2016 Triumph Tiger Explorer Spotted

Things don’t stay still for very long in the motorcycle world, especially in the booming adventure segment which seems to be as hotly contested as sportsbikes were before the economic downturn due to the GFC. These spy shots courtesy of Oliepeil, show that while the updated Triumph Tiger Explorer isn’t receiving a radical visual makeover, there’s still a fair bit going on.

The biggest change we can see from the photos is that it would appear Triumph is testing the new Tiger Explorer with active rear suspension. Also visible in the photos are new wheels, new front fork and also radially mounted Brembo brakes instead of the current non-radially mounted units from Nissin. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Triumph were seriously considering Boschs’s cornering ABS system that’s already being used in adventure models by both BMW Motorrad and KTM.

There are some, albeit minor changes to the bodywork of the bike, but given that the release of this bike probably won’t be until next year it’s highly likely that this test mule isn’t a final representation of the upgraded Tiger Explorer from an aesthetics point of view.

Again, from what can be seen from the spy photos, both the engine and exhaust appear unchanged though unlike it’s physical appearance it’s unlikely that Triumph will want (or need) to make many changes to the 1215 cc triple – a unique feature among the competition.

 

 

Final Details of MotoAmerica KTM RC390 Cup Released

AMA and MotoAmerica, in conjunction with KTM Motosports have finally released the details for the brand new national junior competition that will run alongside many of the MotoAmerica races for 2015. There aren’t too many surprises in the details as it appears that the MotoAmerica KTM RC390 Cup will closely mimic the series that’s starting in the UK this year as well.

A couple of major points to look note are that the bikes will not be street legal. No mechanical modifications will be allowed to the bikes and any servicing to the engine will only be permitted by KTM’s trackside partner HMC Racing. The specifications of the series and the bikes are as follows:

  • The RC Cup Series is for riders between the ages of 14 and 22.
  • All participants must hold an AMA Superstock Limited license.
  • The 2015 KTM RC 390 Cup racebikes are designed for competition (not street-legal) and have been prepared by KTM with more than 40 PowerParts and other enhancements to increase performance.
  • Features include:
    • Fully adjustable WP Racing Fork
    • Fully adjustable WP Racing Rear Shock with high/low speed compression and rebound damping, adjustable preload and adjustable shock length
    • Titanium Akrapovic Exhaust
    • Racing Windshield, Tail Fairing and Belly Pan
    • RC8 R-style Throttle Assembly
    • CNC-machined Racing Foldable Levers
    • CNC-machined Racing Rear Sets
  • Each KTM RC Cup racebike has been dyno-tested and tuned to 38 hp. To maintain competitive parity, the engine is sealed and may only be serviced by KTM’s trackside partner HMC Racing.
  • Street-legal RC 390s will not qualify for participation in the MotoAmerica KTM RC Cup Series. They will, however, be allowed in regional club events.
  • KTM HMC will provide the following services: a semi-truck offering hospitality for participants; technicians; and parts for purchase via a trackside service program.
  • KTM HMC technicians will provide a safety check prior to each race and help MotoAmerica regulate validity of all machines to maintain parity throughout the series.
  • KTM HMC Superbike racer Chris Fillmore will attend each event and offer guidance to participants.
  • KTM will offer a contingency platform with the following payout structure:
    • 1st – $500
    • 2nd – $400
    • 3rd – $300
    • 4th – $200
    • 5th – $100
  • RC Cup racebikes will be priced at $9,999. Pre-ordering runs from January 19 to February 15, with delivery to dealers mid-April.
  • To order a KTM RC Cup racebike, a rider must visit a participating KTM dealership, provide a refundable $1,000 deposit and a copy of his or her AMA Road Racing Superstock Limited license or license application.
  • KTM RC Cup racebikes will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The cost for a machine is $9,999 so while it’s not as cheap as it could be (or perhaps many were hoping for), it needs to be remembered that this will be a national series for young riders looking to get a start in the sport and motorsport has never been a cheap pursuit.

