Tag Archives: Motorbikes

MotoGP: Honda’s Working on Electric Racebikes

Recently, Honda revealed an advert for their upcoming participation in the Rose Parade, showing off several electric vehicles in the name of the zero-emissions theme, ‘Forever Determined.’

The image showed off an electric bike the brand’s simply christened ‘a Honda electric motorcycle’- odd, considering Honda doesn’t have any larger-capacity builds capable of thunder-juice (and doubly odd since the bike looked like some kind of CB500/CB750 Hornet). 

A view of the electric bike mysteriously present on Honda's Rose Parade advert. Media sourced from Motorcycle.com.
A view of the electric bike mysteriously present on Honda’s Rose Parade advert. Media sourced from Motorcycle.com.

The brand’s move to promote a machine that’s not even been premiered yet has us thinking they’re about to go electric in a big kind of way – and now, we have further proof from Honda’s Racing Corporation. 

“Honda has another critical mission to pursue in the area of motorsports – it is the realization of carbon neutrality,” explains Honda director and senior managing executive officer Shinji Aoyama in a report from RideApart

A MotoGP Honda bike leaning into a twisty. Media sourced from HRC.
A MotoGP Honda bike leaning into a twisty. Media sourced from HRC.

“Honda has already been conducting research and development of technologies for carbon neutrality while proactively leveraging the field of motorsports. From now onward, we will further enhance our initiatives to put such technologies into practical use in our racing activities.”

“Moreover, starting with motorcycles, we will explore possibilities of introducing electrified vehicles in actual races where we compete.”  

Dainese and TCX products, in anticipation of both landing in North America, thanks to Tucker Powersports. Media sourced from Dainese.
A lineup of bikes present in Honda's recent successes in competition. Media sourced from HRC's Facebook page.
A lineup of bikes present in Honda’s recent successes in competition. Media sourced from HRC’s Facebook page.

With other bike marques working advanced tech on the circuit to trickle down into production models, we’re curious to see what Honda’s next move is. 

Stay tuned, drop a comment below letting us know what you think, and as always – stay safe on the twisties. 

*Media sourced from SwapMoto Live, HRC’s Facebook page, Motorcycle.com and HRC*

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Motorcycle Culture Across the Western World

Motorcycles are iconic and versatile vehicles loved worldwide. However, in the Western world, they enjoy popularity mainly as vehicles for recreation rather than a means of transport, in stark contrast to the way they are often used in Asia, Latin America, and certain European countries.

In many Asian and Latin countries, a good portion of their population has incorporated motorcycles as their primary form of transportation. Of course, this is more common in big, busy cities, where these vehicles are essential to daily life. Conversely, it’s fascinating to see how motorcycle culture has expanded around the globe, with many regions in the West developing riding styles and cultures that are completely unique.

For many enthusiasts in Western countries, motorcycles are equal parts for recreation and fun. However, each country has slight differences in their taste for specific motorcycles and even in riding habits—such as lane splitting/filtering, riding on the shoulder, or using a bike to transport cargo.

Vintage Norton motorcycle photo

Via Motorcycle.com.

The Origins of the Motorcycle

The origins of the motorcycle date back to 1867 when Calixto Rada invented a steam-cylinder engine and coupled it with a modified bicycle. Then in 1876, a German engineer named Nikolaus Otto invented the first internal combustion engine, paving the way for a multitude of motorized vehicles.

Another German engineer named Daimler manufactured the first motorcycle in history in 1885. It had a wooden frame, on which was mounted a combustion engine that transferred power to the rear wheel by a belt. The motor was located vertically between the two wheels.

The saddle was so high that the driver’s feet did not touch the ground. The spokes of the wheels of the Daimler were also made of wood, and the motorcycle was balanced with two small wheels fixed on each side.

Then, in 1894, Hildebrand and Wolfmüller presented the first motorcycle manufactured in series for specific commercial purposes in Munich.

During the same era, other motorcycle manufacturers became famous, such as Matchless (1899), Norton (1898), Indian (1901), and Harley Davidson (1903).

The first bikes had no gearbox or clutch, so to start, you had to run next to the bike and then jump on top of the saddle once the engine had started. In short, you played a game of skill just to not reach more than 25 mph.

In North America, it’s practically impossible to overlook motorcycles’ impact on culture. Almost as soon as these two-wheeled vehicles arrived, they developed a deep significance in the North American psyche. The result, brewed through decades of innovation and social movements, is what we know today as motorcycle culture across the western world.

Still, nowadays, there isn’t just one type of motorcycle culture. Instead, motorcycling is an incredibly diverse activity with many aspects and interest groups that vary from region to region.

How Motorcycle Culture in North America Differs from Europe & Australia

Bikers heading to Sturgis near mount Rushmore

Via Yahoo.

North America

Some differences between the American and European motorcycle cultures, for example, are more evident in how and why people ride—and on the bikes and apparel they choose to use. This stems from the different origins of the two movements.

While motorcycles had been around in the U.S. and Canada since the late nineteenth century, motorcycling really took off after World War II. Many returning veterans had difficulty re-adjusting to civilian life after their wartime experience.

Those traumatic experiences helped them develop a high-risk tolerance and made them feel more comfortable in the company of other men in dangerous situations. So, naturally, they gravitated to riding motorcycles. Some of these early riders even formed the motorcycle clubs and gangs that still exist today. Back then, riding a motorcycle in North America was a lifestyle choice.

One of the key factors here was that riding a motorcycle was an act of nonconformity to social norms or rebellion. Instead, the riders reveled in a tough-guy image and apparent disdain for personal safety.

This continues to some extent today. Many riders in North American motorcycle culture are fans of (or at least fascinated by) Harley-Davidsons, which have become a symbol of nonconformity and rebellion for several decades and an essential piece of Americana.

