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Reviews written by Julian Taylor

7 results - showing 1 - 7
 
Motorcycle Reviews
 
Overall rating 
 
4.2
Rider Comfort 
 
3.5
Power Feel 
 
3.0
Handling & Shifting 
 
3.5
Features & Controls 
 
4.0
Appearance 
 
5.0
Confidence Inspiring 
 
5.0
Value 
 
5.0
Reviewed by Julian Taylor    September 30, 2013
Last updated: October 01, 2013
Top 10 Reviewer

2013 Kawasaki Ninja EX300 ABS SE

Kawasaki did a really good job with the larger extra engine power against its competitors. That extra 50cc just provides the mid range with a little more punch and allows you to really go places on this little bike. With the wind behind us and down hill on a closed course we did see 111mph on the speedo.

With the Ninja 300 being an entry level sportbike the riding position is designed to get you use to leaning forward. It is not too aggressive but it does provide the feeling of what it would be like if you were riding a Ninja 636. Riders can imagine themselves getting onto the larger big brother once able to handle everything that the baby Ninja offers.

We tested the bike on the street within normal country road surroundings. We include an interstate where it sat at 80mph very easily, we took it up steep hill’s where you did have to change gear quite a bit, and we took it to the New York Safety Track www.nysafetytrack.com in upstate New York.

This track is brand new it only opened in May so the road surface was very fresh, clean and relatively bump free.

The Ninja 300 swallowed up the twisty tight portions of the track. It is very capable of keeping with the larger midrange bikes with the right pilot on board with it’s 34hp parallel twin engine. It even wheelied ever the wheelie hill turn 7 ever so slightly, if you had a good drive out of turn 6 and yanked on the bars a little. The suspension was a little soft but what do you expect with absolutely no changes to the stock bike. I did find myself grinding mid corner on the first few laps, when I got back to the pits we realized we still had the Hero blobs on, they had to go.

Then there was the tires. This is the only part of the stock bike from Kawasaki I didn’t like. They should have put better rubber on straight from the factory as they sell them. The stock tire is an IRC RX 01-F Road Winner. I understand this is an entry level bike, but what is wrong with sticky rubber for any type of riding?? It provides the rider with confidence, they know the tires are there to help keep the bike solid mid corner, these things were all over the place. They are probably great in the rain, but who cares, it’s a sportbike, we need stability and grip with our dinky little contact patch. So just budget for new tires when you buy this bike.

Pros & Cons

Pros
Light, clean crisp power delivery, flickable, comfortable, smooth gear box, good fuel consumption, sport bike genre, aggressive looking, ABS on selected models, imbedded indicators, cheap insurance.
Cons
Short first gear, constantly full throttle, hero blobs touch down easily, no canceling indicators, cheap tires, brakes don’t bite quick enough. Sounds very quiet with standard stock exhaust.

Rating Details

Rider Comfort
Typical sportbike position slightly forward to the bars pressure to look upwards all the time on your neck. Comfortable with not too much weight on the wrists. Small machine feels very light at 383.7lbs. Decent seat hight not to cramped, legs relatively straight not too bent at the knees. Small frame feels thin between your inseam great height and weight for new riders.
Power Feel & Engine
Obviously, it is a 300cc, 296 engine to be precise. However, the power delivery is very surprising. Straight away you move up the gears to full throttle all the time. You don’t need to use the clutch to move up, just blip the throttle putting the gear shifter under weight and she falls straight into gear.

The power is adequate for interstates, country roads and long straight rides into the sunset type of roads. It accelerates to 80mph easily and the bike also encourages you to stay wide open mid corner. It’s tuned to deliver high rpm’s and is exceptionally smooth. Chain drive needs a little attention. It has an economical riding indicator (ECA) that highlights when you are getting the best most economical riding maximizing fuel economy.

Handling & Shifting
Light, maneuverable, progressive, flickable. Great lean angles allowing for tight cornering at open throttle. Easy to move around with light stationary weight. Gear box very smooth with or without clutch for upshifts. Six speed with slipper clutch function negating any rear wheel hopping when down shifting. Positive neutral finder allows easy location of neutral when coming to a stop, it does sometime produce false neutrals while going up from first to second at full throttle.
Features & Controls
ABS available SE has imbedded indicators with matt paint finish and carbon fiber looking graphic on the body panels. Clear screen allows for a clear view with wide mirrors that allow you to see behind with no adjustment. Digital speedo, with clock, fuel gauge and standard analog rev counter. Twin headlights allow for clear vision at night. matted out black single sided exhaust provides sport bike look but no real sound.
Appearance
Sportbike body work with aggressive styling. Obviously you can tell it is a part of the Ninja family. Dual headlight, minimalist tail section with separate seats add to the sportbike look. Riders seat is narrow and forward-slanting to allow for riders to reach the ground easily.
Confidence Inspiring
Smooth power delivery, low seat height, light weight and extra displacement allows for confidence. Corner speeds can be held with the help of the telescopic front forks and the Uni-Trak rear suspension linkage helps provide predictable sportbike handling which naturally inspires confidence.
Value
Starting at $4,999 for the basic model the EX300 Ninja is great value for money. If you want to spend a little extra up to $5,499 for the Special Edition SE model you get ABS brakes and some wicked graphics.

