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Retrospective: 1958-1966 Matchless G12/CS/CSR 650

1961 Matchless G12CS
1961 Matchless G12CS. Owner: Steve Eorio, Paso Robles, California.

The 1950s and ’60s were the era of the UBM — Universal British Motorcycle — a parallel OHV twin sitting upright in the frame, in the 500cc to 750cc range. The original UBM was the Triumph 5T Speed Twin of 1938, soon to be copied by half a dozen of the major British motorcycle companies. Matchless, which built its first motorcycle at the Plumstead works in southeast London around 1901, came up with its own version in 1948, the 498cc G9, with a 66 x 72.8mm bore and stroke. And a fully sprung frame, with a swingarm rear suspension.

It should be noted that in the 1930s Matchless bought the AJS marque and the company became Associated Motor Cycles, Ltd., or AMC, the major difference between the two brands being the lettering on the gas tank.

The G9 engine differed from other UBMs in that it had a third bearing on the crankshaft, between the two connecting rods, to give added strength. The engine’s dry sump lubrication system used the camshaft to run two oil pumps, one on each side of the crank, aiding in efficient lubrication; apparently these engines could go 75,000 miles before any major work was needed. Quite remarkable for a UBM of the era, when top-end jobs were often done at 20,000 miles, bottom-end at 40,000.

1961 Matchless G12CS

The two cylinders were separate, as were the heads, and while this seemed to work well with the 500, as the engine grew larger the lack of rigidity appeared to enhance vibration. During the 1950s most factories increased the size of the engine, with 650cc being considered the maximum reasonable size for a UBM, due to those vibratory concerns. In 1955 Matchless elected to bore out the engine to 72mm for an increase to 593cc — called a 600, designated as a G11. This was followed by the G11CS, or Competition Sprung, a street-legal scrambler with easily removable lights, and the G11CSR, a more roadworthy version, often called the Coffee Shop Racer. The CS models came with higher compression ratios and other performance enhancements…and often more problems. The frame used a single downtube to meet up with the full cradle holding the engine.

In 1958 Matchless offered 17 different models, including the first G12 650. The very important American market had been demanding that 650, the dealers needing it to compete with the Triumph and BSA 650s. Small problem: the engine could not be bored out any more. Solution: increase the stroke to 79.3mm, or 646cc. That was the G12, with the basic road-going model having valanced fenders and a reliable 7.5:1 compression ratio, and two sportier CS models with an 8.5:1 compression ratio and light alloy fenders.

1961 Matchless G12CS

The restroked engine required a new crankshaft, made of “nodular” iron, which flexed enough to reduce vibrations. It was also designed to incorporate a Lucas alternator, though still with six-volt electrics. A new frame with twin downtubes now welded to the full cradle was developed, which did help in reducing the vibration inherent in a 650 vertical twin using a 360-degree crankshaft, although the single-tube frame was also used. The motorcycle seen here, which was built from bits and pieces, has a 1961 G12 engine in a 1959 single downtube frame. An AMC Teledraulic fork is up front, a pair of Girling shock absorbers at the back.

Gas tanks varied in size according to the model and year, but this ’61 G12CS carried only two gallons, all you would need in a race, and was said to weigh 425 pounds with a full tank. And with 5.3 pints of oil in the reservoir.

Other changes occurred over the G12’s years, including 12-volt electrics, sending out decent visibility from the seven-inch headlight. The basic G12 had 18-inch wheels, while this CS was running 19-inchers. Distance between the axles was a little more than 55 inches. Brakes were single-leading-shoe drums, an eight-incher on the front, seven on the back.

1961 Matchless G12CS

One interesting bit of history is that the Matchless marque was originally sold in the U.S. by Californian Frank Cooper, who became the AMC importer around 1946. He did quite well selling singles to win desert races, though the twins were not as popular.

In 1953, AMC acquired financially troubled Norton, although Norton production and sales remained quite separate, the U.S. importer being Joe Berliner, or J.B. Then, in 1960, AMC bought the Indian Sales Corp., which had been selling rebadged Royal Enfields — this was to get the Indian dealers, such as they were, to sell Matchboxes rather than Royal Oilfields. And AMC summarily fired Cooper, after 14 years of good work.

However, AMC filed for bankruptcy in 1962 (Cooper must have laughed), resulting in Matchless being merged more closely with Norton, and Berliner having to deal with Matchless as well. In early 1963, J.B. Matchless Corp. put a full-page ad in Cycle magazine promoting the G12CS and G12CSR…along with the 750cc G15 Matchless, which looked surprisingly like the Norton Atlas model that had appeared in 1962. In 1963 that old 1952 Matchless/Norton arrangement, keeping them separate, changed drastically as bill collectors were pounding on both doors, and Norton production moved from its old Birmingham factory 100 miles southeast to Plumstead.

Not surprisingly, interest in the G12 waned considerably. The last Matchless ad I could find in a U.S. moto-mag was in Cycle’s July 1966 issue, featuring the Atlas-based G15, and mentioning one G12CSR and two G80 singles. At the time British bureaucrats, knowing nothing about motorcycles, thought they could save the industry by merging Matchless, AJS and Norton into the company of an affluent entrepreneur and racecar driver, Dennis Poore. Poore was already looking after the Villiers engineering firm, which made most of the British two-stroke motorcycle engines. The Matchless and AJS names dropped from sight, and the new company was called Norton-Villiers.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Inside Arai Helmets

Arai Helmet Factory Tour
Michio Arai, son of company founder Hirotake, and Michio’s son Akihito (on bike), two of the three generations of Arais that have been making premium motorcycle and auto-racing helmets for nearly 70 years.

