Monday, November 23, 2009

2010 Kawasaki Z1000: Riding impression

Kawasaki Z1000Kawasaki Z1000Kawasaki Z1000
More powerful and hard-edged than before, the 2010 Kawasaki Z1000 has been built to take on the best super nakeds from Europe...

The 2010 Kawasaki Z1000, with its new styling, 1,043cc inline-four engine (which replaces the old 953cc mill) and new aluminium beam frame, looks all set to take on hard-core streetfighters from Europe. While the earlier Z was a bit soft when compared with machines like the Ducati Streetfighter, MV Agusta Brutale and Triumph Speed Triple, the new one looks fit enough to brawl with those bikes.

So, while it promises much on paper, is the new Z1000 really all that good in the real world? The guys at MotorBox recently had the opportunity to ride the bike, and here are some excerpts what they have to say about the Big Kaw:

The new Z1000’s engine and high-spec chassis and suspension make this the first real Japanese streetfighter. When it was first launched in 2003, the Z1000 only had the Aprilia Tuono and the Triumph Speed Triple to contend with. Now, the third generation bike has more competition to deal with, and Kawasaki have revamped the machine completely to make sure it stays on top of the super nakeds heap. The price, at 10,590 euro (11,190 euro for the version with ABS), is also very attractive.

The new Z’s styling epitomises Kawasaki’s penchant for sharp, edgy lines, and as an overall package – huge fuel tank tapering down to that slender tail section – works well. Okay, maybe there’s a bit too much of plastic here, but standing still, the bike looks quite aggressive and dynamic. And, of course, that exhaust system (much shorter and lighter now, as compared to the 2009 model) remains an instantly recognisable style element.

Kawasaki Z1000Kawasaki Z1000Kawasaki Z1000

Kawasaki have also gone in for ‘mass centralisation’ on the new Z, tilting the new 1,043cc engine (which produces 138 horsepower at 9,600rpm and 110Nm of torque at 7,800rpm) forward by five degrees and altering its fitment in the chassis, in order to improve the bike’s handling. The new aluminium chassis, lighter and with 30% more torsional rigidity than the old bike’s frame, has been designed in accordance with the principles used on the Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja. And among other things, it has resulted in a motorcycle that’s actually quite slim and that weighs only 218kg (with all fluids and fuel).

In addition to the reduced weight, the new Z-bike is also more compact than the old one and the completely redesigned rear suspension now uses a monoshock that’s mounted almost horizontally, with a progressive linkage. The 41mm USD fork is adjustable and the presence of anti-lock brakes is comforting. Reflecting the bike’s newfound personality, the riding position is now more aggressive, with more weight on the front end, which feels quite appropriate.

On the move, the new Z1000 is much more responsive than the old one. Not only is the new engine simply phenomenal, the electronics are all very well sorted out, eliminating any jerkiness and/or inconsistent behaviour. Between 4,500-10,000rpm, the four-cylinder engine pushes really hard and the bike’s acceleration almost matches that of an MV Brutale which we rode here earlier.

Kawasaki Z1000Kawasaki Z1000Kawasaki Z1000

With gear ratios perfectly matched to the engine and with its killer mid-range power delivery, the new Z is an absolute joy to ride. During our very fast 170km ride across the magnificent roads in Spain, we did notice some vibration creeping in at around 7,500 revs in sixth gear, but that shouldn’t be a problem because spending extended amounts of time at those speeds will anyway result in an immediate confiscation of your driving license. At more sane speeds, vibration is just about unnoticeable on the bike.

While the new, more powerful engine is a joy to use, what’s even better is that improvements in the chassis department have kept pace with the engine. At high speeds, the new chassis keeps the bike very planted and stable, and there isn’t a hint of nervousness or uncertainty here. Even with a passenger on board, the Kawasaki's behaviour remains impeccable, and the suspension works very well indeed. Yes, this is a well balanced, manageable and responsive motorcycle that can take all the hard cornering you can throw at it, though the chassis/suspension setup is a bit too stiff for bad, uneven roads.

Overall, this is a fine bike. The new Z1000 costs less than most comparable super nakeds from Europe and yet it manages to equal their outright performance.

And here's what the guys at MCN have to say about the new Z1000...

