Saturday, August 26, 2006

Segway i2, Segway x2: Personal transportation II


The Segway i2 (left) and the Segway x2 (right)

The second generation Segway Personal Transporter (PT) has been unveiled. It’s always been weird and wonderful, and now, it has two new technologies which add to the fun. These are LeanSteer, and a wireless InfoKey controller. With LeanSteer, all aspects of the Segway PT’s movement are now controlled by the direction in which the rider moves his body. Lean right to go right, lean left to go left, lean forward to speed up and lean back to slow down. And the wireless InfoKey controller is your command centre – it’s the cruise-control, speedometer, odometer, and trip computer all rolled into one nifty little device.

The new PT lineup includes i2 and x2 models. The former is for ‘normal’ riding, while the latter can be taken off road and ridden over rough terrain. A Segway PUV (Personal Utility Vehicle) anyone? The i2 can do speeds of up to 20km/h, travel 40km on a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries, and costs US$4,995. The x2 can also hit 20km/h, but will only do 20km on a single charge, and costs about US$5,500.

Also read about the one-wheeled wonder transporter, the Bombardier Embrio


And here's the very funky Segway commercial


Patrik Furstenhoff: The Ghost who wheelies!

Patrik Furstenhoff, star of the famous (notorious?) Ghost Rider videos, now holds the wheelie world record. During a recent event in the UK, he rode his turbocharged Hayabusa at 344km/h, on the rear wheel. The Ghost has now announced that he’s retiring from motorcycle stunting. Yeah, right. He’ll now probably take up gardening or something... :-D

Right-click and download a preview video of the Ghost Rider 2 DVD here


Here's a video of the Ghost Rider in action on his Turbo 'Busa!

Also see:
All-new 2007 Yamaha R1
Supercars vs Superbikes!
Kawasaki ZZR1400 vs Suzuki Hayabusa drag race
What YOUR bike says about you!
2007 Ducati Hypermotard


Sachs is no more


The simple, yet functional Sachs 650 Roadster

Sachs, the world’s oldest motorcycle manufacturers (the German company was founded in 1886), have shut shop. Sachs had been facing serious financial problems for quite some time, and a recent cash injection from a Chinese company was also not enough to bail them out of trouble. Sach’s factory site at Nuremberg, in Germany, was once home to legendary names like Hercules, DKW and Fichel.

In recent times, Sachs had been reduced to making small, cheap, Chinese-sourced scooters, which weren’t doing well. The unique, distinctive MadAss was the last ‘real’ Sachs-engineered motorcycle made. Can/will the name be revived? Probably not.


This Sachs MadAss was the last 'real' Sachs-engineered motorcycle made


Friday, August 25, 2006

Wakan: 1640cc of French eccentricity


That's the strange new Wakan 1640. Yeah, whatever

There’s a new motorcycle manufacturer on the block now – from France. The new company, Wakan, are slated to launch a stylish (eccentric? weird?) cruiser that’s powered by a 1640cc, 115-horsepower V-twin engine, which is manufactured by American company S&S. Top speed for this 177-kilo machine is supposed to be in the region of 240km/h. Not that you’d want to that kind of speeds on a naked bike, but still.

The Wakan 1640 is said to have been ‘inspired’ by the Shelby AC Cobra, though I must admit I don’t understand how and in what ways. Anyway, the bike will supposedly be available by October this year, so if you like the bike, now is the time to put down that deposit.

Before Wakan came along, France had just two motorcycle manufacturers – Voxan and Scorpa – though I don’t really know how many bikes they make/sell in a year. Don’t think it’d be a very high number. Bottomline is, I don’t get French motorcycles. If I wanted weird, I’d take a Suzuki Choi Nori over the Wakan 1640.


MV Agusta F4 1000 Senna: God’s own motorcycle


An advertisement for the MV Agusta F4 1000 Senna

Came across this advert (above) for the MV Agusta F4 1000 Senna, one of the most beautiful, most desirable bikes ever built anywhere in the world. I don’t care for Formula 1 at all, but Ayrton Senna was special. This man, who won the F1 crown in 1988, 1990, and 1991, may have passed away in a tragic accident but his memories will always remain.

