Friday, December 19, 2008

Honda in tie-up with GS Yuasa Corporation, will be ready with first electric bike by 2010


Soichiro Honda himself is no more, but the spirit of innovation and invention continues at Honda. After 60 years of making motorcycles powered by the IC engine, Honda will start making electric bikes in 2010. Bring on the next 60 years, and the battery-powered Fireblade...!

With dozens of small-scale manufacturers already building electric bikes all over the world, the big companies had to get in on the action sooner or later. And in the case of Honda, it’s going to happen by 2010.

‘Honda is currently developing a battery-powered electric motorcycle which emits no CO2 during operation. The company is aiming to introduce this electric motorcycle to the market about in two years from now,’ says Takeo Fukui, Chairman and CEO – Honda Motor Co. ‘History shows that motorcycles remain strong in a difficult market environment and have always supported Honda in difficult times,’ he adds.

Honda have, in fact, tied up with GS Yuasa Corp. for the development of high-performance lithium-ion batteries for its electric motorcycles. The two companies will jointly set up a research and development centre, and a battery manufacturing facility, near Kyoto in Japan.

The Honda-GS Yuasa joint venture company is being set up at an investment of around US$ 18.5 million, with Honda holding a 49% stake in the company, and the rest being held by GS Yuasa.

Also see:
Vectrix: Simply electric...!
Quantya's electric bikes go the US...
The Chinese take the lead with fuel-cell-powered bikes...
TTX01: The 200km/h electric sportsbike!
ElectroCat: "Petrol is so last century..."
Air-powered engines for motorcycles...?!
Riding impression: The fuel-cell-powered Suzuki Crosscage...

Elsewhere today:
Troy Bayliss wants £1 million to race Valentino Rossi...!
Classic: 1967 Suzuki X6 Hustler...
For those who want to keep riding when it snows...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Gurney Alligator Instigator: Make it snappy!


The all-new Gurney Alligator Instigator. Conventional, it certainly isn't...

Dan Gurney, founder of Dan Gurney Alligator Motorcycles, Inc. is at it again. One of our readers, Bill Kniegge has sent us some information and pics of the latest Gurney project – the Alligator Instigator – which has been developed by Dan and his son Justin.

While the earlier Alligator was powered by a 670cc, single-cylinder Honda engine, the Instigator is fitted with a 2032cc S&S V-twin, which is much bigger and more powerful than any engine previously used on Alligator motorcycles. The feet-forward design, however, is the same as before and the very low seat height provides a very low centre of gravity, which is said to help handling in a very big way.

Other bits on the Alligator Instigator include a Baker six-speed gearbox, custom-built exhaust system, a chassis made of chrome-moly 4030 tubing, machined-from-billet aluminium swingarm, USD fork, Penske monoshock, Dymag forged alloy wheels and Beringer brakes. The bodywork is made of carbonfibre and instrumentation is from Motec.

‘Conventional sportbikes are tall, with short wheelbases to make them turn quickly. This limits their acceleration and braking by making them prone to wheelies and stoppies. Gurney's concept has some extra wheelbase that may slow steering somewhat, but its centre of gravity – another important aspect of swift turning – is so low that the Alligator flicks into corners very quickly,’ said the legendary Kevin Cameron, when he rode a Gurney Alligator bike back in 2000, for Cycle World magazine. ‘Under acceleration and braking, the Alligator's lower centre of gravity and longer wheelbase allow it to generate higher peak values without lifting its wheels. And why not? Orthodoxy is not destiny,’ said Cameron.

Hmmm… the Gurneys plans to build around 50 units of the Instigator, so if you want one, you’d better hurry up already. Visit the Alligator Motorcycle website here for more details.

Also see:
The amazing Carver One...
Classic: The Bimota YB6 Tuatara...
An Alfa Romeo motorcycle...?!
The motorcycle that's not afraid of SUVs...
Face-off: 125cc KTM vs litre-class Suzuki...
Looking back: Old motorcycle advertisements...
Dannii Minogue likes motorcycles...
The fastest, most expensive Honda ever...

Classic: The 1970s Laverda 750SF


The 1970s Laverda 750SF. Looks remarkably cool even today...


