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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Motorcycle Insurance: Mechanics of Insurance The stuff no one thinks about

We’ve already managed to cover Liability, Uninsured Motorist, and Comprehensive and Collision coverage. All these things are common with all insurers. For this article I will cover things you may not know can be covered or have never had explained by your agent, broker or underwriter. Companies that have recreational products divisions often offer extras at little or no charge at all. Accessories coverage is a great example. Most companies will offer $3000 to $5000 worth of accessories coverage at no extra cost. You have to ask your agent what the accessories coverage freebee is. What does it cover? Bags, screens, chrome, exhaust, your fuel-injection upgrade, seats, custom paint - name it and chances are it can qualify. This includes suspension upgrades.
What it doesn’t cover is the labor for installation? Why? Because you really don’t need all that stuff- you just want that stuff. And there are limits to the total accessories. Usually, it has to be less than the NADA retail value of your bike. When you exceed your freebee, coverage of the additional accessories will cost additional money. It’s not usually that expensive, but the percentage varies company to company.
Motorcycle Insurance: Mechanics of Insurance
Accessories, like an aftermarket exhaust system, are often covered at no extra cost.
If you do not declare your accessories and have a total loss, you will only be paid for your stock bike. There are exceptions, but it comes at a price. Foremost insurance will automatically move your bike from its designated segment into a custom bike segment if the accessories exceed $15,000. Two reasons:  First, you were crazy enough to spend the money in the first place. And, second, to cover constructed bikes. You bike builders know what I’m talking about.
Performance upgrades (going into the motor, turbo or superchargers) are allowed by some companies. The same labor-not-included rule applies, but you really should declare the upgrades. If you don’t declare it, your motor will be considered “stock” and returned to that state if your motor is damaged. Transmission work applies, as well. If you purchase a slipper clutch then make sure you add it to the total of the accessories coverage with the parts cost of the motor upgrades. If you bought a Baker 6-speed for your Harley, you have to make sure that you have it covered. You know the consequences.
Towing is an option with many companies, but there are limits. Some companies offer you towing to the nearest motorcycle shop from where you broke down. Some offer “reasonable expense” coverage, which operates off the premise that you pay for the towing and send the bill to claims and they will reimburse you less a $50 deductible. This coverage means that, in most cases, they will go up to 300 miles before they ask why you’re towing it so far. Most people average less than 100 miles. This coverage does have a premium attached to it but usually costs less than $10 annually. It’s a pretty good deal.
Riding gear is covered by most companies. The helmet allowance is measly at $400, but if you crack that nugget it’s better than nothing. Riding gear is usually covered - leather or textile, but armored jeans are included in this since they are design specific. Casual gear like that Gap jacket or your Chuck Taylors is not covered. The point is to encourage you to buy and ride with the gear.
Motorcycle Insurance: Mechanics of Insurance
Rates for motorcycles that cross segments, like the Ducati Multistrada, can vary from insurer to insurer so be sure to shop around before you commit.
Document all accessories, bike build list and gear on an excel spreadsheet. This document will save you much aggravation if you have a loss. Take pictures of your bike when you add more than $1000 in accessories. Be sure to offer copies of pics and the spreadsheet to your agent as a backup. You’ll thank me for this idea if something happens.
That covers most of the extras, but that’s not all that you have to consider. The type of bike you choose will affect your rates. Cruisers, sport-tourers, standards, full-dress tourers and dual-sport bikes are all pretty easy to cover. Some bikes cross segments like the Ducati Multistrada, Triumph Tiger 1050 and the Buell XB series. So, make sure you get many quotes with different insurers.
Why the discrepancies? Losses are the basic answer. They try a bike in a segment (like the Multi being considered a dual-sport by a company or two) and when the losses get too high they move it to a different segment that reflect its loss ratio. In the case of the Multi, the shift would be toward the sport-tour segment. Back in 2005 Dairyland tried an experiment with the Suzuki Hayabusa. They listed it as a sport-tourer. It happened because the Busa was becoming a customizing standard for its class. Well, word got out and Dairyland took a huge beating in losses. Needless to say, it’s back to the GT class of the sportbike category.
Motorcycle Insurance: Mechanics of Insurance
Don’t expect to see the Suzuki Hayabusa listed as a sport-tourer ever again.
Age is a huge factor. Don’t expect to insure a Busa for a few hundred a year if you’re under 30 years old. Likewise, when you reach 68 years old, your rates will be steadily increasing. Why? You young squids and old codgers are liability risks for different reasons. Squids are reckless and fearless. Old codgers have slower reaction time and reflexes. Remember that your driving record matters. You can’t hide from it. Don’t even try to fib your way out. All it will do is make you mad when the rates change.
The last insurance consideration is your geographic location. If you live in a highly dense metro location you will pay up to 65% higher than someone that lives is a less-dense location. Crime rates affect insurance rates, too. That’s why I live 40 miles north of Atlanta. I hate paying the rates. Those guys get it stuck to them on all insurance, including homeowner rates. I’d rather drive into the city than spend all that money for convenience. For me the trade-off is being closer to the North Georgia Mountains.
That’s it for the penultimate article in this series. If you have further questions about this series, then ask in the forum or ask your agent, broker or underwriter. You can PM me with questions, as well.

Kirk Harrington is a longtime rider and avid motorcycle enthusiast, and he’s one of the nation’s only specialized motorcycle insurance agents, operating from his location north of Atlanta, Georgia.

2011 Zero Electric Motorcycles Launch Across-the-board improvements, plus a new model

Although Zero has been an innovator from the start, in a sense, it can thank that bastion of traditional motorcycling, Harley-Davidson, for its inadvertent endowment toward Zero’s vision to change the future of motorcycling.
At last week’s press intro, Zero’s 2011 models showed the handiwork of its new VP of Engineering, Abe Askenazi. Hired a little over a year ago, Askenazi’s previous job was Senior Director of Analysis, Test and Engineering Process for Buell Motorcycle Company and he’s been very busy at Zero since coming on board.
Upon seeing Zero’s four thoroughly re-worked models, and one new one, it’s as though a significant portion of the intellectual and design heritage of the company that H-D shuttered has been infused into Zero.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
Some might call it ironic, others karma, but Abe Askenazi, who once answered directly to Erik Buell and actively participated in H-D’s Senior Leadership Group, is applying his considerable experience and talents to improving Zero’s electric motorcycles.
Now in its fifth year, staffed by other industry veterans plus top tech-sector talent, Zero is exultant over its new bikes, not to mention a recent $26 million venture capital commitment, it hopes will see it to profitability by summer, 2013.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
A nice farm on the outskirts of Santa Cruz with a moto track, trail, and great roads nearby was ideal for the international press to sample the revamped Zeros.

