The 2017 Yamaha MT-10 - Serious Super-Naked Machine

Very eagerly awaited for by many riders, especially a few of our friends, the Yamaha MT-10 is one awesome motorcycle. Your riding skills are more than required for this machine. The Yamaha MT-10 is a very serious bit of machine in the best possible way. Yamaha’s engineers have produced the ‘Big Daddy’ of the MT-Series with brawn and control, it’s the mediator of all below it. Fun to cruise on at a touring pace, very exciting to run at a sports pace and breathtaking to have a crack on, such is its flexibility.

The MotoGP derived engine with the ‘crossplane’ crank technology is simply a brilliant powerplant. It grunts like a V-twin, has linear torque delivery like a triple and can scream like an inline four without sounding like one – it sounds a lot tougher and moves to match that sound. The upright riding position puts you in total control behind the handlebars, which is exactly what you need riding cities like Bangkok where you have to expect the unexpected. Going precisely where you point it encourages you to have a bit more of a go, making for a very fun ride.

Suspension is firm yet compliant, on what were some very ordinary road surfaces we covered on the test. The brakes are brilliant with great power and progressive feel, giving you even more confidence to push it a little harder, and running through the engine maps you really can notice the difference in each of the settings.

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Rating: 3.00/5 (6 votes cast)

The 2017 BMW S1000R - Super Sharp Super-Naked

The 2017 BMW S1000R is a formidable contender in the supernaked class, the S1000R features an eye-popping spec sheet, high-performance BMW S1000RR lineage that help make it a serious motorcycle to consider. The BMW S1000R has some competitors to deal with but it remains an extremely attractive package for those with a penchant for performance, a love of technology, and an eye for a detail.

As well as being incredibly civilized – with cruise control and comfort tuned suspension settings at the touch of a button – the BMW S1000R is also extremely well-endowed with the sporty factor. It’s the seamless bringing together of these two worlds that makes the S1000R much more than a superbike without fairings.

Brilliant as it may be, no motorcycle is without glitches, and the BMW has some notable blemishes: a narrow rev band of high frequency vibration – something the engineers appear to have addressed on the new 2017 BMW S1000R and XR models with new rubber handlebar mounts.

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Rating: 1.33/5 (3 votes cast)

Buying a MV-Agusta Brutale 800 Dragster RR in Thailand

I tried to convince myself that I didn’t want an MV Agusta Dragster 800RR, right up to the point when I handed back the keys of the test ride.

I’d been staring at pictures of the MV Agusta Dragster 800RR for ages telling myself there was no way I was going to pay that much for it. Fact of the matter was I laughed my head off all the time I was riding it and that feeling hasn’t gone away. The bike is just so cool! I just had to have one.

Refined it is not. Lively, aggressive, offensively loud, stupidly light and absolutely great fun it is. The OE exhaust and tail tidy were the things to go and totally transformed the look of the rear end. They also lopped off 6 kilograms, making the dry weight a ridiculous 162 kilograms.

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Rating: 1.67/5 (3 votes cast)

The Ducati Monster 821

The design of the Ducati Monster 821, like the Monster models before, is minimalist, and what immediately grabs your attention are the trellis frame and that huge 17-liter fuel tank. Ducati faithfuls will recognise the changes to the Monster 821 over the old Monster 796, such as the exhaust that has now been moved to the more conventional position on the side of the motorcycle’s swingarm rather than under the pillion seat.

The other big change is with the liquid-cooled 821cc engine. As soon as you fire it up, the Ducati explodes to life. Take to the broad, flat handlebars and you’ll find yourself seated in a familiar, sportily hunched position. The Ducati Monster 821 shares its chassis, fuel tank and the comfortable seat with the bigger Ducati Monster 1200, and feels rather nimble. Its 205 kilograms weight means it really flies off the mark while its short, 1480mm wheelbase lends it much-desired agility.

The ride-by-wire throttle is responsive to twitches lower down in the powerband, and there’s plenty of meaty initial torque to unleash. The Ducati Monster 821 propels itself with urgency and ferocity, but somehow, better than its overly prompt, linear acceleration is the scream that emanates from the twin-pipe exhaust. As you launch the needle north on the tacho, the engine note is matched by this motorcycle’s performance; makes you wonder why they’d even bother putting a horn on this thing. Even as you roll off the throttle, the way this beast spits and snarls is brilliant, almost overwhelming.

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The Honda VFR1200X - Honda's Big Adventure Bike

While currently the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin gets almost all the attention we easily could forget that Honda also has the range-topping VFR1200X Adventure-Bike available in Thailand.

The Honda VFR1200X borrows the liquid-cooled 76-degree V-Four engine from the VFR1200F. The angle between the two banks of cylinders combined with a 28-degree phasing between the crankpins was designed to eliminate vibration, and the Honda VFR1200X is noticeably calm for a huge V-Four. It features Honda’s Unicam SOHC configuration, which creates more compact dimensions for the 1237cc 16-valve engine by reducing the size and weight of the cylinder heads, and optimizing combustion-chamber shape. Compression was changed slightly from 12.0 to 12.1:1 and performance was reconfigured for more low-end torque. The intake howls, but is not replicated by the exhaust. Aftermarket pipes will be a popular breathing upgrade to make this beast sing.

Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) constantly monitors wheel-speed. When a difference in speed between front and rear wheels is sensed, engine torque is momentarily reduced by a combination of ignition cut and modulation of the throttle butterflies through the throttle-by-wire system. As the difference in wheel-speed decreases, the system shifts into modulating only the throttle butterflies to ensure a smooth transition as the HSTC reduces intervention. The system features three levels of engagement, selectable via push-button, and can be switched off. As a traction control solution, I found it extremely and annoyingly aggressive in its highest setting and preferred to dial it down.

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Rating: 3.33/5 (3 votes cast)

The Quality of Japanese Motorcycles

The quality of Japanese motorcycles which are no longer actually made in Japan gives some cause for concern. Recently we have seen recalls for Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha motorcycles. Often the same model has multiple issues the Honda CB300F had potential crankshaft bearing failure and some fire risk from faulty wiring, the Yamaha MT-03 and YZF-R3 had also several serious and less serious problems, and we recently saw a recall for the Kawasaki Z125 Pro.

I’m around 50 years old now and can’t remember anything like this ever happening before. There must have been recalls in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but we expected any new motorcycles we bought to be 100 percent sorted and, as far as I know, they were.

Currently it seems that a unprecedented number of motorcycles and cars are being recalled and I can’t help but think it’s a problem associated with the dreaded ‘globalization’. Japanese motorcycles used to be made in Japan. Sure, there were probably independent parts suppliers but, if a motorcycle had a Japanese brand name on the fuel tank, you could be confident Japanese engineers made sure all the motorcycle’s components met Japanese standards.

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Rating: 2.25/5 (4 votes cast)

The Stallions Centaur Cafe 150 - The 150cc Retro Classic

The Stallions Centaur Cafe 150 combines a few things that are popular at the moment: classic cafe racer style, decent built quality and a reasonable price tag. The Centaur Cafe 150 is an exciting motorcycle for anyone looking for a trendy city bike with enough power to take on the odd country road.

Among all the cafe racers currently rolling our from various manufacturers, the Stallions Centaur Cafe 150 stands out as a particularly good-looking option. The motorcycle is available in Black, Army Green or Red, with the Stallions Motorcycle logo added to the tank and side-covers.

The overall impression is of understated style, form the fuel tank to the sculpted single seat. The bullet indicators, spooked wheels, straight matt-black exhaust, with chrome heat protection-cover, upside-down front forks and clip-on handlebars all add to the timeless classic look.

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The BMW C650 Sport Maxi-Scooter

The BMW C650 Sport is one of two maxi-scooters from the German motorcycle manufacturer. With the other one being a ‘GT touring-oriented maxi-scooter, the BMW C650 Sport is very much a sporty and fun machine. From the looks to performance and electronics to handling, everything is geared towards pure riding enjoyment.

For a maxi-scooter, the BMW C650 Sport looks deceptively small and light. It’s not though: 250 kilograms and an overall length of over 2 meters make this a bit of a lump to manoeuvre around in tight traffic.

The BMW C650 Sport is powered by a 650cc, two-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine, pumping out a claimed 60 horsepower. And as you ride it, you can feel the power: the scooter accelerates enthusiastically and the CVT gearbox is very smooth. Best of all, the engine is brilliant at keeping the revs just right.

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Rating: 2.83/5 (6 votes cast)

Moving from a Scooter to a Motorcycle

There’s no denying scooters are great fun, but move to a motorcycle and there can be a whole different set of advantages. Our simple guide to help you move from small wheels and automatic CVT gear to big wheels and motorcycle power.

The first thing you’ll notice when you get on a motorcycle after riding a scooter is simply how different it is to get on. There’s no stepping through; you have to swing your leg up and over. This can influence the style of motorcycle you can ride. Big trail, off-road, adventure and enduro motorcycles may look cool and be able to have take me anywhere attitude, but if you don’t have long legs you’ll struggle to get on one – and even if you can get on, you’ll not feel comfortable if you can’t get a least one foot flat on the ground.

Luckily, many motorcycle manufacturers offer lowering kits and lowered seats which can help shorter riders gain access to a wider range of machines and not just off-road styled motorcycles. Another point to consider is that motorcycles frequently have narrower seats than scooters, which in turn makes it easier to get feet flat on the ground as your legs aren’t spread as wide.

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The Triumph Street Twin Getting a Bit Small

I’ve been riding the Triumph Street Twin for almost a month now, and a couple things are beginning to stand out. Aside from the fun I have buzzing around town on the 900cc twin, the overall size of the motorcycle is starting to feel cramped.

This is a bit ironic since Triumph specifically designed the Street Twin for smaller riders, with 1.65 meter I’m an average size Thai girl, making the seat a very approachable 750mm. In my many years of riding I’ve actually gotten used to larger motorcycles. The Triumph Street Twin, in contrast, has begun to feel a bit small.

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Rating: 3.00/5 (5 votes cast)