Texas Terror Ben Spies: A Racer On The Rise

Written by Taryn Kukucka, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.comspies_august

Yamaha World Superbike rookie, Ben Spies knows exactly what it takes to win races. His rise to fame and his race results are proving that he has what it takes to race with the best.

Career

  • 26 year old from Texas
  • Began racing when he was 8 years old
  • World Superbike Champion in 2009
  • MotoGP rookie for Yamaha
  • Third-place finish at Silverstone, England
  • Circuit lap record at Losail, Qatar
  • First World Champion for Yamaha World Superbike team
  • Eighth-place finish at the German Grand Prix in Saxony
  • “My goal this year is to be in the top 10.” -Spies

Bike

  • Yamaha
  • 330-pound, 250-horsepower
  • 800cc engine
  • Zero to 100 mph in five seconds

Laguna Seca

  • Motorcycle racing U.S. debut was at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
  • Laguna circuit: 2.238 mile, 11-turns
  • Raced with an injured ankle that happened at the French Grand Prix
  • MotoGP World Standing: 77 points
  • “Move carefully and hold on. One quick move or weight change and you’re going to Mars.”

Lascorz Could Miss Remainder of WSS Season

Written by Dan Evon, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.comwss_lascorz
Joan Lascorz could be out for the rest of the World Supersport season. Lascorz, who was in a three way battle for the title, was involved in a terrible accident during the race at Silverstone this past weekend.Lascorz made contact with Eugene Laverty at the beginning of the race, and went down to the pavement. He was hit by two other bikes, and sent Roberto Tamburini into the barrier.

Tamburini suffered a broken collar bone, while Lascorz suffered four broken ribs, an injured shoulder and finger, and it is reported that he has blood in his lungs.

Lascorz will be in the hospital for at least another week, and his return is still up in the air. Their is no set schedule for his recovery, but most speculate that Lascorz won’t be back on a bike for at least a month.

The next World Supersport event isn’t until September 5th, so Lascorz does have some time to recover. Unfortunately, if he misses a race, he will lose his chance to win the title.

2011 Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra Review

The Ultra gets Ultra-er

By Kevin Duke, Aug. 03, 2010, Photography by Brian J. Nelson and Tom Riles, Courtesy of Motorcycle.com


Harley-Davidson recently announced its four-bike CVO lineup for the 2011 model year. Returning to the Custom Vehicle Operations stable is the range-topping Ultra Classic Electra Glide ($36,499), the popular Street Glide ($32,499), and the versatile Softail Convertible ($29,599) – all with new additions and options to set them apart from the 2010 iterations. We’ll bring you riding impressions of that trio later, but we’ll first start with the newest CVO, the Road Glide Ultra, a stylish and exclusive luxo-touring rig.


It’s a tough economy out there for a lot of us, causing a precipitous drop in motorcycle sales over the past two years. However, those with deep pockets and shrewd investments always seem to have disposable income for a new toy in their garage.

Well-heeled riders such as these don’t choke when they are told the $35,999 MSRP of the 2011 CVO Road Glide Ultra. If you’re trying to eke out another 500 miles from your old KLR650’s tires, perhaps you’re not the customer the CVO group is targeting.

The Road Glide Ultra is the latest addition to Harley-Davidson’s high-end CVO line. This Rio Red and Black Ember with Quartzite graphics package is one of three color schemes to choose from.The Road Glide Ultra is the latest addition to Harley-Davidson’s high-end CVO line. This Rio Red and Black Ember with Quartzite graphics package is one of three color schemes to choose from.

According to Harley, the average age of a CVO customer is 54-55, right in their prime earning years. Harley research reveals that CVO customers buy $3,500 of accessories on average, roughly double that of the average H-D OE customer despite the CVOs already being fantastically tricked out.

