Well, this isn’t something you see every day. Motorcycle USA, Motorcycle.Com and Motorcycle Daily all have the same featured top story. Each of them have test ride reports for the new Kawasaki Ninja 1000. And they all seem to like it.
I’m curious to see how this bike will do in the US. The Z1000 on which the Ninja is based probably won’t sell well, because Americans really don’t like naked standards.
But the fully-faired Ninja is different. The power and performance of the Ninja 1000 slots it between the ZX-6 and the ZX10. So it has at least supersport performance. What is doesn’t have are the tortuous ergonomics. Kawasaki seems to have made it comfortable enough for touring, withut neutering the performance.
In recent years, sport bike ergnomics have gotten increasingly tortuous. The handlebars are low, requiring the rider to lay across the tank. The footpegs are high, to allow for extreme lean angles, but that means the riders knees are pulled up to massage the ribs. Nice for a track day or 20-lap sprint, but not so nice for a daily commute. and touring, of course, is right out.
What Kawasaki has done is created a motorcycle with the full-on performance of a sportbike, but a more upright, comfortable perch. Street performance can never really match track performance, so the race-inspired ergos aren’t really necessary. In most categories in which the Ninja 1000 competes against the ZX-10 in terms of street performance, the Ninja seems to be the equal, if not the superior bike, though the ZX-10 would undoubtedly stomp it on the track.
Kawasaki also has touring in mind for the Ninja 1000, offering full sets of color-matched hard luggage. It’s hard to imagine doing any serious touring on any of the ZX line. At least, not with an on-call masseuse and unlimited supplies of Tylenol.
It seems to have more than reasonable performance for the street–indeed, more performance than most riders can even use. At the time time, it’ll have comfort and touring capability that no pure race-bred sport bike can possibly offer. So, the question is, will American motorcyclists buy it? Or will they stick with the high-revving, pain inducing ZX line?
Honda is planning to unveils a new adventure bike at EICMA next week. This new bike is based on the new V-4 platform that is currently embodied only in the VFR1200F. Honda has been saying that this new platform will be the basis for a number of different motorcycles, and this new adventure bike will be the second. There’s only a sketch of it, no photos or anything else.
You can tell it’s an adventure bike, because it has a beak. Despite being an “Adventure” bike, Honda has indicated this will be an on-road bike. Other than that, we’ll have to wait for EICMA next week in Italy to learn more. So, I guess this doesn’t actually count as an unveiling yet, especially as the new bike probably will vary a fair bit from this sketch. In particular, the rear looks like they just slapped a CBR100RR rear end on it. Surely, for an adventure bike, those pegs will be thicker and wider. As always, I love me a single-sided swingarm.
What we do have firm details on, is the new CBR250R, an entry-level street bike that incorporates what appears to be a new design direction for Honda, following the controversial looks of the VFR1200F.
Note the multi-layered fairing and the frog-shaped headlight–design features shared not only by the VFR, but the adventure bike sketch above. I guess this is a look that will define the new generation of Hondas. In this case, the design is wrapped around a 250cc four-stroke thumper that puts out about 26HP through a 6-speed transmission. I really like the looks of this bike a lot, and it should be a great beginner bike, especially as this little guy also comes with optional ABS brakes.
KTM will be unveiling a new version of the 990 at EICMA next week. Although, since an official image got leaked today to Bikes in the Fast Lane, I guess it won’t be so much unveiled as confirmed.
This new version is known as the “Dakar”. See? it even says it on the tail, along with a catchy graphic of a fellow wearing a burnoose as protection from the burning desert sands.
It is also mind-numbingly–almost gloriously–ugly. The bodywork is a steel blue that is made hideously unflattering by the orange highlights of the frame, crash bars, and rear-views. from the front, it looks like some sort of monstrous, child-eating robot. I’m sure uglier bikes have been spotted for the 2011 model year, but not by reliable obeservers.
We also know nothing about the bike that can’t be seen in the photo. No specs, performance numbers, or anything else.
Just this threatening lump of blue and orange.
Usually, I am a lover of all types of motorcycles, and I usually like the angular nature of KTM’s design motif, but this thing just frightens me. I can’t imagine having it in my garage. I’d be afraid that late one night, I’d hear it repeating over and over, “I am Nomad. Sterilize.”
The Michigan State Police regularly puts current police motorcycles through a number of objective tests. The results of the most recent test are now available, and they don’t look good for Harley-Davidson. The MSP tested the BMW R1200RT-P, Kawasaki Concours14 ABS Police, and the Harley-Davidson Road King and Electra Glide police models.
