Tuesday, November 09, 2010
MV Agusta’s brand-new middleweight sportsbike, the 675cc three-cylinder F3, was recently voted the ‘best bike’ at the 2010 EICMA Show. In a poll conducted by Motociclismo, where 12,000 people who attended the EICMA participated, a massive 38.5% voted for the MV F3, followed by 20.6% for the Ducati Diavel, 8.5% for the new Kawasaki ZX-10R, 5.2% for the Aprilia Dorsoduro 1200, 4.8% for the Triumph Tiger 800XC, 4.5% for the BMW K1600GT, 3.4% for the Moto Guzzi V7 Racer, 3.3% for the Yamaha Super Ténéré XT1200Z, 3.2% for the Honda Crossrunner, 3.0% for the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, 2.5% for the Husqvarna TE449, 2.1% for the Suzuki GSR750 and 0.4% for the Derbi GPR 125.
If we had to choose the ‘best’ bike from the ones shown at this year’s EICMA in Milan, it would have to be the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE, followed by the new ZX-10R. But had BMW done a naked K1600R instead of that GT, things might have been different...! :-)
The arrival of four-stroke Honda-powered 600cc Moto2 machines meant the demise of the much-loved two-stroke 250cc class. However, 250s will be back after all, in 2012. No, those old two-stroke 250s are history. This time around, it will be single-cylinder four-stroke 250s in the new Moto3 class, which will replace 125cc two-strokes in 2012. And with that, two-strokes will be well and truly dead – the world will only be left with four-stroke motorcycle engines. More or less.
The FIM recently released final specs for the Moto3 class, which will take off in 2012. The rules say that Moto3 machines will all be fitted with normally-aspirated (no turbos, no superchargers) single-cylinder 250cc engines that can rev to a maximum of 14,000rpm. No oval pistons, a maximum bore size of 81mm, a maximum of four valves (pneumatic and/or hydraulic valve systems not permitted, variable valve timing not permitted) and a price not exceeding 12,000 euros for each engine.
Unlike Moto2, where only Honda supply engines to all teams, Moto3 teams will be able to source their engines from various manufacturers, though each Moto3 engine manufacturer would be required to be able to supply sufficient engines and spare parts to a minimum of 15 riders per season, if requested. The gearbox can’t have more than six speeds and electro-mechanical or electro-hydraulic clutch actuating systems are not permitted. Also, for the engine, only the ignition/fuel-injection control units (ECU) approved by the series organiser will be allowed.
As is the case with Moto2, Moto3 teams will be able to use a ‘prototype’ chassis, the design and construction of which will be free (within the specified constraints of the FIM Grand Prix technical regulations), and minimum total weight for each motorcycle + rider is 148kg. There are various other constraints for the bikes – no carbon brakes, no carbon wheels, no active or semi-active suspension, only a certain number of tyres per race and use of iron and cast aluminium alloys for most engine parts. And the number of engines that a rider can use up during a season is limited to eight.
The above isn’t a comprehensive listing of Moto3 rules and regulations, but should still provide a fair idea of what the machines will be like. According to some estimates, Moto3 engines will produce around 45-50bhp, which should be interesting since minimum weight for bike + rider is 148 kilos. Of course, in terms of outright speed and acceleration, Moto3 bikes definitely wouldn’t be comparable to the late, great two-stroke 250cc GP racers. Still, we suppose the new Moto3 class does make more sense than 125cc two-strokes and will have hordes of teams signing up for the 2012 season.
Monday, November 08, 2010
The Vespa scooter, having featured in prominent roles in dozens of movies over the last half century, is a full-blown movie star in its own right...
‘The Vespa and the Movies’ exhibition is now open at the Piaggio Museum in Pontedera, in Italy. An initiative of the Piaggio Foundation, organised jointly with the Cinema Multimedia Centre and Viareggio EuropaCinema, the exhibition celebrates the links between cinema and the world’s most famous scooter. ‘Today, after more than sixty years, the Vespa is the worldwide symbol of Italian creativity and a unique example of ‘immortality’ in the history of industrial design,’ says Piaggio Group Chairman and CEO, Roberto Colaninno, in the introduction to the exhibition catalogue. ‘The Vespa is no longer just a product of the world of transport, it is the story of a phenomenon-symbol of global mores, and the images exhibited at the Piaggio Museum offer a fascinating journey through films, advertisements, photographs and posters, in the company of a legend without equals,’ he adds.
