It’s no secret that the recent worldwide economic downturn has seriously affected motorcycle sales, sending them plunging by a third. Now here in the United States, it’s become a common thing to see executives at big firms take huge bonuses, even when the company isn’t doing so hot. The most egregious example of this was when failed insurer AIG took billions of dollars in Federal money for a bailout of the company, then promptly paid off millions and millions in executive bonuses with it.
Apparently, things are different in Italy, where senior executives at Ducati, faced with slumping sales, did the right thing.
Senior executives at Ducati have taken a 10 per cent cut in their pay and will not receive any bonuses because of the decline, while [Ducati CEO] Mr [Gabriele] Del Torchio said he had taken a 20 per cent pay cut.
Let’s leave aside any legalistic or other arguments about whether the executives should be compensated or not. At the end of the day, when you’re cutting production, and laying off staff, it seems only right that the pain should be shared by everyone else in the company, all the way to the top.
Kudos to Ducati for setting an example of shared sacrifice.
If you live in bear country, you probably already know not to keep food in a car, because bears will tear a car apart to get at a box of donuts, or whatever. Now, it appears that even transporting food may be a problem. Especially in a motorcycle.
Wells and his wife had taken his 2004 Harley-Davidson motorcycle out to get a pizza for dinner. They put the leftovers in the tour pack on the back of the motorcycle for the ride home.
“We got home around six, took the pizza out of it right away and put it in the refrigerator,” said Wells.
Three hours later they heard something outside, near where his motorcycle was parked. Wells went outside to investigate.
“I came around and shined the flashlight and my bike was on its side and a bear cub was on top and another bear cub was behind it and the momma was right there too,” remembers Wells.
The bears ripped the tour pack apart trying to get to where the pizza at one time had been. In the process they did around $3,000 damage to the bike.
So, three hours later, just the 3 hour-old smell of pizza in this guy’s tour trunk was enough to get it seriously molested.
And you thought deer were a problem…
This weekend, the news and technology media outlets have been writing about the really cool custom electric chopper that OCC built for Siemens. And they all have the same picture of Paul Sr. riding the bike. The same one, actually, that I have, come to think of it.
Anyway, everyone seems giddy with delight about the whole deal.
Yes, it’s a chopper that can keep up with a Harley-Davidson “hog” at 100 miles per hour without even waking up a baby. And, because the machine is electric, it has zero emissions compared with most cycles, which pollute the air at about the same level as a car built in the 1980s.
As Paul Teutul Sr., the driving force behind the bike shop, steered it around New York’s Columbus Circle on Wednesday, the only noise was the sound of truck drivers honking their horns in admiration of the sleek futuristic bike. Mr. Teutul, wearing his trademark red sleeveless T-shirt, says that driving the machine is “awesome.”
Known as “Senior” on the show, Teutul built the machine over the past month for Siemens, the German engineering company. It wanted an “ecobike” that looked “real cool,” in the words of a Siemens company official.
Wow. Sounds cool huh? But, as with most things, the devil’s in the details.
Both Siemens and OCC were reluctant to reveal how much the bike cost. Jim Quinn, an engineer at OCC, says a “normal” chopper built by the company costs between $70,000 and $150,000, depending on the amount of work.
OK. So, let’s say north of 150,000, then. What a bargain. Oh, and did you read the bit above where it said the bike “can keep up with a Harley-Davidson “hog” at 100 miles per hour”? Well, that’s not exactly true. I mean the top speed is an indicated 100 miles an hour. Unfortunately, the actual speed in real world use averages out to slightly above 10 MPH.
Siemens claims the bike has a 60-mile range and a 100 mph top speed. An onboard charging unit can be plugged into any 110-volt socket to charge the bike in five hours…
Ah, so being generous, that means you can go 100 miles an hour for about 40 minutes, until you hit the 60-miles range limit. Then, you sit around for five hours recharging. So, 60 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes is an actual travel speed of 10.6 MPH. Heck, I work 26 miles away from my home. And considering that a good part of my drive is mountainous, twisty roads, I’m not sure it would get me to work and back with a 60-mile range, which I assume is under optimal conditions.
