Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Kentucky Kid: "I'm not giving up by any means!"

It's not over until it's over...

It seems Nicky ‘The Kentucky Kid’ Hayden can do no right. Despite winning the 2006 MotoGP crown, Hayden doesn’t seem to have much support from MotoGP fans (except for a select band of people in the US…), and even HRC themselves seem to favour Dani Pedrosa over the Kentucky Kid!

Nicky Hayden recently spoke to American bike magazine Cycle World, where he admitted that he hasn't had a very good start to the 2007 season, and that “I feel bad for my team and my family who stand behind me, and my friends and fans who root for me.”

It also seems that Hayden still isn’t very comfortable with this year’s 800cc MotoGP bikes, saying that “I'm still trying to gain understanding about how to get the most out of the 800. They don't have the power to get in deep, square off corners and fire it out. You really have to keep the bike rolling through corners – high corner speed is a must. I wish it had some more grunt off the bottom to get me out of the corners, but right now my Honda is tuned to get the most top-end power out of it.”

Still, don’t count the Kentucky Kid out just yet. As he says, “I've been down before with circumstances looking grim and came back. It's a long season with only two races down, and 16 more to go. Anything can happen. I'm not giving up by any means.” Bravo!

See the full interview on the Cycle World website here.

Also see:
2007 Repsol-replica Honda FireBlade
Nicky Hayden: Watch out!
Shutting off? You're not winning then...
Harley Davidson Nightster rumbles out!

Game on: MotoGP '07 for PlayStation

PS owners, start your engines...

A leading developer of videogames, Capcom have announced that they have secured the rights to publish videogames based on MotoGP, for the Sony PlayStation. The first game to be released under this agreement will be MotoGP ’07 (working title), for the PlayStation 2, and it’ll be out in the next 3 – 4 months. Game on!

Also see:
Top fuel motorcycles: A lesson in acceleration!
The five racing bikes we love!
Segway transporters: Is this how we're all going to ride in 10 years from now...?
Bombardier Embrio: One-wheeled wonder!

Monday, April 16, 2007

World Endurance Championship teams prepare for Le Mans

The 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours race will take place on the 21st of April

The 30th running of the 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans, on the 21st of this month, will mark the start of the 2007 Endurance FIM World Championship. With Suzuki Endurance Racing, Yamaha GMT94, Kawasaki France, Yamaha Austria Racing, and National Motos being the top billed teams, it’s Suzuki GSX-R1000 vs Yamaha R1 vs Kawasaki ZX-10R vs Honda CBR1000RR.

Official testing begins on Thursday, the 19th of April, while the race itself starts at three in the afternoon on the 21st. More details at the official website here.

Also see:
July 18: Support the 'Ride to Work' day
It's coming: 2007 Cannonball Bike Run!
100th IoM: Suzuki's limited-edition GSX-Rs
The mighty Honda NSR500

Libero Liberati: World champ, half a century ago…

Libero Liberati aboard his 500cc Gilera grand prix racer

While Valentino Rossi prepares for the Turkish MotoGP, which is just one week away now, another Italian was racing and winning in the 500cc class, fifty years ago. We don’t suppose too many people remember him now, but Libero Liberati was the 500cc world champ half a century ago, back in 1957.

Liberati, who was born in Terni, Italy, went racing in the 500cc class with Moto Guzzi in 1950, and later moved to Gilera. Winning four GPs in 1957 aboard his Gilera, Liberati won the world championship, but his season ended in acrimony due to a dispute with the company.

An advert for some Gilera 125, probably from the 1950s. Ahem.. :-)

Gilera left the motorcycle GP racing scene after the end of the 1957 season, though Liberati went on to race in the 250cc class in 1959 with Moto Morini. His last race win came at the 250cc West German GP that year.

Sadly, Libero Liberati, 1957 500cc world champion, passed away in a high-speed road accident in 1962.

Also see:
"I'm not giving up!" - Nicky Hayden, 2006 MotoGP world champ fights back
Marco Lucchinelli - 1981 500cc motorcycle GP racing world champ
The future's bright, the future's Benelli?
Bring the bling: Roaring Toyz Kawasaki ZZR1400

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Trial without error: Dougie Lampkin

The MotoGP crowd probably can't do this. Lampkin can...

While Valentino Rossi is the best man for hurling 220-horsepower MotoGP bikes down twisty circuits at 300km/h, when it comes to riding motorcycles over seemingly impossible terrain, it’s 31-year-old British rider Dougie Lampkin who’s on top. Lampkin, who now lives on the Isle of Man, is possibly the best Trials rider ever, and has no less than twelve world championship titles to his name. He started off in Trials in 1991, and shows no signs of slowing down today.

