An exclusive conversation with Motus President Lee Conn.

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Like many of you, we at Martin Moto have anxiously awaited the arrival of the stunning American V4 Sport Tourers from Motus. What’s not to be excited about? A comfy V4 powered sport tourer with a 100% American Pedigree manufactured in the great state of Alabama. We’ve seen, touched, and heard (but not ridden) both the MST and MST-R versions and we definitely like what we see.

Lee Conn. President and Co-Founder at Motus.

Lee Conn. President and Co-Founder at Motus.

As a Motus dealer we recently had the opportunity to corral Lee Conn, President and Co-Founder at Motus and ask him a few questions that have long been on our mind. Here’s some of what he had to say.

 

Q.   It’s reasonable to assume that your own personal riding experiences would impact the product decisions made during the course of Motus development. Can you tell us a bit about your own riding history?

A.   Sure. As far as bikes, I’ve had a bunch over the years: ’66 HD Sprint, Yamaha SECA 750, Guzzi Sport 1100 (carb), 1992 Sportster 883 (later bored to 1200), Fat Boy, Road King, V-Rod, Honda RC51, Aprilia RSV1000RR, Honda CBR600RR track bike, 1929 Douglas 600, 1928 HD Peashooter, 1926 Indian Prince 350, Yamaha YSR’s, 1986 GSXR 750, etc.

But, it isn’t all about the bikes, it’s about the ride. We live in Birmingham, at the very tail of the Appalachians, and love to ride up into the mountains for a few days (with or without our wives). At this point in our lives, we like to go fast, but we also like to go far. That’s why we built the MST’s that are comfortable sportbikes with accommodations for touring. They’re great on the unavoidable highway stretches, but really shine in the twisties.

072313-2014-motus-mst-04-583x389Q.   Early on, did you do substantial market research? If so, would it be possible to share what you know about the typical Motus purchase intender?

A.   Since the start, we’ve had a clear vision of what our motorcycles are, but yes, we’ve kept learning all along the way including a recent comprehensive poll of fans considering the purchase of a Motus. Early on, research helped confirm we were on track with the concept and helped dial in the optimal feature set- things like wheelbase, engine configuration, fuel tank size, wet weight, etc. Later research helped us understand our customers better in terms of their other hobbies, what they ride, drive, overall demographics, etc.

DSCN7633Q.   For a couple of years now, the motorcycle journalist community has held up bikes like the BMW K1600GT, Triumph Trophy, and Yamaha FJR as benchmarks in the sport-tourer community. What competitive products did you utilize as key benchmarks during the Motus Development process? Why?

A.   While we benchmarked certain performance characteristics and specs of many bikes, we mostly focused on building the best possible machine for the kind of riding we love to do. We studied bikes considered to be the most comfortable, most sporty, etc, but in the end, the Motus was designed to be crazy fun from 20-90mph and comfortable for long days of riding. Almost as important, we wanted our bikes to have a specific, unique character that is simultaneously bad-ass and refined. A real hot rod, but comfortable and practical.

072313-2014-motus-mstr-14-583x389Q.   Tourers and Sport-Tourers are often quite heavily outfitted with accessories. Have you actively worked with any aftermarket firms to facilitate the fitment of popular after-sale “farkles” like windscreens, luggage, seats, exhaust systems, etal?

A.   Great question. I’ve spent plenty of cash over the years fixing annoyances with mass produced bikes, so this is near and dear to me. Why not just design, engineer and equip build bikes with components that are not intended to be replaced immediately? Seems really wasteful to throw out parts when the manufacturer could have just offered a better product from the factory. At Motus, we don’t cut corners to save every penny. We engineer and build the best possible components to make the riding and ownership experience the best it can be. So, yeah, we’ve worked closely on the front end of the design/ engineering cycles with great companies like Sargent, Akropovic, Helibars, National Cycle, BST, OZ Racing, etc. Using the finest components makes our bikes more expensive, but when we can really discuss the value and attention to detail we are adding with this approach, most riders “get it”.

DSCN7635Q.  Because we all know that it can take literally years to bring products to market, are you currently looking at future Motus variants which could possibly appear in the marketplace 3, 4, or five years from now? Perhaps a “naked” version or a pure sportbike?

A.   We cannot confirm, nor deny other ongoing projects, but for now, we are focused on building comfortable American sportbikes.

motus-mstr-salt-01Q.   As you move close to production, perhaps one thing that will be on the mind of buyers is insurance. Have you been in contact with the insurance industry or any of the leading motorcycle insurers like Progressive, Foremost, or Geico regarding rating classifications or rates?

A.   Yes, Dairyland Cycle Insurance has approved Motus and we’ll get approved by other insurers prior to motorcycles shipping to the public. It’s a relatively simple process.

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Dennis Martin astride the Motus MST-R

Q.   Motorcycle warranties seem to be all over the map. The Japanese offerings are most often one year, Triumph and others are two, and BMW is three years or 36,000 miles. Can you share what you anticipate for Motus Warranty Coverage?

A.   At Motus we’ll offer a 24 month warranty with unlimited miles.

072313-2014-motus-mst-10-583x389Q.   You’ve recently spent literally thousands of miles in the saddle while riding the Motus production validation units from coast to coast. In that time I’m sure you’ve developed some very strong feelings about the bike. When potential customers finally get the opportunity to ride a Motus for the first time, what is the one thing that you anticipate will most “surprise and delight” them?