And while Harley Davidson doesn’t endorse motorcycle gangs, it doesn’t do much to distance itself from the scene. The reason for this might be that more hardcore enthusiasts account for a good number of Harley sales.

Still, although the motorcycle culture in the United States is mainly associated with Harleys since they represent approximately 30% of sales by brand, they are not the only popular motorcycles in this country.

Riding a dirt bike off-road

Via Swan Insurance.

There are also many extremely popular sports bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 400, dirt bikes like the Honda CRF450R, and even ATVs like the Yamaha Raptor 700R.

Regarding riding habits, California and Montana remain two of the only U.S. states to formally allow lane splitting or filtering. Still, researchers and motorcycle experts claim lane splitting can reduce traffic and improve roadway safety. Lane splitting is a contentious topic depending on where you are. American lane-splitting laws are very different from Canadian ones, for example.

As far as riding on the shoulder, that’s not legal in the U.S. (except in Hawaii). The shoulder may look inviting in stop-and-go rush hour traffic, but riding there is a bad idea in most of the United States.

Considering that motorcycles in the United States are more of a hobby than a means of transportation, it is not that common for them to be used to transport cargo. However, in many countries where motorcycles are a popular means of transportation, it is common to see them hauling things around. For example, in Mexico, they are the most common means of food delivery.

Motorcycles parked in European street

Via Revzilla.


As opposed to the motorcycle history in North America, the origin of European motorcycling had little to do with nonconformity or rebellion. Back then, fewer Europeans could afford automobiles in the decades after the war—and cars were less practical, since they often traveled to congested areas with narrow streets.

Since motorcyclists in Europe relied on their bikes for daily transportation, they also had to ride in all kinds of weather. So, their bikes and the apparel had to be reliable and practical rather than a statement of rebellion.

Nowadays, European motorcycles and motorcycle apparel tend to concentrate on innovative technology, performance, and especially safety rather than a retro aesthetic. You rarely see someone on a motorcycle without a helmet, other protective gear, extremely loud mufflers, or straight pipes.

European bikers are also likely to ride through rough weather conditions rather than putting up their bikes. And they’re much more likely to take safety courses and ride in a more conservative manner.

BMW F800 GS off-road

Via Dude Shopping.

In terms of popular motorcycle models in Europe, the ones that take the title of best-sellers are usually adventure motorcycles and scooters. For example, models like the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure or the Peugeot Kisbee 50 tend to be popular. Street bikes like Yamaha’s MT-09 are also best-sellers in Europe.

Unlike in the United States, motorcycling is very popular in Europe as a sport because the most important championships take place there—for example, look at the MotoGP or the FIM Superbike championships, where most of the races occur in Europe and only a few happen in other continents.

Regarding riding habits in Europe, things like lane filtering or splitting are often handled differently. Lane filtering is legal in many European countries. In some countries, motorcycle riders are expected to split lanes in city traffic and on the roads. However, lane splitting is sometimes frowned upon, especially in a few countries (like Germany). In those places, although it may still be legal to filter, there are strict rules.

In Europe, it is also more common to see motorcycles carrying cargo, particularly scooters and other small motorbikes used as workhorses—like in small shops with delivery services.

Member of Australian Christian motorcycle club

Via ABC.


Motorcycle culture is deeply rooted in Australia in terms of history, but not necessarily in terms of popularity. It shares some similar characteristics with how people in the United States tend to use these vehicles. Still, there are many differences in driving habits. Overall, motorcycles in this part of the world are relatively scarce since they are for personal and sporadic use.

A factor that can be dissuasive for Australians to use motorcycles instead of cars—compared to Europe, for instance—is that the conditions for riding a motorbike are slightly different in Australia. For example, the speed limits are lower, and the police are more aggressive. Also, there are different traffic rules.

For instance, lane filtering is legal (it wasn’t always like that), but you can only do it in low-speed traffic (like a traffic jam or at a light) and only if you’re going 20km/h (12 mph) or less. More than that, and you risk getting nabbed.

Australian motorcycle road trip, longest straight road

Via Gone Touring.

Another example of a cultural difference in using motorcycles is lane-changing etiquette. In Australia, other cars will typically slow down and let you in if you turn on your turn signal.

This cultural difference contrasts with using turn signals in the U.S., where other drivers might speed up and fill the gap instead of letting you in, making some people choose not to use turn signals or ride more aggressively to maneuver through traffic.

Some of the most popular motorcycles in Australia are dirt bikes like the Yamaha WR450F and the Kawasaki KLX110. Although you’ll see a fair amount of cruisers and touring bikes down under as well.

Vintage women motorcycle club

Via Woman Rider.

Motorcycles in the western world are very ingrained in popular culture—and the motorbike continues its evolution, whether as a hobby, a means of transportation, or even as a work tool. In some cases, like the United States, motorcycle sales have never been hotter. Recently released data shows the U.S. motorcycle industry is riding a more significant sales peak than it’s seen in 20 years.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Review: CFMOTO 800MT Touring

Somewhere over the past 17 years that Chinese-made CFMOTO motorcycles have been exported to Australia, they have morphed from cheap and cheerful transportation into good value.

Now, with the launch of their new 800MT range of Touring and Sport bikes, starting at $12,990, they have made another transformative leap — to a desirable adventure machine.

Largely due to their association with Austria’s KTM, CFMOTO motorcycles have improved their build quality while piling on the technology.

But more importantly they now seem to have a better understanding of discerning global markets that view motorcycles as more than mere transportation.

I have ridden just about every CFMOTO model imported into Australia in the past 17 years and have been impressed by how much bike you get for your buck.

In fact, maybe a bit too much bike as they are usually overweight.

Weight is still an issue in the 800MT Touring I have been testing. At 231kg, it’s plump for a mid-sized bike. Most of that heft is up high in the 19-litre fuel tank making it top heavy which is not ideal for an adventure bike, especially when the going is slow and technical.

