Tag Archives: motorbikes

New Car-safety Tech Benefits Both Drivers and Bikers

New Car-safety Tech Benefits Both Drivers and Bikers

Many road users have a love/hate relationship with motorbikes. Used for a myriad reasons, including personal transportation, courier services, or takeaway food deliveries, they are an important part of our traffic eco-system, and fulfil a critical economic and mobility function around the world.

All licensed vehicles in South Africa have the right to free and fair use of public roads. Buses, minibus taxis, cars, motorbikes, bicycles – all road users are provided for in the National Road Traffic Act, and regulations are in place to ensure everyone’s safety. But, because we live in a society where many road users don’t adhere to the rules of the road, a simple work or school commute can be hazardous.

In South Africa, children as young as 16 can get a learner’s licence for a motorcycle with an engine capacity up to 125 cc. Because of the convenience and sense of independence they offer, motorbikes, scooters, and mopeds are a popular mode of transport for many teenagers, in both urban and rural areas. As with cars, you don’t need a licence to buy a motorcycle, but you do need a licence to ride it on public roads.

Unfortunately, motorcycles offer far less physical protection for riders than cars offer drivers and their passengers. Without seatbelts and air bags, bike riders are at significant risk of sustaining serious injuries in an accident. The impact of a car hitting a bike can be severe, and often fatal, as the vast majority of the force is absorbed by the bike and the rider.

Drivers should always check mirrors and blind spots, especially before changing lanes or turning. Drivers should also always use indicators when changing lanes or merging with traffic. And because bikes accelerate, turn, and stop more quickly than other vehicles, drivers should increase following distance to four seconds, so the bike has enough space to manoeuvre or stop in an emergency.

In all major South African cities, where highways often become parking lots, and main arterioles frequently become gridlocked, it is common to see motorbikes whizzing between slow or stationary cars. Frustrated drivers need to understand that intentionally blocking or hindering a bike in a way that could cause harm to the rider, or opening a car door to obstruct a bike is illegal. This ‘lane splitting’ by a rider on a dotted or broken line is actually legal – provided it is done in a safe and sensible manner, at a reasonable speed, and the rules of the National Road Traffic Act are adhered to. Lane splitting by a rider on a solid line, however, is dangerous and illegal. As is riding in the SD lane (suicide lane), next to the fast lane by the concrete barrier, as the rider has to cross the barrier line to access this lane.

“According to reported crash data collected from the Motorcycle Safety Institute of South Africa, 166 lives were lost to motorcycle accidents on our roads last year,” says Derek Kirkby, Training Director at Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) South Africa.

The vast majority involved a bike and another vehicle (464), followed by those involving a bike only (163), and lastly those involving a bike and a pedestrian (14). Kirkby stresses that these figures do not represent the total number of motorcycle accidents, as insufficient or inaccurate crash data was excluded.

While there are several major factors contributing to the problem – traffic congestion, lack of safety education, and less than ideal road conditions – most accidents are simply a result of reckless driving and failure of road users to comply with traffic laws.

Innovative auto and mobility companies like Ford boast a rapidly growing number of car-safety technologies to help make the roads safer for everyone. Currently these include: integrated adaptive cruise control, lane departure, blind spot warning, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability programme, different drive modes (e.g. rain, gravel/off road, and tar), reverse cameras and park assist, adaptive headlights, daytime running lights, heads up display, and more.

In development at Ford is a spot lighting technology that uses an infrared camera to help detect cyclists, pedestrians, and animals. This Camera-Based Advanced Front Lighting can help the driver when travelling in an unfamiliar area at night. At roundabouts it can make it easier to see exits, and spot whether unexpected hazards, like cyclists or pedestrians, are crossing the road.

For driving at night, some Ford models already offer Glare-Free High Beam technology with adaptive LED headlamps. The system detects cars and motorbikes with visible headlamps and taillights ahead, and fades out parts of the light that could dazzle them, while helping the driver by maintaining maximum illumination in other areas.

