Thursday, 31 October 2013

2014 Range Rover Sport SDV6 India first drive

It might have Sport in its name, but the new Range Rover Sport, isn’t exactly sporty. It is sportier than the larger, plusher and more expensive Range Rover, yes, but that’s not really saying much. The Sport’s handling isn’t sharp; it has enormous body roll around bends; and its steering, though light and precise, offers no real feedback.
RR Sport 8
The RR Sport SDV6
What we did like then, was the new Sport’s ride quality, its off-roading ability and its lovely engines – the V8 petrol in particular, which pulls this two tonne plus SUV to 100kmph in 5.4 seconds.
The Range Rover Sport that we drove in India has a V6 diesel engine
What we are driving here in India though, is the diesel. The V6 makes 292PS and 600Nm of torque and comes with a claimed 0-100kmph time of a little over seven seconds. So, the SDV6 isn’t slow either and it too is mated to an 8-speed automatic that comes with steering mounted paddle shifters like the petrol.
RR Sport 6
The V6 makes 292PS and 600Nm of torque and comes with a claimed 0-100kmph time of a little over seven seconds
However, the SDV6 doesn’t get the Terrain Response 2 system as standard unlike the V8 petrol. And it is this system which is one of primary reasons for the V8′s brilliant off-roading ability. The base Range Rover Sport in India has to make do with a Torsen central differential. And it also doesn’t get low range. This mars the Sport of some of its off-roading ability especially in slippery conditions.
RR Sport 7
The base Range Rover Sport in India has to make do with a Torsen central differential
We tried out the SUV at 19 Degree North at Amby Valley near Lonavla which has a challenging off-road track. We won’t term it the toughest off-road track we have been to, but it is challenging enough. It has rocks, slush, water wading and some slippery inclines. And the SDV6 Sport did manage to plough through, but not with utmost ease.
RR Sport 3
The SDV6 Sport did manage to plough through the off-road track, but not with utmost ease
Firstly, a lot branches and rocks had to realigned for making things less difficult for the Sport, as for protecting its expensive paint and under carriage. This base SDV6 does cost Rs 1.09 crore, after all. But even then there were places where the Torsen system had its work cut out. We had to constantly steer left and right to take the least challenging route and had to build momentum to get across a few inclines because crawling speeds only resulted in spinning wheels and no real progress. The SUV’s width proved to be an issue at a few places too.
RR Sport 5
The SDV6 doesn’t get the Terrain Response 2 system as standard unlike in the V8 petrol which is one of primary reasons for the latter’s brilliant off-roading ability.
On the road, the Sport felt composed and quiet; comfortable and luxurious. The visibility upfront wasn’t bad either and because it has light controls, it wasn’t as tedious to drive as we’d imagined; or to manoeuvre and park for that matter, helped of course by the numerous cameras it has all round.
Inside, it is well-equipped. And even though it doesn’t feel as upmarket as the Range Rover, there’s plenty of thick leather all round for seats, dashboard, doors and even on controls like the gear shifter, which give the insides of the Sport a warm ambience. It’s also a clean interior even though it comes with a long list of bells and whistles.
RR Sport 2
There’s plenty of thick leather all round for seats, dashboard, doors and even on controls 
Space all round is good too – head or shoulder room, leg or knee room, there’s plenty of it at the front and the rear. The Sport is sold with seven seats internationally, but in India, we only get five. The seven seater version is planned but when it arrives, it will come without a spare wheel for there just isn’t enough place in the boot to hold the electrically foldable last row seats as well as a spare wheel.
RR Sport 4
If you are looking at being driven around in luxury and style but don’t have the money to afford the Range Rover, the Sport SDV6 would be a good SUV to settle for
So, what do we think about the entry-level diesel Range Rover Sport in the Indian context? We feel if you are looking at being driven around in luxury and style but don’t have the money to afford the Range Rover, the Sport SDV6 would be a good SUV to settle for. It’s also a good upgrade from the existing Range Rover Sport. But, it still isn’t as sorted dynamically as the Porsche Cayenne, and though it can off-road, I personally won’t be too adventurous with it, not after a light rub between a branch and the Sport’s door left me cringing like nails against a blackboard. The cheapest Sport does cost Rs 1.09 crore, after all.

