Rides, Rallies and Events Recap


Sometimes, things just stand out in a crowd. There seems to always be that one motorcycle at a bike night or motorcycle run that just seems to have “it.” It could be a flashy paint job, a monster engine, flashy wheels, or a combination of any or all of the above. Rarely is it a stock motorcycle though, because that stand-out ride usually is a full-on custom or someone’s dream bike that they have built. Well, when I showed up to Rt. 66 Ridley in Carthage, Missouri for a test ride, I was very surprised at what exactly was waiting for me. Sitting up next to the wall outside, against a blue background, was a gorgeous motorcycle. One that said, “Look at me, I am one of a kind.” The pearl and teal paint shone in the sunlight, the flash of chrome, and the fine lines stood out in my mind right off the bat. I thought to myself, this can’t be a stock bike; its detail is way too high for a stock bike. Boy, was I wrong on that one.

Derek came out and said hi, shook my hand, and in his laid back way, thanked me for coming out. We went over some of the specifications I had questions about, and I looked the bike over. When I say Ridley puts attention to detail into their motorcycles, I am making the understatement of the year. The lines on this bike, the fit and finish, the quality of components…all are standout, and outstanding. First thing you notice about this bike is the level of components that are used. From the braided stainless steel lines for the brakes and throttle to the polished brake rotors, there are all kind of goodies used on this bike. I will go over more of the details of what is used on this bike in the ride details.

We hopped on the bikes, (he has a Classic also), set the choke, pulled in the brake, and fired off the bikes. The motors came to life, with mine being quite a bit more subdued in sound due to the stock 80DB pipes on the bike. Actually, as I have gotten older, I have gotten to where I appreciate the lack of noise constantly berating my eardrums. The exhaust has a great standout feature that you would not normally see on a stock motorcycle--ceramic coating. While not flashy like chrome, its redeeming quality makes it far more desirable to me than the fancy chrome in most cases. Tough, durable, and corrosion resistant, it makes for a lot less time taking care of something that can dull and require a lot of cleaning just because of where it is located. Derek went over some details with me to bring to my attention how different it would feel to ride an “automatic and shiftless” motorcycle, since I was used to riding my big Twin. “You will use your brakes just a bit more, because you won’t downshift. It takes some people a little time to get used to it, but most catch on quick,” Derek said. So after a little warm-up, off we went.

The bikes ergonomics are very good. Reach to the bars and controls were very comfortable. I was torn between wanting the high/low beam and the horn buttons switched out in where they were located, but for safety’s sake, they are actually probably better off where they are. The throttle was effortless, and very smooth. The floorboards had lots of room, but on the left side, the casing does rub your boot. Derek had told me that tall people usually ride with their foot in front of that case, and short people ride with it towards the back. Being six feet tall, I did end up riding with my feet more forward on the bike, and it seemed it wasn’t an issue as much as I thought it would be. The reach to the brake pedal was fine, and you could tell that the ball bearings inside the pedal housing led to a lot smoother feel on the pedal. The amount of rubber to put your feet against also gave more confidence to your braking. Braking is handled by four piston calipers front and rear, made exclusively for Ridley. A little heavier than your standard calipers of the same size, they are made that way because you will tend to slow down your bike with your brakes instead of engine braking. The front brake, as well as the back brake, works well with this bike, slowing the bike down with ease, and hauling you down to a stop with little effort.

At idle at the stop signs, the bike vibrated just enough to give you the feel you expect; a little more noticeable than a Honda, but a lot less noticeable than a Harley. To me, it was just right. When you pulled away and got up to highway speeds, the stock mirrors showed no vibrations and were very easy to see out of, another safety factor I like. The digital dash was easy to read in the sunlight, and had all the things you need to see. I would have liked bigger turn signal indicators, but that is just personal preference. Speaking of safety, this bike is adorned with great lighting, and LED turn signals front and back allow the cars around you to see what you are planning. They also have a self canceling feature, so that gets an A+. A real cool retro styled tombstone taillight out back leaves an uncluttered look to the rear of the bike. The wires for the turn signals are more or less hidden for a clean look.

The stock seat was a little hard on the tailbone, but to give it a break, it had not been broken in. It may give a little after a bit, but I would probably do the upgrade on the seat. I sat on Derek’s, and he had the touring version. Very nice, comfortable, and supportive in all the right spots, it is one that I would spring the small amount of green backs for.
The 40 degree rake in the neck, with a 3 degree offset in the trees gave the bike a wonderful ride. This bike invokes confidence in a lot of riders, from large to small. The adjustable Progressive suspension is top of the line, and handled all that I could give it. I am a big boy, (my wife reminds me of this all the time, too bad I have never met Jenny Craig) and I can test a suspension. The front tracked well, and the rear soaked up everything out there, and was very smooth going over a couple of rough railroad crossings out in the scenic area we rode in. The low seat height made for planting your feet easy, and came in at just over 24 inches. The dry weight on this bike is listed at 450 pounds, but it never felt that heavy. The 66 inch wheelbase led to a lot of the stability the bike had. It came shod with Metzler 880s front and rear, on 60 spoke, 16 inch wheels. Very nice touch if you ask me.

Riding down the road, it didn’t take long to get used to the auto-glide, shiftless transmission. I was a little worried at first when I heard the belt disengage, but got used to it. It wasn’t real loud, but I heard it, and until I figured out that it was one of the noises you hear, I was a little worried. Like I said though, after I knew I was supposed to be hearing it, it didn’t bother me. The bike responded real well to throttle input, and was very comfortable with highway speeds around 55-60 MPH. I can’t give you an interstate feel for this bike, because I didn’t take it for a ride down the super slab. With the proper tweaking on the throttle and finding its sweet spot, it shouldn’t be a problem at all to ride it at interstate speeds. The carb is more than enough for the engine, and leaves room for performance upgrades. A windshield may also help with any buffeting or streamlining, but the bike I test rode was not equipped with one, so I can’t tell you just what it would do. It didn’t take very long to get used to the automatic feature of this bike. I would love to have had one down in Florida with me when I was there in the stop and go traffic a few weeks ago. Not having to hold the clutch in was great at the stop signs, and like I said before, the bike pulled away with authority from a stop. I give the Mikuni 36MM Flatslide carb a lot of credit for that. The 90 degree V-Twin has plenty of power for its 750 CC of size.

When I got back to the shop from my ride, I set another feature of this bike that is safety minded. The parking brake. Easy to use, great piece of mind for parking on a hill. With a little practice, it is easy to engage and disengage. The kickstand on this bike is set a little farther back than I would like, but it is easy to find also.

Talking to Derek, I asked him about maintaining the bike. Maintaince is easy, with a drain plug on the front for changing the oil, a common spin on oil filter that is common on a lot of American made brands, and the K and N oil filter within easy reach. More mind easing features if you ask me. Another cool feature is the standard battery tender, with a plug in already installed right under the seat and easy to get to. I like that. I have never run across a bike with that already on it, and it makes it great for those long winter weeks when you might not get to ride because of the weather.

To summarize my ride, I would have to say I was way more impressed with this bike than a lot of bikes I have ridden. Ridley targets a certain audience, but to be honest, the bike will fit a larger segment of riders than most would know. Getting someone to just try it, may be the key to breaking down that barrier of “old school” thinking. I have to admit, I would not mind having one of these bikes myself. It would fit my wife just perfect, and the shiftless riding is wonderful. The bikes are priced high, and the test bike was outfitted with optional paint and matching frame and white wall tires. Its suggested retail was $19,425. Now that being said, I think the bike’s price is well within reason by looking at what you get exactly. The fit and finish of this bike should be looked at by other manufactures, for it really stands out. The level of components that I have mentioned deserves merit also. And then on top of that, there is the exclusitivity factor of owning one. Ridley really believes in the way they build them, for they back it up with a 2 year warranty. That also says something right there. So all and all a wonderful bike, that reaches its target audience right on the money. I really wish I didn’t have to park it; I could have had more fun and easy riding than I could ever hope for. Thanks again Derek, you showed once again why you are one of the best dealers to deal with in the Midwest.

2008 Ridley Auto-Glide Classic:
Suggested retail price as tested: $19,425
Standard features noted on test bike that stood out:

60 spoke laced wheels front/back with polished brake rotors
4-piston brake calipers, front/back
Metzler 880 tires
Tubular swingarm with adjustable Progressive suspension
K & N filter
Digital dash
Braided SS throttle and brake lines
Screw in gas caps with paint saver features
Chrome switch housings
Ceramic coated dual exhaust

Optional features:

Premium paint and matching frame
Whitewall tires

For a complete list of the factory specifications, log on to http://ridleymotorcycles.com/0eight/Ridley_8W-specifications.htm.