Various Ford models also offer a Lane Keeping System, which uses a camera mounted behind the windshield’s rear view mirror to monitor road lane markings and detect unintentional drifting toward the outside of a lane. If the camera detects an impending drift, the driver is warned in the instrument cluster display and vibration of the steering wheel.

Other models have Cross Traffic Alert (CTA) technology, which works in combination with Ford’s other parking assist technology, such as rear-view cameras or 360-degree cameras. CTA uses two radar sensors to monitor the area behind and on either side of the car while the transmission is in reverse. These systems use the audio system and the instrument cluster display to warn the driver if pedestrians, cars, or motorbikes are detected.

“While all these new technologies can help both cars and bikes stay safer on the road,” says Kirby, “the onus is on every road user to stay alert and practice defensive driving, as no technology can replace a focused mind.”

DSFL is a driving skills programme for newly-licensed drivers, as well as a means of improving the defensive driving ability of experienced drivers. It is funded by the not-for-profit Ford Motor Company Fund as an effective method of improving driving skills globally, and so contributing to road safety.

Via: Ford Motor Company


60 years of the Harley-Davidson Sportster

The Harley-Davidson® Sportster™ has been in continuous production for 60 years, quite a feat when you consider how much the world has changed since it debuted – tagged with its own name, very unusual for H-D at the time – in 1957.

Born out of increasing competition from British manufacturers it used the K model (1952-56) with its unit construction crankcases but replaced the side valve heads of the 55ci (883cc) engine with overhead valves. It also retained the front and rear hydraulic suspension, advanced for the time.

Designated XL the Sportster platform instantly proved its worth, in terms of sales and potential for adaption. And as such it’s motorcycle that’s constantly evolved, responding to market needs as well as setting trends. A case in point the XLCH (Competition Hot) Sportster of 1958 had off-road style and function, plus a bobbed rear fender and the peanut tank from the ’48 125xx Model 5 – and wouldn’t look out of place on today’s city streets…

The XR750: Beautiful, brutal and built to win 

Through the ’60s the Sportster gently moved with the times and by the end of the decade the XLH had gone gently custom. But 1970 saw the advent of the legendary XR750. Brutally beautiful the XR750 was built to conquer the dirt or Tarmac; a 1969 rule change allowed 750cc OHV engines to race in the US and H-D needed a competitive bike. The XR750 was it, and went on to prove the ultimate winning machine.

Also read: Harley-Davidson introduces the 2017 Street-Rod®

Cal Rayborn at the ’72 Trans-Atlantic races on the Brands Hatch short circuit, riding a revised version of the XR750 won 3 out of the 6 races, set a new lap record and amazed everybody watching. And for three decades in American Dirt Track racing the XR-750 carried racers into the winners’ circle and record books. Racers like the ever popular, near legendary Jay Springsteen, Chris Carr, Ricky Graham, Mert Lawwill and Kevin Atherton have thrilled fans astride the thundering XR. And who can ever hope to match the nearly one hundred victories of nine-time champion Scott Parker, mostly on XRs?

The ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and ’00s 

The 1972 XL used a 1, 000cc version of the familiar ‘Iron Head’ engine. By 1976 the gear change had moved to the left and the rear brake to the right. In 1977 the XLCR (Cafe Racer) reset expectations and with its XR750-inspired rear suspension, new frame, triple disc brakes, cast aluminium wheels and rearset footpegs was the sportiest Sportster ever made up to that point.

1983 saw further emphasis on performance with the advent of the XR1000, created by grafting the XR750 engine’s cylinders and heads onto the existing Sportster bottom end – it was the nearest thing to a road-going XR750 you could buy.

By 1986 the Iron Head Sportster engine was consigned to the history books, thanks to the introduction of the Evolution Sportster engine in two capacities; 883cc – with an identical bore and stroke to the original ’57 design – and 1100cc (this was replaced two years later with a 1200xx engine). 1987 also saw introduction of the XLH883 Hugger, recognition both of riders with shorter inseams and growing demographic of female riders. All Sportsters got 5-speed gearboxes in 1991, and all but the base 883 gained belt final drive.

