It Better Fall Over! Arguing about the Niken

Yamaha spread the three wheeled vibe further with the introduction of the TriCity 300, a scooter that borrows some of the Niken’s engineering prowess by adding a similar set-up to the front of a 292cc scooter. What the new offering has, and the Niken does not, is Yamaha’s tilt-lock assist system that keeps the machine upright during low speed maneuvers like pushing it around the parking spots. Well that bit of news appeared to start a debate on Niken forums when some owners complained that the system hadn’t been introduced on the Niken while others stated they would not have bought a Niken if the system was included on that machine because it would have indicated that the Niken wasn’t really a motorcycle. A dividing rubber line appears to have been drawn between scooters and motorcycles dependent on their ability to fall over. Accordingly, a motorcycle should be able to fall over whilea scooter that can’t fall over is just what the engineer ordered.

We believe that no motorcycle should fall over. If there was some type of internal dynamo that kept every bike upright when parked too steeply at a curb, jostled around on the back of a truck or maneuvered into tight spaces in a garage, it would be an excellent idea. True, we also believe when  riding a motorcycle every ounce of concentration should be devoted to keeping the rubber side down. But in that vein are not items like traction control, wheelie control, ABS, riding modes and hill assist specifically designed to keep a bike upright on its two wheels and not falling over? As one forum participant mentions, lifting a fallen Niken is a challenging task and three wheels will only make it more difficult.

Yamaha trinity

All New or Substantially Revised – 2020 V-Strom 1050

2020 Suzuki Strom 1050For 2020 the big V-Strom got a new name, the V-Strom 1050, and an “all new” designation from Suzuki. It would follow from the name that the bike must have received a bump in displacement for 2020 much as Honda’s Africa Twin enjoyed for 2020. But this is where things get a bit fuzzy. The V-Strom’s displacement in closer to 1050 than 1000 at 1037cc but it is the same displacement that the bike had as the V-Strom 1000. There have been improvements to boost power including increasing valve lift, compression rates and larger throttle bodies combined with a new engine management which is ride-by-wire but displacement has remained the same. There are other technical improvements including increased radiator cooling capacity, a liquid cooled oil cooler and a slightly revised exhaust system.


What is most noticeable about the 2020 V-Strom is the front end styling changes that are said to pay tribute to the DR Big and DR-Z Desert Racer. The new look is chunky in the front with a big square stacked headlight that looks as though it may have been borrowed from the new Katana and a new height adjustable windscreen said to reduce turbulence. Behind the headlight is an all new, multifunction display.


So is it all new or revised? We are going to go with a revision of what was already a good offering be it called a 1000 or 1050.

2020 Indian Motorcycle Challenger

2020 indian motorcycle challenger

No, we aren’t talking about a presidential candidate – there is enough talk of that nature elsewhere so we won’t put you through it here. The challenger we are referring to is the 2020 Indian Motorcycle Challenger, the company’s new bagger. The most significant of aspect of the bike’s is the engine.  A new 1769cc, 122hp, 128 ft-lbs torque liquid-cooled twin that brings into Indian’s stable a modern, large displacement engine – which will likely represent the future of big v-twins in addition to the 999cc engine in the Scout and the 1203cc in the FTR. The remaining two air-cooled motors are the ThunderStroke 111 and 116 in the Chief and Chieftain. With the additional power, the Challenger should be a formidable force.

But, and there is often a but ….. large displacement v-twin cruisers, some with bags, some without, with liquid-cooled motor flooded the market in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki were all building big liquid cooled v-twins – and expensive ones at that. All those offerings, with only a few exceptions, are gone. The market has been stating quite definitively that it is moving on if for no other reason than a large portion of the potential market can’t afford it. You have to look around and ask yourself – at this point in motorcycling, does the world need a new $26,999 CDN bagger?  Or $33,999 CDN bagger if you opt for the blacked out Dark Horse version, only $500 cheaper than Indian’s other offering, the Chieftain Dark Horse. The bike is unlikely to grow the market but only cannibalize the market that is already shrinking. There isn’t a large pool of new customers that were holding out on purchasing a domestic v-twin bagger because there were a lack of liquid cooled offerings or that they felt the power of existing domestic v-twins was too anemic.