Via MotorBox

BMW S1000RR: Riding impression

With 193bhp at the crank, the BMW S1000RR is the most powerful litre-class bike in production and offers stunning levels of performance on the track

It may not have the race-proven heritage of a GSX-R, ZX-R, CBR-RR or YZF-R, but the BMW S1000RR has something which its litre-class competition doesn’t – an inline-four that makes all of 193 horsepower at the crank. Indeed, with a (claimed) 180bhp at the rear wheel, the S1000RR is the most powerful of all current litre-class production bikes. And with a top speed of 290km/h, it’s also the fastest.

Consider the spec – an engine that revs to 14,200rpm, cutting-edge engine management, ABS and DTC traction control systems, a ‘gearshift assistant’ feature that allows full-throttle upshifts without using the clutch, track-optimised aluminium chassis and optional Akrapovic exhaust system. Then there’s the fully adjustable 46mm front fork, lightweight aluminium wheels, high-spec Brembo brakes with four-piston radial-mount callipers and a claimed dry weight of 182 kilos. The S1000RR sure looks like it’s been built with a single-minded focus – to go around a racetrack as fast as possible. And with prices starting at US$13,800 (European prices start at around 16,000 euro for the basic model, and 17,400 euro for the bike with ABS and DTC), the bike isn’t all that expensive either.

The guys over at MotorBox recently had the opportunity to test ride the S1000RR at the Portimao circuit in Portugal, and they came away with some interesting observations. Here are some excerpts from their test report:

Creating a brand-new sportsbike powered by an inline-four couldn’t have been an easy task even for a company like BMW, whose prowess with technology is second to none. Also, the bike comes at a time when the market for big sportsbikes seems to be slowing down a bit. Still, BMW really believe in this product, which they admit has been engineered for an audience that’s external to the brand – people who have until now been riding Japanese or Italian bikes.


To begin with, there isn’t anything incredibly original about the S1000RR, there isn’t much ‘out of the box’ thinking here. All the bits – the inline-four engine, the aluminium double beam frame and even the high-tech electronics – it’s all been done before by other manufacturers. And yet, the bike has a very sophisticated engine, with titanium valves, two fuel injectors per cylinder and ride-by-wire throttle control. It produces 193bhp and 112Nm of torque at 13,000rpm and 9,750rpm respectively, and the 14,200rpm redline is very high for a litre-bike engine. With its dry weight of 182kg, the S1000RR has the best power-to-weight ratio in its segment.

And if the engine is powerful, the rest of the package – including the chassis, suspension and the electronics – has been engineered to allow the rider to fully exploit all that power. On this bike, the optional electronics – Race ABS and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) – have been designed specifically for use on a supersports machine and are there to help you go faster rather than just rein in all that Bavarian horsepower.

The S1000RR’s DTC system is very high-tech and apart from the detecting difference in front and rear wheels speeds, its sensors can also detect the bike’s angle of lean, on the basis of which it decides when and by how much to reduce power. There are four modes – rain, sport, race and slick, with the last one being recommended for track use only, with race-compound slick tyres. As you move from rain to sport and race modes, power delivery becomes increasingly direct and aggressive, while the role of ABS and DTC is progressively reduced. In ‘slick’ mode, ABS does not work on the bike’s rear wheel and the traction control is dialled back to an absolute minimum. Both systems can also be disabled completely, if the rider wants it so.

Coming to the styling, well, some will definitely think that it’s rather ugly. The asymmetrical fairing and headlight is what you’d typically expect from BMW, but maybe there’s something to be said for the German company refusing to conform to other manufacturers’ idea of ‘beauty.’


Coming to the riding experience, the S1000RR was very well suited to the very demanding Portimao circuit. The riding position is just about okay, though the bike’s handlebars seem to be more suited to the track than the street. We started the ride with the DTC in ‘rain’ mode, in order to get familiar with the bike and understand how its electronics really work. The response from the bike’s ride-by-wire throttle is absolutely perfect and in the low-threshold rain mode, if you open the throttle at the wrong time, the computers simply refuse to delivery power to the rear wheel. There are, however, no jolts or sudden jerky movement – everything happens very smoothly, with the electronics working hard to remain as unobtrusive as possible.

