Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rossi vs Pedrosa: The battle that never happened, and a MotoGP season that's gone awry

In 2006, everyone was saying Rossi and Pedrosa would be fighting for the 2007 MotoGP world championship. Casey Stoner had other ideas... :-)

The Dutch TT at Assen, the ninth MotoGP event of the 2007 season, is just three days away. And Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi, who is 26 points behind a certain Mr Stoner in the world championship standings, wants a decisive win this time around. He needs the win to close the points gap. And he needs it even more to make a psychological comeback. The Doctor says ‘I wasn’t happy after the race at Donington Park on Sunday, but we know what our problems are – now we need to fix them. I’m happy to get the chance to ride again so soon and forget about the race at Donington, because I was so disappointed to finish fourth at a circuit I love so much.’

Assen is, of course, a legendary circuit. Says Rossi, ‘It’s another of my favourite tracks. It’s a shame they had to change the circuit layout last year – they have removed the most exciting part of the track, which I still cannot understand. Anyway, Assen is still a legendary place, with a great atmosphere and great fans. Hopefully we can make a good show for them and be competitive like we know we can be once again.’

Nicky Hayden, who won the 2006 MotoGP world championship, is going exactly nowhere this season. Will he remain with HRC for 2008? Don't bet on it...

Eight races down, the 2007 MotoGP season is turning out to be a bit of a surprise. The much-hyped Rossi-Pedrosa battle hasn’t materialized at all. Stoner, who wasn’t really supposed to be anywhere in the picture, is winning everything, while Rossi is barely hanging on to second spot in the championship. Honda, surprisingly, haven’t been able to make a winning 800cc MotoGP bike. Suzuki seem to be having a resurgence of sorts, and even Kawasaki are catching up. So a season gone all topsy-turvy then.

In fact, things are so messed up that now there are reports saying that Dani Pedrosa may leave Honda and go elsewhere in 2008. While Melandri and Hayden have been saying things to the effect that Honda / HRC are far too focused on Pedrosa and ignoring their other riders, Pedrosa himself doesn’t, apparently, think so.

Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Mundo recently, Pedrosa said ‘It’s not necessary to close the doors on other options. It’s not necessary to think that there is only one option available to me. If there are much better things, I am not going to refrain from them in order to stay here with something not so good.’ So there you are – a declaration from the young Spaniard, which makes it clear that unless Honda can give him a bike that’s capable of beating Stoner’s Ducati, Pedrosa will look elsewhere!

Pedrosa, HRC's great white hope for 2007, has threatened to leave Honda unless he's given bikes that can beat Stoner's Ducati. Ironical...?

There are two sides to this story. The British MotoGP at Donington Park was the ninth successive race where Honda did not win. This is their longest winless streak in 17 years! The flip side is, it’s not just Honda – Stoner’s Ducati has been thrashing pretty much everyone and everything else on the track, so where exactly will Pedrosa go?

The Spaniard says, ‘I did not hope for this. It looked better from the outside. From the first race we have not taken any great steps and I don't know if we will be able to do much more before the end of the season.’ Hard words indeed, and from a man who has a reputation for not showing too much emotion.

If Pedrosa (and, indeed, Hayden as well!) does leave Honda and join some other team for 2008, it will be another hard blow for the Honda / HRC ego. When Rossi left Honda and joined Yamaha for the 2004 season, HRC claimed they would do everything in their power to 'destroy' Rossi. Rossi rubbed their faces in dirt by winning the 2004 and 2005 MotoGP world championships. Motorsport.com have a brilliant five-part story, which talks about the rise of Rossi, his breakup with Honda, and his subsequent move to Yamaha. Get it here. As for the next chapter in the HRC / Pedrosa saga, stay tuned – we’ll be bringing more breaking news for you shortly...!

Also see:
The MotoGP oldtimer: Loris Capirossi
The Honda RC212V: What went wrong...?
Riding impression: Rizla Suzuki GSV-R!
Kenny Roberts' MotoGP-powered KR-V5 Boardtracker, and KR Tuned
Memorable: The Cagiva 500 GP racer
Ron Haslam: How to go faster on the track

Feisty little Italian: Gilera Storm 50

The Gilera Storm 50. For the times when you want to leave your MV Agusta F4 R 312 parked in the garage...?

Italians love sporty scooters. Last week we spoke of the new Malaguti Phantom F12 R, and now it’s another 50cc wonder – the Gilera Storm. Gilera talk of the Storm’s ‘aggressive and energetic spirit, which appeals to young people,’ while we approve of its steel tube chassis, 120/70 tubeless radial rubber and 190mm front disc brake. The scooter costs about US$2,750 and is available in red, black or white. More details on the Gilera website here.

The Storm 50 not macho enough for you? How about this 1949 Gilera Saturno San Remo...

