2018 Yamaha XSR700 Sport Heritage First Ride Review

November 17, 2017 admin 0

2018 Yamaha XSR700 Sport Heritage

Editor Score: 91.5%
Engine 19.0/20
Suspension/Handling 14.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 9.5/10
Overall Score91.5/100

Whoever said, “you can buy fashion but you can’t buy style” has obviously never seen or ridden Yamaha’s all new 2018 XSR700 Sport Heritage. While this statement usually pertains to clothes, I don’t think it’s far off the mark when it comes to Yamaha’s new middleweight. The threads you wear and motorcycles you ride don’t have a lot in common, but one thing they do share is that they both allow you to express yourself and make a statement. Just about anything retro is “cool”, or in fashion these days, but what the wearer (or rider in this case) does with it ultimately evokes their style. The XSR700 makes it easy to do so on both fronts. Allow me to explain…

Just to reiterate – retro is “in” right now. Call it what you want to call it, whether it be retro, vintage, classic or traditional, it’s all the same, and kids these days are into it. Take it from me, a 28-year-old, tattooed, hipster millennial – I should know what’s cool, right? Maybe not, but it’s what a large portion of my generation digs. Plus, it’s this younger demographic that manufacturers are targeting to help keep our industry alive, though anyone, regardless of age can look good on this bike.

What else is a hipster to do these days but ride their vintage (looking) bike from coffee shop to coffee shop? We gotta get our caffeine fix somehow, and why not pair it with the excitement of riding?

Everyone wants the look and style of an old motorcycle, but could do without the difficult hurdles of its ownership – mainly the reliability, access to parts and the overall lack of performance (by today’s standards, anyhow). Yamaha has elegantly bridged this gap with the XSR700 Sport Heritage. Drawing influence from its classic “XS” series, Yamaha blends world-class engineering with timeless style and has created a machine for riders looking for an authentic and honest motorcycle that doesn’t sacrifice performance or leave you stranded on the side of the road.

The styling of many modern bikes today is edgy, with plenty of sharp angles and aggressive lines. The XSR has taken a different, more relaxed approach with the use of round components that include a circular multi-reflector headlight, LED tail and brake light as well as a compact LCD instrument gauge. The gauge displays all pertinent information that’s thoughtfully laid out and easily discernible at a quick glance. These round lines certainly harken back to the styling of the XS models of the ’70s – which is cool, I tell you!

Yamaha XSR700 Sport Heritage

A wide, easy to reach handlebar offers plenty of leverage and the compact, round gauge displays all the info you need with just a quick glance.

Yamaha XSR700 Sport Heritage

The round LED tail light atop the duckbill rear fender is bright and complements the bike’s styling nicely.

Just kidding, but what is cool is that Yamaha has engineered the XSR700 so that its owners can easily customize it to their liking. In fact, Yamaha encourages it. The gas tank has three covers (left, right and center), that are easily unbolted and can be painted any-which-way you want if the matte gray aluminum or raspberry metallic don’t tickle your fancy. There are also other raw aluminum covers and braces that can be painted or left bare – the bike will look good, either way. The rear portion of the subframe is removable to further aid and simplify customization. In addition, Yamaha has a whole slew of accessories specific to the XSR700 including everything from number plates to adventure saddlebags to truly make it your own.

Yamaha XSR700 Sport Heritage

The gas tank panels are easily removed so that you can paint and customize them anyway you want. So easy even a millennial can do it.

While looks and styling are obviously important factors when influencing and attracting potential buyers/riders, it’s the bike’s meat and potatoes that will ultimately determine its value. Nobody wants a bike that’s all show, no go. Hands down, my favorite part of the XSR700 is the motor. Why? It’s a torque monster. Yamaha claims 50 foot-pounds of torque from the 689cc liquid-cooled, parallel twin-cylinder DOHC engine, but given how happy it is to loft the front end, you’d think it had a bigger motor. Ripping first, second and even third gear wheelies out of almost every turn is as fun and easy as it sounds. Coming to a stop sign or red light isn’t even that bad because it means you get to feather the clutch and click through those gears all over again – it’s addictive.

Throwing the XSR into city corners is no problem even with all the potholes, cracks and railroad tracks. The 41mm fork and rear monocross shock handle the bumps with ease.

Yamaha designed this motor to “maximize riding excitement in the real world,” and they succeeded. The XSR700 has super usable power and is a pleasure to ride in and around town. Exciting as the motor may be, it’s never overwhelming, and delivers linear power that keeps pulling all the way up through redline which makes it no slouch in spirited jaunts through the twisties. There are two major benefits to this: the predictability and user-friendly nature of the motor lends itself well to less experienced riders in building their confidence but can provide plenty of thrill to faster riders, too.

Going fast is no fun if you can’t slow down though, right? Scrubbing the XSR700’s speed is a pair of 282mm floating discs with four-pot calipers in the front and a 245mm disc in the rear. ABS comes standard to prevent wheel lock under heavy deceleration and works well when triggered. One of my biggest ABS pet peeves is when it’s too eager to engage, but the XSR’s unit finds a nice balance without any disconcerting modulation at the lever. Kudos.

Spirited riding is certainly one of the XSR700’s strong points as it’s well suited to carving up the curves. If you look closely, you can see sparks from dragging the foot peg feelers.

