Tag Archives: Motorbikes

Is BMW chasing a supercharged future?

BMW Motorrad has filed a patent for a supercharger with a drawing of an S 1000 RR (above) which could challenge the supercharged Kawasaki H2R as the fastest and most powerful motorcycle in the world.

Bimota and Hesketh have also launched supercharged models in recent years and Honda is rumoured to be working on a similar project.

Hesketh introducing a Valiant Supercharger supercharged
Hesketh Valiant Supercharger

Meanwhile, Yamaha has filed a patent for a turbo and Suzuki has been considering turbocharging for several years with its Incursion concept.

Suzuki Recursion with turbocharging
Suzuki Recursion

This industry move toward forced induction is not just about setting power records, but also meeting the coming tougher emissions laws.

Now BMW has joined the charge toward cleaner and more efficient forced induction with a supercharger with an electric compressor to free air into the combustion chamber via an intercooler.

Turbo or supercharged?

blown turbo supercharged
1980s Honda CX 650TC Turbo

In the 1980s, several manufacturers played with temperamental turbo technology, but it was a difficult to control the light-switch power delivery so they had a short life.

However, modern turbos are more efficient, lighter, smaller and more reliable.

While a turbo takes its power from the exhaust gases, superchargers that power from the crankshaft.

Kawasaki H2 paint supercgarged
Supercharged Kawasaki H2R

There are advantages and disadvantages in these two technologies.

Turbochargers are quieter, smaller, more efficient, but also more complex.

Superchargers can deliver their boost at lower revs than a turbocharger and are more reliable and easier to maintain. However, they are harder on the engine.

It will be interesting to see which way the industry goes in coming years on forced induction.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Harley-Davidson patenting adaptive cruise

Harley-Davidson is joining Bosch, Ducati and KTM in developing motorcycle adaptive cruise control, but with a special feature that allows for group riding.

The company has recently applied to the US Patent Office for a patent on its system.

Adaptive cruise

Many touring motorcycles now come with cruise control and adaptive cruise is the next step.

Last year KTM and Ducati announced they were working open adaptive cruise control which has been available in many cars for some years.

Ducati even announced they would introduce it and blind spot awareness in “every” 2020 model! We will see when they release their 2020 model line-up on October 23.

Staggered riding

Harley-Davidson motorcycles Harley days Thunder Run adaptive cruise
Harley riders love a parade.

If you’re wondering how this would affect Harley group rides where they ride in close, staggered formation, fear not. Harley is cleverly planning something a little different.

Adaptive cruise control uses radar sensors to detect  vehicles in front and varies your vehicle’s speed accordingly.

It keeps your vehicle a pre-determined distance behind that varies with your speed. Some allow you to select a certain timed gap, such as two seconds and up to about five seconds.

But motorcycles may be a little different because two motorcycles can legally share the same lane in some jurisdictions and group rides tend to run in a staggered formation.

While the bike directly in front may be a safe distance away, the bike in the other wheel track, but the same lane can be a lot closer. That would interfere with adaptive cruise control.

But that’s where Harley’s system is a little different.

It recognises the difference between cars and motorcycles.

Safer group rides?Iron Run, Thunder run, motorcycle rally, HOG, harley, Harley-Davidson, motorcycle rally, motorcycles bashing rewards adaptive cruise

The system also allows the rider to select which vehicle they want to adapt their speed to, allowing safe staggered-formation rides at any speed.

Hopefully the controls aren’t too fiddly or it could become a distraction, rather than a safety device.

Harley has also applied for a patent for an automatic braking system which would no doubt be linked into this tech to make group riding safer.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Ducati blitz adds two Scrambler 1100 models

Ducati’s Scrambler 1100 is expected to have another couple of variants when the company unveils its blitz of 2020 models on 23 October 2019.

The company recently filed documents with the US emission agency for a “Scrambler 1100 Pro” and “Scrambler 1100 Pro Sport”.

They will have the same 1079cc, L-twin motor with 62kW and 88Nm.

Ducati already has a Scrambler 1100 Sport model (pictured above) with Ohlins suspension.

So the “Pro” addition could be off-road models like the 803cc Scrambler Desert Sled with taller suspension and knobby tyres. It could also feature electronic suspension adjustment.

