Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bad Buggy: The Fireblade-powered Rage R180RT

With 180bhp and 400-450kg kerb weight, this Rage R180RT is the right 'family car' for the Faster and Faster lot. Dunno what the family would say though...

It creators, the UK-based Rage Motorsport, say that the R180RT is ‘effectively three vehicles in one – an extreme performance road car, a track car, and an off road racer.’ We think this mad… creation, fitted with the 180bhp Honda Fireblade engine – is the ‘family car’ for those who’d rather have a litre-class superbike anyway.

Fully assembled, the R180RT costs about US$47,000 – quite a big chunk of money for a kit car! But then this car (okay, buggy...) is fitted with the Fireblade's 180bhp inline-four, mated to a Quaife six-speed (plus one reverse) manual-shift gearbox. The chassis is tubular spaceframe, which Rage claim has been ‘tested beyond FIA standards.’

The R180RT rides on 13-inch alloys, shod with Yokohama 185/60 (front) and 205/60 (rear) rubber. Suspension is double wishbone all around, with adjustable, gas-charged dampers. Steering is a rack-and-pinion arrangement, with 1.7 turns lock to lock. Kerb weight figures are not available, but we guess it would be around 400-450 kilos. So with 180bhp driving the rear wheels, performance should be eye opening…

While the R180RT is supplied to customers in tarmac trim, by replacing the road springs with off-road units, increasing the ride height and fitting off-road tyres, Rage claim that you will have a vehicle ‘that can offer WRC performance on a rally stage and the hill climbing ability of a mountain goat.’ You still don’t get a heater or a stereo though, so make up your mind if you really want one...!

Visit the Rage Motorsport website for more details.

Also see:
The Freddie: Retro SBK’s Freddie Spencer tribute...
Fight Machines' custom streetfighters: The gloves are off!
Quiet please! Put a lid on this...
Blown: 1983 Suzuki XN85 Turbo!
An Alfa Romeo motorcycle. Cool...!
Kettenkrad: The bike that's not afraid of SUVs!
KTM 125cc GP racer vs litre-class superbike...
Down memory lane: Remembering no.34, Kevin Schwantz!

External links:
The bike that can crush a truck!

And here's a Rage Buggy in action. This is a smaller, less powerful model and not the R180RT, but still looks like a huge amount of fun...

Stuntfest: Motocrossers take on Monster trucks!

Motocross bikes and monster trucks jumping over each other. Hairy!

Also see:
MotoGP bike vs 600-kilo bull!
KTM 990 Adventure takes on BMW R1200GS Adventure...
Face off: 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R vs Yamaha R1!
Yamaha RD500-based MotoGP replica...
Trike strike: The Suzuki TL1000-powered SUB G1!
Roehr Motorcycles: V-Roehr 1250SC to roll out by mid-2008...
1974 MV Agusta 500 GP racer vs 2007 Ducati MotoGP bike!

External links:
Ducati 1098R riding impression...
Custom-made neo-retro classics: Image gallery

Stock CBR600RR takes on Corona Extra's CBR600RR racebike here!

The Ducati 848 looks hot, but can it take on the 2008 GSX-R750? We'll find out soon...!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850: Holy Kaw!

The 160bhp Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850. Cool, eh?
Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Muzzy and Kawasaki had a strong partnership going, especially in the US. In the 80s, Rob Muzzy was tuning Kawasaki superbikes for Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey. Later, Muzzy-fettled ZXR750s and ZX-7Rs were raced successfully, and together, Muzzy and Kawasaki won a World Superbike title, four Daytona 200s, four AMA Superbike Championships, three AMA 750 Supersport crowns and an AMA 600 Supersport title. Not bad, eh?

In 1997, Muzzys Performance Products decided to do a special motorcycle that would be in the Honda RC45 league. The starting point was stock ZX-7Rs and the aim was to bring pro-racer superbike performance to the street. The 7R’s 750cc inline-four was bored out to 835cc, tolerances were blueprinted, and very high spec engine internals were used, resulting in 150-160bhp at the rear wheel! Apart from the 835cc engine, the Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850 also featured a heavily reworked chassis and high-end suspension components.