To celebrate its delayed model year launch intended to help push it there, Zero invited an international group of journalists for two days of test rides.
And why not? The bikes look better and feel more sorted, having shed aspects that made them reminiscent of kit bikes. Gone are inadequate brakes, questionable electrical connections, clanking chains, poorly controlled suspension, fluctuating power gauges, and other vestiges of the start-up’s learning curve.
For its new XU, S and DS models, Zero provided smart bar-graph power meters. These monitor amps and volts, and learn the battery they are mated to for greater precision. Even as the battery ages, the meter re-adjusts to accurately display power.
Zeros also now have quick-charging capability. In addition to standard on-board 1-kW chargers, the bikes have separate 3-pin connectors to plug in an optional external 1-kW charger. When both are plugged in, the double current tops batteries in almost half the time.
A third charging choice is an optional SAE J1772 5-pin connector, as used for the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, etc. This accepts 120 volts from a charging station and routes it to the Zero’s on-board charger.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
On the side of its new Scotts Valley factory, Zero installed the first public charge station in town. Swipe your credit card and charge.
2011 Zero Motorycles
This is the industry-standard plug for EVs, and Zero has an option to make it fit to its bikes.
This year is also the first that all Zeros come in a street-legal version. Even the X and MX can be dual sports, either from the factory or via an optional conversion kit. This was done primarily for Europe, but they’re available in the U.S. as well.
Further, all bikes now have traditionally placed ignition switches with integrated steering locks, instead of the oddly placed switches and locks from last year.
Askenazi and his right-hand-man, Director of Mechanical Engineering, Derek Yuen – who’d worked with him at Buell – say they’ve fixed all known issues and gone beyond. Fully 83-percent of the models’ content has been replaced or revised; their purpose is more focused, their improved build quality is evident.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
A row of bikes gets ready to head out. U-hauls make sparse but effective changing rooms.

At the same time, Zero’s design team sharpened aesthetics and improved power to a few models, including a 12.5-percent larger battery offering a maximum of 4.4 kWh (3.9 nominal) for the S and DS – not a lot more power, but they’re better.
These two sister street models have superior power-to-weight to the Brammo Enertia with its roughly 3.2-kWh battery, but they fall behind the promised (but not yet available) 6.3 kWh or so Brammo Enertia Plus.
Askenazi said his goal was to “simplify, clarify, intensify,” as he re-thought previously redundant engineering decisions, like “bracket brackets,” as he called them.
Even so, some traditional motorcyclists will still take issue with the electric bikes’ price, range and performance – while others ought to be receptive to the new designs. Company CEO Gene Banman told us 65-percent of S and DS buyers are expected to include riders returning to motorcycling, plus many new riders.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
Life at the moto farm: Zero gave access to a nice smooth track to play on.
Similarly, the XU is intended for young and new riders, or anyone wanting an alternative to a scooter.
Respectively, these prospects may either have little-to-no experience with the latest gas-powered competitors – or little-to-no frame of reference at all.
On the other hand, Banman said, about 85-90-percent of X and MX dirtbike buyers will continue to be existing riders who want silent moto and trail riding.
XU Urban Cross
We’ll feature the $7995 XU first because it’s the newest. It’s basically a shorter-suspension X model, shod with DOT-legal tires and re-purposed for the city. It weighs just 218 pounds, is styled to appeal to youthful riders, and intended as super-frugal transportation.
Its 2.0-kWh (1.7 nominal) lithium-ion (li-ion) battery is secured against theft, yet it’s user-removable to take inside to recharge. It is the same battery that the X and MX get, and it’s interchangeable with these bikes.
Standard recharge time for a depleted battery is stated as two hours. Optional quick recharge for the same can be in 1.2 hours.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
We get our kicks any way we can at If anyone doubts this bike might not handle a downpour, then doubt no more.
As for its overall lifetime, Zero says the battery should last for 32,000 miles of use, before it’s ready for replacement (but still usable) with 80-percent storage capacity remaining.
Disc brakes front and rear are up to the task of safely stopping spoked wheels shod with a 90/90-19 front and 110/90-16 rear tires. Suspension travel is 5.3 inches front, 5.5 inches rear, and soaks up bumps and irregularities well enough.
Riders had better keep the XU below its 51-plus mph top speed for the most part, however, if they want to achieve the EPA UDDS (Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule) range rating of 25-30 miles.
The EPA came up with the dyno-simulated standard for electrical vehicles near the end of last year, and the Motorcycle Industry Council endorses it. The test simulates varying speeds and loads, and lasts 22 minutes, 49 seconds, and covers 7.45 miles at an average of 19.59 mph.
If you run the XU faster and harder, its range drops to 15-20 miles, more or less.
Why would anyone buy a bike with range as short as 15 miles?
We’re waiting to see that too, but it will likely revolve around back-end savings. If your moderate-speed commute is within limits – or if you can plug in at your destination – keeping the XU going promises to be the next best thing to free.
Zero estimates paltry maintenance requirements and recharging costs at 21 cents per full charge. This latter figure depends upon your electrical rate, but even at the highest tier, it might only cost pennies more.
Saddle Time

2011 Zero Motorcycles
It’s a small bike for my 6-foot frame, but do-able. Note forged kickstand. Zero carried over its expensive hand-crafted kickstands on the S/DS, but went to a less expensive but effective alloy one here.

Unfortunately, rain stopped the test rides short, and I only got on the XU briefly. Even this would not have occurred if not for Scot Harden, Zero’s VP of global marketing, who gave the thumbs up to my request after the fun was officially over.
The XU has upright, utilitarian ergos – higher, wider handlebars, medium-to-low seat height (31.8 inches standard/29.8 inches optional) – and ought to be comfortable for a wide variety of riders.
Steering is quick, and handling seems reasonably neutral.
Acceleration is peppy from the one-speeder, though slower than the S/DS. It will keep up with average city/suburban flow. Zero advertises it as good for 51 mph, but I saw an indicated 59 with a fresh battery and tail wind. Headed back against the wind, it pushed an indicated 52.
Basic instruments almost look neater than those on the higher-priced S/DS. We look forward to a full test of this commuter as soon Zero lets us have one.
Zero S
The $8995 S is no longer a tall supermoto.
According to VP of Global Sales John Lloyd, Abe Askenazi looked at last year’s model and said it was too similar to the DS, and made the S into a streetfighter instead.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
Cross-drilled Hayes stoppers work better than the binders on older Zeros. The speedo pick-up formerly residing on the fork has been relocated to the motor shaft to make it more like other motorcycles, Askenazi says, plus clean up the look.