What this 250cc, single-cylinder Montesa can do with Lampkin on board, simply defies belief

Lampkin rides for Team Montesa–HRC, and his bike is a four-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC, single-cylinder, 250cc Montesa Cota 4RT. This Trials-special motorcycle has an aluminum twin-spar chassis, 5-speed gearbox, a computer-controlled digital ignition system, and PGM-FI electronic fuel injection. There’s a 39mm Showa cartridge-type telescopic fork at the front, with 22-step adjustable compression and 20-step rebound damping. Rear suspension is Showa single damper ‘Pro-Link’ with stepless compression and 12-step rebound damping adjustment. The bike weighs 73kg dry.

Watch this video to see what Mr Lampkin is capable of doing on his bike!

Also see:
Libero Liberati: 500cc motorcycle GP racing world champ in 1957!
Kenny Roberts to build Fireblade-based sportsbike
The 2007 Cannonball Bike Run
Can you learn to live without bikes?

Friday, April 13, 2007

KTM 3B7801X Bikini Racing Flower R busts out!

Here's one woman who likes KTMs. Which one? Find out below... :-))

We are big KTM fans here at Faster and Faster. KTM motorcycles, most certainly, rock. And it's not just wheelies, stoppies, and other testosterone-fuelled fun - KTM also have a lesser-known side that's more caring, sensitive and female-friendly. Don't believe us? Have a look at the KTM below, then. It's the 3B7801X Bikini Racing Flower R, part of the official KTM catalog. And the company insists that we tell you that the pic has been shot by one Mitterbauer H. Never a dull moment, eh...

The KTM 3B7801X Bikini Racing Flower R. Get one for your girlfriend now!

Also see:
Dannii Minogue prefers the Yamaha Fazer
A woman's wisdom: What your bike says about you!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

MV Agusta announce partnership with JeanRichard

From left: Giovanni Castiglioni (MD, MV Agusta) with Massimo Macaluso (VP, JeanRichard)

MV Agusta will now partner with Swiss watch manufacturer JeanRichard. The first JeanRichard watch series with MV Agusta branding will be introduced at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, which will be held in Geneva between the 16th and the 21st of April 2007. And no, MV Agusta bikes will not be fitted with JeanRichard watches, so even if you buy an F4 CC, you'll still have to buy your own watch. Damn!

Also see:
MV Agusta F4 CC: God's own bike
MV Agusta F4R 312: The world's fastest production bike
MV Agusta F4 Senna: God's other bike
Moto Corse special edition MV Agusta F4

2007 World Stunt Riding Championship to be held in Hungary

Think you can do this? Get down to Kaposvar then...

For motorcycle stunt riders, Kaposvar, Hungary is going to be the place to be on the 19th of May, because that's where the 2007 World Stunt Riding Championship is happening. If you're good - really, really good - at wheelies, stoppies, burnouts and other forms of extreme stunt riding, book your tickets to Kaposvar now. Rider registration is on the 18th, while the main event starts at nine in the morning on the 19th.

For rules, regulations and entry form, go to the official website here

Also see:
July 18: 2007 Ride To Work Day!
Track riding for newbies: Ron Haslam tells you how
The mighty HRC Honda NSR500
Troy Lee's Canyon Chaser!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Marco Lucchinelli: The ‘Crazy Horse’

Marco Lucchinelli, 1981 500cc motorcycle GP racing world champ!

Ask motorcycle GP racing fans to name some big names from the 1980s and you may get Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Gardner, Wayne Rainey, Randy Mamola and Kevin Schwantz. What you probably won’t get is Marco Lucchinelli, the man whom they used to call the Crazy Horse, and who won the 1981 500cc motorcycle GP world championship.

Born in 1954 in Bolano, Italy, Lucchinelli began his roadracing career in 1975 on a Laverda. But though he started with endurance racing, Lucchinelli moved to 500cc GP racing in 1976, with Suzuki. His wild, devil-may-care riding style earned him the nickname of Crazy Horse, and Mr Horse crashed hard, and often.

Lucchinelli moved from Suzuki to Yamaha for the 1977 season, but returned to Suzuki in 1978, which was also the year when he won his very first 500cc GP – at the Nürburgring, in Germany.

Riding a Roberto Gallina backed Suzuki in 1981, Lucchinelli took five 500cc GP wins and took his first and only world championship. Unfortunately for him though, it would all be downhill from here, and though he raced with Honda in 1982 and 83, and Cagiva in 1984 and 85, Lucchinelli never found his earlier race-winning form again.

Lucchinelli tried to go car racing in 1986, driving a Lola-Ford in the Formula 3000 series, and joined the Ducati Superbikes team in 1988, ultimately moving on to assume the role of team manager there – a position which he held for some years.