It would be an obvious move to compete with the Triumph Scrambler 1200 with 66.2kW and 110Nm.

Ducati blitz

Ducati is set for a blitz of up to seven new 2020 models and variants in October.

They have already announced the Streetfighter V4 will be released as a 2020 model.

Ducati confirms 2020 Streetfighter V4 ranges model
Ducati Streetfighter V4

We’ve also seen spy photos of a Multistrada V4 and we suspect there might also be a Monster V4 in the works.

Ducati Multistrada V4 spy photo ranges blitz
Spy photo of what looks like a Multistrada V4

And last month a leaked document from the US Environmental Protection Agency listed the “Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour” and “Scrambler Icon Dark”.

Since the Multistrada GT will be powered by the 1262cc L-Twin engine as the name suggests, maybe the Multistrada V4 is on hold for another year.

Or they may be considering running two Multi ranges with twin and four-cylinder engines.

We also expect the Grand Tour will have luggage and a bigger windscreen.

As for the 803cc Scrambler Icon Dark, it is likely to have a blackened engine and matte-black paint instead of its iconic yellow.

Ducati Scrambler Icon ranges blitz
Ducati Scrambler Icon

Whatever their model blitz in October is composed of, every model will have blind spot warning and adaptive cruise control, as they announced in April 2018.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

CFMoto 650MT 2500km update

Motorcycle industry stalwart Dale Schmidtchen has now been in the saddle of his 2019 CFMoto 650 MT ABS for 2500km, so it’s time for an update.

Dale, who has previously worked for CFMoto, gave his initial impressions in his review last month.

Dale‘s update:

First service came up at a pleasing 1500km, not 1000km or even 800km like many other bikes.

The service was performed by the selling dealer, Sunstate Motorcycles, Nerang, and it was also very pleasing at just $270.

I was lucky enough to throw a leg over a new Suzuki V-Strom 650 while waiting for the service. The V-Strom was fully run in and quite an impressive model in the same genre, but it highlighted the amazing value of the CFMoto at less than 2/3 of the price and with panniers included.

I bought the bike because I needed a machine capable of many types of riding, so it didn’t take long before I got the wheels dirty on some unpaved country back roads.CFMoto 650MT update

While it may climb every mountain and ford every stream, there are two main drawbacks.

First is the road-biased tyre tread. Second is the lack of high-speed damping from the rear shock on corrugated dirt inclines. It tends to skip the corrugations, losing power and traction.

It adds a bit to the challenge, but I am sure a little work in the suspension, tyre pressures and a rubber update should help a great deal.

Loosen upCFMoto 650MT update

My CFMoto has taken most of the first 1500km to loosen up the engine and front suspension.

The fork seals had a noticeable amount of stiction from new, which made modulating the front brakes on dirt roads harder than now the stiction has faded.

On one very fast creek crossing, the exhaust pipe did ground out once, but I doubt most people will ever find this.   

The headlight on low beam is good for everything up to 100km/h.

The LED running lights light up the immediate road well, filling in the usual dark area. However the headlight is really bright and does not alternate between high and low. The low stays on with high beam and does its best to dazzle everything in sight.

The chain and sprocket have shown minimal wear and has not required adjustment to date, which is exceptional.

I cannot comment on wet braking as yet, thanks to the current winter drought, but in the dry the brakes are more than adequate. I recently tested out the ABS on a straight dirt road and there is great feedback before it cuts in.CFMoto 650MT update

Fuel economy has been steady since day one and hasn’t improved much with running in.

On 95 RON fuel, the bike gets a respectable 4.3L/100km (23km/l or 65mpg), theoretically allowing for 400km range.

When the last fuel block has been flashing for some time, it takes about 13.5 litres from a claimed 18 litre tank, so reserve is quite generous.

Overall, I am still enjoying the bike immensely and hope to give you another update at around 8000km.