The bike sits low and mean, with improved bodywork and graphics. Revised steering geometry to the ultralight alloy perimeter frame creates a slick-looking 297-lb bike straddling a 54.8-inch wheelbase.
The Agni motor, powered by the 4.4-kWh (3.9 nominal) battery, has a revised forced-air cooling system. Estimated battery life (to 80-percent capacity) is 70,000 miles. At this point the battery could be replaced, or the bike still ridden, just not as far per charge.
EPA UDDS max range is 43 miles. Nurse it like an XU, and you might get into the 50-mile-plus range. Ride it flat out, and expect much less.
Other much-needed improvements include a re-worked master cylinder bore diameter and a larger 310mm rotor up front. Out back the 220mm rotor is now equally as thick as the front at 4mm.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
The S/DS gauges are Koso units made for Zero.

The S now rolls on high-quality industry-standard 17-inch wheels from Pro-Wheel Racing of Oregon, with tires sized 110/70 front and 130/70 rear.
The Fastace fork and shock have been re-worked with help from a tech from a local tuner, Aftershocks Suspension. Once they’d fine-tuned spring rates and valving, Askenazi and company sent them to Fastace to duplicate. There is 5.5 inches of travel from the fork, and 5.9 inches at the shock, a couple inches shorter than last year.
As mentioned, the list of upgrades on the S, and its DS sister is very long. Check out Zero’s webpage for the whole low-down, but the bottom line is nothing was left untouched. Random improvements include on-board computer programming and recall capabilities that are now external to the battery for simpler diagnostics.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
Needing a tougher belt, Zero gave up on Gates and called Goodyear. This provoked Gates to come up with a belt that could handle debris kicked up in dual-sport riding. These Gates belts can also be replaced by an optional chain.

Replacing a chain, a new drive belt was designed for the bike after a trial and error process with Gates. The new belt uses “soft carbon” to allow greater failure resistance in the event that debris or a rock gets thrown in.
Revised triple clamps, more torsional rigidity to the swingarm, more durable bodywork, industry standard fasteners, cleaned-up wiring and connectors, plus wider and taller mirrors are part of many upgrades.
In the Saddle
This is a fun, tight bike. Its belt drive is super quiet. You hear wind noise more than anything. It’s unlike anything with an engine. Its seating position is purposeful and close to a Standard’s, with a slight forward lean to the tubular, high-leverage bars.
Acceleration may be close to a CBR250R up to about 10 mph shy of the CBR’s top speed.
On my brief test ride – ended by rain – the one-speeder hit 71 mph indicated and felt a tad more twitchy at that rate than last year’s bike. Askenazi later confirmed my impressions were accurate, the bike does feel quicker in transitions, but this “may be related to the new tires, lower cg, shorter wheelbase, and more dialed suspension.”
More specifically, when measured with 1/3 sag front and rear, the 2010 supermoto-styled S model had a rake of 22.1 degrees, trail of 2.47 inches, and wheelbase of 55.5 inches. In contrast, the 2011 streetfighter-styled S has rake of 22.7 degrees, trail of 2.81 inches, and as mentioned, a wheelbase of 54.8 inches, or 0.7 inches shorter.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
My test ride saw some dry curvy roads, but the rain began to pour soon thereafter. Zero plans to introduce an optional undertail kit for aesthetics. The Zero S is reborn as a sporting Standard, and its appearance is an improvement over the previous model. Note the cut-down, hand-made kickstand.
The S’s handling is neutral and controllable. The adjustable suspension accommodated my 185 lbs well. In fact, Askenazi said, the nominal settings are for a 185 lb rider, with adjustability for approximately plus-or-minus 50 lbs.
The Bridgestone tires stick as well as would be expected, and they provided more confidence than last year’s less-well-known Duros.
The Hayes brake lever is not adjustable but feels more beefy than last year’s bicycle-like lever, and its reach is not excessive.
Rear brakes work fine. The more critical front brakes are better than last year’s and will lift the rear wheel at lower speeds if squeezed hard enough. Braided lines provide a firm feel. The new stoppers are not mind blowing, but they are good enough. Sport riders might look into availability for grippier compound pads.
Zero DS Dual Sport
I got my longest street ride on the $10,495 DS. We reviewed a 2010 DS a few months ago, and I can confirm the 2011 is better (and $500 more).
All the mentioned improvements that the S got apply also to this, except for the lowered suspension. Motor specs, battery, control software and hardware, brakes, and frame design are shared with the Zero S.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
This may be the best all-rounder. If you missed out on the supermoto style from last year, sport tires could be fitted if you preferred.
The long-travel platform remains for the DS, and it is the best bike for tall riders with its 35.8-inch (33.8 inch optional) height. Its curb weight is stated as equal to the S, at 297 lbs.
On the Road
Straight-line performance for the DS is the same as for the S. Heading the taller bike into sweeping corners on dual-sport tires provokes more initial caution, but confidence builds quickly. The DS also rides on Pro-Wheels, but these are sized differently, wearing a 100/80-17 front and 110/90-16 on/off-road-capable tires.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
The DS has improved suspension compliance. Note anodized brushed alloy battery box this year.

While it’s trail-worthy, I did not test it in the chewed-up, loamy soil of Zero’s private half-mile or so trail loop after a Canadian colleague told me he crashed a DS three times in quick succession as its tires packed with dirt.
Off-road capabilities ought to be on par with last year’s DS, but caking, muddy soil can overwhelm it.
As for tarmac duty it’s fine, and may be the most well-rounded of them all.
Hitting bumps, it feels solid and controlled. Thump-thump! You feel the controlled damping but hear no unwanted noises. Suspension action is not mushy despite having 9.4 inches of front travel and 7.7 inches out back. Good job.
In a nutshell: the DS is best suited for street duties, but it can also do light-to-medium-duty trail riding.
Zero X Trail
In addition to a host of upgrades to the alloy frame, battery-management system and more, this year the $7995 X comes in a street-legal version with lights, turn-signals, and DOT-legal tires. Both versions have a dual-power switch (level I, level II).

2011 Zero Motorcycles
Street and trail versions are available for the X (and MX).
This 185-lb, 55.5-inch-wheelbase machine’s forte is trail riding. Off-road knobbies (70/100-19 front, 90/100-16 rear) plus 8.2 inches front travel and 8.7 inches rear suit it for cross-country and technical trail riding.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
The 2.0-kWh (1.7 kWh nominal) battery in the X is the same as in the XU and MX.

