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Intermot-LogoWorld’s second largest motorcycle exhibition (the largest being the Italian EICMA), Cologne’s (Germany) Intermot, is going to open its doors at the end of the month. Held every two years, the last Intermot exhibition saw 203,000 visitors from all over the world, and 1,022 exhibitors from 37 countries.

Motorcycle exhibitors from all over the world will be showing off their wares, and a lot of new products will be shown for the first time to an overflowing crowd.

Intermot exhibition center

Intermot exhibition center

Of course there will be a plethora of new motorcycles; Ducati will be showing off their new Scrambler, Honda will have one or two new motorcycles and at least one new powerful scooter and both Suzuki and Yamaha are expected to be launching some new bikes at the popular show. Since this is the home turf of BMW, we expect to see at least one new or major revised motorcycle and/or scooter.

The only two USA based motorcycle manufactures who have a press conference to introduce new stuff are Harley-Davidson and Zero Electric.

Many of the manufactures are vying for sales in Asia, particularly India and Pakistan which is a very growing market for them. So expect quite a lot of low displacement models in the 100 to 200 cc range. Suzuki already mentioned a 150cc Gixxer, Yamaha have been making sub-200 cc bikes and then of course Honda who have lost their partnership with Hero and now attempting to take over the market on their own.

Intermot's main Boulevard with all halls on the side

Intermot’s main Boulevard with all halls on the side

But it’s not only new motorcycles that will be shown. Many manufacturers will be showing new helmets, clothing and security gear such as communicating locks (locks that communicate with your phone, in case of a theft attempt). More and more clothing manufacturers are incorporating airbag jackets, so expect to see many more of these.

The official opening is on Wednesday October 1st, but press day (the day the new stuff is introduced) is on Monday 30 September.

So after those dates, you will find much of the new stuff over here. Plenty of photos and a firsthand look at interesting products.

This is one of those phenomena which is difficult to explain, but causes so much havoc for bikers around the world. It is based on a trick our brain plays on us, and if you listen to your brain, you will end up in a world of hurt.

It is called “Target Fixation”, something that got discovered during the second World War when bombers would fly straight into the target instead of avoiding them. The pilots would have their eyes directed on whatever they had to bomb, and would fly their airplane straight into it.

The same applies to us motorcycle riders. Wherever you are looking is where your motorcycle will go to. See a pothole in the road? That is where your motorcycle will go to.

Target Fixation

Target Fixation

It is one of the main reasons you are taught to look to the end of a curve when entering one; by looking at the furtherest point of the curve, then that is where the bike will go to. If you look just in front, i.e. your apex, your bike will end up not taking the curve. You will find that at low speeds you will need to readjust your lean angle, and at higher speeds you will become intimately acquainted with the countryside.

When riding on a straight road, if an animal jumps in front of your path, often bikers will not avoid it. That is because their brains are fixed on the target, and they end up crashing into the animal.

How to avoid this?

There is no simple way of avoiding target fixation. You need to train your brain to think otherwise. The only way is not to look at the “target”. If you see that pothole in the road and you are heading straight for it, then look elsewhere. Anywhere but the pothole, and then let your reactions kick in.

Get used to the fooling your brain when riding. Look for something small on the road, like leaves or a small discoloring of the road, then look for a path away from the object and follow that path. Keep doing this until your brain starts doing it automatically.

And always remember; you go where you are looking!

(inspired by Nelson’s BMW airhead motorcycles article)

Reading Your Motorcycle Tire

Many of you will have noticed a bunch of numbers and letters printed alongside your motorcycle’s tires. Most of you don’t really care what they mean, even if they mean anything since you’ll suppose that the motorcycle manufacturer knew what he was doing when the tires were installed.

But if you ever need to change the tires and can’t find the exact same ones, it’s good to know what they mean. Especially since those numbers and letters will impact your safety while riding. Why? Because they indicate among other what the maximum speed of the tire is allowed to be. So maybe your motorcycle can ride at 200 mph, if your tire is rated for 100 mph, you are in trouble. The same applies for carrying a pillion, cargo and even towing a trailer.

determining-tire-size

The tire number is represented in one of three different ways, depending on where the tire is made and sold.

Metric:

It looks like this: 180/55ZR-17 M/C: Tire width, “/”, Aspect ratio, Speed Rating”, Tire Construction, “-” Rim diameter, Motorcycle Tire.

Inch:

5.00H-16 APR: Width, Speed Rating, Rim Diameter, Casing Strength

Alphabetical:

MT90S-16 : Motorcycle Tire, Width code, Aspect Ratio, Speed Rating, Rim Diameter,

Tire Width

The figure is expressed in millimeters or inches and represents the width from the outer wall to outer wall of the tire.

