Monday, February 08, 2016

TVS Akula 310 concept provides a glimpse of BMW's first small sportsbike for Europe

The TVS Akula 310 is BMW's first small-bore superbike for Europe and Asia. And, boy, does it look good!

Remember the BMW G310R, which was unveiled in November last year? Developed in collaboration with the India-based TVS Motor, the G310R is BMW's first small-capacity single-cylinder machine in recent times. With this, BMW aim to take on companies like KTM, Benelli, Ducati and the Japanese Big Four, all of whom are aggressively pushing into fast-evolving Asian markets with their 250-400cc sportsbikes. With its 313cc, 34bhp single-cylinder engine, steel-tube chassis and modern braking and suspension components, the BMW G310R will be sold in Europe as well as various Asian markets, and is likely to find an enthusiastic audience among new riders everywhere.

Of course, the G310R isn't where the TVS-BMW partnership stops -- the two fully intend to continue developing new motorcycles together. Last week, at the Auto Expo in Delhi, India, TVS unveiled the Akula 310 concept, which has also been designed and developed in collaboration with BMW Motorrad. This bike is likely to go on sale in India, other parts of Asia and, we're sure, Europe, by the end of this year. Europe will get the BMW-branded version, though styling, engine, chassis and other bits will remain unchanged. As you can see, the TVS Akula 310 takes various styling cues from the BMW S1000RR superbike, while the name 'Akula' is a reference to the Akula-class nuclear-powered submarines made in Russia.

TVS-BMW haven't really made any technical details available, but if you look closely, the Akula seems to have a different steel-tube trellis-type chassis (with an aluminium sub-frame at the rear), which is not the same as the one used on the G310R. The wheels, rear monoshock and the USD front fork seem to have been borrowed from the G310R, and the bodywork is quite clearly inspired by the S1000RR. The Akula 310 is just a concept for now, hence there's extensive use of carbonfibre here, which may not be the case on the actual production bike. There's also a fully digital instrument panel, on-board gyro cameras and we're sure the production-spec machine will have the latest Bosch ABS.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ducati draXter concept bike unveiled at the Motor Bike Expo in Verona
Unveiled at the EICMA last year, the standard Ducati XDiavel was already gorgeous. And now here's the super-sports version, the draXter

Ducati have unveiled an all-new concept bike at the recent Motor Bike Expo held in Verona, Italy. Based on the stunningly beautiful XDiavel, the new draXter is, according to Ducati, a "sports interpretation" of the XDiavel, with the suspension and brakes coming from the Ducati Panigale. The number 90 emblazoned on the side of the bike is in homage to Ducati's 90th anniversary, which is being celebrated this year.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 Triumph Speed Triple R, Speed Triple S now pack a 140bhp punch

2016 Triumph Speed Triple R 2016 Triumph Speed Triple R
2016 Triumph Speed Triple R 2016 Triumph Speed Triple R
With its new 140bhp inline-three, fully adjustable Ohlins suspension (R model only) and full suite of electronics, the 2016 Triumph Speed Triple is now ready to take on all streetfighters from Europe and Japan

The all-new, 2016 Triumph Speed Triple R and Speed Triple S were unveiled at EICMA, in November last year. Now, Triumph have released more details and technical specifications of both the bikes, which will hit showrooms in March this year. Prices for the new Speed Triple S will start at £10,200 while the Speed Triple R will cost £11,500. Both bikes are fitted with Triumph's new 1050cc three-cylinder engine that produces 140 horsepower at 9,500rpm, and 112Nm of torque at 7,850rpm. This new engine features a host of updates, including revised piston and crankshaft design, a new ECU, new combustion chamber and cylinder head design, revised ports for increased flow, new exhaust header design, new airbox, new fuel-injection system and more efficient radiator for improved cooling.

Other significant updates on the 2016 Speed Triple include a new slipper clutch, a lighter, more free-flowing exhaust system (the bike is now Euro IV emissions compliant, without compromising on power), and a new ride-by-wire throttle, which along with the new ECU provides improved feel and responsiveness, while also delivering better fuel economy. There's ABS, multi-stage traction control and five selectable riding modes, including rain, road, sport, track and a rider-configurable mode that allows all settings to be customised independently.

