Tag Archives: Features

Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds

Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds
An inside look at the latest builds from Workhorse Speed Shop.

Brice Hennebert, owner of Workhorse Speed Shop, in Belgium, has been busy during lockdown. After creating Appaloosa V1.0 in 2019 for the Sultans of Sprint then re-working the Indian Scout build into Appaloosa V2.0 for the Baikal Mile Ice Festival, Brice has focussed his attention on building two special dream bikes based on the Indian FTR 1200

Rider Magazine: Indian FTR 1200 S | First Ride Review

The first build, Black Swan, is a 90’s sports bike concept utilizing the latest parts and materials to make it extremely sporty. The build extensively uses carbon fibre to minimize weight, Ohlins suspension, Beringer brakes, and modern additions such as a quickshifter. The second build, FTR AMA, is based on the 80s era AMA SBK race bikes and Rally cars, inspiring an angular design and will be finished in the classic Martini Racing livery

Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds
Adjustable Öhlins suspension and Beringer brakes are some of the premium parts making up the builds.

Black Swan and FTR AMA Build – Q&A with Brice Hennebert 

We caught up with Brice to get an insight into his latest projects, both of which are shaping up to be remarkably interesting, but quite different builds – just as we have come to expect from Workhorse. 

It’s been a long time since you came back from Russia after taking Appaloosa V2.0 to the Baikal Mile Ice Speed Festival – that must feel like a dream now, are the memories still strong? 

Yes, the memories are really strong. With the lockdown, it was some time after coming back from Russia that I saw many of my friends. Every time I reconnect with a friend they always ask about the trip. So, I get to relive the memories regularly and so they are still strongly alive.  

And when Appaloosa finally got back to Belgium after the Russian borders reopened, unpacking the bike and reassembling it meant I got to relive the memories all over again. 

Obviously, lockdown has changed the way we all work, but you have still been busy with brand-new builds based on the FTR. What are the concepts behind each project?  

The concept for the first build, Black Swan, came a few years ago when I was racing at Wheels & Waves against the Miracle Mike Scout built by The Young Guns. During that time, I had the vision to build a sports bike for road use. But, really sporty, built like a GP bike. It’s deeply inspired by 90’s sports bikes, all made from carbon fibre. That’s what happens when I have total freedom from the commissioners of a project. And I’m even thinking about doing a small series of this bike for sale. It’s pretty unique! 

Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds
Black Swan Build: building out the clay model.

The second FTR project is based on the 80s era AMA SBK race bikes and Rally cars. Black Swan and the FTR AMA project are for two brothers. The brother that commissioned Black Swan asked me to design a second build for his brother. Something colourful but sharp like a war tank. The only restriction was that it should have a Martini Racing livery. 

After a little research and brainstorming, the main influence became the Lancia Delta HF. I’ve mixed this with a bit of the early Bol d’Or race bikes and some muscle bike flavour keeping an upright riding position, close to the original FTR which works so well.  

With the Appaloosa v1.0 and v2.0 builds, you had some great partners providing advice, components, fabrication, and tuning skills. Who has stepped up for these FTR builds? 

All of them and even more. I went to the Akrapovič factory a few days after the Baikal Mile to work on the Black Swan exhaust. I crossed the border to go home for a few hours and they decided to close the border. That was tight. 

Öhlins have shipped me a full set of custom components for Black Swan, quite impressive I have to say. Beringer Brakes is also in the game on both bikes with their new 4+ system. Super light, super nice. 

I’m also working with Vinco Racing in Holland, Tim is taking care of all the CNC parts around both bikes. And there’s many of them. 

My buddy Robert Colyns from 13.8 Composite is taking care of the carbon fibre fabrication.  

On Black Swan, we will be fitting Rotobox carbon fibre wheels, they really are pieces of art! Liteblox Germany have made a bespoke carbon fibre battery for the bike, Cerakote Nl did all the black ceramic treatment. Jeroen from Silver Machine the seat works. Christophe from Forame design did all the 3D modelling from the Clay scan. 

Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds
Black Swan Build: Clay model ready for CAD scan.

The FTR AMA wheel set is a total eye catcher. I collaborated with Fabio from JoNich Wheels in Italy. The design is based on his Rush wheels but without carbon flanges. They are machined from billet aluminium. And the design made me think about the turbo fans wheels used on the racing Lancia, so that was a perfect choice. They are completed by a Dunlop GP tyre set with this mad 200 section rear tyre. 

So, as you can see, I’m not alone on this bike.    

We can’t reveal too much at this stage, but from the pictures from the builds so far, designing the bodywork seems to be a fairly intensive process. Can you walk us through the steps, from visualisation and sketches through to a finished piece of the bodywork?  

Yes, it’s quite a long journey, here’s roughly the stages for Black Swan: 

First, preliminary sketches and a compilation of reference pictures for the details. At this stage I’m drawing the main lines of the bike, the mood. 

Then I sent everything to Benny at Axesent in Japan to make proper renders in several versions, with realistic lighting and some livery ideas.  

When I was happy at this point, I started 3D modelling. I modelled the bike at full scale in clay directly on the FTR, but only on one side of the bike. This step took about 6 weeks, between the clay structure and perfecting the final shape.   

