Archive for the ‘Motorcycle’ Category

 

bikes and breakfastWe recently discovered a motorcycle meetup called “Bikes and Breakfast“.  So we decided to take a ride to the nearest event to check it out.

In our area there are three events each month:

Bikes & Breakfast Virginia- second Sunday of each month at The Pub in Clifton, VA.

Bikes & Breakfast Maryland-the first and third Sunday of each month at The Watershed Cafe in Poolesville, MD.

As it was the first Sunday and Poolesville is not far away we decided to visit that one first.  From the pictures I think you get the idea that the turn at was not to bad. During our hour there over 100 motorcycles pulled in and out of the parking lot.IMG_20190707_101549346_HDR

Almost all makes and all brands were represented including 3 electric motorcycles. A Zero SR/F and DSR (both of which I recently test rode) and an EGO, I had never heard of EGO electric motorcycles.  The EGO bike was pulling out when I walked up so I did not get to check it out.

If you live in this area you should check out Bikes and Breakfast at least once.

Oh, and there is one in New York too:

Bikes & Breakfast New York-the first Sunday of each month at The 9W Market in Palisades, NY.

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I recently got to test ride a couple of Zero motorcycles. The Zero SR/F and the DSR. The Zero SR/F is their sport bike motorcycle and the DSR is more along the line of an adventure motorcycle.

Riding the SR/F first, I was impressed with the motorcycle! Fit and finish seemed spot on and the styling was better than many of the other sport bikes on the market, at least to my taste.

With torque rated at 140 and horsepower at 110 the SR/F is an awesome bike off the staring line…not that I tried anything like that.IMG_20190621_111105207_HDR

The route we took for the ride did not truly allow for an assessment of the motorcycles handling but swinging between potholes and road debris leads me to think that the SR/F might be a well handing machine. It comes with Bosch’s Motorcycle Stability Control and several modes of operation including “sport” which maximizes the performance of the motorcycle.

At 161 mile “city” range (200 with the “power tank”) and an optimal charge time of 80 minutes it seems right for the urban commuter. On my commute I would have grave range anxiety and there is no recharging station at work. It is something I would like to try although, a SR/F with saddle bags on my commute for a couple weeks would be intriguing.

On this limited test ride I give the $19K Zero SR/F motorcycle a BIG THUMBS UP!!! (can’t give it a start rating due to the limitations of the test ride)

The Zero DSR with torque rate at 116 and 70 HP rode quite comfortably on our potholed road test. I intentionally road across and trough the bumps to get a fell for the suspension of the motorcycle. I was pleasantly surprised, it is not a $20K BMW adventure bike but, it was a quite a smooth ride.

IMG_20190621_111209428_HDRThe DSR’s range is 163 city and 78 highway. Again, not something I would trust my commute on but for an afternoon of backroad travels, I would love to give it a try. Charging time for the DSR ranges from 2.5 to 12 hours depending on configuration and options.

I don’t feel I can give this motorcycle a thumbs up or down based on the limited test ride. It seems fun and agile, but I can’t tell for sure.

As a point of comparison…. I have, on one other occasion, got to test ride an electric motorcycle, the Harley Davidson Live Wire prototype. Of the two Zero bikes I rode the SR/F was the closest to the Live Wire.

The Harley Live Wire is a very cool motorcycle and the Zero SR/F is a very cool motorcycle. But at $9k price difference I would lean towards the SR/F.

Special THANK YOU to Motorcycles of Dulles for hosting this test ride!!!

Ride On, Ride Safe

recall

Be aware that this motorcycle recall list is for the United States, there is no way I could cover the entire world. But in the world of global manufacturing, if a motorcycle is being recalled in one country there is a good chance it is under recall in others. Also, this should not be considered a definitive list, check for yourself if you have any questions.

If you are US based use the NHTSA website http://www.safercar.gov. Enter your VIN number to see if your motorcycle is affected by the recall.

