I don’t know about you, but it really pisses me off when companies replicate instead of innovate. Case in point: I’m looking at two new Indian motorcycle bagger models. The Indian Chieftain Limited and the Indian Chieftain Elite. Both of these motorcycles look a lot like Harley Davidson’s Street Glide. The motorcycle bagger market is the “cash cow” for HD. Road Glides and Street Glides are leaving HD’s factories like bullets out of AR-15 in full auto! Sorry about the gun reference, but it fits.
You don’t need a PhD to figure out that Indian’s Chieftain Limited is trying to go head-to-head with HD’s Street Glide Special. Duh! Nor do you need to use a super computer to determine which HD model Indian’s Chieftain Elite is gunning for. Double duh!! Before this goes any further, I own a 2015 Indian Roadmaster and a 2014 HD Ultra Limited. So you don’t need to reply with the following words of wisdom. You suck big time, Harley boy! Or my all-time favorite, “F$$k you, f$$k your Harley, I’m going to kill you when I see you.” Writing a blog is a lot more dangerous than you might imagine.
Okay, you’re probably wondering what’s the point to all of this babble. Companies that replicate will go the way of the dinosaur. Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Victory and Yamaha have all failed against the motorcycle giant Harley Davidson. In many cases, the other manufacturers built a better mousetrap. But when you compare silhouettes, they were pretty much copies of what was already in the marketplace. The lesson learned is that most consumers don’t want replicas or derivatives, they want the original.
Just so were clear here. Innovation is a tough road to go. It takes balls and a lot of money. To make matters worse, the motorcycle marketplace takes no prisoners. Either you’re going to sell your product or you’re going to shut down the assembly lines. It’s that simple. The fairytale story of four guys building a motorcycle in a shed sounds wonderful and also provides solid street cred for the brand. But the truth is that Wall Street runs the show.
Polaris has resurrected the Indian brand which provided them with some leverage that the other manufacturers didn’t have to use in the marketplace. They also kept true to the design of the prior Indian motorcycle models. That was enough for me to purchase one. I believed they had a line of motorcycles that could stand on their own in the marketplace. With a little patience and a whole lot of money, I’m pretty sure that the Indian brand would be a strong competitor with Harley Davidson in the market place.
But it appears, Polaris is running out of patience and looking at their stock prices and seem to be running out of money. I find this a troubling trend to parallel what Harley Davidson is doing. In my opinion, this strategy threatens the brand’s survival in the marketplace.
Since I can’t just grab photos of Harley Davidson’s Street Glide Special or Indian’s Chieftain Limited off of the internet. This act could land me in copyright jail. I provided two links below. Do me a favor, click on these links below and compare them. I’d like to hear your thoughts about the two motorcycles.
Yep, we’ve put a man on the moon around 50 years ago and my 2014 Moto Guzzi touring motorcycle still does not have self-canceling turn signals. How is that possible in this day and age? Three out of the four motorcycles that I own have self-canceling turn signals. The other three were manufactured in the United States. I own a Harley-Davidson, an Indian and a Honda. The Honda is a 2008 Gold Wing with an airbag. This was the last year that Honda assembled Gold Wing’s in the United States.
I know that there are a lot of less expensive motorcycles that do not have self-canceling turn signals. I’m going to guess this is some type of cost-cutting measure to make the motorcycles more competitive in the marketplace. But, it’s hard for me to imagine why my 2014 Moto Guzzi touring model doesn’t have this modern feature. For God sake, it’s the Moto Guzzi damn flagship!
I’m really surprised that, to my knowledge, the European Union doesn’t require self-canceling turn signals on all of the motorcycles used over there. They have all kinds of other regulations. It just seems weird they left self-canceling turn signals off of the rulebook.
I also find it kind of weird that Harley-Davidson, Indian/Polaris and Victory/Polaris all have self-canceling turn signals on their models. Since I brought up Victory motorcycles, let’s take time for a moment of silence. Polaris, in its great wisdom, has decided to make the Victory motorcycle line go the way of the dinosaur. With all this said, I’m going to guess that these manufacturers have determined that self-canceling turn signals are a plus for schlepping those brands out of the dealer’s showrooms.
