Monday, June 15, 2009


Harley-Davidson Motor Company (NYSE: HOG, formerly HDI[3]) (often abbreviated H-D or Harley) is an American motorcycle manufacturer. Founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the first decade of the 20th century, it was one of two major American manufacturers to survive the Great Depression. Harley-Davidson also survived a media-accelerated negative image of motorcyclists, a period of poor quality control, and competition with Japanese manufacturers.
The company sells heavyweight (over 750 cc) motorcycles designed for cruising on the highway. Harley-Davidson motorcycles (popularly known as "Harleys") have a distinctive design and exhaust note. They are especially noted for the tradition of heavy customization that gave rise to the chopper-style of motorcycle.[4] Except for the modern VRSC model family, current Harley-Davidson motorcycles reflect the styles of classic Harley designs. Harley-Davidson's attempts to establish itself in the light motorcycle market have met with limited success and have largely been abandoned since the 1978 sale of its Italian Aermacchi subsidiary.
Harley-Davidson sustains a loyal brand community which keeps active through clubs, events, and a museum. Licensing of the Harley-Davidson logo accounts for almost 5% of the company's net revenue.
In addition to manufacturing motorcycles under its own name and its licensing and accessories line, Harley-Davidson's operations include Custom Vehicle Operations, which makes special editions of Harley models with larger engines, the Buell Motorcycle Company, a manufacturer of Harley-engined sportbikes and a middleweight "beginner" bike, and Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta, including their Cagiva subsidiary.
In 1901, William S. Harley, age 21, drew up plans for a small engine with a displacement of 7.07 cubic inches (116 cc) and four-inch (102 mm) flywheels. The engine was designed for use in a regular pedal-bicycle frame.
Over the next two years Harley and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson labored on their motor-bicycle using the northside Milwaukee machine shop at the home of their friend, Henry Melk. It was finished in 1903 with the help of Arthur's brother, Walter Davidson.[5] Upon completion the boys found their power-cycle unable to conquer Milwaukee's modest hills without pedal assistance. Will Harley and the Davidsons quickly wrote off their first motor-bicycle as a valuable learning experiment.[6
Work immediately began on a new and improved second-generation machine. This first "real" Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a bigger engine of 24.74 cubic inches (405 cc) with 9.75 inches (25 cm) flywheels weighing 28 lb (13 kg). The machine's advanced loop-frame pattern was similar to the 1903 Milwaukee Merkel motorcycle (designed by Joseph Merkel, later of Flying Merkel fame.) The bigger engine and loop-frame design took it out of the motorized-bicycle category and would help define what a modern motorcycle should contain in the years to come. The boys also received help with their bigger engine from outboard motor pioneer Ole Evinrude, who was then building gas engines of his own design for automotive use on Milwaukee's Lake Street.

