Monday, December 04, 2006

Down memory lane: Yamaha RD500LC

The Yamaha RD500LC - a Grand Prix bike for the road!

If Ducati can do a full-on MotoGP-replica streetbike with the Desmosedici RR, why can’t Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki or Yamaha do one of their own? A Honda CBR1000RR in Repsol livery sure looks great, but it isn’t really the real thing, is it? A road-going RC211V or M1 would be the coolest thing on the planet. What a pity they’ll never be built…

Speaking of road-going race-replicas, some pretty hot ones have come out of Japan and Italy over the last 20 years. The Suzuki RGV250, the Yamaha TZ250, the Kawasaki KR-1, the Honda NSR250 and the Aprilia RS250 were pretty torrid stuff. These two-stroke machines had great power-to-weight ratios and very high speed cornering capabilities – on tight, twisty roads, even litre-class superbikes would struggle to keep up with these absolutely mental 250s.

But for the ultimate in repli-racer street-cred, the mid-1980s Yamaha RD500LC has to be the motorcycle. Based on Kenny Roberts’ Yamaha OW61 YZR500 Grand Prix machine, the RD500LC was powered by a two-stroke, liquid-cooled, 499cc V4, which made 88bhp@9500rpm in stock condition. It had a six-speed gearbox and dry weight was around 208kg. Top speed was 225km/h!

The RD500LC had underseat exhaust pipes, ran a 16-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear, and carried twin brake discs at the front and a single disc at the back. Yamaha also fitted their YPVS (Yamaha Power Valve System) on the RD500LC. Chassis was box-section steel tube, but a Japanese-market-only version – the RZV500R – had an aluminium chassis, though the engine was actually detuned and made only 64bhp.

Of course, tuners regularly pumped up the 500LC engine and power outputs of 100-120bhp were not uncommon on tuned and fettled bikes! Yes, the RD500LC was not very successful in production racing series of that era, and never became anywhere near as popular as the RD250 or RD350 machines, but still, it has to be the world’s most desirable Grand Prix racebike replica ever made.

Also see:
Motorcycle Grand Prix racing - then and now
MotoCzysz C1 MotoGP replica
Ducati Desmosedici RR MotoGP replica
2007 Yamaha R1

A short video showing the Yamaha RZV500R, the Japanese-market RD500LC

Friday, December 01, 2006

Triumph Daytona 675 wins International Bike of the Year

Yeah, the Daytona 675 is the International Bike of the Year

The Triumph Daytona 675 has won the International Bike of the Year award. Fifteen of the world’s leading motorcycle magazines voted in the IBOTY poll, where the Triumph Daytona 675 got 26 votes, followed by the Yamaha YZF R6 at 11 votes and the Kawasaki ZZR1400 at 9 votes.

Earlier this year, the Daytona 675 had also won the Supersport class in the world’s biggest sportsbike shootout – the Masterbike – with 27 votes, as opposed to only 7 votes which went to the Suzuki GSX-R750, which came in second place. Looks like Triumph are on to a good thing with the 675…

Update (22.02.2007): According to some news articles on websites and in some magazines, Triumph are all set to launch a new Street Triple 675. This naked streetfighter will take styling cues from Triumph's own Speed Triple, but will use the Daytona 675's engine, chassis and suspension components. Hope this gets confirmed in the next few days!

Also see:
2007 Triumph Tiger
Triumph Speed Triple
Daytona 675 vs GSX-R750!

Triumph Daytona 675 road test video

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Derbi Mulhacen 659 X-Vision: Record your ride

Forget performance - this one has cameras that let you record your ride!

Car and SUV owners can watch TV while driving, but does television go with motorcycles? Yes, if you ask Derbi. The Spanish motorcycle manufacturers have developed the Derbi Mulhacen 659 X-Vision prototype, which has built-in cameras and a TV screen!

The bike allows you to place micro-cameras all around your motorcycle and you can then record your ride from various angles. And watch the video on a small LCD screen mounted on the bike. Then, of course, you can upload the video on to your PC and the Internet.

We think the engineers at Derbi are spending too much time on YouTube…

Record your ride and then watch the video on a small LCD screen mounted on the bike...

