Tag Archives: Kawasaki

The Bikes I’m interested in, at this moment.

You guys have noticed I’ve been posting about cars and trucks and such a lot more lately.  Probably it’s because I love cars and trucks – always have.  My first words were – and I’m not kidding here – “Vooma-Vooma”.  Those might not be words according to Webster’s, but they were my first words.   I’ve avoided looking at bikes too closely because, well, it’s painful to me because 1, I don’t have one and 2, I can’t afford one.    But let’s go ahead and look at some Bikes.  Because I’m in the mood to do so and it’s well past time.   I’m looking at a relocation soon and first order of business once that is done, is acquiring a motorcycle, even if I have to sell my car to do it.    There are some specific machines I’m looking at… They are shown in No Order:

KLR650

The KLR-650.  Like a Jeep Wrangler, I’ve always wanted one.  And like the Wrangler, when it finally came down to getting something – I always got something else…. And I’ve always kicked myself for passing on the chance.  But I’ve been on a new kick lately – I call it “Finally Getting What I’ve Always Wanted”.  Those things that I’ve always wanted… I’ve been getting them.  One of these days – I’ll get my Wrangler.  And In the Garage next to it will be a KLR-650.  Because.  I don’t know why I’ve always passed it up.  Maybe it’s because the WANT is better than the HAVE.  Or the fear of that being the case.  The newest version though addresses my two considerations that have caused me to pass it up.  1 is the KLR Doohicky and 2 is the seat.  That being said, the KLR is most likely going to be the bike I end up with next.    But we’ll see.

Star-Bolt-R-Spec

The STAR Bolt R Spec.  It remains in my mind as a bike I really want.  If I was to get a new bike – this is probably the bike that I should get, as it represents pretty much what I’ve been looking for… A simple runabout for pure cruising enjoyment.  Nothing fancy or special… Simple.  But satisfying… it scratches that “I need to take a ride” itch.  It has short legs… So not interstate travel… but around town on a nice day to run light errands and goof around… The Bolt-R is probably ideal.  That and I think it looks just awesome for what it is.   But I think really this would be a horse for the stable if I had other horses for more specific purposes of Sport and ADV.

redfz09

This bike… The FZ-09… I was with friends when I first got my hands on this one.  It’s the new style of “Standard Bike”.  But Yamaha took Standard and gave it a mohawk.  This bike would bring out the Hooligan in me.  It feels like it’s as light as a Mountain Bike, yet has Big Bore Punch.  That’s a wicked combination.  I could ride it nice and sedately passed the cops, and then when I get out of sight – instantly Wheelie like a total squid.   I could probably get this one before the KLR or the Bolt-R, it’s that likable when I see it up close.  And if you throw a leg over it – You will want it.   This bike also makes way too much sense.  It’s like that friend of yours that is way too smart for his own good and comes up with Evil Genius plans that sound perfectly well reasoned and logical and then they get you in trouble.

KTM 1190 Adventure 2013 basic model

Because one day I want to ride across Continents and screw BMW.    This is my Hail Marry dream bike.  Load it up with some luggage and a backpack and go hunt Orc with this bike.  It’s name is Adventure.  No, seriously, it is… the KTM 1190 Adventure.  There are two versions… Adventure and the Adventure R.  And I don’t care about the differences.  Either one would make me the happiest man on Earth… and then I’d want to go around that Earth.  Or at least Coast To Coast following back roads and exploring what needs to be explored along the way.  KTM should sponsored The Long Way Around instead of letting BWM take the show.

SuperDuke

This is the evolution of the concept that Yamaha’s FZ-09 was playing with.  KTM’s Super Duke.  If the FZ-09 was Dr. Bruce Banner, then the Super Duke is The Hulk.  It got big, gnarly and pissed off.  It’s a monster.  It’s brutal.  It’s a rage beast.  And that’s what I love about it.  This thing is all about aggression, making no apologies for it.   It’s the 2 wheel version of a Shelby 427 Cobra, but with less manners or concern for what is socially acceptable or politically correct.  This is a Dream Bike right here.   Should Hollywood buy the Uprising Saga and make movies out of them… I’ll have one of these bikes.  And I’ll take it to the California Super Bike School and have Keith Code teach me how to control this beast.