And let’s not forget the average age of the individuals piloting these motorcycles. In that age bracket, which I am familiar with, you start to lose your memory, your car keys, your cell phone, and so forth. The idea that you activate your turn signal and have to go back to remember to turn it off is a bad idea. In my case, the turn signal might not go off until I remove the key from the ignition. So, it sure would be nice if there was a gizmo to turn my turn signals off on my 2014 Moto Guzzi Tourer.
Well, it looks like I’m not the only one who reads my blog. Apparently, they’re lonely on the other side of the planet and they decided to read my blog. I got an email from a company called Smart Turn System. We volleyed a few emails back and forth and the next thing I know, this package arrives at my doorstep. In this package is a device which will automatically cancel my turn signals without my interaction.
I’m not going to lie to you, I have not opened the package yet. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Why haven’t you open the package?” The reason I haven’t opened the package is because there’s a high probability I’ll lose the parts. So it’s just best to leave it on the box and wait until I take motorcycle to my ”Moto Guzzi Guy” to have it installed.
Stay tuned for updates. But in the meantime, check out their website at Smart Turn System
Well I got something in the mail today which was way cool. Very creative little book called The Adventures of Mimi and Moto the Motorcycle Monkeys. Yup, motorcycle monkeys. Its direct application is to get the little tykes involved in motorcycling using a Disney-like genre. This book is approximately 20 odd pages. So, if you’re looking for something along the lines of War and Peace, you’re out of luck. But if you’re looking for a really cool book to read to your children, nieces, nephews, grandkids and anyone under the age of five in your close vicinity, this is definitely the book you want to have in your hand.
Before I go too much further, I want to provide you with the contact information to possibly purchase this book. It can be purchased off of Amazon. And you can purchase it directly by clicking this link to www.mimiandmoto.com. Okay, I got that out of the way. (And I want to thank the authors for sending me this copy of the book to review.)
This book is a children’s motorcycle picture book that will inspire future participants in the motorcycle industry. No “See Spot Run” in this book. Do they even have “See Spot Run” books in schools anymore? Let’s get back on track. The illustrations in this book will spark a child’s imagination while teaching him or her motorcycle safety. It also teaches about camaraderie with your mates on the open road. This is definitely a book that a child would treasure.
Seven-time speed record holder, Valerie Thompson, will be a featured celebrity racer at the 67th Grand National Roadster Show at the Fairplex in Pomona. Hand picked from a group of accomplished land speed racers, Thompson’s record setting BMW will be displayed in a special tribute area dedicated to the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) named “Quest for Speed.”
Over 500 show vehicles will compete for awards within the Fairplex buildings during the three-day show January 29 – 31. Another 400 – 800 vehicles will join the event over the weekend for the 11th Annual Grand Daddy Drive-In event.
“I’ve always had a passion for land speed racing. Competing on the Salt Flats of Utah and dry lakebeds of California as an independent racer always reminds me of the unsung heroes who made American racing what it is today. This special invitation to appear at the most prestigious rod show just blows me away,” said Thompson. “More importantly, this exhibit will be used as a fund raiser for the SCTA, a non-profit organization that makes racing dreams possible for all competitors, no matter the size of their pocket book,” added Thompson.
Thompson formed her own land speed racing team in 2012 and recorded a personal best top speed of 217 mph at the 2014 Texas Mile. In 2015, Thompson became the first female member of the Colorado Mile 200 MPH Club on her Quicksilver Powersports Lubricants/CTEK BMW Motorrad and is now a member of six-land speed racing 200 MPH Clubs, including the prestigious Bonneville 200 MPH Club. As a result, she is often referred to as “America’s Queen of Speed.”
The Grand National Roadster show will be held at the Fairplex in Pomona January 29 – 31, located at 1101 W. McKinley Avenue. For schedule updates and tickets, visit https://www.rodshows.com/gnrs/index.
Valerie Thompson Background
Valerie is a seven-time land speed record holder and independent female owner/driver of the Valerie Thompson Land Speed Racing Motorcycle Team who has also competed in the All Harley Drag Racing Association and National Hot Rod Association drag racing series. She set a personal best top speed of 217 mph on her BMW S 1000 RR during the October 2014 Texas Mile competition. Thompson is an official member of the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials 201 MPH Club (formerly BUB Speed Trials), Mojave Magnum 200 MPH Club, ECTA 200 MPH Club, Texas Mile 200 MPH Club, Colorado Mile 200 MPH Club and lifetime member of the famed Bonneville 200 MPH Club. Based on her numerous racing accomplishments and speed records, Thompson is often referred to as “America’s Queen of Speed.”
