Saturday, September 27, 2008

Face-off: Honda vs Zonda!


Two wheels and 178bhp inline-four vs four wheels and 678bhp V12? Bring it on!
Right, we admit part of the reason why we did this story was so we could use that headline. Some other shootouts may be more sensible, but for sheer fun, and for the heck of it, ‘Honda vs Zonda’ is hard to beat…

Round 1: The Styling

So let’s start. And to begin with, we have Honda’s latest Fireblade. Launched last year, the new Fireblade’s rounded, bulbous lines were a radical break from the previous model’s sharper, more angular lines. We think the ’Blade looks a bit like its MotoGP cousin, the Honda RC212V, and how bad can that be? Still, most would agree that the current CBR1000RR can’t be compared to an MV Agusta F4 or Ducati 1098 in the looks department…

Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade
F&F Score: 6/10

On to the Pagani then, and what we have here is the Zonda Cinque, a limited edition variant of what’s already one of the most exclusive supercars in the world! Indeed, the Cinque is the road-legal version of the racetrack-only Zonda R, and only five of these have been built. It isn’t beautiful to look at, ‘brutal’ is more like it. And we think those red leather seats are a bit excessive even in a car like this…

Pagani Zonda Cinque
F&F Score: 6/10

We wonder which one would the ladies prefer...
Round 2: The Engine

The CBR1000RR Fireblade is fitted with Honda’s 999cc, liquid-cooled, 16-valve, DOHC inline-four, which pumps out 178 horsepower at 12,000rpm. This engine is a masterpiece of performance engineering and is packed with technology – dual-stage fuel-injection (DSFI) with two injectors per cylinder, computer-controlled digital transistorized ignition with three-dimensional mapping, titanium intake valves, MotoGP-derived ram-air system, forged aluminium pistons with molybdenum coating, removable cylinder block with Nikasil-coated cylinders, Iridium-tip spark plugs… and we could go on.

Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade
F&F Score: 8/10


The Pagani Zonda Cinque is almost as impressive in the engine department – it packs a 7.3-litre Mercedes-Benz V12 that’s been tweaked by AMG and produces 678 horsepower and 780Nm of torque. The engine’s ECU, which controls everything from the anti-lock brakes to the traction control system, was designed by Bosch and is said to be the best in the business.

Pagani Zonda Cinque
F&F Score: 7/10

Both, the Honda and the Zonda, are performance fiends down to their last bhp...
Round 3: The Performance
Fully fueled and ready to go, the Fireblade weighs a claimed 199 kilos. With 178bhp (about 160bhp at the rear wheel) on tap, the bike accelerates from zero to 160km/h in 5.41 seconds and does the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 10.32 seconds. The Fireblade’s top speed is around 280km/h, which, from a standing start, it reaches in less than 20 seconds. Fast enough for you?

Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade
F&F Score: 8/10


If the ’Blade is quick, the 1200-kilo Zonda Cinque doesn’t potter around either – it accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 3.4 seconds and from zero to 200km/h in 9.8 seconds. Top speed, for Bonneville Salt Flats regulars, is around 350km/h. And with its four super-fat Pirelli P-Zero tyres and full complement of electronic safety features like anti-lock brakes and traction control, the car is probably safer the bike at those triple-digit speeds. In fact, from 200km/h, the Zonda can come to a complete halt in just 4.3 seconds – something the Honda can’t match, despite the fact that the 2009 model is equipped with C-ABS anti-lock brakes.

Pagani Zonda Cinque
F&F Score: 8/10


So, the Honda scores 22 points out of 30, while the Zonda stands at 21 points. And that’s when we haven’t taken the price into account – US$11,800 for the Honda, US$1.5 million for the Zonda. That’s settled then. Honda beats Zonda…!

Also see:
Honda Fireblade vs Honda Civic Type R
125cc GP racer vs litre-class superbike
Yamaha WRF450 vs Subaru Impreza
The world's fastest bike vs the world's fastest man!
Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo
Yamaha FZR750R OW01 vs Yamaha R1
1970s MV Agusta 500 GP racer vs MotoGP Ducati GP7
Kawasaki ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400
MotoGP vs Professional Bull Fighting

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Specs and first official pics: 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000


The 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K9, with its MotoGP-inspired Titanium mufflers. Hmmm...
In the sportsbike world, the unveiling of a new Suzuki GSX-R1000, every year, is a fairly momentous occasion. Reduced weight, more power, more electronics (to safely harness all that power…), bigger/uglier exhausts and new colours (some of which can actually be quite bad). Those few things more or less sum up what we expect from new GSX-R1000s every year. And the 2009 model doesn’t disappoint.

