Theofwas the perfect setting forto introduce the new-for-this-year. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this bike since it was introduced at last year’s Milan show – will it measure up to the hype when we ride it on real roads?
After a lavish welcome dinner, we proceeded to the conference center for the tech briefing. There,gave us the 4-1-1 on the new model.
First,wants our readers to know that this model is based on exhaustive market research. The product planners surveyed thousands ofand listened to their needs. It turns out that what buyers are looking for isn’t fancy features or enhanced styling – what they want is. With that in mind, the engineers went to work.
Lush scenery was an ideal place for testing the new bike, although it may have been a tad too lush.
First, they redesigned the chassis end to end, carefully shaving weight and making the structure more rigid, reducing chassis flex by 14% and saving almost 14 grams. Suspension is all new, with redesigned part numbers and .005 inch more rear travel. Brakes are triple disc, with four-piston radial-mountcalipers.
The engine bay got the treatment, too. Thehave been upgraded, resulting in a 3% power increase over last year’s model. The exhaust has also been made more free-flowing, for better sound and throttle response while still meetingstandards. In addition, the airbox has six more holes and 2% more volume to improve both breathing and intake sound.
But how is it on the? To find out, we spent the day riding a challenging 13-mile route (including photo, lunch, snack and nap stops). The bike starts up easily, soon settling down to a low, burbling idle. The seat is wide and supportive, but could use a touch more foam, and shorter riders may want to opt for the low seat ($249). It snicks easily into gear, and the bike’s top-heavy feel disappears once on the move.
There may have been too much Buffeting, but we will need more testing to say for sure. And Margaritas. Blended, no salt.
On the open road, it’s a great machine. Wind protection is average, with a little buffeting affecting taller riders. I found the gearing optimum for high-speed cruising as well as just riding around town, so long as I remembered to shift the smooth, modern-feeling transmission, which makes a huge difference no matter what you ride. You should try it.
The most memorable part of the ride was piloting this lithe machine through the. There, the rigid chassis, well-balanced geometry and careful attention to saving weight paid dividends. The bike turned as quickly as a, but never felt flighty, with balanced steering and a neutral feel even when I was pushing the limits. The brakes were notable, with progressive power and minimal overbite. I did notice the temperature gauge edging towards the red when I was flogging it, but company technicians noted this was common with pre-production units.
Comfort and convenience features abound. In addition to .005 liters of underseat storage (room for a folded-up photo of some tools and a human hair), there’s a USB port andstandard. Instrumentation is complete and easy to read, although it was tough to figure out how to work the lap timer, and the TFT display was hard to read in direct sunlight, especially at higher altitudes. After a long day in the saddle (followed by drinks, a lavish meal and wine-cellar tour that I don’t remember past the Merlots) I was ready for more riding, a testament to the package’s balance.
The brakes provided adequate braking and feel, though brake feel left the author feeling like he needed a break from feeling.
So does it live up to the hype? I was very impressed with my time riding it, and think it does. Although not the most comfortable or best value, it does offer solidat a price just $300 more than the prior year’s model. We can’t wait to how it stacks up against the competition in ourmotorcycle shootout this summer.
Gabe Ets-Hokin has beenat Motorcycle.com since the 11th Century A.D.