2014 Triumph Thunderbird Commander and LT Ride Review

wild ones

by: Scott Cochran
photos by: Alessio Barbanti, Paul Barshon, Tom Riles & Freddie Kirn

March 6, 2014: Maybe I was surprised because Southern California wasn’t on my motorcycle riding radar. Yet here I am, just north of downtown San Diego on Highland Valley Road, tearing past orange groves and palm tree farms, grinding the floorboards on this 2014 Triumph Thunderbird Commander less than 15 minutes from urban lunacy.

This past February, while the rest of the country was caught up in the grip of the latest “polar vortex” yours truly joined a select group of moto-journalists for Triumph’s world press launch in balmy Southern California.

It was hard not to feel sorry for the rest of my motorcycle riding buddies on the East Coast.

We’d seen images of the new Thunderbird Commander and Thunderbird LT when the bikes were unveiled at EICMA in Italy in November and were anxious to throw a leg over each to see how the “on paper” improvements affected the real world riding experience.

Now those statistics were becoming real to me as I wound through the Anza-Borrego Desert and up and over Palomar Mountain, pausing to take in the view of Salton Sea, the largest lake in California.

Sitting in the pre-ride briefing, waiting on the presentation to start, I find myself pondering the history of this legacy marque.

both bikes

It’s easy for the American “biker” to overlook this brand, especially the segment that leans towards Milwaukee iron.

Part of the reason is Triumph abandoned the “lifestyle” buyer years ago and (for better or worse) concentrated its efforts on the “performance” market.

Blame it on economics, or stubborn British management, but either way the brand that “invented biker attitude” with Marlon Brando in the movie The Wild Ones has been relegated to the sidelines while others cashed in on the hard core biker lifestyle as it grew into the largest percentage of North American motorcycle sales.

Upstarts like Victory Motorcycles and newly revived Indian have made some headway in courting the Harley rider, Triumph hasn’t had much success in infiltrating that segment.

So in 2010, when Triumph tapped Harley-Davidson and Buell veteran, Greg Heichelbech, as its North American CEO, observers expected the day would come when the Brits would shift the styling of their cruisers to resemble the “lifestyle” market that exists in America today.

That day has arrived.

 

T_Symbol_Standard_BlackOnWhiteMany people forget that In World War I, Triumph produced more than 30,000 motorycles for the Allies, the majority of those being the Model H, also known as Type H, or the “Trusty Triumph.”  Powered by a 499cc air cooled single cylinder, It was the first Triumph which did not have pedals making it a “true” motorcycle.  It is also considered by many to be the first “modern” motorcycle.  

Standing in front of a room full of American motorcycle journalists, Simon Warburton, product manager for Triumph set the tone when he said, “We believe we have a credible alternative to Harley-Davidson.”

Greg Heichelbech CEO of Triumph America followed that up when he stood up and the first words out of his mouth was “Triumph’s Back! And we’re getting back to our roots and the things we did in the 50′s, 50′s and 70′s.”

Heichelbech went on to explain, “The Thunderbird was the bike that put Triumph on the map and helped us become the number one import brand in the 50′s and 60′s” (when “biker” became synonymous with the bad boy image)

But a lot has changed since the 1960′s, besides the size of the engine. The early Tbirds boasted a class leading 650 cc motor and a seat that, while comfortable for its time, would be considered torture today. And we won’t even talk about drum vs disc brakes. Yes a lot has changed and it’s not lost on the Brits as Warburton confided later. “We’re not trying to be Harley-Davidson, but we think this bike will appeal to those riders who want performance, laid back styling and aggressive handling.”

After a couple of hours saddle time on both bikes, I can safely say the engineers in Hinckley hit their bulls-eye.

T_Commander_static035

Rather than replace the previous iterations, the 2014 Commander and LT are new additions to the T-Bird family and are fitted with the upgraded power plant making these the largest parallel-twin (1699 cc/103 cu in) in the world, producing 93 horses and 146 fp of torque, enough to satisfy even the most aggressive of riders.

Momentum isn’t just for sports teams, and as Sir Issac taught us; The momentum of a moving object increases with its mass and its speed. The heavier the object and the faster it is moving, the greater its momentum and the harder it is to stop. Both models are heavy cruisers, but with the LT (which stands for “light tourer” weighing in just south of 750 lbs, add a couple riders and gear and you’ve got close to a half a ton of accelerated momentum. Both models come from the factory with ABS standard equipment. The front brakes are twin floating 310mm disc brakes with 4 piston calipers and the rear brakes are single 310mm disc with Brembo 2 piston floating calipers.

