Saturday, September 23, 2006

2007 Suzuki B-King: Production confirmed for Europe!

The 2007 Suzuki B-King packs a 200bhp, 1350cc inline-four!

In addition to the 2007 GSX-R1000, Suzuki also unveiled their 2007 B-King at the Paris Motor Show. The bike packs an all-new 1350cc inline-four, which is likely to make more than 200 horsepower, stock! This will make the B-King one of the fastest, most powerful naked bikes anywhere in the world, when it goes into production towards the end of 2007.

Suzuki have also updated their Bandit lineup for 2007 – styling has been revised and chassis and suspension have been reworked. The Bandit 1200 gets a capacity increase – it’s now the Bandit 1250 – and there’s also a smaller Bandit, the 650. Both naked and faired models will be available.

2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7 shown at the Paris Motor Show

The 2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K7

Suzuki have revealed the 2007 GSX-R1000 at the Paris Motor Show in France. There’s a new dual-can exhaust system (necessitated due to new, more strict emissions norms) in place, probably because of which the bike has gained about seven kilos of weight.

The 1000cc inline-four engine’s bore and stroke remain the same – 73.4mm x 59mm, though Suzuki are claiming a significant increase in power over the 2006 model. Suzuki claim that aerodynamics have been improved, the chassis has been updated, and the big news on the 2007 GSX-R1000 is what’s being called traction control. This is a system where three different engine mapping configurations are available, and the rider can choose between these via a switch mounted on the handlebar. These settings are ‘standard,’ ‘sport,’ and ‘wet’ and will probably determine how aggressively the power is delivered to the rear wheel. In tricky conditions, the system could soften the power delivery, thereby reducing the chances of excessive wheelspin etc.

Other changes for 2007 include a new more compact 'Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve' fuel injection system, a new (larger) radiator for a ten percent increase in cooling capacity, and a new engine management system with massive computing power - up to four times the capacity of the previous models. There's also a new self-adjusting hydraulic clutch system, a revised chassis for better mass and a new, more rigid aluminum alloy swingarm. Suspension is more adjustable than ever before and a new electronically controlled steering damper has been fitted.

With the 2007 Yamaha R1, Honda CBR1000RR and Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R also having been shown, it should be one hell of a battle all over again...

Go here to download hi-res Suzuki GSX-R1000 wallpaper!

Also see:

Evolution: Twenty years of the Suzuki GSX-R!

Watch a Fifth Gear video of the Suzuki GSX-R1000 vs a Westfield XTR4

The mighty Suzuki GSX-R1100 of the 1980s/1990s

The late, great, Suzuki Katana

Friday, September 22, 2006

Stephanie McLean: “Barry Sheene was a cheeky little sod!”

Barry Sheene - The really wild one!

Barry Sheene was, without question, one of the greatest, most talented, and toughest motorcycle racers of all time. Born in the UK in 1950, Sheene succumbed to cancer in March 2003.

Starting with Bultaco and after racing in the 125s for a few years (he won the British 125cc GP championship in 1970, riding for Suzuki), Sheene went racing on the 500s in 1974. In 1976, with five race wins, he won the 500cc world championship with Suzuki. He again won the 500cc championship in 1977, with six race wins in the season.

Sheene left the works Suzuki team after the 1979 season, and joined a privateer Yamaha team. Sheene’s career was blighted with serious crashes and injuries – at one stage, he had metal plates in both knees, 28 screws in his legs and a bolt in his left wrist. Barry Sheene retired from racing in 1984, and moved from England to Australia shortly after that. His biography – A Will to Win – was written by Michael Scott and chronicles Sheene’s life and times as one of the top motorcycle racers of the 1970s.

Barry, with his wife Stephanie, and on his racing bikes...

Sheene was a flamboyant man who lived the good life – fast cars, big houses, endorsement deals (with Brut, Diesel and others…), private aircraft and the most glamorous of women. He married Stephanie McLean, a gracious, tall, beautiful, Page 3 model and Barry and ‘Steph’ were one of the most glamorous couples of the 1970s.

Barry and Steph. Together, forever...

It was a terribly sad day when Sheene succumbed to cancer in March 2003, leaving behind his wife Stephanie and their two children. Recently, British magazine Classic Bike spoke to Stephanie, and here are excerpts from what she had to say about Barry, and their life together:

“I thought Barry was a cheeky little sod, very cocky and outrageous.”

“Brut? I hated it. So did Barry. He never wore it. Anyone who came around the house was welcome to take as many free samples as they wanted.”

“The riders from that time were extreme characters – very outrageous and lots of fun. Cecotto, Lucchinelli – Barry adored them all. Everything’s too politically correct these days.”

“We thought we were pretty ordinary. The press never bothered us as a couple. The journalists at the races were interested only in Barry, it was all about him.”

“He never took a bad race out on me. He might whinge to the press but that was that. But when he was injured, oh dear, he was a typical bloke. You know how it is.”

