Motorcycle News - 2020 Husqvarna FE 350s Review
Editor Score: 93.0%
Tractoring up the single-track ascent, switchback after switchback with relative ease, a few thoughts ran through my head. One, this thing’s street-legal. Two, it’s kicking ass on this trail. Three, two-strokes aren’t the only machines that can be comfortable doing technical trail work. Admittedly, I’ve become somewhat smitten with my own two-stroke dirtbike, so much so that I had forgotten just how well a four-stroke can handle similar terrain, despite having begun my off-road riding career on a four-stroke 250.
The Husqvarna FE 350s manages to bridge the gap between 250 top-end and 450 grunt while maintaining the lightweight handling and maneuverability of the former. The lowercase s in the model’s name denotes it’s street-legal status. Like other FE models, the 350s gets top shelf componentry making it a great choice for those looking for a nimble dual-sport motorcycle. Similar to KTM’s EXC-F line, Husqvarna’s 350 is by no means a lower-spec lower displacement machine; rather the FE 350s combines some of the best characteristics of smaller and larger machines into what might just be the “goldilocks” package for size and power.
The Power Plant
The 350cc DOHC four-stroke Single uses much of the architecture from the now-defunct FE 250 (Husqvarna will only offer 350 and 501 “enduro” models for 2021), allowing the engine to remain compact and light despite the mid-level displacement. The FE’s Single is comfortable cruising at 60 mph down the highway while still having a little umph left to give should you need it. On the trail though, it’s the low- to mid-range torque that keeps the FE 350s pulling through technical climbs when one might expect a higher-revving Single to flame out.
For 2020, the engine receives slight updates throughout. Camshaft timing has been revised, and a focus was placed on reducing friction with a DLC coating added to the finger followers pushing titanium valves. The cylinder head features new cooling architecture, and with a new head gasket, compression ratio increases from 12.3:1 to 13.5:1. The forged bridged-box-type aluminum piston also keeps oscillating mass low, which adds to the motor’s free-spinning nature. The lightweight die-cast casings house the new six-speed Pankl Racing Systems gearbox which operates positively and effortlessly with the Dampened Diaphragm Steel (DDS) clutch and Magura hydraulic system. A single diaphragm steel pressure plate versus traditional coil springs makes the clutch pull very light while also integrating a damping system for better traction and durability.
Husqvarna says the engine itself weighs 61.5 pounds, which makes up a little under a quarter of the bike’s total weight of 254 lbs (fully fueled and ready to rip).
The Husqvarna FE 350s’ unique frame design incorporates a two-piece carbon fiber composite subframe – which Husqvarna claims saves 2.2 pounds – to the blue powder coated chromoly steel hydro-formed frame. “While retaining the advanced geometry of its predecessor, it features an increase in longitudinal and torsional rigidity, for improved rider feedback, better energy absorption and increased stability,” says Husqvarna.
As one might expect, WP suspenders are used fore and aft. The XPLOR fork that we’ve lauded with praise on many different models provides nearly 12 inches of travel from its open cartridge layout. For those unfamiliar with the XPLOR setup, both fork tubes include springs, but separate damping functions with rebound on the right and compression on the left. Damping can be easily adjusted by hand via the clickers on top of the fork tubes, each of which offers 30 clicks of adjustment. The preload adjusters on each fork leg allow for easier adjustment without the use of tools, as well.
Out back, the WP XACT shock also delivers full adjustability and 11.8 inches of travel. Unlike many of its orange brethren, the FE 350s uses a linkage-type suspension which is the same system used in the Husqvarna motocross range. Both high and low speed compression damping can be adjusted as well as preload and rebound, all of which use a standard setup for adjustment.
Magura components handle the stopping power on the 350, with a single 260 mm rotor and dual-piston setup up front and a single-piston caliper with a 220 mm rotor on the rear. Both the front and rear brake are easily modulated off-road.
There are a lot of niceties on modern dirtbikes and dual-sports. Electric start, or “the magic button” as some of my older riding buddies call it, is one of them. The FE also comes with a lightweight lithium-ion battery. Fuel injection is another welcome tech upgrade. The FE 350s uses a 42mm Keihin throttle body that’s positioned to ensure the most efficient flow into the combustion chamber. The throttle cable is mounted directly without a throttle linkage to provide immediate throttle response and improved feel. The 2.25-gallon tank provides enough fuel for approximately 130 miles (as always… you know the drill).
Then, of course, you have all of the necessary bits to make the bike street-legal. Turn signals, license plate holder, mirrors, lights, etc. The small LCD dash relays all of the standard information you might want (odo, trips, speed, so on and so forth).
Where the rubber meets the dirt
Back to my first thoughts. I didn’t get to spend multiple days back-to-back riding the FE 350s, but I did manage to log nearly 100 miles during my day riding, almost all of which was off-road and about 70% Colorado single-track.
When I first set off down the gravel road from camp, the front tire would push at even the slightest of turns. It was a slick gravel road, but after a few miles to the trailhead, I decided some work needed to be done before we started our ride. The fork tubes were all the way down in the triple clamps so I raised them up to the highest of the three markers which left just barely enough room to still be able to adjust damping and preload. This made a massive difference and adding a little preload helped as well. The bike was back to being its normal quick handling self. I also screwed the adjustable steering locks all the way in so I’d have maximum maneuverability while we were dicing through trees.
