Category Archives: Motorcycle Demo Rides

2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King.

I need to get this out of the way right now! That tinted or smoked windshield, or whatever the hell it is, has got to go. It really makes the motorcycle look like “crap.” WTF! It invokes anger in me, so much so, I want rip it off with my bare hands. Yep, I have issues. But, doesn’t everyone? Otherwise I’m all good with this motorcycle.

One other thing I’m going to throw out there before you invest too much time reading this: I love Harley Davidson motorcycles. So this isn’t for you if you’re a hater who doesn’t understand the relevance of a Harley Davidson motorcycles. You know who you are! You might want to go to You Tube and watch kitten videos instead of reading this.

That’s right, “love.” I don’t care that they’re not perfect. Also, I know there’s a possibility that my beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle will leave me stranded somewhere. Hopefully, my Harley Davidson won’t strand me during a zombie apocalypse. That would suck big time and that would really piss me off!

Every relationship has its ups and downs, including motorcycle relationships. If I would have wanted a motorcycle that doesn’t break down and would last forever, I would have bought another Honda. I don’t want a perfect relationship. I want a relationship that I can grow from.

Let’s get over this hurdle first. $28,000 for hopped-up Road King? Yep, it seems like a lot of money. But, you’ve got to dig a little deeper to understand the value. This motorcycle comes with a Screaming Eagle twin cam 110 cubic inch engine. You know what they say about engines, “there’s no replacement for displacement.”

This engine produces more horse power and torque than the twin cam 103 engine. So you’ll have that going for you as cruise down the boulevard. Get a few Harley Davidson or S&S catalogs and start collecting the data to convert your 103 cubic inch into a 110 cubic inch engine. Once you do that math, you’ll gladly put your money down on CVO Road King.

The paint jobs on the 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King required extra attention to detail to get it right. I’m going to imagine the paint job was done independently of their other models. I’m not big fan green paint jobs on anything except farm tractors. I remember walking up to the motorcycle and thinking to myself, “Green! WTH.”

All the colors on this planet and they’ve got to use green paint? Really green damn paint! But after a while, the green paint job begins to grow on you. You have two other color choices if you’re not happy with Deep Sherwood Pearl and Galactic Black. Yep, you didn’t think Harley Davidson was going to call paint job regular green did you?

This motorcycle comes with a lot of nice amenities that aren’t incorporated in the regular Harley Davidson Road King. The toe-heal-shifter and the linkage are not standard Harley Davidson issue. The upgraded version looks way cooler. The seat is leather and very comfortable for those long rides. This motorcycle comes with an upgraded exhaust system. The V-twin rumble leaving the exhaust pipe is pretty much standard Harley Davidson issue.

The fancy grips and levers also add to the coolness of the motorcycle. You’ve got LED lights all the way around. I not happy that the passing lights are missing. Not groovy! The 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King comes with an upgraded speedometer. The speedometer is programmable for different back ground illumination color options. I sure hope Deep Sherwood Pearl is one of the choices.

The front and rear rims are all chromed up. They really look nice in the whole framework of the motorcycle’s design. This motorcycle comes with Harley Davidson’s Reflex™ Anti-lock Braking System. Also, the brakes are linked. I’m a big fan of linked brakes. I know some people have a problem with the concept. I believe Harley-Davidson’s linked brake system disables when the motorcycle is under a certain speed. The brakes provided plenty of stopping power with no fade.

The clutch is hydraulically assisted with some type of slipper mechanism. A slipper clutch is probably a good idea on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to reduce driveline lash during downshifting. The clutch lever had a really light pull and a good feel to it. The 6-speed gearbox I believe is standard Harley-Davidson issue. The gearbox worked like a charm during my demo ride and finding neutral was a breeze.

The brake and clutch lines are braided stainless. The handlebars are black and not chromed. Also, the front and rear crash bars are black. The rear crash bars are smaller and at the bottom of the saddle bags. It doesn’t look like it provides the same protection as the standard crash bars. The majority handlebar wiring runs through the bars providing a clean look.

This motorcycle is also equipped with electronic cruise control system. It appears to be the same system as the regular Road King. Keyless ignition is standard and so is a factory security system. The saddle bag lids open with touch of one hand. The saddle bag locks are now incorporated in the latches.

During my demo ride the motorcycle felt stable through some pretty demanding curves. I’m going to attribute this to the upgraded touring frame which includes larger front forks. The bearings in the steering head have also been upgraded. The handlebars seem to be lower and wider when compared to the regular Road King. I think the lower and wider handlebars provide the rider with more control when cornering the motorcycle.

There was noticeable difference when I turned the throttle during the demo ride. There’s monstrous low end torque being generated from the twist of the wrist. In theory, the 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King produces 118 ft. lbs. of torque at 3750 rpm. There also seems to be a lot less vibration emitting from the 110 engine as compared to the 103 engine. It was a pretty cool day during the demo ride, so I can’t comment on engine heat. But, I’m going with bigger engine more heat produced. That’s just a fact of life with air-cooled engines.

There’s a very big chromed up air cleaner on the right side of the engine. In Harley Davidson’s brochure it’s called the “Heavy Breather.” Yep, that pretty much says it all. The air cleaner is probably instrumental in getting enough air in to the combustion chambers. There’s plenty “Screaming Eagle” badging all over the engine.

Would I buy a 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King? Probably not. I’m not one of those guys who customizes his motorcycle. I may buy a few odds and ends, such as bag guards, rear rack or backrest. I’m just not a big fan of billet pieces on a motorcycle. I know all about making it your own, but I’m pretty happy with the way it comes from Harley Davidson. Although, that Screaming Eagle twin cam 110 cubic inch engine is pretty damn sweet.

2015 KTM 390 Duke

I’m going to start right here. This motorcycle weighs about 307 pounds without the fluids. The fluids would include oil, fuel and coolant. So let’s add another 20 pounds to be on the safe side. So the approximate weight of this motorcycle ready to ride is 327 pounds. That’s about 100 or so odd pounds heavier than a competitive motocross motorcycle. Eat enough Wheaties you could probably carry this motorcycle around by strapping it on your back.

The liquid cooled single cylinder engine generates about 44 HP. That seems like a lot of power for something that has only 375 cc. My Honda lawnmower has 159 cc and produces 6 HP on a good day. The four valves are controlled by two overhead cams. Yep, this little engine has four valves per cylinder. It’s all about moving gases through the combustion chamber with the least resistance. The engine is equipped with two oil pumps to keep all the moving metal parts nice and slippery. The engine weighs in at 80 pounds, let me guess, without fluids?

I’m a big fan of KTM’s engine design. First off, the outward appearance of the engines looks way mechanical, dude. Like every square inch has something to do with producing more HP. No fancy curves or any intrusion of arties stuff to increase the visual appeal of the engine. This baby is all business! On paper KTM’s engines seems to have a higher power to weight ratio than other manufacturers.

A state of the art injection electronics system keeps the fuel following into the combustion chamber without a hitch. Throttle response is spot on without delays or mishaps. The engine revs up quickly so you better be prepared to use the gearbox. Failure to use the gearbox correctly will introduce you to the rev limiter indicator on the display on a regular basis.

