Yamaha has taken the wraps off its latest-generation flagship sportbikes, the 2020 YZF-R1 and the track-ready YZF-R1M, with both featuring refinements to their CP4 crossplane crankshaft engines, an augmented electronic rider aids package, enhanced suspension and redesigned bodywork.
The 998cc inline-four powering the R1/M was already potent, and for 2020 it gets new cylinder heads, fuel injectors, finger-follower rocker arms and camshaft profiles. Controlling the beast is an all-new Accelerator Position Sensor with Grip (APSG) ride-by-wire system with Yamaha’s Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) that eliminates throttle cables and reduces weight while providing smoother throttle operation.
A robust electronics package centered around Yamaha’s proprietary six-axis IMU now lets riders choose between two intervention modes for enhanced Brake Control (BC): BC1 is optimized for upright, straight-line braking and BC2 increases intervention timing deeper into the lean, for enhanced braking into corners.
A new Engine Brake Management (EBM) system also allows the rider to select between three levels of engine braking force. Both the BC and EBM are adjustable through the onboard Yamaha Ride Control and Yamaha’s Y-TRAC smartphone (Android only) and tablet app (Android and iOS).
Premium Öhlins Electronic Racing Suspension (ERS) has been a staple of the R1M’s chassis performance, and a new NPX pressurized front fork with a gas cylinder built into the front fork axle bracket, along with revised rear shock settings to complement the performance of the front fork, are features of the new 2020 model.
The 2020 YZF-R1 also receives suspension performance enhancements courtesy of a new KYB front fork with a new internal shim stack design and a KYB rear shock with revised internal settings. Together, the changes result in smoother suspension dampening paired with an improved feeling of contact and grip with the street or track surface.
Lastly, redesigned bodywork creates a claimed 5.3-percent increase in aerodynamic efficiency while reducing wind noise and pressure on the rider when in a tucked position, and improved comfort comes from smoother side section where the rider’s legs contact the bike. The R1M also gets a new carbon fiber tail cowl.
The 2020 YZF-R1M will initially be available in limited quantities exclusively through Yamaha’s online reservation system in a Carbon Fiber color scheme for $26,099. Dealerships will begin receiving reserved orders in September. To place a reservation, click here.
The 2020 YZF-R1 will be available in Team Yamaha Blue or Raven for $17,300, and will begin arriving in dealerships in September.
On any list
of iconic motorcycles of the 20th century, Ducati’s 916 holds a place of
prominence. Delivering the 1-2 knockout punches of stunning good looks and
blistering performance, the 916, which debuted for 1994, is considered one of
the most beautiful motorcycles ever designed. The beauty was also a beast,
winning 120 races, eight constructors’ titles and six rider championships in
World Superbike during its 10-year production run, which includes the
larger-displacement 996 and 998 models. Closely associated with the 916 is
British racer Carl “Foggy” Fogarty, who won 43 World Superbike races and four
championships on the 916 and 996.
To celebrate the 916’s 25th anniversary, Ducati has unveiled a limited-edition Panigale V4 25° Anniversario 916. Based on the Panigale V4 S, the 25th Anniversary edition has been upgraded with racing content from the Panigale V4 R such as the Ducati Corse Front Frame, the dry clutch and even more track-specific electronics, such as Ducati Quick Shift EVO 2 and “predictive” Ducati Traction Control EVO 2.
Panigale’s livery is inspired by the Ducati 996 SBK (winner of the 1999 World
Superbike Championship) with forged magnesium Marchesini Racing wheels, a titanium
type-approved Akrapovič exhaust and a wish list of carbon fiber and billet
aluminum components. Limited to just 500 examples, each bike comes with an
authenticity certificate that matches the laser-engraved ID number (XXX/500) on
the top yoke with the engine and frame serial number.
equipment for the Panigale V4 25° Anniversario 916:
“916 25° Anniversario” color scheme
Numbered (xxx/500) machined-from-solid aluminum top yoke
Front Frame with Ducati Corse specifications
Two-tone rider’s seat
Forged magnesium Marchesini Racing wheels
Titanium Akrapovič type-approved silencer
Ducati Traction Control EVO 2 (DTC EVO 2)
Ducati Quick Shift EVO 2 (DQS EVO 2)
Carbon fiber front mudguard
Carbon fiber rear mudguard
Carbon fiber heel guards
Carbon fiber/titanium swingarm cover
Adjustable billet aluminum rider footpegs
Billet aluminum folding clutch and brake levers
Brake lever guard (supplied)
Ducati Data Analyser+ (DDA+) kit with GPS module (supplied)
Open carbon fiber clutch cover (supplied)
Special “25° Anniversario 916” bike cover (supplied)
Billet aluminum racing-type filler cap (supplied)
Plate holder removal cover (supplied)
Billet aluminum rear view mirror plugs (supplied)
“Shell” and “Foggy” logo stickers (supplied)
V4 25° Anniversario 916 is powered by the 1,103cc Desmosedici Stradale. A
MotoGP-derived 90-degree V4 with Desmodromic timing, it features a
counter-rotating crankshaft and a Twin Pulse firing order, and it produces 214
horsepower at 13,000 rpm and 91 lb-ft of torque at 10,000 rpm. The engine is
enhanced with the adoption of a dry clutch and type-approved titanium Akrapovič
chassis viewpoint, the Panigale V4 25° Anniversario 916 has it all. The front
frame, which exploits the Desmosedici Stradale engine as a structural chassis
element, is the same as the one on the Panigale V4 R but differs slightly on
account of the lighter, machined sides. The frame is coupled to an Öhlins
NIX-30 fork, an Öhlins TTX36 rear shock and an Öhlins steering damper, all
managed by the Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 control system. This gives the rider access
to next-level dynamic bike control, augmenting on-road safety and shortening
on-track lap times. Ultralight forged magnesium Marchesini Racing wheels carry top-drawer
brakes, with two 330mm Brembo discs with Brembo Stylema monoblock front calipers
and a single 245mm disc with a 2-piston caliper at the rear.
