On Road: Ride To The Races On Ducati’s 899 Panigale
What is a race bike? It is certainly not comfort or convenience or common. Anything that doesn’t make it faster or handle better or brake better isn’t included in the design. Thus the Ducati 899 Panigale, a slightly smaller version of the now-ended Panigale 1199 and all-new 1299 Panigale, has only the barest few concessions to make it a road bike.
With its felid good looks, the 899 Panigale isn’t so much breaking new design ground as it is refining and perfecting it with elegant Italian flair. As usual, everything appears aesthetically correct because, when Ducati makes a part, they make a beautiful part. This makes for a multitude of really good angles.
XS to XL, A Look At Motorcycles for 2015
By Guido Ebert
In this issue’s profile of the little Panigale 899, Dave Soderholm referred to the mid-sizer as a “Hero” bike. Too often, the Hero bikes typed about tend to be a manufacturer’s top-level two-wheelers that extoll all of that particular brand’s advances in engineering and design – which, as you’ll read, currently are the rapidly evolving innovations in electronic controls.
Yet multiple manufacturers also have awakened, and responded, to consumer desire for a larger spectrum of displacements – bikes that are not only more adept to real-world surface-street commuting, but fit what may be a relatively affordable price-tag for those of us suffering from a still stagnant income in a higher-cost economy.
In this piece, you’ll read about those “Hero” models, but you’ll also read about the new small- and mid-displacement bikes that are rapidly changing the landscape of the motorcycle market in the U.S.
In what Aprilia called “the most important evolution in the history of RSV4,” the new supersport offers 200hp via its V4 engine, is lighter, and comes with improved electronics in the form of the aPRC (Aprilia Performance Ride Control) system that includes aTC (Aprilia Traction Control), aWC (Aprilia Wheelie Control), aLC (Aprilia Launch Control) and aQS (Aprilia Quick Shift), all integrated by the ride-by-wire engine mapping. For fans of race replicas, Aprilia offers the RSV4 RF, which looks similar to the SBK winning bike of 2010, 2012 and 2014 and will be produced in a limited edition of 500 units.
By Thomas Day
Pretty much all of the major problems on today’s highways are fairly obvious: According to NHTSA statistics, the Big 3 causes for highway fatalities are 1) drunk driving, 2) motorcycles and 3) distracted driving. Solve all three of those riddles and you have taken away 56% of U.S. highway fatalities. What is the miracle cure for all three of these highway safety problems? You might think that’s a stupid question.
“You’ll never stop people from being drunks or from playing with electronic toys while they drive and nobody’s ever gonna teach ME how to ride or make ME wear a helmet.”
Actually, I know the solution to all three of those problems, and so does NHTSA, and DOT, and all of the car manufacturers. How do you stop people from getting drunk, satisfying their cell phone addiction, playing with their makeup or shaving on the way to work, or keep them from crashing their motorcycles? Those are the wrong questions. The right questions are: How do you get the first group out from behind the wheel and how do you get motorcycles off of the public’s roads? Answer: Simple. You make cars that are smarter than the average driver.
With winter suddenly upon me this year, I realized I have no project planned to keep my motorcycle spirit alive through the coming months. I have a couple of rides planned for the winter. One in Watertown SD and the other is a week in Moab in early March. All my running bikes are put away with Sea-Foamed non-ox fuel and plugged in to trickle chargers. All I have left for tinkering with is a little snow blower and the Trail 70 pictured above.
I’ve owned the Trail 70 for over 20 years and have had tons of fun with it. It came to my posession as partial payment for a Volkswagen Golf I was selling. I’m pretty sure the Golf is long gone but the Trail 70 is still here. Some time in the last couple of years I decided it would be fun to put a 110cc pocket bike motor in it. My nephew had the motor and was willing to give it a go. As is the case with most of my motorcycle projects, the mechanical parts are handled by my brother and his son in my brother’s shop. I buy the parts and do what I can to help. The last bike we did was my ‘72 ironhead chopper which took third place in it’s class at the Donnie Smith Bike Show. The bike is currently for sale. Email me if you want details and photos.
By Kevin Clemens
It’s an inhospitable place to race motorcycles. Limited traction on the dazzling white salt surface, only a few inches thick, determines how much power tires can apply before slipping. The salt sticks to everything it contacts and corrodes anything made of metal. The merciless sun reflects off the salt and sears the retinas. Even the nearby town of Wendover can charitably be described as rustic. Yet, for a hundred years, racers have been coming here.
During six days at the end of August, the nearly endless Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah serves as home to the Motorcycle Speed Trials – an event exclusively dedicated to some of the most technologically interesting motorcycles on the planet as they hunt for an elusive land speed record. While the more famous Bonneville Speed Weeks event takes place in early August and allows both cars and motorcycles, the Speed Trials is where you go to set U.S. National and FIM World recognized top speed records on motorcycles.
A decade ago, I was pulled over by MN State Patrol on Hwy 100 northbound at Glenwood Ave. for 20mph over the limit at 7am. The Trooper, joined by a trainee, seemed insistent that I was a member of a sportbike-based group that had been shunting the law.
“You’re a part of the No Hope Boyz, aren’t you?!” he half-proclaimed, evidently hoping I’d confess.
“Negative, Sir,” I countered, pulling out my business card along with my driver’s license. Then, in my best HST: “I’m a member of the Sporting Press – one of the Good Guys, like you.”
Living in the Minnesota Arrowhead, I truly appreciate the ample dirt riding opportunities in the area. The region boasts remote forest roads that deliver some of the most scenic lakes, bluffs, logging camps and historical sites in the State. Always a new dirt road to explore and never enough time to do it! Most of the time, these forest roads are enjoyed with limited company or none at all. A pressure washer knocks the mud off the bike, in an unceremonious culmination to the day’s ride.
But on occasion, I find myself looking for a ride with a little less dirt and a little more refinement, socializing and character. Elegance even. A ride that warrants a fresh coat of deodorant and a clean pair of socks. A ride that ends at a friendly neighborhood pub, where other riders congregate. You get the idea, something a little less dirty and a little more refined, a little more dapper.
Here in the Twin Cities we are lucky to have a large network of parkways and a fair number of surface-street alternates that allow us to get around without requiring high-speed freeways. Now that I think about it, those freeways aren’t very “high-speed” during rush hours. This allows us to consider scooters in the 150cc class as viable commuters. The Honda PCX – recently upped to 150cc displacement from its previous 125cc size – is a modern machine that looks to be a good choice for commuting duty.
The Honda PCX150 ($3,449) is powered by a 153cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected single cylinder 4-stroke engine and gets power to the 14-inch rear wheel through an automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).