Monday, August 27, 2007

1952: When Ducati made scooters…

The 1952 Ducati Cruiser. Ride this, Stoner...

Those who’ve grown up seeing Ducati 851s, 916s, 999s and the latest 1098, would probably find it hard to believe that at one time, Ducati used to make scooters. Yes indeed, the 175cc Ducati Cruiser, the first four-stroke Italian scooter, was shown at the Milan Motorcycle Show back in 1952!

Styled by Ghia, the Cruiser was Ducati’s first scooter, and the first Italian scooter to be fitted with an automatic transmission. The 54-kilo machine was even fitted with electric start. The Cruiser’s 175cc single-cylinder engine was initially tuned to make 12bhp, but was later strangled down to 7.5 horsepower – Italian government regulations of that time limited scooter speeds to only 80km/h.

Later, Ducati also made another scooter – the 98cc Spartan, which was later upgraded to 125cc. However, Vespa and Lambretta had already established their names in the scooters market, and Ducati did not succeed in this segment. They only made a thousand odd units of the Cruiser and stopped production of scooters by 1954.

From the 175cc Cruiser to this beautiful mid-90s 916 (above), it was a long, long journey for Ducati...

The 1984 Ducati 750 F1 (above, left) and Mike Hailwood's legendary TT racer from 1978 (above, right)

More scooters:
The amazing Gilera Fuoco 500
The pathbreaking Piaggio MP3
Scooter chic from Tokyo...
Yamaha EC-02: A scooter from the future!
Honda Zoomer: A scooter for MotoGP riders!
The Independent's Top 10 Classic Scooters
Street survival tips for scooterists...

2008 Kawasaki Z1400 and KTM RC8 pics

The Kawasaki Z1400 will soon be up against the Suzuki B-King and the Yamaha V-Max...
pic: Oliepeil

Japanese manufacturers seem to be quite gung-ho on big, super-powerful nakeds - witness the Suzuki B-King and the delayed-but-still-on Yamaha V-Max. For 2008, even Honda are said to be working on the Hornet 1000, which will be powered by the current Fireblade's 170bhp inline-four. So how could Kawasaki not get into the fray? Yes, expect the Kawasaki Z1400 next year, which will use the ZZR1400's 200-horsepower engine and cutting-edge electronics. The bike takes styling cues from Kawasaki's own Z1000 and unlike the 1400GTR, retains chain drive. Should provide some serious fun!

In the meanwhile, Raptors and Rockets have some scoop pics of the KTM RC8 superbike (see below), caught testing. The KTM packs a 1200cc, 180bhp v-twin and is one of the most anticipated machines for 2008. Visit the official KTM RC8 website here.

A video of the amazing KTM RC8 in action!

The KTM RC8 Venom. GSX-R owners, beware!
pic: MCN

Also see:
First pics: 2008 Yamaha R1!
Face off: 1989 OW01 vs 2008 R1!
First pics: 2008 Yamaha R6 and R125...
K1000RS: New superbike from BMW in 2008!
The brilliant new Harley-Davidson XR1200!
Limited-edition MotoGP-replica Yamaha R1...
Quad magazine: Hot chicks / cool quads image gallery
Honda V4 revival in 2008-09?
The 2008 Benelli Tre-K 1130 Amazon
Scooter-cool from Tokyo...
Motorcycle USA shootout: 2007 GSX-R750 vs Daytona 675

Sunday, August 26, 2007

MotoGP: Dorna CEO says existing tyre rules may need to go!

The tyre rules have changed everything in the 2007 MotoGP season...

According to a report on the Speed TV website, Dorna may consider a change in tyre rules for the 2008 MotoGP season. Dorna CEO, Carmelo Ezpeleta says, ‘I am in agreement with Rossi that the tyre limitations are an error that must be solved.’ Ezpeleta has also said that the tyre companies – Michelin, Dunlop, and Bridgestone – are responsible for the current tyre rule, which was intended to cut costs and simplify things for racing teams as well as tyre manufacturers.

