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Will we may see the end of the Ducati V-Twin superbike, with the announcement of the Ducati Panigale V2 Superquardro Final Edition? The factory will still utilise the 90° V-Twin engine in other models, of course, but it will be a sad day to see the absence of a two-cylinder Ducati superbike in the lineup, for it was the V-Twin (Ducati calls it the ‘L’-Twin) that cemented Ducati’s name in the halls of excellence.

So maybe it is a good time to retrace the evolution of the Ducati V-Twin superbike. (This article only covers Ducati’s sportbikes with the Panigale V2 Superquardro Final Edition as the main picture.)

When did the Ducati V-Twin begin?

As with almost all manufacturers, Ducati had started with building single-cylinder engines. The first one was in fact a 48cc unit made by SIATA which Ducati installed in the bicycle in 1950.

Ducati actually built their first V4 engined motorcycle called the Berliner 1260 Apollo in 1964. It was a beast that almost no one could ride and no rear tyre could withstand the engine’s torque and power. Well, why not: The 1257cc air-cooled 90° V-Four engine produced 100 hp at just 7,000 RPM. By comparison, the Harley V-Twin of the era did only 55 hp. (We shall write a story about this intriguing bike soon!)

One day, 20th March 1970, Dr. Fabio Taglioni began sketching on a 90° V-Twin engine. It was from here that an entire slew of models came about both in racing and its adoption to street models, including 500cc racebikes and 750cc road bikes. The Ducati 750 Imola Desmo went on to win the Imola race in 1972.

The camshafts were driven off a tower shaft and bevel gear system up to this point. Taglioni introduced the Pantah 500SL with belt-driven cams in 1980. This belt-driven system continued until the Superquardro V-Twin came to light on the Panigale 1199.

Two became four

Dr. Taglioni had experimented with the four-valved head but seemed to have made no headway. Instead, it was his understudy, Massimo Bordi who successfully designed and pushed it through.

The four-valve 90° V-Twin engine, now known as the Desmoquattro, began in the prototype 748IE Bol d’Or racer in 1986, before being adopted in the Ducati 851 in 1987. At the same time, it was also Ducati’s first liquid-cooled engine. Raymond Roche took the 851 to the first World Superbike crown for Ducati in 1990 hence starting Ducati’s domination in the championship.

The 851 became the 888, then came the iconic 916 that in turn became the 955 (ultra limited SP version only), and finally the 996.

Subcategories of the Desmoquattro

Testastretta

In 2001, Ducati brought out the 996R homologation model. It was essentially used the 998cc engine  which featured the new Testastretta head or “narrow head.” The new Testastretta had the included valve angle reduced from 40 degrees to 25 degrees. As such, the bore could be made bigger to increase the rev limit, hence producing more top end power.

The 999, designed by Pierre Terblanche was a wholly redesigned bike, followed in 2003. However, the design was way too far of its time and was severely panned, despite the 999 being better in almost every department.

Testastretta Evoluzione

The 999 was in turn succeeded by the 1098 in 2007. It was the most powerful V-Twin of the era and was well-received, what with a styling that “evolved” from the 916. The 1098 became the 1198 in 2009.

Superquadro

The 1098/1998 lineup was subsequently replaced by the 1199 Panigale in 2012 hence began the Superquardro engine. It was the most powerful V-Twin at the time, punching out 195 hp and 133 Nm.

There were several changes, most obvious was the deletion of the belt-driven cams for a hybrid gear/chain drive. Ducati made four displacements for this engine, ranging from 898cc to 1285cc.

The smaller V-Twin sportbikes

We need to mention the smaller capacity Ducati sportbikes as they led to the Ducati Panigale V2 Superquardro Final Edition. Amidst the 916 was the smaller 748 which Ducati raced in the SuperSport categories vs. 600cc inline-four superbikes. The 748’s engine was of course, a 90° Desmo V-Twin with four-valves per cylinder, but displaced 748cc. So, to complete the timeline, the 748cc engine started getting bigger becoming the 749, 848, 899, and finally the present 955 with the Superquardro engine. The 955cc Panigale was rebranded as the Panigale V2 following the debut of the Panigale V4 in 2018.

 

Reaching this stage in life has taught me to appreciate the simplest things in life. I used to crave the fastest, baddest superbike while not paying much attention to the lesser powered motorcycles. But then superbikes became too powerful and complex – you cannot even sort out the fuelling without a diagnostics system anymore… So, has this 2024 Suzuki Burgman Street 125EX show up at the right time?

What is it?

The Burgman range is where you find Suzuki’s luxury scooters, consisting of 125cc, 400cc, and 650cc variants. The Avenis range, on the other hand, consists of the sportier models.

The Burgman Street 125EX is powered by a 125cc, SOHC, two-valve, air-cooled 4-stroke Suzuki Eco Performance-Alpha (SEP-α) engine. It produces 8.6 hp at 6,750 RPM and 10 Nm of torque at 5,500 RPM. It is also equipped with the Engine Auto Stop-Start (EASS) and Suzuki Silent Starter System.

Additional features include the trappings of any scooter such a floorboards, underseat storage, storage bins at the front, a hook in front and another just underneath the front of the seat.

The first thing that strikes you about the Burgman 125 is how large – more like how bulbous – it looks despite being a 125cc scooter. The leg shields extend much further out the sides, and the side panels are similarly rounded to complete the theme. It reminded me of the Suzuki Gladius 650.

