Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal – Coming off the final corner with the throttle wide open in fourth gear, you click the bike into fifth as you clear the rise onto the main straight. Part way down the one-kilometre straight with the throttle wide open, you steal a glance at the speedometer as you move into sixth gear – 230 km/h and accelerating hard. There isn’t another opportunity to check the speedometer as the bike rockets towards the downhill braking zone that precedes the fast-right-hand corner 1. Fifteen corners later, you find yourself back on the main straight ready to do it all over again, wondering how in the world life could get any better.
When KTM was looking for a venue to showcase the all-new 2020 1290 Super Duke R, they chose to bring motorcycle journalists from around the globe to the Algarve Circuit in Portimao, Portugal. Described by KTM Ambassador and MotoGP veteran Jeremy McWilliams as one of the most technically challenging tracks in Europe, the almost five-kilometre circuit offers everything you would want to throw at this motorcycle and a whole lot more. While the reality of owning a motorcycle in our country and the limited availability of racetracks means that the majority of Super Duke Rs sold in Canada may never get to spend time on the track, I can’t imagine a better way to experience the raw power and performance that KTM has built into this latest iteration of the Super Duke R, aptly referred to as the “Beast.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be adventure without a few unanticipated issues and in this case it was the absence of my gear bag when we touched down in Lisbon, Portugal that created the challenge of participating in the next day’s testing without any gear. Fortunately, the team from KTM managed to pull together enough spare gear so that by the time we were ready to head out onto the street portion of the test the next morning, I was outfitted from head to toe in KTM orange and ready to go.
Riding along the amazing roads of Portugal and eventually making our way to the incredible oceanside scenery, I was left to wonder how anyone gets anything done in this country, knowing that if I lived here, I would spend the entire day out riding motorcycles and drinking espresso by the sea.
With the morning ride over, it was time to head to the track where we would spend the entire afternoon putting in laps. Over six track sessions – including one on a fully race-prepped version complete with top-of-the-line WP Apex suspension, a full Akrapovic exhaust system and slick tires – the 1290 Super Duke R never failed to impress. Whether your intention would be to ride this bike at 120 km/h on the street or 250 km/h on the track, it’s updated chassis, torque-on-demand powerplant and highly effective, user-friendly electronics package combine to provide one of the most exciting naked sport bikes I have ever ridden.
With testing complete it was, of course, time for my gear bag to finally make an appearance, having spent the last 24 hours making the journey from Newark, NJ to Lisbon and onto the nearby Portimao airport. Oh well, better late than never – in this case just in time for me to drag it along on the 22-hour trip back home the following day. But seriously, this minor inconvenience could never overshadow the absolute thrill of being among the first to ride the all-new 2020 1290 Super Duke R and experience the thrilling adrenalin rush that is the Algarve International Circuit.
Stay tuned for our in-depth review of the 2020 1290 Super Duke R in an upcoming issue of Inside Motorcycles.
Sunday, 09 February 2020 19:34
CALGARY, AB - The 2020 Calgary Motorcycle Show runs Friday, January 10th through Sunday, January 12th at Stampede Park's BMO Centre. The show is a fantastic opportunity to see all the new 2020 motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and side-by-sides.
Monday, 06 January 2020 12:58
With winter weather blanketing the country, most of us are left to rely on memories of riding seasons past to keep the two-wheeled side of our brains occupied. Fortunately Inside Motorcycles contributor Lee Martin has offered up some footage from his Rally Connex library to help keep us entertained. Here in the final instalment of this four part video series, Lee and off-road guru Chris Birch take on the Ganaraska Forest. Enjoy and don't forget to check back for more entertaining videos and all the latest news from the world of motosports. - Ed.
Thursday, 05 December 2019 10:46
With winter weather blanketing the country, most of us are left to rely on memories of riding seasons past to keep the two-wheeled side of our brains occupied. Fortunately Inside Motorcycles contributor Lee Martin has offered up some footage from his Rally Connex library to help keep us entertained. Here in part three of this video series, Lee and off-road guru Chris Birch take on the Ganaraska Forest. Enjoy and don't forget to check back next week for part four. - Ed.
Tuesday, 26 November 2019 10:23
Outside of travelling in an airplane, very few of us will ever have the experience of hitting 200 mph, let alone accomplishing this feat within a quarter mile from a standing start. For Canadian Pro Street motorcycle drag racer Ethan Barkley, this milestone became a reality in August when he officially joined the “six-second club” running a series of quarter-mile passes in under seven-seconds, with a best time of 6.847 seconds at 206.99 mph, on his turbocharged Suzuki GSX-R1000 Pro Street drag bike. Anxious to find out what motivates Barkley and his plans to top an amazing 2019 season, Inside Motorcycles posed five questions to the 18-time Canadian Motorcycle Drag Racing Association champion.
