Tag Archives: 2019

2019 BMW R1250GS Adventure First Ride Review

BMW’s R1200GS has been one of the brand’s most successful models, ever. It advanced the popularity of the modern large-bore adventure motorcycle segment and helped develop a devout following throughout the world. This year, BMW returned the favor by making this marquee mount even better in hopes of stomping the competition in this always red-hot class.

Related: BMW Showcases Autonomous R1200GS At CES

The new 2019 R1250GS is made to go anywhere and everywhere that your mind and heart could ever envision taking a motorcycle. The flat-twin boxer engine is scaled up to 1,254cc (up from 1,170cc) and produces nearly 117 hp (7,500 rpm) and upwards of 92 pound-feet of torque (6,240 revs) at the business end of the OE-fitted Michelin Anakee 3 rear tire. But the peak numbers aren’t the real star of the new mill. BMW’s proprietary ShiftCam system is what really shines.

The ShiftCam modulates valve lift during acceleration. When the throttle is partially opened the first camshaft facilitates added engine torque along with improved combustion efficiency. However wring the throttle open, and the alternative set of cam lobes allow for extra lift, providing full access to the R1250’s might.

Related: On Two Wheels: The Original BMW R80 G/S vs. The New R1200GS

The system works so well you don’t even notice it. It’s smooth in its actuation between the low- and high-speed cam so that you would never even know it’s equipped with this clever hardware. Just when you thought BMW’s boxer engine couldn’t get any silkier, it does.

Thumb the starter button and the engine has a pleasing tone, even at idle. It sounds meaner than we remember. Throw some revs and you’re greeted by an even more guttural combined engine and exhaust note that makes this Beemer more exhilarating to play with.

On the road it goes exactly where you want it—an impressive feat considering its 574 pound fully fueled curb weight. In spite of its generous proportions, you get acclimated quickly to its size, mostly in part to a favorable balance and weight distribution—a good thing considering we spent 90 percent of our ride off highway.

The power delivery and overall engine dynamic lends itself well whether riding on asphalt or dirt. The traction control and the Enduro mode setting perform well especially when the going gets tough. Unlike previous GS models, in which it was advisable to manually disable the traction control when negotiating the rough stuff, now the electronics include logic that allows for a moderate degree of wheelspin, so you can break traction. However the electronics limit roosting power so that the bike won’t get away from you. This setting worked well in a majority of the terrain we encountered. And of course for true quagmires, you can easily manually disable TC with a push of a button.

The OE-fitted Michelin Anakee 3 tires dug into freshly moistened dirt well. However, in the real deep stuff, you’re going to want the sharper edge of a deeper knob. For most of the stuff we encountered off road, the tires were up to the challenge.

Conversely, on pavement, the French rubber sticks well against pavement, even in the rain. Again, the ABS and traction control are calibrated well, so you can ride the bike harder than you’d think over wet surfaces. Overall, it’s a very well-calculated electronics package, regardless of which of the four modes you choose.

The chassis and ergonomics further complement an impressive powertrain. Not only is it an easy motorcycle to control in virtually any conditions, aside from slippery mud. Its level of comfort is at a very high level—making it a clear choice for those who require a fast, do-it-all motorcycle. Whether you’re riding in the stand-up position or sitting down on the freeway, the R1250GS will continue to be a fine choice for ADV riders who plan on actually exploring the true capabilities of their machine.

And the standard equipment is a smorgasbord of creature comforts: cruise control, heated grips, adjustable windshield, centerstand, skid plate, adjustable seat height, LED lighting throughout, power sockets, removable passenger footpegs, the works. This thing is ready for serious adventure right off the floor, even if you don’t opt for optional equipment upgrades.

If you’re an ADV rider seeking a precision-made motorcycle that has loads of engine character and performance, not to mention a chassis that goes exactly where you want it with good balance and ergonomics that are honed to near perfection, this BMW is going to do it for you.

