Bikers, Lay Off the Road Rage. You won’t Win, Ever.

Irish comedian Dylan Moran put it so well – people will apologise profusely if they accidentally bump into one another when walking down the street, but the slightest indiscretion while driving in a car turns people into raging homicidal maniacs. Whatever the reasons for road rage, as a motorcycle rider you’re in a far more vulnerable position than a car driver – yet that doesn’t stop many riders participating in road rage. Just remember, you won’t win in a confrontation with a car.  Ever.

Thanks to the ever increasing usage of cameras while riding, we’re seeing more and more examples of car on bike road rage (and bike on car rage, too). No doubt these were happening well before the invention of action cameras, although some blame can lay at the feet or certain Moto Vloggers who get their kicks (and subsequent subscribers) out of intentionally annoying fellow motorists. But regardless of how a road rage incident starts, you as the motorcycle rider should always be the one to stop it.

Road rage has often ended in death for people and it’s usually when the to aggrieved parties get out and confront each other. Strangely when a car and a motorcycle is involved, some car drivers feel emboldened to attempt to run riders of the road despite the fact that when a motorcyclist crashes their chance of serious injury or death is many times greater than someone inside a steel safety cell.

What drives people to do this? Blame Obama, chem-trails or Monsanto. Whatever the case, you, as a rider need to take the high ground. And as hard as it can be to swallow your tongue if you’ve been wronged, your ego is far less important than getting home safely to your loved ones. Here’s a few recent examples of how not to react when it comes to road rage:

Here we have an example of a motorist who for whatever reason feels like they are endowed with the power to intervene when motorcycle riders drive like morons. Yes, the riders are riding like idiots, but that still doesn’t justify a member of the public attempting what could be described as attempted homicide at various points. It culminates in a fist fight and the driver’s spouse pulling out a gun. Yay.

This video is all sorts of bad. You’ve got the car driver who seems to be driving while on some form of drugs, with a rider endangering not only himself but everyone else with his riding. Yes, your eyes don’t deceive you, he actually does ride on the wrong side of the road to get away from the car driver. Instead of pulling over and either going the other way or waiting for the car driver to leave, he decides to carry on, albeit in a way that could have ended up with him dead.

Here’s my favourite as it involves rednecks and a motorcyclist approaching them to ask what’s going on. Here is perhaps how the rider thought things were going to go in his head before you spoke to them:

Rider: Hey there sir, what seems to be the problem?

Redneck: I don’t like the way you’re riding.

Rider: Well sir, I don’t think we were doing anything wrong. Could you perhaps relax a little and we’ll all carry on our way?

Redneck: Why I do believe you’re correct. I do apologise for my misconduct. Have a lovely day, God bless!

The above has never happened in a road rage incident and never well. Don’t approach people as you won’t convince them of anything. Just carry on and forget it happened.

Always remember you’re a sack of meat riding a fairly lightweight machine up against two tons of aluminium and steal. You may be technically in the right, you may be morally in the right but that won’t mean anything if you end up in the hospital, or worse. Smile and wave boys, smile and wave…

 

Yamaha Shows off Futuristic Scooter Concept

Yamaha has been investing in motorcycles probably more than any other brand recently and have shown off a number of interesting concepts in recent times, including the soon to be released MTW-9 three wheeler. Now they’re giving another two wheeled category – scooters – some love as well with the 04GEN concept at the Vietnam Motorcycle Show.

The 04GEN design is based on the RUN-WAY concept, which evokes the image of women with an air of dignified elegance and grace in both mind and body. Compared to most scooter bodywork structures – which hide the frame with exterior parts – the 04GEN only covers the frame with semi-transparent exterior parts. Showcasing the beautifully-engineered interior structure brings a lightness to its majestic body, creating a new design which synthesizes the interior and exterior to achieve a rare beauty.

Yamaha Motor, which has always ensured design is a central pillar of their product creation from its founding as a company, established Refined Dynamism as a design philosophy in 2013 and is currently putting great energy into developing products that emphasise the unique style of Yamaha. Based on this philosophy, Yamaha Motor has unveiled three design concepts to date: in 2014 the 01GEN, a crossover motorcycle with two wheels at the front and the 02GEN, an alluring electrically power-assisted wheelchair were shown and in 2015 the 03GEN was revealed, a new mobility concept with enhanced optional colours, materials, and finishing based on the TRICITY.

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Viking Cycle Warrior Jacket Review

I tend not to care too much about how I look riding on my bike, as long as what I wear is comfortable and adds to my safety. That said, riding around on a cruiser wearing a brightly coloured sportsbike jacket does look a bit silly, so having a classically styled leather jacket doesn’t go astray – but only if you don’t have to fork out huge wads of cash for the privilege. That’s where a product like the Viking Cycle Warrior Jacket is perfect.

