Motor Cycle Industry Association Media Test Day – 2010
|Wednesday, 12 May 2010 11:15|
On the 27th April the Motorcycle Industry Association held its annual media test day at Bedford Autodrome. This years event was based around the Motor Cycle Industry Association’s Get On campaign. The campaign is designed to promote the benefits of life on two wheels, with motorcycling being congestion beating, more environmentally friendly, more economical and providing the added benefits of fun and freedom!
As such this year the motorcycle manufacturers represented at the event were those supporting the Get On campaign (no main stream Italian manufacturers being present disappointingly), their press test bikes were available for all attendees to try out. Again there was a choice of three tracks to ride to try the bikes out on, or police BikeSafe escorted road rides and a circuit for non-licence holders to try out a scooter or motorcycle as part of the Get On Campaign’s free motorcycle taster sessions.
The inter-bike Press Team attended determined again to sample as many bikes as we could squeeze into the day.
With road riding time limited to under an hour to ride each model, we give you our initial impressions of each bike our team tested:-
Suzuki GSX1250FA Review
The Suzuki GSX1250FA is Suzuki’s fully faired version of their highly successful Suzuki Bandit 1250 and what a transformation the addition of the full fairing makes to the looks of the former naked street bike. The Suzuki designers have added a svelte looking fairing and mini screen that truly give the bike a very sporting appearance.
Immediately you ride the Suzuki, although this is a big machine you feel comfortable on it. The relaxed riding position, height adjustable seat, clear instrumentation, gear indicator and shift light, centre stand and comfortable seat all point to this being an admirable long distance tourer. Suzuki will be shortly offering a full range of hard luggage for this model to complete the touring ensemble. The six-speed gear box was very light and slick in action and the ABS equipped brakes positive without being aggressive.
However the overriding feeling when riding the bike is one of smoothness. The engine is a real gem providing ample power delivered in a fuss free fashion from its 1,255cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected DOHC engine. It offered a wide spread of power with the peak torque being produced low down in the rev range.
The handling was surprisingly good too, given that this bike does not have designer label suspension. This is a big bike, but the bike is very flick- able one up and it instantly inspires confidence, though we would need to test the bike fully loaded and with a pillion to see how well it truly performs in the handling area.
However what amazes you most about this bike it here you have a very competent large capacity sports tourer model that is being offered for sale at only £6,999!!! This is truly a good value model and Suzuki have obviously realised that with many other manufacturers pricing their models in the £12,000 - £15,000 price bracket that the demand for value from customers in these times of economic recession is paramount.
Royal Enfield Clubman EFI Review and Royal Enfield Woodsman EFI Review
We got the opportunity to ride two of Royal Enfield’s models both powered by the new 500cc fuel injected construction unit that was introduced to conform to Euro 3 emission standards. The engine produces 28HP and 41.3 Nm of torque at 4000rpm, these figures are modest by modern standards, but riding Royal Enfield’s is not about power, its about enjoying the ride and the classic biking ambience these bikes generate.
Every time you ride a modern Royal Enfield you come back with a broad smile on your face as you have returned to the core values of motorcycling, that of fun and freedom.
These bikes can still be hustled along at in excess of the legal maximum, yet return penny pinching fuel economy of just under 80 mpg.
Our ride of both models proved to be a very enjoyable experience. The EFI unit engine producing enough power to make tolerably good progress on A roads, but very entertaining progress on B and C roads. The unit’s power being a 500 cc single it is very torquey and both models were better suited to the “point and squirt” riding style for back roads.
Surprisingly although the power output of both models is identical, the Clubman felt faster no doubt due to Gold Star styling, drop bars , alloy tank, rear set footrest and rear seat cowl all providing that classic racing feel. We did find that the seat cowl needed some padding against your rear, if our pot hole filled UK roads were to be ridden with any verve.
The Woodsman was obviously more comfortable with its well padded single set and upswept style bars and also the exhaust note was louder due to the upswept exhaust carrying the sound nearer your ears.
All in all there is much to like about the Royal Enfield riding experience and if a return to the pure enjoyment of riding a modern classic is what you are after we can say that a Royal Enfield fits the bill.
Honda VFR1200F ABS Review
Much has already been written about the new Honda VFR1200 and it was with a sense of anticipation that we got the chance to briefly ride Honda’s new flag ship model. Now, how the angular looks of this new bike grab you is very much a personal choice, some will like the innovative styling, others won’t!
Unfortunately the stylist pen also extended to changing the traditional position of switches on the handlebars. The horn button and indicator switch are reversed, resulting in us pressing the horn button at the first junction we rode towards, much to the amusement of our BikeSafe escort. We have to ask why Honda have found it necessary to try and undo years of convention and move the indicator switch. Thereafter we had to concentrate every time we wanted to signal and fumble for the switch in its non-standard position. In contrast the combined digital and analogue dash layout was very clear and easy to read.
The smoothness of the new Honda V4 engine immediately strikes you and the turbine like way in which the power, all 127kW is delivered is pleasing. As too, was the distinct exhaust note of the V4 engine.
However less so is the weight at 276kg, this is no lightweight. At traffic town speed and slow manoeuvring the bikes weight is noticeable, dare one say a little ponderous, but once on the move this quickly disappears and on fast A roads and sweeping long bends you could almost think you a riding a sports bike, be it a very large one.
The ABS equipped linked brakes bring this bike to stop very quickly and fuss free, however personally I am not a fan of linked brakes, preferring to make the decision myself, given road conditions, as to how much front and rear brake I apply.
Our time with the VFR1200 was brief and whilst one can be impressed with the engine and performance, we were left feeling a little uninvolved, in that in the strive for mechanical and technical perfection the soul of the machine has been left out. Perhaps a longer test ride would have helped us appreciate the bikes character more?
Yamaha VMAX Review
Grunt, grunt and more grunt! The VMAX is a muscle bike extraordinaire. One cannot fail to be impressed not only be the VMAX’s physical presence but the performance figures are immense too; a 1679cc V4 engine producing 147kW and a massive 166.8Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm.
The bike looks like it has been lifted from the set of Mad Max, with the muscular looks just exuding raw power.
Just in case you should get too exuberant Yamaha point out that the VMAX has a governed top speed of 220km/h, by a smart system that still allows a complete ¼ mile run under full acceleration.
We obviously got no where near this figure on our road ride escorted by BikeSafe police rider, but within the limits of legality and safe riding we got to enjoy the VMAX’s startling powerful acceleration and raw torque. Although this machine has a 5 speed gearbox, it is almost superfluous, even in 5th gear cracking the throttle open produces rocket thrust levels of power and acceleration, making every overtake a sensory joy and achieved with ease.
The exhaust note is deep and rumbling as befits the mammoth engine and becomes deeper and more aggressive as the bike accelerates.
But with all this power the bike can still be ridden through the twisties with a surprisingly level of accomplishment, the suspension doing a great job of soaking up the pot-hole ridden roads and enabling the bike to be cornered with surprising degrees of lean. However the same cannot be said for slow speed handling where by the weight of 310kg makes it self immediately felt, combined with steeply raked forks, making the bike want to turn in very quickly and give the impression it would fall over. We found judicious use of the rear brake helped with the slow speed handling.
However low speed riding dare we say is not what this bike is about. We never broke 5000 rpm on our ride; the bike redlines at just under 10,000rpm. A drag strip is needed to fully appreciate the bikes performance.
This bike is truly addictive and has to be our top ride of the day, though the £19,999 price tag may instantly cure you of this addiction.
|< Prev||Next >|