Saturday, December 22, 2007

More Info in Honda DreamNew-01

On allready talked about the DN-01.
Here we are: the bike will be available in 2008.

The New ‘Twist-and Go’ Performance Cruiser
Radical new styling that grabs attention from every angle. Form-fitting comfort that invites one to both sit on and to ride. Smooth response to every rider input, reacting with dynamic performance at every twist of its throttle, and… no clutch! Not only that, no gear changer! With its revolutionary new HFT (Human-Friendly Transmission), the epoch-making new DN-01 introduces to motorcycling the most advanced fully automatic transmission ever developed for a two-wheeled vehicle, and one that provides all the exhilarating power and acceleration one associates with ‘real’ motorcycle manual transmissions.

The remarkable new DN-01 takes to the avenues and winding roads of Europe with peerless performance and incomparable riding ease in a distinctly modern and sporty form that invites its riders to rediscover the profound joys of motorcycling on an all-new roadster—or ‘Ridester’—that offers wide appeal.

The future calls, and the new Honda DN-01 answers with a totally new concept in motorcycle riding enjoyment.

With its radical new Performance Cruiser styling and revolutionary automatic HFT transmission, the new DN-01 opens the door to a new world of smooth and easy riding pleasure.

- High-quality, urban-oriented, organic bodywork design with relaxed and comfortable styling.
- Distinctive long-nose front cowl and short tail designs.
- Front cowl integrated into fuel tank, with integrated short front windscreen.
- Wide and low 690mm stepped seat offers relaxed riding position and easy reach to ground.
- Long and wide pillion seat assures comfortable tandem riding.
- American-style cruiser riding position and motorcycle-like knee grip enhance sense of oneness with motorcycle.
- New, narrow wrap-around headlight design with dual projector low beams and single central multi-reflector high beam.
- Wide, narrow taillight with clear lens covering red LED array and yellow indicator bulbs for strong visual impact.
- 2-into-1 exhaust system with chrome-plated triangular shaped tailpipe.
- Smoothly integrated undercowl and muffler design.
- Long, elegant back-swept handlebars.
- Spacious foot boards tapered upward for enhanced riding comfort.
- Large-scale, one-piece LCD instrument panel features wide-throw multi-segment tachometer display with 7,800rpm redline and large central digital speedometer readout.
- Colour variations include: Graphite Black and Pearl Amethyst Purple.

- Compact, liquid-cooled fuel-injected 680cc 8-valve V-twin with shaft drive.
- Revolutionary new infinitely variable automatic HFT (Human Friendly Transmission) offers same powerful and easy ride as a motorcycle.
- HFT features three modes of operation: Drive, Sport and push button selectable 6-speed Manual.
- Hydraulic automatic clutch with switch-selectable mechanical neutral.
- Transmission automatically switches into Neutral when ignition is switched off.
- Innovative ‘lock-up’ system provides more direct engine-to-rear wheel drive for stronger, sharper acceleration than other automatic or belt drive systems.
- HFT offers advantage of higher load handling capability and better power transfer efficiency, permitting sportier acceleration than possible with conventional belt-drive systems.
- Smooth, stepless automatic HFT operation with throttle-controlled high-load ‘downshift’ capability featuring ramping ratio change, rather than stepped downshifting.
- Easy operation: Simply press right-side DN switch (in D Mode) to engage drive.

Hydraulic clutch eliminates ‘clunk’ into first gear, instead smoothly switching into gear, with movement initiated by throttle.
- Dual-chamber exhaust with catalyser in forward chamber for further enhanced mass centralisation.

- Rigid steel pipe double-cradle frame with bolt-on seat rail (also steel tube construction).
- Higher frame rigidity and front weight allocation ensure better high-speed stability than typical large-displacement scooters.
- Mass centralized 15.1-litre (with 3-litre reserve) dual fuel tank permits lower seat height and better mass centralisation.
- Standard 41mm front fork with wide 130/70ZR17M/C front tyre.
- Solid handling stability and riding comfort unprecedented in Custom class.
- Steeper 28° 30' caster angle ensures more enjoyable handling and manoeuvrability.
- Single-sided aluminium Pro-Arm swingarm with shaft drive and Monoshock rear suspension.
- Longer 120mm rear axle stroke offers enhanced ride feel.
- Elegant 17" dual 5-spoke cast aluminum wheels.
- Wide, low-profile 190/50-17 rear tyre.
- Smoothly responsive Combined-Antilock Brake System for confident braking control.
- Convenient parking brake.

- Honda Ignition Security System (HISS) helps prevent ride-away theft by disabling ignition system at its central ECU.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Hondaは、二輪車用に簡単な操作でゆったりとした乗り味とダイレクト感のある走行フィーリングを高次元で実現し、伝達効率にも優れたHonda独自技術の新型オートマチックトランスミッション「油圧機械式無段変速機HFT(Human-Friendly Transmission)」を開発した。このHFTは、第40回東京モーターショーに市販予定車として公開される新型二輪車「DN-01」に搭載される。




DN-01 for Test Ride in UK

Radical new styling that grabs attention from every angle. Form-fitting comfort that invites one to both sit on and to ride. Smooth response to every rider input, reacting with exhilarating performance at every twist of its throttle, and… no clutch! Not only that, no gear changer! Is this really a motorcycle? Or is it some strange kind of scooter?
With its astounding concept bike looks, long-and-low proportions, high-styled 17" wheels and powerful V-twin engine, Honda’s new DN-01 is most certainly a motorcycle. One that provides all the exhilarating riding enjoyment one would expect from the finest of its breed. But… no clutch. Instead, the DN-01 introduces to motorcycling the most advanced fully automatic transmission ever developed for any two-wheeled vehicle. One that provides all the strong power and acceleration one associates with ‘real’ motorcycle manual transmissions. One that frees its rider from the distracting complications of a manual transmission and opens the door to a new world of complete motorcycle riding enjoyment.

When the DN-01 first debuted at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, many thought it to be just another interesting Concept Bike design exercise that would disappear and be promptly forgotten like so many others before it. Its promise of strong performance delivered through an ‘infinitely variable HFT transmission’ seemed like another wild claim, like those often heard to describe automotive concept machines that never see the light of day. Little did people know that the DN-01’s long years of research and development would soon see fruition in a bold new production model which would carry all the styling impact and technological advancements of its initial concept, and still deliver on its promise of unparalleled riding ease and enjoyment. As its name implies, the new DN-01 is the very first of a unique breed of ‘Dream New’ motorcycles that will soon be blazing new trails to the future of two-wheeled riding ease and exhilaration that anybody can enjoy.

Styling Features

- Unprecedented organic ‘Performance Custom’ design.
- Dynamic front cowl design integrates dual projector headlights.
- Long-and-low proportions for relaxed riding position and luxurious riding ease.
- Comfortable stepped seat, back-swept handlebars and wide foot boards.
- Wide LCD instrument panel with multi-segment tachometer display and large digital speedometer.
- Wide integrated LED taillight assembly.

Performance Features

- Slim, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 680cm³ V-twin engine.
- Revolutionary, infinitely variable, fully-automatic HFT (Human-Friendly Transmission).
- HFT features Drive, Sport and 6-speed Manual modes for wide-ranging performance potential.
- Innovative HFT ‘lock-up’ system achieves more direct drive for stronger, sharper acceleration.
- Switch-selectable mechanical Neutral for easier control when at stop.
- Dual-chamber exhaust with catalyser system maintains exhaust emissions below EURO-3 regulated levels.
- Long-and-low chassis design for exceptional riding ease.
- Compliant 41mm front fork mounts wide 130/70 section front tyre.
- Single-sided aluminium Pro-Arm swingarm integrates shaft final drive.
- Stylish wheels mount high-performance radial tyres.
- Smoothly responsive Combined-Antilock Brake System for confident braking control.

Fuel System
Type Liquid-cooled 4-stroke 8-valve SOHC 52° Vtwin

Displacement 680cm³

Bore x Stroke 81 x 66mm

Compression Ratio 10 : 1

Idling Speed 1,200min-1

Oil Capacity 4.0 litres

Fuel System
Carburation PGM-FI electronic fuel injection

Throttle Bore 40mm

Aircleaner Viscous, cartridge-type mesh net filter

Fuel Tank Capacity 15.1 litres (including 3-litre LCD-indicated

Electrical System
Ignition System Fully transistorised electronic

Ignition Timing ND

Sparkplug Type ND

Starter Electric

Battery Capacity 12V/ 12AH

ACG Output ND

Headlight 12V, 55W x 2 (low) / 55W x 1 (high)

Clutch HFT with internal hydraulic control

Clutch Operation Automatic

Transmission Type HFT (Continuously Variable Transmission)

Primary Reduction ND

Final Reduction

Final Drive
Enclosed Shaft

Type Double-cradle; steel tube

Dimensions (LxWxH) 2,315 x 820 x 1,115mm

Wheelbase 1,605mm

Caster Angle 28° 30'

Trail 114mm

Turning Radius ND

Seat Height 690mm

Ground Clearance 135mm

Type Front 41mm telescopic fork, 106mm axle travel

Rear Single conventional dampers with 7-step
adjustable spring preload, 120mm axle travel

Type Front Aluminium Castwheel

Rear Aluminium Castwheel

Rim Size Front 17M/C x MT3.50

Rear 17M/C x MT6.00

Tyre Size Front 130/70 ZR17M/C (62W)

Rear 190/50 ZR17M/C (73W)

Tyre Pressure Front 225kPa

Rear 250kPa

Type Front 296 x 4mm dual hydraulic disc with Combined
3-piston callipers, ABS and sintered metal

Rear 276 x 6mm hydraulic disc with Combined
dual-piston calliper, ABS and sintered metal

Thursday, October 25, 2007

2008 Aprilia Mana 850

Ever since its industry debut at the 2006 EICMA Milan Bike Show, the Aprilia Mana 850 has been an intriguing design. Now as the 2007 round of bike shows begin, the innovative Mana nears production as a 2008 model and the Italian marque has released more information about its latest streetbike.

Okay, so maybe the name is a bit strange. Wasn't mana the biblical food that fell from heaven like magic, or is it the stuff that fantasy role players use to cast spells... Anyhow, in spite of the hinky biblical/fantasy nomenclature, the Mana 850 is a very exciting two-wheeled design.

The Mana's headline component is the electronically-controlled Sportgear transmission. A conspicuous absence on the new Aprilia is the clutch lever, as the bike's transmission is automatic. Riders still have control, however, as the ground-breaking gearbox design has two methods available - the manual Sequential mode and a fully-automatic Autodrive option. Riders are able to switch back and forth between the two modes at will via a handlebar switch.

Sequential mode allows the rider to shuffle through the seven gear ratios by using either the familiar left-side foot pedal or by pressing a switch on the left handlebar. It is a design reminiscent of the paddle/lever shifting system on the Yamaha FJR1300AE. On deceleration, if the rider does not complete manual downshifts, the Mana will perform the operation on its own.