Some very cool scooters:
The Gilera Fuoco 500
The Piaggio MP3
Team Cristofolini's 350cc, 112bhp monster-scooter!
Carver One: The world's weirdest scooter!
Segway i2 and x2: A different take on scooters?

KTM show their 2008 off-road motorcycle range

For serious enduro riders - the 2008 KTM 530 EXC-R

KTM recently unveiled their off-road competition motorcycle range for 2008, in Spain. Among others, the range includes the 300 EXC-E, and the 450 and 530 EXC-R enduro bikes, as well as the SX motocrossers. All bikes feature new chromium-molybdenum chassis that are stiff and light, and work very well off road. 48mm USD front forks are fitted up front, while the rear monoshock is also a WP unit – both ends are fully adjustable. More details on the KTM website here. And you can play the ‘KTM – Ready to Race’ game here.

Can't ride a KTM in real life? Ride one in the 'Ready to Race' game on KTM's website here

Also see:
2007 KTM 950 Super Enduro R
AC Schnitzer BMW HP2
2007 Husaberg FS55e supermoto
Singularly powerful: 2007 KTM 690SM
Striking trike: Brudeli 625
The Massimo Tamburini-designed Husqvarna STR 650 CC

Monday, June 25, 2007

Faster and Faster completes one year!

We started off on the 25th of June last year, so today Faster and Faster completes one full year. It’s been great bringing motorcycle news and features to you for the last 12 months, over 383 posts, thousands of words, hundreds of pictures and a few dozen videos.

A big THANK YOU to all of you who’ve been regular visitors to this blog and who’ve said good things about us in various motorcycling forums across the Internet. We truly appreciate your support, and we hope to get even better over the next 12 months.

For those who’ve been coming to this blog but haven’t written to us yet, we’ll be glad if you write in and let us know your thoughts and opinions on Faster and Faster – you can write to us on sameer_kumar@emailplus.org

All readers are also invited to comment on our posts whenever possible. We’d like to find out what you think of our stories.

Keep riding. And keep coming back to Faster and Faster. Enjoy…

Some of the FASTEST bikes on Faster and Faster:
The mighty Ducati Desmosedici RR
Top Fuel Dragracers: A lesson in acceleration!
NitroDuke: The world's fastest KTM
Fred Gassit: The world's fastest toon...
Drag race: Kawasaki ZZR1400 vs Suzuki Hayabusa!
The late, great Kawasaki ZX-12R
The greatest 1100s ever: GSX-R1100 and ZZR1100!
Turbo Hayabusa sets new top speed record for streetbikes!
Fast and beautiful: The MV Agusta F4 CC
Fast and rotary: The Norton NRV588
Two-stroke glory: The Yamaha RD500LC
Fast on three wheels: Tiff Needell tests the Campagna T-Rex!
The fastest scooter in the world: Team Cristofolini's 350cc, 112bhp menace!
"GSX-Rs are for moped riders!"
HRC: The mighty Honda NSR500
The fastest production bike in the world: MV Agusta F4 R 312
Acabion GTBO 70: 700 horsepower, 600km/h top speed!!!
Rapom V8: Supercharged, 1000 horsepower monster-bike!
Fast on film: The Silver Dream Racer
Italian feud: Ducati 999 vs Ducati 1098
Smackdown: KTM 125cc GP racer vs Litre-class superbike!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

British MotoGP: Unstoppable Stoner wins at Donington Park

Stoner: "Look, I'm going to stay ahead of Rossi this year, no matter what...!"

With his fifth win of the season at Donington Park today, Casey Stoner now leads the 2007 MotoGP world championship by 26 points. During this, the eighth race of the year, Stoner came out on top yet again, followed by Colin Edwards (who started from pole position) in second place and Chris Vermeulen, who's proving to be a bit of a wet weather specialist, in third. 'I think that this victory proves once and for all that top speed isn't Casey's advantage, because top speed means nothing at this track, especially in these conditions. Casey is a genius, he is so good at managing a race. He started today's race very calmly, then when he was ready to go, bang, he could go away at the front,' declared an obviously delighted Livio Suppo, Ducati's MotoGP project director.

No.46, The Doctor finished in fourth spot – things are just not going his way this year. The same can also be said for reigning world champ Nicky Hayden, who crashed during the race but remounted his bike to finish last, in 17th spot. The other Repsol Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa finished in eighth place – doesn’t look like he’ll be a contender for the 2007 MotoGP world championship after all.

This is how hard Colin Edward's been trying to win. So a well deserved second place then

All said, The Stoner Express seems quite unbeatable this year. Colin Stoner, Casey's dad, talks about his son's grit and steely resolve here. Interesting. In the meanwhile, is the 2007 world championship decided already? Much as we love Rossi, we wouldn’t bet against Stoner taking the crown this year. And perhaps it’ll take another young gun – maybe Jorge Lorenzo, when he moves up from the 250cc class next year – to take on Stoner in 2008…

Also see:
Hi-res Casey Stoner wallpaper
here, here, here and here
MotoGP Ducati for less than US$100!
Ducati to merge with Harley-Davidson?!?
The world's most beautiful motorcycles...
Aprilia to enter MotoGP within three years!
1200cc twins in World Superbikes 2008

Bargain bike: MotoGP Ducati for less than US$100!