After spending a few years behind bars and a desk at Rider magazine, I like to think I have some important things figured out. “Nonplussed” doesn’t mean unimpressed. Lean and believe. Bread plate on the left, drink on the right. And wear ATGATT (All of The Gear All of The Time), especially an approved helmet, preferably full-face. What about Snell vs. DOT vs. ECE 22.05 helmet certification standards? Yes, there are significant differences among them, but those differences really only come into play if you can predict what type of accident you’re going to have. The important thing is to find an approved lid that is comfortable and fits well, has good optics and doesn’t contribute to fatigue with excess noise or weight. A helmet that you like. A helmet that you want to wear, and always do.

Arai Helmet Factory Tour
Arai Americas Managing Director Brian Weston holds a “preforma,” or bird’s nest layer of chopped Super Fiber ready for the mold.

Arai has been making helmets motorcycle riders and countless successful racers want to wear for a very long time, since its first fiberglass-shelled model sold in Japan in 1952. Company founder Hirotake Arai, the son of a hat maker, was an enthusiastic motorcycle rider who established a headgear and textile factory in Saitama, Japan, near Tokyo, in the late 1930s, and after World War II made helmets for construction workers. When his buddies at the local racetrack asked him to make helmets for them, Arai created the first Japanese motorcycle helmets from fiberglass, resin and expanded polystyrene foam (EPS), effectively launching the Japanese motorcycle helmet industry. Despite focusing on head protection for fellow riders first and business concerns a distant second, the company flourished producing “HA” (Hirotake Arai) branded helmets, especially after establishing the “bag molding” technique with 2-piece metal molds that is still in use for most composite helmets today.

Arai Helmet Factory Tour
After the preforma or “bird’s nest” is inserted into the mold, one of Arai’s shell experts carefully places the reinforcing layers inside it, then a second preforma is put in to hold everything together, creating in effect a bird’s nest sandwich.

Soon after Hirotake’s son Michio (a rider since age 7) returned to Japan from college in the U.S. to help with the family business, Arai produced its first Snell-certified HA helmet in 1963. Exports began and the U.S. distributor who would eventually start and become President of Arai Helmet USA in 1977, Roger Weston, helped convince Hirotake to change the brand name from HA to simply “Arai” for obvious reasons.

Arai Helmet Factory Tour
An amazing number of preforma and reinforcing layers of fiberglass are used in each lid, some Super Fiber, some AR Mat and others Zylon or even carbon fiber.

Today Arai Helmet Ltd. has factories in Saitama and Shinto, Japan, and is still a privately owned family business, now in the capable hands of Michio “Mitch” Arai, 81, and his son Akihito. Production has ranged from a pre-recessionary high of more than 450,000 helmets annually to about 280,000 today, all by hand with the exception of six robotic lasers used to cut and trim the shells. Mitch and “Aki” Arai, along with Roger Weston’s son Brian — now Managing Director of Arai Americas — recently decided it was high time to pull back the veil on Arai’s skunk works in Japan with a press tour and ride that would showcase its new Regent-X full-face helmet (review coming soon) and two overriding aspects of Arai helmets: an unfailing attention to tradition, details and quality from its factory workers and helmet experts, many of whom have been with the company for decades; and Arai’s strong belief that in addition to absorbing impacts, a helmet’s shape must allow it to slide smoothly and deflect, or “glance off” impacts in order to prevent rotational energy from entering and affecting the wearer, hence the use of roughly the same smooth, egg-like shell shape since the 1970s.

Arai Helmet Factory Tour
EPS pellets of four or more different densities are used to create the EPS liner that crushes to absorb impacts.

So far no one has found a better material for a motorcycle helmet’s protective liner than EPS, and like most premium helmet companies, Arai forms its liners from EPS pellets of different densities — lighter for the thicker areas like the crown and forehead, heavier for thinner spots. Where technology and cost collide with tradition and safety is in the helmet shell, the designs for which vary greatly among manufacturers. Although the days of polycarbonate, injection-molded shells not holding up to more rigorous standards are long past, Arai believes that composite shells made of laminated fiberglass layers and resin can be stronger, lighter and safer, since the shell absorbs some of the impact by crushing or delaminating and better resists penetration (both a polycarbonate and composite helmet must be replaced after a serious impact, since the EPS liner will have been compressed).

Arai Helmet Factory Tour
The only robots in Arai’s four factories are the laser cutters used to trim the newly formed shells, one at its R&D center in Saitama and five more at the molding facility in Shinto.

Rather than throwing out a shell design and starting over each time, Arai’s current Peripheral Belt-Structural Net Composite 2, or PB-SNC2 (used in high-end models) and PB-Complex Laminate Construction, or PBcLc, shell designs have evolved from numerous CLC designs since the first in 1977. Both start with Super Fiber, fine strands that have 30-percent more tensile strength than ordinary fiberglass. These are chopped, sprayed with resin and blown onto a perforated, rotating vacuum dome, creating a strong “bird’s nest” of sorts that is heated to retain its shape. This bird’s nest is placed into a two-piece mold, and then up to 18 reinforcing pieces such as Arai’s peripheral belt of Zylon (also used in bulletproof vests) around the top of the eyeport and the Structural Net Composite, or SNC, that helps hold the layers together, are carefully placed inside the bird’s nest. Another bird’s nest is placed on top, sandwiching the whole thing together before the resin is poured in and the hot mold is closed up with a thick airbag inside to squeeze the layers together. After 13 minutes what began as a complicated sandwich of Super Fiber, fiberglass mat and Zylon layers that can take years to learn how to assemble has formed into a light, thin but ultra-strong integral shell.

Arai Helmet Factory Tour
Each and every shell produced 200 kilometers away in Shinto or nearby in Saitama must pass final inspection at this facility in Amanuma, where shells are checked for thickness, weight and visible irregularities.