 

Riding the 2024 Suzuki Burgman Street 125EX

Grabbing the handlebar the first time, they are apparently as wide as on bigger bikes. Personally, I prefer wider handlebars because they provide more steering leverage.

You only need to tap the starter button once and let go as the aforementioned Silent Starter System will take over and er… start the engine.

Twist the throttle and… the bike just purred off idle. That was exactly how it was. It did not give a swift punch off the line, even when we nailed it full wide open. It was like a motorcycle with an extremely tall final drive ratio.

However, we soon discovered that Suzuki built it this way for the city. The engine was super smooth – serene even – between 60 – 80 km/h.

Suzuki motorcycles are well known for their easy handling characteristics and this was no exception. It was stable on straight roads, while the wide handlebar provided lots of leverage to steer. It required only the slightest pressure to change directions, allowing you to zip through traffic with ease.

Surprisingly, the scooter had lots of ground clearance despite the low seat height. I tried our best to grind the belly fairing and stands but I never succeeded. (Shhh… I ground a BMW R 1200 GS cylinders in corners before.)

 

We decided to ride it up to Genting Highlands, as we always did with any test bike. we already know the route like the back of our hands and taking different bikes on the same route allowed us to test the bikes, not the route.

We maxed out the Suzuki Burgman’s horsepower on the highway, hitting 108 km/h on downslopes. The engine continued to be smooth without sounding like it was going to detonate. There was just very little buzzing through the handlebars. Again, credits to Suzuki for building strong engines.

The long wheelbase again showed its benefits as the bike did not swerve or wobble when passing or being passed by heavy vehicles.

 

But the neat stuff for me was when we climbed that mountain proper, after the first checkpoint. Full gas upslope, the bike did between 60 – 70 km/h. We just held the throttle in its position and steered the bike through all the corners. The bike did not wobble at all unless it hit a pothole or uneven surface. All those luxury car drivers were wide eyed when they saw a little scooter passing them in the corners and pulling away! And that sequence of S-corners just before Gohtong Jaya was so much fun.  Ah, the satisfaction.

We should also mention that the road surface was still damp from the overnight rain. Some scooters we tested before slipped and slid in the corners, but the Burgman held fast. There was one occasion when the rear started to go wide but it was instantly cured by lifting the bike up a little from its lean angle.

But, there must be some disadvantages, surely? Yes, of course, every bike does.

Coming back down the mountain revealed that the front brake needed lots of lever pressure to decelerate the bike with this 85-kg rider aboard. Good news was the rear drum brake never locked up even when hard braking was applied over the yellow speed breakers. So, plan your riding strategy ahead of time and give yourself more room to brake and stop.

Besides that, being a street scooter means the suspension has shorter travel and Genting’s pothole-ridden road did not help. Quite some bump energy was fed through the chassis to the rider. However, we wish to point out that sportbike riders would feel the same, so it is not to say the Burgman 125 specifically was bad in this department.

So, back on Karak Highway, it was full throttle from the on-ramp all the way through the series of corners until that final sharpish left, following that long, long righthand sweeper. The Burgman’s chassis instilled so much confidence, yes, despite the small wheels(!), that blasting corners was almost hilariously fun. We actually overtook several bigger bikes (150cc, 155cc, and a 200cc) in the long sweeper – on the outside.

Back on the straighter sections, it was time to relaxed and I backed it off to 90 km/h, while revelling at how smooth the engine was. The suspension also settled down nicely. The seat was also thickly padded and there was nothing sore at the end of the ride.

Who is the 2024 Suzuki Burgman Street 125EX for?

The way we see it, it is the perfect bike for those who commute daily as something that gets you from your home to your workplace and back without drama and fuss. It is a motorcycle that you get on, thumb the starter button, twist the throttle, and off you go. Simples.

It is also a great choice for Mums (and some Dads) who ferry their kids to school. I did exactly that for my son, zipping past the bleary eyed and irritated parents who had to wake up so early only to get stuck in a traffic jam. The brakes were not grabby for a reason, as it avoids ham-fisted riders from locking up the front tyre in panic situations. The smooth, user-friendly powerband and wide comfy seat will boost any kid’s confidence. My son was upset when I returned it. This is saying a lot because I had carried him on all sorts of bikes. How is that for a passenger’s review?

Last but not least, the engine was really fuel efficient, with the fuel consumption indicator hovering around 46 to 52 km/litre for daily urban riding. That equated to a range of more than 250 km on a full 5.5 litre tank . That “adventure” at the Karak Highway and Genting Highlands took a lot more fuel, of course, bringing it down to 36 km/l.

In closing, we found the 2024 Suzuki Burgman Street 125EX befitting its “street” denotation, and the meaning of appreciating the simple things in life, on two wheels.

2024 Suzuki Burgman Street 125EX Photo Gallery

It is a sight to behold is it not? A rider hanging onto a bike that is leaned way over, knee planted, elbow, even shoulder onto the track’s surface. It is made possible by the technological advances in tyres and motorcycle chassis, and also the unsung hero: The knee slider.

As with all things on the track, the knee slider went through a development process spanning several decades.

Why drag knees on the track?

Dragging the knee allows the rider to gauge how much lean angle he is carrying through a turn.

At the same time, having the torso, bum, and knee off to one side of the bike moves the rider’s centre of gravity (CoG) off the centreline of the bike, thus taking away the rider’s weight from being added to the centrifugal forces acting on the tyres’ contact patches. Too much centrifugal force will cause the tyres’ to wear out quickly and it is also easier for the tyres to lose grip.

