Monday, January 26, 2009

And now, a Ferrari-Hayabusa trike!


A Ferrari-Hayabusa three-wheeler? Well, at least it looks pretty cool...


Pics: Carzi

A Suzuki Hayabusa, first converted into a trike and then painted in Ferrari F1 racing colours? Well, yeah, why not. Created by Trike Japan, this Ferrari-Hayabusa looks pretty cool to us. And according to the details available on its official website, the trike weighs 520kg, retains the stock Hayabusa engine (1,340cc inline-four that makes 196bhp@9,800rpm) and will seat two people. Prices are not mentioned, though we suppose this three-wheeled wonder may be a bit less expensive than a new California Coupe

Also see:
The only genuine Ferrari motorcycle in the world...
Gut-wrenching: The Hayabusa-powered SR8LM...
Italian racer-chic: Colnago Ferrari bikes...
It's all Bull: When Lamborghini made a motorcycle...
Peugeot V6-powered bike...
An Alfa-Romeo motorcycle...!
A different take on building a three-wheeled Hayabusa...

Elsewhere today?
Ferrari trike, not your style? Perhaps you'd like this Lamborghini ATV then...
Pedestrians, watch out PLEASE!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Xenophya Design: In conversation with Mark Wells and Ian Wride


Mark Wells and Ian Wride of Xenophya Design ponder the mysteries of motorcycle tailpiece design

Set up by Mark Wells and Ian Wride back in 2001, Xenophya Design is a UK-based motorcycle design consultancy – one of the very few such outfits in Europe. Xenophya recently moved into a new office that’s located in the Northumberland countryside, in the North East of England. Situated in a relatively inconspicuous building, the facility includes a design office, a clay-modelling studio and a workshop with painting facilities.

Mark and Ian have, apparently, built up a significant portfolio of motorcycle design projects over the year, though they can’t talk about much of their work because most of their clients insist on complete confidentiality. ‘Some of our most impressive, innovative work is confidential and not meant for public, much less competitor consumption,’ says Ian. ‘On occasion we have to stay completely anonymous. Some contracts state that we can't even mention that we worked for the client let alone be allowed to use anything in our portfolio. That’s just the way the industry works,’ adds Mark.

Now, since motorcycle design is one subject we’re deeply passionate about here at Faster and Faster, we asked Mark and Ian to speak about their work and their thoughts on motorcycle design. Here are some excerpts from what they had to say:

On why they chose to go with the name Xenophya

The word Xenophya is derived from Greek and means ‘strange in shape or nature.’ It seemed to suit what we were doing when first started up…

On how they got started with motorcycle design

It’s been a lifelong ambition – we can’t imagine doing anything else. After graduating from Northumbria University’s Transportation Design course in 2000, we wanted to be involved in bike design, by whatever means possible. Mark’s final year project was to redesign the Ducati 900SS, giving it a completely different image based on the standard chassis. This would broaden Ducati’s product line with minimal investment, or could be sold as a kit.

It showed potential as a product, so we set about designing an aftermarket kit for the Kawasaki ZX-9R, which could be simply bolted on in place of the original plastics. Once that was finished in clay, we got a bit of publicity which resulted in an accessories manufacturer asking us to design some parts for their range. To help pay the bills, the aftermarket kits got put on hold and the consulting has grown ever since.

On their favourite bikes, from the design perspective

This is a never ending theme of discussion in the studio and the answers tend to change from day to day. The problem is from a design point of view it’s all about context. For example, the Ducati 1098 is more evocative than say a Kawasaki Versys, but it can be argued that the Versys is a better piece of design. With the Versys, the designers at Kawasaki had to re-invent an existing product and make it appeal to an entirely new market – not an easy task. All the Ducati design team had to do was evolve a classic design - easy? Well, perhaps not, but you get the point.

It’s also tempting to ignore the obvious answers such as the 916 and instead tell you all about how important the Scott Flying Squirrel was, in order to demonstrate our in-depth and esoteric knowledge, but that would be a bit pretentious. So, without stating the obvious and listing the same models that appear in every top 10 bikes ever supplement, these are some of the bikes that are etched in our subconscious:

We both ride bikes and have a bit of a two-stroke habit, especially the early-90s Japanese race reps. The little RGV and NSR250s have great proportions and are two of the best looking bikes ever. They are anti-socially noisy and smokey. They demand focus. They handle better than almost anything and have enough power to put a big grin on your face without being caught out doing 180mph before you know it. That’s why it’s where our money went and that’s what we own. Mark has a NSR250 MC21 SP and I have an RGV250 VJ23. The world needs bikes like these again!

Going back a little further, the RD350LC (RZ to the rest of the world) was from the same school. I’ve always wanted one and at some stage, if I ever get a spare moment, I will find a seized one and restore it.

