Quick Notes

If I was to tell you how packed my schedule has been this week, you’d be so bored you’d want to slit your own throat. So I won’t. But I do have time to take note of a few things.

The ATK/Hyosung GT650R I’ve been evaluating for ATK is doing fine. I’m convinced that, given some ergos more forgiving to my 46 year-old frame, it’d be a fine commuter/city bike. It’s easy to ride, with predictable performance, and has a surprisingly comfy seat.

The Honda CBR1000RR is about the deadliest racing weapon imaginable in the hands of Casey Stoner.

Is the new Kawasaki ZX-10R good enough to beat the BMWS1000RR in a head-on comparo? No. Seems like a close call, though.

I got my FJR back from the shop on Saturday. Embarrasingly, I had managed to hang my good luck bell in the perfect place…to cut the main wiring harness with the edge of the bell in a full-lock left turn. I’m glad I was backing out of a parking space, instead of trying to do a U-Turn, when the engine went dead.

Instead of spending money on a second bike, I’ve begun wondering if I shouldn’t just get an exhaust system, PowerCommander, and K&N Air Filter.

Quick Hits

Motorcycle Daily joins the list of motojournalists who’ve tested the BMW K1600GT/GTL. They like it.

The Icon waterproof Patrol jacket seems very nice, if a bit pricey.

The Hyosung GT650 seems like a decent naked standard, considering its price.

Another decent photoshop rendering of the upcoming MV Agusta Brutale B3 675 triple.

Talk about electric vehicles all you want, but they aren’t ready for prime time, if the sales figures are any clue.

Wes Siler thinks the 200-ish horsepower BMW S1000RR would be a great first bike.  For beginners. Who just started riding.

For 2011, Suzuki gave the Gixxer 600–one of the most popular sportbikes ever produced– a complete overhaul. How good an overhaul is it? Motorcycle.Com’s Pete Brissette took it out on the track to see.

Another Literbike Shootout

Motorcycle USA Motorcycle.Com has posted their 2010 Literbike shootout, comparing the newest European bikes to the top Japanese 1,000cc rockets.  From Europe, they test the Aprilia RSV4 R, and the BMW S1000RR.  From the Land of the Rising Sun comes the Honda CBR1000RR and the Kawasaki ZX-10R.  Like nearly everyone else who’s riddewn it, they give the top marks to the BMW.

BMW S1000RR. If you want the literbike with the most power, best brakes, a wonderfully compliant chassis and best available options in 2010, these are the only letters and numbers you need to know.

Everybody loves this bike, it seems, in the sportbike set.

And yet, in World Superbike, where the S1000RR is in its second season of competition, its riders have been on the podium…um…not a single time.

Don’t Let the Door Hit You in the…

BMW is very proud of their new, hyper-powerful literbike, the S1000RR.  They put a WSBK racing team together as soon as they could, and they figured with the awesome RWHP (185HP, dynoed stock) of the machine, they could make the brand shine in motorsports.

Ruben Xaus displays his inimitable riding style at Philip Island
Ruben Xaus displays his inimitable riding style at Philip Island

Sadly it hasn’t quite worked out that way.  Troy Corser has been notably absent from the platform since 2009.  Meanwhile, Ruben Xaus seems to be the designated BMW crash test dummy.  Somehow, he managed to crash four–count ’em, four–S1000RRs at Philip Island, then sat out the race itself.

So, the rumor is that BMW is just about ready to dump him from the team, presumably replacing him with someone who can manage to a) stay on the motorcycle, and b) keep the motorcycle from rolling over like a weasel and exposing its softer bits.

The thing is, Ruben’s a Spaniard, so they probably don’t want to get rid of him yet, as the Valencia and Portimao circuits, held in Spain and Portugal respectively, are coming up.  So, Ruben’s expected to be a big draw there, among the home crowd.

So, the word is, they’ll wait until after that to drive him off the team like some sort of poison troll, sometime in mid-season.

But, who knows.  These rumor things are always sketchy.  It could be some disgruntled factory tech mouthing off.  Or it could be that Xaus has a very short time to get his act together, before he’s back in Valencia, selling oranges to tourists.

*sigh*

I really had high hopes for the S1000RR after all the hype it got.  Oh, well, maybe Troy Corser will win in Portimao.  Maybe Xaus will win in Valencia.  Maybe swine will streak through the sky like eagles.

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MCN: S1000RR Kicks the Fireblade’s Butt

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MCN's Aug 19th Cover Story. Click to enlarge.
MCN's Aug 19th Cover Story. Click to enlarge.

Motorcycle News, in the UK, has just released their 19 August  print issue, in which the BMW S1000RR goes head to head against Honda’s venerable CBR1000RR, and smacks it down like a red-headed stepchild.  Indeed, they say that their tester could do a 3-second faster lap in the test at the track in Brno.  They breathlessly report:

In this week’s issue of MCN, on sale August 19, we have a world exclusive track test of the BMW S1000RR. According to our tester, it feels more powerful than a Yamaha R1 and makes the Honda Fireblade’s suspension feel rubbish in comparison…

World exclusive riding impressions of the new BMW sports bike shows it can lap Brno 3 secs faster than a Fireblade.

Man, that sounds like a super hot bike, doesn’t it?  Three seconds per lap faster than the CBR1000RR!  Wow!

The thing is, that in World Superbike, where actual, professional racers do actual, professional racing, the S1000RR’s best result to date has been Troy Corser’s 5th place finish at Brno in Race 1.  He was 10th place in Race 2.  He was beaten by two Fireblades in race 1 and three in race 2.

And, of the top 10 riders in WSB after 10 of 14 rounds, four of them ride Fireblades.  None of them ride BMWs.

