Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ferrari motorcycle coming up for sale, asking price US$300,000


The only real, 'official' Ferrari motorcycle ever made, for a mere US$300,000...

Pics: Bonhams, via MC24

For those who’ve always wanted a Ferrari motorcycle, here’s your chance to get one. Not some crappy backyard bodge job or a vague concept – this is the real thing. It’s the one-off Ferrari motorcycle built by David Kay Engineering and bears frame and engine number SF-O1M. It’s the only real Ferrari motorcycle in the world.

Back in 1990, David Kay wrote to Piero Ferrari (Enzo Ferrari’s son), asking him if he could build a motorcycle that would carry the prancing horse badge, in tribute to the late Enzo. Piero did approve the project and gave David the permission to put a Ferrari badge on his motorcycle.

The bike, which took 3,000 man-hours to build, was completed in 1995. Its 900cc, four-cylinder, DOHC engine is custom-built, and produces 105 horsepower at 8,800rpm – enough to propel the 172-kilo bike to a top speed of 265km/h.

Other bits on this 1995 Ferrari 900 include a tubular steel chassis, aluminium bodywork, custom-built exhaust system, digital instrument panel, Forcelle Italia USD fork, Brembo disc brakes, 17-inch Astralite wheels and twin WPS shock absorbers at the back.

The bike, which has spent most of its life in its owner’s drawing room, is in perfect, mint condition. Bonhams will be auctioning the machine on the 20th of this month, and asking price would be around US$300,000. Now if all your mates are lining up to buy a Ducati Streetfighter S or the MV Agusta Brutale 1078RR, and you want to be one up on them…

More details on the Bonhams website here

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Memorable: The mid-1980s Honda VF1000R...
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Elsewhere today:
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Massimo Tamburini to retire from MV Agusta


Massimo Tamburini. The man. The legend...

With bikes like the Ducati 916, MV Agusta F4 and MV Agusta Brutale to his credit, Massimo Tamburini is pretty much the God of motorcycle design. And God, is about to retire. Yes, MV Agusta have announced that their design chief, Massimo Tamburini will retire from the company at the end of this year.

Tamburini has been with Cagiva since 1985 and has headed MV Agusta's engineering and design centre, Centro Ricerche Cagiva, in San Marino, for more than a decade. ‘I have dedicated a significant part of my career in motorcycle design to Cagiva and MV Agusta, and am immensely proud of the beautiful and thrilling motorcycles we have created,’ says Tamburini.

‘While my decision to retire was extremely difficult to make, I am confident the highly-talented designers and engineers in San Marino will continue the tradition of excellence that is the hallmark of MV Agusta. I have been privileged to realize so many dreams during my years with Cagiva and MV Agusta and look forward to seeing more great things yet to come from the company,’ adds the masterful motorcycle designer, a legend in his own lifetime.

‘Massimo Tamburini is one of the legends of the motorcycle industry, and leaves a great legacy at MV Agusta,’ says Claudio Castiglioni, MV Agusta Chairman and Director of Motorcycle Research and Development at the company. ‘The capabilities he built at MV Agusta's design centre are outstanding, and his legacy and vision will now be carried forward by the team he assembled and mentored over many years. While we will miss his presence, we respect his decision to retire and wish him all the best for the future,’ he adds.

It is not clear whether Massimo Tamburini will continue to design motorcycles – perhaps for another motorcycle manufacturer or maybe as an independent designer – though he says he will now pursue other interests outside of design.


The MV Agusta F4 Tamburini - the most beautiful motorcycle in the world...

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Fifteen years of the Honda Fireblade...
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Elsewhere today:
In conversation with Matt Levatich, the man in charge of MV Agusta...
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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Funny Front: Tier Motorsports’ Yamaha R1 concept


Fork off: Tier Motorsports' Yamaha R1 concept, with a single-sided front swingarm
Pics: The Biker Gene

Over the last few decades, some manufacturers and independent specialists have tried to break away from the ubiquitous telescopic front fork, and tried various kinds of alternative front suspension on motorcycles. However, BMW seem to be the only bike manufacturers who’ve ever had any significant commercial success with bikes that had alternative front ends, while the Britten V1000 is probably the only successful racebike that did not use the conventional fork.