Vegas_Vegas_8-Ball

Keeping with the theme of taking a bike type and having a reasonable version and an dream version of it… This is the Dream Bike option for the Star Bolt R.    That Cruiser bike just for the sake of Cruising.  This is the Victory Vegas.  I looked at the 8-Ball version and love it… a lot… And then other versions.  There was one locally that was eyeballing before I left my job.  Had I not left that job – I probably would have got it.  The Vegas “FITS” me.  Head to Toe.  Or should I say Bars to Pegs?  This is America’s Other Motorcycle Maker… Victory pretty much has everything you would want in a Motorcycle like Harley, but done better.  Seriously – if you even THINK you might want a Harley – go to a Victory Dealership and take a good hard look.  The Victory is a step up.  It just is.

us-highland-viking-950-vtwin

Okay, now this is a bike that is intriguing me.  If I could find one.  This is a US HIGHLAND “Viking”.  It’s a Liter Class V-Twin.  Very light weight, very compact.  It’s what I loved about my beloved Honda Superhawk… without what I didn’t like about the Superhawk.  (Side Mounted Radiators) This bike could replace the all the other bikes on my list save for the ADV machines. There is something about this… I really want to get to know US HIGHLAND better.  They put out a bike… Read the Review from 2011 here.  It doesn’t look like they are marking the Viking or the Enduro that they were also developing.  I hope they enter the US Market as a serious production Bike Maker and not just Engine Builders.

 

Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawi has come out with a Ninja 300.  Full on for no other reason than to give Honda the middle finger.  
You see, for just about forever Kawi has done the Ninja 250.  Really the only 250CC Class Option for a Sport Bike for the last few Eons.  Then recently Honda rolled out a CBR 250.  And it’s a nice little bike.  A bit underpowered compared to the Ninja it’s trying to compete with, but riders are saying it’s an all around better bike thanks to upgraded tech and handling, yada yada yada. 
Well, Kawi is a bit Type A in the personality department, so they didn’t take this laying down.  They trotted out a new beast altogether instead of doing a massive redo on the Ninja 250.  They rolled out the Ninja 300.  It’s 16% heavier than the CBR 250… but playing with a full 50% more horsepower.  Better handling is not going to help the Mini-CBR, as the Ninja 300 is still as Flickable as a Butterfly Knife. 
This soundly puts Kawasaki back on top of the performance leadership board. Honda has nothing that can match it and they were pretty much taken by surprise by this. 
Here’s the thing… It’s cheap too.  For 5 Grand, you couldn’t have more fun even if you spent a week in Thialand and you paid the Catholic Church off for the Endulgences. 
Kawis are not just about rip-snorting aggression… Yes, they accel at that, but until you crack the whip, they can be very docile daily commuters that turn in high Miles Per Gallon numbers that make them very economically feasible.  And insurance is cheap on them if you stay away from Tickets and Teenagers. 

Honestly however, I’d have rather have seen Kawi roll out something more along the lines of splitting the difference between the 250 and the 600.  Like a 450 maybe.  Using one of their power plants from one of their dirtbike lines.  Dirtbike engines are more compact, lighter weight, and seem to be a lot more pissed off about not constantly tearing shit up.  That’s what they do.  They tear shit up.  Putting that sort of Honey Badger inside a Ninja body would truly be a thing of evil.

To make matters even more potentially interesting is that many of the Cycle Co.’s are considering bringing back the Two Stroke.  With modern Engine Tech being applied to the Two Cycle power plant, they are able to make the engines far more powerful, fuel efficient, and much much cleaner.  My Yamaha was an RD400 Daytona Special… a Street Legal 2 Stroke that ate Ninja 600′s and other bigger sport bikes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between meal snacks.  And it was just a little 400.  Sure it drank oil and blew blue smoke like it was a steam powered train… but dayum… You couldn’t shift it without picking up the front tire.  It would hit 80 before you could take a full breath.  I had to put all my weight over the front tire to keep it down even if I rolled on the throttle hard.  And that was Old 2 Stroke Tech.  I can’t imagine a 450 or 500 with new electronic fuel injection and all the goodies.  
Wait.  Yes, yes I can imagine that… and I want that.   Full on Tazmanian Devil all the time.  How fun would that be? 
Come on, Kawi… Give me that Ninja 450 Two Stroke!

Monday’s Motorcycle: Kawasaki ZX10R

The Bike of the Week this time around is the Kawasaki ZX10R.  Another one from The Big Green.  Unlike my ZX11, which is aimed for “Sport Touring”, the ZX10R is pure sport.  The differences are in Rider Position, Engine Tuning, and Suspension geometry and settings.  It’s a completely different animal.  Like a Ford Escort is almost completely unrelated to the Mustang GT.  This bike is all about Aggression.  Speed and handling.  This thing is a monster.

We have a small group that watches a couple motorcycle races every few weeks.  Primarily we really only pay attention to the Liter Class Wars.  We’ve noticed a distinct trend.  The first handful of laps are always led by the Kawasaki ZX10R.  After about the 5th lap or so, the Ninja starts to drop back a few positions… and usually ends up coming in 7th place or something.  However, the last time the Ninja stayed up front  all the way to the Almost End.