And that’s the kind of performance that $150k+ buys you with “Green Technology”. A bike you can out-walk.
Look, whatever urgency you may feel about saving the planet or whatever, “Green Technology” is, at the current time, almost completely useless in terms of building a usable vehicle. We keep seeing these zero-emissions bikes, and when you look at the details, it’s always a sub-100-mile range, and then hours of recharge time. No matter what hoopla surrounds the announcement, at the end of the day, its hoopla about a useless vehicle, that no one can afford to buy anyway, and if they can afford it, they can’t even leave town on it.
Someday, I’m sure we’ll all have vehicles with reactionless drives. And flying cars. And personal jet packs powered with dilithium crystals. But today isn’t that day.
Get back to me when you’ve got a clean motorcycle technology that gets me 200 miles on a charge, with a 5-minute recharge time.
They all said I was crazy, that no one was watching me. But they were wrong! I have proof!
I found this on MapQuest. Kinda cool to be able to point out your motorcycle from space, huh?
The annual march of media bike choices continues, with Motorcycle.com weighing in with thir top picks of the year. Their choices are interesting, and a bit different than I would have expected.
For the overall bike of the year, they picked the Triumph Street Triple R.
Best Sportbike honors go to the Kawasaki ZX-6R, with the runner-up being the Honda CBR1000RR.
The Ducati Monster 1100 gets the nod for best standard motorcycle, with second place going to the Harley-Davidson XR1200.
The best cruiser pick is the all new Triumph Thunderbird 1600, with the Suzuki Boulevard M90 taking an honorable mention.
The award for best touring bike goes to the BMW R1200RT, closely followed by the Honda Gold Wing.
BMW also take both first and second place spots for sport-touring, with the K1300GT winning, and the F800ST getting the honorable mention.
BMW stays in the winner’s circle for best off-road bike, with the top honors going to the F800GS, and the second spot going to the Aprilia SXV/RXV 5.5.
They also have picks for best eccentrics, scooters, technology, and more, so why not go there and read them?
Harley-Davidson has come up with a good idea, and it’s one that really should be implemented as widely as possible. The MoCo will be implementing the Harley-Davidson Fit Shops at dealers all over the country.
Dealership Fit Shop specialists work with current and prospective Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners to help customize the suspension, seat, handlebars and/or foot controls to meet their riding preferences. New riders may not realize all the customizations that can be made to a bike to make it a one-of-a-kind ride based on build and preference, while long-time riders may not know about the latest customization options. Any Harley-Davidson model can be customized to fit most riders.
Most motorcycles can be fit precisely to a rider, but most riders don’t do so. Most modern motorcycles have fully adjustable suspensions, and the idea is to dial in the suspension to match the rider’s weight, riding style, etc. Dialing in the suspension to fit the rider makes the motorcycle handle and ride better. But, all too many riders accept the factory stock settings, and ride off into the sunset, occasionally issuing complaints about how their bike wallows in the corners or whatever.
By taking stock of all the customization options, and having a trained specialist help each purchaser to dial in the bike’s settings to fit the individual rider, you end up with a more satisfied customer, who’s happier with his motorcycle’s comfort, ride, and handling.
And who knows, you may end up with a rider who is a little better educated about his bike.
Kudo’s to Harley for taking a step forward that dealers of other motorcycles would be wise to copy. Not only does it help make for a more satisfied customer, it also has positive implications for motorcycle safety. Big Four dealers should take a look at doing something similar. It would be a big help to their customers.
The September issue of Sport Rider has a head to head comparison of the BMW K1300S and the Suzuki Hayabusa. You can read it when the mag hits the newsstands, or you can read it in PDF Format here: BMW K1300s vs. Suzuki Hayabusa.
You might expect that the venerable ‘Busa would be the hands-down winner in a head to head comparo with a BMW. You’d be wrong. They rated the K13S higher in every category except transmission, where both bikes tied. They especially liked the more comfortable ergonomics, the anti-spin control, and the on-the-fly adjustable suspension.
