I know I’ve written many times that the advancement in motorcycle tire technology in the past decade is staggering, but the statement is – and continues to be – quite true. Case-in-point, I’ve spent the last couple of months putting about 2,500 miles on my 2019 KTM 790 Duke shod with a set of Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV tires. In those miles I’ve used the bike as I normally would: short urban rides, occasional freeway jaunts, frequent weekend canyon rides, and even a track day. As such, I feel I can now adequately address the characteristics, usability, and longevity of these tires. Essentially, I used these tires for the tasks for which they were designed. (Unfortunately, as is typical in Southern California during the summer, I did not get to conduct any wet weather testing.)What’s New
Replacement to popular Diablo Rosso IIIDerived from World Superbike spec tire experienceQuicker steeringBetter in the wetTwo rear tire constructions for smaller and larger bikes
Internal and exterior improvements
Pirelli’s Diablo Rosso IV tires are the update to the already popular (and formidable on the street) Pirelli Diablo Rosso IIIs. Naturally, we’d expect them to be designed to surpass the III’s capabilities in one or more key areas. With the target market being supersport, naked, and crossover motorcycles destined for sporting road use, the primary thrusts of the update were directed towards the street, not the track. Pirelli’s stated goal for the Rosso IV was to deliver “the best performance on road use, on wet and dry road.” Pirelli describes the Rosso IV’s ideal owner as being user of sporting machinery who love to attack winding roads. These are primarily weekend riders who prefer high-performance jaunts and medium-distance sport touring in all kinds of weather but still want a tire capable of sticking when the roads get twisty.
The Pirelli Diablo Rosso IV in its natural environment.
For improved grip, Pirelli’s engineers adjusted the front tire’s profile and construction. Starting with the profile and using information gathered from its time as the official tire of World Superbike, the engineers created a multi-radius front carcass, giving the tread center a sharper profile to make turn-in quicker. Once leaned over, the curve of the profile becomes more gradual to increase the contact patch for improved traction. When combined with the new tread pattern, while retaining the signature flash pattern, Pirelli has optimized the placement of the grooves, reducing the void/fill ratio by 30% compared to the Rosso III. Once the tire is leaned over more than 35°, it essentially becomes a slick since lean angles of that degree do not occur in the rain. Because the front tire does most of the water-displacement work in the rain, the rear tire actually has the void/fill ratio reduced without compromising wet weather grip, which Pirelli claims improves both wear characteristics and high-speed stability.
The construction of the Rosso IV underwent some major revisions, too. If we stick to the exterior for now, the tread compounds of both the front and rear were updated. The front is divided into three sections, with the center section covering a full 50% of the tread width. Since this section of the tire is subjected to everything from the wear of extended straight up and down riding to the high forces generated by braking, a wear-resistant, full-silica compound adds to the tire’s durability in the areas where street motorcycles spend most of their time. Once leaned over more than 35°, a softer compound takes over. This full-silica compound offers higher grip and quick warm up, even at lower temperatures.
When Suzuki introduced its new GSX-S1000 earlier this year, we figured it was a matter of time before we saw a faired version to replace the GSX-S1000F. Well, Suzuki didn’t disappoint us, announcing a new 2022 GSX-S1000GT sport-tourer.
The GT will be a welcome option for those looking for a sport-touring motorcycle that looks like a sportbike instead of the recent trend of pseudo-adventure bike styling. The GSX-S1000GT’s closest competitor would probably be the Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX. U.S. pricing remains to be determined, but in the U.K., Suzuki priced the GSX-S1000GT at £11,599, which is close to the Ninja’s £11,299 price (£11,499 for the premium paint options). That means we should expect something close to the Ninja 1000SX’s $12,599 price tag, or a bit more if you opt for the GSX-S1000GT+ version that comes with color-matched luggage.
Suzuki used an iterative approach to improve aerodynamics through wind tunnel testing in developing the GT’s fairing, windscreen and mirrors. The layered fairing diverts airflow around the rider while a larger lower fork bracket cover (pictured below) was added to deflect wind that would have otherwise whirled up in front of the TFT display. The windscreen was designed to maximize wind protection while remaining relatively compact. The mirrors were also designed to cut through the air while also reducing the force of air striking the rider’s knuckles.
