2010 V-Max Released

Yamaha’s Star brand of cruiser motorcycles has announced that the new, monstrously powerful 2010 V-Max is on sale as of today.  Sporting a 1679cc liquid-cooled 65° V-4 engine putting out 200 Horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque , the V-Max is the 800-pound gorilla of cruisers.

There’s a downside to this power, though.  27MPG fuel efficiency off of a 4-gallon tank means a refueling stop after less than 100  miles, unless you want to push it.  And the handling, while reportedly improved over the pre-2009 models, is still less than optimal.  So, no touring or twisties for this beast, just simple hot-rodding.

There’ve been no changes to the V-Max from 2009, except the new Cherry red paint.

2010 Indian Motorcycles

Indian Motorcycle is America’s oldest motorcycle brand–although not, it should be pointed out, the oldest continuous manufacturer, due to an unfortunate number of bankruptcies.  The venerable brand keeps being revived though, and in its current incarnation, the company has unveiled its 2010 lineup of Indian Chief motorcycles at Sturgis.  Top among them is Indian’s version of a dark custom motorcycle, the Dark Chief.

A special model for the 2010 year is the Indian Chief bomber, a motorcycle whose styling is based on World War II aircraft.  According to the company:

Inspired by WWII aircraft, the Bomber is a limited edition Chief model and will only be available for one year. The Bomber is available in Military Green and Silver Smoke finishes. The pin-up girl tank artwork is inspired by the Bomber nose art of that era. The leather used on the seat and saddlebags are reminiscent of the feel and color of an old bomber jacket.

If you want an Indian, be prepared to shell out some serious cash.  The price for an entry-level model starts at $25,999, and goes up from there.

Economic Pain

The global recession just keeps on hurting.  Yamaha Motor Company announced that they have some problems, financially, and they substantially cut their profit forecast for the year.

Yamaha Motor Co., the world’s second- largest motorcycle maker, fell the most in nine months after the company quadrupled its forecast to a full-year loss of 182 billion yen ($1.9 billion).

The company dropped 9.9 percent, or 120 yen, to 1,096 yen at the close on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Yamaha, based in Iwata City, Japan, had previously forecast a net loss of 42 billion yen. It posted a loss of 74.7 billion yen in the first half.

The motorcycle maker cut its sales forecast by 12 percent as rising unemployment and falling wages reduces demand for Royal Star cruising bikes. Yamaha plans to close three factories in Japan over the next three years. The company cut its forecast for motorcycle sales in North America this year by 35 percent and lowered its prediction for European sales by 8 percent.

On top of the news from Yamaha, Honda also released some bad news today.

Honda Motor Co.’s domestic production of motorcycles is expected to fall 40 per cent on the year in fiscal 2009 as a result of stalled demand in Japan and delayed inventory adjustments overseas.

Honda’s Kumamoto plant, now its sole domestic manufacturing base for motorcycles, plans to produce 181,000 units this fiscal year, compared with slightly more than 300,000 units in fiscal 2008. The fiscal 2009 figure is also less than half of the facility’s annual output capacity of 460,000 units.

About 50 per cent of the motorcycles manufactured at the Kumamoto plant are for the domestic market, while 90 per cent of the units shipped overseas are for the North American and European markets. Owing to the global economic downturn, overseas and domestic demand has dropped sharply since last autumn, with midsize and large motorcycles among the hardest hit.

It’s a tough time to be in the pleasure/recreational vehicle business.

Decisions, Decisions…

With the money from my insurance settlement coming, I really am trying to figure out what to do.  I know I’ll pay off my FJR, but beyond that, I’m not sure which direction to go.

I rode the R1200RT, and absolutely loved it.  But I’d have to trade in my FJR to buy it outright.  I’m also really interested in a Buell 1125r, and I can get an ’09 white/blue one for a pretty good deal.  Good enough so that I can keep the FJR, and buy an 1125r outright.  I have a test ride scheduled for next Saturday on the 1125r.

