Monday, May 05, 2008

Blade Watch: 1992 Honda CBR900RR vs 2008 Honda CBR1000RR

From 1992 to 2008, it's been 15 long years of evolution for the Honda Fireblade...

With the 2008 Honda CBR1000RR, the Fireblade has completed 15 years, and still continues to evolve and improve. The first FireBlade came out in 1992, and as the lore goes, the bike was an absolute revelation for its time. The earlier Honda CBR1000F weighed 235kg and had about 130bhp. The CBR900RR weighed only 185 kilos dry, and its 892cc inline-four made 124bhp at 10,500rpm. The tone was set for a lighter, sportier and better handling machine.

Created by Tadao Baba, then a ‘Large Project Leader’ at Honda, the first FireBlade followed his ‘Total Control’ ethos. Rather than just brute force, the first CBR900RR was designed to work as a cohesive whole, and it did. Compared with bikes like the Yamaha FZR1000 and YZF1000R, Kawasaki ZX-11 and ZX-9R, and Suzuki GSX-R750 and GSX-R1100, the FireBlade was lighter, sharper, often quicker, and definitely more responsive. The first FireBlade did the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 10.8 seconds, hit a top speed of about 245km/h, and right away made everything else look and feel old and ponderous.

Between 1992 and 2003, the FireBlade's power output climbed from 124bhp to 155bhp 

Between 1996 and 2002, the FireBlade got various updates, with engine capacity going from 893cc to 918cc to 929cc and finally 954cc. Power went up from the original 128bhp to 155bhp, weight dropped from 185 kilos to 168kg, and top speed went from 245km/h to 270km/h. Over the years, the ’Blade also got bits like a USD front fork, 17-inch front wheel (in place of the 16-inch original, which apparently caused problems with high speed stability), new bodywork, and fuel-injection.

Opinions are divided over the 'Blade's styling evolution. We think the 1992 original looks the coolest!
The 900-series FireBlade was discontinued after 2003, with Honda launching the CBR1000RR in 2004. But we’ll fast forward to 2008, when Honda again introduced the most radically redesigned Fireblade in years. The 2008 CBR1000RR looks completely different from its immediate predecessor, and while we still think the new styling looks awkward from some angles, there is apparently substance below the skin.

The 2008 Fireblade is, of course, a better machine than the 1992 original. But the 1992 model was probably funkier, more cutting-edge for its time
The 2008 Fireblade’s all-new 999cc inline-four features dual-stage fuel-injection, controlled by an ECU that provides two separate fuel-injection and ignition maps for each of the engine’s four cylinders. The engine makes 178 horsepower at 12,000rpm – not too bad for a motorcycle that weighs 199 kilos. No wonder then that the current ’Blade’s top speed is in the region of 290km/h, and it’ll do the standing quarter-mile (400m) in just 10.2 seconds.

The new one is packed with electronics and technology, but the old one is still a beast...

As you’d expect, the 2008 Fireblade has all the correct bits and pieces – slipper clutch, close-ratio six-speed gearbox, twin-spar aluminum chassis, aluminum-alloy hollow-spoke wheels, monobloc radial-mount four-piston front brake calipers, 43mm USD front fork, Unit Pro-Link rear suspension, and Honda’s latest HESD electronic steering damper.

The engine has titanium intake valves, the pistons get molybdenum coating and the cylinders are Nikasil-coated. The stubby little exhaust is tucked down low, MotoGP-style, and signals the end of the underseat exhaust era.

The one on the left looks completely over the top, the 2008 model is more subdued

Compare the 1992 original with the 2008 Fireblade, and you have to admit that the current model isn’t nearly as radical, as pathbreaking as the first CBR900RR was in its time. The new bike has an engine that 100cc larger and 54bhp more powerful. It’s also packed with cutting-edge electronics and the suspension and brakes are in a different league altogether.

