≡ Pages

Hot off the press…

Johannesburg – While the BMW G 310 R makes for a very good, highway-capable commuter, it may lack a bid of attitude in the eyes of some riders.

Happily, I can report that the newly-launched G 310 GS doesn’t suffer from that problem at all. Early in February, BMW Motorrad SA took the local media to George and gave us the opportunity to experience the 310 GS not just in urban conditions, but also on the untarred Montagu Pass.

My first sighting of the 310 GS brought a surprise; the bike was much taller than I had expected. It boasts typical GS looks with a long-travel suspension, a huge rear carrier and the ubiquitous GS ‘beak’ over the 19″ front wheel. In short, it looks like an adventure bike, with only the mag wheels giving you a clue that this bike is not intended to stray too far off the beaten path.

Seating position is upright and neutral, although (if you want to ride standing up), the handlebars are a tad low in their standard position. The positive spin-off is that they are comfortably within reach when you’re seated.

The seat itself is also extremely comfortable, to the extent that after a long day’s riding, my nether regions didn’t feel particularly tired. This is extremely welcome if, like me, you do inter-city commuting and routinely spend long periods on the bike at a stretch.

The 313 cm³ liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine, straight from the G 310 R, has four valves and two overhead camshafts and boasts electronic fuel injection.

A salient feature of the engine is the fact that its cylinder is tilted to the rear and its cylinder head is rotated by 180 degrees, with the intake at the front, and exhaust at the rear. BMW Motorrad says that this configuration “follows the logic of a straight, power-enhancing supply of fresh air-fuel mixture and also has positive consequences in terms of the bike’s architecture.”

The engine has a power output of 25kW at 9500 rpm and a maximum torque of 28Nm at 7 500 rpm, and riding it I got the distinct impression that a generous helping of the latter is available from fairly low down in the rev range.

Like its road-only sibling, the GS is surprisingly responsive for its engine size, making it a pleasure to ride in traffic. It is equally at home at highway speed – I was actually able to coax just over 150km/h (indicated) out of it lying flat on the tank.

While it isn’t intended as a hard-core off-roader, the GS didn’t feel out of sorts on dirt roads. It is built around a tubular steel spaceframe that gives it good torsional rigidity. This makes the bike very stable on rough surfaces, and also gives it accurate steering response. The front suspension takes the form of a solid upside-down fork, while at the rear an aluminium swinging arm is suspended with a direct-mounted spring strut. The standard ABS can be deactivated for dirt-road riding.

The fact that the G 310 range is manufactured in India may have some readers concerned about quality but looking at the bike closely doesn’t reveal anything to be worried about. The powder-coat finish on the frame is silky smooth, and the switchgear has a high-quality feel with positive operation. Keeping a close eye over the manufacturing process, BMW Motorrad seems confident that the bike won’t hurt their reputation for producing premium motorcycles.

BMW owners have for long been members of a rather exclusive club but Beemers have become a lot more accessible of late. In view of the fact that South Africans seem to prefer adventure bikes over roadsters (even if they don’t do a great deal of off-road riding), coupled with a launch price  of only R79 650, I am expecting the G 310 GS to do very well. 

If I may indulge in a cliché, justifiable because it is true in this case, I would say that the G 310 GS is a lot of bike for the price.

In no way does this report represent the total Motorcycle Crashes that occurred in 2018; this is based on reported crash data, collected from trusted sources. Insufficient or inaccurate crash data have been excluded from this report.

Period: 1 January 2018 to 31 January 2018
Compiled by: Hein Jonker (Chief Instructor and Founder of the Motorcycle Safety Institute of S.A.)

MOC: Motorcycle Only Crash
MVC: Motorcycle Vehicle Crash
MPC: Motorcycle Pedestrian Crash

Only the monthly Summary Report is made public, the more detailed daily statistics are kept off-line and is available on request.

Johannesburg – When Honda launched the latest version of the CBR 1000 RR Fireblade last year, it wasn’t just a celebration of the ‘Blade’s 25th anniversary, but also the first major upgrade of their flagship bike in several years.

To up the ante in the face of increasingly stiff competition, the Winged H engineers focused on three areas: more power, less weight and improved electronics.

For the rider, the electronics part of the design brief comes together in the ‘Blade’s full-colour TFT instrument panel. It offers an easy way to switch between, and customise, the various riding modes.

But underneath this convenient interface, the CBR hides a new cutting-edge electronics package equipped with a five-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which measures what the bike is doing in all planes every 10 milliseconds.

The IMU works in conjunction with the ECU and Ride by Wire system – the latter being Honda’s first venture into this territory on an in-line-four. Another source of input is the ABS system with new, more compact modulators and wheel speed sensors which talk to the IMU. Included in the electronic rider aids is rear lift control, which helps keep the rear wheel on the ground under heavy braking.

The second component of the design brief is lightness. With a wet weight of 196 kg, it is evident that the engineers have done well in this department. This is obviously a boon on the track, it is no less beneficial in day-to-day riding, which is what many superbikes as relegated to for the majority of their lives. It makes the bike surprisingly easy to deal with in traffic, allowing you to lane-split with pinpoint accuracy. Of course, superbikes are designed for fast cornering, and the ‘Blade impressed me with how well it kept inertia under control when ridden in anger.