But my other issues with past CFMOTO models — rudimentary suspension and minor glitches such as riding modes that don’t work and nonsensical instrument info — have been wiped out by the 800MT.

This bike simply entices with its quality of finish, high level of creature features and competent handling.

Look at this impressive array of standard features: cruise control, seat and handgrip warmers, rear wheel hugger, adjustable gear shifter, self-canceling indicators, LED lighting including fog/auxiliary lights, conveniently positioned USB and 12-volt chargers, two riding modes, slipper clutch, cornering ABS, crash bars, a huge iPad-sized TFT screen with comprehensive info, hand-adjustable windscreen, fully adjustable suspension, and even Bluetooth connectivity that provides simple navigation commands on the screen.

I wouldn’t be surprised if in a couple of months CFMOTO Australia doesn’t do a deal where they throw in luggage as they have done in the past with other models.

The 800MT range is their first non-learner model.

The Touring ($14,490) and Sport ($12,990) went on sale in January 2022, initially for customers who joined their pre-order campaign, which included $800 worth of free accessories. 

The campaign just about exhausted their initial shipment but they have since received more containers to crank up the stock levels again.

So far, the most popular model is the Touring model which adds tyre pressure monitoring, centrestand, up/down quickshifter, plastic handguards, luggage racks, alloy bashplate, steering damper and attractive “gold” wire-spoked wheels that accommodate tubeless tyres. They even feature handy right-angle valve stems.

Whew! That’s an exhaustive list of features on top of the already impressive array of standard equipment.

But is it all just frosting on a stale cake?
No, this is a fresh and exciting bike with capable performance, ride and handling for touring our wide, brown land.

That’s not to say there aren’t some drawbacks, apart from the top-heavy weight.

That weight issue should be of particular concern to any rider shorter than me.

At 183cm (6’), I have trouble putting my feet flat on the ground when stopped because of the tall 825mm seat. It’s not just the height, but the width that prevents you getting your heels on the ground.

On a couple of occasions I almost dropped the top-heavy bike when stopped on slippery or unstable surfaces.

You will also have to be careful about where you park the bike as the side stand is too short and it could topple over on a sloped or rough surface.

The 800MT range is powered by KTM’s 799cc parallel-twin engine that has been one of their best units for the past five years.

The twin is a capable unit, although the power band here is fairly narrow and you have to judiciously use the gears for stirring motivation.

It will pull strongly from 3200 revs, but loses breath about 5000, well short of the limiter at 9500rpm.

There is also a jerkiness in the throttle and a surging at constant throttle going about 50-60km/h. I believe there is a software fix coming for this.

The engine has little low-down torque for tricky off-road situations, though the low gearing helps.

However, its overall gearing is too low with the engine spinning at 4400revs at highway cruising speed (100km) in sixth gear.

That’s probably why the fuel economy is a disappointing 5.6 litres per 100km.

It’s not as low geared as the 700 range, but an optional sprocket for higher gearing would be welcome for Australian conditions.

Otherwise, the transmission with up and down clutchless quickshifter feels reasonably slick and functional, while the slipper clutch works well to prevent rear-wheel lockups on handfisted downshifts.

When you work the gears and run the engine hard there is an entertaining, but not annoying, growl from the exhaust.

The engine runs quite hot and there is a blast of hot air blown from the radiator directly on to your shins. While this is expectedly uncomfortable in slow-moving urban traffic, it is even noticeable out on the highway.

You will have to wear long boots, otherwise it could become intolerable in a Queensland summer. Of course in winter, it’s an advantage.

The 800MT comes with two riding modes: Sport and Rain. The latter dampens throttle response and is handy for slippery conditions such as wet roads or gravel. It helps compensate for the lack of traction control which many adventure riders may miss.

CFMOTO uses Spanish J.Juan brakes (now owned by Brembo) on most of its bikes and they are reasonable performers.

On the 800MT they feature twin discs up front which lack some initial bite, which is not an issue when riding on gravel.

If you hit the brakes hard in a panic stop, the hazard lights automatically flash which is a great safety feature that should be standard on all bikes.

The cornering ABS is also a worthy safety device that prevents the front tyre from slipping out from under you on a bend. 

The ABS does allows minor rear-wheel lockups that may be disconcerting for some but are handy for riding on dirt roads where the tyre tread needs to dig into the gravel.

Ride is on the plush side so it suits our bumpy urban streets as well as B-grade country roads.

Since the suspension is adjustable for compression, rebound and preload, most riders should be able to find suitable settings for their weight and riding style. However access to the rear shock preload adjuster with a C spanner is difficult as it is hidden under the tank and seat.

Steering is ponderous with a 19-inch front wheel and wide bars, but again this suits adventure riding for which it is intended.

Cruise control is a welcome addition and is easy to operate.

It can only be deactivated by hitting the brakes or pulling in the clutch, not rolling back the throttle.

I found it did allow the bike to drift over the set speed by up to 5km/h, even on a flat surface, so keep an eye on your speedo.

The massive TFT instruments have a plethora of information on the home screen which is great. No need to scroll through several screens to get all the info you want.

There are also several other screens for controlling a host of other functions such as the seat and hand grip warmers.

Surprisingly, you can change most of these settings on the fly which can be a distraction. 

You can also hook up the bike to the CFMOTO RIDE app, which is available across iOS and Android platforms. All you have to do is punch in the bike’s VIN to register on the app which also opens up the navigation function.

The 800MT has one of the biggest instrument screens on any bike and it is easy to read in most conditions, expect when the sun is shining directly on the screen.

Riders will find the 800MT has a neutral riding position with a plush seat that should see you comfortably through its 300+km fuel range without a break.

Pillions will also find their wide and flat perch very comfy with generous handles to grip.

