Tuesday, September 25, 2007

TWO magazine: In conversation with Jeremy Burgess

From Mamola to Doohan to Rossi, Jeremy Burgess (above) has worked with them all...

In its October 2007 issue, British motorcycle magazine TWO has interviewed Jeremy Burgess, crew chief at the Fiat Yamaha MotoGP team. Burgess, an Australian, used to race motorcycles in the late-1970s and started working with Suzuki’s grand prix racing team in 1980. He’s been working on making racing bikes go faster for the last 25 years now and he has certainly played a big role in Valentino Rossi’s successes over the last seven years. (And, er..., perhaps also his rather disastrous 2007 season?)

Anyway, here are some excerpts from the interview:

On his job being glamourous
Jeremy Burgess: “I think any job where you enjoy it, must be glamourous. I guess I see Valentino Rossi for two hours, three days a week, but I wouldn’t use the word ‘glamourous.’ It’s an exciting job.”

On not getting enough sleep…
JB: “We were developing the new full floater suspension system for Randy Mamola’s Suzuki RG500, at Paul Ricard in 1980. We were also changing the chassis at the same time and we had serious issues with crankshaft bearings. We got a total of four hours sleep over those three days!”

On working with Valentino Rossi and Mick Doohan
JB: “Our disagreements aren’t as black and white as they were with Mick Doohan. Valentino is very receptive to my suggestions, whereas with Mick, you’d have to do it his way first and then you could try your way if his didn’t work.”

On Rossi and Doohan being two different kinds of people
JB: “Mick was a very intense person. Valentino is in many ways as well, but on the outside Valentino has a sort of calmness in his presence, which Mick seemed not to have. Mick was very tough on his rivals and that’s where Valentino seems to be more relaxed. But times have changed. You look at Doohan today and you wouldn’t know him as the same person.”

On how Yamaha and Honda are different
JB: “Yamaha are country people and easy to get on with. Honda people are more like city folk.”

On how things have changed in grand prix motorcycle racing
JB: “Now there’s some organization in the scheduling [of practice sessions.] It used to be chaotic, and with independent promoters doing things in different ways, it was very difficult on the teams. And the machinery wasn’t as reliable then, so you were forever pulling things apart, working 16-hour days just to get through…”

Buy the October 2007 copy of TWO magazine for the full interview. Apart from other good stuff, it has two stories which we thought were superb – a feature on the 20 greatest bike races ever, and a shootout between the Kawasaki ZZR1400 and ZZR1200!

Also see:
2007 MotoGP race reports and hi-res wallpaper!
Yamaha and Suzuki test 2008 MotoGP bikes...
Fast past: Suzuki GSX-R1100 and Bimota SB6
Face off: 1989 Yamaha OW01 vs 2008 Yamaha R1!
Riding tips from Superbike magazine...
1952: When Ducati made scooters!
Who's the fastest motorcycle racer in the world?

Kawasaki GPZ900R-powered Fiat 500!

No Fiat 500 ever sounded like this...!

Remember the Ducati 999-powered Fiat 500 we wrote about last year? Well, if that wasn't enough, here's yet another Fiat 500 and this time, it's powered by a Kawasaki GPZ900R engine! The car is a bit tatty and isn't much to look at. But just listen to the way it growls... :-D

Also see:
Memorable: The Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo
Face off: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera!
Smackdown: Honda Fireblade vs Honda Civic Type-R...
0-160-0km/h times: A1 GP racing car vs Suzuki GSX-R1000!
Volkswagen GX3: People's car? Not this one!
Radical: The amazing KTM X-Bow...
Air-power for bikes in the near future?

External links:
Cycle World: 2007 Benelli Tre-K first ride
Twin cylinders: Scientists discover the formula for perfection...

A Honda Goldwing quad...

...and a Ducati 916 / Honda CBX hybrid?!? Amazing, eh? More details on The Kneeslider here and here

Monday, September 24, 2007

First pics: 2012 Yamaha, Honda, Ducati MotoGP bikes!

MotoGP bike development to peak by 2012, will culminate in these machines?