Inside Motorcycles: What led you start drag racing motorcycles?
Ethan Barkley: Back in the mid ‘90s I was racing my car at the Friday Night Street Legal events at Race City Speedway. I was going pretty fast but then a Yamaha V-Max spanked me pretty good. It was at that point I started getting into bikes. There was no turning back as the speed for dollar spent ratio was night and day. Half the wheels…twice the fun!
IM: Of the 18 Canadian Motorcycle Drag Racing Association (CMDRA) championships that you have won, which one stands out in your memory and why?
EB: That’s a tough question but I’d have to say the 2011 season is one that sticks out. It was my last year racing for Suzuki Canada in two classes (Pro Street & Street) and wanted to go out on a high. That year I had a particularly good season in both classes with my Turbocharged GSX-R1000 Eleanor setting records and running deep into the 7s in Pro Street and my Hayabusa “Snow White” running consistent mid 9s in Street. Jumping from a heads-up bike to a bracket bike is no easy feat but I just loved to race and felt super comfortable on both bikes. I won my 11th and 12th Championships that season which elevated me to have achieved the most CMDRA titles in history. Believe it or not this was a goal I set for myself years before and I was thrilled to have done it in only my 9th full season with the CMDRA. It was at that point I decided to retire from the Street class and focus solely on Pro Street with Eleanor.
IM: You have been drag racing motorcycles for more than two decades, what is it about drag racing that keeps you engaged?
EB: It’s a few things. Firstly, I love the challenge of pushing the envelope of speed and acceleration. Feeling the g-force is pretty addictive. Secondly, I love the technical aspect of the Pro Street class, it’s an ideal mix of electronic and mechanical engineering at its finest. Lastly, I have met some amazing people throughout the world all thanks to racing.
IM: In addition to being the most successful motorcycle drag racer in Canada, you have raced in the UK and Australia, as well as the US where you recently became the first Canadian to run a quarter mile in the 6s on a Pro Street bike. How do tracks and racing in Canada compare to other parts of the world?
EB: Luckily, I’ve been able to race on some of the best tracks in the world which set a very high bar in terms of surface quality and grip. For example, when I race in the US spinning the tire moves down on the list of things to be concerned with which allows me to focus on how to go as quick as possible. This season I was able to drop nearly half a second off of my previous best pass in Canada in a matter of a dozen runs due to grip not really being a factor to worry about. Canada has a few really good track surfaces but with the lower vehicle counts and short season they’re just not able to provide the same amount of traction. The level of enthusiasm of racing in Canada is extra special in my opinion. Since we have such a short season, we truly appreciate summer weather and the opportunity to get on the track.
IM: What are your plans for 2020 and beyond?
EB: If you asked me this question last a couple of years ago I would have had a much different answer, but my success last season re-ignited my love of the sport. A big thanks goes out to TS Signs Printing & Promo who will be back on board as my title sponsor for 2020. Their support will allow me to acquire some new parts and put fuel in the transporter in order to compete throughout North America. My primary goal for 2020 is to be the first to run a 6 second E.T. as well as 200+ mph on a Pro Street Bike on Canadian soil. Secondly, I’ll shoot for a 19th CMDRA championship. South of the border I intend to compete at specific events in both the NHDRO Series based in Indianapolis and the XDA series which runs in Maryland and Virginia where I hope to run in the mid 6s at 210+ mph.
Thursday, 07 November 2019 17:59
The return of the Low Rider S moniker to the Harley-Davidson stable represents another step along the company’s ‘More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ initiative and the introduction of 100 new models during the decade ending 2027. A comprehensive review of this latest HD offering is scheduled for an upcoming issue of Inside Motorcycles, but we simply couldn’t wait to bring you these initial thoughts. – Ed.
San Diego, California may be known for its miles of beaches, warm weather and world-famous zoo, but all it takes is one ride on the roadways along nearby Palomar Mountain to leave you counting the days until you can return. Fortunately, an invitation from Harley-Davidson Canada to test out their all-new 2020 Low Rider S brought with it the chance to once again experience these roads, which are among some of the best in North America.
Walking across the street from our downtown hotel on the first morning of the trip, the assembled group of moto-journalists caught our first glimpse of the 2020 Low Rider S. As the 11th model in the brand’s re-imagined Softail lineup, certain similarities are obvious, but at the same time this new model also stands apart from the crowd.
