Friday, December 21, 2007

MotoGP: Mat Oxley talks about the Yamaha YZR-M1

Can Yamaha build a bike which will let Rossi win races in 2008?

From Motociclismo comes this little report, where Mat Oxley – ex-racer and eminent moto-journalist – talks about the Yamaha YZR-M1. Says Oxley, ‘Yamaha has a mountain to climb in 2008. At the end of last season, the M1 was one of the slowest bikes on the grid, and also the most fragile. To return to its former glory, the M1 needs more horsepower, much more horsepower.’

‘Handling-wise, the M1 is agile, but it needs to make more power, and reliably so. In doing so, Yamaha may have to abandon their big-bang engine – which helps improve traction with its rider-friendly power delivery – but which also consumes more fuel and makes less horsepower,’ says Oxley.

During the 2007 MotoGP season, Yamaha worked hard to find more horsepower for their M1, but with little success. The pneumatic-valve engine, which was unveiled in September, also did not help. Rossi was quite frustrated with the engine, which broke down often, compounding his tyre problems. At one time, reportedly, Rossi even demanded that Yamaha should abandon their inline-four format and build an all-new V4 engine for more power and reliability.

With The Doctor having moved to Bridgestone rubber for 2008, the pressure will now be on him to perform. Rossi and Stoner are likely to be on a mission to beat each other next year, and it isn’t entirely clear whether Yamaha can actually build a bike which lets Rossi perform to his potential. Guess we’re in for one hell of a MotoGP season in 2008!

Also see:
HUGE collection of hi-res MotoGP wallpaper!
The evolution of MotoGP bikes...
Remembering Barry Sheene...
Honda RVF750R RC45: Most desirable Honda ever?
Face off: Kawasaki Ninja ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400!
In conversation with Loris Capirossi...

External links:
Would you ride a Hunk?!?! (Or the motorcycle with the world's stupidest name...)
Here's something for quad fans... and here's some more!
You'll love this Triumph Daytona 955i!

Pierre Terblanche leaves Ducati... to do boats!

The man responsible for the 999's styling is... leaving Ducati!

You either love the Ducati 999 or hate it – most people usually cannot not say anything about the bike’s styling. We are of the opinion that while the 999 wasn’t as conventionally good-looking as the 916 which it replaced, the Terblanche-designed machine was a bold, confident step forward for Ducati.

Anyway, Ducati have put the controversial 999 behind them – the new 1098 is everything the world wants Ducatis to be. And now, Pierre Terblanche is also all set to move on. Apart from the 999, it was Terblanche – design head at Ducati for 10 years – who did the Supermono, Multistrada, Hypermotard and the Sport Classic range. But he wants to set up his own design studio now, which is why he’ll be leaving Ducati at the end of this year.

Speaking to MCN, Terblanche said, ‘From next year, I’m free to pursue other interests. I’d like to do some new things – I’ll have a studio of my own, and while I’ll still do bikes I’d also like to work on some other things, maybe boats!’

More Ducati posts:
The Ducati Sport 1000 Biposto. Beautiful...
Ducati 1098 vs 999: Doug Polen decides!
Ducati PS1000 LE: Paul Smart rides again...
The endlessly amazing Ducati Desmosedici RR...
Face off: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo...

External links:
James Toseland gets new bike for Christmas!
Norway, Switzerland, Denmark and Finland are the least dangerous places for motorcyclists...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2008 CBR1000RR track test in Qatar

Yes indeed, that is how a Fireblade must be ridden!
Pics: Motoblog

The pictures you see here are of Special magazine’s Lorenzo Baroni, thrashing a 2008 CBR1000RR at the Qatar circuit. And as the elbow-scraping pics prove, he isn’t giving it any mercy. With its 177bhp inline-four, less weight (a 4kg reduction on the 2007 model…), reduced wheelbase, increased focus on mass centralisation and, umm…., interesting styling, the 2008 Fireblade could well turn out to be Honda’s new bestseller. The bike will be in showrooms by the end of January 2008, so watch out!

Also see:
2008 Yamaha R1 pics and specs...
2008 Honda CB1100R and Evo6. Stunning!
Extreme performance: 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Heavy hitter: 2008 Kawasaki ZZR1400!
First pics: 2008 Suzuki GSX-R750 and GSX-R600...
BMW get serious about performance: 2008 HP2 Sport...
2008 MV Agusta Brutale. Beautiful!

External links:
Veloce3: CBR1000RR-powered trike!
2008 BMW HP2 Sport: First ride...

