Royal Enfield plan Sherpa and Hunter

Royal Enfield has applied for the trademarks of Sherpa and Hunter which we expect could be applied to the upcoming smaller and bigger Himalayan adventure models.

The current 400cc Himalayan has been a moderate hit so 250cc and 650cc versions could also score well for the Indian company, both in the subcontinent and overseas.

Several manufacturers have produced baby adventure bikes in recent years such as the Kawasaki Versys-X 350, and there has been a host of 650cc models available for many years.

Kawasaki Versys-X 300 with Bosch 10 ABS unit confirms
Kawasaki Versys-X 300

Sherpa and Hunter

Both Sherpa and Hunter would be ideal names for extensions to the Himalayan family.

Perhaps the Hunter would be the bigger model and the Sherpa the smaller one, given the company had a 178cc  Sherpa in the 1960s.

Royal Enfield boss Siddhartha Lal has long suggested the 650cc engine from the popular Interceptor and Continental GT could be used in the Himalayan.

The Himalayan is powered by a 411cc, single-cylinder engine producing just 18kW of power at 6500rpm and 32Nm of torque at 4250rpm.

Royal Enfield Himalayan Sleet invests
Royal Enfield Himalayan

That compares with the 648cc twin from the Interceptor and Continental GT which has 35kW at 7250rpm and 52Nm at 5250rpm

Indian websites have published spy photos of disguised 650cc Himalayans being tested on local roads, so they could be close to production.

However, the trademark application is probably a little late for a 2020 release.

We suspect they are more likely to come in 2021.


Two rider deaths in sad end to 2019

Two male riders have died on New Year’s Eve in NSW in a tragic end to 2019, bringing the total number of motorcycle deaths for the year to 67.

That is seven above the three-year average and was the third rider death in NSW in 24 hours.

Dubbo death

Just before 9pm last night (31 December 2019), emergency services were called to the Mitchell Highway in Maryvale, just north of Wellington near Dubbo, following reports of a crash between a motorcycle and utility vehicle.

The rider, believed to be a man aged in his 20s, died at the scene.

Police say the male driver of the utility, and a female passenger, were airlifted to Orange Base Hospital with multiple injuries.

The utility caught fire and was extinguished by NSW Rural Fire Service.

Orana Mid-Western Police District officers have established a crime scene and the Crash Investigation Unit are investigating.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner.

Coffs Harbour crash

At 9pm, emergency services received reports that a male rider was found on the road near his motorcycle at Coramba Road, Coffs Harbour.

Passers-by tried to revive him until NSW Ambulance paramedics arrived. Despite their efforts, the man died at the scene.

The man is yet to be formally identified.

Coffs Clarence Police District officers will prepare a report for the Coroner.

Anyone who may have been driving along Coramba Road around the time of the incident, and witnessed or captured dashcam footage of the motorbike, is urged to contact Coffs Harbour Police Station on (02) 6691 0799.

Park fatal

These deaths follows another fatal the night before when a 22-year-old male rider died in Sydney’s Royal National Park while on a group ride.

Anyone with information about any of these incidents is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Our condolences to the riders’ family and friends.

We also sincerely wish you all a safe and hazy New Year.


Big drop in 2019 motorcycle recalls

There was a big drop in the number of safety recalls for motorcycles in 2019.

In fact, with 27 motorcycle recalls, it was the lowest number in seven years.

That compares with last year’s 37 motorcycle recalls, the second highest number of recalls in the previous 10 years: 28 in 2017, 39 in 2016, 30 in 2015, 28 in 2014, 20 in 2013, 24 in 2012, 16 in 2011, 14 in 2010 and 23 in 2009.

Good drop

That drop in recalls is good news and shows that manufacturers must be taking a bit more care to test their product before rushing a new model to market. Mind you, it’s still 27 too many. In fact, even one may be too many if it affects your bike.