Technical Specifications

PRICE $17,695 (starting)
ENGINE 1,254cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC boxer twin, 8-valve
CLAIMED HORSEPOWER 116.9 hp @ 7,540 rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE 92.2 lb.-ft. @ 6,240 rpm
FRAME Two-section frame, front, and bolted-on rear frame; load-bearing engine
FRONT SUSPENSION 37mm Telelever fork; 7.5-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION BMW Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring preload hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) via handwheel, rebound damping adjustable via handwheel; 7.9-in. travel
FRONT BRAKES Dual four-piston radial-mount Brembo calipers, 305mm discs w/ ABS
REAR BRAKE Dual-piston caliper, 276mm disc w/ ABS
RAKE/TRAIL 25.5°/3.9 in.
WHEELBASE 59.7 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 35.8 in.
CONTACT bmwmotorcycles.com

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

2019 Oset 20.0 Racing MKII Electric Trials Motorcycle First Look

Oset Bikes has just announced that the new Oset 20.0 Racing MKII electric trials bike will now be powered by a lithium battery. The 20-AH, 48-volt lithium battery will offer a substantial increase in run time while reducing the overall weight of the kid-friendly trials bike by 17 pounds.

The lithium-powered Racing MKII claims to be able to hold a charge for an entire day of trials-type riding or more than three hours of more aggressive off-road riding. If that holds true, Oset has set the bar a little higher once again, and eco-friendly OHV riders should be excited about this subtle yet important upgrade.

Related: Fuell Electric Motorcycle First Look

“We are thrilled to launch our newest bike onto the global market,” explains James Robertson, head of marketing for Oset Bikes in the official press release. “We have listened to what our customers say and it’s quite clear that run time and weight are crucial as they are across the whole electric vehicle landscape, so our new lithium-powered bike answers that. We want our young riders to get as much enjoyment while improving their core skills as possible and the new 20.0R MKII can now offer this as we continue to inspire the next generation of riders.”

The 2019 Oset 20.0 Racing MKII model is available in the new Electric Bolt graphic shown in the photos right now at your local dealers with an MSRP of $3,600.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

5 Best Scrambler Motorcycles Of 2019

As with café racers, scrambler-style motorcycles are in the midst of a mainstream revival, custom builders across the globe often turn to this aesthetic in their projects, and manufacturers are seeing enough mass-market appeal to dedicate resources to creating off-the-shelf versions. For fans of the look and function of a scrambler, these are good times indeed. We’ve chosen five of the best versions available today that prove the point.

Starting things off is the 2019 BMW R nineT Scrambler. Even though it looks a little too polished to take in the dirt, BMW was smart about the roadster’s conversion. This bike is much more capable off road than it appears. A few years back, Ari Henning put one to the test and found its 1,170cc boxer twin capable, it’s weight well balanced, and the 19-inch front and 17-inch wheel combination a good fit for an off-road ride. Now, as with all of the bikes in this list, if you’re looking to do serious adventure riding, get an adventure bike. But if you want a great roadbike with the ability to explore a fire road on a whim, complete with nods to the scrambler style like high exhaust, fork gaiters, and a stripped-down look, then the R nineT Scrambler is a great choice.

The 2019 Indian FTR 1200 S isn’t a scrambler in the strict sense; it’s clearly a tracker based on a competition machine. But it warrants inclusion on this list for two reasons. First, it’s an able-bodied roadbike with off-road chops. This motorcycle will blast down a dirt road as well as it leans into the corner on an oval. Plus it’s got solid, fully adjustable suspension, a 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheel configuration, and is pared down to the essentials. Second, it’s ripe for customization. Indian Motorcycle already offers curated kits to turn the motorcycle into a more sporty, more rugged, more touring-friendly mount. That means you can easily transform this already off-road-capable streetbike into a motorcycle more in keeping with the scrambler aesthetic. The scramblers from the ’60s generally started life as roadbikes and were altered to better handle the demands of the dirt, so customization was a necessary facet of the type. The FTR 1200 S honors that tradition.

There is hardly any rival to the new Triumph Scrambler XE. It’s the epitome of the scrambler look from a brand that made this type of bike famous in the mid-20th century. This is the more off-road-focused version, there’s also an XC that is geared toward the road a bit more, so will have no trouble at all getting on it in the dirt. It’s packing a 1,200cc parallel twin with huge amounts of torque, long-travel Öhlins suspension, a 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheel configuration, and electronic aids that can be switched off to really get spinning off-road. This bike impressed during our first ride review earlier this year and is really the standard-bearer of the segment currently. It’s so good off-road and on that it could hold its own against some adventure bikes.