The 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 gets a lighter, more compact 999cc inline-four, which delivers more power and torque and offers enhanced throttle response across the engine’s entire rpm range. The K9 GSX-R1000 engine is now more oversquare than before, and the compression ratio has also gone up from 12.5:1 to 12.8:1.

For those who may be interested, here’s a ton of technical details: The new GSX-R1000 engine employs bigger titanium valves, forged pistons, shot-peened conrods, Iridium spark plugs (for a stronger spark, for better combustion) and Suzuki Composite Electrochemical Material (SCEM) plated cylinders integrated into the crankcase, reducing friction and improving heat transfer, durability and ring seal.

New, 12-hole fuel-injectors produce a finer fuel mist for more complete combustion, reducing fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. And as before, the Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) offers push-button selection of three performance settings to suit riding conditions and personal tastes. However, the switch has now been relocated on the left handlebar control module.

The cable-operated back-torque-limiting clutch makes for efficient clutch operation with superb feel, claim Suzuki. And the new Suzuki Advanced Exhaust System (SAES) uses an under-engine chamber and low-slung, large-volume MotoGP-inspired titanium mufflers.

To ride, we're sure the K9 GSX-R1000 is brilliant as ever. But styling-wise, we wish Suzuki were doing something radically new...
The 2009 GSX-R1000’s wheelbase is 10mm shorter, the swingarm is 33mm longer, for improved high speed handling. The bike’s twin-spar frame is made of five cast sections, mated with an arched swingarm made of three castings and one-piece die-cast rear subframe. Big Piston Front (BPF) forks, with an endurance-race-proven design, deliver superb feedback and responsive, stable operation, and are very lightweight.

The rear shock absorber features adjustable rebound damping, spring preload, and both high-speed and low-speed compression damping. Twin 310mm brake discs at the front, with monoblock radial-mount four-piston calipers, handle the stopping duties. And the bike rides on 17-inch cast aluminum alloy wheels, shod with 120/70 (front) and 190/50 (rear) ZR-rated rubber.

The 2009 GSX-R1000’s kerb weight is 203 kilos. And while there is no official word on the power output, we’d say there should be at least 170 rear wheel horsepower available, so you know what the performance is going to be like…! Details on pricing and availability coming soon…

The official 2009 GSX-R1000 promo video...
Also see:
HANNspree Ten Kate replica Honda Fireblade...
The fastest Kawasaki in the world...
AM Racing's Yamaha MT-01 Turbo...
First pics: 2009 Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja...
2009 Ducati 1198 and 1198S confirmed...
Specs and first pics: 2009 Yamaha R1...
Specs and first pics: 2009 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade...
Specs and first official pics: 2009 Aprilia RSV4
The Suzuki Relentless by TAS team were victorious in almost every solo category at this year's Isle of Man TT races, taking Superbike, Superstock and Supersport wins. To celebrate, Suzuki GB have launched the GSX-R600 Bruce Anstey (left) and GSX-R1000 (right) Cameron Donald limited edition replicas. More information available on the official Suzuki GB website here

2009 Suzuki Gladius 650 unveiled


The 2009 Suzuki Gladius 650. Not bad looking for an entry-level bike...

Suzuki have a new middleweight naked for 2009 – the Gladius Maximus. Er... no, it's actually the Suzuki Gladius 650. Powered by the SV650’s v-twin, the Gladius looks fresh and funky. The spec looks fairly basic – steel tube trellis frame, conventional fork/monoshock and… well, not much else really.

The bike weighs in at around 202kg dry, and with that 70bhp engine, the performance is definitely not going to surprise anyone. Still, for someone looking at buying their first bike, the Gladius 650 looks quite all right. Pricing, availability and other details to follow soon…

Also see:
Riding impression: Triumph Street Triple R
Back to the 1990s: Kawasaki ZX-7R special...
Shootout: BMW F650GS vs Kawasaki Versys
First pics: 2009 Kawasaki ER-6n and ER-6f
First pics: Yamaha XJ6 Diversion and FZ6R
Riding impression: KTM 690 Duke

First official pics: 2009 Ducati Monster 1100 and 1100S


The 2009 Ducati Monster 1100S (left) and Monster 1100 (right). Time to hit the troll road again...

