“Coming from WorldSBK to MotoGP, it was a big learning curve. I didn’t know many of the tracks so that’s a downside from WorldSBK to GP, probably half the circuits I didn’t know. You’re a day behind at those tracks, but Suzuki were great, they gave me a two-year contract straight up so I had time to learn. I had to learn electronics, I had to learn the bike, we were the first manufacturer to run pneumatic valves in MotoGP and we had some technical problems that year. It was great working with John though, it was good!”
Elsewhere in the UK, you could visit ‘God’s Own Country’ – Yorkshire. The UK’s largest county includes the Lake District, York and lively cities like Leeds and Sheffield. If you want to stay in the south, either the Cotswolds or Cornwall are known for their beauty. Plus, outside of England, you have either the Scottish Highlands or the mountains of Wales, which are both wonderful places to spend a few days.
I knew I’d stumbled onto someplace…different…when I pulled into the packed dirt parking lot of the Nipton Trading Post, and it wasn’t just the huge glass octopus sculpture wriggling next to the highway. I rolled to a stop next to the five-room adobe hotel, which was built in 1910, almost startled by the silence after switching off the rumbling Indian Scout.
I could smell the hot, dusty leather of my saddlebags, and was very much aware of the crunching of sand and rock beneath my boots as I stood and swung a leg, stiff from hours of slogging across the desert, over my luggage roll and backrest. My skin tingled – someone was watching me.
For a few fleeting moments I was in another time, a wandering cowgirl who just rode into an unfamiliar – and dangerously quiet – town. A tumbleweed staggered across the empty dirt street to the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”…OK, maybe that last bit was just in my head. I doffed my hat – er, helmet – squinting in the harsh desert light, and turned to see that I was far from alone, and yes, I had definitely attracted some attention.
Two middle-aged guys got out of a fire engine red ’65 Mustang convertible and were walking toward me, clearly curious about my equally iconic motorcycle. Past them, clustered around the railroad tracks, was a team – posse? – of photographers and assistants, all focused on a blonde woman in a gauzy dress, prancing up and down on the tracks. Based on the tour bus parked in the shade I deduced this was an album cover photo shoot.
I stood for a moment, taking in the rest of the tiny settlement of Nipton: the aforementioned hotel, a restaurant called the Whistle Stop Café, a trading post, a historical marker and a few houses. Farther out in the scrubby desert, past the hotel, I glimpsed a scattering of white teepees, along with a brightly painted old car and what appeared to be metal sculptures. Yep, this is the place.
Nipton, California, current population somewhere between 15 and 20 souls, was founded in 1905 as a stop on the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, which merged with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1910. It feels very much in the middle of nowhere, despite being just 12 miles southeast of the bright casinos of Primm, Nevada, but positioned as it is on a lonely two-lane state highway in the Mojave Desert, it’s definitely off the beaten path.
I was heading to Las Vegas for a karate tournament on a 2019 Indian Scout that we’d outfitted with some touring accessories, and rather than just slab it the whole way I’d booked a night in Nipton. This put me in an ideal position for a nice ride up to the Hoover Dam and then north into Valley of Fire State Park, before dropping into Sin City to get my butt kicked at the tournament.
Nipton’s location is convenient for a journey into the desert, be it the nearby Mojave National Preserve, Lake Mead or Lake Havasu, or the motorcycle destination of Laughlin. And its quirkiness appealed: accommodations include the old hotel, little “ecocabins” or, my choice, teepees. The ecocabins and teepees are solar-powered, just enough to run the interior lights and to charge your phone, but there are no TVs. The cabins are heated in the winter with woodstoves and the teepees have little propane heaters, but the weather during my visit in late April was warm enough that the provided blankets were plenty comfortable.
I was up with the sun the next morning, wanting to get to Boulder City, the gateway to Lake Mead and the awe-inspiring Hoover Dam, for breakfast. I’d already put 263 mostly freeway miles behind me the day before, and was settling into familiarity with the Scout, which we accessorized with Indian’s 19-inch Quick Release Windshield, sumptuous Desert Tan leather saddlebags and a matching rider backrest. My karate gear took up one whole saddlebag, my street clothes and toiletries the other, so I strapped a duffel across the back to hold my camera gear.
