The Mysterious V-4 and the Return of the UJM

Honda has been hinting about it.  They’ve been dropping tantalizing videos about it. They’ve issued technical white papers on it. They’ve even had it out in semi-public places where the overly-inquisitive could take spy shots of its pre-production form.  But today, Honda officially confirmed that the new 1200cc V-4, V-Tec motorcycle will be a part of the 2010 Honda Line-up, and will unveil it to the world at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show in three weeks.  Named the VFR1200F, Honda says the new motorcycle is a dedicated sport-touring bike.  We still can’t see it yet, because Honda is keeping the final appearance under wraps until the Tokyo unveiling, but I’m sure all the VFR fanatics–and are there any other kind of VFR riders?–are now thinking seriously about getting hold of one as soon as their finances allow.

2010 Honda CB1100
2010(?) Honda CB1100

But that’s not all they confirmed today.  Big Red will also be bringing the CB1100 to the Tokyo show as well. It harks back to the iconic UJM bikes of the 1970s, like the 750Four or the Kawasaki Z900.  It even has the throwback chrome fenders.

Interestingly, it’s not water-cooled, but rather obviously an air/oil-cooled inline-4.

This is what motorcycles were like when I was a kid.  Naked bikes, ready to accept whatever customization you wanted to provide.

The only down side is that Honda hasn’t specifically said that this is a 2010 production bike.  Just that they will be unveiling it in Tokyo.  But I suspect they wouldn’t unveil it for no other reason that to say, “Glad you liked it.  We aren’t going to do anything with it.”  I suspect this is, in fact, an upcoming model, especially since it looks almost exactly like the CB1100F concept bike they showed off two years ago.

Can Am Spyder RT First Ride

Motorcycle-USA has gotten hold of a brand new 2010 Can Am Spyder RT and taken it out for a spin.  Not only that, but Adam Waheed has kindly furnished us with a ride report.

Like nearly everyone else who has ridden the Spyder, the big thing to get used to is cornering.  Other than that, Waheed seems to like it.  Especially the monstrous amount of cargo space than it offers for touring.

One of my favorite features on the Spyder RT is its sheer amount of cargo capacity. There are a total of five storage areas (hood, trunk, right/left side hard cases, and small cockpit glove box) that allow you to tote a tremendous amount of gear with you. Even better is the optional Spyder RT travel luggage (with roller wheels and handle) that neatly fits right into the compartment allowing for seamless luggage removal when you arrive at your destination. And for those who literally want to bring their kitchen sink with them, Can-am offers a pull-behind trailer with a whopping 164-gallon capacity. It’s so big that I could literally sleep in it! The trailer features independent coil-over suspension, aluminum wheels, carpet, interior lighting and separate front and rear lid access. Furthermore the trailer is set-up to work in conjunction with its VSS and can be color-matched to your Spyder.

And, of course, with an automatic tranny, electric windscreen, ABS brakes, and stereo, you’ve got about all the comfort features you could want, too.

2010 Can Am-Spyder RT, with optional trailer.
2010 Can Am-Spyder RT, with optional trailer.

If the Spyder doesn’t have enough room to take along everything you need for a trip, then you just aren’t doing it right.

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2010 MV Agusta Brutale Models

The new, redesigned, 2010 Brutale models have been announced by MV Agusta.  And by redesigned, I mean redesigned.  According to MV 85% of the components in the two models are new, including the frame, swingarm, and engines. The suspension has also been redesigned.

The US retail price for the 99R will be $15,000, and the 1090R wil be $18,000.

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2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796

Ducati has officially announced the availability of the new Ducati Hypermotard 796 for the US market for 2010.  The b ike will have an air-cooled engine, and tip the scales at just 368 pounds.  According to Ducati’s press release:

A brand new model for 2010, the Hypermotard 796 incorporates many new features requested by Ducatisti worldwide; striking color selections, lighter weight, lower price point, lower seat height, and the inclusion of a super-light action APTC clutch. Whether it’s dicing through the daily commute or attacking the open roads, the 796 perfectly balances Ducati’s unrivalled twin-cylinder power and sportbike heredity with the lightweight and minimalist Supermotard concept. The Hypermotard 796’s engine is a brand new powerplant; air-cooled with 2 valves per cylinder as per Ducati tradition. Rated at 81hp and 56 lb/ft of torque, the engine promises to deliver an exhilarating ride without compromising the smooth tractability found in Ducati’s other L-Twin engines.

