SEAT Creating New Urban Mobility Options

SEAT, one of the largest urban mobility corporations worldwide, has announced their strengthening their commitment to eco-friendly transportation. This commitment will extend to the development of two new products, a fully electric scoot and motorcycle, which is slated for release in 2020. This announcement came after an official presentation at the Barcelona Smart City Expo World Conference.

The upcoming SEAT Motorcycle and Scooter is part of a broader strategy to ensure urban mobility can move beyond its standard concepts. Sustainable solutions are required for large metropolitans like New York, Rome, London, Paris and many others. SEAT is partnering with the Volkswagen Group’s Electronics Division to create a micro-mobility service. SEAT has already mentioned that they hope after developing the scooter and motorcycle, they can develop a concept car that’s eco-friendly and similar to the smart car. Ultimately, the goal is to lower emissions on a dramatic scale globally.

The Test City for the upcoming Scooter and Motorcycle will be Barcelona itself, which is an infamous European City and well known for having the most motorcycles per capita. It’s for this reason that SEAT is also including Silence Manufacturer into the partnership. This Barcelona-based Electric Motorcycle Maker and Volkswagen Group’s Electronic Division will work in unison with SEAT to develop new models for private customers and business fleets.

The Sharing Services

Subsequent from the upcoming electronic vehicles from SEAT, this corporation also maintains share riding services in major cities worldwide. Their statement as a company is to provide a collaborate, shared, and sustainable economy for individuals in Europe or North America. Their car-sharing services are maintained in Europe through Respire, with Segway Services in American Cities through the KickScooter App. Before making the electronic vehicle announcement, SEAT was going to develop a service similar to Uber for climate change enthusiasts. However, after projected numbers failed expectations, the project had to be abandoned, and the company reworked.

SEAT has also built a proof-of-concept car that works uniquely, with adapting capabilities for almost every environment. Its dynamic nature enables for more features and modes for driving, while the combination of car and motorcycle makes for a unique design that can assist in traversing large cities. Use Car Mode for the main streets, motorcycle mode for side roads and scooter mode for the sidewalk. SEAT’s ultimate goal is to create a vehicle with limitless options for consumers.

Motorbike Riding in Japan

Riding in a first world country certainly has its perks. Very little crime means you won’t have to keep an eye on your bike at all times and your belongings back at the hotel are relatively safe – but don’t tempt fate – keep your important stuff on you at all times. The people of Japan are welcoming, friendly and helpful, even if you don’t speak the language. The scenery in Japan is unique to Japan and awe-inspiring to the visitor. The coastline is worthy of a trip of its own, dotted with small villages and towns, each of these settlements has a history of its own from fishing to warfare. The island routes take the rider through winding passes and past mountains as high as the Alps. The roads are immaculate and well maintained.

Seasons

It is essential that you choose the time of your trip – arriving during the typhoon period will mean an extended stay in your hotel room, trying to dry out your wet kit. So, it seems that May and November would be the best times; the roads will be slick and the temperature high. Stay away from over the cold first two months of the year. If you’re willing to brave the last of winter months, March and April, the cherry trees in bloom are out of this world, but they only stay in flowers for a few weeks. The mountains are still capped with snow at this time, so stay south and visit the coastline. The northern areas are still bitterly cold and the roads, if open, will be slippery. June/July is the rainy season, and October is the typhoon period.

Travelling

If you intend staying in small hotels, these will be booked out over the holidays when Japan goes on vacation for short visits. Roads will be busy and hotels booked – so book before you depart for Japan to avoid sleeping in the open. If you are travelling outside of summer, be sure to pack rainproof clothes, including boots. Make sure your electronics are sealed and dry. If necessary, make sure your International Drivers Permit is valid.

Routes

From Tokyo, travel the Izu Peninsula to get a close up of Mt Fuji and experience the mountain passes. Plan on a daily distance of 250 to 300 km for rides on lesser-used roads. While in the area, visit Shikoku via Mie and Wakayama. Shikoku is the smallest of Japan’s larger islands. It is about 220km long and a maximum of 150km wide. This small island is home to a population of nearly 4 million people. Mie is in the Honshu area and has a population of just under 2 million. Mie has historical Shinto holy sites and also is home to the Suzuki International Racing Course.

Motorbike Speed Attempts and Records

To claim a land speed record on two wheels, it will have to be attempted twice over a fixed length of a mile or a kilometre in opposite directions on the same day. These are the requirements of AMA National Land Speed Records. The FIM Land Speed World Records requires the same as the AMA, but both attempts must be within two hours of each other. These bikes are specially designed or modified motorbikes – not production bikes.

