Saturday, November 06, 2010

Ron Haslam on the Honda VFR1200F: “I’m so impressed by the handling…”

Ron Haslam Ron Haslam
'Rocket' Ron Haslam has ridden everything from two-stroke 500cc GP bikes to big four-strokes and even the rotary-engined Norton F1. His opinion of the VFR1200F should certainly count for something...
2011 Honda VFR1200F 2011 Honda VFR1200F

Younger readers of Faster and Faster, the ones who don’t remember a certain Grand Prix racer with the initials ‘RH’ on his helmet, might ask who exactly is Ron Haslam. Oh, well, he’s a British rider who used to race in 500cc GPs, right alongside the likes of men like Kevin Schwantz and Freddie Spencer. He’s raced everything from big four-strokes to 500cc two-strokes and even the rotary-engined Norton F1. And before his exploits in the GPs, Haslam also won the Formula 1 TT at the Isle of Man in 1982. So, yes, Rocket Ron knows a thing or two about going very, very fast on motorcycles.

Ron rode the original Honda VFR750 during the Transatlantic races in the mid-1980s. So for their November 2010 issue, the UK-based Bike magazine got him to ride a VFR1200F and asked for his opinion of the bike. Here are some brief excerpts from what The Rocket has to say about the new V4-engined Honda:

“I’m so impressed by the handling, the stability and the turning. Touring bikes tend to sit on the back end and just push the front, but the VFR doesn’t. You put this into a corner and it tracks around nicely, right where you put it. That was the first shock for me, that it steers more like a sportsbike than a tourer.”

“There’s loads of torque, loads of midrange and that gives a big wide rev counter to play with. I found I could power it up to where the back wheel spins, with my knee on the floor, through corners. And it was controllable – it wasn’t a touring bike that bounces and jumps about all over the place – it just kept its line and kept going. So that was the second surprise for me. I was, like, “Wow, this thing is really good!””

2011 Honda VFR1200F 2011 Honda VFR1200F 2011 Honda VFR1200F 2011 Honda VFR1200F

While Rocket Ron was impressed with the VFR1200, he did ultimately find it a bit soft, with the exhaust touching down when the bike was pushed really hard. The other thing he didn’t like very much was the VFR’s ABS-equipped brakes, saying that he liked the Fireblade’s C-ABS setup much better. “When I pulled the brake really hard, the ABS would come in early and release so hard, the forks would rebound. It’s more safety-type ABS than the CBR’s sportsbike stuff,” said Ron.

When asked what changes he’d want on his VFR1200F if he had to ride one on the track, Ron asks for more ground clearance, an exhaust system that doesn’t get in the way while cornering hard and a stiffer rear shock. That, and ditch the ABS.

So there you are, the legendary Rocket Ron is quite all right with the VFR1200’s engine and handling and would only ask for changes to be made to the bike when he’s riding it on the track, at the absolute limit. So how bad can the VFR be for the rest of us…?

These excerpts are from the November 2010 issue of Bike magazine. It is, in our opinion, the best motorcycle magazine in the world and you could subscribe to it here


Ron Haslam, at the 1982 F1 TT at the Isle of Man, which he won...

2011 Triumph Tiger 800, 800XC: The adventure continues

2011 Triumph Tiger 800 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 2011 Triumph Tiger 800
The 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 looks like an all-around competent motorcycle

The 2011 Tiger 800 and the more off-road-oriented 800XC are Triumph’s first foray into the middleweight ‘adventure’ bike segment. The bikes are fitted with a 799cc three-cylinder engine that produces 94bhp and 79Nm of torque, switchable ABS and 19-inch (Tiger 800) and 21-inch (Tiger 800XC) front wheels. The bike also feature adjustable seat height and handlebar position, coded key immobiliser for added security and a 550w generator that allows fitment of multiple electrical accessories.

The Tiger 800 features a chassis made of steel and Triumph claim the bike is capable of carrying large amounts of luggage and is equally capable on-road and off. With 17-inch (rear) and 19-inch (front) wheels, the bike can take a range of street- and dirt-oriented rubber, depending on intended use. The Tiger’s 19-litre fuel tank also ensures that the bike doesn’t need frequent refuelling.

Other bits on the Triumph Tiger 800 include a 43mm Showa USD fork, twin 308mm floating brake discs at the front (with two-piston floating callipers), switchable ABS (optional), trip computer and optional GPS navigation system. Bash plates, hand guards, extra lights and a range of hard and soft luggage are also on the options list. The bike weighs 210 kilos with a full tank of fuel.

The Triumph Tiger 800XC, which is more off-road-oriented than the Tiger 800, is fitted with a 45mm USD fork, 21-inch front wheel, dirt-spec rubber, high-level front mudguard and hand guards. An adjustable touring screen, centre stand and off-road style engine protection bars and sump guard are all on the options list. With its long-travel suspension optimised for off-road use, the Tiger 800XC is the bet for those with ‘Long Way Round’ type of adventure ambitions.

