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Top 10 best selling motorcycle brands in the world 2016-2017:

10. Harley-Davidson Motor Company

9. Moto Guzzi

8. Aprilia

7. Triumph

6. Honda Motor Company

5. Suzuki Motor Corporation

4. Yamaha Motor Company

3. Ducati

2. BMW

1. Kawasaki

America’s Victory Motorcycles shuts the doors after 18 years

Polaris Industries has today announced it will cease operations of Victory Motorcycles, effective immediately. The news is a bombshell for the American motorcycle marketplace and comes on the back of revelations Polaris was unable to make Victory profitable, given the enormous financial resources required to be competitive in the market.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris Board of Directors,” said Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO Scott Wine. “Over the past 18 years, we have invested not only resources, but our hearts and souls, into forging the Victory Motorcycles brand, and we are exceptionally proud of what our team has accomplished.”

Recent years have seen Polaris shift an ever-increasing amount of attention and resources to the re-birthed Indian Motorcycle marque, one that has immediately found favor with riders worldwide thanks to a strong heritage and well-engineered machines, only now it’s apparent this growth has come at the expense of Victory Motorcycles.

“This decision will improve the profitability of Polaris and our global motorcycle business, and will materially improve our competitive stance in the industry,” said Scott Wine. “Our focus is on profitable growth, and in an environment of finite resources, this move allows us to optimize and align our resources behind both our premium, high performing Indian Motorcycle brand and our innovative Slingshot brand, enhancing our focus on accelerating the success of those brands. Ultimately this decision will propel the industry-leading product innovation that is core to our strategy while fostering long-term growth and increased shareholder value.”

The decision to close Victory Motorcycles is still nonetheless surprising, given Polaris’ recent attempts to move the brand into a more sporting realm while re-establishing Indian and its rivalry with Harley-Davidson. The factory developed and raced their own Project 156 race-bike at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in the hands of Cycle World journalist Don Canet and U.S. international Jeremy Toye, and competed at the Isle of Man with a factory team in the Zero TT with riders William Dunlop and Lee Johnston after acquiring the Brammo concern in January, 2015. Regarding the Polaris facility at Spirit Lake in Iowa, Polaris says it “remains committed to maintaining its presence in the Spirit Lake, Iowa, community with Indian Motorcycle production and in the Huntsville, Ala., community with its Slingshot production.”

The first Disc brakes on Motorcycles

There are several pinnacles in the history of motorcycle braking systems, most notably the adoption of disc brakes in the 1960s followed by anti-lock systems in the late 1980s. However, in the early days of motorcycle pioneering bikes didn’t have any form of brakes. Once you got the motorcycle going, you relied on slowing your bike down and sticking out your legs to get it to come to a halt.

By the 1960s, the manufacturers had developed very powerful internal expanding forms of shoe brakes. But as braking efficiency improved with greater power it also generated heat. This caused brake fade and it was British manufacturer AJS that first came up with a solution for this by developing a conical hub with cooling fins.

Disc brakes had been developed on race cars in the mid-1950s but it wasn’t until 1962 that the first system was used on two wheels. The Lambretta TV175 Series 3 Scooter lays claim to be the first to be equipped with disc brakes.

Above: Lambretta TV175 Series 3 equipped with disc brakes.

But, the first production motorcycle to use discs front and rear was Honda with its CB750 Four in 1975. Honda engineer Yoshiro Harada was visiting the U.S. when he came across some aftermarket disc brake in a parts shop. As a result, he immediately visited Lockhart, the developer and manufacturer. After consulting with the supplier's staff regarding the ideal design, Harada left the company with a set of their products. Honda first tried the system on CB450 with encouraging results and then began to develop a disc brake system for the forthcoming CB750 Four that was to be launched at the 1966 Tokyo Motor Show.

Above: 1975 Honda CB750 with disc brakes.

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Number of women riders hits all-time high

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If you think you're seeing more female riders out there, you're not imagining things. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council's latest Motorcycle Owner Survey, women riders accounted for 14 percent of the total motorcycle riding population in the United States as of last year. Yes, that's still a small minority, but the trend is clearly upwards. In 1998, the percentage was about 8 percent. In 2003, it was 10 percent. "Of the 9.2 million owners, more of them are women than we've ever recorded," said BMW Motorrad USA National Marketing Manager Sarah Schilke. "In fact, the number of female owners more than doubled from 2003 to 2014."

How did the number of women riders double by going from 10 percent to 14 percent? The MIC reports that the total number of riders also grew in that time period, so women riders in the United States went from 600,000 to 1.2 million. The MIC (a trade organization of companies in the motorcycle and motorcycle aftermarket manufacturing and retail sectors) also pointed out some other interesting details about the female motorcyclist demographic in the latest survey.

Younger riders are pushing the needle higher. Just over 17 percent of riders in both the Gen X and Gen Y segments are women, while among Boomers, 9 percent are women. The median age for female riders is 39 (compared to 48 for males). And it seems new female riders might be a bit more prepared for the streets than their male counterparts. The MIC says 60 percent of women riders have taken a motorcycle safety course, compared to 42 percent of men.

