I’m a product of rider education. Before I logged my first mile on the street, I spent two weekends on the range, attending an MSF-certified beginning rider’s course in Connecticut. Later, I became a CMSP instructor for the State of California and taught a similar program. Throughout all my years of riding, I’ve attended six different riding schools, some of them multiple times. Additionally, I’ve been fortunate enough to work and ride with some of the most talented motorcyclists around. So, given the folks I ride with, I feel like I am a perpetual student. That’s a good thing. Motorcycling is a sport that offers tremendous rewards to those who pay attention. And you should, because the costs of inattention can be very high.
When you see Yamaha’s MT-09, your gaze doesn’t go away very quickly. You end up staring at it. Granted, there’s not much to look at, but what is there is eye-catching. From the hunched shoulders of the gas tank to the creases and natural lines of the frame, you can’t help but look at it. But what keeps your vision stuck on it is the face you see staring back at you when you look at it head-on.
For many riders, putting gas in their bike is as simple as rolling up to your nearest gas station, putting a credit card in the slot, and filling up the tank. For the majority of riders, that’s all they need to know, other than what to do when it comes time to put their bike in storage.
Harley-Davidson will reportedly stop offering its Sportster and Street models in Europe, thanks to the Euro 5 emissions standards that will come into effect by the end of the year. The Sportsters and Street models will continue to be sold in North America and other markets that aren’t subject to Euro 5 or equivalent standards, but for Europe, Harley-Davidson will discontinue its smallest and most affordable models. The news comes days after Harley-Davidson announced the end of operations in India.
There are a variety of options to choose from when you think of beginner bikes, many of them centered around sport-type models or standards. This is often because manufacturers spend more of their marketing dollars hyping their beginner sportbikes or standards. But fear not, cruiser rider – there are great entry-level models for those craving the feet-forward stance. Here, we’ve gathered eight of those great choices for your viewing pleasure.
Last week, Motorcycle.com was first to break the news of trademark filings for “ Harley-Davidson Bronx.” Today, we can report on two more trademarks we believe were also filed for Harley-Davidson: “48X” and “Pan America.” UPDATE: further filings with the UK’s trademark office confirm these names were filed by Harley-Davidson.
As a lifelong rooter for the underdog, I really wanted to like this one. Almost three years ago, I was a big fan of the original Street 750, which wasn’t so easy because it did have a couple of glaring shortcomings. But it was such a friendly little approachable motorcycle I liked it anyway – then H-D gave it a better front brake and cured its main malfunction. But the critics still panned its lack of cornering clearance, its mundane parts manifest and its frankly sloppy fit and finish. All legit complaints, but I always liked the little Harley’s potential. The cut of its jib.
We all know what school self-taught motorcyclists end up attending: The School of Really Hard Knocks. Really hard. Since we think that MO readers are somewhat more intelligent and skillful than your garden variety motorcyclist, we thought we’d ask about your level of moto-education. What categories of riding schools have you attended? Have you stayed with street only, or maybe dirt only. Did you move up to performance riding? Perhaps even racing?
In 2015 I wrote a column about how Sportbikes Are Terrible. In short, I felt (and still do) that production sportbikes have become so focused on the racetrack that riding them on the street anywhere other than a curvy road is borderline torture. Take either of the Ducati Panigale variants, for example. Rolling works of art, on a track they are some of the most fun you can have on two wheels. But would I want to ride one a few hours to the track, do a trackday, then ride home?
Companies that go racing love to promote how the lessons learned at the racetrack trickle down to the products we use on the street. Besides being great marketing fodder, the idea behind racing is to develop products that will benefit the everyday consumer. We generally think of sportbikes (and liter-class sportbikes in particular) as being direct translations of racetrack development trickling down to production models, but we sometimes forget about the only part of the motorcycle in continuous contact with the road: its tires.
Alas, the poor Harley-Davidson Street 750 continues to get little love from MO, finishing third of three in our recent Gaiternational Shootout against Triumph’s excellent new Street Twin and Moto Guzzi’s still very good V7 Stone II. No doubt a few Triumph tuners and a handful of Guzzi specialists will get to work on those bikes, but few if any will reach the level of the Cherry’s Company turbocharged H-D Street 750 in our lead image.
In spite of protestations from various peanut gallery season-ticket holders who claim disinterest, our mostly annual Superbike Comparison remains MO’s single biggest deal of the year when it comes to clicks and comments. Apparently, many people who don’t have much interest in owning any of these motorcycles are still really interested in riding them vicariously, which is fine by the MO staff; we’re willing to make the sacrifice, for a few weeks anyway. Whether you lust after one or not, it only makes sense to be interested in them, since this is where the new performance stuff turns up first, as motorcycles, like everything else, grow more sophisticated.
From the unchained environment of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where performance is the sole consideration for victory in our 2015 Six-Way Superbike Track Shootout, we move to the confines of public roadways to determine which superbike renders the best street-legal exhibition. As tight as our track test results were, the street shootout was just as close with a half-percent separating second from first place. If the MO offices were located in Florida, I’d demand a recount.
Tire manufacturers have a unique challenge when developing tires for sportbikes. Truth is, most sportbikes on the road will hardly, if ever, see a racetrack. Their time will largely be spent cruising around on the street during the week, with an adrenaline-pumping canyon ride or trackday on the weekends. The challenge engineers face is creating a tire with a center that will last, while also giving the rider side grip for navigating the bends, both on the street and the track. The different tire manufacturers have each come up with their own solutions to accommodate these needs, and what we have in this week’s Sport Tire Buyer’s Guide are choices from eight different tire manufacturers. Each tire is meant to live the majority of its life on the street, but is capable for the occasional trackday if needed.
Yamaha’s been on a roll lately, with bikes like the FZ-09, FJ-09 and FZ-07 stealing headlines by proving that affordable and competent motorcycles aren’t synonymous with dull and boring. If that wasn’t enough, Yamaha also unleashed the new YZF-R1 and R1M to the masses, showing the world in one swift kick how far it can push the boundaries of technology on two wheels.