Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kawasaki unleashes the insanity, unveils 300bhp H2R Ninja

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The new Kawasaki H2R Ninja. More powerful than a MotoGP bike. At least they're not letting you ride it on the street...

Kawasaki have been saying that the H2R will be "Built Beyond Belief," and they're damn right, the machine really is unbelievable. The official pics and specs are out now and the bike you see here - the track-use-only H2R - is powered by a supercharged 998cc inline-four that produces 300 horsepower. Yes, that's about 60bhp more than your average MotoGP bike.

"When the Ninja H2R motorcycle was conceived by Kawasaki, the driving concept behind its development was to offer the kind of acceleration most riders had never experienced. Being 'Fun to Ride' is one of Kawasaki’s guiding principles, and while there are many ways for a motorcycle to be enjoyed, strong acceleration was considered to be a major factor in delivering rider exhilaration," says a press note from Kawasaki. Yeah, well, we really don't know what they've been smoking, but the chaps at Kawasaki seem to have figured out that 300 horsepower should be just about enough for a motorcycle that accelerates really hard. Brilliant!

The Japanese company makes it clear that the H2R Ninja is a "mass production" motorcycle, but one that you can only ride on a closed course - this is not for the street. The streetbike version, the Kawasaki H2, will be unveiled at the EICMA later this year. "Fitted with slick racing tires, the H2R may not be ridden on public roads and should only be ridden by experienced riders," says the Kawasaki press release.

Monday, September 29, 2014

2015 Yamaha XJR1300 Racer unveiled

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The 2015 Yamaha XJR1300. Truly, utterly gorgeous. We love the 1970s/1980s styling and the brutish power and performance intent...

For those who love 1980s-style Japanese naked bikes with big dollops of raw performance, Yamaha have unveil the XJR1300 Racer, which has been developed in collaboration with bike builders like the Wrenchmonkees and Deus Ex Machina. With its slim(mer) fuel tank, solo seat, shorter tail section, black pipes and 1300cc air-cooled four-cylinder engine, the XJR1300 looks compact and muscular. With 98 horsepower and 108Nm of torque, the big XJR doesn't have the power-to-weight ratio of 600cc supersports machine, but in terms of sheer style, the 1300 can hang in right there with almost anything else on the street. Damn cool!

2015 Kawasaki Z1000 unveiled

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With its intoxicating intake howl and outrageous styling, the Kawasaki Z1000 is quite the entertainer. We love it!

For 2015, Kawasaki's Z1000 gets a new "Golden Blazed Green / Metallic Spark Black" paintjob, and its 1043cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 16-valve inline-four has been tweaked for even stronger low- and mid-range torque delivery, for improved acceleration. Fully adjustable 41mm big-piston fork and preload-adjustable horizontally mounted rear monoshock handle suspension duties, while twin 310mm brake discs up front, with monobloc, 4-piston radial-mount calipers take care of the braking. Plus, there's ABS here, of course, though no traction control.

The 2015-spec Kawasaki Z1000's reflector-less LED headlightuses four LEDs that enable the housing to be shaped so it contributes to the intense glare of the Z1000’s 'face.' All four of the long-life, low-energy LED bulbs (two low-beam center, two high-beam outer) illuminate when the high-beam is used, and a separate LED position lamp is located on the instrument cover.

So, how is the Z1000 to ride? Here's one riding impression of the Big Z, from someone who's quite obviously a big fan of this bike...     :-D

Rhapsody in Blue: Yard Built XJR1300

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Yes, we think this Yamaha 'Rhapsody in Blue' XJR1300 is totally cool!

Japanese custom motorcycle builder, Keinosuke 'Keino' Sasaki (of Keino Cycles) and Yamaha have collaborated to build Keino's take on the XJR1300 - the 'Rhapsody in Blue' that you see here. This motorcycle, according to Yamaha, is born from the search for inspiration for the company's future 'Sports Heritage' range of bikes.

Keino’s Rhapsody in Blue XJR1300 features a hand-crafted fuel tank that's lower and slimmer than the original, with a unique fuel cap. There's also a hand-crafted tailpiece, springer-type front suspension, custom brake mounts, a new headlight assembly and custom handlebars. The bike also gets a Brembo brake upgrade, exposed air-filters and a single seat on top of a unique rear frame and custom tail section. The rear shocks match the front springer system and the rear light is from a vintage British MG sports car! Oh, well, we quite like this Yamaha - it's damn cool, we think.

2015 Yamaha MT07 Moto Cage unveiled


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Moto Cage is the Yamaha MT 07 for those who like to pull a wheelie or do a stoppie every once in a while...

Yamaha claim that the MT 07 has gone extreme. "The Dark Side of Japan meets the acrobatic stunt world with this new variation of Yamaha’s best selling MT 07," claims a press note from the Japanese company.

So just how "extreme" can a 700cc twin get? Well, the MT 07 Moto Cage features bold new graphics (ahem..) and a range of stunt-inspired of chassis components, including frame-mounted engine guards, tubular under guard, lightweight knuckle protectors, protective stickers on the bodywork and an adjustable front light mask. There's also a new passenger seat and lightweight radiator guards finished in red.