This jacket is an in-house brand of the online retailer Motorcycle House and at $89 in Australian dollars of $86 for US buyers, it’s a very inexpensive option. And while at this price point it’s obviously not the greatest jacket in existence, it still does what it needs to do while looking decent at the same time.

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Motorcycle House describes the Warrior jacket as a vintage styled jacket that could easily be worn both on and off the bike. That probably depends where you live and who you hang out with thanks to the laces on the side of the jacket which aren’t to my taste, but the the type of cruiser rider who adorns their Harley with tassels probably won’t blink an eye.

Inside the jacket there are a number of pockets that snap shut nice and tightly, and there’s also a removable liner inside which increase warmth in cooler periods but can be discarded during summer. A pair of zippered pockets on the outside of the jacket provide further personal storage space.

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The leather is a bit stiff but given the price point, that’s not surprising. That said, even after a few ride it had started to soften up. It’s no Dainese or Alpinestars when it comes to that quality leather feel, but to get that you’d been needing to spend four times as much. That said the zippers and quality of the stitching all seemed very good and didn’t really show any cheapness at all.

Overall, the Viking Cycle Warrior jacket is actually an impressive piece of kit, especially given the price. In fact you’d struggle to buy a decent second hand leather jacket at this price. Australians can buy it here, Americans here.

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Learn to Ride a Motorcycle with an English Accent

Some of the local constabulary in the English town of Hampshire have decided to do their bit by creating and uploading some instructional videos as they tootle around town. While the videos aren’t going to teach you too many tricks if you’re an experienced rider, they’re no doubt something that would appeal to newer motorcyclists.

It’s also wonderful to see local law enforcement taking a proactive role in motorcycle safety, rather than the usual reactive methods of fines and the like. At the moment there’s just two videos up – one titled Safe Urban Driving and the other Safe Urban Filtering. According to the channel, it features Police Motorcyclist Trainer, PC Roger Peskett, commenting on his route in an urban environment to identify hazards and give advice on filtering.

Road Safety Sergeant Chris Appleby said: “We have identified three high risk groups of motorcyclists. These are leisure riders, commuters, and young scooter riders. Our priority still remains with leisure riders using high powered motorcycles on rural roads; however there is an emerging risk for commuter riders or urban motorcyclists as they choose bikes as a preferred travelling option.

“We’ve therefore created a short video for safe urban riding from a police motorcycle trainer view and highlighted what hazards riders need to be aware of and how to reduce the risks associated with riding in urban areas.”

Source: Motorbike Times

Watch Guy Martin Take on David Coulthard at Silverstone

Yes, bike versus car comparisons are pretty boring and stupid – both machines have their advantages and disadvantages on the track that we’ve known about forever and a day. And yet, there’s always something special about seeing anything go up against a Formula 1 car – especially one from the V8 era. It’s hardly a fair fight, especially when it’s only a slightly worked BMW S 1000 RR against a multi-million dollar machine, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

This event is part of an episode of Speed on the UK’s Channel 4 and features host Guy Martin with David Coulthard.  On first first glance the pair seem like polar opposites – Martin is as usual happy, jovial and difficult to understand while the Scottish Coulthard is dry and more reserved – but they’re both top racers who never quite really made it to the pinnacle of their respective fields. They are both however wonderful brand ambassadors and it’s always great so see them in their element.

The comparison as is par for the course with these things pretty convoluted – the S 1000 RR only had to complete three laps while the F1 car has to do four. And while you can probably still guess the outcome with that handicap, it’s nevertheless impressive to see a fairly stock motorcycle beat an F1 car off the line convincingly.

The circuit comparison is above but if you’re in the UK, you can watch the whole episode here.

KTM Confirms new Parallel Twin Platform on the Way

KTM has published its annual financial report today for the 2015 year, and among the various bits of financial information (which shows that KTM is in a very healthy position) is some minor news on upcoming product releases for what it describes as a ‘revolutionary 2-cylinder engine design’.

We know that at a minimum, this new parallel twin will feature in the upcoming 800 Duke which has been spotted testing at various times over the past few months. KTM states that this new platform will ‘make a substantial contribution toward opening up new market segments’. That might possibly mean that we’ll see more than one new bike featuring the new engine – such as both smaller and larger displacement bikes.

Also in the report was confirmation that the wonderful Husqvarna Svartpilen and Vitpilen concepts are heading into production – though that was pretty much a given anyway. Unfortunately, they’re still some time off and won’t be on the market until 2017. Hopefully we’ll see production versions at the end of the year at least at the various motorcycle shows.

The report further elaborates that, “The upcoming segment-redefining Vitpilen and Svartpilen production models will set Husqvarna Motorcycles on a blazing trajectory to become Europe’s third-largest motorcycle producer – with the aim of doing so by 2020”.

