Part of the fun of riding motorcycles comes from the mastery of controlling an unstable machine. Without their riders, motorcycles can’t stand up by themselves at a stop. When it comes to riding motorcycles, being able to precisely place your motorcycle where you want it on the pavement comes from practice and understanding how motorcycles turn. That technique is countersteering.
Way back in the old days of early March 2020, a huge crowd assembled among gathering clouds. The Supercross at Daytona ran on schedule to packed stands. It would be the last major motorcycle race for the foreseeable future, but we didn’t know that. The witnesses were mostly young and beautiful: These are the people who will carry the world forward when our boomer lungs fill with pus, and we utter our final, intubated gurgle. We saw the crazy reports of toilet paper hoarding circulated on social media. We weren’t blind. We knew something was coming. On this, our last night of innocence, we sat shoulder to shoulder blasting out throaty cheers to over-modulated rock music and watched Eli Tomac slowly reel in and then pass Ken Roczen to take the win. Then the shit hit the fan.
Read enough motorcycle reviews and you’ll inevitably hear people like the MO staff talk about two things: Rake and Trail. It’s mentioned so much because rake and trail have a major role to play in the way your motorcycle handles, and the people who design these motorcycles are well aware of this when going from CAD drawing to real-life machine.
The first pair of off-road boots I bought when I started riding dirtbikes were some entry-level Alpinestars Tech 3s. The low price and the relative flexibility compared to others on the market made them a great choice for a newbie. I remember how little I could feel in those when I started using them and how foreign the experience felt to me entirely.
It was 20 years ago (almost) today, Sgt. Minime taught the band to play. We’ve been going in and out of style, but we were all guaranteed to raise a smile on this new Kawasaki junket in Daytona, including Tom Riles who captured all the excitement in stunning Velvia. Or was it Kodachrome? I’ll FedEx you the slides next week… While we were there, clattering around on Kawasaki’s new big cruiser and being 20 years more irresponsible, we also watched Mat Mladin beat Nicky Hayden’s brand-new RC51 to the line to win the Daytona 200. It was kind of a big deal. Those were the days, my friend.
“When the house is filled with dread, place the beds head to head. `Tis an old Armenian custom,” or so says Emma Dunn in the 1939 classic Son of Frankenstein – the awesome original film Mel Brooks built Young Frankenstein upon 35 years later – and let’s see… 46 years ago. If you haven’t seen both lately, now that you’re cooped up could be a good time to do so.
Seoul Survivor: How an International Coalition Helped Me Import Half of South Korea's Honda RC45 Supply
My greatest fear was of not taking the chance, of wimping out, of being that half-drunk guy at the bar, many years in the future, mumbling about the special whine of straight-cut gear-driven overhead cams, or staring at the floor in embarrassment, unable to pronounce “homologation” on the third try. Everyone who’s ever had a dream bike can tell you a story about it; most of them end with the words, “I wish I had it back.”
Recently, while practicing my government-mandated social distancing in the middle of nowhere on dirtbikes, I noticed a friend of mine had a new 6D ATR-2, 6D’s latest dirtbike lid. I asked him what he thought of it, “Well, I haven’t worn it too much yet, but I thought I’d get the safest lid I could.” It would seem, for those in the know, that 6D has made a name for itself – within a relatively short time, with the company being founded in 2011 – with it’s Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS) technology making for a “safer” helmet. In what is becoming a sea of great offerings, 6D helmets started a revolution in terms of solutions to injuries from rotational impacts with its original ATR-1 off-road helmet.
At Daytona, Polaris loaned me a Slingshot for a few hours and I’m not even sure the three-wheeled Slingshot should be in Motorcycle.com, but that’s Evans’ problem. I just do the typing. The 2020 Slingshot is mostly new from the brake pedal forward. The driving experience is 80% automotive, 20% ATV Quad, and 100% motorcycle when it rains. It’s going to take me more than a few hours to acclimate to the oddness of this gearbox and the three-wheeler’s handling characteristics.