Indian Motorcycle seems so intent on chasing down Harley-Davidson customers, which to be fair, they have been succeeding in doing, that they have disregarded the fact that Harley-Davidson is itself trying to chase down new customers outside of the cruiser segment. The LiveWire, the upcoming street fighter and adventure touring bike are all aimed at finding that new market that is so desperately needed to build the industry. A new bagger, given Indian parent company’s Polaris expertise in so many other other segments, is surprising. There is some indication that Indian will again follow Harley-Davidson’s lead and send an electric bike to market eventually – but Polaris bought Brammo years ago, there should already be an electric motorcycle from the company for no other reason than to bring new eyes to the company. But electric motorcycles, unless they are relatively inexpensive and utilitarian, are never going to be the company’s roadmap to mass success. Success is going to be a bike that people did not expect not one they did.

Indian has the Scout model which starts in Canada a $10,999 – an attractive, modern engineered v-twin cruiser and the company’s the most inexpensive model. The stroke of genius, if there is one, is going to come somewhere around or below this price point. It is where the market needs the flash and excitement, the jaw dropping appeal of something new. The 2020 Indian Motorcycle Challenger is undoubtable a well engineered and well thought out machine, but is it what the motorcycle world need right now?

When Double R’s Aren’t Enough

It is the equivalent of turning it up to eleven with not just two Rs, but three. Honda has introduced a new litre class sport bike, the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, to occupy a spot at the pinnacle of the company’s motorcycle offerings. The Fireblade features a more compact inline four and an all new frame aimed at increasing both power and rigidity.

Cost may be an objective as the price of the bike which will be available commencing in summer 2020 has yet to be determine but a MSRP in the vicinity of, or higher than, Yamaha’s new R1M at $27,999 CDN doesn’t seem to be out of the question. Both bikes spec out with  Ohlins Electronic Suspension, a six axis IMU and an entire suite of rider’s aids.

In Honda’s words:

Focusing on outright track performance, engineers have developed the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP with engine and chassis technology from MotoGP, the all-new model drawing heavily on the RCV combustion efficiency and low-friction solutions. The engine is more compact than the inline four-cylinder powerplant it replaces and benefits from the use of high-end technologies like titanium connecting rods, forged aluminum pistons and finger-follower rocker arms.

The CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP uses an all-new aluminum diamond frame with increased vertical and torsional rigidity, but decreased horizontal rigidity, for maximum levels of grip and feel. A longer swingarm—stamped from aluminum of 18 individual thicknesses—is developed with lessons learned through Honda’s Grand Prix efforts, further highlighting the connection between the all-new model and Honda’s championship-winning race bikes.

Honda Selectable Torque Control (HSTC) has been optimized and an adjustable Start Mode joins Power, Engine Brake and Wheelie Control; a quick shifter is standard. The CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP is outfitted with a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), three-level Honda Electronic Steering Damper (HESD) and second-generation Öhlins Smart Electronic Control (S-EC) suspension and user interface. New Brembo Stylema brake calipers bite 330mm rotors through two-level ABS. The bodywork and riding position have an uncompromising focus on aerodynamic performance, and the fairing features MotoGP-derived winglets to generate downforce. A full-color TFT screen and Honda Smart Key are the finishing touches.

Virtual Racing Teammate for Rossi

Yamaha’s premier racing team, the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, has a new teammate for the legendary Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales. The name is Lorenzo Daretti and he hails from Rome.

Lorenzo is already a two time MotoGP champion for the eSport segment. That would be the video game version of MotoGP. The nineteen year old Daretti trains for three hours a day to compete online as a Yamaha factory rider. The gamer was introduce to a world that might not be as familiar with his name as that of his two team mates at an event in Gerno de Lesmo, Italy as described by the press release:

“… defending World Champion Daretti entered the stage, that featured a custom Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP replica YZF-R1, sporting his race number, 58, and personal logo, ’Trast73‘. With the support of Monster Energy, Alpinestars, Arai and Aldo Drudi, both the Italian youngster and his avatar have matching customised rider gear (leathers, boots, gloves and helmet) for the 2019 season, finishing off the complete Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider look. Leading gaming brand MSI will provide Lorenzo with a high performance laptop for the season.”

2019 Ride for Dad – Show the Man Some Love

The Ride for Dad has announced a full slate of rides across Canada for 2019 in support of prostate cancer research and public awareness. Since 2000, Ride for Dad has donated more than $33 million to the Prostate Cancer Fight Foundation.

Join a ride and raise some money for a good cause.

Visit for more information.

