waterproof rain jacket.

The Henty CoPilot bags were made possible through a crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $320,000 from more than 1000 backers.

The bag was awarded Chicago Athenaeum’s prestigious Good Design Award in 2016 for the most innovative and cutting-edge product designed and produced across the world.

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Riders urged to challenge filtering fines

Thu, 20/04/2017 - 6:00am

Riders have been urged to challenge lane filtering fines in court to press the point that they are confusing and varied across state borders.

Rider advocates Wayne Carruthers and Guy Stanford say that riders are confused about the rules and being fined heavily for minor transgressions of the lane filtering rules.

The fines are more than $300 and three demerit points.

Offences include crossing the white stop line after filtering to the front of traffic stopped at lights, filtering in left or right turn lanes, or edge filtering in Queensland when the electronic speed signs drop below 90km/h.

While Guy will continue working with the various rule-making bodies for clearer and more uniform rules on behalf of the Australian Motorcycle Council, Wayne has urged riders to come forward and advise what they are being fined for when filtering.

Wayne Carruthers Fines data

Motorbike Writer has previously asked the various state police and transport bodies for lane filtering fine information but they either don’t keep separate data or don’t distinguish between the types of lane filtering offences.

“The various state rider associations need to know what fines are being written and under what circumstances in order to understand what is happening and formulate their positions which clarify any ambiguities,” Wayne says.

He is writing a court narrative for a friend who was issued a ticket for filtering using an NSW bus-only lane for one car length at 6.30am.

“My mate wrote to our State Debt Recovery Office (SRDO) to ask for the fine to be withdrawn given that the officer was rude etc and what he did was safe,” he says.

“But they rejected the plea and told him to take up the rudeness of the officer with the NSW Police, they would not refer it to them.

“He is going to throw himself on the mercy of the courts rather than simply pay it as it is up his nose.”

Wayne says there is a lot of confusion and angst in the motorcycle community over the vagaries of the laws and the disparity of the laws between states.

Lane filtering spreads

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

RIDERS ARE URGED TO READ ABOUT THE VARIOUS LAWS HERE

“There are a few officers who don’t like filtering and are being a little silly writing tickets which end up being for an offence other than filtering,” Wayne says.

“It is clear though the NSW bus-only lane has problems and that riders don’t realise they can’t use the left-hand or right-hand turning lanes in filtering.”

He also says there is concern among experienced riders that some riders are being “a little over the top in filtering”, resulting in fines and accidents.

Wayne says these could lead to the lane filtering rules being revoked or fines increased and he urged riders to become familiar with the laws.

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Hillclimb race for Oxley Highway?

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 3:00pm

The idea of a Sunshine Coast International TT is morphing into an international hillclimb event on the Oxley Highway, NSW, like the famous Pikes Peak Hillclimb.

Organisers Inside Line Events International say they originally intended to run a hillclimb on the Oxley mountain section of the highway and “almost had it over the line” with council and the community until a police officer objected.

They then directed their attention to the Sunshine Coast last year, drawing a lot of enthusiastic support from both riders and council, but objections from locals.

Ministerial support

Promoter David Rollins and operations manager George Spring, who owns a farm in the Walcha area, say the Oxley is now back on the drawing board after a reshuffle in the NSW Cabinet earlier this year.

David with his Ducati 1199 Panigale TriColore

“There was a change of Tourism and Major Events Ministers and it’s now the Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall,” says operations manager George.

“He’s young, energetic and very capable and I have a lot of time for him.

“He understands the charter of tourism is to get tourists to regional areas and this is just the event to do that. It ticks all the boxes.”

The Minister has described the idea as a “very well fleshed out concept” and has said he would facilitate meetings with relevant departments and authorities to help the organisers gain approval.

A spokeswoman for the Minister says “he’s right behind anything for the area”.

Four-day international hillclimb

The organisers hope to stage the four-day event in November 2018 and feature international racers.

George says it would attract up to 25,000 visitors and millions of dollars in revenue to the region.

