2011 Triumph Adventure Bike

2011 Triumph Adventure Bike Teaser Image
2011 Triumph Adventure Bike Teaser Image

We don’t know much about it, but as of today, at least we know that the new 2011 adventure bike from Triumph will sport a three-cylinder engine.   A look of utter shock and surprise fails to cross my face at this news, since Triumph’s premier engine is the 675 or 1050 triple.

That’s about all we know, though.

Triumph fails to release any hard details about the engine, aside from vague descriptions of it having a long stroke. Rumors put displacement at around 800cc, to line it up with the popular F800GS.

More details will have to wait, as Triumph seems keen on teasing everyone about this one.

That’s irritating.

The next release of information–such as it is–will be about September first.

After 107 Years, Will Harley Leave Milwaukee?

The big feature story from the AP today–which I won’t quote from due to their insane copyright policy–is that Harley Davidson is sending executives out to scout potential production locations in other states.  If company can’t come to some sort of agreement with its work force in Milwaukee, H-D will be shutting down production there, and transfer it to assembly plants elsewhere.

Only the Corporate HQ and the Harley-Davidson Museum would remain in Milwaukee.

In many ways, this parallels the problem that US automakers have had, and which led to GM’s bankruptcy. In the case of GM, the union benefit agreements the company made with the UAW, as far back as the 1970s, simply became too difficult to maintain, financially.  As the cost of those benefits increased, GM reached the point where they couldn’t sell a car for the the price that would cover GM’s cost to make it.  GM had net negative cash flow every month, and it burned the company to the ground

Oh, and by the way, despite the happy talk we’ve been hearing, GM, even after bankruptcy, still has a negative cash flow. ALthough, if you’re an American taxpayer, you’re covering that bill.

The MoCo is trying to avoid becoming GM.  So the question for the Milwaukee workforce is whether or not they agree that a somewhat less highly compensated job is better than no job at all.

2011 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra

The Road Glide has always been my favorite Harley-Davidson.  I really don’t like the bat-wing fairing on the other big tourers, mainly because I hate the idea of an extra 50 pounds riding on the forks. But the Roag Glide, with its fixed fairing is the best-handling of the big Harleys I’ve ridden–with the exception of the Road King–and I absolutely hated the Electra Glide Ultra.

2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra
2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra

For 2011, Harley has introduced a new Ultra version of the Road Glide, with all the touring amenities of the Electra- Glide Ultra.  Dain Gingerelli at Motorcycle.Com got his hands on one and was able to take it for a spin.  You can read his review at your leisure, but the thing I found interesting was that he highlighted the fact that for 2011, the MoCo is now offering a Power Pak package, the centerpiece of which is not the venerable TC96 powerplant H-D has produced for years, but a new 103ci motor, with increased torque and–to the extent that it matters on a big touring cruiser–horsepower.  And the Power Pak does seem like a pretty good value for the money, considering that you get more than just the engine:

Now for the even better news: the optional Power Pak costs $1,995, a bargain when you consider that the cost for upgrading a standard 96-cubic-inch engine is about that for parts and labor alone. Think of the ABS and security system as a bonus. Ditto for the engine ID emblem.

And the 103ci mill is a big improvement, with 102 ft-lbs of torque at 3,500 RPM. That’s just shy of a 10% increase over the TC96’s output.

However, you should probably be aware of this, before you buy:

Which begs the question: why doesn’t Harley-Davidson equip all of the Big Twin line with this bigger and better engine? Good question, and when asked, one Harley spokesman merely smiled.

The TC96 is not a bad engine, at all.  But a 1574cc engine for a big cruiser when the Big Four are running 1800cc – 2000cc mills–with signifigantly more power–in their competing bikes makes the TC96 a comparatively underpowered engine for such large bikes.  Even Victory has switched their entire model line over to a 106ci mill for their 2011 models. And by comparison, the 2011 Victorys’ engine will put out–depending on the factory options you want–up to 113 ft-lbs of torque, or nearly 10% more than the Harley’s 103ci mill does.

The TC96–despite being unveiled in 2007–is just a bit long in the tooth, in the sense that it produces torque and horsepower that reflect the standards of an engine generation ago. It’s better than the 93ci mill it replaced, but it still isn’t on a par with the big Japanese cruiser motors, or the motor that will grace this year’s Victory motorcycles.

I think that smile on the H-D representative’s face indicates that H-D is gearing up for another change to the engine line-up in the next model year or two.  With Victory doing so this year, I suspect that makes a change at Harley inevitable in the near future.

So, your question has to be, “Do I want the bigger engine now?, Or can I wait a season or two until it’s standard equipment, and most likely cheaper?”