The 2019 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled is the closest rival to the Triumph in this list in terms of off-road capability. Ducati delivered a version of its versatile Scrambler line with long-travel suspension, a stout trellis frame, good power delivery on the low end, 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, and all the aesthetic touches one would want on a truly on-/off-road-worthy motorcycle. It’s not as completely authentic in terms of the scrambler elements as the Triumph, a single shock out back and a somewhat low exhaust setup being the main offenders in this regard, but it’s still a really sharp machine.

Husqvarna came at the café segment with a fresh perspective with the Vitpilen bikes, and does the same with the scrambler segment with its Svartpilen 401. We chose the 401 over the 701 version because it’s the more rugged of the two, better equipped off the showroom floor for some fun off road. It’s more of an urban scrambler than a true competitor to the Ducati or Triumph, but it wins points in our book for the bold design that Husqvarna has achieved.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

2019 Husqvarna Svartpilen 701 First Ride Review

Said streetbike lineup is dominated by the Vitpilen (White Arrow) and Svartpilen (Black Arrow), and both machines were initially released as 401 models based on the KTM 390 platform. Husqvarna also utilized the KTM 690 platform to create the Vitpilen 701, a bike we loved for the motor, handling, and style. However, an aggressive riding position meant you sacrificed a bit of comfort for the sake of style. It seems that Husqvarna has heard our notes, because the new Svartpilen retains the dynamic excellence of the White Arrow but provides ergonomics that allow you to enjoy the perks for much longer stints at a time.

The styling aesthetic is goth flat-tracker, with varying shades of black designed to absorb as much light and attention as possible. Bronze accents in the engine and exhaust help break up the potential monotony, but the styling is love-or-hate. I happen to fall in the former camp, but even if you’re in the latter, you can’t claim that it’s bland.

Related: 2018 Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 Ridden And Reviewed

It’s also not bland to ride. The Svartpilen 701 makes a strong case as the best single-cylinder streetbike currently in production thanks to premium components such as Brembo brakes with Bosch 9M ABS, adjustable WP suspension, up and down quickshifter, a slipper clutch, and the KTM 690 Duke-derived motor with dual counterbalancers that produces a claimed 75 hp and 53 pound-feet of torque.

Because the whole package weighs just 369 pounds wet and the new bars are tall and wide, the Black Arrow requires minimal input and is supremely easy to maneuver. Pick a line and the Svartpilen will follow gracefully, accepting any midcorner corrections with ease. The Black Arrow gets a bigger front wheel (18 inches versus 17 inches) and more suspension travel on both ends (5.3 inches to 5.9 inches), but the handling remains precise and the extra comfort is worth it. Suspension duties are handled by WP and both the front and rear are fully adjustable. My 6-foot-2, 190-pound frame was happiest after two extra clicks of preload on both ends, but the rebound and compression were excellent from the factory. The same can be said about the Brembo brakes. One could wish for dual discs in the front, but I found the four-piston caliper clamping on a 320mm disc up front to have excellent feel and more than adequate stopping power.

One concern of mine before the ride was the tire choice of Pirelli’s MT 60 RS. The flat-track design of the tread fits the Svartpilen’s aesthetic, but the block pattern suggests reduced grip at the limit. My concern was unfounded, as the Pirellis offer more grip than I anticipated and are very predictable when being too aggressive. Keeping it all in check is a nearly flawless traction control system and ABS which you cannot shut off.

While you can turn off the TC (which allows for some of the easiest wheelies you’ll ever do), the on/off button might be the worst control I’ve encountered on a motorcycle. It’s difficult to push and frustrating to use. Unfortunately, that just about summarizes the rest of the gauge cluster, which tries to pack too much information into too small of an area. The gauge is a disappointment, and Husky should be replacing it with a TFT screen to match the other top-spec components found on the Svartpilen.

As a bike to ride, the Svartpilen is tremendous. Husqvarna considers this to be a premium single-cylinder motorcycle and that generally shows with the brakes, suspension, engine, and the build quality. There are lots of touches that make you feel special when you ride the Black Arrow.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

2019 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE MC Commute Review

At a glance, the Scrambler XE looks like a classic Triumph. Tidy proportions, a shapely fuel tank. It’s a recipe that’s worked for generations. But see the thing in the flesh and you’ll quickly realize Triumph’s iconic styling hides an entirely new and entirely more capable machine.

