2017 WorldSBK Thailand - Chang International Circuit Free practice Race

The opening race of the FIM Superbike World Championship weekend at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand saw Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes finish fifth and sixth respectively on their YZF-R1s, earning good points once again as they did during the opening round in Australia. With the second race of the Thai weekend to come on Sunday 12th March both Alex and Michael will have another chance to add to their points totals very soon.

After Lowes had qualified fourth in Superpole 2, and van der Mark sixth, both team and riders knew that today's opening 20-lap race offered possibilities to score well.

Van der Mark took his opportunity to record his best result of the year, fifth place, after 20-laps in which he had to pass his team-mate early in the race and then concentrate through the hot conditions to bring it home just over three seconds from a podium finish.

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Rating: 2.00/5 (1 vote cast)

Indian Motorcycles Ready to Launch 3 New Motorcycles

America might have lost two of its motorcycle brands with the recent closures of both Victory Motorcycles and EBR, but the former’s sister company, Indian, is growing at a rapid pace. New documents show that an additional three models will soon be joining the Indian Motorcycle range.

The Polaris-owned firm has filed emissions certification documents for new models under the ‘Chieftain Elite’, ‘Chieftain Limited’ and ‘Roadmaster Classic’ names. While the documents show the motorcycles will be powered by the same 1811cc ThunderStroke V-Twin as Indian’s other large-capacity models, there’s little else to go on regarding their technical details.

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Rating: 4.00/5 (1 vote cast)

The 2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special - Custom Design No Chrome

Goodbye bling. Say hello to the Harley-Davidson Road King Special. Featuring the recently launched Milwaukee-Eight engine, the Harley Road Kind Special gets mini-ape handlebars and stretched saddlebags, while black accents have replaced the standard Road King’s chrome on everything form the headlamp nacelle and mirror housings to exhaust pipes and wheels.

The front wheel size has changed to 19 inches, and the fork has been redesigned to improve damping control. The shocks are also new, with hydraulic spring preload (rather than air) adjustment.

Where’s the windscreen? Gone. What’s going one with those saddlebags? Harley-Davidson has wrapped them around the exhaust pipes to make the motorcycle look lower. Why the makeover? If you have to ask, it’s probably not for you.

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Rating: 5.00/5 (1 vote cast)

The Importance of Spoke-Tightening

Spokes are so often forgotten and over looked, yet there are so many of them that there is a good chance one or two are beginning to work loose and could cause a problem.

To illustrate how important it is to check your spokes for tightness, pretty much every professional mechanic that deals with spoked wheels will check every single spoke every time the motorcycle comes in for an inspection or checkup.

But you can’t just go wrenching on your spokes willy-nilly or the wheel will come out of true. To make sure you tighten the right amount we suggest using a spoke torque wrench set at about 48 inch-pounds (5.42 Nm).

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Rating: 4.00/5 (1 vote cast)

ECU Firmware and Remapping

The ECU is the motorcycle’s brain and it controls all of its electronics functions, so remapping it allows us to access this brain and turn off and on various functions. Modern motorcycles are rammed full of emissions equipment and using special software we can download the ECU’s memory, alter it, and then reload it back into the motorcycle.

On something like a modern Suzuki or Kawasaki we can turn off emission equipment, remove any speed or performance restrictions and even unlock software such as traction control or launch control that it as loaded in the ECU, but the manufacturer has disabled its use on that specific model.

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Rating: 2.00/5 (2 votes cast)

Aluminum Skid-Plate for Adventure Bike

Most stock plastic skid plates slide over logs and deflect tiny rocks as needed – until I needed mine to deflect a small jagged boulder on top of a hill in Hua Hin. As my front tire rolled over a nasty stone and stood it end on end, the rock crashed through the plastic skid plate, tearing it in half, smashing into my oil pan, almost puncturing it, and breaking my O2 sensor. Not a good way to start a weekend adventure riding.

