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Matthew B. Crawford - The Thinker

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 14:27

Shop Class as Soulcraft author Matthew B. Crawford. ( Zach Bowman/)

Matthew B. Crawford published his essay “Shop Class as Soulcraft” in the technology and society journal The New Atlantis in 2006, spurring a book of the same title. It simultaneously turned his professional career on its ear and gave voice to a generation of knowledge workers dissatisfied with the fruits of their laboring hours. In the years since, he’s turned his eye to the increasing demands on our attention in The World Beyond Your Head. Now he’s putting an eye on our seemingly inevitable autonomous future with a new project.

“The original essay began as an attempt to make sense of my own work experience,” Crawford says. “It did not fit the official ideology of knowledge work versus manual work. I often felt more intellectually challenged trying to diagnose a machine than in the various white- collar jobs I’ve had. To make sense of that required going into some of the history of the assembly line and the separation of thinking from doing.”

He is laser-eyed, and while his shop is a spectacular array of distractions—a Scion xB awaiting a brake job on a lift, the entrails of a Volkswagen Bug splattered on the floor, a stalled Dunstall CB750 build in the corner—he wields a rare hyper focus, fully involved with the conversation or task at hand.

“Shop Class” was written some 12 years ago, and in the time since, the maker movement has exploded, with ever more people building, tinkering, and sharing their knowledge with the wider world. Crawford says it makes sense, as does our preoccupation with motorcycles despite all the reasons to know better.

“People come home, and they want to take things in hand themselves,” he says. “We evolved as tool users. There are intimate connections between the use of the hands and the use of higher cognitive functions in the mind. We’re creating this world for ourselves of mediating everything through a screen that’s extremely novel and extremely at odds with years of evolution.”

For Crawford, transportation cannot be separated from a society’s economy. The two are intertwined in ways both obvious and not, and as large technology companies increasingly work to dominate our daily commutes, choosing to ride subtracts us from that equation. Now, maybe more than ever, it puts us at odds with a society that claims to know best.

“Our self-appointed disruptors have figured out that capturing and monetizing people’s attention is the name of the game in contemporary capitalism,” Crawford says. “That adds to the kind of dissident quality of riding a bike. You’re stepping outside of what feels like a tightening grid of social control.”

He has a point. For many of us, a helmet serves as one of the few refuges from daily life’s barrage of notifications, news alerts, and glowing screens, all things that make someone money simply by monopolizing our attention. Crawford believes that might be at the heart of Google’s desire to participate in autonomous vehicles. The average commute is just north of 50 minutes, both ways, he says, time that we are otherwise inaccessible to the internet and its advertising—or ought to be.

He is aware of the argument that driverless vehicles might be the best thing that’s ever happened to motorcyclists, removing the unpredictable and inattentive from our paths. He’s also not optimistic about that becoming our reality.

“The premise there is that we will be allowed to ride, but there are a lot of the hoped-for benefits of driverless cars that are only realized if everyone is in them,” Crawford says. “There’s good reason to think that once we allow a cartel of IT companies to remake our public infrastructure, then it’s going to be like all these other forms of platform capitalism: nonnegotiable terms of service.”


“That adds to the kind of dissident quality of riding a bike. You’re stepping outside of what feels like a tightening grid of social control.” (Zach Bowman /)

The tragedy there, at least for him, is not the loss of the motorcycle, but the loss of faith in ourselves as capable doers. He points to traffic in London or in Ethiopia, nightmares for commuters—but miraculous displays of humanity’s ability to problem-solve, communicate, and cooperate in a highly efficient manner.

“It’s a picture of how amazing human beings are at working sh-t out cooperatively on the fly,” Crawford says. “It’s an example of human intelligence that’s hugely impressive. The whole rationale for driverless cars is a presumption of incompetence by human beings. That’s generally a pattern, that technology is trying to relieve us of the things that we don’t do very well.”

He warns that there will be pressure to redefine driving as a thing that computers excel at over us dim humans, but as Crawford, and anyone who has ever threaded their way up a snaking coil of asphalt knows, the act of driving or riding is not simply following a set of rules. It’s improvisation. It’s creation.

“Rule following just scratches the surface of human intelligence,” he says.

Crawford’s next book, Why We Drive, comes out next year.


Categories: Motorcycles

Marc Márquez Ends 2019 MotoGP Season With Victory At Valencia

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 13:36

Marc Márquez (right) capped an eighth world championship win with his 12th victory and 18th podium in 19 races despite what he called the “worst start” of the season. “We did a great comeback,” he said. “Fabio [Quartararo] was going away, but in two or three laps, I caught him. My strategy was to try to lead the race—I feel better here in front than behind—and that’s what I did.” (Dorna/)

Because weather conditions in Valencia, Spain, were cold, windy, and tire grip tenuous, the last MotoGP race of the 2019 season was a tip-toe contest. Valentino Rossi called the weather “winter.”

As Jack Miller had predicted, his Ducati holeshot device flung him toward turn 1 first, but pole-sitter Fabio Quartararo was soon past him to lead the first seven laps. Marc Márquez, back in third, very much took his time, advancing cautiously, passing Miller on lap 2, finally coming under Quartararo’s Yamaha at turn 11 on the eighth of 27 laps.

After that, Márquez led the rest, creeping ahead by a tenth or two every lap. There was no action in this race, just people concentrating on doing everything right so they didn’t fall. Six of them—Cal Crutchlow, Danilo Petrucci, Johann Zarco, Iker Lecuona, Franco Morbidelli, and Andrea Iannone—did fall.


Jack Miller (43) predicted he would lead the 22-rider field into turn 1. “I don’t really want to be leading,” he said, “but I know how the bike starts.” Quartararo passed the 24-year-old Australian exiting turn 2. “It was quite chilly out there, and the wind was blowing a fair bit,” Miller said after the 27-lap race. “I had a big moment between turns 11 and 12; a crosswind blew the front wheel from underneath me.” (Dorna/)

Maverick Viñales, who had shared with Márquez the ability in practice to set forth blocks of laps in the 1 minute, 31 seconds or better, had “one of his days,” finishing lowly sixth, almost 9 seconds back.

“It was a difficult race,” the factory Yamaha rider said. “I struggled a lot with the rear grip, which happens sometimes for us and today again.” He had failed to get heat into his tires.

Quite a few riders were fast in Free Practice 3 and 4 on Saturday, posting impressive numbers of 1:31s. But it wasn’t enough. You also had to get away up front, be fast, stay fast, and not fall. Few could deliver that package.


Joan Mir (36) and Álex Rins were among 10 riders who used the soft Michelin rear tire. The Suzuki teammates were seventh and fifth, respectively. Valentino Rossi (46) qualified 12th, and finished eighth in the race, seventh in the championship. Yamaha teammate Maverick Viñales, sixth, completed the season third overall, 58 points behind Andrea Dovizioso, runner-up to Márquez in 2017, ’18, and ’19. (Dorna/)

You can be sure Rossi, eighth, is tired of hearing himself say the same things about Yamaha’s YZR-M1: “I didn’t have enough rear grip and, after some laps, I had to slow down because my tire lost a lot of performance. In the second half of the season, we suffered a lot from this and, in the end, we were not able to fix it. We expect something new from Yamaha.”

RELATED: Maverick Viñales Speeds To Malaysian MotoGP Race Victory

Again, it can seem to come down to development style. With Márquez, Honda has a successful partnership, yet without him its bikes would be undistinguished. Yamaha has for years acted upon the idea that it must trade away engine performance for rideability, yet somehow Honda this year has both. Yamaha’s problem with late-race rear tire fade has persisted now for years; it has become an “era.” Ducati has held firm through seasons of Andrea Dovizioso’s urgings that it must improve the Desmosedici’s midcorner grip.

This same apparent conceptual stubbornness is also found in the sciences. In extreme cases, the views of an elder and dominant researcher conflict increasingly with new data, but such is his prestige that no criticism can be heard and no information reinterpreted until he passes from the scene.


Weather and a left-turn-biased configuration claimed a number of riders on Sunday, including Cal Crutchlow (shown), Danilo Petrucci, Johann Zarco, Franco Morbidelli, Andrea Iannone, and Iker Lecuona, who made his MotoGP debut at Valencia. Márquez fell in morning warm-up running the same medium-front, hard-rear tire combination used in the race. He set the fastest race lap, 1:31.116, on the fourth loop of the 2.49-mile circuit. (Dorna/)

Another way to interpret what we see is to say that Ducati, Yamaha, and Suzuki face the problem of building motorcycles that can make riders who are not Marc Márquez faster than the eight-time world champion himself. This comes down to a tire argument: Márquez has from the start been able to get more from his tires than even much more experienced riders, in effect making hardware almost irrelevant. The Ducati and KTM have horsepower, the Yamaha has—or did have—midcorner side grip, and the Ducatis have braking stability but, clearly, when it comes to exploiting the tires’ capability in all directions, Marquez’s mental tire-management software usually determines the outcome. He won 12 MotoGP races this year.

Michelin tech Piero Taramasso said one very interesting thing on Saturday night at Valencia: “We advise the teams to use increased air pressure to get more heat into the tire.” When a listener objected that we had always been told lower pressure generates more heat, Taramasso added, “How we design our tire is that increased pressure equals a smaller contact area.”


Ninety-nine-thousand spectators witnessed Jorge Lorenzo’s final MotoGP ride. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna waited in pit lane for Lorenzo to arrive after the race. Lorenzo won three races—Mugello, Catalunya, and Austria—in 2018 on a factory Ducati. Of his Repsol Honda squad, Lorenzo said, “I am very proud of my team. It was very difficult to keep supporting me with these results, but they did.” (Dorna/)

A smaller contact area slips more, generating heat by increased sliding rather than by increased flexure of rubber in the tire. The original reason for the development of the semi-radial tire circa 1984 was to reduce the generation of hysteretic heat (internal friction of the material itself) to extend the life of the tread compound.

Taramasso said that the choice on this “generally low-grip track” is between the soft—quicker lap times but with “movement”—and hard, which is more stable for the frequent direction-changing of Valencia’s 14-turn, 2.49-mile “bullring.”


A star is born: MotoGP rookie Quartararo outperformed expectations of many in the Grand Prix paddock. “Last year,” he said, “I got a lot of ‘bad comments’ that I was not ready, that I didn't have the experience to be in MotoGP, but I worked a lot during the winter and in the tests, and we managed to get seven podiums and six pole positions. For sure, if I had a win, this year would be even better.” (Dorna/)

Riders say “the tire is moving” when they’re not sure whether it is sliding or they are just feeling its carcass deflecting above the footprint. Remember Marco Melandri’s rule, that performance by itself is nothing unless there is also rider confidence.

