Saturday, July 05, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI to ride in Indian-made Piaggio three-wheeler

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and his Piaggio Ape Calessino-based Popemobile. Funky!

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is getting a cool new set of wheels. No, not the Maserati Quattroporte. The Pope will soon be whizzing around the Vatican City in a custom-made Piaggio three-wheeler. Based on the Ape Calessino, the Popemobile has been made by Piaggio’s Indian subsidiary in Baramati, in India.

Two of these specially built Popemobiles, which bear the Vatican City insignia, have been presented to the Pope by Piaggio. In keeping with papal requirements, both three-wheelers have been painted white, with white leather seats and white hood. Even the tyres have white sidewalls. Totally cool, eh?

Also see:
Fast and funky: Some of the coolest trikes in the world...!
Motorcycles of the Gods: The MV Agusta F4 CC and the Ducati Desmosedici RR
Master Blasters: Suzuki B-King vs Yamaha V-Max!
Isle of Man to host 'green GP' in 2009...
Suzuki Gemma 250 goes on sale in Japan...
On three wheels and a prayer: 70-year-olds set off on 5,440km roadtrip...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Ducati Berliner Apollo: The 1960s V-Max

Berliner Apollo: A Ducati with a 100bhp V4, in the 1960s!

The current-model Yamaha V-Max, with its near-200bhp 1700cc V4, is pretty wild all right. But it certainly isn’t the first of its type. Ducati made their 'V-Max' back in the 1960s. Only, theirs was called the Apollo…

Back in the early 1960s, Ducati importers in the US, the Berliner brothers asked Ducati to make a machine that would rival the best that Harley-Davidson had to offer at the time – something that could be used by the American police. Berliner were so gung-ho about this, they even agreed to share part of the development costs for the new bike.

Thus, designed for the American market, the Ducati Berliner Apollo was born in 1964. The bike’s engine – a 1257cc, OHV, 8-valve, 90-degree V4 that churned out 100 horsepower at 7000rpm – was designed by Ducati’s legendary Fabio Taglioni. The air-cooled V4 was fed by a quartet of Dellorto TT 24 carburetors, the gearbox was a five-speed unit, and final drive was by chain.

This is the one and only Ducati Apollo that survives today. Nobody knows what happened to the first, gold-painted prototype (pics at the top of the page)
The Apollo’s chassis was made of steel – a mix of tubular and box-section parts – and used the engine as a stressed member. The bike rode on 16-inch wheels, suspension – developed by Ceriani – was a regular telescopic fork at front and twin shocks at the rear, and 220mm drum brakes were used at both ends. The Apollo weighed in 270 kilos dry.

The problem was, the tyres of that era were not able to cope with a 100bhp bike that weighed 270kg – the Apollo simply shredded its tyres to bits. Ducati tried reducing the power output to 80 and then 65bhp, and Pirelli tried making special tyres for the bike, but the Apollo never really worked. Ducati test rider of that time, Franco Farne said the bike handled like a truck.

Ducati and Berliner had hoped to sell the Apollo in the US for $1,500 to $1,800 but the bike never got to the market at all. The Italian government decided that the very limited market for the bike would not justify the costs of tooling and production, and withdrew funding for the project, effectively killing it off. Only two prototypes of the Berliner Apollo were ever made, of which one survives today.

The only surviving Ducati Berliner Apollo belongs to one Hiroaki Iwashita, who bought the bike for $17,000 in 1986 from DomiRacer, a vintage bike parts specialist based in Cincinnati, in the US. Bob Schanz, the man who owns DomiRacer, had purchased the bike from Berliner when the company shut down in 1984.

Bike journalist Alan Cathcart got to ride the Apollo some time back...
Pics: Motorcyclist
Bike journalist Alan Cathcart got to ride the Ducati Berliner Apollo some time ago, for Motorcyclist magazine. ‘Once astride the Apollo, you're immediately surprised at how low slung and slim it feels. The high, pullback handlebar is very ’60s, and combined with the well-placed footpegs, delivers surprisingly comfy ergos. Just chill out and cruise,’ says Cathcart.

‘The engine sounds like an American V8 rather than an Italian four, and the Apollo’s exhaust note is quite loud and very unlike that of any Honda V4,’ says Cathcart. ‘I was impressed with how smoothly the Apollo took off from rest, even with the clutch slipping slightly, though upshifting through the gears brought the Apollo's age to light. Once securely in gear, the Apollo thrusts forward eagerly with a long-legged feel, especially in the intermediate gears.’