A rider can opt to let the electronics do all the thinking in Autodrive mode, with a CVT transmission delivering optimal power to the rear wheel. There are three engine mappings available in Autodrive, with Touring and Sport complemented by a Rain setting for when the road surface gets slick. There is also a semi-Autodrive mode available, which permits downshifts for those moments when riders need a boost of acceleration or engine braking.

The headline-generating transmission is mated to a 90-degree V-Twin developed in-house by Aprilia. The oversquare 839cc Twin features an 88mm bore and 69mm stroke. Aprilia claims the liquid-cooled powerplant churns out 76 horsepower and 54 lb-ft or torque at the crank, with a chain drive transferring those numbers to the rear wheel. A Weber Marelli EFI system with 38mm throttle body controls what enters the four-valve per cylinder design, while a Euro-III compliant 2-into-1 exhaust takes care of the leftovers.

Enough with the engine already (how often do you hear that in a new model debut?), because the other distinctive feature on the Mana is its storage capacity, with the new design able to stow a full-face helmet. The helmet tucks away in a compartment located where the traditional fuel tank would sit, the gas instead being stored in a 4.2-gallon underseat design. Built-in helmet storage is an advantage that cannot be overlooked, enhancing further the Mana's potential as a commuter mount.

After the notable gearbox and storage capabilities, the Mana provides a more conventional, standard package. A steel trellis frame delivers sporty steering geometry, with a 24-degree rake, 4 inches of trail and a 55.6-inch wheelbase. The 31.5-inch seat height should accommodate most potential riders.

Suspension is handled by an inverted 43mm fork with 4.7 inches of travel up front. The rear suspender is a hydraulic shock adjustable for preload and rebound damping with 4.9 inches of wheel travel.

Bringing the new Aprilia to a stop are dual 320mm rotors (the same size discs as those on Aprilia's Tuono and Mille literbikes). The large front rotors are pinched down by 4-piston radial calipers, with a single 260mm rear disc configuration out back.

On top of it all, the Mana 850 is a sharp-looking motorcycle. Now our only hope is the new Aprilia makes its way over to U.S. shores, because this pioneering design looks like a load of fun. If you doubt it, make sure to check out for pics and a great video of the bike in action.

Are you up to date on all the lastest and greatest 2008 models? Let get you up to speed with the 2008 New Model Roundup page. Whether it's the latest sportbike, cruiser or new dirt machines, we've got you covered.

2008 Honda Motorcycles

2008 Honda XL700V Transalp
One of the interesting models that was shown is the XL700V Transalp, which will probably not come to the U.S., unfortunately. Although its styling is rather mundane, a 700cc V-twin motorcycle would make an interesting entry in the basically non-existent mid-range motorcycle market in the U.S. for discriminating buyers who haven't been taken in by the "more is better" approach to engine capacity, where anything under 1,000 cc's isn't even considered.

The XL700V Transalp is a dual-purpose sports model with a water-cooled, 4-stroke, 700cc V-twin engine. Engine displacement has been increased from 650cc to 700cc for this revised model, and the bike is now fitted with Programmed Fuel Injection system (PGM-FI), for improved midrange output combined with the environmental performance required to comply with Euro 3 regulations.

Other performance improvements include a new ABS system and a smaller 19-inch front tire with a wider 140mm rear tire for enhanced riding stability. New large headlight and distinctive new turn signal units replacing the built-in signals along with a newly designed chassis are included, and the bike has different styling around the front side fairing.

The XL700V Transalp will be manufactured at Montesa Honda S.A., a local manufacturing subsidiary established by Honda in Spain which began operations in 1986. The XL700V Transalp will be released successively in European markets.

2008 Honda CBR1000RR
This super sports model features a water-cooled, high-output 4-stroke, in-line 4-cylinder 1,000cc engine. For the new 2008 model, the number of components has been reduced to make the bike more compact, and the new lightweight, die-cast aluminum frame provides a smooth ride with just the right amount of rigidity.

These and other modifications succeed in reducing overall vehicle weight by 6kg compared to the previous model. The rear swingarm has also been lengthened for improved road holding and increased rigidity, and a gull arm design adopted to secure greater freedom for muffler layout.

The exhaust system is positioned under the pillion step to bring it closer to the bike’s center of gravity, with a short muffler that further contributes to the concentration of mass. Other features that add to the bike appeal the motorcycle include the newly developed assist slipper clutch for easier clutch operation and an enhanced feeling of rider security thanks to the mitigation of abrupt engine braking during downshifting.

The new model’s styling features compact front and rear fairing designed to present an image of extreme compactness, combined with mirrors with built-in turn signals to achieve a cool, aggressive look. The Honda CBR 1000 RR will be manufactured at Honda’s Hamamatsu Factory in Japan and it will be released successively in European markets.

2008 Honda CBF600
Another interesting model is the CBF600, one of three new Hondas that reach back to Honda's legacy for its styling cues. Equipped with a water-cooled, 4-stroke, 600cc in-line 4-cylinder engine in a mono-backbone frame, the CBF600 has been acclaimed for its nimble handling.

To improve both performance and practicality, this year’s model has been fitted with a more compact, higher-output engine based on the one used in the 2007 CBR600RR and CB600F Hornet, both of which were fully remodeled last year. New features including Programmed Fuel Injection system (PGM-FI) for precise fuel control and a lightweight, aluminum die-cast frame help deliver superior ride performance and outstanding environmental performance.

Comfort enhancements include an adjustable front suspension that allows the rider to choose the setting that best suits his or her own preferences and a newly configured Combined ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) featuring Honda’s CBS front-rear brake-force distribution system for a more secure braking feel.

Manufactured by Honda Italia Industriale S.P.A., Honda’s Italian motorcycle and power products manufacturing and sales subsidiary, the CBF600 will be made available successively in European markets.

Honda Human-Friendly Transmission (HFT)
Honda has also recently announced that it has developed the Human-Friendly Transmission (HFT), a new automatic transmission system for motorcycles using Honda’s own infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission.

It's claimed to be easy to operate, providing "outstanding relaxed riding comfort, riding feel with direct response and excellent transmission efficiency".

The HFT will be installed on the Honda DN-01, a new motorcycle scheduled for market launch to be introduced at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show on October 27.

Honda Human-Friendly Transmission (HFT)

With Honda's own infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission, the HFT realizes the lightweight and compact configuration required for motorcycles. To meet the wide range of rider needs, HFT offers a selection from two fully automatic shifting modes.

The "D" mode is used for ordinary riding and the "S" mode for a sporty riding experience, or the 6-speed manual mode can also be used, which gives riders the option of riding with a manual transmission feel. The HFT creates a unique riding feel through easy operation, ranging from relaxed and laid-back riding to nimble and sporty with direct throttle response.

Honda has developed and sold motorcycles equipped with easy-to-operate automatic riding technologies before. As a pioneer in the era of automatic systems, Honda launched the Super Cub C100 in 1958, equipped with an automatic centrifugal clutch mechanism, which allowed riding without the need of clutch operation.

The Eara (750cc), released in 1977, was a first large-sized motorcycle featured a torque converter in Japan. And in 1980, Honda put the Tact on the market, a machine equipped with the Honda original continuously variable transmission, the V-Matic, and Honda has continued to develop a variety of new mechanisms up into the present.

Characteristics of the HFT
A transmission system with a wide range of functions in a single unit, the HFT is a compact and highly efficient infinitely variable transmission system encompassing functions for starting, power transmission and shifting, all on a single shaft.

The basic configuration of the system consists of an oil pump for converting engine power into hydraulic pressure, and an oil motor for converting the hydraulic pressure back into power for output. Both are made up of multiple pistons, a distributor valve and a swash plate for piston operation, while the cylinders are integrated into the output shaft, forming the characteristic structure of the HFT.

The HFT also features the world’s first (claimed) lockup mechanism for an infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission. When cruising, this lockup mechanism works to minimize transmission efficiency losses, contributing to improved fuel economy.

More 2008 Honda Motorcycles
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced the line-up of motorcycles that will be premiered at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show 2007 (organized by Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association), to be held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan from Saturday, October 27 to Sunday, November 11, 2007.

Honda’s motorcycle exhibition will feature World Premiere concept models (prototype), pre-launch models, and a comprehensive line-up of other motorcycles and advanced environmental and safety technologies.

Overview of Featured Motorcycles and Other Exhibits
It is expected that Honda will announce the following motorcycles for various markets:

SHADOW (750)
SHADOW (400)
ST1300 Pan-European (ABS)
Production Models
XR400 Motard
Also on Exhibition
RC212V (2007 MotoGP racing machine)
CRF450R (2007 All Japan Motocross Championship IA1 Class racing machine)
COTA 4RT (2007 Trial World Championship Series winning machine)
CBR1000RRW / CBR1000RR (2007 Suzuka 8 Hours Endurance Road Race racing machine)
Honda Riding Simulator Riding Trainer
Variable Cylinder Management system equipped engine for motorcycle
FORZA engine (cutaway model)

Honda EVO6


Also Announced by Honda At The Frankfurt Motor Show

Motorcycle Airbag Enters Production
Naturally, safety research also plays a key role in motorcycle design, exemplified by the world's first production motorcycle airbag system now available on the new Gold Wing motorcycle shown on the stand.

By conducting extensive crash tests at its indoor omni-directional Real World Crash Test Facility, applying advanced computer simulation technology, and leading the way with the introduction of motorcycle rider test dummies, Honda has gathered and analyzed a wide array of data on the behavior of motorcycles during collisions. The motorcycle airbag is the result and it can help lessen the severity of injuries caused by frontal collisions

2008 Honda DN-01 Production Bike makes its debut

(A DN-01 will all the added bells and whistles. Pretty sexy!)

More great TheScooterScoop exclusives from Skorj at This time we've got the final production version of the Honda DN-01 Automatic Sport Cruiser (not a scooter, but a two wheeled oddity for sure). Expect to see this on Japanese streets sometime next year. No commitment on an arrival date for the USA... and why WOULDN'T they bring it here? It has no competition in its class (yet).

(The production version of the DN-01's dash board)

(What the DN-01 looks like from the passenger seat)

So looks like it'll be the Aprilia Mana 850cc vs. the Honda DN-01 680cc vs. Gilera GP 800 850cc for the battle of the mega automatics in 2008. Arigato Skorj! We look forward to more great TMS 2007 coverage as the day progresses.

Tokyo 2007 Preview: Honda DN-01 motorcycle features automatic transmission

The DN-01 is a concept model that developed with the aim of "creating new value" without being locked into any existing category of motorcycle. While the automatic model has been synonymous with the scooter and has made a clear departure from motorcycles, Honda presents the automatic sports cruiser "DN-01" featuring Honda's unique infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission, the "HFT" (Human Fitting Transmission). The DN-01 is easy to operate and offers much sportier performance than existing automatic transmissions. Delivering an exciting riding experience like no other, the DN-01 Discovery Cruiser offers adults a fresh motorcycling style.

