Friday, July 11, 2008

Harley-Davidson acquires MV Agusta and Cagiva for US$110 million


Yes, it's done. Harley have finally bought MV Agusta...

After weeks (months?) of speculation, it’s finally official – Harley-Davidson are buying a 100% stake in MV Agusta, for US$110 million. This amount will also take care of MV’s US$70 million bank debt. The acquisition is expected to be completed in a few weeks from now.

Apart from the money that Harley is paying now, the sale agreement provides for a contingent payment to Claudio Castiglioni, in 2016, if certain financial targets are met. Until now, the MV Agusta Group was privately held, with the Castiglioni family holding 95 percent of MV shares.

With the MV Agusta Group having sold off its Husqvarna brand to BMW last year, the group now sells bikes under the MV Agusta and Cagiva brands. The company has about 500 dealers worldwide, with most of them being in Europe.

MV will continue to operate from its headquarters in Varese, Italy. Harley will bring in new management and a new managing director, who’ll hopefully start work on new product development. Of course, the company will continue making current models in the foreseeable future.

Claudio Castiglioni will continue in his current position as chairman of the MV Agusta Group, and will play a key role in the development of new bikes. And yes, MV’s design chief Massimo Tamburini will also still be there, doing what he does best – designing absolutely glorious Italian motorcycles.

‘Our customers seek an uncompromising experience in premium performance motorcycles. And with Harley-Davidson's deep understanding of the emotional as well as the business side of motorcycling, I have great confidence that our motorcycles will excite customers for generations to come,’ said Castiglioni.

With this acquisition, Harley hopes to be able to expand its presence in Europe.

Here are some pics from the 15th MV Agusta Revival meet held recently in Varese, Italy


Also see:
Kawasaki: The future is bright, the future is orange!
Bimota DB7 riding impression...
Face-off: KTM RC8 vs Ducati 1098...
Desmosedici RR: For the love of Ducati...
Suzuki B-King vs Yamaha V-Max!
Ducati Berliner Apollo: The 1960s V-Max...

External links:
Bikes, camera, action! Harley's contest for female filmmakers...
1971 Triumph TR6C Trophy vs 2007 Triumph Scrambler 900...
Face-off: 1974 MV Agusta 750S vs modern-day F4 750!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In conversation with 1999 500cc world champ, Alex Criville


Spaniard Alex Criville, 1999 500cc world champ

Ask motorcycle grand prix racing fans to name who they think is best racer of all time, and almost everybody says the same few names – Agostini, Dunlop, Hailwood, Sheene, Roberts, Spencer, Lawson, Gardner, Rainey, Schwantz, Doohan and Rossi. Few people remember names like Marco Lucchinelli (1981 500cc world champ), Franco Uncini (1982 500cc world champ) or indeed Spanish rider Alex Criville, who won the 500cc world championship in 1999.

Criville, who won the 125cc world title in 1989, with JJ Cobas, rode for Repsol Honda in the 500cc class in the 1990s. But for most of his career, he was overshadowed by that hugely talented and fiercely determined Aussie, Mick Doohan, who won no less than five consecutive 500cc world titles – from 1994 to 1998. That doesn’t, however, take away anything from the fact that Criville – who became the first Spaniard to win a 500cc world championship – was a very accomplished racer in his own right.

Today, 38-year-old Criville is a TV commentator for a Spanish TV channel and quietly follows the MotoGP brigade around the world, keeping in touch with the sport he loved so much. Motociclismo recently had the opportunity to speak to the man, and here are some excerpts from that conversation:

On what he does these days
‘After you retire, there is much less ‘competition’ in your life. I enjoy being with my family. I still follow racing though, which is what I like. And I still like motorcycles, but from another perspective – without the danger of competition.’

On whether he enjoys life as a TV commentator

‘I always used to love racing and I used to wait for the moment when the lights would go from red to green. It’s still the same now – when I’m in the paddock, I can’t wait for the races to begin. I love watching MotoGP races. But I’m now tired of other things – the travel, the waiting, going up and down all over the world, spending so much time away from home…’

On whether he misses anything about his racing days

‘The adrenaline, the tension and all the other sensations associated with motorcycle racing – those I don’t have now. Sometimes, you do think something is missing. And that something, nothing can replace.’

