:: Aprilia ::
Biggest news on the Aprilia front is that the vaunted RSV4 literbike finally makes its way to U.S. shores. Our Euro correspondent Alan Cathcart was the only rider to obtain a dry-weather riding impression at the world press launch earlier this year ("Reborn Return", July '09), and if his initial feeling on the Aprilia is any indication, the bike will be worth the wait. The 65-degree, 999.6cc V-four-powered machine has been generating raves on the other side of the pond, with other Euro journalists swooning over the Aprilia's incredibly agile handling and superb power characteristics. As per the usual modus operandi, Aprilia will be importing two versions of the RSV4: the "standard" R model, and the limited production "Factory" edition. The Factory will come equipped with Öhlins suspension front and rear, forged aluminum wheels, carbon fiber fenders, and multi-adjustable chassis setup, including steering head rake angle, swingarm pivot height, and engine mount position (all via replaceable inserts). The standard R version will come minus all the aforementioned premium pieces, and presumably come with the usual Sachs rear shock/Showa front fork suspension componentry. Current MSRP for the standard R model will be $16,499, while the Factory version will only be available in very limited quantities, and retail for $20,999. Aprilia will also be bringing in the Mana 850 GT ABS (basically the Mana 850 with a half-fairing and anti-lock brake system) for $10,599. New '10 models for Moto Guzzi (both Aprilia and Moto Guzzi are owned by the Piaggio Group) include the Stelvio 1200 ABS (an adventure tour machine using the four-valve V-twin engine from the Griso) for $15,990, and the retro-styled V7 Café Classic for $8990.
:: BMW ::
It's pretty obvious that most of the anticipation for '10 centers around the new BMW S 1000 RR, the German manufacturer's no-holds-barred assault on the four-cylinder superbike market that we featured in the September '09 issue (also check out SR Euro correspondent Alan Cathcart's exclusive ride on the BMW World Superbike racebike in this issue). With the claimed best horsepower-to-weight ratio on the literbike class, the S 1000 RR will have a lot of expectations when it finally hits the showrooms in early 2010. Although what wasn't quite expected is the price: a very reasonable MSRP of $13,800 for the base model puts it easily within reach of the average buyer. However, like most BMWs, it's the extras that will start adding up. If you want the Race ABS system, tack on another $1000; if you want both the Race ABS and Dynamic Traction Control system, it will run you an additional $1480. There is also the Gear Shift Assistant (GSA) electric shift option for $450, an anti-theft alarm for $395, or the Motorsports Paint Scheme (identical to the WSBK machine featured elsewhere in this issue) for $750.
:: Honda ::
CBR600RR & CBR1000RR ::
As far as the company's two supersport machines-the CBR600RR and CBR1000RR-things are basically status quo at Honda, especially for the 600RR, which is unchanged mechanically. It will be available in two colors: a Pearl Orange/Black paint scheme, and a wild special edition "Leyla" graphic seen here. The C-ABS option will once again be available, and will now be readily distinguishable from the standard version as it will only be available in Red/Black motif. The CBR1000RR has some minor modifications for '10, including a larger diameter flywheel for smoother throttle response, a redesigned license plate bracket for easier removal for track days, and a revamped lower muffler cover. Color schemes for the 1000RR for '10 will be Pearl Orange/Light Metallic Silver, and Red/Black; the C-ABS version will only come in black. Unfortunately, MSRPs (as well as any high resolution shots of the '10 CBR1000RR) were not established at press time.