Infinitely Variable HFT Transmission Delivers a Revolutionary Riding Feel.
This new-generation infinitely variable transmission delivers superb throttle response and stepless shifting, with no mid-corner shifting shocks. Riders can select from three shifting modes: Drive Mode, Sports Mode and 6-Speed Manual Mode. Moreover, the HFT offers the world's first* lock-up mechanism in an infinitely variable, hydraulic mechanical transmission. Powered by a 680cc V-twin engine, this machine realizes novel levels of comfort and sportiness.
*According to a Honda survey.

Fiercely Original and Creative Style
Pushing forward to create new value, the design concept aims for a long and low, modern organic look. The image created by the long-nose front cowl is highly dynamic, while the undercowl-muffler and Pro-Arm rear suspension add a functional beauty to the overall design. Highly centralized mass and ideal front/rear weight distribution ensure unimaginable maneuverability from this 1,605mm-long wheelbase.

A Supremely Comfortable Riding Position.
The large seat is fitted with an adjustable backrest for plush comfort on long rides, while wide footboards allow maximum freedom of movement. Complemented by a low 680mm seat, the riding position is spacious and relaxing. Passengers are also comfortable, thanks to the ample and lengthy passenger seat. This new genre of motorcycle gives new enjoyment to both rider and passenger.

*Liquid cooled, four stroke, 52°V-Twin, SOHC. 3 valve per cylinder

* Capacity: 680
* Bore x Stroke 81 x 66 mm
* Total length 2,345mm
* Full-width 834mm
* Total height 1,100mm
* Engine type Water cooling 4 strokes OHC V type 2 cylinders
* Total cubic displacement 680cm3
* Seat Height is 26.7 inches
* Wheelbase is 63.2 inches
* Engine is fuel-injected V-Twin 680cc 65-hp
* The transmissin is a new hydraulic-lock-up CVT that will offer the option of full-auto or thumb-shift.
* Integrated GPS, built in stereo speakers, and likely ABS/linked braking.

(from forum member freebird): It uses the NEW Deauville engine which is a fuel-injected 4-valve 680cc V-2 putting out 64-hp [the old Deauville engine was 2-valves, carb'd, and I think 640cc]. If you don't know anything about the Deauville Sport Touring bike you probablu live in the USA

Honda Develops HFT, a New Automatic Transmission System for Motorcycles

TOKYO, Japan, October 4, 2007–Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it has developed the Human-Friendly Transmission (HFT), a new automatic transmission system for motorcycles using Honda's own infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission. Easy to operate, the HFT realizes outstanding relaxed riding comfort, riding feel with direct response and excellent transmission efficiency. The HFT will be installed on the DN-01, a new motorcycle scheduled for market launch to be introduced at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show.

With Honda's own infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission, this HFT realizes the lightweight and compact configuration required for motorcycles. To meet the wide range of rider needs, HFT offers a selection from two fully automatic shifting modes-D mode for ordinary riding and S mode for a sporty riding experience-or the 6-speed manual mode, which gives riders the option of riding with a manual transmission feel. The HFT creates a unique riding feel through easy operation, ranging from relaxed and laid-back riding to nimble and sporty with direct throttle response. With the aim of providing products useful in the every day lives of customers, Honda has developed and sold motorcycles equipped with easy-to-operate automatic riding technologies. As a pioneer in the era of automatic systems, Honda launched the Super Cub C100 in 1958, equipped with an automatic centrifugal clutch mechanism, which allowed riding without the need of clutch operation. The Eara (750cc), released in 1977, was a first large-sized motorcycle featured a torque converter in Japan. In 1980, Honda put the Tact on the market, a machine equipped with the Honda original continuously variable transmission, the V-Matic, and Honda has continued to develop a variety of new mechanisms up into the present.

A transmission system with a wide range of functions in a single unit, the HFT is a compact and highly efficient infinitely variable transmission system encompassing functions for starting, power transmission and shifting, all on a single shaft. The basic configuration of the system consists of an oil pump for converting engine power into hydraulic pressure, and an oil motor for converting the hydraulic pressure back into power for output. Both are made up of multiple pistons, a distributor valve and a swash plate for piston operation, while the cylinders are integrated into the output shaft, forming the characteristic structure of the HFT.

The HFT also features the world's first lockup mechanism for an infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission. When cruising, this lockup mechanism works to minimize transmission efficiency losses, contributing to improved fuel economy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vectrix Electric Maxi-Scooter

Electric-powered two-wheelers certainly seem to be on the verge of advancing from the prototype stage to wide-scale commercialisation. Take the first electric "maxi-scooter" presented by American manufacturer Vectrix at the Milan Show. Our test ride proved perfectly conclusive.

It doesn't yet have any other name than "electric maxi-scooter", but this is all that really distinguishes it from any of the numerous models over 250 cc that every year share the booming two-wheel "individual mobility" market.

Visually, the new electric scooter by Vectrix looks like any other scooter. Its front is reminiscent of a Honda Silver Wing 600, the rear brings to mind a Malaguti Spidermax 500. It has the immense seat typical of those luxurious machines, and the wheels are relatively large in diameter (14 inch at the front and 13 at the rear).

The trim of the display models on the stand at the Milan Show seemed to us to be perfectly in accord with current requirements.

There is no doubt, in these circumstances, that Vectrix will be able to honour its promise of commercialising this maxi-scooter from the end of 2006 in Italy and England. Because this electric scooter is not just another prototype, but well and truly intended for immediate launch.

© Vectrix
"Clean" and high-performance
This maxi-scooter draws its energy from NiMH batteries (125 volts, 3.7 kW/h) which power a permanent-magnet "Brushless"-type motor, placed directly on the rear wheel, in a superb aluminium swing arm. Like all electric two-wheelers, it emits no pollutants and operates in almost total silence.

Its novelty comes from its performance, Vectrix announcing figures above those of 400 cc petrol-engine scooters. For example, it does 0 to 80 kph (50 mph) in 6.8 seconds! In any case, the little test run we carried out in Milan shows that performance is not in doubt. Accompanied by the hiss typical of this type of machinery, acceleration is powerful, with torque immediately available at low revs (maximum torque: 6.5 kg-m at 3,500 rpm!).

The maximum output delivered by the electric motor is 27 hp at 3,000 rpm (9.5 hp continuous output). Consequently, this maxi-scooter will be reserved for motorcycle licence holders. The top speed is announced at approximately 100 kph (62 mph).

The electric motor is concealed in this aluminium swing arm.
© Vectrix
Range of 100 km, recharge in two hours
In deceleration phase, the Vectrix system (protected by six patents filed worldwide) automatically recharges the batteries, making it possible to increase their range by around 10%. Moreover, the very powerful engine brake dispenses with using the brakes to slow down. Lastly, this system offers the benefit of a reverse gear intended to facilitate parking.

Battery range should be in the region of 100 km (62 miles), with a recharge time of two hours (80%). Vectrix asserts that these batteries will have a life of 10 years, based on 8,000 km (5,000 miles) per year.

© Vectrix
As precise and practical as a petrol scooter
The batteries lie at the centre of a robust aluminium frame, in the central tunnel. Great attention has been paid to the entire chassis, as witnessed by the list of suppliers (Marzocchi fork, Sachs shock absorbers, Brembo brakes.).

The machine is relatively heavy (210 kg in roadworthy condition) and its long wheelbase seems to favour stability. The very low centre of gravity does, however, preserve manoeuvrability, whilst weight distribution seems very even.

Beneath the seat, there is sufficient space to store a full-face helmet once you reach your destination. The dashboard contains all the usual information, including a battery status indicator and estimated remaining range, all presented in digital form.

Immediately available, but at a high price
Produced in the United States (New Bedford) and Poland (Wroclaw), the Vectrix maxi-scooter should be available from the end of 2006 in Italy and England, and from early 2007 in France and in Europe, where the company is still seeking distributors.

There remains the selling price. In Milan, Vectrix told us it would be around 11,000 euros (OTR price in the UK is £6,930), which is much more than for current 400 or 500 cc scooters. However, you have to allow for the possibility of government aid with respect to this type of powered vehicle, and take into consideration the low cost of use (-25% over 4 years, according to Vectrix) and maintenance (-70%). The manufacturer's warranty will last two years (four years in the UK).

In the end, this electric maxi-scooter will probably not cause any immediate upset on the European market, but one has to acknowledge that Vectrix has managed to take a clear lead with this visibly highly promising technology.

Three-wheel version on the cards
On the stand at Milan, Vectrix was also presenting this three-wheel prototype, whose front axle operates very much like that of the Piaggio MP3. It is scheduled for launch in 2008.

Vectrix is also working on finalising a hybrid model, integrating a fuel cell to increase overall range to 250 km (155 miles).

Web site:

Piaggio will bring Gilera Fuoco 500 to America as the MP3-500 and MP3-400

Well, well, well... it appears as if the rumor about the Piaggio MP3 getting a larger engine for the U.S. market might just be a reality. In fact, it's even better than even the die-hard scooter fanatics could have hoped for. Not only is the MP3 getting the long-rumored 400cc engine here in the States, we are also getting an MP3-500! The 500cc equipped machine will differ from the other MP3's though. The Gilera Fuoco 500ie, which is a brand not sold at all in America, is being brought over almost exactly as-is, except with another badge on its flanks.

As a refresher, the Piaggio MP3 is a leaning three-wheeled scooter which is currently available for sale. Currently a 250cc engine powers the scooter and the 400cc version should be in showrooms soon. Rumor has it that the MP3 500 should go for around $10,000. That is pretty expensive, but as Steve from The Scooter Scoop says: hotness has a price!

The last piece of good scooter news is that the new Vespa S might come stateside as well. I know some people have been waiting for that announcement too!

[Source: The Scooter Scoop]

Concept Motorcycle Hybrids

Tokyo 2007 Preview: Yamaha Tesseract concept...

And now for something completely different. Yamaha has just announced that it will be bringing a bevy of new motorcycle and scooter models to the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. One of the more interesting concepts, which we'll roughly refer to as a motorcycle, is the Tesseract. Piaggio has a success on their hands in the form of the MP3, which is capable of leaning into turns despite the third wheel. Yamaha has one-upped that with its Tesseract, though, by adding yet one more whee,l bringing the total count to four. And yet, nobody would confuse this machine with a car!

Again, following Piaggio's lead with its impending hybrid MP3, Yamaha has made this concept a hybrid, boasting both a V-Twin engine of undisclosed size along with an electric motor. Yamaha claims that the machine is about the same width as a standard motorcycle, meaning lane-splitting could feasibly remain an option and parking shouldn't be too difficult. The Tesseract has also been equipped with a mechanism to keep the machine upright when stopped or when parked, once again, like the MP3. As for the styling? It's, uh... different! Imagine a Transformer half transformed and you'll be pretty darn close. And we love it!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Vectrix

MAX SPEED : 62mph

Two pieces of interesting Vectrix news coming your way today, you lucky readers! One, we hear that Vectrix might be debuting their long-rumored electric Superbike on November 6th in Milan. We'd be very happy if this one turns out to be true, and even happier if the bike were equipped with lithium ion batteries. For sportbike use, we'd want to see at least 100 miles per hour from the bike with excellent acceleration. We also think that the range should be better than the scooter too, which would of course also raise the price of the cycle. Trade-offs!

