Archive for the ‘Motorcycle News’ Category

A History Of Motorcycle Seats, Part 1: The 1920 Levis

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Here at AIRHAWK, we’re crazy about great rides and saving asses. We decided it would be interesting to go back in time, to see what our forebears rode on, and how motorcycles and their seats have evolved over time. We popped into the Moto Museum in St. Louis, which houses a fabulous collection of cycles from the past, and thought it would be fun to chronicle our experience in an occasional look back. First up: the 1920 Levis.

1920 Levis full view

Between 1911 and its demise in 1940, Levis built many two- and four-stroke roadsters from its facility in Birmingham, England.  The 1920 Levis Popular 211cc, later abbreviated as the “Levis Pop”, featured a leather belt chain, bicycle-type rear brake and no transmission. (Photo and subject matter courtesy of the Moto Museum, St. Louis, Mo.)

As with all bikes of this period, there was no suspension for the rear frame of the bike, so the seat design was instrumental in contributing to a smooth ride.  This was done by incorporating springs and pivots into the seats subassembly.  This is basically a bicycle seat with a fairly dramatic curve to the rear of the seat, which forces the rider’s weight to the rear of the seat.  The two springs and pivoting mechanism activate only the rear portion of the seat – the front portion of the seat is fixed to the seatpost that is inserted into the seat tube.  When the bike hit a bump in the road, the force travelled up the seat tube and then to the front portion of the seat, which was stationary. The rear of the seat countered the upward force by going down and somewhat equalizing the force.

1920 Levis seat 2

This design was much better than only having a fixed seat mounted onto the frame, but it did cause some stability issues.  With the rider’s center of mass situated well behind the seat tube, there was a lot of bouncing up and down every time the bike hit a bump.  This problem is addressed in the next bike that we’ll feature here. Stay tuned and see how this problem was resolved.

Still Putting in “Work” on the new BMW R1200 GS

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

In order to maintain my title as “Ass Pad Tycoon,” I stay extremely busy travelling all over this great country of ours, spreading the word and saving asses.  That part of my job makes it difficult to do something else I love – writing about motorcycles, and the motorcycle industry.  So without further ado, I present the second portion of the evaluation of my new BMW R1200 GSW.

There have been countless reviews and press releases written by media professionals about the R1200 GSW, so I won’t bore you with the finite technical points. Just one man’s well-travelled experience!

We’ll start with the good: more power. It’s not just that this bike has more power than its predecessor. It’s the way that it’s spread out across the power band.  It starts low and pulls very hard throughout the RPM range up to around 9,000 RPM. It feels as if the torque delivery comes on a little later in the range than the old Boxer, and it is a little freer revving as well.  It does this without getting too far away from the feel that we’ve come to expect from the classic Boxer engine (BTW, this is my 4th Boxer powered bike), it just improves the throttle response and adds more horsepower.  My only real complaint about previous Boxer motors was that the power delivery was quite deceptive. Often times you wouldn’t really feel the power as much as you’d like.  When riding with others, you would know that it’s a very quick motor that works very well in the tight stuff, but it just never really felt fast.  This new Boxer changes that – it sounds and feels much faster.

Another big improvement is the suspension.  The electronically adjustable suspension delivers as promised (and promoted).  It’s far and away the best OE suspension that I have ever experienced.  Wouldn’t it be great if all of our riding was on tight and twisty canyon/mountain roads that were as smooth as silk?  Keep dreaming.  Unfortunately, in order to reach these roads, some of us have to travel long distances on less than desirable roads that can be described with almost any adjective other than “silky.”  Travelling these roads with your suspension set tight for the twisties will have you begging for the ride to be over before you ever get to the good stuff.  Not a problem with the GS.

Just hit the handlebar mounted control button until you see the “Road” selection, then select the “soft” choice for long periods of interstate with those harsh expansion joints at the bridges and you don’t even notice them anymore.  Seriously, this thing is a dream when you’re forced to mix it up on the long stretches of interstate with the big semi rigs.  I’m talking about the road surfaces that have been ravaged by countless thousands of semis with little or no repair work.  This bike just soaks it all up without any complaints at all.  When you exit the interstate, hit the button to put it in the “Normal” mode and it firms up a bit – good for all around riding conditions.  When you finally reach the sweet twisties; hit the button again into the “Hard” mode and you’re ready flog.  It’s that simple, and it really does work.

Since this is a Dual Sport bike, there are suspension modes for the dirt as well.  But there’s more – there are also electronic controls for throttle response and traction control!  When you select “Enduro” mode it tones down the throttle response and engages more traction control – but you really don’t notice it until you need it.  When in “Enduro Pro” the action is a bit more lively – more rooster tailability, brakes less linked, better throttle response.  It works!

