Friday, January 02, 2009

Barry Sheene tribute Suzuki GSX-R750


Motorcycle-USA's project GSX-R750 pays homage to Barry Sheene's 500cc GP racer of the late-1970s. And it looks just amazing...

From left: Chris Vermeulen's GSV-R MotoGP bike, which he used at the 2007 Australian grand prix, Vermeulen riding a 1970s Suzuki RG500, and Barry Sheene himself

What we have here is Motorcycle-USA’s Suzuki GSX-R750 project bike, which we think looks simply fabulous. The UK-based Stamford had done a similar looking bike last year, but it seems this is the first time this paint scheme has been done on a GSX-R in the US.

Back in 2007, Chris Vermeulen ran a Barry Sheene tribute paintjob on his GSV-R racebike at the Australian grand prix, and the M-USA project GSX-R, prepared by Grant Matsushima of MPT Racing, is a replica of that machine. As you’d expect, it’s loaded with aftermarket parts – handmade MPT exhaust system (with an optional KR Tuned end can), Brembo brakes with radial-mount monobloc callipers and radial master cylinder, Kevlar-coated steel-braided brake lines, Ohlins cartridge drop-in fork internals, TTX shock, shorter gearing and Dunlop 209 GP ‘A’ tyres.

The bike packs 150bhp at the rear wheel, the special blue-and-white paintjob has been done by Matt Polosky of Color Zone Designs, and in the next stage, M-USA say they plan to add lightweight wheels, traction control and other high-tech bits to their project GSX-R to make it go even harder and faster. Hmmm... way to go!

More race-replicas:
John Hopkins MotoGP-replica Kawasaki ZX-10R...
Valentino Rossi's bike for the street...?
Yamaha RD500-based YZR500 replica...
The coolest ever racer-rep KTM RC8...
GSV-R replica GSX-R1000...
Team Nescafe Can replica Yamaha YZF750SP...
Kevin Schwantz replica Lucky Strike Suzuki GSX-R...
A bunch of race-rep Honda Fireblades...
Fonsi Nieto replica Suzuki GSX-R1000...

Custom cool: Tamworth Yamaha FZ1


The Tamworth FZ1. That blue-white paintjob looks damn cool!
Pic: MCN

The standard FZ1 isn’t such a bad thing, but UK-based Yamaha dealers, Tamworth have heated things up a bit with their special edition FZ1. There’s that blue-and-white Fiat-Yamaha paintjob to begin with, which looks very cool, and then there’s a load of aftermarket parts – Ohlins forks, Brembo brakes with radial-mount monobloc callipers, Akrapovic exhaust (with a Termignoni sticker!) and some YEC kit parts for the engine.

This particular bike belongs to the man who owns Tamworth Yamaha and is not for sale. However, if you live in the UK and want Tamworth to build a special Yamaha for them, they’d probably be happy to accommodate you. Visit their official website here for more details.

More specials:
The BMW MeGa 1 cafe-racer...
RetroSBK's neo-retro GS tribute GSX-R...
Big muscle: The Kawabusa II...
Over the top: 200bhp, NOS'd Suzuki B-King...
Boosted: The world's first supercharged KTM RC8...
1885 Gottlieb Daimler Reitwagen replica...!
Hannspree Ten Kate replica Honda Fireblade...
One-off Ducati 1098 Senna...

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 HÃ¥kansson’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

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