Also, with the rider’s CoG off the to the side, the bike leans less in a corner compared to when the rider is sitting in the middle of the seat. This also boosts the tyres’ ability to grip, hence being able to carry more cornering speed and is also relatively safer.

And finally, the rider is able to use that knee to push the bike up ever so slightly off that front tyre’s band of contact patch when it starts to slide (some riders call it “push” or “close”).

When did knee sliding start?

If you see old motorcycle racing pictures prior to the late 70’s, you would see riders sitting straight up on their bikes in corners.

The person who popularised knee sliding on the track was the legendary “King” Kenny Roberts, Sr. Now, he was not the first to do so, because Jarno Saarinen who first did so. The Finnish rider began his career as an ice racer before migrating to road racing. Roberts then witnessed Saarinen moving his body off the centreline of the bike, sticking his knee out in corners, and sliding the rear tyre at the Ontario Motor Speedway in 1972.

Roberts was a dirt track rider himself and used to sliding the bike’s rear tyre, too. He decided to try out Saarinen’s technique, albeit exaggerating his body position by moving his body more off the bike. (Legend has it that he hurt one of his testicles during a dirt-bike crash, hence moving his body as such.) He immediately found that doing so settled down his bike and most famously, the veastly Yamaha TZ750 and the later TZ500 for the corners. Carrying more and more speed into the corners meant that his knee began to touch down on the track’s surface.

Other riders saw how successful he was and began copying his technique and the kneedown cornering technique was born.

Early knee sliders

Planting the knees in corners had the friction holing Robert’s leather suit. Besides that, leather does not slide well, and could grab the surface of the track. So he began wrapping the knee region with copious amounts of duct tape.

Freddie Spencer applying duct tape. Lots of it.

Then someone experimented by taping motorcycle helmet visors to their knees. Is slid smoother but also wore out quickly.

Eddie Lawson on the left, Roberts on the right. Notice the helmet visor on Eddie’s knee.

Bear in mind that racesuits had no provision for knee sliders up to this time. Then in 1981, Dainese stepped up by creating a suit with knee sliders stitched in. It had several plastic cylinders poking up from the base, and was dubbed the istrice (porcupine). It proved to be difficult to replace.

The istrice on the left, followed by a leather, and finally plastic knee sliders

Several years later, a suit with Velcro knees pads was introduced. The knee slider was now made of harder leather. Easily replaceable, but not slippery enough for sliding.

In 1986, a new knee slider appeared. It was made of plastic and began to look oval-shaped like what we have now. But the true modern knee slider appeared in 1990 with the shape and materials we see today.

However, several riders continued to voice their objection as the plastic was too grippy. So, suit and knee slider makers kept working at improving the slider’s slipperiness and durability.

Into the new era

Modern knee sliders are made to several criteria: How slippery, how much feel is transmitted to the rider, durability, and, aerodynamics. Also available are rain knee sliders that are thicker so that riders do not lean their motorcycles as much as they do on a dry track.

Oh yeah, elbow sliders and even shoulder sliders are made of the same material.

So, spare a thought for the unassuming knee sliders.

 

The Yamaha NMAX “Turbo” was recently launched in Indonesia, and the name “Turbo” drew plenty of enquiries which pointed to some confusion. So, let us take a look at how turbo works.

Anyhow, the NMAX “Turbo” does not use a real turbocharger. Instead, it is a mode to switch the CVT into delivering instant torque for speeding up and overtaking.

There are several reasons why a turbocharger is not popular among motorcycles, although there was an era of turbocharged motorcycles.

What is a turbo?

An internal combustion engine requires air in order to work. Air is drawn in, mixed with fuel and combusted. This combustion changes the chemical energy in fuel to thermal energy (heat), which in turn pushes the piston down to rotate the crankshaft (kinetic energy).

However, each piston can pull in so much air. Not enough air means you cannot mix in too much fuel, otherwise the unburned fuel is wasted. So, since there is not enough air and fuel, the engine produces limited torque and power.

The turbo changes this by stuffing in more air, to be mixed with more fuel, so the engine can produce more power.

How does it work?

The basic premise is the turbocharger utilises exhaust gas to compress intake air, rather than letting it go to waste.

To be a little more specific, a compressor in the turbocharger pressurises the intake air before it enters the inlet manifold. In the case of a turbocharger, the compressor is powered by the kinetic energy of the engine’s exhaust gases, which is extracted by the turbocharger’s turbine.

The main components of the turbocharger are:

  • Turbine – usually a radial turbine design.
  • Compressor – usually a centrifugal compressor.
  • Centre housing hub rotating assembly.
  • Turbine

The turbine section (also called the “hot side” or “exhaust side” of the turbo) is where the rotational force is produced, in order to power the compressor (via a rotating shaft through the centre of a turbo). After the exhaust has spun the turbine it continues into the exhaust and out of the vehicle.

The turbine uses a series of blades to convert kinetic energy from the flow of exhaust gases to mechanical energy of a rotating shaft (which is used to power the compressor section). The turbine housings direct the gas flow through the turbine section, and the turbine itself can spin at speeds of up to 250,000 rpm.

  • Compressor

The compressor draws in outside air through the engine’s intake system, pressurises it, then feeds it into the combustion chambers (via the inlet manifold). The compressor section of the turbocharger consists of an impeller, a diffuser, and a volute housing.