Keeping the XSR700 composed is a non-adjustable 41mm telescopic fork and a link-type monocross rear shock with preload adjustability. Each delivers 5.1 inches of suspension travel and together are tuned to provide a balance of comfort and control ideal for the street. The bike floats over railroad tracks and manhole covers gently but stays firm and planted while leaned over through rougher, choppier pavement as well. You can push the XSR700 pretty darn deep into a turn, and it holds its arc nicely.

Yamaha designers and engineers did a bang-up job in creating a great all-arounder. Whether it be commuting, sporty riding or long hauls down the freeway, the XSR700 has comfortable ergonomics to do it all. Compared to its FZ-07 (now MT-07) brother, the XSR’s 29-inch wide bars are about 3 inches wider and just a tad closer to the rider. This offers an open and roomy cockpit with an upright seating position that provides the pilot with plenty of leverage to throw the bike in and out of turns but also comfort for longer rides.  The tank is recessed effectively where your thighs can comfortably squeeze the bike, which in turn makes it feel super thin and nimble as a result.

A skinny chassis and 410 lb weight make the bike flickable through the twisty stuff.

Adding to the XSR700’s flickable handling is Yamaha’s claimed 410-pound wet weight, which is certainly lighter than most other middleweight bikes in its class. The bike’s light weight paired with its 25-degree rake make it a corner slayer, however it’s also very stable at speeds north of 80. Most Southern California freeways have little rain grooves that like to steer the bike in whichever direction they please. This sensation can be unnerving and it intensifies with more speed, but the XSR700 goes where you point it without any sort of backtalk or ideas of its own.

A couple other comfort characteristics worthy of noting are the seat and the lack of vibration transmitted from the motor. The two-level, stitched saddle is soft in all the right places and positions you comfortably forward right up against the tank. My upper inner thighs thank you, Yamaha, as that’s usually where any sort of discomfort is focused. Paired with the engine’s “Crossplane Concept” 270-degree crank is a vibration-reducing counterbalancer that doesn’t leave your hands or feet tingling after a long haul.

Coffee shops and record stores are good and dandy, but the open country roads are where the XSR700 shines brightest.

All in all, the XSR700 Sport Heritage is a solid motorcycle, and it’s fun to ride. I get excited just thinking about it. This is perhaps its greatest strength because above all else, riding motorcycles is about having fun, and the XSR provides plenty of it. We look forward to putting more miles on the thing to further determine where it shines and where it may falter, but so far, our first impression is positive. No question. And as far as the saying “you can buy fashion but you can’t buy style” goes, you can pick one of these up for $8,499. Yamaha will provide the fashion and you can provide the style as you wheelie off into the sunset, or to the next light, whichever comes first.

Wheelie pics and video coming soon!

2018 Yamaha XSR700 Sport Heritage First Ride Review appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Tom White Memorial Ride

November 16, 2017 admin 0

Tom White Memorial Ride appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Pirelli Test Riders Climb To More Than 17,000 Ft.

November 16, 2017 admin 0

Here’s a fun way for a tire company to create an interesting press release: Send out your test riders to India’s Himalayan mountain range to take on the 17,582-foot Khardung La Pass mountain pass, one of the highest in the world.

It doesn’t hurt when one of your riders is Salvo Pennisi (pictured in the lead photo), who we’ve met and enjoyed his genial and adventuresome personality at several Pirelli tire launches. The former Dakar Rally competitor saddled up on Royal Enfield’s recently introduced Himalayan, which uses Pirelli’s MT60 tires as original equipment.

Begin Press Release

The Collaboration Between Pirelli and Royal Enfield is Growing: PHANTOM SPORTSCOMP Tires are Original Equipment on the New Continental GT 650 and Interceptor INT 650. Following the Himalayan Model Equipped with MT 60 and the Continental GT 500cc with Sport Demon, now the New Continental GT 650 and Interceptor INT 650 will be mounted with Pirelli Tires. To Celebrate the Original Equipment Supply, Pirelli’s Motorcycle Testing Department Climbed the Himalayan Chain to Reach One of the Highest Vehicle-Accessible Passes in the World

MILAN (November 15, 2017) – The collaboration between Pirelli, one of the leading tire manufacturers in the world, and Royal Enfield, the historic Anglo-Indian motorcycle company, is further strengthened: the new models Continental GT 650 and Interceptor INT 650, recently presented at EICMA, will fit Pirelli PHANTOM SPORTSCOMP as original equipment tires.

The new Continental GT 650 and Interceptor INT 650 are just the latest models that Royal Enfield has decided to equip with Pirelli tires. For the Himalayan, another Pirelli tire, the MT 60, was selected, while Pirelli SPORT DEMON was chosen for the Continental GT 500cc.

The new Continental GT 650 and Interceptor INT 650 powered by the 650 Twin will be equipped with the legendary PHANTOM SPORTSCOMP (in 100/90 – 18 M/C 56H TL front and 130/70 – 18 M/C 63H TL rear sizes).

PHANTOM™ SPORTSCOMP is part of a line of historical tires of the Pirelli Sport Classic range, which includes also the MT 60 and SPORT DEMON™ models, destined to respond to the heritage trends and chosen by motorcycle manufacturers and customizers, to equip modern café racers, medium-powered custom bikes and modern classics.

