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  • KTM wins 2017 Dakar Rally – 16th straight victory

    It was a KTM 1-2 at the Dakar Rally 2017 with the top two places going to Red Bull KTM factory riders Sam Sunderland of Great Britain and Matthias Walkner of Austria. Third place went to Spaniard Gerard Farres Guell, also riding a KTM.

    This is the 16th time in a row that KTM has won this gruelling off-road, multi-stage rally. After racing almost 9,000 km across Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, Sunderland won the 12-stage rally with a final time of 32:06.22 on his specially prepared KTM 450 Rally.

    The 2017 Dakar Rally saw two stage cancellations and also reductions, due to weather conditions and a landslide. The rally – which ran from January 2 to 14 – began in Asuncion, Paraguay, and went through Bolivia and Argentina before the final special stage from Rio Cuarto to Buenos Aries, Argentina.

    Traditionally dominated by European riders, Sunderland is the first British winner of the Dakar rally, in any category. In fourth place overall was Adrien van Beveren of Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team, riding a Yamaha WR450F.

    A mistake made during refuelling in Stage 4 saw Honda’s Joan Barreda and Pablo Gonçalves drop out of contention, coming in fifth and sixth, respectively. Female racer Laia Sanz, riding for KTM Spain, came in sixteenth overall, one spot shy of her goal of finishing in fifteenth place.

    In the car category, Peugeot took a 1-2-3 win as well, with the Peugeot 3008 DKR. Driven by Stéphane Peterhansel and co-piloted by Jean-Paul Cottret, the podium was also graced by nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb and five-time bike Dakar winner Cyril Despres, in second and third.

  • REVIEW: 2017 Modenas Elegan 250 – scooting around

    Scooters are, by definition, quick, easy to ride, and well suited for personal urban transport. Not every errand or trip requires you to bring along two armchairs and a sofa, and looking at the traffic congestion in most major Malaysian cities, not enough drivers are considering there are alternatives to using a car for most short journeys.

    Typically, scooters fall into several broad categories – the maxi-scooter, usually above 400 cc, the ‘normal’ scooter, from 300 cc and below, and retro scooters like the Vespa and Scomadi, which feature “classic” styling with modern components and reliability.

    For most, though, a scooter is meant for urban transport, and recognising this, every major manufacturer has a scooter in the 150 cc and 125 cc categories. However, there is a shortcoming with smaller, single-cylinder engines, in that such power plants can lack a certain amount of “get-up-and-go”.

    This is especially pertinent on today’s city roads, where most cars are capable of cracking 150 km/h, and smaller bikes keeping up with fast-moving traffic can be an issue, especially on highways. For this situation, the 250 cc scooter is almost ideal.

    Recently launched by Modenas, as a collaboration with Taiwanese scooter manufacturer Kymco, the 2017 Modenas Elegan 250 is the successor to the previous-generation Elegan 200. Marketed as reliable, daily transport for the urban dweller, we took the Elegan 250 through the paces.

    Find out what we thought of Modenas latest scooter, after the jump.

  • Kuala Lumpur to ban kapchais from entering city?

    Small underbone motorcycles, popularly referred to as kapchais might be banned from entering Kuala Lumpur, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and pollution. In a speech by Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, he said the city was looking at prohibiting kapchais from entering the city centre, provided public transport was available at a reasonable price.

    “During the day, the population (in the city) increases to between five and seven million because workers commute to work,” said Tengku Adnan in a The Star report. “Many cities do not allow kapchai to come in,” he said, “and motorcycles have been used by snatch thieves in the city.”

    However, Tengku Adnan recognised that many people needed kapchais for transport as they could not afford other modes of transport due to low salaries. “Once cheaper public transport is available, we will be looking at the possibility of not allowing kapchai motorcycles into the city,” he said.

    Additionally, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has plans to introduce a road congestion pricing scheme in the city centre, and will implement the system when the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) begins operations. The plan to introduce road pricing has been incorporated in the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 and is aimed at reducing the flow of private cars travelling in to the city centre.

    The idea of banning small motorcycles from congested city streets is not new, with authorities in the city of Hanoi, Vietnam, contemplating a ban on all forms of two-wheeled transport from its city centre by 2025. In an effort to contain pollution, the cities of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City are also considering banning diesel vehicles, with Paris already forbidding vehicles made before 1997 from its streets.