1. It’s been too long since you’ve attended an epic event.
MotoGP fans are passionate. It’s a great time to mix it up with other fans, some of whom may be buddies you haven’t seen for years. So grab some friends and head to the MotoGP race at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), as it is an amazing venue to watch racing. Plus, there’s plenty of room to spread out.
2. COTA is one of the best motorsports venues in the world.
Completed less than a decade ago, COTA is the newest, most modern and best-designed circuit in the world. In addition to MotoGP, it has also played host to Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar and so much more.
The track itself is as challenging and amazing as racing gets. It packs 20 turns into its 3.41-mile length, boasts a three-quarter-mile long straight and includes a tricky, dizzying turn one, which climbs and descends a 133-foot hill. Gulp.
After a lengthy pandemic-caused delay, the 25th James Bond film, “No Time to Die” is finally going to premiere in a matter of weeks (Oct. 8 in the U.S.). Triumph was a partner for the film, supplying a Scrambler 1200 and a Tiger 900 for key action sequences in the movie.
Last year, despite the film getting delayed, Triumph announced a limited edition Scrambler 1200 Bond Edition which quickly sold out. Big budget productions, especially high-profile ones like a new Bond film, typically have a lot of moving parts, with various marketing and commercial tie-in deals each moving on their own pace. With the bikes already in production and, at the time, no clear timeline for the film’s premiere, Triumph made the decision to release the Bond Edition Scrambler last May. The decision seemed justified as all 30 units allotted to the U.S. were quickly claimed.
For anyone who was interested but missed out, you’ll get another chance, as Triumph announced another Bond Edition model, this time centered around the Tiger 900 Rally Pro.
The Tiger 900 Bond Edition will be limited to 250 units, worldwide, with each bike carrying a unique number on its billet machined handlebar clamp and an accompanying signed certificate of authenticity.
The definition of a sport-touring motorcycle has gotten a bit blurred lately with adventure-touring bikes encroaching on the space. A good bike in either genre agrees that you need to be able to pound out miles and do it in relative comfort. The difference comes when one decides to pursue sport over adventure.
This is where the 2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT separates itself from the A-T pack. Designed exclusively with pavement riding in mind, Yamaha has no intentions for the Tracer 9 GT to travel down a dirt road (at least not intentionally). The most obvious difference comes from the 17-inch front wheel. Adventure bikes wear big front wheel/tire combos to help navigate dirt, rocks, and other obstacles you simply don’t find on the street. The tradeoff, however, is slightly less capable canyon carving abilities, and comparatively speaking this is where the Tracer 9 GT shines.
Clearly, there’s more to the Yamaha’s capabilities on pavement than just a wheel choice. In fact, the entire bike is new from the ground up, with the biggest difference compared to its Tracer 900 predecessor being a bigger, 890cc Triple, compared to the old bike’s 847cc. It’s housed in an all-new frame with the new swingarm mounted inside the frame spars compared to outside them on the Tracer 900. This may not sound like much, but the bigger, more powerful engine, combined with the extra rigidity provided by the new frame/swingarm combo, gives a well-balanced and capable handler of a motorcycle in Tracer 9 GT form.
The 2021 Texas IMS Outdoors Show will take over Fort Worth, Texas Oct. 1-3 and it is an experience not to be missed by motorcycle fans of all stripes.
So why should you attend the Texas IMS Outdoors Show? Glad you asked. This show is loaded with things to do and awesome bikes to see. So much so that we thought it best to give you our list of 10 reasons for making your way to Forth Worth to take everything in.
1. Demo rides!
Remember when you could walk into a motorcycle dealer and test ride every single model in the shop without anyone asking for you to buy a bike? Yeah, we don’t either. But we do know where you can actually do that—at the Texas IMS Outdoors Show at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth October 1-3. Get your sweaty mitts on the stunning Harley-Davidson Pan America or the low-slung, menacing Sportster S—the most powerful Sporty ever built!
It’s not just Harley at the party—most major brands are representing in the Lone Star state. Livewire is offering its all-electric One, Indian will let you ride its FTR1200, Kawasaki’s army of Ninjas await your tush, Yamaha is proudly showing its much-anticipated R7, Zero has its svelte SR/F and SR/S, Royal Enfield has its lineup of back-to-the future retro classics, and Triumph, (not to be outdone by its old rival) is showing off its hottest models.
