EagleRider Rentals To Be Available In 100 Harley-Davidson Dealerships

March 15, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

From four motorcycles in a garage in 1992 to a long-term alliance with Harley-Davidson with branches projected in over 100 dealerships by May 2018, EagleRider has come a long way from humble beginnings.  Founded by Chris McIntyre and Jeff Brown, EagleRider came about as the result of McIntyre’s and Brown’s desire to rent Harleys for a cross-country tour. When they discovered that there was no company offering the service, the seed was planted. Now, 26 years later, the company bills itself as the world’s largest motorcycle rental and travel company, and it has its sights set on making further inroads into the travel industry.

Chris McIntyre, CEO and Co-founder of EagleRider, sees EagleRider’s alliance with Harley-Davidson as more than just an opportunity for growth of his company. Instead, he sees it as a chance to help grow motorcycling as a whole through selling experiences. McIntyre, rather than seeing the doom-and-gloom we’ve frequently read about in the motorcycle industry in recent years, feels that the time is perfect for his kind of business: “I have never, ever seen the interest and the desire to ride, more than in 2018. This is probably opposite of what you hear from a lot of the manufactures, because everyone is so obsessed on numbers, dollars, and bikes. But I’m telling you the desire, the interest – whether it’s Millennials or Gen Y – the desire to ride and experience outdoors and two wheels has never been greater – never – and that’s really good for us.”

“We are in this awesome environment in the world of motorcycling where it’s never been better – it’s never been safer for me to go and introduce this world of travel, for people to get experience in the sport. For the other people who want to try something new – the guy that has a Dyna that has never tried one of the new Softails – as soon as he’s tries it, he goes, ‘oh my God.’” These rentals don’t just benefit EagleRider, though. The Harley dealerships should also gain new customers. “If you experience something, you tend to buy it,” enthuses McIntyre.

So, a weekend getaway on a rented motorcycle could be just what the rider needs to buy that next motorcycle – or even a first one. The expanded roster of rental locations makes one-way rentals feasible, too. Rent a bike in Las Vegas and return it a few days later in Salt Lake City after touring through the spectacular countryside that Nevada and Utah have to offer. This is the kind of open-ended trip that, through the use of the 100 EagleRider locations, could be replayed anywhere from the Pacific Northwest to Florida to New England. If McIntyre is right, both the riders who take these journeys and motorcycling as a whole will benefit from these possibilities.

Go visit the EagleRider website to learn more.

Begin Press Release:

EagleRider Alliance With Harley-Davidson Reaches Major Milestone

More than 100 Harley-Davidson® Dealerships to be Part of the Motorcycle Rental Program

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (March 15, 2018) – EagleRider, the world’s largest motorcycle rental and travel company, and Harley-Davidson have achieved a significant milestone in the strategic alliance between the two brands – activating more than 100 Harley-Davidson® dealerships as rental locations throughout the United States.

“Less than one year into our alliance with Harley-Davidson, we are very pleased to announce this key accomplishment,” said Chris McIntyre, CEO and Co-founder of EagleRider. “Our companies have been working diligently to deliver the largest connected network of motorcycle rental locations throughout the U.S. We are eager to continue reaching new riders across America as we head into prime travel season.”

More than 35 new locations have already opened and 70 more will begin taking bookings by May 2018. With the vast network of rental locations, riders can begin and end their two-wheeled adventures almost anywhere in the United States. The 100+ new locations give riders from around the world additional access to America’s most popular tourist destinations and motorcycle routes like the iconic Route 66 and Pacifc Coast Highway.

“Our alliance with EagleRider is an important component of our objective to build two million new riders in the U.S.,” said Anoop Prakash, Director of U.S. Retail Development at Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “The opening of each additional location brings increased access to the sport of motorcycling and to our exciting 2018 motorcycle line-up. And there is no better place for new riders to start their motorcycling journey than in the care of the expert staff found at every Harley-Davidson® dealership.”

Both companies are committed to helping travelers explore America in the most authentic way possible, on an iconic Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. Every EagleRider/Harley-Davidson location can set riders up with guided tours, daily rentals and Club EagleRider membership opportunities

Through the alliance, which was announced in May 2017, EagleRider exclusively offers current model year Harley-Davidson® motorcycles for its Touring and Large Cruiser motorcycle rental segments, equipped with Harley-Davidson® Genuine Motor Parts and Accessories. Harley-Davidson exclusively works with EagleRider to provide rental, travel and tour experiences from its U.S dealership network.

For more information on the new locations, visit www.eaglerider.com/locations.

EagleRider Rentals To Be Available In 100 Harley-Davidson Dealerships appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

MO Tested: Alpinestars Oscar Charlie Jacket With Tech-Air Race

March 12, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

Alpinestars Oscar Charlie Jacket With Tech-Air Race

Editor Score: 87.5%
Aesthetics 9.5/10
Protection 10/10
Value 6.0/10
Comfort/Fit 8.5/10
Quality/Design 9.5/10
Weight 8.0/10
Options/Selection 8.0/10
Innovation 10/10
Weather Suitability 8.0/10
Desirable/Cool Factor 10/10
Overall Score87.5/100

The Alpinestars Oscar Charlie combines truly classic motorcycle jacket lines with solid construction, and if it stopped there, it would be a nice jacket. However, its ability to interface with the new Tech-Air Race System puts it well above your average motorcycle gear.

Alpinestars Tech-Air Plus Missile Leather Suit Review

The Oscar Charlie jacket – even without the Tech-Air system installed – feels like a formidable jacket. The Charlie’s shell is constructed out of full-grain leather that, though it is relatively soft, takes a while to break in and provide that personalized fit that motorcyclists love in a well-worn leather jacket.

Alpinestars 2018 Technical Motorcycling Collection

The shoulders and elbows feature Alpinestars CE-certified Bio Light armor. Although the armor is removable, I don’t know why you’d want to. Similarly, the jacket has a pocket to accommodate a Nucleon back protector if for some reason you don’t want to use the Tech-Air System.

A classically designed motorcycle jacket on the outside with a high-tech heart hidden below the black leather.

The Charlie’s sleeves are pre-curved to feel natural when on a motorcycle in the riding position. The Mandarin-style collar snaps closed and features the Oscar logo, as do the snaps on the sleeves. The collar is devoid of any rough edges or seams that can irritate the rider’s neck when snapped closed. The sleeve cuffs were clearly designed with shorty gloves in mind since only the very largest of gauntlets will fit over them. The waistline has a buckle on each side to allow for a customized fit. Because of the bulk of the Tech-Air System, you’ll find yourself tightening up the buckles if you ever decide to use the jacket without the system. The jacket includes a removable flannel thermal liner for colder weather.

Three features separate the Tech-Air compatible Oscar Charlie jacket from the standard Oscar Charlie. The first is the standard comes in two color options (black/sand and vintage brown/sand) while the Tech-Air compatible is only available in black/red. The biggest difference, however, is the addition of the stretch inserts that run down both sides of the jacket to allow for the expansion of the airbags when the Tech-Air System is activated. The final difference is the array of three LEDs on the left forearm which give the rider the status of the Tech-Air System at a glance.

The control unit for the Tech-Air System is located inside of the back protector. If you look closely, just below the logo, you can see the power switch.

Although the Oscar Charlie is paired with the Tech-Air Race System in this review, it is also compatible with the Tech-Air Street System – something buyers should check carefully when buying jackets to go with their system. Some only accommodate the Street System while others take the Race System only. Some can fit both systems. Despite the name, the Race System can be set to Street Mode through an app available to Tech-Air owners once they register their system online. Unfortunately, the app is PC-only at this time, but a Mac version will be available at some point. The reason riders would want to use the street setting is pretty simple: Race Mode only triggers the system when the rider is moving above a certain speed where the Street Mode allows for the system to be activated at a stop – say if someone hits you at a stop light.

Once the Tech-Air’s firmware is set in the proper mode, installing the system in the Charlie jacket is as easy as mating the pairs of hook-and-loop fasteners, zipping a couple zippers, and hooking in the wire harness for the sleeve LEDs. To activate the system, a little toggle switch in the middle of the back-protector needs to be turned on which places the system in stand-by mode. The magnetic switch hidden in the chest strap arms the system. Simply press the straps together across your chest and watch the LEDs light up on the sleeve. You’ll need to start riding shortly thereafter for the system to fully arm as indicated by the green LED. If the system fails to arm, the red LED will light.

