Tuesday, April 07, 2009

GM-Segway PUMA: It’s that urban mobility thing again…

The GM-Segway PUMA project. Revolutionising urban mobility...

Pics: AutoblogGreen

Okay, so it looks more like a high-tech motorised wheelchair rather than a motorcycle, but it does have two wheels and it can seat two people, so maybe the PUMA has a place on Faster and Faster after all? PUMA – Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility – is a joint project taken up by General Motors and Segway and the aim is to build a vehicle that will change the way we move around in cities. Of course, we’ve all heard that one before…

Anyway, the PUMA is a working concept that was showcased in New York city today. It’s powered by lithium-ion batteries, is self-balancing and features by-wire tech for acceleration, steering and braking. The PUMA is also fitted with vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology, is Web-enabled and if you’re feeling particularly lazy, the thing will even drive and park itself.

‘We are excited to be working together to demonstrate a dramatically different approach to urban mobility,’ says Jim Norrod, CEO of Segway Inc. ‘The Project PUMA prototype vehicle embodies this through the combination of advanced technologies that Segway and GM bring to the table to complete the connection between the rider, environment, and others,’ he adds.

The GM-Segway PUMA can travel up to 56km on a single charge, will do a top speed of about 56km/h and can carry two people. Of course, it’s still a concept (albeit one that works…) and production reality may be far off yet. Still, this does seem to be the sort of thing we’ll all be riding around in, ten years from now…

The GM-Segway PUMA in action...

Monday, April 06, 2009

Jawa celebrates 80th Anniversary, announces 650 Dakar

The new Jawa 650 Dakar will be available in regular and touring versions...

Pics: MotoFlash

Belying the various obituaries that are written about the company every year, Jawa continue to soldier on. And on. And on… In fact, Jawa, set up by František Janeček in Czechoslovakia, in 1929, is actually celebrating its 80th Anniversary this year. We aren’t completely clear about how the company’s business is structured these days, but according to the information available on the Jawa website, Jawa Moto spol. s r.o., headquartered in the Czech Republic, is still making Jawa motorcycles, dune-buggies and even a tiny diesel-powered car!

Now, while Jawa products aren’t exactly cutting-edge, the company is trying to launch better, more contemporary products. The latest bike to be announced by the Czech manufacturer is the 650 Dakar, which will be fitted with a single-cylinder liquid-cooled 652cc four-stroke engine – the same unit that’s also fitted to the Yamaha XT660. Manufactured by Motori Minarelli (a part of the Yamaha Motor Group), this rather basic, simple engine produces 47 horsepower at 6,500rpm and 57Nm of torque at 5,000rpm.

Apart from the Italian-made engine, the Jawa 650 Dakar is also fitted with various other Italian bits – Paioli forks, Grimeca brakes and other components from Verlicchi and Bitubo. The bike, which weighs about 190kg dry, will be available in regular and touring versions, with the latter being fitted with a bigger windshield and a set of three luggage cases. The launch date has not been announced though it seems the 650 Dakar will be available from 2010 onwards. More details on the Jawa website here

An all-new Jawa cruiser-style machine (above), powered by a 300cc four-stroke single-cylinder engine, for the Argentinian market. And (below) the old Jawa 350, which is fitted with an air-cooled two-stroke parallel twin. Yes, Jawa are still making two-strokes, though these are not for sale in the EU

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sylvain Guintoli buys a Lamborghini Gallardo

Guintoli, who was with Ducati in MotoGP last year, is now driving around in a Gallardo...
Pics: Superbike

Ex-MotoGP racer, Sylvain Guintoli, who’s with Crescent Suzuki in BSB this year, has bought a Lamborghini Gallardo for himself. ‘I got a good deal. It's really fast and so enjoyable to drive. My wife thinks so too, and I'm starting to run out of excuses why I can't let her drive it,’ says Guintoli. Hmm… damn cool, we must say. Sure, we love bikes more than anything else, but having a Lamborghini Gallardo parked next to your Ducati 1198S (or, probably, a GSX-R1000 for Guintoli!) can’t be such a bad thing…

Here's a Fifth Gear video where a Ducati 1098 goes up against a Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera. And here's one good reason why Lamborghini should stick to making cars...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pimp my ride: AC Schnitzer K1300R

The AC Schnitzer K1300R. Not too bad, though we wouldn't take that shade of green...