About his crash, Crutchlow said: “I felt quite good in the race, but I braked a bit late going into turn 1, and went onto a dirty part of the track. I nearly saved the bike…”

Rookie-of-the-year Quartararo, fifth overall in the point standings and six times starting from pole position, summed up his year: “I have to improve to keep fighting with Márquez. He has something more than me. I’m fast in qualifying, but I’m still missing something.” He does not want to become known as “the Saturday man.”


Márquez finished the season in the “best way,” by adding the “team” title to rider and manufacturer championships to complete MotoGP’s “triple crown.” The 26-year-old Spaniard earned a 420 of Repsol Honda’s 457 total points haul. “It was an amazing season, the best in my career,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be the best season in all my career, but, obviously, the numbers speak. Difficult to improve.” (Dorna/)

Márquez described himself: “I learned to look at things with realism, without pretense, this year. If you don’t have the potential to win a race, you have to accept it and get the most [points] you can.”

Dovizioso, fourth, had little comment: “We have confirmed a solid second place, unfortunately with a very big gap from Márquez in the standings but also with a large gap over the third-place rider [Viñales].”

Every rider and team has made its 2019 play, and the results are in. On Tuesday, the tests begin that introduce the 2020 season. Will the teams whose strategies have not met with success present their riders next spring with further perfected muzzle loaders? Or will there be evidence of new thinking?

Categories: Motorcycles

Run The Right Oil In Your Two-Stroke Motorcycle Engine

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 13:24

Magical and mystical, two-stroke engines are like the unicorns of the motorcycle world. With as few as three moving parts, they are the ultimate in internal-combustion simplicity, and because they have a power stroke every 360 degrees instead of 720 degrees for a four-stroke engine, they make terrific power for their size. An essential ingredient in keeping these unicorns alive is two-stroke oil. The later two-stroke streetbikes used oil-injection systems that dispensed the right volume of oil to the engine based on throttle position and engine speed, whereas racebikes, including current products from certain bike builders, require premixing oil with the gas. It’s not so very hard to do, and with the benefits of riding a two-stroke, why, there’s no equal! Read on for some top oil choices.

Maxima Castor 927


If you’re into two-strokes that use premix oil, try Maxima Castor 927 for that great racing-oil exhaust smell and top protection too. (Amazon /)

A longtime favorite among competition types, racing castor protects beautifully against high temperatures, stressors, and engine speeds, despite, in the old days, being gummy and coking engine parts with a tough, baked-on residues. Thankfully, Maxima’s modern Castor 927 offers the former and sidesteps the latter by blending castor with synthetics and additives. The result is outstanding protection for your premix two-stroke engine under the toughest conditions. And it smells great!

Lucas Oil Semi-Synthetic 2-Cycle Oil


Used in either injection systems or as a premix, Lucas Oil Semi-Synthetic 2-Cycle Oil provides both strong protection and value. (Amazon /)

Lucas Oil is a huge motocross supporter, and that energy shows in the company’s product line. This oil is ideal for two-stroke dirt bikes as well as classic two-stroke streetbikes, where its “smokeless” technology will help you earn friends, not enemies, as you smoke virtually every other vehicle off the line. The semi-synthetic formula helps make this oil a good value, and since Lucas Oil says its recipe mixes with gasoline well at all temperatures, you can also use it in your two-stroke ATV, boat, or snow machine.

Red Line Two-Stroke Synthetic Engine Lubricant


Using premium ester base oils, Red Line’s two-stroke synthetic engine lubricant provides peak protection under tough conditions. (Amazon /)

For four decades now, Red Line has specialized in creating top-quality engine lubricants such as this two-stroke racing oil. Suitable for use in oil-injection systems as well as premix applications, this synthetic lubricant utilizes premium ester base oils for exceptionally high film strength, even at racing’s high temperatures. Red Line says the oil increases power, offers excellent scuff protection, and burns exceptionally clean, all traits that two-stroke devotees want and need.

Categories: Motorcycles

Safe Storage Solutions For Garage Chemicals

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 12:01

If you service your own motorcycle—change the oil and filter, clean and lube the drive chain, or bleed the brake system—you need an appropriate place to store the chemicals associated with those jobs. This is especially crucial if you have small children. Safety of the little ones aside, you’ve got to keep funnels, spray cleaners, and half-empty oil containers somewhere, right? Accidentally kicking a dirty drain pan haphazardly shoved beneath your workbench is a frustration easily avoided. Let’s be clear: We’re talking basic storage here, not toxic-waste receptacles. Our picks won’t break the bank and will help keep your garage safe and tidy.

Steel SnapIt Storage Cabinet


This locking steel cabinet comes with two keys and has two adjustable shelves. (Amazon /)

A basic two-door locking cabinet is a great way to store chemicals in the garage. This two-shelf steel cabinet can be wall-mounted or placed beneath a workbench for easy access. With external dimensions of 42 x 36 x 18 inches, it’s a good choice for home mechanics who don’t want to take up valuable space with a much-larger unit.

Craftsman Garage Storage Cabinet


Like other Craftsman products, this wall cabinet is made in the USA. (Amazon /)

If aesthetics are a priority in your garage, buy a Craftsman wall cabinet to mount above your matching tool chest. The locking steel cabinet can be mounted directly to wall studs or to Craftsman’s VersaTrack modular organization system. With a single shelf inside, it’s just about the right size to keep chain lube and quart containers of motor oil out of sight and under lock and key.

Homz Tough Durabilt Tote Box


Durabilt totes are available in multiple sizes to suit your needs. Heavy-duty lids are designed to ease stackability. (Amazon /)

If cabinets are beyond your budget, Durabilt stackable totes are a great way to hide frequently used garage chemicals. And they’re ideal for storing oil drain pans and funnels. If you spill a little oil in them, no sweat: They’re easy to clean and not so expensive that a minor mess feels like you just soiled a Louis Vuitton trunk.

Categories: Motorcycles

Roll Your Own Your Motorcycle Tool Kit

Mon, 11/18/2019 - 07:42

Back in the day, motorcycles came with real tool kits. BMW was especially known for including quality tools with its machines. These days, if you buy a new bike, the salesman might hand you a cheap spark-plug wrench in a plastic bag and say, “Here’s the tool kit,” as though you should expect your bike will never have any mechanical problems. If you’re assembling a real tool kit, you’ll need a good tool roll. You could use a large Ziploc bag, but it will likely tear before your first trip ends. So get something durable that will last. And if you’re not already carrying a tool kit on your bike, maybe picking up a cool organizer is all the motivation you need to put one together.

Rugged Tools 32-Pocket Organizer


Buckle closures and 10-socket organizer are two convenience features that make the Rugged Tools organizer more than just a bargain. (Amazon /)

This 32-pocket Rugged Tools roll is a no-nonsense organizer for your pliers, screwdrivers, sockets, wrenches, and the like. It’s basic, affordable, and will easily do the job. This roll has 10 dedicated socket holders and is manufactured from 600-denier polyester so it should hold up well over time. It’s large enough to swallow a well-thought-out tool kit, but not so huge as to take up half the available space in a saddlebag or trunk.

Velomacchi Speedway Multi-Pocket Universal Tool Kit Roll


The Velomacchi tool roll has nice touches, like aluminum closure clasps and snaps on the cover that pinch the ends to prevent parts from rolling around. (Amazon /)

Velomacchi is known for its stylish backpacks and retro-style gloves. The Oregon-based outfit also makes a functional tool roll with some pretty nifty features. In addition to standard slots of various sizes, it has a see-through zippered pocket to stash sockets, rolls of tape, etc. Plus, one of our favorite features, the cover doubles as a work surface, which should dissuade you from leaving a tool on the pavement when you’re finished patching up your ride. There’s even a small magnet sewn into the cover to keep track of small parts.

Large Waxed-Canvas Tool Roll


Waxed canvas is durable, water-resistant, and looks better with age. (Amazon /)

A waxed canvas and leather tool roll is probably the best gift for the vintage British motorcycle enthusiast. Or maybe it’s kind of a cruel joke. Either way, it would look just right with the bike. With plenty of slots for your Whitworth wrenches, a leather strap for a ratchet, and a large zippered compartment for odds and ends (or bits and bobs, as the Brits would say), it makes for a useful companion around town or on the road.

Categories: Motorcycles

Make Motorcycle Exhaust-Pipe Headers Great Again

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 13:33

The expansion-chamber exhaust pipes that have graced two-stroke dirt bikes for decades have historically been painted black—and more recently sometimes plated for more bling and durability. Black paint makes sense as a standard coating because it keeps the production costs low, is easily redone with aftermarket rattle-can paints, and in the event touch-ups or repairs to the pipe are needed, limited areas can be painted, even with the pipe still mounted. Try that with nickel plating! Getting the right sheen or finish with over-the-counter paint can be tricky though, due to some paints being too shiny and others too flat. In addition, and hopefully obviously, the selected paint should be heat-resistant to withstand the high temperatures present at the header pipe. Here are some viable choices.

Design Engineering High-Temperature Silicone Coating Spray


Design Engineering’s High-Temperature Silicone Coating Spray gives your exhaust pipes 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit of durable thermal protection. (Amazon /)

Rated at up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, High-Temperature Silicone Coating Spray from Design Engineering is said to protect exhaust headers, pipes, and engine blocks—any hot surface in fact. This includes exhaust wrap, which the coating spray is said to penetrate, seal and protect, ultimately prolonging its life span. Likewise, it provides protection from abrasions, hot oil spills, and road grime. High-Temperature Silicone Coating Spray comes in large 16-ounce aerosol cans.

VHT Flameproof Coating Flat Black Paint


At its best when used with a primer color and clear coat, VHT Flameproof Coating Flat Black Paint protects up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. (Amazon /)

A well-known name in spray-on exhaust coatings, VHT offers this flat black in an affordable 11-ounce aerosol cans. Its matte finish incorporates a ceramic silicone base that’s widely used in automotive exhaust paints. When applied and cured according to directions, the paint is said to withstand temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, significantly protecting the life of high-heat surfaces. Interestingly, the maker says this paint does best when used with a primer color paint and clear-coat process.

Helix Racing Products High-Temperature Exhaust Paint


Made with a ceramic formula, Helix Racing Products’ High-Temperature Exhaust Paint provides 2,000-degree Fahrenheit protection for exhaust pipes, wraps, and more. (Amazon /)

Using a ceramic formula to increase heat dispersion, Helix Racing Products’ black High-Temperature Exhaust Paint is billed as being able to withstand intermittent temperatures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Suitable for both fiberglass exhaust pipes and wraps, it is also oil and gas resistant. Thus, it’s an ideal product to use when you want your exhaust system to maintain its good looks for a long time. But there’s more! Sold in 11-ounce cans, this high-temperature exhaust paint is said to additionally protect radiators, oil coolers, and similar components.

