This weekend, I took the FJR in for its 24,000 mile service, and while I was there, decided to try a new set of tires. I’ve heard lots of good things about the Michelin Pilot Road 2CT tire, but the price was a bit offputting. So I’ve been on Bridgestone BT021s since I bought it. North County House of Motorcycles has a good deal on the PR2s, however, so, I decided to try them out. I’ve only put about 100 miles on them since I picked the bike up Saturday evening, but I have to say…wow!
The difference in handling was immediately noticeable. With the BT021s, the FJR had to be pushed a fair amount to drop into a turn. Steady as a rock once you found your angle, but a little effort was needed. Not so with the PR2s. Simply moving your upper body, and shifting on the seat is enough to initiate the lean. In fact, it falls in so easily, I still haven’t gotten used to it.
What really saurpises me is how grippy they are, though. As I was riding back home, I was racing against an incoming rainstorm…and I lost. About 10 miles from the house, riding down Highway 78 in San Marcos, I got hammered with a downpour. I never got the feeling that I was anything less than firmly planted, even with less than 10 miles on the new tires. Indeed, at one point, a car in front of me slammed on his brakes, and I applied mine firmly–fortunately, I was hanging back far enough so that I didn’t have to panic stop–and the tires performed flawlessly.
So far, I haven’t pushed it really hard, even on the curvy route I take to and from work, but the Pilot road 2 has so far exceeded my expectations. I’ve been told the BT021 is a grippier, sportier tire, so we’ll see how the PR2 works when I start to really blaze through the valley road, but so far, I’m very impressed and pleased with the Michelins.
Metzeler has produced a tire that should allow you to end the “chicken strip” debate with your riding buddies.
The M5 Sportec has a built-in chicken strip gauge in the tread pattern.
Motorcycle Daily reports that the BMW S1000RR appears to be a real superbike.
Apparently, our Brit cousins at MCN strapped the S1000RR to a dyno, and got the HP/Torque results shown over at the right (click to enlarge). The results show 183HP at the rear wheel with stock exhaust, and 185.5 with an Akraprovic setup.
Oh, and about 81 lb-ft of torque, if anyone cares.
So, if they’re putting out 185 at the wheel, then they’ve got to be pushing 200+ HP at the crank, which is…a lot. A lot more, in fact, than BMW even admits to.
As Gabe Ets-Hokin notes:
Used to be 180 hp at the back wheel was the result of tens of thousands of dollars of soup-up work: a turbo or nitrous, or just getting your hands on a megabucks works racebike.
Back when I was a kid in the 70s, we thought a 70HP bike was wicked fast. 200HP would have been seen as…insane.
BTW, the nearest competitor–according to the dyno-tested models, at least–to the S1000RR was the Suzuki Hayabusa at 179.5 HP.
Yet, with all that horsepower on tap, Troy Corser is being beaten like an egg-sucking dog in WSBK by guys riding 170.6 HP Fireblades.
Paul Crowe, over at the Kneeslider, addresses one of my personal hobby horses: electric motorcycles, and makes a key point.
The engineering expertise available today made short work of the obvious, designs began to make the bikes look good, powerful electric motors were built, the suspension is just adapted from standard models, nothing unusual there, it’s those pesky batteries. We need a small, light, fast charging, long lasting battery with big capacity. That, definitely, is not one of those easy parts, that’s a real head scratcher and, though there is a huge reward waiting for anyone who can design one, we’re just not there yet, which, itself, tells us a lot. Anyone who takes a cursory look at electric vehicles quickly sees the potential and monetary windfall waiting and still, no battery that takes the performance leap has been developed.
That last phrase is the key point. No matter how much we might want or need electric vehicles–or some other zero-emissions technology–it will not magically appear simply because we want it…or because politicians mandate it by fiat.
Back in the 90′s, when I was hosting The Business Day on KMNY in Los Angeles, the state of California approved a mandate that required something like 40% of all vehicles be zero-emissions by 2006. I spent an entire week talking to the big electric and alternate fuels execs at GM, Chrysler and Ford, and they all told me the same thing. The technology to make electric vehicles with range and performance similar to internal combustion engined vehicles does not exist.
It didn’t exist in 1995. It doesn’t exist today. And despite the Olympian pronouncements of politicians in Sacramento, the zero-emissions mandate was superseded by that reality. And even if you get the range and power, there’s still the inconvenient 8-hour wait for the battery to recharge.
