Parallel Twin vs. V-twin

Motorcycle engines are just as diverse as car engines, if not more. The rather small space they’re given meant that engineers had to get crafty and design the most compact engine possible, giving us plenty to choose from. Large, sportsbikes get a four-cylinder inline engine, as they have plenty of room. The upright tourer bikes get a V-shaped engine, as it fits the wide and tall structure of the bike. Scooters get a small one cylinder, because no other engine would fit. For the longest time, Honda’s Africa Twin was powered by, as the name suggests, a V-twin engine. The new one gets a parallel twin, but what does that mean, and what are the differences?

Like every versus, there’s going to be for and against arguments. Both have their pros and cons, so let’s go over them. First off, you need to know what both engines are. The V-twin is basically a V-shaped engine with just two cylinders. It can be mounted longitudinally or transversely, depending on the bike, its size, and the application. The parallel twin is another name for a straight-twin engine, meaning that the cylinders are in line, positioned one behind another.

The main advantage of the parallel twin is its packaging. The V-twin is extremely narrow, but once you add an alternator on one end and a primary drive on the other end, you get quite a long engine. The parallel twin is more than able to match the V-twin in that regard, as there aren’t any space savings with the V-twin anyway. The vertical cylinders positioned next to each other allow the engine to go slightly forwards towards the front wheel, and with no rear cylinder and exhaust pipe occupying space at the rear of the engine compartment, there’s quite a lot of space behind the actual cylinders for all the engine accessories.

Now although parallel twins require a balancer in most cases, it’s really not that big of an issue. Most of the balanced V-twins use a 90-degree V-angle, offset crankpins which aren’t that reliable or twin balance shafts. As they’re bigger in displacement in most cases, the piston-shaking force is much greater than that in the parallel twin.

The Africa Twin parallel twin engine uses two crankpins positioned at 270 degrees, which give the exhaust of the bike syncopation similar to that of the V-twin, with some people even claiming that it adds traction. It’s an ingenious solution from Honda, they managed to change one of their iconic models, and yet, keep it traditional in the process.

As for the sound, it’s personal preference really. The parallel twin does produce noise different from the V-twin, but it certainly isn’t bad. It’s not as distinctive or as unique, but it’s not a deal breaker. There are people who prefer the parallel twin’s exhaust note, and although we don’t mind it, nothing could ever substitute for that glorious V-twin rumble.

A Guide to Motor cycle and Motor Insurance

A Guide to Motor cycle and Motor Insurance

You might be purchasing clothes or shopping for motor cycle insurance; whatever, the case, at all times you desire to get your money’s worth. Therefore, what is the secret of obtaining dependable and reasonably priced motor cycle insurance?

How to Shop for Motor Insurance

For the most ideal transaction, shop around. Obtain numerous motor cycle insurance quotes from varied insurance firms prior to you purchasing or renewing your policy. Insurance firms are different; therefore, you can obtain a better transaction elsewhere.

Avoid being scares of changing. You can change insurance firms any time you desire; even at the middle of your motor cycle insurance policy period. If you get an improved rate, change and save.

Three kinds of motor cycle insurance exist:

  • Third party, that caters for your legal liability in case you destroy another individual’s physical belongings such as (walls, motor cycles, gates, etc.) because of a driving accident.
  • Third Party, Fire and Theft, presents third party cover and includes a couple of helpful sections of cover – fire damage to your vehicle and theft, as well as destruction caused by stealing or attempted stealing.
  • A totally comprehensive policy is inclusive of Third Party, Fire and Theft and shall additionally pay for destruction to your personal motor cycle in case of an accident. A lot of perks are available also; for instance, it shall also offer you cover when you drive vehicles belonging to other individuals. This is helpful if you borrow another person’s vehicle and you are not covered by their insurance.

