2010 BMW R-Series Motorcycles

By far the most popular search that leads people to this site, is a search for the rumored variants of the BMW R1200RT for 2010, such as “R1300RT”, or R1250RT”.  Everyone seems to want to know what the 2010 version of the BMW R-bikes are going to be.

Well, now we know.  It’s the R1200RT, and R1200GS.

2010 BMW R1200RT
2010 BMW R1200RT

BMW announced today that the 2010 R-Series bikes will all sport a DOHC Boxer motor derived from the Hp2 Sport.  Unlike the HP2 Sport, however, the R Engine will rev lower, and put out less horsepower.

So, the horsepower figure for the R-series Boxer will remain unchanged at 110HP, but torque will increase by 3lb-ft to 88lb-ft at an unchanged 6,000RPM, for faster acceleration.  The redline will increase to 8,500 RPM from the current 8,000rpm.

The R1200RT will receive an updated fairing and windscreen, designed to offer better wind protection.  The instrument panel has also been updated, with redesigned instruments and a visor to help keeps the sun’s glare off a bit better.  Also updated are the handlebar controls, with the old-style paddle turn signals on each side being replaced by standard turn signals.  An additional control is a rotary thumbwheel on the left handgrip to allow the rider to cycle through all the stereo options without taking his hand off the grip.  The stereo itself gets rid of BMW’s CD player, although a jack is provided for external audio sources.

2010 BMW R1200GS
2010 BMW R1200GS

TheR1200GS is visually unchanged from the previous year’s model, except for the cylider covers, which have two bolts, instead of four.  The new engine, on the other hand also gets the 110HP output, and increase of 5 horsies over last year’s.  There’s also an accessory LED headlight for a few extra bucks.

Overall, the change to the DOHC engine doesn’t provide as much oomph as I would have expected, considering that the HP2 engine actually puts out 130HP in the HP2.  I would’ve thought that BMW would have added more ponies to the R-series boxer, rather than upping the torque a bit.

I’m also a little disappointed in the new styling for the R1200RT.  I think last year’s version looked better, and came in better colors than white, beige and two-tone gray and white.  Overall, I suspect that GS afficionados will be a bit more pleased with the 2010 update than their RT brethren.

There’s tons of detail available from BMW about the new models in PDF format, which you can acquire here for the GS, and here for the RT.


2010 CR&S Duu Cruiser

Buell Motorcycles may be gone, but their influence lives on in this new cruiser from CR&S, which will available in limited numbers–and only in Europe, alas–for 2010.

2010 CR&S Duu Cruiser
2010 CR&S Duu Cruiser

Notice, if you will, the underslung exhaust and odd side pods, so reminiscent of the Buell 1125R.  It even has a V-Twin powerplant.  Air cooled.  With push rods.

The similarity ends there, however.  The engine isn’t a re-engineered Evo, but a massive 1,916cc v-twin motor.  The side pods house the headlights, rather than air scoops for the (non-existent) radiator.

The company showed this off as a concept bike in August, but apparently it was a pretty concrete concept.  It had to be if they’re ready to produce it now.

They haven’t released any figures on weight or horsepower/torque, but it certainly looks beefy with that huge engine filling up the space under the tank.

At €20,000 (about $35,000 at today’s rate of exchange), it certainly is a pricey beast, but since they’ll be making about…oh, let’s say 50 or so of these bikes over the next year, I’m sure they’ll find the buyers they need to take it off the factory’s hands.


2010 MV Agusta F4

The EICMA show must getting really close (10 November, 2009, actually), because everybody is giving tantalizing little glimpses of their 2010 motorcycles before heading out to Milan.

2010 MV Agusta F4
2010 MV Agusta F4

Today it’s MV Agusta, with their new F4 sporting its saucy little derriere for the camera.

The first thing that hits me is the angularity of the design.  It looks like they’ve sharpened the curves of the classic Tambourini design.  The same elements are there, lik the flared top of the gas tank, but you can see that the curves have been noticeably narrowed.  Even the tail pipes have been squared off.

It has LED taillights and blinkers.

Oh, yeah, and it’ll come in at least the classic red and silver color scheme at the very least.