Then I scanned the bike in 3D to start the CAD modelling stage. The scan was used as a starting point to be sure of the proportions, but there was always freedom for new ideas. In the meantime, I worked on the symmetry, details, articulated parts, and assembly systems between the different elements. All told, another 2 months of work. 

The next step went to 13.8 Composites. Firstly, they 3D printed all the bodywork from the CAD models. These prints were used as a master for moulding and creating the die that the carbon fibre was laid into. 

Once done, adjustments were made between all the parts to be sure that it all fit together and looked perfect.  

With the FTR AMA build, rather than start with the clay, here I used direct CAD design based on a 3D scan of the FTR chassis. Then all the body parts were 3D printed and reinforced with carbon fibre. 

Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds
FTR AMA Build: Modified tail to accommodate twin shocks.

Is this a process that you have used before? You seem really keen, on every project, to try something new and expand your skill set.  

This was something totally new to me, at least at this scale. I have done clay shaping before, but not on something so complex. 

Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds
FTR AMA Build: “The wheel set is a total eye catcher.”
Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds

The bodywork is bound to be the main focal point when people first see the bikes, but what else can you reveal about the builds at this stage? 

The body of Black Swan is just 1.8 kg for the entire bike. I’ve also decided to fit a few accessories such as a quick shifter and Power Commander. The idea is to initially test the bike with the standard performance in the racing configuration (position, bodywork etc.) 123 hp is enough for road use today in Europe. And if the owner of the bike needs more power then we will go into the engine. 

On the FTR AMA, there are two aluminum fuel cells to reach a total capacity of 3.7 gallons with one of the tanks under the seat. Plus, the intake has been redesigned and 3D printed to work with DNA performance air filters. On the chassis side, the tail section has been modified to fit a twin shocks system powered by Öhlins. 

Plans are progressing on when and how the bikes will be revealed, but they will certainly make an impact. 

Yes, with the events calendar being difficult to predict over the last few months, we’ve had to come up with several plans. I really can’t wait to see the response to these two bikes. 

Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds
FTR AMA Build: Custom Exhaust

The post Workhorse Speed Shop to Reveal Two New Custom Indian FTR Builds first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Valerie Thompson: Ep. 17 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Episode 17 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast Valerie Thompson

Our guest for Episode 17 of the Rider Magazine Insider podcast is Valerie Thompson, a professional drag racer and land-speed racer who holds the title of “World’s Fastest Female Motorcycle Racer.” She holds eight land-speed records and is a member of the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame, seven 200 MPH clubs and one 300 MPH club. In 2018, she piloted the BUB 7 Streamliner to a record speed of 328.467 mph and is the only female rider featured on the “World’s Top 10 Fastest Motorcycle Riders” list. At the 2021 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials in August she will attempt to break the motorcycle land speed record of 376.363 mph. Valerie’s quest to become the world’s fastest motorcycle racer is the subject of the upcoming film documentary, “Rockets and Titans.” Learn more about Thompson at ValerieThompsonRacing.com.

You can listen to Episode 17 on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud, or via the Rider Magazine Insider webpage. Please subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and tell your friends!

Check out previous episodes:

The post Valerie Thompson: Ep. 17 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Riding Wisconsin’s Waumandee Valley River Roads

Where Motorcyclists Roam
Riding Highway 88, aka Black Lightning. Photos by Kathleen Currie

Buffalo County, Wisconsin, is a hidden gem for motorcyclists. Located in the northwest part of the state, its southern border is the Mississippi River, which is the dividing line between Wisconsin and Minnesota. This is rural farm country, and the entire county has only one traffic light.

Buffalo County boasts dozens of fantastic motorcycling roads that twist along river banks, climb steep bluffs, dive into coulees and steep ravines, and cling to the edges of sandstone ridges. Numerous creeks and small rivers flow through the Waumandee Valley on their way to join the Mississippi, and they influence the shape and slope of these roads.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
Buffalo County appears to have the most curvy road signs in Wisconsin.

The best starting point is the town of Mondovi, located in the northeastern corner of Buffalo County. A quick fuel and food stop is recommended, as gasoline stations, restaurants, and other amenities are sparse as you head south. After a bite at McT’s Diner we follow County Roads (CR) H and ZZ south to a hook up with State Highway 88 at the Buffalo River.

Known as “Black Lightning,” Highway 88 has approximately 130 corners and curves in 40 miles as it runs from Gilmanton to the Mississippi River, making it one of Wisconsin’s highest-rated biker roads. It gives riders — and their brakes — a real workout as they ride the ridges and slash through a sandstone cut north of Praag.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
This tour route is available on the REVER app in the Rider Magazine community.

Link to Waumandee Valley River Roads tour on REVER

At CR U, we head east until we reach CR C at a crossroads just north of the village of Montana. CR C dishes up a variety of steep climbs and hairpin curves as we work our way south along Swinns Valley Creek, on our way to State Highway 95 just west of Arcadia. A short jog going west on 95 takes us to CR E, which heads northeast through Pansy Pass and Glencoe to Waumandee. CR E east of Waumandee has such steep hills that many homeowners have large angled mirrors mounted on posts at the foot of their driveways to help provide a view of any hidden oncoming traffic.

