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Old 01-20-2014, 09:19 PM   #1
eatpasta OP
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Have bikes stopped progressing?

Im sure that Im not the only one that noticed a huge gap in CW's new article "The Ninja Turns 30". On the comparison chart they compare the brand new Ninja 1000 to the 1984 Ninja 900 and it breaks down something like this;

2014 Ninja 1000 // 1984 Ninja 900

Dry Weight: 488 // 529
MPG: 37 // 46
0-60: 2.6 // 3.0
1/4: 10.45 // 11.18
HP: 123 // 113

The first thing I noticed was that the 1984 Ninja got 9 mpg better than the new bike! That doesnt seem possible..... you would think that huge breakthroughs in metallurgy, oil technology, engine design etc would make modern engines massively lighter and more efficient and that the new Ninja would at least be maintaining economy. I am no engineer but it would seem that's just not the case. For using 9 more MPG, it doesn't really seem like its getting that much more performance.
And it's not like the old bike is slow! That's just not the case - its plenty quick and you could argue that if the old bike lost the 40 pounds needed to bring it even in weight, that it might actually be quicker. Would losing 40 lbs buy you .4 at the drag stip? Experts?
I mean Im sure the new bike handles and stops lightyears better than the new bike, but besides that it doesnt seem like we have come any distance at all since 1984 - at least based on numbers alone.

As I was riding my Speed Triple today and having a blast I was thinking about my 1983 CB1100F and how it would measure up by sheer number just like the two bikes above. The Speed Triple of course handles lightyears better than my old CB and stops much better as well - but how to they measure?

2006 Triumph Speed Triple // 1983 Honda CB1100F

Dry Weight: 417 // 535
MPG: 34-41 // 35-45
0-60: 3.2 // 4
1/4: 11.3 // 11.13
HP: 118 // 110

I didnt have these numbers handy so I have to choose from a bunch of different sources, so who knows what the accuracy is like but give or take, the Speed Triple is by no means a lot faster, especially considering its carrying 80 less pounds. Having ridden both of these bikes extensively I can tell you without question that the Triumph is a much easier bike to ride, especially fast and is much more confidence inspiring.

So whats the conclusion? The biggest leaps forward for motorcycles in the last 30 years is chassis design, suspension and brakes? Have we really stopped progressing in that way?

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Old 01-20-2014, 09:37 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by eatpasta View Post
The first thing I noticed was that the 1984 Ninja got 9 mpg better than the new bike! That doesnt seem possible.....


Probably due to the 55 mph national speed limit.
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Old 01-20-2014, 09:49 PM   #3
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Really, you're going to compare the Ninja 900 to the Ninja 1K? How about APPLES to APPLES instead.

The 900 Ninja was Kawi's state of the art, high performance sport bike at the time. The Ninja 1K is not in the same category, it's the Ninja ZX10R

437 lbs wet
177 HP
ABS
Traction Control
FBW FI
And about a bajillion other advances.
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Old 01-21-2014, 01:54 AM   #4
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You mention mileage. They squeezed more h.p and torque out of them at the expense of mileage. Not the tradeoff I'd like to pay for, but there it is. I perfer mileage.
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Old 01-21-2014, 02:38 AM   #5
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Mileage on motorcycles annoys me. I'm with you that advances in technology, lighter weight, etc. should have improved mileage, but for a machine that weighs around 500 pounds and generally carries one person, occasionally two (unless you are in a third world country...) 35-45 mpg is not a great argument for the fuel economy of a motorcycle. I used this as an early rationalization for buying one, but automobile manufacturers seem to pursue fuel economy combined with moderate performance as a common benchmark. My car weighs about 3500 pounds, carries four plus cargo, has AC, traction control, ABS, etc., can comfortably cruise on the autobahn at around 85 mph for long distances and I average between 390 and 400 miles on a tank of gas.

Can motorcycles progress technologically to provide both performance AND fuel economy commensurate with weight and engine displacement?
What say the experts and engineers here?
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Old 01-21-2014, 03:30 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by majlee_vmi View Post
Mileage on motorcycles annoys me. I'm with you that advances in technology, lighter weight, etc. should have improved mileage, but for a machine that weighs around 500 pounds and generally carries one person, occasionally two (unless you are in a third world country...) 35-45 mpg is not a great argument for the fuel economy of a motorcycle. I used this as an early rationalization for buying one, but automobile manufacturers seem to pursue fuel economy combined with moderate performance as a common benchmark. My car weighs about 3500 pounds, carries four plus cargo, has AC, traction control, ABS, etc., can comfortably cruise on the autobahn at around 85 mph for long distances and I average between 390 and 400 miles on a tank of gas.

Can motorcycles progress technologically to provide both performance AND fuel economy commensurate with weight and engine displacement?
What say the experts and engineers here?
Honda brought automotive engineers in to design a motorcycle and they created the Goldwing. And behold, it got car-like fuel efficiency.
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Old 01-21-2014, 03:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eatpasta View Post
2014 Ninja 1000 // 1984 Ninja 900

Dry Weight: 488 // 529
MPG: 37 // 46
0-60: 2.6 // 3.0
1/4: 10.45 // 11.18
HP: 123 // 113


I mean Im sure the new bike handles and stops lightyears better than the new bike, but besides that it doesnt seem like we have come any distance at all since 1984 - at least based on numbers alone.
First and foremost: Suspension and brakes are important! How can you say it handles and brakes lightyears better but hasn't improved?