V4 25° Anniversario 916 has a latest-generation electronics package. Based on a
6-axis Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), it features controls designed to
manage every aspect of riding. The electronic package includes:
Bosch Cornering ABS EVO
Ducati Traction Control EVO 2 (DTC EVO 2)
Ducati Slide Control (DSC)
Ducati Wheelie Control EVO (DWC EVO)
Ducati Power Launch (DPL)
Ducati Quick Shift up/down EVO 2 (DQS EVO 2)
Engine Brake Control EVO (EBC EVO)
Ducati Electronic Suspension EVO (DES EVO)
the Panigale V4 25° Anniversario 916 comes with the Ducati Data Analyser+
(DDA+) kit with GPS module. DDA+ is a telemetry system. Similar to those used
in competitions, it consists of a data acquisition device (via CAN line) and
analysis software that takes its inspiration from professional programs. The
device records ride parameters such as cornering lines, RPM, gear, throttle
aperture angle, front brake pressure, DTC intervention etc. and geo-locates
them on the track. Once disconnected from the bike and connected to the PC via
the USB port, the software lets the user upload the acquired data feeds and
analyse on-track performance.
Raw and bare, stripped of all the arguably distracting bells and whistles that Bluetooth-connected, GPS-dependent riders have been coddled with, Harley’s new FLHT Electra Glide Standard is the epitome of simplicity. As a mid-year release, the bike signifies a back-to-basics, cut-the-fat approach geared to attract riders at a reasonable $18,999. Compared to the Electra Glide Ultra’s $24,589 or the Street Glide’s $21,289, the Standard is the lowest-priced offering in H-D’s touring line.
Described as a dressed down dresser, the Electra Glide Standard does away with the radio and instead depends on the ultra-smooth Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-twin to set the tempo. Importantly, the iconic batwing fairing with a clear, mid-height windshield and a single halogen headlight are retained, though its foam-covered speaker holes are empty as is the gaping slot for the LCD screen, which now serves as a phone or glove holder during pit stops.
The dished solo seat sits at 26.1 inches, which made it extremely comfortable for my 6-foot-3 build. With a minimalist amount of chrome, the bike maintains a sleek and intimidating look that will still turn heads with the purity of its black paint job (and it only comes in Vivid Black).
The Electra Glide Standard comes with large One Touch saddlebags. spacious floorboards and a standard shift lever in place of the usual heel-toe shifter. Its naked front fender covers a 17-inch black machined Impeller wheel that is accented by chrome fork skirts.
Handling was impressive at all speeds during a daylong press ride through Florida’s swampland near Daytona Beach. The fat 130/80 front tire meant I had to put a little more effort into steering it, but the still-nimble, 820-pound bike felt firmly connected to the asphalt. With 26 degrees of rake and 6.7 inches of trail, it provides stable, comfortable cruising for days, especially with the Showa Dual Bending Valve front fork and dual emulsion shocks in the back.
This no-frills bike is not for beginners, nor is it billed as such. It is an attractive and attractively priced piece of American iron that will appeal to a wide swath of financially conscious riders. It gives a rider the basics that matter to get them out on the open road or into a dealership. And it is prepped to be incrementally customized as riding seasons pass–a deliberate Harley marketing plan.
The streamlined beauty and Milwaukee-Eight power should hopefully make the Electra Glide Standard a lasting hit in Harley’s touring line.
Kali Kotoski is the Managing Editor of Rider’s sister publication Thunder Press.
This little charmer was in the first wave of Japanese bikes to enter the U.S. market, thanks to Hap Jones, a motorcycle racer and businessman of considerable note. Hap had been selling British bikes in the 1950s, and then decided to get out of the retail business, focusing on his more profitable distribution side. And the Japanese manufacturers were just getting interested in American buying habits, with Honda opening up for business in 1959, Yamaha in 1960.
