Shipping a Motorcycle Across The Country Is Easier Than You Think

July 20, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

Pardon me for a moment while I take you down memory lane. The year was 2007. I was racing my beloved Suzuki SV650 at the Barber Vintage Festival in Alabama, with intentions of going further east afterward and tackling the high banks at Daytona International Speedway with the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA). The Barber round was great – I had some decent finishes to my name, and better yet, I came away from the event in one piece and with so many happy memories. Meanwhile, one kind competitor even agreed to take my SV to Florida!

Fast forward a few weeks, and the situation has unraveled. I accepted a job in Los Angeles – and my motorcycle was waiting for me in Florida. Needless to say, I never did make it to Daytona. And for the past 11 years life has taken me on several other twists and turns. All the while, my poor SV650 sat in a basement in Pensacola.

The last time I rode my SV650. Barber Motorsports Park, 2007. She wasn’t pretty then, she’s even worse now. Photo: Laura Trigg

I thought about that bike often – it was the motorcycle I lusted after when I got my license. It was also the motorcycle I rode the first time I touched a knee down. At one point, I could practically pull it apart and put it back together. Almost everything I know about two wheels I learned on that bike. Needless to say, I have a soft spot for middleweight twins, and whenever I test one for MO, I always think back to my SV.

I figured my bike was long gone. I had given my buddy in Florida permission to do with the bike as he pleased. I’m a motojournalist now. I get to ride everything! There’s no reason to have my SV anymore. Eleven years on, and I had a wild thought to contact my friend to see if he still had the bike. I’d been getting sentimental about it, but surely my 18 year-old motorcycle had moved on to greener pastures. I was hoping it had, so I could have some closure and move on.

“Yup, still here,” read his text. “People have asked about it over the years, but I didn’t want to let it go without your permission.” Clearly he forgot my prior blessing to do with it as he pleased.

Now that I’m at a more stable point in life, those sentimental thoughts took over. I returned his text.

“Ok. I’m getting it back.”

Who ya gonna call?

Enter Clint Lawrence, founder and CEO of Motorcycle Shippers. He’s been moving motorcycles around since the early 1990s, and started Motorcycle Shippers in 1994. Originally, his business model was to facilitate the sales and transport of motorcycles all over the country in an age before the internet. Today, Motorcycle Shippers still helps people buy, sell, and transport motorcycles to and from far away places, but Lawrence also says he’s seeing business from folks who’d rather ship their motorcycles to rallies. Other clientele include movie sets, celebrities, and even OEMs. With a network of trucks and drivers across all 50 US states and Canada, with the ability to ship a single motorcycle, or an entire fleet, Lawrence is able to transport motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, and even snowmobiles and jet skis.

There’s my trusty SV650 now, in its Pensacola home of 11 years. Probably the first time it’s seen light in some time.

In talking with Lawrence, it was clear his heart is in the right place. Motorcycle shipping isn’t exactly glamorous, but this company has survived for 24 years (and counting) because the guy on top cares. Lawrence and his team developed a special skid to transport motorcycles quickly, easily, and safely – it doesn’t matter if it’s a sporty bike like my SV, an adventure bike, or a chopper. They’ve seen – and transported – them all. On top of that, they’ve developed a sort of curriculum for its drivers so they know the unique challenges that come with transporting a motorcycle.

The booking process was incredibly simple. A dedicated page on the Motorcycle Shippers website asks four basic questions: Where is the bike currently located? What kind of motorcycle is it? Where is its final destination? And how did you hear about the company? Talking to a live human is also an option, which was what I did because I wanted the full experience.

Awoken from its slumber, it’s time the ‘ol girl came home.

This is where Ed Merati comes in. A true professional, Ed asked me all the questions above, then eased my fears and answered my questions about the process. Seeing as how my SV had been tucked away for more than a decade – and it was put away already banged up – I wasn’t concerned if there were a few marks. However, most customers rightly expect their pride and joy to show up pristine. Ed explained that the drivers attach the bikes to the special skid with soft ties around the triple clamp and that a $7000 valuation is included with each shipment with no deductible. Higher valuations are also available.

Price

Feeling good about the process so far, the inevitable question about price came into the picture. The cost will obviously vary depending on the distance between point A and point B and the type of motorcycle being transported, but for a small motorcycle like the SV650, the cross-country trek from Florida to California would be roughly $700 (before tax) – extremely reasonable in my opinion. Cheaper, in fact, than me trying to drive my own vehicle out there and back. Better still, the cost quoted is the cost paid for door-to-door service. There are no hidden surcharges, fuel charges, or toll fees. Transparency is the name of the game.

No, the forklift was not taking the SV to the trash heap.

Scheduling

With cost agreed to and paperwork filled out, all that was left was the actual transport. For a trip across each side of the country, Merati estimated about five working days once the motorcycle was loaded and on its way. It’s asked that both the pickup and drop-off party allow a three-day window prior to arrival in the event of unexpected delays. A phone call is placed 24 hours before pick up and drop-off to ensure someone will be available when the truck arrives at both locations. Pretty standard stuff, really.

What caught me by surprise was the tracking service offered. Much like you would get when shipping anything else, my package was assigned a tracking number, so I could go to the Motorcycle Shippers website and see exactly where my SV was on its journey. It’s a nice touch adding extra peace of mind for those anxious worry-warts out there.

Arrival

Five days after leaving Florida, this nice man rolls up to my house at 8:30am – a half hour before he was scheduled to – with my motorcycle. Talk about timely.

Once the truck was on its way from Florida to California, all that was left to do was wait. True to Merati’s estimate, I got a phone call from a dispatch office on day four to confirm I would be home the following day between 9am and 4pm. I cleared my schedule to ensure I would be around. Seeing as I live on a narrow, dead-end street, I asked the dispatcher if this would be a problem. “Not at all,” they said. Sweet.

Lo and behold, the next day – day five – my phone rings at 8am from the driver. “I’m 30 minutes away, will you be home?” A little earlier than I had expected, but having my motorcycle delivered to my house early is much better than waiting all day like I do for the plumber or cable guy… The drop-off process was a breeze. My SV was the only bike in the truck, and the driver clearly had loaded and unloaded motorcycles before. He knew what he was doing.

The special skid Motorcycle Shippers uses, soft ties are used around the triple trees in front and typically the subframe for the rear. Lockable casters in all four corners allow the entire skid to move or stay in place during transport.