Forza Motorsport 5 limited edition Paddock pack launched

Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport has released a limited Paddock Edition for the fifth and latest part of the series, FM5, at $120.
The Audi R8
The Audi R8
The Paddock Edition includes a Forza Motorsport hoodie, a stainless steel water bottle, stem caps, a key chain and Spy Optics’ bomb-proof sunglasses. It does not include a copy of the game though. However, f0r an extra $80, gamers can get a limited edition copy of the game as well.

Watch the release video:

The Limited Edition of the game will also contain the Day One car pack, a Limited Edition car pack, a VIP membership, car tokens, a steelbook case, and a decal sheet.
The Paddock Edition does not include a copy of the game
The Paddock Edition does not include a copy of the game
Turn 10 Studios, the developers of the game, have also announced 22 new cars for FM5. These include names like 1993 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec, 1997 Mazda RX-7, 2011 Audi RS 5 Coupé, 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, 1992 Volkswagen Golf Gti 16v Mk2, 1984 Ferrari GTO and 1961 Jaguar E-type S1.
The MINI Cooper
The MINI Cooper
With an exhaustive list of over 100 cars, Forza Motorsport is a widely popular game series. The Paddock Edition of the game is limited to 3,000 units. Each Paddock Pack is individually numbered, is now available for pre-order on the Forza online store but is only available to ship to Canada and the US.
Here’s a trailer of Forza Motorsport 5 update featuring a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta lapping the legendary, and already announced, Spa-Francorchamps Grand Prix circuit.

Meet the carbon fibre Rolls-Royce Phantom RR releases 'Goodwood Edition' Phantom coupe. With carbon fibre and painted wheels. Is this sacrilege?

WARNING: the following images of the latest Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe may contain sacrilege. This is the 'Goodwood edition' Phant, the latest offering from the company's bespoke department built to celebrate the spirit of Rolls' local circuit.

That means that the woodgrain loveliness you'd usually find inside has been replace with carbon fibre, the seats have chequered flags stitched on them, and there's a metal plaque featuring the layout of the Goodwood circuit in the glove box. Oh, and for the first time on a modern Roller, it's got painted wheels that match the coachwork. The 6.75-litre V12 engine's remains untouched, the Phant heaving itself from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds.

This, er, thing was created by a Rolls-Royce brand manager in Dubai called Mohammed El-Arishy. He says: "I wanted to create a motor car that captures the unique atmosphere and history of the Goodwood motor circuit. Rolls-Royce's connection to such an important centre of British motoring heritage is something that fascinates my customers." 

Fascinating indeed. And a white-hot slice of sacrilege for the old Rolls guard. Carbon fibre and painted wheels: can you come up with a more irreverent spec for a Phantom Coupe? Alcantara and a roll cage?

New BMW M3 saloon: is this you? Intrepid biker captures footage of upcoming 430bhp super-saloon. Doing a three-point turn!

The upcoming BMW M3 saloon has been captured on helmet-cam during what looks like a filming session for a promo video.

How do we know it's the M3? Well, the blue car in the video has four doors, a body kit, M-Sport alloys and those famous quad exhaust pipes at the back. Plus, if you listen very carefully, doesn't it sound very much like the faint burble of that turbocharged straight-sixer as it pulls away?

So what do we know about BMW's next super-saloon? Well, it'll be badged M3 in saloon form only, as BMW has now turned the M3 Coupe into the M4 Coupe. Both will feature a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-pot engine producing 430bhp and peak torque in excess of 369lb ft. Despite the drop in displacement, that torque figure trumps that of the outgoing M3's 4.0-litre V8 by some margin. Thank the turbo for that.

Both M3 and M4 shall mercifully be offered with a standard six-speed manual gearbox - with the double-clutch DCT auto ‘box as an option, of course - together with an active M differential and much carbon fibre reinforced plastic. The boot, roof, prop shaft and strut brace are all made of CFRP. As a result, BMW claims the new M3 and M4 will both weigh in at around 1500kg, around 80kg less than the outgoing car.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Exclusive: First Indian to ride the new all-American Indian Chieftain

