Photochromic Visors on the Way

If you’re like me, you sometimes get irritated by bright sunlight when riding, so you want a darker visor.  But, as soon as you stick a dark visor on your helmet, you have to ride at night, or in heavy overcast, and you need to switch out for a clear visor.  Why can’t you have one visor that does everything?

Well, maybe you can.  ShieldTech LLC is partnering with Transitions–the people who make those eyeglasses that get darker as the light gets brighter–to release a new line of helmet visors (PDF) with the Transitions technology.  So, in dark conditions, the visor is clear, but as the sun climbs in the sky, the visor will automatically darken.

So, by summer, you should be able to get a photochromic visor for your helmet, as long as it’s a Shoei (RF1000, TZ-R, X-Eleven, Multitec), Arai  (Quantum, Profile, Corsair, Vector), or Akuma (Phantom) helmet.

Maybe it’s time to think about a new helmet, too.

2010 Indian Chief Vintage

2010 Indian Chief Vintage
2010 Indian Chief Vintage

Motorcycle.com got their hands on a 2010 Indian Chief Vintage for a ride review.  The pictures are nice, and, apparently, the bike is even better-looking in person.

Its acre’s worth of chrome was so flawless, we wondered whether Indian had found alchemists who’d replaced mere chromium with magically-applied liquid mercury instead. “This might be the best quality chrome on a production bike I’ve seen to date,” quipped Pete on the Chief’s high-luster shiny stuff.

Likewise, the leatherwork looked and felt like it had been produced by a high-end boutique. The seat is actually supplied by Milsco, the same Milwaukee-based saddle-maker that had outfitted early-1940s and later Indians for some time before the original company ceased production in 1953.

Alas, despite the beauty, there are also some blemishes.

Unfortunately, we can not compliment some of the other buzzes this bike’s engine induced. It visibly shook the tank, and audible resonation came possibly from the windshield – or maybe it was just the tank? In top gear at cruising speed with earplugs in, it was still audible. Specifically, the buzz began at around 2,600 rpm, and discouraged us from wanting to rev it anywhere near its 5,250 rpm redline.

After riding the Vintage on the highway, Pete said he felt like his feet might vibrate off the floorboards.

The 105ci V-Twin powerplant is rigidly mounted, and has no counter-balancers, which might account for the vibration problem.  Of course, it is a “vintage” model, so vintage design isn’t completely out of place.  and, besides, vibration is really in the butt of the beholder, right?

Well, maybe.  But when you’re riding a bike that costs as much as an Acura, you might want a little refinement in comfort to go along with all that liquid-mercury chrome.

California gets some company

Via Motorcycle Daily, it looks like California will no longer stand alone in the US in allowing lane-splitting.

So kudos to the Arizona legislature for honoring the Goldwater legacy of personal liberty tempered by individual responsibility with Arizona House Bill 2475. Introduced by Harley-Davidson-riding Representative Jerry Weiers (say “wires,” R-District 12), the bill will legalize, for a one-year probationary period beginning January 1, 2011, lane-splitting in stopped traffic. It will only apply in counties with populations greater than 2 million (according to 2006 population estimates, this is just Maricopa county, with the Phoenix-Glendale-Scottsdale megalopolis). The bill sailed through the Transportation committee (which Weiers chairs) and the House Rules committee, and has been read to the State Senate as well. It's looking like there is little opposition to the bill so far, which makes sense: those who lean to the left should like the message of encouraging the lower environmental impact of motorcycle transportation, and those on the right should appreciate the individual-rights angle.

I don’t like lane-splitting in moving traffic, mainly because here in Southern California, no-signal-no-looking-lane-changing idiots are likely to run you over.  On the other hand, I almost invariably lane-split at stoplights.  As long as you exercise reasonable prudence, it’s not a big deal.

Magpul Arms the 1125R?

Magpul Buell 1125R Ronin
Magpul Buell 1125R Ronin

Magpul Industries is best known for firearms like the Magpul Masada ACR, an infantry battle rifle–which is also becoming available in a civilian semi-auto version–firearms accessories, and the like.  But apparently, their design team has other interests as well.

At the SHOT Show, in Las vegas today,  Magpul unveiled the “Ronin”,  their aftermarket treatment of the Buell 1125R.  Apparently, Magpul is looking to producing a Ronin kit to convert the plain, vanilla, street version of the 1125R into a Ronin model.  So, if you have an 1125R, in the very near future, it looks like you might just be able to turn it into one of these, if the mood strikes you.

