AGV Announces the AGVisor, an LCD Visor Tinting System

Finding a way to shield your eyes from the strong glare of the sun hasn’t always been a simple process. The simplest no doubt is wearing sunglasses, but they don’t always fit well inside a helmet (or they constantly need adjusting while riding, meaning you need to flip the visor up to do so). Some helmets include a flip down visor, but there has been some concern (without any factual evidence, mind you) that making room for a flip down visor comprises helmet safety. Of course, you could always carry both a tinted and clear visor, but that’s probably the worst solution of all.

Bell introduced a nice solution by way of photo-chromatic visors that automatically adjusts the tint to lighting conditions – although when you go in and out of tunnels, it probably adjusts a little too slowly for our liking. But AGV have just announced a very cool (albeit expensive) solution titled AGVisor.

Debuted just a few days ago at SWISS-MOTO (Switzerland’s annual motorcycle expo), AGV says that their system is fast, efficient and doesn’t compromise helmet safety. As you can see in the video below, the function works instantaneously by pressing a button on the left side of the helmet. It’s basically the same principle behind Bell’s photo-chromatic system, but instead of adjusting by sunlight, it changes by electric current.

When powered on in tinted mode, the battery will last for around 12 hours. In standby mode, total battery life before charging is 55 hours. However, AGV have included a mechanical backup that allows you to change the visor tint from dark to clear if the battery runs flat.

It’s no doubt a very cool and clever system, but we’re not sold on any piece of technology that requires regular charging in order to work as it’s just another thing you need to keep on top of. Then there’s the price. It’s been announced that the visors will cost €200 each, or about $223. Considering a Bell photo-chromatic visor is about $120 and a cheap pair of sunglasses costs $20, that’s a huge amount of money for essentially the same thing (although with a quicker tinting action).

Initially, the AGVisor will be made available for the GT Veloce helmet, with other models such as the Corsa Pista and GP to follow.

 

Motorcycle Crash Pushes Femur Into Rider’s Scrotum (NSFW)

Reading that headline will no doubt make every human beings with XY chromsones to become tearful. Look at the pictures below though and you’ll probably turn into a sobbing mess. This accident is so horrible that even I, a horribly saracstic and insensitive human being can’t make light of this.

Here’s the report from the The New England Journal of Medicine:

A 33-year-old man was admitted to the emergency department after a motorcycle accident. Clinical examination of the intubated patient showed a hard, swollen, bluish scrotum and an externally rotated and slightly shortened left leg. Computed tomography (CT) of the pelvis revealed dislocation of the left hip and a three-part trochanteric fracture of the proximal left femur (Panel A, white arrow), with displacement of the femoral head and neck fragment into the scrotum (Panels A and B, yellow arrow). There were also fractures of the left anterior pelvic ring and acetabulum (Panels A and B, blue arrow) and open fractures of the right forearm and hand.

The femoral head and neck fragment was retrieved by means of a direct scrotal incision (Panel C), and the fractures were treated with open reduction and internal fixation (Panel D). The patient had no urologic sequelae. After 8 weeks of limited weight-bearing, the patient was able to walk with a cane. There was no evidence of avascular necrosis of the femoral head on the 3-month follow-up CT scan. At 14 months of follow-up, a CT scan showed vital bone structure and still no avascular necrosis of the femoral head, and the patient was able to walk freely without a cane.

Just in case you think gear would have prevented this – highly unlikely. The femur is regarded as the strongest bone in the body. An impact that not only snaps a femur but dislodges it in such a way is an accident that gear really isn’t going to do much about.

Motorcycle Crash Causes Femur to go into Scrotum (NSFW)

Honda CB1100 Scramber, Yes Please

A scrambler type motorcycle derived from the Honda CB1100? Yes, please. We’ve made no secret of our lust for the new the Ducati Scrambler and even more so for the Husqvarna 401 Svartpilen and 401 Vitpilen concepts. But we’d like more of them in various shapes, sizes and capacities.

Alas, this beautiful machine you see below is not a production model from Honda but a build by French dealer CBO. First spotted on Motorbiker, this gorgeous machine takes the rather plain looking Honda roadster into a desirable take on the cafe/retro racer scene. Of course, with the donor bike weighing a hefty 248kg, you’re not likely to be taking this scrambler off road – but 99.99% of Ducati Scramblers will suffer the same fate.

Powered by a 1140cc air-cooled 4-stroke 16-valve DOHC inline-4, the CB1100 has a well deserved reputation as being an extremely reliable and rideable motorcycle.

So, please Honda – make this thing happen.

