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…