Saturday, January 19, 2008

MotoGP: Yamaha reveal 2008 M1, Rossi hopeful of making a comeback

New bike, new team-mate and new hairstyle. Can the 'new' Rossi-Yamaha combo beat Stoner and co. this year? 2008 will probably be Rossi's toughest year ever...

Yamaha recently unveiled the 2008 M1 MotoGP racer – a machine with which we suppose they’ll hope to make a comeback this year. The two machines – no. 46 for The Doctor and no. 48 for Jorge Lorenzo – will have to be something special if they’re to go up against the very formidable Stoner-Ducati GP8 combo.

Rossi, for one, seems to think things might finally be moving in the right direction for Yamaha. ‘In the first test, we just tried to adapt to our new motorcycle tyres, but from the beginning I was glad of our decision. It is a big change, but I am optimistic for the challenge. In Jerez, I led with the latest specifications, including the new electronic mapping, and my first impressions were quite positive, although of course we still have a long way to go,’ said The Doctor.

Rossi, five-time MotoGP world champ, has not been able to get his act together for the last two years. This year, he perhaps faces the biggest challenge of his life, as Suzuki and Kawasaki are catching up, Honda are putting in a huge amount of effort and Ducati seem to be strong as ever, if not stronger. ‘We have to devote a lot of time to understand Bridgestone as much as possible, to ensure that our bike functions than with the new tyres. We must also devote much time to the development of the new engine and improve the speed,’ says Valentino.

About his imminent retirement from MotoGP, The Doctor says, ‘Don’t even think about it! I don’t understand why everyone is asking me about this. 2008 is an important year, and we must return to being competitive. I will be competitive and I can win. I dream of reaching the end of my career at Yamaha, and I think it’s a dream that we can achieve.’

‘We come from two difficult years and we face a tough job, but the team is fantastic, we have all the right people in the right place and we have good potential. 2007 was unfortunate, but in 2008 we should have learned from the mistakes of last year. Last year, Stoner won many races, but I hope we have a more balanced season this year. Me, him and Pedrosa will be the most competitive for the title, and then there could be surprises from my fellow teammates Lorenzo and Dovizioso,’ concludes the man whom we still think is the most talented MotoGP rider among the current lot of racers, Stoner included.

Also see:
MASSIVE collection of hi-res MotoGP wallpaper!
Kevin Schwantz interviews Valentino Rossi...!
Who's the fastest motorcycle racer in the world?
Colin Edwards talks about The Doctor...
Barry Sheene tribute: The coolest paintjob in MotoGP...

External links:
Bike Expo: 2008 Aprilia image gallery...
The Darth Vader collection: Some very interesting helmets!

2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 vs Suzuki Hayabusa. The ultimate bikes, the ultimate face-off. This, indeed, is the big one. Get the story on Motorcycle USA here
Pics: Motorcycle USA

Friday, January 18, 2008

Small Fantasies: The Honda Dream 50R

The 1962 Honda RC110 racer - the Dream 50R's spiritual predecessor!

Back in 1962, Honda had let loose with their first four-stroke, 50cc racebike – the RC110. Its single-cylinder, DOHC engine revved to 14,000rpm and produced 9.5 horsepower. Soon after that, Honda came out with the RC111, which was designed specifically for the Isle of Man TT races. With its 8-speed gearbox (9- and 10-speed gearboxes were optional…), this mighty mite revved all the way to 16,000rpm and could hit speeds of up to 145km/h!

Then, as now, enthusiasts lusted after racing exotica from Japan. But while the RC110 and 111 were definitely not for sale, you could buy the CR110 Cub Racing – a street-legal RC110 for all intents and purposes. The bike was fitted with a dry clutch, 8-speed gearbox and a DOHC, 4-valve, 50cc engine that revved to 13,500 rpm.

The 2004 Honda Dream 50R was built to celebrate Honda's early years in racing

In 2004, Honda decided to commemorate their racing history and released the Dream 50R, which was styled like the company’s racebikes from the 1960s. A high-tech piece of machinery, the 50R was fitted with a six-speed gearbox, four-stroke, 50cc engine that made 7bhp@13,500rpm, and various HRC parts including valve springs, low-friction cam chain, crankshaft and lightweight AC generator.

In the chassis department, the Dream 50R got a tubular steel frame, and preload adjustable Showa suspension units at both ends. Aluminium fenders were fitted for weight reduction (the bike weighs a mere 70 kilos…), and the bike’s exhaust system featured a one-piece expansion chamber and muffler. Finally, unlike the 1960s racebikes, the Dream 50R – which rides on 18-inch wheels – was fitted with disc brakes, front and rear.