CFMoto 650 MT ABS tech specsCFMoto 650 MT

Price:

$7490 ride away

Engine:

649.3cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, parallel-twin four-stroke with 180-degree crankshaft, chain camshaft drive and single gear-driven counter balancer

Bore & Capacity:

83mm x 60mm

Compression Ratio:

11.3:1

Fuel System:

EFI with 2 x 38mm ITT throttle bodies and single injector per cylinder

Power:

41.5kW @ 9500rpm (LAMS restricted)

Torque:

62Nm @ 7000rpm

Gearbox:

6-speed with gear primary drive

Clutch:

Multiplate wet

CFMoto 650 MT

Chassis:

Tubular steel diamond frame employing engine as fully-stressed member

Front Suspension:

USD fork (max travel 140mm)

Rear Suspension:

Extruded steel swingarm with tubular steel bracing, cantilever monoshock (max. travel 145mm)

Front Brake:

2 x 300mm steel discs with twin-piston calipers with Continental ABS system

Rear Brake:

1 x 240mm single disc with single-piston caliper with Continental ABS system

Front Wheel & Tyres:

120/70ZR17, 3.5 x 17 MT alloy

Rear Wheel & Tyres:

160/60ZR17, 4.5 x 17 MT alloy

CFMoto 650 MT

Length x Width x Height:

2150 x 835 x 1332mm

Wheelbase:

1415mm

Seat:

840mm or optional 820mm

Clearance:

170mm

Turning circle:

5.4m

Fuel tank:

18L

Weight:

213kg

Max Payload:

150kg

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

HET electric motor doubles output

In a major advance for electric vehicles, in particular motorcycles, a Texas company has produced the Hunstable Electric Turbine (HET) motor that is quieter, cooler, cheaper, smaller yet has double the torque output.

HET claims

Linear Labs’ HET motor is named after founders CEO Brad Hunstable and his father and CTO Fred.

The Hunstables claim their compact motor would suit motorcycles and scooters as well as cars, trucks, forklifts, golf carts, UTVs and even drones.

They have attracted US$4.5 million in seed funding to develop and commercialise the motor.

Their HET motor features a unique arrangement of magnetic forces acting on the rotor in the direction of motion.

They claim it it is capable of producing nearly 100% more torque at lower revs than similar-sized motors.

One of the HET attributes is that it uses direct drive rather than a reduction gearbox which makes it more compact and cheaper.

“We believe the drive system of the future is a direct drive system, no gearbox, no expensive high RPM mechanical designs with simple, less expensive power electronics,” Brad says.

For more technical information, check out the Linear Labs website.

Direct drive

So far, most electric motorcycles have a single motor with a final drive by belt, chain or shaft.

However, there are some that use a direct-drive system such as this Finnish RMK E2.

RMK E2 prototype electric motorcycle
RMK E2

Of course, they could also have two electric motors directly driving both wheels such as the Ethec electric cruiser designed and built by Swiss university students.

Ethec electric cruiser has two motors
Ethec

When it comes to electric motorcycles, the rule book is being thrown out.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

2020 Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

No matter what you think of the rebirth of the venerable “Katana” name and the neo/retro styling, the 2020 Suzuki Katana is a highly polished rider’s delight.

It officially went on sale in Australia on Thursday at $18,990 (ride away with 12 months’ rego), but about 50 riders had already paid a $1000 deposit, mostly ageing former Katana owners or sons/daughters of Katana owners.

Now, Suzuki Australia has to encourage young riders and new Katana converts.

However, be quick as only 4000 will be made, says Suzuki Australia marketing manager Lewis Croft.

If customers are attracted to its origami styling, they may just find a highly enjoyable bike that is as easy to ride fast through the twisties as it is to sedately filter through traffic.

That’s no mean feat for engine architecture derived from the GSX.

But Suzuki has done it with a superbly sophisticated and refined engine, transmission and MotoGP-inspired chassis.

Styling

Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight
Silver and Glass Sparkle Black

This is the controversial aspect.

When the silver Katana was unveiled at the 2018 Intermot show in October and then the “Glass Sparkle Black” version at EICMA in November, opinions were sharply divided.

Katana devotees both loved and hated it as did those who weren’t Katana fans. Reminds me of the reception the original Katana experienced!Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

In the “flesh” this new Katana looks a lot better with high-quality fitment.

I prefer the silver as it looks more original and highlights the original’s lines and angles better.