Categories: Motorcycles

These Air Compressor Tools Are Ideal For Motorcyclists

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:44

If you think pneumatic tools are the province of diesel mechanics, farmers, and contractors, you’re not wrong. But they also have a place in a motorcyclist’s garage. From applying mondo torque to free seized bolts that Liquid Wrench can’t touch to using a blow gun to dry your bike’s hidden recesses, pneumatic tools come in handy. Plus, the sound of an impact wrench gratuitously “revving” is one of the more satisfying noises in any garage. It’s not quite up there with the exhaust note emanating from the Kerker 4-into-1 pipe on a Kawasaki KZ1000R Eddie Lawson Replica after the engine was fired up for the first time in decades. Okay, it’s nowhere close. But still…

Ingersoll Rand 2115 TiMax 3/8-Inch Impactool


Capable of 300 pound-feet of max torque—eat your heart out, internal-combustion engines—the 2115 TiMax has a four-position power regulator. (Amazon /)

If you need torque for a big motorcycle task, check out this 3/8-inch impact wrench from Ingersoll Rand. Motorcyclists need to use impact wrenches with caution because bikes aren’t, you know, tractors; loosening small aluminum nuts and bolts typically doesn’t require huge torque. If, however, a hack mechanic has over-torqued your bike’s rear axle nut, a quality impact wrench will prevent you from muttering a machine-gun barrage of expletives.

Motion Pro Fill Air Chuck


With a standard 1/4-inch inlet size, the Pro Fill chuck will accommodate quick couplers. (Amazon /)

Another solid product from Motion Pro, the Pro Fill air chuck makes topping up your tires a breeze. The Pro Fill has a pivoting head and a long handle so it can properly engage hard-to-reach valve stems, a particular problem on wire-spoked wheels or bikes with the dreaded 330mm front brake disc/180-degree valve-stem combo. If you’ve invested in a quality air compressor, you’ll want a good chuck to go with it. How does one machined from billet aluminum sound?

FirstInfo Two-Way Air-Duster Blow Gun


The FirstInfo air gun has a max rating of 140 psi. A flow-control knob lets you monitor pressure. (Amazon /)

After washing your motorcycle and toweling it dry, there are likely still lots of nooks and crannies filled with water. A simple solution is to take a quick spin to air dry the bike, but that’s not always convenient or even possible. With a pneumatic air-gun attachment, however, you can eradicate the silent corroder that is standing water so you can sleep soundly and spend your worrying quota on something more pressing.

Categories: Motorcycles

Jorge Lorenzo Announces Retirement From MotoGP

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 08:37

On the eve of the season-ending MotoGP race at Valencia, Jorge Lorenzo (seen here in April at Circuit of The Americas) held a press conference to announce his retirement. The five-time world champion recalled his career highlights with the lucidity and smoothness that characterized his riding style. (Andrew Wheeler/automotophoto.com/)

“Is this really worth it?” Eighteen years of world championship-level racing—152 podium finishes, 68 Grand Prix victories, and five world titles, three in MotoGP—were frozen in a handful of seconds. As he was tumbling through the gravel at Assen this past June, Jorge Lorenzo was wondering if he could justify further injury after all he had already achieved.

When he returned home with two fractured vertebrae, Lorenzo didn’t want to make a rash decision, but one thing was certain: If he were to continue to push his body beyond its limit, he needed to be incredibly fit and highly motivated. In addition, the Assen crash was similar to the fall that paralyzed three-time 500cc world champion Wayne Rainey from the chest down in 1993—a scary warning.

In Malaysia two weeks ago, Lorenzo finally made the decision that he communicated to Alberto Puig, the former 500cc GP winner who had signed the 32-year-old Spaniard 12 months ago to a two-year contract with the Repsol Honda team.

“There are four highlights in the life of a rider,” Lorenzo began on Thursday in front of a packed media center at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, “the debut in the world championship, the first GP win, the first title, and the day of retirement. This day has arrived for me, and Valencia will be my last GP as a professional rider.”


Lorenzo won both of his 250cc world titles on Aprilias. He moved to MotoGP in 2008 and was immediately competitive, earning four pole positions and six podiums, including a victory in Portugal. He won the premier-class title in 2010, ’12, and ’15—all on factory Yamahas. (Andrew Wheeler/automotophoto.com/)

With this sentence, Lorenzo said goodbye to MotoGP. Sitting in the first rows were fellow riders and the team principals with whom he has worked, invited one by one by Lorenzo himself. His mechanics were also there, starting from the Yamaha factory crew with which he spent what he described as the nine best years of his career.

“I made my first steps on a bike when I was three years old,” he said. “Twenty years of motorsport at the highest level requires full commitment and dedication. I lived at such intensity, and I have always been a hard worker and a perfectionist.

RELATED: Fabio Quartararo Is The Future Of MotoGP

“I lived nine wonderful years in Yamaha, and then I needed a change, a boost of motivation to continue to be at the top of my skills. I signed with Ducati, and it was tougher than I imagined but that victory in Mugello in front of the Ducati fans repaid all the sacrifices. Being an HRC factory rider is a dream of all riders, and I’m sorry that I disappointed Honda. Unfortunately, injuries and a long adaptation to the bike didn’t allow me to get the results we wanted.”


Lorenzo won three races during his two seasons at Ducati. If he becomes bored with long vacations on sandy beaches, a role as a Yamaha test rider could be a win-win solution for both parties. “I’m sure that Lorenzo is still competitive if he jumps on an M1,” former Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi said. (Andrew Wheeler/automotophoto.com/)

Lorenzo said the 2010 season, his first MotoGP title with Yamaha, gave him “freedom” as a rider. He was seeking the motivation to always be at the highest level, and he found it. “Winning my first MotoGP title was the highlight of my career,” he said, “then Brazil 2003 [first 125cc race win with Derbi], Valencia 2006 [250cc title with Aprilia], and Valencia 2015 [third MotoGP title]. Assen 2013 was also incredible, as I proved how the mind can push the body to the limit.”

Behind the smile and occasional tear, ghosts of an undefined future were softened by what appeared to be an emancipation from a nightmare season. “This morning, I was more nervous than I have ever been before a race,” he said. “I’m sad, but I also feel liberated. Now you will see the other side of Jorge, the one who is more relaxed. In these years, I always had the pressure to prove something. Of course, I will miss something: As riders, we live to feel the adrenaline of the race and the feeling of being complete that the victory gives you.”

Lorenzo was in a very deep hole. At Phillip Island three weeks ago, he finished 16th, more than a minute behind race-winning teammate Marc Márquez. The following Sunday at Sepang, he was 14th, 34 seconds down. This situation couldn’t continue. Was the RC213V the only reason for such poor results? With Márquez on top of the world, having clinched a sixth premier-class world title with the same machine, no one doubted the Honda is a winner. The hunger, motivation, and dedication to riding beyond the edge of traction were missing. Fighting to be in the top 10 was an insult to Lorenzo’s palmarès and also to Honda.


Lorenzo was contracted to ride for Repsol Honda through the 2020 season. “I admire the man and the rider,” team manager Alberto Puig (left) said. “Jorge is a gentleman and a grateful person. I’m sorry that the rider/machine combination didn’t work.” Lorenzo’s best finish on the Honda this year is 11th at Le Mans. (Honda/)

At Valencia, Lorenzo was impressed by the warm applause he received from fellow riders, team principals, and the MotoGP community. It was recognition he had always sought during his career. “So many hugs and kisses,” he said.

One by one, Lorenzo said goodbye to former Ducati colleagues, teammate Andrea Dovizioso, test rider Michele Pirro, and Gigi Dall’Igna who wanted Lorenzo so badly on the factory Desmosedici. He likewise acknowledged former Yamaha chief mechanic Ramon Forcada, Wilco Zeelenberg, team manager at his time in Yamaha, and, finally, Puig and Kuwata-san, the HRC boss. Seeing a senior Japanese engineer with shiny eyes is not common, but Lorenzo’s retirement left even top management feeling emotional.

“We will miss a great champion,” Valentino Rossi said. “Since [Lorenzo’s] arrival in MotoGP and as my teammate, I was impressed by his speed and determination.” Dovizioso added, “Jorge Lorenzo raised my level.” Current teammate Márquez: “He has worked until the last race with the same dedication as on the first race. This tells a lot about him.”

Lorenzo left the smallest of openings for a possible return to racing. At 95 percent, he said, this is a definite goodbye. “I have many passions, and it’s time for me to relax, enjoy some long vacations on sunny beaches, and then I will start to plan my future.”

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Categories: Motorcycles

Behind The BST Hypertek Electric Motorcycle

Fri, 11/15/2019 - 07:42

The major masses: simple carbon frame, in-unit fork tubes and upper/lower crowns, “tank” housing power supply and control electronics, metallic-orange radiator, below it the main battery section, and under the seat, the electric motor. (BST/barrywhitephoto.com/)

As the wraps are whisked off the fab prototype, almost invisible in the center of the crowd here at the big glitzy international show, hold your phone high, maybe even hop for added height, trying to be first to get an image to your publication. Damn! Overloaded the local cell tower again! Too many of us, all trying to blow big graphics files through. A millisecond too late means clicks that could have been yours fly to a competitor’s site, and lost clicks mean you’re deleted.

For the information seeker, gee whiz may be the only response. Rad. Seriously futurismo. Reminds me of the Death Star. Wonder what any of it means. Wanna get something to eat?For me, the first impact of the BST Hypertek electric motorcycle is names: designer Pierre Terblanche and engineer Gary Turner. Turner’s BlackStone Tek outfit in South Africa has sold 30,000 carbon-fiber motorcycle wheels. That means serious money, like $50 million. These are people of great accomplishment, not science-fair entrants ordering parts from the Grainger catalog to be fastened together with Dexion.

This is minimalism, like the Sachs “Beast” of 2000 from Target Design: two wheels, an engine, and a place to sit. Why no plastic? Two reasons. One, this is surely an urban project, and two, remember what the late John Britten said: Streamlining for a motorcycle is mainly achieving the lowest possible frontal area. If it can be small, why make it big? This electric motorcycle actually explores new possibilities presented by electric powertrains.

The usual approaches to electric-bike design are two:

  1. A shapeless suitcase of batteries slung between two wheels. Why so ugly? Well, we had to let the public know we aren’t, you know, motorcycle enthusiasts. We’re more like, uh, Prius people.
  2. A conformist&nbsp;<a href="https://www.cycleworld.com/sportbike/">faired sportbike</a>&nbsp;with the combustion engine lifted out and 350 pounds of batteries and electrical machinery stuffed in its place. Weight is 589 pounds.

