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2022 Honda Grom | First Ride Review

2022 Honda Grom review
We got a first ride on the third-generation Grom, which has a revised engine, a 5-speed transmission, a new seat, fresh styling, and other changes. With a base price of $3,399, you’ll never have so much fun for so little money. (Photos by Drew Ruiz)

When the Honda Grom debuted for 2014, it was a curiosity. The first question was, “What the heck is a grom?” Since 1959, American Honda has been based in Southern California, a place known for its tasty waves. When the time came to name a 125cc minibike, it chose the slang term for a talented young surfer.

The next question was, “Who’s gonna buy it?” Everyone, as it turned out. Priced at $2,999, the low buy-in and appeal of a modern, playful minibike proved irresistible. Dealers ordered them by the dozen, and when they couldn’t get as many as they needed, they took deposits and put people on waiting lists. Some early buyers flipped Groms for a profit.

Almost overnight, Grom subcultures popped up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Shops like Steady Garage in California and MNNTHBX (man in the box, get it?) in Tennessee started customizing Groms, and aftermarket companies began offering special parts like shocks, exhaust pipes, and big-bore kits. Grom enthusiasts started racing them, and friends and clubs got together for group rides.

There’s a house in my neighborhood that was occupied by four bikers who rode tricked-out Dynas and dressed like Sons of Anarchy cast members. At random times I’d see their garage door open, and out they’d come in black vests and half helmets on four identical Groms, their normally serious “cruiser face” replaced with boyish smiles.

2022 Honda Grom review
The 2022 Honda Grom SP ($3,499) comes in Pearl White and includes special graphics, gold fork tubes, and gold wheels. Large bolts make it easier to remove the Grom’s bodywork.

The Grom has been Honda’s top-selling streetbike in the U.S. since it was introduced. Worldwide, more than 750,000 have been sold. And over the past few years Honda’s miniMOTO lineup has expanded to include the Monkey, Super Cub C125, and Trail 125, all powered by the same 125cc air-cooled Single.

After getting an edgy styling refresh in 2017, the Grom was updated for 2022 with a new look, a revised engine, a new transmission, a larger fuel tank, and a thicker, flatter seat. The goal was to make the Grom easier to customize, more comfortable, and – dare we say it – more practical.

2022 Honda Grom review
The light and agile Grom is right at home on city streets.

Greg’s Gear
Helmet: HJC RPHA 90S
Jacket: Fly Racing Strata
Pants: Sa1nt Unbreakable Jeans
Boots: Highway 21 Axle Shoes

Though still a fuel-injected, 2-valve 125cc Single with an overhead cam, the Grom’s powerplant now has a more undersquare bore/stroke (now 50 x 63.1mm vs. 52.4 x 57.9mm before), a higher compression ratio (10:1, up from 9.3:1), and a larger airbox, all aimed at making the little engine that could more torquey and fuel efficient. A replaceable oil filter simplifies maintenance, and the down pipe and muffler are now a two-piece design for easier replacement.

2022 Honda Grom review
We dare you find a way to have more fun for less money on a motorcycle.

The Grom’s gearbox now has five speeds (up from four) and wider gear ratios, which, along with a larger 38-tooth rear sprocket (up from 34), help the bike cruise more easily at speed. Nonetheless, due to its top speed of about 60 mph, the Grom is too small to take on the freeway, not that I’d be inclined to do so even if I could. A larger 1.6-gallon tank (up from 1.45) will help the fuel sipper go even farther between fill-ups – last year’s model got an EPA-tested 134 mpg.

I showed up to the Grom press ride after a particularly stressful week. The day before we had shipped our August issue off to the printer, and I felt wrung out like an old dishrag. After getting a tour of the Steady Garage shop in Irwindale, California, and checking out some of their amazing Grom builds, our get-along gang of eight riders buzzed through the city streets and up into the San Gabriel Mountains.

2022 Honda Grom review
LCD meter has a speedo, tach, fuel gauge, clock, gear position, and trip/fuel economy functions.

I’m 6 feet tall and weigh more than 200 pounds. Honda hasn’t provided a curb weight figure for the 2022 model, but the previous model weighed 229 pounds. Even with my big sack of taters in the saddle, the Grom is zippy and pulls away from stops eagerly. Its clutch pull is ultra light, and rowing through the gears is effortless, which is good since keeping the Grom in the go zone requires the right gear and all the throttle you can twist out of the right grip.

Going up into the mountains was a tad slow, but going down was a total riot. With 12-inch wheels and barely 10 horsepower, the Grom is all about corner speed and drafting the person in front of you. Its brakes and suspension are as basic as you’d expect for a $3,399 motorcycle, but they are steady and predictable. (An extra $200 gets you ABS.) The Grom is tough and takes a lot of abuse without complaint.

By the time we got back to the valley, I had all but forgotten what I was so stressed out about. I had been so focused on keeping up and being smooth and laughing inside my helmet at the silliness of it all that the fun had displaced all of my concerns

2022 Honda Grom review
Grom, Monkey, (Super) Cub, or Trail, there’s a 125cc Honda miniMOTO for you.

It has been said that you never see a motorcycle parked in front of a psychiatrist’s office. That’s especially true if the motorcycle is a Grom. Go ahead, have some fun!

2022 Honda Grom Specs

Base Price: $3,399
Price as Tested: $3,499 (Grom SP)
Website: powersports.honda.com
Engine Type: Air-cooled Single, SOHC w/ 2 valves
Displacement: 125cc
Bore x Stroke: 50 x 63.1mm
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 47.2 in.
Rake/Trail: 25 degrees/3.3 in.
Seat Height: 30 in.
Wet Weight: 229 lbs. (2020 model)
Fuel Capacity: 1.6 gals.

The post 2022 Honda Grom | First Ride Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

ADV:Overland – The Petersen Automotive Museum Celebrates the Spirit of Motorcycle Adventure

ADV:Overland – The Petersen Museum
The 1966 Triumph T120 that won the Baja 1000.

The Petersen Automotive Museum and Motorcycle Arts Foundation have launched a new exhibit titled ADV:Overland, which celebrates the spirit of adventure through off-road and off-world motorcycles and related vehicles. With support from Harley-Davidson, the exhibit features 23 adventure-touring motorcycles and race vehicles from 1930 to the present, as well as sci-fi and NASA off-world exploration vehicles, to tell a comprehensive story about adventuring on two wheels, on Earth and beyond.

ADV:Overland – The Petersen Museum
2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America – Photo by David Martinez

RELATED: 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special | First Ride Review

Motorcycles and off-road racing vehicles on display include an example of the 1903 California that was the first motorized vehicle to travel coast to coast; a 1912 Henderson Four as used in the first motorcycle trip around the world; a 1915 Harley-Davidson 11-F with sidecar, as used by Effie and Avis Hotchkiss when they became the first women to drive across the United States; the 1932 Douglas “Mastiff” which inspired Robert Edison Fulton Jr.’s novel “One Man Caravan”; the 1933 Puch 250SL that was the first motor vehicle to overland from Europe to India; a 1964 Honda CL72 Baja Scrambler homage to Dave Ekins’ first timed run down Baja; a 1974 BMW R60/6 which inspired the book “Lone Rider” by Elspeth Beard; a 1906/2019 Contal Mototri veteran of the Peking to Paris rally; and many more, including an example of the 2021 Harley-Davidson Pan America.

