Wednesday, December 31, 2008

CIV: The BMW-powered, Lotus-designed snow-scooter from hell...


The BMW 1150 boxer-twin-powered Concept Ice Vehicle

Pics: Moon Regan Transantarctic Expedition

All right, so it certainly isn’t a motorcycle, but the Concept Ice Vehicle (CIV) is fitted with a BMW 1150 boxer-twin that’s been modified to run on E85 bio-ethanol, and will hit a top speed of 135km/h on snow/ice.

The CIV, which will be a part of the Moon-Regan Trans Antarctic Expedition (due to be flagged off in November 2009), is built to run on ice and snow and is fitted with ice penetrating radar, which allows it to detect hidden crevasses in ice. We hear Daniel Craig himself wants one for the next Bond movie… ;-)

Commissioned by the Trans Antarctic Expedition founders Andrew Moon and Andrew Regan, the CIV prototype was designed and engineered by Lotus Engineering, in England. In the even of an emergency, the lightweight CIV, which weighs 360 kilos, can be pushed along on frozen surfaces by one man.

With its 115bhp BMW engine, fully independent suspension and an onboard GPS-enhanced radar system, the single-seater CIV does look pretty radical. The coolest snow buster ever? You bet…! More details on the Trans Antarctic Expedition website here

Other mega-machines:
The 420bhp MTT Turbine Streetfighter...
Honda 2025 Racer Concept...
Nitrous-oxide-powered, 200bhp Suzuki B-King...!
2009 Ducati Streetfighter. Simply amazing...
Nicky Hayden describes the Ducati MotoGP bike...
Project Bloodhound: The quest for 1,600km/h!!
The maddest, wildest scooter in the world...?
The fastest Kawasaki in the world...
Master blaster: Kawasaki ZX-10 Turbo...
The mighty Munch Mammut TTS-E...

Elsewhere today:
Classics: Moto Guzzi, Moto Morini picture gallery...
Great Eight: The 8 moto-DVDs you must watch...!

Diesel-powered Track T800 CDI gets 2WD, CVT


Two colour schemes, two-wheel-drive and the capability to run on multiple fuels, including biodiesel and PPO. Yes, the Track T800 CDI is rather cool...

We first wrote about the Track T800 back in December 2006 and in the two years that have passed since then, its manufacturers – the Netherlands-based EVA – seem to have improved it quite a bit.

Powered by an 800cc, three-cylinder common-rail turbodiesel that makes 50 horsepower and 130Nm of torque, the Track T800 CDI was quite remarkable to begin with. And now, EVA have added continuously variable transmission (CVT), which not only makes it supremely easy to ride, but also always keeps the T800’s engine in the rev range where it works best, making it very fuel efficient.

The other significant bit that the Track T800 now packs is (optional) two-wheel-drive. We don’t have full details on this yet, but apparently this adjustable hydraulic system not only transfers power to the front wheel, but can also automatically adjust power delivery between the front and the rear wheels for obtaining optimum traction.

With its low-maintenance shaft-drive, 2WD, the capability to run on multiple fuels (diesel, biodiesel and/or various kinds of vegetable oil…!) and rugged build quality, the Track T800 CDI looks like it can be a prime challenger in the BMW R1200GS segment. At around US$24,500 it certainly isn’t cheap, but it’s reasonably fast (top speed is about 175km/h), fuel efficient (about 23-25km/l), can carry loads of luggage and if you’re willing, it’ll be happy to romp across Continents.

The Track T800 CDI is in limited production right now. For more information, visit the EVA website here. You can also download these two videos of the bike in action, here and here

Also see:
The Neander 1400 Turbodiesel...
Kawasaki KLR-based diesel motorcycle for the US Army...
Diesel power: Clatter and roll...!
A hydrogen fuel cell-powered moped...
A Triumph that runs on apple juice, does 254km/h...!
A biofuel-powered GSX-R...
TTX01: The 86bhp, 200km/h electric bike...
Eva Håkansson’s ElectroCat. Because petrol is ‘so last century…’

Elsewhere today:
Icon A5: After the MV Agusta F4 CC, the next coolest way to travel...