Pics: Motoblog

The much rumoured, awaited and anticipated Ducati Monster 1100 is finally here. No more Photoshop jobs – this is the real item. The bike will be available in two versions – the standard 1100 (which weights 169kg) and the 1100S (which weighs in at 168 kilos).

Both, the 2009 Ducati Monster 1100 and 1100S get a brand-new single-sided swingarm, while the 1100S also gets higher-spec Öhlins suspension, gold-painted wheels and carbonfibre front fender. Both the bikes are fitted with the same 1100cc v-twin, which makes 95bhp at 7,500rpm and 10.5Kgm of torque at 6,000rpm.

Ducati will officially unveil the bike in Cologne, at the Intermot Show, on the 8th of October. Details on pricing and availability to follow soon…



We'd like another 30-40bhp, but the Monster 1100 is still the coolest Monster ever...

Update (29th Sep 2008): Ducati Monster 1100 riding impression

MCN's Trevor Franklin got to ride the new Monster 1100 in the mountains around Cannes, South of France. Here are some excerpts from he has to say about the bike:

"Much like the 696 that appeared earlier in the year, Ducati have gone through every component and changed it for the better. From small details like clutch actuation – it is much lighter at the lever – to the beautifully sand-cast single-sided swingarm. The unmistakable booming engine noise is still with us at high rpm, too."

"To keep this new bike in the same mould as the original M900, the ride quality is exemplary – the Showa forks and Sachs rear shock work in perfect harmony. The new Monster 1100 lives for mountain roads and through town maneuverability. And considering it’s an air-cooled lump, it is surprisingly tractable and punchy..."

Also see Motorcycle Daily's Monster 1100 first ride report here


The first Ducati Monster 1100 video...

Also see:
2009 Ducati 1198 and 1198S confirmed...
One-off special: Ducati 1098 Senna...
Nicky Hayden to ride for Ducati in 2009...
Ducati 1098 vs 999: Doug Polen decides which is best!
Ducati PS1000 LE: Paul Smart rides again...
Face-off: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo...
Martini Racing Ducati 1098S...
Steffano Motorcycles’ Ducati 999-based Café9...

HANNspree Ten Kate replica Honda Fireblade


Repsol-replica Fireblade, not for you? How about this HANNspree Ten Kate replica then...
HTK-replica pic: Fireblades.org

If you have to get a racer-rep CBR1000RR, and the 2009 Repsol-replica Fireblade doesn’t quite do it for you, there’s another option now – the HANNspree Ten Kate replica ’Blade. No, Honda aren’t doing an official HTK replica just yet, but you could take your bike to the UK-based Dream Machine and they’ll do up your bike just like the one you see here…

And while we’re on the subject of an HTK replica Fireblade, we thought it might be interesting to take a quick look at the real thing. How does a stock Fireblade stack up against the HANNspree Ten Kate Honda World Superbikes CBR1000RR? Hmmm… let’s start with the engine. The World Superbikes racer has the same 999.8cc Honda inline-four, but the compression ratio is bumped up a bit. Power goes up from the stock ’Blade’s 175bhp to more than 215bhp on the HTK racer. Torque also goes up, but HTK are not saying by how much.


The one on the left packs 40-50bhp more than the one on the right. And that's just for starters...

The stock Fireblade uses Honda’s PGM-DSFI electronic fuel injection, while the HANNspree Ten Kate racebike uses the PiResearch Pectel fuel injection system, but with the same 46mm injectors as the stock bike. Other changes include the use of an HRC kit air-filter, a bigger fuel tank (22 litres, up from 17.7 litres), ignition system from PiResearch (with different ignition timing), wet multiplate STM slipper clutch and HRC kit six-speed transmission.

The HTK Fireblade doesn’t use any stock suspension components at all. Instead, the WSBK machine gets WP suspension – RCMA 4800 front fork with a closed cartridge damping system, and 4618 rear shock with hydraulic preload adjuster. Of course, both ends offer a vast range of adjustments. And finally, the HTK racer uses Nissin brakes, and runs 16.5-inch wheels rather than the stock bike’s 17-inchers.