The handlebars may be too high for some short riders, but you can easily roll them back for a more relaxed reach. You certainly won’t need bar risers to accommodate riding in the standing position across rough surfaces.

Those bars are also quite wide at 853mm which makes legal lane filtering tricky. 

Perched atop the bars are large truck-style mirrors which give a big and clear view behind but can snag on SUV wing mirrors in traffic.

The windscreen provides moderate protection and can be adjusted 5cm by turning two knobs on either side of the screen. It would have been better if it could be adjusted by just one knob or lever on the left so you can keep your right hand on the throttle grip.

Tall riders may experience some wind buffeting even in the highest position.

At night the LED headlight casts a very bright and white headlight with good dispersion and eyebrow-singeing high beam, especially when used with the auxiliary driving lights, although you will have to disable the auto light function.

Despite some shortcomings, this is now a desirable bike for Aussie adventure riders.

The 800MT competently fulfils its design intention to tour a variety of terrain. Just throw on some luggage and go chase the horizon. 

CFMOTO 800MT Tech Specs

Price $12,990 rideaway (Sport), $14,490 (Touring) 
Warranty 3 years, unlimited km
Engine Liquid-cooled 799cc parallel twin
Power 70kW @ 9000rpm
Torque 77Nm @ 7500rpm
Transmission Six-speed, slipper clutch, chain drive
Suspension  43mm KYB upside-down forks, fully adjustable, 160mm travel; KYB mono shock rear, fully adjustable, 150mm travel
Brakes 320mm twin discs, J.Juan 4-piston radial callipers; 260mm rear disc, J.Juan twin-piston calliper, cornering ABS
Wheels 19×2.5; 17×4.25 cast
Tyres Maxxis tubeless 110/90-19; 150/70/17
Wet weight 231kg
Wheelbase 1531mm
Seat 825mm
Clearance 190mm
Length 2234mm
Width 853mm
Height 1277mm
Fuel 19 litres

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Harley-Davidson brings back the Night

Harley-Davidson is replacing the old-favourite 883 Sportster with a new liquid-cooled 975cc Nightster.

It is arriving now in Australian and New Zealand showrooms at $A23,995 in black ($NZ25,495) and $A24,300 in grey or red ($26,330).

This is the first of the 975cc versions of the liquid-cooled Revolution 1250cc engines which have been fitted to the new Pan America adventure bike and the Sportster S which replaced the 1200cc Sportsters.

Consequently we can soon expect a 975cc Pan America version in the showrooms.

Meanwhile, the “Night” moniker which is familiar from the old Night Train and Night Rod is returning with the entry level 975 Nightster.

It is powered by a 975cc version of the Revolution V-twin with 67kW of power, which is a massive set down in power from the Pan America with 112kW of power and the downtuned Sportster S at 90kW.

However, the interesting thing is that Harley even nominates a power rating which they had rarely done before the advent of these new motors.

More importantly, the new motor packs 95Nm of usable torque at just 5000 revs.

Harley says it has less mechanical noise thanks to hydraulic valve lash adjustment which also reduces service costs, although I see service intervals are still at 8000km.

The balanced engine also now runs smoother than the juddering 883 Sportsters.

Other features of the bike are mid-foot controls, low-rise bars and a low 705mm seat which means the rider sits “in” the bike rather than “on” it like with new Sportster S.

Compared with its bigger Sportster S brother, there are no bronze accents, the pipes are lower and leaner, and there is a more conventional round headlight set into a mini cowl.

Harley says the engine is a structural component of the chassis and the tail section is aluminium which both help to reduce weight, yet it still weighs in at 218kg with a full 11.7-litre tank.

Actually the “tank” is an airbox and the fuel is stored in a plastic tank under the seat for a lower centre of gravity. There is no fuel cap as such with the filler hidden under the hinged solo seat.

The company has again employed the tried and trusted 41mm Showa Dual Bending Valve conventional forks and twin emulsion-technology shock absorbers with coil springs.

Lean angle is now 32 degrees which is similar to the Softail models.

Company boss Jochen Zeitz describes the Nightster as “a canvas for creativity and personalisation”, which usually is code for “basic”.

However, Nightster comes with a suite of electronic rider aids including traction control, a torque-slip control to prevent rear wheel lockups under downshifts and three engine modes.

All can be controlled via buttons on the handlebars.

The 4.0-inch round analogue speedometer is augmented by an inset multi-function LCD display on the handlebar riser. 

It comes with LED lighting including their literally brilliant Daymaker headlight.

Harley-Davidson Nightster with accessories

As expected, there is a host of dedicated accessories including higher bars and a pillion seat.

Harley-Davidson Nightster tech specs

Price $A23,995 in black ($NZ25,495), $A24,300 in grey or red ($26,330).
Warranty  2 years, unlimited km
Service  1600/8000km
Engine 975cc Revolution Max
Power 67kW @ 7500rpm
Torque 95Nm @ 5000rpm
Economy 4.5L/100km
Transmission 6-speed,belt drive
Suspension  41mm Show forks; twin shocks
Brakes 320mm disc, 4-piston caliper; 260mm disc, single-piston calliper
Length 2206mm
Width 836mm
Height 1108mm
Seat 705mm
Wheelbase 1556mm
Tyres 100/90-19;150/80-16 Dunlop HD Series
Fuel 11.7L
Wet weight 218kg

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Aprilia Tuareg 660 arrives in Australia

Aprilia has added a third family to its new 660 range with the Tuareg 660 and Tuareg 660 L adventure models arriving in Australia this year.

The unrestricted Tuareg 660 arrives in May/June from $22,230 rideaway while the downtuned L “learner approved” model is coming in July with pricing yet to be confirmed.

Both come in a choice of Acid Gold, Martian Red or Indaco Tagelmust which is indigo (dark blue) and white and red, reflecting Aprila’s 1980s Dakar Rally race bikes. The latter colour scheme adds $300 to the price.

