Friday, April 11, 2008

Memorable: The Moriwaki Dream Fighter MD211VF


The Moriwaki Dream Fighter MD211VF in action...

In MotoGP, there’s probably no place left for privateers – not even those who are at least reasonably well-off and well-connected. Ilmor and Team Roberts are just two examples of privateer teams that worked hard to stay on in MotoGP, but were ultimately left with no option but to leave. Not that that stops people from trying – both teams hope to make a comeback in 2009!

One rather memorable privateer MotoGP effort that comes to mind is the Moriwaki Racing Team, which went MotoGP racing back in 2003. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Moriwaki Engineering is a specialist motorcycle tuning company based near the Suzuka racing circuit – a two hour ride from Tokyo, on the Shinkansen Bullet Train.

Set up in 1972 by Mamoru Moriwaki (who once used to race for the Yoshimura team, and is married to one of Mr Yoshimura’s daughters), Moriwaki made its name designing and making camshafts for Kawasaki Z1 racers. Today, the company is known and respected for its expertise with motorcycle chassis, engine tuning, exhaust systems, and various racing-spec components.

But coming back to the Moriwaki Dream Fighter, Mr Moriwaki managed to convince Honda to lease their 2002-spec RC211V 990cc V5 engines to him, so he could go MotoGP racing. The result was the Moriwaki MD211VF project – a MotoGP bike with a Honda engine and a Moriwaki-designed chassis.


(Left) The legendary Mamoru Moriwaki and (right) Tohru Ukawa aboard the Dream Fighter in 2003

Ridden by Tamaki Serizawa, Tohru Ukawa, Andrew Pitt and Olivier Jacque in the 2003 and 2004 MotoGP seasons (not all races – just a few selected rounds), the MD211VF Dream Fighter was fitted with a Moriwaki-designed chrome-molybdenum steel tube chassis, Ohlins suspension, Moriwaki exhaust system, Nissin brakes and Marchesini forged magnesium wheels. The Honda RC211V engine was specially tuned by Moriwaki, and produced in excess of 220bhp. The chief engineer on this project was Koji Takahashi, who’s still the chief mechanic at Moriwaki’s superbike and 8-hour endurance racing teams.

The MD211VF Moriwaki Dream fighter never actually managed to finish in the top 10. The best which the Moriwaki bike could do was an 11th place finish in the 2004 Japanese MotoGP at the Motegi circuit. But speaking to Superbike magazine for one of their recent issues, Mamoru Moriwaki says ‘That class [MotoGP] is the pinnacle of racing. It’s prototype racing, so to score points in that class was very satisfying.’

And after so many years, what is it that still keeps him interested in motorcycle racing? ‘Humans are the only creatures who actually seek out challenges, who test themselves for no real reason – just for the challenge – and racing is a part of that. In fact, bike racing is quite dangerous and hard to do well, which is all part of the attraction for me,’ concludes Moriwaki san.

Also see:
Kenny Roberts'MotoGP-powered KRV5 Board-tracker replica...
Japan-only Konica Minolta-rep Honda CBR600RR!
Memorable: The Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans
Mid-1980s Honda VF1000R: Wheee... four!
RS3 Cube: When Aprilia went MotoGP racing...
Heavy Hitter: The MV Agusta F4 Veltro Pista!
Britten V1000: The greatest racebike ever?
The 30bhp, US$39,000 Pi X Bonneville racer edition...
Fearsome: The 1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker

External links:
Moriwaki MD250H: A Grand Prix bike that you can buy!
Honda CB1000R image gallery...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tokyo Joe's MotoGP-replica Suzuki GSX-R1000


Looks awesome, eh? We LOVE this K5 GSX-R...

Pics: London Bikers

Came across this MotoGP-replica Gixxer while browsing through some image galleries on London Bikers, and we think the bike looks absolutely superb! The owner of the bike, Tokyo Joe, says ‘I bought my K5 in May 2005. I had liked my K3, but never really fell for it in a big way. It was good, but not spectacular, and I would never consider throwing any serious money at it. Over the last 23 years I have had many bikes, all of them sportsbikes, and a very select few have had a chunk of money spent on them. Those that made the grade were my 1984 Yamaha 350LC, 1986 Yamaha 350 YPVS F1, 1987 Yamaha 500LC, 1992 Honda FireBlade RRP and 2000 Ducati 996 SPS.’

‘The next bike that I considered a worthy base for improvement was the K5 GSX-R1000. This was a bike that offered a huge performance envelope, wrapped up in a taught, sharp chassis, with excellent manners road or track. The mods that I have made are really to suit my personal riding style,’ says Joe. Ah, well, we love your bike, Joe, and we wish we had one just like yours…


And here's Mr Hopkins, in action on the real thing, back in 2005...

More GSX-Rs:
Kevin Schwantz talks about the GSX-R...
Larry McBride: "GSX-Rs are for moped riders!"
Fast past: Suzuki GSX-R1100...
GSX-R250s and GSX-R125s, by 2009?
Velocity Racing: 250bhp GSX-R1000 Turbo!
Dream Machine: K4 Rizla Suzuki GSX-R1000
Barry Sheene tribute: Chris Vermeulen-replica Suzuki GSX-R1000...