A.   People comment on how satisfying a Motus is to ride. On the street, many high performance bikes can be more frustrating than fun, with power that is not really accessible on typical roads. We’ve worked hard to make the Motus excel for its intended use and from 20-90mph, there isn’t much around like it.

072313-2014-motus-mst-r-fAs you can see from Lee’s thoughtful answers, the gang at Motus has a clear vision of the bike they intend to bring to market and is currently focused on that singular task. Lee’s  a real rider who has surrounded himself with a team of like minded individuals and we all look forward to the time, hopefully in the next few months, when we can see, ride, and purchase production versions of the MST and MST-R. Hats off to Motus for all their hard work in bringing this mega cool product to the streets of the USA! Stay tuned! When there are further developments we’ll be prepared to immediately share.

 

 

 

Cannon Ball Baker Centennial Ride Across America!

As motorcyclists, most of us realize that riding is a key that that opens the door to any number of life’s great adventures. Now I’ve managed to get myself invited to participate in yet another.

But first a little history. A century ago, in 1914, America’s first transcontinental route, The Lincoln Highway was just a year old. The US auto industry was already spitting out about  a half million cars per year and area east of the Mississippi was pretty well served by improved roadways. West of the big muddy it was a very different story. “Roads” often meant little more than trails. Fuel was only marginally available, if at all. And driving from coast to coast was an adventure of the first magnitude. Imagine the challenge of making that trip on a motorcycle.

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Enter a young fellow by the name of Erwin Baker. In the spring of 1914 Baker, a motorcycle racer and enthusiast from Indianapolis, Indiana, had already developed a certain reputation for cross country speed records. On the morning of May 3rd of that year he set out from San Diego, California on a 7 hp, twin cylinder Indian bound for the east coast. Just 11 1/2 days later he arrived in New York City. At the time this was the fastest that anyone, in or on anything, had made their way across the continental USA. A New York journalist obviously impressed by his adventure tagged Baker with a nickname of “Cannon Ball,” which stuck with him the rest of his life. Yup, this was THE Cannon Ball Baker!

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1457574_761878573824141_2118851008_nA California friend, Don Emde, who has a pretty substantial racing history himself (suggest you google it) , has spent the past couple of years researching the exact route that Baker followed on his epic ride. To the degree possible, he’s identified every road, trail, and cow path along Baker’s 1914 route. This Saturday, May 3rd, on exactly the 100th anniversary of the Baker trip, Emde and a group of invited riders will roll out of San Diego and head eastward in commemoration of Baker’s 1914 ride. Aboard a variety of modern bikes, the group will duplicate each day of Baker’s ride, with overnight stops at the locations where Baker took his rest following each riding day.

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Lots of roads like this over the first several days through the desert southwest!

So I managed to get invited to participate in this little jaunt and I’ll be heading to San Diego tomorrow. Here’s a few details of the route we’ll be following. Of special interest is that the route takes us through Pennsylvania on Monday and Tuesday, May 12th and 13th with the Tuesday evening overnight stop nearby in Malvern, Pa. Come on out and meet the group! And stay tuned for more details and trip reports as the event plays out!

CANNON BALL CENTENNIAL RIDE ITINERARY

Friday, May 2, 2014 • 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Sign-in / Show & Tell / CBCR bike and vendor displays / Rider’s Meeting • Cycle Visions, 4263 Taylor St., San Diego 92110 (Old Town area of San Diego)

Saturday, May 3, 2014 • 8:00 a.m. Opening ceremonies / group photo at Sunroad Resort Marina, 955 Harbor Island Dr., San Diego 92101. Ride begins at 9:00 a.m. sharp. Destination: Hilton Garden Inn, Yuma , AZ • 6:00 p.m. Yuma Welcome Reception and Ranch BBQ, Yuma Prison Museum, Yuma, AZ – Tickets still available $50 per person.

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Sunday, May 4, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart Hilton Garden Inn for Mesa, AZ.

Monday, May 5, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Socorro, NM.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Santa Fe, NM.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 • 7:30 a.m. Depart for Dodge City, KS.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Kansas City, KS.

Friday, May 9, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for St. Louis via Lexington, MO • 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Lunch for CBCR riders at Donelson’s Cycle in St. Ann, MO. 3:00 p.m. Depart for Greenville, IL.

Saturday, May 10, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Indianapolis, IN.

Sunday, May 11, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will then depart for a quick stop at the Baker family plot at the nearby Crown Hill Cemetery. Destination: Reynoldsburg, OH

Monday, May 12, 2014 • 8:30 a.m. – Ride to the AMA headquarters and Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum for tour of the museum • Depart 10:00 a.m. We have been invited by K&C Cycle, the Yamaha dealer in Hebron, OH to make a coffee stop on our way east out of Columbus on U.S. 40. Depart for Greensburg, PA.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Malvern, PA.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 • 7:30 a.m. – Depart for Manhattan. 11:00-11:30 a.m. Arrive at Battery Park for a patio lunch at the Battery Gardens Restaurant.We will then proceed from Battery Park and ride from Manhattan north to the town of Newburgh. Destination:  Newburgh, NY

Thursday, May 15, 2014 • Motorcyclepedia Museum: 250 Lake St., Newburgh, NY 12550

Learn lots more about the ride at www.cannonballproject.com

 

 

 

Motorcycle Photography – Mr. Inside, Mr Outside.

