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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

South Africa – It is time again to take a look at what new bike models we can expect to see this year, and as always, the bike manufacturers have an array of mouth-watering models waiting to be introduced.

READ: Best bikes of 2017: Top 7 favourites

Let’s take a quick look at some of the new bikes that will enter the market in 2018.

BMW K1600B Grand America:

Image: Supplied

The K1600 Bagger with a top box and footboards to make it even more couch-like. It seems BMW is hell-bent on building a luxury car on two wheels.

BMW C400:

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A maxi scooter with a 400cc single cylinder engine. South Africans don’t share the Europeans’ love affair with big scooters, so we might not see it on our shores (which, in my opinion, would be a pity).

Ducati V4 Panigale:

Image: Supplied

With a MotoGP Desmosedici-derived 1 103 cm³ V4 engine that produces 214 bhp and 124 Nm of torque in a 175 kg frame, this promises to be as much Ducati as any sane person would want to have. 

Ducati Scrambler:

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The Scrambler grows up with a 1 100 cm³ Desmodue 2-valve engine. In addition to 86 bhp and 88 Nm, you also get cornering ABS, traction control and an LCD instrument panel. 

Ducati Multistrada 1260:

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The ‘Strada inherits the XDiavel’s mill which brings it up to 1 260 cm³, as well as suspension and electronics upgrades.

Honda CB1000R:

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The naked version of the new Fireblade has changed very little from the Neo Sport Cafe concept debuted late last year, which makes it a real looker if you like retro bikes.

Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport:

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Slightly heavier than its predecessor, the new version is even more off-road oriented. It sports an increased tank capacity, greater ground clearance, longer-travel suspension and revised plastics. 

Kawasaki Z900RS Café:

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Yet another iteration of the obligatory café racer theme, this time from Team Green. Based on the naked Z900 we tested last year, it should be a hoot to ride.

Kawasaki ZX-10R SE:

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Kawa’s demon-in-a-tux now has semi-active suspension and a two-way quick shifter among a host of tech features. The race for electronic supremacy continues.

Kawasaki H2 SX:

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The manic supercharged 200bhp monster becomes a little more practical with a pillion seat, TFT dash, adaptive cornering lights and a two-way quick shifter. Strictly for advanced students.

KTM 790 Duke:

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The newest Duke is built around an all-new and ultra-compact LC8c parallel-twin engine, which KTM claims produces 103 hp at 9,000 rpm. With a dry weight of 169 kg, KTM’s claim that this new bike is “the ultimate street weapon” doesn’t seem all that unrealistic.

Suzuki SV 650 X:

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Yet another café racer, mechanically identical to the naked SV with the only difference being preload adjusters for the front fork (which apparently the standard SV650 will get as well).

So there you have it –we can look forward to an exciting batch of new models to be launched in 2018. Hold on to your helmets, because it looks like a fun year ahead!

In Motorcycle Terms, what’s the difference?

What we assume and the grammar or language we use to describe our assumption can easily change the thought process and behaviour of others. How we describe collisions will affect not only the behaviour but also the responses to motorcycle crash incidents.

Motorcycle crashes and injuries are predictable, preventable actions. The word ‘accident’ promotes the concept that these incidents are beyond human control.

Motorcycle accidents suggest an inevitability and unpredictability of crash incidents. This term inadvertently and incorrectly suggests that crashes cannot be prevented.

A Crash is no Accident!

It is widely acknowledged that accidents usually result in harm and damage to property, but there is an obscured perception that they happen unintentionally and without malicious intent. However, the term ‘accident’ doe not accurately describe the nature of the crash and has vital limitations.

  • It suggests incidents are random: ‘Accident’ is defined as an event that happens by chance or without apparent or deliberate cause. This term implies that events are unavoidable as opposed to resulting from a choice or greater system failure.
  • It implies that no party is at fault: “Accident’ implies that the incident in question was not preventable not holding anyone accountable. In most crashes, neither of these two assumptions is likely to be correct. Research shows that more than 77% of crashes are due to rider error that could have been avoided.
  • It is imprecise: The term ‘accident’ provides a general explanation that an incident occurred but does not explain why it occurred. The term ‘accident’ is seen as random actions and defined as unforeseen or chance which is an inaccurate use to describe the incident.

The concern is that the term ‘accident’ is still routinely used to describe incidents, a term that has been used for decades by individuals, organisations and government, perhaps as a result of a lack of understanding on the contributing factors that lead to crashes.

Motorcycle crashes are incidents that can be reduced through corrective actions

The government spends millions on local transport infrastructures like roads, railways, etc., apparently making it easier for road users to get around. Even with all that spending, our infrastructure is nowhere near where it needs to be. But there’s another cheap solution that could ease traffic, parking, and the wear on infrastructure: you guessed it, motorcycles. This country has yet to embrace mass-adoption of motorcycles, but the right incentives might change that.

It’s a proven fact that motorcycles and scooters reduce congestion. As it stands today, less than 2% percent of commuting traffic in the S.A. is done on motorcycles. If that was raised to 10%, congestion could drop by 40 percent. If 25% of commuting traffic were motorcycles, congestion could be gone entirely. Gone!