Like last year’s CVO lineup, all 2011 CVOs are set apart from their lesser brethren by the implementation of the Screamin’ Eagle Twin-Cam 110-cubic-inch motor, hot-rodded from the standard H-D TC96 and even the TC103 in the 2010 Harley Electra Glide Ultra Limited we tested last year. The TC103 is also standard equipment in the OE 2011 Road Glide Ultra we tested last week, and also as part of an optional “Power Pak” upgrade package on any 2011 OE Harley.

If there’s a motorcycle cockpit more visually impressive than the Road Glide Ultra’s, we’ve never seen it. If there’s a motorcycle cockpit more visually impressive than the Road Glide Ultra’s, we’ve never seen it.

If you can’t convince a passenger to ride with you on a seat like this, you may have deep personality issues. If you can’t convince a passenger to ride with you on a seat like this, you may have deep personality issues.

This year marks the first time there has been an Ultra version of the Road Glide, and Harley describes it as “a super-premium touring motorcycle.” As such, the RGU is gussied up with every luxury-touring amenity Harley can think of. And, like all CVO’s, it makes for an impressive sight, with rich custom paint, deep and lustrous chrome, and wonderful finish quality.

It’s a fact that if you’ve got stacks of cash, you’re more likely to have a grateful companion along for the ride. CVO engineers obviously have learned that if momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy, because the RGU’s pillion seat is a sumptuous place to plant a pair of cheeks.

Both rider and passenger get electric heating, leather inserts and matching adjustable backrests. The reshaped saddle also has another trick up its sleeve, having a hammock-style suspension for the rider and a spring-board suspension for the pillion under its thick padding. Passengers will also appreciate the air-adjustable lumbar support that can be positioned in four areas of height.

Behind all that queenly luxury is a Deluxe Tour Pak top-box with interior lighting, an internal 12-volt power port, and color-matched LED brake/tail lamps. Its lock (and those for the saddlebags and ignition) is remotely operable – all at the push of a button on the bike’s key fob. Carry-out luggage liners ease the walk up a B&B’s steps, and an Air Wing luggage rack provides a place to strap on a trinket from the antique store.

Along with the typical RG cockpit features, the CVO version adds cruise control, four BOOM! speakers driven by a Harmon/Kardon 40-watt-per-channel amp, and an 8GB iPod nano that automatically charges itself when stored in its saddlebag pouch. The audio system (including XM radio and intercom) offers an iPod interface via the audio system’s screen and is controlled by handlebar switches. The Glide’s chrome 1-inch handlebar is slightly reshaped for extra comfort, and most wiring is routed internally. A tri-phase charging system generates 650 watts, enough to power all the trick convenience gizmos.

The Road Glide Ultra has a vast array of accoutrements to make its riders as comfy and entertained as possible. Heated seats and grips, dual backrests, cruise control, audio system and ABS only touch on a few of its features.The Road Glide Ultra has a vast array of accoutrements to make its riders as comfy and entertained as possible. Heated seats and grips, dual backrests, cruise control, audio system and ABS only touch on a few of its features.

The Road Glide is distinguished by its distinctive dual-headlight prow of the frame-mounted fairing. This CVO version is visually set apart by its Mirror Chrome Agitator wheels, 18 inches in diameter front and rear, and new billet muffler end caps with black spears. You’ll also notice the Rumble Collection foot controls, mirrors and saddlebag latch covers, all bathed in rich, deep chrome. Trim panels for the CB pod insert, Screamin’ Eagle 110 intake insert, and Tour-Pak lid insert feature a new diamond-cut pattern.

Harley’s CVO division always delivers superlative paint and finish work. Seen here is the Frosted Ivory and Vintage Gold with Quartzite graphics version.Harley’s CVO division always delivers superlative paint and finish work. Seen here is the Frosted Ivory and Vintage Gold with Quartzite graphics version.

Glide Ride

First impressions of the RG Ultra are of its physically imposing size and its brilliant finish quality. There’s a lot of stuff to look at on this huge machine, and all of it is of a very high quality. The RG’s massive fairing presents to a rider a lustrous cockpit with a bold instrument panel that is painted to match the body panels. The Rio Red version features deep red metallic paint that a rider can admire all day long.

