There were two standout production bikes of 2018 at EICMA: Ducati’s Panigale V4 and the KTM 790 Duke. And, after Chris pulled a sicky, I hopped on the flu-ridden easyJet flight to Gran Canaria for the launch of KTM’s all-new naked middleweight contender.
The 799cc LC8c parallel twin is the first all-new motor from Mattighofen since 2003. KTM engineers opted for this configuration for compactness, and it is a tangibly slender chunk of metal that packs 105bhp. Thanks to the firing intervals – 75 degrees apart – the 790 still sounds like a v-twin, but without the low-end chugga lugging and lumpiness. At the other end of the rev spectrum, forged pistons and a secondary balancer shaft in the cylinder head cope with the 10k redline.
Another first for KTM is the engine being a stressed member of the chassis. WP split-function forks are non-adjustable (like the old 690) and KTM worked alongside a Spanish company to furnish the 790 with brakes. For the vertically challenged amongst us, the standard seat height is 825mm and a low seat option is 805mm. There’s also a 780mm chassis lowering kit.
And then there’s the extensive electronics suite; launch control, adjustable traction control, anti-wheelie and multi-option ABS – all controlled by lean angle sensitivity – plus a quickshifter and blipper. Contrary to rumours, the ‘Track’ mode, which is rider configurable, comes as standard and allows anti-wheelie and TC to function separately. And finally, after however many years, you can cut the ignition, turn the bike on, and the system will remember your previous anti-wheelie setting. Thanks to silly laws, ABS resets itself.
We spent the morning carving through the mountain roads of Gran Canaria on the Scalpel before heading to Maspalomas circuit to explore the 790’s limitations – and do some skids and wheelies. KTM wanted the most agile bike in the naked middleweight class and it’s safe to say they’ve succeeded. It steers with unfathomable pace, despite a very long wheelbase and it soon answered the most pertinent pre-ride question I had.
Does the 790 carry those inherent Duke motard-based manners, or is it more of a midi supernaked? Well, thankfully, it’s the latter. Plenty are rightly positioning the Duke against Triumph’s Street Triple and, while the 790’s horsepower deficiency over the Street Triple is all too evident, the KTM makes up for an outright power deficit by offering superior smiles-per-hour and lightning dynamics. It would have absolutely chewed the Triumph on the nadgery mountain roads thanks to enhanced agility and flickability, although I would have liked some more initial bite from the brakes.
It’s not as if I was yearning for more speed anyway. There’s a sumptuous blend of power, balance and control, with the front wheel hovering the surface during hard acceleration. Packing oodles of usable grunt at the bottom, the Duke still prefers life above 7,000rpm with a palpable hit in the midrange.
As mentioned previously, the throttle and low-RPM etiquette is quite smooth (for a KTM), although if you want aggressive you can have aggressive. ‘Sport’ throttle is almost 1:1 and certainly livens the delivery, but is too aggro for urban climes. ‘Street’ is just the remedy.
And what about the non-adjustable suspension? We’ve seen plenty of experts who reckon it won’t suffice, but I had no issues whatsoever – until we came to spanking it on track and it all got a bit bouncy. The only other concern is the 790’s puny 14-litre tank.
In summary, it’s as if the A-Team have gone into a cave armed with a 390 Duke and a 1290 Super Duke R, and forced the pair to make sweet love. The consequent offspring is the compactness and agility of the 390 combined with that innate lunacy of the 1290, just far more manageable with a far more digestible price tag of £8,499.
Ah, dynos: the topic of many pub debates and catalyst for severed friendships. We don’t tend to upload too many, although the Ducati Panigale V4 was too god damn sexy to dismiss given its plausible hype and game-changing protocol. Ducati claims a monstrous 215bhp (at the crank), so what does this translate to on JHS Racing modest Dynojet 250i?
We’ve had a V4S for a week now. Having spanked one at the launch in Valencia, it was about time a thorough UK road test was commenced: you know, salty roads and potholes, and bumbling through traffic. However, the weather has been utterly shite, so the Poonigale was taken straight to JHS Racing for a dyno session and a chance to capture a video.
James soon figured out that this wasn’t a straightforward procedure. Usually, a connection to the dyno is located (typically under the tank/fairing directly to a coil), although the V4’s fickle arrangement meant an hour of faffing as we followed Ducati’s dyno instructions. Having shifted the fuel tank further backwards towards the rear, space for the ECU and battery must have been at a premium judging by the cramped setup.