Top speed for the 201-lb street version is 53 mph with standard 13/61 tooth (front/rear) gearing. The dirt version comes with 13/71 gearing to apply more torque. An optional 12-tooth front sprocket is available for even more.
On the Trail
I did not get to ride the street version of the X, but it may prove more versatile than the XU. The featherweight off-road version is an ultimate newbie machine. Its knobbies bite loose soil, and its clutch-free, twist-and-go operation is simple.
The appeal of the nearly silent powertrain is this bike can hit mountain bike trails and not upset the neighbors. E-bike riders have been known to get away with hitting trails off limits to gas-powered trail bikes. Yes it is a motor-driven cycle, but with no emissions, very quiet operation and light weight, its impact and obnoxious factor are at most a 3 on a scale of 1-10.
Zero MX Motocross
The $9,495 MX is the motocrosser in the family. Like the X, it now also comes in a street-homologated version.
It shares the battery with the X/XU, but instead of the X’s Mars motor, it gets the Agni motor from the heavier, more powerful S/DS bikes.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
The MX makes an easy to use trail bike. Zero’s Scot Harden, a former Dakar Rally competitor, says it won’t replace his gas bikes, but the quietness and ease of use give the bike a place in his riding schedule.
Like the X’s frame, the MX’s alloy structure was subjected to finite element analysis (FEA) to beef it up this year. Rolling on its 70/100-19 front, 90/100-16 rear, knobbies, Zero is fond of seeing how high its ace test riders can get in the air, as they land on the MX’s 9.4-inch fork and 8.7-inch shock. The 196-lb off-road machine is light, and Zero says it has the highest power-to-weight ratio in its class.
Incidentally, last year Zero sold a mixed shipment of 34 bikes to Switzerland, where Quantya is better known. We’d like to see one of these go head to head with that company’s capable dirt/trail bikes.
On Track and Trail

2011 Zero Motorcycles
Forgot my goggles but didn’t really need them. Knobby tires cut through the loose stuff fine.

The MX street-legal version looks interesting, but with limited battery range, it would probably make sense only if a trailhead is close by.
As for the off-road-only MX, it’s not quite ready to defeat 250-class four-stroke gas bikes, but in capable hands it does make some pretty quick tracks. This is a bike you can beat on all you want – even in a suburban back yard. No neighbor-upsetting exhaust to cause any hard feelings.
Using the bike to its max capacity, the battery runs down faster than you’d hope – Zero estimates 30 to 60 minutes. Standard charging takes about two hours. Quick charging would put you back in the action after a 1.2 hour-long pit stop.
It would be nice to have a couple extra hot-swappable batteries to keep on a charger like contractors do for cordless powertools, but at about $2500 per battery, that could get pricey for average budgets.
Even so, this is a very fun bike for new riders and experienced alike. It also makes a great trail bike. The MX handles stutter bumps, whoops, and high-standing roots in the trail with decent control.
Power is good, and in level II, you can loft the front wheel. The shorter 12-tooth front sprocket would make those kinds of antics even more possible.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
AMA Hall of Famer and Zero’s VP of Worldwide Marketing, Scot Harden, got out and played on the MX.
Within limits, this thing is a blast, and the silent operation is an advantage no other kind of dirt bike can beat.
Appropriately enough, Zero launched its green-as-a-Shamrock electric motorcycles on Saint Patrick’s Day.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
You won’t see images like this at a Honda launch. At least not yet.

Not only can these machines reduce our dependency on oil, they are made in the U.S.A. with over 50-percent domestic content in an age when many manufacturers are off-shoring.
We know you can buy a gas-powered bike for less money that will equal or exceed the performance – and so does Zero – but that’s not the point. The question is, could one of these bikes still make sense even though their price-for-performance is higher?
First off, a 10-percent federal tax credit plus varying incentives in some states reduces some of the sting. Enticing also is a U.S. EPA MPGe (Mile Per Gallon Equivalent) of several hundred miles per “gallon.” Or, sized up another way, they run something like 20-50 cents per recharge, and cost much less than gas-powered bikes to maintain.

2011 Zero Motorcycles
Zero has a bunch of accessories to add to the sale. Prices aren’t to be available until April 1. Zero DS shown.
CEO Banman says he expects Zero to sell about 1000 units this year. These will include fleet sales, as campus cops, couriers, and others on a fixed route could make good use of them.
As for regular consumers, there is a lot of pent-up demand for motorcycles in general, he said, following the recession that saw the market cut in half. This plus rising gas prices, and a push for environmental alternatives add up to converging trends Zero is banking on.

Zero’s products – while still not head-to-head with gas bikes – offer their own unique selling proposition and are better positioned than ever to succeed.

Related Reading

MotoGP 2011 Qatar Results Stoner holds off Lorenzo and Pedrosa for opening night win

The 2011 MotoGP premier class season got off to a predictable start at Losail on Sunday night, with four of the top five spots going to HRC machines. Casey Stoner, who has been fast since setting foot bum on his RC212V in Valencia last November, qualified on the pole, jousted with Pedrosa for the first half of the race, and then left the diminutive Spaniard in his wake for Honda’s first season opening win since 2003. Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo ran about as well as he could, and seemed delighted to finish second. Was this possibly the entire 2011 season in microcosm?

As 2010 showed us, it is unwise to draw too many conclusions from one race, especially if that race is the season opener, run at night in some feudal middle east sheikdom, on a track that is similar to only two or three others on the entire circuit. (before I forget, what were the brolly girls shielding the riders from at 9:00 at night?) The MotoGP winter testing program had been pointing toward a successful campaign for Honda in 2011, and tonight’s race did nothing to dispel that notion.
Casey Stoner Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Qatar MotoGP
As they did in the pre-season tests, Casey Stoner (27) and Dani Pedrosa (26) showed the Honda RC212V is the machine to beat this season.
Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa started from the front row and took the early lead, although Pedrosa didn’t show us his patented rocket-like start from last year. The three were quickly joined by Dovizioso and Simoncelli, and these five riders held onto the top five spots all the way to the finish. For a few laps it looked as though Pedrosa wanted to run away from the field, but Stoner reeled him in on Lap 12, and Lorenzo, fighting to stay relevant, came back from third position to pass Pedrosa on Lap 15. He did not appear seriously interested in trying to chase down Stoner, and so that was that.
Jorge Lorenzo Casey Stoner Qatar MotoGP
Defending the #1 plate will be a tall effort for Jorge Lorenzo with a resurgent Casey Stoner chasing him.

At the Top of the Food Chain, it’s All Honda and Yamaha …
Honda is LOADED this year, with at least four riders capable of the podium, compared to two at Yamaha and (perhaps) one at Ducati. Andrea Dovizioso, wearing Repsol orange, took all evening before finally outdueling Marco “Weird Al” Simoncelli, in his flashy San Carlo colors, for a more-than-usually-interesting 4th place finish. Dovizioso should have “Forgotten Man” stitched into the seat of his leathers this season, as Stoner and Pedrosa clearly have captured the world’s attention. However, I expect both Dovi and Simoncelli on a few podiums this season, assuming Simoncelli’s rugged riding style doesn’t land him in traction.
Andrea Dovizioso Marco Simoncelli Qatar MotoGP
Andrea Dovizioso (4) and Marco Simoncelli (58) were also competitive on Honda machines, finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
The factory Yamaha team, in any other year, might feel very good about itself, but not this year. True, Lorenzo is his smooth, effortless self, and will likely battle Stoner, and Pedrosa, for the 2011 title all the way to Valencia. Teammate Ben Spies, who finished a respectable 6th tonight, is a keeper who will continue to improve this year, and will likely see a few podiums himself. One of the highlights of tonight’s race was Spies’ short battle with Valentino Rossi, won by the American.
Valentino Rossi Ben Spies Qatar MotoGP
Ben Spies (11) beat Valentino Rossi (46), the man he replaced with the Yamaha factory team, to finish sixth.

