The world’s oldest motorcycle brand seems to still be getting it

I’m speaking/writing about Royal Enfield of course, which was bought and is now owned by Royal Enfield (India).

First, let’s hear Jay Leno about them, and why he added one to his garage (with his collection of hundreds of cars and motorcycles) as it seems:

2019 Royal Enfield Motorcycle – Jay Leno’s Garage

To me, that makes a lot of sense. Almost as good as my Honda NTV as it seems. Now, that Himalayan motorcycle should be introduced by someone who actively rides it, and I found Noraly, a 31-year-old Dutch as she describes herself on her page. She bought a 2018 Himalayan in India, and rode it to Malaysia to do a first conclusion on it:

10.000 KM Bike review Royal Enfield Himalayan (2018) – BS4

Ok, less than 25hp, I get it. But Noraly’s right – the fact that this is everything but high tech makes it so appealing for round-the-world trips like hers. And this easy-to-maintain part was also what fascinated Jay in his video above.

Seems like Royal Enfield (India) is a force to reckon with. All three of the motorcycles shown here make much more sense than the current electro craze.

As always, thanks for reading, and for watching.

Beating a giant

Look at this:

YAMAHA SR 250 – Scrambler – episode 6

If you have been to Asia, you probably know that a 2 wheeler with around 100cc is all you need, so this 250cc would be awesome for some urban mobility. And I have looked up the German pages of Yamaha Motor, but no, you can’t buy anything like this around here. So a one-man show with his 3D printer and some bike shed beats a multi billion $$$ corporation.

And yes, I’d take this any day over a 200+hp 4 wheeler. In the cities, this would beat the crap out of your 2 ton cars.

Thanks for reading, watching, and thinking.

Girl power

After posting Chelsea’s story about her build of a Rickman motorcycle lately, I thought that I had seen more videos of girls and women doing great things lately, so here are a few more. First, it’s about motorcycles again, and about two friends from Australia having a good time with their Yamahas:

Stories of Bike | Sister (A ’94 Yamaha SRV250 Story)

But back to music. Also from down under I found a great guitar player lately, Stephanie Jones. And this is about as perfect as it can be:

Latin Fingerstyle On A Classical Guitar

And here’s a singer from UK, performing a classic here in Germany ca. 2 years ago. And yes I know – Joss Stone has the same song also with Jeff Beck and others, but I prefer this one – which simply took my breath away. This lady really got the Blues:

Joss Stone – I Put A Spell On You (Jazzwoche, 2017)

In Wikiloops we also have great singers of course, and I was surprised to find one of us doing a cover in the ‘tubes from some 4 or more years ago – but what a lovely one it is. So listen to our Ms Shi in this one:

CLASSIC POP COVER SONGS- “Walk On By” (Alan Curtis Cover)

Oh, and before I forget it: 3 days ago it was Audrey Hepburn’s birthday, she would have turned 90 by now. So let’s celebrate and remember her a bit as well:

Happy Birthday Audrey Hepburn!!! (Culture Code – Make Me Move ft. Karra)

As always, thanks for reading, listening, and watching.

What a lovely motorcycle build…

Look:

Chelsea’s MkIII Wasp Rickman Metisse

I often thought that if we’d all use something like this, it would buy us some time until we’d have to collectively change to electrical vehicles…

Thanks for watching.

Auf Deutsch: zwei Vergleiche, 3 Links (und nachträglich: ein Video)

Zunächst einmal eine Definition, oder besser gesagt zwei, zum Thema Motorrad (man ahnte es vielleicht aufgrund des “featured images” hier):

1. Das ideale Revier für Motorräder sind Landstraßen. Heizen und Geradeausbrettern auf Dosenbahnen ist was was kurzfristig Spaß macht (und den Horizont erweitert), aber es macht nicht wirklich glücklich. Und für Städte gibt es Roller, die dort fast alles besser machen als “richtige” Motorräder. Aber auf Landstraßen kann man den Alltag vergessen, die Kurven genießen und die eigentliche Fahrphysik von Zweirädern optimal auskosten. Nur Fliegen soll angeblich schöner sein (was ich noch nicht ausprobiert habe; zu teuer).