If you are based in Europe use the Safety Gate website to locate recalls that may impact you.

*****

Manufacturer: Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.

SUMMARY: Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. (Suzuki) is recalling certain 2018-2019
GSX250R motorcycles. Water intrusion may corrode the rear brake light switch causing the rear brake light to fail to illuminate or remain illuminated continuously when the brake is not applied.

CONSEQUENCE: A failure of the brake light to illuminate, or continued illumination when the brakes are not being applied, can increase the risk of a crash.

REMEDY: Suzuki will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear brake stop light switch, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 28, 2019. Owners may contact Suzuki customer service at 1-800-934-0934. Suzuki’s number for this recall is 2A90.

*****

Manufacturer: Honda (American Honda Motor Co.)

SUMMARY: Honda (American Honda Motor Co.) is recalling certain 2019 CB300R, 2018 CBR300R, 2018 CRF250L, 2018 CRF250L Rally, and 2018-2019 CMX300 motorcycles. The circlip, on the transmission’s main shaft, may detach allowing for gear misalignment.

CONSEQUENCE: A misaligned gear can shift the transmission from neutral into gear during engine start, potentially resulting in unexpected motorcycle movement or seize the transmission and rear wheel while the motorcycle is in motion. Both conditions increase the risk of crash or injury.

REMEDY: Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the transmission main shaft, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 28, 2019. Owners may contact Honda customer service at 1-866-784-1870. Honda’s number for this recall is KK3.

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Manufacturer: Ducati North America

SUMMARY: Ducati North America (Ducati) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Panigale V4, Panigale V4 S, Panigale Speciale, and 2019 Panigale R motorcycles. Excessive pressure in the fuel tank may cause fuel to spray when opening the fuel cap.

CONSEQUENCE: Fuel spray can increase the risk of injury and a fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source can increase the risk of a fire.

REMEDY: Ducati will notify owners, and dealers will update the fuel cap venting system, provide an updated page for the owner’s manual, and affix a warning label decal to the fuel tank, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin July 13, 2019. Owners may contact Ducati customer service at 1-888-391-5446. Ducati’s number for this recall is SRV-RCL-19-001. Note: This recall includes motorcycles that may have been previously remedied under recall 18V-238 for a similar issue.

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Manufacturer: Suzuki Motor of America, Inc.

SUMMARY: Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. (Suzuki) is recalling certain 2018-2019 Burgman 200/UH200 scooters. The rivet connections may fail and allow the movable driven face (drive plate) of the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to break.

CONSEQUENCE: If the drive plate breaks, the scooter will lose power to the rear wheel, increasing the risk of a crash.

REMEDY: Suzuki will notify owners, and dealers will replace the drive plate, free of charge. The recall began June 5, 2019. Owners may contact Suzuki customer service at 1-714-572-1490. Suzuki’s number for this recall is 2A89.

*****

Manufacturer: Indian Motorcycle Company

SUMMARY: Indian Motorcycle Company (Indian) is recalling certain 2014 Chief and Chieftain motorcycles. Due to a problem within the Vehicle Control Module (VCM), all of the front lights, including the headlight, may go out while riding.

CONSEQUENCE: The loss of lighting can reduce visibility, increasing the risk of crash.

REMEDY: The remedy for this recall is still under development. Owners will be informed of the safety risk beginning in June 2019. Owners will receive a second notice when the remedy becomes available. Owners may contact Indian customer service at 1-877-204-3697. Indian’s number for this recall is I-19-02.

*****

Manufacturer: Strategic Sports, Ltd.

SUMMARY: Strategic Sports, Ltd. (Strategic Sports) is recalling certain Zox Sierra ST-560 helmets, sizes XS, S, M, and L. These helmets may not adequately protect the wearer in the event of a head impact during a motorcycle crash. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 218, “Motorcycle Helmets.”

CONSEQUENCE: Objects may penetrate the helmet during a crash, increasing the risk of injury.