RELATED: Silver Shotgun: Italian Motorcycle Design of the 1970s, about a recent motorcycle exhibit at the Petersen

Real and science fiction space vehicles are also on display and include a 2021 Tardigrade concept electric Lunar motorcycle; a replica of the 1965 chariot from the “Lost in Space” television series; as well as another from the 2018 remake; a model of the Opportunity MER-1 rover, the robotic spacecraft that holds the long-distance record in off-world overlanding; and a model of the 1996 Sojourner rover.

ADV:Overland – The Petersen Museum
1996 Sojourner rover – Photo Courtesy of Space Flight Insider

“We are proud to partner with Motorcycle Arts Foundation to gather this impressive display of vehicles in the spirit of adventure,” said Petersen Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “Coming on the heels of a global pandemic, ADV:Overland is an important retrospective of the freedom of exploration, to go where no one has ever gone and accomplish things that no one has ever accomplished. This visionary spirit drives innovation in transportation and has inspired this exhibit.”

Exhibit curator Paul d’Orléans explains, “This exciting, first-ever collection of Round-the-World, overland racing, and off-world overland vehicles is the perfect pandemic escape hatch. Most of these extraordinary machines have never been publicly displayed, and absolutely radiate the spirit of adventure: some even retain their original accessories, 90 years later.  These are must-see vehicles, on display in the best motoring museum on the planet.”

ADV:Overland – The Petersen Museum
1903 California – Photo Courtesy of the George A Wyman Memorial Project

“ADV:Overland” opened on July 3, 2021, at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The exhibit is produced by Motorcycle Arts Foundation (MAF) and Sasha Tcherevkoff with support from Harley-Davidson. Guests who would like to visit the museum must purchase tickets in advance on the Petersen’s website. Health and safety guidelines are being followed: face coverings are required for all guests (single-use face masks will be provided to those who do not have one). For more information visit: petersen.org/overland.com.

The post ADV:Overland – The Petersen Automotive Museum Celebrates the Spirit of Motorcycle Adventure first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Striking Vikings: How Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
This 1970 Husqvarna 250 Cross belonged to Bruce Brown and appeared in On Any Sunday. It is now part of the Petersen Automotive Museum’s collection. Photos by TED7 / Courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum.

For a while there, 50 years ago, Husqvarna was perhaps the best-known and most desirable dirtbike in the world. They were good enough bikes — I owned and tested them in the day — but fame earned in the hands of Baja racer and ISDT gold medalist Malcolm Smith, and their use by actor Steve McQueen, exposed and validated the bikes to more people through the movie On Any Sunday than probably any amount of advertising or editorial coverage could accomplish. Whereas magazine tests and race results reached readers hungry for the latest news about the latest products, such impressions often vaporize when the next generation of products arrives. And from the mid-1960s onward until the modern 4-stroke dirtbike era, those changes were relentless. 

What the movie actually did for the Scandinavian machines was far deeper, what scientists would define as “imprinting.” In 1935, Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz noticed that goslings (newly hatched geese) would memorably imprint on the first living animal they saw, whether that was Mother Goose or a person. This imprint became lifelong, the same powerful imprint that Husqvarna’s heroic and emotional appearances in On Any Sunday created for kids and young adults at the time. And so, all these years later, the effect Husqvarna — particularly the twin-shock, chrome-sided tank models with the aluminum fenders — has on legions of middle-aged men is real, bordering on mental. 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart

With its hand-stenciled number plate, scuffed finishes, and weathered patina, Bruce Brown’s 250 Cross tells a story of competition and heavy use, and it helped make Husqvarna famous in America. Its air-cooled 2-stroke single and bolt-together frame were simple but durable. Brown replaced the original metal fenders with lighter, flexible plastic fenders made by Preston Petty Products. 

How did Husqvarna of far-flung Sweden — the land of reindeer and icy fjords — find itself in the right place at the right time? Maybe it was serendipity, since in 1953 the company produced its first purpose-built enduro, the Silver Arrow, featuring an upswept exhaust and high-mounted fenders to idealize the bike for trail use. Presciently, Husky likewise pioneered a 500cc 4-stroke for FIM motocross competition in 1958, but that model had a short lifespan. 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
Featuring lights, a horn, a speedometer, and a California green sticker, this 1967 250 Commando (VIN 167038) dual-sport was the first Husqvarna owned by Steve McQueen. Like Brown’s 250 Cross, it has been preserved in its original, unrestored condition, with a battered red-and-silver tank, a rusty exhaust pipe and a taped-up seat.

From there, a few more years of development finally produced a 2-stroke production motocross bike fit for America. Motocross had just come here by way of California in 1965, thanks to West Coast roadracer Wes Cooley, Sr., who discovered the fledgling sport while in Europe. After returning home, he organized the first known sanctioned MX event in this country, an invitational at Castaic near Los Angeles. 

“When Wes called to announce the race, most of us said, ‘What?’” laughed AMA Hall of Fame member Mary McGee. “Even so, 45 of us, mostly desert riders, showed up.” McGee rode that event, although on a Triumph twin desert sled and not a Husky, making her America’s first female motocross racer. Then Cooley repeated in 1966. 

“This was the first U.S. motocross race for Husqvarna, and also the first U.S. race for Torsten Hallman,” McGee added. Hallman would ultimately win six 250cc world titles for Husky and was atop his game in ’66. “Now there were close to 60 riders, but everyone had their eyes on Torsten. He and the Husky together made a huge impact. Mostly because Torsten was so bloody fast, but also because the Husky was a proper motocross bike — it was so beautiful compared to looking at a big, huge Triumph, Matchless, or AJS. That reverberated fast through the manufacturers.” 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart

The other factor in the serendipity equation was Edison Dye, who obtained Husqvarna distribution rights in America and had brought Hallman here. Aboard the newfangled Husqvarna, Torsten simply blew the competition away, establishing a benchmark for the new sport of motocross that was totally European — Swedish, actually — from the bikes’ weirdly named Trelleborg knobby tires on up. 

Prior to this time, Malcolm Smith rode a heavy 4-stroke Matchless G80CS, and then hopped over to a 2-stroke Greeves before trying a Husqvarna in a desert shakedown. “In 1966, Edison came to my repair shop and wanted me to race one of the two Husqvarnas he had imported,” Smith recalled. “I said no because I was racing a Greeves for Nick Nicholson. But he had one in his pickup and said, ‘At least try it.’ So, I rode it around the track we had built in the hills and came back and told him I would race it. It was so much better feeling than anything I had ridden before — light, powerful, and agile. I won many races on it and kept on racing Husqvarnas until they were sold to the Italians.” 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
The 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross is one of two donated to the Petersen Automotive Museum by Mark and Randy Zimmerman. Steve McQueen had it done up in chrome before giving it to his friend and fellow actor, James Coburn.

I asked Malcolm to recall his favorite and least-favorite Huskys. “The best Husqvarna I had was a 400WR 6-speed,” he said. “Very smooth, even power, and no vibration. It was only produced one year before they made it a 430.” 

And the worst? “The worst bike Husqvarna ever made was the air-cooled Desert Master 450,” he revealed. “They used the ‘boat anchor’ motor, as we called it. Big, heavy, slow, and unreliable.” 