Like off-beat machines? Then also see:
Brudeli 625L
Gilera Fuoco 500
Hyosung Trendkiller
Jesse James' Aero Bike 2800
Suzuki B-King
Bombardier Embrio
Volkswagen GX3
Wakan 1640

Craig Jones: Stop This!

Craig Jones and Wing Chui, riding a Buell Firebolt XB12R at the Donington Park circuit in the UK. On the front wheel only. For 305metres...

Somebody stop British stunt pro, Craig Jones. Back in 2003, Jones, riding a Buell, had set the world’s longest solo stoppie record at 225 metres. In 2004, he beat his own record and did a 266 metre stoppie on a Buell Firebolt. Now, he’s done it again – a 305 metre stoppie on a Buell Firebolt XB12R, at the Donington Park circuit in the UK. And this time, Jones’ co-rider Wing Chui was also along for the ride.

Craig Jones took his Buell Firebolt to speeds in excess of 200km/h before applying the front brake, lifting the rear wheel off the ground and balancing the bike on its front wheel for 305 metres. Impressive, eh? And equally impressive was Chui, who was precariously mounted on the front wheel spindle as he hung on to the front fairing bracket for those 305 metres!

Says Jones, ‘We think we managed to conclusively prove that Buell motorcycles are capable of some pretty extraordinary things.’ Er, certainly…

Monday, November 27, 2006

NRV588 - The Norton Rotary lives again!

With a 170bhp rotary engine and 130kg kerb weight, the NRV588 should offer amazing performance!

The now-legendary rotary-engined Norton F1 from the early ’90s could possibly make a comeback. The mega-expensive (about US$45,000 back then…) F1 had a liquid-cooled 588cc rotary engine that produced 95bhp@9500rpm. The racebike based on the F1, the Norton F1 RCW588, won the British F1 series in 1989, and was also raced at the Isle of Man.

Now, there’s an all-new Norton – the NRV588 prototype – powered by a 170-horsepower Wankel rotary engine. Displayed at the recent NEC show in the UK, the new bike has been developed by Brian Crighton, the man behind the Norton racing team in the late-1980s and early-1990s. The machine is essentially based on the old F1 and the National Motorcycle Museum in the UK (where some of the old Norton rotary racers are displayed) has paid for development costs!

The engine is still a 588cc twin-rotor Wankel unit, but now it gets fuel injection, variable inlet tracts, and fly-by-wire technology. Chassis is a Spondon-made twin-spar aluminium frame and the front forks are Ohlins-made. The bike weighs in at a featherweight 130kg, and with 170bhp on tap, performance should be phenomenal. Here’s hoping the bike makes it past the prototype stage and gets into production. Should make for one hell of a giant-killing superbike!

Also see:
Rotary-engined Suzuki RE-5
Norton Ala'Verda: Daniel Delfour's Anglo-Italian hybrid...

Video footage of some rotary-powered Norton racebikes from the late-1980s

Saturday, November 25, 2006

WP electronic suspension now available for more bikes

WP's electronic suspension adjustment system allows you to twiddle a few knobs to make it stiffer or softer. Cool!

WP, the Netherlands-based suspension specialists have announced that their electronic suspension systems will now be available for other motorcycles apart from BMW machines.

Developed as the ESA – Electronic Suspension Adjustment – for various BMWs, the system allows riders to tailor suspension behaviour according to their riding style, road conditions and load being carried. The system allows for full adjustability of compression and rebound damping on the move, while preload can also be changed, albeit only when the bike is stationary.

WP are now engineering the same system for various other bikes as well, and we expect some Japanese and Italian manufacturers to start offering this electronic suspension adjustment system as an optional extra, on some of their high-end touring-oriented bikes next year. And going by what similar systems cost on BMWs, expect to pay about US$800 extra for adding WP’s electronic wizardry to your machine. This, surely, is the future of motorcycle suspension…

Also see:
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto
2007 BMW K1200R Sport
AC Schnitzer HP2

Friday, November 24, 2006

New Old Blue: Ducati team up with NCR

That's the NCR Ducati Old Blue. Er.., ok, it's the New Blue

Ducati North America had commissioned NCR Racing to create a replica of the 1977 Daytona winning Ducati ‘Old Blue’ 750SS, which was raced in the mid-1970s by journalists Cook Neilson and Phil Schilling. The new Old Blue, which has been recreated to celebrate the old Old Blue’s landmark victory at Daytona, was shown at the recent EICMA show in Milan.

