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Archive for January, 2008

January 31, 2008

Forget about the XV 650, girls… the XV1900 rocks!

What a glorious beast is the new XV 1900

By Maggie Hole, Yamaha Motor Canada

As an employee at Yamaha Motor Canada, I must admit I get a lot of great perks, like the opportunity to borrow Yamaha products.

The best ride-like-a-pro-ladies-night-019.jpgjob perk so far, though, has been the recent ‘Yamaha Ladies Night‘, where I got to try out some bikes that aren’t on our employee rental program.

I must say, it was a great thrill to try out the all new 2008 XV1900 (what a beast of a bike!) The power is amazing, yet I felt very confident and comfortable after the first couple of shifts. I loved every minute of it!

You should read what went into the making of the XV1900 from my colleague at Yamaha, John Bayliss – it’s quite a story!

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January 29, 2008

Good times at the Yamaha Fukuroi Test Track

Riding the same course the Yamaha MotoGP team rode the day before!

By Dave Shepherd, motorsports technical specialist, Yamaha Motor Canada

I was lucky enough to find myself recently at the Yamaha Fukuroi road track test course to test some new motorcycles.

race-team.jpg

The town of Fukuroi is one train stop down the line from Iwata, Japan, home of Yamaha Motor Company. Nestled in the hillside of Fukuroi sits this famous Yamaha test track.

Built in 1969, the Yamaha Fukuroi track (known as “FookU” to us inside the company) follows some of the older designs for its 5.8 km layout. Yamaha Fukuroi is shaped in a figure-8, similar to Suzuka Circuit (the centre of Japanese motorsports and that country’s first full-fledged racing course when it opened in 1962).

The Yamaha Fukuori test track has many trees and rails in close proximity, and not much run-off room (sand traps were unheard of in those days).

The day started out with heavy rain, and I worried that the test session might be cancelled. (Apparently, being located among the hills causes problems such as rivers forming and running over the track surface.) But by lunchtime, the sun was fierce and steam was rising from the black surface.

Engaging racetrack functions… all systems go!

The first few laps on the drying tarmac were slow. That gave me an opportunity to switch on those circuits in my brain that let my body perform racetrack functions. Those include:

  • bending in a full armour racesuit
  • getting the mind up to speed to handle the blitz of bike control information
  • learning the curves and ripples of the track at the same time

In a couple of slower turns, the exit line was seriously marked with a wide stripe of rubber. Not my doing, that’s for sure!

There is something special about riding high-performance motorcycles on the track. Without the distraction of normal road traffic or the constant vigil for our police friends, it is much easier to concentrate on the task of improving one’s riding skill set. (In my case, I need all the improvement I can get!)

It’s a great moment when you suddenly slip into the “zone” and the rest of the world is a million miles away.

Inside my Suomy helmet, I hear myself think, “that’s right, I’m being paid to be here and wring out this bike.” A bug-eating grin spreads across my face, and even the fact that I just missed my brake marker doesn’t really matter. I know that some much better riders than me have been on this very same track, and may even have missed a marker or two themselves!

I finally return to the hot pit where a large Japanese contingent is waiting patiently. (see the photo here). I ask about those wide stripes of heavy wrist action; they tell me that the Yamaha MotoGP team were here the day before, testing some new engines and control systems. With the rubber laid that wide, there had to be some very sideways riding; I’m awestruck by the talent of those unknown pilots!

We spend a very full day riding seven new models, gaining an understanding of the reasons for changes and sampling new technologies in the pipeline.

I realize just how lucky I am to experience these things – it’s almost as great as watching delight on the faces of bike enthusiasts at shows back home when they first see these models for themselves.

What bikes did I ride in Japan? That’s a blog post for another day…!

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Posted @ 8:45 am in Industry Insights,Maintenance,Racing,Special Events,Sport,Yamaha Insights   
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January 24, 2008

Birth of the XV 1900 Custom “Raider” – Part 2

From early ‘protos’ to clay models to road tests in America

By John Bayliss

This is the continuing story of “How the XV 1900 was born.”

XV1900 Custom BikeBehind the scenes, extensive costing and engineering studies for the newly developed XV1900 custom bike are completed. If all goes well the project will get the green light and a development code will be issued. In the case of the new XV1900 the code was “06S” and during any and all discussions, the code name will be used until the model is released to the public.

While final detail work is under way, the engineering group will cobble together a running prototype. I used the word “cobbled” because some of the early “protos” look pretty rough. (You need to remember, the protos are for testing purposes… not styling.)

Testers from both Yamaha Japan and Yamaha USA will ride the prototype and provide feedback; everything from functionality to sound to ride comfort will be assessed.

clay1.jpgfianl-clay.jpgMeanwhile, back in Japan, clay models are painstaking carved and sanded in a special studio right at the factory. (See examples of clay models here, left and right.) The clay model will be the final styling phase before measurements are taken for moulds and dies, etc.

I have been present when some minor changes are requested and believe it or not, the “artists” can manipulate the clay model right before your eyes!