A chink in the belly armor on an adventure bike can be detrimental. Hepco-Becker’s skid plate for the Triumph Tiger 800 is attached with four rubber mounts and two solid bolts. The four very beefy impact-isolating dampers included are a massive improvement over the weak stock rubber mounts. The stock mounts are designed to shear upon impact in a sacrificial seppuku to protect the oil pan but do so far too easily.

To my knowledge, only one other manufacturer supplies new rubber mounts, but at a 68% premium over the Hepco-Becker skid plate’s cost, and theirs is not even welded.

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Rating: 2.00/5 (3 votes cast)

Variable Valve Timing on Sportbikes

With Suzuki all set to launch their new GSX-R1000, a lot is being made of the fact that it uses variable valve technology taken from the firm’s MotoGP bike. While this is the first variable valve technology hs been seen on a 1000cc sportsbike, the technology itself is far from new. In fact, technically the ability to alter the valve’s opening times dates back to steam engines! But today we will simply concentrate on motorcycles…

The first motorcycle to have variable valve technology was the Honda CB400, which used a version of the firm’s car-derived Vtec system. While this motorcycle failed to make it on the global market, the same technology first came to most riders’ attention with the launch of the Honda VFR800 Vtec.

Plagued by an overly abrupt transition from two to four-valves, the Honda Vtec system wasn’t well received and despite the fact that Honda soldiered on with it, other manufacturers decided to hold off. Then, in 2010, Kawasaki unveiled its own take on variable valve timing when the 1400GTR gained a far more sophisticated form of the technology.

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Rating: 2.50/5 (2 votes cast)

Steering Geometry of your Motorcycle

When discussing steering geometry people often only think in terms of rake and trail, but these are related by other parameters as well. Specifically, tire rolling radius and the offset of the wheel axle from the steering axis. Wheelbase should also be regarded as part of the equation, too.

Tire radius and trail are the two most important factors which affect how we perceive the steering feel. Trail is determined by the rake, offset and tire size.

I am often asked if there are optimum values for these parameters. The short answer is no; values have varied over time and each type of motorcycle. Sports and racing motorcycles need quick steering bordering on instability, touring motorcycles are concerned with stability.

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Rating: 1.00/5 (3 votes cast)

Erik Buell and EBR in Problems Again

EBR Motorcycles, formed only in early 2016 by liquidation specialists Bill Melvin Senior and Junior, is winding down operations.

The company run by the pair – Liquid Asset Partners LLC – took on the business promising to produce 500 motorcycles per year, continuing Erik Buell’s work in motorcycle manufacturing that, over the past decade, has been bought and sold by Harley-Davidson and tied to Indian company Hero MotoCorp in a WSBK bid that broke down amid accusations of theft.

The Buell Motorcycle Company was founded in 1983 be ex Harley-Davidson engineer Erik Buell, building race motorcycles and selling parts, as well as carrying out engineering consultancy work. In 1993 Harley-Davidson bought 49 percent of the company, and took it on entirely in 2003. By the end of 2006, the business had built more than 100,000 motorcycles.

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Rating: 2.00/5 (3 votes cast)

The Tire Profile - What you need to Know

The profile of a motorcycle tire is another typical prominent feature for a motorcycle tire. With the round profile, once you counter steer the motorcycle into a corner, it will stay leaned over in the corner till either you lean more or pull it out of the lean.

Once the motorcycle is leaned over in the corner, it is the rear tire that actually steers the motorcycle. The smaller the radius of the profile, the faster the tire will respond in corners. The wider the profile the more stable it is in straight up riding and slower it is to respond in corners. It will be good to remember that usually motorcycle tires need a 200 to 250 kilometer break in period as they expand by some 6 to 8 percent both due to the heating cycles and usage under inflation.

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Rating: 3.50/5 (2 votes cast)


How many times have you crashed your motorcycle in the last three years?

  •  Never
  •  Once
  •  Twice
  •  Three times
  •  Four times
  •  Five times
  •  More than 6 times
  •  More than 10 times
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