Review by Jim Austin

Photos by Paul 'Luc Chokota with Reflections by Paul Photography

Since the beginning of the year I was eager to see what the motorcycle manufactures were producing in 2007 in order to remain in the top ten. I was also interested in finding out what bike would receive the bragging rights as Cycle World's 2007 Bike of the Year, which was awarded to the 2007 Suzuki Boulevard M109R.

When Bart Shifflett and Chris Thacker of Donnell’s Suzuki in Independence, Missouri called and asked me to stop by the shop and take a look at the latest Limited Edition (LE) model they had just received, I was soon on my way to see what all of the hype was about. While on my way there, I had a strong suspicion it may be time to do a bike review on Suzuki's new flagship M109R.

When I arrived at the dealership the LE was just coming out of the box and I was glowing as soon as I saw that beautiful metallic blue with white stripe. This brought back so many memories to the year 1985 when I was riding a blue and white Suzuki GS 1150E. I guess I have always been partial to that color, and figured if this new LE model was anything like the 2006 Suzuki Boulevard M109R I did a bike review on back in 2006, I may soon have this bike in my garage, which as it turns out, was the case!

The power plant of the Boulevard M109R is an all new 109-cubic-inch, liquid-cooled, 54-degree, V-twin power plant with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and seamless Suzuki electronic fuel injection with digital ignition.
This is an engine that was designed to produce high torque from the moment it leaves idle all the way until the rev limiter is engaged. The Boulevard M109R is the most powerful cruiser Suzuki has ever produced according to Suzuki Heavy Industries. The Boulevard M109R starts with a massive 112mm bore and a 90.5mm stroke featuring forged aluminum alloy pistons with short skirts and cut-away sides mated to chrome-molly-steel connecting rods, just like those found on the GSX-R1000. Piston rings are finished with race-proven chrome-nitride plating for reduced friction and optimum cylinder sealing. The massive, 112mm bore makes room for two 42mm intake valves and two 38mm exhaust valves set at an narrow 27-degree included angle in an efficient dual-spark plug, pent-roof combustion chamber design with a 10.5:1 compression ratio.

The M109R utilizes a unique, two-stage chain-driven cam-drive system based on the high-performance gear-driven system used on the TL1000R. This design keeps the cylinder heads more compact, reducing overall engine height and lowering the center of gravity. The cylinders are positioned in a 54-degree V angle to accommodate straighter downdraft intake ports and crankpins are offset to produce the perfect primary balance of a 90-degree V-twin while still maintaining the aggressive look of a narrow-angle V engine.

The motor is also rubber-mounted in six positions for minimal engine vibration.
Feeding the amazing 109-cubic-inch motor is a purpose-built version of the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) fuel injection system perfected on the high-performance GSX-R line of sport bikes. The SDTV system uses a computer-operated secondary throttle valve in each throttle body to maintain ideal intake velocity and smooth throttle response in any condition. The M109R features a pair of single-injector 56mm throttle bodies with controlled by a powerful 32-bit CPU equipped ECM. The entire SDTV system works in conjunction with a three-piece air box with dual intakes and a massive 9.5 liters of internal volume. So when you twist the throttle I think your mind doesn’t even work that fast to compensate the change.

An innovative dry sump lubrication system called Suzuki Advanced Sump System (SASS) is designed to reduce overall engine height and allow the crankshaft to be positioned lower in the crankcase, lowering the center of gravity and making the motorcycle easier to lift of the side-stand. The dry sump lubrication system also utilizes a scraper plate that pulls oil off the crankshaft, while a jet directs a cooling stream of oil at the underside of each piston for maximum performance. A slick-shifting five-speed transmission directs power smoothly from the engine back through a low-maintenance and reliable shaft-drive system.

Nothing can match the sound of a big V-twin engine under acceleration and Suzuki engineers dedicated a serious amount of time and effort to find the perfect balance of performance and sound. The 2-into-1-into-2 chromed, stainless steel exhaust system features Suzuki’s digitally controlled Suzuki Exhaust Tuning (SET) system, which uses a butterfly valve to adjust the exhaust for optimum performance at all RPM ranges. The M109R also makes use of Suzuki’s proven PAIR system for reduced emissions. This system really sounds good at Idle and sounds even better the higher you rev this big Suzuki.

The Power and torque of this motorcycle is fantastic! However if you can’t get that power to the ground, then you have defeated the purpose of the build. The engineers had thought of that problem as well and built a chassis that would do all of the above and then some when they designed this bike. The M109R chassis is built to comfortably handle all the power and torque of the massive M109R V-twin power plant while also delivering agile handling and a comfortable riding position. Wheelbase measures in at 67.4 inches with 32 degrees of rake and 5.1 inches of trail for superior handling ride and comfort. Seat height is a low 27.6 inches, making it easier for the rider to reach the ground and the forward controls that are stock on this model.

The frame itself is made of high-tensile steel in a double-cradle layout designed for a perfect balance of comfort and handling. The cast-aluminum-alloy swing arm works with a progressive linkage and a preload adjustable single rear shock producing 4.66 inches of travel., inverted front forks with 46mm stanchion tubes and race-proven cartridge internals that deliver 5.12 inches of travel. When this bike is shipped to the dealer the rear mono shock is set at level 4 and it really handles the curves and bumps quite well! The only adjustment that I would make is stiffening up the rear so you can have a passenger on the back and not bottom out the suspension.

The front brake system is based on that of the AMA Super bike Championship-winning GSX-R1000 sport bike including the radial-mounted four-piston brake calipers and 310mm brake rotors for the ultimate in braking performance. Rear brakes consist of a dual-piston caliper and 275mm rear disc that stops the rear wheel quite nicely.

Spiral-spoke cast aluminum alloy wheels feature and aggressive design and measure 3.50 x 18 inches in front with a Dunlop 130/70/18 radial tire, while at the rear is a massively wide 8.50 x 18 inch rear wheel mated to the widest rear tire ever used on a Suzuki motorcycle: a radial Dunlop 240/40R/18 tire.
One look is all it takes to tell that the Boulevard M109R is not your typical cruiser. Its muscular, sleek look of high performance, aggressive styling and long, sleek flowing lines define a new generation of Suzuki cruising machines.

Aggressive, performance-oriented styling smoothly integrated with the sleek lines of a cruiser best defines the look of the M109R. From the GSX-R-inspired front fender to the purposeful front headlight housing all the way back through the long, low fuel tank and stylish rear fender, the M109R just looks cool and race ready, complemented by miles of mirror-like chrome over the entire motorcycle.

A wide, long fuel tank with an enormous 5.2 gallon capacity flows smoothly into a comfortable seat, integrated frame side covers and an incredibly stylish radiator cowl. Up front, a streamlined headlight cover houses a unique trapezoid-shaped multi-reflector H4 halogen headlight and a maintenance-free clear with red LED taillight is built into the tail section. Chrome dual slash-cut mufflers complete the look of the amazing M109R. Dual triangle air cleaner covers are mounted on each side of the engine with traditional, chrome-plated bullet-shaped front and rear turn signals are utilized front and rear.

Gauges consist of a tank-mounted analog checkerboard speedometer, LCD odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge and even a clock! Add to that a digital tachometer that is by far the coolest thing that I have seen mounted on a large chrome handlebar that runs horizontally and really impresses the people you are trying to show.

Rider Summary:
When it comes to the cruiser models the manufacturers have introduced in 2007, they all have excellent attributes, with some being fast, low, and sleek and others having bigger fatter tires and small fairings, and some may have a paint scheme you are attracted too! I have ridden almost all cruisers produced in 2007, and when it comes to all of the options this Boulevard comes standard with you may want to consider this line of Suzuki power cruisers. The Limited Edition model is unique in so many ways, and this may be the only item you will need to convince your significant other into letting you bring this beast home. MSRP on this model is only $13,900, and for a 1783cc motorcycle with this kind of cylinder head arrangement with dual spark plugs all of the way down to the shim type valve train, you are getting a lot of cool stuff for your money. This technology will be around for a while in Suzuki’s lineup and the old saying “Why fix it if isn’t broke” stands true when it comes to the VZR1800. The only thing I can say to Suzuki is please don't change a thing when it comes to the reliability of this power cruiser.

So make sure to stop by or call the guys at Donnell’s Suzuki in Independence, Missouri so they can show you their new lineup of Suzuki motorcycles and answer any questions you may have.

Special thanks to Bart, Chris and Tony for making this one of the best experience’s I have ever had test riding a true champion and bike of the year. Once you ride one you'll know what I am talking about.