2. Das ideale Landstraßenmotorrad? Wie folgt:

  • zweizylindrig
  • um 80Nm
  • um 80PS
  • um 180kg

Man kann dies locker nehmen und etwa Ein- oder Dreizylinder mit in die Wahl einbeziehen, aber im Grunde stimmen diese Überlegungen, und sie bewahrheiten sich mit den Jahren und den gefahrenen Kilometern immer mehr.

Nun sind Menschen unterschiedlich, und das ist ja auch gut so. Sollte es allerdings welche geben die mit den oben genannten beiden Definitionen grundsätzlich etwas anfangen können und außerdem an einspuriger Fortbewegung interessiert sein, hier sind zwei Links die die meines Erachtens interessantesten Exemplare der passenden Gattung “Landstraßenmotorräder” aufzeigen:

KTM 690 Duke und Yamaha MT-07 im Vergleichstest und
Ducati Scrambler Full Throttle und Yamaha XSR 700 im Vergleichstest

Vier sehr interessante Motorräder, zwei davon sehr artverwandt (gleiche Basis), alle unter 10.000 Euro (die günstigste ab ca. 6.500 Euro inklusive ABS) zu haben.

Falls man also die zweirädrige Fortbewegung als Gegenmittel zum Verkehrsinfarkt sehen und sie wie ich sogar mit Begriffen wie Freiheit assoziieren sollte, dann wären dies die Quellen sich zu informieren. Wenn ich selbst heute ein neues Motorrad bräuchte wäre es mit ziemlicher Sicherheit eine von diesen, vielleicht auch noch eine Triumph Street Triple. Aber meine engere Wahl würde sich wohl auf die Zweizylinder konzentrieren.

Schlüsselwort im letzten Abschnitt war: ein *neues* Motorrad. Und das brauch ich nicht wirklich, denn meins ist inzwischen zum “Kultbike” geworden.

Vor 22 Jahren wurde sie produziert, hat also den hohen (Nicht-Stummel-) Lenker, aber noch den kurzen Auspuff und damit ungedrosselt 57PS. Meine war vom Vorvorbesitzer aufgrund der damals günstigeren Versicherungstarife auf 50PS gedrosselt bestellt, womit ich ebenfalls leben kann – es gibt wichtigere Dinge als Zahlen und Höchstleistungen. Im Vergleich zu den oben genannten Maschinen ist meine mit 650ccm, 50PS und 210kg zwar weiter weg vom idealen Landstraßenkrad, dafür hat sie einen Kardan, und das heißt wie beim Auto: tanken und fahren statt alle 1.000km nach der Kette sehen zu müssen. So gesehen ist meine Maschine also nicht nur damals fortschrittlicher gewesen als alle möglichen Mitbewerber, auch heute würde mir vor allem der Kardan bei allen noch so schönen und spaßigen Alternativen wohl am meisten fehlen.

Und: sie ist eine Honda. Nichts geht kaputt, alles funktioniert, sie macht alles mit und springt immer an. Auch nach 22 Jahren noch. Typische Musterschülerin halt, und wie Motorrad (die Zeitung bzw. das Onlinemagazin) schreibt: was soll daran langweilig sein?

Danke für’s Lesen.

P.S.: Alternativen? Ja, die gibt es. Wenn man wie ich zum Beispiel auf Kardan steht könnte man sich noch die Moto Guzzi V7 ansehen, die aber im Vergleich zu meiner immer schon und immer noch *richtig* “old school” war und ist. Leider wird die nur mit 48PS angeboten, wer mehr will sollte sich die V9 Modelle ansehen, die dann aber wieder etwas schwerer sind. Und dann sind da noch eine BMW 800 oder die inzwischen neu aufgelegte Suzuki SV650, beides auch schöne Motorräder mit jeweils knapp unter oder über 200kg.

