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…