Saturday, February 13, 2010

2010 MV Agusta F4 riding impression


The 2010 MV Agusta F4 - minor cosmetic mods only, or is it significantly better than its predecessor? To find out, MotorBox tests the bike at the Almeria circuit in Spain...


We’ve been big fans of the MV Agusta F4, which still looks absolutely gorgeous despite the design being a decade old. The 2010 MV F4 has supposedly been ‘redesigned,’ with sharper edges, new paintjobs and… well, not much else. Still, apart from the Ducati 1198 and Aprilia RSV4, there’s no other fully faired superbike that’s as good looking as the MV.

Now, while the 2010 F4 looks almost the same as its predecessor, is it any different when it comes to actually riding the bike? MotorBox recently tested new F4 and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the machine:

While the new F4 looks almost identical to the old one, MV Agusta really have changed everything – the new bike doesn’t share any parts with the earlier F4. The new bike is more sleek, modern and streamlined than ever. With the new F4, the objective was make it harder-edged, more competitive on the track. And so, MV engineers have shaved 10 kilos off the bike’s weight, which now weighs 192.5kg dry.

The new F4’s steel tube trellis / aluminium beam chassis has been extensively revised and is 1.2kg lighter than the older chassis. With a slightly longer swingarm, the weight distribution now stands at 51.7% front / 48.3%. The inline-four engine’s capacity has been reduced from 1,078cc to 998cc and a new Marelli fuel-injection system, titanium valves and variable-length intake have been fitted. Output is an impressive 186bhp at 12,900rpm and 114Nm of torque at 9,500rpm.

New bits on the F4 include revised instrumentation, Bi-xenon headlamp, recalibrated Brembo brakes with monobloc radial callipers, 50mm USD Marzocchi fork, fully adjustable Sachs shock, handlebars that are wider and set higher than before and, of course, the 18,500 euro price tag.


Old it may be, but the design still looks simply scrumptious...!

On the track, the new F4 is much more nimble and agile than its predecessor, and the front end feels planted and rock solid. Surprisingly, the bike also works quite well on the street – the suspension is able to cope with broken tarmac and small potholes, which means enhanced usability all around. Power delivery from the new 998cc engine is less violent but though the engine is redlined at 13,500rpm, it does run out of breath at around 12,500 revs. Here, it must be said, it’s the higher revving BMW S1000RR that sets the new benchmark…

The new F4 is more manageable in situations that demand a delicate balance between coming on and off the throttle – definitely a plus in fast, high speed corners. The multi-setting traction control system also works well and doesn’t feel invasive – it works subtly, in the background, rather than cutting power abruptly when you’ve applied too much throttle. Brakes, while powerful, could do with more feel. Perhaps a different master cylinder will help…?

Overall, the bike isn’t perfect but is definitely an improvement over its predecessor. Indeed, the new MV Agusta F4 is up to the task of taking on the best in its segment from Europe and Japan.

For the original article, please visit MotorBox


Can there ever be a superbike as glorious, as achingly perfect as the MV Agusta F4...?



Friday, February 12, 2010

Bajaj Auto in talks for KTM buyout


Indian motorcycle manufacturer, Bajaj Auto is expected to hike its stake in KTM to 90%...

Indian motorcycle manufacturer Bajaj Auto, which already has a 30% stake in KTM, is expected to hike its stake to as much as 90% in the near future. While full details on this acquisition are not available yet, Bajaj and KTM are said to be in talks to finalise the deal as soon as possible. Bajaj may either increase its stake in KTM to 90% right away, or may first hike the stake to 51% and then, in a phased manner, up to 90%. Details on the final arrangement are expected to emerge over the next few days.

This deal will give Bajaj a major foothold in the European bike market and also open up avenues for launching bigger sportsbike from the KTM line-up in India, which is the second-largest market in the world for two-wheelers.

Update: After this story appeared on various websites, KTM issued a denial saying that they are not looking at selling out to Bajaj. Things remain unclear, however, and we expect more details to emerge over the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

DJ Sport: Suzuki B-King sidecar outfit from France


The DJ Sport Suzuki B-King sidecar - top marks for sheer style...

If a 106-horsepower sidecar outfit sounds like your kind of thing, you’d probably like this Suzuki B-King rig from France. Made by some company called D.J. Construction (they don’t seem to have a website…), the DJ Sport B-King sidecar features an Öhlins shock at the front.