And…that’s about all we can see.  It’s not all we know, however, thanks to a press release from MV Agusta describing the new bike, which says, in part:

The engine has been revolutionized: the ultra compact in-line 4-cylinder 998cc engine is capable of reaching 186 hp at 12900 rpm. The highest level of engineering technology have been coupled with the most advanced electronic controls including: twin fuel injectors per cylinder, variable length intake system, slipper clutch and the TC MK II traction control system which has 8 levels of adjustment.

These advancements along with the uniqueness of the radial valve system attribute to the fact that this engine is the most sophisticated and evolved on the market.

The chassis has also been engineered to unheard of levels of compactness, the new single sided rear swingarm has been lengthened while at the same time its weight has been reduced along with the fully adjustable suspension which are all factors that contribute to making the new F4 unique.

The bike that originally revolutionized the world of supersport motorcycles has become even more beautiful, sleeker and modern while maintaining the unmistakable design “Made in MV”. The new xenon headlight and the new super light fairing are factors that contribute to the incredibly narrow cross-sectional area and the new pipe organ exhaust system with a restyled 4-in-1 silencer are all distinctive elements identifying F4 as the most exclusive motorcycle in the world.

It sure sounds neat.  But I’m curious to see what the first post-Tambourini F4 actually looks like.


2010 Kawasaki Concours14 First look

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.


2010 Aprilia RSV4 R Unleashed, Collapses

Aprilia introduced the slightly lower-spec street version of its V-4 RSV4 race bike, the RSV4 R, to the press at the Mugello Race Track in Italy.   According to Hell For Leather:

The RSV4 R is not Japanese. It will not make a beginning rider feel like Superman.  it will make them feel like a meek nerd who gets sand kicked in their face.

In other words, if you don’t know how to ride–and well–it’s not a “fun” bike.  Hard to steer, stubborn handling, etc.  If you push it to the limit, however, it’s apparently a blast.  As long as you know what you’re doing.

Unfortunately, it seems that if you push it to the limit, other problems arise.  The press launch of the new bike had to be cut short when “five of the bikes suffered terminal con rod failures” out of the 30 pre-production models present.  This now gives Aprilia the number one spot in press launch fiascos, pushing ahead of Buell’s 2007 1125R press launch, where all the pre-production bikes had fuel mapping problems.  At least the Buells didn’t have to be deadlined, causing the event to be shut down.

Aprilia says they’ve traced it to a manufacturing fault, and that the production bikes will be just spiffy.


2010 Honda VFR1200F First Ride

Since Motorcycle-USA’s Ken Hutchison was already in Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show, he was conveniently available to go out to the Sugo racetrack and hop aboard the new VFR1200F at the press demo.  In return, he’s provided us with a nice first ride review that’s pretty comprehensive.

I’m not going to steal his thunder by quoting extensively from his review, but I was interested to read this bit about the new Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT):

When riding the DCT bike it’s clear that the system is dialed in. There are two modes to can select from while on the fly, D-mode for regular or street riding and S-mode for sport riding. In D-mode the bike shifts well-before it starts making real power. Instead, it just chugs along, shifting gears and accelerating in a mellow manner in order to maximum fuel efficiency and minimize strain on the rider. Don’t be misled into thinking the auto clutch is a snoozer. In S-mode the motorcycle is as fun as the standard version. To my surprise the bike shifts in a very intuitive manner, making both up- and downshifts precisely and effectively on the track to the point where I was comfortable letting the bike do the work while I focused on enjoying myself on the winding, twisty Sugo race track. The VFR never initiated an unwanted shift, and yet if you don’t agree with the gear it chooses then simply select a different gear with the paddle shifter. The bike reverts to manual mode as soon as you intervene.

It’s interesting to see this, personally, because I ride a Yamaha FJR1300AE, the one with the YCC-S electric clutch system.  It operates similarly to the Manual” mode of the Honda DCT, but I’ve really developed a love/hate relationship with it, and I’m ready to go back to a standard transmission bike.