This is odd

Here’s a picture of an Erik Buell Racing 1190RR. As we all know, the 1190 is a pure race bike, designed solely for the track, and destined to never, ever be ridden on the street.

image
Erik Buell Racing 1190RR, inexplicably fitted out with turn signals and license plate holder.

That’s why this image is so odd. How does Buell ever expect to win races on a sport bike that’s dragging around the extra weight of turn signals and radiator fans. That’s just insane. Why, the next thing you know, they’ll be sticking rear-view mirrors on it, in defiance of all logic!

What possible reason could there be for putting turn signals and radiator fans on a race bike? We may never know the solution to this impenetrable mystery.

UPDATE: Hey! Those aren’t just turn signals. That looks like a license plate holder. But that simply can’t be, as the 1190 can’t be registered as a street bike. Clearly this is part of some new scheme for displaying the name or logo of a racing sponsor. Or something.

Man! This just gets wierder and more inexplicable, doesn’t it?

Harley-Davidson introduces the 2011 lineup (Updated)

Harley-Davidson unveiled their new model year bikes today, expanding the product line to 32 motorcycles. OK, so its really more like 32 versions of the same 4 motorcycles. Whatever.

Still missing from the Harley lineup for 2011: a beginner bike of any kind, and more specifically, one that can be used in the company’s proprietary Rider’s Edge program for training beginning riders. H-D indicates such a bike will be available within three years. I doubt that’s very comforting to dealers who need the bikes for the program now, however. And I’m not sure that Harley is going to like the image of riders on Honda Rebels taking their proprietary training.

Anyway, the full press release can be found here.

The three new models are shown below.

2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra
2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra
2011 Harley Davidson XR1200X
2011 Harley Davidson Sportster XR1200X
2011 Harley Davidson Sportster Super Low
2011 Harley Davidson Sportster Super Low

Of the three new bikes, only one is relatively new, the XR1200X–which has been out for almost a year–one is an “Ultra” trim model of the the existing Road Glide, and one is a lowered Sportster 883.

The Super Low is the bike Harley-Davidson now says is suited for beginning riders. Personally, I think anything over 650cc is a bit too much for a beginning rider.  If you positively have to start riding a V-Twin, I’d recommend the V-Star Classic or the Suzuki S50, both of which are substantially lighter, and substantially less expensive–$1500 in the case of the V-Star–than the Super Low.

If you really want a good beginner bike, skip cruisers and sport bikes altogether, and get a Kawasaki Versys. It’s 100 pounds lighter, it sits the rider up high enough that you can see over traffic–and traffic can see you–far more maneuverable and confidence inspiring, and still costs $500 less than the Harley.

In my opinion, you need some miles under your belt before buying a Harley–or a Kawasaki Vulcan 900, or a Honda VTX 1300, for that matter. Later on, if you want a big cruiser, then save your pennies for a Road Glide. As far as I’m concerned, the Road Glide is the nee plus ultra of big V-Twin  cruisers.

A Big Upgrade for Victory

2011 Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vision
2011 Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vision

Victory Motorcycles–the other American motorcycle company–has announced their 2011 model line, and the big news is that they’ve dropped the smaller V-Twin, and now provide every bike in their line-up with the big 106ci V-Twin, as well as a new 6-speed transmission.

Riders also have a choice of bikes sporting Stage 1 or Stage 2 factory tunes as well.  Stage 1 engines put out 92HP and 109 ft-lbs of torque, while the Stage 2 tune provides 97HP and 113ft-lbs of torque. In  general, the bigger, touring models will have the Stage 1 engine, while the smaller (relatively) bikes will have the Stage 2 cams, making their street cruisers pretty…uh…rockety.

All of the bikes will also sport the upgraded cockpit instrumentation found on last year’s Cross Roads, and the service interval has been increased to 5,000 miles.

Check out Victory’s web site for the details.

iBike?

BMW iPhone App
BMW iPhone App

BMW always touts their 200,ooo-mile reliability (final drive issues notwithstanding).  But sometimes, even the most reliable bike has a problem.  And if you’re in a small town in the middle of nowhere–especially on a bike where dealers who can service it are few and far between–getting stranded can be a problem.

But, BMW has just released an iPhone app to help out. And it apparently it’s just chock full of cool stuff:

Compatibility with any registered BMW Motorrad model in the United States (models from 1981 onward).

Expedited handling of BMW Motorrad USA Roadside Assistance requests.

Automatic sharing of GPS location and motorcycle details (color, model, etc.) between the BMW Motorrad USA Roadside Assistance call center and the Motorcycle rider.

