Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Motorcycles in the Media’ Category

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?

Read Full Post »

If you have been following the online and printed motorcycle press, you will have no doubt noticed the mention of a new motorcycle manufacturer, in this case Lotus. Lotus is an old name in the car racing world, having won many championships ranging from Formula One to Le Mans. But they have always been car makers, and although the manufacturer stopped many years ago, it got revived after its bankruptcy in 1996. The company started by the legendary Colin Chapman, got bought (several times) and is currently in the hands of Proton.

So is this new motorcycle part of the legendary Lotus car maker? In fact, no it is not. The Lotus that has been making a splash with their announced motorcycle is owned by German Kodewa and the tuner Holzer Group. They just licensed the Lotus name. So it’s not a Lotus is the pure sense of the words. But now let’s look at the motorcycle itself.

Lotus Motorcyles C-01

Named the C-01, it’s a stunner in the looks department. The bike was designed by none other than Daniel Simon, a man who worked for Volkswagen, but also Bugatti and he is the man who designed the motorcycles for the remake of the Tron: Legacy movie.

Lotus Motorcyles C-01

At the heart of the bike is a known engine, the KTM 1195 cc V-twin, an engine that has been proven as a reliable and very powerful engine. The Lotus C-01 motorcycle’s version develops an astonishing 200 horsepower.

The chassis itself is made out of aero tech steel, titanium and carbon fibre. The whole weighs a tad under 400 pounds (dry 181 kilos to be exact), so you can imagine its drag race power. If you want to know more about the technical specification, click here.

Lotus Motorcyles C-01

But it’s not just the sheer power that has captured the fancy of many motorcycle-lover, nor the name. It’s the design of this sleek bike and its paint jobs that make this a bike on many bucket list.s You just need to look at a few of the photos here to see why. Almost all the color schemes are based on the former glory of Lotus racing.

And as usual when these high-end motorcycles get launched, if you got to ask for the price, you can not afford it. No price has been disclosed, but when the production starts in a few month, as announced they will only make 100 units, we’ll bet you that it’s not going to be cheap. But were sure that the likes of Brad Pitt, Tom Cruiser and Jay Leno will shortly have a Lotus motorcycle in their garage.

Lotus Motorcyles C-01

Click here to access the Lotus Motorcycles web site for more info.

So, would you want to own this motorcycle?

Read Full Post »

We’ve all heard of biker gangs, the famous/notorious 1%ers. These motorcycle clubs (M/C), called names like Hells Angels, Bandidos, Rebels, etc are common place, you will find them all over the world. The term 1%er was coined by the AMA when one of the gangs came into the news after some violence. AMA stated that they represented 1% of the motorcycle population. And the term stuck.

But there is another biker gang, maybe another 1% of the motorcycle population, which is called the Blue Knights.

Blue Knights-logo The Blue Knights, an international motorcycle club, is not what you think. If you think “Blue” and see a bit of TV than you’ll have probably seen one of the police series with the word “Blue” in it; NYPD Blue, Rookie Blue, Hill Street Blues, The Thin Blue Line, etc. Yes, the word “Blue” refers to the police. And yes, the Blue Knights are a club of Law Enforcement Officers (LEO) who ride motorcycles.

It’s not an official police gang, but a group of officers who work(ed) in law enforcement who have a motorcycle club.

Like many other 1% gangs, they go on motorcycle rides, do charity work and hang out in their club houses. The organization is a not-for-profit one, and was created in 1974 by several LEOs in Bangor, Maine. Often you see them riding in official rides as security and stewards.

Blue-Knights-Patches

The organization has contributed $16.5 million towards charities around the world. They currently have 637 chapters with over 20,000 members in 25 countries. Like other motorcycle “gangs” they have a logo and patches for their leathers, and of course they have a web site.

Click here to access the Blue Knights main web site.

So next time you see a motorcycle gang, they might just be a gang that is on the other side of the law.

Read Full Post »

The legendary Indian Motorcycle company has had its ups and downs. Arguably one of the oldest motorcycle manufacturers still in existence, they have always had to fight another old and established American manufacturer, Harley-Davidson.

Both companies have been taken over several times, but Indian has had more knock downs. But every time they have risen, they have come back stronger. Last week in Sturgis they launched their new motorcycles. With big capital behind them in the shape of Polaris industry, they seem to be on the right track.

But will it last? Polaris make notably ATVs, but they already have one premium motorcycle brand, the Victory. Can Polaris keep pumping in money for two motorcycles brands? Currently Wall Street does think so, since Polaris’s share price keeps rising.