Pics: AC Schnitzer, via MotoFlash

The guys at AC Schnitzer are at it again and this time they’ve got their hands on the BMW K1300R. ‘A real racing look and flowing transitions are achieved on the AC Schnitzer K1300R by the cockpit and lamp trim, the front spoiler and the pillion cover. In their design, priority was given to perfect fit and simple installation while retaining the powerful styling lines. The engine spoiler is totally new and guarantees adequate ground clearance for every setting of the ESA suspension,’ says the Schnitzer website.

AC Schnitzer have added their own forged alloy wheels, titanium (steel is optional) exhaust system, belly pan, cockpit and headlamp trim, handlebar and pillion seat cover to the K1300R (some of these bits are also available for the K1300S), and they claim their bike looks, sounds and runs better than the stock 1300R. Hmm… if it were our bike, we’d take those wheels and the titanium exhaust, but keep everything else stock. That green paint just doesn’t look right somehow. Anyway, more details on the AC Schnitzer website here

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Aprilia RSV4 Factory prices announced

The 180bhp Aprilia RSV4 goes on sale in Europe this month...

Pics: Motoblog

All those who’ve been waiting for the awesome new V4-powered Aprilia RSV4, rejoice – the company has announced prices for the bike, which will now be available at Aprilia dealerships in Europe. The RSV4 Factory comes with a list price of 20,000 euros (US$26,375) – a bit expensive when you consider the fact that a Ducati 1198S costs about US$22,000.

Like some other litre-class superbikes, the RSV4 gives its riders three modes to choose from – the track mode liberates the full, 180-horsepower fury of that high-tech Aprilia V4, sport mode softens the power delivery in the first three gears and the street mode restricts power to 140bhp.

The Aprilia RSV4 has been designed by Miguel Galluzzi (the man who did the original Ducati Monster), who now heads Aprilia’s design department. The bike is being raced in the 2009 World Superbikes series, with ex-MotoGP men Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano riding for Aprilia this year.

Damn cool, even if it is more expensive than a 1198S!

Malaguti Phantom F12R Bayliss Limited Edition

For 16-year-olds with 2,560 euros (US$3,375) to spare, this Malaguti should be your dream ride!
Pic: Motoblog

Every year, Malaguti launch these very cool looking racer-rep scooters and this year’s offering is the Phantom F12R Bayliss Limited Edition, built to celebrate Troy Bayliss’ last world championship victory in World Superbikes. With its 50cc liquid-cooled engine, multifunction dashboard with digital LCD display, CVT transmission and 13-inch wheels shod with fat, sticky tyres, we guess this scooter would be a dream come true for 16-year-olds. For the slightly more elderly, here's a riding impression of Bayliss' championship winning Ducati 1098R...

2009 Yamaha MT-01 SP launched

The 2009 Yamaha MT-01 SP is all about 'Kodo'...

The MT-01 has always been a bit… dull? So Yamaha are trying to remedy that now, with a limited-edition SP version. Yes, the company has launched the 2009 MT-01 SP, which gets a few extra bits and pieces to spice things up a bit. The engine is still the same 1,670cc v-twin, which produces 90 horsepower at 4,750rpm and 150Nm of torque at 3,750 revs. Wet weight is 265 kilos.

On to the new bits – the MT-01 SP gets a 43mm USD Öhlins fork and adjustable Öhlins rear shock. The bike rides on 17-inch wheels, which now wear 120/70 (front) and 190/50 (rear) Pirelli Diablo Rosso rubber. According to Yamaha, all these changes provide ‘a more intense experience of ‘Kodo,’ a Japanese expression for soul beat, pulsation or the external expression of latent power.’ Er… yeah, well, whatever. We’d still take the 2009 R1.

Elsewhere today: For those who'd rather have a Yamaha V-Max, here's the hottest 'Max ever...!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

CAF-E: Tim Cameron’s supercharged hybrid motorcycle concept

The CAF-E concept bike uses a supercharged parallel twin mated to an electric motor

Pics: Tim Cameron

Tim Cameron, the Aussie motorcycle designer who’s earlier done bikes like the Travertson V-Rex and VR-2 (both of which are now in production, in the US), is now on to his next machine – the CAF-E. In addition to style and performance, the CAF-E hybrid motorcycle concept has been designed for better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

Since it’s a petrol-electric hybrid, the CAF-E is powered by a parallel-twin engine with twin superchargers and an electric motor that’s fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. ‘It is a 'parallel hybrid,' meaning the petrol engine and the electric motor work together to provide the driving power,’ says Cameron. ‘The secret to this arrangement is the transmission, based around Toyota's clever 'Synergy Drive,' a computer-controlled planetary gear arrangement that combines the output of both powerplants seamlessly according to load and conditions. It is a stepless CVT type of transmission, which also makes it very compact and ideal for a motorcycle application,’ he adds.