Honda? Ich bin ja kürzlich die aktuelle (2016er) NC750S gefahren, und das ist zweifellos eine schöne Maschine. Aber trotz Plastik und Kette wiegt die mit normaler Schaltung schon 217kg, mit dem für die Stadt sicher empfehlenswerten Doppelkupplungsgetriebe sogar 227kg, als hochbeinigere “X”-Variante – möglicher Ersatz zum Beispiel für eine Transalp – jeweils noch 3kg mehr. Die haben jeweils 55PS was sich nach nicht viel anhört, aber für die Landstraße auch genug ist. Nur: wo ist da der Fortschritt, wenn im Vergleich zu meiner NTV trotz minderwertigerer Technik (Kette/Plastik) im Endeffekt mehr Gewicht herauskommt? Immerhin ist das Gewicht gut zentralisiert und mit tiefem Schwerpunkt realisiert, was beim Fahren nicht stört. Aber rangieren kann dann schon eine Plackerei werden. In der Klasse unter 200kg gibt’s leider nur die in Thailand produzierte CB500F – vielleicht auch ein nettes Maschinchen, aber sicher nicht mit den oben genannten vergleichbar und mit kleinerem Motor eher eine “Drehorgel”.

Fazit, für mich: ich werd meine fahren bis sie auseinanderfällt oder bis daß der TÜV uns scheidet, was beides unwahrscheinlich ist. Und wenn es doch passieren sollte werd ich mir die weiter oben im Artikel erwähnten Maschinen einmal näher ansehen (die Street Triple bin ich schon einmal gefahren, eine MT-07 oder XSR700 würd ich gerne einmal fahren). Die sind alle nicht so “breitbandig” wie meine – zum Beispiel für Zweipersonenbetrieb – aber Spaß machen die garantiert. Und, um noch einen weiteren Link zu bemühen, glaubt nicht nur *mir*, sondern der gesamten versammelten Presse

P.P.S.: Ihr seid immer noch hier und habt bis hierher gelesen? Dann seid Ihr offensichtlich an Motorrädern interessiert. 😉 Nun, bikesocial.co.uk hat kürzlich 4 so genannte “Retro Bikes” unter die Lupe genommen und sie miteinander verglichen – hier habt Ihr die Meinungen von 4 Fahrern:

Wirklich: es/Ihr braucht nicht mehr um Spaß zu haben. Vergeßt all die unbequemen Supersportler, die Euch im 1. Gang in die Illegalität bringen oder Euch gleich rückwärts abwerfen – die sind für Rennstrecken gemacht, nicht für öffentliche Straßen. Vergeßt all die “Adventure” oder “(Reise-)Enduro” Kisten – das ist wie ein SUV in der Stadt, nämlich vollkommen sinnlos (obwohl angesichts des Zustands unserer Straßen hierüber noch diskutiert werden könnte). Vergeßt außerdem Modebegriffe wie “Retro” oder Schubladendenken allgemein – dies sind ganz normale Motorräder.

Und: zwischen 50 und 100PS auf *zwei* Rädern deklassiert so ziemlich jedes halbwegs bezahlbare Auto was Ihr finden werdet. In der Beschleunigung, und im Fahrspaß sowieso. Danke nochmal für’s Lesen.

P.P.P.S.: noch ein interessanter Vergleich Honda NC750S (die ich ja schon gefahren hab) und Yamaha MT-07, bei Motorrad News.

Under seventeen minutes

This week, Michael Dunlop rode the Isle of Man Snaefell Mountain Course in under 17 minutes, which makes it a new record, with him the record holder. Michael is the son of Robert and the nephew of Joey, and his brother races as well.

His average speed was 133.393 mph (214.675 km/h) over the 37.73 miles (60.72 km), and he did both his first and second laps in under 17 minutes.

Really want to see this? Ok, here you go:

You can also see it on Youtube, or on RevZilla where I found it.

Using (and trying) another motorcycle

Here in Germany, cars, motorcycles and so on have to get checked each two years. Normally I did this on Saturdays, but I don’t like the nearest service station that much, so this time I decided to have it done at a dealer’s place. And the nearest Honda motorcycle dealer is in Groß-Gerau, where Zuleikha also goes to school.

Since they have these checks only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I asked the dealer for a replacement, because this way I could do it in two steps: bring my machine there on Monday, go home and to work next day with whatever he would give me, and change back on Tuesday. That would have the additional advantage to try something new, change of perspective and so on. And this is exactly how we did it, yesterday and today.

I was lucky with the weather – while we’ve had severe storms, damage, and even loss of lives in Germany yesterday, I didn’t even get really wet. A few drops of rain around the airport and the following 5 kilometers, that was about it. And without having asked the dealer for a specific model, he took my machine and gave me almost exactly what I would have liked to test anyway: a brand new (less than 1100km on the clock) Honda NC750S.