Off we went. Almost immediately, I was faced with switchback after switchback as we gained elevation rapidly. I was prepared to be using a lot of clutch for the tight uphill single-track but was pleasantly surprised that the motor would lug down pretty low without feeling like it was going to stall. Furthermore, around each uphill hairpin turn, the motor had plenty of grunt at low rpm to loft the front wheel for tight pivot turns.
During a particularly fun trail snaking through Aspens, it also became evident just how quick and nimble the FE 350s could handle a tight flowing trail. The bike soaked up bumps like a Cadillac and remained composed while effortlessly darting between trees. That was one of the faster trails of the day and the bike handled it really well.
Later in the day in the day we hit a trail that was new to all of us thanks to a new trail plan implemented a few months ago. The new trail proved to be steep and unrelenting all the way to the top. Again, the Husqvarna FE 350s left me wondering why it had been so long since I’d ridden a four-stroke on tight single-track. The suspension handled the slow going steep climbs very well keeping the tires planted and biting during the ascent. Boulders and rock ledges between and in the middle of switchbacks were no match for the Husqvarna. Even during all of the slow going, the bike never managed to boil its gas or spit coolant. While I had started the day worrying about frying the clutch due to the stock gearing, I ended up having zero issues.
“Man,” I thought to myself during the aforementioned new trail, “this bike has really surprised me.” As I mentioned in the beginning, the best part of all of this was that the FE 350s is street-legal and kicking ass on even the most technical trails we rode that day.
With all of that adoration heaped on the white bike, could it get better? The answer to that question is yes. I dialed in the suspension damping a bit at both ends to better suit the riding we were doing, and while I didn’t deviate far from the manufacturer specs, that was probably more of a result of the terrain suiting the suspension than vice versa. I imagine the 350s would have felt soft in the California desert’s wide open expanses at speed.
Getting a license plate on a bike like the 350 requires more than just slapping turn signals and lights on a bike and calling it good. Regulatory emissions standards have to be considered from the engine itself, to the exhaust, to how much noise the tires make on the ground and performance is almost always lost at this expense. If you don’t need a plate and you want more performance, the FE model (sans s) should do the trick.
For technical riding, if I were to purchase the FE 350s, there would be a small handful of mods that I would make before I ever hit the trail. One of the first things I would do would be changing the final drive gearing. Dropping one tooth on the countershaft sprocket and adding two or four to the rear. Also, a tire swap would be required. The TKC80s are fine if you’re doing mostly street or fire roads, but for anything more, the benefits of full knobbies can’t be overstated. I’d definitely swap out the stock mirrors for something a little less intrusive – and probably only use one. Wrap around handguards I’ve also found to be a necessity (more on that in an upcoming story). I would get out and ride it in some of my favorite areas before doing any suspension work, but for my purposes, which include as little street and fire road as possible, I’d probably bump up the suspension’s spring rates.
As we always say though, your mileage may vary. If you see yourself using the bike for commuting, going to school, some trails, etc., you’ll probably be fine leaving the bike bone stock. It all depends what you’re planning to do with it. Other than Husqvarna throwing some propper knobbies on it, I rode the bike in stock form and it impressed me so much that my riding buddies were probably tired of hearing about it at each snack stop. The FE 350s is a great platform that I thoroughly enjoyed off-road – and it’s street-legal! At $11,099, the price of admission isn’t cheap, but you’d be hard pressed to find a bike that handles nearly every situation as well as the FE 350s does.
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August 31, 2020 at 08:01PM
Motorcycle News - Dream Garage: A Triumph T100 with a matching Porsche 911
Led by founder Sébastien Guillemot, the crew from Chauvigny have created this very stylish T100, which is the latest in their ‘Legend’ series—a line of Triumphs subtly upgraded with immaculate Gallic style.
“Our customer has a Triumph TR5C and wanted a more modern bike,” says Sébastien. “He wanted a reliable bike with a vintage look, one that has brakes and can go far…”
FCR amped up the vintage vibe by rounding off the back of the frame, taking cues from 1970s motocross bikes. Once the welding was complete, they tidied up the rest of the frame, stripped it back to bare metal and polished it before applying copper and nickel plating.
There’s elegant metal elsewhere too, with custom aluminum fenders at both ends, supported by a handmade arched support at the front.
The metal treatments continue on the parallel twin engine, with brushed aluminum for the cases, drillium on the gearbox case, and a protective bash guard bolted to the frame downtubes. The scrambler-style exhaust is made in-house, and although the straight pipes have baffles inside them, you can bet they’re pretty raspy.
The turn signals and taillight are from the catalog too, along with the yellow-lensed Bates-style headlight in brushed aluminum, and the bracket that secures it to the bottom yoke.
The exquisite paint on the tank was handled in-house, and it’s as classic as it gets—a two-tone green and ivory, topped off with a brushed aluminum fuel cap.
Wouldn’t we all?
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August 31, 2020 at 12:27PM
MotoGP News - MotoGP teams wary of KTM building “super engine” for 2021 season
Several MotoGP manufacturers are not happy that KTM will be permitted to develop its engines ahead of the 2021 season, with fears it is working on a "super engine".
KTM and Aprilia are permitted by the regulations to be exempt from the engine development freeze imposed on non-concession manufacturers Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and Suzuki.