The second piece of news to share was featured in the print version of Popular Science in their April '07 issue. We've known for some time that Vectrix was planning to have a three-wheeler based on the Piaggio MP3's innovative leaning front suspension system, but we missed the picture from PopSci (.pdf), which claims that the bike will be out in '08 and will cost $12,000. We can't verify any of that information, though, so we'll wait for an official announcement from Vectrix on the matter before we get too excited.

[Source: Motoblog, Popular Science]

Monday, October 8, 2007

Piaggio MP3 HYS

Always considering environmental problems, Piaggio presented a inovative solution destinated to change for ever the way we comute in crowded cities.

Year after year the cities become more and more crowded and with personal transporting becoming a must, somebody had to find a solution. You will probably thing that it was found together with the two wheels but not everybody will agree with you. Many people are scared of getting on two wheels and this is where Piaggio comes in.

After recently releasing Piaggio MP3, the President of Piaggio expressed its intentions to release a hybrid version of the vehicle that will result in providing solutions for congested cities.

The scooter is scheduled for release for the European at the end of the month and it will use Piaggio’ HYS technology.

The Piaggio HYS uses ingenious technical solution and still can be ridden with the usual controls (accelerator, brakes and additional handlebar commands) as well as a specific switch to choose one of four operating modes: standard hybrid, high-charge hybrid, low-charge hybrid and electric only.

In the first three modes the HYS manages power output from the two engines, thermal and electric, using a drive-by-wire system: the electronic management system (SGE) interprets the rider’s request for more torque and selects the assist ratio on the state of the system. During deceleration and braking, the control system recovers and accumulates power that is lost on normal vehicles with battery.

In standard hybrid mode the battery charge is maintained at optimum traction levels (batteries at 75%). In view of “electric only” use, the rider can, however, choose the high-charge hybrid function, geared to maximize the range of the electric motor (batteries at 95%).

On the other hand, if the rider wishes to recharge the batteries by plugging them into a power outlet, he can use the low-charge hybrid mode (batteries at 20%) to obtain maximum performance with minimum consumption.

In electric-only mode, the Piaggio HYS shuts down the combustion engine and turns into a silent, zero-emissions electric vehicle.

Drive-by-wire technology not only allows the control system to optimally manage the combined power output of the two engines but also “forces” the terminal engine to work when it can be most efficient, thereby reducing specific consumption, with obvious advantages in terms of lower consumption and emissions.

Are you afraid of traveling on two wheels? How about three? You don’t need balance, you can easily concentrate on the road ahead and traffic jams will be a nightmare with this new, environmental friendly machine that will soon invade the streets of Europe.

Yamaha Gen-RYU hybrid motorcycle

Yamaha is dropping no less than 9 world premiere models on the 39th Tokyo Motor Show coming up later this month. Of special note to us is the Gen-Ryu hybrid motorcycle prototype (damn!) which combines the YZF-R6 600cc engine with a high output, high efficiency electric motor. Combine that with some fat wheels and that long wheelbase and you've got a machine said to perform and handle like a "1,000cc class machine." Eco-power not workin' it for ya? Ok, well consider it has a vehicle-to-vehicle distance warning system, a "cornering light system" for a little night time knee-scraping action, and a noise cancelation system which is said to allow for an intercom, voice navigation, hands-free cellphone calls, and music player — damn impressive if it really works! And just for kicks, how about an LCD so you can watch those cagers mouth "what the…" as you roll on by.

Honda SilverWing ABS 2008 -- Honda NEWSROOM

09/05/2007 - Torrance, Calif. -
For performance that stands tall in the world of scooters, Honda's Silver Wing™ offers an innovative blend of high performance, easy operation and distinctive styling.

Features & Benefits

New for 2008

New Metallic Grey color
Unique features

Sophisticated Honda V-Matic belt-drive system delivers seamless shifting and ample power at any speed.
Combined Braking System (CBS) provides excellent braking power for added confidence in a wide range of operating conditions (see Technology Section)
Optional Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS w/CBS) model (see Technology Section).
Cavernous 55-liter under seat storage compartment and beautiful, lightweight aluminum rear spoiler.

Four-stroke 582cc parallel twin-cylinder engine features DOHC and four valves per cylinder for unequalled engine performance and clean, efficient operation.
Air injection system, exhaust catalyzer and advanced digital mapping simultaneously reduce emissions.
Engine's 360-degree crankshaft design incorporates two primary balancer shafts into the crankcase to minimize vibration.
Direct shim-under-bucket valve actuation ensures excellent engine performance, trouble-free operation and 16,000-mile valve maintenance intervals.
Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI) (see Technology Section).
Maintenance-free, fully transistorized digital ignition ensures reliable power.
Compact, liquid-cooled oil cooler mounts to the front of the crankcase and provides a convenient mount for the spin-on oil filter.
Fan-cooled radiator ensures consistent engine operating temperatures and long engine life.
Lightweight and quiet stainless-steel exhaust system.
Honda V-Matic automatic belt-drive system has sophisticated three-stage operation for optimum power delivery around town or on the freeway.

Durable steel frame is lightweight yet strong, providing an optimum combination of rigidity and flexibility for superb handling for one- and two-up riding.
Engine crankshaft and swingarm pivot are coaxially aligned to eliminate the engine as an unsprung suspension member, resulting in better mass centralization for excellent handling, stability and rider comfort.
Stout 41mm hydraulic front fork with 4.7 inches of suspension travel provides a plush, well-controlled ride.
Dual rear shocks have 4.5 inches of travel and five-position spring preload adjustability for a smooth, comfortable ride. Rearward mounting of the shocks allows a large-capacity underseat storage compartment.
A hydraulic three-piston caliper and 276mm front disc brake, plus a lightweight, twin-piston caliper and 240mm rear disc brake, offer excellent stopping power.
Large 14-inch 120/80 front tire and 13-inch 150/70 rear tire provide excellent traction.
Additional Features

Wind-tunnel–developed full-coverage body-work and windscreen are both beautiful and functional, protecting the rider from the elements while reducing wind noise.
Integrated floorboards angle upward in the front for optimum rider foot placement when riding. The floorboards narrow below the seat, allowing the rider to easily place both feet on the ground.
Multi-reflector headlight incorporates a wide-dimension low beam located directly above the high beam in a compact V-shape for optimal lighting.
Wide-and-low padded seat has an adjustable five-position rider backrest that adjusts over a 2-inch range. The long, wide passenger seat is very comfortable for all-day two-up riding. The locking seat opens to the front and is held open by a hydraulic damper for easy loading of the storage compartment.
Instrumentation includes an analog speedometer and tachometer, with LCD digital displays for odometer, twin tripmeters, fuel, clock and coolant temperature. Indicator lights display parking brake, fuel injection, V-Belt, high beam, oil pressure and coolant temperature.
Large 4.2-gallon fuel tank offers extended cruising range. The fuel door is located behind a locking cover built into the floor tunnel for easy access.
An easy-to-use cable-operated rear-disc parking brake is engaged by pulling a large handle on the upper-right panel. Pulling the handle again releases the brake.
Powerful 12-volt electrical system and maintenance-free battery offer superb reliability.
Ignition switch/steering lock helps keep the Silver Wing secure when parked.
Sidestand switch allows starting only if the sidestand has been retracted and the rear brake lever is applied.

Honda SilverWing ABS 2008


Engine Type 582cc liquid-cooled four-stroke parallel-twin
Bore and Stroke 72mm x 71.5mm
Compression Ratio 10.2:1
Valve Train DOHC; four valves per cylinder
Carburetion PGM-FI with automatic enricher circuit
Ignition Computer-controlled fully transistorized with electronic advance


Transmission Automatic V-Matic belt drive


Front Suspension 41mm hydraulic fork; 4.7 inches travel
Rear Suspension Swingarm with dual hydraulic shocks with five-position spring preload adjustability; 4.5 inches travel
Front Brake Single 276mm disc with CBS three-piston caliper and Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS)
Rear Brake Single 240mm disc with CBS twin-piston caliper; Optional ABS
Front Tire 120/80-14
Rear Tire 150/70-13


Wheelbase 62.8 inches41mm hydraulic fork; 4.7 inches travel
Seat Height 29.7 inches
Curb Weight 551 lbs (Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and a full tank of fuel—ready to ride)
Fuel Capacity 4.2 gallons, including 0.9-gallon reserve


Available Colors Metallic Gray
Model ID FSC600A


One year Unlimited mileage limited warranty; extended coverage available with a Honda Protection Plan.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kawasaki Versys™

NEW FOR 2008

Big Comfort, Long Travel Suspension, and Innovative Styling: One Versatile, Fun, Street-Savvy Motorcycle

The new 2008 Kawasaki Versys™ is a machine which occupies a hard to define sweet spot in the motorcycling universe. Is it a practical commuter? Long-legged urban assault vehicle? Sportbike? Light Tourer?

The answer on all counts is a resounding Yes! This isn’t a niche specialist but rather a jack-of-all-trades with user-friendly versatility as one of its many charms.

The 649cc parallel twin and the neutral handling and light steering chassis of the Ninja® 650R sportbike made the perfect starting point for this comfortable gridlock commando. A swoopy gull-wing swingarm, long-travel inverted 41mm fork, six-spoke superbike-inspired wheels, adjustable-height windscreen and a comfortable cockpit were combined to create a motorcycle that just begs to be ridden wherever the pavement might lead.

The compact liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 8-valve, 649cc parallel twin engine was modified for the Versys motorcycle so it delivers smooth power that’s well-suited for off-the-line acceleration and flexible torque in the cut-n-thrust of a rider’s morning commute. This engine’s overall characteristics are entertaining for even the most advanced riders, yet predictable enough to inspire confidence in less-experienced motorcyclists.

Its suspension offers the next level in sophistication: an advanced Showa rear shock featuring a free piston and two-stage damping valves for progressive compression damping which firms significantly as the shock moves through its stroke. This allows a longer wheel travel with a feel that is initially soft like a dual sport, but firms to near sportbike levels as suspension loads escalate. Of course, this advanced shock is fully-adjustable and connected to a beautiful aluminum gull-wing swingarm that is longer than average, thanks to a short/compact engine and chassis.

Up front, the Versys suspension continues the high-tech approach with a fully-adjustable 41mm tapered-tube inverted fork that combines the best of off-road and sportbike suspension action for a stiffness balance that is a perfect compliment to the chassis settings. In addition to a more-comfortable ride, the long-travel suspension’s soft-stroke allows easy control of the chassis’ running angle by shifting the rider’s weight.