So Hap got on the phone to Japan in 1961 and had a chat with the Tohatsu suits, who were undoubtedly very happy at the thought of getting into the burgeoning U.S. market, especially with a well-known and highly respected gent like Hap Jones. They arranged for a couple of 50cc Runpet models and several 125s to be sent over, a deal was struck and Hap introduced them to the world with a full-page ad in the January 1962 issue of “Cycle” magazine…quite unusual for a start-up to spend that kind of money. Then he had the good fortune to have a rider on a Tohatsu 125 win the lightweight Sportsman road race at Daytona, which gave him great publicity. Within a few months he claimed to have 300 motorcycle dealers and a number of sporting-goods stores carrying the Tohatsu line.
What was this little Runpet Sport? And this Tohatsu Company? The word is a combination of Tokyo and “hatsudoki” (engine factory), the origins going back to 1922 and the Takata Motor Research Corp., which made its reputation by building a small motor for a highly successful rail-track car. The name was changed to Tohatsu in 1939, and the company became focused on producing military equipment, including small motors to run little generators. War came and went, the factory survived, and it began selling these little motors to other companies building motorized bicycles. “Heck, we can do that ourselves,” some executive said, and Tohatsu began selling kits for bicycle owners to mount themselves, with gas tank, exhaust system and bracketry.
Better yet, it would build a sturdy bicycle, with a telescopic fork. In 1953 the Puppy appeared, powered by a 58cc two-stroke. Not a very attractive vehicle, but mildly efficient. In the mid-’50s the Japanese were all desirous of personal transportation and some 80 companies were competing in the motorized two-wheeler market. By 1956 Tohatsu was the biggest of the lot, selling 70,000 motorbikes, twice the number that Honda was. But competition was getting fierce, and the serious outfits like Honda, Yamaha and Bridgestone were busy modernizing their products, while dozens of the small operations were shutting down. Unfortunately Tohatsu’s success was followed by some major financial mismanagement, with lots of borrowing going on to keep the company afloat. In 1960 the government, through something called the Rehabilitation Act, arranged for Tohatsu to be bought by the Fuji Electric Manufacturing Corporation, the presumption being that this larger concern might be able to get Tohatsu back on its financial feet.
Motorcycles were just a part of the Tohatsu Company, with marine hardware, from bilge pumps to outboard motors, being more important. However, the two-wheeler R&D boys had been hard at work with new models now at hand, including the 50cc Runpets, the Japanese advertising saying in translation, “…with the accent on having fun!”
The Runpet Sport was indeed a sporty creature, with a highly tuned 49cc piston-port engine, fed through a TK carburetor that, like the Amals of the day, had both a tickler and a choke. A single-disc clutch connected to a three-speed gearbox. The factory claimed it put out 6.8 horsepower at 10,800 rpm and was capable of speeds in excess of 60 mph. Quite astounding for a street-worthy little single! It should be noted that 50cc racing was quite popular back then, especially in Japan.
Unfortunately Tohatsu did not get into developing automatic oiling, and owners had to do things the un-fun way, mixing the oil with the gas. As well as kickstarting the tiny terror. Tohatsu had put an electric starter on its basic Runpet with a lower state of tune, intended for the commuter and housewife, but the Sport was to live up to its name.
Chassis was simple, with a large tubular steel backbone frame from which the engine hung, two bolts securing the head; two more were down at the back close to the swingarm pivot. A telescopic fork up front. Two pairs of arms went back from the main frame to hold the saddle and places for bolting the tops of the two shock absorbers.
The 17-inch wheels had drum brakes, and the distance between axles was 44.5 inches. A 100 mph speedometer (rather optimistic) sat in the headlight nacelle, and a very small windshield served to enhance the sport look. A short saddle and no passenger pegs indicated that this was a one-up ride. But you could get the groceries, as there was a small luggage rack and two tiny pannier bags, made from the hide of a Nauga. Total weight was 135 pounds.
There were several options as to presentation, and this one has the scramblerish high pipe and small skid plate. Shiny chrome fenders and nice paint on the tank and side panels enhanced the image. The company was also putting out new two-stroke models, designed with American riders in mind, like a 125 parallel twin with four gears and 15 horsepower.
All to no avail. Bankruptcy was declared in 1964 and the motorcycle side was shut down. We don’t know how many Runpet Sports were sold by the 300 dealers Hap Jones claimed were carrying the brand, but there don’t seem to be many in the used-bike lists.
Fifty years ago, in 1969, the first BMW motorcycle rolled off the assembly line at BMW’s factory in Berlin Spandau. The new /5 series (pronounced “slash five”) included the R 50/5, R 60/5 and R 75/5, and sported a new chassis and engine and a fresh, modern design with a wide range of bold color options.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the classic /5 series, BMW has announced a special R nineT /5 that evokes the look and spirit of the originals.