Imagine how much safer, more productive and less miserable we’d all be then.

There’s no way in hell that every South African currently commuting by car or public transport would switch to a motorcycle or scooter, but if a decent amount more could be encouraged or enabled/empowered to do so, everything could move a lot faster for everyone. And enough people just might make the switch for the incentives.

Free Parking

I propose that all urban areas make motorcycle parking free. This encourages people to commute on their motorcycles to work since many businesses are in or near city centres. This, in turn, helps reduce congestion during peak hours. Fewer cars taking up space is a win for everyone.

More motorcycles translate to less congestion, fuel usage and road wear. Bikes are already a lot cheaper to operate than cars, but a few more incentives might get more people onto them.

The point is, we can figure out more creative solutions to SA’s infrastructure problems than just building more roads and toll-ways to accommodate ever-growing traffic congestion. This seems like an obvious one.

Subsidised Training Courses

Recently the RAF launched free rider training around the country, but in main centres only. Imagine a world where the government wants to make riders safer and more skilled. In that world, Department of Transport or Education has graduated courses for riders trying to improve or offer vouchers to attend a course of their choice. Not only would this encourage new people to ride, but it raises the baseline skills of the people riding.

Setup more riding schools and you have a job creation programme on your hands. Win-win again!

Tax Rebates

If the government can fund the replacement of old taxis with new ones, then I propose a tax rebate strategy for newly purchased motorcycles. If you buy a new motorcycle, and use it for transportation purposes, you get a rebate. If you buy an electric motorcycle, like the ones Zero produces, you get an additional tax rebate. Heck, we could even roll in discounts or tax breaks on gear, so everyone’s riding safely too.

Reduced Tolls

Oh, this is a sensitive one! In some countries, motorcycles have reduced tolls and fees, and in some Zip. Zilch. Nada. Free. In our beautiful country, bikes pay the same toll fees than larger and heavier cars do. Don’t you find this ludicrous? I’ll make the modest proposal that tolls should be substantially reduced for motorcycles and scooters.

You may argue that if riders don’t pay tolls, that’s fewer funds for road repairs and construction or corrupt officials’ pockets. But if we ease congestion, in theory, we won’t need as many repairs, to begin with. Right?

Lane Splitting

It is true that some riders will take this to a whole wrong level, but it works. When done safely, with consideration, and only in crawling or stationary traffic, more road users will accept the practise. Fewer vehicles in lanes mean less time between your home and your office. Legal acceptance of lane-splitting will also create mass awareness and improve safety. If bikes fit between cars, let them through!

Johannesburg – Despite an economy that continues to be uncertain at best, 2017 didn’t disappoint when it came to introducing new bikes.

Here, in no particular order, is my list of the bikes that have impressed me the most during the past year:

1 Honda CBR 1000 RR Fireblade

Honda went both backwards and forwards with the new iteration of the venerable ‘Blade.

Back to their initial design philosophy of mid-weight handling coupled with heavyweight punch, and forward by bringing it up to date in the electronics department with the likes of ride-by-wire, cornering ABS and traction control.

Image: Honda

2 BMW G 310 R

BMW’s entry into the commuter market may well have been the surprise of the year.

It impressed me every time I rode it, offering more power than you’d expect, combined with BMW’s build quality and brand equity at price that comfortably competes with other bikes in this category.

3 KTM 1090 Adventure R

While its bigger sibling walked away with the Pirelli SA Bike of the Year title, the 1090 R impressed me with a whopping power increase over its predecessor without sacrificing the latter’s nimbleness.

Image: KTM

It is a competent off-road machine that you wouldn’t mind using as your everyday mount.

4 Kawasaki Z900

Another bike that exceeded my expectations, the Z900 is the type of machine that can serve as a commuter during the week and carve up the twisties or double as a track bike over weekends.

A whole 21kg lighter than its predecessor and with 92kW on tap, the Z900 was one of the best all-round packages of the year.

5 Ducati Supersport

Built around a mildly-modified version of the 937cc Testastretta II V-Twin engine that has also done duty in several other Ducati models, the Supersport offers everyday versatility with Panigale-like looks.

In my review of the SuperSport, I concluded that it was versatile enough to be your only bike, and that it was the model from Ducati’s stable I would be most likely to buy for myself.

6 Suzuki SV650

2017 was a year of surprises, and the SV650 was one of the most pleasant.

Image: Suzuki

A compact body, light weight, accurate steering and a good helping of low-down torque help the now-naked SV650 redefine the word “fun”. It is the kind of bike that you want to throw into corners and accelerate hard out of them for the pure joy of it. 

7 Triumph Street Cup

Riding this one conjures up visions of rushing away from Aces Café and returning before the end of what is currently playing on the juke box. 

Image: Triumph

The Street Scrambler doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is: a slightly modern take on the café racer genre that packs a period feel that few other can match, despite modern conveniences of ABS and traction control.