For Mark, as a kid, the posters he had on his bedroom wall were of the Norton F1 rotary, in JPS colours – the racer not the road bike. His dad even took him to see Trevor Nation and Steve Spray race the F1s in the British super bikes at Brands hatch…

We are both fans of and very influenced by 50s British racing singles like the Manx Norton, the AJS 7R and the Matchless G50. Each of these bikes is beautifully proportioned, with a dramatic horizontal line separating the organic forms of the tank/seat from the rest of the bike. Late 60s GP bikes like the Honda RC166 are also fantastic, not just to look at, but you’ve not lived until you’ve heard a six-cylinder 250. We first saw one being ridden in the flesh at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a couple of years ago.


A 250cc concept bike designed for a bike manufacturer based in India...

On how Xenophya works with bike manufacturers

We tend to work together with our customers to create the design brief. In an ideal world, we will take their marketing material and conduct our own research into the target consumer, resulting in a report which outlines the goals for the product. This is then used to inform the brief and the direction of the product.

What they want and what we want are irrelevant in a way. The product should be about what the target consumer wants. If we decide to make a bike red, it should be because that what will sell, not because it’s the CEO’s favourite colour.

It is also true that many of the large manufacturers have their own in-house design studios. Most of them however still commission external designers to work on projects. That could be to input some fresh ideas at the early concept generation stage, or to act as an overflow where their own staff are engaged on a project and something else needs doing. Some OEMs such as KTM and Yamaha have exclusive tie-ups with external studios such as Kiska and GK design. Certain parts of the process are regularly outsourced – for instance it’s not uncommon for OEMs to outsource clay modelling to a third party.

On the more interesting projects they’ve worked on

Working on the Fischer MRX650 was our first experience on a full bike. We were contacted in 2003 by Glynn Kerr, who needed help in building the clay model and subsequent model for the Indianapolis show. The design was done entirely by Glynn but working with him and the chaps at Gemini Racing in Milwaukee taught us a lot.

More recently the Royal Enfield Bullet Classic was great fun. Being British, it was a real opportunity for us to work on an old British brand which is one of the longest in continuous production. Royal Enfield really recognise the value in their brand and have made a real effort to embrace it and retain the heritage which I think shows in the product. It also meant we got to travel to India and were introduced to their domestic market which is now a key part of our business.

On working with bike manufacturers based in Asia

We have worked with Royal Enfield and a number of others. Bikes in Asia are still predominantly about transport, in Europe and the US they are a lifestyle product. This is changing in Asia and bikes like the Yamaha R15 are leading way in introducing new market segments. We were at the Delhi Auto Expo in January last year and the atmosphere on the Yamaha stand was truly electric – it reminded me of the excitement I felt the first time I visited a motorcycle show as a school boy. That’s not to say Europeans don’t get excited about bikes, but somehow it seemed more visceral, rawer in India.

The biggest physical difference in the products is the scale. On average, Asian populations are anthropometrically smaller, so bikes are designed with appropriate ergonomic triangles. In Europe we’re used to bigger bikes. Apart from a recent resurgence in 125s and scooters, most bikes are over 500cc. In Asia, it’s all about affordable, practical transport so priorities are completely different. Bikes are mostly under 200cc and need to be versatile. In markets like India, there are also specialist requirements such as sari guards which need to be taken into account when designing a new motorcycle.

The biggest difference however is in the volumes that are manufactured and sold. The whole of Europe and Japan combined manufactured around 3.5 million units in 2006 compared to seven million in India and a mind blowing 20 million units (nearly half of all global production) in China. These vast quantities affect how you go about designing a motorcycle. In Europe, the number of bikes that a manufacturer predicts it can sell will greatly influence the method of manufacturing – tooling cost is a crucial consideration when deciding whether a design is feasible or not. In Asia, however, the numbers of units manufactured is so vast that tooling costs become less significant. Instead, raw material/part prices are a higher priority.

On Japanese vs European motorcycle design

The Japanese are technically superb, practical, reliable and governed by strict brand guidelines. Their design is equally well governed and subsequently competent – you rarely see a genuinely ugly Japanese bike (although someone at Kawasaki must have misplaced the manual when they designed the ZZR1400). The Yamaha R-series is a great example of good design evolution over time. The current R1 can be easily traced back 10 years – the current model is clearly related to the 1998 model, but still looks modern. The 2002 model is actually one of the prettiest bikes in recent years and had it been painted red with the D word written on it, it might have attracted more attention. Can I add that to my list?

European design is self-proclaimed as being more passionate and creative, however the truth is the Japanese are every bit as enthusiastic, passionate and creative. The Italians are particularly good at shouting about ‘Italian Style.’ They aren’t so keen on telling everyone that the designers in these companies responsible for some of the memorable models are often not Italian. In truth, most design studios are very multinational environments with teams of engineers and designers from all over the world contributing to the final product. At Xenophya, we regularly employ a network of design professionals from all over the world.

On how they expect motorcycle design to evolve in the future

In pure styling terms, we’ve seen motorcycles, sportsbikes particularly, becoming increasingly complex. The Yamaha R6 is probably the most extreme example, with a high panel count and complex surfaces. I think this has peaked and will start to move back to simpler forms – the new R1 already shows signs of that.