The engine is coupled with a 6-speed gearbox. The clutch is in an oil bath and has multi–plates. No slipper clutch on this baby. The clutch is not hydraulic assisted. But it had a very light pull on the lever. The transmission worked like a charm. The only problem I had was the length of shift lever. Way too short for my size 11 boots. Missed a few shifts because of my boots.

The frame is composed of tubular steel. The frame design looks pretty ridgid with some beautiful welds. The swing-arm is composed of lightweight alloys and is manufactured from some type of die-casting process. If you look closely at the swing-arm, it does look pretty cool with the bracing design. The frame and the rims are painted KTM orange, no big surprise there.

The front forks are inverted with a hefty 43 mm thickness. The suspension duties in the rear are handled by a mono-shock right smack dab in the middle of the swing-arm and the frame. According to KTM, the suspension travel in the front and rear is 6 inches. That seems like a lot of travel to me. It might be a misprint from KTM’s website.

This motorcycle has a pretty big front brake rotor. 300 mm big! The front calliper has four pistons and the rear has one. With this braking configuration, I see a lot of stoppies in the future for this motorcycle. Way cool, ABS is standard! I believe KTM is staying ahead of the curve by putting ABS on this motorcycle. The EU is going to force motorcycle manufacturers to have ABS braking systems future. The EU is going to be a big market for this motorcycle anyway.

The 17 inch rims are a light weight casted alloy material. The rims are equipped road griping Metezeler tires. There’s 110 mm in the front and 150 mm in the rear. This combination should keep this motorcycle well planted on the road regardless of the driving conditions.

The seat is about 31.5 inches off the ground which should be a good fit for a lot of motorcyclists. The seat is pretty damn comfortable for this type of motorcycle. Usually they give you plank with ¼ inch of foam and some cheap vinyl covering. The seat was actually very comfy, not La-Z-Boy comfy, but comfy none the least.

I wasn’t a big fan of the speedometer in the beginning. It looked cheap and out of place. But during the demo ride, I learned to embrace it. It was easy to read in any of the sunlight conditions during that day. I wished the tach portion was a little bit bigger on display.

What was it like to ride the KTM 390 Duke? First off, the motorcycle feels small, almost tiny. I can’t see this motorcycle being a good fit for some over 6 feet in height. The second thing that comes to mind is “fun.” Even though this is not the motorcycle for me, it did hit the “damn cool” level in the motorcycle section of my brain.

During my demo ride, the frame felt rock-solid as I pushed it through the turns. The suspension worked like a charm handling my mass during the ride. I did on one occasion squeeze the front brake lever too much causing the front end to dive. After that, I adjusted how I used the front brake. Every motorcycle has a learning curve. The engine provided plenty of get-up-and–go.

Overall, the motorcycle is a very attractive package. In my mind, this motorcycle is about three notches above entry level. The power-to-weight ratio is pretty high for an entry level motorcycle. Using KTM’s tag line, this motorcycle is “ready to race.”

There’s also a restricted version of this motorcycle to comply with the UK’s A2 driver’s license category. In the UK, new riders have HP restrictions on their motorcycles. In the good old USA, a new rider can go directly to a 200 HP machine. Yeah baby!

Also, I’d like to thank KTM and Motorcycle Center for hosting this demo ride. Motorcycle Center is located Villa Park IL and they are KTM dealership.

2015 Victory Magnum

A 100 watt stereo! Damn! Not 50 or 75, but 100 motorcycle shaking watts. That’s a lot of wattage in your cottage. It’s hard for me to imagine that 100 W stereo provides manufacturers with leverage to sell their motorcycles. Okay, before I sell my next motorcycle, it’s going put a really big stereo system on it. It would appear that I know absolutely nothing about marketing motorcycles.

The Magnum is powered by Victory’s 106 freedom engine. This engine is pretty much distributed through their whole line of motorcycles. It’s an air/oil cooled 50 ° V twin with a displacement just north of 1700 cc. There are four valves per cylinder to keep the gases flowing freely through the cylinders. Single overhead cam configuration is used to put the valves in play. The cam shaft is driven by a chain, no pushrods in this engine. The engine holds 5 quarts of oil and has a wet sump design.

The engine is fuel injected with 45 mm dual throttle bodies. The engine is also nicely chromed up so you better leave the dealer with some chrome polish. There’s also a counterbalancing device spinning around inside the engine. So if you’re looking for the Harley-Davidson or Moto Guzzi engine experience, you’re out of luck.

There’s an oil cooler neatly tucked away on the two forward frame down tubes. The oil cooler is also hidden by some painted plastic shroud that adds to the aesthetic qualities of the motorcycle.

I once had a Victory motorcycle owner look me in the eye and tell me that the Freedom 106 engine does not produce any heat. I thought to myself, “This is a wonderful story and maybe they shouldn’t legalize drugs.” We really need to bring back the dinosaurs to thin the gene pool a little bit. I’m sorry, but some people have just got to go! The engine produces approximately 87 HP at 5200 RPM and 95 foot-pounds of torque at 3100 RPM. Oh yeah, for the record, the Freedom 106 engine does produce heat! They all do. Get over it.

The engine is coupled with a six-speed no-hassle gearbox. No battle to find neutral or problems missing a shift. I do have one complaint. Where in hell is the toe-heal-shifter? What’s the deal here? Haven’t motorcycle manufacturers figured out that when you install floorboards on a motorcycle it is just natural to put on a toe- heal- shifter arrangement. The exhaust plumbing is neatly routed to both sides of the rear wheel and provides you with an opportunity to polish a lot more chrome.

This motorcycle comes with two disk brakes in the front and one in the rear. All three brake rotors are 300 mm. The front calipers have four pistons and the rear calipers have two pistons. The brake should provide plenty of force to reduce the momentum of this 760 pound motorcycle. The model I drove had ABS, which is an option. I didn’t feel any pulsing through the foot or hand control, so I guess Victory has that nailed. In 2016, the EU will require all newly manufactured motorcycles to have ABS on them. I’m going to guess that American manufacturers will follow suit and make ABS standard on their motorcycles.

The factory custom paint is stunning. The design or the presentation of the motorcycle gives you some sort of modern Art Deco interpretation. No dull curves just a lot of straight lines. The seat is around 26 inches off the ground giving the inseam challenged access to a nice bagger. Wheelbase is around 67 inches to make sure this motorcycle will run in a straight line at high speeds. The motorcycle looks large from ground level, but it pretty much falls in line with the other cruisers out there.

I hope Victory didn’t reduce the travel and the rear shock absorber to lower the back end of the motorcycle. I’m a firm believer the more travel on the shock absorber, the better the ride. But I’m going to guess Victory has done something to reconfigure the frame geometry so the comfortable ride is not lost. The rear wheel is only 16 inches so that should help in slamming the backend.

The front wheel on the other hand is 21 inches. I have no idea what the craze is with these big front wheels. I’m going have to do some research to figure out how it affects the steering geometry. But it seems to be the craze. I guess the guys who created those plastic tricycles that were referred to as “Big Wheels” when I was a kid were way ahead of their time.