These are the argon inflator cartridges that provide the near-instantaneous airbag pressure. After your Tech-Air System has been triggered, it must be returned to Alpinestars for a $299 service.

While attaching the straps just prior to starting riding sounds like a hassle, in practice, it’s quite natural. According to Alpinestars, the system’s battery is good for approximately 25 hours of use, but I’ve never pushed it more than about eight hours. After a full-day’s ride, I simply care for its battery the same way I do any other USB-charged electronic device: I plug it in to prepare it for its next use. As with the operation of the system, the LEDs on the jacket sleeve will inform the user of the charging status.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the performance of the Tech-Air Race System. No, I haven’t taken it pavement surfing to see what it’s like to trigger the system, but I’m glad to know it’s there if I need it. Still, I have some caveats about my endorsement of the Tech-Air System. First, it is heavy. The 4 lb. that the system adds essentially doubles the jacket’s weight. Second, because of the snug-fitting nature of the system, it is significantly warmer than a jacket without it. This is a plus during the cool winter months here in SoCal, but I imagine it will get toasty come Summer. I see these limitations as signs of the early stage of development of the Tech-Air System. As it advances, the packaging will naturally get smaller and lighter. Similarly, I expect more accommodations to be made for ventilation in updated Tech-Air versions.

These three LEDs are the only outward signs that you’re wearing the latest in motorcycle safety technology.

My final note about the Tech-Air Race System is how it affects jacket sizing. Typically, I wear large Alpinestars jackets, but when I was first given the test unit, I could barely zip the jacket closed with the Tech-Air installed. Moving up to an XL solved the problem. I’m guessing that this is why you can only buy the Tech-Air System at authorized Alpinestars retail outlets.

The Alpinestars Oscar Charlie jacket is available in sizes S-3XL for $649.95. The Alpinestars Tech-Air Race System retails for $1,149.95 in sizes S-2XL but, as I said above, can only be purchased at authorized Alpinestars retail locations due to the fitting requirements for the system and the gear it will be installed in. While the Oscar Charlie jacket is a example of the high quality we expect from Alpinestars, pairing it with the Tech-Air Race System moves it into the leading edge of rider protection. If you’re the type who always wants the newest technology and don’t mind paying the early adopter tax in the form of a high MSRP, I highly recommend this system. You won’t be disappointed. If you’re the type of person who likes for things to be a little more established and polished, you can be sure that the size, weight, and price of the Tech-Air System will come down as the technology advances – all of which make the decision to buy less clear cut. Airbag technology is clearly here to stay, and it’s a question of when you want to embrace its use.

MO Tested: Alpinestars Oscar Charlie Jacket With Tech-Air Race appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Yamaha Champions Riding School and TrackTime LLC Schedule Event At The Ridge Motorsports Park

March 2, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

Great news for riders who live in the northwest! Yamaha Champions Riding School and TrackTime LLC will be joining forces to educate and entertain novices and track junkies alike at The Ridge Motorsports Park.

Begin Press Release:

March 1, 2018, Willcox, AZ – The Yamaha Champions Riding School and TrackTime LLC are teaming up to bring YCRS to the northwest. 

TrackTime LLC is the premier track day riding club in the Northwest, offering motorcycle track days with available instruction, small groups, and a “concentration on fun” at The Ridge Motorsports Park near Seattle, WA.

TrackTime is sending its coaches to YCRS to get certified in our 3C (Champions Certified Coach) program. Upon completion of the 3C certifications, Track Time will return from this year’s final class at Inde Motorsports Ranch with a trailer full of Yamaha motorcycles; TrackTime participants can look forward to demo rides all season.

The icing on the cake is a joint venture that brings ChampSchool, YCRS’s premier two-day class, to the Ridge Motorsports Park on August 27-28, 2018.

ChampSchool is the famed two-day training curriculum that evolved from the Freddie Spencer High Performance Riding School in the ‘90s, based on what we call “Champions Habits”. “Champions Habits” are the techniques that the best riders in the world are using: to win a championship you must not just ride fast, but do it without falling down. Consistency is paramount. These are the riders we want to emulate whether on the street or track; ChampSchool always has a mix of track and street riders, veterans and new riders. Any rider with the desire to improve is welcome.

A combination of drills, lead-follow lapping, open lapping, discussions, on-track demonstrations and on-track video recording will help our students meet their goals and exceed their expectations. Students will enjoy lapping in passenger vans with a pro behind the wheel, so they can hear what the instructor is thinking and doing in each corner of the track. Students will be videotaped from behind on day one, then critiqued, and again on day two to see their improvements and what they still need to work on.

ChampSchool is considered the premier riding school in the United States.

You can learn more about TrackTime at www.tracktime.bike.

You can learn more about ChampSchool and sign up for the August school at www.champschool.com

Yamaha Champions Riding School and TrackTime LLC Schedule Event At The Ridge Motorsports Park appeared first on Motorcycle.com News.

Top 10 Items To Carry In Your Tank Bag

March 2, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0


Top 10 Items To Carry In Your Tank Bag

News flash: most motorcycles have very little cargo-carrying capacity. That’s why tank bags were invented. You can easily carry the little essentials you may need on your ride in a form factor that’s easily removed from your motorcycle. Still, in all my years riding, I’ve never had a tank bag stolen or looted when sitting unattended on my bike. For riders who have hard bags on their bikes, I’ve seen folks use a nylon bag with organizer pockets to carry many of the items on this list, making it possible to compartmentalize the gear like in a tank bag.

Yes, I know  I have a reputation for overpacking when the MO gang goes on tour, but I’d always prefer to carry a little bit of gear I didn’t need than find myself stranded. Look at each of these items as a suggestion and then consider whether it applies to your riding situation. For example, after living in Southern California for almost 30 years, I stopped carrying the rain gear that was always in my tank bag when I lived in the Northeast. Use the comments below to list the necessities I’ve forgotten.

Top 10 Items To Carry In Your Tank Bag appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

MO Tested: Michelin Road 5 Tire Review

February 26, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

When we consider sport-touring motorcycle tires, we typically envision clipping an endless series of apexes as we take a day’s ride (or two) through scenic countryside – perhaps with some soft luggage and a passenger on the back. Well, sport-touring tires have morphed over the years into something of a jack-of-all-trades tire made for the active motorcyclist who uses their bike every day. The sport-touring tire’s job description now includes frequent commuter duty plus the weekend fun runs to the local twisties in addition to more traditional sport-touring adventures. Michelin says the new Road 5 tire is up for the challenge.

Michelin Pilot Road 4 Review

Michelin Power RS Review

Michelin Road 5 Announced

What we have in the Michelin Road 5 is the company’s newest implementation of technologies unveiled in the Power RS in a different category of motorcycle tire. So, while the underlying technologies, like ACT+ and 2CT+, are used in a similar fashion, the tires themselves are engineered to perform a very different task. Where the Power RS is focused on performance street riding with occasional track day use, the Road 5 is intended for everyday riding – read commuting – in the wet and dry followed by weekend canyon carving. To improve the Road 5’s wet weather performance, Michelin’s engineers also updated the sipes that were used in the Pilot Road 4 sport touring tires.


We’ll tour the Road 5 tires from the inside out, starting with the ACT+ (Adaptive Casing Technology). To maintain straight-line stability, Michelin stresses that the tire’s crown needs to remain supple. By utilizing a casing with cords that are almost 90°, the Road 5 achieves this softness. However, the sidewalls need stiffness to combat cornering forces. Michelin achieves this by wrapping the casing around the tire bead and back onto itself. Since the casing’s cords are not exactly at 90° to the tire’s rotation, the cords overlap themselves at an angle (rather than being parallel to each other) for further rigidity.

Michelin Road 5

With Michelin ACT+, the casing wraps around the bead to double-up the layering for increased sidewall stiffness.

Now, let’s move out to the rubber compounds. Michelin used different approaches on the front and rear tires. On the front, Michelin’s 2CT (Two-Compound Technology) uses two different blends of all-silica compounds. The center 44% of the tread incorporates a harder compound than the two 28% sides. Naturally, the harder compound offers better wear characteristics when the bike is straight up and down, while the side compounds are grippier for leaning over in a corner.