The 2007 Old Blue (New Blue…) is based on a Ducati SportClassic Sport 1000S, which NCR have worked on extensively. The result has been extensive weight reduction (down 38 kilos!) and a 30bhp power hike. With various carbonfibre, titanium and magnesium parts bringing kerb weight down to 150kg, and 116 horsepower from its 1100cc air-cooled v-twin, the Old Blue is no misty-eyed show-only replica – it’s serious stuff.

Slipper clutch, six-speed transmission, blue-and-silver paint scheme, Zard exhaust, upgraded suspension, steel tubular trellis chassis and manufacturing technologies borrowed from F1 and aerospace industries are all part of the New Blue package. And the bike will also carry a titanium plate bearing the signatures of Cook Neilson and Phil Schilling.

NCR will build a limited number of these bikes, all of which will be for track use only, for the American market.

Also see:
2007 Ducati SportClassic lineup
2007 Ducati 1098
2007 Ducati Hypermotard
2007 Ducati Multistrada 1100
Ducati Desmosedici RR

Massimo Tamburini designs new Husqvarna STR 650 CC

Styling by Massimo Tamburini, handling by Husqvarna

Unveiled at the EICMA show in Milan, the new Husqvarna STR 650 CC supermoto looks quite capable. The styling has been penned by Massimo Tamburini himself, and the 132-kilo bike is powered by a single-cylinder, liquid-cooled 650cc engine.

There’s a 50mm USD fork up front, while the progressive monoshock rear features a new eccentric system which allows continuous spring preload and rebound / compression damping adjustment. The Husqvarna STR 650 CC sure should be a blast on winding mountain roads then…

Also see:
2007 BMW G650 XMoto
2007 KTM 690SM supermoto
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto
2007 Husaberg FS550e supermoto

Friday, November 17, 2006

Three Spree: Gilera Fuoco 500

The radical-looking Gilera Fuoco 500 scooter. Should be fun!

Gilera looked at Piaggio’s MP3 three-wheeled scooter and decided they also want to do one. So here it is – the Gilera Fuoco 500, which has been unveiled at the EICMA show in Milan. While we don’t know how practical it is, it sure looks terrific and it’s slated to go on sale in a few weeks from now. Cool!

Want to practise getting your knee down? The almost-impossible-to-crash Fuoco should be the ideal tool...

The three-wheeled Fuoco (Italian for ‘Fire’) is based on the Piaggio MP3’s chassis but has been modified and optimised for sportier handling. Power comes from a 500cc single-cylinder engine, which makes around 40 horsepower, and the transmission is of course a CVT system. Like with the MP3, the Fuoco’s main advantage over a conventional two-wheeler is said to be greatly improved stability and safety, especially on wet and slippery road surfaces. But hell, we’d buy it for its looks alone!

'Lose' the front end on this and it'll merely slide. On your GSX-R, you may end up in a hospital...

Also see:
Hi-res Gilera Fuoco wallpaper
Piaggio MP3
Brudeli 625L three-wheeler
Volkswagen GX3
Campagna T-Rex three-wheeler

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Aprilia show new bikes at the EICMA in Milan

The all-new Aprilia NA 850 Mana features a fully automatic CVT-style transmission which can also be operated as a sequential-shift 7-speed gearbox!

Aprilia are going all out in Italy – they’ve unveiled the new NA 850 Mana and SL 750 Shiver bikes, and also their new V4 engine with which they will go racing in world superbikes in 2007.

The NA 850 Mana features a very innovative electronic transmission control, which can be configured to operate either as a fully automatic CVT system (you can choose from three different mappings – touring, sport and rain) or a sequential-shift seven-speed gearbox. The engine is an SOHC, 8-valve, 75 horsepower, 90-degree v-twin, while the chassis is tubular steel trellis frame, which is supposed to offer excellent torsional rigidity.