Although the Road Glide Ultra is ponderous at low speeds, it can carve up a twisty road at a fair pace. Harley says it can be leaned over to the right up to 33 degrees.Although the Road Glide Ultra is ponderous at low speeds, it can carve up a twisty road at a fair pace. Harley says it can be leaned over to the right up to 33 degrees.

Speaking of all day, the RGU’s pillowy saddles seem fully up to the task – this could be the cushiest seat combo in motorcycledom, made even more pleasing by their heating elements. The newly shaped handlebar is a comfortable reach, and it also includes a mount for the Road Tech zumo 660 GPS navigation system. A small ergonomic niggle for shorter riders is the high angle of the audio display. I also had problems navigating through the iPod menu, but I have little doubt it would become second nature after more miles.

The RGU is said to scale in at 943 lbs full of fuel, and it certainly feels it when lifting the bike off its chrome sidestand. Rubber-mount handlebars and a lot of weight carried high (fairing and top case) conspire to made the RGU a little unwieldy below 5 mph – the big Glide is daunting at walking speeds.

But once underway, the newest CVO seems to shed some of its considerable weight, and it adroitly bends into corners better than you might expect. Air-adjustable shocks allow the RGU to adapt to various loads, all the way up to its 1360-lb GVWR. Harley claims an available lean angle of 33 degrees (30 degrees on the pipe side), more than many cruisers.

This Charcoal Slate and Black Twilight with Quartzite graphics version is the most understated of the three available color schemes for the Road Glide Ultra.This Charcoal Slate and Black Twilight with Quartzite graphics version is the most understated of the three available color schemes for the Road Glide Ultra.

Hauling all that weight down from speed is a fairly potent brake system. Triple Brembo four-piston calipers offer strong bite on the trio of 300mm rotors, with smooth initial power progressing linearly to the ABS system’s reasonably high limits.

Performance from the Screamin’ Eagle TC110 was muted because of the mile-plus-high elevations around the Lake Tahoe area in which we rode. But despite the thin air and a half-ton of weight, the burly TC110 never felt out of breath. Throttle response is impeccable, with ultra-smooth pickup from a closed throttle. The rubber-mounted V-Twin is exceptionally smooth on the road, with vibes only noticeable at idle. The addition of a high-torque starter ensures the big-cube motor fires up easily.

Chrome, glorious chrome! The Road Glide Ultra is slathered in it, looking especially tasty in the Screamin’ Eagle TC110 engine compartment. Note the heat deflector behind the rear cylinder to deflect hot air away from a rider’s leg. Chrome, glorious chrome! The Road Glide Ultra is slathered in it, looking especially tasty in the Screamin’ Eagle TC110 engine compartment. Note the heat deflector behind the rear cylinder to deflect hot air away from a rider’s leg.

The RGU is EPA-rated at 47 mpg on the highway (32 mpg city), so as much as 280 miles on a single 6.0-gallon full tank might be achievable on the open road.

Wind tunnel testing was used to design a new mounting angle for the 16-inch Road Glide smoked windscreen, and we found its new design to offer excellent protection for its size. Wind deflectors on the top of the engine guards force more air around a rider for greater protection from the elements.

“Throttle response is impeccable, with ultra-smooth pickup from a closed throttle.”

Suspension control is quite good, especially considering the rear end has just 3.0 inches to work with, a nominal amount that helps achieve a low-ish 29.5-inch seat height. Dunlop D408/407 dual-compound tires offer acceptable grip along with the expectation of greater life from the more durable center compounds.

Our least-favorite aspect of the RGU is its rubbery feel from the front end. Feedback through the rubber-isolated handlebar is indirect, and this makes itself known at parking-lot speeds and during quick steering inputs. I rode the RGU back to back with the CVO Street Glide, and the SG offers more secure feedback due to its lower-profile front tire and less weight up high from its smaller fairing and lack of a Tour Pak.

The Verdict

Okay, so the Road Glide Ultra won’t appeal to everyone – its price guarantees this even if its style doesn’t. In fact, like all CVOs, production numbers are finite – the RGU will be limited to about 3,000 units (never mind the fact that any Victory model would be lucky to sell 3K annual units).