He says it would be run like the Pikes Peak event, but with stricter Australian safety standards.

Pikes Peak International Hillclimb

“I’m not a motorcyclist, but I get it. This is a wonderful bit of road for riders,” he says.

In fact, riders are currently awaiting a prolonged Roads and Maritime Services review of speed zones on the Oxley Highway and have signed a petition and staged a protest rally.

The tourism potential of the hillclimb might also sway the decision on speed zones.

The organisers say they have financial sponsors and a team of highly skilled professionals to run the event.

Inside Line Events International boss David Rollins is an advertising and communications expert responsible for the Mr Motocross series and George says he has worked in five Olympics, 16 Wimbledons, “a lot of F1 events” and car events in the USA.

Local support

Toni and Brad Keable who run the motorcycle-friendly Royal Cafe at Walcha say they are keen on the idea of an international hillclimb in the area.

Brad and Toni Keable of the Royal Cafe, Walcha

“They originally wanted to stage a TT here but the police stopped it at the 11th hour,” Toni says.

“We are absolutely keen on it and so is Walcha Council. They are very proactive about the motorcycle industry and motorcycle tourism.”

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Rare Italian bikes honour 40th anniversary

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 12:00pm

Some rare Italian motorcycles are expected to be on show in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall next month to mark the 40th anniversary of the Ducati Owners Club of Queensland.

Despite the Festival of Italian Motorcycle & Scooters honouring the DOCQ anniversary, it is open to all Italian bike and scooter marques of any type, age or condition.

Bikes will include such famous names as Ducati, MV Agusta, Benelli , Moto Guzzi, Vespa, Piaggio and Lambretta motorcycles and scooters.

Lead organiser Gary Edgar says he expects thousands of shoppers to inspect the show which will feature displays by Italian bike and scooter clubs as well as dealers.

Gary will have two rarities from his collection at the show in Reddacliff Place on Sunday May 28 from 8am to 2pm.

“The Ducati Brio 48 scooter is a 1964 model that I brought in from Manduria in the south of Italy and invested four years and more dollars than I care to think about on a bare metal restoration,’ he says.

Ducati Brio 48 scooter

“I am aware of a couple of Brio 100s floating about (55 were imported 1965-68) but only 10 48s ever came to Australia (the last two in 1966) and I’m not aware of any surviving.”

He will also show his 1966 Ducati Monza Junior 160 that had come via “somewhere out west” of Bundaberg.

1966 Ducati Monza Junior 160

“It’s not in its original form as a college commuter bike, but is now something of a special,” Gary says.

“The previous owner had converted it to a monoposto and I retained this aspect and proceeded with further restoration.

“Not especially rare but still only 32 were imported in 1969 which would have been the remnants of a large US order that was cancelled (Brio 48 production ended in 1967). This Junior would have been in that shipment.”

Gary encourages owners of other Italian bikes and scooters from any era to display their machines.

“There is no entry fee for the general public or participating individual owners,” he says.

“Owners may stay for as long or short a period as they wish.

“There is no concours judging or awards, giving anyone with a machine of whatever make, condition or vintage a chance to win the award for their category.

“Professional Grid Girls will roam the Festival engaging the public to vote in the People’s Choice Awards with an award each for motorcycle and scooter.”

  • Ducati Owners Club of Victoria also celebrates its 40th this year, raising $32,750 for the Victorian Spinal Cord Service by raffling a Ducati Monster 1200 S.

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Harley has a ‘cow’ as sales slide

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 6:53am

Harley-Davidson revenue has dropped 14% in the first quarter as a Bollywood actor has called for the company to be banned in India for selling cow leather products.

The Milwaukee company blames the slide in sales on weak pricing for used motorcycles, a buildup of 2016 inventory at dealers and sluggish sales in areas of the US that depend on the oil industry.

However, they plan to address the sales slump by introducing 100 new models by 2027 and add two million new riders in the US, alone.

This comes after Harley boss Matt Levatich recently said they would introduce 50 new bikes in the next five years, followed by the launch of the Road King Special and Street Rod.