Each year at Martin Moto, immediately following the widely acclaimed Modern Classics Motorcycle Show (www.modernclassicsbikeshow.com),  we publish a book that serves to document the hundred or so magnificent bikes as seen in our show. Creating that book is a not inconsiderable task and, of course, a key element is the photography performed by our resident photo artist, Joseph Luppino (http://pixelnation.us/) The staging, lighting and overall creation of  Joe’s museum quality shots of the show bikes is facilitated by the professional quality studio that has been created inside the Martin Moto showroom. And static photography of the visually fascinating and detail-rich motorcycles is one key way of capturing the beauty and excitement of the motorcycling sport.

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Joe Luppino at work in the Martin Moto bike studio.

The studio yields shots like this.

Photo work in the studio yields beautiful shots like this.

 

However, static photos are but one way to capture motorcycle imagery. We’ve also had the opportunity to work with other professional photographers who choose to venture beyond the studio in an attempt to capture machines at speed, in their more natural riding environment. Like these shots courtesy of our New Zealand friend Bruce Jenkins  (www.brucejenkins.co.nz)

Bonneville Speed Week 2013.

At Speed at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

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Road Racing Kiwi Style.

We’ve had the chance to talk to both of these talented guys and pick their brains about both the similarities and differences in the two approaches. Not surprisingly, its more complicated than simply, Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside. And yet there are similarities. Both artists talk about composition – how to most effectively frame the image. In the studio there are a multitude of angles available. High. Low. Left. Right. and so forth. At the track those same considerations apply but there is SO much more. Which corner? With what background? One bike alone? Several? Lighting, obviously, also comes into play. At the track the challenge is to deal with ever changing natural light. In the studio lighting is a variable that can be controlled and managed. Then there are the camera settings that must be managed – like shutter speed. At the track we may wish to shoot at a high shutter speed in order to “stop” the speeding bike or perhaps we wish to create the illusion of speed by panning and allowing the background to become slightly blurred. Like this example.

Moderate shutter speed with a blurred background yields the illusion of speed.

Moderate shutter speed can yield a blurred background and the illusion of speed.

On the other hand, studio work, by definition, involves stationary objects and camera settings like shutter speed and f-stop can be selected for other considerations like depth of field and level of detail. As seen here. BMW R69s 2013

Another major difference is lens size or magnification. In the studio the bike is never more than 6-8 feet away from the lens. At the track , or in the field, bikes can be quite distant and are, of course, a great deal smaller than cars. And yet, while studio work for magazine covers and such may sometimes require larger format gear, according to Jenkins, “the majority of that sort of work can be shot with same gear that I take to the race tracks.”

The fact is that, while these two guys tend to specialize in either studio work or field work, they each have experience with, and a passion for,  the other discipline. And they both love shooting motorcycles because they are motorcyclists at heart. Bruce’s connection to bikes goes way back.

Likewise for Joe who is a rider of many years’ experience. And both are fascinated by the richness and diversity of technical details to be found in motorcycles as well as the dynamic character of motorcycles at speed, with both riders and bikes offering a much wider range of movement and action than can ever be seen in cars.

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Motorsports photographer (and motorcyclist) Bruce Jenkins “back in the day.”

 

Whether you love motorcycles for their inherent beauty or for their speed, performance, and dynamics there are great photographers ready to capture that feeling and offer you photos that will fuel your enthusiasm. We love bikes for all those reasons and greatly appreciate the variety work of our talented friends in capturing that imagery. And we are hugely supportive of these hard working souls who endeavor every day, each in their own unique way,  to capture the magic that is motorcycling.

 

 

 

Motorcycle Movies. Why We Ride is One of Our New Favorites, But There Are Others !

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Now through Dec 28th, at Martin Moto, we’re offering continuous showings of  Why We Ride. This widely acclaimed feature length film is now in simultaneous (limited) theater and DVD/BluRay release. It’s a contemporary 90 min celebration of the joy of motorcycling as told by the participants. Why We Ride offers great visuals and back-stories from all the the different motorcycling “clans” – from hillclimbs, to dragracing, to insane top speeds at Bonneville and all the nooks and crannies in between. Road riders too! It’s clearly a “don’t miss” for any, and every, motorcycling enthusiast. The gauntlet now being thrown down is this. Is Why We Ride the best motorcycle motorcycle ever? Some have labelled it so, others not so much. For that assessment I’ll let you be the judge. You can seen the theatrical trailer here

And, of course, you can come by Martin Moto and have a look. We even supply the popcorn!

Movies based around motorcycling or motorcycle themes are a hardy perennial in the film world. We offer no real explanation except to surmise that perhaps bikes combine action and danger in a way that holds some elemental appeal to Hollywood producers. And the film-going public.  Likewise for leading men. Did you know that Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, and Anthony Hopkins have all, at one time or another, taken on starring roles as motorcyclists?

Why We Ride may, or may not, ultimately be acclaimed as the best motorcycling movie ever. However, we certainly rank it in our own personal “Top Ten.” We thought we’d share the other nine that are on our list. These are all movies we like. A lot! Here you have ’em, in no particular order.