Tires of Pirelli’s PHANTOM line are legendary. They were produced for the first time back in 1977 and redesigned over the years to keep pace with the most modern technologies. Their constant presence and evolution over the years make it one of the most important brands among motorcycle products made by the “long P” company.

With the new millennium, Pirelli revised the PHANTOM SPORTSCOMP radically, combining the sporting origin of the Sportscomp with timeless charm and style, thus giving rise to a Sport Classic line within the Supersport segment.

Among the strengths of this tire include the easy handling and change in direction, stable and predictable behavior under acceleration and braking, being able to transmit power to the ground and regular wear combined to excellent mileage.

In addition, to celebrating and sealing the collaboration with Royal Enfield, an expedition of the Pirelli Motorcycle Testing Department has reached, with two Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycles equipped with Pirelli MT 60 tires, the Khardung La Pass. At 5,359 meters (17,582 ft.) high it has long been considered the highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world.

The adventure was realized by Salvo Pennisi, Director of Testing and Technical Relations for Pirelli Motorcycle Division, and by Vincenzo Bonaccorsi, who for Pirelli is the tester responsible for the Original Equipment projects in the Asia-Pacific area.

In India to support normal working activities with Original Equipment companies such as Royal Enfield, the two Pirelli Motorcycle Testing Department representatives wanted to celebrate in this particular way the supply to Royal Enfield.

Riding two Royal Enfield Himalayan’s fitted with Pirelli MT 60 tires, Salvo Pennisi and Vincenzo Bonaccorsi decided to ride the Himalayan chain; to the Khardung La Pass, one of the highest vehicle-accessible passes in the world in the region of Ladakh, India, north of Leh and considered the gateway to the Shyok and Nubra valleys.

Departing from the town of Manali at midday on Thursday September 28, 2017, after two days and five hundred kilometers of roads and slopes that are so tough and challenging to enter, they are considered in the list of the ‘10 most dangerous roads in the world’. The route took them with forced acclimatization, through the passes of Rohtang (3956 meters above sea level), Nakeela (4711 meters above sea level), Lachungla (5035 meters above sea level) and Kangla Jal (4878 meters above sea level). Pirelli’s adventurers reached the Khardung La Pass at 12:16 pm on Saturday September 30, 2017, summing up in total, 48 hours and 23,968 meters of altitude, thus crowning one of the most iconic dreams of motorcyclists, to challenge themselves in the Himalayas and attempt the legendary Kardhung La.

# # #

ABOUT PIRELLI

Founded in 1872, Pirelli is among the largest global tire makers, and focuses its business on the high end, premium product segment where it is a world leader. Present in over 160 countries, Pirelli has 22 manufacturing sites and employs approximately 38,000 people around the world. Successfully competing in motorsports since 1907, Pirelli is currently the exclusive supplier of the Formula 1 championship, the Superbike world championship, and many other championships around the world.

Pirelli Tire North America (PTNA) services NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) member countries through its Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS) facility and research and development center at its Rome, Georgia headquarters, its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Silao, Mexico and its New York City, Montreal and Mexico City sales and marketing offices. The company manufactures, distributes and markets original equipment and replacement tires for export and domestic car/motorcycle applications (US, CA, MX) and Agro/Heavy Truck platforms (MX).

Pirelli Test Riders Climb To More Than 17,000 Ft. appeared first on Motorcycle.com News.

MIC’s “Gas Tank” Competition Applications Available Now

November 16, 2017 admin 0

Have you ever thought of a clever idea for a new motorcycle product but never did anything with it because you didn’t know how to develop it or bring it to market? Now’s your chance to get your idea in front of industry experts as part of an inspiring contest sponsored by the Motorcycle Industry Council.

The contest title “Gas Tank” is a riff on the popular TV show Shark Tank, in which contestants present their supposedly good ideas to a panel of judges to find out if they have merit for further investment. The twist here is that the products being presented in Gas Tank must be somehow related to the powersports industry.

Five finalists will get the opportunity to pitch their business plans to influential industry leaders at the 2018 AIMExpo, which will be held in Las Vegas next fall. Each entrepreneur gets paired with an established leader in the industry to mentor them and hone their business plans.

No need to worry that your product or idea has to be only motorcycle parts, as winners from last year’s contest included much diversity – from a female motorcycle tour company to a moto magazine, and even to an energy-bar business.

So, if you’ve always been dreaming of being part of a motorcycle enterprise, now might be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. The deadline for submissions is February 28, 2018. Applications to participate in the program will be available at mic.org. More details are below.

Begin Press release


Nov. 14, 2017 – Applications are available now for the Motorcycle Industry Council’s “Gas Tank” competition. Gas Tank is similar to TV’s “Shark Tank,” where aspiring entrepreneur-contestants present business plans for exciting new products and services to a panel of industry leaders.

However, MIC’s Gas Tank is specific to the powersports industry. It provides a platform to showcase creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, and provides contestants a unique opportunity to work one-on-one with established industry mentors. Five finalists will be selected for a chance to pitch their business plans live in front of influential industry leaders at the 2018 AIMExpo presented by Nationwide in Las Vegas. Applications to participate in the program will be available at mic.org. The deadline for completed applications is February 28, 2018.

