Thursday, October 14, 2010

New 2011 Suzuki GSX-R600 and 750 debut Definitely not just a minor makeover—both GSX-Rs have been heavily updated

Most of the pre-release rumors on the new Suzuki GSX-Rs were implying that they have only received minor updates—nothing could be further from the truth. While the exterior may seem only slightly different, the 600 and 750 have been thoroughly revised for ’11. Although all the details are too numerous to mention here (check out the upcoming print issue for in-depth coverage), suffice it to say that Suzuki hasn’t merely spruced up the Gixxers’ with slightly different bodywork and a few small tweaks and called it good.

Both bikes underwent a weight loss program, plus the engines underwent extensive internal redesign aimed at reducing internal frictional losses. If your engine spins freer and easier, and the bike weighs less, you can achieve better performance without having to resort to high-strung engine tuning parameters that result in razor-thin powerbands stuck at sky-high rpm levels. Both bikes are claimed to weigh approximately 20 pounds less than their predecessors; an example of the weight loss program is exemplified by the following list:

Component Weight reduction (both models)

Main frame 1350g (2 lb., 15 oz.)

Front suspension 890g (1 lb., 15.3 oz.)
Rear suspension 90g (3.1 oz.)

Front wheel/Axle 256g (9.0 oz.)
Rear wheel/Axle 340g (11.9 oz.)
Front brakes 413g (14.5 oz.)
Rear brakes 323g (11.4 oz.)

Pistons (engine) 78g (2.7 oz.)
Transmission 185g (6.5 oz.)

ECU 330g (11.6 oz.)
Muffler 1700g (3 lb., 12.0 oz)
Bodywork 3400g (7 lb., 7.9 oz)
Headlights 562g (1 lb., 3.8 oz)

Seat 244g (8.6 oz.)

Footpegs 53g (1.8 oz.)
2011 Suzuki Gsxr750
The new 2011 Suzuki GSX-R750 has received the same upgrades as its little brother...for only $400 more.
All told, Suzuki is claiming a fully fueled weight of 410 pounds for the GSX-R600, and 416 pounds for the GSX-R750. If true, this would make the 600 the lightest four-cylinder middleweight in the market.

The engine’s internal upgrades start with redesigned pistons and rods utilizing the latest 3D CAD/CAM technology employed in MotoGP to replicate precise stress loads in order to reduce component material to the least amount possible. This has resulted in a 14 percent decrease in piston weight and a 12 percent decrease in connecting rod weight compared to last year, a huge reduction when you consider the astronomical piston speeds at 14,000 rpm.

The reduced reciprocating weight and frictional losses in turn have allowed the camshaft profiles to be redone, with less overlap leading to better low- and midrange power while keeping the top end intact. The crankcases have redesigned ventilation holes between the cylinder cavities, with a pentagonal shape providing easier airflow between each cylinder—again, reducing mechanical pumping losses. All of the transmission ratios (with the exception of 5th gear) have been revised for improved acceleration, with a slightly taller first gear providing closer spacing between between most of the gears; overall weight has also been reduced by 6.5 ounces. The complete engine block is now 4 pounds 6 ounces lighter than the previous powerplant. 

Up top, the fuel injection throttle bodies feature new, more compact particulate-type injectors that allow better positioning; thus, the primary injectors are now set at a 35-degree angle (from 41 degrees) to allow them a straighter shot at the intake valves for better atomization and throttle response. Exhaled gases are handled by a 4-into-2-into-1 system using the now-ubiquitous under-engine collector chamber; thinner-walled piping (1.0mm versus 1.2mm thickness) and a titanium muffler help to reduce weight by 3 pounds 12 ounces on the 600, and 2 pounds 6.8 ounces on the 750.

The adjustable Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) returns, but now with only two modes instead of three as before. Only A and B modes can be selected; Suzuki found that owners never used the old C mode (we don’t blame them). The ECU is now located up front by the airbox, reducing wiring volume and complexity.

Suspension up front is now handled by a 41mm Showa Big Piston Fork (BPF). The rear shock is 1mm shorter (but with longer stroke), and the spring seat material changed to aluminum to cut 90 grams of excess weight. Braking is now handled by Brembo radial-mount four-piston calipers biting on larger 280mm discs (up from the 276.8mm units of before), with the rear disc dropping in size from 188mm to 186mm. 

