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Not to bore you, but I have to say some things about motorcycles. (1 Viewer)

Jack Briggs

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Though for different reasons from my absence here at HTF, I've been away from the world of two-wheeled adventure for some time. However, I have been drawn back to it due to the simple reason found in an old MC adage: Once a motorcyclist, always a motorcyclist.

When I first moved to California in 1987, one of my goals was to write for the motorcycle magazines. At the time I had a brand-new Honda CBR1000F Hurricane, an overweight but fast machine that certainly drew attention. And within a year, Rider magazine's then editor took a liking to my work samples and gave me some assignments. Soon, I was riding the magazine's test bikes and producing reports (my first road test being of a Harley-Davidson Springer Softail). I was exposed to many a machine, and life was good.

Decades since then, I have had to turn my attention away from the world of motorcycling, for various and sundry reasons. But the call of two wheels is difficult to resist. As a result, I have taken a look at what the current motorcycle press (what's left of it, at least) says is noteworthy.

Some impressions:

* The so-called "gentlemen's agreement" to limit top speeds -- In the 1990s, Suzuki released a machine that turned the automotive world around, the GSX1300 Hyabusa. It reached a then-stunning top speed of 194 mph. As a result, Kawasaki threatened that its upcoming ZX12 would exceed 200 mph (at this time, exotic supercars still weren't reaching that speed). European governments reacted with horror, warning that they would prevent machines that fast from being sold there. This caused BMW and the Japanese "BIg Four" to agree to limit the top speeds of any of their bikes to a "mere" 186 mph. This agreement held for some time, but seems to have loosened up. Ducati's V4S Panigale has reached 191.3 mph. Yet high-power motorcycles still are not running at 200 mph or better. This is frustrating, given that at least ten machines out there, if the throttle governors were removed and the bikes were geared properly, could easily exceed 200 mph. Now, even one of the American "muscle cars" can reach 200 mph. It's time for motorcycle makers to move faster.

* There's a new category of machine called "Adventure Bikes" -- When you clear the air and look carefully at these motorcycles, one thing becomes apparent: They are nothing but larger-displacement versions of what we have always called "dual-purpose" motorcycles -- and that's it. Instead of being only, say 250cc to 500cc, today's "adventure" bikes have displacements exceeding 750cc. Fine and dandy. But one thing remains certain: These bikes still are spending most of their lives on the pavement. Very few of their riders truly are adventurous enough to take to the rough.

* Some great brands have returned in newfound glory -- This was starting to happen when I was still involved in the sport. Triumph, of course, had been reborn and now that manufacturer offers a full line of interesting road bikes, including one with the largest-displacement engine on a streetbike, the 2,500cc Rocket III. And then there is Indian Motorcycle: Polaris Industries bought the brand in the aughts and has restored it to magnificent glory. Harley-Davidson has noticed and is reacting. But Indian, however, is offering modern technology (see the Scout, the FTR 1200, and the SOHC Challenger V-Twins). Bravo!

* Ever hear of "baggers"? This is a "new" class of streetbike, and all it is is a machine that has stock saddlebags. That's it. So what? (Ah, it's called "marketing." Hmm, I see.)

* On the dark side, however, is a lurking four-wheeled menace called "distracted driving" -- Seems like people simply cannot put down their smartphones and, as a result, are killing others while they drive. Motorcyclists beware. Already, when it comes to car/bike collisions, automobile drivers are guilty by a large margin. It is only getting worse with smartphones.

* Gone are the days of the really, really small streetbike -- You will not, in the U.S., see 100cc to 200cc streetbikes any longer. They are long gone. Which is a shame, because those little machines were great for newbies as learning bikes. Their low prices also helped. Today, though, a "small" streetbike rarely comes in anything smaller than 300cc. Too bad.

Well, at any rate, I had to get all this off my chest. So thank you, and happy motoring. (And stay safe.)
 
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questrider

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Though for different reasons from my absence here at HTF, I've been away from the world of two-wheeled adventure for some time. However, I have been drawn back to it due to the simple reason found in an old MC adage: Once a motorcyclist, always a motorcyclist.

When I first moved to California in 1987, one of my goals was to write for the motorcycle magazines. At the time I had a brand-new Honda CBR1000F Hurricane, an overweight but fast machine that certainly drew attention. And within a year, Rider magazine's then editor took a liking to my work samples and gave me some assignments. Soon, I was riding the magazine's test bikes and producing reports (my first road test being of a Harley-Davidson Springer Softail). I was exposed to many a machine, and life was good.

