Is that a GS or a GSX?
Generalisation is a bad idea. It offends too many people. Many will argue they don’t fall in that specific group & that the observation is incorrect. Unfortunately, you might be right but you’ll still be guilty by association.
Let me begin by saying that all adventure bike riders are reckless & rude. I know this is not true but many are and in the eyes of the cage driver you are guilty by association. How many times do you say “stupid car” or “idiot driver”? Car drivers probably say “look at this idiot biker” more than you think. The problem with this is that motorists think all bikers are the same & therefore guilty by association. Most cage drivers couldn’t tell a BMW GS1200 from a Suzuki GSX-R.
Now, back to my comment on the adventure bike rider. Many moons ago it was the sport bike rider that was seen as the suicidal nuisance on public roads, going too fast & making too much noise. These days it seems to be the dual-purpose rider carrying the flag for stupidity. Just this morning I was cut off in traffic by a large adventure bike. Clearly my sport bike was going too slow in peak-hour traffic for his liking. This lead to me think that maybe the same sport bike riders from many moons ago are now riding adventure bikes. How else would you explain the flat out acceleration & dangerous maneuvers? They obviously miss the performance they once had on their sport bikes. They are also quite rude. Not just to cages but even other bikers. Can you blame them though? I’d also be in a bad mood if the missus made me sell my sports bike for a “safe & sensible” adventure bike. I bet she tested the pillion seat before you rode it off the showroom. “Just think of all the places we can visit, together” she said. Since then her pillion experience includes, & is limited to, that ride to the Wimpy down the road.
I’ve never owned an adventure bike but I think it would be safe to assume it’s not a good idea to ride with too much vigor on the road. I doubt the adventure tyres & suspension would be as good as the sport bike your wife “persuaded” you to sell.
So, if you are an adventure or dual purpose rider & you think you don’t fall in this group, asses your riding & then decide if you could do anything different. If I’m wrong then it doesn’t matter either, you are still guilty by association.
When was the first motorcycle race? As soon as the second one was built.
A track day is not a track day until you get into a race with your mates & this particular track day was no different. What was different was the direction of the track. If you’ve ridden the same track in the same direction for years & suddenly go in the opposite direction it just doesn’t feel right or left or anywhere in-between. Imagine being forced to walk in a different manner than you have been for the last 40 years. Kruger Jnr was so confused he almost exit pit lane to the left on more than one occasion. Pit exit to the right! Right? Right! I was close to a short-circuit of the brain during the first laps.
Before I go any further let me introduce the participants;
Vin on his GSX-R 750 fitted with fresh Pirelli Rosso 3 rubber. Only fitting that the largest contestant brings the smallest weapon. Malcolm was on the R1 fitted with Pirelli Rosso II. Kruger Snr brought the Blackbird on Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres. Although he has a track bike Kruger Jnr insisted on bringing his CBR1000RR Fireblade road bike fitted with Pirelli’s high mileage Angel GTs. He probably wanted to test the new motor which was fitted recently. Why a new motor in a Fireblade? Those engines are bulletproof! Well, if you are hitting rev limiter while doing a monster long-distance wheelie then apparently the crank is not so bulletproof & neither are the bearings. I brought my trusty CBR1000RR with the same old motor the factory installed way back in 2008. I did not have Angel GTs, or Rosso III or even Rosso Corsa tyres fitted but instead opted for a set of Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa race rubber.
As the day went everybody got stuck into their practice & worked on their individual goals, Vin found where Suzuki hide the throttle. Malcolm was getting on with his body positioning as explained in the 1979 book “how-to ride bikes & look like a pro”. Kruger Snr was practicing avoiding death by not braking way too late (this is of course in no way related to making a VTR SP2 do cartwheels on a previous track day) Kruger Jnr set out from the starting blocks to find the limit of a road tyre & did so very quickly. His 2014 motor didn’t seem to do much for top speed but truth be told, I was very glad for this. I was always lacking in straight-line speed & got left behind on the 1km back straight but today was different & I liked it. I liked it a lot. I also liked the Supercorsa tyres. I liked the front so much that I could put a superb block pass on the Repsol. Did I forget to mention the newer CBR with its fresh motor also has the fancy linked ABS brake system. Dani Pedrosa would be very disappointed with this performance.
Dani would however not be dispointed with the lunch that Vin prepared. Usefull track day tip number 1; the load bed of a Chevy Utility makes a great work table & doesn’t absords sausage juice. Usefull track day tip number 2; Pink Stuff cleans suasage juice very well from various surfaces.