Weight is clearly a central issue. How can we be rid of it? Can’t do much about the battery because the scheduled breakthroughs are behind schedule, so let’s start with vehicle structure.Boeing 787 designers knew that every pound of structure requires a pound of fuel to carry it, so the lighter the structure the less fuel needs to be carried. Aluminum is traditional, but carbon fiber (CFRP) offers a 15 times greater specific stiffness (ratio of stiffness to weight). Practical designs can’t realize all of that; there has to be an adhesive to bind the ultra-strong fibers into a solid structure, and methods of fastening CFRP to metal components weigh something as well.


Minimalism! If you don’t need it, it’s not here. The green unit below the main battery case has room for a range-extending third battery group. Zoltan the Annihilator rides again! (BST/barrywhitephoto.com/)

Motorcyclists have long thought of carbon fiber as something light and expensive, but mainly for making glossy but functionally boring bits like fenders and seats. They look good in the Ducati accessory catalog. But now that carbon swingarms have found a specific purpose, who knows what may come next?

In the case of BST Hypertek, both the abbreviated chassis and the integrated unit consisting of upper fork tubes and both fork crowns are carbon. Carbon structure saves serious weight.A conversation with Terblanche at a European show where the Ducati 999 was present revealed that he has interests other than styling, namely simplicity and manufacturability. Manmade creations accumulate parts and complexity, so someone must from time to time “simplify and add lightness.” Terblanche showed us examples on the machine itself. Reduced parts counts cut costs and simplify assembly and service.

RELATED: 2021 CBR1000RR-R Is Honda’s Response To The Ducati V4 R

Now consider this bike’s DHX Hawk 60 permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, which is unusually small and light. Its producer, DHX Machines, is in—surprise!—Braselton, Georgia. Traditional electric motors are large and heavy because they are limited by the heat they generate. The danger of overheating is that the insulating enamel on the motor’s wire windings will be destroyed by high temperature, rendering the motor useless. If that heat could somehow be extracted, they could be made much smaller and lighter. The important innovation here is compact, 3D-printed hollow heat exchangers (each like a thin, narrow card), small enough to be fitted, one in each of the motor’s many stator winding slots and in contact with the heat-generating windings themselves, to carry away their heat via circulating fluid.


Oops, something is missing. Could it be the front belt sprocket? The DHX Hawk 60 motor drives forward to a shaft below, plus bevel gears to the sprocket. Air shock (lower right) lives between the swingarm beams. (BST/barrywhitephoto.com/)

With active liquid-cooling of every wire bundle, more electric current can safely be pushed through the motor, allowing great power to be produced from small, light packages. Instead of weighing the nearly 600 pounds of many electric motorcycles, Hypertek is claimed to “only” weigh 450 pounds. Yes, that’s still substantial, but it’s a change in the right direction. This is design, working toward desired goals.

Terblanche shared some details with us on his way home from Milan: “The suspension is similar to the Horst Leitner-designed suspension on the ATK motocrossers.” What you see between the upper and lower beams of the single-sided swingarm “is a K-Tech air shock actuated by a linkage that runs under the swingarm. I put it there because there is no other ‘there.’ ”


A well-known and respected player in the exotic wheel game: South Africa-based BlackStone Tek produces flawless carbon-fiber work, with mirror-like surfaces. (BST/barrywhitephoto.com /)

“There are three battery packs containing 2,170 cells from Panasonic [as in Tesla Model 3]. We are looking at 4.75 kWh for both top packs [symmetrical]. These are mounted horizontally to lower the center of gravity and to aid cooling. An auxiliary pack can be mounted below these to add range.

“The motor drives forward to a clutch, which has a bevel-drive shaft to the output sprocket. It uses a 20mm Gates belt. Above the top batteries is the electronic module [power supply, controller, etc.]. A clutch is fitted to enable easier wheelies and burnouts.”

Successful weight reduction. Distinguished design that departs from the expected. Actual electric powertrain innovation, not just more mix and match from the usual suppliers. Structural uniqueness.

Categories: Motorcycles

Top 5 Craziest Motorcycles From EICMA 2019

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 14:46

The BST Hypertek, designed by Pierre Terblanche. (BST /)

EICMA 2019 was full of surprises, not least of which were the range of truly unique motorcycles and the storylines no one could have predicted. Who here expected we’d be talking about Pierre Terblanche, Aston Martin, and Bimota?

The dominant narrative spun by the motorcycle industry is pretty gloomy: Dealerships are closing, the younger generation isn’t into bikes, the gold mine of boomer money is being spent on hospice care or something (not on new bikes, at least). We know, we know. But the major OEMs—as well as boutique manufacturers—are producing completely badass motorcycles. If anything, hard times are making everyone dig deeper, be super innovative, and take more risks.


Billet aluminum and carbon fiber for days. (Bimota/)

Kawasaki revives Bimota and makes a Tesi with an H2 engine. Pierre Terblanche designs an electric bike that’s as futuristic as anything from _Terminator_. Aston Martin and Brough Superior have a marriage made in heaven that produces a turbocharged love child for the über-rich. A little Swedish brand makes folksy people-movers that hearken back to the post-war years when motorcycles were cheap transportation for the masses. And Adrian Morton has so much fun at the design table that he can’t help but give us a bonus MV Agusta 1000. So yeah. Things could be a lot worse.


The AMB 001 by Aston Martin and Brough Superior, a $220,000 track-only motorcycle. (Brough Superior/)

No one’s denying the industry has fallen on hard times, but radical new bikes suggest—like in every age—there’s a silver lining, a contrapositive script. Old marques are rejuvenated. Once-shuttered dealerships become DIY community garages. Says Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

So it goes in the motorcycle world. EICMA 2019 was the season of crazy motorcycles born in a spirit of new-age thinking amid age-old troubles.

Bimota Tesi H2


We haven’t seen a Kawasaki-powered Bimota since the early 1980s. Kudos to Kawasaki for knowing the H2 engine is what everyone would want in a Bimota. (Bimota /)

When news broke that Kawasaki purchased a large minority share in Bimota, the storied Italian marque famed for its clever chassis designs and dramatic bodywork, we were very curious to see what would happen. And now this: the Bimota Tesi H2. Kawasaki Heavy Industries is now in the patronage business. It’s not only done the good work of reviving a beloved brand, but it hasn’t even made us wait for its first all-new motorcycle. And fittingly, it’s a Tesi. Kawasaki endowed the Tesi H2 with its supercharged engine; Bimota did the rest. Hub-center steering, billet eye candy, top-shelf components: it’s all there.

AMB 001 by Aston Martin and Brough Superior


The press release says the AMB 001 is the first product to come from the partnership. So there will be more? (Brough Superior/)

Two of the most legendary names in motorsport combine for the track-only AMB 001. Turn up the Edward Elgar, pour a glass of Glenlivet, and gaze upon its beauty. With design duties by Aston Martin and engineering from the boffins at Brough Superior, the AMB 001 has a turbocharged V-twin producing a claimed 180 hp, all in a sub-400-pound package strutting with carbon fiber, titanium, and billet aluminum. Painted in Aston’s Stirling Green and Lime Essence racing colors, the motorcycle’s body takes inspiration from Aston’s own automobiles. At 200,000 euros (VAT included)—that’s just north of $220,000—and limited to only 100 examples, the AMB 001 will probably only end up in the hands of the ultra-rich. Think: the king of Jordan, a stern Russian shipping magnate, or a spiky-haired boy band singer. Still, we’re glad it exists.

MV Agusta Rush 1000


MV Agusta Rush 1000. Check out the carbon fiber aero cover on the rear wheel. Price unknown. (MV Agusta/)

We’re thrilled MV Agusta is grazing in greener pastures, flush with capital, releasing new models, and resting in the very capable hands of Massimo Bordi (the engineer behind Ducati’s Desmoquattro) in his new role as executive vice president and head of production and quality control. Based on the brand-new Brutale 1000 RR, the Rush 1000 is an MV styling exercise gone right. It looks like nothing else on the market and has performance to walk the walk, producing a claimed 209 hp and 86 pound-feet of torque when fitted with the custom SC Project exhaust. Crystalline creative vision executed perfectly suggests that MV’s designers are in an environment that allows them to flourish and push the boundaries of two-wheeled design. It signals that MV is back in a big way,

Cake Ösa+


The Ösa qualifies as a moped, so state regulations will determine what kind of license you need to ride it on public roads. The Ösa starts at $4,500 and the Ösa+ starts at $6,500. (Cake/)

The Cake Ösa+ is the latest electric bike from the Swedish manufacturer known for the Kalk, a machine that’s functionally somewhere between an electric bike and an electric motorcycle. Now, it’s exploring the fundamental simplicity of the motorcycle in hopes of changing its identity from recreational vehicle to utilitarian transport for the Western world. The Ösa and Ösa+ have varying batteries and powertrains (the largest Li-ion battery has a range of around 63 miles) and has an optional power converter that can power tools and other equipment. With the bike’s attached workbench, Cake envisions a world of urban farmers, carpenters, and moms with small children zipping around and minding their business—sounds like a utopian real-life Richard Scarry book.

BST Hypertek


The BST Hypertek. Where does one begin? (BST /)

What does a carbon fiber wheel maker know about making electric motorcycles? Enough to hire Pierre Terblanche to be the designer, apparently. Terblanche is best known as the head designer at Ducati around the turn of the new millennium. Responsible for the 999/749, the original Multistrada, Supermono, Hypermotard, and Sport Classic line, Terblanche was harshly criticized by conservative Ducatisti. But his designs have held up remarkably. Now he’s set his pen to designing the electric bike of your dreams for BST, the British firm best known for its carbon fiber wheels. The Hypertek is a bespoke machine with a US-made DHX Hawk water-cooled electric motor that BST claims produces more than 100 hp and 88 pound-feet of torque. BST cites an impressive range of 186 miles and a DC/DC quick charge time of 30 minutes. The carbon fiber monocoque chassis and elemental styling are unlike anything we’ve seen before. For a guy who’s loaned his skills to Ducati, Norton, Confederate, and Royal Enfield, we’re not the least bit surprised Terblanche can design pretty much anything as long as it has two wheels and an engine, er, motor.


Bimota Tesi H2. Quickshifter, dual Öhlins electronic suspension. (Bimota/)
Welcome back, Bimota. (Bimota/)
The MV’s 998cc motor features a revised combustion chamber for higher performance. (MV Agusta/)
The Oxford Tan leather saddle on the AMB 001. The central fin is designed to mimic the side strake on Aston Martin automobiles.
Don’t see that emblem on a motorcycle every day.
V-twin turbo, structural carbon fiber body, double wishbone front end. From the looks of it, the engine is a version of Brough’s 997cc 88-degree V-twin.
The BST Hypertek features a non-slipper/regenerative clutch that allows riders to rev the bike at a standstill. Photo: BST (BST /)
The HyperTek also includes a Cross helmet with a heads-up display and features a built-in sound generator, cruise control, and hill-start control. (BST /)

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Categories: Motorcycles

2020 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1 First Ride

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 14:09

The updated 2020 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1 is here—or at least the company is taking orders for it. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycle/)

Arch Motorcycle’s KRGT-1 gets a host of upgrades, revisions, and redesigns for 2020, further staking its claim as a red-blooded American performance cruiser with composure and spirit. Our cruise on the updated 2020 KRGT-1 revealed a powerful, comfortable and competent hot rod with a stable chassis, endless power, and excellent brakes. But it all comes at a price.