The Italian raced with the Honda team in 1982 and 83, but with little success

At the end of the day, Lucchinelli only won a total of six 500cc GP races ever, and one 500cc world championship. With his long hair, earrings, multiple divorces, the propensity to rebel against everyone and everything, controversies galore, and popularity with women everywhere, Marco Lucchinelli lived a rock-star’s life. They don’t make motorcycle racers like him anymore.

Marco Lucchinelli today. Once a world champ, always a world champ!

Other great racers from the past:
John Surtees: The only man ever to win motorcycle GP and F1 world championships!
"Barry Sheene was a cheeky sod!", says Stephanie...
Freddie Spencer: The Sultan of Slide
Wayne Gardner: The Wild One!
Wayne Rainey: Mr Consistency
Kevin Schwantz: The Cowboy from Texas

In this rare video from 1988, Marco Lucchinelli tests the legendary Ducati 851 Tricolore!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rapom V8: 1,000bhp supercharged monster-bike

Nick Argyle, with the bike he's made - the Rapom V8

For most people, Hayabusas and ZZR1400s are more or less sufficiently powerful. Not for the UK-based Nick Argyle though, who probably thinks normally-aspirated, 1400cc, 190bhp inline-fours are for pansies. Which is why he’s built his own motorcycle – powered by a supercharged, 8.2-litre V8 taken off a monster truck.

It'll do zero to 100km/h in less than 3 seconds...

Called the Rapom V8, Argyle’s bike runs on pure alcohol and packs more than 1,000 horsepower. It weighs more than 500kg, but even then, power-to-weight ratio is twice that of, say, a GSX-R1000 or ZX-10R. Which is why if you ever meet Mr Argyle at a stoplight, you probably shouldn't try to race him down the street - the Rapom goes from zero to 100km/h in less than three seconds, and does the quarter-mile in less than seven seconds. Madness…

Some other really, really fast bikes:
Top fuel motorcycles: A lesson in acceleration!
KTM Nitroduke: The world's fastest KTM!
Turbo Hayabusa sets new streetbike speed record!
"GSX-Rs are for moped riders!"
Acabion GTBO 70: The fastest bike in the world!
KillaCycle: The world's quickest electric bike!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Kenny Roberts to build Fireblade-based superbike

Would you buy a Fireblade from this man?

Three-time 500cc motorcycle GP racing world champ, Kenny Roberts doesn’t believe in slowing down. In January this year, Kenny had announced his new venture, KR Tuned, which is all about high-end, high-performance exhaust systems and chassis components for sportsbikes.

Now, from components, Kenny’s moving to building complete motorcycles. He plans to build 50 units of his own ‘trackday special’ superbike, using Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade engines. The engines will be supplied by Honda, but the chassis, bodywork and exhausts will come from Kenny’s own outfit.

Expect a 180 horsepower machine that goes very hard and handles extremely well. Also expect to pay a lot – you’ll need about US$50,000 to get your hands on one of King Kenny’s finest. Could be worth it though…

Update (6th Sep., 2007): 2008 Honda Fireblade revealed!

Also see:
NRV588: Norton Rotary racer lives again!
Down memory lane: Yamaha RD500LC
Faster and Faster: The pros tell you how!
Two-stroke glory: Suzuki RGV250

New developments at Moto Morini

The Moto Morini MM3 is indeed going into production, though it may be detuned from 140 to 125bhp...

Morini Franco Motori, who previously owned a 50 percent stake in Moto Morini, has now purchased the remaining 50 percent from the Berti family, and is now the sole owner of Moto Morini.

The company has decided to put the MM3 ‘adventure bike’ (first show in Milan last year) into production, but with a few changes from the initial prototype. Some of the electronics (the show bike had traction control, ABS and fly-by-wire throttle) will not make to production, there will be some changes in the bodywork and the engine will go down from around 140bhp to 125bhp, in the interests of reliability.

The Moto Morini MM3 will essentially compete against bikes like the new Triumph Tiger 1050, the Ducati Multistrada 1100 and perhaps the KTM 950 Supermoto, and will be priced accordingly. But that’s not all – Moto Morini are also expected to start work on a full-blown 1200cc superbike which would go head to against the Ducati 1098, Aprilia RSV-R and other litre-class machines from Europe and Japan. We wish you all the best, Mr Motori.

Also see:
Benelli Tre-K 1130 Amazonas
Significant firsts in motorcycling!
Fischer MRX 650 riding impression
American Muscle: Shelby & Rucker's 150bhp chopper

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The future’s bright, the future’s Benelli?

Fancy having a turbo'd version of this? Benelli may be working on one right now...

With development fuelled by Chinese money, Qianjiang-owned Benelli could be on to big things in the near future. The historic Italian marque, which built the six-cylinder Benelli Sei sportsbike in the 1970s and 80s, is now again working on a 1,000cc V6 superbike. The new machine is likely to have more than 200 horsepower on tap and Benelli may race this bike in World Superbikes in 2009.