After the virgin shells are trimmed around the bottom and their vents and eye ports cut by the laser, what follows is flurry of handwork and quality control by dozens of skilled workers, and with the exception of some paintwork and plastic part production it’s all done in-house. From sanding, priming, painting, water-decal application, strap riveting, and inserting the EPS liner to gluing in the eyebrow vents and comfort liners and numerous QC inspections, each worker doesn’t just do his or her job — each inspects and insures the quality level of each lid and genuinely cares about the result. What struck me most about Arai was not the modernity of the factories or quantity of helmets being produced, but rather that it doesn’t modify the design or what it feels is the safety level of its helmets in order to lower cost or make production more efficient or more automated. Just as it did in the 1950s, Arai genuinely cares about protecting fellow riders first and business concerns second. As Michio Arai said before we left, “Doing what we believes in gives us pride. We are not good businessmen, but we are determined to provide protection for the heads of fellow riders.”

Keep scrolling for more photos….

Arai Helmet Factory Tour
Michio Arai, 81, talks about Arai Helmet’s history in Saitama. The iconic photo in the background is of his father and company founder Hirotake standing on the saddle of his Harley in the late 1930s.
Arai Helmet Factory Tour
Punching out reinforcing layers en masse at the Shinto factory.
Arai Helmet Factory Tour
A machine weaves strands of Super Fiber for reinforcing layers like the peripheral belt that goes around the eyeport.
Arai Helmet Factory Tour
This is how a shell looks right after it’s removed from the mold. Now it’s off to the laser cutter. Note the staples used to hold some of the fiberglass layers together are all located in the eyeport, which gets cut out.
Arai Helmet Factory Tour
Since resin is relatively heavy, as little as possible is used to form a shell, leaving a rough finish that requires an incredible amount of handwork to get it ready for primer and paint.
Arai Helmet Factory Tour
Graphics that aren’t painted are typically water decals painstakingly applied before the helmet is clear coated. Interestingly decal application is all done by women, who Arai has found have much more patience than men for the intricate work.
Arai Helmet Factory Tour
We were treated to an exceptional preview of the new Arai Regent-X Helmet’s performance with a lengthy ride from Saitama to the famously twisty roads of Gunma Prefecture near the Shinto factory. Many thanks to Honda Motorcycle Japan for providing the bikes.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2020 Kawasaki Z H2 | First Look Preview

2020 Kawasaki Z H2. Images courtesy Kawasaki.

Hold on tight. Kawasaki has announced it’s bringing its balanced supercharged 998cc inline four to its Z lineup of naked motorcycles with a new flagship model, the 2020 Z H2.

Read our Road Test Review of the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE here!

More detailed information will be made available at the Z H2’s U.S. debut later in November, but for now we know that it will feature a specially designed trellis frame, Showa suspension, Brembo Monobloc brake calipers, LED lighting, a full-color, switchable TFT display, smartphone connectivity and a full suite of IMU-based electronics (riding modes, power modes, KTRC, KCMF, KIBS, KLCM, KQS and cruise control) and an assist-and-slipper clutch.

The 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 will be available in Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Graphite Gray/Mirror Coated Spark Black at an MSRP of $17,000. Stay tuned for further details.

Keep scrolling for more photos….

This image shows the massive air intake feeding directly into the balanced supercharger.
2020 Kawasaki Z H2.
Full-color TFT display has a switchable background.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Retrospective: 1967-1969 Kawasaki C2TR 120 Road Runner

1967 Kawasaki C2TR 120 Road Runner. Owner: Cliff Schoening, Bremerton, Washington.

This was a little cutie, and inexpensive, too. Just $430 ($3,200 today) would get you this minimalist high-piped single in 1967. Not that the bike was set up for quarter-mile times, but a real lightweight rider with a strong wind at his back might break 20 seconds. What do you expect from a 120?

Kawasaki was the last of the Japanese Big Four to get into the American market, when an American-owned subsidiary appeared in Chicago in 1963 offering a few two-stroke singles. Early ads promoted its connection with the Kawasaki Aircraft Co. Ltd., which was shut down following WWII but started building planes again in 1954. The big K soon saw the error of its ways and set up a Kawasaki-owned operation in Los Angeles in 1965, sensibly giving the Americans involved a good deal of say in what should be built for the U.S. market. 

Two-stroke singles were the rage, cheap and simple, the essential engine having just three moving parts. In the home market Kawasaki knew that winning on Sunday meant selling on Monday, so it worked hard to score points in the racing world of Japan, using rotary valves instead of the old-fashioned piston-port design and applying the same sophistication to its street bikes.

In 1964 Kawasaki showed the C2SS (Street Scrambler) to the home market, an attractive little single intended for the pavement, with a stylish upswept exhaust pipe. It also offered the “trail kit,” an optional bundle of pieces that would turn this into a proper trail bike…of sorts. The kit had an adapter for raising the front fender, a luggage rack and a second rear sprocket mounted next to the stock one. The stock sprocket had 37 teeth and a first-gear ratio of 25:1. In a few minutes time the rider could loosen a few bolts and slide the new 59-tooth sprocket over the old one, giving a ratio of 40:1. Good for going up Mount Fuji!

In 1967 two very similar C2 120 models came to the U.S., the TR (Trail Rider) and the SS, both with street-scrambler styling. Obviously the word was that Americans thought that an upswept exhaust system was cool, and that occasionally leaving the pavement was great fun. The bikes were also given the Road Runner name. Most of us can remember the Road Runner cartoon character, a bird that was always being chased across the desert by Wile E. Coyote. The owner’s manual had an illustration of the bird. Obviously the California fellows thought this would be a great name for the bike, but there is no mention of whether the KMC execs ever asked “Looney Tunes” for permission.

The TR was slightly more off-road oriented, having knobbier tires, a smaller front fender mounted well above the wheel, slightly shortened saddle, bash plate and a big luggage rack — for carrying all that camping gear for the trip into the wilderness. Although the engine was a bit on the small side for anyone wanting to tackle rough, steep terrain.