MV Agusta owner, Claudio Castiglioni says, “Ayrton was a star in a league of his own. When we met, we didn’t just talk about engines, although Ayrton was very attracted by two-wheel vehicles.” And indeed, the F4 1000 Senna is fitting tribute to the man. The 1000cc, 174 horsepower engine gets the very latest Weber Marelli 5SM fuel injection system, Brembo four-caliper radial brakes, Marchesini alloys, adjustable footrests and a carbonfibre rear mudguard. Also, 50mm Marzocchi USD forks get the titanium nitride treatment up front, there’s a high-spec Sachs racing shock absorber at the back, and the fairing is lighter, more aerodynamic and gets a distinctive Senna logo. The bike revs to 13000rpm, and top speed is 300km/h. Ooohhh..!!

Update (26.09.2006): MV Agusta are now looking at building an all-new replacement for the F4. The new bike will probably be powered by an 11-1200cc inline-four and could be in showrooms by mid-2008. Styling will, of course, be handled by Massimo Tamburini himself.

Also see: Limited edition MV Agusta F4 100 CC - the most expensive MV ever!


MV Agusta F4 1000 Senna. We're speechless


Piaggio MP3: Three wheels, better than two?


Yeah, the Piaggio MP3 looks weird...

The Piaggio MP3 is a scooter with, er, two front wheels. Why? Because the company, which made the first Vespa scooter back in 1946, now claims that the three-wheeled MP3 ‘provides safety, road grip and stability levels that no two-wheeler can match.’ Oh, well.

The rear end is more or less conventional, but at the front, the MP3 has two independent, tilting wheels. The vehicle can, apparently, be cornered pretty hard – even on slippery road surfaces – without either end slipping or sliding off. Piaggio say the MP3 is almost uncrashable, by which I presume they mean it’s safer than conventional two-wheelers. Front end road holding, because of the two wheels up front, is said to be exceptionally good, and the three-wheel disc brakes are also supposed to be very powerful.

When it’s time to park the MP3, its electro-hydraulic suspension locking system means you don’t need to put it on a stand. You can also ‘lock’ the tilting mechanism while coming to a halt (at a traffic signal for example) and you can come to a complete stop without needing to put your feet down to support the vehicle.

Available with two engine options – 125cc and 250cc – and pegged at around US$6,500 this quirky little runaround should definitely be an interesting ride.

Update (24 Nov. 2006): Piaggio are now offering a new version of the MP3 - the MP3 400 i.e. With a single-cylinder, 4-valve, 400cc engine that makes 34 horsepower and 37Nm of torque, top speed for the MP3 400 i.e. is 147km/h.

Other interesting runabouts:
Volkswagen GX3
A home-brewed 800cc trike
Segway i2 and x2transporters
Bombardier Embrio
Campagna T-Rex
The Quadzilla!
Gilera Fuoco 500 three-wheeled scooter


Piaggio claim the MP3 is safer and more stable than any two-wheeler
A video of the MP3 in action!

Helmet Hullabaloo: Snell vs ECE 22-05


If you're riding a 320km/h ZZR1400, make sure you get a Snell-certified helmet!

European helmet crash protection standards (ECE 22-05), which came into force from the year 2000, have come in for some serious flak. It is being said that ‘Due to the way the standard is written, it is easy for manufacturers to build helmets to pass the test by applying additional strength in the specific test areas, rather than building a totally safe helmet.’

Apparently, these claims are backed up by some of the leading helmet manufacturers, who’ve admitted that it is easier to pass the European test rather than the American ‘Snell’ test, which has much higher safety standards! And proof of that is in the fact that most MotoGP and WSB riders only wear helmets that have passed the Snell test, while their cheaper replicas are often sold with an ECE 22-05 marking!