By Dave Miller

Photos by Stripe

Location: Cycle Connection Harley-Davidson/Buell, Joplin Missouri

Weather: Clear, temps in the mid 80s, mid levels of humidity, winds S 5-10

Rider: Jim Austin
6’0 220 Lbs
30 Years riding experience
Current ride: 2003 HD FLHTCI

Passenger: Karey Austin
5’7 107 lbs
3 years riding experience

Buell: innovative, cutting edge, ahead of it’s time design wise. These are just some of the things people say about Buell motorcycles. I have one other word for them, which I will get to shortly. Stopping in at Cycle Connection Harley-Davidson in Joplin, Missouri one day to buy some “bling” for my scoot, I was approached by Chris, the head of the performance division of the store. “Jim, when are you going to go and buy you another standard? You have been riding these big bikes for a while now, isn’t it about time you got you something you could flick around a little easier on the curves around here? I know you miss some of that spirited riding you used to do,” he stated. I laughed, and told him I hadn’t found the right mount in a few years to be able to just go out and have a great time that would be cost efficient for what I like to do. I have this thing about having to pay a grand premium on insurance to have some fun every now and then. Chris told me he had just the bike for me and to call him and we would set up a day to go out and play. He promised I would like what I saw. So we agreed to meet the next weekend, and he would show me what the new Buells were all about. I was a little skeptical when I read the specifications of the bikes about what I was getting into. But, was I in for a surprise.

On a nice sunny day with my full face Arai helmet and First Gear Textile jacket and gloves in hand, I putted over to the dealership. Chris had two bikes to play on that day. One a 2007 XB12SCG Lightning, the other the XB12 Firebolt. I picked the Lightning for the mount of choice for the day, due to a more upright seating position. And, because my wife was going to be with me part of the ride, I wanted her as comfortable as I could get her for the trips we were about to make. The first thing I noticed about the Buell was the layout. Everything seemed to be well laid out ergonomically. The pegs on the Lightning weren’t too high, although going from floorboards to rear-sets is a big adjustment. I wasn’t very uncomfortable at all and the reach to the bars was just fine. I wasn’t bent over so far that my shoulders were going to ache from the riding, like they had on my last standard, a Suzuki SV650 with lowered bars and high rear-sets. I liked the way everything seemed to flow on the Buell as ergonomically as it was designed. The next thing that caught my attention was the clutch pull. Harley engine-based bikes convey the image of a hard clutch pull in my mind right off the bat. This bike threw that notion right out the door. I liked the easy pull, no arm pump working the gears as the playing got harder I figured. Later I would find out you don’t need to work the gears on this particular bike, but more about that later. The bike started effortlessly and there did not seem to be any type of “hunting” on warm-up. It seemed to fire right off with a push of the button and warmed up quickly. We took off out of the parking lot, going easy so I could get used to the pull. This motorcycle has a short wheelbase, so I didn’t need any wheel stands right out of the parking lot to begin with.

The engine pulled away with almost a linear like feel. The motor seemed like it was designed with the way people would ride this bike in mind. You could make it pull hard, or easy. It rode through all the gears with enough pull you could lug it and still pull hard. I liked the way the bike’s engine was laid out. The gas mileage this bike generates was a big plus. It will get better fuel mileage than a comparable Japanese bike of the same displacement. When you shut the motor off, a fan kicks on to get the motor cooled down. It was a little loud, but after a bit you got used to it. Pulling out of curves when the motor was in gear was a real rush. Not the rush you get on a 150 HP liter bike of Japanese stature, but of one that gives a feeling of control and grace. This bike was built for curvy roads, no doubt.

The frame carries the fuel, the swingarm carries the oil, and the exhaust is hung low under the bike, giving the bike a lower center of gravity. All of which, when combined with a steep steering head design and a short wheel base, will give a rider extreme “flickabilitiy” in the turns. The stock tires worked wonders and in no time I was able to lean the bike to the extremes it was intended for, with confidence in its abilities. I liked the bike and it’s handling right away. I also liked the confidence it gave me when I had not been on a sport type ride in a while. This bike screams hooligan ride. The brakes on it were fantastic, the front one especially. I wish all bikes had that front brake. Stopping never was a worry, and you could brake down speed very efficiently. All in all it is a great package.

My wife really enjoyed the back perch; she said it was fun with the curves. Going out, some great back roads provided a lot of thrills for both of us, and the seat was good for a 'couple of hour’ type outing. Now I wouldn’t recommend this bike for any kind of long distance tour; the small flyscreen is great at lower speeds, but I got a lot of wind buffeting at interstate speeds on the short stretch of superslab we rode. I had no problems with the seat though, it wasn’t too hard or too wide; it worked well in the package. I could slide around on it to shift my weight just fine.

Overall I only had two complaints about the bike, both of which could be handled with some minor modifications. First were the grips and bars. There was a lot of buzz in the grips at moderate speeds. The bend of the bars could have been just a little higher. To get rid of the buzz, though, a good set of bar ends or a barsnake would probably work wonders. I would switch out to the bars on the City-X too, I like the profile better. My other complaint was the mirrors. Chuck 'em and replace 'em if you want to be able to see behind you at all; useless to say the least.

Wrapping this quick ride up, there is one word that describes this bike to the letter. That is fun; pure, unabashed fun. Nothing more could be asked for. This bike was a hoot to ride. I had so much fun I almost traded in my bike for one of them. The only consideration I had was how far I travel on my motorcycle when I travel. Fun generally comes at a price now, however the base MSRP of the bikes is low enough and the insurance payments are seemingly lower than the sport bikes of overseas; all of which make it worth the while. The gas mileage was a big plus too. So to put it all in context, how could you go wrong?

I want to thank Chris at Cycle Connection H-D in Joplin for his hospitality. I can’t tell the public how much this dealership goes out of its way to satisfy its customers. Thanks again Chris. Take a test ride at your local dealership, or give Cycle Connection H-D a call, you won’t be disappointed.

Bike Specs:
Engine Type: Air/Oil-cooled 1203cc Thunderstorm V-Twin

Bore and Stroke: 3.5 in (88.90mm) / 3.812 in (96.82mm)

Displacement: 1203cc (73.4 cu. in)

Compression Ratio: 10.0:1

Fuel Delivery system: 49mm down draft DDFI II Fuel injection

Peak Engine Torque: 84 ft lbs @ 6000 RPM*

Peak Engine HP: 103 HP @ 6800 RPM*

Transmission: 5 Speed, helical cut gears

Primary Drive: Chain, 1.500:1 (57/38)

Secondary Drive: Constant path, 14MM pitch, Aramid reinforced Hibrex belt,
2.407:1 (65/27)

Overall ratios: 1st 2.648 2nd 1.892 3rd 1.407 4th 1.166 5th 1.000

Frame: Aluminum/ with fuel carried within

Swingarm: Cast aluminum/ with oil carried within

Front Suspension: 41MM Showa inverted fork, adjustable compression damping,
rebound damping, and spring pre-load

Rear Suspension: Showa Coil-over monoshock, with adjustable compression
damping, rebound damping, and spring pre-load

Front brakes: Front ZTL type brake, 6 piston, fixed caliper, 375mm single
sided-inside out stainless steel floating rotor

Rear Brakes: Single Piston, floating caliper, 240mm Stainless Steel, fixed

Front Wheel and Tire: 6 Spoke, cast aluminum/ Pirelli Diablo T 120 / 70

Rear Wheel and Tire: 6 Spoke, cast aluminum/ Pirelli Diablo T 180 / 55 ZR-17

Overall Length: 75.7 in (1923mm)

Overall Width: 29.7 in (755mm)

Seat Height: 28.6 in (726mm)

Wheelbase: 51.8 in (1315mm)

Ground clearance: 3.55 in (90mm)

Maximum Lean Angle: 50 Degrees*

Dry Weight: 395 lbs (179kg)*

Fuel Capacity: 3.82 US Gallons (4.9L / 100km)

Estimated MPG: 65 MPG (3.6L / 100km)*

Available colors: Cherry Bomb Red Translucid, Midnight Black, Valencia
Orange Translucid

*Factory-based figures - Not gathered from independent source for this test.

Happy Roads!

By Jim & Karey Austin

When it comes down to sport bike technology, I wanted to take a closer look at the sport bike that keeps winning races and dominating the European race tracks; the Aprilia RSV 1000R.

Steve Okenfuss, owner of Reno's Yamaha Aprilia KC jumped at the chance to bring this bike into the limelight. We set up a time to ride this new monster, and fellow Cycle Connections team member Phil Peeler gladly took the camera, while Marsha Ore drove the truck and attempted to keep up with me.

Two features I first noticed were the clean instruments and digital readout gauges, which give the bike a sophisticated and clean look. The paint schemes are also very attractive. Many high-dollar parts have been used on this model that it's hard to believe the MSRP 'out the door' price is only $10,999.

This motorcycle is for real and is an out of the crate racer that is ready to ride on the street. I really liked the handling and the braking system. The newer bikes are becoming very competitive as far as trying to outdo one another in the handling and braking arena; however when it comes to all of the really good components that are used in the RSV this really drives the cost of the motorcycle up in price and further out of reach for the average consumer. Aprilia has really done their homework on this sport bike. It is a bike that stands out, especially with its v-type motor. I truly think that you must weigh out the options that have been introduced in 2007 and look at and hear the throaty exhaust of the v-twin engine and the exceptionally sharp 2-piece body work style Aprilia has rolled out.