Get this RC Ducati from Nikko and live out your MotoGP fantasies on a budget... :-)

So you have your heart set on Loris Capirossi’s Ducati, but don’t have the money to put down a deposit for the Desmosedici RR? No worries. For less than US$100, you can get a remote controlled 1/5th scale model of the bike from Nikko.

Nikko say that with their Ducati, “you will hug corners and come out of them with power like you've always dreamed of. Open full throttle as you make your way to the checkered flag and victory!” Err…, well. Anyway, the bikes behave quite realistically, with a rider that actually hangs off for high speed turns, functioning front and rear suspension, an electric braking system and even a ‘turbo boost’ feature for bursts of speed and acceleration! The bike’s ‘engine’ is a rechargeable 9.6V Ni-Cd battery pack.

Get more details on the Nikko website here.

Women in Ducati bikinis will adore you and your Nikko Ducati

An awesome Ducati 1098 promo video

Other cool toys:
A bike that can mow down SUVs!
A bike that uses a car engine!
A battery-powered Yamaha R1!
A motorcycle that rides on just one wheel!
A rotating machine-gun style motorcycle exhaust system!
A bike for those who really wanted a car...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Suzuki's MotoGP Bikes: Three decades of evolution

The 1977 Suzuki RG500 XR22. Would John Hopkins want to have a go on this...?

Here at Faster and Faster, whenever we can get our hands on motorcycle GP racing videos from the 1970s and 80s, we sit glued to our TV sets for hours. The racing scene from that era – the wild and wooly bikes, and the men who dared to race those mad machines – absolutely fascinates us. Which is why we thought of quickly comparing a 500cc GP bike from 1977 with a 2007 MotoGP machine. How far have we come in the last thirty years?

That's Graziano Rossi (yeah, Valentino's dad...!), who briefly rode for Suzuki in 1978 in the 500cc class. He later went on to race in the 250cc class, with Morbidelli...

We’ll actually start with the 1974 Suzuki RG500 XR14. Its two-stroke, water-cooled, carbureted 500cc square-four engine made 90 horsepower at 10,500rpm. In 1976 came the Suzuki XR22, on which the legendary Barry Sheene won the first of his two 500cc world championships. By now, the square-four was making 114 horsepower at 11,000rpm and things didn’t change much for 1977, when Sheene went on to win his second world championship aboard the bike.

Marco Lucchinelli, who won the 500cc world championship on his Suzuki in 1981

Marco Lucchinelli and Franco Uncini also won 500cc world championships aboard Suzuki machines in 1981 and 82 respectively. But after that, Yamaha and Honda dominated the 500cc class for a decade. Suzuki only managed to come back on top in 1993, when Kevin Schwantz won the 500cc title. That was followed by a six year dry spell for Suzuki, after which Kenny Roberts Jr won the 500cc crown in the year 2000.

The inimitable Kevin Schwantz, who won the 500cc title for Suzuki in 1993

Coming to Suzuki’s current MotoGP bike, the GSV-R800 XRG0, the bike is powered by a four-stroke, 800cc, water-cooled, fuel-injected V4 that makes more than 220 horsepower at 17,500rpm. The bike uses Bridgestone tyres, Motul lubes, Brembo brakes, Yoshimura exhaust, and Ohlins suspension, weighs about 149 kilos, and can hit a top speed that's in excess of 330km/h!

And finally, John Hopkins on his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R800 XRG0...

But while racing bikes have evolved over the last thirty years, if you want to win races, one thing remains the same. And that, as Barry Sheene used to say, is the will to win…

More racing bikes:
Which is the best among 2007 MotoGP bikes?
The five racing bikes we love!
RD500LC: Yamaha's 500cc 'GP racer' for the common man!
RGV250: Suzuki's GP racer for the street
Team Cristofolini Racing's 350cc, 112bhp scooter!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Troy Corser: ‘I’m really surprised at how much power there is on a standard Yamaha R1…!’

Even if you're used to riding this, a standard Yamaha R1 will surprise you with its performance. Or can it...?

Troy Corser, who made his World Superbikes debut aboard a Yamaha FZR750R back in 1992, and who currently rides for the Yamaha Motor Italia team in WSBK, recently had a chance to ride stock R1 and R6 machines at the Valencia circuit in Spain. And what did he have to say about the bikes? ‘With the R1, I was really surprised how much power there is on the standard bike. There's plenty enough there to get the front wheel up in first, second and third without trying,’ claims Corser. ‘I was surprised by the strength of the engine – it's quite something for a stock road bike,’ he adds.