The YCC-S has its positive points.  Upshifts are generally speedy and so seamless you don’t even have to let up on the gas to shift.  It’s also nice in city commuting traffic.  But, it also has its problems.  Downshifts are slow, and require attention, because kicking the shift lever, or flicking the handlebar shifter doesn’t necessarily result in an instant downshift.  Or, sometimes, any downshift at all.

And the YCC-S really does want to try and kill you in parking lots.  The clutch engages/disengages at around 2500 RPM.  Or 2700.  Or 2300.  Whatever.  So, you often find yourself at slow speed, maneuvering into a parking lot when the clutch engages, and you lose all power to the rear wheel–which is not something you’re keen to happen when you’re leaning over at 5 MPH.

So, I’m curious about Honda’s DCT system.  It appears to work fine on the track, but I’m wondering how easy it is to live with when pulling into the local Albertson’s or Safeway.  My experience with the YCC-S makes me wonder if it’s really all that great.


2010 Honda Furys


Yes, I know that the plural of “fury” is “furies”, but I’m referring to the model name, not the state of rage, so the title is OK.  But, it is still plural, because Honda has added two new Fury models to accompany the original VT1300.

2010 Honda VT1300CR
2010 Honda VT1300CR

The VT1300CR is a more relaxed version of the Fury.  The handlebars are swept back more for a more relaxed rider stance. The front of the frame has been lowered as well, so that, while the extreme rake angle still juts that front tire way out in front, it’s got a less extreme chopper look than the high neck that the original Fury sports.  The fenders are bigger, and more sculpted, but the tires are smaller (and wider), moving from a 21″ front and 18″ rear to a 17″ front and 15″ rear.  They’ve also moved the speedometer onto the tank, instead of mounting it between the bars.

2010 Honda VT1300CS
2010 Honda VT1300CS

The VT1300CS is a shorter, thinner bike than the CR, with 4.72″ shaved off the wheelbase, and 5.8″ off the width.  It also has smaller, less flashy fenders, but, while it keeps the 15″ tire out back, it goes to a 21″ tire in front.  It still has the low neck of the CR model, but narrower, less pulled back handlebars.

I’m not a big fan of the Fury, in general, but I know a lot of people like them.  And my chick thinks they’re cute.  It’s also one of the few big-boy bikes she can actually pick up off the stand, and flatfoot when she gets it up.

But that boring old 1300cc VTX mill just doesn’t do it for me.  This really seems like a bike that screams for one of the Big Twins.

Buell’s Future No Longer Uncertain

Last month, I wrote an article claiming that Buell’s future was uncertain, as a signifigant number of Harley-Davidson execs were leading a charge to eliminate the brand from the MoCo’s line-up.

Writing that story made me very unpopular in the Buell world for a few days.

Today, it became public knowledge that Buell is, indeed, on the chopping block.  Harley Davidson is discontinuing the brand and shutting down Buell’s operations.

It’s a sad day, I think, to see a company that had so much promise destroyed by the squandering of the opportunities it presented.

2010 Honda VFR1200F

After months of anticipation, Honda released the images, specifications, and availability details of the new VFR replacement, the VFR1200F.

Let’s start with the pictures.  Shown below is the only version that will appear in the US,with its red livery.  Why the euros get multiple color choices, and we have to be satisfied with a single color is beyond me, but here it is.  Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

I have to say right up front that the looks don’t grab me.  The blunt nose with the odd-shaped headlight just don’t do it for me.  Maybe the look will grow on me, but the first impression doesn’t…impress.

The specs for the bike are more to my liking, and pretty interesting.

First up, it’s a serious step up in power from the current generation VFR.  Honda claims an output of 170HP at 10,000RPM and 95lb-ft of torque at 8,750RPM from the 1237cc V-4 power plant.  However you slice it, those are very respectable numbers, and a big leap from the current VFR.  The engine also sports variable cylinder technology that uses two, three, or four cylinders, depending on throttle input.  The four cylinders are set at different angles, with the rear two cylinders located innermost on the crankshaft and the front cylinders located outboard in order to narrow the rider’s seating position.

