Tuesday, November 02, 2010

2011 Honda CBR600F: First official pics, specs

2011 Honda CBR600F 2011 Honda CBR600F 2011 Honda CBR600F
Yes, we quite like the 2011 Honda CBR600F!
2011 Honda CBR600F 2011 Honda CBR600F 2011 Honda CBR600F

When it was first introduced back in 1987, the Honda CBR600F was a nice, very usable combination of performance and practicality. Successive versions became increasingly focused, choosing to concentrate more on performance and not as much on more mundane concerns like ergonomics, ride comfort and everyday practicality. With the 2003 CBR600RR, the transformation was complete – the CBR600 became a hard-core sportsbike rather than an all-purpose all-rounder.

For 2011, Honda are one again introducing a 600cc sportsbike that actually isn’t a hardcore ‘RR’ model – the CBR600F. Built around Honda’s ‘total control’ concept, the CBR600F has been engineered to provide a combination of near-supersports levels of performance, combined with refinement, practicality and long-distance comfort.

‘The stunning design of the CBR600F will appeal to riders who love the track-bred look of the CBR600RR but cannot justify its unflinching focus on performance,’ says a press release from Honda. ‘And, being based on the hugely versatile chassis and engine package of the CB600F Hornet, the CBR600F will also attract riders who demand comfort from their motorcycle. Because for all its performance and style, the CBR600F is also a desirable bike to own and to live with, offering outstanding reliability and fuel economy,’ it adds.

The 2011 CBR600F is fitted with the 100bhp 599cc inline-four from the Hornet 600, a mono-backbone aluminium chassis, adjustable 41mm USD fork, adjustable monoshock rear suspension, combined-ABS, digital instrumentation and ergonomics designed for all-day use. With Honda’s ‘mass centralisation’ design, the CBR600F is supposed to offer almost perfectly neutral handling so that the bike remains suitable for the occasional trackday.

We quite like the new CBR600F – it looks like a usable, well thought out motorcycle that’s much better than some other recent Honda machines like the overwrought VFR1200F or the 2011 Crossrunner. This one is more like it, Honda, so keep ’em coming!

2011 Honda CBR600F 2011 Honda CBR600F 2011 Honda CBR600F
All right, so it's a Hornet 600 with a fairing, and what's so terrible about that...

Official promo video for the 2011 Honda CBR600F

2011 Honda Crossrunner: First official pics, specs, video

2011 Honda Crossrunner 2011 Honda Crossrunner 2011 Honda Crossrunner 2011 Honda Crossrunner 2011 Honda Crossrunner 2011 Honda Crossrunner
We just don't get the Honda Crossrunner. Yes, it's all nice and smooth and refined and slick, but where's the excitement? We don't know who'd want one of these...

Honda are extending their V4-engined range for 2011, with the Crossrunner, which is fitted with a 782cc V4 engine. ‘The Crossrunner represents the best aspects of two separate biking genres: the flexibility and exciting attitude of a naked performance machine with the upright riding position and rugged appearance of an adventure bike,’ says a press release from Honda.

According to Honda, the Crossrunner has been designed to have the appearance and the image of an adventure bike, but with suspension and ergonomics optimised for street use. So no long travel suspension, tall seat heights or dual-purpose tyres here. On the other hand, the Crossrunner’s V4 engine, with Honda’s VTEC variable valve timing system, has been tuned for smooth, linear and flexible power delivery, which makes the bike easy to use in a wide range of conditions.

The 2011 Honda Crossrunner gets an aluminium alloy twin-spar chassis, 43mm cartridge-type front fork, cast aluminium Pro-Arm swingarm, Pro-Link rising-rate linkage system and gas-charged HMAS damper with adjustable rebound damping – all tuned for optimum ride comfort. Honda’s Combined-ABS is standard fitment on this machine. The fuel tank can take in 21.5 litres of petrol, providing a range of 348km.

