The Yamaha Tenere 700 is a highly anticipated adventure touring motorcycle, and its set to debut in Europe in 2019. Yamaha recently released pricing information for the European-spec bike. According to ADV Pulse, the bike will cost €9,299 which equates to about $10,600.
The lucky European riders will get to enjoy online ordering, too. This means they’ll be able to get the bike as soon as possible. However, there’s a caveat here, that price is exclusive to online orders. Once the online orders are done on July 31, the price will no longer stay at €9,299.
The U.S.-spec bike will not arrive until late 2020 due to differences in regulations. When it does, I’d imagine the pricing to be very similar to the European variant. There’s no word yet on if U.S. buyers will have a chance to place an online order at a special price for the motorcycle. One thing that will be different for the U.S. model, according to ADV Pulse is the fact that the Tenere 700 will only be offered in one color, Ceramic Ice. The Euro-spec model comes in three different colors.
The Tenere 700 features a 689cc parallel twin-cylinder engine. It comes with adjustable upside-down coil-spring forks, adjustable link-type rear suspension, a 452 lbs wet weight, and switchable ABS. It should be a true force to be reckoned with among its immediate competition. The bike will come to the U.S. in 2020. When it does, I’m sure there will be plenty of people excited to buy.
It appears I have become the “riding jeans” guys over the past several years here at WebBikeWorld.com. I’m not certain how this happened but I’m here today with yet another review of, you guessed it, motorcycle riding jeans.
I do worry sometimes that I could suffer from “denim fatigue” with the volume of jeans that land on my desk. However, I was excited to see this latest pair of riding pants from Bull-It Jeans. I can’t believe it has been about 4 years now since Carmen and I reviewed a batch of riding pants (and jackets) from Bull-it. I guess a review of their current offerings is overdue.
One of the reasons I was looking forward to getting a look at some new Bull-it jeans is the fact they employ a unique abrasion and heat resistant material from Covec in their products. This partnership with Covec includes not only their fabric but their impact armor as well.
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Covec fabric has some very interesting properties compared to other durable fabrics like Kevlar® and other aramids. I covered a lot of details about Covec in my review from 2015 so rather than reinvent the wheel here, I would suggest checking out that review for the low down on Covec.
Now let’s have a look at the specific jeans in question.
The SP120 Lite jeans appear to be your typical denim jeans at first glance. There’s not much that is outwardly visible to give away that these jeans have some very technical stuff going on under their shell.
The SP120 Lite jeans are available in two colors, Basalt and Heritage. Basalt, which I have for this review, are black while the Heritage is the type of blue most would associate with “blue jeans”. The Basalt color is quite stealthy with the use of black thread for the stitching as well as the black denim used for the body of the jeans. Those looking for some visibility might look at the Heritage color.
The design is a five pocket layout with two rear pockets and two main front pockets with a coin pocket inset in the front right pocket. The coin pocket is a bit “dodgy” in actual use as it is deep and very narrow. Just be aware that any coins placed in this pocket might be inaccessible until one removes the pants.
Although the material of the jeans is black, there are areas at the knees which have a moderate “weathered” look giving them a subtle dark gray shade rather than pure black. A small COVEC label is located on the coin pocket in white thread. This and the logo embossed leather patch over the right hip along the waist is the only branding visible on the jeans.
Now let’s dig into the details of the construction.
The main closure on the SP120 Lite jeans is via a metal button and zipper. Metal buttons on motorcycle riding jeans can be a danger to the paint on the tank but at least there is only one. Other riding jeans I’ve seen have metal rivets on the front pockets but these aren’t present here.
There are multiple layers to the jeans starting with the main body being made from a 98% cotton, 2% elastane denim. This small amount of elastane is enough to provide moderate stretch to the fabric.
Inside the jeans, there is a polyester mesh liner covering the Covec fabric in the seat area. The front portion of the legs have more lining coverage and there are pockets in the lining for hip and knee protectors.
Covec abrasion resistant material is present between the denim and the mesh lining in the knee and seat areas. It’s not easy to get a good look at the actual Covec fabric but one can see it looks corrugated, not unlike the inside of cardboard or certain potato chips.
The main seams are of the triple stitched variety for durability in the event of a crash. The seams on the outside of the jeans are straight and neat and, in the case of the Basalt color, the thread is really hard to see in the first place with the black on black color. The inside is a different story.
The stitching used to attach the liner material to the denim seems heavy enough but I can’t say it is neat. Frankly, it looks messy in some places and you can see some of these loose white threads in the photos here. This is similar to what we saw in the Bull-it jeans review back in 2015. I can’t say that this weakens the strength of the overall garment but the finish here doesn’t inspire confidence in quality control.