That said, we’re wondering perhaps if it would have been better to follow Australia’s example with their FXNinja 300 series that began last year. Using a street legal Ninja 300 as the basis for the series, participants are allowed limited modifications (no change to engines, replacement shocks allowed, minor changes to forks allowed) which helps keep costs down. As the bikes can be street legal, it’s easy for entrants to find crashed Ninja 300’s written off for insurance purposes and save thousands of dollars on the machine alone.

Also released was the schedule for the KTM RC390 series which is as follows:

May 29-31: Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
June 12-14: Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Ala.
June 26-28: Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele, Utah
July 17-19: Laguna Seca, Monterey, Calif. (World Superbike support race; one race only)
Sept. 11-13: New Jersey Motorsports Park, Millville, N.J.

For those keen on entering, bikes will be available in limited quantities for pre-order from January 19th to February 15th and will be delivered to dealers in mid-April. To request a KTM RC Cup Racebike, a rider will need to visit a participating KTM dealership, provide a refundable $1,000 deposit and provide a copy of their AMA Road Racing Superstock Limited license or license application.

 

BMW Motorrad Working on Electric Motorcycle

A new patent reveals that BMW Motorrad is beginning to look at the idea of an electric motorcycle but with a bit of a twist. The news follows hot on the heals of Polaris purchasing Brammo’s electric motorcycle business. This is by no mean’s BMW’s first foray into battery powered two wheelers. In fact, the BMW C Evolution was the first electric scooter from any of the major motorcycle manufacturers. The trouble for a company like BMW Motorrad however is that they’ve got a lot of history with the design of their machines – the flat-twin boxer configuration has been used by the company since 1932.

Uncovered by AMCN, the patent shows that BMW is thinking about using a twin electric motor design, with each motor protruding horizontally either side of the bike much like a boxer twin. They’re connected to a central transmission unit where power is transferred via a shaft drive to the rear wheel – another typical BMW design element.

BMW Motorrad Working on Electric Motorcycle

While designing a twin electric engine arrangement gives an obvious nod to BMW Motorrad’s traditional gas powered setup, the patent goes on to explain that it provides some practical benefits too.  First of all, it would allow only one motor to function if required (say cruising down the highway or riding down a hill, much like cylinder displacement on some V8’s) which reduces unnecessary friction (and therefore improves electrical efficiency). Secondly, two flat horizontal motors means the center of gravity is lowered.

A patent most certainly does not indicate that BMW is close to releasing an electric powered bike or that it has any plans to do so for many years. But with Polaris making a big move and even the likes of Harley-Davidson going down the electric path, it wouldn’t be surprising to see BMW be one of if not the first major motorcycle manufacturer releasing an electric bike.

 

Honda RC213-VS Hyperbike to go into Production

We hate to say we told you so but, we told you so. A report from Japanese newspaper, The Asashi Shimbun states that Honda has given the go ahead for the MotoGP ‘replica’ to be built at a price tag of ¥20 million, or about $170,000 at today’s exchange rate.

In our article ‘Will Honda Build The Honda RC213V-S And Does Anyone Actually Care?‘ we predicted the price would be about $250,000 (and it still might be once it reaches the United States), making the RC213V-S a completely pointless machine. At $170,000 it’s still pointless and still won’t be a true MotoGP replica unless Honda is happy to lose money hand over fist on a bike which will have limited marketing value (an actual MotoGP bike will set you back around $1.2 million).

According to the article, the Honda RC213V-S will go on sale later this year and minor changes will be made to accommodate regulations in various markets including de-tuning the engine (!?!?) and obvious additions like indicators and license plate holders.

We’d still much rather see Honda actually update some of their models such as the CBR600RR (barely changed since 2009) and the Fireblade (also not overhauled since 2008). In our opinion, the RC213V-S is a cynical marketing exercise done purely in response to the huge success Yamaha and Kawasaki have had with publicizing their latest halo models (R1 and H2/H2R).