  • Benelli appoints new Malaysian distributor – official announcement in two weeks

    News has hit the local market that Benelli motorcycles will be appointing a new Malaysian distributor, and its contract with current distributor Benelli Keeway is not being renewed for 2017. This news was forwarded to from an industry source.

    The new Benelli distributor will be making an official announcement soon. Verification with our source inside the said new distributor confirmed the news.

    Benelli Keeway has been the Malaysian distributor for Benelli, an Italian firm currently owned by a China conglomerate Group Qianjiang. In Malaysia, Benelli Keeway recently launched the TnT135 mini-moto, at a price of RM8,469.

    GALLERY: 2017 Benelli TnT135

  • Stigo folding e-scooter in Malaysia – last mile commuter connection solution, from RM5,990

    One problem many public transport commuters face is the last-mile – the distance between the station and their home or workplace. In many cases, walking is not a convenient solution, as our local weather and lack of easy pedestrian access does not make foot power conducive.

    Some have turned to a folding bicycle as a solution, with such personal vehicles now allowed on the mass transit systems in Kuala Lumpur. But there might be a more elegant solution in the Stigo folding e-scooter, brought into Malaysia by official distributor Stigo Global.

    Combining the frame of a folding bicycle with a hub-mounted 250 watt motor, the Stigo – certified as an “L1e” street-legal electric scooter – comes in two versions – the base Stigo and the Stigo+. The Stigo carries a single 36-volt 5.8 Ah lithium-ion battery pack which translates to 209 watt hours, while the Stigo+ gets two packs for double the capacity.

    This gives the Stigo and Stigo+ a range of 15 and 30 km, respectively, with a maximum governed speed of 25 km/h. Charging time is approximately three hours, using household current.

    Weighing in at 13.9 kg for the Stigo, and 15.2 kg for the Stigo+, this e-scooter will fit into the boot of a sedan. For hatchbacks, the rear seat will have to be folded down.

    Unfolding the Stigo is a simple two-step operation, with folding being the reverse. Folded up, the Stigo has a footprint of 48 by 40 cm. Switching on the Stigo is with a push-button and transponder key, which also switches on the front LED headlight and brake/tail light.

    Riding the Stigo is easy, with power controlled by a twist grip on the right handlebar. Braking is with levers on the left and right, activating a V-brake in front, and a cable-operated disc brake at the back. The tyres are proper pneumatic items, and there is no suspension.

    Designed to be a last mile solution for commuters, or a quick and easy run-about for short trips close to home or work, the Stigo is sold at an introductory price of RM5,990 for the base version and RM6,990 for the Stigo+, while stocks last. Made in Estonia from aluminium, with the battery pack located inside the frame spar, its folding design also makes it easy to store at home or work.

  • 2017 Triumph Street Triple series launched in UK – from RM44k, expected arrival in Malaysia around April

    After 10 years of sterling service, Triumph Motorcycles has finally updated and revised its Street Triple range, with the launch of the 2017 Triumph Street Triple, Street Triple R and Street Triple RS. Now displacing 765 cc, placing it firmly in three-quarter litre territory, the new Street Triple starts from a base price of 8,125 pounds sterling (RM43,625).

    The DOHC, 12-valve, inline-triple engine underwent major development for the new Street Triple 765, and only shares 10% of its components with the previous-generation 675. Some 80 new parts were designed for the 765 power plant, including the crank, pistons and Nikasil-coated aluminium barrels, along with specific cams for each model, resulting in an engine that weighs 1.2 kg less but produces 16% more peak power (in ‘RS’ form).

    Starting with the base Street Triple 765 S, which produces 111.5 hp at 11,250 rpm and 73 Nm of torque at 9,100 rpm, it is followed by the ‘R’ model, which pumps out 116.4 hp at 12,000 rpm and 77 Nm of torque at 9,400 rpm. This is topped by the Street Triple RS, with 121.2 hp at 11,700 rpm and 77 Nm of torque at 10,800 rpm.