The 2019 R nineT /5 features black kneepads on a gorgeous Lupine Blue metallic tank, with a smoke effect, double-line pin stripe, a special 50th anniversary badge and a double seat with white piping. Other /5 details include chrome mirrors, exhaust manifold and silencer, fork gaiters and brushed aluminum engine covers, gearbox, fork tubes and wheels.
Otherwise the R nineT /5 is familiar, with its air- and oil-cooled 1,170cc opposed-twin boxer engine, spoked tube-type rims, standard ABS, ASC (automatic stability control) and heated grips and 6-speed gearbox.
Motorcycle Test by Trevor Hedge Images by iKap & Moto Guzzi
Moto Guzzi’s all-new V85TT is a welcome new offering in the mid-capacity adventure-touring segment and one that spurned a lot of interest on social media when we first highlighted the pending arrival of the machine on MCNews.com.au.
Guzzi’s most recent long running adventure bike model, the Stelvio, was an all-roads touring bike. The Stelvio was not built for serious dirt tracks with rock strewn climbs, but instead for mega mile-munching, with few stops required thanks to its 32-litre tank. However, it was competent enough to take on reasonably well formed trails, and in NTX guise scored spoke rims and engine guards. It was powered by a very charismatic, but moderately powerful, 1151cc V-Twin that in its final 8V incarnation mustered 104 horsepower and 113 Nm of torque. It was comfortable and enjoyable, but at over 270kg it was not the best tool in the shed for negotiating tricky side-tracks in the hands of moderately talented riders.
Still, the Stelvio had its fans, and I must admit that I too had somewhat of a soft spot for the latter generation NTX as pictured above. That big 90-degree air-cooled transverse V-Twin stirred the soul perhaps even more than a BMW Boxer. However when in the market myself around the time the Stelvio NTX was released, it was the fizzing ADHD kid that was KTM’s 990 Adventure R that actually got my money.
Anyways, enough of a history lesson, and reflections on my bike buying habits, lets get on to the eagerly anticipated new kid on the adventure block from Moto Guzzi, the V85 TT.
Produced in the beautiful northern Italian town of Mandello Del Lario, a fact proudly highlighted on the instrumentation of the V85 TT. The Moto Guzzi factory overlooks the glamorous Lake Como. Guzzi have been producing their machines in those glorious surroundings since 1921. Like most Italian companies the ownership of the brand has changed from time to time, and for the past 15 years Guzzi has benefitted from being under the stewardship of the Piaggio Group. Brands such as Aprilia also under Piaggio’s purview and in recent years Moto Guzzi has benefitted greatly from the tie-up via a great injection of technology from their cousins over at Noale.
The new V85 TT even boasts the same Marelli 7SM ECU smarts as the 200+ horsepower Aprilia RSV4 sportsbike, along with traction control and ABS systems all linked to the fly-by-wire throttle. Importantly though, it is still very much a Guzzi.
Guzzis are different, and the V85 TT is very much different to other options in the adventure-touring marketplace. This is perhaps is its most endearing character trait. Particularly in the technicolour dream-coat yellow-white-red-black colour scheme that Guzzi dub ‘Evocative’.
Some cruel bastards have dubbed the V85 TT in this colour scheme ‘Ronald McDonald’s bike’. Well I don’t like McDonalds (the burgers are better at Hungry Jack’s), but I do find the V85 TT quite tasty to my colour palette.
The quality of the paint finish on the steel trellis frame appears to be fantastic and this extends from the headlight and instrumentation supporting bracketry up front, to the rear grab-rails and luggage rack. It appears deep and lustrous enough to survive the tests of time, and I certainly hope it does.
The 853cc V-Twin is a stressed member that helps form the pelvis of the spine frame while the swing-arm pivots directly off the gearbox before terminating in a shaft final-drive. The ‘jacking’ from the torque reaction as drive is transferred to the shaft has long been relegated to a more dark past of motorcycling history by all brands and the Guzzi exhibits no negative handling traits from its shaft-drive system.
However I do find the V85 TT taller geared than I would prefer. And obviously with shaft drive you are stuck with that gearing as shortening the final drive ratio is not quite as simple as adding a few teeth to a rear sprocket or dropping a tooth off the front.
Cruising at 100 km/h in sixth gear sees the lightest spinning crank I have ever felt in a Guzzi turning only 3750 rpm. It will pull 70 km/h in first and that means tight and tricky going will need plenty of left hand work to slip that dry clutch. Although it must be said smooth mapping, a reluctance to stall, and a very light pull on that adjustable clutch lever through a nice smooth engagement doesn’t make this too great a chore. It was not all that long ago that BMW Boxers also ran a dry clutch and the smell of clutch in the air at times brought those memories flooding back. That’s not necessarily a negative, BMW ended up getting them right and I have never known Guzzis to have weak clutches, but it is a point worth noting for those that are not accustomed to motorcycles that use a clutch system more akin to a car, instead of the regular wet multi-plate clutch system used in most motorcycles.