The tyre debate has raged for much of the 2007 MotoGP season, with various ‘experts’ offering various different opinions on why things have turned out the way they have. While Ezpeleta is said to have supported the current tyre rule earlier, he now says, ‘The brands [tyre manufacturers] have to reach an agreement on how they can change this – they have to make acceptable solutions if they want to avoid this becoming a single tyre championship.’

For more details on how the existing tyre rules work, the technical details and the full story on suggested changes, go to the Speed TV website here.

Update (22nd Sept., 2007): Dorna boss puts in formal request for one-make tyre rule for MotoGP!

Also see:
2007 MotoGP race reports, interviews and hi-res wallpaper!
Kevin Schwantz interviews Valentino Rossi
Giacomo Agostini: "Stoner is incredible, but don't forget Rossi!"
Who's the fastest motorcycle racer in the world?
Colin Edwards to go to Tech 3 Yamaha for 2008...
James Toseland wants to be the next Barry Sheene!

Star Motorcycles: V-Max launch delayed

Update (29th May 2008): 2009 Yamaha V-Max first pics and video here!

Nope, Yamaha say Mr Max isn't ready just yet...

While Suzuki have launched their "V-Max" this year – the rather ugly looking B-king – Yamaha’s Star Motorcycles division aren’t ready with their own bike yet. One of our readers – Mark, from Canada – sent us a link to this Star V-Max website, which quotes a press release sent out by Yamaha, addressed to their US dealers. And according to this document, the V-Max will only be ready by 2009.

The document says, ‘A Star Motorcycles V-Max Concept model was shown last year to gauge consumer response and acceptance. We are pleased to inform you that further development of this concept model will continue from our factory during the year ahead and be assured that we will do our best to keep you informed of its progress during this time.’ Going by this press release, Mr Max may not hit the road before 2009.

The Star V-Max website also talks about the new V-Max engine, which is expected to be an 1800cc v-four unit, producing more than 200 horsepower. If that’s correct, the B-King should start worrying about the 2009 Yamaha V-Max already…

A video of the Yamaha V-Max on display during the Paris Show in Sep. 2007

More of big and naked:
Awesome: The 2009 Suzuki Stratosphere...
British is bigger, British is best!
The 200bhp KRV5 Boardtracker!
Saxon Motorcycles: The Mad Jack...
Rapom V8: A supercharged, 1000bhp monster-machine!
No-nude policy: KTMs for women...
Radical Radial: JRL Cycles’ aircraf-engined chopper...
The mighty Munch Mammut TTS-E!
An amazing Alfa-Romeo powered bike...
New nakeds from Honda and Aprilia in 2008
Italian cruiser: The Moto Guzzi Bellagio
250bhp V-Quad Intel chopper!
The V-Max Roadstercycle...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Giacomo Agostini: 'Casey Stoner is incredible, but we must not forget Rossi...'

Agostini says Stoner is an incredible rider, but at the same time it would be foolish to write off Rossi!

According to MCN, multi-time motorcycle GP racing world champ, Giacomo Agostini is impressed with Stoner's performance this year. Speaking to MCN, Agostini says, 'Casey has surprised everyone because he is so precise. I remember when he crashed many times, but now he is so determined. He is incredible. Casey is a fantastic rider. Everybody says he has a good motorcycle and good tyres, but you need the rider too and Casey is very good. I’ve watched him and he is very consistent and very fast. He is incredible because it not easy to beat Valentino Rossi!'

2007 has been Casey Stoner's year. We don't think anyone can stop him from winning the world championship this year...

But Agostini also cautions those who're ready to write off Rossi. He says, 'We can’t forget Valentino Rossi. He is a multi-time world champion and we must remember that. When Valentino has the package he can still win, no problem.'

In the meanwhile, MotoGP teams are now preparing for the next race, which will take place at the Misano circuit in Italy. Stoner says, 'Misano will be a strange race because nobody really knows what it will be like to race a MotoGP bike around there. The track isn't too bad but I feel it needs to be improved because it's very bumpy, so it's going to be pretty loose on these bikes. We'll just have to wait and see how it goes – it could be good for us. I'm already very happy with the season, so I don't feel any more pressure.'