Somewhere, there’s a breakthrough in zero-emissions technology waiting to be found. Until it is, though, all this electric motorcycle stuff is pure, feelgood, hype
Here’s something I didn’t know. There’s a compnay that’s been around for several years, and it makes plastic internal combustion engines. The New York Times reports on Matti Holtzberg, an engineer in New Jersey, whose been building these things for quite a while.
Apparently, back in 1984 and 1985, he even raced a Ford Pinto with a plastic engine, and its only failure in the International Motor Sports Association’s Camel Lights series was a busted con rod–a bad part from a supplier (I wonder if it’s the same one that supplied the con rods for the Aprilia RSV4 Rs that went TU during the press launch?).
Anyway, the guy took an 88HP Pinto, pulled the 415-lb hunk of Ford iron from under the hood, and replaced it with a 152-lb plastic engine that put out 300 HP.
Obviously, there are difficulties replacing steel and aluminum in current engines. And, of course, with aluminum engines, the plastic–polymer, actually–bits would only cut the weight by 30%. Still, 30% is a signifigant savings. Imagine, if you will, a 250HP motorcycle that weighs 340 pounds.
Uh. Hmmm. Actually…that’s kind of scary.
Pete Brissette of Motorcycle.Com got to spend a day with a brand new 2010 Concours14 that had all the trimmings, including Kawasaki’s new linked ABS system and Traction control. He really liked it, for a number of reasons.
First kawasaki really seems to have listed to their customers about what was good and bad on the 1st-Gen C14. The top complaints were heat management and wind protection…not enough of either. Both issues seem to have been addressed, with a completely new front fairing design, and a taller, wider windscreen that even has a bit of a Cee bailey-type lip at the top.
Second, Kawi stuck factory grip heater on it (they look like they come from exactly the same parts supplier as the ones on my FJR), dumped the useless little tank box, and put a real storage box in the front of the fairing.
But the big news is the linked ABS and traction control. The linked ABS system runs as follows:
But what really sets the new linked-ABS apart is the rider-selectable level of linking. For starters, ABS cannot be disabled, but by pressing the orange K-ACT button (bike must be stopped to select modes) the rider can choose the “high-combined” effect in Mode 2 or the lesser-combined effect in Mode 1.
K-ACT mode selection impacts the amount of front brake application (only one of the two front calipers are involved regardless of Mode 1 or 2) when applying only the rear brake. The amount of linking applied to the rear when using the front brake remains constant.
I can’t say I’m a big fan of this type of linking system. I prefer the BMW partially linked system, where the rear brake doesn’t engage the front at all, while the front lever engages both. I realize this is probably a simple matter of preference, but I don’t want the front end to dive when I hit the back brake.
The traction control system seems like a neat safety feature, as long as you remember that it is just a safety feature. It’s not the Troy Bayliss Ducati 1098 system that’s designed to make you faster. It’s the “you’re getting a little crazy, let’s apply some sanity” system.
By controlling airflow (via secondary butterfly valves in the throttle body), fuel delivery and ignition timing, three parameters as opposed to the two of competitors according to Kawasaki, the system limits engine output when it senses the rear wheel spinning faster than the front.
And for those wondering, yes, it is a wheelie nanny, but only when enabled. Phew!
Most impressive was how seamlessly and unobtrusively KTRC performed. When power is cut, it isn’t done abruptly, nor is reapplication of power. Rather than a stumbly on/off throttle experience, the bike simply feels like it has a fraction of its available power.
All in all, it looks like Kawi has made an already well-received bike even better.
Honda Motorcycles gave us a much more detailed look at the multi-function transmission that they’ll be putting into the the new VFR1200 today. As mentioned previously, the new transmission will operate in three modes: a 6-speed manual mode, which works like a standard motorcyle transmission, and two automatic modes–one for regular and one for sport riding.
The tranmission is also a duel-clutch transmission, i.e., it has two independent clutches, one of which operates on the even gears, with the other operating on odd gears. Honda says that the two clutches provide seamless gear changes, and, unlike previous dual-clutch transmissions, avoids the usual bulk penalties by using dual input shafts, an in-line clutch design, and concentrating the hydraulic circuitry under the engine cover.
And the VFR isn’t the only place you’ll be seeing it. Honda states that it “intends to gradually expand the deployment of the new transmission to more and more of its large-displacement motorcycles, particularly sports models destined for use in developed countries.”
