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... ;-)

Stunning new Honda Evo6, CB1100R revealed!

This is the Evo6, powered by the Goldwing's 1800cc, six-cylinder engine. Yes!

(From left) The Honda Evo6, the CB1100F and the totally cool CB1100R

Perhaps the best retro-styled cafe racer ever - the Honda CB1100R!

Honda are ready for the 40th Tokyo Motor Show, which will be held in Japan from the 27th of October till the 11th of November 2007. And right now, they're giving you a sneak preview of what you can perhaps expect from Honda in 2008! The prototypes you see above - the Evo6, the CB1100F and the CB1100R - stand a good chance of going into production next year.

The Evo 6 is powered by the Honda Goldwing's 1800cc, six-cylinder engine and is likely to be a powerful beast. If the bike is actually produced next year, we suppose that six-cylinder engine will be in a much higher state of tune than it is in the Goldwing - the Evo6 should have no trouble taking on the Suzuki B-King, or even the Suzuki Stratosphere and the Yamaha V-Max, both of which are expected to come out in 2009.

Both the other two bikes are powered by 1100cc inline-fours and while the CB1100F seems to be a modern interpretation of a traditional 1980s UJM, it's the CB1100R which looks totally, radically hot! It has that 1980s, Freddie Spencer era Japanese cafe racer cool and we so love this bike. It's just so awesome!

Also see:
Pics and specs: 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZZR1400
What's the coolest motorcycle brand in the world?
First pics: 2008 Kawasaki sportsbike range...
2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R: Hot or not?
The awesome-looking 2008 Yamaha R1 revealed!
Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo: The quest for 320km/h!
First pic: 2008 Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR
The 2009 Suzuki Stratosphere 1100!

External links:
Yamaha also announce their Tokyo Show models...
Chinese motorcycles: Getting ready to take over the world?!
Tokyo drift: Amazing pics from Japan...

And this is the special edition 2008 Hannspree Honda CBR600RR!

Team Kenny Roberts may leave MotoGP, go to World Superbikes in 2008

Despite his very best efforts, Team KR just hasn't been able to perform in MotoGP this year. When it does manage to finish (which isn't very often...), Kenny's bike usually finishes dead last...

(Left) 500cc world champ in the year 2000, Kenny Roberts Jr. is not prepared to ride his father's bike anymore, saying it's not competitive at all. Younger brother Kurtis was drafted in as the replacement rider, but hasn't been able to do much either (Middle and right) Kenny Roberts was the man in his own racing days, winning 500cc world championships in 1978, 79 and 80!

Given his team’s complete failure in MotoGP this year and the fact that Honda will probably not supply him with engines in 2008, Kenny Roberts is reported to be considering a move to World Superbikes in 2008.

Kenny Roberts, who won the 500cc world championship in 1978, 79 and 80, and who’s been running his own racing team for the last two decades, says, ‘We have a factory and we have 30 people. We do some things in World Superbikes already, and if that were my only option, I’d have to take it. I’d like to have my guys working and keep the business intact.’

The World Superbikes series happens to be doing very well, with strong commitments from many manufacturers. Apart from the existing players – Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ducati – others are also looking at getting in. Aprilia, KTM, BMW and MV Agusta want to get involved and are already developing motorcycles for WSBK. So someone with Kenny’s experience could well look at hitching along with one of the new entrants.

‘I’ll have a business decision to take at the end of the season and see what we do,’ says Kenny, speaking to MCN. ‘We’d take a step back in terms of building what we do for our MotoGP project and transfer our knowledge that to whatever we could around the rules of World Superbikes,’ he adds. We, at Faster and Faster, admire his spirit and his commitment to motorcycle racing and we wish King Kenny the very best in whatever he chooses to do.

Also see:
2007 MotoGP race reports, features, interviews and hi-res wallpaper
MotoGP: 250cc class to make way for 600cc four-strokes in 2010...
Are electronics ruining MotoGP? Riders speak out!
Colin Edwards: "Yamaha know they have to improve!"
Video: Suzuki RG500 Barry Sheene replica...
Who's the fastest motorcycle racer in the world?
Kevin Schwantz interviews Valentino Rossi!
Who are your motorcycling heroes?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

MotoGP: 600s to replace 250s in 2011

From two-stroke 250s.... four-stroke, production-based 600s in the year 2011!

The 250cc two-stroke GP racing motorcycle is all set to become history. The 250cc class will be replaced by production-based four-stroke 600s in 2011, and according to a report on MCN, technical rules for the new class are now being finalized.

While European manufacturers like KTM and Aprilia, whose machines continue to do well in the 250cc class, are not too happy with the proposed move, Honda are said to be pushing for the change – HRC have already announced they will cease production of all two-stroke machines at the end of the 2009 racing season.

Speaking to MCN, KTM designer Harald Bartol says, ‘Technically I have no problem with it. I will build a four-stroke. I don't care. But I have a problem with whether it is good for racing. The costs will explode. As of now, 125s and 250s for growing up in racing and coming to MotoGP is the best situation. If we go to 600s, this is bad for racing. I am not sticking to two-strokes, but it should be a proper race bike. Not donkey racing with a 600!’

While technical regulations for the proposed 600cc class are yet to be finalized, the bikes are likely to have four-cylinder, 600cc, production-based four-stroke engines. Fancy engineering bits like oval pistons, pneumatic valve operation systems and variable valve timing will not be allowed, at least to begin with, and the bikes would be required to run on standard unleaded petrol.

Manufacturers would be free to use non production based chassis (and suspension?), minimum weight limit for four-cylinder bikes will be 155kg (bikes with one, two or three cylinder 600cc engines may have a lower weight limit, which is yet to be decided) and carbon /carbon composite brakes and wheels will not be allowed.

Here at Faster and Faster, we love two-stroke 250s like the Suzuki RGV250 and the Aprilia RS250, and we agree that the demise of racing 250s would be a sad thing. But in the larger scheme of things, we also feel that racing bike development should ultimately lead to better sportsbikes for the street. In that context, 600cc four-strokes replacing 250cc two-strokes may be a step in the right direction…

Also see:
Aprilia RS250-based RSV-R 550!
Dirtbike-based single-cylinder 450cc roadracers...
Memorable: NSU 500 Kompressor - 200mph in 1956!
2007 MotoGP race reports and hi-res wallpaper
Bikes and babes: Hi-res wallpaper!
An interview with Wayne Gardner, 1987 500cc world champ!
Who's the fastest motorcycle racer in the world...?
DVD Review: Riding solo to the top of the world

External links:
When Bugatti made biycle engines: The 10cc, supercharged T72!
Amazing BSA pic: Girl on a motorcycle...

...and just in time for Dorna's new plans for production-based 600cc four-strokes, here are some pics of the 2008 Suzuki GSX-R600! And we think it looks good!
Pics: Motociclismo

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Face off: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera!

Superbike vs supercar? Yes indeed, those Fifth Gear guys are at it again! And this time it's Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. What an absolute blast...! Ducati 1098R Ducati 1098R Ducati 1098R