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Old 03-07-2009, 01:18 AM   #1
The CyberPoet
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Default Bike Week 2009 Report (CyberPoet)

This year was somewhat different than other years -- had a lot going on this week, primarily a combination of construction work at my place (motorcycle-specific parking slot build - http://katriders.com/vb/showthread.php?t=94099) and client work both on-site and at home overwhelming my schedule. That and the literally freezing weather forecast for Tuesday morning made us blow off the Tuesday plans...

Thursday was the back-up day for BikeWeek for us, and although the concrete pour for the slot was set for Thursday (originally was supposed to happen Monday!), I decided my other half was qualified to supervise it better than I was anyway, so Malloc and I planned on rolling out around 5:30 AM for BikeWeek (Daytona). Best laid plans of mice and men... we dawdled, got on the road by 6:20 or so, and had to do very high speeds clear across the state to get there at a semi-reasonable time (that state trooper with the Harley just looked up at us and shook his head -- if he hadn't still been walking back to the bike from already writing a ticket, I'm sure he would have gone code-blue after us -- or maybe he would have realized that he could only catch us with our co-operation [we always stop for the nice officers, but I know we were already doing his maximum speed]).

We managed to arrive by 7:35 or so, which this year (like most) was "late" by any definition. Straight to Aprilia's tent and into line to sign up for their test rides - 20 or so riders already in front of us. By the time we get halfway to the front, the announcement comes that they've already booked up all of the true "sports" bikes (RSV, etc.). By the time we're number 6 in line, one of their reps comes up and says they'll run out of bikes by the time they get to the guy in front of us and only have late-afternoon rides left. We stare at each other, shrug, then the guy ahead of us (from Poland) decides to bail because he has other plans for late afternoon. So that leaves two of us with one bike to ride
Then we find out that unlike the other outfits, Aprilia is charging $20 for the rides, but that by the same token, they are also not doing 5 to 12 mile rides; they are taking their people on a fifty mile ride, with a picnic at the park in the middle, Tshirts and hats after the ride. Definitely worth $20 in my mind, so I pony up, and Malloc (although qualified as a rider) signs on as a passenger for free. We figure we'll switch at the mid-point so we both get to ride. Scheduled ride for 3:30, last ride of the day for them.

We grab some coffee and a couple snacks at Aprilia's tent, then wander off looking for BMW, only to be told that they don't have a tent this year -- they are doing their rides out of the local dealership about 10 miles down the road. We continue in our quest...

Next stop: Can-Am and the three-wheelers. There's a big line, but they aren't going to "sell out" of rides any time soon, so we bail out of line (after Malloc gets the spittle off his chin from the hot marketing girls they hired in).
Kawasaki and all their non-cruisers are booked already - we get qualified and on the stand-by list, but we'll never end up actually riding one of their factory bikes this year. Not that I'm worried about it -- I rode in on the ZX-14 already

We wander over to the Ducati catering tent and I produce the keys to get us in, only to be told that they are switching to a registration or proof of insurance scheme as proof of ownership this year (to which I reply that I'd have to be an idiot as a German to bring my paperwork for my German-registered bike to the USA). They let us in and stamp us to the Ducatista elite. Breakfast is on...

They had their candy bowls out, and Malloc, ever the candy-man, had to grab and stuff his pockets full...



Stop at Suzuki and look at the Gladius.






Back at Can-Am and he's drooling over the girls some more. We get some pics taken, do the sign-in (did that computer just scan my driver's license barcode and pull up all my data in under 1 second? Yup. Scary that they have access to it that readily). Scheduled ride for 11:30.


Hit the Givi tent and talk to their reps. Wish I had brought the racks with me -- they would have installed them for me for free (oh well). Leave the bike with them to see if they need to do any mods in advance of the install (my instructions said something about trimming the undertail for the install). We wander off to check vendors...

Back at CanAm and we're screwing around. Funny thing is they have both the fully automatic and the fully manual versions of the CanAm Spyders there, and the automatics are booked 3-to-1 compared to the manuals. We go through a very extensive training with the unit, teaching us things like the fact that we have to push a dash button every start to clear an safety waiver, and that no matter how you lean, you'll go straight if you don't steer it. They also made us all take breathalizer tests -- first vendor I've ever seen do that. Small parking lot set up like a go-kart ring for a small proof-of -skill that you comprehend the combined brakes (only foot pedal), parking brake and the steering, then once you get past that, you're cleared for the road ride.
And now for the ride report:
Can-Am Spyder 990cc V-twin (manual) - it's a go-kart with a high seating position and motorcycle-like controls. It shares nothing else with a motorcycle. You lean because you're being flung away from it's turns, and it doesn't care about your leaning. Grip is good (car tires), but those tires take some hellacious beatings in the turns. Electronic super-everything means it clamps down on burn-outs, on lifting wheels in turns, on locking brakes, on anything that would make it lose traction. I had to put the back end into the grass on the side of the road to get it to slide around and rooster-tail (ha!). 1 down, four up is the shift pattern. Does have a reverse (on the manual, you pull a choke-like control to allow you to shift into reverse, which is one below first gear, locked out without the control). Huge trunk in front of the headlights...
The hot little Can-Am hired marketing girls (Jessica, Natasha) asked how we liked it afterwards -- then said we were the only ones all day to say we didn't actually like them. We were probably also the youngest riders on them...