Description

Description Title
2013 Kawasaki Ninja EX 300 tops the lightweight sportbike class
More Info
The brakes are very interesting. The front is a single Nissin 290mm petal-type disc’s with two-piston caliper and ABS. The entire ABS system only weighs 4.5lbs. The rear is also a single 220mm petal-type disc. They pull you to a stop adequately on the road, no real bite just a smooth progressive stop, but on the track you need more. I found we had some brake fade when using them under heavy pressure. I kept telling myself that this bike is an “entry level lightweight machine” give it a break, so if you look at it that way then the brakes are brilliant..!!!

Don’t expect too much in the way of sound from this bike. The stock exhaust does a great job of masking any sweet engine note that you might hear, and the engine isn’t loud it’s more of a hum. The exhaust does look very nice blending in with the aerodynamic body work and it won’t wake anyone up when you get home late at night. I bet some people will put a Two Brothers or some type of after market pipe on.

The rear suspension has a Uni-Trac rear suspension linkage system. It provides predictable sportbike handling and comfort. The rear shock features a 5-way adjustable preload system to allow you to manage the ride height and adjustability when carrying a passenger.

Extras

Extras
Givi www.giviusa.com make a very neat small 15 ltr tank bag for this bike. It comes with the Tanklock tank ring system that just fits to the tank. You remove the bolts from the tank O ring and install the Tanklock ring. Then the bag simply clicks into place to allow for a very secure tank bag that won’t scratch your tank.

The bag has water proof hinges, it’s reflective with a fluorescent rain cover. It has a waterproof bag inside the bag to store contents and keep them from getting wet. It also has a map and iPhone pocket on the top.

When we rode with the bag it really didn’t feel like it was there, and at only $169.00 for the bag it is very worth while for the extra storage.
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Motorcycle Reviews
 
Overall rating 
 
3.5
Rider Comfort 
 
4.0
Power Feel 
 
4.0
Handling & Shifting 
 
3.5
Features & Controls 
 
3.5
Appearance 
 
3.5
Confidence Inspiring 
 
3.0
Value 
 
3.0
Reviewed by Julian Taylor    August 24, 2013
Last updated: September 09, 2013
Top 10 Reviewer

BMW F 800 GS

Most people when they buy a bike really don’t think about whether it will be truly capable on and off road. BMW have built their Dual Sport heritage specifically for the road rider that would love and could take their bike onto the dirt. This middle of the road sportier model in the GS family is as capable at commuting to a downtown city as it is on a fire road or mountain pass. The mid range power of the engine allows the bike to go anywhere you want it to with no concerns of getting bogged down or running out of power. The acceleration of the motorcycle allows you to take full advantage while overtaking groups of slower vehicles or making it up a steep off road incline. Just drop the gearbox open the throttle and the bike will quickly but not overwhelmingly take you to the next level.

In typical BMW GS Style this bike has all of the bells and whistles you could ask for. It comes with ABS as standard. BMW’s Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) as standard, which allows you to chose your comfort level and suspension set up on the fly. As an added extra you can buy the Traction Control (ASC) that has become synonymous with BMW Motorcycles over the years.

The brakes are top notch too. With a Brembo braking system the front dual disc, floating arrangement with double-piston allows you to single finger brake both on and off road. They bite straight away with just enough force to inspire confidence but not too much to over-power the front end and drop the nose too aggressively. The back brakes are single-piston floating calipers with ABS on all models.



F 800 GS adapting to everyone’s height requirements

Motorcycle ride height has always been an issue for anyone that has a short inside leg measurement, especially if they want to own any bike in the GS line. However, the available seats on the F 800 GS allow for shorter riders to be able to ride this bike but you do lose a few valuable features if you install the lower seat. See the other road testers description of what has to change to fit the lower seat (add link to Marks piece here)The standard seat height is 34.6 inches. But with the variable seat options you can now take it down as low as 32.3 inches. Obviously, it is not a cruiser but it does adapt to one of the lower configurations within this category. The seats also come in a couple of different shapes for comfort and off road needs. There is the High seat which is the standard seat, the Low which is easier for riders to get their feet on the ground, the Rally seat which is much harder for off-road riding and the comfort seat with a wider broader surface with more padding for comfort which was the one on our bike.