First Attempt

The first motorcycle speed attempt was in 1903 when Glenn Curtis, using aircraft engines, attained the top speed of 103kph. In 1907 he reached 219 kph riding a tubular frame fitted with a V8 engine. The drive shaft driving the rear wheel came adrift in his second attempt and nearly ended in disaster. At this time the air-speed record by the Wright brothers was the only 61kph.

FIM’s first adjudged speed attempt was in 1920 at Daytona Beach. Riding an Indian, Gene Walker achieved 168kph. Various other efforts were made, and records were broken until 1937 when Ernst Henne on a BMW set a record of 270kph. After the Second World War, many companies entered their motorbikes, from Triumph to Harley-Davidson and in 2006 Suzuki achieved 552 kph. In 2010 Suzuki has the unbeaten record of 605kph.

Iconic Endeavours

In 1967 the quiet, unassuming, bike-loving Burt Munroe, a New Zealander, shipped his 47-year-old Indian to the States to attempt the under 1000cc land speed record. His 1920 Indian, which was hardly recognisable as one, had taken twenty years to modify to his demanding standards. Changing whatever he could to improve on, including homemade pistons, he attempted and achieved New Zealand speed records, but his aim was always Bonneville. His first trial nearly didn’t take place as he had not registered in advance. After convincing the organisers, he broke the records with an astounding speed of 296kph, won with a painful burn on his leg from the exhaust, and without a visor which had blown off! He was 67 years old!

Fifty years after Burt’s first speed attempt at Bonneville, his great-nephew, Lee Munro, modified an Indian Scout and Burt’s record was broken, but in a different category – his bike being an MPS-G and the speed achieved was 301kph. The engine was 1350cc V-Twin with a streamlined body. Corey Bertelsen, another New Zealander, (inspired, perhaps by Burt Munro) has also broken a speed record. Confirmed by FIM, he achieved 435kph on his GSXR 750.

Female Speedsters

The fastest ever female motorcyclist is Valerie Thompson. With eight land-speed records to her name, she is in the Sturgis Motorcyclist Hall of Fame, and she is a member of 7 200mph Clubs and one 300mph Club and is the only woman to compete with men for the fastest motorcycle title, and in 2018 she rode the BUB7 Streamliner to a speed of 529kph!

Indian Motorcycles

The first Indian motorcycles were produced in 1901 in Springfield in Massachusetts by Hendee Manufacturing Company. In 1923 the name was changed to Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company. The Indian motorbikes were impressive from the start, but, by taking the first three places in the 1911 Isle of Man TT, popularity soared, and Indian became the most popular motorcycle brand in the world. The most desirable models were the Scout, made from ’22 to ’53. After that, the Indian Company closed its doors and a few attempts to revive it failed until Polaris Industries took over and have successfully launched new models without compromising the iconic style everyone had come to love.

Initially, the prototypes were produced with a 1.75 bhp single-cylinder motor which proved successful, and the bikes became many sorts after. With Oscar Hedstrom in the saddle, the world speed record of 56mph was achieved and production in the first decade of the 1900s, 500 units per year, and, with the excellent reputation they had earned, the production had risen to over 32 000 per year by 1913!

In 1905 the V-twin was produced and with this motor Indian made inroads into racing, and many records were broken. In 1907, the designs made for the racer and the V-Twin were passed onto the road bikes, which also had twist-grip controls. Erwin Baker rode an Indian across America in 1914, in just over eleven and a half days. He also toured the Powerplus which hit the road in 1916. The Powerplus was side-valve twin with a 1000cc capable of nearly 100kph. Jake DeRosier won over 900 races in the USA and Great Britain.

In 1916 Indian brought out a 221cc single-cylinder, two-stroke which was called the Model K Featherweight, but this was superseded in 1917 by their Model O which was a four-stroke flat twin with a newly designed frame, and this was produced until 1919. When the US Army bought nearly all of Indian’s production, there were not enough bikes to supply the public, and many Indian supporters changed to other bikes, mainly Harley-Davidson. Due to the Indian never fully recovered its market share.

Popular Models

In early 1920 to 1949, the new Scout and the Chief became the most famous Indians. In 1930 Indian combined with DuPont Motors – car manufacturers who discontinued cars and concentrated on the bikes. These models had the iconic Indian war bonnet on the fuel tanks. Sales increased until 1940 when Indian production nearly equalled the opposition, Harley-Davidson. The Scout reached its 100th anniversary and is still a winner. The Chief, the Scouts big brother, was built until Indian closed down in 1953. It was the basis of the 340-B, a machine with a sidecar, which was designed for the army who ordered 3000 and the French Army received 5000 before being overrun by the Germans. After the Second World War, the only model being produced was the Chief. At this stage, before closing down, Indian also went into other products such as aircraft engines, bicycles and air conditioners.