After the initial stages of testing are completed, another testing “prototype” will be produced, although in a farproto2.jpg more finished state. (See right, and below.) The test unit will be shipped to the US and tested on American roads. (Yep, right out in the public view! But from my own experience most passerbys never seem to notice.)

Every aspect of the test machine is evaluated, including suspension settings geared toward North American roads. Any issues or concerns will be reported back to Yamaha Motor Canada for improvement. Testing takes proto-final.jpg place right up until the first pre-production machines start to roll off the line.

So, if you think that Star cruisers are conceived, designed and built in Japan, think again!

Our friends south of the border can and should take most of the credit for the new XV1900 Custom (“aka) “Raider”.

Let me know if you like hearing the ‘behind the scenes’ development stuff. If you do, I’ll try to dig up some stories of previous models as well as the new ones. JB

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January 22, 2008

How the XV 1900 was born

Made in Japan? Not so fast…!

By John Bayliss

On Sept. 10, Yamaha introduced a number of exciting new models for 2008. I would like to take you behind the scenes and provide some insights into how our latest Star cruiser, the XV1900 Custom bike evolved; you might be surprised…

Made in Japan right? Not so fast! Made in Japan yes, but conceived and designed in the USA. Here is how the process works.2008 XV1900 Custom C bike from Yamaha

Yamaha Motor USA (YMUS) has a full staff of product planners who attend key motorcycle events across the country. They talk one-on-one with as many customers as possible.

As they begin to develop a feel and direction for a new model, they contact Yamaha USA’s design company in Southern California, near where YMUS is based.

The design company takes the research info and produces a number of basic sketches of the new idea. The sketches are shown both internally at YMUS and to selected customers. A “whittling down” process will reduce the number of sketches from 15 or so down to the top 3 or 4.

Depending on the model, the planners will then host a focus group study for even more feedback. At this stage YMUS maysketch2.jpg stick to the final design ideas or continue to make changes based on feedback.

sketch-1.jpgAfter much internal discussion, a final sketch direction is chosen. (See left and right here for sample bike sketches.)

The sketch is taken from paper and is duplicated in real life – yes, sir, a full-size prototype model with all the bells and whistles is produced. For the record, these models do not run but can be touched and sat on (very carefully please!) … they are real motorcycles for all intents and purposes – except for the riding part.cad1.jpg

As the old saying goes; “a picture (or in this case a 3D model, see left) is worth a thousand words!”

Once the model is finished (which happens surprisingly quickly), the model is crated and shipped off to Yamaha Japan (YMC).model2.jpg

The YMUS product planners, including their in-house Japanese assistant, travel to YMC for the big presentation. Engineers, upper management and sales staff are all present at this meeting. Can you say “pressure”? Believe me, this is a stressful time for all involved!

During the meeting, the planners review their customer research, current trends in the biz, and describe their ‘target audience’. The bottom line is they make their best pitch for this new idea. Once they have everybody truly excited about the project, they unveil the 3D model. If all goes well, the engineers jump up and start checking out the model in detail!

model1.jpgAfter a period of time, the engineers will begin to assess what they can, and cannot, do. Some of the features of the 3D model may not be possible to duplicate due to mass production restrictions. It is not uncommon for other players/countries to join these presentations, too. Yamaha Europe,Yamaha Australia, and Yamaha Canada are often present, with the hope that we’ll buy into the project.

Stay tuned for part 2 to come in the next few days!

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Posted @ 8:45 am in Cruisers,Custom,Industry Insights,Technology,Yamaha Insights   
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January 17, 2008

Welcome from Tim Chelli

Hi my name is Tim Chelli; I’m the Compliance and Product Liability National Manager at Yamaha Motor Canada. I ensure that all Yamaha products comply with the necessary regulations. I also liaise with our lawyers, and handle intellectual property issues.Tim Chelli

But I’m not a lawyer; I’m a mechanic by trade. I started with Yamaha Motor Canada 20 years ago in the service division.

Prior to that, I worked at a large Yamaha dealer, Royal City Cycle, in Guelph, Ontario for more than six years.

My fondness for motorcycles started as a kid when I owned a mini bike. (My older brother had a real motorcycle). I read as much as I could about motorcycles, magazine after magazine.

I am primarily a sport bike rider. Here’s a list some of the Yamaha’s I’ve had over the years:

  • 1972 Yamaha DT2 (my first street legal motorcycle)
  • 1976 XS750D
  • 1977 XS7502D
  • 1980 XS850G
  • 1981 RD350H
  • 1982 XJ650LJ (Turbo)
  • 1985 RZ500RN
  • 1985 FZ750N
  • 1985 RZ350
  • 1988 FZR400
  • 1989 TDR250
  • 1995 VMax
  • 1997 Royal Star
  • 2003 FZ1
  • 2004 XV17PCP
  • 2005 FJR13
  • 2006 XV1900

My favourite bike is the 1993 GTS 1000. I drove one once on an expressway in Japan – now that was an experience I’ll never forget!

I also like sports cars (I’ve owned lots of those, too), mountain biking, and cottage life.

