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Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed

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Audi Error #1

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Re your Audi A3 FSI article Audi A3 FSI Ambition Test... "One of the biggest claimed advantages of FSI is reduced fuel economy."

Sweet! Less fuel economy! :)

Charles Blaine

Audi Error #2

In article Audi A3 FSI Ambition Test, you have ''one of the biggest claimed advantages (of FSI) is reduced fuel economy.” I think the word you’re looking for is ''increased'' - not ''reduced''.

Trinidad and Tobago

Audi Error #3

I noticed a little error in the breakout box of your A3 FSI road test Audi A3 FSI Ambition Test... "One of the biggest claimed advantages of FSI is reduced fuel economy."

Reduced fuel economy?

Andrew Lamb

You guessed it – that was meant to be “reduced fuel consumption”. Article now fixed.

Inspection Warranties Answer

In response to Andrew Vandreike's comments on service inspection warranties...

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A few years ago I was in the process of buying a used Suzuki Sierra. It had a bigger carb, Unifilter and large mag wheels. In due course I had the vehicle inspected by a reputable company.

The report I received from this company was not worth the paper it was printed on. Apparently the vehicle I was about to purchase was in excellent mechanical condition and did not require any work.

After owning the vehicle for three months I started to notice the Unifilter was extremely oily. I didn't think too much of it. One day while out driving on some sand dunes the car locked in neutral. I had the vehicle towed back to the road and went to work on it (can't remember what I did to get it fixed). On the way home, the gearstick literally came off in my hand.

I had the car towed to my local mechanic who gave it a good going over. He found that there was bugger-all compression in all cylinders, there was oil coming out the PCV valve, the gearbox was stuffed and there was no centre in the front differential.

Naturally, I got in touch with the company that did the inspection and they offered no explanation as the how this all slipped through. They offered no help and no warranty. I was basically left with a repair bill larger than the cost of the vehicle after only owning it for three months.

Several cars later I hesitantly arranged another inspection on yet another vehicle. Same story, vehicle is in excellent shape. At the same time I asked if they could tell me the vehicles history as I knew it had been insured with them from new.

A while later I fitted some mag wheels and took it to have it lowered. When the vehicle was lowered the tyres rubbed on one side at the rear. The suspension people looked more closely and found that the Panhard rod had been either replaced or repaired. The car was bent like a banana and crab-walked down the road with its bum hanging out to one side.

I and my family have never relied on the company in question for an inspection since. We always take our prospective new vehicles to a trusted mechanic.

So in response to Andrew Vandreike's question... no, the inspections do not come with a warranty.

Brent Muldoon

Re Slow Bikes #1

Regarding 'your bikes are slow in corners' argument Driving Emotion...

Firstly, I would like to say that I am a bike rider all the time. When I originally signed up to AutoSpeed I was a car fanatic, but I have since been converted.

I'm sure that you would have been driving near 'cruiser' style motorbikes - these are the bikes which have a long rake. These bikes are okay in a straight line, but terrible in corners due to their low, long stance. If you ride a cruiser it is very easy to make the foot-pegs touch the ground. Nowadays, a small cruiser is anything UNDER 1300cc. Large ones go up to 2.4 litres (New Triumph Rocket)... I really think you have to be able to distinguish types of bikes to have a valid argument.

For corner speed, I ride a sh*$&y D-P (half road bike, half dirt bike) and can almost always double the advised sign limit (depending on road conditions). A great road you may be familiar with is the Oxley Hwy, from Walca to Warchope (Northern NSW, near Port Macquarie.). Through there are some awesome 35 km/h (advised) speed corners that I can happily travel at 70 through. If on a better bike I'm sure 90 wouldn't be a problem.

Also, I’d like to add that almost all bike riders don't ride anywhere near 10-tenths on the street. Most have had an accident or two and know how much damage is done, even on a stationary drop or low-speed accident. I suggest becoming more informed on the subject - hey, maybe even get your bike licence.

Rob Gordon

Re Slow Bikes #2

Re: Why are Motorbikes Slow Around Corners?

Being a fan of both (two and four-wheeled performance vehicles) I agree that, theoretically, bikes have lower levels of grip - especially on winding mountain roads where the surface is not smooth. Also, the fact that the rider makes a significant portion of the total weight means suspension adjustments are often not sorted properly - manufacturers compromise the settings to cater for a wide range of rider weights. That's one of the reasons why some bikes move a lot in the middle of the corners.

In my opinion, the combination of a well-sorted bike and a highly competent rider would be hard to beat in the twisties. Bikes should also be able to brake deeper into corners due to their lighter weight.

Aside from sports bikes, the ones that REALLY need to be watched for are - dirt bikes and big trail bikes, especially the BMW R1150 GS. I hear you say "what - a Beemer??" I have ridden this particular Beemer and it rocks! Decent suspension, but rather soft (which suits the twisties - especially bumpy ones), ample power (not too much) and the ability to trail brake into corners better than many sportsbikes. Most, if not all, sportsbikes will blow the Beemer into the weeds in straight line speed, but when the corners arrive, guess who's grinning ear to ear...

Burstono Lunardi

Re Slow Bikes #3

Re Driving Emotion. Why are motorbikes so slow around corners?

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I ride and drive cars bikes quickly. I will point out some reasons why a rider would be slower than a driver through a corner - lack of ability, safety (self preservation), no downforce, a very small surface contact area and the instability of the bike (it would rather fall over than stay on its tyres).