The bags are cavernous so we can pretty much bring all your worldly possessions with you. The release button to open the bags is simple to use. The bags are also lockable. I guess the one problem that I have with Victory’s big configuration is the lack of metal to protect them. I don’t see any possible way of connecting some sort of guards that wraparound the bags to protect them from scuffs and scrapes. Call me paranoid, but both my Harley-Davidson’s have bag guards wrapped around the rear bags.

I rode the model with the mini ape hanger bars. Not really a big fan of ape hangers, but they were mini ape hangers, so I was going to give them a try. I guess my problem with ape hanger bars is I don’t feel I have enough control over the motorcycle. As I started out on the demo ride, I thought to myself this was a bad idea. But as the motorcycle moved down the road, I got more accustomed to manipulating the steering through the mini ape hangers. Would these be my bars of choice? Nope!

The lights are LEDs all-round the motorcycle. I’m a big fan of LED lights. I own a 2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited equipped with a LED head and passing lights. At night it doesn’t just light up the roadway, it lights entire landscape. I hope in the future other manufacturers step-up to the plate and add LED lighting systems to their motorcycles.

Riding this motorcycle is way cool. Everyone will be looking at the paint job on this motorcycle. So if you need to get noticed, this is the motorcycle for you. You’ve got a nice rumble coming from the exhaust pipes. Plenty of get up and go so you can leave the stop lights like a “Boss.” The motorcycle has pretty good clearance on the floorboards and feels balanced when turning. So when the need arises, you can push this motorcycle through the turns like Valentio Rossi. Don’t try dragging your knee though, that’s not going to go well for you.

If you buy this motorcycle, you’d have largest front wheel on a production motorcycle. The brakes have a good feel to them all way through their actuation. Turning the throttle provides a nice analog feel from the engine. The seat is comfy and should fend off butt pain on long rides. Crank the stereo and you could be a roving DJ as you travel down boulevard. You would be “The Man” or “The Woman” on this motorcycle. That’s a fact, jack!

The only real complaint I have about Victory baggers and touring motorcycles is they seem plasticized. So you’re probably asking what the hell is plasticized. We’ll let me give you another example. I have a 2008 Honda Goldwing which is completely covered in plastic. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a metal frame under all that plastic. Or has Honda somehow figured out how to embed titanium in plastic. Call me old-fashioned, but I guess I just got to see some metal tubing somewhere on the motorcycle.

Oh, sorry one other compliant. Where in the hell is the FOB? Who wants to put a key in and turn it on a $23,000 motorcycle? Not me, call me a lazy American! Harley Davidson, Indian and Ducati have FOBs. What’s the deal, Victory? At this point in my life, I have been FOB-o-tized. That’s right FOB-o-tized, no damn turn keys for me jack! You can get carpal tunnel from that key turning stuff.

The big question is would I own a 2015 Victory Magnum if my wife would let me? The answer is” Hell Yeah.”

Victory’s 2014 Cross Roads Classic

Victory’s 2014 Cross Roads Classic is solid bagger in a crowded market segment. All of the other motorcycle manufacturers have one or multiple entries in this arena. I get the whole bagger business because every motorcycle that I own has bags on it. I guess I just can’t leave home without taking a lot of stuff with me. This might be related to age, because back in the day, I never brought anything with me when I rode a motorcycle.

This motorcycle is equipped with the Freedom 106 V-twin engine. The displacement is a little north of 1700 cc. This is Victory’s bread and butter prime mover for all of their models. The engine relies on air and oil cooling to keep engine heat at bay. The engine uses a wet sump configuration to store the oil. There’s an oil cooler mounted in lower front of the engine. It’s mounted right between the two frame down tubes.

Four valves are used to move the air, fuel and exhaust for combustion in each cylinder. Most of the vibration is absorbed through the rotating counter balance system inside the engine. The electronic fuel injection worked without a hiccup. Very linear engine control though changes to handgrip position. No surprises or dead spots during my demo ride.

The six speed overdrive constant mesh gearbox worked like champ. No whining, clunking or other weird sounds emanating from the gearbox. The primary drive is a gear. No chains or belts on this baby. The rear wheel is driven by a belt. A belt drive system has become standard issue on this type motorcycle throughout the different manufacturers.

 

I didn’t make it to the sixth or the overdrive gear during the demo ride. I’m pretty sure everything still would have been groovy if I shifted the transmission into 6th gear. During the demo, I didn’t have to hunt for neutral. That’s one of things that really pisses me off! No toe-heal-shifter! This type of motorcycle should come standard with a toe-heal-shifter.

The front suspension is an inverted cartridge telescopic fork with 5.1 inches of travel. The rear suspension is a single mono-tube gas shock with 4.7 inches of travel. The front suspension in not adjustable, what you see is what you get. I’m pretty sure the rear suspension has a pre-load adjustment. Either way the suspension did a good job soaking up the bumps in the road.

There are two disk brakes on the front wheel and one disk brake on the rear wheel. The ABS is optional on this model. The model that I rode was enhanced with ABS. No way to turn it off either in case you’re one of the people who doesn’t need or like ABS controlled brakes. Me, I’m a big fan of ABS used to decelerate a motorcycle I’m driving. I felt a little pulsing on the foot brake during hard braking. Otherwise, the brakes did their job during the whole demo ride.

The brake rotors are 300mm all the way around. There are 4-piston calipers in the front. The rear brake has a 2-piston caliper. The overall length of the motorcycle is 104 inches. This is a long motorcycle! A 2015 Harley Davidson Road King has an overall length of about 97 inches. The Victory Cross Road Classic is a good seven inches longer than Harley Davidson’s Road King.

This motorcycle is equipped a 5.8 gallon fuel tank. That should get well over 200 miles down the road. The dry weight of this motorcycle is around 780 pounds. So I’m going guess the “wet” weight is around 810 pounds. Why do manufactures provide you with the dry weight? Do they think you’re going to ship it from place to place instead of riding it? Duh!!

The seat height is about 26 inches from the ground. So it falls right in line with similar models from different manufacturers. When you change the oil, you’ll need five quarts instead of four. The color scheme of the motorcycle I rode was a Two-Tone Bronze Mist & Khaki. I’m not completely sure, but I think that’s your only choice. It grows on you over time. Sort of, I guess.

There are four things that I don’t like about this motorcycle. The speedometer is one of them. Don’t get me wrong, the speedometer functions like a charm, providing you with speed, gear position, engine RPM and all of the usual idiot lights. It’s just doesn’t “POP.” It looks like just some add-on device to the design of the motorcycle.

I’d like give you an example of speedometer that “POPS”: The Harley-Davidson V-Rod has such a device. The V-Rod’s speedometer looks like piece of art. The speedometer is actually incorporated in to the design of the motorcycle. It enhances the look of the motorcycle. Not just something that has been added at the last moment during the design phase.

I’m going to throw this out there. It seems to me Victory motorcycles are designed for tall people. Let me rephrase this, people with long arms. The seat height falls in line with that of other cruiser manufacturers. So inseam-challenged people should be okay. It’s just turning the handlebars from one stop position to the other requires long arms. I’m talking about blocking a jump shot long.