Thankfully, the ABS on the Commander model I rode performed flawlessly. Since this was a worldwide launch, the Triumph representative leading the group had been on this same route 10 or 12 times in the last two weeks. He knew it like the back of his hand. Ahead of me was Bruce Steever from MCN who has the chops to hang with most anyone on the track and is local and has ridden the area numerous times. Behind me is Mike Vaughn, former CEO of Triumph, also a sport bike guy and who lives (literally) on the route we were riding.

While I’m not the fastest on track days, (hell, who am I kidding…I don’t try to ride on the track!) this was not the best place to be as a flat land touring guru, trying desperately not to be the “slow guy.”

So the inevitable was bound to happen. I came in way too fast and overcooked some of the more tortuous turns on the Mesa Grande highway near Lake Henshaw and grabbed a little too much brake lever.
On any other non ABS model, the result would’ve been ugly. Lowside get off at best, high side flip over at worst. But thankfully the only drama was a few chirps from the tires as the modulators kicked in and I was able to slow enough to lean over and stay in my lane without laying the bike completely down.
Here’s as good a point as any to mention the lean angle of both bikes. With a seat height of just 27.5 inches, both the LT and Commander are low slung and easy to maneuver at low speeds and parking lot dances. However, that becomes disadvantageous out on the twisties as the floorboards touch down way too early.

T_Symbol_Standard_BlackOnWhiteMarlon Brando rode a 1950 Thunderbird 6T in the movie The Wild Ones and in 1955 Ford licensed the Thunderbird name from Triumph for a new luxury car eventualy producing 4.4 million units, which ended in 2005.

 

However, the slide rule society at Triumph knew this would be an issue so they mounted wear plates under the boards which absorb the road rash instead of damaging the more expensive chrome and painted parts. Still it’s a bit disconcerting the first few times they scrub and downright sphincter tightening when you’re fully leaned over, heading into the oncoming lane and having to choose whether to stand up and apply the brakes or keep leaning and hoping that you don’t bounce into oncoming traffic.

My takeaway from that is this; know your limitations and those of your bike. Luckily I didn’t trash the Commander or lose any skin, and I didn’t make the same mistake the next day on the LT.

SUSPENSION

Simon Warburton made a point to stress that besides providing smooth acceleration and braking, Triumph engineers were keen on improving the comfort and handling of these new Thunderbird’s. With an all new frame and swing-arm, designers included the engine as a stressed member, which reduces the flex in the chassis and gives it a more stable footprint.commander and details

While the rake and trail are slightly different on the two models, the handling characteristics are essentially the same. Although almost every journalist I spoke to agreed that the Commander is the “sportier” of the two. Chalk some of that up to the extra weight *(saddlebags, seat, luggage rack, wheels) and that big piece of Plexiglas out front on the LT and the rest to the slight difference is in how the new shocks affects the bikes.

Out on the rear, Triumph installed a pair of adjustable dual rate spring loaded shocks. Designed to offer a cushy ride on long trips, the 4.1 inches of travel easily soaked up the occasional broken asphalt potholes and all too often irregular bumps on our two lane travel through the So Cal desert. In the mountain twisties, I did find myself wishing for a slightly stouter setup. Thankfully there is a five position preload manual adjustment on each shock when you need a little something stiffer.

tshirt

The handlebars on the Commander provide for a more “forward” lean than on the LT. This works perfect without a windscreen. I dislike cruisers which place the rider in a more upright position and forces them to “hang on” to the grips when going sans windscreen. Very uncomfortable and dangerous.

On the Commander, that little tweak to the position of the bars made all the difference in comfort and stability from other “naked” cruisers.

SEAT OF THE PANTS

Then there is the seat. It’s usually the first thing we all want to change out when we buy a stock bike from the showroom floor. To paraphrase a famous politician (and take it entirely out of context,) when thinking of the seat on these new T-Birds “The butt stops here.” Ok, I hear the collective groan from the peanut gallery but I needed something witty to highlight how impressive this new seat is.

