Saturday, March 21, 2009

A3W Motiv: Julien Rondino’s three-wheeled concept bike

We had earlier written about Nick Dagostino’s three-wheeled Hayabusa (which is not a regular trike…) here, and now here’s French designer Julien Rondino’s three-wheeled motorcycle concept – the A3W Motiv.

We’ve written to Julien, asking him for more details on the bike. But for now, what we know is that the bike has been designed around KTM’s 999cc LC8 v-twin. The chassis seems to be a mix of cast aluminium and steel tube sections and the bike is packed with interesting bits – hub-centre steering, adjustable ergonomics and Buell-style perimeter brakes.

Here's a computer-generated video of the bike in action. Looks very cool...!

Friday, March 20, 2009

2WD on sportsbikes: Is there more to come?

From left: The 2WD Yamaha R1 test bike from a few years ago, and Lars Jansson, the man who was in charge of 2WD development work at Öhlins
Pics: RoadRacerX

Mark Gardiner, who writes a column called ‘Backmarker’ for RoadRacerX (and whose book, Riding Man, we had reviewed here), has written a very interesting piece on the use of 2WD on motorcycles. As many people might already know, Yamaha and Öhlins started working on the 2-Trac hydraulic 2WD system for bikes in the late-1990s, trying the 2WD thing on various off-road bikes, including the WR450. According to Gardiner, as many as 400 units of the 2WD Yamaha WR450 were even sold to customers by Yamaha France.

Yamaha later decided to abandon the 2WD program while Öhlins, who were at one point supposed to provide the 2WD technology to KTM (but never did...), also admit that the project is now dead. According to various reports, 2WD proved reasonably useful for the not-so-skilled riders, but did not provide a significant advantage in the case of skilled riders.

However, what’s really interesting is that Gardiner got to speak to Lars Jansson, the man who was in charge of research and development work on Yamaha’s 2WD YZF-R1 prototype, which was apparently being tested about 6-7 years ago. On the test R1, depending on grip and throttle position, the Öhlins 2-Trac system transferred up to 15% of the power to the front wheel. According to a statement released by Öhlins at that time was that the 2-Trac R1 was about five seconds faster [than a stock R1] around the Karlskroga test circuit in the wet.

According to what Jansson has now told Gardiner, there were issues with the 2WD system’s extra weight, power losses in the hydraulics and with high-speed manoeuvrability, with the bike not being too keen to change direction as quickly as a stock R1. Adding torque to the front wheel changed the bike’s behaviour dramatically, which expert riders couldn’t come to grips with right away.

Still, Jansson is convinced that had it been developed further, 2WD would have been a big safety feature for streetbikes. Of course, the whole idea of having 2WD on bikes not dead – we’d written about Christini’s mechanical (rather than hydraulic) AWD system here, and Gardiner says Steve Christini is already speaking to some bike manufacturers about developing AWD for streetbikes.

Gardiner, who’s writing a detailed article on 2WD on motorcycles for a magazine, says he can’t spill all the details right now, but he might in the near future. So the idea of using 2WD on sportsbikes/superbikes may not be dead after all! Stay tuned for more dope on this one…

Update: MCN speaks to Lars Jansson. See here

Hub-centre steering on custom-built classic cafe-racer

Can’t really figure out what bike this is, but it sure looks damn cool. Hub-centre steering on a classic custom! The photograph is from the West Japan Motorcycle Show, held in Hiroshima, Japan. See more pics from this Motorcycle Show on Flickr here
Via Speed Junkies

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More pics: 2009 Moto Guzzi V7 Café Classic, Griso 8V, Nevada 750

The 2009 Moto Guzzi V7 Café Classic. Back to the 1970s again...

Pics: Motoblog

Moto Guzzi have released more pics of the 2009-spec V7 Café Classic, Griso 8V and Nevada 750. They don’t look much different from the 2008 models, but, then… these bikes could just as well be from the 1960s, 70s or 80s…

We won’t get into the poetic PR-speak issued by Moto Guzzi, but here’s a quick look at the tech specs of each bike. The V7 Café Classic is fitted with Guzzi’s 744cc transverse v-twin that makes 49 horsepower and 55Nm of torque. The gearbox is a five-speed unit, the chassis is double-cradle tubular steel, the bike rides on 18-inch (front) and 17-inch (rear) wheels and dry weight is 182 kilos. Brakes are Brembo items – single 320mm disc at front, with four-piston callipers, and 260mm disc at the back, with single-piston calliper.

Of all the bikes Guzzi make today, this - the Griso 8V - is the one to have!

