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FIRST RIDE IMPRESSION – Kawasaki Z900 Special Edition

08 Jun

Z900-SE_4

If anyone asked me of what do I think of the recently-discontinued Z800 motorcycle by Kawasaki, my response has always been: “It’s a great bike, smooth acceleration, and smooth exhaust note, sounding more like a Honda than any Kawasaki I have rode previously. But it is heavy when it comes to a stop, or trying to navigate your way out of a rush hour traffic congestion”.

And the above response of mine hasn’t change for the past 4 years since the Z800 was introduced to the Malaysian market by Kawasaki Motors (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (KMSB).

One thing that I have come to understand with most Japanese-made products is: Whenever the first of its kind, whether revolutionary or evolutionary is introduced to the global market, it has some shortcomings-on-purpose, which gives owners as well as potential buyers an excuse/reason to upgrade to the successor model.

Z900-SE_2

The same notion applies to the Kawasaki Z800 especially when one takes into consideration of Kawasaki’s racing heritage over the past few decades, which included bragging rights courtesy of the numerous world championship titles it had won from several classes.

The constantly nagging question for the Z800 all these 4 years is/was: “Why in the world did Kawasaki made a naked sportsbike that have great specifications but also a lot of unnecessary fats (weight) to go along with it?”

The successor to it (if any) should be lighter, more compact and faster with improved horsepower, as the predictions go. Well, for the record, that’s just what Kawasaki did.

Say Hello to the new and improved successor – Z900. Definitely lighter. And faster.

The magic words in the official press release by Kawasaki after the new Z900 was unveiled at the 2017 EICMA Show held at Milan in Italy, were “lighter by some 20 kg over the Z800” – these by themselves, were music to my ears and sights to behold to my eyes, from the official photos released during that annual showcase for motorcycles. Somehow or some way, what I had read from that press release gave me enough reasons to believe it 95% as the truth, with the remaining 5% will be based on my own experience once I get the opportunity to sample a unit here in Malaysia.

Z900-SE_1

Well, that day of reckoning came and went. On April 19 & 20 to be exact, as part of KMSB’s official media test ride for the Z900 as well as the Versys X-250. The invited media were split into 4 different groups of A, B, C and D, with Group A n B on the 19th and Group C and D on the 20th. I was selected for the 20th on Group C. And the first ride of the day in the morning was with the Z900 while Group D was allocated the Versys X-250.

After the compulsory media presentation of the 2 new bikes and safety briefing by the accompanying marshals/traffic police, we were on our way to be flag-off for the ride. The moment I started the engine of the Z900 SE variant, the super smooth exhaust note it unleashes more or less confirmed my hunch the bike is definitely better than its predecessor.

For the first 1/3 of the test ride, I had the Z900 SE mostly on 6th gear – the engine, while super smooth, doesn’t feel weak even when riding at 80-90km/hr, and it could go faster than that just by a mere twist of the throttle without having to reverse the gears a notch or two. In fact, there’s no need to reverse the gear into 2nd or 3rd until the entourage came into a mild congestion area where there were just too many vehicles unsure of when to give way to us, prompting the need to go for lower gears as we went from the usual 80-90km/hr down to 20-30 speeds, and you can’t do that without the bike stuttering or jerking on 6th gear!

Default tyres on the Z900 SE are the same Dunlop Sportmax D214T as fitted to the Z800 and the recently-introduced Z650 and Ninja 650 models. However, initial feeling with the rubber was sluggish, which could be due to them haven’t got up to working temperature or the extra weight of the Z900 SE over the 650 duo had made the former less grippy on slippery tarmac. Couldn’t verify which is which then.

As the convoy ride rules go, the entourage would follow the speed limit set by the lead marshal or traffic police, and the only place where we were allowed to unleash the Z900’s full power would be after entering Latar Highway towards Rawang and back to our base at Templar’s Park Golf Resort. In other words, we were merely cruising with the Z900 for ¾ of the routes.

Z900-SE_3

That isn’t an issue for me as most of the time I would be merely cruising around within medium speeds with any new motorcycle I am reviewing, and there’s no need for a top speed adventure once I reached that threshold if/when the opportunity comes along. Averaging between 127km and 137km/hr once we entered the 2/4-segment of the routes where I could feel that the Z900 SE did live up to what Kawasaki itself has assured potential customers from the initial press release in Milan, Italy.

I am very familiar with the entire route used for the Z900 media test ride. In fact, I was planning to retain whatever speed we were doing on the long straights and using it to navigate the fast corners approaching during the 2/4-stage but that idea was dashed as one member of the entourage got carried away, powered past me and several others to put himself just behind the leading marshals and went from the left side to the right side (which was the path I was in), then realized he couldn’t make the corner at that speed, did a hard braking and I had to follow suit.