By the way, those two gun-barrel looking things poking out front are not integrated Magpul-desgigned submachine guns.  They’re just the high-intensity halogen headlights.

Yeah, I know.  I was disappointed, too.

First Ride: 2010 MV Agusta F4

2010 MV Agusta F4
2010 MV Agusta F4

MCN’s Michael Neeves has gotten his hands on the all-new MV AGusta F4, and his ride impressions are posted at Motorcycle USA.  He really likes it.  Really.

F4s were always lightning-fast, but never that friendly to actually ride and live with, but the new F4 is different – it’s the best superbike MV has ever made.

Taking the F4 for a spin on the heavenly roads surrounding Almeria race circuit in southern Spain to start our test day, it’s a pleasant surprise to feel how easy it is to get on with. Gone is the harsh throttle, rough ride and a seat that trapped you resolutely between the tank and tail unit of the old bike. In its place is a seat you can move around in, spaciously-set clip-ons, a flawless throttle response, smooth gearbox, light controls and tactile brakes…

The Italian firm has smoothed out all the old F4’s rough edges and created a thoroughly usable superbike for the road. Relatively, it’s still not as soft or cuddly as a Japanese 1000 and probably not as easy to get on and ride, but it has considerably sharper teeth and is a thousand times more exclusive and handsome.

The F4 was always wicked fast, but it was a difficult beast in just about every other area.  But, now, it looks like MV Agusta may have finally found the F4’s stride.

Buell 1190RR Breaks Cover

Erik Buell Racing has a facebook page with pics of the the new 1190RR being prepped for shipment to a racer in Germany.  It’s a nice looking bike.

Buell Racing 1190RR Buell Racing 1190RR Buell Racing 1190RR Buell Racing 1190RR

Erik Buell can’t build streetbikes until February 2011, according to his non-compete clause with Harley-Davidson, so you won’t see one of these screaming up the street any time soon.  But, clearly, there are things going on at EBR that might betoken some future streetbike model.  And I’m sure that there are a number of people who’d like to speak to Eric Buell about opportunities as soon as they are legally able.

What I find really interesting here is that motorcycle didn’t just materialize out of whole cloth.  I mean, all du respect to Eric Buell as a motorcycling genius or whatever, but I find it hard to believe that the 1190RR’s motor just materialized out of thin air between the time Harley dumped Buell and now.  It hasn’t even been a year yet. So, it seems to me that this was a concept that had to have been on the drawing board prior to the Buell shutdown.

Harley Marketing to the Perv Community.
Harley Marketing to the Perv Community.

Jebus Cripes, that decision still doesn’t make much sense to me.  Imagine what the response would have been to an American sportbike in the same performance class as a Ducati 1198 or Aprilia RSV4.  For a company that became a textbook business school marketing case study for the way they sold the Harley “lifestyle” to the baby boomers, they are slack-jawed morons when it comes to marketing to the younger biking community. I mean, just look at this Harley ad.

That’s your baby-boomer wet-dream right there.  Old men getting married to under-18 girls.  Great image to put in your advertising, MoCo.  Classy.

Not that anybody believes a 17 year-old girl would f*ck that hairy pervert.

But, that’s Harley-Davidson for you.  They are so focused in on the baby-boomers that they just don’t seem to have a clue about how to reach out to anyone younger.  They can build all then trikes they want, to keep their geriatric customer base riding along for a few more short years, but without learning how to hook up to younger riders, they are going to face trouble in another 10 years or so.

And they already had a brand in Buell that they could have built into a sportbike–and maybe a racing–powerhouse…and they just threw it away.

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Don’t Let the Door Hit You in the…

BMW is very proud of their new, hyper-powerful literbike, the S1000RR.  They put a WSBK racing team together as soon as they could, and they figured with the awesome RWHP (185HP, dynoed stock) of the machine, they could make the brand shine in motorsports.

Ruben Xaus displays his inimitable riding style at Philip Island
Ruben Xaus displays his inimitable riding style at Philip Island

Sadly it hasn’t quite worked out that way.  Troy Corser has been notably absent from the platform since 2009.  Meanwhile, Ruben Xaus seems to be the designated BMW crash test dummy.  Somehow, he managed to crash four–count ’em, four–S1000RRs at Philip Island, then sat out the race itself.

So, the rumor is that BMW is just about ready to dump him from the team, presumably replacing him with someone who can manage to a) stay on the motorcycle, and b) keep the motorcycle from rolling over like a weasel and exposing its softer bits.