The name Covec has been tossed around a lot during this review and it is Covec materials that are at the heart of the protection offered in the SP120 Lite’s. This material is highly abrasion and cut resistant as well as having very low friction heat transfer.
In the zones where Covec is used in these jeans, they receive a AAA rating according to the draft version of the EN17092 standard. This rating translates into the material standing up to a slide that starts at 120kph (74.5 mph). During a slide, heat buildup shouldn’t be an issue thanks to the low thermal transfer properties.
You can see a pretty convincing video of this thermal transfer resistance below.
In addition to the above video, Bull-it has a lot of technical information about Covec materials on their website including other videos of testing. As a reviewer and rider, I appreciate all this information for my writings as well as peace of mind when riding in their apparel.
The SP120 Lite’s get the “Lite” designation due to the fact they only have Covec fabric in seat and knees versus lining the entire pants. It also means that no impact armor comes with the jeans but there are pockets provided for both knees and hips.
Covec makes impact armor in addition to the abrasion resistant fabric and they have CE level 1 and 2 level options. They even have a new product called Phantom that is very thin and light for a CE level 2 protector. Of course, the sizes of the armor pockets are pretty standard so one should be able to use other brand protectors as well if desired.
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The SP120 Lite jeans are available in waist sizes from 30 to 44 covering quite a bit of ground. Sizes listed denote the “unstretched” fit so the size 30 will stretch up to 32 inches and the 44 should actually fit up to 46 inches. I have a 36-inch waist and ordered a 36 but in retrospect, I might have tried the 34’s to provide a closer fit. Either way, the jeans are true to their listed size so one can rely on the sizing chart.
Bull-it offers three fit variants on the SP-120 Lite jeans which include Slim, Straight, and Easy. Easy being a loose or “relaxed” fit and Slim closer to the “skinny jeans” cut. I went right to the middle with the straight cut which is a nice balance. There is enough room in the legs for me to use MX style knee guards if I want to instead of using armor in the knee pockets.
In addition to the variations in cut, all sizes are available in four different leg lengths from S (short) to XL (extra long). The actual measurements being the same across all waist sizes at 30, 32, 34, and 36. The length on the 36S that I received was about half an inch long at 30.5 inches which for jeans designed for being worn in the riding position, I’m fine with.
At this point, I want to point out that I don’t recall ever seeing a wider variety of sizes and cuts available in a pair of riding jeans. I appreciate that, not only are there various permutations of size and fit available but, Bull-it provides a chart for each different cut variant that details several dimensions such as thigh width, knee width, and even rise both front and rear. I would love to see more manufacturers take this detailed approach to inform buyers of sizing.
Sizing and fit are very good but comfort is a bit of a mixed bag. Bull-it claims the SP120 Lite’s are breathable but they don’t seem to breathe all that well for me. I‘m not really surprised considering the extra material inside the denim.
During these colder winter days, this fact is an asset but I’m afraid they might get stuffy during the summer months. I’m willing to make that leap based on my experience with the Bull-it jeans a reviewed back in 2015. I’ve also found some other comments about the SP120 Lite’s that back up this idea.
Also, the polyester mesh is not the softest material around. It can be itchy in places where it is in close contact with skin. The knee and thigh areas, in particular, suffer from this as these places are typically pulled up against the skin.
Most reinforced riding jeans require special care when washing. It’s funny to me that these materials that are highly abrasion resistant can deteriorate quickly when pitted against the chemical and folding torture that the typical washing machine can apply to riding gear.
Fortunately, Covec’s material is highly resistant to chemical attack from acids, alcohols, oils, and more. It also handles flex fatigue pretty well compared to some durable fabrics and much better than aramid based materials such as Kevlar®. Covec’s website has details on how their material compares against a variety of other fabrics.
One should still not tumble dry these jeans and they should be left to hang dry and it is also recommended that they are turned inside out. This isn’t uncommon for most jeans anyway if one wants to reduce fading.
Overall I really like what Bull-it has done to evolve their offerings. The SP120 Lite makes the cost of admission a very reasonable at $189.95. That price gets you a pair of jeans with some very tough protection, albeit strategically placed protection instead of the entire garment.
Provisions for armor in hips and knees is welcome and although I would like to see the armor included, its absence isn’t surprising at this price point. Since the armor pockets are pretty standard sized one can find plenty of options to fit their desired budget/protection level.
I would like to see the interior construction neatened up a bit and, while at it, maybe find a more comfortable material for the mesh lining. Most riders likely will find these to be relatively minor issues but they are there nonetheless.
Finally, I’m blown away by the incredibly wide variety of size and cut combinations. Bull-it has really gone above and beyond what most manufacturers provide not just in the variations of size and fit but also the great details about how each variant measures in several areas.
