Saturday, May 19, 2007

Memorable: The mighty Münch Mammut TTS-E

In a brutish way, the 1970s Mammut still looks very, very cool...

The German-made Münch Mammut TTS-E was pretty much the Suzuki Hayabusa / Kawasaki ZZR1400 of the late-1960s / early-1970s. The first prototype Mammut was first shown in 1966, and with its across-the-frame four-cylinder engine, it was a revelation for its time.

100-horsepower, 1200cc, fuel-injected superbike in the 1970s? That'd be the Munch Mammut!

Created by German visionary engineer Friedl Münch, the first Mammut TTS was fitted with a 1085cc, four-cylinder, 55 horsepower engine sourced from NSU. Later, when Kawasaki released their Z1 in the early 1970s, Münch responded with the Mammut TTS-E. The TTS-E was fitted with an SOHC 1286cc inline-four, which made 100 horsepower at 7500rpm.

Each bike was customised according to individual buyers' preferences

The bike featured mechanical fuel injection (engineered by another German company, Kugelfiacher), had a four-speed gearbox and weighed in at about 340 kilos. Top speed was in the region of 225km/h, which is more than what most riders would want to do on the bike today, because the Mammut TTS-E only had drum brakes, front and rear.

Forget leathers, you'd look cool popping wheelies in a suit on the Mammut!

With no mass-market bikes in their lineup, and with the assault mounted by lighter, equally powerful and cheaper Japanese bikes, Münch was already in financial trouble by the early-1970s. The company declared bankruptcy in 1971, and then again in 1973.

The last Mammut - a 2000cc, 260 horsepower megabike that cost US$80,000 seven years ago

Friedl Münch sold the rights to his company, but struggled on with production for another few years. He even attempted a comeback a few years ago with 1800cc and 2000cc megabikes, and also experimented with turbocharging and supercharging. Münch’s last attempt at building a modern superbike was the Mammut 2000, which was fitted with a DOHC, 1998cc, fuel-injected inline-four, Öhlins suspension and carbonfibre fairing. With its Cosworth cylinder heads and Schwitzer turbocharger, the bike boasted of 260 horsepower, was capable of doing 250km/h, and was priced at US$80,000.

A video of the Munch Mammut 2000. Awesome!

Today, the mighty Mammut lives on in memories and museums. To read more about this very remarkable motorcycle, go here, here, here, here and here. Most of these pages are in German and French, but try using Google’s language translation tools here.

Cagiva Mito 500 will now be a 650, will be made in India!

The Mito's 916-inspired styling still looks pretty cool...

Back in December last year, we had reported on Cagiva’s plans of building the Mito 500 sportsbike, which would be fitted with a single-cylinder, 510cc engine sourced from Husqvarna. Well, Cagiva have changed their minds it seems. The Mito 500 will now be the Mito 650, and will be fitted with a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 650cc, 79bhp v-twin sourced from Korean motorcycle manufacturer Hyosung. (The same engine is also fitted to the American-made Fischer MRX.)

To keep costs down, the new Mito 650 will be built in India, by Pune-based two-wheeler manufacturer Kinetic, who also have tie-ups with Hyosung, SYM and Italjet. Though it’ll only be moderately powerful, The Mito 650’s Ducati 916-esque styling, light weight and low-ish price (we hope!) should make it an interesting proposition for some.

And for those who may be worried about a Hyosung engine powering the new Cagiva Mito, this video should allay your fears a bit...

Also see:
Memorable: The rotary-engined Suzuki RE-5
Nitroduke: The world's fastest KTM!
God's own bike: The MV Agusta F4 Senna
Your game's oval: The Honda NR750
The amazing 1980s Suzuki Katana GSX1000S
Hyosung TrendKiller and GT650X

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yet another comeback for Indian Motorcycles?

We don't really know much about these motorcycles, but that's probably an Indian Chief...

‘Want some grief? Buy an Indian Chief! Want some more? Buy an Indian Four!’ That was a limerick the Harley camp came up with in the 1930-40s, when the Indian / Harley-Davidson rivalry was at its peak. Of course, fans of Indian motorcycles came back with one of their own: ‘You'll never wear out, the Indian Scout, or its brother, the Indian Chief. They're built like rocks, to take hard knocks. It's the Harleys that cause the grief!’

Indian started operations in the year 1901, while Harley started off in 1903. The two companies fought on American turf right up till 1954, when Indian suspended operations. A statement released from the company at that time said that ‘The management of the Indian company has just completed a study of conditions adversely affecting motorcycle production in the United States. This has led to a decision to suspend assembly of complete motorcycles at Springfield during 1954.’

But that was not the end of it. Over the last few decades, there have been various attempts – some genuine, others misguided, and yet some others driven by sheer greed – to revive the Indian name. So much so that now any talk of reviving Indian motorcycles can hardly be taken seriously.

And yet, there’s a story on Motorcycle-USA which talks about the return of Indian motorcycles. ‘Expect to see the Indian Chief rolling down a roadway near you late in the Fall of 2007,’ says Stephen Julius, chairman of Indian Motorcycles. Wouldn’t reviving Indian be an arduous, uphill task? Doesn’t that faze Julius? He says, ‘I specialize in buying famous brand names that have had troubles in their past. The fact that it's had a troubled past doesn't concern me in the slightest.’