However, as part of cost-saving measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, all manufacturers agreed to a freeze on engine development.
KTM will be allowed to develop its engines for next year now it has lost its results-based concessions as a result of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira's wins at the Czech and Styrian Grands Prix.
But this is a move that has angered several rival manufacturers, as a source present at the manufacturers' association meeting ahead of the Styrian GP where KTM was granted dispensation to develop its engines explained to Autosport.
"We believe that KTM is preparing a super engine for 2021," they said.
"Unlike the rest, they are going to be able to open and touch up the engine without any limitation.
"In fact, they can make it [a] whole [new one] if they want."
Autosport understands that the original MSMA proposal was to allow KTM to continue running with the two extra engines it currently does now - meaning it would have nine assuming 2021 is a normal 20-race calendar, while its rivals would only have seven - after it raised concerns about the durability of its current engine designs.
With no unanimous position reached by the six manufacturers, the executives of the Grand Prix Commission intervened by citing the new regulations regarding homologated parts - of which the engine and aerodynamic fairings are categorised.
The rule states: "Any manufacturer that has concessions in 2020 and that starts 2021 without them, will be subject to the homologation regulations of its engine from the first event of 2021, where that specification (that of 2021) will have to be presented to the Technical Director."
This has built up a lot of resentment towards KTM, with some upset at the advantage KTM will be able to gain in being allowed to develop its engine while the rest will have to use their current versions for the entirety of 2021.
Motorcycle Racing News
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August 31, 2020 at 09:25AM
MotoGP News - Zarco “ready” for return to factory MotoGP bike with Ducati in 2021
Johann Zarco thinks he's "ready" to step up to the factory Ducati team in 2021, but believes he needs to score more MotoGP podiums before being considered.
The double Moto2 world champion joined the Ducati fold for 2020 after signing a deal directly with it to join the satellite Avintia squad on a year-old Desmosedici.
This came after he quit his two-year works KTM deal halfway through last year, before finding refuge at LCR as Takaaki Nakagami's injury replacement for the last three races.
Zarco has since scored Avintia's first pole position and podium finish when he placed third in the Czech GP, while putting his GP19 third on the grid for the Styrian Grand Prix - although had to start from pitlane as punishment for his collision with Franco Morbidelli at the previous week's Austrian GP.
The Frenchman will remain a Ducati rider in 2021, though it is not clear yet where he will be placed, with a move to Pramac or remaining at Avintia with added support the likely options.
With Andrea Dovizioso leaving Ducati at the end of the year, Zarco is in the frame for a place alongside Jack Miller at the works squad - though he feels he needs to show he can fight for the podium on the Ducati more first before making that step.
"It's pretty good news that I know I can continue with Ducati next year," Zarco said.
"But they still need time to decide where to put the riders, and clearly the factory bike is always a dream bike.
"And with what I learned already from my experience in a factory team and the mistakes I did also, because I did a few mistakes, I think I would be ready to go [back] on the factory bike.
"But first of all I need to do more podiums and fight more for - not for victory - but be really constant, fighting for the podiums to deserve the factory bike.
"The Ducati team are losing Dovizioso, and they can have it with Jack, but if they have two riders able to fight for podiums, this would be the main thing.
"Clearly the dream is the factory bike but staying with Ducati is the main thing, because a few months before we were just thinking with the Avintia team, it would have been a very complicated year and we see that with the support of Ducati I am doing well.
"It's pretty good for the team and then me now I have the future a little bit more fixed, so I can only smile."
Zarco was critical of Avintia last November when rumours of him joining the squad first emerged, and he recently admitted he was still correct to have reservations about the team.
Also in the frame for the works Ducati seat is Pramac's Francesco Bagnaia, who has been offered a new two-year deal to remain within the Italian marque's ranks.
Ex-Ducati rider and three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo has also been linked to the seat.
Ducati is set to make a decision on its full 2021 line-up ahead of next weekend's San Marino Grand Prix.
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August 31, 2020 at 07:17AM
MotoGP News - Why Honda can’t gain concessions even if 2020 MotoGP woes continue
Honda will not qualify for concessions for the 2021 MotoGP season even if it fails to score a podium in a so-far tough 2020 campaign.
For the first time since 2008, no Honda rider has scored a podium in the first five races of a season, with the best-placed HRC rider in the standings LCR's Takaaki Nakagami on the year-old RC213V in sixth on 46 points.
The top 2020 RC213V runner is rookie Alex Marquez having scored just 15 points, while LCR's Cal Crutchlow sits in 21st with just seven points to his name.
Honda was dealt a major blow when world champion Marc Marquez broke his arm at the Spanish Grand Prix and has been ruled out since, with HRC confirming he will be sidelined for at least another two months.
Should Honda fail to achieve a podium this season and gain no concession points, under normal circumstances it would qualify for concession benefits for 2021.
Due to the 2020 season being shortened to 14 races from 20 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the concession rule was tweaked for this year so that they could only be lost and not gained.
This is why Honda will not benefit from concessions in 2021 should its miserable 2020 season continue.
Results-based concessions were introduced into the regulations in 2014, whereby new manufacturers or those who haven't won a dry grand prix since 2013 are afforded certain benefits.
Currently, those concession benefits are extra engines - nine instead of seven - and exemption from the ban on in-season engine development for non-concession manufacturers, as well as the ability to introduce more than one aerodynamic fairing update during a campaign.