  • Centre hub rotating assembly

The centre hub rotating assembly (CHRA) houses the shaft that connects the turbine to the compressor. A lighter shaft can help reduce turbo lag. The CHRA also contains a bearing to allow this shaft to rotate at high speeds with minimal friction.

Some CHRAs are water-cooled and have pipes for the engine’s coolant to flow through. One reason for water cooling is to protect the turbocharger’s lubricating oil from overheating.

The cons of a turbocharger

Every engineering solution creates another problem, so it is all a compromise. The same goes for the turbocharger, hence its limited use.

Turbo lag

Turbo lag refers to the delay that occurs between pressing the throttle and the turbocharger spooling up to provide boost pressure. This delay is due to the increasing exhaust gas flow (after the throttle is suddenly opened) taking time to spin up the turbine to speeds where boost is produced (due to the turbine’s inertia). The effect of turbo lag is reduced throttle response, in the form of a delay in the power delivery.

Then, when the boost pressure is sufficient, the engine’s torque suddenly increases and the vehicle takes off, sometimes surprising the operator.

There are ways around this lag, of course, but it requires a lot of tech (read: expensive).

Heat

Needless to say the system generates lots of heat, necessitating the use of oils that could stand up to the torture. Hence, only synthetic engine oils are recommended.

As mentioned in a previous article, motorcycle rider gear such as the helmet, jacket, pants, gloves, footwear must conform to a certain standard. And you may have seen such a tag above attached to a clothing item. But what is and why is CE-rated protector in motorcycle gear important?

By “protector” we mean the padding held in the areas where jacket, pants, or race suit that are prone to impact such as the elbows, shoulders, back, chest. However, there must a standard or standards to govern the tests and results otherwise manufacturers may as well make and claim whatever they wish.

What is the standard?

The standard which is the most prevalent the world over is CE “Conformité Européene” or EN “European Norm” EN 1621. Please refer to the picture below which is a replication of the label you can find in a motorcycle riding gear.

  • The motorcycle symbol shows that this is motorcyclists’ protective clothing against mechanical impact.
  • Below and outside the box, you can find these codes EN 1621-1:2012.
  • EN1621-1 mean the padding is for any of these areas:
    • S – Shoulder.
    • E – Elbow.
    • H – Hip.
    • K – Knee.
    • K + L – Knee, upper and middle tibia.
    • L – Shin (front of leg) below knee protector.
    • KP – Knuckle protection.
    • 2012 in the code means the year the EN 1621 was revised. It DOES NOT denote the year the item was made.

  •  Going back into the box, underneath that motorcyclist symbol:
    • E/K TYPE A means this padding can be used as the elbow or knee protector.
    • TYPE A refers to the coverage area:
    • A – reduced coverage area for special applications.
    • B – normal coverage area.

  •  If you see EN1621-2, the armour is for back protection only. However, there are different codes for different areas of coverage:
    • B or FB – Full back protector.
    • CB – Central back.
    • L or LB – Lumbar only.
  • The EN1621-3 standard applies to chest protectors.

Do note that gear manufacturers may or may not list the entire code in the garment or armour itself. However, you may find the full information on the cards attached to the piece of new gear.

Level of Protection

There are two levels of protection, Level 1 and Level 2. The amount of force transmitted through determines the level. For example:

  • Level 1 – Maximum transferred force must be below 18 kN, and no single value above 24 kN.
  • Level 2 – Maximum transferred force must be below 9 kN, and no single value above 12 kN.

This means a certified Level 2 armour is more protective than one that’s certified as Level 1.

Optional criteria

On this note, certain riding gear manufacturers may also describe the level of protection for other criteria, for example:

  • Performance Level 1 or 2.
  • Abrasion resistance Level 1 or 2.
  • Impact cut resistance Level 1 or 2.
  • Burst strength Level 1 or 2.
UNI prEN 17092-X:2017

The CE authorization body has implemented a new standard after 2018, although it does not appear on all riding gears, depending on where the item is sold in. This new standard encapsulates the level of protection within the code itself, unlike the previous EN1621-X, which only alludes the area of protection.

For example, it means Class AAA (the highest level) if you see the code prEN 17092-2:2017 (2017 being the year the gear was certified).

Class AAA (prEN 17092-2:20XX) Offers the highest level of protection for highest level of risk.
Class AA (prEN 17092-3:20XX) Second highest level of protection.
Class A (prEN 17092-4:20XX) Third highest level of protection. Comfortable for street riding on a daily basis.
Class B (prEN 17092-5:20XX) Abrasion protection equal to Class A but without impact protection.
Class C (prEN 17092-6:20XX) The least level of protection. Some armors may fall into this category as they resist impacts but not abrasion.
Conclusion

Once again, although the CE/EN standard for motorcyclist gear is not enforced in Malaysia, please do not take these ratings lightly, as it means that the protector was tested and found to provide some protection.

 

The advent of the Bluetooth communicator following the advancement in smartphone technology has added much to the enjoyment of riding.

But it also prompted motorcycle manufacturers to adopt it and create a new feature on their motorcycles. The communications or media suites of certain bikes connect to the user’s smartphone to stream music, make outgoing and receive incoming phone calls, and even provide turn-by-turn navigation via their instrument cluster (LCD or TFT screen) and to a Bluetooth communicator.

Several helmet manufacturers have also designed their helmets to fit such device.

So now, the communicator is no longer a luxury item, instead it is a necessity for motorcycle riders. I will honestly say that I was against using the device when it first appeared on the market. Now, I never ride anywhere without one.

