Motorcycle.Com has a head-to-head comparo between the two hottest mid-sized adventure bikes in the world right now. It looks like it was tough choice between these two, too. Just take a look at the dyno graphs.
It’s a fascinating comparo, because the two bikes are just so close together in features. Triumph even replicated the layout of controls and accessory power ports on the BMW. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess.
At the end of the day, it seems the only difference between these two machines is their relative street/trail performance. Which one is best really depends on how you’re going to use it, but, as a practical matter, both are great.
There’s still something about that Triumph triple powerplant, though…
Cycle World once again picks the 10 best bikes for the year. They’re unveiling the results day by day. It was no surprise that yesterday’s pick for top standard was the new, improved Kawasaki Z1000, which, by all accounts, is a fantastic motorcycle. The brand new Triumph Tiger 800XC, was a bit of a surprise as the best Dual-Sport, though. I think that may change when the new wears off the Trumpet.
Similarly, today has a surprise, too. The shocker is not that the Ducati Multistrada wins the best open streetbike award. It may be one of the best all-round motorcycles ever produced by anyone. Personally, it’s the best motorcycle I’ve ever ridden. The unexpected win for today is that the Ducati Diavel–a bike that has only been available in the US for several weeks–has been selected as the best cruiser of the year.
While I’ve seen it, I haven’t gotten to ride it yet, but I don’t think it’s a “cruiser”. It’s definitely something, but, aside from seating position and fat rear tire, it’s not what comes to mind when I think of a cruiser.
But congrats to Ducati. These two bikes account for a hefty share of the 61% sales increase Ducati has achieved in the US over the last quarter.
The Ural line of motorcycles has a fascinating history. And, as far as modern bikes go, it’s about as close as you can get to a real old-school motorcycle, without actually rummaging around in a junkyard.
I admit, I have a fascination for them. In my mind’s eye, I picture myself setting off across the trackless wastes of the Mojave, or riding down mountain deer trails. In real life, of course, I would actually do none of those things, ever, but if I had a Ural I could. No doubt when the aliens attack, or the astroid hits, I’ll really wish I had one.
In any event, Motorcycle.Com has a 2011 Ural Gear-Up Review showcasing the highlights of the Gear Up, Ural’s two-wheel drive, go anywhere, do anything model.
It’s also pretty affordable for what you get: a sidecar with loads of space and a 400lb cargo allotment, 2-wheel drive for the sticky bits of wilderness, and, apparently, a fair amount of chick-magnetism. I suspect a lot more ladies feel more comfy at the prospect of riding in a sidecar, than on the back of a two-wheeler. And I syspect the actual ride would be more comfy, too.
Also, a note to prospective owners in California: California law does not require a motorcycle license to operate a sidecar motorcycle, or any other vehicle with more than two wheels.
Motorcycle-USA did a comparo between the 2011 Star Stratoliner Deluxe, Kawasaki Vulcan Vaquero, and Harley-Davidson Street Glide. It was close, but the Street Glide won.
Now, maybe it was a little unfair, because the Street Glide was not the standard model, but the one equipped with the “Power Pack” options package of the 103ci mill, and ABS. On the other hand, it was still the slowest bike in the comparo. So why did it narrowly win?
Comfort on long rides is second to none in every aspect. The seating position is upright and relaxed, and the saddle has the perfect profile, putting less pressure on your posterior than the other two machines in this test. Long days in the saddle are pain and ache free, which can’t be said for the Vaquero or Stratoliner Deluxe. There is no better seat on a bagger than the Street Glide’s…
“Without a doubt the Harley is the most fleet-footed bagger in this test. It is lighter and it feels lighter. It has the shortest wheelbase and as a result is the most agile in the turns. The suspension is very good as well. On the highway it feels firm and doesn’t exactly float like you would expect. But then in the hills it feels taught and gives the best feedback of these three bikes.”
I would’ve liked to see how a Victory Cross Country would compare in a test like that.