In addition to the technical details, Honda has released a number of crawings to go along with them, which I append below, and which you can click to enlarge.
This weekend, the news and technology media outlets have been writing about the really cool custom electric chopper that OCC built for Siemens. And they all have the same picture of Paul Sr. riding the bike. The same one, actually, that I have, come to think of it.
Anyway, everyone seems giddy with delight about the whole deal.
Yes, it’s a chopper that can keep up with a Harley-Davidson “hog” at 100 miles per hour without even waking up a baby. And, because the machine is electric, it has zero emissions compared with most cycles, which pollute the air at about the same level as a car built in the 1980s.
As Paul Teutul Sr., the driving force behind the bike shop, steered it around New York’s Columbus Circle on Wednesday, the only noise was the sound of truck drivers honking their horns in admiration of the sleek futuristic bike. Mr. Teutul, wearing his trademark red sleeveless T-shirt, says that driving the machine is “awesome.”
Known as “Senior” on the show, Teutul built the machine over the past month for Siemens, the German engineering company. It wanted an “ecobike” that looked “real cool,” in the words of a Siemens company official.
Wow. Sounds cool huh? But, as with most things, the devil’s in the details.
Both Siemens and OCC were reluctant to reveal how much the bike cost. Jim Quinn, an engineer at OCC, says a “normal” chopper built by the company costs between $70,000 and $150,000, depending on the amount of work.
OK. So, let’s say north of 150,000, then. What a bargain. Oh, and did you read the bit above where it said the bike “can keep up with a Harley-Davidson “hog” at 100 miles per hour”? Well, that’s not exactly true. I mean the top speed is an indicated 100 miles an hour. Unfortunately, the actual speed in real world use averages out to slightly above 10 MPH.
Siemens claims the bike has a 60-mile range and a 100 mph top speed. An onboard charging unit can be plugged into any 110-volt socket to charge the bike in five hours…
Ah, so being generous, that means you can go 100 miles an hour for about 40 minutes, until you hit the 60-miles range limit. Then, you sit around for five hours recharging. So, 60 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes is an actual travel speed of 10.6 MPH. Heck, I work 26 miles away from my home. And considering that a good part of my drive is mountainous, twisty roads, I’m not sure it would get me to work and back with a 60-mile range, which I assume is under optimal conditions.
And that’s the kind of performance that $150k+ buys you with “Green Technology”. A bike you can out-walk.
Look, whatever urgency you may feel about saving the planet or whatever, “Green Technology” is, at the current time, almost completely useless in terms of building a usable vehicle. We keep seeing these zero-emissions bikes, and when you look at the details, it’s always a sub-100-mile range, and then hours of recharge time. No matter what hoopla surrounds the announcement, at the end of the day, its hoopla about a useless vehicle, that no one can afford to buy anyway, and if they can afford it, they can’t even leave town on it.
Someday, I’m sure we’ll all have vehicles with reactionless drives. And flying cars. And personal jet packs powered with dilithium crystals. But today isn’t that day.
Get back to me when you’ve got a clean motorcycle technology that gets me 200 miles on a charge, with a 5-minute recharge time.
Harley-Davidson has come up with a good idea, and it’s one that really should be implemented as widely as possible. The MoCo will be implementing the Harley-Davidson Fit Shops at dealers all over the country.
Dealership Fit Shop specialists work with current and prospective Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners to help customize the suspension, seat, handlebars and/or foot controls to meet their riding preferences. New riders may not realize all the customizations that can be made to a bike to make it a one-of-a-kind ride based on build and preference, while long-time riders may not know about the latest customization options. Any Harley-Davidson model can be customized to fit most riders.
Most motorcycles can be fit precisely to a rider, but most riders don’t do so. Most modern motorcycles have fully adjustable suspensions, and the idea is to dial in the suspension to match the rider’s weight, riding style, etc. Dialing in the suspension to fit the rider makes the motorcycle handle and ride better. But, all too many riders accept the factory stock settings, and ride off into the sunset, occasionally issuing complaints about how their bike wallows in the corners or whatever.
By taking stock of all the customization options, and having a trained specialist help each purchaser to dial in the bike’s settings to fit the individual rider, you end up with a more satisfied customer, who’s happier with his motorcycle’s comfort, ride, and handling.
And who knows, you may end up with a rider who is a little better educated about his bike.