In theory, some alternative front ends – the front swingarm for example – can separately deal with the forces generated by braking, steering and cornering a motorcycle, and thus offer significantly better handling. In practice, however, very few of these systems seem to have worked.

In any case, there is no dearth of people who keep trying to find a suspension solution that’s better than the good old telescopic fork, and that’s where Tier Motorsports come in. This company has designed a concept motorcycle, based on the Yamaha R1, that’s fitted with a single-side swingarm and a monoshock in place of the regular USD fork.

Among a dozen other things, the Tier Motorsports’ front end uses a completely vertical steering axis, instead of the tilted steering axis that telescopic forks have to use because of their rake. Claimed advantages are adjustable dive under braking, more consistent steering, increased high speed stability, better ride comfort, full-range adjustability and an increase in braking performance.

The claimed advantages all sound good, but we wonder if this single-sided front swingarm will ever make to production reality. Given how good USD forks on modern sportsbikes have become, the possibility for alternative front suspension being accepted on mainstream bikes looks bleak. That is, unless this kind of suspension is backed up by some other pathbreaking technology, like two-wheel-drive perhaps. A 2WD Yamaha R1 with single-sided front and rear swingarms? Hmmm… now that would be interesting!

Also see:
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Ride for kids, win this Fireblade. More details here

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Eva Håkansson’s ElectroCat. Because petrol is ‘so last century…’


Eva, with the ElectroCat. Yup, this is the future...

A member of the KillaCycle racing team, the Sweden-based Eva Håkansson is, according to her own website, ‘a hardcore EV geek with a green heart and passion for power and speed.’ Yeah, well…

Ms Håkansson owns what she’s named the ElectroCat, Sweden’s first all-electric street legal motorcycle. Eva believes that petrol is very ‘last century,’ and has converted a 1990 Cagiva Freccia C12R to run on battery power. The bike’s two-stroke 125cc petrol engine has been replaced with an electric motor, a controller and batteries.

Built by Eva and her Dad, Sven, the ElectroCat is fitted with a Mars ETEK-RT permanent magnet DC motor, which is capable of 72V and 300-350A. This motor, which is fed by lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, pumps out around 7.5kW. The batteries take about seven hours to get fully charged, after which they’re good for 80km, provided you don’t go faster than 70km/h.

The ElectroCat, which weighs 165 kilos, is currently geared for a top speed of 100km/h, though that can be increased at the expense of acceleration. We’ve written about various electric bikes on this site over the last few months, and it does seem that these e-bikes are getting better gradually. Will electric bikes ultimately replace conventional petrol-engined bikes someday? In the next 10-15 years, you bet!

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Quantya: Electric bikes go mainstream in the US...
Petrol-Hydrogen hybrid Kawasaki ZX-10R...
Fuel-cell powered mopeds, anyone?
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APC launches the airbag helmet for motorcyclists


APC's airbag helmet could be a life-saver for motorcyclists...

Based in Barcelona, Spain, APC Systems have come out with an innovation that could well save some lives. The Spanish company has developed crash helmets that incorporate an airbag, increasing the level of crash protection for motorcyclists.

According to the company, a small, simple control box fitted on the motorcycle receives and processes data, which allows it to determine when a collision may be imminent. When this ‘black box’ figures out that the rider is about to crash, it relays a signal which inflates the crash helmet’s airbag in less than 15/100th of a second, increasing safety levels for the rider.

There are no cables or any other physical elements linking the rider to the bike – the black box works on its own, in a manner that’s completely unobtrusive. And when it inflates, the airbag provides protection to the rider’s neck and back, reducing the chances of severe injury. In the event of a crash, the airbag stabilises the neck and protects the upper back, the benefits of which are obvious.