So what does one do with a Dream 50R? Even if it were street legal (which it isn’t), it won’t keep up with modern 125s, let alone anything bigger. And if you’re riding one on a trackday, anyone and everyone – unless they’re riding an electric scooter – will blow you into the weeds. But still, we reckon the 50R probably offers a rare peek into the fascinating world of 1960s HRC racebike exotica. For some, we suppose that would be enough.

Also see:
Rossi-replica NSR500. The BEST race-rep in the world...!
The 2008 Honda CB1000R. Awesome!
RVF750R RC45: The most desirable Honda streetbike ever built?
From Italy: The Honda CB1000R XESS!
Memorable: The six-cylinder Honda CBX1000...
Your game's oval: The Honda NR750!
HRC: Saga of the mighty Honda NSR500!
Stunning new Hondas: CB1100R and Evo6...

External links:
Urban Guerrilla: Tips for riding in the city, from Sport Rider magazine...
The best things in life: Bikes, beer and...
2008 Moto Morini image gallery!

This video shows why Hondas are so much fun... :-)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ablative Design and Swann Insurance: Promoting motorcycle safety

Sponsored by Swann Insurance, this bike is all about safety. But then it would be...
Pics: Motoblog

Back in August last year, a certain Mr Stoner had unveiled the ‘Motorcycle of the Future’ concept. Sponsored by Swann Insurance, and designed by Tim Cameron, the bike packs in a lot of rider safety-related features and one of the aims has been to limit damage to the motorcycle, during low-speed crashes.

The motorcycle has been conceptualized using ‘Ablative Design,’ which is all about protecting expensive or essential components on a motorcycle. Parts which are most likely to touch down in a low-speed crash are identified, and configured so they protect critical and expensive parts – typically the chassis, front forks, the radiator, and the engine.

In keeping with its Ablative Design thought, the Swann bike has been fitted with covers for the chassis, engine, exhaust system, fork lowers, and the radiator. The bike is fitted with ABS and there are various sensors which can alert riders to potential dangers. There are sensors for traction control, tyre pressure, sidestand deployment, blind spot warning, and proximity detection. Anti-theft features include an ignition immobiliser, microdot VIN coding and keyless start/stop.

It may be deathly dull, but the Swann bike sure does have some features which look at least reasonably useful. Get more details on the machine here. We’d still much rather ride this Rossi-replica NSR500 though!

Also see:
Velocity Racing: 250bhp GSX-R1000 Turbo!
Steffano Motorcycles' Ducati 999-based Cafe9...
Radical Ducati unveil RAD 02 Corsa...
MIT's ready-to-fold RoboScooter!
Niting Design run riot with The Dacoit...
Dannii Minogue loves motorcycles!

External links:
Magni 861: The bike that MV Agusta should have built?
The Honda Goldwing Jet bike!
Image gallery: CR&S Vun and other exotics...

Apart from the Yamaha FZ150 and R15, and the Honda CBF Racing concept shown recently at the Auto Expo in New Delhi, India, there was also this Bajaj XCD Sprint 125, which looks quite good we think. More pics and info on Rearset

Howard's Killer Customs’ US$150,000 hubless-wheeled chopper!

Looks cool, yes, but changing the rear tyre takes about 4 hours...

When it comes to hubless wheels being used on bikes, Franco Sbarro’s legacy lives on even today, with various motorcycle specials builders fitting (or at least trying to fit…) these wheels on their creations. One such specials builder is Howard Sofield, who owns Howard's Killer Customs.

Howard started with a 1969 Harley-Davidson FL and has transformed the bike into this chopper, which has been fitted with a hubless rear wheel. ‘Using my experience in drafting and automotive industries, I was able to come up with a different way to make the hubless wheel work. We were able to create our bike entirely in-house, and do things that most every other builder would have had to outsource. Over 4,000 hours of design and build time went into this project and we could not be happier with how it turned out,’ says Howard.

The bike, which weighs about 330 kilos, can hit a top speed of about 160km/h. Howard says that 284 bolts have been used in the rear wheel rim assembly, and that the time needed to change the rear tyre is about four hours. And, oh, just in case you were thinking of getting your hands on one of these, the bike costs about US$150,000. More details on Howard’s website here.

