Monday, February 09, 2009

Speedymax's Kawasaki ZX-9R-based streetfighter


Simon Speedymax's Kawasaki ZX-9R-based streetfighter...

Pics: Speedymax

We first came across this rather interesting looking streetfighter on Motoblog and then traced its owner – Simon 'Speedymax' – through Flickr, to ask him for more details on this machine. Turns out the bike is based on an early-1990s B1 model Kawasaki ZX-9R, which has been heavily modified by Simon.

The list of add-ons is quite long – wavy bake discs with Harrison six-piston callipers, Rizoma clutch and brake levers, carbonfibre front mudguard, Vapor motocross tacho and speedo, Harris race bars, Barnet clutch, braced JMC swingarm, Nitrox rear shock and MotoGP-style exhaust system, to name just a few.

The ZX-9R’s ram-air ducts and airbox have been modified and the ‘Phantom Head’ fairing is from the Belgium-based Tecno-Bike. Simon has got NOS bottle mounts fitted to the bike but says the NOS system is not yet functional, though it will be, soon. He also says he intends to do more – lots of polishing and the application of pearl blue paint with simple white graphics, which he intends to do on his own.

The standard B1 ZX-9R had about 125bhp and a top speed of around 265km/h. Depending on how the bike’s NOS system is finally set up, Simon’s streetfighter could have about 140-165bhp, which should certainly be quite enough to have a bit of a blast. Go, Speedymax…!

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Battle of the Ninjas: ZZR1100 vs ZZR1400!

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Desmo Duo: Ducati 851 and Ducati 1198S


The Ducati 851 Tricolore. Still so effortlessly cool after all these years...

One of our all-time favourite Ducatis, the 851 was launched back in 1987. The first truly modern machine from Ducati, the 851 Desmoquattro came with liquid-cooling, fuel-injection and four-valve, Desmodromic cylinder heads.

Based on the older Ducati Pantah engine, the 851’s v-Desmo v-twin was designed by Massimo Bordi, who worked with the UK-based Cosworth to develop the original Desmoquattro mill. Depending on the version (Strada and the various SP versions…) and whether you measured power at the crank or the rear wheel, this 851cc engine made anywhere between 93 to 128 horsepower. Ducati claimed a top speed of over 280km/h for the top-spec 851SP, though we think 240-250km/h might be a more realistic number…


Launched in 1987, the 851 was the first 'modern' superbike from Ducati

The Ducati 851 was fitted with a six-speed gearbox, multi-plate dry clutch and steel-tube trellis-type chassis. Initially, the bike was fitted with a 16-inch front wheel but that was later changed to a 17-incher given the complaints about the machine’s handling. With its Marvic wheels, Brembo brakes and Marzocchi suspension (some of the later bikes were fitted with Showa suspension components), the 851 was well equipped for the street and the track...

Produced between 1987 and 1993, the Ducati 851/888 was ridden to numerous race wins by legendary riders like Marco Lucchinelli, Raymond Roche and Doug Polen. Ducati never stopped improving the bike, launching the 851 Sport Production (SP) in 1989 and the 851 SP2 in 1991, which actually had an 888cc engine. The 851 SP2 featured two injectors per cylinder, close-ratio gearbox, a Termignoni exhaust system, cast-iron brake disc (Brembo) and high-spec Ohlins suspension front and rear.


We hope you appreciate the effort that went into finding that picture...!
Ducati 851

There were also SP3, 4 and 5 versions, with various updates like higher compression, uprated clutches, forced air induction, less restrictive exhaust systems, stronger crankcases and uprated braking systems. The 851 was finally replaced by the Massimo Tamburini-designed 916 in 1994, which went on to prove itself as the true spiritual successor of the 851/888 Superbike.