 

Hero Motorcycles – Watch This Space

There’s a strong possibility that you may never have heard of Hero Motorcycles, an Indian motorcycle company. Perhaps if you’re a fan of Erik Buell Racing you’ll know more about them as they own 49.2% of Buell’s latest venture. But fast forward to five years in the future and we guarantee you’ll be not only know all about Hero Motorcycles, there’s every chance you might own and ride one.

Just to give you some perspective on how big Hero is, in the time period between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014, they sold 6,245,960 motorcycles – that’s tirple the amount of motorcycles than have been sold in the United States for the last six years! Of course, when you’ve got over 50 per cent market share in a country with 1.252 billion people then that’s not so hard to achieve. But Hero Motorcycles aren’t content playing in their own backyard or just expanding into developing nations – they’ve got their gaze firmly set upon the western world.

Glancing through Hero’s current catalog wouldn’t get anyone too excited. Their highest capacity machine is 223cc and the styling of their bikes wouldn’t be considered stylish or modern. But that will change very soon with Hero developing bikes especially targeted at the more mature (and more performance hungry) western markets.

Their first strike will be the Hero HX250R. Looking like a more angular version of the Honda CBR300R, the HX250R represents a massive leap forward for the Indian company. Developed in conjunction with Erik Buell Racing, it features a 249cc single cylinder liquid cooled engine which produces 31PS maximum power and 26Nm peak torque, couple to a six-speed gearbox – performance figures that roughly put in line with the baby Honda.

While it won’t be as quick as either Kawasaki or Yamaha’s entry level level options nor have the reputation for reliability that Honda has, you can be guaranteed the HX250R will be cheaper than the Japanese bikes by a decent margin – a crucial factor at that end of the market.

More interesting however is the Hero Hastur, a liquid-cooled 620cc parallel twin powered naked bike that makes the Kawasaki Z1000 look conservative. While only a concept at this stage, Hero claims it produces 79 bhp, 53 lb-ft of torque with a 0-62 mph time of 3.8 seconds. This would put it firmly in the market that is currently occupied by the likes of the Ninja 650R and Honda CBR650F.

Most exciting about this concept is that it weighs only 160kg – considerably less than those two aforementioned machines. Adding to that the heavy involvement from Buell in designing the Hastur, should this bike make it into production, on paper at least looks like a brilliant machine.

So when is Hero making it to the United States, Britain, Australia and so on? Potentially as early as later this year although 2016 is more likely. By then, Hero may have the Hastur in production which would give them the ability to target both new riders and more seasoned ones looking for something different. And with Buell involved, they could well shake the market up considerably.

All praise our new Indian overlords!

 

Immerse Yourself In the New Yamaha R1M

It’s now just weeks until the first batch of brand new Yamaha R1’s hit the dealerships. If you’ve put down a deposit then good for you because so far the feedback on the machine has been nothing but positive. But if you’re still sitting on the fence (or just really enjoy watching a fast motorcycle go fast) then check out this video from Yamaha.

Taken from onboard a lap at the Sugo circuit in Japan, it’s actually a great demonstration of how technologically advanced the new R1M is. Everything that you see on the video is courtesy of the R1M’s onboard computers. Down the bottom right is a read out that indicates what systems are in use on the bike, including traction, skid control and the quick shifter.

To the left of that is an indication of pitch and roll on the bike and in middle top right is a GPS readout of the track. Owners of the R1M will have access to all this telemetry plus more from the onboard system. Never before has such detail been available on a stock production bike.

It’s been a while since a superbike has excited us this much, but there’s every indication that the new Yamaha R1 and R1M will shift the category forward a great deal. Here’s hoping the competition follows too.

 

Project LiveWire Tour Goes Global

Remember all the buzz and excitement about Harley Davidson’s Project LiveWire when it was first announced? Well, it’s worn off a bit since it first debuted and perhaps even more so since Harley Davidson’s own CEO said it would cost $50,000 and have the range of 50 miles if it were released today.

That said, if you’re still interested in seeing the LiveWire in the metal or even having a ride of it but don’t live in the United States, then we’ve got good news. Harley-Davidson has announced that the Project LiveWire tour is going international with the first stop being at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

Project LiveWire has reset expectations about what a Harley-Davidson motorcycle can be,” said Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer. “The first phase of the Project LiveWire Experience tour provided valuable feedback about the features and experience riders expect from an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle. This year we’re expanding that experience to a global audience to gain even deeper insights from riders to help us shape the future direction of this exciting technology.”