The village of Waumandee — Chippewa for “clear and sparkling water” — is worth a stop. It dates back to the 1850s, and Waumandee House, which was built in 1879, is still an active inn and restaurant. Every September the village hosts the Waumandee Hillclimb, a unique event for sports car enthusiasts. A two-mile stretch of Blank Hill Road west of Highway 88 is closed for a day of timed runs up an 18-turn hillclimb road course.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
J & J BBQ in downtown Nelson is a favorite biker stop.

Crossing Highway 88 we take a shot at Blank Hill Road, which is as challenging as advertised. Take care along the section of road that clings to the side of a cliff and has no guardrail. At CR N, we head north along Alma Ridge, which has some white-knuckle descents on its way to the Buffalo River at State Highway 37. A short jog up Highway 37 takes us to Highway KK on the west side of the Buffalo River.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
The lunch crowd heading down Great River Road (Highway 35) to Nelson.

Want a taste of riding the Isle of Man TT? Much like the famed road circuit, the CR KK south of Modena has climbs and descents chiseled into the sides of ridges with few guardrails, testing our binders and our nerves as we plunge down to CR D.

CR D winds west through rolling farm country to its junction with State Highway 35, which is known as the Great River Road and hugs the northern shore of the Mississippi. Overlooking the river, the town of Nelson has several recommended dining stops. On the day of our visit, J & J Barbeque and Nelson Creamery are overwhelmed with two-wheeled customers. We find an empty table at Beth’s Twin Bluff Café, and enjoy the best lemon pie we’ve ever tasted.

Where Motorcyclists Roam
Picturesque farms are everywhere in Buffalo County.

We headed north on State Highway 25 along the eastern edge of the Tiffany Bottoms Natural Area. At the village of Misha Mokwa, we turn east onto CR KK and complete the circle at the junction with CR D. Twists and turns command our full attention on our way to the village of Modena. Visit the general store in Modena to see two large motorcycle sculptures made from scrap metal, and pick up some cheese curds for a snack. We continue east on D until it dead-ends at Highway 37, then we follow the Buffalo River north and return to Mondovi.

The roads on this 110-mile loop are challenging, but most of the pavement is in good condition (be mindful of gravel in some corners). Part of what makes Buffalo County a great riding destination is the traffic — except for Highway 35, there is none! On a full day of weekend riding we encountered two tractors, two pickups, seven motorcycles, and one corn picker, which was blocking a narrow farm road. The only thing missing for a perfect riding weekend is a motorcycle class at the Waumandee Hillclimb so we can clock our time going up Blank Hill Road!

Where Motorcyclists Roam
Snaking roads and incredible scenery in the Waumandee Valley.

The post Riding Wisconsin’s Waumandee Valley River Roads 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

The Why Behind Arai Helmets

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Akihito Arai pictured at the Arai factory in Japan.

In 1914, a doctor practicing near the Brooklands racetrack in England first correlated the relationship between motorcycle accidents and serious head injuries. Dr. Eric Gardner went on to invent the first purpose-built motorcycle helmet. It wasn’t until two decades later, when a head injury resulting from a motorcycle accident took the life of Thomas Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, that the first serious studies were conducted into the efficacy of motorcycle helmets in reducing the severity of head injuries. Hugh Cairns, Lawrence’s attending doctor and a leading neurosurgeon, used his findings and influence to ensure that helmets would become obligatory equipment for British Army Signal Corps riders going forward.

Early helmets were mostly constructed from cork, leather, and sometimes wood, and remained so until post-war developments in synthetic materials lead innovators such as Hirotake Arai to develop an entirely new design. Arai, a keen motorcyclist, had retooled his family hat business to produce safety helmets for construction workers. Applying the same manufacturing techniques, he began making and selling the first Japanese motorcycle helmets in 1952. They were made from a fiberglass resin outer shell lined initially with cork, and later, expanded polystyrene (EPS).

Seven decades on, motorcycle helmets, along with a multitude of international standards, have evolved exponentially, as has our understanding of science. Nonetheless, the infinite number of variables existing in a real-world crash ensure that even the most sophisticated models used to gauge a helmet’s ability to absorb an impact will remain controversial. While tests aimed at appraising shell penetration, peripheral vision, and the strength of chin straps lend themselves more readily to laboratory observation, governing bodies are forced to compromise in the face of producing practical, repeatable tests that accurately simulate impact absorption.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
An Arai factory engineer utilizing an ‘anvil test’ rig on a helmet shell.

An effective helmet design aims to minimize the energy reaching the wearer in a crash, and since much of the testing involves dropping helmets from a given height onto an anvil, passing the resulting standards can be as simple as thickening the EPS layer in all the right places. Arai argues that the resulting helmet would no longer possess the overall strength and durability afforded by a sphere and ignores the role a helmet plays in redirecting and absorbing energy. In the same way a stone can be made to skim across a pond, a round, smooth helmet will glance off a surface, redirecting energy away from the wearer.