The fuel injection system is all fed into the Intake tract by 57mm throttle bodies and it is crisp and extremely responsive. It tends to really want to get up to redline if you do not pay attention. I was asked to not exceed 20 miles on this unit and when I had made my rounds I felt that I had enough technical information to judge this motorcycle. I left wishing that I could have one of these in the garage as a fun bike to ride.

V60 Magnesium four stroke longitudinal 60 degree V twin. Liquid cooling with three way pressurised circuit. Double overhead camshaft with mixed gear/chain drive; four valves per cylinder. Patented AVDC (Anti Vibration Double Countershaft).
95 RON unleaded petrol.
97 x 67.5 mm.
997.62 cc.
Compression ratio:
Maximum power at the crank:
105.24 kW (143 HP) at 10,000 rpm.
Maximum torque at the crank:
10.3 kgm (101 Nm) at 8,000 rpm.
Fuel system:
Integrated electronic engine management system with indirect multipoint electronic injection, 57 mm throttle bodies, and a 10.3 litre air box with Air Runner air scoop.
Digital electronic ignition, with one spark plug per cylinder, integrated with fuel injection system.
Double silencer with three way catalytic converter and lambda probe oxygen sensor (Euro 3).
12 V - 500 W.
Dry sump with separate oil tank, a double trochoid pump with oil cooler, & a steel oil tank.
Six speed. Transmission ratios:
1st 34/15 (2.27)
2nd 31/19 (1.63)
3rd 26/20 (1.3)
4th 24/22 (1.091)
5th 24/25 (0.96)
6th 23/26 (0.88)
Multi-plate clutch in oil bath with patented PPC power-assisted hydraulic control, metal braided clutch line, & radial master cylinders with 15 mm piston.
Primary drive:
Spur gears. Transmission ratio: 60/31 (1.935).
Final drive:
Chain. Transmission ratio: 40/16 (2.5).
Box section sloping twin-spar frame in aluminium alloy.
Front suspension:
43 mm Ohlin's titanium nitride (TiN) coated upside-down fork, adjustable in compression, rebound and preload, & 120 mm wheel travel. Shortened fork bottoms with radial calliper fittings.
Rear suspension
Aluminium alloy double arched member swing arm, Aprilia Progressive. System (APS) linkages, Sachs monoshock with adjustable compression, rebound, preload and length, & 133 mm wheel travel.
Front: Brembo double stainless steel floating disc, w/320 mm, radial callipers with four 34 mm pistons and four sintered pads, & metal braided brake line.
Aluminium alloy.
Front: 3.50 x 17'
Rear: 6.00 x 17'
Radial tubeless.
Front: 120/70 ZR 17
Rear: 190/50 ZR 17 (alternative: 180/55 ZR 17 or 190/55 ZR 17)
Overall length: 2,035 mm
Overall width: 730 mm (at handlebars)
Overall height: 1,130 mm (at windshield)
Seat height: 810 mm
Handlebar height: 830 mm (at bar ends)
Wheelbase: 1,418 mm
Trail: 101.7 mm
Rake angle: 25 degree
Dry weight:
189 kg, dry.
Capacity 18 litres, 4 litre reserve.
Aprilia Black, Platinum Grey, Replica (limited edition, 200 units).

Hands down, this bike has all of the horsepower and weight ratio I would want in a bike. The frame and suspension work absolutely perfect together, as well of the ignition system, wheels, and tires. If you have only dreamed of owning one of these fine motorcycles, quit dreaming because this is an amazing bike that everyone can afford. When you factor in all of the great components in this build and the MSRP price, you are truly getting the most for your money with Aprilia, plus, a unique looking bike!

I want to personally thank Steve Okenfuss for giving me the opportunity to test ride one of the best European sport bikes on the market today.

B-safe out there!

Dave Miller

Recently BMW invited sales managers from their dealer body to participate in a new model introduction that was held in Ormond Beach, Florida. Don’t get too excited; it wasn’t 70 and sunny, it was 47 and cloudy, but it beat the 10 degrees back home. The intro was two days of classroom and one day riding the two new F800 and three new G650X models.

A quick word about our mounts; the F800s are all-new motorcycles, vertical parallel twins, liquid cooled, injected, belt drives. This is a new engine from BMW. The G650 series are based on an existing engine from BMW’s now famous lineup of on/off road 650s, dating back 10 years in this country.

A unique aspect of the riding day was that after a morning road ride of 120 miles, we were offered several hours of off-road riding in genuine Florida muck. Two of the new 650 single models, the G650Xcountry, and the G650Xchallenge, have off-road ability, even if we did not. More on this later. The third G model is the G650Xmoto, a street only moto with 17” wheels fore and aft. Pure adrenalin fun with 53 hp and weighing only 344 pounds full of gas. The other G models have similar performance and weight figures.

Although I had an idea of what to expect from the 650 single, the new G models were still thrilling to ride because of the reduced weight , increased power, and superior suspension. All three have a 45-mm Marzocchi fork with 9.4” travel on the Xcountry, and 10.6” on the Xchallenge and Xmoto. The G650Xchallenge is the off-road offering, with 21” front wheel, while the G650Xcountry is a true all-around dual sport. It has the most comfy seat by far; the other two are quite narrow.

Besides the Xmoto, the other pure street bikes we rode were the new F800S (Sport) and the F800ST (Sport Tour). These are the same bikes, differing mainly in their bars, fairing, and windshields. We were curious about these 800s because they are the first vertical twin engines ever from BMW. Light, easy handling was promised from a rigid aluminum delta box frame using the engine as a stressed member. Wet weight is only 460 pounds, so the 85-hp (62-ft pounds torque) propels them along nicely. Out on the open road, the bikes inspired confidence In handling, stopping, and suspension. They never lacked for power, with the torque coming early and staying late, due In part to a 360-degree crankshaft. With pistons rising and falling together you need an excellent counterbalancer, and this twin has one. Vibration is non-existent. That smoothness will inspire you to leave home; both the S and ST are outfittable with BMW saddlebags.

As I said earlier, the morning portion of our ride was on a variety of Florida roads, with typical results; got lost, ended up on an abandoned cobblestone (brick) sand-washed road and had to turn around. The group got separated, which was probably a good thing. That was the street ride; for the off-road portion we were handed Xcountrys and Xchallenges and told to go play in the mud. BMW arranged professional instruction as most of our class of 12 were street riders with little if any dirt experience. So, with signals removed, air pressure down, and little hope of return, we rode into the woods. This wasn’t the everglades, but there was plenty of mud to use from recent rains. I rode the Xchallenge and I will tell you; it was amazing. It powered through a foot of mud, sometimes whether I wanted it to or not. One critical feature to mention—the Xchallenge has an air-only rear suspension strut much like the one found on the mighty 1200cc HP2, adjustable for pre-load and damping. BMW feels it is superior at keeping the rear wheel hooked up for continuous smooth power delivery. An experienced off-roader would have a great time with it. I was just glad to get home in one piece.

All five of these bikes clearly push the boundaries of what it means to own a BMW. The 800s give us a new middleweight to sell, whereas before we jumped straight from 650 to 1200cc. Now we have something in between, and attractive in terms of appearance, price, and technology. The new G models are more tightly focused at certain market segments and are meant to be lifestyle bikes. The Xmoto for example, fits into BMW’s urban segment.

All five of the models ridden and written about here have at their core the same thing; with BMW, it’s all about the joy of riding. These new machines are each designed to let you find your own way there. You can see them all in Engle Motors showroom starting in March and they will be on display at our BMW Spring Open House April 27 and 28.

By Pat Cochran, Sales Manager, Engle Motors

Ever since their introduction, I had been hoping for an opportunity ride one of the 2007 Harley-Davidson motorcycles. When Ken Stone, Sales Manager at Blue Springs Harley-Davidson , offered to make one available for a test ride article, my acceptance was immediate and enthusiastic. I was eager to experience the performance improvement resulting from the new Twin Cam 96 engine coupled with the 6-speed transmission introduced on the Dyna models last year and standard on all of Harley’s big twin bikes for 2007. I selected a Dyna Wide-Glide to facilitate some side-by-side comparisons with my Twin Cam 88 equipped 2000 FXDWG. Arrangements were made for Mike Schweder, Cycle Connections’ Editor-in-Chief, to participate in the evaluation and for Dave Miller to shoot photos.