The prototype of the new loop-frame Harley-Davidson was assembled in a 10- by 15-foot (3 by 5 meter) shed in the Davidson family backyard. Most of the major parts, however, were made elsewhere, including some probably fabricated at the West Milwaukee railshops where oldest brother William A. Davidson was then toolroom foreman. This prototype machine was functional by 8 September 1904 when it competed in a Milwaukee motorcycle race held at State Fair Park. It was ridden by Edward Hildebrand and placed fourth. This is the first documented appearance of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the historical record.[7]
In January 1905, small advertisements were placed in the "Automobile and Cycle Trade Journal" that offered bare Harley-Davidson engines to the do-it-yourself trade. By April, complete motorcycles were in production on a very limited basis. That year the first Harley-Davidson dealer, Carl H. Lang of Chicago, sold three bikes from the dozen or so built in the Davidson backyard shed. (Some years later the original shed was taken to the Juneau Avenue factory where it would stand for many decades as a tribute to the Motor Company's humble origins. Unfortunately, the first shed was accidentally destroyed by contractors in the early 1970s during a clean-up of the factory yard.)
In 1906, Harley and the Davidsons built their first factory on Chestnut Street (later Juneau Avenue). This location remains the Motor Company's corporate headquarters today. The first Juneau Avenue plant was a 40 by 60-foot (18 m) single-story wooden structure. That year around 50 motorcycles were produced.
In 1907, William S. Harley graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in mechanical engineering. That year additional factory expansion came with a second floor and later with facings and additions of Milwaukee pale yellow ("cream") brick. With the new facilities production increased to 150 motorcycles in 1907. The company was officially incorporated that September. They also began selling their motorcycles to police departments around this time, a market that has been important to them ever since.[8]
Production in 1905 and 1906 were all single-cylinder models with 26.84 cubic inch (440 cc) engines. In February 1907 a prototype model with a 45-degree V-Twin engine was displayed at the Chicago Automobile Show. Although shown and advertised, very few V-Twin models were built between 1907 and 1910. These first V-Twins displaced 53.68 cubic inches (880 cc) and produced about 7 horsepower (5 kW). This gave about double the power of the first singles. Top speed was about 60 mph (97 km/h). Production jumped from 450 motorcycles in 1908 to 1,149 machines in 1909.[9]
By 1911 some 150 makes of motorcycles had already been built in the United States – although just a handful would survive the 1910s.
In 1911, an improved V-Twin model was introduced. The new engine had mechanically operated intake valves, as opposed to the "automatic" intake valves used on earlier V-Twins that opened by engine vacuum. With a displacement of 49.48 cubic inches (810 cc), the 1911 V-Twin was smaller than earlier twins, but gave better performance. After 1913 the majority of bikes produced by Harley-Davidson would be V-Twin models.
By 1913, the yellow brick factory had been demolished and on the site a new 5-story structure of reinforced concrete and red brick had been built. Begun in 1910, the red brick factory with its many additions would take up two blocks along Juneau Avenue and around the corner on 38th Street. Despite the competition, Harley-Davidson was already pulling ahead of Indian and would dominate motorcycle racing after 1914. Production that year swelled to 16,284 machines.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Yamaha Virago 535

As fellow rider Chuck Hawks rightly has put it out in his webpage:A 500cc street bike used to be a large middleweight motorcycle. Marlon Brando rode a 500cc Triumph Speed Twin in the seminal motorcycle movie The Wild One, which was inspired by the Hollister incident back in the 1950's. Not many outlaws today ride sweet 500 twins! Once the most competitive class in sporting street bikes (much as the 600cc class is today), the 500cc class has become sort of a sales backwater.

A 500cc bike is fast enough to run with the big boys, although it will be working harder at any given speed than a larger displacement motorcycle. Until 2001, 500cc was the maximum displacement allowed in Gran Prix racing. So while a 500 can be among the most versatile of motorcycles for the solo street rider, it can also be a very high performance motorcycle.

A typical 500cc street bike probably has a top speed of around 100 mph, and can cruise for extended periods of time above the legal speed limit on the highway. It is still light enough to be a good commuter bike in the city, and easy to park. Most 500's have enough acceleration to blow away all but the quickest cars in an impromptu "stoplight Grand Prix." 500's traditionally have the handling and brakes to back up their acceleration and speed.

Yamaha's Virago 535 cruiser, discontinued after the 2001 model year, is more radical looking than the Kawasaki Vulcan 500. A smooth 70-degree sohc V-twin engine that displaces 535cc powers the chopper-esque Virago. This engine is fed by two 34mm carburetors. Power reaches the rear wheel through a five-speed transmission and shaft final drive, the only shaft drive in the 500cc class, a big plus. The backbone type frame uses the engine as a stressed member. The raked front forks share suspension chores with dual rear shocks. A disc brake in front and a drum brake in the rear stop the laced wheels. Dual shorty slash cut mufflers enhance the chopper image. The 28.3 inch seat height allows most riders to reach the ground with both feet. The 401 pound dry weight is average for the class, and the low center of gravity makes low speed maneuvers less stressful.

All of this sophistication and style once put the Virago 535 at the top of the 500cc cruiser class.

2009 Kawasaki Versys


Every once in a while, Kawasaki strikes a hit in their competition by introducing brand new models that have little to do with the manufacturer’s consecrated style, but adapt perfectly to the market and carry on gathering tremendous benefits around the world. This is exactly what happened with the Versys model, a middleweight all-rounder that was first introduced to Europe and Canada at the end of 2006, a year before going for the American market.