And that brings us to the third parameter: more power. While the ‘Blade may not be up there with the best of them in the power department, it has received a very welcome boost over its predecessor, with 142kW on tap. But more important than raw power is the way it deals with the power delivery over the entire rev range, and the CBR is pretty good at that.

Although its peak torque is only developed at 11 000 rpm a good chunk is available low down in the rev range, which helps to limit gear shifts when you’re stuck in slow-moving traffic. The review bike did have a bit of a flat spot at just under 3000 rpm, but above that it delivers power in quite a linear fashion with a discernible kick at around 7500 rpm, before taking off like a scalded cat at around 9000 rpm.

Between the Showa BPF inverted telescopic forks and Balance Free Rear Cushion (BFRC) rear shock, the ‘Blade cheerfully dealt with anything I threw at it during handling tests, while leaving me with the impression that there was a huge margin left which, in all honesty, I didn’t have any desire to explore on public roads. Both ends are fully adjustable for spring preload and rebound/compression damping, although the bike handled so well out of the box that I didn’t feel a need to fiddle with the factory settings. 

After spending a week with the test bike, I walked away with the impression that Honda has done well bridging the generation gap between the Fireblade and its competitors. The new ‘Blade handles and performs better than its predecessor, without sacrificing the user-friendliness it has long been known for. Kudos must be given to Honda for updating it to modern standards without losing the well-roundedness that has made the Fireblade so popular.


Manufacturer: Honda
Model: CBR 1000 RR Fireblade

Type:  Liquid-cooled four-stroke 16-valve DOHC inline-four cylinder
Displacement: 999 cm­­­³
Maximum Power: 141 kW @ 13 000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 114 Nm @ 11 000 rpm
Fuel supply system: PGM-DSFI electronic fuel injection
Fuel type: Premium Unleaded 95+ Octane RON
Fuel consumption: 6.8 L/100 km (actual)

Type: Manual 6-speed sequential
Final drive: Chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 1125 X 720 X 2065
Kerb weight: 196 kg

Passengers: 2 
Fuel tank: 16L

Front: Dual four-piston radial Tokico calipers, 320mm discs, sintered pads, Dual channel ABS
Rear: Single-piston caliper, 220mm disc, sintered pads, Dual channel ABS

Front: 43mm Showa Big Piston Front Fork with preload, compression and rebound adjustment, 120mm stroke
Rear: Unit Pro-Link with gas-charged HMAS damper featuring 10-step preload and stepless compression and rebound damping adjustment, Rear Balance Free Rear Cushion

Tyre, front: 120/70 – 17
Tyre, rear: 190/50 – 17

In the majority of crashes, inappropriate speed for the circumstances is a factor. Here are the most common causes of motorcycle crashes in South Africa:

  • Right of way violations – drivers who look but fail to see.

The most common cause of a motorcycle crash is when a driver looks but fails to see a motorcyclist approaching a junction and pulls out across their path, mainly on urban roads at lower speeds.

  • Loss of control on a bend, corner or curve on a rural road.

Crashes on bends are often the rider’s fault. They are more likely to be fatal because of the speeds involved as even a small mistake can result in loss of control. Crashes on bends account for around 12% of all motorcycle crashes, greater on left-hand bends than on right-handers. Most occur on unfamiliar roads and 19% of crashes are on rural roads, involving only the motorcyclist and no other traffic.

  • Errors in judgement at low speed.

This type of crash tends to result from poor bike-handling skills or loss of concentration, and often leads to injuries as the rider falls off the bike. Most riders think they are both safer and more skilful than the average rider – but we can’t all be right.

Learn from every experience

Most riders involved in a crash do not accept that they contributed to it. If you think that you did not help to cause a crash, you will also think that you have nothing to learn from it. Your riding behaviour won’t change!

To become a better rider, the first step is to recognise the resistance in ourselves to accepting responsibility. The second step is to accept every near miss and crash as a learning opportunity to decide how you can avoid the same mistake in future.

For example: crash statistics show that all riders are at risk from the actions of other road users who fail to see them. If you have a ‘look but failed to see’ crash, you can choose how to view it. Is it all the responsibility of the careless driver? Or can you take action to reduce your own vulnerability?

You can choose to reduce your chances of a ‘look but failed to see’ crash by anticipating this potential hazard whenever you ride.

Change the way you think, and you will change the way you ride!

A strong core, the muscles around your waist and spine, is key to develop a good sense of balance. Sure, some say that balance is affected by the inner ear, but years of training experience lead me to believe or trust in the core. I believe that if your lower body starts to wiggle, your mind is locked in uncertainty causing you to look down and lose balance. If however, your core muscles were strong, your lower body would be locked in and not cause the upper body or your mind to become distracted.

What happens below the waist should not affect the rest of the body above the waist.

Riding a bicycle is the No.1 option to learn balance on 2-wheels, failing that, the method below will, first of all, determine your balance abilities and also help develop a strong core in order to improve a good sense of balance. This will, therefore, speed up the process of and improve your ability to ride a scooter or motorcycle more effectively.

You’ll need:

  1. A willing participant
  2. Broomstick of approx. 80-100cm long