REMEDY: Strategic Sports has notified owners, and instructed them to return the helmet, for a full refund. The recall began April 30, 2019. Owners may contact Strategic Sports customer service at helmet.recall.info@gmail.com or 1-619-861-8110. Strategic Sports’ number for this recall is OA-218-170423.

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Overcast, light rain and thunderstorms, that was day one of the HOG Curves to Cores motorcycle rally. There were no guided rides and with those weather conditions I decided not to do any of the self-guided rides. Instead I did the poker run and apple hunt. I still had a lot of fun!

Day Two of the rally was sunny but not hot, perfect motorcycle ride weather! I had signed up for the “Acting Like a Good Ole Boy” guided ride.

z16This was a 127-mile, well crafted, ride across the Blue Ridge Mountains and down the Shenandoah Valley. Some SPECTATUCLAR scenic views and some cool riding. I was unable to get pictures from the motorcycle as my co-pilot and backseat photographer had to work

The mid-point of the motorcycle ride was a stop at “Cooter’s Garage and Dukes of Hazard Museum”. Those of us of a certain age will remember the Dukes fondly as it was a lot of fun to watch. Today it is “politically incorrect” but then it was fun.z17

When we pulled into Cooter’s Garage, we were only folks there but, before we left there was at least one other group of about 10 motorcycles and then the Can-Am Spyder section of the Women’s Mid-Atlantic Riding Tour pulled in the parking lot.

The last time I saw that many Spyders in one spot, my wife sent me to the store for a can of bug spray! (now that is comedy)

From Cooter’s Garage we rode to lunch and then back to home base in Winchester. The return trip was just as scenic.

Day Three was supposed to be a ride to Summit Point Raceway to ride our big Harley Davidsons on the track. I did not make this ride as I had an offer to test ride the new Zero electric motorcycle. Stand by for a post on that event.z13

Day Four of the rally and the weather, once again, was perfect for riding motorcycles. This day my wife was able to attend and we had chosen the “For Whom the Road Tolls” guided ride.

At 80 miles this ride followed the first toll road in what would become the United States, Snickersville Turnpike. This was another well run ride. I want to praise our road captian Peter for an outstanding job on a ride with lots of intersections and stop signs!z6

This ride was through some of the most rural parts of northern Virginia. Beautiful farms and landscapes abound though out the ride. We passed though multiple small towns founded in the mid-1700s, a lot of pre-United States and Civil War history was ridden through this day.

Day four was also the closing of the rally. Held at Groves Harley Davidson of Winchester they had several event prizes to give away, of course I did not win anything! Bummer.

All in all this was a great event, setup and executed very well. We are going to another HOG rally later this year, it will be hard pressed to outperform the Curves to Cores rally.

Ride On, Ride Safe

ijustwant2ride

I recently attended the Harley Owners Group (HOG) regional motorcycle rally. This year it was held in Winchester, VA.  Winchester is only an hour from my driveway there was no way I could miss this event.

The “Curves to Core” motorcycle rally organizers which put the event together really did a nice job. Why “Curves to Cores”?  I think the curves is self-explanatory, and the “Cores” is about a defining industry in the area.  This part of the Shenandoah Valley is a big apple growing area, providing a large part of the apples used in products across the North IMG_20190620_062955720America.

The organizers put a lot of work into making this event a success.  40+ motorcycle rides documented turn by turn AND with a memory stick full of GPS directions.  About half of this rides had an option for a guided tour version.  There were also scavenger hunts, poker runs and off bike events open to all attendees.

I chose 3 guided rides to participate in:

“Acting Like a Good Ole Boy”- A 130-mile ride crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains twice with a visit to “Cooter’s Garage and Duke’s of Hazzard Museum”.  If you are of a certain age you will remember the TV show following the daily troubles of Bo and Luke Duke.