External links:
Motorcycle racing in Spain: La Bañeza


More racy GSX-Rs from London Bikers...

Battle of the Twins: Ducati 1098 vs KTM 1190 RC8!


Yes indeed, this one's going to be tooth and nail all the way...
Pics: Bikewalls

With the 1190 RC8, KTM have upset a few equations. The v-twin superbike set – okay, Ducati – have been forced to sit up and take note of the new pretender that’s spoiling for a fight. And the guys at Motorbox, who had access to both the bikes during a Bridgestone BT-016 tyre test at the Jerez circuit, made full use of the opportunity and did the first ever KTM RC8 vs Ducati 1098 shootout. Here’s what they have to say…

First, the numbers. The RC8’s 1145cc 75-degree v-twin makes 155 horsepower and 12Kgm of torque, and the bike weighs 188kg dry. The 1098’s 90-degree v-twin makes 160bhp and 12.5Kgm of torque, and the bike weighs 173 kilo dry. Both bikes are fitted with steel-tube chassis, where the engine is used as a stressed member and also connected to the swingarm. Both bikes are fitted with Brembo brakes with monobloc calipers, but disc size is 330mm for the Ducati 1098, and 320mm for the KTM RC8.


Ducati vs KTM, Italy vs Austria. Next year, WSBK should be fun!
Pics: Motorbox

The 1098 has the more extreme riding position, while the RC8 has more relaxed ergonomics, which actually make the bike feel more controllable. On the track, the RC8 feels light, compact and incredibly agile and responsive. The bike feels almost like a 600, changing direction rapidly, yet remaining stable at all times, with accurate steering. The KTM’s longer swingarm also means very good traction while powering out of corners.

The 1098 is more ‘physical’ to ride, needing more effort to change direction. The Italian bike also did not provide as much feel, as much feedback as the KTM, which does nothing to improve rider confidence. The Ducati did brake harder than the KTM, though the forks dived a bit too much, unsettling the bike in the process.


Few would have imagined it, but the RC8 is indeed right up there with the 1098

Where the Ducati seems to have a clear advantage is the engine management system and the electronics – the 1098 responds better to small throttle inputs, making it easier to control in corners which require part-throttle application. On the other hand, the RC8’s engine delivers very strong mid-range power, while the 1098’s mill seems almost subdued in comparison.

In terms of improvements, Ducati need to work on the front fork diving too much and too suddenly under hard braking, while KTM need to work on reducing engine vibration. But overall, while the Ducati 1098 reigns supreme on the racetrack today, the KTM RC8 has indeed caught up with the Italian bike, and in some areas, it already performs better. Next year, Ducati had better watch out…!


We love the Ducati 1098, but don't be surprised if the RC8 kicks some Italian arse in 2009...

Also see:
Yamaha FZR750RR OW01 vs YZF R1!
Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo...
1974 MV Agusta 500 GP racer vs 2007 MotoGP Ducati!
2007 vs 2008 Kawasaki ZZR1400...
2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R vs Yamaha R1
Ducati 848 vs Ducati 1098!
BMW R1200GS Adventure vs KTM 990 Adventure
2008 Yamaha R1 vs KTM RC8...
War of the Ninjas: Kawasaki ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400

Malaguti MR250: Two-strokes once more?


The 250cc, two-stroke Malaguti MR250. Will they really make this machine...?
Going by the few pics and some bits of information available on the Web, Italian scooter-specialists Malaguti may soon be building a brand-new two-stroke motorcycle – the MR250. The bike is fitted with a two-stroke, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 250cc engine, which is supposed to produce about 50 horsepower!

The Malaguti MR250 takes some styling cues from American flat-trackers and rides on 18-inch (front) and 17-inch (rear) wire-spoked wheels. Other bits include a tubular-steel chassis, 41mm USD front fork, cantilever-type rear shock, and 300mm (front) and 220m (rear) brake discs. The bike has a wheelbase of 1430mm, and weights 118 kilos dry.

We don’t know if Malaguti really intend to put this bike into production or whether the MR250 is merely a one-off prototype, but the little bike does look good. Stay tuned for more information on this one…

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ducati SuperSport Turbo dragbike!


The Ducati SuperSport Turbo. Cool!
Pic: DucCutters

One of our readers has sent us a link to this rather interesting site – DucCutters – which Ducati fans should definitely visit. The site is dedicated to customized Ducatis and other Italian motorcycles, and has tons of pictures, information and resources for those looking for inspiration for starting their own Ducati project!

One machine that especially caught our attention was the Ducati SuperSport Turbo dragbike you see here. The bike is the work of one Wayne Patterson, of Ducati Bunbury, and is based on a 1997 Ducati 900SS. Developed over the last three years, it’s been transformed from a mild, 62bhp sportsbike, to a fire-breathing 200bhp dragster!