Arai’s design philosophy first accepts that practical limitations on a helmet’s size and weight restrict the volume of protective EPS foam it can contain. Inevitably, helmets can’t prevent all head injuries. But, with the understanding that safeguarding a rider’s head goes far beyond meeting the demands of governing bodies, Arai applies the “glancing off” philosophy to design helmets that reduce the effect of impacts on riders’ heads. Given that most impacts are likely to occur at an oblique angle because motorcyclists are moving at speed, Arai’s design aims to maximize the ability of a helmet to redirect energy by glancing off an object. The design is a function of shape, shell strength, and deformation characteristics that absorb energy along with EPS.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets

Arai collects crashed helmets for analysis and data collection, and uses the information to continually refine their helmet design.

Arai has developed and refined its approach through decades of evaluation and experimentation. Its helmets are round and smooth, and any protruding vents or airfoils are designed to detach on impact. The shell itself must be strong and flexible, but it must not deform too quickly or it will dig in rather than glance off. Arai uses multiple laminated layers combining glass and composite fiber to produce a very strong but lightweight material, and areas of potential weakness at the helmet’s edge and eyeport are reinforced with an additional belt of “super fiber.” Arai says its shells can withstand much higher abrasion than what is mandated by standards tests, and in doing so, can retain its energy absorption properties for a second or third impact.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Every Arai helmet is still made and inspected by hand at the family-owned factory in Japan

While glancing off can redirect energy from the impact, a high-velocity crash may also require a helmet to absorb and distribute impact energy. Arai’s proprietary one-piece, multi-density EPS liner is made up of different sections of varying densities corresponding to the adjacent shell surface. This helps maintain the helmet’s spherical form and enhances its ability to glance off. In the case of a crash involving a slide along the ground and into an object, such as a curb or barrier, Arai’s helmets are designed to deflect the initial impacts with the ground with minimal shell deformation, saving its absorption properties for the rapid deceleration caused by impacting the object.

While glancing off can redirect energy from the impact, a high-velocity crash may also require a helmet to absorb and distribute impact energy. Arai’s proprietary one-piece, multi-density EPS liner is made up of different sections of varying densities corresponding to the adjacent shell surface. This helps maintain the helmet’s spherical form and enhances its ability to glance off. In the case of a crash involving a slide along the ground and into an object, such as a curb or barrier, Arai’s helmets are designed to deflect the initial impacts with the ground with minimal shell deformation, saving its absorption properties for the rapid deceleration caused by impacting the object.

The Why Behind Arai Helmets
Each helmet shell undergoes a series of quality control checks before continuing through the production process.

Many other helmet manufacturers and philosophies exist, and riders must make their own conclusions in the knowledge that certification requirements mandated by bodies such as the DOT and ECE only guarantee a minimum standard. Every Arai helmet is still made and inspected by hand at the family-owned factory in Japan; the only automated process is the laser cutting of the eyeports. Over its history Arai has built an enviable reputation for quality and attention to detail. As the saying goes, it is expensive for a reason.

For more information on Arai helmets, visit araiamericas.com.

The post The Why Behind Arai Helmets first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Wayne Rainey: Ep. 16 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast

Rider Magazine Insider Podcast Episode 16 Wayne Rainey MotoAmerica

Our guest for Episode 16 of the Rider Magazine Insider Podcast is Wayne Rainey, president of MotoAmerica and a motorcycle racing legend. Rainey is a 2-time AMA Superbike champion (1983, 1987) and 3-time Grand Prix World Champion (1990-1992) in the premier 500cc class. In 1999 he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, and in 2000 FIM named Rainey a Grand Prix Legend. Rainey is the president of MotoAmerica, which has managed and promoted the AMA Superbike series since 2015. We discuss Rainey’s racing career, MotoAmerica’s efforts to grow U.S. motorcycle racing, and MotoAmerica’s different classes, including Honos Superbike and Mission King of the Baggers. The GEICO MotoAmerica Superbike Speedfest will be July 9-11 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. Tickets are available online, and racing coverage can be streamed on MotoAmerica Live+ or watched on Fox Sports FS2 and MAVTV. Check out the MotoAmerica website for details.

You can listen to Episode 16 on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud, or via the Rider Magazine Insider webpage. Please subscribe, leave us a 5-star rating, and tell your friends!

Check out previous episodes:

The post Wayne Rainey: Ep. 16 Rider Magazine Insider Podcast first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Back to California Superbike School

The School of Speed
Back to school on a BMW S 1000 RR. (Photos by Etechphoto.com)

A couple of friends – sportbike riders and track-day regulars – recently invited me on their Sunday morning canyon ride. I showed up on our Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RS test bike. It was early, the road was empty, and we tore away. I say “we,” but I lost sight of them after the first mile and soon resigned myself to not keeping up, doing no justice to the Triumph. 

Decades of riding experience have given me the required confidence in physics and tires to throw a motorcycle into a turn, but that confidence faded once our speed picked up. If I was going to truly test bikes like the Speed Triple, I needed to hone my skills. My friends, it turned out, were both graduates of California Superbike School, and over a weekend in June I signed up for two days of training (Levels I and II) at Streets of Willow Springs, a 1.6-mile track in Rosamond, California, about an hour north of Los Angeles.

