2011 Brammo Empulse

The motorcycle press is touting the newly announced 20100 Brammo Empulse, and electric motorcycle that is “revolutionary”, in that it has a 100-mile range and can exceed 100 MPH. Using a liquid-cooled, brushless AC motor, with an estimated output of50 hp and 59 ft-lbs torque, the power comes from three different battery pack options, although only the top of the line Empulse 10, with a 10KW battery pack will get you the 100/100 combination.  There is also an 8KW and 6KW option, with 80- and 60-mile ranges respectively. Pricing starts at $10k for the 6KW, up to 15K for the 10KW.

*shrug*

For the price of an FJR1300, next year you can own a 60HP bike that travels 100 miles, then sits around recharging for several hours.

2010 Brammo Empulse
2010 Brammo Empulse

I rode a lot today…

Even though today was a workday, I’ve spent about three hours on my FJR. I got to the office at about 7:15, after my 40-minute commute. Sauntered over to the microwave, and popped in some food. When it was done, I pulled it out…and spilled it on my thumb.

This kicked off a major fricking crisis. First, four paramedics had to come over and look at it. Then I was directed to go to the emergency room and get my thumb looked at. So I hopped on the FJR, and took my horrific injury to the hospital, whet a doctor looked at it and said, “You should probably put some ice on that.”

Wow. Great. Thanks, doc.

That took up the first two hours of the day, all because everybody gets paranoid about workman’s comp.

After work, I needed to go to traffic court and drop off some paperwork. A buddy told me this great new shortcut for getting there. The shortcut turned what is normally a 45-minute ride into a 2-hour one. I got lost in these tiny twisty roads, and finally had to go to the GPS to find out where I was, and how to get to the courthouse.

Worst. Shortcut. Ever.

So, I didn’t get home until 7.

But, I finally got home, got comfy, and turned on my computer…only to find out we have no internet access. It turns out that sometime before I got home, one of the dogs ripped the cable access line for the high-speed internet out of the wall. So now I have to pay Cox to send out a service tech tomorrow to run new cable.

I’m writing this via my HTC incredible, because I have no other contact with the outside world.

So, despite spending three hours on the bike, the day totally sucked. Oh, and the three hours on the bike were all at low speeds, in city traffic, and 90-degree heat.

I could strangle a kitty right now.

WANT!

BMW has announced two new motorcycles built on a brand new Inline-6 powerplant.  The K1600GT will presumably replace the K1300GT, while the K1600GTL will replace the K1200LT.

The powerplant is definitely the atttraction on these bikes. Weighing in at only 226 lbs, the motor puts out 160HP at 7,500 RPM and…wait for it…129 lb/ft of torque at 5,000 RPM.  BMW also indicates that over 70% of maximum torque will be available from 1,500 rpm.  So, right from a standing start, we’re talking 90 lb/ft of torque. That’s arm-wrenching acceleration worthy of a literbike.  Indeed, compare and contrast to the 193 HP S1000RR, whose maximum torque is 83 lb/ft at 9,750 RPM.

Alas, there are no pictures of the bikes from BMW yet, except for a couple of crappy concept drawings that I’m uninterested in showing, as they are probably more misleading than accurate.

But from the specs, it looks like a monster power-tourer, with about 5 more horsepower hitting the ground at the rear wheel, and 27 lb/ft more torque than the current power king of sport-tourers, the Kawasaki Concours14.

The only remaining question will be how much it’ll set back your wallet to acquire the Beemer.

2010 Superbike Comparo

Motorcycle USA has published their 2010 Superbike Smackdown, pitting the top superbikes head-to-head on the track.  for this year, the contenders were:

  • HondaCBR1000RR
  • Yamaha YZF-R1
  • Kawasaki ZX-10R
  • Suzuki GSX-R1000
  • KTM RC8
  • Aprilia RSV4
  • BMW S1000RR
  • Ducati 1198 S Corse Special Edition

Please make a note of the last bike listed.  Ducati didn’t just bring a stock 1198 to the table, they produced the special racing edition ringer, probably in hopes of comparing well to the BMW S1000RR.

Nice try, but, apparently not quite enough, as the CBR1000RR took Second place honors, and the S1000RR edging past for 1st place.  Ducati merely took 3rd.

Here are the scoring results:

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BMW R1200GS First Ride Reports

Motorcycle Daily reports on their first ride of the new BMW R1200GS.  They really liked it, especially the new engine’s astonishingly wide power band.

Meanwhile, Motorcycle USA was along for that trip, too, and they note:

Whether
or not you opt for the Special Edition or an upgraded package on either model, both machines are phenomenal in their performance. They’re the same old lovable Adventure Touring bikes we’ve come to expect from the propeller gang. We wish we could say the new motor is a vast improvement over the old version, but the circumstances and the time gap in our memory make that difficult. While we couldn’t readily detect a difference in engine performance (that’ll have to wait for dyno testing or a dry back-to-back evaluation) the German crew certainly hasn’t taken a step back.

