Writing about bikes for 20 years. Published in dozens of titles on five continents. Mildly obsessed with discovering how things work.
Need to catch up on what’s been going on in the world of motorcycling over the last week? Here’s your five-minute briefing.
1: Kawasaki W800 takes a bow at Motorcycle Live
Kawasaki might have announced the return of the W800 at EICMA in Milan earlier this month but Motorcycle Live at the NEC was where the bike made its European debut in the metal on Thursday, just days after it was shown on the other side of the Atlantic at California’s International Motorcycle Show.
At the moment, the bike’s detailed specifications are still secret, although it’s known to have an A2 licence friendly 47hp from its Euro4-compliant, 773cc parallel twin, which still retains that oh-so-retro, bevel-drive, single-overhead camshaft. As announced at EICMA, there are two versions of the bike – the naked W800 Street and the bullet-faired W800 CAFE (the shouty, inexplicably uppercase lettering for the latter is Kawasaki’s, not ours.)
The frame’s redesigned, too, and there are ABS-equipped disc brakes at both ends for the first time in the W800’s life, with 320mm front and 270mm rear rotors. Both wheels are 18-inchers.
The exact figures for weight, seat height and other dimensions will be confirmed once the bike’s completed its European homologation process early next year.
At the moment there’s no word on UK price, either, but in America the W800 CAFE (the only version sold there) will cost $9799 next year. In the UK that’s likely to translate to somewhere around the £9k mark, with the naked Street model several hundred pounds lower. That means it should be in the same ballpark as the £8900, 900cc Triumph Bonneville T100.
2: Gladstone SE
Gladstone isn’t the highest-profile of British bike firms but the company, founded by TV presenter Henry Cole, has been turning out small numbers of its “No.1” model since 2014. Now its range has grown with the addition of the Gladstone SE.
When we say ‘small numbers’, we really mean it. The No.1 was limited to nine examples, each taking six months to create. The SE follows a similar path.
Where the No.1 used a rebuilt and blueprinted Triumph T140 750cc twin, the SE is powered by a refurbished 650cc T120R engine. As before, it’s bolted to a nickel-plated, hardtail Metisse frame fitted with Gladstone’s own aluminium fuel tank. The SE gets shorter, Ceriani forks with a Norton TLS front drum brake, and while all the No.1 machines were black, the SE is Aston Martin Rosso Red. Although, since each one will be built to order, customers can specify their own colours if they prefer, along with choosing different grips and seats to suit their preferences.
3: First fully 3D-printed motorcycle
There’s no question that 3D printing is becoming an ever more important tool for motorcycle design and manufacture. We’ve already seen BMW create a prototype metal 3D printed S1000RR chassis and now there’s this – a complete 3D printed bike, made of plastic, from printer manufacturer BigRep.
To answer the most obvious question, no, it’s not going into production. But it works as an illustration of what can be achieved using large-scale 3D printers.
Apart from the electric bits – a wheel-mounted motor, the battery and the wiring – the whole thing is 3D printed, even the tyres, which use a Michelin Tweel-style airless design, with flexible spokes providing compliance rather than air.
Although there’s no plan to make the bike, the growing number of home 3D printers mean that surely it won’t be long before somebody, somewhere creates a downloadable design that anyone with the right equipment and skill can simply make themselves…
4: IoM TT Fan Village for 2019
Where to stay is always a conundrum for IoM TT visitors, with tens of thousands of race-goers competing for a limited number of hotel rooms, B&Bs and campsites on the tiny island.
But for 2019 there’s a new option in the form of the IoM TT Fan Village, a pop-up ‘hotel’ using self-contained pre-fab rooms including their one en-suites and twin beds. It’s set to be constructed just 50m from the entrance to the paddock in Douglas, just minutes away from the start/finish line and within easy reach of Douglas town centre.
Find out more at the official website here: https://www.iomtt.com/travel/iomtt-village
5: Dainese Custom Works event at Dainese London
Custom-tailored leathers might be an expensive luxury but the benefits of a suit made perfectly to fit can’t be denied.