However, there were also four recalls for motorcycle-related products and accessories: Harley saddlebags, a Honda Monkey bike rack, an O’Neal helmet and Avon Cobra tyres. That’s unusual, as there is usually only about one motorcycle-related product a year except 2013 which had eight.

Avon Cobra 50R16 Motorcycle Tyres
Cobra tyres

The most motorcycle recalls this year was six for Yamaha; followed by four for BMW, Ducati and Triumph; Suzuki and Triumph on three; two for Harley, Honda and Indian; and one each for Kawasaki, Piaggio and KTM.

That compares with the previous year where Ducati had 6;  Indian, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM and Triumph 3; BMW, Harley, Husqvarna and Moto Guzzi 2, Aprilia and MV Augusta one each. There were no other product recalls.

Most recalls are issued voluntarily and posted online by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Even though manufacturers and importers usually contact owners when a recall is issued, the bike may have been sold privately to a rider unknown to the company.

Therefore, Motorbike Writer publishes all motorcycle and scooter recalls as a service to all riders.

If you believe there is an endemic problem with your bike that should be recalled, contact the ACCC on 1300 302 502.

To check whether your motorcycle has been recalled, click on these sites:

• Australia


• New Zealand

• Canada


10 New Year resolutions we’d like to see

Each New Year we make resolutions to do something new, better or at least different for the next year.

This year we thought we would do something different for the new decade and compile a wish list of 10 New Year resolutions we would like others to make.

We know most of these are just vain wishes, but we thought we would present them anyhow in the hope someone out there takes up at least one of them!

The list includes other motorists, but is also aimed at other riders.

Resolutions we would like others to make:

  1. Drivers should resolve to pay more attention to riders and looking out for their safety. Get off your phones, stop playing with the touchscreen on your cars instruments and use your mirrors.
  2. Caravan and truck drivers could resolve not to try to pass other vehicles on the only double-lane uphill stretch for miles around, blocking a string of traffic behind them who could have passed a lot quicker.
  3. How about riders resolving not to make disparaging comments about other people’s choice of bike? We are part of a small community, so we should stick together and support each other.

    Pink Hello Kitty Ducati Scrambler revenue male slips
    That’s an unusual pink slip!

  4. Some riders could also resolve to ride within their abilities. Don’t show off or try to get your knee down on public roads. Take some responsibility for your own safety and don’t just blame other motorists.
  5. Wouldn’t it be great if cyclists resolved to not use the road as their own personal racetrack and take up most of a lane on a narrow mountain road?Cyclist identification call rejected
  6. We would also love it if governments at all levels resolved to listen to riders and include them in their planning.
  7. Drivers of all vehicles should resolve to understand that lane filtering is legal and not only a benefit to riders, but to all motorists as it reduces the number of vehicles in the commuter queue

    roadside lane filter filtering ad sign billboard
    Here’s a sign we’d like to see

  8. Instead of adding performance parts to your motorcycle to squeeze out more power, riders could resolve to lose some weight to improve the bike’s power-to-weight ratio, or maybe take some riding lessons to sharpen your skills. Admit it; you don’t use anywhere near all the power your bike already produces!

    Harley-Davidson Fat Bob and Low Rider S at Champions Race Day Lakeside Park track day
    Track day riders at Champions Ride Day briefing

  9. We would appreciate it if some keyboard warriors would resolve to not fire off random abusive comments to us and other readers before thoroughly reading our articles, including this ironic list.
  10. Let’s all resolve to do our best to survive 2020.


Distinguished Skram riding sunglasses review

The distinguished Skram riding sunglasses have been designed to allow riders to continue to ride on into the night.

They have been designed by Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride founder Mark Hawwa and the three different designs certainly do look distinguished.

Moto Skram glasses

Mark says Skram Motorcycle Eyewear is “a product that as motorcyclists we wanted to wear” and was a joint effort by him, colleague Rocco Repice and optometrist Elias Combes.

The flexible sunglasses cost $199 with a choice of brown tortoise shell (“Havana”) or black frames.