Overall, it's an impressive little package. That's what Corser says about the Yam R6

So what about the R6 then? Says Corser, ‘The power delivery is softer than on the R1, but it revs really high – much higher than the R1 – which makes for good amounts of fun on the track or the road. To be honest, the chassis on the R6 feels pretty close to the chassis on my racebike and it handles well. Overall it's an impressive little package.’

Given that Yamaha pay his salary, we suppose Mr Corser will say good things about the R1 and R6 bikes. Still, we quite like the R1 ourselves – the red and white paint scheme, in particular, rocks…

Also see:
Hi-res Yamaha R1 and R6 wallpaper
Two-stroke glory: The Suzuki RGV250
Prepare for the mighty KTM RC8
Faster and Faster: The best of 2006
"Want to win? Don't shut the throttle...!"
Alternative front suspension: The bikes that dared...
Shelby's 150 horsepower chopper
"GSX-Rs are for moped riders!"

Olivier Jacque's MotoGP career comes to an end

Olivier Jacque has been replaced by Anthony West, but the Frenchman will continue to be test rider and tech advisor at Kawasaki

Olivier Jacque has bid goodbye to motorcycle racing and will no longer ride in MotoGP. The ex-250cc world champ got a shot at riding the Kawasaki ZX-RR for the 2007 MotoGP season primarily due to Shinya Nakano having left Kawasaki at the end of 2006. But the French rider has had a season littered with crashes and injuries, which has put a dampener on Kawasaki’s MotoGP effort.

Says Jacque, ‘I feel tired and physically diminished. I find it very hard to recover from my injuries and don't feel competitive enough to ride at top level. My body keeps telling me it's maybe time to move on. Kawasaki have been understanding and we have reached agreements for the future which will allow me to stay involved in the racing world, for which I am passionate.’

Jacque will continue with Kawasaki as development rider and technical advisor. In the meanwhile, Kawasaki have hired Australian rider Anthony West to replace Jacque for the remaining 2007 MotoGP season. West had earlier been riding for Yamaha in the 600cc World Supersport class. Says West, ‘To leave Yamaha is sad, but it's such a great chance for me to follow my dream to go to MotoGP.’

Olivier Jacque fans may remember his fantastic second place finish at the rain-soaked 2005 Chinese MotoGP in Shanghai. We think it was Jacque’s finest MotoGP ride ever, and you can right-click and download this 20MB video of that race here.

Also see:
Revised regulations for World Superbikes in 2008
Ducati to merge with Harley-Davidson?!
Pierre Terblanche talks about the Ducati 999
And the world's most beautiful motorcycle is...?
Looking back the bikes of the 1980s
An Alfa Romeo motorcycle!
Air-powered bikes in the near future?

Cycle World: Mick Doohan interview

From 1994 to 1998, there was no beating Mick Doohan in the 500cc class

Remember Mick ‘The Dominant’ Doohan? Of course you do. The fierce, feisty Australian won five consecutive 500cc world championships on his Honda NSR500, from 1994 to 1998. Cycle World magazine spoke to the racing legend recently, and it’s clear that Doohan’s hunger for being the best in whatever he does remains undiminished.

Now that he’s retired from racing, what exactly does Doohan do? He says, ‘I have an aviation company in Australia. We run small aircraft – corporate jets – in Australia and Southeast Asia. If you have an aircraft, we crew, manage and maintain it. I own two of them. We manage 12 aircraft in total. We have the biggest group under one umbrella in the country.’

The Dominant Doohan, they used to call him...

As if that wasn’t enough, he runs other businesses too. ‘My prime business is property. We’ve started some restaurants and bars in Las Vegas with the MGM Mirage group. The first one opens later this year in the Luxor. And we’ve got another one opening next year, as well,’ he says. What about that famous competitive edge of his – does it extend to Doohan’s business activities as well? He says, ‘I suppose it does. I didn’t like losing races, and I don’t like losing money!’

Finally, does he miss his racing days? Says Doohan, ‘I still have a great love for the bikes, for MotoGP and especially Honda!’ Get the full interview at the Cycle World website here.

Other racing legends:
Kevin Schwantz talks to Faster and Faster!
Wayne Gardner talks to Faster and Faster
John Surtees: Winning on two wheels and four
Libero Liberati: 500cc world champ in 1957...
Marco Lucchinelli: 500cc world champ in 1981

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Loris Capirossi tribute: The Malaguti Phantom F12 R Capirex

Okay, so it's only a 50cc scooter, but it has Capirossi's number on it, which makes it icy cool...

Italian scooter specialists, Malaguti are doing this very stylish Phantom F12 R Capirex that you see here. Okay, it’s only a small scooter, but it’s Malaguti’s tribute to one of MotoGP’s finest racers ever – Loris Capirossi. The scooter sports Capirossi’s number 65, and the colour scheme and some styling cues, say Malaguti, are from Loris’ Ducati Desmosedici GP7 racebike.

