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!!