With a copy of my autograph, the cross-country shipping of my SV650 was complete. I couldn’t have asked for a more painless and easy process. I realize most of us would rather ride their motorcycles wherever they need to go, but that’s not always possible. In those cases, I can’t recommend Motorcycle Shippers enough. Fast, friendly, efficient, and reasonably priced, I’ve seen first hand the reason why Clint Lawrence and his team are still going strong after 24 years.

Project SV

Eleven years on and I’m happy to have my SV650 back, but as you can see here she’s missing a few pieces – bodywork, fuel tank, carburetors, and exhaust chief among them. This isn’t any fault of Motorcycle Shippers, but rather the result of me giving a shop across the country permission to do with my motorcycle as they wanted. I allowed this to happen, so I’m not mad about it.

I had no idea this could happen to a brake caliper from just sitting in a basement for a while.

Meanwhile, more than a decade in a Pensacola basement has taken other tolls on my bike. Rust has found its way to nearly every bolt, the Öhlins rear shock I installed years ago looks petrified, and even the anodizing on the GSX-R brake caliper is peeling away. Needless to say, I’m wearing gloves when I start working on this bike.

While some may get angered, for me this is actually a blessing in disguise. All along, my plan has been to restore my bike into the SV I’ve always wanted it to be. I was going to replace the missing parts anyway (they were all fairly damaged and destined for the trash), and the items still remaining are the ones actually worth something (at least to me). This is going to be a big undertaking, but there’s something poetic about getting reacquainted with an old fling.

To quote The Six Million Dollar Man, “We can rebuild him. We have the technology.”

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The Benelli TnT300 and TnT600 Might Be The Best Bikes Coming Out Of China Today

July 16, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

Say what you will about Chinese motorcycles; in most cases the MO team would probably agree with you. When your core market is the Asian continent simply looking for cheap transportation, as a manufacturer you stamp out cheap motorcycles by the truckful to meet the demand. Transport nearly any of those motorcycles to the U.S. – where the expectations are entirely different from the Asian market – and we’re going to be severely let down. Moral of the story: a cheap bike is a cheap bike.

The mistake, however, is assuming every Chinese motorcycle is junk. Enter the Benelli TnT300 and its bigger sibling, the TnT600. Benelli is likely a name most moto junkies are familiar with, as the Italian marque has a storied history dating back to 1911. Today, Benelli is under Chinese ownership from the Qianjian Group, with design still taking place in Italy and production occurring in China.

The TnT300 (right) and TnT600 proudly wear the “Made in China” badge.

SSR Motorsports, importer of Benelli Motorcycles and its own self-labled motorcycles (which have their own contingent of knock-offs in other markets), has been bringing motorcycles into the United States since 2002. Dirtbikes were the original offerings, but the company is expanding its portfolio with street motorcycles. Motorcycle.com has reviewed several of these models already, including the TnT300 and TnT600, but during a recent press ride, SSR/Benelli wanted to remind folks what each model was all about.

2017 Benelli TnT 300 Review

2017 Benelli TnT600 Tornado Review

Small displacement, big punch

A word Michael Lee, Benelli’s marketing manager likes to use is “outlier.” As in, Benelli (and SSR by extension) are placing itself as outliers in the respective markets its models compete in. In the case of the TnT300, the 282cc parallel-Twin distances itself from the small displacement competition in a few ways.

First off, it’s the only model in the class with a 360-degree firing order, meaning one cylinder fires after each complete revolution of the crank. The result is a cool, raspy exhaust note unlike anything else in class. It’s claimed 32.2 hp (we haven’t had a chance to put one on our own dyno) and 18.4 lb-ft. puts it near the top when compared to similarly-sized competitors in class like the Honda CB300R and BMW G310R, but when stacked against slightly larger motorcycles like the 373cc KTM 390 Duke, it feels a little outgunned.

The most significant way the TnT300 stands out, however, is its $3,999 price tag. Less expensive than all the models listed above and others like the Suzuki GW 250 ($4,099), GSX250R ($4,499), and Honda Rebel 300 ($4,449), the TnT300 looks even more attractive now that Benelli is offering a $300 rebate on top of its class-leading price.

The TnT300 is a surprisingly fun motorcycle to toss around in corners. An upgrade in rubber would go a long way in upping the fun factor. Though you can’t argue with the name “Cordial” on the sidewall.

Short of repeating everything John Burns spouted when he reviewed the TnT300, I’ll go ahead and point out some of its high and low points. The first thing you notice about the 300 is it’s a physically larger motorcycle than its competition. Lee tells us this is because the 300 is intended for larger physiques, but in the case of the 300, it fits regular-sized adults very well whereas the other models in this class can be considered toy-like for anyone over 5-foot-7.

Springing the switchblade key open (a gimmicky-yet-cool feature) and bringing the 300 to life exposes the rider to the surprisingly raspy exhaust note. The clutch pull is a little stiffer than a lot of other bikes in the class, but it scoots along surprisingly well for such a little engine – just be sure to keep the revs between 6,000 and its 11,000 rpm redline. You’ll want to do this anyway as the baby TnT sounds really good wound out like this, even with the stock exhaust.

Despite the huge under engine collector necessary for EPA reasons, the TnT300 still has an intoxicating exhaust note. Something as simple as a slip-on exhaust would make it sound even better. Note also the twin, 296mm wave rotors up front. While they look cool, stopping power is decent at best.

Steel-braided brake lines and four-piston calipers are a nice touch, but the twin 296mm wave rotors are a tad small and get overworked when you really start pushing the bike. On the handling front, an inverted fork is a plus for this price and having rebound adjustability at both ends is also a surprise. Nicely spaced bars give decent leverage, but the bias-ply Cordial tires (yes, the tire name is Cordial) aren’t the most communicative.

As a general commuting machine, however, the TnT300 is quite impressive. Ergonomics feel comfortable, and the little bikini fairing pokes just a big enough hole in the air to divert a decent amount of wind away from your chest at highway speeds. All things considered, the TnT300 is the one I prefer between it and the 600. Read on to see why.

6(hundred) of one, half a dozen of the other

Visually, the aesthetics of the TnT600 have largely withstood the test of time. It’s an attractive motorcycle in the middleweight naked bike category, with its trellis frame and sharp angles. Though the main styling component clearly showing its age is the undertail pipes. They harken back to 2006 and a time when undertail exhausts were all the rage. Coincidentally, this was about the time the big TnT was announced. Like the TnT300, if you want the full scoop on the 600, check out Tom Roderick’s review here.

The TnT600’s four header pipes are hard to miss at this angle. What’s a little odd is seeing them route up and back towards an undertail exhaust. To quote my teenage niece, “That’s so 12 years ago.”