The buyer will have a choice of transmissions.   You can choose a standard 6-speed transmission, or spring for the dual-clutch 6-speed transmission, with  a manual mode that shifts via a finger paddle on the handlebars, a la the FJR1300AE, and two automatic options: one for sport, which takes each gear to the redline before shifting, or a short-shifting economy mode. Power gets from the tranny to the rear wheel via a brand new shaft drive system that sports an offset pivot point and sliding constant-velocity joint to eliminate driveline lash.

Rear suspension for the VFR is a Honda Pro Arm® single-sided swingarm with single gas-charged shock with a remote spring preload adjuster, adjustable rebound damping and 5.1 inches of travel.  Front suspension is provided by a 43mm inverted cartridge fork with adjustable spring preload and 4.7 inches of travel.  But not, apparently, rebound damping.  The latter may be a consideration for some.

You may have already noticed the two-tone fairing.  That’s part of Honda’s new air management system. Honda calls this “layered fairing technology”, and explains it as follows:

By effectively increasing the speed of the air by channelling it through smaller apertures before it reaches the radiators, engine cooling is optimized and the hot, exhausted air is channelled away from the rider and passenger for a cooler, more comfortable ride. The heat generated by the powerful, enclosed V4 engine is also channelled away to keep hot air away from the rider.

Apparently, Honda gave some thought to heat management in precisely the way that Yamaha and Kawasaki did not when creating the first gen FJR and Concours14.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear they gave as much thought to travel range, with the VFR1200F having only a 4.9 gal tank.  This is a serious deficiency if the VFR is supposed to do any serious touring.  Even worse is the claimed 36.5 MPG fuel efficiency.  Taking Honda’s claims at face value give the VFR1200F a maximum fuel range of 179 miles.  Both the efficiency and range seem a bit low for a bike that uses variable cylinder technology for economy.  In fact, that’s just plain low, no matter what.  This is the biggest disappointment I can see from the claimed specs.  It’s a gas hog with a small tank.  Great.

It’s also a pretty big bike–though significantly smaller than the ST1300–with a curb weight (full of gas and ready to ride) of 591lbs for the standard transmission model and 613 lbs for the super-tranny version.  It’s still lighter than an FJR or Connie, but significantly heavier than most sport bikes.

Bringing all that weight to a stop comes from dual full-floating 320mm discs with CBS six-piston calipers with ABS in front, and a single 276mm disc with CBS two-piston caliper with ABS out back.  Supporting it all is a vacuum-molded, cast aluminum chassis.

And if you want to add a little more weight, there are several accessories for the VFR.  There are fairing extenders to get your hands out of the wind.  Windshield extenders to do the same for your head.  There’s full luggage–albeit somewhat smaller than the usual run of touring bike luggage–for long trips.  There’s even a navigator, so you wont get lost.  For a brand new bike, Honda seems to have really gone all out to provide lots of farkles for it.

So, now we’ve seen the pics, and we’ve read the specs.  And I have just one question about the VFR1200F.

What is it?

Is it a sport bike?  if so it seems awfully big for it. Hustling a 600 lb bike through the twisties can be done, of course, but all that extra weight has inertia to match, which limits its canyon-carving ability.

Is it a touring bike?  Then why is the tank so small, fuel range so compromised, and the luggage so downsized?

Is it a ‘Busa-style superbike?  Then why only 170 horses?  Ultimately, a ‘Busa or ZX-14 will be admiring it in their rear-views.

The more I look at it, the more it seems like a niche bike without a…niche.

I really wanted to be impressed with this bike.  I thought that with all the new technology we’d be getting…I dunno…more.  What it is, though, seems like a bastardized compromise between a sportbike and a sport-tourer that does neither of those things very well.  For a sportbike, I’d want it lighter, with a shorter wheelbase.  For a tourer, I’d want better mileage and range.

Of course, if you want a compromise bike, it seems like the VFR1200F will deliver that in spades.

y effectively increasing the speed of the air by channelling it through smaller apertures before it reaches the radiators, engine cooling is optimized and the hot, exhausted air is channelled away from the rider and passenger for a cooler, more comfortable ride. The heat generated by the powerful, enclosed V4 engine is also channelled away to keep hot air away from the rider.