On SundayWe might as well start with what we view as the the “Big Dog” of motorcycle enthusiast movies, On Any Sunday. This timeless 1971 classic from director Bruce Brown (“Endless Summer”) adopts a documentary format while, like Why We Ride, attempting to blanket the many facets of the motorcycle sport. On Any Sunday does a great job covering the exploits of AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawill, as well as some recreational rider/amateur desert racer by the name of Steve McQueen (who also help to produce the film.) If you’ve never seen it, you’ve missed a lot.

Easy RiderReleased a couple of years earlier than On Any Sunday in 1969, Easy Rider  told the story of a couple of counterculture bikers’ (Director Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda) transcontinental ride, on custom choppers, in search of “America.” A quintessential product of the 60s, Easy Rider gave a great big nod to the “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” feel of the era. In the end, however, it all turns out badly for Captain America, Billy, and their riding buddy “George,” played by a then young Jack Nicholson. Nominated for a couple of Academy Awards, Easy Rider has also earned a place in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry of those films deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Wild oneIn 1947 some bikers kinda tore up Hollister, California and earned global notoriety for themselves, and bikers everywhere, by getting pictures of their “festivities” published in Life magazine. Then, sixty years ago this week, on Dec 30, 1973, Columbia Pictures released The Wild One. Starring Marlon Brando, The Wild One paid homage to the Hollister “riot.” In this imaginative version of the story a dark and brooding Johnny (Brando) and his motorcycle gang, the Black Rebels rough up the fictional town of Wrightsville. Brando’s portrayal of Johnny became an icon for the “black leather” clad biker for decades to come. And Triumph’s got lot’s of play in the film including Johnny’s Thunderbird. Campy but entertaining.

QuadroReleased in 1979, Quadrophenia is a Brit non musical film very loosely based on The Who’s album (and rock opera) of the same name. Set in the mid 60s, Quadrophenia tracks the (mis) adventures of disaffected London “Mod” Jimmy Cooper and his full dresser Lambretta scooter. Like Easy Rider, the film is true to the 60s ethos of “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.” Quadrophenia features the requisite seaside brawl between the Mods and the Rockers as well as a featured role for english musician Sting as The Ace Face, defacto leader of the Mods.  And, of course, scooters for our Mods and proper bikes for the Black Leather and Pompadour sporting Rockers. Entertaining but dark.

Great escapeThe Great Escape isn’t actually a motorcycle movie. Rather, it’s a WWII movie with a motorcycle, or actually a motorcycle ride, as it’s signature scene. Steve McQueen (yeah, him again) plays an allied POW who spends the greater part of the movie scheming an escape from his German captors. Without divulging too much of the story, he manages to end up outside the Stalag walls aboard a German motorcycle (actually a Triumph, badly made-over as a BMW) that he has filched. A chase ensues and between McQueen and his stand in/buddy Bud Ekins, they create both an epic chase but a truly famous jump over some fencing. The movie was one of the the highest grossing film of 1963 and the motorcycle chase scenes are never to be forgotten.

Little_Fauss_and_Big_HalsyReleased in the fall of 1970, Little Fauss and Big Halsey ,was in theaters only a few months out of phase with On Any Sunday. What a time to be a Motorcycle movie-goer! LF&BH is a little movie, with a big cast that didn’t really make much impact in it’s day but has a semi-cult kind of following today. Redford starred as a womanizing cad who was always on the verge of getting the next “big deal” or “factory ride.” Pollard, just a couple of years after snagging Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for his portrayal of C.W. Moss in Bonnie and Clyde, was the plodding sidekick who ultimately makes good and kick’s Redford’s butt. The great desert and road race scenes went a long way toward making up for the failed character development and semi lame dialog. The film also came off as almost a paid advertisement for Yamaha with lots of on-screen time for its DT-1 Enduro and period road racers. Little Fauss & Big Halsey was also one on the first credited on-screen roles for then super-model Lauren Hutton. A genuine motorcycle enthusiast, Hutton made news in 2000 when she crashed he own motorcycle outside of Las Vegas and suffered sever injuries. Despite it’s liabilities, this film is solidly in our top ten.

Diaries2004’s The Motorcycle Diaries documents, in an extremely entertaining fashion, an epic 5000 mile South American motorcycle trek taken in 1952 by a youthful Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Yes, THAT Che Guevara! We learn much of his journey of discovery aboard a sad and abused 500cc Norton, the unsung star of the film. In the saddle of the Norton we watch as “Che” studies the plight of his people and the pain inflicted by social injustice. Was he converted into a marxist revolutionary during the course of that ride? Perhaps, but in any case it’s a compelling, well written, well acted piece that features an old motorcycle as one of its stars.. What could be better?