With good business smarts even as a young man, Smith obtained a dealership franchise as he started racing Husqvarnas. Over the years that franchise grew into the Malcolm Smith Motorsports dealership in Riverside, California, and the Malcolm Smith Racing (now MSR) product line that have made Smith wealthy as well as famous for his on-track and on-screen accomplishments. As is typical though, instead of mentioning this, Malcolm credited Husqvarna rep Gunnar Lindstrom, a talented engineer as well as racer, with helping the brand grow in the States. 

The story thus far may appear to start Husqvarna’s clock in the mid-1960s. While that’s true in the U.S., the brand’s history runs much deeper. Husqvarna began as a gun manufacturer in 1689, produced bicycles in the late 1800s, and in 1903 began manufacturing motorcycles. Starting in the 1910s, Husqvarna produced V-twin road bikes, and for a time in the 1930s, 350cc and 500cc V-twin racing models that won several Grands Prix, although most of the precious team bikes were lost in a truck fire. 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
Steve McQueen’s Husqvarna 400 Cross has the original aluminum fenders, with a rubber mud flap on the front that would bend and flop around at speed.

The basic engine that powered the famous Husqvarna 250 Cross and 400 Cross bikes in Bruce Brown’s historic 1971 film first took shape in the mid-1950s Silver Arrow enduro model. Studying the egg-shaped engine cases and the organic shape of the air-cooled piston-port cylinder and head reveals how a postwar engineering draftsman’s board produced forms that, decades later, were drawn by innumerable school kids on their schoolbook covers. 

The ode of these early purebred dirtbikes, from the mid-1950s through the mid-1980s and the end of the line for the “original” Husqvarna motorcycles, was defined by engineering principles of simplicity, strength, performance, and light weight. Inside those first egg-shaped cases were a straightforward pressed-together crankshaft supported by ball bearings and using a roller-bearing connecting-rod big end. Up top was an iron cylinder liner press-fit into an aluminum cylinder, topped by an aluminum head. A simple magneto provided spark and, for enduro versions, lighting. 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart

Power flowed from the crank to the early 4-speed dog-type gearbox via a gear primary drive and a multi-plate wet clutch. This type of architecture was widely found among European dirtbikes such as Bultaco and CZ. A tuned upswept expansion chamber maximized power in the desired portion of the rev range, and complemented, as did the gearbox ratios, the intended use of the model. 

Noted motocross bike restorer Bill Masho has rebuilt numerous Huskys to museum standards and knows them from their crankshafts up. “They are logical but not over-engineered, and robust enough with regular maintenance,” he noted. “Early (1966-67) oval-case 4-speeds were exceedingly good, displacing 2-stroke Greeves and other early ’smokers. The 1970-71 400 Cross was probably the best model of the series — no major faults. The first 5-speeds (starting in 1972) were heavy and slower, and didn’t handle as well. But the later ones — particularly the GP of 1975-76 — were very effective.” Masho should know. As this was written he was in Unadilla racing a post-vintage national. 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
This 1971 400 Cross (VIN MI4666) was registered to Solar Productions, Steve McQueen’s production company. It’s the same model Husky on which he did a shirtless wheelie for the August 23, 1971, cover of Sports Illustrated (“Steve McQueen Escapes on Wheels”). This one was modified with a Ceriani fork and Koni shocks, and it underwent a full restoration in 2012.

Highly desirable today are the early “bolt together” frame models, and naturally the iconic On Any Sunday models with the rounded, chrome-sided tanks and that peculiar mud flap hanging off the front fender like the floppy ear of a mutt. Honda copied it on the first Elsinore models, a shameless mimicry some thought. 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart

Husqvarna was on the world stage in motocross from the get-go, and it soon enough got there in America too, thanks to Hallman, Smith, and notable U.S. riders including Mark Blackwell, Kent Howerton, Brad Lackey, and Chuck Sun. And in the desert, J.N. Roberts and Whitey Martino — and John McCown with his dog Kookie riding on the gas tank! — excelled. Remarkably, given the brand’s strong reputation, in 1976 Howerton claimed Husqvarna’s first and only U.S. national motocross championship in the 500cc class. It would be over 40 years before Zach Osborne repeated the feat aboard the modern KTM-bred 250cc and 450cc 4-strokes. Dick Burleson and Malcolm Smith flew the Husqvarna flag in enduros, and Smith won the Baja 1000 twice on Husqvarnas, first with Roberts and later with Gunnar Nilsson.

 

The Japanese companies got on the pipe big time in the 1980s, reshaping the technology battlefield with liquid cooling, long-travel suspension, and single-shock, rising-rate rear suspension systems in a stampede of progress. Husqvarna was late to follow, and eventually fell out of favor with the hard chargers. Even so, with its antiquated air-cooled engines and twin shocks, the brand soldiered on into the mid-1980s in the U.S. And then the party — at least here — ended, as the forward-looking ’83 TE 510 4-stroke enduro was a decade ahead of the industry. Ownership of Husqvarna traded hands several times — Cagiva in 1987, BMW in 2007, and finally KTM in 2013. 

Today the “new” Husqvarna is active in motocross, cross country, and enduro, and offers a line of 2-stroke and 4-stroke bikes paralleling KTM’s meteoric line. Husky is now also back on the street with the 701 Supermoto, 701 Enduro dual-sport, the avant-garde Svartpilen and Vitpilen naked bikes, and the upcoming Norden 901 adventure bike. 

How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart
How Sweden’s Scrappy Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart

It’s been 50 years since On Any Sunday charmed audiences across the country, and even longer since those first wraithlike silver-and-red Husqvarnas lined up to race in the hills of Southern California. A kid who got an eyeful that day would nearly be a senior citizen now, but he would still remember the unmuffled shout of 2-stroke racing engines and the flash of the Huskys’ chrome-sided tanks, polished fenders, and maybe even that floppy mud flap swept back in the wind. 

And that, my friends, is what you call an imprint. 

The Husqvarnas shown in the accompanying photos were donated to the Petersen Automotive Museum by Mark and Randy Zimmerman. The Petersen’s permanent collection includes hundreds of automobiles and motorcycles. Located in Los Angeles, the museum regularly features motorcycle exhibits in the Richard Varner Family Gallery — “ADV:Overland,” curated by Paul d’Orléans, opened in July 2021. For more information, visit petersen.org. 

The post Striking Vikings: How Husqvarna Captured America’s Heart first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Fort Bragg to Sonoma Raceway: IMS Outdoors Northern California Ride

Open Road to Progressive IMS Outdoors Northern California Ride Sonoma Raceway
Taking in the view from Duncans Point on a cold, foggy summer day.
(Photo by Kevin Wing)

For 2021, the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows tour has been rebranded as Progressive IMS Outdoors and events will be held outside, like open-air powersports festivals. The tour will visit nine major markets around the U.S. between July and November (see the full schedule at motorcycleshows.com). Each stop will be a three-day event for powersports enthusiasts and potential riders of all ages and skill levels, with motorcycle demo rides and hands-on experiences unique to each venue. 