Continued chassis development to the Hypermotard includes redesigned top and bottom fork clamps, and an improved frame layout which eliminates almost all of the forged elements used previously on the 1100. This adds up to an agile, lightweight, 368 pound package that is guaranteed to attack corners.

The bike’s official unveiling will take place in Milan in a few weeks, and it should start showing up in US showrooms–with a price tag under $10k–in December.

2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796
2010 Ducati Hypermotard 796
A brand new model for 2010, the Hypermotard 796 incorporates many new features requested by Ducatisti worldwide; striking color selections, lighter weight, lower price point, lower seat height, and the inclusion of a super-light action APTC clutch. Whether it’s dicing through the daily commute or attacking the open roads, the 796 perfectly balances Ducati’s unrivalled twin-cylinder power and sportbike heredity with the lightweight and minimalist Supermotard concept. The Hypermotard 796’s engine is a brand new powerplant; air-cooled with 2 valves per cylinder as per Ducati tradition. Rated at 81hp and 56 lb/ft of torque, the engine promises to deliver an exhilarating ride without compromising the smooth tractability found in Ducati’s other L-Twin engines.

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Continued chassis development to the Hypermotard includes redesigned top and bottom fork clamps, and an improved frame layout which eliminates almost all of the forged elements used previously on the 1100. This adds up to an agile, lightweight, 368 pound package that is guaranteed to attack corners.

Ural Loses the Sidecar

Ural Motorcycles are known around the world for their 750cc, boxer-engined, sidecar-equipped adventure bikes.  Now, they are going to give us an old-style, go anywhere, do anything motorcycle without a sidecar.  Named the Ural ST, for Solo Tour, the new bike is supposed to be a lightweight (460lbs) capable all-rounder, much like the Nortons and BSAs I remember as a kid.

2010 Ural ST
2010 Ural ST

Despite dropping the sidecar, it’s still pretty much the same Soviet copy of the 1930s BMW R71 that Commie spys ripped off from the Nazis just prior to WWII.  That means its 70 year-old technology is drop-dead simple to maintain–not that you’ll need to worry much about that, since it’s a design that’s as reliable as hell.

It puts out 40HP and 38 lb-ft of torque, so it’s obviously no speed demon in modern terms.  But, Wes Siler and Grant Ray, of the Hell for Leather motorcycle blog, got to take a ride on it, and they made a key observation, saying it has “a breadth of ability utterly absent from modern motorcycles….capable on gravel or dirt despite road-based tires.”

I suppose that younger readers may find this a bit hard to imagine, but right up into the 1970s, practically all motorcycles were like this.  Apart from the big Harleys, which were more or less purpose-built for highway cruising, here simply wasn’t the level of niche specialization that you see in motorcycles today.  There were no sportbikes, cruisers, power-cruisers, sport-tourers, etc.  There were just…motorcycles.

If you wanted a dirt bike, you put knobby tires on your motorcycle.  If you wanted a touring bike, you picked up a pair of leather saddlebags and threw them over the rear fender.  If you wanted an adventure bike, you got knobby tires, and welded mounts to some surplus .50 caliber or .30 caliber ammo cans and bolted them to the frame for tough, waterproof saddlebags.  Then you hit the road.  Or the dirt.  Whatever.

The Ural ST harks back to those simpler days, with some adjustments for modernity, like a Marzocchi fork, Brembo brakes…and EPA and CARB compliance (Yea, I said “CARB compliance, which means you can get it in California, too). And if you’re going to be in Seattle in the near future, why not give Ural’s office there a call.  They may let you ride one and get your feedback for the production model.

Best of all, the list price is expected to be about $8,000.

New Honda V-4 Seen In the Wild

We’ve seen pre-production spy shots.  We’ve had technical details released.  Now, motoblog.it has captured what looks like a production version of the motorcycle tooling around in the wild.  Click the thumbnails below to enlarge.

It looks nice, and has interesting tech.  So, how much torque and horsepower?  Inquiring minds want to know.

The front headlight still looks like a mutant frog, though.

2009 Streetfighter Comparo

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Motorcycle USA has their comparison of 2009 streetfighter motorcycles online.  In this comparo, they put the Ducati Streetfighter, Buell 1125CR, and the Aprilia Tuono 1000R head to head, both on the track, and on the street.