General Thoughts

The suspension allows for any type of road surface. Our test included backcountry roads that were tight and undulating, interstate riding and city commuting type terrain. The F 800 GS riding position provided clear concise visibility all around, even mid corner or looked over you shoulder to overtake, visibility was never an issue especially with the upright handle bar position and clear visible mirrors.

On the interstate sitting at 90 miles an hour was easy for this machine. Wind protection was adequate but I can imagine the larger screen would be a little more enjoyable on the highway. We were able to roll the throttle on in sixth gear with a clean crisp throttle response from the electronic fuel injection that never lacked excitement or power keeping a constant pace and never running out of breath.

Off road all of the above still applies. We did some fire roads and ideally knobby tires would have been our preference but you still got the idea what this bike is very capable in an off road environment.

Pros & Cons

Pros
Engine power, suspension balance, visibility, Ride height, smooth gearbox.
Cons
Ride height for shorter people, factory screen on the interstate, little top heavy at very slow speeds.

Rating Details

Rider Comfort
With the comfort seat installed the F 800 GS is very rider friendly. Rider’s back is straight and the seat has a lip for added back support. Soft seat allow rider to feel the padding underneath with extra obvious comfort. The bars are wide allowing for stretched arms and a very comfortable posture.
Power Feel & Engine
Power delivery is instant. The 798 cc engine is responsive and punchy. Throttle response is crisp, clean and progressive with the chain drive allowing for instant power transfer to the rear wheel. Dropping the gearbox allows for more higher rev power delivery on an overtaking maneuver but is not needed at interstate speeds.
Handling & Shifting
Concise progressive steering. The suspension provides loads of feel on any type of road due to the wide handlebars. The upside down forks deliver precise feedback from the front wheel and the ride height provides a very easy flick-able highly visible riding position.

Gear shifting is typical BMW, very precise, clean and easy. Every gear change even under hard acceleration slots into place with no resistance. Clutch less changes are very easy upwards with a blip of the accelerator. Down shifts under hard braking with front brake only engaged gave a little back wheel hop, when the back brake is applied at the same time the down changes are much smoother.
Features & Controls
Clear analog rev counter and speedometer. Digital display for suspension setting’s fuel and warning levels.
Appearance
Dual Sport/Enduro heritage is very evident in the design. High front nose, rugged engine protection, high seat all provide the unique design that is a BMW GS. The width of the bike is smaller than the larger 1200cc Adventure big brother and it is evident when you are aboard. Rugged looking with a real off road feel and very comfortable for the everyday road.
Confidence Inspiring
The height of the machine is the only place you can lack confidence if you have a short inside leg measurement. The wide-handlebars and straight back riding position allow for clear concise movements that pin-point the bike to go exactly where you want it to go. The ground clearance allows for any type of terrain which again inspires confidence.
Value
BMW’s are never the cheapest of motorcycles but that reflects in the quality. Sticker shock can be evident on this machine if you want extra’s. Starting price includes ABS at $12,090 but with some accessories added and maybe the lower seat you quickly put the machine in the mid $16K range out the door.

Description

Description Title
798 cc engine, water-cooled 4-stroke in-line two-cylinder engine, four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication.
More Info
BMW F 800 GS is truly an all-round rider friendly machine. Suspension will handle anything, ride height let’s you go anywhere, the power delivery allows for quick responsive overtaking and the powerful headlights provide great visibility at night.

Be careful if you are a shorter rider when moving the bike slowly the fully fueled weight of 472 lbs (214) kg can catch you quickly. As soon as it is moving the weight disappear and its plain sailing just a little top heavy at very slow speeds.

798 cc engine, water-cooled 4-stroke in-line two-cylinder engine, four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts, dry sump lubrication.

85HP at 7,500 rpm and 61 lb/ft of max torque at 5,750 rpm.

Electronic intake pipe injection and a digital engine management system. Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-3.

Clutch is a multiple wet disc clutch submerged in oil and mechanically operated.

Front suspension is upside-down telescopic fork. The rear suspension is cast aluminum dual sided swingarm, WAD strut (travel related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable at handwheel, rebound damping adjustable.

