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.

Yamaha Announces 2010 Model Lineup


2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 Special Edition
2010 Yamaha YZF-R1 Special Edition

Yamaha has announced the remainder of their 2010 motorcycle lineup, and all the models for 2010 are now up on their web site.  There are several changes for the new model year, of course, although few big ones.

One of the biggest changes appears to be the elimination of the clutchless FJR1300AE version of their flagship sports tourer.  Beyond that, both the R1 and R6 get bold new graphics packages.  The R1 also has a Special Edition graphics package that replicates the graphics on Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP R1.  Other than that, the R1 remains unchanged.

The R6, on the other hand, gets a host of changes to replace the power loss that environmental controls imposed on the 2009 models.  Included in the changes for the R6 are “optimized the intake funnels and airbox”, changing the diameter of the exhaust pipe, a 100mm longer muffler, and new ECU mapping to put back low and mid-range power.

2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe.
2010 Star Stratoliner Deluxe.

Yamaha has also introduced a new flagship “casual full dress touring” bike, the Stratoliner Deluxe.  the new Deluxe sports a streamlined bat-wing fairing and matching bags.  The fairing also has speakers and iPod connectivity.  This new bike gives Yamaha a direct competitor to the Harley-Davidson Street Glide and Victory Cross Country.  The Deluxe uses the same 1854cc V-Twin engine and chassis as the base-model Stratoliner.

I’ve always felt the styling on the Star Cruisers–the Venture excepted–were attractive and the Stratoliner Deluxe adds yet another attractive cruiser to the Star line-up.

More information about the 2010 Line-up can be found at Motorcycle USA.

New 2010 Hondas


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


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


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


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.

2010 Roehr 1250sc First Ride


Motorcycle USA has posted the results of Executive Editor Steve Atlas’ first ride of the new Roehr 1250sc sportbike.  I’ve written about the Roehr’s technical specs and general background before, but this is the first time I’ve seen an independent write-up of it.

MCUSA has a lot to say about the bike, some of it good:

[I]n the world of B-roads and canyon passes the Roehr is right at home. It works reasonably well at the track but without a doubt, the power and the unorthodox way in which it’s produced, is more suited for street riding…

This type of power delivery is exactly what is needed to make it a fun and entertaining sportbike on the street. And while Walter [Roehr] himself can tell me how great that engine is and the potential it has until he’s blue in the face, it’s hard to get your head around it until you actually ride the thing. And after riding it on the roads, there’s no question the supercharged V-Twin philosophy works very well.

Some of it bad:

It handles very similar to the 1198 though it simply doesn’t have the gearing to keep pace with its Italian counterpart. Initial power is on par but it runs-out quickly as we were often hitting the rev-limiter while finding that happy medium between getting a good drive and battling to keep traction from the stock Diablo Corsa tires…The problem is that the engine hits redline before ten-grand so there’s not much margin for error when connecting corners on the track because it builds quickly.

Although it seems like a handful on the track, the ergos seem built for track days.

Seating position and ergonomics feel very much like a Tamburini-era Ducati. The reach to the bars is a bit stretched out, the tank is long and skinny, the riding position is aggressive and the cockpit itself is reminiscent of the Italian Twins.

To be fair, this isn’t a bike designed for the track.  So, despite the sportbike looks and ergonomics, it’s really a street bike, and from what the write-up indicates, it’s not really designed for the track.  Obviously it can be done, as the reviewer did here, but the Roehr apparently isn’t really at home there, as the reviewer repeatedly assures us.

So, if it wasn’t designed for the track, why the tortuous Italian ergonomics?  Who wants to ride on the street stretched out over the gas tank?  And if it’s not designed for the track, then why have the fully-adjustable–and expensive–Öhlins setup?

Reading over the review, it seems like this bike is neither fish nor fowl.  It’s got all this race-spec stuff jammed on a bike that has a power-cruiser engine with a redline at 9500 RPM.  It has massive–nearly 100lb-ft–street-usable torque, but you’re forced to tuck like Valentino Rossi just to take a spin to the corner store.

Then there’s the price.  At $42,000, it’s not going to be a high volume selling item.  For about half the price, you could get a Ducati that will smoke it like a cheap cigar.