That quick reaction on my part prompted the ABS-equipped front brakes to do its work perfectly synched without the Z900 SE wobbling nor attempting to sliding the rear wheel which could cause skidding. And I did that with just the double front brakes, not even applying the rear type. After that, I maintained the 130km+ cruising pace until we reached Pantai Remis beach front for the compulsory group photo session.

Resuming the group ride after the Pantai Remis stopover, it was cruising mode all the way till the entrance of the Latar Highway, the segment where we were allowed to unleash the might of the Z900 Standard and SE variants. Being a naked sportsbike, there’s always the curiosity of the Z900 being able to go faster than 200km/hr as it has no protection against the wind pressure at higher speed. As I was riding the SE variant throughout the entire route, I found it has no issue in dealing with the extreme wind pressure as the bike goes faster than the cruising speed we had been doing earlier.

Whether the Z900 Standard variant is able to counter the added wind pressure remains to be seen as I had no time to sample it on the same ride. But will do a separate ride of it another day. Stay tuned for the update.

How fast did I manage to clock on the SE variant the moment we were allowed to go faster on Latar Highway?

This I am not able to verify as I was concentrating on ensuring there’s stability, vibration (if any) as the Z900 SE easily went from 139km/hr on 6th all the way to beyond 200+km. All I could recalled are two things:

  1. As the Z900 SE picks up speed, everything else became a blur including the surrounding
  2. The rearview mirrors images didn’t suffer any vibration as I could see some of the riders attempted to keep up from behind

The others later informed me that they did between 221km/hr and 230km/hr and still couldn’t keep up with the Z900 SE unit I was riding. That means I was on a faster level than the rest of the entourage put together. All I recalled was the leading marshal ahead of the entourage who was the “distant guideline to judge how fast we could ride on Latar” becoming nearer and larger for as long as I held the throttle open even though there’s still a bit more room to go even faster. Eventually I closed the throttle and resumed cruising mode the moment the lead marshal did the same.

Z900-SE_5

As mentioned earlier, the Z900 SE was stable and smooth all the way despite doing 200+km/hr. While it became lighter as the speed increased, there’s no feeling of the bike being swept aside or the steering geometry turning wobbly due to the extreme wind pressure.

With the full throttle experience accomplished, we had reached the completion of the test ride, and headed back to the Golf Resort upon exiting Latar Highway. I must say the Z900 test ride was much more enjoyable than the what I had experienced with the Z650 model. In fact, the Z900 ride was done within 2 weeks from the Z650/Ninja 650 test event, and I even rode the Z650 collected from KMSB a day earlier for my individual review to the Golf Resort for that Z900 event.

VERDICT: This First Impression Ride was all done on the Z900 SE. Whether there’s any difference in overall performance between the Z900 Standard vs. the SE variant remains to be seen. That will be on another review ride for the near future. The new Z900 is way better than the Z800 in all aspects. Well done, Kawasaki.

Stay tuned for further review rides on both the Z900 Standard and SE variants.

 
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FIRST RIDE IMPRESSION – Kawasaki Versys X-250

08 Jun

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VersysX_3

Customary Group Photo of the Versys X-250 Media Test Ride

It has been a long time since I ride a dual purpose motorcycle – those that could go off-road as well as conventional tarmac duty. So when the opportunity came to ride Kawasaki’s latest Versys X-250 courtesy of Kawasaki Motors (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (KMSB), there’s no way to decline that invitation.

The Versys X-250 is basically a touring bike, not an adventure type. But it can be utilized for the occasional off-road adventure, as long as the trails are not too extreme. Anything extreme, the rider would have to switch the default tyres on the bike to a proper dual-purpose variant, or else risk dropping the Versys X-250 to the ground or worse, get stuck in the mud and couldn’t go any further deep inside the off-road trails.

The Versys X-250 official media test ride is just one of two motorcycles KMSB have prepared for us, the other bike being the new Z900, in its standard and Special Edition (SE) variant. You can read about the Z900’s First Ride impression here: http://philipchong.net/?p=12165

My turn for trying the Versys X-250 is set for the afternoon session, with chances of rain being very likely. And it was. The morning session was with the new Z900 where the weather was filled with blue sky and sunshine. In fact, the first hour of the Versys test ride, we managed to avoid the rain as we were moving away from the dark clouds to another district where the weather won’t affect us for another 90 minutes or so.

VersysX_1

The first hour was spent on getting to know the Versys better via its acceleration, handling and top speed, which were conducted at Latar highway from our flag-off point in Templar’s Park Golf Resort. Acceleration-wise, it’s a surprise to find the Versys X-250 to be somewhat reluctant to move forward upon the release of the clutch, as compared to its siblings, the Ninja 250/Z250, of which the trio share the same engine configuration – a 249cc parallel twin but with different tuning.

