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  • Honda Monkey minibike ends after 50 iconic years

    As a motorcycle icon, the Honda Monkey has been around for over 50 years, and Honda has made a decision to pull the plug on its production. Citing increasing difficulty in making the Monkey meet emissions requirements, Honda Japan also said the declining Japanese domestic market for small capacity motorcycles, notably scooters, has made it uneconomical to continue production.

    Carrying a 49 cc, air-cooled, four-stroke, OHC single-cylinder thumper, the Monkey was designed for an amusement ride at the Tama Tech amusement park in Hino, Tokyo, which opened in 1961. The first road-legal Monkey was made available to the public in 1967, while the park itself closed in 2009.

    The Honda Monkey developed a worldwide cult following over its 50-year model life, and there is a sizeable Monkey community here in Malaysia. Production of the Monkey will end in August, and a 50th anniversary model with a Sunbeam White paintjob was launched last month to commemorate the end of the line.

  • 2017 Modenas Kriss MR2 photos teased before launch

    It appears Modenas’ intention to make a strong comeback to the Malaysian market is no idle boast. After the launch of the Modenas Karisma 125, the Elegan 250 and associate brand Kymco’s Downtown 250i, it has now teased photos of its upcoming underbone (kapchai) category model, the Modenas Kriss MR2 110, ahead of the official launch on April 6.

    With the “MR” in the new machine’s name standing for Motosikal Rakyat (People’s Motorcycle), the Kriss MR2 is intended for the lower end of the market, as utility transportation. While there are few details about the Modenas Kriss MR2, from the posted photos it looks like the new kapchai will follow standard styling practice.

    Of note is the front disc brake, a petal-type design popular amongst younger riders. Another design touch the the transfer of the turn signal from the handlebar pod, next to the headlight, to discrete housings on either side of the front cowl.

    This gives better separation for the turn signals, and greater visibility towards oncoming traffic. The rear-end of the Kriss MR2 is suspended by twin shock absorbers, no real surprise for a bike at this price point, while the front has standard looking telescopic forks.

    No other information was forthcoming from Modenas about the new Kriss MR2, but from the pictures, it appears as if three colour options are available – yellow, blue and red. The previous base model, the Modenas Kriss MR1, launched late in 2011, went for a price of RM2,948, and we assume the next generation model will not be that much different, possibly around the RM3,800 point.

  • 2017 Triumph Street Scrambler and Bobber now in Malaysia – priced at RM65,900 and RM74,900 plus GST

    Capitalising on the success of its “Modern Classics” range, launched last year, Triumph introduced two “custom” models, designed for two very different riding styles. Now in Malaysia, these are the 2017 Triumph Street Scrambler, at RM65,900, and the 2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber, priced at RM74,900.

    These two retro-styled machines join the recently released 2017 Triumph Street Cup, which hit the showroom in February, and retails at RM65,900. Joining the list for new releases in 2017 for the Modern Classic series of Triumph bikes are the T100 and T100 Dark, which go from RM63,900 for the Jet Black colour scheme to RM65,900 for the dual colour schemes.

    Based on the T120-series Modern Classic street bikes that entered the Malaysian market last year, the 2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber carries the same 1,200 cc mill as the T120. This liquid-cooled, eight-valve SOHC parallel-twin engine puts out a claimed 76 hp at 6,100 rpm and 106 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, fed by multipoint sequential EFI.

    Cut in the classic “bobber” style, the Bonneville Bobber is a single-rider affair, with a seat height of only 690 mm, and 228 kg dry weight. Braking uses a single disc front and rear, sized at 310 mm and 255 respectively, grabbed by Nissin callipers, with ABS standard equipment.

    Also standard is ride-by-wire and traction control, with road and rain riding modes. A Torque-Assist Clutch makes light work of clutch usage and the LCD multi-function instrument panel contains an analoque speedometer and digital readouts for all the necessary information, controlled by the switch on the left handlebar pod.

    Suspension on the Bobber is with standard telescopic forks with 90 mm of travel, while the rear end is propped up with a KYB monoshock, with a progressive linkage that gives 76.9 mm of swingarm movement. Tyre sizes, for that bobber hardtail look, is a 19-inch spoked wheel in front, and a 16-incher at the back.

    On the more action-oriented side of things is the 2017 Triumph Street Scrambler, an adjunct to the Triumph Street Cup. Taking its cue from Steve McQueen’s 1964 TR6 Trophy that he campaigned in the International Six Day Trials in the then East Germany, the Street Scrambler is an update of the sixties scrambler style.

    Using the same 900 cc, eight-valve, liquid-cooled SOHC power plant with 270-degree crank angle parallel-twin as the Street Cup, the Street Scrambler is claimed to have 55 hp at 6,000 rpm and 80 Nm of torque at 2,850. Fuelling is taken care of by multipoint sequential EFI, and a ride-by-wire throttle is standard.

