Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Round up: New Motorcycles and Gadgets to watch 2016

G’day! Last year I had the pleasure, albeit a brief one, of meeting up with The Experimental Ghost and his Mrs, the Pillion in a Million IRL while I was up his way hawking my moto-art, and we just clicked, started yackin' like a couple of old school buddies who hadn’t seen each other in a million years.

Good peoples.
Back in the 2014 calendar year I wrote a guest post for his website about bikes that ground my gears and it went well, so I asked nicely if I could appear in another one, and being a sucker for punishment, and lover of all things motorcycles of course he agreed!

Round-up posts are great fun, and often you can uncover stuff that people haven't seen as yet, so I thought I’d write about some of the exciting new bikes and gadgets that I’ve been keenly eyeing off in 2016. It's a bit of a long one, so grab a cuppa.

New Helmet Technology

Skully AR-1

Well, not exactly NEW for 2016, the Skully AR-1 seems to have been *coming* for an eternity when it launched an Indiegogo CrowdFunding campaign in 2014.

But lately I have been seeing more real world user tests and the PR team has obviously kicked into high gear, as they prepare to really launch the thing properly. Many have complained about the wait time, and of course it is a super expensive bit of kit for a lid, but what a lid it is. Imagine for a moment having eyes in the back of your head... EG-4-skully

For those not in the know, the Skully AR-1 is a world first technological breakthrough in helmets, because it features not only a rear-view system, but a HUD (Head Up Display) giving you almost 360 degree vision.

It gives you speed readings, turn-by-turn GPS, a 180 degree blind spot camera, built in intercom and headphones (in-helmet audio), and perhaps my favourite thing a photochromic visor which changes tint depending on the light. It sounds amazing. I want one, but I'm an early adopter who has been burnt once or twice before, so for now I sit and wait, unlike the lucky people below.

Catch up on all the goss and read/watch some of the first impressions video on the Skully Website Here.

 **Update** At the time of posting for the Experimental Ghost, I did not know that BMW had produced a similar concept and presented it at the geek show to end all geek shows this year. The annual CES - Consumer Electronics Show - held each year in Las Vegas. Shout out to my online pal Matthew from Poland for sending me this next video. How cool is this?

BMW Head-Up Display Helmet


I've long thought that is Skully don't hit the road really soon and make some serious progress in the delivery department, then someone else might just beat them to it! Could it be BMW?


Alas at the time of writing it is only a concept, but nonetheless it appears to have had significant R&D dollars put into it, so maybe an official announcement isn't too far away? [

Exciting developments in helmet technology, no matter which way you look at it.

Sena Noise Cancelling Helmet

This is a bit of breakaway from the original post as I decided it was more worthy than a mention in another par below.

Sena have created world first release with a Noise Cancelling Helmet. It almost needs a whole post of its own dedicated to it, but suffice to say for now that it is a carbon fibre lightweight streamlined helmet, with an intelligent Noise-control system built in, like the ad says, "Ride like the wind without listening to it". Genius.

Their website goes into a lot more technical detail about how it is achieved, personally I just cannot believe how far new helmet technology has come in the last 10 years, let alone 20+ years ago when I first donned a real road lid.

Unbelievable, yet true.  Now if only it fits my 'arai only' shaped peanut.

New motorcycles

2016 Harley Davidson Roadster

Harley have released a lot of new bikes in the past 12 months but the one that has caught my eye the most for whatever reason, could even be called a hipster bike, and I ain’t no hipster. It’s the 2016 Harley Davidson Roadster.

 I do like it’s styling, kind of looks part Cafe Racer, part muscle bike, part cruiser - it’s an odd beast to be sure and probably one of those bikes that polarises people on first look, but at a touch under $20K in AUD I am sure it is going to be a big seller for them. Beard waxing, tattooed head, cardigan wearing Converse One Stars kind of big.


It’s a Sportster basically, features their 1200cc Twin Cam engine, 42mm inverted front forks, dual-disc front brakes, new dual gauges a classic peanut style tank plus a chopped rear fender. I reckon it looks tuff, aggressive. I’d put on in my shed if I won lotto. It would never get a brown leather seat though. Check out some of the specs and pretty pictures on their Website here.

Husqvarna 701 Supermoto

I love a good squirt on a massive single cylinder dirt bike with road wheels, what is commonly known as a Supermotard.

The Husqvarna 701 Supermoto has a jaw-dropping dry weight of only 145kg and close to 70hp, the 701 is the quintessential *completely f**ckin bonkers* in a neat road-ready package minus some blinkers and a few mirrors. Pfft. Stuff. Who needs it?