The Öhlins inverted fork is adjustable for compression and rebound damping, and keep the rubber on the road without any undue wallowing. | Courtesy Arch Motorcycle | (Courtesy Arch Motorcycle/)

“Don’t wad it, don’t wad it, don’t wad it.”

Those three words kept scrolling across my brainpan as I pushed the brand-new $85,000 Arch KRGT-1 around the first couple of tightly decreasing radius bends on Angeles Crest Highway in the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles. Yes, there was an $85,000 motorcycle underneath me, but more importantly, it was one of only three 2020 models on hand. Another twist? Arch co-founder Keanu Reeves was joining us on our jaunt through the hills, and there were hints dropped that maybe, just _maybe_ I might be piloting his personal bike (he wouldn’t disclose it at the time). All those thoughts conspired to put a bit of a damper on my right wrist, and that was a crying shame because this particular motorcycle, I was finding out, liked to be flogged. And it was becoming more enjoyable as the day wore on.

That wasn’t how the morning started though. Call me cynical, but I came to the table with some preconceived notions, notions borne of prior experiences on bikes with 240 section rear tires mated to an oversize American V-twin. In the not so distant past, that combo didn’t necessarily deliver a solid recipe for a quick-handling motorcycle. At the pre-ride briefing, Arch co-founder Gard Hollinger tells me, right up front, that he’s used to getting that reaction from people.


The 2020 Arch KRGT-1 doesn’t go with traditional American V-twin lines, opting for a short, stubby, upswept tail, equal parts speedster and cruiser. (Courtesy Arch Motorcyle/)

A lifelong rider, mechanic, and designer, Hollinger has a design philosophy that has evolved into one of functional efficiency, purposefulness, and precision over the years, but always with a strong aesthetic statement. Arch Motorcycle Company, started by Hollinger and actor/motorcycle enthusiast Keanu Reeves in 2012, produces bespoke production motorcycles in a small state-of-the-art factory south of Los Angeles, and their latest offering is this new Arch KRGT-1.

It’s got a slightly new look this year, but the lines—the shoulders, the hips, the silhouette—of the 2020 machine still exude power and attitude that’s purely American, and not in an off-the-shelf, cookie-cutter kind of way. Arch calls the design retro-modern but it’s really its own thing, part café racer, part speedster, and part cruiser, and all muscle. The purposeful vibe fits the build execution, an amalgam of meticulously crafted billet aluminum, steel, and carbon fiber, supported by top-tier components and well-chosen finishes that flow exquisitely together.


The billet aluminum fuel tank’s contours were resculpted for 2020 to improve ergos, but it’s still comprised of two fuel cell halves. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycle/)

The contoured 5-gallon billet aluminum fuel tank, for instance—split into two cells—is the crown jewel of the KRGT-1’s bodywork. The upper frame tube emerges along the top, an exposed raw-metal spine separating the two halves of the tank, and in between those you’ll find the cleverly hidden Arch Down Draft Induction System. Because traditional V-twin side-mounted intakes would interfere with riders’ legs and disrupt ergonomics, Arch, in conjunction with S&S Cycle, developed this system to fit between the two fuel cells, under the backbone. Intake dams under the cowling shunt air to the big 124ci mill, while also functioning as a support frame for the aluminum headlight housing. Around the tank, layout has also been reshuffled for a more relaxed riding position.


Arch co-developed the 45-degree S&S Cycle T124 twin-cam V-twin for the KRGT-1 so that it could pass CARB/EPA and Euro 4 emissions regulations this year. (Courtest Arch Motorcycle/)

If the tank takes center stage, the Arch and S&S Cycle 124ci mill is a close second, just on sheer size alone. The 2,032cc signature 45-degree V-twin is now EPA/CARB-certified (thanks to Arch) and Euro 4 compliant as well, a massively complex process that both Hollinger and Reeves say was mind-melting. Serious power is on tap, but how much for this build has not been shared. Past versions of the Arch have delivered a claimed 122 hp and 122 pound-feet of torque (at the rear wheel, not the crank). Exhaust gases exit via a twisty, Arch-designed 2-into-1 stainless steel header system capped by a Yoshimura carbon fiber muffler.


The big V-twin cleverly hides the Arch Down Draft Induction System, which Arch developed with S&S Cycle. The system fits between the two fuel cells. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycle/)

2020 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1 Ride

Like I said, my initial contact with the bike wasn’t seamless. Those pesky preconceptions kept haunting me even as I heaved the KRGT-1 off the sidestand (there’s some weight to the thing). Turning the key, then the first twist of the throttle—then a backfire. Not to worry; as you’ve already read, 30 minutes into our route along the sinuous Angeles Crest Highway, I made my peace with the KRGT-1. The S&S engine had by then settled down into a throaty growl, with the expected big-twin vibes coming through at idle. Once underway the shakes diminished and it was business as usual.

As we rocketed out of each turn I grew to understand the bike’s manners. The KRGT-1 is heavy, but turn-in isn’t the armful I expected it to be; handling is purposeful and you learn to understand front-end feel after just a couple of miles. I figured out pretty quickly that high-speed sweepers are where the bike is in its element, with the 48mm Öhlins fork helping to deliver a solid, crazy-stable feeling that urges you to push harder. And if an unexpected twist shows up, the dual radially mounted six-piston ISR calipers are there to haul you down with one-finger stopping power. That’s not hyperbole—the ISR components combined with the two-channel Bosch ABS shed speed with ruthless efficiency. In every possible scenario we threw at them, braking power and feel was superb. The bike wants to stand up under heavy braking in corners, but its behavior was predictable and the bike never felt unsettled.


Dual 320mm ISR floating rotors with six-piston ISR calipers up front and two-channel Bosch ABS comes standard on all 2020 KRGT-1 models. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycles/)

For consecutive corners, some muscle definitely comes in handy—the KRGT-1 does roll on a 68.0-inch wheelbase and an 8-inch-wide rear tire after all—but after four hours of pretty consistent flogging, my shoulders didn’t feel the least bit worked. It’s a testament to the KRGT-1’s approachable manners that it’ll go where pointed. Pick your corner, stick the line, and the rest will follow. That’s simply not the norm for a big-wheel, lazy-raked, long-wheelbase American twin. This chassis is unwaveringly stable in any speed and never strayed off the line, with the beefy new Öhlins suspension keeping the rear end composed in rough stuff with ample support even at the stock settings, and the Michelin Commander IIs gripped determinedly at every hard turn.


The redesigned tailsection holds a newly reconfigured seat which figures into the improved ergonomic equation.

I wasn’t sure about the super-scooped saddle at first, but it turns out that high back sets you up in a good position to attack turns. You’re not on top of the motorcycle, you’re in it. Even the riding position was all-day—or at least half-day—comfortable, which isn’t always the case with forward-control machines. The bars had me hunching ever so slightly forward but seating was mostly upright, which proved to be a good combo for the kind of riding we were doing.

As the day wore on and we learned to trust the bike more, the default setting became charge the corners and flip it in. The bike’s behavior was steady and consistent, and you could afford to brake as late as you wanted with those excellent binders. As Reeves said at the pre-ride briefing: “You don’t have to ride this bike hard—let it ride you. It can do a lot of the work for you.” He was (mostly) right.


Race-inspired swingarm and chassis side plates are all designed and machined in-house. Virtually all metal work is precision-cut billet aluminum; nothing is stamped, cast, or forged. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycles /)

And that engine—there’s no mistaking this is a full-blooded, heavy-beating American V-twin. The burly 124ci-er is every bit as powerful as it sounds, with torque coming low but never really petering out at the higher revs. You won’t hear the words “buttery smooth” in this description, but then it should be plain that’s not what this bike is about. This is a motorcycle that doesn’t need to be revved out or ridden at high rpm, though it’s entertaining to hear all the snapping and cracking when you do—the sound is soul-stirring nirvana for musclebike aficionados.


The uncluttered cockpit features a Motogadget Motoscope Pro Digital display with info shown in retro red LEDs. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycles/)

As we wound up our four-hour ride and dismounted, the smiles came out. Hollinger and Reeves pulled up behind us, and we stood around chatting. “You know what? It’s not at all what I expected.” Hollinger laughed and said, “Yeah, I hear that a lot.”


DOT-legal rear lighting? Interestingly, there’s no plastic here; instead, Arch integrated this elegant polished metal with a reflective element, which houses LED lights inside. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycle/)

The phrase “performance cruiser” gets bandied about a lot these days, mostly by big OEMs keen to capitalize on a segment of the market that shows a thirst for style and speed. But within that term you’ll find many variations on the theme, with everything from the VMAX “power cruiser” to Harley’s FXDR 114 “muscle cruiser” to Ducati’s X Diavel “sport cruiser” defining the category. The Arch KRGT-1 is in some way all of those things and yet also none of those things. It takes burly American-style performance to a level of its own. And if you don’t like that, well then don’t buy it—that’s fine with Reeves and Hollinger, who by every measure are really as nice and humble a pair as you’d ever want to meet. They’re passionate about their creation, but recognize that it might not be everybody’s bag. And they’re cool with that.

Each Arch motorcycle is built to be unique, and the team works closely with the customer over a 90-day build process to tailor aesthetics and ergonomics to personal tastes. The final product is not your typical high-end custom mash-up bike dripping with chrome. It’s just pure metal artistry, with a strong dose of performance. The KRGT-1 manages to hit a level of refinement, superior fit and finish, and power and handling that earn it a unique position in the world of exotic motorcycling.