Grand National Roadster Show Background
The GNRS is now in its 67th year. Once known as the Oakland Roadster Show, it is the longest running indoor car show in the world. This will be the 13th consecutive year the show has been produced at the Pomona Fairplex.
Klock Werks Kustom Cycles is beyond honored and humbled to have the opportunity to partner with Indian Motorcycle on a project that pays tribute to the outstanding service men and women of our country. With an impressive track record of supporting U.S. troops dating back to WWI, Indian Motorcycle has always believed in the importance of standing strong to support the Military.
The 2015 Scout was the perfect platform for Klock Werks to build a military tribute style motorcycle; The USO Scout. The motorcycle has long been a staple in the military ranks as a workhorse, but beyond that and more importantly it helped build the morale of those serving on deployment as a symbol of hope. Hope in one day returning home being reunited with family, friends and a great American motorcycle ride.
“The USO does so much as a non profit for the moral of our troops and entertainment during those long stints away from family, we are proud to give back in such a way that utilizes the talents of our team and a great motorcycle like the Scout”, said Brian Klock, founder of Klock Werks.
The matte green paint is indicative of a vintage military bike, and was perfectly applied by Brad Smith of The Factory Match. The USO Scout features taillights that are modern street legal reproductions on a custom bracket to mimic the original lights used back in the day.
The saddlebags seen are an Indian Accessory; the “Klassic” seat kit has been custom upholstered using the exact same hides as on the saddlebags. That same leather wraps the base of the Indian quick detach windshield.
The front fender is a Klock Werks “Klassic” design for the new Scout model.
The fork caps and rear shock covers are custom rapid prototype parts designed on Klock Werks Stratasys equipment.
The Indian Chieftain floorboards feature custom Klock Werks designed mounting brackets and hardware.
The luggage rack is a custom one off billet top with metal side plates featuring the USO logo.
The exhaust has been ceramic coated to blend with the frame coloration.
The right side features a “Klassic” round cover with a faux serial number for effect.
The custom gun scabbard mount holds a Thompson sub machine gun with a custom gunstock by Boyds Gunstocks of Mitchell, SD. The USO and Indian logos are both featured in the wood.
“The balance of custom touches and keeping the bike ride able for events was critical. We were not trying to recreate an old bike but rather conjure up images of yesteryear while paying homage to the modern water-cooled powerplant, and innovative design elements”, Brian stated. “Klock Werks team took Indian’s direction and executed a fully functional motorcycle. The talented team from Boyd’s Gunstocks certainly added the frosting to the cake with their efforts. We are fortunate to be able to work with the USO on furthering their cause and be surrounded by the talent in Mitchell, SD.”
America’s Queen of Speed combines forces with Star Racing and Chris Rivas for 2016 NHRA season
(Scottsdale, AZ) – Nov. 10, 2015 – Seven-time land speed record holder Valerie Thompson plans to compete for a full season of NHRA drag racing next year with a Star Racing built Pro Stock Motorcycle as an independent team owner and driver. Thompson will also continue seeking new land speed racing records with her team’s BMW S 1000 RR at select events in 2016.
In addition with technical support by Star Racing, Thompson’s team will be led by recently appointed crew chief, Chris Rivas. Rivas is a former Pro Stock Motorcycle racer with four NHRA event wins and six land speed racing world records.
“Chris Rivas has been successful in drag racing while setting new land speed records. As a crew chief, he will be one of my biggest assets. He understands the difference between quarter-mile and land speed racing, so he can help our team with everything from bike set-up to my riding technique as I transition back to drag racing,” added Thompson.
Thompson’s motorcycle-racing career began in the All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA) where she finished third in the V-Rod Destroyer class in 2007 and was featured in a Super Bowl commercial with Danica Patrick. She also entered several NHRA in 2008 with a best elapsed time 7.05 seconds.