Relying on the 649cc, liquid-cooled, parallel twin cylinder engine with DOHC and four-valves per cylinder that Kawasaki engineers borrowed from the Ninja 650R, the bike stands out as a great urban ride because of the healthy low-to-mid rpm range. The digital fuel injection system with 38mm Keihin throttle bodies is behind this achievement, but there are no worries related to the bike not being able to keep a constant elevated pace on the freeway and obtain great mileage while doing it.

Although not a veritable tourer, the Versys does offer an upright riding position and considering that it is supposed to commute, scratch and tour, it features a three-way adjustable windscreen so that riders of all sizes can direct the air flow just above their heads. Also, the bike features relaxed ergonomics and, still, the rider’s knees grip on sides of the gas tank offering better control and inspiring confidence.

We do have to admit that the Versys remains a tall bike for 2009 as well, but the 33.1 inches high seat is perfect for the average sized rider. Also, the decent ground clearance ensures that this thing can cover different types of surfaces although not being specifically built for the off-road terrain. The long-travel forks and single shock rear suspensions are also up for the challenge so it’s good to know you’re bike has a few extra advantages that the one from which the engine was borrowed, for example, doesn’t. The 17-inch 6-spoke wheels come in contradiction with a rider’s plans to hit the off-road, but as long as we’re talking about silky soft enduro, it is absolutely no problem.

Overall, Kawasaki’s all-rounder with a soft spot for pavement is still built following a new recipe, one that the competition hasn’t yet been able to literally recreate.

Test Ride

As the name says, versatility is the key feature of the Versys, a motorcycle that doesn’t fit any specific category, but which combines the benefits of different ones such as sports, touring and even dual-sport. The first impression that it provides is that of comfort as the handlebars-seat-pegs triangle works perfectly for the average sized rider and after a whole day of riding the Versys, we’ve come to the conclusion the comfort is not just an impression, but something definitely worthy to brag about.

Power is there at every twist of the throttle. Given the engine’s user-friendly nature, we tended to underestimate the bike’s capabilities of providing a rush all across the powerband and it was only when we rolled on the throttle healthier and lifted that front wheel off the ground we noticed that there’s plenty more of the Versys than it actually unveils at a quick worming up run. The engine enjoys being revved although at around 8,000 rpm most riders will think they have to shift. Actually, the tachometer’s needle hits redline at 10,500 rpm, which means that it can be a rush after all.

Around the bends or on the freeways, the 2009 Kawasaki Versys will prove being a top performer. This thing leans easily into corners and offers a nice reassuring feel even though you’ll be positioned a little higher than on any middleweight sports bike. Also, thanks to the presence of a sixth gear, the engine’s capabilities can be taken even further and hit the more than decent top speed of around 120 mph. At these speeds, wind protection becomes a key factor and for us the highest windscreen position worked just like on a veritable sport-touring motorcycle.

Furthermore, yet another cool think about the Versys is that it offers the possibility to leave the tarmac in favor of fire roads and generally not bumpy off-road terrain. It’s simply amazing to have the possibility to explore on a bike which performs like a more or less docile middleweight sportsbike with a touring riding position. Also, riding upright on a pretty tall motorcycle provides a great view of the scenery ahead so the bike won’t get more than it’s capable of dealing with.

The suspensions have much to do with this bike being this versatile as they were designed to take the best both of the dual-sport and sportbike worlds. Around sharp bends, these perform brilliantly and at no time the rider will feel like the bike was specifically built for the off-road while off the road these aren’t bad at all.

Not only the 649cc parallel-twin engine was borrowed from the Ninja 650R, but the brake systems too and they work as good on the Versys as they do on the donor bike. Stopping power is always enough and the bike remains stable under hard braking. Also – before corners– slowing down feels almost natural, just like the entire performance of the 2009 Kawasaki Versys.