Consider that Triumph designers created a seat with three layers of different foam densities and a lumbar support (almost 4 inches total) and kept the seat height under 28 inches, I’d wager the seat isn’t going to be the first thing you’ll want to change. Granted, we only rode for a little more than an hour on our longest stretch in the saddle, so maybe I shouldn’t be bragging on the comfort just yet. However, by the time you read this we will have an LT in the office garage and will have spent 6 or 7 hours straight in the saddle. I’ll let you know if it performs as good as it looks.T_LT_details016

Both the Commander and the LT are available in two tone color schemes. The LT’s Caspian Blue/Crystal White paint is the best looking (in my humble opinion) and it also comes in Lava Red/Phantom Black. (Retail $16,999) The Commander comes in Crimson Sunset Red/Lava Red and Phantom Black/ Storm Grey. (Retail $15,699)

We’ll have a long term test on the LT in the next few months.

Triumph purists may decry the new direction the company has taken with these T-Birds, but they shouldn’t.

The brand isn’t abandoning its performance heritage, the Brits have simply created two cruiser models under $17k with modern performance yet comfortable and classic styling,

If anything, Triumph fans should be cheering. The Wild Ones are back!

(more static and detail photos in the photo gallery after the obligatory group picture.

That's the Salton Sea in the background.

That’s the Salton Sea in the background.

 

Just In time for Bike Week; Two New Harley-Davidson Models

The Return of the Rebellious Low Rider; Tour-Ready SuperLow 1200T

 Fresh off the unveiling of the new Harley-Davidson Street750 and the launch of Project RUSHMORE,   Harley-Davidson® (NYSE:HOG) unleashed today two new motorcycles that expand its diverse line-up of street bikes, and put more models for more riders on the showroom floor of each Harley-Davidson dealer.

The mid-year release of the retro-cool Low Rider® and rangy SuperLow® 1200T completes the largest new-model launch in Harley-Davidson’s 110-year history.

“It’s been a fantastic six months for us,” said Matt Levatich, Harley-Davidson Motor Company President and Chief Operating Officer. “First Project RUSHMORE, then Harley-Davidson Street, now the new SuperLow 1200T and Low Rider models — all are the result of being customer led and delivering riders the technical prowess and rebellious spirit that they want infused in each and every new Harley.”

low riderLow Rider

In 1977, Harley-Davidson created a ride-it-hard, put-it-away dirty, make-your-own-boundaries custom motorcycle that became an icon – the Low Rider. Today that defiant attitude returns with a vengeance as the legendary Low Rider model name is reprised for an all-new cruiser that rolls with old-school class and exciting new performance. A polished headlamp visor, wrinkle black trim, and split five-spoke aluminum wheels are touchstone styling elements from the original Low Rider model.

The unrelenting thrust of the Twin Cam 103 powertrain signals departure with a satisfying, throaty tone through twisting header pipes feeding a 2-into-1 exhaust. Suspension is calibrated for all-day comfort and precise handling, while dual-front disc brakes deliver capable stopping power. The new adjustable seat and handlebar risers enable a perfect fit for more riders.  Ample Genuine Motor Accessories offer endless possibilities for self-expression, so any rider can own the look and own the road.

SuperLow 1200T

Harley-Davidson opens the door to touring adventure with the SuperLow 1200T, a motorcycle that combines a nimble chassis with essential touring features and the power to ride to the horizon. A detachable windshield, locking saddlebags and Michelin® Scorcher™ 11T touring tires are standard equipment. Docking points accommodate detachable accessory racks and backrests for ease of customization.

1200T

A new seat and control ergonomics are shaped specifically to give more riders long-distance comfort. The SuperLow 1200T can run with the pack thanks to the power of a 1200cc Evolution® V-Twin engine, and it weighs 118 pounds less than the lightest Harley-Davidson Big Twin touring motorcycle. The finish is premium Harley-Davidson with aluminum wheels, an available two-tone paint scheme and plenty of brilliant chrome.

 

To swing a leg over a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle visit h-d.com to find a local dealer. The Low Rider and SuperLow 1200T models start arriving today in dealerships across the country, and are available to demo during Daytona Bike Week at the Harley-Davidson display at the Speedway.

