LATEST TEST AND FEATURES...

* The most recent bike tests and features are listed below.

Seat of the pants stuff

The science of sitting comfortably is harder than it looks

For a manufacturer, technical challenges aren't all cutting-edge electronics and active suspension. And it's easy to dismiss cruisers like Triumph's new Thunderbird Commander and Horizon LT as low-tech and simple to design. But they have their own challenges like, for example, making a comfy seat. It sounds easy: make it comfy. But there's more to it than that....

In the overlap of the gods

Making one engine fit many roles is all about getting the timing right...

What’s the similarity between Ducati’s 2009 1198 superbike, the Multistrada, Diavel and new 1200 Monster? Yes, they share versions of the 1198cc Testastretta engine. The versatile V-twin has gone from sportsbike to adventure bike to power cruiser to naked in just five years.

You’d think their disparate riding dynamics couldn’t be achieved with the same engine. So how does the 1198 Testastretta fit such different roles?....

Tough Torque

KTM’s 1290: why they call it PR ‘spin’

KTM test rider and ex-500cc GP racer Jeremy McWilliams says the new 1290 Super Duke is the torquiest bike he’s ridden. KTM claim it makes more at 2000rpm than the 990 Super Duke at peak (70 lb.ft). That’s a lot of big torque talk.

Torque is often wrongly thought of as a measure of engine performance at low rpm. Big V-twins have ‘lots of low-down torque’, and inline four sportsbikes ‘lots of top-end power’, as if the two are discrete and opposite. They are different, but not opposites...

Compounding: The Problem

Ever wondered why your rear tyre wears down in the middle but not at the sides? It’s safer that way...

At first glance there’s nothing in common between touring on a Triumph Tiger 800 XC and a 250bhp MotoGP prototype. But there is.

I recently had a 3000-mile ride on a Tiger. Its Bridgestone Battlewings were 4000 miles-old at the start and, as you’d expect, the rear squared-off as the ride went on. 7000 miles isn’t a bad total, and the bike maintained its steering and stability. But eventually it shimmied a bit over white-lines as it rolled across its squared-off centre. And with plenty of tread left on the edges, it seemed a waste of rubber to chuck it away.

So why don’t manufacturers make rear tyres harder in the middle where they wear the most?...

Fuelling about with maps

Selecting a power mode on your bike? The future’s already been mapped out. Literally.

Fitting a litre sportsbike with a castrating low power engine mode sounds like a bad idea, even if you call it ‘Rain’ mode. And few electronic aids are as contentious because engine modes are, technically, voluntary restrictions. Each is, broadly speaking, an overlay of instructions directing the ECU to manipulate and reduce engine performance.

But what actually happens when you push that button...?

Moto Guzzi V7 Stone Review

Moto Guzzi V7 1

If ever a company has been through rough times, then surely Moto Guzzi has to be a contender for the role of ultimate survivor. In spite of so many obstacles over the years it is still churning out bikes and is today’s oldest brand of European motorcycle manufacturer with continuous production. A legacy of bad management, circumstance and I have no doubt also bad luck, has seen it diminish in size from its heyday down to a true minority player. In 2004 it was taken over...

Playing the frame game

Frames have got uglier and cheaper, but they’re straighter than ever. Suspension, on the other hand...

Last week’s Techwatch talked about how current production engines have close tolerances and matched components, and how automated mass-production reduces variability. If a modern engine makes 100bhp today, in 12 months’ time it’s likely the same model will also make 100bhp (although early BMW S1000RRs were an exception – bikes varied by up to 15bhp, and no-one knows why....

Putting up with intolerance

Sometimes the worse something fits, the better it works...

It’s long been a biking myth that in Japanese engine assembly plants, female workers are preferred to males for some jobs on the production line because they have smaller hands and greater dexterity. Having spent time at Suzuki’s vast Takatsuka Engine Plant in Hamamatsu, I can safely put that one to rest; it’s not true. They have plenty of both on the production lines.

But while I was there I saw something else intriguing:...

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