Also see:
2007 MotoGP news, race reports and hi-res wallpaper
Scoop pics of 2008 Kawasakis!
Colin Edwards talks about teammate Rossi...
New bikes from MV Agusta in 2008...
Dirtbike-based single-cylinder 450cc roadracers!
The Mick Doohan MotoCoaster!

MotoGP: Randy de Puniet signs contract with LCR Honda for 2008-09

Randy de Puniet will be leaving Kawasaki and joining the LCR Honda team for 2008 and 2009...
Kawasaki rider, Frenchman Randy de Puniet has signed a two-year contract with LCR Honda and will be joining the satellite Honda MotoGP team next year. Randy has raced with the LCR team earlier, in the 250cc class. Current LCR rider, Carlos Checa is said to be considering a move to WSBK in 2008, replacing James Toseland at Ten Kate Honda.

Current LCR rider, Carlos Checa may move to WSBK next year

While de Puniet will be leaving Kawasaki, Team Green have already signed John Hopkins as one of their riders for next year. The other seat at Kawasaki might be taken by Anthony West or, surprisingly, Shinya Nakano! Nakano is said to be looking at coming back to Kawasaki, as his place at Konica Minolta Honda may be going to young charger, Andrea Dovizioso, who'll be moving up from the 250cc class.

Friday, August 24, 2007

250 horsepower, V-Quad Intel chopper!

With a 250bhp V-Quad engine, the term 'Intel Inside' takes on new meaning...

Intel, and motorcycles? Er..., yes. The giant chopper you see here, has been built to 'celebrate' the Quad-Core Intel Xeon processor, and Intel's 30 years in embedded computing. The project was executed by Orange County Choppers, and features a 'V-Quad' engine – essentially two v-twin units joined together – which makes about 250 horsepower. The bike runs on massive wheels which wear 240mm (front) and 300mm (rear) tyres.

That's a 300mm rear tyre you're looking at. Ahem...

Since the bike has been built to celebrate Intel and its processors, it features an on-board computer, which controls the bike's GPS, wireless internet, audio/video and Bluetooth functions. The computer, built in conjunction with Black Diamond, operates through a touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard. And the brainy little thing doesn't even need a key to start the bike – it can boot up the motorcycle using fingerprint recognition technology!

More details and hi-res pics here.

Also see:
Jesse James' aircraft-engined chopper...
Derbi goes high-tech: The X-vision Mulhacen
MotoGP tech meets Boardtracker: The amazing KRV5!
Significant firsts in motorcycling...
Shelby & Rucker build unique 150bhp chopper
MAB's turbocharged BMW K1200R
Dainese’s RDRS data-logging system for motorcyclists...
Allen Millyard's amazing V12 Kawasaki!

Quad's the word: Gilera Oregon 250

The Gilera Oregon 25 quad. Stylish...

After the superb Fuoco 500 three-wheeled scooter, Gilera are now ready with their next offering – the Oregon quad. It's powered by a four-stroke, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 4-valve 250cc engine, which makes 18.6 horsepower at 7000rpm. The Oregon also gets a steel-tube chassis, disc brakes (two at the front, one at the back) and adjustable rear suspension. Top speed is close to 90km/h and the quad costs about US$8,000.

Vist the official Gilera website for more details.

More quads and trikes:
The Polaris Revolver Sport Quadricycle concept
The Naro 400 concept
The fast and frugal FuelVapor Ale!
The absolutely bonkers Carver One...
...and the even more insane Campagna T-Rex!
The KTM-based Brudeli 625L

Who's the fastest motorcycle racer in the world?

John McGuinness. One of the best road course motorcycle racers of our times. And probably the fastest man on two wheels in the world...!

Who's the fastest man today in motorcycle racing? Valentino Rossi? Casey Stoner? Dani Pedrosa? Er... no, it's actually multi-time Isle of Man TT winner, John McGuinness. With all their million-dollar exotica, the highest average lap speed attained by the men of MotoGP is around 205km/h. McGuinness, on his HM Plant Honda Fireblade, did an average lap speed of 209.33km/h around the Dundrod circuit, which is near Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Racing at the 85th Ulster Grand Prix, one of the oldest (and fastest...) motorcycle racing events in the world, McGuinness lapped the 11.84km Dundrod circuit at an average lap speed of 209.33km/h and... was still unable to win! Fellow Honda rider, Guy Martin edged McGuinness out by 0.05 seconds to win the Dundrod 150 Superbike race.