The cylinder was aluminum with a cast iron liner and was almost square, with a 53mm bore, 52.5mm stroke for an actual 115cc and a compression ratio of 6.7:1. The factory was claiming 11.5 horses at 7,000 rpm, which was a small herd from a small paddock, with one pony for every 10cc; very neat. The advertised torque curve — what there was of it — was pleasantly flat, with 6.5 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm, maxing out at 9.1 lb-ft at 5,000 and dropping off to 7 lb-ft at an over-revved 8,000.

An 18mm Mikuni carburetor was coupled with an automatic lubrication system, called Superlube. The oil tank, easily accessible under the seat, delivered the lubricant (the amount being dependent on the throttle opening) to the front of the rotary valve, where it would mix with the gas. Fouling plugs was a thing pretty much of the past.
Oil-level viewing was on the left side panel.

The engine cases, made of aluminum alloy, held the cylinder up front, gearbox behind. Power ran back to a four-speed transmission of the rotary style, which meant the rider could go all the way around from fourth directly to neutral to first gear, or shift backwards through third and second. The shift lever was heel and toe so downshifting could be done without besmirching the rider’s white bucks. Remember those? 

The chassis did have some off-road pretensions, the photo model having a curious optional brace bolted to the lower legs of the fork and looping over the wheel in front of the fender. It may also have fended off the brush that an enthusiastic rider might get into. The full double-cradle frame was made of mild steel and very strong by the swingarm pivot. The double-cradle aspect extended to a pair of tubes forming the backbone under the tank and then going farther back from the main cradle to support the saddle and the tops of the two shock absorbers. Even with the aforementioned bash plate, there was more than six inches of ground clearance. Suspension was, well, not competitive, but quite adequate for the college-aged fellow who liked having a coed pressed against his back as they cruised the city streets.

Wheels were 18 inches at both ends, with small drum brakes that worked OK considering the speeds the Road Runner went. Forty-five inches between the axles made for a short machine. With 1.7 gallons of gas in the tank, weight was a modest 186 pounds.

The C2 Road Runners went away late in 1969; did “Looney Tunes” have anything to do with that?

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Enhancing the Africa Twin | Stage 1: Minimal Weight Gain, More Protection

Our Editor-in-Chief got the farkling bug, and outfitted his Africa Twin with enough crash protection to cover any unexpected dirt naps, plus hard luggage and more. Photos by Kevin Wing.

It started innocently enough. At 507 pounds ready to ride, Honda’s CRF1000L Africa Twin is the lightweight among the liter-class ADV machines, and given my short legs and lukewarm off-road riding skills I had little desire to make it any heavier. What goes down must come up in order to carry on, and much beyond 550 pounds or so there’s little chance I’m picking it up by myself.

But before riding off into the sunset, every proper ADV machine should have a centerstand and heated grips, right? Both are Honda accessories and were easily installed. Hard saddlebag mounts were next — Honda’s bags are good-looking and convenient since they drop and lock right onto the bike’s built-in mounts, but aren’t quite sturdy enough for the adventures I have in mind. Wanting to mount either soft waterproof saddlebags to save weight or locking aluminum panniers for riding behind enemy lines, a good option is the Hepco & Becker Fixed Side Carrier ($281.18), distributed in the U.S. by Moto Machines. This adds just 10 pounds and carries my Hepco & Becker Alu-Case Xplorer 30-Liter Panniers ($821) quite securely, providing some tipover protection as well as storage. The bag/carrier combination on the bike is about an inch wider than the handlebars, and asymmetrical since neither the carrier nor right bag wraps around the muffler, but the offset is only two inches (which can be symmetrized by mounting a 40-liter Xplorer on the left). 

Here is a good view of the National Cycle VStream Sport/Tour Windscreen, Touratech Headlight Guard, Hepco & Becker Tank Guard and BDCW Connector Rods, Lower Engine Bars and Ultimate Skid Plate.

Now, I swear I was going to stop there, but the Moto Machines website sucked me in and before I could tame the mouse it had clicked on Hepco & Becker Handlebar Protection bars (2.75 pounds, $163.33) and its Tank Guard (8 pounds, $301.68) for the Africa Twin. I like the style and wind protection of the stock plastic hand guards on the AT — the sturdy steel Protection bars beef them up like an exoskeleton and install in about 10 minutes. And Tank Guard is kind of a misnomer — it protects far more than just the tank by mounting the tubular-steel bars solidly to the bike’s frame at top and bottom and wrapping around the front and sides of the AT’s fairing. Should make a good grab point as well.

K&N air filters are washable and last up to 100,000 miles; oil filters often come with a nut on top for easy removal and installation.

When I was installing the Tank Guard, I noticed just how exposed and vulnerable the Africa Twin’s radiators are to flying rocks and such, and that the thin plastic grates Honda has installed over them aren’t much better than soft cheese. That led me to Black Dog Cycle Works (BDCW), which offers a pair of well-made aluminum Radiator Guards ($95) that bolt on over the stock ones and don’t impede airflow. Turns out BDCW has lots of nice stuff for the AT, including tubular-steel Lower Engine Bars (6.5 pounds, $285); lightweight aluminum Connector Rods (1.75 pounds, $160) that link its Engine Bars to the Hepco & Becker Tank Guard; an aluminum Rear Rack (3 pounds, $149) extension; and large aluminum Traction Footpegs ($229). All of this stuff somehow found its way onto my bike in about 2.5 hours, helped by good instructions, well thought-out design  and an underpaid second pair of hands.

Mark’s Gear
Helmet: Arai XD4
Jacket: Olympia Dakar
Pants: Olympia Airglide
Boots: Sidi Canyon Gore-Tex

But what really blew me away was BDCW’s Ultimate Skid Plate (11.5 pounds, $349). Not only because it covers so much more of the bike’s tender underbits with tough 3/16-inch-thick aluminum than the stock 3-pound unit, but because its clever design takes less than 10 minutes to install, and it comes off for oil changes and such with just two bolts. The smooth bottom lets the Skid Plate slide over obstacles, and it’s contoured to the frame for maximum ground clearance.