There are a lot of faithful Katana lines such as the cut in the tank, the shark nose, two-toned seat, rectangular headlight and even the half-moon front fender.

But Katana devotees will find points to criticise.Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

To me, it seems the designers were trying too hard and made the design too complex.

But it certainly stands out and includes some neat modern features such as full LED lighting and a remote rear fender.

The biggest change is straight bars instead of clip-ons that make it much less ergonomically painful to ride than the original.

In fact, with its narrow seat and upright stance, it is extremely comfortable in the saddle, although the wide tank does splay your knees, so it could be painful for some people with hip problems.

At 825mm, the seat is much taller than the original, but I’m 183cm tall and I was able to plant both feet flat on the ground, still with a slight knee bend.

Motivation delight

The real delight of this bike is in the motivation: the engine and transmission.

Here is an interesting tech specs comparison to the original.

Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

But tech specs do not tell the real story of this bike’s motivation.

It’s simply so silky smooth with thick, creamy torque and a super-slick foolproof gearbox.

This combination virtually makes it like an automatic; just slip through to sixth gear by 60km/h and twist the throttle.

No need to shift gears. It will pull from 2500 revs in sixth at 60km/h to 4500 revs at 100km/h and on to dizzying revs and go-straight-to-jail speeds.

On the media launch through the border ranges of NSW and Queensland, most of the riders stopped changing gears after a while and just used fifth or sixth for everything.Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

Yet it delivered electrifying throttle response and rapid acceleration when you started tap-dancing on the gear shift.

It’s so smooth there is little character to the feel of the engine, but there is a lovely aural harmony of induction “woof” and exhaust growl.

Back into the heaving traffic on the Gold Coast, this maniac machine was suddenly docile, tame and so controllable as we filtered slowly through the traffic.

Lewis describes it as both “a city bike and a show-off bike”.

It certainly is with only about 200km maximum range from the 12-litre tank.Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

The engine is Euro4 compliant and no doubt will be updated for Euro5 within the next couple of years. It burns lean and blows a fair bit of heart on to your right foot in heavy traffic.

There are no engine modes, but three-strange traction control that can also be switched off, all on the fly.

My only concern is the heavy cable clutch which is non-adjustable. Although, it does have a clever low-rev assist feature which adds 500 revs as you let the clutch lever out.

This prevents embarrassing and potentially dangerous stalls if you’ve filtered to the front of the traffic! It’s a delight to use in stop-start traffic.

There is also an easy-start function where you just hit the ignition and it starts on its own.Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

The comprehensive instrument screen is big, like a max-sized phone, but some of the letters and figures are small and difficult to read.

You can operate all functions via a handy controller on the left switchblock and they are easy to use.

Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight
Traction and instrument controls

Town and country

In town, the Katana is light and nimble and easy to slice through traffic with its tight turning circle and wide bars.

That also makes it great for twisting roads, although you don’t need to manhandle the bike to change direction.Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

It feels very light and the fully adjustable suspension (except for rear compression adjustment) is firm, but fair.

I backed off half a turn on the front compression to sort out some of the bumps on the backroads and it ploughed through without any headshake.

The big 310mm dual disc brakes have plenty of bite with good feel through the controls, although the ABS was a little jerky.

Lewis says the Dunlop RoadSport 2 tyres are specially made for the bike.Suzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

They feature a tread pattern that looks like it has been cut with slashes from a katana. The tyres heat up quickly and have excellent grip even on damp roads.

The combination of capable suspension and strong brakes make it a delight to whip through the bumpy and twisting roads of the Gold Coast hinterland.

Lewis says they have a long list of accessories including carbon bits, a black and red seat, protection, heated grips, smoked windscreen and red Brembo calipers.

He says buyers so far have spent an average of $1300 on the accessories.

There are also a Katana keyring, scale model and branded clothing.

ConclusionSuzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

I’m no Katana devotee and the looks don’t really appeal to me, yet I was won over by the ease of riding this bike hard as well as slow.

There may be more appealing neo/retro bikes on the market, but this is by far the rider’s delight of the pack!

