• QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING: BEST OF THE BEST!

    Cool temperatures fail to lower motorcycle fever at the Quail and keep Jim Palam from delivering this photo report.

    Low temperatures, brisk winds and overcast skies did nothing to dampen the spirits of over 3,000 visitors to the 2017 Quail Motorcycle Gathering on May 6 at the beautiful Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, CA.

    Gordon McCall, motorsports director for the Quail Lodge, was once again the perfect ringleader for this 9th Annual gathering. It featured over 300 rare and historic bikes, as well as a generous sampling of custom and modified rides from some of the rising stars in the motorcycle enthusiast’s expanding universe. GEICO Motorcycles presented the event.

    Jim Palam, our man (and Triumph rider) on the West Coast was up and out early to capture the action. The show was so good that he forgot to eat his complimentary gourmet lunch – but he did take a big bite of The Gathering’s tasty essence – yours now to enjoy.

    Taking the Design and Style Award was Simon Waterfall’s super-clean and serious ‘75 Moto Guzzi 850T, Top, rebadged as Supernaturale. Designed and built by Hugo Eccler of Untitled Motorcycles of San Francisco (pictured) the bike features a custom aluminum tank, advanced electronics and fingertip controls. Its overall brushed satin finish will intentionally age gracefully, developing an individualized patina from the way the rider handles the bike.

    What do you do if you have a beautiful old Triumph race tank? If you’re Californian Bryan Thompson you build the quintessential ‘58 Triumph Tiger from ground up, around the tank. So good is this build that this Black Beauty has been racking up a bounty of awards – including First Place in the Quail’s Custom/Modified category. Well-done Bryan!

    Chris Carter has become almost as famous as the spectacular motorcycles in his amazing All Things Two Wheels collection. So thanks Chris for bringing your gorgeous ‘14 Jefferson Board Track Racer to The Gathering. It took 2nd Place in the American category.

    Considered one of the most innovative motorcycles ever created, only 10 hand-crafted Britten V1000 superbikes were ever built. This Britten, #10, resides in the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, just a few blocks from my home. It belongs to the museum’s owner Virgil Elings and he proudly displayed it at The Gathering. Virgil’s son Jeff rode it up onto the winner’s ramp to accept the Significance in Racing Award.

    I met Richard Mitchell as he was rolling this meticulously customized BSA A65 Thunderbolt up to the Entrant’s Window late Friday afternoon. When Richard is not designing for Tesla, his passion is motorcycles. His beautiful creation went on to win 2nd Place in the Custom/Modified category.

    Ole #38 didn’t look like much when from a distance when I spotted owner Gary Landeen trying to kick-start her for a bevy of patient judges. On what was surely his last kick she fired up – and like the menacing roar of a Coliseum lion she fired up the crowd as well! This bike is the legendary Ed “Iron Man” Kretz’s Pre-War Big Base Indian Scout FDB 381 that competed successfully on a national level from 1941 through 1967. What a thrill to see and hear #38 roar at The Gathering!

    Two For The Road! If you’re a Motorhead you find beauty in design, function and performance. So forgive me if my heart beats a little faster when I take in the sexy symmetry of John Stein’s ‘70 Twin Motor BSA drag bike – bared for all to see in the Competition On Road Class.

    The 750 Sport was essentially a racier version of Ducati’s first big V-Twin, the 750GT. Its Goldenrod Yellow and black paint scheme and lean, aggressive styling made this Italian beauty really stand out from the crowd. Robert Jordon owns this stunning and pristine example.

    Wake Me Up Before You Goggo! The Hans Glas GMBH Company of Germany produced the Goggo Motorscooter in the 1950s. They were dependable and offered better performance than their Italian counterparts. They were however a bit pricier and few ever made it to the States. Harley and Deb Welch brought this nifty ‘55 Goggo 150 to The Gathering.

    And now for something different: The ‘76 Hercules W2000. Powered by an air-cooled, single-rotor Sachs-designed Wankel engine, it was manufactured in Germany. Innovative for sure, but criticized for its high cost, insufficient ground clearance and low performance. And of course, now, in high-demand by collectors! Congratulations to Stephan Haddad for the bike’s 2nd Place win in the Other European category.

