Friday, May 08, 2009

BMW Project i: The Clever concept

Under their Project i, BMW are now working on new two- and three-wheelers...
Pics: iMotor, via AutoblogGreen

According to a report on iMotor, BMW are developing new battery-powered two- and three-wheelers that will be eco-friendly and fun to ride. These vehicles are being developed under BMW’s Project i, which is aimed at sustainable mobility in the (near?) future.

One of the proposals being considered by BMW is the three-wheeled ‘Clever’ concept, which the German company has co-developed with the Bath University. According to BMW, this tilting trike will deliver the thrills of a motorcycle but would not require the rider to wear a helmet. Top speed for this two-seater trike would be around 100km/h and it would be easy to ride and park.

For the Clever concept, BMW is experimenting with compressed natural gas (CNG) and lithium-ion batteries. The idea is to find the right balance between range, performance, longevity and environment-friendliness. According to a BMW spokesperson, the company will have a production-ready version of the Clever concept within the next five years.

Apart from the 'Clever' concept (below), BMW was also working on the 'Simple' leaning trike concept (above). Both look interesting, neither is very likely to make it to production...!

4MC: Nick Shotter's amazing four-wheeled motorcycle

The 4MC, powersliding out of corners and getting sideways, on wet and oily tarmac! This has to be the most phenomenal motorcycle concept we've ever seen...!!!

Pics and video: 4MC, via Gizmag

Remember the Yamaha Tesseract and Franco Sbarro’s Pendolauto? Both of these four-wheeled motorcycle concepts looked like they would be a lot of fun to ride but they haven’t, apparently, progressed beyond the concept bike stage.

Now, where Yamaha and Sbarro haven’t been able to move ahead, the UK-based Nick Shotter has. His 4MC four-wheeled motorcycle is a fully functioning prototype and going by the video you see above, it’s simply phenomenal. With proper motorcycle-style tilting wheels – but with the added traction you get with four hoops rather than just two – the 4MC seems easy to powerslide out of corners, on wet and oily tarmac!! You wouldn’t try that on your ZX-10R, would you…?

According to a report on Gizmag, Shotter is a London-based ex-courier, who’s been working on his tilting four-wheel motorcycle for two decades. He also owns a few patents on this design, which might actually be one of the reasons why Yamaha have not been able to go ahead with the Tesseract concept.

When you watch the video of the 4MC being ridden around corners, you realise that this bike seems just about uncrashable. At full tilt, its wheels actually move slightly further apart, increasing stability. That, along with the added manoeuvrability that its tilting wheels provide, make the 4MC a demon in fast corners. And at very low speeds, there’s a hydraulic anti-tilt system there, which ‘locks’ the wheels and allows the machine to be ridden very slowly, without the rider having to put his feet down.

For now, the 4MC prototype is fitted with a 400cc Yamaha engine, but it can be modified to accept bigger, more powerful engines. We really wonder what this machine will do with a litre-class superbike engine in there. We see a lot of concepts and prototypes and all kinds of wild and wonderful two-, three- and four-wheeled contraptions here at Faster and Faster, but the 4MC has just blown us away. Awesome machine!!!

For more videos of the 4MC and other details on this wonderful machine, visit Nick Shotter’s website here

Big CC: 450bhp GSX-R1000 K7 Turbo

Big CC's GSX-R1000 K7 Turbo, with up to 450 horsepower...

Turbo specialists Big CC are it again and this time, they’re getting up to 450 horsepower from the K7 Suzuki GSX-R1000. According to Big CC, their turbo kit for the Gixxer is designed to produce between 230-450bhp. ‘At low boost levels, this bike is very rideable, with nice predictable power delivery. But engage the two-stage boost and it can wheelie in any gear at any speed,’ says the Big CC website. ‘Using a KMS secondary fuelling computer to control the mapping of various boost levels on enlarged secondary injectors, the kit comes with dump pipes but has optional full exhaust at extra cost as seen,’ it adds.

A 450-horsepower turbo GSX-R1000? Why not, it sounds just perfect to us.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Aprilia RSV4 road test

The guys at MCN got to ride the Aprilia RSV4 from Noale, in Italy, to the South of France. Life doesn't get any better than this. Right now the only other bikes that we can think of, that are as lust-worthy as the RSV4, are the 2009 R1 and the 1198S

Update (Monday, 3rd August 2009): Max Biaggi took his first victory on the Aprilia RSV4 at Brno. The Italian, who was a legend in 250cc GP racing in the 1990s, still has it in him!

