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Friday
May112012

A Triumph of Aerospace Engineering

By Christopher A. Sawyer

The folks at XCOR Aerospace were looking for an inexpensive way to test the critical bearing components of its Lynx suborbital rocket’s propellant piston pump. Parts that are exposed to significant wear and tear. Static testing can only go so far, and dynamic testing (short of going into space) doesn’t put the same stresses on the assembly that actual use does. Plus, mimicking those forces under laboratory conditions on a test stand can get very expensive very fast. So the engineers at XCOR looked around for a a vehicle that had the same horsepower and cylinder arrangement, but didn’t cost a king’s ransom.

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Friday
Apr132012

2012 Harley Davidson Switchback: The Practical Harley?

By Scott Bowles

Photography: Jolene Kay

The look

If Harley Davidson isn't careful, the manufacturer is going to get a reputation for being practical. Well, maybe not practical. Harley still makes motorcycles.

But in its Switchback, Harley has created a pseudo-convertible motorcycle, one that switches deftly from a respectable cruiser to a lightweight tourer. And while both looks suit the Switchback, the bike looks and feels best fully laden. Sporting a removable windscreen and hard saddlebags, the $16,000 Switchback hopes to lure fans of the Hog feel, if not the $30,000 price tag for full-bagged tourers.

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Thursday
Sep292011

2012 Harley SuperLow: Best Sportster Yet?

By Scott Bowles/Special to The Virtual Driver

You'd be hard-pressed to find a vehicle line with as many makeovers as Harley Davidson’s Sportster. Next year alone, Harley will be selling a half-dozen versions, including the Iron, Nightster and Forty-Eight. Imagine a Civic with that many iterations. It would be chaos! And while Sporties can look like wildly different beasts, they share universal traits behind the bars: they're bare boned, old-school butt-rattlers that are tremendous city brawlers but punishing touring bikes.

So don't be surprised if the 2012 SuperLow doesn't make much of an initial impression. Sure, its dual-tone paint job — particularly "birch white" and "sunburst red" — gives the SuperLow a hip retro profile. Beyond that, though, casual observers might be unable to distinguish this bike from any of Harley's previous 883s.

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Friday
Jul222011

BRP Can-Am Spyder RT-S Still Turns Heads

Riding the Can-Am Spyder RT-S as your everyday bike is a little like riding a recreational vehicle as your everyday car: It's going to have everything you could possibly need on the road, but you're going to have some explaining to do.

By Scott Bowles/Drive On/USA Today

And you'll get all kinds of queries on the RT-S, a three-wheeler that aims to be the ultimate long-distance tourer.

There's no mistaking this bike for anything else on the road, and you'll need to add about 10 minutes to any trip just to answer questions (including from passing drivers on L.A. freeways, who are not shy about pulling up, rolling down the window and asking how much you paid).

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Friday
Jul152011

Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight: One Hot Little Number

Since it joined the Harley-Davidson family in 1957, the Sportster has suffered something of a multiple personality disorder.

Is it a woman's bike? A cycle for beginners? Does it deserve an acknowledgment from Harley's big boys when they pass on the highway? That there are a half-dozen Sportster styles -- whose differences can be minuscule -- doesn't help matters.But the manufacturer's newest sporty, the Forty-Eight, may help with the identity crisis. Featuring elements that are all Harley -- the throaty growl, the low-slung seat, the occasionally punishing ride -- the Forty-Eight marks the most striking design in years for the Sportster stable.

 

By Luz Elena Avitia/Drive On/USA Today

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