“10 Turns of a Big Ole Yeee Haww” – A 90-mile loop ride with a stop at Summit Point Raceway. The highlight of this ride would be getting your Harley Davidson on the race track and letting it loose, so long as you did not run out of talent or floorboards (I have rubbed some of mine off and I had not been on a track).

“For Whom the Road Tolls” – A 80-mile ride on Snickersville Turnpike, the first toll road in America. Luckily it is no longer a toll road but it is a very, very quiet and scenic motorcycle ride though back country Virginia.

Unfortunately I was not able to do the track day ride.  I got an offer to test ride the Zero electric motorcycles.  Watch for a post about the Zeros in a future post.    IMG_20190619_102816460_HDR

I really enjoyed the other two rides and I will write about the rides in another post.

One of the day one activities was a scavenger hunt for large apples.  I called it apple picking.

We are currently scheduled to attend a second regional HOG rally in September, the “Hills and Hollows” rally in Johnstown City, TN.

Ride On, Ride Safe

 

lighting

I am sure that title is a common sense notion but, three riders have been killed by lighting in the last 16 years.  The latest to die this way was a man in Florida.

So I thought why not some sort of Public Service Announcement about lightning and motorcycles.  Turns out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation had already done so.  So I will present what the MSF put out in a recent AMA “American Motorcyclist” magazine.

There is a myth that being in/on a vehicle with rubber tires somehow insulates the occupants from lightning. Cars and trucks provide occupants some protection from lightning strikes, but that is because the electrical current travels across the exterior metal skin of the vehicle and into the ground, not because the tires offer protection.

Occupants are in contact with the fabric and plastic parts of the vehicle, so they are insulated from the exterior unless they’re touching metal parts, such as the ignition switch, shift knobs or door handles.

Vehicles not fully enclosed by metal, including convertibles and motorcycles, are dangerous to operate in conditions where lightning is likely to occur.

If lightning strikes an open-top vehicle, the electrical current can connect directly with its occupants, especially if the occupants’ heads extend above the top of the vehicle. It’s rare, but it does happen: two motorcyclists in Colorado were struck and killed by lightning bolts in the past 16 years.

If you’re riding and see lightning, find an underpass or parking structure where you can wait out the storm. Don’t park under a tree. Trees attract lightning, due to their height and moisture content and can transmit the charge to you, and branches can be split by lightning and fall on you. If you can’t find shelter, make a U-turn and ride away from the storm.

And if you haven’t started your ride and are aware of an approaching thunderstorm, delay your ride until at least 30 minutes after the storm has passed and you’ve heard the last round of thunder.”

Ride On, Ride Safe

 

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Lightning Strikes and Kills Motorcyclist. Why Rubber Tires Didn’t Protect Him. – Since 2006, there have been 10 lightning fatalities related to motorcycles in the United States

A new motorcycle movie? The “Long Way Up” and no BMW motorcycles? Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, getting it together?

Harley Davidson is going to build 200-500cc motorcycles in India for that market.  Will they make their way to the US and Europe?  Of course they will, Harley Davidson needs a small, cheap motorcycle to gain traction with a new market.

PRINT IS DEAD! and so is the print addition of Motorcyclist Magazine sadly.

Who made 5,000,000 of what?  No matter what your product that is a real milestone. So what did Harley Davidson do?

RTW Button Art [Converted]

The 28th annual International Ride Your Motorcycle to Work day is fast approaching.

The goals of this event are:

A day of rider unity.

     Highlight the positive aspects of motorcycling

     Arouse the curiosity of coworkers as they see a lot of motorcycles in the parking lot.

    Allows us to bring up important motorcycling related items such as distracted driving, E15 fuel, lane splitting, etc..

This event is always the third Monday in June!

Learn more and get free propaganda at the RIDETOWORK.ORG

Ride on, ride safe!

z1

Recently I got to attend the Royal Enfield “Pick Your Play” demo day for the Washington DC metro area, held at Summit Point Raceway. I got to test ride both the brand-new Continental GT and Interceptor 650’s. The new bikes are parallel twins and Royal Enfield’s entry into the mid-class motorcycle competition.