“I have a real passion for land speed racing, but I can’t express how excited I am to return to my ‘racing roots’ with a bike built by George Bryce’s Star Racing team. George and his wife Jackie, operate one of the most successful NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle teams in the history of the sport, so I’m confident we will do well next year,” said Thompson.
“I’m delighted to see Valerie returning to drag racing and thankful she chose Star Racing to help her new team. We are also looking forward to working with Chris Rivas again,” said George Bryce, Star Racing owner.
Thompson formed her own land speed racing team in 2012 and recorded a personal best top speed of 217 mph at the 2014 Texas Mile. This year, Thompson became the first female member of the Colorado Mile 200 MPH Club on her Quicksilver Powersports Lubricants/CTEK BMW Motorrad and is now a member of six-land speed racing 200 MPH Clubs, including the prestigious Bonneville 200 MPH Club. As a result, she is often referred to as “America’s Queen of Speed.”
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.
During the 2015 season I rode with several different motorcycle groups. I guess it’s time to write about my experiences with these groups. I just read an interesting article about USA motorcycle riders’ behavior. 58% of us are what’s referred to as “Lone Wolf Riders.” No groups, no vests and no patches. We just roll our motorcycles out of the garage and go.
First up is the Chicagoland Wings! Here’s a link to their website. http://gwrra-ilz2.com/. Before I write about my experience I’m going to give you the official statement from their website. “We are one of several Illinois Chapters of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. The world’s largest single-marque social organization for owners and riders of Honda Gold Wing and Valkyrie motorcycles. We are dedicated to our motto, Friends for Fun, Safety and Knowledge. GWRRA members enjoy the freedom of belonging to a not-for-profit, non-religious, and non-political organization.”
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I don’t own a Honda Gold Wing or a Valkyrie motorcycle. Can I still participate in this group if I don’t own one of these motorcycles? Well, I’m going with yes. Considering fact that I’ve showed up on my Moto Gizzi and other riders at the meetings have different motorcycle brands too. So I’m going to throw this out there, it pretty much looks like if you like to ride a motorcycle you can be a participant in this group.
I am a member of Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA). I own a 2008 Honda Golwing. I’m pretty sure the membership cost me about $45 a year. The GWRRA creates a magazine that they send out periodically. You can get either by mail or an electronic version to read on your iPad or such.
This magazine is filled with useful motorcycle rider information and advertisement specifically targeting Honda Gold Wing motorcycles. There are other benefits to being a member of this organization but I just don’t have in front of me to write about it. Here’s a link to their website so you can get the correct information. http://www.gwrra.org/
Next let’s talk about the meeting logistics. The meetings are held every third Sunday at the Denny’s located at 17 W 660 22nd street, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181. The meetings start at about 9 am giving you the opportunity to eat breakfast and hear what’s going on in the group and the parent organization (GWRRA). There is also an opportunity for you to gamble because during the meeting they run a 50-50 ticket raffle.
One of my favorite things about this group is that there are women riders in the group. They’re not just passengers but they ride their own motorcycles. In my opinion this reduces the level of testosterone in the group. Maybe reduces the level of testosterone is the wrong thing to say, let’s just say it dilutes the level of testosterone.
Excessive testosterone and motorcycles leads to bad things. I’ve ridden with several all-male groups and the first two things that go out the window are safety and critical thinking. So anytime I see a group that has women riders I’m in.
Before I go any farther I’d like to nail down the relationships between the different organizations. The Chicagoland wings are a chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. I believe there is more than one Illinois chapter and the technical name for this chapter is “GWRRA Chapter IL-Z2.” I may have this wrong but I believe you have to be a member of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) in order to participate in a local chapter. Without doing any research I’m going to guess that there are chapters located all over the world.
Okay, who are you riding with in this group? I’m three clicks away from 60 and would consider myself a little bit under the mean average age. I wouldn’t say that I’m an outlier on the Bell curve just a little bit off from the center. I look like I’m in my early forties and sometimes I feel like the “Kid” in the group. But, that’s just me internalizing.
The club president definitely goes out of his way to try to connect with anyone who is new or possibly overwhelmed by this experience their first meeting. This is definitely one of the friendlier groups that I’ve rode with. Example, I’ve been provided with coupons by other members to reduce the cost of my breakfasts on several occasions. I guess this is a small thing, but it’s indicative to the whole culture of the group.
