Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tjitze Tjoelker’s homemade Honda V8

This homemade Honda V8 sure sounds good...!
Honda V8Honda V8

What do you do if you always wanted the Morbidelli 850 V8, but couldn’t afford one? Well, if you’re Dutchman Tjitze Tjoelker, you make your own V8-powered motorcycle of course.

Mr Tjoelker, a baker by profession, and someone who has no formal training in mechanical engineering, actually put together two Honda 400 inline-fours to make his V8. This engine, which supposedly makes 120bhp at 10,000rpm has been mated to a Moto Guzzi gearbox and driveshaft. And yes, the bike actually runs. We’re truly amazed…

Also see:

Rapom V8: 1000bhp, supercharged monster-bike!
The V8, twin Hayabusa-engined, 455bhp SR8LM...
Memorable: The mid-1950s Moto Guzzi V8 racer!
Memorable: The 1970s Laverda V6 Bol d'Or racer...
Mad Max lives: Peugeot V6-powered motorcycle!
Six Fix: The mighty Honda CBX1000
Brute Force: The Münch Mammut TTS-E!
NRV588: The Norton Rotary rides again...

KTM to launch ‘Adventure’ variant of the RC8

A dual-purpose 'Adventure' bike with the RC8 engine? Should be awesome!
Pic: BikeWalls

According to a report on Motorcycle USA, KTM boss Stefan Pierer has said that the company will launch naked (the RC8 Venom) and dual-purpose / adventure versions of the RC8. While there is no mention of exactly when this is likely to happen, the report does say that KTM have ambitions of becoming the biggest motorcycle manufacturer is Europe, producing 200,000 bikes per annum by the year 2020.

In keeping with their ambitious growth plans, KTM also plan to launch smaller bikes in collaboration with Bajaj, the second-largest bike maker in India. Single-cylinder 125s and 250s, and a 500cc v-twin, are likely to be launched soon, and these will be sold through the Bajaj network in India. However, it’s not clear whether these bikes will only be launched in India (and perhaps other Asian markets…), or also in Europe.

According to the report on Motorcycle USA, KTM’s new small bike range will be designed by KTM, will be built in India, and will be priced so that they can compete with Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese and Indian small bikes.

Finally, apart from bikes, KTM also want to focus on small-volume, high-performance cars like the X-Bow, eventually becoming the Austrian equivalent of Lotus, the revered British sports car company. So, well, looks like it’s exciting times ahead for KTM then…

Also see:
Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo: 320km/h and beyond...
DVD review: Riding Solo To The Top Of The World
Face off: Yamaha FZR750RR OW01 vs the R1!
Fifth Gear special: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo...
The FASTEST, most expensive Honda ever...
Some of the most interesting trikes in the world...
Memorable: The Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans!
Memorable: The Gilera SP01 and SP02...

External links:
2008 KTM Adventure Tours...

Which bike has the best back end - the 2008 GSX-R1000 or the Fireblade? Er, we think it's this Harley!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Motorcycle Bloggers International: 2008 Awards announced

Motorcycle Bloggers International (MBI) have announced the winners of the 2008 Riders Choice Awards. Decided on the basis of votes given by thousands of motorcycle riders in 77 countries, these awards recognize significant achievements (and, well, serious lapses in judgment!) during 2007, by motorcycle and related product manufacturers, persons and organizations.

Some of the winners are:

Object of Lust: Ducati Desmosedici RR

Best Concept Motorcycle or Scooter: Honda Evo6

Best New in 2007 Scooter: Piaggio MP3 400

Best New in 2007 Motorcycle: Triumph Street Triple 675

Most Disappointing Motorcycle: Suzuki B-King

The MBI Riders Choice Awards are unique in that the nominees and winners are chosen by everyday riders around the world, not by professional journalists. The awards reflect the judgment of the motorcycle buying public, not motorcycle industry insiders.

For more information about the MBI and its members, please visit the MBI website, and for the complete list of 2008 MBI Awards nominees and winners, go here.

Also see:
Faster and Faster: The Best of 2007
Ready to rock: The 2008 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 4V
Tilt this: The amazing Peraves MonoTracer!
Memorable: The singularly sexy Ducati Supermono
Franco Sbarro's Pendolauto, a four-wheeled 'motorcycle'!
Sheene tribute: Chris Vermeulen-replica GSX-R1000
F1 tech in MotoGP: The Aprilia RS3 Cube...
Hot or not: EDR Performance’s 131bhp Yamaha YZF R6
Racer specials: Japan-only Fireblade and CBR600RR!

