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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

ZROCK

ZROCK is an online radio station for motorcycle enthusiasts across the USA. And ZROCK plays some of the best rock music you’ll ever hear, stretching from the ’60s to now! ZROCK is all about motorcycle rider lifestyles and anything to do with motorcycles.

Plus there’s unique reports from motorcycle events throughout the USA and globally. Get daily reports from the road of the CROSS EGYPT CHALLENGE, SCMA’s 3 FLAGS CLASSIC and others.

Through-out the day you’ll hear:

AMERICAN BIKER MINUTE with Jeff Ryan – Our coverage is comprehensive, including all aspects of riding, and branded machines.

PAUL SHAFFER’S DAY IN ROCK – This segment illustrates the daily history of rock according to long-time David Letterman musical director and sidekick Paul Shaffer.

MOTORCYCLE EVENTS – Michael Town (AKA The Hound Dog) sniffs out the latest events from Motorcycle Clubs throughout the USA.

SIX SECOND REVIEWS – What can you do with six seconds?  Mr. MovieFone answers that question with Six Second Reviews!

PHONE CHECKS – Inciting hilarity with every incoming phone call, Clairissa Jenkins takes phone pranks to the next level.

AMERICAN TATTOO – Friday Jones has worked with wide-ranging clients from Oscar winners to heads of state, Grammy artists to captains of new industry.

ROAD TRIPPIN’ – Discover some of the best rides from around the globe.

ATM – ALL THINGS MOTORCYCLE – including motorcycle reviews, latest motorcycle Gear and Great Road Trips exclusively from Coolcycledude Bill Whitman.

ZROCK is on-air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is totally accessible while you are on the move. Download our free custom app on your phone or listen via your computer, internet radio or smart TV.

ZROCK can be heard on iTunes and Tunein.com or simply visit http://www.zrock.us to listen live

ZROCK is based in Los Angeles, California and is owned by Talking Dog Media Inc.

 

New 2015 Moto Guzzi Motorcycles

Moto Guzzi is bringing several new models to the marketplace for 2015. I guess if Moto Guzzi wants to be a world player like they were back in the day, they’ve got to pick up the pace. I own a 2014 California 1400 Touring and I believe it’s a very competitive product. I’m not just saying that because I own one. If it was a piece of crap, I’d let you know without hesitation. I’m the guy who has never been employee of the month, if you get my drift.

I’m going to be upfront here. I was little leery about buying a Moto Guzzi. I kept hearing the same thing over and over again. If you’re not a motorcycle mechanic, a Moto Guzzi motorcycle will make you one. I’m not a motorcycle mechanic, nor do I have time to wrench a motorcycle.  I’m the dude who buys warranties and knows the names of people who run the service departments at the motorcycle shops. That’s how I roll!

The 2015 California 1400 Touring S.E. is a variation of their California 1400 Touring platform. This motorcycle is all decked out with a two-tone paint job. This is going to sound odd, but I was never a fan of two-tone paint jobs. But for some reason, as I get older, two-tone paint jobs are starting to appeal to me. I actually use the word “cool” when I see a two-tone paint job now.

The Touring SE comes with a built-in passenger backrest and grab handles around the back of the seat. States in the USA are passing laws requiring “grab rails” around the passenger seat for safety. I hope there’s a rack accessory to attach to passenger backrest.  Moto Guzzi is definitely looking to capture some of the bagger buy frenzy.

 

The 2015 Moto Guzzi Eldorado is a variation of their California 1400 custom platform.  Moto Guzzi is going for the nostalgic look with this motorcycle. This motorcycle is equipped with chrome spoke rims and whitewall tires. The whitewall tires really highlight the chrome spoke rims. I hate cleaning white wall tires, but they do enhance the look of any motorcycle.

The handlebars are high and rolled back. Give the rider an upright riding position. The rear taillight is round and protrudes from the rear fender. The turn signals are installed at the bottom of the rear fender. This setup provides a purposeful and cool non-techno look. The rear shocks are also throwbacks from the old days. The springs on the shocks are covered just like they were in the Fifties.

This motorcycle has pin striping graphics on the on the fenders and tank. Also, there’s some cool graphics on both side covers. The cylinder heads are blacked-out instead of polished aluminum. The speedometer housing is all chromed up and centered between the handlebar base

 

The 2015 Moto Guzzi Audace is going for the drag bike look and is using the California 1400 custom platform. The floor boards have been replaced with foot pegs. You can’t have floor boards on a drag bike! Also, no passenger seat on this baby either. I have no idea why the passenger pegs are still there. Starting to get the picture here?