An overall score of 4 out of 5 stars seems appropriate with the overall jeans being very good but being let down on the neatness of the interior lining stitching and the somewhat scratchy polyester lining.
Motorcyclists are a well-read bunch. Despite the well-publicized travails of some mainstream magazine publishers, the niche market is booming. Every country with a reasonably large population seems to have an independent magazine devoted to custom or ‘alt.moto’ culture.
The latest entrant to this pleasingly busy market is Retro-RR from England. It’s a high-quality quarterly with 132 pages, celebrating bikes that were ridden or raced in the 80s and 90s.
We were so impressed with the launch edition, we asked if we could reproduce an abridged version of our favorite article—covering the mighty Honda RC30. Enjoy.
In an age of prosperity, huge tobacco sponsorship and an impending inaugural World Superbike championship, building a winner was the only thing that mattered to the mighty Honda Racing Corporation.
In the late eighties the VFR750R—better known as the RC30—was a dream for engineers and designers. With all emphasis on creating a race-winning production machine with very little regard for the budget, the bike that spawned the term ‘homologation special’ was generously bestowed with magnesium and titanium.
Honda’s engineers already knew how to make a reliable V4 motor and, externally at least, the RC30 motor closely resembled the unit used in the road-going VFR750F. But now they had the opportunity to refine it further, make it lighter and increase the power — to produce the ultimate four-stroke racing engine.
Based on the RVF endurance racer (not to be confused with the later RVF750 RC45) the RC30 used titanium con rods and forged two-ring pistons with skirts so short they weren’t allowed to leave the house.
The firing order was changed to a big-bang configuration with a totally new crank; new, hardened valves were used; the lubrication system was uprated and the gear-drive for the camshafts was revised.
Casings were machined differently for the new oil galleries and the rev ceiling was raised from 11,000 to 12,500rpm. It even had a slipper clutch, long before they became the norm. Only the V4 architecture truly remained.
Each of the 3,000 RC30s produced were hand-built in the racing division of the Hamamatsu plant alongside the factory racers. The geometry was sharp and short and the twin-spar aluminum frame was pared down to save weight but was still stiff where it mattered.
Fully adjustable Showa suspension graced both ends with the front forks designed for speedy front wheel changes. The single-sided swinging arm made for similarly rapid rear wheel swaps; this was a bike that had all the ingredients, both mechanically and aesthetically.
While super-exotic, on paper the numbers didn’t really stack up. In unrestricted form, the bike was claimed to produce 118bhp and 51ft-lb of torque. Hardly staggering performance figures, even with a best-in-class dry weight of 180kg.
But on the racetrack that sublime chassis and motor with its flat, almost totally linear, torque curve added up to a fast lap time. It was easy on the tyres and more importantly, easy on the rider. Never before had the term ‘racer on the road’ been more apt.
The RC30 soon proved to be the bike to be on. The insanely talented Fred Merkel took the inaugural World Superbike title in 1988 and the American confirmed it was no fluke by repeating the feat the following year.
It won domestic championships the world over and tamed the toughest racetrack of them all, the Mountain Course on the Isle of Man. Legendary riders such as Steve Hislop, Joey Dunlop, Phillip McCallen and Nick Jefferies all took TT victories aboard the RC30. It wasn’t long before pretty much every privateer racer wanted one.
More than 30 years on, finding a mint example of one of Soichiro Honda’s most memorable motorcycles before his passing in 1991 isn’t easy. Most have been either raced or crashed. Or both.
But every once in a while, an opportunity presents itself. This is exactly what happened to our friend, Alessio Barbanti [below]. He’s one of the most respected photographers in motorcycling and a thoroughly Italian man who knows style when he sees it.
“I wanted an RC30 for a very long time,” says Alessio. “It was always the dream bike, the one on top of my list. To find one in good condition is very hard.”
“About two years ago a friend called me and said to come over for coffee. Nothing unusual about that, so I strolled over to his workshop and there it was, my dream machine.”
“It belonged to an old Italian guy who’d been living in the USA for about 30 years and had retired to his homeland. The bike was an American-spec bike but not restricted — I spent so much time researching to make sure it was full power and that it wasn’t going to give me problems.”
“I was very lucky. You might say ‘in the right place at the right time’. The bike is in almost perfect condition, everything is genuine Honda and I have the original exhaust too.”
“The one is fitted with the HRC race kit exhaust, which I’ve since found out is incredibly rare. It runs perfectly too. I think the former owner really loved this bike which explains why he was so emotional when he sold it.”
We’re still waiting for an invite to the Italian Alps to find out for ourselves just how good Alessio’s bike is. Though I have a feeling we might be waiting some time.