The first stop is in Northern California, at Sonoma Raceway over the weekend of July 16-18. We’re providing suggested scenic rides to or near each tour stop, with routes available on the REVER app. The Northern California ride is a 165-mile paved route that starts in the coastal town of Fort Bragg and ends at Sonoma Raceway, which is located north of San Francisco. Most of the route follows California State Route 1 south along the scenic, rugged Pacific Coast. 

Open Road to Progressive IMS Outdoors Northern California Ride Sonoma Raceway REVER map

Click here to view the REVER route shown above

Fort Bragg is a charming burg that’s home to the Sea Glass Museum, the Skunk Train, and North Coast Brewing Company. Heading south through town on Route 1 (Main Street), the ride begins on the Noyo River Bridge. Known in this area as Shoreline Highway, Route 1 is a scenic two-lane road that winds along the contours of the coast. Despite being just 165 miles long, this route typically takes four to five hours, not including stops. 

Open Road to Progressive IMS Outdoors Northern California Ride Sonoma Raceway
The route starts on the Noyo River Bridge in Fort Bragg. (Photo by Clement Salvadori)

You’ll want to stop often at the many towns, natural areas, scenic overlooks, and state parks along the way, such as the Navarro River Bridge, where Route 128 goes inland to the Navarro River Redwoods State Park. Other highlights include Mendocino, Point Arena Lighthouse, Stewarts Point, Salt Point State Park, Fort Ross, Jenner, Sonoma Coast State Park, Duncans Point, and Bodega Bay. 

Open Road to Progressive IMS Outdoors Northern California Ride Sonoma Raceway
Jenner is a charming village near where the Russian River flows into the Pacific. (Photo by Clement Salvadori)

After riding along the eastern edge of Tomales Bay, you’ll arrive in the town of Point Reyes Station. Turn onto Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, which follows Lagunitas Creek and passes along the Nicasio Reservoir. The route continues east, crosses U.S. Route 101, and follows State Route 37 (Sears Point Road) and State Route 121 (Arnold Drive) to Sonoma Raceway. Enjoy the ride and enjoy the show!

For more information about Progressive IMS Outdoors and to buy tickets, visit motorcycleshows.com.

Open Road to Progressive IMS Outdoors Northern California Ride Sonoma Raceway
Sonoma Raceway is located northern of San Pablo Bay.

The post Fort Bragg to Sonoma Raceway: IMS Outdoors Northern California Ride first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Two Buddies Tour the Rocky Mountains

A Dream Come True - Two Buddies Tour the Rocky Mountains Moto Guzzi Spirit of the Eagle Rideaway V85 TT
Kit (on left), Guy, and the Moto Guzzi V85 TTs in Kanisku National Forest, ready to take on the resplendent Rocky Mountains. (Photos by Guy Pickrell)

“You’ve got to enter this!” said my touring mate, Marco, when he called me about Moto Guzzi’s Spirit of the Eagle Rideaway competition.

Describe your dream tour, anywhere in the USA. Win the use of a V85 TT adventure bike for 14 days and a $2,500 travel budget.

I threw down a route. Start in Seattle, ride east to Glacier National Park, then follow the Rocky Mountains south through Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Flaming Gorge, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and finish in Las Vegas. Eight days, seven states, six national parks and monuments, 2,600 miles. Epic!

Click here for the REVER route shown above

When the Piaggio Group called me last August to tell me I had won, it didn’t leave much time to prep and hit the road to beat the cold weather in Glacier National Park. My buddy Kit agreed to join me, and Moto Guzzi generously offered us a second bike. The adventure/dual-sport market isn’t Guzzi’s typical realm, so when I read that the TT stands for tutto terreno (all-terrain), I figured the least we could do is put them through a genuine off-road test. Part of the budget went toward Michelin Anakee Wild tires; billed as 50/50 on-/off-road, they have a surprisingly aggressive tread pattern. At 500-plus pounds, the V85 TT is no dirt bike, but if adventure is your goal, sooner or later you’re going to find yourself off the beaten path, and that’s exactly where we planned to be.

Our Chariots Await

We flew to Seattle and first saw our V85 TTs parked outside at Optimum Performance Motorsports. Their styling reminded me of old Paris-Dakar bikes. I took the Adventure edition, sporty in bright red and white livery, with only a gesture of a windscreen. Kit took the Travel edition, with a sophisticated metallic sand color and a larger windscreen, auxiliary lights and heated grips. Both bikes were fitted with excellent panniers, and the Adventure also included a top box, which I removed to allow more room for my DrySpec soft bags. After a chat with Alan Kwang, the dealership owner, he handed us the keys and wished us well. It was surreal riding away on brand new bikes without having exchanged anything more than a conversation.

A Dash Across an Apocalyptic Plain

It was nearly noon by the time we packed everything on the bikes and rode east out of Seattle. U.S. Route 2 climbs into rugged, pine-strewn mountains and goes over Stevens Pass (4,061 feet) before descending along the floor of a dramatic, glacial valley. During a late lunch in Leavenworth, the smell of smoke reminded us there were wildfires still burning across Washington State. After crossing the Columbia River, a steep ascent took us out of the rocky canyon onto a vast, windswept plain. Rolling grassland swept off to the horizon in all directions. Huge areas, scorched black by the recent flames, were still smoldering. It was like riding through the wake of a recent battle. We raced across the plateau for 140 miles, and then descended into Spokane and made quick time to our hotel in Ponderay, Idaho.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Going-to-the-Sun Road provides panoramic views of the dramatic arêtes, cascading valleys and ribbon lakes that make up Glacier National Park.

Majestic Glacier National Park and Deer in the Headlights

Still refining the bike-packing process, we began the first of 440 miles much later than planned. Just shy of the Canadian border, Route 2 turns east near Bonners Ferry, into the dense fir and spruce forests of Montana. Entering Glacier National Park, crystal-clear Lake McDonald sweeps up the valley alongside Going-to-the-Sun Road, a narrow strip of asphalt (and an engineering marvel) carved into the side of a mountain range. Logan Pass (6,647 feet) offered awesome views, as sheer valleys tumbled down to the lakes below and knife-edged arêtes towered above us. The light was fading by the time we got on the deserted forest road to Missoula. Kit spotted a mule deer, her almond eyes reflecting brightly in the Travel’s auxiliary lights. She was the first of many, and it was 10 p.m. when we finally walked into the Missoula Club bar, famous for its burgers and beer.

The Glorious Mountain Roads of Montana

After refueling in Hamilton, we turned east into the Sapphire Mountains on a steep gravel track and climbed up to Skalkaho Pass (7,257 feet). It was our first off-road test for the bikes and tires, and we quickly found our confidence on the hard-packed gravel. Abundant torque served us well, especially in 2nd and 3rd gears. By afternoon, the towering canyons had relented to reveal panoramic views of the dramatic scenery. We swept up another pass, riding into Virginia City, a marvelous authentic gold-rush town established in 1863. Following the Madison River south from Ennis, we had a breathtaking sight as the setting sun lit up a colossal rift running along the western bank. Eventually, we made it to our hotel in the dark, tired and hungry, only to discover the nearest restaurant was eight miles away, in West Yellowstone.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Clouds of sulphur-smelling steam billow up from boiling pools along the road through Yellowstone.