According to MotoMag, the DJ Sport handles reasonably well, though negotiating left turns is a bit harder than turning right. The vehicle weighs 402 kilos dry and costs 29,314 euros. Well, if nothing else, it’s definitely better than driving a VW Polo… ;-)


Via MotoMag

Wayne Gardner: The Lone Rider


Here's a treat for motorcycle GP racing fans with fond memories of the 1980s. Made in 1986, this is a three-part documentary film on Wayne Gardner, Australian rider who won the 500cc world championship aboard a Honda NSR500 in 1987. It's a great little film - Eddie Lawson, Randy Mamola, Freddie Spencer and even Jeremy Burgess are all there, and some of the race footage is just terrific. Enjoy...



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Alitalia to sponsor Aprilia in World Superbikes

Alitalia Aprilia RSV4 Factory
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Alitalia returns to motorsport sponsorship after two decades, this time on two wheels rather than four. But while the Aprilia RSV4 is a great bike, the legendary Lancia Stratos remains incomparable...

Italy's national airline, Alitalia will be sponsoring Aprilia's world superbikes team this year - the RSV4 bikes ridden by Max Biaggi and Leon Camier will carry the Alitalia livery. Alitalia used to sponsor Lancia and Fiat in the world rally championship in the 1980s and older rally fans are likely to remember the very cool Alitalia race livery used on the iconic Lancia Stratos.

We don't know if Biaggi can still win the WSBK championship, but it sure is good to see Alitalia back in the fast lane. And as for the RSV4, here are more pics of the bike - pics that you'll love!

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The legendary Lancia Stratos, tested by Top Gear. Even the very talented Stig can barely control all that Italian brio...   :-D

Memorable: Buell RR1000 BattleTwin


The late-1980s Buell RR1000 - a path breaking American sportsbike if ever there was one...

A lot has been written about Erik Buell and his motorcycles after Harley-Davidson decided to shut down Buell last year. To be honest, Buell bikes have never really been a part of our (completely imaginary) dream garage, where all the space is taken up by the latest Yamaha R1, Ducati 1198R, MV Agusta F4 1000, BMW S1000RR, Aprilia RSV4, Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZZR1400. Still, we definitely believe Buell made some great, unusual bikes and we wish H-D had given Buell another chance. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – the world of motorcycling is poorer without Buell machines.

But to carry on, we thought we’d take a quick look at one of Buell’s very first production bikes – the RR1000 BattleTwin – which was produced from 1986-1988. Fitted with a 998cc air-cooled OHV V-twin (from the Harley XR1000) that produced 77 horsepower, the RR1000 had a top speed of around 225km/h. The bike cost about US$12,500 when it was launched and, according to a recent story done by Motorcycle Classics, a good, well-maintained example could cost anywhere between US$25,000-50,000 today!

The RR1000 was the first bike to incorporate Erik Buell’s radical ideas on chassis design, including Buell’s patented Uniplanar rubber engine mounts, which permitted the Harley XR engine to be mounted as a fully stressed component of the bike’s tubular steel space frame. The bike was designed around the principles of mass centralisation, chassis rigidity and low unsprung weight. ‘It doesn’t matter what materials you use – whether it’s a tube frame like our earlier bikes, or a fuel-in-frame aluminium one like nowadays – those are the principles that matter,’ says Erik Buell.

‘It was hard starting a manufacturing facility in my barn, especially with no money, but I managed to get 25 firm orders from Harley dealers who wanted to expand their range with a sport bike, and Harley agreed to supply me with motors,’ says Erik Buell, about how he got started with building the BattleTwin. ‘We started production in 1986, and the 25 bikes became 50 in all, each fitted with the 4-speed XR1000 iron engine,’ he adds.


The RR1000 was an intriguing mix of old and new – a thoroughly modern chassis combined with a really old engine and a bulbous, all-enveloping fairing designed to reduce drag. With Buell’s minimalist triangulated chrome-molybdenum tube space frame, car-type muffler positioned underneath the engine (to help with mass centralisation), Marzocchi MlR forks with an electrically operated anti-dive mechanism, and offset monolever with horizontally mounted shock, the focus was on handling. And the BattleTwin – which weighed about 170 kilos – was a quick steering yet stable bike that was a delight to ride at high speeds through flowing turns.