The first Gas Tank competition, held last year, helped five entrepreneurs in the powersports industry propel their ideas and dreams to reality. Although there was only one champion in the 2016 Gas Tank competition, all five entrepreneurs saw immense progress in the year that followed. Each entrepreneur was paired with a mentor – an established leader in the powersports industry – who helped guide them and refine their business plans, which ranged from new accessories and energy bars to magazines and tours.

But it wasn’t just the entrepreneurs who benefitted. Several program mentors said the relationships that formed and the experience they got from helping others are priceless.

“Although I have been in the industry for decades, this really helped give me a new perspective on the challenges entrepreneurs are facing today. It’s been exciting working with my mentee and I, too, have learned so much from this experience,” said Eric Anderson, CEO and Founder of VROOM Network and MIC Gas Tank Mentor.

Here’s a look at where the 2016 Gas Tank contestants are today:

Debra Chin, of MotoChic® Gear

Debra Chin is a woman on the move, yet she couldn’t find a bag that could keep up with her – that is, one that was practical and stylish. So, Chin set to work on filling that void and created MotoChic®, a company that produces gear for women on the go who don’t want to compromise. Chin was the winner of last year’s Gas Tank competition.

“My mentor, Eric Anderson, told me repeatedly to think big, which continues to push me out of my comfort zone to do greater things,” said Chin. “Since the thrilling Gas Tank win, two areas in which MotoChic has made significant progress are products and community building.” Chin said the patent on the MotoChic® Gear Lauren bag has been officially granted, and the bag is now available with custom monogramming. She has also expanded her line with a collection for “Stylish Women on the Move”: The Lauren Sport bag and Performance Socks.

As for community, it is “a cornerstone of the MotoChic® brand, and we like to have fun connecting our fellow riders, brand ambassadors and affiliates,” said Chin. Still, Chin acknowledges there are hurdles for her small company.

“One of the biggest challenges I face is managing small volume production, and constant vigilance is required to enforce standards,” Chin said. “But every obstacle reenergizes me rather than slows me down, because high quality is a hallmark of the MotoChic® brand.”

Katie McKay, of Modern Moto Magazine

Immediately following last year’s AIMExpo, Katie McKay jumped into production of the first issue of Modern Moto Magazine for a March 2017 release.

“Everything was a challenge, from learning how to use the design software, to how to approach clients, shipping methods, sales tax and marketing. After four issues, I still need to constantly reference my notes, but at least now, I know where to look,” said McKay, whose mentor was Dealernews Vice President and General Manager Mary Green. “Although I may not meet the first-year goals that were set in my business plan, I still feel that we have made great progress. We are growing a subscription base and the motorcycle industry is beginning to recognize our name and they trust us to represent them,” McKay said. “In the coming months and into the new year, we will be pushing brand awareness and letting more riders know we are here as a valuable and entertaining resource.”

Alisa Clickenger of Women Motorcycle Tours

From Colorado’s backcountry, to the American Southwest and Cuba, Alisa Clickenger has been hard at work developing an all-ladies motorcycle tour company.

“Our first-ever all-ladies Colorado Backcountry Discovery route tour was filled up within one month, said Clickenger, who was paired with Scot Harden, an AMA Hall of Fame off-road racer and president of Harden Offroad. “The current popularity of dual-sport riding among women riders is a constant source of delight for me,” she said. “Working on a business plan with my mentor really helped me see the money side of my business. Sure, everyone wants to lead tours and ride motorcycles and get paid for it, but just seeing the hard-and-fast numbers was quite a surprise,” said Clickenger.

Clickenger is now expanding her business with another angle. “I have developed a community building program for dealers to help them jumpstart their female riding communities. We help them get started with introductions to folks and create an event at their dealership that is fun and informative for women. Dealers are the face of motorcycling and how they communicate with their female customers is paramount to growing the industry.”

Gina Woods of Open Road Incredible Edibles

Gina Woods knows that riders need to not only fuel their motorcycles, but fuel themselves. However, “there are so few options for a person who wants to choose a clean, healthy alternative to the chemical-loaded power bars in the marketplace,” Woods said. So, she created a line of all-natural, handcrafted confectionary bars with proprietary infused gel. In short, organic “superfood bars.”

“I think our Feel the Horsepower product line will be a huge hit,” said Woods, who worked with Steve Johnson, past president and chief operating officer of Tucker Rocky. “We’ve finalized the all-organic recipes for the Feel the Horsepower Biker Energy Bar, which is a healthier option to replace energy shots and drinks; the Fuel Bar, a healthier meal replacement option; and the Sports Bar, for enzyme replacement after a workout.”

Woods said her company is finalizing packaging and has selected a supplier for its first round of production. “We are already planning the related products that will extend our brand. We’ve had interest from the biggest health-food grocery store chain, one of the large convenience store brands and many motorcycle dealerships. Our next step is to find an investor to help us with the initial production run, and then we’ll be off to the races.” Woods said she has also been noticed by the producers of the TV series “Shark Tank,” and she has been contacted by a similar show sponsored by Entrepreneur Magazine called “Elevator Pitch.”

“I feel like we are so close to having this product take off in a big way,” Woods said.

About MIC

The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, aftermarket programs, AIMExpo, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit, national industry association, the MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers of motorcycles, scooters, ATVs, ROVs, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts, accessories and related goods and services, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.

The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at MIC.org.