'Compared with a pre-Isoelastic British twin or any Harley ever made, the Apollo is a sewing machine to a concrete mixer in terms of vibration and riding comfort, with only a BMW Boxer of the era delivering anything close to the same smoothness. Out of respect for the bike's rarity, and the lack of any spares, I didn't rev it out. But even at a higher rpm the same unruffled, lazy-feeling response we came to take for granted a decade later on any V-twin bearing the Ducati badge is evident on the Apollo.'
'At a time when there were no four-cylinder motorcycles of any type on the market, the Apollo would have established a standard of performance and rider comfort that, even a decade later, would set the benchmark for the Japanese. Truly, this was a bike ahead of its time,’ concludes Cathcart.
Also see:
1952: When Ducati made scooters...!
1948 Vintage: The Ducati Cucciolo
Memorable: The mighty M√ľnch Mammut TTS-E
The mid-1950s Moto Guzzi V8 racer...
NSU 500 Kompressor: 320km/h in 1956!
The 1970s Laverda V6 Bol d'Or racer...
Britten V1000: The greatest motorcycle ever made?
NRV 588: The Norton Rotary lives again...

Get fitter, rider better. Stretch, with Susana Spears...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

K7 model Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000

We don't know how much money they've spent on it, but this 2007 model Yoshimura Suzuki
GSX-R1000 looks absolutely magnificient...!
Pic: PB mag forum

Here’s yet another awesome looking GSX-R1000, from the PB mag forum. Seems the Brits are making some of the best Japanese repli-racers in the world! Built by one Mark Hanna, this 2007 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 looks like it’s had a huge amount of money spent on it – and the end result seems well worth the effort.

The bike has had a full engine rebuild, with ST-R Type-R factory cams, bigger injectors, cylinder head porting and head skimming, Rizla Suzuki factory slipper clutch, full factory Yoshimura Titanium Carbon exhaust, specially fabricated aluminium alloy fuel tank, lots of carbonfibre bits, and very high-spec Brembo brakes.

The Yosh GSX-R rides on 17-inch, black-painted Marchesini wheels shod with Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier RR tyres. The front forks are Ohlins FG8 units, and there’s a TT36 Ohlins monoshock at the back. The bike is also due to get an Ohlins steering damper. The race-replica paintjob has been executed by Dream Machine. Absolutely fantastic…

Yes indeed, this Yoshi-Gixxer is one of the hottest repli-racers ever...

More repli-racers:
Japan-only Dream Honda Racing-replica Fireblade...
MotoGP-replica GSX-R1000s: Here, here, and here!
Heron Suzuki GB Replica GSX-R1100
Yamaha RD500-based Max Biaggi replica
Suzuki RG500-based Barry Sheene replica
The greatest Rossi-replica ever...!!

This is 18-year-old Brandy Valdez. She may not have a Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, but she sure as hell can ride. Way to go, lady!

Bandito: Hannigan Motorsports’ Kawasaki ZX-14 sidecar

A 320km/h sidecar combo? But of course...

Along with the wife, what if you also wanted to take your mum-in-law for a ride on your 320km/h Kawasaki ZX-14? Why, get Hannigan’s ZX-14 sidecar kit – the Bandito – of course. The US-based Hannigan Motorsports will sell a brand-new ZX-14 Bandito outfit to you for a mere US$18,000.

Hannigan say the ZX-14 Bandito is incredibly easy to steer, has a low centre of gravity and with its adjustable caster, wide, low-profile tyres, anti-sway bar, and high-performance suspension, can be easily cornered at high speeds. And, they say, it’s equally easy to ride for beginners as it’s for experienced sidecar riders. All we can say is, its beats taking a car any day…

Here's one of Hannigan's ZX-14 Bandito outfits in action in the real world...
Pic: Killboy

Also see:
Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo: 320km/h and beyond...
Battle of the Ninjas: Kawasaki ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400!
Face-off: 2007 vs 2008 Kawasaki ZZR1400
Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850: Holy Kaw!
170bhp Kawasaki ZRX1100 Turbo...
Allen Millyard's 2300cc, V12-powered Kawasaki!
1988 Kawasaki ZX-10 vs 2004 ZX-10R...
Blown Away: Supercharged Kawasaki ZRX1200...

Will SHARP lead to better, safer helmets for motorcyclists?

Regardless of how 'cool' it looks, a motorcycle helmet is so utterly useless if it can't save your life in the event of a crash. Yes, bikers need super-strict helmet safety standards...
Pics: Killboy

Many motorcyclists don't really know much about how safe their helmets may or may not be. There is the Snell certification for helmets in the US, and ECE 22.05 in Europe, but not too many riders probably know what these mean or imply, or which is better.

The UK government-backed Safety Helmet Assessment Ratings Program (SHARP), which comes into effect from this year, is trying to change things. Under this program, helmets will be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the best rating) so that buyers will have a clear idea of just how good a helmet is when it comes to its crash protection abilities.

With some top brand name helmets from companies like AGV, Arai and Shoei scoring lower SHARP ratings than some cheaper helmets from ‘budget brands’ like Nitro and Lazer, SHARP ratings indicate that more expensive helmets may not necessarily be better than some of the cheaper ones.

‘The new tests do not go far enough. SHARP do not look at the methods of construction and manufacturers’ track record in racing accidents. Nor do they use repeated or random impacts,’ says Ferry Brouwer, who’s worked on developing Arai helmets for more than 25 years.

