New BMW GS unveiled on October 2

BMW has announced that the newest RXXXXGS will be unveiled at the INTERMOT show on 2 October. The reason for all the X’s in the bike’s name is…we don’t know what the engine will be. 1200? 1250? 1300? Air-cooled (Probably not)? Rumors have been of a 1250cc water-cooled boxer.

But whatever it is, when we first see it, we will also know what the future of the R1200RT, and the rest of the R-models will be. The GS is the iconic bike in the BMW line-up and the Boxer engine is the heart of BMW’s motorcycle. So, in about a month, BMW will not only be unveiling a new GS model, but also the future of BMW’s motorcycles.

It may be that we will see the end of nearly a century of air-cooled boxers.

Coming to America?

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If You were around in the 1970s, this bike might look familiar to you. It’s the return of the classic Universal Japanese Motorcycle (UJM), in the shape of the Honda CB1100, a bike previously only available in Japan. It looks like nothing other than a slightly modernized version of the venerable 750 Four, right down to the chrome fenders, and it brings back lots of childhood memories. Now a new generation will get to admire the UJM outside of Japan, as the French and italian motor press has revealed that the Bike will be available in Europe next year, where its already been sited in testing. If Europe gets it, can the US be far behind? Stay tuned.

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And speaking of motorcycles from my childhood, Norton is back with the Commando, now in a modern 961cc version, and the lads in Donnington have announced that the Commando 961 will, in fact, be coming to the US. Norton has announced that the three Commando variants have all completed both EPA and CARB durability testing, the first step in getting 50-state approval to import the modern resurrection of this iconic motorcycle.

Assault of the Ninjas!

2012-Kawasaki-Ninja400RcAccording to EPA certification documents, Kawasaki is preparing to drop a whole new set of Ninja models into the US market, as well as the big 1000cc version of the Versys.  Nothing has been announced by Kawasaki, but the US government isn’t subject to company secrecy rules, so this cat is out of the bag.

Kawasaki now has approval to sell the new Ninja 300R, the Ninja 400R that has been available only in Canada until now (the 2012 model of which is shown at left), a brand new version of the ZX-6R that is powered by a 636cc powerplant, and the new Versys 1000 that is currently a European-only model.

Now, the fact that that the EPA has approved all of these models doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to be sold here. I’m not sure at all what purpose the the Ninja 400R would serve, for example, as it’s essentially the current Ninja 650R with smaller cylinders, meaning it has the same weight and size of the 650 with substantially less power, but not a substantially lower price. The Ninja 300R, however, pumps out 7HP more than the 250R.

The Versys 1000, on the other hand, should be a no-brainer for the US market, as the Versys platform is arguably one of the best all-rounders out there, and the increase to 116.4HP on the 100cc version should make it just about perfect for…well…just about any kind of street or highway riding you might do.

Finally, the ZX-6R is interesting in that the 636cc engine now makes it—officially, at least—ineligible for the AMA’s Daytrona SportBike racing class, which limits 4-cylinder bikes to 600cc displacement. The extra 36ccs displacement also add horsepower, brining the new model up to a claimed 129.4 HP.

There is a bit of a down note to all this, sadly, as both the Ninja 400R and Versys 1000 are NOT cleared for California emissions approval, so they cannot be sold there. I suspect Big Green will move quickly for CARB certification, however, if the big Versys sells well in the other 49 states, which it should, as it is, by all accounts, a great motorcycle.

Best Motorcycles of 2012

Motorcycle.Com has announced their picks for the Best Motorcycles of 2012. I note that the Honda NC700X I wrote about previously won a spot on the list as the Best Value in a motorcycle. The Other thing I notice is that BMW pulls away with some of the top honors this year. Best Touring Bike, Best Sportbike, best Sport-Tourer, and an Honorable Mention for Best Scooter. Their motorcycle of the year, however, is the quickest-accelerating production vehicle ever produced: The Kawasaki ZX-14.

The Versys has competition

Honda-NC700XFor a couple of years now, perhaps the best all-round bike has been the Kawasaki Versys. It’s a great beginner bike, a great bike for experience riders, a perfect commuter bike, has great gas mileage…the list goes on.

Honda’s new NC700X new aims to knock the Versys off that perch.

With a base price of under $7,000, a fully kitted out model, like the one shown here, will still run you just under $9,900. That’s with the standard transmission, of course. Honda also has an option with the second-generation DCT transmission, much like the one on my VFR, that also has ABS included in the package, for another 2 grand.