Says McGuinness, 'To be the fastest man around the TT course and now Dundrod, becoming the fastest man in the world in the process, is very satisfying and shows what I can still do!' Wonderful. Casey Stoner vs John McGuinness, anyone? :-)

More details on the 85th Ulster Grand Prix here.

Also see:
Stoner vs Rossi: The battle rages on...
James Toseland wants to be the next Barry Sheene!
Fast Past: 320km/h in 1956, on an NSU 500 Kompressor
Riding a supercharged Kawasaki ZRX1200...
MotoGP: It's all happening in the US now!
Buy your very own MotoGP bike now!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scooter chic in Tokyo!

Yes, scooters are definitely cool in Tokyo...

Italy rules when it comes to stylish scooters and motorcycles, but as usual, some of the coolest, weirdest two-wheeler images are served up by Japan. And apparently, what’s hot with youngsters in Tokyo right now are scooters. Not any old scooter of course – we’re talking about fully tricked out stuff here – lowered suspension, loud exhausts, fancy paint jobs and neon. Lots of neon.
For more pics, take a look at this Flickr photostream. And if you like scooters, you may also want to visit The Scooter Scoop.

More scooters:
Team Cristofolini Racing's 350cc, 112bhp scooter!
The Malaguti Phantom F12R Capirex
The feisty little Gilera Storm 50...
2006 MotoGP world champ, Nicky Hayden rides a scooter!
The Supercharged Peugeot Satelis 125...
The pathbreaking Piaggio MP3
The amazing Gilera Fuoco 500...

Memorable: The Bimota DB2

The 1993 Bimota DB2. Beautiful!

Based in Rimini, Italy, Bimota are one of those motorcycle companies that never seem to be doing very well. At any given point in time, Bimota have either gone bust, are in the process of going bust, being resurrected after having gone bust, or going bust again after having been resurrected! Their motorcycles have always been products of passion – beautifully designed and packed with top-spec components – but execution often leaves something to be desired. And the promises of performance are often left unfulfilled.

None of the above, however, takes away anything from the fact that Bimota have indeed made some brilliant motorcycles over the last two decades. Our favourites are the YB11, the YB6 Tuatara and the Furano. And, well, the DB2 wasn’t too bad either. Powered by an air-cooled, SOHC, two-valves-per-cylinder, 904cc, 90-degree v-twin sourced from Ducati, the DB2 was launched in 1993.

Other memorable Bimotas: The Furano (above) and....

...the SB6 (left), the YB11 (right)

With only about 80 - 90 horsepower (depending on which magazine road test you choose to believe…) available from the engine, the 168-kilo bike did not boast of a tyre-shredding power-to-weight ratio, but the beautifully crafted bodywork and high quality running gear made up for some of that. In any case, the DB2 did the quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds and had a top speed of 225km/h, so things were just about acceptable in the performance department.

Equipment was top-notch as usual – stiff and light steel-tube trellis frame chassis, Paioli forks, monoshock at the back, Brembo brakes and six-speed transmission. The bike was fitted with 17-inch wheels, wearing 120/70 rubber at front, and 180/55 at the back. Overall, handling was said to be very good, and definitely better than most Japanese supersport machines of the early-90s.

Today, a well-kept example would be hard to find, spares would not be available and Japanese 600s would blow a DB2 into the weeds. But for sheer Italian style and panache, the old Bimota might still be hard to beat…

More Italian exotica:
MV Agusta F4 CC: The most beautiful motorcycle in the world?
The amazing Ducati Desmosedici RR!
Legendary racer: The 1970s Laverda V6...
The 1950s Moto Guzzi V8
Now available: The Benelli Tre-K 1130 Amazon
MV Agusta F4 Senna. God's own motorcycle...
Istituto Europeo di Design: The World’s Most Beautiful Motorcycles!
Pierre Terblanche: Ducati 916 vs 999

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Q.Tec Engineering's Harley Specials

Q.Tec Engineering's Project Night Train (above) and (below, from left) Projects Dragster, Lucas and Trike

Sandy Poglavec, of Belgium-based Q.Tec Engineering, is a die-hard Harley-Davidson enthusiast and he specializes in building one-off Harley customs, including Harley-engined trikes and quads. Here you see pics of some of his current projects – the Night Train, the Lucas and the Dragster. For more details, tech specs and video clips, visit the Q.Tec Engineering website here.