After getting used to the slower-than-expected acceleration, the Versys doesn’t feel like a slouch after all. In fact, at Latar, I was able to eke out a top speed of 163km/hr on the straights while remaining upright. Other media members in my entourage told me they managed to reach 168km/hr crouching behind the windshield (seriously???). Oh well. The next half hour was cruising to the off-road trail segment which was held in an existing oil palm estate popular with regular off-road bikers. It began to drizzle while we were halfway to our off-road destination.

Thankfully, the rain had stopped not long after we reached the entrance to the off-road trail segment but the “damage” had already begun – the dry trail had become muddy, and it would be exciting to see if the Versys X-250 could take our entourage out of the estate with ease. That wasn’t to be.

VersysX_4

Personally, I don’t have a lot of off-road riding experience but I do know that “you don’t use the clutch often” in this kind of environment. Many riders regularly fried their bikes’ clutch as they used it too often when faced with uneven surface inside the trail road. The trick to ride such a segment with ease lies with engaging the bike in low-gear, either 2nd or 3rd and just open/close the throttle as when it seems fit, with the engine braking of the Versys X-250 taking care of any braking moment. Technically-speaking, do not use both the clutch and brakes regularly, just let the bike goes as it is while you control the throttle timing.

Before long, just was the case during the initial stage of the Z650/Ninja 650 First Impression Media Test Ride, I found myself pulling away from the rest of the entourage, while keeping the lead pacer/off-road expert in my sight. We had to stop briefly a couple of times inside the trail to wait for the rest to catch up. I was surprised to see the Versys X-250 could be so fast and efficient in keeping up with the lead pacer, who rode an actual moto-cross bike in leading us thru the estate.

VersysX_7

I wasn’t sure if he was surprised to see me being the only rider able to keep up with him inside the estate as I got the visor in my full face helmet fogged slightly. The lazy side of me as a rider prefers to manage the Versys X-250 in that kind of situation while sitting comfortably in the seat but as the pacer regularly stands up on the foot-pegs of his moto-cross bike while negotiating the corners, I had to do the same although I don’t see any advantage to be gained from that as we weren’t exactly doing superfast riding.

Suspension-wise, I could feel some of the uneven surface hard from the front end but the rear absorber did its job very well as it wasn’t bumpy at all when sitting on the bike instead of standing on the foot-pegs.

VersysX_8Approximately 2/3 of our entourage found the “excitement” too daunting as the muddy sections proved to be a hassle, and dropped their Versys in the attempt to ride up a muddy stretch. I couldn’t clear the same segment either, as the rear wheel was unable to grip and the bike slipped and went sideway on me. But it didn’t hit the ground as I was able to prevent it from doing so due to my height. I gently put the Versys down, moved out from the bike’s position, and with the help of an off-road marshal, got the bike upright again and cleared the segment. The remaining 1/3 was smarter, they pushed their Versys up that muddy stretch instead of riding up, which spared them the hassle of experiencing a drop.

All the Versys X-250 used in that entourage had entered the trail segment nice and clean, albeit with water droplets all over them thanks to the earlier drizzle. But all of us emerged from the off-road estate with the bikes mostly covered in mud!

On the way back to the Resort, it’s highway all the way in a damp tarmac but the Versys X-250 did it all the way back to base without sliding nor skidding even when some heavy braking was involved due to temperamental motorists that refused to give way to our entourage despite being signaled by the escorting traffic police to do so.

Due to the excitement encountered in the off-road segment, KMSB officials told us each group doing the Versys X-250 ride concluded their respective round much later than those doing the Z900 ride. The rides were conducted over 2 days, with 2 separate groups per day. One group did the Z900, with the other doing the Versys X-250, and switched over for the afternoon session for the 2-day event.

VersysX_5

VERDICT: An affordable ad lightweight touring motorcycle that can be considered for a lot of riders planning to get one but do not have the budget for a higher capacity type like the Versys 650 or rival makes in same class. Also great for bikers not possessing a Full B license as only a B2-type is needed to ride one.

VersysX_6

 
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REVIEW: Kawasaki Z650 and Ninja 650 Motorcycles

08 Jun

NINJA-650_1

Z650-2

Up till Year 2010, if one asks any rider riding a bigger capacity motorcycle in Malaysia as to which is the first machine they started with after upgrading from a kapchai and sports model up to 250cc, and the answer is most likely be Kawasaki’s ER-6N. The ER-6N, with its parallel twin 649cc engine, was the most affordable big bike Malaysians could afford, at a time when fully imported CBU units from USA, Europe and Japan cost more than a Proton 1.3 or 1.5 sedan car.