Concession manufacturers are also permitted to six wildcard entries instead of three, and are allowed to freely test with race riders during the year.
Should a concession manufacturer gain six concession points across a season, with three awarded for a win, two for second and one for third, those benefits are stripped away for the following season - except the unrestricted testing, which is cancelled with immediate effect.
Though wet results were exempt from being awarded with concession points, that now no longer applies.
Ducati was the first concession manufacturer to lose them for the 2016 season, followed by Suzuki in 2017 and again for 2019 after a podium-less 2017 saw the Japanese marque gain them back for 2018.
KTM is the latest manufacturer to lose concessions, with Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira winning at Brno and Red Bull Ring in the space of three weeks gaining the Austrian marque the required six concession points.
Given the engine freeze in place for all manufacturers this year as part of COVID-19-related cost-saving measures, the manufacturers' association will allow KTM to unseal its engines to develop them ahead of them being homologated again ahead of the first round of the 2021 campaign.
Of the six manufacturers on the grid, only Aprilia will benefit from concessions in 2021.
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August 31, 2020 at 04:42AM
Motorcycle News - Earnest Tasker Pants and Squire Apron
Similar to motorcycle riding gear, workwear has seen an increase in demand for stylish apparel. But simply looking good isn’t enough to cut the mustard in this highly competitive industry. In order to be really competitive, workwear brands need to be aware of the day to day dangers workers encounter. Just like motorcycle gear, standard denim or other run-of-the-mill fabrics simply won’t do. Nigel Petrie of Earnest workwear is well aware of this. Along with producing Earnest apparel, he is both a motorcyclist and fitter and turner. Nigel spends most of his waking hours fabricating everything from exhausts to ground-up race car builds so he’s well aware of the rigours workwear needs to withstand. To follow up on our recent review of the Earnest Smiths Jacket, today we’re taking a closer look at the new Earnest Tasker Work Pants and Squire Shop Apron.
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August 31, 2020 at 02:09AM
F1 News - Lewis Hamilton wins Belgian Grand Prix to secure 89th victory of career
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton dominated the Belgian Grand Prix to take his fifth victory in seven races this year and the 89th of his career.
Hamilton headed team-mate Valtteri Bottas to a Mercedes one-two, from Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
The victory puts Hamilton 48 points - almost two clear wins - ahead of Verstappen in the championship.
The Briton is two victories away from Michael Schumacher's all-time record and set to equal his seven titles.
It was another imperious performance from Hamilton, his fifth win in the last six races.
He took pole position from Bottas by more than half a second on Saturday, held on in front on the first lap, always a challenge at Spa with the long run from the La Source hairpin up the hill to Les Combes, and never looked back.
He is turning the season into one of total domination and looks unbeatable as he seeks to make Formula 1 history.
It was a staid race at the front, Hamilton too quick for Bottas and the Finn with enough to hold off Verstappen, as all three measured their pace to ensure their tyres held on for a long final stint after being forced into an early pit stop because of a safety car.
That was triggered on lap 10 when Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo at the exit of the Fagnes chicane and bounced back onto the track, a stray front wheel from his car also wiping out George Russell's Williams.
It was the second Belgian Grand Prix in succession in which the Italian has crashed out on his own.
That meant a stop for all the leaders, and as the race ticked on Hamilton began to express his concerns about his right front tyre, his mind on the blow-out on the final lap that almost cost him victory at Silverstone last month.
In the end, though, he had everything under control, as he seems to have for the season as a whole.
Behind the top three
Daniel Ricciardo drove an excellent race in the Renault to turn his fourth place on the grid into the same result, well clear of the rest of the field, headed in the end by his team-mate Esteban Ocon, who took fifth place from Red Bull's Alexander Albon on the final lap.
Albon managed to hold off McLaren's Lando Norris, who made it a three-way battle between them in the closing laps.
Alpha Tauri's Pierre Gasly and the Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez completed the top 10, Gasly and Perez using off-set strategies and not stopping under the safety car but fighting back through the field after later stops with fresher tyres.
It was a dire race for Ferrari, who started 13th and 14th and finished in the same positions, with Sebastian Vettel ahead of Charles Leclerc, both cars beaten by the Ferrari-engined Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen.
Leclerc made a great start to move upon to eighth place on the first lap from 13th on the grid, but the car's lack of straight-line speed meant he dropped back down the field, cars picking him off on consecutive laps.
Ferrari switched him to a two-stop strategy, which dropped him to the back, but even so he took several laps to pass Romain Grosjean's Ferrari-powered Haas in the closing stages.
Driver of the day
What happens next?
Another weekend, another race - in Italy at historic Monza. Hamilton is on a roll, and Ferrari could even be in worse shape there than they were at Spa.
What they said
Lewis Hamilton: "It wasn't the easiest of races. I had a lock up into Turn 5 which started to give a bit of vibration and the tyre temps were slowly dropping. I am 35 going towards 36 but I feel better than ever. That is a positive and I am really grateful to the team."
Valtteri Bottas: "Of course at the start it would have been a good opportunity but Lewis played it well and I couldn't really get a momentum. I think Lewis was faultless today and yesterday he was quick. It was a clean weekend for me. I'm just happy there's an opportunity again next weekend."