Motorcycle.Com has a full review of the bike, and they really seem to like it. In fact, they say Honda has done nothing less than bring back the UJM—Universal Japanese Motorcycle—with this bike, concluding, "its practicality, performance, comfort and value can’t be overlooked." And speaking of practicality, let’s include gas mileage in that, because the testers got better than 60 miles per gallon.

It’s interesting how quickly Honda has gone to include the DCT automatic transmission in its model line-up. Honda is betting the DCT will become every bit as accepted in motorcycles as it has been in automobiles, where the flappy-paddle gearbox is the standard option on pretty much all the high-end sports cars. I can tell you, from owning the DCT model of the VFR1200F, that the DCT works, and works well.

Other manufacturers should probably take notice.

This Looks Interesting…

MY13_Trophy_Pacific_Blue-1The long-lived staple for Triumph’s touring motorcycle was the Sprint ST. It’s dead now. In it’s place is the new Triumph Trophy, and it looks like a motorcycle aimed squarely at the BMW R1200RT.

The new Trophy has…well…everything, because here in North America, we’ll only be getting the top-of-the-line SE model, which comes fully loaded.

This all-new Triumph rides on an aluminum frame fitted with a single-sided swingarm and shaft final drive, and it is powered by a retuned version of the same 1215cc, dohc, 12-valve three-cylinder engine found in the Tiger Explorer adventure bike. It offers amenities comparable to or even exceeding those of some other big-rig tourers: linked ABS braking; traction control; cruise control; a ride-by-wire throttle system; a large (6.9-gallon) gas tank; a windshield electrically adjustable over a 6½-inch range; 31-liter detachable saddlebags with an optional 55-liter top trunk that includes a 12-volt power port; heated seats and grips; an adjustable-height rider seat; provisions for mounting an optional GPS receiver; a centerstand; and electronically adjustable headlights.

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Needless to say, that makes for a bit of a complicated cockpit, but certainly no more so than the RT has. It even looks quite a bit like the RT, though the its triple powerplant puts out 135HP and 89 torques. That’s 25HP more than the R1200RT, but, it also weighs about 70 pounds more.

No one has gotten one for testing yet, and I have to admit, I’d love to be able to test it, because I’m very curious to see how it stacks up to the RT in comfort and handling. Whatever else you may say about the RT, the handling is unmatched. It’s practically telepathic. It’s the best touring bike I’ve ever ridden in terms of how ridiculously easily it corners. I’d love to see how close Triumph came to nailing that.

I’m also interested in the price, which we won’t know for another month. The thing about the RT has always been that, at around $20,000, that sharp handling and comfort comes at a steep price. And the thing about Triumph has been their ability to price their bikes at a price significantly below the competition.

If they can nail the handling, and still come a couple of K under the price of the RT, they may have a winner with this one.

I’d love a chance to spend the day on one, to see how well dialed-in Triumph’s first stab at an RT-killer is.

The MV Agusta F3 finally arrives.

2013 MV Agusta F3It seems like we’ve been waiting years for it, though it’s been less than two, but MV Agusta’s new 3-cylinder, 675cc supersport bike has finally appeared in production form. You can catch the initial impressions from the guys at Motorcycle USA and Motorcycle.Com, if you’d like, or I can tell you that they all seem to like it. The one thing of note that needs to be addressed is apparently the chassis, which still needs some sorting out.

Still, a 129HP torquey triple, and a MV Agusta design that’s sex on wheels is a good start. That rear wheel, and stubby triple straight-pipe exhaust have me swooning. On the other hand, the bike’s diminutive size, and the contorted riding position would probably soon have me groaning.

Living with the VFR

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I could ride this thing all day and not get tired of it. It’s comfy for my 5’10"/195lb stature. It’s got a great stonkin’ engine. The DCT makes any kind of riding you want to do a joy.

This morning, a guy in a new CBR100RR pulled up next to me, and was checking out the VFR and all I could think was, "you poor bastard…your bike sucks."

Admittedly, he may feel differently.

I’ve been pounding around recently in manual mode, and man, this thing moves when you get the RPMs up over 5k. It pulls like a truck. The Sport mode in auto is nice, and has lots of get up and go, but in manual mode, when you just let it pull to the redline for every gear, it’s scary fast.