Our cousins in the UK at Motorcycle news report that the new Honda V-4 bike has a lot more to it that previously thought. There’s apparently a lot of innovation in this new bike.
First up is the variable cylinder use. Instead of running in a V-4 and V-Twin profiles, the engine can also run as a triple. The ECU will select the use of two, three or four cylinders based on engine demand, and throttle input. So, the rider will get smoother transitions between the different cylinder use profiles, which should translate out to a broader range of usable power for the rider.
When in two or three-cylinder mode, instead of the non-working pistons being air springs, they will actually be running in vacuum. So, instead of losing power on the upstroke of the dead cylinder, the empty cylinder will actually serve as a vacuum assist for expanding the active cylinder during its power stroke. So, on net, you get a power increase for the working cylinders.
In addition, the engine, being a V-4, will inherently have the same crossplane effect that Yamaha has used to such rave reviews in its R1 sportbike.
Moving from the engine to the gearbox, the new bike will utilize a double clutch system, similar to the ones used by Porsche. The rider will be able to select three modes: Drive, Manual and Sport.
Drive mode will put the bike in charge of all the shifting. It’s essentially an automatic transmission for the motorcycle, and the emphasis will be on economy, with the ECU doing short-shifting to keep the bike in two- or three-cylinder mode.
Manual mode will put the rider in charge of shifting, but the twin-clutch set up will be used to anticipate the next gear change, so the rider can shift as smoothly and quickly as a race bike with a quickshifter.
Sport mode will once again put the ECU in charge of shifting. But this mode is designed to run to the redline in every gear, giving you peak HP–which is rumored to approach 200HP–and torque as much as possible, and allowing you to concentrate on steering the bike, cranking the throttle, and moving your butt cheeks back and forth to hang off as necessary.
And this new bike is just the beginning. Apparently, Honda has plans to build a whole new series of bikes based on this technology. This first bike will replace the VFR and, apparently, the ST1300/Pan-European. But beyond that, Honda is going to give us lots of biking goodness based on the new V-4 platform.
The only remaining question is whether or not we will see this bike in the 2010 model year or not. If we are, we’ll probably learn about it in the next 60 days. If it performs as Honda expects, then something like like this has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of what a rider should expect from a motorcycle.
I am really interested in taking a look at this bike.
The two-stroke motorcycle has long been replaced by the four-stroke. Now, Ilmore Engineering appears to have come up with a five-stroke engine. Ilmore does a lot of stuff in Indy Car, Formula 1, and MotoGP, so they aren’t some fly-by-night firm with a wild idea.
Although, it is a wild idea.
With dual camshafts and an asymetrical three-cylinder configuration, the Ilmor is more than intriguing with its design, and promises to bring real benefits both to the race track, and to road-use. Most notably is a 10% increased fuel efficiency, and 20% weight reduction in power-plant weight.
With its 700cc, turbocharged, prototype motor, Ilmor is able to extract 130hp and 122 lbs•ft of torque. To achieve this, the motor employs two overhead camshafts. One is a “high pressure” camshaft, which turns at half the crank speed, while the other shaft is a “low pressure” camshaft, which turns at the same speed as the crankshaft.
Yes, you read that right. A 700cc motor with 130HP and 122lb-ft of torque. Those are…interesting numbers. That’s what I call a real “Speed Triple”. You’d need to put a second mortgage on your house to pay off your tire bill, assuming you don’t just wheelie right over and turn turtle, killing yourself.
But, assuming those difficulties can be overcome, it sounds like a neat idea.
I‘ve been seeing this pop up for the last few days. Oberdan Bezzi is an Italian motorcycle designer. Sometimes his notions of what a future bike model would look like are just that: notions. But, he is a guy who has some hooks into the major bike shops in Europe, so, sometimes, he’s spot on.