External links:
JJ2S X4 500: A four-cylinder, two-stroke concept bike!
KTM RC8 ringtones...

2008 Yamaha R1 vs Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R? Here's the showdown!

And here's the 2008 Aprilia Tuono, in all its brand-new silver/orange glory! The bike remains unchanged mechanically and for us, it's still one of the best streetfighters in the world...
Pics: MCN

Right up front: Ferruccio Codutti’s Monster S4

In our opinion, Ferruccio Codutti's Monster S4 doesn't really look very nice, but as a piece of engineering art, it just might work...!

Pics: Motociclismo

This heavily modified Ducati Monster S4, which we saw on Motociclismo, is the work of one Ferruccio Codutti, who, it seems, is a master craftsman in working with aluminium. This one-off special, commissioned by one of Codutti’s customers, took about one full year to build.

The Monster has been completely restyled and er…, we don’t know if we like the end result very much – it looks a bit awkward and unfinished. The front suspension, which looks like it’s been taken off a Vyrus 985, is much more interesting than the bike’s styling. Codutti designed the entire front end himself, after studying other bikes with similar front ends and even the Elf Honda 500 GP racer! The Monster chassis has also been modified in order to work with the new front swingarm.

Its makers say the bike took almost one full year to build...

Because of the space needed by the front suspension, the original radiator had to be replaced with twin radiators placed under the engine. The custom-built exhaust comes from Mivv, while three-spoke wheels are Marvic items. Can’t say we like the bike much – not to look at least. However, as an example of engineering diligence, Codutti’s modded Monster just might work…

Also see:
Alternative front: The bikes that dared to experiment!
Significant firsts in motorcycling...
"GSX-Rs are for moped riders!"
Acabion GTBO 70: Mad Max lives...
Could you learn to live without bikes...?
Memorable: The Laverda 750 Formula S
A KTM just for women...
Libero Liberati: 500cc Motorcycle GP Racing World Champ in 1957...
Sheer madness: The totally amazing Carver One!!

Which is the better Ducati - the 999 or the 1098? Doug Polen decides, here!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kalex AV1: Pushing the performance envelope

For those who want a proper racing bike - the Kalex AV1 is the real deal

Pics: Kalex

We had last written about the Kalex AV1 in May last year. Fitted with the 998cc Rotax v-twin which also powers the Aprilia RSV1000, the 155kg, 140bhp AV1 is a no-holds-barred racebike / trackday-special built for the expert, fully committed enthusiast. With its fully adjustable WP suspension components, tubular steel trellis frame, Brembo brakes and carbonfibre bodywork, the Kalex AV1 has the ‘take no prisoners’ work ethic.

The AV1 comes from Germany and is the work of two men – Alex Baumgärtel and Klaus Hirsekorn – who built the bike to compete in the European ‘Sound of Thunder’ race series for twins and triples. A few months ago, PB magazine tested the AV1 and came away impressed. ‘If the late, great John Britten were still with us, and happened across Klaus and Alex's bike in pit lane, he would stop, stare, walk round it a few times, and break into a grin of pure joy,’ said PB.

Lean, lithe and fast, the 155-kilo, 140bhp AV1 should be the ideal trackday tool!

‘It's nowhere near as radical as Britten's frameless New Zealand racer, but in terms of thought, layout and pursuit of perfection, it's solid gold. Ignore the Aprilia RSV-R road bike motor and this thing could be on a MotoGP grid. This is one of the most brilliantly designed and constructed motorcycles we have seen,’ said an obviously impressed PB.

Baumgärtel actually wanted a V3 engine for his bike, but considering the money aspect, finally decided to settle for the RSV’s v-twin. ‘The big problem with a v-twin is getting it far enough forward without the tyre taking out the front cylinder on the brakes. We looked at the standard Mille's relative position to the front wheel and tried to get it as far forward as possible, while keeping an acceptable bend on the header pipe,’ says Alex.

Its makers say that thousands of hours have gone into crafting the AV1...

That, of course, was just the beginning. The two Germans had to work on fine-tuning various things like wheelbase, engine position, weight distribution, centre of gravity and so on – the aim always being optimization of braking, and traction under acceleration. And yes, the AV1 was built to be slimmer, smaller, and lighter than conventional superbikes – its custom-built chassis is lighter than an Aprilia RSV’s aluminium beam frame, and narrower than a Ducati 999’s trellis frame. The German bike uses finesse rather than brute force to get things done.