Prefer Harleys to Hondas? Here's the excellent XR1200 in action!

2009 KTM RC8 Venom: Sheer, naked, fun!

The KTM RC8 Venom should be production-ready by 2009...
Pic: Dailymotos

First shown in 2004 as a concept bike, the KTM RC8 Venom is now said to be inching closer to going into production. With its 155bhp LC8 v-twin, top-spec chassis and suspension components, ergonomics that are less extreme than the fully-faired RC8 superbike, and 200kg wet weight, the Venom should be quite performance-packed. When it's finally launched (late-2009?), it should be interesting to see how it compares with the likes of the Aprilia Tuono and BMW HP2 Sport

More KTM posts:
NitroDuke: The world's fastest KTM!
Off the beaten track: KTM 950 Super Enduro R
KTM 990 SuperDuke R. Wildlife!
A KTM for women...
KTM 125 GP racer vs litre-class superbike!
2008 KTM 690-based sportsbike range...
Ready to rock: 2008 KTM 1190 RC8!

External link:
KTM get even more serious about racing...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Honda RVF750R RC45: The most desirable Honda ever built?

Forget the Fireblade, this is the Honda to have!

The Honda VFR750R RC30 was beautiful, boasted of perfect proportions, and actually won a lot of races everywhere it went. The NR750, with its oval pistons and space-age (for 1992…) styling, was properly exotic. But for us, the most desirable Honda ever built is the RVF750R RC45. Launched in 1994, the RC45 was a piece of HRC-magic for the street.

The bike had all the ‘right’ bits – fuel-injected, DOHC, 118bhp, 749cc V4, single-sided swingarm, six-speed gearbox, and aluminium twin-spar chassis. And as you’d expect, it cost a lot – about US$36,000 – which meant very few people could actually afford one. But then this wasn’t a pretend-racer. The RC45, only 200 units of which were ever made (!), was based on Honda’s super-exotic RVF750 endurance racebike. And while its 118bhp and 260km/h top speed in stock trim may not sound that impressive, in full race-fettled mode the RC45 made all of 190 horsepower…

With 190bhp in full race trim, the RC45 wasn't for the faint of heart...

American rider John Kocinski won the 1997 WSBK championship on the RC45 and the bike’s other major triumphs included Jim Moodie lapping the Isle of Man circuit in 18 minutes and 11.4 seconds, at an average speed of 199.12km/h, in the year 1999. Miguel Duhamel won the 1996 Daytona 200 on an RC45, and Ben Bostrom won the 1998 AMA Superbike Championship on the Honda.

Only 50 units of the RC45 ever came to the US, and 20 of those went to professional race teams, which’ll probably give you an idea of just how rare the machine would be today. The bike got some major revisions in 1998, including the single-sided swingarm being replaced with a dual-sided unit, and updated suspension and brakes.

Honda made the RC45 till 1999. Today, finding a used example in very good condition is usually extremely difficult. What a pity...

Honda made the RC45 only till 1999, after which the RVT1000 SP1 RC51, fitted with a 1000cc v-twin engine, took over. Today, depending on condition and the year of manufacture, RC45s go for anywhere between US$15,000-30,000! Can’t rustle up that kind of money? Download the demo version of Castrol Honda Superbike 2000 then, and make do with ‘riding’ the very memorable Honda RVF750R RC45, on your PC. And here's MCN's riding impression of the RC45...

Also see:
Honda V4 revival in 2009...?
Greatest 11s: Kawasaki ZZR1100 and Suzuki GSX-R1100...
Face off: Yamaha OW01 vs YZF-R1!
Hubless wheels on motorcycles...?
Memorable: Bimota SB6 and Suzuki GSX-R1100...
1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirttracker. Awesome!
The amazing Morbidelli 850 V8...

External links:
BMW HP2 Sport riding impression...

Monday, December 17, 2007

War of the Ninjas: Kawasaki ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400

The 1990s Kawasaki ZZR1100. Mysterious, black, very cool, very, very fast...

Now that Kawasaki have released the 2008 version of the ZZR1400, with which they’ve supposedly resolved the bike’s main problem – a lack of low-end stomp – is it now finally the greatest Ninja ever built? Twenty years from now, would people go all misty-eyed when they remember the 2008 Kawasaki ZZR1400 Ninja? Because they sure as hell do, when they talk about the original heavy-hitter from Kawasaki – the 1990s ZZR1100 Ninja.