Next up is the Moto Guzzi Griso 8V Special Edition, which is powered by an air-cooled 8-valve 1,150cc transverse v-twin that makes 110bhp at 7,500rpm and 108Nm of torque at 6,400rpm. The engine is mated to a six-speed gearbox and top speed is around 230km/h. The front fork is a 43mm USD number, while the adjustable rear shock is from Boge. Brakes are Bembo – twin 320mm discs at front, with radial-mount four-piston callipers. The bike rides on 17-inch wheels, shod with Pirelli Scorpion tyres, and dry weight is 222kg. With its blend of café-racer styling, powerful engine and high-spec suspension, this, in our opinion, is definitely the pick of the current Guzzi crop…

The 2009 Moto Guzzi Nevada 750. Yucky...!

And finally, the worst motorcycle that Guzzi make – the Nevada 750. It looks like a Japanese-made Harley-clone from the 1980s and we can’t imagine who would want such a machine. The bike is powered by the same 744cc engine that does duty on the V7, but rides on 18-inch (front) and 16-inch (rear) wheels. The gearbox is a five-speed unit, the bike weighs 182kg dry and as for the rest, really, who cares!

The coolest Guzzi ever? For us, it has to be this 850 Le Mans III from the 1980s. How can a company that made something that looks like this, also make the crappy looking Nevada 750...?!?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Qianjiang Motor to invest another 20 million euros in Benelli

According to a report on Motociclismo, Qianjiang Motor – the Chinese company that acquired Benelli in 2005 – is looking at investing up to 20 million euros towards developing new Benelli motorcycles. Haimei Yan, the man who heads Qianjiang, says that while Benelli is not profitable yet, they’re not giving up anytime soon. ‘We are here to stay and we believe in the project. We have creativity and the ability to design new motorcycles,’ says Yan.

The new Benelli motorcycles that are expected to be launched by the end of this year include the Due 756, which will be powered by a 90bhp, 756cc parallel twin, and a 600cc supersports machine fitted with an all-new 600cc inline-four, for which the target output is said to be 130bhp at 15,500rpm. With its new bikes and tighter focus on quality control, Benelli will be profitable in a few years time, says Yan.

The biggest obstacle, according to Yan, is the way business is conducted in Italy. ‘Rampant Italian bureaucracy, the convoluted system of granting various permits and chaotic business processes hamper Benelli’s growth and development,’ he says.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

EV-0 RR: Sexing-up the battery-powered racebike

Can electric motors be made to look as sexy as the good old IC engine...?

Why don’t most of us get all fired up about electric bikes? Umm... probably because almost all battery-powered electric bike contraptions looks a bit… dweeb-ish. Unlike blenders, mixers, washing machines or other similar appliances, motorcycles have to be about more than just the utility factor – they also have to get the blood racing in our veins, they have to make our hearts beat faster.

Right now, electric bikes need to be sexed-up a bit and that’s exactly what the UK-based Xenophya are trying to do with the EV-0 RR, which they’ve designed for Evo Design Solutions Ltd. The bike will be raced at the first Time Trials Xtreme Grand Prix (TTXGP) at the Isle of Man, on the 12th of June this year. (More details here)

According to Mark Wells, Senior Partner at Xenophya Design, their brief was to create evocative and exciting images which would get sponsors to buy into the concept. ‘The images represent how the race bike might look, although it is still in development and as with all race bikes it will evolve considerably during the design process, but based on the positive feedback so far I think we have managed to fulfil our brief,’ he says.

‘We really feel the trick with zero emissions vehicles, at this stage in their development, is to give motorcyclists (and petrolheads in general) what they know, and more importantly, love. This is why the illustrations we have made for the EV-0RR are very ‘MotoGP’ in proportion and stance. Everything from the General Motors EV1 in the 90s, to the Prius and the Seymour Powell ENV Hydro bike and even the Mission One TTXGP entry, are so desperately trying to communicate their innovation and ‘electricness’ through semantics,’ says Mark.

‘I don’t look at a bike and get turned on or off by the measurement of g/km of carbon dioxide are emitted, I really don’t care. I love two-strokes for the way they only deliver power in a small powerband. Equally I love big inline-fours because of the ‘point and squirt, world goes backwards’ experience. I get excited by bikes; that’s my passion, so give me a bike. If that bike has a torque curve like a table top (as an electric motor will) then I’m interested in it irrelevant of whether it runs on fresh air or by burning endangered tree frogs from the Amazon…,’ he adds.

The EV-0 RR features a monocoque chassis, single-sided front and rear suspension and twin electric motors. We do think the bike looks good and it could actually be quite fast as well. Will it find a place next to the Ducati 1198S, Desmosedici RR, MV Agusta F4 CC and 2009 Yamaha R1 in our dream garage? Er… to be honest, no. What in the world would we ever do without all that noise that comes out from those Yoshimura, Akrapovic and Racefit cans…

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...



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