The rear tire uses 2CT+, which is 2CT with some added sauce. So, the center 66% uses silica in a higher concentration than the front for even more resistance to wear which is in line with the additional forces that the tire undergoes propelling the motorcycle. On the sides, however, the tread itself is a compound made with carbon black to provide additional grip when on the final 17% of the tread’s edge. The rear tire’s special sauce is that the harder, silica compound runs under the softer carbon black, providing additional stiffness to the carcass to handle the additional forces of accelerating at extreme lean angles.

Michelin Road 5

The Michelin Road 5 looks like a slick when you get to the edge of the tire – all in the name of improved grip. Note how the two tread compounds are visible. The all-silica is the lighter color on the left, while the all-carbon black is on the right.

Both the front and rear tires feature large sections of tread with no grooving of any kind on their edges. These come into play when a bike is leaned more than 35°, an amount that only happens on dry pavement. By essentially making the Road 5 tires slicks when they are at maximum lean, Michelin claims that the dry grip is much improved during spirited riding.

Finally, there’s the XST Evo (X Sipe Technology) that Michelin claims will allow Road 5 tires with 3,000 miles of use to perform just as well as brand new Pilot Road 4 tires in wet conditions. To further up the ante in the sport-touring segment, the company claims that the tires will outperform all of its competitors in the wet. The trick is how the sipes in the tire tread have evolved since they were first introduced in the Pilot Road 4 tires four years ago. Rather than just being a slit in the tire, the inner section is a teardrop shape to allow it to displace more water.

Michelin Road 5

The XST+ sipe on a new tire tread (top) versus on a worn one (bottom). Without the enlarged inner section the water would completely fill the sipe on the bottom.

When tires are new, they can displace more water because the sipes themselves are deeper. However, as the tread wears away, the sipes get shallower, limiting the amount of water they can hold. This is why a change was made from the Pilot Road 4. According to Michelin, the teardrop-shaped interior of the XST Evo sipes in Road 5 tires can contain as much water as new Pilot Road 4 tires after 3,000 miles of use. To prove this point, Michelin staged a demonstration in which one of its test riders performed maximum braking passes on new Pilot Road 4s and used Road 5s (with approximately 3,100 miles). The results showed the Road 5s stopping the bike just shy of 4 ft. shorter than the Pilot Road 4s. Watching a rider stop with enough force to lift the rear tire in standing water was really quite impressive.

Michelin Road 5

Here the Michelin test rider illustrates how much stopping power is available in the wet with the Road 5.

An interesting aside about the manufacturing of the Road 5 tires and their XST Evo sipes: Because of the shape of the molds required to create the teardrop portion of the sipes, traditional machining could not be used. Instead, metal additive manufacturing, which could be seen as the metallic version of 3-D printing, was utilized. In the process, the parts are built layer-by-layer to create intricate shapes that were required for the Road 5’s siping patterns.

Finally, the tire profile of the Road 5 is slightly more aggressive than that of the Pilot Road 4. This should make the Road 5 slightly more responsive – but still with the quite neutral steering characteristics that Michelin claims is important in sport-touring tires – than the Pilot Road 4.

Michelin Road 5

Where the rubber meets the road

What would a tire introduction be without riding sessions to provide journalists with the practical experience to write knowledgeably about the tires? The Monteblanco Circuit outside Seville, Spain, was where we would get to sample the Road 5 out on the open road and in the controlled environment of the track.

The day began with 180 miles of street riding on the undulating, mostly silky-smooth tarmac of the Andalusian countryside. The rolling hills, combined with the spectacular pavement make for a motorcyclist’s Disneyland-type experience, making it – for the time I was there – the happiest place on the two-wheeled earth.

Michelin Road 5

The Road 5s’ neutral steering followed every line I asked them to.

For my street ride, I chose the Yamaha MT–07 as my mount, and as soon as we arrived at the twisties, I could tell that the Road 5s were much better than the Bridgestones on which I’d last experienced a MT–07. While turn-in was neutral, I wouldn’t call it slow. Rather, by neutral, I mean that it didn’t tend to fall into a corner the way a more aggressive profile would. Instead, as I’d experienced with the Pilot Road 4s in the past, I could dial in the right amount of lean without having the tires try to deliver more or less than I wanted. If I needed to change my line mid-corner, all I had to do was apply a little pressure to the grips. Similarly, there was absolutely no tendency to stand up under braking while leaned over, making it possible to easily trail-brake all the way to the apex if I desired.

I found the tire feedback to be very good. For example, on one section of dirty pavement, I could feel the tires begin to squirm as they coped with the lessened grip of that particular corner, giving me notice not to ask for more from them. At peg-dragging lean angles, the Road 5s were quite happy to rail through corner after corner.

Michelin Road 5

Six laps on a track that I’ve never ridden is not the way to gain valuable information about tires.

The track portion of the day was divided into dry and wet sessions. I’ll have to be honest here. In the dry session, I only had three laps each (that includes the in and out laps) on a Ducati Supersport and a BMW S1000 XR. The Monteblanco Circuit is a tight and technical track, and a mere 6 laps isn’t enough for me to fully learn my way around, much less form more than a cursory impression of the tires.

My takeaways from the track were largely from the increased intensity of acceleration and braking. Accelerating down the front straight at speeds markedly above what you’d expect to subject a sport-touring tire to endure on the street, the Ducati felt planted and rock stable, asking for more when it was time to close the throttle and begin braking. The BMW, with its softer, longer traveling suspension, shimmied and wagged its handlebar when I whacked the throttle open. Not even moving my body as far forward as possible was able to prevent this from happening. Again, I attribute this to the BMW rather than to the Michelins.

Michelin Road 5

The wet track session impressed me with how well the Road 5s cornered.

While the Road 5s were capable of handling the intensified braking of the track environment, they weren’t as happy to oblige as they were on the street, squirming a bit during the harder-braking sections on both bikes. The tire profile that made the MT–07 feel so neutral-steering on the street seemed a little slow on the track, which only serves to remind us why more track-oriented tires have a more angular front profile. While they worked fine, the track is not the place for Road 5 tires.

Michelin, if they truly wanted us to experience the tires’ cornering grip at elevated speeds, should have given us more laps to really sample them, but it might have led to highlighting more of the tires’ weaknesses in the track environment. The Road 5 tires are not track tires. They were intended to be sport-touring tires, which place an entirely different level of stress on them.

Michelin Road 5

Here, I’m beginning to release the brakes in preparation for the swerve. Look closely at the portion of the fork slider that is dry to see that I was able to generate enough braking force to get full compression of the suspension.

The wet session at the track was much more successful – eye-opening, in fact. Here we were given two intense braking maneuvers to undertake each lap, and while the number of laps for each of the bikes, this time a Triumph Street Triple RS and a Yamaha MT–10, were the same, this track session was successful in its laser focus. Although the primary exercises were braking-related, the entire track was wet, which allowed us to explore cornering grip, too.

The first braking test had us decelerating from approximately 70 mph down to about 30 mph for a corner. With each pass through this braking test, I increased my intensity. I could feel what was happening down at the contact patches enough to keep the rear brake from tripping its ABS in all but one instance. The speed with which the Road 5s could haul the bikes down from speed was impressive.

Michelin Road 5

While it doesn’t look like it in the photo, the pavement is quite wet and the turns were dynamic, as I avoided the cone wall.

The second braking test came close to simulating a maximum braking/swerve maneuver that you’d likely encounter in an urban environment. We approached the braking zone at about 55 mph and braked as hard as we could before releasing the binders and swerving around a series of cones that represented the back of a vehicle. Again, the braking feel was exemplary. The tires never protested during the dynamic steering inputs of a swerve. After the wet track session, I completely understood why the Michelin reps had spent so much time explaining how much effort the designers had put into the weather performance of the Road 5 tires.

Though I only had a single day riding the Michelin Road 5 tires, I came away impressed with how well they performed on the street. The Road 5s reminded me quite a bit of their precursors, the Michelin Pilot Road 4s (which, by-the-way, are still available). So, if you’re a fan of the 4s you might want to give the Road 5s a try to see if you like them better. Michelin even says that the Road 5s will offer durability that is slightly better than that of the Pilot Road 4s. However, in the wet, the Road 5s really surprised me. Riders who live in locations where rain is a regular part of their riding experience owe it to themselves to take a good, long look at the Michelin Road 5s the next time they’re shopping for sport-touring tires – or even their everyday tires, for that matter.

