Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 Montreal Motorcycle Show


Winter is much too long for motorcycling amateurs in Quebec.  Fortunately, there are moto shows where we can drool over the latest models.  So, I went to the Montreal Moto Show located at the Palais des Congres accompanied by my better half with the mission to meet each motorcycle constructor representative, introduce myself and briefly talk about DSAventureQuebec.

First stop, ZERO Motorcycle



With gas prices soaring, its no surprise to see companies like ZERO motorcycle presenting 100% electric motorcycles.  With lithium batteries, their off-road version has an autonomy of about 50 miles (80 kms).  Their road version however is good for a surprising 110 miles (180 kms) of autonomy as per the rep.  This feat is most likely reachable in perfect conditions, but it is more than decent for this type of bike… and more than enough to commute daily to work.

For an adventure ride it is still not long enough considering that it is not yet possible to recharge along the way, but I think that ZERO Motorcycle is going in the right direction.  The autonomy will most likely increase year after year and I will probably ride a long range electric bike before I retire from motorcycling; a plus for the environment.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Versys 1000 2012 (en)


Despite its road bike look, this motorcycle probably hides some off-road capabilities comparable to the 1200GS, MultiStrada, Tiger Explorer, CrossTourer and other big adventure bikes.

But before looking deeper into the dual sport aspect, lets talk about bike esthetics.  Kawasaki did not attempt to copy the latest style which is the front fender popularized by BMW and followed by many.  I think it is honorable when a company follows its own original design.  However it took me quite some time to get used to this bike’s look.  The first thing I noticed is how strange the front part with juxtaposed lights look. It seems to me that the Versys 650 is more appealing even if it is similar.  I included a Versys 650 image below.  What do you think?


I hope that Kawasaki made the saddle comfier than the Versys 650.  The 650 seat becomes uncomfortable after 20 miles and I don’t think it has been improved since the first Versys.  In general it is a good idea to rent a bike and go for a long ride before buying one just to see how it feels.  If the seat is not comfortable enough, check if an optional gel seat is available.

Another detail to check: mirrors, on the 650 they are bad.  The vision is totally blurry at around 5000 rpm, but even worse they fold back on the highway because of the wind pressure.  Hopefully this problem was fixed for the big Versys.  Otherwise after market mirrors are available: I bought those replacement mirror for my own Versys on ebay.

There are also positive aspects.  Firstly, Kawasaki kept an eye on the weight.  At 526 lbs wet (239 kg, remove about 33 lbs-15 kg dry), the weight is close to the lightest bike of the category.  Second, OEM tires are Scorpions Trail, indicating that this bike has some off-road capacities for level 0 or 1 trails.  However, forget rocky or muddy roads as ground clearance is limited.  I don’t think installing a skid plate is required (otherwise than for esthetical purposes) precisely because the ground clearance already restrict access to roads where it could be useful.

As it is the case for many big adventure motorcycles, the Versys 1000 is a less interesting choice for dual sport adventure riders.  However this bike is right on the spot for those who ride mostly on paved roads with occasional light off-road adventuring.

To verify:

  • seat comfort;
  • mirrors;
  • oil filter positioning (on the smaller Versys, this is not an issue);
  • valve adjustment cycle (15 000 miles, 24000 km on the smaller Versys, great!);
  • autonomy, at least 180 miles  (almost  220 miles (350 km) on the 650!)