The front forks are brand new and different from the other two models. The oil cooler is wrapper in some type of housing to give the motorcycle a “badass look.” The handlebars are pull-back Tee bars. There doesn’t seem to be any chrome on this motorcycle. Okay, cool, I guess. The exhaust system has been modified to provide a more aggressive look.

Moto Guzzi has also added a scrambler version of one of their models. The scrambler stuff seems to be the rage nowadays. I don’t get this whole scrambler business, but I guess the “Youths” like 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.

2014 Harley Davidson Road King Blog Series 11/9/2014

This is going be a continuing series about how my 2014 Harley-Davidson Road King performs and my experience of owning it. I’m not going to bullshit you about anything about this motorcycle. I don’t work for Harley Davidson. 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.

Why did I purchase a 2014 Harley Davidson Road King?

There’s a lot of other manufacturers that produce a similar type motorcycle. Why didn’t I pick one of those? I know, without a doubt, that this motorcycle is going to be expensive to operate compared to similar products from other manufacturers. I went into this relationship knowing that up front. Also, Harley-Davidsons are not the cheapest motorcycles to purchase either.

Good Bye Money!
Good Bye Money!

Whether people want to admit it or not, the Harley-Davidson motorcycle brand is an icon in the motorcycle world. The brand represents the true essence of motorcycling. All of the other major manufacturers have tried to copy or produce duplicates to compete in that market segment. In my opinion some of the manufacturers have built a better mousetrap. But, they just don’t have the same “motorcycle life force” as a Harley-Davidson does.

White Wall Tires
White Wall Tires

I’m a big fan of motorcycles that have a nostalgic look to them. I must be getting old! At this point in my life I don’t need 150 HP at the rear wheel. I really prefer motorcycles that have less plastic on them. It seems like the current motorcycles produced have all been plasticized. I like to see the tubular steel frame instead of a formed casted aluminum one.  I like the look of metal fuel tank with attached emblems on the sides.

Nice Emblem!
Nice Emblem!

I like the look of white wall tires and chrome rims with chrome spokes. I’m really not a big fan of these fancy digital displays currently being used on new motorcycles. I know there’s a way to cut costs and to provide the rider with more information. But to me they seem cold and lifeless. Essentially no different than the $10 Timex watch that you can buy. But the speedometer on the 2014 Harley Davidson speaks to me. Not through physical communication but in a metaphorical way.

How Fast Am I Going?
How Fast Am I Going?

I don’t like wrenching my motorcycles. So I purchased the seven-year warranty. No other manufacturer offers a seven-year warranty. The downside of purchasing the extended warranty is you must adhere to the prescribed maintenance recommended by Harley-Davidson.  The prescribed maintenance periods are every 5000 miles until the motorcycle dies or until the warranty runs out.

I like the fact that there are Harley-Davidson dealers located all through the United States. In the event that my motorcycle does have a problem during its usage on the road, there are approximately 700 Harley-Davidson dealerships within the United States. There were almost 900 Harley-Davidson dealerships in 2007 but the economic downturn wiped 200 of them off of the face of the earth. I believe that some of these dealerships will come back due to the improved economic climate.

Rumble! Rumble!
Rumble! Rumble!

I’m a really big fan of the product. The air/oil cooled V-twin engine is one of my favorites. I prefer motorcycles with V-twin engines as opposed to parallels, opposed or in lines. Like everyone else who prefers a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, I like the rumble from the engine. Also, I don’t have a problem with the vibration that the engine produces. I know that’s just the nature of the beast and an experience that I prefer.

Next blog I’ll talk about the purchasing process and the costs.

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.

 

 

 

2012 Harley Davidson XL883L Sportster SuperLow

Last summer I got the opportunity to ride a 2012 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL883L SuperLow. I definitely wouldn’t normally ride or purchase this size motorcycle. Not that it’s a bad motorcycle, it just seems beneath me. Wow, that makes me sound pretty damn arrogant. I want to make this perfectly clear I’m not dissing this product. It’s just that I prefer bigger and more powerful motorcycles. Well, maybe I’m dissing it just a little, sorry.

So there I was waiting in the demo line to pick out a motorcycle to ride. I’m going to have to get on my little soapbox here for a few seconds. I am somewhat confused why we can’t sign up for these demo rides online before we get to the event. Let’s face reality. Not only is Harley-Davidson letting you ride their motorcycles they’re also farming for information for their database.

Think how fast the flow would go if you actually had the ability to sign up online. I mean, seriously, all the information would be absorbed into Harley-Davidson’s database directly from the web without having to reenter it by hand or whatever other system they use during the demo rides. Hello, Harley-Davidson, anybody out there?