We were fortunate to have really nice Missouri weather on the Saturday scheduled for the ride. When Mike and I arrived at Blue Springs Harley-Davidson, Ken had a beautiful suede blue Pearl/vivid black Dyna Wide Glide ready to go. As we walked around the bike, our attention was immediately drawn to the new 96 cubic-inch mill. It’s really a brand new motor, not just an update of the Twin Cam 88. There are more than 700 new part numbers associated with the TC96, and the only unchanged areas are the cylinders, rocker arms, rocker boxes, and components in the top section of the engine. The displacement increase from 1450cc to 1584cc was accomplished by increasing the stroke from 4.00 inches to 4.38 inches without changing the 3.75-inch bore. At 3,500 rpm, the new motor produces up to 93 ft. lbs. of peak torque compared to up to 82 ft. lbs. generated by the TC88. The crankcase has been redesigned with the starter now bolted directly to the inner primary housing, eliminating the need for a starter jackshaft. Internal oil passages between the motor and tranny replace external oil lines and fittings for a cleaner look. Pistons and connecting rods are lighter resulting in reduced reciprocating mass and less vibration. Several modifications in camshaft design increase engine durability and decrease noise.

All of the new Harleys are equipped with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection. New injector nozzles improve fuel atomization and spray and deliver improved fuel economy while reducing exhaust emissions. A new oil pump assembly provides a 10 percent increase in flow and 23 percent more scavenging capacity.

Every Harley Big Twin model now features the 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission that made its debut in the Dyna line for 2006. The main objective of the 6-speed tranny was the reduction of engine rpm at cruising speeds. However, that’s just the beginning of the improvements. Harley set out to tighten up gear ratios, ease shifting, and improve the “feel” of the transmission. For second through fourth, straight-cut gears were abandoned in favor of helical-cut gears. Steel “dog rings” replaced moving gears to actuate shifts reducing the rider’s effort required to change gears. Harley-Davidson engineers optimized gear ratios based on the increased torque of the TC96 motor in order to improve acceleration. Top gear engine rpm has been reduced by about 11 percent, from 3,227 to 2,859 rpm at 75 mph.

For the first part of our test ride, I rode the new bike and Mike rode mine. After a few miles at cruising speed on Interstate 70, we stopped and switched places for the return trip. Then we headed for Fleming Park where we could see how the bikes performed on the winding, hilly roads around Lake Jacomo. My observations are reported in the next paragraph, and Mike's follow.

I immediately noticed a difference in seating position. The seat height is not quite two inches higher on the new bike, and the front pegs are a couple of inches lower. Since I have short legs, I thought the 2007 FXDWG was a bit less comfortable when stopped, but more comfortable while rolling. The reduction in clutch effort felt good. The difference in torque was amazing, as was the reduction in rpm in top gear. Long trips at interstate speeds will definitely be less tiring and more economical with the new engine and transmission. The front forks and overall frame were beefed up starting with the 2006 FXDWG resulting in a more solid feel while negotiating curves. I really liked the appearance of the new Wide Glide. The thicker mini ape hanger handlebars with internal electrical wiring, wide 49mm front forks, stretched gas tank, bullet style turn signals, wider rear fender, and the 160mm rear tire are all improvements introduced between the 2000 and 2007 model years. This year, the passenger backrest is gone, adding to the sleek look. I prefer having the backrest, particularly when packing for a trip and needing a support for my T-bag. Harley has a thick accessory catalog, so the addition of a backrest would not be difficult. It was certainly interesting to see how progressive and innovative Harley-Davidson has been over the last eight model years. I’m very happy with my 2000 Wide Glide, but I would highly recommend the 2007 model to anyone shopping for a new scoot.


EDITOR’S COMMENTS: I currently ride a 1999 Fat Boy with an 80 cubic-inch Evolution engine, so when I approach cruising speed I’m always searching for another gear, which is never there. I’ve ridden to Daytona, Sturgis and all over the country, and the one thing I’ve always wished for more than anything else is another gear so I could, drop the RPMs, pick up speed and cruise on down the highway! I figured if I had another gear I might also be able to squeeze in a few more miles between fuel stops.

So when Stripe called and told me Ken Stone had invited us to take one of their new 2007 Harley-Davidson’s out for a road test I felt like a kid in a candy store! Ever since the new 2007 models came out I’d wanted to ride one just to see for myself how much torque the new Twin Cam 96 cubic-inch engine had and how well the new 6-speed transmission worked.

As Stripe already mentioned, we decided to test ride the new 2007 Wide Glide so we could compare the new model to his 2000 Wide Glide, which has a Twin Cam 88 cubic-inch engine. When both bikes were parked next to each other I noticed some obvious cosmetic changes. I really liked the larger front forks and the bullet style turn signals were very sleek. While standing behind the bikes the 2007 model had a much wider tire and fender, which was a huge improvement. I’ve always wondered why they put such narrow wheels and tires on Harleys. The only change I didn’t care for was the redesigned battery cover.

The first time I rode the 2007 model I was amazed at how easy the clutch was to operate. There was very little resistance, which made shifting a breeze, especially when combined with the new transmission. You would really appreciate this clutch when you're caught in heavy traffic or riding in a parade. When twisting the throttle there was a significant increase in torque and what I liked most was being able to shift into sixth gear and feel the RPMs drop as your speed continued to increase. Wow! To say I was impressed by the new 2007 model would be an understatement. Way to go Harley-Davidson!


The following is a list comparing data for the 2007 (bold) and 2000 Dyna Wide Glide. The information was obtained from Harley-Davidson literature.

Length (In.): 97.5 ... 94.5
Seat Height Unladen (In.): 28.5 ... 26.8
Ground Clearance (In.): 6.20 ... 5.38
Rate/Trail (Degrees/In.): 34.0/5.1... 32.0/5.1
Wheelbase (In): 68.3 ... 66.1
Dry Weight (Lbs.): 650.0 ... 612.0
Engine: Twin Cam 96 ... Twin Cam 88
Bore X Stroke (In.): 3.75 X 4.38 ... 3.75 X 4.00
Displacement (C.I./C.C.): 96.00/1584 ... 88.00/1450
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1 ... 8.9:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection ... Carburetor
Oil Capacity (U.S. Qt.): 3 ... 3
Fuel Capacity (U.S. Gal.): 5.1 ... 5.2

Gear Ratios (Overall):
First: 9.312 ... 10.110
Second: 6.421 ... 6.958
Third: 4.774 ... 4.953
Fourth: 3.926 ... 3.862
Fifth: 3.279 ... 3.150
Sixth: 2.790 ... None

Torque (Ft. Lbs. @ 3,500 R.P.M.): 93.0 ... 82.0
Brakes, Dia. X W. (In. Front/In. Rear): 11.8 X .20/11.5 X .23 ... 11.5 X .20/11.5 X .23
Wheels: Laced 21-inch front, 17-inch rear ... Laced 21-inch front, 16-inch rear
Miles Per Gallon: 53 hwy, 34 city ... 50 hwy, 42 city
Lean Angles (Right/Left): 32 degrees/35 degrees ... 31 degrees/32 degrees

NOTE: When viewing the comparative photos, it is important to remember that my 2000 Dyna Wide Glide has a number of added accessories while the 2007 is bone stock. My handlebars are 3 inches taller than stock and a bit wider with the front turn signal stems relocated to facilitate mounting of a detachable windshield. I replaced the mirrors, footrests, shift linkage, and tank panel and added chrome pieces here and there.

Bike review and photos by Stripe
and Mike Schweder

Additional photos by Dave Miller

Special thanks to Ken Stone and Blue Springs Harley-Davidson

The 21st century motorcycle market offers many choices. Options range anywhere from sport bike to cruisers to power cruisers—metric and American made.

We have seen motorcycles evolve over the past few years where displacement is matched with style and grace as well as cost. The newer models on the market today excite me! Norman Jones, owner of Engle Motors, Inc. showed me the newest Triumph flagship and the first thing I noticed was the massive radiator and gas tank. My first thought was “How many miles can I go on that before I look for gas?” The other thing that threw me was the massive 43-mm inverted forks, which is a common standard today. I asked myself, “Is this a Triumph?”

I knew Triumph had been making some serious motorcycles these days, so why not take on the big metric cruiser lines? The Rocket III is an awesome machine with all of the reliability from sequential fuel injection, shaft drive and a reliable digital ignition. The throttle response of this new 3-cylinder is accurate and crisp.

The weight ratio is perfect in any lean angle. When riding I felt like I was riding a mid-size cruiser that packed quite a punch. The 5-speed transmission is a perfect fit for this 709-pound bike. When I test ride newer bikes I listen to the engine, transmission and final drive for noise. Overall, the Triumph Rocket III is very quiet and the only thing I heard was some minor valve train noise. The engine at the time of the test had only 100+ miles, so don’t let this discourage you. The motor was very quiet at all rpms and the torque when applied listed to the right when revved, which I have not felt since the CX500 Honda days. The engine redlines at 6500 rpm and you will be in the triple digits at the rpm. At cruising range I noticed that in the tallest gear, roughly highway speeds, the bike had plenty of power to pass.

