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Buell track days announce

May 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Moto

Improve your road riding by honing your skills on the track.
Harley-Davidson’s sports bike division, Buell, has confirmed seven dates for 2009 for its Buell Performance Academy track riding events.These are held at three circuits: Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire, Mallory Park in Leicestershire and Castle Combe in Wiltshire.

Each track-riding event costs a bargain £99, which includes instruction from former British Superbike Championship racer Matt Llewellyn and the use of Buell’s own machines – this is cheaper than many track days where you use your own bike.

The full series of dates is listed on www.buellperformance ,where bookings are also made, and while you’re there you can enter a competition to win £1,000 worth of Buell-branded race leathers.

Vespa GTS 125 Super review

May 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Moto

Vespa is so well established, so definitive of its type, the name has become a generic term.
A vespa is a scooter because the Vespa was the first and most enduring of the breed: even the new, 2009 Vespas are recognisable descendants of the 63-year lineage, although there’s some confusion about what the various models are.

The new, $4,399 GTS 125 Super, for example, might look superfluous as there are plenty of 125 Vespas already. The S125, the LX125 and the LXV125 are based on the LX platform, a small chassis designed for more compact engines from 50cc to 150cc, and more compact riders. Vespa’s GT series platform underpins larger machines with more powerful engines from 125cc to 300cc, so although there’s a choice of GT-type 125 or LX, the GTs are better suited to taller riders.

There’s further choice: the GTV is a retro-styled version with its headlight mounted on the front mudguard, the GTS is the standard version and the latest GTS 125 Super is the most sporting. Usually, at this level, that’s reflected only in some styling details and, to those in the know (all Italians), the cachet of the “Super” badge.

But the GTS Super also differs from the other 125s in featuring fuel injection and electronically pumped coolant for improved efficiency. The new engine also offers much longer service intervals, up from 4,000 to 6,000 miles. With better economy of up to 90mpg being claimed (although no meaningful figures are available), this will mean usefully reduced running costs.

Cosmetically, the Super is distinguished by its cooling grille in the right-side panel beneath the seat (a homage to older, air-cooled Vespas), unique two-tone alloy wheels, a different seat and touches such as a black headlight surround and red front-suspension spring. Not a lot, but enough for the Vespisti it seems, while more casual users will still appreciate the solidity and better handling. It’s beautifully balanced and therefore very easy to ride and wriggle through traffic, with high-quality suspension and exceptional stability at speed.

The smooth, 15bhp engine is one of the best performers in the class, giving a top speed of 65mph.

There’s less storage space beneath the seat than on many scooters – you can fit a couple of small open-faced helmets in there, though I’d never recommend wearing those anyway – and the luggage rack is an option rather than standard.

You also get the chic and authenticity that comes only with the real thing. It looks great and it’s a Vespa, not a vespa.


Price/availability: $4,399/On sale now

Tested: Piaggio Vespa GTS 125 Super

Power/torque: 15bhp@9,750rpm/9lb ft@7,500rpm

Top speed: 65mph

Fuel economy: 80-90mpg (est)

Fuel tank/range: 2.1 gallons/180 miles

Seat height: 790mm/31.1in

Transmission: automatic/belt final drive

Weight: n/a

Alternatives: Piaggio Vespa S125, $3,849. Kymco Like 125, $2,769.

Verdict: For some, only a Vespa will do. And it does very well indeed.

Carl Fogarty makes rare track appearance

May 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Moto

foggyThe four times World Superbike champion is one of the stars of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club’s Festival of 1,000 Bikes at Mallory Park on July 10-12.
This year’s Festival promises a stunning line-up of riders and machines, including the new Norton Rotary with Michael Dunlop fresh from the TT.

Just announced is Jim Redman on a works CR750 Honda, along with Terry Rymer aboard one of the National Motorcycle Museum’s Rotary Norton racers.

On Sunday 12 there’s a guaranteed ear-splitting cacophany courtesy of the VMCC’s sprint section, with a display of alcohol-fuelled drag bikes on the mallory start/finish straight. More details at the dedicated sprint site:

Four times World Superbike champion Fogarty stars in the Past Masters display on the Sunday. Also, following Norton’s return to the 2009 TT with Michael Dunlop on the new Norton NRV, both man and machine will take to the track in a feature that will also include some special celebrity guest riders aboard the new Norton Commando road bikes.