 It’s the stuff boys dreams are made of. It’s made to dominate the track and isn’t really road register-able as far as I understand in Australia.

In fact, when I tried to find out how to try one I was scoffed at. “Money down matey, I’ll let you know if I can get you one” was the dealer response. Apparently they are going to be as rare as hens teeth and if you want one, you need to pay up front for it and join the waiting list of eager moto-maniacs who will beat you over the head for it first. I still want one. Badly.

BMW R1200RT

This one may take a few of my readers by surprise, but as I get older I do start to seek more refinement in my motorcycles, and after getting a new R1200GS Triple Black myself late last year, I realised just how good the new Water Cooled BMW Boxer engine is. It ain’t no slug to be sure!

And as far as refinement and luxury goes, you just cannot overlook the massively huge BMW R1200RT. A lot of their new line up really appeal to me actually but I’ve had the benefit of being able to ride an older version of this bike and have come to understand just how dammed good they are. Do not underestimate this bike if you come across it in the mountains or the canyons as you yanks say. They haul serious ass.

 Yes, they are BIG.

Like HUMUNGOUSLY big, but it all disappears the minute you engage the slipper smooth gear box and purr off into the twilight.

This bike would be a dream to own and the list of refinements and accoutrements available would make any moto-fan gasp in awe of just what you can get on a really expensive cruise liner of a motorcycle these days. Cornering ABS (jamb on the brakes in the middle of a corner and it won’t stand up - jaw:desk)

Everything you can think of in terms of safety and gadgetry comes standard; ABS, RDC (Tyre Pressure Monitoring - this is so cool on my GS), ASC - Automatic Stability Control, ESA II - Electronic Suspension Adjustment, Heated SEATS (both rider and pillion), heated grips (of course!), extensive on board computer wizard, Power sockets, Radio and Bluetooth built in to name but a few.

If you want to retire and adventure before dementia, don’t get a freakin Winnebago, get one of these and take off and see the world, I mean, really see it. At a touch over $30k AUD I’d love to retire on one. I can’t go past talking BMW and not mention one of the most insane things to be released in 2016 now, can I?

BMW S1000XR

As a previous owner of the S1000R (the naked version of their top shelf Sportsbike the S1000RR) I can tell you that this engine is BONKERS, off the hook, out of control but super safe and in control) FAST.

With the success of the incredible S1000RR and the HP-4 Superbike, it made perfect sense for them to make a crossover variant of that same engine, and along came the new dual sport S1000XR.

I was so excited about this bike, I was ready to trade my S1000R in a heartbeat. And then I rode it and it kinda didn’t work for me.

I didn’t like particular things. Fussy things. Not really important things, but important to me things. The handlebars had a really annoying vibration at about the National Speed limit of 100kmhr. The sub-frae looked like an after thought. The luggage looked stupid, I hated the side stand and how far it leaned over and, well, i already had the S1000R and I just ain’t a super bike kind of guy. I love big twins, what can I say?

One ride later and I had ordered the R1200GS Triple Black, but not to alarm you about the S1000XR at all, because it took out some top awards on some big name publications this year, and I am but one whiney prick who didn’t really fall in love with its insane IL4 power plant and upright stance with big wide bars. It really should have won me over, but it just didn’t.

It’s a fully loaded weapon with all the gadgets you want or need including the amazing Shift Assist Pro which allows you to shift up AND down without using your clutch (I have it on the GS too - nana nananah!) etc etc. It’ll set you back just under $30k AUD so again, we are talking top shelf ridiculous money here. Lucky for some eh?

Ducati Multistrada Enduro

A fan of big twins I hear you say? Why aren’t you riding a Ducati you ask? Perhaps you should read what happened to me on my old Multistrada here but alas, the allure is still there.

I still miss that distinctive Ducati rumble. I can live without the dry clutch of my old Hypermotard, but that Multistrada engine is pure heaven on two wheels lemme tell you.

So when they said they were releasing a new Endure version, I lost my shit.

With 1198.4cc of Testastretta and variable valve timing, L-Twin cylinder4 valve per cylinder, dual spark, desmodromic liquid cooled goodness, this is a bike that could really steal me back to Ducati. One day, in like four years or something, or when I get a real job or something. Until then I am proper broke after spending every last red cent I had on getting the GS.

But back to the big Duc. They (Ducati) knew they were onto something with their best selling Multistrada, and they also knew they were losing a butt-tonne of sales to BMW GS owners. Because the Multi was never really a dirt capable bike. Sure I rode mine like a nutcase on the dirt and never killed myself, but the GS is just SO much more capable it isn’t comparable. Still have had a few Multis pass me on the dirt too, but come on we all know it’s not the bike, but the rider don’t we?