Aspect Ratio

This means the tire’s cross-sectional profile a represents the percentage of the height to width ratio. 90 for example means 90%

Speed rating

The speed the tires are rated at is indicated with a letter:

F – 50 mph

H – 130 mph

J – 62 mph

K – 68 mph

L – 75 mph

M – 81 mph

N – 87 mph

P – 93 mph

Q – 99 mph

R – 106 mph

S – 112 mph

T – 118 mph

U – 124 mph

V – 149 mph

W – 168 mph

Y – 186 mph

Z – 149+ mph

As you can see, the numbers and letters are not exactly sequential, but that is because of historical reasons. Letter type Z is old, and shows that the tire is capable of above 149 mph, which is also the case of W and Y types. There are also some letters missing in the lineup.

WARNING: Do check the tire manufacturer’s rating, since some differ.

Tire Construction

The letter indicates the whether the tire is Belted (code B) or Radial (code R).

Rim Diameter

As the word says, it’s the diameter of the wheels rim on which the tire is mounted, expressed in millimeters or inches.

Tire Load Index

The tire numbers also indicate how much weight they can carry. This is important when carrying pillion and cargo. Too much weight will deflate or worse, burst your tire.

The Load Index (L.I.) is a bit long to display here, but best is to go to the tire manufacturer’s web site and find out what the maximum load is for your tires. Believe me, it’s important especially if you have changed brand.

Here are some of the tire manufacturer’s website and their ratings:

Avon Tyres

Bridgestone

Full Bore USA

Kenda

Dunlop

It often makes me laugh, or maybe it is cry. People go out and buy an expensive motorcycle, fit it out with lots of expensive accessories, and then buy expensive matching clothing, helmets, boots and other fine items. Then when they need to top up the oil, they buy the cheapest oil they can find.

It is a bit like a NASA rocket launch failing because of a 10 cent component. Oil is what makes your motorcycle run smoothly, and putting in oil that is not meant for your bike is making sure that you will have a problem later on.

Motor_oil

Just think about it. Every motorcycle model is different. Different in engine size, cylinder compression, cooling and a same motorcycle that lives in the desert is going to be different from one that live up up North in Canada.

Every aspect dictates what kind of oil you need to use. Your owner manual will tell you what kind of viscosity you need to use, but they will tell you a range. The viscosity will be determined as mentioned above on the displacement, the cylinder-head compression, horsepower, the kind of cooling used and most importantly, at what kind of revs your bike’s engine will run (you can understand that a motorcycle that runs at 12,000 rpm will need different oil than one that runs at 3,000 rpm).

The only thing you need to take into account, is the outside temperature and if your bike remains inactive for long periods of time. The viscosity grades are ranged from 0 to 60 (with 0 being the lowest viscosity). If you find the letter “W” after the grade, this implies that the oil can be used during the winter.

The other choice you can make, but you will need to read your owner’s manual attentively, is whether you use regular/mineral based oil, or synthetic. This can depend on the engine and the manufacturer, but often they will leave the choice up to you.

But whatever you select, select wisely. The last thing you will want is having your expensive motorcycle engine seize up while riding the freeway at 70 mph.

“Necessity is the mother of invention” as the proverb goes, and as mankind, we have a lot of needs, and therefore a lot of inventions. Here is the example of a creative man who had the need for a small and portable transportation vehicle to get around town without needing to have a bulky motorcycle or scooter. Something small and compact.

The man in question is a farmer in Hunan, China and during 10 years he tinkered on his majestical idea of putting a motorcycle inside a suitcase so that he could take it anywhere and not have to worry about parking it, and worse, that it might be stolen.

Suitcase-Motorcycle-1

So the farmer created the first ever motorcycle suitcase. With three small wheels, and collapsable steering wheel and even equipped with a fully functional GPS, the suitcase motorcycle is functional. And the design objectives were met; small and compact. The vehicle runs on a rechargeable lithium battery, so it’s even ecological.

The “suitbike” speeds through town at 20 kph (12 mph), though it has run 50-60 kph, but speed is not the issue. The whole thing weighs only 7 kilos (15lbs), so once he has arrived at his destination, he just lugs the suitcase inside, just like any other suitcase. The suitbike can ride up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) on a full charge. And if you’re traveling with someone, it can accommodate 2 people, so you can bring your pillion.

Suitcase-Motorcycle-2

I just wonder if the airlines would accept this as checked or cabin luggage. Imagine arriving at your destination airport, sitting on your suitcase, and riding away. Priceless.

What a great idea. Click here to see a video of the motorcycle suitcase.

WD-40 needs very little introduction to anyone who has something mechanical. Anything that moves needs to be lubricated and motorcycles are no exception. The following illustration is one of a biker’s normal workflow diagrams:

WD-40-Duct-tape

But so far, WD-40 has been used mostly as a lubrication oil. A handy spray-can that allows you to spray a good quality oil somewhere to make things move. But now WD-40 have extended their Specialist care product range to include motorcycles.

