Stay Cool During the Hottest Riding Days

When it gets really hot, riding becomes harder, no? Since we test motorcycles round the year in all manner of conditions, we've found ways to beat the heat. The fact that we primarily test around Bangkok, which adds intense humidity to the heat just makes us better at it. Here's how to stay cool in five easy steps – some of the steps are free!

If you're riding around in waterproof gear, it can get very bad. The actual solution is to have two sets of gear. You can get away with two jackets and one pant. A mesh or heavily vented jacket can make all the difference. Mesh works well enough in crashes – we speak from personal experience – and it is literally as cool as wearing a T-shirt. But if mesh scares you, get a heavily vented jacket instead. Vented pants help but the legs don't notice ambient heat quite as much.

Eliminate cotton. While cotton is great for our weather, it's not good on the motorcycle when worn under gear. Once sweat soaks it, cotton becomes heavy, sticky and it doesn't dry fast. You'll feel itchy and nasty. The solution is a synthetic base layer or two. Once I switched, I find it very hard to wear anything else. A good base layer sticks to your skin and any sweat is immediately pulled off the skin and rapidly spread over a large area of the base layer. This promotes evaporation and cooling. You end up not feeling itchy even hours later and the light, skin-tight fit actually feels great in the heat. Base layers are, however, expensive. Look for cheaper T-shirts from sport brands that promise wicking properties to get similar results. The base layer works for the legs too. If you're going to be on the motorcycle the whole time, you might want to wear the base layers only under the gear nothing else is needed.

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The Yamaha YZF-R3 - The Constant Fun Bike

After living with the Yamaha YZF-R3 for a few months, is it still fun? Oh yeah! It's got the looks and the performance – and to top it off it's also very comfortable. Over the last few months, I've ridden the Yamaha YZF-R3 mainly in the city – and, on just a few occasions, outside Bangkok. But, frankly, it doesn't really matter where I'm riding the Yamaha YZF-R3, because it's always a joy to sit on it and rev the engine.

The only thing left to find out is if it can be a good 'small-capacity' touring motorcycle. The fact it doesn't vibrate at all – even at high speeds – means that it should be just fine. It makes the everyday commute enjoyable. The clutch can be a bit heavy if the traffic is bad, and your forearm can begin to hurt.

And now that the weather is getting hotter, the engine heat has started to bother me when at a standstill. But these are minor problems that you forget about as you begin to ride again.

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The 2016 Suzuki SV650 - Now Available in Thailand

How can a motorcycle that has an introduction price of only 279,000 THB be this much fun and demonstrate this much aptitude? That's exactly what I was contemplating as I was exploring some roads around our big city.

Suzuki has sold worldwide a staggering 410,000 units of the Suzuki SV650 since its launch in 1999. The iconic Suzuki SV650 roadster has been a solid model worldwide in the naked-bike class since its inception, pleasing newcomers and the more experienced with no-nonsense thrills and nuclear-surviving reliability.

The Suzuki SV650 was once a no-brainer in a segment of its own, but now-a-day people have the option of Yamaha's MT-07, which edged into the top-five best-selling motorcycles worldwide of 2015. Suzuki's own admittance, Yamaha has done an exceptional job, so the Suzuki SV650 needed rejuvenation. Erring on the well-mannered side, Suzuki's switch to the SFV650 Gladius wasn't exactly a hit with consumers and was more perceived as an alternative for the Kawasaki ER6N. The concept for the 2016 Suzuki SV650 refresh was 'back to the origin' and Suzuki incessantly drilled the sporty aspect of the new model into our brains throughout the launch meeting.

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The 2016 Honda NC750X - More Adventure Bike Styling

The Honda NC750X was always an easy-to-ride, solid performer – but the new 2016 NC750X has added a massive dose of fun into the mix and improved on the old model in almost every regard.

Key changes to the suspension, the Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), front brakes, exhaust note and styling all add up to a comprehensively improved motorcycle.

The Honda NC750X isn't designed to set your hair on fire in terms of performance, but the new model works so much better in key areas that the overall package is a lot more attractive.

While the DCT retains its 'D' (Drive) mode, which changes up to the highest possible ratio to conserve fuel, it is now joined by three S-modes (Sport) too. S1 is mildly more sporty than D and designed to town riding; S2, the same program as the single S option on the old NC750X, is sportier still, holding on to the revs longer and down – changing earlier too; and S3 is for when you want to press on.

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The Victory Octane - The Ultimate Power Cruiser

Victory recently unveiled its most powerful motorcycle model yet, the Victory Octane which is powered by an 1180cc liquid-cooled V-twin delivering 103 horsepower at 8,000rpm and 103Nm of torque at 6,000rpm.

Pulling a stylish burnout in the promo shot, the company reckons the Victory Octane is 'the ultimate modern American muscle bike' and to prove the point pulled a 3.73 kilometer smookie to set a new Guinness World Record. It can also hit a quarter mile in 12 seconds and gets from 0 to 100 in under four seconds.

The drag style Victory Octane has its engine set as a stressed member within the frame, which is part steel, part aluminum, and the Octane has no extras aside from a 'bullet cowl' screen. It weight in at 242 kilograms wet. The engine is similar to that used in the Project 156 Pikes Peak concept, with the same short 73.6mm stroke dimension for quicker revving and a higher redline than with the usual cruiser V-twin, aided by a DOHC four-valve head design.