Powered by the 660 twin-cylinder engine from the naked Touno 660 and RS 660 sports bike, the Tuareg 660 outputs the 58.8kW of power at 10,500 revs which is down from the 75kW off the other models.

More importantly, torque is 3Nm higher at 70Nm of torque and the maximum output comes on at 6500rpm which is 2000 revs less.

The L model is restricted for Australian LAMS rules to 35kW and 61Nm.

These mid-sized Touareg models pay homage to the first Aprilia Tuareg ETX 125 in 1985 and the bikes that unsuccessfully contest the famous Dakar Rally in the 1980s.

Both feature a steel frame with the engine stress-mounted and a double aluminium swingarm.

Despite its thin frame, it still thankfully accommodates as generous 18-litre tank that will ensure it can conquer the vast distances of the Aussie outback between servos.

These adventure bikes sit on off-road oriented 2.5 x 21-inch front and 4.5 x 18-inch rear rims shod with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, 90/90 up front and 150/70 in the rear.

They feature Brembo brakes with 300mm double discs and a 260mm disnlge disc on the back.

They come with an host of electric ic rider aids to help conquer the varied conditions of our country.

The Aprilia Performance Ride Control (APRC) electronic controls package includes:

  • ATC: Aprilia Traction Control, that can be adjusted to 4 levels or disabled;
  • ACC: Aprilia Cruise Control;
  • AEB: Aprilia Engine Brake to prevent rear-wheel lock up on downshifts, adjustable to 3 levels.
  • AEM: Aprilia Engine Map, 3 different mappings for throttle response, but do not change the maximum power delivered.  

You can also option up with an AQS: Aprilia Quick Shift electronic gearbox for clutchless shifts up or down the ratios.

There are four Riding Modes that adjust settings for traction control, engine brake, ABS and all the other managed parameters.

Urban and Explore are dedicated to street riding with ABS on, while Off-Road disables ABS on the rear and Individual lets you fully personalise the electronic controls.

You can control everything via controls mounted on the left and right switch blocks with info scrolled through the TFT screen.

The instruments also feature Aralia’s multimedia platform so you connect your smartphone and controls phone calls, sat nav and music.

Aprilia has also developed a range of special accessories such as protection, lighting, comfort seats and luggage systems as well as a line of adventure riding gear.

Tuareg 660 and Tuareg 660 L

Engine Aprilia forward-facing twin-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid cooled, dual overhead cam (DOHC) with silent chain drive on the right side, four valve per cylinder.
Bore and stroke 81 x 63.93mm
Engine capacity  659cc
Compression 13.5:1
Power 58.8kW (35kW L) @ 9250rpm 
Torque 70Nm (61Nm L) @ 6500rpm 
Fuel system Airbox with front air vent. 2 48mm throttle bodies, Ride-by-wire management
Ignition Electric 
Lubrication Wet sump 
Transmission Six-speed, Aprilia Quick Shift (AQS) System up and down available as accessory
Clutch Multiplate wet clutch with slipper system
Secondary drive Chain, drive ratio 15/42 
Electronics APRC Suite that includes ATC (traction control), AEB (engine brake) AEM (engine maps), ACC (cruise control) 

Four riding modes (Urban, Explore, Off-road, Individual)

Chassis Frame in steel tubing and built-in subframe screwed aluminium plates connecting the frame to the engine
Front suspension Fully adjustable 43mm upside-down Kayaba fork with counterspring. Wheel travel: 240mm
Rear suspension Aluminium swingarm. Progressive linkage. Fully adjustable Kayaba monoshock. Wheel travel: 240mm
Front brake

Rear brake


300mm double disc 

Brembo callipers with 4 horizontally opposed 30/32mm pistons. Axial pump and metal braided brake line

260mm diameter disc; Brembo single piston 34mm floating calliper. Master cylinder with separate reservoir and metal braided hose

Multimap ABS

Wheels spoked with aluminium drop centre Front: 2.15×21-inch, Rear: 4.25×18-inch
Tyres Tubeless, Front: 90/90-21, Rear: 150/70 R 18
Dimensions Wheelbase: 1525mm 

Length: 2220mm 

Width: 965mm

Saddle height: 860mm 

Headstock angle: 26.7 degrees

Trail: 113.3mm

Weight  204kg kerb weight (187kg dry weight) 
Emissions compliance


Euro 5 

4.0 litres/100 km 

CO2 emissions 99g/km 
Fuel tank capacity

Colour range

18 litres (3-litre reserve)

Indaco Tagelmust, Martian Red, Acid Gold

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Review: BMW S 1000 R M-Sport

Many auto companies have motorsport editions of their production vehicles with an host of modifications and sporty extras.

Mercedes has AMG, Toyota has TRD, while Holden had HSV until 2020 and Ford stopped their FPV range in 2014.

BMW’s “M” for “Motorsport” started as a purely racing venture in the 1960s but gradually began spreading to production models.

The M model code stood for performance with more powerful engines, better suspension and brakes, plus styling touches including M badging featuring the iconic light blue, dark blue and red stripes.

Now BMW has extended its M range from cars to motorcycles, first with the S 1000 RR M sports bike in 2018 and the S 1000 R M-Sport street fighter in 2022.

Some critics claim the performance features of M badged cars has been lacking in recent years and that the badging has become a cynical styling exercise.

In the motorcycle division, BMW M badging on the S 1000 RR means special paint, carbon fibre wheels, a lighter battery, a sport seat, and rear ride height adjustability.

No changes to engine, brakes or suspension, although it has to be said that the S 1000 RR is already a potent performer.

Now the S 1000 R gets a similar M treatment with carbon fibre wheels and highlights, BMW’s quick shift pro, Akrapovič exhaust, endurance chain, lightweight battery, extra screen info and M badging. It’s also about 5kg lighter than the standard model at a lithe 194kg.