Okay, back on track. So finally it’s my turn as I progressed through the line to sign up for the demo rides I am at position one, staring at the sign-up sheet. Looking at the sign-up sheet, I realize my ability to procrastinate has once again impacted my life choices. Scanning the sheet I notice there’s only one available slot. The lady at the table tells me the only thing that is left is the “Sporty 883.”

So as I bounce “Sporty 883” around in my brain, I came to the realization that that was the only motorcycle left. So now my choice turns into a no-brainer. I watched as she wrote my name down on the sheet and looked up at me with a big smile and said “You’re going to enjoy riding that motorcycle.” I thought to myself “Okay, if you say so.”

Doesn’t that lady know that I am coolcycledude, master of the two wheel transportation systems? The same coolcycledude with 400,000 views on his YouTube channel and over 2 million hits on his blog. I got a feeling she probably doesn’t give a “shit” that I’m coolcycledude master of the two wheel transportation systems. I guess when it’s all said and done coolcycledude is just another lemming waiting in a demo line to ride a motorcycle. Reality is such a cruel realm.

I checked my pride and walked over to the motorcycle. I made a couple laps around the motorcycle looking it over and few things really stood out from the get go. Wow, this baby’s got a lot of chrome on it for the entry level motorcycle. It also appeared that the gas tank seemed extremely large for a sportster gas tank. I came to find out that the gas tank held 4.5 gallons of fuel. I’m not sure but that’s got to be the largest gas tank ever placed on a Harley-Davidson Sportster.

Threw my leg over the motorcycle and plopped my butt down on the seat. The seat felt comfortable right off the bat. Nice reach from the seat to the bars puts me in a neutral position not leaning forward or backwards. The handlebars seem a little high above the tank, but it all works out. The controls on the handgrips are standard Harley-Davidson issue, nothing new here. The speedometer was installed in the center of the handlebars with a few “idiot” lights for good luck.

The ride coordinator signaled that they were going to be starting soon. So I turn the ignition key to the on position and hit the start button. Yep, I’m on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The engine produced a familiar rumble that I have come to love. Okay, she was right, I’m going to like riding this motorcycle. This motorcycle immediately fell into the “not too shabby” classification.

The ride coordinator signaled me to move into the line. Pulled in the clutch and popped this baby into gear and headed out of my parking spot to get in line. The clutch had a really light pull from the lever handle and that familiar “clunk” bellowed from the transmission when I put this baby and gear. Let the clutch out turn the throttle little bit to propel my “Sporty 883” to my designated spot in the demo line. Put this baby back into neutral and cranked the throttle a few times. Nice!

Looking down at the fuel tank with the brilliant red paint job, I realized how cool it looked on this motorcycle. I mean really, the tank provided a really nice design flow for the motorcycle. Again, I started surveying all the chrome bits and pieces on this motorcycle and again I was amazed at the level of detail for what I consider to be an entry-level motorcycle.

The demo ride guide started waving his arm signaling it’s time to go. Pulled clutch and dropped my foot on the gear lever that for that familiar clunk and slowly let the clutch lever out and turned the throttle. Right off the bat, I realized this motorcycle was really easy to handle. I’m going to guess this thing weighs in somewhere around 500 pounds. The seat position and the handle bar configuration should provide a new rider with exceptional feel and feedback when maneuvering this motorcycle.

Okay I’ve got a complaint. In my opinion the foot pegs are too high and maybe too far back. This foot peg configuration is probably designed to help increase ground clearance. But, this really isn’t a big deal because if I owned this motorcycle, I definitely would put forward foot controls on it. I’ve never been a big fan of the foot pegs right below the seat. Well that’s just me and you might see it a different way.

I don’t think I can say this enough, but the motorcycle had a very intuitive and natural feel during my demo ride. No surprises with how it cornered, stopped or throttle response of the engine. I did have a sparring match with the gearbox during my downshifting events. The lever would sometimes bounce back and provided weird feedback to my current gear position. I’m going to attribute this to my lack of feel because it’s a new motorcycle that I’ve never ridden before and the placement of the foot pegs which was relatively uncomfortable for me.

During the demo ride we took a detour to a partial expressway and I ran this baby up to 65 miles an hour to see how it would handle. Sometimes motorcycles with short wheelbase can feel unpredictable at high speeds. The “Sporty 883” was solid as a rock at 65 mph. Also, it had considerably more roll-on power than I thought it would. But I guess you can attribute that to the engine’s V-twin configuration and a relatively flat torque curve.

