Church of MO: 2008 Literbike Shootout

May 27, 2018 John Burns 0

Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand.

What does any of this mean? Nobody knows, but here’s Herr Duke and company’s Open-class shootout from a decade ago, tiny photos by Fonzie.

2008 Literbike Shootout: ZX-10R Vs CBR1000RR Vs GSX-R1000 Vs YZF-R1

All In

Kids. For every hard-working junior scholar in the world, there’s probably four or five little hooligans who prefer to walk on the wild side. You know, the kids who race their Big Wheels down steep hills, poke bee hives, throw rocks at dogs or joy-ride their mom’s car at 15.The OEMs are grateful for these kinds of kids, as they are the prime demographic for the quartet of outrageously fast and capable machines assembled here.

Does anyone need a bike with an insane power-to-weight ratio that exceeds million-dollar cars? No! But is there a large group of adult-aged kids with a ravenous appetite for adrenaline? Hell, yeah!

‘They are essentially production racebikes, including only a smattering of street equipment to make them road legal.’

And so we have a group of bikes in which the weakest of the bunch pumps out 154 horsepower at the rear wheel, all neatly packaged inside wheelbases tighter than 55.7 inches. They are essentially production racebikes, including only a smattering of street equipment to make them road legal.

The GSX-R1000 is a dominating presence in racing for a reason. The highly-refined package of a superb chassis and an engine with meaty torque and a potent top-end is a powerful combo.The GSX-R1000 is a dominating presence in racing for a reason. The highly-refined package of a superb chassis and an engine with meaty torque and a potent top-end is a powerful combo.

Though maybe not a favorite on the street, the venerable R1 is a serious force on the track. The R1 engine screams at the top of its rev range, has good brakes and excellent handling.Though maybe not a favorite on the street, the venerable R1 is a serious force on the track. The R1 engine screams at the top of its rev range, has good brakes and excellent handling.

Headlining this group is the mighty Suzuki GSX-R1000, a perennial leader in the literbike category. It’s won more shootouts than Billy the Kid, and its Superbike cousins have taken victories in each of the past 32 races of the AMA Superbike series. It was heavily revised for 2007, adding some top-end power along with some extra pounds, and it came up just short of winning’s 2007 Literbike Shootout.

The Gixxer remains a potent package. Its hell-strong motor battles for top honors with a combination of strong bottom-end thrust and shrieking power up top. Its race-bred chassis is almost beyond reproach, boasting a near-perfect amalgam of agility and stability. And if you’re the type of owner who can’t leave well enough alone, the GSX-R has the most plentiful aftermarket support, whether your playground is a racetrack or the fat-tire world of burger joints and bike shows.

Last year’s winner came from the Honda camp, as our testers judged it to be the most complete package that made it the best option for street riders while being manageable and cooperative on the racetrack. That’s nice, but Honda threw away that model and replaced it with a ground-up re-do in 2008. Introduced at the glorious Laguna Seca circuit, the overhauled CBR thrilled us with its newfound power and its lightweight and responsive new chassis. It was obvious back then that the new Honda would again be contending for top honors.

This new CBR performed well no matter which venue we threw it in. On the street, we enjoyed its punchy powerband and reasonably comfortable ergos. But don’t get the idea this is some sort of CBR-F model, as its RR lineage shone brightly during our day lapping the newly renamed California Speedway, now Auto Club Speedway, as its compact stature and sharp steering geometry allowed it to be briskly hustled through the track’s dozens of turns and chicanes.

Kawasaki had a bigger hill to climb in ’08. Last year in our comparo the ZX-10R finished fourth of four, despite its monster motor that never failed to make our eyes water like a tween at a Jonas Brothers concert. It had bulked up with its 2006 revision, both in weight and in size, causing it to win few converts in this elite class. Lucky for us (and Kawi), they threw out the baby with the bathwater and gave birth to a new sports bike in ’08.

This new 10R is more compact than before and feels more taut, but still with knockout punch from its thoroughly revised mill. It’s also notable for its KIMS (Kawasaki Ignition Management System) traction-enhancing (don’t call it traction control!) software, which we first sampled during the bike’s introduction at the Losail circuit in Qatar late last year. The most obvious change is the Ninja’s sharp-edged styling that polarizes opinions.

Yamaha returns to the ring with its sexy YZF-R1 virtually unchanged from ’07. The notable difference is a new computer brain that eliminates the ghosts-in-the-machine stumble in second gear at 5500 rpm of last year’s U.S.-spec bike, which was a no-cost retrofit to affected early-production ’07s. The R1 is otherwise unchanged except for color options, like the new gloss/matte two-tone Candy Red combo.

If this were a poker tournament, the OEMs would be “All In.”
Although unchanged mechanically, the R1 has some high-tech gadgetry the others don’t, such as the throttle-by-wire and variable-length intake trumpets it gained last year. A slipper clutch was also added to the YZF’s standard equipment list in ’07. The R1 has always been a looker, and it’s still a favorite among some of our testers, but even Claudia Schiffer levels of style get a little stale eventually. The Yamaha’s undertail exhaust, formerly one of the bike world’s must-have features, now stands alone in the contemporary literbike class (with the exception of the Ducati 1098).

Last year’s test was subtitled “A Thin Line,” as the capabilities of the four Japanese literbikes had grown so vast that there weren’t many notable differences between them. Despite two revamped contenders, it’s a similar story in 2008. If this were a poker tournament, the OEMs would be “All In.”

To give the bikes as comprehensive evaluation as possible, our trio of staffers was aided by three test riders. Steve “Speed” Kelly took part in last year’s comparo, so he was an obvious choice. Jeff Buchanan recently took us inside Jay Leno’s garage and wrote our profile on debutante bike builder Roland Sands, and while we were paying his invoice we roped him into joining us at the racetrack and for a pair of street rides. A new recruit to MO is Alexandra Bongart, a sportbikin’ lady who rides her own Gixxer 600. She handily upped the attractiveness scale of our test monkeys.

For maximum objectivity, we decided to score this shootout by the cumulative sum of scores over 12 categories that encompass the things we care about in a motorcycle. Note that half the name “motorcycle” refers to an engine, so you can understand why we score it out of 20 points compared to the maximum of 10 in the other categories.

With incredible mid-range stonk, the CBR can do this almost at will.With incredible mid-range stonk, the CBR can do this almost at will.

Our good buddy Jeff Buchanan thought the Gixxer is just as amenable to everyday street use as it is a brilliantly honed track weapon.Our good buddy Jeff Buchanan thought the Gixxer is just as amenable to everyday street use as it is a brilliantly honed track weapon.

The R1 has many outstanding qualities, but its relative lack of low-end power was seen as a negative for everyday street use. And that, whether we like to admit it or not, is where most of these bikes will see the majority of their miles.The R1 has many outstanding qualities, but its relative lack of low-end power was seen as a negative for everyday street use. And that, whether we like to admit it or not, is where most of these bikes will see the majority of their miles.

(power, tractability, response, user-friendliness, vibration)

1. CBR1000RR – 98%

2. ZX-10R – 92%

3. GSX-R – 90%

4. YZF-R1 – 78%

Yep, the Honda’s new mill is a gem, specifically its hard-hitting midrange power that a rider can use during each run through the gears. The others put up bigger numbers on the top end, but those extra 4 horsepower (or less) can rarely be accessed. The CBR’s middle-rev grunt is vastly superior to the others in this test, and the CBR handily dusts its contemporaries in any roll-on contests. It’s the only bike in this group to unintentionally wheelie when exiting Auto Club Speedways Turn 6, demonstrating its torque superiority. Its 78.2 lb-ft is not only the highest, more importantly, it also has a huge advantage from 5500 to 8000 rpm and remains the torquiest all the way to 10,000 revs.  “This simply makes it the best mill for the street,” says Senior Editor Pete Brissette.

That said, the CBR’s engine isn’t quite perfect. Its low-end response is soft, perhaps due to its exhaust flapper valve that doesn’t open until 4500 revs and is audible when it does. Slow-speed maneuvering such as when lane-splitting can fool with the Ignition Interrupt Control system, which otherwise does a fine job at smoothing throttle transitions in its parameter below 6000 revs. The Idle Air Control Valve in its fuel-injection system eases transitions when opening and closing the throttle, helping make this heady engine astonishingly undemanding.

The ZX-10R continues the long tradition Kawasaki has earned for monster motors. On the dyno, the Ninja spat out 157.74 hp (to SAE standards), just edging the formidable Gixxer for the top producer in this quartet. Conversely, the ZX has the lowest torque output, although 73.9 ft-lbs is nothing to sneeze at. On the high banks of ACS, the ZX’s speedometer showed a max of 181 mph, which was higher than the others. “The ZX-10 has a great motor,” says Buchanan. “It really feels like it pulls with great punch right off of idle, despite the dyno begging to differ.” One extra tooth on a new rear sprocket aids torque multiplication, especially at street speeds.