Moto Guzzi isn’t the easiest brand to find over here, and dealerships are few and far between. Yet, Moto Guzzi still has a dedicated fan base, who’ll probably be a little happier knowing the Griso 8V SE is coming to America. The Griso itself isn’t new over here, of course, but the SE model, with its distinctive styling, has only been available in Europe.
Some might say the engine looks a bit too…agricultural, and, well, I guess I’d be among them. The Griso’s air/oil-cooled 1151cc slant twin does put out a respectable 95hp and 73lb-ft of torque, which combined with the responsive steering and chassis will have you surprising supersports in the twisties–assuming you put on some stickier tires than the EOM Pirelli Scorpions. And that’s even counting the fact that, at 555 lbs–mainly thanks to a big, honkin’ shaft drive–it’s a bit on the portly side.
On the other hand, a day of canyon carving won’t leave you with a notched back and stiff knees.
Motorcycle Daily has taken the new , VFR800-based 2011 Crossrunner out on the road to put it through its paces.
The Crossrunner was introduced last fall as a 2011 model at the EICMA show in Italy as bike with offroad pretensions–and pretensions is pretty much all they are. Really, this is a street bike, although one powered by the 782cc V-4 VTEC mill that powers the European version of the Interceptor. That’s not a bad heritage for any streetbike.
Unlike the VFR, however, the Crossrunner sports comfy, upright ergonomics to go along with its V-4 character.
The pluses appear to be a bike that, like the Suzuki Bandit, offers you a torquey engine with 100HP, a relaxed riding position. The down side for the sporting enthusiast, is the 530lbs wet weight, but in general it seems like it would be a fun bike.
Motorcycle Daily got four different riders/writers to asses the 2011 Triumph Sprint GT, the longer, fatter, heavier American version of the Sprint ST–which is still available in Europe–and write down their impressions.
Essentially, the four different motojournalists seemed to say, “Nice, but too heavy with too long a wheelbase.” Which is pretty much what I thought when the initial specs came out.
I guess we’re just in the middle of a trend to larger and heavier motorcycles right now. Unless you buy a crotch rocket, and can live with the scrunched up riding position. Cruisers are sporting 1800cc mills now, the sport tourers are up to 13oocc+, all with heavier engines, frames, etc.
It’s beginning to look every bike will soon be a Gold Wing.
Motorcycle Daily has weighed in with their first impression of the Ducati Diavel. Unlike some other reviews, they seem impressed by the handling–even at low speeds.
But perhaps the best impress in comes from one of the article’s commenters, who quips that it looks like somebody finally made a V-Rod that works.
A few days ago I noted that the big 240-section rear tire on the new Ducati Diavel seemed like it would make handling a bit less fun. But lots of reviews from European writers say it’s fine. New Diavel ride reviews are in from Motorcycle USA and Motorcycle.com, and both of them bring the subject up in somewhat different terms.
Motorcycle USA’s Bart Madson writes:
[T]he Diavel is probably the best-handling fat rear we’ve ever sampled.
But that’s somewhat damning praise, as there are inherent issues with the rear. Some in our journalistic riding troupe vocalized zero flaws, but we noted a hinky sensation on low-speed maneuvers. Sharp hairpins exhibited a flopping sensation when pitching over. Quick transitions, more noticeable at lower speeds as well, also delivered an awkward feel. The 240mm rear didn’t have us bitching and moaning as a deal breaker by any means. It just left us wondering what that Diavel could been had it been delivered with a more conventional tire choice.
Motorcycle.Com’s Pete Brissette echoes the sentiment, somewhat more technically:
The big rear tire works for me as part of the Diavel’s styling; however, the rear tire’s low-speed handling performance doesn’t work quite so well for my tastes.
Initial turn-in response is neutral; transitioning from upright to three-fourths lean is a fairly smooth, linear-feeling process. But it’s the last little bit of lean you might initiate to complete the turn that results in a “falling in” sensation, as though the tire’s profile is more triangulated than it appears.