Both the new Speed Triple models, which weigh in at 192 kilos (dry weight), get Brembo M4.32 radial monobloc brakes and fully-adjustable suspension as standard, while the Speed Triple R also gets Öhlins NIX30 USD forks, Öhlins TTX36 rear monoshock, billet machined handlebar clamp and risers, and machined swingarm spindle finishers and rear wheel finisher. Styling has been given only a mild makeover and Triumph make some noises about the new Speed Triple looking more "hunkered down" and "aggressive." Hmmm... we think they could have done a bit more in the styling department - maybe this was the right time to mark a radical departure from the old Speed Triple's design. That said, the 2016-spec Speed Triple doesn't look bad at all. The R model's carbonfibre front mudguard and tank infills, bellypan, red rear subframe, red wheel pinstripes and red seat stitching also help the bike stand out a bit more. Overall, a big thumbs up...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Praëm SP3 shows what a Honda RC51 can become with a bit of French engineering

A Praëm SP3 6A Praëm SP3 9G Praëm SP3 1G Praëm SP3 2wG Praëm SP3 3wG Praëm SP3 4wG Praëm SP3 5wG Praëm SP3 6G Praëm SP3 9T Praëm SP3 3
Based on the Honda VTR1000 RC51 SP2, The Praëm SP3 is a work of art and could fetch as much as €145,000 when it goes up for auction in Paris later this year

Based in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse (about 40km from Paris), Praëm was set up in 2014 by two brothers, Sylvain, a former BMW Motorrad designer, and Florent, a prototypist and former aeronautical mechanic in the French army. With Praëm, the brothers aim to create hand-built motorcycles using chassis and engines from legendary sportsbikes of the past, but with styling updates and extensive technical and mechanical improvements. Their first project is the Praëm SP3, which is based on a Honda VTR1000 RC51 SP2, the bike with which Colin Edwards won the World Superbikes championship back in the year 2000.

'All the HRC expertise is there, but as a stock bike, the RC51 SP2 had downsides compared to the factory racebike. The brakes and suspension were not as good as the rest of the machine, and with the fuel tank covering the rear cylinder, there were overheating problems,' say Sylvain and Florent. 'The Praëm philosophy requires to not damage the original performances of the machine, therefore we kept the stock RC51's racing geometry and improved everything around it. In order to solve braking and suspension problems, the SP3 powertrain has been assembled from the best parts available on the market, like ultra-light carbon wheels, radial brakes with carbon-ceramic discs, as well as the best Öhlins suspension,' they add.

The brothers Praëm wanted to make a high-performance GT out of the RC51 and the SP3 has been designed accordingly. 'The goal is not to make a pure race bike or a confortable touring bike, but a vehicle that can live in between this two worlds. It could be an Aston Martin DB9 for example, fast and powerful, but timeless and elegant as well,' the brothers say. 'Each surface is treated depending on its type of use, and all the mechanical and structural elements are blacked out. Brushed aluminium or stainless steel define the ergonomic and aerodynamic surfaces, whereas the coloured bits are ornamental features. Unlike its RC51 SP2 ancestor, the cutout in the SP3 tank prevents the rear cylinder from overheating,' they add.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

BMW Motorrad presents helmet with head-up display, laser lights

With helmets equipped with BMW's head-up display, motorcycle riders will no longer need to look away from the road to access vehicle information and that will hopefully provide a boost to rider safety

In a step aimed at boosting rider safety, BMW are developing a head-up display for their helmets, which will be presented today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The BMW head-up display projects necessary traffic and/or vehicle information directly into the rider's field of view, allowing the rider to maintain constant observation of the traffic on the road, without needing to look away and peer at the instrument panel every once in a while. The display is fully programmable, allowing riders to choose what information is projected into their FOV. Information available includes things like tyre pressure, oil level, fuel level, travel speed, selected gear, speed limit, road sign recognition, and even warnings related to impending/potential danger.

BMW's helmets with head-up display are fitted with an integrated mini-computer and display parameters can be controlled from the left-hand handlebar, using BMW Motorrad's multicontroller. The best part is, this display technology can also be integrated into existing helmets, without affecting wearer comfort or rider safety. The technology is still in the development phase though, and is expected to be production ready within the next few years.