And what are women riding? It probably won't surprise anyone that cruisers are the top choice of female riders, at 34 percent. (Sure, cruisers are popular because they appeal to a wide range of riders, but the low seat height is also helpful for many women.) Scooters came in a close second at 33 percent, with sport bikes in third at 10 percent. Some 57 percent of women surveyed indicated that they prefer to buy a new bike over a used one, but that doesn't mean they are averse to wrenching, with 49 percent of the women surveyed indicating they prefer to do their own maintenance or have a friend or relative work on their bikes, rather than paying a mechanic to do it.

For the U.S. motorcycle industry, the growth in women riders is certainly good news. With overall sales of new motorcycles still not much more than half of what they were at their peak in 2007, women represent an opportunity for manufacturers to grow their customer bases. Manufacturers are not only building bikes that are more accessible for new riders or smaller riders, but they're also making sure to include images of women having fun on motorcycles in their marketing materials. Harley-Davidson's focus on women riders includes activities such as its women-only “Garage Parties,” which are events for women who are interested in motorcycling and want some low-pressure orientation in a welcoming setting.

One thing seems to be relatively constant for both male and female riders. Women surveyed indicated that "fun and recreation," "sense of freedom" and "nature/outdoors" are the top three reasons they choose to ride. That sounds like motivation most any rider would understand.

Who makes the most reliable motorcycle?

We rate 10 big brands / Consumer Reports: April 07, 2015

What began as a battle of the motorcycle brands to show who makes the most reliable motorcycle has resulted in a nationalist showdown. Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, and Kawasaki are all among the more reliable brands, based on our survey of more than 11,000 Consumer Reports subscribers. The predicted failure rates for four-year-old motorcycles ranged from 11 to 15 percent in this group.

The domestic brands Victory and Harley-Davidson fell in between the extremes, with 17 and 26 percent, respectively.

The remaining brands—Triumph, Ducati, BMW, and Can-Am—were among the more trouble-prone. In fact, BMW and Canada-based Can-Am are both estimated to have failure rates of around 40 percent by the fourth year of ownership.

Reliability by brand

Brand Percent failed
Yamaha/Star 11%
Suzuki 12
Honda 12
Kawasaki 15
Victory 17
Harley-Davidson 26
Triumph 29
Ducati 33
BMW 40
Can-Am 42

With a larger sample size than in our previous motorcycle survey, now counting 12,300 motorcycles, we were able to add more brands and resolution this year. For this analysis, we adjusted for mileage driven over a 12-month period and estimated repair rates for 4-year-old models without a service contract.

Reliability is but one measure. We found that owner satisfaction creates a much different picture.

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Icon Airframe Statistic: The motorcycle helmet for safety evangelists

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The numbers you see on each section of this Icon helmet represent the likelihood of that section taking an impact in a crash ... and they tell a very powerful story that's guaranteed to create arguments with other riders.

Motorcyclists are rarely shy when it comes to their opinions, especially when it comes to their opinions on what safety gear other people are wearing. There are two camps. The ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) crew and the "squids," so named because when you wear just a helmet and you’ve got a bunch of unprotected fleshy parts dangling underneath, you look a bit like a sea creature. For many in the ATGATT brigade, it’s not enough just to be wearing safety gear, you’ve got to be wearing the right safety gear. Roll up in an open face helmet, and you’ll sometimes hear sly asides like "you might as well not be wearing a helmet at all." If that’s the sort of thing you find yourself saying a lot, then boy does Icon have the lid for you! Sectioned up like a butcher’s carcass, each section of the helmet Airframe Statistic is boldly marked with a big percentage number that shows exactly how likely each part of the helmet is to take impact in a crash.

The stats appear to come from the well-known and wonderfully-named Hurt Report, and they tell a very convincing story. By far the most common areas of impact are on the chin piece, an area that’s completely unprotected if you’re wearing an open-face helmet. The least common point of impact is the very top of the head, just 0.4 percent of crash victims took a knock here. So if you’re using the Airframe Statistic as some sort of trauma scoreboard, that’s clearly where you want to try to whack your head for maximum points. While it’s a macabre and powerful message, it’s unlikely to change many minds. Most open-face helmet wearers are well and truly aware of the crash statistics, others will put forward arguments that wearing helmets at all is more dangerous than riding with the wind in your hair. At the end of the day, as long as it’s legal to make the choice, people will continue to do so.

But this helmet makes a very strong and simple message that could easily sway a new rider toward a full-coverage lid. At the very least, it’ll start conversations at the coffee shop. And as such, I reckon it’s a great little piece of communication.

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How To Read Motorcycle Tires

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1) Nominal section width, expressed in metric, inch or alpha.

2) Ratio between tire section height and nominal section width. This ratio is not indicated when section width is expressed in inches (eg. 3.50-18).

