Major changes for 1928 Harley-Davidson models included a stronger fork and front brakes, which resulted in improved handling and a total-loss oil system fed from an oil tank concealed in the front half of the left fuel tank. The Harley-Davidson JDL Solo Sport had a 74 cubic inch engine.
1928 was also the first year for optional colors: Coach Green, Azure Blue, Police Blue and Maroon were priced at $24 (about $320 in 2012), while cream and white carried a $27 price tag. The J series overhead valve V-twin was the basis for all the future 74 cubic inch and 80 cubic inch Harley big twins.
Source : http://www.motorcycleclassics.com/
Of all the Ducati “SS” variants, the last-of-the-line 1982 900SS has historically been the least desirable. Second only to the first-year 900SS in rarity (335 made versus 246 in 1975), its beauty and cachet as a “true” Ducati Super Sport is finally being appreciated.
It’s doubtful any other motorcycle manufacturer can point to a single date when its fortunes changed as dramatically as Ducati’s did on April 23, 1972.
In 1970, Ducati management, under Arnaldo Milvio and Fredmano Spairani, decreed the factory would go racing again after an 11-year hiatus. With every Grand Prix class up to 350cc dominated by Japanese two-strokes, the larger capacities beckoned. For Ducati’s re-entry into racing, chief designer Fabio Taglioni developed a 500cc GP L-twin with two-valve desmo heads, but it was no match for Agostini on the MV. Ducati was also developing a 750, and the announcement of Formula 750 for production-based bikes and the inaugural 200-mile race at Imola on April 23, 1972 — billed as the “Daytona of Europe” — was Ducati’s great opportunity.
After assessing the potential competition at Daytona in March 1972, Taglioni had just a month to come up with a race bike. Though based on the just-introduced 1971 spring-valve 750GT, the Imola Ducati used desmo valve gear, which with special cams, twin spark plugs and 40mm Dell’Orto carbs allowed the engine to rev to 9,200rpm and develop 84 rear-wheel horsepower at 8,800rpm. Billet connecting rods ran on a 750GT crank driving straight-cut primary gears to a stock GT transmission. Marzocchi forks and triple-disc brakes completed the specification, and with unnecessary ancillaries removed the Imola 750 weighed in at 392 pounds — light for a street bike, but not for a racer.
Ducati approached a number of top riders including Jarno Saarinen and Renzo Pasolini to ride the 750, but all declined; the new bike was considered unproven — which, of course, it was. Evergreen Ducati team member Bruno Spaggiari, then 39, would start, but the team needed a high-profile rider. The story goes that a phone call to rising GP star Paul Smart’s home in Kent, England, was answered by his wife, Maggie (sister of the famous Barry Sheene), who “promised” that the reluctant Smart would ride the Ducati in the Imola race.
Source : http://www.motorcycleclassics.com/
In the period prior to WW2, the automobile was beyond the financial reach of the average family and motorcycles with sidecars were commonplace as family transport. Enterprising Czech engineer Albin Liebisch embarked on a different philosophy, creating three and even four seat motorcycles sold in Germany under the brand Böhmerland. The 1937 Langtouren (long touring) model pictured is a three seater with two gearboxes, the second one requiring a passenger to change gears. The cast wheels were also a first for motorcycles.
The long 1937 Böhmerland Langtouren used a 603cc single cylinder engine with exposed valve gear, two gearboxes, two petrol tanks (both at the rear of the bike on either side) and a very long wheelbase, though it must be said that the roadholding behaviour of long wheelbase motorcycles is far more predictable and easier-to-use than motorcycles with sidecars.
The vehicle pictured will go under the hammer at Bonhams on February 27 with an estimated sale price of GBP 35,000 to GBP45,000.
Source : http://www.gizmag.com/ - By : Gizmag Team
Every time a motorcycle manufacturer gushes its latest bike is “in a class by itself,” skeptical eyebrows all over the world get raised. Surely, jaded motorcyclists intone, this is just another exaggerated marketing ploy.