Laverda have made some pretty remarkable bikes over the years, our favourites being the V6 Bol d'Or racer, the Jota 1000 and the rather more recent 750 Formula S. Another Laverda that we think is pretty cool is the 750SF, which the company made from 1970-1976.

In the mid-1960s, on the recommendation of his son, Francesco Laverda (the company’s founder) decided to build a bigger, more powerful motorcyclew, which would be capable of touring longer distances than was the norm in Europe. Yes, the new bike would be designed primarily for the American market…

By the end of 1966, Laverda were ready with a prototype machine that was fitted with a 650cc parallel-twin. However, the bike took two more years of development time before it could be put into production. And by the time it did go into production, the engine had been enlarged to 744cc (though a very few 650s were also built…), and thus the Laverda 750 was born.

Initially, the Laverda 750 was sold in the US under the ‘American Eagle’ brand, which was promoted by one Jack McCormack – the man responsible for the ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda’ ad campaign of the early 1960s. However, American Eagle went bust by around 1970, and the 750 then went on sale in the US under Laverda’s own brand name.


Between 1970-76, around 16,000 units of the 750SF were built

In 1970, the 750 also became the Laverda 750SF (Super Freni, or ‘Super Brakes’), with bigger, better brakes, redesigned chassis and a five-speed gearbox. The 750SF weighed around 230 kilos, and with its 744cc, SOHC, air-cooled parallel-twin producing 60 horsepower at 6,600rpm, the bike was capable of hitting a top speed of 165km/h.

Over the next few years, the 750SF got improved instrumentation (with Nippon Denso bits replacing the earlier Smiths units), a redesigned exhaust system and disc brakes instead of the earlier drums. By the 1975, the big Laverda’s gear shift pedal had been moved to the left, and the rear brake pedal to the right, but only for the US models.

The bike’s final iteration – the SF3, which came out in 1976 – got a few styling tweaks, cast alloy wheels, disc brakes at the rear and a new seat with a fibreglass cowl. Although the bike was available brand new in 1977, actual production stopped in 1976, with Laverda having produced around 16,000 units of the bike from 1970-76.

According to some road tests of the 1970s, the Laverda 750SF was reliable and well built, but the suspension was excessively stiff, the clutch was weak, gears were hard to shift, and thanks to its exhaust system, the bike was a bit too loud. Hmmm… who cares, really? We think the 750SF was totally cool back in the 1970s, and it’s just as cool today…


A restored Laverda 750SF in action...!

Also see:
Ducati Berliner Apollo: The 1960s V-Max!
Memorable: The mid-1980s Honda VF1000R...
Gilera SP01 and SP02: Good things come in small packages...
Icy cool: The 1970s/80s Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans...
The late-1970s Peugeot-powered DJ 1200 Bol d’Or racer...
The amazing Münch Mammut TTS-E...
Memorable: The Bimota DB2...

Elsewhere today:
Memorable: The rotary-engined Hercules W2000...


Bayliss vs Rossi would be the greatest race ever, but is it going to happen? Ducati are ok with Bayliss coming out of retirement for this one, but would Yamaha allow this race to happen? Dennis Noyes at Speed TV has the story here!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Riding impression: Regis Laconi’s WSBK Kawasaki ZX-10R


According to Motociclismo, riding the ZX-10R is like riding a runaway horse...

After Troy Bayliss’ 1098R, Noriyuki Haga’s YZF-R1 and Carlos Checa’s Fireblade, Motociclismo have now ridden Regis Laconi’s Kawasaki ZX-10R racebike. Here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the green-meanie:

Despite the redoubtable talents of Team PSG-1 riders, Regis Laconi and Makoto Tamada, the ZX-10R wasn’t very successful in the 2008 World Superbikes season. The 2008 ZX-10R is actually smaller and much more manageable than its predecessor. The Kawasaki now feels more like its other Japanese rivals, though the ergonomics are still not as well sorted…

To ride, this 2008 ZX-10R is less physical than the 2007 bike – changing direction is now easier, the pressurized Öhlins fork is not too harsh, and the overall suspension/chassis package lets the bike make full use of the Pirelli tyres’ grip. Yes, this bike is quicker and much more effective than the one with which Fonsi Nieto struggled last year.