In 2000 the XL1200S Sportster Sport was fitted with dual four-piston brake calipers, and another at the rear and the handsome 2002 XL883R featured a sleek 2-1 exhaust, twin discs up front and low handlebars. In 2004 all Sportsters got a new frame design and rubber mounted engines and in 2007 fuel injection replaced carburettors.

Recognising the need for something extra in 2008 Harley-Davidson introduced the XR1200, a Sportster with a 90bhp engine, USD front fork and powerful brakes, lightweight cast aluminium swingarm, modern instruments and rearset footpegs. Also that year the Nightster wore its black rims and stone-grey engine finish stealthily, but the other detail- most familiar today – is the LED stop/tail light incorporated into the rear indicators.

By 2010 the roots of the modern Sportster lineup were emerging, starting with the XL883N Iron, which became the base model, and the stripped back bare and bobbed XL1200X Forty-Eight-which wore a peanut tank based on the 1948 Model-5 design – from where it also drew its name.

Two years later the XL1000V Seventy-Two brought authentic chopper attitude to the Sportster range once more, alongside the more laid-back custom style of the XL1200C. All four bikes referenced the Sportsters of the late ’50s and ’60s that, themselves, had taken their styling cues from even earlier in the last century. Which for Harley-Davidson – a manufacturer with a back catalogue that goes back to 1903 – is just as it should be.

The Iron 883 and Forty-Eight were heavily revised with uprated suspension and ABS braking in 2016, pairing the most authentic old-school style with modern chassis ability and, celebrating 60 years of thrills the 2017 XL1200CX Roadster adds a whole new performance dimension with its 43mm USD forks, premium shocks and powerful front brakes.

So while things change, some things also stay the same – 60 years of the Harley-Davidson Sportster proves that.

For more information on the 2017 Sportster range; Iron 883, Superlow, 1200 Custom, Forty-Eight, Superlow 1200T and Roadster visit www.harley-davidson.com

Via: Harley Davidson Africa


Motorbike Hijackings Exposed!

An alert was issued by a biking group recently warning motorcyclists about an increase of hijackings in the Kempton Park area. Motorcyclists have been shot in the head and pushed off their bikes by motorcycle mounted hijackers. Even though some of the hijackers have been caught it is still important for all bikers to take cognisance of the risk of a motorbike hijacking.

This is what you can do as a motorcyclist to protect yourself from a motorbike hijacking:

  • Do not assume that all fellow bikers are friendly.
  • If a biker pulls up alongside you with a pillion rider – keep an eye on them.
  • Do not box yourself in – if that person starts to get off the bike, and there is an opportunity to safely pull off, you can.
  • If you suspect someone is following you, drive to the nearest safe haven or public place making sure you always have an escape route every time you stop.

Motorcyclists should also not believe they are invincible. All the tips which apply to drivers of cars also apply to them as well:

  • Be aware. Take note of people who may be following you.
  • Be wary of pedestrians by traffic lights or near your home or people standing around as you approach your motorbike.
  • As you approach a red traffic light, slow down so that you avoid coming to a complete stop.
  • Make sure your driveway is well-lit and clear of shrubbery.
  • Do not always drive the same route every day. Where you can, alternate it.

The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, himself a biker, says motorcyclists need to be careful not to fall into the trap of believing that hijackings are something unique to cars and trucks. “It is this notion that makes them vulnerable to criminals. You also need to be as aware and prepared for a potential motorbike hijacking as what you would be in a car.

“It is near impossible to communicate over the noise of the bike and while you are wearing a helmet. As such bikers can also be even more vulnerable to injury if confronted with a hijacking situation. Consequently, motorcyclists need to make sure they always aware of what is happening around them and be ready to respond should you find yourself in this situation,” says Herbert.

To cater for this increasing phenomena MasterDrive have launched a bespoke training program to accommodate bikers. Together, we can work to create safer roads for all.