The Kawi engine has a split personality. It’s rough and vibey below 4000 rpm and doesn’t have much grunt. Then it magically smoothes out and, by 5000 revs, it’s ready for blast off. Vibes are worst below 3000 rpm, buzzing the fairing and ignition key coarsely. Throttle transitions are exceptionally smooth. It’s difficult to say how well the KIMS works; by the end of our trackday the ZX’s rear Bridgestone BT-016 was regularly drifting under acceleration, though it was doing so in a controllable manner. KIMS is obviously not true traction control, but it does seem to make this rorty powerband easier to manage.

The GSX-R’s powerplant is in some ways superior to the Ninja’s, posting nearly equal peak power (157.65 ponies) while offering best-in-group thrust below 5000 rpm, in part due to the most undersquare bore/stroke ratio. “Its easy access to its torque makes this a sensible streetbike for as sensible as a modern literbike can be,” says Brissette. Indeed, Suzuki’s Dual Throttle Valve fuel injection offers near seamless response along with its wailing top end. Suzuki’s Drive Mode Selector, offering three levels of power output via a bar-mounted switch, was deemed gimmicky by our testers and was rarely sampled. Might be good in the rain…

Speed Kelly, who last year ranked the Gixxer tops when he rode it on the street, became a convert to Team Green after romping around ACS. In that environment, he judged the GSX-R’s engine as being a few points down from the tractable ZX and its banshee surge to its power peak. Still, the Gixxer motor is a formidable mill and operates without any glitches, but the Honda rules all from 5000 to 10,000 rpm, right where it counts.

Anyone who has ridden the compelling Yamaha YZF-R1 knows its considerable charms, and if they haven’t ridden these other literbikes back to back, they’ll certainly take issue with our score for the R1’s engine. But jumping from one bike to another reveals the Yamaha’s relative dearth of midrange power. You’ll have to take our word for it, a feeling that is reinforced empirically via our dyno runs made at Area P, a SoCal exhaust manufacturer and fabrication shop.

Simply put, there’s not really anywhere in the R1’s powerband that it outclasses any of its rivals, and it’s especially soggy around 7000 rpm despite variable-length intake snorkels that should do a better job at boosting midrange power before opening at 10,400 rpm. “Midrange revs are not where the Yamaha wants to be,” notes Speed Kelly about the engine with the most oversquare bore/stroke. “Although it has awesome power and drive, the fueling lower down the rev range is finicky and really spoiled what is a great bike.” A few of the crew also commented on the R1’s occasional abrupt response when reapplying throttle. This motor is still a ripper, but it’s now the tail-ender in this esteemed group.

(clutch actuation/modulation, shift ease, precision, slipper clutch)

1. CBR1000RR – 94%

1. ZX-10R – 94%

3. GSX-R1000 – 90%

4. YZF-R1 – 84%

The CBR completes its lofty powertrain marks with the easiest-to-modulate clutch and a snick-snick transmission that makes dialing through the gears a breeze. They’re augmented by Honda’s Ignition Interrupt Control technology that eases drivetrain lash. “The tranny is so slick that, even though I know I moved the lever, I could barely feel each shift,” Brissette gushes. Honda’s first mass-market slipper clutch is nearly as smooth as the class-leading ZX.

In this category, the Kawasaki traded top marks with the CBR among our cadre of testers. This is the best gearbox yet offered on a ZX-10R, with light, precise shifts and the best back-torque-limiting clutch in the biz. The Suzuki received no specific complaints from our crew, but it received no special kudos, either. Bringing up the rear is the Yamaha. Its clutch engages only at the end of its travel, it’s hampered by a tall first gear, and its slipper clutch engages more harshly that the others here.

Again, Alex appreciated the more-compact ergos of the CBR, likening it to the Gixxer's fit. Guess it's a good thing we brought along a sensible woman.Again, Alex appreciated the more-compact ergos of the CBR, likening it to the Gixxer’s fit. Guess it’s a good thing we brought along a sensible woman.

(quickness, feedback, stability, confidence)

1. CBR1000RR – 96%

2. YZF-R1 – 90%

2. GSX-R1000 – 90%

4. ZX-10R – 88%

The CBR wowed us again in this important category, boasting the seemingly incongruous qualities of agility and stability. With the steepest rake (23.3 degrees), the least trail (96mm) and the shortest wheelbase (55.4 inches), it’s no surprise that the CBR dices up corners most like a 600. But such geometry can be a recipe for a head-shaking beast. The RR gets away with it thanks to its electronic steering stabilizer that increases damping force in relation to velocity, gear selection and throttle position. It provides stability at butt-puckering speeds while allowing for swift direction changes at more modest rates of travel. It only becomes slightly detrimental at high speeds, such as AC Speedway’s Turn 1 chicane at about 125 mph, where its restricted damping makes steering more laborious. Honda continues its intense quest for mass centralization, eschewing the old underseat muffler for one that exits under the engine. The CBR’s ace in the hole is a fueled-up weight about 25 pounds less than its competitors (and 17 lbs fewer than last year).

“Straight away, the CBR instills you with confidence, allowing you to just get on with riding as quick as your ability will allow,” raved Brit-boy Kelly.

The R1 and GSX-R got to their identical scores in slightly different ways. The GSX-R geometry is only incrementally looser than the CBR’s in all three measurements, so the Suzi also does a good job at unraveling twisty roads. “Direction changes are fast and clean,” says Buchanan, “with the bike tackling corner entrances and turns with a kind of hyper finesse.” Its steering damper also adjusts electronically but it’s not as sophisticated as the excellent Honda unit. Regardless, the Suzuki’s handling is very composed. “It has good front-end feedback,” Pete suggests. “It holds a line very well, and the chassis isn’t ever upset by hack riding or mid-corner sloppiness.”

Despite its long feeling and moderate steering geometry, the R1 is endowed with quick steering qualities thanks to a wide, flat handlebar position. But its best attribute is its secure feeling when banked into a turn, allied by a steering damper that gets clamped down hard only during headshake scenarios. “The Yamaha has a beautiful temperament when it comes to handling,” comments Buchanan. “It’s like a Ducati, with very graceful manners – stable and smooth.”

The ZX-10R tailed the pack only slightly. Kawi’s new chassis has gone the opposite direction from Honda, now with a surprisingly lazy 25.5-degree rake and a generous 110mm of trail; its 55.7-inch wheelbase is identical to the Gixxer and R1. This would indicate sluggish handling, but that’s not the case. “Corner entry is excellent, and mid-corner it was super stable,” enthuses Kelly, our strongest proponent of the Ninja. Revised chassis rigidity results in confident transitions, and I was particularly impressed with the feedback from the ZX’s front end on the track. Others, like Pete, weren’t as confident with the Ninja, although he did allow that it is dramatically better than the previous model. The green meanie proved to be a bit finicky to set up. Headshake while accelerating over Turn 10 at ACS was dialed out by ace wrench Joey Lombardo via the addition of a 6mm shim to the rear shock and adjusting damper settings; the shim was removed to revert to the stock ride height for our street testing, and we wonder if the ZX would’ve scored higher if we left it in. The Ohlins steering damper uses Kawi-specific settings, which are softer than a typical race damper.

Steve "Speed" Kelly was in love with the new Ninja. Who can blame him?Steve “Speed” Kelly was in love with the new Ninja. Who can blame him?

Next to the stretched out R1, the Gixxer suited the 6-foot Buchanan the best. Adjustable footpegs is a desirable feature only the Suzuki has.Next to the stretched out R1, the Gixxer suited the 6-foot Buchanan the best. Adjustable footpegs is a desirable feature only the Suzuki has.

Though the Ninja's performance is unquestionable, Pete wasn't too keen on the new, origami-inspired styling.Though the Ninja’s performance is unquestionable, Pete wasn’t too keen on the new, origami-inspired styling.

As Pete says, Honda not only make CBRs to win at the track, they also make them very livable on the street.As Pete says, Honda not only make CBRs to win at the track, they also make them very livable on the street.

(power, modulation, initial bite, feedback)

1. ZX-10R – 98%

2. CBR1000RR – 94%

3. YZF-R1 – 92%

4. GSX-R1000 – 82%

All bikes in this echelon offer eyeball-popping deceleration via triple-disc brakes, radial-pump master cylinders and radially mounted multi-piston calipers, but the Kawi’s package received outstanding marks from our testers from its combination of 310mm petal-shaped rotors and differential-bore 4-piston Tokico calipers. Pete summed it up by saying, “Best brakes of the group – most power and best feel.” The Honda’s one-piece Tokico calipers were a close runner-up, losing out only for a slight lack of initial bite.