The aluminum frame and swingarm are completely new and have revised rigidity specs, with the swingarm now only made of three pieces instead of five as before. Both are now manufactured using a “Melted Gravity Casting Process” that is claimed to allow more flexibility in shaping and precise manufacturing of curved components. As listed in the weight specs at the beginning, the frame’s overall weight has been cut by 2 pounds 15.8 ounces. 

In order to tighten up the wheelbase and centralize mass, the engine has been rotated upward in the frame by three degrees. This in turn allows the main frame’s length to be shorter front-to-back, reducing wheelbase by 15mm (now listed at 54.5 inches, from 55.1 inches) while retaining the swingarm’s original length. Ergos have been subtly revised, with the bars splayed out wider by one degree, and the fuel tank reshaped for a shorter reach to the bars and easier tuck-in by the rider.

The yen/dollar exchange rate fluctuation has played havoc with the Japanese OEM pricing, and the new GSX-R600’s MSRP of $11,599 (a $1200 bump from last year’s price on the ’09 model—remember, American Suzuki didn’t import any ’10 models) reflects that. Surprisingly, the GSX-R750 is only $400 more at $11,999; one can only imagine that most U.S. buyers will opt for the larger displacement GSX-R for that small of a price difference.

Also introduced for the U.S. market is the new (for the U.S.) GSX1250FA. Already running on European roads for a year now, the GSX1250FA is basically a fully faired version of the Bandit 1250S that debuted back in ’07. The same ultra-torquey 1255cc inline four-cylinder engine returns, along with the frame and suspension. Biggest changes besides the fairing are the GSX-R stacked headlight arrangement, ABS as standard equipment, twin cooling fans to help deal with slow traffic on hot days, and a centerstand. MSRP for the GSX1250FA will be $11,599.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R Images and information from Kawasaki's press material

Power Is Nothing Without Control

Newer. Faster. Lighter. Better. You hear these descriptors all the time in this business.

Problem is, reality rarely lives up to the hype. But Kawasaki’s new-from-the-ground-up 2011 Ninja® ZX™-10R sportbike has no such credibility gap, going several steps beyond newer, faster, lighter and better by offering the most advanced traction-control system in all of production motorcycling.

Yes, in all of production motorcycling.

Not only are we talking about a complete redesign of the ZX-10R’s engine, frame, suspension, bodywork, instrumentation and wheels, but a highly advanced and customizable electronic system that helps riders harness and capitalize on the new ZX-10R’s amazing blend of power and responsive handling. The system is called Sport-Kawasaki Traction Control, or S-KTRC. It represents a whole new dimension in motorcycle performance, and the ZX-10R is the only production sport bike that can take you there.

Motorcyclists have forever been challenged by traction-related issues, whether on dirt, street or track. Riders that can keep a rear tire from spinning excessively or sliding unpredictably are both faster and safer, a tough combination to beat on the racetrack. And when talking about the absolute leading edge of open-class sport bike technology, where production street bikes are actually more capable than full-on race bikes from just a couple years ago, more consistent traction and enhanced confidence is a major plus. The MotoGP-derived S-KTRC system works by crunching numbers from a variety of parameters and sensors – wheel speed and slip, engine rpm, throttle position, acceleration, etc. There’s more data gathering and analysis going on here than on any other Kawasaki in history, and it’s all in the name of helping racers inch closer to the elusive “edge” of maximum traction than ever before. The S-KTRC system relies on complex software buried in the new ZX-10R’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU), the only additional hardware is the lightweight speed sensors located on each wheel.
Unlike the KTRC system on Kawasaki’s Concours™ 14 ABS sport tourer, which primarily minimizes wheel slip on slick or broken surfaces as a safety feature, the S-KTRC system is designed to maximize performance by using complex analysis to predict when traction conditions are about to become unfavorable. By quickly, but subtly reducing power just before the amount of slippage exceeds the optimal traction zone, the system – which processes every data point 200 times per second – maintains the optimum level of tire grip to maximize forward motion. The result is significantly better lap times and enhanced rider confidence –exactly what one needs when piloting a machine of this caliber.