I’m blogging here in the hopes of helping someone rekindle the passion they once had for motorcycling, by sharing the insights I’ve gained in my 28 years in the bike industry. (And if can make someone chuckle, I’ll feel like I contributed, too!)

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January 10, 2008

Welcome from Bryan Hudgin

Bryan Hudgin

Hi, and welcome to the Bike Blog! My name is Bryan Hudgin (“Huggy” to folks at work). I’m a marketing rep at Yamaha Motor Canada, where I’ve worked since November 2003.

What do I ride? Everything, and nothing! Meaning, I don’t have my own bike right now – but I probably rode more than two dozen Yamaha models this past year.

All the loaner bikes I ride are good at what they do, but my roots are with motocross. I like to razz the sport bike guys around the office, saying ‘everyone knows that real athletes race motocross, the rest of you putt around on pavement!” 😉

Bikes I have owned include a series of unfortunate purchases I don’t particularly like to recall. There was red, then yellow, then red, then yellow. What can I say, I was young and naive! Then the first love of my life (or maybe second?) was a 1997 Yamaha YZ 125.

My favourite bike model of all time is the 2001 YZ 250F. My friend owned one in 2002; I hadn’t been on a bike in a couple years, and I was back from university for the weekend. I jumped on my pal’s YZ 250F, and just loved how fat the power was! (I’d never ridden a 4-stroke specifically built for motocross before.)

My favourite trip ever on a bike was probably riding my Mom’s Virago 750 the day after I turned 16. The beauty of the M1 license in Ontario at the time meant that I didn’t need a chaperon to drive with. So I was off to the job site at my summer job (where I was officially a blue-collar redneck).

My hobbies used to be working out, riding, partying…you know, typical early-20s stuff. I’m at that stage now, though, where home renovations, weddings, and paying bills seem to be taking an inordinate amount of my time (and money).

I am choosing to blog on this new Yamaha Bike Blog to… increase my typing words per minute? No, wait … I want to communicate to our customers stuff they might find interesting, or want to get involved with. Hope you enjoy!

-Huggy

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January 8, 2008

How ‘regular’ Canadians use their Yamahas

Two thumbs up (or down) on our newest TV ad .. you decide!

By Bryan Hudgin, marketing representative, Yamaha Motor Canada

I come to you today with a request… I want you to be a video critic!Most of the time, we get amazing footage of professionals riding some of the gnarliest tracks around, we splice it together, and voila – there’s our Yamaha ad for next year.This process works great for those customers with a “performance” mind set. But a lot of the time, that’s just not how regular Canadians use their Yamahas! So, when we developed our latest TV ad creative, we wanted to show off the variety of products that we sell, and the range of their real-world applications.

We’re hoping that you can identify with the “ordinary” Canadians in this ad – young or old, across all types of recreational activity.We came up with the title ‘This is My Yamaha. What Kind of Yamaha Are You?‘ concept. We didn’t use professional actors, just fellow employees, friends and family. (And we put it on youtube of course.) Part of being in marketing is that our work is constantly on display – whether it’s a print, TV or radio ad, the latest brochure, what you read on a website, or saw at an event. Thousands of people decide if we succeeded at our jobs in marketing! So we want to know ahead of time! Did we hit the nail on the head? Be honest, please! If we didn’t nail it with “This is My Yamaha. What Kind of Yamaha Are You? , at least we’ll know for next time…

…And here’s another for you sport bike fanatics. YMCA didn’t produce this one, but it gives you goosebumps when you watch it. Kudos to Yamaha Australia for a dandy video clip.

Thanks! -Huggie

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January 3, 2008

Commuter stress, scooter style

Don’t give your fellow “scoommuters” a bad name!

By Aaron Dowden, Marketing, Yamaha Motor Canada

Living 17 km from my workplace – Yamaha Motor Canada in the northeast end of Toronto – definitely has its advantages, primarily that I’m able to ride my BW scooter to and from work every day. (They don’t call me BeeWeeMan for nothing!)

Not only does it save me money, scootering is also way more fun than my car to take to work. And with the increasing gas prices of late, I’ve noticed a steady increase of fellow scooter commuters (aka “scoommuters”) on the roads.

For those of you out there who are terrified of car and truck motorists (aka “cage drivers”) – don’t be. I have yet to have any serious problems with cars… Mind you, I play by the rules.

Every once and while I’ll see a fellow scooter rider weaving in and out of traffic, driving in the bicycle lanes, or cutting around cars at stop lights. Please don’t do this!! Not only are you putting yourself at risk, but you’re giving your fellow scoommuters a bad name!

Really, scooter commuters are environmentally-friendly, fun-loving, sensible folk on the whole. Automotive drivers tend to get very irritated when scooters don’t play by the rules… and for good reason.

It’s important to remember that scooters only have two wheels with a little bit of metal to hold them together. Most cars wouldn’t think twice about pulling in front of a scooter to prevent it from driving around them.

I don’t know about you, but I like having the use of all of my limbs!

I’d like to hear any experiences, or tips, that other scoommuters might have to help stay safe the cage-drivers world.

– Aaron

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Posted @ 8:45 am in Commuting,Scooters,Travel Stories,Yamaha Insights   
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