It’s bigger, for a start, and in every way. Suspension travel rings in at a startling 9.8 inches, and Triumph tells us this iteration of its eight-valve 1,200cc engine is good for 89 hp and 81 pound-feet of torque. And there’s technology too. The Scrambler XE is equipped with traction control and an inertial measurement unit, which facilitates cornering ABS. The machine has rider-selectable throttle maps. There’s even optional built-in Bluetooth GoPro control functionality for capturing your riding exploits.

Taken together, the $15,400 Scrambler XE bundles some of today’s best adventure-riding tech into a package with Triumph’s classic visual appeal. But how does it hold up to the MC Commute? Ride along with us, and find out.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

2019 Kawasaki W800 Café MC Commute Review

If you couldn’t tell, Kawasaki is on a retro new motorcycle kick. Case in point, its new W800 Café. The 2019 Kawasaki W800 ($9,799) is an ode to the Green Team’s first big-displacement four-stroke streetbike, the W1.

Released for the 1966 model year, the W1 was coined after popular British bikes at the time, i.e., England’s BSA. Fast-forward to today, and the W800 is the third retro-inspired ride in Kawasaki’s 2019 streetbike lineup following the 2018 release of the Z900RS and Z900RS Café machines.

Over the years Kawasaki offered a remake version with its W650 in Europe and other parts of the world. It also offered a punched-out W800 in Europe. However, for 2019, engineers gave this retro ride a full mechanical makeover while retaining signature pieces and the silhouette that made this bike a knockout in rider’s eyes and on the showroom floor. And the best part? It’s now available in the US.

Its aesthetically pleasing parallel twin engine, with its delicious-looking bevel valvetrain gear, not only sounds the part, but pumps out a steady stream of torque with upwards of 40 pound-feet available from 2,500 rpm. This allows the W800 to squirt off from a stop delivering real acceleration force that you’d expect from a modern bike. From the brakes to the drivetrain, suspension, and LED lighting, it has all been recalibrated to give a truly nostalgic experience, without any of the hassle of maintenance of an old bike.

Tag along for a ride on the W800 Café in this episode of MC Commute and sound off in the comment section below and share with us what you think of this old-school remake.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

Top 5 Factory Café Racers Of 2019

It used to be a person would have to work to get a café racer. Or at the very least, pay someone else to do the modifications. These days manufacturers make it simple, styling bikes with the café aesthetic right from the start.

Whether that’s a positive shift or negative one we’ll leave to you to decide, but it’s our opinion that the more options riders have the better. And with the current crop of café racers on showroom floors, it’s clear that some companies are taking the genre seriously enough to make a compelling case for factory-built versions of these previously garage-fabricated machines. We sorted through and found five available in 2019 that are particularly appealing.

Trigger warning: We kept our selections to bikes that chase a more “pure” café racer configuration. Clip-on bars (or clip-on-style bars at least), racier ergonomics, straight(ish) lines running tank to tail. Of course, some of our picks break the rules a bit, but we didn’t dive into the neo-café pool (looking at you, Honda) for this list.

The Scrambler platform has been a boon for Ducati. It’s approachable, affordable, stylish, and actually performs, both on the road and in terms of the brand’s bottom line. So it’s no surprise that variations on the base have been high priority for the Bologna-based brand. The Scrambler Café Racer for 2019 is one of the more appealing versions of the platform, and is why this one makes the cut. The nostalgia is there, with the slight fairing/headlight wrap and perpendicular fluidity marked by the bright blue trellis frame running under the tank back underneath the seat. The seat and tailsection pay due homage to the style as well. We also like the fact that as the Scrambler line maintains its presence in the industry, more and more aftermarket parts and accessories are developed. That means you can still put your personal stamp on this Italian V-Twin without having to be an experienced fabricator.

The 2019 Triumph Thruxton R has it all in terms of lines and heritage, plus it absolutely rips. This 1,200cc parallel twin is the biggest engine of the bunch and will have no problem surpassing the ton, plus with the R-spec you get some of the best Triumph has to offer in terms of mechanical componentry. These bikes are absolutely stunning in person, and are fantastic examples of a company honoring its past while moving forward into the future. Many claim to be hitting that mark, but Triumph absolutely does with its Thruxton R. Our only gripe is the price, which starts at $15,400. That undermines the café spirit somewhat, which was born in the garages of more modestly paid riders with an insatiable desire to go fast and eke out every ounce of performance a motorcycle could muster. But it’s not enough of a caveat to undermine the fact that this is one of the best café racers out there that’s ready to ride home from the dealer.