Fast-forwarding the story to 2009, the 1198S is now the reigning heavy-hitter in the Ducati superbike line-up. After the 851/888, the Top Dog title at Ducati was held by various versions of the 916, 999 and the 1098, and this year it rests with the new-for-2009 1198S. With a dry weight of 169 kilos, and 170 horsepower at 9,750rpm and 131Nm of torque at 8,000 revs from its 1198cc ‘Testastretta Evoluzione’ L-twin, the 1198S offers truly remarkable performance – performance that’s equal to, or better than, anything on offer from Japanese machines with 1,000cc inline-four engines.

Like the 851, the 1198S still uses a steel-tube trellis frame, but in terms of sophistication and refinement, it’s a whole new world. In recent years, the focus has moved from sheer outright power to power that’s actually usable, and that’s where the 1198S’ electronics come in.

While the 851 had Weber electronic fuel-injection, the bike probably did not have much more in terms of electronics. On the 1198S, there are things the 851 wouldn’t have dreamt of. Things like Ducati Data Analyzer (DDA) and Ducati Traction Control (DTC), which come as standard equipment on the bike.

The 1198S’ DTC system is the most significant of recent superbike technologies. It monitors front and rear wheel speeds to detect rear wheelspin under acceleration, and electronically reduces engine power whenever needed, to restore traction. Yes indeed, it’s the first proper race-bred traction control system on a streetbike.



In terms of sheer, outright track-oriented performance, the 2009 Ducati 1198S is currently the best superbike in the world (though the 2009 Yamaha R1 should run it close...)

The 1198S also gets high-spec, fully adjustable Öhlins suspension (the standard 1198 gets Showa components), Marchesini forged aluminium wheels and various carbonfibre bits, which keep dry weight down to 171 kilos.

Unless you can afford a Desmosedici RR, the Ducati 1198S probably represents the ultimate in hard-core (but street-legal) sportsbike performance. Prices start at around US$16,500 for the standard 1198 and US$22,000 for the 1198S.

Back in the early-1990s, the 851 cost about US$15,600 (at today’s exchange rates), so prices for Ducati’s top-of-the-line bikes have remained at least reasonably consistent. Given the advances in technology, performance, of course, has moved on to a whole new level. But for those with memories of watching the likes of Roche, Falappa and Polen in action on their 851s and 888s, the original Ducati ‘Superbike’ remains evocative as ever…

Also see:
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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

KTM out first with KERS


KTM used KERS on Tommy Koyama's 125cc GP racer, during the 2008 Valencian GP

According to a report on Crash.net, Harald Bartol (who heads the KTM 125/250 GP racing team) has revealed that the Austrian company was the first to use a new, high-tech system on Tommy Koyama's racebike last year. This system – Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) – was fitted to Koyama's bike during the 125cc GP in Valencia last year.

KERS, a system that stores energy during braking and releases it under acceleration, is all set to make its debut in Formula 1 racing this year, but going by Bartol’s revelation, KTM have already beaten the F1 guys to the punch.

Koyama only managed to finish seventh in the 2008 Valencian 125cc GP and his top speed during the race was 219.6km/h, as compared with 226.3km/h for Stefan Bradl’s Aprilia, so it isn’t of course as if KERS is some magic formula for winning races. However, KTM are putting in more development work into this system and it may soon start providing a real competitive edge to KTM’s racing bikes.

Under hard braking, KERS charges some condensers/capacitors, which then release the energy during full-throttle application. For now, the system only provides an additional 3bhp, but could soon be providing more with additional development. We hope it soon starts providing an additional 10-15bhp, so KTM can fit KERS on the 2010 RC8 R…

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Tyre tech, electronics hurt overtaking in MotoGP, but development vital for streetbikes


"I want that seventh MotoGP world title...!!'

According to a report on Crash.net, Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi believes that the evolution of tyre technology is one reason why MotoGP racing in the 800cc age is not as exciting or spectacular as it was in the 990cc era.

According to Rossi, tyre technology has raised cornering speeds and reduced braking distances. ‘I think that this is mostly to do with the evolution of the tyres. Now we're very fast in the corners and so there is less time to try to overtake,’ says Rossi.

