Back on the road again, and this time I’m out in Arizona with Yamaha North America, riding the recently updated 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 sport-tourer.
Tomorrow sees our group leaving Phoenix and heading up into Sedona, where the red earth and picturesque mesas should make for an epic backdrop to our full day of riding.
For those who don’t know, the FJR1300 is a model that Yamaha has been slowly evolving each model year, instead of making punctuated improvements every few years. This makes it a surprising machine for press launch, but it also happens to be an important one for us to evaluate.
The sport-touring segment is surprisingly hot right now, with 17% growth in the past year, thanks mostly to the Yamaha FJ-09. There are some who think that the sport-touring market is dead, supplanted by the adventure-sport category, yet for some veteran riders, the ethos of the Yamaha FJR1300 is ideal.
The big news for the 2016 model year is the addition of a new six-speed gearbox, which should make highway speeds a bit more friendly. We will also be keen to tryout the suite of electronics on the base model FJR1300A, and experience the electronic suspension on the FJR1300ES, both of which were on the 2015 models, but are new to us.
As usual, I will attempt to answer questions regarding the 2016 Yamaha FJR1300 from the road. We will have two days of riding on the machine, so that should be ample opportunity for A&R to get acquainted with this venerable sport-tourer, and give you the skinny on its qualities.
As before, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Yamaha personnel that are here with me in Arizona. So, pepper away.
If your childhood resembled anything like ours, well at least mine, it means hours were spent constructing toys out of a pile of part.
Whether it was gluing together scale models, rummaging through a pile of Lego bricks, or even just building blocks into massive structures, motorcyclist seems to sprout from kids who worked with their hands and had to use a bit of their imagination.
Well, now you can get back to the roots of your childhood, and add a splash of your current two-wheeled passion to the process, as erector set creator Meccano has created a motorcycle kit, in partnership with Ducati, which features the Monster 1200 S.
I will admit a bit of bias to this article, since I enjoy flogging my Ducati Hypermotard SP down the streets of Portland, Oregon on a regular basis.
It’s one of those machines that a brief stint on the press model loaner wasn’t nearly enough to whet my appetite, so I plunked down my hard-earned blogging dollars and made space in my garage for one.
For 2016, Ducati has updated the Hypermotard family with a 937cc engine that is now Euro4 compliant. Overall power hasn’t increased much on the new Ducati Hypermotard 939, but the engineers in Bologna have found some extra midrange torque, which suits the Hypermotard family’s urban punchiness better.
Subtle changes have been made to the plus-sized supermoto: a slightly longer exhaust can, the addition of an oil cooler, and revised body pieces can be spotted here and there.
More noticeable is the new paint scheme, which draws inspiration from the Ducati Corse effort in the MotoGP Championship. Otherwise, the basic formula that makes the Hypermotard such a fun bike to ride has remained.
Hopefully in the coming weeks Ducati USA will have us hopping a leg over the new Hypermotard 939, and we can tell you if the new model is worth the extra coin it’s commanding over its predecessor. Until then, we have over 100 high-resolution photos for your viewing pleasure.
Behold the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro, Team Green’s answer to the Honda Grom. This four-stroke, 125cc, 225 lbs “monkey bike” from Kawasaki hopes to tap into the same unassuming, approachable, and fun vein that the Honda Grom exposed three years ago.
Like the Grom, the Kawasaki Z125 Pro appeals to two very different demographics. One the one hand, it is the perfect learner bike for young and green (no pun intended) riders – you can see as much in the photos at the end of this post that clearly target the millennial skateboarding young male.
On the other hand though, the 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro is just as much of a machine for older and more experienced riders, who are looking for a cheap and fun machine to add to their already comprehensive stable – perhaps as a grocery-getter or pit bike at the track.
If we can continue to the comparison to the Honda Grom, this dual approach appears to play out well in the market, with the unassuming motorcycle gaining attention from a surprising wide and large demographic. As such, Kawasaki is smart to jump on the trend.
I was surprised when I discovered that we haven’t spoken about Timbersled before now, and the company’s line of snow bike conversion kits. It’s a concept that’s been intriguing me for some time now.
That intrigue started when the Idaho-based company was acquired by Polaris last year – adding to the juggernaut that Scott Wine is creating in Medina, Minnesota – which is where I first saw Timbersled’s interesting take on motorized winter fun.
For those who don’t know, Timbersled’s concept is a pretty simple one: it allows dirt bike owners a fairly straight forward kit that enables them to create a snow bike for winter riding.
MotoGP testing is underway in Losail, Qatar right now, as the paddock gets ready for the season-opener in a little over two weeks’ time. As such, we are seeing teams debut their liveries, and none of the unveils are more anticipated than that of Aprilia Racing.
The Noale brand has been hard at work developing a brand new MotoGP race bike, and while the name remains, the 2016 Aprilia RS-GP is a completely new machine for riders Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista to tackle.
Aprilia says it is using a “narrow” V4 engine, which by definition would mean anything less than 90° in the cylinder head angle. Paddock chatter suggests that the new RS-GP does not share the 65° cylinder head angle of the RSV4 superbike though, which should make for good speculation during the season.
Rated at over 250hp, the Aprilia RS-GP uses pneumatic valves, and has a counter-rotating crankshaft. This is mated to a gearbox that handles seamless upshifts and downshifts. The frame is an aluminum twin-spar design, with the swingarm also made of aluminum.
Aprilia isn’t disclosing the weight of the 2016 RS-GP, but we can expect it to be at, or very near, the minimum weight requirement for MotoGP machines – thus roughly 20 lbs lighter than its predecessor.
The minds at French builder Lazareth are truly mad as a hatter, and Asphalt & Rubber has published several of their more eccentric designs here on our pages. Lazareth’s latest build takes the cake though.
The Lazareth LM 847, which debuted today in Geneva, features the 4.7-liter, 470hp, V8 engine out of a Maserati automobile, with a leaning quad chassis built around it.
We generally loath making comparisons of a manufacturer’s design to another’s, but here Lazareth does seem to be stealing from the best.