I think we can call it confirmed: Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 (Updated)

I suspect that unemployment in Italy’s technology sector is about to rise very slightly.

Via Asphalt & Rubber, it seems that some excitable webmaster has jumped the gun, and put the downloadable service manuals for the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 and Dorsoduro 1200 ABS online in the maintenance section of Aprilia’s web site. Since Aprilia hasn’t even announced this bike, other than via rumor, and its release probably wasn’t even scheduled until the EICMA show in Milan in November, this is certainly going to take the wind out of the sails of Aprilia’s PR department.

As far as the bike itself, we can’t tell much about its power output, but we now know it sports an 1197cc v-twin engine, and weighs 492lbs wet.

Oh, and, since I suspect that Aprilia will probably yank this off the Internet in due course, here’s my personal copy of the  2011 Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200 & 1200ABS User Manual, in English and Dutch.  Enjoy.

Oh, and I think we can confirm that there will, in fact, be a Dorsoduro 1200 for 2011.

UPDATE (8/12/10): Sadly, it won’t be a Dorsoduro that we see on this side of the pond. Aprilia says: “We are extremely pleased with the sales of the Dorsoduro 750 and do not plan on importing the 1200 at this time.”

So, none for the US market at all for 2011.

2011 Triumph Adventure Bike

2011 Triumph Adventure Bike Teaser Image
2011 Triumph Adventure Bike Teaser Image

We don’t know much about it, but as of today, at least we know that the new 2011 adventure bike from Triumph will sport a three-cylinder engine.   A look of utter shock and surprise fails to cross my face at this news, since Triumph’s premier engine is the 675 or 1050 triple.

That’s about all we know, though.

Triumph fails to release any hard details about the engine, aside from vague descriptions of it having a long stroke. Rumors put displacement at around 800cc, to line it up with the popular F800GS.

More details will have to wait, as Triumph seems keen on teasing everyone about this one.

That’s irritating.

The next release of information–such as it is–will be about September first.

2011 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra

The Road Glide has always been my favorite Harley-Davidson.  I really don’t like the bat-wing fairing on the other big tourers, mainly because I hate the idea of an extra 50 pounds riding on the forks. But the Roag Glide, with its fixed fairing is the best-handling of the big Harleys I’ve ridden–with the exception of the Road King–and I absolutely hated the Electra Glide Ultra.

2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra
2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra

For 2011, Harley has introduced a new Ultra version of the Road Glide, with all the touring amenities of the Electra- Glide Ultra.  Dain Gingerelli at Motorcycle.Com got his hands on one and was able to take it for a spin.  You can read his review at your leisure, but the thing I found interesting was that he highlighted the fact that for 2011, the MoCo is now offering a Power Pak package, the centerpiece of which is not the venerable TC96 powerplant H-D has produced for years, but a new 103ci motor, with increased torque and–to the extent that it matters on a big touring cruiser–horsepower.  And the Power Pak does seem like a pretty good value for the money, considering that you get more than just the engine:

Now for the even better news: the optional Power Pak costs $1,995, a bargain when you consider that the cost for upgrading a standard 96-cubic-inch engine is about that for parts and labor alone. Think of the ABS and security system as a bonus. Ditto for the engine ID emblem.

And the 103ci mill is a big improvement, with 102 ft-lbs of torque at 3,500 RPM. That’s just shy of a 10% increase over the TC96’s output.

However, you should probably be aware of this, before you buy:

Which begs the question: why doesn’t Harley-Davidson equip all of the Big Twin line with this bigger and better engine? Good question, and when asked, one Harley spokesman merely smiled.

The TC96 is not a bad engine, at all.  But a 1574cc engine for a big cruiser when the Big Four are running 1800cc – 2000cc mills–with signifigantly more power–in their competing bikes makes the TC96 a comparatively underpowered engine for such large bikes.  Even Victory has switched their entire model line over to a 106ci mill for their 2011 models. And by comparison, the 2011 Victorys’ engine will put out–depending on the factory options you want–up to 113 ft-lbs of torque, or nearly 10% more than the Harley’s 103ci mill does.

The TC96–despite being unveiled in 2007–is just a bit long in the tooth, in the sense that it produces torque and horsepower that reflect the standards of an engine generation ago. It’s better than the 93ci mill it replaced, but it still isn’t on a par with the big Japanese cruiser motors, or the motor that will grace this year’s Victory motorcycles.

I think that smile on the H-D representative’s face indicates that H-D is gearing up for another change to the engine line-up in the next model year or two.  With Victory doing so this year, I suspect that makes a change at Harley inevitable in the near future.

So, your question has to be, “Do I want the bigger engine now?, Or can I wait a season or two until it’s standard equipment, and most likely cheaper?”