What about India? Forget Snell and ECE 22-06. What we have here is ISI mark, issued by the bureau of Indian standards. I suppose their safety standards would be antiquated, but still, wearing an ISI mark helmet should still be better than going without one. Not convinced? Read an earlier post on rider safety here

Snell or ECE? :-)

Go-faster tips from Kevin Schwantz


1993 500cc motorcycle grand prix racing world champ, Kevin Schwantz probably knows a bit about riding motorcycles fast...

The Motorcyclist magazine website has a nice post on on what they teach at the Kevin Schwantz riding school. Read it here. Sure, it's not a substitute for actually going there and riding with Kevin, but if you can't afford the real thing, I guess this is next best.

I'm a big, big fan of Kevin Schwantz. Had interviewed him earlier this year. You can read that interview here


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Norton goes bust. Again.


These are computer-rendered images of the Norton Commando 961 SS, which was never built after all...

Norton Motorcycles, the US-based company that had bought the famous old British name and which had been developing a new Commando – the 961 SS – have gone bust. The man behind Norton Motorcycles, Kenny Dreer wanted to develop a new 961cc parallel twin engine and produce an all-new Norton Commando bike in volumes. He’d managed to raise several million dollars in funding for this venture, and reportedly, even attracted several hundred customers who were willing to pay a deposit for one of his bikes – slated to cost in the region of US$20,000! The new 961 SS Commando was being touted by the company as “a new beginning for Norton Motorcycles. Designed and built from the ground up, this bike continues the Norton legacy of defined style and performance.” Pity it never happened.

Personally, I’m a big fan of the original 1970s Norton Commando, which I think just looks divine. It’s sad that there won’t be another after all. But then, with a name as magical as Norton, you never know. I hope some vastly rich and knowledgeable motorcycle enthusiast comes along, buys the rights to the name and gets Norton back on track!

See some quaint, charming old Norton advertisements here and definitely do go here to see why British bikes are not the only British things going bust. Ha!


Velocity: The MotoGP movie


Kenny Roberts will now be a movie star!

Can’t get enough of MotoGP? Wait for Velocity, a full-blown Hollywood movie on the sport. ‘King’ Kenny Roberts will star in this movie, which will be premiered at next year’s Cannes film festival. Director Jeff Jensen (who’s earlier directed another bike racing movie that came out in 2002 – High Speed – which was about the World Superbikes scene…) says he wants to really blur the lines between fiction and reality.

Velocity is going to be a high budget flick, backed by Dorna, so in addition to real action footage shot during real MotoGP events this year, expect high-grade special effects and excellent camerawork. The storyline will have something to do with a rookie American racer who gets involved with the Russian oil mafia… er… but as long as it has fast bikes, realistic racing action and a few hot chicks, I suppose it should be all right!


KTM 950 Super Enduro R: Off the beaten track


The KTM 950 Super Enduro R should be hard enough for most

You’ve seen the KTM 950 Supermoto. Now here’s the hard-as-nails off-road version, the KTM 950 Super Enduro R. KTM say it’s ‘the ideal bike for those who want to tackle absolutely everything. During chassis tests it dismisses the roughest abuse.’ And why not – the bike’s high-grade WP suspension components have been optimised for hard-core competition use. Planning on tackling the Paris-Dakar next year? The Super Enduro R is your bike.

The 185-kilo bike is powered by a 942cc, liquid-cooled V-twin, which makes 98 horsepower. The chassis is tubular chrome-molybedinum space frame, brakes are from Brembo, and WP suspension, front and rear, is hugely adjustable. The Super Enduro R was launched at one of the world’s toughest off-road events – the Erzberg Rodeo, in Austria – and it won the twins class. Looks like the BMW HP2 has some worthy competition from KTM after all!

Also read: The world's fastest KTM!


This video shows what the KTM Super Enduro is capable of!

New BMW F800GS announced


The 2008 BMW F800GS!

Pics: Motoblog (updated on Nov. 3, 2007)

BMW have confirmed the development of their new 800 series of motorcycles – the off-road/dual-purpose F800GS, and the F800R, which will be in the Honda VFR sport-touring niche.