Fastest indianAcademy Award winner Anthony Hopkins has said that playing Burt Munro in The World’s Fastest Indian was his favorite role. That’s quite a claim from one of the world’s finest actors. But then, Burt was quite a character! In the 1960s, New Zealand motorcyclist Munro showed up at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a heavily modified and “home grown” 1920 Indian Scout Motorcycle with which he proposed to set speed records. And set them he did, several actually. Munro competed on the salt a total of nine times and one of the records that he set still stands. The movie depicts his struggles to compete with a 40+ year old motorcycle and a minimum of funds but with heart and determination seldom seen before or since. Great story, great acting. Just great all around!

tt3dThey’ve been racing motorcycles on the Isle of Man for over a century. Not on a dedicated racetrack but, rather, across 38 miles of the tiny island’s highways, closed to public use specifically for the occasion. Modern superbikes achieve 200 mph top speeds and lap the circuit at average speeds of over 130. This on a course lined, not by guardrail or hay bales but rather, by lampposts, hedges, curbs and stone fences. Suffice to say, its a very special circuit under attack by a cadre of very special riders. TT3D Closer to the Edge  was filmed at the 2010 edition of the famous Isle of Man TT. The “on bike” shots will give you a sense of the course and the participant interviews will leave you with a strong sense of the people who risk all to do such daring things. The DVD cover says it all. “Spectacular… Must See.” There are two things difficult about this movie. One is finding a version that will play on a US Spec DVD Player. The other is trying to understand Lincolnshire rider, and fan favorite, Guy Martin when he speaks with his heavy accent. Both difficulties are well worth putting up with! Must See. For sure.

“Top Ten” lists are a very personal thing. Maybe we missed some on your list. Maybe we just forgot some. In any case we’d like to hear the pics that you like the best. What do you think with our list. Were we even close??

There you have it. Our ten favorites

Turbocharged/Supercharged Motorcycles. Staging a Comeback?

Currently on display in the Martin Moto showroom is a 1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo. This stunning bike, from a private collection, is a great example of the very brief “era” of forced induction bikes in the early 1980s.

DSCN7733In the early 1980s factory turbocharged motorcycles roamed the highways, promising the light weight and responsiveness of a middleweight, the power and performance of a liter bike, and a cost somewhere between the two. In addition to the Suzuki, Honda weighed in with it’s CX-500 Turbo in 1982 and later the 1983 CX-650 T.

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Then there were the ’84-’85 Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo

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and Yamaha’s XJ-650 Turbo Seca.

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Marketing department promises notwithstanding, what this group actually delivered was a somewhat difficult power delivery (the dreaded “turbo lag”) as well as the weight, cost, and mechanical complexity of of much bigger bikes. Sales were, frankly, anemic and the turbo bikes ultimately screeched to a halt at this dead end on the motorcycle evolutionary path by 1985.

Now let’s jump ahead some three decades, to today. An interesting dynamic has recently surfaced in the industry. Are supercharged motorcycles coming back? Two recent “concepts,” shown in conjunction with the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show introductions certainly beg that very question.

At the Tokyo show Suzuki took the wraps off of their Recursion concept bike.

Suzuki Recursion. Tokyo Motor Show 2014.

Suzuki Recursion. Tokyo Motor Show 2013.

Suzuki Recursion. Tokyo Motor Show 2014.

Suzuki Recursion. Tokyo Motor Show 2013.

Looking beyond the underslung exhaust and other obvious efforts at mass centralization (has Eric Buell seen this?) we find ourselves drawn to the completely new powerplant. It’s a 588cc inline twin with, get this, an intercooled turbo system. How else to easily deliver 100+ hp and 74 lb-ft of torque at just 4500 rpm from less than 600cc? Yes, we know that a GSXR delivers similar power (and less torque) but you’ve got to spin it into the 5 digit rpm stratosphere to deliver those numbers. Fold the claimed 50-ish MPG rating and low rpm reliability into the mix, and Suzuki’s Recursion comes into its own. Two questions stand out in our mind. Has thirty years of technical progress made a new generation Turbo bike a much more viable product than we remember from the 1980s? Is Suzuki daring enough to bring something like the Recursion to the market? Stay tuned.

Not to be trumped by their friends at Suzuki, Kawasaki also got into the act at the Tokyo show. With minimal fanfare, no hardware, nor much in the way of technical detail, the “Good Times” folks went the “press release only” route with their revelation of an inline four cylinder “motorcycle-use supercharged engine.”

Supercharged Kawasaki concept engine. Tokyo Motor Show 2013.

Supercharged Kawasaki concept engine. Tokyo Motor Show 2013.

  The text of the Kawasaki release reads like this, “Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. also has a long history of developing technologies for turbine engines. The lifeblood of these turbines is their blades, which need to be able to cope with extreme heat and vibration while spinning at high speeds. Know-how from years of designing turbine engine blades was instilled in the first supercharger developed by a motorcycle manufacturer. And of course, designing a motorcycle-use supercharged engine in-house means that maximum efficiency could be pursued.” Not much here to sink one’s teeth into, right? But then consider these three facts. 1. For some time now Kawasaki has been utilizing Roots type superchargers to reliably deliver over 300 HP from it’s 1498cc Ultra 310 watercraft.  2. Rumors of a forced induction replacement for the ZX14-R Ninja have swirled throughout the industry for several years. 3. In recent years the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have taken to showing their new engines well before the motorcycles for which they were intended. Think Yamaha 3 cylinder engine shown well in advance of the FZ-09. Draw your own conclusions and , again, stay tuned.

Do we have any insider knowledge? Do we know that a supercharged bike is on it’s way from one of the major manufacturers? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, it just seems like there is way too much chatter (and action) on the forced induction front for it to all be smoke and mirrors. While we anxiously await the next development, we’re about ready to place our bet that the answer is yes. Time will, as it always does, tell the tale.

