Saturday, March 07, 2009

Audi Shark Hovercraft: If only this were a trike...!

The Audi Shark is a hovercraft concept. Now, if only it had two wheels...
Pics: Wired

Okay, so it’s not a trike – it’s a hovercraft concept – but the Audi Shark is just so cool, we wish it had three wheels. Designed by 26-year-old Kazim Doku for a design competition co-sponsored by Audi and the Milan-based Domus Academy, the Shark is supposed to have a motorcycle-style riding position, flip-up glass cockpit, LED headlamps and… a truckload of sheer style. Maybe Doku should help Audi design a hot new trike…?

And speaking of Audis, here's a video of the Quattro S1 rally car racing against an ice speedway bike. Our kind of madness...!
Video: Motoblog

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Shootout: ZX-6R vs R6 vs CBR600RR vs GSX-R600 vs Daytona 675

Here's MCN's shoot-out between the Honda CBR600RR, Kawasaki ZX-6R, Yamaha YZF-R6, Suzuki GSX-R600 and Triumph Daytona 675. The Yamaha and the Suzuki are not so good for the street, they say. The Daytona, ZX-6R and CBR600 are much more evenly mtached, with the ZX-6R being a 'revelation' (it has the best brakes and the best front end), while the CBR is the easiest to ride fast. But the Daytona wins the test because...'s British! ;-)

2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 first ride

According to the guys at MCN, the 2009 GSX-R1000 is better than the 2008 and 2007 models, but is that going to be enough to take on the new R1 and Fireblade?

With about 170-180 horsepower at the rear wheel and 203kg kerb weight (170kg dry weight), the 2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000 K9 has to be an amazing bike. Then again, this is the year when Yamaha have fitted a MotoGP-inspired crossplane crank engine on the R1, Honda have fitted C-ABS on the Fireblade and Ducati have DTC traction control on the 1198S. So does the GSX-R still have what it takes to be the best in the litre-class/open class superbikes segment? Well, there's no way of knowing until someone actually tests the three bikes back to back, but we do suspect the GSX-R is not going to be able to come out on top.

Next year though, Suzuki should be back with a radically redesigned GSX-R1000, probably with ABS and traction control as standard equipment. So the K10 should be the one to watch out for...!

Some of our favourite GSX-Rs from recent years. More pics and details here and here

AIRPod: MDI unveils air-engined trike

Compressed air engines for two- and three-wheelers? Well, this is a start...

We had earlier written about Moteur Development International’s (MDI) air-powered engines here and we wondered if these would ever find use on a motorcycle. Well, it’s happened already – MDI have unveiled the AIRPod at the ongoing Geneva Motor Show and this zero-emissions three-wheeler is fitted with one of the company’s air engines!

Indeed, the MDI AIRPod – a 220kg three-wheeler that can seat two people – runs on compressed air. With the air engine making only about 5.5bhp, top speed is 45km/h, though the little trike has a range of 200km on one full tank of air. Also, the AIRPod's carbonfibre air tank can be topped up with compressed air in just 90 seconds. No petrol, no biofuel, no batteries, no electricity – the AIRPod’s engine runs on compressed air and nothing else.

As you would expect, this technology is not ready to hit the streets just yet, though MDI believes that that would be made easily possible with the co-operation of a major two-wheeler and/or four-wheeler manufacturer. Apart from engines that run only on compressed air, MDI have also developed an air-fuel hybrid system, which uses a combination of compressed air and regular petrol. Prototypes fitted with this hybrid system can travel up to 100km in air-only, zero emissions mode, and have an overall range of up to 900km.

