Monday, May 02, 2016
BMW are taking a significant step forward towards making motorcycling a bit safer by introducing their new Intelligent Emergency Call (IEC) system on BMW motorcycles. The system, which will be offered as an option on BMW motorcycles from early 2017, will get help the scene of an accident and/or other emergency scenario as quickly as possible, thereby saving lives. In a pan-European study conducted in 2011, it was concluded that vehicles equipped with emergency call systems (eCall) were able to summon help to the scene of an accident 40-50% faster than vehicles without any such system. In fact, eCall will become mandatory for all new cars sold in Europe from 2018, so there's no reason why bikes also shouldn't have a similar system.
In the case of an emergency or an accident, BMW's IEC system, which is either automatically or manually triggered, sends out the position data (coordinates of the motorcycle accident site) to a BMW Call Center, which then immediately initiates the rescue chain. The bike's current position, as well as information for determining the direction of travel are transmitted, to simplify locating the motorcyclist in hard-to-find locations.
eCall requires a connection to the mobile phone network in order to trigger the rescue chain. In BMW's IEC, the connection is established via the mobile communication unit that's permanently installed on the motorcycle. No specific mobile operator is required for the connection - all that is necessary is any one operational mobile connectivity provider, and the service will be made available in all European countries.
We can honestly say we've never seen a motorcycle as beautiful, as utterly gorgeous as this one. Just, WOW!!!
Earlier this year, in January, French motorcycle outfit Praëm had shown their first project, the Praëm SP3, which was based on the Honda RC51. While that bike was pretty cool, their second project, a customised BMW S1000RR, pretty much blows everything away - it's just fabulous! Created by brothers (and Praëm owners) Sylvain and Florent, in homage to the endurance racers of the 1980s, the Praëm S1000RR uses a stock BMW S1000RR's engine and chassis, but everything else is custom built, and looks incredible.
The Praëm S1000RR features a modified and lengthened aluminum fuel tank, carbonfibre wheels, carbon-ceramic brake discs, endurance racing-type radiator, slick tyres, Werkes titanium exhaust and revised fuel-injection mapping. With extensive use of carbonfibre and titanium, weight has been reduced by about 20 kilos and the Praëm S1000RR weighs in at just 184kg. The design aesthetic and the colours used are, by BMW's own admission, taken from the 1970s-80s.
"This new project makes me work again on a BMW and I am very proud. Once the outline of the motorcycle was defined, Florent and I were free to explore a new direction with the racing 80s, while using an ultra modern base. It is extraordinary what BMW has managed to do with a very powerful engine but perfectly tamed by electronics. We tried to keep all the technology, traction control, active suspension, Race ABS, launch control etc., while taking the S1000RR to another aesthetic universe," says Sylvain. All we can say is, Sylvain, we love your BMW very, very much!
Sunday, May 01, 2016
The FatMile is a Suzuki Bandit-based naked streetfighter that's been designed by one of the co-creators of the original, early-1980s Suzuki Katana. Sure, it has a weird name, but the FatMile looks rather cool we think
Yes, it has a weird name (FatMile? Really...?) and it's almost a year old now, but we still couldn't resist doing a post on this machine. Based on the Suzuki Bandit 1250, the FatMile has been co-designed by Hans Muth (one of the three men responsible for the legendary Katana of the early-1980s) and Daniel Händler, both based in Germany. In fact, the Suzuki FatMile was built for the Glemseck 101 festival, one of the biggest café racer gatherings in Germany. Later, it was also shown at the EICMA, Intermot and other motorcycle shows.
"We took a certain risk with this decision. When you hire an established design agency or world-famous custom builder, hardly anyone will come out with criticism. But we consciously took this different approach and chose a solution in the Japanese tradition [of pairing a more experienced person with a younger guy]. Looking at the FatMile now, I am convinced we did the right thing," says Gerald Steinmann of Suzuki Europe. "We looked at a number of options. But along with the GSX-R, the Bandit series is an iconic series for Suzuki, so this is why we chose it. In this project, Muth was an extremely good tutor for me. At the beginning of our cooperation, we shut ourselves away for three days to only talk and outline the FatMile project. That was enormously motivating and instructive for me," adds Händler.
"Händler is full of good thoughts and ideas. Sometimes I had to remind him to consider the limits of real implementation at early draft stages, but we worked in good harmony. I think that together we have created a very good machine," says Muth. While the Suzuki FatMile uses the stock Bandit's 1255cc inline-four, it gets a custom exhaust from Cobra, modified rear subframe with custom-built leather seat, Paaschburg & Wunderlich headlamp, GFK front fender and, of course, a special one-off paintjob. The brake discs and calipers, as well as the front fork, are from a GSX-R1000, and PVM wheels, Motogadget tacho, and Rizoma rearsets, handlebars and rear-view mirrors complete the package. Overall, a fantastic looking bike!
Friday, April 29, 2016
MV Agusta, Mercedes-AMG to separate, MV to scale back production, slash R&D budgets, reduce headcount
In terms of sales, MV Agusta are doing better than ever before. And yet, a severe liquidity crunch is hitting the company's operations really, really hard. The partnership with Merc-AMG seems to be over already
Despite selling close to 9,000 motorcycles in 2015 (a 30% increase over the previous year!), MV Agusta are again in big financial trouble and the Italian company's President, Giovanni Castiglioni is currently struggling to keep things going. With a current debt of approximately 40-50 million Euro, MV Agusta are in a slightly weird situation right now - business has never been better for them, and yet they do not have the cash to keep things afloat.
