What accelerates harder - a Honda Fireblade, a golf ball or a fireworks rocket? Richard Hammond finds out in an episode of Brainiac
(Brainiac was a show on British television that used to run on the BBC till a few years ago...)
Friday, August 07, 2009
Thursday, August 06, 2009
For those who’d rather have something a bit more exclusive than a regular Ducati 1198S, Red Fenix have spent about 100,000 euros (US$144,000) and built the 1198RF. They started with a ‘basic’ 1198S and proceeded to give it a very significant makeover.
The 11098S’s regular forged aluminium wheels have been replaced with lighter 17-inch magnesium alloy wheels from Marvic (16.5-inch wheels are an option for track use only), shod with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa rubber. The stock 45mm Öhlins fork has been replaced with a 47mm K-Service item and the bike’s wheelbase has been reduced slightly, in accordance with Ducati’s World Superbikes machine. And yes, most of the bodywork is now carbonfibre.
According to Red Fenix, the above changes make for enhanced stability and more accurate steering around fast bends. The Ducati Traction Control (DTC) system, which is calibrated from zero to 8, is set on 4 on the 1198RF. The front brake discs have been repositioned for better cooling and the Brembo units are said to offer massive stopping power, needing just one finger on the lever to haul the bike down from triple-digit speeds.
The 1198RF’s engine has been fettled by the Milan-based Desmolupo and features a host of performance mods to provide an additional 10-11 horsepower. Which probably means that for about five times the price of a regular Ducati 1198S, you get a machine that’s a bit faster and handles a bit better. Now you decide if you want one…
If you want a hotter Ducati, you can either spend $144,000 on your bike. Or just get a hot chick to stand next to it...
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Colin Edwards, who’s been racing in MotoGP since 2003, hasn’t actually won a MotoGP race ever. He frequently finishes in the top five and has got many podium finishes, but he’s never won a race. Which is actually a bit weird, because Edwards has been a top-level pro racer since the early-1990s. He raced for Yamaha and then Honda in World Superbikes, winning world championships aboard the Honda RC51 SP-1 and SP-2 in 2000 and 2002.
Edwards came to MotoGP in 2003, with Aprilia, but the RS3 Cube racebike performed very poorly and it was a disastrous season for Colin, who moved to Honda for 2004. He then came to ride for Yamaha in 2005 and continues with the Tech3 Yamaha team today.
Thirty-five years old now, Colin ‘The Texas Tornado’ Edwards has some interesting things to say about his ex-team mate Valentino Rossi, about MotoGP and about… racing in general. Here are some quotes from the man:
‘The guy has stopped impressing me a long time ago because he just seems to do it all the time. But what is it? I don't know what it is. You could say he's getting in the zone, but I think he's maybe permanently stuck there!’
On the brilliance of six-time MotoGP world champ Valentino Rossi (June 2008)
‘I ride a lot better when I'm pissed off. Always seemed to have.’
On finishing third despite dropping to last place on Lap 1 of the Dutch TT at Assen (July 2008)
‘I like the night race. I think it's a cool little scenario. It's something special; you only have one a year. It's something a little bit different. I tend to ride faster when I can't see where I'm going. Everything works out better that way.’
On the night race at Qatar (April 2009)
‘Well, you can take that carbonfibre shell. I don't want anything to do with that. When I crash, I want to get as far away from all that action as possible. That's the mentality of a motorcycle racer. It’s like, I want to get away. It's just me, with a whole road of gravel. Not me and some 2,000-pound vehicle fricking hurling into a wall. I'm out on that gig.’
On motorcycle racers vs car racers, when it comes to crashing (June 2009)
‘I think they've done a good job to try and screw everything up, after all the changes to the track. When I first started going there on Superbikes, the track was just amazing. If you messed up one corner, hell, it'd screw you up for four corners down the road. They’ve butchered it. I don’t know, man. This gets back into politics and all this other stuff why they changed it. Welcome to socialism.’
His opinion of changes to the circuit at Assen, Netherlands (June 2009)
‘That Turn 1 is still a mother. It doesn't even look like a turn. But honestly, going over that thing, fifth gear tapped, it will put a little pucker in your buttocks region occasionally if you did it wrong.’
On racing at the Laguna Seca circuit (June 2009)
‘Everybody has got it. Traction control, anti-wheelie control, frickin' scratch-your-ass-while-you’re-racing control; whatever control it is, there's always some new thing they’re coming out with ... Our cornering speeds right now are so just astronomical that if you didn't have traction control, man, you would be in orbit every other frickin race.’
On the use of electronics in MotoGP (July 2009)
Man, Colin, we don’t know what to say. We just hope you win a race in MotoGP before you quit, you old dog!
Via Roadracing World, Indianapolis MotoGP
This is the only 2WD Yamaha R1 in existence and MCN's Trevor Franklin managed to snag a ride on the machine! And he came away suitably impressed, too
Much has been said and written on two-wheel-drive (2WD) on motorcycles. Of course, since 2WD motorcycles are about as common as one-wheel-drive cars, few have ridden or even seen one. And yet, a lot of people – including us – are quite fascinated with the idea of a 2WD sportsbike.
Back in March this year, Mark Gardiner managed to speak to Lars Jansson, who headed R&D work on Yamaha’s 2WD prototype R1, which was fitted with Ohlins’ 2-Trac system. We carried some excerpts from that conversation here. Now, MCN’s Trevor Franklin has actually ridden the 2WD R1, which is the only one of its kind in existence, at the Karlskoga circuit in Sweden. Here are some excerpts from what he has to say about the machine:
Although not leaning like a racer looking for a podium, I consider the angle of lean to be enough, with a handful of throttle, to feel the rear squirm. There’s a slight sensation of the front wheel trying to pick itself upright. And the bike as a whole appears to tighten up, become immediately stable with the loose, floaty feel from the headstock replaced with a tauter feel. At the same time, the bike pulls without fuss.