    Words & photos by Jim Palam, http://www.jimpalam.com/

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  • 2018 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Heads to Mongolia

    The 2018 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy will take place in Mongolia in a little over two years time. But the regional qualifies are open this year for men and women to compete to represent their country.

    The GS Trophy is open to any non-professional BMW rider. Teams of three compete, judged on their riding, adventure and teamwork skills. And even if you don’t win the overall trophy, you’ll get to spend time riding in Mongolia with bikes and equipment provided. To be in with a chance, you’ll need to try out in a regional qualifier, which generally replicates the main event over a couple of days.

    2018 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy
    The 2018 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy heads to Mongolia

    In addition to the top three overall riders from each country being selected, there’s also an International GS Trophy Female Team. The best two women from each regional event who haven’t made the top three anyway will be sent to an International GS Trophy Female Qualifier, with the top three from that going on to Mongolia.

    2018 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy Confirmed Teams:

    • Argentina
    • Australia
    • Brazil
    • Canada
    • China
    • France
    • Germany
    • Japan
    • Latin America
    • Mexico
    • Russia
    • Southeast Asia
    • South Africa
    • South Korea
    • UK
    • USA

    Want to give it a try and be in with a chance of competing in the 2018 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy? You’ll need to head to the GS Trophy website for the entry details. Or check out our previous coverage of the BMW all-female team, and how BMW shipped 114 BMW R1200 GS bikes to Thailand for the 2016 event.

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  • ’17 CAMARO ZL1: CLOCKS 202.3 MPH!

    Fastest Camaro ever makes one pass at 202.3 mph and backs it up at 193.3 mph on Germany’s Papenburg proving ground. Average top speed: 198 mph.

    Chevrolet tested the ZL1 with 10-speed automatic transmission on the high-speed oval at Germany’s Automotive Testing Papenburg GmBH proving ground. Compensating for wind speed, the top speed is the average achieved from running the ZL1 in both directions on the 7.6-mile loop – 202.3 mph in one direction and 193.3 mph in the other direction!

    Testing was conducted on the ZL1’s production Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 tires with pressure set at 44 psi, the recommended setting for extended high-speed driving. The car’s only deviations from stock were mandatory safety and data logging equipment.

    Papenburg’s high-speed oval features 2.5-mile straights and 1.3-mile turns with 49.7-degree banking on the top lane. The steep banking allowed Chevrolet test drivers to run the ZL1 flat out around the track without lifting off the throttle in the turns.

    “The ZL1 was developed with high-speed performance in mind, incorporating a balanced aerodynamic package that reduces lift without significantly affecting drag,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “After testing the car in standard settings, which produced the 198-mph average, we set the front and rear camber adjustments to 0 degrees and the tire pressures to the maximum allowable sidewall pressure, the ZL1 averaged over 200 mph.”

    Special aero features include a stanchion rear spoiler that offers an advantageous lift/drag ratio compared to a blade-style rear spoiler, and a patent-pending auxiliary transmission oil cooler cover that reduces front-end lift with no drag penalty. The front-to-rear aero balance was also fine-tuned for high-speed stability.

    Additional performance capabilities of the ZL1 Camaro tested with the available 10-speed automatic transmission include:
    0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds
    Quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at 127 mph
    1.02g max cornering
    60-0 mph braking in 107 feet

    The 650-horsepower, supercharged LT4 engine powering the ZL1 is mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match or an available, all-new 10-speed automatic transmission. Additional features include:
    Magnetic Ride Control
    Electronic limited-slip differential (coupe only)
    20-inch forged aluminum wheels
    Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 3 summer-only tires measuring 285/30ZR20 in front and 305/30ZR20 in the rear
    Brembo brakes with six-piston Monobloc front calipers and two-piece rotors

    The ‘17 Camaro ZL1 starts at $63,435 for a coupe with the manual transmission (price includes $995 destination and $1,300 gas guzzler tax) and $65,830 for a coupe with the 10-speed automatic (price includes $995 destination and $2,100 gas guzzler tax).

    “This test caps an impressive list of performance stats for the Camaro ZL1, which was designed to excel at everything. It’s the most capable – and fastest – Camaro ever,” said Al Oppenheiser.