The F800GS should be the ideal bike for those who love the R1200GS’ off-road style and capability, but who’re intimidated by the 1200’s sheer heft and bulk. The 800 will also pack more power than the existing F650 (which will continue to remain in the BMW range), so it should certainly be able to carve a nice niche for itself...


This is the engine that'll be fitted to the F800GS and other forthcoming BMW bikes. The chick is only there to... umm... er, make the pic more interesting!

A new naked 800 is being developed, which will be on the lines of the aggressive, sporty K1200R. And finally, there will also be a new F450GS, which will be in the mould of the BMW HP2 – lightweight, powerful and totally focused on off-road applications. BMW definitely seem to be going all-out towards developing newer, sportier, more aggressive bikes. Nice!

Also see:
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto
2007 BMW G650 XMoto, XChallenge, and XCountry
All-new superbike from BMW in 2007
2007 BMW K1200R Sport
Schnitzer BMWs

Kawasaki Z1000: 2007 edition announced


Last year's Z1000 looked better...

Kawasaki have unveiled the 2007-edition Z1000, which will feature new bodywork, a new exhaust system, a new and more powerful engine (based on the ZX-10R’s motor), and an upgraded chassis.

The engine has been ‘retuned’ for more low-end power, the front brake calipers and radial mounted and brake rotors are the currently fashionable wavy type. The redesigned chassis is aluminium monocoque and the new dual-pipe, quad-outlet exhaust is just plain… huge! Of course, a nice, loud, free-flow Yoshimura should cure that, but overall, I must say I prefer last year’s Z1000


Love it or hate it, you can't ignore this one!

Also see:
The 2007
Kawasaki 1400GTR
The mighty
Kawasaki ZZR1100
Kawasaki ZZR1400 vs Suzuki Hayabusa!
The
Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

ZZR1400 vs Hayabusa drag race video


Okay, here go again - the Kawasaki ZZR1400 vs the Suzuki Hayabusa, in a drag race. Guess who wins? ;-)

Also see:
Pics and specs: 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZZR1400
The mighty Kawasaki ZZR1100 and Suzuki GSX-R1100
The 2008 Kawasaki 1400 GTR super-tourer
The turbocharged
Kawasaki GPZ750
Tiff Needell (Fifth Gear) tests
the Kawasaki ZZR1200-powered T-Rex trike!


Kawasaki ZZR1400: The fires of hell burn within... :-D

The ramblings of Fred Gassit


You want Gassit? You got it!

So who’s Fred Gassit then? Well, he rides bikes. And he’s the most likeable bloke among all moto-cartoons in the world! His exploits have been printed in Australian Motorcycle News, and the British magazine Superbike, and they are just so, so cool! I’ve been reading Gassit for many years now, and the dude has always made me smile. He is da maan! You can have a look at many of his cartoon strips here

Jialing JH600: Chinese bikes cometh...


The Jialing JH600. Looks like a BMW F650 from 15 years ago... :-))

So the Chinese have beaten Indian bike manufacturers when it comes to making ‘big’ bikes. While Indian manufacturer Bajaj is yet to launch their fuel-injected 220cc Pulsar DTS-Fi, a Chinese manufacturer, Jialing, has already announced the JH600, a single-cylinder, fuel-injected, 40-horsepower bike that comes with a two-year warranty. And get this – the bike doesn’t come from Jialing’s tie-up with Honda – the Chinese company has developed this new machine on its own, with Austrian company AVL having helped out with the engine. The JH600 costs about US$3,500 which is quite cheap for a 600cc machine.

There seems to be no looking back for Chinese motorcycle manufacturers. One of Jialing’s competitors, Zongshen, actually bought Benelli last year and they hope to compete in MotoGP in 2008!! China is the world’s biggest market for (mostly small capacity) motorcycles – the Chinese buy more than 16 million bikes per year – about twice the number of bikes sold in India per year. And since Chinese bike manufacturers are very aggressive with pricing, it has become difficult for Japanese bike manufacturers to do business in China. Sure, Japanese bikes are on a much higher level in terms of quality, but Chinese manufacturers are trying to close the gap.