Kudo’s to Harley for taking a step forward that dealers of other motorcycles would be wise to copy. Not only does it help make for a more satisfied customer, it also has positive implications for motorcycle safety. Big Four dealers should take a look at doing something similar. It would be a big help to their customers.
Our cousins in the UK at Motorcycle news report that the new Honda V-4 bike has a lot more to it that previously thought. There’s apparently a lot of innovation in this new bike.
First up is the variable cylinder use. Instead of running in a V-4 and V-Twin profiles, the engine can also run as a triple. The ECU will select the use of two, three or four cylinders based on engine demand, and throttle input. So, the rider will get smoother transitions between the different cylinder use profiles, which should translate out to a broader range of usable power for the rider.
When in two or three-cylinder mode, instead of the non-working pistons being air springs, they will actually be running in vacuum. So, instead of losing power on the upstroke of the dead cylinder, the empty cylinder will actually serve as a vacuum assist for expanding the active cylinder during its power stroke. So, on net, you get a power increase for the working cylinders.
In addition, the engine, being a V-4, will inherently have the same crossplane effect that Yamaha has used to such rave reviews in its R1 sportbike.
Moving from the engine to the gearbox, the new bike will utilize a double clutch system, similar to the ones used by Porsche. The rider will be able to select three modes: Drive, Manual and Sport.
Drive mode will put the bike in charge of all the shifting. It’s essentially an automatic transmission for the motorcycle, and the emphasis will be on economy, with the ECU doing short-shifting to keep the bike in two- or three-cylinder mode.
Manual mode will put the rider in charge of shifting, but the twin-clutch set up will be used to anticipate the next gear change, so the rider can shift as smoothly and quickly as a race bike with a quickshifter.
Sport mode will once again put the ECU in charge of shifting. But this mode is designed to run to the redline in every gear, giving you peak HP–which is rumored to approach 200HP–and torque as much as possible, and allowing you to concentrate on steering the bike, cranking the throttle, and moving your butt cheeks back and forth to hang off as necessary.
And this new bike is just the beginning. Apparently, Honda has plans to build a whole new series of bikes based on this technology. This first bike will replace the VFR and, apparently, the ST1300/Pan-European. But beyond that, Honda is going to give us lots of biking goodness based on the new V-4 platform.
The only remaining question is whether or not we will see this bike in the 2010 model year or not. If we are, we’ll probably learn about it in the next 60 days. If it performs as Honda expects, then something like like this has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of what a rider should expect from a motorcycle.
I am really interested in taking a look at this bike.
The two-stroke motorcycle has long been replaced by the four-stroke. Now, Ilmore Engineering appears to have come up with a five-stroke engine. Ilmore does a lot of stuff in Indy Car, Formula 1, and MotoGP, so they aren’t some fly-by-night firm with a wild idea.
Although, it is a wild idea.
With dual camshafts and an asymetrical three-cylinder configuration, the Ilmor is more than intriguing with its design, and promises to bring real benefits both to the race track, and to road-use. Most notably is a 10% increased fuel efficiency, and 20% weight reduction in power-plant weight.
With its 700cc, turbocharged, prototype motor, Ilmor is able to extract 130hp and 122 lbs•ft of torque. To achieve this, the motor employs two overhead camshafts. One is a “high pressure” camshaft, which turns at half the crank speed, while the other shaft is a “low pressure” camshaft, which turns at the same speed as the crankshaft.
Yes, you read that right. A 700cc motor with 130HP and 122lb-ft of torque. Those are…interesting numbers. That’s what I call a real “Speed Triple”. You’d need to put a second mortgage on your house to pay off your tire bill, assuming you don’t just wheelie right over and turn turtle, killing yourself.
But, assuming those difficulties can be overcome, it sounds like a neat idea.
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.
A reader from South Africa–isn’t the web just amazing!–has sent in an interesting story about his horrific run of bad luck with the R1200RT, and he also asks me an interesting question. I thought I would address him in a new post instead of the comments.