In sport mode, the bike really comes alive and from 7,000rpm upwards, power delivery becomes furious, lofting the front wheel effortlessly in third gear and blasting the bike down hundreds of yards before you even remember to roll back the throttle. Suddenly, those 193 horses make their presence felt in a very big way. In fact, you begin to wonder if the bike might actually be making a bit more. When we tested the Ducati 1198 on this track earlier, the fastest we did was 259km/h. With the BMW, it was 279km/h and we knew there was more to come.

Things become a bit more abrupt in race mode, especially while exiting corners, and it seems the DTC system often has to work overtime to keep things in check. To quote one example, if you crank open the throttle with the bike still fully leant over, the bike will not respond till the computers deem it’s upright enough, and then all the horsepower comes stampeding in, in a rush. Still, the DTC is always very smooth and consistent, and remains as unobtrusive as possible.

In terms of handling, the S1000RR probably isn’t as agile as a Honda CBR1000RR or Aprilia RSV4, but is still a remarkably balanced package. On the Portimao circuit, the bike felt light and accurate, and very little suspension tweaking was needed to make the bike work. With Metzeler Raceteck K3 rubber, grip was never an issue and a best lap time of 1:57 speaks for itself.

Riding this BMW felt really different from anything else that we’ve previously ridden. Yes, the S1000RR is a remarkable bike – not just because of the outright performance it offers, but also for the ease with which that performance can be accessed by the rider.

And here's a video of MCN's report on the BMW S1000RR
image host

Via MotorBox

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Suzuki Katana 1100: Retro streetfighter done right!

Suzuki KatanaSuzuki KatanaSuzuki Katana
This has to be the coolest Katana ever...

Here’s one absolutely fabulous looking Suzuki Katana that’s been at the receiving end of an expensive, very well executed makeover. The UK-based Steve Adams, who owns this bike, seems to have spent a fortune on doing up this classic Suzuki from the 1980s, and it is money well spent.

The list of mods for Steve’s Katana is very long, but here’s a quick look at some of the more significant bits and pieces: 1,170cc Wiseco piston kit, gas flowed head, EFE 1100 cams with adjustable cam sprockets, Keihin 37mm carbs, titanium bolts throughout the engine and custom-built titanium exhaust system from Racefit.

The Katana’s front fork is from a K4 GSX-R750, rear shocks are Ohlins units and the brakes are a mix of components from a Yamaha R1 and Suzuki TL1000, with Brembo radial master cylinder and thumb-operated rear brake. The stock chassis has been heavily braced in all key areas for increased stiffness, the swingarm is from a Suzuki Bandit 1200 and the bike rides on 17-inch Dymag magnesium alloy wheels.

Performance specs aren’t available, but the Katana sure looks icy-cool and insanely lust-worthy. Good job, Steve!

Via Visual Gratification, Steve Adams

2010 Campagna T-Rex 14RR announced

Campagna T-RexCampagna T-RexCampagna T-Rex
The Campagna T-Rex - possibly the most fun you can have when you're not on two wheels...

Based in Montreal, Canada, Campagna Motors have announced the 2010 T-Rex 14RR, which has to be the coolest, wildest trike in the whole world. Fitted with a Kawasaki 1,352cc inline-four that pumps out 197 horsepower, and a sequential six-speed gearbox, the T-Rex 14RR accelerates from zero to 96km/h in 3.9 seconds and hits a top speed of 230km/h.

With its fibreglass bodywork, the three-wheeled T-Rex RR rides on 16-inch (front) and 18-inch (rear) wheels, can carry two people and some luggage and weighs 472 kilos dry. It does cost quite a bit – US$56,500 and above – but we’d still love to have a ’Rex for those two-up Sunday morning blasts around our favourite set of mountain roads…

Campagna T-RexCampagna T-RexCampagna T-Rex

Harley-Davidson enlist BNP Paribas to help with MV Agusta sale

Harley-Davidson have selected investment banking firm BNP Paribas to help them with selling MV Agusta. ‘MV Agusta is a highly desirable company for the right buyer. It has a proud heritage and strong brand, high-quality, exciting and beautiful products, and passionate enthusiasm on the part of its customers, employees and dealers. We are confident in our expectation that we will identify an appropriate buyer,’ says Harley-Davidson Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, John Olin.