    Weighing in at 206 kg dry, the Street Scrambler carries its exhaust pipes tucked high-and-tight on the right, in the traditional manner. Braking is with a 310 mm single disc in front, and a 255 mm disc at the back, with Nissin callipers.

    ABS is standard fitment on the Scrambler and can be switched on or off for off-road fun, where locking the rear wheel into turns increases the “whee!” factor. Also standard is traction control, and like the ABS, can be swtiched by the rider for riding and terrain conditions.

    The Street Scrambler’s seat height of 790 mm brings it into “normal” motorcycle territory, and ground clearance is adequate, with a bash plate to take care of the engine if the bike bottoms out. Suspension is by KYB, with a 120 mm travel telescopi fork in front, and twin pre-load adjustable shocks in the back with 120 mm of travel.

    Spoked wheels complete the Street Scrambler’s retro look, with a 19-inch hoop in front and a 17-incher in the rear. Fuel is carried in a 12-litre tank.

    There are five colour options for the 2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber – Black, Ironstone, Morello red, two-tone silver/red and silver/green. For the 2017 Triumph Street Scrambler, three colour schemes are on offer – Jet Black, Korosi Red/Frozen Silver and Matte Khaki Green.

    GALLERY: 2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber

    GALLERY: 2017 Triumph Street Scrambler

  • 2017 Benelli Malaysia range adds TRK 502 dual purpose, from RM30,621, and 302R sports at RM23,201

    Hot on the heels of the launch of the 2017 Benelli RFS150i supercub comes two additions to the Benelli Malaysia range, the dual-purpose styled middleweight touring TRK 502 and the small-displacement 302R sportsbike. The 2017 Benelli TRK 502 comes in three flavours – the base 502 at RM30,621, the 502 SP with hard case panniers at RM31,681 and the 502 SP2 at RM32,423 with the addition of a top box.

    Meanwhile, the full-fairing sports oriented 2017 Benelli 302R is set to go on sale at a price of RM23,201. All prices include GST, but exclude road tax, registration and insurance.

    The middleweight dual-purpose sports tourer TRK 502 comes with an all-new liquid-cooled, OHC, eight-valve, parallel-twin that displaces 500 cc, and is fed by fuel injection. Power is claimed to be 47 hp at 8,500 rpm and 45 Nm of torque at 5,000 rpm, with power getting to the ground via a six-speed gearbox.

    Designed to be a versatile all-rounder, the TRK 502 has a torque curve that is as flat as possible, meaning good engine response. An adjustable upside-down fork with 150 mm of travel props up the front end, while the rear gets a pre-load adjustable monoshock that travels through 45 mm.

    Braking for the TRK 502 is with twin 320 mm diameter discs in front, and a single 260 mm disc at the back, all grabbed by twin-piston floating callipers, and switchable ABS is standard. Dry weight is printed at 210 kg, and seat height is a reasonable 815 mm.

    Fuel for the TRK 502 is carried in a 20-litre tank, which will give it good travel range on the road. The three versions of the 2017 Benelli TRK 502 are identical, save for the addition of hard case panniers for the SP version, and the SP2 version gets an additional hard shell top box.

    There are three colour schemes available for the Benelli TRK 502 – white, grey and graphite black. Direct competitor to the TRK 502 is the Honda CB500X, with two models available, the standard CB500X at RM31,893 and the RM35,391 Honda CBR500XA with ABS.

    On the small-displacement sportsbike side of things is the 2017 Benelli 302R, that carries a 300 cc, DOHC, eight-valve, liquid-cooled parallel twin. Power for the 302R is rated at 37.5 hp at 10,000 rpm and torque is claimed to be 27.4 Nm at 9,000 rpm.

    Intended to be a lightweight sportsbike with good handling, the 302R comes with upside-down forks and a monoshock at the back, with 120 mm and 45 mm of travel, respectively. Twin 260 mm diameter brake discs, standard with ABS, handle the stopping, with a single 240 mm disc in the rear.

    The Benelli 302R comes with a 14-litre fuel tank, and dry weight is claimed to be 190 kg. Three colour options are on offer – white/red, black/red and silver/green. Locally, the 302R goes up against the Kawasaki Ninja 300, priced at approximately RM27,000.

  • 2017 Benelli RFS150i Malaysia launch – from RM7,407

    After switching Malaysian distributors from Benelli Keeway Malaysia to M-Force Malaysia – currently distributor of SYM scooters – Benelli has introduced the 2017 Benelli RFS150i supercub. Priced at RM7,407 for the base RFS150i and RM7,778 for the RFS150i SE (including GST), this is Benelli’s entry in to the 150 cc supercub segment.