Indian’s Scout (read our full review here) is a Goldilocks weekend tourer for someone my size traveling one-up, with an easy-to-handle wet weight of 591 lbs. (as tested), plenty of cruising and passing power, adjustable ergonomics for reduced or extended reach and a smoothly loping cadence from the liquid-cooled 69ci (1,133cc) 60-degree V-twin that produced little in the way of nuisance vibration.
That is, as long as you don’t mind stopping often for fuel; I averaged 46.6 mpg from the 3.3-gallon tank, meaning 154 miles was my limit. In the lonely desert, that translates to “fill up whenever you can,” especially since the analog/LCD instrument lacks both a fuel gauge and fuel consumption data. Otherwise, the windshield causes the fat front tire to wander a bit at times, progressing from a minor annoyance to more a disconcerting experience in a stiff crosswind, but overall I was enjoying my ride on the Scout.
It’s also undeniably pretty, especially in the Indian Red/Thunder Black livery with gold pinstriping and feathered headdress Indian graphics that accentuate the Desert Tan seat, backrest and saddlebags. As I snapped roadside photos at the Hoover Dam, the new Mike O’Callaghan/Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge arcing overhead, many a passing driver’s head swiveled at the bike in appreciation. Completed in 1936, the dam still produces power for California, Nevada and Arizona, although falling water levels in Lake Mead have affected how much it can output.
From there I cruised north through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and then into Valley of Fire State Park. Valley of Fire, as its name suggests, is full of interesting and beautiful red rock formations, and there are plenty of pullouts with picnic tables and hiking trails where you can stop and stretch your legs. I turned north at the Visitor Center for a ride into the heart of the park, the road dipping, climbing and weaving through a Technicolor landscape of eroded sandstone that’s more than 150 million years old.
Tourist traffic can be heavy, especially through this section, and there are several blind, off-camber turns that can catch you off-guard, so I was happy to putt along and enjoy the scenery, my dance with the Scout a gentle sway. At 5 feet, 9 inches, I found the standard riding position to be comfortably feet-forward; shorter and taller riders may opt for the reduced or extended reach ergo kits to tailor the bike to their needs.
In fact, I was enjoying myself so much that when Scout and I returned to I-15 on the west side of the park, for a moment I wished I could turn north and continue exploring the desert’s hidden secrets, perhaps discovering more gems like Nipton. But I had made a commitment, so south to Las Vegas it was. Still, there are more roads and more secrets to uncover…where should I point my front wheel next?
2019 Indian Scout Specs
Base Price: $11,999
Price as Tested: $15,804 (paint, windshield, backrest and saddlebags)
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 69 ci (1,133cc)
Bore x Stroke: 99.0 x 73.6mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 61.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 29 degrees/4.7 in.
Seat Height: 26.5 in.
Wet Weight: 591 lbs. (as tested)
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gals., last 0.5 gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 41.4/46.6/54.4
Pre-season testing for the Official Payment Card of MotoGP™ is complete and Dorna Sports is delighted to announce the arrival of the Fandom Pay MotoGP™ Mastercard®. Launched just ahead of the GoPro British Grand Prix, the prepaid cards are now available for fans in the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and Austria, with the corresponding app available in each country’s native language.
“Although the characteristics of the layout are not as favourable as in Brno or Spielberg, we have already shown that in Silverstone we can be very fast, such as in 2017 that we ended up winning the race. Weather, as always, will play an important role and you have to be prepared to adapt to any circumstance.”
Benelli 502C fits into a category of bike roughly referred to as an urban cruiser suitable for learner and novice riders.
It arrives in Australian showrooms at $9790 ride away with a two-year unlimited kilometre warranty and roadside assistance in gloss black, “Coniac Red” or matte black.
If you think we have invented the term “LAMS urban cruiser” check out these competitors:
It’s a popular class and the best seller is the Honda, followed by the Harley and the Kawasaki.
The first of these urban cruisers was the Yamaha Bolt C which is probably also the most stylish … until now.
Benelli’s Italian-designed and Chinese-made model is beautiful.
After all, it seems to be designed along the lines of a small-capacity Ducati Diavel with a similar trellis-style frame, floating seat, remote rear fender, bellypan and stubby twin single-sided mufflers.
It features forward foot controls which are adjustable like the Vulcan S, wide handlebars, moderate-height 750mm seat and distinctive LED headlights.
The Benelli 502C is powered by their in-line 500cc liquid-cooled twin with 35kW Of power at 8500 revs and 45Nm of midrange torque. The engine is mated to six-speed gearbox.