With a seat height of just 673 mm (26.5 in) the Low Rider S is built close to the ground. A beefy inverted front fork, combines with raised handlebar and a mini speed screen to provide a front-end look that foreshadows the aggressive intentions of this new model. Blacked-out finishes offset by unique matte bronze wheels (19-inch front, 16-inch rear) round out the overall visual feel.
A look at the remaining specifications of the Low Rider S, confirms that this motorcycle has been designed with performance in mind, starting with the 1,868 cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin engine producing a claimed 119 ft-lb of torque that promises to propel the 308 kg (679 lb) Low Rider S with authority. A reduced rake of 28 degrees is incorporated to improve handling while dual front disc brakes and ABS provide stopping power.
A quick stretch of freeway heading out of downtown San Diego was the perfect place to experience the acceleration of the Low Rider S and it did not disappoint as I found myself thankful for the shape of the solo seat which prevents the rider from sliding off the back. While the mid controls place the rider in a position that may feel odd for riders who are used to forward controls, the overall comfort of the ‘Harley-esque’ ergonomics is all-day comfortable.
Moving into the seemingly endless series of corners that make this area a rider’s dream, the Low Rider S made it easy to pick up the pace as it responded willingly to inputs allowing itself to be easily maneuvered from side to side, then holding solidly on the selected line.
At the end of the day, back in San Diego, a ride along the ocean, provided the opportunity for that moment when you can’t help smile in your helmet. Based on the number of heads that turned to check out the Low Rider S as we rode by, this new model is destined to create a lot more smiles.
Tuesday, 05 November 2019 10:04
To many of us, motorcycle road racer Jonathan Finn is living the dream. Living in Europe and competing on racetracks that have played host to the best racers in the world, it can hard not to be a little envious. Add in the fact that he is only 16 years old and you may find yourself lamenting some of your early life choices. With an amazing resume, and an impressive trophy collection to match, Jonathan was a perfect candidate for the latest instalment of Inside Motorcycles' Five Questions.
Inside Motorcycles: Can you give us some background on your road racing career?
Jonathan Finn: Started my career in mini road racing with the Prairie Sport Riders Association (PSRA) in Regina and throughout Western Canada. That first year I was 6 years old and was dragging knee by the end of the season as well as earning the National CMA Youth Championship. Throughout my mini road racing career in Canada I competed in various Spec and Formula classes earning a total of 4 National CMA Championships. I was consistently on the podium so we looked outside our Canadian National series and travelled to California to compete and see if I could compete with riders in the US. That weekend I was able to podium in 4 out of the 5 races I raced in. It was at that point that I wanted to push myself and see how far I could go in my road racing career.
IM: What is the most important element of your race preparation?
JF: There are two very important things when I prepare for a race. First is physical fitness. I am always training to better my endurance. But usually about two weeks prior to a race weekend I increase my intensity as well as fine tune my diet. This allows me to be in optimum physical condition while cutting weight with my diet to be as competitive as possible. The second element is the mental preparation. I practice different techniques to keep focused for my regular training but also during the week leading up to a race weekend. I have also been working with a Sports Psychologist that specializes in motorsports. This has really helped me with my mental preparation.
IM: You have been racing in Europe for the several seasons. What are some of the main differences between racing in North America and Europe?
JF: 2019 is my fourth year racing in Europe. I first started racing MiniGP in Italy and transitioned to the Spanish National series a year later. This year is my third year in the Campeonato de España Cetelem de Superbike racing the Pre-Moto3 series. The three big differences racing in Europe are:
1) The atmosphere in the paddock. Motorcycles are a much more mainstream part of society so everyone has experience riding, that means there is a much larger fan base for two wheeled motorsports. The Campeonato de España Cetelem de Superbike (Spanish National Championship) is comparable to a Motogp paddock where each venue is free for spectators and spectators have full access throughout the paddock. It is very inviting to grow a fan base.
2) Aggressiveness of the riders. The Pre-Moto3 series is a stepping-stone to the Moto3 Junior World Championship, so everyone on the grid is out to prove themselves to make opportunity to further their careers. Because of that, there’s bumping and elbows just like you see on a feisty Moto3 race on television. Its just part of how we race over here.
3) Overall Professionalism. The paddock like I mentioned before is comparable to the MotoGP paddock. The Campeonato de España Cetelem de Superbike (Spanish National Championship) is a stepping stone to the Junior World Championship and ultimately the MotoGP and WSBK championships. Because of this, everyone from the race director, race stewards, to the corner workers are very professional and expect the same from every team and competitor.
IM: What are your plans for the 2020 season and beyond?