The “base model” S 1000 R costs $20,650 (plus on-road costs), the S 1000 R Sport is $24,390, S 1000 R Race costs $26,890 and the M, which is based on the Sport, costs $31,990.

Considering aftermarket carbon-fibre wheels would cost about $5000, an Akrapovič exhaust is about $1700 and the lighter battery and endurance chain add a few hundred dollars more, the premium for the M over the Sport is about right.

Besides, you will have a bike that is rare and exclusive.

You will also have a bike that you can ride to the track on Sunday to unleash its enormous performance potential, then commute to work on Monday.

Unlike many performance bikes which are unrideable unless you are on the limit, this has excellent real-world road manners, agile yet forgiving ride characteristics and a smooth and faultless transmission with anti-hopping clutch.

The R version of the sportsbike’s water-cooled four-cylinder in-line 999cc engine is “downtuned” from 152kW at 13,500 revs to 121kW with just 1Nm more of torque at 114Nm.

It’s a mechanically quiet, but stirring unit that spins up quickly and smoothly with plenty of meat right throughout the range and an unbelievably dizzying response once it revs above 7000.

Riders can chose from four engine modes (Rain, Road, Dynamic and Dynamics Pro) to compliment terrain and riding style.

The electronics package is complemented by Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) so you can harness the brute power without drama.

And for those who want to tour the countryside in Road mode at a more sedate and comfortable scenery-watching pace, there is cruise control, hand warmers, self-cancelling indicators and semi-active suspension which you can adjust for pillion and rider behaviour.

Rounding out the suite of high tech are LED lighting, keyless ignition, tyre pressure monitor and the motorcycle version of BMW’s iDrive with a rotating ring controller on the left handlebar.

It allows the rider to scroll through and modify so many of the parameters of the bike, check on its status and even engage a pit-lane limiter and lap timer for track days.

You can also modify the look and info of the large iPad-style TFT screen which is one of the biggest and clearest on any motorcycle I’ve ridden with hardly any annoying glare from the sun. Why can’t all motorcycle screens be as good?

The 2022 S 1000 R range already features many updates that make it a better performer, including lighter drive and chassis, engine drag torque control (MSR) to prevent rear-wheel lock-ups under downshifts and improved suspension with Flex Frame construction.

But it is the carbon fibre wheels which make the biggest difference in the M model.

If you’ve never ridden a bike with these lightweight cannon fibre wheels, you are missing a treat.

They not only look superb, but affect so much of the bike’s performance.

With less weight, there is less inertia which means faster acceleration, quicker stopping times, lighter and more accurate steering, plus faster change of direction.

The suspension also works better because there is less mass for the springs and shock absorbers to deal with.

So it rides the bumps easier and is more efficient at keeping the wheels on the road over corrugations.

It’s not a plush ride, though. After all, this is a thoroughbred sporting machine, so the ride is firm, yet fair.

So is the M sport seat. It’s good for a tank full of fuel (16.5 litres at 6.2L/100km) by which stage you will want to stretch and massage your buttocks.

The ride position is less aggressive than the RR thanks to the wide bars which have a slight downward bend and are not too wide for lane filtering duties.

That’s what makes this bike a great allrounder for those who want a track-day tool that can also handle a weekend ride through the back roads and the daily commute.

BMW S 1000 R M tech specs

  • Price: $31,990 + ORC
  • Warranty: 2 years/unlimited km.
  • Engine: water-cooled, 999cc, in-line four-cylinder.
  • Power: 121kW @ 11,000rpm
  • Torque: 114Nm @ 9250rpm.
  • Gearbox: 6-speed, chain drive.
  • Weight: 194kg.
  • Suspension front/rear: 45mm upside-down fork, fully adjustable, 120mm travel; rear shock with compression and damping adjustment and semi-active preload, 117mm travel.
  • Brakes front/rear: 320mm discs with four-piston fixed caliper; 220mm disc with one-piston floating caliper , ABS Pro.
  • Dimensions: 2090mm (L); 812mm (W); 1115mm (H); 1450mm (WB); 830mm (S)

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Indian release race-inspired FTR 1200

Indian Motorcycles has released a limited edition of its FTR1200 to celebrate five years of victories in the US flat track championships.

The range starts in Australia at $A20,995 and the new Championship Edition is based on the flagship Carbon model at $25,995 with carbonfibre fenders, tank, airbox cover, headlight and tail cowls, but not wheels, plus titanium Akrapovic exhaust.

For an extra $1000, the Championship Edition has a race paint scheme and badging, and 19″/18″ wheel set up like their race replica model.

Price could be more than that as you can personalise the bike with your own accessories.

Only 400 will be available globally and it appears you have to order online here and submit it to your local dealer who will contact you to confirm details and availability.

The FTR Family is powered by a V-twin with 120Nm of torque and 92kW of power.

Other features include a 4.3-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity; fully adjustable forks and piggyback rear shock; Sport, Standard, and Rain modes with different throttle maps and traction control levels; lean-angle stability control; ABS with cornering pre-control; and wheelie control with rear lift mitigation.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Review: Fonzarelli NKDs electric bike

Happy Days fans are in for a rude shock … Arthur Fonzarelli couldn’t actually ride!

Yes, that’s right, Henry Winkler, the actor who played Fonzie or “The Fonze” in the Happy Days TV series from 1974-84 couldn’t ride a motorcycle.

Henry Winkler as the Fonze or Fonzie in Happy Days on the Triumph TR5 up for sale on eBay
Henry Winkler as the Fonze on a Triumph TR5

He crashed several times in shooting, found Harleys too heavy to handle and blamed his inability to co-ordinate clutch, brake and throttle on his dyslexia.