The generous 21-litre tank should allow these urban cruisers to stray far from their urban environs.
Benelli 502C tech specs
- Price: $9790 ride away
- Engine: 500cc in-line twin, 4 stroke, liquid cooled, 4 valves , DOHC
- Bore x stroke: 69 x 66.8mm
- Power: 35kW @ 8500rpm
- Torque: 45Nm @ 5000rpm
- Emissions: Euro 4, CO2 96g/km
- Economy: 4.2Lt/100km
- Transmission: Multidisk wet clutch, 6 speeds
- Frame: Trestle steel tubes and plates
- Suspension: Upside-down 41mm forks, 125mm travel; swingarm with central shock absorber, spring preload adjustable, 50mm travel
- Brakes: twin 280mm floating disks with 4-piston calliper; 240mm disc, piston floating calliper; ABS
- Tyres: 120/70 – ZR17” M/C 58W; 160/60 – ZR17” M/C 69W
- Seat: 750mm
- Wheelbase: 1600mm
- Wet weight: 217kg
- Tank: 21Lt
- Length: 2280mm
- Width: 940mm
- Height: 1140mm
- Warrant: 2 years, unlimited kilometre, roadside assistance
- Colours: gloss black, “Coniac Red” or matte black.
South East Queensland riders have been out searching for a 66-year-old Sandgate rider who has been missing since Monday when he set out for a “joy ride” to Esk.
Siemon Mulder left Sandgate at 9am this morning to ride his blue Triumph Sprint ST registration 769DW (pictured) to Esk and planned to return home by noon. He has not been heard from since.
Police have confirmed this morning that he is still missing and have called for public help to locate him.
Riders have responded with dozens scouring the region’s popular motorcycle routes over the past couple of days.
Police helicopters have also searched the area by car and helicopter.
“Police and family hold concerns for his safety as this behaviour is out of character,” Police say.
Siemon is about 180cm tall with a slim build, grey short hair and grey facial hair.
He was last seen wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans and black helmet with a dark tinted visor.
Police say he was a cautious rider, but they are considering he may have had an accident.
They have checked his mobile phone which was last used in Sandgate and say he always uses cash when out on the road.
If you have information for police, contact Policelink on 131 44provide information using the online form 24hrs per day.
You can report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers, a registered charity and community volunteer organisation, by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24hrs per day. Quote this reference number: QP1901609506
Searching for clues
If Siemon has run off the road, riders should be searching for skid marks on the road or verge, broken glass and plastic on the road, bent-back bushes and the glint of shining objects in roadside bushes.
Riders searching for Siemon should also take care if they are riding slowly not to hold up traffic, use their hazard lights and take care of their own safety.
It’s a good lesson for all solo riders to tell others where you are going, take your mobile phone, download locator apps or, if in remote areas, pack an EPIRB, beacon or GPS tracker.
“Well, I remember doing a wheelie down the front straight of the warmup lap and the wheelie was too long and it blocked the oil pressure, and it popped the oil seal out,” says Roberts, remembering the events of Sunday, August 12th, 1979. “So oil was all over my bike, and I went into the right-hander and almost fell down and went, “Wow, something’s wrong,” and I saw it and I raced back to the start line.
Meanwhile, Viñales admitted the pre-event was even more special for him as a fan of Chelsea: “Honestly it’s fantastic. I’m a big fan of Chelsea since I was a kid and it’s fantastic to be here. It’s a dream come true, you know, something unbelievable. Yeah, we speak the same language so it’s very easy. We spoke about the games this season, also our season. It was a good chat, he’s a good guy.
It would be entertaining to find out how much this little turbo cost Suzuki, as in development and manufacturing expenses versus sales. Probably it was a heckuva lot. In the very early 1980s turbo-mania was in the air, and Honda and Yamaha were the first out, with the four Japanese manufacturers prone to following one another.
Remember the Universal Japanese Motorcycle? Four cylinders in line, preferably with an overhead camshaft or two. Well, this was the turbo version, and while Honda used the OHV V-twin CX500 for its turbo, the rest were UJMs. In 1981 Suzuki came out with two 650cc UJMs, the chain-driven sporty E and the shaft-drive commuter G. Similar, but different. And Suzuki realized that this two-valve (per cylinder) motor was rapidly becoming obsolete, replaced by the four-valver. So how could it get a little more use from the powerplant? Put it in the Turbo!