2020 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer Limited Edition is coming to the US and Canada this summer. (Moto Guzzi/)
Back in 2017, Moto Guzzi decided to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of one of its most popular machines, the V7, by introducing the V7 III, a revamped model that boosted power by 10 percent more than the outgoing bike. The V7 III Racer was the sporty version with a café-racer look, and you could see the appeal of the series.
Which is why Guzzi is going back to that well for 2020 with the V7 III Racer Limited Edition. The so-called “factory custom” model is heading for North American shores this summer, with a limited number of units exclusively targeting the US and Canada.
Thing is, this factory-farkled homage isn’t really a new model but more like a carryover 2018 V7 III Racer with new paint, graphics, and details. The spec sheet is a mirror image, though Guzzi redistributes the color scheme, adds a few trick styling details, and tops it with a few other bits to distinguish it from the other V7 III Racer. And this time, it’s making fewer of them.
Less expensive, tastes great. This newer model gets a lower MSRP than the one it replaces. (Moto Guzzi/)
The V7 III Racer Limited Edition retains the sportiness with a clearly aggressive rider’s triangle and a classic solo humped seat, ladling on the old-school café style via a shorty front fender, black headlight bucket, and fork gaiters. Even the brief fly screen reminds you of a classic café racer. The “racing red” splash of color on the frame and swingarm is a bold look that contrasts with the dark engine bay and exhaust while also playing off the gloss white tank and aluminum fly screen.
Gloss white paint, an updated quilted saddle, and leather tank trim distinguish this Guzzi from the other V7 III Racer. (Moto Guzzi/)
But that’s not really a solo seat; you can remove that rear seat cover and go two-up on that downward-sloped passenger portion if you want some excitement. Unique details include brown leather trim along the fuel tank’s spine and fuel cap, with aluminum spoked wheels carrying the black channels and red stickers from other MG models. You also get solid billet footpegs, a lightened steering stem, and steering yoke guard. Leading the way is a 40mm telescopic fork, but smoothing things out back is a pair of fully adjustable Öhlins shocks. The robust brake system brings triple discs and ABS as standard equipment.
Even though it’s a limited edition, the V7 III Racer Limited manages to ring in at an MSRP that’s almost $700 less than last year’s model without losing any of the good bits—nice! It’s a sporty, affordable, and unique build, with generous splashes of retro adding to the aesthetic. Check out this video of last year’s model for some inspiration.
The V7 III Racer Limited Edition will be available this June in the US for an MSRP of $9,990
and July in Canada for $11,590.
2020 Moto Guzzi V7 III Racer Specifications
$9,990 USD/$11,590 CDN
744cc, air-cooled, four-stroke, 90° V-twin
Bore x Stroke:
80.0mm x 74.0mm
52 hp @ 6,200 rpm
44.2 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
40mm telescopic fork
Dual Öhlins shocks adjustable for spring preload, rebound and compression
The idea of the moped has been around for a long time. Basically, it’s a bike somewhere between a motorcycle and bicycle with both pedals and another form of power. In the past, it’d been a small internal combustion engine, but now we’re seeing electric versions. We reported on the Onyx mopeds not too long ago and now the company Suru has entered the game.
Suru is known for racing an electric superbike called the Amarok, according to Clean Technica. Now, the company is using what it learned from that project on a commuter-focused moped for the masses. Meet the Suru S19 and the Suru Scrambler. Both utilize much of the same equipment and look like quite promising machines.
The numbers for the bike aren’t astounding, but they’re quite respectable for a commuting machine. The bikes can go up to 40 miles per charge thanks to an 816-watt-hour Sony lithium-ion and have a maximum speed of 20 mph thanks to a 48V 500-watt geared brushless DC hub drive. The company plans to sell different size motors depending on the market. Europe gets a 250-watt motor, Canada gets the 500-watt one, and the U.S. gets the largest 750-watt motor.
Suru Cycles calls its bikes e-bikes and leans on them being more bicycles than motorcycles or mopeds. That’s probably a smart move. Most motorcyclists won’t be impressed by a 40-mile range and 20 mph top speed. I think it’s great for an urban environment, especially if you can ride these in a bike lane, but I wouldn’t want to be out on the open road with one.
The price is pretty low, too, which is a plus. The Suru S19 comes with a $2,273 price tag, according to the website. The Scrambler version is the one I’d get, and it costs $2,700. That’s still kind of a lot for a glorified bicycle, but if you look around at other e-bikes on the market, that’s not bad.
If you’ve always wanted to visit the Circuit of the Americas and see some awesome Moto GP action and maybe meet the Doctor himself Valentino Rossi, then you need to enter this contest. If you enter, you have a chance to win a trip to Austin, Texas, to partake in GP festivities at the race track and meet with Rossi.