 

Motus MST Nearing Release

The Motus MST, a completely American made touring motorcycle is nearing release after years of development. If you haven’t heard of the Motus MST, it’s been in the works for many years to become the Duke Nukem Forever of the motorcycle world. After the initial concepts and ideas were formed when the founders got together in 2008, a prototype was built in 2011 and toured around America to show prospective buyers.

Fast forward to today and the Motus MST (and higher specification MST-R) should be hitting dealerships within the next month to bring an American spin on the motorcycle touring segment which has for so long been the dominion of the Europeans.

While Motus doesn’t have the same history to it as Harley-Davidson or Indian Motorcycles, or even whatever company Erik Buell associates his name with, the Motus MST is about as American as you can get. The most impressive thing that Motus have done is with the engine. No engine (American or overseas) suited what Motus was trying to achieve so they built their own – a pushrod powered V4. Think of it like have a V8 you’d get in a Corvette. It sounds unlike any motorcycle out too – listen to a few of the samples here and here.

The result is a 1650 cc engine producing 165 hp @ 7,600 rpm and 123 ft-lb @ 5,000 rpm. Bore and stroke is 88 mm x 67.80 mm with a compression ratio of 11.5:1. The torque curve is one of the flatest we’ve ever seen. At 2,000 rpm, torque is a shade over 80 ft-lb until hitting peak at 5,000 rpm, but it remains above 100 ft-lb all the way to redline at just over 8,000 rpm.

The Motus MST, a completely American made touring motorcycle is nearing release after years of development. If you haven't heard of the Motus MST, it's been in the works for many years to become the Duke Nukem Forever of motorcycles. After initial concepts and ideas when the founders got together in 2008, a prototype was built in 2011 and toured around America to show prospective buyers.  Fastforward to today and the Motus MST (and higher specficiation MST-R) should be hitting dealerships within the next month to bring an American spin on the motorcycle touring segment which has for so long been the dominion of the Europeans.  While Motus doesn't have the same history to it as Harley-Davidson or Indian Motorcycles, or even whatever company Erik Buell associates his name with, the Motus MST is about as American as you can get. The most impressive thing that Motus have done is with the engine. No engine (American or overseas) suited what Motus was trying to achieve to they built their own a - pushrod powered V4. Think of it like have a V8 you'd get in a Corvette. It sounds unlike any motorcycle out too - listen to a few of the samples here and here.  The result is a 1650cc engine with 165 hp @ 7,600 rpm and 123 ft-lb @ 5,000 rpm. Bore and Stroke is 88 mm x 67.80 mm with a compression ratio of 11.5:1. The torque curve is one of the flatest we've ever seen. At 2,000 rpm, torque is a shade over 80 ft-lb until hitting peak at 5,000 rpm, but it remains above 100 ft-lb all the way to redline at just over 8,000 rpm.        When we began our pursuit of building the ultimate American sport-touring motorcycle, we quickly realized the ideal engine didn’t exist. So we built it.The rest of the componentry on the bike appears to be pretty top notch, too. It features a 6-speed, dual overdrive gearbox, Öhlins NIX30 adjustable forks and a progressive adjustable mono-shock. The MST comes standard with Brembo calipers and OZ forged aluminum wheels. No ABS, traction control or other electronic aids.

Also standard is a centrestand (hooray!), adjustable windscreen, adjustable handlebars and cruise control. Optional items include a removeable top case, heated seat, heated grips and different spec screen and seats.

So far, so good. But like the EBR 1190 RX and SX, the Motus MTS suffers from the same issue of being built in America by Americans and that is the cost of production. Economics dictate that low volume vehicles such as these that are built in America are just going to be more expensive than mass market machines built in South East Asia. The Motus MTS will retail for $30,975.