One aspect which we have seen grow recently is the role of the importers and their relationships with Asian factories. The influx of low cost models from Asia has prompted smaller manufacturers and even larger importers to take a scooter, for example, and make it their own by replacing the body. This presents new opportunities for outsourced design companies to work with a greater range of clients wanting to differentiate their products.

Although still extremely popular, there has, in Western European markets, recently been a shift away from the hyper-sports category of motorcycles. We suspect (and hope) that a new selection of mid-sized experience oriented products will enter the market to cater for people who want to be thrilled, and involved without necessarily doing 200mph.

It seems almost inevitable that we will see an ever greater number of electric and alternative fuelled motorcycles on the market. The challenge here will be to create products which are as exciting and involving as current motorcycles are.

We thank Mark and Ian for taking the time to answer all our questions. And we wish them all the best – hope Xenophya gets to work on many exciting motorcycle design projects in the future...!

Also see:
In conversation with Gerald Kiska, of Kiska Design...
Pierre Terblanche moves on from Ducati...
Massimo Tamburini retires from MV Agusta...
Derbi: Carlos Carrasco’s GPR Concept...
Nitin Design: The Dacoit roams free...!
Ecosse ES1 engineer wins design award...
CIV: The Lotus-designed snow scooter from hell...

Elsewhere today:
Yeah, well, but we'd still be happy to ride anybody's 2009 Yamaha R1...
The Wesll Quad: Lean into it...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

1975 Kawasaki Z900-based dirt-tracker special


A Kaw Z900-based dirt-tracker? Why not!
Pics: Ottonero

Built by Gitielle Moto, the Kawasaki dirt-tracker-style machine you see here is based on a 1975 Z900. Of course, apart from the engine, fuel tank and side panels, very little remains of the original machine.

The chassis has been modified extensively, the front fork has been taken from a Kawasaki GPZ900R, the adjustable rear shock absorbers are Bitubo units, the aluminium swingarm is a custom-built one-off item, the brakes (300mm disc at the front, 240mm disc at the back) are from Beringer and the bike’s 17-inch wheels are shod with Pirelli rubber – 120/70 at the front, 160/60 at the back.

Other changes include a hydraulic clutch, a custom-built seat covered with special slip-resistant upholstery and the wild green paintjob that you’ll either love or hate...!

Of course, the regular Z900 was a handsome beast in its own right...

Also see:
Big CC Racing's Kawasaki ZZR1400 Turbo...
The fearsome 1975 Yamaha TZ750 dirt-tracker...
Down memory lane: Board-track racing in the US...
1992 Kawasaki ZX-7R special...
Riding impression: Moriwaki MD250H...
In conversation with Kevin Schwantz...
The quickest Kawasaki ZX-12R in the world...

Elsewhere today:
One-off: The Triumph Quadrent...
A battery-powered Vespa...?
Red-hot Honda Fireblade...

Christini Technologies unveils AWD SuperMoto


The Christini AWD SuperMoto. Is AWD the next step forward in sportbike technology?
Pic: Motorcycle-USA

All-wheel-drive on motorcycles? Steve Christini has been at it for more than 10 years. The man really believes in the AWD concept and his company – Christini Technologies – has, over the years, been working tirelessly towards an AWD motorcycle that really works. And if the recently unveiled Christini SuperMoto is anything to go by, AWD motorcycles might just be getting ready to go mainstream.

The Christini SuperMoto prototype is actually a KTM 450 SX-F, with various aftermarket bits and the Christini AWD system. The Christini AWD is actually a kit that can be added to some Honda and KTM dirtbikes. It comprises of a purely mechanical (as opposed to hydraulic) system that transfers power to the front wheel. We’ll admit we don’t understand the system too well, but you can visit the Christini website here to read more about the mechanics of the AWD system.

We are more interested in what the AWD system does – it’s supposed to provide extra traction and stability, especially on dirtbikes and dual-purpose machines. Christni have also been working to fine-tune the system for streetbikes – in the few tests they’ve done so far, AWD is said to improve cornering speeds and stability during exiting fast bends.

We think AWD on bikes is pretty damn cool. Who knows what a Fireblade, GSX-R1000, R1 or 1198S will do with AWD? Heck, it may even allow ordinary riders to corner like Rossi & Co. Or maybe not. But whatever, this technology is one to watch out for in the future…!

Also see:
Cool concept: The Yamaha Air Tricker...
Ecosse ES1: Reinventing the sportsbike...
Riding impression: The supercharged, 180bhp Roehr 1250SC
Blast from the past: Kawasaki ZX-10 Turbo!
Motorcycle Speedway: Just how tough are you?
Memorable: The mid-1980s Honda VF1000R...

Elsewhere today:
KTM test 2WD bikes...
Here's something for those who want to ride in the snow...

2009 MotoGP: Ilmor to work on privateer Kawasaki ZX-RRs?


While Kawasaki will not provide any parts or assistance to Bartholemy's proposed privateer MotoGP outfit, Ilmor might step in with their expertise...