The bike’s wide seat was quite comfortable for a sportsbike and thanks to Buell’s patented Uniplanar engine mounting system, the Harley engine’s vibrations were kept in check. The bike rode on British-made 16-inch Dymag wheels, shod with Pirelli MP-7R rubber. Brakes were 12.2-inch floating discs up front, with four-piston Lockheed Racing callipers, and an 8.7-inch floating disc at the rear.

In terms of handling, the Buell RR1000 was about as good as anything from Europe. It liked to be taken through corners on power and would understeer if you backed off the throttle while leant over in a corner. Powered through with the engine driving hard and you’d be rewarded with positive and neutral handling that made it hard to believe you were on a Harley.

The Buell RR1000 BattleTwin was, perhaps, a machine ahead of its time – maybe America wasn’t really ready for such an innovative, path breaking machine back in the late-1980s. But to his credit, Erik Buell did go on to make many more bikes and for a quarter of a century, Buells were the only truly American sportsbikes you could buy. We can only wonder what may have been, had Harley-Davidson decided to give Buell another chance instead of shutting it down.

This article is based on excerpts taken from a story done by Motorcycle Classics and some of the pics used here are from Flickr


In its own eccentric way, the Buell RR1000 BattleTwin looks very cool...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

2010 BMW R1200RT riding impression


The 2010 BMW R1200RT - not the most powerful touring bike in the world, but perhaps one that offers a great balance of everything and one that's fun to ride...

Maybe it’s a sign that old age is gradually, inevitably creeping upon us, but of late we’re beginning to rather like the BMW R1200RT. Oh, sure, we’d still have an R1 or a 1198R for those short Sunday morning blasts, but for really long rides, the idea of something like the R1200RT sounds rather good. Apparently, we’re not the only ones who appreciate the big BMW; the guys at MotorBox recently had the opportunity to sample the 2010-spec RT, and here are some excerpts from what they have to say about the bike:

The most important change on the 2010 R1200RT is that the 1,170cc boxer-twin engine now incorporates the DOHC cylinder heads from the HP2 Sport, which results in improved power delivery and better overall engine performance. While the power output remains unchanged (110bhp), torque has gone up from 115 to 120Nm at 6,000rpm. And thanks to a new exhaust valve, the power is now spread over a wider rev range, making the bike more usable.

The R1200RT’s styling hasn’t changed, though the electrically adjustable windshield has been further optimised for better wind protection and noise reduction. Also, the headlight beams are now remote adjustable and the instrument cluster has been completely revised – it now looks similar to the instrumentation you might find on some BMW cars and is much more comprehensive and readable . You even get a car-style multi-controller (the two-wheeler equivalent of BMW cars’ i-Drive system) and instead of a CD-player, the bike gets a new digital music player with USB connectivity, which plays MP3s and which can be hooked up to your iPod. The list of optional extras includes traction control, electronically adjustable suspension, tyre pressure monitor, a lower seat, bigger luggage cases and much, much more.



While it does cost a bit more than 17,000 euros, a bike like the BMW R1200RT really can be a life changing tool if you travel long distances regularly. With its heated handgrips and saddle, excellent weather protection and very comfortable riding position, this is one bike that you’ll happily continue to use, almost regardless of the weather.

On the move, the new engine is less noisy than the one on the earlier RT, and provides better, stronger acceleration even with two people and their luggage on board. With its higher rev limit and stronger power delivery, the engine makes overtaking manoeuvres easier, though of course it’s still not comparable to some other touring-oriented bikes that are fitted with bigger four-cylinder engines. However, the R1200RT is a very ‘balanced’ machine that’s good for covering long distances at a fair clip and that also remains fun to ride.

Overall, the highway is definitely the BMW R1200RT’s home. With great weather protection from that height adjustable windscreen, adjustable suspension that works very well and the more refined engine, it’s almost impossible to not like the bike.

For the original article, please visit MotorBox


And here's what MCN have to say about the 2010 R1200RT...

While the R1200RT is great for touring, the 190bhp S1000RR would be hard to beat for getting that sheer adrenaline rush. Especially if you're riding the bike on ice...! :-D

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