Max Verstappen: "It was pretty boring. Not much to do. I couldn't keep up with them when they started pushing. The last eight laps I was just backing it out and saving the tyres. It was not really enjoyable out there today. It was a bit lonely."
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August 30, 2020 at 01:24PM
Motorcycle News - Church of MO: 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Vs. 2010 Victory Cross Country
And this is from God; because for the Messiah’s sake it has been granted to you not only to trust in him but also to suffer on his behalf, to fight the same battles you once saw me fight and now hear that I am still fighting. We have ridden to the mountaintop on all these motorcycles, and seen the promised land. The Victory is no longer with us, but that’s not important right now: Our eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the bagger. Hallelujah, etc…
American Bagger Battle: New Age versus the Icon
By Pete Brissette Dec. 17, 2009
Photography by Alfonse Palaima Video by Fonzie
If you’re in the market for a new bagger in 2010 you’re in luck.Victory has added not one but two new models to its touring family. The Cross Country and Cross Roads expand Victory’s own touring family while adding more selection to the collection of hardbag cruisers currently on the market.
With the new Vics comes more competition for Harley-Davidson, arguably the father of the hard luggage cruiser segment.
During the unveiling in July of this year of the two new models, Victory didn’t mince words when the company made it plainly obvious Harley’s Street Glide and Road King are where Victory had set its sights with the Cross bikes.
Most intriguing to us was the ‘Country, with its long range intentions evident in its fork-mounted fairing that houses a dash with a data-rich LCD, 12-volt power port, and cleanly integrated sound system display.
Despite Victory’s blatant targeting of the Street Glide, we thought we’d mix things up a bit, choosing instead to compare the Cross Country and its fork-mounted fairing to the H-D Road Glide that fastens its sizable fairing to the frame. Although the Road Glide and Street Glide have distinct appearances, they’re largely the same motorcycle beyond their fairings.
Is newer always better?
For some enthusiasts this comparison could come to an easy end when considering the Victory’s more powerful 106 c.i. Twin – the same mill in the Vision – which cranked out 102 ft-lbs and 85 hp when we tested it in our 2009 Luxury Touring Shootout.
Harley’s Twin Cam 96 boasts a claimed 92.6 ft-lbs, so it’s already behind the dyno curve; and when we tested the Twin Cam 96B (largely the same engine save for a counter balancer) in the Rocker C during our Mainstream Choppers Comparison, the 96 cubic-inch Harley Twin managed 80.4 ft-lbs and a modest peak horsepower reading of 61.4 ponies.
Indeed, if it were just a game of numbers the RG would suffer considerably. However, there’s as much disparity in engine character as there is dyno results.
While the Victory’s single overhead cam valvetrain configuration grants it a revvy, powerful nature, rigid mounting also transmits more vibes and buzz to the rider through the floorboards and handlebar. The big 106 also has a more mechanical sound than the H-D lump.
The Victory sits steadily at idle, while the Glide’s 45-degree Twin causes the whole bike to rumble and shudder. However, once the Glide is under way, engine power pulses smooth out considerably and rubber engine mounts mitigate excess vibes.
The Harley accelerates briskly off the bottom and through mid-range; it’s not until the upper reaches of the rpm range the Victory becomes the obvious leader. Despite the Vic’s power advantage, trying to sense differences and determine a clear winner from the saddle isn’t nearly as easy as it is when looking at dyno charts.
The Cross Country’s extra punch is an undeniable boon in this market segment, but overall we prefer the Harley’s engine character.
Throttle response is good on both machines, although the Harley has a nearly undetectable hesitation from closed to open throttle. The Road Glide brings the advanced technology of throttle-by-wire along with a light throttle return spring. But in the end the Victory’s throttle gave more precise action, the feeling we were better connected to the EFI system.
Six-speed trannies in both motorcycles work well, offering positive engagement at each gearshift. And while we appreciated the Glide’s lighter effort clutch, the Vic’s clutch gave better overall feel while modulating the lever.
Although the Road Glide’s handling isn’t quite as “sporty” and doesn’t offer as much lean angle as the Cross Country, the Glide is no slouch in the twists and turns. The updated frame from 2009 has dramatically improved handling on all Harley touring sleds.
We liked the heel-toe shifter as standard on the H-D, where a heel-toe shifter is available for the Cross from Victory’s parts and accessories catalog.
And it bears repeating here, as we noted in the Cross Country’s single-bike review, that the Victory’s lower controls have three available positions to fine-tune fit, and its floorboards (longest in class according to Victory) offer some upward movement. The Harley’s floorboards provide no movement when scraping through a turn, nor does the Harley have quite as much lean angle as the Victory.
“The not-so-obvious benefit here with the H-D’s brakes is less effort and better modulation, but only by the thinnest of margins.”
Braking performance is another area where rider preferences will likely make for a difficult time determining an outright winner. Each bike utilizes dual discs up front, and each bike’s calipers have sufficient stopping power.
Yet, after making repeated runs on each bike we felt the Harley’s Brembo-sourced calipers gave just slightly better sensitivity during initial bite. The not-so-obvious benefit here with the H-D’s brakes is less effort and better modulation, but only by the thinnest of margins.
The Victory’s rear brake stops the bike with just as much force as the front binders, and when used in conjunction with the front, haul the Country down from speed with authority.