I say “Almost End” because in the last lap, that damned Messerschmidt Pilot tucked in to the Ninja’s 6 O’Clock and in the last few corners… gunned him down in Cold Blood… Passed him and took the race.  It was something the BMW Pilots have been doing to Honda, Aprilia, freaking everyone.  What’s different this time though is that the Ninja was finally leading, and he did so by a good long margin.  It really came down to not the bike, but Tire Selection.  Looks like they finally found the right one.  Now if someone could just sabotage the BMW’s, they might win!

Outside of Racing, the ZX10R remains a fantastic street bike.  According to Motorcyclist Magazine, if you want the Best Liter Bike you can buy – that’s not the BMW – then it’s the Ninja.  It’s got more than a huge following… It’s one of the best selling Liter Bikes out there.  This bike doesn’t have any new huge advances in technology, just an evolution of everything Kawasaki has been doing right since the move Top Gun.

Oh, and yes, Maverick is a fucking Squid.

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ZX-11 Update

This last weekend the trip to SLC on the bike was both good and bad.
The bad was because if my knee.  The tendon took a couple minutes to stretch back out.  This meant when I came to a stop, I could only put down my right foot.
That’s not good.  If I tipped to the left, I’d have gone down because I had nothing to stop it.
Once I was rolling though, it was smooth sailing.  The bike loves to cruise.  It ran flawlessly and turned in 48 mpg.  I topped off in Lapoint and didn’t have to gas up again untill I was well into SLC.
On my Magna or Superhawk, I’d have refilled twice more. I’ve never had a bike with this much range.
I couldn’t be happier with the Kawasaki.

Monday’s Motorcycle: Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Drifter

I borrowed one of these machines for a couple days while I was in between bikes.  It’s low slung, mean, and powerful… yet easy to ride, mellow, and it takes it really easy… because it doesn’t have to hustle.

It’s wide.  Very wide.  And it has floorboards.  Huge planks.  The seat is sprung so even riding over a curb is nothing.  I’ve been riding this bike every night for the last couple weeks as part of the Stage Production I’m in, and I just love it.  The thing is a riot!  It’s like Kawasaki put a set of bars on a Caddy.  Cruising at highway speed the bike felt like it was just burbling along at 2000 RPM’s… yet it never lacked for speed, acceleration, or the desire to just keep going.

However it’s not without it’s faults.  It’s so low and wide, it doesn’t have much lean angle at all… you cant rocket around the curves on these things.  And it’s brakes are not likely to pull the fillings out of your teeth.

But I don’t care!  I love this bike.  Unfortunately it’s not mine and at the end of the show I must give the keys back.  But the owner has said I can take it for a spin whenever I like.   This will have to be done from time to time as I’ve fallen in love with this machine.  It’s very generous of him to allow me to straddle this machine.  Because letting another man ride your Bike is like letting another man ride your woman.

My buddy Fenris has a Vulcan 900, and it’s a cool bike.  But the discontinued Drifter is a whole different ride.  With it’s super wide bars, couch like seat, Indian style fenders… it’s one of the coolest bikes I’ve ever ridden.

 

Monday’s Motorcycle

This Motorcycle today… It’s the Kawasaki ZX-11.  When it was in production, this bike was the fastest thing on two wheels.  The acceleration was unmatched and the top speed was…  far too fast for any reasonable person to want.  Now, there are faster and quicker bikes out there.  But the ZX-11 remains a monster and faster and quicker than most still. Now the current Speed King is the ZX-14, but the 11 is it’s Daddy.

Here’s the thing about this ZX-11 here.  It’s mine.  I picked it up yesterday.  When I got my Superhawk, this was the bike I had gone out to get.  Unfortunately the bike was in pieces as the owner was working on it.    I couldn’t just jump on it and run, so I had to go to a second option.  I loved the Superhawk, but it wasn’t what I had planned on buying.  For that reason I still wanted one, even though I had a great machine.  The Superhawk’s V Twin was fantastic engine, low RPM burbling, instant throttle response through all RPM’s… it’s a great machine to ride.  But the power did have a tangible top end.
The ZX-11, the power is different… It’s more like I’m riding a Jet Engine strapped to a pair of wheels.  I twist the throttle and the RPM’s come up, but not the speed… not yet… Like a Jet Turbine spooling up, the thrust doesn’t come until it spins up fast. But when it comes, it comes in a big way.  It surges forward like an F-22 Raptor and it doesn’t feel like there is any limit.

I thought the Superhawk was a fast bike.  I really did.  Because it was, but the ZX-11 is fast on a whole new level.  I’ve named this bike “Shadowfax” because it’s shown me the meaning of haste.  It’s also much more comfortable.  The riding position isn’t “Attack Mode”.  It’s more upright. Less fatiguing.   More wind protection.  You could ride this much farther distances… which is cool because it has a larger fuel capacity for more distance.  A much longer range machine.  Which is just what I’ve been wanting.

