Monday, January 11, 2010
Remember the early-1990s Ducati Supermono? Light, fast, exotic and because it was so expensive, simply inaccessible to most people, the Supermono was powered by a high-tech 549cc engine that made 75bhp. With its 118-kilo kerb weight, the ’Mono still managed to hit a top speed of 225km/h and according to those who’ve ridden one, it handled like a proper racebike.
Now, while Ducati made the last Supermono back in 1996, there still seems to be no dearth of enthusiasts who want a modern-day interpretation of the iconic original. Take 23-year-old Dan, for example, who sent us his artist’s impression of what he calls the Ducati 599 Mono, which is supposed to have a single-cylinder engine rather than the usual Bolognese v-twin.
Based in Sydney, Australia, Dan has a degree in Industrial Design and loves motorcycles. He currently rides a Ducati Pantah 600 which he’s restored himself and which he says is a lovely (if slow!) old bike.
‘I’ve had the idea of a sporting single in my head for a while now, and really wanted a Ducati 450 single when I was younger. Ducati have a really strong tradition of single-cylinder sportsbikes so I decided to capitalise on that heritage using the technology developed in Terblanche’s Supermono project, which never became a road-legal bike, although beautiful road–legal replicas are now being made,’ says Dan. ‘I just really like the idea of a sporting single in terms of a weekend ‘scratcher.’ Realistic power output in a light chassis just sounds so much fun! Clearly it’s something manufacturers are thinking about with the KTM RC4 being recently leaked and many riders are so enthusiastic about the proposal,’ he adds.
‘Ducati, compared to the Japanese Big Four, clearly chase different markets, which is reflected in their design. I’ve always liked the styling of Ducatis – Tamburini’s 916 is a masterpiece – to make something regarded as beautiful by almost the entire motorcycling community is rare,’ said Dan when we asked him about what he thinks of Japanese vs Italian motorcycle design.
‘The styling of the 999 probably pushed a bit too hard and so alienated a lot of riders. I think the 1098 is a reaction to that; it’s certainly a lot more conservative than the 916 and 999 and more ‘Japanese’ in many ways. It’s very inoffensive and has been selling like hot cakes, which is good for the company’s bottom line but perhaps not so good for setting new standards in motorcycle design as did the 916 in 1994,’ concludes Dan.
Well, we certainly like the 599 Mono concept and we hope someday Ducati will revive the old Supermono and actually build something on the lines of Dan’s 599 Mono.
Those who wish to get in touch with Dan can write to him on firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In an interview with Motociclismo, Claudio Castiglioni (President - MV Agusta) has said that he believes the speed limits on Italy’s roads should be increased to 180km/h, since modern sportsbikes are perfectly capable of travelling at that speed in perfect safety.
The Italian government is already said to be studying the possibility of increasing the speed limits on Italy’s highways (the current speed limit is 150km/h), and Castiglioni says he wholeheartedly supports the idea. However, he adds that speed limits in towns and surrounding areas should be strictly enforced, and higher speeds should only be permitted on the highways.
‘On our highway network, there are some areas with very little traffic, where going at 170-180km/h would absolutely not be a problem,’ says Castiglioni, adding that higher speed limits may actually help, since those would allow riders to focus on their riding, rather than thinking about losing points on their license and having to pay hefty fines.
With a bike like the F4 CC to his name, we suppose Mr Castiglioni would support higher speed limits. But we’d like to know what’s your take on this – please use the comments form to tell us about your views on the subject!
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Mark Cernicky of Cycle World had an opportunity to test ride 2009 World Superbikes champ Ben Spies’ Yamaha R1 racebike, at the Autodromo do Algarve circuit in Portimão, Portugal. Here are some excerpts from what he has to say about the championship winning bike:
Standing in Spies' pit, I couldn't take my eyes off his blue, black and white R1. The Italian-milk-backed bike is beautiful, with carbon-fiber bodywork, Brembo Monobloc brakes and Öhlins suspension among its alluring attributes.
As I chugged down pit lane, the engine sounded like it was broken, with a lot of rattling near my ankles. Turns out, it was just exhaust back pressure reverberating through the large mid-pipe routed right behind the rearsets. I changed gears and rolled open the throttle to begin my first lap around the 2.9-mile, 15-turn circuit. Escalating engine revs were accompanied by a marvellous sound from the Akrapovic muffler.
