Another 800cc Naked Standard

2011 Yamaha FZ8
2011 Yamaha FZ8

The BMW F800S is not the the only 800cc European naked standard making its way to our shores this year.  Yamaha is following up with the FZ8.

The FZ8 is powered by a 779cc I-4 powerplant that puts out a reported 105HP and 61ft-lbs of torque, which is plenty peppy for an urban bike that weighs 464 lbs. The engine itself is derived from the pre-crossplane R1.

It’s nice to see the manufacturers bringing back a lot of these mid-sized commuter-capable bikes back to the US.  And who knows, with oil prices on the rise again, it might be the perfect environment to do so.

Technical Difficulties

It’s been very difficult to blog at all for the past several days.  Every time I tried to write a post, something kept preventing me from saving it to the blog.  The post about the new transmission a couple of days ago took about three hours to get up publicly.

It turns out my web host has installed a new firewall setup in the servers that interpreted my posts as SQL injection attacks on the web server and refused connection, based on some of the words or phrases in the posts.  Very common words like “alter” or “drop” are actually key words in the SQL language.

So, I was limited to slowly and frustratingly write small posts.  As of today, however, the web host tells me i should be ship-shape to post whatever I want via WordPress.  Sadly, tonight’s blogging is limited to this, as its 11 o’clock, and I’ve spent the last 6 hours going through the year-end accounting for my business.

I just hope that the next time I do a long post, I don’t learn that the firewall problem still exists!

BMW F800R Review

2011 BMW F800R
2011 BMW F800R

While many motorcycle companies have been struggling since the worldwide economic recession started in 2008, BMW has been fairing pretty well.  Part of BMW’s success has been coming out with bikes that don’t fit the mold of  “stodgy tourers for fantastically wealthy oldsters”, and appeal to younger, less affluent riders.  One of those bikes is the S1000RR sportbike that pretty much everybody has fallen in love with.

BMW seems to be getting it, marketing-wise. As Pieter De Waal, VP of BMW Motorrad USA, says, “When selling something nobody needs, you’d better give them a very good reason to buy.”

Following along in that vein, BMW has dropped the F800S from the 2011 lineup, replacing it with the urban, naked, standard F800R.  That bike has been available to Europeans for 18 months, but is now becoming available in North America.

Motorcycle.com has a full test report on the F800S, and they seem to like it a lot.

Is Honda’s DCT Tranny Obsolete?

The new Dual Clutch Transmission in the Honda VFR1200F may already be headed for the dustbin of history. So may manual transmissions on all motorcycles. A&R reports that British transmission gurus Xtrac have developed something called the Instantaneous Gearchange System (IGS).

IGS works by using a ratchet and pawl mechanism between the gear hubs, the main shaft is able to select and engage two gears simultaneously, with only one set of drive gears. With two years of racing on the Instantaneous Gearchange System already completed, Xtrac believes IGS is ready for prime time, and adoption in OEM automobile and motorcycle solutions.

So, there’s no need for a clutch lever. Simply pop the shifter button and the next set of gears seamlessly engage with no loss of power. As an added plus, it’s not only far less complex than the DCT system, it’s also far lighter.

Yamaha Star Stryker vs. Harley Davidson Rocker C

Yamaha’s Star brand of motorcycles recently joined the Harley-Davidson Rocker C and the Honda Fury in the factory chopper class with the Stryker.  In the cruiser world, of course, bikes in the US are pretty much judged on how they stack up against Harley-Davidsons, so Motorcycle USA pitted the Stryker against the Rocker C. The conclusion was fascinating.

For its better handling, smoother ride, more refined gearbox and a responsive engine, we give the 2011 Star Stryker the nod as the better all-around motorcycle. Its MSRP is $8500 less, too, which holds a lot of weight in these challenging economic times. In comparison to the price of the Rocker C, it also will leave you with money in your pocket for customization. Ironically though, both testers agreed that if they could own one of these bikes, they’d take the Harley. We both enjoyed the extra low end grunt and the superior fit and finish. The Rocker C is full of character that other cruiser manufacturers have yet to duplicate, from the pulse of its engine to the sound emanating from its pipes.

In other words, the Stryker is the better all-around bike, but the testers would pay almost twice as much to buy the Harley.

I guess I understand that, but for the same price, why not buy both a Stryker, and a Ninja 650 for those fun Sunday rides?

Hottest New Bikes

Motocycle .com lists their ten hottest bikes for 2011.  Among them are the new Ducati Diavel, Kawasaki ZX-10, and a bike that practically no one has even seen, the new BMW K1600GT.

I know that I’ll be seeing it as soon as they get one to California.

In addition, Motorcycle USA presents their annual Best of 2010 Awards.

Among other things, they list the BMW S1000RR as the Best Sportbike of the year.  I haven’t ridden one yet since a pure sportbike isn’t really my cup of tea, so I see no reason to subject myself to the tortuous ergos.  But I note that, while it won all of the MotoUSA shootouts, it hasn’t actually been the top bike on the WSBK circuit.

They also pick the Triumph Thunderbird as the best cruiser.  So, go figure.