Shock, horror: Kawasaki to pull out of MotoGP!


For Kawasaki, it's the end of the MotoGP road...

The worldwide economic crisis seems to have claimed one more victim – the Kawasaki MotoGP team. Though there has been no official announcement from Kawasaki, according to various reports circulating on the Web, the Japanese company will not be a part of the 2009 MotoGP season and will disband its MotoGP team with immediate effect.

With poor performances in 2007 and 2008, Kawasaki have been perennial backmarkers in MotoGP, and the ZX-RR has not really been up to the task of taking on the YZR-M1, RC212V and GSV-R. Developing the bike further might have meant investing huge sums of money – something which probably wouldn’t be possible in the current, grim economic scenario.

With Kawasaki pulling out of MotoGP, John Hopkins and Marco Melandri – the two riders who’d signed on to ride for Team Green in 2009 – will be left out in the cold. And since Ducati, Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki seem to have all their riders in place already, it doesn’t look like the Kawasaki duo will find other MotoGP rides for 2009.

With Honda already having pulled out of F1 and AMA Superbikes, and now with Kawasaki leaving MotoGP, motorsport seems to be in a spot of trouble right now. The FIM mandates a minimum of 18 bikes on the MotoGP starting grid, and with Kawasaki's departure, only 17 bikes will be left in the fray. Will the FIM change its rules? Can Kenny Roberts and/or Ilmor make a surprise comeback to MotoGP? Or will Kawasaki change their minds and stay on in MotoGP after all? Stay tuned for further updates on this one…

Update (9th Jan, 2009): Yes, it's official. Kawasaki have made a formal announcement about pulling out of MotoGP with immediate effect, due to the worldwide economic downturn. Sad day...

Also see:
HUGE collection of 2008 MotoGP wallpaper...
In conversation with Alex Criville, 1999 500cc GP Racing World Champ...
The hottest ever MotoGP-replica streetbike...
DTC: Now you can also ride like a MotoGP God...!
Riding impression: Noriyuki Haga's WSBK Yamaha R1...
Classic: Graeme Crosby and his bikes...
In conversation with Leslie Porterfield, the fastest woman in the world...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Harley-Davidson to revive Cagiva, resurrect the Raptor and Elefant


Harley-Davidson, the new owners of Cagiva, hope to bring back some of Cagiva's legendary bikes like the Elefant and the Raptor, and do other all-new Cagiva machines as well...

According to a report on Solo Moto, Harley-Davidson have big plans for reviving the Cagiva brand and restoring it to its former glory. After buying MV Agusta and Cagiva from Claudio Castiglioni earlier this year, Harley have been studying the situation at Cagiva and will, hopefully, start work on new product development very soon.

Faced with a severe financial crunch that left no money for developing new bikes, Cagiva have seen a declining product line-up in recent years. In fact, apart from the new Mito SP525 (which, despite the ‘525’ in its name, is only fitted with a two-stroke, single-cylinder 125cc engine…), the company has done precious little in the last few years.

In resurrecting the iconic Italian brand, Harley-Davidson are likely to develop and launch various new bikes under the Cagiva name, of which the first might be a reborn Raptor. The new Cagiva Raptor, which could be launched by mid-2010, is likely to be fitted with a 140bhp, 1125cc liquid-cooled v-twin – the same BRP-Rotax engine that’s also used on the Buell 1125R and the 1125CR.

Harley also have plans for smaller Cagivas – 125s, 650s and 800s – for which the company will look at sourcing engines from BMW and Piaggio. Then, the legendary Elefant name may be revived, with Cagiva building a dual-purpose machine fitted with either the 1125cc BRP-Rotax v-twin, or a different engine of roughly the same capacity but sourced from elsewhere.