On the other hand, the new Fireblade is also about 15kg heavier than the 1992 CBR900RR, and while hugely competent, it didn’t make everything else look completely outdated when it was launched. So, we’d say that in terms of being radical and breaking new ground in sportsbike tech, the 1992 FireBlade probably has the latest one beaten by some margin. Now, Honda, next year how about an 800cc V4-powered 200bhp Fireblade, that weighs 170kg and does 320km/h…

Big CC Racing: 450bhp Suzuki B-King Turbo

450 horsepower should probably be just about enough, eh?
Pics: Big CC Racing

The Suzuki B-King’s 1340cc inline-four already makes 181 horsepower, which should be quite enough really for a naked bike that weighs 235 kilos. But, of course, some people always have to have more. Enter the UK-based Big CC Racing, who’ll be happy to bolt a turbocharger on to your B-King.

With 6psi of boost, their modular turbo system will take the B-King’s power output to 260bhp. Still not enough for you? Big CC will give you bigger injectors and upgraded turbo kits, and your B-King will have in excess of 450 horsepower. The basic kit costs the equivalent of about US$7,000 plus VAT. For more details, visit the Big CC Racing website here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Chinese MotoGP: Valentino Rossi comes back on top in Shanghai

With his first win on Bridgestones in Shanghai, The Doctor is back!!

Dani Pedrosa finished in second place, Stoner took third, while Lorenzo was in fourth place

Nicky Hayden, John Hopkins and Alex de Angelis took 6th, 14th and 16th places respectively...

2008 Chinese MotoGP: Race results from Shanghai:
1. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (B) 44min 8.061 secs
2. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 44min 11.951 secs
3. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 44min 23.989 secs
4. Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 44min 30.555 secs
5. Marco Melandri ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 44min 35.018 secs
6. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 44min 36.430 secs
7. Colin Edwards USA Tech 3 Yamaha (M) 44min 37.841 secs
8. Toni Elias SPA Alice Team (B) 44min 38.286 secs
9. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 44min 39.501 secs
10. Shinya Nakano JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini (B) 44min 44.030 secs
11. Andrea Dovizioso ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP (M) 44min 44.307 secs
12. James Toseland GBR Tech 3 Yamaha (M) 44min 51.252 secs
13. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP (M) 44min 51.503 secs
14. John Hopkins USA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 44min 53.916 secs
15. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Alice Team (B) 44min 54.391 secs
16. Alex de Angelis RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini (B) 44min 58.654 secs
17. Anthony West AUS Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 45min 13.654 secs

Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 12min 37.734 secs

Full race reports here and here

More images from the 2008 Chinese MotoGP

For more hi-res MotoGP wallpaper, go here

Also see:
James Toseland is rich...!
Moto Guzzi V7 Classic: More pics and details
Kevin Schwantz back in MotoGP in 2009?
Parallel World: Mr Sanders prepares to ride around the world. Yet again.
The rocking new BMW S1000RR...
Tokyo Joe's MotoGP-replica GSX-R!

External links:
Hot bikes and babes, on Flickr!
David Emmett's report on the 2008 Chinese MotoGP

We found these Valentino Rossi speakers on Fast Bikes. More here

Saturday, May 03, 2008

James Toseland can afford to buy whatever he wants

With £8 million in his bank account, buying a new bike shouldn't be too much of a problem for this man...
Ex-WSB champ and current Yamaha Tech3 MotoGP rider, James Toseland has made it to the Sunday Times Rich List. With £8 million in his bank, Toseland is at no.65 on the '100 Richest Young People' roster.

Toseland lives in Ramsey, on the Isle of Man, where the maximum amount of income tax payable by anyone, in one year, is £100,000. Standard rate of income tax on the Isle of Man is 10 percent, with a maximum rate of 18 percent, with the amount payable subject to a ceiling of £100,000.

Given that James is probably earning in excess of a million pounds, even after paying off his £100,000 he can still afford to buy a Desmosedici RR, an MV Agusta F4 CC and a Ducati 1098R, all on the same day…

Friday, May 02, 2008

Motorcycle Speedway Racing: Just how brave are you?

Four riders keep turning left over four laps of an oval track, and each race is over in less than a minute. How hard can it be? Very, very hard, apparently. Speedway riders are brave and talented, and the racing is frenetic – an absolute blur of non-stop action. It isn’t very high-tech though – speedway bikes are mostly Czech-made Jawa machines, fitted with 500cc air-cooled SOHC single-cylinder carbureted engines, which burn 100% pure methanol and make about 85 horsepower.