What’s up with the cruise control buttons? You’re going to need a really long thumb to work them without removing you hand from the handgrip. Also, they’re a little bit on the “cheesy” side. While I’m bitching, I think white wall tires would have been a nice addition to the overall look of the motorcycles.

What did I like about this motorcycle? I’m going to start with the floorboards. There’s plenty of room to move your feet around. Ride a motorcycle for few hours and you’ll understand how cool that is. The engine, it’s bullet-proof. I’m pretty sure in produces less vibration than its competition. Just change the oil and maybe it could go on forever. The seat was very comfortable during my 40-minute demo ride. As I recall, it was the stock seat. Sometime on demo rides they install upgraded seats on the motorcycles.

Even though this motorcycle is on “long” side, pushing into the turns builds confidence. Don’t try dropping your knee into the turns! The floorboards will quickly remind you of what type of motorcycle you’re on. The transmission is a true asset on this motorcycle. No battling for neutral or shifting into “ghost” gears. Throttle response is on the money. There were no delays or abrupt operation during the demo ride.

The big question is would I buy one? The answer is “Hell Yeah!”

Under the category of “this blows big time”: Victory has decided to remove this motorcycle from their 2015 line up. I’m hoping this is a temporary discussion on their part. They have knocked off five models total in 2015. It must be a cold cruel world in the motorcycle business to have to cut five models of their lineup.

2014 KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Yep, I’m riding something other than a Harley-Davidson. I don’t know where to start talking about this motorcycle. I don’t usually ride these types of motorcycles. How about this “It’s Fucking fast.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up.  So if you don’t read any farther, you definitely know that this motorcycle is no toy.  This motorcycle has the capability to test your riding skills within seconds of you ride it, so beware.  Oh, one other thing I hope you like the color orange.

Okay, I’m going to throw this out there. KTM what’s up with the ORANGE? Every single KTM motorcycle has some orange in the paint scheme. Did KTM buy a whole bunch of ORANGE paint on sale? Is it part of the manufactures branding? As Jerry Seinfeld might say, “What’s the deal with the ORANGE paint?” Sorry about rant!

This is probably one of the most powerful motorcycles I have ever ridden. I owned a 2010 Yamaha Vmax and I thought that motorcycle was fast. But I’m pretty sure the KTM would beat the Vmax in a foot race. The Vmax might run the table from 0 to 60 MPH, but after that it’s all KTM. The KTM has about 156 HP at the rear wheel and weighs about 240 LBS less.  If you do the acceleration math, I’m pretty sure I’m right.

The KTM Super Duke 1290 R has my favorite engine configuration, the V-twin.  This engine displaces approximately 1300ccs as the pistons fly up and down. Fuel, air and exhaust move through the two cylinders via 8 valves doing a high-speed dance. The valves are controlled by two chain-driven overhead cams. Engine heat is removed through a liquid cooling system. The rev limiter puts a stop to everything around 10,000 RPM.  That’s probably a good thing. This engine has three oil pumps to keep everything lubricated.

The 6-speed gearbox worked like a charm. Although, I never made to the sixth gear during the demo ride. The engine produces tons of torque so there’s no big rush to get through the gearbox.  Neutral was easy to find when needed.  I wish the gear position lever was a little bit longer. The clutch is hydraulically assisted which translated to a light pull at the lever. The engine has an advanced type of slipper clutch.

This engine bangs out 152 HP @ 9250 RPM at the rear wheel.  The torque produced 93 lb-ft @ 8300 RPM.  That’s a lot torque for a 1300 cc engine. For a comparison, the Indian 111 Power Stroke engine produces a torque of 101 lb-ft  @ 2700 RPM.  The Indian engine has 28% displacement lead over the KTM’s engine. KTM has reduced piston weight to improve power gain during acceleration. I was on this motorcycle for 45 minutes and I didn’t feel any excessive heat from the engine.

The oil cooler is mounted on the right side of the engine. Kind of a cool idea, connected directly to the front cylinder lower half. No hose, brackets or a radiator mounted to the frame front down tubes. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d miss it.  It’s out of the way from coming in contact with your leg or foot.

The engine is controlled by a ride-by-wire throttle system. This motorcycle is loaded with electronic control systems. This motorcycle come equipped MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control.) There are three modes of operation. Yep, you’ve got to make a choice on the mode. Your choices are street, sport and rain. Each mode controls the amount of HP delivered to the rear wheel. Also, if that wasn’t enough, it also senses your lean angle. Yep, your lean angle! This added feature will help keep you from sliding across pavement just behind your motorcycle. If you’re old school you can turn off the MTC and put an end to this “electronic trickery.”

I’m not a big fan sport or naked motorcycles. They seem way too cramped to me. The KTM has a lot room and I didn’t feel cramped. I guess I could use the word “spacious” to describe the experience while I was sitting in the seat. I remember thinking to myself while riding this motorcycle, “Man if I put some beach bars and floorboards on this baby, I’d be all good then.” Good thing I’m not designing motorcycles for KTM.

The speedometer / information center is easy to read while riding the motorcycle. In the center is a very cool analog tachometer. To left of the tachometer is text screen. The text screen provides you with lot of data. This would include riding mode, ABS setting, engine temperature and few other things. The displayed information on the text screen and the settings for the “electronic trickery” is controlled by four buttons. The four triangle buttons are located on in front of the left handgrip. Very easy to reach with your thumb. To the right of tachometer is a digital speedometer. One thing you’ll notice right away with the speedometer is how quickly the values change.

Brembo calipers are installed all the way around.  The front caliper has four pistons and the rear caliper has two. The front disk brakes 320 mm and the rear disk brake is 240 mm. The ABS system is the latest design from Bosch. The ABS can be set to either street or supermoto mode. I’m going to take “knowledge leap” about riding this motorcycle in supermoto mode. I’m guessing it will let you lose traction on the rear wheel through a sliding turn. If you’re one of those people who likes to say “I don’t need no stinking ABS,” you’re in luck, because you turn the ABS completely off.

The Super Duke R weighed in at about 445 pounds with all the fluids. The seat height is damn close to 33 inches. Not for the inseam challenged. The wheel base is around 58 inches. This is one of the reasons why this motorcycle felt very stable. The fuel tank holds 4.8 gallons.   This should give you about a 200 mile range before running out of fuel. Front and rear tires are 17 inch.

This motorcycle is equipped with a single swing-arm to keep the weight down. The rear wheel is driven by a chain. Yep, there’s another method to cause the rear wheel to rotate besides a shaft or a carbon fiber belt. The rims are casted. The rims are manufactured using a low-pressure die casting process to reduce unsprung weight. There’s a lot of technology incorporated in this motorcycle.

The suspension is fully adjustable. The front forks are inverted with pretty much standard protocol for these types of motorcycles.  The rebound and compression damping on the front forks can be set separately and independently from each other. Same goes for the rear shock, plus you get two speed settings for the compression damping. All of this information is above my pay grade. I’m just looking for a soft ride which is what I got during the demo ride.

Another thing I sometimes dislike about these types of motorcycles is the fact that I can’t use the mirrors. Generally you can’t see behind you, but you do get a good look at your shoulders. But everything was groovy, I could see behind me. Probably a really good thing because you will be able to see the police cars chasing you… although it will probably be from a distance. Oh, yeah, that day will come too, don’t kid yourself. What do they say “absolute power corrupts?”