After lunch we were comfortable with the flow & got faster. By this time many people decided they didn’t want to play & went home. This meant more free play time for us which led to much fun a few scraps on track. Even with the slower top-end the new motor still managed to leave thick black tracks out of the tighter corners. The Angel GT rubber obviously won’t shatter any lap records (or even personal bests) but it certainly is very capable & never caused any oh-crap moments. I think the 2014 Repsol CBR might have its PowerCommander on a default map & the Angel GTs are obviously no match for top shelf race rubber but whatever the case, a track day is not a track day without a race & I won.
This year we are treated to many new show models at Intermot. Ducati, KTM & BMW have updated their stable & Suzuki have their new GSX-R but I’m really only interested in the new CBR. I’m tired of hearing the pub experts & neighborhood champions going on about the “old” FireTractor how overdue it is for a replacment. Well, here it is!
2017 will be the 25th anniversary of the Fireblade & fans hoped for something big from Honda but who would have guessed that we will be treated to 3 new models. On offer will be a base model, a SP (pictured here) & a limited edition SP2.
It has more power, less weight & more gizmos than you can shake a stick at. Instead of listing all the novelties & confusing you with all the acronyms & jargon here’s Nickey Hayden……
Good bye, winter. Hello Spring. What could be better than welcoming Spring with Bike Night. What is bike night? As the title might suggest it involves bikes & it’s at night. Clever, don’t you think? Our friends at Superbike Magazine South Africa are clever guys, obviously for coming up with such a genius name & arranging the event once a month.
As usual the entire network of biking mates was invited. Who can be too busy to hang out with mates & ride bikes on a Thursday night? Pretty much everybody, it seems except the trusty Kruger clan. So, off I went with Kruger Snr & Kruger Jnr in search of new friends. Our first stop was a dealership near Kyalami & here we made no friends. The sun was setting & they didn’t appear to have lights or electricity or staff so we left. The next stop was the RAD man cave & here we were surrounded by people who rode bikes with their mates on a Thursday night. How nice to be surrounded by likeminded people. I was sure this was the right place to find new friends.
Not long after arriving it was time to hit the road, superbikes, cruisers, adventure bikes all roaring down the road together. We stopped on Mandela bridge & met up with a few Ducati riders. I’d like a friend with a new Panigale, maybe he’d let me ride it. By this time the group grew to enough bikes to line the entire length of the bridge. This made it very difficult to have a private pee. I’m not sure how patriotic it would be to whizz off a bridge named after a national icon, till somebody pointed out that our taxes paid for it & since he owns a piece would have no problem if anybody needs to “go”. Still, I prefer privacy. From here the ride through downtown Johannesburg was very interesting. Most people would not go there, least of all on a motorcycle. The CBD has a bad reputation but I need new friends & was willing to risk it. By now not a single Kruger got lost or broke down. Unbelievable I know, almost as unbelievable as the sound of 100+ motorcycles roaring between the buildings of the city.
Market-On-Main was alive with people. We made our way through the crowd from one food stall to the next in search of beer & burgers. It is phuza Thursday & Kruger Jnr needs beer. I pass a group of youngsters & couldn’t help hear the conversation. One girlie says to her mates while pointing to a stall “how about this ummm, these ummm sub like thingies”. I couldn’t help but reply “it’s called a boerewors roll”. Most people would be rolling with laughter at this point but I was not. If a tree falls in the woods but nobody is around to hear it did it make a sound? If I made a funny at a market & no mates were around to hear it did it actually happen?
Did we make new friends? Yes, we did. His name is Stu & he sells bike spares but you’d know this if you rode your bike on Bike Night.
If you are old enough to remember movies like BladeRunner, MadMax & A clockwork orange chances are the looks of this bike gives you a certain feeling of DejaVu. You have no idea why but it stirs something, right? You see, back in the 60s & 70’s there were many movies & TV shows set in the future, their future. Back to the future II is a perfect example. It was released in 1989 & the story was set in 2015, their future. Most designers obviously have an idea of the future & this MV looks like it was designed in the 60s for a movie set in 2020. Picture 80’s Harrison Ford as Batman riding this through Gotham City.
Now that you understand why this bike reminds you of Buck Rodgers or Knight Rider let’s talk about this machine. Firstly, it’s an MV Agusta & that should be obvious unless you’ve been living in Smallville. Secondly, Its designed by Italian design house Zagato & that’s a good thing. They are responsible for pretty Aston Martins & a few other nice looking cages. MV has not had much change on their F4 sportbike since the 90’s. It’s still a good looking machine but maybe it is time to go back to the 60’s idea of what 2017 will look like.
No tech spec has been revealed yet but does any of that matter when the package looks this good. Go back in time & tell your 10-year-old self you’d rather drive a mini-van. Be Batman, always be Batman
What good are a few days off from the office without making a track day a priority? For those that didn’t know, most tracks around Gauteng are open on a Wednesday.