Keeping with a Norton theme, Sammy Miller MBE will be giving the first public track outing to the newly restored “Lowboy” prototype race machine. Courtesy of the National Motorcycle Museum, four of the original Norton Rotary race bikes will be on the track, ridden by original riders including Steve Spray, Trevor Nation, Ian Simpson and Terry Rymer.

As well as Fogarty, other illustrious names include Phil Read on an MV Agusta, Jim Redman, John Cooper on a works BSA Rocket triple, Mick Grant, Sammy Miller, Tommy Robb, Tony Rutter, Colin Seeley and an appearance by the Laverda Corse team.

The Past masters feature will also include no less than 18 Honda 250-4 machines – the biggest ever collection of these amazing-sounding machines assembled on track at the same time.

For advance spectator ticket sales contact the Mallory Park ticket hot line 01455 842931, or visit and for full details and the very latest updates.

Is a moped worth it?

May 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Moto


DriverSense – Kevin Fleming
 In these tough times, can a moped be an economical and practical solution for saving cash?

There is no doubt about it; times are tough for almost everyone.  Many families are finding it absolutely vital to cut spending in many areas of their lives, including how much they drive and other costs associated with owning a vehicle.  Sure, there are hybrids and electric cars out there to save a bit on gas, but some may not be able to foot the up front cost to purchase a brand new vehicle right now.  There has to be another way, right?  Being that warmer weather is approaching for many readers, it may be worthwhile to look at investing in a moped.

The Benefits

Being a former owner of a moped, I can vouch for the fact that mopeds will save you a fair amount of money during the warmer months of the year while you can comfortably ride it.  The most obvious benefit is the money that you will save on gas.  Depending on how big the motor is and how much the moped weighs, you can expect to see anywhere from 50 to 100mpg on average.  Granted, the fuel tank on a moped can only hold a gallon or two, but when you add up the miles, you can go a long ways before refueling, especially if you live in an urban area or small town.  Keep in mind that you will have to use premium gasoline along with two cycle oil mixed together in most cases.

The other cost saving advantage of owning a moped is that insurance is incredibly cheap, even for full coverage.  For example, the moped that I owned was worth around $600 (USD), but for full coverage, I paid exactly $1 per year (no joke).  Granted, just like a car, insurance costs are dependent on your driving record, but even for those whose record isn’t exactly spotless, I would wager that premiums on a moped wouldn’t break the bank for you.

Plus, the up front cost of purchasing a moped is quite cheap depending on the model you have your eye on.  Like all vehicles with a motor, be sure to keep up on your maintenance and you will get many years of use out of your moped.  The gas savings alone may in fact pay for the moped and then some as time goes forward.
The most obvious benefit to owning and riding a moped is that it is fun and something different, especially for those who have driven a standard auto their whole life.


Operating a moped isn’t exactly like operating a car, so extra precautions need to be taken.  If you are concerned that riding a moped is similar to riding a massive motorcycle, mopeds are lightweight and are easy to control, so have no worries there.  Just like learning to riding a bike, once you have learned to ride a moped, you’ll never forget.  But keep in mind that you are no longer protected from the various dangers of the road like you would be in a standard auto.

As I will discuss below, you should check with your province or state concerning the specifics of owning and riding a moped.  When it comes to helmets, whether you have to or not, you should always wear a helmet.  You may be confident in your riding abilities on a moped, but there are other drivers on the road that may not be paying attention to you, for example.  So save yourself the trouble and wear a helmet.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a moped by definition is not exactly the fastest vehicle on the road.  In most provinces and states, it is illegal to ride a moped on a highway. 

Common sense would dictate that you avoid highways if at all possible while riding a moped.  You are putting yourself in danger, as well as other motorists.Besides staying away from highways, keep in mind that it is typically illegal to transport a passenger.  Mopeds are not motorcycles and are unable to safely accommodate two passengers in a safe manner.  Plus, you will not be able to go very fast and your gas mileage will suffer.