We do deal in used motorcycles, but we have also seen a rise in Harleys coming in for trade-ins since Indian showed the Chief in Sturgis,” says Sam Kiley of Indian Motorcycles of New Jersey. In the middle of the showroom floor sits an Indian Chieftain waiting for me to get on and become the first Indian to ride the new Indian.
indianchieftain (16)
For me, this completes a full circle. Ages ago, I was privileged enough to swing a leg over a genuine Indian Chief from way back when and ride around for a short while. It took me a while to get used to the unsprung throttle (on the left hand), ignition advance/retard where the throttle usually now goes, a hand shifter and a six-position foot clutch. But once I got going, the old Chief was impressive. It was smooth, torquey, even regal, and in that sense, the name really fitted it perfectly.
indianchieftain (74)
And now, I’ve an all-new Chief to ride, one that is as modern as humanly possible but without being completely at odds with its history at the same time. That is quite an achievement.
The story goes that when Polaris acquired the Indian Motorcycle Company, they had the Powerplus engine-powered Chief in the kitty. But they were also at the time thinking about a new product. The famous Scout did come up, but it quickly became clear that the Chief was the model that had to lead the resurrection. And, that it wasn’t as much the famous valenced-fenders as it was the distinctive look of the engine that would determine the Chief’s identity and its link with the present as well with its complicated past.
indianchieftain (41)
Meanwhile, Sam was trying to gain my attention. He quickly ran me through the bike’s features. A central ignition button (like a computer’s but way larger) starts up the electronics once the key fob is in range. “I’m just going to leave the fob in the pannier, ok? You’re probably not going to need it at all.” In the real world this means that your keys remain zipped safely in a pocket in your riding gear and there isn’t any need to actually use it on the motorcycle.
indianchieftain (39)
Below that is a rocker switch that works the locks on the two quickly removable, well-made, spacious panniers. The Classic, the next lower model, gets similarly quick-release panniers in soft leather ‑ no remote locks, obviously. The left handlebar switch set (yay, normal indicator switches!) has a second set of switches underneath that work the MFD screen placed between the two circular meters and has a “power window” style switch that lowers and raises the screen. On the right grip is the usual high/low beam switch, the engine kill switch and ignition.
indianchieftain (74)
I start up the bike outside and it settles into a lovely, throaty idle. The tyre pressure monitor (yes) reports that both tyres are good to go. I quickly slip into my kit and settle into that soft leather saddle. I was told that Indian has managed to use this genuine leather that is ultra-soft to the touch, and it’s spot on. Over the next three hours, the saddle would never make itself noticed, which is a huge compliment to how comfortable the Chief is.
Hefting the bike off the sidestand reveals that this isn’t a slight motorcycle in the least. Big-boned and generously proportioned, the Indian Chief is a full-size cruiser. But once the weight is on its wheels, most of it seems to vanish, especially once you get rolling.
indianchieftain (22)
Usually, a big wide-barred cruiser requires a five-minute adjustment, while you get used to the steering. But the Chief is all-natural. I was surprised at how confidently I executed the U-turn in the showroom parking lot before heading out into a busy stream of traffic.
indianchieftain (42) copy
Then comes my first whoa moment. The road ahead is very busy and in the US you are required to yield to moving traffic ‑ sit and wait till a gap appears. In my case, a car slows to stop as soon as I roll up to the stop line. The chap inside has a mile-wide smile, two thumbs up. Completely unaware that he’s holding up traffic, perhaps for miles, he waits for me to roll forward and join traffic.
I can understand that reaction. For the Chief is spectacular to look at. The valenced fenders give it a distinct identity and there is something about the shape and profile of the tank that tell everyone that this is an Indian and not a Harley. Plus, of course, there is a famous Indian headdress logo on my dark blue tank as well as an illuminated “war bonnet” (the official name of the Indian head adornment on the front fender). All this is well-made, exquisitely finished and wonderful to look at.
indianchieftain (129)
Plus the Chieftain, the top model, gets this huge “batwing” fairing, which houses the adjustable screen, audio system, most of the electronics and more. Again, Indian spent a long time ensuring that the weight of the batwing and all it hosts doesn’t make the Chief too much of an effort to steer. If the U-turn is any indication, their engineering has borne sweet, juicy fruit.
indianchieftain (73)
Coming off the busy highway, I turn off onto a smaller road that is supposed to lead, appropriately enough, onto an old Indian reservation. Had the road not been blocked a few miles on, I’d have become the first Indian to ride an Indian Chief on an Indian reservation. Oh Chris Columbus, what a story your error in naming the natives would have led to today.