On the risks associated with motorcycle racing

‘The risk and the injuries are the negative parts of racing. You look at the accidents and you realize just how dangerous this sport is. I think I’m privileged to have retired early. Sooner or later, it’s time for you to stop.’

On the current state of MotoGP

‘I think it's an increasingly complicated world. But it works. The best racers are here, the best brands are here, and the championship is the number one. However, I remember being with thirty racers on the grid, and now there are eighteen. I think we need at least ten more, to increase the level of competition.’


Alex was the first Spanish rider ever to win the 500cc world championship...

‘MotoGP has reached a point where the motorcycles are now extremely sophisticated – the technology has advanced and there’s the electronics to contend with. This also means that now not everyone can assemble a MotoGP team. Previously, it was more affordable. The factory teams can deal with the expense but for satellite teams, things have become tougher.’

On whether he thinks there should be more tyre brands in MotoGP

‘On the contrary, it would be better to have a single tyre brand in MotoGP, so that one factor would cease to matter. Right now, you can have a great motorcycle and a good team, but if you happen to have tyres that are not the best, you cannot win.’

On which bikes and which racers he’d choose for his own team, if he had one

‘In MotoGP, both Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo are two front-line racers, and I’d like to have them on my team. And for me, the best bike is Honda, despite the fact that Yamaha has, this year, has made a very good bike which is technologically more balanced. As for tyres, I have always been a Michelin man and I've never had any problems with them.’

On the evolution of MotoGP from 500cc to 990cc to 800cc

‘To me, the 990s seemed very well even though the 800s seem to be going even faster now. More power and less traction control – that seemed fine to me. That was a road that was a bit more aggressive, not as conservative as that of the MotoGP today.’

On whether he thinks Pedrosa can win the MotoGP world championship this year

‘I believe he’s ready. It’s his third year in MotoGP, he is fast and consistent, and he’s able to win races. At HRC, the rule is that your first year is to learn and to take podium finishes. In the second, you must regularly be struggling to win races. And in the third year, it's time to fight for the World Championship.’

‘But then again, obviously, Casey Stoner is also prepared. And also Valentino Rossi, who has already won many times – nobody doubts that he is prepared!’

Also see:
2008 MotoGP race results and hi-res wallpaper...
The greatest MotoGP-replica in the world...!
Sete Gibernau returns to MotoGP... as a test rider!
Libero Liberati: MotoGP world champ, half a century ago...
Colin Edwards talks about The Doctor...
In conversation with Jeremy Burgess
Battle of the Brits: Carl Fogarty vs James Toseland!

Fun One: Volkswagen shows futuristic trike concept


Volkswagen's fancy new trike concept, the One

Volkswagen have launched their ‘Visions of the Future’ website, where they showcase the cars – and, it seems, trikes – they may be building twenty years from now. And the one thing that caught our attention was, er, the One, a rather cool three-wheeler concept.

While it still won’t be able to fly, the VW One will be able to communicate with other similar vehicles, ‘see’ traffic signals and respond to them, find parking space and then park itself automatically, and link up with other One trikes to effortlessly find its way through rush hour traffic.

Back in May this year, we had reported that VW wants to start making motorcycles, perhaps with some help from KTM. We don’t know if that’s still on, but if not, the least VW can do is build the One as soon as they can…

Also see:
The coolest trikes in the world...
2008 MotoGP race reports and hi-res wallpaper...
Alfa Romeo 147 Ducati Corse edition...
V5-powered Honda VFR1000 is coming out later this year!
H.H. The Pope to ride in Indian-made Piaggio trike...
Yamaha RD-engined Cagiva Mito 350!
Hubless wheels for your motorcycle...?
DVD review: Riding solo to the top of the world

External links:
Project T25: Gordon Murray's take on the future of personal transport...
Bimota to take on Ducati Hypermotard with DB8 Veleno?
Luis D’Antin steps down as Alice Ducati MotoGP team boss!

Honda DN-01: Riding the scooter-motorcycle hybrid


The Honda DN-01. We really do hope this isn't the future of motorcycling...

