To Another Twin



When Aprilia unveiled tiif. Smivf.r roadster powered by a modern 750cc, 90-degree V-Twin, company officials also announced that the same engine had been conceived to grow to 1200cc. At that time, the larger-displacement version was perceived as Aprilia's weapon for launching its assault on the World Superbike crown. Not so. Top management at parent company Piaggio changed its mind about the project so many times that it progressed at alternating current until the Aprilia RSV4 Factory proved itself more than adequate for racing with no need of a twin-cylinder backup.

At that point, chief project engineer Federico Martini concentrated all his efforts on the development of a solid, reliable, torquey unit that would challenge the mighty BMW Rl 200, specifically in adventure-tourer applications such as the R1200GS, but with a superior level of horsepower. Then someone on the top floor of Piaggio headquarters in Pontedera requested that the new Piaggio-Aprilia 1200 should offer the same torque characteristics as the BMW. This created problems, since a 90-degree V-Twin will never match the evenness of the impulses of a boxer-Twin. I wonder if someone in the boardroom also suggested that the new Twin should sound like a Boxer?

Once Martini fended off these inconsistent pretenses, he was able to speed up work and finally deliver a modern engine capable of at least 135 hp with an excellent torque spread. Bore and stroke measurements are identical to those announced at EICMA 2007 and equal to those of the Ducati 1198: 106 x 67.8mm. The engine is, however, more compact and lighter than the

A year after importing just five 2010 models—the RM-Z250, RM-Z450, RMX450Z, RM85 and GZ250—American Suzuki announced that it would be importing ten 2011 models. This is still less than 25 percent of the 45 models that the company brought into the U.S. for the 2009

Coming soon? Aprilia's long-awaited 90-degree V-Twin should produce 135 horsepower and a broad torque curve.

Ducati s and would be priced much lower.

This seems to have stirred a lot of interest from Bimota, which feels choked by the high price of Ducati engines. Martini was Bimota chief project engineer in the 1980s, and he still has a lot of affection for the creative little company based in his own native Rimini.

Bruno dePrcito model year (including scooters), but it definitely shows that the market is improving.

According to sources at Suzuki, the situation is market-driven at this point. The company is likely to add more models to the list of 201 Is, but that will be dependent on the remaining

2009 inventories selling through. As of this writing, Suzuki has announced plans to import the V-Strom 650 ABS, DR650SE, DR-Z400S, Hayabusa, RM-Z250, RM-Z450, TU250, Boulevard S40, Boulevard M109R and Boulevard M109R Limited.

—Blake Conner

Softail Convertible

2011 Harley-Davidson CVO Line

All touring, all comfort and all the gadgets

It was at a previous introduction for Harley-Davidson's CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) lineup where I first heard the term "Alpha Customer." It's an efficient shorthand description of the market-leading, high-discretionary-income rider most likely to buy a CVO motorcycle. And since these customers also tend to be fully committed brand lifers, H-D finds it very useful to enlist them as Beta testers for new products. Once H-D is satisfied, it's not long before the exclusive CVO components find their way into the general parts and accessories catalog or onto OEM standard models.

This pattern is especially true with engines: CVO rolled out the first 95-inch Twin Cam in 2000, followed by a stroked 103-incher; then, over the years, we got the counterbalanced 95 B, 103B and finally the current Screamin' Eagle 110 and 11 OB that have been staples since '07.

Research led Harley to create the first-ever CVO lineup in which all four 2011 models—the Ultra Classic Electra Glide ($36,499), Street Glide ($32,499), Softail Convertible ($29,599) and Road Glide Ultra ($35,999)—are set up for touring with bags and a windshield.

Great attention was paid to improving seat comfort (Electra Glide and Road Glide Ultras get dual-control heating front and rear) and lowering seat heights. All models have cruise control and security systems, while the two Ultras get a Power Locking System; the key fob simultaneously unlocks the Tour-Pak, saddlebags and ignition. Additionally, the Ultra models come standard with Garmin RoadTech zumo 660 GPS units.

The fixed windscreens are designed to be "okay" for riders between 5-foot-8 and 6-foot-3, but adjustability would be a welcome addition. I put more than 1000 miles on the Road Glide Ultra, and the cockpit was definitely quieter than on previous Road Glides—the result of wind-tunnel testing and the placement of removable plastic flaps below the fairing.

Back in the day, all a Harley rider needed to hear was the familiar "potato-potato" song to help the miles roll by. The CVO bikes don't just play that (muted to 80 dB) tune, they play

Softail Convertible

¡Tunes, literally. Three of the four models come with a complimentary 8GB iPod Nano; the fourth (Ultra Classic Electra Glide) has an auxiliary MP3/CD input. All of the bikes except the Softail come standard with XM satellite radio (including a three-month trial subscription). And all four feature impressive sound systems: The Softail Convertible has a simple but effective player with speakers that are sufficiently loud at normal speeds; at the other end of the spectrum, the Street Glide's "BOOM!" stereo system has eight speakers flowing 100 watts per channel (x 2). The Ultras both have stout systems that generate nice, clean sound up to freeway speeds.

Bright and brash, each bike in the CVO quartet sports an expensive mult i-layer paint job, as well as tons of chrome and billet bolt-ons. And as such, they represent the polar opposite of Harley-Davidson's Dark Custom line.

The typical CVO buyer is used to GPS, ABS, cruise control, integrated audio entertainment, plush seating and top-of-market exclusivity. So he expects to get it all in a ready-to-ride package. Even if you aren't in this exclusive club, Harley is betting there are about 11,000 high-end, V-Twin touring customers worldwide who are.

Ultra Classic Electra Glide

Ultra Classic Electra Glide

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