Complimenting the able suspension is the carefully designed cockpit that features a two-piece seat constructed to provide optimum comfort to both the rider and passenger. An easy-to-read and informative instrument panel allows riders to quickly scan the gauges and get their eyes back on the road. Capping off the comfort list is an adjustable windscreen that can be raised or lowered to three positions in 20mm increments.

Unique features
Aggressive styling
Powerful parallel-twin engine
Compact size and weight
Long-travel suspension
Comfortable cockpit

649cc parallel twin-cylinder, DOHC engine is the most compact in its category.
The engine is considerably smaller than that of the Ninja 500 and helps reduce the dimension of the entire motorcycle
Tuned to deliver smooth, responsive power in the low-to mid-rpm range with exceptional roll-on response –ideal for negotiating city traffic
Triangular crank and transmission shaft layout makes it short front to back, a semi-dry sump oil system reduces overall engine height, and the narrow pitch of the chrome composite plated aluminum cylinders helps reduce engine width
Muffler with 3-way catalyzer and bullet-tip opening is mounted below the engine to help lower the center of gravity and aid weight centralization
180-degree crankshaft plus balancer shaft for extremely smooth engine operation
Oil jets on the connecting rod big ends spray oil on the undersides of the pistons to aid cooling

Liquid Cooling
Maintains consistent engine temperatures for long engine life and sustained power during hard use
Allows closer engine tolerances for more horsepower
Fewer external hoses because the coolant is routed through the engine cases

Digital Fuel Injection (DFI)
Utilizes 38mm Keihin throttle bodies with ECU controlled sub throttle valves for optimum performance and rideability
The sub throttles, located behind the main throttle valves, permit the DFI system a more precise throttle response, similar to a constant velocity carburetor
Automatic fast idle system makes starting and warm-up easy
Precise fuel injection plus exhaust catalyzer significantly reduce emissions

Digital Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI) System
Microprocessor controlled timing never requires adjustment and is ultra responsive to engine needs
Spark plug mounted “stick” ignition coils are compact and help reduce weight

Six-Speed Transmission
Cassette style transmission means the shafts and shift drum are in a compact layout that is easily removed as a single unit from the case for easier maintenance

Trellis Frame
High tensile steel trellis frame is small and light
Designed using 3-dimensional computer analysis to achieve the optimum stiffness balance for better handling
Narrow at the knees and feet for increased rider comfort and control

Single shock Rear Suspension
Aluminum gull-wing swingarm and offset, laydown single rear shock complement the frame design to create an integrated line flowing from the steering head to the rear hub
Short, compact frame and engine design allows the swingarm to be longer, which helps improve overall handling
Showa shock has adjustable preload and rebound damping and uses a free piston and two-stage damping valves for smooth action during initial compression that becomes much firmer near the end of the stroke for a more planted feel

Long-Travel Fork
41mm Inverted fork with stiff springs combines the best of off-road and sportbike-type suspension for excellent performance over a wide range of conditions
Tapered, relatively short outer tubes help provide the ideal stiffness balance to compliment chassis settings
Fork height, preload and rebound damping can all be adjusted to fine-tune the suspension to specific conditions or riding style

Triple Petal Design Brake Discs
Petal design rotors offer improved cooling and warp resistance
Same rotor design as found on the Ninja ZX™-6R and ZX™-10R supersport machines

Six-spoke wheels
Also found on the Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R; the six-spoke design requires much less material between spokes so that the rim thickness is thinner and overall wheel weight is reduced

Comfortable Cockpit
Each part of the two-piece seat was designed with a different thickness and firmness of foam to optimize comfort for both rider and passenger
Passenger seat and grab bars were designed to provide a natural seating position for added comfort
Easy-to-read instrument panel has a large analog tachometer and digital readout for the speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meters and clock. White LED backlighting provides increased visibility at night

Adjustable Windscreen
Three different settings, each 20mm apart, allows riders to adjust windscreen height to suit their preferences

2008 Harley-Davidsons

Harley-Davidson is celebrating its 105th birthday with 14 serialized, limited edition motorcycles with Anniversary copper and Vivid Black paint, special copper air cleaner covers, and exclusive badging.

Lost. Not only lost, but 2500 miles from home. I felt my heart pounding in my chest, my palms sweated, and my breath came in quick gasps. What to do? One simple solution. Roll on the throttle, let out the light and manageable clutch, and unleash a little more of the Twin Cam 96B's power. My worries faded like the blast from the exhaust coming out of the sporty shorty dual exhausts.

So why was I so excited about this particular bike when Harley-Davidson has 37 other 2008 models to choose from? Because the Rocker isn't your typical Harley. Stretched-out, slammed, with a fat back tire, wide rear fender and a look that pays homage to the hard tails of old, Harley-Davidson has moved away from its bread-and-butter style and rolls the dice with a motorcycle unlike any other in its vast stable.

A twist in fortune has taken me beyond the city limits of Baltimore, Maryland, and I've finally found some decent twisties to test the chassis of Harley-Davidson's 2008 Rocker. I was concerned that its 36.5-degree rake angle and 240mm rear tire would translate to sluggish performance in the turns. My worries were assuaged as the stretched out custom-styled bike with a 69.2-inch wheelbase stuck fast as I rode with rhythm, sweeping right, banking left, and giving it more gas. Getting separated from the pack of motojournalists ahead of me heading towards Harley-Davidson's York plant wasn't deliberate, but it gave me more time on the newest member of H-D's Softail family.

The 2008 Harley-Davidson Rocker has a fat backside like no other bike rolling off the York assembly line. H-D's intention with the Rockers was to create a bike with a slammed, hard tail custom look without the spine-jarring ride. Their first goal has been achieved. The wide sheetmetal rear-fender sits one inch off the 18-inch rear tire, so close that you can't stick a finger between the two. You'd think that the fender would scrape the tire if you hit a good bump, but it is attached directly to the swingarm, eliminating the need for frame supports. The fender is synchronized with the rear tire so that they "rock" together. And though they move in unison, it's still up to the hidden horizontal coil-over belly shocks mounted below the powertrain to soak up bumps in the road in typical Softail fashion.

And though Harley claims that it's supposed to deliver a smooth, comfortable ride, the shocks are stiff, making the ride taxing on the tail bone. I hopped up and down on the springs with my 215 lbs while the bike was in motion, but the rear suspension's 3.4 inches of travel barely budged. Because the angle of the seat is sloped more than other Harleys, it left me riding on the back of the saddle. The end of the leather seat is curved up to form a pocket for riders, but it also forms a lip that pushed against the base of my spine. By the time I completed the 60 mile trek to York, my backside tingled like it had fallen asleep. But long-distance hauls isn't what the Rocker has been made for. Cruising down the avenue and turning heads while you're doing it is more its style.

How do I know it's a head turner? Because both times I stopped, the guys I asked directions from couldn't take their eyes off of it. The questions came out me fast. "That's a Harley?" "How's it ride with that big back tire?" "What year is that?" The guys asking the questions were from vastly different demographics. One was early twenties, almost certainly single since I didn't notice him wearing a wedding ring, and the other was a man approximately 60-years-old driving a pick-up. But their big-eyed reactions were equally enthusiastic.

The 26.2-inch seat height gives the Rocker a low center of gravity. That low altitude sacrifices a bit of lean angle and it doesn't take much to scrape a peg. The forward foot controls felt ideally placed for my 6' frame, but reaching for the hand controls left me without much bend at the elbow. The independent V-Bar handlebars sitting on five-inch curved risers place the hand controls easily within reach, but the ergos left me leaned back slightly and that required me to ride stiff-armed. First, my arms had to work a little extra to support some of the weight of my upper body. Second, I had to flex a little muscle and hold on tight because the Rocker has a strong pull on the low end of the powerband. The rigid-mounted 1584cc powerplant with H-D's ESPFI helps the bike launch off the line with a hearty growl exiting the chrome shorty dual pipes that let the cages know that I was rolling by.

Besides the hard tail look, the 2008 Rocker has other eye-catching styling cues you may not notice at first glance. The finned cast-aluminum oil tank below the seat is a modern spin on a classic look. The five-gallon fuel tank has been stretched so it is thinner and longer. Even the trademark logo looks different on the Rocker. The H-D Bar and Shield sits slightly recessed in the tank, giving the embossed logo a 3-D effect. On top of the tank sits a low-profile console with a speedo mounted on it. The housing for the speedometer is speed-shop style and was much easier for a rider to take a quick glance at while rolling down the freeway at 70 mph than flush-mounted speedos used on other Harley platforms.

On the backside, there's no center tail lamp on the rear fender. The Rocker instead has a pair of multi-purpose bullet-style LED turn signals mounted to the side of the rear fender that serve as stop, turn and taillights, a trend that follows the lead of custom show bikes I've seen before. I speculated whether the signals would be visible enough from behind until I followed another rider on our way back into Baltimore, but when they signaled or stopped, the LEDs were bright and easily seen.

H-D didn't overdo it with the chrome on the Rocker. It's a Harley, so of course it's got a fair share of the shiny stuff, like the pipes and air cleaner cover. The motorcycle has a slew of powder coated components in what Harley-Davidson calls Satin Stainless Metallic. The list is long - fork lowers, triple clamps, bullet headlamp nacelle, handlebar riser, swingarm, hand controls, belt guard, oil tank and engine trim. It's not bright and shiny like chrome, but it's not meant to be. H-D wants the bike to have a rawer finish.

By Bryan Harley

2007 GSX-R750 vs Daytona 675

What does the Triumph Daytona 675 and Suzuki GSX-R750 have in common with Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears? Besides that we all want to dress up in leather body suits and flog them mercilessly. Bad jokes aside: At one time or another they've all been the toast of the town during their heyday but now find themselves' cast aside with no place that they truly belong. We can't help our fallen gal-pals but we can run an intervention for the bikes. Think of this test as a sort of rehab we'll call Asphalt Anonymous.

Twenty-two years ago the GSX-R750 defined the modern day sportbike. In the decades that followed the Gixxer seven-fifty, as it is known by true Suzuki enthusiasts, collected numerous race wins within both the amateur and professional road race ranks and tallied four AMA Superbike championships at the hands of Yoshimura Suzuki's Mat Mladin.

Less than a half decade has passed since Superbike championship grids around the world were dominated by 750cc In-line Fours. In 2003 the 1000cc big-bores crashed the 750cc Superbike party and replaced their smaller siblings in the premier AMA and FIM World Superbike series. Fortunately for consumers, Suzuki has continued to develop this amazing platform, updating its once dominant steed even though there is no longer a top-tier professional class for it to compete in.

The Suzuki GSX-R750 is the sole survivor of that extraordinary era of racing but there is another great motorcycle that has suffered a similar fate - the Triumph Daytona 675. Only a year ago the tenacious Triple swept almost every Supersport comparison conducted in America, including our own Supersport Shootout IV, only to be left out of all but one test the following year. First it was banned from competing in Supersport competition, then it was blackballed by the media for one reason or another. Suddenly, it seems as though the Triumph has fallen from grace.