Fast forward from the ‘50s era show to the 2020s and swap Fonzie’s Harleys and Triumphs for the first Australian electric motorcycle named in his honour and he might have been just fine.

The Fonzie NKD is a midi-sized hybrid scooter/motorcycle with twist-and-go automatic transmission and a light weight of just 101kg.

Even the dyslexic Fonzie surely couldn’t fail to ride this bike.

The Fonzie NKD is assembled in Redfern, Sydney, and comes in several models ranging in price from $8990 to $16,990.

The entry level NKDa is a city commuter bike with a top speed of 80km/h and 50km of range.

My test bike is the NKDs with 100km/h top speed and 100km of city range. In matte black with Pirelli dual-sport tyres it costs $11,365.

The NKD+ and NKDx also have a 100km/h stop speed but increased city range of 150km and 200km.

Selecting options such as tyres, saddle and handgrips will increase the price.

You can’t actually buy one off the floor. Instead, you have to order and wait about three months for it to be built to your spec.

Included in the price is contactless ignition, a phone charger, LED lights, adjustable footpegs and even reverse gear although I have no idea why you would ever need it on a bike this light.

For $11,365 I found the instruments crude and simple, the adjustable suspension rather basic and the finish fairly “industrial”.

While the Fonzie NKD may be named after TV’s coolest hero, its styling is as far from the slick-haired, leather-jacketed rocker as you can get.

It’s got a modern “urban construction site” look with exposed wiring, painted sheet metal panels and fenders, and exposed tubular chromoly frame.

While the NKD is diminutive by comparison with most motorcycles, it is neither a mini-bike nor a monkey bike.

The NKD is probably best referred to as a midi-bike. 

It sits on smallish 12-inch wheels, has a motorcycle-type body and features scooter-style front and rear brake levers on the handlebars with no clutch or foot brake.

Even though it looks on the small side, it should suit all but the tallest rider. I stand 183cm, yet I felt quite comfortable and relaxed on the bike, although the seat is a little on the firm side.

Not that a hard seat is a drawback as the limited range means you won’t be seated for long.

Like the price, the range is flexible and depends on many factors.

While a petrol bike has greater range on the highway than the city, the reverse is true with all electric vehicles.

I found I could only get about 60km of range when cruising down the highway, but close to the 100km in urban riding.

That’s because of the brake regeneration capturing kinetic energy to recharge the Panasonic Lithium-Ion 3.5kWh battery.

Cleverly the Fonzie crew have added a little red lever on the brakes which allows you to select the amount of regenerative braking you want from coasting through to heavy retardation.

It takes some time to get your head around the range issue and a lot of trial and error. 

Twice I was caught out limping the bike home as the battery light flashed red at me.

That can be quite unnerving as there is little you can do when you run out of battery. It is not as if you can walk to a servo and get a can of fuel to get you home again.

Range is also affected by your riding behaviour, hilly terrain, temperatures (you go further when it’s warm), rider and pillion load, and the amount of constant throttle such as on a highway.

There are selectable three riding modes (Eco, Street and Beast) which will also affect range as well as throttle response.

Charging takes several hours to go from flat to full. It comes with a bulky external charger which will plug into any AC outlet. You can also buy an onboard charger compatible with EV charging infrastructure so you can charge while away from home.

The claimed top speed of 100km/h for the NKDs is also flexible.

I accidentally nudged 115km/h on a downhill section of highway before I realised and rolled off the throttle.

Happiest going downhill

Acceleration off the line is brisk like most electric vehicles as you have instant maximum torque as soon as you twist the throttle.

Beating Porsches at the traffic lights is a no-brainer — at least for the first 50m.

After that, throttle response becomes fairly limp and roll-on acceleration for passing is a slow affair.

However, you will have no trouble running with the traffic in most situations.

Of more concern was the slight hesitation and hiccuping in the throttle on my test bike.

10 Best Touring Motorcycles 2021

When throttling on from the traffic lights, there is a moment’s hesitation before sudden torque that almost pulls your hands off the grips, so hold on tight.

You get used to this.

But on several occasions I experienced throttle hesitation and even hiccuping or “bunny hopping” when accelerating at slow speed. That could just be an issue with this bike that could be adjusted by on the controller.

Despite the scooter-sized 12-inch wheels, the NKDs handles potholes way better than many scooters.

There is no nervousness or kickback in the steering thanks to the wide handlebars, conventional forks and single rear shock.

However, handling and ride comfort are compromised by the basic rear shock, adjustable for compression only.

It’s fine for most urban duties and surprisingly stable on the highways even when being buffeted by trucks.

The single disc front brakes are ample for this size bike, but I was surprised there is no ABS.

There is minimal underseat storage unlike most scooters and nowhere to hang your helmet, but there is a pillion perch where you can tie down some luggage.

You can also buy a lockable tank tag to store gloves, phone, etc.

On my test bike the mirrors were placed underneath the bars which looks cool but is impractical as you have to lift your hands to see what’s behind you.

Similarly the bar-end indicators look cool, but your hands can slightly obscure them.

The instruments are cheap and nasty looking and have so much reflective glare from the sky that it is difficult to see what speed you are going. 

I quite enjoy the quiet operation of an electric motorcycle and this is especially quiet with its belt drive.

I’m sure the neighbours had no problems with me tearing around a slippery grass paddock on the Pirelli dual sport tyres. I had a blast without blasting the neighbours!

Riding a quiet electric bike also allows you to enjoy your surrounds a little more and relax, as well as being more observant to traffic noise that could be a safety hazard.

Or you can use your helmet intercom to enjoy some classic rock and roll while riding without the angry noise of an engine and exhaust pipe to drown out the music.

Happy Days indeed!

