Friday, April 10, 2009

2009 MotoGP: The bikes are ready...


With the Qatar Grand Prix coming up tomorrow, here's a quick look at all the bikes that will be lining up on the grid. There are four Honda teams, three Ducati teams, two Yamaha teams, Suzuki and Hayate. Not too bad, given the global economic circumstances. Capirex, in the meanwhile, may retire from MotoGP at the end of this season and move to... horse racing?! ;-)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Wunderlich Caranguejeira: Killer K1200R


There's a lethal spider lurking somewhere in there...

Pics: B-art

For those who think the K1200R wasn’t funky enough already, Wunderlich (Germany-based BMW hop-up specialists…) have built the Caranguejeira. A large Brazilian Tarantula spider, the Caranguejeira doesn’t wait for its prey to get trapped in a web. Nope, it simply hunts them down, killing its prey by injecting venom through its fangs. Definitely not one to be messed with…

The Caranguejeira K1200R was designed for Wunderlich by Bart van den Bogaard, a Netherlands-based designer. The mods comprise a new headlamp cluster, new taillamps, ZARD exhaust system, new handlebars, instrument relocation kit, dual air inlets (in place of the stock bike’s single inlet) with free-flow air-filters, adjustable brake and clutch levers and an aluminium bellypan.

The engine, chassis and suspension have been kept stock, though Wunderlich claim a 5bhp hike in power due to the dual air inlet thing. And while their website doesn’t say anything about this, we suppose they can do their ‘Killer Spidey’ thing on the K1300R as well. For more details on the Caranguejeira and other Wunderlich bikes, visit their website here

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

2009 Ducati Supermono Strada: Alistair Wager reinvents the Italian racing single


Alistair Wager's street-legal Ducati Supermono Strada. Cool!

Remember the original Supermono, which Ducati released in 1993? Designed by Pierre Terblanche and fitted with a four-stroke, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected single-cylinder 549cc engine, the Supermono was a high-tech racer that cost US$30,000 back then. With a dry weight of 118kg and high-spec suspension components, the Supermono handled extremely well. And the 75 horsepower from its 549cc engine was enough to push the machine to a top speed of 225km/h.

You can read more about the original, 1990s Supermono here. In the meanwhile, British engineer Alistair Wager (who’s worked with Ducati for many years and who also headed the HMC Ducati AMA Superbike team in 2001) has put a whole new spin on the bike. With some help from the Ducati factory, Wager has built a brand-new Supermono Strada – one that’s fitted with a bigger, more powerful engine and updated chassis/suspension components. Of course, unlike the original ’Mono, Alistair’s machine is also street-legal.

‘I had worked on many of the 67 Supermono race bikes produced, and thought it would be great to own a road bike version myself. As the factory cannot risk putting such a lower spec bike into production, with no guarantee of success, I told Paolo Ciabbati what I intended to do and they agreed to open a direct parts account with me,’ says Alistair, replying to an email we wrote to him.

It couldn’t have been an easy task, building this new Supermono. According to Alistair, it took him six years of work (some of it part time) and more than £50,000 to complete the many patterns and moulds which were required.


This 2009 Supermono Strada seems to be better than 1993 original in every way imaginable

The 2009 Supermono Strada’s 595cc single-cylinder engine, which uses the Testastretta cylinder head from the 999R, makes 88bhp (compared to 80bhp from the original 549cc engine). The new engine features Pankl forged titanium con-rods (forged steel on the original ’Mono), billet machined, hardened and balanced crankshaft, larger inlet and exhaust valves (41mm and 33mm respectively, up from 37mm and 31 mm) and a host of other mods. A new Magneti Marelli fuel-injection system, with 54mm diameter throttle body (50mm on the old bike), replaces the older FI system. A six-speed standard ratio gearbox, with one-up-five-down shift pattern, has been fitted to the Supermono Strada, replacing the six-speed close ratio gearbox on the race bike.

The new Supermono’s trellis frame is a replica of the original but is now made from lightweight 4130 Chrome-molybdenum tubing. The swingarm is a modified aluminium cast/fabricated item (as fitted to the Ducati 1000SS i.e.) and suspension components at both ends are Ohlins items. The front brakes comprise twin 305mm discs (280mm on the original bike) with four-piston radial-mount Brembo callipers, as fitted to the 1098R. The bike rides on 17-inch Marchesini forged Magnesium ten-spoke wheels, shod with 120/60 (front) and 180/55 (rear) Pirelli Diablo Corsa tyres.

Since the Supermono Strada is fully street legal, it comes with projector type headlamps, LED taillamp, push-button electric start and so on – bits that you won’t find on the original Supermono race bikes. The Strada also uses pre-pregnated carbonfibre body parts (rather than the original bikes’ wet-lay carbonfibre) for reduced weight and added strength, and a lightweight Titanium silencer, which does away with ground clearance problems.

We must say we’re hugely impressed with Alistair’s work – the Ducati Supermono Strada must be absolutely phenomenal to ride, especially on the racetrack and on twisty mountain roads. Taking an iconic Ducati and reworking it to make it even better couldn’t have been easy, but Alistair has just proved that it can be done!


Some pics of the original Ducati Supermono...

2009 Zero S unveiled, deliveries to start in May


The US$9,950 Zero S is ready to hit the road, but are you ready for the Zero S?

Zero Motorcycles have unveiled the Zero S, a lithium-ion battery-powered supermoto. The bike’s electric motor produces 31 horsepower and 84.6Nm of torque and the Zero S, which weighs in at 102kg, will do a top speed of 96.6km/h. Range is 97km on one full charge, and charging time is four hours.

The Zero S is priced at US$9,950 and deliveries start in May this year. To us, it seems that EVs like the Zero simply aren’t ready to hit the motorcycling mainstream just yet. The Zero S is way too expensive for what it offers and until lithium-ion battery prices come down significantly, bikes like the Zero will probably have a very limited market…


The Zero S in action...

Motus Motorcycles’ V4 sport-tourer on the way


For now, this logo is all we have, but that all-new V4 sport-tourer thing sounds exciting...

Here’s some exciting news from America – a new motorcycle company, Motus, is working on a brand-new, all-American sport-tourer which will be fitted with a V4 engine! Motus has been set up by Lee Conn and Brian Case, the latter being an industrial designer who earlier headed design at Confederate Motorcycles. (Brian, in fact, played a significant role in the design and development of the Wraith motorcycle…)

Motus have been working on their V4-powered sport-tourer since March 2008. ‘Our V4 engine and proprietary chassis designs are currently underway with highly respected automotive engineering partners. The design calls for a comfortable, lightweight machine that blends American muscle performance with proven range-extending technology. The focal point for the Motus bike will be our engine. We believe the engine will be completely unexpected and completely different than anything currently available,’ says Brian.

Hmm… we admit we’re all excited about this one. What ‘range extending technology’ could Motus be working on? Could the V4 engine be a part of some kind of a hybrid powertrain? Anyway, there are no tech specs or pics available at this time, though Brian promises he’ll keep us updated, so stay tuned for more…

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

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