At around US$3,300 the Malaguti Phantom F12 R Capirex is a bit pricey, but if you can’t afford a Desmosedici RR, perhaps it’s the next best thing? More details on the Malaguti website here.

Also see:
Retro SBK's Freddie Spencer tribute
Kawasaki ZRX1200: Eddie Lawson special!
Valentino Rossi talks about Loris Capirossi...
Stephanie McLean talks about Barry Sheene
Honda to build Hornet 1000 in 2008?
Frank Melling: Memories of the Isle of Man TT
The bike which SUV drivers will fear...!

If Malaguti can build a scooter in tribute to Capirossi, why can't Yamaha build one for Rossi? So here it is - the 2007 Yamaha Aerox Valentino Rossi edition!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cruising the Italian way: Moto Guzzi Bellagio

An Italian Harley-Davidson? Moto Guzzi have you covered...

We think Italians do sportsbikes best – cruisers are best left to the Americans. But still, for those who have been holding out for an Italian Harley-Davidson, the new Moto Guzzi Bellagio ‘custom cruiser’ will be in showrooms in Europe by the end of June.

Powered by a 90-degree, 936cc v-twin that makes 75bhp at 7200rpm, the Bellagio is highly unlikely to offer any substantial performance – relaxed cruising is more like it. Likewise, the double-cradle steel tube chassis will not encourage cornering heroics, but at least the single-sided aluminium swingarm (which incorporates the traditional Guzzi shaft drive) looks cool. Kind of.

If you are prepared to spend about US$17,500 on an Italian cruiser, you can get more details on the Bellagio on the Moto Guzzi website here. And read Kevin Ash’s riding impression of the bike on The Telegraph website here.

The Moto Guzzi Norge 1200. Beating BMW at their own game. At least in Spain...

In the meanwhile, the Moto Guzzi Norge sportstourer has won Motociclismo magazine’s 2007 Motorcycle of the Year Award. More than 36,000 readers participated in a survey conducted by this Spanish motorcycle magazine, and the Moto Guzzi Norge 1200 was voted the winner in the ‘Granturismo’ category, followed by the BMW R1200RT in second place. The ‘Cruiser’ category was won by the Harley-Davidson Night Rod, followed by the Moto Guzzi California Vintage and the Bellagio in second and third places.

Some Italian bikes we love...
The very fast, very expensive MV Agusta F4 CC
Naked and gorgeous: The MV Agusta Brutale 910R
The funky new world of Benelli...
The very cool Ducati Hypermotard!
The awesome Cagiva 500 grand prix racer
The US$80,000 NCR Ducati Millona. Superb!
The very beautiful Ducati 1098

Sunday, June 17, 2007

World Superbikes 2008: Regulations for 1200cc twins announced

For now, Ducati have got what they wanted. But is it fair?

Till a few weeks ago, Ducati were threatening to pull out of World Superbikes if the FIM didn’t agree to upping the engine capacity limit for twin-cylinder engines to 1200cc, for 2008. Then, at the end of last month, the FIM did agree and an announcement was made regarding 1200cc twins being permitted for WSBK 2008.

Now, some tech regulations have also been announced. Yes, 1200cc twins will indeed be allowed to race against 1000cc inline-fours, but the twins will have to weigh six more kilos, have 50mm air restrictors and will have to use standard con-rods. The authorities will analyse how 1200cc twins perform against 1000cc fours with these restrictions in place, and if needed, the restrictions may be revised during the 2008 racing season.

Aprilia are also expected to come to WSBK in 2008, but with a 1000cc four-cylinder engine

Ducati, of course, will have a 1200cc version of their 1098 superbike ready by next year, and KTM and BMW may also come to World Superbikes with their own twins. Aprilia are also expected to go racing in WSBK next year, albeit with a 1000cc four-cylinder engine. For all these racing bikes, manufacturers will have to make at least 1,000 units in order to be able to homologate them for racing. And that’s just for 2008 and 2009. For 2010 and beyond, that number will go up to 3,000 bikes!

We appreciate the fact that more manufacturers may be coming to World Superbikes next year. It will mean more intense competition on the track and ultimately, better bikes for enthusiasts. But we really don’t know about this 1200cc engine capacity limit for twins. Manufacturers are free to choose an engine format (twins, fours, triples or anything else…) and develop it the way they want, so why should Ducati first choose the v-twin, then argue that it’s not as efficient as the inline-four, and arm-twist race organizers to make special concessions for their engines?

With 1200cc twins pitted against their smaller fours in WSBK 2008, Japanese manufacturers may have to struggle next year...

