Saturday, February 09, 2008

F1 tech in MotoGP: The Aprilia RS3 Cube

Looks cool, eh? Pity the RS3 Cube never worked...

First seen at the Bologna Motor Show in Italy, in December 2001, the RS3 Cube marked Aprilia’s ambitious entry into the tempestuous world of MotoGP. Powered by a four-stroke 990cc three-cylinder engine fitted with pneumatic-valves, the 240-horsepower RS3 was supposed to be one of the most powerful MotoGP machines of its time.

Raced from 2002 to 2004, the Cube’s performance was less than exemplary. There were problems with the bike’s suspension, and its computer-controlled fly-by-wire throttle system was deemed unpredictable by riders Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga, with the latter crashing the RS3 Cube all of 28 times in a single season, in 2003! (Unless Haga-san was crashing the bike twice in almost every race, we suppose that figure includes crashes during practice and qualifying etc.)

So what went wrong? The RS3 Cube’s inline-three was designed by Aprilia in a technical collaboration with British engine specialists, Cosworth, who had earlier also worked with Aprilia on the RSV1000’s v-twin. ‘We chose a three-cylinder engine for several reasons. The first was that I was sure the Japanese wouldn't make a triple, and it was important for Aprilia to have something different from the others,’ said Aprilia racing team boss, Jan Witteveen, speaking to Motorcyclist magazine.

MotoGP rules favor three- and five-cylinder machines, and historically, the triple is more a European concept. A 990cc triple has a 330cc cylinder capacity, which is very close to the dimensions of a 10-cylinder 3.5-litre engine of an F1 car. This way, I could use a lot of technology and parts from Formula 1, which would save some development time,’ said Witteveen.

Noriyuki Haga and Colin Edwards found the RS3 Cube a right handful...

At one time, Aprilia even had plans of building a street-legal replica of their three-cylinder MotoGP machine, but when the RS3 Cube failed to do well in competition, all those plans went out of the window. A lot of the problems with the bike were down to its complex engine management and traction control systems – riders did not like the way these ‘interfered’ with their ‘normal’ way of riding.

Also, the Cube’s chassis and suspension combo did not work very well. The bike’s twin-spar aluminum frame, Ohlins shock, and 45mm Ohlins fork may have been top-spec components individually, but did not work with each other – the RS3 was prone to pulling wheelies, and there was often lack of adequate traction at the rear, a problem which was actually further compounded – rather than helped – by the Cube’s traction control system.

‘The RS3 pulls strongly from 8,000rpm and goes mental when you crack the throttle hard open anywhere above 10,000rpm grand, accelerating unbelievably fast. Your arms are yanked in their sockets and the Cube just takes off. Anywhere from 11,000rpm upward in the bottom four gears, the front wheel starts pawing the air as you shift seamlessly through the gears,’ said Alan Cathcart, when he tested the bike for Motorcyclist.

Cathcart actually liked the motorcycle, saying that ‘This is very far from being the unruly and remote-feeling rolling-laboratory-cum-two-wheeled-Formula 1 car I was expecting. Instead, it felt like a conventional race bike, but with genuine added value obtained from real-world applied electronics-with-a-purpose.’

However, Colin Edwards, who actually raced the bike in 2003, had a very different opinion of the RS3 Cube. ‘Too trick, possibly. Actually, I would not say too trick. I'm just not convinced that car technology works on motorcycles,’ he said, speaking to Superbike Planet.

Well, almost five years after Aprilia pulled the plug on their MotoGP effort, it’s perhaps too late to contemplate whether F1 tech could have worked in MotoGP, had Cosworth tried a bit harder. What matters is, Aprilia haven’t given up – they hope to be back in MotoGP by 2010 with an all-new bike. Now if only they can get Stoner to ride for them… :-)

Also see:
BIG collection of hi-res MotoGP wallpaper here and here
A collection of some very interesting trikes...
Italian sportsbikes on Faster and Faster
Heavy hitter: MV Agusta F4 Veltro Pista!
The Human Hayabusa. Incredible!
The hot new Bimota DB7...
Japan-only racing-spec Fireblade and CBR600RR!

Greatest 500cc GP bike ever - the Yamaha YZR500 or the Honda NSR500?

Friday, February 08, 2008

2008 Suzuki GSX-1000: The Ultimate Edition

The 2008 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Akrapovic (left), and the Ultimate Edition (right)
Pics: Motoblog

Suzuki have launched two new variants of the K8-model GSX-R1000 – the GSX-R1000 Ultimate Edition, and the GSX-R1000 Akrapovic.

The track-focused GSX-R1000 UE has been fitted with a Yoshimura exhaust system, Spiegler brakes, Pirelli Supercorsa Diablo tyres and various carbonfibre bits for reduced weight. The GSX-R1000 Akrapovic comes fitted with an Akrapovic Titanium exhaust and the bike is available only in an all-black colour scheme.

Apparently only available in Europe, the two bikes are priced at about 18,000 euros for the Akrapovic, and 24,000 euros for the UE. Totally awesome, eh?