Also see:
On a wheel and a prayer: The Wheelsurf Monowheel...
Street survival: 50 must-read tips for motorcyclists!
Air-powered engines for bikes in the future...?
What if Alfa Romeo had built a motorcycle?
Kettenkrad: A motorcycle that's not scared of SUVs!
Face off: 125cc GP racer vs litre-class superbike...

External links:
Back to the future: 1957 MV Agusta 500 Quattro!
Awesome image gallery for custom-cruiser enthusiasts...

A compilation of motorcycle racing crashes. Not for the faint of heart...

Hot Rod: Hank Young’s custom Hayabusa

With 170bhp and the Ford GT40-inspired paintjob, this Hayabusa should be plenty fast. We don't like the spoked wheel and the tubular swingarm though...

After 20 years of building hot rods, Hank Young decided to try his hand at bikes, and Hank Young Choppers was set up in the year 2001. And even with motorcycles, Mr Young apparently wasn’t happy doing only cruisers, which is probably why he decided to start customizing sportsbikes - hence the much-modified 2002 Hayabusa you see here.

Speaking to 2Wheel Tuner magazine, Hank says, ‘I thought they were really cool looking when they extend the swingarms. So I figured I’d put my touch on one. It’s just a diversion, something else to do on the weekends.’

Not that this could have been your regular, backyard, Sunday-morning project. ‘Everything I do is antique. The motors I run are 1940s, ’50s, ’60s. Old. I don’t know anything about fuel injection, and modules and sensors or any of that stuff. Of course I didn’t know anything about Japanese sportbikes whatsoever, but that’s just part of the attraction for me because I like the learning process,’ says Hank.

The bike has been fitted with two small HID headlamps, a Bonneville land speed-style front fender, an extended, tubular swingarm, and spoked rear wheel. The Gulf Racing-inspired paintjob – Hank loves Carroll Shelby’s Ford GT40 racers from the late-1960s – was done by Platinum Customs.

More pics and details on Hank’s website here.

More customs:
Howard Killer Customs: US$150,000 cruiser, with hubless rear wheel!
In XESS: Honda CB1000R-based custom sportsbike...
American flyer: The Buell XBRR Chronos!
Techno Bikes' custom V-Rod...
Jack Lilley's Speed Triple custom...
Italian racer-chic: Ferrari bikes!
The very cool Celtik custom trike...
The 30bhp, US$39,000 Pi X Bonneville racer edition!

External links:
Behind the scenes: Inside the Ducati and Aprilia factories...
From Slovenia: The art of Akrapovic...
Biker chick on the beach (NSFW!)

Face off: 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R vs Yamaha R1!

This is the big one, the one we've been waiting for. 2008 ZX-10R up against the Yamaha R1. Does The One still lead the game or has the Kawasaki managed to inch ahead this time?

Also see:
Britten V1000: The greatest motorcycle ever built!
The world's best two-stroke sportsbikes...
Face off: Ducati 848 vs 1098!
RVF750R RC45: The most desirable Honda ever built?
Battle of the Ninjas: Kawasaki ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400!
Would you donate your Yamaha YZR500 GP bike...?!?!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In XESS: Honda CB1000R-based streetfighter from Italy

CB1000R XESS: Honda Italy add bling to a regular CB1000R...
Pics: Moto Revue

First shown at the EICMA in Milan a few months ago, the Honda CB1000R XESS streetfighter concept might possibly go on sale in Italy sometime in the next few months. The XESS project was, in fact, headed by an Italian – Vito Cicchetti – the Director General at Honda Italy.

Based on the regular 2008 Honda CB1000R, the CB1000R XESS has been fitted with Showa USD forks, petal discs with radial-mount calipers, a titanium exhaust system, Michelin slicks, velvet seat covers, various carbonfibre bits and, er…, a red chain. The bike looks quite good, we think. In fact, if you remember the Honda Hornet Cup which we wrote about last year, the Italians seems to have a special talent when it comes to doing up Honda streetbikes…

It's red, it's (half) Italian and we think the XESS really does look very sexy!

Also see:
The stunning Honda CB1100R and Evo6 concepts!
Steffano Motorcycles' Ducati 999-based Cafe9...
Yamaha RD500-based MotoGP replica!
The very cool CR&S Vun Racing...
Side-Bike: The 2008 Celtik trike, from France!
Naked fun: The KTM RC8 Venom...
Martini Racing Ducati 1098S. Awesome!
From dream to disaster: The amazing Morbidelli 850 V8...