Enchanting Yellowstone and Towering Grand Teton

As the sun came up, we brushed the ice off our seats and rode into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. We rode a clockwise loop around the park, passing steaming geysers, volcanic hot springs that belched scorching, sulfurous gas, and bison that grazed the roadside meadows, eventually coming upon enormous Yellowstone Lake. We made a quick stop at the amazing Old Faithful Inn, just as its namesake geyser erupted.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
The Tetons looming over Jackson Lake

The road exiting Yellowstone’s southern entrance runs along the edge of a sheer canyon, ending at Jackson Lake, where the Tetons, a series of three spectacular peaks, soar up from the western bank to over 13,500 feet like giant fossilized teeth. It was late afternoon when we stopped at Alpine to buy supplies. The Guzzis always drew a small crowd and a flurry of questions. I discovered our next leg, a 95-mile dirt track through Bridger-Teton National Forest, was only graded for the first 40. Undeterred (somewhat), we proceeded anyway and soon found an idyllic spot to make camp by the river.

Scarlet Sockeye and the Stunning Beauty of Flaming Gorge

After a chilly, restless night, we rejoined the track running along Greys River, a ribbon of blue and lush green framed by rocky bluffs. As predicted, the track became steep and challenging, but the V85 TTs’ suspension capably soaked up the abuse, while their V-twins churned out torque with a lovely, distinctive rumble. We savored awesome view after awesome view as our fifth day’s route took us out of Wyoming’s forested mountains and into the painted desert canyons of Utah.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Steaming in the early chill, bucolic Madison River flows into Yellowstone National Park

Desolate plateau roads delivered us to a series of tight corners cut into the red rock, descending hundreds of feet into Flaming Gorge. At the bottom, we stopped at Sheep Creek, where the shallow, limpid water was teeming with sockeye salmon. A series of thrilling sweepers and twisties climbed out of the gorge, providing a spectacular view of the sheer, banded cliffs of crimson and terracotta strata and the reservoir below. The plateau finally ended with a dramatic zig-zagging 3,000-foot descent to the town of Vernal, Utah. We used every electrical socket in the room to charge the crap out of everything — cameras, phones, drone — making the most of our last night in a hotel.

Ridge Riding on Top of the World and A Steer Standoff

After a dash across the vast Uinta Basin, we descended into Scofield (pop. 23), home to Snack & Pack, a quirky gas station where customers broil their own burgers. With us and the Guzzis refueled, we climbed into the mighty Manti-La Sal Mountains and onto Skyline Drive Scenic Backway, a rough unpaved road that follows a knife-edged ridge at over 10,000 feet, with sheer drops down both sides to the valleys below. I tried to focus on the riding, despite the arresting views at every turn. This was not a good place to screw up.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Skyline Drive can test the nerves, but at 10,000 feet the views are worth the effort

With one eye on the clock, we reluctantly turned off Skyline, riding down into the valley, where we found our route blocked by a herd of belligerent bovine. Stores are scarce in this remote part of Utah, and we were forced to ride 20 miles past our exit to buy supplies, starting the last leg as the sun began to set — a steep, 18-mile dirt track that provided plenty of butt-clenching moments in the dusk. We pitched our tents on patches of sand among boulders and stunted juniper. There was no moon, and when the last of the firewood burnt out, we could see the Milky Way painted across the night sky, with shades of purple, blue and red in an ocean of stars.

We Max Out the V85 TTs and Reluctantly Ride to Vegas

The morning sun blazed across the desert as we tore off down the rocky trail and into Cathedral Valley, where a group of distinctive striped mesas rise up from the plain like a village hewn from rock. Capitol Reef National Park is amazingly varied. Terracotta cliffs are the backdrop to white and yellow hoodoos, vivid green yuccas and gnarly juniper, as well as a formidable mix of sand-and-rubble tracks. Our pace had increased, and at times we asked more from the Guzzis than they were designed for, but what a ride! Inevitably, a deep sandy section proved too much of an ask, and I dumped my Adventure — scuza amore.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
The Milky Way, spanning the sky on a moonless night at our camp in Capitol Reef National Park’s Cathedral Valley

As we neared its end, the trail entered a dense line of trees and abruptly ended at the Fremont River. The fast running water was muddy, and Kit was the first to ford with little notion of depth and no idea what lay below. A breathtaking narrow road perched atop a meandering ridge separated by two yawning canyons delivered us to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Completely exhausted, we began looking for a campsite along Cottonwood Canyon Road. I found a ledge with a panoramic view across the valley. A series of sheer, striped ridges ran across the horizon, and towering above these, the giant mesa we had traversed all afternoon. We toasted our last night as the last of the sun’s rays set alight Escalante’s vivid strata. It had all gone so fast, and yet Seattle seemed like a lifetime ago. The view from my tent the following morning was worthy of its own trip.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Our last campsite, overlooking a majestic valley in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, was in itself worthy of riding 2,600 miles

On our final day, we thundered down a deserted, undulating track running along the floor of Cottonwood Canyon, a dust cloud in our wake and rocks pinging off the sump guards. With the road through Zion National Park closed, we had to take a southern loop through Arizona before starting the last, searing leg down to Las Vegas.

The Moto Guzzi V85 TT, È Tutto Terreno?

After riding hundreds of miles on dirt tracks, some seriously challenging, the V85 TT has convinced this skeptic that it will handle anything you can reasonably expect to throw at it. Overall build quality is excellent. Even with its handsomely sculpted 5.6-gallon tank full of gas, the V85’s center of gravity feels surprisingly low, and coupled with the Michelin Anakee Wild tires, inspired the kind of off-road confidence usually associated with lighter bikes. On the road, more midrange power would make fast overtaking maneuvers less of an exercise in physics, but otherwise, the V85 TT was a superb ride.

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
A new day in Cathedral Valley, and the most challenging terrain yet

Both Kit and I are over six feet tall, and I’d figured we’d be folded up like a couple of deckchairs, but with some huge miles undertaken, we appreciated the excellent ergonomics and supremely comfortable seat. In terms of range, comfort, durability and handling on- and off-road, the V85 TT is a credible contender at a competitive price, and the folks in Mandello del Lario deserve credit for also making it so very beautiful. We were reluctant to hand back the keys. Arrivederci bellissima! Thanks for the good times!

Two Buddies, Two Bikes, One Big Adventure
Thundering down the deserted Cottonwood Canyon Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The post Two Buddies Tour the Rocky Mountains first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Highway 61 Remastered: Riding Along Minnesota’s North Shore

Rider Minnesota North Shore Lake Superior
The North Shore of Minnesota may look all pretty. But don’t let it fool you. Billions of years of violence sculpted this land. (Photos by the author and Sahlee Grace Kotoski)

If you go when the snowflakes storm
When the rivers freeze and summer ends
Please see if she’s wearing a coat so warm
To keep her from the howlin’ winds

— Bob Dylan, “Girl from the North Country”

I had forgotten about that feeling of violence that rises up through the ancient volcanic rock of Minnesota’s North Shore, where Highway 61 carves a thin rivulet of asphalt against a dead mountain range that descends into deep, dangerous water.

Rider Minnesota North Shore REVER map

REVER Route — MN North Shore: Duluth to Gunflint Trail via Highway 61

The sun had yet to rise. The air was cold but there was no frost. Cars with bright lights and loud trucks with loads of lumber cut through the darkness on their way to the Canadian border. My mind wandered, from Bob Dylan’s youth to the geologic time scale to the warm, soft bed my wife and I had just left.

