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 the news from the world of motorcycling that you may have missed over the last week? Here’s your five-minute briefing.
1: Zero SR/F getting closer
It’s been at least a decade now that electric bikes have been threatening (but never quite managing) to become a serious alternative to petrol-powered machines. Remember, it was back in 2009 that the TTX-GP first brought electric bike racing to the Isle of Man TT. But even before then – as far back as 2006 – that Zero Motorcycles was set up in California with the goal of turning electric bikes into a serious proposition.
On 25th February the firm is going to reveal the machine that should come closer than ever before to doing just that. Zero has been teasing the new model – the SR/F – for a while now, but the latest video finally gives some clues to its technical details of the machine.
A close-up of the forks and front wheel reveals that the SR/F will use USD Showas, which is a promising start, plus a pair of J.Juan radial brake calipers – a slightly left-field brand, but one that Zero has been using for a while on its existing range of bikes.
A second close-up, this time of the motor, reveals a badge reading ‘Z-Force 75-10’. That’s not much to go on, but the firm’s current bikes use the ‘Z-Force 75-7’ with up to 69hp and the ‘Z-Force 75-5’ with 46hp. That seems to suggest the final number in the name is roughly aligned to power. If the ’75-5’ has a little under 50hp, and the ’75-7’ has a little under 70hp, hopefully that indicates that the ’75-10’ will be in the region of 100hp.
The battery pack, also shown in the video, is labelled ‘ZF 14.4’. That’s the same 14.4kWh battery that’s already offered on Zero’s range-topping models. We also see a trellis-style frame and an adjustable monoshock for the rear suspension.
Only a couple more weeks before we see the full bike…
2: Akrapovic for 1st year Indian FTR1200 S Race Replica
Buyers of Indian’s FTR1200 S in range-topping ‘Race Replica’ form will get an Akrapovic exhaust as standard if they purchase the bike this year – almost entirely offsetting the extra cost of the Race Replica compared to normal FTR1200 S models.
Indian’s press release says: Limited to the first year’s production of the FTR 1200 S in Race Replica paint, the offer includes the Akrapovič low-mount exhaust in titanium and stainless construction with a protective black matte carbon fibre heat shield. The slip-on Akrapovič pipe enhances the impressive flat track styling of the FTR 1200 S Race Replica delivering a soundtrack to match.
Grant Bester, Vice President and General Manager for Indian Motorcycle EMEA, said: “The overwhelmingly positive response we’ve received for the FTR 1200 S with the Akrapovič exhaust has shown what a dynamic combination they are. It’s this great feedback which inspired us to give more value to the first owners of the FTR 1200 S Race Replica by including the exhaust at a very special price.”
Originally, the Race Repica – which features the same paint scheme as the firm’s flat-track racers – was set to cost £13,499 in the UK. Now, first-year bikes with the Akrapovic pipe will be £600 more at £14,099. That represents a £309.59 saving, since the pipe alone normally costs £909.59. If you don’t want the pipe, there’s still the option of the normal FTR1200 S at £12,999, or the base model FTR1200, with lower-spec suspension and electronics, which starts at at £11,899.
3: Strong demand as Moto Guzzi V85TT production starts
When Moto Guzzi revealed the final version of its V85TT adventure bike last year we said it had “wider mass-market appeal than any Moto Guzzi in years” and now real-world interest in the machine has backed up that statement.
Guzzi says that it’s already received more than 8000 bookings for test rides in Europe, starting at the end of this month, and full-scale production of the V85TT commenced at Guzzi’s Mandello del Lario factory on Wednesday this week.
Expected to cost around £11,000, the V85TT isn’t intended to rival the biggest and fastest of adventure bikes, but instead slots into a less crowded market. With 80hp, it’s not battling for performance supremacy either, but its combination of an air-cooled engine and shaft-drive means it has the same sort of rugged simplicity that made older BMW GS models so popular.
4: Ducati Theme Park to open in spring
You only have to look at the incredible success of World Ducati Weekend to see how the Ducati brand can pull people from all over the world – and it’s a trick that the firm’s theme park will hope to replicate.
Currently under construction as part of the existing Mirabilandia Park on the Adriatic coast near Ravenna, not far from Ducati’s Bologna base, Ducati World promises to be 35,000 square meters of motorcycle-themed fun.
It’s main attraction is the ‘Desmo Race’ rollercoaster, which features a race-style layout where two tracks run side-by-side. Other Ducati-themed elements include riding simulators and more traditional rides aimed at younger visitors including the ‘Diavel Ring’, ‘Kiddy Monster’ and ‘Scrambler Run’. And of course there’s the inevitable Ducati World Shop to drain your wallet, along with three Ducati-inspired food and drinks outlets.
Tickets and passes for the 2019 season are already on sale at ducatiworld.mirabilandia.it, including combined park and hotel deals, along with pictures and videos showing the state of the Ducati area’s construction. Of course, the tickets also include access to the rest of the Mirabilandia park, which covers 850,000 square metres, with 47 attractions including the fastest rollercoaster in Italy and the second-tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, 5 themed areas and 25 restaurants on site.
5: Revvi Twelve
Electric bikes don’t just open up new possibilities for grown-ups – they make a huge amount of sense as first motorcycles for kids, too. And that’s where the new 2019 Revvi Twelve comes in.
Last year we tried Revvi’s previous generation of bike but the latest model looks like a step forward in most areas. Weighing in at a mere 9kg it’s insanely light, thanks largely to a switch from lead-acid to Li-Ion battery technology, which also helps slice charging time from six hours to only two while retaining the ability to run for one hour on a charge. An aluminium frame and bars further cut weight and a built in freewheel system means that even when the battery is flat the Revvi Twelve can be used as a push-along balance bike.
The firm says the bike is aimed at kids from 2 to 6 years old, with a maximum rider weight of 34kg (around 5 stone). For the youngest riders, the suggestion is to start off by using it in balance bike form, then graduating to electric power in low-speed mode, which is limited to around 5mph. For older, more experienced riders – 5 or 6 years old – you can switch to high-speed mode, doubling performance to a heady 10mph.
If you can really make it last a child for the full four years of its recommended age range, the £299 price could work out as something of a bargain, too.