And the number of the beast was 493 pounds dry, claimethed Suzuki in 1995. If that was the case then fluids were waaay heavy 25 years ago, brethren: Filling the tank with 5.5 gallons of Ethyl, adding oil to the engine, fork tubes and rear shock, coolant to the radiator, five gallons of brake fluid, and lead acid to the battery had these things approaching the weight of Air Force One, fully Trumped out with gold fixtures. Guesseth what? Is it any coincidence that as these things have shrunk over the years to become ever racier, so have their sales? The GSX-R1100 was in fact a midrange-monstrous sport-tourer in a track suit – too big to fail! How I long for one today, but with cruise control…
Scramblers are one of my favorite genres of motorcycles these days. I’ve always been a fan of the retro off-road vibe these types of bikes are centered around. The original scramblers, of course, weren’t off-road machines at all, but rather small street bikes chopped down to the essentials for weight savings and altered for better off-road performance. In this most recent modern era of scramblers, we’ve gone through the same trends seeing “scrambler” styling with little intention of actual off-road use, and just like in the ‘60’s, we are now seeing manufacturers offering these machines with real off-road chops.
As COVID-19 continues to spread to alarming levels around the world, it’s no surprise to hear that the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas has been postponed until November 15, 2020. The American round will now be the penultimate race of the season ahead of Valencia which has been pushed to November 20-22. This, of course, comes after the first race of the season in Qatar was run without the MotoGP paddock while both Moto3 and Moto2 were able to race due to the riders having already been in the country for testing prior to the first round.
North of Payson, Arizona and just a few miles past the town of Pine, there’s a steep grade that climbs into the mountain range below the city of Flagstaff. Ahead, an older Chevy truck moves slowly through the trees. The Chevy is one of those faded metallic burgundy ones, the ones where General Motors’ ablative-burgundy topcoat survives only in the shady areas. Lower fenders and door sills, any body shape that falls downward and inward towards the centerline still had a glossy wine red finish. Whatever topside paintwork survived the sunlight consisted of chalky peeled silver. The hood and roof were littered with rust and the cargo bed rode at a 20-degree angle to the rest of the vehicle. Taken in its entirety, the auto-scene reminded me of prehistoric valley rubble deposited by a receding glacier.
If you’re making a tire in the sport-touring category, you probably have one of the most difficult jobs in the entire tire business. Where racers want the grippiest tire they can find, longevity be damned, and the touring set seek high-mileage with modest grip, the sport-touring crowd wants the best of both worlds. Oh, and it better have good wet weather performance, too. No easy feat.
It’s easy to take for granted the dynamics involved in creating a fairing for a motorcycle. Sure, you could easily mold a piece of plastic or resin and create a shape, but what thought process and research goes into such a mold? We take something like fairings for granted because they’re so commonplace. Big OEMs have the resources to hire big-name designers to create something that’s easy on the eyes, then study the fluid dynamics behind the designer’s sketch to see how different lines bend and shape the wind as it flows through it. Then these big players can utilize finite element analysis to dictate the strength of a part or component and adjust as needed for a given application. But nobody talks about these things anymore because this is simply something we expect. We’re numb to it. But when we stop and think about it, the fit and finish of a motorcycle determines its legitimacy.
As a flat softball-sized boulder flipped up from beneath the rear tire of the Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro I was following, the ringing of the krakebs from the previous night’s festivities grew louder and louder in my ears as I braced for impact. Subconsciously, I rolled off the throttle if only for a brief moment slowing myself enough to not make contact with the hurtling stone. Then back on the gas quickly to launch the 450(+)-pound motorcycle into the air over the rocks embedded in the road. Through bustling city squares, desolate tiny villages, and long barren stretches, our time onboard the Triumph Tiger 900 had been nothing short of an adventure. An experience of a lifetime; one perfectly suited for the Triumph Tiger 900.