The Michelin Road 5 tires are available in dealerships, now. As with the Pilot Road 4s, there are two other variants of the Road 5. The Michelin Road 5 GT is specifically designed for heavier bikes like the BMW R 1200 RT and the Kawasaki 1400 GTR. The GTs will be available in 2019. The Michelin Road 5 Trail for adventure motorcycles will be available later this year.

Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5 Michelin Road 5

MO Tested: Michelin Road 5 Tire Review appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

8 Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

February 16, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

Riding a motorcycle is a challenging activity. For many of us, that is part of the attraction. However, the steepness of the learning curve can be daunting to new riders – or even returning riders who want to freshen-up their skills. While we’re always going to suggest that beginning and returning riders take a motorcycle safety course, there are many skills that riders can practice on their own to make their ride safer and more enjoyable.

The list below features skills that we, as experienced riders, feel are essential to proficient motorcycle riding. You’ll notice how we start with the most basic of basic skills and move on to more advanced ones. Since mastery of the techniques required to operate a motorcycle is a cumulative process, don’t skip over the first few items because they sound so simple. They’re not. Self-aware riders will admit that every ride involves a bit of polishing of each of these techniques as they are encountered.

We MOrons feel that riding motorcycles is a life-long learning process. That’s why we keep attending track schools to sharpen our skills. Read on to find out where your interests lie.

Clutch Control

How many times have you seen a rider lurch away from a start? Was it the lack of an important skill or just inattention? Only they can answer that question, but without mastery of the clutch release, riding will be much more difficult than it needs to be. The building block of all clutch skills is the concept of the friction zone, the section of the clutch lever travel where the clutch transitions from being disengaged to being engaged. Manipulating the friction zone will not only deliver smooth starts, but also enable easy low-speed maneuvers (like U-turns).

New Rider: What Is The Friction Zone?

Throttle Control

Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

We’ve all seen those hilarious YouTube videos where a first-time rider is put on a bike and proceeds to dump the clutch, ending up flying across a parking lot and crashing into something. Yucks all around. However, those videos illustrate two major mistakes on the part of the person teaching the newbie how to ride. The first was not teaching about the friction zone as mentioned above. The second, the one that leads to all the disaster, was not making sure that the new rider had their throttle hand in the wrist-down position. With the wrist in the up position, an abrupt throttle input can lead to what is known as whiskey throttle, a situation where the rider is pitched backwards by an inadvertent throttle input, causing their wrist to crank on even more throttle. The wrist-down position also forces the rider to close the throttle completely when reaching for the front brake lever.

All of this must be considered before any actual riding of a motorcycle occurs. The real throttle skills are delivering smooth inputs for acceleration, rolling on the throttle through a turn, and matching engine speed on a downshift. If any of these sound alien to you, get thee to a motorcycle safety class!

Basic Braking Skills

Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

Poor braking skills are ranked very high in motorcycle accident statistics. In a braking-induced crash, the rider’s technique was typically characterized by underutilizing the front brake and overusing the rear – often to the point of lockup. The other common scenario is the rider who grabs an abrupt handful and locks the front brake. Although the inclusion of ABS in most newer motorcycles has taken the fear of locking the front brake away from many riders (and prevents the locking of the rear!), many riders don’t have a firm grasp of the dynamics involved in motorcycle braking.

Since motorcycles have a relatively high center of gravity, as the rider brakes, the bike’s center-of-gravity (CG) shifts forward, pressing the front tire into the pavement and making more braking power available. So, a skilled rider is building pressure throughout a hard braking maneuver. If a rider tries to immediately apply maximum braking power to the front brake before the weight has shifted, the wheel will lock and skid – or the ABS will trigger.

Meanwhile, out back, the rear brake’s ability to help slow the motorcycle is diminishing as the CG moves forward. To complicate matters, the type of bike also affects the amount of rear braking power available to the rider. Adventure bikes, sportbikes, and standards have higher CG leading to lower rear braking power, while cruisers and touring bikes, which carry more weight on the rear of the motorcycle, have more rear traction available when braking.

If any of this is news to you, go take a motorcycle safety course.

Knowing How to Brake Saves (the most) Lives


Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

Countersteering is how we make motorcycles turn. The long and short of countersteering is that you turn the handlebar in the opposite direction of the way you want to turn. Want to go right? Turn the handlebar to the left. This counterintuitive turning process illustrates why it is so important to learn countersteering. Simply put, riders who don’t completely grasp countersteering – down to the muscle-memory level – have been shown in accident studies to actually turn their motorcycles towards the very thing they are trying to avoid hitting.

Every turn, every crash avoidance maneuver is built, at least in part, on countersteering. Swerving around an object in the road? Countersteering to change course followed by a pause to clear the object and completed with a second countersteer in the opposite direction to return to the direction of travel.

If you have any doubts about countersteering, please take a motorcycle safety course.

Smooth Downshifting

Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

Remember a few items ago when we were considering throttle and clutch control? Well, now we’re going to combine them. Imagine that you’re entering a corner and that, in order to have your engine in the correct rpm range, you need to downshift. The last thing you want to do at the corner entry is upset the chassis with a botched shift!

The secret to a smooth downshift is maddeningly simple. All you have to do is exactly match the increase in engine speed required by the lower gear. In reality, it’s not so simple. That’s why the clutch release is so important. Dump the clutch with mismatched rpm and the chassis bobbles. Or worse, the rear tire can skip. A tactful clutch release smooths over those differences in engine speed.

Motorcycle Downshifting Techniques

Practice, practice, practice!

Situational Awareness

Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

News flash: Motorcycles are more vulnerable that most other vehicles on the road. Additionally, because of their small size, they are virtually invisible to other road users. Even if we aren’t invisible, we need to ride as if we are. The consequences of a crash are too great.

Situational awareness means the rider is constantly scanning the road ahead, looking for potential hazards. Those dangers can be other road users, objects/animals/people that could enter the roadway unexpectedly, and the road itself. Riding a motorcycle requires constant vigilance. However, once a potential risk is identified, the process continues with anticipating what could happen and preparing a plan of action for how to avoid the risk. However, you’re not done there. You’re still scanning further ahead and repeating the process! Over and over and over.

Line Selection

Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

When most riders think of line selection, they think of choosing the best path through a corner or a series of turns. However, there’s more to line selection than that. There are many kinds of lines through corners, and they each have their place in your riding tool kit. Perhaps the most familiar is the classic racing line which starts out wide at the entrance, cuts in tight at the corner’s apex, and drifts wide again at the exit. This is fine for a constant-radius corner, but how many turns are that simple?

Late apexing a corner holds the bike wide through the bulk of the corner, only slicing in towards the apex at the end of the turn. This technique is particularly helpful in decreasing-radius corners. Finally, early-apexing corners is often considered to be a mistake because it sends the rider wider at the exit of a corner where they could potentially run out of lane. However, this line has its place in a corner that starts off as one type of turn, widens slightly in the middle, and then returns to the previous radius. In this case, the rider double-apexes the corner by early-apexing the initial radius, drifting wide, and then diving in for a late apex at the end of the corner.

Still, choosing the right line isn’t all about cornering. Your line both in corners and in the straight up and down also includes your path around problems, like potholes, painted lines, or manhole covers, you may encounter along your ride.

If any of this theory interests you, a track riding school should be in your future.

How To Negotiate Decreasing-Radius Corners

Advanced Braking Techniques

Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills

When you first took a motorcycle safety class as a new rider, you were probably instructed to wrap all four fingers around the throttle and only apply the front brake with all four fingers when the throttle was closed. This is totally correct for a new rider in a parking lot, learning how to control the throttle and brake. You learn correct technique by separating the application of throttle from braking – to make the process less complicated and make sure you become proficient at it. However, once you’ve been out on the road for a while, you notice how difficult it is to cover the front brake with all four fingers when your situational awareness says you may need your brakes soon. At this point in the learning curve, many riders naturally start to cover the front brake with two fingers. This allows them to shorten their reaction time should the need for maximum braking arises.

Shortening reaction time isn’t the only benefit of having two fingers always on the brake lever. Advanced braking techniques include applying the brake as you roll off the throttle. You can also blip the throttle for downshifts while maintaining consistent brake pressure – though it takes a lot of practice. This also makes it possible for you to trail the brakes all the way to the apex of a corner to assist in getting your bike to turn in quickly thanks to the compressed fork and enlarged front contact patch.