Finally, in about three or four years from now, Cagiva may also have a full-blown superbike in their line-up, fitted with a highly tuned 1200cc version of the Rotax v-twin, which could be making up to 180bhp or more. With this machine, Cagiva will take on the likes of BMW, Aprilia, Ducati and all the four Japanese manufacturers in the litre-bike segment. But for now, all we can do is wait and watch, and hope Harley-Davidson will work a few miracles for Cagiva…

Also see:
Desmosedici RR: For the love of Ducati...
Riding impression: The Bimota Tesi 3D...
Buzz bombs: The Gilera SP01 and SP02...
The coolest trikes in the world...
Face-off: Ducati Hypermotard vs Caterham R500!
Kawasaki ZX-9R based MotoGP replica...
Ness Signature Series Victory Vision: The coolest touring bike ever...
Down memory lane: Board track racing in the US...


Memorable: The Cagiva 500 GP racer from the early-1990s. More about this bike here

Piaggio gets €150 million loan from EIB, will develop hybrid and electric two-wheelers


Piaggio will be working towards the development of new-age hybrid and battery-powered electric two-wheelers. The 150 million euro loan from EIB should certainly help...!

The Piaggio Group, which owns the Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera, Aprilia, Derbi and Moto Guzzi brands, will soon be getting a loan of €150 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB), which the company intends to invest towards research and development over the next few years.

According to Michele Pallottini, the COO – Finance, Piaggio Group, the funding will allow Piaggio to expand its R&D activities and start work towards the development of safer, more fuel efficient two-wheelers that are also more environment-friendly.

The EIB has big plans for supporting the European automotive industry and helping it move towards the development of cleaner, greener vehicles that offer ‘sustainable mobility’ in the years to come. The idea is to lessen the impact of the global financial crisis on the European automotive industry, and ensure that the industry keeps moving in the right direction without losing focus.

Taking sales of all its brands into account, the Piaggio Group’s sales were down 5.5% in the first nine months of this year, with the company selling 537,900 units in the January-September 2008 period, compared to 569,300 units sold during the same period in 2007.

Piaggio, which has to pay off the €150 million loan over a period of seven years, intends to invest the money in the development of hybrid and electric vehicles, as well towards the development of two-wheeler safety technologies.

Also see:
Face-off: Honda vs Zonda!
Valentino Rossi, on learning to lose...
Buell 1125CR riding impression...
Pics and specs: The hot new BMW K1300R...
Battle of the Twins: Ducati 1098R vs Bimota DB7!
Over the top: The maddest scooter ever...
The Husqvarna V1000 Gran Turismo concept...
Pics from Milan: The 2008 EICMA...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Memorable: The Bimota SB2


The 1977 Bimota SB2. Bet your neighbour doesn't have one...

Much before he penned the lines for the Ducati 916 and the MV Agusta F4, two of the most stunningly beautiful bikes ever made, Massimo Tamburini had designed another very significant motorcycle, one which has almost been forgotten today. Yes indeed, we’re talking about the Bimota SB2.

The Tamburini-designed SB2 isn’t, perhaps, as ‘beautiful’ as the 916 or the F4. At least not in the current context of the word. But it’s still strikingly individualistic – a machine that very much marches to its own beat. The bike was launched in 1977, priced at around US$10,000 – terribly expensive for its time.

The SB2 was fitted with a rather prosaic engine – an air-cooled 75bhp inline-four from the Suzuki GS750. But then, as now, Bimota were chassis specialists and that’s where the magic was. The Suzuki engine was bolted on to a light, stiff frame made of chrome-molybdenum steel tubing, which offered easily adjustable steering geometry. And the suspension comprised of a 35mm Ceriani fork at the front and Corte & Cosso monoshock at the rear – cutting-edge stuff for the late-1970s.


It isn't 'beautiful' in the conventional sense, but the SB2 is certainly stand-out individualistic...

The bike was fitted with Brembo disc brakes – 280mm at the front and 260mm at the back. The Campagnolo wheels were made of magnesium alloy, the fuel tank was made of aluminium and the bike weighed 196kg dry – about 30 kilos lighter than a standard Suzuki GS750.