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his Keihin FCR the breath of life (with accelerator pump); and man became a living soul. There was also the street version that first year, the DR-Z400S, but our man Mark Kariya would not have been caught dead on that, not when Suzuki invited him to ride the new “E” at Soboba with Malcolm Smith. Twenty years on, Suzuki still stocks the DR-Z400S and SM; now with the breath of life via Mikuni BSR36. When men were men, amen.
In the wake of declining sportbike sales, we’ve seen manufacturers drop supersport models or leave them untouched for years on end. For the more versatile, upright sporty bikes, the industry as a whole has not given up. For Honda and Kawasaki, models like the Ninja 650 and CBR650R offer sportbike looks with practical ergonomics and performance that riders can grow with. With both models receiving updates within the last year – including seriously stepping up their game in the looks department – these everyday sportbikes are even more enticing than ever.
The world has come to grips with saddlebags on Ducatis now, my friends, but that wasn’t always the case. First came the ST2 with the air-cooled motor and it was good. Then a few years later, the ST4 with the liquid-cooled 916 engine: 99.5 horsepower were more than enough then, though frankly we usually preferred the nearly equal torque of the ST2 a couple thousand rpm sooner. Twenty years later, we’re waiting not-so patiently for the 200-hp V-four Multistrada to get here. There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.
Why can’t MO have a poll, everybody else does? To settle our own curiosity and because we can, we took the hard work upon ourselves to produce this highly scientific poll of MO readers. Some pundits have conjectured there’s a correlation between motorcyclists and political leaning; we aim to slice it a bit thinner than that here, to see what kind of motorcyclist leans which way. This Playbuzz baby’s going to show us not just what kind of motorcyclist supports each Presidential candidate, it’s also going to predict the outcome of the upcoming race if only MO readers voted. Which, really, makes tons of sense. We’re not just a microcosm, we’re a microchasm.
Twenty years ago the photos were still terribly tiny, and could you please hang up the phone so I can get on the dial-up modem. You’ve got mail! Who are these Italian upstarts anyway? We thought they only made scooters, and ring-dingy two-strokes for that skinny Italian kid to race? The world was about to find out differently; the Falco was an early messenger portending great things to come. No, I don’t know why it’s two pages? Probably to let the modem catch its breath. Let us give thanks for the wi-fi. Amen.
Ever since protective moto-specific jeans hit the market, I’ve been searching to find some that I liked. It’s been a challenge. I’m 5’8” with a 30-inch inseam and pretty muscular thighs – the watermelon-crushing kind. For a long time, it was the fit that bothered me. Euro jeans were too skinny, others were too baggy. Furthermore, jeans built with aramid fiber offer zero stretch to help with fit. Even now that there’s a plethora of jeans on offer from many different brands, I’ve yet to find any that I, personally, am 100% stoked about, be it fit, color, style, etc. At long last, the Pando Moto Steel Black jeans have been like finding the needle in the haystack for me.
The Thruxton namesake is one that has described Triumph’s racing efforts throughout the middle of the past century. Now, the name designates a model that harkens back to those days that’s thoroughly modern while being meticulously designed to look the part of cafe racers from the 1960s. This new Thruxton RS continues to refine and develop Triumph’s factory cafe racer into a machine that will properly haul the mail and look smashing while doing so.
In those days 20 years ago, brethren, we rode with our heads held high and knees firmly on the ground; there was no crawling along on elbows with bowed heads in subservience to foreign foes and false idols. Later that year, Colin Edwards the Lanky Texan would win his first WSBK championship, and indeed – as red-blooded Americans had won half those titles since the series’ inception 12 years earlier – there was no reason to think we were not the chosen people. Let us not forget Kenny Roberts Jr’s 500 cc GP championship that year, nor the legacy of the Apostles Freddie, Steady Eddie, Wayne, and Schwantz. I may not get there with you, but someday we will return to the top of the mountain. A reading from the Book of Minime, with the help of the wise men Clavin, Roland and Nigel.
