Share this Article Print Email a Friend Best Technology of 2017: TFT (Thin-Film Transistor) Displays TFT displays are a type of LCD flat-panel display screen in which each pixel is controlled by one to four transistors, which can combine to yield full-color readouts. Not only does this type of display offer great resolution, it allows manufacturers full customization of how the user interface interacts with the rider.
In more performance-oriented bikes, we see normal street-riding displays, while more track-focused screens can be made available at the push of a button. Track-specific screens generally focus on tachometer, lap timers, and gear indicators to give trackday enthusiasts an easier intake of information that is important while spinning laps. As with most technology, now that TFT has been around for most top of the line sport and touring motorcycles, we are seeing the tech trickle down to bikes such as KTM’s 390 Duke which is a great city or beginner bike and now, with high-end accoutrements.
“Some old-school riders may deride the abandonment of analog gauges, as I once did, but TFT instruments are a step forward in delivering all the info a rider needs,” says MO’s Editor-in-Chief, Kevin Duke. You only need to look at modern aircraft and Formula 1 cars to know which way the wind’s blowing. The highly legible and configurable contemporary displays are excellent and significantly add to a gauge panel’s visual appeal.
” TFT Displays earn our Motorcycle.com Best of Technology award for a few reasons; they allow manufacturers to easily update user interfaces and allow end users customization as well depending on their riding disciplines. The potential for future applications of TFT display also include touch capabilities – like on the new Yamaha Star Venture, which works great even with gloved fingers. If you have been around through the early days of phones with touch screens, you have likely used a TFT touch screen on a previous mobile device.
As the list of electronics grow on new motorcycles, so too have the control modules on each side of the handlebar. TFT touch displays could be a solution to slimming those plastic bits down to their more svelte days. Honorable Mention: Suzuki GSX-R1000 Variable Valve Timing Cars, where an extra pound or 10 is no big deal and there’s plenty of room under the hood, have been varying their valve timing for decades as a means to broaden their powerbands.
Motorcycles not so much. After the withering attack upon Honda’s VTEC system in its 2002 VFR800, which the critics panned as too heavy, too complex and too ineffective, it seems like the other manufacturers got the message: KISS. Ducati went against one of its own design principles when it added Desmodromic Variable Timing to the 2015 Multistrada 1200, since the system also added 11 pounds. Gasp! It was worth it on the Multi, but the added weight is why you don’t see DVT on a Panigale, said Ducati.
Which is all the more reason to be impressed with Suzuki’s adding VVT to its all-new 2018 GSX-R1000. Suzuki Racing VVT (Variable Valve Timing) is way simpler than most systems, and therein lies its genius. What happens is that 12 steel balls running in slanted grooves are spun outward by centrifugal force at high rpm. Their carrier mechanism attaches to the intake cam sprocket, and retards intake cam timing at a pre-set rpm, “adding significantly to high-rpm power” while adding very little weight to the engine’s spinning mass.
Here’s a video to show VVT in action. The new GSX-R did not win our recent big Superbike Shootout, but a quick look at the dyno chart shows VVT had it running with or ahead of the best of the 1000cc four-cylinders from around 4000 rpm, right up until its noise-quelling software shuts the party down at 11,000 rpm. What might’ve been… Suzuki says it developed its VVT system in MotoGP racing, where it’s served reliably for quite a few years.
Some say we’re too easily impressed by bright, shiny objects, but Suzuki’s 12 steel balls make VVT our Top Tech of 2017. Motorcycle.com Best of 2017 CategoriesSee Also: Cat On Motorcycle
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Share this Article Print Email a Friend Best Touring Motorcycle of the Year Winner: Harley-Davidson Touring Line Touring motorcycles with their plethora of luxury features tend to be the flagship models for manufacturers because touring riders demand comfort, handling, big power, weather protection, and storage space – and they’re willing to pay for it. Thanks to the Project Rushmore upgrades first seen in the 2014 model year, the ‘Glides have delivered first-class accommodations and the technological features touring riders expect.