Brand new Ducati Diavel model unveiled in Geneva

From Press Release

  • New Diavel models with many new features unveiled by Claudio Domenicali (Ducati CEO) during the VW Group Night on the eve of the Geneva Motor Show
  • Stunning, Bologna-built sport cruiser boasts enhanced design, comfort and ergonomics and a new, even smoother and higher-performing engine
  • New Diavel models to arrive in Ducati stores from April 2014 onwards
Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy) – Geneva (Switzerland), 3 March 2014 – The brand new Ducati Diavel made its first public appearance at a special preview presentation in Geneva, during the prestigious Volkswagen Group Night. On the eve of the 84th edition of the International Motor Show of Geneva (running from 6-16 March), Claudio Domenicali (CEO of Ducati Motor Holding) personally unveiled the new model on stage during the important evening, providing a stunning preview of the latest machine to join the Ducati range during 2014.
Having introduced its new range of models at the Milan International EICMA Motorcycle Show in November 2013, Ducati’s latest presentation of the new Diavel now successfully achieves the company’s industrial development plan, which had promised one completely new model (the Monster 1200) and three ‘family-extension’ models: the 899 Panigale, the exclusive 1199 “Superleggera” and now the new Diavel.
 Diavel-001
Ducati now presents further enhancement of its sport cruiser model, featuring the latest version of the Testastretta 11° DS engine, a new exhaust system and latest technological elements such as the new full-LED headlight, all combining the powerful and assertive personality of the model with the sophisticated styling synonymous with the iconic Ducati brand.
The new Diavel follows the company’s “Performance Redefined” philosophy, using cutting-edge innovation and technology to provide a smoother, safer and more rider-friendly experience, enabling easier access for the ever-increasing number of people who desire the unique thrill of riding a Ducati.
The new machine remains in a class of its own, unique, innovative and bold and a benchmark that continues to attract motorcyclists around the world. Built to have a commanding presence, though lightweight and agile in typical Ducati style, the new Diavel takes the rider/motorcycle relationship to another level in absolute comfort. For connoisseurs of technology, the latest generation Testastretta 11° Dual Spark engine combines with full LED illumination, ABS, Ducati Traction Control and Ducati Riding Modes to deliver a confidence-inspiring superiority, while new styling, 162hp and 205kg* (452lb) of pure Ducati drives a comfortable sport lifestyle previously only dreamt of.
Merging the worlds of power and style is now achieved with convincing precision. A specially engineered 240 section rear tyre combined with Ducati chassis technology serves up mind-blowing handling and lean angles which defy the laws of physics, whether carving through curves or simply cruising the boulevards.
The new Diavel is dressed in stylish Dark Stealth livery, a black trellis frame and black wheels. The Diavel Carbon offers the choice of traditional Ducati Red over Matte Carbon with red frame or the stunning new Star White over Matte Carbon with white frame, both with black, forged wheels by Marchesini, turned and milled to expose the natural aluminium. Both models will start to arrive in Ducati stores around the world from April 2014 onwards.

Castrol Rocket Aims for World Land Speed Record

 

Salt from the famous Bonneville Flats on the Castrol Rocket tire

Salt from the famous Bonneville Flats on the Castrol Rocket tire

ATLANTA – Once proclaimed the king of the Bonneville Salt Flats, Triumph Motorcycles is back at work on its latest innovation, this time with the world’s most technologically-advanced streamlined motorcycle – the Hot Rod Conspiracy/Carpenter Racing Castrol Rocket.

The Castrol Rocket is unique in that it’s a 1,000-horsepower motorcycle built like a fighter jet. The project underwent its first testing in August 2013 at the famed Bonneville Salt Flatsin northwestern Utah with the goal of an eventual 400-mph-plus record-breaking run. The current American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) motorcycle land speed record is 376.156 mph, set in 2010, by Rocky Robinson with the Ack Attack streamliner.

Castrol has been actively involved with land speed racing on multiple platforms across the globe since competitors started running at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1914,” said Rob Corini, Brand Manager, Castrol Motorcycle and Powersports Products. “The Castrol Rocket personifies our heritage as a performance brand, with an incredible balance of power and aerodynamics, and is capable of amazing speeds. It’s the ultimate symbol of performance.”

A shared passion for land speed racing brought aerodynamic engineer Matt Markstaller, engine builder Bob Carpenter and Daytona 200 winner Jason DiSalvo together. The cross-country team – from Oregon, New Jersey and Alabama respectively – quickly discovered a shared interest to create and race the world’s fastest motorcycle. The Castrol Rocket is their labor of love – an homage to the high-

Jason DiSalvo is set to attempt to capture the land speed record on the Rocket

Jason DiSalvo is set to attempt to capture the land speed record on the Rocket

performance heritage of Castrol and Triumph.