P.S. In the meantime, if you have an interest in the older bikes, including Turbos and all the other technical marvels of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s then put the Fourth Annual Modern Classics Bike Show on your calendar for March 1, 2014. www.modernclassicsbikeshow.com

EICMA Show 2013 – Some Show Bikes We Liked a Lot!

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EICMA. Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori. If you are in any way interested in motorcycles , you have likely heard of it. If not, here’s the scoop. EICMA is the world’s largest motorcycle show. Think Disneyland, specifically remade for motorcyclists.  This annual festival of the two wheeled sport commandeers the Milan, Italy convention center just about this time every November. This year over 1000 exhibitors – representing manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers from abound the globe (not to mention over a half a million attendees,) have just completed the 71st edition of the show. If you missed the excitement (again!) maybe you ought to give thought to a trip to Italy next year. In the meantime we thought we’d draw your attention to just a smattering of our favorite new bikes that were revealed at this year’s show.

Ducati Monster 1200 & 1200S

M-1200S_2014_Amb-02_R_1920x1080.mediagallery_output_image_[750x423]Can you believe it’s been over two decades now since that first groundbreaking Ducati Monster? Who would have thought that first 900 would spawn an entire family of Monsters great and small. Now come the latest Monster-osities , sitting on the top branch of the family tree. In the spring of 2014 Ducati will be delivering the Monster 1200 and the even further upscale “S” variant. Both offer the latest liquid cooled,  four valve, desmo powerplant, wrapped up in the signature trellis frame, and packaged with all the electronic toys – selectable power modes, traction control, abs, etal. The standard version of the Monster 1200 starts at $13,495 and the higher spec “S”, with it’s Ohlins, Brembo superbike spec brakes, carbon bits and all (plus a touch more power and torque)  carries a price tag starting at $15.995. Available after the first of the year! The Ducati Monster 1200 twins were hot enough to have been voted “The Most Beautiful Bike” at the EICMA show by the thousands of attendees.

Harley Davidson Street 500 and 750

harley streetIt’s only the first totally new Harley Davidson platform in 13 years. Harley took the occasion of EICMA 2013 to introduce the 2014 “Street” 500 and 750cc variants. Powered by the (also) all-new liquid cooled SOHC 4 valve Revolution X engine, the Street represents Harley’s lowest price point offering for the new year. Intended as both an American style urban cruiser and also as a vehicle to gain entry to markets in the rest of the world, The Street will be manufactured both in HD’s Kansas City plant as well as in India. Competition for Yamaha’s recently introduced (and very successful) Bolt? Maybe.

BMW S1000R

K47_Outdoor_07Naked sportbikes seem to follow a very specific pattern as they evolve from their plastic-fantastic progenitors. BMW follows to a T with the introduction of their own version of a streetfighter based on their world class S1000RR sportbike. Upright, comfy seating position? Check. Reduced peak power but a broadening (and fattening) of the low to mid range torque? Check. Here’s a sportbike that people can comfortably ride for longer than those 20 minute track day sessions. And it retains all the electronic magic first show on the RR – ABS, rider selectable power and traction control modes, gear shift assistant, and such. Ultimate sportbike for the real world? Perhaps.

Brough Superior SS100

Brough-Superior-TopLike the retro look but hunger for thoroughly modern performance? Maybe this is for you, but bring your wallet. Once known as “The Rolls Royce of Motorcycles” the honored Brough Superior marque returns for 2014 as an extremely limited edition build. With a signature liquid cooled 997 V-Twin powerplant that just oozes nostalgia, this modern treatment of the classic features the engine as a stressed chassis member, innovative disc brakes, and the classic look of the essentially cylindrical fuel tank. Unfortunately, it may already be too late to order for 2014 as the Brit manufacturer plans just 20 units for the first year build. At a paltry $100 K per, they’re probably all spoken for. Perhaps in 2015 – and you’ll have another year to save up the necessary funds.

Triumph 250

x06-daytona250.jpg.pagespeed.ic.kMf2sFN4o4Triumph didn’t exactly pull the cover off of this motorcycle at EICMA. All they did was confirm the long standing rumor that there will be a 250cc Triumph in the pipeline by the time 2015 rolls around. Discussion mostly centered around a naked bike and a sporting variant as shown in this computer generated rendering. Not much detail was provided to hang one’s hat on but it was revealed that the assembly site will be India to meet a global demand. We do understand that it will be coming to the US, perhaps in the naked version. Stay tuned on this one. Better yet, take up a spot loitering around your Triumph dealer’s showroom. And keep your eyes peeled.

So, EICMA 2013, as it always does, provided a mix of product introductions – entry level stuff like the Harley and Triumph, premium priced units like the Ducati and BMW, and ultra exclusive offerings like the Brough. For sure, there were more than what you see here and maybe those are your personal favorites.  Nonetheless, these are the ones that talked to us the most. If you were there, or maybe you have just read the show reviews, then please tell us about your favorites. Most importantly, make your travel plans for EICMA 2014 soon. The area around the Milan Convention Center sells out early when EICMA comes to town.

Off the beaten path? A Rokon was capable of taking you very far off the beaten path!?

In the last post we spoke about some of the fascinating two stroke bikes that we’ve on the lookout for as we put together the fourth annual Modern Classics Motorcycle Show coming up on March 1, 2014 at Martin Moto in Boyertown, Pa.  Then just yesterday our attention was drawn to yet another possibly forgotten bike from the 1970s that we had overlooked. Simply couldn’t resist posting this one too!