Engine and Transmission

Engine: Four-stroke, liquid cooled, DOHC, four-valve per cylinder, parallel twin
Displacement: 649cc
Bore x stroke: 83.0 x 60.0mm
Compression ratio: 10.6:1
Maximum torque: 44.9 lb/ft @6,800 rpm
Cooling: Liquid
Fuel system: Digital fuel injection with two 38mm Keihin throttle bodies
Ignition: Digital CDI
Transmission: Six-speed
Final drive: O-Ring chain

Chassis and Dimensions

Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
Rake / trail: 25 degrees / 4.3 in.
Wheelbase: 55.7 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 41mm hydraulic telescopic fork with adjustable rebound and preload / 5.9 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Single offset laydown shock with adjustable rebound and spring preload / 5.7 in.
Front tire: 120/70x17
Rear tire: 160/60x17
Front brake: Dual 300mm petal discs with two-piston caliper
Rear brake: Single 220mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
Overall length: 83.7 in.
Overall width: 33.1 in.
Overall height: 51.8 in.
Seat height: 33.1 in.
Curb weight: 454.1 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 5.0 gal.

649cc Parallel Twin-cylinder, DOHC Engine
# Most compact engine in its category, helps reduce the dimensions of the entire motorcycle

# Triangular crank and transmission shaft layout makes it short from front to back

# Semi-dry sump oil system reduces overall engine height

# The narrow pitch of the chrome composite plated aluminum cylinders helps reduce engine width

# Tuned to deliver smooth, responsive power in the low-to mid-rpm range for exceptional roll-on response – ideal in negotiating city traffic

# 180-degree crankshaft plus balancer shaft smoothes engine pulses

# Oil jets on the connecting rod big ends spray oil on the undersides of the pistons to aid cooling

# Muffler with 3-way catalyzer and bullettip opening is mounted below the engine to help lower the center of gravity and aid weight centralization
Liquid Cooling
# Keeps engine temperatures consistent for long engine life and sustained power during hard use

# Allows closer engine tolerances for more horsepower

# Coolant is routed through the engine cases reducing the number of external hoses
Digital Fuel Injection (DFI®)
# Utilizes 38mm Keihin throttle bodies with ECU controlled sub throttle valves for optimum performance and rideability

# Sub throttles, located behind the main throttle valves, give the DFI system a more precise throttle response, similar to a constant velocity carburetor

# Automatic fast idle system makes starting and warm-up easy

# Precise fuel injection and exhaust catalyzer significantly reduce emissions
Digital Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI) System
# Microprocessor controlled timing never requires adjustment and is ultra responsive to engine needs

# Spark plug mounted “stick” ignition coils are compact and help reduce weight
Six-Speed Transmission
# Cassette style transmission with the shafts and shift drum in a compact layout that is easily removed as a single unit from the case for easier maintenance
High Tensile Steel Trellis Frame
# Trellis frame is small and light and Narrow at the knees and feet for increased rider comfort and control

# Designed using 3-dimensional computer analysis to achieve the optimum stiffness balance for better handling
Single Shock Rear Suspension
# Aluminum gull-wing swingarm and offset, laydown single rear shock complement the frame design via an integrated line flowing from the steering head to the rear hub

# Short, compact frame and engine design allows the swingarm to be longer, which helps improve overall handling

# Showa shock has adjustable preload and rebound damping and uses a free piston and two-stage damping valves for smooth action during initial compression that becomes much firmer near the end of the stroke for a more planted feel
Long-Travel Fork
# 41mm Inverted fork with stiff springs combines the best of dual sport and sportbike-type suspensions, to deliver excellent performance over a wide range of conditions

# Tapered, relatively short outer tubes help provide the ideal stiffness balance to compliment chassis settings

# Fork height, preload and rebound damping can all be adjusted to fine-tune the suspension to specific conditions or riding styles
Petal Style Brake Discs
# Braking duties handled by dual 300mm front petal discs with two-piston calipers and a single 220mm rear petal disc with a single-piston caliper

# Same rotor design as found on the Ninja supersport machines, petal design rotors offer improved cooling and warp resistance
Six-spoke wheels
# Also found on the Ninja ZX™-6R and ZX-10R; the six-spoke design requires much less material between spokes so that the rim thickness is thinner and overall wheel weight is reduced
Comfortable Ergonomics
# Each part of the two-piece seat was designed with a different thickness and firmness of foam to optimize comfort for both rider and passenger

# Passenger seat and grab bars were designed to provide a natural seating position for added comfort

# Easy-to-read instrument panel has a large analog tachometer and digital readout for the speedometer, fuel gauge, odometer, dual trip meters and clock. White LED backlighting provides increased visibility at night
Adjustable Windscreen
# Three different settings, each 20mm apart, allows riders to set the windscreen height to suit their preferences

Thursday, May 21, 2009

kawasaki vulcan 500

the Kawasaki Vulcan 500 LTD is one beginner motorcycle that can hang with the big boys. It's rugged styling is outfitted with a decent amount of chrome bits to accent its already classic look.