I'm kicking myself in the butt about not getting an earlier start -- most years we get in five or more rides in the day, but today it looks like we're down to two (Aprilia, CanAm) and one wasn't even a bike! If I could have gotten Friday cleared on my schedule, I would have been back to make up for it -- wish I could have done Tuesday to begin with (far fewer visitors during the freezing morning, vendors complaining their sales have been dead all week).

More vendor visits, recover the bike from Givi, free RedBulls for Malloc at their pavilion, and some discussion with Kawasaki about their ROK (Riders of Kawasaki) club benefits. Plus a ton of calls from my other half about the concrete and the work, including news that the concrete truck actually broke on-site half-way through the pour Just my luck, eh? The crew shored it up as a half-slot pour with a cold-seam and will do the rest hopefully Saturday...

More in Part 2 (next Post).
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Old 03-07-2009, 02:09 AM   #2
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Because we couldn't score any rides by this point, we hit all the vendor tents, going east-ward out into cruiser-land... On the way, we come across an abandoned Information booth -- it's too funny to pass up without a photo-op.


Sure enough, I was there for less than 30 seconds before people started asking me questions

We wander onwards to the east, and Malloc becomes all crazy about the insurance girls (Allstate, Geico, Biker's Insurance) and it's killing him. Ok, the short-shorts and leather chaps on model-hot little young things would be enough to bring a rise to a corpse, but still it's always funny to watch him get tongue tied and try to screw his courage up (his custom tag on the bike says "NO GAME" and that's no lie in either sense).

Sham-WOW also had a booth... It was amusing in so many senses...

We rush back to Aprilia for the ride, only to be told there were two no-shows in the previous group who had signed up for RSV's (we could have had their best sport bikes AND gone twice!). They look at us like some sort of weird couple and decide it's just too sad to see two men cuddled up on one of their bikes, and poof, magically another bike becomes available for Malloc to ride. We agree to swap bikes at the half-way point...

RIDE REPORT #2: Aprilia Shiver

Everything a city-slicing or canyon carving "fun" bike ought to be. Torque-rich, lithe, light, even more maneuverable feeling than a ninja 500. Very short wheelbase, but reasonably good front wheel weight loading. Stiffer suspension than the Kat by far, makes it feel very crisp. Zero fairing protection, no windshield, and a seemingly miniscule dash set pretty much parallel with the ignition key. (if you hit something with the front wheel that stopped the bike, you're going to fly without hitting a screen or instruments or anything). Upright seating position that puts you in control, and really wide bars that give the steering massive leverage with seemingly no effort. Engine spins up nicely, power crisp from about 5k to somewhere between 9500 and 10k (oppps, is that the redline that I keep slamming into? Oh, that's what that red emergency warning triangle lighting up in the dash means). Riding out to the curvy roads at 60 to 90 mph (yes, that's the speeds we rode on the streets with the test ride group), it loved second and a little of third gear far better than putting it in top gear and letting the engine chug along. Broad, hard foam cushion of a seat that works far better than it has any right to. Even the bad road section going out of town that's plagued by massively uneven expansion joints it ate with good manners that shows how much attention they paid to the suspension (the sport bike riders in the group weren't nearly as good with this because of their leaned-over positions).
Did I love it? Yup. I think it would be far more fun to take this to the store or to dragon than the ZX-14 by far, although I don't think I'd be happy riding it over 100 miles in a day (no wind protection, and miniscule fuel tank). But it's also not a bike for suburban Florida -- it's a bike for some place with lots of corners and valleys and altitude changes, or for mincing inner-city traffic like a ginzu knife.
The Aprilia lead rider for the group also quipped that it was his favorite bike there, and that if I hadn't taken it, he would have. And if you didn't read it somewhere, you'd have zero clue that this bike was fly-by-wire -- the throttle feedback was instantaneous and felt "just right".

Mid-point, nice little park, some drinks & snacks, and turns out we're riding with David Eggers, whose work most of you have read at some point or other in some motorcycle magazine...

Malloc and I swap bikes for the rest of the ride...
RIDE REPORT #3: Aprilia Mana 850


Now I'd been wanting to try this thing since I saw the first write-up on it -- fully automatic with optional shifting, but no clutch. Tiny wind-carbuncle and a little more wind-protection than the shiver, but nothing to write home about in that sense. The built-in trunk where a gas tank normally goes was big enough to store some of the smaller helmets on the market, but not big enough for Malloc's Shoei or my XL Nolan N102. To unlock the trunk, turn the bike on and hit a button that's about where the passing light switch is on the 04+ Kats. Seating position is only slightly more forward than the Shiver, and the seat is just a hair smaller than the Shiver's.