The new Aprilia Shiver packs an all-new 90-degree v-twin that makes 95 horsepower

The SL 750 Shiver gets ride-by-wire (like the 2007 Yamaha R1) and features Aprilia’s all-new DOHC, 90-degree v-twin engine that makes 95 horsepower. It’s a high-tech unit which uses a very sophisticated engine management system and has a CAN (Controlled Area Network) line to the instrument panel, which also acts as a diagnostic terminal. The CAN line uses just two wires to transmit all data, thereby simplifying the electrical system and helping reduce overall weight. The gearbox is a conventional six-speed unit, while the chassis is tubular steel trellis for a lightweight yet strong and stiff package. (Update, 23rd Jan., 2007: The latest news is that Aprilia will also offer a fully-faired version of the Shiver 750, and perhaps pitch it as an alternative to supersport Japanese 600s...)

Finally, Aprilia’s first four-cylinder engine – a V4 with which Aprilia will go racing in world superbikes next year – is extremely light and compact and makes more than 210 horsepower. Aprilia sure looks like the one company that’s going places in 2007!

The all-new Aprilia Atlantic is powered by Aprilia's new 400cc, liquid-cooled, 34bhp, single-cylinder engine. Looks like this could be the coolest machine ever for learners...

Update (26.02.2007): The latest word on the 750 Shiver is... (no, they're not changing the name!)... is that Aprilia will build an all-new sportsbike around it. The new bike will retain the Shiver's 95bhp v-twin, but will get a half fairing (a full fairing might be optional), uprated brakes, wheels and tyres and is likely to cost about US$12,000. While the name has not been finalised yet, it could be called the Aprilia Shiver S or the Aprilia Shiver R. Watch this space!

External link:
Aprilia 850 Mana picture gallery

Buell Lightning Super TT XB12STT unveiled at the EICMA in Milan

The 2007 Lightning Super TT XB12STT. Looks weird but should go quite hard...

Buell have shown the new Lightning Super TT XB12STT (whew!) at the EICMA in Milan. Billed as an ‘urban supermoto,’ the streetfighter-style Lightning Super TT is powered by a 1203cc v-twin that makes 103 horsepower. There’s a 43mm USD Showa fork up front, while the rear shock is also Showa and both ends are fully adjustable. Dry weight is 181kg and while the bike is sold as a single-seater, a passenger seat can be added later.

A company press release says ‘The Lightning Super TT is just the bike to attack city streets. It is powerful in every gear, rpm and twist of the throttle. The air/oil/fan-cooled V-Twin engine features DDFI II electronic fuel injection and the Buell Interactive Exhaust is tuned for the ultimate in performance and control.’

With its belt drive, unique chassis and braking system and well-sorted suspension, the Lightning Super TT could possible worry riders of more conventional superbikes. Yours for US$10,300 – deliveries start in January 2007.

Also see:
2007 Buell Lightning Long XB12Ss
2007 Buell XBRR
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto
2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory
2007 KTM 990 Superduke R

Monday, November 13, 2006

2007 MV Agusta updates

The ultra-exclusive MV Agusta F4 CC. Only 100 will be made. Each will carry a price tag of US$130,000
The 2007 MV Agusta F4 1000R. Still the most beautiful motorcycle in the world

MV Agusta are updating their motorcycles for 2007. First up is the F4 1000R, which now gets a divine new black and white paint scheme and a new one-piece exhaust system. The most beautiful motorcycle in the world is now fully Euro 3-compliant, but still packs 174 horsepower and is capable of hitting more than 300km/h.

MV are also showing the Claudio Castiglioni edition F4 CC at the ongoing EICMA show in Milan. Only 100 of these bikes will be made. The F4 CC is powered by an all-new 1078cc inline-four, power output for which is expected to be in the region of 200bhp. Top speed is restricted to 315km/h, which should be enough for most! Each bike will cost US$130,000 and owners will be able to buy exclusive accessories like a Trussardi leather jacket and a Girard Perregaux watch. So it's worth being really rich then. 

2007 MV Agusta 910R. Cool!

Apart from new paint schemes, the 2007 MV Agusta Brutale 910 S gets a new ECU, which helps it meet Euro 3 emission norms. It also gets redesigned valves and pistons, which result in a 2bhp power hike (there’s 139bhp available now) and smoother power delivery. There’s also the new 910 R variant with better suspension, radial monoblock brakes (Brembo) and other minor detail changes.

The 2007 MV Agusta 910S. The future is bright. The future is orange...?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Brudeli 625L: Radical new KTM-based three-wheeler

The Brudeli 625L lets you do this without fear of falling off!