‘I think that there will be a better show because everyone will have the same tyre. During the last few laps of the race, the bike will move around a bit more and so you will have to go a little bit slower. This will probably produce closer battles. We hope so!’ says Rossi, speaking about how racing might be in the 2009 MotoGP season.

After tyres, the other thing which may be hurting MotoGP, according to Rossi, is the excessive use of electronics. ‘The huge evolution in electronics has levelled the performance of the riders and therefore this has also led to fewer battles,’ he says.

Rossi’s team manager, Davide Brivio agrees that electronics may have made the racing less spectacular, but he also says that electronics may be vital for the development of newer streetbikes ‘Valentino has ‘suffered’ as a result of the changes that have arisen since technology has progressed, more electronics are used and rider aids have been introduced. However, these aids are very useful for safety reasons and research, especially with regard to production bikes,’ says Brivio.

Valentino has expressed the desire to reduce the rider aids in order to allow the rider's talent and ability to be properly appreciated. This is justifiable from the rider's point of view. From a sporting and sentimental point of view also, I'd like to see less aids and the riders relying exclusively on their talent,’ says Brivio.

‘Thinking about our customers, however, who will ride the bikes on the street, research and aid development are the right things to do. It would be great to be able to find a compromise for the situation, but in any case I believe the races will still be very spectacular, more so than ever next year with many riders fighting for victory. Ultimately it is always the best that are leading,’ he concludes.

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Fiat Yamaha urge FIM to make MotoGP less expensive


Cost cutting, the new mantra for MotoGP...

Daniele Romagnoli and Davide Brivio, team managers at Fiat Yamaha, have urged the FIM to take decisive actions that would bring about a reduction in MotoGP costs.

According to Romagnoli, team manager for Jorge Lorenzo, the FIM should reduce winter testing and/or schedule testing to coincide with the last GP of the season, which would also reduce costs (since bikes and equipment would not have to be ferried from one country to another).

Romagnoli also suggests a drastic reduction in the rev limit for MotoGP engines, which would enhance their longevity. This, according to him, would be crucial in bringing down costs because the engine is the most expensive part of a MotoGP bike in terms of the cost of components as well as research and development costs.

Reducing the rev limit to 16,000rpm would, according to Romagnoli, allow manufacturers to use the same engine in two or perhaps even three races. It would also allow a reduction in manufacturing costs since it would be possible to make these engines with relatively less expensive materials.

The Fiat Yamaha managers recommend the usage of just one ECU per bike and a drastic reduction in the usage of complex, expensive sensors such as inertial platforms and GPS. They recommend going back to simpler, less expensive electronics – the kind that were being used five years ago. And finally, they suggest that steel (rather than carbon) brakes be used on MotoGP bikes, which would help cut costs further.

‘I don't think these changes would make the championship any less spectacular. As a matter of fact, it could lead to even have more surprises,’ says Romagnoli.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

BQR-Honda unveils the first Moto2 bike


Yes indeed, that's what Moto2 bikes will look like. Missing 250 two-strokes already?

Pics: Motociclismo

The Spanish Honda-BQR team has unveiled the very first Moto2 bike, which will make its debut this season in the Spanish Roadracing Championship (CEV) this year. The same bike – with, of course, some engine/chassis developments – will also go on to race in the Moto2 series in 2011, when 250cc two-strokes will make way for 600cc four-stroke machines.

BQR-Honda’s Moto2 bike uses a 599cc, DOHC, 16-valve, liquid-cooled inline-four sourced from Honda. Featuring Honda’s PGM-FI electronic fuel injection, this engine makes 140 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed gearbox. The double beam chassis is made of aluminium, the steering geometry is adjustable and suspension is Show – 43mm USD fork and monoshock, both fully adjustable.

The bike rides on 17-inch forged magnesium wheels, shod with 125/80 (front) and 190/55 (rear) Dunlop slicks. Twin 300mm brake discs with four-piston radial-mount callipers are used at front, and single 220mm disc with twin-piston calliper is fitted at the back wheel. Ready to race, the bike weighs 137kg.

