Dear Triumph: Build this!

six-monkees-daytona-1050-530x384This comes to me via the Kneeslider. It’s a Triumph Speed Triple, modified by a German outfit called Six Monkeys. Yes, that’s a Daytona 675 fairing. It’s also got some other tricked out bits.

It’s also a very cool Speed Triple conversion, and I’d bet it’s fun as hell to ride.

The question I have is, why isn’t Triumph building one of these. I mean, the Daytona is a nice Supersport, but a fully faired…let’s call it a Daytona 1050…would be a sharp motorcycle.

And, after all, some of prefer our bikes to have a fairing and a bit of wind protection.

A bit of light farkling

wG8QI mentioned in a previous post that the beautiful paint job of the VFR’s tank was a bit delicate. I have solved that problem with some new tank protectors.

If you look at the full, high-res pic, you’ll see that the rear Rascal Grafik tank protector, while beautifully color-matched to the Honda paint scheme, is color-matched to the CBR-RR paint scheme, not the VFR one, but it’s close enough for government work.

Another CBR item that I’ve re-purposed for the VFR are the Stomp grip pads. I’ve put the clear knee pads on the sides of the tank, where they’re supposed to go, but I’ve additionally re-purposed the black ones to protect the front of the tank, in the cutouts where the handlebars go when turning the wheel sharply.

You can also see the Crampbuster at the end of the throttle—the little dealie that allows you to use your palm to twist the throttle–which is an additional little comfort thing I like. It allows you to manipulate the throttle without having to grip it tightly, for a more relaxed hand.

All of these items were purchased this past weekend, when I finally took the bike in for my rain-delayed 600 mile service.

Yes, she’s out of the break-in period, with 1160 miles on her now, which brings me to the most disappointing thing about the VFR1200.  It BEGS you to…do things. Awful, illegal things. Adrenaline-surging, V-4 growling things. Things you absolutely, positively, cannot do. It is a minute-by-minute struggle not to lay my palm heavily on the Crampbuster, feel and hear that growly V-4 and take off like a rocket. 100MPH on the VFR 1200 is nothing. It’ll do that in third, with plenty of top end to spare before redline. It is positively painful to obey traffic laws on the VFR in a way the FJR never was.

And I live with that pain every day.

Review: Freeze-Out Zipped Gilet and Inner Glove Liners

Cycle Gear is running a sale on their Freeze-Out line of motorcycle under layer clothing.  I picked up the zipped jacket gilet and the inner glove liners.  Cycle Gear’s web site touts this line of gear with the following description:

FREEZE-OUT® utilizes cutting-edge membrane laminate barrier technology to block wind and retain warmth while allowing internal moisture to escape. Brushed poly interior facilitates moisture transfer and is supremely comfortable. Thin and light with flat-lock seams to layer easily under riding apparel and equipment. Extend your riding comfort with FREEZE-OUT® accessories.

giletI guess it does all that, but you should be clear. This is not a replacement for the thermal or quilted liners that come with your outer gear. It is an additional thermal layer. If you need a lighter liner than the stock one, it’s OK, but it’s not best suited as a cold-weather replacement for that stock liner.

It’s actually a pretty cool little jacket for 30 bucks. It’s relatively tight-fitting, but comfortable, and is a nice fleece inside. I’ve taken to wearing it as a light jacket after I get off my bike. It’s got a techy, futuristic look, and I’ve gotten several admiring comments on it. Worn as an additional underlayer, it does keep you pretty toasty in the 30-degree range. Otherwise, the "barrier technology to block wind" sounds better than it actually is at highway speeds.

The tighter fit, however, allows it to fit well under your regular jacket/liner, and adds a comfortable thermal layer that’s not too bulky, and keeps you warmer. Another nice feature of the gilet is that the arms both zip off, leaving you with a thermal vest, instead of a full liner.

Likewise, the inner glove liners are fine for some extra warmth under a good set of windproof gloves. I tried them out with my perforated leather sport gauntlets, and they didn’t seem to help all that much.

Used as intended, however, they are both adequately good at what they are designed to do, which is to provide a good, additional, thermal underlayer to your regular riding gear.

The best thing about them is the price, which is under $30 for the gilet, and $15 for the glove liners. The second best thing about the gilet is that, when you get off your bike, you can wear the gilet as a comfy jacket, and it gives you a cool, "I’ve come from the future" vibe.

In a positive, Star Trek way, not  a dystopian, 12 Monkeys kind of way.

Motus: It’s on!

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Motus Motorcycles, a new company, making motorcycles with a proprietary 1650cc V-4 engine, says that at least 8 dealerships will receive the two Motus models in the summer or fall of this year.