The transverse engine pulls quite willingly past 8000 rpm but I found myself often forgetting that 80 horsepower top end was there. The long legged gearing made revving the Guzzi that hard almost a conscious decision. Most of the time I was loping around below 5000 rpm and thinking gee this engine doesn’t really pull all that hard. Only to then force things past that marker to find an engine that actually surprises a little in the top end.
The official claims from Moto Guzzi quote 80 horsepower at 7750 rpm and 80 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm. The torque curve does not feel, to the seat of my DriRider pants, quite as broad as their (supplied) dyno chart suggests, but to be fair the engines were hardly broken in and traditionally Guzzi engines do take some time to loosen up and give their best.
It is not as willing as the latest BMW F 850 GS, but is not too far off the outgoing F 800 GS engine. But with a more endearing character than the fluffy BMW 800 parallel twin ever mustered before it got its new crank phasing for the latest 850 generation of the model that finally gave the BMW twin some bark.
Guzzi have lightened the crank compared to the ‘V9’ street-bike models that also utilise this new engine platform along with lighter forged pistons that Guzzi claim contribute to 30 per cent lower reciprocating mass.
That would normally be a good thing but to my mind what makes a Guzzi, a ‘Guzzi’, is a bloody heavy crank that makes you really feel those pistons pumping away mightily out each side of the bike.
Granted, these 84mm slugs are a fair bit smaller than the 95mm pistons used in the outgoing 1200 Guzzi models. The move to more free spinning internals of course has benefits in regards to how quick the engine revs (even if that nature is somewhat hobbled by moonshot gearing), it also makes this Guzzi lose a little of its potential charm. Still, the engineering principles are sound and I would expect this push-rod engine, complete with roller cam followers, titanium inlet valves, virtual dry sump and a single 52mm throttle body will provide a long and trouble free service life. Thanks to its relatively simplistic lay-out I would also expect and hope that servicing the Guzzi will be an easy affair.
A deeply finned sump serves as an oil cooler and Guzzi claims the new engine is thermally efficient enough to not require an oil-heat exchanger or radiator. Thus this new engine is a rare bird indeed as we march forlornly towards Euro5 emission regulations. As the launch was conducted in single-digit temperatures we can’t tell you if the engine transmits too much heat to the rider. The rocker covers seemingly have some sort of second skin that prevented them from getting hot enough to warm my gloves during snow photo stops!
No doubt it is that clever Marelli ECU that enables Moto Guzzi to meet all looming emissions standards without the requirement for liquid cooling and that alone deserves some major kudos. There might be hope for the DR650 yet!
It is also electronic smarts that a few years ago helped Guzzi rid themselves of a not so welcome trait that they were infamous for. Massive levels of engine braking that mandated any down-shifts to be done slowly, deliberately and a long way before any approaching corner, if not to enter said corners sideways in a compression lock-up, have long been tamed by the move to ride-by-wire throttle some years ago. The V85 TT does not require a learned Guzzi specific riding technique in any way and is user friendly from the word go.
The riding position feels quite natural in most ways except for the bars being exceptionally wide. The seat is beautifully finished and accommodated my ample buns quite nicely. At 830 mm the seat is also quite low while the pegs were at a good height and the vision ahead clear. The screen works well enough without being obtrusive and there is a larger screen on offer from the accessories catalogue if one so desires.
One positive from the ultra wide bars is that the mirrors are absolutely outstanding with a great field of rearward vision and zero vibrations at any speed. The pegs are rubber topped to help quell any vibes to your feet on long hauls and the rubber tops are removed by a single 10mm bolt when it is time to head off-road in wet conditions. And wet and cold conditions we certainly had!
Unfortunately this made testing the suspension almost impossible. The near freezing conditions meant that corners could not be attacked with any sort of vigour that would really put the suspension to the test. What I can say though is that over corrugation ripples off-road there was no sense of jack-hammering from the rear end, a trait all too common when you combine shaft drive with a shock not up to the job. The bike steered well, held a chosen line and showed no problematic characteristics, but we didn’t get the conditions required to really put the suspenders through the wringer.
The rear suspension is also a little different than most with the shock off-set to the right and working directly on the swing-arm, negating the need for a bottom linkage. Yes, somewhat like the PDS system on a KTM, but in this case the shock is mounted to one side and attached to a fairly rearward point on the drive-shaft, which also doubles as the RHS of the swing-arm.
KYB supply both the shock and the forks that offer 170 mm of travel at each end. Preload and rebound damping is adjustable at both ends. Ground clearance is 210 mm.
Outright braking power was also hard to judge in the conditions we experienced but they did prove progressive and predictable in what were some seriously sketchy conditions.
Rolling on a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear the Tri-colour variants of the V85TT ride on Michelin Anakee rubber while the solid colour models are shod with Metzeler Tourance Next. The rims are spoked but require tubes thus there is no tyre-pressure monitoring system available to add to what otherwise is a very comprehensive cockpit suite displayed on the full colour TFT dash.