Kawasaki’s immediate future in MotoGP is still uncertain. Team Green’s MotoGP team boss, Michael Bartholemy is reportedly in Japan right now, trying to figure out whether Kawasaki can still participate in the 2009 MotoGP world championship. With Dorna threatening to hit Kawasaki with a fine of around US$28 million if they pull out of MotoGP (Kawasaki had earlier committed to staying in MotoGP till 2011 at least…), the beleaguered bike manufacturer may also be looking for a middle path that gives them a way out of this mess.

The ‘middle path’ that may get the required minimum of 19 bikes on the 2009 MotoGP grid could be that Bartholemy runs a private team with two Kawasaki ZX-RRs, which would be ridden by Marco Melandri and John Hopkins. However, Kawasaki will not provide any support, and parts, development and everything else will be handled by Bartholemy.

Kawasaki test rider, Olivier Jacque has already been testing the 2009 prototype ZX-RR. And with regard to the requirement of parts and development, it’s now being said that British engineering firm – Ilmor – could step in with their expertise.

Based in Northamptonshire in the UK, Ilmor came to MotoGP for a brief period in 2006 and 2007, with their own racebike. However, due to a lack of funds, the company shut down its MotoGP operations in March 2007. Now, with Kawasaki ZX-RR machines up for grabs, Ilmor could possibly be back in MotoGP, supplying technical backup to Bartholemy’s privateer outfit. An Ilmor was the very first 800cc MotoGP machine to come to MotoGP, when Garry McCoy rode against 990cc machines towards the end of the 2006 season. We don’t know if a Kawasaki-Ilmor privateer team would have any success against factory Honda, Yamaha and Ducati bikes, but it’ll at least keep Kawasaki in MotoGP.

Kawasaki’s final decision is expected later this week, so stay tuned for more on this…

Also see:
Massive collection of 2008 MotoGP wallpaper...
Fast past: Gary Nixon rides the Kawasaki ZX-RR...
Face-off: 2009 Yamaha R1 vs 1990s Yamaha YZR500...!
Classic: The 200mph NSU 500 Kompressor...
Memorable: The Laverda 750 Formula S
Marco 'Crazy Horse' Lucchinelli, 1981 500cc motorcycle GP racing world champ...
Team Nescafe replica Yamaha YZF750SP...

Elsewhere today:
Métisse will build Steve McQueen’s bike for you...
V8-powered motorcycles from Sweden...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2009 Yamaha R1 riding impressions


The 2009 Yamaha R1. The ride of your life...

With its MotoGP-derived technologies, the 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1 is supposed to be the hottest ticket to superbike nirvana this year. Some of the world’s motorcycle press have had the opportunity to ride The One, and here are some interesting excerpts from what they have to say:

‘All you need to know is, the new engine has transformed the R1 into one of the best sportsbikes I’ve ever ridden, and that’s praise indeed when you consider just how good the current Honda Fireblade is,’ says Michael Neeves at MCN. ‘Revving the engine for the first time, it’s hard to comprehend just how quickly the rev needle dances around the dial; it spins more like a two-stroke 500cc GP machine than a litre-sized road bike,’ he adds.

‘The way the R1 leaps out of corners is incredible. As soon as you’re ready to accelerate, the Yamaha surges forward like it’s powered by an industrial-strength electric motor – it’s just seamless, instant torque and power, and impossibly easy to control,’ says Neeves. ‘Honestly the R1 accelerates like it has a racing engine; it has V-twin levels of torque down low and screaming four-cylinder power up top. The howl from the engine at full throttle is exactly the same as Rossi’s M1; it’s like your very own MotoGP bike for the road,’ he adds.

About the new R1’s handling, Neeves says, ‘A new chassis helps the R1 feel much lighter than the old one, and it steers much quicker and more accurately. As always for Yamaha, the handling is nice and neutral, although probably not as ‘pointy’ or fast steering as the Fireblade. In one stroke, it makes every other sports bike out there seem a bit old and wheezy. Impressed isn’t the word.’
 
The 2009 Yamaha R1 on test...
At Motorcycle-USA, Steve Atlas is no less impressed with the R1. ‘The throttle response is unlike anything I have ever felt. So instantaneous and so precise, it caught me off guard during our first session at the 12-turn Eastern Creek Raceway. On more than one occasion I twisted the grip a bit too far while still at high levels of lean, spinning the street-spec rear tire and popping my butt a few inches off the seat when it hooked up. Wake up time! It's spot-on, in-your-face good,’ says Atlas. ‘Overall, the feeling of the engine truly is hard to describe as is the distinct sound. You still get the sense it’s an inline-four once the revs build high, but in the low rpm it feels almost like a well-tuned V-twin race bike, and in a way, sounds like one as well. Vibration is far from what you are used to as well, feeling somewhat like a traditional V8 car. The most amount of disturbance is right off idle low in the rpm, smoothing out as revs increase and becoming almost nonexistent at top-end – completely opposite of any inline-four we have ever ridden. Strange initially, but one quickly gets used to it,’ says Atlas. Regarding the handling, Atlas says, ‘Front-end confidence is greatly improved from last year due to the updated weight distribution, giving the rider far more confidence to push deeper and flick harder as the fork gives ample feedback. Once on its side, the R1 continually feels as if you can lean it further and further, quickly approaching elbow-dragging territory.’ However, Atlas discovers that the R1 is not without its shortcomings. ‘Brakes are still the weak point of the R-Uno. Despite the changes up front the lever feels a bit wooden throughout its pull, lacking the outright power of some of the competition. Where in this day and age using anything more than two fingers to stop is almost unheard of, on more than one occasion I was in deep enough to require the use of my entire hand, even running off the track into the grass once, something I haven’t done since… well, the last time I rode an R1. That being said, they are slightly better than the previous model,’ he says. Hmmm… apart from the brakes, it all sounds pretty impressive. We don’t know yet how the 2009 R1 will stack up against this year’s GSX-R1000, but we suppose it’ll be close. Let the 2009 superbike dogfights begin…

