Saturday, March 14, 2009

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R riding impression

With a ram-air-assisted 134bhp, the 2009 ZX-6R is not one for pottering around...

With their radically redesigned 2009 ZX-6R Ninja, Kawasaki are shooting for the top spot in the 600cc supersports segment this year. Moto Caradisiac recently had the opportunity to test ride the bike and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the green meanie:

This time around, Kawasaki seem to be truly serious about hunting down the R6, CBR 600RR, GSX-R600 and even the Daytona 675. The 2009 ZX-6R is indeed an all-new bike – it shares nothing with its predecessor. And to begin with, the new bike looks really good – a perfect mix of aggression and sobriety.

The engine sounds relatively subdued when you start the bike, though the sound is still pleasant. And the riding position and ergonomics feel just right – you immediately feel comfortable on this bike.

On the move, the new engine is docile and smooth at low revs – if you insist, it will even putter along at 2,000rpm, in sixth gear, at 30km/h. But, of course, that’s not what the ZX-6R is meant to do. The bike really comes alive between 8,000-16,000rpm and in that rev range, a handful of throttle instantly translates into hard acceleration and insane speeds. With ram-air, the ZX-6R’s 599cc inline-four makes 134 horsepower at 14,100rpm and, yes, the bike feels very responsive – the throttle twist-grip seems to be directly connected to the rear wheel. And it averages about 17.5km per litre of petrol, which is not too bad.

The new, fully-adjustable big-piston fork (BPF) from Showa is quite a revelation – the Kawasaki’s nose is always absolutely glued to the tarmac and the ride quality is not bad either. And the Nissin bakes, with radial mount callipers at the front, are very powerful – just two fingers on the brake lever are quite enough to bring the bike to a super-quick halt – but you’d better be careful while braking hard in wet weather conditions and/or during an emergency.

The good:
Poise, steering accuracy
Powerful brakes
Riding position
High speed handling
Engine performance

The not-so-good:
Styling too similar to the ZX-10R
Readability of the instruments
Wind protection provided by the fairing is inadequate

For the full article, visit the Moto Caradisiac website here

2009 Kawasaki ZX-6R: Tech Specs

Engine: 599cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 16-valve, DOHC, inline-four
Power: 108bhp@14,100rpm (134bhp with ram-air)
Torque: 60Nm@11,000rpm
Gearbox: Six-speed
Chassis: Perimeter-style, stamped aluminium
Suspension: 41mm USD fork, Uni-Trak monoshock, both ends fully adjustable
Brakes: Twin 300mm petal-type discs (front) with four-piston radial-mount callipers, single 220mm disc (rear) with single piston calliper
Wheels and Tyres: 17-inch alloy wheels, Bridgestone BT016, 120/70ZR17 (front), 180/55ZR17 (rear)
Dry / Wet weight: 167kg / 191kg
Price in Europe: 10,999 euros
Price in the US: About $10,000

Jorge Lorenzo speaks about the 2009 Yamaha YZF-R1

So, is the R1 really anything like the M1? Here's what Jorge Lorenzo has to say about the bike...

Yamaha claim the 2009 R1 features technology ‘inspired’ by the MotoGP M1, so someone like Jorge Lorenzo should be able to offer some real insight into whether the R1 really behaves like a street-going version of the M1. Solo Moto got Lorenzo to ride the new R1 and here are some excerpts from what the Spanish star has to say about the bike:

‘I am not accustomed to these types of tyres on a bike with so much power and I normally do not ride this type of bike. But with regard to streetbikes – and I have ridden the last three or four years’ R1s – the bike has improved dramatically at all levels.’

‘I love the way it sounds, though it’s a little misleading. The R1 engine sounds fairly muted when the bike is idling but when you open the throttle, it really is very powerful. And I like the riding position – it’s comfortable – and the seat is quite generous.

‘The one thing that surprised me most is that the bike doesn’t want to pull wheelies all the time, which was the case with previous R1s. With this new bike, you can accelerate hard with greater confidence, without the front wheel lifting skywards all the time – a definite plus on the road.’

‘I was also surprised by the steering damper, which is much softer than the one mounted on the M1 – I guess that’s because the R1 needs to be much more maneuverable around town. I quite like the brakes though – especially at the front – they are progressive and easy to modulate.’

‘Overall, the new R1 is a very sweet bike. However, it’s really powerful, so on the track it needs better tyres to make full use of its potential.’

Friday, March 13, 2009

Just how fast are those WSBK bikes?

For now, at just 300km/h, the BMW S1000RR is the slowest of the lot...!