The Vulcan 500 is powered is powered by a parallel twin, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled engine with a 498cc displacement. It is based on the ever popular and bulletproof Kawasaki Ninja 500 engine, so you know that the power delivery is going to be very new-rider friendly. It's also a very warm-blooded motorcycle, so even on those cold mornings you probably won't be reaching for the choke nearly as much as you would if you were riding a Suzuki GS500. Most smaller motorcycles really outshine the competition when taken to the twisties and this little Vulcan is no exception.

The long wheelbase of this motorcycle makes it handle really well at highway speeds, although it may be a little tight when performing slow speed maneuvers in a parking lot. The stock seat is actually fairly comfortable on this bike, but if you are going to be doing anything longer than 6 hours you may want to invest in a corbin after market seat. The passengers seat is also much more comfortable than your average sport bikes, keep in mind if you are going to be riding 2 up a lot, you will notice a definite decrease in power on hills and turns. It's not completely devastating, but noticeable enough to mention.

Because this motorcycle is a member of the prestigious Vulcan family, there are quite a few after market parts to add more style and power to it. Chrome engine guards and larger windshields are just a couple things you can do to class it up. Side saddles or added luggage are a must have that allow you to pick up things at the grocery store after a nice relaxing ride in the twisties . When all things are considered this motorcycle may not look like a beginner bike, but it's much easier to handle than some 120hp, 800lb hog.

2009 Kawasaki ER-6n

The ER-6n can be best described as a naked version of the revised-for’09 Ninja 650R, and they share a new steel-trellis frame. Kawi engineers used computer modeling to come up with a revised rigidity balance, allowing a measure of tuned flex for improved handling. The frame itself is said to be nearly as light as a comparable aluminum-alloy unit, and it boasts an upgraded finish over previous 650Rs. Both chassis also share an offset lay-down rear shock and a relatively long tubular-steel swingarm that offers extra rigidity to balance the frame’s extra flex.

You’ll also find commonality in the engine room, as both the Ninja and the ER use the compact 649cc parallel-Twin with 4 valves per cylinder actuated by double overhead cams. Both also share electronic fuel-injection systems with 38mm throttle bodies; sub-throttle valves mimic the smooth response of constant-velocity carburetors. Changes to this engine from the previous 650R consist only of a larger airbox and revised ECU mapping.

Although the ER is sure to find friends among pragmatic experienced riders, the bike has also been developed to please beginners. As such, it has such rider-friendly aids as an automatic fast-idle program to make simple cold-starts, adjustable clutch and brake levers to accommodate a variety of hand sizes, and a non-stressful upright riding position. The new frame is narrower at its midsection, allowing a slimmer seat for a shorter reach to the ground from the relatively low seat height of 30.9 inches. The ER’s transmission is also equipped with Kawi’s neutral-finder design that eases access to neutral when stopped.

Punch the starter button and the 649cc Twin blats out a tune familiar to anyone who’s heard a Ninja 650, as it has the same under-engine muffler and bullet-shaped exhaust tip. A light clutch pull eases commuter duties, and a responsive pull from the torquey engine keep you one step ahead of cage traffic. ZX-style mirrors are stalk-mounted on the handlebar to offer a clear view of the vehicles you just left behind.

The peak output from the twin-cylinder motor – 62.9 hp at 8800 rpm – might seem a bit mild, but the impression from the saddle is of a much more capable powerplant than those numbers indicate. Torque production is a hugely important factor in how grunty a motor feels, so consider that the ER’s 43.1 ft-lbs at 7200 rpm is slightly more than a ZX-6R puts out at its peak way up at 12,000 rpm. That’s thrust you can use during every run up through the gears, and it also results in surprisingly strong roll-on performance at highway speeds. The word “underpowered” never made an entry in our notebooks.