The APC helmet airbag is, apparently, only available in Spain right now, so we do hope it’ll also go on sale elsewhere in the world over the next few months. For more details on the company and the airbag helmet, visit the APC website here

Also see:
Will SHARP lead to better, safer helmets for motorcyclists?
Rider alert: Findings of the MAIDS report
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Dainese, AGV launch Agostini-replica helmet...
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Nanotechnology: Smart Helmets to the rescue...

Naked muscle: The Kawabusa II


Norm Wilding probably did not like the Suzuki B-King very much, so he decided to build his own Hayabusa-powered naked musclebike. And he seems to have done well...!

Pics: MidMoMc, via Motoblog

This very hot looking Kawabusa II special is the work of one Norm Wilding, at MidMoMc. The starting point for the bike was a 2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R, which is where the chassis comes from. Everything else – including the engine, wheels, brakes, suspension and swingarm – are off a 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa.

This is, in fact, Wilding’s second Kawabusa, with significant improvements having been made to the original. Apart from various mechanical modifications, the bike benefits from various bolt-ons: carbonfibre front fender and rear hugger, gauges/instruments from a Suzuki GSX1400, headlight from a Suzuki Bandit, Renthal handlebars, BF Goodrich braided stainless steel brake lines, oil cooler and tail unit from a GSX-R1000, Yoshimura exhaust system and a Power Commander.

‘I built this bike because I love the power of the Hayabusa, and the upright riding position of the ZRX. The Kawabusa II sure is a blast to ride,’ says Wilding. But of course…

More muscle:
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Riding Noriyuki Haga’s Yamaha YZF-R1…


Nitro Nori's 220bhp YamExpress. Awesome...


Finishing in second spot overall in 2007 and 2008, the Yamaha R1 has done reasonably well in World Superbikes. Motociclismo recently had the opportunity to ride Noriyuki ‘Nitro’ Haga’s YZF-R1 racebike, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the machine:

The ultra-aggressive Haga, on his Yamaha, reminds us of the Kamikaze pilots on their Zero fighters. But you actually don’t need to get aggressive with Haga’s R1 – the bike is very manageable and manoeuvrable. In addition to the excellent chassis, perhaps some of that is down to the R1’s MotoGP-spec Öhlins fork and electronically controlled rear shock.

On this bike, the suspension is connected to an on-board computer that works in conjunction with the bike’s telemetry system, constantly adjusting the suspension as needed. But the system is not perfect, and if the rider is too heavy or too light (compared to Haga), the electronics can’t compensate for that. Which is probably why we found some constant wiggling from the fork under braking…

The engine in Haga’s racebike is, of course, very different from a stock R1, with major changes to the camshafts, gaskets, cylinder heads and… almost everything else. There is a lot of power at even low to medium revs, while the top-end power delivery is simply endless. And then there is Yamaha’s traction control system, which is just fantastic. Just like the bike’s Brembo brakes, it’s hard to come to terms with just how well it really works at the limit…

With next year’s MotoGP-inspired R1, we suppose Yamaha would be taking things up to the next level. We can only imagine how good that bike would be to ride.

For the full test report, visit Motociclismo here

Noriyuki Haga’s Yamaha YZF-R1: Tech specs

Engine: 998cc, 16-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four
Power: In excess of 210bhp
Ignition: Magneti Marelli
Gearbox: Six-speed
Chassis: Aluminium twin-spar
Suspension: 43mm USD Öhlins fork, Öhlins monoshock, both ends electronically adjustable
Brakes: Twin 320mm discs at front, with four-piston Brembo monobloc radial-mount callipers (front), single 203mm disc with twin-piston callipers (rear)
Wheels and tyres: 16.5 inches, 120/65 (front), 190/65 (rear)
Weight: 162kg

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