From left: Max Neukirchner (GSX-R1000), Max Biaggi (RSV4) and Noriyuki Haga (1098 F09)

From left: Tommy Hill (CBR1000RR), Makoto Tamada (ZX-10R) and Ben Spies (YZF-R1)

Ever wonder just how fast those World Superbikes machines really are? During practice yesterday, at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar, Max Neukirchner’s Suzuki GSX-R1000 hit a top speed of 314km/h, Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 did 313km/h, Noriyuki Haga’s Ducati 1098R F09 did 311km/h, Tommy Hill’s Honda CBR1000RR did 310km/h, Makoto Tamada’s Kawasaki ZX-10R also did 310km/h and Ben Spies Yamaha YZF-R1 did 309km/h. Troy Corser’s BMW S1000RR was way down the charts, at just 300km/h. But then, of course, the season has just begun…

Husqvarna gets new manufacturing, R&D facility in Italy

Under BMW ownership, Husqvarna can look forward to bigger, better things in the near future...

According to a report on Dealer News, Husqvarna (which BMW bought from Claudio Castiglioni, back in 2007) will be shifting to its new headquarters in Italy, by May this year. BMW, which wants to bring various Husqvarna units – including engine, testing, development, styling and racing divisions – under one roof, is adding to Husqvarna’s existing facility at Cassinetta di Biandronno, in the Varese district of Italy.

BMW hope to sort out Husqvarna’s problems with quality control and spare parts supplies in the near future. While Husqvarna only sold 12,000 bikes in 2007, BMW hopes to increase sales in a big way over the next 2-3 years. In fact, the new manufacturing facility will have the capacity to produce up to 40,000 Husqvarna motorcycles every year.

BMW intend to keep Husqvarna as an off-road specialist brand and use R&D inputs from the company to improve/develop its own dual-purpose and off-road machines.

Eight Sleight: Standbike V8 concept

A 690-kilo motorcycle, powered by V8 from GM. And yes, you can paint it green if want to...

For those who just won’t ride a twin, triple, inline-four/V4 or inline-six/V6, Standbike are working on a V8-powered motorcycle. And they have, apparently, already built a fully functional, ready-to-ride prototype that’s fitted with a 305 cubic-inch (5,000cc) V8 from General Motors.

According to the company’s website, the Standbike V8 concept bike took eight years to develop and uses various unique technical solutions that allow the V8’s power and torque to be suitably harnessed for extreme traction.

The bike’s steering, clutch and lean-control systems are managed by high-tech hydraulics and electronics – probably necessary with a bike that weighs 690 kilos and which has a 2615mm wheelbase, total lenth being 3210mm. The gearbox is a four-speed unit, with one extra gear for reversing the bike, and single-sided suspension is used at both ends.

The Standbike V8 concept actually rides on four 16-inch wheels – two each at the front and back – shod with 205/45 rubber. Cornering? Er…, no, we don’t think so, though straight line stability at 300km/h should be just brilliant…

More details on the Standbike website here

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Red Alert: Ducati 1098R vs Desmosedici RR

Ducati 1098R vs Desmosedici RR...? Ooohhhh... yes, yes, YES!

They are two red-hot, wild Italians, dripping utter gorgeousness. They taunt you with their ‘you can look but you can’t touch’ attitudes. And for most people, getting to ride either of them will remain a wet dream, a distant, always-unfulfilled fantasy…

Yes indeed, we’re talking about the US$34,000 Ducati 1098R and the US$72,000 Desmosedici RR. The 1098R is a 172bhp (at the rear wheel!), WSBK-worthy motorcycle for the street, while the Desmosedici RR is a street-legal 200bhp MotoGP replica. For people with deep enough pockets, these two bikes were the hot ticket to fulfilling ‘I am Troy Bayliss’ and/or ‘I am Loris Capirossi’ fantasies…

Here at Faster and Faster, we’ll admit we absolutely love both these bikes. We’ll probably never be able to buy either one, but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming about the 1098R and the Desmosedici RR. And, of course, there are people who actually own at least one of these machines and who’ve ridden both. Back to back. On a race track. We found one such person on the Ducati Superbikes forum. He goes by the moniker ‘Dames,’ owns a Desmosedici RR and he’s written about his experiences, comparing his RR with a 1098R (which, it seems, he also owns, though that isn't very clear...). Here are some excerpts from what he says about the two bikes:

US$72,000 for the Desmosedici RR, $34,000 for the 1098R. The performance is priceless...

Power delivery
The 1098R was powerful, like I had imagined it would be. It took me a while to learn to hold on before really pinning it. The Desmosedici was much smoother, however. And I was able to achieve higher speeds on the straights with the Desmo – about 190km/h with the R and 200km/h with the RR.

For me, the power delivery duration on the Desmo was smoother and longer, while the 1098R was more brutal and hit the rev-limiter much quicker. I believe the Desmo was red-lining at around 13-14,000rpm and the 1098R at around 10,000 revs.