The WD-40 Special Motorcycle product range is currently on sale in Europe (I haven’t been able to find it in the USA, yet – but it will come, no doubt about it). The products are:

WD-40-Brake-CleanerBrake Cleaner

This product is designed to quickly remove brake dust, dirt, oil, and brake fluid from brake and clutch systems. The fast working formula dries in minutes and leaves no residue. Regular cleaning helps brake discs and pads last longer.

WD-40-Chain-CleanerChain Cleaner

This product is easy to use and quickly removes dirt, grime, dust and oil from chains. Compatible with O, X and Z ring chains the formula blasts off contaminants and dries in minutes. Regular cleaning helps to reduce wear on the chain to maintain performance for longer.

WD-40-Chain-LubeChain Lube

This product provides lasting lubrication and protection for your chain and is O, X, Z ring compatible. Its exceptional long lasting action makes it particularly suitable for dry conditions. It’s also quick drying and provides outstanding anti-fling properties. Regular use helps maintain the performance and life of your chain.

WD-40-Chain-WaxChain Wax

This product provides lasting lubrication and protection for your chain and is O, X, Z ring compatible. Its exceptional long lasting action makes it particularly suitable for dry conditions. It’s also quick drying and provides outstanding anti-fling properties. Regular use helps maintain the performance and life of your chain.

WD-40-Silicone-ShineSilicone Shine

This product is designed to give an all over great shine to your bike. The fast evaporating formula acts quickly and is easy to apply with no need to buff.

WD-40-Total-WashTotal Wash

This product is an all-purpose cleaner designed to quickly cut through traffic film and road grime. This formula leaves a great finish and is sage to use on paintwork, plastic, rubber, aluminium, chrome, carbon fibre and disc pads – basically all over the bike!

WD-40-Wax-PolishWax & Polish

This product is designed to leave your bike with a deep glossy shine. The formula contains Carnauba Wax, one of the hardest naturally occurring waxes, which provides a wet look finish and long lasting shine. It’s great for repelling water, allowing it to bead off paintwork to maintain a fantastic finish for longer. It’s easy to apply and streak free.

So now you can get a complete set of maintenance fluids for your motorcycle, all from that same dependable company (which turned 60 years this year).

You can find the whole range of WD-40 Special Motorcycle Care product by clicking here.

Is this something you would be interested in, or do you think it’s just a marketing gimmick?

Electric motorcycles have got their share of nay-sayers. Although truth be told, more and more bikers are seriously looking towards the electric motorcycle. With Harley-Davidson’s recent introduction of their LiveWire electric motorcycle, the e-motorcycle suddenly got thrust into the limelight.

Harley-Davidson LifeWire

Harley-Davidson LifeWire

Before, it was the likes of Brammo and Zero to carry the electric motorcycle evolution torch, but these startups do not have the market power that the Milwaukee brand has, and it was obvious if you followed the news; any news, since all TV stations around the world talked about it in their evening news. Even TV stations in Outer-Mongolia showed the Harley-Davidson.

But one place where electric bikes are starting to make their mark is in the motorcycle racing sport. And one race where they are doing so is at one of the most craziest, dangerous and spectator-drawing races: the Isle of Man TT race.

The Isle of Man TT race is a very long track using public roads on the Isle of Man (an island located next to England). And when I write public roads, it means that they take the normal road used by thousands of cars, trucks and buses and close it for a few hours to let motorcycles race on them. Roads that had previously seen mud, dirt, oil and even cattle droppings. All that while the motorcycles race at speeds of up to 150 mph! If you want to read more about the race and the atmosphere of the TT race, I highly recommend the book TT Full Throttle from author Nicole Winters (it’s a novel not a biography book, so the story never happened but the surroundings and facts are all true).

At this year’s IoM TT race, the current champion and TT legend John McGuinness on his electric Mugen Shinden motorcycle raced around the island, setting a new lap record for electric motorcycles at 117.366 mph. That’s an average speed, not the top speed! Below you can see the onboard video of the amazing run. The electric motorcycle is almost as fast as the ICE equivalent motorcycles (Internal Combustion Engine), which stands at 132 mph. The only difference is that the ICE motorcycles do 3 laps, while the electric motorcycle can only do one lap.

But watching the video, you know two things for sure: 1. electric motorcycles will in the next few years become mainstream, and 2) IoM TT racers are crazy and suicidal.

So maybe you are deadset against electric motorcycles, but 100 years ago people were against internal combustion engines, preferring horses. But that changed, didn’t it? So why wouldn’t electric motorcycles become mainstream?

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