The 750 Due, which Benelli showed at the Intermot last year, is due to be launched soon and Benelli are also working on a 600cc inline-four sportsbike, as well as a new 900cc, three-cylinder Tre-K dual-sport machine (the existing 1130 Tre-K will still remain in the lineup). And finally, Benelli are said to be developing a turbocharged TNT for the power-crazed, so Ducati, Bimota and MV Agusta had better watch out!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Battery Assault: KillaCycle is now the world’s quickest electric motorcycle

No nitrous here, just battery power!

A123Systems’ KillaCycle is now officially the world's quickest electric motorcycle, and with an elapsed time (ET) of 8.16 seconds at 249.25km/h, the official electric-vehicle world record holder in the quarter-mile (400m) drag.

The KillaCycle is powered by Nanophosphate cells – automotive class Lithium-Ion batteries that make lots of power! In fact, this A123Systems battery pack delivers the equivalent of more than 350 horsepower to the bike’s rear wheel, and the machine can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in less than 1.5 seconds.

Visit the KillaCycle website for more details.

Here's a video of the KillaCycle in action

Also see:
London Land Speed Record on a ZZR1400
Turbo Hayabusa sets new streetbike speed record
Kawasaki 1400GTR: Insanity Express!
2007 Ducati Sport Classics go Biposto

Friday, April 06, 2007

Le Mans: BMW Motorrad to return to endurance racing

The Le Mans 24 Hours on one of these? Yes!

After a half-century absence from top-level roadracing, BMW are ready to go back to the grid – at the 2007 24 Heures Moto at Le Mans, on the 21st of this month, a BMW Motorrad factory team will also be present alongside the usual suspects…

Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport will be entering the first Endurance World Championship race of the season with the HP2 Sport, a machine based on the BMW R1200S, which means they’ll be participating in the Open Class. And after Le Mans, Team BMW will also participate in the 24-hour races in Barcelona (7th/8th July), Oschersleben (11th/12th August) and Magny Cours (Bol d'Or, 15th/16th September).

For those who want BMW's Le Mans racer in their garage, BMW are also working on the production version of their racebike, which should be ready by the end of this year and which will probably go on sale in early-2008. Expect lots of carbonfibre and titanium (bringing wet weight down to 200kg) and around 130 horsepower from the twin-cylinder engine.

The rumour mill also says (agreeing with what we said back in September last year...) they are developing an all-new machine that will take on litre-class Japanese superbikes. BMW may launch this new bike by the end of this year, and they may race it in World Superbikes in 2009. The new bike is expected to have a four-cylinder engine, and a full range of cutting-edge electronics including traction control.

If you’re a BMW traditionalist and all this talk of racing and new high-performance bikes worries you, you actually have nothing to fear. BMW are also, supposedly, working on an all-new LT tourer which may be powered by an 1800cc straight-six! Don’t expect this machine to come out before 2010 though…

Also see:
Versatile: 2007 BMW G650 Xmoto series
Awesome: 2007 BMW HP2 Megamoto!
Practical: 2007 BMW K1200R Sport
Turbocharged: MAB BMW K1200R

It's coming: The Cannonball Bike Run!

All this and much, much more at the Cannonball Bike Run...

Fast bikes, high speeds, hot chicks and booze-fuelled partying. Sounds good? Then you should look at signing up for the next Cannonball Bike Run (CBR). The CBR was started in Europe in 2005 and with five of these events planned for this year, it sure is going places!

If you live in the US, the American CBR is going to take place between the 13th and the 17th of September. And the event is titled ‘Coming to America: 5 Days of Mayhem,’ so you can probably imagine all the wonderful debauchery that’s going to be a part of it.

Here's a promo video - see what it's like being on the CBR

While the exact route is still a secret (to stop the coppers from spoiling all the fun of course…), the American CBR will start in LA and wind up in Las Vegas. That’s more than 3,000km of riding motorcycles on some of the best roads in the US. Entry fee is US$2,195 per bike and rider, but the package includes a bit of VIP treatment – the launch party in LA, daily breakfasts and dinners, first class hotel accommodations and support vehicles for your luggage etc.

Three European CBRs are also scheduled to take place in 2007. The first is CBR Le Mans (April 20 – 22), which is billed as ‘The ultimate weekend of red-hot riding, partying, and motorsport action.’ Second is CBR MotoGP (June 29 – July 1), and the third is CBR Europe (August 21 – 27). And yeah, the winners of the European legs of the CBR will be flown to the US, where they’ll be pitched against the Americans.

Go to the CBR website for more details on how you can be a part of the action!