Assuming I like the power and handling of the 1125r, I’m really in a quandary about which way to jump.  The Buell is the only sportbike that has ergos comfy enough for me to ride regularly, but, on the other hand, the BMW has all those cool amenities like cruise control, ASC, ESA, etc. that I miss on the FJR.

This may be my only chance to get a new bike with someone else’s money, and it’s a very hard decision to make.

Roehr 1250 Gets EPA Certified

For quite a while now Roehr Motorcycles has been readying themselves to build a single product.  Their dream is to produce an American-made, 50-state legal, superbike that can compete with the best from Japan, Italy, and Germany.  They’ve now moved one step closer to fulfilling that dream.  The Environmental Protection Agency has certified the Roehr 1250sc as meeting the environmental requirements for sale in the United States.  That makes the bike legal for sale in 49 states.  Approval from the California Air Resources Board is expected shortly.

This means that a real American superbike is almost ready for sale in the United States.

The Roehr 1250sc is powered by the water-cooled, Harley-Davidson Revolution engine, which, with the addition of a proprietary supercharger developer by Roehr, that provides an output of 180 HP at 9100 RPM, and 115 lb/ft of torque at 7600 RPM.

The 1250sc is ready for a track day right off the showroom floor, since it comes stock with and Ohlins 43mm fully adjustable upside-down fork up front and a Ohlins fully adjustable linkless monoshock in back providing the suspension.  Stopping power is provided by 2 x 330mm semi-floating discs with radially mounted Brembo 4 piston calipers on the front wheel and 245mm single disc with 2 piston Brembo calipers on the rear wheel.  The exhaust system flows through dual Akraprovic carbon-fiber performance mufflers.  The final drive is a 520 O-ring chain in the single-sided swingarm.

The dry weight of the 1250sc is a claimed 432 lbs (196kg).  Wet weight won’t be all that much more, since the fuel tank only holds 3.2 gallons, which kind of limits the bike’s street potential.  You may find that the price does too, since all those premium components come with a $50k price tag. But, people buy the Ducati Desmo, so there’s no reason they can’t buy this, too.

More information about the 1250sc is available at Roehr’s web site.  And if you’re really interested, and will be in the Santa Monica, CA area, you can set up a test ride.

9100 RPM

1125r Test Ride Setup

I went back to Biggs Harley today.  I scheduled a test ride on the Buell 1125r for next Saturday.  They did have a sales guy there who is familiar with Buells (he rides a Uly), so I was able to ask him some questions about the bike.

Just sitting on the bike, though, I really do dig the ergos on the 1125r.  They are about the best sportbike ergos I’ve encountered.  When you sit on an R6, for example, you really are stretched out over the tank, your legs are tucked up into your guts, and you are putting a lot of weight on your wrists.  Not comfy at all for anything other than the trackm or for any extended riding.

On the 1125r, the riding position is still relatively aggressive, but while you are leaned forward, it’s not enough to put any weight on your wrists, so you can keep your elbows bent, and your arms loose.  And your shoulders aren’t hunched up.  The footpegs are also slightly lower so that’s more relaxed as well.  It seems like a sportbike that you can actually use as a commuter without discomfort.

Next week, I’ll see how the bike is for things other than sitting.

Honda Ends US Motorcycle Production

For the first time in 30 years, Honda motorcycles are no longer produced in the United States.  The Marysville, Ohio plant opened by Honda in 1979 has shut its doors.  All Honda motorcycles for the US market will now be imported from Japan.  Honda blames the closure on the global economic recession, and the tighter credit environment which has stifled demand for cars and motorcycles.

Zero-Emissions Dual Sport

Zero Motorcycles DS Electric Dual Sport
Zero Motorcycles DS Electric Dual Sport

Zero Motorcycle is just giddy with excitement, because they’ve released the DS, an all-electric, zero-emissions, dual-sport motorcycle.  They Claim that it’s not only emissions free, but almost completely recycleable as well.