The thing is, Ruben’s a Spaniard, so they probably don’t want to get rid of him yet, as the Valencia and Portimao circuits, held in Spain and Portugal respectively, are coming up.  So, Ruben’s expected to be a big draw there, among the home crowd.

So, the word is, they’ll wait until after that to drive him off the team like some sort of poison troll, sometime in mid-season.

But, who knows.  These rumor things are always sketchy.  It could be some disgruntled factory tech mouthing off.  Or it could be that Xaus has a very short time to get his act together, before he’s back in Valencia, selling oranges to tourists.

*sigh*

I really had high hopes for the S1000RR after all the hype it got.  Oh, well, maybe Troy Corser will win in Portimao.  Maybe Xaus will win in Valencia.  Maybe swine will streak through the sky like eagles.

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2010 Ducati Multistrada First Rides

I‘ve never been a big fan of Ducati.  I don’t dislike them, and they make some very fine-looking–and performing–motorcycles.  They just don’t personally appeal to me all that much.  Not that I’d turn one down, you understand…or even a chance to test-ride one.

But they do have a loyal following, and one of their much-beloved models, the Multistrada, got a complete overhaul for this model year.  The new Multistrada 1200 has has generated a lot of excitement during the wait for its release.  Now, the wait is over, as Motorcycle Daily’s Basem Wasef and Motorcycle USA’s Adam Waheed have both gotten a chance to ride the new Multistrada, and jot down their experiences for us.

Wasef concludes:

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman still wouldn’t pick the plucky new Duc for a hypothetical third ’round-the-world journey. But for the rest of us whose primary milieu is pavement with a touch of dirt, the Ducati Multistrada 1200 is an impressively well-rounded sport adventure tourer whose available electronic aids make it ready to tackle more rugged trails than you might expect. Considering the Italian manufacturer’s image is so laden with historical baggage-both good and bad-the Multistrada 1200 challenges the past, and redefines the essence of the Ducati brand.

Waheed concurs in his judgement:

Coming into this test, I had lofty expectations of Ducati’s new do-it-all two-wheeler. And after spending only a few hours aboard the bike, I quickly realized it was everything I thought it would be and then some. With the tap of a button it’s as sporty or as docile as you desire; it’s in its element blasting around a corner with the engine roaring at lean, or just quietly soaking up the countryside on a backwoods highway. The Multi somehow manages to be both comfortable and sporty, plus has realistic cargo capacity when you feel the need for an adventure coming on. It actually works for mild off-roading and its pavement-based rider aids (ABS and DTC) only increase its off-road potential.

The new Multistrada 1200 is a big – no, scratch that – humongous step forward for Ducati. It’s mainstream enough for any rider to appreciate, yet still retains that wild, rip-roaring Superbike pedigree that we know and love.

So far, the response to the Multistrada 1200 has been unanimously positive.

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Michelin Pilot Road 2 Tire Review

This weekend, I took the FJR in for its 24,000 mile service, and while I was there, decided to try a new set of tires.  I’ve heard lots of good things about the Michelin Pilot Road 2CT tire, but the price was a bit offputting.  So I’ve been on Bridgestone BT021s since I bought it.  North County House of Motorcycles has a good deal on the PR2s, however, so, I decided to try them out.  I’ve only put about 100 miles on them since I picked the bike up Saturday evening, but I have to say…wow!

The difference in handling was immediately noticeable.  With the BT021s, the FJR had to be pushed a fair amount to drop into a turn.  Steady as a rock once you found your angle, but a little effort was needed.  Not so with the PR2s.  Simply moving your upper body, and shifting on the seat is enough to initiate the lean.  In fact, it falls in so easily, I still haven’t gotten used to it.

What really saurpises me is how grippy they are, though.  As I was riding back home, I was racing against an incoming rainstorm…and I lost.  About 10 miles from the house, riding down Highway 78 in San Marcos, I got hammered with a downpour.  I never got the feeling that I was anything less than firmly planted, even with less than 10 miles on the new tires.  Indeed, at one point, a car in front of me slammed on his brakes, and I applied mine firmly–fortunately, I was hanging back far enough so that I didn’t have to panic stop–and the tires performed flawlessly.

So far, I haven’t pushed it really hard, even on the curvy route I take to and from work, but the Pilot road 2 has so far exceeded my expectations.  I’ve been told the BT021 is a grippier, sportier tire, so we’ll see how the PR2 works when I start to really blaze through the valley road, but so far, I’m very impressed and pleased with the Michelins.

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