The R1’s brake package, with a Brembo radial master cylinder and 310mm discs, also was rated highly, but the only 6-piston calipers of the group don’t provide the acuity of feel as the best in class. The Gixxers brakes are no slouch, but in this group they proved to be lacking. Our testers didn’t like pulling through a weak midpoint in lever travel before accessing the bulk of their power.

(legibility, features, attractiveness)

1. ZX-10R – 94%

2. CBR1000RR – 86%

2. GSX-R1000 – 86%

4. YZF-R1 – 84%

Each bike here contains a stylishly compact gauge pack with programmable shift lights, dual tripmeters, clock and an easy-to-read LCD speedometer. After several years of bitching about the 10R’s hard to read gauges, the Kawi engineers finally got this one right. Revs on its analog tach are highly legible, and its handy gear-position indicator is matched only by the Suzuki. The CBR’s gauges provide fuel economy figures but no gear indicator, and its LCD displays numbers too small to be read at a glance. The Gixxer gets docked marks for its plain design and lack of a lap timer. The R1 instruments are among the most attractive, but some of our testers would’ve appreciated a gear indicator.

(overall layout)

1. CBR1000RR – 92%

2. GSX-R1000 – 90%

3. ZX-10R – 84%

3. YZF-R1 – 84%

The scores in this category were all over the map and were dependant on the size of the rider, as was the comfort of the seat pads. Overall, the Honda was judged to be best ergonomic compromise with its small, easy-to-handle size, a 1.2-inch narrower midsection than previous and a relatively comfortable handlebar position and seat height. The Gixxer has a similar ergo package and gets bonus points for having adjustable footpeg positions, but not everyone liked the swept-back position of its clip-ons.

The R1 and ZX lie at opposed ends of the spectrum. Even though the Ninja’s 32.7-inch seat height is the tallest of the bunch, it has a cramped seat-to-peg distance similar to the CBR, so taller riders like the six-foot Buchanan preferred the roomier layout of the R1. “Its cockpit and pegs are laid out in such a way that my knees were least affected. This translated into less pain, more endurance, and therefore, faster laps on the track. For me, few things can replace comfort.”

Although Jeffers appreciated the longer reach to the bars and pegs rear-set further than the others, our shorter testers found it least comfortable. Pick your poison. None of these machines offer much in the way of wind protection, but the Gixxer is the best in this regard. Rearward images through the mirrors are only adequate, with no bike offering a clear advantage.

We wish more literbikes would follow Honda's lead in the exhaust department. This design keeps the look clean and lowers the C of G.We wish more literbikes would follow Honda’s lead in the exhaust department. This design keeps the look clean and lowers the C of G.

(control, comfort, ease of adjustments)

1. CBR1000RR – 94%

2. ZX-10R – 92%

2. GSX-R1000 – 92%

4. YZF-R1 – 90%

Modern literbike suspension is so good that there was little to differentiate the bikes from another, and the suspension quality depends so much on their set-ups. The Honda gets the nod here for its benign baseline that feels buttoned down without being harsh. A few clicks out on its compression damping made is relatively supply on the street, and its ramped preload adjuster on the shock makes for quick adjustments. It doesn’t seem to suffer from its lack of separate high- and low-speed compression damping adjustments as seen on some of the others.

The Gixxer and ZX tied in this category. The Ninja’s suspension was deemed to be suppler while being well controlled, but it was more finicky with its setup. The GSX-R, conversely, was very composed no matter the riding environment. Both have DLC coatings on their fork tubes for a minimum of stiction, so they react readily to small bumps. Both also have a locking-ring-type shock preload adjuster that complicate setting the correct amount of sag. Conversely, the R1 has a ramped preload adjuster (like the CBR) that can quickly be fiddled with on the roadside.

A drawback on the ZX-10R for Jeff, who stands 6 feet, was the tight seat-to-peg relation. Even Pete and Kevin, both shorter than Jeff by at least one fathom, felt the Ninja would be a good candidate for adjustable rearsets.A drawback on the ZX-10R for Jeff, who stands 6 feet, was the tight seat-to-peg relation. Even Pete and Kevin, both shorter than Jeff by at least one fathom, felt the Ninja would be a good candidate for adjustable rearsets.

Though it has funky mirrors and signals, it still turns like a champ.Though it has funky mirrors and signals, it still turns like a champ.

Fit and Finish
(how well is it put together, etc)

1. CBR1000RR – 98%

2. YZF-R1 – 88%

3. ZX-10R – 82%

3. GSX-R1000 – 82%

Another clear victory for the CBR. Honda has turned out a package that looks more expensive than its rivals. Notable details include the Honda badge inset into the fuel tank cover, the embossed CBR1000RR logo on the fairing’s side panels, and attractive mirrors that incorporate turnsignals and subtle LED running lights. But no matter where you look, the Honda’s detail work is second to none.

Some of our testers believe the R1 is beginning to look a little dated, but there’s no questioning its excellent fit and finish, as is typical of recent Yamahas. Some of the ZX’s details are exemplary, such as its black-anodized foot controls, but others, like the bulky and plastic hugger fender, look cheap. The Gixxer’s detailing is satisfactory, but its finish quality doesn’t match the high standards set by Honda and Yamaha.

(self explanatory)

1. CBR1000RR – 90%

2. YZF-R1 – 86%

3. GSX-R1000 – 84%

4. ZX-10R – 80%

Being a purely subjective category, your mileage may vary, but we have a diverse bunch of opinions that result from long looks over the bikes from every possible perspective, so they count for something. The CBR again scored highest, with a compact stature that shows its dim relation to a MotoGP bike. “The Honda is extremely clean and tidy,” Buchanan relates. He adds that he likes the snout of the under-slung exhaust, but not all our testers were on board with his opinion of the controversially styled exhaust. Some of us also weren’t too keen on the CBR’s headlight treatment, preferring the mask-like design of the previous iteration. The maroon/silver two-tone scheme of our RR might not be its most attractive outfit, although Pete dug it.

Second-place marks for the R1 demonstrates the enduring nature of its relatively old design – it still looks sharp. Although its underseat titanium mufflers might be a little passé these days, they look cool (even though cool is the last thing on your mind when they’re cooking your butt in summertime traffic). The Gixxer drew mixed scores, with some lamenting a too-familiar appearance, especially in Suzuki’s traditional blue/white color scheme. Pete wasn’t alone in comments about his distaste for the looks of the dual exhaust canisters. Not that many preferred the Kawi muffler’s kitschy angular megaphone design, nor its oddball turnsignals set into the mirror stalks. Buchanan and others liked its menacing countenance, while others complained about the cross-eyed look of its close-set headlights.

Cool Factor
(desirability, poser value, extra features)

1. CBR1000RR – 94%

2. ZX-10R – 88%

3. GSX-R1000 – 86%

4. YZF-R1 – 84%

To our crew’s collective eyes, the CBR1000RR comes off as something special, and it’s a feeling that’s reinforced by riding it. And with more acronyms than the NY stock exchange (HESD, IIC, IACV, etc.), it comes loaded with special features. The distinctive yet funky Ninja and the racy Gixxer fought over second place. The 10R’s KIMS was deemed a more worthy feature than the GSX-R’s S-DMS. The Yamaha is no doubt cool, but it doesn’t offer any special features the others don’t.

Grin Factor
(how big a smile it puts on your face)

1. CBR1000RR – 94%

1. GSX-R1000 – 94%

3. ZX-10R – 90%

4. YZF-R1 – 76%

Another subjective category, but few things are as important as this one. In fact, we wouldn’t blame you for deciding on a bike based solely on this criterion. The Honda stands out for its stonkin’ midrange power and its middleweight-like handling. The Gixxer’s mega motor, its visceral intake snort and composed chassis made us smile. “There’s something about the way the GSX-R makes its power that endows it with a rawness that gives the bike character and is fun in that way,” says our boy Petey.

The ZX-10R makes our lips turn up for its pure bad-assedness. Meanwhile, the poor R1 gets backmarker scores because of its relative lack of accessible torque, a tall first gear and an exhaust system that creates rump roast. Our shorter testers weren’t fond of its stretched-out ergos.


1. GSX-R1000 ($11,499) – 100%

2. ZX-10R ($11,549) – 98%

3. CBR1000RR (11,599) – 96%

4. YZF-R1 ($11,699) – 94%

Although there’s less than a 2% difference in MSRPs, we gave top marks to the lowest entry price. The Gixxer ensures its place at the top by including a seat cowl piece as standard equipment while the other OEMs charge extra for it. Kudos to Kawasaki for not charging extra for the clear-coated pinstriping on the wheels of green ZXs that are said to cost the manufacturer an extra 100 clams.