These are the first pics (scoop shots, sneak previews etc...) of the 2012 MotoGP bikes from Yamaha, Honda and Ducati. 2007 MotoGP world champ, Casey Stoner has already started testing the machine which he expects to be riding five years down the line and he doesn't seem too unhappy with it! Colin Edwards has already started on his new fitness program and he expects to be ready for these new bikes by 2012.

Rossi has, reportedly, said he's confident of being able to match Stoner's pace and that Yamaha only need to make minor adjustments to the pedals. Hayden and Pedrosa, in the meanwhile, are still said to be struggling with grip issues...

...and it's not just Yamaha, Honda and Ducati. Aprilia have also started development work on their MotoGP bikes, though things are still at a more... ummm.., basic level right now!

Jokes apart, Yamaha and Suzuki have indeed started testing their 2008 MotoGP bikes. Rossi tested the prototype version of Yamaha’s 2008 YZR-M1 at Motegi. The bike features a new chassis, swingarm, bodywork and seat unit. However, Yamaha’s pneumatic valve engine for 2008 still isn’t ready, and is only expected to be ready for testing by the end of next month.

Suzuki also tested their 2008 GSV-R MotoGP bike at Motegi, with their development rider Nobuatsu Aoki (who also has a wild card entry at the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang this year…) putting the bike through its paces. The 2008 GSV-R features new bodywork, new exhaust system, revised chassis and various redesigned / repositioned components.

Stay tuned for further developments...

Nobuatsu Aoki (above) tests the 2008 Suzuki GSV-R...

...while Rossi (centre and right) evaluates the 2008 Yamaha YZR-M1

Also see:
Motegi, Japan: Casey Stoner is 2007 MotoGP world champ!
Rizla Suzuki: The best pit babes ever?
Fearsome: The 1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker!
Evo6 and CB1100R: Stunning new Hondas revealed!
Fifth Gear video: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera!
DVD review: Riding solo to the top of the world
Cool concept: Yamaha Air Tricker...
Book review: Riding Man
Casey Stoner unveils "motorcycle of the future!"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Casey Stoner wins 2007 MotoGP world championship at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, at Motegi!

Casey Stoner is the 2007 MotoGP world champ!

Loris Capirossi won his third successive Japanese Grand Prix, Stoner finished ahead of Rossi to take the world championship and Nicky Hayden finally bid goodbye to his crown...

In 1987, it was an Australian – Wayne Gardner – who won the 500cc motorcycle grand prix racing world championship. In 1997, it was an Australian – Mick Doohan – who won the 500cc world championship. And in 2007, it’s again an Australian – Casey Stoner – who’s won his first MotoGP world championship! Yes indeed, Stoner, who finished in sixth place at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, at the Motegi circuit, is the new world champion. The best that Valentino Rossi, who finished down in 13th spot, can now hope for is 2nd place in the 2007 MotoGP world championship.

The Japanese MotoGP started with all the riders having opted for wet tyres, and initially, it was Stoner and Melandri at the front, followed by Rossi. Within a few laps, Melandri managed to get past Stoner and soon, Rossi also caught up with the leading duo and took the lead.

However, by the time Rossi got to the front, the track had started to dry up and many riders had already changed bikes, moving to slicks. Of course, Rossi also had to come into the pits and change bikes – moving to one fitted with slicks. And from that moment, his race was finished. The Michelin slicks – especially the front tyre – did not seem to be working at all, and Rossi simply couldn’t keep up with the rest of the pack. He continued to ride though, ultimately finishing in 13th place.

Honda Gresini's Toni Elias finished in third place, Yamaha Tech 3's Sylvain Guintoli was fourth, while Gresini's Marco Melandri finished ahead of Stoner, in fifth spot

In the meanwhile, Loris Capirossi – MotoGP winner at Motegi in 2005 and 2006 – turned out to be the man whose timing was best. Having changed bikes at just the right time, Capirossi found himself in the lead and he made the best of it, taking his third successive win at Motegi in the process!

In second place was Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet (taking his first MotoGP podium finish…), followed by Honda Gresini man Toni Elias in third place. Fourth went to Yamaha Tech 3’s Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri finished in fifth place – talk about the ‘wrong’ Hondas and Yamahas finishing in the top five! Dani Pedrosa crashed out of the race on lap 15, while ex-world champ Nicky Hayden finished down in ninth place.