I am a 54 year old bike rider now and in October/November 2006 I purchased my first R1200RT, strickly ran in the bike as recommended, at about 5000 somthing km while running flat out (230km/hr)up a long hill, at sea level, the engine blew up, right hand cylinder it later turned out. BMW Motorrad led me to belive that it was my fault to an extent, they offered me their demmo RT with 355km on the clock at nost cost although this was a 07 model. I completed the running in procedure to 1000km and proceded to enjoy the bike. Planning on doing a long trip with the ODO at just less than 10,000km I had it serviced for its 10K. 3 days after this service and still not on 10K, running the same hill also flat taps as previous the engine blew, again the RH cylinder with identical damage as the first. After a big fight and quite a lot of money I got a new 09 RT full house, ran it in as previous, blew this motor at less than 3000km, only difference I was on a different hill. Yes, the same cylinder with identical damage as the previous 2 bikes. Completely dishartened as I truely love this machine, I had it repaired kept it for a month after which I traded it in on 1200GS. The GS is a different beast, also good but nothing like the RT. Anyway in this time I found out that BMW are bringing out a new RT,to be released in Germany Nov/Dec this year, it’s apparently top secret, I’ve tried searching the web for any bit of info without any success, I’m waiting in anticipation for it as I know I will have it. Perhaps you know what BMW are doing and could advise me!
Also please advise if you know about other RT owners blowing their motors, especially the R/H cylinders.
Your story is horrific, Deryck. Actually, it sounds outlandish, because I’ve never heard of the RT, or any other of the boxers, having a problem with the cylinders blowing. Now, if you’d told me that your final final drive started spewing lubricant and bursting into flame, I’d have nodded my head and said, “Yeah, that seems to be going around.” There’s been a lot of controversy over BMW’s final drive in the 2005 and 2006 models, and whether there was a fundamental design flaw that BMW refused to acknowledge, but quietly fixed. But I’ve never heard of any sort of problem with the boxer engine, which is, after all, going on its ninth decade as BMW’s banner power plant.
Indeed, here in the states, we have something called the Iron Butt Association (IBA), where motorcycle riders take their bikes on a ridiculously long trips in a ridiculously short time. The three big IBA events are the SaddleSore 1000 (1,000 miles/1,600 km in 24 hours), BunBurner 1500 (1500 miles/2400 km in 24 or 36 hours), and the 50cc Quest (coast-to-coast in 50 hours). In the last Iron Butt Rally (11,000 miles/17,600 km in 11 days) in 2007, 5 of the 72 participants who completed the Rally were riding R1200RTs.
So, you seem particularly unlucky. I suggest that you not take up piloting helicopters. Or skydiving.
I’m just saying.
As for rumors of a new R-Bike from BMW…well, I wasn’t going to actually write anything about this, but I actually have heard something about a new R1300RT. As far as I know, the only place where this has been reported is at a French motorcycle news web site called MotoStation. Back in February, they reported that BMW was working on a new R1300RT for release in June 2010.
They even have a photoshop of the new bike…and you can believe as much of that picture as you please.
Interestingly, they also say that the R1300RT will switch over to the same type of boxer motor as that which powers the current HP2 Sport, with its two camshafts, instead of the current single camshaft. That should up the horsepower to around 130HP, with…oh, let’s call it 95-100 lb-ft (13.1-13.8Kgm) of torque. More or less.
Whether all this is real or not, I really can’t say. You know how some of the motorcycle web sites are. In the UK, MCN has been predicting a new model of the Honda Interceptor (VFR) every year for five years. They’ve become a joke because of it, at least on that issue.
So, yes, there’s rumored to be a new 1300cc boxer for the RT in the works at BMW for next year, which is to say the 2011 model year. Whether those rumors are true, I really can’t say. MotoStation is the only place that’s reporting this, and they haven’t made mention of it again since February. If it’s true, then they’re doing a good job of keeping this hush-hush in Bayern.
I am, however, deliriously proud of myself for converting the English measurements to the heathen metric system for you.
“Is it too much to ask for an frickin’ engine with frickin laser beams? Really, people. What do I pay you for?”
The technology behind the Internal Combustion Engine continues to move forward. Brit scientists working for Ford Motor Company have found a way to eliminate the spark plug.
In a breakthrough that may make vehicle starting issues due to fouled plugs or inclement weather a thing of the past, engineers at Ford have reportedly teamed with scientists at Liverpool University to develop a laser beam ignition system to replace ye olde spark plug. The researchers claim their technology is more efficient, more reliable, and it will enable vehicles to start easier in extreme temperatures and damp climates.
Apparently, the lasers can also spark ignition at multiple points inside the cylinder simultaneously, resulting in a more efficient and complete ignition. Ford plans to implement this technology in their car models in the next few years.
I wonder how this new technology would mate with the DART Motor.