We don’t think it’s fair. We’ve seen Ducati’s four-cylinder MotoGP bikes and how they perform. That’s the way to go. If they want to continue with v-twin engines in WSBK, that’s fine, but in our opinion, Ducati should also be restricted to 1000cc like the Japanese manufacturers. Then, if they can still win, they would have proved a point. And they would’ve won the respect of racing enthusiasts worldwide. Let the playing field be level, then let the best bike win…

Also see:
Moto Guzzi Bellagio: Life in the slow lane...
Acabion GTBO 70: Life in the very, very fast lane!
18th July 2007: Ride to work day
The future's bright, the future's Benelli?
Kenny Roberts to build Fireblade-based superbike
The utterly mad, deeply desirable Carver One!

MotoGP: Steve Parrish to test ride the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR

Parrish will soon be getting his hands on that ZX-RR...

Three decades ago, he was teammate to Barry Sheene and used to race 500cc grand prix Suzukis. Then he moved on to truck racing and was very successful at that. These days, he’s a commentator at BBC Television, which he probably doesn’t find as productive of adrenaline as his earlier jobs. So very soon, Steve Parrish will be pulling on his leathers again – Kawasaki are allowing him to test ride their MotoGP machine, the Ninja ZX-RR, around the Donington Park circuit, just ahead of the British MotoGP next week.

Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet recently finished in fifth place at the Spanish MotoGP at Catalunya, and Parrish will be riding de Puniet’s ZX-RR on Thursday, the 21st of this month. The ride will, in fact, be broadcast on the BBC.

Steve Parrish finished fifth in the 1977 500cc world championship

Parrish finished fifth in the 1977 500cc motorcycle GP racing world championship, but was actually more successful as a truck racer, winning no less than five European titles. When he gets on to the Kawasaki ZX-RR this Thursday, he will be only the sixth person ever to ride the MotoGP Kawasaki.

GP Racing bikes have, of course, evolved far beyond how they used to be in the 1970s, so how does Parrish feel about the MotoGP ride? He says, ‘I am very, very excited about riding the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR and particularly at Donington Park, my home Grand Prix, and a circuit where I have ridden many times. It is going to be the second 800cc MotoGP bike that I've tried. As I already have some idea from riding the Suzuki, it will be interesting to see if there are any differences. I feel like one of the luckiest men in the paddock, as I also rode all the 990cc MotoGP bikes last year!’

Kawasaki have struggled in MotoGP so far, but next year, if Hayden, Capirossi or Edwards joins the team, things could improve...

How different are today’s MotoGP machines from the 500cc racers of Parrish’s time? ‘It's difficult to see on screen just how unbelievably fast they are, and how the riders have to be athletes to ride them. I will do only four laps and even this will be pretty exhausting. But this is not to prove myself, but rather to be able to explain better how tough MotoGP racing is,’ he says. Yeah, you lucky bugger…

Saturday, June 16, 2007

KTM vs Suzuki: 125cc GP racer vs 1000cc superbike…?

Small, but perfectly former. All muscle, no fat...

We are big fans of MotoGP here at Faster and Faster, and you see MotoGP-related posts here very often. But talk about 125cc motorcycle GP racing, and with us, you draw a blank. We admit we don’t follow 125cc racing, and we hardly know anything at all about those bikes and the men who race them.

But are we missing something? We thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at a 125cc racebike’s specs and see how, as a package, one of these machines would stack up to a modern-day 1000cc road-going superbike. Let’s take the KTM 125 racer, for example. The bike is powered by a single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, two-stroke 125cc engine that makes 55 horsepower at 13,000rpm, and 31Nm of torque at 12,800rpm. No fuel injection here – the bike uses a Keihin carburetor.

The Gixxer weighs twice as much as the 125 racebike, but is also three times as powerful!

The minimum weight limit (bike+rider) in the 125cc class is 136kg, so the KTM 125 racer probably weighs just 80 kilos! The twin-spar chassis is made of aluminium, suspension is Öhlins front and rear, brakes are by Brembo, wheels are lightweight Marchesini units and the gearbox is a six-speed unit. Fuel capacity is 13 litres, which means the bike probably averages about 10 – 11km/l during races.

On to, say, a Suzuki GSX-R1000 now. The engine is a 999cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled inline-four, and depending on who you talk to (or which motorcycle mag roadtest you choose to believe), it makes anywhere between 165 – 180 horsepower at 12,000rpm. Top speed is close to 300km/h, and while we don’t really know the exact top speed of the KTM 125, we don’t suppose it would be more than 220km/h. The Suzuki’s 1:1 power-to-weight ratio also compares favourably with the KTM’s 1:1.45.

In the end, it could all come down to skill and experience. Kevin Schwantz on a GSX-R1000 should be able to take on any 125 racer. We hope... :-)

The GSX-R1000 is about twice as heavy as the KTM 125, but also packs three times the power. So the numbers at least are weighted in favour of litre-class superbikes. How would things be in the real world? Would an average rider who weighs 85 kilos, riding a GSX-R1000, be able to keep up with a 55kg professional racer, on a 125cc GP racebike, on a set of mountain twisties?