The slight front wheel twitch, for want of a better word, is like a signal to try harder. This ‘twitch’ fades to nothing as the pace picks up and dry lines appear. With a touch more circuit knowledge the R1 can now be used in anger. Brakes, throttle, suspension, tires… are all provoked. Strange but true, the bike makes me feel a lot more confident.
Chasing down the rider in front leads to bravery. Braking far too late, I peel in on the brakes and where I should have my left knee over the kerbing, I’m about six feet off line. Running wide it looks like the R1 is going to go grass cutting as I exit too fast towards the outside of the track where it is sopping wet. As I start to steer the bike tighter, I immediately get the gut-wrenching sensation the front is about to wash out. I nail the throttle in the hope the bike will straighten up and take to the grass for a softer fall. Then something magical happens: the bike smoothes out and literally drives (or pulls?) me around the outside of the track. Now what’s this all about? Has 2WD really saved my overweight carcass?
It’s the same story for the next two laps. Where the track is damp the bike instils enough confidence to open the throttle a lot more savagely than I would ever normally do. And more lean, way too much lean, does show the 2WD system isn’t infallible as the rear eventually breaks traction enough to cause a wide slide and out of seat experience. It’s more luck, than anything, the bike doesn’t go down.
The bike inspires enough confidence to open the throttle earlier and harder. And even though the rear end can be felt moving around, squirming and slipping in protest, the front of bike remains perfectly stable when it should be unsettled around the headstock. Bizarre. The bike feels different – with a strange taut, alert feeling to the front wheel, almost as if it’s electrified.
The effect is simply to make the bike feel as if it’s doing more of the road-reading and corner-assessing for you. Instead of tipping the bike in on damp corners and feeling (in my case hoping) for grip before driving through and trying again a bit faster next time, it’s as if the front wheel has scouted out ahead already and is telegraphing the message back that everything’s okay – come on, gas it.
Ok, as a cynic of anything that’s claimed to aid safety, I’m very, very impressed with the Ohlins 2WD system. As an aid to rider safety it is a perfectly executed plan. It surely won’t detract from our road riding pleasure and, as tested briefly by yours truly, will help in situations where you’d think the inevitable will happen. But like ABS and traction control, it is not going to save everyone in every situation – even these aids will see you on your arse if you ride outside their set parameters.
Now, the best part is, 2WD on motorcycles may still happen someday, perhaps even in the near future. According to those involved with the project at Ohlins, Yamaha may still consider fitting 2WD on the R1 [and, we suppose, other bikes…] in the next year or three. A 170kg, 200bhp YZF-R1 with 2WD? YES, PLEASE!!!
For the full story, visit Motorcycle-USA here
A video of the 2WD Yamaha R1 being test ridden by the guys at MCN
Yamaha are now taking orders on the 2010 VMax, which is now also being offered in red. Mr Max’s calling card is still, of course, its 1.7-litre, 200 horsepower engine that absolutely hauls ass in a straight line. We could talk about electronics and YCC-T and YCC-I but we don’t really care. What we – and you, probably – are more interested in is that Mr Max goes from zero to 100km/h in 2.66 seconds and is capable of doing the standing quarter-mile (400m) in less than 10 seconds.
The fully adjustable suspension and Brembo brakes with ABS help things in the corners, but the VMax lives for the straights. This time around, however, it’s a bit more expensive – US$19,500 instead of the 2009 model’s $18,000. But that’s all right. We’ll go by what Dirck Edge and Jeff Whitmer of Motorcycle Daily have to say about Mr Max. ‘We've ridden them all. The ZX-14. The Vulcan 2000 with its 2,053cc V-twin. The Hayabusa. And the Honda Rune with its 1,832cc flat six fed by a half dozen throttle bodies. Nothing leaves a stop light like the new VMax. The VMax is laying down more than 100 pound/feet of torque at the rear tyre before inline-fours like the ZX-14 and Hayabusa have finished clearing their throats. Like many things in life, it is something you have to experience to fully appreciate and understand,’ they say. Amen.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Harley V-Max vs Yamaha V-Muscle. Doesn't sound right? Umm... well...
V-Max vs V-Rod Muscle isn’t the first shootout most people would think of. And that’s probably because on paper, the Harley is comprehensively outgunned by the Yamaha. Mr Max is fitted with an almighty 1,697cc V4 that pumps out 200 horsepower at 9,000rpm and 167Nm of torque at 6,500 revs. The V-Rod Muscle pales in comparison, with its 1,250cc V-twin, which only makes 122bhp at 8,250rpm and 110Nm of torque at 7,000rpm.
So is it over before it’s started? Is there no match-up here at all? Toff magazine don’t think so and they’ve gone ahead and pitted the two bikes against each other. Here are some excerpts from what they have to say:
The V-Rod, which isn’t exactly dainty, is still a lot smaller than the V-Max, despite the two bikes having an identical wheelbase of 1,700mm. The Max is significantly taller and wider and the difference is immediately apparent as soon as you get on these bikes. The V-Max’s seat height is a challenging 775mm while the V-Rod’s is a rather more accessible 640mm.
Seat height apart, the two bikes have very different seating positions. The V-Max has a comfortable, upright seating position that’s ideal for cruising along at a fast clip. The V-Rod Muscle’s footpegs make you stretch your legs forward and its handlebars make you reach out much further ahead – it is, of course, the traditional Harley riding position.