The winner will be able to bring a friend on this adventure. The flight, hotel, and ticket to the Moto GP are included in the offer. You get to enjoy various activities at one of the most iconic tracks in the world and meet with the 9-time World Champion at one point during the experience.
The event takes place from April 11 to April 14. So, what are you waiting for? Dainese and AGV are putting together the event and the activities the winner will partake in will be connected to those two brands.
While it may seem like a long shot, why not sign up? The chance to go and meet one of the all-time best racers ever is worthy of your signup. Here’s the link to submit your info.
I was really looking forward to testing this helmet due to the lightness. I am religious about wearing a full face helmet and the lighter the better. I also was very interested in the airflow thinking that the Matrix Alpha Streetfighter had the potential to be my go-to helmet for the hot summers here in Phoenix.
The Alpha Streetfighter offers a large chin bar with two large vent openings on each side of the helmet. Most helmets offer a single vent in the center of the chin bar and the Alpha Streetfighter looked like it would provide far more airflow even at lowers speeds on city streets.
The Alpha Streetfighter, as well as the Street FX Streetfighter the other fiberglass helmet offered by Matrix, are both offered in a high gloss white or a matte black finish. The sizes range from XS to XXL. And the standard visor on the Streetfighter is a 3mm adjustable dark race style visor. A quick release micrometric buckle secures the helmet.
The helmet sells for just under $250.00 USD. But this is subject to change due to the exchange rate as the matrix produces are sold from the UK. When I entered my shipping address, the website estimated my shipping to be an additional $32.00 roughly bringing the total cost of the helmet to around $280. This price range puts the Alpha Streetfighter in the mid-range for helmets in the United States and a relatively reasonable cost for a quality helmet.
Fit, Comfort, & Sizing
Fit and comfort are important qualities of any piece of riding gear but size is possibly the most critical for a motorcycle helmet. And because riders need to order this helmet without having any way to try on a sample before the purchase, I feel that accurate sizing and sizing information on the website is critical.
When I put on the Alpha Streetfighter for the first time I was relatively disheartened as I knew immediately that this helmet was not a good fit for me as it felt very loose across my cheeks. I was able to grab the chin bar and slide the helmet up and down several inches.
My hope was that once I secured the chin strap, the helmet would feel more secure and that I would begin to get more comfortable with the fit. This was my first experience with the quick release chin strap fastener and I was thinking that I would really like this simple but useful feature.
As it turned out, muscle memory for the old standard double D ring closure is fairly ingrained in me and the quick release was not really much quicker, but it felt odd. Knowing that I would need to really snug the helmet down with the chin strap, I shortened the strap as much as possible before buckling it. To my dismay, the strap hung a good two finger widths below my chin.
The cheek pads in the Alpha Streetfighter are a good 1.5 inches thick and are removable but the rest of the helmet has only a thin poly liner which appears to be held in place with a matte adhesive or possibly double-sided tape. From what I could tell the liner is not removable which means that it is also not washable or replaceable.
Overall, I was very disappointed with the fit and sizing of the helmet. I have worn assorted Icon, Schuberth, Scorpion helmets and never had an issue with the sizing. I did double back to the website to see if I had misinterpreted the Matrix sizing but the XS is listed as 53-54 cm which is pretty standard.
I also doubled back to look at the helmet, the box and the documentation included in my order to verify that I was shipped the correct size. The box was labeled XS but I was unable to find a size listed inside the helmet or on the packing slip enclosed in the order. My assumption is that I did receive an XS but that the product runs large.
Field of Vision
As I mentioned earlier, I am a die hard full face helmet rider. As such, I am willing to accept a little reduction in my field of vision to get the added protection. I understand that I need to turn my head further to see to the sides and also behind me. But I have never worn a helmet that was so restrictive when looking straight ahead.
The opening at the bridge of the nose is only 1.75 inches and the largest portion of the opening is 2.25 inches which are located about mid cheek.
Peripheral vision is limited to about 1.5 inches at the far left and right of the opening. I found the vision very limited and felt the need to really crank my head around to get a good look when making a turn or changing lanes. There was no way to quickly glance back. Instead, I needed to shift my entire body and rotate at the waist to get a decent view of what was around me.
This limited field of vision also brought up another concern. The chin bar on this helmet is huge. Normally, I have a very difficult time getting my hand inside my helmet to scratch my nose or touch my lips, but in the Alpha Streetfighter, I can slide my entire hand in front of my face and reach my forehead. In some instances that could be considered a benefit, but it can also create an issue.