Back in 2014, Mercedes-AMG had acquired a 25% stake in MV Agusta, and this was then seen as a big step forward for MV, in terms of bringing financial stability and security for the small Italian company. Within a short span of two years, however, the partnership has run into rough weather and already, according to Il Giorno, MV and Mercedes-AMG are preparing to go their own separate ways. "We are negotiating a buy-back of shares," said Giovanni, speaking to Il Giorno.
Given their current lack of liquidity and mounting pressure from suppliers for repayment of outstanding amounts, MV Agusta are looking at reducing their workforce by up to 200 people, as well as scaling back production from last year's 9,000 units to just 6,000 this year. Money spent in R&D will, reportedly, be cut from 15 million Euro to 7 million, while MV's racing budgets will be slashed from 4 million Euro to just 600,000 Euro.
"Unfortunately, Mercedes-AMG has not turned out to be the strategic partner as I had thought. I am now working to bring new investors in the company. In the meantime, we are carrying out a plan that aims to generate cash and then restructure the debt," says Giovanni. He's definitely not ready to give up though. "There have been Asians and Americans, and now the Germans. But who always remains, and over the years has invested 120 million euro in MV Agusta, is the Castiglioni family. We want to go back to being the Ferrari of motorcycles," he adds.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
With minor upgrades, the 2016 KTM RC 390 is better than ever before, and is still the raciest in its segment
KTM has unveiled the 2016-spec RC 390, which has now been revised in order to meet Euro 4 emissions norms. The earlier bike's svelte exhaust system, which was neatly integrated into the fairing/bellypan, has now been replaced with a much bigger unit that incorporates a catalytic converter in the muffler. This new exhaust, which actually doesn't look bad at all, ensures that the new RC 390 spews out a significatly reduced amount of noxious gases. KTM also claim that there has been no loss in the RC 390's performance levels in the move to Euro 4.
The 2016 RC 390's 373cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected single-cylinder engine, which weighs just 36 kilos, now gets ride-by-wire throttle management and pumps out a rather useful 44bhp. The bike also gets a slipper clutch, a bigger, 320mm brake disc at the front, span-adjustable levers, bigger rear-view mirrors and more generously padded rider and passenger seats. The 390's steel-tube trellis frame and cast aluminium swingarm remain unchanged, and the bike remains the best handling sportsbike in its segment by a fair margin. For those who want to go racing, KTM have also developed a go-faster, track-ready version, the RC 390 CUP. More details of the CUP bike, here.
Prices and availability details for the 2016 KTM RC 390 will be announced soon.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Stan Evans shot these photos in the winter of 2015. The portraits were shot in studio and action on location at the LA River. All the effects are practical and the only retouching done was to blend the layout for print
Remember Stan Evans, our favourite motographer? We've featured Stan's work earlier here on Faster and Faster (see here and here), and now the man's been at it again. This time, it's about shooting in the dark and the results, as you can see in the pics above, are pretty spectacular. Here's what Stan has to say about his latest photoshoot and his thoughts on various types of motorcycles:
On his latest photoshoot
Every once in while I feel the need to try something different with motorcycle photography. To be honest, I like pushing myself even though perfectly backlit sunset shots on sweeping roads will never lose their appeal. Nighttime always intrigues me because it brings a new set of rules. With lights, gels and exposure, I can control what people see. I can throw light where I want or fade it off into the darkness. It becomes the subtle difference between capturing a moment and creating one.
The movie Aliens had a profound effect on me as a child and I found myself studying James Cameron and HR Giger works to see how it affects perceptions. I like the idea of conceptualizing, and coming from an advertising background it’s only natural to mix action and products in an effort to get people excited to ride. Motorcycle art is probably too strong of a word because I hate the notion of standing still. Motorcycles bring a sense of urgency. Straddling the thin line between life and death should make you feel the most alive!
On why he chose the Ducati Panigale for this shoot
Actually it wasn’t the bike so much as the person I chose. I’m drawn to shooting interesting characters and I actually happened across Adey Bennett one day riding the Angeles Crest. My friend actually told me that he did all these superbike videos on the net I really had no clue who he was but you don’t see many black guys over 6 feet tall on an Italian superbike. So I figured there a story there and asked him about shooting. Turns out we had some mutual friends and he was into trying something different.
Okay, so it's not very exciting to look at and the spec sheet is a bit ordinary, but the Yamaha Tracer 700 should be the ideal sports-tourer for newer, younger riders looking for an affordable machine
Yamaha have unveiled their new Tracer 700 sport-tourer that's based on the MT-07 and is a relatively simple, affordable machine which is also suitable for younger, less experienced riders. Powered by a 689cc parallel-twin that produces 75bhp and 68Nm of torque, the Tracer 700 isn't exactly an R1, but according to Yamaha, its engine's 270-degree crank delivers an uneven firing interval, which contributes towards strong acceleration and improved levels of traction.
While based on the MT-07's chassis, the Tracer 700's frame has been tweaked for sport-touring duties and has been optimised for two-up riding with luggage. The bike gets a longer swingarm, revised suspension settings (with 130mm travel front and rear) and dual 282mm front discs with 4-piston calipers for optimum braking power. ABS is standard.
The Tracer 700's 17-litre fuel tank should give it an acceptably long range (Yamaha have not quoted any fuel economy figures) though its ready-to-ride weight of 196kg seems to be a bit on the higher side. About 160-170 kilos would have made the Tracer a bit peppier. The windshield is manually adjustable and the stepped dual seat looks about right for comfortable long-distance riding. Yamaha are offering a range of useful accessories for the Tracer 700, including hard and soft luggage and a higher windscreen. Available colours include red, black and blue and the bike will be in Yamaha showrooms by July this year. For those who're new to motorcycle touring, this looks to be the ideal package...