The other annoyance is that while there is a gear position indicator, there is no gear position sensor on the gearbox. Instead the ECU works out what gear it is in via a combination of RPM and rear wheel speed. This means that when you are sandwiched between two trucks after lane-splitting to the front of the traffic lights the neutral light does not go out until you start rolling, which had me on tenterhooks when the lights went green as to whether I was actually in gear or not. This is compounded by the fact that there is no audible or sensory feedback when you select first gear. It is a minor gripe, but still, it shitted me!
Sophisticated and switchable traction control and ABS systems married to individual riding modes are all standard while the instrumentation is both comprehensive and clear. A six-segment fuel gauge allows you to keep an eye on how much of that generous 23-litre fuel capacity is remaining. The ambient temperature display laughs at you as it registers 0-degrees while realising that Moto Guzzi had not fitted the optional heated grips to the bikes prior to the Australian launch.
Further down the track Guzzi will add phone/intercom and navigation functionality to the dash via an app on your smartphone that will connect to the bike via bluetooth but this technology is not available at launch. Hopefully early buyers of the machine will be able to retrofit this at a modest cost when it becomes available later this year.
In the adventure-touring segment Moto Guzzi are providing something that is distinctly different. For those that speak Guzzi fluently from previous experiences with their unique V-Twins, I believe you might miss the loping gait of that heavy crank throw, but otherwise there is enough to still enough Guzzi flavour to savour.
It is not an off-road supremo to the level of a GS, or a competitor for the coming more hard-core Tenere 700 Yamaha or the new 790 Adventure from KTM. It is an all-roads touring machine that opens up a little more horizons to riders who are in to the softer level of adventure, Guzzi makes no pretentions of this being otherwise.
The price of admission for the single colour option V85 TT machines is $20,690 ride away while the Tri-Colour variants command a $700 premium. That is getting up there for a mid-capacity touring machine but that is the price you pay for something a little bit different I guess. The V85 TT certainly stands out from the crowd, and I don’t mind being a bit different….
Moto Guzzi V85 TT Specifications
4 stroke, 4 valve 90° V-twin with twin spark ignition
Bore and stroke
84 x 77 mm
10,5 ± 0,5 : 1
Idle engine speed)
1300 ± 100 rpm
59 kW (80 HP) at 7750 rpm
80 Nm at 5000 rpm
Fuel system / Ignition system
Magneti Marelli 7SM2 electronic fuel injection; 52 mm diam. ride-by-wire throttle body, Magneti Marelli injectors, two lambda probes, torque control
Mechanical 6 speed transmission, with shift pedal on left hand side of engine
Steering rake angle
41 mm diameter telescopic hydraulic fork Stroke 168 mm
Die-cast light alloy swingarm with 1 shock absorber adjustable spring preload and hydraulic rebound. Stroke 102 mm, 170mm travel
320 mm stainless steel floating disc, radial calliper with four opposing 32 mm pistons
260 mm stainless steel disc and floating calliper with two 22 mm pistons
2.5″ x 19″
4.25″ x 17″
110 / 80 R19 59V Inflation pressure: 2,5 bar
150 / 70 R17 69V Inflation pressure: 2,8 bar
Fork oil – right stem
446 cm3 Level from sleeve edge: 144 mm
Fork oil – left stem
360 cm3 Level from sleeve edge: 143 mm
2.5″ x 19″
4.25″ x 17″
110 / 80 R19 59V Inflation pressure: 2,5 bar
150 / 70 R17 69V Inflation pressure: 2,8 bar
Height (at adjustable windshield)
Max. vehicle load
448 Kg (rider + passenger + luggage)
Fuel tank (including reserve)
23 ± 1 L
Fuel tank reserve capacity
5 ± 0.5 L
Moto Guzzi’s tradition of adventure
Moto Guzzi boasts a solid off-road tradition and the acronym ‘TT’ stands for “tutto terreno” (all terrain) and builds on a tradition that was established by the marque with their Gold Medal winning ISDE machines in the 1930’s. In 1957, Guzzi offered the Lodola Regolarità, followed by the Stornello Regolarità in 1962.
Moto Guzzi took on the Paris-Dakar in 1985 with the V65 Baja and the following year with the V75 Baja, where they proved robust and reliable.
The high front mud-guard and double front head-light in the V85 TT are reminiscent of the NTX 650 from 1996 and the Quota 1000 from 1989.
I admit it, I didn’t actually expect the Triumph Street Twin to be all that different from the deliciously laid back Street Scrambler I’d spent a couple of weeks getting to know and love. Check out my full review here (link).
I mean they share the same engine, gearbox, forks, shock, brakes and frame (almost). I assumed it was pretty much a styling exercise between them… right..? Ahh… yeah nah.
I mean obviously they’re still quite similar. But the subtle differences combine to make for quite a distinctly different riding proposition. There’s no doubt they’re brothers from the same mother, but they are more than skin deep apart on the road.