Air engines do seem to be a bit of a pipe dream, though the guys at MDI strongly believe that their engines are more than just so much hot air. Ah, well, if we can have lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells powering tomorrow’s motorcycles, maybe the air engine also deserves a chance to blow off some steam after all…

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

MV Agusta F4 sidecar rig

A sidecar outfit on an MV Agusta F4?! Er... please, no!
Pics: R-Herbig, via Bloguidon

Don’t know much about this MV Agusta F4 but it sure looks… …interesting? It seems somebody crashed their F4, went through a mid-life crisis (or maybe just a yelling from the wife) and went on to build this. To be honest, the massive single-sided front swingarm looks quite cumbersome and with that front wheel – which seems to have been taken off a pickup truck – the bike will probably steer like a buffalo. But then the owner probably wishes to fit a sidecar rig to this bike, and most sidecarists (has that term been invented yet?) don’t seem to have a problem with such truck-like front ends.

Would we ride one of these things? Er… we’d rather take a regular F4 CC, thanks very much!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Messerschmitt KR200: The cabin scooter, from the streets of Tokyo!

The Messerschmitt KR200, caught in Tokyo. Cool!

One of our readers – Horacio – has sent us these pics from Japan, where you can see a Messerschmitt KR200 parked at the Kuramaebashi Dori and Chuo Dori crossing, in the Akihabara District in Tokyo. Yes, the Messerschmitt is really more of a three-wheeled car rather than a motorcycle-style trike, but okay, it’s just so very, very cool that we couldn’t resist posting these pics here…

The Messerschmitt KR200 was designed by an aircraft engineer – Fritz Fend – and around 40,000 units of this ‘bubble car’ were built between 1955 and 1964, in Germany. With two seats in tandem, the vehicle had motorcycle-like one-behind-the-other seating for two people. The engine was a Fitchel & Sachs, 191cc two-stroke single-cylinder unit, mated to a four-speed manual transmission. With about 10bhp, the KR200 had a top speed of 100km/h and at 30km/l, it was also quite fuel-efficient.

At 229 kilos, the Messerschmitt KR200 was actually lighter than, say, a BMW K1300GT, which weighs 255 kilos. The KR200’s manufacturers actually referred to it as a ‘Kabinenroller’ (scooter with a cabin), so maybe this was the 1950s equivalent of the BMW C1? In any case, with its removable soft-top and tandem seating for two, the KR200 was as close as anything could get to being a three-wheeled motorcycle. Today, a well-maintained KR200 could go for anywhere between US$15,000-25,000.

Here, we’ll also note that the Messerschmitt KR200 may soon have a spiritual successor – Gordon Murray’s T.25 city car may actually be very close to the old Messerschmitt in many ways! More about the T.25 here and here’s an interview with Murray himself.

This picture shows just how small the KR200 is!

ENV: The hydrogen motorcycle cometh?

The hydrogen fuel-cell-powered ENV has a claimed 80km/h top speed and 160km range. Is this the future of motorcycling? See what James May has to say about it...
Via: The New Cafe Racer Society

Right now, we don’t see hydrogen-powered motorcycles going anywhere much. Well, not for another decade at least. With no hydrogen infrastructure in place, lithium-ion battery-powered bikes – which can be charged at any normal household electricity outlet – seem to be the better bet for now. Still, hydrogen-powered concept bikes like the ENV are reasonably interesting – they provide a somewhat scary glimpse at the future of motorcycling.

Designed by Intelligent Energy, the ENV was first unveiled back in 2005 at the Design Museum in London. The bike is fitted with a removable hydrogen fuel-cell power pack which produces all of 1kW – that’s about 1.34 horsepower. Intelligent Energy claim a top speed of 80km/h for the ENV, though we don’t know how that would be possible with just 1.34bhp. The bike’s range, on one full tank of compressed hydrogen, is 160km/h.

Intelligent Energy claim they’re working on type approval for the ENV in Europe, after which they’ll sell/lease the bike to ‘carefully selected’ customers. If this is the future of motorcycling… we’d really much rather stay in the present!!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

MotoGP: The Kawasaki farce continues

Will Marco Melandri really ride a bike that was uncompetitive last year and which, without Kawasaki's involvement, has no chance of improving this year?!