Also see:
The Great Indian Autorickshaw Challenge!
1990s: The first liquid-cooled GSX-R!
Top Fuel motorcycles: A lesson in acceleration!
Gimme Five: The strangest motorcycles ever!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Memorable: Laverda 750 Formula S

Laverda 750 Formula S Laverda 750 Formula S
Laverda 750 Formula S Laverda 750 Formula S
Can't beat the Italians on style...

Properly gorgeous, eh? Indeed, the Laverda 750 Formula S, from the late-1990s, was quite something in its day. Its 747cc parallel twin made 95 horsepower at 9200rpm, the aluminum beam frame was one developed by chassis specialist Nico Bakker, the gearbox was a six-speed unit, and with its Termignoni exhausts, the 750 Formula S made all the right noises when opened up. And while it won’t keep up with a modern-day GSX-R, the 750 Formula S, with a dry weight of 189kg, could hit a top speed of around 220km/h.

Moto Laverda was actually set up back in the late-1940s, and their small-capacity bikes were successfully raced against competition from the likes of BMW, Zundapp and Husqvarna. And in 1972, with the debut of their 750 SF, Laverda made their first serious mark on the larger-capacity sportsbike scene. With their solid engineering, reliable parallel twin engines, and stable handling, 750 SFs were something of a hit with racers everywhere.

The 750 SFs ultimately evolved into 750 SFCs (Super Freni Competizione) and came with disc brakes, cast magnesium wheels, and other high-spec bits. These orange-painted racers earned their glory at endurance races like the Bol D'Or, Le Mans, and the Montjuic 24 Hours.

By 1973, Laverda had graduated to three-cylinder engines, with the debut of their first 1000cc bike. And in 1982 came the now-legendary Laverda Jota 1000 triple, which was a performance motorcycling icon of its time. However, with the advent of cheaper, more powerful and often more reliable Japanese machines, the early-1980s also marked the decline of Laverda. With sales slowing down and revenues drying up, the company had to shut shop in 1985.

Like some other European motorcycle companies, Laverda went through some ill-fated resurrection attempts. The company was bought by Francesco Tognon in 1993 (the 750 Formula S was developed and launched under his ownership…), and sold to Aprilia in the year 2000. For some time, Laverda had to suffer the ignominy of selling cheap, re-branded scooters sourced from China. Later, in 2003, when Piaggio bought Aprilia, they chose to shut down the brand completely, and that’s the way it remains today – dead.

Piaggio say they are ready to sell the Laverda name to a suitable investor, so if you’re extremely rich and if you’ve always dreamt of starting your very own Italian motorcycle company…

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bring the Bling: Roaring Toyz Kawasaki ZZR1400

If you need a 300bhp paintjob to go with your 200bhp engine, Roaring Toyz is the place to go...

Bored with your 200bhp, 320km/h sportsbike? Take it to US-based customs builders, Roaring Toyz, and while they may not do much for speed or handling, they sure will make your bike stand out.

If billet accessories, chromed wheels, massive tyres, extended (and chromed swingarms), lowered suspension, and eye-searing paintjobs are your scene, Roaring Toyz will make you very happy indeed. Visit their website for more details.

Also see:
Video: ZZR1400 toasts Hayabusa!
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R: The greatest sport-tourer ever?
The sharpest tool: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gibbs Quadski: Baywatch…

This is the Gibbs Quadski. Can be ridden on land or water. No, really...

Alan Gibbs founded Gibbs Technologies in New Zealand in 1996, and if the Quadski is anything to go by, Mr Gibbs believes in having a bit of fun. After all, the company’s website says that Gibbs are ‘the world’s only High Speed Amphibian (HSA) technology specialists.’

The Quadski is a high-speed, amphibian, all-terrain-vehicle that can travel at speeds of up to 72km/h on land and on water, and converts from ATV to boat at the mere press of a button. Says Mr Gibbs, ‘The Quadski is both exciting and practical, with a multitude of uses.’ But of course…

Also see:
The Quadzilla: 2007 GG Quad
Snell vs ECE 22-05: Which helmet is safer?
Ducati 999-powered Fiat 500!
Bombardier Embrio: One-wheeled wonder!

Street Triple: Triumph's new naked coming soon

The 675cc Triumph Street Triple could look like this...

Last month, we had reported on Triumph’s new streetfighter, which would be powered by the Daytona 675’s three-cylinder engine. Well, Italian mag Motociclismo says work on this new naked – to be called the Triumph Street Triple – is almost complete, and the bike is expected to come out by July this year.

The Street Triple will be powered by a re-tuned version of the Daytona’s 675cc engine, and is expected to be priced competitively against Japanese 600cc unfaired machinery. Should be another winner for Triumph!