Unless you're Dani Pedrosa himself, the stock 'Blade should be quite all right...

So, yes, even with a full HANNspree Ten Kate Honda replica paintjob, a stock Fireblade isn’t likely to keep up with the real WSBK racebike. Then again, unless your name is Dani Pedrosa or Nicky Hayden, the stock ’Blade offers more performance than you could ever use on the street or on the track, so that’s probably all right…!

Also see:
The best racer-replica Fireblade ever...?
John Hopkins replica Kawasaki ZX-10R...
Kevin Schwantz replica Lucky Strike Suzuki GSX-R750...
TT-F1 Team Nescafe replica Yamaha YZF750SP...
Konica Minolta replica Honda VFR400...
Sheene tribute, Vermeulen replica Suzuki GSX-R1000...
Red Bull Racing replica KTM RC8...
The GREATEST Rossi replica NSR500 ever...!!

Elsewhere today:
Cagiva Mito, with turbocharged 500cc Honda twin-cylinder engine...


Honda (UK) has unveiled this limited edition CBR1000RR Fireblade in celebration of Steve Brogan’s British Superstock Championship title win with the HM Plant Honda team. Only 100 units of this LE 'Blade will be built...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Riding impression: Triumph Street Triple R


With brakes and suspension from the Daytona 675, the Triumph Street Triple R just plain rocks. The best middleweight naked around? You bet!

Triumph recently launched the new Street Triple R at the Isle of Man. Motociclismo had the opportunity to ride the bike, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the Street Triple R:

Hinckley was right on the mark with the Street Triple – the naked 675 manages to be sporty, versatile and easy to ride, all at once. The high-performance three-cylinder engine and the chassis are, indeed, worthy of praise.

With the R version, Triumph have upped the ante with the Street Triple. The bike gets higher-spec brakes and suspension from the 675 Daytona, a new aluminum handlebar and a seat that’s 5mm higher than before. Still, the ergonomics remains virtually unchanged – most riders should be able to place both feet on the ground without any trouble, the footpegs are high enough so they won’t drag in high speed corners and the instruments are all very clear and legible.

Ridden at the Isle of Man, the Street Triple R feels light and agile, and offers great stability. But what really stands out the most is the new brakes, which are a considerable improvement over the earlier bike’s anchors. The new brakes only inspire confidence when used hard, even in low grip conditions.


Light, nimble and powerful - the Street Triple R is the perfect small-bore sportsbike

The suspension is also much improved and feels very well balanced, offering a great mix of sport riding performance, as well as comfort. And since it’s fully adjustable, it should be easy for most riders to find a setting that works for them. The 167-kilo bike handles astonishingly well and the Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier tyres quite suit this bike.

The 108bhp, three-cylinder Triumph engine offers linear power delivery, so acceleration is never truly dramatic. But still, it’s an exciting engine and revs happily all the way to 12,000rpm. With its powerful brakes and improved suspension, the Street Triple R, which costs only 950 euros (about US$1,400) more than the standard version, is definitely worth it!

For the full ride report, visit the Motociclismo website here

Also see:
Supercharged Triumph Rocket III...
Triumph Speed Triple: Jack Lilley Special...
Tweaked Triumph: Angel Lussiana’s Speed Triple...
Custom Triumph: Pettinari Speed Triple...
Daytona 675: Scuderia Triumph-SC replica launched...
First pics: 2009 Triumph Thunderbird...
2009 Triumph Bonneville 50th Anniversary, SE models are coming…

Elsewhere today:
The 2009 Keeley Hazell calendar is out...
Denise Milani heats up a Honda Fireblade...


...and this is the 2009 Triumph Tiger 1050 SE, with ABS, colour-matched panniers and hand guards and a two-tone graphite/black colour scheme. Cool...!