Advanced braking doesn’t just take place on the front brake either. Many riders modulate their bike’s acceleration out of a corner with the rear brake. A street-riding example would be when accelerating after a corner’s apex and having the corner go on longer than expected. Rather than rolling off the throttle and possibly unsettling the chassis, hold the throttle constant and use the rear brake to attenuate the speed slightly.

For riders who find the intricacies of braking fascinating, go take some track schools. You’ll be glad you did.

8 Essential Motorcycle Riding Skills appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

MO Tested: Spot Gen3 Rental Review

February 15, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

Way back in 2015, we tested the Spot Gen3 satellite tracking device on our Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure, and we came away impressed with its ease of use. Although we never had to initiate any of the emergency functions, we were happy to know that if things did go sideways, we’d have a way to summon help to our location – even if we were out of cell phone range. So, as I hatched my plan to ride the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour from Austin, TX home to Los Angeles, CA, my ever tolerant (and long-suffering) wife asked if there would be any way to track me when I was in the remote areas of my trip in case something went wrong. I told her I had just the thing.

MO Tested: SPOT Gen3

In our previous test of the Spot Gen3, the only real negative we could find in the device was its that its annual pricing was a little steep, making it less desirable for people who aren’t regular adventurers. Well, in the time that has passed since our initial review, the smart folks at Spot have started renting their devices. The pricing starts at $75 which covers a 1–3 day rental. Each additional day is $15. Spot guarantees that your device will arrive at least two days before your scheduled departure which should give you plenty of time to set up your online account and messages/recipients. When you successfully complete your trip, all you have to do is place the Spot back in the box it arrived in, seal it closed, and attach the pre-printed return shipping label. If you fail to return the Spot in seven days, you will be charged the $150 replacement cost of the device.

Spot Gen3 Rental

What could be easier than filling out a form?

Renting the Spot was dead simple. I followed the rental link from the Spot website. From there, I set up an account and went through the process of reserving the dates and providing the contact and payment information necessary. It’s as straightforward as ordering anything online is. Within minutes, I’d reserved a Spot Gen3 for four days ($75 for three days, plus $15 additional day). Shipping was an additional $15. So, for $105, I had a Spot ready for use on the days I planned to travel. Easy-peasy.

True to the company’s word, the Spot showed up two days before my departure. Once I picked up the Gold Wing, I discovered that the Spot didn’t like being mounted inside a bag, so I slipped it in my jacket’s breast pocket and forgot about it until it was time to shut it off for the night.

Spot Gen3 Rental

Previous trips are saved to your Spot account and can be found by searching for travel dates. The boot print marks where I triggered the start of each day’s ride.

Overall, I’d say that the price for what the Spot Gen3 rental was worth the peace of mind that it offered my wife. If you take more than one trip a year in which you’d like to use the Spot, then it might be worth purchasing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spot rentals are a very successful sales tool.

MO Tested: Spot Gen3 Rental Review appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour Review

February 9, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour

Editor Score: 91.0%
Engine 19.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 10/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 9.0/10
Value 8.0/10
Overall Score91/100

The MO journey to bring you this review of the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour has turned into the story of two very different trips gone awry for two very different reasons. However, despite the hiccups along the way, we end up with a comprehensive look at Honda’s touring flagship under a variety of riding conditions, and despite the frustrations of our respective challenges, our impressions of the Gold Wing Tour stand out as remarkably positive.

First Look: 2018 Honda Gold Wing And Gold Wing Tour

Top 10 Facts About The 2018 Honda Gold Wing

We’ll start with the experience of Sean Alexander and his wife Natalie at Honda’s press introduction for the Wing:

“As the motorcycle press packed their bags in preparation for the new 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour first rides in Austin, Texas, a sub-freezing blast of arctic air and ice bore down on American Honda’s PR and Marketing crew. The fact that the last rideable weather was now forecast to be the first day of a multi-day press ride must have created quite a dilemma for our hosts in Austin: ‘Do we cancel the Gold Wing press ride?’ or ‘Do we modify the route to shorten it into a single day and miss all of the best and most entertaining roads on the far end?

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“Lee Edmunds and his team at American Honda played the hand Mother Nature dealt them, going all-in on the strengths of the new 2018 Gold Wing’s comfort and wow factors to carry the day over a truncated route through mostly flat and straight roads that were bordered by brown fields, power lines, and giant church radio antennas. We spoiled motojournalists like to test motorcycles on twisty in hilly country with amazing scenery, so Honda’s polar storm hail-Mary could have resulted in disaster for them.

“But it didn’t. The new 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour lives up to the hype. Its unconventional new front suspension proved to be properly impressive, while its two-up comfort made for happy couples on the ride. Since many Gold Wings owners spend much of their riding time two-up, Honda encouraged attending journalists to bring their spouse or significant other along for this press intro, and many did. From the conversations around the dinner tables, both the riders and their passengers came away impressed from what could have been a long, boring ride where the participants spent their time cataloging their complaints about the motorcycle.”

Getting in the ride before the ice storm.

We’ll leave Sean and Natalie at the dinner table and move on to our second Gold Wing ride: Evans Brasfield’s.

From the moment that Honda allowed us a first look at the all-new Gold Wings, I knew that I wanted to attend the introduction – and then ride the bike back from Austin to Los Angeles. On top of that, I wouldn’t just make an interstate bomber run, I would take the bike all over the Southwest with a final goal of logging 2,000 miles, which would allow me to really get to know the Wing in a way that can’t be accomplished on a two-day introductory ride. The only problem was that a bike wouldn’t be available to ride away for a couple weeks after Honda’s media introduction. So, Sean and Natalie attended the press ride, and I redirected my efforts towards just riding the Wing back solo after Honda had finished the slew of introductions for media, dealers, and technicians.

Riding The 2018 Honda Gold Wing On The Nuclear Tourist Tour

Ambitious, yes, but what better way to test the Gold Wing Tour’s long distance capabilities.

The plan for my tour looked doable on paper, but the trip began to unravel quickly when real life intervened. My first 600-mile day went as planned, and the Gold Wing Tour proved to be an ideal companion for gobbling up the miles in conditions that ranged from 65° F down to a low of 23° F as I rolled into Santa Rosa, NM. Since I’ve already written about the events of my ride at the link above, I’ll sum up my trip’s experience by stating that I became progressively sicker with the flu and ultimately cut my route short with a 600-mile final day with a 102° fever. Although my trip was abbreviated, I still managed 1,900 miles over four days and have tons to say about how well the Gold Wing Tour worked.

The beginning of my tour when everything was shiny and full of promise.

What follows is a combination of my and Sean’s impressions from our two very different rides on the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour.

Engine Performance

I’m not going to spend a lot of time going over in detail all the new features of the Gold Wing. I covered that in my “First Look: 2018 Honda Gold Wing And Gold Wing Tour.” Consider that article to be the theory of the new Wing and this to be the practical application. And where better to start than a look at the heart of the beast.

More powerful and efficient, compact, lighter (with the manual transmission), the new flat-Six is everything we loved about the old engine – and more.

The Gold Wing’s 1,833cc SOHC flat-Six is a completely new mill which shares nothing with the previous generation. The design goals were simple: increase both power and efficiency, plus make the engine shorter to allow it to be located further forward in the frame. To enable the more compact size, the cylinder bore was dropped 1mm to yield a perfectly square bore and stroke of 73mm x 73mm, and the distance between bore-centers was shrunk by 9mm. Additionally, the cylinder offset from the left and right cylinder banks was reduced by 4mm. The result is a more powerful engine that is 29mm shorter front-to-back and 13.7 pounds lighter (in 6-speed manual configuration, which is the only way to directly compare the new engine to the previous generation).

The Gold Wing’s engine retains the characteristic otherworldly smoothness of the previous generation. However, the torque delivery feels more pronounced in the bottom end, and once the engine hits the mid-range, it feels significantly more energetic. Throttle response from the ride-by-wire single throttle body is responsive – and lurch-free – at all engine speeds. Changing the ride mode from Tour to Sport brightens the throttle response a tad, but it’s hard to tell since the biggest change between the two modes is how the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) operates.

The Gold Wing’s DCT really shined when touring out on the open road.