But I end up on a windy street, a deserted road that borders the Galloping Hill Park and Golf Course. Honest, I’m not making any of this up.
indianchieftain (20)
The Chief is proving to be really, really impressive. The 161.6Nm, 1811cc V-twin, I swear, burns petrol but runs on silk. When you open the throttle, the sound is melodious, and at once, very, very distinctly different from a Harley. Once you hear it, you’ll never mistake the Chief’s note for anything else. Even on full-throttle acceleration, the Chief feels pretty fierce for a cruiser, gets louder and more urgent, and, strangely enough, retains that smooth, silky sensation. It isn’t like it is vibe-free like a Goldwing, but the vibration in the bars and footboards feel wonderful rather than annoying or extant. I’ve never ridden a cruiser that felt this sort of smooth. Absolutely lovely. Or for that matter, that felt this sort of urgent. Which is the cherry on top of the absolutely lovely.
You can sense how much attention has been paid to the development of Chief in every aspect of it. I did have to go through some pretty ragged roads on my ride, and the Chief absorbs it with that heavy-handed sensation just like any cruiser I’ve ridden. But what it retains is a sense of comfort unlike anything else. It’s quite a feat. Then you notice that the top model, the Chieftain, also gets more rear suspension travel as well as pneumatic pre-load adjustment for a plusher ride than its two sister models.
indianchieftain (31)
But the other star of the show, engine apart, is the handling. The Chief uses a modern, aluminium frame, which even has pass-through ducting for the airbox. The development stories that followed the reveal of the Thunderstroke 111 engine were full of how carefully the Chief has been developed. In there were nuggets like the included lights (on the Classic ‑ the base model) were included so that Indian could control the placement of their weight. To enhance the steering feel. To ensure the Chieftain does the business, it gets sharper steering geometry than its two siblings as well as a shorter wheelbase ‑ that last bit via a negative fork offset.
That kind of focus creates a stunningly capable handling platform. Yes, I am still talking about an eight-foot long motorcycle with a wheelbase the length of a minor district road. You see the hints of the capability in things like the narrow footboards. They are comfortable, but not wide. As Sam said later, “And that’s why the Indian can be cornered way, way harder than the nearest Harley competitor.”
This is true. The Chief is happy to be laid over into corners and for a cruiser it actually turns quite quickly. That sense of a hefty motorcycle leaning gracefully over into corners is replaced by the feel of a large motorcycle that is incredibly light on its feet and able to take lean angles on with great feel and speed. In the middle of the corner, leaned all the way over, hard stuff is harder to scrape than it looks and the silky power from the engine allows dramatically quick corners exits.
indianchieftain (34)
The Chief would be as happy thrumming down the relatively straight Route 66 as it would be flung rapid and hard down the famous Deal’s Gap. Let us be honest, the Route 66 loveliness I was expecting, the ability to take on the Deal’s Gap and come out the other side smiling and shining, I wasn’t.
An American cruiser doesn’t really need to be this good. If it can hold its own in a bar parking lot, hold a good 80mph (130kmph) or so down the highway the whole day it has already handled 99 per cent of its work load. In this sense, the cruiser is neither a complicated motorcycle to make nor does it have a performance envelope that requires significant engineering work.
indianchieftain (39)
But it is as if the people at Indian simply don’t know this. They’ve managed to go and make a cruiser that will do both the profiling (Americanism for thundering slowly down Main Street) and the open road. But with a genuine performance envelope that extends beyond the glory shots in the ads. What makes this truly epic is that all this happened in just 27 months, which is a tremendous development schedule by any standard for a ground-up, all-new motorcycle.
Or maybe the chaps at Indian understand more about the brand that we know. Because Indians weren’t just great cruising motorcycles. They have a performance history too and were among the most innovative brands in motorcycle history in their heyday. And the Chief knows it.
OVERDRIVE broke the story that the new Indian Chief was on its way to India, and it is perhaps appropriate that we are now the first magazine to ride the bike. What we know is that Polaris India is set to expand into the motorcycle space next year and the Indian Chief will lead the charge. Victory motorcycles will follow, as will subsequent Indian motorcycles.
Indian has always competed with Harleys, including the phase in the ’20s when it was the world’s biggest motorcycle maker. HD took over post the World War when Indian fell on hard times. Since then, Harley has dominated the cruiser space and no one, so far, has made any serious headway in that space. I think the Chief is the motorcycle that could change that.