So what do we think of the new Crossrunner? Umm... well, it looks smooth, refined and... boring. Honda haven’t quoted any power figures for that 800cc VTEC V4 and when we do finally find out how much power it makes, we don’t expect to be amazed. Also, its dynamic capabilities are likely to be limited, the styling is ordinary and whether you choose to ride on the street or off-road, the bike doesn’t seem to have any special talents. The bike is priced at £9,000 which seems all right, but we don’t really know what to make of the Crossrunner and we don’t know who’d want one...

2011 Honda Crossrunner 2011 Honda Crossrunner 2011 Honda Crossrunner 2011 Honda Crossrunner
"Too big, heavy and ungainly, not focused enough' seems to be a recurring theme for new Honda motorcycles. The 2011 Honda Crossdresser Crossrunner will probably end up as just another middle-of-the-road bike that nobody really cares about...

Official promo video for the 2011 Honda Crossrunner

Monday, November 01, 2010

Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE riding impression

APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE
The most desirable litre-class superbike on the planet? That'd be the 2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC Special Edition. It makes the BMW S1000RR look so last year...   :-D
APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE

Moto-scribe Kevin Ash recently got to ride the 2011 RSV4 Factory APRC SE (Aprilia Performance Ride Control Special Edition), which looks all set to usurp the BMW S1000RR’s ‘hottest, fastest, most technologically advanced production superbike’ crown next year. Maxi Biaggi won the World Superbikes championship aboard one these machines this year and in 2011, Aprilia want to pass on some of the championship winning bike’s DNA to the public. And so we have the all-singing, all-dancing APRC SE version that promises to kick ass. Here are some brief excerpts from what Mr Ash has to say about this bike:

“It’s the sound of the RSV4 first that seduces, a gorgeous angry bubbling with electrifying response to the twistgrip that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The bike is so tiny, it’s hard to remember it’s a one litre machine with 300km/h capability.”

“The electronics will leave you gasping in admiration and adrenalin. The traction control system uses similar parameters to Ducati 1198’s and BMW S1000RR’s, monitoring front and rear wheel speeds, lean angle, acceleration, throttle movement and so on, determining if rear wheel spin is about to occur. The level of intervention can be changed while still riding, from a very safe 8 down to level 1, at which point the back of the bike is drifting, sliding, painting black lines on the track and making the rider look like a superbike god.”

“There are two differences, the first being the Aprilia system’s ability to learn revised parameters when different tyres are fitted. The rider activates this facility manually, then rides the bike for a short distance at a steady speed, and the recalibration is complete. This allows the system to work more effectively with whatever rubber it’s wearing. The second unique factor is that the cut-off point on each of the levels is not a line drawn at a predefined amount of spin. Instead there’s a fuzzy area leading up to this line in which the amount of spin is allowed to increase up to that point, meaning the rider still has a level of throttle control over the spin before the system says enough. In terms of feedback it brings something entirely new to traction control systems and lifts the Aprilia immediately above its BMW and Ducati rivals. The sheer exhilaration of being able safely to tighten the bike’s line while charging out of a turn at ferocious speed by dialing in more back wheel spin leaves you panting with excitement. Take away from the rider? Oh no, this adds a whole new dimension for most of us.”

And that, we suppose, should give you a fair idea of what the new Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE is capable of. In the next few months, we'll find out if the 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R and/or BMW S1000RR will be able to handle the Aprilia onslaught. In the meanwhile, do read Kevin Ash’s full report on the RSV4 Factory APRC SE here

2011 Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE: Tech Specs

Engine: 999cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, DOHC, 16-valve, 65-degree V4
Power: 178bhp@12,250rpm
Torque: 115Nm@10,000rpm
Fuel tank: 17 litres
Transmission: Six-speed, wet clutch, chain final drive
Chassis: Twin spar aluminium
Weight: 179kg dry
Price: £17,000
Available from: November 2010

APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE APRILIA RSV4 FACTORY APRC SE

Aprilia RSV4 Factory Aprilia RSV4 Factory Aprilia RSV4 Factory Aprilia RSV4 Factory Aprilia RSV4 Factory Aprilia RSV4 Factory

Friday, October 29, 2010

Benelli to celebrate 100th Anniversary at the 2010 EICMA

Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary
The legendary Benelli 750 Sei (top, left) from the 1970s, with its six-cylinder engine, and the special edition TNT Century Racer (top, right) that will be unveiled at the EICMA next month...
Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary
Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary

Legendary Italian motorcycle manufacturers, Benelli are celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year and the Pesaro-based company will showcase some new bikes (actually, tweaked versions of its current line-up...) at the EICMA Show next month.

