Automatic transmission in a motorcycle? Sounds silly I know but for some people out there this is a very good option to have. Not everyone wants to constantly worry about shifting your bike while out for a relaxing joy ride and that is where the Honda VFR1200F comes in.

Honda VFR1200F Automatic Transmission

A motorcycle with an automatic transmission

Most people are quick to assume any motorcycle with an automatic transmission is a scooter/moped or that the rider isn’t serious. Obviously the bike above disproves that claim because not only does it have all the qualities of a nice looking sport bike, it packs a powerful 1237CC engine.

To those interested in this bike but not necessarily sold on the automatic transmission, it is good to know that you are given options while riding. You are free to shift normally, use the paddle shifters, or put the bike into automatic and have it shift for you. I myself enjoy shifting but even I think this would be a nice feature to fall back on during those times you are tired or just want to cruise.

As usual though these bikes don’t come cheap, with a base price of $16,000 for the 2010 model and no price yet determined for the 2012 version, you can safely say that this automatic transmission motorcycle is for serious buyers only. I think I will stick to the manual transmissions and more sensibly priced bikes.

Takeoff Technique: Motorcycle Stopped On A Hill

Posted: 22nd July 2011 by ssutherland in General
Whether you are a new rider or a seasoned pro, getting stopped on a steep incline is never really a position any motorcyclist enjoys.  For those new to riding bikes, this experience can be a very frightening. A handful of thoughts race through your mind when sitting there waiting, “What if I lay my expensive bike over?”, “What if I take off too slow and kill my bike and the cars behind me hit me?”, “What if I take off too FAST and I pop the front up and flip the bike?”

These thoughts are perfectly acceptable because the sad truth is any number of these things could happen if you aren’t mentally and physically prepared to handle an uphill takeoff. Knowing the proper method of taking off from an uphill stop will be one of the rider’s most crucial skills.

Now while some hills will be steeper than others with varying degrees of quality, the following techniques are still useful and can be applied to any hill-stop situation.

  • So first things first, when you are coming to your stop on the hill you will want to ensure that you have got the clutch fully depressed and you are not opening the throttle at all. Seems obvious but you would be surprised out how badly things can turn out if you aren’t careful about this.
  • Another obvious step is to make sure that you maintain a good squeeze on the brakes. Again, simple enough but it is important to know the best way to do this.  Since your left hand will be occupied with the clutch and your right will be dealing with the throttle it is best/easiest to make use of the rear brake with your right foot.  This will allow you to get a nice plant with your left foot and lean the weight to your left side. (In the instance that planting your left foot is not an option, you may have to use the hand brake so it will take more skill to keep your hand on the throttle and at least a few fingers on the brake.)
  • Once you are ready to take off you will do as you have likely always done: slowly release the clutch and start using the the throttle when you feel the bike inching forward. The key here though is to keep that right foot on the brake until you feel some resistance. This will let you know that the bike is ready to move forward so you don’t accidentally roll backwards or throttle too much to overcompensate.

Remember to always keep calm in this type of situation. If it takes you a second to take off don’t worry about the people behind you, they can be patient. After enough practice and experience taking off from an uphill will no longer be an issue.

Have a special “technique” that you use when stopped on a super steep incline? I would love to hear from you about how you handle the situation!
Happy riding!

 

The Importance of Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet

Posted: 3rd July 2011 by Shannon in General

How important is it to wear a motorcycle helmet? Well to me (and many others) who take the dangers of riding a motorcycle very seriously it is absolutely crucial that you wear one.

No matter what you drive, how fast you drive, or how far you drive you should always wear a helmet that meets safety regulations.
Here is a rather ironic story that I think those who question wearing a helmet will perhaps find enlightening:

Man Dies During Helmet Protest

Now while I am against laws that require helmets, as I feel it is the riders choice whether he or she wants to wear one, I still believe they are important and I encourage everyone out there to wear one and drive safely!

Best Sport Bike Brand?

Posted: 1st July 2011 by Shannon in Reviews

I often hear people talk about sport bikes and which company makes the best line of them. With each of the major players offering very nice products how can you truly tell the difference on who is producing the best brand of sport bike? Let’s break it down:

Honda

Honda motorcycles have always been a very stable and reliable choice as the production quality is top notch. They are usually a little cheaper than some other makes of sport bike and they have better resale value than most motorcycles which can be a very nice bonus as motorcycles lose value fairly rapidly. Honda sport bikes are definitely nice too look at as well, sporting some very aggressive style especially in the CBR production line. One drawback is the fact that while generally cheaper to begin with, spare parts for a Honda motorcycle can be rather pricey.

