WRR67: The Kawasaki H2R, How Much Power is Too Much?

This was an exciting week to be a motorcycle enthusiast. Dozens of new motorcycle designs were unveiled at INTERMOT, the International Motorcycle, Scooter and E-Bike Fair in Cologne, Italy. Perhaps the most anticipated though, was the new Kawasaki H2. Kawasaki had been teasing this bike for the entire month of September, allowing only small glimpses of what seemed to be a radical departure from the sportbike status quo.

h2

These teaser videos sparked much debate over what the new bike would be. What was it? A 750cc triple? A ZX-14 killer? After over a month of waiting, yesterday Kawasaki finally pulled the cover off their new H2R, a track only not-street-legal superbike for lunatics. The supercharged 998cc engine puts out 296 horsepower, and while we don’t have full specs on the bike yet, it certainly appears to be not much bigger than a ZX-10R. Everything about this bike is new. A steel trellis frame, a single sided swingarm, and carbon bodywork that looks like it was designed by guys who work in the death star, complete with the Kawasaki River Emblem from the 1870’s.

unnamed

This thing is so radical, it has naturally been rather polarizing. Some love it, some hate it, others just aren’t sure what to make of it. But one of the big questions I have seen posted lately is what is one to do with THAT much power? I mean come on, 3 HUNDRED HORSEPOWER?! Obviously on the street that’s just pure crazy talk, but even on a track, those straightaways are going to be oh so much shorter, breaking points much, much earlier, and corner exit will be a tricky dance to say the least. And Kawasaki is making us wait a whole month more before we find out details about the street version. Speculation is the road going H2 will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 200-220 horsepower. That’s ZX-14R territory, but in a package that is much more compact and (I’m assuming) lighter and more nimble – where do I sign up?!

Even though that is certainly a ton of power, and surely capable of obliterating any speed limit in mere seconds, I want to ride this thing – bad. Maybe it will be featured in an upcoming episode?

1h2r-1

​The bottom line is this: Just about any sportbike you can buy these days is capable of go-directly-to-jail speeds. Worse yet, I guarantee someone will launch themselves off the side of the road, into a building, or into another vehicle on this thing. They already do it on today’s bikes. Sure, having that kind of power on tap may encourage some wild riding behavior, but ultimately it comes down to the individual rider. You have to ask yourself: am I responsible enough to handle this bike? Remember the old saying, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Come along for the ride with us every Wednesday, and don’t forget to shop at http://www.compacc.com to support our channel!

WRR65: Riding the Honda Magna

20140917_121820Meet the 1985 Honda Magna.  30 years old, and still running strong as ever.  Back in those days, the Honda Magna was one of the kings of the street.  With its V4 engine configuration, the Magna has the heritage of Honda’s racing efforts at the heart of the bike, but it’s wrapped in a cruiser package.  What you get is a unique combination of smooth, sporty power, a sit-up-and-beg riding position, and classic muscle bike styling.  The white letter Dunlop Qualifier tires are just the cherry on top.  Dual disc brakes up front, a tachometer, and a sporty stance also hint at the Magna’s intentions, which are far from a casual putt putt around town.  The Magna is one of those bikes that flat out surprises people – especially the uninitiated.  To many – especially in the cruiser world, hearing that the bike “only” has 700 or 750 cc’s means it must be slow.  Line up with them on a straight stretch of road and they will surely have an incredulous look on their face when they catch back up to you.  The Magna is no slouch in a straight line.20140917_121842

Of course get it on a tight twisty road and it’s not quite a sport bike, but it’s still a whole lot of fun to squirt out of each corner with authority.  The seating position has you just in front of the rear tire, while the front stretches out in front of you.  I found the “point and shoot” method of riding this bike quite appropriate.  Meaning, get it slowed down, get it turned, and then hammer down.  Lack of ground clearance at the footpegs and 30 year old suspension meant I wasn’t going to go railing the corners, but that doesn’t at all mean it wasn’t fun.

20140917_122051The Honda Magna is one of those bikes that is just a great all around motorcycle.  Light enough to not be a ton of work around town, plenty of power for the highway, and comfort for those long days in the saddle, the Magna is just great everywhere.  The seat is very plush and comfortable, and has a nice little hump for yourself and a backrest for your passenger so neither of you go sliding off the back.
Of course it’s that V4 that really makes this bike special.  I have to admit, it’s pretty fun having a cruiser that can rev to 10,500 rpm, deliver plenty of power all along the way, and is comfortable, to boot.  Shaft drive means there is no chain to maintain, but there is a center stand if you need to clean the wheels or fix a flat, hey, it happens.20140917_114922

At 30 years old the Honda Magna was still a blast to ride, and that’s when you know you have a great motorcycle underneath you.  Someone could have bought one of these brand new in 1985, and all these years later still enjoy it every time you take it out for a ride.  Honda has a reputation of building top quality bikes, and this is yet another example as to why they have that reputation.

Check out the video below to see what it’s like to actually take the Honda Magna for a ride!

WRR64: Riding the Suzuki DRZ400SM

20140909_173134Motorcycles have distinct advantages over cars when it comes to getting around. They are zippy, maneuverable, fit through tight spaces, and are easy to park – oh, and of course they’re a whole lot more fun. But not all bikes are created equal. Some are powerful machines ready for the race track, with sticky rubber and taut suspension – while others are designed for off-road competition: long travel shocks and light weight. So what do you get if you combine the two? A lightweight package with long travel suspension and sticky tires? One hooligan machine where the fun factor is off the charts, the SuperMoto. Enter: The Suzuki DRZ 400SM. Continue reading WRR64: Riding the Suzuki DRZ400SM

WRR63: Riding the Honda Shadow RS

Sometimes you’re just in a cruiser kind of mood. Yesterday was one of those days. I had just spent the labor day weekend running around like crazy for my sister-in-law’s wedding, which we were not only throwing together – but I was also photographing. So after 4 crazy days in Florida plus two long drives down and back, I was ready to just get out and cruise. Thanks to Hagar Cycle World in Rock Hill, SC, I got to do just that. Enter: the Honda Shadow RS.
1 Continue reading WRR63: Riding the Honda Shadow RS

WRR62: Riding the Ducati Streetfighter 848

 

 

I have had a chance to ride all kinds of motorcycles over the years, and if you follow along with any regularity, you probably know that the naked sportbike is my favorite category.  Take the performance of a true sport bike, strip away most of the plastic bodywork, get some livable ergos on there and you have a hooligan machine that can handle anything from urban assault rides to all day in the saddle rides or even multi-day trips.  To me, they are just such a good compromise between rider comfort, aggressive looks, and performance that it’s just hard to beat.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a nice cruiser or a hot lap on a supersport, but my roots are firmly planted in the naked bike category. Continue reading WRR62: Riding the Ducati Streetfighter 848