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Rokon RT 340

Yup. It’s a Rokon! Chock full of unusual features like pull cord starting (think lawnmower) and a fully automatic and clutchless snowmobile-like drive system, Rokons laid claim to a market position pretty far off the beaten path. Nonetheless they earned their stripes as serious dirtbikes by regularly winning various enduro and trials competitions

Roko OverallWin And through the middle part of the 1970s they were even serious competitors in International Six Day Trials (ISDT) events in both the US and Europe.

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Rokon at the 1973 ISDT

Interestingly Rokon was a New England based manufacturer, with headquarters in New Hampshire where they pushed out the sturdy bikes equipped with a 337cc Sachs two stroke engine that put out some 30+ horsepower in stock form.

CaptureWhile Rokons never sold in huge numbers and while the parent company had its ups and downs, including a visit into receivership, it is interesting to note that Rokon continues on to this day with a line of “Trail Breaker” 2 wheel drive utility vehicles that remain popular with hunters, outdoorsmen, forest service types and even some military users.

Anyone got (or know of)  a Rokon RT 340 to nominate for the 2014 Modern Classics Motorcycle Show?

We would love to hear from you.  For more information go to www.modernclassicsbikehow.com

Wanted Dead or Alive! The Search Is On For the 100 Stunning Classic Bikes That Will Be Presented at the 4th Annual Martin Motorsports “Modern Classics” Show, March 1, 2014.

?????It’s just over four months now until the Fourth Annual Martin Motorsports “Modern Classics” Bike Show. In just three years this one day, indoor show has has gained a hefty regional following and has even begun to attract some national attention. Check out what the local papers had to say about last year’s show HERE. Then take a look at the coverage in Modern Classics magazine.

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Do you want to even consider missing this year’s show? Uuhhhh, don’t think so!

So here are some important details. The showroom doors open at 9:00AM and the show runs until 5:00PM. As in past years, Modern Classics is an invitational show – entries are nominated to the show planning committee which then determines the 100 bikes that will be this year’s “Modern Classics.” “Modern Classics” is an unjudged show but there are Peoples’ Choice awards in both the primary group – classics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s as well in the featured supplemental class. For the 2014 show the featured supplemental class is Two Stroke bikes! The planning committee is soliciting the nominations of Two Stroke Classics from the same era, meaning the 60s through the 80s. The bikes that the committee is looking for are 2-cycle engined motorcycles offered for sale between 1960 and 1990. Historically significant bikes from slightly before and after this time frame may be considered if they are helpful in telling the story of two strokes and their place in motorcycle history. The show is primarily focused on “street” models but a limited number of off-road and racing models may also be considered. Thinking about nominating your bike? For all the information you need go  HERE.

2 stroke wantedposterHere are a few of the Two Stroke Classics we’re seeking for Modern Classics 2014. If you have one of these bikes or know where there is one that might be a candidate for the show, the by all means give us a shout. You can either go directly to the “want to show your bike” page or contact jack@martinmoto.com. Here ya go…….

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Possibly the Zenith of Two Stroke history? Of course we’re looking for a Suzuki GT 750 Water Buffalo. Or Steam Kettle if you prefer.

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Yamaha Catalina or Big Bear? Among the first of the “big” Japanese Two Strokes and we’d love to have a great example of either one. 250 or 305cc? Doesn’t matter.

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Was the Suzuki X-6 Hustler the first 250 capable of going 100mph? The debate rages. Nonetheless, if you have a nice example then please nominate it for our show.

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Kawi H2. Mach IV 750. “The Widowmaker.” By any name or alias, we’d like to see one. A nice Mach III 500 would be welcome too – especially a first year white one! Yeah we like 350s too.

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From the late 60s well into the 1970s two stroke enduros were a huge contributor to the explosive growth of motorcycling. Suzuki TS’s all welcome – 125, 185, 250 – we love ’em all. Of course the Yamaha enduro series is on our hit list too. Where is that one stunning white1968, first year DT1 we’ve been waiting years for? Kawis too – How about a nice Bighorn?

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It’s easy to forget Bridgestone was a major player back in the day. A 350GTR would be a great show addition as would any of the smaller Bridgestone offerings. 90s. 175s. Who learned to ride on a Bridgestone?

We're not just on the lookout for Japanese Two Strokes. Europeans figured mightily in the Two Stroke story. And a hefty part of that story was was scooters. Vespa? Lambretta? Harley Davidson Topper?

We’re not just on the lookout for Japanese Two Strokes. Europeans figured mightily in the Two Stroke story. And a hefty part of that story was was scooters. Vespa? Lambretta? Harley Davidson Topper?

Silk. The Ultimate Evolution of the old Scott 2 strokes from England. This would be a cool add!

Silk. The Ultimate Evolution of the old Scott 2 strokes from England. This would be a cool add!

All American Brand Harley even had two strokes badged as their own. They were really an Italian-American hybrid cooked up by partner Aermacchi.

All American Brand Harley even had two strokes badged as their own. They were really an Italian-American hybrid cooked up with partner Aermacchi.

We'd very much like to snag a Scott Flying Squirrel. Though produced considerably earlier than our target 60s through 80s time frame, these Brit Classics are important in telling the two stroke history story.