All of the Racer gloves I’ve tested have easily stood by the claim of the best fitting gloves you can buy, and the Racer Multitop 2 is no different. Much like Cinderella and her glass slipper, I slipped the medium-sized gauntlets on and whaddya know, a perfect fit. I typically wear a large in most European brands and MX gloves, but mediums have always fit me spot on for Racer gloves. As someone who’s easily bothered by ill-fitting gloves, Racer’s consistency is a welcome surprise in a market where different styles of gloves can fit in vastly different ways even interbrand.
Stop and think about helmets for a minute. Undoubtedly the most important piece of safety equipment motorcyclists wear, have you thought about what goes into testing a helmet? Basically, a helmet is dropped straight down onto a surface and the results of the impact are measured. That’s all well and good, but there’s more to a crash than the impact itself. And besides, how many accidents involve the rider falling straight down, as if dropped from a building?
Klim makes some of the most technical gear on the market. From the companies Klim partners with, to the level of thought, research, and testing that goes into new products, it’s always exciting to hear what the brand has coming down the pipeline. Recently, I had the opportunity to take a trip with the folks from the Klim HQ in Rigby, ID, to the Gore facility in Maryland (think Gore-Tex). We had the opportunity to tour the Gore labs – an eye-opening and mind-blowing experience – and later got to check out some of Klim’s 2020 product line, which includes some new stuff that I think will be a hit for the company. In addition to new gear of its own, Klim has teamed up with In&Motion, a company that makes motorcycle airbag vests, to bring the Klim Ai-1 airbag vest to America’s motorcycling contingent.
Part one and two of BMW R NineT Racer were filmed on location at Buttonwillow Raceway in the scorching heat of a summertime Mojave Desert. Now for part three, Boxer Team America heads Northeast to SLC and the high elevation of Utah Motorsports Campus (formerly known as Miller Motorsports Park for those of us that have been around for a while) with two new team members to participate in another AHRMA National.
Taking this job with Motorcycle.com has opened up an unbelievable set of opportunities for me. I’ve had the chance to ride some amazing motorcycles in some of the most awe-inspiring places. If you’d asked me when I moved from the Midwest ten years ago if I thought I would’ve had the experiences I’ve had so far, even though I’ve always been hopeful, I couldn’t have imagined just how incredible it has been. Not a day goes by, even the long ones in front of a computer, that I’m not truly grateful for this.
So far in this celebration of 2019 on Motorcycle.com, we’ve turned to the staff MOrons for their choices of the best first rides and best shootouts of the year. Now, we gaze into the magic ball of Google Analytics to see what you readers selected with your finger taps, mice, and trackpads. While in the past we’ve typically had to adjust the clicks by the number of months that the articles have been live, I chose not to do that this year because the oldest article that made this list was from August. If it had been January, I would have thought that it had an unfair advantage. The other reason I decided to go with total clicks rather than an adjusted for time number was that the number four article of the year was posted only a week ago. Wrap your head around that. Now, just to really mess with you, that article has a decent amount of comments but nothing terribly eye-opening. So, if you’d asked me, I would have never guessed at the article’s popularity. The rest of the list is an interesting snapshot into the minds of you MOrons.
As the year comes to a close, we MO editors find ourselves wrapped in sweaters, hot beverages in hand while we warm ourselves in front of space heaters cranked on high. SoCal can be bitterly cold this time of year with temps dipping all the way into the high 40s (F)! Since it’s much too cold to ride a motorcycle in this weather, we’ll sit and reminisce. Warm up the kettle, grab your heated blanket and join us won’t you, as we recall the best first rides of all (of 2019).
Ten years ago, it is written, the 600 Supersport class was still hotly contested, bitterly fought over, super-important to the Big Four, etc… Then something happened. The Great Recession, the Boomer Regression, the ADV Expansion? The street portion of 2009’s de rigueur 600 Shootout! has lost the illumination from its manuscript; luckily we unearthed the video, and the Willow Springs racetrack portion of the smackdown. However current sales figures may be, all four of these motorcycles are still available as new models – and the winner of this little comparo retails for a mere $200 more than it did ten years ago. Let us praise and give thanks to Duke, Brissette and Gardiner – and also to the freelance apostle Andrea for some nice photos for a change. Amen, and Happy New Year.