The S-KTRC system offers three different modes of operation, which riders can select according to surface conditions, rider preference and skill level: Level 1 for max-grip track use, Level 2 for intermediate use, and Level 3 for slippery conditions. An LCD graph in the newly designed instrument cluster displays how much electronic intervention is occurring in real time and a thumb switch on the left handlebar pod allows simple, on-the-go mode changes.

The system also incorporates an advanced Power Mode system that allows riders to choose the amount of power – and the character of delivery – available from the engine. Besides the standard Full-power mode are Medium and Low settings. In Medium mode, performance varies according to throttle position and engine rpm; at anything less than 50 percent throttle opening, performance is essentially the same as in Low mode; at more than 50 percent, riders can access additional engine performance. All three S-KTRC settings are available in each of the three Power Mode settings.
And the motorcycle so capably managed by all of this trick electronic wizardry? It’s completely redesigned from 2010 to ’11.

It all starts with the 10R’s all-new inline-four, easily the most advanced engine to ever emerge from a Kawasaki factory. Like last year’s potent ZX-10R engine, the new powerplant is a 16-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four displacing 998cc via 76 x 55mm bore and stroke dimensions. But that’s where the similarity stops, as the new mill boasts a handful of engineering changes designed to optimize power delivery, center of gravity and actual engine placement within the chassis.

A primary goal of Kawasaki engineers was linear power delivery and engine manageability throughout all elements of a corner: the entry, getting back to neutral throttle at mid-corner, and heady, controllable acceleration at the exit. Peak torque was moved to a higher rpm range, which eliminates the power peaks and valleys that make it difficult for racers and track-day riders to open the throttle with confidence.

Larger intake valves (31mm vs. 30mm), wider– and polished – intake ports, and completely revised exhaust porting all allow better breathing, more controllable power delivery and less engine braking, just the thing to smooth those racetrack corner entries and exits. Higher-lift camshafts built from lighter-yet-stronger chromoly steel (instead of cast iron) and featuring revised overlap further contribute to optimized engine braking and more controllable power delivery. Newly designed lightweight pistons feature shorter skirts and mount to lighter and stronger connecting rods, each of which spin a revised crankshaft made of a harder material and featuring stronger pins and journal fillets. Compression moves to a full 13.0:1.

There’s more, including a totally revamped crankshaft/transmission shaft layout that contributes to a higher center of mass – and improved handling via better mass centralization – by locating the crankshaft approximately 10 degrees higher relative to the output shaft. There’s even a secondary engine balancer assembly this year, which allows a number of vibration-damping parts to be simplified, contributing to weight savings. A smaller and dramatically lighter battery helps drop even more weight, as does a lighter ECU and fuel pump. A race-style cassette transmission allows simple trackside ratio changes and offers a host of improvements for 2011. These include closer spacing for 4th, 5th and 6th gears and the fine-tuning of the primary and final reduction ratios for less squat/lift during acceleration and deceleration, which allows more precise suspension tuning in back. An adjustable back-torque limiting clutch assembly is fitted, which allows worry-free downshifts and an even higher level of corner-entry calmness.

Cramming all that fuel and air into this amazing new engine is a ram air-assisted fuel injection system featuring larger throttle bodies (47 vs. 43mm) and sub-throttle valves, a larger-capacity airbox (9 vs. 8 liters), secondary injectors that improve top-end power characteristics, and a large, redesigned ram-air intake that’s positioned closer to the front of the bike for more efficient airbox filling and increased power.

The final piece of the ZX-10R’s power-production formula is a race-spec exhaust system featuring a titanium header assembly, hydroformed collectors, a large-volume pre-chamber containing two catalyzers and a highly compact silencer. Due to the header’s race-spec design, riders and racers looking for more closed-course performance need only replace the slip-on muffler assembly.

With the engine producing a massive quantity of usable and controllable power, engineers looked to the chassis to help refine handling and overall road/track competency even further. An all-new aluminum twin-spar frame was designed, an all-cast assemblage of just seven pieces that features optimized flex characteristics for ideal rider feedback, cornering performance and lighter weight than last year’s cage. Fewer pieces mean fewer welds, which contributes to a cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing look. Like the frame, the new alloy swingarm is an all-cast assembly, with idealized rigidity matching that of the frame itself.