Bentley makes motorsport return

Few can forget those fast flying Bentleys that took to the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2003. With Tom Kristensen behind the wheel, the Bentley Speed 8 proved to be unstoppable. The Speed 8 decimated the opposition, gave Kristensen his fifth Le Mans win, and took home the silver for Bentley as well. Now, a full ten years after that dominant win, Bentley is finally making a full-fledged return to motorsport, and this time with their fabulous and fast Continental 1
On the 13th of December, 2013, the Bentley Continental GT3 will take to the Yas Marina circuit, for the 2013 Gulf 12 Hours for a two-part endurance race. Now, the Continental GT3 first made its debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier this year, but the 12 Hours of Abu Dhabi will mark its first competitive outing.
bentley 2
Just how is the Continental GT3 different from your average road-going Continental, you ask? Well, the GT3 sees Bentley Motorsports join hands with M-Sport to develop this car for racing. The car will be run by M-Sport and in 2014, Team M-Sport Bentley will compete in the entire Blancpain Endurance Series. That’s not all, of course. What the Continental GT3 has under the hood is a race-prepped and dry-sump version of the 4.0-litre V8 engine that features in the road car, only it makes 600PS in unrestricted race setup. The engine has been repositioned to the rear of the engine bay, with a Cosworth engine management system put in place as well. The rear-wheel drive car has a six-speed sequential gearbox, racing clutch and steering mounted paddle shifts. Add to this an FIA-spec roll cage, Sparco six-point safety harness, onboard fire extinguisher and an FIA-spec racing fuel cell and you’re good to go. Of course, the Continental GT3 also comes with ABS and traction control.
bentley 3
But there’s that touch of Bentley luxury that can’t be missed out on, even if this here is a racecar. The GT3 has a carbon racing seat, leather door-pulls and a steering wheel that has been handcrafted by the artists at Bentley’s Crewe facility. What we know is that we can’t wait to watch this one in action. Now to wait and see who the drivers are!

New 2013 Toyota Innova diesel launched, priced at Rs 12.45 lakh

Toyota has announced prices of the facelifted Innova diesel in India. There are five diesel variants on offer with a new Z trim added to the line-up, with the lowest trim starting from Rs 12.45 lakh, ex-Delhi. The top end Z trim is priced at Rs 15.06 lakh, ex-Delhi.
2013 Toyota Innova in India
2013 Toyota Innova Z trim at our first drive
Innova Z trim
The top-end Z trim can be distinguished from the others by its body graphics, side mouldings, a rear spoiler and a muffler cutter finished in chrome
The new Innova gets a redesigned and wider grille and chrome lined fog lamps. There is also a chrome strip at the tail gate that the Innova calls ‘The Dazzling Chrome Back Door’.
The top-end Z trim can be distinguished from the others by its body graphics, side mouldings, a rear spoiler and a muffler cutter finished in chrome. Inside, the same Z gets wooden inserts. The gear lever knob is also wood-finished and so is the dashboard. The upholstery is dual tone with leather seats. Toyota is offering twin airbags and ABS on the top-end variant.
Engine-wise, the Innova remains the same and persists with the 102PS 2.5-litre D4D engine and a 5-speed manual transmission.
Speaking on this occasion, Sandeep Singh, DMD & COO, Toyota Kirloskar Motor said, “The Innova has been an undisputed market leader in its segment and has carved a niche for itself over the years. The Innova being our flagship brand is one of the most successful products that Toyota has to offer to the Indian market. Be it for a family, corporate or the fleet segment, the Innova is sought after by all due to its high standards of dependability and the promise of Toyota’s QDR.
Designed to offer exclusivity, the new Innova is further heightened by luxurious styling in combination with sporty looks and is aimed at providing more comfort, style and prestige that enhances its versatile nature, practicality and luxurious image. We are extremely delighted to introduce this new offering to our customer during this auspicious festive season”.
Toyota Innova variants
Price, ex-Delhi
2.5 GX 7 seaterRs 12.4 lakh
2.5 GX 8 seaterRs 12.5 lakh
2.5 VX 7 seaterRs 14.5 lakh
2.5 VX 8 seaterRs 14.5 lakh
2.5 Z 7 seaterRs 15.0 lakh