Over the years, the two-stroke 250cc class has witnessed some great racing – fast, furious, all-out action that’s often spectacular to watch. We don’t really know if the Moto2 class will provide the same thrills. It probably won’t. However, with two-stroke engines having faded away into history, there really isn’t, perhaps, any point in manufacturers continuing to spend huge sums of money towards the development of these engines for racing. So, Moto2 it’s going to be and racing fans everywhere will just have to learn to live with that...

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Picture perfect: The BMW S1000RR


Model Ann Kathrin Ruhl, astride the BMW S1000RR



BMW have released new pics of its S1000RR superbike, with model Ann Kathrin Ruhl upping the glam quotient. While bikes like the BMW K1300R, K1300S and HP2 Sport do offer a fair bit of performance, the S1000RR – the machine which BMW will be racing in World Superbikes this year – is in a different league altogether.

With its aluminium beam frame, high-spec USD fork and monoshock (both ends fully adjustable), Brembo brakes, carbonfibre bodywork and high-revving 1,000cc inline-four that makes about 200bhp at the crank, the S1000RR is more in line with Japanese litre-class superbikes. That, and perhaps even more, because the S1000RR is likely to be equipped with advanced traction control, ABS, variable length air-intake tracts and positive valve actuation of some sort, the details of which have not been revealed yet by BMW.

When the road going version of the S1000RR goes on sale – probably towards the end of this year – the bike is expected to cost around US$15,000. If BMW can stick to that kind of pricing, the 1000RR should be a lot of bike for a relatively reasonable amount of money.

With all-new bikes like the Aprilia RSV4 and the 2009 Yamaha R1 and Suzuki GSX-R1000 to beat in World Superbikes this year, BMW riders Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus are going to face an uphill battle. Still, with BMW prepared to go all out on research and development, the S1000RR’s prospects don’t look too bad at all…

Monday, February 02, 2009

2009 Yamaha YZR M1 and Valentino Rossi unveiled...


2009 Yamaha YZR M1 and The Doctor. We're hoping this will be the most effective combo in the 2009 MotoGP season, making mincemeat out of Casey 'Loudmouth' Stoner...

Yamaha have just released pics and specs of the 2009 YZR M1 and the new, spruced-up-for-2009 Valentino Rossi. We’ll start with the M1, which still packs more than 200bhp from its inline-four and has a top speed in excess of 320km/h. The gearbox is a six-speed cassette-type unit, with quick-swappable ratios, while the chassis is an aluminium twin tube delta box jobbie, with multi-adjustable steering geometry, wheelbase and ride height.

The swingarm is made of aluminium, suspension is Ohlins (front and rear), adjustable for everything that can possibly be adjusted, and then some. The brakes are Brembo – twin 320mm carbon discs with four-piston callipers at front, single 220mm stainless steel disc with twin-piston calliper at the back.

The 2009 M1 weighs 148 kilos (in accordance with FIM regulations) and rides on 16.5-inch Marchesini wheels that are available in a variety of rim widths and which are shod with Bridgestone tyres – slick, intermediate, wet or hand-cut.

‘I had the chance to try the 2009 prototype briefly after Valencia, but more so in Jerez, when I was very fast. The bike seems better and I was faster than I was with the 2008 version. I'm very confident, and anyway we're only at the beginning of our work and now we must use these months before April to improve the 2009 M1 even more,’ says Valentino Rossi, speaking about the 2009 YZR M1. 'We're working a lot on the engine and we're trying to find a way to improve the acceleration a bit, and I think that this is the area in which we will be concentrating,' he adds.

Yamaha have also been working on engine management controls and fuel injection maps, with which they hope to improve acceleration significantly. The aim is to allow Rossi and Lorenzo to open the throttle earlier - and harder - while exiting corners. 'In 2008, when we won everything - the Constructors' title, the Riders' title, the Teams' title - it provoked great motivation and reaction from rival riders and factories, and they must have all started working to produce a bike capable of beating us. We'll do the same,' says Rossi's team manager, Davide Brivio.