It barely looks like a motorcycle at all, and while the DN-01 may be Honda’s vision of what motorcycles will become, it most certainly isn’t ours. Still, just how good (or not…) is this scooter-motorcycle hybrid when it comes to the actual riding part? The men at Motociclismo recently had a go, and here’s what they had to say about the Honda DN-01:

A few weeks ago, we said the CB1000R seemed to have been taken from a comic strip. Now, with the DN-01, we have a machine that far exceeds anything that can be said about Honda’s other bikes. The DN-01 is not just different – it’s created an altogether new category of motorcycle.

In theory, it may be easy to mix a scooter with a cruiser-type motorcycle. In practice, it can be difficult. Still, if there’s one company that could have pulled off something like the DN-01, it is Honda. Everyone who sees this bike has something to say about it – beautiful, futuristic, rare or whatever else – but nobody can ignore it.

The DN-01 is fitted with Honda’s 680cc v-twin, which is also used in the Deauville and the XL700V Transalp. But the DN-01 uses a new type of automatic transmission, which Honda have labeled HFT – Human Friendly Transmission. And while the engineering behind this is complex, what really matters is that in the real world, it works perfectly. The steel tube cradle-type chassis is quite conventional and works well, the suspension is an equally conventional fork/monoshock setup and the DN-01 comes with Honda’s latest anti-lock brakes.


If there's one company that could have pulled off something like the DN-01, it's Honda. And they have

With the swept-back handlebars and low seat, the riding position is like that of a normal cruiser. On paper, the DN-01 is a long and heavy bike, but its dynamic qualities are actually very good. The bike is stable at low speeds and remains that way at higher speeds. The only limitation, during high-speed cornering, is that the DN-01 runs out of ground clearance too soon…

The 680cc Honda v-twin is delightful, offering linear power delivery and no vibration. The HFT can be used a full automatic – you can choose the ‘Sports’ mode if you’re so inclined – or it can be used as a six-speed manual, with clutch-less shifting. Either way, it works extremely well.

Motorcycle or scooter? You decide. But there’s no denying the fact that the DN-01 is a revolutionary piece of work from Honda. The bike will be available in Honda showrooms from the first week of August...

Also see:
Bat Pod: Batman rides...!
Piaggio Ape Calessino: His Holiness The Pope rides...!!
Moto Morini Corsaro 1200 Veloce riding impression...
SHARP: Safer helmets for motorcyclists?
Bimota Tesi 3D Carbon riding impression...
Isle of Man to host 'green' GP in 2009...

External links:
Turbine jet-powered electric bike on eBay...!
Bimota DB7 picture gallery...
After X-Bow, KTM is now working on other cars...
15 of the craziest sidecar outfits ever...


No, the DN-01 just doesn't work for us. That CB1100R - now that looks amazing. And the simulated rendering of the VTR SP3 looks quite all right too. These are the kind of bikes Honda need to build...
SP3 pic: PB mag forum

Just bought that new Fireblade, GSX-R1000, ZX-10R or R1? You know you need to work on your physical fitness to be able to really ride any of those bikes. Susana Spears is here to help...!

Monday, July 07, 2008

New and improved: 2009 BMW G650 XCountry


The BMW G650 XCountry is now being made in China, but is none the worse for it...

Pics: Motoblog

BMW first showed the G650 XMoto, XChallenge and XCountry in October 2006. Now, the XCountry is the first of the trio to get a mild update. The bike is available with the new ‘sunset yellow’ paintjob you see here, suspension has been firmed up and travel has been reduced, seat height has been lowered, brake and clutch levers have been made adjustable and the bike now weighs in at 149.5kg dry.

The BMW G650’s single-cylinder, 652cc engine remains as before, producing 53bhp and 60Nm of torque. Braking is via 300mm (front) and 265mm (rear) discs. ABS is optional and can be switched off when the bike is being ridden off-road.

BMW have moved production of their G-series bikes to China, to take advantage of the lower production costs there. In fact, the single-cylinder engine used on the G650 range is actually manufactured by Loncin, a Chinese company that makes motorcycles, motorcycle engines and various motorcycle components.