Here are several benefits of using the device.

1. Communication between rider and pillion

 

This is the obvious place to start. Please allow me to recount an experience.

My missus and I were riding to Penang. As we reached Sungai Perak, she called out to me by pointing ahead. I thought she was pointing at the river, so I turned around and said, “Yeah, nice river.” Then she said something which very muffled in the helmet. I couldn’t hear her. Passing the bridge, she began tapping my vigorously so I pulled to the side of the road. It was then when she yelled, “I WANTED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!”

Needless to say it escalated from there. Me being blamed for not paying attention, that why was she fated to have a hearing-challenged husband, yada, yada, yada.

But it all changed when we installed Bluetooth communicators in our helmets. No more miscommunication, no more yelling into the wind, no more fighting.

This is also why more and more advanced riding schools are using such device as it provides clear communications between the instructor and students.

2. Safety

Whether you are using Waze, Google Maps, Petal, or any other navigation app, it sometimes warns you – audibly – of upcoming hazards that other nice motorists keyed in. You can hear this warning when you are driving, but you cannot do so when you are riding your motorcycle – unless you connected your phone or TFT to a Bluetooth communicator.

These voice prompts also prepare you the distance to the next turn or destination. As such, you do not have to keep down at the phone or screen.

Also, using a communicator, especially one which lets you issue voice commands via your phone’s Siri or Google Assistant, or through its built-in voice command feature, keeps you eyes on the road and hands on the handlebar.

3. Staying awake and alert

Droning for kilometre after kilometre on the highway while being baked by the sun will turn you brain off very soon, even if you are riding on an intercity highway. So, stream some of your favourite songs or listening to a radio station breaks the monotony.

However, we advise you to consciously switch between mental modes on where you are riding and traffic conditions, when you have the communicator on. For example, you can sing along to a song on the open highway, but push the music in the background and focus on riding when you are in populated areas or difficult conditions i.e. the city, kampungs, in the rain, etc.

4. Group dynamics and safety

It is especially helpful for every participant or at least among the key individuals such as marshals in a convoy to have a communicator. Hand signals are sometimes not enough, or some individuals in the middle of the convoy are lazy to convey them from the convoy’s leader.

Or in the situation of being separated, which always happens. The separated groups will find it difficult to reach each other as one group may be riding while the other group is trying to call. This will, without a doubt, lead to some sour faces.

5. Never miss a call

While this was not why I got a communicator in the first place, hence placing it last on the list. However, I do appreciate the fact that I can receive important calls while I am riding.

You probably are already aware that reputable motorcycle gear such as jackets, pants, gloves, race suits, helmets are CE approved. And yes, there is also a CE standard for motorcycle footwear.

As you may be aware by now, the European standards committee is very serious when it comes to safety; so much so that their standards have been adopted by the United Nations. The CE mark is not something to be taken lightly, because insurance companies certain European countries will deny claims to injured motorcyclists found not wearing CE-certified gear.

CE standard for motorcycle footwear

The current CE standard for motorcycle footwear is EN 13634:2017. This is the third and latest revision after the standard was established in 2002. The revisions concerns how the shoes and boots are tested besides other safety criteria.

  1. The label shows that this is a personal protective equipment (PPE) for motorcycling use.
  1. The CE standard for motorcycle footwear, EN 13634:20XX. The year at the end notes the year of the EN 13634 standard was revised, in this case, 2017. It DOES NOT denote the year the footwear was made.
  1. Height of the footwear. “1” is for ankle height, while “2” is for tall boots that cover the shin. Some manufacturers forgo this digit.
  1. Level of abrasion resistance. The footwear is divided into two areas: Area A includes the sole, front and back of the boot. Area B includes all other areas outside A. Three samples are cut from each area and they are held against a moving abrasive belt. Thus, the abrasion level is determined from how soon the material develops a hole.
    • Level 1 means the Area A sample lasted a minimum of 1.5 seconds while the Area B sample lasted a minimum of 5 seconds.
    • Level 2 is certified when the Area A sample lasted at least 2.5 seconds, and Area B lasted a minimum of 12 seconds before holing.
  1. Impact cut resistance – how well the footwear holds up against sharp objects. A blade is mounted to a block which is then dropped at different speeds onto the footwear’s Areas A and B.
    • For Area A, the blade is dropped at 2 m/s. The blade must not penetrate more than 25mm to earn Level 1 and Level 2 rating.
    • For Area B, the blade is dropped at 2.8 m/s. Level 1 approval is accorded if the blade does not protrude more than 25mm. Level 2 approval is given if the blade does not go through more than 15mm.
  1. Transverse rigidity – The strength for the footwear in resisting being crushed i.e. motorcycle dropping onto the wearer’s foot.
    • The widest part of the footwear is positioned between two compression plates that presses together at 30 mm/min. An apparatus records the force required to compress the sole. The machine is stopped when the plates stop compressing or the force remains constant or the sole has been crushed by 20mm. The test is repeated three times.
    • If a force less than 1kN compressed the sole to 20mm, the footwear fails the test. If the force was above 1kN to 1.4kN, the footwear is certified at Level 1 for transverse rigidity. If 1.5kN or higher was required to compress the footwear by 20mm, it gets a Level 2 pass.
Optional tests

Manufacturers may opt to submit their products for additional tests. The passed criteria will be printed on the label beneath the mandatory boxes.