My wife was huddled, bundled tight, hiding from the wind in a wave-carved basalt pocket. Besides a flashlight and the burning ember of my Newport, it was completely dark. Slowly the sun rose, turning purple, red, orange, and finally yellow. The lake turned blue again, and behind the lodge, the forest that covered the mountain came alive with color. It had been over 10 years since I had looked clear to the horizon over Lake Superior.

“It’s hard to believe this place is real,” Sahlee said.

Rider Minnesota North Shore Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited
Regal riding on the Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited.

We were on the third day of a four-day motorcycle trip along Lake Superior to capture the peak autumnal colors before the heavy Minnesotan winter tightened its grip. And it was our first long ride together in many years. We started our journey at St. Paul Harley-Davidson, where we borrowed an Ultra Limited in Vivid Black — a beast of a machine in both weight and power, a 900-pound workhorse designed for regal riding. It turned heads, and with a 114ci Milwaukee-Eight V-twin, it chewed up miles without hesitation.

We had checked into the historic Cascade Lodge, located between Lutsen and Grand Marais — a ski resort and a bohemian art enclave, respectively — shortly before dark the night before, following a 100-mile brisk ride north from Duluth. The lodge was established in 1927 to serve affluent Duluthians and wealthy socialites. Profiting from fishing, forestry, mining, and trade along the Great Lakes, some had predicted that Duluth would rival Chicago. F. Scott Fitzgerald, a Minnesota native, would have fit in well there. Thom McAleer, who has run the Cascade Lodge with his wife since 2017, said business was good year-round, with plenty of motorcyclists in summer and snowmobilers in winter.

Rider Minnesota North Shore Cascade Lodge
The historic Cascade Lodge catered to the wealthy and elite during the early 1900s, now it welcomes motorcyclists and snowmobilers.

The geology of Lake Superior has always fascinated me. It is a history of violence that can still be felt today. Long before human barnacles — from the ghostly-white Scandinavians to the soiled French fur trappers on down to the spirits that guided the Ojibwe — clung to life on this rocky, inhospitable shore, billions of years of primeval and powerful forces created, shaped and sculpted what we see today: the world’s largest freshwater lake that has claimed thousands of mariners’ lives and at least 550 ships, including the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in 1975. 

As we rode into Grand Marais (French for “big swamp”), we followed advice we received the day prior from Andy Goldfine, founder of the legendary riding apparel company Aerostich, and scanned the sky, hoping to see a congregation of seagulls darting at a skiff loaded with fresh herring.

Rider Minnesota North Shore Andy Goldfine Aerostich
The wise and wonderful Andy Goldfine at the Aerostich factory in Duluth, where Roadcrafter suits are made.

“If you sneak behind the Angry Trout Cafe, you can find fishermen cutting up the day’s catch, and freeze packing them to be sent to a rabbi in Chicago to make them kosher,” Goldfine told us.

When we met Goldfine the day before at his factory in west Duluth, we were greeted by a short, thoughtful, balding, and bespectacled man. Andy and I commiserated over our time at the University of Duluth, albeit decades apart, him with his philosophy major and English minor, and me with the exact opposite. As our conversation moved from topic to topic, from technology and its effects on society (good and bad), to the absurdity of the global fashion industry as satirized in the movie “Zoolander,” to the history of Duluth’s post-WWII economy, to global trade and how America has become a consumerism-driven throw-away society and finally trends in motorcycling, it became clear that Goldfine was not just an inventor, but a sage.

Rider Minnesota North Shore Highway 61
The road along the North Shore has few curves, but the scenery is beautiful.

He started Aerostich in 1983, when Duluth was in an economic recession and on the verge of becoming another hollowed-out Rustbelt town. U.S. Steel closed its coke plant in 1979. A decade prior the Air Force shuttered the base that housed the 11th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, a secretive Cold War defense outpost that housed 2,500 to 3,500 servicemen tasked with aircrafts that would be deployed in the event of a Soviet invasion.

When I was living in Duluth 16 years ago, the west side of town was rundown and largely abandoned. Tourism, college kids with bar money, and gentrification have revived the area, with craftspeople, brewers, and restaurateurs operating in clean, modern industrial spaces like you’d find in Brooklyn. Goldfine observed all of the changes to this historic part of town. What hasn’t changed is his philosophy regarding Aerostich’s Roadcrafter suits, which have been an integral part of the riding community for decades.

Rider Minnesota North Shore Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited
With leaves past their fall peak, winter is coming.

“Our customers are everyday riders because Aerostich makes equipment. Just like a farmer’s overalls, a carpenter’s pants, a lawyer’s or banker’s suit, it is the equipment that these professions invest in, not fashion,” Goldfine said. “Our logic is that our products are sacrificial. [A Roadcrafter] keeps you safe from the elements, and say you crash going 60 and you are okay, it did its job.”

We toured Goldfine’s factory, met with his tailors, and checked out his waterproofing testing equipment and impact armor fabrication set-up. When we left, he wished us a happy marriage and I felt better knowing that guys like Andy Goldfine are so dedicated to their craft.

Rider Minnesota North Shore Lake Superior
Sunrise along the North Shore somewhere south of Grand Marais.

From Grand Marais, we rode north and then northwest, 15 or so miles up the beautiful Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway that, further north, terminates at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — a 150-mile stretch of hard-to-reach pristine lakes along the U.S./Canada border that skirts the Laurentian Divide, which separates water flow from either going down to the Gulf of Mexico or up to Hudson Bay. Starting in the 1600s, voyageurs would make a special stop here to collect flint from chert deposits for their rifles.

A loaded lumber truck with two blown-out wheels partially blocked our path up the Gunflint, so we turned around and returned to the lake, thundering down the road on the mighty Ultra Limited as a kaleidoscope of fall colors became a blur.

Rider Minnesota North Shore Split Rock Lighthouse
A 1905 storm that wrecked 30 ships prompted the construction of Split Rock Lighthouse. (Photo by John Steitz)

“The Lake Superior Basin … sits dead center over an ancient rift [that] was active 1.1 billion years ago when Minnesota was really the center of the North American continent,” wrote geologist Ron Morton, in his 2011 book A Road Guide: The North Shore of Lake Superior on Highway 61. “Hot molten magma rose upward from deep within the earth, and as it approached the surface, it caused the crust to arch or bow upward, and then split like an overcooked sausage,” he added. A heavy, miles-deep pancake of basalt lava spread across the region, with larger eruptions piling pyroclastic rocks around the edges of what today is the rugged Lake Superior shoreline. When the volcanic activity stopped, the weight of the lava started to sink the earth.

Rider Minnesota North Shore
Morning coffee at a rustic family cabin.

But long before that, a massive mountain range — larger than the Alps or Rockies today — had formed. As the mountain range eroded over eons, the sinking basin filled with sediment, creating a swampy plain. Then came what’s known as the Last Glacial Period, starting a mere 115,000 years ago. Thick sheets of ice covered the land and pushed southward, violently scooping out the basin like excavators. The earth warmed, the glaciers melted and a lake was formed — the world’s largest in terms of area, third-largest in terms of volume. Geologic instability causes the south and southwestern sides of Lake Superior to rise a few centimeters each year, raising the waterline on the Canadian side.