We’ll bet that, even in this current gloomy economy, Harley will have no trouble finding 3,000 customers for the CVO Road Glide Ultra. After all, it’s the first time the RG has been given the CVO treatment, so there will be some measure of pent-up demand for it.

There is so much to like here, including several luxury and convenience upgrades that will coddle and soothe on road trips of every length. And, at the risk of belaboring the point, the finish quality on this and every CVO is beyond reproach. And everything is backed by a two-year warranty

Harley reps describe CVO customers as “alpha riders,” always at the front of the pack. For those who want to make a bold statement and have the bucks to afford it, this CVO Road Glide Ultra is a distinctive and stylish way to lead the parade.

The open road beckons the CVO Road Glide Ultra. Comfort will never be an issue.The open road beckons the CVO Road Glide Ultra. Comfort will never be an issue.

2011 Kawasaki KX450F Review – First Impressions

Amazing things from big K

By Matt Cuddy, Aug. 03, 2010, Photography by Kawasaki

Courtesy of Motorcycle.com

Before you know it another year has passed, and yikes, it’s 2011 already. And that means Kawasaki has to improve on a design that was pretty damn good to begin with – the 2010 KX450F.

Oh sure, there were a few things we complained about on the ’10 model, like a notchy transmission, fading brakes, sticky forks and that belching backfiring nonsense off a jump or two, but the big green 450 was one of the bikes other manufacturers have their sights on.

And why not? The big KX was a fire breather and perhaps the easiest starting big-bore four-stroke MX bike on Earth. It carved up berms like salami, and made air time look like a Blue Angels show. But perfection is an elusive goal, so the folks at Kawasaki made a host of revisions to the 2011 model;

2011 Kawasaki KX450F2011 Kawasaki KX450F

Kawasaki kept the motor about the same as last year. It still has the short DOHC cylinder head with a 12.5:1 compression ratio. Also retained from last year’s motor was the wedge-shaped crank that offsets 60 percent of the crankshaft’s reciprocating weight and produces an effective balance to keep vibrations down. The digital fuel injection (DFI) automatically adjusts to altitude and climate conditions via a small engine-control module, and a lightweight aluminum fuel pump is mounted in a different location in the fuel tank. Connecting the tuning software is now easier with a USB cable under the seat/gas-tank area.

Like last year’s bike, Kawasaki suggests a leak-down test be done after ten hours of hard riding. All that horsepower needs to be maintained. We spoke with a rider at the press intro who campaigned a 2010 KX450F last season, and he relayed that even after 18 hours on the motor, the top end was still tight, and he only had to adjust the valves once. Good news for the Kawasaki four-stroke crowd.

A 43mm throttle body holds an ultra-fine atomizing injector, set at a 45-degree angle for good midrange and top-end power, via a 12-hole system that sprays the fuel in at 60-micron particles, allowing for smooth and accurate power delivery throughout the rev range.

Kawasaki also improved the transmission by incorporating a larger internal roller on the shift cam, and a stronger shift-return spring for more positive shifts, something our tester complained about on last year’s model.

Kawi also dialed in more flex in the aluminum chassis by incorporating steel versus aluminum mounting brackets for the motor. The piston crown has been redesigned to go with the larger high-volume muffler, along with a longer and hotter spark from the programmable ECU.

Suspension has been modified to provide a supple ride over braking bumps, with damping settings matched to provide a smooth works-like ride for the aggressive rider.  The 2011 KX has a D-shaped aluminum swingarm that features a cross section of narrow ribs and thin-wall construction. It pivots high in the frame to increase rear-wheel hook-up. Mounting the rocker-arm of the Uni-Trak rear suspension linkage below the swingarm pivot provides a longer rear suspension stroke and allows for easier shock tuning.

