Saturday, December 30, 2006

Faster and Faster: The Best of 2006

As the year 2006 comes to an end, it’s time for the
Faster and Faster Best of 2006 Awards
Here we go...

Kawasaki ZZR1400: 200bhp. 320km/h. Best open-class sportsbike of 2006

Best open-class sportsbike
Kawasaki have had a tradition of building some of the fastest, most powerful motorcycles in the world. Remember the H1, Z1, GPZ750 Turbo, GPZ900, ZXR750, ZZR1100 and the ZX-12R? The ZX-12R, which packs 165 horsepower, can easily hit 280km/h. Kawasaki decided that was not enough, so they launched the ZZR1400, which packs 197 horsepower and does top speeds of 320km/h. It also looks awesome and handles well for its size and weight. In our book, it’s the best open class sportsbike of 2006. Suzuki, now are you going to build that six-cylinder, 1100cc, 210bhp Hayabusa in 2008…?

Suzuki GSX-R1000: The best litre-class sportsbike of 2006

Best litre-class sportsbike
It’s got to be the Suzuki GSX-R1000. Small, light, nimble, and hugely powerful, the mega Gixxer continued to redefine the modern-day 1000cc superbike. The 2007 model will have more power, various chassis and suspension tweaks and even traction control, but the 2006 GSX-R1000 actually looks better. Yeah, it’s the best litre-class superbike of 2006, though the all-new Yamaha R1 is waiting to snatch away its glory in 2007!

Triumph Daytona 675: The best middleweight sportsbike of 2006

Best middleweight sportsbike
It was tough deciding between the Triumph Daytona 675 and the Suzuki GSX-R750, but the 675 won out in the end. The bike, with its sharp and distinctive looks, powerful three cylinder engine, and superb handling, offers a package that few can ignore. It’s got enough of everything – power, performance, handling, style, attitude – but doesn’t overwhelm you with extreme ergonomics or scary acceleration/top speeds. Right then, the Triumph 675, which also won the 2006 International Bike of the Year award, was the best middleweight sportsbike in 2006. But Triumph definitely need to watch out for the new Honda CBR600RR and Kawasaki ZX-6R in 2007.

MV Agusta F41000R: The best styled sportsbike of 2006

Best styled sportsbike
The MV Agusta F41000R, of course. Massimo Tamburini has created a motorcycle just refuses to be bested in terms of styling and sheer, gorgeous street presence. There are bikes that are lighter, more powerful and faster, but when it comes to a motorcycle making you stop and just stare at it in complete silence, the MV is still at the top. And 300km/h should be enough for anyone anyway. No discussion, no debate and no arguments – the MV Agusta F41000R was the best styled sportsbike in 2006.

Aprilia Tuono R: The best streetfighter of 2006

Best streetfighter
Again, no surprises here – it’s the Aprilia Tuono R, though the Triumph Speed Triple is a very close second. With its mix of aggressive and beautifully proportionate styling, stonking V-twin engine, and high-spec chassis and suspension bits, the Tuono R is one hell of a machine for those who want the ultimate in sportsbike performance, but can’t be bothered with racebike-style fairings and extreme ergonomics. The Tuono R was indeed the best streetfighter in 2006, though it will have some stiff competition from the KTM 990 Superduke R and the BMW HP2 Megamoto in 2007.

Honda VFR800: The best sportstourer of 2006

Best sportstourer
It’s our old favourite – the Honda VFR800, which just about edged out the BMW K1200S by a narrow margin. Yes, the BMW is more powerful, quicker and faster, but the VFR, with its 800cc VTEC V-four, still does it right for us. Superb ergonomics, manageable heft, deft handling and adequate power mean that the smooth, refined VFR still ticks all the boxes. And now that the earlier glitches in the VTEC system have been ironed out, it’s better than ever before. The VFR800 was the best sportstourer in 2006, but with the imminent arrival of the Kawasaki 1400GTR, its position may be threatened in 2007-08.

Gilera Fuoco 500: The funkiest, coolest off-beat bike of 2006

Funkiest, coolest off-beat bike
It’s a scooter! Yeah, we quite love the Gilera Fuoco 500 (and the Piaggio MP3 on which it’s based). With its three wheels, super-funky styling and sporty handling and performance, the Fuoco 500 has the style, panache and cool of a proper Italian machine. And we absolutely love it for that.