Craig Jones does 238km/h on ice, on a Buell 1125R

The Buell 1125R which Craig Jones used to ride at 238km/h, on ice!

Pics: Buell, via Motoblog

British stunt rider, Craig Jones is now probably the fastest rider in the world. On ice. The man recently took his specially prepared Buell 1125R to a top speed of 238km/h on the frozen surface of Lake Dellen, in Sweden. No mean feat, this, since the ice is only a few centimetres thick and below that there is the lake’s 1.2 billion cubic metres of water…

With a NOS kit, Craig’s 1125R packs almost 200 horsepower (50bhp more than the stock bike) and in order to find traction on ice, the tyres have nails (20mm at the rear, 15mm at the front) embedded in them. Of course, it takes a man with Craig’s skill and utter fearlessness to ride such a bike to its limits, in an environment where it was never designed to be ridden.

'I firmly believe that your head is the biggest limiting factor in pushing to the edge. The less you think about the risks, the further you can push yourself. So I kept it simple. I just put the bike into gear, tucked down and went as fast as I could,' says Craig. Hmm... you would probably expect this from a man who, among other things, has pulled the world’s longest rolling stoppie (with a passenger on board), where he started braking at 192km/h, lifting the rear wheel off the ground and then riding 305 metres on the front wheel of his Buell XB12R. More about the very talented Craig Jones here

Craig Jones in action on his Buell, on the Lake Dellen

BMW HP2 Megamoto: Pikes Peak Edition for Japan

The BMW HP2 Pikes Peak special, only for Japan...
Pic: Motoblog

BMW are doing a limited edition HP2 Megamoto for the Japanese market. The bike will be a replica of the Megamoto which BMW Motorrad / BMW USA Sierra raced at the Pikes Peak hill climb event last year. Intially, only 40 units of the HP2 Pikes Peak Edition will be built, though BMW may consider building more if there is enough demand.

The HP2 Pikes Peak will feature race-replica paintjob and stickers but will remain stock mechanically. The 1,200cc boxer twin will still produce 113bhp at 7,500rpm and top speed for the 199kg (wet weight) bike will be around 200km/h. The bike will cost 2.7 million Yen (US$27,000) in Japan and you’d have to pay 2.82 million Yen if you opt for ABS.

BMW bikes in action at the Pikes Peak hill climb...

Honda: The RC212V isn’t good enough!

Just how good is the Honda RC212V MotoGP racebike...?

That Honda/HRC would say that their MotoGP bike – the 800cc RC212V – just isn’t good enough, would be quite unimaginable for most. Honda/HRC bosses have been known for their ‘pride,’ which sometimes borders on arrogance. However, in a shock move, the company is now admitting that it’s actually the machine and not the man because of which Honda have failed to win races and championships in MotoGP, in the 800cc era.

‘The reason why Dani couldn’t get the championship is because the machine is not good enough. For the last two years, the bike was not at a good level. Our 800cc machine has missed something,’ said HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto, speaking to MCN. ‘I think Dani’s potential is enough to win the championship, but my feeling is that the machine is not good enough,’ he added.

‘If we don’t win the title in 2009, it is Honda’s responsibility, not Dani’s,’ said Nakamoto. And of course, Pedrosa quite agrees with Nakamoto. 'To be able to win we must improve the motorcycle. My results might hide the problems, but they are there. Look at the other Honda riders. They were half a minute from victory [at Jerez],' he says.

We seriously doubt if Honda/Pedrosa will be serious contenders for winning the MotoGP world title this year. While Stoner and Rossi have won 17 and 14 races each, in the 800cc era, Pedrosa has only won four races.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Memorable: The magnificent Honda NR750

As an engineering masterpiece, the Honda NR750 remains unrivaled to this day...

What’s the most amazing, stunningly magnificent street-legal sportsbike you can think of? A production machine, not a custom-built one-off. From recent years, the Ducati Desmosedici RR, MV Agusta F4 CC, Ducati 1198S, 2009 Yamaha R1, 2005/06 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and 2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R are some pretty special machines.

Going a bit further back, there would be dozens of other bikes that we can name. The first Yamaha R1, the original CBR900RR Fireblade, various 1990s Bimotas, the Kawasaki ZZR1100, Honda RC45 and RC30 and many, many others. But if we had to pick one single motorcycle which outdoes everything else – in terms of design and sheer engineering audacity – it would probably be the Honda NR750.