… while Trouble Abounds at the Bottom
The concerns surrounding the Ducati garages heading into tonight’s fray were fully intact coming out. Rossi, battling his still-healing shoulder as well as the Desmosedici, managed a 7th place finish, but appeared to be working terribly hard for such a, um, nondescript result. Teammate Nicky Hayden, far from challenging Rossi for supremacy in the factory garage, dawdled his way to a 13th place start, but managed to pass a few weaklings during the race, finishing 9th. Hector Barbera, on his newly painted GP11, found something in qualifying and started 6th, but steadily lost whatever it was and ended up 12th, finally getting aced at the finish line by happy rookie Cal Crutchlow in the Monster Tech 3 satellite Yamaha.
Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden had to come to a complete stop in avoiding running over a fallen Randy De Puniet. Though he lost a lot of ground in the incident he recovered to finish ninth.
Across the tracks at the Pramac garage, where last year someone thought it would be a good idea to drop Aleix Espargaro and Mika Kallio in favor of Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi, tonight’s race became a laugh riot early on. De Puniet attempted to go through rather aggressively on teammate Capirossi on Lap 1. In the process, he: 1) crashed heavily, getting a booboo on his knee, and 2) smacked the clutch lever on Capirossi’s bike, such that it embossed the fingers on his left hand, causing his eventual painful retirement on Lap 2. Rookie Karel Abraham, riding his dad’s GP12, did manage to keep it upright, and was the last rider to cross the finish line for what promises NOT to be the last time this season.

Rizla Suzuki Girls Qatar MotoGP
The Rizla Suzuki Girls wish Alvaro Bautista a speedy recovery.

As a result of Alvaro Bautista’s practice crash on Friday, in which he broke his thigh bone, tonight’s race was the first MotoGP premier class race since 1974 NOT to feature a Suzuki in the starting lineup. Bautista’s injury is potentially game-changing problem for shaky Suzuki program that was showing flashes of, um, hope in testing. Unfortunately, he had run 16th in FP1, 14th in FP2, and was 16th in FP3 when he crashed. (If he is prone to such acts, Loris Capirossi is probably sniggering in the general direction of his former Japanese masters. However, after running 13th, 15th and 10th in these same practices and qualifying 14th, ol’ Capirex doesn’t have a whole lot of room to snigger at anyone.) American John Hopkins has been tagged to fill in for Bautista while he recovers. Hopkins, who rode Suzukis in the premier class between 2003 and 2007, was last seen accumulating 57 points for Kawasaki in the 2008 season.
Random Thoughts
The one Honda rider who DOES NOT yet have it together this season is Toni Elias. Fresh off his inaugural Moto2 title last season, he regained his premier class seat this year with LCR racing, which chose him over Randy de Puniet. Despite his long history riding Hondas and his success at Moto2, he has been unable to generate any speed at all this year. Unsurprisingly, he qualified last on Saturday and crashed out of last place on Lap 19, putting an end to his misery for this night.
Speaking of De Puniet, it would be remiss of me not to note that he qualified (11th) ahead of where he finished again tonight (DNF).
Valentino Rossi Qatar MotoGP
Valentino Rossi has a lot of work to do before he can be competitive on the Ducati Desmosedici. Half of Italy is waiting with baited breath for the Doctor to get up to speed.
Early last season, when Rossi got hurt, I prematurely awarded the builder’s trophy to Honda, which they then promptly turned around and lost, again, to the Yamahas. Is it too early to award the 2011 trophy to Honda?
For those interested in the junior MotoGP classes, Stefan Bradl took the Moto2 contest in a strong effort, while Nicolas Terol, free from the mojo of Marc Marquez, who graduated to Moto2 after his 2010 title, took the win tonight in the 125 class.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2012 Yamaha Super Tenere Review Japan builds a BMW GS competitor

BMW’s GS juggernaut finally becomes impossible for the Japanese to ignore. Yamaha’s Super Ténéré, an adventure-tourer with a 1200cc twin-cylinder engine, is set to go head to head against the iconic R1200GS when it arrives in America next spring. Yamaha’s big A-T actually has its own off-road legacy. A single-cylinder Ténéré (no super) enduro first debuted back in 1983. The Ténéré went Super in 1989 when the twin-cylinder XTZ750 debuted in the European market, and it went on to win the grueling Paris/Dakar rally six times. Hence the name Ténéré (say ten-eh-ray), which is a region in the Sahara desert traversed in the P/D rally.
This new Super Ténéré was introduced in Europe earlier this year, and Yamaha recently announced it would be coming to America as a 2012 model. If the 750cc parallel-Twin XTZ was a Super Ténéré, this new model might well be called the Super Duper Ténéré, as it has a 450cc displacement advantage.

We were among the first to ride Yamaha’s new Super Ténéré on American soil. It’s a viable contender to BMW’s R1200GS, with standard traction control and antilock brakes.
We were among the first to ride Yamaha’s new Super Ténéré on American soil. It’s a viable contender to BMW’s R1200GS, with standard traction control and antilock brakes.
The dual-purpose category, although just 6% of the total U.S. market, has shown steady growth since 2005, primarily in the 651cc-and-up segment that was primed by BMW’s R1200GS. The new Super-10 wants a slice of that lucrative market pie.

Roosting in the Arizona desert, the Super Ténéré will land in American dealers in May, 2011.
Roosting in the Arizona desert, the Super Ténéré will land in American dealers in May, 2011.