We’d very much like to snag a Scott Flying Squirrel. Though produced considerably earlier than our target 60s through 80s time frame, these Brit Classics are important in telling the two stroke history story.

So there you have a few examples of the kind of things that we are on the lookout for. Two Strokes. Smoke ’em if ya got ’em! You can review the entire list of two stroke candidate bikes for the 2014 Modern Classics by clicking HERE. If you know where these bikes are, or you have one, please nominate your bike!! And if you think there’s something we’ve forgotten, we’d like to hear about that too.

Just a reminder though – Two Strokes represent just a portion of the magic that is the Modern Classics. We are also trying to run down a new and exciting collection of all the rest of the 60s through 80s bike population. Here are just a couple of the bikes were looking to score for this year’s show.

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Long before there were Hayabusas and ZX14s there were Kawasaki Ninjas. Arguably the first hyperbike (Tom Cruise thought so in “Top Gun”) the first Kawasaki Gpz900 Ninja was introduced in 1984. Can it really be 30 years? And when will we score a first year Ninja for Modern Classics? Hopefully 2014.

A bike that we've had on our search list for all four years of The Modern Classisc - the Munch Mammut. Had kind of forgotten about this rare breed until we saw one recently. If there's one, there must be more. Help us find one for Modern Classics 2014!

A bike that we’ve had on our search list for all four years of The Modern Classisc – the Munch Mammut (Mammoth.) Had kind of forgotten about this rare breed until we saw one recently. If there’s one, there must be more. Help us find one for Modern Classics 2014!

So there you have it. Hopefully a preview of the sort of stunning bikes you’ll be seeing in just about four months. The 4th Annual MartinMoto “Modern Classics” Bike Show. It’s coming sooner than you think! If you can help us in any way find the classic bikes we’re searching for don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re as close as modernclassicsbikeshow.com

Do You Ride At Night? A Handful of Night Riding Tips

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One morning about a week ago, while on the road and enjoying a “delicious” complimentary hotel breakfast (An aside – what are those “egg like” things really made from? Eggs? Plastic? I’m just askin’.) I picked up a local newspaper when my attention was drawn to a headline article about an unusually high number of motorcycle accidents. Somewhere in Tennessee I think. The story described much of the usual carnage with which we are familiar – unsignaled left turns and such. While it didn’t specifically zero in on the issue, I observed that an awfully high percentage of that story’s accidents happened under the cover of darkness. A high incidence of nighttime motorcycle incidents is, in fact, a fairly well documented phenomena. Lately, I’ve found myself riding more during the nighttime hours.  My iPhone girlfriend Siri tells me that sunset today will come at 6:07 PM. Even worse, next weekend daylight saving time will take its winter leave and the sun will commence its disappearing act even earlier. I guess this means that if we are to continue riding for the next few months, ridng in the dark is just going to be part of the deal.  That being said, there are some key strategies that we can  employ to make night riding a safer and more enjoyable experience.

Night Riding Strategy #1 – make yourself more visible.

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  • We all know that the drivers of cars and trucks seem to have trouble seeing us. That problem is magnified considerably at night. Consider hi viz gear, including jackets, pants, and helmets with reflective stripes or inserts. Reflective stickers and such on your bike itself is not a bad idea either.
  • Positioning yourself in the travel lanes, as you learned in your MSF course, is even more important at night. Stay out of drivers’ blind spots. Please!

Night Riding Strategy #2 – enhance your ability to see

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  • Gonna ride a lot at night? Consider installing some auxiliary lighting. OEM motorcycle headlamps generally do a poorer job of lighting the roadway ahead than do cars. The aftermarket happily offers lighting products that can fade your jeans at 100 yards or more!
  • Make sure that whatever lights you do have are functional. Long distance riders might want to carry spare bulbs.
  • Keep your visor clean and scratch free. Lots of small scratches will set off a kind of prism effect in your vision, effectively blurring your sight. Ditch the tinted visor.
  • Lose the sunglasses

Night Riding Strategy #3 – modify your riding technique

  • Wild animals are more active between dusk and dawn. Be aware of this, especially when passing through woodland areas.
  • Reduced visibility makes it even harder to see road hazards – gravel, wet leaves, coolant spills in intersections, potholes. If you are a “spirited” rider consider taking it down a notch or two.

A portion of the riding population simply adopts the strategy of avoiding riding at night. There are others who either by necessity (commuters) or choice have elected to enjoy the unique sensations that come with riding at night. If you are one of those night riders, make sure you give some thought to these night riding tips.

Got any other tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear ’em.

A Visit to The Barber. Barber Motorsports Museum. OMG!!!

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You know how sometimes you’ll see something so compelling that it leaves you speechless? Well, if you are in any way fascinated by motorcycles and the history of motorcycling then you absolutely need to make the trip to the Barber Motorports Museum near Birmingham, Alabama. This remarkable collection, housed on five levels a beautiful and modern facility, is America’s shrine to our two wheeled sport. From the turn of the 20th Century to today, and gathered from Europe, Asia, and America this amazing collection stuns with every step through the immaculate and spacious edifice, No long winded text here today, just a selection of powerful images – after all, the Barber Museum has left us speechless too!!!   Learn much more at http://www.barbermuseum.org/

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Homage to John Surtees, the only man to win world championships on both two and four wheels!

Homage to John Surtees, the only man to win world championships on both two and four wheels!