MIC’s “Gas Tank” Competition Applications Available Now appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

How Much Do You Know About Your Favorite Motorcycle Gear Brands?

November 16, 2017 admin 0

There are many motorcycle gear brands out there on the market these days. Some big, some small. Something to remember though, every brand has a story and an origin. Stories that might surprise you if you took the time to learn them. All too often we forget that behind each company, no matter the size, there were real people who worked hard to found them. More often than not, there are interesting bits of information to learn about the process and ideas that unfolded from these entrepreneur’s creative minds.

Being the self-proclaimed gear nerd that I am, I have taken mental notes on tidbits of information that have left people surprised to learn. It could be how to pronounce their favorite brand’s name or perhaps where a particular brand comes from. Take a few minutes out of your busy day and give this quiz a shot. Who knows, you might just learn something.


How Much Do You Know About Your Favorite Motorcycle Gear Brands? appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Suzuki Factory Tour Part 2: Takatsuka Engine Manufacturing Plant

November 15, 2017 admin 0

The all-new 2017 GSX-R1000 is “a huge impact model for us,” Takeshi Hayasaki, president of Suzuki Motor of America, told us at the Gixxer’s launch earlier this year. As such, part of the new GSX-R’s media launch included tours of Suzuki’s three main facilities in Japan where we could witness the care and precision that goes into each bike’s development and its production.

Suzuki Factory Tour Part 1: Ryuyo Test Facility

First off was a trip to the Ryuyo development complex you can read about in the link above. Our next stop was the Takatsuka engine plant in the Hamamatsu prefecture where crankcases, crankshafts, cylinders and heads are mated and and assembled prior to their installation in Suzukis built at the Toyokawa production facilities located about 30 miles away.

Fun Fact: The Suzuki Loom Works, a textile company, was established in 1909. Suzuki’s first motorcycle, the unfortunately named Power Free, debuted in in 1952.

The engine factory at Takatsuka consists of nearly 2 million square-feet on a facility sprawling over nearly 10,000 acres. Amazingly, the factory is staffed by just 264 employees that operate 28 production lines. Four lines are dedicated only to crankshaft production, and each can produce 200 cranks a day.

Fun fact: Suzuki’s workforce consisted of 15,000 employees in 2016. About 91% of Suzukis are sold overseas.

It was a treat to be given access to Suzuki’s engine factory to see up close the scrupulous care that goes into building its powerplants. A Powerpoint presentation begins our tour.

Engine production is segmented into three areas: 250-1000cc Twins; 50-650cc Singles and Twins; and 250-1800cc four-cylinders, Twins and Singles, including the GSX-R1000, M109R and Hayabusa. Suzuki tells us that it typically takes 90 minutes to build a four-cylinder engine and it requires 90 minutes to change a line to another model. One line at Takatsuka is dedicated to the GSX-R1000 engine, and up to 200 Gixxer Thou engines can be produced each day.

I could’ve spent an entire day watching the phenomenal precision and efficiency of workers assembling engines at the Takatsuka facility. Come along for a walk-through of the factory to see GSX-R1000 engines being built in the pictures and captions below.

The GSX-R1000’s forged steel crankshafts arrive in rough condition, as seen on the far left. Basic machining at Suzuki is the next step, which includes the cutting of gear teeth and bearing surfaces. Then the entire crank is heat-treated before the final machining and finishing touches are applied. Seen on the right is the production-ready piece ready for installation in its engine block.

After machining and heat-treating, the crank dimensions are checked for minute tolerances on this precision measuring tool.

The Gixxer Thou’s crankshaft oil holes are inspected by humans with a tiny camera to be sure they are free from obstructions because of the extreme high-performance nature of the bikes; engines in lesser models are checked by machine.

Next, we walked to an adjacent building where the engines are assembled, passing by pallets of parts from reputable subcontractors like Mahle and Denso. Here, a GSX-R1000 cylinder head is put together by fastidious workers.

Gear-sets are assembled by hand…

…before being installed in the engine block.

The compact nature of the GSX-R1000’s engine is readily seen in this photo. Notice how short it is front to rear, thanks in part to stacked transmission shafts that keep the mill very dense.

The block is nearly ready for its cylinder head.

An assembled clutch basket awaits installation prior to bolting on the cylinder head.

The timing chain is prepared for connecting to the camshafts in the soon-to-arrive cylinder head.

Once the cylinder head is placed onto the engine block, a computerized machine applies torque to all head bolts simultaneously to mitigate any warping as the two surfaces mate with each other.

The meticulous care displayed by Suzuki’s workers was evident at every station along the production line.

Electrical systems are prepared prior to the installation of the fuel injection’s throttle bodies. Intake ports remain covered to prevent contaminating debris from entering the engine.

Another GSX-R1000 engine is nearly complete. Note the white gloves used by all factory workers that ensure cleanliness and to remove the risk of contamination of sensitive parts.

And that’s the end of the line, at least as far as we have pictures to illustrate the process of building the GSX-R1000’s impressive engine. Stay tuned for our tour of the Toyokawa factory where Suzukis are assembled and prepared for customers around the world.