  1. IPS/IPS – Impact protection for the ankle or shin. The footwear is cut open at the sole and the protector is subjected to a force of 10 joules. The protector must not transmit more than 5kN through it. Should the ankle protector pass, IP will be printed on the label. If the shin protector passes, IPS will be indicated.
  1. WR – Water resistance. There are two ways of testing for this. The first is a person donning the footwear and walking a total of 1km in shallow water. Another method is by fixing the footwear to a machine with toes and replicating 4,600 steps while submerged in water. The area of dampness inside the footwear must not exceed 3cm2.
  1. FO – Fuel and oil resistance on the sole. The sample footwear is first weighed before being soaked in fuel for 22 hours. It is then removed and weighed again. The new weight should not increase more than 12%.
  1. SRA/SRB/SRC – Sole’s slip resistance. The tests are carried out with a mechanical heel placed at a 7-degree angle. If the footwear’s label shows “SRA,” it passed on a ceramic tile surface covered with diluted soap. “SRB” means steel floor treated with glycerol. “SRC” means the footwear passed both the SRA and SRB tests.
  1. Breathability of upper parts – If the footwear’s label has a “B” on it, it has passed the test for moisture vapour escape.
  1. WAD – Water absorption/desorption of inner. The footwear is tested to see how much water gets soaked into the inner and how much of that is released.
In closing

Do consider wearing CE tested footwear when you ride because they were exhaustively tested before being approved for sale.

Granted, there are also motorcycle footwear in the market without without CE approval but there is no telling how well they will protect your leg and feet in any accident.

And no, your Nike Air Jordan is not CE certified for motorcycle riding.

We posted a news item about obstructing the traffic offences being the most during Operasi Hormat Undang-undang (Ops HUU) which is currently running. So much so that a total of 15,075 summons related to the offence were issued in just seven days.

Accordingly, it is only appropriate that we look at the definition of the offence of “obstructing the traffic” more closely.

What does “obstructing the traffic” mean?

Obstructing the traffic refers to actions that interrupt, prevent, or restrict the smooth flow of traffic on the road.

What is classified as a traffic obstruction offence?

These offenses are governed by Malaysian traffic laws, such as the Road Transport Act 1987, and may result in legal action such as a summons, fine, or other disciplinary action against the responsible party. The purpose of this enforcement is to ensure the safety and smoothness of traffic for all road users.

This can include various types of errors such as:

  • Illegal parking: Parking a vehicle in a place that is not allowed or that obstructs traffic, such as at an intersection, in a pedestrian area, or in a no-parking zone.

  • Abandoning damaged vehicle/vehicle involved in an accident: Leaving a damaged vehicle or one involved in an accident in the middle of the road without taking steps to remove it or without giving adequate warning to other drivers.
  • Using the emergency lane: Using the emergency lane for purposes other than an actual emergency, such as cutting through heavy traffic.

  • Stopping in the yellow box: Entering and stopping in a yellow box when conditions do not allow a smooth passage is an offence.
  • Unlawful activities on the road: Carrying out activities such as selling goods, waiting for passengers, or any other activity that obstructs the flow of traffic in unauthorised areas.

  • Temporary construction or obstruction: Placing cones, barricades, or any temporary structure on the road without a permit that may impede or block traffic.
  • Unmanaged traffic congestion: Not taking appropriate action to manage traffic congestion during major events, accidents, or emergency situations.

 

We shall get to the point immediately. The “W” in engine oil viscosity stands for “winter.” It is part of the viscosity grading system established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to classify motor oils according to their viscosity characteristics.

In a motor oil grade, such as 10W-40, the “10W” indicates the oil’s viscosity at low temperatures (winter conditions). Here’s what the “W” and the numbers mean:

  1. Low-Temperature Viscosity (W)
    • The number before the “W” (e.g., 10W) represents the oil’s viscosity at 0°F (-17.8°C), reflecting how the oil performs in cold temperatures. Lower numbers indicate better flow at low temperatures, meaning the oil will be less thick and more capable of protecting the engine during cold starts.
    • But bear in mind that “cold” in temperate climates mean temperatures ranging from above -3 deg Celsius to below 18 deg Celsius.
    • Thus the “W” viscosity DOES NOT apply to tropical countries like Malaysia since our median temperature is 27 deg Celsius. Even the coldest places in Malaysia such as Cameron Highlands rarely see 15 deg Celsius.

  1. High-Temperature Viscosity:
    • The number after the “W” (e.g., 40 in 10W-40) represents the oil’s viscosity at 212°F (100°C), which is roughly the operating temperature of an engine. Higher numbers indicate a thicker oil at high temperatures, providing better protection under heavy load and high temperatures.
Example: 10W-40 Oil
  • 10W: Indicates the oil flows well at low temperatures, making it suitable for cold climates.
  • 40: Indicates the oil maintains sufficient thickness to protect the engine at high operating temperatures.

This system helps ensure that the oil can provide adequate protection and performance under a wide range of operating conditions, from cold starts in winter to high-temperature running.

The reason why engine oils sold in Malaysia have both winter and summer grades is because these oils are also available in other countries, including those that have winter seasons.

The origins of “multigrade” engine oils

Engine oils used to be single-grade only. There are still single grade engine oils, but these are now rare. By single grade we mean, you would buy an oil with one viscosity, such as SAE 10, SAE 30 or SAE 40, and so forth.

So, you would use the lowest viscosity grade possible, such as SAE 5 or SAE 10, during winter months when everything is frozen solid. The “thin” oil keeps itself viscous so that you could start your engine. However, the oil will be too thin when the engine reaches its operating temperature.