Decades since then, I have had to turn my attention away from the world of motorcycling, for various and sundry reasons. But the call of two wheels is difficult to resist.

That is very cool that you got in on the motorcycle journalism heyday. I'm sure it was very cool getting to test ride new bikes!

I came to motorcycling late in life when I was in my mid-30s in 2003. I called it my "pre-midlife crisis." All my life I'd always wanted a motorcycle but by that time I had rationalized that it was too dangerous and probably shouldn't have one. I was not nor am I a thrill-seeker (in fact, I have been chided all my life for being too contemplative and safe) but I always used to joke that the only reason I didn't own a motorcycle was because I'd kill myself. Not from being wreckless, mind you, just that it is a murder machine and I thought the odds were too high of suffering a grave injury or death.

Because of some personal events at the time I decided to throw all caution to the wind and just do it. So I did the research and jumped in immediately with a touring bike. Started taking trips and getting the feel for the machine. Many miles later after looking down gravel roads that disappeared over the horizon and wondering "where does that go?" too many times along with feeling like I was folded up like a lawnchair on the touring bike I traded it in for a taller Enduro dual-purpose bike and rode nearly 30,000 miles from sea to shining sea.

Then some other personal events occurred and I stopped riding around 2012. I never had an accident (knock on pavement, irony intended) and didn't become anything more than a standard rider never doing any track riding or rugged off-road stuff. I still have the bike and ride it to work when the car is in the shop but I never just take it out on a weekend anymore. I do think of taking another trip often. Still, the reconciliation of it being a dangerous activity with grave consequences in the blink of an eye seeps in deeper and deeper the more mileage one accumulates towards moratlity.

Maybe this summer...


As a result, I have taken a look at what the current motorcycle press (what's left of it, at least) says is noteworthy.

Some impressions:

* The so-called "gentlemen's agreement" to limit top speeds -- In the 1990s, Suzuki released a machine that turned the automotive world around, the GSX1300 Hyabusa. It reached a then-stunning top speed of 194 mph. As a result, Kawasaki threatened that its upcoming ZX12 would exceed 200 mph (at this time, exotic supercars still weren't reaching that speed). European governments reacted with horror, warning that they would prevent machines that fast from being sold there. This caused BMW and the Japanese "BIg Four" to agree to limit the top speeds of any of their bikes to a "mere" 186 mph. This agreement held for some time, but seems to have loosened up. Ducati's V4S Panigale has reached 191.3 mph. Yet high-power motorcycles still are not running at 200 mph or better. This is frustrating, given that at least ten machines out there, if the throttle governors were removed and the bikes were geared properly, could easily exceed 200 mph. Now, even one of the American "muscle cars" can reach 200 mph. It's time for motorcycle makers to move faster.

Since I came to motorcycling late I never had any interest in the racing side of it. And I think a lot of the bikes they sell as street bikes are racing bikes that perhaps should stay on the track and the general public—young men in sunglasses, shorts, and flip-flops particularly—shouldn't ride on the street. But personal responsibility reigns and I just hope everyone who buys one understands that it's an extremely powerful machine with lots of torque.


* There's a new category of machine called "Adventure Bikes" -- When you clear the air and look carefully at these motorcycles, one thing becomes apparent: They are nothing but larger-displacement versions of what we have always called "dual-purpose" motorcycles -- and that's it. Instead of being only, say 250cc to 500cc, today's "adventure" bikes have displacements exceeding 750cc. Fine and dandy. But one thing remains certain: These bikes still are spending most of their lives on the pavement. Very few of their riders truly are adventurous enough to take to the rough.

This is the kind of bike I have. I got it to indulge in the aforementioned gravel and fire road curiosity but never intended to literally take it off-road. All these years I've dreamed of getting one of those 250 or 450 KTMs though. They look fun!


* Some great brands have returned in newfound glory -- This was starting to happen when I was still involved in the sport. Triumph, of course, had been reborn and now that manufacturer offers a full line of interesting road bikes, including one with the largest-displacement engine on a streetbike, the 2,500cc Rocket III. And then there is Indian Motorcycle: Polaris Industries bought the brand in the aughts and has restored it to magnificent glory. Harley-Davidson has noticed and is reacting. But Indian, however, is offering modern technology (see the Scout, the FTR 1200, and the SOHC Challenger V-Twins). Bravo!

* Ever hear of "baggers"? This is a "new" class of streetbike, and all it is is a machine that has stock saddlebags. That's it. So what? (Ah, it's called "marketing." Hmm, I see.)