Here’s a taste of the results:
Simply put, nothing that Harley-Davidson makes can match the performance of modern motorcycles in the police role. That’s not an opinion. That’s the objective result.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office just finished a round of similar tests, and the full report is shown below. In this case, the Kawi is not tested, but the Honda ST1300-P is. Results are similar, when considering the rather different testing methodologies. That report is shown below, in full.
Motorcycle USA has published its annual sport-touring shootout, but sadly, this time, two of the top contenders aren’t even being tested. Instead, the shootout is limited to just three bikes: The Kawasaki Concours14, The Triumph Sprint GT, and the Honda VFR1200F. The final results were…interesting, and I can’t say I agree, as the winning bike has some serious touring shortcomings. But I won’t spoil the surprise any more than that.
What I found more interesting was that both BMW and Yamaha refused to make their sport-touring bikes available. The BMW refusal to supply a K1300GT is understandable, as it’s a dead motorcycle, with the new K1600GT I-6-engined bike already announced as a replacement.
The lack of an FJR1300 in the line-up, however, makes me go, “Hmmmm.” I take it that this means that Yamaha is about to release a Gen III FJR, or an FJR replacement bike. Now, that really does interest me, because as an FJR rider on a daily basis, I really do like that motorcycle. But Yamaha has kept the performance pretty much the same for almost a decade, while BMW, Honda, and Kawasaki have all produced more horsepower-charged mounts. So, I’m fascinated to see what Yamaha has planned for the third generation of what used to be the gold standard of sport-tourers, but now is the most underpowered of them, except, of course, for the Triumph Sprint GT.
There’s been tons of speculation about what the Gen III FJR might be. Everything from an updated FJR1300 as hinted at by Cycle World:
To the rumored FJR1400 reported by the (not always reliable) French site, Moto Revue:
Both of these mockups are obviously computer-generated, and may or may not have anything to do with the actual motorcycle Yamaha actually produces. Of the two imaginary motorcycles, though, I prefer the imaginary motorcycle on the bottom.
Huh. This post ended up being about something entirely different than what it started out being about.
Motorcycle Daily has a new ride review of the “Baby ST”, Honda’s NT700V. This twin-cylinder light tourer–called the Deauville in Europe–is really less of a tourer than a mid-sized all-rounder with nice luggage capacity.
Comparing the NT to other motorcycles is a bit hard to do, since it really is a unique bike. It’s not as good looking or as fast as BMW’s F 800 ST, but it is less expensive considering the extras that are included in the NT’s base price, and would serve as a better all-around bike out of the lot. Compared to Suzuki’s V-Strom or Kawasaki’s Versys it’s a bit expensive, but then again it has superior creature comforts, shaft drive, and bags. This new import from Honda may just fill a niche that those bikes don’t; great for the more rational riders among us who are turned off by the idea of a 700+ pound touring bike or cruiser, and excellent for the novice or thrifty commuter looking for a usable, maintenance-free workhorse. Whether these riders come out of the woodwork to buy up NT’s by the boatload remains to be seen, but I can’t deny the bike is a pleasure to ride.
It seems like it might be a good choice for the beginning rider, or even the experienced rider who doesn’t put a premium on sport performance.
Compared to the way the world was when I was a kid, when helmets were optional, and leather vests & blue jeans constituted protective gear, we really do have a wide option of riding garments, protectors, armor, and helmets. The thing is, aside from the invention of some tough new fabrics like Cordura and Kevlar, protective gear remains mired in the mid-20th century. Helmets are still essentially a fiberglass shell with a styrofoam backing, while crash protection is some padding–even if the padding is gel–behind a hard plastic cover.
But in the past several months, that’s really started to change, and some new products are about to appear that constitute a real step forward in applying 21st century materials science to protective gear.
This helmet, designed by Del Rosario, is a completely new breakthrough that incorporates a radically new approach in helmet design.
The first layer of protection are gel inserts intended to to eliminate vibrations and other small forces that current helmet technology utterly ignores. While these kinds of forces are unlikely to cause injury, they do cause fatigue and discomfort.
The second layer of protection is a multi-layered laminate liner. Capable of flexing, crushing and delaminating, this liner can deal with a wider range of forces than a traditional styrofoam liner, which can only crush. Through the controlled destruction of this layer, a lower level of force reaches the helmet’s main level of impact absorption.