    For more information about the latest high-performance Camaros, please visit http://www.chevrolet.com/camaro-zl1.html

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  • The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth Now Available

    The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth is a new and limited edition model in the Sport Heritage range. It teams the Japanese company with a famous name from the car world. Abarth was originally founded in 1949, and has specialised in small sports cars for 60 years, including being featured as the sportier end of the FIAT brand.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
    The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Abarth already sponsors the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team and supplies a number of specialist vehicles as part of that relationship. So it seems only right that Yamaha honour them by producing a total of 695 bikes with some exclusive lightweight parts.

    Typically for a factory special, the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth features the standard 950cc three-cylinder engine with traction control and slipper clutch. But what it does gain is a full lightweight Akrapovic exhaust system with titanium double slip-on silencer. So that will help acceleration a bit, as well as making you sound faster.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
    Just running in the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Also helping you feel faster is a sportier riding position, thanks to swallow ‘clip-on’ style handlebars and the single racing seat. It’s finished with a suede cover and red stitching. And the seat cowl is one of the new lighweight carbon parts which feature the Abarth logo, along with the carbon front mudguard.

    Online order registrations opened on January 17th with the first 95 customers getting an invitation to an exclusive Yamaha VIP Abarth Experience, along with their choice of companion. The events will be confirmed when the new owners finish their purchase, and will take place between May 1st and June 16th 2017 at circuits in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria and the UK.

    Each event includes the chance to test drive a range of Abarth vehicles on the circuit, take a drive with a professional racing driver, and also be given the chance to visit Abarth’s Turin headquarters by prior appointment throughout 2017.

    Once the initial 95 models of the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth have gone, the remain 600 are available to order from your local Yamaha dealer from April 2017. And to be fair, you’ll have as much fun on the road or track on the XSR900 as you would in any car.

    Then again, if you do appreciate small, four-wheeled vehicles, then you might like the fact Abarth have also procuded a concept car to match the bike. The 695 Tributo XSR has the same grey and red livery, an extensive array of carbon fibre, and also gets an Akrapovic exhaust system.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth and Car

    It’s just a shame they haven’t produced a matching motorcycle trailer and made it all available as a set!

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  • Ducati Grew Motorcycle Sales In 2016

    Claudio Domenicali will be a happy CEO, as Ducati grew motorcycle sales in 2016. The total for the year was 55,451 motorcycles delivered. That’s up 1.2% on 2015, which meant 642 extra bikes. “Ending the year of our 90th anniversary with yet another record is a source of immense pride and satisfaction”, commented Domenicali. “2016 was the seventh consecutive growth year for Ducati, clearly confirming the soundness of the Bologna-based group’s strategy and skills.”

    The growth came from a mix of existing and new models. Sales of the Multistrada range were up 16%, the renewed HyperMotards were up 15%, and apparently 5,200 of the new Ducati XDiavel were also delivered.

    Ducati Multistrada 950
    2017 Ducati Multistrada 950

    The Ducati Scrambler brand gained both the new Scrambler Sixty2 and 15,500 bikes shifted.

    In terms of location, America was the biggest market for Ducati, with customers receiving 8,787 bikes. Following up is Italy, which saw 20% growth, and Germany up 8%. There were also big gaines in Spain (+38%), China (+120%), Brazil (+36%) and Argentina (+219%).

    2017 Ducati XDiavel S
    2017 Ducati XDiavel S

    For 2017, Ducati will launch seven new bikes, including the Ducati Multistrada 950, SuperSport and 1299 Superleggera. The Monster range will see the new 797 and 1200, while the Scrambler brand gets the Cafe Racer and Desert Sled. For stats fans, Ducati currently employs 1,594 people, has a network of 783 sales and assistance centres and operates in 90 countries.

    Ducati Motor Holdings Factory in Bologna
    Ducati Motor Holdings Factory in Bologna

    What isn’t clear yet is how price rises in the UK will affect sales. Since January 1st, Ducati has raised prices by an average of 4.8% due to the devaluing of the pound following the EU Referendum, which means, for example, the Ducati Monster 821 has gone from £9,150 to £9,595. The increases haven’t been applied evenly though, as the HyperMotard 939 only increased by £300, and the Ducati Panigale R actually stays the same price.

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