Chassis mods include a Yamaha TZR250 front end, an extended, custom-made swingarm, and fitment of wheelie bars. The fairing and bodywork have been modified and carbonfibre has been used to construct the Ducati 900 Superlite-style look. The transmission has also been suitably beefed up to deal with the increased horsepower. Gears are now changed via an air-shifter system, operated by a button mounted on the left handlebar. A lockup clutch is also used, which allows the bike to be launched at full throttle by simply ‘dumping’ the clutch, rather than the rider having to ‘slip’ the clutch.

Patterson’s SuperSport Turbo runs on methanol, and a MOTEC fuel-injection management system makes sure everything runs smoothly. At full throttle, the turbo runs 19lb boost and the engine makes more than 200 horsepower. Yes indeed, this is one Ducati we’d love to ride…

Ducati Bunbury have also been working on a Ducati 999R twin-turbo dragbike, as well as 916 and 1098 dragbikes, all of which you can see here. And while you’re at it, also visit DucCutters for this Durbahn 999 V2 and Ducati Monster Turbo!


Ducati Bunbury's 1098 and 916-based dragbikes...

Pics: Ducati Bunbury

Also see:
Ducati 1098R to go endurance racing...
Travertson V-Rex ride video and pics!
More pics and details: 2008 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 4V
Precious metal: 1964 Bianchi Bicilindrica 500cc GP racer
Sheene tribute: Chris Vermeulen-replica Suzuki GSX-R1000
British bikers love Angelina Jolie...
Wild rides: MotoGP vs Bullfighting!

External links:
Motoclub Bologna image gallery...
Jamie James' 1984 Yamaha 'Yellow Demon' RZ350
Soaring petrol prices lead to more people buying motorcycles and scooters and that includes celebrities!
Phil Vincent Centenary and the great Vincent controversy...


Beautiful vintage Ducatis on Motociclismo here!

Monday, April 07, 2008

2008 Ducati Monster 696: More pics and details


Lighter, sleeker and optimised for sporty riding - the 2008 Ducati Monster 696

Ducati released the first official pics of the 2008 Monster 696 in November last year. The all-new Monster wasn’t as radical as we’d been hoping for, but we still liked the bike anyway. The motorcycle press worldwide was recently given a chance to ride the 696, and more details on the bike are now available.

Designed for the city and for twisty mountain roads, the Monster 696 features improved ergonomics, a low seat height (770mm), and fully digital instrumentation, which among other things, also has a built-in lap-timer and is compatible with Ducati’s DDA (Ducati Data Analyser) system.

The Monster 696’s air-cooled L-twin engine only makes a modest 80bhp and 69Nm of torque, but given that the bike only weighs 152 kilos dry, performance should be at least reasonably sprightly. Ducati also say the Monster 696’s steel-tube trellis frame is stiffer than ever before, and along with the new aluminium swingarm, the whole package has been optimized for high-speed stability.


Looks all right we suppose, though we do wish Ducati had been a bit braver with the 696's styling...

The suspension comprises of a 43mm Showa USD front fork, and a preload-adjustable Sachs monoshock. The bike rides on 17-inch wheels, shod with 120/60 (front) and 160/60 (rear) ZR-rated rubber. Other bits include Ducati’s APTC slipper clutch, six-speed gearbox, twin 320mm brake discs (Brembo) with radial-mount four-piston calipers at the front, and 245mm rear brake disc.

MCN’s Adam Child, who recently rode the 696 in Barcelona, says, ‘On first impressions it kind of feels like the old Monster – there is a lot of character and feel of the old machine – like the position of the tank and the trellis frame. But the new bike is way, way better. The Monster now handles a lot better than the old one. The old Monster had a tendency to understeer, but the 696 handles beautifully with really sharp steering.’

‘Brembo brakes and no weight amount to great stopping power, and it comes with a slipper clutch as standard, so there is no worry for new riders about the engine braking from the v-twin. But the thing that really impressed about the monster is just how good the gearbox and fuelling is,’ says Child.

For those who want a bit more style and exclusivity, Ducati have also released the Monster 696+ which is a specially customized variant of the regular Monster. The 696+ is fitted with a small front fairing and a removable rear seat cowl. But that’s not all – a very wide range of accessories is being made available for the 696. The list of optional fancy bits includes titanium silencers (supplied with a new ECU and air-filter), carbon racing exhaust system, a special touring seat made of high-density foam, LED turn indicators, shorter tail guard, and many carbonfibre bits and pieces.

For pricing and other details, visit the Ducati Monster 696 website here.


The official Ducati Monster 696 promo video

Also see:
Ducati get off to a flying start in WSBK...
One-off: Giordano Loi’s Ducati Desmo Infinito
Noré Sébastien: Airbrush magician for your bike!
Ducati 1098-powered Bimota DB7...
Steffano Motorcycles’ Ducati 999-based Café9
Radical Ducati unveil the RAD 02 Corsa...
Face-off: Ducati 848 vs 1098!
Singularly Sexy: The amazing Ducati Supermono!

External links:
The coolest Ducati Monster 696 ever...!
Motorcycle USA: 2008 Ducati Monster 696 riding impression
Excelsior-Henderson revival in the works...
Someone's selling a few bikes, worth a few bucks...
Philippe Starck comes out of the closet!


And here are another few of our favourite Ducatis...

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