You’d probably think that the Ducati Streetfighter would be a shoo-in to win this comparo, but surprisingly, they though it was too track-oriented to be a good daily ride.  They liked the Tuono, but thought it was just a tad too light in the torque/acceleration department.  The Buell, on the other hand, had a significant horsepower deficit.  When all the pluses and minuses were added up, Motorcycle USA concluded:

Never in a million years did I think the 1125CR could best the Ducati. But it did. And it isn’t because it’s the fastest or prettiest – because it’s not. Not even close. It’s top dog because it delivers the most important intangible sensation when riding: Fun. It handles so perfectly that you feel like the bike is an extension of one’s being. Its ergonomics are well thought out and while its engine isn’t the fastest, it still has character and delivers all the right sensations, albeit at a tad slower speed. In fact, our only real complaints are some very minor styling and fit-and-finish issues. So, if it’s the best handling, most fun, easiest-to-use Streetfighter that you’re looking for, look no further. Say hello to the 2009 Buell 1125CR.

It really is interesting how often the Buell 1125R comes out on top in these comparison tests.

Norton at Bonneville: Day 7

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He came close, but on the final day’s run, Norton CEO Stuart Garner wasn’t able to crack the 175MPH barrier on the salt flats.  On the final run, the NRV588 matched the 173MPH run of the previous day.  But, the Norton team feels fine about what they accomplished.

Stuart has been remarkably consistent, and let’s face it, 173 mph for a 566cc lightweight racer on the new and strange salt-flat surface is nothing to be ashamed of in any way.

We’ve succeeded in all we set out to do. Stuart has used the opportunity of coming to Bonneville to cement an agency arrangement for the new Norton 961 Commando with Sam Capri’s South Bay Motorcycles, and their assistance at Bonneville has been invaluable, not just in the logistics, but in building an excellent rapport with the team there.

The NRV588 has proved to be a potentially potent force, and not disgraced itself in the slightest – Tony has had almost sod-all to do all week. An occasional oil-change, a daily clean-down to get the salt off, a regular oiling of the chain that tightens as the salt works its way into the rollers, destroying the ‘O’ rings link-seals, fuel top-ups and one wheel change. Howzat for a trouble-free racer, then? There are many, many at Bonneville who would swap their reliability records for ours.

Well, that sounds good then.  So, when can we expect to have the NRV588 available for sale in the United States?

New 2010 Hondas

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Honda has announced four motorcycles–two of them completely new for the US market–for the 2010 model year.  The other two are the 2010 updates for the Fireblade and CBR600.  But it’s the new bikes that should grab some attention.

2010 Honda Shadow Phantom.
2010 Honda Shadow Phantom.

First up is the Shadow Phantom.  Just as the Fury gives Honda a factory chopper, the new Phantom is a factory “dark custom” bobber.  Powered by a 754cc V-Twin with Honda’s new sophisticated Programmed Fuel Injection under the hood, the exterior is all old-school, down to the black wire wheels, and fat front tire.

Most of the engine and body work is blacked out, leaving some chrome on the forks, pipes and rear brackets for a nice accent.  I’ve always thought the Honda air cleaner looked like a chrome tumor on their bikes, but this blacked out version is far more acceptable.

I’m not generally a big fan of Honda cruisers, but this new dark custom is not a bad-looking bike at all.  I guess with Harley-Davidson making a mint on the whole dark custom look, Honda decided to get in on the act, too.  They’ve done a great job with this bike in doing it.

Oh, I guess I’d quibble a bit about doing it on a 750cc bike instead of one of the big twins, but other than that, I give this one a thumbs up.

2010 Honda NT700V
2010 Honda NT700V

The next bike is another sub-1000cc bike aimed for the commuter and light-tourer.  The NT700V is the little brother of the big ST1300 touring bike.  Everything on the NT700V is cut down in size from it’s big brother..but it still has the tip-over wings that the ST guys love so much.

Unlike the ST, the NT has an interesting feature to its saddlebags:  There’s a pass-through space between them, which allows you to put some fairly large items inside the luggage area.  That’s kind of a neat idea.

This is not, by the way, actually a new motorcycle, it’s just new to the US market.  European riders have had access to the NT for a decade now, but Honda has decided to bring the bike to this side of the pond.