In conversation with Shigeru Takagi – Senior MD, Honda


Shigeru Takagi, Senior Managing Director, Honda Motor Company, speaks about what to expect from Honda over the next few years. And yes, motorcycle airbags is one of those things...
Honda are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion, MCN recently spoke to Shigeru Takagi, Senior Managing Director, Honda Motor Company Ltd., and President, Honda Motor Europe. Here are some interesting excerpts from the interview:

On Honda’s biggest achievements over the last 60 years

"To pick one big achievement, it would have to be Honda’s first participation in the Isle of Man TT in 1959, and also the 1961 TT just three years after, when Honda dominated the top 1st to 5th positions in both the 125 and 250 classes. I think that these were great achievements for Honda and inspiring motivation for the business going forward."

"Looking at a broader viewpoint however, there is no doubt that Honda’s biggest achievement has to be providing mobility, and therefore independence, freedom, convenience and joy, to so many people around the world."

On the innovation people can expect to see from Honda in the coming years

"We are planning to apply fuel economy technologies such as ultra-low-friction engines for small displacement motorcycles and Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) engines for bigger displacement motorcycles, to create exciting yet environment-friendly motorcycles in the future."

"In our recent activities, we have applied our fuel injection system to our smaller displacement bikes and also applied HFT Transmission to the latest DN-01 for improved fuel economy."

"Safety is another other important area. We have been proactive in implementing active safety technologies designed to prevent accidents and passive safety technologies designed to mitigate injuries in the event of an accident. Honda is committed to enhancing motorcycle safety through innovation and this is an area where you will visibly see developments over the next few years."

"We will be introducing the electronically controlled Combined ABS braking system to the CBR1000RR Fireblade and CBR600RR from early next year, and as already seen on GL1800 Goldwing, the development of airbag technology on motorcycles is another important area for us, as is the advancement of motorcycle recognition through enhanced visibility features, and vehicle communication technologies."

On whether Honda are really working on electric bikes

"As we progress towards 2010, we will accelerate our plan to develop and provide environment-friendly mobility. Fuel cell technology and electric powered vehicles feature in Honda's technological direction, but for Honda motorcycles this is still in a development stage with no specific information about specifications, timescales, pricing, performance or images available at present."

For the full interview, visit MCN here

Also see:

2009 Honda CBR600RR and CBR1000RR Fireblade...
Honda CB1000R riding impression...
150bhp, supercharged Honda VFR800!
The coolest, most lust-worthy Honda ever...
The amazing Honda Dream 50 R...
Can Honda work the CB1100R magic once more?
Memorable: The 1980s Honda VF1000R...
The Honda Fireblade saga...

Elsewhere today:
Suzuki Hayabusa: The Shelby GT500 edition...

1992 Kawasaki ZX-7R special


It's a 1992 ZX-7R, with a 1997 ZX-9R engine...

Found this rather interesting Kawasaki ZX-7R on EMA, and though the bike seems to be unfinished, the spec blows us away. The starting point was a 1992 ZX-7R, but very little seems to have been kept from the original bike.

To begin with, the engine is from a 1997 Kawasaki ZX-9R, with 41mm flat-slide carbs, Muzzy headers and custom-built stainless steel exhaust. Two nitrous canisters live below the bike’s tail unit, so power delivery should be all right.

Then there’s a long list of bolt-ons: PVM forged aluminum wheels, Metmachex single-sided swingarm, fully adjustable Ohlins rear shock, GSX-R1000 forks, Brembo billet brake and clutch master cylinders, ZX-7R fuel tank made in aluminum, with endurance caps and lots of carbonfibre bits everywhere. The fairing is from an MV Agusta F4, while the tail unit comes from a Yamaha R1.

We don’t know who’s built the bike and power/performance numbers are not available. But still, this is one of the most interesting Kawasaki ZX-7R based specials we’ve seen in a long time…


This road test video of the ZX-7R shows why this bike was something special...

Also see:
efSET: The world's fastest Kawasaki is coming...
First pics: 2009 Kawasaki ZZR1400 and 1400GTR...
2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R unveiled...
Big CC Racing's Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo...
Blast from the past: Kawasaki ZX-10 Turbo...
Custom-built John Hopkins replica Kawasaki ZX-10R...
Old school muscle: Kawasaki Z1300...
Bandito: Hannigan Motorsports’ Kawasaki ZX-14 sidecar...

Elsewhere today:
Memorable: The mighty Kawasaki Z1...
Valentino Rossi: All the King's men...


More specials? Here's a 'YamaGamma' from MCN. Read about it here

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