Suzuki Katana GSX-S1000SM0 tech specsSuzuki Katana is a rider’s delight

PRICE $18,990 RIDE AWAY
ENGINE IN-LINE 4 CYLINDER, LIQUID-COOLED, DOHC
TRANSMISSION 6-SPEED WITH BACK-TORQUE LIMITING CLUTCH
FRONT SUSPENSION 43MM KYB FULLY ADJUSTABLE INVERTED FORKS
REAR SUSPENSION LINK TYPE SHOCK WITH ADJUSTABLE REBOUND & SPRING PRELOAD
FRONT BRAKES BREMBO RADIAL-MOUNT MONOBLOC CALIPERS, 310MM DICS WITH ABS
REAR BRAKES NISSIN SINGLE PISTON CALIPER WITH ABS
POWER 110kW @ 10,000RPM 
TORQUE 2180NM @ 9500RPM
COLOURS METALLIC MYSTIC SILVER / GLASS SPARKLE BLACK
SEAT 825MM
LENGTH 2130MM
WIDTH 835MM
HEIGHT 1110MM
WET WEIGHT 215KG
WHEELBASE 1460MM
FUEL CAPACITY 12 LITRES

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Ducati adds to Multistrada and Scrambler ranges

Ducati is tipped to unveil its 2020 models on 23 October 2019 with a Streetfighter V4, Multistrada V4, Multistrada S GT and a Scrambler Icon Dark added to its ranges.

The Italian manufacturer has already confirmed the Streetfighter V4 will be released as a 2020 model.

Ducati confirms 2020 Streetfighter V4 ranges
Ducati Streetfighter V4

We’ve also seen spy photos of a Multistrada V4 and we suspect there might also be a Monster V4 in the works.

Ducati Multistrada V4 spy photo ranges
Spy photo of what looks like a Multistrada V4

And now a leaked document from the US Environmental Protection Agency lists the “Multistrada 1260 S Grand Tour” and “Scrambler Icon Dark”.

Since the Multistrada GT will be powered by the 1262cc L-Twin engine as the name suggests, maybe the Multistrada V4 is on hold for another year.

Or they may be considering running two Multi ranges with twin and four-cylinder engines.

We also expect the Grand Tour will have luggage and a bigger windscreen.

As for the 803cc Scrambler Icon Dark, it is likely to have a blackened engine and matte-black paint instead of its iconic yellow.

Ducati Scrambler Icon ranges
Ducati Scrambler Icon

Whatever they release in October, Ducati announced in April 2018 that every model in their 2020 range will have blind spot warning and adaptive cruise control.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Electric motorcycle designs get kookier!

Electric motorcycles don’t have the design constraints of a petrol-powered bike with its bulky engine, fuel tank, driveline and exhaust pipe, so the designs are getting kookier and kookier.

Premium Italian bike accessories company Rizoma recently held a Design Challenge to demonstrate the “Future of Motorcycling”.

Fittingly it was won by an electric motorcycle.

It’s called the Tryal because it is based around a triangular body.

Kookier designs

The Tryal follows some recent kooky electric motorcycle designs by American motorcycle company Curtiss.

Famed LA motorcycle customiser Roland Sands of LA says that electric motorcycles do not have as many restrictions of traditional motorcycles and he looked forward to expanding his design ideas.

He pointed out that batteries can be made into almost any shape and electric motors are much smaller than an internal combustion engine, allowing designers much more flexibility with their creations.

Consequently, we’ve seen some other kooky designs such as the Essence e-raw with its suspended seat and “tank”, the bug-like Johammer, the wild Zec00 and the Racer X shaped like an “X”.

Tryal was design by Erik Askin, the Associate Design Director at New Deal Design in San Francisco.

“The future of motorcycling will hinge on getting more riders on two wheels,” Erik says.

“Among an industry catering towards performance and horsepower, the Tryal Bike offers a friendlier approach. Simple, approachable and most importantly … fun, this is a bike that is easy for anyone to ride.

“Bold colours, clean iconic forms, and fun features such as the customise-able dot matrix headlight, makes the Tryal an exciting new choice for future riders.

“A modern day mini-moto with 14” wheels, electric drive train, and upright geometry the Tryal is a blast for learning or simply a fun way to get around town.”

Urban bike

The solo Tryal looks like it might be suited to some light adventure riding with its chunky knobby tyres, wire wheels and BMW-style bars.