Would I like to own one of these motorcycles? Yes, hell yes. Would I be able retain my privilege to drive in the state of Illinois if I owned this motorcycle? Nope, I would end up riding the bus for about 5 to 10 years. If you have self-control, this may be the motorcycle for you. Go to your nearest KTM dealer and check it

2015 Indian Scout

I guess I’ll start off with this statement. This is a great motorcycle, not perfect, but great. Essentially this is an entry-level motorcycle for the Indian brand. This motorcycle is a very important component for the survival of the Indian brand motorcycle. This is what I would consider as a gateway vehicle. But if you look at it closely, the bits and pieces are by no means “entry-level.” I really think Indian/Polaris will make an impact with this product.

The Leather Couch
The Leather Couch

The 2015 Indian Scout will definitely end up slowing down the assembly lines for Yamaha’s Bolt and Harley Davison’s Sportster motorcycles. Indian is also incorporating the same boots on the ground strategy that Harley-Davidson has been using for years. I’m referring to the demo trucks showing up to the dealers’ locations in providing individuals the opportunity to ride their products.

Nice Logo!
Nice Logo!

I’m still somewhat confused that Honda and Kawasaki still think they’re in the retail business. I also think Honda and Kawasaki better be careful. One day they’ll be sold on Amazon and lost in the flood of books, food processors, video games and so forth.

Nice Clock
Nice Clock

I guess if you haven’t figured it out yet I am somewhat enamored with this motorcycle. There are a few cheap bits here and there, but the total package is really unbelievable. Just sitting on the motorcycle creates a sense of emotional need. Putting your butt in the solo retro leather seat will generate a smile on a rider’s face. It’s just not a seat, it’s kind of a one-person leather couch.

Let’s start with the engine. It’s a liquid cooled 60° V-twin that is nicely packaged in the frame. The engine is actually one of the stress members in the frame system.  I really like the frame design and how it goes around the radiator. The engine looks very industrial to me, almost reminds me of one of KTM’s engines. It does have some chrome parts, polished parts and blacked out parts. The engine is also well branded so there’s no confusion who manufactures the motorcycle. The chrome bits are well-positioned to bring your eyes at the right longitude and latitude to view the engine.

The Engine
The Engine!

The plumbing is minimal on the engine so not to interrupt the flow of the design. The valves bounce around using a double overhead cam system. Four valves per cylinder are instrumental in moving air through the engine keeping it aspirated. The cams are driven by a chain. No pushrods clicking away or belts flopping around inside the engine.

Not too much plumbing
Not too much plumbing

The displacement of the engine is 69 cubic inches or 1133 cc. The engine has a very throaty sound being generated out of the exhaust pipes. The exhaust system is completely chromed front to back and really looks nice on the motorcycle. From the brochure, the engine produces about 100 HP at 8100 RPMs. The peak torque is around 72 foot-pounds at 5900 RPMs. The transmission is a six-speed and never missed a beat. Nor did I have any problems finding neutral.

The front forks have approximately 4.7 inches of travel with no adjustment capability. The two rear shocks appear to have a preload adjustment with approximately 3 inches of travel. I did have one bone jarring incident that was transferred from the road to me. I definitely don’t think the suspension to system is designed for someone weighing over 200 pounds. Don’t plan on doing any two-up long distance riding on this motorcycle.

Each wheel is equipped with a 298 mm rotor. The front caliper has two pistons and the rear caliper is one piston. I would’ve liked to seen two pistons also in the rear caliper. I’m going to guess that a lot of beginning riders will choose this motorcycle for its coolness, weight and seat height. I think those noob riders would best be served with more de- acceleration capability. And let’s not forget the addition of an ABS system in the future.

Only One Disk  On The Front Wheel!
Only One Disk On The Front Wheel!

The rims are casted. But still have a pretty cool design. Chromed spokes and rims would have been nice. But I’m sure Indian needs to meet a certain price point. The front and rear tires are both 16 inches. Each tire has the Indian logo on it. Taking a page from Harley-Davidson’s play book?

The second thing you’ll notice after looking at the engine is the seat. The seat is aesthetically pleasing and a very effective butt holder. I rode the Indian Scout twice and spent approximately 50 minutes in the seat. I could’ve easily gone hours sitting on that seat. The one downside is there is no seat for your significant other. That might make it a tough sell to get it in your garage.

I was a little bit surprised that Indian didn’t incorporate some type of seat for a passenger. Because I can think of several other very cool motorcycles that went the way of the dinosaur with the same strategy. But I’m sure the marketing and the research department at Indian/Polaris spent hours upon hours determining not to incorporate a passenger seat in their selling strategy.

Okay what was the Indian scout like to ride.

One thing I can say right off the bat is this motorcycle had a sport bike feel to it. The engine was quick to rev up and provided plenty of power for any shenanigans that you deem necessary. The engine produces max horsepower at approximately 8000 RPM which is pretty high for a cruiser motorcycle. During my ride I decided to wind it out in second gear. At the higher end of the rpm range I felt considerable vibration from the handlebars. Don’t fret, this rpm range was way beyond what you would normally run in second gear.

I felt very confident pushing this motorcycle hard into the turns it seemed like a very stable platform. I didn’t feel any flexing in the front forks or behaviors emulating from the back of the motorcycle. The handlebars provide plenty of leverage to control the motorcycle. This is an extremely comfortable motorcycle. I foresee people taking this motorcycle on some long trips.

The only obstacle would be the size of the gas tank. The gas tank is approximately 3.3 gallons giving the motorcycle limited range. I definitely wouldn’t attempt riding for an extended period of time unless the rear shocks were changed.

Would I buy this motorcycle? No, I’m used to bigger motorcycles with more amenities. I see this motorcycle as a gateway product to get customers on Indian’s larger motorcycles. Also incorporating this motorcycle into the line is a good strategy to develop brand loyalty. This might be a good fit for someone who is thinking transition from the sport bike into cruiser. Like I mentioned earlier, the engine generates a sport bike feeling to the riding experience.

2015 Harley Davidson Street 750

Well, I finally got to ride this motorcycle. I started drooling when I was in the demo line. I thought to myself “Yeah baby! I’m going to ride Harley-Davidson’s latest entry into the motorcycle arena.” I ran up to the sign in to make sure I got on the list to ride it. I was prepared for fisticuffs if anyone who dared enter my path to the sign-up sheet. Gave them my driver’s license and signed the waiver. I asked the lady at the sign up tent when does the demo ride start? Her response was “now!”

Behind me one of the demo ride chaperones calls out ”front and center.” He then goes on and gives us the usual speech, no stoppies, no wheelies and the always dangerous slingshots. He also explains that we’re required to follow all traffic laws. The other demo ride chaperones went over the ride protocol and our route. Both chaperones reaffirmed the concept that Harley-Davidson will not be responsible for any fines that you get in your disregard for the traffic laws.

