Friday, October 16, 2009

Darren Haley builds ‘night vision’ system for his BMW R1150GS

In the dark, Darren Hayley's night vision system improves visibility beyond what a conventional headlamp can provide
Via Wired

Back in June this year, we had speculated that the 2010 Kawasaki 1400GTR might get ‘night vision’ technology, which is already being fitted to some high-end cars. Now while that hasn’t happened, 34-year-old Darren Haley – who works at Flir, a leader in thermal imaging technology – has prepared his own ‘night vision’ system for his BMW R1150GS.

Haley’s system consists of an infrared camera mounted above the bike’s right turn indicator (see pic above), which feeds its video stream on to the on-board GPS unit’s screen. In the dark, the camera picks up objects that can’t be seen with the naked eye and which the bike’s headlamp fails to reveal. ‘I use it like I would a rear-view or side-view mirror. The display allows you to see the lines of the road without having to look at oncoming cars’ headlights,’ says Haley. Indeed, used judiciously, the infrared camera-based night vision system might be an invaluable safety feature on bikes.

The camera used on Haley’s system is shockproof and weatherproof, though the GPS unit’s display has to be protected from bad weather. Still, that can’t be an insurmountable challenge and Haley continues to develop and refine the system. He thinks a mainstream manufacturer could produce this system and sell it for less than $2,000. We think it’s a brilliant idea and we hope some motorcycle manufacturer likes it, picks it up and develops it further.

Claudio Castiglioni: ‘We must now go forward and resume interrupted work!’

Claudio Castiglioni, former owner of MV Agusta, remains confident that the company will continue to operate without trouble and will only grow in the near future

Within hours of Harley-Davidson announcing that they will shut down Buell and sell MV Agusta, Motociclismo were able to speak to Claudio Castiglioni, from whom Harley had bought MV last year and who still continues to head MV operations in Italy.

‘We are preparing to put up a great show at EICMA in Milan this year, where MV will unveil two new bikes. It would have been better for us had this news [of Harley’s decision to sell MV] come out later. But I am told this news had to be released immediately due to the requirements of the American Stock Exchange. But, perhaps, it’s just as well. MV is a strong brand, loved by all. The bikes that we will present at EICMA will be even more appreciated,’ said Castiglioni.

‘After Tamburini left us, our capacity to do another great bike had been diminished. So we must now go forward and resume interrupted work. To be honest, I think it would be logical – from the business perspective – that MV should move back into Italian ownership,’ said Castiglioni, perhaps implying that he might actually purchase MV back from Harley!

Here at Faster and Faster, we are very big fans of MV Agusta – we absolutely love the marque, the brand and their utterly gorgeous motorcycles – and we’d certainly be happy to see MV ownership return to Italy. It would also be great to see Massimo Tamburini return to MV and design their next supersports machine. Wishful thinking? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesn’t stop us from dreaming…

Buell to be shut down, MV Agusta to be sold: Harley-Davidson unveils new business strategy

In a shocking statement released to the press yesterday, Harley-Davidson have announced that they will shut down Buell completely and stop production of all Buell motorcycles. The company will also sell MV Agusta, which it only acquired in 2008.

These decisions come in the wake of declining sales and revenues for Harley. Sales were down 21% during the third quarter this year, net income was down 84% and earnings per share were down 84.5% for Harley-Davidson. ‘Moving forward, our strategy is designed to strengthen Harley-Davidson for long-term growth and deliver results through increased focus,’ said Keith Wandell, CEO, Harley-Davidson Inc.

‘As our announcement regarding Buell and MV Agusta indicates, we are moving with the speed and decisiveness required to bring our business strategy to life. The fact is we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful, long-term growth. We believe we can create a bright long-term future for our stakeholders through a single-minded focus on the Harley-Davidson brand,’ said Wandell.

Harley-Davidson expect to incur about $125 million in one-time costs related to the discontinuation of the Buell product line. The company expects to incur about $115 million of that amount this year. Remaining inventories of Buell motorcycles, accessories and apparel, while they last, will continue to be sold through authorized dealerships. Warranty coverage will continue as normal for Buell motorcycles and Harley will provide replacement parts and service through its dealerships.

Harley will, with immediate effect, also begin efforts to find a suitable buyer for MV Agusta, which is based in Varese, Italy. 'Our objective in acquiring MV Agusta last year was primarily to expand our presence in Europe, and was a recognition of MV Agusta's proud legacy. While growth in Europe and other global markets remains highly important to us, we believe that focusing our efforts on the Harley-Davidson brand is the optimal path to sustainable growth," said Matt Levatich, President and COO, Harley-Davidson. 'This decision was not made lightly, [however] with a streamlined business and an exciting product pipeline. we sincerely believe that MV Agusta is well positioned for the future,' he added.