Figuring out which one is right for you will depend on what look blows your hair back in terms of styling but also where/how you’re going to be riding it. Let’s quickly re-cap on the common elements we found with the Scrambler for those who shamefully missed my earlier review. Here’s a picture of the Street Scramber for comparison.
Effortless laid back fun – 100% chilled and ready for grins
Silky smooth 900cc Bonneville twin with deceptive helpings of torque
Ride position spot on for the classic rider in all of us
‘Small’ overall dimensions, but without feeling cramped
Immediately accessible in terms of feel and performance
Initially, throwing the leg over the Street Twin it felt pretty much the same. To be fair I didn’t even twig that the bars were 50mm wider at first. Not until I tipped into the first corner when it quickly became apparent that I needed to rethink the similarities and differences between the bikes a little further.
The Street Twin is clearly more responsive to tip into corners and much happier on its side. It’s still no sports bike obviously, but is eminently more capable from a handling point of view. It changes direction willingly, no doubt helped by the slightly tighter steering rake and more rounded tyre profile of the Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp, compared to the flatter dual purpose Tourances on the Scrambler.
Add that to a more responsive throttle action that gives the bike quite a different feel. Where the Scrambler throttle response is soft, feeling almost delayed off idle at first (which gives it that laid back feel), the Street Twin feels more immediate.
It has a slightly different engine tune, along with that aforementioned different throttle action enabled by the ride by wire techwizardy. The spec’ sheet says that the peak torque arrives 600rpm higher on the Twin at 3800rpm, but that’s not what it feels like when combined with the more instant throttle response.
It feels like another five or six ponies have been liberated. Even though the spec’ sheet again says they’re both dishing out 65 hp. If I was a betting man I’d have lost some coin there no doubt. So it steers better and goes better. What else?
Well even though it has the same Brembo four-piston caliper (with ABS), it feels like there’s more bite when you get on the picks. At the time of writing I couldn’t confirm if the Twin was running different pads, or it was all down to better tyres and sharper geometry. But the brakes definitely feel slightly more willing.
That’s a lot of ticks already, translating into a more sporting ride. The trade-off is that the bike loses some of the oh-so-laid-back charm of the Scrambler, so it’s really more about what you want out of your bike… It’s still a charming ride, just a different flavour.
Styling wise it’s the more classic looker of the two. A pair of low sweeping pipes (one each side) are well executed, a more pillion ready seat and the absence of protectors on the tank indents translates into a genuinely classy looking machine. From the front in particular, it is a well-proportioned and finished design.
It makes me wonder if they started with this design first and then adapted it to the Scrambler, which doesn’t seem to be quite as photogenic from the same angles. That might be a geometry thing, or maybe it’s just my eyes, I’m not sure.
What do I like less about the Street Twin compared to the Scrambler? Well, they both don’t have a whole lot to pick faults at to be fair.
The most awkward thing on the Twin is finding the side-stand hidden down under the sweeping pipe. You get used to it, and there’s no real way around it if you want the pipe right there. Things are getting tough when the side-stand is the only real thing that stands out as annoying…
The suspension is fit for purpose, as long as you don’t start pretending its a bit more sporty than it actually is, then the limits in damping control do start to be felt.
You don’t get a massive amount of range on a tank. The most I saw over a month’s riding between them was around 280km for a tank, which is ample for this type of bike – it’s no tourer with a 12L capacity. And the accuracy of the trip-meter nearly caught me out too. It’s not mucking around.
I was expecting it would leave some fuel up my sleeve, but it was pretty much bang on. Cue the ‘oh-shit-I-gotta-find-fuel-in-the-tank’ shake from side to side trying to find fuel in the tank as I wobbled the last couple of kays to the servo. Aherm. Nothing to see here folks. Everything’s under control. Not the droids you’re looking for.
These are both terrific little classically styled bikes. I really enjoyed them both. More than I thought I would to be honest. They’re an absolute joy to ride, without needing to be ridden fast for that enjoyment – just the ride itself.
They’re excellent in traffic, their small size (more-so the slightly narrower Street Twin) makes them super easy to filter through relatively small gaps with ease. They both look tops, the Twin being the black tie version and the Scrambler being jeans and a white t-shirt.
I’d pick… the Scrambler. I think for its more laid back attitude, ‘soft’ road ability and more edgy styling. But I’d probably ask the shop to sharpen up the throttle action a whisker.
Mind you I do prefer the sharper handling of the Twin. Hmm… I better go for just one more ride before I hand it back.
Last August we took delivery of a 2018 Suzuki V-Strom 1000XT ($13,299), with the XT identifying it as slightly tarted up with tubeless spoked wheels and a Renthal Fat Bar handlebar, for just $300 over the base model. We put it into a comparison test with its ’lil brother, the V-Strom 650XT, and the decision was very close, but the 1000’s extra power and superior suspension and brakes (including cornering ABS) beat out the 650’s lower weight and seat height and more agile handling (see Rider, November 2018 or ridermagazine.com).