Riding position
The Desmo felt taller than the R and its suspension felt harder out of the box. However, I would say that the difference between the two bikes is minimal and really not an issue.

Both bikes felt extremely nimble, very easy to throw these into turns... very un-Ducati-esque! With a full tank of gas, the R was a little harder than when it was empty, but the Desmo was a lot harder to turn with a full tank. We weighed both bikes with full fuel tanks and at 193kg the Desmo turned out to be about 10 kilos heavier than the R – a bit surprising...

Best lap time
This one is hard to rate, coming from me. I imagine an expert racer would kill the R on the Desmo. However, perhaps a combination of fear of how long Desmo parts would take to arrive and how much they would cost kept me a little heavier handed on the R.

On average, I was about 2-3 seconds a lap slower on the Desmo. Also, the gearing difference was not what I was used to. I came from a 998 with a 1036 big bore kit, so the R was more of the same. The Desmo belongs to a different family – I have to learn to ride it.

I know the Desmo has a slipper clutch but it’s not the smoothest to tell you the truth. The R’s slipper clutch was more familiar to me and dropping two gears on it was just fine. On the desmo, when I dropped two gears it made horrible sounds – like a rock inside the gearbox – not good...

The noise
Ha ha... this has nothing to do with performance, but the Desmo is sooo much louder than the R. You know exactly when you’ve f***ed up and by how much, on the Desmo. I loved the sound, even on slow laps. It was just so much fun to be able to make that sound with my wrist!

I may not be fast, but I know slow, and I know how to be slow. Disappointingly, both these bikes have good brakes. Not awesome, not super, not stupendous, but good to very good brakes. The radial master cylinder on both bikes is the same (slightly different colours) and neither has the top-of-the-line radial master cylinder offered by Brembo.

Monobloc, machined, whatever, the stock brakes on these bikes are only rated ‘good’ in my book.

They both rock. Although i don’t know how to ride the Desmo properly yet, I’m sure in time it will be like a different creature at speed compared to the R. I can tell I'm not tapping either bike's potential. I feel like I have used about 30% of their capacities (not including the brakes). Again, if you can or even if you can’t, get both!

  Here's an MCN shootout between the 1098R and the Desmo RR
  And if you aren't seeing red already, here's some more Ducati awesomeness...

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Ready to race: Ducati 1098R vs BSB-spec Ducati 1098RS

US$34,000 for the Ducati 1098R, $126,000 for the BSB-spec 1098RS...!

Sometimes, we wonder just how expensive it is for people to race motorcycles. What about the man who’s spent about US$34,000 on a Ducati 1098R – can he go racing in, say, British Superbikes? The 1098R is fitted with a 1,198cc L-twin that makes a genuine 172 horsepower at the rear wheel and 128Nm of torque. The bike weighs 165 kilos, comes with top-spec suspension (43mm Ohlins fork, Ohlins TTX R rear shock), has the very advanced DTC traction control system and does a measured top speed of 293km/h. How much work could such a bike possibly need for it to be competitive in a national-level roadracing championship?

For starters, the 2008 BSB-spec Ducati 1098RS factory superbike cost US$126,000 and Ducati had to first approve your application before they’d let you buy one. In terms of the engine and engine performance, the 1098RS in a different world compared to the 1098R. With its flowed heads, performance cams, race exhaust and pressurised cooling system, power output on the RS goes up to 200bhp and beyond. However, the engine requires a full rebuild after just 740km and you can just rebuild it once, because it needs to be thrown away after 1,500km. Yes, that’s right, engine life is only 1,500km and a new engine costs US$22,500…!

The 1098RS’ Magneti Marelli engine management system is also considerably more advanced than the 1098R’s system. The racebike’s ECU has up to six fuel-injection maps for dry weather conditions and three for when it’s raining. Each of these nine maps offers a different power/torque curve, which also affects the engine’s fuel efficiency. Riders can switch between available settings on the fly, during a race. And, yes, the traction control system can be switched off for wheelies and/or burnouts after you’ve won a race…

Every time a 1098RS goes out on the track – even if it’s only to practice or qualify – it costs the team at least US$15,000. And that’s if you don’t crash the thing. Crashes can be expensive – about US$6,000 for the front fork, $5,000 for the rear shock, $4,500 for the exhaust, $1,750 for each Marchesini wheel and $2,500 for the carbonfibre bodywork. So best not to bin it then, eh?

Of course, we don’t suppose too many people really need a $125,000 bike to have a bit of fun. We’d be happy with the $22,000 Ducati 1198S. No, actually forget the S version, we’d be very, very happy even with the standard 1198, which only costs $16,500…

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!



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