The Sturgis launch was a gutsy but very smart move. You reach a very large audience who ride the right kind of motorcycle; cruisers made-in-the-USA. It is a predominantly Harley-Davidson market, and Indian’s TV introduction teaser was targeted directly at the typical Harley rider.

Have a look (and a giggle) at the video:

The new Indian Motorcycle line-up looks the business, and should appeal to many bikers, and not only in the USA. If Harley-Davidson has been expanding royally abroad, it could benefit Indian as well. But at prices that allows many people to buy a good sized car (between $19,000 and $23,000), you need to be wealthy or fanatical to afford one.

So will all this help the old but classic brand? Money helps, that is for sure. But will a large population that is forcefully loyal to the Milwaukee brand switch? Time will tell.

Let us hope they do. There is always place for more manufacturers and iconic brands.

Read Full Post »

It used to be that if a few decades ago you asked anyone where the most cars were made, the answer would be Detroit. Detroit was world’s capital of car manufacturers. But alas, that is no longer the case. But what about motorcycles? Which part of the world makes the most motorcycles? If you would think Italy, because you know they have many famous brands (Aprilia, Benelli, Bimota, Cagiva, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Piaggio, Vespa), or Germany because of the German manufacturing might (and BMW of course), you would be wrong on both counts.

You might think it is Japan, since world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer comes from there (Honda), and there are three other big names located on the island (Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki). But again you would be wrong.

The city that has the most motorcycle manufacturers, and the one that makes the most motorcycles is Chongqing in China. Chongqing, formerly known as Chungkin, is located on 31,815 square miles in the center of China, and in municipal area houses over 28 million people.

They produce annually some 12 million motorcycles (in 2007 they were “only” producing 8.6 million). But the names on the motorcycles are unknown to most bikers in the Western world; names like Dayun, Haojin, Shineray, Loncin, Lifan or Yinxiang (amongst others). In total, there are 133 manufacturers, although many of them are smaller manufacturing units.

Yinxiang-YX150-CZ

Yinxiang-YX150-CZ

So these 12 million motorcycles made are not known in North American or Europe, because they are all sold in Asia, Africa and some parts of South America. The bikes usually have 125 cc – 200 cc engines and are pretty rudimentary, but solid and more importantly; cheap.

But let us not forget the history. Many decades ago, Japan started out like this. Small bikes, dubious quality and small exports to the Western world. Now, they dominate the motorcycle world. Eventually, the Chinese bikes will become a norm in our motorcycle world. In 10 years or so, many of us will be riding a Yinxiang or Lifan motorcycle. Already the Chinese have started exporting and selling their motorcycles in North America and Europe. If you can start riding your first motorcycle on a $500 bike, would that not be better than a $3000 bike?

Source

Article inspired by Ultimate Motorcycling

Read Full Post »

Ever since motorcycles have existed, famous people have been riding them. In the beginning, most where maverick actors, or daredevil personalities, who used the motorcycle as a way of expressing themselves, and standing out in a crowd. Many actually loved motorcycles, and their passion grew into their trademark.

Over the years, celebrities who were not part of the movie or TV industry started using motorcycles to create an image of themselves. Only just recently, Republican 2012 Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman came into the news, using promotional material of him on a motorcycle. There is very little doubt that Jon Huntsman is a passionate motorcycle rider, there are plenty of photos of him circulating on the internet from before he became really famous. But is the use of him riding a motorcycle beneficial to us?

But what do motorcycle riding celebrities bring to the motorcycle world? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing?

There is no correct answer for that. Some are positive, some are not. I would say that you can divide famous bikers into two categories; the true riders, and the image riders.

True Riders:

True riders are those people that really love motorcycles. They ride on every occasion they get, and are very much like you and me (except richer and famous). These are people who have been riding since the first motorcycles were produced. Passionate bikers like T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), or even Royalties like the King Albert II of Belgium, King Juan Carlos of Spain, King Abdullah II of Jordan (as was his father King Hussein) or the recent-in-the-news Prince William of England, are all known for their love for motorcycles. Famous chefs like Jaime Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Alton Brown are known not only for their food skills, but also for their motorcycles.

You can not imagine people like Jay Leno without a motorcycle, or at least talking about them. Even the corporate world has them; Malcolm Forbes is famous for his motorcycles, and he even started a motorcycle gang called Capitalist Tools. Jacques Nasser, former CEO of Ford was a keen biker, as is the current CEO of Volkswagen. Apple CEO & founder, Steve Jobs for a long time was seen riding around California on his BMW motorcycle. All groups of life, all professions, have famous people, and for some of them, they ride motorcycles. Actors, musicians, sports people, politicians, TV personalities and corporate big wigs.