Yamaha

When it comes to the latest advances in technology and always pushing the envelope look no further than Yamaha. While this make of motorcycle may not be as high ranking in the quality as it’s Honda competitor it is definitely not far behind.  What it lacks with a slight lag in fuel economy compared to others, it more than makes up for with wonderful styling, impressive technology, and some of the fastest open class sport bikes available. Take the R1 for example, it weighs less than a 600cc did a few years back and is completely track worthy. Yamaha’s downside: Typically the most expensive of the bunch.

Suzuki

Suzuki for many is the first brand they think of when talking about motorcycles. This is primarily thanks to the extremely popular GSXR series.  Suzuki has created a sport bike that looks amazing, has plenty of power and technology behind it, and yet still affordable for almost any rider.  On the opposite end of the spectrum you have the Hayabusa which is one heck of a machine when talking about some serious power.  However, many people (including myself) are not into that bigger body super sport so this type of motorcycle is just not an option.  While Suzuki bikes are definitely great, they aren’t always for those looking for something more original.

Kawasaki

Kawasaki motorcycles tend to have a love it or hate it attitude towards them.  Riders either truly like the style and new ideas put forth by Kawasaki or they find them to be completely off putting.  One thing is for sure, Kawasaki is always one to think outside of the box. From bright green color schemes to completely beefed up naked bikes, Kawasaki is not afraid to get out there.  Because of these factors sometimes people refer to Kawasaki motorcycles as being a “younger” person’s bike as they are the demographic more likely to be looking for something powerful and edgy.

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Something important to remember though is the fact that these very minor differences will almost never even be noticed by majority of riders. Unless you are a completely hardened sport bike enthusiast with tons of riding experience, you will likely just want something cool and fun to drive.

Whatever you are into as long as you enjoy it that’s all that matters!

What is a Dry Clutch?

Posted: 30th June 2011 by Shannon in General

Or perhaps more specifically what is a dry clutch in a Ducati motorcycle?

If you know anything about Ducati motorcycles you will know that they utilize what is known as a dry clutch. To understand what a dry clutch is you first have to understand the basics of a clutch in general (found Here) and what a wet clutch is.

Wet Clutch

A wet clutch, as the name implies, is a clutch that uses oil to lubricate the spinning plates to keep them from hammering all over each other; this clutch is also contained inside of the engine casing for noise reduction/oil feeding. This type of clutch is in almost every type of motorcycle except for a few (namely Ducatis).

There is a reason so many bikes use a wet clutch and that is because they are typically the best choice for the average consumer/bike rider. The advantages of a wet clutch include:

  • Less wear and tear on the clutch system
  • Higher tolerance of clutch slippage during take offs
  • Generally cheaper
  • Smoother
  • Extremely quiet thanks to the oil and engine casing

That last point is a major one to many people. When compared to a dry clutch, this thing is ninja silent. The average rider will not want to hear the sounds a dry clutch makes as it sounds very similar to your average “my vehicle needs to go to the shop” sounds.  While this is all good and well, a wet clutch is not without it’s disadvantages, namely:

  • Requires special oil
  • Clutch debris gets mixed in with the engine oil
  • Oil creates a slight lag which decreases horsepower a little

These disadvantages aren’t too bad though, because most riders will simply want to ride their sport bikes and not even notice these slight losses when using a wet clutch.

Dry Clutch


Onto the dry clutch. Simply put dry clutches are made for the sport enthusiasts. Typically only found in Ducati motorcycles and other race purpose bikes, the dry clutch is definitely something to understand and learn how to use.  Coming off of a wet clutch, riders will definitely notice the difference in take off and the general twitchy-ness of a motorcycle with a dry clutch.  This is because dry clutches sit outside of the engine casing and are detached from the oil bath, making them quick to catch the plates for quicker response times.

Here are some advantages of dry clutches:

  • No oil allows for the plates to come together quickly
  • Generally easier to replace
  • Gives maximum response time and more power to the back wheel

Disadvantages:

  • Wears down quicker
  • Requires greater understanding (not new rider friendly)
  • Noisy (sounds like engine trouble!)

Just like before, that last point is one of the finer points of a dry clutch.  To those who have no idea what one is, when they hear it they will instantly think, “Wow that guy’s motorcycle needs some work”. But to those that DO understand them, the sound is actually quite… elegant?  The simple release of power that comes with a dry clutch more than makes up for it’s idle sounds.

Here is a little video demonstrating a dry clutch so you can better understand:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsnNgU8pKoc&feature=related]

While the video doesn’t exactly show you the inner workings of a dry clutch, it does give you an idea of how they sit on the outside (no engine casing) and how loud they can be!

Have a great one!