My track of choice was Redstar Raceway, in the middle of nowhere. The good thing about being in the middle of nowhere is no sound restrictions, unlike Kyalami. You would have thought that everybody living near Kyalami knew about the race track, with the large sign boards on display & being the most famous track on the continent. The bad thing about being in the middle of nowhere is that it is far from home, about 120km. Being a week day it meant normal workday traffic & Johannesburg congestion. This reminded me why I commute on 2 wheels & not in a cage. My GPS was superb & took me on a tour of the East Rand; I saw areas I didn’t know existed. If you thought it a good idea to load the day before for a quick morning get away, don’t bother. Here’s a week day track day hint; sleep late & load/pack in the morning & leave after 8am. Any time before & you’ll be stuck in traffic question your bad judgement.
98 minutes later & I eventually roll into the pits, quite nervous as it’s been 9 months since my last time on a track. During the first session I caught up to a R1 out on a leisurely recon, I stuck behind him & he progressively upped the pace. This worked well & after a few laps I was warmed up & up to speed. I felt good & comfortable pulling into the pits. An hour or so later I was ready for the 2nd session of the day. By the 3rd lap I was on my usual pace & progressively pushed myself. The latter half of the session produced my best lap times to date & all consistent to within half a second. This would not have been possible was it not for the confidence inspiring Pirelli rubber.
There were a few times I found myself braking very deep & would probably have been on the floor had I been on regular road rubber. The Pirelli Super Corsa SC2 rubber coped so well I could not find their limit; even achieving my best lap times to date was insufficient to get them even slightly worried. These tyres allow you to focus on riding without the worry of grip.
Redstar is very physical & by mid-afternoon I was feeling quite tired but decided to do one more session & just enjoy the ride & the opportunity to be on a bike on a weekday instead of driving a desk in the office. It is quite common to see a few regional & national racers out for a practice on a Wednesday afternoon & this day was no exception. During this session I was following my mate Rusty when I heard the distinct sound of a new Yamaha R1 approaching. Coming into turn 3 (a tight 1st gear left hairpin) I was considering making a pass. He always runs wide leaving the door wide open. This time however I wasn’t sure what to expect from my tail so decided to let him pass & gave signal with my right foot. I kept it tight & he came around only to be blocked by Rusty coming back onto the racing line. Into the next left, turn 5, I thought he was going to hit Rusty’s rear wheel. Instead he went to the outside, turned the R1 & went pass with knees, boots, & elbow on the tarmac & shot off down the back straight.
These national racers are fast. Not “I’m a track day enthusiast & ride in Group A” fast but rather “I’m a pro & have sponsors & stuff” fast. Not once did a pro pass a slower rider in a dangerous manner or stand around bragging about their go-faster bits or boast about lap times, like some of the Group A “enthusiasts”. They just got on with their business. So, no matter how slow or fast you are you can always learn something & have fun at a track day. Even if you get passed by a pro national racer just think, a slow day at the track is better than a fast day at the office.
Wow, look at that gorgeous Honda; nobody said ever in the history of bikes. The Japanese giant is not known for the looks of their machines, perhaps their design dept has too many non-creative engineers or HR frown upon the use of creative drugs. Personally I have never thought of any Honda as particularly good looking. The 80’s CB models had handlebars, a long seat & a tank shaped like a shoebox while Suzuki had the iconic Katana. In the 90’s Ducati had the 916 & MV Augusta the F4, Honda had the CBR which was decorated in stripes, splashes & bright colours but nothing worth noting in the looks department.
Even the current model won’t be selling millions based on its looks. Yes, they do sell millions but I doubt that is because it is the prettiest one on the shelf. I bet it was only when the final design was presented that somebody noticed the lack of a number plate & indicators. They were added 5 mins later by the guy who empties the trash at the office.
Fast forward to 2017 & Honda is no longer the ugly duckling. The latest Honda CBR1000RR looks like it could transform into a walking, talking, laser firing robot at any second. What happens if you try reset the odometer & press the incorrect sequence of buttons? Honda says CBR will first & foremost always be a road bike, sporty yet useable unlike the competition who produce race bikes with lights & number plate holders. No spec has been released to date but expect more power than the current FireTractor & all the latest safety gizmos & gadgets like traction control & ABS.
Incidentally the FIREBLADE name came about through a misinterpreted translation from French to English for the Japanese word for lightening. Good thing it didn’t get lost in translation with the German office. “Blitz” or “Feuer Klinge” doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it. Maybe the Dutch “Bliksem Blad” has some marketing value. Introducing the 2017 Honda “Bliksem Straal”! Yes, that will do just fine.