What would you do if you came face to face with your own mortality? For many of us, especially in this sport, it’s a scenario we think about in the abstract; we’re either going to go out in a blaze of glory doing something we love, or Father Time will continue undefeated. We don’t think, much less expect, something like cancer to get in the way of our plans. Peter Starr was one of those people, living comfortably – some would even say successfully – thanks to motorcycles.
Year after year we at Motorcycle.com bring you a video from the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show talking about the bikes we’re excited about. Seeing as the LBIMS is the first chance we in America get to see in the flesh (almost) all of the new models first shown at EICMA earlier in the year, it’s an exciting time for the moto community as a whole. But we’ve come to realize that maybe you’re tired of hearing what we are excited about. Actually, the truth is we’ve found an easier way to bring you a video from the International Motorcycle Show without Evans, Ryan, John, Sean, and I arguing about what’s cool and what’s not. We’re letting you decide. What? How?
The Doffo Winery and MotoDoffo Vintage Motorcycle Collection is run and owned by the Doffo family: patriarch Marcelo Doffo, son Damian, and daughters Bridgette and Samantha. The seeds for Doffo Winery were planted in the 1990s inspired by Marcelo’s youth spent growing up on a farm in Pampas, Argentina and a trip in 1994 to Turin, Italy. It matured with the acquisition of an old cattle ranch in Temecula, California.
There’s a lot to unpack in the Lightfighter story. This is why Part 1 was dedicated to the concept and build of the electric sportbike. As a quick refresher, the Lightfighter was born because Brian Wismann and Ely Schless wanted to prove an electric racing motorcycle could exist – and thrive – with a geometry-first design. They did just that, building an electric motorcycle around a Yamaha YZF-R1 swingarm, not a big battery. Knowing Wismann and Schless though, simply building the bike wasn’t enough. It had to be good. Hence why they equipped it with Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, and OZ Racing magnesium wheels. Further technical support came from Parker Hannifin, in the form of the GVM 210 motor, Kramer Motorcycles and their svelte bodywork, and Pirelli tires, who made sure the bike had the stickiest Diablo Superbike slicks available.
When it comes to motorcycle apparel, quality is about much more than just fashion, staying warm, or added protection, which is why the way it’s made is essential. First Manufacturing Co. has been making leather goods for motorcyclists the traditional method for over 30 years. Their line of motorcycle jackets, gloves, and accessories are made with care, while new product lines are road-tested by a team of riders before they hit shelves.
In the neither fish nor fowl department at SEMA this week, Segway has announced the Dirt eBike X160 and X260, which the company lists as a hybrid between a dirt and mountain bike. However, the inclusion of pegs instead of pedals places it exclusively in the lightweight dirt bike market, in our MOpinion. Segway appears to be gunning for more: “Its standard customizable design allows for most motorcycle-level modifications and meets all requirements necessary to be considered a performance electric dirt bike.“ In other press materials, Segway states that it is clearly looking towards entry-level riders.
Not every model needs a complete makeover every year, and today, Yamaha released the information about its 2020 carryover models. Here, you’ll find three classes of motorcycles. First, the Touring models of adventure and sport persuasions. Then we get Yamaha’s Hypernakeds. Finally, the Sports Heritage models for you Faster Sons (and Daughters) out there.
Recently, Alpinestars threw open the doors at Willow Springs Raceway for a day of motorcycle-focused fun. With the famed Big Track open to all comers – many who were experiencing a closed course environment for the first time – it was hard for the attendees not to have a good time. All of this, however, begs the question: What’s in it for Alpinestars? Yes, we were all wearing gear made by the apparel company (and if we didn’t have any, it was loaned to us), but this wasn’t an introduction where we were to experience a new piece of protective riding gear. The point was, it seems, to simply have fun riding motorcycles with friends. Oh, and hopefully create some new fans of track riding. You see, some of the first time track riders were name-brand Alpinestars-sponsored athletes in other disciplines. You know, influencers who have the means to preach the racetrack riding gospel and hopefully get more people interested in riding motorcycles.