Chassis geometry was juggled to offer the best possible stability and handling quickness. Rake, at 25 degrees, is a half-degree steeper than on the 2010 machine, while trail has been reduced from 110 to 107mm. This slightly more radical front end geometry, and the quicker, lighter handling it allows, was made possible largely by the new engine’s more controllable power, engine placement and the CG differences it generated, and the frame and swingarm’s newfound flex characteristics.

Highly advanced suspension at both ends helped as well. Up front is a 43mm open-class version of the Big Piston Fork (BPF) found on last year’s comparo-dominating Ninja ZX-6R. Featuring a piston design nearly twice the size of a conventional cartridge fork, the BPF offers smoother action, less stiction, lighter overall weight and enhanced damping performance on the compression and rebound circuits. This added compliance results in more control and feedback for the rider – just what you need when carving through a rippled sweeper at your local track or negotiating a decreasing-radius corner on your favorite backroad.

There’s big suspension news in back, too. Replacing the vertical Uni-Trak® system of the 2010 ZX-10R is a Horizontal Back-Link suspension design that positions the shock and linkage above the swingarm. Benefits include better mass centralization, improved road holding, compliance and stability, smoother action in the mid-stroke (even with firmer settings), better overall feedback and cooler running. The design also frees space previously taken by the linkage assembly below the swingarm, space now used for the exhaust pre-chamber, which allows a shorter muffler and, again, better mass centralization. The fully adjustable shock features a piggyback reservoir and dual-range (low- and high-speed) compression damping.

All-new gravity-cast three-spoke wheels are significantly lighter than the hoops fitted to the 2010 bike. Up front, Tokico radial-mount calipers grasp 310mm petal discs and a 220mm disc is squeezed by a lightweight single-piston caliper in back. The result is powerful, responsive braking plenty of rider feedback.

Finally, Kawasaki engineers wrapped all this new technology in bodywork as advanced and stylish as anything on this side of a MotoGP grid. Shapes are more curved than edged this year, and the contrasting colored and black parts create a sharp, aggressive image. Line-beam headlights enable the fairing to be made shorter, while LED turn signals are integrated into the mirror assemblies and convenient turn-signal couplers allow easy mirror removal for track-day use. The rear fender assembly holding the rear signal stalks and license plate frame is also easily removable for track days. High-visibility LED lamps are also used for the taillight and position marker.

Instrumentation is totally new as well, the unit highlighted by an LED-backlit bar-graph tachometer set above a multi-featured LCD info screen with numerous sections and data panels. A wide range of information is presented, including vehicle speed, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel consumption, Power Mode and S-KTRC level, low fuel, water temperature and much more. For track use, the LCD display can be set to “race” mode which moves the gear display to the center of the screen.
The new ZX-10R’s ergonomics have been fine tuned for optimum comfort and control, with a slightly lower saddle, adjustable footpegs positioned slightly lower and more forward relative to last year, and clip-ons with a bit less downward angle. This is a hard-core sportbike you can actually take on an extended sport ride – and still be reasonably comfortable doing so. And because it’s 22 pounds lighter than last year’s bike, the new ZX-10R will be quicker and more nimble in any environment you choose to ride it in.

The old saying, “power is nothing without control” is certainly apt where open-class sport bikes are concerned. But when you factor in all the engine, chassis and ergonomic control designed into the 2011 Ninja ZX-10R, you begin to realize you’re looking at one very special motorcycle – one that can take you places you’ve never been before.

Newer. Faster. Lighter. And better. Reality really does match the hype.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2011 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra B-b-bling for the alpha tourer, By Jamie Elvidge Photography by Riles & Nelson

Like any alpha wolf worth its fur, Harley-Davidson's "alpha customer" needs to make a little noise to remind everyone of his position within the pack-which is exactly why the Custom Vehicle Operations line exists. Every year, Harley's CVO team selects four models and hooks them up with exclusive accoutrements, snazzy paint and, of course, the CVO-exclusive 110-cubic-inch Screamin' Eagle engine. For 2011 the Ultra Classic Electra Glide, gangsta-fave Street Glide and versatile Softail Convertible return to the CVO stage, with the revered Road Glide Ultra rolling in to replace the Fat Bob.