The front braking system is supported by the massive front 320-mm floating rotors with 4-piston calipers. This does extremely well in stopping or with during aggressive braking under extreme conditions. The rear braking system is a 316-mm full floating rotor with 4-piston caliper. The front brake stops the bike quickly and efficiently with almost no lock-up, even in damp, wet road conditions. This bike handles extremely well with a dual shock set-up and the inverted front cartridge forks. I was able to throw this bike around with ease and grace.

The rake is 32 degrees and the trail is a whopping 152 mm, so this bike is long, but has excellent front geometry for tight turns in slow conditions. The overall length of this bike is 98.4 inches, which makes for a stable ride. The seat height is 29.1,” so a friend of mine who is around 5’ 2” had a difficult time trying to touch flat-footed. Therefore, vertically challenged riders may choose to lower the rear shocks to eliminate this issue.

Cruising range can is extended due to whopping 6.3 gallon gas tank. Rumor has it that this bike averages around 50 miles per gallon, so you do the math! The frame is made up of a tubular twin spine design and looks very nice in the black powder coat color. The wheels have a nice mag design with a bold front tire (150/80 R 17) and a huge rear tire (240/50 R 16), which really holds the pavement. When I test rode the Rocket III, the roads were slick and cold, and it didn’t feel unsafe even under heavy throttle twists.

The handlebars are pulled back to a comfortable position with easy control boxes and switches that are easily selected for left and right handed people. Dash gauges are clean and easy to read in all light conditions. The model I tested had a small windshield, which pushed the air over my helmet, which would be a plus in rainy conditions. The headlights are retro and bright and no other cruiser has this dual headlight setup.

With of the great style and horsepower, the Triumph Rocket III is a great power cruiser that has really stepped up to the plate, and with its 3-cylinder sound, it’s truly in a class of its own.

In summary, I truly appreciated the ride, the suspension and horsepower this cruiser offers. The cost of this motorcycle is very inexpensive considering the power at the rear wheel and there are several parts and accessories to dress it up even more. If you’re looking for a different type of cruiser that is comfortable for you and your passenger, take a test ride on Triumph’s new Rocket III. You will not be disappointed.

I want to thank Norman and Bobby Jones of Engle Motors, Inc. and all of the staff who helped get me suited up and ready to test ride Triumph’s flagship bike.

B-safe out there!

Dave Miller

When we discussed the next bike to review I already had my eye on Ducati’s new S2R 1000 LeMonster, so I contacted none other than Leigh Letellier at Letko Cycles to see if he would be interested in having us do a review on one of his incredible Italian-made bikes.

Ducati offers the S2R 1000 for an affordable MSRP of only $10,995 and comes equipped with some of the highest quality components available on the market today. From the frame to the chain they do not cut corners and prior to this test ride I spent some time looking at the unique styling and paint options.

On start up this motorcycle is all Ducati with a quick revving engine and throaty exhaust. I had not ridden a Ducati since 2002; however, what remains constant and fresh in my mind is the way the Ducati sounds. Since this model is up against several of the metric twins that have made the top 10 list in 2006, I was really looking forward to seeing how this bike would handle. The total dry weight of this bike is a mere 392 pounds with a single-sided swing arm and Marelli electronic fuel injection, whose 45mm throttle bodies works well together providing no hesitation from idle to redline.

Below are the specs on the 2006 Ducati S2R 1000 Monster:

FRAME: Tubular steel trellis

WHEELBASE: 56.7 in

RAKE: 24°

FRONT SUSPENSION: Showa 43 mm upside-down fully adjustable fork


FRONT BRAKE: 2 x 320 mm discs, 4-piston caliper

FRONT WHEEL: 5-spoke light alloy 3.50 x 17

FRONT TIRE: 120/70 ZR 17

REAR SUSPENSION: Progressive linkage with preload and rebound adjustable Sachs monoshock. Aluminium single-sided swingarm


REAR BRAKE: 245 mm disc, 2-piston caliper

REAR WHEEL: 5-spoke light alloy 5.50 x 17

REAR TIRE: 180/55 ZR 17

FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 3.6 US gal (includes 0.8 US gal reserve)

WEIGHT: 392 lbs

SEAT HEIGHT: 31.5 in

INSTRUMENTS: Electronic panel: speedometer, rev counter, neutral light, oil pressure warning light, low fuel warning light, high beam indicator, turn signals, immobilizer system, LCD clock

WARRANTY: 2 years unlimited mileage

COLOR COMBINATIONS (TANK-FRAME-WHEELS): (red with white stripe-red-white) (black with white stripe-matte black-black) (grey with black stripe-matte black-black)

VERSIONS: Dual seat * = The weight excludes battery, lubricants and, where applicable, cooling liquid.

TYPE: L-twin cylinder, 2 valves per cylinder Desmodromic; air cooled

DISPLACEMENT: 992 cc BORE X STROKE 94 x 71.5 mm

COMPRESSION RATIO: 10:1 POWER* - 95 hp @ 8000 rpm TORQUE* 69.4 lb-ft @ 6000 rpm

FUEL INJECTION: Marelli electronic fuel injection, 45 mm throttle body

EXHAUST: 2 aluminium mufflers


GEARBOX: 6-speed

RATIOS: 1st 37/15, 2nd 30/17, 3rd 27/20, 4th 24/22, 5th 23/24, 6th 24/28

PRIMARY DRIVE: Straight cut gears; ratio 1.84

FINAL DRIVE: Chain; Front sprocket 15; Rear sprocket 41

CLUTCH: Dry multiplate with hydraulic control

This bike is a great value and a blast to ride! The fuel tank pivots to gain access to the air cleaner element and the throttle bodies for synchronization. The 43 mm inverted front forks are very stable and handle wheelie impacts like a true champion.
The mirrors and foot pegs have little to no vibration at all rpm ranges, which is a big plus while revving the motor.

This motorcycle not only looks good but the all-around performance of this engine is fantastic and likes to be ridden hard. The transmission shifts extremely easy and I never had any mis-shifts through all gears. The clutch and transmission are excellent for normal riding conditions as well as the race track.

The Rear Sachs suspension handled as expected under hard corners and never came close to bottoming out while traversing railroad tracks and small potholes. The combination of inverted forks, mono shock and single-sided swing arm is the right choice.

The swingarm design not only reduces the overall weight of the motorcycle, but also enables you to change the rear wheel in just seconds, which is very important at the race track. Between the power and suspension, it comes as no surprise that this model can be made ready for the racetrack with only a few minor modifications. Along with incredible performance, the S2R 1000 also looks great and is guaranteed to draw attention everywhere you go.

There are a lot of new 1000cc class motorcycles on the market today, and although Ducati has cut no corners with this model, it is priced very competitively. So if you are in the market for a great sportbike, make sure to stop by Letko Cycles and check out the new 2006 Ducati S2R 1000 Monster. I guarantee you will not disappointed!

I want to thank Leigh Letellier-Manager, Jim Koenig-Sales, Mario Arter –Tech Service and the rest of the crew at Letko Cycles for all their help and for allowing us to run this incredible bike though its paces.

Keep up the great job guys!

B-safe out there!

Review by Dave Miller

Photos by Stripe and Mike Schweder

I recently stopped by Donnell’s Motorcycles in Independence, Missouri to check out the new 2006 Suzuki Boulevard M109R. This awesome looking motorcycle is Suzuki’s largest motorcycle to date, and I’m convinced it will be one of the top 10 motorcycles of the year.

The M109 not only looks good, it performs like a serious mid-weight sport bike, from the inverted front suspension to the 240 mm rear tire setup. The Boulevard M109R's performance begins with its all new 109-cubic-inch, fuel injected V-Twin engine, which provides massive torque all the way from idle to redline, which gives it better acceleration than bikes of similar weight and size. According to Suzuki, this is the most powerful V-Twin they have ever produced.

The exhaust is very unique and has a throaty, distinctive sound that is all Boulevard. One look and you will agree, this new cruiser is one of the best you’ve seen in a long time, plus it has the horsepower to back it up. Suzuki has always been a cut above the rest, from the GSXR 1000 and the Hayabusa; however, seeing this bike and twisting its throttle may change the way you look at the metric line of cruisers.

Larry James and Stewart Basey at Donnell’s Motorcycles is adding a nitrous system to an M109 and I can’t wait to see the dyno results. I have a feeling that number may climb to 170 horsepower or more. I’m also sold on the shim-under-tappet design cylinder arrangement Suzuki has applied. That in itself tells me this bike is no joke and can be revved hard and long for some serious fun.

Below are the engine and chassis specs that prove this bike has been given a rebirth and a place in the spotlight for 2006.

New 1783cc, 4-valve DOHC, 54 degree, liquid-cooled, fuel injected V-Twin engine designed for strong throttle response and quick acceleration

Massive 112mm bore and 90.5mm stroke utilizing huge 112mm forged aluminum alloy pistons with short skirts, and cut away sides riding on chrome moly steel connecting rods.