And after bashing Yamaha’s big trailie around the roads and deserts of Arizona for a couple of days, we found the Ténéré to be a good match for the dominating GS.
Key among the Super-10’s attributes is the features-per-dollar quotient. Its $13,900 base MSRP includes traction control, antilock brakes, dual-mode ride-by-wire mapping, tubeless spoked wheels and hand guards. In comparison, the rarely seen base version of the BMW retails for $14,950 but does without ABS or traction control or hand guards. BMW’s optional “Standard Package” includes ABS, hand guards and on-board computer but retails for $16,935. Spoked wheels are a $500 upgrade, and traction control is another $400.
"...we found the Ténéré to be a good match for the dominating GS."
Although no OEM will likely build a horizontally opposed Twin like the BMW’s Boxer motor, Yamaha has built a distinct but reasonable facsimile. Its Twin is rated at 108.5 crankshaft horsepower, nearly identical to the 110 ponies claimed for the GS.
But the cylinder arrangement of Ténéré’s inline-Twin stands apart. It uses a slightly smaller bore (98mm vs. 101mm) and longer stroke to yield 1199cc (the 1200GS displaces an actual 1170cc). It uses a 270-degree crankpin offset, which has cylinder 2 firing 270 degrees after cylinder 1, then cylinder 1 firing again 450 degrees later. This uneven firing order is said to improve a tire’s grip on slippery surfaces and also has the side benefit of creating an exhaust note very similar to that of a V-Twin.
The Ténéré is powered by a parallel-Twin engine with a 270-degree crankpin offset. A counterbalancer at the forward end quells vibration and drives the water pump (left).
The Ténéré is powered by a parallel-Twin engine with a 270-degree crankpin offset. A counterbalancer at the forward end quells vibration and drives the water pump (left).
A smallish radiator is mounted on the left side of the Ténéré. It wasn’t unusual to see the temperature gauge above 200 degrees and accompanied by a Buell-like whirring fan noise.
A smallish radiator is mounted on the left side of the Ténéré. It wasn’t unusual to see the temperature gauge above 200 degrees and accompanied by a Buell-like whirring fan noise.
A nicely shaped cast-aluminum swingarm houses the Ténéré’s shaft final drive.
A nicely shaped cast-aluminum swingarm houses the Ténéré’s shaft final drive.

This uneven firing order creates a lot of vibration, so the Ténéré’s motor is equipped with twin counterbalancers to smooth things out. The balance shaft at the front of the cylinders doubles as the water pump drive. A dry-sump oil system helps the engine be mounted as low as possible so it can be placed optimally in the steel frame. A side-mount radiator allows the engine to be placed further forward, resulting in 50.5% of the bike’s weight to be on the front wheel.
Air is mixed with fuel inside 46mm throttle bodies with 12-hole injectors, firing inside twin-plug cylinder heads like the GS. A ride-by-wire throttle makes possible the traction-control system that has two settings and can also be disabled. It also allows switching maps from a softer Touring setting to a more aggressive Sport mode via a button on the right-side switchgear.
Ears are greeted with a pleasingly deep exhaust sound from a big muffler hidden along the bike’s left side. Its note is similar to a 90-degree V-Twin’s but with hints of the R1’s crossplane-Four and single-cylinder thumps.
"Ears are greeted with a pleasingly deep exhaust sound..."
A four-position clutch lever requires a moderately firm pull to actuate the burly clutch pack consisting of 9 friction plates. Shift action is pleasingly light and positive, and power is transferred to the rear wheel via a shaft to a hypoid gear-set on the rear wheel. The stronger hypoid design allows smaller gears than a spiral-bevel arrangement, which Yamaha says is 10% tidier. However, there is a price to be paid for the hypoid arrangement – gear whine, which is especially noticeable around 60 mph.
A cast-aluminum swingarm actuates a shock hydraulically adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping, just like the GS. Both adjustments require no tools. Like all shaft-driven motorcycles, the rear suspension kicks back over bumps while accelerating.
Rear-suspension travel is 7.5 inches, the same as in the 43mm inverted fork. Yamaha one-ups the BMW by having fork adjustments for compression and rebound damping plus preload. However, the Ténéré isn’t available with anything like BMW’s optional push-button Electronic Suspension Adjustment.
Whether on the street or in the dirt, the Ténéré’s suspension delivers action typical of its conventional design, as opposed to BMW’s interesting but oddball Telelever front end. On paved surfaces, the Yamaha’s long-travel suspenders nicely suck up bumps that would have R1 riders wincing. And it also performs competently on every dirt terrain we sampled, from blasting at 80-plus-mph on groomed dirt roads to hammering over rock-strewn canyon fireroads. 

The Super Ténéré’s suspension is almost fully adjustable, lacking only rear compression damping variance. It worked well both on-road and off.
The Super Ténéré’s suspension is almost fully adjustable, lacking only rear compression damping variance. It worked well both on-road and off.

Aiding the Super-10’s high-speed stability is a somewhat lazy rake angle of 28.0 degrees with 126mm of trail. Turn-in response is nice and neutral even if not especially quick – a GS (or Multistrada) requires considerably less effort to crank into a corner.
Tire sizes are the same as used on the R1200GS (110/80-19 in front; 150/70-17 out back), sourced from either Bridgestone or Metzeler in a tubeless design made possible by cross-spoke wheels using a raised rim center section so the spokes don’t reach into the wheel’s interior and release air.
Our test mules were fitted with ’Stone Battle Wing tires developed especially for the Ténéré, using what seem to be deeper tread grooves than off-the-shelf ’Wings to deliver surprisingly good traction in the dirt as long as it isn’t thick and loose like sand. Considering the street-biased nature of most adventure-touring riders, we consider the ‘Wings to be an excellent tire compromise.
Yamaha’s traction-control system provided seat-of-the-pants data for the efficacy of the tires. Toggled into the least intrusive TC mode via a button on the left side of the instrument pod, the Ténéré’s rear tire hooked up well enough in the dirt to keep the TC intervention (indicated by an amber light on the gauges) from cutting in too often.
The TC2 setting allows some sliding before ignition timing and fuel are throttled back to regain grip, and we were pleased to note the intervention was never harsh – the engine never fell flat on its face but instead modulated output rather subtly. The TC1 setting is more intrusive and would best be used only in the slickest of conditions.

At 540 pounds without fuel, the Super Ténéré isn’t a small bike. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be ridden like a supermoto!
At 540 pounds without fuel, the Super Ténéré isn’t a small bike. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be ridden like a supermoto!
Other rider aids lie in the braking system. In addition to standard antilock control, the Ténéré is equipped with Yamaha’s Unified Brake System that links the rear brake to the front lever, helping limit chassis pitching during hard braking that is typical of bikes with long-travel front suspension.

The 2012 Super Ténéré has got some dirt chops.
The 2012 Super Ténéré has got some dirt chops.
A pull of the brake lever actuates a pump under the seat to apply rear-brake pressure, and the system is smart enough to automatically apply more rear brake when the bike is loaded with the extra weight of a passenger (based on lever pressure) and when the deceleration rate is high. The back of your helmet and the front of your passenger’s will appreciate less bonking when braking, and the UBS operates seamlessly with a solo rider.
A pair of 4-piston monoblock calipers clamp on 310mm wave rotors up front, while a single-piston rear caliper bites on a 282mm wave-style disc. Feedback is quite good through the levers. A 32-bit ECU samples wheel-speed and other data every 1000th of a second, and these tight parameters result in an ABS system that doesn’t kick in easily and quickly reapplies the brakes for minimal freewheeling sensations.
However, we think it’s an enduro-bike faux pas to not have the ability to turn off the ABS system in off-road conditions, especially during hill descents in slippery conditions, when a locked back wheel offers greater deceleration than the on-and-off effect of ABS intervention.  