Add combo wrenches for axle nuts and tire repair tools to this CruzTools RoadTech M3 Tool Kit and you’re good to go.

Oh boy, I was on a roll now. More wind protection: National Cycle’s VStream Sport/Tour Windscreen ($159.95) is about 3 inches taller and wider than stock, and quiets wind noise down quite a bit. Protection for that expensive LED headlight: Touratech’s Quick-Release Clear Headlight Guard ($139.95) is like a pair of safety goggles, straps on and can be removed in seconds. It doesn’t seem to affect the headlight beam either. More aggressive DP559 and DP121 Brake Pads from DP Brakes, a Nelson-Rigg Adventure Tank Bag ($101.95) and Sahara Duffel ($112.95), and I was nearly finished except for suitable rubber. We gave Michelin’s new Anakee Adventure Tires (MSRP front $202.95, rear $287.95) a thorough review in the June 2019 issue, and found them to be an exceptional choice for 80/20 ADV work. In addition to greater grip off-road than the Africa Twin’s stock tires, the Anakee Adventures sacrifice very little wet or dry on-road performance, and don’t make any noise riding in a straight line, just a mild hum in faster bends.

DP Brake Pads give the AT’s brakes more feel and bite.

All told I ended up adding about 50 pounds to my 2018 Africa Twin (not including the Xplorer bags), but now it’s ready for almost any adventure, and some of that weight should pay for itself the first time it takes a dirt nap….

Keep scrolling for more detailed photos.

BDCW Rear Rack.
Hepco & Becker Alu-Case Xplorer 30-Liter Panniers and Nelson-Rigg Sahara Duffel.
Trails End Adventure Tank Bag.
National Cycle VStream Sport/Tour Windscreen.
BDCW Traction Footpegs.
BDCW Skid Plate.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

The Importance of Hydration on Your Motorcycle

Stayed properly hydrated while riding your motorcycle is vitally important. Ideally you’ll avoid dehydration, but if it occurs re-hydrating isn’t as simple as pounding a bunch of water.

The first step to addressing a problem is to first acknowledge that you have a problem. With that, I openly admit to all of you that I have a serious non-drinking problem. Despite years as a professional motorcycling safety expert, I habitually fail to hydrate before, during and after a ride. In excess, I don’t drink.

If you are one of the many riders like me who forgets to drink enough water, here are some indicators of dehydration and a handful of steps you can take to break your non-drinking habit.

Recognize the warning signs

If you ride for long periods without urgency to stop at a rest area to relieve yourself, you may be dehydrated. When you do go, if your pee is dark yellow, that’s a warning sign as well. If you drink a lot of coffee instead of water, you may have to go more frequently but are actually flushing out vital water reserves since coffee acts as a mild diuretic.

If your skin, mouth, lips and eyes are dry, you may be low on H2O. Similarly, if you find yourself becoming fatigued or achy, or are beginning to experience headaches, don’t wait; you’re overdue to rehydrate.

In extreme dehydration, you may become dizzy, experience elevated heartbeat and rapid breathing, or even become confused and disoriented. At that point, consider it an emergency; it’s time to get help as soon as possible.

Avoiding dehydration

Begin to drink water in the hours before you hit the road. Don’t think you can just down a large bottle of water minutes before hopping on the bike. It doesn’t work that way. Drink smaller amounts more often so your body can absorb instead of pass the vital fluid.

Pack bottles of water and make a point to refill yourself each time you refill your gas tank or stop to stretch your legs. One of the easiest ways to stay hydrated en route is to take a water bladder with you (such as those made by Camelbak). They are typically wearable and include a hose that you can sip from as you ride. Add ice to keep that water cool and refreshing.

Keep the drinking habit going after the sidestand is down for the day to continue to replenish your body and prepare for the next day’s journey.

By being more conscious of the issue and following these guidelines, I’ve begun to control my own non-drinking problem. As I do, I can ride for hours and still feel fresh at the end of the day. Hopefully these steps will help you as well. Now drink up! 

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Retrospective: 1971-1977 Healey 1000/4

1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2
1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2. Owner: Thomas Harper, Garden Grove, California.

This has to be one of the least-known motorcycles built since the end of World War II, with an Ariel 4G Mark II Square Four engine bolted into a Roger Slater frame. The photo model is one of the two prototypes, and lacks some of the amenities of the production versions – such as the side panels.

The Healey 1000/4 does not appear to be listed in any of the popular motorcycle encyclopedias, and the only major mention to be found in motorcycle histories are some three pages in Roy Bacon’s “Ariel – The Postwar Models.” I remember reading something about it in an American motorcycle magazine in the early 1970s, but that is about it. After punching a few keys on my computer a dozen different sites come up, with varied information. Any number of articles have probably been written about this bike in British magazines, but apparently those stories are not online.

Starting at the beginning means back to the first 997cc OHV Ariel 4G engine. An earlier, smaller, OHC version existed, but we’ll leave that out. That 4G was around from 1936 to 1959, with Ariel advertising Squariels that last year, along with the new two-strokes.

1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2
1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2

The biggest problem with an air-cooled square four is that the front cylinders do fine, but the rear pair can overheat. Over the quarter-century of the 4G’s production – minus a couple of years due to the war – there were continuous upgrades in the run that totaled some 12,000 bikes. The final Mark II version had an alloy cylinder block with pressed-in barrels, and a lightweight alloy cylinder head with a slightly X-shaped induction manifold feeding all four cylinders via just one SU carburetor. A single transverse camshaft operated the eight valves. Two separate cast aluminum exhaust manifolds ran four separate header pipes, better for cooling. The dry sump engine had eight pints of oil in the reservoir. The oil-bathed primary chain ran back to a dry clutch, and the four-speed gearbox was a Burman GB.