SHARP tests are designed to log the effects of a specific impact of between 6.5 and 8.5 metres per second on specially selected points of the helmet's outer shell – both head-on, and a simulated glancing blow. The impact speed is slightly higher than the existing ECE 22.05 regulations, but SHARP doesn’t test impacts on the chinbar section of the lid, or do repeated impacts on one area, like Arai do in their own factory tests for example.

‘In the US, the Snell Foundation do random impact point testing, and by not telling manufacturers which points will be tested, it prevents makers from strengthening particular areas on the helmet shell. Arai also believe that a penetration test of the shell is crucial, as no two motorcycle accidents are the same and such incidents can happen sadly,’ says Brouwer.

According to Arai, here are some things which you should look at, when buying a helmet:

1. Check the fit carefully. It should be snug, but not uncomfortably tight, with little up and down, or side-to-side movement when worn.

2. The `D ring' type chinstrap fastening offers the most accurate adjustment to an individual head, rather than the ‘seat belt’ type catches some manufacturers use. A helmet has to stay on your head in an accident to save your life.

3. Because of the gradual reduction of performance in any helmet's inner EPS lining, motorcycle helmets should be replaced at least once every five years.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce: “It pulls like a locomotive!”

The Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce. Looks good. Goes hard. And above all, 'it pulls like a locomotive,' so you don't have to do the hard work... ;-)

The guys at SpecialMag recently got to ride the 2008 Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce at the Misano circuit in Italy, and here’s some of what they had to say about the bike:

The Corsaro 1200 Veloce is fitted with Moto Morini’s 1,187cc ‘Bialbero CorsaCorta’ eight-valve liquid-cooled v-twin, which makes 140 horsepower at 8,500rpm and 123Nm of torque at 6,500rpm. This engine, which breathes out through a Termignoni exhaust system, pulls like a locomotive!

Suspension is fully-adjustable Sachs monoshock at the rear and 50mm USD Marzocchi fork at front. The bike handles very well, changing direction quickly and decisively, and grip is never an issue with the Corsaro Veloce’s Pirelli Diablo rubber. The brakes, too, are very strong, lifting the rear wheel off the tarmac with ease.

On the circuit, the Moto Morini is a joy to ride and the torque produced by that v-twin ensures that you don’t have to keep changing gears all the time. In fact, most of the time, you can get away with using one gear higher than you need to use with most inline-four Japanese machines…

Overall, a brilliant machine.

A road test video of the Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce

Also see:
Memorable: The Laverda 750 Formula S
Small wonders: The Gilera SP01 and SP02
From dream to disaster: The Morbidelli 850 V8
The very cool Moto Morini Granpasso...
Riding impression: Bimota Tesi 3D Carbon
For the love of Ducati: The most awesome Desmosedici RR video ever!

Suzuki Gemma 250 goes on sale in Japan

For a mere 700,000 yen, you can take Gemma home with you. But only in Japan

According to a report on Motociclismo, the Suzuki Gemma, first seem at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, is now on sale in the Japanese market. Of course, if there’s one place in the world where the Gemma will look right at home, it’s the streets of Tokyo, so that’s where it’s headed right now…

Powered by a modified version of the Suzuki Burgman’s single-cylinder 250cc engine, the Gemma 250 rides on 14-inch (front) and 13-inch (rear) wheels, has the usual CVT driveline, and in Japan, costs 700,000 yen – about US$6,600 – a bargain for something that looks so very cool…

More Suzukis:
Suzuki Crosscage: Riding the future...
Streetfighter: Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R 7/11
Suzuki B-King vs Yamaha V-Max!
The hottest MotoGP-replica GSX-R1000 ever...
Suzuki GSX-R1100: Heron Suzuki GB Replica
Big CC Racing's 450bhp Suzuki B-King Turbo!

External links:
A bunch of cool pics, videos and links for Triumph fans...

Scooters not your style? See these GSX-Rs then: The first, 1985 GSX-R750, the 1988 Slingshot, and the 1996 GSX-R which started the GSX-R comeback against the FireBlade
Pics: London Bikers

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Yamaha RD-engined Cagiva Mito 350

A 62bhp Mito is indeed what Cagiva should be building themselves...Pics: PB mag forum

Found this Cagiva Mito, which supposedly uses a 350cc two-stroke engine, on the PB mag forum. The webpage doesn’t say anything about which two-stroke 350cc engine has been used, but we suppose it would be the Yamaha RD350 engine. The owner says it’s been tuned to make 62bhp.

The Cagiva Mito has also been fitted with the front end from an Aprilia RS250, 320mm front brake disc with six-piston calipers, Ohlins steering damper, NK Racing exhaust system, 34mm Mikuni flatslide carbs and Bridgestone BT090 rubber. Should be fun…!

Also see:
The best two-stroke sportsbikes ever...
Yamaha RD500-based MotoGP replica...
The BEST MotoGP-replica ever...
Heavy Hitters: Suzuki B-King vs Yamaha V-Max!
The Kawasaki ZX-10R from hell...
One hot MotoGP-replica GSX-R1000...
Ducati SuperSport Turbo dragbike...!