Suzuki Factory Tour Part 2: Takatsuka Engine Manufacturing Plant appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Top 5 Coolest Things at EICMA

November 15, 2017 admin 0

Have I died and gone to motorcycle heaven? Pretty much. EICMA is the world’s biggest motorcycle trade show; anyone and everyone who has anything to do with motorcycling is there. From all the OEMs, to aftermarket performance parts manufacturers to riding gear and apparel companies – it’s all there in unimaginable abundance. I was tasked to sniff out the top five coolest things at EICMA this year and thought – well, that ought to be easy! Boy was I was mistaken…

There’s something neat / cool / interesting / you-name-it, just about everywhere you look. Perusing the show for two days I could have shown you a list of the top five best (read: worst) man buns, or the top five most interesting haircuts (one guy had a two-inch mohawk with a twelve-inch rattail, for real, no joke), or the top five most beautiful girls – oh wait, there goes another one… But this is MO, not Maxim.

2017 EICMA Show Coverage

Below are five things (in no particular order) we found that really caught our attention that are unique each in their own way. I wouldn’t say they’re absolutely the top five best things at EICMA this year, but they’re all pretty damn sweet and certainly not things you see everyday.

5. Suzuki Virtual Reality Riding Experience

EICMA 2017

In a sea of blue and yellow at the Suzuki exhibit I found their Virtual Reality (VR) Rider Experience. Here you can put on a mask, VR goggles and headphones, get on a real 2018 GSX-R1000R and try to chase legendary GP champion, Kevin Schwantz, around the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit with a 360-degree view. The best part is that you actually get to hang off, lean the bike over and drag virtual knee! All without thrashing those new €300 designer jeans…

4. BOTTPOWER XR1R

EICMA 2017

There was obviously no shortage of trick, one-off motorcycles littered across the fair, but one that caught our eye and really stood out was the BOTTPOWER XR1R. BOTTPOWER is a small Spanish motorsport engineering company that specializes in designing and building race bikes, prototypes and street-legal machines, most often using Buells as the foundation. The XR1R was designed and built to race the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where the track ascends the mountain with 156 turns spanning 12.42 miles and finally crossing the finish line at 14,110 feet. The goal was to build a bike with 150 hp weighing 150 kg (330 lbs).

The XR1R is powered by a 1340cc Buell XBRR Factory Racing motor fed by two giant 62mm throttle bodies. Just about everything is custom made with the goal of keeping the power-to-weight ratio as high as possible. All the bodywork, including the gas tank, fairings and wheels, are carbon fiber, and there’s extensive use of one-off 3D printed parts. The front suspension is an Öhlins unit from a Ducati Panigale that’s been developed by Ceracarbon, a Dutch suspension company, that features a pressurized Öhlins TTX 25 cartridge.

The inner tubes are fabricated with carbon fiber and have an external white ceramic coating. These carbon fiber inner tubes supposedly save 3.3 lbs compared with the standard steel tubes. Other interesting weight-saving techniques worthy of note are an aluminum subframe that saves 2 lbs and the lack of a starter motor that nixes an additional 13 lbs. The XR1R is without question designed to haul the mail and placed a very respectable fourth place in its class this past November.

3. Honda Monkey 125

EICMA 2017

Perhaps the one bike at the show that screamed “TAKE MY MONEY!” the loudest was the Honda Monkey 125. Styled after the Z50, the most widely used minibike in history, and based on the Grom platform, Honda revealed a beautiful retro-classic with all the modern goodies. The Monkey 125 features a 125cc SOHC, fuel-injected motor, inverted fork, dual rear shocks, disc brakes front and rear, LED lights and digital gauges. There’s no announcement on whether the new Monkey will make it Stateside yet, but the exhaust looks like it’s hiding a catalytic converter, which gives us hope here in America. There is no limit to how much fun you can have on these minis because, not only are they easy to ride, they’re affordable too. If the popularity of the Grom and Kawi’s Z125 is any indication, the Monkey 125 should sell like hotcakes as well. Fingers crossed!

Slow Adults MMC (Mini Motorcycle Club) On Honda Mini Trails

2. Honda CRF450RX Enduro Supermoto

EICMA 2017

It seems as though Asia and Europe get all the cool stuff that us Americans can only drool over from across the pond. Case in point, this fully street-legal Honda CRF450RX Enduro Supermoto. After a little bit of digging, it seems like this bike will be available in Europe only. But why? There are few motorcycles that can carve the pavement with the lightness and flickability of a supermoto; they’re an absolute riot. If you’ve never had the chance to ride one, we suggest you give it a shot – it might just change your life. The U.S. legal system stands to benefit as well, with all the law infractions the CRF450RX Supermoto owners are bound to make. From wheelies and stoppies to curb jumping and other “reckless” driving violations, the amount the government can make off supermoto hooligans is boundless. We at MO often joke about having to spend our own money on motorcycles, but if either of these two Hondas were to make it Stateside, we would be first in line, blindly putting money down to pre-order our own.

1. Akrapovič Experience Room and Sound Chair

EICMA 2017

Last but not least was what we found at the Akrapovič exhibit. The Slovenian exhaust manufacturer had an interactive Experience Room where visitors could fully immerse themselves in the sound, design and craftsmanship of Akrapovič products. Many took the opportunity to sit in the all-enveloping aural experience of the Akrapovič Sound Chair to fully absorb the unique tone of an Akrapovič exhaust system. What was neat about the Sound Chair was that one could compare the sound and feeling between just about any motorcycle’s stock exhaust back-to-back with an Akrapovič unit. There was also an interactive game function where you could try to decipher which motorcycle you were listening to, as each powerplant emitted its own unique sound.