Victory Octane vs Indian Scout vs Harley-Davidson Sportster Comparison

Just announced a few weeks ago, the Victory Octane looks set to capture a new generation of cruiser riders in America. It will be Victory’s most powerful, fastest and lightest bike yet – all the while being the cheapest, too. And while the Victory Octane does have many similarities to the Indian Scout, its real target is Harley Davidson and their Sportster 1200.

Harley-Davidson has come under increasing pressure from Polaris and their two brands, the resurrected Indian Motorcycles and their home grown brand, Victory. The reborn Indian has been a huge success for Polaris with the Indian Scout receiving glowing reviews and selling well, too. It’s for this reason we thought we’d take a look at the just released Victory Octane to see how it compares to its stablemate, as well as the highly popular and long established Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200.

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Choosing what bike to compare the Scout and Octane to was in itself a challenge. HD’s range is so wide with so much choice within each line that it’s hard to really narrow it down. And while the Sportster approaches the game quite differently with its air-cooled twin valve donk as opposed to the liquid cooled engine found in the Victory and Indian, all three bikes are designed to be gateway motorcycles to their respective brands.

But even then, the Sportser range offers six different choices of model to choose from and it is definitely one of the biggest advantages that Harley-Davidson offers – choice. Yes, Both Indian Motorcycles and Victory offer a large range of factory equipment and accessories to customize your bike, but no one does range and choice in the motorcycle world like Harley-Davidson. And even once you’ve decided on which of the six Sportster models to go with, the accessories (both factory and aftermarket) available to buy are unmatched. For the purposes of this comparison, we’ve chosen the Sporster 1200 Custom which from an ergonomics and general feel perspective seems to best match the two other bikes we’re looking at here best.

Engine

Both the Victory Octane and the Indian Scout use the same basic engine – and it’s a good one. There’s no sluggishness here which you can sometimes find in HD motors as the engine in both the Octane and Scout provides strong pulling power while remaining flexible across pretty much the entire rev range.

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The Octane’s engine is a 1,179cc V-twin, slightly larger than the Scout. Other differences include its own camshafts, a 2mm larger bore as well as redesigned cylinder head and engine cover castings. Those translate into subtle rather than earth-shattering differences between the two although you would have to consider the Octane as feeling more sporty. The Octane produces 104 horsepower, the Scout slightly less at 100. The Sporster has a rather sad by comparison 62 horses..

The Indian Scout is no slouch compared to the Octane and will hit the metric ton in a shade under 5 seconds. Not sportsbike quick by a long shot but it’s over half a second faster than the Sporster. But that’s not the only negative when it comes to the Sporter’s performance when compared to the other two machines here. The Sportster just feels sluggish down low and to really get things moving you need to keep the engine spinning in the top to mid-range. That then provides it’s own problems as the already noticeable vibrations become even more worse.

There’s just no getting around the fact that despite having a slight displacement advantage, the Sporster has a rather anemic motor and is completely outclassed by both the Octane and Scout and out of the two choices between the Octane and Scout, the newer Octane just edges out its brother.

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Handling

The front end feel of the Sportster is just too soft and squishy. Front end dive even under moderate braking is more than should be acceptable on a modern bike. The rear too leaves much to be desired and bounces and moves around enough that it doesn’t provide a great deal of confidence, especially when the road gets a few more corners. Most of these issues would be solved by the use of better quality springs – something you’d expect from a not inexpensive bike.

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In comparison, the Scout feels far more capable and it doesn’t sacrifice any comfort to do so. Both the front and rear suspension work very well together and provide a near perfect compromise between handling and a plush ride. There’s also far more options when it comes to suspension adjustment and despite sitting lower to the ground than the HD, actually has better corner clearance.

The Octane takes it up another notch again, although it’s still far from a sportsbike. That’s probably more to do with the ergonomics rather than the componentry of the bike though as both the peg and bar positions are slightly more aggressive than either the Sportser or Scout. As far as cruisers go in fact, the Octane is right up there among the most sporty we’ve come across and in fact many traditional cruiser riders would probably struggle to scrape the pegs or exhaust cans on it unless they really tried. It does feel a little harsher than the Scout though which in our opinion is a perfect blend of comfort and handling for a cruiser.

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Brakes

All three bikes provide fairly mediocre performance in terms of braking. All run with single discs both front and rear and it’s especially poor of the Octane not to run a twin disc setup at the front given it’s the fastest of all three bikes here – in fact it gets to the 60mph mark nearly a second quicker than the Sportser and a few tenths than the Scout. American cruiser riders have become accustomed to just single discs up front, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go about it.