So it’s surprising to discover that Star’s new V Star 1300 Deluxe truly has zero competition. There simply isn’t another production, mid-size, quote-unquote bagger out there. Every other semi-dressed tourer on the market features a large-displacement engine, and any bagged bike with an engine in this displacement range has a windshield rather than a fairing and its saddlebags are likely leather – or, if they are hard-molded, leather-wrapped. Star noticed a hole in the façade of Bagger Nation, and this new motorcycle fills it nicely.
Featuring a fork-mounted batwing-style fairing and hard molded, color-matched saddlebags, the V Star 1300 Deluxe is a fully realized bagger whose engine is smaller and lighter than, say, a Street Glide’s or Vaquero’s, but still features plenty of power for the long haul. Further, because it’s in what Star execs referred to as the Casual Full Dress category, it has some, but not all, of the bells and whistles that make up a full dresser, keeping costs down.
Simply put, it’s a bagger that’s accessible to more than just baby boomer males. While it rocks comparable dimensions to the large displacement baggers – its 27.2-inch seat height and 66.5-inch wheelbase put it right up there with the big boys – it feels considerably lighter than any other production bagger on the market, and handles accordingly. And with an MSRP of $13,690, the 2013 V Star 1300 Deluxe costs anywhere from $3400 to $6000 less than any of them.
2013 Star V Star 1300 Deluxe Action Right
Its smaller engine makes Star’s new 1300 Deluxe far lighter than other baggers, and as a result it dives into and pulls out of, corners eagerly.
At first glance, the V Star 1300 Deluxe closely resembles the 1854cc Stratoliner Deluxe that Star has been offering since 2010. For MY2013, however, that bike was put on hold to focus on filling this mid-sized hole in the bagger marketplace.
Like the Strat D, the V Star Deluxe also has speakers and a GPS mounted into its fairing, but unlike its big brother these features are now fully fleshed out. The XM Satellite Radio- and Bluetooth-equipped Garmin Zumo 665 GPS is mounted into the dash, as on a car, and your iPod/iPhone/MP3 player now connects to a jack in the left saddlebag, safe from the elements and prying eyes.
The removable Garmin unit is conveniently high and front-and-center, and is easily actuated with gloved fingers. That’s important, because if you want to utilize the GPS or change the XM station, you need to touch the screen. Obviously, this is a function that should be performed while stopped but, considering the unit’s location directly under the windscreen, it’s not difficult to do while rolling straight and steady.
Unlike some other units we’ve heard, the V Star’s audio system kicks out plenty of crisp, clear sound that’s better, even, than the Stratoliner Deluxe’s. As far as sound quality, this may be the best production stereo this writer has ever enjoyed. Music, voices, and turn-by-turn directions are all easy to hear at highway speeds.
2013 Star V Star 1300 Deluxe Switchgear
A switchgear near the left grip is handy, but functionality is limited to volume control, switching the speakers between the GPS/XM and your iPhone/iPod, and pause/play and track forward/back (iPod/iPhone only).
The addition of XM is genius for obvious reasons; owners of the Garmin 665 – and therefore, this motorcycle – would be foolish not to subscribe, if only for its local weather and traffic bands.
As for those highway speeds, Star’s new bagger is a heckuva runner. Its 1304cc V-Twin (same mill that pushes the Stryker) has plenty of pulling power for getting up the onramp and over into the fast lane. Its gears, actuated with a slick heel-toe shifter, are longer in the tooth at the top end than the Stryker’s – ideal for highway cruising and touring. The V-Twin comes up short in only one area. The ratio gap between second and third gears is large enough that neither cog feels ideal for mid-range speeds, especially when climbing a hill. We look forward to seeing how the Vee-Dee performs loaded with luggage and with a passenger on its pillion.
But this midsize bagger isn’t about performance; it’s about comfort and value – two qualities it has in spades. Its saddle is wide and cushy, and its appointments are more than just serviceable. The long floorboards are plenty wide, and the tall windscreen is extremely effective at pushing the elements around the rider’s head and torso. On our hot day test ride, I wished more air would come around it.
My only complaint is a personal nitpick, but because I’m an average-sized guy it’s worth pointing out: the windscreen tops out at just above eye level for this 5’11” rider. I could barely look over it, so more often than not I found myself slouching slightly to look through the Lexan. For a long-haul tour, though, it would be tremendous, and for many of the journalists on our one-day ride, it was fine just the way it is.