Looking at the TnT600 in pictures is one thing. In person, the 600 looks large and in charge. Like the 300, the bigger brother is physically larger than the competition. This was fine for the 300, as the added girth made the bike feel like a “real” motorcycle. When you sit on the 600, its wide fuel tank makes it look like it has love handles – that is, once you muscle the hefty 509-pound (claimed) motorcycle off the sidestand in the first place. From there, the wide tank is met with pegs that are a tad on the high side, making for a slightly awkward riding position. To put it in plain English, the 600 is a big motorcycle.

As the name implies, forward thrust for the bigger TnT comes from a 600cc inline-Four making a claimed 67.1 hp and 38.4 lb-ft of torque. These aren’t staggering numbers by any stretch, and the TnT doesn’t really start to feel motivated until the revs kick in past 5,000rpm. It’s not a slow motorcycle by any means, but others in its class like the Kawasaki Z650, Suzuki SV650, and Yamaha MT-07 feel more lively, sporty, and responsive.

This view gives a good look at the steel trellis frame. Below it is a cast aluminum lower frame. Together, the two cradle the wide four cylinder engine and dial in just the amount of chassis flex the Benelli engineers wanted.

The 600 benefits from a 50mm inverted fork, which does help give the front end a feeling of stiffness the other bikes don’t quite match, but the extra heft the TnT carries practically negates that advantage. Stopping power is fairly good; two 320mm discs up front get paired with radial-mount four-piston calipers for pretty decent stopping power. But again, you also feel the extra weight when stomping on the stoppers.

If it’s not obvious by now, the other bikes in this category have a leg up on the Benelli for one simple reason: less weight. Up to 112 lbs lighter in the Yamaha’s case. Couple that with more power and torque, and the TnT600 is hard to defend.

However, we need to go back to Lee’s catchphrase: Outlier. While Lee didn’t admit to the same pitfalls for the 600 as mentioned here, he did admit to its $6,999 price tag giving it no advantage in the marketplace. For 2018, the TnT600 sees a significant price drop from $6,999 to $5,999. Dropping the price a thousand bucks puts it well clear of the $6,999 Kawasaki, $7,049 Suzuki, and $7,599 Yamaha. In fact, it even drops it below the $6,099 Honda CB500F.

With its reduced price, suddenly the TnT600 makes you stop and think about which financial choice to make between it and its similarly-priced rivals.

If cost is your biggest deciding factor, then the 600 poses a great value for performance. That is, if you don’t mind its extra weight and girth. Personally, since Benelli’s own research indicates models in the 600’s class are at least partially financed, I’d opt for either the Z650, SV650, or MT-07; the extra cost isn’t much when spread over the life of a loan.

Alternatively, you can opt for the TnT300 at $3,999 – a price range Benelli says consumers typically purchase outright without financing – and have a motorcycle that’s more entertaining than the 600 without a payment every month.

In the end, the TnT300 makes a stronger case for the best bang-for-the-buck between it and the TnT600. But with such strong competition in both categories, neither is the one we’d ultimately park in our garages.

The post The Benelli TnT300 and TnT600 Might Be The Best Bikes Coming Out Of China Today appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Watch Niccolò Canepa Destroy Mere Mortals Around Suzuka

July 13, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

Niccolò Canepa is a bit of a journeyman in the racing scene. With stints in both MotoGP, Moto2, World Superbike, Superstock 1000, and Supersport 600, the Italian has now found a home in the Endurance World Championship, where he’s riding the factory GMT94 Yamaha R1. In this video, you can see why Canepa has raced in virtually all of the top-tier classes the world has to offer. In this practice session for the Suzuka 8 Hours, Canepa takes you on board as he slices and dices his way past lesser riders – all of whom would likely smoke the biggest hotshot at your local trackday.

The EWC enters its season finale on July 29 with the Suzuka 8 Hours – the largest endurance race for all of the Japanese manufacturers. For 2018 Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha are all fielding factory efforts with riders from both the World Superbike and MotoGP paddocks making a special appearance to take part in this race.

As for Canepa, we promise this video isn’t sped up – he’s simply riding the wheels off his Yamaha. Amazingly, during the practice sessions at Suzuka, Canepa and the GMT94 team aren’t the fastest team. In fact, GMT94’s fastest practice time so far – a 2:09.315 – is more than three seconds off the official Yamaha Factory Racing Team’s time of 2:06.273, set by mult-time Japanese superbike champion Katsuyuki Nakasuga. Nakasuga, along with his World Superbike teammates Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, are the defending champions of the Suzuka 8 Hours and are looking to keep the crown for a second consecutive year.

Among the teams regularly competing in the EWC, YART Yamaha is leading the other FIM EWC full-season teams with a 2:08.005 quickest lap. This was good enough for 7th-quickest of the teams on track in testing, ahead of Musashi RT Harc-Pro Honda’s 2:08.070 best lap. F.C.C. TSR Honda France set a 2:09.186, ahead of GMT94 Yamaha, and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (2:10.581).

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8 Things I’d Change On The Kawasaki Ninja 400

July 12, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, we – err, at least I – really love the Kawasaki Ninja 400. Ryan came off the bike at its press intro and was happy as could be. He’s such a fan that he pointed out the 10 things he specifically likes about it. Then, once we stacked it up against the KTM RC390 and Honda CBR500R in our 2018 Lightweight Sportbike Shootout, the Ninja 400 came away a winner, yet again. As far as lightweight sportbikes go, this one is sweet. It’s a great entry-level motorcycle for the new or returning rider, but has plenty of performance for the experienced rider to exploit.

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 First Ride Review
Top 10 Features Of The 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400
2018 Lightweight Sportbikes Shootout

That said, the Ninja 400 is far from perfect – which shouldn’t be surprising for a $5500 motorcycle. Now that we’ve spent a considerable amount of time with the Kawasaki, we have a pretty good idea of things needing some attention. Here are eight things I’d change on the Kawasaki Ninja 400.

1. Wider Bars

For some strange reason, the bars on the Ninja 400 are angled inward toward the rider quite a bit. We’re not sure why as, even at full lock, there’s plenty of space between the bars and the bodywork. When you’re riding, it almost feels like you’re doing the chicken dance with how close your arms are to your body. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of exaggeration, but bolting on a set of aftermarket bars and opening up the angle would be high on my list of changes to the bike.