I'm not writin' any of this shootout, see!I’m not writin’ any of this shootout, see!

The Final Tally

First Place

Honda CBR1000RR – 94.2%
view bike specs

Honda came out swinging for 2008. The CBR1000RR continues the Honda tradition of epitomizing refinement. Simply the most mid-range power of all four makes the bike from Big Red very easy to ride, but a wild beast lies just beneath the surface.Honda came out swinging for 2008. The CBR1000RR continues the Honda tradition of epitomizing refinement. Simply the most mid-range power of all four makes the bike from Big Red very easy to ride, but a wild beast lies just beneath the surface.

Honda’s new CBR raises the bar in the literbike class. It’s the most responsive, it has the best powerband, it’s the easiest to handle and it’s the coolest of the bunch. “Everything about the Honda is just so perfect – brakes, midrange power, stability,” raved Kelly. “It’s pure genius when a bike can be designed that makes going so fast feel almost mundane.”

Buchanan concurred, saying, “If I had to pick a winner based on all fronts, it would have to be the Honda. It possesses a space-tech type of performance that is outstanding. Definitely the most user-friendly of the bunch in the real world (i.e. back roads, freeway, stop and go, and the occasional trackday). The bike performs in all the categories with unequaled consistency.”

 Highs:  Sighs:
  • Big power at usable revs
  • Scalpel-like handling
  • Fresh design
  • A tight fit for big boyz and girlz
  • Awkward styling at some angles
  • Is a gear-position indicator too much to ask?
The Perfect Bike For…
A race-rep for those who value a nimble chassis, accessible power and Honda-typical quality.


Second Place

Kawasaki ZX-10R – 90.3%
view bike specs

Who dat?Who dat?

Kawasaki really raised its game with the new 10R, going from back of the pack to contending for victory. It, like the CBR, is amazingly easy to ride for machines that can turn animalistic when unleashed. “Everything about the bike is taut and crisp,” raved Speed Kelly, the Kawi’s biggest fan. “It’s very racer-like in nature yet still user-friendly, almost Honda-like in feel. It went from zero to hero in my book, and if forced to choose an overall winner, it would have to be the bike I most wanted to ride again at the track: the ZX-10.”

The ZX’s problem is that not all our testers warmed to its brutish charms. While Steve fell in love with the Kawi at the track, the ZX also had its detractors who couldn’t warm to its styling or its tight ergos that became bothersome during long street stints.

 Highs:  Sighs:
  • Huge leap forward over the previous model
  • Rocket-like top-end thrust
  • A trackday delight
  • Oddball styling
  • Tight ergonomics
  • Buzzy fairing panels
The Perfect Bike For…
Team Green disciples who have been waiting for one of the best racetrack weapons available thanks to its user-friendliness for such a monster.

Third Place

Suzuki GSX-R1000 – 89.1%
view bike specs

Alex, the only girl brave enough to suffer a group of mutant dudes, echoed Pete's sentiments that the GSX-R is easy to ride thanks in part to its overall trim and smaller feel.Alex, the only girl brave enough to suffer a group of mutant dudes, echoed Pete’s sentiments that the GSX-R is easy to ride thanks in part to its overall trim and smaller feel.

Although Suzuki won’t be happy with a third-place finish, the two-year-old Gixxer posted solid scores that were barely beaten by the fresh-design Ninja. This bike just flat-out works, and if you dig the way it looks, you’ll feel blessed to be in its saddle. “With its narrow waist and overall slim package, the Gixxer feels like a bike half its displacement,” says Brissette. “It’s a literbike that feels like a 600 or 750 when you sit on it.”

The Suzuki’s only bottom-ranked score was for its brakes, which are nonetheless quite good. “I still think the GSX-R makes a superb streetbike/canyon carver and trackday bike,” notes Kelly. “It just seems to lack the response and flickability of its newer cousins.”

 Highs:  Sighs:
  • Excellent chassis composure
  • Engine that romps down low and up high
  • Major aftermarket support
  • Stale styling
  • Relatively mediocre brakes
  • Heavyweight of the group
The Perfect Bike For…
A racer or customizer who wants to capitalize on the GSX-R’s well-earned rep as a top-dog sportbike.

Fourth Place

Yamaha YZF-R1 – 85.2%
view bike specs

The R1's top-end-biased power is a drawback on the street, but it performs as well as anything on the track.The R1’s top-end-biased power is a drawback on the street, but it performs as well as anything on the track.

During one of our last rides on these bikes, I muttered inside my helmet that it’s hard to believe a bike this good could be ranked fourth. Its tall first gear works well on tight canyon roads, it emits a cool burble from the undertail exhaust on the overrun and it transmits good feedback from the front tire. Its only notable shortcoming is its engine’s relative lack of responsiveness and a clutch and transmission that aren’t very street-friendly. “The Yamaha just needs a little more midrange and some fueling issues fixed to be a contender,” Kelly allows.

But there’s still much to like here, including its stable handling and styling that some think is the best in class. “Initiating a turn happens easily and the bike holds a line brilliantly,” says Petey. “It was the easiest and most confidence-inspiring to ride on a track that was new to me.” Yamaha’s saving grace is that an all-new design is expected for ’09.

 Highs:  Sighs:
  • Japanese for “sexy”
  • Tenacious line-holder
  • Roomy ergos
  • Weak midrange power
  • Street-unfriendly gearing and clutch
  • Cool exhaust is actually hot
The Perfect Bike For…
A rider who falls in love with its looks and doesn’t sample the others in this group.

Related Reading
2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R Preview
2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R Review
2008 Honda CBR1000RR Review
2007 Literbike Shootout
2006 Open Superbike Shootout
2007 Yamaha R1 Review
2008 Suzuki GSX-R600 Review
2008 Yamaha R6 Review

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New Can-Am Spyder Design Revealed in Patent Filings

May 26, 2018 Dennis Chung 0

Bombardier Recreational Products has filed for patent designs for what appears to be a new Can-Am Spyder. The patents, at least five in all, show various aspects of the vehicle’s bodywork. They were filed on March 20 with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, but only published and fully registered today.

The new design has much sharper edges than the current Spyder models and looks somewhat like the lovechild of a Ducati Diavel and a snowmobile. The side body panels look a little like those on the discontinued Spyder RS model, but the large front grille looks like the one on the Spyder F3. The scoops on either side of the headlight unit also look similar to the F3 from the side, but the front view shows they are much narrower.

It’s difficult to judge the design’s proportions from these illustrations, but judging by the rise in the tank and the level of the swingarm, the seat height looks to be much lower than the Spyder F3’s already low 26.6 inches.

The Spyder F3 already has a fairly low seat height at 26.6 inches. The seat in the new design looks even lower, judging from how the fuel tank rises directly in front of it before sloping downwards. From the side views, there appears to be a gap running through the middle of the hump, and from the overhead view, there appears to be a small latch. There’s no sign of a fuel port, so it’s possible it’s hidden under this cover.

The dotted lines indicate other parts of the overall design that are not included in this particular patent filing. Interestingly, the dotted lines on the left side look much different from the right side. It’s possible one of those scoops is an actual air intake while the other one is merely decorative.

The swingarm appears to be a single-sided unit, which would be new to the Spyder line. Unfortunately, because the patents are only for the bodywork, we can’t see how the rear suspension system is connected. Existing Can-Am Spyders are belt-driven but studying the picture above, it’s plausible this could be shaft-driven, thus creating a virtually maintenance-free drive system, which would surely appeal to Spyder owners or the Spy-curious.

Above the swingarm, the design shows a solo seat but no tail, suggesting a bobber-inspired look. One of the other patents, however, appears to be a tail unit with panels that look like rear lighting, a plate holder and a spot for the BRP emblem. It’s hard to see how this would fit behind the low seat, however, and still leave enough clearance for the rear wheel.

The patents don’t specify which element of the design this part is for but the curve at the top looks like it would fit right under the seat. The dotted circle is an obvious fit for BRP’s round logo while the shapes to either side look like rear lighting.

Until now, BRP has kept a fairly simple nomenclature for its Spyder models. Since dropping the “Roadster” part of the name for 2013, Spyder models were identified by simple letter and number designations: RT, RS, and more recently F3 (plus various Limited, S or T variants). That may change with this new model, as BRP filed trademark applications in December with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the names “Ryker” and “Spyke,” both for use for “recreational vehicles namely, three-wheeled motorized vehicles and structural parts therefor.” The USPTO found some potential conflicts with both names, actually suspending the application for the “Ryker” name. The USPTO also refused the application for the “Spyke” name, but is giving BRP the chance to argue its case or revise the filing.