The NT700V actually isn't a "new" model-it's been selling quite well in Europe for the past two years as the "Deauville 700". Long-time Honda fans may recognize the engine: the liquid-cooled, 52-degree V-twin is descended from the original Hawk GT sold back in the late 80s. Now displacing 680cc and-in European form-cranking out a claimed 67 horsepower, the NT700V is intended to be a smaller, lighter, and more affordable version of the ST1300. The five-speed tranny transmits power through a shaft drive, and the NT comes equipped with integrated large capacity hard saddlebags that offer a "pass-through space between the two sides to facilitate packing of longer items and provide additional carrying capacity"; a broad fairing with five-position windscreen helps keep the windblast off the rider. Claimed curb weight is 566 pounds, fuel tank capacity is 5.2 gallons, and the seat height is a manageable 31.7 inches. The NT700V will come in Metallic Red and Metallic Silver, with an MSRP of $9999 for the standard version, and $10,999 for the ABS version (only available in Metallic Silver).
VFR1200 with semi-auto F1-style gearbox ::
Photo by Brenda Priddy & ...
Photo by Brenda Priddy & Co.
Although it wasn't officially announced at press time, the venerable VFR800 will either be replaced or supplemented by a new VFR1200. Utilizing the same V-four engine architecture, the sport-tourer will feature a novel crankshaft layout that has the two rear cylinders' crankpins side-by-side (instead of alternating front and rear cylinders across the crankshaft), with the two front cylinder crankpins situated on either end. This allows the engine to be much narrower in the rear, consequently making the bike narrower between the rider's knees. The valve train will also make use of the UniCam rocker arm setup found on the company's off-road bikes, with a single overhead cam actuating both the intake and exhaust valves, saving weight and space. Reports are also swirling around the possibility of an evolution of the VFR800's V-TEC valve shutoff system, with the rear cylinder banks actually shutting off completely during steady-state cruise situations, saving fuel. This spy shot was taken during final production testing at a remote desert location, showing the bike in basically finished form.
But the biggest news surrounding the VFR is the "Dual Clutch Transmission" that will be available as an option. Basically a semi-automatic gearbox similar in function to the dual clutch pack setups found in Formula One and many high-end sports car transmissions, the Honda system is a far cry from the previous semi-automatic designs for motorcycles. Instead of using an inefficient and heavy torque converter or quirk-prone electro-mechanical clutch, the Honda Dual Clutch setup is a light and compact design that can be retro-fitted to other engines without requiring extensive revamping of the engine cases and other components. In fact, Honda stated that the company intends to "gradually expand the deployment of the new transmission to more and more of its large-displacement motorcycles, particularly sports models." This means that a semi-automatic CBR1000RR is definitely in the cards in a few years.
One of the problems with semi-automatic transmissions is how to shift gears-engaging another gear requires stopping power application so that the gearsets can disengage from one and mesh with another. The Dual Clutch gearbox works by basically having each clutch handle a specific set of gears; one clutch deals with 1st, 3rd, and 5th gear, while the other handles 2nd, 4th, and 6th gear. Instead of having to disengage one gearset to make the shift, the system functions by "pre-engaging" the next gear with a separate clutch; then, because there is no cut in power, it basically transitions to the next gear by disengaging the first clutch and engaging the other one simultaneously. This makes the gearshifts not only seamless, but lightning quick as well, since there is no power-cutoff and the shifts are actuated electro-hydraulically. Honda's patented design uses a dual input shaft to allow a light and compact design.
:: Kawasaki ::
Kawasaki's big Ninja has been updated with some minor modifications aimed at refining its transmission and steering damper action, as well as its overall appearance. Applying the same internal gearbox modifications that were used with the '09 ZX-6R, Kawasaki engineers were able to reduce play in the shift mechanism and provide a more precise feel at the shift lever. The Öhlins twin-tube steering damper also received internal changes, with a separate spring and free piston in the reservoir chamber allowing more consistent pressure in the damping orifices, resulting in more stable damping characteristics. The steering damper also receives a new titanium finish and laser-etched logo for appearance. And speaking of appearance, the ZX-10R's bodywork has undergone some subtle modifications, giving it a more compact look. The front upper fairing is now one piece, with a slightly more rounded leading edge. New inner panels tidy up the area around the handlebars, while sharper and more compact side panels incorporate more flat black into the design to enhance the bike's more focused look. The muffler is also slightly more compact, with a metallic grey finish, dimpled surface pattern, and smaller end cap. MSRP had not been set at press time.