But what do all theses people bring to the motorcycle world? The answer for that one is quite simple, they bring a certain amount of respect. The biker image, mostly thanks to Hollywood, has been negative. Bikers are seen in movies as trouble; riding fast, fighting, nonconformist and loud people. Hollywood’s image of a motorcycle rider is that of gangs, killers and troublemakers. But when A-list people take to their bikes, it presents some counter image. If they ride motorcycles and they are respected people in their community or profession, then maybe bikers are not that bad after all.

Maybe using an actor/actress or musician as a role model is not so good. After all, acting is not seen as a respectable profession. But seeing politicians like Jon Huntsman, Ann Richards, Mary Peters, Gabrielle Giffords and Ben Nighthorse Campbell riding motorcycles, despite the fact that they are politicians, gives bikers a degree of respect and conformity. Seeing Fortune 100 CEOs ride motorcycles shows a certain responsibility that you and me can never match. But unfortunately, not all famous people are real bikers, and therefore are responsible riders.

Image Riders

The image riders are famous people who ride motorcycles because it’s good for their image, or at least they think so. Motorcycles are not a passion, but a tool. It’s often these people who have accidents because they were not able to control their bike and make the headlines. Usually, they are in the acting or music business. Names like David Hasselhof or Arnold Schwartzenegger make big headlines when they crash, and it’s never good headlines. Arnold went off his motorcycle, and then they discovered that he didn’t even have a motorcycle endorsement. How can anyone take motorcycles riders serious when the Governator is riding around on a motorcycle without a valid license? Hasselhof blew off his motorcycle with his girlfriend after a wind gust hit him. Most bikers know how to control a motorcycle in heavy wind, but apparently Hasslehof had problems.

Some, unfortunately often musicians, ride a motorcycle badly, sometimes without proper protection, or under influence, and that deters from the image of bikers to the non-biker world.

Of course real bikers have accidents too. Big names like Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Adrian Brody, Lauren Hutton and Liam Neeson all had accidents, but that’s motorcycles for you. Motorcycles are dangerous, but they all went back to riding their bikes. They ride with proper protection, and all know how to ride.

So motorcycle riding celebs can bring a better image to the motorcycle world, while image riders detract. Having an accident on a motorcycle when they are famous, and if they’re not wearing a helmet and other safety gear, or DUI, sets a bad image. It also sets a bad example for impressionable people (often youngsters) who will emulate their idol. If their idol doesn’t ride with a helmet, why should they?

Motorcycle riding celebrities have a responsibility, and should set an example. Show the world how it’s done properly. That will build goodwill with non-motorcycle riding people.

Read Full Post »

Motus MST

Motus MST

The North American motorcycle market is enormous, and every manufacturer in the world understands that. Japanese and European manufacturers are all vying for a top spot in the market. But the USA has only one real major manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, and some other smaller ones, like Indian and Victory, that compete in Harley’s dominant position, that of the cruiser market.

Although the US has smaller sportsbike builders, none have arrived on the scene to compete directly with the Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis, Ducatis, Aprilias and BMWs of this world. That is until this month.

During the Daytona BikeWeek, the new Motus MST was unveiled officially. Still in prototype phase, the MST is a “comfortable” sportsbike made for touring. The motorcycle was designed from the ground up, and sports a lively V4 1650 cc engine, using direct injection technology. This means that the motorcycle will be fast, and the ride smooth. Good performance and low vibes are essential for touring. Some 161 horsepower, 25% less emission and 10% more power than comparable bikes are impressive numbers. But what’s more important in an era of higher and higher gas prices, is that fuel consumption will be low.

 But is the US sportstouring market big enough for their own US based manufacturer, especially considering that the majority of motorcycles sold are cruisers?

The answer would be a hesitant YES. North America is geographically vast, with miles and miles of roads. Riding them on a cruiser is fun, but if you’ve got to go a long distance, riding on a cruiser is not that comfortable. Riding a fully dressed motorcycle like the Honda Goldwing or BMW K1600 GTL is obviously one nice way, but at a very high cost.

Enter the Motus MST. In the tradition of (amongst other) the Ducati ST or Moto-Guzzi Norge, the Motus is made to ride in comfort, but with a high performance. The bike should be able to eat up miles and miles of asphalt, and once you hit the twisties, pure fun.

Add to that a design that makes maintenance a breeze, the bike should sell well. Throw into the hat the fact that people feel it’s their patriotic duty to buy national products, the bike once it’s on sale next year could do very well. There is enough space in the crowded marketplace for an American built sportsbike, particularly in North America.

The biggest question will be the price. But to be successful, Motus will need to sell a lot to keep the price reasonable. And to do that, they will need to compete in Europe. And that is a totally different story.

 For more info:  Motus

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 226 other followers