Okay, so the JH600 is probably crap to ride, but what about Chinese bikes in ten years from now...?

Update (01.03.2007): China is now adopting Euro III emissions regulations and analysts are predicting that China will soon be producing over 40% of the world's motorcycles! The state-owned China South Motorcycle Company, which produces the Jialing brand of bikes amongst others, is now officially the world's biggest motorcycle company.

KTM LC4 690 officially launched


The 2007 KTM LC4 690 Supermoto: Very cool!

KTM have officially launched their new LC4 690 engine – the largest single-cylinder engine the Austrian company has ever made. The fuel-injected 690 single (actually only 654cc) makes about 65 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed gearbox. This engine is expected to be used in multiple bikes, including supermoto and off-road rally rep machines. The KTM 690 SuperMoto is expected to be launched at the INTERMOT in Germany, in October this year. However, what I’d really like to see from KTM is a 690-powered supersport machine – something on the lines of the Triumph 675. Now that should really be something…!

Update - also see:
2007 KTM 690SM Supermoto unveiled
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto: BMW ups the ante again!
2007 BMW G650: Xmoto, XChallenge, and XCountry


Who says bikes with single-cylinder engines are no fun to ride?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Loris Capirossi: Winning for 16 years!


Loris Capirossi has never won a MotoGP world championship, but he's still one of best, most charismatic riders ever!

With his second MotoGP victory of the 2006 season at Brno yesterday, Loris Capirossi has made a bit of history - he now has the longest winning career in GP history, which spans more than 16 years! Loris won his first 125cc GP at Donington Park in August 1990. I remember reading somewhere that Kenny Roberts (500cc World Champ in 1978, 79 and 80) had once said 'no matter how early you start [referring to motorcycle racing], you've got ten years in this sport.' Well, Capirossi seems to have proved his wrong, eh? :-)

Loris Capirossi, former 125 and 250 world champ, is widely respected for his all-out, never-give-up riding style. He is a spectacular rider on the track, and yet he is also a 'nice guy' off the track - one of the most likeable and affable riders on the current MotoGP circuit. Capirossi began his World Championship career in 1990, winning the 125 title at his very first attempt, when he was just 17 years old! This was with Marlboro Team Pileri Honda. He retained his 125 crown in 1991, and then moved to 250s, winning the 250 championship in 1998.

He's been in 500s/MotoGP since the year 2000, and there seems to be no slowing down for him anytime in the near future. In 2007, he'll be back on the new 800cc Ducati GP7, and he'll continue to show young upstarts like Pedrosa and Stoner that he still has a thing or two to teach them...


Loris Capirossi, in action on his Ducati...

MV Agusta Brutale 910R Italia


Stop drooling. This one's for Italian football players only

The President of MV Agusta Motor S.p.A., Claudio Castiglioni is giving the Italian football team and their coach, an MV Agusta Brutale 910R Italia each. This special edition Brutale features a colour scheme based on the Italian flag and the team jerseys. The light blue bodywork and gold graphics look totally gorgeous. Want one? Well, 100 units of the Italia will be made, so place your order now...


Yeah, it looks terrific and goes like hell. And if you're really rich, you can buy one too


Kawasaki Versys: Born to be mild...


Kawasaki Versys: Kawasaki says it's "Built to attack the roads you ride, from city streets to mountain passes and everything between." Ahem.

Just read about the Kawasaki Versys yesterday (admit I'm late...) and though I am a big fan of Kawasaki motorcycles, I must say I'm not too impressed with this bike. It's powered by a 650cc parallel-twin that makes 71 horsepower, so performance can only be mild at best. And though it might possibly be comfortable for longer rides, the styling doesn't do much for me. The swingarm looks nice and chunky, there're petal disc brakes and the stubby exhaust system is funky, but overall, the bike is devoid of any character whatsoever. Could be a good learner bike though...


Here's what Kawasaki say about the Versys: "The spirit of street surfing – that's the fluid spirit and response of the Kawasaki Versys..." Er, yeah, right. I'll take a ZZR1400 please


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