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layback 04-21-2003 05:04 AM

Re: Why don't motorcycle journals present hard data?
On a motorcycle it is much harder to get "hard" performance data due to the skill level required to get that information. In like a lateral acceleration test it would depend way too much on the rider, not on what the machine is capable of. Most due give straight line acceleration numbers though.

nctourer 04-21-2003 05:30 AM

Re: Why don't motorcycle journals present hard data?
IMHO MO does a decent job when it comes to the shootouts. As stated previously we usually get decent straight line numbers from a couple of different riders which can provide you/us with some real world expectencies.

But at the same time I do feel your pain. Primo example is EBass and others MO's tooling around on the new Vegas. Other than some opinions on ergos, who they think provided design cues, and a cute little dyno test that really doesnt tell this seat of the pants guy squat, theres no content there that you cant get from So I guess that makes it creative advertising.

On the other hand, do I really care how fast a fat papa/mama cruiser will get me to the next light? In the grand scheme of things...probably not.

grubz916 04-21-2003 05:33 AM

Re: Why don't motorcycle journals present hard data?
Bikes are much more sensitive to variations in road surface, crosswinds, and of course rider skill and weight than cars. A difference of 30 lbs. in rider weight can make for marked difference in perfomance data, whereas in a car it would be negligible.

That said, I remember CYCLE magazine used to provide such info and Performance Bikes still does, but not in so much detail. Johnny B, you were a CYCLE staffer, answer this question for us. Enquiring minds want to know. Also, how long are u gonna hold out those head bolt details from us?

red916 04-21-2003 05:49 AM

Re: Why don't motorcycle journals present hard data?
Good question.

ebass 04-21-2003 06:11 AM

Vegas vs. 600cc shootout
Sorry you didn't care for the Vegas review, but you already make the point that it is simply not a "performance" oriented bike. Should we have taken it to the drag strip? The infield course at California Speedway? If it's a 600 shootout, we wring those bikes out pretty thoroughly. Sure, the corporate websites cover the specs quite thoroughly, does that mean we should force you to go there to find them, and not report them here? The "hard data" is easy to come by, but the holistic (and hopefully entertaining) opinion of an experienced motojournalist is the reason that people have been following their favorite writers for many years. An engineer can spit out the tech data. It takes a Johnny B to put the reader in the saddle. I'm admittedly not in that class, but I will tell you frankly what I do and don't like about a bike and take offense at the notion that what we do here could be considered "creative advertising".


rsheidler 04-21-2003 06:25 AM

Re: Why don't motorcycle journals present hard data?
I admit to being somewhat of a "data junkie" myself, and for years have carefully poured over the data tables in Road and Track as well as the various motorcycling publications I read regularly.

I would note that even with cars, some of this is relatively usless data. This seems to be more the case as the handling of modern cars (at least as measured by the statistics) has gotten so much better. When R&T first started including skid pad figures in their tests, a production car that could generate 0.72 g was considered very good. Improvement in tires, suspensions etc have resulted in nearly all cars turning in stats much better than that.

For example, in 1974 I had a Datsun (Nissan for you who are too young to remember when it was called Datsun) 260Z. If I remember, per R&T, it cornered at 0.72g. A couple of years ago I had a 4X4 Chevy pickup, that, according to Motor Trend, cornered better than that (I don't remember exact stats). Now, I concede that the Chevy was a reasonably good handling truck, and also that my memory of the mid 70s could be somewhat clouded, but I am pretty certain that the Z handled far better.

I now drive (when my wife lets me -- it is really her car) a 1999 Mazda Miata. Subjectively, this is one of the three best handling cars I have ever driven (the other two being a Fiat X-1/9 and a Lotus 7), an impression shared by many professional road testers. However, based on skid pad results, there are a number of Toyota sedans that would beat it.

To quantify motorcycle handling in a meaningful way would be even more difficult. Fact is, given a nice big grippy surface with lots of runoff in the event of a crash, ultimate cornering speed for most production bikes is limited by cornering clearance, and how far the rider can hang off. Not only would a measure of maximum Gs be difficult to measure, it also would not give much meaningful information about a bike's handling, even on the track.