Via: MasterDrive

Get ready for the Honda Quest-True Adventure with the all-new Africa Twin

True Adventure. In the coming few months these two words, which aptly describe the new Honda Africa Twin, will take on a whole new meaning in the eyes of every single adventure motorcyclist when Quest-True Adventure is unveiled.

But what is Honda’s Quest-True Adventure?

It is a motorcycling challenge, involving 20 carefully selected riders on 20 specially prepared Honda Africa Twin adventure motorcycles, culminating in a challenging 12 day, 2800 km event in a yet to be disclosed part of Namibia.

Also read: Honda announces updates to Ballade

Honda opted for Quest as a dedicated marketing platform to perfectly illustrate the ruggedness, refinement and market leading capabilities of the Africa Twin.

People will be able to submit entry applications for Quest at their nearest Honda dealership in South Africa and Namibia, whereafter 40 semi-finalists will be chosen to attend a Boot Camp, or selection phase. Honda’s strategic partner in Quest, is Specialised Adventures, a company with a proud track record of planning and executing extreme competitions of this nature.

“We aren’t looking for enduro racers or the next Dakar winner,” said Hardy de Kock, managing director of Specialised Adventures.

“The decision on who will finally participate will be based on contestants’ appetite for adventure, their willingness to learn and adapt, their ability to function in a team environment, as well as their psychological mettle under pressure.”

Also read: ICYMI: Race results from third round of SuperGP Champions Trophy

At the end of the Boot Camp, the 20 finalists will be announced. They will then be flown to Namibia at the beginning of September to participate in the much-awaited Quest-True Adventure on 20 specially prepared Honda Africa Twin motorcycles.

While the exact location will remain a secret until the Quest-True Adventure commences, the participants will be evaluated on skills such as their mechanical maintenance and recovery abilities; as well as how they cope with challenges such as observation skills, traversing challenging terrain, endurance riding, navigational exercises and tests designed to test their ability to improvise and adapt to adversity.

Source: QuickPic

Top tips on sharing the road with vulnerable road users

We are all made up of different shapes and sizes, from old to young and within our unique make-up, we each have a different set of problems and vulnerabilities.

Also read: 6 tips on beating your car budget blues

Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at the UK-based charity, IAM RoadSmart has some advice on sharing the road with vulnerable road users.


Treat pedestrians in the way you would want to be treated. We all have to walk to get to various destinations. It is important to give people time and space they need to use the road, especially those with who have restricted mobility.

Pay special attention in the rain – you may just spot someone so keen to get out of the rain they may not see you before crossing the road in front of you.


Cyclists need space too. They share our roads and are vulnerable to other traffic. When driving ensure you have checked to see it’s safe before changing speed or direction.

You may be in a hurry but be patient; cyclists are easily affected by the elements and could wobble in instances of windy weather.  Before you overtake them, make sure you have given them enough room as they could adjust their road positioning unexpectedly for a pothole or drain. A few seconds delay is better than a lifetime of regret.


Mobility scooters are becoming more common. This road user may have restricted movement, vision or hearing. Give this road user plenty of space and time, look for any clues which might help you work out where they are heading


Don’t scare animals. Animals such as cows and sheep need to be driven past carefully. Horses are normally in rural areas and are accompanied by a rider. They could be nervous of traffic; however, police horses can be spotted working in any area.

Turn the radio down and keep the engine revs low, be patient and take your time when passing a horse. Keep your car well away from them and proceed slowly.


Look out for motorcyclists. They can be hard to see especially in blind spots created by pillars or when looking into the sun. You may find them filtering in traffic so before you change position – Think Bike!

More tips: Here’s how you should drive a new car

“Drivers need to remember they are inside at least one tonne of highly engineered metal box fitted with all the latest safety features. Cyclists and pedestrians have no airbags, crumple zones or seatbelts to protect them.  Always give more vulnerable road users that extra little bit of space and time so you can react. The roads will be a much nicer place if we share nicely,” concluded Gladman.