I would have loved to try the version with Honda’s new DCT (double clutch transmission), but he gave me the manual one which is 10kgs lighter, so I didn’t complain.

First impression: the fuel gauge showed only 1 bar in the instruments, so I’d have to go just around one left corner to get some more. Engine on, and wow – I loved that sound instantly. It’s a twin cylinder engine with 750cc, which is about 100cc more than mine, and tho it’s no V-Twin like mine, the pistons are on 270 degrees, so it almost sounds like a V engine. A bit deeper because it’s bigger, and very very nice. Ok, first gear in, let the clutch come carefully without much gas, and wow again – this feels light and easy! Tho the machine weighs some 7kgs more than mine, it handles actually easier – everything felt smooth and just cool.

After fueling her up I just went home like I would have done with my own one. And I was very impressed. This machine had some grunt and torque which just felt right. Honda started this NC family with 700cc a few years ago, which is about half the engine of a Honda Jazz, one of their cute and very practical cars. Which means that this isn’t a high-rev firefly, but it has lots of torque at low revs. Perfect for country roads, where riding is fun anyway (motorways aren’t fun but just fast connections between nicer roads). I loved that motorcycle instantly, and also showed it to wife & kid after dinner.

So today I just went to work like usual, except with more fun than usual. And because I wanted to take a few photos for you, for me, and for this article I parked the machine outside at work, where the light is much better than in the garage. So here are a few photos of it:

7e0_5314346-honda-nc750s

Honda NC750S 2016, left side

7e0_5314347-honda-nc750s

Honda NC750S 2016, Instruments

As you can see, I was still in first gear when taking this photo, the tank is full, and average fuel consumption is 3.8 liters on 100km (about 74mpg).

7e0_5314348-honda-nc750s

Honda NC750S 2016, trunk (with my helmet in it)

And yes, what looks like a fuel tank is in fact a trunk, and it fits my helmet (with a few corpses on it) 😉 The real tank is under the seat, which allowed Honda to design some kind of family out of this series, with another higher version called NC750X (a “tallrounder” like some people name them), and even a scooter. All with the same frame and engine, and because parts of that engine came from an automobile they’re even relatively cheap (around 6k€ for this one including ABS brakes. The DCT is an extra 1k€ and comes as standard in the scooter).

7e0_5314349-honda-nc750s

Honda NC750S 2016, right side

7e0_5314350-honda-nc750s

Honda NC750S 2016, front

So would I buy one? If I were looking for a brand new motorcycle at this moment, then probably yes, tho I would also have a closer look onto the Yamaha MT-07 which is both stronger and lighter, and costs about the same. This Honda oozes quality like every Honda, so as a daily commuter it would probably be the better choice – especially so with the DCT. The Yamaha could be more fun, light *and* strong is always fun when riding motorcycles. Is it as good as this Honda? Who knows, only time will tell. But Honda has a long history of building machines which are most reliable, and designed with the user in mind.

Is it better than my own one? Well, it’s 22 years younger, and that you feel instantly. But like I said above, this is 7kgs more than mine, a DCT would add another 10kgs, and mine comes with a cardan drive shaft! Which basically means that it’s maintenance-free, just fuel her up and go. Like a car.

But you can always invest in an automatic oiling system for the chain – these cost around 200€ or so. You’ll save that on the first chain alone, which will then survive 3 times as long as usual. It’s just install and forget, mostly (well you should check that oil reservoir once a year or so, but otherwise this will come much closer to a motorcycle like mine).

So for a new and kind of do-it-all machine this is probably one of the best you could get; for my friend (and motorcycle journalist) Clemens it *is* the best, as he writes here or here (in German). Hint: he calls himself a “weight Nazi”, so this is what he bought for himself. But asked his opinion about this Honda vs. the Yamaha he answered that you can’t really compare them. You have to check and to think about what you need and want.