More GSX-Rs:
"GSX-Rs are for moped riders!!"
Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000. Sizzler!
Fast Past: Suzuki GSX-R1100 vs Bimota SB6...
Velocity Racing's 250bhp GSX-R1000 Turbo!
1985: The GSX-R saga begins...
Kevin Schwantz speaks about his favourite GSX-Rs...
2008 GSX-R750 and GSX-R600: Best middleweight sportsbikes ever?

And here are some very memorable motorcycles on Faster and Faster: (From left) The Honda RVF750R RC45, the Bimota YB11 and the mighty Yamaha YZR500!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

First pics of the KTM 690 Duke in action!

Okay, so it only has 65bhp, but still, this 148kg bike should be great fun to ride...

Pics: Moto Revue

KTM’s much-awaited 690 Duke is now available in Europe. Like the rest of KTM's 690-based range, the 690 Duke is fitted with KTM’s single-cylinder, 654cc, liquid-cooled LC4 engine that makes 65bhp at 7500rpm.

In this day and age of 180bhp GSX-Rs and Fireblades, 65 horsepower certainly doesn’t like much. But the 690 Duke only weighs 148 kilos dry, and with its relaxed ergonomics and high-spec chassis and suspension components, the little KTM might represent an alternative way of enjoying lean, lithe sportsbikes.

The KTM 690 Duke gets a steel tube trellis frame, fully adjustable WP suspension front and rear, Brembo brakes (with radial-mount calipers at the front), six-speed gearbox, and 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels. Top speed is in the region of 190km/h, and while we think the baby Duke looks very nice, at US$13,000 it’s also a bit expensive! More details on the KTM website here.

A video of the KTM 690 Duke and KTM's other 690-series bikes

Also see:
NitroDuke: The world's fastest KTM!
Brudeli 625: KTM-based trike...
Cagiva Mito 500: Will they, or won't they?
The single-cylinder CR&S Vun Racing...
In XESS: Honda CB1000R-based streetfighter from Italy!
Moto Morini 1200 Sport and Scrambler launched...
Bad Buggy: The Fireblade-powered Rage R180RT!
Konica Minolta-replica Honda VFR400R...

External links:
Jennifer Lopez gets on and rides... a scooter
If the Ducati 1098R was a woman, what would she look like? This! (NSFW)

With the 2008 season-opener in Qatar just over a month away, the MotoGP brigade is preparing for all-out war. Will Rossi be able to claw his way back to the top? Can Hopkins, Stoner or Lorenzo stop The Doctor?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Heavy Hitter: MV Agusta F4 Veltro Pista

The MV Agusta F4 Veltro Pista. 185bhp. 300km/h...

When it was launched back in 2006, the MV Agusta F4 Veltro Pista cost the equivalent of US$90,000. The Pista (the Italian word for ‘track’) was only meant for track use, and was not street-legal. MV only made 23 units of this bike. A bit more common was the F4 Veltro Strada, the road-legal version, of which 99 units were made. So does the Veltro rank alongside the F4 Senna, Tamburini and CC versions as one of the most expensive, most exclusive motorcycles MV Agusta ever made? You bet.

Fettled by MV Agusta Corse (MV’s racing division, which was recently shut down…) and hand-built in San Marino by the Cagiva Research Centre, the 159-kilo Veltro Pista was fitted with MV’s 998cc inline-four, taken from the earlier F4 Tamburini. A titanium exhaust was fitted on this bike, which, along with other mods, pushed power output up to 185 horsepower at 12,000rpm. Top speed was all of 305km/h.

Carbonfibre was used for making the Veltro Pista’s bodywork, and magnesium and titanium bits were everywhere. Lightweight Brembo wheels, Pirelli slicks, magnesium alloy swingarm, and a race-spec quickshifter were also fitted. High-spec suspension components were used – fully-adjustable Sachs shock (with ride-height adjuster) at the rear, and fully adjustable 50mm Marzocchi USD fork at the front, with billet aluminum brackets for the radially-mounted four-piston Brembo brakes.

From left: The MV Agusta F4 CC, Senna and Tamburini. Ooooohhhhh.....!!!

The cheaper Veltro Strada, which cost about US$72,000, weighed a bit more – 170 kilos – but got the same engine and tubular trellis frame as the Pista. Of course, the Strada came with lights, turn-indicators and a street-legal exhaust system, which kept power down to only 174bhp. (The racing exhaust also given to customers, but in a separate box – to be used on the track only.) And there was no quickshifter on the Strada. Still, there was more performance here than most mortals would ever be able to use on the street. Or on the track.

When MCN tested the Veltro Pista, they said, ‘The MV goes like nothing you’ll ever find on the road. It bludgeons you with a hammer blow of gale-force, ear-splitting, face altering acceleration. It’s all you can do to keep up with the relentless speed the Veltro is happy to dish up for your masochistic enjoyment.’

