Saturday, June 21, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
Full-Dress touring motorcycles are generally characterized by extremely large fairings and bodywork compared to other forms of tourers, the integration of hard luggage into the design of the motorcycle (often including both saddlebags and a top-mounted box), very large displacement, torque-rich engines, and a very upright, comfortable riding position. Additionally, standard and optional amenities on full-dress tourers often encompasses equipment not normally offered on other motorcycles, such as complete stereos (AM/FM plus CD or cassette is standard, and now satellite radio is becoming more common), heated seats and hand-grips, GPS navigation systems, selective venting, power windshields, electrically controllable windshield, and for certain models in certain model-years, such oddities as integrated air compressors, air conditioning and air bags. Full-dress tourers are designed specifically for riding on pavement, although they may be taken onto hard, compacted dirt roads; they are specifically not designed for off-road duties. Common current examples of full-dress tourers include the Honda Goldwing, the BMW K1200LT and the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide, all of which have become quite popular, and the newer and controversially styled Victory Vision Tour.
Standard tourers normally offer fewer amenties and less weight than full dress tourers, but still are designed with the primary task of laying back miles over pavement in comfort. Notable current examples include the Honda ST1300, the BMW R1200RT, and the Yamaha FJR1300. These three motorcycles all offer hard luggage, electrically adjustable windshields, and anti-lock brakes.
 Global on+off-road tourers
This category encompasses motorcycles designed specifically to provide global touring capabilities on both pavement and off-road with the intent of making virtually any destination reachable. Motorcycles in this category share a unique combination of traits that provide them very high ground clearance (for off-road purposes), particularly large fuel reserves, large displacement understressed engines for high reliability and heavy torque output, large size and good high-speed highway behavior & handling. This combination of traits (and their weight) is also what separates them from traditional off-road, enduro and MX class motorcycles.
It is common for a large selection of purpose-driven options to be available for global tourers, including skid plates (to protect the engine and transmission during off-road use), larger and additional fuel tanks than stock, metal-formed hard luggage for extreme condition use, hardened GPS navigation systems designed to handle off-road abuse, etc. These bikes do not necessarily ship with hard luggage, but usually offer them as optional extras either from the manufacturer or via third-party suppliers. These motorcycles are often used as the basis for competitions in extreme rally events, including the grueling Dakar Rally.
Noteworthy current examples include the BMW F650GS, R1200GS, the KTM 950 & 990 Adventure series, the Suzuki DL1000 and DL650 V-Strom, and the venerable Kawasaki KLR650. In recent years, other manufacturers have also introduced models with some off-road ability like the Buell Ulysses and the Triumph Tiger, although its latest incarnation is much more road oriented.
Sport tourers are a hybrid form between sport bikes and tourers, allowing long-distance riding at higher speeds and with more emphasis on sport-like performance (in both handling and speed) than standard tourers; these bikes offer a mid-ground between both segments. The paradigm arguably originated with the 1976 BMW R100 RS, which combined BMW's traditional strengths for touring with a full-coverage racing fairing that entailed clip on-like handlebars and a semi-crouched riding position. The sport touring category includes such motorcycles as the Honda VFR (Interceptor) and ST series, the Yamaha FJR1300, the Triumph Sprint & Sprint ST, Ducati Motor Holding ST series, the Moto Guzzi Norge, the Suzuki Katana, the Kawasaki Concours, as well as many BMW GT, ST and RT models. These bikes do not necessarily ship with hard luggage, but usually offer them as optional extras either from the manufacturer or via third-party suppliers.
The inspiration for arguably the first motorcycle was designed and built by the German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Bad Cannstatt (since 1905 a city district of Stuttgart) in 1885. The first petroleum-powered vehicle, it was essentially a motorised bicycle, although the inventors called their invention the Reitwagen ("riding car"). However, if one counts two wheels with steam propulsion as being a motorcycle, then the first one may have been American. One such machine was demonstrated at fairs and circuses in the eastern U.S. in 1867, built by Sylvester Howard Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts.
In 1894, Hildebrand & Wolfmüller became the first motorcycle available for purchase. In the early period of motorcycle history, many producers of bicycles adapted their designs to accommodate the new internal combustion engine. As the engines became more powerful, and designs outgrew the bicycle origins, the number of motorcycle producers increased.
Until the First World War, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world was Indian, producing over 20,000 bikes per year. By 1920, this honour went to Harley-Davidson, with their motorcycles being sold by dealers in 67 countries, until 1928 when DKW took over as the largest manufacturer.
After the Second World War, the BSA Group became the largest producer of motorcycles in the world, producing up to 75,000 bikes a year in the 1950s. The German company NSU Motorenwerke AG held the position of largest manufacturer from 1955 until the 1970s.
In the 1950s, streamlining began to play an increasing part in the development of racing motorcycles and held out the possibility of radical changes to motorcycle design. NSU and Moto-Guzzi were in the vanguard of this development both producing very radical designs well ahead of their time. NSU produced the most advanced design, but due to the deaths of four NSU riders in the 1954–1956 seasons, they abandoned further development and quit Grand Prix racing. Moto-Guzzi produced competitive race machines, and by 1957 nearly all the GP races were being won by streamlined machines.
Today, the Japanese manufacturers, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha dominate the motorcycle industry, although Harley-Davidson still maintains a high degree of popularity in the United States. Recent years have also seen a resurgence in the popularity of several other brands sold in the U.S. market, including BMW, KTM, Triumph, Aprilia, Moto-Guzzi and Ducati.
Outside of the USA, these brands have enjoyed continued and sustained success, although Triumph, for example, has been re-incarnated from its former self into a modern world-class manufacturer. In overall numbers, however, the Chinese currently manufacture and sell more motorcycles than any other country and exports are rising. The quality of these machines is asserted to be somewhat lower than their Japanese, European and American counterparts.Additionally, the small-capacity scooter is very popular through most of the world. The Piaggio group of Italy, for example, is one of the world's largest producers of two-wheeled vehicles. The scooter culture has, as yet, not been adopted widely in North America.
CREDIT TO WIKIPEDIA