Ducati Desmosedici RR: The most desirable bike of 2006

The most desirable bike
The most desirable motorcycle in 2006 was also from Italy. What could possibly be more desirable than parking a proper MotoGP replica in your garage, and the Ducati Desmosedici RR is just that. The Desmosedici’s MotoGP-spec 989cc L4 makes 205 horsepower and can propel the 165-kilo bike to speeds in excess of 320km/h. And the bike’s styling is so utterly, madly, beautifully gorgeous, it’s beyond us to say anything about it. The Desmo RR may cost US$65,000 but we’d do anything to get our hands on one.

And that's it, ladies and gentlemen, for 2006. Hope you have an absolute blast and wish you a very happy new year. See you in 2007!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New type of cat-con could make life easier for motorcyclists

The sound of silence: Too quiet, too heavy and too restrictive...

Our absolute no.1 favourite litre-class superbike is the svelte, sweet handling, and hugely powerful 2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000. The 2007 machine may have a basic iteration of traction control, but the shape of the headlamp and the graphics on the bodywork leave something to be desired. Also, the 2007 GSX-R1000 has two unsightly exhaust cans (one on either side) in place of the single-sided unit on the 2006 bike.

Not that Suzuki are to blame though. Increasingly strict emission norms mean more catalytic converters choking up our bikes’ exhaust systems. Which, in turn, means heavier, more complex and more expensive exhausts which offer reduced performance – no wonder we hate cat-cons!

While it doesn’t look like there’s an immediate solution to this problem, things could change in the next 3 – 4 years. FCC, a Japanese company in which Honda are major shareholders, are working on a new type of catalytic converter which would be made from paper, mixed with platinum and other exotic metals.

This cat-con will be very lightweight, relatively inexpensive and yet adhere to stringent emission norms without big losses in power and performance. Work is already in progress, and the FCC cat-con could possibly go on sale by 2010. Cool!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Get ready for the KTM RC8!

If you can see this in your rear-view mirror, something orange is going to fly past you soon...

KTM most definitely are on a roll. They have recently shown some awesome new bikes that are packed with power, performance, aggression and bad-boy attitude. And the best is yet to come. Yeah, we’re talking about the RC8 superbike, which KTM have been working on for the last two years.

Given the kind of off-road/dual-purpose machines that KTM have been building, the road-going RC8 (which will most likely be powered by a 990cc or a 1150cc V-twin, and pack more than 160 horsepower…) won’t upset any existing superbike hierarchies. No, it’ll just tear them up, pour some petrol on them and put them on fire. Yup, it’ll kick arse, good and proper. And now KTM have gone and put up a little website for this bike. Have a look at

The KTM RC8 should offer a radical new take on litre-class performance. Watch out, Japan and Italy!

Also see:
Nitroduke: The world's fastest KTM!
KTM 950 Super Enduro R
2007 KTM 690 Supermoto
2007 KTM 990 Superduke R
X-Bow: Radical new sportster from KTM

Long Way Round. Again. And again...

Biker Boyz: These two are going the long way again. Cool!

Though they’ve already been around the world on their BMW R1200GS motorcycles, Brits Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman are getting ready to take off again. The two are planning two more trips – each of which, we’re sure, will again be turned into a television series. Which is a good thing, since we hugely enjoyed the original Long Way Round saga…

In 2007, Ewan and Charlie will ride from London to Cape Town, and the trip will be called Long Way Down. That will be followed by Long Way Up, where the two will ride from Argentina to the United States.

Like with Long Way Round, the riders will have a full back-up team of camera crews and mechanics and other support people, and yeah, we’re sure there’ll be some who’ll diss the whole thing because of that. As for us, we’re just plain envious. How we wish we could give up our jobs, break out of the office cubicle, fire up our bikes and ride off into the sunset…

Phase Change Material: The next level in rider apparel development?

Blowing hot and cold? You need PCM jackets then. And you can buy 'em from BMW...