The elements below have an impact on the payment you submit for your premiums

  1. Your work
  1. Your age
  1. Your driving record

The vehicle you drive: The more expensive the motor cycle, the higher the premium. Motor cycles of top performance are also more costly to insure, compared to their stock standard counterparts. An insurance premium for a Toyota may be different than the price of insuring a Harley Davidson.

Vehicle Location: You shall pay extra if you keep the vehicle in a location where crime is rife or park it at night on the street.

Purpose you utilize the motor cycle for: You will pay extra, for instance if you intend to utilize the motor cycle for business delivery intents.

The excess set-up you select: The more the excess, the less the premiums.

Satellite Tracking and Gear Locks: Shall assist to lower your premiums.

In case you are purchasing another vehicle, do not overlook to shop around for insurance!

For someone who is purchasing a vehicle for the first time, the procedure can be a hard decision. A lot of purchasers do not know that they should have insurance prior to driving their latest vehicle from the showroom floor.  The financial institutions offering the funds for the purchase shall be adamant about this so as to facilitate the safety of their latest asset.

Do not simply give in to the initial offer presented to you; obtain a minimum of 3 quotes prior to reaching a decision. ‘A lot of finance institutions or banks are associated with an insurance firm or brokerage company. So, new purchasers might experience pressure to obtain insurance cover via the supplier the bank prefers.’

It is vital to be aware that it is not possible to implement this and the client is the one who should decide. This makes it necessary to shop around for quotes that are competitive to make sure you are presented with the most ideal transaction; in regard to cover as well as cost.

‘This is mandatory for youthful drivers, since they are regularly fined for their age and absence of driving experience, leading to increased premiums and excesses.’

Cash purchases are not excluded from the requirement of insuring their latest motor cycle. Hijackings and thefts remain a reality and the increasing number of vehicles on the road places all drivers at increased danger of getting into an accident.

Selecting an insurance product which is appropriate in regard to value adds, budget and excess to be paid is a meticulous decision. With the correct advice, it can be made logically and safely.

A lot of youthful, first-time purchasers discover that buying insurance via a direct insurer is in reality, an easy procedure.

It is possible for them to attain a customized insurance solution which meets their particular requirements. Using direct insurance, extra charges are not paid by clients to obtain what they require.

Any driver on the verge of going to buy a new motor cycle would be advised to think of the direct insurance advantages, which entail saving time and cost.

 

 

 

Motorcycle riding in the winter

Driving your car doesn’t get that much harder in winter, but a motorcycle is a different story. Because it relies on the weather a lot more than a car does, you can’t always go for a ride. Or can you? There’s absolutely nothing stopping you physically, but it’s not advisable. In case you do decide to go for a ride in the colder months, here are a few tips which might prove handy.

Winter beater

Lots of people store their main cars in the garage for the duration of winter, so why should the bike be any different. Instead of abusing your pride and joy during the winter, get something cheaper and smaller. A Honda CB500 or a Yamaha XJ600 are perfect for the job. They’re reliable, relatively cheap and have lots of parts available. You probably won’t use it every day, but it will definitely prove useful when you get the riding bug.

Heating

Heated grips are considered a luxury most of the time, however, the same can’t be said for the colder months in winter. They’re almost a necessity if you’re planning on riding for a longer period during low temperatures. It’s not just a comfort thing either. Cold, frozen hands are next to useless when operating the clutch and the brakes, so it can prove to be unsafe as well. If you don’t have heated grips from the factory, consider handlebar muffs (gloves). A lot of them are heated, and an ideal choice for winter.

Gear

Make sure you wear warm gear if you don’t want to freeze. We’re not talking about a sweater underneath your gear either. In addition to the heated solutions available, consider purchasing motorcycle waterproofs designed for the rain and thermal base layers which will keep the heat inside. Great pair of gloves are vital too. Warm gloves are amazing, but make sure they’re not so thick that they affect the way you operate the bike. If they act as a visor wiper, all the better.