I actually didn’t mind being seen on this “custom cruiser” ten years ago. Yamaha’s answer to the Honda Fury had the chopper look and sound, but offset triple clamps and a revvable, oversquare 1312cc V-twin with four-valve heads made it also a functional, fun-to-ride motorcycle. America must’ve agreed; a quick run through Cycle Trader finds prices about twice what I would’ve expected for a ten-year old Japanese cruiser. Or maybe Yamaha’s marketing ploy worked? It’s a STAR, man!
A solid stryke for Star!
According to Star Motorcycles, it remains king of the hill among metric cruisers (might as well lump Victory in there) in America. Since 2007 the Yamaha sub-brand has maintained its position as “the second most recommended brand,” coming in behind you know who (Harley).Contributing to Star’s success is its big-bore custom-style Raider, winner of our Mainstream Chopper Shootout. The turnkey custom theme seems a safe bet these days.Industry data provided by Star shows that 73% of the mid-size cruiser segment consists of custom-style cruisers. We only have to look to Honda’s surprisingly popular Fury as some hard evidence to support this data.
In light of the custom domination, and building on the groundwork laid by the Raider, Star saw a perfect opportunity to fill a gap in its mid-size cruiser lineup by creating the Stryker.
This newest Star is powered by an 80-cubic-inch liquid-cooled, four-valve-head, SOHC, fuel-injected 60-degree V-Twin. With a few exceptions, like a larger airbox, new ECU and reconfigured EFI, the Stryker’s lump is largely the same as the Twin that motivates the V Star 1300.
Motorcycle.com’s Naked Summer continues in 2021 with our third naked bike test of the year. We started things off with the Middleweight Nakedbike Shootout, and followed that with the not-quite-heavyweight set of nakeds. But instead of moving up in size to the big boys in the field, we’ve decided to pivot in the opposite direction and bring you a matchup of the little naked bikes in the category – and by “matchup” we mean a comparison of each bike’s specs.
What are the motorcycles in question, you ask? This time around, we’ve brought together the BMW G310R, Husqvarna Svartpilen 401, Kawasaki Z400, KTM 390 Duke, and Yamaha MT-03. With a combined total of 189 horsepower, this quintet of motorcycles may not knock your socks off, but despite their low, entry-level prices, they all offer tech we might have considered premium a decade or two ago.
Don’t worry, we’ll bring you our usual comparison test shortly. For now, let’s whet the appetite by getting nerdy about what each bike offers… on paper.
When you’re dealing with small displacement motorcycles, you’re typically dealing with new or newer riders with not a lot of cash. All five of these motorcycles slot in somewhere between $4599 (Yamaha) to $5699 (KTM). In between, we have the Kawasaki ($4999), BMW ($5045 for the base model), and Husqvarna ($5299).
2021 Honda CRF125FEditor Score: 80.0%
This year has been full of firsts for this father. My oldest left home to start her adult life on a university campus, and my youngest told me that she wanted to learn how to ride motorcycles. Guess which of those I’m going to write about here? For a 13-year-old, there is really only one option for piloting their own bike, and seemingly within minutes of her statement, I had her signed up for an MSF-certified off-road training with proper riding gear ordered and on the way. I didn’t want to miss the window of interest. The class run at the Colton Rider Education Center sealed the deal from the moment she first eased out the clutch successfully. The bike she was learning on? A Honda CRF125F.