The W800 is an homage to an homage, a bike that brings back a defunct line (ended in 2016) that itself honored a ’60s-era British bike clone from Kawasaki. Does this fact alone warrant its inclusion in the list? Absolutely not, but the air-cooled, 360-degree-crank parallel twin and gaitered fork, front fairing, and unabashed retro styling make a strong case. This is the café that seeks to recreate the café of old with a bit more period-correct authenticity than some of the others. That’s not to say there aren’t a few modern comforts like an assist and slip clutch, but still. It’s a bold move from Kawasaki, which had a fairly enticing option in the café-ish Z900RS already.

At the other end of the spectrum is Husqvarna’s innovative-looking café racer, the Vitpilen 701. This bike has a lot of care paid to its aesthetic detailing, with crisp, clearly café lines thoughtfully accented by the shaping of the tailsection, minimal pinstriping, and trellis frame. It’s packing a playful 693cc single and comes with solid suspension, high-quality brakes, and some nice touches like the APTC slipper clutch and switchable ABS. Whereas lots of others are aiming to recreate a look that feels familiar, Husqvarna decided to take a different route and to us it paid off big time.

The Suzuki SV650X takes an immensely popular and fun platform and gives it a few updates to fit the café racer style. The stitched seat, front fairing, clip-on bars all provide a café look, but do so without feeling overblown. Similar to the Ducati mentioned at the top of the article, the SV650X makes good use out of a well-known, marketable, and enjoyable model with some styling changes to differentiate it from the pack. This may be the most personal choice of the bunch, so definitely subject to bias, but I think the SV650X is a wonderful motorcycle that has just the right amount of aesthetic embellishment in this case to be even more appealing. Plus it’s the most affordable of the bunch.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

KTM’s 2019 790 Adventure R Redefines Off-road ADV

Morocco’s Merzouga dunes sit on the edge of the Sahara Desert; it’s been a film location for several blockbuster movies, is a source of hundred-million-year-old fossils in marble, and KTM uses the area for rally testing and training. With 18 consecutive Dakar Rally wins, the location works. KTM has also chosen this rocky and sand-strewn location for the introduction on the 2019 KTM 790 Adventure R. A bold move that infers a high off-road capability of the top-shelf R model.

Much wringing of hands and checking of finances by KTM fans and serious off-road adventurers had resulted from the 2017 EICMA prototype unveiling. Would it be the one? Could it be the one? The specs suggested yes; the marketing practically guaranteed it; the forums were ablaze with arguments for and against. November 2018 saw the production model unleashed on the public. Hopes were high; the package didn’t differ much from the year before. Maybe that prototype was not really a prototype? It didn’t matter; it was coming and it would be a hit or a massive miss.

Blasting across the desert hot on the heels of KTM adventure wizard and superstar Chris Birch, all I could mutter to myself for the first few miles was, “Unbelievable.” Cutting to the point, it’s as close to rally promise as any KTM Adventure has ever achieved. Bull’s-eye. Hero status is imminent—a qualified successor to the legendary 990 Adventure. Its larger siblings are irrelevant when viewed from behind the handlebars of the 790 Adventure R.

While the 799cc LC8c parallel twin is impressive in its torquey power delivery (and V-twin-like sound) and its lean-sensitive traction control, uncanny ABS functions, and multiple ride modes are better than the rider can ever be, it is the 240mm of WP Xplor suspension that steals the show. Sprung stiffer than a 1290 Super Adventure R, with larger valving combined with a lighter 460-pound wet weight make for nearly enduro or dual-sport levels of capability. The line between a KTM EXC-F and the 790 is closer than any before it.

RELATED: Sportbikes That Don’t Look Like Sportbikes

Attacking the Merzouga sand dunes highlighted the dirt bike-like handling and ergonomics of the 790 Adventure R. It’s a weapon. Yamaha’s 700 Ténéré had better be good—real good to compete with the new king of extreme adventure.