I’m just saying.

BMW Is Serious About Sportbikes

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BMW recently announced that the new S1000RR superbike would be available for sale to the public in January, at a price that makes it very competitive with Japan’s Big 4.  Now, it appears that this was part of an intentional strategy to go after the Japanese market share in liter-bikes. And they’re confident enough in the new bike to predict a 20% increase in sales–even in this shaky economy–and to let the Japanese know that the Bavarians are taking aim at them.

“We are going to take the Japanese head-on,” said Pieter de Waal, vice president of the company’s U.S. motorcycle operations, at an event last week in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

The motorcycle’s introduction puts BMW into a niche — informally known as “crotch rockets” — dominated by Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha Motor Co. and the Kawasaki brand owned by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. The four Japan-based companies have 88 percent of U.S. market share in the superbike category, De Waal said. BMW’s offering will be priced at $13,800, close to the four most popular competing motorcycles.

While it’s always good to see Germans in a buoyantly confident mood, some observers say, “Not so fast”.

“For BMW, which has always had a reputation of being a very high-priced motorcycle, it’s certainly a lot closer to the Japanese bikes in price,” said David Edwards, Cycle World magazine’s editor in chief. “That may be for some people a reason to consider it, especially if its performance lives up to expectations. But I don’t think you are going to see a mass exodus of Japanese sportbike riders going to BMW.”

2010 BMW S1000RR Superbike
2010 BMW S1000RR Superbike

Perhaps, but a lot of the liter-bike guys are crazy for motorcycle racing, and if BMWs race version can show up the Japanese bikes on the track, it can’t do anything but help their sales. And releasing the bike for public sale here in the US allows them to meet the homologation rules for AMA Superbike, so I’d bet very good money that we’ll see a BMW race team hitting the tracks next season.  If you really want to take on the Japanese–and the Italians, by the way–that’s the way to do it.

Although, having said that, Buell proved a few weeks ago that, while the AMA may have rules about homologation, they aren’t, you know, fanatics about them.

Motorcyclist’s 2009 Picks of the Year

The mavens at Motorcyclist magazine have announced the winner of the award for 2009 Motorcycle of the Year, as well as their other picks.

Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year: 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1
Motorcyclist's Motorcycle of the Year: 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1

The bike picking up the top award this year is the Yamaha YZF-R1.

Modern sportbikes are engineered so close to the edge of the performance envelope that we’re conditioned to expect incremental changes: a shaved pound here, an added pony there. It’s almost unimaginable that any sportbike could surprise us with a novel riding experience that realigns our understanding of what a liter-class sportbike is, and what one can do. The 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 is exactly that sort of bike-which is why it’s our Motorcycle of the Year.

Other notable picks include:

Ben Spies as the Motorcyclist of the year.

The Kawasaki ZX-6R as the best sportbike of the year, closely followed by the Ducati 1198.

The Ducati Streetfighter as the Best Naked Bike, followed by the Harley Davidson XR1200 Sportster.

The Kawasaki Concours14 as the year’s Best Touring Bike, followed by the Harley Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide.

Best Adventure Bike honors go to two BMWs, with the F800GS in the top position, and the R1200GS Adventure in second place.

The Best Dreambike is the Aprilia RSV4, with the BMW S1000RR as the follow-on.

Best Bang For The Buck goes to Kawasaki, with the ER-6n as the winner, and KLX250SF as the second-place finisher.

For Best Cruiser, Motorcyclist goes strictly for muscle this year, with the Star (Yamaha) V-MAX ruling the roost, and the Harley Davidson V-Rod Muscle in the supporting position.

Best Dirtbike is the Husaberg FE450; second best is the Honda CRF450R.

Best New Technology is the Honda Combined ABS system, followed by the Ducati Traction Control.

And, finally, the Best New Product honors go to the Gopro Motorsports Hero Wide Camera, with the Bazzaz Performance Z-FI Traction Control taking the runner-up position.

Germany Attacks Japan!

Ever since BMW announced it would begin producing a liter-class sportbike to compete with the Japanese, people have been waiting for the BMW S1000RR.  The one question was what the price would be, as BMWs tend to be a bit more…extravagantly priced than their competitors.  Those questions are now answered.  And the price is competitive.  So is everything else.

We’re very pleased to announce the pricing on the 2010 BMW S 1000 RR: MSRP*: $13,800.00

Options:

  • Race ABS (excluding DTC): $1,000.00
  • Race ABS and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) Combined: $1,480.00
  • Gear Shift Assistant: $ 450.00
  • Anti Theft Alarm: $ 395.00
  • Motorsports Paint Scheme: $ 750.00

The options include either standalone new 4-stage Race ABS or Race ABS combined with multi-stage Dynamic Traction Control. Other must have options include the truly awesome Gear Shift Assistant that allows clutchless upshifts during acceleration, Anti Theft Alarm and the WSBK-inspired Motorsports Paint Scheme. This new Superbike from BMW weighing only 404 lbs, and putting out a massive 193 hp, is one of the most potent, sophisticated and lightest sport bikes ever unleashed on the planet. The new S 1000 RR is the most powerful production 1000cc sport bike in the world.

So, let me see if I for this right.  BMW is going to put out a 404 lb. bike with 193HP, and they are going to charge just $800 more than Honda’s 178-horsepower  CBR1000RR?  That’s pretty aggressive pricing.

The styling is pretty aggressive, too.  It’s not bad looking, either, if you don’t mind that the headlights look like a pirate with a squinty eye.

All in all, it looks like another German act of aggression.  And, at 193HP, I think that it needs a suitable nickname.  I propose the name “Kalmarmörder”.*

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*Squid killer.