The original purpose of this model was to haul sidecars, so it did not have much in the way of horsepower – around 40 with the 7.2:1 compression – but bags of torque. Sprinting, the British word for drag racing, was popular in the 1950s, and a stock Mark II, being rather hefty, ran in the mid-15s with a speed of around 85 mph. One fellow put a supercharger on a Vincent V-twin and turned 11.3 seconds in 1958, but when somebody tried that with a 4G, it ended with a big BANG! as the cylinders separated from the crankcase.

1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2
1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2

A pair of brothers, George and Tim Healey, liked playing around with the 4Gs, and were sprinting them in the 1960s. Some time after Ariel shut down 4G production, the Healeys began gathering up the unsold stock. They had a shop in Redditch, a few miles south of the Ariel factory, and by 1967 the spares were running out and building replacement parts had become their full-time business, called the Ariel Sq4 Specialists. Then they decided to build their own motorcycle.

The old Square Four had a rather basic, and heavy, cradle frame, with an Ariel fork and Anstey-link plunger suspension at the back. The boys got in touch with Slater, who was making tubular spine-type frames for Vincents under an agreement with Fritz Egli (read about the Egli-Vincent here). Could he make a similar design for the Square Four? Not a problem. Essentially the engine was suspended from the frame, using half a dozen through-bolts. Up front a turnbuckle went from the steering head to the crankcase – just in case there might be a similar BANG!, this would prevent the crankcase from falling to the road. Slater built the prototypes, and production versions were manufactured in Redditch. The oil supply was held in the backbone, with the Healeys putting in an improved lubrication system and bolting an oil cooler on up front.

1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2
1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2

Metal Profile, a noted company that supplied forks to many British motorcycle companies, made the front fork, with tapered roller bearings used at the head. Rear shocks were by Girling, with two-way damping. Brakes were Italian, a powerful alloy drum having a pair of two leading shoes to slow the front wheel, single leading shoe at the back. Spoked wheels were both 18-inchers, with a 3.25 tire on the front, a 4.00 on the rear. The large gas tank on this prototype was a Slater design, but when the bike went into production, a more refined style was used. Instruments were speedo, tach, ammeter, sitting above a seven-inch headlight; a little clock was added to the production dash.

End result was somewhat impressive. Better cooling and lubrication allowed the compression ratio to be upped to 7.5:1. The Healey advertising said the 1000/4 put out 50 horsepower, 10 more than the old Mark II. Potential self-destruction kept radical changes at bay. Wheelbase was 57 inches, seat height 30 inches, and ground clearance at the unprotected sump was 7.5 inches. Most impressive was the weight, 355 pounds dry, 80 pounds less than the Mark II.

1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2
1971 Healey 1000/4, Prototype #2

The first showing of a production bike was at Britain’s big motorcycle show in late 1971, and improvements went on over the next six years, ending with disc brakes and mag wheels, Italian fork and shocks. But the price was high, more than the new-in-1975 Gold Wing, and the company shut down in 1977. Precisely how many production models were built and sold is not known, but 18 seems to be a fair number. Plus nine or 10 kits for people who already had the 4G engine. Collectability? A Healey sold at auction for $40,000 in 2016.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Tour Test Review | 2019 Indian Scout

Nipton California Indian Scout
Exploring the tiny community of Nipton, California, will uncover quirky secrets, like this old Chevy-turned-art installation. Photos by the author.

I knew I’d stumbled onto someplace…different…when I pulled into the packed dirt parking lot of the Nipton Trading Post, and it wasn’t just the huge glass octopus sculpture wriggling next to the highway. I rolled to a stop next to the five-room adobe hotel, which was built in 1910, almost startled by the silence after switching off the rumbling Indian Scout.

I could smell the hot, dusty leather of my saddlebags, and was very much aware of the crunching of sand and rock beneath my boots as I stood and swung a leg, stiff from hours of slogging across the desert, over my luggage roll and backrest. My skin tingled – someone was watching me.

For a few fleeting moments I was in another time, a wandering cowgirl who just rode into an unfamiliar – and dangerously quiet – town. A tumbleweed staggered across the empty dirt street to the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”…OK, maybe that last bit was just in my head. I doffed my hat – er, helmet – squinting in the harsh desert light, and turned to see that I was far from alone, and yes, I had definitely attracted some attention.

Old West map Nevada
Nipton sits just over the border from the Nevada, on the edge of the Mojave National Preserve, making it a convenient launch point for Las Vegas, Lake Mead and other desert attractions.

Two middle-aged guys got out of a fire engine red ’65 Mustang convertible and were walking toward me, clearly curious about my equally iconic motorcycle. Past them, clustered around the railroad tracks, was a team – posse? – of photographers and assistants, all focused on a blonde woman in a gauzy dress, prancing up and down on the tracks. Based on the tour bus parked in the shade I deduced this was an album cover photo shoot.

I stood for a moment, taking in the rest of the tiny settlement of Nipton: the aforementioned hotel, a restaurant called the Whistle Stop Café, a trading post, a historical marker and a few houses. Farther out in the scrubby desert, past the hotel, I glimpsed a scattering of white teepees, along with a brightly painted old car and what appeared to be metal sculptures. Yep, this is the place.

Trading Post in Nipton
The Trading Post in Nipton offers basic groceries and assorted Southwestern-themed art and jewelry.

Nipton, California, current population somewhere between 15 and 20 souls, was founded in 1905 as a stop on the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad, which merged with the Union Pacific Railroad in 1910. It feels very much in the middle of nowhere, despite being just 12 miles southeast of the bright casinos of Primm, Nevada, but positioned as it is on a lonely two-lane state highway in the Mojave Desert, it’s definitely off the beaten path.

I was heading to Las Vegas for a karate tournament on a 2019 Indian Scout that we’d outfitted with some touring accessories, and rather than just slab it the whole way I’d booked a night in Nipton. This put me in an ideal position for a nice ride up to the Hoover Dam and then north into Valley of Fire State Park, before dropping into Sin City to get my butt kicked at the tournament.