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NINJA-650_6

NINJA-650_7

Priced just above RM25,000 when it was first available in Malaysia, the ER-6N proved to be reliable, and was excellent as a daily commuting motorcycle. It was soon joined by its sports sibling, the ER-6F, which featured the same engine configuration, chassis, brakes and suspension but with a full-fairing design to differentiate it from the ER-6N, which was a naked sportsbike.

Together, both of them ruled the entry-level of bigger capacity motorcycles in the Malaysian market up till late 2011 when rival models like the Benelli TNT600 (2012) and Honda’s CB500-series (2013) enter the segment with competitive pricings. The ER-6N underwent a few revisions to make it viable against the competitions, and a 3-year warranty with unlimited mileage, coupled with the adoption of better grade tyres, were offered by Kawasaki Motors (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (KMSB) for Year 2015-16.

Z650-3

Z650-4

For 2017, both the ER-6N and ER-6F have made way for their respective successors, the Z650 and Ninja 650 in Kawasaki’s line-up globally. Featuring a similar 649cc parallel twin engine but revised internal parts and retuned for better midrange and fuel economy as well as a new chassis, revised swingarm and rear absorber, the new Z650 and Ninja 650 have upped the ante for entry-level motorcycles above 500cc.

Depending on who one asks, the older ER-6N is said to have certain limitations, one of them happens to be the handling when navigating tight, twisty roads as the power delivery is deemed too brutal, making it less agile in that kind of situation. Personally, I do not have that kind of feeling when reviewing the ER-6N and the ER-6F a few years ago.

Granted, the ER-series has no electronic aids whatsoever, other than sensors predicting remaining fuel, average consumption and engine diagnosis (when send for servicing), with the comparison often made against naked bikes of rival makes that come with full ride-by-wire aids, such as power modes, traction control, launch control, engine braking and ABS.

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Call me old school, where riders of my generation relying on RHTC (Right Hand Throttle Control) than electronic aids to get the maximum out of any motorcycle with ease. There’s no doubt any big capacity motorcycle employing electronic aids is much easier to ride than a model that has none but lacking them won’t make a difference among experienced riders.

User-friendliness with smoother power delivery are what set the new Z650 and Ninja 650 apart from their respective successors. These are made possible by Kawasaki without employing the electronic aids mentioned other than ABS for the brakes!

First of all, both the Z650 and Ninja 650 are lighter than their predecessors, made possible with the use of steel trellis chassis instead of the usual twin-beam type, and better fuel economy via the improved performance from the redesigned parallel twin engine has resulted in a smaller fuel tank of 15-litre capacity from the 16-litre available on the older models, contributing to the weight saving.

NINJA-650_4

The first reaction when a rider sits on either the Z650 or Ninja 650, is the feeling of how light it is. It is like handling a Ninja 250cc or Z250 but with the extra power available thanks to the 649cc powerplant. In fact, the lightweight and compactness of the Z650 and Ninja 650 made it easy for me to navigate a tight corner than a GTR 1400.

During the official media ride organized by KMSB, there was a segment in the routes where the speed limit was just 90km/hr, and I had inadvertently made that tight corner at the same 90km/hr cruising speed while the accompanying marshals and police escorts on their GTR 1400s had to back off, making it look as though I was speeding and overtaken them in the process as I had gone from being behind them to be in front upon completion of that particular bend.

That bend isn’t something new as I had done even faster speeds with it when reviewing other makes but as far as 3rd-party reaction is concerned, I cleared that segment without slowing down. But the Ninja 650 is just so easy to ride that negotiating a corner with it is never a hassle for me. The motorcycling media switched between the Z650 and Ninja 650 during that official test ride, and it was with the latter when the 90km cornering took place.

Z650-6

As usual, an official convoy ride for the media is just a First Ride impression, and the real review of how great a new bike is (or is it overhyped?) could only be known during an individual review ride when the media collected the bikes several days later from KMSB specifically for that purpose.

First off, as mentioned earlier, both the new Z650 and Ninja 650 have unbelievable fuel economy, compared to their predecessors – during my time with the older models, a maximum mileage of 330km (cruising mode) was what I could eke out of them despite both featured a 16-litre tank capacity. The new models, to my surprise, could reach almost 350km (cruising) while featuring a 15-litre tank capacity!

Z650-5

Both bikes, together with the new Versys X-250 and Z900 models, are part of what Kawasaki has grouped them under the “Refined Raw” tagline – providing smoother power delivery, fuel economy, superb acceleration (in their respective class), agility and handling. To top it off, all four models now feature a gear indicator built-in to the digital tachometer, something one normally does not get with previous locally-assembled models or those imported CKDs from Thailand. However, it’s available as an optional accessory for the revised Kawasaki Versys 650 of 2015-17 models.