The textile technology department of the widely respected Indian Institute of Technology has announced that it has developed a new ‘phase change’ material, which may be used for making motorcycling jackets and trousers in the near future. PCM (phase change material) jackets will be able to absorb heat when it gets too hot, keeping the rider cool. And when it gets too cold, the jacket will be able to release stored heat, keeping the rider warm!

Sounds too good to be true? Well, BMW are already offering PCM clothing. Part of the 2007 BMW Motorrad rider equipment collection, BMW’s PhaseChange undersuit uses Schoeller PCM in its construction. This PCM consists of microcapsules of Paraffin that react to changes in the rider’s body temperature, as well as the ambient temperature. And by storing/releasing heat as described above, the material allows the rider to maintain a uniformly comfortable body temperature, regardless of weather conditions.

Prices for the two-piece PhaseChange suit are US$140 for the trousers and US$120 for the jacket. For more details, try going to

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Straight Torque: TRACK T-800CDI

Who'd want a GSX-R1000 if they can have this?

If a weird-looking diesel-powered motorcycle is what you always wanted, you just got lucky. Netherlands-based Eva Products have started making and selling a shaft-driven diesel motorcycle that uses a three-cylinder, 800cc, 54-horsepower engine. And while 54bhp may not sound like much, the 800cc diesel triple also makes 150Nm of torque, which is more than what some litre-class superbikes have! For more details, go to

Also see:
Mad Scooter: Gilera Fuoco 500
Derbi Mulhacen 659 X-vision
French luxury cruiser: Wakan 1640
Other weird bikes!
What your bike says about you!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Motogiro D’Italia: 20th - 24th May 2007

If you're a vintage/classic bike enthusiast, the Motogiro D'Italia is an absolute must-attend!

The oldest long-distance motorcycle roadracing event in Italy – the Motogiro D’Italia – is scheduled to take place from the 20th to the 24th of May, in 2007. The first Motogiro D’Italia was held back in 1914, was resurrected in the 1950s and then re- resurrected in 2001. It’s been held every year since then and today, it’s an important event for vintage motorcycle enthusiasts the world over.

Participants in the 2007 Motogiro D’Italia will start from central Italy and head towards Sicily in southern Italy, where they will have the opportunity to ride on some of the most beautiful roads in Europe. The route will comprise of five legs of about 250km each.

Enthusiasts, collectors and ex-racers will take part and hundreds of vintage and classic bikes are expected to be there for the event. All the names from Italy’s golden age of motorcycling – Ducati, Morini, MV Agusta, Moto Guzzi, Benelli, Bianchi, Piaggio, Gilera, and Motobi among others – will be represented at the event, though Ducati are the prime event sponsors.

The Motogiro is open to all motorcycles and all marques authorized for road use, and the event is divided into three classes – Vintage Racing class (for bikes up to 175cc, manufactured prior to 1957), Taglioni Memorial class (street-legal bikes, 350cc or higher, produced between 1968 and 1978), and the non-competitive Touring class, open to all bikes. For more information, visit

Also see:
2007 Ducati SportClassic range
Limited-edition MV Agusta F4 CC
Remembering John Surtees
2007 Aprilia motorcycles

Saturday, December 16, 2006

MotoGP-powered KRV5 Board-tracker replica!

That's a 990cc, V5, 200bhp MotoGP engine. And no front brakes!

US-based custom bike builder Rolands Sands has teamed with 500cc motorcycle grand prix racing star of the 1970s, Kenny Roberts, and created the KRV5 Tracker. And yes, the machine uses a 990cc, V5 MotoGP engine, which was used by Team Roberts in their racing bikes from 2002-2005!

Sands says the machine was built in homage to the board trackers raced on wooden tracks in the US many decades ago. Since MotoGP will have new 800cc engines from 2007 onwards, Kenny Roberts himself wanted to do something interesting, something ‘cool,’ with the old 990cc V5 powerplant. And the result has been the KRV5. You decide if it’s cool. And if you think it is, get the full story here

Also see these other custom-built specials:
The new NCR Ducati Old Blue
Hyosung TrendKiller
Moto Corse Ducati and MV Agusta
Jesse James' seven-cylinder, 2800cc, Aero Bike
AC Schnitzer BMW HP2

Friday, December 15, 2006

Two-stroke glory: The Suzuki RGV250

The 1990s Suzuki RGV250. Kevin Schwantz's bike for the street. Well, almost...