Only 50 of these Raptors were ever made, with each bike costing about US$18,000 – quite a bit back in the late-1990s. And this was without the optional single-sided swingarm, with pushed the price up to about US$20,000. Today, given that all the 50 bikes made would be more than 10 years old, a Raptor in mint condition would be hard to come by. If you can find one, it would probably cost somewhere in the region of US$25,000 or more, depending on the condition of the machine.

Some owners say that Raptor 850s can be a bit temperamental, and that the Muzzy Kawasaki is best suited to the track rather than the street. Also, we suppose parts would be hard to come by today, the bike would be difficult to maintain in top condition, and even if you throw a lot of money at it, the Raptor 850 probably still wouldn’t match up to current litre-class superbikes in terms of outright performance and handling prowess. Still, as a piece of 1990s race-bred exotica, we think the Raptor 850 is just so, so cool…

This is, supposedly, Mr Muzzy's very own 1994-model ZX-7R. It's got a close-ratio gearbox, flatslide carbs, carbonfibre bodywork, aluminum fuel tank, Muzzy road race Titanium exhaust (with jetting to match), shortened swingarm, and raised rearsets. A few years later, this machine probably formed the basis for the Raptor 850…

More Kawasakis:

Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo: Blow hard!
Memorable: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R...
Ninja Nation: 1988 Kawasaki ZX-10 vs 2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R!
Bring the bling: Roaring Toyz Kawasaki ZZR1400!
Allen Millyard's 2300cc, V12 Kawasaki!!
Kawasaki ZX-RR vs other MotoGP bikes...
Supercharged Kawasaki ZRX1200: Blown away!
Fast past: Gary Nixon rides Kawasaki's MotoGP bike...
Battle of the Ninjas: ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400!

Wild rides: MotoGP bike vs 600-kilo bull!

We really wonder which beast is harder to control!

So what’s tougher – riding a 150kg, 240 horsepower MotoGP machine, or trying to ride a rampaging 600-kilo bull? MotoGP bikes will accelerate from zero to 100km/h in about two seconds and from 100km/h to 290km/h in less than 10 seconds. Powered by 800cc, four-cylinder engines, these two-wheeled missiles will hit top speeds of about 340km/h and during high-speed corners, they can be leant over at angles of up to 60 degrees. Truly awesome. But how does MotoGP compare with professional bull riding (PBR)?

While MotoGP riders work with teams of highly skilled technicians who fine-tune the bikes the way riders want, professional bull riders don’t even get to pick their bull for competition events. Bull riders are randomly paired with available bulls, and during an event, they must ride the bull using only one hand. (During their rides – each of which lasts for eight seconds – riders are disqualified if they touch themselves or the bull with their free hand.)

Professional bull riding and MotoGP. See how the two sports are a bit similar...

In a competition, riders get points based on how difficult their bull is to ride – judges look for bulls with speed, power, drop in the front end, kick in the back end, directions changed and body rolls. (A body roll is when a bull is in the air and kicks either his hind feet or all four feet to the side.) On the rider’s part, judges look for good body position, constant control, and the ability to match moves with the bull.

Hmm… so let’s see. Though they won’t hit 300km/h, the bulls aren’t fitted with any kind of traction control or other electronic rider aids. Like a MotoGP bike, a bull might try to highside its rider. And while a YZR-M1 or ZX-RR will usually not try to trample and gore its rider to death, a bull just might do that. So would it be fair to say that professional bull riders are harder than the MotoGP boys? Er…, you decide!

Other wild rides:
War of the Kawasaki Ninjas: ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400!
Velocity Racing's 250bhp GSX-R1000 Turbo...
The fastest, meanest two-stroke sportsbikes ever made...
Mad Max's ride: Peugeot V6-powered monster-bike!
Bourget Shredder F-80: 425bhp, V8-powered quad...
Oil Rig: The amazing Neander Turbodiesel!
Rizla Suzuki: The HOTTEST rides in MotoGP!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Motoring magazine interviews Claudio Castiglioni

Mr Castiglioni. Likes good-looking women. Owns MV Agusta. Makes the most beautiful bikes in the world. Luckiest bloke around, eh..?