Gear Part 2

Wear high visibility gear! It doesn’t matter if it looks sillier, as it may just save your life. Winter driving is especially hazardous for riders, as visibility is lower and the roads are black thanks to the rain. Whatever you do, don’t wear all black gear. It looks cool, agreed, but it isn’t practical in winter. Try to find some gear with patches of high-visibility material if nothing else.

Grippy Tires

The standard tires are probably useless in winter, just like with a car. Try to get your hands on some winter tires if you can. Studded tires are not that common and are overkill most of the time, but simple winter tires do miracles. Consider Dunlop’s Sportmax Roadsmart 2 or Michellin’s Pilot Road 3. Both provide excellent traction in wet and cold conditions. They make all the difference in the world, trust us.

A liter bike as your first one?

This is probably the most asked question by rookies. Nearly everyone has thought about it prior to getting their first motorcycle. And that’s understandable, we all want to make sure we’re making the best decision before we go out and spend what is possibly thousands of dollars on something important. Your first bike is an important thing, especially as a rider, but not in the way you think it might be.

See, the first bike is all about teaching you how a motorcycle should behave, what it feels like, acting as a learning tool for the first year or so (some cases more). It is true that you can learn how to ride on pretty much anything, however, the learning curve is really different depending on the bike you go for. This topic has been covered probably a million times already, but we thought we’d do an article on our own opinion, based on years and years of experience.

First, let’s talk different types of bikes. You have your grand tourers, sportsbikes, and everything in between. Then there’s the engine size, it can range from anything as low as 150cc or even 50cc, to 1000 cubic centimeters and above. The seating position makes a huge different in how the bike behaves. Sportsbikes have a low, aggressive seating position, which although great for fast driving, isn’t much useful when you’re learning how to ride. A sportsbike is nothing like a scooter or small-cc enduro. You’re basically laying on top of the bike. It’s what surprises the most, the fact that you’re slanted so forward. As you can imagine, rookies will be overwhelmed with the riding position so much that they will be preoccupied to think about actually riding the bike.

A bike with an up-right riding position gives you all the control and visibility needed for learning. You can focus on actually riding, instead of maintaining balance and trying not to kill yourself. Later on, you can move to a sportsbike, or upgrade to a big grand tourer for instance, depending on your personal preference.

The engine is the most important thing however. And it’s not just the engine volume either, it’s more to do with the type of engine rather than its displacement. Most sportsbikes, even the 600cc ones, have an inline four-cylinder. Although they’re generally the most powerful, all their capability lies in the top-end. Or in other words, to get any sort of power, you’ll have to really rev it out. A V-twin on the other hand for instance, delivers lots of power and torque low down, ideal for learning and daily driving. A 1000cc V-twin is better than a 600cc four-cylinder in that regard, not that we recommend starting on a large liter bike however.

Ideally, you want to start on something 500cc or less, and it shouldn’t be an inline four-cylinder. Trust us, you’ll learn so much faster on a smaller bike than a large one. As they say, it’s much more fun to drive a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.

The 5 Best Liter Bikes

Competition in the one liter Supersports bikes is fiercer than ever. There are dozens of great manufacturers to choose from, and each one makes a few different variations on their flagship bike, whether it be naked or fully faired. Keep in mind, this list is too short to mention even a quarter of them, but we’ve included what we feel like are the best at the moment.

Yamaha YZF-R1

The Yamaha R1 is one of the most popular choices when it comes to this category. And it isn’t really difficult to see why. It’s one of the few bikes to feature an inline four-cylinder engine with a crossplane crankshaft, and it arguably makes the most unique noise out of the bunch. Then there’s the design. It’s the classic sportsbike design. It isn’t as gorgeous as the Italians, nor is it as aggressive as some of the others, but it is undeniably the iconic sportsbike.

Suzuki GSX-R1000

The Gixxer appeals to riders who like to attack corners at full speed. The bike is relatively light at 447 lbs, but with 182 horsepower originating from its four-stroke inline four engine, it has no trouble with straight line speed too. It may be a bit behind in terms of design, but if you’re not that worried about the relatively simple design, it’s definitely a top contender in performance terms. It’s quite affordable too.