External link:
Here's something for cruiser fans. HOT!

Standard 2008 Fireblade not your scene? How about one in Ten Kate Hannspree colours then? It looks just so totally awesome to us...!
Pics: Motoblog

Velocity Racing: 250bhp GSX-R1000 Turbo!

Zero to 270km/h in less than 9 seconds. Bring it on!

Velocity Racing are now offering a turbo kit for the Suzuki GSX-R1000. The company has, in the past, made some of the fastest streetbikes in the world and their GSX-R1000 Turbo is no different.

Velocity Racing’s kit has been designed to bolt straight on to a stock bike – apart from heavier clutch springs, no other engine modifications are needed. But yes, the bike’s swingarm needs to be lengthened and braced for added strength.

With 8psi (about 0.55 bar) of boost, the turbocharged GSX-R1000 will make 250 horsepower and will accelerate from zero to 270km/h in 8.63 seconds. With some tweaks, VR expect this time to come down to 8.3 seconds! The full system costs about US$4,000. More details on the VR website here.

Also see:
"GSX-Rs are for moped riders!"
Acabion GTBO70: The FASTEST bike in the world!
Memorable: The amazing Bimota YB11...
Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo: 320km/h and beyond...
Get ready for 220bhp Aprilia V4!
Faster and Faster: Best of 2007

External link:
Women in motorcycling...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hot Dreams specials to be shown at Barcelona exhibition

It's called 'Vegas Loser,' and it costs more than an MV Agusta F41000...
From left: Born to Run, Ramera and Guindilla. Nice names, eh? ;-)

Based in Marbella, Spain, Ferry Clot has been in the motorcycle customization biz since the early-1990s. His outfit, Hot Dreams, specializes in crafting exotic motorcycles, some of which will be shown at an exhibition – The Art of the Motorcycle – which will be held in Barcelona later this month.

The bikes shown include the Born to Run, Guindilla, Ramera and Vegas Looser. Yeah, not your regular motorcycle names, but these aren’t regular bikes. The Guindilla, for example, won the 'Modified Harley' category at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in the US last year. And dedicated to one of Bruce Springsteen’s songs, the Born to Run was sold for a bit more than US$100,000!

For more details, visit the Hot Dreams website here. And for some of Faster and Faster’s own hot dreams, visit us on Flickr here.

Steffano Motorcycles’ Ducati 999-based Café9

Don't know what to do with that Ducati 999 parked next to your brand-new 1098S? Take it down to Steffano's shop and he'll convert it into this Café9...

The California, US-based Steffano Motorcycles are, apparently, specials builders of some repute. And of their better creations is the Ducati 999-based Café9, which they say, ‘Brings a new level of sophistication to the luxury motorcycle market,’ and which is ‘A motorcycle that is truly work of art and a marvel of engineering.’ Er, yeah, well…

The bike weighs 169 kilos, and the engine has been tuned to produce a respectable 150bhp. The bike is fitted with carbonfibre bodywork, forged alloy wheels, and fully adjustable control levers, footrests and handlebars. And the best bit is, it even comes with an integrated police radar detection system!

Stock R1 not good enough for you? Steffano also builds this R1-based Café Roadster...

Before their Ducati 916- and 999-based specials, Steffano Motorcycles had also made this Café Roadster, which is based on a 2003 Yamaha R1. As you can see, the bike’s fairing has been removed, and a new fuel tank and tailpiece have been fabricated, using aluminium alloy.

Polished, 17-inch wheels are used and these are shod with Metzeler Sportec M-1 rubber. Showa suspension units are used, front and rear. The bike weighs 177kg fully fuelled, and power output is 150bhp.

More details on the Steffano Motorcycles website here.

Also see:
What's the 'coolest' motorcycle brand in the world?
Fearsome: The 1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker...
Rizla Suzuki: The HOTTEST pit babes in the world!
The very cool 2008 BMW HP2 Sport...
The Bestiale Project: A more radical MV Agusta...
Raging Buell: Supercharged Lazareth XB12s custom!

External links:
Mrs Rossi goes chasing after The Doctor...!!
The very cool Rossi-replica AGV Ti-Tech LE

Monday, January 14, 2008

Britten V1000: The greatest motorcycle ever built

The Britten V1000 - the most pathbreaking motorcycle ever built...

The Britten motorcycle story really is like a fairytale. It’s the story of a motorcycle built by one man that goes out and beats the best racing bikes made by the biggest manufacturers, and wins admiration and respect from the motorcycling community worldwide.