How much time did it take to build the Kalex AV1? According to the PB story, the bike’s MotoGP-style exhaust pipe alone took 39 attempts before Klaus and Alex got it right. ‘I stopped counting after a while, but thousands of hours,’ says Alex. And we’d say it was hours well spent. The great John Britten is no more, but in some way, at least his spirit lives on in the Kalex AV1…

Also see:
In XESS: Honda CB1000R-based streetfighter from Italy
An interview with Claudio Castiglioni...
Wild rides: MotoGP vs professional bullfighting!
Memorable: Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850. Holy Kaw!
The US$140,000 Neander 1400 Turbodiesel...
Aprilia RS3 Cube: F1 tech in MotoGP?
Awesome: KTM RC8 riding impression...
One off: Giordano Loi’s Ducati Desmo Infinito

External links:
2008 Rat's Hole custom bike show report and image gallery!
Awesome Suzuki TL1000 image gallery...
Kel Carruthers remembers the great Mike 'The Bike' Hailwood

From top left: Some of the coolest, most lust-worthy Hondas ever - the CB1100R, VF1000R, NR750, VFR750R RC30 and RVF750R RC45. Which one is the best? For us, this one!

Two-strokes: The Bimota V Due

500cc GP racer for the street? That's what the Bimota V Due wanted to be...

The only Bimota ever made that was actually fitted with a Bimota engine was the V Due. Launched in 1997, the V Due was fitted with Bimota’s own 500cc, liquid-cooled, two-stroke, fuel-injected v-twin that made 110bhp at 9000rpm, and 90Nm of torque at 8000rpm. Unlike carb-equipped two-strokes, the V Due’s radical, direct-injection two-stroke engine – which took eight long years of Bimota’s development time, effort and money – was supposed to be low on emissions, allowing it to meet mandated norms in the US and in Europe.

But fuel-efficiency and emissions compliance wasn’t, of course, the V Due’s primary mission in life. The bike, initially meant to be a 500cc GP racer, was designed to deliver GP-spec performance and handling on the street. And to go with the 500cc two-stroke engine, the V Due was equipped with a stiff, lightweight aluminium chassis, meaty aluminium swingarm, six-speed cassette-type gearbox, 17-inch wheels, fully adjustable 46mm Paioli forks and Ohlins rear shock, and Brembo brakes. Tyre sizes were 120/70 ZR17 at the front, and 180/55 ZR17 at the rear.

If only Bimota had more money, more resources and better R&D facilities, the V Due story might ended on a very different note...

With its carbonfibre bodywork and exhaust cans, Bimota claimed a dry weight of less than 150 kilos for the V Due. According to some late-1990s magazine road tests, the racy little Bimota was capable of doing the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 12.5 seconds (hitting a speed of 185km/h in the process), and had a top speed of 265km/h.

Exotic, expensive (about US$30,000 back then…) and desirable it may have been, but ultimately its high-tech engine was the V Due’s undoing. With limited resources and manpower, Bimota could never fully sort out the bike’s very inconsistent fuel-injection system and the erratic power delivery. Soon, customers started demanding that the company take the bikes back and refund their money.

This resulted in Bimota stopping production of the V Due after making only 340 units, instead of the 500 proposed earlier. And it didn’t stop at that – Bimota’s already precarious financial condition spiraled completely out of control after the V Due debacle. And even though the company tried to contain damage by fitting carburetors to some V Dues – dubbed the V Due Evoluzione Strada – the company went bust in 1999-2000, before it had a chance to sell any of those reengineered bikes.

Later, all the unsold V Dues were bought by one Piero Caronni, and for rich collectors keen on buying one, you can apparently still have one. Just right a big cheque in favour of Mr Caronni, and he’ll send an unused, brand-new Bimota V Due which you can keep in your garage for posterity. For more details, go here. And to see what Performance Bikes magazine has to say about the V Due, go here.

More Bimotas:
On a new front: The Bimota Tesi 3D
Memorable: The Bimota YB11
Racy reptile: The Bimota YB6 Tuatara
Blast from the past: The Bimota DB2
The Ducati 1098-powered Bimota DB7
Bimota SB6 vs the Suzuki GSX-R1100!
Motociclismo: Bimota DB7 road test

Monday, March 17, 2008

More pics and details: 2008 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 4V

It's the Moto Guzzi Stelvio 'adventure tourer,' and yes, we like it!

Pics: Motoblog
BMW started this whole ‘dual-purpose adventure tourer’ thing with the R1200GS, and Moto Guzzi are now taking them head on, with the Stelvio 1200 4V. Named after the Stelvio Pass (built back in 1855…) in Italy, the Stelvio has primarily been designed for long-distance touring duties, with a bit of occasional off-road use thrown in for good measure.