While 85bhp may not sound like much, the bikes themselves weigh only about 80 kilos, so there you are – better power to weight ratios than your 2008 R1, ZX-10R, Fireblade or GSX-R1000! A speedway motorcycle accelerates from zero to 100km/h in less than three seconds, and those who’ve ridden these bikes say it’s the most intense motorcycling experience ever. Just imagine riding your R1 at full pelt, sideways, with no brakes, on a racing circuit that’s not more than 450 meters long, and has a loose surface made of shale, granite or brick granules…

With single-speed gearboxes, tyres no wider than 100mm, and no brakes – that’s right, no brakes at all – speedway bikes are vicious little things that’ll spit you off in an instant and grind you into the track unless you’ve got your riding technique spot on.

Speaking of speedway riding technique, you first need to forget everything you know about riding bikes on the street. Speedway bikes are meant to be ridden around oval dirt tracks, and the machines are meant to be power-steered via the rear wheel, going sideways to go forward. At loony speeds. Chicken out and ease off the throttle, and the rear tyre will stop spinning. And the minute the rear tyre stops spinning and finds grip – when the bike is leant over at high speeds – the machine highsides you into the dirt.

Since there are no brakes, speedway riders slow down by easing off the throttle in a straight line, and there’s an ignition cut-out switch for emergency stops. Speedway bikes haven’t changed much over the last many decades. Engines used to be mounted vertically till the 1990s, and are now mounted horizontally, for a lower centre of gravity. Earlier total loss oiling systems have made way for more conventional oiling, though the oil still has to be changed after every two or three heats in a race.

Suspension has also been improved on modern speedway bikes. No, you don’t get 46mm USD front forks and rear monoshock, with separate adjustments for low- and high-speed damping. What you get is a slightly adjustable leading-link front fork, and yes, that is an improvement over what was available earlier!

Companies that have, at some point, made speedway bikes include JAP, Weslake, Godden, ESO, Datzmann and some others. But the only two companies that still continue to make speedway bikes are Czech Republic-based Jawa, and GM, of Italy.

Speedway racing is popular in parts of Europe, including, among others, Sweden, Poland, Denmark and the UK. On a smaller scale, speedway racing also happens in Argentina, Australia, Czech Republic, Italy, Russia, Slovenia and the US. There are no fancy MotoGP-style motorhomes in speedway and the riders don’t earn much. But for sheer spectacle, we suppose speedway racing is hard to beat. For more details, visit these websites: Speedway World, Speedway Bikes, and Xtreme Sport.

Also see:
Fearsome: The 1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker!
Wild rides: MotoGP vs Bullfighting...
"GSX-Rs are for moped riders..."
MAB Power: BMW K1200R Turbo
The MotoGP-powered KRV5 boardtracker...
Significant firsts in motorcycling...
Hot Singles: Dirtbike-based 450cc road racers
Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo: The quest for 320km/h and more!

External links:
Photo Gallery: Lakeside Hammers vs Ipswitch Witches Speedway

MV Agusta: Special plans for Legend Of The Motorcycle Concours D'Elegance

Expect to see some of the best MV Agusta bikes - past as well as present - at this year's Legend of the Motorcycle Concours D'Elegance event!

MV Agusta will be an ‘honoured marque’ at this year’s Legend of the Motorcycle Concours D’Elegance, and to celebrate, MV are planning to put up a big show at the event. Visitors can expect to see beautifully restored vintage and classic MV Agusta motorcycles, as well as new machines like the F4 RR 312 1078 and the Brutale 1078 RR. MV Agusta watches, made by renowned watchmaker JeanRichard, will also be on display. And fifteen-time motorcycle grand prix racing world champion, Giacomo Agostini will be there to collect a special lifetime achievement award.

In addition to the F4 RR 312 1078 and the Brutale 1078 RR, MV Agusta will also show the handmade F4 CC, the Claudio Castiglioni special-edition bike that costs US$120,000. With only 99 examples ever made, the F4 CC is pretty much the most expensive, most exclusive, most desirable Italian superbike ever.