Also see:
Quadzilla! The 2007 GG Quad...
Cool concept: The Polaris Revolver Sport Quadricycle
EZ Tuning's one-off streetfighters
2008 XR 1200: The coolest Harley ever?
From Belgium: The Krugger Goodwood
Twintrax: Dragster powered by two Harley engines!
Cracking Confederate: The F131 Hellcat

The V-Max Roadstercycle

What would the girlfriend have to say about this...?

What you see here is Fleming Engineering’s '34 Roadstercycle trike, fitted with a Yamaha V-Max engine and five-speed gearbox. All controls on this single-seater trike are handlebar mounted. The '34 runs 120/60-ZR17 Avon tyres at the front, while the rear is a monstrous 300/35-18 Avon Venom. Styling, in our opinion, is quite basic – one big engine sitting right up front and… very little else.

The engine looks impressive, but they could've worked harder on the styling

Fleming also make a Harley-engined trike – the '32 Roadstercycle. Both are street legal in the US and can be registered as motorcycles. More details and pics on the official website here.

More trikes:
The absolutely amazing Carver One!
Sexy, Italian and three-wheeled: The Gilera Fuoco 500
The KTM-based Brudeli 625L
Tiff Needell tests the awesome Campagna T-Rex
A trike from India...!
The 2008 Can-Am Spyder...

Book Review: Riding Man

Riding Man: A brilliant story of what it's like to go racing on the IoM...

Watching the Isle of Man TT races on television is, no doubt, absolutely fascinating. But for most of us, the idea of ever taking part is a bit scary. Or even absolutely terrifying. It’s a race where participants go around narrow, winding mountain roads at 300km/h, knowing they can crash into poles, trees and hedges. Or crash through walls and end up in somebody’s living room. Or even crash and fall off the mountainside and end up dead, or worse.

If there is one motorcycle racing event in the world for which we don’t have words with which we can even begin to describe the participants’ sheer skill and bravery, it’s the Isle of Man TT races.

Gardiner and his Honda CBR600 F4i racebike on the Isle of Man

Which is where Mark Gardiner comes in. Like us, he’s been fascinated with the IoM. And unlike us, he had the dedication and the gumption to pack everything in and head to the Isle of Man. Not just to watch, but to race. Riding Man is his story – a fascinating account of how one man puts his life on hold in return for a shot at going up against the IoM’s 60km circuit.

There’s no fancy sponsorship deals, no factory supported exotica, no celebrity circus here. Riding Man is a hearty, honest to goodness tale of one Joe Average living his dream of racing on the Isle of Man. Pithy and real, it’s a story of wit, riding skills and experience pitted against the treacherous, merciless IoM, a road course that’s claimed so many lives over the last 100 years.

Would you risk everything to go racing on one of the world's most dangerous road courses? Mark did, and he tells a compelling story...

Apart from the bikes and racing, the book also gives you a peek into life on the Isle of Man. For many of us, who’ve only seen TV clips of the IoM during TT week, Mark’s book lets you in on how things are during the other 355 days. The people, the workshops, the pubs, the “drinking culture,” and how the way almost everything on the Island seems to revolve around motorcycles and motorcycle racing.

If you’ve been fascinated by the IoM TT races, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of Riding Man. Unlike Mark Gardiner, most of us will never get to actually race on the Isle of Man. But the book tells us how it might have been, if we ever had that rare opportunity...

You can order your copy of Riding Man here. Also read about One Man's Island, the DVD which chronicles Mark's racing adventures on the Isle of Man, here.

All three pics used in this post were clicked by Peter Riddihough.

Also see:
John McGuinness wins 100th Anniversary Isle of Man TT Superbike race!
Frank Melling: Memories of the Isle of Man TT...
American Borders: A motorcycle misadventures journey
Across the US on mopeds...!
Who are your motorcycling heroes?
Get ready for the $10,000 speeding ticket!