‘Motorcycles are already an economical transport ‘alternative’ but what if you could buy something that could not only out-perform everything else on the road, but at the same time got double or even triple the mpg of existing machines whilst putting out less emissions?’ says Cameron. ‘The hybrid technology I’m showcasing in the CAF-E has already been proven in the car world and I don’t think the CAF-E would be that expensive to produce. Toyota, Honda and General Motors have already shelled out huge amounts of money to develop the technology in the first place – I’m just adapting it over to two wheels. I envisage something like this costing upper-range Harley money,’ he concludes.

Yup, sounds interesting. We hope the CAF-E will make the transition from concept bike to production reality soon. We wish Tim and his team all the very best for this project!

Friday, March 27, 2009

MotoGP: Tech3 Yamaha, Monster Energy come together for 2009

Out with Kawasaki, in with Yamaha...
Pic: Motoblog

We just finished posting pics of the new Playboy LCR Honda bike, and now here’s the new Monster Yamaha Tech3 machine. Yes, with Kawasaki pulling out of MotoGP this year, Monster Energy will now be the title sponsor for the Tech3 Yamaha team, for the 2009 MotoGP season.

For 2009, Monster also have a personal sponsorship deal going with the reigning MotoGP world champion, Valentino Rossi. According to Monster, they are the no.1 energy drink in the US (in terms of sales volumes) and are now looking at expanding their presence across Europe. You, in the meanwhile, can download some of their Monstrous stuff here

MotoGP: LCR Honda, Playboy get together for 2009

Playboy comes to MotoGP, with LCR Honda. Yes!

Pics: LCR Honda

This year, the LCR Honda MotoGP team is really coming out to play. Boy! The satellite Honda team will start the 2009 season with a new title sponsor – Playboy.

‘Playboy Italy has positively assessed the project and confirmed the sponsorship for the early stage of the season, linking it to their activities in the view of re-launching the magazine in Italy. Currently, there are further ongoing negotiations with licensees in more countries, who have been presented with our ‘projects by event’ concept, which does not imply any millionaire investments,’ says LCR Honda team boss, Lucio Cecchinello.

Cecchinello also believes that Randy De Puniet, who’s riding for LCR Honda again this year, will have more competitive machinery this time. ‘It’s clear that 2007 and 2008 for the independent teams were not easy years. Since the 800cc class made its appearance, it has become harder than ever to compete with the factory teams. Now we are approaching a phase where the factories can even supply the satellite teams with the state-of-the-art technologies and this will make us more competitive,’ he says.

Honda, in particular, has really made a big effort for 2009 by giving us the same engines as the ones they use, featuring pneumatic valve technology and all the relevant managing software. Now it’s up to us, working hard with Randy to be ready to battle and, where possible, challenge the factory riders,’ says Cecchinello.

‘The first impression I got from the bike was very positive. The engine is more competitive compared to last year’s, especially as far as its maximum speed is concerned,’ says De Puniet. ‘Last year wasn’t as easy and we didn’t achieve the results we were hoping for, therefore I trust this season to be the best with the LCR Team. I believe our potential is higher this year and I’m very confident,’ he adds.

Indeed, with the Playboy bunnies cheering him on this year, who knows, De Puniet may even score a podium or three in 2009. We wish him all the best. And, Playboy, welcome to MotoGP - the greatest, grandest sport on earth…

LCR Honda RC212V: Tech Specs

Engine: Four-stroke liquid-cooled pneumatic-valve DOHC 800cc V4
Chassis: Aluminium twin spar, fully adjustable geometry
Gearbox: Six-speed cassette-type
Power: >210bhp
Top Speed: >325km/h
Overall length: 2050-2070mm (depending on the circuit) Overall height: 1125mm
Overall width: 645mm
Weight: 148kg
Fuel capacity: 21 litres capacity ELF
Suspension: Fully-adjustable Öhlins TTX20 USD fork (front), fully-adjustable Öhlins TTX36 Pro-link monoshock (rear)
Wheels and Tyres: Marchesini, Bridgestone
Brakes: Brembo, twin 314mm carbon discs with four piston callipers (front), ventilated steel disc with twin piston callipers (rear)
Misc: Fully adjustable multi-plate slipper clutch, titanium exhaust

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2009 Suzuki GSX-R1000: A few opinions…

"It was an interesting experience riding the K9, because I’ve never tried a road bike before," says ex-MotoGP rider Sylvain Guintoli. What, he's never tried a road bike before?!?! What has he been riding all these years...? Hmm, maybe the picture above says something after all...