Source: Newspress

Harley-Davidson introduces the 2017 Street-Rod®

For 2017, the new Harley-Davidson® Street Rod™ is set to raise eyebrows, and reset expectations.

It’s tuned High Output Revolution™ X 750 engine, producing more torque through the mid-range and power at the top-end also chases a higher redline. The bigger hitting motor is matched with sharper chassis geometry and aggressive riding position; there are also upgrades to the suspension, brakes and wheels.

The Street Rod will be offered in three colour options:

  • Vivid Black
  • Charcoal Denim
  • Olive Gold

Also read: The Harley-Davidson – Africa bike week makes its eighth return!

“The Street Rod’s new High Output Revolution X 750 has got hot cams, gas flowed heads, more compression and a higher redline. It gets your attention. And we wanted a chassis to match, sharp handling and aggressive, perfect for urban cut-and-thrust and canyon carving. Its attitude and the relationship between seat position, rearset footpegs and wide handlebars put the rider fully in control. The fact the Street Rod looks so good – and very close to our early sketches – gives us all a real charge too!” said Mathew Weber, Harley-Davidson chief engineer.

Upgraded Engine

The Street Rod’s liquid-cooled, single OHC 8V 60° V-Twin High Output Revolution X 750 engine produces 18% more horsepower and 8% more torque than the Street 750; peak power arrives @ 8,750rpm, with peak torque delivered @ 4,000rpm. It’s tuned to deliver strongly between 4,000 and 5,000 rpm, with strong midrange performance that a rider can feel and exploit in real-world situations.

It features a larger volume air box and new dual 42mm throttle bodies, new four-valve cylinder heads and high-lift camshafts, plus a higher-volume exhaust muffler – all designed to increase airflow and efficiency. Compression ratio is raised from 11.0:1 to 12.0:1 and the redline goes from 8,000 to 9,000 rpm.

New suspension and brakes 

The Street Rod chassis is engineered to match the performance of the engine. The front end features rigid 43mm USD forks gripped by lightweight aluminium yokes. Fork rake is tightened from 32° to 27° for quicker steering. New rear shock absorbers feature an external reservoir to increase fluid capacity and maintain damping consistency; travel is increased 31% to 117mm. The swing arm is slightly longer to accommodate the taller shocks, with performance-inspired styling.

A new seat shape is designed to hold the rider firmly in place and seat height is raised to 765mm to enhance the rider’s view forward. The Street Rod also features new forged brake/gear levers plus aluminium rearset footpegs that aid control and make it easier for more riders to get good ground reach when stationary. To suit more spirited riding lean angle is increased from 28.5° left and right to 37.3° right and 40.2° degrees left.

The flat, drag-style handlebar creates an aggressive riding position; new bar-end rear-view mirrors can be mounted above or below the grips, and feature a patent-pending design that allows them to fold back without interfering with the rider’s hands.

Also read: 5 changes to look out for in the 2017 MotoGP season

The Street Rod wears exclusive 17-inch front and rear Open Spoke Black Cast aluminium wheels and new Michelin Scorcher 21 radial tyres, sized 120/70 R17V front and 160/60 R17V rear; dual two-piston calipers and 300mm front disc brakes plus ABS deliver powerful, controlled stopping power. Harley-Davidson’s Smart Security System is standard fitment.

‘Dark Custom’ Styling

The Street Rod backs up its upgraded engine and handling performance with a liberal dose of Harley-Davidson Dark Custom styling. Thick, blacked-out forks and triple camps, topped with a new speed screen (colour-matched to the bodywork except for a black centre insert) add mass to the front end. A new tail section, with perforated rear mudguard, lightens the rear; the taillight is crisp LED, as are the indicators.

The raised ride height and 17-inch wheels inject the Street Rod with an athletic stance, while the new scoop-style air cleaner cover and sharper snap of the exhaust note draw attention to the engine’s strong design.

Source: Harley-Davidson