During this whole dog and pony show. I was fooling around with all of my recording equipment trying to get it ready for the demo ride. I usually miss the first ride to set up my equipment. I was jerking around with my GoPro camera chest strap when I noticed all the sound around me had stopped. I looked up and everyone was looking at me. Yep, not good ran through mind. One of the chaperones asked me if I was okay with a smile on his face, then I knew that everything was cool. I immediately apologized for my lack of participation and the whole group got a little chuckle out of it. Note to self, try to stay in the now.

I threw my leg over the motorcycle and planted my ass in the seat. Rocked the motorcycle forwards and backwards to make sure it was in neutral. I reached forward under the speedometer and turned the ignition key. Hit the start button and the engine came to life without a hitch. No “one – potato – two – potato” emanating from the exhaust pipes. I heard some foreign sound that didn’t register in my brain. Oh well, it has the Harley-Davidson logo in the speedometer.

The controls on the handgrips are definitely not standard Harley issue. I was somewhat surprised and disappointed that the controls were not Harley standard issue. That is one of the first things I notice on a Harley-Davidson is how the controls pretty much transverse through each model. Well, I guess if you’ve never ridden a Harley before it’s all good?

Finally, after what seemed like a long time, one of the demo ride chaperones waves his arms around like he was landing jets on an aircraft carrier. Within minutes all lined up by the exit for the street. Right off the bat this motorcycle is a good fit for me. I’m 5’8” and the reach to the handlebars is comfortable. I’m not overreaching and leaning forward, but in a neutral sitting position. The seat is very accommodating for an entry-level motorcycle. Sometimes on an entry-level motorcycle they provide you with a plank to sit on.

I turn the throttle a few times and realized the liquid-cooled 749cc 60° V twin was quick to rev up without a lot of mechanical noise. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a tachometer embedded in the speedometer. But I could feel how quickly it revved up. The engine is compact and neatly tucked under the oversized fuel tank. You really wouldn’t know that the engine was under the tank if it wasn’t for the big air filter housing on the right side of the motorcycle.

The engine is fuel injected with four valves per cylinder. The valves are driven by a single overhead cam configuration. The compression ratio is 11:1. This is starting to enter the in-line for crotch rocket engine compression ratio zone. This motorcycle produces somewhere around 57 HP right around 8000 RPMs. 8000 RPMs is also when the rev limiter kicks in. Also, the engine produces a peek 41 pounds of torque at 4000 RPMs.

Once underway, I quickly realized the clutch cable needed some adjustment. The clutch would grab on the very end of the lever travel. This provided somewhat of a digital effect upon releasing the clutch lever. This probably is a very easy fix due to the cable adjustments on the clutch lever. The clutch lever kind of flopped around its holder which wasn’t too cool. Neither the clutch or brake levers are adjustable.

This motorcycle felt very light under me, almost dirtbike-ish. This motorcycle is somewhere around 500 pounds with all the fluids. Yep, all of the fluids! The steering was quick, definitely not like riding my 2014 Road King or Ultra Limited. The steering provided more of a sport bike experience then a cruiser experience. I’m pretty sure that’s one Harley-Davidson was looking for because this vehicle may be operated in tighter situations than their normal products.

I didn’t get a chance to go through all of the six gears in the gearbox on the demo ride. But the gearbox performed flawlessly during my whole demo ride. It was even complete with that well-known “clunk” when you put it in first gear. Finally, some Harley-Davidson DNA! This is probably a small complaint, but I wish the gear shift lever knob was a little bit farther forward from the foot peg. I missed a few shifts because of the boots that I was wearing. Not a fault of the motorcycle.

The Harley-Davidson Street 750 has seven spoke casted rims with the 17-inch front wheel and a 15-inch rear wheel. The rims are nothing fancy but they fit nicely with the whole design of a motorcycle. My favorite aesthetic feature of the motorcycle is the layout of the rear fender, seat and the fuel tank. The shape and size of the fuel tank really enhance the look of this motorcycle. This motorcycle comes in three colors, a pretty cool red, a dark gray and a black.

The 37mm front forks are nonadjustable. I was unable to see any type of adjusting mechanism for the two rear shocks. So this would leave me to believe that this motorcycle would not really be a good choice for two up riding any great distance. I’m not very happy with the brakes during my demo ride I had to make a hard stop. I had to squeeze like hell with my hand and push down pretty hard with my foot to de-accelerate this motorcycle. Definitely not what I’m used to, but I need to keep reminding myself that this is an entry-level vehicle.

I felt like there was very little quantum entanglement with any Harley-Davidson motorcycle that I have ever ridden past or present. I’m emotionally invested in the brand and I feel this is too much of a departure from their core product. It just seemed to “Honda-ized or Yamaha-ized” for me. It reminds me of a motorcycle that was built in the 80s with fuel injection.

My expectations were that was going to be on a miniature V- Rod. Although the engine has a lot of torque, it lacked the essence of a Harley-Davidson engine. It almost seems foreign if you’ve ever ridden one of Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles with a V-twin engines. But with that said, I think Harley-Davidson has hit the mark on an entry-level motorcycle with an outstanding price point.

Also, I realize this motorcycle is going to be used to penetrate European, India and Asian motorcycle markets. And if you’ve never ridden a Harley-Davidson motorcycle they just might pull this one off. I just don’t know how the faithful are going to absorb this motorcycle into the collective.

2014 Victory Gunner

The Victory gunner is not a brand-new motorcycle built from the ground up. Basically it’s a fraternal twin from the Victory Judge. Many of the Victory motorcycles share a lot of parts in common with each other. So, technically this isn’t that big of a deal. Many of the other manufacturers do the same thing so I hope your heart is broken.

Pretty nice red sea!
Pretty nice red seat!

One of the strengths of the victory line is the freedom 106 engine. This engine is a four stroke 50° V- twin displacing 106 cubic inches or 1731 cc. The valve train is a single overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder incorporating self-adjusting cam chains and hydraulic lifters. It’s no secret that Polaris knows how to build bulletproof engines. So what you end up with is a bulletproof V -twin engine that will probably go on forever. There are a lot of rumors floating around that Victory intends to start water cooling their engines

The engine! Where's the chrome?
The engine! Where’s the chrome?

The engine is cooled by a combination of air and lubricating oil. The engine holds approximately 5 quarts of oil that is continually removing the unwanted and power robbing heat from the engine. Between the two down tubes on the frame is a neat little oil cooler to reject the heat from the engine. Fuel enters into cylinders through electronic fuel injection system with dual 45 mm throttle bodies. A lot of people complain about large volume V- twin engines that are air cooled. They say that they are uncomfortable to ride due to the heat generated from the engine. I’ve been on plenty of Victory motorcycles and I’ve never noticed any extensive heat leaving the heads or exhaust pipes of this engine.

I also hear people complain about the vibration from V-twin engines. Well, the Freedom 106 has got to be one of the smoothest V-twin engines that I’ve had between my legs. The Freedom 106 incorporates a counter-balancing system to fight off the onslaught of vibration produced by two big pistons and a heavy flywheel in motion. Don’t waste your time looking for pushrods to operate the valves either. Nope, they’re not used. The valves rely on a chain drive system to participate in the internal combustion dance.