Does the world really need one more motorcycle manufacturer? Says Julius, ‘This is a brand that has tremendous equity, and there is clearly an opportunity for another American brand apart from Harley-Davidson. We would be delighted to have a very, very tiny share of what Harley has. We're not trying to go out there and compete with anyone. We are going to follow our own niche. We believe it's out there.’

To be honest, we don’t really believe the Indian name can make a comeback. In fact the way we look at it, the Indian Motorcycles name is not even relevant anymore. We wish people would let go, and let Indian motorcycles live on in the memories of those who rode them. But still, if you really wish to know more about Julius’ plans, read the full article at the Motorcycle-USA website here. And if you already want to book your 2008 Indian Chief, visit the Indian website here.

image host

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fight Machines: The gloves are off…

Er... it's from the land of beer and sausages

Custom-built bikes are a pretty regular feature on Faster and Faster, and the latest to join the list are Germany-based SP Fight Machines. Owner Phil Schubert started off as a car mechanic in the early1990s, but eventually got tired of cars and moved on to building motorcycles.

One thing led to another, and now his outfit – Fight Machines – seems to be building some pretty tough motorcycles. If you like the pics you see here, get more info on the Fight Machines website here.

It's a Buell. The rear tyre was specified by Darth Vader himself

A Triumph Speed Triple...

...and we can't identify this one!

Also see:
more cool customs!
The mighty Munch Mammut TTS-E
Striking trike: The Peraves Monotracer
Trial without error: Dougie Lampkin

The best loved naked in Italy: MV Agusta Brutale 910R

The MV Agusta Brutale 910R Italia: Hot, Italian and so naked...

Italian motorcycle magazine, Motociclismo has given their Motorcycle of the year 2007 (naked category) award to the MV Agusta Brutale 910R. The 910R took 24% votes as opposed to 4% for the Ducati Monster S4Rs, which came in second, and 3% for the Aprilia Shiver 750, which landed in third spot.

Claudio Castiglioni, President, MV Agusta said, ‘It is truly wonderful to see that Italian motorcyclists really appreciate and recognise the passion that Italian manufacturers put into developing and building superb, technically advanced machines. This type of recognition reinforces our image as manufacturers of beautiful, exclusive motorcycles.’

Sheer naked fun:
CR&S Vun: Single, naked, Italian…
Allen Millyard's 2300cc, V12 Kawasaki!
The amazing new Ducati Hypermotard
British is bigger, British is best!
MAB Power: Turbo'd BMW K1200R

Ducati CEO, Federico Minoli to leave the company soon

Ducati CEO, Federico Minoli (second from right) will leave the company on the 21st of this month...

Federico Minoli, CEO at Ducati, and the man responsible for bringing Ducati back on track, is all set to leave the Bologna-based company. Minoli says that ‘Ducati shareholders want someone who’s close to them’ to take charge, which is why he will have to move on. He will be leaving the company on Monday, the 21st of this month.

Ducati shareholders wanting Minoli replaced by someone else seems very weird, because Ducati have made significant advances under his brilliant leadership. Ducati produced a range of new bikes – the 1098, the Hypermotard, the Desmosedici RR, the Multistrada 1100 and the Sport Classic series – under Minoli’s direction, they’ve been doing well in MotoGP and World Superbikes, and things have never looked better for the company.

Minoli speaks about leaving Ducati

Federico Minoli was born in Gallarate, Italy, and apart from being a brilliant Business Head, he’s also an ardent motorcycle enthusiast – his blog was quite popular with Ducati fans. We’re sure he’ll be missed at Ducati, and the man who takes his place will certainly have a very tough act to follow. We wish Federico all the very best in whatever he chooses to do.

Alan Cathcart interviewed Minoli for Motorcyclist magazine some time ago.

Also see:
The absolutely awesome Ducati Desmosedici RR...!
Troll road: The 2007 Ducati Monster S4R
The 2007 Ducati Multistrada 1100
2007 Ducati SportClassic Biposto. Beautiful!
The amazing new Ducati Hypermotard goes into production
Doug Polen compares the Ducati 999 vs Ducati 1098

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Max Biaggi: Staying alive…

Max Biaggi: The Roman Emperor still has some racing left in him apparently. And the arrogance is still there too...!

While he was never a very popular man in MotoGP, somehow we miss Max Biaggi. Perhaps it’s because of the memories we have of watching him race in the 250cc class in the 1990s, where he was absolutely brilliant. Remember, he won four 250cc world titles – three of them with Aprilia (in 1994, 95 and 96) and one with Honda, in 1997.

Biaggi racing his Chesterfield Aprilia in the 250cc class in 1996

Now that his MotoGP days are over, Mad Max races for Alstare Suzuki Corona in world superbikes, and recently took his GSX-R1000 to third place in race one, in the World Superbike race at Monza. Says Max, ‘Monza has been a fantastic experience, and the huge number of fans here has made this a great weekend. Although there were a lot of people here asking for my autographs and photos, I didn't mind and I tried to sign as many as possible. I am happy to do this for race fans.’