In this particular case, the rumor is that BMW is working on a 12500cc successor to the current 1200cc boxer in their R-Series bikes. It would give the bike maybe, what, 10-15 more ponies, and an extra lb-ft or two? And, it would keep in tradition with past incremental shifts for the R-Bikes, from the 110 to 1150, to 1200. maybe it;s shave a few punds of weight off, too. I dunno.
If I was BMW, though, I’m not sure why I would. Instead, I think the move towards the HP2 boxer engine, with the dual overhead cams would be a better move. They already get 130HP out of that engine.
Of course, if you bumped up that engine to 1250cc, you’d probably get to 140+ HP out of it in the HP2 series.
And, lets’ not forget my previous trip down BMW rumor lane, which is that there will be a 1300cc HP2 boxer, and it will go into the RT and GS.
On my way home from work today, I had to make a few stops to pick up some things. One of those stops took me right past the Moto Forza Italian bike dealership, so, without anything better to do, I went in just to look around a bit.
They had your Ducatis, your Benellis, etc. They also had this bike. The very one you see pictured here.
It’s a 2007 MV Agusta F4 1000R. Unused. It has 9 miles on the clock. 174 HP. 82 lb-ft of torque. Sticker price…$14,999.
I told the guy I’d probably be getting an isurance settlement check in another month or so. He just laughed in my face, and said, “Oh, it’ll be long gone by then.” Thanks for the ray of hope, Ass.
So, how did they come by a new 2007 F4? Well, according to Moto Forza’s web site:
MV USA came up with a handful of new bikes that had somehow slipped through the cracks. Some were display bikes for trade shows, some bikes were used for promotional photographs, etc. This 2007 F4 1000R up for sale is one of these few bikes.
Some sorry SOB is gonna walk into Moto Forza in the next week or so and buy it. I hate him.
I just keep telling myself, “It’s got a archaic chain drive. This is 2009. What am I supposed to do, spend my Saturdays lubricating a chain like an animal? Who needs it?”
BMW recently announced that the new S1000RR superbike would be available for sale to the public in January, at a price that makes it very competitive with Japan’s Big 4. Now, it appears that this was part of an intentional strategy to go after the Japanese market share in liter-bikes. And they’re confident enough in the new bike to predict a 20% increase in sales–even in this shaky economy–and to let the Japanese know that the Bavarians are taking aim at them.
“We are going to take the Japanese head-on,” said Pieter de Waal, vice president of the company’s U.S. motorcycle operations, at an event last week in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
The motorcycle’s introduction puts BMW into a niche — informally known as “crotch rockets” — dominated by Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha Motor Co. and the Kawasaki brand owned by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. The four Japan-based companies have 88 percent of U.S. market share in the superbike category, De Waal said. BMW’s offering will be priced at $13,800, close to the four most popular competing motorcycles.
While it’s always good to see Germans in a buoyantly confident mood, some observers say, “Not so fast”.
“For BMW, which has always had a reputation of being a very high-priced motorcycle, it’s certainly a lot closer to the Japanese bikes in price,” said David Edwards, Cycle World magazine’s editor in chief. “That may be for some people a reason to consider it, especially if its performance lives up to expectations. But I don’t think you are going to see a mass exodus of Japanese sportbike riders going to BMW.”
Perhaps, but a lot of the liter-bike guys are crazy for motorcycle racing, and if BMWs race version can show up the Japanese bikes on the track, it can’t do anything but help their sales. And releasing the bike for public sale here in the US allows them to meet the homologation rules for AMA Superbike, so I’d bet very good money that we’ll see a BMW race team hitting the tracks next season. If you really want to take on the Japanese–and the Italians, by the way–that’s the way to do it.
Although, having said that, Buell proved a few weeks ago that, while the AMA may have rules about homologation, they aren’t, you know, fanatics about them.
A few months ago, in April, the May edition of Cycle World magazine (link unavailable, it was print) printed a rumor on page 24 that Harley-Davidson was working on a V-4 power plant for…something. Even Cycle World didn’t know:
Harley-Davidson is rumored to be working on a new V-Four engine. It is unclear whether the engine is for use in traditional H-D products and/or for Buell.
It was an interesting rumor, but nothing’s come out of it yet.