Moving on from the M1 and coming to the 2009 Valentino Rossi, The Doctor is in fine fettle as ever. With six MotoGP world championships to his credit, Rossi is now the only man who’s ever won world championships in the two-stroke 500cc as well four-stroke 990cc and 800cc classes.

Now 30 years old, No.46 will be one of the top contenders for winning the 2009 MotoGP world championship. Of course, he doesn’t need the money anymore – he races because he loves it. Rossi earned an estimated US$34 million in 2007 and probably much more in 2008. This year, global recession or not, The Doctor could be raking in as much as US$45 million according to some estimates.

Do we think Rossi will kick Stoner’s arse all over the world again, this year? But of course. Go……!!!!!

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Face-off: Moto Morini Granpasso vs BMW R1200GS


Moto Morini Granpasso vs BMW R1200GS, Italian panache vs German engineering...

In terms of genuine all-around capability as well as that carefully cultivated ‘adventure’ image, the BMW R1200GS is pretty much at the top of its game. Not that it prevents other manufacturers from trying to wrest the big Beemer’s crown though. One of the latest challengers in the arena is the Moto Morini Granpasso. Moto Revue recently had the opportunity pit the two bikes against each, and here are some excerpts from what they had to say:

Starting off on the two bikes, the first thing that strikes you is the height of their saddles – 875mm for the Moto Morini, 850-870mm (adjustable) for the BMW. Both bikes need fairly tall riders, otherwise you have to stand on the tips of your toes to keep your balance when these bikes are at rest. It’s just as well, then, that Moto Morini plan to launch a new version of the Granpasso soon, which will come with an 830mm seat height…

The R1200GS is bigger and heavier than the Granpasso. The BMW is 935mm wide and weighs 244 kilos, while the Moto Morini is only 850mm wide and at 234kg, it is 10 kilos lighter. The Granpasso looks more elegant, like the KTM 990 Adventure, while the R1200GS is bigger and bulkier, like the Moto Guzzi Stelvio.

At 13,450 euros, the BMW is more expensive than the Moto Morini, which comes in at 12,990 euros. Both bikes are fairly high-tech and well equipped. The BMW is fitted with the Bavarian company’s Telelever (front) and Paralever (rear) suspension, with shaft drive. The Moto Morini comes with an adjustable Öhlins shock, hydroformed aluminium swingarm, tubular-steel chassis from Verlicchi, Excel wheels and Brembo brakes.

On the move, both bikes feel quite manageable. The BMW’s riding position is very good and all the controls are quite intuitive. The Moto Morini’s clutch is a bit stiffer and the gearbox isn’t quite as slick and accurate as the BMW’s. The BMW also inches ahead in terms of overall comfort and weather protection, with its big, padded saddle and adjustable windscreen scoring higher than the Moto Morini’s.


The Granpasso is sportier, the R1200GS is more versatile and comfortable...

The Moto Morini seems better suited to smooth tarmac, while the BMW is better at handling the rough stuff. The German bike is slower to respond to rider inputs – it doesn’t change direction very quickly, and can be a bit tricky to manage under hard braking, though things seem to improve a bit with the optional electronically adjustable suspension (ESA). But while the BMW is better off-road, the Moto Morini is better on the tarmac – it feels more responsive and is quicker and faster than the Beemer.

The Granpasso is more focused towards being sporty, while the BMW is more versatile and comfortable. The Moto Morini’s seat, which feels quite comfortable initially, starts feeling a bit too stiff after a while. Also, its adjustable windscreen isn’t as effective as the BMW’s – wind turbulence seems to be a constant problem at almost all speeds – and its brakes aren’t as powerful as those on the German bike. Finally, the Granpasso’s 6.2m turning radius, compared to the BMW’s 4.9m, is a big disadvantage for the Italian machine, especially in the city, on narrow roads and while making U-turns.