Entry to the exhibition in the Piaggio Museum is free. It will be open to the public until 15 January 2011, retracing the origins and development of the Vespa-Cinema binomial through a large selection of material including a collection of more than 150 posters of cult movies starring the Vespa and an assortment of styles, colours and moods synthesised by the exhibition poster, designed by painter and sculptor Ugo Nespolo.
The Vespa made its movie debut back in 1950, four years after its market launch, in the Italian film ‘Sunday in August’ and became an iconic symbol worldwide after the 1953 movie ‘Roman Holiday,’ which featured the celebrated sequence where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck weave their way through traffic in the city of Rome, on a Vespa 125. Other stars who’ve ridden a Vespa in their movies include Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Raquel Welch, Ursula Andress, Milla Jovovich, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, Antonio Banderas, Matt Damon, Gérard Depardieu, Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson and many others.
For more information, visit the official La Vespa e il Cinema website here and for even more Vespas in even more movies, go here
The Vespa is still going strong in 2011. More about that here
After seven years with Yamaha, during which he won four MotoGP world championships aboard the YZR-M1, Valentino ‘The Doctor’ Rossi has said goodbye to the Japanese team, as he prepared to move to Ducati in 2011. ‘Arriving on the podium was my way to say thank you to my bike, to Yamaha and to all the people who have worked with me in these seven seasons,’ said Rossi after the Grand Prix of Valencia yesterday. ‘It's been a great experience and I have enjoyed it so much. 46 is a great number of wins. Of course, I wanted more, but I think I can be happy with what I have done here. It's been a wonderful seven years, great fun, with a special atmosphere, many fantastic victories and four world championships. I stopped with my bike after the race today, just like I did at Welkom when this story began. It was the right way to say goodbye to ‘her.’ Thank you to everyone, we have wonderful memories,’ The Doctor added.
‘In 2004, Valentino was the only one who could win on the YZR-M1 so he contributed a lot to developing the bike. This year, not only Valentino but also three other riders were fast, so it's clear that our YZR-M1 is a pretty good bike. This is mainly because of Valentino's contributions over the years so I really appreciate that and I want to wish him all the best in the future,’ added Masao Furusawa.
‘We are very, very grateful because Valentino's arrival really turned things around for Yamaha and we came back to victorious ways. We are incredibly thankful and grateful to him for that. We've had so many exciting and enjoyable moments with him and with the crew that he brought with him, who are great guys. Today we will be saying goodbye to a great number of people including Davide Brivio, Jerry Burgess and the whole crew. We've had a super time, it's been a really excellent team and we will miss them tomorrow, it will be a strange day,’ said Lin Jarvis.
Next year, for The Doctor, it will be 2004 all over again, as he gets to grips with a new bike at Ducati. This time around, though, he’ll be all of seven years older and he’ll have younger, hungrier competition to deal with. Can Rossi do it all over again? Can he win yet another MotoGP world championship, this time with Ducati? We’re sure he can. We’re sure he will. And we wish him all the best!
The Doctor talks about the evolution of the YZR-M1...
Video via Les Misanthropes Deux
Saturday, November 06, 2010
'Rocket' Ron Haslam has ridden everything from two-stroke 500cc GP bikes to big four-strokes and even the rotary-engined Norton F1. His opinion of the VFR1200F should certainly count for something...
Younger readers of Faster and Faster, the ones who don’t remember a certain Grand Prix racer with the initials ‘RH’ on his helmet, might ask who exactly is Ron Haslam. Oh, well, he’s a British rider who used to race in 500cc GPs, right alongside the likes of men like Kevin Schwantz and Freddie Spencer. He’s raced everything from big four-strokes to 500cc two-strokes and even the rotary-engined Norton F1. And before his exploits in the GPs, Haslam also won the Formula 1 TT at the Isle of Man in 1982. So, yes, Rocket Ron knows a thing or two about going very, very fast on motorcycles.