Compare that to the BMW K1600GTL. While the Motus MTS has a big advantage over the BMW when it comes to the sheer uniqueness and character of it’s engine, the inline 6 cylinder German machine costs only $23,995 (and comes with ABS as standard). That’s a massive price difference and one that most couldn’t ignore.

But if you’re looking at purchasing a machine like the Motus MTS, price probably isn’t really the main factor. It’s owning something unique and rare and also something both American designed and made.

 

BMW Motorrad Posts Record Year

The success stories continue with BMW Motorrad announcing today that sales were up 7.2% in 2014 to a record 123,495 (115,215 for 2013). This makes it the fourth year in a row that BMW Motorrad has had a record year.

The best market for Motorrad was in its home market of Germany which accounted for around 20% of total sales, followed by the United States, France, Italy and Brazil. It was a big year for Motorrad with five new models released including the highly acclaimed (and already highly successful) R nineT which has already become the fourth most successful model for the German company.

The adventure orientated R 1200 GS and R 1200 GS Adventure made up the bulk of Motorrad’s sales for 2014 , selling a combined 40,622 units or nearly a third of all of Motorrad motorcycles delivered. The R 1200 RT sold 12,140, the R nineT 8,488 and combined the S 1000 R and S 1000 RR accounted for over 10,000 sales.

2015 is looking just as good as 2014 for BMW, with a heavily updated S 1000 RR, plus the brand new R 1200 R, R 1200 RS and S 1000 XR, as well as a brand new F 800 R.

You can read the full press release here.

 

The Dance Of The Highside

Highsides. They’re violent, they’re unexpected and they’re spectacular to witness but they’re not something any rider wants to ever experience firsthand. So what causes a motorcycle highside? Can you do anything prevent them? And is there anything you can do to stop a motorcycle highside if you feel it happening?

We’ll get a little bit technical in this article, so if you prefer moving pictures instead of big words, check out the video we created below, called “Dance of the Highside” which shows some of the most spectacular examples of highsides we could find.

In simple terms, a highside occurs when the rear tire loses traction and then regains traction – the rear tire biting and gripping onto the road. Counter intuitively, you’d think that regaining traction would be good but the problem is that in the small fraction of a second between losing traction and then regaining it, the bike has rotated along its axis. When the rear tire regains traction, it causes all sorts of physics to occur – none of it generally very helpful to staying upright.

When this happens, you essentially have two forces working in different directions. The front wheel is pointed one way and the rear wheel another. The one that wins is the rear wheel, where all the power is being delivered.

The Dance Of The Highside

Here’s a slightly more technical explanation courtesy of Wikipedia:

When going through a curve on a motorcycle, centripetal force (added to the other lateral forces such as acceleration or deceleration) is transferred from the road to the motorcycle through the contact patch, and is directed at a right angle to the path of travel. If the net force is greater than the static friction coefficient of the tire multiplied by the normal force of the motorcycle through the tire, the tire will skid outwards from the direction of the curve. Once a tire slips in a curve, it will move outwards under the motorcycle.

Below is a perfect example. These series of photos was captured of a rider at turn 9 at Chuckwalla (courtesy Triumph675.net). As you can see in the animation below, the rear tire loses grip and rotates to the left of front wheel which is pointing in a different direction. As soon as the rear wheel grips the road again, the forces at play throw the rider and cause the motorcycle to take a tumble.

So what are the actual causes of a highside? A highside can occur from any of the following:

  • locking the rear wheel through excessive braking
  • applying too much throttle when exiting a corner
  • oversteering the bike into the turn by shifting weight to the front wheel and using balance to drift the rear wheel sideways
  • exceeding the lateral grip through too much speed (although, this is more likely to result in a lowsider), or too much lean
  • an unexpected change in the surface friction (water, oil, dust, gravel, etc)
  • reducing the friction on the rear tire by scraping the bodywork of the motorcycle on the road surface

Of the causes above, the only one that you as a rider really have a hope of saving is when you lock the rear wheel. Most of you probably remember in your motorcycle licensing/traning course that if you lock the front wheels, get off the brakes as soon as possible but if you lock the rear wheel, keep that rear wheel locked until you come to a stop (or to a fairly low speed). And that’s because you don’t want to let the rear tire grip again as doing so can cause a highside.