Both the Z650 and Ninja 650 come fitted with a higher grade default tyre from Dunlop – Sportmax D214T as opposed to the usual Sportmax D222 used on their predecessors. The new tyres are the same fitted on the discontinued Z800 and the latest Z900 naked sportsbikes. Technically, the D214T variant is a dry/wet hybrid offering great grips on the wet and dry. However, being a hybrid tyre, don’t expect it to be as great in extreme cornering ability similar to the rubbers designed for track and sport usage when riding either 650cc bike when the tarmac is dry.

NINJA-650_8

The gripping performance is similar to an intermediate tyre when used in the dry – it grips really well for as long as the rider doesn’t go above the limits to what it is capable of. This includes cornering at speeds above 125km/hr without a worry. With the numerous improvements Kawasaki has put into the new Z650 and Ninja 650, a capable default tyre is essential to help complement the bikes’ handling too. One can imagine the hassle if the tyres and bike do not complement one another when riding. Potential buyers of both models can rest assured there’s no need to switch to other compounds until they have wear out both front/rear set.

Between the Z650 and the Ninja 650, which is the better bike?

This is subjected to rider and individual preference. Both bikes, although the same basically in specifications, their performances do differ. As a naked sportsbike, the Z650 is great for city riding and traveling from one town to the next one, provided the distance is not more than 100km away.

In theory, the naked Z650 should handle traffic congestion in the city much better than the Ninja 650. However, in my review ride, the latter is instead, the better of the two, which is not a surprise to me. The ease that the Ninja 650 slices thru the congestion is remarkable as both the front rearview mirrors are much lower than most cars’ side-mirrors, making it nearly impossible to come into contact with any, unless the idling car happens to be a Perodua Kancil or Kelisa variant.

NINJA-650_9The Z650, as a naked, features a wider, and higher level of handlebars, thus elevating the front rearview mirrors to be on similar height as most cars’ side-mirrors. So in cases of extreme congestion, the Z650 will be unable to lane-filter thru the rush hour crawl but the Ninja would have no issue doing that, and doing it even better than most kapchai riders.

However, to switch lanes during a tight congestion, the Z650 does a better job than the Ninja as the lack of a full-fairing means it could navigate in-between the idling cars as the latter’s fairing would prevented maximum steering movement for that kind of situation.

Speaking of steering angle, both models could do a 1-pointer U-turn within the width of a single road lane unlike the competitions particularly those from the Continental brands, which needed a 3-lane equivalent or several pointers just to make the turn. But I stopped short of subjecting both bikes to cross over the overhead pedestrian bridges for kapchais which can be found in several districts in the state of Selangor.

I have the utmost confidence that the Z650 (but not the Ninja) could get to the other side of the road via the said overhead bridge with ease, but in reality, there won’t be a lot of owners who will try it so it is not necessary to prove it could.

The front suspension and rear absorbers are by KYB. While the forks remain non-adjustable like their predecessors, the rear shock absorber is, with 5 levels. The rear absorber is n longer positioned sideway, it is now placed centrally, providing a much better feeling with the connection of the tyres between tarmac and bike.

Acceleration is the biggest difference in riding a bigger capacity motorcycle – it is the main reason why it is fun and exciting to enjoy riding a 2-wheel petrol-operated vehicle. Outright top speed is reserved for the race track, there’s no way a rider could enjoy riding a motorcycle at or near the top speed on public roads. Of course, there’s the tolled highway but that’s just risking safety and higher chances of being summoned for speeding (but that’s another story altogether).

Both the Z650 and Ninja 650 have the standard acceleration that is useful to power out of tight situations; places that even a kapchai could but the former duo could do it faster and better thanks to the extra “oomph” in their acceleration. And cruising either bike between 105km and 120km/hr is much better than any bike with engine capacity below 200cc. An average kapchai at these speeds would have its engine feel like it is about to self-destruct anytime but the Z650/Ninja 6550 is only utilizing 2/3 of their power in a similar situation.

Between a kapchai and the 650 duo to be used as a daily commuting machine, the latter would be the ideal choice as the overall fatigue will be less or none if the rider commutes to work daily in KL/PJ from places as far as Bentong, Rawang, Klang, Nilai, Seremban and Kuala Pilah.

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UPDATED: The price difference between the Z650 and the Ninja 650 is more than just the latter having a full fairing parts and sporty handlebars. The Ninja 650 is much more comfortable in long distance riding/cruising than the naked Z650 – after 70 minutes of continuous riding on the saddle, I had to take a 10-15 minutes break in-between when riding the Z650 while with the Ninja 650, the feeling is comfortable all the way till the 2-hour mark before any butt-fatigue is being felt.

Also, the Ninja 650, being a sports bike as opposed to the naked Z650, the wind protection aerodynamics courtesy of its full-fairing design, allows it to go from cruising at 137km/hr in 6th gear to 178km/hr within 6 seconds! The Z650 seems to struggle in similar capacity as it takes even longer to reach 170km/hr, like 16 seconds or more!