However, being made in China has done no harm to the BMW G650 XCountry. The people at Motociclismo, who recently rode the bike, say that the quality and overall fit-and-finish is excellent. The engine vibrates at higher revs, but is powerful enough to let the bike lope along at a fair pace, without having to be redlined constantly. So, yes, priced at around US$10,600 the BMW G650 XCountry is now better than ever before…

Also see:
The BMW F800GS and F650GS
The Hyosung GT650X...
Yamaha XT660Z Tenere promo video...
EDR Performance's 131bhp Yam R6...
The KTM 690 Duke, in action...
Diesel-powered Kawasaki KLR650s for the US Army...
2008 Ducati Monster 696...
Triumph Daytona 675: Scuderia Triumph-SC repli-racer...

External links:
2008 BMW R1200R picture gallery...
The future's electric: 1986 battery-powered Honda VFR750
2008 Yamaha Fest picture gallery...
Face-off: 1978 Moto Guzzi Le Mans vs 1980 Ducati 900 SS!

Triumph Daytona 675: Scuderia Triumph-SC replica launched


The US$22,000 Triumph Daytona 675 Scuderia Triumph-SC replica

This is the first year when Triumph – along with the Scuderia SC Team – are competing in the World Supersport Championship, with the Daytona 675. To celebrate this partnership, Triumph-SC have produced a replica of Garry McCoy’s World Supersport Daytona 675, which is now available in Europe for the equivalent of about US$22,000. For those who’d rather convert their Daytona 675 themselves, the standalone replica kit is also available at US$5,500.

Its makers claim that the Daytona 675 Scuderia Triumph-SC replica’s engine is an exact copy of the Superstock 600 machine’s engine – which means it should be quite a bit more powerful than the stock bike. There’s also a Dynojet Power Commander, Termignoni’s titanium racing exhaust, dark windscreen, various carbonfibre bits, and Garry McCoy replica paintwork and Triumph SC decal kit on the bike.

The bike rides on Pirelli SuperCorsa rubber, and the brakes and suspension have all been uprated, reworked and tweaked to match the added go and show. Looks pretty cool to us. For more information, visit the Triumph SC website here and here is a picture gallery of the bike being tested by Special mag.

More Racer-replicas:
Tokyo Joe's MotoGP-replica GSX-R1000...
Yamaha RD500-based Max Biaggi replica...
The greatest Rossi-replica ever...
Orcas' MotoGP-replica Gixxer...
Suzuki RG500 Barry Sheene replica...
Chris Vermeulen replica GSX-R1000...
Dream Honda Racing and other race-rep Fireblades...

External links:
The future's electric: Mark Gardiner rides the Zero X
Need to take a cab in Paris? Get one of these...
1957 TWN BDG125L: A singular Triumph...!

Special Edition Alfa Romeo 147 Ducati Corse


Alfa Romeo and Ducati have come together to produce the Alfa 147 Ducati Corse

Alfa Romeo, official car suppliers to the Ducati Corse racing team, have teamed up with Ducati to produce the special edition Alfa 147 Ducati Corse. If it’s raining/snowing really hard and you don’t want to take the 1098R or Desmosedici RR out of the garage, one of these Alfas just might do…

The Alfa 147 Ducati Corse is fitted with Alfa Romeo’s 1.9-litre, 16-valve, 170bhp JTDM turbodiesel. The handling is said to be sporty, courtesy Alfa Romeo’s Q2 system, and there’s a ‘Sport’ button in the car that varies the fuel injection mapping – mash the accelerator pedal and off you go. Hard. The car will do zero to 100km/h in 8 seconds, and hit a top speed of about 215km/h.

The Alfa 147 Ducati Corse also gets specially designed 18-inch alloy wheels, 225/40 R18 tyres, red-painted brake calipers, leather seats, a rear spoiler, and… er, Ducati decals. Available colour choices are red, black and white. For more details, visit the Alfa Romeo website here

Also see:
Pope Benedict XVI to ride in Indian-made Piaggio three-wheeler!
Yamaha RD-engined Cagiva Mito 350...
Face-off: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo!
Ferrari bikes, anyone...?
Ducati 999-powered Fiat 500!
The amazing KTM X-Bow...
Wild Ride: Peugeot V6-powered motorcycle...