Also see:
2007 Triumph Tiger
2007 Aprilia Tuono R Factory
Turbo Hayabusa sets new speed record!
Insanity Express: Kawasaki 1400GTR
Hit Single: 2007 KTM 690SM

Down Memory Lane: Bimota YB11

The 1990s Bimota YB11. Sweet...

Some time ago, we’d written about ‘The Greatest 11s,’ where we spoke about the Suzuki GSX-R1100 and the Kawasaki ZZR1100. Well, we forgot to include one. The Bimota YB11, which, despite the 11 in its name, doesn’t have an 1100cc engine.

Launched in the late-1990s, the Bimota YB11 was fitted with a DOHC, 20-valve, 1000cc inline-four, taken from the mighty Yamaha YZF1000 Thunderace. This engine was tweaked by Bimota, and made 148 horsepower at 10,200rpm. Top speed was in the region of 275km/h.

The YB11 was beautifully styled, had racebike-extreme ergonomics, stiff Paioli suspension, Brembo brakes and a significant front-end weight bias. Dry weight was 183kg. Brand-new, the bike cost US$30,000 which was quite a bit for the late-1990s (of course, it’s quite a bit even now…!), but with its expensive, high-spec components, powerful engine, superb handling and gorgeous styling, perhaps the price was justified. At least for rich Bimota enthusiasts…

Go straight to the 7-minute mark in this video and see what Top Gear had to say about the Bimota YB11...

Friday, March 30, 2007

Track Riding for Newbies – Ron Haslam tells you how

That's 'Rocket' Ron Haslam, on a Honda NS500. The ex-GP racer can teach you a thing or two about going very, very fast on a motorcycle...
Rocket Ron Haslam Rocket Ron Haslam Rocket Ron Haslam

In this month’s issue of British magazine, BIKE, Ron ‘Rocket’ Haslam (500cc GP racer in the 1980s and 1990s) has written a brilliant article on ‘track riding for novices.’ It’s an extremely useful article because it takes a quick, succinct look at the mistakes that novices are likely to make, and suggests suitable remedies.

You’ll have to buy a copy of the magazine for the full story (and it really is a superb issue – the Honda VFR800 vs BMW F800ST, and Ducati 1098 vs Ducati 916 stories are very interesting…), but here’s a brief summary of some of Rocket Ron’s wisdom:

1. Use every inch of the track
For track novices, more conditioned to riding on the road and expecting traffic coming the other way, the most common failing is not using the full width of the track. So adjust your thinking for the track – there’s nothing coming around the other way. Use the full width of the track – go from kerb to apex to kerb – get a feel for racing lines.

2. Ignore everything behind you
Don’t worry about being slower than other riders and/or being overtaken by them. Don’t worry about what’s happening behind you – focus fully on what’s ahead. Concentrate!

3. Sort your riding position
Don’t be too stiff or too upright, and don’t be desperate to hang off too much – getting your knee down is not important. Avoid locking your arms, and try to relax. Your first movements for a corner should be with your upper body – make sure your inside arm is bent more than your outside arm. This will bring your head down, and get your knee out. It’ll also get your weight forward and help you through the corner.

4. Brake hard!
You rarely get to use your bike’s full braking potential on the road, but braking late and braking hard are important for going faster on the track. So practice braking hard in a straight line and aim at coming to a stop in shorter and shorter distances. Get used to how the weight transfer feels, under very hard braking. On the track, this will help minimize or eliminate the time you spend ‘coasting,’ where you’re neither hard on the brakes, nor twisting the throttle.

5. Use the engine
Too many riders change up too early, never getting their bike into the fat of its powerband. They also carry too high a gear through turns. To fix this, try riding with fewer gears for some time – perhaps only the first three. You’ll get used to hearing the bike at the rev-limiter, and to how the bike feels when revved higher in lower gears. You’ll learn to use the full rev-range of your bike’s engine and change up at the right time.

Like what you just read? Buy the March issue of BIKE for the full story. You’ll also get pointers from stunt-rider Martin Child, and advanced riding instructor, Simon Weir.

Visit Ron Haslam’s racing school website here

Ron's son, Leon Haslam ponders the mysteries of motorcycle racing...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

V-Roehr 1130: All-American superbike coming soon

No, not an Italian superbike. It's the all-American V-Roehr 1130

Some time ago, we had reported on the Fischer MRX which was being touted as the first American sportsbike. Now we have Roehr Motorcycles’ V-Roehr 1130, which the company says is ‘a new generation of American motorcycle.’

Shades of the erstwhile Ducati 999...?

For Roehr Motorcycles, the design goal was to produce the fastest, most powerful, and finest handling machine, using the best American engine available. The result is the V-Roehr 1130. It’s powered by a 1130cc, DOHC, v-twin (provided by Harley-Davidson) that makes 120 horsepower. And for those who want to take on R1s and GSX-Rs, Roehr say there’ll be engine kits available that boost power all the way up to 180bhp.