But what about the massive highsides that we showed in the video above? Those weren’t caused by rear wheel locks but usually by a loss of traction from too much speed in the turns. What are you as a rider able to do to save yourself from such a highside?

The only cure is prevention – don’t ever let the rear wheel lose traction because once it does, it’s nearly impossible to come back from. It should be evidence enough that the best of the best in Moto GP and WSBK can’t stop highsides but in case you think you’re better than them, take a look at the animated gif below. The time between when the tire loses grip and regains grip is probably 0.10 to 0.20 seconds. As a human being you just can’t recreate quick enough to do anything about it, especially at the speeds and forces at play.

The only piece of advice that we can really give you is that if you have superhuman reflexes and believe you can save a highside, remember the age old phrase – when in doubt, gas it. By intentionally getting on the throttle you’ll hopefully continue to break traction at the rear wheel and maybe, just maybe you’ll save it (or at least lowside instead of highside).

The good news is that highsides are much less frequent than they used to be with modern technology – both on the track and the road. In MotoGP (especially the premier class), despite the sheer amount of horsepower being transferred to the rear wheel and the incredible lean angles acheived, highsides are actually fairly rare. Due to electronic aids like traction control, slip control and so forth, highsides only occur in extreme circumstances.

On the road, highsides generally don’t occur too often anyway as you won’t be (at least you shouldn’t be) hitting speeds in corners where your rear wheel loses grip. With ABS and traction control becoming increasinlgly common, you’ll have to be pretty unlucky (dirt, gravel, oil or some other substance on the road) or maybe just a little bit stupid (the roads aren’t a racetrack for good reason).

 

Another Record Year for Ducati

In further signs that the motorcycle industry is well on it’s way to recovery, Ducati has announced that it’s broken it’s sales records for the third straight year with 45,100 motorcycles being sold worldwide. This was in large part due to the success of the beatiful 899 Panigale and the new Monster 1200 and 821.

On top of having record sales for three years in a row, it’s also the fifth consecutive year of sales growth by the Italian marque. Total sales were up 2 per cent in 2014. Sales in the Monster line of bikes rose by 31%, with 16,409 new bikes sold. The superbike family, thanks to the widespread introduction of the 899 Panigale had a sales increase of over 12 per cent with a total of 9,788 bikes sold in 2014.

Total sales in the USA was 8,804 – more than any other country by a large margin. Sales in Europe totaled 19,743 (actually down 3 per cent) and in their home country of Italy, sales were actually down a significant 14 per cent. The UK had a large increase of 16 per cent which shows sales were broadly in line with the economic situation in Europe.Asia was also a success story with Thailand experiencing massive growth of 22 per cent (selling a total of 3,057 motorcycles, more than that of the UK), Australian sales were up 13 per cent (2,132) and China won the race with sales nearly doubled.

In Europe sales slowed a little (-3% with 19,743 bikes), mostly due to challenging conditions on several markets. However, while sales in Italy fell short of those attained the previous year (-14% with 4,284 bikes), other European countries were almost stable, with the UK actually experiencing significant double-digit growth (+16% with 2,742 bikes).

There’s little doubt that Ducati will have a record year in 2015 and it’s likely to smash the previous year with the release of the Ducati Scrambler. Ducati has been tight lipped about sales expectations of the retro model but we’ve heard that they expect to sell more Scrambler’s than their entire Monster range combined – upwards of around 20,000.Given the hype surrounding the machine and the near universal praise for it in reviews, that figure doesn’t sound at all unlikely.