I didn't ride long enough nor had the journalism angle to be interested in other brands. The bike was a means to an end for me to satisfy my wanderlust. Although I did have a slight attraction to some of those Ducati sport bikes if for nothing else because the sound they make is wonderful! And for some reason I have never had any interest in Harley Davidson's as their aesthetics have never done anything for me. I do love the aesthetics of those old motorcycles like the one Peter O'Toole rides in Lawrence of Arabia though!


* On the dark side, however, is a lurking four-wheeled menace called "distracted driving" -- Seems like people simply cannot put down their smartphones and, as a result, are killing others while they drive. Motorcyclists beware. Already, when it comes to car/bike collisions, automobile drivers are guilty by a large margin. It is only getting worse with smartphones.

The advent of the smartphone has most assuredly contributed to my increasing subconscious fear of motorcycles since I stopped riding. As I mentioned above I do refer to them as "murder machines" and modern distracted drivers in cages scare me to death when I consider taking a trip on mine again.


* Gone are the days of the really, really small streetbike -- You will not, in the U.S., see 100cc to 200cc streetbikes any longer. They are long gone. Which is a shame, because those little machines were great for newbies as learning bikes. Their low prices also helped. Today, though, a "small" streetbike rarely comes in anything smaller than 300cc. Too bad.

I'm not sure I would even know what a 100-200cc streetbike would look like. Even in the time I started riding most streetbikes were already 600cc or more.


Well, at any rate, I had to get all this off my chest. So thank you, and happy motoring. (And stay safe.)

Keep the shiny side up and the rubber side down! :thumbs-up-smiley: :)
 

Jack Briggs

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Brian: The most popular motor vehicle in the world is the Honda Super Cub, a 125cc SOHC Single with a step-through frame -- but classified as a motorcycle. My first bike, Way Back When, was a Honda S-90. The Sport 90 boasted a 90cc Single. On such small machines one can learn to corner properly -- and pick up the bike should it fall over. JB
 

Walter Kittel

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My Suzuki GS850 (which I spoke of in another thread), it was a beast to pick up whenever it went over. Checking the wiki page for the bike it lists a wet weight of 273 kilos which is roughly 600 pounds. Sounds about right. Still remember dropping it on some slippery asphalt in the middle of the summer at a stop sign. The asphalt was sweating oil and I lost my footing and it was all I could do to get it back up on such a slippery surface.

- Walter.
 

Jack Briggs

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You know, picking up a downed streetbike is not easy. Imagine having to upright a fallen Gold Wing. Fully gassed, that machine weighs somewhere north of 900 pounds. And then, of course, if you're a fanatical perfectionist, there is the cost of replacing any scratched parts.

One thing motorcycling is not: cheap.
 

John Dirk

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Yet high-power motorcycles still are not running at 200 mph or better. This is frustrating, given that at least ten machines out there, if the throttle governors were removed and the bikes were geared properly, could easily exceed 200 mph. Now, even one of the American "muscle cars" can reach 200 mph. It's time for motorcycle makers to move faster.

Great thread but I hope you're kidding with the above comment. Bikes like that are fine for the track but [IMO] have no place on public streets and highways, at least not in the US.

Like @questrider I started riding later in life. In my case at age 43 but I make up for it by riding as much as I can.

My first bike was a 500 CC Kawi Vulcan that would struggle to reach 70 MPH.

I used that as my training bike and then stepped up to a V Star [Yamaha] 950 cruiser. This one could easily maintain speeds up to maybe 90 MPH without too much vibration.

After a year or so on that one I wanted hard bags and a little more of a sport feel so I bought my first Yamaha FJR which was one of the 2009 electronic clutch models. This was a cool bike but the electronic clutch made for some weirdness such as not being able to shift into neutral from a dead stop and a couple of others things.

My current bike is a 2015 FJR which I bought myself for Christmas that year. It has well over 30K miles today.
 

John Dirk

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You know, picking up a downed streetbike is not easy. Imagine having to upright a fallen Gold Wing. Fully gassed, that machine weighs somewhere north of 900 pounds. And then, of course, if you're a fanatical perfectionist, there is the cost of replacing any scratched parts.

One thing motorcycling is not: cheap.

Yep. Mine weighs about 630 pounds wet. I've had to depend on the kindness [and back] of more than one stranger over the years. Riding and Home Theater are both very expensive hobbies and I still have a travel budget to maintain. :)
 

Jack Briggs

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No, John, I am not kidding. Part of the fun in having such power in any machine you own -- two- or four-wheeled -- is simply knowing you have it, whether you ever travel that fast or not.

Currently, there are about twenty automobiles available in the U.S. that can "do" 200 mph. Admittedly, they are mostly mega--expensive exotic vehicles from Italy and England and France (home of the Bugatti). (If you can afford the car, you do not have to worry about the cost of insurance.)

