Norton at Bonneville: Day 7

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He came close, but on the final day’s run, Norton CEO Stuart Garner wasn’t able to crack the 175MPH barrier on the salt flats.  On the final run, the NRV588 matched the 173MPH run of the previous day.  But, the Norton team feels fine about what they accomplished.

Stuart has been remarkably consistent, and let’s face it, 173 mph for a 566cc lightweight racer on the new and strange salt-flat surface is nothing to be ashamed of in any way.

We’ve succeeded in all we set out to do. Stuart has used the opportunity of coming to Bonneville to cement an agency arrangement for the new Norton 961 Commando with Sam Capri’s South Bay Motorcycles, and their assistance at Bonneville has been invaluable, not just in the logistics, but in building an excellent rapport with the team there.

The NRV588 has proved to be a potentially potent force, and not disgraced itself in the slightest – Tony has had almost sod-all to do all week. An occasional oil-change, a daily clean-down to get the salt off, a regular oiling of the chain that tightens as the salt works its way into the rollers, destroying the ‘O’ rings link-seals, fuel top-ups and one wheel change. Howzat for a trouble-free racer, then? There are many, many at Bonneville who would swap their reliability records for ours.

Well, that sounds good then.  So, when can we expect to have the NRV588 available for sale in the United States?

New 2010 Hondas

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Honda has announced four motorcycles–two of them completely new for the US market–for the 2010 model year.  The other two are the 2010 updates for the Fireblade and CBR600.  But it’s the new bikes that should grab some attention.

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom.
2010 Honda Shadow Phantom.

First up is the Shadow Phantom.  Just as the Fury gives Honda a factory chopper, the new Phantom is a factory “dark custom” bobber.  Powered by a 754cc V-Twin with Honda’s new sophisticated Programmed Fuel Injection under the hood, the exterior is all old-school, down to the black wire wheels, and fat front tire.

Most of the engine and body work is blacked out, leaving some chrome on the forks, pipes and rear brackets for a nice accent.  I’ve always thought the Honda air cleaner looked like a chrome tumor on their bikes, but this blacked out version is far more acceptable.

I’m not generally a big fan of Honda cruisers, but this new dark custom is not a bad-looking bike at all.  I guess with Harley-Davidson making a mint on the whole dark custom look, Honda decided to get in on the act, too.  They’ve done a great job with this bike in doing it.

Oh, I guess I’d quibble a bit about doing it on a 750cc bike instead of one of the big twins, but other than that, I give this one a thumbs up.

2010 Honda NT700V
2010 Honda NT700V

The next bike is another sub-1000cc bike aimed for the commuter and light-tourer.  The NT700V is the little brother of the big ST1300 touring bike.  Everything on the NT700V is cut down in size from it’s big brother..but it still has the tip-over wings that the ST guys love so much.

Unlike the ST, the NT has an interesting feature to its saddlebags:  There’s a pass-through space between them, which allows you to put some fairly large items inside the luggage area.  That’s kind of a neat idea.

This is not, by the way, actually a new motorcycle, it’s just new to the US market.  European riders have had access to the NT for a decade now, but Honda has decided to bring the bike to this side of the pond.

It’s powered by a 680cc V-Twin, so it might be a little anemic for two-up riding, but it would probably make a great light tourer for a single rider.  And, coming in at just under$ 10k for the base model, the price is pretty good, too.  ABS brakes are available for another grand.

2010 Honda CBR1000RR
2010 Honda CBR1000RR

The remaining two bikes are updates of Honda’s CBR-series sportbikes.  New for 2010 is a black and orange paint scheme for the Fireblade.  It’s also got the Honda Electronic Steering Damper that increases damping as speed and acceleration increases.  It’s also available with Honda’s racing ABS braking system as well.

The CBR100RR is a top-flight sport-bike, and Honda is carrying on the Fireblade’s venerable tradition in the 2010 model year.

2010 Honda CBR600RR
2010 Honda CBR600RR

The CBR600RR also gets a bit of a facelift for 2010, with some of the Fireblade’s color schemes also available for the 600cc model.

Like the CBR1000RR, the 600 also has an available option for Honda’s racing ABS system.

The pricing and availability for the two CBR models has not yet been announced by Honda.

I Got a Ticket?!

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Some times, the day just starts out wrong.  Today was one of those days.  When Chris came back in with the mail this morning, she handed me a letter from the 91 Express Lanes, the agency that runs the toll portion of State Route 91 between Riverside and Orange counties.  Inside was a notice that I had been cited for riding my motorcycle in the express lanes last Saturday night, just before 10 PM.

Now, to my certain knowledge, I haven’t been on State Route 91 at any time since I moved to San Diego county in 1999.  And even if I had, motorcycles get to travel free in the 3+ express lanes at all times except the eastbound side during the afternoon drive time on weekdays.

Not that it matters.  Last Saturday night, my chick and I were watching Season 2 of Lost on my XBox through Netflix.  I didn’t even take my bike out of the garage on Saturday.

So, now, I have to write a letter and mail it to them, requesting a review.  And if they still say I owe them for the violation, I have to pay the ticket and a deposit to get a second administrative review.  And if that still comes out against me, I have to file an appeal in Superior Court–along with another deposit–and get a court date.

How does a motorcycle even get a ticket for using the express lanes at 10PM on a saturday?  It’s toll-free for motorcycles!

So now I have to deal with these idiots for the next two months.