Now owned by a Chinese company, QianJiang, Benelli are looking at developing new scooters and motorcycles, which they hope to put into production over the next two years. The company is also looking improving build quality and will work towards building renewed trust within its dealer network as well as with customers. QianJiang president, Lin Huazhong says 2011 will be a special year for Benelli and that they will celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary in suitable style.

Enthusiasts would definitely remember the 1970s Benelli 750 Sei, the first production streetbike to be fitted with a six-cylinder engine. The Italian company was also quite successful in grand prix racing until a few decades ago, with Dario Ambrosini winning the 250cc class world championship aboard a Benelli in 1950 and Kel Carruthers repeating the feat in 1969.

At the EICMA Show next month, Benelli will unveil special edition ‘Century Racer’ versions of the TNT 899 and TNT 1130, with uprated brakes and suspension, revised engine mapping and new paintjobs. The hard-core Benelli TNT R160 will also get more of the above.

We quite like love Benelli and we hope they’ll do well in the years to come. We wish them all the best. Now, where’s that modern-day equivalent of the 750 Sei, with a 999cc, 210bhp six-cylinder engine...

The 2011 Benelli line-up. Ladies shown in the pictures may not be part of the standard equipment
Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary Benelli 100th Anniversary

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2011 Honda CBR250R: First official pics, specs

2011 Honda CBR250R 2011 Honda CBR250R
You probably wouldn't love it, but it can't be too hard to like the 2011 Honda CBR250R
2011 Honda CBR250R 2011 Honda CBR250R 2011 Honda CBR250R

Honda have released the first official pics and specs for the 2011 CBR250R, an all-new contender in a segment that’s been rather sparsely populated for the last many years. With the demise of two-strokes and the disappearance of great little machines like the Aprilia RS250, Suzuki RGV250, Yamaha TZR250, Kawasaki KR-1 and Honda NSR250, the 250cc class was more or less finished. Only Kawasaki and Hyosung soldiered on, with the Ninja 250R and GTR250 respectively. But now, with the 2011 CBR250R, Honda look all set to bring some new vim and vigour to the 250cc sportsbike segment.

In terms of styling, the new CBR250R is a mini-VFR1200F and works surprisingly well. It’s compact, thoroughly modern, neat and unfussy – we think it’s not bad at all. The engine is a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, 249cc single-cylinder unit with a four-valve DOHC cylinder head. It produces 26 horsepower and 23Nm of torque, which is not too bad at all. Claimed fuel economy is 27km per litre.

The new Honda comes with a six-speed gearbox and a twin-spar steel chassis with 37mm telescopic forks and Honda’s ‘Pro-Link’ monoshock rear suspension. Honda’s C-ABS anti-lock braking system is optional on the CBR250R, which is definitely a good thing, and the bike’s 166-kilo kerb weight should keep things manageable for those who are new to motorcycles and motorcycling.

The Honda CBR250R rides on 17-inch wheels wearing 110/70 (front) and 140/70 (rear) rubber. There’s a single 296mm brake disc up front, with dual-piston calliper, and 220mm rear disc with single-piston calliper. With the optional Combined-ABS, this should offer safe, effective braking in conditions.

Overall, we quite like the new CBR250R. We don’t suppose we’ll ever love it the way we loved the late, great Aprilia RS250 or the Suzuki RGV250, but as a thoroughly modern, contemporary take on the 250cc commuter-sportsbike, the 2011 CBR isn’t all that bad.

Details on pricing and availability coming soon.


Promo video for the 2011 Honda CBR250R
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And this is the the early-1990s Honda CBR250RR. Compare this with the 2011 CBR250R. Progress? A sign of the changing times? A reflection of how things have changed in Japan? Or is it just that younger motorcyclists are getting soft...?!?