Kawasaki ZX-10R

Kawasaki’s entry in the one liter sportsbike is the ZX-10R. It’s one of the most technologically advanced bikes in the world at the moment, and it’s completely track focused even in stock form. With adjustable shocks, an Ohlins electronic steering damper, a slipper clutch, adjustable traction control and a titanium exhaust, it’s ready to hit the track as soon as you are. It’s not a stranger to everyday riding however. It’s just as easy to ride on the street as any other bike. You do have to treat it some respect, but it will more than return the favor.

Honda CBR1000RR

Every list has to have a Honda in it, doesn’t it? The Honda doesn’t have a category in which it’s best at, but rather, it excels in everything. It’s the perfect all-rounder. It’s affordable, delivers amazing power, handles great, and then there’s Honda’s immaculate reliability history. It’s got one of the best shock suspensions from the factory too. It’s perfect for road riding, but you can adjust it so that it suits the track too.

BMW HP4

The only bike in this list that isn’t Japanese. We could have included the Italians for more diversity, but we feel the Japanese outdo them by just a bit. The BMW then, where do we begin? Well, how does nearly 200 hp and just 440 lbs sound like? Exciting? It’s got Dynamic Traction, Dynamic Damping Control, ABS, Gear Shift Assist and even Launch Control. It will obliterate any track and any road, provided you know how to ride it. Surprisingly, you don’t have to be a good rider to ride it normally. You can turn the traction control up and just cruise. It’s truly the best bike at the moment.

Yamaha FJR1300 Common Faults

The FJR1300 revolutionized the world of the motorcycles when it was first launched. It was the first bike to truly offer comfort, refinement and speed all wrapped in one sport-grand touring package. It offered riders an upright riding position, massive comfort and storage space just like a grand tourer, but a quick twist of the wrist transformed into a supersports bike, with performance rivaling the best in the class. The relative light chassis meant it handled like a dream too.

Although lots of rivals have caught up with it, the FJR is still the best in its segment. Lots of bikes get really close, but none are able to match the FJR1300. Now, we’re not saying the FJR is perfect, far from it, but it does get really close. We’ve created a list of the most common faults with the FJR, in hopes of helping you choose the right bike, or even helping you fix your current one.

The truth is, there’s not a lot which goes wrong with the FJR. A recent survey was conducted on 90 FJR owners, and the results were unsurprising. 11 people said they were riding their second FJR, four were on their third and one person was even on his fourth. 66 people said that they never experienced any issues with the FJR platform, and 20 reported only one issue (minor). Out of the 90 people, only 5 experienced several issues, and none were major.

The biggest issue turned out to be a sudden battery death, present in just 4 cases. Now, this is something which can happen to any bike, as in almost all cases it’s a battery issue, so we won’t pin it on the FJR.  A new battery solves the issue, and it requires next to no mechanical skill to solve it yourself. Naturally, if the FJR in question isn’t stored in a garage the battery is more prone to failure because it’s exposed to the weather.

3 people reported an issue with the shocks, or a shock leak to be more precise. In all cases this happened after an abrupt impact, and wasn’t the result of damage over time. Sudden shifts in temperature, such as a warm garage to negative temperatures outside can make the shock susceptible to the issue, but don’t worry about it too much. A new shock fixes the issue, and it’s not that complicated to replace.

The last issue proved to be the ECU. A small number of people (3) reported a fault with the FJR running poor in high altitudes. After some investigation, the fault was placed on the ECU which proved to be faulty in all cases, but it was replaced by Yamaha free of charge.

Overall, the Yamaha FJR1300 is one of the most reliable bikes ever built. It doesn’t just offer great performance and comfort, but excellent durability as well. If you’re after one, make sure you see the service history if available. If it’s had no previous issues, it probably won’t in the future either.