I have to say WOW, nice job Royal Enfield!   I don’t think these motorcycles are going to be competing for race wins any time soon but for a daily urban computer these are winners and a lot of fun!

DSC02465Before I go into details on my rides and thoughts on these new motorcycles, I want to give the Royal Enfield crew some praise. This is an 8-city tour, wish I could attend another, of the US and the Royal Enfield’s crews presentation of the event was very nice! Bikes on display, food trucks and music already to go and well executed. They also took the time to recognize the Royal Enfield owners who showed up, not something you see at events like this. Well done guys!

As for the motorcycles they are essentially the same bike with some feature and cosmetic changes. Same engine, same frame, etc. yet they felt completely different. Some of that “feeling” goes to the ergonomics of each motorcycle. The GT with the café racer style clip-on handlebars and the Interceptor with it upright “classic” positioning really gives each its own personality.

The Interceptor 650 felt a lot like the old Honda CB750 which is a huge compliment. Itz7 had a solid feel from 0 to about 75 MPH. I did not go faster as that was the most I was willing to push on an unfamiliar motorcycle on an unfamiliar track. It did feel like it wanted to go faster. In the tight turns of the track the upright position did make me feel that the lean angle was higher than it really was.

Speaking of lean angle, the café racer Continental GT and it’s hugging the tank body position really, really wanted me to put it over tight in the turns. I never drug the pegs but, if I could get a few more laps in I know I would have. Again, for motorcycles that are mostly the same, they have attitudes and personalities all their own.

Royal Enfield has a couple of winners on their hands, if they can get the word out. One idea to get the American motorcycle culture to notice these new motorcycles might be sponsoring a “spec” race series, maybe in conjunction with MotoAmerica. Could be a cheaper way for more folks to get into the racing scene (well that’s my two cents anyway).

Ride On!

The Motorcycle Industry and its Future

Believe me, if I had a crystal ball I’d be playing the lottery. When it comes to something as ponderous as the motorcycle industry and its future though, it’s easier to make some educated guesses as to which direction it will lumber.

The industry is not known for its quick-fire changes, and to be fair,  it’s easy to see why, especially as motorcycle manufactures love to stick to a set formula. Namely, creating machines that give a styling nod to successful models from a back catalog and going on to spend millions in advertising telling you why you can’t do without it!

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In other words, it’s a legacy based business that trades heavily on its past. Let’s throw the big manufactures a bone though. It can’t be easy getting your R&D boffins to come up with the next best thing, that doesn’t require the entire manufacturing line replacing.

Then, of course, they’ve got to keep an eye on the opposition in case they’ve tapped into a vein and are subsequently enjoying big sales with a particular model. Also, let’s not forget, new designs have to go through endless software simulations, and thousands of road test-miles before going on general sale.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, the bike industry is currently suffering from lack-luster z2sales . Not only are the baby boomers slowly hanging up their crash helmets, but also the Millennials are failing to take up the slack.

Industry observers state that this is the first generation not automatically drawn to life on two wheels as a right of passage. Safety issues, ease of use, and environmental concerns are all cited as the reasons why.

So what exactly is the collective motorcycle industry doing to address this problem?  In real terms, surprisingly little.

(https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-blur-close-up-engine-345121/)

Industry in a Holding Pattern

You can’t really count making a big song and dance about electric bikes. Or hiding behind the smokescreen of whacky teaser concepts shown at the EICMA in Milan, but why does it feel as if the industry is in a holding pattern?

Environmental legislation is having a monumental effect on the look and performance of every new bike produced the world over. It’s safe to say that in the not too distant future, the noble carburetor and air-cooled engine will be mere museum exhibits.

z3The omission of these two factors, plus the likes of compulsory ABS, enormous air-boxes and gargantuan silencers, will affect the look of future bikes. The real war for future sales, though, will be fought on two fronts; safety, and technology.