The fairing inclusion also made the Ninja 650 to attain a top speed of 209km/hr with a rider of my height and size, sitting upright. However, with the Z650, I struggled to reach 180km/hr as the wind pressure is just too strong when sitting upright. While I was told by other media reviewers that the Z650 is capable of attaining a top speed of above 190km, getting closer to 180km was the fastest I did with it, and I am not a rider that prefers to crouch behind the handlebars in order to increase the last few available kilometres out of any reviewed motorcycle.

 
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Honda CBR250R now available in 2017 colours for Malaysia

17 May

CBR250R-Red

Boon Siew Honda has just announced the availability of the CBR250R in 2017 colours – Millennium Red, Lemon Ice Yellow and Black. They will be available for purchase from authorized Honda motorcycle dealers nationwide from May 18, 2017.

CBR250R-Speedometer

CBR250R-Engine

Featuring the same DOHC 4-valve engine of previous editions, the Honda CBR250R comes with a maximum power of 27hp (20.2kW) @ 8,500rpm, 23.3Nm @ 7,500rpm to give riders ample revving power. It won’t be a flying speed machine for sure but it still has the “oomph” factor  needed to overtake slow traffic in the city and the suburbs. The muffler design remains unchanged and still emits the usual super smooth exhaust note.

The recommended showroom price starts from RM 21,940.94 (Black) to RM 22,258.94 (Millennium Red, Lemon Ice Yellow) with GST included but exclusive of road tax, insurance and registration. The model also comes with a two year or 20,000km manufacturing warranty (whichever comes first).

CBR250R-Black

CBR250R-Yellow

 
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FIRST RIDE IMPRESSION: Kawasaki Z650 and Ninja 650

31 Mar

Convoy Ride

My First Ride reviews for Kawasaki Motors Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s (KMSB) Z650 and Ninja 650 got off to a very wet flag-off period. In fact, there was no customary flag-off segment, unlike the morning session, which had the ceremony performed. I was slotted for the afternoon session, which has a higher chance of riding in the wet, as has been the occurrence the past 1 week in Klang Valley particularly in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam and Klang areas.

Of course, even the surrounding states got affected too, like Negeri Sembilan and parts of south-west Pahang, since both are bordering the state of Selangor, where the aforementioned cities are located. Still, the wet weather won’t dampen my confidence in trying both Kawasaki motorcycles as I had came prepared for a thunderstorm-type of riding – 100% weather-resistant riding jacket, with Dunlop’s D214 dry/wet rubbers being default tyres of the bikes.

Ride-Start

The tyres provide the necessary grip needed to navigate bends on dry and wet surfaces so riding is the same for me, regardless of the weather condition. However, that’s not the case for the rest of the convoy as within the opening minutes since we left Nilai Springs Resort, I had built quite a gap at the front, with only the escorting traffic police (front and back) as companions (photo below).

Lead-Rider2

The rest of the media convoy could only closed the gap after the leading police escort was instructed to slow the pace (via bike intercom) to enable them to catch up. Normally, the speed of the leading escort is subjected to how fast the nearest rider is able to keep up, and I happened to be there all along since we left the starting point. The overall pace increased once we rode past Sungai Pelek town as the routes thereafter are mostly straights with occasional bends in-between – not much effort is needed to sample the handling characteristics of both bikes in general.

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Fellow motorcycle media reviewer, Nic Wang, from Ministry of Superbikes was snapped candidly (above) during the scheduled stop at Dataran Morib. And I snapped a photo of both bikes posing together over there (below).

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Bike swapping was done after our revised, first scheduled stop – the original stop for a group photo with the bikes was supposed to be at Bandar Enstek not far from our starting point but heavy drizzle put paid to that idea. The morning session group managed to have the photo session at that area due to the better weather. Nevertheless, the revised stop at Dataran Morib (Morib Square) was the second stop for the morning session group.

I started off with the Z650, and swapped it for the Ninja 650. Once the convoy had resumed, the order of the day was still the same – me as the leading rider (photo below). Took me just a few minutes to get up front as usual, it wasn’t a need to be at the front but each of us is allowed to ride the bikes at the pace we are comfortable with, and the non-braking/non-slowing down style at the bends permitted me to do just that (photo below).

Lead-Rider

The routes for the media test ride are as indicated below:

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This wraps up the teaser for the first ride impression of both motorcycles. Stay tuned for the actual review when the photos from the convoy are made available by KSMB.

 
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Boon Siew Honda Unveils 2017 Honda Wave Dash 110 FI

21 Mar

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The invitation reads as a “special preview of a new Honda motorcycle with fashion show”. Given the way the word “preview” was used instead of the normal “launch” on previous unveiling, this event ignites the imagination of many motorcycle media in the country. All except me. I had a feeling the incorrect term was used, and thus, the excitement level remains normal for me.