Powered by the most advanced drive train in the industry, the Zero DS is a fully electric motorcycle that can handle any surface you can throw at it. Navigating obstacles and maintaining control is accomplished using a specially developed suspension system and a rugged wheel set. During technical maneuvers an optimized direct drive gear system delivers astonishing responsiveness with the twist of your wrist.

Well, that sounds like it’s just chock full of motorcycle goodness…except for one, tiny little thing.  When you look at the specifications, you see this:

Top Speed: 55 MPH
Range: Up to 50 Miles
Recharge Time: Less than 4 hours

So, let’s see, it’s too slow to actually commute on any freeway with.  The range is “up to 50 miles” depending on your riding style.  Then it takes about 4 hours to recharge.  So, essentially, you can ride it for less than an hour at speed, then you’re stuck at an electrical socket for “less than 4 hours”.  So, let’s say 3.75 hours.

Great.

And it’s a trail bike, too.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I can think of no better vehicle for riding trails in the middle of nowhere than one with an unpredictable range, because its power usage increases with hard riding.  and, of course, you can’t carry any extra fuel with you for emergencies.

On the upside, It won’t strand you more than 50 miles away from your last known location.  You can walk that in two or three days, depending on the terrain.  Five days, max.

So, take it out into the boonies.  You’ll be fine.

Doesn’t everybody want a motorcycle that can’t be ridden more than 25 miles away from an electrical socket without stranding you?

OK. We get it.

Somebody at Buell’s marketing department must be so proud of his cleverness.  Buell has gotten the defunct 2010 crushed Blast into the Motorcycle.com specs listing.  They’ve replicated their  Book of Buell dismissal of the blast there.  “cause God knows that buying full-page ads in the mags, and putting up front on their web site wasn’t good enough.  No, they’ve got to show off their cleverness to the world.

Because they’re extreme, maaaan!

Hm.  Maybe for 2011 they should think about dumping their current boring product names, too.  There’s tons of great potential names out there.  The “Moody Loner”  The “Social Misfit”.  The “Outcast”.  The potential’s unlimited.

And, yes, I’m still planning on riding an 1125r.

Another Test Ride?

I‘ve been looking at Buell’s web site since the new models were rolled out, and looking up some information on the 1125R.  I’ve also been watching that young Eslick fellow sweep the Daytona races around the country.

So, I stopped off at Biggs Harley-Davidson today to look at one in person.  All I got to do was sit on the bike–they have a white one on display, as well as a couple of CR variants.  The CR is too much of a naked bike for my taste, but the R model looks sweet.  I know the looks are controversial, but I like them.

Just sitting on the bike, I could tell that the ergos are far more forgiving than the Kawasaki Z-Bikes, and way more comfy than the R1 or R6.  You aren’t forced to lean as far forward, and the pegs aren’t set quite as high, so you aren’t crouched into a full fetal position.  This is a sportbike I might actually be able to ride for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Surprisingly, the Biggs guys are open to letting me take one out for a test ride.  So I’ll probably have a test ride report on the Buell 1125R in the near future.

Boy, Am I Glad Today Is Over…

So, it’s about 6:45 this morning when I go out to get the bike out of the garage and head off to work.  I put on all my gear, threw a leg over, turned the ignition key, and for a brief moment, while the key was turning between the off and start positions the dashboard of the FJR lit up.  Then, when the key clicked into the start position, everything went dead.

The dreaded FJR ignition problem strikes again.

This happened once before, and stranded me in the middle of the road on my way to work.  Fortunately, this time, it was in the garage.  But, I was still pissed.

I stripped off all my gear, went out to the truck, threw my tank bag in the passenger seat, and started her up.  As I pulled away from the house, knowing there’s no way I’m gonna make it to work in time driving my diesel truck, I notice that the fuel tank is almost at the empty mark.  So, now I’m gonna be later.