Wire spoke wheels. Front brake dual disc, floating brake discs with double-piston floating calipers, ABS. Rear brake single disc, single-piston floating caliper, ABS

Unladen weight, road ready, fully fueled 472 lbs (214 kg). Dry weight 421 lbs (191 kg)

4.2 black porn gallon tank.

Extras

Extras
F 800 GS accessories and Givi Luggage system

The F 800 GS comes with a standard clear screen, with the option of a touring windscreen that is a little larger for better wind protection. It is also available in a tinted version. Akrapovic make a slip on end can for the factory exhaust that has a deeper note and is considerably lighter than the stock system. Our model had a crash bar fitted on the engine. It looked neat and robust in stainless steal providing protection both underneath the bike and around each side and in front of the exhaust.

Our press bike did not have any luggage attached but BMW do have the Vario Luggage system available with black plastic cases and a bow shaped bar system for changing case capacities, a back rest pad for the Vario top-case. There is also an aluminum luggage system available as an OEM accessory.

For this test though we chose to go down the after market parts route and fit a Givi V46NT Monokey Tech Case 46 Ltr. It fit perfectly, we removed the back OEM platform added some spacers that were supplied by Givi, put the platform back and fit the back box. It took all of five minutes. I highly recommend Givi after market parts for this bike.
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Accessories
 
Rating 
 
5.0
Reviewed by Julian Taylor    September 26, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer

No tickets

This product really works. Everytime a police car came towards us with the radar detector on it went off, and with loads of time to spare.

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Motorcycle Reviews
 
Overall rating 
 
3.2
Rider Comfort 
 
4.0
Power Feel 
 
3.0
Handling & Shifting 
 
3.0
Features & Controls 
 
2.5
Appearance 
 
2.5
Confidence Inspiring 
 
3.5
Value 
 
4.0
Reviewed by Julian Taylor    September 19, 2012
Last updated: September 26, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer

2012 Triumph Sprint GT1050 Comfortable Ride with Sportbike DNA

If you want a fully blown tourer motorcycle this is not your machine. If you want a bike that will allow you to ride the twisties and feel every curve while dropping the gear box and maybe even blipping the clutch as you enter the corner, and at the same time having somewhere to put your partner on the back and all the luggage, this is the bike for you.

The sporty design and forward leaning position lends this bike to a sporty tourer than a tourer-tourer. You will have no issue covering a lot of miles on this bike and it’s very comfortable but the weight is still on your wrists as against your seat. We rode over 1,100 miles in three days with no ache’s or pains and a great smile on our faces whenever we got the keys to this bike.

The engine is situated high on the chassis so the bike does feel quite heavy and with a seat height of 815mm (32.1) if you have a short inside leg measurement like I have be careful when maneuvering on gravel or a downward slope.

The power delivery through the Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection system is clean and crisp and the acceleration is adequate enough to keep up with other sportbike riders, but you do have to work the gear box. Sixth gear is high, so unless you are over 75 miles an hour the bike feels sluggish in high gears to respond. Drop it down to fourth and crack the throttle and you can feel power.

Pros & Cons

Pros

Sportbike feel with the comfort of a tourer
Crisp clean mid range acceleration
Responsive throttle
Stable geometry defining cornering position
Luggage panniers 31 liter capacity each side
Single swing arm with preload hand adjuster
1050cc engine with 128bhp
Clear mirror view
Comfortable seat for long distance

Cons
Top heavy 1050 engine sits high in the chassis making it top heavy at slow speed
Runs out of power in top low down rev range

Rating Details

Rider Comfort
Very comfortable machine, not too much forward lean that hurts your neck or shoulder blades, and just enough to feel like you are sitting over the tank. Comfortable seat that took about 4 hours before your backside feels a bit numb. Mirrors brake and clutch leaver’s all adjustable and heated seat with two level settings.
Power Feel & Engine
Enough power on hand with relatively good fuel consumption if ridden within mid range, just over 200 miles to a tank but if you work the gear box to keep the rev range in the punchy mid range torque area the fuel consumption drops quickly. Highway riding constantly in 6th gear rolling on and off the throttle delvers the best fuel consumption. If you have to overtake quickly dropping down two gears is required every time.
Handling & Shifting
The bike has Showa 43mm cartridge forks with dual rate springs and adjustable
preload, 127mm travel. The bike encourages you to ride like a sports tourer. The
handling is designed so that you enter the corner look through it to the exit tip the
motorcycle move your body and accelerate out of the corner while at the same
time always feathering the accelerator or brake as the corner tightens and the bike
follow the line of the corner to get you out safely. The handling is a little soft the
suspension setting are stock. Turn up the spring by hand under the seat and you can
instantly feel a much firmer suspension which improves the handling.