JF: Right now, my plans for the 2020 season are still being considered. Ideally I would like to graduate to the Moto3 Junior World Championship. I am confident in my ability but securing the right financial backing to support that commitment is proving difficult to find. Stay tuned!
IM: What advice can you provide to aspiring motorcycle road racers?
JF: The advice I would give to an aspiring road racer is to follow your dreams. It’s a rewarding but very hard career path. Expect that sacrifices have to be made to create opportunity. Those sacrifices are a) financial, this sport is costly and without financial support the level you can attain will be limited. b) family, for the last five years, I've lived away from my family, my dad has had to work abroad to help support my racing program. c) personal, I'm 16 years old, I am enrolled in an online high school that allows flexibility so that I can complete high school and still train and race. I don't have many friends outside the paddock. These are just a few examples of the sacrifices that have been made for me to pursue my career dreams and aspiring road racers need to fully understand the level of commitment and sacrifice so that you make the most of the opportunity.
Monday, 28 October 2019 17:47
For nearly 50 years, the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council (MMIC) has been representing the interests of participants in the Canadian motorcycle industry including manufacturers, retailers and riders. Looking to gain some additional insight into the organization and latest trends in the industry, Inside Motorcycles reached out to MMIC Director of Communications and motorcycle enthusiast extraordinaire David Grummett, who eagerly agreed to participate in our Five Questions series.
Inside Motorcycles: According to the MMIC website, the organization was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit association. What is the mission of MMIC and what are some of the major initiatives that are undertaken during the year to support this mission?
David Grummett: MMIC is involved in so many things on a daily basis. In a typical day we can be helping provincially with off-road federations to fight for land access on the eastern side of the Rockies, working with the government in Nova Scotia to rewrite their Highway Traffic Act, consulting with Quebec on new scooter legislation and working with regulators in Ontario to stay on top of insurance rates and get access to HOV lanes. Nationally we work with Transport Canada to ensure autonomous vehicles can see motorcycles. We also work with Environment Canada and Health Canada to ensure there are no surprises that would limit sales in Canada.
Our Powersport Show Services (PSS) group works year round to produce the motorcycle shows and determine the best ways to reach out to both existing and new riders.
A new initiative from our member companies is to take a more active role to grow the sport. We are really excited to receive this mandate and to communicate all that is exciting about the motorcycle lifestyle.
IM: Prior to assuming your current role as the MMIC Director of Communications, what other roles/positions did you hold in the motosport industry and how did they help prepare you for your work with MMIC?
DG: My first role in the industry was as a consumer. I motocrossed, was a street squid, toured North America and roadraced. I went through post-secondary studies in environmental science and really had no intention of working in the motorcycle industry. Fate somehow led me to partnering with Bruce Parker to open a retail store in Toronto. That phase lasted 22 years. After consistency for 2 decades I moved from the Executive Director of the Ontario Federation of Trail Riders to Western Sales Manager for Suzuki to Western Sales Manager for Piaggio and finally to MMIC/COHV/PSS as Director of Communications. I also taught the FAST School for almost 20 years and I currently teach the M2 course as a CSC Certified Instructor.
The really cool thing about my past is that I had the opportunity to walk in all of the shoes in the industry. Consumer, racer, retailer, teacher, wholesaler and association manager. I have covered over 100,000 km on the street plus raced motocross, enduro, supermoto and road circuits. I’ve played on flat track and speedway bikes but somehow never raced them. Throughout my career I’ve always prided myself on my ability to communicate and build relationships. All of this allows me to see the whole picture of motorsports in Canada and thrive in my DoC role.
IM: What are some of the main trends that you have observed in the Canadian motosports industry during the last decade and how to do you see these same trends continuing into the next decade?
DG: Many things have changed in motorsports over my career span but the reason to ride has stayed the same. The younger generation will thrive on the speed and adrenaline. The older you get the more you enjoy the freedom that comes with motorcycling. It provides isolation from the stresses of the world when your helmet is on and it provides a social experience at stops along the way. It’s also really cool and can make you a badass amongst your peer group.
Unlike the constants like the reasons to ride, technology is constantly changing. Some advances make bikes more powerful, lighter and more agile. More importantly bikes are becoming safer to ride. ABS, cornering ABS, traction control, wheelie control, rear wheel lift mitigation are already in play. The next wave will see vehicle connectivity and autonomy. If this technology can minimize or eliminate the dreaded left hand turn collision, it will be a great time in motorcycling.
IM: The creation of new riders is a frequent topic of discussion among OEMs. Where to you see the next generation of riders coming from and what role will the MMIC play in this process?