Magneti Marelli electronics, common to many front-running Superbikes, allow wide-open shift action that, in this particular case, was remarkably positive. Corner exits were never slowed by electronic interruptions that might upset the chassis. Maybe my 30-plus laps around the circuit helped me to push my limits on this bike but the edge of control was more recognizable than on, say, Ruben Xaus' factory BMW S1000RR.
From my perspective, Spies' R1 wasn't the fastest machine down Algarve's long front straightaway, but its crossplane-crankshaft engine had more torque than I ever imagined could be derived from an inline-four. Compared with the Yamaha of Noriyuki Haga that I rode last year in Portugal, Spies' R1 felt less front-end biased. With more weight focused over the rear of the bike, Spies' bike felt light and lively up front. That, combined with light steering-damper resistance, allowed the Yamaha to shake its head under hard acceleration, reminding me to keep a loose grip on the bars and plenty of weight over the front tire. Feedback while braking was amazing and I could make aggressive steering inputs with pinpoint accuracy…
For the full story and video, please visit Cycle World
Ben Spies on how to ride like Ben Spies...
Mat Mladin says Ben Spies is the best motorcycle racer right now. Yes, as good as Rossi...
Mat Mladin says Ben Spies is the best motorcycle racer right now. Yes, as good as Rossi...
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The Motorcycle Design Association (set up in 2001 by Glynn Kerr and Francois-Marie Dumas) has announced the winner of its 2009 Motorcycle Design Trophy, which goes to the three Moto Guzzi concept bikes that were unveiled at this year’s EICMA Show in Italy.
The three Moto Guzzi bikes – the V12 Le Mans, V12 Strada and V12 X – were penned by a team of designers headed by the redoubtable Pierre Terblanche. The other bikes that were ‘highly recommended’ by members of the MDA include the BMW S1000RR and Concept 6, Aprilia RSV4 and KTM 125 concepts.
More details on the MDA and their awards here
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Fitted with a single-cylinder 690cc engine that pumps out 70 horsepower, the 690 Duke R isn’t exactly the most glamorous motorcycle in the KTM line-up, but it could well be one of the most fun-to-ride bikes anywhere. With its light weight (148kg dry), high-spec suspension and slick six-speed gearbox, the little KTM is lean, lithe and sporty. Motociclismo recently had the opportunity to test the bike and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the baby KTM:
The first KTM Duke 620 was launched back in 1994, primarily to meet the demand for such a bike in France, where some riders had already started to convert their motocross bikes into supermotards. The first Duke was one of the best performing bikes in its class, something which still holds true today for the latest 690 Duke.
With the 1999 Duke II, the 2008 690 Duke and the 2010 690 Duke R, the bike has become increasingly capable on the street and the newest model also looks strikingly beautiful. KTM uses a somewhat similar recipe with all its ‘R’ models – a slight increase in engine performance, uprated brake and suspension components and, of course, that black-white-and-orange paintjob.
On the twisty Alpine roads on the outskirts of Nice, in France, the 690 Duke R immediately feels very light and easy to ride. And it’s not just very agile – it’s also very stable. With its stiff steel tube trellis frame, cast aluminium swingarm and uprated front fork, the Duke R stays quite planted even at its top speed of around 200km/h.
On bumpy roads with small patches of snow and ice, the Duke R doesn’t lose its composure even at higher speeds. The brakes, too, work very well – the single 320mm disc with Brembo radial-mount four-piston callipers at the front, and 240mm rear disc offer so much stopping power that you actually need some time to get used to these brakes.
The bike is comfortable to ride and the wide handlebars give you a lot of space to move around. If it weren’t for the lack of wind protection, you could actually use this bike for long distance trips.
For the Duke R, KTM have increased the displacement of their single-cylinder engine from 654cc to 690cc and power output has gone up from 65bhp to 70bhp. And yes, you can feel the difference – the new bike feels more responsive than the basic 690 Duke. There’s still not much power up to 2,000rpm but things are perfect once you cross that figure. The engine feels stronger and more rev-happy than you’d expect a single-cylinder engine to be, and it doesn’t vibrate much either. Honestly, you just can’t ask more of a machine with a 690cc single-cylinder engine!
The 690 Duke R costs 8,890 euros (a mere 300 euros more than the standard 690 Duke) and will be available in March 2010.