Just take a look at the Boom! infotainment system and the LED Daymaker headlight. Be it with a frame-mounted fairing as with the Road Glide or a fairing-mounted one on the Electra Glides (among others), the Harley-Davidson touring line commanded a large portion of the luxury touring market. Still, the Twin Cam engine had begun to show its age. Well, all that changed in 2017 with the release of the Milwaukee-Eight engine.
The most obvious change in the powerplant is right there in each engine’s model name – four valves per cylinder for a total of eight tappets escorting the combustibles in and out of the party. The Twin Cam 103 engine grew to 107 cu. in. thanks to its new bore and stroke of 3.937 in. x 4.375 in. (99.999mm x 111.125mm) while the 110 jumped up to 114 cu. in. via its 4.0-in. x 4.5-in. (101.6mm x 114.
3mm) bore and stroke. Besides being larger in displacement, the engine’s four-valve head is said to flow 50% more than the Twin Cam’s. Two different variants of the M-E engine were created to handle the heat the expected touring loads the bikes would handle. The Twin-Cooled heads utilize liquid-cooling from water-jackets around the exhaust valves while the standard M-E uses oil to carry heat away.
In response to customer requests, the Milwaukee-Eight engine is a claimed 75% smoother at idle. Once underway, vibration is not an issue until the upper reaches of the rpm range. While one might expect an engine which Harley states has 20% more flywheel mass to rev more slowly than before, that would be wrong. Instead, blipping the throttle at idle has the engine spin up much more quickly than previous Big Twins from the Motor Company.
Out on the highway, the comparison to the Twin Cam engine is all positive. Coupled with the torque-assist clutch, which reduces lever effort by a claimed 7%, the riding experience is much improved. Harley’s engineers also took the opportunity to upgrade the suspension. The shocks are now large-piston emulsion-style items, with the left shock gaining a knob to hydraulically adjust the rear preload.
Gone is the air-adjustable preload that could leak over time, allowing the suspension to settle and use up its travel. Now that the left shock features hydraulically adjustable preload, the rider simply cranks on more or less preload, and it stays set, forever. The range of preload adjustability is now 30% larger than previously. Harley-Davidson’s big changes to its touring line have taken already comfortable and tricked out mileage gobblers and increased the level of performance.
The Milwaukee-Eight engine is, quite simply, a joy to operate, delivering ample power across the bagger and touring rig offerings. The suspension contributes to a more enjoyable riding experience for both rider and passenger. Rather than an annual, iterative update to its existing line, each of the Milwaukee-Eight-equipped motorcycles we had the pleasure of riding felt like a different motorcycle with the boost in power and handling.
For this reason, the Harley-Davidson touring line wins the MO Best Touring Motorcycle of the Year. Honorable Mention: BMW K1600GT/GTL In our opinion, almost nothing matches BMW’s K1600GT/GTL when it comes to combining all the comfort and amenities we expect to find in a touring mount. It’s uber comfortable and delivers shockingly good performance. We even included the GT model in our 2014 Heavyweight Sport-Touring Shootout.
Still, as good as the Beemer is, it returned essentially unchanged for 2017 while the category winner, Harley-Davidson made some great strides forward. However, the K1600 outfitted in either GT or GTL guise is sportier than anything else in the Touring class, and consequently, still deserves praise. Every facet of the bike, from the Duolever front end and optional electrically adjustable suspension, combine to deliver an exhilarating ride at high speeds in both the straight up and down and deep lean angles.
The inline six-cylinder accelerates like nobody’s business and provides intoxicating music for gear head’s ears. This year, BMW may have been bested in the touring class, but one thing we know about the company is that it never sits still. We expect that, like it has in the past, BMW will find a way to set the touring bar higher, giving its competitors something to aim for. Motorcycle.com Best of 2017 Categories