2016 Motorcycle Week In Review, June 10
Here we are just two months away from the 76th Annual Black Hills Motor Classic in Sturgis, South Dakota, and the summer is already starting to sizzle. Race fans were treated to a veritable cornucopia as man and machine tackled the mountainous race course at the Isle of Man TT. We had a handful of announcements for brand new rides, and a confirmation of a new-to-the-U.S. model, so join me for a brief rundown of a few of the highlights.
Continue reading for my look at the week of June 10, 2016.
Zero 10th Anniversary DSR
I’ve never made any secret of my enthusiasm for hybrid and full-electric propulsion systems, even before current technology moved them from novelty status into the mainstream, so it is with great delight that I announce the 10th birthday of the longest running electric bike company in the world; Zero Motorcycles.
Originally called “Electricross,” Zero has been at the cutting edge of electric-bike development, and has progressed to the point that it is tackling the aforementioned Isle of Man TT against other electrics, and going head-to-head against “smoker bikes” elsewhere to demonstrate just exactly how far it has come in the last decade. If the development continues at the current pace, with a concurrent increase in infrastructure (read: public charging stations), I expect we will see Zero Motorcycles reap the benefits of having shaped the market from the ground up. Happy Birthday, Zero.
Yamaha fans can find their bookies and settle their debts no matter which way they placed their bet. The Tuning Fork Company has finally confirmed what the rumor mill has been saying for months; the R1-inspired FZ-10 that has been marketed in Canada as the MT-10 will definitely be coming to U.S. dealers for the 2017 model year. This is a good move for Yamaha, as it expands the naked/street-sport lineup that has replaced the supersports as the weapon of choice for U.S. sportbike riders, and is sure to appeal to a younger generation of rider. I won’t belabor the specs here, that’s what reviews are for, but suffice to say this ride sports a laundry list of top-shelf features you would expect on a $20,000 bike but may be surprised to discover on a bike that rolls for around two-thirds the price. Visit our motorcycle section for a full review in the near future.
After a one-year hiatus, Honda announced a new Grom for the 2017 model year — their first 2017 reveal in Powersports. The Grom will be turning three years old, and the ’17s show some new features as the factory refines the line. It’s hard to place a specific label on the Grom. It’s not quite a monkey bike, but I suppose it’s close enough for government work, and I’ve yet to meet a bike that needs a pat categorization to be fun. Someone at Honda has an inner-child that is just squealing with glee right now, or maybe it’s their inner hooligan, I can’t quite tell.
Chasing the Dakar
The Paris-to-Dakar race used to regarded as one of the toughest motorcycle races in the world, and the course got a double dose of attention this week in the form of a television (people still watch TV?) special and a custom bike from none other than BMW. Riding Morocco: Chasing The Dakar will air on the National Geographic Channel on June 17th at 6 pm EST, and features veteran rider Christophe Barriere-Varju along with Aussie fashion model and actress, the lovely Laura Csortan.
The pair will be riding along the old Paris-Dakar route, and the show will display some lovely-but-rugged country while it chronicles the adventures of this intrepid duo. It will also showcase the performance of Honda’s CRF 1000L Africa Twin adventure bikes built specifically for this sort of terrain, to include an automatic transmission (DCT) model for the model, that it gifted for the show. Truth be told, this should be one heck of a plug for Honda, and commercials alone can’t give them the same exposure this show will give them. Be sure to tune in and check it out, and anyone who enjoyed Around and Down should definitely give this a watch.
BMW Concept R nine T
BMW pays homage to the Dakar Rally with a custom version of its oh-so-customizable, R nine T model. This Beemer sports dual-purpose tires and a host of other Rally-esque features that bring to mind BMW’s previous podium finishes back in the ’80s. The R nine T is something of a blank canvas for custom builders, and it’s kind of fun to see what the factory came up with for this particular custom effort. While I am quite positive I have no business whatever tackling country as hostile as that, I can easily think of a few places I would attack most enthusiastically with one of these sporty new concept bikes.
Harley-Davidson announced a recall on certain 2014.5 through 2016 FXDL Low Rider models for a problem with the ignition switch. According to the factory, vibration can cause a failure within the electronics in the switch, and can create an unsafe riding situation by suddenly killing the engine while riding.
Needless to say, anything vulnerable to vibration is a problem on a Harley, but as usual The Motor Company is being proactive, and getting out ahead of the problem. There have been no casualties as such so far, and this is a voluntary recall — no agencies with initials for a name is twisting Harley’s arm. Owners of affected models should expect specific information and instructions soon if they haven’t already received a package from the factory.
Our Thoughts and Prayers
Tragedy visited the opening day of the Isle of Man TT. In the first lap of the Sidecar race, 27-year-old Dwight Beare suffered mortal injuries in a crash that also sent his passenger, Benjamin Binns to the hospital with a fractured ankle. Immediately after the red-flagged sidecar race was finished up, Paul Shoesmith, a 50-year-old veteran of the race, sustained fatal injuries in a crash during a practice lap. These deaths highlight not only the inherent dangers of the course, but the skill and testicular fortitude required to compete on it. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the folks close to these two brave souls. Godspeed, brothers.