2010 KTM 690 Duke R: Tech Specs
Engine: Fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 690cc
Suspension: 48mm USD fork, monoshock, both three-way adjustable
Brakes: Single 320mm disc with four-piston radial-mount callipers (front), 240mm rear disc
Tyres: 120/70-17 (front), 160/60-17 (rear)
Fuel tank: 13.5L
Dry weight: 148kg
A video of the KTM 690 Duke R. Yes, the bike looks good...
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Though it's 5kg heavier than the Factory, the Aprilia RSV4 R still has the same 180bhp V4 engine and ride-by-wire electronics. How bad can it be...
For those who can live with Showa/Sachs (instead of Ohlins) suspension, aluminium (instead of magnesium) components, plastic (instead of carbonfibre) parts in the bodywork, and a non-adjustable chassis (instead of one that allows you to change the swingarm’s pivot point, steering head angle and even the engine position…), the Aprilia RSV4 R is probably a brilliant deal. You still get the same sharp styling, the same 180bhp V4 engine, and the same ride-by-wire electronics as the higher-spec RSV4 Factory, but at a price that’s about 25% lower.
MotorBox recently had the opportunity to test ride the RSV4 R at the Estoril circuit, in Portugal, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the bike:
Aprilia aim to sell around 2,000 units of the RSV4 in Europe in 2010, so launching a ‘cheaper’ version of the RSV4 Factory was probably a must, in order to achieve those sales figures. And for Aprilia fans who want a bike that can work on the track as well as on the street, the RSV4 R is just great, because it still retains most of the best bits of the Factory version.
The R version’s 65-degree V4 remains unchanged and still produces the full 180bhp at 12,500rpm – the same as the RSV4 Factory. Dual injectors per cylinder, 48mm throttle bodies, ride-by-wire electronics, and tri-mode mapping – it’s all there. And while the chassis doesn’t permit you to change the engine’s position or alter the swingarm pivot, it’s still beautifully finished, and the 43mm Showa fork and Sachs shock are fully adjustable.
At 184kg dry, the RSV4 R is 5kg heavier than the Factory, but that makes little difference to the bike’s performance. With Aprilia’s own test riders on board, the RSV4 R laps the Mugello circuit within a few 10ths of a second of the Factory’s lap times. The R’s very ‘front-endy’ riding position is also similar to the Factory’s, though in real-world riding the Factory feels a bit more ‘edgy’ and aggressive, responding to the rider’s inputs with a tad more urgency.
A lot of people may actually like the RSV4 R more than the Factory, since the former is more street-friendly, while the latter is definitely a bit more track-oriented. The two bikes have their own unique personalities – the R is a bit more stable under hard braking while the Factory accelerates out of corners harder.
In the end, the Factory is a ferret and in terms of handling, remains the absolute benchmark in its segment. The RSV4 Factory is small, slim and compact, changes direction very quickly and often feels like a 600 in the way it handles. The R model makes you work a bit harder to go as fast, but ultimately the R is also a bit easier to control than the rather more explosive Factory.
The BMW S1000RR might be bit more powerful, but the Aprilia’s V4 sounds fantastic and goes very, very hard. It also delivers its power across a wide rev range, though the Factory’s engine is happy revving all the way up to 14,000rpm while the R’s engine stops a few hundred revs before that.
Coming to the two bikes’ ride-by-wire electronics, the R’s electronics seem to work a bit better than the Factory’s, which is understandable since Aprilia have had a few months to fine-tune and optimise the system. The R’s V4 is blessed with perfect fuel-injection and even its gearbox feels just a bit smoother than the Factory’s. The only thing we’d like changed is low-rpm response in ‘Track’ mode, which is currently a bit too aggressive. Milder response in the first quarter opening of the throttle would probably work better.
Finally, the RSV4 R’s strength lies in the disarming simplicity with which it allows you to go so fast. That V4 makes a scary amount of power, but Aprilia have managed to engineer a package that lets you actually use all that power rather. The RSV4 R is bike that’s perfectly balanced – focused on performance and yet easy to ride – and as a package, it works very well indeed. This was Japanese litre-bike territory at one time, but Aprilia engineers have produced a bike that’s ready to take on the world’s best!
Here are some pics of the Aprilia RSV4, which you'll probably like very much... ;-)
And here, from Gizmag, is a very comprehensive road test video of the Aprilia RSV4 R
More RSV4 R action...
For the original article, please visit the MotorBox website here
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