With an engine kit, it'll make 180 horsepower, so don't smirk just yet

The bike has a five-speed transmission, and in keeping with the sporty nature of the machine, final drive is by chain. The beam frame chassis is made of Chrome-Moly steel and aluminum composite, and is said to light and stiff. The bike is fitted with suspension components from Ohlins, brakes are by Brembo, wheels from Marchesini, and the bodywork is made of carbonfibre.

The bike will be priced at US$40,000 and production of the first 50 units is scheduled to begin in 2008. Visit the company website for more details.

Also see:
Fischer MRX: Riding impression
Shelby & Rucker's 150bhp chopper!
Team Cristofolini's 112bhp scooter!
Monowheeling in Michigan...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Learning to live without bikes (just for a day…)

While we definitely cannot imagine a life without fast bikes, if we had to make do without our ZX-10R for a day or two, we suppose we’d have to settle for one of these things…

Cathay Pacific is supposed to have some of the best first class seats in the world

Fly first class!

These days, almost regardless of which airlines you choose, you can't lose if you're flying first class. Helicopter or limo ride to get to the airport, gourmet grub served by charming, good-looking women, and free-flowing champagne. Also, individual TV screens with a choice of music and movies, and lush seats that first give you a massage and then convert to a full-flat bed (silk pajamas are provided…).

The price for such indulgence? Hmm…, something like a round-trip New York to Hong Kong first class ticket would cost about US$15-17,000. Which is a bargain really, if you consider the fact that a Bimota SB8K Santamonica costs close to US$50,000 and they don't even give you a free pair of silk pajamas to go with that.

This site will let you find out which airline serves the best wines and who employs the best looking air-hostesses.

The Ferrari F355 - one of the best-looking Ferraris ever!

Experience an Italian V8

Come on, driving a car can't be that bad. And it's just for one day, remember? Deciding on a car is tricky though - we're tempted by assorted Honda Civic Type Rs, Mitsubishi Evos, Subaru Imprezas, Nissan Skyline GT-Rs, Pagani Zondas, Aston Martins, Lamborghinis and Porsches. But at the end of the day, it has to be a Ferrari.

And not just any Ferrari either. For us, it has to be a late-1990s, bright yellow (or red) 355 F1 Berlinetta, the last really beautiful car Ferrari made. Sure, a new F430 will accelerate harder, hit a higher top speed and handle better, but the F355's utterly and completely gorgeous styling makes it THE Ferrari to have.

With 380 horsepower from its 3.5-litre V8, the 355 accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and is capable of doing 270km/h, which should be enough for most people. But of course, driving a 355 is not just about performance - it's the noise, the spectacle, the drama and the sheer joy that comes from driving one of the most beautiful Italian supercars ever made.

Buying one is still expensive - a well-maintained 355 will cost around US$80,000. But try renting one for a day, and you'll never forget the experience. Otherwise, go here to download some Ferrari wallpaper.

The Yamaha Raptor 700R in full-on action

Get off the road on a Quad

The very cool-looking Yamaha Raptor 700R SE got the ATV Illustrated magazine's 'Sport ATV of the Year' award last year and for good reason. It's fitted with a single-cylinder, four-valve, 686cc fuel-injected engine and while Yamaha have not quoted any power figures, an independent report says this is their 'most powerful sport ATV ever, with big torque right off idle, transitioning into a fat midrange and monstrous top end.'

The Raptor 700R also gets high-spec suspension, with separate high- and low-speed compression damping adjustability. The stiff, lightweight chassis is made of steel and aluminum, and ergonomics are good enough to allow one full day of non-stop hard riding.

You can get your hands on one of these machines for about US$7,700. A Yamaha R6 costs almost twice as much, and unlike the Raptor, the R6 doesn't even have a reverse gear.

The maddest, fastest, wildest trike on earth - the Campagna T-Rex!

Go sideways on a trike

Trikes can't be beat for a bit of weird, off-kilter thrashing around. And while the Piaggio MP3, Gilera Fuoco 500, Brudeli 625L, Can-Am Spyder and Volkswagen GX3 are all very cool, the big daddy of 'em all has to be the Campagna T-Rex.

The Rex packs a 152 horsepower inline-four from the Kawasaki ZZR1200, accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds and is capable of hitting a top speed of 240km/h. Plus, if you're Fifth Gear's Tiff Needell, you can get it more sideways than some WRC drivers manage in their 4WD rally cars.

At US$50,000 the T-Rex is more than twice as expensive as, say, a Kawasaki ZZR1400. But then, try going sideways on a ZZR1400…

With this Schwinn, you can pedal away into the sunset. Glory!