Now on to the handling part.  My previous Boxers were the R1100 RT, R1100 S, and the R1200 R.  I’ll be honest, this thing really felt weird to me at first; too tall, bars too wide, tires not right, seating position too upright, etc..  After about 30 miles of riding it around town, it all began to feel perfect!  Some of the reviews that I have read complain about the steering being too light; I disagree.  It is a lot lighter feeling around town and at lower speeds (which is good), but when you start ripping through the curves it seems to tighten up without being too firm.  Pick your line and hit it hard, this GS will stay right on track until you decide to change it.  Inline adjustments don’t make the bike unsettled at all.

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I haven’t had the pleasure of taking this bike out for a spirited ride with my buddies in the twisties, but I can absolutely assure you that they will be shocked at how fast this thing is.  Brakes, suspension, steering, ergos…. It’s all good.

My job as a travelling Ass Pad Tycoon requires many long days in the saddle, and the APT needs as much comfort as he can get.  I’m not getting any younger, so every little improvement helps!  Number one on long distance comfort improvement is the electronic cruise control!!!!!  Those purists who scoff at the notion of cruise control on a GS probably haven’t ridden an 800 plus mile day with this great feature.  Not only is it great for the wrist, but for the head as well.  Let me explain.  A guy like me has a propensity to always be going well over the posted speed (seriously, I can’t help it, it’s just what feels natural to me).  Because of this, I’m constantly uptight about getting tickets (probably because I DO get them).  So I love taking breaks by locking the cruise in a few MPH above the posted speed and just totally chill for periods – at the end of the day you arrive at your destination just a bit more relaxed.

As a maker of comfort seating products, I’m sad to say that BMW has really done their homework on the seat for the new GS.  My problem with most of the BMW seats has been with the forward tilt that they exhibit.  I am constantly pushing myself back to give the “boys” some breathing room if you know what I mean.  The new seat allows you to adjust the nose and the rear of the seat independent of each other.  I have the front on the high setting, and the rear on low, and it’s about perfect.  The foam density is still a bit softer than I prefer, but it’s no longer the torture rack that it used to be.  The pillion is also adjustable for and aft; so I have it all the way back to give me more room up front.

Wind protection is also greatly improved on the new GS.  And the best part is that you can adjust the height of the windscreen with your left hand while going down the road – it’s hard to dial in the proper height without the wind, right?  In general, the ergos are perfect for most riding scenarios – lots of leg room, slight forward tilt without too much pressure on the wrists, yet still comfortable while riding on the dirt in the standing position.

Now for the minor negatives.  My main complaint is with the 6th gear. When I’m going 75 MPH, it runs at about 4,500 RPM.  It would be nice if it was kept under four grand. This would make those really long days on the interstate a bit more pleasant.

Another issue is with the blinkers.  I guess that I was one of the few who actually liked the quirky BMW way of blinking; but my problem is not with BMW going to the left side only control – it’s that they forgot to make them self cancelling.  It will occasionally cancel itself, but I still can’t figure out what makes them cancel when they do – usually they just continue to blink as I’m motoring down the road.

These are minor issues that I will get used to and I’ll forget that they were ever issues.  The people at BMW have just ensured that they will remain the kings of the heavy weight dual sport segment for many years to come.  This will be my go to bike for all occasions for many years to come, as it really does everything quite well.  If you haven’t ridden one yet, go do it now. Just make sure that you bring your checkbook because you’re going to want to ride this baby home.

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Putting the “Works” into the new BMW R1200 GS

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

As many of you know, BMW has finally shipped the much anticipated 2013 R1200 GS Liquid Cooled (some use an “LC” designator, and some “W”). I was fortunate to be one of the first in this country to get my grubby little hands on one, but I decided to wait awhile before giving my impressions of this great bike. You can’t really understand a machine like this until you’ve had an opportunity to put a lot of miles on it in varying conditions.

My lust for the GS started many many years ago, but it was never anything more than a fantasy –  a dream that someday I would load her up and set out for untold adventures in foreign lands. Last March, I rented one and took it on a three-day binge up the Pacific Coast Highway, then over to Lake Tahoe and Reno, before descending Sierra’s backside to Las Vegas and an I-15 finale through the Ivanpah Valley to Los Angeles.  The hook had been firmly set!

Fast forward to the Intermot show in Cologne, Germany where BMW formally launched the LC Boxer.  After handling this sweetheart of a ride for the week, I made the call to my guy Honz at Gateway BMW in St. Louis and asked him if he had a list going — he said he does now.