Introduced in mid-1992, the Honda NR750 was the world’s first production motorcycle with oval pistons. Based on Honda’s oval-pistoned NR500 racebikes, the street-legal NR750 was fitted with a fuel-injected 750cc V4, which utilised oval pistons, each of which used eight valves and two con-rods. Each piston was actually two pistons joined together, so the NR’s engine was really a V8 disguised as a V4…!

To quote a recent article that Superbike magazine did on the NR, ‘Honda effectively paired up the pistons in a V8 to make it a V4. In terms of valve to piston area, the engine was much more like a V8. Also, because the pistons were so much larger, the stroke could be kept shorter, allowing the engine to rev to well over 15,000rpm.’

By modern standards, the NR750’s power output is merely commonplace – 125bhp at 15,000rpm wouldn’t impress too many people today, when a stock GSX-R750 makes 150bhp (at the crank) at 13,200rpm. The NR weighed in at around 236 kilos and top speed was around 255km/h – again, figures that are easily surpassed by many contemporary sportsbikes.

Still, the NR’s PGM-FI fuel-injection, USD fork, carbonfibre bodywork, titanium-coated windscreen, underseat exhaust (that’s where the inspiration for the Ducati 916’s exhaust system came from…), magnesium wheels, digital instrumentation, single-sided swingarm and of course, that V4/V8 engine with its oval pistons made it pretty special.

‘When I look back at it, I'm not sure if we were experimenting with cutting-edge technologies or obsessed with foolish ideas,’ says Toshimitsu Yoshimura, who led the development of the Honda NR500's oval piston engine. ‘At least we were doing something that was beyond the realm of conventional thinking. I'm not just talking about us, who were designing the engine, but also those who were creating the body,’ he adds.

‘The reason was simply that we were all so young, we had nothing to fear. You could even say we had no preconceived notion that a piston had to have a circular cross-section. We didn't think much about whether the engine would actually turn over, or even whether it would be practical at all. We weren't worried about those things, since we just wanted to make it work!’ says Yoshimura.

‘To create anything, you must put your heart and soul to it. The development of oval piston engines impressed that upon me, as well as on the other young engineers,’ concludes the man responsible for designing one of the most remarkably innovative motorcycle engines in the world.

Priced at more than US$60,000 the Honda NR750 was hugely expensive and Honda only produced around 200 units (300 units according to some sources…) of the bike. Honda must have ultimately decided that oval piston engines are a bit too complex and expensive to produce, with not enough benefits to offset the cost, hence they seem to have abandoned the idea for good. But as an engineering masterpiece, the NR750 remains utterly, compellingly fascinating to this day.

The Honda NR750 takes on the VTR1000 SP2 here

A video of the Honda NR750 in action!
Honda NR Honda NR Honda NR Honda NR Honda NR

Voxan Nefertiti announced, might go on sale in 2010

Eric Terrace, President - Voxan, with the new Nefertiti

According to a report on MotoRevue, Voxan are almost ready with their new motorcycle – the Nefertiti – which they will launch ‘once the ongoing economic recession is over.’ (Which probably means nobody really knows when the bike will be launched!)

It seems the Nefertiti is based on the Voxan Super Naked XV, which was designed by Philippe Starck (who also designed the Aprilia Moto 6.5) and was first unveiled back in 2007. The production-ready Nefertiti is likely to be fitted with Voxan’s 1,166cc, 140bhp v-twin.

In April last year, the president of Voxan, Eric Terrace had declared, ‘If I’m boss, I will not show a motorcycle unless I can deliver it the next day.’ So we wonder where that leaves the Nefertiti…

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Honda to supply Moto2 engines

That's actually a Moto2 bike. Or not. Really, we couldn't care less...

Honda will be the sole supplier of engines in the 600cc four-stroke Moto2 class, which kicks off next year. This ‘600cc prototype World Championship series’ will replace 250cc two-strokes and a lot of racing teams seem to be interested in Moto2. However, we suspect it will turn out to be duller and more boring than a dried-up slice of pizza that’s been lying around in the fridge for four days.

Honda’s Moto2 engines (hopped-up CBR600RR engines?) will produce more than 150 horsepower and teams will be able to run whatever chassis and suspension components they want. More or less. Probably. And if you’ll excuse us now, we’ll go and sleep for a bit. Yawn


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