Here on Faster and Faster, we’ve written about the endlessly fascinating ZZR1100 before. A peak power output of 123bhp [145bhp, claimed] and a top speed of around 275km/h don’t sound hugely impressive today, but back in 1990, the ZZR1100 must have been an absolute revelation. It was a worthy successor to the 1988 ZX-10 (110bhp, 250km/h top speed), which itself came after the 1984 GPZ900R (100bhp, 240km/h), the first truly ‘modern-era’ sportsbike from Kawasaki.

But coming back to the ZZR1100, how does the bike compare to the ZZR1400? Recently, we happened to come across a copy of the June 2006 issue of PB magazine, which has an excellent story on the two Ninjas. PB buys a much-used ZZR1100 for US$1,900 and their writer, Dale Lomas, rides it from the UK to Germany for the press launch of the ZZ41400. ‘It’s gritty, lumpy and thoroughly unsanitised. I love it and I hate it in one great, big, ambivalent, emotional gush,’ says Lomas.

The story moves to Germany, where Lomas meets Kawasaki’s Yuji Horiuchi, the ZZR1400’s Project Leader, and someone who had also worked on the ZZR1100. Talking about the ZZR1400, Horiuchi says ‘The new bike captures the spirit of the ZZR. We have built this as the benchmark. The flagship. This is Kawasaki!

Later, having ridden both bikes back to back, Lomas says ‘The old 1100 feels like a monster. It’s smooth, organic and torquey enough to spin the 170-section tyre if you’re not careful. You know you’re riding a powerful bike when you tootle the 1100 around.’

The Kawasaki ZZR1400. 200bhp, 300km/h top speed. It'll blow you into the weeds

Of the 1400, he says ‘By contrast, the 1400 feels like one of those big-capacity, small-output bikes that manufacturers pitch at the size-conscious Japanese market. All weight, no torque!’ Ouch! And wait, here’s more – ‘The most amazing thing about the new ZZR is the lack of ferocity below 5000rpm. Under this, it feels like a pussycat,’ says Lomas.

However, when he finally gets to fully open the taps on the 1400, there’s redemption in store for the ZZR1400. ‘The step in power at 6000rpm is like a sheer cliff, ascending a thousand feet into the clouds. This isn’t a bike – it’s a personal teleporter,’ gushes an obviously over-awed PB writer. ‘On cam, the ZZR1400 is an unstoppable force. The concentration required to use its power is draining. But it’s satisfying and life-affirming,’ is how Lomas sums it up.

Coming back to the ZZR1400’s lack of low-end torque, while the PB story is about 18 months old, Motorcycle-USA’s test of the 2008 ZZR1400 says, ‘After a few minutes in the saddle, it is easy to confirm the ZX [the ZZR1400 is labeled ZX-14 in the US] has tossed aside its velvet glove approach to making power for a more manic one, which culminates in a claimed increase to 203 horsepower.’

M-USA’s Ken Hutchison, who rode the 2008 ZZR1400, says, ‘Twist the throttle on this bike and it makes power with authority right out of the gate. No more easing into it, no more pussy-footing around. Hooligans will be happy to know it wheelies with less effort and speed-junkies will revel in the quicker acceleration once that light goes green. Kawasaki's department of mind-boggling motors has returned to its age-old philosophy of offering big, bad-ass bikes to those folks who like to let the good times roll.’

Great, so Kawasaki have cured the ZZR1400 and given it the low-end rush of power that you’d expect from their flagship sportsbike. Umm… but we still think the ZZR1100 is the cooler of the two. Certainly, the 1400 would be quicker, faster, and more powerful. It would also have better brakes and suspension. But for us, 123 horsepower and 275km/h in the year 1990 is a bit more impressive than a claimed 200bhp [usually 170 – 175 horsepower on the dyno, in most bike magazine tests…] and 300km/h in the year 2008.

If we could have a brand-new ZZR1100 today, we’d take that over the ZZR1400. And let’s just leave it at that…

More Kawasakis:
Kawasaki ZXR750: The real deal!
Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo: Blow hard...
Supercharged Kawasaki ZRX1200: Blown away!
Fast past: Gary Nixon rides the Kawasaki ZX-RR...
Faster and faster: Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo!
2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R: Extreme performance...
Face off: 1988 Kawasaki ZX-10 vs 2004 ZX-10R!

External links:
Bikers, you're going to love this!!
And here's something for fans of the Triumph Daytona 955i...
Motorcycle-USA: Ducati 848 first ride...