We really don’t know how to react to this piece of news. Harley deciding to sell MV isn’t that big a deal – in fact we wonder why they bought Harley at all since there seem to be no business synergies whatsoever between the two brands. If anything, MV will probably be better off being sold to a more appropriate (preferably European) buyer who can focus completely on the MV brand.

However, Buell being shut down is a major shock. The company has, over the last few years, built some truly exciting, innovative motorcycles and the brand to suddenly disappear is certainly a terrible thing to happen. (Some might remember, UK's BIKE magazine once rated the Buell XB12R Firebolt as the world's best handling motorcycle, ahead of various GSX-Rs, Ducatis, KTMs, Hondas and Yamahas!) Our understanding of the business of motorcycles may be limited, but we do wonder why Harley wouldn’t sell – rather than shut down – Buell to an outside investor who’s prepared to invest in the brand and continue growing it?

Definitely a dark, sad day for the motorcycle industry and for motorcyclists everywhere, regardless of whether or not you actually own or ride a Buell motorcycle. Our sympathies are with Buell employees, most of whom will lose their current jobs by mid-December this year.

Erik Buell speaks about Harley's decision to discontinue the Buell brand. Erik may continue to work with Harley-Davidson in an advisory capacity

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan ride in Melbourne to promote the Australian MotoGP

Aussie legends Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan put on a 'demo ride' in Melbourne today, as part of a build-up to this weekend's Australian MotoGP


As part of a build-up for this weekend’s Australian MotoGP, Wayne Gardner (1987 500cc MotoGP world champ) and Mick Doohan (1994-1998 500cc MotoGP world champ) rode across the city of Melbourne today, on their Honda Fireblades.

Wayne Gardner was in the news recently, when he expressed his views on Casey Stoner’s mysterious break from racing. However, Gardner also said his money would be on Stoner for winning this year’s Australian MotoGP.

In an interesting aside, Valentino Rossi’s chief mechanic, Jeremy Burgess recently spoke of how multi-time MotoGP world champs Rossi and Doohan are different. ‘When a rider like Mick or Valentino strings a number of world championships together, it’s clear that they are in a different group. Certainly, they are very different in the box. Valentino is happy-go-lucky, but still very serious about his job and enjoys it very much. Mick certainly was more intense. He was serious about what he did and achieved plenty. You could look at it in one sentence and say that Valentino enjoys the racing whereas Mick Doohan enjoyed the winning,’ said Burgess, who has worked with both riders and has been instrumental in their success over the years.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2010 Vyrus 987 C3 4V: Fastest, most powerful production bike in the world may be unveiled at the EICMA this year

The new Vyrus 987 C3 4V is likely to be similar in appearance to earlier Vyrus machines, but in terms of power and technology, it would be in a different world

Ascanio Rodorigo, who worked with Massimo Tamburini at Bimota in the early-1980s, and who now runs his own motorcycle company – Vyrus – has something of a shocker in store for high-performance motorcycle enthusiasts around the world. At this year’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy, Vyrus will show its latest superbike – the 987 C3 4v – which will be fitted with the 1198cc L-twin from the Ducati 1198.

According to MCN, three versions of the Vyrus 987 C3 4V will be available, with the 170bhp, 163 kilo base model being launched towards the end of this year. A higher-spec 987 C3 4V R will pack 184bhp and weigh as little as 158 kilos, while the top-end version will get a supercharger, boosting power output to 211bhp. This bike, which will weigh about 154 kilos, will be the fastest, most powerful production bike in the world. That’s right, the supercharged Vyrus 987 will be lighter and more powerful than a Kawasaki ZZR1400, Yamaha VMax, Ducati Desmosedici RR, Ducati 1198S and the MV Agusta F4 1078RR.

211bhp for the street? Yes indeed. ‘Everybody will be able to ride it without killing themselves. The main drama is the light weight, not so much the power,’ says Rodorigo, speaking to MCN. ‘It turns easily into corners and the stability grows the closer you get to the limit. It’s incredibly confidence building,’ he adds.

The new Vyrus will be equipped with state-of-the-art electronics, including a race-spec traction control system, to allow riders to handle all that power. The bike’s innovative chassis, with hub-centre steering and front swingarm instead of the usual fork, is inherently very stable and will be refined and optimised further for the new 987.