Don’t be too disheartened/perplexed by the numbers if you’ve already seen a V4 figure elsewhere. As previously mentioned, the JHS dyno is famously humble in its outputs, and calculations soon proved Ducati’s claimed figure wasn’t exactly inflated. We’ll do another video on dyno differences and the road test will be up later this week, but in the meantime, enjoy…
If you, like me, have succumbed to a life engulfed in rigger boots and hi-viz jackets while your son/daughter blissfully annihilates your bank account by riding motocross every weekend, then you’ll be highly aroused by Yamaha’s latest release. Even if little Timmy has graduated through the schoolboy ranks and is now riding bigger bikes, the news of an all-new YZ65 should still be exciting.
KTM has monopolised the mini segment from autos to 65s (through no fault of its own as other manufacturers have ceased development), so Yamaha’s YZ65 could be a proper game-changer – a bike that shakes up the entry-level sector like no other model has done for years. Everyone knows of the iconic PW50. How many careers have started aboard a PeeWee? Gazillions. Sure, it’s an auto 50, but racing one of them against a KTM SX is a form of child cruelty.
Yamaha says the YZ features an all-new engine and chassis. The liquid-cooled 65cc two-smoker uses a reed valve system and comes equipped with Yamaha’s fabled YPVS power valve set-up for a wider spread of power. There’s a six-speed ‘box and a light action clutch for Junior’s little digits.
“As well as delivering smooth and easy to use power with race winning performance, YZ65 riders and their parents can also be sure that this is one of the most durable and reliable models in the category.” Whether this is a dig at the sometimes-fickle KTM, we’ll never know. But it sounds like it.
The all-new double cradle frame houses the motor and is connected to an aluminium subframe and lightweight swingarm. A 14” front and 12” rear wheel both come in that jizzy blue scheme, while wavey brake discs also look peng. 36mm KYB forks are fully adjustable and a KYB link-less rear set-up is utilised to keep maintenance at a minimum.
The lil’ 65 really does look like a mini YZ450F and will be hitting UK shores in June this year. It just so happens that my son is old enough to progress to a 65cc next year, so we’ll be doing our utmost best to borrow one from Yamaha UK and accidentally keep it.
2018 Yamaha YZ65 – Welcome to the victorYZone! - YouTube
Suzuki has just confirmed a recall on all GSX-R1000 and GSX-R1000R models, which affects just over 600 registered bikes in the UK. The recall has been, erm, called due to iffy ECUs that need replacing.
Don’t panic. Nothing too serious. Suzuki has identified a potential fault when upshifting from first to second gear, where neutral can be selected and consequent damage can occur if the rider shifts into second without using the clutch.
“An excessive load can be applied to the powertrain which can cause the chain to stretch and, in the worst case, the drive chain can come off or break. Customer safety and satisfaction is the highest priority and Suzuki has elected to commence a recall to fit a new component to avoid any potential future issues.
“Owners of officially imported and registered machines that are affected by the recall will receive a letter advising them to contact their local authorised Suzuki dealership, who will carry out the fitment of the new component free of charge. Notifications will commence during March when replacement parts stock is available.”
We did notice a somewhat sticky action during our test at Jerez…
As you should know by now, Triumph has been busy revising the Tiger 800 for 2018 with a claimed 200 upgrades to the engine and chassis, gaining many of the improvements that its bigger brother – the Tiger 1200 – adopted this season. Internal work on the 94bhp 800cc triple, apparently, offers a more responsive delivery and there’s a shorter first gear for off-road benefits.
Other highlights include Triumph’s fabled new TFT dash, updated Brembo brakes, shifting the ‘bars towards the rider by 10mm (a la Tiger 1200), updated cruise control, a five-way adjustable screen and an array of new switchgear featured on Hinckley’s latest machinery. Triumph has also geared the Tiger 800 further toward off-road shenanigans without sacrificing Tarmac prowess. The addition of ‘Off Road Pro’ mode allows skids and wheelies, and proper mudplugging capabilities.
The launch was in Marrakesh, Morocco: the ideal testing facility for such a versatile middleweight. With the continual growth of 44T, and where we’re both busy on other launches and ensuring our trusty Budget Bike Battle steeds complete the trip to Africa, the time has come to share the love and allow other to represent our fine brand.
Ladies and gents, Mossy…
Which is why we sent Chris Moss. ‘Mossy’ is an industry legend. Simple. Famous for his brutal honesty and off-bike skulduggery (we’ll get to that another time), Mossy has just completed two days of riding in Morocco and we’ve gathered his first ride thoughts on the 2018 Triumph Tiger 800 via telecom communication.
“There are six versions in total. I rode the top spec XRT road model and XCA off-road version on a great test that involved every terrain possible: nice roads, battered roads, scenic roads and very twisty roads. All in all, Triumph succeeded in letting us see this bike in its best light. The off-road, in particular, I was surprised as to how well it did.