While the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan wasn’t a very exciting race, it marked the crowning of Casey Stoner’s moment of glory – the young rider from Australia has worked hard, ridden brilliantly, got outstandingly good results consistently and has beaten the best of them. A truly deserving world champion if ever there was one.

Kawasaki rider Randy de Puniet took his first ever MotoGP podium, finishing second in the 2007 Japanese MotoGP!

Also see:
Bikes & babes: Hi-res wallpaper on Flickr!
2007 MotoGP race reports, features, interviews and hi-res wallpaper
Pit chicks: Hi-res Rizla Suzuki wallpaper!
Fast past: Suzuki GSX-R1100 and Bimota SB6
Fifth Gear video: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera!
The coolest motorcycle brand in the world is...?
Hubless wheels on motorcycles: The ultimate fashion accessory?
First pics: 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R...
First pics: 2008 Yamaha R1!
First pics: 2008 Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR...

External links:
A trip to Ueno, the 'motorcycle district' of Tokyo!
Rossi tests 2008 Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike in Japan...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

MotoGP: Hi-res Rizla Suzuki wallpaper bonanza!

With Dani Pedrosa starting from pole position, Stoner having his first MotoGP world championship to win and Valentino Rossi wanting to delay Stoner's moment of glory by a few more days, there sure is going to be fireworks at the Japanese MotoGP tomorrow, at the Motegi circuit. While we wait for the action to begin at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, enjoy these pics from Rizla Suzuki. Hopkins and Vermeulen may not be winning any world championships this year, but the Rizla Suzuki girls absolutely rock...!

Pics: Rizla Suzuki

More MotoGP:
2007 MotoGP race reports, features, interviews and hi-res wallpaper
MotoGP: Electronics vs rider skill...
MotoGP: Dorna CEO says tyre rule may be changed for 2008...
Giacomo Agostini: "Let's not forget Rossi!"
Superbike Planet interviews Kevin Schwantz...
Kevin Schwantz interviews The Doctor!
Colin Edwards: "Rossi is sly, undercover..."
James Toseland: The next Barry Sheene..?

External link:
Cycle World video: 50 Years of Yamaha...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fearsome: The 1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker

The TZ750 dirt-tracker had a 750cc, two-stroke engine that made 120bhp. And no front brakes!

You’ll often hear that the 1970s and 80s 500cc GP racing bikes were ‘evil’ and extremely difficult to ride. And indeed, they must have been that way. But even more than those GP bikes, it was perhaps the 1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker, which the most ‘evil,’ most terrifying competition bike ever built. The TZ750 dirt-tracker was powered by Yamaha’s liquid-cooled, four-cylinder, 750cc two-stroke engine that made about 125 horsepower. Oh, and no brakes at the front…

Before he won successive 500cc road racing world championships in 1978, 79 and 80, ‘King’ Kenny Roberts was dirt-track racing in the US. Riding for Yamaha, he won the dirt-track AMA Grand National Championship in 1973 and 74, despite his bike being less powerful than the competing Harley-Davidson XR750 machines. Roberts made up for that power deficit by riding harder than everybody else, which made for some spectacular racing on the dirt ovals of America.

Says Kenny Roberts about the TZ750 dirt-tracker, 'You had to throw it sideways at 150mph [240km/h] to get it slowed for corners...'

In 1975, Yamaha tried to find a solution to their power deficit and fitted their dirt-tracker with the 120 horsepower engine from their TZ750 roadracer. The result was a monstrous, nearly uncontrollable machine. However, in August 1975, Roberts rode this TZ750 dirt-tracker at the famous Indy Mile dirt-track oval, winning the race ahead of Jay Springsteen and Corky Kenner.

He later admitted that the TZ750 dirt-tracker, which could hit speeds of up to 240km/h on the straights, was too scary even for him. ‘They don’t pay me enough to ride that thing,’ said King Kenny, and within a few weeks, the AMA went on to ban the TZ750 engine from dirt-track racing – that was the end of the machine’s short-lived dirt-track career.

