Okay so 3-wheelers aren’t exactly motorcycles, but most offer a similar experience far removed from that of driving a car. Models like Can-Am’s Spyder can make decent (albeit expensive) alternatives for some people that really want the open air sensation of riding a motorcycle but can’t quite come to terms with handling one.
This is Honda’s 3R-C concept vehicle, a battery-powered electric 3-wheeler designed for urban transport. The canopy cover moves forward and becomes a windshield when it’s actually in use. It was designed by Honda’s R&D facility in Milan, so it’s easy to imagine they have dense, car-unfriendly cities in mind with this concept. I’d definitely use it to pick up some groceries… if there’s anywhere to stow them.
2008 wasn’t a great year for motorcyclists in California, continuing an increasing trend in accidents and fatalities coupled with a large increase in registered motorcycles over the past several years. Fortunately the first half of 2009 has broken the trend and saw a greatly reduced number of fatalities vs. the same period in 2008, so let’s hope the trend continues. Here are some interesting statistics from the California Office of Traffic Safety’s California Traffic Safety Report Card for 2008.
Let’s just get one thing straight, BMW’s S1000RR is most definitely not a beginner’s bike. This beast makes 193 HP (at the crankshaft) from just one liter of displacement – amazing. In any case BMW put up this really cool video of the valves in action. After a certain RPM it’s impossible to see what’s happening with the valves (slo-mo would’ve been nice), but still, it’s incredible to think this is also happening inside your bike’s engine. Maybe not this furiously, but you get the idea. In case you’re wondering, some MotoGP bikes use pneumatic valves (instead of springs) to deal with the even crazier RPMs involved at the world’s top level of motorcycle racing.
A few days ago I noticed that many of the freeway condition signs in Los Angeles were displaying the message “SHARE THE ROAD LOOK TWICE FOR MOTORCYCLISTS.” I was encouraged to see this happening especially since it seems every time I turn on the radio and hear a traffic report, there’s a motorcycle accident mentioned.
IDC has developed an intriguing new helmet technology designed to minimize helmet impact friction and the subsequent trauma-inducing head rotations that occur during certain types of motorcycle accidents. Basically the helmet is designed to slide instead of grip upon impact. You can buy one of these later this year under the Lazer brand; check the links for more info.
For those of you thinking you’ll eventually try a track day, a set of leathers is required and is nice to have for canyon rides anyway. It was time for me to find a new set after 4 1/2 years of beating up my old Alpinestars GPU 2 piece suit. It had been through 3 minor offs and performed admirably, but I wasn’t sure the right knee area could take another spill without tearing apart. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the fit – Alpinestars doesn’t seem to be built for relatively skinny guys like me. The jacket fit well enough but Beyonce couldn’t fill the butt on those pants. I swear it looked like I was carrying around a sack of potatoes back there. Enter Dainese.
You know the industry’s hurting when even Ducati rolls out super-low financing offers. Right now you can get certain naked models at a 2.99% APR for 60 months until the end of March 2010. Generally speaking I don’t recommend Ducatis as a first bike; there are many reasons to buy a cheaper used bike as a first ride. But for the headstrong among you with the “new or nothing” mentality, there are worse first bikes than the Monster 696, which is included in this deal. Smokin’ link below.
If you’re new to motorcycle riding, picking out your riding gear is the most fun you’ll have apart from buying your first bike. The only problem is figuring out the who, what and where. I distinctly remember how clueless I felt when it came time for me to buy my first batch of gear. Hopefully I can shed some light on the subject for you and help point you in the right direction.
It’s strange to realize there’s a beautiful forest right in our backyard here in Los Angeles, but it’s there. Thanks to Angeles Crest Highway, anyone can enjoy the fresh mountain air and beautiful views in the heart of the Angeles National Forest. It’s also a legendary road for motorcycle riders thanks to its snaking mountain curves and Newcomb’s Ranch, the mile-high biker-friendly restaurant/hang out in the midst of the pines. A huge portion of our forest was tragically destroyed in last autumn’s devastating Station Fire, closing Angeles Crest Highway for months and turning vast wooded areas into empty dirt. The road was reopened on November 30, 2009 but the forest is not the same.
Kawasaki has issued a recall on the 2009-2010 Ninja 250R, though only 250 units are actually affected. If you’ve bought one of these wonderful bikes, the best sport starter bike around in my opinion, huff it on down to your local Kawasaki dealer to have it checked out. The odds are very slim yours is one of the 250 (they probably sell well over 10,000 of these a year in the U.S.), but have them take a look anyway. Here’s a summary of the issue from the NHTSA web site:
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 09V464000
KAWASAKI IS RECALLING MODEL YEAR 2009-2010 EX250 NINJA 250 MOTORCYCLES. POROSITY IN THE ENGINE CASE COULD ALLOW ENGINE OIL TO LEAK, AND BE DEPOSITED ON THE REAR TIRE. A SMALL NUMBER OF UPPER ENGINE CASES FOR THE AFFECTED MODEL COULD HAVE POROSITY IN THE ALUMINUM CASTING. THIS POROSITY OCCURS IN THE VICINITY OF A PRESSURIZED OIL PASSAGE JUST ABOVE THE TRANSMISSION OUTPUT SHAFT.
ENGINE OIL LEAKING FROM THIS LOCATION CAN BE DEPOSITED ON THE REAR TIRE, CREATING THE RISK OF A CRASH.
DEALERS WILL INSPECT AND CHECK FOR LEAKS IN THE VICINITY OF THE SUSPECTED POROSITY. UNITS EVIDENCING SIGNS OF LEAKAGE WILL BE REPAIRED FREE OF CHARGE. THE SAFETY RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ON OR ABOUT DECEMBER 8, 2009. OWNERS MAY CONTACT KAWASAKI AT 1-866-802-9381.
OWNERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION’S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV .
The NTSA campaign ID number is 09V464000 in case you wanted to click the link and check for yourself. If you’re worried about Kawasaki’s quality, don’t be. A good manufacturer will have high traceability on everything they make. If they’re able to narrow this down to 250 or so specific bikes, that’s pretty damn good and means they’ve got decent quality assurance procedures in place to be able to trace issues like this. Of course this doesn’t excuse whatever happened to create the issue in the first place. It could have been anything from a bad batch of raw material to a procedural mistake, but the fact that they’re able to go back and narrow this down to a specific lot of 250 bikes is a good sign.