On the other hand, you will need to swap out that winter oil to something “heavier” in the hotter months, such as SAE 40, SAE 50, etc. This is to keep the oil from getting too thin in the hot weather. However, this oil will turn into a block of gel in the winter months. Even starting on very cold mornings such as 5 deg Celsius is a chore as the oil is too thick.

As such, oil engineers managed to develop additives that makes an engine oil thin enough that it does not freeze in winter, and stays thick enough when the engine is hot. This gave birth to “multigrade” engine oils that we see today, such as the aforementioned SAE 10W-40 grade. Therefore, you could use only one oil throughout the year.

The Vespa brand has been around for nearly 80 years, going through ups and downs, and finally arriving at this juncture as an iconic motorcycle brand. So, to celebrate the upcoming Vespa Day celebrations, here is a (very) concise history of Vespa.

In the beginning

Vespa’s story began in 1946, in the aftermath of World War II, when Enrico Piaggio, seeking to provide Italians with a practical mode of transportation, collaborated with aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio to create the first Vespa model, the Vespa 98.

Ironically, D’Ascanio made it clear from the outset that he hated motorcycles, even from when he was approached by Ferdinando Innocenti (the founder of Lambretta) earlier. To him, motorcycles are bulky, dirty, and unreliable. However, it was this perspective that gave rise to Vespa’s construction and iconic shape.

Anyway, the name “Vespa” means “Wasp” in Italian, a nod to the bike’s buzzing sound.

Iconic models
  • Vespa 98 (1946): The Vespa 98, introduced in 1946, marked the birth of the Vespa brand. It was the first scooter produced by Piaggio and featured a 98cc engine. Designed by aeronautical engineer Corradino D’Ascanio, the Vespa 98 boasted a revolutionary design with a step-through frame, enclosed engine, and small wheels. This model set the standard for future Vespa scooters and laid the groundwork for the brand’s success.
  • Vespa 125 (1948): Following the success of the Vespa 98, Piaggio introduced the Vespa 125 in 1948. This model featured a larger 125cc engine, offering improved performance and versatility. The Vespa 125 quickly gained popularity both in Italy and abroad, solidifying Vespa’s reputation for quality and innovation. It became a symbol of post-war reconstruction and economic revival in Europe.

  • Vespa GS Series (1955): The Vespa GS Series, introduced in 1955, represented a significant advancement in Vespa’s design and performance capabilities. The GS (Gran Sport) models were equipped with larger engines, ranging from 125cc to 200cc, and featured sportier styling and improved handling. The Vespa GS 150, in particular, became renowned for its speed and agility, winning races and capturing the hearts of enthusiasts. The GS Series cemented Vespa’s status as a manufacturer of high-performance scooters and further expanded its global reach.

  • Vespa Primavera (1968-Present): Capturing the spirit of the swinging sixties, the Primavera became a symbol of youth culture with its sleek lines and vibrant colors, remaining a favorite among riders worldwide.

  • Vespa PX Series (1977-2007): Renowned for its robust build and timeless design, the PX Series became synonymous with Vespa’s commitment to quality and craftsmanship.

  • Vespa GTS Series (2005-Present): Combining performance and style, the GTS Series has become a modern classic, offering riders a powerful and comfortable riding experience.

Current production facilities

Vespa’s production facilities are strategically located around the globe to ensure accessibility to riders worldwide. With manufacturing plants in Italy, Vietnam, India, and Brazil, Vespa seamlessly blends traditional craftsmanship with advanced technology to produce scooters that meet the highest standards of quality and reliability.

The future of Vespa

As the world embraces sustainable transportation solutions, Vespa is committed to shaping a greener future. The brand has introduced electric models such as the Vespa Elettrica, offering riders an eco-friendly alternative without compromising on performance or style. Additionally, Vespa continues to explore innovative technologies such as connectivity features and autonomous riding systems, reaffirming its position as a pioneer in urban mobility.

In conclusion

From its humble beginnings in post-war Italy to its status as a global icon, Vespa has continued to evolve and innovate, staying true to its core values of style, functionality, and accessibility. With a rich history of historic and iconic models, state-of-the-art production facilities, and a commitment to sustainability, Vespa is poised to lead the way towards a brighter, more efficient future of urban mobility.

You have probably heard about the catalytic converter for your vehicle, be it a motorcycle  or car.

The catalytic converter has been fitted to virtually all vehicles on the road for decades now, as a device to clean up vehicle exhaust emissions before it is released into the environment. But how does it work?

Let us start with what comes out of the exhaust

A vehicle’s engine produces gases called emissions from burning fossil fuels in combination with air. Vehicle emissions contain many different chemical compounds, some more harmful than others.

Some of these by-products are perfectly safe. For example, air is 78% nitrogen gas (N2). Some of this nitrogen reacts with oxygen during combustion. This produces some nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are toxic.

Some byproducts of combustion can cause health problems, including breathing difficulties, cardiovascular disease and cancer. They are caused by nitrogen oxides (NOx), unburned hydrocarbons, carbon particles, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Some byproducts can also pollute our environment. Acid precipitation, air and water pollution are caused by carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur oxides.

Car engines also release carbon monoxide (CO). This poisonous gas can replace oxygen in your bloodstream. If you breathe enough of it, you could suffocate.

French engineer Eugène Houdry invented the catalytic converter around 1950. He had spend most of his career developing better fuels for cars. However, scientists were beginning to learn about air pollution caused by cars by the time. So, Houdry designed the catalytic converter to clean exhaust emissions.