The reason a rider would be slower than a driver is mainly safety/self preservation reasons. If there is ANY dirt/gravel, oil, moss, mud, water, leaves, potholes, bumps or oncoming traffic crossing the white line whilst banked over inside that corner, then chances are you’ll slide out and fall off a cliff into a tree/gutter or under a truck. You relying on only a very small contact area with the road with little to no chance to recover a slide and stay upright.

A rider will always come off second best in a crash compared to a driver every time. The rider expects death or to become a vegetable, loses limbs, etc.

In my car, however I feel confident that when I slide inside a corner I have a very good chance and length of time to recover/correct sliding. If I hit a tree or another vehicle the only place I will be hurt is in the hip pocket.

Also, when riding, it is not all about going fast. You enjoy the feeling of swinging from side to side being fully in tune with yourself, the machine and your surroundings. In the car you are sitting in your own little bubble/world.


Re Slow Bikes #4

Why are motorbikes so slow around corners?

As the owner of both performance bikes and cars I can offer two main reasons.

Tyre contact patch is probably the greatest factor in my opinion. Levels of grip are greatly different for bikes and cars. This difference is magnified on real roads there may be gravel or water on corners. Generally there will be greater road feedback to the rider than to the driver of a performance vehicle. So the rider is possibly riding to conditions and those in a car are just more confident.

Ability aside, rider/driver confidence on real road conditions is another reason. We usually ride comfortably through 35 – 45 km/h advisory speed corners at 90 - 120 km/h (if we know them). You’ll appreciate that hitting a branch across a corner at 90 km/h whilst driving would not nearly be as “interesting” as doing the same at maximum lean on a bike. Road rash hurts and I don’t have crumple zones!

I have driven my modified Skyline GTR along for some rides and have been more than able to keep up with the bikes. It is just a question of fun. Maybe a run up the Oxley Highwaysome time?

No one likes a fast lane hog. Next time maybe try flashing your lights or something. Drawing closer usually just makes us ride slower! We tend to take “drawing closer” very personally.


Re Slow Bikes #5

Cars v Bikes around corners. HHMMM... it is an interesting can of worms you have opened.

I ride bikes and drive cars – but I drive cars much more frequently. I have had a few bikes like a Postie, 250 trail bike and 150 2 stroke street bike. I have also ridden a R6, Ducatti 749 and the like. Cars, I have owned include a Lancer GSR 2.0 (great car), Commodore ‘ecothirst’ and Subaru WRX. In regard to cornering on bikes, because the front has only one wheel and the back has only one wheel, if either are upset by a bump or hole you are basically gone.

With a car, if one wheel hits a bump you have one other at that end to make up for it.

Also, a lot of the sports bikes available these days are set up to excel for a racetrack and consequently are not as good on a country road. They are your Nissan 350Z of motor bikes. I find the trail bike to be not too much slower in corners then a much 'sportier' bike. Something like a WRX on a country road compared with a STi.

If you want HIGH speed cornering on a bike you have to commit to a corner from start to finish. While that is possible on a racetrack where it is smooth, you can see the end of the corner and there are no rabbits on the road you cannot practically do it on the road. I live in the city of Sydney and do prefer cars as a mode of transport but in the city where few corners carry speed; bikes from point to point are undoubtedly fast. Especially when they do 100 in first gear...

PS Great magazine.

PPS. We all know the STi is more difficult to own than a WRX because of theft, price, suspension stiffness and not a lot low down. Bikes are the same. A Yamaha R6 or a Yamaha FZ6 - theft, price and suspension stiffness but driven properly in everyday conditions there is not a lot in it. Besides price.

Mark Leigh

Re Slow Bikes #6

To answer your question Driving Emotion the answer is all about grip.

On those roads you described (tight, twisty, bumpy) the light bike is going to be pushed offline, as you saw, and doesn't have enough rubber on the road to stop and turn as fast as the much heavier (but with about 8x the rubber on the road) car. Even with you behind the wheel. :-)

I'm sure you could find a fast enough bike and rider combo and a slow enough car and driver combo but most times a semi-useful rider (I think rider skill make more of a difference than driver skill) on a decent bike will be out cornered but a car. This is the mark I leave behind from my '02 ZX6R. Considerably smaller than a car would leave, eh? Same deal in the corners.

Sorry if this sounds rushed, but it is. I need to be at work in about 30 mins!


Re Slow Bikes #7

About the "bikes being slow around corners" query... (Be prepared!)

Two contact patches are far les stable than four. Running a bike close to the limits can have *really* exciting results if there is a patch of oil, sand/gravel,or even just a small pothole or leftover piece of cardboard in the corner at maximum lean. None of these are of much (any?) concern to a car with four sticky tyres.

The results of pushing too hard with a car might be a touch of slide or even a bit of drift.  The skills to drift a bike are beyond most street riders, and even a slight experience with sliding the back end can produce sweats, adrenaline and other symptoms of "pucker factor".

I agree, having been on some roads where bikes passed me on the straights and then slowed *waayyy* down in the sweepers, where I would have preferred to be continuing at nearly the same pace, that it is annoying, and an indication of bad judgement on the riders part (they were also wearing t-shirts!). But all in all, I would rather slow down a bit than encounter a bike and rider spread across the road in front of me or catapulting over the guard rail as I watch.

Okay, I have added my piece. There are some US car magazine articles on a similar topic (R&T or Car and Driver?) if you are after additional viewpoints.

Boris Kort-Packard

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