Motorcycle.Com was also an hand, concluding:

The good news is the GS is still very much what the previous bike was, and that’s, well, good.

All in all, despite being unable to compare the older and new models side by side, everyone seems happy with it.

Honda’s new VT1300 Cruisers

2010 Honda Sabre II
2010 Honda Sabre II

Honda is really jumping into the mid-size cruiser market by really ramping up their product line of VTX1300s, introducing three new models. Motorcycle USA’s Bryan Harley has gotten to take them all for a spin, and he’s written up his impressions of them, concluding:

Honda’s 2010 VT1300 Series covers the gamut, from what Big Red hails as its ‘big impact bike’ in the form of the Fury to a boulevard-cruising pro-streeter in the guise of the Sabre. The range includes a big-fendered cruiser with more traditional styling and a bike factory-equipped for the long haul. The styling of the VT1300 Series is a big leap forward for the traditionally conservative Japanese manufacturer. But the bikes maintain Honda’s reputation for performance and reliability. It’s an ambitious venture for the company, but Honda believes that there is enough variation in the VT1300 Series to appeal to almost every area of the cruiser demographic. With almost 83,000 VTX models sold, it’s hard to question their reasoning.

The three new models add to the “factory custom” movement Honda Joined by producing the Fury last year, and these new bikes are built around the same idea: producing a more distinctively-styled bike, with Honda’s reliability, at a price point below $13k.

As far as I can tell, these new models look like Honda met its goals.

2010 Honda Interstate
2010 Honda Interstate

All of the bikes are powered by the same 1312cc liquid-cooled 52-degree V-Twin, with a SOHC and single-pin crankshaft, and three valves per cylinder.  Vibration is kept in check through the use of dual balancers. New for these models, however, the VTX powerplant now uses a Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) system that features a single 38mm throttle body, with an auto enrichment circuit, doing away with the old CV carburetor.

The three new models break down as follows:

The Sabre is a boulevard cruiser with a nicely raked front end.  In fact, that 33° rake on the front end stretches at the wheelbase to a whopping 70 inches.  The fenders are nicely chopped, and the frame leaves lots of space between the top of the engine and the steering head.  It’s definitely designed as a street custom.

The Stateline, on the other hand, is a much more traditional-looking cruiser, with longer fenders, a larger front tire, and blacked-out engine parts.  it’s still a bit more aggressively styled than the old VTX, but not unpleasantly so.

Finally, there’s the Interstate, which is essentially the Stateline, but with a  more touring-oriented accessory package, including leather covered hard bags that have a hidden latch system and 22 liters capacity, floorboards, a heel-and-toe shifter, big honking brake pedal, and a windshield.  And, even with all that, it still comes in under $13,000, which seems like a nice value for the money.

2010 Honda Stateline
2010 Honda Stateline

So, what could possibly be wrong with any of these bikes?  Well…they’re still a VTX.

Now, look, I understand a lot of people like the VTX.  After all, Honda’s sold 83,000 of them.  But that VTX 1300 engine really is a deal-breaker for me.

The thing about that powerplant is that it’s just gutless at the top end.  When the rev limiter kicks in you’re maybe doing, 85 or 90, and you’ve wrung everything out of her that you’re going to.

Now, maybe in town that’s OK, but the the Interstate, especially, has designs on doing some touring.  And out here in California, when you hit the Interstate, 80 or faster is just the normal rate of traffic flow.  The VTX just won’t offer you anything in terms of passing power at the high end, if you’re already bumping up near the rev limiter just keeping up with the flow.

I understand that not everybody is into the sport-touring, triple-digit sightseeing deal, and that’s fine.  But even my Sportster could top 120 on the highway.  I know.  I did it.  The VTX1300 isn’t a bad engine, it’s just not a very powerful one, even compared to the 1200cc mill on the Sportster.

For just a bit more money, you could spend $12K on a Harley Super Glide, another $2000 or so on the touring accessories, and for one grand more, have a Big Twin that will handle the highway much better than the VTX.

The VTX1300 obviously has its afficionados, but the Interstate seems like a stretch when it comes to touring.

2010 Victory Vegas LE Review – Motorcycle.com

Pete Brissette of Motorcycle.com got to spend a week on Bike #1 of 100 brand new 2010 Victory Vegas LEs.  He loved it.

2010 Victory Vegas LE
2010 Victory Vegas LE

First off, The Vegas LE dumps the standard 100ci V-twin for the more powerful Stage 2 106ci mill, which provides a generous 97 hp at 5000 rpm and 113 ft-lb at a lowly 2750 rpm.  That’s 12 horsies more than the 100ci powerplant, and 10 ft-lb more, too.  Victory claims that putting the 106 into the Vegas makes it the fastest Victory yet.

As you can see, the styling is updated a bit, too, dumping a lot of chrome and replacing it with black powder-coated trim.  It looks like it has just enough, but not too much Arlen-Nessiness in the design.  And, frankly, it doesn’t take a lot for there to be too much Arlen-Nessiness.  He can go a little overboard with al the swoopy curves and what-not.  The Vegas LE, though, looks to be about right in the design department, right down to the blacked-out, curved pipes.