The MST model is the sport-touring version shown above. It will boast 165 HP, Öhlins front suspension, and Givi hard bags. The MST-R is the sportier, 185hp roadster version, sans bags, full Öhlins suspension, and other performance goodies. List price for the MST starts at $30,975, and $36,975 for the MST-R.

A bit pricey, but you get what you pay for, I guess.

Riding Gear Review: Olympia Moto Sports GT Air Transition Jacket & Airglide 3 Mesh Tech Overpant

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m an ATGATT guy. I put on all the gear every time I ride, and I ride every day, a minimum of 50 miles. So riding gear is kind of important to me.

Because I ride a motorcycle as my primary transportation, my gear has to be relatively tough, and, considering the expense, durable and reliable. So, when it came time to toss out my 4 year-old set of riding togs last week, I went immediately to the BMW dealership, where the more high-end apparel is readily available, and picked out a new Olympia Moto Sports GT Air Transition Jacket and Airglide 3 Mesh Tech Overpant, both of which are textile items, made from 500 and 2000 denier Cordura® fabric. They are both provided with removable CE armor as well.

(Click on the pictures to see high-res versions)

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I’ve personally crash tested Olympia riding gear on the street, so I know it works. It didn’t prevent my big toe from getting broken, however. But the rest of me came through with nary a scratch, no thanks the driver of the transportation van for the handicapped, who decided stop signs didn’t apply to him.

But, I digress.

The pants are pretty straightforward, so I’ll tackle them first. The Airglide 3 Mesh Tech Overpant is an armored mesh pant with hard, form-fitting knee armor and soft hip armor. The knee pads are not a single hard outer shell with a foam backing. Instead, the armor consists of connecting hard plastic, squarish "bubbles" with a gel backing. Take them out of the pants, and the knee pads lay flat. When worn however, the pads wrap themselves around your knees, and fit to the countours. IMG_6783The pants have a wide adjustment area, so the pads can be moved up or down the leg approximately 8 inches, which should assure knee coverage for just about anyone. One neat idea they incorporate is that the hard plastic actually has a velcro cover, so when you move the knee armor to the desired position on the leg, there is velcro sewn inside the armor pocket to secure the kneepads where you put them. The hip armor is simple memory foam padding, sewn into pockets on each side of the pants.

Unlike my old set of Airglide pants, the removable nylon liner, while water and windproof, is not, sadly, insulated. Still, it is a mesh pant, and I live in Southern California, so really cold temperatures are pretty rare. And, really, it’s only suitable as a summer pant for most regions, anyway.

The zippered front pockets and capacious snapped rear pockets will hold just about anything you might ask of them on a motorcycle. I especially like the fact that, unlike other brands of pants I’ve tried, the side zippers go all the way up to the waistband, which makes getting into and out of the pants a breeze, even with the big, clunky, felt-lined, Czech army jackboots I wear in the winter.

The waist has expandable gussets as well as a two-position snap closure. This, along with the well-anchored belt loops, make the pant suitable for wear without street clothes underneath, if you’re feeling sufficiently naughty.

Unlike the pants, which, while of excellent quality, are fairly simple, the GT Air Transition Jacket is much more complicated and feature-filled.

Like all of the Olympia Moto Sports "Transition" line of apparel the outer shell of the jacket has panels on the front and back that zip away, and can be folded down into integral pockets during warmer weather. When zipped up, each panel contains an additional zipper in the middle of the panel, which turns them into rather large breast pockets. When zipped up, the top of the outer panels are secured under the yoke with long velcro closures, making them relatively secure pockets as well. When unzipped and folded down into the integral pockets, there is reasonably good airflow across the chest. Similarly, the arms have zippered vent closures that open up to expose more mesh for extra airflow around the elbow and shoulder armor.

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There are waist, chest, and arm adjustments to make the jacket looser or more form-fitting, as desired. The adjustment straps have snaps for the chest, while the arm and waist adjustment is velcro, as are the wrist and neck closures.

The jacket I bought, as you can see, has hi-vis orange panels along the yoke, the sides and the arms, though those looking for more subdued colors can find them, as well as those looking for hi-vis yellow. All colors, however, are trimmed in Scotchlite® reflective piping across the yoke, across the waist, and down the arms, with an additional large patch of it at the rear of the neck.

Armor at the shoulders, elbows, and forearm consists of the same type of hard plastic/gel system employed in the pants, making the armor both form-fitting and comfortable. The jacket also has a back protector, which consists of a hard protector sewn into the back of the inner lining, as well as additional foam pads sewn into the outer shell.