However, emissions from leaded gasoline damaged catalytic converters. By 1975, scientists had developed unleaded gasoline. That year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made catalytic converters mandatory on all new cars. Other countries soon followed.

The catalytic converter is attached to the exhaust pipe underneath a car. It is that bulge along the exhaust downpipe, with a ceramic honeycomb inside it. The honeycomb is coated with a mix of platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd) and rhodium (Rh). These noble metals are good at resisting oxidation, corrosion, and acid. This means they can stand up to all the chemicals released by the engine.

These metals are the catalysts. Catalysts are compounds that trigger a chemical reaction without being affected themselves. Catalytic converters have a honeycomb structure because it provides a lot of surface area for a lot of reactions.

The catalysts in catalytic converters cause oxidation and reduction (redox) reactions to reduce harmful emissions.

Platinum and rhodium take part in the reduction reactions by reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) in exhaust. They do this by removing nitrogen atoms from nitrogen oxide molecules (NO and NO2), and releasing oxygen atoms. The free oxygen atoms form oxygen gas (O2).

Then, the nitrogen atoms attached to the catalyst react with each other. This creates nitrogen gas (N2). Oxygen and nitrogen gases are both safe to breathe.

Reduction Reactions

Nitric acid 2NO → N2 + O2

Nitrogen dioxide 2NO2 → N2 + 2O2

Platinum and palladium take part in oxidation reactions. These reduce hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO) in exhaust. First, carbon monoxide and oxygen combine to form carbon dioxide (CO2). Then, unburned hydrocarbons and oxygen combine to form carbon dioxide and water (H2O). This is why you may see water dripping out of the exhaust, especially on a cold morning. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is safe to breathe at low concentrations.

Oxidation Reactions

Reaction 1: 2CO + O2 → 2CO2

Reaction 2: HC + O2 → CO2 + H2O

Modern catalytic converters also have one or two oxygen sensors. It detects the ratio of fuel and air in the exhaust. Too much fuel in the engine leaves unburnt hydrocarbons after combustion. Too much oxygen produces more nitrogen oxides. If the ratio is not correct, the oxygen sensor changes the amount of fuel going into the engine.

There is a catch

Catalytic converters only start to work at between 200 to 300 degrees Celsius, and work fully between 400 to 600 degrees Celsius. As such, the engine emits the same amount of pollutants as a vehicle without a converter at start up. This is why modern fuel injected engines run at higher RPMs at startup in order to get the converter up to working temperature quickly.

Catalytic converter theft

This is a real problem around the world, including in Malaysia. Thieves are after the platinum which could be resold in the black market.

Conclusion

We have only covered the basics of the catalytic converter, as there is so much more to write about.

Riding at night can be a lot of fun.

Several friends, myself included, prefer to ride at night for several reason. Among them, there is less traffic to contend with, the air is cooler, and no one calling you about work.

Unfortunately, most road accidents happen at night. But there are ways to mitigate the risks. Here are several tips that could make your night-time ride safer and more enjoyable.

#1. Visibility to others

Forget about those motorcycle ads that show a rider clad in all-black gear riding a black motorcycle at night.

Motorcycles have smaller cross-sections thus the headlights are closer together. A car driver who has never ridden a motorcycle could easily misjudge a motorcycle’s. It is therefore important to wear gear that enhance our presence, from a brightly coloured helmet, to a fluorescent yellow safety vest with large reflector panels, and several pieces of well-place reflective stickers on the bike and around the rims.

Trust us when we say that other road users will take better care when they see a human figure on a motorcycle, rather than just the rear light which makes them dismiss it as “just a soulless machine.”

#2. Visibility for us

Make sure you replace the headlight’s bulbs every couple of years or so (except if they are LED). Even the best halogen lightbulbs deteriorate over time, but they do so very progressively at an unnoticeable rate.

There are riders who say there is no issue with replacing the halogen bulbs with LED bulbs, but there are also who found the LED bulbs damaged their headlamps and/or electrical systems. As such, do approach this with care.

We understand that some motorcycles’ headlights are dimmer than a torchlight’s. However, installing auxiliary lights i.e. spotlights is against the law in Malaysia, but use them responsibly if do install them anyway. Make sure they are pointed down the road and not upwards into traffic and blinding other road users.

#3. Do not stare into oncoming headlights

The headlights on cars and even some motorcycles are awfully bright these days, most probably due to misalignment. Staring into bright lights will degrade your night vision, and your eyes will need time to readjust. This is especially dangerous if you are riding around curvy roads.

Avert your eyes from oncoming headlights and concentrate on your path ahead. Let the vehicle pass you if its headlamps are blasting into your rearview mirror, or turn the mirrors to different angles for a moment.

#4. Slow down

This may be further down the list but it is no less important. Riding at night like you do during the daytime just increases the risks as it is much harder to spot hazards. At the same time, open up your other senses such as smell to pick up scents of rubbish water or fuel spills.

#5. Scan your surroundings

Make sure you scan your surroundings all the time. You can never know if another vehicle is approaching you at a high speed without lights. Do not just rely on the mirror – also look over your shoulders from time-to-time.

#6. Stay comfy

Make sure your jacket is sufficient in keeping out the cold, especially when you are riding after a rain spell, on a country road or up a mountain. Shivering in the cold robs you of your concentration and you need 100% construction every time we ride, especially at night.

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