A carbon frame of arched members composes the Del Rosario helmet’s main safety mechanism. Through the magical power of science, theses arches can be precisely tailored to flex or break in a predictable manner, coping with both high and low energy loads.
Also notice the non-traditional, extremely aerodynamic lines.
Knox Labs has created the Kinesis line of armor, which incorporates a floating shell instead of the fixed shell in current armor offerings.
Kinesis is a revolutionary technology that mimics one of the most successful and natural safety systems which occurs in the human head. When the head is subjected to an oblique impact, the brain can slide along a membrane on the inner surface of the skull, which reduces the forces transmitted to the brain.
Similarly, Knox has created the Kinesis protector which has a ‘floating’ shell. When this is subjected to an oblique impact the shell moves relative to the core protector, creating an alternate load path for the energy. This significantly reduces the force transmitted to the body part in question.
But, that’s just the outer shell. There’s new goodness on the way from d3O labs for the gel backing, as well, in somewthing called “shear thickening gel.
Shear Thickening gel is soft and pliable as can be, right up to the point it is subjected to a sharp impact, at which point, the bonds between the molecules harden, instantly stiffening the material to distribute the impact. FirstGear is already implementing a line of motorcycle clothing that incorporates 3dO armor.
It’s nice to see such progress on all fronts after 50 years of stagnation in protection design.
The first official image of the 2011 Ducati Diavel has been released by the manufacturer.
You really do need to click on the image to see the full-sized version. Because what you can’t really see in the small pic above is that the rear section hides a little trunk in there.
About the only detail we know so far is that the Diavel uses the same Testastretta 11° 1200cc engine used in the Multistrada 1200. In the MTS, that engine outputs 150HP, but this is, remember, essentially the same 1198cc L-Twin that powers the 170HP 1198 sportbike, although the 1198 has a 41° Testastretta. In any case, the key takeaway is that the Diavel will put out at least 150HP. That’s less than the massive grunt of the V-Max, but 50% more power than the V-Rod.
And I bet it’ll be considerably lighter than both.
Triumph has released the first official picture of the new adventure bike they’ve been touting, the Triumph Tiger 800 XC.
Still no specs or details, other than that this is the off-road version that has a 21″ front wheel with knobbies. The more street-oriented version will have a 17″ front wheel and street tires. other than that, we’re still waiting on all the tech specs for these two models of the new Tiger.
Like all modern enduros, it has a beak, too, a la the BMW R1200GS. I still don’t know what BMW did to get that passed into law.
After taking a leave of absence from American shores last year due the economic downturn, Suzuki is back in a big way for 2011. In addition to the redesigned Gixxers I covered last week, Suzuki is bringing a new, fully-faired model of the Bandit to the US for 2011.
Introduced last year in Europe as the GSX-1250FA, Suzuki has done much the same thing with the Bandit that Kawasaki did with the Z1000, which is to transform it from a naked bike to a sporty, fully faired one–without the more tortuous ergonomics of the GSX-Rs, albeit with a little extra weight thrown in, too. But the main idea is to build a sportbike that can tour, like the Ninja 1000.
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC Inline Four Bore x Stroke: 79.0 x 64.0mm Displacement: 1255cc Compression Ratio: 10.5:1 Fueling: EFI Transmission: Six-speed Final Drive: Chain Front Suspension: 43mm fork, 5.1 inches travel Rear Suspension: Single shock, adjustable for preload, 5.4 inches travel Front Brakes: Dual 310mm disc, four-piston calipers Rear Brakes: Single 240mm disc, single-piston calipers Fuel Tank: 5.0 gallons Wheelbase: 58.5 inches Seat Height: 31.7 inches / 32.5 inches Curb Weight: 567 pounds MSRP: $11,599
In addition, Suzuki has unveiled the 2011 Cruiser line-up, of which, two new things stand out for me. The big-bore M109, with it’s unique, attractive, and modern styling cues now has a much more modern cockpit, with the instrumentation being tucked inside the cowling, rather than handlebar mounted.
The M109 is one of my favorite cruisers, in terms of styling, mainly because it looks like a cruiser that actually designed in this century, rather than back when Elvis was in the Army. The big 1800cc mill that poweres the thing isn’t bad, either.
Another standout item is that the new version of their smaller, 800cc cruiser, dubbed the C50T, comes fully set up for touring, with bags, windshield,and even a passenger backrest.
I suspect, however, that a small bike like this might get a little cramped with two-up riding over long distances. It’s a nice option for the single rider who wants to tour, without breaking the bank, though.