DG: As noted above the OEM members of MMIC have tasked us with growing the sport. Coincidentally MMIC’s counterparts south of the border and across the pond in England have been given the same task. Baby boomers that got started because of Easy Rider, The Wild Ones or On Any Sunday are aging out. We need new bums on seats. I think most new riders will come from people close to existing riders. Neighbours that drool with envy as you ride away while they push their lawn mower. Friends, co-workers or teammates are logical sources. Sons & daughters or grandsons and granddaughters of riders will be the basis of the next generation. Motorcyclists are doctors, lawyers, plumbers, school kids and all walks of life. Our new riders will be just as varied.
Motorcycles have a built in magnetism. Kids riding by on bicycles or in the next car at a stop will give the thumbs up or say “cool bike man”! I think a lot of people are affected by this magnetic attraction. Too many people are bored or don’t have good friends. Motorcycling is the “RX”!
The big question is how do we help them take the first step. How do we get them to say “What the heck, I just signed up for the motorcycle course and I’m buying a bike”? We as an industry need to expand our sights. We aren’t in competition with each other. We are in competition with video games, boating, RVing, trips to an all-inclusive and with BestBuy and their big screen TVs. It’s not just the bike, it’s the lifestyle that comes with it. As the old saying goes “there are no motorcycle parked at a psychiatrists office”.
MMIC will strive to become a hub of information for new riders. We are developing a new website called “gomotorcycling.ca”. We will work with our show division to reach out to a new demographic and cross promote and target other similar activities. In the end it will be many hands that make small work. Social media will allow the industry, the media, the shows and the riders themselves to create the next generation of riders.
IM: Of all the motorcycles that have called your garage home over the years, which is your favourite and why?
DG: I just did a rough count of 34 motorcycles that have resided in my garage. I loved most of them. Some I had a love, hate relationship with. The RZ350 that I won the Canadian Yamaha Cup Championship in 1988 was very special. It allowed me to compete on the world stage against riders from 15 other countries at the Brands Hatch circuit in England. That said, it got Maid of Honour. My absolute favourite was my 1990 Yamaha TZ250. 30 years ago it cost over $18,000 but man it was worth every penny. 80 some horsepower and just over 200 pounds made it so much fun to ride. My first lapping session I thought, oh no its so small, I don’t fit (5’8”, 150 lbs). My second lapping session I was pulling crossed up wheelies while leaned over and screaming in my helmet “I’m Kevin Schwantzzzz”! In 90 I won Eastern Canada Pro Formula 1 & 2 class championships plus I finished second in the national championship to the original squid kid, Steve Crevier. I wished I had kept those two bikes the most. I currently ride a Honda Africa Twin DCT and it is my new favourite.
Friday, 18 October 2019 11:58
Multiple news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and Reuters are reporting that Harley-Davidson has halted production of the electric-powered LiveWire motorcycle pending resolution of issues relating the charging system. Harley-Davidson has not released any details at this time.
The stoppage of production on the key LiveWire model comes at a difficult time for the Milwaukee-based manufacturer following the release of downgraded production forecasts in July for the current fiscal year. Targetted at non-traditional Harley-Davidson owners, the LiveWire is a key component of the company's More Roads to Harley-Davidson initiative, which includes the planned introduction of multiple electric vehicles.
Harley-Davidson is scheduled to release its third quarter financial results on October 22, 2019.
Tuesday, 15 October 2019 17:22
Mark October 23, 2019 on your calendar. Based on the series of teaser videos that Kawasaki has unveiled over the last three weeks, this is the date when the latest model to feature the brand’s supercharged engine technology will be unveiled. While details are currently limited to silhouettes and quick glimpses of still shots, it is clear from these teaser videos that an all-new supercharged model will be added to Kawasaki’s naked-style Z lineup.
The introduction of the supercharged street-legal H2 and track-only H2R in 2015, brought a mass-produced supercharged motorcycle to Kawasaki showroom floors. Following this release, Kawasaki expanded the use of superchargers in their lineup with the addition of the sport touring H2 SX and upgraded H2 SX SE in 2018. While these last two models used a re-tuned version of the H2’s 998 cc inline liquid-cooled four-cylinder engine, no specific details as to engine or other specifications have been provided for the latest supercharged offering from Kawasaki.
The most recent video teasing the impending release of the all-new Z H2 can be viewed by clicking here or on the image above. You can also view the previous videos promoting the impending release of the Z H2 by clicking here for the first video in the series and here for the second.
Stay tuned for more details of Kawasaki’s latest supercharged motorcycle.
Monday, 14 October 2019 19:49