From Grand Marais, we drove up to the Lutsen Mountains Ski and Summer Resort, where we paid $24 each to take the gondola up to the summit for impressive and expansive views of the landscape. From a western outlook hundreds of feet above the valley floor, the trees were dead brown and red, a couple of days past peak, while to the east, yellows, oranges, and reds mingled with the green, winter-hardened conifers.

Rider Minnesota North Shore Palisade Head
The rhyolitic red rock of Palisade Head and the Tettegouche area is the legacy of ancient lava flows over 1.1 billion years ago.

Our final sightseeing stop was Tettegouche State Park to see Palisade Head, a large rock formation with staggering 300-foot sheer cliffs that end in a jumble of jagged rocks along the shore. I remember coming here when I was in college. The wind would whip so hard it felt as if it would blow you right off the cliff edge, creating a mix of fear and excitement. Palisade Head and I have both aged. It looks and feels the same. Can’t say the same about myself.

Biting cold wind meant that Old Man Winter would arrive soon. Time to get back down to St. Paul to return the Harley and hunker down.

The post Highway 61 Remastered: Riding Along Minnesota’s North Shore first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 | First Ride Review

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 is an all-new supersport based on the MT-07 platform. (Photos by Drew Ruiz)

What’s a rider to do if they want a supersport bike, but they don’t have the funds for a true race replica like the Yamaha YZF-R6 ($12,199) or YZF-R1 ($17,399)? Some will buy used, but doing so confidently can be a challenge, and financing may not be an option if buying from a private seller.

Yamaha’s solution is to take a proven platform — in this case, the MT-07 naked bike — and adapt it to supersport duty. Then price it within reach at $8,999.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
New bodywork, chassis updates, and other changes make 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 ready for track duty or sport riding.

Since the new middleweight supersport will be part of the R-series family and slot between the YZF-R3 and YZF-R1 (there’s no YZF-R6 for 2021, and the 2022 model has yet to be announced), it’s only natural to call the new bike YZF-R7. Those with a long memory may recall the 1999 YZF-R7 (aka OW-02), a 500-unit race homologation special built to compete in World Superbike. That sort of unobtainium machine is exactly what Yamaha wanted to avoid with the MT-07-based R7.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
Behind the full fairing is the tried-and-true 689cc CPS parallel-twin, a versatile engine that powers several Yamaha models.

To create the YZF-R7, Yamaha made key changes to the MT-07 platform, such as new bodywork and revisions to the chassis. The 689cc CP2 parallel-twin, which has a crossplane-style 270-degree crankshaft and an uneven firing order, is a versatile motor also found in Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 adventure bike and MT-07 flat-track racer. It has usable power but not so much that it will overwhelm new or less experienced riders. For the R7, Yamaha fitted an assist-and-slipper assist clutch and a optional quick shifter, and a gearing change adds a little more acceleration and thrill into the mix.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 has a fully adjustable KYB fork, radial-mount 4-piston Advics front calipers with a Brembo master cylinder, and 17-inch cast aluminum wheels shod with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires (for the track test Yamaha ran Bridgestone Battlax Racing R11 tires).

Chassis-wise the R7 features a steeper rake (23.7 degrees vs. 24.8), slightly less trail and a shorter wheelbase (54.9 inches vs. 55.1) than the MT-07. A revised radiator improves cooling and accommodates a new fully adjustable 41mm inverted KYB fork with spring rates similar to those on the R6. The R7 also uses a smaller, lighter (by 2.4 pounds) battery like the R6. Wider triple clamps accommodate four-piston brake calipers, and offset is now 37mm compared to 40mm on the MT-07. At the rear, revised shock linkage raises rear ride height, and a new KYB shock offers adjustable spring preload and rebound damping. A rigid-mount aluminum center brace is bolted to the steel frame at the swingarm pivot for increased torsional rigidity.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
A narrow chassis and a compact engine help keep the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 very narrow.

With a seat that’s higher than the MT-07’s (32.9 inches vs. 31.7), clip-on handlebars, and a rider triangle inspired by the R6, the riding position is aggressive without being extreme. Compared to the MT-07, changes to the chassis and ergonomics enhance the handling capabilities of the R7, and overall it’s a comfortable, nimble motorcycle. Fresh bodywork wrapped around a compact engine and chassis make the bike every narrow and aerodynamic, like a cross between the R6 and R1, and it very much looks the part.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
New bodywork includes all-LED lighting. Mirrors, turn signals, and license plate bracket were removed for the track test.

It’s always fun to go to a track you’ve never seen before, and it’s even better on a bike you never ridden before. Yamaha hosted the R7 launch at Atlanta Motorsports Park, a tight, hilly track with a few fast sections thrown in to make things interesting. We needed several laps to familiarize ourselves with the layout, especially with the blind corners and elevation changes. The R7’s easygoing nature was a boon for navigating the unfamiliar territory — never threatening or overwhelming, which is the point. Accessible for any level of rider.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
The stiffened frame, upgraded suspension, and strong brakes allowed me to dive the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 into corners with confidence.

As I rounded the track on my first few outings, I was impressed with how well the R7 worked. The riding position felt a bit high at first, but within a few laps it felt spot-on. I was able to tuck in behind the windscreen and still crawl around the cockpit easily. The R6-like front-end was excellent when entering the corners, and the chassis held steady with only a slight pitching out of the rear wheel on entry. I bottomed out a few times hitting some serious bumps, but the R7’s KTB fork took the beating in stride. That split-second thought of “Oh no!” was replaced with a “Wow, this thing is very forgiving.” Fast or slow it felt solid with exceptional feel, and the slipper clutch proved invaluable when down shifting at speed.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 has an aggressive riding position that isn’t too extreme.

The new Brembo radial front master cylinder combined with Advics radial-mount 4-piston calipers and 298mm rotors allowed for some serious braking force. Out back, a Brembo master cylinder controls a Nissin caliper and a 245mm rotor. Too bad the ABS cannot be turned off. Even though ABS interference was minimal, under extreme braking I encountered more of a freewheeling sensation than I’d prefer. When I did overcook a corner, the user-friendly nature of the R7 allowed me to reel it back in.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 proved to be very resilient and user-friendly on the track. Only at race pace did it start to reveal limitations.

In terms of steering, I thought the narrow position of the clip-ons might be a issue with leverage, but I was wrong. The R7 turns on dime and was effortless to maneuver in slow and fast sections of the track. Every time I pushed, it reacted like a proper sportbike. Transitioning back and forth at speed was relatively easy as the narrow chassis responds very well to input with minimal force. There are limitations, however. Even with the beefed-up chassis, the R7 felt challenged at race pace. The frame started to twist up when leaned over hard on the gas through long corners, resulting in a slight decrease in stability. The front-end started to chatter a bit off throttle mid-corner as the pace increased.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
Atlanta Motorsports Park was a great track for giving the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 a proper shakedown.

Still, none of this hampered the fun and the R7 always felt predictable. The 689cc CP2 twin was a blast on the track. I wrung its neck all day and never felt worn out. Throttle response was smooth and efficient, so I never had to worry about upsetting the chassis. The initial hit down low is good with some usable torque, but it flattens out at the upper end of the rev range. Just grab a gear via the quickshifter and you’ll have plenty more to play with.