3) Code for tire construction (- = Bias, R = Radial, B = Bias Belted).

4) Nominal wheel diameter size in inches.

5) "Motorcycle" in abbreviated form. Differentiates motorcycle tires and wheels from those designed for other vehicles. Not shown on all models.

6) Expresses the tire's maximum load capacity (pounds) at the pressure indicated (psi).

7) Speed symbol. Indicates the tire's speed rating.

8) Tubeless (TL) or tubetype (TT), as applicable.

9) The arrows indicated the direction of rotation of the tire according to the fitting position (front-rear); applicable for directional tires only.

10) Number of plies and material.

11) Abbreviation of "US Department of Transportation." Serves to indicate that the tire conforms to the regulations issued by the US Department of Transportation. Includes the serial # for the tire, and the last 3 or 4 numbers represent the date. Example 3805 means the tire was produced in the 38th week of 2005. - not shown -

12) Tread Wear Indicator, as applicable

13) Brand name and registered trademark.

14) Type of tread pattern and/or product line.

15) Indicates where the tire was produced.

 

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13 Things More Dangerous Than Riding A Motorcycle:

By Wes Siler

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed on American roads in 2012. Pretty dangerous, huh? Not when you compare our mode of transportation to other everyday risks like.

1.) Alcohol: 25,692 people were killed in the U.S. by alcohol poisoning in 2010

2.) Smoking: 440,000 people in the U.S. are killed each year due to tobacco-related illnesses

3.) The Flu: 48,614 Americans were killed by the flu during the 2003-04 season

4.) Texting: NHTSA estimates that 24 percent of crashes involved drivers talking or texting on cell phones. That’s 7,247 deaths caused by phone use in 2010 alone.

5.) Falling Down: 25,000 people die each year due to simple falls

6.) Poison: 39,000 people are killed each year due to household poisons and prescription medication. Please don't call the doctor!

7.) Second-Hand Smoke: 49,000 people in the U.S. die each year due to inhaling second-hand smoke

8.) Getting Shot: People with guns kill 31,940 in the U.S. each year. The vast majority of which are suicides

9.) Healthcare: As many as 98,000 Americans are killed each year by, “preventable medical errors in hospitals.”

10.) Having Sex: 20,000 Americans are killed each year by sexually transmitted infections

11.) Getting High: 17,000 Americans die each year due to drug abuse

12.) Being Fat: 400,000 Americans die each year due to, “Poor diet and physical inactivity.”

13.) Your Bathroom: Nearly 9,000 Americans were killed by their bathrooms in 1999

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Higher octane fuel can rob your machine of horsepower and performance

Engine-111101-1Unless your engine is knocking, buying higher octane gasoline is a waste of money. Premium (91) gasoline costs 15 to 20 cents per gallon more than regular (87). That can add up to $100 or more a year in extra costs. Studies indicate that altogether, drivers may be spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year for higher octane gas than they need. It may seem like buying higher octane “premium” gasoline is like giving your car a treat, or boosting its performance. But take note: the recommended gasoline for most cars and many motorcycles is regular (87) octane. In fact, in most cases, using a higher octane fuel than your owner's manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit. It won't make your engine perform better, go faster, get better mileage, or run cleaner. Your best bet: listen to your manufacture owner's manual.

If the manufacture calls for 87 octane and you instead burn 91, you are reducing your power out-put and more than likely even cutting your mileage. Why? The difference between 87 octane fuel and 91 is not the fuel quality, it's the burn rate. Higher compression motors require 91 octane for its slower burn. Lower compression motors perform better with faster burning fuel such as 87 octane. Assuming the manufacture recommends 87, the faster fuel burn rate of this gasoline will increase your power via quicker and more complete engine firing. As a result, you will use less throttle and also gain more power, improving performance and reducing the amount of fuel consumed. The only time you might need to switch to a higher octane level is if your engine knocks when you use the recommended fuel. This happens to a small percentage of vehicles. Read your owners manual for the recommended fuel octane, it could make a big difference in performance.

The 10 Worst Handling Motorcycles of All Time

Kawasaki750Triples-22-1There are a lot of factors that affect the handling of a motorcycle. In addition to design faults by the manufacturer, poor maintenance can turn a reasonable handling bike into a white knuckle ride! And a bad set of tires can transform any bike into a crash without a date!

Compiling a list of ten bad handling bikes is easy, but putting them in order is impossible. It would also be doing the manufacturer a disservice as the riders weight/size can make a big difference--especially to a small bike. Nonetheless, the following bikes stand head and shoulders above their contemporaries as evil handling, not for the faint of heart, rides.

1.) Kawasaki 750 Triple 1V and H2

2.) Kawasaki 500 H1

3.) Honda C50, 70, 90, 110

4.) Honda CX 500

5.) Moto Guzzi

6.) Ariel Arrow

7.) Suzuki GT380/550/750

8.) Husqvarna 250 MX, 1970

9.) Greeves

10.) Harley Davidson Sportster, 1981