Can-Am Spyders have a small storage compartment in the front section in front of the headlight unit. For existing Spyder models, the cover is a smooth, curved surface resembling a car’s hood. The cover on the new design looks more like something you’d seen on a Can-Am side-by-side or a Ski-Doo snowmobile.

There are a few important elements left out of the design. Apart from the wheels and suspension, there’s no indication where the hand controls are located. There are no openings in the bodywork to show how handlebars would connect to the front end. From the patent filings, we know there are at least two more elements that were filed but have yet to be revealed, so the answers may lie there. Another possibility is that this design is for a concept model with a more practical production model to come further down the line.

Hopefully, we’ll have some more information in the weeks to come. Check back here on for the latest details as it becomes available.

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2019 Honda CRF450L VS. X VS. R Spec Sheet Shootout

May 26, 2018 admin 0

If you haven’t already heard by now, Honda set the motorcycle industry on fire Wednesday with the announcement of its 2019 CRF off-road, motocross and dual-sport – yes, you read that right – dual-sport model lineup. While upgrades and improvements to current models are always exciting and welcomed news, the announcement of the all-new CRF450L is something that really took us by surprise, and ought to make some big waves in the motorcycle world.

2019 Honda CRF Off-Road, Motocross and Dual-Sport Model Line First Look

Honda has always been known as one of, if not the most conservative manufacturers, so for Big Red to step out and break the mold like this is pretty awesome. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, I think Honda has played a role in just about every rider’s story and their introduction to motorcycling in one way or another. Growing up on XRs and then CRFs, It certainly did for me.

2019 Honda CRF450L

Having the ability to legally ride on- and off-road, as any dual-sport rider can attest to, is a big deal, and it truly opens up a world of opportunities. You can now go basically wherever you want. No one likes getting stopped by the police, told they can’t be somewhere, or worse, getting their bike impounded for not being street-legal – ask me how I know. The beauty of the CRF450L, though, is that unlike other dual-sports on the market (save for the KTM EXC-F and Husqvarna FE models) like the Suzuki DR-Z400, DR650, Kawasaki KLR650 or Honda XR650L, the 450L has more actual dirtbike DNA than the others. This essentially translates to higher performance capabilities.

Check out the spec sheet comparing the 2019 Honda CRF450R, X and L below. You’ll notice that, for the most part, all the fundamentals are the same.

The only main differences are the R’s compression ratio; 13.5:1 compared to the X and L’s 12.0:1, the various tires and each bike’s weight – which is mostly accounted for by the headlights, turn signals and heavier, EPA-compliant exhausts. The meat and bones of all three bikes are essentially the same, but each is tweaked and tuned differently for its own purpose.

The X and L have six-speed transmissions (which is one more cog than last year’s X), versus the R’s five, and the steering geometry is slightly different, but that’s to be expected for the quicker-steering R motocrosser. Here’s why all this is important and the real reason why we’re excited: At 289 lbs., the CRF450L ain’t no pig…

XR650L: 346 lbs. -> +57 lbs.

CRF250L: 317.5 lbs. -> +28.5 lbs.

KLR650: 432 lbs. -> +143 lbs.

KLX250: 304 lbs. -> +15 lbs.

DR650: 366 lbs. -> +77 lbs.

DR-Z400: 317 lbs. -> +28 lbs.

2019 Honda CRF450L

Off-roading not really your thing? It could be, and you just don’t know it yet. Or, imagine the 450L with 17-inch supermoto wheels and tires. Are we getting warmer yet?

The CRF450L is lighter than even the two smallest 250cc dual-sports mentioned above. On the asphalt, you won’t notice the weight as much, but on the trail is another story. For the more hardcore dual-sport guys, the 450L can get even lighter with the removal of all the EPA stuff like the charcoal canister and heavy muffler, and that’s not to mention the performance gains you’ll get in return – a win-win if you ask me. While we don’t recommend or endorse doing that, it will be the first thing any true off-roader or prospective buyer would do. I know I would, and maybe even plan to now… Who knows?

The aforementioned dual-sports can tackle most light off-roading and fire roads with ease and more moderate terrain in stockish trim, too – sure, why not? – but the CRF450L should be able to hang with the real dirtbikes through the gnarly stuff, no problem. Before you say the other bikes can do what real dirtbikes can do, know that for the most part I agree with you, and yes, the XR650 has dominated Baja in the past. Any bike in the right hands is capable of just about anything. I’ve even seen an XR650 run underwater – like, completely submerged, exhaust burbling and everything – and for a lot longer than I would have ever imagined. A few kicks later and it came back to life. That’s a Honda for ya, baby!

2019 Honda CRF450L

You don’t need to load and unload a pickup truck or trailer to get here. Ride the CRF450L on the road and right onto the trail. So easy, even a caveman can do it. The world is your oyster.

On the other hand, maybe you’re not a big off-road rider, and would rather slap some 17s on and turn it into a supermoto – you’d have our blessing, that’s for sure. The amount of fun you can have on a supermoto should be illegal. Just kidding, but with everything else slowly becoming outlawed these days, we’re surprised the fun-police haven’t blown the whistle on motards, yet. So get after it while you can!

The 2019 Honda CRF450L is expected to become available in September, and $10,399 might sound like a pretty penny, but you can’t put a price on all the places you could go and the amount of legal fun you could have on this thing in the process. With two sets of wheels and tires, you could have the ultimate motorcycle. Just sayin’…

2019 Honda CRF450L 2019 Honda CRF450L 2019 Honda CRF450L

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New Accessories For Motorcycle and Rider, From Harley-Davidson

May 25, 2018 Press Release 0

Black out your Harley-Davidson with these new accessories. While you’re at it, check out the triple vent jacket for maximum summer protection.

Begin press release:


The new Willie G Skull Black Collection from Harley-Davidson® Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories® is perfect for adding a custom touch to a motorcycle’s style. Manufactured from original equipment components to ensure a perfect fit, the covers in this 17-piece collection are painted black for a rich matte sheen to provide a long-lasting finish.

Penned at the hand of Willie G Davidson, the famous skull collection makes a shift to the dark side. A new matte black finish has the same great design from the previous chrome offering. Completely drenched in black, the raised skull and surrounding “Harley-Davidson Motorcycle” script adds a subtle, ominous touch to your ride. This finish easily coexists alongside gloss black or wrinkle black surfaced to be combined for a wide variety of customization styles.

Available Willie G Skull Black Components include Air Cleaner Trims, Timer Covers, Derby Covers, LED Fuel Gauge, Fuel Cap, Fuel Tank Console Door, Front Axle Nut Covers and right-and-left-hand Medallions. These accessories fit many Street, Sportster®, VRSC™, Softail®, Dyna®, Touring and Trike models. All items include black hardware when required for installation.

See an authorized Harley-Davidson dealer for fitment details or visit to request a Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories catalog.

Keep Rolling this Summer with Maximum Comfort & Rebellious Style

If a rider buys one jacket this summer, make sure it is the one with the most advanced air management system in the market. The Harley-Davidson Triple Vent System™ line of jackets are available in both men’s and women’s leather and textile options and will handle almost anything Mother Nature throws at them.

H-D® patented, designed and wind tunnel tested to provide best in class venting on all Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the Triple Vent System™ gives customized comfort no matter the temperature. The Triple Vent System keeps riders and passengers cool by maximizing airflow with dozens of ways to adjust the cooling upward air current from front to back.

Featuring three strategically placed vents on each side of the body with stay-open snap tabs that enable extra-wide vent openings, Triple Vent System™ jackets dial in the perfect amount of airflow. The jacket’s Triple Vent System includes three zippered vertical vents that allow customizable airflow that’s unaffected by backrests, fairings or passengers. Venting extends to the armpits to maximize airflow at speed and allows the jacket to breathe even when idling.

Visit a local dealer to try on the new Men’s H-D® Triple Vent System™ Wick Twister Leather Jacket (P/N 98023-18VM, $495). Featuring mid-weight buffalo leather and a polyester mesh lining, the hip release zippers and action back elevate comfort of this jacket to a new level. Be sure to check out the body armor pockets at elbows and shoulders, and power-stretch action in the lightly padded back, waist and shoulders. Piping is 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material.

Or if rain showers are imminent, weather the storm with the Women’s Worden or Men’s Rutland Triple Vent System Riding Jackets (Women’s 98165-18VW, $295, Men’s P/N 98160-18VM, $335 ). Both offer optimal cooling for when the skies do clear and the temperatures heat up again. These textile jackets are fully loaded with all the patented functional features of the TVS line to keep the journeys long and enjoyable. Made from waterproof 100 percent polyester with body armor pockets at the elbows, shoulders and back to hold the optional accessory for impact protection, while 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material delivers enhanced visibility in low light conditions.