From my ride experience, it was easy to determine that the peak horsepower and torque are produced somewhere around 2900 RPMs. This engine gives you the opportunity to be a little sloppy with your gear choices. Although this motor produces peak power in the lower rpm, it does have some incentive for momentum at the higher rpm. Whatever plans Victory/Polaris have for this engine, I sure hope they don’t screw it up. Sometimes the manufacturers have a golden product and they get confused and turn it into a bronze product.

Pulling in the clutch lever in and tapping the gear shifter down one produces that all familiar clunk telling you that it’s in gear. The clutch is not hydraulically assisted, but the lever pull is still light and won’t be a problem in heavy traffic. The gearbox is a six speed ordeal with a wet multi-plate clutch. Also incorporated into the transmission is a gear drive with a torque compensator. Power is delivered to the rear wheel by a carbon fiber reinforced belt. Yep, no shaft -drive!

The first thing that catches your eye on this motorcycle is the casted aluminum rims. This 24-spoke configuration is extremely visually pleasing. As far as I can remember, I’ve never seen a configuration like this before on a motorcycle. I would also imagine that casting these rims is a lot of work due to the design of the rim. Either way they look “damn cool.” Both tires are Dunlop’s 16 x 3.5” which fit nicely on the fancy rims.

The front forks have a diameter of 43 mm with 5.125 inches of travel. The rear shock is a single, mono-tube gas with about 3 inches of travel. Also the rear shock has the ability to adjust the preload. This will come in handy when you decide to do two up riding or mount a bunch of bags on the back and sides of the motorcycle. The motorcycle generates a gravitational pull of 649 pounds, which is relatively light in the cruiser world.

The seat is only 25 inches off the ground making it very effective for those who are inseam challenged. The model that I rode had a very fancy red leather seat, for one person only. So I’ve no idea what the official seat looks like or feels like. From axle to axle the motorcycle is approximately 65 inches. The actual length for the motorcycle is somewhere around 94 inches. So you better make sure you have room in your garage before you buy one.

The front disc brake is a single 300 mm rotor coupled with a four piston caliper. The rear disc brake is also a 300 mm rotor but, it’s coupled with a two piston caliper. The motorcycle did not have ABS or linked brakes. I don’t know if ABS is an option for this motorcycle. The brakes do their job well, but I’m a big fan of two disk brakes in the front. I’m sure Victory is also a big fan of two disk brakes in the front, but they have to worry about the cost of manufacturing the motorcycle.

Riding this motorcycle falls in line with any other Victory model. Everything just works! No surprises. It corners well even when pushed hard through the turns. No wobbles, shimmies or anything that might cause your heart to skip a beat. The transmission is your friend keeping you on top of power delivery to the rear wheel. The engine is on a dedicated mission to put a smile on your face. I do have one complaint. Add a few extra dollars to the cost of the motorcycle and add second front disk brake. Just a thought!

2013 Yamaha FJR 1300

I can start off right now and say that this motorcycle really isn’t my cup of tea. I’m not saying it’s a bad motorcycle. Actually to be completely honest with you, it’s a pretty cool motorcycle. But I’m a cruiser guy. I like to lean back and put my feet on floorboards. I don’t see floorboards as being an option on this motorcycle anytime soon. If you’ve read my blogs, you know that I’m a big fan of V-twin engines. So I’m going to try to have an open mind when I write this blog.

This motorcycle falls under the category of sports touring. It comes equipped with two removable saddlebags. Behind the seat is what looks like some sort of docking surface for possibly installing a trunk or just tying down some soft bags. One of the key features of this motorcycle is the ability to adjust the height of the windscreen. Adjusting the windscreen is a matter of pushing a button located near the left handgrip. Nice! The foot pegs are little bit towards the rear wheel, making you lean forward a little bit to ride the motorcycle.

It has been a long time since I’ve been on a motorcycle with an in-line four cylinder engine. I really forgot how fast these engines will rev-up. Not that V-twin engines rev-up slowly, but they definitely don’t rev-up as fast as an in-line four. Back in the day, I owned a 2002 Suzuki GSXR 750. Yellow and black, it looked like a big bumble bee. That motorcycle was pretty damn fast and fun to ride. I’m going to go out on a limb here. I think the sports touring segment is for people who are leaving the sport bike segment. It seems like a natural transition. You’re not quite ready to give up your crotch rocket, but the effects of bending over are starting to take their toll on your body.

The engine in this motorcycle produces somewhere around 145 HP. I don’t know what it makes at the rear wheel, but it can’t be too far away from 145 HP. The engine is a water cooled horizontal in-line four cylinder with a displacement a little south of 1300 cc. I felt no vibrations or a buzzing in the bars. Much of the engine is concealed in the bodywork. This engine has four valves per cylinder with dual overhead camshafts. This is a pretty good combination to keep an internal combustion engine aspirated. It also has technology from Yamaha’s efforts in Moto GP delivering fuel to those four cylinders.

Turning the throttle shows that Yamaha hit the mark because the engine provides a very smooth power delivery all the way through the rpm range. No jerking, no delays and no indication that anything was amiss. Obviously, I didn’t get to run the engine near red line on the demo ride, but the power delivery was predictable and exhilarating. I would imagine if you were to take this motorcycle out on an interstate the engine would show its true nature. I’ve got a feeling it’s a beast.

This motorcycle comes equipped with three disc brakes. The standard configuration is used, two up front and one in the rear. Incorporated in the braking system is ABS. I’m a big fan of ABS, I feel that ABS makes any motorcycle a lot more safer to operate. The brakes are not linked which is not the end of the world. But I’m also a big fan of linked brakes. I get a lot of arguments from people saying that ”if I knew how to ride a motorcycle I wouldn’t need ABS or linked brakes.” Well I’m going to err on the side of caution with my ABS and linked brakes. The lever for the front brake is adjustable. The ability to adjust the lever provides the operator to position the lever for a better feel when operating the front brake.

This motorcycle is somewhere around 650 pounds. Although it’s not at sport bike weight, it is still pretty nimble. The seat height is very close to 32 inches. Seat also seems extra-large meaning long and wide. Also, the material covering the seat felt weird. Maybe it’s some type of waterproof material. From axle to axle were looking at approximately 61 inches. The motorcycle felt very stable at the speeds I was riding it.

Instrumentation panel provides you with an analog tachometer on the left. A digital speedometer is dead center. A multi-function display is located on the right. I was unable to determine all the things the multifunction display presented the operator due to the fact I didn’t know how to work everything. I was able to display whether it was in sport or touring mode. Only bad thing is you can only change the modes why the motorcycle is stopped. One very important standard feature on this motorcycle is cruise control.

The suspension is fully adjustable both front and rear. Which makes a lot of sense because I’m sure the purchaser of this motorcycle is going to be tinkering with the suspension set up. Also, as the weight load changes on the motorcycle you’ll need to adjust the preload and possibly the dampening. The steering is very quick and nimble. The handgrips seem a little close to each other, but remember I’m used to riding cruisers.

The five-speed transmission worked flawlessly. The foot shift lever position was perfect for me. No toe-heel-shifter on this baby. The clutch is completely bathed in oil. The clutch is also hydraulically assisted and felt very smooth during its operation. The position of clutch lever is also adjustable. I guess putting a six speed gearbox on this motorcycle is a dumb idea due to the torque curve produced by the engine.