Worldwide, Harley sales slid 4.2% to 55,049 in the quarter with the only gains in Latin America which jumped 24.2%.

Sales were down 5.7% in the US, Harley’s biggest market, while international sales fell 1.8%.

The Asia Pacific region had a 9.3% decline, with Australia down 1.1% in a market that dropped 13.4% on all bikes and weak sales in Japan and India.

Cow vigilante

Indian sales could fall even further after famous Indian actor Ajaz Khan posted a video on his Facebook page calling on the government and “cow vigilantes” to ban Harley-Davidson in India for selling products made from cow hide.

Actor Ajaz Khan

“I have stalled shooting in Kashmir and come live to share that all these people called ‘Gau Rakshaks’ (cow vigilantes) are causing harm and killing people. So many people have been killed and no one is saying anything,” Ajaz says in his video.

“I just bought a leather belt for Rs 8,000 from Harley Davidson. This is a cow leather belt. It’s being sold in the entire world. If you really consider yourself men, then I request (Prime Minister) Modi ji, (Chief Minister) Yogi ji and ‘Gau Rakshaks’ to shut down Harley-Davidson. I am helping you and not making fun of you.

“You want to divide citizens of the country. You want to create riots amongst Hindu and Muslims. You can’t do anything. You can just get one man beaten by 20.

“Go and shut Harley-Davidson. You won’t get anything by beating poor. I have also observed the poor state of stray cows on the road. Please save them first. Don’t divide and provoke Hindus and Muslims in the country.”

Indian factory

Harley-Davidson assembles motorcycles in India for the domestic market and builds the Street 500, 750 and 750 Street Rod in the country for international markets, including Australia.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Motorbike Writer flies to Singapore tomorrow (April 19, 2017) to ride the new Indian-built Street Rod. Stay tuned for the review.

The latest political scandal comes after President Trump recently complained to Congress that Harley paid 100% import duty in India on its motorcycles.

Trump meets with Harley execs

However, because they are assembled and built in India, it is believed they pay a lot less, although there has been no confirmation of the import duty from Harley or Indian officials.

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Virtual reality to help sell motorbikes?

Wed, 19/04/2017 - 5:00am

A California BMW dealership has started using virtual reality to help sell motorcycles to people who don’t yet have a motorcycle licence.

Long Beach BMW Motorcycles is also offering experienced riders the opportunity to see what it is like to ride different bus, such as their GS models or their S 1000 RR on a track.

They can even wheelie the bike!

It’s a great idea, but not the first of its type.

For some time Harley-Davidson has been offering non-riders the thrill of letting out the clutch on a big Harley tethered to a rolling road.

There is no leaning involved, but non-riders get to experience changing gears and feeling the big V-twin roaring between their legs.

Jump Start rookie gets a thrill

A couple of years ago Victory Motorcycles launched a virtual reality riding experience to use at its trade shows in the US.
Unfortunately, Victory is now defunct, but maybe sister company Indian Motorcycle will take it up.

Long Beach BMW Motorcycles owner David Lindahl admits there is no substitute for the feeling you get when you’re on a bike.

“But for people who haven’t yet learned how to ride it’s a fun way for them to see what they’re missing,” he says.

Users wear an Oculus 360-degree Gear VR headset, Sennheiser HD598 noise-cancelling headphones and a wearable SUBPAC subwoofer that provides tactile audio to replicate the vibrations of a motorcycle.

Apart from non-riders, the owners say seasoned motorcyclists are also enjoying the experience to test their limits in unfamiliar terrain.

It would be great if the system were available here. It might bring a lot of non-riders into dealerships.

BMW Motorrad Australia GM Andreas Lundgren says it is an “interesting concept”.

“We don’t have any plans to introduce it at the moment but as the technology evolves I have no doubt it will happen in the future,” he says

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How to choose the right motorcycle helmet

Tue, 18/04/2017 - 5:00pm

Motorcycle helmets are expensive so it is important to buy the right one for your budget, your head, your riding style and your confidence.