Our 1000XT was outfitted with some useful Suzuki accessories, including side cases (29-liter left, 26-liter right), a 55-liter top case, a 15-liter ring lock tank bag, an accessory bar and a centerstand, for an as-tested price of $15,712. For 2019, the XT has been replaced by the XT Adventure ($15,299), which includes the accessory bar, centerstand, heated grips and 37-liter aluminum panniers, and it comes in a sweet Pearl Vigor Blue/Pearl Glacier White paint scheme with matching blue rims.
After our comparison test, contributor Ken Lee loaded up the Strom and did a 1,400-mile, two-up tour with his wife around California’s Sierra Nevada (see Rider, May 2019 or ridermagazine.com). Then he did a solo 800-mile freeway blast up to Oregon and back. Since then we’ve used the Strom primarily for commuting and day rides. We’ve logged 4,253 miles and averaged 38.4 mpg (low 32.3, high 47.6), for an estimated range of 204 miles.
The V-Strom has been a solid workhorse and our complaints are few. The accessory tank bag doesn’t snap into its ring lock like it should, so we have to open the bag, put our hand on top of the ring and push hard to make it lock—a hassle when the bag is full of gear. And on long trips we’ve wished for cruise control, which ought to be standard on touring motorcycles in this price range. Otherwise, though, the V-Strom gets high marks for competence, dependability, value and versatility, whether it’s used as a commuter, sport-touring bike or 80/20 adventure tourer.
You probably wouldn’t think that new riders looking for a cheap and unintimidating starter bike would have much in common with budget-minded veterans who neither need nor want the expense and complexity of new models. But the requirements of both often seem to converge around middleweights from the mid-1990s. At the center of this particular Venn diagram is Yamaha’s Seca II, a bike whose modest specifications belie its versatility, and whose used price is such a bargain you almost can’t afford to not buy one.
The Seca’s 599cc engine has dual overhead cams, two valves per cylinder, four 28mm Mikuni carbs and a six-speed gearbox. There’s little in that list to make a sportbike rider’s heart beat faster, but that wasn’t what Yamaha was after. With 61 horsepower on tap, the 452-pound Seca is sufficient to introduce novice riders to the heady joys of acceleration while keeping the transportation-focused ones from becoming hood ornaments on the freeway.
What the Seca lacks in sheer excitement it makes up for in practicality, usually as a backup for your hot-blooded sportbike or your elephantine tourer. The Seca won’t take up much of your weekends with maintenance or repair; the understressed engine routinely sends the odometer past the 50,000-mile mark with little more than regular oil changes and the occasional chain service. Some high-mile engines sound like they have a dollar’s worth of loose change in the crankcase, but synching the carbs and adjusting the valves usually clears it up.
One very large red flag is if the starter spins without turning over the engine. A stripped idler gear might be the cause, and it’s not an easy fix–the crankcases have to be split to get at it. Leaky valve-cover and clutch-cover gaskets are common but easily fixed.
The Seca’s chassis mimics the engine’s no-big-deal philosophy. The tubular-steel frame has a 38mm non-adjustable front fork, a single rear shock with preload adjustment, a 320mm single disc brake and a 245mm rear. Cast wheels are shod with a 110/80-17 front tire and 130/70-18 rear. The seat is 30.3 inches off the deck and, while not actually built for touring, is tolerable for one or two riders on day rides. Mileage is typically in the 45-55 mpg range, depending on how you load the bike and how hard you flog it.
The fairing does a decent job of blunting the wind. But like all plastic parts, and especially those on older bikes, it’s expensive to replace, so look closely for cracks around the mounting points and the windscreen, and be prepared to lower your offer substantially depending on what you find. Also inspect the fuel petcock for leaks. Faulty ones let gas drain into the engine, leading to the aforementioned starter idler gear losing its teeth as it strains against flooded cylinders.
The Seca’s reputation for reliability is sometimes its downfall, as owners neglect necessary chores in favor of more road time. Check used examples for leaks, loose steering-head bearings and crash damage. Shine a light in the tank and look for rust caused by water in the gas. The Seca is notoriously cold-blooded, but if it can’t be ridden cleanly off the choke after 10 minutes something’s up. Book prices range from just under a grand for a 1992 model to $1,300 for a ’98.
Yamaha XJ600 Seca II
Pros: A solid and reliable middleweight that won’t keep you up late at night in the garage. A learner bike worth keeping.
Cons: All the flair of vanilla ice cream. Gets you there with little fuss, and less excitement.
Specs: Displacement: 599cc Final drive: Chain Wet Weight: 452 lbs. Fuel capacity: 4.6 gals. Seat Height: 30.3 in.
After the success of the Niken, the world’s first production Leaning Multi-Wheeled motorcycle introduced last year, Yamaha has launched a sport-touring version called the Niken GT, with a larger windscreen, heated grips, comfort seats, saddlebags, a centerstand and more. With neutral, natural steering feel and an incredible amount of front-end grip, the Niken must be experienced to be believed.