    New for 2017 is traction control and riding modes, with Triumph started implementing in its Tiger XCX dual-purpose machines. The base ‘S’ triple gets two modes – Road and Rain – while the R has four, adding on Sport and Rider modes on top of the above two, and the top-of-the-line RS gets an additional Track mode.

    Information in the cockpit now uses a five-inch TFT LCD full-colour display that is tilt-adjustable for the R and RS models – the RS panel includes a lap timer – while the S model makes do with an updated LCD display. Selection modes for the on-board computer and modes is done with a five-way joystick on the left handlebar.

    Attention has also been paid to the chassis, suspension and braking. The chassis for the Street Triple 765 is lighter and stiffer than before, and claimed dry weight is 166 kg across the range.

    Braking is handled by Brembo units on the R and RS Triples – with M4.32 and M50 Monobloc calipers respectively – while the base model S makes do with Nissin clamps. Additionally, the RS gets Brembo’s MCS radial master cylinder with span and ratio adjustment. Discs are twin 310 mm floating items in front and a single 220 mm disc at the back across the range.

    On the suspension front, the RS comes standard with fully-adjustable Showa upside-down Big Piston Forks (BPF) with 115 mm of travel while the rear is propped up with an Ohlins TSX40 absorber, which has 131 mm of travel and is fully-adjustable.

    Meanwhile, the R model also uses Showa, but with a separate reservoir upside-down adjustable SF-BPF fork, and a monoshock Showa adjustable rear absorber. Suspension travel is 115 mm in front and 134 mm at the rear.

    Up top, the 2017 Street Triple 765 now comes with a centrally-located air-intake placed above the twin headlights. The headlights, which in the Street Triple were said to resemble a praying mantis and was a polarising part of the design, are now slightly rounder in shape.

    Bodywork is also new, drawing on the 765’s bigger sibling the Speed Triple, for inspiration. A new gullwing swingarm is installed, which provides stiffness to the rear-end, while the aluminium die-cast two-piece subframe shaves weight.

    Standard on the RS model is a colour-coded bellypan and rear seat cowl, while the R and S models have these items as options. Colour options for the RS are Phantom Black and Matte Silver Ice, while the R gets Jet Black, Crystal White and Matte Aluminium Silver. The S model comes in Phantom Black or Diablo Red.

    Aside from that for the base model 2017 Street Triple 765 S, no prices yet for the R and RS models. In Malaysia, the 2016 Triumph Street Triple 675 R retails for a current promotional price of RM49,900, valid till February.

  • BMW Motorrad and Touratech build R1200 GS Rambler

    While BMW Motorrad’s GS-series machines are the de facto standard for big dual-purpose adventure touring bikes, they aren’t exactly the most slim and svelte of motorcycles. Joining forces with adventure motorcycle gear maker Touratech – a famous brand in its own right – the duo have produced the R1200 GS Rambler.

    Using the 1,170 cc boxer-twin from the BMW Motorrad R1200 R sports bike, the 125 hp and 125 Nm liquid-cooled engine is mated to the swingarm and shaft from the R1200 GS. Omitted is the Telelever front suspension from the GS, with the front end being suspended by conventional forks.

    Gone is the humungous 33-liter tank from the GS, replaced instead with a slimmer 18-litre unit reminiscent of enduro style motorcycles. The biggest change is, of course, the weight, which drops from the GS Adventure’s 256 kg wet weight to a much more manoeuvrable sub-200 kg in the Rambler.

    Serving to further aid in the weight loss programme, the GS Rambler sports a single front disc brake. More weight is lost with the inclusion of a guard frame using “super-lightweight aluminium tubes and carbon-fibre”, along with a titanium exhaust system and lithium-ion battery.

    While still at prototype stage, according to Touratech the R1200 GS Rambler is “ready-to-go”, said Motorcycle News. It is also reported that the Rambler will come in two colour schemes – BMW Motorrad’s red, white and blue, as well as Touratech’s corporate colours of black, grey and yellow.

    No word on what this collaboration between BMW Motorrad and Touratech might cost, but we will assume, given the quality of products that come out of the Touratech factory, the R1200 GS Rambler will not be cheap. The 2016 BMW Motorrad R1200 GS retails for RM104,900, while the higher-spec R1200 GS Adventure goes for RM114,900. Prices include GST and registration, but exclude insurance.