In the ongoing Kawasaki-MotoGP debacle, the latest, according to MCN, is that one Kawasaki machine will participate in the 2009 MotoGP season. This lone Kawasai ZX-RR will, however, be re-branded ‘Hayate’ and will be run by Dorna, with Kawasaki themselves not playing any role in the entire thing.

Reports in the media claim that Marco Melandri will be racing this Dorna-Hayate machine, while Melandri himself says he will first test the machine (in Qatar, tomorrow) and see if it’s worth riding at all. Indeed, why Melandri should race a machine that was completely uncompetitive in 2008 and which hasn’t changed since then, is beyond us. And to top that, since Kawasaki will not be involved and there is apparently nobody else who’s equipped to handle development work for the bike, there’s zero chance of the ZX-RR improving at all!

The other thing of course is that nobody knows what’s happening with John Hopkins, who’s now left without a ride. In any case, this whole Kawasaki-MotoGP thing seems to be in shambles – it’s a shameful to way to bring things to an end. If Kawasaki had decided to leave MotoGP, a clean, clear exit would have been so much better than this protracted Dorna vs Kawasaki battle.

Kawasaki ZX-RR MotoGP

Friday, February 27, 2009

Toyoshi Nishida: “We wanted to make the new R1 exciting to ride…!”

Rossi's bike for the street? Yeah, well, the 2009 R1 is probably as close as most of us can get...

Is Toyoshi Nishida the next Tadao Baba? Baba, the man responsible for the first ‘wild child’ Honda CBR900RR FireBlade, became a cult figure who is even today idolised by fans of the original ’Blade.

When it was launched in 1992, the FireBlade was an absolute revelation – the world had not seen anything like it before. And, it seems, the 2009 Yamaha R1 is a similar step in superbike evolution. In one fell swoop, it has raised the bar and changed the game, making all other Japanese litre-class sportsbikes look dated. So much so that in the years to come, Toyoshi Nishida, the 2009 R1 project leader at Yamaha, just might be looked upon as the new Tadao Baba…

‘The crossplane crankshaft gives a very gentle torque feeling, a less aggressive character than the old R1. We wanted to make the bike exciting to ride, so we focused on providing good injection control and a very linear feel from the throttle,’ says Nishida. ‘This makes the bike very exciting to ride, and it’s very fast too. We tested with many riders of different levels and the new bike is always faster. Riders of all skill levels had the same comment – that the new model is very controllable,’ he adds.

But why didn’t Yamaha fit anti-lock brakes and/or traction control on the new R1? Isn’t that a serious oversight? ‘At this moment, I don’t think the most important thing is to help the rider who miscontrols [?!] the bike. The priority is to give the rider a linear feel, which is more enjoyable and also safer,’ says Nishida. ‘For the same reason we didn’t fit ABS, although we considered it. At this moment, the most important thing is to provide the rider with very precise control,’ he adds.

Finally, what about the MotoGP-style exhaust system that many were expecting to see on the 2009 R1? ‘We considered using a shorter exhaust system, like the one on the M1 and R6, instead of the high-level system. But we had many things to consider, including the length and straightness of the exhaust, which affect performance, and the new, lower, rear suspension linkage. There was not much space under the engine,’ concludes Nishida.

Indeed, it looks like Yamaha have done things right with the 2009 YZF-R1. ‘Before riding this bike, and with the brilliance of Ducati’s 1198S fresh in my mind, I thought Yamaha had missed a trick in updating the R1 so comprehensively without adding traction control,’ says noted bike journalist Roland Brown, who recently tested the new R1 at the Eastern Creek circuit. ‘Time to think again. The electronic aids will, inevitably, come soon. But in the meanwhile, this version of the R1 is not simply the best yet – it’s a significant step forward whose edge is gained via its rider’s brain and right wrist – surely the purest, most satisfying way possible,’ he adds.

Hmm… sounds good to us, though we don’t know if we’re convinced about Yamaha’s decision to leave ABS out of the equation. On the street, especially in tricky road/weather conditions, even the best riders can and do mess up, and ABS is an invaluable safety aid in such situations. Then again, that also leaves something to look forward to in 2010…

Toyoshi Nishida speaks about the 2009 Yamaha R1...

