Last week I asked when were curved windscreens first used? The answer was 1914
on the Kissel.
So to this week. In the early days, the spare wheel was usually tacked on to the
rear of the car. Which car, and when, did the spare wheel become enclosed in the
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Most Practical / Useful
When you want to hop on a ‘bike which is more than a step-through, to
go to the shops, visit someone or simply enjoy a bit of a ride out then most of
the bigger machines including the middleweight sports are a pain.
Yamaha’s FZ6 doesn’t really comply since it is a big bike with high revving
engine to extract maximum power to compete with Suzuki’s (SV650S) and Honda’s
Hornet (not on show)
Kawasaki showed a naked middleweight, the ER-6n, which it has steadily developed
over the last few years. It is a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve 649 cm3 Parallel
Twin with fuel injection. Apparently, the engine’s mid-range power
characteristics make the bike especially fun to ride at medium speeds on city
streets. Roll-on response is exceptional, offering impressive passing
performance. ABS is an option in some markets. A modern Triumph Bonneville, 650
This got my vote because of its no nonsense build and lack of frills. A get on
and go bike that doesn’t look difficult to run and maintain.
(Thank you Alan for a very detailed overview of the motorcycles at the 30th
Bangkok International Motor Show.)
More on the Bangkok Motor Show bikes
Our roving motorcycle correspondent, Alan Coates, continues his
review of the motorcycles displayed at the Bangkok International Motor Show.
My definition of this category, based on considerable experience
is as follows: It must be big enough, with weather protection, to carry two
adults in comfort at high speed for 8 hours per day. It must have a three
piece hard luggage system built in with room enough for a tank bag. It
should be possible for a reasonably fit male to maneuver the machine while
parking, turning around etc with a dead engine.
Honda’s Gold Wing falls out here because of the sheer physical size and weight,
equipped as it is with an 1850 cc 6 cylinder engine plus all of its
accoutrements. BMW no longer import their K1200LT into Thailand for a number of
reasons which include servicing problems.
Yamaha’s FJR1300 has been around for some time and the latest version was on
display, the FJR1300AS. This has the optional clutchless gear changing facility.
This works either by foot as normal or via a thumb switch on the left hand ‘bar,
without the need to operate the clutch lever. Such a system is highly beneficial
in heavy traffic conditions but not necessary on open road touring.
New on the scene is the new BMW K1300GT. It looks a bit slab sided and dated but
actually is high tech and high performance with an output of 160 hp (118 kW) and
up to 135 Nm of torque at 8,000 rpm from its 1300 cc 4 cylinder engine. Equipped
with a good range of standard and optional equipment, including ABS and the
availability of a wide selection of accessories, this ‘bike is a modern Genuine
While definitely not a fan of BMW, its Duolever front and optional ESA II rear
suspension adjustment system combine to give a ride which should suit most
riders/ passengers and load arrangements.
ESA II Electronic Suspension Adjustment is an optional system that allows you to
modify the suspension set-up depending on the load you are carrying. It
automatically sets the best possible combination of suspension height, spring
rate and damping settings.
So, expensive it is, but in this case you get what you pay for with the BMW
Naked / Muscle (Retro)
There were plenty of contenders here; Suzuki’s 1250 Bandit which
has been around for a long time but is very competitive pricewise. You get a
big lump for little money but chassis and suspension are dated.
Kawasaki have gone the retro route with their Z1000 which harkens back to the
late 70’s early 80’s. A modern powerplant in an uprated chassis / suspension set
up but with too much plastic and a pair of silencers that would not look out of
place on a double decker bus.
Yamaha offer the FZ1, essentially a stripped down, detuned R1. Not designed as a
muscle bike, just a model created to fill the gap in their model range.
Triumph’s Speed Triple 1050 looked menacing, caged, as it was, on the Dirtshop
stand. Now a major player globally; for 2009 Triumph produce a range of 16
‘bikes to suit most tastes and are once again enjoying some success on the race
circuits with the Daytona 675. However, the 1050 Speed Triple is billed as a
street fighter and has proved to be a very successful seller. For 2009, the 3
cylinder engine delivers 130 bhp with unique evocative sound and character. The
‘bike comes with very little by way of extras or superfluous bits, it has iconic
twin headlamps, tapered aluminium Magura bars, black multi spoke alloy wheels
and twin short exhaust cans. The specification includes twin Brembo 4-piston
4-pad radial calipers mounted on fully adjustable black anodised Showa USD
forks, fully adjustable Showa monoshock rear suspension and a single sided swing
arm, all at a very competitive price.
Dirtshop again presented the Ducati Monster, this time the 1100S with an after
market can fitted. The 1100S chassis is part tube and for 2009 part casting. The
result is lightweight at 168 kg but the V-twin only puts out some 95 bhp so it
is no arm wrenching Monster. Maintenance of the exposed drive belt under the
engine is of concern in adverse operating conditions. The specification is high
with Brembo brakes, Ohlins front and rear but then so is the price, it’s an
exotic head turner but lacks the serious grunt of some of the others in this
Last and far from least is a new model from BMW, not previously known for naked
/ muscle ‘bikes. However, the all new K1300R is a revelation, not only for the
specification but also for the simple fact that a vertically challenged rider
with 29 inch inside leg can actually “flat foot” to maneuver the bike. With an
engine output of 173 hp (127 kW) and 140 Nm of torque it is very impressive as
is the technical specification. It has the BMW Duolever suspension for optimum
handling, and options include ABS, TPC (Tyre Pressure Control) and ESA
(Electronic Suspension Adjustment) like the K1300GT tourer. Shaft drive is
Another option available is gear shift assist, allowing riders to change up
without declutching or taking their hand off the throttle. A useful aid in those
drag starts from the traffic lights.
BMW won me over on the specification of the K1300R, its impressive powertrain
and the fact that my feet touch the ground, a first for me with any BMW.