Direct telephone access to BMW contact information, including authorized BMW Motorrad Dealers, BMW Motorrad Customer Relations, and of course BMW Motorrad USA Roadside Assistance

You can add up to four different motorcycles to the app–each with it’s own picture–storing the colors, VIN, etc, in the app.  So, if you need help, you can just go to your iPhone, and get roadside assistance whenever you need it.

As long as you can get a signal, of course.

Now, they just need to get cracking on an app for Android.

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Good news from–and FOR–the MoCo

Harley-Davidson announced its 2nd quarter earnings today, showing continuing improvement in key areas, blah, blah, blah. Forget the financial stuff.  What leaps out at you is this statement:

Harley-Davidson is the U.S. market share leader of on-road motorcycles among young adults.

Now that’s very interesting, indeed, considering that the average rider age of Harleys has been increasing steadily. Without attracting younger riders, H-D is in for a long, slow decline as their current riders die off. But the phrase “market share leader of on-road motorcycles among young adults” can mean a lot of things.  What is it really telling us?

The Kneeslider’s Paul Crowe did some calling around and learned:

[T]he relevant statistics are from R.L. Polk and were covered on the earnings call yesterday.

· . . . in the U.S., no one is reaching new customers better than Harley-Davidson.

· Based on recently provided Polk data, we have been the heavyweight motorcycle category market leader in new motorcycle sales to young adult men and women ages 18 to 34 since at least 2006.

· We have also been the heavyweight market leader since at least 2006 in new motorcycle sales to women riders, Hispanic riders and African American riders ages 35 and older. Of course, we are also the market leader among Caucasian men ages 35 and older.

· And when it comes to new motorcycle sales to young adults in ALL sizes of on-road motorcycles, Harley-Davidson has been the U.S. market share leader since 2008.

While talking to Bob Klein, I also found that a lot of this is directly attributable to sales of the Iron 883 and the Forty Eight.

That’s very, very positive for the Motor Company.

More Ducati Spy Shots

I recently mentioned the new Ducati that’s going to be unveiled later this year.  There was one lame spy shot, and a concept drawing of the Ducati Project 0803 motorcycle.  Well, today, we got another spy shot, this time courtesy of Italian motorcycling site Moto Sprint.

Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot 2
Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot 2

This is much better, despite the camouflage paint splotches and masses of black electrical tape.  Nice looking exhaust. Interesting side-mounted radiators. Single-sided swingarm.

The American press has been calling this a new model of the Monster, but I think that’s just notional.  Over in Italy, they’re just referring to it as a maxi-cruiser.

Maybe it’ll be called the “D-Max”.

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2011 Ducati 848 EVO

2011 Ducati 848 EVO
2011 Ducati 848 EVO

Ducati has announced the first of its 2011 motorcycles, the new version of the 848, now christened the 848 EVO.  The EVO designation denotes that its a refinement of an existing model, rather than anything really new.  But that isn’t meant to sound dismissive, as the Italian manufacturer has created some added value.

First, performance increases over last year, with 140HP and 72.3 ft-lbs of torque, compared to last year’s 134HP and 70.8 ft-lbs. Second, chassis upgrades are included, with a standard steering damper and the brakes being upgraded to Brembo monobloc racing calipers.

Hard to believe that, just a few years ago, an Inline-4 literbike claimed 140HP as a respectable output.  Now, Ducati’s putting that out in a mid-sized twin.

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Something’s Up at Ducati

Ducati Project 0803
This Ducati Project 0803 sketch purports to be from a North American Ducati dealer who got it straight from the horse's...uh...mouth.

There’s been a lot of talk of a new Ducati model coming up for 2011. Maybe a big, new Monster. Or something.  Apparently that talk has some basis in fact, because we’re now seeing both spy shots–whether from interested bystanders or directly from Ducati PR isn’t clear–and an interesting concept sketch of “Project 803”. That sketch is on the right, and is clickable for a hi-res image.

The PR department at Ducati is responding to all the rumors of a new bike with this statement:

As many you may have noticed, there has been quite a bit of activity in the past few weeks surrounding a supposed new Ducati model. I wanted to take this opportunity and send you a note saying indeed we do have a surprise in store for this year’s EICMA show. Our R&D department is working around the clock to complete development of this radical new motorcycle, for which time to complete final design and engineering elements will surely come down to the wire.

Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot
Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot

I’m sending this letter today in order to inform you of our communication plan. Since many details of the bike (big and small) are still being sorted out; I have elected not to forward information or photography until the rolling prototypes come close to resembling what the final product will look like.

Stay tuned for further information from the Ducati Press Department; and I can assure you the final bike will impress all with the design, performance and technology everyone has come to expect from Ducati.

It looks like at Italian V-Max. And that “Testastretta 11 degree” engine says it probably comes off the 1198.  So, an 1198 V-Max.  Nice.

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