“Land speed racing is the purest form of motorsport. It’s about bringing all of your ingenuity, resources and determination together for a constant battle against the elements,” said pilot Jason DiSalvo. “The salt surface has little traction. The wind pushes against you from every side. But what’s really special about Bonneville Land Speed Racing is the people. The conditions are so challenging that for the past 100 years, racers with little else in common have banded together to support and encourage each other to become the world’s fastest.”

The Triumph name has been synonymous with speed since its four record-breaking motorcycle records with Devil’s Arrow, Texas Cee-gar, Dudek/Johnson and Gyronaut X1. From 1955 to 1970, with the exception of a brief 33-day period, Triumph was “The World’s Fastest Motorcycle.” The Castrol Rocket aims to restore that title.

CastrolRocket_Hero_8

 

“This project is a celebration of Castrol and Triumph’s motorsports heritage, innovation, courage and perseverance,” said Greg Heichelbech, President and CEO, Triumph Motorcycles North America. “It’s 

an incredible opportunity to simultaneously chase history and celebrate our heritage. Our hats are off to the Hot Rod Conspiracy/Carpenter Racing team and all of the racers who make land speed racing such a colorful and meaningful sport.

Castrol_A70R1706

Developing a streamliner is a process and a multi-year commitment,” said Heichelbech. “Last year we showed up at Bonneville with a hand built motorcycle that had never been run, and we left with a race bike. Since those inaugural teething runs last summer, we’ve continued development work on the entire motorcycle, including engine development and dyno testing and tuning. We’re excited to see what this year brings.”

 CASTROL ROCKET SPECS:

  • Chassis: Carbon Kevlar monocoque
  • Dimensions: 25’ x 2’ x 3’
  • Engines: Two Triumph Rocket III engines
  • Horsepower: 1,000-plus-horsepower at 9,000 rpm
  • Torque: 500-plus lbs. combined
  • Suspension: Custom made by Hot Rod Conspiracy
  • Fuel: Methanol
  • Tires: Goodyear Land Speed Special
  • Engine Lubricant: Castrol Power RS™ 4T 10W-40 full synthetic oil

For more information on the Castrol Rocket, please visit castrolrocket.com.

 

Indian Ink; Wearing the Brand

In honor of Tat Tuesday, (also known as Fat Tuesday) we wanted to bring you this story of a unique tattoo.

Lonnie Hannah has been riding Harley-Davidson’s for a long time and he’s been a loyal customer. But, his connection with Indian motorcycles goes back longer to when his father built an Indian from spare parts. Now Lonnie, (who started working for the new Indian motorcycle company) is getting the ink to show he’s ready to change brands.

Yes, this is a promotional video from Indian, but that doesn’t change the fact that it looks like the Harley/Indian rivalry is back, in a big way. Is the market big enough for both? What do you think?

Harley-Davidson Motor Company Named Official Motorcycle of Bike Week

harley-davidson-rais_600x0wDaytona Beach, FL –According to the Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce,  If you’re not on a Harley during  Bike Week 2014,, then you’re not official.  But, that’s somewhat old news as Harley-Davidson has been the “official” sponsor for 26 consecutive years.   Daytona Beach Bike Week this Friday March 7th  and runs through March 16th

This year Harley has combined their corporate footprint at the Speedway.  

After several years with our displays split between Beach Street and Daytona International Speedway, we’re consolidating into one action-packed display at the Speedway to make it easier for our fans to experience everything we have in one easy-to-access location,” said Paul James, Harley-Davidson Director of North America Customer Experience. “And on Saturday March 8, we’ll be electrifying our display with an exciting special announcement at 1 p.m. that our fans will not want to miss.”

Harley-Davidson’s display at Daytona International Speedway will be open from Saturday, March 8 to Saturday, March 15, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with free motorcycle parking and a wide range of displays and activities including 2014 model year motorcycles, Genuine Motor Accessories, Harley-Davidson MotorClothes, the Fit Shop, H-D1 customization, a Women’s Area, Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) motorcycle raffle, H-D Visa, Willie G. and H.O.G. merchandise, beverages, musical entertainment and more. Harley-Davidson will be a stop on the AMSOIL Treasure Hunt map, also located at the Official Harley-Davidson tent at the Daytona International Speedway (H.O.G. tent on their footprint) where riders may get their passport stamped .

Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit harley-davidson.com.

Additional information on Bike Week in Daytona Beach can be found by downloading the Official Bike Week iPhone App and also on the Official Daytona Bike Week Website at www.officialbikeweek.com  featuring the largest online resource for attendees and designed to offer a litany of choices of activity.