The TZ750 dirt-tracker only won one race in 1975, but will still be remembered forever

Today, how does Roberts remember his old steed? Says The King, ‘You had to throw it sideways to get it slowed for the corners. There weren’t a lot of riders who could throw it sideways at 240km/h.’ Amen…

Also see:
The MotoGP-powered KRV5 board-tracker...
Superb: The 2008 Harley-Davidson XR1200!
Memorable: The mighty Yamaha YZR500...
Memorable: The Yamaha RD500LC
Face off: 1989 Yamaha FZR750RR vs 2008 Yamaha R1!
Bikes & babes: Hi-res wallpaper...
2007 MotoGP race reports, features, interviews and hi-res wallpaper
Are electronics ruining MotoGP...?
Team Kenny Roberts to leave MotoGP, go to World Superbikes in 2008

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fast Past II: Suzuki GSX-R1100 and Bimota SB6

Late-1990s Suzuki GSX-R1100. The ultimate big-bore sportsbike from Japan?

Though the Kawasaki ZZR1100 was the undisputed top speed king through most of the 1990s, the Suzuki GSX-R1100 (which was launched in 1986, before even the ZX-10 came out…) was never too far behind. And for many, the Big Gixxer’s bad-boy image and raw, visceral performance put it ahead of the smoother, rather more civilized ZZR1100.

Though it was initially powered by an air-and-oil cooled inline-four, by 1993, the GSX-R1100 had a liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve 1074cc inline-four, which made a claimed 155 horsepower at the crank. (Most experts say actual power output was in the region of 125 - 130bhp.) The bike weighed 224kg dry, cost less than US$10,000 and was the big ticket for riders who wanted brute power and lots of speed.

You know you wouldn't want to spill the Gixxer 1100's pint...

In fact, while most riders and magazine journalists praised the 1100’s power, they were less than happy with its braking and handling abilities. GSX-R1100s were essentially big and heavy, which put a lot of stress on the bikes’ chassis (which was prone to flex) and suspension.

Suzuki stopped making the GSX-R1100 after 1998, though its smaller brother, the GSX-R750 continues to this day. The 1100 was replaced by an all-new GSX-R1000 in 2001, and as you would expect, the new bike was lighter, more powerful, faster and better handling than any GSX-R1100 ever made. That said, the 1100 still has a dedicated fan following and for many years, the big Suzuki was a popular choice for streetfighter conversions.

GSX-R1100 not exotic enough? Get the Bimota SB6 then!

But the GSX-R1100 story has another chapter – one that was written in Italy. In the mid-1990s, Suzuki used to supply Bimota with the GSX-R1100 engine, around which Bimota built the now legendary SB6. About three times as expensive as the GSX-R1100, the US$35,000 SB6 was fitted with a slightly modified version of the GSX-R1100 engine, with Bimota using their own cams, exhaust system and some other components. The result was a claimed 156 horsepower – about 20 more than the GSX-R1100.
Of course, Bimotas always had top-spec chassis and suspension parts and the SB6 was no different – light and stiff aluminium alloy chassis (which used Bimota’s ‘Straight Connection Technology’), 46mm cartridge Paioli forks, fully adjustable Ohlins shock, Brembo brakes, 17-inch magnesium wheels and various carbonfibre bits.

The Bimota SB6 was the last word in 1990s' Italian superbike exotica...

There was no pillion seat, which was just as well given that the bike was fitted with twin underseat exhausts – you wouldn’t want your passenger to end up with a burnt bum! At 190kg dry, the SB6 weighed about 35 kilos less than the GSX-R1100 and its handling was in a different league altogether. Top speed, at around 280km/h, was also slightly higher than the heavier GSX-R1100’s top whack, and according to a bike magazine test report, the SB6 would do the quarter-mile in 10.6 seconds.
Bimota made a total of 1744 units of the SB6 (also taking into account 600 units of the 1997 model SB6 R), and this was one of the best selling Bimotas ever. Today, Bimota seem to be in the doldrums. The Tesi 3D is quirky and eccentric at best, while the DB5, DB6 and SB8K simply aren't exciting enough. The Ducati / Suzuki engines they use are outclassed by the latest, greatest superbikes from Japan and even in terms of chassis, suspension and styling, Bimotas simply aren't what they used to be.
Perhaps what Bimota should do is take the latest Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine, hire the guy who designed the Ducati 1098 and build an all-new superbike for 2009? Maybe it'll happen sooner than you think... ;-)



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