Friday, December 25, 2015

£150,000 Honda RC213V-S finds first customer in the UK

Manchester-based Honda dealer, John Brown buys the world's first Honda RC213V-S

Earlier this week, Honda delivered their very first MotoGP-bike-for-the-street, the £150,000 RC213V-S, to a customer in the UK. John Brown, who owns and runs a Honda dealership in Manchester, and whose motorcycle collection already includes an RC30, VTR1000 SP1 and SP2, CBR900RR Fireblade and VF1000F, is now first guy in the world to own an RC213V-S. ‘It is a truly amazing opportunity to own a piece of HRC racing history. As soon as it went on sale I registered my interest on the website, and when I received the call from Honda to say my order was accepted it was a very special day for me,’ says John. ‘I joined my family business as a 17-year old and have been a Honda dealer ever since. My dealership has been one of the top-three in the UK for many years and the bike will be great with my existing collection,’ he adds.

Honda claim that the RC213V-S is the closest a customer can come to owning and riding the RC213V MotoGP machine ridden by the likes of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. The bike is hand-built in a specialist area of Honda’s factory in Kumamoto, Japan, and those interested in buying one can register their interest on

Monday, December 07, 2015

Italia Independent teams up with Ducati for limited-edition Scrambler

If you've always wanted a Ducati Scrambler with Copper-coloured wheels and frame, Italia Independent have made your wishes come true

Italian eyewear and fashion label, Italia Independent has teamed up with Ducati and the two companies have presented their first joint creation - a limited-edition Scrambler - at the Art Basel (a contemporary art exhibition) in Miami, in the US. Only 1,077 units of this bike will be built, each unit carrying the Italia Independent logo on the fuel tank and leather seat.

Inspired by cafè racers of the 1970s, the Ducati Scrambler Italia Independent gets a black-finished engine with brushed cylinder-head fins and visible machining, black exhaust with Termignoni silencer, low handlebars with aluminium rear-view mirrors mounted on the ends and Copper-coloured chassis and wheels. The entire bike is painted matt black. And just in case you do decide to buy one, Italia Independent have also created a special pair of dark black Ducati Scrambler sunglasses, with with rubber surface treatment and mirrored copper-coloured lenses. After all, if you're riding an Italian-designed limited-edition Ducati, you've got to be wearing matching Italian sunglasses, right?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

2016 Honda CBR650F, CB650F get new colours, remain all-around competent as ever

1267492 16 YM CB650 F67496 16 YM CBR650 F
67491 16 YM CB650 F67493 16 YM CB650 F67497 16 YM CBR650 F67495 16 YM CBR650 F
Not the most exciting bikes around, but the CBR650F looks good and performance too should be just about okay

The fully-faired Honda CBR650F and its naked brother, the CB650F (notice the missing 'R' in the latter's name...) are definitely not the most exciting motorcycles on the planet, but are certainly practical and moderately good looking, with a certain amount of all-around capability that many riders love and appreciate. For 2016, Honda have given minor updates and new paintjobs to both bikes, which should be sufficient to keep Big Red's cash registers ringing.

"The CBR650F is designed to conquer corners with ease and also be great around town. It offers a sporting edge but makes no compromise to rider lifestyle, and is a real pleasure to look at. More and more of our customers, novice or veteran, are drawn to such a distinct identity and riding feel and it gives me great pleasure to welcome them to Honda’s newest CBR," says Teishiro Goto, Honda's 'Large Project Leader' for the CBR650F.

Indeed, the CBR650F's tuned-for-torque, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve, 649cc four-cylinder engine has been optimised for low- to mid-range power delivery, with crisp, clean acceleration at low to medium speeds, while the bike's twin-spar chassis, which is made of steel, and aluminium swingarm, ensure near sportsbike-spec handling in the twisties. The CBR650F's 41mm telescopic fork, rear monoshock, newly designed six-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels (wearing 120/70 and 180/55 radial tyres), twin 320mm brake discs at front and dual-channel ABS as standard mean that all the right bits are present and accounted for. There's definitely no cutting-edge stuff here, but with 86bhp and 63Nm from that 4-pot engine, a good rider should still be able to have some fun on the CBR650F, which has a kerb weight of 211 kilos. With 21kpl in terms of fuel efficiency and a 350km range on one full tank of fuel, the practical bits are also taken care of.