Keeping current on the latest technology, the fork received the slippery DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) treatment to the outer surfaces of the inner fork tube. This minimizes stiction when the fork is exposed to side loads that would otherwise restrict the action.  The suspension is very smooth due to a friction-reducing treatment Kawasaki calls “the Kashima Coat Treatment” on the inside of the forks tubes where all that damping and spring stuff is bouncing around. Also, the fork is a Kayaba Air-Oil-Separate unit that reduces frothing of the fork oil, which makes the fork handle rutted corners without pounding the rider’s forearms, a minor niggle on last year’s big KX.

The rear shock wasn’t ignored and also gets the Kashima treatment with a larger 50mm piston, and more accessible high- and low-speed compression adjuster knobs. The shock also got a revised damping and spring rate to allow for a plush feel throughout the changes in track conditions.

The KX sports a narrow mid-section on top, with a firm urethane foam saddle with a non-slip surface to provide grip when standing. The KX gets wider at the bottom of the frame to provide the rider with better control. The 50mm-wide pegs offer superb grip and give the pilot a comfortable platform to work from.

Kawasaki’s MX History
What came before the KX450F?
Story and photos by Matt Cuddy

While we ooh and ahhhh at the newest technological marvel that is the 2011 KX450F, let’s take a look at what Kawasaki built way back when. One thing they all shared was big power. Seems Kawasaki has that horsepower thing down, even now.

One of Kawasaki’s first forays into the world of motocross and scrambles was the 238cc Greestreak, a rotary-valved, open-piped beastie that was a screamer. It looked pretty damn nice, too.

Many the Husky and Maico rider was put to the test as the Greenstreak whooshed by, throwing up a roost from the 30-plus-horsepower two-stroker. Kawasaki produced the ‘Streaks from 1968 to 1971. They were very light and powerful. Now considered a classic, they bring big money ion the vintage scene.

Kawasaki upped the displacement in 1972 to 247cc and rebadged it the F81M, but it was still called a Greenstreak, with the rotary valve and open pipe. Kawasaki kept these around until 1974, when the first KX motocross series came out.

1968 F21M Greenstreak. Nice, looks like a CZ of the period.1968 F21M Greenstreak. Nice, looks like a CZ of the period.

1972 F81M 247cc Greenstreak. 30 HP at 7000 rpm. 230 lbs.1972 F81M 247cc Greenstreak. 30 HP at 7000 rpm. 230 lbs.

1974 KX450 Kawasaki. This was the first true open-class MX bike that Kawasaki was serious about. The Bighorn not withstanding, Kawasaki tried to make a true race replica of what bad Brad Lackey was riding at the time, and succeeded somewhat with the big KX. Handling issues, along with a soft powerband, were the brunt of many acid-penned editors, and the bike was deemed somewhat a failure when pitted against the Maicos and Husqvarnas of the time. The hammerhead shocks didn’t help much. Vibration was a big no-no, too. Kawasaki claimed 38 horsepower at 6500 rpm.1974 KX450 Kawasaki. This was the first true open-class MX bike that Kawasaki was serious about. The Bighorn not withstanding, Kawasaki tried to make a true race replica of what bad Brad Lackey was riding at the time, and succeeded somewhat with the big KX. Handling issues, along with a soft powerband, were the brunt of many acid-penned editors, and the bike was deemed somewhat a failure when pitted against the Maicos and Husqvarnas of the time. The hammerhead shocks didn’t help much. Vibration was a big no-no, too. Kawasaki claimed 38 horsepower at 6500 rpm.

Lets take a giant step forward in time to the bike that made good, the mighty KX500. Produced from 1991 to 2004, the big KX was the king of the desert, and at the hands of guys like Larry Roeseler, from Baja to the Mint, it racked up many wins for the factory. It was a big dirt bike, more like a 1.5-scale of a normal open-class machine.

1991 KX500. Some called it the ping king, but it was unbreakable and fast.1991 KX500. Some called it the ping king, but it was unbreakable and fast.

Kawasaki still builds the KX500 motor, and if you want to, Service Kawasaki will stuff a new 500cc KX motor into a new aluminum KX250 frame for you, and you’ll have one scary fast dirt bike.