“When I first met him, his hair looked like someone had trimmed it around the bottom of one of his old pudding basin helmets. He was quite old fashioned when I met him. I had to trendy him up a bit.”

“The Seventies was like one big summer. We felt free. Then you wake up one morning and realize that you had a really good time then, but now it’s all gone. But I have no regrets and don’t believe Barry did. There’s nothing we would have done differently.”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Turbo Hayabusa sets new streetbike top speed record

The Suzuki 'Flying Hippo' Hayabusa really is the real deal...

Frank 'The Flying Dutchman' Gillebaard has, according to some website reports, set a new top speed world record for modified streetbikes. During a recent event in the UK, in Elvington (on a disused airport…) Gillebaard hits speeds of 424.64km/h on his turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa. Reports say that he did this on street tyres, though we wonder which street tyres are capable of speeds in excess of 400km/h!

In second place was Jack Frost, who ran his turbo ’Busa at 411.68km/h, and in third was Andy Head, who hit 385.28km/h on his turbo Kawasaki ZX-12R. It just gets Faster and Faster… :-)

2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory unveiled!

The 2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory - the best streetfighter in the world!

The existing Aprilia Tuono R is already one of the maddest streetfighter style bikes around – one that gives full-blown superbikes a run for their money. And things are going to get even better with the 2007 model. The 2007 Tuono R continues with the latest Aprilia RSV-R V-twin engine, which makes 139 horsepower. Carbonfibre is used for the bellypan, the mudguards and the side panels. The engine gets various magnesium bits, and there are OZ forged aluminium wheels for you to ogle at. The Tuono R Factory, the hardest of them all, gets a new paint scheme and Aprilia will make only 300 units, so get your orders in now!

Aprilia is also expected to launch a completely revamped RS125, which will borrow styling cues from the new Tuono R. With 39bhp from its single-cylinder two-stroke engine, and stiff, lightweight chassis, this could well be a giant-killer.

Finally, Aprilia is also set to return to world superbikes in 2008, with an all-new v4-engined RS1000. Apparently, the bike is being designed by Sergio Robbiano, who once served as apprentice to none other than Massimo Tamburini himself. In recent times, Robbiano has designed the Bimota DB5 and DB6 Delirio machines, which says a lot about what he’s capable of. With Piaggio cash to fuel new bike development, Aprilia is definitely on the move!

Update (27th October 2006): Aprilia are expected to unveil their all-new V4 superbike at the EICMA show in Milan on the 14th of November! The company will also shown all-new Tuono 750, powered by a DOHC, 8-valve, 100bhp v-twin. And for those who like their motorcycles in moderation, there could be a milder machine, powered by an 850cc, SOHC, 70bhp v-twin. This bike will, in all probability, be offered with an automatic gearbox!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

2007 Ducati Hypermotard spotted testing, production confirmed

The dramatic new Ducati Hypermotard will go on sale in 2007!

One of the more outstanding concepts to come out of Italy in recent times – and a bike which enthusiasts have been fervently hoping will make it to production – the Ducati Hypermotard is finally on! There are various reports of the bike having been seen testing in and around Bologna, in Italy, and it seems certain that the bike will be in Ducati showrooms early next year. The Hypermotard is expected to weigh in at around 175 kilos, and pack up to 135 horsepower from its 1100cc V-twin. That is if it gets Ducati's new 1098cc v-twin. If Ducati choose to fit the Hypermotard with their 1100cc air-cooled unit, it should still have around 100 horsepower. So it should be an amazing machine either way!

There's seems to be no letting up in sportsbike development in Italy. Ducati is also expected to be ready with its 1200cc superbike by 2008, which will replace the 999. Aprilia and KTM are also expected to be ready with their 1200cc superbikes by 2008, so the world superbike racing should be a riot in that year!

Also see:
2007 Ducati 1098 Superbike
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto
2007 BMW G650 XMoto
2007 KTM 690SM Supermoto
2007 BMW K1200R Sport
BMW HP2 video
KTM 950 Super Enduro R
2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory

2007 Triumph Tiger: Ready to roar!

The 2007 Triumph Tiger is a far better looking machine than the earlier model, and should be more capable all around

Triumph is ready with the 2007 Tiger, and it looks much, much better and far more stylish than the old bike. The big dual-purpose machine seems to be more road-oriented this time and with a new three-cylinder, 113 horsepower, 1050cc engine (which replaces the earlier 955cc triple…), it shouldn’t be lacking in the grunt department either.

The 2007 Triumph Tiger also gets a new aluminum beam chassis (in place of the old bike’s tubular steel frame) and 43mm USD forks. Wheel sizes are, again, a more street-oriented 17-inches instead of the 19-inch wheels used earlier. Nissin disc brakes are used front and rear, with twin 320mm rotors at the front being gripped by four-piston radial-mounted calipers! There’s an all-new braced aluminum swingarm and adjustable rear suspension – all nods towards better handling on the street.