At the end of this month, Dainese London is holding a two-day Custom Works Tailoring Event in store, where you can go to get measured for your own suit and get special offers.
The event runs from 10am on Thursday 29 November to 7pm on Friday 30 November, and on the Thursday evening there will be a special guest, four-time WSB champion Carl Fogarty, at the store at 6pm to meet customers. In fact, our very own Web Editor, Michael Mann, will be on hand to discuss his own D-air Custom Works suit (above) on the Thursday.
6: Full Tank Moto
There’s no shortage of places to pick up bike-related apparel but Full Tank Moto puts a different twist on the idea by donating its profits to the Movember Foundation.
A registered Australian charity, Full Tank is taking pre-orders for a range of T-shirts, hats and prints, for delivery in January 2019, via its website at https://fulltankmoto.org.
A not-for-profit brand, which pays its staff only the going rate and donates 100% of profits to the Movember Foundation, Full Tank is the brainchild of Australian Scott Wilson. He noticed that while motorcyclists are strong on charitable donations, there was no charitable option when it came to bike-related clothing.
He said: “Full Tank looks to challenge that landscape and become a global brand motorcyclists feel not only delivers a great product, but gives back to their health and that of fellow riders at the same time. It’s a way to roll with purpose, every day.”
The firm’s press release explains:
The seeds of Full Tank were sown a few years ago when Wilson learned that a friend’s child had taken their own life. “A teenager with seemingly everything ahead was, without anyone’s knowledge, suffering from depression,” Wilson says.
“In that same week I heard an old school friend had also committed suicide, and another friend just sold his motorcycle simply to keep the family fed. When experiencing dark times, it’s easy to think you’re alone or even broken. I know because I have been there. But with these events, something told me to do more with what I know. What I have. The wheels in my head started to turn.”
It was a chance encounter with one of the world’s great motorcycling champions that crystallised Wilson’s thoughts and led to the creation of Full Tank.
“Not long after I had moved to New Zealand from my native Australia in 2016, I had a chance encounter with one of New Zealand’s motorcycle greats, Hugh Anderson MBE,” Wilson explains. “A spark ignited when talking of various friends’ plights with mental health, and indeed our own. We shared a common feeling that for men in today’s world, every day is a winding road and that more can always be done.”
Anderson is a four-time Grand Prix motorcycle road racing world champion, two-time Isle of Man TT winner and 19-time New Zealand national champion. But, of course, even such incredible success does not make one immune to men’s health issues. Anderson lost his older brother to prostate cancer and himself was diagnosed as a “text-book case of a manic depressive”, so the aims of Full Tank ring particularly true to him.
“Initiatives such as Full Tank do a great deal to lift the standing of motorcycling in the community,” Anderson says. “The sense of unity provided by the ideal of giving to a well promoted – in this case neglected – health issue, unites us all, and that freedom we enjoy is exemplified in our freedom to give.”
Anderson became the first Full Tank ambassador, a club that now includes the British Super Bike champion Josh Brookes; Australian rugby league international, thyroid cancer survivor and motorcycle enthusiast, Luke Lewis; actor, testicular cancer survivor and much admired motorcycle adventurer Charley Boorman; Australian stunt riding champion, Lukey Luke; and the founder of the worldwide charitable initiatives, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and Ride Sunday, Mark Hawwa.
Wilson says the fact that so many people are keen to throw their support behind Full Tank reflects the wide-ranging appeal of the initiative. “It’s about them, and it’s non-sectarian,” he says. “By that I mean, it doesn’t matter what you ride or how long you have been in the saddle, a Full Tank is for all. The brand is here to celebrate the fact that the riding community cares and wants to make a difference.”
You’re a fortunate guy if you roll through life without any hint of trouble on the bike, and the same is true for your health, Wilson adds. “At some point, chances are you, a friend or family member is going to have a challenge with men’s health,” he says. “Full Tank is just another way riders can act, and receive a great product at the same time.”