Avalon, NL Saturday, June 15

Gander, NL Saturday, June 15

Western NL Saturday, June 15

Montreal, QC Saturday, May 25

Ottawa, ON Saturday, June 1

Kingston-Quinte, ON Saturday, May 25

Durham, ON Saturday, June 8

Huronia, ON Saturday, May 25

Niagara, ON Saturday, June 15

Grand River, ON Saturday, June 1

London, ON Sunday, May 26

Windsor, ON Sunday, May 26

Nipissing, ON Saturday, June 15

Winnipeg, MB Saturday, May 25

Saskatoon, SK Saturday, June 15

Swift Current, SK Saturday, June 8

Fort McMurray, AB Saturday, June 15

Edmonton, AB Saturday, June 8

Red Deer, AB Saturday, August 24

Calgary, AB Saturday, June 22

Didsbury, AB Saturday, June 22

Okanagan, BC Sunday, June 9

Whitehorse, YT Saturday, June 8

You Can’t Ride 55 … kph

It is often the differences in speed that cause the most serious incidents. Perhaps this bit of news will mitigate some of that.

Ontario is looking at new regulations regarding traffic laws. The province is considering increasing the maximum speed limit allowed on major highways from 100kph to 120kph. Police groups seem eager to be part of the discussion and would like to see some proof that increasing the speed limit does not affect public safety rather than simply allowing people to get places faster. What we would most like to know is the effect on the outliers. If the speed limit is increased, what is the speed of the top ten percent of traffic – it isn’t going to be 120 kph.

What seems like a better idea than raising the speed limits – although it doesn’t have the wow factor – is the increasing of  fines for people who go too slow in the fast lanes as this, what’s the phrase – level of obliviousness,  poses far more risk to other road users as traffic continuously changes lanes to get around the slower vehicle. The minimum fine will be increasing from $60 to $150. The maximum fine will remain at  $1000 – how slow do you have to be going for that fine?

Let’s be careful out there.

The Salt Lake City Split

You are heading south of the border. You have been overtaken by a sense of brash derring do inspired by two cans of energy drink and a triple espresso. Your dream is to try lane splitting. Like, right now! Gotta keep moving! Where’s the next Starbucks? You could jump in the deep end of the pool, and we are talking the really deep end, and head to LA. Eight lanes of freeway traffic moving in the same direction as you. So far so good. Eight lanes of freeway traffic moving at 15kph, not so good. However, California was the first state to allow lane splitting and it has been happening for years. You will see motorcycles on the freeway splitting lanes between tractor trailers and Mercedes driving soccer moms and starlets. There are rules but from a casual glance, it seems pretty interpretative by variation. On the other hand many vehicles drivers seem to be aware that a motorcyclist might just be coming up that painted line between lanes on anything between a Gold Wing and a Vespa. Having been there and done that, it can be a little hairy for the uninitiated. Good news! You can now dip your toe into the kiddie pool for lane splitting and head to Utah where the state is allowing a trial lane splitting period on roads with speeds below 45mph – so no  freeway jaunts allowed. If it turns out not to be in the liking of the populace not on two wheels, the law can be repealed in 2022.


That’s Different – GS Trophy Switches Saddles to the F850GS

Perhaps it was ho-hum seeing the R1200GS tackle every log, rock, river, mud bog, dirt track, windswept no-man’s land and jungle thicket with relative aplomb. The bike could pretty much tackle everything that was thrown at it in the previous versions of the GS Trophy leading some to believe it was going to be predictable. Albeit seeing what those teams and individual rider’s had to endure to be crowned the winning team, predictable it most certainly wasn’t.

To make things different, BMW has announced that the 2020 GS Trophy which will be taking place in New Zealand will feature teams aboard the F850GS.  We don’t think it is going to make the course easier, we might go so far to say it might lead to the coarse being even harder. The F850GS is a smaller, lighter machine which will tempt organizers to route the teams through even more challenging terrain and challenging special tests.

It is all about being hard and that is what it will be. Three new teams will be saddling up for the competition in 2020 and the global women’s teams will also be back in action.


If your heart was set on the smallest of the “Neo Sport” bikes from Honda your minimal displacement in Canada will be with the CB300R as the CB125R found in Europe and elsewhere in the world will not be making it to our shores in the discernible future. The CB125R is an aggressive looking machine with many of the styling cues found in the three larger bikes in the line of which the CB1000R is the big daddy. The only machine doing small displacement street duty in Honda’s Canadian line-up is the Grom with its air cooled 125 and most definitely sits in a different category than the CB125R which has more in common with the sportier CBR125 which has been out of the line-up for  years.