Honda, when designing the diminutive CRF, was smart enough to build two versions – because kids come in a variety of sizes. The CRF125F my daughter first threw a leg over was the smaller version, with a 17-inch front wheel and a 14-inch rear. The CRF125F Big Wheel features a 19-inch front hoop and a 16-inch rear for a more full-sized riding experience. Aside from an almost 2-inch higher seat (the standard CRF has a 29.1-inch seat, the Big Wheel 30.9 in.) and component variants to accommodate the bigger rims, the two bikes are functionally the same.Fast Facts
Basic, bullet-proof – and fuel-injected –125cc air-cooled engineTwo sizes of wheels on essentially the same platform for different-sized kids!MSRP: $3,249 (if you can find one)
A forgiving engine
As far as I’m concerned, the two most important features of the little CRF are the easy-to-use clutch and the friendly, reliable engine. For the littlest of the littles, a semi-automatic transmission is ideal for starting to ride, but for a 13 year old, learning to use the clutch properly from the get go was way up my list of skills I wanted my daughter to master. The perky little air-cooled 125cc Single features a SOHC and two valves. It also has fuel injection and an electric starter. Even better, it is tuned for bottom-end torque, making it easier for new riders with their inconsistent clutch hands to get under way without stalling. The short gearing also plays a supporting role here.
The little engine that could. The CRF125F’s engine delivers tame power that new riders need.
We’ve known for some time that Kawasaki is working on a hybrid motorcycle, but a recently published patent suggests it may be combined another Kawasaki technology, a supercharger. More specifically, the patent describes an electrically-powered supercharger, with a motor capable of driving both the motorcycle and the supercharger’s impeller.
While notable on its own, the concepts in a patent don’t always manifest in an actual product, but a trademark application Kawasaki filed earlier this year suggests that a hybrid motorcycle with an electric supercharger may have already moved past the conceptual stage. On March 29, Kawasaki filed to trademark “E-BOOST” in Japan for a number of uses, including for hybrid and electric motorcycles. While we initially assumed the “boost” referred to an electrically assisted hybrid mode, we now believe it may in fact refer to the electric supercharger.
Kawasaki’s had supercharged motorcycles in its lineup for several years now, with the H2, H2R, H2 SX and Z H2, but they all use a compressor driven by the engine’s crankshaft via a chain. Instead of using a mechanical connection to the engine, an electric supercharger uses an electric motor to spin the impeller. In theory, an electric supercharger would work instantaneously, avoiding any delay in waiting for the engine to get up to speed.
The downside is an electric supercharger requires more parts, with a motor and a battery large enough to provide a supercharged boost as needed. For a gas-powered motorcycle, that’s a lot of added weight for what may be a marginal gain. With a hybrid motorcycle, however, those parts are already in place. If a hybrid is going to be heavier, Kawasaki figures, it may as well give those additional parts a secondary use.
The patent describes the different modes a vehicle could use a combination of a gas-powered engine, electric motor and a supercharger. The motor has an output shaft that is directly connected to the supercharger. The output shaft is also connected to the transmission’s input shaft via a one-way clutch. The clutch controls whether the motor can drive the input shaft, with the motorcycle working in either an electric or hybrid electric mode.
Triumph did a lot more than just slap a partial fairing on the RS. While it’s still not a fully-faired sportbike (hence why it’s still a Speed Triple and not a Daytona), the RR is a much more track-focused machine than the RS. And that’s saying something.
For the RR, Triumph added clip-on handlebars that are five inches lower and two inches further forward than on the RS. The footpegs were also moved up and slightly back, creating a more aggressive riding position than the fully-naked model. The seat is 32.5 inches from the ground, which is 0.2 inches lower than the Speed Triple RR’s saddle.
Triumph also upgraded the suspension to an Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 electronically-adjustable semi-active suspension system. Both the front and rear suspension are fully adjustable, even while riding, and the semi-autonomous feature continuously adjusts compression and rebound damping to match riding style, speed and acceleration.
Tomorrow, we embark on a great crusade: the 2021 Lightweight Nakedbike comparison. So it’s probably an excellent time to look back 10 years ago, to when Pete, Trizzle, and Duke compared, lamented, proffered, proclaimed and opined re: the three most powerful naked streetfighters of the day. Let us harken…
Honda CB1000R vs. Kawasaki Z1000 vs. Triumph Speed Triple
[There’s a cool, wheelie-filled video I couldn’t paste in here, but you can see it if you click here.]
Powered by a superbike inline-Four, the wasp-waisted, futuristic-looking CB has the goods to potentially cause lots of trouble for both the Speed and the Z.Triumph’s revised-for-2011 Speed Triple is ready to reassert itself against the returning Kawasaki Z1000 – a bike we deemed last year as our preferred hooligan mount. But the brutish Z won’t have it so easy this year since the new-to-America Honda CB1000R is entered in the naked-bike fray.