Although the descent of the Daytona is not as notorious as the demotion of the Gixxer, it still represents an injustice to those who have sampled the goods and know what the bike is capable of. We are all aware of what it did against the Supersport class but how would it fare against a 750? Last year the Triumph enjoyed a displacement advantage which left the competition feeling a bit slighted when the results came in. In the interest of keeping things fair we've tossed it into the mix with the only legitimate 750 sportbike on the market today: The Suzuki GSX-R750. With no clear class to call their own we created one for them. Ladies and gentleman, welcome to our inaugural Exiles Comparo between the 2007 Suzuki GSX-R750 and the Triumph Daytona 675.

Although these once mighty warriors may have exiled to a purgatory of canyon rides, club races and track days there's no reason to pity them because they are still two of the best motorcycles on the market. Infineon Raceway, in the hills of Sonoma, California, and a multitude of backroads surrounding our Southern Oregon HQ would serve as our playground while we sampled these forbidden fruit from Triumph and Suzuki. The streets around MCUSA HQ would allow us to compare their goodness as daily rides, while the 12-turn, 2.22-mile road course would be the ideal locale to see if the Hinckley, England-made Triumph has what it takes to topple its larger veteran Japanese rival in a controlled environment. To ensure a level field of play, we slung on Dunlop 208GP-A spec race tires which would enable us to extort the full knee-on-deck performance of this dynamic duo during an afternoon at the track with Pacific Track Time.

By Adam Waheed

2007 Superbike Smackdown IV

You've heard the names before: Suzuki GSX-R1000, Yamaha R1, Honda CBR1000RR and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. You've seen them at race tracks around the world, on television or maybe even in person. They have passed you on the freeway or the back straight at a trackday, usually on one wheel but occasionally on two. The howl of their motor is intoxicating and the allure of their legendary power-to-weight ratio is hard to resist. They are called the open class sportbike and it's important to give them the respect they demand or you might not walk away.

That's where's Superbike Smackdown IV comes in to do the dirty work for you. If all goes as planned, this bike review should shed some light on both the inherent technological goodness and inescapable performance decadence that literbikes exemplify. These 150-horsepower brutes are enjoyable to ride, though newbies and small animals alike tremble at the mention of their name while others like yourselves are drawn to them like a bug to the light. The prospect of wringing one of these bikes out on a favorite back road is too much to resist and because they are designed for maximum racetrack performance, they're the closest thing any of us mortals will ever get to riding a true Superbike or MotoGP machine. Unfortunately, the majority of riders will never even scrape a peg-feeler on the street, unless it's that regrettable moment just before low-siding into the ditch and that really is a shame.

Engineers labor for years, paring away grams of unnecessary material from every single chassis component as they eek another couple horsepower out of the lightest, most compact engine designs in history, so it's only right that we give them a proper flogging on the track as well as the street. In the previous three Smackowns we used trackdays for testing and received some grief from the readers and OEMs for not using a controlled environment to conduct our evaluations. Honestly, we agreed with everyone. This time around we're stepping up our game and bringing in not one, but three guest testriders who helped us push the bikes harder and farther than we ever have before.

The wrecking crew for SSIV embodies the same impudent attitude which makes these open classers simultaneously the most misunderstood and most coveted sportbikes on the market. Headlining our entourage is two-time AMA Superstock champion "Top" Jimmy Moore, with AFM road-racing championship contender and owner of Pacific Track Time Michael Earnest along with US Stunt Riders' front man Brian "BS" Steeves rounding out our crew of specialists. This trio of pros joined your two favorite MCUSA Joes, Duke "Big Daddy" Danger and your's truly for a week of apex-strafing, brake pad-baking urban lawlessness and seriously felonious canyon-carving misconduct as we immersed ourselves in clutch roasting debauchery that will forever be known as Superbike Smackdown IV.

This quintet of riders put a quartet of liter bikes to task on two different race tracks and unleashed their fury on a variety of unsuspecting roads in search of the answer to the most significant question of this riding season: Which of these unruly beasts is the superlative Japanese superbike on the market today?

The first track action took place at the famed Buttonwillow Raceway (check out track map here), for the second consecutive year, with Racers Edge Performance tire service on hand to keep fresh Michelin Pilot Power Race rubber on our test units. OEM buns were spooned on for our street ride, which took place on two separate roads. Highway 58 outside of Buttonwillow, California, afforded an opportunity to avoid the city sprawl, while a run up Malibu Canyon gave us a mid-week taste of the Santa Monica Mountains with only one real poseur struttin' his stuff for us at the Rock Store. Then we spun a few more laps during a Fastrack track day at California Speedway just to make sure we didn't miss anything important.

Three-Wheeled, Hybrid Scooter: 170 MPG

Vespa is almost synonymous with scooters these days. So when Piaggio, who makes Vespas, decides to go hybrid, it's a very big deal. But it's a bigger deal when the hybrid technology is doing things that we've never seen before.

We've been anxiously awaiting more news and especially an estimated arrival date for Piaggio's hybrid scooters, which include scooters from the Vespa brand as well. Perhaps Piaggio was reading our last post on the subject, because we've noticed more and more news on the HyS (hybrid scooter) models. Now, we can share a few pictures with you as well. Best of all, Cycle World is saying that they have been told by Piaggio that the MP3 HyS will be in production by the end of 2008!

Although Piaggio has been testing a version of the MP3 hybrid which sports a 250cc engine, the production model is expected to use the 125 instead. However, that is not all bad, because the electric motor adds up to 85 percent better acceleration and possibly a bit more on the top end too, at least we hope. There is a cool switch on the dash of the scooter which allows for more economic travel or for more performance. Currently, three 12-volt lead acid batteries are being used, but lithium ion batteries are being tested as we speak.

Also of note is the 50cc version of this powertrain, which is installed in the Vespa LX model. This beast gets only 24 volts of power, but can still perform like its 125cc larger sibling. Best of all, the machine can return up to 142 mpg while emitting only 40 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The 50cc model can travel at 15 mph for 12 miles on electric power alone while the larger 125cc version can do 25 mph for 12 miles on battery power.

This is great news for anyone who's been waiting to purchase one of these vehicles. Waiting until the end of 2008 could prove to be a challenge!

Scooters are fuel efficient all on their own, so when you add in an advanced regenerative and plug-in hybrid electric system, you should expect some serious results. And that's what we're seeing. Based on the way these scooters are driven, they can achieve up to 170 miles per gallon of gasoline. Because the electric motors can be programmed to produce various amounts of torque, the new hybrid scooter system (HyS) from Piaggio can also be molded to individual preferences.

The scooter can be run in one of three hybrid settings, allowing for various levels of acceleration or efficiency, and the scooter can also be run in a much less powerful all-electric mode. The electric batteries will be charged via regenerative breaking as with most other hybrids, but they can also be charged via a wall outlet, allowing for up to 12 miles of travel on electric power alone. When used in concert with the gasoline engine, the electric engine boosts acceleration by 85%. The batteries can be fully charged in about three hours.

The HyS system will be available in the Vespa LX, the Piaggio X8, and the supremely awesome MP3. The MP3, a leaning three-wheeled scooter, allows for superior traction and much higher speeds than Piaggio's other models, making it an excellent option for folks who are actually interested in replacing their car.

Unfortunately, Piaggio hasn't released any information on price yet. But we're waiting patiently, as this is one of the coolest scooters we've seen in a long time. And as plug-in hybrids with zero-emissions modes go...this one might beat a lot of major manufacturers to the punch.

Monday, July 16, 2007

2008 Hayabusa

Suzuki Strikes Back with All New Hayabusa for 2008!
2007-06-27 19:15
Kawasaki better look over their shoulders, because Suzuki's back with an all new 'Busa for 2008. Nope, it wasn't Photoshop, and yes – the Internet leaked it again!

Retaining much of its signature look and shape, Suzuki hopes their new '08 model will to put an end to Kawasaki's powerful ZX-14s positioning in this Hyper Bike category. Will it be enough? 2008 is shaping up to be a big year for the motorcycle industry, so stay tuned!

Suzuki brought out the new 2008 Suzuki Hayabusa and there is more displacement, 1340cc versus the old 1299cc. Like the new B-King, the rider can choose between engine settings, but the Hayabusa rider has a choice of three instead of the B-King’s two, there’s probably something labeled “light speed” on the Hayabusa.

A Hayabusa with more power is certainly no surprise and if you are riding a ZX-14 you may want to check your mirrors, objects may be a lot closer than they appear, … and about to pass. We’ll see.

Full features and specifications from Suzuki press release follow:

Redesigned instrument cluster now features four analog meters for speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge and water temperature with a new S-DMS mode indicator, gear position indicator and adjustable engine rpm indicator.

New Engine
New 1340cc, DOHC liquid-cooled engine with 16-valves, Twin Swirl Combustion Chambers provides 11% higher performance and smoother operation

New Suzuki SDTV fuel injection system with dual injectors per cylinder and ram air intake with large volume airbox
New S-DMS (Suzuki Drive Mode Selector) allows the rider to choose from three different engine settings depending on riding conditions or rider preferences

New lightweight titanium intake and exhaust valves with narrow 14 degree valve angle for high combustion chamber efficiency

New lightweight aluminum alloy pistons feature a revised shape and a higher compression ratio of 12.5:1 for maximum performance in all conditions.

SCEM (Suzuki Composite Electro-chemical Material) plated cylinders minimize cylinder size and improve heat dissipation and new hydraulic cam chain tensioner for reduced mechanical noise

New ventilation holes at the cylinder skirt for reduced pumping losses and increased performance
High efficiency curved radiator now features dual electric fans controlled by the ECM for increased cooling capacity. Oil cooler now has 10 rows cores for increased heat dissipation.

New large volume 4-2-1-2 exhaust system with a large capacity catalyzer, dual triangular canisters and closed loop system that meets Euro 3 and Tier 2 regulations

New Shot-peened chrome-moly steel connecting rods for maximum durability
Ion plating treatment utilizing PVD (physical vapor deposit) method is applied to piston rings providing a smoother surface treatment for increased durability, reduced friction loss and reduced oil consumption
Slick shifting 6 speed transmission working in conjunction with an innovative back torque limiting clutch for smooth and controlled downshifts

New Chassis
All new aggressive aerodynamic fairing design with low drag coefficient retains it’s signature Hayabusa look and features an updated, muscular look to work with the new more powerful engine and updated chassis
New fully adjustable inverted front fork featuring DLC coated inner tubes for minimal friction resistance and outstanding suspension performance over a variety of riding conditions.

Fully adjustable rear shock absorber with a 43mm piston and 14mm rod diameter
Lightweight and rigid twin-spar aluminum frame minimizes weight while maintaining high torsional strength
New bridged aluminum alloy swingarm features a new cross-sectional shape for increased rigidity and to cope with improved rear tire grip and increased engine output

New radial-mount front brake calipers for maximum braking performance and allows for smaller 310mm front brake rotors
resulting in reduced unsprung weight and improved handling

Lightweight single piston rear brake caliper working in conjunction with a new larger 260mm rear brake disc
Newly designed wheels mounted with high performance Bridgestone BT-015 tires for unmatched handling and control

Passenger seat and rear subframe are lowered for improved passenger comfort
Fuel tank height is lowered to allow riders helmet to tuck in and windscreen height is increased for improved wind protection and optimum aerodynamic efficiency with the rider in place.