In fact, my real quibble with Victory’s motorcycles is the shape of the jugs.  They just look like somebody stuck two blenders on top of the engine.  Technically, however, the air/oil-cooled, four-valves-per-cylinder, SOHC V-Twin is a thing of beauty.

Brissette concludes:

The Vegas LE possesses lots of powerful, low-end grunt by virtue of the most potent standard engine Victory has made to date. Yet the LE is largely a standard Vegas model and so enjoys the better handling and steering provided by the standard Vegas’ 180-section rear tire versus the chubby 250 found on the Jackpot model.

So, it has the big power of the Jackpot mated with the standard Vegas’ good handling. The LE is the perfect blend.

I can’t argue with that.

Sadly, Victory is only making 100 of these, and I suspect they’ll all be gone quickly.

2010 BMW K1300S vs Honda VFR1200F Shootout – Motorcycle.com

Motorcycle.Com has the results of their shootout between the BMW K1300S and the Honda VFR1200F.  On paper the bikes are a really close match with the Beemer putting out 146.8HP and the Honda throwing out 146.4 HP.  BMW has the edge in torque, though, with higher torque all along the rev line, except at the tippy top, and maxing out at 89.6 ft-lb compared to the VFR’s 82 ft-lb.  The BMW hit max torque 700RPM shorter, too.

On the other hand, they write that the Honda is easier to ride, more maneuverable, more comfortable, and carries its weight better than the BMW.  Both bikes sport about 5-gallon tanks, so neither one is all that impressive when it comes to touring range.

So, what’s the bottom line?

“Although the BMW may not have the utter refinement of the Honda, I wouldn’t be ashamed or regretful of having a K1300S in my garage if I’d purchased one and then later had the chance to ride a VFR1200F,” says Pete. “Furthermore, the practical techy options like anti-spin control, ESA II, etc, that have real-world application raise the K13’s’s price by only $1,800 more than the Honda’s, making a case for the BMW being the better value. Frankly, the BMW’s Premium Package option is simply worth the added cost over base MSRP, especially so if you amortize that $1,800 across the term of a loan.”

The price on the Honda is the kicker.  For what you get for the money, I’d agree that the BMW is probably a better deal.  You really do have to ride a BMW to really get how good the ESA is.  And the BMW cruise control really is excellent.

I really wanted to like the new VFR a lot, but this 1st-gen model doesn’t seem to quite have “it” at the price Honda’s asking you to shell out.

Another Literbike Shootout

Motorcycle USA Motorcycle.Com has posted their 2010 Literbike shootout, comparing the newest European bikes to the top Japanese 1,000cc rockets.  From Europe, they test the Aprilia RSV4 R, and the BMW S1000RR.  From the Land of the Rising Sun comes the Honda CBR1000RR and the Kawasaki ZX-10R.  Like nearly everyone else who’s riddewn it, they give the top marks to the BMW.

BMW S1000RR. If you want the literbike with the most power, best brakes, a wonderfully compliant chassis and best available options in 2010, these are the only letters and numbers you need to know.

Everybody loves this bike, it seems, in the sportbike set.

And yet, in World Superbike, where the S1000RR is in its second season of competition, its riders have been on the podium…um…not a single time.

2010 Indian Chief Vintage

2010 Indian Chief Vintage
2010 Indian Chief Vintage

Motorcycle.com got their hands on a 2010 Indian Chief Vintage for a ride review.  The pictures are nice, and, apparently, the bike is even better-looking in person.

Its acre’s worth of chrome was so flawless, we wondered whether Indian had found alchemists who’d replaced mere chromium with magically-applied liquid mercury instead. “This might be the best quality chrome on a production bike I’ve seen to date,” quipped Pete on the Chief’s high-luster shiny stuff.

Likewise, the leatherwork looked and felt like it had been produced by a high-end boutique. The seat is actually supplied by Milsco, the same Milwaukee-based saddle-maker that had outfitted early-1940s and later Indians for some time before the original company ceased production in 1953.

Alas, despite the beauty, there are also some blemishes.

Unfortunately, we can not compliment some of the other buzzes this bike’s engine induced. It visibly shook the tank, and audible resonation came possibly from the windshield – or maybe it was just the tank? In top gear at cruising speed with earplugs in, it was still audible. Specifically, the buzz began at around 2,600 rpm, and discouraged us from wanting to rev it anywhere near its 5,250 rpm redline.

After riding the Vintage on the highway, Pete said he felt like his feet might vibrate off the floorboards.

The 105ci V-Twin powerplant is rigidly mounted, and has no counter-balancers, which might account for the vibration problem.  Of course, it is a “vintage” model, so vintage design isn’t completely out of place.  and, besides, vibration is really in the butt of the beholder, right?

Well, maybe.  But when you’re riding a bike that costs as much as an Acura, you might want a little refinement in comfort to go along with all that liquid-mercury chrome.