2. Different Subframe or Tail piece for More Room to Scoot

Ryan pointed this out during his First Ride of the bike, and it’s also one of the first things we noticed about the 400 during the Lightweight Sportbike Shootout – there’s not much room to move about in the saddle. Unfortunately, the subframe looks to be welded to the motorcycle instead of bolted on, meaning modifying it would still be possible, but irreversible. If carrying a passenger or luggage was a priority, then I’d extend the subframe even further. If solo riding were a higher priority, I’d find a way to revise the bodywork to give the pilot more seat room. Either way, there would be some extensive modifications needed to have some space to scoot back without knees touching elbows.

3. Exhaust

One of the first things anybody does to their motorcycle is change the exhaust, and the Ninja 400 is no different. While I’m not particularly a fan of the sound coming from parallel-Twins (Yamaha MT-07 excluded), I am a fan of opening up a motorcycle’s airways and letting it breathe. As a performance-oriented guy, the extra power and reduced weight an aftermarket exhaust brings is a nice benefit.

4. Mapping

Of course, simply adding an aftermarket exhaust is only part of the solution. Making sure the engine receives the proper air/fuel ratio to accommodate the new exhaust is also key to a properly running engine. With the Ninja 400 in particular, the engine will spin up to 12k rpm, but seems to hit a flat spot once it approaches those engine speeds. I’d imagine a few clicks on a computer with some clever re-mapping would waken the 399cc screamer all the way to redline.

5. Suspension

One of the easiest ways for manufacturers to bring the cost of a motorcycle down is to equip it with basic suspension. Unfortunately, the Ninja 400 is not immune to these tactics. That said, the standard suspension on the baby Ninja is quite good considering how bare bones it is. But if there’s room for improvement, it would definitely be here. If this were primarily a street bike, the biggest change I’d make is to soften the high-speed compression – the Ninja’s stock dampers have a hard time dealing with stutter bumps on the roads, transmitting a lot of those jolts to the rider. For a track machine, I’d make everything fully adjustable.

6. Lower Pegs

Apart from having a cramped seating quarters, the pegs are also fairly close, creating a relatively tight seat-to-peg ratio. In all honesty there are much more uncomfortable motorcycles, but since the majority of Ninja 400 owners will likely never bring their bike to the track having pegs that high doesn’t make much sense. With a set of lower pegs and more space to move in the saddle, the Kawasaki could pull off some light-duty touring.

7. Quickshifter

Maybe I’m spoiled, but once you ride motorcycles with quickshifters you never want to go back.

8. Brakes

One of the easiest, most cost-effective modifications you can make to nearly any motorcycle is to equip it with steel-braided brake lines (if it doesn’t already come with some from the factory). The little Ninja is another motorcycle needing of the modification. To be fair, the standard brakes are actually quite good – rubber lines and all. But they could be better. That’s where steel lines come in. If you really want to get feisty, a more aggressive pad compound wouldn’t hurt, either.

With these eight changes the Ninja 400 would be transformed. It may not win many drag races, but it would be the bike that could nearly do it all, especially impressive considering its displacement category.

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The Pikes Peak Hill Climb Is Crazy. Heres How Carlin Dunne Was Able To Win It

July 12, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

It goes without saying that the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is one of the most dangerous motor races in the world. I should know – I flew off the mountain and lived to tell about it when I raced Pikes Peak in 2013. Coincidentally, Carlin Dunne was there that year, too. In fact, he was the fastest two wheeled machine up Pikes Peak on the motorcycle we now know as the Lightning LS-218. The year prior Dunne won the race on a Ducati Multistrada, setting a course record that stood for five years.

After 2013, Dunne took a break from competing on the mountain. He even had a stint being a rider coach to all the Pikes Peak newcomers. Then, in 2017, when Chris Fillmore aboard his KTM 1290 Super Duke R, broke Dunne’s record, Ducati wanted to get the title back. In the five years since Ducati last held the record, the Multistrada evolved into the Multistrada 1260 – an even more potent weapon for the mountain. Who was the natural choice to ride the bike? Dunne, of course.

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The 2018 edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb was a dramatic one, with Dunne in an extremely tight battle with another KTM-mounted rider, Rennie Scaysbrook. In the end, Dunne’s time of 9:59.102 was just sixth tenths of a second faster than Scaysbrook. It wasn’t the record-setting time they were hoping for, but the conditions on the mountain simply weren’t good enough to reclaim the fastest motorcycle time ever. And when the risk is this high, sometimes you have to take what you can get.

Being a big deal for Ducati, of course there were several cameras (still and video) surrounding the team, the bikes, and the riders. If a new record were to be set, Bologna wanted to be sure the world knew about it. Even though a new record wasn’t set, the folks in Borgo Panigale still wanted to honor Dunne with his victorious run aboard the Multistrada 1260 – a motorcycle Dunne and his team hardly modified to make it Pikes Peak worthy. The result of all this footage is a sort of mini documentary chronicling the challenges of Pikes Peak, and the unique circumstances the 2018 race threw at Dunne and the rest of the competitors. It’s an intense ride up the mountain, told by someone who’s known for keeping his cool under pressure. Enjoy the video.

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Riding Slow Bikes Fast – Laguna Seca Edition

July 5, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

You’ve heard the adage a lot if you’re a consistent Motorcycle.com reader – it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow – and with our recent Lightweight Sportbike Shootout we’ve gone ahead and proved it. By now we’ll assume you’ve already read the shootout, seen our conclusions, and also drawn your own; but what exactly do these three motorcycles look like at speed around Laguna Seca? This is your chance to see for yourself, as we’ve captured a quick lap aboard all three bikes, courtesy of Yours Truly.

“Quick lap” is relative, of course, considering the relative lack of power these bikes make and because getting a clean lap without traffic was next to impossible. Still, these on boards reveal quite a bit.

Honda CBR500R

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In the case of the CBR500R, I regret to inform you that the lap is far from exciting. But in many ways it is revealing. What it reveals is its excellent street manners, even while being taxed on a racetrack. There’s no sense of urgency with the Honda – a point most dramatically displayed as the CBR climbs the hill entering the famous Corkscrew. As it’s gaining speed, the power simply arrives in a linear fashion (albeit not very quickly), with hardly a peep coming out of the exhaust. It doesn’t get the heart pumping on track, but it’s sure nice to experience on the road. Though quiet, a quick glance at the speedo shows speeds far exceeding anything The Boys In Blue will let you get away with on normal roads.