It’s powered by a 680cc V-Twin, so it might be a little anemic for two-up riding, but it would probably make a great light tourer for a single rider.  And, coming in at just under$ 10k for the base model, the price is pretty good, too.  ABS brakes are available for another grand.

2010 Honda CBR1000RR
2010 Honda CBR1000RR

The remaining two bikes are updates of Honda’s CBR-series sportbikes.  New for 2010 is a black and orange paint scheme for the Fireblade.  It’s also got the Honda Electronic Steering Damper that increases damping as speed and acceleration increases.  It’s also available with Honda’s racing ABS braking system as well.

The CBR100RR is a top-flight sport-bike, and Honda is carrying on the Fireblade’s venerable tradition in the 2010 model year.

2010 Honda CBR600RR
2010 Honda CBR600RR

The CBR600RR also gets a bit of a facelift for 2010, with some of the Fireblade’s color schemes also available for the 600cc model.

Like the CBR1000RR, the 600 also has an available option for Honda’s racing ABS system.

The pricing and availability for the two CBR models has not yet been announced by Honda.

2010 Ducati Multistrada 1098

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Over the past month or so, some spy shots of the 2010 Ducati Multistrada, equipped with a 140HP version of the 1098 engine, have been popping up.  The trouble is that all of the bike’s body panels have been covered with electrical tape and wrapped with padding or something, so you can’t really see what the bike looks like.  Since that’s the case, I’ve refrained from mentioning it.

Until now.

2010 Ducati Multistrada 1098 - Now with luggage!
2010 Ducati Multistrada 1098 - Now with luggage!

Because this spy shot, taken out of someone’s car window in Italy, shows a little something extra.  Ducati is apparently offering saddlebags and a touring trunk with the new Multistrada.  Yes, the rest of the bike is still covered up with tape and whatnot, but the luggage appears to be shown in all its glory.

The Multistrada isn’t truly an adventure bike competitor with the BMW R1200GS, but with this luggage, it’s just jumped into the  “very nice and versatile sport-tourer” category.

New 2010 Suzukis

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We’ve gotten the first look at two new Suzuki’s for 2010, both of which are new entry-level bikes that take their styling cues from the big boys.

2010 Suzuki GSX-R125
2010 Suzuki GSX-R125

First up is an entry-level Gixxer, the 15-horsepower GSX-R125. The chassis is steel, rather than aluminum, but it does have the LCD instruments of the big Gixxers.

2010 Suzuki GSR-250
2010 Suzuki GSR-250

Next is the baby B-King, the Suzuki GSR-250.  This 30-horsepower naked sports a water-cooled, DOHC-injected, parallel-twin engine.  Like the big B-King, it also has the big LCD gauges, and under-seat storage.

Expect Suzuki to show these bikes off at the motor shows this fall, with sales starting at the first part of 2010.

2010 Can-Am Spyder RT

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It was a test ride of the original, pre-production Can-Am Spyder that got me back into motorcycling a few years ago, after a long hiatus.  So, it’s nice to see Can-Am isn’t just standing still when it comes to updating the trike.  Indeed, for 2010, they’ve taken a big step forward.

2010 Can-Am Spyder RT
2010 Can-Am Spyder RT

In addition to the Roadster, and the semi-automatic-trannied SE5, Can-Am has an all-new RT touring model for 2010.  The Spyder RT has, in addition to the big trunk up front, a touring trunk with passenger backrest and full saddlebags in the rear, as well.  They’ve also completely revamped the lighting, making this tadpole trike almost impossible to miss, with 4 headlights, running lights, etc.

It also has an optional trailer package–color-matched–with 22 ft3 of storage.

That’s a lot of storage.

The RT will come in three versions: a silver base model with a manual transmission, And Audio & Convenience version in silver or blue, with your choice of transmissions, or the RT-S, shown here, which has all the goodies, and a special paint job and styling.

With all the extra gear, Can-Am has also re-tuned the engine to offer more torque and a bit less horsepower, with the Rotax 991cc V-twin putting out 80 lb-ft. @ 5500 RPM, and 100 hp @ 7500 RPM.

No price has been mentioned yet, but we’ll probably learn that at the formal rollout in Quebec on 9-10 September.

Motorcycle-USA has more details.