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gordon Murray: “The MV Agusta F4 is so slow!”


Gordon Murray, the man who designed the McLaren F1, says the Ducati 916SP was much better to ride than the MV Agusta 750 F4...

John Cantlie of TWO magazine had the opportunity to talk to Gordon Murray, the man who designed the McLaren F1, perhaps the greatest, ‘purest’ street-legal supercar of all time. With its top speed of 386.7km/h, the McLaren F1 is still the world’s fastest production car with a normally-aspirated engine.

What some people may not know is that Gordon ‘Mr McLaren F1’ Murray is also an ardent motorcycle enthusiast. Speaking to Cantlie, here’s some of what Murray had to say about his bikes:

On the Ducati 916 vs MV Agusta F4

I own a 916SP and I love it. The only bike I like better, which was made by the same team, is the MV Agusta F4. I bought the 750 just because the styling and the engineering is so good. I love all the forgings and casting and just thought it was a fantastic motorbike. But I only kept it for two years.

Unfortunately I hadn't had a small engined bike for many years and that thing just didn't go, it was aggravating to ride and you had to get over 9,500rpm before it did anything. I should have hung it on the wall, that's what I bought it for. The F4 is so slow! The Ducati is a much better bike to ride.

On how he got into motorcycling

The bike thing started when I lived in South Africa. When you were 16 you could ride little 50cc bikes that we called 'buzz bikes.' For £10 I got a second-hand Maserati 50 and used to ride that around. In fact just this month I've bought another one to hang on my workshop wall at home to remind me of those early days. Unlike my dad I never raced bikes. Well, not formally anyway. The only bike racing I did was when we used to break into the circuit and race our 50cc bikes around, ha ha!

On his Honda VF1000R

In 1981, when I was technical director of Brabham, Nelson Piquet [who won the F1 world championship that year] was driving, and he gave me a Joey Dunlop Isle of Man replica VF1000R as a thank you. I had that for quite a few years and then I started getting into Ducatis…

On his Ducatis

Well I had a 750 F1, which I went down to the factory to order, then an 888 SP1 and now I have a 916 SP4. I sold the VF because it got to the point where I simply had too many bikes. I had loads of dirt bikes because I used to do trail riding. I wasn't riding them all, so I thinned down to one touring bike and one race bike.

Apart from all the dirt bikes, I still have them all over the place. Now I just have a 1300 Pan European for long distance and the Ducati for fun. I hate collecting. If I don't ride or drive something in 12 months I sell it, or hang it up.

On his best biking memories

Any one of the years at the TT, I love it. From the point of view of me riding? The first time I got on the 916. In those days the SPS used to arrive in a box and you had to assemble them yourself. I still enjoy getting my hands dirty...

See the full interview on Visordown here

Also see:
Does your bike need hubless wheels...?
Carl Fogarty isn't very popular after all...
Back to the 1980s...
SUB G1: One racy trike...
The best two-stroke sportsbikes in the world...
Muzzy Kawasaki Raptor 850. Holy Kaw!
HUGE collection of 2008 MotoGP wallpaper...
When Lamborghini made a motorcycle...
At least the Ferrari motorcycle looks better...

Elsewhere today:
Gordon Murray speaks about his T.25 city car project...
Verona Motor Bike Expo 2009: Picture gallery...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kevin Schwantz on what he teaches, MotoGP, and whether Rossi can be beaten…


Schwantz says Rossi will win if there's a Rossi-vs-Bayliss match-up!

Crash.net recently did an interview with Kevin Schwantz, 500cc motorcycle GP racing world champ in 1993 and also one of our all-time favourite GP racers. Here are some excerpts from Schwantz had to say in the interview:

On what he teaches at the Kevin Schwantz Suzuki School, which recently moved from Road Atlanta to Barber Motorsports Park

The school has always been based around riding. It is not a racing school and although we hold it at a racing circuit, it is so we can control that 2.5 miles of race track. What I teach is what I learnt during my racing career, but mostly it is about basic handling skills, visual awareness, body position, braking technique… the things that can be applied to the race track or on the street.