Newly designed vertically stacked twin headlights provide increased light intensity, improved light distribution and match the elegant flow of the new Hayabusa styling.

LED taillight utilizes a double lens structure with a clear inner lens and a red outer lens for maximum visibility and a high quality finish

Specifications HAYABUSA
Model Number GSX1300RK8
Type Sportbike
Warranty 12 month unlimited mileage limited warranty.
Suggested Retail $11999
Engine 1340cc, 4-stroke, four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve, TSCC
Bore & Stroke 81.0 x 65.0mm
Compression Ratio 12.5:1
Fuel System Fuel Injection
Lubrication Wet sump
Ignition Digital/Transistorized
Starter Electric
Transmission 6-speed, constant mesh
Final Drive #530 chain
Overall Length 2195mm (86.6 in.)
Overall Width 740mm (29.1 in.)
Overall Height 1170mm (46.1 in.)
Seat Height 805mm (31.7 in.)
Ground Clearance 120mm (4.7 in.)
Wheelbase 1485mm (58.5 in.)
Dry Weight 220 kg (485 lbs)
Suspension Front Inverted telescopic, coil spring, fully adjustable spring preload, adjustable rebound damping and adjustable compression damping
Suspension Rear Link-type, gas/oil damped, fully adjustable spring preload, adjustable compression & rebound damping
Brakes Rear Single hydraulic disc
Tires Front 120/70-ZR-17
Tires Rear 190/50-ZR-17
Fuel Tank Capacity 21 liter (5.5 gal.) 20.0 liter (5.3 gal.) CA. model
Color Orange/Black, Black/Gray, Blue/Black

200bhp, 1350cc inline-four from the B-King!
It’s no secret that the Suzuki B-King is inching closing to becoming a production reality – we expect a formal announcement from Suzuki within the next two months, and the bike should be in showrooms by the end of this year.

But the bigger news is the fact that the 2008 Hayabusa will actually use the B-King’s engine. Earlier speculation that the next-generation Hayabusa might use an 1100cc, inline six-cylinder engine (taken from the Stratosphere concept…) has been proved wrong. The 2008 Hayabusa will use the B-King’s 1350cc inline-four, which is likely to pack more than 200 horsepower!

Other news on the new Hayabusa is that it’ll have a totally redesigned chassis, fresh styling (say goodbye to the current machine’s bulbous lines…), and radial brakes with optional ABS. Also, like with the 2007 GSX-R1000, the 2008 Hayabusa is likely to get rider-selectable fuel-injection mapping, which will reduce power in tricky road/weather conditions.

BMW HP2 Enduro

2006 BMW HP2 - Bike Test
By JC Hilderbrand

The question of what you would do if you won the lottery is something that everyone has probably contemplated at one point or another. The answers to that question are as individual as the people who ask it, but when it comes to motorcycle freaks, there's no doubt as to the answer. Buy bikes - lots of bikes. Big bikes, mini bikes, street bikes, dirt bikes, expensive bikes, cheap bikes, new bikes, old bikes, yada-yada-yada. You get the idea, and you know exactly what I'm talking about because the fact that you've taken the time to find this website and read this article obviously pegs you as a two-wheeled freak.

Well, I was mulling over the lottery issue a couple days ago (I seem to do that at least once a week) and, to my surprise, the answer was immediate and it involved something I hadn't consciously admitted to having a hard-on for. I'm the kind of guy who can appreciate expensive, high-quality European engineering: but if given the choice, I would opt for a burly, extra-cab, suspension-lifted, super-swamper, Power-Stroke Ford over a sleek, leather-lined Mercedes. I will never purchase anything from Dolce & Gabbana or shod myself in alligator-skin loafers. I can hardly spell Gucci and can't pronounce Louis Vuitton the same way twice. Don't get me wrong, because I think fine Euro products are sweet, but basically my interests have always lied elsewhere. Not anymore.

During our dual-sport adventure I struck up a hot-blooded relationship with a sultry seducer. Two short days was all it took to consume my fantasies and I've found myself lusting after the tall, long-legged German in the weeks since.

"The mind-blowing 105 bhp H2 Enduro, BMW Motorrad's first pure dirt bike, is here," the Germans boast in typical PR style.

Yes it is, but BMW's introduction has two statements that are a bit misleading. First is the factory's claim of 105 ponies, which is actually a still respectable 92 hp at the rear wheel. Interestingly, it made only 87 hp when we first measured it during dyno testing at Hansen's Motorcycles with the stock Metzeler Karoo dual-purpose knobbies, 5 less than when equipped with a more street-biased Trail Wing we tried afterward.

Secondly, while the HP2 is undoubtedly the most dirt-oriented machine to ever come from BMW, let's establish right away that this is not a pure dirt bike. It's too big, too heavy, and for cripe's sake, it's street legal. Call me picky, but that automatically disqualifies any two-wheeled machine from being coined a "pure" dirt bike.

Now before you BMW die-hards go clicking your way to the closest Beemer support forum and start flaming us, let's get into the reasons why the HP2 is so great, just the way it is.

Once taking delivery of the new Indigo Blue/Alaska Gray Beemer (the only color scheme available), we had to decide what kind of testing regimen to put it through in order to sort out just what this machine is capable of. Touted as an off-road bike, the first instinct was to take it out to our awesome network of local trails and flog it to our hearts content, but we ultimately decided against that for several reasons. The first sign of trouble was while backing the 420-pound (tank empty) beast out of the van. It's heavy.

Once we caught our breath, like any good motorcyclist would do, we immediately hopped on and bounced up and down to test the suspension, but performing the new-bike ritual proved harder than expected. Upon swinging a leg over the supposed 36.2 inch seat height we were unsuccessful in finding solid ground on the opposite side. Finally, after tiring of hopping from one foot to the other, we put the bike back on its kickstand and further inspected it visually. The next concern is that the bike is nearly devoid of crash protection. That might be acceptable on a normal bike, but for one that costs $20 thousand, it made us more nervous than usual.

So, with images of pruning back flora on our favorite single track with the protruding cylinders, we opted to skip out on the super tight stuff and focus on the twisty mountain roads, both paved and un-paved, where the HP2 is more likely to be ridden. The wide, low-profile knobbies of the Karoos would be far superior on pavement than moto tires, but they also looked like they could fare well in the dirt. In both cases, we were correct. Riding a street-legal off-roader has rarely been this much fun.

"With the big knobby tire on the back I was able to get it to step out on the tight turns, but I didn't dare go full-moto on this thing," says Editorial Director and person responsible for its safe return, Ken Hutchison. "If it was mine, I would love to ride it like a supermoto, but since it was a test bike I had to hold my mullet instincts in check."

With an 1170 cubic centimeter engine at our disposal, we couldn't resist the idea of cranking the Beemer open on a long strip of highway. We had the feeling that this bike would be awesome as a dual-sport which - I'll spare you the suspense - it is. We spent two full days on the freeway, highways, improved gravel, unimproved gravel and 4x4 Jeep roads with an occasional venture into unmarked trails of southern Oregon and northern California that proved its dual-sport status.

Being the directionally challenged and socially needy guys that we are, we enlisted the help of Jeff Moffet from Oregon Motorcycle Adventures (OMA) along with local legend Dave Riant with his trusty 2005 R1200GS, an established world traveler and BMW aficionado, to serve as our guides. MotoUSA's Ken Hutchison and I would take turns switching between the HP2 and a legalized ATK 450 on loan from Oregon's Best Motorsports while our accompanying photographer, Tyler Maddox, borrowed a DR-Z400E from Moffet's rental company.

The collection of bikes gave us a terrific picture of where the HP2 would stack up in the dual-sport world. The ATK was basically a motocrosser with a street kit, the two OMA Suzukis have become a staple of dual-sporting enthusiasts with a slight dirt bias, and the GS has more of a street application on the high-dollar end of things. It was the perfect lineup to shake down the radical HP2 with.

The R1200GS has been BMW's flagship adventure-touring bike and has been the only real option for Beemer riders looking to go off-road (unless you count the single-cylinder F650GS and GS Dakar). The R1200GS Adventure ups the off-road ante with a longer-travel suspension and larger fuel tank. As it is, the GS is a competent off-road bike but it can quickly get out of hand in gnarly dirt stuff. However, when designing the High Performance Enduro, BMW engineers decided to take the strong points of the GS and incorporate them into the much lighter HP2. For a rough breakdown, basically what they took was the engine, driveshaft and variations of the brakes, wheels, tires and front end bodywork. Colossal differences in the two machines are found primarily in the frame design and suspension components.

In the week prior to our nearly 400-mile journey, we got acquainted with the BMW through a regular routine of daily commuting and office-escaping lunch break expeditions. It only took one or two rides before we started remembering all kinds of different errands that had to be taken care of; some of which were fictional and others quite real.

"When I first threw a leg over the HP2 I was thinking it was going to be a real handful since I could barely reach my tippy-toe with one foot," says the 5'8" Ken after his initiation period. "After riding the bike for a week, I really didn't care that I couldn't touch the ground easily because it's so damn much fun riding this bike."

While Ken has ridden a plethora of BMWs, I have a special bond with the HP2 because, aside from being my first, the German and I were introduced at a unique time of my life. After waiting seemingly forever until I could summon the courage to bend over and take it from the DMV, I finally took my endorsement test on the motorcycle I feel most comfortable with - a big dirt bike, the HP2. I passed, which likely makes me the only person in the U.S. that can claim they got their motorcycle license on one of only 250 hand-assembled HP2s imported this year. Hell, taking a drivers test on any bike worth $20 large has to be an anomaly.

While I was at the DMV a scruffy fellow manning a petition booth commented, "Nice bike, too bad it's not a Harley."

Smiling, I avoided the impending memoir of a life-long Hell's Angels wannabe with a quick, "Yeah, I get that a lot." But deep inside I wanted to slap my leather glove across that mangy beard and stomp his balls with my Kommando boots, all the while explaining that my behavior was a precise demonstration of what the HP2 will do to any Hog the exact moment it encounters that first patch of gravel, or a twisty road.

Utilizing virtually the same engine as the R1200GS, the HP2 gets its 92 ponies and 74 lb-ft of torque from the pair of horizontally opposing cylinders of BMW's popular Boxer engine. Each cylinder has a bore and stroke of 101mm x 73mm and an 11:1 compression ratio. Dual 36mm intake valves and 31mm exhaust valves control the flow of fuel and emissions for the air/oil cooled Flat-Twin. The motor has been modified slightly from the GS to assist in weight reduction so crucial to the off-road world. Where the GS is intended to spend the majority of its time on the pavement, the HP2 is not, and so the GS's balancer shaft has been removed with little concern for a rider's numb butt.