Well, I thought, as I was putting 35 gallons of oil in the tank at the gas station, I guess I’d better call and let someone at work know I’m running late.  That was when I noticed that my cell phone was dead.

It was not a happy morning.

Fortunately, when I got to work, my insurance’s raod-side assitance line was ready to help me, and North County House of Motorcycles could fit my bike in.  Not only that, but they had the ignition switch for the FJR in stock.

As it turns out, my FJR had never had the recall fix for the ignition switch done.  for some reason, I thought that the new ignition switch I got last year when this happened had taken care of that.  Turns out, it didn’t.  It was one of the pre-recall ignition switches.

So, in addition to free towing, I got a free ignition switch repair.

As I was on my way home from work, I got a call on my freshly recharged cell phone saying that the bike was ready.  I called Chris to tell her we needed to go pick it up.  When I got home, I loaded Chris, our dogs, the grand-daughter who’s spending the summer with us, and her dog all into the truck.  I tossed my riding gear in the bed, and, at 4:30Pm we were off on the 16-mile trip to the dealership, up CA-78.

And, about 1.5 miles up the 78, traffic came to a dead stop.  All lanes.

Unfortunately, because there are some inconvenient mountains and lakes in our area, there are very few ways–and no direct ones–from Escondido to Vista except the 78.  And it was shut down.

So, we had to go to the GPS, get off the highway at the next exit, and take the most tortuous route of surface streets you can imagine.  And, because 78 was jammed, the surface streets were jammed, too.  It took us an hour to go the last 10 miles.

Happily, we arrived at NCHM at about 5:40, and I was able to pick up the bike before they closed.

The east-bound side of the 78 was pretty clear so I took that back home, and saw that the traffic problem on the eastbound side was that a fire had started by the freeway, so the fire department and CHP had essentially shut the highway down, except for allowing cars to trickle through one at a time on the shoulder.

I’m glad this day is over, let me tell you.

Motorcyclist’s 2009 Picks of the Year

The mavens at Motorcyclist magazine have announced the winner of the award for 2009 Motorcycle of the Year, as well as their other picks.

Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year: 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1
Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year: 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1

The bike picking up the top award this year is the Yamaha YZF-R1.

Modern sportbikes are engineered so close to the edge of the performance envelope that we’re conditioned to expect incremental changes: a shaved pound here, an added pony there. It’s almost unimaginable that any sportbike could surprise us with a novel riding experience that realigns our understanding of what a liter-class sportbike is, and what one can do. The 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 is exactly that sort of bike-which is why it’s our Motorcycle of the Year.

Other notable picks include:

Ben Spies as the Motorcyclist of the year.

The Kawasaki ZX-6R as the best sportbike of the year, closely followed by the Ducati 1198.

The Ducati Streetfighter as the Best Naked Bike, followed by the Harley Davidson XR1200 Sportster.

The Kawasaki Concours14 as the year’s Best Touring Bike, followed by the Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide.

Best Adventure Bike honors go to two BMWs, with the F800GS in the top position, and the R1200GS Adventure in second place.

The Best Dreambike is the Aprilia RSV4, with the BMW S1000RR as the follow-on.

Best Bang For The Buck goes to Kawasaki, with the ER-6n as the winner, and KLX250SF as the second-place finisher.

For Best Cruiser, Motorcyclist goes strictly for muscle this year, with the Star (Yamaha) V-MAX ruling the roost, and the Harley Davidson V-Rod Muscle in the supporting position.

Best Dirtbike is the Husaberg FE450; second best is the Honda CRF450R.

Best New Technology is the Honda Combined ABS system, followed by the Ducati Traction Control.

And, finally, the Best New Product honors go to the Gopro Motorsports Hero Wide Camera, with the Bazzaz Performance Z-FI Traction Control taking the runner-up position.