They are claimed to have 100% UV protection with shatterproof polycarbonate lenses that makes them the “most protective” sunglasses on the market.Skram sunglasses

Skram glasses are also available in clear and yellow photochromic lenses that transition to a tint when exposed to the sun.

Prescription lenses are also available for an extra $159.

Mark says they “searched for years testing over 50 different lenses until we found the set that we could put all of our trust into”.

He sent us a pair of Moto Ones to test and here are our results.

Skram Moto OnesSkram Moto Ones sunglasses

Skram Moto Ones arrived in an elaborate box that was way bigger than the glasses themselves.

Inside is a handsome leather carry pouch, cleaning rag, distinguished keyring with leather tag and a useful keyring tool.Skram Moto Ones sunglasses

The tool unscrews to reveal two small screwdrivers for tightening the arms of the glasses as well as other uses.Skram Moto Ones sunglasses

These lightweight glasses have sturdy and flexible frames that don’t get bent out of shape as you put them on. They actually become more pliable the more you use them.

However, the arms are a little thick and may pose a problem with some helmets. They can also be uncomfortable against your ears in a tight helmet.

We tested the acetate lenses with a UV sensor and found they give pretty good protection.

Skram sunglasses
Light tint after a few seconds

The photochromic tinting effect is quite slow to transition from clear/yellow to tint which means you will come out of a tunnel into broad daylight and squint for a few seconds.

Vice versa, if you ride into a tunnel you have to wait several seconds for the full tint to disappear so you can see clearly.

They also won’t tint to the maximum level if you are wearing a full-face helmet, even with a clear visor or a tinted visor open as helmet visors reduce UV rays.

Skram sunglasses
The darkest tint in direct sunlight

You need direct sunlight on the glasses.

We found even our Biltwell Gringo which has no visor prevented sunlight because of the thick “brow” overhang.

A peak will also shade the glasses and prevent them fully tinting.

The instructions say it takes a few wears to reach the full photochromic effect. That’s what we found too. Right out of the box, they weren’t great, but after a couple of weeks they improved.

However, they never really got all that dark, compared wth our normal sunglasses.

Skram sunglasses
Skram glass at the back compared with Ray Bans (left) and Flying Eyes

They claim they will tint to 80% darkness in full sunlight and meet Category 0 to 3 sunglass standards with 0 legal for night riding.

Mark says the glasses are “perfect for those who wear open-face and 3/4 helmets as well as those who like to ride with their full face helmet visor open”.

We couldn’t test the shatterproof ability of the lenses, but they aren’t scratchproof. We lightly used the tool on the corner of the lens and it easily left a small scratch line.

While they do work better with an open-face helmet, they are not wrap-around, so over about 80km/h you get a lot of wind in your eyes.

This can lead to windburn over time which can promote dry, itchy eyes and, in extreme cases, possibly blurred vision.

And despite all the wind that gets in behind the glasses, we found they fog up fairly quickly on a rainy day, even with an open-face helmet.Skram sunglasses


These are certainly quality, stylish sunglasses, but they aren’t much use for most riding conditions.

However, they work ok around town on a fine day. For example, they would be an excellent pair of glasses to wear on a DGR ride … so long as it isn’t raining!





Fatal motorcycle crash in Royal National Park

In a tragic end to 2019, a 22-year-old male rider has died in a late-night crash in Sydney’s Royal National Park while on a group ride.

NSW Police say the accident occurred at 10pm on Monday (30 December 2019) on Lady Wakehurst Drive at Lilyvale, in the Royal National Park.

“Police have been told a group of motorcyclists were travelling north when the bike left the road and struck a road sign,” they say.

The rider died at the scene.

Officers from Wollongong Police District established a crime scene and commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Inquiries continue, and a report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Our sincere condolences to the rider’s family and friends.

Night ridersNight rider plans

Night riding can be fun, but it is also more dangerous for a host of reasons.