For information on any aspect of Bike Week 2014, contact the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce at 386-255-0981.

Akrapovič goes ‘cruising’ with the Harley-Davidson Open-Line range

Akrapovič has launched an aftermarket premium range of exhaust systems to target the most popular Harley-Davidson models and give owners even more exclusivity from their hogs.

The Akrapovič Open-Line range is a unique design that offers outstanding performance and the unmistakable deep resonant sound of Akrapovič. In a genre where bigger and louder is definitely better, the new Harley exhausts from Akrapovič will transform the look and sound of the motorcycle and make an already unmistakable machine stand out even more from the crowd.

The finest craftsmanship from Akrapovič’s manufacturing technicians goes into every single exhaust, with hours of intricate design and development. The latest techniques and materials—as well as knowledge developed on the racetrack—all go into making these some of the best-looking accessories you can add to a Harley-Davidson, and ones that will also improve the whole sensory experience. During the production process, the exhaust was carefully tuned for that authentic custom sound experience enjoyed not only by the rider, but everyone else.

Manufactured to the highest standards from stainless steel, these pipes are available in chrome (S-HDTOR1-C) and black-coated (S-HDTOR1-B) versions. All of the Akrapovič Open-Line exhaust systems include headers, mufflers, and heat-shields, and an optional noise-reduction insert is available for those times when a Harley rider wants to be a bit more conservative—if there ever is such a time!

The Open-Line range isn’t just about looks and sound, though. Akrapovič engineers have shaved an incredible 26 lbs of weight from the OEM system and then added an extra 6 lb-ft of torque in the mid-range—just where it’s needed.

The Harley-Davidson Open-Line range is available for many models, including the Fat Boy, Electra Glide, Switchback, and Road King, among others. This great-looking exhaust is very easy to install, and adding it to one of America’s finest machines is an extremely simple task that can comfortably be carried out by the owner. A full explanation and easy-to-use mounting manual is included with the system. For perfect performance, throttle response, and durability, a specially developed mapping from Akrapovič’s partner Dynojet must be used. Please visit www.powercommander.com/powercommander for more details.

To see more from Akrapovič, visit its booth at Daytona Bike Week, from March 7th to 16th, 2014. This Slovenia-based company will be displaying its full custom-line (Open and Slip-On) exhaust systems and offering complete sales, marketing, and technical support. Whether it’s for a Harley or another motorcycle, come along and see the fantastic range of high-quality, precision-engineered exhausts that Europe’s finest manufacturer has to offer.

Akrapovič will be displaying its amazing Morsus custom bike, which signaled Akrapovič’s move into top-quality aftermarket custom motorcycle exhausts. This distinctive machine was a joint venture between Akrapovič and Slovenia-based Dreamachine Motorcycles—itself a renowned European custom workshop—and the Morsus simply stunned the European custom world when it was launched.

Showcasing a styling theme that echoed Akrapovič‘s emblem (morsus is Latin for ‘sting’ or ‘bite’), this outrageous and head-turning machine is a fusion of materials including carbon fiber and titanium. Mimicking an animal in many subtle ways is part of the bike’s appeal, from its clip-on style handlebars resembling claws, through to the bike’s mid-section, which curves in the same way the creature’s body arches, and the sweeping tail section that imitates the muscular and assertive sting. Built with the same passion and experience that goes into every Akrapovič exhaust, the Morsus is special, different, and very unique!

 

WARNING / USA & California

Various U.S. states and the U.S. federal government have individual laws regulating the use of aftermarket exhaust parts and systems, especially as those parts and systems modify, remove, or replace original equipment catalysts. Please consult the appropriate laws in your area before installing any aftermarket part or system on your vehicle to ensure compliance with all applicable laws. Neither Akrapovič d.d., Akrapovic America LLC nor any of their subsidiaries or the sellers of the parts or systems make any representation that any of their parts or systems comply with any such laws.

 

California laws prohibit the use of any aftermarket exhaust part or system that modifies, removes or replaces original equipment catalysts unless the California Air Resources Board has issued an Executive Order regarding such part or system or unless the part or system is exempted by being used only on racing vehicles on closed courses. Neither Akrapovič d.d., Akrapovic America LLC nor any of their subsidiaries make any representation that any of their parts or systems has received such an Executive Order or that any of their parts or systems conform with the racing vehicles exemption. The purchasers are entirely responsible for informing themselves of applicable California laws and to comply with those laws.