The 19 x 3-inch front and 18 x 8-inch rear BST ultralight carbon fiber wheels reduce unsprung mass to enhance ride and handling characteristics, says Arch. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycles/)
Arch says it worked with Yoshimura to integrate this carbon-fiber muffler with their 2-into-1 exhaust system. The exhaust note is impressive. (Courtesy Arch Motorcycle/)

Gear Box

Helmet: Shoei GT-Air (Gen 1)

Gloves: Dainese X-Run

Pants: Dainese Trento jeans

Boots: Harley-Davidson Steinman riding sneaker

2020 Arch KRGT-1 Specifications

.tg {border-collapse:collapse;border-spacing:0;} .tg td{font-family:Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;} .tg th{font-family:Arial, sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-weight:normal;padding:10px 5px;border-style:solid;border-width:1px;overflow:hidden;word-break:normal;border-color:black;} .tg .tg-0pky{border-color:inherit;text-align:left;vertical-align:top} MSRP $85,000 Engine 2,032cc, 45-degree Arch/S&S T124 V-twin Transmission/final drive 6-speed/chain Fuel system Downdraft fuel injection Claimed torque 121 lb.-ft. Frame Tubular steel/aluminum subframe Front suspension 48mm Arch/Öhlins inverted fork; fully adjustable Rear suspension Arch/Öhlins monoshock, fully adjustable Front brake 6-piston monoblock calipers, dual 320mm floating discs w/ ABS Rear brake ISR 4-piston monoblock caliper, 240mm ISR disc w/ ABS Front tire 120/70ZR-19 Michelin Commander II Rear tire 240/40R-18 Michelin Commander II Rake/trail 30.0°/5.0 in. Wheelbase 68.0 in. Seat height 27.8 in. Fuel capacity 5.0 gal. Claimed dry weight 538 lb. Contact archmotorcycle.com


Categories: Motorcycles

The Top 5 Motorcycles We Want To Race In 2020

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 14:07

Manufacturers have made going racing easier than ever, many of them delivering homologation specials or ready-to-race models that require no more than a tank of fuel. It's a great time to be a racer. There are, however, a number of production motorcycles that will fit the bill too, provided you're willing to spend a few hours in the garage prepping them for competition.

Seeing a batch of these motorcycles being unveiled at the 2019 EICMA show in Milan got us itching for the green flag to drop. Keep reading for the top five bikes we're dying to race in 2020.

Husqvarna FR 250 GP


The FR 250 GP is a purpose-built motorcycle with only one goal: winning Moto3 World Championship races. (Husqvarna/)

Husqvarna pulled the wraps off the FR 250 GP—a rebadged KTM Moto3 RC 250 racer. This purpose-built racebike marks Husky's reentry into the Moto3 World Championship in 2020 after a five-year hiatus, looking to expand the brand's identity in the street segment. The motorcycle above appears to be a works machine, boasting twin dual-piston Brembo brake calipers, WP suspension components, twin Akrapovič mufflers, and of course a high-revving, liquid-cooled, 249cc, DOHC single. Serious stuff.

Sure, the FR 250 GP is a full-blown race machine built to compete at a World Championship level and surely requires deep pockets (no pricing has been made available), but who wouldn’t want it to tear up the local races?

Aprilia RS 660


The Aprilia RS 660’s parallel-twin engine and RSV4-influenced design should serve as a strong basis for a club racing machine. (Aprilia/)

The Aprilia RS 660 may not be the obvious choice for a race platform but, damn, would it be fun. The all-new Aprilia is powered by a 660cc, forward-facing, DOHC, parallel-twin engine that Aprilia says is good for 105 hp. Combine that with a claimed 373-pound dry weight for a strong power-to-weight ratio and the Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) ride-by-wire electronics package, and this is set to be a motorcycle that threatens the current middleweight twin competition.

Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP


Honda’s all-new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP will be available stateside in June of 2020 as a 2021 model. (Honda/)

Honda officially broke the news of the all-new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP at EICMA 2019, which is aimed at conquering World Superbike competition in 2020. Big Red spared no expense on the SP, reengineering the open-class literbike from the ground up with trickle-down technology from its efforts in MotoGP. In fact, Honda entirely reworked the engine structure, giving the Fireblade the same 81.0mm x 48.5mm bore and stroke as the RCV213V-S and claims 214 hp at 14,500 rpm and 83 pound-feet of torque at 12,500 rpm. Besides those impressive claims, the RR-R comes with top-shelf Brembo Stylema brake calipers, Öhlins semi-active suspension, and GP-derived winglets. All trick stuff and available to the public in limited numbers.

Besides, if the new RR-R is good enough for WSBK front-runner Álvaro Bautista, a set of fiberglass fairings and racing slicks should make it a competent club race weapon.

KTM 790 Adventure R Rally


KTM’s 790 Adventure R Rally asserts KTM’s “Ready to Race” mantra. (KTM/)

The KTM 790 Adventure R Rally means business. Obviously influenced by the lower-spec 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R models, the Rally takes off-road prowess to the next level with the inclusion of top-shelf WP Xplor 7548 front and 6746 rear suspension and an additional 30mm (1.2 inches) of travel. The new up-spec model also gets D.I.D Dirt Star rims and a redesigned seat aimed at easing rider movement in the tough stuff.

A $19,499 MSRP and very limited production means it will take some luck to score the 2020 790 Adventure R Rally, but our blood is flowing just thinking of tackling a desert race aboard it. That would be the closest we will ever be to feeling like Baja 1000 champ Quinn Cody or ADV ripper Chris Birch.

Ducati Panigale V4 R


The Ducati Panigale V4 R is a homologation-special superbike that you too could own—should you bring the $39,995. (Ducati/)

Ducati does racing. Proof? The Panigale V4 R—a short-stroke, homologation-special literbike with MotoGP DNA. The R model is powered by a World Superbike-legal 998cc liquid-cooled V-4 that's worthy of 203.99 hp at 15,820 rpm and 76.65 pound-feet of torque at 12,300 rpm on the Cycle World dyno. But that's not to discount the Öhlins gas-charged, titanium-nitride-coated NPX 25/30 fork and TTX 36 shock or the various racing-focused upgrades, including the racing-derived aerodynamic winglets!

That said, the Ducati V4 R is darn near ready to race, hold for some safety wire and a set of race bodywork.

Categories: Motorcycles

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 13:24

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire (Harley-Davidson/)

Harley-Davidson and the electric motorcycle, two things that not so long ago would have been completely antithetical to one another. But for 2020, Harley-Davidson has lived up to the promise it made in 2014, releasing the all-electric LiveWire to the public. Priced just shy of $30K, the LiveWire, with its H-D Revelation motor and 15.5 kWh battery, breaks from the traditional petrol-powered V-twins that made The Motor Company an icon; so too the sport aesthetic. But as Harley-Davidson pushes to remain relevant in an evolving market, change is inevitable. The LiveWire is no design curio but an impressive performer with instant torque—a claimed 86 pound-feet—Showa suspension, Brembo brakes, and a roster of electronic aids, including selectable ride modes, traction control, cornering ABS, rear-wheel lift mitigation, and drag-torque slip control.

Editors were impressed by an early production model. “The connection between the throttle and rear tire is very refined, delivering a communicative sense of control. Roll-on acceleration at highway speeds is impressive, and the LiveWire pulls steady and strong through 100 mph.” Claimed range between charges is 146 miles in the city and 70 miles at 70 mph on the highway.


2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire (Harley-Davidson/)

2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire Reviews, Comparisons, And Competition

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire First Ride
Harley's 2020 Lineup Adds Low Rider S and LiveWire Models
Harley-Davidson Releases Performance Numbers On The LiveWire
Production Harley-Davidson LiveWire Makes European Debut At EICMA
Harley-Davidson LiveWire Electric Motorcycle - FIRST RIDE


2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire (Harley-Davidson/)

Manufacturer Claimed Specifications

Price $29,799 Motor Liquid-cooled, synchronous electric Horsepower 105 hp Torque 86 lb.-ft. Transmission 1-speed Final Drive Belt Seat Height 30.7 in. Rake 24.5 ° Trail 4.3 in. Front Suspension 43mm fully adjustable; 4.5-in. travel Rear Suspension Fully adjustable; 4.5-in. travel Front Tire 120/70-17 Rear Tire 180/55-17 Wheelbase 58.7 in. Battery 15.5 kWh, DC fast charge Claimed Wet Weight 549 lb.

Cycle World Tested Specifications

Seat Height N/A Dry Weight N/A Rear-Wheel Horsepower N/A Rear-Wheel Torque N/A 0–60 mph N/A 1/4-mile N/A Braking 30–0 mph N/A Braking 60–0 mph N/A

Categories: Motorcycles

Ramps For Loading Your Motorcycle Quickly, Easily, And Safely

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:41

Loading and unloading motorcycles from a truck or trailer is a bit of a voodoo science, wherein experience brings knowledge and knowledge brings smooth, safe results. Another benefit of experience is knowing what kind of ramp to use for different bikes, trucks, trailer, and conditions. In general, though, the longer and wider the ramp, the easier the loading job will be. Youth and exuberance, together with a short lightweight ramp, can load dirt bikes into a jacked-up 4x4. But this dog won’t hunt getting a 900-pound hog into the same truck with the same ramp and same kids. See? It’s all got to work together. The best thing, if you have the money and storage space, is a long, articulated, multi-piece aluminum ramp system that lets you walk alongside your bike during loading or unloading. Bottom line: Examine your needs and choose a ramp to suit. Winner.

Pit Posse Aluminum Loading Ramp


If you’ve got a basic bike, particularly a dirt bike, get back to basics with the 6-foot Pit Posse aluminum loading ramp. (Amazon/)

This basic ramp is a throwback to the 1970s. Made of 6061 extruded aluminum, with dimple-formed traction holes in the channel, the 6-inch wide ramp features a 6-foot working surface and is 6.3 feet long overall including the steel tongue. The carrying capacity is 400 pounds—sufficient for dirt bikes but not big ADVs or sport-tourers. As well, the large rear tires on big road burners won't fit inside the channel. Thus, this ramp's target buyer is the off-road rider whose lightweight bike has adequate ground clearance to clear the breakover angle where ramp and truck bed meet.

Yutrax Folding Aluminum Ramp


Supporting up to 750 pounds, the Yutrax folding aluminum ramp offers a high-grip mesh surface and is a confidence-inspiring foot wide. (Amazon/)

Measuring 7.4 feet long and 12 inches wide, this aluminum articulated ramp folds to 44.5 inches long for easy storage. Weighing just 17 pounds, it is therefore a lightweight solution to loading motorcycles up to 750 pounds. The ramp's gentle "S" curve reduces the breakover angle where the ramp meets truck or trailer bed. Translation: Low-slung bikes like cruisers or sportbikes are less prone to dragging their engines, pipes, or fairings, causing damage or the machine to get stuck. And in sun or snow, mud or rain, the mesh surface helps idealize traction.

Titan 4-Beam Aluminum Load Ramp


The Titan 10-foot aluminum ramp is a complete solution for loading and unloading heavy motorcycles and ATVs. (Amazon/)

When you really, absolutely don't want to fall over while loading or unloading your motorcycle, here's your ramp. Measuring 10 feet long and 3.3 feet wide overall, this aluminum ramp actually comes in three sections that can be positioned side by side by side or wide apart depending on need. The center section is 17.3 inches wide—plenty for even a big-inch cruiser's fat tires—and the two side sections are each 11.3 inches wide, adequate for walking alongside your bike. Bottom line: You move up and down the ramp alongside your bike, never losing the preferred ergonomics for control. Distributed over all three ramp sections, the Titan 4-Beam Aluminum Load Ramp can hold an impressive 2,700 pounds.