Unique new two-stage cam drive system creates a compact cylinder head design and reduces overall engine height and creates a lower center of gravity.

Each bore is lined with Suzuki's race proven SCEM (Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material) for optimum heat transfer, tighter piston-to-cylinder clearances and reduced weight.

A compact dry sump lubrication system SASS (Suzuki Advanced Sump System) provides reduced engine height, a lower crankshaft position and lower center of gravity.

Five-speed transmission features carefully selected gear ratios for comfortable cruising in a variety of riding situations.

Three-piece airbox uses dual intakes with 9.5 liters of internal volume working through a pleated fabric air cleaner element.

The 2-into1-into2 stainless steel chromed exhaust system features Suzuki's digitally controlled SET (Suzuki Exhaust Tuning) system for optimum engine performance and powerful V-Twin sound.

Electronic fuel injection system features the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve system (SDTV) with 56mm throttle bodies - maintains optium air velocity for smooth low-to-mid range throttle response.

A new Idle Speed Control (ISC) system improves cold starting and stabilizes engine idle speed in various conditions.

Dual spark plug per cylinder ignition system is controlled by the powerful 32 bit ECM for improved combustion effeciency and reduced exhaust emissions.

Race proven front brake system includes radial mounted four piston front calipers and 310mm front brake rotors. Rear brake system includes a dual piston caliper and 275mm rear disc.

Chassis Frame
High-tensile double cradle steel frame is built to comfortably handle all the power and torque while delivering agile handling and a plush smooth ride.

Spiral spoke cast aluminum alloy wheels measure a 3.50 x 18 inch up front and a massive 8.50 x 18 inch rear tire wearing a huge 240mm rear Dunlop radial tire.

The M109R features a muscular, innovative and stylish new look of high performance with long sleek flowing lines and a powerful V-Twin engine.

A sleek wide fuel tank with 5.1 gallon fuel capacity that flows into integrated side covers, a comfortable low seat and stylish radiator cowl.

A streamlined headlight cover carrying a unique trapezoidal shaped multi-reflector H4 halogen headlight and a maintanance free LED tail light built into the tail section.

A handlebar mounted digital tachometer and LED indicator lights flow nicely with the tank mounted analog speedometer and LCD odometer, dual tripmeters, fuel gauge and clock, which I might add is the most unique setup that will get plenty of attention.

Inverted cartridge forks with 46mm stanchion tubes proved an aggressive front end look with 5.12 inches of wheel travel.

A cast aluminum alloy swingarm works with a progressive shock linkage and a preload adjustable single rear shock delivering 4.66 inches of wheel travel working through a shaft drive system.

Suzuki also offers a 12-month unlimited mileage warranty on the M109R.

So as you can see, the new Boulevard M109R is for real and will not only turn heads, but will also get you down the road quicker, cleaner and with one of the best looking stances I’ve seen in a long time.

For additional information on this bike, check out the 2006 Suzuki Boulevard M109R spec page in the Cover Page Reviews section of this issue.

B-safe out there; especially if you’re riding a new M109R.

Dave Miller

When Curtis Fisher of MidAmerica PowerSports Plus in Independence, Missouri asked if we'd like to road test their new 2005 MZ 1000S we jumped at the chance. I mean, how often does a dealer hand you the keys to a new bike and ask you to take it out for a week, run it through its paces, then bring it back and tell them what you think?

Sport or Touring?

If you're unfamiliar with MZ you're probably not alone. Although its German heritage dates back to the early 1900s, MZ is relatively new to the United States, with the first MZ 1000S being introduced late in 2004. Conceived in the award winning Naumann Design Studio, this unique bike, with its Stealth Fighter look and sexy European flair, fits into a category of sport touring that no other manufacturer has dared to enter. Typically, sport touring bikes are valued for their contrasts to pure sport bikes in terms of comfort, two-up riding, wind protection, and luggage capacity.

Rarely are sport touring bikes rated on the sport criteria but are routinely issued a pass when it comes to performance, suspension, handling, and other attributes by which pure sporting machines are strictly graded. Thus, MZ 1000S boldly ventures into the sporting category by exceeding most criteria for which far more powerful bikes are known. On the touring side of the equation, the MZ meets all the typical weekender requirements. The 1000S is more sport than tour but is able to bridge the gap with few compromises that would concern the discerning rider.

The chart shows a quick look at how the 1000S rates for both the Sport and Touring criteria we used for this test. With the exception of horsepower, the 1000S comes close to perfect on the sport side. The windshield lifts the air over your helmet cleanly so there is little wind buffeting at high speed. When tucked in through the corners the feel of the controls is superior. Handling, suspension, and braking are all excellent. The large tachometer is easy to read at a glance and the shifting is positive throughout the abundant power band. For long touring the lack of detachable hard bags, the less-than-upright riding stance, the vibration in the mirrors, and the speedometer error bring down the Touring scores, although at a 96% and 88% relative satisfaction index the MZ is still impressive.

MZ History

Beginning in 1906, Motorradwerk Zschopau-MZ has had a long history of contributions to motorcycling and at the end of the 1920's, under the brand DKW was the world’s largest motorcycle producer. The factory led the way in the 175cc and 250cc classes and enjoyed a hard-fought rivalry with another little start-up brand that went by the name of Bavarian Motor Werks—or BMW for short. World War II saw the factory dedicated to machinery for the Third Reich, and it wasn't until 1949 that the factory (then in Communist East Germany) turned out the IFA-DKW RT 125 and returned to the racing podium. In 1953, the Company reorganized under the German Democratic Republic (GDR) political system as VEB Motorradwerk Zschopau, or MZ for short.

Two names famous in motorcycle engineering are MZ's Walter Kaaden and fellow engineer and racer, Ernst Degner. Together they changed the face of competition forever. Kaaden developed the modern day expansion chamber for two strokes and made them competitive winners against the four-stroke designs of the day. Degner brought this body of knowledge to Suzuki when he defected from East Germany to Japan in 1960. Suzuki won its first World Championship in 1961 and in the years following Yamaha won, both borrowing heavily from technology hewn by Kaaden.

Throughout the 60s MZ continued to ship record numbers of two-stroke singles throughout East Germany and Soviet Block countries, as well as to evolving and Third World nations. They also managed to rack up a series of victories at the International Six-Day Trials. In total, MZ brought home 13 World Championships in the postwar era. In 1974, after manufacturing more than one million postwar motorcycles, MZ entered the US market. In the mid 80s German reunification spelled the end for MZ’s government funding when the GDR economy collapsed. MuZ was the name chosen by the Company when resurrected by the Malaysian group Hong Leong in 1996. The first successes were the Yamaha 660-powered Baghira and Scorpion. In 1999, the Company regained its original marque of MZ as well as a twenty million dollar investment for the new 1000S, funded by the parent company. The award winning 1000S became available in Europe in 2003 and then arrived on US shores in late 2004. MZ has placed a sizable investment in the US market and the new 1000S is the foundation of their future in the western hemisphere.

Styling Perspectives

In 2003, Peter Naumann, the designer of the striking 1000S, was awarded the prestigious International Forum Design (iF) Silver Award for the project. The iF Awards are coveted by world leaders in product design and reflect a manufacturer's commitment to innovation and willingness to take on competitors. MZ has certainly stepped forward with a bold, angular, and highly functional design poised with an aggressive mantis-like nuance: slightly sinister yet curiously inviting. At rest, projector beam headlights create the impression that there exists a soul within whose possibilities beckon.

Studies exist that attempt to quantify beauty; indeed, many industries believe they have narrowed it down to a finite set of rules. Product styling is always a subjective exercise, and after gazing at the MZ for a protracted period (an easy thing to do), the profile reveals a Fibonacci-like spiral overlaid from the handlebars to the notched tail that reveals the perfect blend of beauty with symmetry and artistic flair with genius. When we interpret beauty, shapes like the 1000S are as organic as a conch shell lying on the beach or as complex as a print from M.C. Escher, where the more you look the more you discover in the design.

Engine Tech

When grading on pure sport bike attributes, the 1000S motor is an example of how the world's finest motorcycles are about the total package not just high horsepower at the crankshaft. The MZ 1000S is powered by a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, parallel twin 998cc engine that was designed in-house. This engine is truly unique in its design and execution. The twin cylinder power plant is narrow and the over-square cylinders are canted forward 40°. The valve train is a chain driven DOHC, with a four-valve-per-cylinder set-up with 40mm intakes and 32mm exhaust. The tail mounted Sagem ECU controls the injectors for the dual 52mm throttle bodies and supplies highly predictable throttle response. MZ engineers started their design from a clean slate in a Computer Aided Design and modeling environment with numbers run on strength and performance before a case was cast or machined. The engineering goals were to make the motor an integral part of the handling and balance of the machine not just a power plant with huge horsepower numbers. Ease of maintenance was also important and that theme dominates the design of this motor as well as the whole bike. The cases split horizontally, the transmission is a cassette type, the clutch is on the left-hand side of the motor, and the alternator is on the right side with the drive.