We have published many articles about helmets. Just go to the search bar on this page and type in “helmet” and you will find many articles which offer advice.

We have included links to some of these articles in our tips for buying the right helmet for you:

Make sure it’s legal

For the legality of helmets, check out this article.

In Australia, it either needs the silver Australian AS1698 or UNECE 22.05 sticker or a label on the chin strap with E1 (or any other number which just corresponds to the country in which the helmet is made).

There are many helmet standards around the world, but the most common is the Euro standard.

If you are in the USA, your helmet needs to be at least DOT approved, but it can also have other approvals such as Snell and Euro.

Type of helmet

There are many styles of helmet: Full face, open face, half helmet, motocross and modular or flip-up.

For maximum safety a full-face helmet is the best. Crash data from the aptly-named Hurt Report shows the most common area of impact on motorcycle helmets is the chin at 19.4%.

Icon Airframe Statistic motorcycle helmet shows impact areas by percentage

Avoid half helmets which are popular in the US and are surprisingly approved by Australian standards, but not European.

We can’t say what is the right type for you, but consider the advantages and disadvantages of full and open-face helmets.

Some people love the versatility of a modular helmet. They say they can flip it up and take photos, get fuel or use an ATM without having to take off their helmet.

They also say they can ride around with the chin bar up for fresh air when in slow-moving traffic. However, that is illegal unless the helmet has a chin bar that flips all the way to the back like the Shark Evoline.

However, be aware modular helmets are typically not rated as high in safety standards, are heavier than full-face helmets and, in our experience, tend to wear out quicker because of the complex hinge mechanism.

Check safety standards

A high price does not necessarily mean the helmet is safe, nor does a cheap helmet mean it is unsafe.

Check out this article which debunks those theories.

You will pay for “fashion”, too. A plain-coloured helmet may be $100 or more cheaper than the same helmet with racing graphics.

We also recommend you check your helmet’s safety rating on the industry-leading British Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) helmet ranking website. Not all helmets are rated.

One size does not fit all

Every helmet brand has a slightly different shape and every rider has a different shaped head.

There are some brands that just don’t fit right on me, while others are perfect.

Manufacturers make helmets for a worldwide audience, however it is claimed some Asian helmets have a flatter front with the visor closer to your nose.

If the helmet sizing is via a head measurement, run the tape around your head just above your eyebrows and at the pointy part at the back of your head.

The right fit

We suggest you don’t buy over the internet unless you have bought that specific brand and model before.

It is better to go into a store and try a helmet on to get the right fit. It should be tight all over with no movement when you shake your head.

But don’t just put it on for a few seconds. If you have the time and the store staff are obliging, put the helmet on and play a game on your phone or check your email for about half an hour.

It will take at least that long for pressure points to become evident.

Ask the store staff if they return helmets that have not been worn on a bike and not had the stickers or visor film removed. If so, take the helmet home and sit on your couch and watch a movie while wearing the helmet.

If it hurts, you should be able to return the helmet.

You may even offer to wear a thin hair net while sampling the helmet.

Helmet extras

Some extras to look for are good ventilation, Pinlock-ready visors to prevent fogging and the ability to fit a clamp-on Bluetooth unit or integrated unit such as on Nolan helmets.

There have also been some gimmicky ideas over the years such as a HJC helmet I have with pump-up cheek pads. It’s probably better to just get a helmet that fits correctly.

Look for helmets with removable and washable internal padding and lining as this will prolong the life of your helmet and make it smell fresh.

If you buy an open-face helmet look for three push-on buttons on the front so you can attach a visor or a peak which helps prevent lift at speed. Also, a clasp retainer at the back will stop your goggles coming off.

Goggle clip on a Hedon Hedonist helmet

Some helmets are noisier than others and you may want to wear earplugs, so look for a recess around the ears so they don’t become painful.

This recess can also be used for Bluetooth intercom speakers, although we have found that they are not always located correctly for all ears.

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