Touring Canada by Bike

For those who are going to cross the border into Canada, going through customs can be easy. These days using a car licence to get through is not enough, but your passport will suffice. Be careful of what you take with you; firearms are out. You will be asked the standard questions, such as where are you going or where have you travelled. Also, no jokes about bombs or drugs. You will be arrested without hesitation. Canadians will check your criminal record; they don’t like criminals or anyone with a DUI on their careers. They can turn you back, so get matters cleared up before you leave.

Required

  • Insurance – Not all insurance is acceptable to the Canadians. Make sure your policy is acceptable or buy some that do. It may not be a problem, but then if you are involved in an accident, who knows?
  • Road Laws – Canadian towns have speed limits of 50kph (30mph), but around schools and parks, the limit drops to 30kph.

Your Trip

Plan your trip between April and October for the best riding conditions, but these months don’t guarantee dry riding. There is rain, so keep your wet weather clothes handy. There’s nothing worse than emptying your luggage onto the street in the middle of a downpour.

Roads are, in general, excellent including the bye-ways and secondary roads, but beware of road repairs. Passing an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, slow down to 60kph – it’s the law! And please don’t forget that the Canadians drive on the right side of the way, the same as the USA, but opposite to most English colony countries. Keep your eyes open for wild animals on the roadside, as they have the tendency to dash across the road in front of you and hitting something like a bison or a bear can put you in hospital and right off your bike. Don’t stop near these animals; they are quick off the mark and can take you by surprise.

Ice Field Parkway

Departing from Calgary on 1A Highway, the ride through the Rocky Mountains in Alberta is possibly one of the most scenic in the world. This 400km ride with its mountains, rivers, wildlife and glacial lakes changes with every bend in the road. Enjoy the towns like Banff and Jasper en route. This famous road has lots of traffic, so beware of rubberneckers and sightseers.

Riding Vietnam

Before setting off for Vietnam, make sure you are aware of the licence requirements and the laws of the road. For any bike over 50cc, a driver’s licence is required. Ensure your country is a party to the 1968 convention for International Drivers Licence and register your consent with them. You may get away without a valid licence but get into trouble, and you will have to face the Vietnamese courts. Also, without a permit, your travel insurance will be null and void. On a bike, you will not be able to ride the good highways, and the other roads leave a lot to be desired. As the roads are toll controlled, most drivers use the lesser ways, causing congestion and severe damage to the road surfaces.

Be Aware

The roads are filled with cars, trucks and bikes, millions of bicycles. All road users use their hooters to warn each other, especially on the twists and turns in the mountainous regions. Keep your wet weather clothing handy. Vietnam is a damp country and roads become slippery, so consider this before braving the wet roads.

If you dress like a foreigner, you will be stopped by the police. Sometimes they will issue a fine or expect a bribe, so instead stay away from them. Avoid roadside mechanics and use reputable workshops if repairs are necessary. Don’t leave your bike unlocked – it will be stolen. Don’t leave your equipment unattended – it will be impressed.

Routes to ride

The main arterial road is between Ho Chi Min and Hanoi and this road also gives access to other cities. This road will take at least a week to traverse, especially if you are sightseeing. The alternative route between Ho Chi Min and Hanoi is less travelled, and the better course for tourists to use as the scenery is fantastic and gives a better picture of Vietnam. Leaving from Ha Giang and taking the loop road to the Northern boundaries of Vietnam will showcase Vietnam beauty and nature. It is a well worth round trip, but with bad stretches of road.

Hoi Au is in central Vietnam and worth spending some time. Seek out the diverse architecture from French Colonial buildings, the Japanese bridge and Chinese influence. If you are looking for new clothes, this is the place to be. Tailors abound and can sew up items overnight. Visit My Son Ruins, passing through traditional villages on route. There are ruins to be seen – from the war destroyed Hindu shrines and monuments and the crumbling Champer temples.

Da Nang

If you are near the Dragm Bridge at 9 pm, you can witness its fiery breath. At the Son Tin Peninsula, there is a Lady Buddha which protects the bay from typhoons. From the top of the Marble Mountains, you can see Da Nang from above and explore pagodas and shrines and visit the levels of Hell Cave.