New Accessories For Motorcycle and Rider, From Harley-Davidson appeared first on News.

Pros and Cons of the Electric Motorcycle

May 25, 2018 John Burns 0

Love them or loathe them, electric vehicles are here to stay. Electric cars are already highly practical: Tesla’s Model S can go over 300 miles on a charge, and even the subcompact Chevy Bolt EV hatchback is supposedly able to go 238 miles. But those are cars, and the Tesla’s battery weighs 1200 pounds, the Bolt’s 960. Not so practical for a motorcycle, where the whole vehicle needs to weigh about half that.’s 2018 Electric Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide

What’s really needed to make the electric motorcycle really take off, of course, is new battery technology that allows those electricity-storage containers to get lighter and smaller. Rest assured, there are thousands of brilliant minds working on that as we speak. I wouldn’t bet against them, but who knows how long the magnesium-ion battery, or whatever it winds up being, will take? For now, these are the benefits and drawbacks of the electric motorcycle as she stands in the year of our Lord 2018.


They’re Electric!
It costs around 2 bucks to fill your motorcycle up with electricity that will propel it 100 miles; it costs $8.75 to go that far on your typical Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) motorcycle with gas around $3.50 per gallon at 40 mpg. If you commute or just ride a lot, that difference will add up fast. You also save time by never having to stop for gas. Oil? Strictly for salads.

Yes, electricity does come from nasty powerplants that pollute, but not nearly as much as an ICE bike and the petroleum industry that feeds it. Also, an increasing number of people derive their juice from the sun and wind, in which case your energy cost approaches zero.

Will you have to replace your battery? Probably not. Zero warranties its batteries for five years, but states: A typical Zero S or Zero DS can travel over 200,000 miles with the batteries retaining 80% of their original maximum capacity.

Only long-distance travelling motorcycles tend to see that kind of mileage – a mission electric bikes aren’t quite ready to take on.

Low maintenance
No battery to maintain, no clutch, no oil to change, no valves to adjust, no throttle bodies to sync, no air filter to replace… you’ll need fresh tires now and then, brake pads and that’s about it.

Instant torque
Most affordable electrics won’t go much faster than about 90 mph, but lots of them have silly amounts of torque, and their acceleration from a standing start can be just as stimulating, if not more, than most ICE bikes. The Zero DSR we just tested claims 116 pound-feet of torque; most of that’s available as soon as you twist the throttle, which can no longer be referred to as “loud handle.”

Stroke my Energica Ego

For those not restrained by mundane financial considerations, bikes like the $35k Italian exotic Energica Evo come with all the performance most of us could ever want, including an electronically limited 150-mph top end. Wait, scratch that! The Evo’s price is down to $24,900 for 2018!

Silent running

Maybe not so good if you think loud pipes save lives, but after you get used to the absence of noise, it really is nice to listen to nothing but the wind whistling past (you still need earplugs though). If you’re on a dirt road or trail out in the boonies, you’ll even sneak up on unsuspecting wildlife – or neighborhood cats, most of which really enjoy being chased no matter what their owners say.

Modern ICE bikes are remarkably quiet at 80 dB, but if you’re on anything older or with a modified exhaust, your neighbors will probably chip in to help you replace it with an electric. Some owners of bikes with open pipes may even be able to crowdsource funds for an electric bike.

Electrics are pricey, but starting to come down: Redshift’s Alta went from $14,995 last year to $10,495 for 2018.

Now that things like the Alta are here, I’m waiting for the first urban MX parks to open, so those of us who enjoy the occasional roost don’t have to drive two hours to do it. How can the neighbors complain when there’s no noise and no fuel being burned? They’ll still find a way, but getting urban youths on small electric bikes could be just the thing to rejuvenate the whole motorcycle industry.

Easy to ride

Without the need to learn how to shift gears, which scares off quite a few wannabe riders, electrics are as easy to ride as a scooter, which is to say no skills required beyond the ability to ride a bicycle: Twist this to go, squeeze this and press that to stop. Rider training will always be important, but the first hurdle is already overcome with electric bikes.

Government subsidies

In addition to the Feds, lots of states encourage you to go green with all kinds of tax incentives.


Initial cost

Electric bikes are still not far past being a cottage industry, and that lack of scale means they can’t compete with ICE bikes pricewise. Zero’s entry-level S model starts at $10,995 – but again, there are tax incentives and rebates, and again, you’re not putting $15 of gas in the fuel tank every week or every few days. You could also spend $24.9k for an Energica Evo, which is billed as the world’s first electric superbike, with performance to back up the claim. That’s about $2.5k less than a Ducati Panigale V4 S, though, so…

Range anxiety

Just like staring at a blinking fuel light on your ICE bike with 20 miles to the next gas station, it can be unsettling to watch your charge meter go from 20% to 10% to 2% when you’ve still got a few miles to cover. Really that’s just a matter of planning, though. Many electric riders use their bikes for commuting a known, fixed distance, and range is never a concern (unless you get halfway to work and look down to realize you forgot to plug in last night). And if you’re mostly zipping around town less than 80 or so miles a day, like the vast majority of motorcyclists, electrics are fantastic.

As electric cars become more common, charging stations are springing up like proverbial wildflowers, and are easy to find with a phone app or two.

Charging time

You can get a quick top-up charge to get where you need to be most of the time in half an hour, but a full charge is going to take from two to ten hours, depending. Charge rate remains a problem for current lithium ion batteries. Along with greater storage capacity and therefore greater range, new battery technology will also offer much faster recharging times. We’re not there yet. Some say we won’t be anytime soon. Choose your pundit.


The aforementioned Evo weighs about 570 pounds to the Panigale’s 386-pound dry weight. There’s just no getting around the fact that batteries are heavy, and weight is a major component of how a motorcycle handles and feels.

The Tesla Model S’s entire floorpan is batteries, and weighs 1200 pounds.

On the other hand, though it offers far less performance than the Evo, Zero says its base model Zero S weighs just 313 pounds, and the DSR we just tested weighs 419. Not bad at all. Zippy, even.

No more mechanicing in the garage

If you liked to play with your tools while listening to your Zamfir CDs and tuning out the world, electric motorcycles will give you less opportunity to do that, but then they’re great for running to the Harbor Freight yet again while you work on the old Triumph. For the vast majority of people interested in electrics, the lack of maintenance is a selling point, not a detractor.

Fewer funny Youtube crashes

With no need to learn to use a clutch, there will be far fewer people launching themselves through fences and parking lots. We’ll miss that.


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In Russia, Ural Ride You…+ Video

May 25, 2018 admin 0

We always hear from marketing and PR departments and even journalists about motorcycle industry execs being riders, that they care, and are enthusiasts themselves. That’s normally true in this industry. Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicali is a fantastic rider, and the head of Two-Wheel Global for Bosch shared plenty of stories about his off-road excursions in Australia. These guys ride. That’s the truth. Now let’s take a look at Ural. 

In the video below, we see Ural’s board of directors doing a fair bit of quality control testing on the company’s vehicles. Because I’m an optimistic realist, I’m going to tell myself that these are really the Ural board of directors, even though that claim hasn’t been substantiated.

According to Ural’s own posting of the video, each year the board plans a trip to truly test the Ural’s capabilities in extremely challenging conditions. I can attest to the how much fun the Ural is off-road. I only wish I could be given free-reign with one of these machines and let loose on trails like the ones in this video. Alas, Ural North America would undoubtedly look down upon me utterly thrashing one of its machines. Once again, it’s good to be the big boss.

Watching Victor, Vladimir, Sergey, Andrej, Egor, Dmitry, Boris, and Anatoly thrash the big sidecar motorcycles over boulders, under rivers, over rivers, and down muddy rocky trails is entertaining regardless of who these folks are.

In the video, our Russian comrades demonstrate five categories of testing :

  1. Water Crossing Test
  2. Bumpy Road Test (hardly a road)
  3. Aquaplaning Test
  4. Acceleration Test
  5. Suspension Test

So, grab the copper mug and your favorite vodka, ginger beer, and lime, mix yourself up a refreshing moscow mule, and enjoy the Russian mayhem.

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A Smorgasbord of Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

May 25, 2018 Press Release 0

Check out this list of Yamaha R3 Performance Parts to pimp your ride. 

