My Dream Sports-Tourer?

This last weekend’s crushing disappointment over having my offer for that 2005 ZZR1200 rejected and my jotting down of some motorcycle perspectives came at about the same time. Because, in considering the ZZR, I’ve been thinking about the bike I really want to have.

If I could have a dream sports-tourer, it would have the following characteristics:

  • Wet weight: under 600 lbs.
  • Great handling
  • Hard bags
  • 90lb-ft of torque and 140+HP at the rear wheel, enough to give me a 1/4 in the mid 10s.
  • Good wind protection, including an adjustable windscreen.
  • Handlebars that allow easy mounting of electronics.
  • Heated grips
  • 2 aux. 12-volt electric outlets
  • ABS

Give me that, and I’ll happily live with a chain drive to save weight.

But what I think I’ve actually just done is designed a K1600GT with a chain drive. Let’s see, wet weight, 703 lbs…

Yeah. That’s what I did.

Huh.

Maybe that extra 100 lbs isn’t a deal-breaker.

Oh, speaking of the new BMW K1600 bikes, BMW released the prices today.  $21,000 for the GT, $23,000 for the GTL. Compared to the inflated price of a Gold Wing, that $23k for the GTL is a steal.

The Diavel’s Big Rear Tire

A few days ago I noted that the big 240-section rear tire on the new Ducati Diavel seemed like it would make handling a bit less fun.  But lots of reviews from European writers say it’s fine. New Diavel ride reviews are in from Motorcycle USA and Motorcycle.com, and both of them bring the subject up in somewhat different terms.

Motorcycle USA’s Bart Madson writes:

[T]he Diavel is probably the best-handling fat rear we’ve ever sampled.

But that’s somewhat damning praise, as there are inherent issues with the rear. Some in our journalistic riding troupe vocalized zero flaws, but we noted a hinky sensation on low-speed maneuvers. Sharp hairpins exhibited a flopping sensation when pitching over. Quick transitions, more noticeable at lower speeds as well, also delivered an awkward feel. The 240mm rear didn’t have us bitching and moaning as a deal breaker by any means. It just left us wondering what that Diavel could been had it been delivered with a more conventional tire choice.

Motorcycle.Com’s Pete Brissette echoes the sentiment, somewhat more technically:

The big rear tire works for me as part of the Diavel’s styling; however, the rear tire’s low-speed handling performance doesn’t work quite so well for my tastes.

Initial turn-in response is neutral; transitioning from upright to three-fourths lean is a fairly smooth, linear-feeling process. But it’s the last little bit of lean you might initiate to complete the turn that results in a “falling in” sensation, as though the tire’s profile is more triangulated than it appears.

As I rolled into the throttle to power out of the apex of a turn, the bike would sometimes exhibit a front-end “push” – like the rear of the bike was chasing the front – depending on the radius of a turn and camber of the road.

This is not to say the Diavel’s handling isn’t light-years better than just about any cruiser you can name, but it’s not as good as any other Ducati you can name either.

Ultimately a 62.2″ wheelbase, and 240 rear tire are what they are, and the effect on handling is ultimately insurmountable. Geometry and physics are pretty unforgiving taskmasters. On the other hand, though, handling that isn’t quite up to snuff in Ducati terms probably equals vastly superior handling in, say, V-Max terms.

Actually, remove the word “probably” from the previous sentence.