Styling of the 790 Adventure R is the only real miss. But that is okay, from the seat you can’t see the funky beak and bulbous fuel tank. But you can feel the slim tank and seat area and the low center of gravity thanks to the low-slung mass of the tank. As is often the case for KTM, form follows function.

Watch the video below for all the details, but know this: The 2019 KTM Adventure R is the new high-water mark for serious off-road adventure motorcycles. All other midsize ADVs may have just become off-roading fossils.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

10 Thoughts About The 2019 Yamaha Niken GT

After spending a couple of days riding the Tracer GT and the Niken GT back to back, it was the funky leaning three-wheeler that I kept thinking about.

Here are 10 thoughts about Yamaha’s actually-not-that-weird oddball.

It really works!

The Iwata factory’s Leaning Multi-Wheel (LMW) tech functions as advertised. Yamaha’s design objective was to make a motorcycle with superlative front-end grip and stability without diluting the conventional dynamics of riding. Two contact patches up front add a big dose of confidence in less than ideal conditions.

It’s a marketer’s worst nightmare

With a typical vehicle, to see it is to know what it’s for. With the Niken GT, because it’s the first of its kind, its looks don’t naturally convey who it’s for, what it does, or why it exists. That means even at the dealership level, there’s an added layer of disbelief and confusion that have to be punctured. What does that mean for casual buyers? Maybe they’ll be attracted by the sheer weirdness of it. Or maybe it will be a non-starter, limiting the Niken’s audience to true enthusiasts who’ve read up on the thing and really understand it.

The revised engine is great for sport-touring

Yamaha’s crossplane triple is tried and true. In the Niken GT, there’s a slightly heavier crankshaft for improved drivability and a revised gear ratio via two additional teeth in the rear sprocket. Given the motor has to haul around an extra 100-plus pounds, Yamaha also made the gears out of a higher-strength steel alloy for added durability. On the road, the engine is less revy but more tractable, skewing slightly more toward sport-touring than it ever has before.

The luggage seems like an afterthought

One of the main attributes that distinguishes a sport-touring motorcycle from a naked or a sportbike is nicely integrated hard bags. The Niken GT has small-ish semi-hard ABS bags that zip open and closed. And they aren’t waterproof (they include waterproof bags to stow your stuff in should the heavens open). For a machine that has “tour” in its description, no-nonsense luggage should be a no-brainer.

It isn’t as well-equipped as the Tracer GT

The Tracer GT and Niken GT share the GT designation but don’t boast the same level of trim. Because the LMW tech is pricey, it seems like Yamaha had to cut costs in other places. The Niken GT doesn’t have hard bags, an adjustable windscreen, or a TFT dash.

It might be a future cult classic

Like the GTS1000 from the ’90s, Yamaha may have another cult classic on its hand. Bikes that are a bit odd in their day always seem to become endearing in their twilight years. We hope the Niken GT has many years of sales success (it deserves it), but if it doesn’t, we predict that it will become a collector’s item because of its audacity and uniqueness.

LMW tech would be interesting off road

With great front-end grip and stability, it was only natural that we wanted to spool on some knobbies to see what would happen. Pushing the front on a big ADV off road can feel like a game of Russian roulette, so if there’s anywhere where an extra wheel makes sense, it’s in the dirt. There isn’t a lot of front-end travel, but on uneven surfaces, the magic-carpet-like ride the LMW system offers makes for an intriguing prospect. If you’re a Niken owner, please do this and let us know how it goes.

Its price makes it “for experts only”

Yamaha is clear that the three-wheeler is not for new riders or older riders hoping to extend their biking years with a machine that doesn’t fall over at a standstill. The Niken is not that bike. You know what makes it more obvious that the Niken GT isn’t for newbies? The $17,299 price tag.

It’s not an ideal machine for introverts

If you relish the anonymity that flipping down your dark visor provides, don’t buy a Niken GT. The Niken is a conversation starter. Pull up to a gas station on a Ducati Panigale V4 S and no one seems to notice. Pull up on a Niken, and people will ask to take selfies with it. Seriously.