With 7.5 gallons of space in each saddlebag, cargo is ported by two of the largest compartments we’ve seen on any bagger; big enough, even, to close around my three-quarter lid while I tried out a new half-helmet.
In its current iteration, the VStar 1300 Deluxe lacks full-dress touring amenities like cruise control and ABS, which helps keep its cost down. But those haven’t been ruled out as optional accessories in the future. In the meantime, more than 130 accessories are available, many cosmetic for personalization and about half of them licensed from noted aftermarket manufacturers like Kuryakyn and Arlen Ness. Also available are backrests and passenger floorboards designed to enhance long-range touring comfort.
To call the V Star 1300 Deluxe the Stratoliner Deluxe’s little brother wouldn’t be far from the truth. Considering the vast improvements made here, don’t be surprised to see the Strat D return in MY14 with a similar dashboard layout. For now, its little brother is a more than capable semi-dressed tourer with the power, handling, technology and visual panache to satisfy any bagger fan. And it’s the only bagger out there with the accessibility in both size and price to attract new bagger fans who always thought themselves too small or too poor to have one of their own. And that’s no exaggeration.
Source : http://www.motorcycle.com
The Vectrix Corporation introduced its “entry-level” VX-2 and 2009 VX-1E urban commuting model at the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show in New York this past weekend. These two new models will join the VX-1 in Vectrix’s lineup.
The VX-2 is a smaller, more compact electric equivalent of a 50cc internal combustion engine (ICE) bike with a weight of 429 lbs, a wheelbase of 54.5-inches and seat height of 29.9-inches. It features a 40-50 mile range, 30-mph speed capability and a 48V/20A battery charger that plugs into a standard 110V/220V outlet and safe, near-silent operation. Expected to arrive in showrooms June 2009 with an MSRP of $5,195., the VX-2 will be available in green, blue, red, yellow and white.
The VX-1E utilizes the same platform and drivetrain as the original VX-1, yet features a lower price point and a more urban commuter driver profile including less sprightly acceleration and top speed numbers. VX-1E is expected to arrive at dealers in April with a MSRP is $8,495.
Source : http://blog.motorcycle.com/
This is starting to get repetitive. In 2010 we awarded the S1000RR with top sportbike honors because of the statement it made in the category. In typical BMW fashion, the S1RR perfected what sportbikes should be. From its incredibly powerful engine to its advanced electronics, the 2010 S1000RR was simply amazing, especially considering its price just marginally higher than its Japanese counterparts.
Not one to rest on its laurels, after just two years BMW has updated its class-conquering literbike to once again win our Best Sportbike award for 2012. What’s been changed? At first glance it would appear the same, but as Editor Duke notes in his first ride review numerous changes have been made to improve handling.
The already powerful engine was left alone, but a new frame accommodates a slight geometry change front and rear, while suspension bits get updated as well. Electronic tweaks here and there make the bike more rideable. All told, each individual change was rather minor, but as a whole the updated S1000RR is clearly a better motorcycle than before, handily winning our European Literbike Shootout this year. With such impressive dominance, it was the clear choice for our 2012 Sportbike of the Year. And with the recently announced 2013 S1000RR HP4 due out soon, the competition’s chances already look grim for next year.
Source : http://www.motorcycle.com/
Kawasaki’s best-selling motorcycle is not the lightning fast Ninja ZX-10R litre sports bike, the only Japanese bike still in the race for the World Superbike Championship. Nor is it the company’s 200 mph ZX-14R Ninja projectile. Ironically, it’s the diminutive Ninja 250 which translates the performance DNA of the brand into a more practical and affordable “learners” bike with definite sporting aspirations.On the fortieth anniversary of the bike which changed everything (the original 900cc Z1 superbike), Kawasaki has announced a 300cc version of its entry-level, four-stroke, parallel-twin Ninja 250R, and those sporting aspirations have been comprehensively realized.
A significant redesign of the 250 was recently announced for the Japanese marketplace after three decades of incremental improvement and the new 300 gets all those features, plus an extra 50cc.