As I rolled into the throttle to power out of the apex of a turn, the bike would sometimes exhibit a front-end “push” – like the rear of the bike was chasing the front – depending on the radius of a turn and camber of the road.
This is not to say the Diavel’s handling isn’t light-years better than just about any cruiser you can name, but it’s not as good as any other Ducati you can name either.
Ultimately a 62.2″ wheelbase, and 240 rear tire are what they are, and the effect on handling is ultimately insurmountable. Geometry and physics are pretty unforgiving taskmasters. On the other hand, though, handling that isn’t quite up to snuff in Ducati terms probably equals vastly superior handling in, say, V-Max terms.
Actually, remove the word “probably” from the previous sentence.
It seems to be Diavel week here, what with the big Ducati press launch in Marbella, Spain. The UK’s foremost motorcycle writer, Kevin Ash, got to ride the Diavel at the press launch, and he seems to like it.
And, by “like it”, I mean that it sounds like he wants the Diavel to come with candles, a bottle of wine, and a condom.
The first ride reports are trickling in from the Ducati’s press launch for the Diavel in Marbella, Spain. Visordown’s ride review tells me exactly what I wanted to know about the Diavel. My main concern in looking at the specs of the Diavel was the handling. It’s a bike with a long wheelbase, and a big, honkin’ 240-section rear tire. That just screams “slow turn-in!” to me. But, according to Visordown, Ducati has somehow done something special that those specs don’t capture.
The real ace up the Diavel’s sleeve is its handling. A massive 240-section rear tyre and a long wheelbase are not the ideal ingredients if you want a bike to handle, but – and I’m not sure how – the Diavel doesn’t suffer one bit…What really stood out to me was that throughout the whole day, I didn’t think about the bike’s handling once. It went exactly where I wanted it to, not once did I feel like I was running wide, or that I could do with more ground clearance. There are no footboards gouging the tarmac here, no concerns about getting home with half of your exhaust chamfered off. It doesn’t just handle well for a cruiser, it handles well for a sportsbike…When the rear Pirelli can’t cope, Ducati’s Traction Control steps in and gently corrects your over enthusiastic demands, keeping the rear wheel in line and most bikes struggling to keep up.
Sadly, there are no Diavel’s available yet on this side of the pond, but my crystal ball tells me that sometime in the near future, I’ll be begging Balz Ringli at Moto Forza for a Diavel test ride.
The world motorcycling press is gathering in Marbella, Spain for the unveiling of the 2011 Ducati Diavel. Already, reports are filtering in, including from Motorcyclist Magazine, who give us their first look and test ride reports.
What’s interesting to note from this report is how serious the Ducati guys were about building a cruiser-style bike that didn’t sacrifice performance. Ducati officials relate it to the commitment they had to creating the the new Multistrada 1200S, making it a bike with serious, Ducati performance. Based on my experience with the new Multistrada, they certainly did that. So, how’d they fare with the Diavel?
Well, Motorcyclist seems to like it.
Overall, the Diavel is surprisingly easy to ride fast, aided by Superbike-spec Brembo radial-mount brakes, a firm, 50mm Marzocchi inverted fork, a perfectly controlled Sachs shock and generous cornering clearance allowing a claimed 40-degree lean angle. Slicing and dicing through downtown L.A. traffic on a busy Friday morning, it felt much more like a broad-shouldered Monster than a V-Max or any other so-called “sport cruiser” that has come before.
It looks better, too. The level of fit and finish is the finest we’ve seen on any Ducati-maybe on any bike…It’s an impressive machine that attracts attention even from non-riders who don’t know a Ducati from a Dodge. That’s the one trait it does share with a custom chopper: Everyone notices this bike.
Sadly, I haven’t has a chance to ride the Diavel yet, so, for now, I’ll take their word for it. What I do have are lots of lovely pictures, shown in the gallery below. That should satisfy any Diavel jones you might be feeling.