So who’s going to buy it?  And why?  I mean, it has a great engine for a sport-tourer, but not a sportbike.  It’s got great sport-bike/track ergonomics, but not a very suitable powerplant.  From what I can tell, riding it on the street will quickly get tiring and uncomfortable, and when it hits the track, a 193HP CBR will eat it for lunch.  It may be exactly the bike Mr. Roehr wants to ride, but I don’t see it as a good competitor with either street or sport bikes at it’s price, so I have to wonder, who else besides him wants to ride it?

It seems like an interesting bike, but, at the end of the day, it also seems like the answer to a question that no one asked.

i, n the world of B-roads and canyon passes the Roehr is right at home. It works reasonably well at the track but without a doubt, the power and the unorthodox way in which it’s produced, is more suited for street riding. Very few production motorcycles utilize forced-induction so this wasn’t something I was used to. In fact, it was the first sportbike of this kind I’ve ever ridden.

Thankfully, it’s well engineered and the ‘scary hit of power’ commonly associated with other forced-induction-powered bikes just doesn’t exist on the Roehr. But, that’s not to say it isn’t fast. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Power comes on from low rpm smoothly and gets the American-made 1250 moving with some serious steam. As one can see from the dyno chart it makes 167.5-hp at the rear wheel, which is nothing to scoff at on any level.

2010 Honda Gold Wing


Honda has announced their 2010 line-up of the Gold Wing model.  And for this exciting new year’s models, Honda has sent its top engineers back to the drawing board with this motorcycle, in order to come up with a number of big changes to the colors in which it is available. And why would they do anything else?  As honda puts it, “How do you improve on perfection?”

How, indeed.

This year, The Gold Wing is available in four colors instead of five:  Basic Black, Gunmetal Gray, Dried-Blood Red, and International Safety yellow.

As an added feature, now that the Marysville, OH plant has been shut down they’re guaranteed to be manufactured in Japan.

This is a very exciting time for Honda, I guess.

Anyway, you can see the new lineup here, if you’re interested.

2010 Confederate P120 Fighter Combat


Confederate Motorcycles, the Louisiana-based maker of extremely high-end motorcycles, is all set to publicly unveil their newest model, on August 14th at “The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering” in Carmel, CA.  The new P-120 Fighter Combat is powered by a 1966cc V-Twin engine, that puts out 160HP and 145lb-ft of torque.  As you can see from the pictures below, this model proves once again that Confederate is not…um…enslaved to conventional concepts of motorcycle design.

It’s very…shiny.

No word from  Confederate on what the production number will be.  They have production runs of anywhere from 35 bikes to 150 bikes per model, but whatever the number is, it’s going to be a very small number.  And the price tag will be a very large number, i.e. in the 6-digit range.

Hmmm.  You’d think that when you shell out 100 grand for a motorcycle, you’d at least get wheels matched to the design of the bike, wouldn’t you?  Heck, for that kind of money, you’d kind of expect the motorcycle to have a rear brake, too.

Well, you’d be wrong.

2010 V-Max Released

Yamaha’s Star brand of cruiser motorcycles has announced that the new, monstrously powerful 2010 V-Max is on sale as of today.  Sporting a 1679cc liquid-cooled 65° V-4 engine putting out 200 Horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque , the V-Max is the 800-pound gorilla of cruisers.

There’s a downside to this power, though.  27MPG fuel efficiency off of a 4-gallon tank means a refueling stop after less than 100  miles, unless you want to push it.  And the handling, while reportedly improved over the pre-2009 models, is still less than optimal.  So, no touring or twisties for this beast, just simple hot-rodding.

There’ve been no changes to the V-Max from 2009, except the new Cherry red paint.

2010 Indian Motorcycles

Indian Motorcycle is America’s oldest motorcycle brand–although not, it should be pointed out, the oldest continuous manufacturer, due to an unfortunate number of bankruptcies.  The venerable brand keeps being revived though, and in its current incarnation, the company has unveiled its 2010 lineup of Indian Chief motorcycles at Sturgis.  Top among them is Indian’s version of a dark custom motorcycle, the Dark Chief.

A special model for the 2010 year is the Indian Chief bomber, a motorcycle whose styling is based on World War II aircraft.  According to the company:

Inspired by WWII aircraft, the Bomber is a limited edition Chief model and will only be available for one year. The Bomber is available in Military Green and Silver Smoke finishes. The pin-up girl tank artwork is inspired by the Bomber nose art of that era. The leather used on the seat and saddlebags are reminiscent of the feel and color of an old bomber jacket.

If you want an Indian, be prepared to shell out some serious cash.  The price for an entry-level model starts at $25,999, and goes up from there.