So there you are. The arrogance is still there. The man still thinks he really is a Roman Emperor. But what the heck, the world of motorcycle racing would be poorer without Max, so it's alright… :-)

Update (May 28, 2007): The latest rumour doing the rounds is that Max could be back in MotoGP in 2008! There may be a second Suzuki team in MotoGP next year - the Alstare Suzuki team - and the team manager for this could be 1993 500cc world champ, Kevin Schwantz himself! We'd be happy to see Max back in MotoGP, though we wonder if would really have the fire in him to take on young guns Stoner, Pedrosa and others. Let's see how things unfold over the next few months...

Also see:
Loris Capirossi: Winning for 16 years...!
Valentino Rossi: The biggest earning star in MotoGP
Anjelina Jolie: Staying ahead of Rossi!
Saga of the mighty Honda NSR500
Down memory lane: The Cagiva 500 GP racer

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dainese invite European customers to test their new helmet’s communication system

The Dainese Airstream Infinity helmet lets you do the talking

Dainese are giving their customers an opportunity to get involved in the testing of the company’s new range of helmets – the Airstream Course Infinity. Customers who buy Infinity helmets from the Dainese website will be able to test the helmets’ communication system, which allows riders travelling in a group to hold a conversation on the move.

The communication system combines a Bluetooth 2.0 interface with a miniature radio device, and allows conversation between motorcyclists who are up to 400m away from each other.

"What..?!? You really heard him say that ?!?"

Up to three people can talk at one time, while an almost unlimited number of people can listen. A total of about 800 units of the Airstream Course Infinity will be sold in the UK, Spain, Germany and France, and buyers will be able to post their comments on the efficiency of the new communication system and offer suggestions for improvement.

Those who participate in this beta test project will get a Motorola V3xx mobile phone, courtesy of Dainese.

Also see:
Pal V-One: The flying bike!
JRL Cycles' airplane-engined bike
Rapom V8: Supercharged, 1000bhp monster-bike!
July 18, 2007: 'Ride to work' day
Could you learn to live without bikes?

Dorna to quantify MotoGP TV exposure value for sponsors and advertisers!

Careful there, Loris. They're not only watching you, they're watching every single logo on your bike, helmet and leathers...

Dorna Sports, exclusive holders of the MotoGP World Championship’s commercial and television rights, have teamed up with Applied Image Recognition Ltd., to work towards measuring and quantifying television exposure for advertising and sponsorship partners.

For this, Dorna will use the Magellan System, an image recognition software developed by Omniperception and distributed worldwide by Applied Recognition Limited. The Magellan System, claim its developers, ‘sets the global standard for brand logo exposure analysis and reporting.’ Whatever that means.

Why is all of this happening? It’s being said that ‘Dorna Sports’ use of Magellan for MotoGP will give their sponsors higher levels of accuracy in brand exposure assessment during televised races.’ Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO, Dorna Sports, says, ‘OmniPerception's Magellan System allows us to improve the accuracy of our reporting on the data we produce, to demonstrate to each of our partners the levels of exposure and return on interest they receive as a result of their presence in MotoGP.’ Wonderful, if this means more big-ticket sponsors getting into MotoGP!

More MotoGP:
Hi-res Valentino Rossi wallpaper!
Rossi and Edwards prepare for Le Mans
Scoop pics: 2017 Ducati MotoGP bikes!
Silver Dream Racer: 1980s 'MotoGP' movie
John Hopkins: "I'm a better rider than Hayden!"
Nicky Hayden: "I'm not giving up by any means!"

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Amazingly Naro: 40km to a litre of petrol

Proof that secretly, car drivers have always wanted to ride bikes...

The part bike / part car Naro is powered by a 400cc, single-cylinder, 20-horsepower engine, which delivers about 40km/l of fuel economy. This four-wheeled concept bike (car?) has been co-developed by the Narrow Motor Co., and its founder, Hugh Kemp, says that his company hopes to start production of this two-passenger urban runabout before the end of this year.

The fully enclosed Naro is a bit wider than, say, a Honda Goldwing, has four wheels, and is taller than most SUVs. While this doesn’t sound like much of a recipe for any kind of handling prowess, the Naro’s suspension – double wishbone at the front, independent trailing link at the back – allows it to lean like a motorcycle while cornering.

Co-developers of the Naro, the Narrow Motor Co., want to put this thing into production before the end of this year

The 300kg Naro should be at least reasonably safe – it has an extruded aluminium passenger cell mounted on a carbonfibre platform, and anti-lock brakes and airbags are standard equipment. Performance is mild at best – zero to 100km/h takes 12 seconds, and top speed is 135km/h. At least riding (driving?) it in city traffic should be quite painless, what with the Naro’s fully automatic CVT requiring minimal rider (driver?) involvement.

If vehicles like the Naro are the future, we’d definitely like to stay with the present, thanks very much.

Also see:
Some amazing trikes!
Some of the best custom-made bikes in the world
Top Fuel motorcycles: A lesson in acceleration!
The strangest motorcycles ever!