The problems start when you really open the throttle – you feel like you’re astride a runaway horse. Power delivery is abrupt and difficult to modulate, which makes life difficult for the rear suspension and the rear tyre. The bike moves around quite a bit and feels a bit unstable at full chat, and the traction control system has to work hard to keep it all under control.


The power is all there, Kawasaki just need to make it more manageable!

It seems the Kawasaki needs significant improvement in the area of electronics, so that power delivery is made more controllable. Compared with the other Japanese bikes, the Kawasaki is much more demanding to ride – the chassis and suspension still need more work.

With the declared 208bhp at the back wheel, the ZX-10R has adequate horsepower – it just needs to be smoothened out a bit, and the peaks and troughs in the power delivery need to be ironed out. The acceleration is actually quite impressive, with the bike wanting to lift the front wheel everywhere. It just needs to be made a bit more controllable. Perhaps in 2009…?

For the full riding impression, see the Motociclismo website here

World Superbikes PSG-1 Kawasaki ZX-10R: Tech specs

Engine: DOHC, 16-valve, 998cc inline-four, with Magneti Marelli electronic fuel injection
Maximum torque: 117Nm at 11,000rpm
Maximum power: >208bhp
Transmission: Six-speed
Chassis: Aluminium twin-spar
Front suspension: 43mm pressurized USD Öhlins TTX25 fork, 135mm travel, multi-adjustable
Rear suspension: Öhlins KA5511 monoshock, 140mm travel, multi-adjustable
Front brakes: Brembo, twin 320mm discs
Wheels and tyres: 120/65 ZR 16.5 (front), 190/65 ZR 16.5 (rear)
Declared dry weight: 162kg

Also see:
Sheene Tribute: Vermeulen-replica GSX-R1000...
Airbrush magic for motorcycles...
A diesel-powered Kawasaki, anyone...?
Franco Sbarro does a four-wheeled motorcycle concept...
Singularly sexy: The Ducati Supermono!
Nanotech: Smart helmets could save lives...
Memorable: The Moriwaki Dream Fighter...
1992-2008: Evolution of the Honda Fireblade...
Riding the Buell 1125R...

Elsewhere today:
A Taiwanese-made, fuel-cell-powered scooter...!
Do the smart thing, get a scooter...


...and here's the 2009 ZX-6R being tested at the Autopolis circuit in Japan

Mad Kaw: Turbo ZX-10R from Japan


Isao Yoshioka's turbocharged, 230bhp, 2004-model Kawasaki ZX-10R...

Sometimes, it’s a bit hard to believe the stock Kawasaki ZX-10R isn’t actually wild enough for some people. Take, for example, Isao Yoshioka san, who’s sent us this picture of his ZX-10R Ninja, which is loaded with aftermarket parts – MTC pistons, Crower rods, Muzzy clutch, T3 turbocharger, SARD wastegate and a handmade exhaust system. Also, the wheels have been changed to lightweight forged alloy Marchesini units, and the brakes are special BRR units.

Yoshioka san reckons that Kawasaki engine is making around 230 horsepower, and since he’s not satisfied with that (of course he isn’t, who would?), he plans to run more boost, add NOS, change the cams and use a longer, handmade swingarm.

Yoshioka says he likes Faster and Faster and that he finds Japanese motorcycle websites uninteresting. He also says he wants to go to the US because he likes drag racing and custom bike shows. Ah, well, we wish you all the best, Isao! And if we ever come down to Japan, can we take that ZX-10R of yours for a spin…?

Also see:
John Hopkins MotoGP-replica ZX-10R...
From Japan: The coolest, maddest, wildest scooter ever...
Yacouba Galle's Brutale-based Bestiale...
The world's first supercharged KTM RC8...
Bimota unleash the DB7 Oronero...
Hydrogen-petrol hybrid Kawasaki ZX-10R...
200bhp, NOS'd Suzuki B-King. We want one!!!
Ducati 1198S' DTC system: Now you can also be a riding God...
Women love big, noisy engines...
Team Nescafe Can replica Yamaha YZF750SP

Elsewhere today:
First ride: 2009 Bimota DB7...


Old school cool: Graeme Crosby talks about his Kawasakis here

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