You would probably expect the Vyrus 987 to be very expensive and you would be right, of course. According to MCN, the base model will be priced at £44,000 (US$69,500), the R version will cost £50,000 (US$79,000) and the supercharged version will carry a price tag of £71,000 (US$112,000). Whew!

We hope to bring more details on the new Vyrus 987 soon, so stay tuned!

Ascanio Rodorigo speaks about the Vyrus way of building bikes. Interesting!

Wayne Gardner says Stoner’s absence was ‘suspicious’

Wayne Gardner says he was surprised and mystified by Stoner's decision to sit out a few races in the 2009 MotoGP season, without giving any proper explanation for the same

Wayne Gardner, who won the 500cc motorcycle GP racing world championship in 1987, has expressed his views on fellow Australian Casey Stoner choosing to skip some races this year, due to an unexplained illness. ‘It's very suspicious. I wish there had have been some sort of answer to it, that he'd come out with some sort of answer, because there is certainly an air of mystery to it,’ said Gardner, speaking to Aussie newspaper, The Age.

‘I personally haven't ever seen anyone just stop for a rest during the year in my time of grand prix racing. It's certainly an unanswered question. I don't think it puts a question mark on him as a competitor but it would just be nice to know what was the reasoning for it. I think he probably needs to come up with some answers,’ said Gardner, who was definitely one of the toughest, most competitive racers of his time.

‘I don't tell him how to ride his bike and that's the way he does things. But it's certainly very unusual and very unique that someone stops and has a rest for three or four races in the middle of the year and then comes back out and races and says, ‘I'm better now,’’ says Gardner. ‘It shows you what a talent he is and hopefully he can keep that up for the rest of the year,’ he adds, saying that while this year’s Australian GP could be won by either Rossi, Lorenzo or Stoner, his money is on Casey.

Also see Casey Stoner vs Kevin Schwantz

We did an exclusive interview with Wayne Gardner, back in 2006. See here

Sunday, October 11, 2009

BMW F800R Chris Pfeiffer: Riding impression

Despite the racy appearance, the F800R Chris Pfeiffer edition remains a practical, comfortable and all-around competent bike that's perfect for riding in the city

BMW had announced the Chris Pfeiffer edition F800R earlier this year and we thought the bike looked rather cool. Now, since they’re only making 68 units of this machine, you aren’t very likely to see one in your neighbourhood, ever. But that didn’t stop the guys at Motociclismo from getting their hands on one. Here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the CP-edition F800R:

The special edition F800R has been built to look like Chris Pfeiffer’s stunt bike, so it gets the the red-white-and-blue colours, Akrapovic exhaust, black (rear) and white (front) wheels, LED turn indicators and red rear shock.

Since BMW wanted the F800R CP to be able to perform like the real stunt bike, they’ve also increased the engine oil capacity (an extra two litres) for added reliability, and bolted on bits like Magura handlebars, a shorter brake pedal and an idle adjustment knob. The engine has been modified for smoother power delivery and more low-rpm torque, so pulling wheelies should now be easier than ever.

The F800R CP is nice and responsive, if not hugely powerful. It’s the ideal bike for riding in the city and less experienced riders will appreciate its smooth, progressive power delivery. Also, the Akrapovic system improves upon the standard bike’s exhaust note and maybe even provides a minor performance boost.

The front fork is, perhaps, a bit too stiff for normal street use, the brakes are powerful and have good ‘feel,’ and the on-board computer provides all the information you could ever want. And apart from its capabilities, the F800R CP also gets you lots of attention – everybody looks when you stop at traffic lights, as if you’re riding a full-on racebike on the streets. But if you leave aside that ‘image,’ this is a comfortable bike that’s easy to ride and comes with helpful extras like heated grips and optional ABS.

The F800R CP edition is a very practical, all-around competent bike and as a bonus, some people will think you’re Chris Pfeiffer when they see you on this bike. And that’s a good deal!

BMW F800R Chris Pfeiffer: Tech Specs

Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, 798cc parallel-twin
Power: 89bhp@8,000rpm
Torque: 85Nm@6,000rpm
Gearbox: Six-speed
Final drive: Chain
Chassis: Aluminium twin-spar, aluminium swingarm
Suspension: 43mm fork (front), adjustable monoshock (rear)
Brakes: Twin 320mm discs with four-piston callipers (front), single 265mm disc (rear)
Wheels: 17-inch
Tyres: 120/70 (front), 180/55 (rear)
Claimed dry/wet weights: 171kg/199kg


Zero to 100km/h: 4.2 seconds
Standing kilometre: 23 seconds
Top speed: 220km/h
Average fuel consumption: 5.9 litres/100km

For the original article, please visit the Motociclismo website here