The Griso comes to America

Moto Guzzi Griso 8V SE

Moto Guzzi isn’t the easiest brand to find over here, and dealerships are few and far between. Yet, Moto Guzzi still has a dedicated fan base, who’ll probably be a little happier knowing the Griso 8V SE is coming to America. The Griso itself isn’t new over here, of course, but the SE model, with its distinctive styling, has only been available in Europe.

Some might say the engine looks a bit too…agricultural, and, well, I guess I’d be among them. The Griso’s air/oil-cooled 1151cc slant twin does put out a respectable 95hp and 73lb-ft of torque, which combined with the responsive steering and chassis will have you surprising supersports in the twisties–assuming you put on some stickier tires than the EOM Pirelli Scorpions. And that’s even counting the fact that, at 555 lbs–mainly thanks to a big, honkin’ shaft drive–it’s a bit on the portly side.

On the other hand, a day of canyon carving won’t leave you with a notched back and stiff knees.

Ride into the Danger Zone…

Motorcycle vs. passenger vehicle death chart

It’s a dangerous sport we’ve embraced, folks.  Indeed, looking at this graph, it’s hard to make any other conclusion. Motorcycle fatalities per passenger mile are 37 times higher for motorcycles than for cars.

What irks me about this report, though, is that we, as a community, don’t seem to be making it much safer.  Sure, there are cars that turn in front of us, or change lanes into us…I get it. In fact, my last crash was a guy that T-boned me after running a stop sign.

But I notice two salient facts from this report.

22% of motorcyclists that died in 2009 did not have a valid license.

If you’re riding without a license, there’s a couple of things that could be going on. You can’t ride well enough to pass the test. You don’t want to be inconvenienced with getting a license. But, I presume a significant portion of those people without licenses don’t have them because they got taken away after getting caught doing something stupid.  That doesn’t stop them, because…well…they’re stupid and/or reckless, and the odds caught up with them.

30% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved a driver with a BAC greater than .08.

Speaking of stupid and reckless.  If you tie one on and get on a bike, then you’re just a moron.

Overall, those two numbers tell us that somewhere between 30% and 52% of all motorcycle fatalities are stupidity-related. Frankly, I don’t have any sympathy for these people.  Good riddance.

Not only do they kill themselves, and cause their families pain, they make those of us who have licenses and don’t drink and ride look bad.

Just not drinking and riding would lower motorcycle fatalities by 30%. Maybe that would help stop other morons from arguing that motorcycles should be banned.

I’d like some tikka masala…and a Daytona 675, please

Triumph Motorcycles announced that they will be entering the Indian market in 2012. Marketwatch reports that the british brand plans to import bikes directly to India, rather than building them there. As India has a 100% tariff on imports, that’s going to make the Trumpets a bit less of bargain than they usually are.

Triumph is, however, studying the feasibility of opening a plant in-country–which seems like it would be necessary for any sort of long-term growth, considering India’s unreasonable import rates.

“India is a very important motorcycle market and Triumph has assessed it carefully before deciding to step in,” said Nick Bloor, Triumph’s chief executive. “We see it as the next step in our global business model.”

Triumph has appointed Ashish Joshi, the former head of European operations for Indian motorcycle maker Royal Enfield as its managing director for India.

Triumph currently has two manufacturing facilities in Hinckley, Leicestershire, and three in Chonburi, Thailand. It produces about 50,000 motorcycles each year, selling them in about 35 countries.

Taylor said Triumph has been getting several inquiries from prospective customers in India and plans to initially sell its motorcycles in six to eight cities in the country.

Triumph now joins the Big 4 and Harley-Davidson in India.

BMW K1600R?

Photoshop of a rumored BMW K1600R

Where would we be without new model rumors, and the photoshops that make them seem true, or, at least, plausible.

In this case, the rumor is of a coming roadster version of BMW’s new flagship sports-tourer, the K1600GT, which would be called the K1600R.  It would look something like the photoshop image here. Or not.

It sounds attractive. Still, there are some questions that would have to be answered:

But… The K1600GT starts at £15,300, a full £1800 more than the old K1300GT (which it effectively replaces, as well as superseding the mammoth K1200LT). Would it be possible to make a six-cylinder machine that could match, or even come close to, the K1300R’s £10,450 price? And would the bigger engine offer a significant advantage over the existing four? Finally, could a six-cylinder BMW out-pose and out-muscle the Ducati Diavel that’s scrambled the “big naked” market this year?

Having said that, BMW doesn’t really compete on price, much. and if they can pump up the power of the K16, the same way they did with the K13 for the S model, I can foresee a 180HP+ version making its way into the lineup as an S or R model.

I can dream, anyway.

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS

2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650

Suzuki has released the details–some of them  anyway–about the new V-Strom 650 ABS.

First of all, the ABS system is new, and is supposedly better and lighter than the old system. In addition, Suzuki has made lots of other styling changes and other tweaks.  The seat is a bit higher, although with optional lower and higher seats, you’ll have a wider range of choice and ergonomics now. The slightly smaller gas tank is also narrower between the knees.  The muffler is excitingly modern, as is the new composite resin luggage rack. The windshield is 3-position manually adjustable, too. New headlights and instrument cluster round out the redesign.

The powerplant is where some big changes come in. The displacement is still the same, but midrange power and torque has been increased with new cam profiles, and the use of single, instead of double, valve springs. Air cooling has been replaced by liquid cooling for the oil cooler. A new crankshaft and primary gear are said to smooth the engine out a bit. Fuel economy is better, too, with a claimed 10% improvement on gas mileage.

The US Market will receive the orange model shown here, as well as an all-black version.

The V-Strom has always been a highly regarded bike, and the new changes seem like an improvement to an already well-loved bike.

 

Performance Cruiser Smackdown

Motorcycle USA took the power cruisers out for a spin and then chose the one they liked best. In the running were the Victory Hammer, Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special, Triumph Thunderbird, Star Raider S, Suzuki Boulevard M109R, and Ducati Diavel. One of these bikes isn’t even a power cruiser–and was the slowest of the five–and still won.

The Diavel, by the way, got the highest score, 170/200, and the reviewers still didn’t pick it.