This bike is fully 100% automatic, and we're talking CVT automatic at that. It's a weird feeling to get on the gas, have the engine spin up to max torque and just stay there, accelerating constantly the whole time.

It's got three pre-set modes that you can select from the right pod with your thumb:
1. Sport. This lets you ride at full-power, keep the RPM's up, and lets you manually shift on-demand between seven "theoretical" speeds either via the foot shifter or via the +/- buttons on the left control pod.
2. Touring Mode. This runs about 90% power of the Sport mode, but drops the rev's quite a bit to get more fuel-mileage.
3. Rain Mode. Knocks the bike down to 60% power of the Sport mode, and drops the revs to the lowest they can be for your speed.

The other weird thing is that if you rotate the throttle forward, the bike decelerates under engine braking, shedding speed just like any regular bike (and more so than many four-cylinder bikes because of the VTwin's nature). Malloc commented on it, and like the Shiver, the brakes went largely untouched simply because of the ability to slow so readily on closed throttle. Once at a speed under about 3 mph, the tranny cuts out all-together (true neutral), so you don't need to stay on the brake to hold it steady at a stop sign or stop light.

But the bike sucks. Why? Because the foot pegs vibrate like crazy, even though they're big and heavy and rubber-laden more than a 98+ Kat 750 foot peg (the left one vibrates even more than the right one). As the Aprilia rep quipped at one point, if you ride it for more than five minutes, you just give up on trying to shift -- you just pick your mode and let it do the work (but part of that is because the shift inputs shift it and then it starts to go back to where ever you were before the shift input on it's own over the next 30 seconds unless conditions change).
The acceleration is quite reasonable, but it's just devoid of the torque-personality that most bikes have -- regular bikes hit a peak torque somewhere with some peaks and lows, and you feel them "kick in"; this thing goes straight to peak torque and just locks in there. Great in theory, but not that wonderful in the butt-dyno-meter sense.

The only disagreement Malloc and I had on opinions of bikes this year were regarding the Shiver vs the Mana -- each of us thought the bike we rode first had the better handling. I definitely felt the Shiver handled much better than the Mana when pushed hard. Now, if I could just justify the cost of the Shiver as the GF's bike so I could sneak out on it as if it were my second bike all the time when she wasn't looking

Finally, after the ride, Malloc insisted we go back over to the insurance girls
While over there, we found a customizer that was doing some very unusual things... like converting a GoldWing into a four-wheeler:



And turning a ZX-14 into a side-car hauling zipper:



Cost was way beyond the pale, but the ZX was cool... great way to haul around 3 insurance company models on your bike at the same time

Cheers,
=-= The CyberPoet

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Old 03-07-2009, 07:45 AM   #3
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Cost was way beyond the pale, but the ZX was cool... great way to haul around 3 insurance company models on your bike at the same time

That had to be the girls with the half shirts and chaps, yes very nice.
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Old 03-07-2009, 07:55 AM   #4
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I would have loved to take that Aprilia for a ride. SOunds like yall had a great time!!!
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Old 03-07-2009, 08:11 AM   #5
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man great write up keep them coming !i have to get to bike week next year for sure !!!!!!
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Old 03-07-2009, 08:21 AM   #6
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Thanx Marc , Now where are the pics of these beauties and I dont mean the bikes Haha
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Old 03-07-2009, 11:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waveman View Post
Thanx Marc , Now where are the pics of these beauties and I dont mean the bikes Haha
They're on Malloc's camera, so I need to get them from him

Cheers,
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Old 03-07-2009, 11:48 AM   #8
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thanks for the great write up bro! you need to be working for a bike mag!
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:20 PM   #9
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I need to get down there some time for Bike Week.

The ZX-14 sidecar... a guy here in the area has one like that, he paid like $20k to get his bike setup with the side car. His wife has a disability and could no longer ride on the back with him, so he bought that for her. It is pretty wild looking and the bike still hauls serious butt. You should see him take off on that thing, pretty cool.
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Old 03-07-2009, 02:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zepp View Post
I need to get down there some time for Bike Week.
You're welcome to crash on the couch and ride over with us any year you want... Or we could *gasp* actually take a car if you fly in and we don't have a spare bike around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zepp View Post
The ZX-14 sidecar... a guy here in the area has one like that, he paid like $20k to get his bike setup with the side car...
When we talking with the vendor for that side car, he said the cheapest side-car option they sell as a kit was about $4k, the one shown with the ZX was $7800, and the full conversion they did for the one in the pic was $21k not including the bike (if you look at the pics, you'll see aftermarket wheels with car-like tires, single-sided front swing-arm assembly, HID's integrated into the sidecar, etc...).

Cheers,
=-= The CyberPoet

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