Three bikes worth getting excited about. The Kawasaki Z1000 fends off an attack from the resurgent Triumph Speed Triple while an all-new CB1000R from Honda is the wild card in our 2011 Literbike Streetfighter Shootout.
Three-way slugfest of power!
The Kawasaki KLR has been kicking around since its first 600cc iteration in 1984. Despite being a strong seller for Team Green and developing a cult following over the decades, Kawasaki announced in 2018 that the old workhorse was being put out to pasture. Likely due to tightening emissions standards and other modern regulations, the KLR was put to rest briefly, only to be resurrected for the 2022 model year. With more than a handful of updates and welcome changes, the KLR 650 is back like it never left and will still occupy the simple, affordable adventure niche it had dug out for itself over the years.
The big story with the new KLR 650 is fuel injection. The 100mm by 83mm bore and stroke as well as the low 9.8:1 compression ratio remain unchanged, but where there was once a Keihin carburetor, a Keihin throttle body now sits with a 10-hole injector linked up to an O2 sensor to keep the KLR running and starting smoothly regardless of elevation or temperature.
The 2022 model also receives a larger front rotor, longer swingarm, beefier axles, redesigned fuel tank (with the same 6.1-gallon capacity), increased carrying capacity from its one-piece frame, and a new LCD display that unfortunately offers less information than the last dash set up. Some transmission parts have been upgraded for durability, though the cam chain tensioner or Doohickey, as the KLR connoisseur calls it, remains unchanged from the previous model (meaning you may want a tighter spring in there). That all adds up to about 24 pounds more heft from the 2018 model as well.
If this was any normal year, Moto Guzzi would be holding a big party this week to celebrate its 100th birthday. Because of the pandemic, however, the Piaggio-owned brand had to postpone its Moto Guzzi World Days 2021 Festival to 2022, celebrating its centennial on what would actually be its 101st year.
Nevertheless, Moto Guzzi proceeded to announce what would have been the highlight of the festival: a new Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello model and plans to build a new futuristic factory on its historic home in Mandello del Lario, Italy.
Moto Guzzi V100 Mandello
Full details on the V100 Mandello will be revealed in November at EICMA, but Moto Guzzi has given a glimpse of what to expect, including its most innovative feature: active aerodynamics. As shown at around the 31-second mark of the video below, the windscreen moves on its own from lowered to raised positions. Meanwhile, two panels on the sides of the fuel tank flare outwards, like the eagle on Moto Guzzi’s logo spreading its wings, altering the airflow around the half fairing.
The V-Twin engine appears to be new, with an unfamiliar cylinder head design and the header pipes exiting from the downward-facing sides of the cylinders instead of the front like on other Moto Guzzi models. We don’t know any performance figures or even a displacement, though we can guess from the V100 name it will be around 1000cc.
Like other Moto Guzzi models, the V100 Mandello uses a shaft drive, but it is unique in having the cardan shaft inside a single-sided swingarm.
If you’re curious what technology you might expect to see on motorcycles of the future, look no further than the cars of today. From anti-lock braking systems to traction control and variable valve timing, nearly all the tech we’re ogling over on today’s motorcycles originated on cars 20 years ago. Or more. By now the trickle-down effect of that technology is such that even your basic commuter car already incorporates it.
Another example of this trickle-down tech we’re starting to see on today’s motorcycles is the CANBUS system. We give a lot of attention to tech when it makes the motorcycle faster or safer, but there’s not much fanfare over the electronic infrastructure some OEMs are using to allow all of these subsystems to work together. Finally, electronic engineers, your moment to shine is now. Here’s a quick look at CANBUS and how it’s used on motorcycles.
Before we begin, you should know this is by no means an exhaustive or comprehensive history and outline of the CANBUS network, but rather a quick overview of what it is and why you should care.
The story starts in the early 1980s when Bosch developed the protocols for the CANBUS network. A decade later, the auto industry started to adopt it as the standard for cars going forward. Fast forward again to the early 2000s and BMW are credited with being the first manufacturer to incorporate the tech on two wheels.
But that still begs the question: What is CANBUS anyway?