A new age means new frames
When H-D graced all of its touring models with an all-new frame and swingarm in 2009 we were (and still are!) convinced it was one of the best things The Motor Company has ever done for its products.
Replacing the wallowy, hinge-in-the-middle sensation on previous Harley touring models is steering response and mid-corner manners that bolster rider confidence.
Victory also pulled one out of the chassis hat a few years ago when it unveiled the Vision. Rather than a collection of steel tubes to hold the engine, the Vision’s backbone was a modern, beefy cast-aluminum frame with few excess parts. The Vision’s frame that seemingly draws from technology in the sportbike world offers rigidity that translates into a responsive, obedient handler.
The Cross Country uses a cast-aluminum frame similar in concept to that in the Vision, and for this reason the Cross is also an excellent steering and handling machine for a bagger with a claimed dry weight of 765 lbs (769 lbs on the Glide). Initial turn-in effort is light, and once set in the turn, the CC’s mid-corner stability shines through.
“…the Cross is also an excellent steering and handling machine for a bagger with a claimed dry weight of 765 lbs.”
Although we’re very happy with the Harley’s handling, the Cross Country offers even greater steering precision, making it feel as though nothing other than the rider’s input can make it deviate from its intended path.
Further aiding the CC’s handling and gracing it with superior ride quality is its stout 43mm inverted fork and air-adjustable mono-shock. The Victory doesn’t sacrifice a forgiving, comfy ride in exchange for sharp handling. It’s quite the opposite. Where the pair of air-adjustable shocks that make up the Harley’s rear suspension can, at times, be harsh, the Victory is much better damped without being overly soft. Overall, the Vic has a better-balanced suspension package.
Saddle up or saddle in
The phrase “sitting in rather than on” has become cliché these days in the motorcycle realm, but it’s hard to avoid using when swapping between the CC and RG.
The Victory’s sculpted saddle not only helps hold the rider in the seat, its low 26.25-inch height makes you feel like part of the motorcycle. On the other side of the ergo coin, the Road Glide’s 29.5-inch seat height generates the sense you’re perched atop. However, this shouldn’t imply an awkward or uncomfortable rider triangle on the Harley. Reach to the Harley’s handlebar is easy, as is seat to floorboard relation.
Ergos on each bike aren’t necessarily superior to the other, just different.
Something that may turn off riders of the Cross Country is the noticeable wind buffeting we experienced at freeway speeds. We suspect the taller accessory screen from Victory will result in a marked reduction in turbulence.
As often as Pete extols the use of simple, minimal exhaust systems, he had to admit the single canister on the RG creates an unbalanced look at some angles. As good as it looks here, this photo doesn’t tell the whole story of the richness of the RG’s red paint.
The Glide is essentially liberated of any windshield, leaving only the large fairing to protect the rider from the elements. Buffeting on the RG isn’t as noticeable as on the Victory. Aboard the Harley, the rider cuts a cleaner path through the air with the tradeoff being a little more exposure to wind.
Like Victory, H-D also makes a taller screen available, but the accessory screen for the RG takes it from one extreme to the other, as it’s quite tall and on the order of a full touring shield. But if you’re okay with how it alters the RG’s appearance into a more serious-looking touring rig, we can tell you from having ridden the RG with and without the tall screen, life is good behind the big screen, especially if you don’t like the wind, rain or cold!
Not-so-little things on big bikes
Harley and Victory take different (surprise!) approaches to amenity-type things.
Victory proudly proclaims most storage capacity of any bagger in its class. Though the Vic’s bags aren’t as voluminous as they appear from their exterior, the lid’s shape provides some unexpected storage volume. The simple one-button locking/opening mechanism is a welcome advantage over the Road Glide’s more involved lid latching process.
The Victory provides a dedicated 12-volt cigarette-style power port just below the left stereo speaker; the Harley offers… a cigarette lighter in the dash! That’s OG (original gangsta), baby!
Another benefit of the Glide’s larger fairing is a pair of fairing-integrated storage compartments/gloveboxes. Each compartment’s lid is spring-loaded and within arm’s reach. However, neither is lockable, and their interior space tapers, so they’re not as roomy as you first think when seeing their large lids.
Perhaps even more noteworthy is the Glide’s ability to lock the steering head at the ignition switch. Since the Vic’s ignition is located in front of the rider’s left knee – and there doesn’t appear to be any access to the head stock – there’s no way to lock the head for an easy and cheap theft deterrent.
Both baggers have self-canceling turn signals, and both bike’s sound systems have auto-adjusting volume. The Cross Country provides a prominently displayed GPI (gear position indicator) in its dreamy blue backlit LCD; the Harley only indicates sixth gear when a tiny 6 in the lower portion of the speedo’s face illuminates green.
From this pair of photos, the Vic’s bag’s capacity advantage is obvious. However, the Harley’s bags are deceptively roomy and of excellent quality. Bags on both bikes are removed with relative ease via Dzus fasteners.
Greater storage capacity hard bags grace the Country and offer the convenience of a single pushbutton locking/opening mechanism. But as we reported in our single-bike test of the Vic, you must make certain you hear the click when closing the lids to ensure they’re securely shut, even if you don’t specifically lock them. Otherwise you may have an excited motorist signaling to you that all your crap is flying down the interstate.