    Popular in the region, especially locally and in Indonesia, the supercub category is currently dominated by the Yamaha Y15ZR and Honda RS150R. For the Benelli RFS150i, power comes from a liquid-cooled single cylinder 149 cc power plant that produces 15.5 hp at 8,500 rpm and 13 Nm of torque at 7,000 rpm.

    Unique to the RFS150i is a three-spark plug cylinder head configuration – called B3SP – that, in conjunction with the bike’s ECU and fuel-injection system, is designed to optimise fuel efficiency and produce optimum power, while reducing emissions. Power gets to the ground via a six-speed gearbox with wet clutch, as is typical in this class of machine.

    As “RFS” means “Riders For Speed” in Benelli terminology, the RFS150i comes with proper racing-style upside-down forks along with a monoshock rear-end. Braking is with hydraulic disc front and rear, with the front carrying a 240 mm petal brake disc, and a 220 mm diameter disc at the back.

    Fuel for the RFS150i is carried in a 4.8-litre tank under the seat, and dry weight is claimed to be 115 kg. Seat height is set at 787 mm, and top speed for this new supercub is claimed to be 100 km/h, but, from experience, we know that supercubs are somewhat faster than this.

    There are three colour options for the 2017 Benelli RFS150i – yellow, red and blue – while the RFS 150 SE comes in matte grey, with availability in local Benelli showrooms starts immediately. Competitors to the RFS150i in Malaysia are the Yamaha Y15ZR at RM8,210, and the Honda RS150R goes for RM8,213 for the standard model, and RM8,372 for the advanced in Repsol racing livery.

  • 2017 SYM Cruisym 300i shown at Gempaq Penang 2.0

    As the latest addition to the Malaysian maxi-scooter scene, the 2017 SYM Cruisym 300i aims to provide a value-for-money choice for riders needing a scooter that can handle longer journeys with a decent turn of speed. Shown at the Gempaq Penang 2.0 roadshow sponsored by SYM and PJ1 lubricants, the Cruisym 300i was on display at the Seberang Jaya Expo in Penang.

    Carrying a 278.3 cc single-cylinder SOHC air-cooled engine fed by EFI, the Cruisym 300i puts out a claimed 26.9 hp at 7,750 rpm and 27.3 Nm of torque at 6,750 rpm. Power gets to the ground with a centrifugal dry clutch and automatic CVT gearbox.

    Suspension on this Taiwanese scooter is with telescopic forks in front, and unit-swingarm in the rear, where the engine and gearbox is an integral piece of the swingarm. Braking is by hydraulic master cylinder for the front and rear, grabbing a 260 mm and 240 mm disc, respectively.

    LED lighting is used for the turn signals and brake lights, with twin halogen headlights in front. A possible option for the 300i is forward and rear cams which record road activity and can be viewed on the rider’s smartphone, though this is yet to be confirmed.

    The Cruisym weighs in at 198 kg wet, which makes it a touch hefty, although the scooter’s low center of gravity makes handling easy. There were two colours on display at the Gempaq 2.0 roadshow – white and red, and we were informed that there is a third colour option, grey.

    Pricing for the 2017 SYM Cruisym 300i has not been set as yet, pending government approval. Direct competitor to the Cruisym 300i is the Kawasaki J300, which retails at RM31,498.

  • BMW Motorrad launches R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid

    Leaping ahead in motorcycle technology is the BMW Motorrad R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid, the world’s first series-production all-wheel drive travel enduro with hybrid drive. Designed to conquer any sort of terrain, anywhere in the world, the R1200 GS xDrive Hybrid is based on the legendary R 1200 GS Adventure.

    What sets this particular GS apart is the air/liquid-cooled flat-twin that generates 125 hp at 7,750 rpm and a maximum torque of 125 Nm at 6,500 rpm with a unique all-wheel drive system that provides better traction on slippery road conditions, deep sand or mud. Derived from the system developed by BMW Automobiles, the XDrive Hybrid is also powered by a wheel-hub e-Drive system which functions both as an electric motor and generator, with the system activated by a switch on the left handlebar pod.

    Adding a further 45 hp, bringing the total power figure up to 170 hp, the R 1200 xDrive Hybrid uses a new generation of batteries, derived from BMW i-battery technology that stores the energy recuperated during braking. The test version of the new R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid covered countless thousands of kilometres in the toughest of riding conditions.

    The most extreme demands were placed on the bike last winter, when Reiner Scherbeck, the head of winter testing at BMW Motorrad, rode it to the North Cape on a first stage and from there across the frozen Barents Sea to the North Pole and back again. “We were absolutely amazed how problem-free and reliable the all-wheel drive worked even at minus 56 degrees. Thanks to our functional BMW rider equipment, the cold temperatures were no problem for the rider, too,” said Scherbeck.