Would the 125’s agility and higher corner speeds (?) offset the Gixxer’s sheer power, acceleration and higher top speeds? What if the GSX-R was fitted with high-spec street rubber, while the KTM ran racing slicks? We'd love to find out, but for that, we'll need a KTM 125 racer and a 2007 Suzuki GSX-R1000. Anyone willing to lend us these two machines for a day…? :-D

Other great battles:
Fifth Gear video: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera!
MotoGP: Rossi vs Capirossi at Mugello!
Superbikes vs police helicopters!
Drag racing: Kawasaki ZZR1400 vs Suzuki Hayabusa!
Helmet wars: Snell vs ECE22
1988 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10 vs modern-day Ninja ZX-10R!
Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade vs Honda Civic Type-R!
Acceleration: Supercars vs superbikes!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Triumph Tiger 1050 and The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore

James Bond can keep his Aston Martin, Jonas Moore prefers the Triumph Tiger 1050

Umm…, we admit we don’t fully understand this one. But to quote from their website, ‘The Many Worlds of Jonas Moore is a trilogy set in a time where the British Empire has never ended and America is just a virtual world hosted on a vast global game network. Jonas Moore, a character personally created by the network's founder, is thrown into a world where characters, creatures and monsters are all slaves to the gamers from the real world…’ Uhh… well. As far as we’re concerned, we’re talking about any of this at all only because Mr Moore rides a Triumph Tiger 1050.

The Tiger 1050 anyway seems to be a popular bike these days...

Factory Publishing Ltd., in association with Triumph Motorcycles, have launched ‘a world-first trilogy of second generation graphic novels designed for iPod and PC download.’ This, supposedly, ‘Marks a revolution in on-line branded content and user generated content.’ More such amazing details on the official website here, for those who may be interested. As for us, we’ll just open a can of ice-cold beer, watch an old James Bond movie and wish we had enough money to buy a 2006 GSX-R1000, fitted with a full-on Yoshimura exhaust system… :-(

Jonas Moore in action on his Triumph Tiger 1050

Also see:
Ducati to merge with Harley-Davidson?!?
Sky Cycle: The bike that flies. What else...?
Air-powered bikes in the year 2017?
John McGuinness on top at the 100th Isle of Man TT races
Wheelsurf: No need for wheelies anymore
Kalex AV1: Building an all-out sportsbike...

Frank Melling: Memories of the Isle of Man TT

Who wouldn't recognise that helmet on the IoM TT...

Frank Melling has written an excellent article for Motorcycle-USA, where he talks about his memories of the Isle of Man TT. Here are two brief excerpts.

‘My first independent trip away from home was to the TT. I was just 16 years old. I arrived to a scene of unbelievable glamour. The dockside was full of the latest superbikes – BSA Gold Stars, Triumph Bonnevilles and the glorious 650cc Norton SS. Their riders looked so cool too. Elvis haircuts, real leather jackets and badges from previous TTs. I wandered around in a dream of wonder and near ecstasy.’

‘It is the sounds which carry through the years more than the sights. The howl of the Honda fours, the desperately high-pitched screams of the tiny Suzuki two-strokes and the snarl and rasp of the British singles….’

Get the full article here.

More legends, more memories:
In conversation with Kevin Schwantz
Talking to Wayne Gardner
The late, great Kawasaki ZXR750
Remembering Wayne Rainey...
Suzuki GSX-R750: The saga begins...
Sultan of Slide: The great Freddie Spencer
Spinning around: The mighty Norton F1

Honda and Aprilia to get big and naked in 2008

Honda are likely to build the Hornet 1000, which may look like this, next year

As reported on the Motociclismo website some time ago, Honda are looking all set to build a bigger Hornet for 2008. The bike will borrow its engine from the CBR1000RR Fireblade, so even if it’s ‘tuned for torque,’ there should still be at least 125bhp to play with. Styling is very likely to be an evolution of the Hornet 600, with its trademark stubby exhausts and mini fairing. The new Hornet 1000 will be proper sportsbike tackle, with sticky rubber, USD forks, and radial brakes (ABS may be an option), but also all-day, two-up ride comfort. Should be interesting to see how it stacks up against the likes of the Yamaha Fazer FZ-1 and the Kawasaki Z1000.

The Aprilia 1200 supermotard will be on the lines of the Ducati Hypermotard
Pic: Motociclismo

Italians, of course, will have a different take on the big naked theme. Ducati have showed the way with their Hypermotard, and now Aprilia want to follow in their footsteps. Expect a Hypermotard-style supermoto from them by the end of this year. Initially, the engine may be the Shiver’s 750cc v-twin, but as reported earlier, they are also working on a 1200cc v-twin, so expect a 130 horpower, 1200cc version of the Aprilia supermoto by the end of 2008.