Cagiva have an agreement with an Indian two-wheeler manufacturer, Kinetic, who are now manufacturing the Mito 125 for Cagiva. These bikes are assembled at Kinetic’s manufacturing facility in Pune, India, and are then exported out of the country, to be sold in Europe and possibly elsewhere.

Recently, Pablo Chaterji, a photographer-journalist with a popular Indian automotive magazine – Motoring – traveled to Italy, where he met up with and interviewed none other than Claudio Castiglioni himself. Mr Castiglioni, of course, is the man who owns MV Agusta and Cagiva brands. Here are a few excerpts from what the great man had to say:

On selling off Husqvarna to BMW

Claudio Castiglioni: “This was a decision that we very carefully considered over a long while. Ultimately we decided that it was important to take care of our two important brands in the same way, and with equal attention. So we’ve decided to focus our attention mainly on the MV Agusta brand, and also on expansion of our brands.”

On the future of the F4

CC: “Our aim at MV Agusta is, of course, to make a product grow, but we don’t want to transform a product either. We would rather that the product evolved, rather than changed altogether. If a person bought an MV Agusta tomorrow morning, then five years later the bike would still be cutting edge. And even if we were to offer new models, then we would do so according to this policy.”

On his own role in the development of the F4

CC: “I was involved one hundred percent – from the conceptualization, to the first sketches to the finished product.”

On how it was to work with Massimo Tamburini

CC: “We worked extremely well together, as a matter of fact.”

On the possibility of MV making a supermotard

CC: “We may examine the possibility of getting into the supermotard segment, but if we did it, it would be according to our core values at MV Agusta. Firstly, of course, it would be different from anything else on the market. Secondly, it would be of higher quality and at a higher price as well, since we are essentially a luxury brand!

On MV's plans of getting into MotoGP

CC: “Not at the moment, no. I tell everyone that MV Agusta is the most historic name in motorcycle racing. We’re the Ferrari of bike racing. We will come back, of course, but we will come back to win.”

On whether he still rides

CC: “Yes, I do ride. My favourite bike is the Brutale, but for a rush of emotion, I ride the F4! I don’t go on long rides anymore though.”

On his favourite bike racers

CC: “My favourite riders are Rossi and Capirossi.”

On whether Rossi can win the MotoGP world championship this year

CC: “Well, he has Bridgestones now, so let’s see. But his engineers also have to work very hard, because his bike was just too slow [last year.] It was very bad!”

On his favourite cars

CC: “Well, I drive an Alfa Romeo 166 at the moment. I also have three Ferraris – an F40, which I think is the best Ferrari ever made, a Testarossa and a 360 Modena.”

Visit the Motoring website here

Also see:
Ariel Motorcycles: Revival on the cards?
Konica Minolta racer-rep Honda FireBlade...
Video: MV Agusta F4 R 312 in action!
Small fantasies: The Honda Dream 50R...
Britten V1000: The greatest motorcyle ever made!
Ducati's 2008 MotoGP Express starts rolling...
Cagiva Mito 500: The rumours continue...
Colnago: A Ferrari on two wheels!
Face off: 1974 MV Agusta 500cc GP racer vs 2007 Ducati 800cc GP racer!

External links:
On test: The Benelli TNT 1130 Cafe Racer!
Here's something for fans of custom cruisers...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stefan Nebel now official test rider for KTM RC8

Stefan Nebel, apparently a racer of some repute, is now official test rider for the RC8. Lucky man...!

As the RC8 gets closer to going into production, KTM are busy putting final touches to the bike, tweaking and tuning it to near-perfection, as befits KTM’s ‘ready to race’ ethos. For this, the Austrian company has now appointed two-time German superbike racing champ, Stefan Nebel as the official test rider for the KTM RC8.