The 3rd annual Legend of the Motorcycle Concours event will be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California, on Saturday, the 5th of May. The event will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information, please visit the official website here.

Also see:
Noré Sébastien: Airbrush magician for your MV Agusta!
KTM RC8 riding impression...
1098R-based Ducati 1098 F08: Can anyone stop this bike from winning?
Precious Metal: 1964 Bianchi Bicilindrica 500cc GP racer...
Singularly Sexy: The amazing Ducati Supermono
Memorable: The Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans
World War III: The BMW S1000RR prepares to take on the world...

External links:
BMW F800GS riding impression...

Some pics from the 2008 Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d'Elegance event. See more here and here
Pics © Basem Wasef

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Voxan and Sidam part ways

Voxan - on the road to recovery?

According to a report on Motorevue, French motorcycle manufacturer Voxan has taken over the distribution of its motorcycles, terminating the agreement made with Sidam in 2006. According to Eric Terrace, the new president of Voxan, having entrusted the distribution of Voxan machines to Sidam in France and elsewhere in Europe just did not work.

Pierre Laurent-Chauvet, of Sidam, says the decision to part ways was made by mutual agreement. He also implied that Voxan did not have even a basic knowledge of motorcycle distribution. In any case, with only 54 Voxan bikes having been registered in France last year, something, somewhere, was going wrong, and this Voxan-Sidam divorce had already been anticipated by some.

On another note, Eric Terrace says he regrets that the GTV 1200 sports-tourer prototype was unveiled when the actual motorcycle was still in the development stages. ‘If I’m boss, I will not show a motorcycle unless I can deliver it the next day,’ he said.

Earlier mistakes notwithstanding, Voxan may finally be on the comeback trail. The company will now deal directly with its dealers in France and elsewhere in Europe, which could help clean up its operations. Also, after their IPO, and a fresh capital injection of 2.1 million euros in February this year, Voxan motorcycle just might be ready to go places…

Also see:
Tata Group to pick up stake in MV Agusta?
Around the world, Sanders-style...
Memorable: The Moriwaki Dream Fighter!
Tokyo Joe's MotoGP-replica GSX-R1000. Awesome!
Two-stroke Malaguti MR250: Will they, or won't they make it?
Ducati SuperSport Turbo and other Ducati dragbikes...
The Fireblade-powered Rage R180RT
Wild Rides: MotoGP vs Professional Bullfighting!
BMW R1200GS Adventure vs KTM 990 Adventure...

External links:
Scooter Lifestyle: Inside the World of the Modern Mod
First rides: 2008 Triumph Tiger, Sprint ST, Daytona 675 and Speed Triple

Some pics from the London Bikers' trackday, at Brands Hatch. More pics here

Pics: London Bikers

Guzzi-powered trike: The Blackjack Zero

The Moto Guzzi-powered Blackjack Zero
Pics: Blackjack

Involved in the design, development and production of trikes since 1995, Blackjack are now ready with their latest creation – the Zero – which is fitted with a v-twin engine from Moto Guzzi. (On their website, Blackjack have not specified which Guzzi engine, but we think it'll be the 1200cc v-twin.) Designed by Richard Oakes, the Zero, according to its creators, “delivers the excitement of a bike, with greater comfort, more sociability and a reverse gear.’ Er, more sociability? Oh, well, anyway…

The front-wheel-drive Zero’s bodywork comprises of a fibreglass tub with reinforced bulkheads, and the chassis is made of tubular steel. Rack-and-pinion steering, wishbones and adjustable coil-over-damper shocks at the front, and a trailing swingarm and monoshock complete the package. The Zero rides on 17-inch wheels, shod with 215/40 ZR-rated tyres and the 450-kilo trike can seat two people in comfort.

For more details, visit the Blackjack website here.

Also see:
More trikes on Faster and Faster
Ducati 1098 vs KTM RC8 1190!
Tjitze Tjoelker’s homemade Honda V8...
Memorable: The Gilera SP01 and SP02
Lamborghini Design 90: It's all bull!
Classic: The mid-1980s Honda VF1000R
The world's fastest man vs the world's fastest bike!

Random Ramblings