The wide open road is where the Moto Morini really belongs – that’s where its 1,187cc v-twin can really breathe. Designed by Franco Lambertini, the Italian engine sounds almost like an American V8 at times and quite encourages you to be generous with the throttle, rewarding you with satisfying bursts of power. Measured on our test bench, the Moto Morini engine produced 120.5bhp, a bit more than the BMW 1,170cc boxer-twin’s 112.5bhp.

In the real world, the Granpasso’s 8bhp advantage isn’t enough to give it a significant performance edge over the R1200GS. If anything, the German engine feels smoother at low revs, while the Italian engine feels more free-revving and delivers its punch in the higher reaches of its rev range. In the end, both engines deliver the goods though the way they do it feels quite different. Both bikes are quite competent – it’s just that they do things in their own unique way…

For the full article, visit the Moto Revue website here

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Blastolene go mad with supercharged V8 Hemi-powered trike


For those who've always wanted a supercharged, 500bhp trike...

Pics: Autoblog

If the ZZR1400-powered Campagna T-Rex isn’t mad enough for you, meet Blastolene’s latest creation – the Hemi-powered trike you see here. We don’t know how much power its supercharged Hemi V8 makes, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that figure is around 500bhp or more.

Apart from all that power, the Blastolene trike’s single-sided front swingarm looks interesting. Of course, how it rides and handles may not be very important because we doubt if too many people will actually be able to ride the thing. For starters, you may not be able to look at the road ahead because of that huge engine sitting right in front of you. And then, given its length, we don’t know how manageable this trike will be, in rush hour traffic.

Still, we suppose some collectors just might be mad – and rich – enough to want one for their garage…

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All-new dual-purpose Ducati for 2010?


A Ducati dual-purpose adventure bike? Er... well, yeah, why not...
Pic: InfoMotori

According to various European motorcycle magazines and websites, Ducati are working on an all-new dual-purpose bike for 2010. An ‘adventure-type’ bike, the new Ducati could be fitted with the 1098 engine and would be positioned in the BMW R1200GS space.

While the Multistrada and Hypermotard are definitely street-oriented, the 2010 Ducati dual-purpose adventure bike would be optimised for on and off-road use and could use a host of new technologies that would make it lighter, more powerful and more capable than similar machines from BMW, KTM, Moto Morini, Moto Guzzi and others.

Nobody knows what the new Ducati would ultimately look like, but most people expect the bike to use design elements from the 1198 and the Streetfighter, and would be fitted with a single-side rear swingarm. We’ll post more details on this bike as they become available, but don’t expect to see the actual production version of the bike before the EICMA show this year…

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The X Factor: 2009 Buell Lightning CityX XB9SX


The Buell Lightning CityX XB9SX. That's a lot of X...

Pics: Buell

The first thing about the Buell CityX XB9SX that strikes us is that… it has too many Xs in its name! The Honda CBR1100XX Super Blackbird settled for two, but the Buell goes one further with three. Someone at Buell is obsessed with X…

Anyway, the Buell Lightning CityX XB9SX is now available in a new, all-black paintjob, with blue and cherry-red being the other colour available for 2009. The engine is the same air-cooled, fuel-injected 948cc v-twin as before, that makes 80 horsepower at 7,500rpm and 79Nm of torque at 4,500 revs.

The usual Buell bits are all there – Intuitive Response Chassis (IRC) that’s made of aluminium, Zero Torsional Load (ZTL) braking system that comprises a single 375mm rotor mounted to the front wheel’s perimeter, with six-piston callipers, fully adjustable 43mm Showa USD fork and fully adjustable monoshock, underslung exhaust for mass centralisation, six-spoke 17-inch cast aluminium wheels shod with Pirelli Scorpion Sync tyres, and belt drive which, according to Buell, never needs replacing, maintenance or adjustments of any kind.

The CityX XB9SX weighs 177kg dry and with its upright seating position and wide, flat handlebars, the bike is ideal for street riding. At around US$8,900 this bike probably isn’t for those whose idea of ‘performance’ is a CBR600RR or a GSX-R750, but Buell fans should love it...

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