The School of Speed
California Superbike School has a fleet of 40 high-tech BMW S 1000 RR sportbikes.

In the 1970s, Keith Code enjoyed some success club racing for the “Pops” Yoshimura team, but he also discovered he had an aptitude for analyzing and communicating the techniques required to carry speed through a corner. Under Code’s instruction, many a young racer shaved seconds off their lap times, demonstrating that speed wasn’t just a matter of innate talent but teachable skills. In 1980, he established a school to offer his unique step-by-step advanced rider training to anyone with a motorcycle license. Four decades later, California Superbike School has become synonymous with sportbike training, with schools in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.

The School of Speed
One of several female riders who attended California Superbike School.

There is something childishly exciting about driving through the gates of a racetrack, especially true when it’s you destined to be on the track, which creates some apprehension. I haven’t so much as sat on a bike with clip-on bars since selling my Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R years ago. I drew some comfort from the fact that at least half of the 54 people joining me for instruction looked just as nervous as I was. The rest ambled around like they owned the place, posting up in the breakfast buffet and chatting with the staff. I soon found out these were returning students, here for Levels III and IV, and, it seemed, part of the family now. It was encouraging to see half a dozen women in attendance, including Kristina Teskera, a German ex-pat who had been riding for only eight months. 

Day-to-day management of CSS is now handled by Keith Code’s son, Dylan. But Keith was there, too, sauntering about and happy to share advice or an anecdote as the operation hummed along around him. Students were separated into manageable groups, alternating between the classroom lessons, on-track drills, debriefing sessions, and breaks.

The School of Speed
Dylan Code delivers a classroom lesson before every track session, enabling students to practice new techniques and build confidence.

After Dylan delivered our first lesson on throttle control, we filed out into the paddock. The Streets of Willow track, a black ribbon rising and falling with the hilly terrain, formed the backdrop to a line of black BMW S 1000 RR sportbikes gleaming in the morning sun. I suspect even the coolest among us had their hearts in their mouths as we headed to our designated machines.

Lined up in pit lane, I heard Trevor Pennington, the course controller, holler above the resounding throb of engines, “First drill?!” No one gets on track unless they can repeat the name of the drill. This helps us stay focused and allows Trevor to spot students who may be fatigued or dehydrated. I shouted, “Throttle control, fourth gear only, no brakes!” and Trevor yelled, “Go!”

The School of Speed
Under the watchful eye of his coach, Road Test Editor Guy Pickrell hones his street-riding skills with two days of intensive track training.

The no-brakes drill focused our minds on gentle throttle inputs. The RRs were set to rain mode and throttle response was forgiving, but I couldn’t find a good position on the bike, had no idea where the heck I was going, I was entering turns too early and then correcting, all the while trying to stay off the levers.

It took a few laps to get acquainted with the track and the BMW. My assigned track coach arced in front of me, tapped his taillight – follow my line – and I started hitting some apexes. After a lap, he pulled off the racing line and waved me on. My turn to lead. A smile found its way to my face as I carried more speed through the Bowl Turn, a 20-degree banked carousel, which was quickly wiped off when I entered the final turn of the session too hot and trail braked well wide of the apex.

The School of Speed
Coach Mike Pesicka shares feedback during the debrief after a track drill.

Immediately after each track session, students met their coaches for debriefing, where circuit maps taped to each table provide context for feedback and guidance. My coach, Mike Pesicka, validated some of my good throttle control before digging into the errors. An issue he immediately spotted was my tendency to level the horizon as I lean into a turn. Tilting my head up closes my shoulders and limits my ability to lean.

He then turned his attention to Doug Ramey, who’d trailered his Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special from Carson City, Nevada, to use at CSS. Students can bring their own motorcycles as long as they are safe for track use. Watching Doug fearlessly muscle his 800-pound beast around the tight, technical track was a spectacle, and a little depressing when he blasted past me in the first three sessions.

The School of Speed
You can bring your own motorcycle to CSS, like Doug Ramey did with his Harley-Davidson Road Glide Special.

By the last session of Level I, the combination of physical and mental exertion, desert heat, and adrenaline highs and lows had us all fairly exhausted, and I had to ask the guy lined up next to me in the pit lane to remind me what the drill was before Trevor came striding up. The five lessons had focused on rider inputs and improving our turning technique. Turn-in points had been taped to each corner, vastly improving our odds of hitting an apex.

Nonetheless, as my average speed increased, my braking points changed, leading to maddening mid-turn corrections. Mike reported an improvement in head position, but mostly on left turns. He led me over to the Body Position Bike, a static simulator composed of the rider touchpoints – bars, tank, seat, and pegs – affixed to a frame that tilts 45 degrees to each side to mimic on-track motion.

The School of Speed
A student receives instruction on the Body Position Bike, a static simulator that allows coaches to give direct instruction on body positioning in corners.