‘The power at low rpm isn’t great, not helped by the tall gearing, but once in its stride – at around 6000rpm – it takes off, all the way to 13,000rpm, when a selection of lights flash at you to signal it’s time to change gear. Coming off the gas and on to the freight-train-strength four-piston Brembos, the mechanical slipper clutch does its thing. Bang, bang, down through the gears, popping and banging on the overrun, don’t blip the throttle, and you glide serenely on to your chosen corning line. The bike has so much grip, so much composure and feedback from the chassis that it seems to laugh at your attempts to go fast through the corners,’ said the guys at MCN.

So coming back to the question of which is the greatest MV Agusta F4 1000 ever built, is it the Veltro Pista / Strada? Ummm… ok, we really don’t know! For us, the F4 Tamburini, Senna, Veltro and CC are all bikes that we can only dream of – never actually afford to buy. So for now, we’ll continue to dream. Someday, maybe – just maybe – we’ll at least get to ride one of these awesome MV F4s…

You'd also want one, wouldn't you?

Also see:
The Fast and the Furious: More Italian bikes...!
The Human Hayabusa: The world's fastest man against the world's fastest bike!
John McGuinness replica Honda Fireblade...
Track specials from Japan: Hard-core Honda CBR1000RRs and CBR600RRs!
Memorable: The Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850...
Can Honda work the CB1100R magic once more?
Faster and Faster, on Flickr!
MASSIVE collection of hi-res MotoGP wallpaper...

Eva Longoria joins the biker brigade!

UK bikers want Angelina Jolie to ride with them

Would you want Mrs Brad Pitt to ride with you? Of course you would...

Like last year, Angelina Jolie has again come out on top in a Bennetts survey where British motorcyclists were asked to name their dream pillion passenger. So we guess that puts a certain Mr B. Pitt in a very enviable position indeed…

With 23 percent votes, the very voluptuous Ms Jolie, who rides bikes herself (apparently, she owns a BMW F650GS…), finished ahead of Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding (18 percent), who’s in second place. Third place was a tie between Carmen Electra and model Keeley Hazell, both of whom had 17 percent votes.

The ladies also got to vote, which is probably why Ewan McGregor and Brad Pitt made the dream pillion rider list (with 3 percent votes each), while Bond – James Bond – was also in with 2 percent. And finally, British PM Gordon Brown was the ideal passenger for 1 percent of the sampled riders. Weird, eh?

Also see:
British is bigger, British is best!
KTM: Caring for their female customers...
Rizla Suzuki: The best pit babes in MotoGP!
On Flickr: Fast bikes, faster babes...
HUGE collection of hi-res MotoGP wallpaper!

EDR Performance’s 131bhp Yamaha YZF R6

Looks cool, goes hard - we like the EDR R6!

Based in Oregon, in the US, EDR Performance have been building racebikes and some really fast streetbikes for quite some time now. ‘From basic motorcycle maintenance, and up to 450bhp turbocharged GSX-R1000 land speed motors, we can do it all,’ says their website.

The 2007 Yamaha R6 you see here belongs to one Cliff Cayer, who asked EDR Performance to build this bike as a replica of the company’s supersport racebike. The engine has been heavily tuned and modified (stock cylinder heads, cams, valve springs, pistons and conrods have all been replaced with aftermarket items…), and now makes a claimed 131bhp at the rear wheel!

The stock exhaust has made way for an EDR-modified Titanium Arata Race and a Dynojet Powercommander III has been used to get the best performance from the Yamaha’s inline-four. The gearbox is stock, but a Dynojet quick shifter kit has been installed on the bike.

The rear shock is a custom-valved and sprung Ohlins unit, while the front fork is a modified OEM item, with titanium-nitride treatment and racebike internals.

The R6’s bodywork has been mildly modified by Orion Moto, who’ve also painted the bike in EDR R6 superbike replica colours. PIAA headlamps have been fitted, and the integrated LED taillamp gets a smoked cover. Seventeen-inch forged alloy wheels are from Carozzerria, and the bike rides on Dunlop Qualifier rubber. Brembo brakes have been used from and rear, with billet calipers and lots of titanium bits.

For more details, visit the EDR website here.

Yamaha have announced a race-kit for the 2008 R6. More here

Also see:
Subaru to make bikes...?!
Ready to roll: The Harley-powered TriRod F3 Adrenaline trike...
Michael Scott interviews No.46, The Doctor!
CR&S Vun Racing: Join the (racy) singles club...
Yamaha RD500-based GP-replica. Cool!
Britten V1000: The GREATEST motorcycle ever made...
Cool custom: Konica Minolta-replica Honda FireBlade!

External links:
Motorcycle USA's sport-tourer shootout: BMW K1200GT vs Yamaha FJR1300 vs Kawasaki Concours 1400GTR vs Honda ST1300
Don't like the clutch? Take a look at the Biperformance ShiftFX System...

Customised Triumph Street Triple 675: Image gallery here

Love MV Agustas? See this interview with Claudio Castiglioni!