Cruising at speeds up to 80 mph is surprisingly comfortable for a naked bike, as a rider isn’t pummeled by overwhelming windblast. Credit the large headlight housing and faired instruments for deflecting wind, as well as the wide radiator shrouds which provide a wind break for legs and incorporate unobtrusive clear-lens turnsignals. Although the seat is narrow, it’s padded well enough for comfy one-hour stints.

As with any bike built on a budget, there are compromises made, and you’ll notice this on the ER mostly in the suspension and brakes.

The 6n is equipped with a conventional 41mm fork and a single rear shock that is directly mounted to the swingarm instead of using some sort of linkage. To accommodate lighter riders and to provide a cushy ride, the ER uses soft springs and damping settings. Heavy riders will want to bump up the shock’s spring preload - the only available suspension adjustment. Although aggressive riders would appreciate a stiffer front end, the fork provides decent wheel control and a smooth ride. As for the rear suspension, it works fine over most bumps, but it doesn’t have the fine control of a linkage-equipped shock. This shortcoming is most evident over repetitive highway bumps where the rear end can react harshly.

The ER eagerly devours a serpentine road with more speed than you might expect. The upright riding position gives a rider the feeling of dominance over the ER, allowing confidence to soar for riders of all experience levels. We challenge you not to smile! At the speeds possible on a super-curvy path like Malibu’s Latigo Canyon, the ER is able to keep pure sportbikes in sight, and I’ll bet that a newb would go quicker on the modest Kawi in this situation than he/she would on any literbike. A hint of abruptness during throttle reapplication is its only glitch.

Ground clearance at street speeds is quite generous, as a rider is able to feather the edges of the ER’s Dunlop Roadsmart tires that Pete recently reviewed. A sportbike-standard 120/70-17 leads the way, while a relatively narrow 160/60-17 puts the power to the ground. A short seat-to-peg distance is the byproduct of the beneficent ground clearance, constricting the legs of tall riders.

When it comes to details, the ER-6n is well equipped. Four tie-down points are thoughtfully provided under the tailsection, there is space available under the seat for a U-lock, and a bright LED taillight aids conspicuity. Passengers are welcomed by a decent perch with generous grab rails, while a pair of cable straps under the seat provides security for two helmets.

The ER’s instrumentation is a mixed bag. On the plus side, we appreciate having a clock, fuel gauge, and dual tripmeters on the multi-function LCD screen, and the white-faced analog speedometer at the top of the pod is easy enough to read. However, the bar-style digital tachometer is too small to be seen at a glance. A gear-position indicator would be a nice touch on a newbie-friendly bike like this.

In terms of style, the ER both impresses and depresses. Its Candy Plasma Blue color (with matching shock spring) really pops, and its new frame and swingarm have an improved level of finish that adds to the bike’s perceived quality. A nifty chin spoiler frames the dual header pipes snaking curvaceously in front of the engine. On the other hand, the ER’s distinctive proboscis looks a trifle odd, making us wonder why Kawi can’t seem to make cool noses for its bikes. That said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

After reading this far, our affection for the ER-6n should be obvious. Riding Kawi’s newest naked around made us think that no one really needs more motorcycle than this.

“Bikes like the ER-6n or Suzuki’s recently released Gladius make sense for a lot of riders,” commented Senior Editor Pete Brissette who rode the Gladius before the ER. “They have plenty of power, sporty handling and very livable ergos. How much more should we ask for?”

Yes, you should anticipate an upcoming duel between the ER and the Gladius. It’s worth noting that the Kawi’s $6,399 MSRP undercuts the Glad’s by $500. The fully faired Ninja 650R also competes for your dollars with a $6,799 retail price.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

honda chopper coming soon 2010

Just Announced! The 2010 Honda Fury production chopper. Custom styling with the reliability and backing of a Honda production motorcycle and a Nationwide Dealer Network. 1312cc fuel injected V-Twin. Revised arrival date of early May.

PD International Bike Fest