Meanwhile, where are the 200 mph motorcycles? They are there, but they have throttle governors. The machines I think otherwise could reach 200 mph? They would be ...

* Suzuki GSX-R1000
GSX1300 Hyabusa

* Kawasaki ZX-14
ZX-10R
H2
H2R
Z H2

* Honda CBR1000RR-R

* Yamaha YZF-R1

* Ducati V4S
V4R

* Aprilia RSV4 Mille

* and an MV Agusta or two similarly powered

* BMW S1000RR

Now, have I left anybody out?
 

John Dirk

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No, John, I am not kidding. Part of the fun in having such power in any machine you own -- two- or four-wheeled -- is simply knowing you have it, whether you ever travel that fast or not.

I hear you and fundamentally agree but when you combine that sort of performance with the [often lesser performing] brains of some folks it can get pretty dangerous for them as well as others in their vicinity. The physics of a motorcycle are also different but, really, what difference does it make. Everything I'm pointing out is equally true with the current Busa and ZX-14 among others, right.
 

Walter Kittel

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Oh man, all this talks about bikes has got me itching to ride again. That's crazy talk at my age, though. :)

- Walter.
 

Jack Briggs

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Walter, the 300cc Honda would be an excellent machine for an older guy. Me? I would prefer the Indian FTR 1200 or one of the Triumph vertical twins. Those machines suit my age and rusty ergonomics.

And as for high-performance machines and their potential to reach 200 mph (sans throttle governors), of course, John, some (many?) riders lack the intellectual prowess to ride those bikes intelligently. Any effort to explore top speeds should be done in specially designated areas.

Of interest, on Youtube, I saw a video of a race between a Kawasaki H2R and a Bugatti Cheron. The winner? The Kawasaki. It simply was able to accelerate more quickly than the supercar and handle the turns more adroitly.

Those two machines, the bike and the car, are capable of devastating top speeds. The H2R has been clocked at 249 mph, while the Cheron can reach 260 mph with the throttle governor. Without it, the car can reach 305 mph.

In comparison, Formula 1 race cars are tuned to run about 230 mph (same with Formula 1 race bikes).

My, how different today's world is. (When I first got into bikes in 1965, the fastest machine around was the Triumph Bonneville, which could reach, in the best cases, about 120 mph.)
 

John Dirk

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It is. Trust me.

I could still handle a smaller bike for around town motoring, like a Honda CBR300R (which I think looks pretty nice) but my back would disagree. :eek:

My Mazda MX-5 is as close to motorcycling as I am likely to get these days.

- Walter.
Sorry to hear that, Walter. I understand though and was just trying to offer lighthearted encouragement. That day will eventually come for us all as it's not a good idea to overstay ones welcome riding motorcycles. I used to ride to Florida, S. Carolina and Alabama for various shows and events. Nowadays I'm starting to reduce these longer trips and just stick to the back roads here in Georgia for the most part.
 

Walter Kittel

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Sorry to hear that, Walter. I understand though and was just trying to offer lighthearted encouragement. That day will eventually come for us all as it's not a good idea to overstay ones welcome riding motorcycles. I used to ride to Florida, S. Carolina and Alabama for various shows and events. Nowadays I'm starting to reduce these longer trips and just stick to the back roads here in Georgia for the most part.

Yeah, I know. No worries. :)

I'm not ready for the 'home' just yet, but i just know that my body wouldn't handle any extended riding very well these days.

It is fun thinking about bikes again; certainly brings back a lot of fun memories. In terms of speed, about as fast as I ever went on the streets was around 100 to 110 mph on a Honda VF750F Interceptor. Had to put my feet on the back pegs to brace myself against the force of the air resistance which was trying to pull me off of the bars. There was no one on the road for miles, so I was probably only endangering myself. The Interceptor was a fun bike to ride. Handled like a dream and was incredibly responsive to rider input, but it was uncomfortable to ride for more than one or two hours at a time.

- Walter.
 

Jack Briggs

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Actually, the VF750F compares favorably with many modern machines from a handling standpoint. Performance-wise, the bike broke ground: It was the first 750cc machine to achieve an astonishing 11.45-sec. quarter-mile time (Cycle magazine did this), and it had a top speed somewhere in the 140s. Amazing bike.

Today, there are so few sporting 750s -- only the GSX-R750 that I can think of.

A good smaller sportbike to consider is Ducati's "entry level" Panigale, the V2. Styling-wise, it's right up there with the V4S Panigale.
 

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