Now there are a lot of Kawasaki dirt bikes we missed (on purpose) but the ones that we chose, we figure were the ones that made history for Kawasaki, and set them up in the industry as a major player in all things fast and green.

As you can tell with this press- intro report on the 2011 KX450F, Kawi hasn’t lost any ground in that area. Kawasaki still hauls the coal and is on top of the horsepower game.

Now that we got all the tech stuff out of the way, it’s time for our test rider, Greg Jones (son of the legendary Gary Jones), to slide into the saddle and give us his impressions of the 2011 Kawasaki KX450F.

We asked Greg to do things that any normal MX racer wouldn’t do, like go into a corner a gear or two higher, and pull it out at low revs. We wanted him to make the bike fail in one way or the other by abusing the transmission, clutch, brakes and motor. Greg did what we asked, but he said the bike didn’t mind the abuse and pulled out without a bobble or complaint.

After getting feedback on the 2010 model, it looks like Kawasaki listened, because the 2011 KX450F is a vastly improved machine over the 2010 motorcycle. No more shifting problems, no harsh fork action, brake fade or funny belching-popping noises out of the motor under load.

The bike rips, and we asked Greg straight out if it was as fast as his CRF450 Honda. After hemming and hawing around, Greg said “yes”.

After the ride part was over, and we’re sitting around bench racing, it came down to the last two questions.

We asked Greg what he thought the worst thing about the new Kawasaki was. He replied, “The front end washes out on hard-packed corners if there’s no berm or rut to catch the wheel.” This was backed up by a few other test riders sitting at our table. So you have to steer it with the throttle on hard-packed corners that have no berm or rut. Maybe a new type of front tire, like an intermediate M21 Dunlop, would have helped. But we didn’t get to explore that possibility.

Mega Kawasaki power in action.Mega Kawasaki power in action.

We then asked Greg what he thought the best thing was about the new KX450F, Greg replied: “The power is electric; it starts from the bottom end and keeps building, never a flat spot or any kick in the powerband that would send you out of control. Very manageable power, and lots of it. The redline is 12,500 rpm, and the rev limiter lets you know when you’ve exceeded it.”

And after seeing and hearing the new KX450F in action, I can only agree. It not only sounds better, because of the larger silencer, but seems to track straighter through snotty terrain. Looks like all that work paid off, because everybody at the press intro, from riders to writers, thought the same thing: the bike is a winner.

"Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird!"“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird!”

Congratulations, Kawasaki, it looks like the KX450F is another model in your long line of MX bikes that is going to kick some wholesale booty. And since the CRF450F and YZ450F are in a state of suspended animation for 2011, sales are sure to go to the big green bike.

The BMW Fire Bike Makes Its Debut

Written by Taryn Kukucka

Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com Wednesday, 04 August 2010 09:09

fire_rideOk, I feel like I’m beating a dead topic here, but there are a good amount of people that are pretty concerned about “going green.” No this isn’t another electric bike…this is something far cooler. A motorcycle firefighter…they save on gas, time, and can prevent a small fire from becoming destructive.

This firefighting bike is a BMW RT 1200 and boasts a 2-cylinder, 4-stroke boxer engine. With two 25-liter water tanks and a 30-meter hose that sprays special fire-retardant foam, the motorcycle was designed to tackle smaller fires. Two water tanks obviously can’t do the job that a fire truck is positioned to do, but they can get to the sight of a fire before the flames spread. Small fires can still damage property and grow which is why many fire departments are turning to this new concept as a solution to managing pesky fires that don’t require a lot of man-power. Not to mention how much money departments will save on gas since they currently send the large trucks to fight even the smallest fire.

The BMW RT 1200 firefighter is making its way around the world, but is currently at the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in England. The Rescue Service will undergo a six-month feasibility trial with two of the bikes. Seems like a simple idea, but it makes you wonder why no one thought of it sooner. People are finally starting to take notice of all the positive things motorcycles have to offer…who needs four wheels anyway.