“Listen, it’s a big, fat, heavy thing but they put it on some decent tyres (Pirelli Scorpion Rally) and the bike was way more manageable than I thought it would be, and that’s probably the word to sum it up: manageable. Easy to master, go-anywhere, anytime type bike.”
“I’m not sure whether the updates to the engine have made a huge difference but it’s very useable and there’s added excitement in the midrange when it gets going, a rush of extra speed. Overall, it handles very well, stops well and the suspension is very good – I especially like the better-spec kit on the XCA.
“It’s one of Triumphs best-sellers and I don’t see any reason why that will change for 2018. I would have one of those as a longtermer straight away [because Mossy is a tight bastard who hasn’t bought a bike in years] because it’s a tool, something you can use for every aspect of motorcycling.”
You can expect some fine japery, concise opinion and all the finer details on the Tiger 800 in a video coming soon. In the meantime, here’s the pricing…
After several teasers involving racing gods and terrible flat-track riders, Carl Fogarty and Gary Johnson, Triumph has finally officially unveiled a heavily revised Speed Triple. The iconic naked thumper comes in S and RS flavours for 2018 and feature a number of significant updates including more power and an improved electronics suite.
As with most of Triumph’s range this season, the Speed Triple is evolution over revolution. The 1050cc triple engine for both models has been treated to (over) 105 new components and now makes a claimed 148bhp (up by 7%), with Triumph reckoning she now spins faster and revs harder to a redline that’s been extended by 1,000rpm – sounds very similar to the new Tiger’s workings. Lighter crank gear, new pistons that slide by Nikasil-plated liners, and a reworked cylinder head are partly responsible for the additional power, and those sexy Arrow cans are standard on the RS. There’s also mention of an improved gearbox and slipper clutch, whatever that means.
Hinckley’s engineers have also worked on something that’s so often overlooked, which is rerouting the oil system. It now runs the oil internally through the cylinder head and does away with messy external pipes.
The Street Triple’s 5-inch TFT dash and 5-axis joystick/snazzy switchgear now adorns the S and RS, complemented by Triumph’s latest ride-by-wire trickery and features such as cruise control and a USB charging point. ‘Optimised’ cornering ABS and multi-level TC is controlled by a Continental IMU, and the RS comes with keyless ignition as standard.
Finer details are scant regarding the chassis. The 2018 Speed Triple retains the twin-spar aluminium frame and single-sided swinger’ of the previous model – optimised for stiffness and rigidity – but gains new 5-spoke rims that look fiiiiiiya. The Speed Triple S comes with Showa suspension at either end, while the RS is fitted with Öhlins NIX30 forks and a TTX36 shock. The RS also weighs 3kg less than the S.
The Speed Triple has always been one step behind its true supernaked adversaries, lacking outright performance but offering big, bullish behaviour and a triple treat to offset its sporting deficiencies. I rode the last incarnation at the launch at Calafat, which was a big improvement in almost every area (except wheelies, which was a bit guff), so it’ll be interesting to sample Hinckley’s latest workings.
Assuming the SRAD and Ninja actually make it to southern Spain without spontaneously combusting, we’ll be riding the new Speed Triple RS at the launch in Almeria in a few weeks.
Some offices are better than others. An office that includes a medley of 2018 R1Ms based at Portimao is a pretty sexy office, and an office that Chris has inhabited this week for the press launch of Yamaha’s latest crossplane offerings. Unveiled in a very elusive fashion at the Milan show last year, the subtlety refreshed R1 and R1M almost slipped the net…
There are several significant updates to one of the finest track steeds available for 2018: Öhlins Smart EC2, the addition of a blipper, ‘improved’ Lift control and new ECU mapping. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, etc, although we’d like to have seen some upgraded brakes in that tech spec. After hearing about the new Öhlins kit – damn similar to that seen on the Panigale V4 – I was hoping for a massive step in performance and fluidity. Is it?
Well, Chris has an allergy to any kind of work typing and the general approach to writing, so we used the latest and greatest technology and spoke over the phone. Here are some of his initial thoughts.
“The suspension is definitely an improvement but not a dramatic change in performance. It’s easier to use in terms of set-up, with brake support, acceleration support and mid-corner support all readily changeable via the fresh interface on the R1M’s dash. But yes, the dynamic upgrade is subtle.
“As before, the quickshifter is sharp and responsive. The blipper is smooth, although I wasn’t the only rider who suffered with missed blips/changes from second gear to first. Then again, that could be down to a clumsy boot operation or the throttle not being 100% closed.