However, it would be awfully uncomfortable on rough roads with its straight bench seat, the wheels are only 14 inches and the belt drive system would pick up some gravel.

This is really an urban bike with its scooter-esque twist-and-go transmission making it easy to ride in traffic.

They have also cleaned up the footpegs with no rear brake pedal, either.

Instead, the brakes are hand levers on the bars like on a scooter.

However, it does feature conventional suspension with a mono shock rear and upside-down forks.

The battery, motor and controller are all housed in the triangular hollow body

There are no details about output, charging times, range or top speed.

We don’t even think this is planned for production, just a design exercise!

However, it’s a good indication, along with some other recent electric motorcycle designs, of how strange the future of motorcycling is going to look.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Alien Yamaha Niken three-wheeler will surprise

Yamaha’s Niken GT three-wheeler looks like an alien, but it corners surprisingly well, says Motorbike Writer contributor Todd Parkes.

When I first set eyes on the Yamaha Niken, I imagined an alien would ride one of these monsters.

This bike is pretty much an MT-09 with two very skilfully engineered front wheels grafted to what would have normally been the pointy end.

Piaggio and other scooter manufacturers (Yamaha’s Tricity included) have proved this concept of ‘doubling’ the front end grip of a cycle.

How many times have we watched motorcycle racing and witnessed a front end loss? The front wheel ‘tucks’ up and chucks its hapless rider down the road.

I tested the original Piaggio MP3 when released, and it was the most sure footed thing I’d ever ridden.

Niken GT testAlien Yamaha Niken GT

So, can the three-wheeled Niken service it up to its two-wheeled counterparts?

Apparently it can top around 210km/h and was a full second quicker than its MT-09 sibling, around Yamaha’s test track.

The bike I tested was the $24,478 (+ on-road costs) Niken GT and it can certainly live up to the Grand Tourer standard. It has heated grips, cruise control, touring screen, panniers, shift indicator, selection of three sport modes, traction control, ABS, side and centre stands, comfortable seating position, and wide handle bars.

There’s a six-speed transmission, a 847cc DOHC triple developing 86kW (115HP) at 10,000rpm, kerb weight of a hefty 263kg and high 820mm seat.

The 18 litre fuel tank will give a comfortable range of 300km before the reserve counter kicks in, depending on the engine mode used and how heavily you twist the throttle.

No lessons required

Sitting behind the handle bars gives no indication of what’s in front of you. The fairing may be a bit wider but apart from that nothing seems any different from a standard motorbike.

There is no requirement for tuition on how to ride the Niken. A Can-Am Spyder, outfit or even a trike needs a skill set outside that for riding a normal motorcycle.

You ride a Niken in the exact same way you ride any other bike.

The only differences are a slight noticeable ‘drag’ at slow speed, you can brake later into corners using more front brake and right hand U-turns are a piece of cake. You can even drag the front brake without pulling yourself down.

You do need a side stand and it will fall over if you don’t hold it up.

There are no fancy hydraulics, electronics or sensors, just plain old good quality mechanical engineering.

The mirrors are well positioned and offer good rear and side views without being filled with the rider’s shoulders or arms.

They can be difficult to adjust being so far forward, however, they are positioned in such a way that there is little need to shift the eyeline from the road ahead.

The instrumentation, mirrors and view ahead are virtually all in the same line of sight.Alien Yamaha Niken GT

Stability

The one constant while riding this bike is, stability. High speed, low speed, wet grass, gravel, uneven surfaces or cornering, it’s all the same.

There is a complete feeling of confidence that the bike will stay on track and be completely controllable.

I threw it at everything I could think of and it felt like it was on rails at all times. I reckon I’d have to do something completely stupid or idiotic to throw it down the road.

Both front tyres are still planted firmly on the road by the time you are fully grinding the footpegs into the tar.

Yamaha Niken neowing
(Image: Yamaha)

Pillion test

With my treasured pillion onboard we headed off to see what she thought of passenger comfort.

Seat comfort was good, grab rails were well positioned, foot rests not too high.