Speaking of the engine, it is an air cooled V-twin with fuel injection. This is pretty much standard protocol for Harley-Davison engine. As I mentioned earlier, it’s got a five speed gearbox. The final drive is a belt. Belt drive is a wonderful thing that keeps you from cleaning a chain. Trust me you don’t want to clean a chain. The engine also has considerable amount of chrome bits with a very nice chromed exhaust system.

I’m going to guess this motorcycle was designed for one up riding and the ability to carry some gear. I definitely feel this motorcycle wouldn’t be compatible for two up riding for any length of time. But I’m sure there’s somebody out there who can prove me wrong by sending me pictures of a “Sporty 883” carrying a whole family plus their farm animals in some third world country.

Who is this motorcycle for in my opinion? I think Harley-Davidson put a lot of effort in the design of this motorcycle to benefit new or minimal experienced riders. So if this is your MO, this definitely would be a motorcycle that you would demo ride and give it some serious consideration. I also believe that this motorcycle is competitively priced to give someone with a limited budget access to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle riding experience.

2012 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic

I got a chance to ride the 2012 Harley-Davidson Road King classic. Yep, I know, it’s almost 2014, better late than never to post a blog. Excluding my ability to do things within a timely manner, this blog post is still worth reading. This would be my second favorite Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Obviously my first choice is the Softail Deluxe which I own. I’m a big fan of the classic speedometer which is standard issue on both of these motorcycles. Either way, both models have a nostalgic look and feel to the user.

The 2012 Road King has the 103 engine. The engine is a standard Harley-Davidson V twin with two valves per cylinder. Compression ratio is relatively low to keep engine heat at an acceptable value. The engine is coupled to a six speed gearbox through the primary chain. No big changes here. The sixth gear is actually an overdrive to keep the RPM in the sweet spot when you’re cruising on the highway. Unfortunately when it comes time to pass a vehicle you’re going to have to downshift into a lower gear to send more power to the rear wheel for the anticipated acceleration.

I wouldn’t plan on dragging your knee on the ground as you maneuver the Road King through high-speed sweeper. Nope, this ain’t no Moto GP motorcycle. But the motorcycle does provide the feeling of confidence whether you’re entering or leaving a turn. It’s important to remember that this motorcycle has floorboards which are a strong deterrent from leaning into a turn too hard.

The rims are chrome with chromed spokes. Wrapped around those chrome rims are Dunlop whitewall tires. I think chromed rims and whitewall tires go together like peanut butter and jelly. A lot of manufacturers have moved away from wheels with spokes and are now producing either machined or casted.  Soulless bastards! The whole package looks very appealing under the oversized fenders.

The moment you start the Road King Classic you know you’re on a Harley. The pulsations from the engine at idle are transferred to the rider through the handlebars and the seat. Those vibrations are there to remind you that you’re in control of one of the most prolific engines ever created caged within a motorcycle frame. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you should probably own a Honda.

This motorcycle is equipped with three disc brakes two up front and one in rear. This provides plenty of stopping power to bring this 811 pound beast to a halt. The braking system is not linked so you’re going to have to use the foot brake and the handbrake at the same time. I’m a big fan of linked brakes but I guess Harley-Davidson was not at the time.

A few of the 2014 models have a linked brake system which is activated by the speed of the motorcycle. So I guess Harley-Davidson is getting on board with linked brakes. I read somewhere that that has pissed off a lot of the Shriners who use Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I wonder what happens when a bunch of Shriners gets pissed off.

Cruise control was standard with this model which is really a nice amenity to have. There are two nice soft saddlebags protected by nicely placed chromed saddlebag guard.  I’m a big fan of soft bags as opposed to the plastic ones. Again, it’s all about the nostalgic look of the motorcycle for me. I feel the soft bags continue to keep up the tradition of older motorcycles. I didn’t see any locking device on the saddlebags.

The motorcycles ergonomics produced little if any fatigue in me while I was riding the motorcycle. The handlebars are in a good position to control the motorcycle. The seat is extremely comfortable for those long jaunts. The floorboards seemed roomy enough for my feet. I’m a big fan of toe-heal shifter which is included in this model. The controls on the handgrips for starting, turn signals and so forth are standard Harley-Davidson issue. There is the addition of cruise control switches which occupies both left and right handgrips.

If you’re looking for something to race against Suzuki’s Hayabusa, you’ve picked the wrong motorcycle. I don’t care if the salesperson told you it’s a “done deal” if you upgrade to Scream-Eagle stage 15. But if you want to cruise the streets on an American icon with the nostalgic loo,k you’ve made a wise decision.