Motorbikes from Russia and Europe

The motorcycle brand most famous across the European continent is the Ural, which was made in Russia in the latter half of the 1920s. Nearly 11 million have been manufactured. The first Soviet bike to be exported to the Netherlands and the British Isles was the Planeta Sport, which has proved to be a winner. Unfortunately, the factory closed its doors in 2008. Production was taken over by the Kalashnikov concern which has released an escort motorbike which, perhaps, designed to escort presidential cavalcades. It will have a surprising top speed of 250km per hour and will reach 100km per hour in 3.5 seconds.

The Ural is one of the few motorcycles to become popular in the Western World. The actor, Brad Pitt, has helped to put this bike on the “wanted” list, by riding one himself. The Ural is a heavy bike which is more comfortable to ride with a sidecar. The next is the Triumph Bonnevilles, which hit the road in 1959, from a beginning in 1902. The Bonneville, one of Britain’s most iconic bikes, got its name from the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA.

When a Ducati won the Isle of Man F1TT in 1978 it was not a popular bike, and the company was struggling to keep afloat, and this win certainly put them back on the road to be a winner. The 851 also came to the rescue with its desmodromic valve actuation combined with its water cooling and its fuel injection system. Later the 888 put Ducati at the top of the superbikes. Doug Polen won two superbike championships in ’91 and ’92. The 888’s tubular frame made from SAE 4130 and its combination of Ohlins rear suspension and Shonx front forks gave Ducati the edge over all the other bikes.

Less Popular Brand

  • The Bantam, of which 50 000 were produced until 1951 was arguably one of the most famous European bikes ever delivered. Launched in 1948, the two-stroke was designed from the DKW 125 two-stroke (German), the blueprints of which had been acquired after the Second World War.
  • In 2011 Moto Guzzi had been in production for 90 years. The Model 850cc Le Mans, 1975, was as up to date as the Japanese bikes of the times. The Le Mans had a few problems such as a fast clutch, torque reaction, and the changing down of gears had to be timed with the engine revs, but even with these shortcomings, the bike became popular.
  • This 745cc made its debut at the 1967 Earls Court Motorcycle Show sporting an inclined parallel-twin engine. This engine, developed for the Atlas, was produced with a larger engine, which established a vibration. After the engine was mounted on rubber mountings on a redesigned frame, the problem was solved. This new frame was a winner with its improved handling.

Riding Australia

Australia is, geographically, one of the biggest countries in the world, just behind the USA and Canada, but with a tiny population of twenty-five million. Anyone wishing to ride Australia must be aware of the cast distances between towns. Closer to the coast, where most people live, the lengths are not as high. A traveller can ride for thousands of kilometres in the centre of Oz without seeing another human. In this vast land scenery varies from area to area, sometimes monotonously dull.

Victoria’s Great Ocean Road

This is probably one of the most famous roads in Australia. Bikers beware in busy times other tourists are doing their own thing, and stop at viewpoints to enjoy the scenery, and some are rubbernecking with the resultant confusion. On the road between Torquay and Allan’s Ford are the Twelve Apostles which have been named as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world – worth a stop! Other natural attractions include the famous waves at Bell’s Beach and the fishing village of Port Fairy. Charter a helicopter and see the Apostles from the air plus other magnificent scenes such as the Shipwreck Coast.

In the Great Otway National Park north of Melbourne, you will pass over and through the numerous waterfalls and gorges. Enjoy treetop walks or try the zipline, thirty meters above the forests. Stop and taste the best of Australia’s wines and platters of cheese at the many vineyards and restaurants. You will pass many vineyards, but remember you’re on two wheels. Visit Warrnambool to view Australia’s wildlife with koalas, roos and emus, and if you’re fortunate, the strange duck-billed platypus with a bush wise Aboriginal guide. When getting near to Logan’s beach, keep an eye out for the whales which come to the warm waters to give birth and also view the seals at Cape Bridgewater. At the famous beach at Queenscliff, you may be lucky enough to swim with the dolphins, so take your trunks!

When in the Melbourne make sure to stop at William Ricketts Sanctuary and wonder the forests to see his sculptures of Aboriginals hidden in the fern beds and behind the creepers and trees, mainly of children, shaped and baked in his kiln which is still there and is part of the museum. In South Australia visit Adelaide Hills, starting in the Golden Grove and ending at Tea Tree Gully, a trip of 159 Km. The road takes you along long stretches, with many exciting twists and turns past beautiful vineyards worth a stop off to enjoy the local wines.

Oxley Highway is one of Australia’s better, well-known rides and stretches for 165 km from Wauchope to Walcha is the most popular. The 300 twists and turns make for an epic ride and will probably be one of the most memorable rides you will ever experience.

The World’s Best Motorbike Riders

No. 1 Giacomo Agostini

Giacomo Agostini was born in Italy in 1942 and is one of the greatest motorcycle riders ever to hit the track. His records include eight wins at the 500cc world Championships and sixty-eight other Grand Prix races.