Naturally each bike accommodates for a passenger, and the Victory’s pillion is wider and plusher. However, the Vic’s passenger peg/boards need to be lower, or the pillion seat higher, as riders’ hips seemed to cramp relatively early while playing passenger.
Surprisingly, each scoot managed a respectable observed 38 mpg, but more impressive is that the Victory did this with a larger, more powerful engine.
Bagger battle culmination
Objective stuff like a bigger, more powerful engine and roomier, easier-to-operate saddlebags nudge the Cross Country toward the finish line tape in this bagger tête-à-tête. And its $1,000 savings over the Harley’s $18,999 base model MSRP can easily launch the Victory to, well, victory in this comparison.
But our sporting influences here at Motorcycle.com also favor the Victory’s remarkably precise and stable handling that allowed us to charge each twist and turn with the confidence the bike could handle our attempts at ever-increasing corner entry speed.
And for this reason we think the aging sport rider who’s begrudgingly looking to cruisers as a way to stay on two wheels after parking the supersports might embrace the Cross Country as touring cruiser for speed junkies.
We like how Victory threw in something as practical as cruise control as standard equipment on a touring bike, where H-D requests an additional $295.
Although also an option ($845), at least ABS is available on the Road Glide. And it’s this one area where we think Victory really took a misstep by not offering ABS on the Cross Country.
Even if the anti-lock option might’ve closed the pricing gap ‘tween the bikes, its availability could’ve meant all that many more consumers to whom ABS is now crucial in their purchase decision-making. Victory points to their own research that indicates customers in this segment aren’t concerned with linked braking or ABS. But like a good salesman will tell you, sometimes you’ve got to tell the consumer what they need.
Whether or not riders like it, we’re reasonably confident mandatory ABS on motorcycles is on its way, sooner than later. (End helpful rant.)
Hopefully, through all this, we’ve made it apparent that the Road Glide is still– in almost every department – a formidable opponent for the stylish, brawny new guy in the bagger class, and that so much about a decision between these steeds could very well come down to rider preferences.
But for now, for us, the Victory’s got it!
The post Church of MO: 2010 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Vs. 2010 Victory Cross Country appeared first on Motorcycle.com.
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August 30, 2020 at 11:41AM
F1 News - Lewis Hamilton's Belgian GP pole position meant more to him than most
This one meant a lot - and for Lewis Hamilton it was all about the context.
Not the context of being more than half a second quicker than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas around Spa-Francorchamps, the archetypal drivers' circuit. Although that was important.
No, it was what it said about the strength of Formula 1's only black racing driver, on a day on which an iconic black actor had died, in a year in which the struggle of minorities for fairness and equality has finally come to the prominence it should have had long ago.
Chadwick Boseman, the American actor who died on Friday of colon cancer, was most famous for the movie Black Panther, a hugely significant landmark in film history for depicting a black man as a superhero.
When Hamilton woke up on Saturday morning in Belgium, he heard about the death of a man he had met, and who represented so much. After the initial shock and sadness, Hamilton headed into work wanting to make a point. And he did so powerfully, first on the track, and then off it.
His two laps in the final session of qualifying were things of beauty, the first 0.578 seconds clear of Bottas, the second 0.511secs up on the Finn's improved time.
"Those laps were some of my… I couldn't do any better, really," Hamilton said. "It's not always the case you are able to do that.
"We got the car in a really good place and then it was just about building. Each lap was just getting better and better.
"Q3, run two, because I had that gap in the first one I was able to extend a little bit further. I wasn't expecting that but the lap was beautiful. I can't wait to watch it back.
"It was a really special one for me. I wanted it to be perfect, to show strength. I wanted to be out front on my own. That's what I chose, to make it significant, to make it important and impactful.
"Because today's a special day, to be able to dedicate it to Chadwick. I feel very honoured to be able to do that."
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff described Hamilton's qualifying as "extra-terrestrial again", adding: "Like many other high performance people, we function well on adversity and I can relate to it because we have discussed it.
"We are all a little bit similar - the more that is thrown at you, the better you get. And we definitely see that with Lewis this season.
"With all the craziness that is happening in the world and all these tragedies, he has certainly been driven by these circumstances to provide his answers to what's happening.
"He has the possibility of becoming the greatest champion in F1 and he is very much carrying that energy and responsibility that he wants to continue to be a role model and an inspiration for the many people who look up to him."
'Black Panther really moved a generation'
Hamilton went on to explain why the performance was so important, in the context of the film and its star, and this tumultuous year.
"I can totally understand why some people may not be able to understand it," he said. "I remember as a kid, superheroes - they're just super, aren't they?
"I always said I wanted to be Ayrton Senna or Superman. Superman was my favourite being in the world because he had such good morals, saving people and strength and all the things humans wish we could have.
"But what I do remember was there was no action hero the same colour as me.
"In a lot of scenarios around the world, there is under-representation. Young kids sometimes - if you can't see it, you sometimes think it's not possible.
"What he did with Black Panther, it really moved a generation, not only the younger generation but also the older generation.
"It signified an incredible importance of a shift in the film industry. These young kids can now see it is possible to have a black super hero out there. It was a movie that had many black actors also.
"It is not the only great one he has done. He did so much in such a short space of time and he did it while he was fighting cancer and that just shows the strength he had.
"It is such an important time in history when we are still fighting police brutality and inequality and he was one of those shining stars that signified power and strength. It has been an emotional day."