There was plenty of room for her to shift about. Now, as the rider, I noticed that there was no need for me to compensate for being with a pillion, those small counterbalance shifts a rider makes to keep the bike stable two up, the Niken does it for you. Two up at 10kph….easy…..two up over soft ground and wet grass is a doddle. Amazing!

I’m 180cm tall and 90kg and the 820mm seat height suited me fine. I was able to get both feet flat on the ground and spread out for good support.

The panniers are a little unusual in that they’re a cross between a soft and hard case with zipper closure (they came with a pannier liner bag).

They appear to be a bit on the light side, but, hold about 30 litres securely and can be carried around just like any old set of luggage.

The main downside with the panniers is their exposure to being ‘booted’ when getting on or off the bike. They won’t hold a full face, but will take an open-face helmet.

Apart from the obvious expense of purchasing an extra tyre, my main concern was the “busy” left hand switch block. It takes some time to get used to.

The high beam idiot light is a bit too bright at night, as are the cruise control globes. I’d also prefer some adjustment for the windscreen.

ConclusionAlien Yamaha Niken GT

Look beyond the alien appearance and take one for a test ride. It will surprise you as it did me.

Most of my age group couldn’t get past the alien appearance, but a couple of young riders walked up and started taking photos.

Their attention was drawn by the steering mechanism under the front.  They thought the bike was pretty cool!

Thanks to Yamaha Australia and Simon from Chris Watson Cessnock for the test bike. The base model starts at $22,438 (+ORC). Options include panniers ($775), brackets ($523) and centre stand ($781).

Yamaha Niken GTAlien Yamaha Niken GT

  • Price: $24,478 (+ on-road costs)
  • Engine: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve, 847cc 3-cylinder
  • Bore x Stroke: 78 x 59.1mm
  • Compression: 11.5 : 1
  • Fuel: 18 litres
  • Transmission: Constant mesh 6-speed, chain drive
  • Length: 2150mm
  • Width: 885mm
  • Height: 1425mm
  • Seat: 820mm
  • Wheelbase: 1510mm
  • Clearance: 150mm
  • Wet weight: 267kg
  • Suspension: USD Telescopic forks, 110m travel; link rear, 125mm travel
  • Brakes: Hydraulic dual 298mm discs, 282mm rear disc
  • Tyres: 120/70-R15;  190/55-R17

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Massive discounts on Husqvarna 701 and 401

Husqvarna Australia is about to offer some massive discounts on the 401 and 701 Svartpilen and Vitpilen motorcycles.

And by “massive” we mean a massive $3000 to $7000, depending on the model!

The official announcement has not yet been made, but we have seen the ride-away prices announced to the dealers recently.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 - controversial upgrade massive
Vitpilen 401

Husqvarna massive discounts

Model Old price (+ORC) New on-road price (New Zealand)
Svartpilen 701 $A15,995 $A10,495 $NZ11,500
Vitpilen 701 $A16,995 $A9995 $NZ10,999
Svartpilen 401 $A10,495 $A7495 $NZ8495
Vitpilen 401 $A10,495 $A7495 $NZ8495

Rebate

Riders who have recently bought one for the full price may be able to get a rebate.

While companies are not legally bound to rebate the difference as it a a case of “buyer beware”, offering a rebate would show good faith with their customers.

However, the only time we can recall a motoring company issuing a full refund after heavily discounting a big-ticket item was in 2004 when Holden slashed the price of its off-road Adventra wagon by $4000.

We have rarely seen such a massive discount in the motorcycle industry. And by comparison, this is much higher than the Holden discount.

Yet we would expect the distributor to be understanding about rebates and retaining customer loyalty.

They may offer cash, or free accessories or service to make up the difference. It could come down to your negotiating skills.

The motorcycles

We love the four models with their quirky looks and names.

Vitpilen means white arrow and is the road bike while Svartpilen means black arrow and is a scrambler semi-off-roader.

They are all fun and agile motorcycles with quality components.

For example, the 701 comes with a lot of standard “goodies” such as Bi-Directional Quick Shifter, Brembo Brakes with braided lines, LED lighting and WP Suspension.

Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 massive

However, we always said they would be a hard sell at the prices they were asking, especially for single-cylinder motorcycles.

Click on the following model names to read our full road tests: Vitpilen 701 and Vitpilen 401.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com