By traditional sport bike design standards everything seems backwards. However, after looking closely at how both short and long-term maintenance labor is reduced you can't help but marvel at the forethought and simplicity that has gone into the 1000S engine design.

As the above photo reveals, the compact engine has a counterbalancer to dampen out the 180° crankshaft. The cassette transmission can be easily serviced by removing six bolts and pulling it from the engine cases as a complete unit. The alternator runs in the engine oil and the flywheel is attached to the right-hand side of the crankshaft. The starter sits above the free gear wheel and engages through the alternator gear. All ancillary and main gear teeth are straight cut to decrease friction and the telltale whirring can be heard when the engine is at idle.

The twin cylinder design contributes to the high amount of torque in the low to mid range. Maximum torque of 58 ft/lbs measured at the rear wheel at 7000 RPM, and when accelerating on through the power band never dropped with a sharp dive as redline approached.

Transmission and Clutch

The cassette design harks back to MZ's history of innovative racing design. Those who choose to race these bikes will enjoy some of the same benefits many MotoGP bikes have when it comes to track changes. On the practical side, any labor will be much less should a gear ever need to be replaced (which judging by the overall quality of the MZ, is not likely). I also noticed that the transmission was very tight and shifted extremely positive in the taller gears. The lower gears did shift a bit harder than I expected but is most likely due to the low miles on this bike, and after break-in should loosen up. The hydraulic clutch system works great and I was impressed by the clutch pull. It worked without incident and was very easy to use in traffic. The clutch uses a reinforced inner braided line to reduce fade and expansion.


The front forks are 43mm fully adjustable and inverted Marzocchi (Mar-Zo-kee), which are at the high end of suspension systems for today's high performance sport bikes. The front forks handled bumps, potholes, and tight corners very well. At the rear of the machine Finite Element Method (FEM) Simulation techniques were employed to test the stress characteristics of the massive aluminum alloy swingarm. It is tied to a single, fully adjustable, Sachs rear shock, offset to the left of the machine with a large knob for a 25 click preload adjustment, and an easy-to-find knurled ring at the connection point is for rebound dampening. Finding the ultimate setting for my ride was a breeze.

Both of these systems worked extremely well during normal and aggressive riding, and the suspension handles anything you throw at it and maintains its superior dampening characteristics over ripples.


The wheels are a patented split design for low rotating mass, and the large 320mm Nissin front rotors with four-piston Nissin calipers perform extremely well. The gold finish on the calipers and disc adds a nice touch, and the front and rear brake lines are metal reinforced to reduce brake fade and expansion. I was equally impressed when panic braking at 60 mph and was able to stop quite efficiently without locking the front wheel. The rear single-pot Nissin system offered excellent feedback when diving into a corner and was steady under trail braking throughout the apex. In fact, the feedback of the braking system was substantial as the ride continued.

Instrumentation & Controls

The instrument panel is easy to read and the clock is a useful tool, especially when you've told your significant other what time you will be home. The digital readout is great and offers several modes and functions. For those of you who have a problem setting the time on your microwave, the clock instructions in the user manual will walk you through it without fail. The temperature gauge is an easy-to-read bar where 2-6 bars indicate the proper operating range. There is a group of lights for systems self- test and ECU fault indication. The trip odometer is reset easily.

One drawback I noticed was the lack of a fuel gauge. There is a warning light but no actual gauge, which is what I prefer. I also noticed a discrepancy in the speedometer. The turn signals and high beam work well with the passing high beam indicator on the left control box. One other item worth mentioning is that the front brake master cylinder is located at the five o’clock position on the tachometer side, which might be in the line of sight for some riders.


Throughout my test, the actual road temperature was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the Metzler Sportec M-1 tires reacted extremely well. The twin spar parallel design of the frame is as attractive as it is strong. The 4130 Chrome-moly perimeter tubes encompass the engine head and the look is distinctive and bold. The steering geometry at 24.5-degrees of fork angle with a 98mm trail offers a light feel, and the 1000S always felt as though it was on a rail as I snaked through the twisties around Lake Jacomo. The handling was phenomenal and I never felt like it wanted to fall into a turn or go anywhere other than where I pointed it.

Functional Styling

I was very impressed by this bike and its styling is exceptional. Because of the rich paint job it's hard to tell the gas tank is actually made of plastic, so there are no rust issues. By removing two screws, the tank can be rotated upwards like a hood on a car to access the air cleaner, battery, and other vital engine components. The engine will run in this position enabling tuning without an auxiliary gas tank. My legs fit tightly in the sliced recesses on each side of the tank, which enabled me to hug the bike firmly through the turns. The projector headlights look and work great. The running lights are also a terrific idea and I like that you can have one headlight on or both, if you prefer. The tail section is clean and has a distinctive bird tail design with a taillight that reflects the body. The body is European race inspired with quick release Deutz fasteners securing the side panels. With a ground seat height of 32.5 inches I was able to touch flatfooted, but this might pose a problem for shorter folks. Positioned just above the tire, the rear fender controls debris and has a clean integrated look with the rear shock and swingarm.

Riding Impression

After starting the bike the first time I was immediately impressed by how quickly the engine achieved normal operating temperature. This is great when you don’t have a lot of time for warm-up. My test rides revealed that any engine vibration is dampened effectively due to a counterbalance shaft located in front of the crankshaft. The engine comes alive from 4000 rpm all the way to the 9400-rpm redline. Below 3000 RPM the engine is crisp but a bit jerky. I expected the engine to be sluggish at the bottom-end but it was barely noticeable. I really enjoyed the torque from 1500 to 4000 RPM, which allows you to raise the front wheel easily off the ground.

Overall, the engine seems to be the right combination for this twin set-up. With less horsepower than the typical liter bike (97 True HP™ at the rear wheel*) the parallel twin is narrow, with less rotating mass than the typical in-line four, resulting in reduced gyroscopic effects when leaning into a curve at high revs. The cylinders are canted 40° forward to provide a higher front wheel bias translating a solid feel through the handlebars under hard braking at high revs. Power transitions at the apex are predictable with the steering response light yet firm. Simply put, the design of the motor contributes positively to the handling while the lower HP doesn’t detract from the capabilities of the machine. Due to inclement weather I was unable to make it to the drag strip to get an accurate ¼ mile time; however, the specifications show that this bike is capable of hitting 146 mph at redline. I have taken this engine to the rev limiter and the motor pulled hard all the way to redline.

Cruising in fifth and sixth gears would normally be a detriment but that was not the case with this bike. I used all six gears and was impressed with the power that sixth gear provided. The bike is well built, handles beautifully, and is extremely well balanced. Being able to throw the bike into corners and lean at angles like a professional road racer, pound for pound you are getting the best suspension and riding position you can expect from a company that pays attention to creating a well-rounded product. The handlebar position is 3.1 inches above the fuel tank. The handlebars are adjustable by rotating a few degrees inwards. I was very comfortable riding this bike for several hours at a time and didn't feel like I was reaching over the tank. I enjoyed the comfortable seat, and although the windshield is shorter than on most Japanese models it offered great wind resistance when the occasional semi-trailer passed me by on the two-lane roads. The rider’s foot pegs have rubber tops, which helps reduce vibration and are positioned in a comfortable place.

The oval brushed aluminum mufflers give a distinctive sound that only comes from a twin cylinder motor. The engine torque and power is very good and begs to be powered out of the turns.

Touring Impressions

The 1000S will ride for about 170 miles at a steady 70-75 mph before the reserve light comes on. For a Sport/Touring bike that falls on the sport side the ergonomics of the bike are exceptional for long distances. The position of the handlebars in relation to the foot pegs is quite comfortable. Those riders over six feet tall will find the plastic tank sliced so the knees tuck in perfectly. Your body is leaned over a bit more than the BMW 1150RS or the Triumph Sprint ST, but there aren’t any significant stresses that show up in the lower back of a reasonably limber 35-50 year old rider.

The windscreen directs the air completely over the top of your helmet and the front end slices through it like a knife. Hundreds of hours of wind tunnel testing went into designing the front end on this bike. Like the Stealth Fighter, the MZ 1000S is at the intersection where form meets functionality. The style of this bike is a carefully engineered exercise in aerodynamics and the properties of laminar flow.

Under braking there is no excessive strain on your wrists, and getting off the bike after a full tank’s worth of highway is surprisingly easy on the knees. Although hard luggage is not available at this time a soft luggage kit is available for the 1000S, and the attachment points are conveniently accessible in the spacious storage area under the passenger seat. While the 'S’ designation is indicative of a Sport Touring bike the MZ in its current form is well suited to weekend and longer trips, but those transcontinental rides may have to wait for the 'ST’ Touring model to follow.