With all the noise that’s been made about its ‘MotoGP-inspired’ engine, the 2009 R1 has quite stolen the GSX-R1000’s thunder this year. And it’s not just the R1 – there’s also the supremely manageable, ABS-equipped Honda Fireblade and the Ducati 1198S with its race-spec DTC traction control system. So the GSX-R has been left on the sidelines in 2009, while the new boys strut their stuff…

But is the new GSX-R really not a match for other litre-class superbikes this year. Let’s take a quick look at what ‘experts’ have to say about the bike. And first up is Sylvain Guintoli, ex-MotoGP rider who’s racing with Crescent Suzuki in British Superbikes this year. ‘It was an interesting experience riding the K9, because I’ve never tried a road bike before. I was really surprised. [Yeah, so are we. How can you never have tried a road bike before?!? – F&F]. I always thought road bikes on the track would be heavy and soft, but the K9 is good fun, and fast,’ says Guintoli.

Hmm… if Guintoli thinks the 2009 GSX-R1000 is ‘fast,’ we suppose it must be, eh? So let’s see what does John Reynolds (ex-BSB champ and current Suzuki test rider) has to say about the machine then. ‘It’s a totally different chassis on the K9 from the K7. We’ve got a setting now where the bike works really well on the race track, and with a couple of turns of preload off the rear shock, and a bit off the front end, you’ve got a bike that’s wonderful for the road as well,’ says Reynolds. ‘The way the geometry of the chassis is now, it’s really focussed towards racing bikes more than anything else,’ he adds.

All right, but since both Guintoli and Reynolds are employed by Suzuki, let’s also see what MCN’s Michael Neeves has to say about the K9. ‘Compared to some of its competition, the GSX-R is not as razor-sharp in and out or corners, and it’s still missing that intoxicating mix of grunt and light weight that made the old K5/K6 the sensation it was at the time,’ says Neeves. ‘But don’t worry, the GSX-R hasn’t gone all soft. The K9 still retains that spine-tingling, evil bark when you blip the throttle and it wants to wheelie at every opportunity…,’ he adds.

So where does that leave us. And you. Where does the GSX-R stand, vis-à-vis the 2009 R1 and Fireblade? ‘Die-hard GSX-R fans will still go all gooey over its evil exhaust note, searing top-end rush and slider-shredding cornering ability,’ says Neeves. ‘But there’s something missing, and I can’t put my finger on it. I wasn’t left giggling or open-mouthed after each riding session, like I should have been. Maybe it feels and looks too much like the old K7/K8 despite all its changes? Maybe it’s still too bulky? Maybe it’s just that Honda and Yamaha have moved the game on so much with the Fireblade and R1…,’ he concludes.

Jay Leno also has a go on the 2009 GSX-R1000...

MZ may be revived. Again

From the 1970s ES150 to the more recent 1000SF, MZ have made some totally cool motorcycles. So, yes, the old German company deserves yet another chance...

MZ is one of those once-great eastern European motorcycle manufacturers who fell upon hard times many decades ago and have, since then, been going through various bust-revival-bust cycles. Those who want the fully story on the MZ name and heritage can look here. For the rest of us, to quickly recapitulate, MZ had been bought over by Malaysian company Hong Leong Industries Bhd, in 1996. After struggling with losses for more than a decade, Hong Leong decided to pull the plug on MZ last year (we wrote about it back then, here).

Now, it seems there’s again talk of the legendary German motorcycle company being revived. According to a report in German magazine Motorrad, two German ex-motorcycle racers – Martin Wimmer and Ralf Waldman – have purchased the rights to the MZ name from Hong Leong, for a rumoured 4-5 million euros. Wimmer has been appointed the new CEO at MZ and the two men are looking at developing new motorcycles which will be sold in Europe under the MZ brand name. Parts for these machines are likely to be sourced from Asia, probably China and/or India.