Key facts

  • Price: $A11,365
  • Warranty: 2 years/10,000 km.
  • Motor:  Mid-drive permanent magnet three-phase brushless.
  • Power: 9.6kW.
  • Top Speed: 100km/h (claimed), 115km/h (tested).
  • City range: 100km (claimed).
  • Gearbox: automatic, belt drive. 
  • Weight: 101kg.
  • Suspension front/rear: Adjustable hydraulic telescopic fork; adjustable mono shock with remote reservoir.
  • Brakes front/rear: hydraulic 220mm disc brakes, adjustable levers, regenerative braking.
  • Dimensions: 1930mm (L); 810mm (W); 1140mm (H); 1340mm (WB); 860mm (S).

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Review: Harley-Davidson Fat Bob S

Harley fans thought the world was coming to an end in 2017 when Harley-Davidson axed the popular Dyna family and married those models with the new Softail family.

They loved the handling of the twin-shock models and enjoyed the comical shaking character character of the unbalanced engine that vibrated madly on its rubber mounts. 

Some may miss that. I certainly don’t.

Not since the new-era Fat Bob with its slick 107 and 114 Milwaukee engines, stiffer frame, lighter weight, plus single shock and upside fork suspension.

It is now smoother, more sophisticated, more powerful and better handling with more cornering clearance.

Quite simply the world did not come to an end!

For 2022 the only change to the Fat Bob is a “waterslide” fuel tank graphic in an oval shape with “H-D” on the lower edge and the absence of the 107 model, leaving just the Fat Bob S with the whopping 114 torque monster drivetrain.

However, improved factory settings and fine-tuning seems to have made the bike even better.

The suspension feels a little better suited to our conditions and the drivetrain is slightly slicker with less mechanical noise and neutral easier to find.

The new-era FXFBS Softail Fat Bob S cost $A30,250 when it was launched and dropped to $29,995 last year. For 2022 it’s up to $31,750.

It’s my pick of the new Softails for its menacing looks and performance.

Dyna fans may bemoan the loss of the unbalanced engine, but they will love the fact that the Fat Bob S is now a much improved performer and handler.

In fact, I have taken a previous Fat Bob to Lakeside Raceway in Brisbane’s north and startled many track-day riders as I passed them thundering out of corners on the massive 160Nm of torque that had that 180mm rear Dunlop leaving thick black lines on the track.

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

I sheepishly retired the bike by lunchtime as I had simply run out of rubber!

Somehow the upside-down 43mm forks, slanted single hand-adjustable shock and high-profile rubber works just fine on this bike while a similar configuration on the new Sportster S doesn’t.

Of course, cornering clearance is an issue on all cruisers, but this is a little better with upswept single-sided dual exhaust pipes and lean angles of 31 degrees on the right and 32 on the left.

Upswept pipes

You can tip in with confidence, too, because the stiffer frame means there is no wallowing in corners, even when you hit corrugations.

It also changes direction more nimbly than the tyre specs would suggest thanks to sharper steering geometry.

And the Fat Bob S rides the crusty back roads of Australia better with only a shudder rather than an earthquake shock.

I find it a comfortable riding position with a firm but well-shaped saddle although the reach to the drag bears might be a bit far for shorter riders.

Apart from being slicker, the powerful 114 engine is also more economical and cooler which is handy in slow-moving commuter traffic on a hot summer’s day.

Interestingly, Harley never used to provide power figures, only torque. But now that they have water-cooled engines on their new Revolution models, they are providing power figures for all their models.

It might be a relatively modest 71kW, but it comes in at 4750 revs and tears at your arm sockets under hard acceleration.

The hard-mounted engine also feels smoother thanks to it being 100% balanced with a secondary balancer.

The most confronting element in the Fat Bob’s styling over the past few years has been the move from twin circular headlights to a horizontal rectangular shape with rounded edges.

I’m now starting to warm to the unique LED headlight tucked inside a neat, gloss-black pillar-box nacelle.

However, I’m not such a fan of the bronzed header pipe covers and the silver “rattle-can” painted mufflers.

Like all new Softails, it comes with new keyless ignition, more comfortable seats and new wheel designs.

2022 Harley-Davidson FXFBS Fat Bob S 114 tech specs

Price $A31,750
Warranty 2 years/unlimited km
Service 1600/8000km
Engine Milwaukee-Eight 114 (1868cc)
Power 71kW @ 4750rpm
Torque 160Nm @ 3500rpm
Transmission 6-speed, belt drive
Length 2340mm
Height 1110mm
Seat 710mm
Wheelbase 1615mm
Tyres 150/80-16,71H,BW; 180/70B16,77H,BW Dunlops
Fuel 13.21L
Wet weight 306kg
Suspension USD 43mm forks; single shock
Brakes 300mm dual front discs; 292mm rear disc

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Ducati joins furniture company for XDiavel Nera

Black paint and an Italian leather saddle made by an exclusive company that specialises in home furnishings as well as yachts and luxury cars makes the XDiavel Nera their most expensive power cruiser yet.

The handsome cruiser will be available in Australia and New Zealand in the third quarter of 2022. 

But the black colour scheme and opulent leather seat, available in a choice of five colours, will add about $7000 to the price.

Ducati Australia says the ride away price of the Nera will be $A44,900 ($NZ46,890).  But get in quick as the bike will be limited to 500 numbered units.

The most exclusive feature of the bike will be the seat which is leather wrapped seat by Poltrona Frau Interiors in Motion.

The company has been making luxury leather products since 1912.

It comes in a choice of Siam Red, Steel Blue, Cemento (grey), India (tan) and Selva (grey) with a matching key ring and document holder.

While the seats look opulent, there is debate about whether leather is better than vinyl.

Certainly, you must look after a leather seat more, dressing it regularly with lanolin or other oil, otherwise it will crack and discolour in the sun.

Apart from the opulent Italian leather seat and black paintwork, there are splashes of iconic Ducati red on the brake calipers and engine head covers and machine-forged black rims. 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com