Ride Reports: 2011 Harley Davidsons

Motorcycle.Com kicks it off with their ride on the new Sportster 883 SuperLow.  H-D has redesigned the suspension of this bike to give it a smoother ride and more suspension travel, all while keeping the seat height only two feet from the ground. Sadly, those improvements, while increasing the ride quality, haven’t–and can’t, really–solve the problem of cornering clearance with a lowered bike. There’s a host of improvements on the bike, however, meaning that the “SuperLow checks in with new suspension calibrations front and rear, new wheel and tires sizes, new fork and gas tank, even a new and better-padded solo seat.”

meanwhile, Motocycle USA went straight to the high-end bikes, checking out the new CVO custom editions of the Road Glide, Street Glide, Electra Glide, and Soft Tail. These are Harley’s top-of-the-line bikes, and are all Powered by the 110ci V-Twin, rather than the standard 96ci plant.  This gives them a nice bit of extra oomph that the standard models don’t have.

Harley-Davidson introduces the 2011 lineup (Updated)

Harley-Davidson unveiled their new model year bikes today, expanding the product line to 32 motorcycles. OK, so its really more like 32 versions of the same 4 motorcycles. Whatever.

Still missing from the Harley lineup for 2011: a beginner bike of any kind, and more specifically, one that can be used in the company’s proprietary Rider’s Edge program for training beginning riders. H-D indicates such a bike will be available within three years. I doubt that’s very comforting to dealers who need the bikes for the program now, however. And I’m not sure that Harley is going to like the image of riders on Honda Rebels taking their proprietary training.

Anyway, the full press release can be found here.

The three new models are shown below.

2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra
2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra
2011 Harley Davidson XR1200X
2011 Harley Davidson Sportster XR1200X
2011 Harley Davidson Sportster Super Low
2011 Harley Davidson Sportster Super Low

Of the three new bikes, only one is relatively new, the XR1200X–which has been out for almost a year–one is an “Ultra” trim model of the the existing Road Glide, and one is a lowered Sportster 883.

The Super Low is the bike Harley-Davidson now says is suited for beginning riders. Personally, I think anything over 650cc is a bit too much for a beginning rider.  If you positively have to start riding a V-Twin, I’d recommend the V-Star Classic or the Suzuki S50, both of which are substantially lighter, and substantially less expensive–$1500 in the case of the V-Star–than the Super Low.

If you really want a good beginner bike, skip cruisers and sport bikes altogether, and get a Kawasaki Versys. It’s 100 pounds lighter, it sits the rider up high enough that you can see over traffic–and traffic can see you–far more maneuverable and confidence inspiring, and still costs $500 less than the Harley.

In my opinion, you need some miles under your belt before buying a Harley–or a Kawasaki Vulcan 900, or a Honda VTX 1300, for that matter. Later on, if you want a big cruiser, then save your pennies for a Road Glide. As far as I’m concerned, the Road Glide is the nee plus ultra of big V-Twin  cruisers.

A Big Upgrade for Victory

2011 Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vision
2011 Arlen Ness Signature Victory Vision

Victory Motorcycles–the other American motorcycle company–has announced their 2011 model line, and the big news is that they’ve dropped the smaller V-Twin, and now provide every bike in their line-up with the big 106ci V-Twin, as well as a new 6-speed transmission.

Riders also have a choice of bikes sporting Stage 1 or Stage 2 factory tunes as well.  Stage 1 engines put out 92HP and 109 ft-lbs of torque, while the Stage 2 tune provides 97HP and 113ft-lbs of torque. In  general, the bigger, touring models will have the Stage 1 engine, while the smaller (relatively) bikes will have the Stage 2 cams, making their street cruisers pretty…uh…rockety.

All of the bikes will also sport the upgraded cockpit instrumentation found on last year’s Cross Roads, and the service interval has been increased to 5,000 miles.

Check out Victory’s web site for the details.

More Ducati Spy Shots

I recently mentioned the new Ducati that’s going to be unveiled later this year.  There was one lame spy shot, and a concept drawing of the Ducati Project 0803 motorcycle.  Well, today, we got another spy shot, this time courtesy of Italian motorcycling site Moto Sprint.

Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot 2
Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot 2

This is much better, despite the camouflage paint splotches and masses of black electrical tape.  Nice looking exhaust. Interesting side-mounted radiators. Single-sided swingarm.

The American press has been calling this a new model of the Monster, but I think that’s just notional.  Over in Italy, they’re just referring to it as a maxi-cruiser.

Maybe it’ll be called the “D-Max”.