    GALLERY: 2017 BMW Motorrad R1200 GS Rallye and Executive

  • Victory Motorcycles closing down, Polaris to focus on Indian and Slingshot – parts support for 10 years

    In a surprise announcement from owners Polaris Industries, Victory Motorcycles – represented in Malaysia by Naza – will immediately begin winding down operations. Victory will assist dealers in liquidating stocks, as well as providing warranty and spare parts support for the next 10 years.

    “This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris board of directors,” said Polaris chairman and CEO Scott Wine. “We have invested not only resources, but our hearts and souls, into forging the Victory Motorcycles brand, and we are exceptionally proud of what our team has accomplished.”

    The news comes at a time when the worldwide motorcycle market for premium bikes is facing soft sentiment, and Victory has struggled to establish itself as a global player, despite being established 18 years ago. Polaris, which also owns the Indian Motorcycle and Slingshot three-wheeler brands, intends to concentrate on those names instead.

    “This move allows us to optimise and align our resources behind both our premium, high performing Indian Motorcycle brand and our innovative Slingshot brand, enhancing our focus on accelerating the success of those brands,” said Wine. There was no word on arrangements for its international representatives.

    Such an announcement has taken the market by surprise, as Victory, last year, announced the launch of the Victory Octane, touted to be the most powerful and best-handling American cruiser, as well as the Empulse TT e-bike. Victory has had a presence in Malaysia since 2013.

  • 2017 Kawasaki road safety campaign launched

    In conjunction with the upcoming Chinese new year celebrations which take place at the end of January, Kawasaki has launched a road safety campaign. Designed to raise awareness amongst motorcyclists of the importance of being seen and riding safe, the campaign also saw free safety checks given to bikes owned by members of the public.

    Held at the south-bound lane of the Sungai Besi toll plaza, Selangor, the morning event was officiated by Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Transport, with Ahmad Faez Yahaya and Datuk Jeffery Lim, executive director and managing director of Kawasaki Motors respectively, and other digitaries in attendance.

    During the launch of the campaign, members of the public could bring their motorcycles into a service area for a free safety check by Kawasaki technicians. Additionally, KHI helmets were given out as replacements for those whose current helmet were beyond safe use.

    Free fluorescent yellow jackets were also given out by Tokio Marine, to allow riders to increase their visibility to other road users while riding. Liow lauded the initiative by the private sector, notably those in the motorcycle industry, to increase rider awareness and safety.

    “Despite many safety campaigns, the road death toll in Malaysia is still high,” said Liow. “Between 2010 and 2015, over 6,000 road deaths were recorded, with 60% involving motorcycles,” he said, “we need to build a culture of safety amongst motorcyclists.”

    Liow expressed fear that the death toll for 2016 would be higher, and could exceed 7,000 fatalities. He said the final figure would be pending submission of statistics from the police.

    During the recent “Ops Jalan”, held during the school holidays in December, Liow said 16,000 summons were issued for various traffic and vehicle offences. Liow advised motorists to check their vehicles and for motorcyclists to wear bright clothing during the upcoming celebrations.

  • Honda unveils Moto Riding Assist at CES Vegas show

    It is a known fact that motorcycles can’t stand upright on their own, needing the rider at all times when the stand is up and the bike is at rest. Recognising this, Honda has premiered its Riding Assist motorcycle, that reduces the possibility of falling over at zero forward speed.

    Shown during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, Honda’s Moto Riding Assist is part of its “Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem” that also includes the NeuV – new electric urban vehicle – automated vehicle concept. Technology for Riding Assist is derived from Honda’s UNI-CUB, a self-balancing personal mobility device.

    Eschewing the use of gyroscopes for balance – which add weight and complexity to a machine – Riding Assist lowers the angle of the front fork when the bike is moving at less than five km/h. A servo makes minute adjustments to the handlebars to ensure the bike always stays upright, with or without the rider.

    While it is doubtful that Riding Assist will make its way to the mainstream – part of the reason why motorcycles are motorcycles is the amount of rider involvement – such technology could play a part in the development of future robotics. In the meantime, watch the video below for the weirdness of a motorcycle following someone along like a puppy.