The next day, I was back for Level II training, and Dylan’s first lesson focused on vision. I took it easy during the first track session, and after getting Mike’s input, I headed for the Lean Bike. Each level includes one supplementary practical lesson, and I met CSS coach Johnny Haynes out on the skidpad. He stood next to a sportbike modified with spring-loaded outriggers, each tipped with a caster wheel, making it crash-proof.

Johnny immediately corrected my position on the seat, which he attributed to slippery leathers. A quick call on the radio brought the sticky butt spray, and after receiving a liberal coating, we resumed the lesson. Johnny had me using my outside knee to grip the tank, helping keep my weight off the bars, while pointing my inside knee toward the corner.

The School of Speed
The outrigger-equipped Lean Bike, one of Keith Code’s innovations in use at CSS, was a revelation.

Now that I was moving around on the bike and digging my knees into the tank, track sessions had become increasingly demanding and by the last, my legs were like jelly. I took the final lesson on trail braking as an invitation to add speed, and when Mike arced in front of me for the last time, he seemed noticeably quicker. I fell in line behind him, the rush of tarmac closer than I’ve ever dared.

As we rolled out of the bowl, Mike’s penultimate debrief fresh in my mind, I wound on the throttle the moment I touched the apex, releasing the BMW’s ballistic power and forcing me to the outer curb. I sat up at the kink just as the tach hit 10,000 rpm, adrenaline coursing through me, and saw Mike glance in his mirror and nod. I was right on his tail, and nothing could have pleased him more.

The School of Speed
By the last run of the second day I was comfortably carrying speed into corners that would have been well outside my comfort zone only 48 hours earlier. But more importantly, I have applied those skills to ride more safely and confidently on the street.

On a racetrack, to be fast around a corner is everything. But more importantly, for most of us, the skills CSS teaches make for better, safer road riding. As I would discover only a week later, applying effective vision, measured control inputs, and braking techniques can make the difference between walking away from disaster or not. Advances in technology have far outpaced human evolution. Motorcycles are faster and, thanks to ABS, traction control, and IMU sensors, are safer than ever, whereas motorcyclists are the same Homo sapiens they were 100,000 years ago. CSS is a potent upgrade to the most critical safety feature, the rider.

I’ve attended many driving and enduro schools, and the program content, quality of equipment, and the professionalism of the staff at California Superbike School are a model for how training should be done. I look forward to going back for Level III. I’ll stride in, grab a Danish, and shoot the breeze with Mike and Johnny.

California Superbike School holds training from February through November at tracks throughout the U.S. Single-day schools cost $725 per day using a CSS bike or $525 per day if you ride your own. The fee includes classroom training, track sessions, coaching, food, and drinks, and CSS has a well-stocked supply of suits, boots, gloves, and helmets for students to borrow. If you want more track time and more personalized coaching, you can sign up for a 2-Day Camp. For more info, visit superbikeschool.com. 

The School of Speed

The post Back to California Superbike School first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review
The MT-07, Yamaha’s Budget Blaster. Photos by Kevin Wing.

Since its debut in 2015, Yamaha’s MT-07 has been a popular choice thanks to its punchy parallel-twin, aggressive naked styling, and lightweight accessibility. It has proven to be just as adept as a first bike, a commuter, a track bike, a play bike — heck, throw luggage on it and it can be a sport-tourer.

Rider did a comparison test of the Kawasaki Ninja 650, Suzuki SV650, and Yamaha FZ-07 (the MT-07’s original moniker) back in 2016. The three bikes share the same defining attributes — simple, fun, and inexpensive. The FZ-07 came out on top, proving to be edgier and nimbler than its rivals, providing immediate response to throttle inputs and exceptionally agile handling. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review
The MT-07’s aggressive styling belies a neutral riding position and a comfortable seat at an accessible height. Yamaha has done a bang-up job on this budget blaster.

To stay ahead of the competition, Yamaha tweaked the mix, focusing on styling and rider engagement while maintaining the core character at the heart of the model’s appeal. A key part of that appeal has always been its value for money, and in its class, only the Suzuki SV650 can match its price. Perhaps not surprisingly then, most of the updates for the 2021 model are subtle. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review
The middleweight MT-07 is versatile and can fill many practical roles. It really shines on winding mountain roads, where opportunities to get the most out of its punchy parallel-twin and grippy dual-compound tires bring out its lively character. Simple, nimble, friendly, and a whole lot of fun!

The most striking change is in the new headlight cluster. Yamaha has standardized the styling across the MT range, and just like the MT-09 we tested recently, the MT-07 is fitted with full LED lights arranged in what Yamaha calls a “signature Y-shape icon,” which I found to be insect-like and split the opinion of the Rider staff. The “Y” motif is carried over to the rear LED also. Overall, the MT-07 is a great-looking bike. The stance looks more aggressive than it feels, and the new bodywork provides just enough edge without being silly.

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review
A new LED headlight cluster and LED turn signals are in line with the rest of the MT lineup.