Legal Issues

Before investing in a moped, you should take a look at the laws governing the use of mopeds in your province or state.  Like most motor vehicles, a moped usually has to be registered, licensed and insured regardless of where you reside.  One important area to look into is the law governing whether or not you need a special license to operate a moped.  In most cases, all you need is a standard driver’s license, but depending on how many cubic centimetres (cc’s) your moped’s engine is and how much it weighs, you may need a motorcycle license to legally ride it.  If you have an old moped lying around and do not know if you would need a special license to ride it, its top speed should give you a good indication.  If your moped can hit a top speed of over 35 or 40mph, it will most likely be considered a motorcycle and therefore, you will need a special license.

Electric bikes gain traction

May 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Moto

01_brammo-enertia – Hannah Elliott

Get ready for an American motorcycle revolution. That deep Harley rumble and the siren call of the Suzuki whine will soon be sharing the road with silent bikes. A slew of sleek, lightweight machines, either fully electric or hybrid, is making its debut and signaling a paradigm shift in both motorcycle culture and green transportation.

The $10,874 Zero S will go on sale this spring, one of the first plug-in motorcycles widely available in the U.S. Weighing in at just 225 pounds, this bike is made by former NASA engineer Neal Saiki and his three-year-old Santa Cruz, Calif., start-up.
In Pictures: Electric Motorcycles Gain Traction 

Electric bikes’ biggest draw is the fact they cost less than 1 cent per mile to drive; Saiki’s Zero S goes 60 miles on one charge and can hit 60 miles per hour at top speed.

Its dirt-ready predecessor has already proven itself on the U.S. market. Last year, Zero sold out of the electric Zero X dirt bike and had a six-month waiting list for that model. Saiki expects the same this year, despite the downturn. More than 100 buyers have already made $1,092 deposits to reserve Zero S’s, sight unseen. 

Other electric options, with top speeds of 70 and 150 miles per hour, respectively: the $9,290 Electric Motorsport GPR-S (currently available for order) and $75,401 Mission Motors Mission One (slated for delivery in early 2010). 

There are even more electric models coming down the pike, including an electric motorcycle from Honda, promised for 2011, and the forthcoming $13,107 Brammo Enertia. Hybrid offerings like the EVII and Piaggio are also joining the pack. 

By the Numbers

Until the first quarter of 2009, when the economic crisis sent U.S. motorcycle sales tumbling 21 per cent, bike sales had grown steadily, increasing 58 per cent to 6.6 million since 1998, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC). 

Motorcycles tend to do well in tough economic times, as drivers look for ways to save on fuel and vehicle purchase costs. Americans bought 1.1 million motorcycles last year, the sixth year in a row that domestic bike sales topped 1 million units, according to the MIC. Prior to this six-year period, the last time U.S. motorcycle sales topped 1 million was in the early 1970s, when oil prices jumped. 

Honda President and CEO Takeo Fukui says he expects motorcycle sales to support the company through difficult times. He even predicts consistent and extended market growth in Asia and South America, where motorcycles are used for daily transport rather than recreation. Honda sold 15.1 million motorcycles worldwide last year, up 12 per cent from 2007.

American Revolution

Historically, Americans have used motorcycles for play, not work, while Europeans and Asians rely on small motorbikes for inexpensive transport through narrow streets. But that divide is slowly narrowing, says Paolo Timoni, president of Italy-based motorcycle maker Piaggio USA. Piaggio sells seven brands of motorcycles and scooters worldwide.

Motorcycles are gaining traction in the States mainly because commuters are realizing how much gasoline they can save, how much easier it is to find parking, and how effective bikes are for avoiding congestion, Timoni says. Not to mention the fact that electric bikes require almost no maintenance (since they have only one moving part, the rotor) and will never leak gasoline or brake fluid. 

A recently passed 10 per cent federal tax credit for electric motorcycles has no doubt helped spur interest as well.

Of course, it will take some doing to convince Harley loyalists to convert to electric machines. But electric-bike makers say they aren’t necessarily trying to win converts. Instead, they want to sell motorcycles to people who already love them and are looking to augment their garage portfolios with something green.

Those electric makers will know they’ve hit it big when they get a Hell’s Angels chapter of their own.

In Pictures: Electric Motorcycles Gain Traction