Begin Press Release:

Pulse IPT P.7 Battery

Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

Think your R3 is light now? Check out the Pulse IPT P.7 battery. Measuring just 4.4 x 2.75 x 4.2 inches and weighing just 1.8 lbs., it will drop right into your R3. (The stock battery weighs 6 lbs.) It’s part of a series of entirely new batteries that are the smallest, lightest and most powerful lithium powersports batteries available today. Each one is individually fitted to your bike and has features unavailable in any other similar battery. Full Spectrum Power is the only lithium powersports battery made in the USA.

The new Full Spectrum Power Pulse IPT line of batteries are the first rider-centric lithium motorcycle batteries ever built. Each Pulse IPT has an integrated battery management system for better performance and longer life, a reset button to prevent your battery from being drained, an advanced case design that resists heat, vibration, gas and oil, and a wide variety of other advanced features not available in any other lithium powersports battery. For more information about the Full Spectrum Power Pulse IPT line of batteries, click below.

Competition Werkes Exhaust Slip-On

Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

The Competition Werkes Exhaust Slip-On for the Yamaha R3 replaces the big, ugly stock exhaust with a welded stainless steel slip-on that reduces weight and looks and sounds much, much better. Welding in conical sections of tubing instead of bending the pipe eliminates all the weak points at the inside and the outside of each bend, just like a MotoGP exhaust system. Made in the USA and much less expensive than full systems.

Competition Werkes Fender Eliminator

Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

The Competition Werkes Fender Eliminator gets rid of that heavy and unsightly rear fender and insect-like turn signals. Trim and lightweight, the fender eliminator is hand made from stainless steel and comes complete with modern turn indicators, all mounting hardware and easy-to-follow instructions. Competition Werkes is the originator of the fender eliminator and has been in business continuously under the same ownership since 1984.

Carbonin Avio

Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

Carbonin Avio bodywork is made of carbon fiber reinforced with kevlar and is the lightest, strongest and most flexible bodywork available today. The Carbonin Avio kit for the R3 comes complete with upper and lower fairings, right and left side panels, tank cover, single race seat with raised seat height, seat support and pre-installed Dzus fasteners for easy installation and removal. The kit can be supplied pre-painted with your logos. Fits all R3s 2015-2018.

GBRacing Engine Cover Set

Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

The GBRacing Engine Cover Set for the Yamaha R3 is made from precision injection molded 60% long glass fiber reinforced nylon composite, providing the ultimate in protection. The tough long glass-fibered nylon is a high impact material that is designed to absorb energy without cracking and resists abrasion while sliding. Designed to be installed over your existing OEM engine covers and not as replacement covers. The three-piece set includes an alternator cover, a clutch cover and an ignition cover. Don’t let dirt and gravel get in your motor!


Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

The Galespeed front and rear wheels take POUNDS of rotating mass off your R3, making acceleration and braking much quicker and turn-in super easy. Much lighter and stiffer than the OEM wheels, the front wheel is 3 3/4 pounds lighter than stock and the rear wheel is six pounds lighter than stock. That’s almost 10 pounds of weight removed from the largest moving parts on your motorcycle! Get the advantage you need to win races with the Galespeed Wheel Set. Wheels sold separately.


Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

No other suspension company has more race track experience than Ohlins, and their Rear Shock for the R3 has all their knowledge built right in. Fully adjustable for compression, rebound, preload and length, the Ohlins rear shock can handle any race track or street situation. Comes with a wide variety of spring options and a setting library is available. Featuring Ohlins’ proprietary single tube technology, a 46 mm piston and a remote, nitrogen-charged resevoir, there simply is no better rear shock for your R3.

Translogic Systems Ltd

Yamaha R3 Performance Parts

Translogic Systems Ltd has developed the most advanced Quickshifter systems available. The QSX Quickshifter systems feature a dual channel interrupt system to allow for fine manual adjustment of interrupt durations of ignition coils or fuel injectors. Without this dual channel feature the quickshift will not be good enough at mid to lower RPMs resulting in very snatchy gear shifts as with other single channel systems. The QSX Quickshifter systems work straight out of the box but you can still set-up the QSX Quickshifter ECU to suit your particular riding style whether it’s softer, slower Quickshifting for lower RPM shifting or faster and crisper Quickshifting for high RPM track use.

Aim Sport Solo 2

Taking your R3 to the track? Check out the Aim Sport Solo 2 GPS Lap Timer. The new Solo 2 is a completely automatic lap timer based on the latest GPS technology from AIM. It receives data from two satellite constellations, GPS and GLONASS, making it much faster and more precise than the previous version. Lap times are calculated every 2/100 of a second. The Solo 2 displays and records speed, acceleration and braking. When the Solo 2 is powered up, it automatically recognizes the start/finish line coordinates of the track you are visiting based on the huge list of world tracks stored on Solo 2’s internal memory and starts sampling and displaying lap times automatically. At the end of the day, you can review all the key information on the Solo 2. All of the GPS and ECU-based data recorded on the Solo 2 can be analyzed with the Race Studio 3 professional software. Graphs, histograms and tables will help you understand your performance at all positions on the track. There is no better device to help you improve your performance than the Aim Sport Solo 2.

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AMA Extends Gratitude to Fallen Service Members on Memorial Day

May 25, 2018 Press Release 0

As we pay our respects to all of our past, current and future military service members this Memorial Day Weekend, for allowing us to enjoy all our freedoms here in the beautiful United States of America, we strongly remind you to be smart and cautious this weekend. Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer, and without question there will be impaired drivers and motorists on the road, so be vigilant and don’t become another statistic. Cheers and God Bless America!


Caution, motorcycle awareness urged while traveling

PICKERINGTON, OH – May 25, 2018 – The American Motorcyclist Association recognizes and appreciates the dedication and sacrifice of all who gave their lives in service to our country and extends its deep gratitude to their families and friends this Memorial Day, May 28.

“Memorial Day presents an opportunity for us to reflect on the many freedoms we, as motorcyclists and as Americans, enjoy and to honor the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives to secure and preserve those freedoms,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman.

Millions of Americans will use the long holiday weekend to enjoy the freedom of the road, traveling to events, family picnics, beaches and other attractions.

With the increased travel, the AMA encourages motorists to be alert to motorcyclists who will be on the road to participate in AMA-sanctioned events, memorial parades and freedom rides, or simply visiting family and friends.

“Distracted or impaired driving already present a grave danger to motorcyclists, as well as to pedestrians and others on the roads,” Dingman said. “With the roadways more crowded with holiday travelers, we urge extra caution for everyone in an effort to ensure a safe Memorial Day weekend. And we urge drivers and motorcyclists alike to be alert and sober.”

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Eaglerider and Harley-Davidson Make Joint Appearance at Travel Industry Tradeshow

May 25, 2018 Press Release 0

Harley-Davidson joined Eaglerider at the travel industry tradeshow IPW, which Eaglerider attends each year. 

Begin Press Release:

EagleRider and Harley-Davidson Make First-Ever Joint Appearance at IPW

The Two Companies Were Among 6,000 Delegates from U.S. Travel Organizations

DENVER, Colo. (May 24, 2018) – As part of the growing strategic alliance between EagleRider, the world’s largest motorcycle rental and travel company, and Harley-Davidson, the two companies attended the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW show in Denver this week. IPW is the travel industry’s premier international marketplace and the largest generator of travel to the U.S.

EagleRider and Harley-Davidson are making it more accessible than ever for global travelers to experience some of America’s most iconic roads and destinations on a legendary Harley-Davidson® motorcycle.

“We look forward to participating in IPW every year and we were thrilled to have Harley-Davidson join us this year,” said Chris McIntyre, CEO and Co-founder of EagleRider. “Our companies have been working diligently alongside the H-D® dealer network to launch a first-of-its-kind network of motorcycle rental locations and we were proud to showcase this to the distinguished members of the U.S. Travel Association.”

Throughout the show, EagleRider and Harley-Davidson continued to demonstrate to global travel industry delegates the benefits of the alliance and even provided an opportunity for attendees, riders and non-riders alike, to experience the thrill of motorcycling for themselves on Harley-Davidson’s JUMPSTART™ riding simulator.

In 2017, EagleRider became the Exclusive U.S. Provider of Rentals & Tours for Harley-Davidson. With this alliance, international travelers have more options than ever before to have a truly authentic American adventure on an all-new Harley-Davidson® bike.

“The alliance with EagleRider has created seamless touring opportunities for travelers to realize their dream of riding across the U.S. on a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle,” said Anoop Prakash, Director of U.S. Retail Development at Harley-Davidson Motor Company. “Our national network of Harley-Davidson® dealers stand ready to welcome riders from around the world to deliver an unforgettable experience.”

Recently, the two brands reached an industry milestone of activating EagleRider rental locations in more than 100 Harley-Davidson® dealerships throughout the United States, creating the largest connected network of motorcycle rental and tour locations.