A new LCD high-contrast instrument panel provides all the pertinent info, and the bar-graph tachometer and gear indicator, which I watch most, are easy to read. What I loved about the dash and switchgear was the lack of details and buttons for electronic riding aids. No need to fuss about which button does what. Just get on with it, and that’s exactly what we did all day long.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 offers a lot of performance for a reasonable price.

The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 is a supersport bike for the masses. More performance than an R3, but more accessible than an R1 on all fronts. The R7 could be the perfect bike for someone who wants to sharpen their skills on back roads or try their hand at club racing. Less money spent on the bike means more money available for tires — and a sticky set will last a lot longer! Yamaha has done a fine job producing a motorcycle that’s the perfect blend of accessibility and capability.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 supersport sportbike review
Your choice: Team Yamaha Blue or Performance Black.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 Specs

Base Price: $8,999
Price as Tested: $9,199 (quickshifter)
Website: yamahamotorsports.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 689cc
Bore x Stroke: 80.0 x 68.6mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist-and-slipper wet clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 54.9 in.
Rake/Trail: 23.4 degrees/3.5 in.
Seat Height: 32.9 in.
Wet Weight: 414 lbs. (claimed)
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gals.

The post 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 | First Ride Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 | First Look Review

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 review action track
2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 in Team Yamaha Blue

When Yamaha launched the MT-07 for 2015, it was hoping to build on the success of its MT-09, a rowdy sport standard powered by an 847cc in-line triple with a crossplane crankshaft that was introduced the previous year.

The smaller, more affordable MT-07 had an all-new liquid-cooled, 689cc parallel-twin with a crossplane-style 270-degree crankshaft and an uneven firing order, giving it a lively feel and good low-end torque. That 689cc CP2 engine proved to be a versatile platform that not only powers flat-track race bikes but also Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 adventure bike.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 review blue

Now it will power a new fully-faired sportbike, the 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7. Although the R7 takes its name from the 1999 YZF-R7 (aka OW-02), a 500-unit race homologation special built to compete in World Superbike and other series, the new R7 is built for mass consumption. Its MSRP is $8,999.

With no YZF-R6 in Yamaha’s lineup for 2021 and its fate for 2022 uncertain, the new R7 will fit into Yamaha’s supersport R-Series between the entry-level YZF-R3 and the top-of-the-line YZF-R1 and R1M.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 review action track

Yamaha’s CP2 engine is a compact, versatile powerplant. Forged aluminum pistons with direct-plated cylinders integrated with the crankcase are light, strong and able to withstand high temperatures and high rpm. An optimized secondary gear ratio is said to provide an exhilarating ride and a sporty feel, and a 6-speed transmission is mated to an assist-and-slipper clutch.

The new YZF-R7 has an all-new chassis, with a narrow, high-strength steel frame that has aluminum center braces near the swingarm pivot for added torsional rigidity. Compared to the MT-07, the R7 has a shorter wheelbase (54.9 inches vs. 55.1) and less rake (23.4 degrees vs. 24.5; trail is the same at 3.7 inches), which should give it even sharper handling. Claimed wet weight, however, is slightly heavier at 414 pounds vs. 406 on the MT-07, even though the R7 has less fuel capacity (3.4 gals. vs. 3.7).

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 review performance black
2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 in Performance Black

Up front, the YZF-R7 has a fully adjustable KYB 41mm USD fork that’s mounted to the steering tube via a forged aluminum lower triple clamp and a gravity-cast aluminum upper triple clamp. Out back, a linked-type Monocross shock is adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping. The shock is mounted horizontally, bolted directly to the crankcase to reduce weight and keep mass centralized. Suspension travel is 5.1 inches front and rear.

Dual radial-mount 4-piston front brake calipers squeeze 298mm discs, and a Brembo radial master cylinder should provide good feel at the lever. A single rear caliper squeezes a 245mm rotor. The YZF-R7 has 17-inch cast wheels shod with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires (120/70-ZR17 front, 180/55-ZR17 rear).

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 review team yamaha blue

To enhance its sporty feel, the YZF-R7 has a racing-inspired cockpit that Yamaha says has a comfortable and confidence-inspiring riding position. Seat material and foam from the YZF-R1 and new low-profile fuel tank covers with deep knee pockets are designed to provide freedom of movement as well as a planted feel when leaned over or braking. Clip-on handlebars allow for an aggressive riding position, especially when tucked in behind the windscreen.

An LCD instrument panel has a high-contrast negative display, and new handlebar switches make it easy to scroll through the meter’s various functions. The R7 features Yamaha’s R-Series M-shaped intake duct and twin-eye front design, and LED lighting is used all around.

The 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 will be available in Team Yamaha Blue and Performance Black for $8,999. It will be in dealerships in June.

We’re getting a first ride on the new R7 soon, so stay tuned for our review.

2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 Specs
Base Price: $8,999
Website: yamahamotorsports.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 80.0 x 68.6mm
Displacement: 689cc
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated assist-and-slipper wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 54.9 in.
Rake/Trail: 23.4 degrees/3.5 in.
Seat Height: 31.7 in.
Wet Weight: 414 lbs. (claimed)
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gals.

The post 2022 Yamaha YZF-R7 | First Look Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport | Video Review

2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport video review
The 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is an affordable, well-round, street-focused adventure bike with a price that starts at $11,995. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

We test the 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport, a street-focused adventure bike with an MSRP of $11,995. It’s powered by the same liquid-cooled 888cc in-line triple as the Tiger 900 models, but it has been detuned to 82 horsepower at 8,400 rpm and 58 lb-ft of torque at 6,700 rpm at the rear wheel, as measured on Jett Tuning‘s dyno, which is about 10 horsepower lower.

To keep the price down, Triumph also reduced the number of ride modes to two (Road and Rain) and limited suspension adjustability to rear preload. But this is no bargain-bin special. It has Marzocchi suspension front and rear, and it has Brembo brakes, with Stylema front calipers and a radial front master cylinder. ABS is standard but not switchable, and traction control is also standard but is switchable.

Overall we found the 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport to be a solid, all-around street bike that delivers good features and a great riding experience for the money. Check out our video review:

The post 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport | Video Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport | Video Review

2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport video review
The 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport is an affordable, well-round, street-focused adventure bike with a price that starts at $11,995. (Photo by Kevin Wing)

We test the 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport, a street-focused adventure bike with an MSRP of $11,995. It’s powered by the same liquid-cooled 888cc in-line triple as the Tiger 900 models, but it has been detuned to 82 horsepower at 8,400 rpm and 58 lb-ft of torque at 6,700 rpm at the rear wheel, as measured on Jett Tuning‘s dyno, which is about 10 horsepower lower.

To keep the price down, Triumph also reduced the number of ride modes to two (Road and Rain) and limited suspension adjustability to rear preload. But this is no bargain-bin special. It has Marzocchi suspension front and rear, and it has Brembo brakes, with Stylema front calipers and a radial front master cylinder. ABS is standard but not switchable, and traction control is also standard but is switchable.

Overall we found the 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport to be a solid, all-around street bike that delivers good features and a great riding experience for the money. Check out our video review:

The post 2021 Triumph Tiger 850 Sport | Video Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com