On our last outing we went to Volo Auto Museum located in 27582 Volo Village Rd, Volo, IL . I’ve driven past this place several times, but never stopped in. This particular outing was about a 90 mile round trip I believe. The Volvo Auto Museum is an interesting place for me because it is filled with “muscle cars” from back in the day. I got a chance to reminisce about cars that I always wanted to own.
But true be told, I love my 2015 Honda Accord. I like how every time I get in the driver seat it adjusts to fit me after the wife has just driven it. That is just so “car-gasmic” for me. You can’t beat no key to turn, Bluetooth conductivity, wall-to-wall-air bags and a bunch of technology I don’t know how to use. Muscle cars just don’t seem so cool anymore.
Okay this blog is starting to turn into an episode of the Seinfeld show, a lot about nothing. So improve you social skills and ride with this group!
Be safe, ride your motorcycle, enjoy you life, help those in need, go to pet shelter and try to improve the planet. Oh, one other thing, please checkout all of my media, thanks.
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.
This is going be a continuing series about how my 2015 Indian Chief Classic performs and my experience of owning it. I’m not going to bullshit you about anything about this motorcycle. I don’t work for Indian. I’m just another motorcycle consumer like you. If something sucks, you’re going know about it. I’ll deal with facts, figures and my opinion.
Last Sunday, I rode with the Lilac Village War Lords. Nope, not true, sorry. Sounds pretty cool, though, say it with me “Lilac Village War Lords.” The truth is I rode with the Jersey Pine Cruisers. The Jersey Pine Cruiser’s home base is in Mount Prospect Illinois.We rode into the fine state of Wisconsin around the Lake Geneva area.
Okay back on track! I need to have the pre-load adjusted on the rear shock. I’ve got a feeling that motorcycle comes from the factory for someone south of 200 pounds. Well, guess what, I’m north of 200 pounds. So during the ride, my spinal cord got adjusted, a few times. I’m hoping that there’s going to be aftermarket air-shock available soon.
It was a 90 degree day. Good day to see if that big V-twin gets hot between my legs. Guess what? It does! But, it seems to be concentrated on the right side. I saw that coming, not a big deal. Just the nature of the beast. If you want a cooler running engine, then get one that’s water-cooled. I will say this, my old Harley-Davidson 2012 Softail Deluxe would roast both legs, medium well!
The transmission works like a charm. No bouncing back and forth from first to second trying to find neutral. My 2014 Harley Davidson Road King on occasion likes to play “find neutral if you can.” No sponge gears either! What’s a sponge gear? Let’s use my 2014 Moto Guzzi California Touring as an example. Sometimes when I down-shift, it feels like I’m stepping on a sponge. There’s some resistance, but nothing happens. When I feel the “sponge gear” coming on, I up-shift and then down-shift again. It’s all good. It adds some spice to my life.
The engine develops a lot of useful torque. I find myself lazily going through the gears. There have been times when I should have down-shifted, but I didn’t. The engine doesn’t complain by the usual methods. It’s almost like you only need the transmission to get the motorcycle moving. After that, it’s pretty much like an automatic with a few adjustments now and then.
I really don’t feel this motorcycle is drag strip material. It’s new and I haven’t put it through its paces yet, but you can tell. I’m good with that, too. I’m going to guess it’s all about the mass your trying to propel. Send this motorcycle to Weight Watchers for a few months and you’ll have different story to tell.
I can set my helmet on the seat with the engine running. If I try the same feat with my Road King, Ultra Limited or the Moto Guzzi I’d be picking up my helmet off of the ground in seconds. Engine vibrations are kept under control. So if you’re dead set on shaking handlebars, mirrors, floorboards and fuel tanks you’re out of luck.
I read that some people complained about the distance from the handgrips to the levers. I have a normal size hand and didn’t have a problem operating the levers. By normal, I mean I am unable to palm a basketball. The brakes have a really good feel to them. It would appear they provide more than enough stopping power.
I guess my brain is starting to attenuate out the engine noise. It just doesn’t bother me anymore… nor does the rattling coming from the fuel tank area that I once heard in the distant past.