Until next year, EICMA!

EICMA 2017

Top 5 Coolest Things at EICMA appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Bell Star MIPS Helmet Review

November 14, 2017 admin 0

The new Star MIPS is Bell’s latest attempt to improve protection for our brains, introducing the Swedish-engineered Multi-directional Impact Protection System to its popular street helmet after using MIPS on its Moto-9 Flex dirtbike helmet for a few years.

Bell Helmets DOME R&D Lab Tour

The Bell Star MIPS supplants the regular Star in Bell’s line, and its primary feature is the MIPS liner that is designed to rotate slightly inside the helmet to reduce the amount of energy transferred to a rider’s brain. It’s connected to the EPS liner by four elastomeric bands to provide 10-15mm of movement in all directions, absorbing rotational-impact energy from angled impacts.

From the research we’ve seen, the MIPS system truly does reduce the effects of rotational energy on the brain, and Bell says its research indicates a 30% reduction in the energy affecting the brain. It’s truly one of the few innovations in helmet design over the past several decades and will certainly become more prevalent in helmets as time goes on. If you’re having a difficult time visualizing how MIPS works, take a look at the video below.

Helmet Tech: Reducing Rotational Brain Violence

The shell of the Star MIPS gets subtly revised from the older Star and retains its Tri-Matrix composite of fiberglass, Aramid and carbon fiber. It also receives expanded ear cavities and a slightly longer rear spoiler. It remains Snell, DOT, and ECE-certified. It joins the higher-end Race Star Flex and Pro Star Flex in Bell’s Star family of helmets.

The helmet provides many desirable features, such as removable and washable liners (woven with silver fibers to dry quickly and deter growth of odor-causing bacteria), channels in the padding to allow room for eyeglass arms, tool-less shield replacement, and integrated speaker pockets. The cheek-pads feature an emergency-removal system to more easily enable the helmet to be taken off an injured rider’s head. A magnet in the strap secures its so it doesn’t flop around at speed, a simpler arrangement than fussing with a small snap.

The Star MIPS starts at $470 for solid colors and up to $590 for graphics. The snazzy Isle Of Man graphics version I tested, which looks rich and expensive, retails for $530. A Panovision faceshield with Class 1 optics increases visibility compared to the previous Star. Replacement shields start at $60 in clear or tinted.

Another feature of the Star line is Bell’s use of six shell sizes for its line that stretches from XS to XXL. Most helmet companies build fewer shell sizes and adjust interior room by adding or subtracting internal pad thicknesses. That method saves production costs, but it also has an effect on the overall weight of the helmets. Bell says the Star MIPS weighs 1500 grams, about 3.3 pounds.

The Star MIPS feels plush when pulled over a head, despite any negative preconceptions some might have about about products manufactured in China. I typically use an Extra-Small helmet size for a snug and secure fit, but Bell suggested a Small for me. It felt really nice on my head, but I could sense a bit of extra room next to my forehead.

The way a helmet fits on a head is a critical element. Bell describes its Star MIPS helmet as having an Intermediate Oval headshape, which I expected to closely align with the shape of my head. However, I noticed a bit of extra room in the forehead area and that the top of my skull didn’t fully sink into the liner. Bell’s rep Chris Killen (pictured) stepped into action, removing the small pad at the roof of the helmet and inserting it into the forehead liner, quickly creating a perfectly secure fit for my noggin. The helmet is also shipped with an extra pad that can be inserted where needed to ensure optimum fit.

Once properly fitted, I strapped it on and headed out onto Thunderhill Raceway, where Bell had invited us to sample its new lid. I was very pleased with the helmet’s stability at high speeds (more than 150 mph), and I was impressed with the shield’s wide range of visibility even when in a race tuck. The best compliment I can give is that I wasn’t giving the helmet sitting on my head any thought while railing around the track.

The Star MIPS is a really nice looking helmet that felt comfortable and stable during session after session at Thunderhill. I selected the light-smoke faceshield, which nicely tones down ambient light without dimming visibility as much as a heavily tinted shield.

Bell Star MIPS helmet

Editor Score: 87.25%
Aesthetics 9.0/10
Protection 10/10
Value 8.5/10
Comfort/Fit 9.0/10
Quality/Design 9.0/10
Weight 7.0/10
Options/Selection 9.0/10
Innovation 9.5/10
Weather Suitability 7.5/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 9.0/10
Overall Score87.5/100

Venting appears to be substantial, with closable intakes in the chin bar, brow and top of the helmet augmented by a closable exhaust port behind the crown area and mesh-screened ports below the rear spoiler. However, I’d describe the overall ventilation as merely adequate. Apparently, the MIPS liner constricts airflow circulating around a rider’s scalp. Street riders in hot climates might prefer to position the faceshield in its partially cracked position rather than snapping it closed.

Other than mediocre ventilation, I had absolutely no issues with the Star MIPS, both on the track at Thunderhill and later during street rides back home. The sweet Isle Of Man graphic version has received several compliments from fellow riders, and it feels plush and unobtrusive on my head. When adding in the additional protection from the MIPS liner, there is a lot of value here for a helmet that costs less than $500. I’d be happy to pull the Star MIPS on my head ahead of several pricier helmets in my closet.