External links:
Riding Impression: MV Agusta F4 1000 Tamburini
Moto Republic: A bunch of exciting motorcycle projects...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bat Pod: More pics and details


Hub-centre steering, twin engines - one mounted in each wheel hub - and machine guns! If this Bat bike isn't the perfect machine on which to commute to work, we don't know what is

The Dark Knight is one cool movie – we love the fact that Mr Bat chooses to ride a motorcycle when he needs to really get going. And, of course, since he’s a Dark Knight, the caped crusader gets a fully tricked-out bike on which he can take out the baddies.

The Bat Pod was conceptualized by Nathan Crowley, who also created the Batmobile for Warners Bros’ earlier ‘Batman Begins’ movie. The actual Bat bike was built by Chris Corbould, who built not one but six units of the bike, most of which were crashed during the filming of The Dark Knight.

The Bat Pod actually runs, though Corbould has not revealed which engine it’s fitted with, or exactly how fast it goes. In the film, French stunt rider Jean-Pierre Goy is the man who’s ridden the Bat bike and he says the bike is quite hard to ride. But then it would be, since it doesn’t even have any handlebars – the Bat Pod is steered via shoulder shields that have sleeves which accommodate Batman’s arms. Er…, no, don’t try that at home…

Update (17th July, 2009): If you like the Bat Pod, you'll probably also like this. So now while you can't have his bike, at least you can look like Batman when you're out riding... ;-))

Also see:
Ducati Berliner Apollo: The 1960s V-Max!
Suzuki Gemma 250: The funkiest scooter ever is now on sale in Japan...
One HOT Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000...
Riding impression: Bimota Tesi 3D Carbon
The amazing MotoMorphic JaFM#1...
A Buell-based female robot for the next Transformers movie...
Feeling rich today? Get this swingarm for your Ducati 1098!
UDO: Twisted Trikes’ FireBlade-powered three-wheeler...
Bimota DB7 riding impression...

External links:
Some older bikes that Batman used to ride in the 1960s...
LM23: LusoMotors' Fireblade-powered sportscar!
Moto Guzzi fans, rejoice!

2009 Honda VFR1000 to be officially revealed later this year


A simulated rendering of the 2009 Honda VFR1000
Pic: Motociclismo

We first wrote about the 2009 Honda VFR1000 in August last year. Now, according to a report on Motociclismo, Honda are finally ready with their brand-new VFR1000, which will replace the ageing VFR800 and the erstwhile CBR1100XX Super Blackbird. And according to the report, the VFR1000 will be ready by September this year!

The 2009 VFR1000 will be fitted with 1,000cc V5, which would be an evolution of the five-cylinder, 990cc RC211V engine. No, the VFR1000 will not be anything like the Desmosedici RR. The Honda will still be a sports-tourer, albeit an extremely fast and high-tech one.

The VFR1000’s V5 engine will share its basic architecture – three cylinders facing the front, two facing the rear – with the RC211V MotoGP machine. Honda have been working on the new VFR for the last five years, and everything they’ve learnt with the RC211V is likely to be put to good use on their first V5-powered streetbike.

The V5 Honda VFR1000 project is, according to Motociclismo, being led by Yoshiteru Kinoshita, who’s working with engineers from HRC as well as the team that worked on creating the 2008 CBR1000RR. The aim, it seems, is to build a bike that features absolutely unparalleled electronics, braking, engine and chassis technologies. And knowing Honda, they’ll probably pull it off too. Now all we have to do is somehow wait till September…

Also see:
Classic: The mid-1980s Honda VF1000R
In XESS: Honda CB1000R-based streetfighter from Italy
Can Honda work the CB1100R magic once more?
RVF750R RC45: The most lust-worthy Honda ever made...
Honda DN-01: The future of motorcycling?
Tjitze Tjoelker’s homemade Honda V8!
Battle of the 'Blades: 1992 CBR900RR vs 2008 CBR1000RR
Honda: 2010 and beyond...

External links:
Battery Power: 1986 Honda VFR electric conversion...


...and this is the new Honda CBF Stunner, which was recently launched in the Indian market. More details on India Automotive here

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