There will be a contest for residents of Europe to have the opportunity to ride the bike at select locations in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The tour will also continue in the United States and journey north into Canada as well.

Call us cynical but so far as we can see, Project LiveWire is more marketing exercise than an actual attempt by Harley-Davidson to bring itself into the 21st century. We’d be happy to be proven wrong though.

For more information, visit the Project LiveWire website.  The full press release is below.

Project LiveWire Tour Goes Global


Riders around the world will have the chance to add their voices to help shape the future of Project LiveWire™, Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle, as the company’s Project LiveWire™ Experience tour expands globally in 2015.

Building on the excitement of Project LiveWire’s debut last year, select consumers in Asia, Europe, Canada, and the United States will have an opportunity to ride and provide feedback on the bike, helping to guide the development of the new motorcycle, beginning this week with events at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.

“Project LiveWire has reset expectations about what a Harley-Davidson motorcycle can be,” said Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer Mark-Hans Richer. “The first phase of the Project LiveWire Experience tour provided valuable feedback about the features and experience riders expect from an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle. This year we’re expanding that experience to a global audience to gain even deeper insights from riders to help us shape the future direction of this exciting technology.”

While not for sale, the Project LiveWire™ motorcycle was specifically designed for the purpose of seeking insight into rider expectations of an electric Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. The Project LiveWire Experience invites customers to test ride and learn more about the story of the motorcycle and provide feedback on their experience. Even those who don’t yet ride will have the opportunity to feel the power of Project LiveWire through the Jumpstart™ demo – a simulated riding experience.

In 2014, more than 15,000 customers provided feedback on Project LiveWire, including more than 6,800 who took demo rides, as part of a 30-stop tour across the United States and at a special consumer event for Latin American customers in Miami. Longer term plans for retail availability of Project LiveWire will be influenced by feedback from riders during the Project Livewire Experience tour.

Highlights of the 2015 tour, which encompasses events in eight countries on three continents, include:

  • Media and invitation-only consumer rides at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit from Feb. 25 to March 4.
  • A contest for riders throughout Europe to enter for a chance to be one of the first 1,000 people to ride Project LiveWire at one of five locations in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands from May to August.
  • A 13-stop tour in the United States and Canada visiting select Harley-Davidson® dealerships and consumer events beginning in April.

“We are led by what our customers tell us matters most,” said Richer. “Because electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly, we are excited to learn more from riders through the Project LiveWire Experience to fully understand the definition of success in this market as the technology continues to evolve.”

An Innovative Approach to Advance the Possibilities of Personal Freedom
Project LiveWire blends the company’s styling heritage with the latest technology to deliver a new expression of the signature Harley-Davidson look, sound and feel. The motorcycle offers a visceral riding experience with exhilarating acceleration and an unmistakable new sound.

Fans can learn more about Project LiveWire, at www.projectlivewire.com. More information about specific dates and locations will be posted on the web site as details become available. Harley-Davidson also invites anyone who is interested in the possibilities of the future to follow and engage with the company on its social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson® motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson’s website at www.h-d.com.

 

The Motorcycle Back Brake Is There For A Reason. Use It!

For many riders, the back brake of their motorcycle is the anatomical equivalent to the appendix. They perform a very minor function overall and if they’re removed you wouldn’t be any worse off. Yet, your back brake is another arrow in your quiver when it comes to reducing your speed as rapidly as possible.

For many, the back brake is used only when travelling at low speed. Think parking your bike at the shopping center carpark or filtering slowly between traffic. Most riders are taught that the rear brake assists the motorcycle with low speed stability and if you remember your training or have been involved with motorcycle gymkhana, you’ll know this is true.

Unfortunately for a lot of riders this is where it ends. Carving through the canyons on a sportsbike – no need for a rear break you hear. Even when coming to an emergency stop in a straight line, there are a huge number of riders who don’t even consider using the rear brake and I have a theory why.

The premise of this theory is located at page 104 of A Twist of the Wrist II. Here’s the quote under the subheading Rear Brake:

The obvious mathematics of the situation are that the front wheel can do 100 percent of the braking and the back at that point just locks up no matter who you are.  Learn to totally rely on the front brake for quick, clean stopping; then, if you still have a use for the rear, go ahead and use it. But realize that the rear brake is the source of a huge number of crashes both on and off the track. I’ll leave the final decision up to you. While it is true for most riders that a motorcycle will come to a full stop quicker with both brakes applied, in racing, you don’t come to a full stop until you’re done.