"It was quite a surprise that the motor churns out as much power as it does," Ken admits. "The engine operates without the counter-balancer so it does vibrate a bit more than the GS does, but it also has more bottom-end snort. When combined with the lighter chassis, it actually makes the HP2 feel much more powerful. You can wheelie the bike easily and lofting the front wheel over obstacles is actually possible. You are not often going to be able to pull that off on a GS."

The only other differences are the addition of a splash guard on the air intake which is located above the right-side cylinder, and a remapping of the ECU (Engine Control Unit) for added horsepower. The exhaust system is a mixture of old and new with a smaller, 4.4-pound lighter muffler that is connected to a GS manifold.

The HP2 takes anywhere between 300 and 750 miles to break in and ours was delivered with exactly 700 miles on the odometer, so early qualms with power output, notchy shifting and the like were of no concern. All of the gearing ratios are the same between the two bikes, with the off-road HP2 getting reinforced bearings in the 6-speed transmission for additional durability. Shifting the shaft-driven Beemer is clunky compared to traditional chain-driven off-roaders, but Ken verified that it was nothing out of the ordinary for BMWs.

In a twisted sense, the HP2 is like a Honda CRF50 on steroids. Not Barry Bonds' does-he/does-he-not roids, we're talking about a blatant ball-shrinking, vein-popping Jose Canseco juice-fest. They rule opposite ends of the size spectrum, have disproportionate radiator shrouds, identical exhaust notes, stubby front fenders, tamed-down knobbies and motors hang off the front of the chassis rather than being cradled.

A tubular-steel trellis frame utilizes the motor as a stressed-member as it dangles beneath a steering head that offers a very mellow 29.5 degrees of rake and lengthy 5 inches of trail. The design is based on the chassis used on the factory R900R Dakar Rally bikes used from 1999-2001. In the dirt bike world, the HP2 is very long with its 63.4 inch wheelbase. The elongated body and relaxed rake angle make for a very stable platform at speed. For dirt bike applications, this immediately points to desert racing.

Off-road racing stud-muffin Jimmy Lewis has been an intricate part of developing the Beemer and recently guided the HP2 to a seventh-place finish in the Pro Motorcycle class at the SCORE Baja 500. The dominant desert machine over the past decade has been Honda's XR650R, which has 27.8 degrees of rake and 4.3 inches of trail for comparison, and the Honda's wheelbase is more than five inches shorter. Even the GS has a more compact stance of 59.8 inches.

Riding the HP2 is comfortable with a seat plusher than some off-road bikes, but more firm than street tourers like the GS. The peg height makes sitting very easy on the knees and the wide handlebars are comfortably placed as well, though a bit distant for off-roading. You do sit down into the bike more than on most dirt machines, and the large by design and small in capacity, 2.9 gallon fuel tank stretches your groin if you try to get really forward. That isn't much of a problem, however, since the cylinders inhibit movement to the front of the bike. Aggressive riding positions are basically limited to standing since an attempt to throw your leg out in a corner results in bruised shins. Riders are forced to move their leg directly outwards thanks to the Boxer configuration, which creates a very different balance point than normal riding technique.

"The jugs hanging off each side of the Boxer motor are always the first thing off-road riders brought up when they took a peek at the HP2," says Ken. "Despite that it was caked in dirt and grime, had just been ridden through Hell and back, people still whined about the cylinder heads. Get over it. If you crash a bike, bad things happen so be prepared. The HP2 was pretty durable in our test, although no major incidents took place. The optional BMW cylinder-head guards (and emergency kit for leaky valve covers) are highly recommended.

"The riding position is excellent for my taste," Kenny continues. "The bars are wide and the riding position doesn't put too much weight on my wrists. The seat was a little bit stiff over the long haul, but it is, first and foremost, an off-road machine, so you shouldn't spend a lot of time sitting in the saddle anyway."

Unlike many dirt bikes, the HP2 gives riders the luxury of keeping track of their speed with a simple analog speedometer. A clean, minimalist digital display to the right of the speedo offers gear indication, engine temp, trip information, fuel range and warning signals. The hydraulic clutch is smooth and, with such a torquey motor, we never really had to abuse it off-road. Brake levers were very effective as well, with the steel-braided front brake line and rubber rear hose contributing to good rider feedback.

Both the front brake lever and rear brake pedal are adjustable. The hand lever uses a set screw to tailor the distance between the lever and hand grip. A folding spacer on the rear pedal is intended to offer variation for standing and seated riding. We tried it both ways, but found that leaving the spacer in place for the standing position worked best for all applications. A dual-piston, single-action caliper pinch a single 305mm front rotor and a 264mm rear.

"The brakes actually work really well on the HP2," notes Ken. "The front binder is plenty powerful on the street and offers up a decent amount of feel which makes it decent in the dirt as well. The rear brakes lock up pretty easy on the dirt but seemed to be good enough on the street where there was at least some resistance offered up from the asphalt." Much of the rear end's impulse to lock up on the dirt was attributed to the mild Karoo tire.

Suspension-wise, BMW has fitted a 45mm inverted fork with 10.6 inches of travel instead of the Telelever system used on the rest of BMW's Boxer bikes. For adjustments, it has a clicker at the bottom of the fork legs for traditional compression damping and one at the top for travel-dependent compression damping. There is no spring preload or rebound damping adjustments. While the Telelever has anti-dive properties, the HP2's conventional long-travel fork suffers from heavy diving when the throttle is chopped or under braking. Despite this, performance on highway and during moderate off-road use is very good and extremely comfortable. Stiffening the fork to the point that it could handle larger impacts and resist diving only made the front end intolerably harsh at lower speeds and over smaller obstacles like the imbedded rocks common to gravel roads.

The pitching front end and intermediate knobby on the tubeless 90/90-21 front meat gives a squirmy feel on the pavement when riding hard. The 140/80-17 rear tire was also a bit vague on the highways, but both tires did a decent job of making the transition from street to dirt, though we'd opt for a more aggressive knobby if riding primarily off-road.

BMW joined forces with Continental Automotive Systems to create the HP2's innovative air shock. At just over five pounds, the shock looks enormous, but the concept is simple. Instead of having the usual independent adjustments for preload and compression and rebound damping, the trick shock instead has adjustment for its air volume that varies the ride height while also having an effect on both compression and rebound damping. According to BMW, "adjusting the air pressure to the rider's weight is enough to ensure the optimum balance of compression and rebound damping." A dial on the shock can be switched from "Sport" to "Competition," which varies the internal valving for better action when the bike is being hammered off-road.

We love the idea of an air-only shock, but the adjustment and application of the technology wasn't all we were hoping for. The problem we ran into wasn't so much that the shock couldn't be pumped up to meet the rigors of off-road, but that to do so raised the seat height to oxygen-starving elevations. BMW uses another simple concept to adjust the ride height. Keeping an eye on the bubble level mounted on the right side of the frame where your knee would normally rest, a rider can adjust rear sag without taking any measurements. Simply add air to the shock to raise the rear end and bleed air to lower it. Centering the bubble for my 190 pounds required such a towering seat height that my 5'11" frame had no chance of comfortably touching the ground, never mind Ken. BMW does offer an optional seat that lowers the height by 0.8 inches, which we would have loved to try out.

"The suspension is pretty soft for an off-road machine but it sure makes for a nice ride when you're logging miles on the chopped-up mountain roads we chose for our dual-purpose journey," says Kenny. "If you plan on jumping this hog, you'll want to spend more time and effort sorting out the rear shock. The fork is soft too, but seems more willing to handle hits than the rear. Keep in mind we're talking about relatively small jumps here, nothing moto-sized. That would be plain crazy."

Wailing down a dusty power-line road or carving canyon highways hardly necessitate dropping a foot, but sooner or later you have to stop. Though I never thought I'd say this, I was ready to trade two wheels for four after 10 minutes of hitting every stop light on the way out of town. The additional air pressure turned small imperfections in the pavement from no-brainers to ass-painers. Off-road riding also suffered at lower speeds, though it did perform much better on sharp impacts due to the increased air volume available for compression. All told, I was much more willing to deal with soft suspension for the sake of comfort and plushness, to which Ken fully agrees. Both ends work well enough if kept within the boundaries of dual-sporting, but the suspension is a limiting factor of what the HP2 is capable of.

"Besides the overly tall seat height, the biggest gripe I had with the performance of the bike was that the suspension was a bit too plush for hard off-road riding," he says. "The good news is that with some more time and help from our BMW dealer, it sounds like we could have got it closer."

So what exactly is the HP2? In its current form, the bike will never pose a serious threat in the adventure-touring class because of its small fuel capacity, no luggage options and a shortage of comfort compared to other bikes in the class. Although we did not get to play with it, the BMW Motorrad Navigator II GPS unit is one aftermarket feature that is available for the HP2.

"My complaint on the street centered on the rider accommodations," moans Ken. "If the seat was a bit softer and there were a few BMW accessories in place like optional heated grips and hand guards, maybe a slightly taller windscreen as well, then this bike could well be one of the best multi-purpose rides on the adventure-touring market today."

The HP2 obviously isn't a motocross bike because of its weight, soft suspension, long wheelbase, shaft drive, horn and blinkers - not to mention the price tag. Tossing in the fact that its motor is about three times wider than any comparable bike puts a kibosh on the enduro angle. It's not a cruiser, not a sportbike, and not a standard either. It is, in fact, an unwonted yet undeniably phenomenal dual-sport. Our average fuel economy throughout our testing was a penny pinching 42.4 mpg. The lowest that we recorded was 37.1 mpg during a long stretch of hard off-road riding.

Our two-day test showcased the best of what this bike can do. It's fast and smooth on the paved sections and has the ground clearance to give those bulky jugs some breathing room on the trail. That same 12.6 inches of clearance allows the bike to be ridden aggressively off-road where the unique suspension components handle most everything you encounter with confidence so long as the pace is reasonable.

"In back-to-back rides with our tour guide's 2005 GS, the thing that both bikes had in common was soft suspension and a tall seat height that made dabbing a bit of a stretch for my stubby legs," says Ken. "It was easier to reach the ground on the GS but the extra weight negated any advantage when it came time to muscle the bike through some rough obstacles. I still had a lot more confidence in the HP2. The lighter weight and less bodywork to damage make it an easy choice when it is time to venture on the road less traveled."

The joy of riding this bike sneaks up on you, and it wasn't until a few days after our trip that Ken and I realized how badly we were itching to ride it again. It's no wonder BMW has a loyal following of adventuresome riders. The GS is a street rider's way of probing those hard to reach places, but the HP2 is the answer for off-roaders who want to leave their buddies in the dust when the going gets rough. BMW has opened the door for any serious dirt rider who can afford a $19,990 retail price to transform themselves into a modern day explorer. Now, if you'll excuse me, PowerBall is up to 25 million and my fetish for High Performance German beauties is growing stronger by the minute.