While Harley-Davidson are trying to project that all is well at MV, nobody really seems to know if that is true. The beleaguered Italian manufacturer recently unveiled new F4 and Brutale bikes at this year’s EICMA Show in Milan, but minor differences in styling apart, these are essentially the same bike that MV have been offering for years. The company probably needs money – large amounts of it – for developing all-new bikes, which could include smaller, less expensive machines (sports 600s maybe?) in order to expand their customer base.

We absolutely love MV Agusta and their utterly beautiful, gorgeous machines. And we hope they find a buyer who can invest sufficient amounts of money into the company in order to strengthen its operations in a big way. After downing the shutters on Buell, we hope Harley won’t botch MV’s future as well…

Ducati Desmosedici RR vs Ferrari F430

It's the old bike vs car test again. A bit pointless really, but who can resist watching a few minutes of on-track action with the Ducati Desmosedici RR taking on a Ferrari F430 Scuderia. Have fun...

Erik Buell chucks up his job at Harley, sets up independent race shop

With his new race shop, Erik Buell will strike to make sure his 1125R race bikes keep flying. Which is just as well because Buell and his bikes definitely deserve another chance...

Erik Buell, Chairman and CTO of the erstwhile Buell Motorcycle Company, has decided to leave Harley-Davidson and set up his own, independent motorcycle race shop. According to Harley, it suffered losses on the sale of Buell motorcycles for more than a decade, hence the recent decision to shut down Buell for good. Erik Buell however wants to make sure that those who bought Buell motorcycles to go racing remain in action in the foreseeable future.

‘I’m looking forward to helping Buell racers keep their bikes flying. We’ve got some exciting race development projects in the works and it will mean a lot to me personally to see Buell racers competing for wins and championships in the 2010 season and beyond,’ says Erik. ‘I’m pleased that Harley-Davidson is assisting Erik in establishing this business to continue supporting the racing efforts he has had so much passion for over the years. Harley-Davidson will always be proud of their affiliation with Erik, and we wish him well in this new endeavour to support Buell racers,’ adds Buell President and COO, Jon Flickinger.

Based in East Troy, Wisconsin, in the US, the new company – Erik Buell Racing – will specialize in the supply of race-use-only Buell motorcycle parts and race preparation services for engines and motorcycles, and the building and sale of Buell 1125R-based racing bikes, under license from Harley-Davidson. The company will also provide technical support for Buell race bikes.

We’re happy that the Buell name lives on and we’re quite sure that someday, one way or the other, Erik will also start making streetbikes again.

Erik Buell announces his new company...

Wayne Gardner rides all the 2009 WSBK bikes, likes the Aprilia RSV4

Wayne Gardner, who won the 1987 500cc motorcycle grand prix racing world title aboard a Honda NSR500, recently rode all the 2009 WSBK machines at the Portimao circuit in Portugal. And which machine did he like the best? No, not the Honda Fireblade, but the Aprilia RSV4! Also, he says the Yamaha R1 probably has the best engine, but doesn't handle all that well, which makes Ben Spies championship win even more impressive. Watch the video for more...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2010 MV Agusta F4 judged less beautiful than the Ducati Multistrada 1200!

New promo video for the 2010 MV Agusta F4, where the bike looks and sounds absolutely fabulous. Is the Ducati Multistrada 1200 more beautiful than the new F4? You've got to be kidding...

In a poll conducted by Italian magazine Motociclismo, during this year's EICMA Show, the new MV Agusta F4 finished a distant second to the Ducati Multistrada 1200 in the 'beauty' department. The Multistrada 1200 took first place with 48.9% votes, followed by the MV F4 in second place (19.8%), Aprilia RSV4 R in third place (15.8%), BMW S1000RR in fourth place (4.5%) and Kawasaki Z1000 in fifth (2.4%).

