There were more than a few gems at this show
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Feb. 6, 2009
Suzuki DR Z400SM SuperMoto – Rated at 65 mpgUS.
Although a little late to the party, CleanMPG began its first real bike coverage early last year. Since then, reporting on anything related to a streetable bike with high fuel economy has been a priority.
Which brings us to this year’s “28th annual - Cycle World International Motorcycle Show” in Chicago. Just two days ago, it was minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the Chicagoland area. Why would anyone consider a bike of any sort in these kinds of weather conditions? First of all, summer really does occur in the Midwest albeit for a very short period and second, bikes are not only fuel efficient but fun to ride. As can be seen at any gas station in America, if two riders who have previously not known each other are filling up next to one another, a friendly conversation is guaranteed to ensue. While riding your own bike, pass by an oncoming rider and 75% of the time, an under the bar “Bike wave” is offered no matter the type of bike ridden or the age of the rider. There is something to be said for bike rider camaraderie and if you have not experienced it, try it!
The Show Floor
Motorcycles are alive and well in Chicago as could be seen by the crowds on the show floor. If you were looking for a classic Harley, a Sport Bike of any type, a Motocrosser of any size or a dual purpose of any description, they were there. If you were looking for bike helmets or apparel, it was there. If you were looking for tires, rims or accessories of every imaginable type, it was there. And so were we.
2009 Honda CRF 230L and 230M SuperMoto.
These two are almost identical to the 2008 Honda CRF230L
we tested last fall other than a change in exterior fascia. The SuperMoto’s suspension has been tweaked with another .3” of travel in the rear, 17” street tires all-around, .2” lower seat height and its geometry has been redone for a street performance flavor. The SuperMoto on the floor was so new it was a Japanese spec instead of the US spec we will see in Honda Dealerships this spring. Given the CRF230L allowed an astounding 128 mpgUS and was the most fuel efficient vehicle we have reviewed, I have no doubt the 230M will be just as fuel efficient and that much more confidence inspiring on the road.
2009 Kawasaki KLX 250S and 250SM. Both rated at 70 mpgUS.
And what may be considered the king of the 250 Dual Purpose class in terms of off-road capability, standard equipment, liquid cooling and larger size for a more comfortable riding position for taller riders. This year, Kawasaki changed a number of items including on/off-road tires with closer blocks for better pavement traction and longer wear, larger spoke diameter for stronger front and rear wheels and even more tunable multi-adjustable front and rear suspension settings. The all-digital MFD includes dual trips, RPM and a Speedo incorporated into an LCD like display. This is a first for the segment that I know of?
Overall, the Kawasaki 250 offerings are quiet and fuel efficient full sized bikes taking the Kawasaki 250 dual purpose bikes to the next level. Although the SM is not an off-roader, its street based 17” tires all around incorporated into its beefed up chassis add a very sporting character to its capabilities.
2009 KTM 530 EXC Dual Sport.
Here is a manufacturer with a long and illustrious Motocross history. This brand was not even on my radar until I saw the bikes up close and personal. The KTM 530 EXC will take on any off-road track, path or terrain in the world as it uses KTM’s perfected Motocross chassis and adds tires, suspension and geometry tuning more akin to a dual-purpose bike. Plus the standard lights, turn signals and mirrors of course. This bike not only LOOKED the off-road part, it WAS the off-road equivalent of an M1A3 Main Battle Tank. Funny thing is this bike was so new, its on-road capability and character is not even listed within KTM’s Media or general purpose web sites! A monster Dual-sport with an off-road character nobody can touch to put it bluntly.
A brand that I did not even know existed until yesterday afternoon. This Taiwanese manufacturer is known for its scooters but they had something all-new and never seen before on the show floor. An all-new .15L Sport Bike! Although little is known about its Fuel Economy capability, its top speed should reach 60 + mph and that in and of itself makes it streetable anywhere in the US for me. I can however see many will balk due to its limited speed. In any case, here it is. A .15L Sport Bike just waiting for one of us to see what it is worth
2009 Suzuki DR-Z400SM and DR-Z400S. Both rated at 65 mpgUS.
Although a bit large in the motor department, the Z400SM was one of the better looking SuperMoto’s on the floor. Both the Dual purpose and SuperMoto are liquid cooled and have heavy duty suspensions including inverted front forks developed from the Motocross RM250. Lacking is a 6-speed gearbox however. The SuperMoto adds 17” street tires front and rear. Did I already mention how nice the Z400SM looks
2009 Suzuki DR-200SE Dual Sport. Marc (Warthog1984) onboard.
Another one of the Dual Sports I would like to ride. Although a bit spartan when it comes to equipment, a rear drum brake as an example, the DR-200SE’s 105 mpgUS rating makes it attractive for other obvious reasons.
2009 Yamaha - WR250R Dual Sport and 250X SuperMoto. Both rated at 71 mpgUS.
Similar to the 104 mpgUS capable 2008 Yamaha XT250
we reviewed last summer, Yamaha adds a few tricks for 2009. These 250’s are both liquid cooled, Fuel injected and beefed up with the WR250F’s chassis and much heavier duty suspension components. In addition, the all-road SuperMoto 250X adds a sportier flavor with lowered suspension and street tires.
The WR250R in particular appeared ready to take on anything that you could possibly throw at it!
The Zero-X was the highlight of the show when it comes to fuel economy. This bike is a Battery Electric Motorcycle (BEM) off-roader with a street legal cousin currently nearing launch. This bike was not supposed to be there yet there it was hidden off in the back corner with little in the way of pomp and circumstance to announce its presence...
Zero-X -- 40-mile AER with Midwest distributors Mike Mastrangelo and Susie Serafini-Oniel behind.
As previously reported, the street legal “Zero-S” model was due in January but it appears as if it will be March or April when it will make its appearance. The “Zero-S” will be a 70 mph, 60-mile AER capable street bike. Charging the “Zero-S” will be accomplished in under 3-hours off a 220V outlet and from minimum to maximum charge. Its mpg equivalent is estimated at 300 mpgUS. Equipped with an advanced Li-Ion cel chemistry of unknown manufacture and a pack design by the company’s founder Neal Saiki, gives it the Zero’s great range and light weight.
Zero-X Li-Ion pack Pos/Neg and control wiring connections. Second picture is after being placed back into the bike. A battery swap takes all of 1-minute.
|Type||Brushed Permanent Magnet Electric |
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|Power System|| |
|Capacity||2 kWh (58-Volts @ 35 Ah)|
|Range||2-hours or 40-miles|
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|Drive||13T/71T – 420 chain|
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| Dimensions|| |
|Total Weight||151 pounds|
Ken (SlowHands) holding the 45 pound Li-Ion pack and me (xcel) on the Zero-X afterwards.
2009 Motorcycle Pricing
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* Non-Street Legal version - Enduro TBD
** Rep described pricing in the low $3,000 range once released.
The 2009 Chicago International Motorcycle Show is being held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. The show is open to the public until 09:00 PM this evening and tomorrow from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM.
Future shows scheduled this spring include Minneapolis, MN on February 13 – 15 and Greenville, NC on Feb. 20 – 22.