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The jacket also comes with a two- piece, removable inner liner. As you can see from the picture, the liner consists of a water- and wind-proof outer shell, and an insulated liner that snaps into the shell. As such, you can remove the insulated liner for warmer days, while keeping liner shell in the jacket for wetter days.

One extra plus to this two-part liner is that the layering makes it significantly warmer than an insulated liner alone. So, it can do service in temperatures down into the 30s. Even without the liner, the outer shell of the jacket is wind-resistant enough to be serviceable for riding with temperatures down to the mid-50s.

Assuming you zip up all the vent panels covering the mesh, of course.

The downside of the two-part inner liner is that it is noticeably more bulky than a one-piece liner, but the chest, arm and waist adjustments for the jacket are versatile enough to loosen the outer shell to comfortably make room for the added bulk.

All of the zippered closures for both the pant and the jacket liners are waterproof, as well, so they are both suitable as wet-weather gear. The jacket, with its large mesh panels front and back, along with its two-piece insulated inner liner, and wind-resistant outer shell, should make for a great all-year jacket for those who live in more southerly climes.

Manufacturing quality and materials are exceptionally good for both items, as is comfort, and the ability to take a fair amount of abuse. They are, however, priced accordingly, with the list price for the jacket at $329, and the pants at $199. Happily, I got them both on sale, and saved a substantial amount over retail. They can be found online for significantly cheaper, as well.

Considering the quality, features, comfort, and durability of these riding clothes, I’d say they were well worth the money, and can heartily recommend them.

So, I decided to unwind the VFR a bit…

…and here’s what happened.

It’s 6:30am, and I’m on an empty road outside of town, stopped at a light. Since there’s no traffic, I thought, "why not see what this baby can do?" So, I popped her into manual leaned forward, and peged the throttle as soon as the light turned green.

Nothing much happened. I mean, it pulled briskly off the light, as good or better than the FJR ever did, I guess, but it was just—I dunno. Boring. No excitement. Just smooth acceleration. "Well," I thought to myself, "for a bike that’s supposed to be capable of a sub 3-second 0-60, and a 10 second 1/4 mile, this isn’t very impressive."

Then the tach hit 4,000 RPM.

The VFR leapt forward as if a giant had smashed the back of the bike with a hammer, my arms jerked against my shoulder sockets, and the front wheel gently lofted off the ground.

I quickly decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

That was just…scary. In a split second, the VFR want from a tame little kitten to a rampaging beast. The FJR never did that.

I’ve gotten through the fist 600 miles, and I’ve been letting it unwind a bit. And I can tell that this is an extraordinary machine. It certainly has far more power than you could ever legally use on the street. It’s an absolute hoot.

It wants to take curves—even very sharp ones—far faster than the FJR did. It may not be quite as fast or sharp-handling as a 1000cc Gixxer on the track, but it’s pretty sporty for a middle-aged gentleman like myself. Or almost anyone else for that matter.

If you wanna rip, the VFR1200 will rip. If you want to take it slow and easy, the VFR will accommodate. The ergonomics, now that I’ve gotten used to them, aren’t uncomfortable at all, though more sporty than the other sport-tourers.

Handling is decently sharp, and turn-in is relatively easy, although it takes some conscious rider input. I blame the tires for that, and I’m still planning on getting rid of the EOM Dunlops at the earliest opportunity.

The more I ride the VFR1200, the more I like it. I love the DCT, and the ability to switch between manual and automatic modes. I like the size. I just like it. So far, I haven’t found a major negative aspect of the bike to complain about.

News you can use

Here’s a fantastic resource. Motorcycle Consumer News has released their performance index of all motorcycles for 2012. It’s right here in PDF format. It’s got just about every bike available today in it, and it shows their performance test results in a number of areas, including weight, HP, Motor type, MPG, top speed, 0-60, 0-100, 1/4 mile time, HP:Weight ratio, and more. It’s chock full of goodness.

I note that my VFR rates 148.9 RWHP, with a 10.16 1/4 mile @ 134.9 MPH. 0-60 in 2.7 secs.

Funny, it doesn’t feel that fast when you’re on it. Angry smile

(H/T Rider Groups)

~
Dale Franks
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Settling in to the VFR1200F

I’ve now got slightly north of 400 miles on the new VFR. I’m really impressed with her—except for a couple of minor quibbles. In general, my overall rating for the VFR1200F is "Wheee!"