Born in 1981, Stefan Nebel is, by his own admission, at home on tracks like the Nurburgring and Brands Hatch. He’s won the Superbike IDM series in 2003 and 2005, and has put in impressive performances in 24-hour and 8-hour endurance races at Le Mans and Suzuka. KTM say they are confident that Nebel, as a test rider, will be able to work with the company’s R&D division to further develop and refine the RC8.

More KTMs:
Brudeli 625L, a KTM-based trike!
KTM working on 2WD system for bikes...
A KTM only for women!
KTM 125cc GP racer vs litre-class superbike!
KTM's 2008 off-road range...
KTM's 2008 690 Duke, 690 SMC, 690 SMR and 690 Enduro!
The radical new KTM 690 Stunt prototype...
KTM 990 Adventure vs BMW R1200GS Adventure!

External links:
Washing your motorcycle is serious business...!!!
One more reason to love KTMs...

Here's the next Chris Pfeiffer (without helmet and leathers too!)
From: Motoblog

New Moto Morini 1200 Sport and Scrambler shown

The new Moto Morini 1200 Sport...

We don’t know how many bikes they sell (probably not too many…) every year, but for a small Italian company, Moto Morini keep showing new bikes on a fairly regular basis. After the dual-purpose (?) Granpasso, which Moto Morini showed last year, the latest bikes to be added to the company’s lineup are the 1200 Sport and the Scrambler, both of which are based on the earlier 91/2.

...and the MM 1200 Scrambler!

The two bikes were first shown at the Padova Motorcycle Show last week, and we must say, they look quite all right. Both bikes are fitted with Moto Morini’s 1187cc v-twin, which makes about 117 horsepower. The chassis is from the 91/2, front forks are Marzocchi units, and 17-inch wheels (the Scrambler uses a 19-inch front) are from Excel. The 1200 Sport is fitted with sport-touring rubber, while the Scrambler rides on off-road tyres.

In our opinion, both the bikes look good – the 1200 Sport’s blue and orange paintjob is reminiscent of Ford’s classic GT40 racecar, while the Scrambler’s more subdued black and white paintscheme looks good in a restrained, low-key way. Prices for the two bikes are yet to be announced, though production is expected to begin in March this year.

Update (9.11.2008):
Moto Morini Scrambler shown at the EICMA, to go on sale in Europe in February 2009

Also see:
2008 Buell Ulysses XB12XT launched...
Supermanx: One of the best cafe-racers we've seen...
HKC's US$150,000 hubless-wheeled cruiser!
In XESS: Honda CB1000R-based streetfighter from Italy...
Steffano Motorcycles’ Ducati 999-based Café9!
2008 KTM 990 Supermoto unveiled...
The very cool Benelli 899...
2008 Aprilia SMV750 Dorsoduro and FV2 concept!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Can Honda work the CB1100R magic once more?

On the left is the original 1980s CB1100R, and on the right is the AWESOME CB1100R concept, which we hope Honda will build next year. Come on Honda, do it!

Yes, we like the RC30, and we absolutely adore the RC45, which we think is the most desirable Honda ever made. But going back in time a bit further – the early-1980s – there’s another Honda that’s pretty special. Yes, we are talking about the CB1100R, which was first seen in various bike shows at the end of 1980. Honda sold this machine only so they could homologate it for racing, and between 1981 and 1983, only 4,050 units of this bike were produced.

The CB1100R was an evolution of the CB900F Bol d’Or, but the 1100R was fitted with a 1062cc inline-four, which made 115bhp at 9000rpm – not bad at all, eh? Outright performance is said to have been quite impressive, despite the 1100R weighing all of 253 kilos...

The homologation-special CB1100R was a bit special, and that's the way it remains even today...
Pics: PB mag forum

In keeping with the CB1100R’s racing pedigree, Honda fitted the bike with high-spec parts – upgraded suspension (front forks were air-assisted, though without the anti-dive plumbing that was in vogue in those days…), more powerful brakes (this was the first Honda with twin-piston calipers at the front), a 26-litre aluminium fuel tank, and handmade bodywork!

Compared with the 900F, the CB1100R engine used hotter cams and forged pistons, the bike was fitted with an upgraded close-ratio gearbox, and higher quality steel was used for fabricating the tubular chassis. On the flip side, this was still the early-1980s, and the 1100R had to make do with a box-section swingarm made of steel, and dual shock setup at the rear.