We advise riders to take care and read our tips on how to be a better and safer night rider.


Ducati “Ready 4 Red” 29-City US Tour

Ducati Ready 4 Red

Starting on January 15, 2020, in Chicago, Ducati will kick off its 29-city, coast-to-coast “Ready 4 Red” tour, a series of entertaining evening experiences that invite local communities to come together and discover the new 2020 Ducati lineup and learn about the World of Ducati.

The “Ready 4 Red” tour will present an inclusive and inviting atmosphere for seasoned motorcyclists, non-riders and new riders alike, showcasing Ducati’s new 2020 lineup, including the all-new Streetfighter V4 alongside the Panigale V2, Panigale V4, Multistrada 1260 Grand Tour, Diavel 1260 S, Hypermotard SP and the new Scrambler Icon Dark.

Check out Rider’s 2020 Guide to New Street Motorcycles

2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S
2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S

Ducati’s new e-bike, the MIG-RR e-mountain bike, will also make its North American public debut in preparation of its U.S. availability in 2020.

Ducati MIG-RR e-mountain bike
The Ducati MIG-RR e-mountain bike will be on display at all “Ready 4 Red” tour stops.

In addition to the two-wheeled entertainment, guests will have the opportunity to see the latest apparel collections and “Ducati SuMisura” at select locations — a bespoke fitting service which allows users to customize their own leather suit in terms of graphics options and manufacturing to suit the rider’s specific physique.

Ducati SuMisura
The Ducati SuMisura leather suit customization service will be available at select locations.

Local Desmo Owners Club members (DOC) will also be attending to share with visitors their range of regular activities, ride-outs, events and the benefits of joining the Ducati family.   

“Ready 4 Red” events will be open to everyone through a free online RSVP process. For more information and to register, please visit:

2020 Ducati “Ready 4 Red” Tour Schedule:

  • January 15, 2020 – Chicago, IL
  • January 16, 2020 – St. Louis, MO
  • January 17, 2020 – Indianapolis, IN
  • January 18, 2020 – Detroit, MI
  • January 21, 2020 – Pittsburgh, PA
  • January 22, 2020 – Rockville, MD
  • January 23, 2020 – Philadelphia, PA
  • January 24, 2020 – Foxboro, MA
  • January 25, 2020 – Manchester, NH
  • January 28, 2020 – Charlotte, NC
  • January 29, 2020 – Atlanta, GA
  • January 30, 2020 – Jacksonville, FL
  • January 31, 2020 – Sanford, FL
  • February 1, 2020 – Miami, FL
  • February 4, 2020 – Pensacola, FL
  • February 5, 2020 – New Orleans, LA
  • February 6, 2020 – Houston, TX
  • February 7, 2020 – Austin, TX
  • February 8, 2020 – Dallas, TX
  • February 11, 2020 – Kansas City, MO
  • February 12, 2020 – Denver, CO
  • February 13, 2020 – Salt Lake City, UT
  • February 15, 2020 – Las Vegas, NV
  • February 19, 2020 – Phoenix, AZ
  • February 20, 2020 – San Diego, CA
  • February 22, 2020 – San Francisco, CA
  • February 24, 2020 – Sacramento, CA
  • February 27, 2020 – Portland, OR
  • February 28, 2020 – Seattle, WA


Favorite Ride: Mineral King and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Yokohl Valley Road
Yokohl Valley Road presents a series of serpentine switchbacks as it curves narrowly through groves of oak trees. Tar snakes, yes. Traffic, no. Photos by the author.

The mission was simple: See some scenery, carve some curves and soak up some cool temperatures before the summer heat arrived.

Three of us left our homes in different corners of Los Angeles, California; I was on a KTM 1090 Adventure R, my brother was riding my BMW R 1200 GS and our friend was on a Honda ST1300, and we met at the Halfway House café, a popular stop for weekend riders. After a hearty breakfast — of the kind none of us ever eats on a non-riding day — we headed northeast through a string of sweet winding roads. Traversing Vasquez Canyon, Bouquet Canyon, Spunky Canyon and San Francisquito Canyon, we made our way through Lake Elizabeth and headed down into the wide Antelope Valley.