Now, it’s reasonable to say that what Keith Code was focusing on here was the use of rear brakes at the track where the need of the rear brake is definitely lessened (although not eliminated). Some have taken this passage so close to heart they’ve turned up at track days with the rear brake system removed to save weight!

We would however argue that rear brake lock-ups are a result of poor technique rather than an inherent flaw in motorcycle design. You also have to remember that A Twist of the Wrist II was published over 20 years ago and not only has technology improved so that rear brake locks-ups are less common, they don’t even happen at all on an ABS equipped bike.

Unfortunately, many riders decided to transfer the above quote from the track to the road. They told their mates that you don’t need to use the rear brake on a sportsbike and the wrong information ended up being presented as fact.

The short of it is that using both your front and rear brakes together when coming to a complete stop will reduce your stopping distance. That’s why Honda, BMW Motorrad and other manufacturers offer some bikes (even sportsbike) with a combined braking system – a system whereby pulling the front brake lever activates both the front and rear brakes simultaneously.

We did a test to prove with numbers what the difference in stopping distances are between using only the rear brake, the front brake and both combined. This test was done at a speed of 80 kph, or 50 mph

Motorcycle Back Brakes Are There For A Reason. Use Them!

As you can see, by using both the front and rear brake, stopping distance reduces by around 4 meters or 13 feet. Put another way, a reduction in stopping distance from the front brake alone of over 23 percent. In an emergency situation that’s a fairly significant amount of distance reduced, especially when you consider that 4 meters is the length of a small/medium car.

Like just about every input in motorcycle riding, the key to good use of the back brake is:

  • Do it consistently
  • Do it smoothly

If you never use your back brake, come the moment when you’re hurtling towards a car that’s run a red light, there’s little chance your muscle memory will respond by moving your foot to actuate the rear brake lever. So be consistent – whenever slowing to a complete stop, always use the rear brake.

Smooth application in this instance applies both to the front and rear. If you’re not smooth on the rear brake you’ll lock the rear wheel (even on a bike equipped with ABS you want it to be smooth). Perhaps just as important is the smooth application of the front brakes, especially in higher end motorcycles with massive stopping power – the rear brake will do absolutely nothing to reduce stopping distances if you’ve lifted the rear wheel in the air which will happen if you’re too forceful on the front anchors.

So remember, motorcycle companies install rear brakes for a reason. Use them.

Motorcycle Back Brakes Are There For A Reason. Use Them!

 

News Round-Up: KTM 390 Duke Gets Slipper Clutch, Indian Owned Royal Enfield Outsources to UK

KTM 390 Duke Gets Slipper Clutch for 2015

KTM has quietly updated their 390 Duke for the 2015 model year, most noticeably with the inclusion of a slipper clutch – a feature that brings it in line with Kawasaki’s Ninja 300 and Z300 machines.

In addition to the slipper clutch (which we think could possibly decrease the fun factor in a bike like the 390 Duke which just screams at you to brake traction at the rear) it receives a number of minor tweaks. Best news is that service intervals have increased to 7,500 km (instead of the existing 5,000) which is absolutely brilliant.

LED indicators are now standard and handlebar grips from the RC390 have been brought across. There’s also some extra plastic shrouding around both the front forks and rear shock.

Unfortunately, there’s no indication at this stage from KTM as to whether the slipper clutch will be made available on the RC390. Given that the RC390 is being so heavily promoted and used as a track bike, the decision to install a slipper clutch the Duke ahead of it has got us scratching our heads a bit.

The updated 390 Duke should be arriving in Indian showrooms soon, but no word on when it will make its way around the world.

KTM 390 Duke Road Test Review

 

Royal Enfield set to Open Factor in Britain

Globalization has gone full circle, with formerly British brand Royal Enfield, now an Indian company, planning to open a factory in Leicestershire by the end of 2015. Royal Enfield has made no secret of its plans to become a force globally and this is but the first step in their efforts to do so.

With retro (and retro-looking) motorcycles becoming more and more popular, it’s the perfect time for Royal Enfield to make a worldwide comeback. In a statement from the company’s chief executive, Siddhartha Lal, he said: ‘Royal Enfield continues to grow at a phenomenal pace and this year we have achieved our best ever sales of over 300,000 units. In 2015, we plan to manufacture 450,000 units.

‘With a view to become the leader in the global mid-sized motorcycling, Royal Enfield will build two new technology centers. The larger one will be at a new 4.5 acre property that we have acquired on Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai, and will be operational by Q2 2016; a smaller satellite center is being set up in Leicestershire, UK, and will be operational by the end of 2015.’

Royal Enfield Continental GT