2010 MV Agusta F4 Sneak Peak

It won’t be officially unveiled until November, but MV Agusta has released a sneak peak photo of the 2010 F4.  It’s not much of a photo, and it doesn’t show much except the headlight, and the general shape of the fairing, front-on.

2010 MV Agusta F4 Teaser
2010 MV Agusta F4 Teaser

It looks a bit different, but it still has the essential Tamburini styling.  What is more important than the fairing is what’s under it.  An what’s under it may be nice.  We’ve already seen the 2010 Brutale, and that bike is essentially the naked version of the F4.  Since already know that the 2010 Brutale 1090R is pretty much brand new, with 85% new components, we can probably assume that the F4 is similarly new.

Still no word on anything like a specification for the new F4, of course.

I guess we’ll still have to wait ’til November for that.

Kawasaki’s 2010 Motorcyles

Big Green has released the details of the 2010 model line today, and some of the changes are pretty nice.  Some of them are simply…meh.

2010 ZX10R
2010 ZX10R

First up is the 2010 ZX-10R Ninja.  This is one of the “Meh” entries in the lineup.  Not much new to talk about here.    They’ve modified the bodywork a little bit.  They’ve changed the steering damper to a new–and presumably better–one.  And they’ve painted the muffler black.  Other than that, next year’s ZX-10R is pretty much status quo ante.

My best advice is to wait for a year if you want a big Ninja. Supposedly, Kawasaki is gonna put the bike through a complete redesign for the 2011 model year.  Until then, the new Ninja is pretty much what the old Ninja was.

2010 Versys
2010 Versys

Another “meh” is the 2010 Versys.  It has new headlights, that kind of have a BMW R1200R kind of feel.  But it’s is, again, pretty much the same bike as this year’s.

I think we’re done with the “Meh” bikes in the line-up, though.

2010 Concours14
2010 Concours14

There are some nice changes to Kawasaki’s premier sports tourer.  Not, unfortunately, some of the changes rumored earlier this year, like the night vision and HUD I wrote about a while ago.  Instead, the Connie gets something called KTRC, Kawasaki’s first-ever traction control system.  Also new is the the K-ACT II anti-lock braking system to control those panic stops, a larger windscreen to solve the complaints about the effectiveness of wind management, bodywork redesigned for better heat management, heated grips, upgraded suspension, and new Bridgestone tires.

Oh, and it’s blue.  Blue is nice.

2010 Z1000
2010 Z1000

The Z1000 is the bike where major changes have occurred.  The current incarnation of the Z1000 is OK…but just OK.  Nice, but the power is kind of soft and squishy.  The new Z1000 looks like a big step forward.  It’s pretty much a completely new motorcycle, in fact.

First, the engine is completely new.  It’s a 1043cc I-4 power plant adapted from the ZX10R, and it provides 136HP and 91lb-ft of torque.  That’s a serious improvement over the current incarnation’s 953cc mill from the ZX-9.  That means noticeably better acceleration, and improved top-end speed.

Next, the steel backbone frame is gone, replaced by an all-aluminum frame with a monocoque main spar.  Fuel storage is now beneath the seat, so the narrower frame and changed fuel tank offers a narrower profile for better knee gripping.  That’s helped by the narrow bottom and flared top of the…uh, whatever the thing on top now is, instead of a fuel tank.

There are lots of suspension changes, too, with the rear suspension being an all-new “horizontal” design, and more aggressive front-end geometry.

The styling has been updated, too, giving it a noticeable B-King vibe, but whether that’s a good thing or not is in the eye of the beholder.

Honda VFR1200F Interview

Honda UK’s test rider Dave Hancock has done some extensive riding of the new VFR1200F.  He seems to like the new bike a lot.  He’s positively glowing about it.


It sounds like a wonderful machine, doesn’t it?  The thing is, while he’s talking about the bike in such glowing terms, I can’t help noticing that he’s wearing a red shirt.  And it has a big ol’ white wing on the left breast.  That says “Honda” right beneath it.  So, I gotta wonder if he’s, you know, the most objective source of information.

I’m just saying.