The Stelvio is fitted with Guzzi’s 1151cc, 90-degree, ‘Quattrovalvole’ air-and-oil cooled, 4-valve, SOHC v-twin, a proven workhorse of an engine if ever there was one. The gearbox is a six-speed unit, the double-cradle steel-tube chassis is said to be ideal for dual-purpose applications, and the suspension comprises of a 50mm Marzocchi USD fork and adjustable Boge monoshock. Front brakes are twin 320mm discs with four-piston, radial mount calipers. The Stelvio’s 17-inch wheels are shod with Pirelli Scorpion rubber, and as you’d expect, the Stelvio is fitted with Guzzi’s CARC shaft-drive system.

It's no rocketship, but the Stelvio should be a capable long-distance tourer...
With a modest 105bhp at 7500rpm and 108Nm of torque at 6400rpm, the rather heavy-looking Stelvio isn’t likely to be a rocketship. But canyon-carving isn’t its mission in life. Instead, the bike has been designed to be comfortable over the long haul. Saddle height, windshield, the handlebar, levers, and pedals are adjustable, and rear shock can be adjusted for compression and rebound damping, so two-up touring, with luggage, shouldn’t be a problem.

Overall, after the 850 Le Mans of the early-1970s/late-1980s, the Stelvio 1200 is just about the first Guzzi which we like a lot. We don’t if its reliability would be in the same league as the BMW R1200GS, but all we need is another bike-enthusiast film-star to take a Stelvio around the globe (and do a TV series for Discovery channel of course), and this motorcycle could herald a big-time Moto Guzzi resurgence…
Also see:
Pendolauto: Franco Sbarro’s four-wheeled motorcycle...!
Honda DN-01: The shape of things to come?
Ready to race: Harley-Davidson XR1200 Trophy!
Visordown: KTM 1190 RC8 riding impression...
Noré Sébastien: Airbrush magician for your bike!
Memorable: The mid-1980s Honda VF1000R and the CB1100R

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Memorable: The Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans

The 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans Mk I. It's just so, so cool...

Er…, we’ll admit we aren’t big fans of Moto Guzzi machines here. While we lust after Ducati 1098s and MV Agusta F4s, it’s a bit harder to think of a Moto Guzzi that’s in the same league. Maybe it’s the kind of bikes Moto Guzzi make, maybe it’s what MG bikes stand for. Now while a Griso BB1 looks quite all right to us, what’s with the Bellagio? What were Moto Guzzi thinking of when they made that bike…?

The Bellagio notwithstanding, there’s been at least one Moto Guzzi which we absolutely adore – the fantastic late-1970s/early-1980s 850 Le Mans. Launched in 1976, the 850 Le Mans Mk I was fitted with Guzzi’s 90-degree air-cooled v-twin that made a claimed 78 horsepower at the flywheel – that’s about 71bhp at the rear wheel. The gearbox was a five-speed unit, twin 300mm brake discs were fitted at the front (and a single 242mm disc at the back), and the chassis was a cradle-type tubular steel number.

Look at these pics and you'll probably understand why we're in love with the 850 Le Mans

With Moto Guzzi’s traditional shaft-drive, telescopic forks at the front, adjustable twin rear shocks, and proper Italian-superbike styling, the racy-looking 850 Le Mans was fast and fun. Top speed was about 210km/h, and while racer-style ergonomics and stiff suspension meant that the 225-kilo Le Mans wasn’t very comfortable, it handled at least reasonably well. (For that era, riding on the tyres available in those days, and other such clichés as applicable…) It also cost US$3,700 back in 1976, which wasn’t exactly inexpensive!

It's a pity Moto Guzzi don't make such good-looking bikes anymore

Guzzi launched the 850 Le Mans Mk II in 1978, following it up with the Mk III in 1980. They also made Le Mans 1000 Mk IV and Mk V models in 1984 and 1988, but rather than the earlier 844cc engines, the Le Mans 1000s were fitted with slightly more powerful 949cc v-twins. Over the years, the Le Mans also got some styling tweaks, air-assisted suspension, linked brakes, and marginally better electrics. But the sexier, more stylish 850 Le Mans – and not the later Le Mans 1000 – is most definitely the bike to have.

Good 1970s/80s models go for around US$8,000 - 10,000 these days, and for fans of classic Italian sportsbikes, those old 850 Le Mans should be well worth the money…



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