Worst of all, the Octane doesn’t even provide ABS as an option – a ridiculous proposition for a brand new bike in the year 2016. The Scout’s brakes feel slightly better than offered by the Sportster and that’s probably due to the fact that the Harley weighs a tremendous 587 lb – nearly 30 pounds more than the Scout and nearly 40 more than the Octane.

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Customizing

It goes without saying that a big part of the cruiser scene is based around customizing and it is where Harley-Davidson rules supreme. Given their time at the top of the market, HD not only has huge amounts of official customizing options, but the third party market is also massive. That’s not to say that you can’t customize your Scout or Octane, it’s just that your options may be more limited than what is available on the Sportster.

Model Year 2016 New Model Photography

That is especially true for the Octane – at least at this stage. Your only customizing kit for now will be what Victory has available. Aftermarket options will no doubt eventuate should the Octane prove a popular model – just like they have for the Scout – but for now it’s comparatively slim pickings if compared to HD.

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Value

Both on paper and in the real world, the Sportster 1200 Custom just doesn’t offer the same value as either bike from Polaris. Starting at $10,899 in the US (but that’s before any options that commonly apply to Harley’s), it is $400 more than the Victory Octane. It is cheaper than the Indian Scout by $400 itself, but for that saving you are getting a bike with an engine, suspension, brakes and potentially reliability that is inferior to both the Octane and the Scout – sometimes by a large margin.

For us, the Victory Octane is the winner here. At $800 cheaper than the Scout but sharing many of the same components, it’s clear that Polaris is positioning this bike to capture new and young riders who otherwise might be consider the Street 500.

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Overall

In the end, it will probably come down to personal preference whether you fork out the extra money for the Scout which is a more traditional cruiser (both in looks and style) or the Octane which is designed for cruiser riders wanting to release their inner hooligan just a bit more.

The Scout probably comes out as the better bike than the Octane – but only just. It feels just slightly more refined than its new sibling which is perhaps trying to be a bit too raw in some respects – most notably in the handling department. That and the lack of ABS as even an option sees us tilt our head ever so slightly towards the Scout.

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MV Agusta Announces Restructure in Face of Financial Concerns

So it turns out those rumours in the Italian press last month regarding MV Agusta being unable to repay up to €40 million of debt to creditors were at least partially true. Today, MV Agusta has announced a large corporate restructure in order to satisfy the concerns of those creditors and to hopefully turn the company around. The fact that it even got to this stage is alarming, however.

Keep in mind that Mercedes bought a 25% stake in MV Agusta at the end of 2014 – less than two years ago. It seems since then, MV has gone on a debt binge to expand the company rapidly – they just seemed to forget that they would have to repay the interest on that money at some stage in the future. It’s not the first time an Italian company has all the skills to create brilliant motorcycles but perhaps not the financial nous needed to keep the lights on permanently.

The press release below is fairly light on detail and was probably released more to stave of further rumours and keep things positive. Another part of those rumours was that Mercedes would buy out MV Agusta in full – and they may well end up having to in order to keep their original 25% investment safe.

Varese, 22 March 2016 – The MV Agusta brand, and the family heritage which has reestablished its presence internationally, is based on the values of passion, motivation, perfection and ambition. These values have led the company to close 2015 with a turnover of 100 million euro together with an increase of 30% over the previous year.

Our bikes have become the undisputed icons demonstrated with a 30% sales growth rate compared to a 12% market growth. To create improved visibility, content and the greatest potential possible in emerging markets, we have invested more than 15% of the annual turnover in Research & Development, to enter new segments and ensure undisputed excellence in terms of quality and performance standards that fans expect from this
brand.

Without this continual innovation, investment and entrepreneurial passion, the Made in Italy, of which MV Agusta represents the “upper-premium” segment in the two-wheeler market, would not exist. In recent months it has been reported through the press the news regarding the necessary financial needs in MV Agusta to sustain this organic growth.

MV Agusta has decided to hold its ground together with the employees and its creditors by means a composition with creditors proceeding to request continuity that will allow the company to be able to restructure and generate positive growth returns for its stakeholders.

MV Agusta is a company with tremendous potential, as demonstrated by the trend of the last five years, with a growth from 30 to 100 millions of turnover, in the unique unmistakable nature of its products and especially in its reinforced Italian identity. We are currently a company that is continually growing, boasting a strong order book for 2016 and a backorder generated by new models which marks an increase of 42% over the previous year, as well as improved sales of +36% for March 2015.

With the active involvement of all its employees and a reinforced management structure, MV Agusta has already identified the strategy aimed at consolidating and strengthening corporate values, as well as the protection of the company’s stakeholders. We are confident that – overcoming the current situation of financial liquidity – our company will recover and achieve economic results that satisfy the expectations of our employees and our creditors.