With its latest iteration of the DCT, Honda has hit the ball out of the park when it comes to touring. After a brief period of acclimatization to the way it operates, I found myself quite happy to let the engine do all the shifts for me in the vast majority of riding situations. When you consider that my trip included two 600-mile days, that’s a lot of work that the DCT saved me, and I’m certain I was fresher at the end of the day than I would’ve been otherwise. When approaching corners that I wanted to choose what gear to downshift to, I merely had to hit a paddle with my left thumb. The DCT would upshift back to top gear after I stopped rolling on the throttle. When you’re not in fully manual mode, the trick to keeping the transmission in the gear you want is to keep ramping up the throttle throughout the whole corner. Pause, even for a moment, and the transmission upshifts. This isn’t a big deal, but it does soften the acceleration out of the corner – and you know how we MOrons like to accelerate!

Sean hasn’t always been a fan of Honda’s DCT. He definitely likes to be in control of things. (And I mean that in the nicest of ways, Sean.) So, I was quite surprised when he said, “I think it would be a coin flip as to whether I got the DCT or the traditional manual transmission.” In fact, his notes about the manual transmission were mostly on the negative side, citing a long lever throw and a lack of clutch feel.

Sean also had comments about the engine at touring speeds: “There is a definite, persistent (though not obnoxious) exhaust drone from around 2,100 rpm through about 3,000 rpm when maintaining a constant speed. That works out to about 60-80 mph in 7th gear on a DCT Gold Wing. Honda was trying for a more sporty tone with new 2018 Gold Wing exhaust, but I think they may have overshot their target by a bit. A decibel or two lower with a bit less ear-pressure might have made the drone all but unnoticeable.”

Sporty exhaust note or drone? You decide.

I, too, noticed the drone (as Sean described it) but was completely unbothered by it. Since I ride almost exclusively with earplugs and was aware of Sean’s feelings about it, I took a stint on my ride without them and listened for the drone. Yes, I noticed the tone that Sean was referring to, but I didn’t find it objectionable. Instead, I found the new exhaust note to be pleasantly sporty but not so loud that it intruded in my riding enjoyment. (Also, my earplugs almost completely mask the drone, making it a non-issue when I was wearing them.) Perhaps he is more sensitive in those sound frequencies than I am. Regardless, I think this exhaust tone falls in the realm of personal tastes.

The new Gold Wing’s 5.5-gallon tank has created a bit of controversy, as the previous Wing carried a gallon more fuel. Over the course of my 1,900 miles, I averaged 39.5 mpg (Low: 37.3 mpg, High: 42.1 mpg), yielding a mathematical range of 217 miles. I’m sure some Iron Butt Association riders and other long-distance touring aficionados will bemoan the “short” range, but frankly, I’m ready to stop and stretch my legs after 200 miles of uninterrupted seat time. However, on two instances during my trip, I found myself with the Range display on the dash reading a blank as I rolled into town with over 200 miles on the trip meter. My lengthiest stint had me put 5.434 gallons in the tank after traveling 210 miles. Clearly, I cut it a bit close. Still, place me in the group who isn’t too worried about the bike’s range.

Suspension and Handling

In the list of upgrades announced on the 2018 Gold Wing, the one that garnered the most curiosity was the new front suspension. Let me put my thoughts into highly technical terms: The Gold Wing’s double-wishbone front suspension is pretty freaking cool! My first impression of the design is that it feels almost exactly the same as a motorcycle with a traditional telescopic fork. Well, until you hit a bump or grab a handful of front brake. Although I hit some pretty big bumps on my ride, the force transmitted to the grips was remarkably muted, but more on that in a minute.

Look closely and you’ll see how tightly placed the front wheel is to the engine. That’s because the double-wishbone fork tracks straight up and down over bumps.

My initial concern when reading about the double-wishbone suspension was that I’d feel isolated from what the front suspension was doing since the link between the handlebar and the actual steering head was a pair of tie-rods. That simply isn’t the case in the vast majority of the riding I did on the Wing. Yes, when cranked over in a corner at peg-dragging speeds, I didn’t feel as connected to the front tire as I would on a sportbike, but the reality is that I don’t need to. This is a touring bike, and I’m not pushing the tires to their limits at those speeds and lean angles.

I think it’s time to let Sean gush a little bit about the suspension because it obviously got his attention: “To me, it’s clear that the front suspension and the overall composure of the suspension and linked braking system are the real stars of the dynamics show.

“Specifically, the layout of the new suspension allows the rider to see the tops of the ball joints at the outboard end of the steering tie-rods… that’s the end connected directly to the non-telescoping front fork which is raked all the way out to a 30-degree angle. A byproduct of the suspension’s layout is that the rider can actually see the travel of the front axle through two openings located just ahead of the handlebars. My eyes tell me there is a lot going on down there, but none of it is impacting my hands! Huge bump! I watch the ball joints jump, I swear about six inches in a tenth of a second, and I don’t feel a thing! It’s uncanny watching the suspension do its job on a rough road, two-up at 70 mph, while the steering and bars do precisely not a damned thing. The refinement is almost spooky.

“But it isn’t black magic; that fixed 30-degree fork, the outboard ends of the A-arms and those outboard steering ball joints all operate, literally, on a different plane from the steering head and handlebars. The only thing the bars feel are the steering forces delivered through another set of ball joints on the inboard ends of the tie-rods. All suspension duties are handled by the A-arms, front spring and front damper, which are connected independently from those steering tie-rods. It really works and it puts on a cool visual show while doing it.”

The Gold Wing’s linked brakes are powered by a pair of radial mount six-piston calipers and 320mm discs. Their stopping power, coupled with the fork’s lack of dive, makes for impressive stops from this big motorcycle.

How the front suspension soaks up the bumps is only part of the story, though. The first time you get into a hard-braking situation on the Gold Wing is an educational experience. Yes, the 80-pound reduction in weight plays its part in the new Wing’s braking capability, but the radially mounted six-piston front brake calipers and their 320mm rotors offer an amazing amount of bite, followed by controllable power. The kicker is that the front end has minimal dive under hard braking, so the chassis doesn’t pitch at all, taking a lot of drama out of quick stops. The linked braking balances the system quite well, and despite some full-tilt braking maneuvers, I never triggered the ABS. The DCT also plays a role in braking by downshifting and dragging the clutch as it works its way through the gears. When attacking a winding road, this is quite fun. Around town at much lower braking intensities, it required a little adjustment in technique.

Sean again: “Even two-up with loaded luggage and an extra-heavy rider, the new Gold Wing simply stops, or sheds speed in the most undramatic but effective fashion I’ve ever experienced on a big streetbike.

“Natalie and I were meeting our new Video Producer, Sean Matic, along our route to try to get as much video as we could before the bad weather rolled in. Since I had used the bike’s intercom and phone integration capabilities to stay in contact with him during the ride, I knew he was already on the side of the road somewhere up ahead. As Natalie and I flashed past at about 70 mph, I distracted myself by turning to wave at him as we passed. When I then turned back, I realized we were charging into a 15-mph 90-degree left, at 70 mph – with my left hand still hanging in the air. BIG handful of front brake, the Gold Wing subtly hunkered down and then just plain SLOWED. We made the corner without any extra drama, trail-braking down to about 30 mph at the apex before accelerating away as if nothing happened. It’s feats like this that can make you really respect a bike. I sure do respect the heck out of the Gold Wing now.”

I want to call the Gold Wing’s handling nimble, but my coworkers would quickly point out a whole raft of motorcycles – mostly of the sporting variety – that are actually nimble. So, I’ll temper my comments by saying that it is very nimble for a motorcycle claimed to weigh 833 lbs. While hustling through the twisties on Highway 78 from New Mexico into Arizona, I never forgot that I was riding a big, heavy touring motorcycle. Instead, I marveled at what this big, heavy touring motorcycle was capable of doing up to about a 7/10ths sport-touring pace. In the right hands, a Gold Wing will surprise some unsuspecting riders out on the local Sunday ride.

However, there are some limitations as to how far you can push physics, and the Wing did require a little tweaking to transition from touring mode to canyon carver. Yes, changing the ride mode from Touring to Sport does stiffen up the suspension, but it still was on the soft side for the type of hustling I was doing along Highway 78. Changing the base settings from Rider with Luggage to Two Riders with Luggage improved things. Single mid-corner bumps were absorbed, but a series of rolling bumps in a sweeper could upset the chassis and require slowing down a bit. However, I see this as less of a criticism of the suspension than a note about how far out of the typical touring scenario the Gold Wing is capable of flying.