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

After an age of KTM and Jeremy McWilliams teasing us with the prototype 1290 Super Duke R, the production version of ‘The Beast’ has broken cover today. Of course, it was never going to be as rowdy as the prototype due to emission laws and other jurisdictions, so the open pipes, supermoto wheels and gas-charged forks have made way for everyday items. And the dreaded number plate hanger has made an appearance.
Packing big horsepower, a tight chassis, and being a KTM, it’s going to be absolutely bonkers. So far, we know it has an explosive 1290cc RC8-derived motor kicking out 180bhp, controlled by ride-by-wire and traction control. The single-sided swingarm and WP suspension support the steel-trellis frame, and the 1290 will be stopped by Brembo M50 Monoblocs and a Bosch ABS system.
More of KTM's awesome bikes and cars:

FrameChromium-Molybdenum-Steel trellis frame, powder coated
HandlebarAluminium, konifiziert Ø 28/22 mm
Front suspensionWP-USD Ø 48 mm
Rear suspensionWP-Monoshock
Front brake2 x Brembo four piston, radially bolted caliper, brake disc Ø 320 mm
Rear brakeBrembo fixed mounted two-piston brake calipers
Brake systemBosch 9ME Combined-ABS
ChainX-Ring 5/8 x 5/16″
Steering head angle65,1°
Wheel base1.482 ± 12 mm
Ground clearance140 mm
Seat height835 mm
Tank capacity18 l Unleaded premium fuel (95 RON)
Weight without fuel189 kg
Engine type2-cylinder, 4-stroke, V 75°
Displacement1.301 ccm
Bore/stroke108/71 mm
Power132 kW (180 HP) at 8.870 rounds/min
Starting aidElectric starter/12V 11.2Ah
Transmission6 gears
Engine lubricationPressure lubrication with 3 Eaton pumps
Cooling systemLiquid cooling
ClutchPASC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated
Engine management/ignitionKeihin EMS with DBW, double ignition

2014 Harley-Davidson Street Glide first ride

Harley-Davidson has just updated its entire touring range of motorcycles with a host of well thought out and designed features as part of an initiative called Project Rushmore. We had a chance to experience this first hand with a 300km ride on the 2014 Street Glide in Malayasia. The Street Glide will be the first ‘Rushmore’ bike to hit Indian showrooms later this year. But before I take you through the lush green countryside of Malaysia let’s first look at what Project Rushmore is and the changes it has brought about.
The Street Glide will be the first ‘Rushmore’ bike to hit Indian showrooms later this year.
According to Harley-Davidson, Project Rushmore is a new approach for the Milwaukee company to designing and building motorcycles. It aims at a more customer-focused approach by spending more time with existing customers and allowing their feedback to influence the design process. It also focuses on an accelerated development time so that the company can react faster to customer’s inputs. The project targeted four areas of improvement on their existing range of motorcycles – control, infotainment, feel and style.
Out on the highway the Harley-Davidson is one comfortable motorcycle.
For a better riding experience, the changes in the 2014 Street Glide come in the form of new larger 49mm forks, Reflex linked brakes that improve control and stopping, and dual halogen headlamps for better light during night riding.
For the infotainment system, Harley-Davidson have kitted out the Glide with a new state of the art Boom! Box 4.3 system with colour screen and Bluetooth connectivity.
Feel is taken care of by the new aerodynamic ‘Batwing’ front fairing that now features a slipstream venting system that aims to reduce buffeting at speed while the seats have been updated for rider and pillion comfort. The passenger foot pegs and panniers have also been re-positioned to give the pillion more leg room.
The controls have also been re-designed and the new fit and finish of the hand controls is a big improvement.

More Harley bikes:

Air vent aims to reduce buffeting at high speed. Button on the left closes vents to prevent water coming in when it rains.
The styling may only have been mildly tweaked visually but more has changed under the glossy paintwork and chrome. The panniers now offer more space while the locking system has been improved to a single lever latch that now allows one hand operation of the lid, something that was a fiddly affair, requiring both hands. And that is it, a number of changes that all aim to make a better motorcycle but as they say the proof is in the pudding so let’s get cracking.
The new latch system on the panniers now allows you to get at your stuff with just one hand.
At a leisurely 8:00am we headed out for a coffee shop for the first stop for the day. Pulling out of the parking lot we were greeted with empty roads and just a few clouds in the sky so no chance of rain. Perfect weather then and the route we would be taking would be nice too. A healthy mix of city roads, highways and twisty mountain bits sounded like just what the doctor ordered.
All ready to head out and hit the highway.
The 25km ride to the coffee shop was a good time to get to terms with the 367kg Street Glide and, truth be told, there is nothing much to overcome except for some common misconceptions. Despite how the weight sounds on paper, as soon as you let out the clutch it all but disappears. Then there was the novel experience of listening to music while blasting down the road. The music plays clearly through the large 5.2in speakers, even audible through a full face helmet, and you can also hear car horns and any other ambient sounds too so it’s safe as well. The system is well designed with a control system that is pretty intuitive so much so that in no time I was switching tracks and adjusting the volume without taking my eyes off the road.
Stocking up on some water at the Coffee shop.
At the coffee shop we stretched our legs and discussed some of the new changes that have gone on with the Street Glide like the new 103 engine. This 1690cc engine makes 142Nm of Torque at 3250rpm (up from 135Nm) with the new twin cam system and integrated oil cooler. There is also a new twin cooling version of the 103 that will burn rubber in the Electra and Ultra Glide. This engine will be liquid cooled around the head and areas around the exhaust port allowing the engine to run cooler while also allowing a slightly higher compression and releasing one more Newton meter of torque from the engine. The whole cooling system is well integrated into the design and it’s barely noticeable until you get up close to the motorcycle.
Air-cooled Twin Cam 103 (1690cc) engine with Integrated oil-cooling system makes 142Nm of torque at 3250rpm.
After coffee we headed back out on the highway for some nice high speed cruising and we were able to put to test the cruse control function. The system in practice should be really easy with a control button on the left handlebar. Push to activate and then nudge up or down on the same knob to either increase or decrease the desired speed. There is an indicator on the speedometer that shows the system has been activated but no digital display showing what speed the system is set to. So knowing what speed you have set for cruising is guess work and it is a bit confusing to operate. When I was finally able to activate it, it did allow stress free highway riding but I really don’t know how often I would use this in the real world.
The Street Glide is at home cruising down the highway. The speakers sound best at half volume with just the soft burble of the V-twin playing the background track.
Once at speed, I also had a chance to test the new ‘Batwing’ front fairing. The new air vent design is meant to reduce buffeting while there is the option of closing the vent with a small switch on the dashboard to keep water from entering the fairing in case of rain. Closing the vent did produce a tad bit more buffeting at speeds above 120kmph but up till then the difference was negligible. It does add to the aesthetics though, making for a striking front end.
There is some fun to be had with a Harley-Davidson around corners.
After the highway blast we headed on up into the hills for some corner carving and while that may sound funny when the motorcycles in question is a 367 kilo Harley-Davidsons, I was pleasantly surprised again. The new 2014 motorcycles have better ground clearance (135mm) that allows for some quick cornering. So while the ground clearance is in no way sporty it does allow for some brisk riding, just enough to keep you interested. It doesn’t take too much to start to grind bits though so the best thing to do is pick a nice high gear and choose a smooth line through corners, riding the endless supply of torque from the lazy v-twin through the hills.
Taking a smooth line through the corners is the key to not grinding chrome bits on the tarmac.
The new 49mm forks are stiffer and indeed the bikes were very stable in the corners but I honestly couldn’t comment on if there were any better than the out going model. That would need to wait for a proper test and possibly a chance to compare the old model back to back. The brakes have also been uprated to the new Reflex Linked Brakes system. This is a clever system that only links the brakes when speeds cross 35kmph allowing them to work independently during slow speed manoeuvring. Once they do link up the balance between rear and front brake force is speed sensitive so as speeds increase the balance changes for more stable braking at high speeds. This system works in conjunction with the ABS to make a very stable motorcycle. On the ride there was no safe place to test this system out extensively but it worked unobtrusively and I didn’t notice the system at all. When ABS engages now there is a much smaller pulse felt through the lever and is quite an improvement over the old system.
The low down torque from the V-twin engine gives you a number of options when it comes to gear selection for exiting a corner.
We ended the day with a glorious sunset at our resort just outside Sepang, Malaysia having spent a good eight hours in the saddle and covering 300km. The new changes have made the Harley-Davidson a much nicer motorcycle with a lot of well thought out creature comforts added in. The functional and well engineered features do improve the cruising experience and make for a nicer better finished motorcycle. If only they could corner I might actually consider adding one to my wish list.