The DCT just…works.  In heavy city traffic, where I spent about 4 hours today running a whole bunch of errands, just putting that bad boy in "D" and letting the automatic tranny take care of everything is just sweet. There’s enough oomph that you can zip by cars when you need to with a twist of the wrist. At the same time, it’s perfectly controllable power at all times. You can just toddle around town without a care.

The paddle shifter works pretty well in Manual mode, too, but I have to say, with the automatic Sport mode I just don’t use manual too much. I don’t know how Honda worked out the algorithm to when it shifts, and what gear it picks, but it’s pretty amazing. About 99% of the time it picks just the right gear for whatever you’re doing at the moment. However it does it, it’s pretty sophisticated.

There is some vibration, but it’s not intrusive or bothersome. It’s nice V-4 vibration. I dunno how to explain it, except to say its part of the bike’s character. It lets you know you’re on a V-4 instead of an I-4. It doesn’t make your little hands sleepy or anything. It’s just…there. I like it. It kind of has the same feel as the BMW Boxer. It’s a good vibration.

vfrtail

Luggage is a problem. The VFR has a really wide tail light assembly. I’ve tried a couple of different sets of sport bags for the tail and they just don’t fit, without covering up most of the turn signals. I’m beginning to think this is an intentional design move by Honda to force people to buy the EOM luggage for $1000+.

Either way, I can’t seem to find saddlebags that fit, look nice, and don’t obscure the rear lights. So, I still have nothing but my Tourmaster top case to carry stuff with. I’d really like some other luggage options. I guess I’ll have to keep looking, because I really don’t want to have to pay Honda an outrageous price for what are essentially plastic boxes.

It was pretty warm today, and I can already see that the Honda is gonna be way more comfy in hot weather than the FJR was. You get more air, and better, smoother air than the FJR. And the VFR doesn’t seem to bake you at a stoplight by bathing you in engine heat like the FJR. Superior air management. Of course, in cold weather, like we had last week, I’ll admit I missed the wind protection of the FJR and the huge Cal-Sci windscreen I had on it. I knew that would be the case going into it, but I had to re-learn how to dress for winter Southern California weather, like I did before I got the FJR.

Layers. That’s the key. Layers are important.

It hot weather, though, it’s a blessing to get moving on the VFR.

The footpegs are a skoche too high for my comfort. It’s not bad, but lower pegs would make the bike a bit more comfy for me. I think that’s gonna have to go into the "Deal with it" category, though. It’s a sporting machine for fancy gentlemen like myself, and if I lower the pegs, it’s going to compromise the lean ability a bit. Based on my experience so far, I probably shouldn’t do that.

The other ergonomics are just fine for me. The bar risers make the reach to the controls a bit sport-biased, but not uncomfortably so. Mainly, the bike fits me rather well. I’m happy with the extra sportiness of it.

The seat…meh. It’s an EOM seat. The FJR seat was better. The shape of the Honda seat just catches the back of my legs in a place where I don’t like it. Fortunately, both Corbin and Sergeant make seats for fancy gentlemen like myself. Heated, too.

Handling is way better than the FJR. It’s only 50 lbs lighter, but the way it handles makes the FJR seem positively porky by comparison. The thing is, I think that the Dunlop OEM tires make the VFR seem porkier than it should be. I really, really, want to burn through these tires to get a set of Pilot Road III’s on this baby. As it is, though, the VFR is pretty flickable for a bike that weighs 600 lbs.

I was also a bit apprehensive about the range with a 5-gallon tank, as opposed to the 6.6-gallon tank on the FJR. Not really a problem. I’m getting better mileage on the VFR—though that me be because I’ve been limited in my ability to push it, but even so, my range is only about 30 miles less on the VFR than it was on the FJR. Since I’m mainly a daily rider and not planning on going on long tours with it, it’s not really an issue for me.

The VFR could be a little quicker off the line. Like I wrote previously, it appears Honda has tamed the initial throttle response—it’s all fly-by-wire on the VFR—in 1st and 2nd gears. This is undoubtedly to keep you from killing yourself. Because if you switch to manual mode, the jam the throttle all the way to the stops from a dead stop, it accelerates gently, right up until the tach hits 4000. At that point, your arms get jerked out of socket, and the front wheel gently lofts off the ground. Maybe it’s a good thing that initial throttle response is tamed the way it is. Somersaulting your bike over like a flapjack at a stoplight would be embarrasing.

So, it’s not a drag racer. But when you’re zipping along right in the meat of the powerband, some throttle discipline is mandatory. Anywhere from 4,000-10,000 RPM, the VFR cranks. Assuming the weather stays nice, I’ll burn through the remaining break-in miles in the next week or so, and then…we’ll see what we will see.