It was a seemingly innocuous moment at Daytona International Speedway when a middle-aged man took a long look at the Cory Ness Signature Victory Jackpot as it slowly rumbled past.But this was no ordinary man. It was Bill Davidson, son of the legendary Willy G. and the current VP of Core Customer Marketing for Harley-Davidson Motor Company. When a cruiser is able to capture his studied attention, the company behind it is certainly doing several things right!
The California Air Resources Board has published executive orders certifying a number of unannounced 2020 Triumph models. These include the Thruxton RS, which Triumph has already started teasing, a couple of Bud Ekins tribute Bonnevilles and two new versions of the Tiger 1200.
It’s interesting to me that a Japanese brand like Honda can feel, at times, just as American as apple pie and baseball. The brand has played an integral role in not only motorcycling, but industry in general in America since the `60s. In fact, this year Honda celebrates 60 years since a small storefront in Los Angeles opened its doors in 1959 as the company’s sole U.S. business operation.
And when they asked Jesus, where are the photos? Jesus said unto them “photos schmotos. We don’t need no stinkin’ photos when the epistles are this good.” Verily, there are no photos in the old or new testament, nor the Talmud, nor any of those. Ours must’ve been swallowed by the Cloud. And so it is written, but barely seen.
For whatever reason, American motorcyclists have been very slow to adopt electric motorcycles, ironic since the most innovative and interesting e-motos are built here in the USA. Zero and Harley-Davidson are both in the electric motorcycle game, and two start-ups – Brammo and Alta Motors – delivered hundreds of motorcycles to paying customers before succumbing to tough market realities.
Part one of BMW R NineT Racer: Getting the Boxer in Shape for Battle focused on assembling a two-rider team made up of retired road racer/team owner and BMW dealership owner Gary Orr. Rider number two was MO videographer/veteran of exactly one road race in 2014 – Your’s Truly. Additional technical, logistical, and financial support was provided from Osh Minelian and Mike Ngo. Osh owns Oshmo Motorworks – a BMW service and hop-up shop. Mike is the man with a dream of reviving a spec Boxer series in America and all around Boxer fanboy.
Have you ever wanted to grab an oblivious motorist and scream “CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?” after narrowly avoiding a crash? There’s no doubt that the number-one cause of multi-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles is a car violating a motorcycle’s right of way at an intersection. “I didn’t see him!” is the frequent excuse. “He came out of nowhere!” Sure. “MAYBE IF YOU WEREN’T INSTAGRAMMING YOUR LAUNDRY LIST YOU WOULD HAVE NOTICED ME,” you scream in your fantasy dialogue. What can we do to combat the motorcyclist’s arch-nemesis: the distracted driver?
One of these, my friends, is still with us, and the other moved onto its reward, far too soon, the year after this little comparison starring Pete and Riding Man Mark Gardiner. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Crusher Man cometh.
When you love your bike, you’ll try anything to keep it running longer—motorcyclists around the globe are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative ways to prolong the life and enjoyment of their machines. We’re all searching for the same thing: longer engine life, reduced wear, increased performance, and smooth operation. But knowing what to look for is one thing. Where to find it is another issue entirely.
Rubbin’ elbows, backin ‘er in, and general tomfoolery. That’s what small displacement dual-sports are for, right? What? I’m doing it wrong?! You’re doing it wrong! The truth of the matter is that you get out what you put in. You’re your own fun limiter. If you can’t have a good time on a motorcycle, maybe take up something lame like ball sports. Our time spent in the lush green marijuana-strewn countryside of southern Oregon was an absolute blast onboard Kawasaki’s latest KLX models. Proof that absolute world-class motorcycle journalists (I’m sure there were some there) and newbies alike can jump on the 2020 Kawasaki KLX230 and have all of the fun.