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The Ural Motorcycles with Sidecar

Last few years, we saw a growing number of big bikes released in Thailand, and always with two-wheels – but why not a new big bike with three-wheels?

Ural have answered the question with the Ural M70 and the Ural Ranger developed and built to go anywhere.

The Ural motorcycles with sidecar are powered by a flat twin 'boxer', OHV, air-cooled 749cc engine with two valves per cylinder. The maximum power output is 41 horsepower at 5,500rpm and 57Nm maximum torque at 4,300rpm. The engine is equipped with modern electronic fuel injection system. The Ural motorcycles come with a 4 gear 'forward and 1 reverse transmission gearbox.

The Ural M70 comes with telescopic front forks while the Ural ranger comes uses a IMZ leading link front fork. For the rear both models use two hydraulic spring shock absorbers.

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Electronics on the 2016 Ducati XDiavel

Like so many motorcycle now-a-day, the new Ducati Xdiavel is bristling with new technology. There are three riding modes: Sport with full power, the most direct throttle, reduced traction control (level 2), and cornering ABS at level 2. Touring gives full power but with a softer delivery of the torque. Traction control is at level 4, and ABS level 3. Urban resticts the Ducati Xdiavel to 100 horsepower, traction control to level 6, and ABS to level 3.

All the parameters can be adjusted to suit your own riding, and stored in memory or reset to the defaults. The traction control has eight levels, with 1 and 2 for sports riding, 3 up 6 for dry road riding, and 7 and 8 for wet roads. The ABS has three levels, or can be switched off entirely. Rear wheel lift detection is enabled at level 3 to prevent stoppies but it's disabled at levels 1 and 2. Level 1 is for sports riding,and activates the ABS on the front wheel only, though disables the cornering function. Level 2 is still for sports riding, but brings in the cornering ABS made possible by the Inertial Measurement Unit. Level 3 has full cornering ABS and rear-wheel lift prevention with the algorithms programmed for maximum safety.

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The Royal Enfield Classic 500 Chrome

Royal Enfield are the motorcycles which tootle down your street thumbing their chrome-visored headlight noses at modern-day two-wheel technology. And they do it with an air of grace and esteem. Mind you, they never used to – once it was with an air of electrical shortages and weeping cast-iron engine cases. But a few material and componentry upgrades have made today's Royal Enfield far more reliable.

The world slows down on a Royal Enfield. Hold someone up on the highway and they'll smile kindly as they pass you, giving you plenty of room as they do. Quite a contrast to the reception I received riding my own sportsbike a few weeks ago, where a person in a sportcar did everything but crash to make sure he was always in front me on the road to Khon Kaen.

Contrast is what the Royal Enfield Classic 500 Chrome does well. In an age of high-tech electrickery, it's delightfully old-world with its side-mounted chrome lockable toolbox and analogue flip-over odometer. It's got a kickstart (to complement its electric start), a drum rear brake, and there's not an LED to be seen. Its 19-inch front wheel removes any lightning quick reactions – from you or the motorcycle – and the 499cc single-cylinder engine is lumpy and languorous, its 40-odd Nm or torque ample.

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The 2016 Triumph Speed Triple - All-New Streetfighters

British motorcycle manufacturer, Triumph, has announced that its new sixth-generation Speed Triple is due later this year, and is essentially all new. One of the motorcycles that started the streetfighter craze in the early 90s, the Triumph Speed Triple is no longer the king of the performance mountain, but features a completely new engine with over 100 new parts, resulting in more torque across the rev range, and greater top end power.

Only the capacity remains the same. From 4000 to 7000rpm there's said to be 7 to 9Nm more torque than before, thanks largely to a new cylinder head and pistons, along with a ride-by-wire throttle. No official figures are available but expect peak output of around 140 horsepower. Contributing to a wilder top end is a new less restrictive exhaust system.

Despite the output increases, Triumph claims a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy and the engine meets the new Euro 4 emission regulations. It is also said to be quieter in operation. A slipper-assist clutch not only prevents rear wheel lock-up when downshifting but also has lighter springs so operation requires less effort in day-to-day use. Radial brakes feature Brembo monobloc calipers.

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Buy a Honda Goldwing GL1800 Consider the Service Cost

Honda's Goldwing GL1800 Grand Touring is the last word in motorcycle luxury and the undisputed champion of the upper motorcycle touring world. The Honda Goldwing GL1800 globally introduced as an all-new replacement of the GL1500 in 2001, the might Goldwing GL1800 has received only minor teaks in it 16-year history, and now packs features like protective airbags, heated seats, integrated satellite navigation and entertainment system, ABS, cruise control and much more, all as standard.

Despite tipping the scaled at a whopping 421 kilograms Honda's engineers made it relatively easy to operate as soon as you step aboard a Goldwing GL1800. Whether it's selecting reverse gear to back out of a parking space, swooping through bends of an mountain pass, or out-dragging a teenager in a sportscar away from the traffic lights, the mighty Honda Goldwing GL1800 will never cease to surprise and entertain you.

The Honda Goldwing GL1800 Grand Touring comes in Thailand with a logbook that needs to be filled with unique stickers and stamps so you have proof that service is correctly done. This is helpful as getting access to the air filter or other similar consumables mean you have the remove almost all front body cover, so it's not uncommon for air filters to exceed their 20,000 kilometer lifespan.

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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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