Ducati GT1000 riding impression

The right Ducati for those lazy Sunday morning rides...

All right, so we do think the Ducati 1198S is the most lust-worthy motorcycle (though the 2009 Yamaha R1 is not too far behind…!) in the whole world right now. But the GT1000 also looks charming in its own retro-classic way. For the times when you aren’t in the mood for full race leathers – for lazy Sunday morning rides when you’d rather just throw on an old leather jacket and wear a stylish open-face helmet – the GT1000 might just be perfect. Even the wife/girlfriend is likely to find the GT more comfortable than the 1198, so…

The guys at InfoMotori recently had the opportunity to test ride the Ducati GT1000, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the bike:

The Ducati GT1000 offers the best of two different worlds – elegant styling that harks back to a different era, combined with contemporary motorcycle technology, which makes it safe and reliable. Retro styling cues are everywhere – large, generous double seat, twin rear shocks, wire-spoke wheels, steel tube chassis and even the way the headlamp and taillamp look – everything looks like it’s from a different age.

And yet, even though you may not be able to spot them immediately, there are modern bits aplenty on the GT1000. For example, the 43mm USD Marzocchi fork, twin 320mm brake discs (front) and 245mm disc (rear) and the tyres, with their modern tread pattern.

The GT1000, which weighs 185kg dry, is fitted with Ducati’s 992cc air-and-oil cooled v-twin, which produces 92bhp at 8,000rpm and 91Nm of torque at 6,000rpm. Get on to the bike and it feels light and incredibly comfortable – just right for slicing through city traffic. And even at low revs, there’s always a hint of that special Ducati character, a glimpse of the bike’s ‘fighting spirit’ that’s just waiting to surface.

The GT1000 is, of course, all about looking good...

Up in the winding roads in the hills of Bologna, the GT1000 builds speed quickly and effortlessly. The Ducati engine, which is all aggressive at lower revs, seems to calm down as the speed builds up, while the handling remains spot-on. The bike corners with confidence and stability – the rider always feels completely in control and completely safe.

Now, while the GT1000 is happy being ridden fast, you may actually enjoy the bike more if you slow down a bit. It’s the type of bike on which you’d want to look around a bit, enjoy the scenery. This definitely isn’t about performance calibrated to the last hundredth of a second – it’s about style and turning on the charm…

The GT1000 has no storage space, but that’s a problem that the touring version – with its saddlebags and high windscreen – should take care of. At €10,300 (US$13,100), the GT1000 probably isn’t for everyone. But then stylish, sophisticated Italian motorcycle like this one can never be cheap.

For the full article, visit the InfoMotori website here

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Max Biaggi, Shinya Nakano on the Aprilia RSV4

Shinya Nakano and Max Biaggi, with the Aprilia RSV4 World Superbikes racebike

We think the Aprilia RSV4 is simply amazing. We love the way it looks and we’re sure it’ll go like blazes. This bike, we think, will rock the World Superbikes establishment on its haunches. On the Aprilia website, Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano – the two men who’ll be racing the RSV4 this year – have answered some questions about the bike’s handling and overall performance. Here are some excerpts from what the two have to say about the bike:

On its handling

Biaggi: ‘I am still working hard to find the perfect feeling but it is certainly more manageable [compared to the RSV1000] and very precise upon entering into curves. We are trying to do the most to optimize the handling in respect to the electronics and the engine. It does well coming out of curves – even if the movement is a bit skittish – and I am amazed at how it changes direction. I am also happy about its extreme reactivity.’

Nakano: ‘The RSV4 is really a ‘racing motorcycle’ and I immediately found a great feeling. It has an optimal limber that we worked on a lot during the first test since I think it is of utmost importance; I immediately achieved the sensation I had been seeking. It is still a bit skittish when coming out of curves although that doesn't depend on the mechanics but instead the power supply and engine mapping.’