While I was outside of the company this morning, I saw both a NC750X (the “tallrounder”), and an “Integra” scooter passing by. That scooter sounded exactly like the motorcycle, that’s why I looked. And it was a colleague, riding it into the garage of our next building, so during my lunch break I went to have a look. And there it was, right in between lots of other bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, and cars:

7e0_5314351-honda-integra

Honda Integra Scooter

Thanks for reading.

Using my motorcycle

I showed you some black & white photos of my motorcycle lately, explaining what makes it so special. And since it has to go through its bi-annual inspection/surveillance this month, I decided to first use it a bit of course. The weather is slowly getting better – which it should, considering that it’s end of May already – and riding a motorbike is just plain fun.

So I took it to work, where I also parked it inside of the garage when the weather was uncertain:

7e0_5204329-motorcycle-garage

My motorcycle. In my employers’ garage.

Last Saturday, I visited our local Honda dealer and made appointments for its checkup, and I also said that if it has to stay overnight, then I’d need a replacement to go to work next day. The dealer said “Sure”, so I’ll ride something new soon. Let’s see what he’ll give me.

But I also wanted to look at some motorcycle from another brand and vendor, so I went to the next dealer, not far away. I couldn’t test ride that specific model, but only sit on it in the store:

7e0_5214330-bicycle-75hp

Sitting on a bicycle with 75hp

This is a Yamaha MT-07, and right after the Beamer “Big Bird” (1200GS), it’s at the moment the most sold motorcycle in Germany. And just climbing onto its seat is enough to explain that success: this is some 30kg less than mine, tho it is also some 25hp stronger. It’s also a twin cylinder engine and should be real fun to ride.

Someone who saw that photo on Flickr asked whether I plan to get this, and I said no, not at the moment. If I’d have 6k€ spare change laying around, I certainly would. But I have a very nice motorcycle, and there are other things to pay.

My helmet is kind of dissolving from the inside – the pad right above the center of my head is falling apart, a well-known issue with older Arai helmets (and mine is almost as old as my motorbike, so…). Because of this, I started to always wear a storm hood under the helmet, and I decided that this is no fun with my long hair – so that had to go.

So on Sunday, both Mitchie and Zuleikha gave me a haircut (thanks ladies!), and after that, Zuleikha also took my portrait:

7e0_5224338-wolfgang-lonien

Wolfgang Lonien, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2016, by Hanna Zuleikha Lonien

And with the beginning of this week, the rain came. Plus it was rather cold for May. But the prediction for today was better, so I took another chance to ride to work, this time parking the motorcycle outside again:

7e0_5254339-honda-ntv-1994

Honda NTV, 1994

I took the first two photos using my 14mm Panasonic wide angle lens, but both the portrait and this last one were taken with the 45mm Olympus short telephoto lens (the portrait with f/6.3 and a studio strobe, the motorcycle with the lens wide open at f/1.8).

Tomorrow is a public holiday around here, so it’s a day off. On Friday I’ll have to take the car to transport something, but next week will begin with early shifts, and with the exchange of motorcycles at the Honda dealer. So I’ll report about that of course. With photos.

Thanks for reading.

First short ride (for 2016)

Tho the prediction was rain, I took out my motorcycle today. Checked tyre pressure at a local gas station (so, not this one), and then went to Groß-Gerau, where Zuleikha goes to school and where the nearest Honda dealer is.

And indeed I caught a few drops of rain while having a smoke there, but nothing special, so I went back to the same gas station to fill it up again after its long break. And here it is beside our car, after my short ride:

7e0_5164324-sfx-trix-honda-ntv

Honda NTV (1994)

What is so special about this motorcycle? It’s this:

7e0_5164326-sfx-trix-cardan-shaft

Cardan shaft (Honda NTV from 1994)

It has no chain and no belt, but is shaft-driven. And still it isn’t much above 200kg. Plus it’s a Honda – it’s rather young (just barely 22), but it runs like on its first day. Purrs like a kitten, as we say here.

Thanks for viewing.

Preparations during Pentecost

I’m preparing things to get my motorcycle running – want to use it to go to work, plus I have to get it checked soon.

First thing of course is to give it power:

7e0_5154322-charging-battery

Charging a motorcycle battery

After that is done – which should be tomorrow morning I assume – I can take her for a ride, check tyre pressure and so on. Just making sure it’s ok to ride.

Of course I’ll take some photos…

Thanks for reading.