The expanded network allows riders to begin and end their two-wheeled adventures almost anywhere in the United States.  Every EagleRider/Harley-Davidson® dealership location can set riders up with guided tours, daily rentals and Club EagleRider membership opportunities.

Through the alliance, EagleRider exclusively uses 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 works with EagleRider to provide rental, travel and tour experiences from its U.S dealership network.

For more information on the new locations, visit

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2018 Zero DSR First Ride Review

May 25, 2018 admin 0

2018 Zero DSR

Editor Score: 86.0%
Engine 18.75/20
Suspension/Handling 13.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 10.0/10
Brakes 7.75/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.5/10
Appearance/Quality 7.75/10
Desirability 8.25/10
Value 7.75/10
Overall Score86/100

Riding the Zero DSR quickly turned me into a child. Laughing hysterically as I sneaked through traffic and by unsuspecting pedestrians, getting a kick out of the shocked faces on these innocent bystanders was one of the first reasons I enjoyed the Zero DSR, the second involved the R part of its model designation. I came for the ninja-like stealth, but stayed for the claimed 116 lb-ft of torque. Any time there was dirt in sight, a patch of gravel, an unbordered planter in a parking lot, I would bee-line for it, lighting up that rear tire quicker than the aforementioned innocent bystander could shield themselves from the dust. I’d like to say I’m sorry to the man in that car at the Rose Bowl parking lot who endured a large cloud of dust blowing into his open car windows.

2016 Zero DSR First Ride Review

Yeah, I didn’t do anything to elevate the public’s view of motorcycling that day, but I did realize I needed to get the DSR off of the pavement and away from the throngs of pedestrians that so densely populate the LA basin. Somewhere where I could no longer be a threat to clean car interiors and honest Starbucks-going civilians. Why? Because the performance of the 2018 Zero DSR is the little red electric motorcycle on my shoulder telling me to go for it, to do it, and the little responsible white one is nowhere to be found.

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The Future of Motorcycling gets… Future-er

2018 Zero DSR

The 2018 Zero DSR retails for $16,495, and with the accessory Charge Tank fitted to the model we tested, you’re looking at $18,790. Before any federal or state rebates and incentives.

The 2018 Zero DSR has a higher output 775-amp motor controller (compared to the non-R model’s 550-amp controller), paired with an upgraded Z-Force motor with higher temperature magnets (again, compared to the non-R model without the high-temp magnets) which, if you hadn’t already put it together, is fast. Real fast. The claim is 70 hp which is respectable, but the 116 lb-ft of torque is the ringer. While somewhat soft on the initial twist even in Sport mode – programmed this way to prevent loopage – once you get into the meat and potatoes of the throttle and the torque starts building, it does so quick and unapologetically, as if saying, you asked for this, now hold on.

With Sport mode giving you everything the motor has to offer, you can also tone down the performance and boost your mileage by using Eco mode, limiting top speed to 70 mph and reducing torque. Of course, if you find those two modes too far apart and are looking for your own goldilocks setting, there’s an app for that! The third and final mode is the Custom setting which allows you to set your own preferences of max torque, top speed, max regen, and max regen brake via the Zero Motorcycles app on your smartphone. Once connected to the motorcycle, the bike collects the data and changes the Custom mode to the parameters you’ve set. If you switch off the motorcycle and turn it back on and your phone doesn’t connect, the motorcycle will retain the last settings it had for the Custom mode.

2018 Zero DSR

Zero expects the battery to last for the life of the motorcycle, claiming the ZF14.4 in our test mule can travel over 200,000 miles with the batteries retaining 80% of their original maximum capacity. Zero’s 5-year, unlimited mile warranty is also a nice touch.

The DSR only comes with one battery option, which is the 102 V, 14.4kWh (12.6kWh nominal), ZF14.4. You do have the option of adding the accessory Power Tank for a paltry $2,895 to increase capacity by 3.6 kWh. The ZF14.4’s range is claimed at 163 city miles and 78 highway miles (if you maintain a constant 70 mph). Though recently, after leaving the house with a full charge, a 16-mile round trip that included almost entirely freeway miles, saw an 82% battery level upon my return home. That mileage equates to over 80 miles of range at speeds well above 70 mph, assuming the gauge works consistently. As usual, your mileage may vary.

2018 Zero DSR

The small rubber dust cover hide the DSR’s charge port away from the elements.

When it comes time to charge up, the Zero includes a charging cable tucked away into a nice round hole in the swingarm, allowing for easy charging from your typical U.S. 120 V outlets. Charge time from a household outlet is rated at 9.3 hours for a 0-95% charge and 9.8 hours for 0-100%.

2018 Zero DSR

Level up to Level 2 charging capability for an extra $2,295.

Of course, why spend all that time waiting when you have the option of purchasing the accessory Charge Tank? For $2,295 this upgrade will allow you to use Level 2 (220 V) charging stations while you’re out and about or if you own an electric automobile and have had the system installed. Zero claims the charge is up to 6x faster with the Charge Tank allowing for a full charge in 2.5 hours and a 0-95% charge in 2 hours. It should be noted however, you will have to choose whether you want faster charge capability or more range since you can’t outfit both the Charge Tank and Power Tank to the same motorcycle. Of the two, we’d choose the Charge Tank option. Mainly because the Power Tank adds a nearly 50-lb battery far away from the bike’s center of mass, and also because the Charge Tank is more useful in everyday situations.

A Zero for any (mostly smooth) road

2018 Zero DSR

Riding the Zero is a different experience for sure, but it’s not so different from a typical ICE bike. It doesn’t take long before you’ve forgotten all about the lack of shifting and clutching, though I still find myself reaching for ghost levers now and then. The DSR offers a neutral riding position and a 31.8-inch tall wide seat that is all day (or 70-163 miles) comfortable. Since this is the “dual-sport” model, you get large footpegs that look like they should be on my adventure bike. While the footpegs offer ample grip and surface size, the DSR doesn’t have much ground clearance and could benefit from bar risers if you plan on standing for any amount of time. Keep the off-roading limited to smooth fire roads and you’re in for a treat as the Pirelli MT 60s offer pretty good grip in dusty, gravelly conditions and the torque will have you breaking the rear end loose and looking like Jared Mees around every corner.

2018 Zero DSR

Here we have an upskirt shot of the Zero DSR’s 40mm Showa piggy-back shock and Z-Force® 75-7R passively air-cooled, high efficiency, radial flux, interior permanent hi-temp magnet, brushless motor.

The Zero DSR offers 7-inches of travel from its fully adjustable Showa suspension both front and rear, though with roughly 8-inches of ground clearance, you’ll want to select the curbs you jump off of carefully. Speaking of jumping, I was also told there is a specific technique to jumping the DSR because you can easily break the Poly Chain HTD Carbon belt that drives the rear wheel. As if you needed another reason to stay tame during your off-pavement excursions, those gorgeous 19-inch front/17-inch rear gold- anodized cast wheels probably won’t be up to the kind of hits high-speed off-road riding dishes out. We’ve been unable to weigh the 2018 model, but it should fall in somewhere around the 452-pound mark of the similarly equipped 2016 model we weighed a few years ago.

2016 Zero DSR 10th-Anniversary Edition Review

Braking components are provided by the Spanish company J.Juan. J.Juan components have been used and tested in Moto2, however, these units don’t quite perform to that caliber. On the front, the DSR uses a single 320mm disc with a dual-piston floating caliper with Bosch Gen 9 ABS tech. Despite having a steel-braided line, brake feel at the lever was fairly squishy, but still got the bike slowed after a firm squeeze. A single 240mm rotor is used on the rear with a single-piston floating caliper. Though they didn’t feel overly strong on the street, the Spanish braking bits were just fine off-road once we disabled the ABS.

2018 Zero DSR

Loud pipes save lives! While the verdict may be out on that one, I did notice while lane-splitting, the last second swerving away from me happened less frequently than when I would come up beside cars on an ICE bike.

On canyon roads, I was told the Pirelli MT 60s provided a surprising amount of grip for sport riding. Of course any tire you put on this torque-beast likely won’t last long whether you’re carving your favorite canyon roads or blasting down the trails, 116 lb-ft of oomph is serious business. But hey! Maybe you’re not as ham-fisted as some of us and you’ll be just fine.

Living With A Zero SR

As tested, our 2018 Zero DSR rings up for $18,790 which includes the $2,295 accessory Charge Tank. That’s a pretty penny, but considering the time and money you save on gas and maintenance, maybe it’s worth it? Many states offer incentive programs to help lessen the financial blow and the U.S. also has a federal tax credit up to $2,500, though 2018 models are not yet eligible. It took me two days with the DSR to start having visions of ownership. Get out and ride one and let us know what you think.


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