Bell Star MIPS Helmet Review appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Whats The Best Motorcycle For A New Rider?

November 14, 2017 admin 0

What’s the best first bike?

That question is the one most asked of experienced riders, more than “don’t you get hot wearing all that stuff?” or even “have you ever crashed?” We all have opinions, but what’s the right answer?

Then right answer is…it depends! There is no such thing as a universal best first motorcycle for beginners, but there are plenty of guidelines to help a new rider make a good decision. A good decision for him or her, not you! Sometimes partners, friends or family members want their new rider to make a decision contrary to the new rider’s interest for the purposes of brand loyalty or ego. Let them make their own choices – including the one not to ride. 

If you’re a noob, here are some things you should consider.

Cheap!

You’re buying your first motorcycle, new rider, not your last one. The idea is for you not to be instantly and permanently ensconced in your chosen moto-niche – cruising, commuting, sport-riding, touring, off-road – but to learn how to ride. Taking an approved safety course like MSF or Total Control is a good first step, of course, but you’ll only get about 15-25 miles of experience during that weekend, so your first bike is a training tool, not an investment: don’t spend a lot! A second-hand bike will do fine; let someone else take the depreciation hit on a shiny new ride.

New Rider

A light, simple, inexpensive bike like Suzuki’s TU250 is great for your important learning time. Worry about your next bike after you learn how to ride.

Light!

“Light” refers to weight, but it can also mean more. Your first bike should be light enough so you can pick it up off the ground (d’oh!), but also have a “light” power output – under 20 horsepower is great for learning – and be light on your body. That means it should fit you ergonomically: your arms in a comfortable position, elbows slightly bent and your feet able to easily operate the foot controls. It’s also important to be able to get both feet firmly flat on the ground when stopped.

Reliable!

Finally, get a motorcycle that’s not just easy to ride, but easy to fix. Motorcycles aren’t cars: they wear out and break more easily, which means you will wind up getting your hands dirty. Learn how to wrench on something simple, with a solid, reliable and relatively modern design. It won’t have a lot of bodywork or high-performance features, but if you can work on a basic, air-cooled, single-cylinder motorcycle, you will be confident working on most anything. Try it the other way around and you may be scared away from picking up a wrench ever again.

Ride safe!

What’s The Best Motorcycle For A New Rider? appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

How Much Is An Electric Motorcycle?

November 14, 2017 admin 0

Electric motorcycles may be the future, but right now they are far from being price-competitive with their gasoline-powered cousins. But don’t worry! Even though having an electric motorcycle can cost you many thousands of more dollars, you may be able to even out the price difference.

How Much?

Electric motorcycles – practical ones with enough range to be practical commuters – haven’t been around too long, so you’ll likely have to buy new. Street-legal electric motorcycles start at $8,495 for the Zero FX or FXS and can go up to $46,888 for the highest-spec, 218-mph Lightning LS-218 (the fastest production motorcycle in the world, by the way). If what you need is a simple, lightweight commuter for a 20-40 mile round trip to work each day, Zero’s model S with a 7.2-kw-hour battery pack will likely do the trick, with a $10,995 MSRP.

Actual Cost

But what if you compared actual operating cost over the life of the bike? Let’s assume you can ride your motorcycle to work 200 days a year, and like most Americans, you commute about 30 miles round trip and have a place to plug your motorcycle in at night. Also, like most motorcyclists, you have more than one motorcycle, so you’ll have a long-distance steed when you need to go further than the 60-mile combined highway/city range of the Zero S 7.2.

Let’s also compare it to a new Suzuki SV650, a fun and economical gas-powered ride. It makes about 60 horsepower – a lot more than the Zero’s 34 – but the Zero makes 78 foot-pounds of torque, far more than the Suzuki and the kind of power you need to zip effortlessly through your morning commute. The SV is just $6,999, but that’s not the end of your expenses! We have to also compare the price of fuel and maintenance. We’ll assume insurance, tires and other costs are about equal.

electric motorcycle

You can change the chart and make different assumptions to show a gas bike would be cheaper…but not by much. Plus you probably have too much spare time.

In eight years, you’ll travel about 48,000 miles. We’ll also assume gas will stay around $3 a gallon for that entire time, which is being kind to the gas-powered bike, as we’ve seen the price of gas soar past $5 in the last decade. Also, in 48,000 miles, the Suzuki will need 10 or 11 oil changes, as well as a few coolant changes, valve inspections/adjustments, two or three sets of chains and sprockets (depending on how good you are at maintaining them), air filters, fuel-injection syncs and other services and parts the Zero won’t need. Zero’s service schedule is much simpler – it’s basically inspections every 4,000 miles – and therefore cheaper. Even if you do the work yourself (ew!), the price of parts alone will be far more for the Suzuki.

Based on all these factors, over eight years, that gas-powered Suzuki will cost you around $14,599, while the Zero will ring up about $13,664. Of course, the Suzuki has better range, top speed and versatility, but it’s also almost 100 pounds heavier than the Zero and can’t match the silent, smooth operation of the electric bike. Of course, like me, you may love the sounds and feels of a snarling V-Twin. It’s all about individual preference, but the overall costs of electric motorcycling need not be more than burning gas.

How Much Is An Electric Motorcycle? appeared first on Motorcycle.com.