Power yourself down the street

The Schwinn Peloton LTD is one hell of a bike. It doesn't have a 180bhp engine - it doesn't have an engine in fact - but as long as you're prepared to provide the (pedal) power, the Schwinn rocks.

The Peloton LTD is fitted with a monocoque carbonfibre chassis and front fork, Shimano 10-speed gearbox, Truvativ Rouleur carbon crankset, Mavic Ksyrium wheels, Schwalbe Stelvio Evolution kevlar-bead tyres and other such impressive-sounding bits.

Acceleration depends on what you've had for breakfast, and top speed is a muscle-restricted 60km/h. (Since we've not ridden a bicycle for the last 20 years, that's a wild estimate…).

The Schwinn Peloton LTD costs US$3,999 which probably makes it a better option than a dull old Honda 125 commuter-special, which would cost the same. Sure, the Honda might be a bit faster going uphill, but it still wouldn't have the Peloton's carbon bits, so there.

Get one of these, and other road users will be afraid. Very afraid

Drive a truck, flatten other road users

For those days when you'd rather go over than around pedestrians, cyclists, and cars, a big, fat, American truck is hard to beat. Which is where the Dodge Ram 2500 comes in. For the piddly little sum of US$26,800 you get a 345-horsepower, 5.7-litre, HEMI V8 engine, and enough ground clearance to climb over most other road users.

You also get 4WD, 17-inch alloys, ABS, CD-player (with four speakers, no less!) and Vinyl seat-covers. Vinyl seat-covers, would you believe! What more could a man possibly ask for?

The Segway i2 Commuter. This is how we'll all travel someday

Commute to work on a Segway

The battery-powered Segway i2 Commuter is the shape of things to come. With its long-lasting lithium-ion batteries, and 'comfort mats' which the company claims 'alleviate fatigue and provide a smoother ride on longer journeys,' the i2 Commuter has to be your dream ride.

The i2 will do speeds of up to 20km/h, and will go up to 38km before you have to charge it again, but you can't weigh more than 118kg to be able to ride one…

Want to be one up on your neighbours? Get your very own hovercraft!

Lift off on a personal hovercraft

We didn't even know that there's actually something like a 'personal hovercraft,' but apparently there are many companies selling such things! We like Universal Hovercraft's 19XR Sport, which can carry up to six people, at speeds of up to 100km/h. This machine hovers at a height of 20cm above the ground, and range is 322km.

The 19XR Sport can traverse water of any depth, mud, grass, swamp, flat desert, ice and snow, which should come in handy. Its liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 135-horsepower engine is supposed to be extremely reliable, joystick-operated controls are simple, and the machine comes with its own GPS for easy navigation. Want to order one right away? Visit the company website for more details!

The R1 may not necessarily be Yamaha's sportiest machine. Meet the WaveRunner

Float your boat

While luxury yachts might be a bit boring, the Yamaha FX WaveRunner personal watercraft isn't. This boat is powered by Yamaha's MR-1 fuel-injected engine - a 1052cc, 160bhp, four-cylinder, four-stroke unit - which the company says 'delivers more power in a lighter package than any other full-size, four-stroke normally-aspirated watercraft in the industry.'

Flip this Yamaha while taking a corner too fast, and an electronic switch stops the engine and oil pumps immediately, protecting the motor from unwanted water ingestion. The hull is made of stiff, lightweight sheet molded compound (SMC) and the handling is said to be nimble. All this for a mere US$10,499 will make it a sweet deal. For some of us.

Maglev - the world's fastest train

Catch a train. This train!

The world's fastest train is not in Japan, Germany or France, but in… Shanghai, China! It's called the Maglev, and with a top speed of around 430km/h, it's the world's fastest, most high-tech, most futuristic passenger train in the world.

Maglev refers to 'magnetic levitation,' and powerful magnets lift the entire train about 10mm off the ground (there are no conventional 'tracks' here, just a 'guideway'…) before it flies off. In fact, magnets also provide propulsion and braking, and the Maglev's high speeds are partly due to very low levels of friction. Plus, the train is non-polluting and has very low noise levels.

The Maglev was put into operation at an investment of more than US$1.2 billion, and the Chinese government is unlikely to make much money on this project. But as a technology showcase, the Maglev rocks. You owe it to yourself to get to the Pudong International Airport, and take a ride on this train from the future.

Go here to know more about some very interesting train journeys.

After all the trains, planes and boats, this is what we want. An MV Agusta F4 CC

But what we'd still really want is…

…this! It's an MV Agusta F4 CC, CC being the initials of one Claudio Castiglioni, the man who owns MV Agusta. We think this bike is just mind-numbingly glorious. It's beyond words. It's beyond anything. And it's certainly way, way beyond the best trains, planes, cars, trucks, and boats in the world. Someday - some, day - we'll get our hands on one of these…

Random Ramblings