Most significantly, the engine is entirely new, and although the stroke is only slightly longer, the power output of the new liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, fuel-injected parallel twin is claimed to be 29 kilowatt or 38.9 horsepower - that’s roughly a 20% increase in power over the current Ninja 250 and puts it into the same performance envelope of the thinly-disguised two-stroke quarter liter racer-roadsters of not-long-ago … and instead of the hydrocarbon-broadcasting, ecological disasters of yesteryear, we now have finely-tuned, fuel-injected, responsive and squeaky clean engines which the other ASEAN motorcycle manufacturers will not be able to match, at least not in the foreseeable future.
Both the new Ninja 250R and Ninja 300 are clearly aimed at Honda’s sweet single-cylinder CBR250R which has taken significant market share from the Ninja in many important “monied” marketplaces since its release.
It’s not surprising that the Honda CBR250R should draw such an aggressive response from Kawasaki - just as prestige automotive brands provide entry-level vehicles to introduce aspiring enthusiasts to their brand, the emergence of dozens of Chinese and Korean brands has now elevated the Japanese establishment into the utmost upper strata of motorcycledom.
Accordingly, Honda and Kawasaki are fighting over what they perceive as long-term customers, so the prestige/horsepower war that has traditionally been fought with flagship four-cylinder liter-plus models has now being escalated to Defcon 1 in the lower, entry-level classes.
A quick perusal of the specifications reveals a completely new motorcycle - new motor, new induction, new frame, new suspension, new brakes, new wheels, and a superbike class feature set - many of the features which sell liter-bike supersport machinery have been added to the bonsai Ninja.
Apart from the massive horsepower boost, clumsy agricultural carburettors have been replaced with finely calibrated, second-generation fuel-injection, and features which have only recently become available on superstock contenders have been added to the mix - a 290mm petal-disk, twin-caliper brake, advanced suspension, and astonishingly, a slipper clutch.
The slipper clutch was derived to mitigate the engine braking of high compression racing four-strokes on the entry into corners on the racetrack … and not all that long ago.
Apart from adding unnecessary stress on the engine, chain, clutch and gearbox, the dysfunctional stress of engine braking unsettled the bike on corner entry, and getting a bike into a corner on the limits no longer required the additional effects of engine braking as the rear disk brake had more than enough power and feel to provide optimum retardation. What was once a bonus on big four-stroke singles with anemic drum rear brakes had become a problem and the slipper clutch was the answer.
Such invention is less than a quarter century old at the elite level of motorsport, so whether it’s warranted on an entry-class machine is debatable – we’ll reserve judgement on the need for a slipper clutch on such a small free-revving engine until we’ve ridden one. Whilst it sounds like a minor case of overkill, it may be just another refinement on the way to the perfect motorcycle for riders who have not yet developed the feel to push a motorcycle to its limits.
The ABS (anti-lock braking system) is claimed to be significantly more sophisticated, and a new more rigid diamond frame, revised suspension, a wider 140 mm rear tire, better heat management (to direct hot air away from the rider), plus a range of features from larger Ninja and ZZR models such as a ZX-10R-style floating windscreen, dual headlights similar to the Ninja ZX-6R, a ZZR1400-style fairing and wheel design, aluminum foot-pegs and a silencer shaped much more like the bigger Ninja models (and far more advanced in its design.)
There’s also a completely new instrumentation package, with an analogue-style tachometer, a multi-function LCD including fuel gauge, dual trip meters, clock, and an “Economical Riding Indicator.”
The new Kawasaki Ninja 300 will be available at Kawasaki dealerships later this month or next. Different colors and specifications will be available in different markets, but for now, we’re aware of Pearl Stardust White, Ebony or Special Edition Lime Green liveries, and some markets will get ABS as standard, while others will get them as optional. Pricing has not yet been announced.
What’s the Triumph Tiger Explorer got the BMW R1200GS does not? One cylinder and about 50 more pounds of wet weight. At least that’s what we can deduce at this juncture having ridden the two bikes separately but not yet directly compared them.