It's been a while since Kawasaki's Z1000 naked street bruiser has undergone some changes, but the new '10 model has some major updates in virtually every area. The engine is all-new, with a larger 1043cc displacement making for a huge 90cc bump in size (and predictably, power as well). The engine is slotted into an all-new aluminum chassis that sports a new horizontally-mounted shock linkage design, allowing a "much lower seat height than previous Z1000 models", according to Kawasaki. Handling is claimed to be much lighter and quicker than its predecessor as well. MSRP was unavailable at press time.
Concours 14 ::
The big Connie sport-tourer didn't miss out on the updates either, with a whole slew of new features that look to be a test bed for future applications on other models in Kawasaki's lineup. For instance, the new Concours 14 now comes with Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), the company's first foray into the TC world. This is augmented by the new ABS system, labeled the "K-ACT II Selectable, Sport Oriented Coactive Anti-Lock Brakes". Details were scarce, but according to Kawasaki press talk, the new system "complements the rider's inputs with supplementary force enhancements for improved braking performance over a wide variety of riding surfaces." The bodywork has undergone some refinements, with a larger windscreen and improved heat management at the top of the list. Mirrors have been relocated to keep the hard bags from obscuring rear vision, and a boatload of touring amenities have been added, including heated grips, "economical riding indicator/fuel economy assistance mode", a relocated electro-locking glove box, tank bag hooks, etc. Suspension settings and the Bridgestone BT021 tires have been redesigned for lighter handling and improved tire wear.
:: Suzuki ::
Although this model was announced at the Bol D'or 24-Hour endurance race in France, it's a pretty good bet it will make it to U.S. shores. The GSX1250FA is basically the Bandit 1250S, but with a full fairing replacing the Bandit's half-fairing. Engine and chassis are basically identical to the 1250S. Headlights for the GSX-R-esque front end are vertically stacked, and the windscreen is tall enough to work with the standard-style handlebars. The GSX1250FA also comes standard with ABS; accessories include hard bags and top case, taller windscreen, and much more.
Bandit 1250/1250-ABS ::
The naked versions of the Bandit 1250S were also unveiled in France, but their importation to these shores is less sure, based upon previous Suzuki models' sales records of this genre. The naked 1250S looks to have a Gladius-style headlight, but all else looks identical to the Bandit.
:: Yamaha ::
YZF-R1 LE ::
Banking on the increasing popularity of Valentino Rossi and MotoGP in the U.S., Yamaha will be releasing an R1 LE (Limited Edition) for '10 replete with Fiat Yamaha MotoGP team livery. The graphics are basically the same as the MotoGP team bikes, with sponsor logos, Rossi's famous "46" number on the nose fairing, and "The Doctor" stickers on the windscreen; there is also a replica of Rossi's signature on top of the fuel tank. Mechanically, however, the R1 LE is identical to the standard model-so that means no Öhlins suspension and forged aluminum wheels as with the previous R1 LE edition in '06. But the flip side to that omission is that the price is much more reasonable, with the '10 R1 LE listing for $14,500. The standard model will be available in Raven, Pearl White, and Team Yamaha Blue/White motifs with a starting MSRP of $13,290.
:: YZF-R6 ::
For 2010, the R6 gets a remapped ECU and a new 100mm-longer muffler for increased power. Yamaha officials are claiming that the new modifications have brought back the power lost with the '09 model that were caused by the more restrictive EPA noise regulations (our '09 R6 test bike was down six horsepower from our '08 test unit on the dyno). The 2010 YZF-R6 will be available in dealerships nationwide beginning January 2010 with an MSRP of $10,490. Available color schemes will be Raven, Pearl White and Team Yamaha Blue/White.