Kawasaki Ninja 400

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The Kawasaki Ninja 400 is quite the opposite of the Honda in the fact that it loves to rev. Just listen to it in this video as it carries revs all the way to its 12,000rpm redline! The 400 does flatline a little near the top of its rev range, which is something I’m sure the aftermarket is working on sorting out. A gear position indicator is also a nicety in this price category, which is also a curious omission on the Honda. Back to the Kawi and you can also see the Ninja’s ability to carry a line fairly well. This is more impressive considering its non-adjustable suspension it carries from the factory.

KTM RC390

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It’s difficult to notice in the video, but the KTM requires its rider to be on top of their shift points. You can see the shift light is illuminated nearly the entire lap in the video; this is partially because we were constantly revving the bike near its limit, but also because the light on our particular test bike was set artificially low – possibly to limit the kind of abuse we gave it. Still, you can argue the KTM gains speed faster than the Kawasaki, though without a clean lap for each bike it’s a little hard to definitively determine. The KTM definitely has the chassis advantage though, as the RC390 with its wide bars can practically be put anywhere the rider chooses.

The adage is true

Riding the Honda CBR500R, Kawasaki Ninja 400, and KTM RC390 around Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca was an absolute blast for several reasons. First, riding motorcycles that don’t make 50hp is a lot less taxing on both the mind and body. Second, it also forces us to rely on the fundamentals – carrying corner speed key among them – to put in a decent lap time. And when you feel like you’re mastering the motorcycle instead of simply hanging on for dear life, riding becomes a whole lot more fun. Lastly, we can’t lie; passing other riders on our stock machines – complete with headlights, mirrors, license plate, turn signals, and even a horn(!) – does come with a little twinge of personal satisfaction.

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Watch Chris Fillmores Record Breaking Run Up Pikes Peak Aboard The KTM 790 Duke

July 4, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

In honor of Independence Day here in the U.S. of A., we thought we’d bring you this incredibly exciting on-board footage of Chris Fillmore flying up America’s mountain – Pikes Peak. The 2018 edition of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb marks the 96th running of the event, and this year Fillmore chose to tackle the mountain aboard the all-new KTM 790 Duke, which is slated to come to these shores later this year. And what better marketing for the 790 Duke than by setting the middleweight course record at a 10:04.038 – smashing the previous record by more than 30 seconds! Fillmore’s time was also good enough for third place overall.

If you remember, Fillmore came to the mountain last year – as a rookie – aboard the almighty 1290 Super Duke R and set a new motorcycle record of 9:49.265, bettering the previous lap record held by Carlin Dunne (the overall motorcycle winner of the 2018 race) of 9:52.819. As Fillmore explains in this KTM interview, the 790 Duke is a different animal compared to the 1290 Super Duke.

Photo: Brapp Snapps Media

For starters, there’s the obvious displacement difference. You need all the power you can get at Pikes Peak, as the elevation and thin air saps power from internal combustion engines the higher you go (not to mention the toll it takes on the rider). The switchbacks at Pikes Peak demand torque on exit to get a good drive and to achieve fast lap times. This is where the 1290 Super Duke shows its greatest strength over the 790.

Moreover, the 790 wasn’t designed to be a track weapon, but with a mantra like “Ready to Race,” having carte blanche access to the KTM Power Parts catalog meant Fillmore could turn the bike into the scalpel he needed.  Surprisingly, the 790 Duke engine internals remained entirely stock. The upgrades basically amount to the same parts your average (fast) club racer would throw on their bike: exhaust, suspension, some weight reduction, and slick tires. The results clearly speak for themselves, as Fillmore destroyed the previous lap record on a course all of the top competitors this year said felt so dirty and greasy they thought their tires were going flat.

Nonetheless, enjoy Fillmore’s lap below, brought to you on a 360-degree, gyroscopic camera. It’s a bit disorienting at first, but becomes rather breathtaking the higher up Pikes Peak Chris goes.

The post Watch Chris Fillmore’s Record Breaking Run Up Pikes Peak Aboard The KTM 790 Duke appeared first on Motorcycle.com.

Five Things You Need To Know About The 2018 Honda CBR500R

June 30, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

Honda’s known for its iconic lineup of CBR sportbikes – the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR are two of the most legendary sporting motorcycles to ever grace a racetrack. Look deeper into Honda’s product lineup however, and you’ll find Team Red has a host of other models also wearing the CBR nameplate. Here, we’ll take a look at the CBR500R. A 471cc parallel-Twin, the 500R represents a stepping stone to the bigger, badder CBR models – or does it? After spending some time with it, here are five things you need to know about the 2018 Honda CBR500R.

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1. Looks

The CBR600RR and 1000RR have always been attractive, and the CBR500R continues that lineage. It was a decent looking motorcycle when it was first introduced in 2013, but after receiving a facelift for the 2016 model year the CBR500R looks aggressive and stylish – very befitting of the CBR name. Gone are the boxy headlights of yesteryear, and in its place are angular and edgy units that look sleek and sharp.

2. Comfort

An inside joke amongst the MO staff is that the CBR500R should be called the VFR500R instead. It’s ergonomics lean heavily toward the comfortable side of sporty riding; its saddle is broad and well padded, the bars are raised just so the rider’s hands reach them naturally, and the pegs hardly put much of a bend in the rider’s knees. Simply put, it’s a very comfortable sporty bike for a normal-sized adult.

3. Performance

This is where the CBR500R falls short of living up to the CBR name. With only 42.7 hp to the wheel and 44 lb-ft of torque, some might argue the 500R underperforms, especially when motorcycles with nearly 100cc less displacement make just as much power. To Honda’s credit, the 500R is exceptionally well fueled, with a beautiful power and torque curve on the dyno. In fact, for a street-going motorcycle it makes a fine companion, but once you take it on a racetrack its limits are reached very quickly – its suspension too soft, brakes too mushy, and power simply adequate at best.

4. It’s heavy

Compounding the CBR’s performance woes in the engine department is the fact the 500R weighs 431 lbs with its 4.4-gallon fuel tank topped off. For reference, the 2017 Honda CBR1000RR we tested during our 2017 Superbike Street Shootout was only two pounds heavier and made 110 more horsepower. Granted, the 500R isn’t meant to be a cutting edge supersport, but the comparison is important when you consider the 500’s competition makes about the same power and tips the scales up to 75 lbs lighter.

5. And it’s also pricey

To add insult to injury, the CBR500R is a costly machine for its category. Non-ABS models will set you back $6,500, while ABS (like on our tester) is another $300. This is as much as $1,400 more than some of the Honda’s competition, so you really need to be on the Honda bandwagon to justify the CBR500R. That said, if you’re already committed to the Honda and a sporty street bike with excellent build quality and fuel mileage are important to you – and you’re taller and/or, umm…wider – then the 500R is worth considering.