This will change soon, however, as our annual trek to Laguna Seca for MotoGP includes these two machines, a Yamaha Super Ténéré, Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX and KTM 990 Adventure. Hundreds of miles of off-road, freeway and twisty pavement will ensue, and we’ll even spend a night camping in the Sierra Mountains. But for now, here’s our take on Triumph’s newest big-bore entry into the Adventure-Touring market.
With minimal off-road riding time, this review largely focuses on the Explorer’s on-road competence, which is apropos as bikes of this nature generally traverse more paved than unpaved miles in their lifetimes. We’ll have a better understanding of its off-road performance whence returning from MotoGP, but let’s get this review underway with an element of equal importance to both types of riding – the engine.
Probably the Explorer’s best attribute is its 1215cc Triple, Triumph’s newest engine powering both it and the forthcoming Trophy SE. Producing a claimed 135 horsepower at 9,000 rpm (500 rpm below redline) and 89 ft-lb of torque at 6,400 rpm, the biggest Tiger in Triumph’s line-up bests its 800cc stablemate by a claimed 41 hp and 31 more claimed ft-lb of torque. Like the Tiger 800, the Explorer’s mill produces gobs of low- and mid-range grunt in a vibration-free power delivery but with more arm-yanking urgency than the 800.
Control of that power is transmitted to the ECU via a ride-by-wire throttle, and while the system seems to work with modern efficiency, it’s also home to the Explorer’s most glaring defect; a ridiculously light throttle return spring. Lacking the proper tension, even the most steady-handed rider cannot stop mild road imperfections from causing movements in the throttle which the engine responds to by minor increases and decreases in speed. Off-road riding, with its coarse topography, will exacerbate this effect.
Like BMW’s Paralever design, the Explorer employs a shaft drive with a torsional damping system via a sprung bevel gear in order to maintain the bike’s designed geometric arrangement. To further reduce the adverse effects brought about by a shaft-driven rear wheel, Triumph explains that the shaft is “a two-part ‘metalistic’ shaft, which means that a rubber component sits between two separate shafts to deliver a smoother riding experience.”
The Tiger Explorer is rife with rider aids including cruise control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control (TC). The simple pleasure of removing your right hand from the grip to stretch and restore blood flow that cruise control offers is worth the admission price. Selectable in 1-mph increments, a rider can choose the exact speed he wishes to travel, take a breather and enjoy the scenery.
Both ABS and TC are switchable, the ABS for on/off and TC with a choice of two positions (#1 more intrusive, #2 less intrusive) and off. Both functions are controlled via left handlebar button operations and visible on the digital instrument cluster. The ABS isn’t as easy as the BMW’s to disengage but it’s not rocket science and with a few practice runs you’ll have the process mastered. Both functions default to “on” whenever the ignition is keyed off.
Other conveniences of the Explorer include a height-adjustable rider seat and position-adjustable handlebars, while a 950-watt generator powers optional two-stage heated seats for both rider ($370) and passenger ($320), optional two-stage heated grips ($200), optional fog lights ($350), the integrated power supply in the optional top box ($440) and the tank-mounted power socket.
The Tiger Explorer is available with the same basic optional hard luggage accessories we reported on with the introduction of last year’s Tiger 800 and Tiger 800XC. “The visually rugged saddlebags ($800) are seemingly built to withstand a Dakar-esque get-off, and I liked their lockable, easy-on, easy-off design that will appeal to commuters. But a component is only as strong as its weakest part, and on these saddlebags it’s the attachment point. Twice I witnessed bags break off of fellow journalist bikes during slow-speed, front-end washouts in the dirt. Off-road warriors will wish for more robust mounts.”
While the Explorer’s saddlebags are susceptible to the same easy breakage, the system does boast Triumph’s Dynamic Luggage System (TDLS). In short, the system is said to help maintain chassis balance by allowing each saddlebag to move through a damped five-degree arc. First introduced on the 2004 Sprint ST, the system has, according to Triumph, been advanced during each subsequent iteration and will be present on the forthcoming 2013 Trophy SE.