If Honda could do this CB1100R more than 25 years ago, why can't the CB1100R concept become production reality today? Because it uses parts that are too expensive, some say. Yeah, right!

Honda made two versions of the CB1100R – one with a full fairing and the other with only the top half. Most bikes were fitted with single seats, though a few also came with dual seats. With its gold-painted Comstar magnesium alloy wheels and distinctive red, blue and white paintjob, the CB1100R remains instantly recognizable even today. In fact, when Honda unveiled the CB1100R concept – which takes all its styling cues from the 1980s 1100R – last year, we thought it was one of the most stylish, best-looking, most lust-worthy concept bikes to ever come out of Japan.

Will Honda make the CB1100R again? Will the concept bike shown last year, translate into reality? We don’t know. There have been some reports saying that the new CB1100R will be too expensive for Honda to produce, that there won’t be enough takers, and it won’t make financial sense for Honda to build the bike. Well, how we hope all those reports are wrong! Come on Honda, you know you can work the CB1100R magic again. Just build it…

Blasts from the past:
Back to the '80s: The GSX-R saga begins...
Freddie Spencer: The Sultan of Slide!
Six Fix: The amazing Honda CBX1000...
Kawasaki GPZ750 Turbo: Blow Hard!
Memorable: The Norton F1 rotary-engined superbike...
Your game's oval: The amazing Honda NR750!
Memorable: The Suzuki Katana...
Three decades of Suzuki MotoGP bikes...
The story of the mighty Honda NSR500...
Memorable: The Yamaha YZR500!
Britten V1000: The GREATEST motorcycle ever made...
Performance Bikes: The BEST two-stroke sportsbikes ever made!

External links:
More on the 1980s Honda CB1100R...
Faster and Faster, on Flickr!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ariel motorcycles: Revival on the cards?

(Above) Renderings of how future Ariel bikes might look and (below, from left) the 1958 Ariel Leader, 1959 Ariel Huntmaster 650 and 1962 Ariel Arrow Super Sports

Based in Birmingham (and later, Coventry…) in the UK, Ariel used to make bicycles, motorcycles and cars. The company was actually formed way back in 1847 but went through some bust-revival-bust-again cycles. They made their first powered tricycle in the year 1898, and started making motorcycles in 1901, the first being fitted with a 211cc single-cylinder Minerva engine.

While Ariel did go on to make many other motorcycles – the Ariel Square Four, Red Hunter, Arrow, Fieldmaster and Huntmaster are some of their better-known models – it seems the company never really managed to do very well, and finally went closed shop for good in 1967. For those who are interested, the Ariel saga is on Wikipedia here. But what could be interesting for some Brit bike fans is that the Ariel name might actually be revived in some time.

According to a report on MCN, Ariel may be looking at making a comeback under the guidance of Simon Saunders, the man responsible for the Ariel Atom sportscar. Mr Saunders is thinking of reviving the Ariel name with a naked/streetfighter-style bike that may be powered by the Honda Fireblade engine, and which would feature Ariel’s own chassis and styling. Other possibilities include a battery-powered electric sportsbike and a lightweight machine that would be powered by a supercharged single-cylinder engine.

We don’t know about the Fireblade-powered streetfighter and the electric bike, but the supercharged single-cylinder sportsbike idea seems appealing to us. Do it, Mr Saunders!

Also see:
Konica Minolta-replica Honda FireBlade!
Rapom V8: Supercharged, 1000bhp megabike...
Fearsome: Supercharged Triumph Rocket III video!
NSU 500 Kompressor: 200mph, back in 1956!
Piega 1000: The rebirth of Mondial...
British is bigger, British is best...!!

External links:
Ariel motorcycles picture gallery...
Faster and Faster, on Flickr!
Ten days with a 1975 Kawasaki S3 Mach II...
Dainese test airbags for motorcycle racers...
Ducati 900 MHe image gallery

Think superbikes vs police helicopters is a bit far-fetched? See this!



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