Archive for the ‘Motorcycles in the Media’ Category

Sounds like a TV show riddle, doesn’t it? Cars and motorcycles are two distinctly different vehicles; cars have 4 wheels and motorcycles 2 (or three, but then it’s a sidecar). So why should a motorcycle be a car?

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

The answer is when the manufacturer is a motorcycle manufacturer and it uses a motorcycle engine, and it feels like a powerful sportsbike. Honda Motorcycle (not Honda cars) have released their concept Project 2&4. As stated, it’s a concept, so don’t rush to your local Honda dealer to buy one. They are just testing the waters.

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

But the beast, for nothing else describes it better, is powered by Honda RC213V engine, the same engine that propelled Marc Marquez to the world championship MotoGP last year. In other words, an enormously powerful engine, bolted onto a very light and flexible chassis.

The 1 liter engine develops 212 brake horsepower, and the whole motorcycle car motocar (for a lack of another word) weighs 893 pounds. The red zone starts at 13,000 RPM but at 10,000 you already have 118 Nm worth of torque. The center of gravity is very low, helped by a seat which “floats” (in other words, it’s not fixed, but moves with the motocar).

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

Honda Project 2&4 (Concept)

And yes, there is room for a passenger. That is, if the passenger is willing to sit in that contraption and hold on for dear life.

But is this the first motorcycle car? No, far from it. One the recent success stories comes from Austria, and it’s made by the Big Orange company, KTM. KTM have a successful X-Bow car (Crossbow), which is street-legal, but often found racing in Europe in its own category. But to be honest, it’s not a motorcycle engine that is used, but an Audi 2 liter engine, but it is a motorcycle company that is making it. Click here to read more about the KTM X-Bow.

KTM X-Bow (Crossbow)

KTM X-Bow (Crossbow)

Honda’s Japanese competitor, Suzuki, also released a concept motocar a few years ago (2001), using their successful high performance Hayabusa engine. Called the Suzuki GSX-R/4, the 181 mph capable vehicle never materialized as a production model.

Suzuki GSX-R4-RA

Suzuki GSX-R4-RA

Other manufactures have been designing cars with motorcycle engines, so it’s nothing new. In fact, back in the “old” days, it was quite common. Remember the post WWII BMW 600? Seen photos of it, right? It’s uses BMW 600 cc flat twin of BMW’s R67 motorcycle.

BMW 600

BMW 600

But let’s face it, the Honda 2&4 looks amazing and probably gives you sensations as rich as riding a powerful motorcycle down Laguna Seca. But would you buy one if you could go to your local Honda dealer? Well, maybe for a test ride…

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This little news item has been hitting the motorcycle web sites and magazines for a while now. The issue is that the Federal Bureau of Investigations, also known as the FBI (and also known under a few not so flattering names) likes to profile people. Profiles help them focus on who to go after. For example, if you have an Arabic sounding name, flown to Yemen for the last 3 times, then to Afghanistan and attended some training activities in those countries, you are “profiled” as a terrorist. Even if you are just a business person trying to make an honest buck. But maybe you are a terrorist.

But how far should these profiles go. According to the US government, it can’t go far enough. For example, if you buy a motorcycle, or even just get your motorcycle endorsement, the FBI automatically flags you as a gang member. You know .. like the Hells Angels, Bandidos, etc.

According to Wikipedia, a gang is defined as “A gang is a group of recurrently associating individuals or close friends or family with identifiable leadership and internal organization, identifying with or claiming control over territory in a community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent or illegal behavior.

So it doesn’t matter if you are an 80-year old who only rides to church on Sundays on her Harley. The fact that you have a motorcycle license, and you happen to have a bike, you are defacto profiled as a gang member.

So when you get pulled over by some state trooper, after a quick radio verification, they get a warning that you are a gang member. Crazy is a word that doesn’t even describe it.


Now let’s think about this differently. Law Enforcement also use motorcycles. They have cops who have a motorcycle license and ride a bike. Does this mean they are also classified as a gang member? Granted, we all do belong to an enormous gang, the gang of motorcycle riders. But it’s not a gang as such, it’s a brotherhood. Nothing wrong with that. The motorcycle cops are indeed part of a gang, especially if you read the definition of a gang above.

Let’s hope someone in the government has enough intelligence to stop senseless profiling. It has its uses, but limited only. Common sense should be the thought of the day, not a profile.

Do you feel you are part of a gang? Would you be offended by that, or do you think it’s normal?

Source: Washington Post

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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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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?

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.



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?


Article inspired by Ultimate Motorcycling

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