Now, there’s a new rumor floating around, which is that the MoCo is working on a brand new café racer bike.
There might be a pulse after all in the town of Milwaukee. A&R has gotten word that the Sultan of Slow is working on a cafe racer motorcycle, similar to the classic XLCR 1000.
If true (and not flubbed like the V-ROD), Harley-Davidson may have found the happy merger of maintaining its brand identity, and manufacturing a motorcycle for people that never owned a black & white television. We secretly hope this rumor is associated with the Harley-Davidson V4 rumor we heard not so long ago, but that may also then indicate Hell freezing over and the Earth collapsing in on itself like a dying star…
We’re always cautious about rumors here, and even more so when they involve H-D doing something right; so as usual, time will tell on this one.
I, for one, hope so. H-D has such a great brand with so much potential energy, that they could be a powerhouse in motorcycling, if they’d just step out of the 60s.
I‘ve whipped up more free Motorcycle themes for WordPress. They’re free for anyone who wants them. To download the theme, just click the screenshot.
I call the first one “Monochrome”. It’s done completely in grayscale–no color at all.
The next one is called “Kneeslider” because of the header image. It’s all done in Buff and Blue. I think It’s a classy theme. At the moment, a variant of this theme is what you’re seeing on the blog now.
The ambient air temperature read 87° as I pressed the starter switch on the blue-on-white Buell 1125R, and prepared myself for the slight possibility of fun.
I say “slight possibility”, because the restrictions that Biggs Harley-Davidson in San Marcos, CA had set on the test ride were stacked against any serious test of the motorcycle’s capability. First, I was restricted to riding a pre-defined route that would prevent any serious test of the bike’s handling. Second, I was required to ride behind an accompanying Biggs employee, who would be riding a…wait for it…Street Glide. Now the Street Glide is a beautiful motorcycle, but any casual listing of it’s outstanding characteristics would not include “Sharp, high-speed handling”.
I was told, however, that I was lucky to be allowed to take a test ride at all, because “the insurance company classifies them as ‘superbikes’, we we were lucky to allow anyone to take a test ride.”
And you can believe as much of that as you please.
Starting up the 1125R rewards you with a decidedly un-Harley-like, yet recognizably V-Twin rumble. It’s a fairly unique sound, and after thinking about it for a while, I decided that it sounds sort of like a WWII aircraft engine.
The first few minutes I spent in the parking lot, doing a couple of figure-8s, and playing with the low-speed handling of the bike. For someone like me, who rides at low speed using the techniques from the “Ride Like a Pro” series of DVDs, the 1125R is resistant to the trail-braking techniques. That’s because the rear brake is essentially useless. There is no feel whatever, and even a hard stomp on the brake pedal rewards you with…nothing.
This was a recurring feature of the ride, since I tend to use my rear brake a fair amount, and I had to adapt my riding style to essentially ignoring the rear brake and concentrate on two-finger front-braking. I use my rear brake and engine braking to scrub off speed when approaching corners, and the 1125R doesn’t reward that technique at all, though the engine-braking is quite acceptable.
Conversely, the front brakes worked very well. They were grabby, and had plenty of feel. And the bike didn’t stand up straight under light front-braking.
Getting onto the street, another adjustment I had to make was the use of the clutch. It takes hardly any squeeze at all on the clutch lever for it to fully engage, and the engagement and disengagement is fairly abrupt, due to the small amount of required travel. By the end of the ride, I had adapted to it, but it took a bit for me to figure out how to shift smoothly, and not apply to much RPM before the clutch engaged.
Ergonomics are described by Buell as “athletic”. I’d describe them as fairly comfortable in sportbike terms. They’re certainly more relaxed than I expected, and you can ride the 1125r without leaning on your wrists, and laying on the tank. You are crouched forward, and pegs are high, but not so far forward, and not so high that it becomes quickly uncomfortable. It may be a racing bike, but it is a bike you can ride.