This has been another momentous week in the struggle for equality and against police brutality towards black men, particularly in the USA.
The death of George Floyd in May at the knee of a policeman profoundly moved Hamilton and led to F1's drive against racism from the start of this season, in which Hamilton has been at the forefront.
Then, last Sunday, another incident, in which James Blake was shot seven times in the back by a policeman in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and was left paralysed.
Arriving in Belgium, Hamilton was asked if he had considered following the example of fellow sports stars in the States and boycotting the race.
"It is a shame that is what's needed over there in order to get a reaction," he said. "But that is in America, and I don't know really if me doing anything here will particularly have any effect."
Hamilton is making his point in his own way, and powerfully he did it, too.
The race ahead
Starting from pole, Hamilton is favourite for the win, but leading is not always the place a driver wants to be on the long run from La Source hairpin, through Eau Rouge, to the Les Combes chicane on lap one at Spa.
Hamilton lost the lead to Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari there in 2018, and he won't want to do it again.
Behind him, Bottas knows his hopes of the championship are fading fast - he starts the race not only 43 points behind Hamilton, but also six adrift of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who came so close to beating Bottas to a place on the front row on Saturday.
Verstappen has now beaten Bottas in the past four consecutive races, which does not look good on the Finn, whose car is clearly faster. So there is honour at stake there as well as points.
Rain is also threatening, as it does so often at Spa, although Verstappen said: "Dry or wet it won't make a difference, the result will be pretty similar." He's clearly not expecting to be able to mount much of a threat to Hamilton. But that won't stop him trying.
Meanwhile, Wolff is wary of Daniel Ricciardo, outstanding in putting the Renault fourth, and running a low-downforce set-up that has made that car the fastest on the straights all weekend. He, too, will be a factor up that hill on lap one.
The red tractor
Ferrari said before arriving in Belgium that they were expecting a difficult weekend - one of the calendar's most power-sensitive circuits was always going to pose difficulties for a car lacking straight-line speed.
But still it was a shock to see the red cars quite as slow as they were.
For a time, it appeared as if they might even not make it out of first qualifying - particularly when Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel finished final practice 17th and plumb last.
Leclerc, lacking a tow in the first session, very nearly didn't - he was 15th and the last man to make it through. In the end, the Ferraris start the race in 13th and 14th places, Leclerc ahead as usual.
Lest we forget, Leclerc won this race from pole last year, and the two Ferraris locked out the front row.
This, then, was a stark reminder of how much Ferrari have lost in engine performance since first a rule clarification at the US Grand Prix last year that brought to an end a run of six poles, and then a secret settlement over the winter between the team and governing body the FIA, which said it had concerns that the Ferrari engine was not always running legally in 2019.
Ferrari dispute that claim, pointing out that if there was evidence that they had broken the rules, they would have been disqualified.
What can be said with certainty, though, is that whatever they got away with last year, they can't this year. And to make matters worse, the car itself isn't much cop either.
Leclerc and Vettel cut dejected figures after qualifying. But they know this will not be a one-off. Their home race at Monza next weekend is on a track that will suit the Ferrari even less.
Not only that, but engines are frozen for this season, with only reliability modifications permitted.
Teams are allowed one engine performance upgrade for the start of next season. Ferrari had better make it a good one, or they are staring at this for another year and more.
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August 29, 2020 at 01:51PM
Motorcycle News - How RYCA used augmented reality to design a cafe racer
It was a big success, and they’re now celebrating their tenth anniversary with a new ‘CS-1X’ kit that was designed using augmented reality. It’s an approach we’ve never heard of before, and quite intriguing.
RYCA founders Ryan Rajewski and Casey Stevenson are fans of the tech, and have big plans for using it. It was Casey who first got the idea to combine AR and motorcycles a few years ago: when remodeling his house, he used basic AR apps from furniture retailers, and was impressed by how useful they were for visualizing ideas.
“We got the ‘virtual’ parts to just snap right on, like magic. So when it was time to build a tenth anniversary edition of the CS-1, we wanted to use AR in practical, realistic ways. To prove it’s not a novelty or a toy.”
“On a typical day, Ryan would come up with a design idea, and I would piece together a 3D model of the concept,” says Casey. “We’d use AR to ‘see’ it on the bike, in full context, then either go with it, or move on to something else. It’s the most fun we’ve ever had designing and building a motorcycle.”
On this prototype, Ryan also had the tank polished and triple chromed by Brett at Cal-Tron Plating Inc. (Brett handled the satin chrome and nickel plating on the rest of the bike too.)
For the Suzuki’s tail section, RYCA went with a fully upholstered version of their current cafe-style seat design. Ryan then made up a new set of side covers out of aluminum—featuring vented slots—that hide the new electronics tray.
The matching 18” wheels are also part of the kit, and are wrapped in vintage tread from Shinko.
RYCA are offering the first five limited edition kits as perks to people who invest in their FantomView concept—an AR platform they’re developing that has raised an incredible $65,000 via crowdfunding so far. It’s aimed at everyone from motorcycle dealers that want to mock-up a showroom, to garage builders who want to ‘preview’ parts on their bikes.
That’s why AR makes a lot of sense in the custom world. And if RYCA pull it off, it could change the way we modify motorcycles for ever.
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August 29, 2020 at 12:21PM