Other bikes in the beautiful top 14 list included (from sixth to 14th places) the Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX 1200 (1.9%), Suzuki GSX-R750 (1.8%), Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Special (1.5%), Triupmh Rocket III Roadster (1.1%), Husqvarna SM630 (0.8%), Cagiva Mito SP525 (0.5%), Benelli 2ue (0.4%), Derbi GPR 125 (0.4%) and Hyosung Aquila GV700 (0.2%). The Ducati 1198R Corse did not make the list at all... :-D

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BMW HP2 Sport Motorsport to go on sale in Europe in 2010

The 2010 BMW HP2 Sport Motorsport looks handsome in a brutish sort of way...
BMW HP2 Sport MotorsportBMW HP2 Sport MotorsportBMW HP2 Sport Motorsport

BMW have announced a limited edition version of the HP2 Sport – the HP2 Sport Motorsport – only 400 units of which will be built. The paintjob comes from BMW’s HP2 endurance racer, the boxer-twin churns out 133 horsepower and 115Nm of torque and the bike weighs 178 kilos dry. The bike will only be available in Europe, though prices haven’t been announced yet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Suter SRT500: A 500cc two-stroke MotoGP bike that 'anyone' can buy

The Suter SRT500 should be a mind-blowing ride...

Swiss company Suter Racing is working on a two-stroke high-performance trackday special for those who want something more intense than an R1 and who are also rich enough to be able to afford such a machine.

Tentatively named the Suter SRT500, the bike will be powered by a 500cc two-stroke V4 engine that spits out 200 horsepower. Chassis will be from the Ilmor 2007 MotoGP bike and while the base model Suter will cost 50,000 euros, buyers will have the option to fit bits like carbonfibre wheels, race-spec suspension, titanium exhaust and assorted other exotica, taking the price up to 90,000 euros.

‘The bike will be powerful but easy enough for everyone to ride, until you try to squeeze the last few seconds of lap time out of it. If you have a nice torque curve and throttle connection you don’t need traction control – that’s for bikes with damaged torque curves, like highly-tuned four-strokes,’ says Eskil Suter, who heads Suter Racing.

Eskil also says that conventional four-stroke MotoGP bikes will feel like a tractor, compared to his two-stroke machine. ‘There was never really a proper 500cc V4 two-stroke that people could buy. I wanted to build a 500cc bike that anyone could buy,’ he says. Hmm… at 50,000-90,000 euros, we suppose Mr Suter’s definition of ‘anyone’ is certainly different from ours. But, still, we love the idea – the bike should be a phenomenal amount of fun for those who’re able to buy one. More information here

The Suzuki GSX-R that built itself...

Some say there are Suzuki GSX-Rs that can build themselves, with no help from human beings. All we know is, they might be right...! 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shootout: BMW F800R vs Benelli TNT 899S

BMW F800R takes on the Benelli TNT 899S...

If ever there were two motorcycles that completely represent the sensibilities of the countries they come from – and probably the men that build them – it’s the BMW F800R and Benelli TNT 899S. The first is all straightforward no-frills practicality and stern demeanour, while the second one is all lush curves, dramatic style and Latin passion. But how do the two stack up in the real world? Toff magazine conducted a shootout between the two and here are some excerpts:

It’s like comparing a pit bull with a sheep – one is a bit extreme, the other merely good-natured. The Benelli, with its shining metallic orange paintwork and aggressive stance, is typically Italian. In comparison, the BMW is barely noticeable and barely audible – almost like a scooter!

Indeed, the BMW does not deign to come down to other bikes’ levels of juvenility – it remains reserved and almost intellectual – it isn’t for the sausage eating crowd. The F800R’s 89bhp parallel twin feels lively and likes revving hard, but when the throttles are wrenched open, the 120bhp TNT 899S pulls away from the BMW without much effort. The BMW feels less powerful and more softly sprung, though its chassis works quite well and feels better than the Benelli on bad roads.

The F800R has the ergonomics of a proper sportsbike and you may be a bit disappointed if you expected the bike to be extremely comfortable. It is more relaxed than the fiery Benelli though, and the only real irritant was the heated grips, which are easy to switch on by accident and which then end up roasting your fingers.

With its upright seating position and wide handlebars, The TNT 899S’ ergonomics are somewhat similar to the F800R’s. Its three-cylinder engine sounds rough as a coffee grinder when idling, but once on the move, it smoothens out completely and revs fast and hard till it hits the limiter. The gearbox is also all right, though not as smooth as the BMW’s transmission. The Benelli’s brakes, too, require more pressure at the lever and aren’t really as easy to modulate as the BMW’s stoppers.

Pit bull vs sheep? Yes, but the two bikes are also strikingly similar in many ways. Maybe it’s time we put our prejudices – regarding what German and Italian bikes stand for – to rest.

For the original article, visit the Toff magazine website here
Benelli pics via Raptors & Rockets



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