Even at very low speeds, the exceptional balance of the 1125R never gives you the feeling that you’re about to fall over.On the street, the broad torque curve is forgiving, and the engine responds promptly in any gear. Unlike the long-stroke V-Twins on most cruisers, the high-revving short-stroke Rotax engine rewards throttle inputs with prompt obedience, the power is linear, and willing to surge higher at the flick of a wrist. While lofting the front wheel on the 1125R could be done with ridiculous ease, the power is easily tameable. It doesn’t get out of control, and doesn’t surprise you. It merely does what you ask, when you ask.
I’ve read several reviews of this bike, and many of them have mentioned buzzing and vibration at certain RPMs. As far as I could tell, it had typical V-Twin character, with buzzing and vibrations everywhere. I expected that, and I don’t really understand why anyone would complain about it. You can drop in as many counter-balancers as you want, but no V-Twin with ever be electric-smooth. That’s just not the character of the engine type. As far as I could tell, the Rotax engine really showed off a lot of the character that makes the V-Twin engine so lovable.
Having said that, it’s not a smooth bike. The vibrations do make the rear-view mirrors essentially useless at speed. But, if a glass-smooth engine and perfectly clear rear-view mirrors are your deal, then a V-Twin bike probably isn’t for you.
Doesn’t make you a bad person.
As we entered the I-15 from Escondido, I could see my minder from Biggs drop his elbow as he twisted the throttle for all his Street Glide was worth. With a very slight twist of the throttle, the 1125R stayed right in formation with him. I did, however, find the mild acceleration amusing.
The 1125R is not only very stable at highway speeds, the way the fairing directs the airflow was perfect for my 5″10″ frame. There was no buffeting at all, just a nice stream of clean air at the top of my chest and shoulders. Dropping into a slight tuck made even that go away. The fairing design on the Buell is quite effective, which would make highway trips far less fatiguing.
While the route we traveled contained no twisties, while we came back on the Old Highway 395, I did do a little playing with the bike’s response to body position. Putting weight on a footpeg, leaning your upper body, even looking and shifting a butt cheek puts the 1125R in the mood to lean. there were a couple of turns on our route, and when going through them, the 1125R was composed, and tracked like it was on rails. It effortlessly took a line inside that of the Biggs minder and his Street Glide, and stayed on that line like it was on rails. I had wondered whether the relatively steep rake and short trail would make the Buell twitchy in corners, and as far as I can tell from my limited experience, it doesn’t.
The only major drawback to the 1125R was the leaden ineffectiveness of the rear brakes.In fact, it’s very stable at all speeds, and in all conditions–admittedly limited ones–I subjected it to. Even at very low speeds, the exceptional balance of the 1125R never gives you the feeling that you’re about to fall over. You can crawl this bike along in city traffic at walking speeds, and never take your feet off the pegs. You don’t usually think of sportbikes as particularly forgiving or confidence inspiring, but the Buell 1125R is exactly that. That, combined with the more forgiving ergonomics, make it a joy to ride.
Heat management on the Buell 1125R can be described with one word: Nonexistent. That bothers some people. Meh. I live in the desert. Everything’s hot. So, the 1125R has no lower fairing to generate the nasty heat away from you. Man up and deal with it.
The only major drawback to the 1125R was the leaden ineffectiveness of the rear brakes. I didn’t like that at all. As far as other negatives goes, I did notice that the gear shift selector read “Gear: –” for the entire ride. And, while the analog Tachometer dominates the dashboard display, you tend to have to hunt for the digital speedometer. On a bike that can cause you to travel at license-losing speeds at the drop of the hat, a more prominent speedometer might be helpful. Finally, the switchgear on the handlebars look amateurish and clunky, and sport annoyingly bright colors. They look out of place on an otherwise well-crafted bike.
On the plus side, this is a genuinely fun and–in sportbike terms–comfortable bike to ride. It’s definitely not a beginner’s bike by any stretch of the imagination, but for an experienced rider, the Buell 1125R is versatile enough to use as a daily commuter at nice, sedate speeds, and a weekend hooligan bike for more…ahem…energetic riding.
I like it a lot.