When turning my head, the front of the chin bar was hitting and catching on the shoulder armor on my jacket. My only solution was to look up as I turned my head and then let the bottom of the chin bar rest on my shoulder which caused the helmet to move on my head. As I turned back to a forward facing position I then had to readjust the helmet to look forward and not be looking into the arched nose portion of the chin bar.
When looking forward, the large chin bar becomes a big obstacle. In a normal riding position, I was able to look forward and see the road clearly but could not shift my eyes down to see even the top of my windscreen.
To look at any gauges on my bike I needed to tilt my head down enough that I was no longer looking at the road in front of me. With any other helmet I have ever worn, I might have needed to move my head slightly, but I could still glance down to the gauges while still seeing some of the road.
Overall, I was very uncomfortable with the limited vision that this helmet offers. I had a feeling of tunnel vision that reminded me of when I first learned to ride. It took some time to learn the skills needed to be a safe rider and to look around and take in all of my surroundings to know what was coming and what my alternatives were in a worst-case scenario.
I feel that wearing this helmet took away my ability to really be looking at the big picture to be the safest rider that I could possibly be.
The Alpha Streetfighter visor is tinted and 3mm thick. There are three positions that the locking mechanism offers.
Riders can have the visor completely open, lowered so that there is about an inch gap between the bottom of the visor and the top of the chin bar or the visor can be fully closed. I rode most of the time with the visor fully closed as I was wearing clear prescription glasses, not sunglasses, and I did notice that there was a thin line of sunlight coming in under the visor.
Sure-Lock Visor System Open & Closed
The Sure-Lock system on the visor is basically a pin on the helmet and a hole in the visor. There is an angle to the edge of the visor that is designed to be a tab to move the visor.
I found it virtually impossible to secure the visor with one hand when I was riding and equally as difficult to open the visor when it was secured with one hand. Part of the issue with opening the visor was related to the fact that the helmet was very loose and would move when I tried to unlatch the Sure-Lock pin system.
A Little Discovery
It wasn’t until I got home and looked more closely at the front of the Alpha Streetfighter that I discovered that the visor does not fit the helmet correctly and sits offset to one side. That could account for some of the light getting past the visor as well as the difficulty in trying to align the pin and hole in the visor to get it locked and unlocked.
As expected, the air flow in this helmet is very good in the face area of the helmet. The extended chin bar and the large vent openings allow for a ton of air to enter the front of the helmet. Unfortunately, there is no way to control the amount of air. Also, the lack of vents in the top of the helmet will result in a pretty sweaty head in the summertime.
The gap between the visor and the front of the helmet also created a whistle at higher speeds. I was able to eliminate the whistle by opening the visor to the setting of about an inch open but that created some additional light and glare. The large opening at the bottom of the helmet did make this helmet overall more loud than most others that I have worn.
I had high expectations for the Matrix Alpha Streetfighter as soon as I picked it up. I was hoping for a great lightweight summer helmet with great airflow. In fact, the helmet is very lightweight and does offer a lot of airflow due to the very large opening at the base of the helmet to accommodate the very large chin bar.
But I could not get past the poor sizing of the helmet and the fact that it created the feeling of tunnel vision. In addition, the ill-fitting visor made me wonder about the quality of the parts and construction that was not visible.
To be fair to the Alpha Streetfighter and the manufacturer, I hope that a properly fitting helmet would eliminate some of the comfort issues that I experienced as well as aiding in the used of the Sure-Lock visor system. But the field of vision will always be too tight for my comfort.
The Matrix website clearly states that the Alpha Streetfighter helmet as suitable to, “Test the limits of your sport bike, sprint car, or go-kart in this commanding composite helmet!” And while I disagree with the helmet’s function as in the motorcycle use case, it could be the perfect protection for a sprint car or a go-kart where you keep your head fairly stationary. But in my opinion, the Alpha Streetfighter is not a great choice for motorcycle riders.
Poor Sizing-VERY large extra small
Extremely limited field of vision
Visor Is Difficult to adjust with one hand
Chin strap is too long and does not secure the helmet
Visor does not close completely to block out light
If all the hubbub about Harley’s LiveWire hasn’t convinced you yet, we’ll just restate the obvious: Electric motorcycles are hot. The last year has seen a flurry of activity, with the announcement or outright release of at least six all-new models, and lots more coming down the pike for 2021. But while everyone else has been busy playing catch-up, longtime electric motorcycle manufacturer Zero Motorcycles has quietly moved the goalposts with its new top-of-the-line SR/F, a potentially game-changing streetfighter bringing industry-leading power, control, and connectivity, and even brandishing something Zero’s never been particularly adept at: an appealing design. All this comes from the brand that arguably created the category; it’s been building electric motorcycles since 2006.