We don’t find the Tiger particularly exciting, though we’re sure these are practical, useful bikes that will have no dearth of buyers. The Tiger 800 / 800XC are expected to cost US$10,000 - 12,000, depending on the options (ABS, panniers etc.) you choose.


Official promo video for the 2011 Triumph Tiger 800 and 800XC
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2011 Triumph Speed Triple: Still brawling

2011 Triumph Speed Triple 2011 Triumph Speed Triple 2011 Triumph Speed Triple
The 2011 Triumph Speed Triple. Older, but still in the fight...
2011 Triumph Speed Triple 2011 Triumph Speed Triple 2011 Triumph Speed Triple

The best loved British streetfighter, the Triumph Speed Triple has been tweaked and improved for 2011. It’s lost some weight (3 kilos), got a new set of headlamps and is now available with ABS. With more than 65,000 units of this machine sold worldwide since its introduction in 1994, the Speed Triple is still going strong and Triumph are trying hard to make sure the Triple stays in the game for a few more years.

For 2011, Triumph have tweaked the Speed Triple’s 1,050cc three-cylinder engine for a bit more power – 133bhp and 111Nm of torque – which is just as well because the Triple weighs 214kg fully fuelled. And with the new ECU and revised exhaust system, power delivery is said to be more refined than before. The chassis has also been modified and is now narrower than before, and the engine has been moved forward in the frame for optimised weight distribution. That, along with the revised steering geometry, is supposed to improve the Speed Triple’s stability as well as steering response.

Other bits on the 2011 Speed Triple include 43mm USD forks, Brembo brakes with radial-mount callipers at the front (ABS is optional), all-new bodywork and headlamps, new colours, revised ergonomics that include a lower seat, alloy handlebars, coded-key immobiliser, improved instrumentation and a full range of optional accessories. The bike will be available in Triumph showrooms from December this year.

2011 Triumph Speed Triple 2011 Triumph Speed Triple 2011 Triumph Speed Triple
With 133bhp from that 1050cc three-cylinder engine, Mr S. Triple can still roll with the best of 'em... 
2011 Triumph Speed Triple 2011 Triumph Speed Triple

Friday, November 05, 2010

2011 Ducati Diavel: Monster on steroids

2011 Ducati Diavel 2011 Ducati Diavel 2011 Ducati Diavel 2011 Ducati Diavel 2011 Ducati Diavel 2011 Ducati Diavel
Its 162bhp Testastretta L-twin notwithstanding, the Diavel is likely to be best suited to boulevard cruising rather than bombing along mountain twisties...

Ducati have made up a nice story about how their new muscle-cruiser came to be known as Diavel. ‘One day, early in the development process of the bike, the first prototype was assembled and wheeled out in front of a group of Ducati engineers and technicians who were viewing the complete motorcycle for the first time. One person looking from the rear of the bike saw its silhouette and exclaimed in Bolognese dialect, ‘Ignur├ánt comm' al Diavel,’ which meant ‘Evil, just like the devil,’ and thus the Ducati Diavel was born,’ goes the story.

With its 162-horsepower Testastretta L-twin engine, Monster-on-steroids styling, 240-section rear tyre and 210-kilo kerb weight, the Diavel is the most unusual, unlikely Ducati ever. Then again, if Yamaha can build an R1 and a VMAX, why can’t Ducati have a Diavel standing next to their 1198R? If people want an Italian VMAX, they must have the God-given right to have one, and Ducati have taken it upon themselves to fill that niche.

With its low seat height, low-slung trellis frame and raked-out stance, the Diavel is the quintessential cruiser – a squat, stubby and aggressive one. It has flourishes of style – LED taillamps and turn-indicators, large air-intake scoops and single-sided swingarm are all styling elements and they don’t look too bad at all. And yet, the Diavel is likely to be a triumph of style over substance, pose value over riding dynamics. Despite its multiple riding modes and 162bhp engine etc., the bike doesn’t look like it’ll be great fun to ride. It should certainly have great street presence and the VMAX set will probably love the Diavel, but for those who love Ducati because the company makes bikes like these, the Diavel will remain an irrelevant blip on the company’s lusty line-up of sportsbikes.

The base model 2011 Ducati Diavel is priced at €17,000 while the higher-spec Diavel Carbon is priced at €20,000.

Ducati Diavel Nicky Hayden Ducati Diavel Nicky Hayden 2011 Ducati Diavel 2011 Ducati Diavel imagebam.com 2011 Ducati Diavel
The VMAX set is likely to appreciate the Ducati Diavel...

MotoFashion: 2011 KTM PowerWear


KTM have a range of 'PowerWear' for 2011, which includes a wide range of clothing and fashion accessories. Here, take a look...
2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM apparel KTM fashion 2011 KTM PowerWear 2011 KTM PowerWear
KTM PowerWear
...and for more, download the 2011 KTM PowerWear brochures here

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