This motorcycle holds approximately 6.6 gallons of gasoline and gets approximately 39 miles per gallon. So let’s do some math 6.6 times 39 equals you’re going to have to go to the bathroom before you run out of fuel. Oh one more thing, this motorcycle has shaft drive. I’m a big fan of shaft drive. Chain drive is for people who like to get dirty. Belt drive is for people who haven’t totally weaned themselves off of the chain. Shaft drive is for us lazy Americans.

The riding experience of this motorcycle was exhilarating. There’s plenty of power tap. The steering was a lot quicker and more precise than what I’m used to. I did enjoy leaning the bike hard through the expressway on and off ramps. That’s something I normally don’t do because I’m worried about scraping the floorboards. I felt pretty comfortable even though there’s a forward lean when riding this motorcycle.

But too much time on this motorcycle would have sent me to the chiropractor. This is not the motorcycle’s fault, this is me suffering from “old dude syndrome.” Then we have the problem of a 30 inch inseam on a motorcycle with a 32 inch seat height. Again this is not the motorcycle’s fault, I guess I should’ve eaten more fruits and vegetables as a wee lad. I don’t know if the motorcycle can be lowered or there is some type of lowering kit that can be purchased. I guess I should’ve got that information.

The one thing that I had to learn quickly about riding this motorcycle is I had to match the gear position with the engine rpm. So going through the gears in the transmission was an integral part of riding this motorcycle. Yep, that little lever thing down by the right foot peg is going to be used a lot when riding this motorcycle. Not quite what I’m used to riding a cruiser type motorcycle with a V twin engine. If I’m not in the right gear I just turn the throttle, it may chug a little bit, but sooner or later everything’s cool.

 

 

 

2013 Yamaha Raider SCL

Well this is going sound pretty damn weird, but the first time I sat on this motorcycle, I immediately thought about the movie Easy Rider. I also heard the song “Born to be Wild” played by the band Steppenwolf in my head. In stereo no less! To the left of me was the Captain America motorcycle with Peter Fonda smoking a joint and we were cruising through Tennessee. Yep, I know what you’re thinking, coolcycledude didn’t get enough oxygen at birth. Like I said, pretty damn weird!

I can honestly say I’ve never been on a chopper type of a motorcycle, they just never really appealed to me. I know they look really cool, but I think I prefer a more functional motorcycle than a chopper. Don’t get me wrong, some of the choppers I’ve seen built on some of the TV programs in my opinion are works of art. But I never really formed an emotional attachment to them.

Well I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest the 2013 Yamaha Raider SCL is pretty close to any one of those choppers that I’ve seen on TV, but, in my opinion, much more functional. I realize this is a production motorcycle, although limited production. It somehow manages to emit “cool waves.” That’s right “cool waves.” You’re probably thinking right now, “What in the hell are ‘cool waves?'” I guess the best way to describe cool waves is as if the essence of this motorcycle generates some sort of dimensional field that you pass through. Did that help?

The Raider SCL has what I would consider Yamaha’s bulletproof V-twin engine. This baby has 1854cc that work out to about 113 cubic inches. This V-twin engine has what is referred to as under-square cylinder configuration. This means that the bore of the cylinders is less than the distance that the pistons travel up and down the cylinder walls. This gives the engine the capability to produce gobs of torque at low rpm. Just what a cruiser motorcycle needs in its DNA.

The engine has four valves per cylinder to keep it aspirated. The valves are operated by pushrods. No gears or chain here. Gee, I wonder where they got that idea? The compression ratio is somewhere around 9.5 to 1 which is standard business for an air cooled V-twin. The engine is definitely all chromed up; be prepared to do a lot of polishing. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of chrome, especially chrome engines. Of course the exhaust system is thoroughly chromed and takes up a lot of real estate on the rider’s right side.

The engine is a dry sump with the oil tank conveniently located under the driver’s seat. There must be a couple of counter rotating shafts inside of the motor because I felt very little vibration from engine. Also, I’m sure it also has some sort of isolation mounting system to the frame. Make no mistake, you still have the V-twin engine experience between your legs.

Of course the engine is fuel injected. No fancy mapping or traction control adjustments on the handlebars either to confuse you. What you get is what you get. It’s got a nice five speed gearbox attached to the engine. Gear changes were flawless during my demo ride. The clutch is hydraulically assisted and had a really good feel to it.

The Yamaha Raider SCL is somewhere around 750 pounds with all the fluids, although this is a little bit high when compared to the average cruiser on the market which is somewhere around 650 pounds. The weight isn’t a big deal because the seat height is somewhere around 26 inches from the ground. This gives the majority of the riders an opportunity to put their feet flat on the ground. This was a little bit surprising to me. Yamaha uses a special casting process to produce strong lightweight frames. So I’m going to guess that the bulk of the weight of this motorcycle can be attributed to the very powerful engine.

This motorcycle is definitely designed for cruising with 102 inches of length. Even with this long length, I felt very confident when I cornered the motorcycle and got excellent feedback from the front end. Obviously, don’t think you’re going to be able to push this motorcycle into the turns like you would a sport bike. I’m pretty sure if you purchase a motorcycle like this, you already possess this knowledge.

The front forks provide somewhere around 5 inches of travel and the rear shocks damn close to 3 ½ inches of travel. The suspension was very compliant; didn’t feel soft or extremely stiff. Standard configuration for the brakes: two disks in the front one in the rear. This motorcycle is not equipped with ABS, so you’re on your own when breaking on wet or surfaces with loose material. Just like back in the old days.

The rear tire is a 210 with an 18 inch diameter. The front tire is a 140 with a 21 inch diameter. The custom chromed machined rims frame the tires very nicely. You’ve got your standard belt drive system to transfer the energy from the engine to the rear wheel. Nothing new here! Over the years I’ve become a fan of shaft drive, but I realize that putting a shaft drive on this motorcycle would make it heavier and cause the rear suspension to behave badly.

This motorcycle comes complete with a vibrant dark red paint job. What would appear to be a custom leather seat fits nicely with the fuel tank. The seat was very comfortable right from the get-go. The brake and clutch lines are encased in stainless steel which is a really nice touch. This is a Yamaha motorcycle, so of course the fit and finish is flawless.

Would I own one? No! What I like to have one? Yes! Yes, Please! At this stage of my life I always need to carry my possessions around with me and I guess I’ve become allergic to the wind. So the majority of my current motorcycles have bags and windshields. I really hate to admit this, but I also need my floorboards. How did this happen to me? Am I in the advanced stages of motorcycle ownership? What’s next, a trike? There was a time when I used to say “floorboards are for old people who ride motorcycles.” I guess I got that right.

But, if I were a younger dude or a dudette, I’d be riding around on the Yamaha SCL Raider. This motorcycle is really a cool and very fun motorcycle to ride. I can actually visualize myself 33 years ago with my Who Quadrophenia T-shirt running down the boulevard on this baby. The wind would be blowing through my hair wearing a pair of wayfarer sunglasses without a care in the world. Yep, those were the days. Now I’m floorboard man.