Sunday, April 27, 2008

Honda DN-01: Phantom of the Honda

What precisely is the point of the new Honda DN-01?

If there was a consistent theme running through the presentation of Honda's new DN-01, then this was it. Confusion first in exactly what the DN-01 is, or is meant to do: it looks more like a scooter than anything else, and it has a twist-and-go transmission so, as with any other scooter, you turn the twistgrip and ride away without having to worry about gears or clutch.

Scooter lookalike: the DN-01 is said to be aimed at 'techno early adopters who aren't motorcyclists', whoever they are
But its engine is very much a motorcycle unit, the easy-going if rather unexciting 680cc V-twin found in the Deauville tourer, detuned to a soporific but new-licence-friendly 33bhp, and final drive is by shaft rather than the belt commonly used on scooters. Between the two is a first for a two-wheeler: a fully variable, automatic transmission dependent on hydraulics rather than the usual belts and variable diameter pulleys. It's certainly clever, using a swash plate (a disc mounted centrally on the end of a drive shaft, tilted like a wobbling plate) to drive hydraulic pumps that in turn drive hydraulic motors to power the rear wheel. The swash plate's angle is varied by an ECU-controlled solenoid, effectively altering the gearing automatically.

Because of this unique transmission and the V-twin motor, among other reasons, the DN-01 is not really a scooter, according to Honda. But the bottom line is, you sit on it, you open the throttle and off it goes, and it won't matter to most people whether it's belts, hydraulics or witchcraft beneath the strange-looking bodywork.

It's easy enough to ride, a design aim I understand and happen to approve of. The transmission takes up power smoothly and the engine pulls quite strongly, with better acceleration than a Rolls-Royce Phantom… yes, without any sense of the absurd, we were told that the DN-01 has a superior 0-60mph time than the £250,000 luxury car. That's 5.8 seconds, if you're interested, which happens to be very slow for a middleweight motorcycle. But then it's not a motorcycle, says Honda, although it's not exactly a luxury car either, is it? And the Phantom will have it for top speed, should you ever meet one on the autobahn.

Still, the DN-01 steers very well and the ride quality is pretty good (but I doubt it's quite up to a Phantom's, which is probably why the car comparison was dropped at this point), although if you're above average height you have to duck to see the instruments because the tiny screen's only function appears to be masking them.

This will, however, relieve the backache tall riders seem to get, even after a short ride. Your legs are set well forward but the bars are close to the rider, so you feel as though you're leaning slightly backwards and, for me and others, it starts to hurt. You are also perched upright in the slipstream and even 70mph is hard work on the arms. Again, a Rolls-Royce Phantom does rather better.

You can, if you wish, alter the transmission to a sportier mode, which lets the engine rev higher, or switch to "manual", in which case a rocker on the left-hand bar lets you select from six virtual ratios. In practice, this is merely annoying because it's so nannying that you can't change down unless the engine is almost idling - try to select first from second, for example, at anything more than 8mph and it refuses.

It's not even unique: exactly the same functions have been available on the Suzuki Burgman 650 since 2002, using an electronically controlled conventional belt drive, but on that you're allowed to change down at any revs that won't destroy the engine, and even then the novelty wears off after 10 minutes. Apart from a little more crispness in the Honda's drive, you'd be unable to tell the difference, and it's no more efficient at power transmission than a variable belt system, yet it costs 50 per cent more to produce than a manual gearbox. Confused?

So who is the DN-01 for? Honda's marketing types say it is aimed at "techno early adopters who aren't motorcyclists" - an alleged species that buys stuff because it's technically interesting, and does so immediately in order to be different. The problem, in this instance, is that they'll first need to rush out and get their CBT (compulsory basic training) and bike licence, which rather takes the spontaneity out of it. Instead, it adds a heavy layer of exactly the sort of commitment I doubt these people have. If they have licences already then they're motorcyclists or scooterists and won't understand the DN-01.

It's also meant to look very cool, sufficiently so to sell to people who weren't previously interested in bikes. Again, we have the licence problem, but that's not the only drawback. Maybe this is because I'm coming at it from a motorcycle and scooter angle, but I think the DN-01 looks faintly ridiculous with someone on board stuck bolt upright in the middle of its long, low form, and certainly not cool. At best, it's interesting.

Scooter riders won't be the slightest bit interested because the DN-01 offers no wind or weather protection and has no storage space. As in none at all, not even a tiny glove compartment. But having told us about these super-trendy early adopters with handy bike licences but no interest in bikes, the marketing bods then explained that the DN-01 is so different, essentially they're releasing it to see who buys it. And that's why it has no storage space or optional luggage, because these would impose categories and preconceptions that would not allow it free rein to find its own niche. I think I got that right. I also think that sounds like confusion: rather than opening up possibilities, it closes them. The DN-01 might have been a trendy choice for recently bonus-rich city execs, except they can't fit a fat wallet in it, or it could have been a cool(ish) weekend-away tourer. As it is, Honda will never know.