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2018 Lightweight Sportbikes Shootout

June 23, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

It’s getting to be a bit silly what’s passing for a lightweight sportbike these days. In the beginning, it made sense: You had the Kawasaki Ninja 250. And, well, that was it. It only took twenty-odd years, but the other manufacturers eventually took notice that building small bikes to entice new or returning riders was probably a good thing for the industry, and hence, started building little bikes of their own. Honda came around with the CBR250R…just as the competition upped the ante again. Kawasaki pushed the bar with the Ninja 300, then Honda made a weak attempt to follow suit with the 286cc CBR300R. Yamaha then jumped in the game, shoving displacement rules out the window with its 321cc R3 – but not to be outdone, the brash Austrians (via India) at KTM one-upped all of them with the 373cc RC390.

Today, Kawasaki is throwing convention out the window yet again, shelving the Ninja 300 (at least in the U.S.) and giving us the all-new Ninja 400. So it’s only right we at Motorcycle.com put it up against some worthy contenders. If this idea sounds vaguely familiar to you, it’s because we last put the crop of little bikes (not to be confused with liter bikes – very different) together in 2015 in our Beginner-ish Sportbike Shootout. There we had the CBR300, Ninja 300, RC390, and R3 fighting it out, with the Kawasaki narrowly beating the Yamaha for the top spot.

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This time around there’s a CBR and an RC390 to go against the Ninja 400; however, considering the beating the CBR300R took in 2015, we’re bringing in its bigger brother – the CBR500R – to take on Kawi’s 400. As for the KTM, the RC390 has received some updates since we last tested one three years ago. Bigger brakes, revised suspension, and some chassis tweaks have made it a sharper scalpel compared to 2015. KTM says nothing was changed with the engine, but we find this hard to believe. Our 2018 tester makes three more ponies to the wheel than our 2015 model, reaching that point 1,000 revs higher (granted, these were different dynos, but the difference in power and engine speed seems significant). This was reason enough to include it in this test. If you take racing into account, then the KTM vs. Kawasaki comparison becomes even stronger, as the two brands are fighting it out in the World Supersport 300 category, as well as the MotoAmerica Junior Cup series.

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 First Ride Review

Beginner-Ish Sportbike Shootout + Video

Obligatory R3 disclaimer

Before we go any further, we can hear the racing fans shouting in protest because the Yamaha R3 isn’t here. They’ll say it’s also a contender in the little bike racing classes both at home and abroad. To that we say – yes, but rule changes are the reason the R3 is anywhere near the front. Rev limits and weight penalties have been added to the other bikes to help the R3 compete. Here in the real world, the R3 – while a great motorcycle in its own right – is simply outclassed in the power department. Plus, it hasn’t changed since we tested it in 2015, so there was no reason to bring it back.

With that out of the way, let’s describe our testing procedure. It’s quite simple, really: We rode all three bikes on the street, to get a feel for their road manners, and also took them to Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca (yeah, the name still sounds weird to us, too) to really wring their necks. Joining Yours Truly for the ride was our esteemed John Burns, and our semi-retired-motojournalist-turned-scuba-diver-scientist Tom Roderick.

By the numbers

The showdown between the CBR500R, Ninja 400, and RC390 is a very interesting one. All three make between 42 and 44 horsepower (to the wheel) and are also closely matched in the torque department – the Honda topping out at 28.9 lb-ft, while the Kawasaki and KTM make 24.6 lb-ft and 24.4 lb-ft, respectively. From there, the spec sheet gives us a hint as to how this trio will respond to each other.

The Honda makes its power earlier than the smaller-engined Kawasaki and KTM, and it impresses with its excellent fueling – not a dip to be found. Meanwhile, the Ninja and RC are neck and neck, the Kawi gaining a sizable advantage at each edge of the rpm range.

A look at suspension components shows us the KTM is the only one here with an inverted fork – a nod to the Austrian’s Ready to Race attitude. Its stanchions are 43mm in diameter, similar to sportbikes with double the engine capacity. The Honda and Kawasaki, meanwhile, make do with traditional 41mm forks; the CBR’s adjustable for spring preload. The KTM’s racer dreams are furthered by the 320mm brake disc paired with the only radial-mount, four-piston caliper here. But where the RC390’s track chops really make itself apparent is in its steering geometry numbers. Its 23.5º rake is the steepest here by a wide margin; combining that with its 88mm trail and 52.8-inch wheelbase – the shortest here – means the RC values nimbleness over stability.

At the other end of the spectrum is Honda’s CBR500R. Its rake is a comparatively lazy 25.5º. With 102mm of trail, coupled with its long 55.5-inch wheelbase, the 500R is the tortoise to the KTM’s hare when it comes to steering manners. Slow, steady, and stable is the name of Honda’s game.

Torque characteristics closely mimic the horsepower chart – the Honda’s bigger engine producing more torque, earlier, while the Kawasaki shows a big jump over the KTM down low. From the saddle, however, the KTM felt like it had better punch coming out of corners.

Which puts the Kawasaki right in the middle. Its rake angle is 24.7º and trail is a reasonable 91.4mm. Its wheelbase is still relatively short at 53.9 inches, but it reaches a Goldilocks point between the hyper KTM and the methodical Honda.

Looking further down the specs, we can clearly see what will quickly become the Honda’s downfall: weight. At 431 pounds with a full tank of gas, the CBR500R is a porker compared to the 368-pound Kawasaki and 356-pound KTM, meaning the power-to-weight ratio is decidedly not in the Honda’s favor. However, track performance isn’t the sole category these three are being judged on. We’re looking for the best all-around motorcycle. To do that, we have to ride them on the street, too. So, let’s go!

A rose by any other name…

Due to scheduling conflicts we flogged these three at the racetrack first; and not just any racetrack, but Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca (which we’ll just refer to as Laguna Seca from now on). A place as special and storied as Laguna might seem wasted on a trio that can’t make a combined 130 hp, but this is far from the case. Its combination of high-speed sweepers, low-speed corners, plus its elevation changes were perfect for determining what these bikes are made of.

We joined our pals at Trackdaz for their one and only trip to the Dry Lagoon every year. Coincidentally, Trackdaz is also sponsored by Yamaha, and the crew had a slew of blue bikes for their staff to ride. This included a couple R3s, giving us the chance to verify if we made the right decision to leave it out.

The conclusion? Yes. No matter who was riding, any of the bikes in our trio would leave the R3 in the dust (though the Honda did have to work a little harder to do it), the poor Yammie simply was unable to keep up in a straight line.