Aside from the flash factor, the most apparent dimensional difference between the base Road Glide and the CVO version is the use of badass 18-inch Agitator wheels. The 15-inch windshield has been reshaped as well, and brought back 15 degrees.
The CVO Convertible Softail also receives an iPod-integrated audio system, with dual speakers tucked beneath the bike's small windshield. Rider and passenger seats, passenger backrest and lockable leather saddlebags all receive simulated alligator-skin inserts, and new mini-ape hangers add to the Softail's plumage. First-time performance enhancements such as ABS, ETC, cruise control and keyless ignition add tangible value to the Convertible package.
The stereo on the hot-rod Street Glide, with its 100-watt-per-channel amp, is by far the most potent for in-the-wind listening, but the BOOM! (yes) speakers on the Road Glide also offer impressive sound quality. The Softail's two-speaker stereo is less than stellar, but that's not its only downfall. A knee-high-to-a-grasshopper seat height of 24.4-inches and baby apes make the bike feel cramped for a full-size rider, and looks-wise there are much prettier ways to spend nearly $30,000.
Price $35,999
Engine type a-c 45-deg. V-twin
Valve train OHV, 4v
Displacement 1803cc
Bore x stroke 101.6 x 111.3mm
Compression 9.1:1
Fuel system EFI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower na
Claimed torque 115 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Frame Steel double cradle
Front suspension 41.3mm Showa fork
Rear suspension Twin Showa shocks with air-adjustable preload
Front brake Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 300mm discs
Rear brake Brembo four-piston caliper, 300mm disc
Front tire 130/80B-18 Dunlop H-D Series
Rear tire 180/55B-18 Dunlop H-D Series
Rake/trail 26.0°/6.7 in.
Seat height 27.5 in.
Wheelbase 63.5 in.
Fuel capacity 6.0 gal.
Claimed dry weight 905 lbs.
Colors Red/black, gray/black, ivory/gold
Available Now
Warranty 24 mo., unlimited mi.

Monday, October 11, 2010

2011 Harley-Davidson XR1200X - The X-Factor by Aaron Frank Photography by Tom Riles, Brian J. Nelson

Uprated Suspension And Brakes Improve The Sportiest Sportster

2011 Harley Davidson Xr1200x Left Side View
They say: "Sportster performance honed to its finest edge."
We say: "It'd perform even better after you honed an inch off the footpegs."
It's fair to say that Harley-Davidson racing development peaked in 1970 with the release of the iconic, instantly successful XR750. That platform, which continues to dominate dirt-track racing to this day, has made the XR prefix synonymous with Harley performance. 

That's why The Motor Company's hottest streetbike is branded the XR1200, and isn't an XL1200 variation like its more conventional, baby-cruiser brethren. Now Harley-Davidson has deployed an additional X to create the XR1200X, upgraded with fully adjustable Showa suspension and higher-spec brakes. This is by far the sportiest Sportster yet.
Price $11,799
Engine type a-c 45-deg. V-twin
Valve train OHV, 4v
Displacement 1200cc
Bore x stroke 88.9 x 96.8mm
Compression 10.0:1
Fuel system EFI
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 5-speed
Claimed horsepower 91.0 bhp @ 7000 rpm
Claimed torque 74 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Frame Tubular-steel double-cradle
Front suspension 43mm Showa inverted fork with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Dual Showa shocks with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake Dual Nissin four-piston calipers, 292mm discs
Rear brake Nissin one-piston caliper, 260mm disc
Front tire 120/70ZR-18 Dunlop Qualifier D209
Rear tire 180/55ZR-17 Dunlop Qualifier D209
Rake/trail 29.0°/5.2 in.
Seat height 29.2 in.
Wheelbase 60.0 in.
Fuel capacity 3.5 gal.
Claimed dry weight 551 lbs.
Color Black Denim and White Hot Denim
Available Now
Warranty 24 mo., unlimited mi.