Even more so than with cars, bikes seldom spend any time at constant cornering mode (125 gp bikes might be an exception) -- they are braking deep into the turns, usually almost to the apex, and almost immediately past the apex, the rider is starting to roll on the throttle. It is the bikes ability to corner and brake simultaneously, or to accelerate and corner simultaneously, to provide the best feedback to the rider so that he/she can find the limits that makes a great-handling bike.

Braking is another problem area. Stopping distance from a given speed, whether for a car or a bike, is increasingly meaningless. At best, it is a measure of what might happen in a single panic stop, assuming that you have perfect reflexes and skills, and that you don't actually panic. It says nothing about feel, feedback or fade resistance. If you evaluate R&T data pages, you will note that the car with the shortest stopping distances often do not get the "excellent" subjective ratings.

It would be very helpful if there were a way to measure and quantify the factors than make a bike handle well or stop well. I am pretty sure that the technicians for the MotoGP teams at Honda, Yamaha, Ducati etc have some pretty good data for such evaluations. I am equally sure that the telemetry used to measure this is outside the budget of even the best-funded magazine, and that the methodology they use is a closely guarded professional secret.



nbyers 04-21-2003 06:30 AM

Re: Why don't motorcycle journals present hard data?
How much "hard data" is really useful to us readers? I think it's useful to know quarter mile times, dyno curves, and in the case of performance bikes, lap times versus similar machinery.

But MO gives us all that stuff, as do many other sources.

Think about the new 600's. Statistically, they're so close you could cover them all with a shop rag.

Especially for bikes like the new 600's, what's really useful information to us readers who don't have the opportunity (or just the time) to ride them all ourselves is the subjective opinions of professional testers. Guys like JohnnyB who have ridden damn near everything can parse between bikes which statistically are very close.

Let's face it, despite the shortcomings of a sportbike like Buell's XB9R, a professional reviewer could completely outperform someone of my ability (or lack thereof). Does that mean it's better than the new 600RR? Here's where we mortals need the pros to tell us the difference.

And that difference is largely subjective. Go out there and ride a half-dozen bikes and compare your experience with guys like Sean and JB and Tim Carrithers and Don Canet.

I think you'll find that they're pretty accurate with their evaluations.

seruzawa 04-21-2003 06:36 AM

Re: Vegas vs. 600cc shootout
Actually, I've always thought that the term "creative advertising" applied more to the Ad Copy written in english by the Italians or in engrish by the Japanese.

maxriderdon 04-21-2003 06:49 AM

Re: Why don't motorcycle journals present hard data?
I don't know about the rest of the country, but around here test rides are extremely rare. Unless you are buying a used bike you don't ride untill you have bought it. The 600 sportbike might be close but when it comes to cruisers that's a different story. Cruisers - the dominant ride varies to the extreme. Handling and excelleration can be like night and day. So I am supposed the buy a bike I can only sit on based on vague discritiptions? Just one reason I buy slightly used bikes. Yeah! We need the best data we can get. As a reference, use two people from one sorce and average any spec you want. That's good enough for me. Do this with each bike and wala - useable info.

seruzawa 04-21-2003 07:11 AM

Re: Why don't motorcycle journals present hard data?
If you have the same riders doing the same braking, roll-on and acceration tests month by month then eventually you do build up a somewhat useful database because you can see how the bikes compare to each other with the same riders.

You could take all bikes to the same raceway and run them and compare laptimes. But then you would have to use the same tires. Difficult to do, especially considering the costs involved and the unlikelyhood of finding a Dunlop 208 to fit a Victory Vegas.

Skid pad data has limited use. The Camry might get slightly better g-force rating, but since a Miata's weight is so low, given the two using similar contact patches, the Miata will get around the turn much quicker than the much heavier Toyota. Cars get much better ratings than motorcycles on the skid pad. Yet I doubt anyone is afraid to take on a Honda Accord on a mountain road on even a 1979 Honda 400 Hawk.

No one has mentioned the most important benefit of ever bigger tables of useless data. The "read rather than ride" junkies like KPaul could come up with ever more hilarious "proofs" that 600-4s are better touring bikes than Goldwings or are better cruisers than Harleys or are simply better than everything else than anything, even at motocross.

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