Nipton California metal sculptures
Metal sculptures are scattered throughout Nipton. This one does double-duty with a swinging chair suspended beneath.

Nipton’s location is convenient for a journey into the desert, be it the nearby Mojave National Preserve, Lake Mead or Lake Havasu, or the motorcycle destination of Laughlin. And its quirkiness appealed: accommodations include the old hotel, little “ecocabins” or, my choice, teepees. The ecocabins and teepees are solar-powered, just enough to run the interior lights and to charge your phone, but there are no TVs. The cabins are heated in the winter with woodstoves and the teepees have little propane heaters, but the weather during my visit in late April was warm enough that the provided blankets were plenty comfortable.

Nipton California teepee
I chose to stay in one of Nipton’s teepees, which are nicely furnished with a comfortable bed, LED lighting, chairs/tables and a small propane heater for chilly desert nights.

I was up with the sun the next morning, wanting to get to Boulder City, the gateway to Lake Mead and the awe-inspiring Hoover Dam, for breakfast. I’d already put 263 mostly freeway miles behind me the day before, and was settling into familiarity with the Scout, which we accessorized with Indian’s 19-inch Quick Release Windshield, sumptuous Desert Tan leather saddlebags and a matching rider backrest. My karate gear took up one whole saddlebag, my street clothes and toiletries the other, so I strapped a duffel across the back to hold my camera gear.

Indian’s Scout (read our full review here) is a Goldilocks weekend tourer for someone my size traveling one-up, with an easy-to-handle wet weight of 591 lbs. (as tested), plenty of cruising and passing power, adjustable ergonomics for reduced or extended reach and a smoothly loping cadence from the liquid-cooled 69ci (1,133cc) 60-degree V-twin that produced little in the way of nuisance vibration.

2019 Indian Scout
We added Indian’s accessory Desert Tan saddlebags and backrest to our 2019 Scout, making it a nice lightweight touring machine.
Indian Scout engine
Liquid-cooled 69ci (1,133cc) 60-degree V-twin is smooth and powerful with no annoying vibes.
Indian Scout Desert Tan saddlebags
Sumptuous Desert Lan saddlebags are genuine leather, with a hard plastic inner liner to help them keep their shape. They’re rather small inside, so I strapped a duffel across the back.

That is, as long as you don’t mind stopping often for fuel; I averaged 46.6 mpg from the 3.3-gallon tank, meaning 154 miles was my limit. In the lonely desert, that translates to “fill up whenever you can,” especially since the analog/LCD instrument lacks both a fuel gauge and fuel consumption data. Otherwise, the windshield causes the fat front tire to wander a bit at times, progressing from a minor annoyance to more a disconcerting experience in a stiff crosswind, but overall I was enjoying my ride on the Scout.

It’s also undeniably pretty, especially in the Indian Red/Thunder Black livery with gold pinstriping and feathered headdress Indian graphics that accentuate the Desert Tan seat, backrest and saddlebags. As I snapped roadside photos at the Hoover Dam, the new Mike O’Callaghan/Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge arcing overhead, many a passing driver’s head swiveled at the bike in appreciation. Completed in 1936, the dam still produces power for California, Nevada and Arizona, although falling water levels in Lake Mead have affected how much it can output. 

Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam provides power to parts of California, Nevada and Arizona. It’s still possible to drive across, after paying a fee and proceeding through a security checkpoint.

From there I cruised north through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and then into Valley of Fire State Park. Valley of Fire, as its name suggests, is full of interesting and beautiful red rock formations, and there are plenty of pullouts with picnic tables and hiking trails where you can stop and stretch your legs. I turned north at the Visitor Center for a ride into the heart of the park, the road dipping, climbing and weaving through a Technicolor landscape of eroded sandstone that’s more than 150 million years old.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area
The road through Lake Mead National Recreation Area is smooth and flowing, with vistas ranging from wide-open desert to red rock cliffs to low mountains.
Valley of Fire State Park Indian Scout
Red rock formations in Valley of Fire State Park are an impressive backdrop for the red, black and gold Indian.

Tourist traffic can be heavy, especially through this section, and there are several blind, off-camber turns that can catch you off-guard, so I was happy to putt along and enjoy the scenery, my dance with the Scout a gentle sway. At 5 feet, 9 inches, I found the standard riding position to be comfortably feet-forward; shorter and taller riders may opt for the reduced or extended reach ergo kits to tailor the bike to their needs.

In fact, I was enjoying myself so much that when Scout and I returned to I-15 on the west side of the park, for a moment I wished I could turn north and continue exploring the desert’s hidden secrets, perhaps discovering more gems like Nipton. But I had made a commitment, so south to Las Vegas it was. Still, there are more roads and more secrets to uncover…where should I point my front wheel next?

Nipton UFO
More Nipton discoveries: a grounded “UFO” flies a tattered Stars and Stripes. The sculpture in the background is made of old shopping carts.

2019 Indian Scout Specs

Base Price: $11,999
Price as Tested: $15,804 (paint, windshield, backrest and saddlebags)
Website: indianmotorcycle.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 60-degree V-twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 69 ci (1,133cc)
Bore x Stroke: 99.0 x 73.6mm
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 61.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 29 degrees/4.7 in.
Seat Height: 26.5 in.
Wet Weight: 591 lbs. (as tested)
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gals., last 0.5 gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 AKI min. (low/avg/high) 41.4/46.6/54.4

Source: RiderMagazine.com

Retrospective: 1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo

1983 Suzuki XN85D Turbo
1983 Suzuki XN85D Turbo. Owner: Cliff Schoening, Bremerton, Washington.

It would be entertaining to find out how much this little turbo cost Suzuki, as in development and manufacturing expenses versus sales. Probably it was a heckuva lot. In the very early 1980s turbo-mania was in the air, and Honda and Yamaha were the first out, with the four Japanese manufacturers prone to following one another.