Touring Amenities

Creature comfort is one of the defining features of a full-dress touring motorcycle, and the Gold Wing has no shortage of them. I’ll start with the controversial (well, at least in the comments in my first look article) smaller fairing and windshield. My travels took me through temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the low-20s, and I feel that the Gold Wing’s aerodynamics were top-notch.

The Gold Wing Tour’s seats received praise from both riders and passengers.

If you think the Walking Mode is just for backing the Gold Wing Tour into a parking space, try making a U-turn on a narrow, sandy road without it! The electrically-adjustable windshield (hooray!) did a good job of offering breeze when I wanted it and protection when I needed it. While some of the credit for my comfort goes to the heated seat and grips plus my Spidi 4Season suit and Aerostich Kanetsu Airvantage Electric Vest, the pocket of still air made it possible for me to ride for extended periods in some seriously cold weather. (I took perverse pleasure in passing cars carrying bundled-up people down highways with snow on either side.) I mostly kept the windshield a few inches from its highest position. The airflow over my helmet was quiet, and the back pressure I felt in the highest position was minimized. (Note: Sean felt absolutely no back pressure with the windshield fully extended with a passenger.) When the temperatures rose, I lowered the screen until I found the right balance of cooling wind and helmet noise. I never encountered any helmet-jostling turbulence, but at its lowest position, the windshield did deliver a low-frequency rumble at the base of my helmet that might grow tiring over a long day.

The riding position is perfect for touring. The neutrally placed pegs are only slightly forward in a natural seating position, and the seat-to-peg distance is ideal for my 32-inch inseam. My torso was in a comfortable, all-day upright position. The seat is wide, flat, and properly padded. My butt was remarkably pain-free at the end of both my 600-mile days days. Sean’s notes concurred with mine: “Both of us were fresh and ready for another full day in the saddle when we arrived at the hotel.”

If you think the Walking Mode is just for backing the Gold Wing Tour into a parking space, try making a U-turn on a narrow, sandy road without it!

With a reasonable 29.3-inch seat height, one would think that the reach to the ground would be easy, but the width of the saddle extends the relative reach. I have fairly long legs, and I have to stretch to flat foot on both sides of the Wing. Fortunately for shorter riders, Honda included Walking Mode on the DCT models for maneuvering the Wing at low speeds. It works exactly as you would expect in assisting the rider in moving both forward and reverse at a walking pace with the press of a couple buttons. What I didn’t expect was how useful it is at saving me from dumb things that I do – like needing to turn around an 800-pound motorcycle on a narrow road that suddenly changed from hard-packed dirt to sand. I found myself in just such a predicament when photographing the Gold Wing with windmills in the background. Without Walking Mode to help me make a multi-point turn in the sand, I’d have ended up hiking a mile or so out to the highway to look for help. (With the double-wishbone front suspension, I couldn’t bounce the bike backwards like I typically would with a telescopic fork.)

The other controversy on the 2018 Gold Wing Tour is the reduction of luggage capacity compared to the previous generation. For a quick reminder, the 2017 Wing was capable of carrying a total of 150 liters of cargo in its saddlebags and trunk. The 2018 Gold Wing Tour can only carry 73% as much stuff, 110 liters in total – 30 liters in each saddlebag and 50 liters in the trunk. While MO generally subscribes to the “more is more” philosophy, I’ll admit that the volume of last year’s luggage would look out of proportion on the Wing’s new, slimmer lines. So, how is the new capacity to live with while out on the road?

Although smaller than the saddlebags on the previous generation Gold Wing, the storage space seems reasonable, to me. However, bag liners will be a necessity.

For me, the issue with the bags is less about their capacity and more about the requirements of all side-opening saddlebags. Simply put, if the manufacturer doesn’t include some kind of cargo net in the bags, stuff falls out when they are opened. For day-hopping this isn’t an issue because you probably aren’t carrying that much, but for an extended ride, accessory bag liners are required – or you risk having your t-shirts and undies fall out every time you open the door. Since Honda’s liners weren’t available in time for my tour, I had to get along with using zip-locking plastic bags. I think everyone who owns one of the new Gold Wings will end up buying the accessory liners at some point.

In the trunk, I did feel the pinch of the smaller capacity. My camera bag, which has fit in every other trunk that I’ve tried on touring bikes, was an extremely tight fit. In fact, I had to take some of its contents out and pack them on either side of the camera bag in the trunk to get everything inside. For a more universal measurement, I was able to fit my XL Shoei RF-1200 and a S Shoei RF-700 into the trunk without issue. However, nothing bigger than a small would fit alongside my XL helmet. Big-headed couples caveat emptor.

They are snug, but a S and XL helmet can fit in the trunk.

The only other quibble I have about the bags is their persnicketiness about where you press them to close. Both the trunk and the saddlebags have two latches that must completely lock or you’ll get a helpful reminder flashing on the dash. When the bags are empty, pressing from the exact center between the latches usually remedies the issue. If the bags are full, you may have to adjust where you press to get the lids to seat completely. On the positive side, the soft-touch buttons used to open the bags exude quality that I appreciated every time I pressed them.

The infotainment system that Honda designed for the Gold Wing is a tour de force befitting a flagship model. The centerpiece is the 7-inch TFT display screen set between an analog speedometer and tachometer. Two smaller LCD displays at the left and right edges of the dash display other essential information. The layout is thoughtful and easy-to-read with a quick glance. In a break from many of the screens seen in other touring models, the Wing’s screen is not touch-enabled. When at a stop, a handy center-mounted joystick controls the menus. At speed, an array of buttons on the left grip handles the tasks.

The dash is well laid out and is an ideal tool for navigating the information a rider needs out on the road.

Out on the open road, the two screens I spent the most time on were the integrated GPS and Apple CarPlay. I did occasionally dip in to the SiriusXM screen to change stations, but after that, I’d usually go back to the GPS. The Gold Wing’s GPS is the best motorcycle GPS I’ve had the pleasure of sampling. The wide screen offers plenty of room for the map and the list of upcoming turns. When a turn is approaching, a secondary map with higher resolution replaces the turn list on the right side of the screen, simplifying the act of getting through complicated intersections in unfamiliar locations. The GPS can also import files from the USB input, making it possible to follow complicated routes. For daily use, however, I’d probably find myself using CarPlay and Apple Maps.

According to Sean, the dash-mounted speakers and those in the trunk are plenty loud, and they’re clear enough to listen to talk radio at highway speeds. I chose to use my Sena 30K and earbuds as my music source, and the infotainment system was happy to oblige. (Also, in order to use CarPlay, a headset must be paired and the iPhone must be plugged into the USB port.)

My only issue with the infotainment system involves the CarPlay integration. When I initiate a call through Apple CarPlay – usually via Siri – I can’t switch away from the phone screen and back to the GPS display until the call is over. Hitting the Home button does take me to that screen, but the controls are locked while on a call, effectively making CarPlay and the phone screen my only choice. However, if I’m using Apple Maps inside of CarPlay, I can easily switch to that screen while talking on the phone. So, I suspect the GPS issue might be due to a CarPlay limitation.

The End of the Tour

My time with the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour was both enlightening and frustrating. The frustration comes from getting extremely sick and not really being able to really enjoy my days on the open road more fully. That said, I don’t think I could have chosen a better mount for my extended ride.

Day 3: Somewhere off of Highway 78 in New Mexico.

The Gold Wing Tour has the cross-country chops to inhale the mileage on the highway or meander your way down the most scenic of winding roads. The new engine has improved power in the places that a touring mount should, and the DCT relegates the old-fashioned standard transmission into also-ran status for touring duty. Honda’s weight-loss program pays dividends in every performance category, but the double-wishbone suspension wins the day when it comes to the bike’s dynamic improvements.

The 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour DCT starts at $27,700 and is available for test rides at Honda dealerships.

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour Review

2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour Review appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Triumph Announces 2018 Speed Triple S And RS

February 5, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

In the last couple of weeks, MO has covered hints surrounding the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple S and RS no less than three times. While we were able to pull a few smidgens of information about the new models from CARB filings and teaser videos, the time is finally at hand. Triumph has officially released the specifications for the new Speed Triples – and they should make the bikes’ fans happy.