Although it’s a nice feature to have ABS as standard equipment, experienced dirt riders will wish Yamaha would have included a way to switch it off for off-road work.
Although it’s a nice feature to have ABS as standard equipment, experienced dirt riders will wish Yamaha would have included a way to switch it off for off-road work.

BMW’s ABS system can be disabled, and so can the Multistrada’s, so we’ll have to give Yamaha a demerit point for not giving its riders that option. Yamaha’s ABS isn’t bad in the dirt and much better than earlier antilock systems, but hardcore dirt riders will wish for an off switch.
A little web searching reveals a simple way to disable the ABS, which we only discovered after we rode it. Just put the Tenere on its centerstand and run the bike in gear for a bit. This creates an error signal for the ABS system, so it shuts itself off. An ABS error code light illuminates on the instruments, and a rider is now free to lock up and slide the back tire with impunity! 
The Ténéré’s engine boasts a wide and torquey powerband, but considering the GS was obviously in Yamaha’s crosshairs, it was a little surprising to find the Super-10’s engine to be not superior to the Boxer. Seat-of-the pants impressions are of a motor not quite able to tractor away at low revs as the Beemer, and yet it also doesn’t have the top-end lunge expected of such a high-tech powerplant.
Motor Cycle News, a UK-based bike rag, strapped both bikes to a dyno, and it discovered remarkably similar powerbands up until 6000 rpm when the Boxer takes over with a stronger surge up top. The Ténéré peaked at 90.3 hp at rear wheel vs. 99.6 hp for the GS. The Beemer’s stronger engine is allied by its 30-some less pounds to handily beat the Ténéré in dragstrip, roll-on and top-speed performances.
Yamaha claims a curb weight of 575 lbs with its 6.1-gallon tank filled (mostly carried low and between rider’s legs), and MCN’s GS scaled in at 544 lbs with its smaller 5.3-gallon tank topped off.
Despite the deficit in engine performance, the Ténéré is nonetheless an appealing adventure-tourer. It has a satisfying midrange surge and is capable of exceeding 130 mph. Throttle response is quite smooth, even in the Sport setting, and engine vibration is a non-issue. An overdriven sixth gear helps supply a relaxed highway cruise.

The Super Ténéré offers reliable on-road composure despite its tall stature.
The Super Ténéré offers reliable on-road composure despite its tall stature.
The Ténéré’s riding position is very roomy, with tall riders enjoying an extra inch of legroom with its adjustable gripper-type seat set to its highest (34.3 inches) position. An optional low saddle ($239.95) reduces seat height by 1.4 inches to a more easily manageable 31.9 inches in its lowest position but offers significantly reduced padding and, hence, comfort. Its tapered handlebar isn’t too wide and suited riders of all sizes, making it comfortable when sitting and when standing during off-road work. Clever footpegs feature a rubber center section that compresses when standing to set boot soles on the pegs’ clawed outer edges for secure grip.

The Super Ténéré’s two-position seat can be adjusted from 33.3 inches to an inch taller.
The Super Ténéré’s two-position seat can be adjusted from 33.3 inches to an inch taller.
Protection from the elements is quite good. The standard windscreen deflects enough air to allow for faceshield-up riding with minimal buffeting, and the hand guards and pods around the side of the engine provide augmented wind protection for legs. The windshield adjusts to two heights, but unlike the GS’s hand-turnable knobs, the Ténéré requires removing four screws. Enhanced wind protection is available from an accessory windscreen 2.4 inches taller and adjustable over 3 positions, retailing for $119.95. Side wind deflectors made from 4mm polycarbonate are also optional ($79.95).

A rear luggage rack is standard equipment, and it can be expanded by removing the pillion seat to reveal a flat surface to strap down large items. The rear carrier also serves as a mount for an accessory cargo box ($369.95) big enough (30 liters) to hold a full-face helmet.
Greater stowage capacity is offered by optional saddlebags with 61 liters of combined capacity, and all bags can be keyed to the ignition key. They are built around rugged injection-molded nylon frames with aluminum skins and retail for $1089.85 including a mounting kit. We mostly liked them, but the lid latches are finicky and need to be firmly pressed shut to close properly. I wasn’t the only one at the launch who rode away mistakenly thinking the bags were latched.

Should your adventures take you far, you’ll probably want to fit your Ténéré with the optional aluminum-skinned luggage.
Should your adventures take you far, you’ll probably want to fit your Ténéré with the optional aluminum-skinned luggage.
The instruments include good stuff like an analog tach (with 8000-rpm redline) next to an LCD info screen that includes speed, drive modes, clock, dual tripmeters, average and instant fuel consumption and air temperature. A fuel tripmeter counts up the miles since switching to the 1.0-gallon reserve, but the instruments lack a range-to-empty feature and a gear-position indicator. A single DC power plug resides beside the gauges.
Some other optional equipment might be considered necessities for those who are serious off-roaders. Key among them is a bash plate to protect the header pipes and oil filter that are otherwise vulnerable to damage – since the engine is mounted as a stressed member, there are no lower frame rails to offer protection, and only a small plastic guard is fitted as stock. The Yamaha accessory skid plate ($199.95) is constructed of 3mm thick aluminum which appears to be quite sturdy, suffering without damage several big rock hits during our ride.

Visible in this shot are the optional aluminum bash plate and steel crash guards surrounding the engine. A centerstand is included as standard equipment.
Visible in this shot are the optional aluminum bash plate and steel crash guards surrounding the engine. A centerstand is included as standard equipment.
Your globe-trotting adventures should also be accompanied by the optional crash bars that will protect the side-mounted radiator and other stuff you don’t want broken in a spill. Consider the powder-coated steel cage ($449.95) to be proactive roadside insurance.
Heated grips are another nice option that matches up to BMW’s GS, and they retail for $399.95. Also like BMW, Yamaha has combined several accessories into three optional packages, all of which include a GoPro Hero onboard camera.
The X-Country Terrain package includes the crash bars, skid plate and a polycarbonate headlight protector for $749.95. The Comfort & Convenience bundle includes the top case and liner, heated grips, tall windscreen and wind deflector kit for $1,019.75. At the upper end of the price scale is the Adventure Touring Kit for $1,519.60 that includes saddlebags and bag liners, a tank bag, tall windshield and wind deflector kit.