With the 2007 Tiger, Triumph should be in a good position to take on similar D-P and/or streetfighter-style bikes from Aprilia, Benelli, BMW, Ducati, Kawasaki, KTM, Yamaha and others.

The 2007 Tiger is more street-oriented, which is a good thing

Monday, September 18, 2006

2007 Husaberg FS550e: Supermoto supreme!

2007 Husaberg FS550e: Light weight, powerful engine and a well-sorted chassis

Off-road/dual-purpose specialists, Husaberg have unveiled their new track-focused (yet street legal) FS550e for supermoto racing. The lightweight bike is powered by a liquid-cooled, 550cc, single-cylinder, SOHC, 4-stroke engine. Husaberg have not quoted any power figures for the bike, but we don’t suppose it would be lacking in the power department!

The FS550e is fitted with street-oriented 17-inch wheels (wearing Michelin Pilot Sport rubber), electric starter, six-speed gearbox, and meaty suspension components – 48mm USD WP front fork, and stiff, 50mm, linkageless adjustable rear shock. For stopping duties, there are Brembo brakes – a 310mm front disc gripped by four-piston radial caliper, and a 220mm, single caliper rear disc.

The bike is pegged at US$9,090 which is a bit on the high side, but this machine is probably just the right stuff for serious racers. To see the bike in action, watch a video here. And also check out the competition from KTM and BMW!

Bombardier Embrio: One-wheeled Wonder

Ok, the Bombardier Embrio isn't a motorcycle, but it'll let you wheelie forever, so it deserves a place here! :-)

Bombardier introduced the first snowmobile back in 1942, and for the last 65 years, they’ve never stopped innovating – with trains, airplanes, watercraft and ATVs. This time, it’s the Embrio, which has been designed to whisk you through crowded city streets. Er, on one wheel.

The Embrio has been conceptualized by the Montreal-based Bombardier Recreational Products (a spinoff of the aviation-focused parent company), and uses hydrogen fuel-cell technology for propulsion. Its system of gyroscopes keeps it upright on one wheel when it’s on the move, though in standby mode, a pair of extra wheels automatically deploy to keep the Embrio from tipping over.

You can watch an animated video here, but there's no working prototype yet. Comparisons with the vaguely similar Segway machines is inevitable, but when asked about what he thought of the Embrio, Doug Field, Segway's vice-president of design, only said that ‘I respect the design and the flow of the Embrio, but there is a difference between that and a working prototype.’

The main difference between the Segway machines and the Embrio (if it’s ever made!), as far as potential users are concerned, would be that the Embrio would be much heavier and significantly faster than the Segway machines. Let’s see how this one pans out in the next few months…!

Top speed is expected to be in the region of 60km/h, and the front wheel automatically comes down when the Embrio is parked. Cool!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Remembering John Surtees

John Surtees remains the only man in the history of motorsport to win 350cc and 500cc motorcycle roadracing world championships, and the Formula 1 car racing world championship as well!

Valentino Rossi is the only man to have won motorcycle racing world championships in four classes – 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and MotoGP. Freddie Spencer is the only man to have won 250cc and 500cc world championships in the same year (in 1985). And yet, both their accomplishments are overshadowed by those of one John Surtees – the only man to have won motorcycle racing world championships as well as the F1 crown!

Born in the UK in 1934, John Surtees won his first 500cc world championship in 1956, riding an MV Agusta. In 1958, 1959 and 1960, Surtees won both the 350cc and the 500cc world championships (!!!) and also became the first man ever to win the Senior Isle of Man TT three years in succession.

In 1960, at 26 years of age, Surtees switched from motorcycles to cars, making his Formula 1 debut driving for Lotus in the Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo. He moved to Ferrari in 1963, and won the F1 world championship in 1964.

Surtees retired from competition in 1972, and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1996. Surely, one of the greatest motorcycle racers of all time! To read more about the man and the story of how he got into F1, go here

The Prancing Mouse: Ducati 999-powered Fiat 500!

The Fiat 500 is the cutest car we've seen. Now imagine a 150 horsepower Ducati V-twin under the bonnet... :-))

The simple, yet very charismatic late-1950s Fiat 500 is one of the cutest cars anywhere in the world. But, we have to accept, it could have done with a bit more power. So this Fiat F500 has been fitted with a Ducati V-twin, which pumps out more than 150 horsepower. It also gets a carbonfibre composite chassis, brembo disc brakes and sequential six-speed manual transmission. It won't actually outrun a Ferrari, but 0-100km/h time is claimed to be 4 seconds, and the car has a top speed of about 200km/h. Should be a right blast to drive, eh?

Go here for more cars that are powered by motorcycle engines!

An old Italian commercial for the Fiat 500. Charming!