We love Kevin Schwantz here at Faster and Faster, and have fond memories of him riding his Suzuki RGV500 grandprix machine to the 1993 world championship. We want to be able to ride like Schwantz. We still want to wear a Schwantz-replica Arai helmet. And we want his Suzuki RGV. None of which is possible of course. But yes, in 1990, you could get tantalisingly close to being Kevin Schwantz on the street. Via the Suzuki RGV250, a head-banging two-stroke race-replica, built in homage to Kevin’s exploits on Suzuki GP racebikes.

Launched in 1989, the Suzuki RGV250 represented cutting-edge two-stroke technology of that time. While the Yamaha TZR250, the Honda NSR250 and the Kawasaki KR-1 also existed, the RGV was pretty much king of 250 race-rep hill. The bike was thin, light, and was fitted with GP-style bodywork. Trick bits included aluminium twin-spar chassis, USD forks at the front, a banana-style swingarm, and twin stacked exhaust pipes – just like you’d find on Schwantz’s bike!

The engine was a v-twin that made around 58 horsepower – enough to propel the 159-kilo RGV to a top speed of 195km/h. With the close-ratio six-speed gearbox, you could keep the engine on the boil through the twisties, and wide wheels shod with meaty tyres – along with the high-spec chassis and suspension – allowed for very high cornering speeds.

The two-stroke era started to come to an end by the late-1990s, and Suzuki ceased production of the RGV250 in 1999. Today’s GSX-Rs may offer performance far beyond what the RGV could ever aspire to, but two-stroke enthusiasts, and Kevin Schwantz fans, continue to miss the RGV250 even today…

Also see:
 Kevin Schwantz speaks to Faster and Faster
The Yamaha RD500LC
2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000
Stephanie McLean talks about Barry Sheene

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Angelina Jolie wins, Valentino Rossi in second place!

Would you want to take her with you on your bike? Hell, yes!

In a recent survey conducted for the MCN London Motorcycle Show 2007, Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has been voted at the no.1 slot for motorcyclists’ all-time dream pillion passenger! Jolie was in first with twenty-five percent of all votes, followed by Valentino Rossi in second place, with twenty-one percent votes, and glamour model Keeley Hazell in third place, with twenty percent votes.

Long Way Round star, Ewan McGregor was in fourth place with fourteen percent votes, while the late, great Barry Sheene (500cc motorcycle GP racing world champ in 1976 and 77) finished in fifth place. The remaining five names to make the top ten list are Elle Macpherson, Steve McQueen, Milla Jovovich, Brad Pitt and surprisingly, Mamie Van Doren, a not-so-well-known actress from the 1950s!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yamaha V-Max concept shown in the US

This is what the next Terminator will probably ride

Yamaha recently showed their V-Max concept at the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show, at Long Beach, in the US. This is the first time that this concept was shown outside Japan. Yamaha are looking upon the next V-Max as a ‘muscle cruiser’ and the bike will be powered by a V4 engine. Engine capacity has not been finalised yet, but we expect it to be around 1800-2000cc.

With its stubby, almost-menacing lines and brutish engine, the new V-Max should be the last word in straight line performance and Yamaha want to do this motorcycle specifically for the American market. If the bike, which is purely a concept at this stage, does go into production at some time, it’ll be branded as a ‘Star,’ which is the Yamaha cruiser range. Regarding their other muscle cruiser, the MT-01, Yamaha spokespersons say that it was never intended to be a replacement for the V-Max and that the two bikes would anyway attract completely different types of customers.

Update: 2009 Yamaha V-Max
V-Max launch delayed, bike to hit the roads in 2009...

Also see:
2007 Yamaha R1 - stupendous!
The Japanese-maret-only Yamaha XJR1300
Yamaha RD500LC - racer cool for the street

Riding Impression: Rizla Suzuki GSV-R MotoGP bike

Suzuki's 990cc, 240 horsepower MotoGP bike. It'll wheelie even in sixth gear

Andy Ibbott is a UK-based motorcycle journalist and the author of Performance Riding Techniques, a book on riding skills for the racetrack. He’s also a Director at the very famous California Superbike School.