On how his riding school tries to mould rider skills

The first and most difficult thing we have to overcome is visual awareness – we have to be out in front of that motorcycle, so we are not reacting to situations but anticipating what is going to happen. If someone gets into a corner too deep, they typically get on the brakes, startle themselves and look at what is on the outside of the track. Our instinct tells us we want to see what is out there, but nine times out of ten, where you look is where you go. So, you have to continue to look where you want to go, rather than the outside of the track where the trouble is.

On why he’s not back in MotoGP this year, as a team manager

It is a sign of the times, with the economy. I was recently in Japan and everyone is preparing for the worst. To build another bike and to get it out on the grid at extra expense is not financially viable, so Suzuki didn't think it was the time to be spending money. It might still happen, though.

On what Suzuki need to do to start winning in MotoGP

I wish I knew the answer. Having to watch from a distance, and not being there every weekend or seeing the progress made by the team and their rivals, makes it hard to comment on that. I think Chris and Loris are doing a good job. I think Loris has helped, especially in terms of direction and development, and Chris still has that fire inside him. We see when it is equal out there that the Suzuki is as capable as anything else out there in the wet, but the guys have to find a little bit more performance. There are lots of little things that need to happen, but to pin-point one thing is hard.

On the proposed Rossi vs Bayliss match-up

I have all the respect in the world for Troy Bayliss as a racer, a person, as a competitor – he is obviously a very smart person. I don't think that a man who has money to put on the line, though, can bet against Rossi. I have seen Valentino do some amazing things, like Bayliss, but I think Valentino would come out on top. It would be a very ferocious battle but Valentino would have the upper hand.

On whether Rossi can be beaten in 2009

I definitely think Rossi can be beaten – we have seen on certain occasions that he has beaten himself! Valentino is getting to the age where he is a really smart, savvy rider – he knows what he can do and what he cannot get away with. Stoner will be his biggest challenger, but I like to think Nicky Hayden on a Ducati will be able to step up and find that world championship winning form he had a couple of years ago. Pedrosa, as always, Dovizioso... There are a lot of guys out there that, with a little improvement, could challenge Rossi.

On Kawasaki's withdrawal from MotoGP

It is one of those things that, no doubt, has a big effect on the image of MotoGP. I don't think it is a sign of the demise of MotoGP, but more that it is a sign of how bad things are in the current economic state.

For the full interview, see the Crash.net website here

Also see:
In conversation with Alex Criville, 1999 500cc world champ...
Leslie Porterfield, the fastest female motorcyclist in America...
Memorable: Graeme Crosby and his bikes...
Duell in hell: BMW HP2 Sport vs KTM RC8...
The man even Valentino Rossi can never beat...
Back to the begining: Gottlieb Daimler Reitwagen replica...
One-off 1992 Kawasaki ZX-7R special...

Elsewhere today:
The silliest three-wheeler concept we've ever seen...
Picture gallery: Bikes, and those Italian ladies...

MotoGP: Vittoriano Guareschi is impressed with the 2009 Ducati GP9 racebike


Vittoriano Guareschi says the Ducati GP9 is more predictable and easier to ride than the GP8. Finally, Ducati may have built a machine which riders other than Stoner can win races on!

Story via Motoblog

Kawasaki have left MotoGP (or have they?) and Suzuki are rumoured to be considering the possibility of either leaving MotoGP or drastically scaling down their investment in the sport. But one company that’s certainly steaming ahead is Ducati. The Italians are ready with their 2009 MotoGP bike – the GP9 – with which the big news seems to be its all-new carbonfibre chassis.

2009 will be the first year when Ducati abandon their traditional steel tube trellis type chassis and move to a carbonfibre unit. And Apart from the new chassis, other changes on the GP9 include a new airbox and revised fuel injection mapping for a flatter power curve and improved rideability. With an estimated 230 horsepower from its 799cc, liquid-cooled, 90-degree, DOHC, 16-valve V4, the Ducati GP9 is a formidable machine that can hit a top speed of about 330km/h.

The bike is fitted with a six-speed cassette-type gearbox and dry multi-plate slipper clutch. The engine is fed by an indirect Magneti Marelli electronic fuel injection system, with four throttle bodies and injectors above butterfly valves. The exhaust is a custom-built unit from Termignoni and fully-adjustable Öhlins suspension components are used at both ends.

Riding on 16.5-inch wheels shod with Bridgestone rubber, the GP9 is stopped by Brembo brakes – twin 320mm carbon front discs with four-piston callipers and single stainless steel rear disc with two-piston callipers. The bike weighs 148 kilos.

Vittoriano Guareschi, who’s been instrumental in developing Ducati’s MotoGP bikes from 2002 onwards, has also tested the GP extensively. ‘When they told me about the switch from the earlier steel tube trellis frame to carbonfibre, I was surprised. But now I’m impressed. The GP9 is the first racebike ever to have a chassis made entirely of carbonfibre,’ says Guareschi.