Update (20th Sep, 2007): Stunning new Honda Evo6, CB1100R and CB1100F revealed!

More of big and naked:
British is bigger, British is best!
2007 Repsol-replica Honda Hornet 600F
The Triumph Street Triple 675
Wheelsurf: Single and fully naked
CR&S Vun: Whacky, naked and Italian...
The Freddie: Spencer tribute with no clothes on!
MV Agusta Brutale 910R: The most beautiful naked...
...and finally, a KTM just for women!

External link:
Aprilia 850 Mana picture gallery

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ducati to merge with Harley-Davidson?!

Will this be a Ducati-Davidson in a few years...?

According to a report on the Financial Times website, Ducati might soon merge with Harley-Davidson! Ducati CFO, Enrico D’Onofrio has been quoted as saying that ‘A merger with Harley-Davidson would be totally complementary,’ and that ‘Half of all Ducati owners in the US also own a Harley.’

The FT website report says that this merger could help Ducati with procurement – the Italian company would be able to get better quality parts at lower prices – and that it would also enhance ‘distribution opportunities’ for Ducati in the American market. The report adds that Harley may also benefit from this merger with regard to international expansion, as the US market is flattening out.

Since Ducati and H-D bikes are so very different - in what they stand for and in how they are to ride - we really don't know if a merger makes any sense

On the other hand, a press release on the Ducati website denies that any such merger may be in the offing. ‘Neither Ducati nor its principal shareholder TPG have had any contacts with Harley-Davidson, concerning a possible acquisition of an interest in Ducati,’ it says. Cycle World magazine has an interesting take on the whole issue - get it here.

In the meanwhile, Ducati have released a new special edition bike – the 2007 Ducati Sport 1000 Mono – which will only be made available in North America. Only 100 units of this bike will be made, and Ducati claim that ‘This Sport 1000 SE embodies the spirit of the legendary 1978 900SS Darmah.’

The 2007 Ducati Sport Mono SE. Only available in the US and in Canada

The 2007 Sport 1000 Mono features a twin muffler ‘shotgun’ exhaust, wire-spoke wheels and Brembo brakes, and costs US$11,495. The bike is now available at Ducati showrooms throughout North America.

Also see:
Ducati 1098 vs MV Agusta F4 1000: Which is more beautiful?
Street survival: 50 tips from Motorcycle Cruiser
Tom Cruise splurges out on fancy new bike...
What if Ferrari had built a motorcycle?
MotoTuning's streetfighter GSX-R1000
New trials bikes from Sherco
For the rich and famous: Marcus Walz's custom specials

David Howard: Aprilia RS250 + SXV 550 = RSV-R 550!

The Aprilia RS250 - a GP bike for the road. Pity you can't buy one anymore...

Across all bikes in all segments, the two-stroke race-rep Aprilia RS250 is one of our most favourite motorcycles ever. The bike weighed a mere 140kg, and its 250cc v-twin made 60 horsepower at 11,000rpm, which means a specific output of about 240bhp per litre. Not very far off from the 280bhp per litre of Casey Stoner’s current 800cc MotoGP Ducati! Pity, then, that the RS250 doesn’t exist anymore.

The RS250's specific output, in terms of bhp-per-litre, is close to current day 800cc MotoGP bikes!!

But while we simply sit and bemoan the fact that the RS250 is no more, London-based David Howard has gone and done something about it. The 46-year-old school teacher, who used to race Suzuki RG500s in the 1980s, took an RS250 chassis and bolted an Aprilia SXV 550 engine into it. And the RSV-R 550 was born!

David Howard's SXV 550-powered RSV-R 550. Awesome!

Howard says getting hold of an SXV 550 engine was a bit difficult, and he ultimately had to buy a brand new SXV 550 just so he could use its engine – but he still completed the entire project in just four months. He says, ‘After watching episodes of American Chopper, I figured that if they could build a bike to a deadline, than so could I!’

The Aprilia SXV 550 is pretty cool on its own, but the RSV-R 550 is where it's at, for on-track performance

Howard has kept the SXV’s 549cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled v-twin basically stock, but he’s fitted a Gibson exhaust system and a power commander unit, and ditched the airbox. The engine now makes 71bhp, which means plenty of performance in the lightweight RSV-R 550.

For those who can't be bothered with building their own special, the stock RSV1000 should just about do... :-)

What advice does Howard have, for those who plan to build their own special? ‘Planning is the most important thing – don’t just let your project evolve, have a clear idea what you want to achieve and workout a timeline so that you can keep working on the bike.’ Aprilia News blog has an interview with Howard here. This is Howard’s website, which is under construction right now. And here's one place from where you can download tons of Aprilia wallpaper.



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