Ibbott recently got to ride John Hopkins' 2006 Rizla Suzuki GSV-R MotoGP bike at Valencia. And here’s what he had to say about the machine: “I did manage to get the bike to the throttle stop twice in my five laps on the way out of a corner and the sheer acceleration is awesome. I just managed to lift the front wheel along the long straight finish at Valencia. Exiting the final turn it would paw the air in second, third, fourth, fifth and it even felt like it lifted a little in sixth gear, at 280km/h. Excellent!”

Get the full report here.

Also see:
The 2007 Honda RC212V
The 2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000
The five racing bikes we love
Motorcycle racing in the 1980s and 90s

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ex-works MV Agusta 500cc Four coming up for auction!

In the 1960s and the 1970s, these four-cylinder, 500cc MV Agusta racers were unbeatable. Today, you can buy one for US$400,000...

Between 1958 and 1974, MV Agusta won seventeen motorcycle grand prix road racing world championships in the 500cc class. They also won nine world championships in the 350cc, two in the 250cc and five in the 125cc classes. Those old MV Agusta racing bikes are some of the most significant and the most desirable machines ever to come out of Italy. Today, most surviving examples are either in private collections or in museums. And no matter how much money you may have, it would probably be extremely difficult for you to buy one, since these bikes rarely – if ever – come up for sale.

Which is why if you’re a super-rich collector of vintage and classic racebikes, this should interest you. At the International Classic MotorCycle Show, in Stafford, in the UK, on the 29th of April 2007, Bonhams would be auctioning an ex-works MV Agusta 500. This bike is an example of the famous four-cylinder 'fire engines' which notched up 139 victories and 17 world championships in 500cc GP racing, for MV Agusta. Yeah, it’s a prime slice of motorcycle racing history that’s up for sale!

The bike was originally raced by John Surtees himself and the present owner, who acquired the bike in 1996, has maintained in perfect condition. The bike has regularly been taken out for events like the Isle of Man TT Parade, Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival Meetings, and the Ulster Grand Prix. If you buy it, you can actually ride it home – just be prepared to pay something in the region of US$400,000.

15-time world champion, Giacomo Agostini won both the 350cc and the 500cc world championships between 1968 and 1972, riding MV Agusta machines

Also see:
MV Agusta updates for 2007
MV Agusta F41000 sets Bonneville land speed record
Special Edition MV Agusta Brutale 910R Italia

Thursday, December 07, 2006

More details on the 2007 Honda RC212V

800cc, 150kg weight and 200+ horsepower. The Honda RC212V MotoGP bike is likely to be a fearsome machine, and with Dani Pedrosa riding it... watch out Rossi!

HRC’s Large Project Leader for the RC212V, Takanori Okuma san recently spoke at length about Honda’s 800cc MotoGP machine for 2007. He says, 'When we started development of the 800cc machine, we gave top priority to the pursuit of excellent handling and drivability. For the newly-reduced engine capacity of 800cc, we decided a V4 was the most efficient layout. Rather than focusing solely on top end power, we also concentrated on producing good power delivery characteristics, which can have a significant effect on lap times. Using enhanced control systems, the result is an engine with good drivability in the low and mid ranges, and excellent power under acceleration when the engine is at the top of its range.'

Moving on to speak about the RC212V’s chassis development, Okuma san said, 'We further enhanced the mass concentration package developed for the RC211V, to improve the agility and quick handling characteristics of the bike. The outward appearance is aggressive and appropriately innovative for a new generation of bike, affording both drivability and aerodynamic efficiency. We will continue to evolve the bike before the season opener and throughout next season.'

Also see:
The mighty six-cylinder Honda CBX 1000
2007 Honda CBR600RR
The Honda RVT1000 RC51 SP2
The very memorable Honda RC30 and RC45
The oval-piston Honda NR750

Dani Pedrosa testing the Honda RC212V at the Motegi circuit in Japan. And he's very, very, very fast...!

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

Random Ramblings