Austria’s big motorcycle company, KTM, has been trying to break into the literbike class for a couple of years now with the RC8, a bike that’s a bit of a departure for a company mainly known for its off-road products. Sadly, though, the KTM, with its unusually geometric styling, has been a hard sell. Not for the styling so much–although it takes a bit of getting used to–but for the rather iffy performance of the bike itself.
On paper, it looks like an equal contender to the V-Twin Aprilias and Ducatis. On the track, though, it’s been a bit disappointing. Iffy and snatchy throttling, and overly stiff suspension have amounted to a bike that one wants to love as a top-flight literbike…but can’t. Especially for the rather premium price that comes with the KTM logo.
For 2011, KTM says they’ve made a host of minor changes that completely transform the character of the bike. Is that true? Well, Motorcycle-USA’s Adam Waheed and Steve Atlas took one of the new RC8s to the track to see.
Their judgement is that a new crankshaft and flywheel, remapped throttling, dual spark plugs, new slipper clutch, and a suspension overhaul have radically improved the RC8.
What remains to be seen–and hopefully we’ll see it soon–is a head-to-head comparo of the RC8 with its superbike brethren.
One thing to note about the RC* is the placement of the exhaust, which is slung directly under the bike at the centerline, the same as the BMW S1000RR. Or as practically every Buell motorcycle, where that configuration appeared first.
I’m just saying.
Once again, the Harley-Davidson Road Glide shows up in a 2011 bagger showdown, this time being pitted against the Kawasaki Vaquero by Motorcycle.Com. They compared the two bikes head to head and found out a couple of interesting things.
First up, is the issue of power. If you shell out a cool two grand extra for the 103ci Harley PowerPak mill, then the power and torque curves of the two bukes are practically identical. That tells us two things: That the PowerPak package from Harley-Davidson gives you competitive engine performance, while the standard 96ci engine is underpowered relative to other bikes in the class. Of course, we’re talking about heavy touring cruisers here, so power may not be your priority when it comes to purchasing. And if it is, that $1995 premium for the PwerPak seems a bit…steep.
The other thing we learned is that Harley-Davidson’s new chassis and geometry for the baggers has really improved their handling quite a bit. The Road Glide has always been the best handling of the big Harleys anyway, so this improvement must be particularly noticeable. Having said that, the Road Glide’s suspension seems to still be a bit “meh”.
The big difference between these two bike is the price. With equivalent engines and accessories, the Vaquero comes in at a miserly $16,499 compared to the lofty $22,149 sticker price of the Road Glide. That means for almost the price of the Road Glide, you could by a Vaquero for touring…and a Versys for commuting.
Motorcycle USA has published their head-to-head comparison of the Victory Vision and the Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra.
Visually, these could not–except for size–be two more different-looking motorcycles. The Road Glide is a blast from the past, showing of the signature Harley-Davidson style that has been little changed since the 1960′s. Some say that’s a bad thing, demonstrating a lack of willingness to push their designs forward from Peter Fonda’s Captain America hippie-era. The Victory Vision, on the other hands, looks as if it comes to us from 40 years in the future, rather than 40 years in the past. Some say that’s a bad thing, too, making the Victory an exceptionally execrable example of Arlen Ness-iness gone wild.
Underneath the looks, however, both of these bikes are designed to do one thing and do it well: eat up the day by effortlessly cruising the highway.
Both bikes have their admirers and detractors, of course, but what’s surprising in the MotoUSA test is that they both do it equally well. It seems that which bike to prefer really comes down to a matter of taste. their that closely matched.
Personally, if the day ever comes when I want to dip my toes in the cruiser well, the Road Glide will be my bike of choice.
Sadly, though, if I got rid of my FJR, my inner hooligan would incline me to look for something a little…faster. For instance, I certainly intend to personally test the new BMW K1600GT when it becomes available.