Our decision validated, it was on to the three bikes at hand. Our inclinations after perusing the specs bore fruit once the three pairs of Bridgestone Battlax R11 rubber we spooned on these bikes hit the pavement in anger: “The Honda is a stately sports tourer cut from richer but unfortunately slower cloth,” says our elder statesman John Burns. “In spite of its displacement advantage, the KTM and Kawi stream right past on the track.”

The poor Honda made it known quickly that track duty wasn’t its thing. It’s a lovable motorcycle, but on track anyway, it’s the one we’d relegate to the friend zone. Not the one we’d want to shack up with.

We knew the Honda’s significant weight penalty over the Kawasaki and KTM would be a detriment on track, but we didn’t expect it to be so extreme. The Honda’s fueling is metered as perfectly as you’d expect from Honda, but with all the extra weight it has to carry around, the green and orange bikes motor past the Honda without much effort. Since all three motorcycles have relatively inexpensive suspension components, the extra weight hurt the Honda in the handling department, too. The 500 was sprung on the soft side, and even with the peg feelers removed, the Turn Six dip would cause the suspension to compress enough to touch down hard parts consistently.

It takes two to tango

This left the Kawasaki and KTM to battle it out for track supremacy. With a mantra like Ready to Race, you expect the KTM to excel in this environment, and all three testers felt as much. “The KTM feels like a race bike because it is a race bike,” said Tom. Burns followed up with similar thoughts, noting, “KTM has great ergos for the track…the clip-ons are not just low, but pretty wide too, which would let an aggressive rider throw it into corners even harder than my chicken little self, and even I was throwing it in pretty hard occasionally. It’s true what they say – it’s fun to ride a slow bike fast.”

“Those flat, wide bars on the KTM allow you to throw it from one side to the other in the blink of an eye,” says Tom. “If you’re looking to go racing or want a dedicated track bike, the RC390 is the best one here for track duty.”

All of us commented about how the KTM’s Single helped it leap off of corners better than the Kawasaki. If you take a look at the dyno chart though, the Kawasaki actually makes a tiny bit more power and torque than the RC390, with a significant advantage over the orange bike between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm. We can only chalk up the feeling of better punch out of corners to the KTM’s gearing.

From there the Ninja and RC are closely matched in the engine department, the Kawasaki really only able to one-up the KTM once the revs start to climb. The KTM’s 10,000 rpm rev limit is reached quickly, forcing the rider to shift more often. Meanwhile, the Kawasaki has excellent overrev before reaching its 12,000 rpm limit. So, while the KTM rider is busy shifting, the Kawasaki is able to sing its 43.7 hp song as it nudges right on by. JB sums it up nicely, “The KTM’s torquey Single seems to get it out of Laguna’s tight corners quicker than the Ninja, with the Kawasaki able to motor back past by the end of the front straight or up to the top of the Corkscrew.”

Burns was a fan of the wee little KTM on track, choosing it as his track weapon. He liked its power down low and the chassis’s ability to offer him better feedback from the contact patches.

Where the KTM shows its advantage is in the corners. With the most aggressive geometry numbers, combined with the shortest wheelbase, the KTM is eager and ready to rail through turns, and the RC390 loves changing direction. Couple that with the WP inverted fork and suspension compliance that was excellent for track duty, and you have a prescription for blistering corner speed. Burns said the KTM delivered very good feel for the contact patches on each of the Bridgestone Battlax R11 DOT race tires.

The KTM’s second advantage is its excellent stopping power. Having upgraded to a 320mm front disc for 2017 (from 300mm), the radial-mount ByBre (aka By Brembo… but made in India) caliper has more surface area to bite on, and the effect it has in scrubbing speed is big. The only one of the three with a steel-braided line, the KTM with its adjustable levers delivered excellent feedback for such an inexpensive motorcycle.

We all agree the Ninja 400 on track wasn’t quite as capable in the chassis or braking department as the KTM – but only just. Our tiny gripes are easily remedied by the aftermarket.

This takes nothing away from the Kawasaki, though. As John says, “[The] Ninja 400 is a fantastic little bike, too. At the track, it’s sprung a smidge less stiff than the KTM, and therefore its contact patches are slightly harder to feel – but only just a smidge.” Tom followed up with similar comments, saying the Ninja 400 is “Nearly as fun as the KTM when navigating Laguna Seca, but the aggressive nature of the KTM puts it a hair above the Kawi in outright track performance.”

On track, the Kawasaki in stock form handles great and stops well… but the KTM does those things a tiny bit better. The Ninja’s bars are angled in more so than the KTM, giving it less leverage to toss the bike around, but the high footpegs give it ample ground clearance. The single 310mm disc and twin-piston caliper were no match for the RC390’s brake, but it performs admirably.

Where the Kawasaki really shines is in the engine department. It delivers a decent amount of push down low but then a very impressive steam of power up top. It’s incredible that much punch is packed into a 399cc parallel-Twin.

The Kawasaki’s highlight, though, is its engine. Its flexibility – being able to lug around at low rpm, while also having plenty of punch in the middle and up high – makes it a sweetheart and an easy bike to ride fast. It’s for this reason I’d pick it as my track bike, though John makes a strong case in picking the KTM as his track weapon. Tom, meanwhile, wavers between the two. But this test isn’t solely decided on the track…

Take it to the street

Despite wearing the CBR nameplate, the 500R is clearly meant to be a streetbike rather than a track weapon. On the open road, the Honda is every bit the excellent street machine we thought it would be. Its ergos are clearly the most comfortable here, “featuring a seating position with plenty of legroom for full-size adults,” says Tom. Its extra heft gives it a “real” motorcycle feel compared to the toy-like weights of the Kawi and Katoom, and the smooth power delivery we experienced on track is even sweeter when cruising down the boulevard. Best of all, we routinely saw 60+ mpg from the Honda’s 4.4 gallon tank – at least 10 mpg more than the Ninja and 390, which both consistently returned 50-ish mpg.

The Honda is much more at home on the street. It’s the most comfortable one here, by far. Especially if you’re an average-size adult and not an aspiring racer.

When the road gets curvy, the Honda taps out early in much the same way it did on track. Keep the pace mellow and ride the bike smoothly and the Honda is actually very rewarding. If you choose to attack the canyons like you could with the Ninja or RC, then you’ll reach the Honda’s limits very quickly.