    Special front section components have been developed for the R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid as well as high-speed suitable M+S all-season tyres, along with a selection of upgrades and accessories from the BMW Motorrad catalogue. Although no information on pricing or availability is available, for the first time BMW is offering a motorcycle that makes riding a motorcycle a pleasure at snow depths of 1.25 metres in high winter.

  • 2017 Isle of Man TT Zero e-bike race to feature Mugen Shinden Roku – McGuiness and Martin in the saddle

    After a three-race winning streak in the TT Zero Challenge electric bike race classification at the legendary Isle of Man TT (IoMTT), Mugen – racing partners to Honda – are back with the Mugen Shinden Roku e-racer for 2017. Racing as “Team Mugen”, the Shinden Roku will be piloted by multiple TT winners John McGuiness and Guy Martin.

    The Mugen Shinden Roku – “roku” meaning six in Japanese – carries an oil-cooled, three-phase, brushless-motor that has a maximum equivalent output of 163.2 PS and a maximum torque of 210 Nm. Batteries are laminate lithium-ion with an output voltage of 370 volts.

    Carrying its 248 kg weight – down from the Shinden Go’s 250 kg – in a carbon-fibre monocouque chassis, the Shinden Roku has evolved somewhat from the previous generation race machine, though details are scanty. Mugen’s corporate blog (in Japanese) made reference to a new inverter module and batteries, although battery capacity was not revealed.

    It can be assumed there will be enough charge to propel the Shinden Roku around the 60 km IoMTT course, with the magic number for the TT Zero class being an average speed of 193 km/h, or 120 mp/h, in TT-speak. In 2016, McGuiness, riding the Shinden Go, managed an average lap speed of 192 km/h or 119 mp/h, reports New Atlas.

    Team Mugen won the TT Zero races in 2014 and 2015 with McGuiness, while the 2016 race was taken by Bruce Antsey. The IoMTT kicks off on May 27.

  • Bangkok 2017: Honda shows 150 SS Racer concept

    In Thailand, the Honda MSX 125 mini-moto – known as the Grom in some markets – has proven popular with the younger set, especially the ladies. The land of smiles being what it is, this means a plethora of mods and customs abound on Bangkok city streets.

    For the 2017 Bangkok motor show, Honda Motorcycles Thailand showed the Honda 150 SS Racer, a mini-moto with big wheels based on an engine taken from the CBR150R. It’s hard to tell from this futuristic build, and no information was forthcoming if it was a concept motorcycle, or something destined for production.

    Taking a closer look at it, though, we feel this is more of a concept study. The sculpted fuel tank is somewhat reminiscent of the MSX 125’s unit, and the LCD instrument panel certainly looks if it come from the MSX.

    Fitted with Metzeler Racetec racing slicks mounted on solid-disc wheels with a carbon-fibre skin, the 150 SS Racer looks like it would fit in well on a movie set, perhaps like “Ghost in the Shell” which featured another Honda machine, the NM4 Vultus. Anodised blue accents litter the Honda 150 SS Racer, along with lots of shiny alloy, to complete that sci-fi style.

    A huge megaphone silencer graces the underside of the bike, and the chopped rear end brings to mind the abbreviated butt of the Kenstomoto MechaStallion. What appears to be a rear view camera tops of the rear seat cowl, and a front-facing cam mounted in the instrument panel cowl, with perhaps the feed being displayed on the LCD panel.

  • Ride impression: 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 and Z650

    Despite a softening motorcycle market in Malaysia, Kawasaki Motorcycles Malaysia has taken the bold step of introducing not one, but four new models for 2017. These are the Kawasaki Z900, the Versys X-250, and for the middleweight market, the Ninja 650 and Z650.

    The previous iteration of Kawasaki’s middleweights, the ER-6n and ER-6f, proved to be solid performers and best-sellers locally, due to the very attractive price and easy-to-ride performance. But, both models were showing their age, and the new Ninja 650 and Z650 are designed to fill that niche.

    At the face of it, it appears as if the new Ninja and Z are merely facelifted models of the previous parallel-twin engine, but this is not so. Coming with an all new engine, frame and swingarm, plus the addition of ABS, the 2017 Ninja 650 and Z650 are all-new models in Kawasaki’s line up.

    Biggest difference between the two new 650s from Kawasaki is of course the design. The Ninja 650 carries a full-fairing with design cues taken from the ZX-10R litre-class sports bike, while the Z650 is a naked sportsbike with Kawasaki’s “Sugomi” design style.

    During a media ride organised by Kawasaki Malaysia, we were given the opprtunity to take both machines out for a short run on a mix of country roads and highways, to see what improvements and changes were made to the new middleweights and what has been improved, or not, as the case may be.

    Read the full impression, here.