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The preview isn’t going to be about any of the motorcycles Honda plans to launch for 2017 albeit in the 2nd half of the year instead of the anticipated 2nd-quarter (April to June). Nope, the said preview is not about the Made-In-Indonesia CBR250RR, the Made-In-Japan CBR1000RR/SP or the Made-In-Thailand Rebel 500 cruiser.

It is just another updated kapchai motorcycle, from the ancient carburetor to fuel injection (FI), this time on the Honda Wave Dash 110. For every 1 model of a big capacity machine launched, there would be several models of the kapchai/scooter in Honda’s line-up for the Malaysian market being launched, and it is no difference this time.

To be fair, there was no launch of any big capacity Honda bikes in Malaysia since July 2014 with the pair of CB650F/CBR650F and a revised CBR250R. The 2016 CB500-series trio quietly made their entrance into the local market in beginning of September 2016 while the 2016 duo of the CB/CBR650F repeated that feat just before the Lunar New Year holiday in 2017. Between the July 2014 event and today’s unveiling ceremony, all the bikes launched by Honda have been kapchai and scooters.

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Almost every specification of the revised Wave Dash 110 is the same as its carburetor version, save for the fuel injection, and pricing. But the switch to fuel injection allows for better fuel economy, enabling the motorcycle to cruise as far as 244km of mileage until the low fuel gauge warning starts flashing. This is an improvement of some 10km over the estimated 234km on the older model. Honda also claims an improved fuel ecoomy of 61km/litre in cruising mode when riding at 80-90km/hr speeds.

The new Wave Dash 110 FI comes in 3 colours: Pearl Nightfall Blue, Pearl Magellanic Black and Vivacity Red as well as the exclusive Repsol edition. It is available in S Type (single disc brake), with both R Type and Repsol edition featuring Double Disc Brakes. The sales prices for all 3 types (with GST) are RM5,860.74, RM6,178.74 and RM6,337.74 respectively. All models come with the standard 2-year or 20,000km manufacturing warranty, whichever comes first.

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Kawasaki Motors Malaysia announces Sales Price for 2017 Ninja 650 ABS & Ninja 650 KRT

26 Feb

Kawasaki Motors (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (KMSB) has announced the sales price of the new Ninja 650 ABS (Standard), which is RM37,189.00 (inclusive GST) without insurance. This price is valid for the Orange colour edition. For the KRT special edition, which features the graphics used by Japanese manufacturer’s Kawasaki Racing Team, the sales price is RM38,189.00 (inclusive GST) also without insurance.

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The Special Edition version is fitted with:

  1. Single Seat Cover
  2. Windshield Smoke
  • Radiator Cover
  1. Rim Lining

 

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This model will be available at our GT World Ninja, Ninja Shop and Kawasaki Authorised Premium Dealers by 8th March, 2017.

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Malaysia Day Contest Ninja H2 Grand Prize Winner Announced

19 Jan

Encik Armadi from the north eastern state of Kelantan in Peninsular Malaysia is announced as the lucky draw Grand Prize winner of a Kawasaki Ninja H2 worth RM158,888 this morning. Armadi, who purchased a Kawasaki Z800 motorcycle from an authorised dealer in Kota Bahru last November, took part in the contest organised by Kawasaki Motors (Malaysia )Sdn Bhd (KMSB).

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He didn’t give much chance to his luck of winning any of the prizes on offer in the contest, which include other Kawasaki models such as the D-Tracker and Ninja 1000. His lucky draw contest form was drawn by Kiyaoki Takano, the executive director of Aeon Credit Service (M) Bhd this morning in a ceremony witnessed by the motorcycling media, Kawasaki GT World/Ninja Shop dealers and invited guests, held in Sunway Putra Mall in Kuala Lumpur.

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KMSB_Grand_5As expected, Armadi is left speechless when told of the good news via live telephone conversation direct from the event. Most of his responses to the emcee’s questionnaires were “Ah-ha, ah-ha, ah-ha…” leaving the audience with laughter.

He was not present in Kuala Lumpur to receive his grand prize but the general manager-cum-director of KMSB, Dato’ Jeffrey Lim told the media that the Ninja H2 would be shipped to the Kota Bahru dealer for the official handover ceremony to Armadi after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Also present at the ceremony were Kazuhiro Watanabe, the deputy GM of Tokio Marine Insurance Malaysia, Satoshi Yanagida, the factory controller of KMSB, Miss Lee Chooi Kiun, senior manager of KMSB and the deputy GM of KMSB, Encik Awalludin Mohamed Lip.