Even though it’s great, I still don’t want one

Yamaha nailed its objectives with the LMW tech, but it’s not this uncrashable, experience-altering bike that will revolutionize motorcycling. It looks too different from a conventional motorcycle but behaves too similarly to a conventional motorcycle to justify the extra $4K, the added weight and complexity, and all the gas station attention. Still, I’m glad Yamaha is bold enough to build a bike like the Niken GT and I have zero reservations about recommending it to people.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

2019 Vespa Elettrica Scooter First Ride Review

There was a time, not too long ago, when seemingly every review of an electric vehicle included a sidebar on the relevance of electric vehicles. This is no longer necessary. The concept is valid. In five years or so, electrics will be ubiquitous enough to be seen as just another part of the two-wheel landscape—some folks like inline-fours, others are fans of triples, and others like a torquey electric. But just because the concept is valid, that doesn’t mean every application makes sense. Step forward the new Vespa Elettrica.

Piaggio introduced the Elettrica at EICMA 2017, declaring in typically Italian hyperbole that it was not simply an electric scooter but “a contemporary work of art with a technological heart.” Powered by a 4.2-kWh battery, the little scooter claims a peak power output of 4 kilowatts (about 5.3 hp for those of you playing along in the old school), and a range of up to 100 kilometers (62 miles). As with all manufacturer figures, be they for electric or internal combustion machines, it’s probably best to take those numbers with a grain of salt.

Certainly the Elettrica’s most impressive number was hard to believe when being ridden in the streets of Milan recently. The scooter’s manufacturer claims a stunning 200 Nm of torque at the wheel, or 147.5 pound-feet. It does not feel like that. The Elettrica is downright kid-friendly in its power delivery and as such sparks questions about its ability to deliver on one of the key advantages of a scooter.

In most parts of the world, scooters are the ideal weapon for finding one’s way through snarled traffic. Nimble, light, and small enough to fit through the tiniest of gaps between vehicles, they’re generally pretty good at lurching ahead at stoplights. Sure, the smallest of scoots will start to run out of puff halfway across an intersection but at least you got that head start.

The Elettrica scores top marks in its ability to dance through traffic, and, although it’s heavier than an internal combustion equivalent, its heft is entirely manageable—especially thanks to the presence of a reverse gear. It does feel a little tiny to a rider who is 6-foot-1, but there can be no questioning that it’s a lot of fun to ride. However, crack the throttle to the stop on the Elettrica and the gradual journey to its top speed of 48 km/h (or 29.8 mph) is far too gentle. It will leave many commuters fearing the impatience of fellow road users.

Piaggio says it has built the Elettrica to serve as the equivalent of a 50cc scooter, pointing out that roughly half the scooters sold in the United States are of that capacity or less. In most US states, a 50cc machine officially classifies as a moped or “motorized bicycle” and licensing requirements are more relaxed. In the state of New Mexico, for example, a 13-year-old could throw a leg over the new Elettrica with no need for license, registration, insurance, or helmet.

One wonders, however, how many 13-year-olds there are in the Land of Enchantment who have $7,499 to meet the Elettrica’s asking price. Normally, one of the selling points of a 50cc scooter is that it’s cheap.

Perhaps paper routes pay really well these days. And certainly the Elettrica is designed to serve a more connected generation. Owners are encouraged to download an app that connects the scooter with a mobile phone. This means you get a wealth of information about the scooter—trip time, remaining battery range, statistics based on past journeys, and more. You can also get this information by clicking through the menu on the Elettrica’s easy-to-read TFT display. But connecting means you can control some of your phone’s features (such as selecting music) via handlebar switches. You’ll also get notifications of texts and incoming calls on the TFT display.

Charge time for the Elettrica is roughly four hours via a 220-volt plug of the sort used in washers and dryers in the United States. Considering the hyper-urban/short-distance purpose of this vehicle that’s perfectly acceptable; most users will be charging this thing overnight. Piaggio says the battery is good for 1,000 full charging cycles before it begins to suffer reduced capacity. The Italian manufacturer reckons that works out to about 10 years of use before capacity dips to 80 percent.

The Vespa Elettrica is good looking and enjoyable to ride, but when weighing its price and performance one can’t help but wonder who it’s for. Costing thousands of dollars more than a standard 50cc scooter, it fails to deliver obvious advantages beyond the ability to be smug about using electric. It’s a solid first effort, with Vespa having nailed the elements of handling and styling one expects of a scooter, but too-soft power delivery disappoints. History suggests it’s well within Piaggio’s capacity to deliver a more thrilling experience, however, so here’s hoping for an Elettrica 2.0.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com