• Jan 31 2012

    Dream Bike: KTM 250 EXC. What’s yours?


    When it comes to buying bikes, there’s always a practical choice and an emotional choice. In New York City, a motorcyclist’s dreams can easily be so far from the riding reality that the gap between the practical choice and the emotional one can span entire riding genres.



    For a while now, we’ve been lusting after a KTM 250 EXC. We’ve even explained how to write a powerful search for one on craigslist. The 250 EXC is a lightweight, 2-stroke dirtbike that you can just about convince the DMV to register for street use. It’s got a big enough engine to get it from trail to trail and enough torque to ride off the pipe. Suspension travel is huge, and six gears mean that the bike can be ridden on tight or wide open trails without running out of breath.



    They’re not even that expensive. Craigslist searches turn up lots of bikes from 2003-2005 priced from $2k to $3k. So why haven’t we picked one up yet? It isn’t the fact that every enduro-racer out there has one. It’s that the bike is just not at all suited for tootling around NYC, and garage space here is scarce. That’s a pity, because if we had a trail network starting at our backyard, the hunt for a pristine old KTM 250 would start on day one.



    What bike do you dream about owning?


  • Jan 29 2012

    British helmet-rating program discovers massive differences between helmets


    Ever wondered if there’s a difference in safety provided by a $100 helmet and a $700 helmet? Cheap and expensive helmets differ in so many ways—pad-removability, shield optics and locking, comfort, wind noise, and paint quality—that we’ve always thought that there are probably difference in the protection offered as well.  SHARP, a helmet-testing standard created by the UK government aims to find out.


    Currently, helmets undergo ANSI or Snell testing, and either pass or fail.  Neither certification offers any sort of rating, so it’s impossible for a safety-conscious consumer to determine which helmet is safest.


    The UK’s program first released ratings in 2008 and is called “Safety Helmet Assessment and Ratings Programme,” or SHARP, and rates helmets on safety from one to five stars.  The stars are awarded beyond the minimum safety standards, so a helmet that only just passes the test will be awarded one star.  SHARP also rates different zones on the helmet—like the forehead, temples, or crown—with six different ratings, so a rider can get an idea of how the helmet protects various parts of the head.


    Another great aspect of SHARP is that they test only helmets purchased from retailers. In contrast, the helmets Snell tests have been submitted by manufacturers, so there’s the possibility of getting a “ringer.”  We wholeheartedly approve the UK’s sensible approach to helmet safety ratings.


    From the website:


    For every helmet model, we run 32 tests on seven helmets across a range of sizes – assessing how well each helmet could protect the brain in the event of a crash. To ensure the validity of our assessment, we only test helmets that we ourselves have purchased from retail outlets. It is important that the helmets we test are the same as those you would buy yourself.


    We then go to work, testing each helmet by impacting them against anvils to represent flat surfaces and kerbs. SHARP tests are carried out at three different speeds to ensure the helmet provides good protection during both high and low severity impacts. Despite the risk of injury being much lower during less severe crashes, even a small risk could result in riders being seriously or fatally injured.






  • Jan 26 2012

    Victory reveals Judge muscle bike in NYC


    One of the big stories of this year’s New York Motorcycle show was the launch of Victory’s 2013 Judge.  During the press day, the boys at Victory pulled the cover off to a packed crowd, and unveiled the beautiful orange V-twin.


    The Judge marks a departure from Victory’s standard repertoire of touring bikes, cruisers, and baggers—it’s a muscle-bike through and through.  Though it gets the same vaunted Freedom 106 c.i. air/oil-cooled fuel-injected twin that a lot of the other Victorys have, the Judge is differentiated by its drag bars, mid-controls, and—in a first for Victory—a round headlight.



    Tires are also a nod to the muscle bikes of yore.    The 16” cast “mag” wheels wears a 130/90 on the front and 140/90 on the rear.  That gives the Judge an aggressive stance, and likely makes for more capable handling than the “huge front wheel mated to fat rear tire” setup found on many twins.



    The sporty Judge should put some pressure on Harley’s V-Rod, which is slightly more cruiser oriented.  The V-Rod’s forward controls and raked-out fork may give the Judge an edge in the canyons, and the Judge’s big tires and black just-about-everything look great to us.


    The 2013 Judge will cost $13,999 in Gloss Black and $14,399 in Suede Nuclear Sunset or  Sunset Red.


    Victory Motorcycles


  • Jan 25 2012

    The Metzeler-shod bikes of the 2012 NYC Motorcycle Show


    After we finished gawking at the acres of splendid metal that filled the Javits Center this weekend, our attention turned to the tires on the bikes. Lots of them come straight from the factory with Metzelers; here are our favorites.



    The 2012 Indian Chief wears Metzeler Marathon ME880 Whitewalls, and lots of the bikes at Victory’s stand wore plain-Jain ME880s.


    BMW’s bonkers S1000R was shod with the excellent Racetech K3 roadracing gumballs, while their GS1200 wore Tourance EXPs (pictures to come).




    These custom bikes wore the ME880 Marathon, which is a fabulous-looking, long-lasting tire that is excellent for cruisers and touring bikes alike.




    Several of Victory’s bikes also came with Metzeler ME880s.




    The Husqvarna Baja Concept is an aggressive, retro BMW F650-powered dual-sport that is a sister bike to their MOAB tracker concept, and rides on our Karoo multi-purpose off-road tire.


  • Jan 24 2012

    Husqvarna equips their retro Baja Concept with Metzeler’s Karoo


    At the 2012 New York Motorcycle Show, Husqvarna unveiled their Baja Concept, a retro 650cc dual-sport.  The bike shares nearly all design cues with Husky’s Concept MOAB scrambler, but has longer travel and knobbier tires.



    The Baja Concept comes hot on the heels of a host of other new bikes—the production Nuda 900, the Concept MOAB, and the Concept Strada.   Husqvarna seems like they’re on the fence about whether or not to produce either the MOAB or the Baja, and even stationed a representative near the Baja in New York to gauge reaction.  We hope he got a great reaction; he said that Husky will decide whether or not to build it depending on the public’s reactions.



    Today’s racing dirtbikes are almost intimidatingly aggressive, and the current dual-sports are so big and practical that we’re relieved to see a bike that speaks to us about the joy of riding rather than out and out completion or touring.  The Baja looks like it’d be fun to race around town on or a great way to tear up a local trail.  We’d prefer a 450cc version, but it sounds like the bike will get the 650cc single from BMW’s F650GS.



    In any case, we dig the retro styling, the classic Husky paint job, and the subtle number plate/LED headlight.


    Husky chose our Karoo for the Baja Concept, because it is aggressive enough for offroad riding but durable enough for street riding, and can handle the power of the 650cc Baja.  The Karoo is also DOT certified and carries an R speed rating, for a max speed of 106 mph.



latest comments