As well as the lack of weather protection and storage, one other factor distinguishes the DN-01 from other scooters (let's face it, this is a maxi-scooter devoid of the advantages or the point of other maxi-scooters), and that's the price. It's cheaper than a Rolls-Royce, but it costs as much as a Honda Fireblade. To put this in perspective, the 'Blade has more storage space and better weather protection than a DN-01 and, as far as I'm concerned, it's much, much cooler. It's also an awful lot faster than a Phantom.

Monday, April 14, 2008

First ride: Honda DN-01 is a little confusing

By Marc Potter
Bike tests

extracted from MOTORCYCLENEWS

MCN editor Marc Potter has just ridden the new 680cc Honda DN-01 around Lake Como in northern Italy as part of the first group to test the bike.

He said: “Unfortunately Lake Como is covered in mist and rain so I have been gingerly pottering around trying my best to avoid mad Italian drivers and big manhole covers on corners.

See the launch of the DN-01 at the milan show
“I am pleased to reveal the new DN-01 is a really good motorcycle but I’m still very confused who is actually going to buy one. The bike looks as though it’s still a concept but it grows on you the more time you spend with it. However it feels like a confused scooter crossed with a cruiser.

“It’s very easy to ride in electronic manual mode or full automatic but it doesn’t seem to have enough punch to be a cruiser and no luggage carrying capacity to be a scooter.

“Before I became editor, I was a road tester for seven years and this is the first time I’ve ever ridden a bike for any period of time and not been sure what it’s all about or what it’s for. We’re going to do some more riding now and I’ll check in again later.”

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Meet Yarets


8 years and counting of touring for the 67year old deaf and mute Vladimir A. Yarets.

He is from Minsk, the capital of the Republic of Belarus, formerly USSR.

Why the "long ride"?
Believes his personality will be by right commemorated in the Guinness Book of world records. Vladimir is the first deaf person to have found determination and courage and set into a round-the-world trip on a motorbike.

He left his home and rode his motorcycle alone to over 40 countries and covered the total distance exceeding 100,000 miles since 27th of May 2000. And now he is on his way to China to enjoy the events of China Olympic Games.

The outstanding round-the-world trip started after traveling through the whole of Europe, he headed to Morocco and the Canaries. The journey resumed from an exotic point of the world map - Venezuela, whereupon Vladimir visited St Lucia Island and Puerto Rico. A ferry took him and his bike to the Dominican Republic, opening new directions for his trip - Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba. After that Belarusian adventurer set course to Florida, USA. Covering a country as vast as the States, certainly, took quite a while, however, Vladimir managed to visit every state except for Alaska and Hawaii.

A small American town Peoria turned out to be a tragic point of Vladimir Yarets's trip where he was forced to stay there for much longer than initially expected - almost a year. On the 13th October 2003, with foul weather raging and strong wind blowing furiously, Vladimir's bike crashed into a lorry. The traveler was picked up by local people and taken to the nearest hospital with numerous fractures. After hospital Vladimir continued his way to recovery in the house of one of his saviors, who kindly offered help. At the moment Vladimir has fully recovered and is determined to visit Australia and the whole of Asia in order to leave nothing separating him from the world record..