Sequoia Kings Canyon california motorcycle ride
A map of the route taken, by Bill Tipton/

The cool morning air rose to warming levels by the time we’d run the long straight roads that climb past Willow Springs, through a forest of wind turbines to the town of Tehachapi, where we gassed up and hydrated. Then, it was down wiggling Woodford-Tehachapi Road — pausing to admire the famed Tehachapi Loop, a railroad engineering wonder that curly-cues a length of track around itself, and the César E. Chávez National Monument, a library, museum and memorial of the California farm unionizer.

I’d been impressed by the roadworthiness of the 1090 Adventure R. My impressions improved as we began the tight twists of Caliente Bodfish Road, a narrow two-lane series of sharp curves that brought out the beast in it. Mindful of the livestock roaming along the unfenced sides of the road, and not wanting to dust my riding partners, I modulated the throttle as we rose up and over the crest and proceeded north toward Lake Isabella.

KTM 1090 Adventure R
The KTM 1090 Adventure R had intrigued me most for its off-road capability, but it was on the twisties that I was most impressed.

Wildflowers carpeted the flat fields of Walker Basin, where we paused to take beauty shots of the bikes and complain about the rising heat. Knowing we had a lot of miles left to cover, and certain it was going to get warmer before it got cooler, we dashed down the mountain, past Lake Isabella, to air conditioning, cold drinks and lunch in Kernville at Cheryl’s Diner.

Revived, we scooted out of Kernville, running north along the banks of the Kern River up Mountain Highway 99, watching the trees change from willow and sycamore to oak and finally pine. This higher-speed road carves up an increasingly narrow ravine, the rock walls closing in as the corners tighten. Riding past the turnoff for Sherman Pass, we skirted Johnsondale, left 99 for the seasonally closed M-90, and summitted at 7,300 feet near Ponderosa.

Walker Basin along the Caliente Bodfish Road
Despite the early summer heat, the fields of Walker Basin along the Caliente Bodfish Road were still resplendent with yellow wildflowers.

The 25 miles of State Route 190 downhill to the town of Springville may be the most dramatic motorcycle road in California. Countless tight corners, including some tricky decreasing-radius turns, drop almost 6,000 feet in elevation through pine forests and past trickling waterfalls.

We gassed up again and guzzled cool drinks under a broiling sun in Springville before running the last leg of our first ride day — the splendid, high-speed M-296/Yokohl Valley Drive, a poorly paved length of pavement with some extremely tight hairpin turns that crosses oak-dotted ranchland. When that deposited us on State Route 198, we hooked right, slid past the edge of glistening Lake Kaweah, and landed in Three Rivers, where we’d booked rooms for the night.

Yokohl Valley
David, astride the BMW R 1200 GS, gets a good look at the soft suede hills of Yokohl Valley.

We’d done a little more than 250 miles from the Halfway House. An ample meal at Sequoia Cider Mill prepared us for a good long sleep.

Again mindful of the heat, we saddled up early and rode north to the turnoff for Mineral King. Once a prosperous silver mining area — hence its name — Mineral King got national attention in the 1960s when the Walt Disney Company selected it to build a massive mountain ski resort. Environmentalists intervened; Disney departed.

What remains are the granite cliffs, groves of giant sequoias, rustic cabins dating from the 1870s and a narrow, patchy length of pavement that climbs 7,000 feet in a short 28 miles. It’s a slow, uneven road snaking through dense forests, past cabins hidden in the trees, hugging the side of a canyon wall that features sheer drops to the east fork of the Kaweah River far below.

giant redwood
A few miles uphill from the hot flats of Three Rivers, there suddenly appear redwood trees. This hardy survivor—the tree, that is—had been there for quite a while.