So anyway, along comes the new Multistrada Enduro.

Not that much different looking to the old Multistrada but with a spoked 19” front wheel and a tubeless 17” rear, it’s also kitted out with what seems to be much more dirt capability. Bash plates. More clearance, proper very BMW looking panniers, heated grips, a centre stand and all the gizmos you’d expect including a very nice full colour LCD screen. Cheap it aint, released here it also ain’t yet, but I expect rave reviews and most likely a few BMW crossover converts to follow in its wake.

I most certainly will be lining up for a test ride! And I believe they are not that far away. Stay tuned, Daily Bikers will most likely have some sort of first ride impressions to devour in the near future.

Honda Africa Twin

It would be remiss of me and my big twin infatuation not to mention the Honda Africa Twin that hit our shores in 2016. This bike, which seems to have just quietly launched without a whole bunch of fanfare, is a bike with so much to offer it should’ve have been shouted from the treetops in my book.

I always liked the old Africa Twin and often pined to add one to my collection but alas, it just isn’t possible really, the fact that I snuck a second bike into the shed, a DRZ400E that I converted into a Supermotard was bad enough, now I barely ever ride it so a third bike is just completely off the radar.

But if the pull to do some real adventure riding was stronger, and perhaps I was a bit younger and definitely a lot fitter, I would be seriously looking at this weapon of a bike.

A 998cc liquid cooled 4-stoke 8-valve Parallel Twin, this bike sings like a proper twin should. Again with its polarising looks it kinda gets you or it doesn’t. It almost looks like a Rally bike set for the heights of Dakar, but perhaps that is over-cooking it just a touch. I don’t know that much about rally riding, except that those guys are TRULY NUTS. Nonetheless you cannot deny it’s obvious off road prowess with a massive 21” front wheel and clearance for days, it just begs to get airborne and tackle some of the toughest terrain you could throw at it. It also comes in an up spec version that has push button gear changes which leaves me wondering how the hell that works, and I haven’t been able to score a test ride so maybe I will never know. But it still deserves a mention here. Gawk away at the spec sheet here.

New Gear

Photochromic Visors

Nothing so new, but still an exciting development that you may not have heard of, so it too gets a mention; the amazing, photochromic visor.

Similar technology, or exactly the same as that which is built into the aforementioned Skully AR-1, photochromic visors blow my tiny mind. In short they react to sunlight. So if you are riding at night your visor stays perfectly clear, but in broad daylight it automatically tints to a darker shade, as if by magic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSsHFjwpn9s

So you can do away with your sunglasses and you can also forget about internal drop down visors which add to weight and guess what, don’t pass DOT and SNELL level certification anyway.

My new Arai Signet-Q has another take on this with an external drop down visor which I think is equally amazing, you can read about my impressions on that lid here. For a demo of how a photochromic visor works check out this video by Bell.

Sean Prism-Lite Bluetooth Audio and Video Action Camera

And lastly on my rather long list of excited ramblings about shiny new gadgets is a shiny new action camera, or a few of them actually.

 Last year’s release of the Sena Prism was a bit of a breakthrough in my book, but alas I have not had the money to simply lash out and ‘try it’. So my excitement and enthusiasm is looking fondly from afar. Priced fairly in Australia (around the $350+ mark) for what you get the Sena Prism Lite is an all-in-one action camera.

 All in one you say? Yup. It is not only a direct competitor to the infamous Go-Pro, but it also has bluetooth audio capability so you can hook it up directly to your existing in helmet intercom/bluetooth speaker system and RECORD audio. It’s a motovloggers dreamboat!

With a massive array of impressive attachment devices you have to see it to believe it. Not only did they take the action cam to the next level with Bluetooth Audio and Video recording, they even got smarter and released a tiny, teeny weeny version that is water-proof right out of the box, and as if that wasn’t enough they went out again and created a little Prism Tube version.

Sena. These guys know their stuff and are renowned industry wide for their exceptional bluetooth headsets, which pair neatly with these cameras so that all of your expected functionality is available from your existing systems.

But don’t be disheartened, if like me, you have already invested in a bluetooth headset system for your lid, it will also work with that. Huzzah!

Head on over to the Sena Website for more tech details on these incredible and delicious little morsels of modern technology and if you have had any first hand experience with any of them I’d be delighted to strike up a conversation with you in the comments below.

That’s a wrap

In the meantime, head on over to Adam’s blog, otherwise known as the Experimental Ghost, and hit the Subscribe button, he’s a good fella to follow. Over & Out.