Ron rode the original Honda VFR750 during the Transatlantic races in the mid-1980s. So for their November 2010 issue, the UK-based Bike magazine got him to ride a VFR1200F and asked for his opinion of the bike. Here are some brief excerpts from what The Rocket has to say about the new V4-engined Honda:
“I’m so impressed by the handling, the stability and the turning. Touring bikes tend to sit on the back end and just push the front, but the VFR doesn’t. You put this into a corner and it tracks around nicely, right where you put it. That was the first shock for me, that it steers more like a sportsbike than a tourer.”
“There’s loads of torque, loads of midrange and that gives a big wide rev counter to play with. I found I could power it up to where the back wheel spins, with my knee on the floor, through corners. And it was controllable – it wasn’t a touring bike that bounces and jumps about all over the place – it just kept its line and kept going. So that was the second surprise for me. I was, like, “Wow, this thing is really good!””
While Rocket Ron was impressed with the VFR1200, he did ultimately find it a bit soft, with the exhaust touching down when the bike was pushed really hard. The other thing he didn’t like very much was the VFR’s ABS-equipped brakes, saying that he liked the Fireblade’s C-ABS setup much better. “When I pulled the brake really hard, the ABS would come in early and release so hard, the forks would rebound. It’s more safety-type ABS than the CBR’s sportsbike stuff,” said Ron.
When asked what changes he’d want on his VFR1200F if he had to ride one on the track, Ron asks for more ground clearance, an exhaust system that doesn’t get in the way while cornering hard and a stiffer rear shock. That, and ditch the ABS.
So there you are, the legendary Rocket Ron is quite all right with the VFR1200’s engine and handling and would only ask for changes to be made to the bike when he’s riding it on the track, at the absolute limit. So how bad can the VFR be for the rest of us…?
These excerpts are from the November 2010 issue of Bike magazine. It is, in our opinion, the best motorcycle magazine in the world and you could subscribe to it here
The 2011 Tiger 800 and the more off-road-oriented 800XC are Triumph’s first foray into the middleweight ‘adventure’ bike segment. The bikes are fitted with a 799cc three-cylinder engine that produces 94bhp and 79Nm of torque, switchable ABS and 19-inch (Tiger 800) and 21-inch (Tiger 800XC) front wheels. The bike also feature adjustable seat height and handlebar position, coded key immobiliser for added security and a 550w generator that allows fitment of multiple electrical accessories.
The Tiger 800 features a chassis made of steel and Triumph claim the bike is capable of carrying large amounts of luggage and is equally capable on-road and off. With 17-inch (rear) and 19-inch (front) wheels, the bike can take a range of street- and dirt-oriented rubber, depending on intended use. The Tiger’s 19-litre fuel tank also ensures that the bike doesn’t need frequent refuelling.
Other bits on the Triumph Tiger 800 include a 43mm Showa USD fork, twin 308mm floating brake discs at the front (with two-piston floating callipers), switchable ABS (optional), trip computer and optional GPS navigation system. Bash plates, hand guards, extra lights and a range of hard and soft luggage are also on the options list. The bike weighs 210 kilos with a full tank of fuel.
The Triumph Tiger 800XC, which is more off-road-oriented than the Tiger 800, is fitted with a 45mm USD fork, 21-inch front wheel, dirt-spec rubber, high-level front mudguard and hand guards. An adjustable touring screen, centre stand and off-road style engine protection bars and sump guard are all on the options list. With its long-travel suspension optimised for off-road use, the Tiger 800XC is the bet for those with ‘Long Way Round’ type of adventure ambitions.
We don’t find the Tiger particularly exciting, though we’re sure these are practical, useful bikes that will have no dearth of buyers. The Tiger 800 / 800XC are expected to cost US$10,000 - 12,000, depending on the options (ABS, panniers etc.) you choose.
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