‘The carbon frame is definitely a step forward – the bike is now a little more predictable and is more intuitive to ride. It will be easier for more riders to take the GP9 to the limit,’ says Guareschi. ‘And the new bike has more torque and is more rideable, without losing any of its top-end power,’ he adds.

Hmmm… so does this mean the Stoner-Hayden duo will be challenging Rossi and Pedrosa for the 2009 MotoGP world championship? Stranger things have happened…

Also see:
HUGE collection of MotoGP wallpaper from 2008 and 2007
Desmosedici RR: For the love of Ducati...
1952: When Ducati made scooters...
Face-off: Ducati 1098 vs Lamborghini Gallardo...
Classic: The Ducati Supermono...
Here's why you need the DTC system on the new Ducati 1198S...
1960s Berliner Apollo: The maddest Ducati ever...?
Riding impression: Troy Bayliss' 1098R...

Elsewhere today:
Classic: The 1985 Honda VF1000R...
Smoking hot KTM RC8...!
No GSX-R? Take this train. But only in Spain...


Like this one? See here for another dozen of the coolest Monsters in the world!
Pics: PNW Riders

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Trillium Muir, the fastest woman in the world…


Trillium Muir, the lady who hit 239.36mph (382.98km/h) on her Turbo Hayabusa...

Pics: Trillium Muir

Last year, we spoke to Leslie Porterfield, who hit an impressive top speed of 234.197mph (374.72km/h) on her Hayabusa, at the BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials in the US. And while that’s a commendable achievement, it isn’t apparently enough for ‘The World’s Fastest Woman on a Motorcycle’ title. That’s because a Canadian rider – Trillium Muir – has gone even faster.

Twenty-eight years old and based in Sudbury, Ontario, Trillium has done an ECTA-certified 239.36mph (382.98km/h) on her Hayabusa, at Maxton, and that makes her the fastest woman in the world on two wheels. We wanted to know more about her, so we sent her a list of questions and here’s what she had to say:

On how she got into motorcycling

I have been riding for only four years. The first bike I rode was a 1977 Honda 500, around the yard. My brother John ran beside me yelling instructions on how to shift and stop…

On how she got into the motorcycle land speed racing scene

In September 2006, I went to watch a land speed event at Maxton NC. And at that meet I went from a being a spectator to becoming the first woman ever to go 200mph at that particular venue. Not bad for a girl, eh?!

On her 239mph Hayabusa

I rode our 2003 Suzuki Hayabusa that has a GT35R turbo from RCC turbos. The bike is also fitted with an Aims data logger, JE Pistons, Crower rods, MTC lock-up clutch, Elka shock, custom-built swingarm, RCC back cut transmission and much more. The motor and the turbocharger were built by RCC. I do most of our clutch work and have the patience for wiring. Anything that needs to be done, I can do it, and have.

On her favourite riders

I follow drag racing and some of my favourite riders are Angelle Sampey and the Gadsons.

On riding on the street

I ride my 2008 Blue/Gold Suzuki Hayabusa on the street. We have some really strict laws in Canada, so I try not to get too carried away. And the potholes are so big, I could get lost in them…

On how she prepares for the race

Everything a person does is 80% mental. I have a 20 hour drive to Maxton from Canada, so by the time I get to the track my mind is made up that I am going fast. There is no time to get scared when riding that fast, just hang on!

On how people react to her being the fastest woman in the world

Most men are really impressed and are very encouraging. I usually get, ‘Wow a little woman like you can handle a bike with that much horsepower!’ Most women are also very supportive and proud. But I do notice the odd bit of jealously from other female riders. My mother had the best reaction ever – ‘You go girl!’

On future plans

I have so many plans for next year – finish building my house, and go 250+mph. And I want to get really good at drag racing.

On some of her all-time favourites

Bike: Suzuki Hayabusa (of course…)
Car: Any older corvette
Book: Long Way Round
Racing heroine/hero: Danica Patrick, Bill Warner
Food: Greek
Drink: Anything fruity
Music: Nickelback, Rob Zombie
Movie: Tombstone
Holiday destination: Cayo Coco, Cuba


We wish Trillium all the very best for the future and hope she just keeps going faster and faster...!
Pic: Cliff

Also see:
Classic: The Bimota SB2...
Make it snappy: The Gurney Alligator Instigator...
Riding impression: Regis Laconi's WSBK Kawasaki ZX-10R...
MTT Turbine Streetfighter: The fastest street jet in the world...
Safety: APC's airbag helmet for motorcyclists...
Here's why you should ride a big, powerful, noisy motorcycle...
DTC: You can also ride the Ducati 1198S like Stoner. Well, almost. Probably...

Elsewhere today:
Desmo coffee: The Ducati Cafe...
Ducati 750SS: 'Old Blue' rides again...

Friday, January 09, 2009

2009 Yamaha XJ6 riding impression


The 2009 Yamaha XJ6, a good beginners bike that's not just for the ladies...