On pavement-only Sprint and Trophy models, the loose attachment of the bags isn’t as noticeable and may provide some of the performance benefits Triumph claims, but on the off-road Tiger models the system allows the luggage to bang around noisily and break off easily which negates any perceivable advantage the system might provide on the street.
Another technical option available on the Tiger Explorer is Triumph’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) ($160) that displays air pressure for both front and rear wheels on the 2 x 2.5-inch LCD instrument screen. The instrument cluster also includes a digital speedometer, analog tachometer, gear-position indicator, fuel gauge, range to empty, service indicator, clock, air temperature, frost warning, hazard warning lights and trip computer.
Tire sizes of 110/80-19 front and 150/70-17 rear equal that of the GS, while the Explorer’s inverted, preload-adjustable 46mm fork boasts 7.48 inches of travel. The Kayaba rear monshock has 7.63 inches of travel and features a remote oil reservoir, rebound adjustment and preload adjustment from a conveniently located twist knob next to the rider’s right leg. Other niceties include removable rubber inserts inside the footpegs, a centerstand and 90-degree valve stems.
Time spent aboard the Explorer can be described as comfortable, including rider ergonomics (seat in the high position for those taller than 5’ 10”), windflow from the non-adjustable windscreen, and the optional two-stage heated seat installed on our test bike. For 2012 the Tiger Explorer is available in Phantom Black, Graphite and Sapphire Blue.
Is the new Tiger Explorer worth its $15,700, non-accessorized asking price? Possibly. It’s more expensive than Yamaha’s Super Ténéré ($14,500) but less than BMW’s R1200GS ($16,150) so it’s appropriately priced. In a few weeks we’ll have a definite answer as to which bike we prefer. Compared to the 800cc Tigers, the Explorer is more bike, but the lighter, more manageable size of the Tiger 800 and 800XC will get you into and out of more precarious off-road predicaments, leaving you to decide if you require a bike that’s more touring or one that’s more off-road adventurous.
When it comes to affordable, practical and simple two-wheel transportation, scooters are hard to beat. And when you find one that allows you to extend your range with its ability to hop on the freeway, its value goes up even more. The Honda PCX150 checks all these boxes.
At $3449 it’s relatively inexpensive and is well suited for the college student or urban dweller. Its weight is distributed low in the chassis for solid, stable handling, and the cavernous space under the seat is more than enough for groceries, books or even a change of clothes. Oh yeah, it also gets 102 mpg. Or at least that’s what Honda says.
Most impressive is its engine. At 150cc, it has plenty of punch to keep up with traffic without making you feel like a sitting duck. It’ll do freeway speeds up to 70 mph, but no more. Despite this, you’ll be hard pressed to find a bigger bang for your buck elsewhere.
After kicking the beast to life it was time to set off for the track. From that point on, the new KX proved extremely impressive, as it had plenty of power to clear the doubles of the track - even with this mildly-tubby rider on board. More about that later; first, what makes the ‘09 KX250F new?
Seriously, nearly every single piece of the ‘09 KX250F has been redesigned. Starting with the (take a deep breath) 249cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, four-valve, DOHC ‘thumper’ engine, a new cylinder head keeps the titanium valves from last year but enlarges them and casts them from a revised material. Along with a straighter intake tract, the new head allows the engine to take much deeper breaths from its single lung. That lone piston spins a new crank which is completely new and has more weight down low - a feature that is immediately felt and provides very smooth operation with little vibration, even at high revs. Also noticeable is the extremely smooth shifting action, which can be chalked up to the stronger gears and new cast-in clutch cable holder.
That powerplant is hung in a new aluminum perimeter frame. Although its design certainly draws inspiration from its bigger brother, the KX450F, it is completely new and shares no parts with any other machine. Kawi’s engineers managed to remove 2.2 pounds of material from the new main spars while keeping everything nice and rigid with new engine mounts and newly-shaped geometry.
The totally new front downtube is easily identifiable due to the reduction in material around the head-tube and fewer welds as compared to last year’s model. Continuing to the rear of the bike, the subframe features thicker diameter tubes that are set wider apart for more rigidity — something our well-padded posteriors appreciated.