“If you’re less interested in sport and more into commuting, well okay then. The CBR is for you,” says John. The hitch here is the Honda’s price. With a price tag starting at $6,500 (add $300 for ABS like our tester), the CBR500R is as much as $1,800 costlier than the base Ninja 400 without ABS (though we highly suggest you spend the extra cash for ABS). Unless you have your heart set on the CBR, the Kawasaki is nearly as comfortable and capable, for less dough.

Whether on track or on the street, the KTM is all business. Its hard seat is fine on track but not so great on the freeway. Same, too, for its small fuel tank. A tourer the RC390 most definitely isn’t. But if you play in the hills, the KTM will make you feel alive.

Meanwhile, the KTM is unapologetic in its racetrack stance and ergonomics. Its aggressive nature, combined with the vibes from the Single cylinder and its tiny 2.64-gallon fuel tank, make it far from a tourer. Granted, Singles are naturally prone to vibes, and KTM has done a great job isolating them from the rider. However, the Honda and Kawasaki are simply smoother.

For anything but a mountain road, the RC390 simply isn’t our choice for a road bike. It’s an absolute riot in the twisty bits, exhibiting the same traits we loved about it on the track – but if a comfy 373cc KTM is your thing, Tom says it best, “I’d opt for the 390 Duke that’d perform as well if not better in a street-legal environment.

Other than bars angled a smidge too far inward, pegs a smidge too high, and a passenger seat a smidge too close to the pilot, the Ninja 400 is hard to fault on the street.

If you’re sensing a theme so far, then you probably know where this is going. Finding a good middle ground between the Honda’s touring chops and the KTM’s track attitude, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 really is the Goldilocks of the trio. “On the street, the Ninja is the far superior motorcycle, with humane ergonomics, great suspension for such an inexpensive bike, super light clutch pull, etc.,” says John. “Now that it’s a 400, it’s a really viable option for even experienced riders.” Unsurprisingly, the handling characteristics we like about the Kawi translate over to the street, but its versatility as both a (relatively) comfortable street bike and highly capable track toy have endeared it to us.

One bike to do it all

Based purely on their mechanical merits, we love all three motorcycles for very specific reasons. We wouldn’t hesitate to tour on the Honda. The KTM allows us to perform our best racer impression, and the Kawasaki rekindles the fun and joy of wringing the neck of a small-displacement motorcycle – knowing the machine can handle it and will ask for more.

I believe the term you’re looking for, Kawasaki, is “Nailed it.”

Ultimately, we need to choose one bike to do it all. Sometimes, during these comparison tests, this decision is far from easy. Even after filling out the scorecard and mulling over the data, we change our minds constantly. This time around, the decision was easy. Both the Honda and KTM are focused in specific areas – and are great in those respective categories – but Kawasaki’s Ninja 400 has somehow found a way to perform nearly as well as the CBR and RC390 in their respective strong suits. At $5,499 for our ABS-equipped, KRT color scheme, the Ninja is equal in cost to the KTM, and $1,400 cheaper than the Honda.

We didn’t need the scorecard to validate our feelings, but filling it out only reconfirmed our leanings. The Kawasaki Ninja 400 isn’t a great bang-for-the-buck motorcycle – it’s simply a great motorcycle. Period.

Lightweight sportbikes

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Marc Marquez Turned A Few Heads During His First Formula 1 Test

June 7, 2018 Troy Siahaan 0

It’s only natural for world-class motorcycle racers to also be interested in car racing – specifically, Formula 1. Valentino Rossi might be the most famous of the MotoGP world champions to try four wheels. He routinely participates (and wins) rally races after the MotoGP season is over, and he came pretty darn close to driving for Ferrari’s F1 team after a series of tests. To date, however, only the late, great John Surtees is the only person to ever win the 500cc world championship (1956, 1958, 1959, 1960) and the Formula 1 title (1964).

Could Marc Marquez be next? Probably not anytime soon, but after getting his first taste of driving a Formula 1 car, the Spanish MotoGP champion is definitely open to the possibility after he hangs up his leathers. Repsol Honda teammates Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, and multi-time MXGP champion Tony Cairoli recently got the chance to drive a 2012-spec RB8 F1 car at the Austrian energy drink company’s home track, the Red Bull Ring, for a bit of fun in between the hectic schedules of their day jobs.

Before getting to hop in the real car, all three stars spent significant time in the simulator to come to grips (pun intended) with the forces and sensations of driving in F1. To further help their progress, former F1 driver, WEC champion, and Red Bull athlete Mark Weber was on hand to give the trio a few pointers.

Official times were not released, but several outlets are reporting Marquez’s (unofficial) best lap was a 1:14.9, and he was on course to lap faster before spinning at the last corner. That time puts him just over six seconds slower than the 2014 pole time at the circuit, and 10 seconds slower than the pole time set last year. However, keep in mind Marquez was driving an eight year-old car meant for demonstration purposes, on hard Pirelli tires, with no DRS (Drag Reduction System), using a V8 engine with no KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System).

So what did Marquez think? “It was always my dream to race the quickest cars in the world. I had great respect for it ahead of today, and I didn’t sleep well. In the end it was an unbelievable experience, and an absolute highlight of my career. There is a massive difference to MotoGP. The limited visibility was a great challenge, in particular, to begin with. You feel a lot more constricted in the cockpit. The braking distances and timing in turns is completely different. A Formula 1 car has much more downforce, of course, which made for a lot of fun in the part of the circuit with the most turns, in particular.”

These were similar sentiments shared by both Pedrosa and Cairoli, with the latter also needing to understand the big differences in speed and grip compared to the much slower nature of motocross, where sliding and losing traction is a way of life.

Of Marquez’s performance, Weber was hugely impressed. “He (Marquez) was really quiet still at breakfast. As soon as he got into the cockpit, he was 100 per cent focused and delivered a top performance on the race track. Formula 1 and MotoGP are two completely different things. Marc made my job as an instructor very easy though. He always asked the right questions and improved lap by lap.”

Also on hand was Red Bull Motorsports’ boss Helmut Marko, who was also quick to complement Marquez’s performance. “To put that kind of performance in within such a short time says everything about his huge talent. In the coming years he is going to break a lot more records in MotoGP. Maybe after that, Formula 1 will actually be a possibility. Up to now only a few exceptional talents, such as John Surtees, have managed to compete in both racing series. Marc also has what it takes. Today definitely wasn’t the last time he will sit in a Formula 1 car.”

See Marquez’s driving abilities in the video below, and watch until the end to hear his thoughts on the experience. A full gallery of Marquez, Pedrosa, and Cairoli can be found below the video.

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