On its ride-by-wire system

Biaggi: ‘Ride-by-wire was adopted from MotoGP and brought to Superbikes last year by Yamaha. It allows for a much improved management of the motorcycle and can be a great help to the rider since it is well calibrated to make the most of its potential.’

Nakano: ‘The functioning of this system didn't alter my riding style but instead gives more advantages. The most important thing is to find the right connection between the handle control and the rear wheel reaction. Finding the right setting can be tough but that wasn't the case with the RSV4; we've already established a great feeling.’

In a separate interview with Superbike Planet, Biaggi recently gave more insight into the RSV4’s behaviour. ‘It feels like more close on the way of Suzuki, for sure. Not even close to Ducati in the way the two cylinders go, the behavior. That bike is two cylinders less, it makes a big difference. It's pushing out of the corner in a different way compared to Ducati. But it's more close to Suzuki, which is an inline-four. So what I think is, it feels like, young. It feels like it's a young project,’ says Biaggi.

‘Our test in Portugal was not great but I am hopeful that we will come back strong for the Phillip Island test and race. I think the Aprilia Superbike project is very important to the factory and they are putting all of their strength behind it. It's good for me to be back with Aprilia and be back where it really began with me in racing. Would it not be a good story if after all these years we were again successful together,’ says Max. Yes, we’re sure it’ll be one hell of a good story. Here’s wishing you all the best – hope you, Nakano and Aprilia go on to rock the WSBK scene this year!

BMW F800R to hit showrooms by May this year

The BMW F800R is coming out in May...

The BMW F800R, the first official pics of which were released back in November last year, is due to go on sale by May this year, according to a report on Solo Moto. The bike is fitted with BMW's 798cc parallel twin, which makes 87 horsepower at 8,000rpm and 86Nm of torque at 6,000 revs. The bike weighs 204 kilos wet and will be available with ABS. Prices to be announced soon...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2009 BRP Can-Am Spyder SE5

The 2009 Can-Am Spyder SE5. Looks quite cool, though we wish it had a bit more power...

We quite like powerful, high-performance trikes here at Faster and Faster, and while the Campagna T-Rex, Carver One and Piaggio MP3/Gilera Fuoco remain our absolute favourite three-wheelers, the Can-Am Spyder is not too far off either.

For 2009, BRP are doing a new variant of the Can-Am Spyder – the SE5 – which features a sequential push-button semi-automatic transmission. Most other things remain the same – the Spyder SE5 is still fitted with Rotax’s eight-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 998cc v-twin that makes 106bhp at 8,500rpm and 104Nm of torque at 6,250rpm.

Final drive is via a carbon-reinforced belt, so there are none of the maintenance-related hassles associated with chain-drive. The SE5 uses a double A-arm with anti-roll bar setup at the front and swingarm/monoshock at the rear.

The Spyder rides on 14-inch front wheels, while the rear wheel is a 15-incher. Tyre sizes are 165/65 at the front and 225/50 at the back. The foot actuated brakes comprise of 260mm discs on all three wheels, with four-piston callipers at front and single-piston calliper at the rear. There are bits like electronic brake force distribution (EBD), anti-lock brakes (ABS), traction control system (TCS) and vehicle stability system (VSS), which we’re sure boost the Spyder SE5’s safety factor.

The SE5 weighs 317kg dry, is priced at US$17,000 and comes with a two-year warranty. If we had the money, would we buy one? Umm… probably not. If we were getting a three-wheeler, we’d really have something a bit funkier, something like the Carver One or the Campagna T-Rex. However, with a bit more power – perhaps another 80-100bhp or so – the Spyder SE5 may not be such a bad deal after all…!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Aprilia RSV1000: The heat is on!

Cindy Iglesias provides a whole new perspective on the Aprilia RSV1000. Go ahead, drool. And if you want more hot Aprilias, there's some below that you may like...
Via Motoblog

Pics: Flickr

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