For those who don’t want an R1 or even an R6, Yamaha have the do-it-all XJ6. It won’t knock your socks off in terms of styling or performance, but it’s easy to ride, low on maintenance and even provides a reasonable amount of fun as long as you remember it’s an XJ6 and not the YZR-M1. The guys at Motociclismo recently tested the bike, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the new XJ6:

Right away, the Yamaha’s ergonomics work for most people. It’s a small, short bike that feels light and narrow, and offers a decent amount of legroom for the rider and the pillion seat passenger. The seat is comfortable, the suspension is soft-ish and the handlebar feels just right.

image host
Who says you can't have fun with 78 horsepower...?

The XJ6’s 600cc inline-four produces 78bhp and with its decent low-rpm torque delivery, it’s quite usable in town. Out on the highway, the Yamaha engine continues to impress – it’s low on vibration and does a mileage of about 16.4km/l, which, given the bike’s 17.3-litre fuel tank, means a range of around 285km.

The brakes work well, offering adequate stopping power even in streaming wet conditions. And things should be even better with the optional ABS installed. Even with its basic suspension – 41mm fork and monoshock (with adjustable preload) – and tubular steel chassis, the XJ6 offers good cornering stability. As you gain confidence in the bike’s abilities, you can safely increase your cornering speeds without any problem. Overall, it’s a good bike, especially for beginners. If you’re just starting off on two wheels, you definitely want to take a good look at this one!

Full riding impression on the Motociclismo website here

 
A video of the XJ6 on the move...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Naked Truth: BMW K1300R vs Buell 1125CR


The BMW is more powerful and looks more aggressive. But which, really, is the better bike?

This isn’t, perhaps, the most awaited sportsbike shootout ever. We doubt if too many BMW loyalists would ever leave their beloved Bavarian machines and switch over to Buell, while fans of the all-American Buell aren’t very likely to ever defect to the BMW camp. Still, Motociclismo recently had the opportunity to pit the K1300R against the 1125CR, and here’s what they have to say about how the two bikes stack up against each other:

The technology that’s gone into these two bikes is as unconventional as their styling. The 176bhp K1300R uses shaft drive, the 146bhp 1125CR uses belt drive. The BMW uses Duolever front suspension, which you won’t find on any other bike, while the Buell’s perimeter disc braking system at the front wheel entails the use of a single disc – unlike all other large-displacement sportsbikes, which use twin disc set-ups at the front.


Both bikes use unconventional chassis, suspension and braking systems...

The BMW is the better bike for riding in the city, thanks to its anti-lock brakes (ABS) and optional traction control – things which provide a lot of reassurance during hard braking and acceleration. The riding position is pretty comfortable too, though your shin will often hit the BMW’s engine casing on the right hand side, when you put your feet down while coming to a complete stop.

Riding the Buell in the city gets tiring within a few kilometres – the high footpegs, and the shape and the positioning of the handlebar sees to that. But while it affects low speed comfort, the 1125CR’s sports-oriented riding position is perfect for high speed cornering.

Another thing that goes against the Buell is its brakes, which work in a rather abrupt fashion. Initially, the brakes don’t seem powerful enough at all and then, when they suddenly bite, they can upset the bike somewhat.


What do you want - stable, or nimble? With these two bikes, you can't have both!

Developed by Rotax, the Buell’s v-twin is one of the most pleasant twin-cylinder engines current available in the market. Low-rpm torque delivery makes the bike very rideable at low speeds and the linear power delivery means the bike picks up speed smoothly and consistently.

The BMW’s four-cylinder engine is also much improved over its predecessor – it feels significantly more powerful, the roughness has disappeared and power delivery has been smoothened out very well. On the highway, the K1300R offers better wind protection than the 1125CR and feels more planted, more stable, while the Buell feels more nimble and responsive.


More than anything else, we suppose it's the 'image' you want that'll decide what bike you choose...

When it comes to high speed cornering, the Buell outshines the BMW. The K1300R isn’t bad – in fact it’s quite good considering it’s size and weight – but the Buell is in a different league. The Buell’s braking characteristics and suspension set-up are just more conducive to letting the rider push harder in the corners, and the bike is more supple and responsive in the bends than the BMW.

So there you are – most of the important questions regarding the two bikes’ behaviour have been answered. But, somehow, we doubt if too many BMW or Buell buyers were actually waiting for this shoot-out in order to decide which bike they want. No, they've made up their minds already...

For the full, original story, visit the Motociclismo website here

More Battles:
Bimota DB7 vs Ducati 1098R vs MV Agusta F4...
BMW HP2 Sport vs KTM 1190 RC8...
2009 Yamaha R1 vs early-1990s Yamaha YZR500 GP racer...
1974 MV Agusta 500 GP racer vs Ducati's GP7 MotoGP bike...
MotoGP vs Professional Bullfighting...!
Ducati 1098 vs KTM 1190 RC8...
1992 Honda Fireblade vs 2008 Honda Fireblade...
Buell 1125R vs BMW HP2 Sport...

Elsewhere today:
After a day of hard riding, some of this is what we want...!
Faster and Faster: The fastest ladies on Flickr...!

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