MotoGP, Czech Republic: Rossi unable to make an impression at Brno

Casey Stoner: "There it is, I can see the world championship now!"

Given what’s happened over the last few races, we weren’t expecting any miracles. And none happened. Ducati rider Casey Stoner lead the race at Brno right from the beginning and finished in first place – this was his seventh victory of the season.

Suzuki rider John Hopkins, who’ll be moving to Kawasaki next year, rode very well to finish in second place, albeit almost eight seconds behind Stoner. Still, this was Hopkins’ best finish in MotoGP and if this recent improvement in his form continues, Kawasaki may have some good results to look forward to in 2008!

Nicky Hayden took third place at Brno, behind Stoner and Hopkins

Valentino Rossi, it seems, will indeed be unable to win the championship this year

In third was reigning MotoGP world champ Nicky Hayden, followed by teammate Dani Pedrosa. While Yamaha have been unable to make any progress, HRC finally seem to have pulled their act together.

Aussie Chris Vermeulen finished in fifth place, Capirossi – who’s moving to Suzuki next year – took sixth, while Valentino Rossi was in seventh place. His teammate Colin Edwards, who’ll move to the Tech 3 Yamaha team next year, did not finish the race due to engine failure. Overall, despite Brno being a superb circuit, we must say the Czech Republic MotoGP was the dullest, most boring race of the season so far.

For those who still care, Rossi is now 60 world championship points behind Stoner, who effectively seems to have won the 2007 MotoGP world championship already.

The women of MotoGP! The racing may have been dull, but at least Brno had other things to offer... :-)

Also see:
Superbike Planet: An interview with Kevin Schwantz
Yamaha TZR50: Mite is right!
Honda CBR600RR: The best middleweight sportsbike!
Canada: The worst place in the world for superbike riders?
Piega 1000: The rebirth of Mondial...
New bikes from MV Agusta in 2008...
Yamaha WRF450 vs Subaru Impreza!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Colin Edwards to join Tech 3 Yamaha for 2008!

Edwards is a good, smooth and sometimes fast rider. But can he win a race in MotoGP?

Earlier in the day, we did a post where Kevin Schwantz, talking to Superbike Planet, says ‘Colin Edwards needs to go where he can win. Wherever that is. It's obviously not at a MotoGP level…’ Now, MCN have confirmed that Edwards is going to Tech 3 Yamaha for the 2008 MotoGP season!

While 250cc world champ Jorge Lorenzo will be riding alongside Rossi next year in the Fiat Yamaha MotoGP team, Edwards will be partnering Brit James Toseland at Tech 3. Toseland and Edwards have earlier been teammates in World Superbikes, with the Castrol Honda team.

Edwards and Rossi have always gotten along well. Probably because Rossi knows he can beat Edwards easily. How will the Texan get along with Toseland, at Tech 3?

Edwards, speaking to MCN, says ‘I’m pretty happy with it. Actually, I’m excited. Yamaha basically said we’ll take care of you but we want you to ride for Tech 3. That was the scenario and I’m happy with that. I’ve always got on great with Herve [Tech 3 boss] and I know most of the guys in the team because I’ve been right next door to them. James and I get along great and we’ve been team-mates before. It will be an easier transition for him and I’ll share everything I’ve got with him to help him out.’

2008 will be Colin Edwards' last season in MotoGP...

Edwards also says he plans to wrap up his MotoGP career at the end of 2008, after which he may race in the AMA Superbike series in the US, with the Yamaha team, for another two years. Well, we think Colin Edwards is one of the nicest guys in MotoGP and he deserves good things happening to him. We, here at Faster and Faster, wish him all the best.

Get the full story at MCN here.

Also see:
The 2007 MotoGP season: Race reports and hi-res wallpaper
Back to the 80s: The Yamaha YZR500...
Rossi: 2008 and beyond...
Who are your motorcycling heroes?
James Toseland: The next Barry Sheene?!
NSU 500 Kompressor: 320km/h in 1956!
Canada: The worst place in the world for superbike riders?

Random Ramblings