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2011 Ducati 848 EVO

2011 Ducati 848 EVO
2011 Ducati 848 EVO

Ducati has announced the first of its 2011 motorcycles, the new version of the 848, now christened the 848 EVO.  The EVO designation denotes that its a refinement of an existing model, rather than anything really new.  But that isn’t meant to sound dismissive, as the Italian manufacturer has created some added value.

First, performance increases over last year, with 140HP and 72.3 ft-lbs of torque, compared to last year’s 134HP and 70.8 ft-lbs. Second, chassis upgrades are included, with a standard steering damper and the brakes being upgraded to Brembo monobloc racing calipers.

Hard to believe that, just a few years ago, an Inline-4 literbike claimed 140HP as a respectable output.  Now, Ducati’s putting that out in a mid-sized twin.

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Something’s Up at Ducati

Ducati Project 0803
This Ducati Project 0803 sketch purports to be from a North American Ducati dealer who got it straight from the horse's...uh...mouth.

There’s been a lot of talk of a new Ducati model coming up for 2011. Maybe a big, new Monster. Or something.  Apparently that talk has some basis in fact, because we’re now seeing both spy shots–whether from interested bystanders or directly from Ducati PR isn’t clear–and an interesting concept sketch of “Project 803”. That sketch is on the right, and is clickable for a hi-res image.

The PR department at Ducati is responding to all the rumors of a new bike with this statement:

As many you may have noticed, there has been quite a bit of activity in the past few weeks surrounding a supposed new Ducati model. I wanted to take this opportunity and send you a note saying indeed we do have a surprise in store for this year’s EICMA show. Our R&D department is working around the clock to complete development of this radical new motorcycle, for which time to complete final design and engineering elements will surely come down to the wire.

Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot
Ducati Project 0803 Spy Shot

I’m sending this letter today in order to inform you of our communication plan. Since many details of the bike (big and small) are still being sorted out; I have elected not to forward information or photography until the rolling prototypes come close to resembling what the final product will look like.

Stay tuned for further information from the Ducati Press Department; and I can assure you the final bike will impress all with the design, performance and technology everyone has come to expect from Ducati.

It looks like at Italian V-Max. And that “Testastretta 11 degree” engine says it probably comes off the 1198.  So, an 1198 V-Max.  Nice.

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Suzuki Comes Back to the US for 2011

The bad economy and poor sales forecasts for 2010 led Suzuki to suspend sending any new 2010-model bikes to the US, in lieu of reducing the inventories of 2009 models.  But, this afternoon, Suzuki announced that, for 2011, they’ll be back on our shores, and they previewed the first wave of  what they’ll be bringing with them next year.

First up, new versions of the Boulevard M109R and M109 Limited power cruisers–in my opinion, some of the most beautifully-designed, modern-looking cruisers in existence. Next, the Hyabusa is back, although with what appears to be mainly mild cosmetic changes. The V-Strom is also back with a new 2011 model, as well.

Welcome back, Suzuki!

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2011 Brammo Empulse

The motorcycle press is touting the newly announced 20100 Brammo Empulse, and electric motorcycle that is “revolutionary”, in that it has a 100-mile range and can exceed 100 MPH. Using a liquid-cooled, brushless AC motor, with an estimated output of50 hp and 59 ft-lbs torque, the power comes from three different battery pack options, although only the top of the line Empulse 10, with a 10KW battery pack will get you the 100/100 combination.  There is also an 8KW and 6KW option, with 80- and 60-mile ranges respectively. Pricing starts at $10k for the 6KW, up to 15K for the 10KW.

*shrug*

For the price of an FJR1300, next year you can own a 60HP bike that travels 100 miles, then sits around recharging for several hours.

2010 Brammo Empulse
2010 Brammo Empulse

WANT!

BMW has announced two new motorcycles built on a brand new Inline-6 powerplant.  The K1600GT will presumably replace the K1300GT, while the K1600GTL will replace the K1200LT.

The powerplant is definitely the atttraction on these bikes. Weighing in at only 226 lbs, the motor puts out 160HP at 7,500 RPM and…wait for it…129 lb/ft of torque at 5,000 RPM.  BMW also indicates that over 70% of maximum torque will be available from 1,500 rpm.  So, right from a standing start, we’re talking 90 lb/ft of torque. That’s arm-wrenching acceleration worthy of a literbike.  Indeed, compare and contrast to the 193 HP S1000RR, whose maximum torque is 83 lb/ft at 9,750 RPM.

Alas, there are no pictures of the bikes from BMW yet, except for a couple of crappy concept drawings that I’m uninterested in showing, as they are probably more misleading than accurate.

But from the specs, it looks like a monster power-tourer, with about 5 more horsepower hitting the ground at the rear wheel, and 27 lb/ft more torque than the current power king of sport-tourers, the Kawasaki Concours14.

The only remaining question will be how much it’ll set back your wallet to acquire the Beemer.