“It is not available for retro fitting to ‘15/16/17 models. Despite the system being physically able to accept the ‘blipper, you’ll need to change the wiring harness, dash and ECU, so it’s hardly worth it anyway. Also worth noting on the ‘blipper, it makes an awesome noise on downshifting. There’s an aggressive soundtrack to accompany the crossplane noise.
“Riding characteristics remain largely the same as before. There’s no power increase, as nothing inside the engine has changed, and it’s the same with braking, sadly. There’s still a somewhat distant feeling but still a very complete motorcycle.”
And what of the updated LIF system, Lord Cuntybollox?
“Well Al, I’m glad you asked. It’s not as violent as before, not as intrusive, and the bike feels more natural throughout a lap. Portimao is the ultimate test for electronics and anti-wheelie systems, and the LIF proved handy in some areas – especially over the start/finish straight’s crest. We were advised to keep it pinned to allow the system to function properly, rather than modulate the throttle and upset the bike. I still found it easier to manually control wheelies in certain areas of the track but this is an improvement.”
There was also a stock R1 and a GYTR (Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing, not anything to do with Great Yarmouth) kitted bike with 215bhp and a feast of other bolt-ons now available for public consumption. Video dropping soon…
What happens when Yamaha assembles 150 R1Ms into the garage at Silverstone? You have yourselves a £2,500,000 garage. That’s exactly what happened last August (yes, we know, apologies for the late upload) when the Yamaha Racing Experience rolled into the UK for what should have been the ultimate trackday.
VIPs, world championship racers, technical seminars, 150 R1Ms gracing our very own GP circuit and 44Teeth: Silverstone’s YRE event should have been a day to remember, although the good old British summertime scuppered plans somewhat. Still, it was an epic affair and a chance to understand the R1M’s complexities, chat to Alex Lowes and eat exemplary snacks.
On purchasing a brand-new R1M, Yamaha also dishes out a YRE event of your choosing; Mugello, Assen and a few other world-class GP tracks. The whole package adds up to well over a grand once you include hotels, booze and the onslaught of circuit-based activities.
As Sue Perkins Chris boards his easyJet flight to Portimao for the world press launch of the 2018 Yamaha R1M, expect updates on the subtle tweaks in the coming days. But, for now, enjoy the £2,500,000 garage from last season…
The £2.5 Million Garage | Yamaha Racing Experience - YouTube
You’ve probably heard murmurings from last weekend’s Ducati Panigale V4 world press launch in Valencia, although you probably haven’t heard about a few of us taking some rental bikes (Valencia’s equivalent of Boris Bikes) and riding them down steps and swapping brake cables and basically imitating Mat Hoffman.
Anyway, I digress. Rarely has a brand-new motorcycle received such unanimous praise and consequent torrent of superlatives, and its sexy Italian lineage, £24,000 price tag and enough in the electronics suite to worry a high street store have nothing to do with it.
Honda’s original FireBlade. The 1998 Yamaha R1. Suzuki’s GSX-R1000 K5. The original BMW S 1000 RR. Every now and then, a bike will come along and raise the imaginary bar. Sure, the Panigale V4 still has two wheels and nothing truly innovative is mentioned in its tech spec, but there’s something intrinsically special about the Panigale V4, therefore deserving bar-raising status of the aforementioned quartet. Yes. It really is that special.
Does it boil your spuds like the 1299? Difficult to confirm, as we didn’t encounter any urban environments on the launch and my spuds felt all warm and lovely, but never seared. Hopefully we answered most of your questions in this video, although I get round to replying to some of the more obscure enquiries.
Sit back, relax and enjoy our Ducati Panigale V4 Review
Just when we thought the influx of 2018 machinery had dried up, KTM has – this morning – unveiled a naughty little number in the shape of an RC 390 R. This limited-edition homologation special has been released to compete at the sharp end of the booming SSP300 class and restricted to just 500 units.
Fully adjustable WP suspension separates the R model from the stock RC 390 (rather than the very crude bouncers), along with hardware updates, a shorter intake trumpet for a wider spread of power, CNC race levers and a new top yoke and handlebar kit to allow for racier ergonomics. The RC chassis has always been a belter, so Gucci suspension will no doubt take handling to another level.
There’s also an SSP300 Race Kit, which features over 230 bolt-on goodies to go racing, including that stunning Akrapovic EVO02 exhaust, Race ECU, quickshifter, STM slipper clutch, plus everything you need to go racing for a season.
The bad news? The 2018 KTM RC 390 R itself will cost €8,500, while the race kit will set you back €11,000. And, according to KTM, the kit cannot be retrospectively fitted to older RC models.
Still, this could spark a new wave of fresh homologation lightweights from other manufacturers, which would be peng, especially given the success of SSP300 racing across the globe and British Superbikes launching their very own SSP300 support class in 2018.