At the road’s end, in an alpine valley dotted with wildflowers and interlaced with gentle streams, we paused to fill our lungs with crisp mountain air and take the obligatory photographs. Hikers setting out for the peaks were headed for 11,000 feet and higher. We mounted up and picked our way slowly back down the hill.

Soon we were on Generals Highway, entering the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks area — I was getting to use my lifetime “senior” pass for the first time — and biting into a delightful lunch at the recently redesigned Wuksachi Lodge. An hour later, we had the keys to our cabins at John Muir Lodge. While my companions headed for the showers, I did an hour-long hike among the giant sequoias at Grant Grove, communing with the silence as the sun went down and the temperature dropped.

John Muir Lodge, high among the redwoods in Sequoia National Park
It was dusk and a chill was settling down as we parked the bikes and checked into our cabins at John Muir Lodge, high among the redwoods in Sequoia National Park.

Morning broke cold and damp, and it was 45 degrees as we walked to breakfast. It was colder and foggier when we saddled up and headed down East Kings Canyon Road toward the turn for State Route 245. Ordinarily a deliciously twisty downhill run through the towns of Pinehurst and Badger, this well-maintained mountain road loses elevation quickly through a 35-mile series of sweeping curves, each with its own impressive view of the great San Joaquin Valley.

This cold morning, though, the air temperature was just above freezing, the mist had turned to fog and the fog was turning to rain. We proceeded slowly, some of us maybe just a little smug that we had brought proper rain gear.

Old Stage Saloon at Fountain Springs
The Old Stage Saloon at Fountain Springs, said to have been founded in 1858, is famous for its fine food and strong cocktails. Our bad luck it was closed the afternoon we passed.

The unfriendly weather left us briefly as we paralleled State Route 99, but returned as we picked up Old Stage Road and climbed through Glennville and onto State Route 155 into Alta Sierra. Through a pleasant period of weak sunshine, I was able again to make the most of the KTM, carving corners as the two-lane rural roads took us up from farmland to grazing land to pine groves.

Soon the freezing rain had reduced visibility to a few bike lengths. We crawled over the summit and were still chattering in our helmets when we stopped again at Cheryl’s Diner in Kernville, this time to warm up with hot drinks.

We still had the southbound Caliente Bodfish Road to enjoy, and our reverse route through Tehachapi and Lake Elizabeth. But we’d already gotten more than we came for. Good scenery? Curves to carve? Cool temperatures? Check, check, check. Mission accomplished!


Segway segue into electric motorcycles

Segway, the makers of the ubiquitous personal mobility vehicle, are branching out into electric sport bikes with the help of Chinese company Ninebot.

They have released this video of their Apex sport bike on a Japanese racetrack.

The sound and speed of the bike certainly don’t impress. At one stage it shows the cockpit wth 81km/h showing on the dash. Hardly inspiring!Segway Apex electric motorcycle

It also doesn’t look like it handles all that well with the rider not really leaning it over very far, a twitchy steering and a jerky change of direction.

Or perhaps they just needed a proper racer who knows the apex of a corner; as ironic as that is for a bike called Apex!Segway Apex electric motorcycle

But we are sure it will accelerate rapidly as most electric motorcycles do.

There are no tech specs available yet, but we only have to wait until it is unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show on 7 January, 2020.

Racing Segway?Segway Apex electric motorcycle

Is this “racey” video also a segue into plans to go racing?

Italian electric motorcycle Energica currently has the contract to supply bikes for the FIM Moto-e World Cup which runs as a support event at select MotoGP rounds around the world. 

Energica MotoE
Energica MotoE race bike

The Energica race bikes have 110kW of power, 200Nm of torque and go from 0 to 100km/h in three seconds with a top speed of 250km/h.

Their Ego and Eva street bikes now have 400km of range.

Segway and Ninebot already have a working relationship to make electric scooters and bikes and have a store in Milton, Brisbane, and an Australian online shop and Facebook page.