The Super Ténéré can provide inspiration to take your riding adventures to the next level.
The Super Ténéré can provide inspiration to take your riding adventures to the next level.
Yamaha’s Super Ténéré brings a worthy foe to the adventure-touring class by virtue of its versatile set of capabilities. It’s one of the rare motorcycles that can easily knock out 500-plus miles of highway travel in a day and also allow exploration of uncharted and unpaved trails off the beaten path. But so does BMW’s R1200GS and GS Adventure, a thoroughly developed all-terrain vehicle that has become a class icon. That the Ténéré mostly matches the formidable GS is no small feat, and that it accomplishes this at a price thousands of dollars less than its German rival makes it a real player in this market.

Whether on asphalt or dirt, the Super Ténéré can get you to nearly any destination.
Whether on asphalt or dirt, the Super Ténéré can get you to nearly any destination.
If you want a Ténéré of your own, you’ll need to put down a $500 deposit to reserve your bike through Yamaha’s Pre-Delivery Deposit Program, the same as used for the FJR1300 and V-Max. Pre-orders close on March 31, 2011. Deliveries begin in May.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16 Review An impressive new sporty commuter bike

The Yamaha FZ-16 is bringing the company back from the dead in India. After several years hibernating, the Japanese giant has again made a motorcycle that captures the heart of the Indian enthusiast, and it’s become the country’s best all-round 150cc bike. This baby FZ has caused a flurry of activity at Yamaha showrooms, buyers queuing up across India to take one home.
Could a sporty small-displacement bike like the FZ-16 find a home on America’s urban streets?
Rugged and naked, the FZ-16 looks striking, borrowing its handsome lines from liter-class brother, the FZ1. Token fairing pieces clad the bike, with a massive, exquisitely sculpted tank dominating its macho profile. The compact single-cylinder engine sits exposed, and the FZ uses black, slim-spoke alloy rims while its engine, frame and silencer use the same color to good effect.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16
There’s a pseudo radiator cowl, complete with vents scooping air to the hot engine and spark plug region. A conical, halogen-bulb headlight throws a dazzling, well-spread beam. Orange backlit digital instruments look funky, going well with the bike’s youthful persona, and are easy to decipher.
2011 Yamaha FZ-16
A flat and wide handlebar is bolted to the FZ-16’s attractive triple clamp, home to all-inclusive switches, dogleg levers, conventional mirrors and nice palm grips.

The FZ-16’s tank knee recesses properly accommodate even a tall rider’s thighs. Alloy footrests, drilled foot protectors and a split grab bar are present. This Yamaha’s muscular demeanor is aided by its wide rear tire beneath a neat hugger.
The FZ-16 uses a 153cc, four-stroke Yamaha heart that pushes two-valves and feeds of a Mikuni CV type carburetor. Large cooling-fins are visible on the air-cooled engine, prominently visible on its sump section.
The latest Yamaha sports a stubby silencer that concentrates its mass close to the motorcycle’s center of gravity. This is achieved by coiling its bent-pipe like a snake in a box just underneath the engine. The FZ-16’s exhaust beat is muted.
Power output is a claimed 14 hp at 7500 rpm, while max torque of 10.3 ft-lb is made at 6000 rpm. Ignition is three-dimensional, considering throttle position – via a Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) – before deciding on the correct spark timing. A single-axis balancer kills engine vibes, while the rocker arms feature friction-slaying bearings.
The FZ-16 comes with a precise-shifting 5-speed gearbox, and it’s a joy to shift through. The tranny has perfectly spaced ratios and is supported by a light, city-friendly clutch.
2011 Yamaha FZ-16
The engine delivers decent low- and mid-range power, but it tapers away abruptly at high rpm. The FZ-16 isn’t the fastest bike in its class, but it’s easy, city-friendly power delivery is a highlight. There’s seldom the need to overwork the gearbox, and the bike can chug away in fifth from speeds as low as 15 mph. The engine occasionally suffers an irritating tendency to misfire and skip a beat at low rpm.
The FZ-16 managed a 0-to-36 mph run in 5.59 seconds, on its way to its true top speed of 68 mph. And it takes 4.87 secs to run from 36 to 50 mph in top gear. The FZ-16 engine is refined and smooth, always running with a vibe-free demeanor.
The riding position is perfect, neither too upright, nor putting excessive weight on your wrists. Its wide handlebar provides good leverage, allowing for quick direction changes with minimal steering effort. Flicking this Yamaha from side to side is effortless.
The FZ’s low riding saddle feels a tad soft but makes up with good width.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16
A steel, single downtube frame deploys the FZ’s engine as a stressed member. Fat 41mm diameter front forks are supported at the rear by Yamaha’s ‘monocross’ suspension, mating with a box-section, steel swingarm. Carving through city traffic is stress-free, with fine ride quality that is adjustable in seven-steps at the rear.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16
Among the best parts to this FZ are its ample, 17-inch tubeless radial tires providing good traction and a stable feel. The 100/80-17 front works with a wide (for its class) 140/60-17 out back to provide rock-steady handling in a straight line, as well as light, precise turn in. The FZ stitches up tight or high-speed corners with a reassuring feel.
Confident, powerful braking is thanks to a single rotor, 267mm front disc-brake and rear 130mm drum, both offering progressive feel and plenty of bite. We managed to bring the FZ-16 from 36 mph to rest in 48.9 feet.

Real-world testing confirms the FZ-16 is good enough for 97.4 mpg in crowded Indian city conditions, with 110 mpg possible on highways.
The FZ-16 is an impressive, built-in-India motorcycle from Yamaha. It easily blows away its competition on those shores, thanks to stylish looks, excellent fit and finish, as well as rock-solid build quality.

2011 Yamaha FZ-16
The FZ-16 additionally enjoys a punchy engine, near-perfect gearbox and allows riders to harness all that potential thanks to impeccable handling manners and brakes. The frame, suspension, tires and brakes package integrate so well, that a rider often feels this chassis is ready for with a few more horses.
The Yamaha FZ-16 slams the nail on the head as a leader among sub-200cc sporty commuters.
However, it seems doubtful the FZ-16 will be imported to the U.S. Yamaha’s American reps tell us there are no current plans to sell them on our shores.

Yamaha FZ-16 Specs
Price (Ex-showroom, India) 65,000 Rupees (approx. US$1,453)
L/W/H (mm) 1975/770/1045
Wheelbase 1335mm (52.5 in)
Curb Weight 137kg (302 lbs)
Engine Single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke
Displacement 153cc
Power 14bhp at 7500rpm
Torque 1.42kgm at 6000rpm
Gearbox 5-speed, 1-down, 4-up
0-60kph (37 mph) 5.59 seconds
0-100kph (62 mph) 22.09 seconds
Maximum speed 109kph (68 mph)
Fuel economy as tested 44.1 kpl (104 mpg)
Front suspension Telescopic fork
Rear suspension Monocross, rectangle section swingarm
Front brake 267mm disc
Rear brake 130mm drum
Tire sizes (front-rear) 100/80 x 17-140/60 x 17 inches  

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