2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS Confirmed In CARB Filings

New Triumph Speed Triple Teased For Jan. 29

Fogarty VS Johnson On The New Triumph Speed Triple RS

First, the engine has been revamped. While the displacement remains at 1050 cc, this “major redevelopment” of the Triple accounts for no less than 105 new engine parts. With an emphasis on increased performance and lighter weight, the engine received a new, lighter crank gear. The Nikasil-plated aluminum cylinder liners are also lighter and contain new profile pistons that squeeze the fuel charge into higher compression ratio combustion chambers. The head itself has seen its exhaust ports optimized for improved gas flow. Additionally, a new freer-flowing exhaust, larger catalyst and lighter header system also aim to improve gas flow and thus bump performance in both the S and RS models. Finally – and significantly – the engine’s rev-limit has been increased by 1,000 rpm, yes!

2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS

The Speed Triple RS gets sporty Arrow exhaust canisters.

According to Triumph, horsepower increased 7% to 148 hp (at the crank). Torque increased by 4% to a claimed 86 lb-ft. (Based on our previous dyno testing of the Speed Triple, we expect these numbers to translate to roughly 132 hp and 79 lb-ft at the rear wheel.)

Outside of the combustion chambers, other changes are aimed at increasing efficiency and redistributing weight. For example, a new sump places the oil lower in the engine for a lower CG while also reducing the lubricant’s parasitic drag by moving it further away from the spinning parts. The oil-flow through the cylinder head has been rerouted, which enabled the removal of external oil pipes for a cleaner look and reduced mass.

The transmission has been improved as has the slip-assist clutch for easier operation and to help avoid chatter during high-rpm downshifts. On the other end of the crankshaft from the clutch, a lighter alternator has taken up residence as one of the weight-saving features. More grams were shaved through the use of a smaller starter motor and lighter battery.

2018 Triumph Speed Triple

TFT instrumentation makes its way to the Speed Triple with a different layout for each ride mode.

Electronics were also massaged for 2018. While the Ride Modes aren’t new, the angle adjustable full-color 5-inch TFT screen you set them on is. Naturally, each ride mode receives its own on-screen information layout. Controlling all this informational technology is all-new switchgear which is LED backlit for ease-of-use in both daylight and darkness. The RS also gains keyless ignition and a special lock/unlock button on the switchgear, enabling the rider to keep the electronic “fob” in their pocket at all times. In a move that’s sure to tickle and delight our inner John Burns, both models receive standard cruise control for 2018.

However, the real electronic wizardry takes place on the RS model. Thanks to an inertial measurement unit (IMU) that was developed in conjunction with Continental, cornering ABS and traction control make their way to the Street Triple. By tracking the constant changes of roll, pitch, yaw, lean angle and acceleration rates, the system can deliver the appropriate safety response when necessary. Also, as standard fitment on the RS in the US market only, Triumph Shift Assist allows for clutch-free up- and down-shifts “while maintaining the accelerator position.” Color us excited!

2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS

The Öhlins fork points to this being an RS model, but all Speed Triples receive Brembo 4-piston 2-pad M4.34 radial Monobloc calipers. Note the slick shoulders on the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa front tire…. ya think Triumph is trying to tell us something?

When it comes time to apply some whoa to the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires both Speed Triples utilize 320mm rotors and Brembo four-piston two-pad M4.34 radial Monobloc calipers. The RS also sports matching Brembo adjustable brake and clutch levers. The RS’ premium trim also gains a carbon fiber front fender and radiator cowls. A color-matched belly pan and passenger seat cover are also standard on the RS, as is the matte aluminum subframe.

Suspension-wise, the Speed Triple S utilizes a fully-adjustable 43mm Showa upside-down fork and a monoshock rear suspension also by Showa. Fans of the Speed Triple RS probably already have a good idea what keeps its tires in contact with the road: a 43mm Öhlins NIX30 upside-down fork and an Öhlins TTX36 twin tube rear shock – both fully adjustable.

According to Triumph, all of these details combine to make the new 2018 S and RS the lightest, most powerful, and best handling Speed Triples to ever wear the name. The rest of us mere mortals will have to wait until they are available. Prices have not been set as of press time, but the color options have. The Speed Triple S will be either Jet Black or Crystal White, both with a titanium rear subframe, graphite wheel pinstripes, silver seat stitching and graphite decals. The Speed Triple RS will sport Crystal White or Matte Jet Black, both with a matte aluminum rear subframe, red wheel pinstripes, red seat stitching, and more premium RS decals.

2018 Triumph Speed Triple rs 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS 2018 Triumph Speed Triple

Triumph Announces 2018 Speed Triple S And RS appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

The Nuclear Tourist: Day 4

January 29, 2018 Evans Brasfield 0

There’s something about waking up face down in a strange motel room in yesterday’s clothes that gives one pause. Or at least it should. No, I hadn’t been on a bender the night before, but after 11 hours of unconsciousness, I could no longer deny how sick I was. I had to accept that my (overly?) ambitious route for this extended Honda Gold Wing Tour ride was simply not going to happen. Still, I was determined to visit the Titan Missile Museum as part of my newly shortened trip home.

Riding the 2018 Honda Gold Wing On The Nuclear Tourist Tour
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 1
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 2
The Nuclear Tourist Tour: Day 3

If I’d taken the tour, I’d have seen a control room that looks something like this. Photo by Manuela Durson/Shutterstock.com

The only drug store in Wilcox, AZ, has a motorcyclist as its pharmacist, and he set me up with the right over-the-counter meds to prevent me from coughing up a lung while not getting drowsy in the process. When I arrived at the museum 90 minutes later, I felt a little better, but I was by no means a picture of health. Still, when I looked at the group of mostly retired military types waiting to take the silo tour, I knew that I couldn’t force them to spend an hour in the enclosed space of the facility with me and my flu. The tour would have to wait for another time.

The Titan Missile Museum is the only remaining Titan missile silo. All others were destroyed in a manner that could be verified by satellite from Russia. Photo by Manuela Durson/Shutterstock.com

For the long slog home, I decided that I would spend the day using CarPlay and Apple Maps. I wanted to see how well Honda had adapted Apple’s touch interface to the controls on the left grip. The short answer is: quite well. On my first couple days, I had intermittent issues with CarPlay not starting and requiring that I re-pair my Sena 30K to the Wing. After some thought, I decided to delete the pairing between my iPhone and the Sena. After that the Gold Wing’s CarPlay integration worked flawlessly. If I owned a Gold Wing, I’d use the navigation systems in the following way. For long trips that I could plan in advance, I’d use the Wing’s GPS and its ability to read routes from a USB drive. For daily trips, I’d use CarPlay and Siri’s ability to take voice commands. Since Apple’s Maps App requires a cellular connection, it isn’t ideal for long trips that might go off the grid. This is where the Honda GPS shines.

2018 Honda Gold Wing and the Nuclear Tour Day 4 - Titan Missile Museum

Proof that I did make the stop. Everything else is hidden underground.

The rest of the apps on CarPlay worked well, too. I spent my last day on the road listening to mostly Pandora and the Overcast podcast app.

The ride itself was long and uneventful. However, there was one section of highway where I encountered an approximately 20 mph cross-wind for about an hour. During that time, I felt none of the interaction between the wind and the windshield that is sometimes encountered on bikes with large fairings.

Finally, there is the issue of the Gold Wing Tour’s range. Over the course of my 1,900 miles aboard the Gold Wing Tour, I averaged 39.5 mpg (Low: 37.3 mpg, High: 42.1 mpg). This yields a mathematical range of 217 miles which is significantly less than the 255 mile range Honda has mentioned. I know this will be an issue for some riders, but for me, I’m ready to stretch my legs after 200 miles.

According to Google Maps, my final day’s ride was 604 miles. The thermometer in my bathroom says I had a 102.1° fever when I arrived home late Friday evening after approximately nine hours in the saddle. While this wasn’t exactly the conclusion of the Nuclear Tourist ride that I planned. I had a tremendous trip aboard the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour. Look for me to sum up my experience in the near future.

2018 Honda Gold Wing and the Nuclear Tour Day 4 Map

The Nuclear Tourist: Day 4 appeared first on Motorcycle.com.