In the past, a sideways glance at the auto industry generally gave the game away for future motorcycle innovations. Just look at ABS, the first car fitted with the system was a decade ahead of an ABS fitted bike. It’s a similar story with electronic fuel injection, cruise control, and electronic driving aids.

The situation still pervades today. This time, it’s the race for a production-ready autonomous car that will greatly influence the motorcycling world.  So does this mean we can all look forward to sitting with our arms folded while our bikes ride themselves?

If anything is certain in the future of motorcycling, it’s that riders will never relinquish total control of their bikes with the same willingness as car drivers.

Borrowing from the Auto Manufacturers

The autonomous vehicle is good news for the future of the motorcycle industry because of the enormous leap forward in multi-sequential processors. These components are the electronic brains capable of processing vast amounts of data from a number of sophisticated radar and lidar sensors around the vehicle.

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The mega-processors then convert the information into commands sent to the vehicles brakes, steering, and engine management system.

The speed and compartmental processing ability of new generation units are groundbreaking. The big deal to the motorcycle industry however, is due to the auto industry’s need to mass-produce; resulting in the dramatic reduction of both the price and the component size.

This factor means we can look forward to motorcycle manufacturers pushing the envelope in terms of electronic rider aids, onboard communication systems, and rider information.

With the advent of 5G networks, we may even be able to automatically upload engine management information to a Cloud so that we can fine tune or service our bikes via a smartphone.

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This highly advanced processing ability will also see massive gains in the subtlety and range of electronic rider aids and braking systems. All of which will make motorcycles safer and more attractive to a tech-savvy generation.

When it comes to rider safety, though, the big news for the future of the motorcycle industry will be the introduction of onboard radar systems.

Small is Beautiful

Thanks to small-footprint front and rear-facing cameras, and side mounted motion detectors, bike manufacturers will be able to offer a degree of safety previously unheard of in the two-wheel world.

They would make it happen though if only they could move fast enough. KTM and Ducati may have put their necks on the line by saying they’ll have a rudimentary hazard warning system on top shelf bikes by 2020, but they’re leaving it to Bosch to develop.

Furthermore, the real groundbreaking work in developing this type of system is being championed by small-scale tech start-ups like Damon X Labs. The Vancouver based entrepreneurs predict that their self-learning, 360-degree accident warning system will dramatically reduce accidents by alerting riders to imminent danger while giving them enough time to take evasive action.

Smarter and Safer Motorcycles

If the motorcycle industry is going to win back the missing biker generation, then clearly technology and safety are two major factors, but what about their other concerns, ease of use, and environmental issues?

Luckily enough both of these can be slam-dunked by the electric motorcycle. These bikes are quiet, environmentally friendly, and what could be more convenient than ‘twist and go’ with no messy transmission.

But hang on a minute, if battery powered bikes are the second coming of two-wheeled transport, then why aren’t the big bike manufacturers churning them out by the thousand?

Just like the advancements in smaller, faster processors, it will be the advent of cheaper, longer lasting fuel cells with faster charging times, that will finally open the floodgates.

As for the motorcycle industry and its future, I don’t foresee the big manufacturers letting go of the legacy angle in the very near future.  Just don’t be surprised to see a battery powered, radar-equipped Bonneville’s, Z1’s, CB’s XS’s and GS’s sometime soon. Remember where you read it first.

Author Malcolm Lee : I bought my first motorcycle, a Honda SL125 at 16. I went on to become a welder and fabricator until in my mid-twenties when I jumped ship to work for a local newspaper. Since those early days, I have been lucky enough to own and build over 40 motorcycles and have gained a Masters Degree in Interactive Journalism.  I enjoy writing for motorcycle magazines, websites and blogs all over the world and have interviewed and photographed some pretty cool leading lights in the biking world.