Categories: Motorcycles

Long-Term Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Update, Performance Part 1

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:26

<em>CW</em>'s long-term Tracer 900 GT parked next to its predecessor, the Yamaha FJ-09. The FZ-09, FJ-09, MT-09, and Tracers share the same unbreakable and rev-happy 847cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC inline-triple engine. (4theriders.com/)

Warning: I am often accused of loving every motorcycle made.

But that's not true… Well, not entirely true. I might use the word "love" a bit too much in this industry because most bikes offer a lot of lovely things, but when I'm writing a bike review that you might spend your hard-earned money on, I won't wax poetic unless the machine deserves the endearing accolades.

I love this Tracer GT.

A New Friend

The relationship started neutrally—friendly, but no fireworks—a year ago in Las Vegas at the AIMExpo. I rode the Tracer 900 GT from Las Vegas to Hurricane, Utah, then spent the next morning in Zion National Park, and ended the ride at my mom's house in Salt Lake City.

There, I washed it for the first time and found it fiddly to clean; numerous wheel spokes and mechanical parts not covered by full fairings meant this thing was a mess.

And, frankly, I didn’t think it was very pretty. Nor did I care for the wind buffeting with the stock screen, or the traction and feel of the stock tires, and the gearing felt too low in sixth for a ground-covering machine running untethered carrying only 4.8 gallons of fuel.


Yes, 7,300 miles and counting, with more than a few on dirt roads. The Tracer’s light weight makes easy work of unpaved back roads, but Yamaha didn’t pretend to make it a dual sport machine. (Nick Ienatsch/)

Until now, my usual sport-touring bike was a 2006 Yamaha FZ1. In comparison, the Tracer reminded me of an eager puppy rather than a stoic and hard-working service dog like the FZ. I like puppies, but sometimes there’s significant work to be done, places to be, and deadlines to meet. Sometimes, you need to cover big miles in short hours. It takes substance, strength, and unrelenting speed delivered in flowing rivers of “braaap” across highways designed to be entertaining speeds that tax touring machines.

The morning after unpacking the Tracer in my mom’s garage, Gary Klein joined me for a few runs up a local canyon—the first miles I put on the Tracer sans luggage. We traded bikes and the back-to-back comparison with his 2008 Yamaha FZ1 had us both praising the extra leg room, the outstanding brakes, and the entertaining revvy engine of the Tracer. Nice puppy.

Mods And Miles

The trek from Salt Lake City to southern Colorado included subfreezing temperatures only to be followed by rain. At this point, all I wanted was to get home and park the Tracer in my garage. We knocked out an 11-hour day with surprising ease and comfort, including some of my favorite roads. We hauled butt for a long time. My admittedly “mild” respect for the GT grew. Pretty good dog.


My FZ1 loaded up… (Nick Ienatsch/)

In order to extend fuel range and mellow the bike at speed, I installed taller final gearing to the Tracer 900 GT. That, paired with Yamaha’s touring windshield and a set of Dunlop Roadsmart tires, put the Yamaha into a zone that I wanted from a sport-tourer.

RELATED: Long-Term Tracer 900 GT Update

My vocabulary began to change about the Tracer. It grew from a “cute little fella” to “I’m thinking it’s the real deal.” I had pressed it to deliver long, fast days and it came through with aplomb. Soon I admitted that the Tracer had my FZ1 covered in almost every sport-touring department—except highly illegal cross-state speed runs that may or may not have happened. The smaller 900cc engine pushing that big fairing can’t generate the mph the slipperier and more muscular FZ1 can. Or at least I’ve heard.


The Tracer loaded up. The saddlebags add significant luggage space and protection from the elements, plus overnight or even lunch-time storage under lock and key. Yamaha offers a rear luggage rack and Givi-produced trunk if Tracer riders want to keep everything out of the elements. (Nick Ienatsch/)

My FZ1 is a terrific track companion and sport-tourer, and this installment puts the Tracer into a similar performance world. I am enamored of the sport-touring motorcycle in the real world of sporty-mile-eating where comfort, speed, ease of use, handling, and reliability all combine to make a bike worthwhile. Our first 6,800 miles had cemented a relationship that had me looking forward to every ride, whether a local back-road blast or multi-state drone. This bike possesses significantly more tricks and little more personality than my FZ1, mainly due to the flat-plane-crank triple that is simply addicting, not to mention a butter-smooth quickshifter.


The Tracer 900 GT brings joy to any road through its eagerness to carve corners and addicting acceleration. (Nick Ienatsch/)

As with my FZ1, I sent the ECU to Ivan’s Performance to smooth out the triple—performing drag runs before and after—then asked Mark Schellinger to race it in the MRA’s (Colorado’s Motorcycle Roadracing Association) streetbike class that allows riders to get a feel for local racing. Mark hadn’t raced for 15 years, so tune in next week for that chapter in the Tracer GT’s life that includes a Cooper Deville video.


I ran the Tracer pre- and post-Ivan’s in the identical trim: no saddlebags, taller gearing, and larger touring windscreen in place. Ivan’s Performance claims a modest 3 hp gain on top, but the drivability is the biggest reason to spend $350 for the re-flash; at the dragstrip the bike was spinning through each gear quicker, finding me two-tenths even in the face of the headwind. (RCSC/)

Conclusion

This long-term story launched a year ago with very clear questions: Is Yamaha’s Tracer GT a do-it-all motorcycle? Could it be the only bike in your garage? As a 58-year-old rider I feel well-suited to judge this bike in those terms because I value a luggage-carrying touring bike as equally as I do a motorcycle capable of getting up and down a Colorado canyon well and around a racetrack quickly.


With a Tracer GT, you can run down the strip a few times and then stop for two bowls of cheddar-ale soup before heading home. (Nick Ienatsch/)

If you are in this category, the Tracer will turn you on. A blend of impressive cornering performance and straight-line speed is sure to keep your attention, but comes in a forgiving package welcomed by all. The rider-aid technology built into the Tracer helps here, notably the ABS function and adjustable traction control—two pieces of technology I will always take when offered.

Tune in next week for more insight on the question: Can a Tracer GT do it all? Because we are going racing!


The Tracer GT might have been the least-nasty vehicle at the RCSC (Racing Community of Southern Colorado) Friday night drags in Pueblo, Colorado. Some vicious weaponry was on display, but the stock Tracer GT proved itself. Some think that drag racing is easy…until they try to go quicker. Quite a jigsaw puzzle and tenths are precious. (Nick Ienatsch/)
This ride ended in heavy rain on a dirt county road that was unbearably muddy. There were a few moments when the smoothness of the updated ECU were greatly appreciated, but the lightness of the GT was appreciated <em>the whole time!</em> (Nick Ienatsch/)
The mud spray illustrates how a radiator guard (this one by Cox, coxracinggroup.com) protects a bike against what could be a catastrophic puncture. It’s cheap insurance and many feel it’s mandatory at the track to protect against rocks flung by a leading bike. I installed it for Mark’s upcoming race. (Nick Ienatsch/)
I only needed two runs for the pre-ECU-re-flash numbers, both decently good launches as reflected in the consistency. The taller gearing (17/43, Driven Racing, drivenracing.com) had me abusing the clutch. I recommend stock gearing if you like to run your Tracer in the quarter-mile. (Nick Ienatsch/)
I ran with the RCSC at Pueblo Motorsports Park. The strip serves as the front straight of a road course featured later in this story (part 2 next week), and sits at 4,900 feet. These aren’t open-class literbike numbers, but the get-up-and-go of the Tracer is impressive. (Nick Ienatsch/)
The ECU is simple to reach in the cover of the airbox, but as on most modern bikes, the bodywork fasteners seem overkill in number and application when compared to the simplicity of racebike designs. (Nick Ienatsch/)
The updated ECU improved the quarter-mile time by two-tenths to 11.84, but a miserable 15-plus-mph headwind at Pueblo Motorsports Park held the terminal speed at 112.32—no real improvement. Ivan’s Performance expects a 2 or 3 mph gain in calm weather conditions. (Nick Ienatsch/)

RELATED: Riding A Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Across The American West


The re-flash from Ivan’s Performance improved fuel consumption while boosting midrange performance. The flash also removed the speed limiter and allows for cruise control to work in all gears at all speeds. Most importantly, initial throttle application is made much smoother. (Nick Ienatsch/)
I ran the Tracer pre- and post-Ivan’s in the identical trim: no saddlebags, taller gearing and larger touring windscreen in place. Ivan’s Performance claims a modest 3 hp gain on top, but the drivability is the biggest reason to spend $350 for the reflash; at the dragstrip the bike was spinning through each gear quicker, finding me two-tenths even in the face of the headwind. (RCSC/)
Mark Schellinger, retired from racing for 15 years, puts the Tracer GT on the MRA Streetbike grid at Pueblo Motorsports Park…details and a Cooper Deville video next week. (Nick Ienatsch/)

Tracer GT, Performance Part 2 next week!

Categories: Motorcycles

2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 08:17

2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S (Ducati/)

For 2020, Ducati rolled the Monster 1200 S into a paint booth and applied a fresh black-on-black color scheme—a striking combination of gloss and matte—giving the Testastretta 11° V-twin an even more assertive presence. Mechanically, however, this liter-plus streetfighter remains unchanged from the previous model year. That's not at all bad though. The 803, 821, and 1,198cc Monsters are some of Ducati's most popular models, and the 1200 S is the patriarch of the family, a true naked-bike steamroller at home on boulevard or back road. There's a great top-end rush, fully adjustable Öhlins suspension front and rear to keep this nimble handler well-composed, and Brembo four-piston M50 calipers up front for responsive, reliable stopping performance.

In addition to the premium suspension and braking components, the 1200 S has a number of upgrades, such as up/down Ducati Quick Shift, a sleek passenger seat cover, a lightweight carbon-fiber front fender, LED lighting, and an anti-theft system. "Pick the right roads and conditions, and the Ducati will surely fight for the top spot in the naked-bike class," testers wrote about the Monster 1200 S after its major upgrade in 2017.