So, what do its owners have to say about the SB2 today? Hmmm… with more than three decades having passed since the bike was introduced, and with Bimota having built only about 70 units of the bike, finding someone who actually owns one was difficult. Still, we managed to track down Robert Vaeth, who’s based in Connecticut, in the US, who owns a 1977 SB2.

‘I was originally attracted to the Bimota SB2 in the early 1980s, when my interest in Italian motorcycles began. I had only seen it in photos but always knew I would love to have one. The avant-garde design of the bodywork, along with the precision frame fabrication and machining won me over,’ says Robert. ‘There are five known SB2s in the United States, and it’s certainly a conversation starter at gas stations and bike meets. Most believe it is a decade newer than it really is,’ he adds.


Robert Vaeth loves his SB2, which he bought more than eight years ago

‘When I purchased the bike, it had not been run in a number of years. My SB2 [which bears serial number 00036] began its life riding the streets of Italy, until it was purchased and brought to England, where it remained for several years and then ultimately to the eastern seaboard of the United States,’ says Robert. ‘After purchasing the bike in 2000, I restored it completely, getting it repainted and having the engine rebuilt,’ he adds.

‘Riding it is a complete joy! Steering, handling and power still make it a brilliant ride, even in modern times. The chassis, in my opinion, is miles ahead of all other bikes from that time period. Its perimeter frame and monoshock design, along with adjustable trail was later copied by many bike manufacturers, putting it years ahead of its time. The standard GS750 engine is upgraded with larger carburetors and velocity stacks by Bimota. The exhaust features a free-flowing Bimota designed pipe and muffler,’ concludes Robert.

Hmm... we reckon Robert is a very lucky guy - the SB2 is a veritable piece of Bimota history, and one hell of a motorcycle. Keep it rolling, friend...

More Bimotas:
The 275km/h Bimota YB11...
The Yamaha FZR1000-powered Bimota YB6 Tuatara...
Classic: The Bimota DB2...
Two-stroke dream: The Bimota V-Due...
Bimota DB7 riding impression...
Bimota Tesi 3D riding impression...
Bimota Delirio DB6R riding impression...


From the early-1990s Tesi 1D to the current Tesi 3D, it's been a long journey for Bimota. But just how good is the Tesi 3D to ride? Find out here

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The BMW MeGa 1 Project


The 1972 BMW R75/5-based MeGa 1 cafe-racer

While looking around for some interesting old BMWs, we happened to come across the MotoEuro website, where we found this MeGa 1 café racer. Based on a 1972 BMW R75/5, the MeGa 1 was first shown two years ago at the AHRMA Vintage Weekend at Barber Motorsports, where it won the 1970s class in the European Concours d' Elegance.

The MeGa 1 features a modified fuel tank from a 1977 R100RS, custom-built seat and tail unit, and a handmade aluminium front fender. The front fork is off an R100RT, with 38mm Race Tech cartridge emulators modified to work with BMW internal components. The alloy wheels are from Morris, and the brakes are modified Brembo units with custom-built stainless steel brake lines.

At the back, the bike’s swingarm has been strengthened and braced, the one-off alloy-bodied reservoir shocks are from Works Performance and the stock BMW drum brakes have been replaced with Grimeca disc brakes.

The MeGa 1’s engine, which makes 85bhp, is based on an R100GS mill that’s been completely rebuilt – ported and polished heads, new valves, new cams, 38mm Mikuni carbs with velocity stacks, modified Luftmeister 2-into-1 header, Supertrapp muffler, high performance coils, ignition booster, electronic regulator and… a lot of other bits and pieces. The gearbox is a five-speed unit, and the dashboard is all-electronic, with LED displays and computer-controlled instrumentation!