Second it's lighter, has more power and thus accelerates harder. I call that a development, maybe not as much as we hoped, but it is and we should keep in mind these 2.6s are on the edge of physics.

For mpg... it's just the wrong environment. Compare the bikes at peak power and see what happens to gas consumption.
To much power for the street? You don't need that? Than you got the wrong bike. 20hp are fine to run the engine at its sweet spot.
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Old 01-21-2014, 05:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eatpasta View Post
Im sure that Im not the only one that noticed a huge gap in CW's new article "The Ninja Turns 30". On the comparison chart they compare the brand new Ninja 1000 to the 1984 Ninja 900 and it breaks down something like this;

2014 Ninja 1000 // 1984 Ninja 900

Dry Weight: 488 // 529
MPG: 37 // 46
0-60: 2.6 // 3.0
1/4: 10.45 // 11.18
HP: 123 // 113

well, the 1984 Ninja 900 was actually a ΄superbike΄ back then. And with the “Ninja 1000”, you are probably referring to a model, that is sold as Z1000SX over here, a sport-tourer, that you can buy with original sidecases, etc. Would make more sense to compare the 1984 bike to a 2014 ZX-10R, which is a superbike (and probably also has ΄Ninja΄ in its name in the US).
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Old 01-21-2014, 05:28 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by majlee_vmi View Post
Mileage on motorcycles annoys me. I'm with you that advances in technology, lighter weight, etc. should have improved mileage,
weight of vehicle has very little to do with fuel economy compared to aerodynamics

there's only so much you can do to improve aerodynamics short of an enclosed body
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:07 AM   #10
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Don't forget about the traction control systems that they're running in a lot of the sportbikes now. And how about ABS?

It keeps advancing.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:20 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by randyo View Post
weight of vehicle has very little to do with fuel economy compared to aerodynamics

there's only so much you can do to improve aerodynamics short of an enclosed body
There is a lot that can be done engine-wise, or with the gearbox. I mean, if you look at how a motorcycle gearbox works, it wouldn't be too difficult to add an overdrive cog and pull revs down at a cruise, combined with a powerband optimized for somewhat lower revs as well. Granted, without displacement or some form of forced induction, it will never quite be like a car, but all of the bikes I've seen that have these characteristics are accompanied by a huge size, tons of weight (actually very important for city mileage) and generally less aerodynamic shapes. It can be done, and I bet there are bikes out there with that target, but then think about the motorcycle market.

Most people who have bikes in first-world countries don't use them as primary transportation. People on this site might be something of an exception, though there are others. A lot of road bikes are purchased as fun, fast toys. Fuel economy doesn't matter as much. It's not as much of a selling point, and people see "oh wow, 40 mpg" because it's better than their car, which is really what matters to most people. As long as its better than a car, power, speed, storage, other things are all more worthwhile as sales points.

I think motorcycles have progressed quite a bit over the years; you just don't see the radical changes of the auto industry. The profit just isn't there in a motorcycle, so companies tend to be more conservative. ABS, cruise, heated bits, gear improvements, tires, brakes, suspension, emissions, instrumentation-it's all come along. Weight has also gone down in most segments. My GS750 weights in over 530 lbs, and it is not a big bike.

We're starting to get things like LED headlights, active suspension, and other tech, too. I don't think it will be too long before forced induction makes a comeback, as it has in the automotive world. It doesn't have to be a radical change to be progress.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:02 AM   #12
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Keep in mind guys that I personally didn't do the comparison, it was in Cycle World. Their chart was thought provoking for sure. They perhaps aren't the perfect bikes to compare but it raises some interesting questions.
Yes we have progressed in leaps in bounds as far as tire technology, brakes, chassis design but seemingly backwards in some ways.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:28 AM   #13
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a lot of road bikes are purchased as fun, fast toys. Fuel economy doesn't matter as much. It's not as much of a selling point, and people see "oh wow, 40 mpg" because it's better than their car, which is really what matters to most people. As long as its better than a car, power, speed, storage, other things are all more worthwhile as sales points.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:39 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by eatpasta View Post
Keep in mind guys that I personally didn't do the comparison, it was in Cycle World. Their chart was thought provoking for sure. They perhaps aren't the perfect bikes to compare but it raises some interesting questions.
Yes we have progressed in leaps in bounds as far as tire technology, brakes, chassis design but seemingly backwards in some ways.
I saw the same article. Frankly, I'm not sure how much I believe their mpg numbers for the ninja 900 or the ninja 1k.

That said, no one buys a Ninja 1000 in the US for the fuel efficiency, and I'm sure shaving .4 seconds off the 0-60 time is the antithesis of efficiency. Never mind that the proper comparison is, as others have said, the zx10r.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:41 AM   #15
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Keep in mind guys that I personally didn't do the comparison, it was in Cycle World. Their chart was thought provoking for sure. They perhaps aren't the perfect bikes to compare but it raises some interesting questions.
Yes we have progressed in leaps in bounds as far as tire technology, brakes, chassis design but seemingly backwards in some ways.
One of the most powerful sportsbikes of its time vs. an average sporttourer of today, and someone's surprised that their peak hp output is similar?

Hey, how about KTM1190 Adv, or Ducati MTS1200? Now you can have 150hp on an allroad-bike *. Not so long ago it was rare to get even 100. (not saying peak hp is so important..)

* as well as ABS, traction control, or even advanced electronically adjusted suspension.
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