The MT 07 Moto Cage's red front wheel / black rear wheel combo, along with the bike's matt gray base colour look cool, and an Akrapovic exhaust is optional.

To celebrate the launch of the new MT 07 Moto Cage, Polish stunt rider RafaƂ Pasierbek (aka Stunter13) has been chosen by Yamaha to be the MT’s official stunt rider. You can watch him strut his stuff on youtube.com/stunter13tv. In the meanwhile, the Moto Cage will be in Yamaha dealerships from November this year.

Friday, September 26, 2014

2015 Moto Guzzi V7 II unveiled, features ABS, traction control


If you always wanted traction control on your 50-horsepower motorcycle, Moto Guzzi have granted your wish with the V7 II!

Moto Guzzi have released the first official pics and tech specs of the new, 2015 model V7 II, which will still be available in Stone, Racer and Special versions next year. And while the styling remains largely the same, the bike has evolved – the V7 II gets a new, 6-speed gearbox with revised gear ratios, an improved clutch that is ‘softer’ and easier to use, two-channel anti-lock brakes and even MGCT, Guzzi’s own traction control system. Why anyone would want TC on a motorcycle that’s powered by a 50bhp horizontally-opposed V-twin in beyond us, but, well, anyway…

The engine on the new Moto Guzzi V7 II has been tilted 4° forward, towards the front axle, and lowered by 10mm. This, according to Guzzi, provides improved aesthetics and creates more knee room for the rider. The footpegs have also been lowered by 25mm, for a more comfortable riding position. With its 1970s-inspired colour schemes, the new V7 II will be available in European markets from November 2014.

2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally unveiled, features semi-active self-adjusting suspension


The 2015 Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally is probably the most technologically advanced dual-purpose motorcycle in the world, though we do wonder if its complex Italian V4 would be a bit too much for serious off-road use...

A few days ahead of this year’s Intermot Show in Germany, Aprilia have unveiled the 2015 Caponord 1200 Rally, which they say is “a new bike that breaks down the confines of paved roads to become even more transversal and suitable for any trip, ready for any terrain.” New bits on Aprilia’s big dual-purpose bruiser include wire-spoked wheels (with the front hoop going up in size to 19 inches), side-mounted hard panniers with aluminium covers, 24-litre fuel tank, a bigger windshield, new engine guards and supplementary LED lights.

The new Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally is as high-tech as they come, and is equipped with ride-by-wire throttle with three engine maps, traction control, cruise control and switchable ABS. There’s also semi-active ADD (Aprilia Dynamic Damping) suspension system, which should provide freedom from actually having to work on your own suspension setup.

“The exclusive ADD software uses skyhook algorithms and acceleration-driven damping strategies, which have made it possible, for the first time ever, to attain superlative levels of performance in all fork and shock absorber frequency ranges,” says a press note from Aprilia. “With previous generation electromechanically adjusted suspension systems, the rider electrically adjusted the suspension setup from a selector on the handlebar. With the Caponord 1200 Rally's ADD system, however, all the rider has to do is ride. The system measures the forces transmitted to the vehicle from irregularities in the road surface, recognises the dynamic state of the vehicle (acceleration, wide-open-throttle, braking or cruising) and adapts the suspension setup accordingly in real time to maximise comfort and maintain vehicle stability,” it adds. We’re truly and deeply impressed.

The new Aprilia Caponord 1200 Rally will be available in European markets from January 2015.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2015 Husqvarna FS450: Go forth and drift


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The Husqvarna FS450 packs only 60 horsepower, but for the expert rider, offers unmatched supermoto-style thrills. Wheelies? Two-wheel drifts? Yes!

Set up in Sweden about 110 years ago, Husqvarna have an interesting past. The company used to compete in 350cc and 500cc motorcycle grand prix racing in the 1930s, dominated motocross in the 1960s and 1970s, was bought out by Cagiva in the late-1980s, sold to BMW in 2007, and bought out by Stefan Pierer (current CEO of the Austria-based KTM Motorcycles) in 2013. Wow!

Starting in 2010-2011, Husqvarna had taken some tentative steps towards producing a few streetbikes (as opposed to their traditional off-road-oriented machines), but those streetbikes have been axed after Husky were bought out by Pierer Industrie AG. Now, the company is again focusing on off-road machines only. Except for the track-use-only FS450 supermotard. Fitted with a 450cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine that pumps out 60bhp, the FS450 doesn't seem to be that big a deal on paper. However, take into account its 110-kilo weight, light and stiff chrome-molybdenum steel tube chassis, adjustable WP forks and shock, APTC slipper clutch, and 310mm front brake disc with four-piston radial-mount caliper, and you realise that the FS is something of a razor-sharp weapon.

The Husqvarna FS450 rides on 16.5-inch (front) and 17-inch (rear) wheels, shod with Metzeler Racetec SM rubber, and the whole package is perfectly set up for supermoto-style drifting in and out of corners. Watch the video below to see the FS450 in action!

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