The BMW MeGa 1, which weighs about 175kg, looks lean and lithe and we quite like the 1970s café racer styling. Should be good fun to ride…

More BMWs:
MAB's BMW K1200R Turbo...
AC Schnitzer-tuned BMW K1200R Sport...
The Canjamoto BMW R1200S Turbo...
The BMW HP2-based Wunderlich WR2...
The very cool BMW HP2 Sport...
The BMW R1150GS-based Beutler Boxer...
AC Schnitzer BMW F800GS...
BMW HP2 Sport takes on the Buell 1125R!
Face-off: BMW HP2 Sport vs KTM RC8...

Elsewhere today:
Bazzaz Performance's Z-Fi Traction Control system...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2009 Yamaha R1 vs early-1990s Yamaha 500cc GP racers


The 1992 Yamaha YZR500 GP racer had a bit more than 160bhp at the rear wheel. The 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 has the same. If that isn't progress, what is...?!

According to a recent press release from Akrapovic, the 2009 Yamaha R1, in stock form, produces 161.6bhp at 12,430rpm, with the power being measured at the rear wheel. With an Akrapovic slip-on, the R1’s peak power goes up to 163.9bhp at 12,410rpm. The Akrapovic system also has the option to do away with the catalytic converter, boosting power to 164.2bhp at 12,410rpm and fattening the power delivery throughout the rev range.

But, for this story, we’re actually more interested in the stock R1 and the 161bhp it delivers at the back wheel. That really is a shocking amount of power on a streetbike with a kerb weight of 206 kilos. Yamaha’s two-stroke 500cc GP racing bikes were making that much power back in the early-1990s, and those required a huge amount of experience and talent to ride. Oh, well, that’s probably an understatement. You actually couldn’t ride a late-1980s/early-1990s Yamaha YZR500 unless you were in the same league as Wayne Rainey and Eddie Lawson…


You needed the talent of a Rainey or Lawson to be able to ride the YZR500. Thanks to its electronics, the R1 doesn't need you to be Rossi...

Yamaha started development work on the YZR500 GP racer in the early-1970s and the first of these bikes went racing in 1973. In those days, the YZR’s power output was around 80bhp, which had gone up to 180bhp by the late-1990s – an increase of 125% in a time span of 25 years. The R1 has not too badly either – the first 1998 model had around 130bhp at the rear wheel, which has grown to 164bhp in the space of 10 years – an increase of 26%.

Which brings us to just how important a modern sportsbike’s electronics are. You had to be a Rainey, Lawson, Mamola, Cadalora, Capirossi or Kocinski to ride one of those 160bhp early-1990s YZR500s, while just about any reasonably experienced motorcyclist can jump on a 164bhp 2009 R1, ride off and not be killed in the next five minutes. That, we suppose, is only made possible by the raft of electronics that do duty on new R1s.


2009 Yamaha R1, the equivalent of a 500cc Grand Prix racer for the street?

The 1992 Yamaha YZR500, on which Wayne Rainey won his last 500cc world championship, had an aluminium ‘Deltabox’ chassis, ‘Monocross’ rear suspension and USD fork, carburetted two-stroke engine, carbon brake discs, the Yamaha Power Valve System (YPVS) and… we can’t think of much else in the way of gizmos, electronics or path-breaking technologies.

The 2009 Yamaha R1, on the other hand, has terribly impressive sounding bits like Yamaha Chip Control Intake (YCC-I), Yamaha Chip Control Throttle (YCC-T) and D-Mode, which lets you modulate and optimise throttle response according to road and weather conditions. Rainey, with his Godly riding skill, didn’t need these bits to control his YZR's 160 rear-wheel horsepower. For most of, we’d be toast without the electronics on the R1.

The best part is, no matter how much money you have, you probably can’t a 1992 Yamaha YZR500. On the other hand, you can buy a brand-new R1 for a mere US$12,500. A bike that’s as powerful as Rainey’s 1992 YZR500, for the street, which you can actually just walk into a showroom and buy? You’ve got to love technology…

We'll never be able to ride like Rainey, Lawson or Rossi. But bikes like the R1 at least bring us closer to that 164bhp-at-the-rear-wheel experience, and thank god for that!

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