2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S (Ducati/)

2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S Reviews, Comparisons, And Competition

2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S Goes Dark
The 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 S Is Ducati's Return To The Monster's Roots
The 2017 Ducati Monster 1200 And 1200 S Get More Power And More Refinements
Ducati Monster 1200 S - Riding Impression
Ducati Monster 1200 and 1200 S - First Ride
2014 Ducati Monster 1200 and 1200 S - First Look


2020 Ducati Monster 1200 S (Ducati/)

Manufacturer Claimed Specifications

Price $17,595 Engine Liquid-cooled, DOHC, two-cylinder Displacement 1,198cc Bore x Stroke 106.0mm x 67.9mm Horsepower 147.0 hp @ 9,250 rpm Torque 91.0 lb.-ft. @ 7,750 rpm Transmission 6-speed Final Drive Chain Seat Height 31.3–32.2 in. Rake 23.3 ° Trail 3.4 in. Front Suspension 48mm fully adjustable; 5.1-in. travel Rear Suspension Fully adjustable; 5.9-in. travel Front Tire 120/70-17 Rear Tire 190/55-17 Wheelbase 58.5 in. Fuel Capacity 4.4 gal. Claimed Wet Weight 465 lb.

Cycle World Tested Specifications

Seat Height N/A Dry Weight N/A Rear-Wheel Horsepower N/A Rear-Wheel Torque N/A 0–60 mph N/A 1/4-mile N/A Braking 30–0 mph N/A Braking 60–0 mph N/A

Categories: Motorcycles

Garage Gloves To Help You Get A Grip On The Task At Hand

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 07:42

If you’ve busted your knuckles wrenching on a motorcycle to the point pulling on riding gloves is painful, it’s long past time to purchase a pair of work gloves. While you’re at it, grab a box of disposables to keep your hands from reeking of chain lube, which can smell mysteriously like Stetson cologne mixed with turpentine—a not entirely unpleasant aroma, admittedly, but it does whiff of brain-cell death. If you have hot jobs with which to contend, grab a welding-specific twosome and spare the oven mitts Aunt Millie knitted for you as a wedding present. Check out our suggestions for each category.

Mechanix Wear Original Work Gloves


Combining synthetic leather in the palms and a breathable fabric on the back of the hands, Mechanix Wear Original Work Gloves are comfortable even when the temperature rises. (Amazon/)

Mechanix Wear Original Work Gloves are a garage staple. From professional race mechanics to home tinkerers, this leadoff Mechanix Wear model is a simple, effective, slip-on solution to help protect your hands. With a synthetic leather palm designed to not hinder manual dexterity, Work Gloves are ideal for wrenching on a motorcycle. Remember: These are mechanic's gloves, not all-purpose work gloves. So if you're, say, pounding fence posts, grab a pair best suited to that task.

Grease Monkey Disposable Nitrile Gloves


A 100-count box of nitrile garage gloves should keep your hands clean and protected for some time. (Amazon/)

A box of disposable nitrile gloves is a must when you're servicing a motorcycle in a garage or workshop. As riders, we use our fair share of chemicals: brake fluid, chain cleaner and lube, corrosion protectant, engine degreaser, penetrating lubricant… You get the picture. So if your hands smell like a petrochemical plant, nitrile gloves are the way to go. Latex- and powder-free disposable gloves will keep your hands as clean and odor-free as those of a ballet dancer—for better or worse.

Olson Deepak Welding Gloves


Made of cowhide and lined with cotton, Olson Deepak welding gloves are said to resist temperatures as high as 662 degrees Fahrenheit. (Amazon/)

Not every garage needs a pair of welding gloves, but even if you aren't a welder, forearm-length protection often comes in handy. For example, if the large-diameter header pipes fitted to your motorcycle have to be removed to access the engine's oil drain bolt—trust us, it's a thing—you know yanking even a moderately warm exhaust system without heat-resistant gloves is not fun. And if you're smoking a pork butt while you're changing your oil and need to load more charcoal on the grill, you'll be doubly glad you have them.

Categories: Motorcycles

2020 Ducati XDiavel S

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 06:57

2020 Ducati XDiavel S (Ducati/)

Ducati opted to leave well enough alone with the 2020 XDiavel S. The Italian performance cruiser retains the same liquid-cooled, 1,262cc Testastretta V-twin engine from the previous year, a superbike-derived, Desmodromic Variable Timing system-enhanced mill that owners have come to love for its punchy kick and seemingly endless power. Complemented by a fully adjustable, Diamond Like Coating-treated fork, a spring-preload- and rebound-damping-adjustable shock, antilock-equipped Brembo braking components, and sticky Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires, the XDiavel S has proven an incredibly responsive and nimble on-road performer. "The XDiavel handles surprisingly lightly for a long, long motorcycle with a big, fat 240mm-wide rear tire," testers reported after sampling the original model in 2016. That's not the type of comment you often hear about a machine with a sub-30-inch seat height, forward-mount controls, and a relaxed ride position.

The premium status of the XDiavel S comes from the inclusion of a daytime running light, backlit handlebar switches, a Bluetooth module, and infotainment system. There are also machined aluminum mirrors and belt covers, plus an upgraded “premium” seat. Those refined touches equate to a $3,500-higher MSRP than the standard XDiavel.

2020 Ducati XDiavel S Reviews, Comparisons, And Competition

2020 Ducati XDiavel
2019 Ducati Diavel First Look
2017 Ducati XDiavel S Review - From The Cockpit
Ducati's XDiavel at the 76th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
THE UN-CRUISER: 2016 Ducati XDiavel
2016 Ducati XDiavel S - FIRST RIDE REVIEW
EICMA 2015 FIRST LOOK: 2016 Ducati XDiavel Cruiser


2020 Ducati XDiavel S (Ducati/)

Manufacturer Claimed Specifications

Price $24,495 Engine Liquid-cooled, DOHC, two-cylinder Displacement 1,262cc Bore x Stroke 106.0mm x 71.5mm Horsepower 156.0 hp @ 9,500 rpm Torque 95.0 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 rpm Transmission 6-speed Final Drive Belt Seat Height 29.7 in. Rake 30° Trail 5.1 in. Front Suspension 50mm fully adjustable; 4.7-in. travel Rear Suspension Preload and rebound adjustable; 4.3-in. travel Front Tire 120/70-17 Rear Tire 240/45-17 Wheelbase 63.6 in. Fuel Capacity 4.7 gal. Claimed Wet Weight 545 lb.

Cycle World Tested Specifications

Seat Height N/A Dry Weight N/A Rear-Wheel Horsepower N/A Rear-Wheel Torque N/A 0–60 mph N/A 1/4-mile N/A Braking 30–0 mph N/A Braking 60–0 mph N/A

Categories: Motorcycles

Books About The Philosophical Side Of The Motorcycle

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 14:32

The beauty of the motorcycle is that it can be the lens through which we view the world. If you’re interested in history or art or engineering or philosophy, the motorcycle is a ready subject of contemplation. As the following books explore, wrenching on a motorcycle can express the dignity of manual work, it can be a tool of existential discovery, and it can be a tool for observing the human condition and formulating a political ideology. Check out the philosophical side of the motorcycle with three books that confirm that it’s more than just an assemblage of hardware.

Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value Of Work


Crawford’s work is profoundly important for a generation that grew up witnessing the drudgery of mom and dad’s office jobs, who strive to redefine cultural expectation in light of a broken higher-education system, and who are tired of paying someone else for work their grandparents would have done for themselves. (Amazon/)

Matthew B. Crawford holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, but his work as a motorcycle mechanic and an electrician has likely been his most formative education. In Shop Class As Soulcraft, Crawford makes a case for the value of the manual arts, both as an economic good and as an ennobling act that affirms the wholeness of being. We don't merely have_bodies; we _are bodies. The disassociation felt by the disaffected "knowledge worker" is rampant in a culture that has thumbed its nose at manual labors. Crawford's work is a call to come to our senses.

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values


<em>Zen and the Art</em> remains a cultural phenomenon, even if it's not everyone's cup of tea. (Amazon/)

If you picked up Robert Pirsig's classic narrative hoping for a book about motorcycles or motorcycle maintenance, you were probably sorely disappointed. Zen is about a man's quest to figure out how to live. Like a motorcycle trip, the story is more about the journey than about the destination. It's a quietly sad book, but one that's stood the test of time.

The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes On A Latin American Journey


Guevera’s journey aboard a Norton 500cc single helped define his future path and cement his ideas. (Amazon/)

Che Guevara's mustachioed, beret-wearing likeness, printed on T-shirts and worn by unwitting teenage suburbanites who think they're being countercultural, has become a meaningless symbol swallowed up by a capitalist machine that's packaged it for mass consumption. Oh, the irony. Guevera's pre-revolutionary motorcycle journey across South America is insight into his formative years.

Categories: Motorcycles

How to Keep Your Feet Dry On A Motorcycle

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 14:08

Next to a good helmet and jacket, boots are a motorcyclist's best friend. First and foremost, they should be protective, supportive, and comfortable. But often, good boots can also mean sweaty feet. The solution is socks that wick (or pull) moisture away from the skin. An easy strategy here is a thin wicking liner worn inside a comfy thicker sock. Synthetic materials designed expressly for this job vastly outperform cotton, and also maintain their thermal insulative properties when wet, an important trait for touring riders. If you want to "go natural," wool is the logical choice, but it can be smelly when wet and may not dry as fast as synthetics. With synthetic socks, rinse them out, hang them up in the sun or overnight, and they'll likely be dry by morning for your next ride.

Realtree Liner Socks


Socks like these should be in everyone’s riding kit. Soft, stretchy, blister-resisting, and thermally insulative, they also wick moisture from your feet par excellence. (Amazon/)

For cold, wet conditions, socks should have two primary functions: provide thermal insulation and wick moisture from the skin. These Realtree men's liner socks do both with their mix of 98 percent polypropylene and 2 percent stretchy Spandex construction. Wear them under your primary socks. Additional features of these useful inner liners are their antimicrobial material, a flat toe seam for comfort, and arch support. They are machine washable, dry quickly, and, best of all, made in the USA.

Sealskinz Waterproof Socks


These hybrid wool socks take the classic sock material into the 21st century and claim both waterproof and windproof protection. (Amazon/)

Here's a highly evolved version of the traditional wool sock. Designed for the rigors of camping and hiking in cold, nasty conditions, these socks feature merino wool, which is noted for both its thermal properties and moisture-wicking capability. Ideal for motorcyclists ripping down the road, they are also claimed to be windproof and breathable. Other nice features include a padded toe, footbed, and heel, and an elasticized ankle and instep for a snug fit. Multiple colors and sizes are available, including Black/Racing Green!

Firstgear Heated Socks


Using your motorcycle’s electrical system for power, these micro-fleece heated socks keep your feet warm and should also wick away moisture. (Amazon/)

Electric socks are perhaps the ultimate "unfair advantage" when battling the cold on a bike. They work just like heated grips, vests, and seats: Shunting 12-volt DC current from your bike's electrical system through fine wires woven into the socks creates electrical resistance, which produces heat. These socks are made from a micro-fleece material, so they are not bulky, and the maker reports that you won't feel the wires embedded inside. The fleece material should also help wick away moisture.

Categories: Motorcycles
©2019 Richard Esmonde. All rights reserved.