Some of the highlights of the new 2020 Zero SR/F:
Front and center is the SR/F’s new ZF75-10 motor, which spits out up to 110 hp and 140 foot-pounds of torque. (Zero Motorcycles/)
The streetfighter-styled SR/F delivers an eye-popping 140 foot-pounds of torque and 110 hp, all dialed up by Zero’s new ZF75-10 motor and ZF14.4 lithium-ion battery. At a claimed 485 pounds for the standard model that’s still a lot of mass to move, but those numbers hold some promise.
The compact powertrain boasts innovative air-cooling that’s designed to increase longevity, scrap most routine maintenance, and launch the SR/F to that promising (and claimed) top speed of 124 mph. Hang on.
Zero’s Rapid Charge System provides a platform for three independent charging modules. The best case scenario has you up to a 95 percent charge in one hour. (Zero Motorcycles/)
Zero says a single charge can deliver up to a 200-mile range, but that’s only with the addition of the optional Power Tank, which you won’t be able to snag until fall of 2019. In stock configuration, the SR/F Standard and Premium models claim a 161-mile range in the city and around 99 miles on the highway. The inevitable recharge scenario is where the Standard and Premium models differ; the base model has a 3.0-kWh integrated charger while the Premium has a 6.0-kWh system. Zero’s innovative Rapid Charge System is set up to tap into the growing network of Level 2 charge stations around the country. The system provides a platform that allows for up to three independent charging modules for adaptability and the fastest recharge capacity in Zero’s lineup. With all three modules installed, the SR/F can charge from 0 to 95 percent capacity in one hour (but that’s on the Premium model with the 6.0-kWh charging system).
The SR/F comes equipped with a J.Juan dual radial front brake system and enhanced by Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control. (Zero Motorcycles/)
The SR/F uses Zero’s new Cypher III operating system, as well as Bosch’s Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC), both huge enhancements on an electric motorcycle. The Cypher III acts as the central hub, integrating all the systems, from Bosch’s MSC to Zero’s app and dash, while the MSC system—a first on an electric motorcycle—is renowned for dynamic acceleration and improved stability in all conditions. Combined with Cypher lIl, the MSC can throw down superior straight-line ABS and cornering brake control, traction control, and drag torque control.
The SR/F’s myriad ride modes allow the rider to customize the bike’s performance through the intuitive app and dash interface. You can plug in Street, Sport, Eco, Rain, and up to 10 programmable custom modes.
The steel-trellis frame is a huge step forward in the aesthetics department for Zero. (Zero Motorcycles/)
Zero bestows the SR/F with some serious style—dare we say sexiness—thanks to a uniquely designed all-new steel-trellis frame and concentric swingarm. That swingarm also optimizes torque delivery to the rear wheel so the bike can better harness the full capabilities of the new powertrain.
The SR/F is the first “commercially available connected motorcycle on the market.” Which means you can access all kinds of info on your bike, customize ride modes, share data, and more. (Zero Motorcycles/)
The Cypher III OS also means the SR/F is a fully “smart” motorcycle, and the first commercially available connected motorcycle on the market. That connectivity lets the rider monitor Bike Status and Alerts, Charging, Ride Data Sharing, and System Upgrades and Updates, and more.
Riders get alerts on bike status, including interruptions in charging and tip-over or unexpected motion. The “Find my Bike” function allows riders to keep tabs on the motorcycle at all times.
The SR/F makes recharging a snap, with the ability to remotely set charging parameters, including Targeted Charge Levels, notification of State of Charge (SoC), Charge Time Scheduling, and Charge Tracking.
Ride Data Sharing: The motorcycle records bike location, speed, lean angle, power, torque, SoC, and energy used/regenerated. Riders can replay each ride and upload additional content via the app.
New updates and diagnostic capabilities allow the rider to remotely download the latest Cypher III operating system release to ensure the best performance and future improvements.
Here’s the hook though: Connectivity is offered free of charge for the first two years with the purchase of a new SR/F. Presumably it’ll cost you after that.
The SR/F signals a sea change for convenience and range in the electric motorcycle market, but pricing may still be a drag initially. (Zero
An SR/F with a 3-kW Rapid Charger starts at $18,995. The premium SR/F model with 6-kW Rapid Charger, fly screen, heated handgrips, and aluminum bar ends starts at $20,995. Both models can be had in Seabright Blue and Boardwalk Red colorways, and begin shipping to dealers this spring. For more info see zeromotorcycles.com.