Remember the Universal Japanese Motorcycle? Four cylinders in line, preferably with an overhead camshaft or two. Well, this was the turbo version, and while Honda used the OHV V-twin CX500 for its turbo, the rest were UJMs. In 1981 Suzuki came out with two 650cc UJMs, the chain-driven sporty E and the shaft-drive commuter G. Similar, but different. And Suzuki realized that this two-valve (per cylinder) motor was rapidly becoming obsolete, replaced by the four-valver. So how could it get a little more use from the powerplant? Put it in the Turbo!

1983 Suzuki XN85D Turbo

For the Turbo the engineers took the G’s one-piece forged crankshaft running on plain bearings, instead of the E’s roller bearings. Apparently plain bearings are smoother running. But the three 650s all had those two-valve heads, and twin overhead camshafts, that are the pretty much the same. However, everything on the Turbo’s engine, from connecting rods to cylinder studs, was strengthened.

Amusingly, when looking at the magazine spec sheets for all three bikes one notes that they all have a bore and stroke of 65 x 55.8, but the E and G are said to have 674cc capacity, while the Turbo is 673cc. The wonders of finite numbers. And copy editing.

After Honda and Yamaha began working on their turbos, probably a little corporate spying was going on. I can see the Suzuki marketing types charging into the CEO’s office and demanding that a turbo be built. Maybe somebody ran it past the financial department, maybe not. The XN85 appeared less than a year after the others, but more work had gone into the project, as it was truly a semi-new machine, excepting the reworked motor.

1983 Suzuki XN85D Turbo

As anybody who wrote a Ph.D. thesis on Japanese turbocharged motorcycles knows, that funny XN85 alpha-numeration came from Suzuki’s claim that the turbo 673cc put out 85 horsepower – which it might have, at the crankshaft. Fair enough, but the real world was more interested in what happened at the rear wheel, where a dyno measured 71 horses at 8,000 rpm. And close to 50 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm. Which was quite respectable, and a lightweight rider might sneak into the 11s in the popular quarter-mile drags. The flow of air and a big oil cooler, with more than three quarts of oil in the system, kept the engine heat under control. A new aspect of the cooling system was the forcible spray of oil on the bottom of the pistons, quite useful in keeping these little round things intact.

The IHI (Ishikawajima-Harima Industries) turbo was mounted close to the electronic fuel injectors, which were just beyond the butterfly valve, and the blast of pressurized air would jam that fuel right into those combustion chambers. Where, in the interests of longevity, the compression ratios had been drastically lowered, from the 9.5:1 of the E and G to 7.4:1. The turbo had a non-adjustable pressure gauge and when the boost went over 9.6 psi the waste gate would open. The electronic ignition also had an ability to read boost pressures, retarding timing as the boost mounted. And should that waste gate get stuck, the ignition could deal with that as well. Pretty smart device. When the turbo began to intrude around 5,000 rpm, the lag was noticeable, but less than on the competition.

1983 Suzuki XN85D Turbo

The real trick with this XN85 was not so much the engine, but the chassis. The main frame was a round-tube double-cradle affair, with a triangulated backbone running to the steering head. Up front was a 37mm Kayaba fork, with anti-dive and air-adjustability, providing 5.5 inches of travel. Rake was a conservative 27 degrees, with trail of 3.9 inches. The fork connected to a 16-inch front wheel – which surprised many. Sixteen inches?! That was racing stuff. But even with a pretty lengthy 58.7 inches between axles, the bike handled extremely well. Probably helped along by the Full-Floater rear suspension, using an aluminum swingarm with caged needle bearings, the single Kayaba shock having remote hydraulic preload adjustment. And 4.1 inches of travel.

1983 Suzuki XN85D Turbo

The front wheel was endowed with a pair of 10-inch discs and single-piston calipers, while the rear wheel, a 17-incher, had an 11-inch disc with a single-piston caliper. They sound a bit iffy when compared to today’s GSX-R650 with radially mounted monoblock brakes, but the XN85 is 36 years in the past.

The half fairing looked great, and did a good job of protecting the rider if he wished to exceed the government-mandated 55-mph speed limit. The seat, 30.5 inches above the ground, was comfy, and the flat handlebar allowed for a cheerful 200-mile range – which was about what the five-gallon tank allowed. The fairing did disguise the fact that a modified version of the Ram Air System served to help cool the cylinders; the new design did not look at all like the RAS on the two-stroke triples in the 1970s.

Somehow the Turbo’s curb weight had shot up 70 pounds over the previous E model, weighing in at 550 pounds.

According to numbers found on the Internet, the factory produced only 1,153 of these turbos from 1983 to 1985, of which 300 in the first batch came to the United States. And sold at $4,700. A good reason for that was the third iteration of Suzuki’s normally-aspirated 750 four, which also came out in 1983, now with four valves per cylinder and Full-Floater rear suspension. It put out 72 horsepower at the rear wheel, weighed 30 pounds less than the Turbo and cost a mere $3,500. Talk about trumping your own ace!

Obviously the remaining 853 turbos were sold in motorcycling hotspots like Mongolia and Libya, in case you are looking for a used one.

Source: RiderMagazine.com

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 and YZF-R1M | First Look Review

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M and YZF-R1
The 2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M (left) and YZF-R1 (right) benefit from engine refinements, new electronics and suspension upgrades. Photos courtesy Yamaha.

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.

Check out our Rider’s Guide to New/Updated Motorcycles for 2019 here!

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.

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M and YZF-R1
The 2020 YZF-R1/M’s crossplane crankshaft inline-four is mostly unchanged, with a few refinements like cylinder heads, injectors and finger-follower rocker arms.

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).

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M and YZF-R1
Full-color TFT display includes Yamaha Ride Control, where the rider can make adjustments to various electronic systems.

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.

2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M and YZF-R1
2020 Yamaha YZF-R1 in Team Yamaha Blue.
2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M and YZF-R1
2020 Yamaha YZF-R1M in Carbon Fiber.

Source: RiderMagazine.com