The gear box does have a little clunkiness to it, but it isn’t anything you won’t’ get
use to. Clutchless changes are O.K while accelerating however, make sure you have
the clutch lever under a strong load before you reduce the power it does jerk a little
and the more power on the clutch leaver the faster it goes into gear.

Two up or full of luggage and the handling is much heavier. Also the top heaviness of
the engine mounting becomes very obvious at low speed, so do be careful when you
have a passenger and turning round.

The brakes are on the front Twin 320mm floating discs, Nissin 4-piston calipers,
ABS and on the rear Single 255mm disc, Nissin 2-piston sliding caliper, ABS. Never
really needed the ABS on our loaner, but I did notice that the brakes could do with
a little more bite. I think if I was to buy one I would change out the brake pads
and install Sintered Metal pads from Gold Fren or Vesrah a good after market pad
manufacturer.
Features & Controls
The Triumph Sprint has some unique features. Heated grips and heated seats, with a space ship type cockpit design. Analogue and digital gauges with a very clear speedo and tachometer and a digital fuel tank bag in place.

Hard storage side cases are standard with the top box and tank bag being extra. You have to carefully open the side boxes otherwise they will drop and scrape on the ground. Plenty of room for a full face helmet even in the side boxes.

Very clear mirrors that work without having to lift up your arm and look through your armpit. Comfortable seat that is designed to let you slide across when in twisty sections with a slight raised rear seat for your pillion and top stop you sliding backwards under hard acceleration.

One annoying part of the this machine is the way your left heal touches the swingarm when riding if your foot is resting on the peg. The only time I could stop my heal from rubbing was to make sure my foot was on the ball of my foot, which is fine for canyon or twisty road riding but just sitting on a highway it was a little uncomfortable.
Appearance
Available in two colors, Pacific Blue and Aluminum Silver. The Pacific blue certain stands out.

Very sleek nose with integrated headlight and integrated mirrors. It is a good looking machine, the lines are clean and it’s well designed, very aerodynamic styling and when all of the bags are on it really does look the part for touring two up and long distances.
Confidence Inspiring
The only portion of this bike that will remove confidence is when you are going slow under low RPM’s, it feels heavy. When you are moving and working up and down the gearbox it inspires confidence to handle it into a corner. It’s stable under acceleration and very comfortable. Just be careful of the weight low down.
Value
At $13,399.00 excluding tax and delivery it is good value for money. I would add the back box and a tank bag and probably change the brake pads but apart from that all in all you are getting a lot of bike for your money. Now with them no longer importing them in the U.S even though they are still building them in Europe you might be able to get a real deal on one of them. Say $8,500.00 used with say 3,000 miles would be a real bargain.

Description

More Info
The Sprint GT is designed to allow you to enjoy the open road with a great amount of clean crisp mid range power out of the inline-3 cylinder engine. Handling is very predictable if a little heavy at slow speeds, and if you want to climb all over the bike into fast corners the responsiveness rewards the active rider. However, if you want to sit and stay planted in the seat the design and engine will whisk you along but you will have to work the gear box though.

Triumph is an iconic brand synonymous with history and European manufacturing. This newer model is no exception; everyone you come in contact with on this machine wants to find out more about the history.
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Gear
 
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Comfort 
 
3.0
Style 
 
3.0
Reviewed by Julian Taylor    August 09, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer

AGV Sport Telluride Textile Sport Pants waterproof but needs belt hoops

Very comfortable and very waterproof. Wish they had belt hoops though.

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Gear
 
Overall rating 
 
3.5
Comfort 
 
4.0
Style 
 
3.0
Reviewed by Julian Taylor    August 03, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer

Breeze Perforated Leather Jacket, great summer jacket keeps you cool.

This jacket keeps you very cool in the heat with the perforated holes on the front, back and arms. Don't get caught in a rain storm it's not waterproof obviously due to the holes.

Very comfortable and stylish when matched with a suitable pair of textiles pants.

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Gear
 
Overall rating 
 
2.5
Comfort 
 
3.0
Style 
 
2.0
Reviewed by Julian Taylor    October 31, 2011
Last updated: October 31, 2011
Top 10 Reviewer

Staying safe but enjoying the elements

The helmet was comfortable, and I still had the wind in my face while riding in States that I had to have a helmet in. The strap just sat comfortably under my chin and I really couldn't feel it was on my head. Cheap too at $110.00 for faster speeds I did need some goggles.

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