New flared intakes add some muscle to the look, while sleek LED turnsignals bring a touch of class and are a vast improvement over the old lollipop design. Aesthetics aside, the new light cluster is a practical improvement. At night, the low beam provides a good spread of useable light. The high beam is bright and well defined but lacked width when the road became windy. There is no TFT for the new model, but the revised LCD dash is now color inverted. The dark screen with white characters is stylish and easy to read in bright daylight and at night, and Yamaha has fixed the mounting angle issues from previous models. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review
A new white-on-black LCD meter has a bar-style tach and a large, easy-to-read font.

The newly tapered handlebars are over an inch wider and positioned slightly higher than before, which opens up the ergonomics slightly. The wide bars, which work flawlessly at low speeds, felt slightly cumbersome when carving through my favorite canyon. The new setup takes nothing away from the MT-07’s exceptional agility and responsiveness, allowing for precisely picked lines through corners and a tight turning radius. The low seat height and curb weight, which at 31.7 inches and just over 400 pounds respectively, are among the lowest in class, make for a thoroughly approachable motorcycle, especially for shorter riders. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Rider Test
The middleweight MT-07 is versatile and can fill many practical roles. It really shines on winding mountain roads, where opportunities to get the most out of its punchy parallel-twin and grippy dual-compound tires bring out its lively character. Simple, nimble, friendly, and a whole lot of fun!

There is a narrow stretch of winding road not far from my home that is so good that I often stop and re-ride it a few times. On the MT-07 it was a blast, and I was impressed with how easy it was to get a U-turn done. My brother, who lives in the U.K., is taking his motorcycle test on a restricted MT-07. It’s a favorite with schools offering the A2 test, and no doubt its low-speed maneuverability and forgiving nature are key factors behind that. 

I’m 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and when I took our MT-07 for a full day’s ride, spending a solid eight hours in the saddle, I found it had a comfortable and commanding riding position, with room to slide back on the seat just a little and get into a more aggressive attitude in the twisties. The pegs are high enough to make it a plausible carver but require considerable knee bend for taller riders like me, which felt cramped after a while. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t change much. The pegs give enough clearance to really take advantage of the strong performance offered by that punchy twin. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Rider Test
An empty sweeping road is the perfect environment to take advantage of the MT-07’s punchy parallel twin.

The MT’s 689cc parallel-twin has been tweaked to be Euro 5 compliant without compromising performance. We took it down to Jett Tuning for dyno testing, and output remains similar to the outgoing model: 68 horsepower and 46.5 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel. Part of what makes the MT-07 so much fun is its bias towards maximizing instantaneous torque. The motor provides all the thrill the combustion forces working below can exert but with none of the hairiness. Throttle response is strong without being too snappy. A new air-intake duct ensures smooth fueling and acceleration when rolling on and off the power, and the engine’s 270-degree firing cadence generates a nice strum when you get the revs over 5,000. It also has a little bit of crackle and pop as you come off the gas, always a crowd pleaser. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review
Revisions to the engine’s intake, exhaust, and fuel injection help the MT-07 meet Euro 5 regulations and dyno testing revealed output remains similar to the outgoing model.

Riding the MT-07 up my favorite canyon, 25 glorious miles, few of which are straight, gave me an opportunity to get the new Michelin Road 5 tires warmed up and carry some speed into the corners. The characteristics of these tires suit the bike well. Designed as an all-rounder, the Road 5 has four-season credentials in its center tread, where deep grooves dissipate water, but at the tire’s shoulder, only called into use when riding spiritedly in the dry, a softer compound of sticky rubber without tread sipes provides additional grip. 

In this environment, the MT-07’s twin is happiest in the 5,000-7,000 rpm range, optimizing throttle response and engine braking. Thanks to the short wheelbase and low weight, flicking it from side to side is effortless, and the handling intuitive. After only a few miles it felt like I’d been riding this thing for years and I found myself in that wonderful riding zone, where your inputs are entirely in tune with the motorcycle and the feedback you get through the bars, pegs, and seat is clear and predictable. All that remains is the asphalt, the braking points, the exits, and the exhilarating forces working through your body, now a part of the bike. I didn’t want to stop, fearing even a brief pause might break the magic. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review
Michelin Road 5 dual-compound tires complement the MT-07’s versatility.

One of the key reasons behind the MT-07’s popularity as an all-rounder is its ability to be just as forgiving to new riders as it is thrilling for riders with years of experience. The gearbox is somewhat notchy and requires more effort than some of its class rivals, but the clutch has a wide take-up zone and takes all the sweat out of pulling away from stops. The strong low-end torque even allows you to pull off in 2nd gear without embarrassing yourself with a stall. 

ABS is standard and Yamaha has made the front brake discs 14mm larger, which provided adequate stopping power but with a softer lever than premium brakes. The 41mm nonadjustable KYB fork remains unchanged, and the rear monoshock is adjustable for preload and rebound. The MT-07 was fighting above its weight when I took my wife on a pillion ride through the canyons. Handling and braking were up to the task, but the narrow rear seat and lack of grab rails ensure this will not be the first choice for riders looking for a good two-up bike. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Rider Test
The MT-07’s styling sets it apart from competitors in its class.

The MT-07’s past success has been dependent upon its nearly universal accessibility. The magic lies in maintaining these aspects while still being exciting, practical, comfortable, and visually appealing. Riders familiar with the older models will not be disappointed. Nothing has been compromised where it matters. The updated styling represents a bold modern design and visually sets it apart from its rivals. 