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2nd Career MotoGP win for Cal Crutchlow @ Phillip Island

23 Oct

Photos: MotoGP.com and MM93.com

Team LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow has taken a stunning second GP win at Phillip Island, as the Brit kept calm and kept his gap at the front ahead of P2 finisher Valentino Rossi, with Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales completing the podium.

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There were no miracle starts for those frontrunners starting further back for the Australian GP, with Jorge Lorenzo getting the best from P12 to move up to P9, and teammate Valentino Rossi gaining two places to P13 – with Maverick Viñales moving up only one. It was Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) who got the holeshot P3 on the front row, with polesitter Marquez the biggest loser off the line – before the 2016 MotoGP World Champion swept back around the outside of Doohan Corner to take back P2 and then fight off Espargaro through Lukey Heights and down into T10. Once at the front, the Motegi and Aragon winner set off in his rhythm – soon seconds clear.

The fight for P2 between Crutchlow and Aleix Espargaro saw the Brit emerge on top, as Rossi was charging through the field – picking off Pol Espargaro and Andrea Dovizioso as the rider from Tavullia entered podium contention, then setting his sights on Aleix Espargaro and soon getting past.

Nearly three seconds clear at the front, there was suddenly a Repsol Honda sliding through the gravel at Turn 4 – and Marc Marquez was out of the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Crutchlow then found himself in the lead, hoping the 2014 flashback for Marquez wouldn’t touch him after a last lap crash two years ago – as Rossi began his hunt for the LCR machine, over two seconds back but on an amazing roll from P15 on the grid. As the British rider continued pulling away, Rossi than got a warning shot at Turn 4 that saw him run deep and lose ground, as the new fight for the final podium spot saw Aleix Espargaro locked in battle with Dovizioso – and Viñales soon getting involved.

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After swapping positions in a three-way fight, Turn 4 then claimed another victim as Aleix Espargaro lost his Suzuki machine with 5 laps to go, and teammate Viñales broke the resolve of Dovizioso to take the final place on the podium and head the Italian home.

After his storming start, Pol Espargaro took a solid result as he crossed the line in P5, ahead of a struggling Jorge Lorenzo – who was unable to make up big ground after his good start.

Further back saw Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci leading a seven rider fight for P7 of home hero Jack Miller, Hector Barbera, Stefan Bradl, Bradley Smith and Nicky Hayden.

‘Kentucky Kid’ Hayden, standing in for injured Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, put in an impressive one-off return to his 2006 championship winning colours as he battled well within the points, before Miller took Turn 4 a little overenthusiastically and Hayden was the casualty, sliding out.

Hector Barbera was another crasher, leaving Redding to lead compatriot Bradley Smith over the line for P7, with the top ten completed by Petrucci and Miller. As well as the solid result for Miller, fellow Australian Mike Jones scored a point on his Avintia Racing machine as he replaced Hector Barbera, impressing once again.

Another Independent Team win in 2016, another win for Cal Crutchlow, and a little glimpse of the old Marquez. A fight back from outside the top ten to make the podium – for both the bikes who crossed the line behind the Brit – and some spectacular racing at Phillip Island once again. Next up is Sepang International Circuit – and another chapter of an incredible 2016.

 
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Historic 65th pole for Marc Marquez @ Phillip Island

22 Oct

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Marc Marquez delivered another incredible performance in this afternoon’s qualifying session at Phillip Island, taking his 37th pole in MotoGP and the 65th in his career, which is also the new historical record, at just 23 years of age. It’s also Marc’s seventh pole of 2016, meaning that the Spaniard has already won the BMW M Award for the best-qualifying MotoGP rider of the season, as he has done every year since entering the premier class.

Nicky Hayden took an impressive seventh position after displaying a very competitive pace in all conditions and during all of the sessions, including a P1 in FP4.

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The day started with Marc topping FP3, which was held in mixed conditions, while Hayden finished the session with the eighth-best lap time, which put him directly into Q2. FP4 began in dry conditions, which unfortunately didn’t last long, and the session was red-flagged due to heavy rain with 19 minutes remaining, with Hayden leading the way. The session resumed 25 minutes later on a wet track, meaning that nobody was able to improve and the American remained on top, with Marquez in second (though quickest on rain tyres).

When QP2 started at 16:05, weather forecasts were threatening heavy rain in the next few minutes, but it stayed away for the entire session. Marc’s perfect tyre strategy saw him starting the session on an intermediate/intermediate tyre combination and immediately entering the pit to change to full slicks. He was the first one to take the gamble in the changeable conditions, a tactic that allowed him to put in a series of fast laps that nobody else was even able to approach.

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Considering the limited amount of dry track time that the riders experienced during the weekend, Race Direction decided to extend the length of Sunday’s morning warm-up session to 30 minutes.

 
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