So, is it going to be party-time in Zschopau all over again? Umm… we really don’t know. We do think MZ have built some really cool motorcycles in the past, but whether the company can make a comeback – especially in the current economic scenario – is a question that’s open to debate. Of course, Wimmer and Waldman are doing more than just debating the question – they’re putting their money where their mouth is. We hope they’ll be successful – here’s wishing them all the best!

Monday, March 23, 2009

2009 Ural Gear-Up Sahara: For real men (and women) only...

Forget big-piston USD forks, leading-link forks are what a real man's motorcycle must have!

Pics: MotoFlash

The last time we wrote about Ural here at Faster and Faster, it was in the context of a book review – American Borders – where Ms Carla King tells her story of how she rode around the United States on a Russian-made Ural sidecar outfit.

That was back in 2007, and it seems Ural haven’t been sitting around twiddling their thumbs since then. The company has just launched a brand-new model for the US market – the Ural Gear-Up Sahara. What, you don’t believe us?! No, really, this isn’t from 1959, it really is a brand-new machine…

The Gear-Up Sahara is actually a limited edition variant of the regular Ural Gear-Up and only 18 units of this sidecar outfit will be made. The whole thing weighs 335 kilos and is powered by an OHV, air-cooled 749cc boxer twin, which produces 40 horsepower and 52Nm of torque – enough to propel the Ural to a top speed of 95km/h. The machine is priced at US$13,949 plus taxes, which actually makes it rather expensive!

Built at the Irbit MotorWorks Factory in Russia, Ural machines are supposed to be indestructible though perhaps not as reliable as contemporary Japanese and European adventure tourers. Still, if you think bikes like the BMW R1200GS, Moto Guzzi Stelvio, KTM 990 Adventure and Yamaha XT660Z Tenere are too ‘soft’ for you, the Ural Gear-Up Sahara just might fit the bill. Heck, with the sidecar driveshaft engaged, you actually get a 2WD motorcycle with the Ural, and that’s more than the Japs and Euros can say for themselves. Plus, if you really want to indulge those Indiana Jones fantasies, we suppose you’ve got to have those spare canisters, spare wheel, shovel, extra lights, luggage rack and medicine kit…

More details at the Ural website here



2WD AC Schnitzer AJS Akrapovic all-wheel-drive Alpinestars AMG Aprilia Ariel Audi Avinton Bajaj Barry Sheene Benelli Bianchi Bimota BMW Bosch Brammo Brembo Britten BSA Buell Bultaco Cagiva Campagna Can-Am Carver Casey Stoner Caterham Chinese bikes Classics Concept Bike Confederate CRandS Custom-built Dainese Derbi Diesel Ducati Eddie Lawson EICMA 2008 EICMA 2009 EICMA 2012 EICMA 2013 EICMA 2014 EICMA 2015 EICMA 2016 Electric Ferrari Fischer flying machines Freddie Spencer Giacomo Agostini Gilera Harley-Davidson Helmets Henderson Hero Motocorp Hesketh Honda Horex Husqvarna Hybrid Hyosung Ilmor Indian Intermot 2012 Intermot 2014 Intermot 2016 Interviews Isle of Man TT Jawa Jay Leno Jeremy Burgess Kawasaki Kevin Schwantz KTM Lamborghini Lambretta Laverda Lazareth Lotus Mahindra Malaguti Markus Hofmann McLaren Mercedes-Benz Mick Doohan Midual Millepercento Mission Motors Mondial Morbidelli Morgan Moriwaki Moto Guzzi Moto Morini Moto2 Moto3 MotoCzysz MotoGP MotoGP-2007 MotoGP-2008 MotoGP-2009 MotoGP-2010 Motorcycle Design Motus MTT MV Agusta MZ News Nissan Norton NSU Peraves Petronas Peugeot Photography Piaggio Porsche Quad Renard Renault Riding Impressions Roehr Ronax Ronin Rotary Royal Enfield Scooters Segway Shootouts Short Films Skills Specials stunt riding Supercharged Suter Suzuki Toyota Travel trike Triumph Turbo TVS Two-stroke Ural V10 V12 V4 V6 V8 Valentino Rossi Velocette Vespa Victory Vincent Volkswagen Voxan Vyrus Wakan Wayne Gardner Wayne Rainey Wunderlich Yamaha Yoshimura Zagato