BrudeliTech, the makers of the Brudeli 625L three-wheeler you see here, say that theirs is ‘a unique new vehicle providing an extraordinary riding experience,’ and that it is ‘best described as something in between a motorcycle and an ATV-quad.’ The machine is expected to be launched by mid-2007.

Designed by one of Scandinavia’s leading design houses, Hareide Designmill, the Brudeli 625L borrows its engine and various chassis components from the KTM 625 SMC supermotard, and utilises Ohlins suspension components. The specially designed front wheel mechanism lets the two front wheels lean at an angle of up to 45 degrees. With some practise, even moderately skilled riders should be able to ride the Brudeli harder than they would be able to ride a motorcycle, without falling off!

For videos of the Brudeli in action, go here

Yeah, three-wheelers can be fun!

2007 Ducati 1098: First pics and details

As reported earlier, Ducati are ready with the new 1098 and what you see on top are the first official pictures from the Italian manufacturer. And here’s what you really want to know – the 1098 packs 160 horsepower, weighs 173kg dry gets a 998-style single-sided swingarm. Like the 2007 GSX-R1000, the new Ducati 1098 could possibly get some kind of traction control system, though details are not yet available.

For many potential buyers of the 1098, its styling could be an important factor. And while the bike (designed by an Italian - Gianadrea Fabbro) certainly looks very different from the 999, we aren't convinced it looks better. There are shades of the Honda Fireblade here. And the 999. And the 998. While the 999 was a bold, confident step ahead in the evolution of Ducati design, the same can't be said of the 1098. Ducati already have the Sport Classic range for retro fans, but a retro superbike...?

The 1098 will be available in three versions, with the base (standard) model being pegged at US$14,995 and the 1098S costing US$19,995. The top-of-the-line 1098S Tri-Colore will get a special red, white and green paint scheme, Ohlins suspension, lightweight alloys and and Termignoni high-performance exhaust system. It'll cost US$24,995.

Will the 1098 do much better than the 999? Will it revive Ducati's fortunes in the showroom and on the racetrack? Time will tell.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Wildlife: 2007 KTM 990 Superduke R breaks cover!

The 2007 KTM 990 Superduke R. Wild!

KTM have shown the 2007 990 Superduke R, and the bike seems to be wilder than ever before! The orange and black paint scheme has been revamped, the chassis is painted orange, the fuel tank is slightly bigger, and the 1000cc KTM v-twin has been tuned to kick out a few more horses.

The styling has shades of the earlier Superduke, but has actually been sharpened up a bit, and the LED taillamp, instrument cluster, radial brakes and front mini-fairing are all-new. The 2007 Superduke R is only available as a single-seater, which indicates just how hard-core a streetfighter this is supposed to be. Should be interesting to see how this KTM stacks up to the Aprilia Tuono R Factory!

A video of the KTM 990 Superduke in action!

Also see:
Nitroduke - the world's fastest KTM!
2007 KTM 690SM
2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto
KTM 950 Super Enduro R

Rossi starts preparing for 2007

Yeah, he will be back!

Valentino Rossi has started preparing for the 2007 MotoGP battle. He recently tested the new 800cc Yamaha in Valencia, and came away feeling happy. Said Rossi, "I’m already feeling much better. In fact, I wish the season started in two weeks time! We actually started off the test by doing some laps on the old 990cc bike as we wanted to have one more go at understanding why we lost! Then it was time to finally put it all behind us and get on with the new campaign. It’s been great to be able to try the new bike straight away, when the 990 is still fresh in my mind, as it’s easy to compare and understand the differences. Our bike is already quite good; it’s at a good level for this early stage of development. This is the third time I’ve ridden it and it’s got better each time because they’ve been working hard in Japan.

They haven’t made so many big changes yet, just small things like the engine setting, but already it’s a bit faster. The most important thing at the moment is to get as much information as possible and really start to understand and get to know the bike. I’m already feeling very motivated about the new bike and I am sure that next time I ride it in Jerez it will be even better!"

Meanwhile, 2006 MotoGP world champ, Nicky Hayden says "Next year, I'd like to come back stronger. I feel like I'm getting better every year." To read more about what the Kentucky Kid has to say, visit the Cycle World website here

Random Ramblings