I now have 500 miles on my new rig – between my travel and dismal weather, it’s taken longer than I’d imagined to log this many miles.  I’ve ridden in rain, snow, wind, and finally a nice day yesterday; so now it’s safe to say that I’ve covered all the bases for a proper ride evaluation.

I will have plenty more to say about the GS, but for now, I will just say this — the GS flat out rocks!  More power, higher revving, more torque, better comfort, suspension and handling.  I guess I could just stop here, because each of these superlatives need their own explanation, but I won’t. Like all bikes, there are a couple of things about this rig that could use some improvement… but I’ll leave that for my next post.

From the road,


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It’s The Time of the Season…

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

If the final ride on your bike last season ended with you hopping off and throwing a tarp over the bike (if even), here’s a checklist for making sure the reconnection with your bike this spring isn’t a case of poking the sleeping bear.

Check your owner’s manual:
If you don’t have one, find one online.  Beyond the legalese, it thoroughly explains how the bike works and how to keep it running well.  Read it.

Check your oil:
Did you change the oil shortly before storing it away for the winter?  If so, you’re probably okay.  If you didn’t, maybe a change is in order.  Same goes for the oil filter.

Check your fuel:
Did you put your bike away with a full tank?  Likely not.  If you didn’t, drain the tank.  It’s possible that condensation has formed in the tank, especially if your area had those odd 60 or 70 degree days between freezing temps during November to February. Draining all the remaining fuel and replacing it with fresh gas is the prudent move.

Check your battery:
If there’s no or low juice in your battery, try a trickle charger. Check the fluid levels and give it a slow charge. If you aren’t getting any juice, it’s probably time for a new battery.

Check your tires:
If your winter has had extreme temperature swings, the pressure in your tires has likely responded accordingly.  If you don’t have a pump in your garage, please drive carefully on your trip to the nearest compressed air source. Also check tread depth and sidewalls for dry rot.

Check your brakes:
Check the brake fluid levels, but also think about the last time you changed the fluid. If it’s been a couple years, it’s probably time for a change.  It’s also a good time to check the brake pads.

Check your shine:
If your bike’s been sitting all winter uncovered – or in some case, even if it’s covered – chances are it’s collected some dust.  Give the mirrors, gauges, leather and painted surfaces the once over with a chamois or microfiber cloth.  Better yet, pull out the hose or take it to the local car wash for a full bath. Soak dried-on bug splatter with a hot wet towel to loosen prior to washing.  It will ease the elbow grease required for a thorough cleaning.

If you haven’t already, maybe this is the season you treat yourself (and your buns) to an AIRHAWK.  You can learn how to make this year’s rides a lot more comfortable:  If you already own an AIRHAWK, make sure the pressure is adjusted for best fit and comfort.  See the video story in this e-newsletter for more information.

Here’s hoping for an early spring in your area.  Happy and safe riding.

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AIRHAWK names Scott Parman as Consultant of International Development, Motorcycle Division

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Belleville, IL (PRWEB) September 21, 2012 Scott Parman

AIRHAWK®, manufacturer of support surface products for consumer applications, names Scott Parman as the Consultant of International Development, assuming leadership of all European AIRHAWK sales.

Parman brings 25 years of international marketing, sales and distributor management experience across a wide range of industries throughout Asia, The Middle East and Europe.

Based in Italy, Parman will be charged with overseeing all EU sales for the AIRHAWK and Danny Gray brands via an aggressive distributor acquisition and sales support program slated to begin at the INTERMOT 2012 Motorcycle Show in Cologne Germany from Oct. 2-7 followed shortly after by the EICMA Motorcycle show in Milan Italy from Nov. 13-18.

Steve Peyton, Director of AIRHAWK Sales commented, “The addition of Scott is an exciting opportunity for us. Scott is an incredibly talented businessman with the ability to deeply understand the international market, distribution channels and the implementation sales and marketing solutions. Scott’s extensive experience compliments our distinctive approach to implementing international expansion strategies.” Peyton added, “We are delighted to welcome this talented new member to our team.”

To see AIRHAWK’s upcoming events visit To view images from the rallies and more news visit or

AIRHAWK is a brand of The ROHO Group that specializes in shape-fitting technology, manufacturing cushion and support surface products for medical applications as well as for recreational and commercial vehicle use. For more information, visit The ROHO Group’s website at or contact Customer Care at (800) 851-3449.

For more information, contact:
Rebecca Waller
eMarketing & Consumer Segment Manager
The ROHO Group, Inc.
1-800-851-3449, ext. 2436
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