The new SR/F will be available in red or blue, and in dealers this spring. (Zero Motorcycles/)
Zero SR/F Standard
Zero SR/F Premium
Highway @ 55 mph:
Highway @ 70 mph:
110 hp @ 5,000 rpm
110 hp @ 5,000 rpm
124 mph (200 kph)
124 mph (200 kph)
Z-Force 75-10 air-cooled, permanent magnet AC motor
High-efficiency 900-amp, three-phase AC controller w/ regenerative deceleration
Z-Force Li-ion intelligent integrated
3.0 kW, integrated
6.0 kW, integrated
Charge time (standard):
4.5 hr. (100%)
2.5 hr. (100%)/2.0 hr. (95%)
Charge time (w/ 6 kW Rapid Charge):
1.8 hr. (100%)/1.5 hr. (100%)
Clutchless direct drive
90T/20T, poly chain HTD carbon belt
Chassis, Suspension, And Brakes
Showa 43mm Big Piston Separate Function fork adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.72-in. travel
Showa 40mm piston, piggyback shock adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.51-in. travel
Most custom shops have a bike or two quietly lurking in the corner. They’re usually personal projects that only get attention during gaps between ‘real’ jobs. And that’s the story of this charming 1974 Ducati Scrambler 350.
Paul and Linda—the husband and wife team at November Customs—first spotted the Ducati when a nearby shop imported it from Spain. They literally bought it as it was being off-loaded, with the intention of giving it a light sprucing. But once they had it road legal and registered in the UK, it got relegated to the corner.
“It sat in the back of the shed for a couple of years waiting to be worked on,” says Paul. “Well—when I say shed, I mean the either the living room or the dining room as well as the shed. We don’t have much space for our bikes, so we have to move them around depending on needs!”
Paul’s not exaggerating—November Customs is run out of a cramped wooden shed in their backyard, in a small town in the northeast of England. But that didn’t stop them from blowing us away with their Zephyr 750 a few weeks back.
When they finally found time to turn screws on the Ducati, it only took a few months to complete. It was supposed to be a simple resto, but it morphed into something more—and we’re glad it did.
To start, Paul and Linda altered the rear of the frame to straighten out the Scrambler’s kicked up tail. Then they modified the original rear mudguard to sit lower in the frame and fit the rear wheel better.
The stock seat pan was too rusted to be useful, so the duo made a new one, capping it off with black leather upholstery. Then they raised the fuel tank’s rear mounts a touch, so that everything would sit nice and level.
Off came the air box, along with any unneeded frame tabs. November then fabricated up an aluminum bell mouth for the carb to breathe through, covering it with mesh to keep debris out. The exhaust system consists of the original headers, cleaned up and wrapped, with an aftermarket muffler.
As you can tell, the motor was treated to a supreme cleanup too. Paul and Linda stripped it, aqua-blasted the cases, and then rebuilt it with a coat of satin black paint. (They originally tried polishing them, but the look wasn’t working.)
Knowing that they weren’t planning to use a rev counter, the couple realized they could mess with the bevel drive casing without any side effects. So they took it off, bored out the center on a lathe, and turned up an aluminum ring for it. With the addition of a Perspex insert, they now had a window for their bevel drive.
It’s not just the motor that looks brand new—November also went to the trouble of updating the suspension. The rear shocks are from Tec, and were originally intended for another project. And the front forks are a set of WPs from either a KTM 125 or 390 Duke (Paul’s not sure which).
Fitting the forks was a serendipitous process. First, the Ducati steering stem could be fitted to the KTM yokes with just a few mods. Then, it turned out that the steering stops on the frame still worked perfectly with the new front end.
Things got even better when Paul was mocking up the front wheel, and discovered that the diameter of the Ducati’s front axle matched the KTM forks perfectly. So he simply trimmed its length to match.
That also meant running the Scrambler’s original drum brake up front, so November shaved off the radial brake mounts on the forks, then refurbished them with new fluids and seals. A brace was made to lock the drum brakes, and to hold a small, custom-made fender.
For the rest of the project, Paul and Linda mixed restored original parts, with carefully selected upgrades. Both the taillight and headlight are original, but they were refreshed with NOS lenses. The taillight also had its plate mount trimmed off before being powder coated, and the front light was repainted and mounted on new brackets.
The cockpit consists of Renthal bars, replica Triumph levers and new cables. The speedo’s a new old style unit from Smiths. To keep things tidy, the switches were relocated to just below the seat, on the right side.
November also sourced and installed new footrest rubbers with Ducati logos molded into them. The tires are Firestone copies: “I know this will get haters saying stuff about them,” admits Paul, “but we like them, and after all we build bikes for ourselves first. We do actually have some enduro tires we can put on though, should we feel that way.”
The frame, swing arm and wheels were all powder-coated gloss black. And the bodywork was painted in an old Jaguar burgundy, complemented by some off-white panels, and original Ducati badges.
November Customs have struck a balance between customizing the Ducati, and still staying in touch with its origins. And that makes this one of the neatest restomods we’ve seen.