His first claim to fame was when he won the National Motorcycle championships in 1963 at the age of twenty-one and entered the 175cc class circuit in 1964, and 1966 moved to MV Augusta, and he was soon making waves. He won the World Championships seven times from 1966 to 1974 in the 500cc class and seven times in the 350cc class in 1966 to 1974. In 1974 Agostini joined the Yamaha Team but broke his shoulder in a crash and went on the next year won the World Championship in 1975 which was his eighth and last world title. After this is winning streak all but disappeared, and he retired in 1977.

He then entered the British Formula 1 series and came in second at Snetterton and third twice which put him at eighth, overall. In 1980 he finished fifth in the standing, but both he and the FW 06 chassis had seen their better days.

No. 2 Valentino Rossi

Valentino Rossi was born in 1979 in Italy; he is one of the top Moto GP riders. Rossi has nine Grand Prix World Championships under his belt as well as seven in the Premier Class. He is in the second position in the Best Rider Category with 112 wins. In the 500cc class, he is the best with an almighty eighty-six wins. In 2018 he needed a mere ten wins to beat Agostini. He won the 500cc World Championship in 2001 riding a Honda and went on to win in 2004 and 2005 with Yamaha. He crashed in 2006 in the final round and lost to Nicky Hayden, and in 2007 Casey Stoner beat him, without effort, on his Ducati, and he was pushed down to 3rd overall.

He then beat Stoner in 2008 and 2009 but dropped out in 2010 with a broken leg, and no wins for the year. In 2011 he joined Ducati, replacing Stoner, who beat him anyway on a Honda. He then re-joined Yamaha in 2013 and 2014 after no wins for Ducati. He then finished second overall in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but was beaten by teammate Jorge Lorenza as Rossi had incurred a penalty due to a clash with a Honda rider. Honda, with Marc Marquez, continued to dominate and Rossi lost out for the first place and only achieved a few wins and some locations. Rossi is contracted until 2020 when he will be 40 years old. Rossi is also a team owner in the junior class Sky Racing Team by VR46 which competes in Moto2 and Moto3.

Bike Rides in South Africa Part 2

Beware of dirt roads when on a motorbike. It’s almost the same as riding on ice! Be sure that your bike is suitable for riding South African gravel road conditions. If setting off from Cape Town it will be plain sailing along the tarred N2, up Sir Lowry’s Pass (enjoy the twists), and up to the Peregrine Farm Stall, and turn right onto the R43 and on towards Caledon. About halfway there, at Bot Rivier, you will leave the tar and go onto the gravel. If you are lucky, it will have been graded, and if not, you will have your teeth loosened on the grooves. Be aware of farm gates – if you encounter one, make sure you close it behind you – or have the farm animals following you with the shotgun-wielding farmer not far behind.

Join the N2 at Caledon and enjoy the tar few a few kilometres, and take the turnoff to Greyton – back to dirt riding – and then heading south enjoy the vineyards and orchards. Accommodation can be found at quaint B and B’s, so, if you’ve had enough for the day, stop and experience the friendliness and generosity of the locals (most of them speak English).

Then over the N2 again towards Napier and pass through the farms of sheep and more sheep. If you are at the correct time of the year, you will ride through fields of yellow canola fields as far as the eye can see and witness the Blue Cranes – the National Bird of South Africa – feeding on the sheep feed. Also, see many Egyptian Geese and Sacred Ibis searching for a tiny morsel. You will pass roadside farm stalls selling anything from bottled water to honey and fruit and vegetables. Take a break and cool down a while.

The R319

Cross over the R317 and onto the R319 and onwards to the east. If and when you pass petrol stations, stop and fill up if you need to – it may be a long time before you see another petrol pump. You will give just to the north of the De Hoop Nature Reserve and if you have the time. The road then follows the course of the Breede River, known for its annual canoe race from much further inland, and cross the water by hand-drawn ferry, one of the last in South Africa. If you’re lucky, you will catch a glimpse of the Breede River Zambezi (Bull) shark, the biggest ever found in the world. The Zambezi is all along the coast, but no further south than Port Elizabeth about 500 kilometres to the east, so these guys have been on their own forever.

The last leg

On then to Witsand on the W324, home to one of the biggest gatherings of whales in the world, coming to calve in the warm Indian Ocean. And on to Stillbaai, a lovely retirement and fishing village, on past Stillbaai, Gouritzmond and Pinnacle Point, the caves believed to be the first civilized settlement in the world (where your ancestors came from), and on to your destination, Mossel Bay.

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