In parking lots, the DCT is about 1,000 times better than the FJR’s YCCS tranny. It’s easy to maneuver, though it does require a tad a foot-braking to keep it settled in low-speed maneuvering. It feels way lighter than 600 lbs, even trundling around at a walking pace.

Which I do as little as possible.

I’ve been asked about vibration. Yeah, it’s there in manual mode. It’s more noticeable at higher revs. But, to me, it’s part of the character of the V4, and I like it. And you really have to push it before the vibration becomes anything more than part of the background.

I’m immensely satisfied with the bike.

Dear Triumph: Build this!

six-monkees-daytona-1050-530x384This comes to me via the Kneeslider. It’s a Triumph Speed Triple, modified by a German outfit called Six Monkeys. Yes, that’s a Daytona 675 fairing. It’s also got some other tricked out bits.

It’s also a very cool Speed Triple conversion, and I’d bet it’s fun as hell to ride.

The question I have is, why isn’t Triumph building one of these. I mean, the Daytona is a nice Supersport, but a fully faired…let’s call it a Daytona 1050…would be a sharp motorcycle.

And, after all, some of prefer our bikes to have a fairing and a bit of wind protection.

Motus: It’s on!

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Motus Motorcycles, a new company, making motorcycles with a proprietary 1650cc V-4 engine, says that at least 8 dealerships will receive the two Motus models in the summer or fall of this year.

The MST model is the sport-touring version shown above. It will boast 165 HP, Öhlins front suspension, and Givi hard bags. The MST-R is the sportier, 185hp roadster version, sans bags, full Öhlins suspension, and other performance goodies. List price for the MST starts at $30,975, and $36,975 for the MST-R.

A bit pricey, but you get what you pay for, I guess.

So, I decided to unwind the VFR a bit…

…and here’s what happened.

It’s 6:30am, and I’m on an empty road outside of town, stopped at a light. Since there’s no traffic, I thought, "why not see what this baby can do?" So, I popped her into manual leaned forward, and peged the throttle as soon as the light turned green.

Nothing much happened. I mean, it pulled briskly off the light, as good or better than the FJR ever did, I guess, but it was just—I dunno. Boring. No excitement. Just smooth acceleration. "Well," I thought to myself, "for a bike that’s supposed to be capable of a sub 3-second 0-60, and a 10 second 1/4 mile, this isn’t very impressive."

Then the tach hit 4,000 RPM.

The VFR leapt forward as if a giant had smashed the back of the bike with a hammer, my arms jerked against my shoulder sockets, and the front wheel gently lofted off the ground.

I quickly decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

That was just…scary. In a split second, the VFR want from a tame little kitten to a rampaging beast. The FJR never did that.

I’ve gotten through the fist 600 miles, and I’ve been letting it unwind a bit. And I can tell that this is an extraordinary machine. It certainly has far more power than you could ever legally use on the street. It’s an absolute hoot.

It wants to take curves—even very sharp ones—far faster than the FJR did. It may not be quite as fast or sharp-handling as a 1000cc Gixxer on the track, but it’s pretty sporty for a middle-aged gentleman like myself. Or almost anyone else for that matter.

If you wanna rip, the VFR1200 will rip. If you want to take it slow and easy, the VFR will accommodate. The ergonomics, now that I’ve gotten used to them, aren’t uncomfortable at all, though more sporty than the other sport-tourers.

Handling is decently sharp, and turn-in is relatively easy, although it takes some conscious rider input. I blame the tires for that, and I’m still planning on getting rid of the EOM Dunlops at the earliest opportunity.

The more I ride the VFR1200, the more I like it. I love the DCT, and the ability to switch between manual and automatic modes. I like the size. I just like it. So far, I haven’t found a major negative aspect of the bike to complain about.

News you can use

Here’s a fantastic resource. Motorcycle Consumer News has released their performance index of all motorcycles for 2012. It’s right here in PDF format. It’s got just about every bike available today in it, and it shows their performance test results in a number of areas, including weight, HP, Motor type, MPG, top speed, 0-60, 0-100, 1/4 mile time, HP:Weight ratio, and more. It’s chock full of goodness.

I note that my VFR rates 148.9 RWHP, with a 10.16 1/4 mile @ 134.9 MPH. 0-60 in 2.7 secs.

Funny, it doesn’t feel that fast when you’re on it. Angry smile

(H/T Rider Groups)

~
Dale Franks
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