Yamaha Motor Corporation USA (Yamaha) is recalling certain model year 2009-2013 YZFR1 motorcycles manufactured October 2008 through August 2013 and 2012-2013 XTZ12 motorcycles

YamaharecallNHTSA022014Yamaha Motor Corporation USA (Yamaha) is recalling certain model year 2009-2013 YZFR1 motorcycles manufactured October 2008 through August 2013 and 2012-2013 XTZ12 motorcycles manufactured October 2011 through August 2013. In the affected motorcycles, use of the headlight may generate enough heat to cause the bulb connections to expand, resulting in arcing in the headlight bulb socket which could cause the socket to overheat, melt and cause the headlight to malfunction. A headlight failure reduces the rider’s ability to see clearly and the motorcycle’s visibility to oncoming traffic, increasing the risk of a crash. Yamaha will notify owners and dealers will replace the headlight socket, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in February 2014. Owners may contact Yamaha at 1-800-962-7926. Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.

Suzuki GW 250; Great Beginner Bike

by: Walt Lumpkin

The Suzuki GW 250 is a ideal beginner bike or "refresher" for the returning motorcycle rider

The Suzuki GW 250 is a ideal beginner bike or “refresher” for the returning motorcycle rider

The newest bike in the Suzuki line is the GW 250 and it gives them a low cost niche in the starter motorcycle lineup. This lightweight bike is 248cc’s of two wheel fun directed primarily toward the first time rider. With an MSRP of $3999 it is affordable for most wallets and is a good choice for those who have no interest in purchasing a used bike and dealing with the pitfalls that usually come with such a purchase while perfecting the intricacies of learning to ride on two wheels.

The GW250 boasts a side by side liquid cooled twin cylinder engine delivering enough horsepower to the ground to satisfy most beginners. While twenty four horses may not seem to be adequate to those of us who have been riding for years  think back to the first time you straddled a  large displacement bike.  Now think about how daunting it’s power and weight can be to a novice rider.

This bike is not intended to be an long touring interstate highway cruiser but is plenty of motorcycle for those who need practice and transportation on surface streets and rural highways with double nickel speed limits. During our media test rides speeds of eighty plus miles per hour were obtained on I-4. Although the bike is not really in its element at those speeds it is good to know you have the capability if needed.

The GW250 seat height of just over thirty inches and narrow seat makes it ideal for the new female rider and male riders that are vertically challenged. The ability to place both feet flat on the pavement when stopped is one thing that builds confidence in new riders. The stylish GW250 also makes for a great bike for the college set that just needs affordable and fuel efficient transportation around campus. It is easier to park too.

Highway speed is easily accessible via the smooth shifting six speed constant mesh transmission and the hybrid ergonomic seating makes the ride comfortable for most riders. The positioning is somewhere between sport bike and normal mid controls. The seat and suspension is fairly comfortable even for a six foot two hundred thirty pound guy like me. Overall Suzuki engineers have hit the middle ground by focusing on the best of sport bike and cruiser ergonomics.

The chain driven GW250 weighs in at a very light four hundred and three pounds. It is equipped with front and rear discs brakes that are more than adequate to stop this lightweight chain driven looker. The dash contains both analog and digital gauges along with flashy indicator lights. The electric starter brings the 250 to life with an effortless press of the starter button.

The GW250 gives Suzuki an entry level bike that should appeal to a wide range of consumers and the twelve month unlimited warranty should give buyers the confidence in Suzuki to take care of their new offering to the US market.

What do you think?  Take the survey after the photographs

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You Won’t Believe Which Brand Received The Worst “Reliability” Rating

12-BMW-K1600GTL-0151Consumer Reports surveyed 4680 subscribers who are motorcycle owners about the reliability of their motorcycles.  Out of those who responded to the survey, BMW touring and dual sport owners reported more problems with their motorcycles than owners of other brands.

One in every three BMW owners (33%)  said they’ve had an issue with their motorcycle in the past year.  One in every 4 Harley-Davidson owner (25%) reported an issue with their motorcycle.

Honda CBR, and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R owners reported the least amount of problems.  The issues that were brought up the most by those who responded to the survey were problems with lights, switches, instrumentation, electrical or fuel systems.

Other brands such as  Kawasaki, Victory, Indian, Suzuki and Triumph were not ranked as the owners did not provide enough information as required by the survey.