The Britten V1000 was built in John Britten’s backyard, using only basic tools, very limited resources, the help of a few committed enthusiasts, and JB’s own vast talent. That the bike looked as good as it did, and even ran at all, was amazing. That it beat the best racing bikes from Italy and Japan is a feat, an accomplishment, and a miracle that’s beyond comprehension, beyond belief.

The man responsible for designing and building the V1000 – John Britten – was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the year 1950. By the time he was 12 years old, John was already working with engines, building his first powered go-kart and restoring old, vintage motorcycles. No big surprise then that he went on to get a degree in mechanical engineering.

Though he was always interested in motorcycles and had been working on a motorcycle design of his own since 1988, till as late as 1990, John Britten’s full-time employment was actually in property development and management. But like he said, ‘I still had an interest in engineering, but I wanted to choose the item of engineering myself. You’re more likely to succeed if you can choose what you want to design.’ So in 1992, he finally went ahead and set up the Britten Motorcycle Company, which he initially ran from a small-ish garage in his backyard.

John Britten wanted to go superbike racing and so, of course, he started working on building his own racebike. And by ‘building his own racebike,’ we really do mean building it himself – every little bit was conceptualized, designed, machined and put together in the Britten backyard. Along with a small bunch of friends who pitched in to help, Britten put together the radical V1000 without ever giving in to conventional thought. And despite endless troubles, he just never gave up.

Can a bike built in one man's backyard race against works exotica from major manufacturers, and win? The Britten V1000 proved that it can indeed be done!

If it were to be unveiled by a major Japanese, German or Italian manufacturer today, the Britten V1000 – with its pink and blue paintjob and unconventional lines – would still look as radical as it did back in the early-1990s. As Britten once said in an interview, ‘I guess I’m simply free of any constraints. I can take a fresh look at things, unlike a designer working for, say, Jaguar, who is obliged to continue the Jaguar look.’

From its carbonfibre monocoque chassis, carbonfibre wheels, and fully adjustable girder-type front suspension, to its minimalist bodywork and 8-valve, 60-degree, fuel-injected, 1000cc v-twin that made 165bhp@12,000rpm, the Britten oozed innovation and ingenuity from every pore. And yes, it was fast – the 138-kilo machine could hit a top speed of 300km/h. In BoTT races in the 1990s, the Britten V1000 would thunder past Ducati 851s as if the Italian bikes were standing still. Indeed, the word ‘awesome’ doesn’t begin to describe the V1000’s (and the even more powerful V1100 version’s) sheer performance…

After he first rode the Britten V1000, noted motorcycle journalist Alan Cathcart said, ‘It’s an easy bike to ride, in the sense it’s got a very wide power delivery, but to really get top performance, you have to ride it like a grand prix bike. And that means standing it on the back wheel, rear wheel steering it around turns. You’ve got to accept the fact that you have to slide the back wheel, you’ve got to get it to turn on the brakes. You’re trying very hard to turn it quickly from side to side, get the power on early, use the power to break the rear end out of a turn, and to maximize acceleration,’ said Cathcart.

‘You can’t ride it like you would ride a Ducati superbike. And having ridden all the superbike contenders in the world today, I can say that the Britten is the closest to a grand prix bike. There are so many things about the Britten that make it unique, and these come from John Britten’s capacity for original thought. It’s incredibly ironic that instead of Europe or Japan, the most sophisticated and technically advanced motorcycle in the world comes from New Zealand,’ concluded an obviously impressed Alan.

Just as his machines had begun to make a mark on the world motorcycling and motorcycle racing scene, the Britten story was cut short. In a cruel twist of fate, John Britten passed away because of cancer in mid-1995.

Only 10 Britten V1000 bikes were ever built, and all of those are now with wealthy collectors or in museums. ‘I don’t really expect it will rival the Japanese bikes for production numbers. It will probably always be a hand-built motorcycle. Quality is what I’m all about, not necessarily quantity. I have no aspirations to get into mass production as such,’ said Britten in an interview once. And that is how it would remain. And the Britten V1000 will, forever, be the greatest motorcycle ever built anywhere in the world.
For Britten fans, a must-watch film is One Man's Dream - The Britten Bike Story. Buy the DVD here, or download the movie here. You can also watch the five-part film, Britten: Backyard Visionary, online here

Discovery Channel included the Britten V1000 in their list of the greatest bikes ever built