What hasn’t changed is the MT-07’s ability to repeatedly take you back to that feeling you had the very first time you stepped off a bike with pedals and pulled away on a bike with pegs, when exertion was replaced with effortless thrust. It makes me grin just thinking about it. The MT-07 remains an excellent value while still offering riders of all skills, sizes, and needs the most important thing of all — pure, unadulterated fun. 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review
Thanks to the MT-07’s agility and responsiveness, pitching it from turn to turn feels almost effortless. It’s a great bike for building and maintaining confidence, and it delivers plenty of excitement at a reasonable price.

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Specs

Base Price: $7,699
Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles 
Website: yamahamotorsports.com 


Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse parallel-twin, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl. 
Displacement: 689cc 
Bore x Stroke: 80.0 x 68.6mm 
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1 
Valve Insp. Interval: 26,000 miles 
Fuel Delivery: DFI w/ 38mm throttle bodies x 2 
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.75 qt. cap. 
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch 
Final Drive: O-ring chain


Frame: Tubular-steel perimeter w/ engine as stressed member, steel swingarm
Wheelbase: 55.1 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.5 degrees/3.5 in.
Seat Height: 31.7 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm stanchions, no adj., 5.1 in. travel
Rear: Single link-type shock, adj. preload and rebound, 5.1 in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 298mm discs w/ opposed 4-piston calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 245mm hydraulic disc w/ 1-piston caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast aluminum, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast aluminum, 5.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 180/55-ZR17
Wet Weight: 406 lbs.
Load Capacity: 377 lbs.
GVWR: 783 lbs. 


Horsepower: 67.9 hp @ 8,600 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
Torque: 46.5 lb-ft @ 6,400 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gals.
Fuel Consumption: 45 mpg
Estimated Range: 165 miles 

The post 2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Road Test Review 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

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend
Phil with his trusty Honda Aero 1100 near the St. Johns River in Florida, not long before he had to say goodbye.

On April 8, 2021, at 8:47 p.m. near Sarasota, Florida, my 2001 Honda Aero 1100, a trusted traveling companion for the last 14 years, met its unceremonious end when the driver of a car ran a red left-turn arrow and crossed my lane of travel.

I bought my Aero in 2007, and ended up owning it longer than I’ve owned any other motorcycle. To say that it was a great bike is a major understatement. The Aero was steadfast, reliable and enjoyable for many magnificent motorcycle tours. Recently I had the thought that it might be the last motorcycle I’d ever own. Drawn to its classic styling, even after a decade and a half owning the bike, I would still smile when I looked at it parked in the garage.

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend
On the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2008

Yeah, okay, so I loved the bike.

When I bought the Aero in 2007, it already had a windshield, auxiliary lights and highway bars, and within a short time I added a Corbin seat, Champion hard saddlebags and a throttle lock. Once outfitted, the bike was completely comfortable and suited for long-distance travel. I rode many 12-hour-plus days without complaint. Together, we logged nearly 100,000 miles from coast to coast.

Some of the best of these rides have been documented in the pages of Rider. Riding the Aero the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway culminated in my first article published in the magazine, “A Ride on the Ridge,” in the July 2009 issue. Living in the Atlanta area for many years, we explored well-known roads, like Tail of the Dragon and the Cherohala Skyway, and hidden gems throughout the Southeast.

When I moved to Seattle, Washington, in 2010, I rode the Aero through the Ozarks, on Route 66 west of Flagstaff, over the Hoover Dam and through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. While living in the Pacific Northwest, new routes up and around Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and the Cascades, as well as east into the high desert around Yakima took us through some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen. More unforgettable memories and and more features in Rider, such as “Olympic Peninsula, Motorcycle Heaven in the Northwest” (May 2012) and “The Cascade Loop” (January 2014).

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend
Mount St. Helens, Washington, in 2011

One of my most memorable rides was taking the Aero the “back way” to Idaho on the Brownlee-Oxbow Highway, along the Snake River and into Hells Canyon. On all these rides, through hundreds of hours and countless miles through some of the most deserted roads in America, I never doubted that the Honda would get me there and back. Many times I patted its tank like a cowboy pats his horse.

In 2016, at a career dead end and financially tapped out, I moved to southwest Florida, where my extended family lived. With no income, hustling to find a job and get back on my feet, the logical thing to do was sell the bike. Sadly I did, but I told the buyer, “When you buy your Harley” — everyone rides them here — “I want first call on buying it back.” Fourteen months later, my Aero came back home.

Farewell to a Two-Wheeled Friend
Near Harmony, Washington, in 2012

Our last tour was just a few weeks ago, a whirlwind five-day, 1,000-mile ride around northern Florida, with overnight stays in Cedar Key, Apalachicola, Jacksonville and Crescent Beach. A lovely ride.

But now it’s gone. Due to a split-second error by an impatient driver, the Aero suffered terminal front-end damage. It’s never easy to say goodbye to those we love. My Aero will be missed, but I’ll always have great memories of our years and miles together.

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