At the front, off-set triple clamps hold dark navy blue titanium-coated forks. Kawasaki is very proud of its friction-reducing titanium and Kashima coatings, something which no other manufacturer can claim in the 250 four-stroke class. Despite the long travel, absolutely zero stiction could be felt in their operation, so perhaps Kawasaki is on to something here. Combined with the new rear shock and the D-shaped swingarm which sees its pivot placement raised by some 3 millimeters, the Kawasaki’s suspenders kept us well cushioned and never bottomed out (after being properly set-up of course).
Rounding out the changes is an enlarged skid plate made from flexible resin as opposed to the previous rigid aluminum. Kawasaki assures us that the new plastic piece is plenty strong. Although you’d never notice it otherwise, we got a good look at the bikes undercarriage while watching fellow journalists lap the track – everything looks fine from that vantage point. The bodywork has the Kawasaki ‘speed-holes’ at the front and is made from about half as many pieces as before thanks to new molding techniques which allow for multiple colors in one plastic unit. As you would expect, green is front and center on the new bike while black makes up the rest. All in all, it’s a mean looker, all the more so when equipped with the new Monster Energy graphics for an extra couple hundred bucks.
Considering that this was our first time swinging a leg over the new bike, we think that Kawasaki did an excellent job of refining its past race-winner. Before setting off, we noted how slim the bike felt between our knees and thighs. After a minute of fidgeting, it’s easy to get comfortable in the saddle. Everything fell easily to hand and the grips were right where we expected them. Ample ground clearance was afforded by the pegs, which felt just a wee-bit high for our liking before hitting the track. Of course, after the first whoop section, we changed our tune and appreciated everything as it was. Those of us large of foot may want to especially thank Kawasaki’s engineers for the wider foot pegs this year.
Kick-starting never proved problematic as long as the bike was kept in neutral. When left in gear, we kicked ourselves silly with no results. Kawasaki recommends leaving the bike in neutral for starting. The shifting mechanism is now a ratcheting design and finding the next gear was never a problem, and neither was locating neutral after coming to a stop. Despite the heat of the mid-day California desert sun and machine’s constantly being abused, the bike showed no signs of overheating, which could possibly be due to Kawasaki’s newly-designed radiators which are now six-percent larger and feature more cooling blades.
From the first tentative lap around the Rynoland track in Anza, Calif., we felt at ease with the smooth power delivery. Some added compression damping was needed after the first lap, but that was largely due to the 215-pound rider, which is considerably heavier than the typical motocross racer.
After getting things adjusted, the KX felt like an excellent handling machine. While wallowing just a bit in the sandier sections of the course thanks to the tight steering geometry, the hard-packed dirt allowed us to rail through the corners without fear of putting it down. Wheelies were a quick blip away in first gear while a mild clutch drop was needed to bring the front up at speed. Once there, everything felt well balanced and easy to maneuver. On a motocross bike, the brakes should be easy to modulate without fear of locking them up unless desired - no problems there. Sliding the tail around tight turns proved ridiculously simple, which is definitely a boon for those who ride on smaller tracks.
The grounds-crew on-site kept everything nice and smooth on the track, so we ventured out to find some less ideal conditions. We found plenty of places to ride the new bike and it always proved steady and relatively stable for a race machine. Despite our best efforts, the green-machine never placed a tire wrong. The power delivery will never catch you off guard thanks to the four-stroker’s smooth power-band. We felt no undue spikes, just smooth power from low revs straight up to its power peak. That’s not a bad thing in the least, especially when the conditions get loose. We found some very sandy off-road single-track nearby to tackle where we greatly appreciated the thinner center-section and light weight, all of which conspired to keep us on the bike and off the ground. What’s more, the clutch proved very smooth and never grabbed throughout our entire torture-test.
After all was said and done, we walked away quite impressed by the Kawi. There were literally no glaring faults to speak of, though the same could likely be said of all four Japanese 250s. For our money, though, nothing else quite matches the coolness of the new ‘09 Monster Energy Edition. The blacked-out bodywork combines with the green hubs to make for a very distinctive bike right off the showroom floor. The base price for the new KX250F is $6,499 with the Monster model running a bit more at $6,699.