It’s a much wider bike.  Heavier.  But it still feels agile.  As much as the Superhawk was.  But I’ve promised my wife that I was done with the knee dragging.  My shoulder is far more injured than we knew and gives me more pain now than my arm and knee did after I crashed.  So my bride says I need to slow the hell down.  And I agree.  I do.  But she says that in a controlled environment, I can pursue my goal… 200 MPH.  It’s a compromise, but a fair one.  Rather hard though… because the bike wants to cruise at hyper velocity, so smooth and stable it’s like it’s nothing.  Speed is deceptive here.  With the wind protection, power, I thought I was cruising at 60.  I looked down and saw I was rolling at 90.   I have to check my speed all the time because it keeps building and I’m always letting off the gas. This bike wants speed… it’s made of it.

It’s also the first Kawasaki that I’ve ever bought.  It’s a far cry from a Honda.  In fact, it’s Honda’s chief rival for the Jap Bike market.   While I remain a Honda fan, these big Ninjas are truly impressive machines!

Update:  Sold the Superhawk for enough cash to not only buy this machine, but inspect it, register it, and pay the monthly mortgage.

 

Monday’s Motorcycle: Kawasaki KLR-650

I’ve been wanting one of these bikes for about 10 years now.  It’s the Two Wheel example of an SUV.  Go anywhere, do anything… if Jeep made a Motorcycle, it would be this.

You see them around town, passing through, usually overloaded with gear and stuff… going on Adventures… making me think about where they had been… where are they going… and wishing I was going too.  This has really put an Enduro type bike on my Radar.  While I keep looking at others, I always come back to the KLR-650.
It’s not just me.  The US Army and Marines have purchased hundreds of these KLR’s.  The Military versions are outfitted with Diesel engines and 8 gallon fuel tanks.  Go anywhere.  Do anything.  The KLR is that bike.  It’s not the best of the Enduros… the fastest… the easiest… whatever.  It’s a solid bike.  That’s what I want.  Sure, it looks like Crow T Robot, but come on… it’s a rig that gets you there and back again.  If Bilbo Baggins had one of these, The Hobbit would have been a Short Story.  One day I will own one of these, and I’ll ride the hell out of it.  I want a stable of different bikes… so wanting this one is not exactly me saying I don’t want another one like a Vstrom, Tiger or BMW enduro… I’ve just always wanted a KLR.

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Sold the Honda Magna

Saturday I unexpectedly made a deal with a family to sell my beloved Honda Magna. The day before, I was having lunch with my Bride and we talked bikes. I decided to just keep the Magna and tweak it to better suit my needs. Seat, tank, pipes. Simple enough.

Then after lunch on Saturday some folks come in to the gun shop and we come to an agreement.  I’m actually kinda torn on selling it.  The VF750C’s engine is truly one of the very best engines ever put into any motorcycle.   Honda really needs to bring back the Magna, but with some more modern upgrades.  But as I say farewell to this bike, I’ll be able to make acquaintance with a new bike.  There are three main options.
First option, is a Kawasaki ZX-1100.  Full sized sport-touring bike.  This is a long range road interstate warrior… exactly what I want and need.  This bike has the range that I wish I had invested in off the bat when I got the Magna.  But it had been awhile since I rode, so it was wisdom to get into something to get my Biker Blood flowing again without spilling it.   But a bike like this… it’s a lot of machine. It’s a Starship that can cross the country at Warp Factor 10 like other bikes cruise at 60.
Second option, if the first one is taken before I get to it… is a Yamaha FZ1.  A Standard Liter Bike, all around easy bike to run on, but with good sized fuel tank that would get me where I wanted to go.  Not the most exciting of machines, but an all around solid bike that would do very well for me.
The third choice actually surprised me.  A Zuke Boulevard.  It’s not much bigger than the Magna, but it does have the fuel tank that I want.  It lacks the Hasty that the Magna has, but with the better fuel economy, bigger tank… it doubles the range that the Magna had. Electronic ignition, computer controlled fuel injection… it would be a very nice machine.  And it’s larger, more comfortable than the Magna… I could deal with that happily but it would be settling.

A lot of guys are telling me that I need to get a Harley.  Sure, I could do an XR1200.  Or a cool Dyna set up like Jax Teller’s… but I don’t want a bike that is loud, and you are just not finding them for around three grand, because that’s all that I’m spending.  I don’t want to Bank Roll a Bike.  I’m not going to carry a note on something that can so easily be ripped out from under you by an idiot in a Cage.

I’m crawling all over KSL.com’s Classifieds.  But if anyone out there knows of a GOOD bike for around 3 grand… hit me up.  I’m open to good suggestions.