For the Turbo the engineers took the G’s one-piece forged crankshaft running on plain bearings, instead of the E’s roller bearings. Apparently plain bearings are smoother running. But the three 650s all had those two-valve heads, and twin overhead camshafts, that are the pretty much the same. However, everything on the Turbo’s engine, from connecting rods to cylinder studs, was strengthened.
Amusingly, when looking at the magazine spec sheets for all three bikes one notes that they all have a bore and stroke of 65 x 55.8, but the E and G are said to have 674cc capacity, while the Turbo is 673cc. The wonders of finite numbers. And copy editing.
After Honda and Yamaha began working on their turbos, probably a little corporate spying was going on. I can see the Suzuki marketing types charging into the CEO’s office and demanding that a turbo be built. Maybe somebody ran it past the financial department, maybe not. The XN85 appeared less than a year after the others, but more work had gone into the project, as it was truly a semi-new machine, excepting the reworked motor.
As anybody who wrote a Ph.D. thesis on Japanese turbocharged motorcycles knows, that funny XN85 alpha-numeration came from Suzuki’s claim that the turbo 673cc put out 85 horsepower – which it might have, at the crankshaft. Fair enough, but the real world was more interested in what happened at the rear wheel, where a dyno measured 71 horses at 8,000 rpm. And close to 50 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. Which was quite respectable, and a lightweight rider might sneak into the 11s in the popular quarter-mile drags. The flow of air and a big oil cooler, with more than three quarts of oil in the system, kept the engine heat under control. A new aspect of the cooling system was the forcible spray of oil on the bottom of the pistons, quite useful in keeping these little round things intact.
The IHI (Ishikawajima-Harima Industries) turbo was mounted close to the electronic fuel injectors, which were just beyond the butterfly valve, and the blast of pressurized air would jam that fuel right into those combustion chambers. Where, in the interests of longevity, the compression ratios had been drastically lowered, from the 9.5:1 of the E and G to 7.4:1. The turbo had a non-adjustable pressure gauge and when the boost went over 9.6 psi the waste gate would open. The electronic ignition also had an ability to read boost pressures, retarding timing as the boost mounted. And should that waste gate get stuck, the ignition could deal with that as well. Pretty smart device. When the turbo began to intrude around 5,000 rpm, the lag was noticeable, but less than on the competition.
The real trick with this XN85 was not so much the engine, but the chassis. The main frame was a round-tube double-cradle affair, with a triangulated backbone running to the steering head. Up front was a 37mm Kayaba fork, with anti-dive and air-adjustability, providing 5.5 inches of travel. Rake was a conservative 27 degrees, with trail of 3.9 inches. The fork connected to a 16-inch front wheel – which surprised many. Sixteen inches?! That was racing stuff. But even with a pretty lengthy 58.7 inches between axles, the bike handled extremely well. Probably helped along by the Full-Floater rear suspension, using an aluminum swingarm with caged needle bearings, the single Kayaba shock having remote hydraulic preload adjustment. And 4.1 inches of travel.
The front wheel was endowed with a pair of 10-inch discs and single-piston calipers, while the rear wheel, a 17-incher, had an 11-inch disc with a single-piston caliper. They sound a bit iffy when compared to today’s GSX-R650 with radially mounted monoblock brakes, but the XN85 is 36 years in the past.
The half fairing looked great, and did a good job of protecting the rider if he wished to exceed the government-mandated 55-mph speed limit. The seat, 30.5 inches above the ground, was comfy, and the flat handlebar allowed for a cheerful 200-mile range – which was about what the five-gallon tank allowed. The fairing did disguise the fact that a modified version of the Ram Air System served to help cool the cylinders; the new design did not look at all like the RAS on the two-stroke triples in the 1970s.
Somehow the Turbo’s curb weight had shot up 70 pounds over the previous E model, weighing in at 550 pounds.
According to numbers found on the Internet, the factory produced only 1,153 of these turbos from 1983 to 1985, of which 300 in the first batch came to the United States. And sold at $4,700. A good reason for that was the third iteration of Suzuki’s normally-aspirated 750 four, which also came out in 1983, now with four valves per cylinder and Full-Floater rear suspension. It put out 72 horsepower at the rear wheel, weighed 30 pounds less than the Turbo and cost a mere $3,500. Talk about trumping your own ace!
Obviously the remaining 853 turbos were sold in motorcycling hotspots like Mongolia and Libya, in case you are looking for a used one.