START MAY 27 2000 - results - MAY 18 2005
1. BELARUS * MINSK * 300 KM.
2. POLAND * 800 KM * 5 DAYS
3. GERMANY * 1400 KM * 16 DAYS
4. NETHERLANDS * 400 KM * 2 DAYS
5. BELGIUM * 400 KM * 2 DAYS
6. LUXEMBOURG * 100 KM * 2 DAYS
7. FRANCE * 4100 KM * 50 DAYS
8. UNITED KINGDOM * 3000 KM * 47 DAYS (ENGLAND—WALES—SCOTLAND)
9. IRELAND * 650 KM * 8 DAYS
10. NORTHERN IRELAND * 180 KM * 3 DAYS
11. ORKNEY ISLANDS (U.K.) * 10 KM * 1 DAY
12. SHETLAND ISLANDS (U.K.) * 60 KM * 10 DAYS
13. FAROE ISLANDS (DENMARK) * 25 KM * 3 DAYS
14. ICELAND * 1650 KM * 12 DAYS
15. ANDORRA * 80 KM * 21 DAYS
16. SPAIN * 1600 KM * 28 DAYS
17. PORTUGAL * 900 KM * 14 DAYS
18. GIBRALTAR (UK) * 80 KM * 4 DAYS
19. MOROCCO * 1400 KM * 23 DAYS
20. WESTERN SAHARA * 120 KM * 5 DAYS
21. CANARY ISLANDS (SPAIN) * 300 KM * 60 DAYS (SANTA CRUZ de TENERIFE)
22. VENEZUELA * 2500 KM * 181 DAYS (ISLA de MARGARITA)
23. ARUBA * 40 KM * 5 DAYS (CURACAO—BONAIRE, LESSER ANTILLES)
24. PUERTO RICO (USA) * 500 KM * 44 DAYS
25. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC * 650 KM * 30 DAYS
26. HAITI * 170 KM * 10 DAYS
27. JAMAICA * 800 KM * 40 DAYS
28. CUBA * 1600 KM * 132 DAYS
29. USA * 50 STATES * 54.000 KM * 651 DAYS * HURRAY!
30. HAWAII * HONOLULU (USA) * 30 KM * 23 DAYS
31. ALASKA (USA) * 3000 KM * 20 DAYS
32. CANADA * 11 + 6 PROVINCES * 32.000 KM * 270 DAYS (VANCOUVER ISLAND * NEWFOUNDLAND * NOVA SCOTIA * PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND)
33. MEXICO * 8640 KM * 46 DAYS * (BAJA CALIFORNIA) * 1800 KM * 6 DAYS
34. BELIZE * 1000 KM * 8 DAYS
35. GUATEMALA * 936 KM * 6 DAYS
36. USA* 50 STATES* HURRAY!!!+39 STATES+65.600 KM+802 DAYS*JUNE 30,2005


www.yarets.com

BikeAsia

A Regional Trade Show
BikeAsia 2008 is the first international exhibition on bicycle, motorcycle, accessories and components in Southeast Asia. It is a Regional show for a 500 million people who can reach Singapore within 5 hours flight and over a billion people within 8 hours. Thanks to the minimal visa requirements, its location in the middle of Asia and the high number of flight carriers in the area, Singapore is the ideal location to held the first edition of BikeAsia.

BikeAsia will become the new appointment for thousands of lovers and dealers of the 2 wheels sector. In a familiar environment, manufacturers from different countries will mingle together and will share ideas to improve the industry.

A Growing Market
Asia has the largest manufacturing base in the world for bicycles and motorcycles and it is also the largest consumer of these products. As per capita income increases rapidly in Asia, the desire to own better bicycles, motorcycles, accessories and to embody a lifestyle that expresses this new status increases as well. A new acquired conscience for the environment enhances further the interest for bicycles and motorcycles as choice mode of transport to reduce pollution and improve living conditions.

A New Show with an Illustrious Lineage
BikeAsia 2008 is at its first edition yet it can count on the wealth of experience of it's co-organizer partner, EICMA, which organizes the world's largest International Bicycles and Motorcycles show in Milano, Italy.

Thanks to this important contribution, BikeAsia 2008 will be a quality show with selected participants, which will contribute to enhance the image of bicycles and motorcycles in Asia.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

DN-01 Premium Experience



開催日:3/22(土)23(日)
開催場所:湊町リバープレイス(大阪市浪速区湊町1-3-1)

会場には、アクセサリーを装着するアクセサリーパッケージ車の展示や、試乗前には、「DN-01」の開発者より商品説明やお客様との記念撮影などが行なわれました。
GPSナビゲーションをはじめとする各種アクセサリーを装着した試乗車も準備し、先導のインストラクターに続き一般公道を約40分の試乗。タンデム試乗の方も多数お越しいただきました。

試乗前には先導するHonda安全運転インストラクターが、自己紹介をはじめ、コース状況や説明などブリーフィングを実施します。

ブリーフィングが終了すると、先導インストラクターに続き会場を出発。初めてのオートマチッククルーザー体験に期待をのせて、ショートツーリングのスタートです。


コースは、大阪ミナミの情報発信スペースである湊町リバープレイスをスタートし、大阪城近辺や御堂筋、道頓堀など大阪の観光名所を走行。どのエリアを走っても、DN-01は通行人やドライバーから注目の的。

ニューコンセプトのオートマチッククルーザー、DN-01の開発責任者も参加。開発責任者の宮崎氏(株式会社本田技術研究所二輪開発センター)が、自ら参加者にコンセプトやHFT、各部の操作方法を紹介。参加者の皆さんも興味津々です。

会場では、休憩スペースにて貴重な開発シーンの上映やアクセサリー装着車の展示、ドリンクサービスを実施。ドリームメイトが受付で、皆さんの来場をお待ちしています。